Benjamin Franklin "Ben" Fertich and Dorothy Mae Herring
circa 1920
circa 1923
Ben - circa 1928
circa 1935
Ben and Dorothy
circa 1940
Ben and Dorothy's first house
East (left) half, 202 Lavelle Road in Lavelle
Garage that Ben built in rear of
house at 202 Lavelle Road
Ben and Dorothy's cabin near Dansville
Ben and Dorothy's second house
2870 Sunbury Road in Lavelle

Benjamin Franklin "Ben" Fertich was born on May 9, 1917 in Lavelle, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, the only son of Charles Henry Fertich and Christiana Elizabeth "Christie" Eister1.  Charles named Ben after his father Benjamin Franklin, who had died when Charles was only 18 months old.  Ben was raised in his parent's two-story frame house located at 506 Main Street in Lavelle2,3,4.
Ben was not tardy or absent from even one day of school from 1926 to 19305.  He graduated from grammar school in Lavelle on June 19, 19315.  He went on to graduate from Ashland High School on June 10, 19355.  Ben was nicknamed "Sticks" due to his thin build4.  He was six feet, one inch tall, 120 pounds and had a 22 inch waist at the time of his marriage4.
Ben married Dorothy Mae "Dot" Herring on July 27, 1940, at the Evangelical Congregational Church parsonage in Pitman, Schuylkill County by Reverend Bergman4,10. The best man was Paul Herring and the maid of honor was Miriam Herring10.  Dorothy was the daughter of Clarence Wayne Herring and Katie Elizabeth "Lizzie" Deitrich, born on May 27, 1920 in Pitman4 At the time of their marriage, Dorothy had already saved $20, while Ben was not able to save any money4.  He did not even have enough money to buy a suit for the wedding4 Ben and Dorothy had three sons and a daughter together4.
Dorothy could only speak Pennsylvania Dutch up until the time she started attending school4.  Her parents could speak English, but preferred to talk Pennsylvania Dutch around the house4. Dorothy’s grandmother spoke very little English and thought that there was no need for Dorothy to learn English4.  Dorothy's father paid $600 for his first tractor in 19496.  Before that time, he had two work horses, named Charlie and Ned6
Dorothy had only one brother, and since she was the oldest girl, she helped a lot with farm duties4 At the age of 16, Dorothy would harness up Charlie and Ned to plow the fields with an old iron plow all by herself4  She gave commands to the horses while speaking Pennsylvania Dutch4. She would say “Will Haul” and “Will Hey” to get the horses to turn to the left and right4. She also drove the pickup truck around the farm4.
After Ben and Dorothy had married, Dorothy had moved in with Ben and his mother since finances were tight4.  After about three months, Dorothy went back to live with her parents4.  In 1942, Ben and Dorothy began renting a house at 436 Lavelle Road in Lavelle4.
Later in 1942, Ben and Dorothy purchased their first home located at 202 Lavelle Road4.  They lived in the east half of the double house4.  Ben and Dorothy had to borrow $2000 to purchase the house4.  Something fell through on the loan, so Dorothy had to borrow $2000 from her father4.  This house was built from an old torn down skating rink in Mahanoy City or Girardsville7.  The double house next to it and the single house across the street were also built from the same skating rink7 The house had electricity, but no running water6.  They had a outhouse in the back of the yard7.  It would get cleaned out occasionally for $0.50 per five gallon bucket7.  They each had buckets to take care of business at night, so they didn’t need to run outside in the cold7.  They had a windless well in which you lowered and raised a bucket with a hoist to draw water4,7.  They did not get running water and indoor plumbing until the 1960's7.  They used a coal stove to heat the house7.  The phone number was 720-J27
In 1945, Ben was drafted to serve in the Navy during World War II4.  He passed his military service test and was ready for combat, when his fourth child was born4.  Since he then had four children, it disqualified him from the draft and he did not have to serve military duty4.
Ben's first job was working as a coal miner down in the mines4.  Ben only earned $8 per week, which couldn't even pay to feed himself4,8.  Therefore, in 1947, Dorothy had to go to work in the Mount Carmel Fashion factory in Mount Carmel4,8.  Her income of $0.35 per hour was used to pay the $2,000 loan off for the house4,8.  Ben's mother, Christie, watched the children while Dorothy was at work4,8.
Ben also owned a trucking business hauling coal7 He was a contractor that hauled coal from the mines to the colliery or breaker7.  The truck he owned was a late 1930’s model , 4-ton, single axle, Federal dump truck7.   In 1946, he purchased a brand new Diamond T dump truck to continue hauling coal until about 19507.  In the early 1950’s, he hired some workers to haul the coal for him7.  The business was ended when it became unprofitable due to the high maintenance expenses of the truck7.
Ben started working in Sunbury for the Pennsylvania Railroad as a brakeman in 19536,7 He was an “extra board”  employee which meant that he was given short notice to work different shifts at various locations in the coal regions area7.  He mostly focused on short railroad runs to different mines to load coal7.  In 1954, he was furloughed from the railroad and he returned to the coal mines4,6,7.  A year and a half later in 1955, he was called back to the railroad4,6,7 Ben worked his way up to become a conductor for Conrail and was in charge of a freight line between Philadelphia and Pottsville6,7.  He retired from the railroad industry in 19801,6,7.
In their early years, the only vehicle that Ben and Dorothy had was the dump truck which was used to haul coal7.  Their first car was a 1936 Plymouth7.  In 1948, Ben purchased a 1947 Chevy two door7.  The family never went on vacation anywhere, but they did take many Sunday trips to Beaver and Hunter Lakes in Sullivan County to go swimming and fishing7.
In 1960, Ben built a two story, two car garage in the rear of his house at 202 Lavelle Road7 The first floor was a garage and the second floor was his woodworking shop7.  He constructed the building from scrap lumber he obtained from an old railroad office building7.  He paid $1 for the old office building and he had to completely tear down the building to get the lumber7.
Around 1969, Ben and his sons built a cabin along the Eastern bank of the Susquehanna River7.  The cabin was located approximately three miles west of Danville, at the mouth of Kipps Run7.  Ben and his sons built the cabin from scrap lumber7.  A new road was built through Shamokin7.  Ben arranged a deal in which he would tear down eight houses along one side of the street in exchange for the lumber7.  He ended up tearing down seven of the houses and burning one because it was infested with termites7.  He used the choicest lumber from the seven remaining homes to build the cabin7.  The cabin was sided with aluminum siding and had drywall on the inside, which covered all of the used lumber7.  Ben had invested a total of $5,100 into the property, including the cabin, well, septic, electric heat and the lot7.
The flood of 1972 flooded the cabin up to one foot from the ceiling4.  They had six inches of mud throughout the first floor4.  When the flood waters were rising, one of Ben's sons swam out in the swift current of the river to secure a boat4.  The cabin was severely damaged4.  A hole was cut into the floor and the fire company cleaned out the mud by hosing down the walls and floor into the hole7.  The insulation, drywall and flooring needed to be replaced7.  Ben did not have any flood insurance, but a government grant paid for the rebuilding expenses7.
In 1974, Ben and Dorothy had a ranch house built at 2870 Sunbury Road on the south side of Lavelle4.  Ben finished the walkout basement himself, which included a full kitchen and bathroom4.
In 1975, they sold the cabin after the repairs were made for $20,000, almost four times the amount of money that was invested into the property4.  It was raining on the day of settlement7.  By the time that the rain had stopped, the cabin got flooded again by a second major flood with water 20 inches above the first floor4,7.  This time however, the new owners had to deal with the damages4,7.
Ben enjoyed woodworking, hunting and fishing for hobbies4,7.  He handcrafted a deacon's bench for each of his nine grandchildren7 He got the material to make the benches for free7.  He was able to get a pickup load of the lumber from a company in Hamburg, that was giving it away for firewood7 He also built blue Conrail cabooses, birdhouses, an entertainment center and a grandfather clock4,7
Ben's deer rifle was a Remington Model 722, 0.300 Savage bolt action7.  He shot two nice whitetail bucks during his lifetime, one 6-point buck and one nice symmetric 8-point buck with a 16 inch spread in 19637.  He also like small game hunting7.  Ben could not swim at all, but he still loved to go boating in deep water on lakes and the Susquehanna River4,7.  He fished in the river for carp and also in the local streams for trout7.
He was a member of the Lavelle Fire Company and Senior Citizens of Ashland1.  Ben and Dorothy both attended the Christ Evangelical Congregational Church in Lavelle1,7.  Ben would always clearly pronounce the letter “t” in his words7.  For example, he would say the words “little bottle” just like they are spelled with the “t” sound, rather than the “d” sound which is typically heard from most people7.
Ben was informed that he had lung cancer in 19814.  He passed away two years later on May 14, 1983 in the Ashland State General Hospital in Ashland1. He was buried at the Citizens Cemetery in Lavelle, Reverend Dennis Brubacher officiating1,9.  The last few days before his death, the pastor visited him several times to talk with him about the Lord.  The pastor told Dorothy that Ben accepted Christ as his Savior and received God's forgiveness.
Dorothy continued to live in her house as a widow up until the age of 90 in 2011.  Up until that point, she was very active and had a very sharp memory. Dorothy still mowed the grass, shoveled the snow, fixed things around the house, climbed ladders and took long trips in the car.  She had always been good about taking vitamins and eating healthy.  She can make some delicious chicken fingers, potpie, shoofly pie and tapioca pudding.  She has always been a very warm and friendly kind of person.
On January 5, 2011, Dorothy was involved in a vehicle accident where her 2000 Buick Regal ran off the road and impacted a utility pile and then crossed the highway and hit guide rail. She broke several ribs during the accident.  Later that year she went to live in Friendly Nursing Home in Pitman, PA, where she continues to live today. She will be 92 years old in May 2012.
1. 1983 Obituary for Benjamin Franklin Fertich.
A TRIBUTE published in the pages of THE ITEM, SUNBURY, PA, MAY 16 1983
Memorial Obituary
Entered Into Eternal Rest Saturday, May 14, 1983
Benjamin F. Fertich
LAVELLE - Benjamin F. Fertich, 66, Lavelle, died Saturday in Ashland State Hospital.  Born in Lavelle, May 9, 1917, he was the son of the late Charles and Christina Eister Fertich.  He was married to the former Dorothy Herring.  Mr. Fertich was a 1935 graduate of Ashland High School.  He was last employed as a conductor for Conrail until his retirement in 1980.  He was of the Evangelical faith.  He was a member of Lavelle Fire Company and Senior Citizens of Ashland.  In addition to his wife, he is survived by three sons, sister, Miss Ella Mae Fertich of Lavelle; and nine grandchildren.  The funeral will be conducted at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the Frederick Kull Funeral Home, Ashland, by the Rev. Dennis Brubacher, pastor of Christ Evangelical Congregational Church, Lavelle.  Burial will be in Citizens Cemetery, Lavelle.....Friends may call from 7 to 9 this evening in the funeral home.
2. 1920 Census of Lavelle, Butler Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, Charles Henry Fertich family.
For more information, see the reference section for Charles Henry Fertich.
3. 1930 Census of Lavelle, Butler Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, Charles Henry Fertich family.
For more information, see the reference section for Charles Henry Fertich.
4. Conversation with Dorothy Mae (Herring) Fertich.
Information received from several conversations with Dorothy Mae on September 6, 2003, February 28, 2004 and April 9, 2004.
5. Public School Records for Benjamin Franklin Fertich
This is to certify that Benjamin Fertich, a pupil in the public schools of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in accordance with a statement filed by the teacher with the Bureau of Attendance, Department of Public Instruction, has been neither absent nor tardy during the school year certified below by the seal of the Department of Public Instruction.
Livingston Seltzer, Superintendent of Schools, Francis B. Haas, Superintendent of Public Instruction
This is to certify that Benjamin Fertich, a pupil in the public schools of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in accordance with a statement filed by the teacher with the Bureau of Attendance, Department of Public Instruction, has been neither absent nor tardy during the school year certified below by the seal of the Department of Public Instruction.
Livingston Seltzer, Superintendent of Schools, John A. Heith, Superintendent of Public Instruction
Public Schools Certificate
THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT BENJAMIN FERTICH has completed the Course of Study prescribed for the Grammar Department of the Public Schools and is entitled to this CERTIFICATE OF GRADUATION, Given at Lavelle this 19th day of June 1931.
M. A. Carey S. P., Ronald E Kehler, TEACHER
This is to Certify that Ben F. Fertich has completed the studies prescribed for the Academic course of the Ashland High School and is awarded this DIPLOMA by the School Board of the Ashland School District.
In Witness Whereof, we have affixed our signatures this tenth day of June, A.D. 1935
Edward Watkins, President, W.E. Mattern, Secretary, E.W. Taylor, Superintendent, Maud M. Prichard, Principal, THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE BOROUGH OF ASHLAND, PA
6. Conversation with the Youngest Son of Benjamin Franklin Fertich.
Information received from a conversation with the youngest son of Benjamin Franklin on March 25, 2004 and an email dated May 9, 2004:
Pap Herrings horses were named Charlie and Ned. They still had them in 1936 but the first tractor was not bought until 1949. It was a ford red belly and if I remember right uncle Paul smashed it in 1951. Rather than fixing it they bought a new one of the same model. I can remember pap saying in 1949 it cost $600.00 and in 1951 it cost $800.00 He said can you believe it $200.00 increase in 2 years.....Larry
7. Conversation with the Oldest Son of Benjamin Franklin Fertich.
Information received from a conversation with the oldest son of Benjamin Franklin on March 28, 2004.
8. Correspondence with Dorothy Mae (Herring) Fertich.
The following information was recorded in a letter from Dorothy Mae dated September 25, 2002:
My Grandmother Lucetta Herring lived with us until I was 14 years old when she passed away......  She lived to be 84.  And my Grandfather Felix Dietrich lived in Pitman on a farm.  And I was 12 years old, I used to walk over to him and bake pies.  The crust was tough, but he thought they were delicious.  My Grandmother Deitrich died at the age of 61 from heart failure.
Ben Fertich married Dorothy Herring from Pitman, daughter of Clarence and Elizabeth Herring on July 27th 1940......  The times were really hard.  We lived in rent until 1942, then we purchased our first home in 1942 with no indoor plumbing.  We had to hoist our water from a well and had outdoor toilet. In 1947 things got so hard financially I had to work to feed the family.  Ben was only getting $8.00 a week that didn't even feed him.  Grammy Fertich watched the children.  I paid her $10.00 per week.  And I worked for $0.35 an hour.  I had to cross two mountains through ice and snow.  Ben finally started to work in a coal hole, part time and then later got a job on the railroad......
I went back to work and worked until 1982 when I had to take care of pappy until he died in 1983.  So now I am trying to survive on my own and it is more difficult every year.
9. Tombstone of Benjamin Franklin Fertich.
The tombstone is located at the Citizens Cemetery in Lavelle, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  For directions, see the Reference section for the discussion of Jermiah T. Fertich.  The tombstone adjacent to and left of the cinderblock building which is on the left of the paved cemetery road.  The tombstone was photographed and transcribed on April 27, 2002.
FERTICH, BEN F. 1917-1983
10. Dorothy Fertich Bible.

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