The state Game Commission is in the process of having the following two names added to the National Law Enforcement Fallen Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. - Dr. Joseph H. Kalbfus (executive secretary of the Game Commission from July 8, 1898, until his death on Aug. 10, 1919) and E.W. "Woody" Kelly (field superintendent of game refuges from Aug. 1, 1913, until his death on Aug. 10, 1919).
The two men were checking land that was to become a refuge when their automobile was hit by a train at the Farley Road Crossing in Warren County. During the following year (1920), the Game Commission purchased its first game lands (SGL No. 25) in Elk County, for $2.75 an acre.
While doing research for having the two men's names added to the memorial, it was discovered that Kalbfus and his wife, Mary Jones Kalbfus, owned a farm near Stevensville in Bradford County and that the two are buried across the road from the farm, in the Stevensville Cemetery.
In the family plot, there are many tombstones, with the name of Jones, from Mary's side of the family.
Kalbfus' headstone reads "One of Nature's Noblemen" and Mary's headstone reads "A Woman of Grace and Humor."
A son, Edward Kalbfus, became an admiral in the U.S. Navy and served during the Spanish American War.
Their daughter, Helen Kalbfus Frear, and her husband, Edward Frear, who was an Episcopal minister in State College, also are buried in the Stevensville Cemetery.
Most of this information has come from Mr. and Mrs. Luke Vande Mark, who are the unofficial keepers of the cemetery records. They also have a connection with the Kalbfus family. The Kalbfus summer home in Stevensville was down the road from the Vande Mark homestead.
After Joseph's death, Mary, who had been ill, decided to move back to Bradford County. Her private nurse, Alma Detwiler, accompanied her on the move. The neighboring Vande Marks had a son by the name of Lacey, who became attracted to Alma. They fell in love and were married.
The couple eventually became the parents of Luke Vande Mark.
Kalbfus was executive secretary of the Game Commission during a time when wildlife in Pennsylvania was at a very low ebb. The forests were completely cut over, forest fires were a common event and streams were polluted.
It was a very dangerous time to be a game warden. Groups such as the Irish Molly Maguires, of the anthracite coal fields, and an even more dangerous group, the Italian Black Hand, extended over the length and breadth of our nation.
In 1904, three game protectors were shot and wounded. No injuries occurred in 1905; however, in 1906, 14 game wardens were shot at. Seven were hit, with three seriously wounded and three killed.
During that period, game protectors, commissioners and even Gov. Samuel W. Pennypacker had received threats in the mail. One threat was on a sheet of paper showing a black hand and these words written in Italian: "We warn you, we will kill you."
After Game Protector Seeley Houck was killed on March 2, 1906, by Raco Raco, a member of the Black Hand Organization, the Game Commission hired the Pinkerton Agency to go undercover to try to find out who had killed the game protector.
Seventeen men, all members of the Italian Black Hand, were convicted of conspiracy to extort money from their fellow countrymen. The men were sent to prison, and Raco Raco was convicted of the murder of Seeley Houck and hanged.
Until his untimely death, Kalbfus worked 24 years for the sportsmen of the state, often using his own money to have a law enforcement program.
Kalbfus's wife, Mary Electra Jones, was the youngest of 13 children born to Edward Wadsworth and Arabella (Bosworth) Jones, who were natives of Bradford County. It is believed that Mary either inherited or purchased her parents' home and land, where she and Kalbfus lived during the summers.
When I discovered that Kalbfus had at one time lived in Bradford County, it gave me a sense of pride to know that I had just a small part of carrying on his legacy.
Bower retired after 34 years as a wildlife conservation officer for the state Game Commission. He has published several books about his experiences. Questions and comments may be sent to him at 153 Redington Ave., Troy PA 16947.