Sketches For My Grandchildren - Loizeaux
The original copy of the manuscript was obtained by Doug Engle in 2021 from the family of James Stahr, who died in summer of 2019, he either acquired it from Emmaus, or they bound it for him. The original contains a faded photocopied print, and is in a black hardcover binding. It is presently unknown how many copies were made, or survive.
Within the original text, Anna's "mother" and "father" were decapitalized throughout, and I added possessive adjectives, and/or added capitalization where it was thought improvement on the sentence flow. Minor typos in the original are also corrected. Data in italics or otherwise set apart are added historical notes from Ancestry.com and other independent research. Underlining is the author's.
- 1 My Father and Paternal Grandfather
- 2 Childhood of Leander Roberts
- 3 Apprenticeship
- 4 Early Married Life
- 5 South Hill Farm
- 6 Child Life on the Farm
- 7 Barnyard Friends
- 8 The Beginning of School Life
- 9 Camp Meeting and Watchnight
- 10 Quarterly Meetings
- 11 Blackberries and Robbers
- 12 Changes
- 13 Removal to Ohio
- 14 Dress and Peaches
- 15 Chills and Fever
- 16 Protracted Meetings
- 17 Trials
- 18 The Journey
- 19 Shady Hill
- 20 Teaching
- 21 A Winter School
- 22 A Year in Berlin
- 23 Meanwhile and Afterwards
- 24 Evanston
- 25 My Marriage
- 26 Our Journey to Vinton
- 27 Great Grandparents Loizeaux
- 28 A Footsore Journey
- 29 The Land Voyage
- 30 The People at the Farm
- 31 The Ways of God
- 32 Joy and Blessing
- 33 Trials by the Way
- 34 Our Life in Vinton
- 35 Tears that God Shall Wipe Away
- 36 General Conferences
- 37 Dark Days and Dreadful Nights
- 38 Trial and Romance
- 39 "And Your Heavenly Father Knoweth that ye have need of these things."
- 40 At Mrs. Weed's House
- 41 The Beginning of the Bible Truth Depot
- 42 A Call to the East
- 43 The Bible Truth Depot in New York City
- 44 Two Years in New York City
- 45 Trial, Joy and Sorrow
- 46 Removal to Plainfield
- 47 The Grove Street Home
- 48 Illnesses
- 49 Servants
- 50 The Reign of Miss Hamilton
- 51 Our Last Visit to the Farm
- 52 "The Fashion of This World Passeth Away"
- 53 "A Bird's Eye View" of 1215 Putnam Ave.
- 54 Rocket
- 55 Typhoid Fever
- 56 Quogue
- 57 Incidents
- 58 Occupations
- 59 In The Hospital
- 60 Wedding Bells (Anna's Marriage)
- 61 Daniel's Wedding
- 62 Elie's Wedding
- 63 Alfred's Wedding
- 64 Elizabeth's Wedding
- 65 Arthur's Wedding
- 66 Parker's Wedding
- 67 Edward's Wedding
- 68 Pneumonia
- 69 In The Bahamas
- 70 "Still Haven" in the midst of the Great Metropolis
My Father and Paternal Grandfather
It must have been an American, who, when asked about his ancestors, replied, "I don't know anything about my aunt's sisters, or whether she had any." I cannot claim to be much wiser about my ancestry than he was. A desire to know about it did not waken within me, until those who could have satisfied the desire, in Old Testament language, "slept with their fathers". In order that you, my grandchildren, may not be, in this matter, devoid of knowledge as myself, I am going to tell you, in a crude way, the little that I know.
My father's name was Leander Roberts. He was the son of William and Mercy Roberts, and was born among the hills of Otsego Co., N.Y., at the western end of the Catskill Mountains, June 1st, 1817. He had three brothers older than himself, Alfred, John and William, and one sister younger, named Mercy, after their mother. For the sister, who outlived him several years, father felt a tender affection. Father's mother died when he was eight years old, and he was sent to live in the family of "Uncle John Hamlin"; whether he was really an uncle, I do not know.
- According to Ancestry.com (via Becky76957), John Hamlin (b. 1796 Maryland, Otsego, N.Y. - d. 1855 Sanford, Broome, N.Y.) married Catherine Van Slycke (b. 1804 - d. 1887 Sanford, Broome, N.Y), and they had five children:
- Adam Kilburn Hamlin (1824-1898)
- William H. Hamlin (b. 1826)
- Adariah Hamlin (1831-1873)
- Gideon Ebenezer Hamlin (1832-1921)
- Miriam M. Hamlin (1840-1863)
I think an aunt came to keep house for the father and older boys, and to take care of little Mercy. After some years, the father married again, and had several sons and one daughter; while the children of his first wife also married. I remember of seeing my grandfather Roberts only once, when I was quite a little girl. Nor did my father often speak of him: for having been separated from him since his eighth year, the relationship did not seem very real. On the occasion to which I refer, father, mother, brother and I had gone chestnutting on Crum-Horn Hill. It was a long way from our house on South Hill, through a very pleasant country. After gathering a large bag of nuts, chestnuts and black walnuts, and eating our luncheon on a mossy bank under a big tree, father drove home another way, that we might stop a little at grandpa Roberts' house.
Grandpa seemed to me a very old man and in poor health. He was seated at a low bench, pegging away at the sole of a shoe he was mending, and often stopped to cough. Not very long after, I heard my parents say, "Grandpa Roberts is gone." So you see the words "Grandpa Roberts" and "Grandma Roberts" were never familiar to me, until my own children called my parents thus; and since "my own children" are your fathers and mothers, it follows that their grandparents were your great-grandparents.
Childhood of Leander Roberts
I have little data from which to write of my father's childhood; but a few incidents, and a knowledge of his character, enable me to sketch a picture which cannot be far from correct.
The motherless lad of eight years who went to live in this family of Mr. John Hamlin was sturdy and active, and quite unspoiled by luxury. On a farm there is plenty of work and chores for every day in the year; and a capable and willing boy is not likely to have many idle hours. There were several children in the family: one, a boy named Adam, was a year younger than Leander.
I have heard my father say he never had more than three months consecutive schooling. Schools were not then as now. There were two terms a year; one in summer, for girls and children of the ABC and primer classes, and another in winter, of which the big boys availed themselves until time for spring work to begin. One day, when I began to "do sums", my father gave me the only slate he ever possessed.
I enjoyed greatly the incredulous look on the faces of my schoolmates when I told them, "this was my father's slate when he was a little boy". Slates were usually short-lived. Lead pencils and paper in school-room were unknown at that time. It would have been thought shocking waste to make a few figures or write a few lines on paper, then to crumple it up and throw it in the wastebasket.
My father was never a great reader, but he read patiently and perseveringly, and learned much in that way. When he became a man of business, he had his own methods of calculation, not quick, perhaps, but accurate in results. When I was teaching arithmetic, he delighted in giving me some question of figures, and then in giving me the correct answer before I was half done. But I have got far away from my subject. It is well that I am writing for children who like to ramble as much as I do.
While we lived on South Hill, father and mother went to make a visit to the Hamlins, taking brother and me with them. It was in the winter and the sleighing was fine. By the way, I think the climate has changed since I was a child. Then, in New York State, the winters were long and cold, with good sleighing for several months. I remember father used sometimes, to take a "short cut" home, as he expressed it, going "cross lots". Oh, what fun to ride over the fences, on the billowy snow-drifts, hard enough to hold horses and sleigh without breaking through! These huge drifts were slow in melting away when the spring came; for I remember piles of ice in the fence corners, when I was picking early spring flowers, on my way to school.
But now for the visit. Picture to yourself a light two-horse sleigh - warm buffalo robes, dancing horses - eager to go - sleigh-bells jingling, and four happy-hearted people, and you have us, without a kodak, a thing unheard of in those days. We started early in the morning, reaching our destination after dark. At noon we stopped at a village tavern for a good, hot dinner. It was not until "sundown" that brother and I grew tired and began to ask, "how far is it now?" and "when will we get there?"
To quiet us, my father said: "I will ask the next person we meet, how far it is". Soon a man came along and was hailed with: "How far is it to Oneonta?" "Two miles", he answered. That was cheering, and merrily rang the bells as Doll and Nell trotted along. After driving what seemed a long time we saw a team approaching. When it drew near father stopped and asked: "Can you tell me, sir, how far it is to Oneonta?" "I think it is about two and a half miles, sir." With a polite "thank you" and a smile, father started the horses, now quite ready to stand without dancing. The next oncomer was a whistling boy, driving the cows home to be milked. "My lad, how far is it to Oneonta?" After scratching his head, he said: "I think it is three miles". We all indulged in such a shout of laughter, that the boy turned and stood looking after us.
Now, I am quite sure my father knew how far it was to Oneonta, but he wished to divert our minds, and certainly he succeeded. We soon drove through the pretty village, and just after dark reached the home of the Hamlins. I wish I could make you see the large living-room into which we entered. There was a great fireplace extending almost the whole side of the room, and in it was a huge log that snapped and glowed, as the flames danced over it and fled upwards into the great chimney.
And our welcome: The master of the house was not there. "Uncle John" was so old, feeble and childish, that he ate his meals alone, seldom seeing anyone but those who took care of him. "Aunt Katy" was still strong, competent, and a host in herself.
"Well, well! Is this Leander?" She gathered him in her arms and kissed him on both cheeks, then turning to us: "And this must be Fanny and Emory and Mercy! I am glad to see you." And she kissed us all. If I remember rightly, we stayed three days, and delightful days they were. All the children, save one, had married and gone to homes of their own.
Marion, a pretty girl with fair skin and soft, shining curls, was still with her mother. I thought her beautiful. I was much surprised when Aunt Katy drew me to her side, and stroking my brown hair, drawn tightly back, and braided in two "pig tails", said to Marion: "Mercy is a sensible little girl. I wish you would wear your hair smooth, like hers." No doubt I looked the wonder I felt, but I dared not say: "It is my mother who is sensible. I would give everything I have for curls like Marion's."
Adam was a minister, and with his young bride was home on a visit to his mother. He and my father had great talks, and not a few hearty laughs over recollections of their boyhood. I hovered near, listening with both my ears. Turning to me, Mr. Adam said: "You see, I was younger than your father, but I was boss. If he sat down in my chair, I immediately wanted it, and was not slow in demanding it. He always gave it to me, but I remember the look in his grey eyes as he said, "There! Do you feel better now?"
In the village of Westford, N.Y., lived Mr. Peter Platner. He was one of the leading men of the town, and had a large carriage factory. To him, when of proper age, Leander was bound as an apprentice. I do not know for how many years, but probably five. I think he must have lived in family of Mr. Platner, for I never heard of any other arrangement. He was kindly dealt with, and as long as he lived, spoke affectionately of Uncle and Aunt Platner. There were three children in the family: Henry, Mary and a little girl called, familiarly, Frank; I cannot now recall her real name.
- Petrus "Peter" Platner (b. 1803 N.Y. - d. 1852 Westford, Otsego, N.Y.), son of Jacob M. Platner (b. 1774 Columbia Co., N.Y. - d. 1828 Otseto Co., N.Y.) & Mereitchen "Maria" Miller Platner (b. 1777 N.Y. - d. 1874 Otsego Co., N.Y.). Peter's great-grandfather Johan Jacob Platner (b. 1710 Grotzingen, Germany - d. 1787 Livingston Manor, Sullivan, N.Y.) emigrated with his 2nd wife Maria Sybilla Zuinger Zwinger Platner (1716-1800) to the U.S. in 1738, where their first son was born that year at Germantown, Columbia, N.Y.
- Permelia Howe Platner (b. 1804 N.Y. - d. 1873 Westford, Otsego, N.Y.), daughter of Artemus Howe, Jr. (b. 1775 Bolton, Worcester, MA - d. 1849) & Fanny Parker Howe (1787-1819). Peter & Permelia's children: Olive Platner (b. 1824), Jacob Platner (b. 1828), Mary E. Platner (b. 1830), Fannie Platner (1833-1906), William Henry Platner, Sr. (1835-1892), Permelia Platner (b. 1837) & Lucia W. Platner (b. 1844).
There lived just outside of the village, on a small farm, Mr. Artemas Howe, with his wife and two children, Orsemus and Fanny. Mrs. Howe was a half-sister to Mrs. Platner; so there was much friendly intercourse between the two families. It is not strange that the apprentice boy, separated from his own brothers and sister, soon became friends with the shy little girl; nor is it at all surprising that when Leander had served his apprenticeship, and became a valued workman in the shop, at the age of twenty-one, and the gentle Fanny, now seventeen, and a school-teacher, that their friendship ripened into something more, and they were married. My father sometimes felt a mischievous desire to tell tales of that period, but my mother's embarrassed, "Hush, Leander, that's enough" usually quieted him. How I would like, now, to know all he might have told.
- Ancestry.com (via arkmskmdk): Artemas' first wife was his second wife's sister, Anna Parker Howe (1799-1869), they had at least two children:
- Fannie Elizabeth Howe Roberts, Anna Loizeaux's mother, (b. 1821 N.Y. - d. 1902 Plainfield, N.J.).
- Orsemus Howe (b. 1823 Westford, Otsego, N.Y. - d. 1892 Montville, Medina, OH), married Polly M. Cook (b. 1821 Delaware, N.Y. - d. 1895 Chatham, Medina, OH). Five children: Italy Marseone Howe Ripley (1848-1930), Irving Howe (1851-1893), Samuel Harvey Howe (1855-1933), Metta Medora Howe Tanner (1856-1927), Emory R. Howe (1860-1932).
I never saw a more quiet and self-effacing person than my mother. Only those who knew her well appreciated her as she deserved. Kind and unassuming, she never gave offense. A plain spoken woman, visiting at our house, after my marriage, said to me, "Mrs. Loizeaux, you will never be a lady like your mother." I was neither hurt, nor disposed to quarrel with what I felt was true.
The above statement recalls to mind this same woman, Mrs. Taylor, a big woman, loud and rough-spoken, but with a heart of genuine kindness. She ruled her husband, I have no doubt; but loved him meanwhile. She had no children and so had time, and disposition, to help others. One day, when we were living in Vinton, Iowa, she came to spend the day. I had five children, no servant, and I tried to do my own sewing. Mrs. Taylor took out of her bag the flannel lining of an old overcoat, and a worsted skirt of her own. Her tongue and the sewing machine ran a lively race all day; but when she went home, Daniel had a warm flannel blouse and bloomers, and a little dress was ready for me to finish off. All honor to Mrs. Taylor's memory!
Early Married Life
When the big brothers wished to tease Aunt Bess, they used to say: "Bess remembers things that happened before she was born." I think this came about from her habit of saying, "I remember" when relating things she had heard so many times that she actually thought she remembered them. So I will not say I remember the things I am about to relate.
My father continued, for some years after his marriage to work in the shop of Mr. Platner. My brother Emory, three years and a half my senior, and I were born in Westford. Very small must have been the beginning, very simple the furnishing of the little home, compared to the way young people begin married life now. Both husband and wife were industrious and frugal. I have heard my father say, from the time he earned his first wages he was never without money in his pocket. If he earned only a dollar, he spent less than a dollar. If he earned only a few cents, he spent still less; if indeed, he must spend at all. To spend all he had, or to contract a debt, was not to be so much as thought of.
I remember a very few things that belonged to that first housekeeping. I wish I might have now some of the dark blue plates, with their wonderful pictures, that fascinated me as a child, and held their charm until I was a big girl. Then there were knives with bone handles, fastened on by steel rivets. The forks had two slender tines, that father declared were "just the handiest things in the world to pick a chicken's neck with." I remember the operation. One tine was inserted in the passage of the cord, held firmly, and joint after joint dislocated, and removed. How I wished I could do it!
The old clock that stood so many years on the mantle of the sewing-room at 1215 Putnam Avenue was perhaps their proudest possession. It is now in Aunt Elizabeth's garret, waiting to have its case "done over" and its honest old face made more attractive. I am sure I feel sorry for it. I fancy I hear it saying to itself: "How dull it is after ticking away for nearly seventy years, to stand here idle, with only the memories of past years to comfort me! And I don't see why, indeed! I've heard my mistress say while winding me up at night: 'Good old clock; you the the best timekeeper in the house.' I was never lonesome before in my life. So many babies were held up to my face, with eyes big with wonder, while I was made to strike over and over again. I wonder, will I ever hear children's voices again? And I remember the distress of my old mistress, after my master died, because she had lost my key, and she feared she would never hear my voice again. She could not sleep that night, but wept bitterly, and said softly, 'Dear Old Clock!" All the above is true, and I sigh with the old clock as I think of it.
After a few years the little family moved to Schenevus, a pretty, stirring little town at the foot of South Mountain, and my father had a carriage shop of his own. But, after not very long, my father, having a boy and girl of his own, concluded that the town was not the best place in which to "bring them up." Thereupon he bought a small farm on South Hill. Not until it because the fashion to go to the mountains for a vacation, was the grand old hill dignified by the name of "mountain".
South Hill Farm
The farm was small: it was stony; so stony that twice a year a "stone-boat" was dragged by oxen over the fields and the stones carefully picked up, a proceeding in which we children were expected to share... nolens volens. All, or at least most of the fences were picturesque stone walls. When, after leaving in the West many years, on our journey East, I first saw stone walls, near Buffalo, my heart leaped as at the sight of an old friend.
The farm was ill suited to raising grain; but well adapted to grazing and stock-raising; hence butter-making and the selling of young stock were its principal sources of profit. A country road divided the farm into two parts; on one hand stood the house; at one side the meadow; behind it, small fields of rye, oats, buckwheat or corn, the woods making a pretty background. Along the woods lay the sheep pasture, so rocky that only sheep could have grazed there. I loved the sheep. To sprinkle salt on the bare rocks, followed by sheep and lambs, bleating their musical ba-a-a, was delightful, and a privilege often granted me.
On the other side of the road were barns, carriage house, granaries and stables surrounded by yards. Beyond were pastures, orchards, meadow-land and a stream skirted by timber, or as we were wont to say, "the woods". It was, indeed, a pleasant, charming country.
Child Life on the Farm
My earliest recollections are of this home: a little red house, with the usual country door-yard in front, and kitchen garden behind. The front doorstep was a large flat stone, my favorite place of sitting to watch the sunset. the front door opened into a small entry, with stairs leading to the rooms above. On the left, a door opened into the parlor, with a little bedroom for guests. This part of the house was seldom opened, except for cleaning and airing, unless we had company, and, likewise white bread and biscuit; for our usual bread was "rye and injun" (Indian meal and rye flour).
The door to the right led to the living room, off which were a bedroom, buttery and pantry. The outside door opened into a large shed, half of which had a floor, shelves, benches and various conveniences, for in summer it served as a kitchen. The other side had places for washtubs, churn, grindstone, and piles of wood in the winter time. Just outside was the old-fashioned well with curb and sweep, superseded, after a while, but the more convenient pump.
All this was comfortable, but unpretentious. Not so on the other side of the road. The farmer's family may have been housed in small quarters; but his stock, if numerous, and his farming machinery, his tools, his carriages, wagons and his crops must be well cared for, if he would be prosperous. So there were two large barns, a granary, a carriage house, cow-sheds, pigpens, chicken-house, &c., surrounded by large barnyards; altogether, a place of never-failing interest to me.
I had no sister; my brother was three and a half years older than I, and our tastes were entirely unlike. Sometimes I was permitted to share some outdoor sport, such as riding downhill, with him, and his boy friends. Otherwise we rarely played together. But I was never a lonely little girl. Somewhere, in the fence corner, under a tree, in pleasant weather I had always a playhouse where my treasures were carefully stowed away: bits of broken china for dishes; corncob dolls, dressed in calico pieces and bits of ribbon, collected and saved with care. These dolls were my scholars, for I dearly loved to play at keeping school. It was such fun to lean them up in a row against my treasure-box, for spelling, and to see the one at the foot march proudly to the head of the class. This was easy, since I did the spelling, and marched them up and down as I chose. Perhaps my little grand-daughters, who have such large families of dollies, would like to hear about my dolls. Well, I remember just two. I think these must have been all my family, and that I cared more for books than for dolls.
We children were not allowed to go into the parlor, except when open for visitors; I really do not see why. It was a simple room; its floor covered with a striped rag carpet. There was a bureau in one corner, and a table, and chairs stood against the walls, I suppose waiting patiently for company. stove made the room cheerful when it was cold. A looking-glass, a framed marriage certificate, and one or two pictures adorned the walls.
Well, one day, perhaps it was a rainy day, I stole into the parlor and looked around. I wondered what mother kept in the bureau, anything but "Sunday clothes"? "I think I'll see;" and I opened a drawer, and putting my fingers down carefully, so as not to "muss up" anything, I was startled by feeling something hard.
Carefully I peeped, then eagerly I seized the object. And, forgetting my disobedience, I ran to my mother: "Oh, mother, see! I've found a doll!" Had she ever seen me so glad before? Did she scold me? Not a word. She laughed and said: "I suppose I should have given it to you before. It was my doll when I was a little girl, and I meant to give it to you when you are old enough to take care of it." "Take care of it? I will love it!" and I thought it perfectly beautiful. Now, I will tell you, in confidence, it was perfectly ugly. You would say horrid. It was a wooden doll, without a movable joint in its body. It had been painted white, but the years had turned the white to a deep yellow. When my enthusiasm had cooled, I began to regard my doll with other emotions than affection, and my consolation was found in pretending that it was dreadfully ill with jaundice.
Not long after, as mother was putting the bureau in order, I spied a little pink gingham dress, with short sleeves. "Oh! Whose little dress?" "Yours, when you were a baby." "Give it to me and we can make a dolly." So an old sheet was tightly rolled, just a little shorter than the dress. A pillow case was rolled up for arms and sewed in place. The dress fitted beautifully! When my father came home for dinner, he penciled eyes and nose and mouth, and a bang of curls over the eyes, "where the forehead ought to be", and I was satisfied. I had a doll to hug and to love. It went with me to the barn, the field and the brook. It slept with me at night, and never cried. After I went to school, I did not care for dolls. I hear you say: "No wonder!" and I echo: "No wonder." Books, and things alive, were what I wanted.
The first to greet me at the barnyard were the fowls, who, well housed at night, had the freedom of the farm by day. When grasshoppers were "in season", they were found in the meadows far from the barn. This liberty greatly increased the zest of egg-hunting, for a nest might be found in a corner of the fence, as well as in manger or hay-mow; and sometimes a mother-hen, waywardly inclined, came proudly home with a fine brood of chickens hatched in the field.
Well, the greeting of the chickens meant no affection for the little girl, but rather expectation of corn or buckwheat. The geese were more interesting; white and beautiful, but saucy, they followed me with wagging gait and gentle hisses. To my mother they meant feathers to sell and replenishing of feather beds and pillows. Sometimes there were goslings; oh, the soft, yellow, fluffy dears! Ever so much prettier than little chicks.
But let us go into the big barn; the main floor, with its great double door at either end, permitted the largest load of hay to be hauled in, to be pitched into the hay-mow. At one side were stalls for horses, open above the manger, so I could walk along and stroke the faces of such as liked to be petted. How beautiful their large, soft eyes! My usual welcome was a soft whinny, for I often gave them a bit of clover or an apple. There were Doll and Nell, work horses, and Prince and Charlie, who worked, of course, but were called the carriage horses. In a nearby pasture were young horses and colts; also an Indian pony, whom brother and I often rode around the pasture, without saddle or bridle. I do not remember that he was used for anything but our amusement.
the long cowshed had room for fifteen or twenty cows. Each cow had a stall with a stanchion at the manger. These had to be opened every morning to release the cows. At night the cows filed in and put their heads through the stanchions, and, strange to say, each cow knew her own stall. The first cow coming in might go to the further end or stop midway, but she rarely made a mistake, at which I never ceased to wonder.
Every cow had a name, usually suggested by her color or character; for cows have individuality as well as people. Many of the names I can recall. "Star", of course, had white spot in her forehead; "Cherry" was a reddish brown; "Brindle" a mixture of colors. "Black and White" always suited certain members of the herd. "Old Belle" was the leader, and wore the cowbell, the sound of which I was pleased to hear again in some Catskill mountain pastures more recently. Then there was "Lady Lightfoot", a little heifer, with the daintiest feet ever a cow had. Well I remember old "Kick-um", an ugly tempered cow, who would always put her foot in the pail if she could, or send the milker over backward. Dan Beadle, the hired man, was the only one who could manage her.
Before we left the farm, I used to milk two cows every night. I must not forget old "Buck" and "Berry", two mild-eyed oxen, with broad backs, on which I used to ride after they were unyoked and went down to the creek to drink. No reins were needed; they were obedient to "Gee" and "Haw" and a touch of my hand.
I will just mention the sheep-pen, where the gentle creatures were safely folded at night. Farthest of all from the house were the pig-styes, with their noisy occupants. Sometimes there was a pen with a clean straw for a mother with a litter of little pigs, so cunning, it was fun to watch them. Once, at the farm of grandpa Loizeaux, Aunt Lydie took Fred, two years old, to see some wee piggies. "Aren't they funny little scallywags?" They had been back at the house but a few minutes, when Lydie heard Fred calling something a "scallywag". In distress she came to me, saying, "Oh! Anna, I didn't mean to teach him that. How could he remember it?"
The Beginning of School Life
About a mile and a half from the farm was a little schoolhouse, gray and weather-beaten. I doubt that it had ever been painted; neither were the seats and desks, but the latter were more or less carved by jack-knives. The front seat was low and without a back. On this seat sat the ABC scholars, when not playing out of doors.
A common punishment for trivial offenses was standing on the floor. I had learned my ABC's and AB AB's, and was beginning words of three letters. When I persisted in pronouncing r-e-d "yed", the teacher thought me stubborn and said: "You may stand on the floor until you will say red." How long I stood there I don't know, it was a weary while. Then my brother told the teacher that I always pronounced "y" for "r". She tested me, and sent me to my seat. This is the only time I remember of being punished at school. Probably I needed the spur, for in a few days I had mastered the sound of the letter "r".
No one in our house had time to read stories to me, and I dearly loved stories, and love them still; so I was very anxious to learn to read. Perhaps I learned as much at home as at school. There was a Bible, an almanac, and "The Guide to Holiness", always on the table. I could spell out the words and ask what they were. I must have been a great bother to my busy mother, but I soon learned to read.
I was taken by my parents to visit some friends. We stayed overnight. There were two daughters about twelve and fourteen. One played the organ while her sister sang. After supper they studied their school lessons, and the older people visited. I had found a book and was oblivious to all else. As soon as I was dressed in the morning, I resumed my reading. After breakfast, my father said: "Well, Fanny, I guess we must be going; I will go and hitch up." "Oh, we can't go", cried I, "I haven't finished my book!" When father saw that our departure would be a tearful one, he turned to the girls and inquired the price of the book, and if they would sell it. So I became the proud possessor of my first "very own book": Robinson Crusoe.
The winter school was taught by a man. He could better face the snowdrifts and manage the big boys. There was usually a "birch" on the teacher's desk: if not, and one was needed, the master would ask: "Who has a jack-knife?" Up went all hands, save one. "John, go and cut me a whip; be sure and get me a good one." Sometimes whips were voluntarily brought at noon and laid on the teacher's desk. But there were other punishments besides whipping, indeed, many sorts.
One day my brother was caught in mischief of some kind. The master asked for a long scarf, a knitted woolen comforter. When one was brought, he tied it under Emory's arms, saying: "You are so bad I am going to hang you." Now I supposed hanging under the arms was as fatal as hanging by the neck. As the culprit was dragged toward a big hook by the door, I gave a piercing scream. Proceedings were stayed; instead of being hung, the naughty boy stood on the floor all of the rest of the afternoon.
Not far from the schoolhouse was a church, without steeple or ornament of any kind, but it was painted white, and so were the long sheds back of it, under which the farmers hitched their horses and wagons during services. Here we always went to meeting and to "Sabbath School", for father and mother were Methodists.
How pleasant seemed the Sabbath morning, with its haste to be on time. When the carriage came to the door, I was the first one in, to hold the horses, while my father changed his coat and locked the door. Then the pleasant drive and the S.S. with its singing and repeating of verses, and after the prayer, the excitement of exchanging our S.S. books. After this there was preaching, and last of all, class-meeting. I do not remember any prayer meetings at the church, but sometimes they were held in private houses. My mother was never too tired to go to prayer meeting, or, if very tired, she still felt it her duty to go. Not liking to go alone, she took me for company. When the night was dark, we carried a lantern.
Quite a distance from our house lived an old man who had been a class-leader for many years. As he was ill and bedridden, the meetings were often at his house. To make the distance shorter, mother and I often went through our pasture, then through a piece of woods, crossing the brook on a fallen log. "Weren't we afraid?" Never, there were no wild animals to hurt us; we never met anyone. The country is safer than the city, especially far removed from village or town.
Arrived at Mr. Wager's, I was given a little chair near his bed, so when sleepy, I could lay my head against it, and take a nap. Sometimes I was awakened by an emphatic "Amen!" or the shout: "Glory to God!" so common among the Methodists in those days, and very real when uttered by this aged Christian, so long ill, and so patiently waiting to be called to his home above.
Camp Meeting and Watchnight
Of all the Methodist meetings, I like the Camp Meetings best. They were a regular institution and held every year. The tented grove seemed a fitting place in which to worship God; and men and women, of deep piety and earnest purpose, flocked to these meetings, seeking and finding blessing for their souls. The gospel was preached, more or less clearly, and the salvation of sinners earnestly sought. The desire to be a Christian and live for God was felt very early in my life, and always deepened by these occasions.
So also by the solemn Watchnight meeting usually held in the church the last night of the old year. If I fell asleep during the long sermon, I was awake and fresh for the last exercises. A few minutes before Twelve, all stood in silent prayer, to watch the old year out; and, at the first minute of the new year, all joined in singing the New Year's Hymn. I sang it with all my heart, feeling perhaps, what I did not understand. Here is the hymn; perhaps you will agree with me that a child could scarcely be expected to understand it.
New Year's Hymn Renewed Fidelity and Zeal, by Charles Wesley
"Come let us anew our journey pursue, roll round with the year, and never stand still 'till the Master appear. His adorable will let us gladly fulfill, and our talent improve by the patience of hope, and the labor of love. Our life is a dream; our time, as a stream, glides swiftly away, and the fugitive moment refuses to stay. The arrow is flown, the moment is gone; The millennial year rushes on to our view, and eternity's here. Oh that each, in the day of His coming, may say, I have fought my way through; I have finished the work Thou didst give me to do. Oh that each from his Lord may receive the glad word: "Well and faithfully done! Enter into My joy, and sit down on My throne."
Another interesting occasion of childhood memory was the Quarterly Meeting, held, as its name implies, every three months. Sometimes it was "on the Hill", sometimes "in the Valley", as the churches of South Hill and Schenevus were designated. The presiding Elder must be present and in charge of this meeting. He came on Saturday, as the "Love Feast" was at 9 A.M., Sabbath morning; preaching immediately after, then the Holy Communion. There was no breaking of bread at any other time.
The Elder usually came to our house. I remember one, a dignified, elderly man with a kind face, and a lover of children. How pleasant it all was! The opened parlor, lighted in the evening with more than one candle. All gathered around the table, while the elder read from the Bible and explained the lesson so simply that children could understand. Then there was the prayer, sometimes long, but always ending with the request that God would "bless the head of this house, his wife and his children". If my thoughts were wandering, they always came back at this, and how I loved the "Amen", which most ministers pronounce in an impressive way.
I don't know why, but the ministers who called my father "Brother Roberts", always called my mother "Sister Fanny". Perhaps it was because she was so timid and retiring, as we speak with kindly familiarity to bashful children.
Because of an accident, I especially remember a time when the meeting was to be held at Schenevus, the road to which we called "down the Gulf". It was a steep, narrow road, with several sharp turns, where teams could not pass each other. When approaching one of these the driver would call out, so that, if another was near he might take warning and wait where the road was wide enough to allow teams to pass each other. The scenery was very picturesque; on one side rocky cliffs rose to a great height; the trees on their summit seemed to me to touch the sky. On the other side was a deep gorge with a stream at the bottom, a torrent in the spring-time, a ?ill in summer. Stunted trees, underbrush and rocks clothed its sides, and only at places could we look down to the water.
It was winter; there had been a rain, then a freeze, making the still good sleighing very slippery. It was a proper time to drive sober old Doll and Nell, so thought my mother; but father was a careful driver, and Prince and Charlie needed exercise.
I see them now, as they were brought to the door, gaily tossing their heads, as pleased with their jingling bells as I was. So we, tucked snugly in among the warm robes, were off. At a neighbor's we stopped for Charlotte Booth, a young woman who wished to go to the meeting. On we flew, past the schoolhouse, past the church, until we came to the Gulf road. Here the pace was slackened, and all went well until we were half way down, when something startled the horses; as they sprang into a run, the sleigh slid round and turned on its side, spilling us all out.
Alarmed at what might have happened to some of us, my father, after being dragged some distance, let go of the reins and hurried back. We were all unhurt except poor Charlotte, who had been thrown down the bank against a tree, which saved her from the water. Father crept down to her, and managed to bring her up in his arms. Then it was seen that her jaw had been broken by the fall. Near the foot of the Gulf was a house, and to it my father carried Charlotte. We were very kindly taken in and someone sent for a doctor.
My father and Emory now hurried on after the runaways. They had been running so fast that instead of turning with the road, they had gone straight on into the snowdrifts and over the rail fence where the entangled sleigh held them fast. They were uninjured, and quite sobered. I don't doubt they were glad to hear their master's voice. We were able to go home in our own sleigh, after the doctor had set the broken jaw, and promised that all would go well with Charlotte after a little rest. So we left our young friend to be brought home the next day. Sobered, like our horses, we sadly returned. I am glad to add that Charlotte's face was not at all disfigured.
Blackberries and Robbers
Since South Hill was a cattle raising country, it was visited every year by a class of men called "Drovers". These were men who went from farm to farm buying up cattle for sale. At night they stopped wherever a farmer had accommodation for them and their herd; sometimes this chanced to be at my father's.
This was a rare treat to us children; not only because we liked to see the cattle arrive and depart, but the strange men were interesting; they were always good talkers. After supper they gathered around the kitchen stove and "spun their yarns" to my father, and incidentally to wide-eyed children who ought to have been in bed, but were not at all sleepy. It was not unusual to relate a ghost or murder story. The unwisdom of permitting children to hear such stories was probably not realized by our parents. The incident I am about to relate shows that our minds were not unaffected by them.
One day my parents wished to attend a funeral. Life in a thinly settled farm country is very monotonous, and I am not sure that a funeral was not regarded by many as an entertainment. Certainly, many who "never went to church", were quite ready to go to a funeral. The small houses were more than filled, and men and boys stood about the yard, or listened at the door. For this reason my mother said: "You children had better not go; the house will be crowded. I have put up a nice luncheon for you. You may take your tin pails and go blackberrying." This suited us exactly, and me, especially, for I loved the woods. We started off a little before our parents were ready to go. The morning passed quickly. We filled our pails with berries, gathered wildflowers, and chased the chattering squirrels, handsome little red fellows with bushy tails.
After eating our luncheon, we started homeward. As we approached the stone wall on the barn side of the road, my brother suddenly stood still, staring at the house.
- Mercy: "What's the matter, Emory?"
- Emory: "There's somebody in the house."
- Mercy: "How do you know?"
- Emory: "I know there is; look at that hat hanging on the woodpile!"
- Mercy: "Yes, I see a hat hanging on a pole."
- Emory: "well, whoever is in the house hung his hat on the woodpile so no one would dare to come in. I'll bet it's a robber."
- Mercy: "Are you sure?"
- Emory: "Hark! I hear a man running up and down stairs; don't you?"
- Mercy: "No, I don't."
- Emory: "Stoop down, quick! I saw a gun pointed out of that open window." Emory sat down by the stone wall which was higher than he was.
- Mercy: "I don't see any gun, and I don't believe there is anyone in the house. Let's go in."
- Emory: "I tell you there is, and they'll kill us. Come on, we must stoop until we get behind the barn, then we'll run to the Booth's and tell them."
He suited his actions to his words, and I followed, not a little relieved that we did not have to go into the house. Arrived at the neighbors, we told our story in haste and in concert. It had grown more sure and terrible as we ran. The family was at dinner. Mrs. Booth was alarmed. She said to her husband and son: "You had better go right over, before they have time to rob the house." "And take your gun", my brother suggested.
"We haven't got any gun", the young man said, "but I'll tell you what I'll do; I'll sharpen this carving knife and, if there's a man in the house, I'll fix him!"
Mr. Booth laughed at this, and I think Mrs. Booth was glad to have the carving knife sharpened. Then someone said, "I hear a wagon coming, perhaps it is your folks." "Yes, here they are!" And out we ran and climbed into the back of the wagon. I can see now the smile that played around my father's mouth, and the twinkle in his grey eyes as he listened to my brother's excited story. Then he laughed, and mother laughed until she was near crying. "You foolish children", she said as soon as she was able to speak. "Your father painted his old silk hat this morning and hung it on the woodpile to dry, he said it would be nice to wear on rainy days. I left the windows open for I knew it would not rain."
We were quieted, but not altogether pleased. I think it might have suited us better to have found a robber in the house.
Father's brother William was, I believe, considered the smart one of the family. He, certainly, had no doubt of it. He got an education, studying to be a minister, and turned out to be a lawyer! He went to Ohio, which at that time was considered "out West". Having gotten a little money by the practice of law, he invested it in an iron foundry, in the city of Logan. From time to time he wrote to my father of the folly of digging away among the stones on South Hill for a living. He suggested selling out and investing in the iron foundry, where fortunes were being made. He reminded my father that his children had reached an age that demanded better schools than South Hill afforded. Now father greatly desired for his children that which he had missed, an education. Uncle's arguments sounded sensible and set him thinking. Finally he sold out and left the Hill.
"Were we sorry to leave the dear old place?" My mother should have been glad to leave a place of hard and incessant toil. Ever after, she had only housekeeping for a family of four. As to us children, did you ever see children who weren't ready to "jump out of the frying-pan into the fire" for the sake of a change? Father's little all was $7,000. This he allowed his brother to invest for him without security.
We did not go West immediately. My grandmother Howe, for many years a widow, had married again, happily married, Calvin Holmes, a Baptist deacon. She was a Methodist, so they compromised: one Sunday she went with him to the Baptist church, the next Sunday he went with her to the Methodist church. I remember them as two lovely old people, and really godly. We lived in grandmother's house in Westford. This house was unique: it was built against a hill, with a pretty front yard on the street. On the first floor was an entry, living-room and kitchen. the outside door of the kitchen opened on a lane running up the hill at the side of the house; Another opened into a cellar with brick floor and walls, on the level of the kitchen. From the front entry, stairs went up to a landing, with windows and a door opening into an orchard. All the rooms upstairs looked both to the village street, in front, and to the orchard and meadows in the back.
I went to the village school, to church, and often to grandmother Holmes', a farm a few miles from Westford. I became acquainted with the family of "Uncle Peter Platner", whose apprentice boy my father had been. Aunt Parmelia was a stately lady in black silk dress and snowy lace cap. I always felt somewhat awed in her presence. Once she said to me, when I was enjoying a delicious dinner at her table: "Don't smack your lips, Mercy; it isn't lady-like." But she was really very kind, as were all the family.
At this time a great joy came into my life, in the shape of a melodion. I found it one day when I came from school. My delight knew no bounds, and I could not go to bed until I had succeeded in picking out the notes of "Mary at the Saviour's Tomb". Our friends said, "Now Mercy must have music lessons". But my father's answer was, "What need of lessons, she will soon play anything she can sing."
Removal to Ohio
The time came to go to Ohio, a sad time for our parents, but a joyful time for Emory and me. We had never seen a railroad train, and were quite excited by the thought of riding on the cars. A week at a hotel before our household goods arrived was a great experience. Then we settled in a small house, not half so nice as my grandmother's. In Logan, I attended for the first time a graded school. From the progress made in two years, I think it was an excellent school. It had one feature I never saw in any other school. Monday's lessons were a review of the lessons of the preceding week. Having a good memory and liking to recite by topic, Monday was my favorite school day. I do not wish to linger over our Ohio experiences. Just a few incidents, and then, Westward ho!
Dress and Peaches
One morning, Uncle William came with a horse and buggy just after breakfast. "Fanny, I am going into the country; I thought Mercy would like to go with me."
Alas! Mercy's hair was not freshly braided nor was her dress suited for a drive with her fastidious uncle, and he could not wait. "I'll call for Dora", he said, as he went out. Dora was my cousin, the daughter of father's half-brother, James.
Now Dora was pretty, and her mother's first care was to curl Dora's hair, and dress her with pretty clothes. No doubt Dora would be ready. It was a great humiliation to me, but a wholesome one which spurred me to greater care of my person and dress. I decided not to depend on my mother to braid my hair, but to do it myself. I had heard Uncle William said to my mother: "Fanny, you dress Mercy too old for her age." Poor mother, she had never learned dressmaking but she made all my dresses.
Methodists in those days were a very plain people. My mother never wore feathers or flowers, nor did she approve of bows of ribbon. She did not wear jewelry, not even a plain brooch or ring. How could her little daughter be other than plainly dressed?
I think I'll tell you a "really truly" story about myself at this time, at the risk of shocking some reader. Little girls wore bonnets in those days, straw bonnets that came close to the face. It was springtime, and the bonnets had wreaths of tiny rose-buds, pink, or possibly white daisies. Oh! How pretty they were. But my bonnet had a plain white ruche, like my grandmother's cap. As I put it away after meeting, I heard my father say to my mother, "Fanny, I think you ought to have had a wreath in Mercy's bonnet." "Why do you think so?" "Well, I saw her looking around at the girls' bonnets. I believe she will think more about her bonnet than she would if it were like the rest." Mother did not reply.
It happened, the next Sunday, that Uncle William came in just as I got my bonnet to go to Sunday School. I took off the cover of the band-box, and could I believe my eyes? Yes, there was a wreath of pink rose-buds in MY bonnet. Clapping my hands, I exclaimed, "Oh, glory, hallelujah!" Then I felt frightened. I had not meant to say that. Uncle William laughed and said, "Mercy's a Methodist, all right, Fanny; flowers won't hurt her." But it did not end there. I felt that my mother was grieved, and, somehow, I didn't enjoy the wreath. Before the week was over I asked her to take it out and put back the ruche, and she did.
Now about the peaches. I had missed the drive in the country with my uncle, but I was to enjoy one with my father. Peaches were ripe, and the crop was so large that bushels and bushels were left to rot on the ground. It did not pay to take them to market, and the process of canning was not yet known. A farmer had said, "Come out and help yourself to peaches." So into the country we went, enjoying everything: the blue skies and fleecy clouds overhead; the soft summer breezes, the fields and the thrifty overladen orchards. We went home with several bushels of peaches in the back of the wagon: beauties, white and yellow, as large as oranges. Newspapers were spread on the floor of a vacant chamber and the peaches carefully spread out upon them. For many days we feasted on peaches.
Chills and Fever
At some seasons of the year, Ague Fever was very prevalent. This was attributed to the canal that ran along the outskirts of the city. We lived not very far from the canal. Mother's heart was touched by the sufferings of the poor, and, quite often, taken me with her, we went from house to house with a basket of food - soup, broth, custards, jelly and bread. Sometimes we found the whole family prostrated; some shaking with a chill; others, the chill over, were burning with fever; and no one was able to help the others.
But the ague was not confined to the poor; few escaped it altogether. My father had it severely for a long time. During our stay in Ohio, he took so much quinine that his hearing was permanently dulled. Mother and Emory, after some time, had chills every other day. I escaped so long that I boasted that I was never going to have the ague. Then, one day, every bone in my body ached; I felt a suspicious sensation along my spine. Could it be a chill?
I spread a comforter under the "spare bed", an old-fashioned four poster, with a cretonne valance; took a pillow and crawled out of sight, like a wounded creature. No one should know that I had a chill. There I shook bravely, until the chill had passed. When the fever came, I wanted my mother. Oh! How good were her applications of cold water to my burning head! And how bitter were the quinine powers!
"What kind of meeting is that?" you ask. Well, it does sound strange, even to me, but it did not when I was a child. It was then the custom, every winter, for the pastor of each church to hold a protracted meeting for four, six, or even eight weeks, if there was sufficient interest to warrant it. A pastor who failed to do this was thought indifferent to the welfare of his charge, and careless about the salvation of sinners. The old-fashioned Methodists were a "peculiar" people.
Peter Cartwright and John Bangs were household words. These men of God rode on horseback from point to point of their large circuits, preaching the gospel in schoolhouses, in private houses or out of doors; and just as earnestly as they preached eternal life did they preach eternal punishment for all who rejected Him. Protracted meetings were solemn occasions. The unsaved were faithfully warned and earnestly entreated to "flee from the wrath to come," and to seek refuge in the One who died on Calvary.
Nightly, after the preaching, opportunity was given to any who desired to be prayed for, to come forward and kneel at the "altar". Godly persons went through the congregation, speaking to those who seemed seriously inclined, urging them to seek the Lord, and accept His salvation. Meanwhile the congregation stood, singing hymns of invitation, many lifting up their hearts in silent prayer.
Here is a hymn I loved. It had seven verses. I will give you only three.
"Come, ye sinners, poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore; Jesus ready stands to save you, full of pity, love and power. He is able, He is willing: doubt no more.
Now, ye needy, come and welcome, God's free bounty glorify; True belief, and true repentance, every grace that brings you nigh, Without money, come to Jesus Christ and buy.
Come, ye weary, heavy-laden, bruised and mangled by the fall; If you tarry 'till you're better, you will never come at all. Not the righteous, SINNERS, Jesus came to call." (Hart)
When it was announced that one or more had accepted Christ and were rejoicing in Him as their Saviour, the character of the hymns changed from invitation to rejoicing:
"Oh! How happy are they who their Saviour obey, And have laid up their treasure above; Tongue can never express the sweet comfort and peace Of a soul in its earliest love.
Twas a heaven below my Redeemer to know And the angels could do nothing more Than to fall at His feet, and the story repeat And the Lover of sinners adore.
Jesus all the day long was my joy and my song; Oh, that all His salvation might see! He hath loved me, I cried, He hath suffered and died, To redeem even rebels like me." (C. Wesley)
The second winter of our stay in Ohio, meetings were held, for many weeks, every night except Saturday. I do not think I missed one of them. A large number "joined the church", and I trust many were truly converted. It was then I became a member of the Methodist Church, which relationship continued until about a year before my marriage.
I desire not to criticize, but must say from many years of experience, that the finished work of Christ, as the ground of peace, was not preached; at least not as the only ground, so there was no settled peace; how could there be? The prominence given to experience led to self-occupation, which is fatal to true peace. Methodists believed one truly converted might "fall from grace" and be lost.
Happy was the day when I first heard the eternal security of the believer in Christ, plainly preached from the Word of God, by your dear uncle Paul.
But I have a very tender memory of some godly Methodists. There was "old father Vandeburgh", as everybody called him. He was quite aged and feeble, but was always at the prayer meeting, and among the first to pray. He often sang his favorite hymn, with the chorus: "Only MERCY will do for ME." It seems to me I never met him that he did not speak to me of the Lord Jesus.
One "Sabbath morning" after breakfast, he said to his wife: "I think I'll take a little walk." She watched him, for he seemed more than usually feeble. Midway between the house and barn, he stopped and stood looking up into the sky; only a moment he stopped gazing, then slowly sank to the ground. His wife hurried to him, calling him fondly by his name, but he was "absent from the body, present with the Lord."
Did he hear a voice calling: "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord"? Many who knew him believed so.
A thaw, a freeze, followed by a light snow, made the walks dangerous. Coming home from meeting one night, my mother slipped on the unseen ice and fell, hurting her limb. It did not seem serious; the doctor said a little rest would make it all right, but inflammatory rheumatism set in, and my mother could not leave her bed. We had never had hired help in the house, and it was for a moment to be thought of. I could sweep, make beds, set the table and wash dishes. Father said he would do the cooking. The washing and ironing must be sent out.
Well, those were weary days. I soon learned to cook meat and vegetables. Father always made the bread. If there were bakeries then, as now, we did not avail ourselves of them. Once, when we had company, I thought to surprise everybody by a beautiful cake for tea. All went well for a time. When I thought that the cake must be nearly done, I opened the oven door softly, to find the most discouraged looking cake I ever saw! What could be the matter? I confided to my mother. "Did you put soda and cream of tartar in your cake?" she asked. "Oh! I did not." Well, never mind, Mercy, you have enough without cake.
Our guest saw me take the cake out of the oven. Seeing, she understood, and with ready sympathy, insisted that we should have the cake for tea. It tasted better than it looked, and all assured me that it would have been a beautiful cake if soda and cream of tartar had not been forgotten. I have no doubt that my pride needed just that "wet blanket".
Mother was always cheerful. Whatever she suffered, she did not complain; whatever she feared, she kept it to herself, or, I doubt not, told it to the Lord. The summer was passing and she could walk only a little, and with the help of crutches.
Father was hard at work in his little shop, making a light lumber wagon, which was in some ways peculiar and attracted considerable attention. But he was not his usual, cheerful self. I often heard my father and mother talking after I was in bed. Sometimes in the night, I heard my father groan and toss about. What did it mean? Was it only worry about my mother? I must know; so I asked. "Mother, what is the matter with Father? He doesn't seem happy, as he used to be?" She hesitated, but seeing my earnestness, replied: "Your father is in great trouble; he scarcely sleeps at night, and I am sick and cannot help him." She cease, the sound of tears trembled in her voice.
"Tell me, Mother, I can help." "You do help, my child, but you cannot understand. Father's money is gone. The business has failed, and all is lost, Father's money and Uncle William's. When the wagon is done, and I am well enough, we will go West and begin over again, your father a poor man." I'm afraid I felt like asking: "It that all?" for I knew nothing of the importance of money. We had never had much money, and we had been comfortable and happy.
When the South Hill farm and all its belongings were sold, the $7,000 was not mentioned before the children. I do not think I knew how much money Uncle William had invested for my Father, nor that it was practically all he had. Mother's lameness seemed to me the only thing that really mattered. Going West sounded like a promise of good things, and, being young, I could not long be unhappy.
When my Father discovered that I knew, I think it comforted him to talk to me. He explained all about the wagon he was making. The "Prairie Schooner", the canvas-covered mover's wagon, was often seen dotting the prairies, on the westward trail in those days; but this wagon was to be of an improved type, hence the curious lookers-on around the shop.
The body of the wagon was light, but strong, and the springs were of the best. The box jutted out over the wheels to give extra room. Behind the spring-seat, wide enough for three, there was a floor level with the top of the box, for my mother's bed, for she was not able to sit up. Trunks and all sorts of things could be stowed away underneath. Over all was a square frame, instead of the usual hoops. This was covered with canvas, and then with black oilcloth to exclude rain. The sides had curtains that could be rolled up, or tightly buttoned down. Overhead were pockets for things needed on the way. At the back of the wagon was my father's toolchest, and a feed trough, ingeniously arranged; underneath, I can't begin to tell what! No doubt many of my father's sleepless hours had been spent puzzling over the arrangement of our Prairie Schooner. Those who saw it talked about it, and others came to see.
At last the wagon was finished, painted and striped with the skill that my father had acquired during his apprenticeship. The doctor said if anything could help mother to recovery, it would be out-door air, entire change and diversion of mind. It was decided that we would go to Illinois in October. Meanwhile preparations went on surely if slowly.
Uncle William, almost crushed by his misfortune, and grieved more for my father than for himself, sold all his personal property, including a silver-mounted harness and handsome buggy. He gave his fine span of grey horses, his gold watch, and what money he could spare, to my father. Then he bade us a sorrowful good-bye, and went to South America or Australia, I cannot be sure which. I believe he was only once heard from afterward.
- Ancestry.com indicates (via Becky7657) that William C. Roberts died Jan. 8, 1880 at Handy Township, Livingston, Michigan. His wife was Caroline "Jane" Wright Roberts (b. 1838 Iosco, Livingston, MI - d. 1924 Hatton Twp., Clare, MI). They had three children together: Carrie (b. 1862), Milo (1871-1947) & Floyd Ard Roberts (1875-1915).
Father had also a young and valuable horse which he decided to take with us. It would be useful to ride on the way, and afterwards on the farm which my father intended to purchase. Our household goods were crated to be shipped a part of the way by canal; then by rail to our destination.
For some time I had felt dissatisfied with my name, not to my praise, surely, but with some reason. Among schoolchildren, and with some persons, the word "mercy" was a common ejaculation: "O mercy!" or "Mercy on us!" and I had come to wish my name was not Mercy. Now that we were going far away to live among strangers, why not change my name? Father and my mother gave a willing consent. After making several lists of girls' names, and "trying them on", I found that none of them fitted me. So I concluded to write my name "Anna M.", instead of Mercy Ann, and when asked what "M." stood for, to say Mabel. And so I write it to this day; but in the old Family Bible it is still, "Mercy Ann".
October came, sunny and golden. The wagon had been loaded with great care. The morning of our departure had come to the joy of us children, and the relief of our parents. Mother's bed, husk mattress, feather bed, warm blankets, and snowy sheets and pillows, how inviting it looked! With a sigh of contentment, my mother was laid gently in it. The last goodbye said, we were off, Emory leading the way on horseback. How often in the next three weeks was "Billy" to give us a charming diversion by cantering on ahead, then returning to meet the wagon.
A few hours ahead of us were three mover's wagons, that had stopped overnight in the town. We overtook them at noon; were pleasantly greeted, and questioned as to our destination. We continued in company for three days, when our ways diverged. There were young children that ran about whenever the wagons halted. The women looked tired but patient. They came to see "the sick lady", and talked about the new homes they hoped to make in the far West. We liked it better, however, when we were left to journey quite by ourselves.
The early mornings and evenings were so beautiful! The joyful bird-songs in the morning; the sleeping twitterings at nightfall; a few late flowers, golden rod and asters bloomed by the wayside; autumn leaves were red and bronze and gold. We did not sing: "The melancholy days have come, the saddest of the year."
At night, my father liked to camp near a house or barn, perhaps for the sense of security it gave. At no time did we meet with other than a friendly greeting. Of one such occasion, I have a happy remembrance. The farmer opened the big orchard gate, saying: "Drive inside, and help yourselves to apples and cider", for in one corner of the orchard a cider mill was at work. When the good man's wife heard about our mother, she came to see her, bringing something for her comfort. If we were poor, it was a pleasant and friendly world we were traveling in. When we were ready to start the next morning, the farmer brought a bag of apples and a jug of cider, for which we "must find room somehow". How kindness refreshes the heart of the giver, not less than that of the recipient.
Indiana was a beautiful state, full of fine orchards. I regret that I cannot give you important details and descriptions of the country, but only my pleasant recollections.
Our journey occupied three weeks, and only once did it rain, more than a shower to lay the dust. One day in the last week, as the sun was going down, black clouds rolled up quickly from the horizon. Peal after peal of thunder shook the air. So rapidly did the storm approach, that my father began to think of seeking shelter. Just as the storm broke on us, he drove in among a group of grain-stacks, near the roadside. The horses were drenched, but we, safely buttoned up in the wagon, were quite dry.
Darkness had fallen and the rain had ceased, when the glimmer of a lantern revealed a man coming from a house a little way across the road. It was a kind-hearted old Dutchman, who at once helped my father to get the horses into the barn, and then insisted that we should all go up to the house: "The old woman had said so." We entered a large kitchen, full of the smoke of baking pancakes; a long table was laid where we sat down to a feast of buckwheat cakes and syrup and black coffee. Later, my father and Emory went to sleep in the wagon, while my mother and I were made comfortable at the house. I have no words to express the kindliness of the farmer-folk in those early days.
We were destined for Lacey, DeKalb Co., Ills. There lived Henry Merrill and family, whom we had known on South Hill. His brother, Ephraim Merrill, had married my father's sister, Mercy, which made them seem almost relations. Henry Merrill had a large country store, with the Post Office, and his family lived over the store in roomy and really pleasant quarters. Mother and Mrs. Merrill had been dear friends for many years, and faithful correspondents. We drove up in front of the store, with its inevitable veranda for the accommodation of loungers and smokers.
Mr. Merrill gave us a warm greeting; then opening a door that led upstairs said, "You go ahead, Fanny, and surprise Catherine." Thump, thump, thump! Slowly went the crutches upstairs. "What in the world is that noise? Mary, look and see what is the matter." Mary looked and cried: "Mother!" Below we all stood laughing. "Well, I declare! Fanny, is it really you?" and the two were crying on each others' necks.
Before a week had passed, my mother laid aside her crutches, never to need them again. Shortly after our goods arrived, and we settled, for the winter, in a small rented house. After looking thoroughly around, my father bought a farm, of which we were to take possession early in the spring.
Merrill biographical additions
According to Ancestry.com: In 1840, Henry T. Merrill (b. 1814 N.Y. - d. 1896) was living at Maryland, Oswego, IL, and settled in Illinois in 1846, eventually near Kingston Twp., DeKalb, Illinois, according to the Belvidere Daily Republican (Belvidere, IL) of Aug. 3, 1916. DeKalb County is today regarded as part of the metropolis of Chicago. Although they were living at Seward, Schoharie, N.Y. for the 1850 Census. The 1860 Census has Henry's family at Franklin Twp., DeKalb, IL.
The Portrait and Biographical Album of DeKalb County, Illinois. (Chicago, IL, USA: Chapman Brothers, 1885) has an entry for Mr. Merrill, pp. 374-375:
"Henry T. Merrill, farmer, section 25, Franklin Township, is an apiarist and manufacturer of cider and butter. He was born Sept. 26, 1814, in Delaware Co., N.Y. His father, William Merrill, was born in Connecticut and was a shoemaker by trade, and also a tanner and currier. His marriage to Catherine Wilber took place in Delaware County, where she was born and passed her entire life, dying July 8, 1850, at the age of 62 years. She became the mother of 11 children. In 1838 the father came West and died Oct. 7, of the same year, at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. Mary Olmstead. He was 53 years of age.
Mr. Merrill was the sixth child of his parents, and was one of the four who survived their earliest youth. He was brought up and educated in his native county, obtaining a good common-school education, which he supplemented by a course of commercial study at the business college at Albany, N.Y.
He was married Feb. 11, 1839, in Oswego Co., N.Y., to Mrs. Catherine Merrill, daughter of John I. and Sarah (Lucky) Burst. Her parents were members of the agricultural class of the State of New York, and in the maternal line were descendants of the French Huguenots. They passed the closing years of their lives with their children at Franklinville, McHenry Co., Ill. Mrs. Merrill was born Oct. 9, 1815, in Schoharie Co., N.Y. She was a pupil at school in her native county, where she lived until her marriage to her first husband, John W. Merrill, by whom she had two children. Sarah is the wife of David Johnson, of Marengo, McHenry Co., Ill. She died April 6, 1867. Lewis is a farmer and resides in Kingston Township.
Of her second marriage, five children have been born: John, Jan. 29, 1849; Sanford, Jan. 13, 1852; Maria E., March 4, 1855; Mary was born Dec. 6, 1842, and married March 4, 1874, to Hiram Burchfield, and resides in Kingston Township; Clara was born Aug. 14, 1856, and was married Nov. 26, 1881, to Byron G. Burbank, an attorney and now a professional teacher, which is also the vocation of his wife. They are perfecting their knowledge of the German language at Hamburg.
In 1851 Mr. and Mrs. Merrill located in Franklin Twp., where the former established himself the business of a merchant, in which he had been engaged in the State of his nativity. He erected the first building for the exclusive purpose of mercantile business in the township, and he was the means of the establishment of one of the first postoffices in the county, which was designated Lacy. He continued its official for a period of nearly 20 years, and is the senior Postmaster in the county, as well as the longest in office. He is the owner of 101 acres of land, and attends to the several varieties of business specified at the beginning of this sketch. In political faith and connections he is a Republican, and has discharged the duties of nearly every position in his township. The family attends the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which the mother is an earnest and active member."
The farm which was for some years our happy home, consisted of eighty acres of rich soil, already under cultivation. It lay on the main road to Sycamore, a thriving railroad town, sixty miles west of Chicago. On it was a large barn and a log house. Although most farmers in that vicinity had outgrown their log houses and built frame houses, it seemed quite the proper thing to begin our life "out West" in a log house. I will describe ours as well as I can.
It was long and not very high, with one window and a door in the front, and two windows in the back. Originally it had one room below and one above; but a partition across one end, divided in the middle, made two small bedrooms, each with a little square window. These were just large enough for a bed, a little stand under the window, and a small chair, leaving a narrow space at the foot of the bed. Here, hooks or nails on the partition served as a wardrobe.
Fortunately, the old fashioned bedsteads were high enough to admit of a trunk or boxes under the bed. A valance was tacked at the front and at the foot of the bed. Do you ask: "How was it possible to make the bed nicely?" Well, many things can be done under difficulties. I remember my mother shaking up the featherbed thoroughly, putting sheets and covers on carefully, arranging the pillows nicely, then smoothing the top with the broom handle, and patting the corners into shape, until they suited her. Housewives were proud of their featherbeds in those days. On Uncle Leon's first visit to us in Plainfield, he made fun of our mattresses and told his people, on going back: "You should see their beds! Why, one can roll all over them without making a dent."
The logs, rough outside with bark, were inside smooth and clean looking, with chinks of mortar showing between them. The furnishing of the living room was, of necessity, a very simple matter. Clean straw was scattered thickly over half of the floor, and a striped rag carpet carefully tacked down. Between the two windows stood a table with two leaves, closed when not in use. In one corner stood the melodion, in the other a bureau with bookshelves above it. A few pictures hung on the wall, and on a tiny shelf was the dear old clock. Snowy curtains at the windows; two rockers and a few straight chairs completed the arrangement of our sitting room. The side was full and certainly looked cosey (sic).
We had only to step off the carpet to be in the kitchen. A kitchen stove stood near the door leading upstairs; a low bench was under the window for wash-basin and water-pail, and a roller towel was on the door nearby. At the other end was a cupboard and a kitchen table. Father built a snug little shed outside for wood, which served as kitchen in the summer. Oh, my granddaughters, in your pretty houses with beautiful furniture! Do you think you could be happy in such a home?
Now a look out-of-doors. The house stood well back from the road, along which was a row of Lombardy poplars, the whole width of the farm. West and north of the house a grove of small trees had been planted to make a "wind-break". Beyond this was a fine young orchard, beginning to bear many kinds of apples.
Between the house and barn was a clump of Linden trees, which I "discovered" and claimed as my very own, naming it "The Retreat". When the interior had been cleared of undergrowth, I had room for a table, chair and bench. The outside undergrowth hid the interior completely. Here I read, wrote and studied, with only the birds for company. You can see that the name I had chosen for our home was not inappropriate. I dearly loved to write "Shady Hill" at the head of my letters.
We were less than two miles from "Bethel", a little Methodist church; and in the opposite direction, just down the hill, was the schoolhouse. Around these two points, country life largely centers. At that time, such outdoor games as golf and tennis were unknown. In the winter, spelling-schools, singing-classes and sleigh-rides were our chief pleasures. In the summer, we had picnics and horseback riding.
The school in our neighborhood was a really good one. In winter it was taught by a master, sometimes a college man or a theological student. I had a special chum, as I think most girls do. Her name was Etta Robinson. How familiar it looks to me after all these years! The letters and notes we wrote to each other would have filled a volume.
We had not enough to do with the work of our school. The teacher kindly suggested that we should take up Natural Philosophy and Physical Geography on alternate days, and he would hear our recitations after school. Some weeks passed and we were enjoying our special lessons very much, when the trustees heard of it. They straightaway ordered the lessons discontinued. In vain the teacher explained that he gave none of the school time to us; the only answer was: "It must be stopped". We were indignant! The teacher was not less so, feeling sure that jealousy was at the bottom of it.
My father said: "Nevermind, Anna; next winter you shall go to Sycamore and study Latin if you like." And I did, the next two winters. But Mother said: "I guess it is just as well; I think you and Etta carry your heads rather high." And now I think of it, I am afraid we did. Pride is ever a hot bed for the growth of evil; while the graces of the spirit, all things pure and lovely, flourish in the sweet soil of humility.
- Anna's chum was Eunicott Etta Robinson Nickerson (b. 1841 N.Y. - d. 1913 Glendale, Los Angeles, CA), emigrated to Kingston, Mayfield, DeKalb, IL by 1850, her father was a farmer, and one of the family's neighbors was Mulford & Eunace Nickerson. In 1860, the area the family lived was called Lacey, and in 1870 in Sycamore. She had one younger brother, William H. Robinson (1849-1893). Etta married Mulford Nickerson. Mulford's vitals: (b. 1834 N.Y. - d. 1910 San Fernando, Los Angeles, CA).
The summer I was fifteen I taught my first school. The little schoolhouse was built in a grove by the roadside. It looked friendly and inviting; but I confess to a feeling akin to awe, as I unlocked its door on that May morning. I had on purpose gone early, to look over things before the scholars arrived. As they came in, singly, and in groups, with a cheerful, "Good morning, Teacher", I immediately felt at home. There is little to be said about this, my first experience in teaching. With the exception of the minister's daughter, a girl about my own age, the pupils were boys and girls under fourteen, with a few ABC scholars.
Ella Burlingame was a quiet, studious girl; it was a recreation for me to hear her recitations, after the others, and we read together at noon recesses. Naturally, we became great friends, and I was often at her home. Ella was very near-sighted. Spectacles were rarely worn in those days, except by old people. Business had called Mr. Burlingame to Chicago. After supper, on the day of his return, he said to his daughter: "Let us go for a walk." As usual, they called for me. At the top of the hill he stopped, and taking a pair of spectacles from his pocket, gave them to Ella, saying: "Put them on, dear, and look off over the valley."
A lovely vale it was, with groups of farm-buildings and bits of groves. She put them on and looked, she took them off and looked, then replacing them she looked long at the valley and at the cloud-flecked, azure sky. Then with a glad cry, she turned to her father: "Oh father! I did not know the world was so beautiful! I never saw things before!" Her ecstasy knew no bounds. Mr. Burlingame then gave her a little Bible from his pocket. She scanned its pages eagerly, then turning to me said: "Now I need to not grow stoop-shouldered by putting my nose to my book."
Ella Burlingame may have been born at Newark Valley, N.Y. on Oct. 7, 1846, as Ellen Gertrude Burlingame, the daughter of Rev. Arnold G. Burlingame and his wife Lucinda Beecher Burlingame. On June 4, 1866 she married Warren Lyman Moody of Woodstock, IL, a brother of Dwight Lyman Moody, founder of Moody Bible Institute. Warren was born in 1838 in Northfield, MA, the son of Edwin Moody (1800-1841 Northfield, MA) & Betsey Holton Moody (1805-1896 Northfield, MA). They lived in Elmira, N.Y., until 1888 when they settled on a farm north of Gardner, Kansas.
Warren died in 1896 and Ellen moved into town, and for nineteen years she was unable to walk, and for her final three years she was rendered an invalid. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and took an interest in the work of the G.A.R. They had four children: George B. Moody (Boston, MA), Rev. Arnold G. Moody (Muskogee, OK), Leonard W. Moody (N.Y.C.), and Mrs. E.G. Lundy (Emporia, KS). Ellen died on May 4, 1924 in Gardner. At her memorial service, at Ellen's prior request, a quartet sang "I Know Whom I Have Believed", a hymn written for Warren and Dwight's mother in honor of her 80th birthday.
My boarding place was at Dr. McAllister's. The doctor, his wife, and their two boys of eight and ten years, comprised the family. The home was more than ordinarily pleasant. There were books everywhere. My book hunger could be appeased. There was a piano, for Mrs. McAllister played and sang well. The influence of these refined and cultured homes was worth far more to me than the pecuniary reward of my teaching.
The following summer I was successful in my application for the village school of Genoa. Here I had more scope; a goodly number of boys and girls in their teens afforded interesting material. I introduced "Friday Afternoon Exercises", with compositions, declamations and singing. These became popular and visitors were frequent. At the close of the term we gave an exhibition in a grove. Men and boys cleared the ground of underbrush, prepared seats and built a large platform, and everybody generously provided refreshments.
For weeks we worked hard, preparing our program. This involved much labor out of school hours, for studies were not neglected. "The day" arrived. Flags were hung and draped, flowers arranged. People came from all around. When the audience was seated, compositions were read, pieces spoken, and songs sung. The culmination of interest was found in three "Tableaux Vivants", with appropriate recitations:
- Country, Army, and Navy
- The Charm of Woman
- The Virtues and Graces
These were really excellent, and well executed, calling out addresses of commendation.
A Winter School
When a trustee from the Harrington district came to ask me if I would teach their school the following winter, I was more than surprised. In vain I pleaded my inexperience and that I had never taught a winter school. He insisted that they had made their choice deliberately and would stand by me. I felt honored by the offer and hesitated. What would I say? What I did say was: "I will think it over, and give my answer soon." I always was, and still am afraid of superior people; not of those who think themselves superior, but of those that I feel really are superior.
My thoughts ran thus: "Surely the family of Dr. Harrington are very aristocratic." I recalled the dignified, white-haired gentleman, with piercing black eyes under beetling brows, and his elegant lady, as I had seen them come into church, followed by their sons and daughter. Their district was only a few miles out of Sycamore, and I felt sure the neighborhood must be aristocratic match the Harringtons. After thinking it over and talking with my father, who was ambitious for me, I wrote accepting their offer. They replied, telling me when school would begin and said I was to board at Dr. Harrington's.
All my fears proved groundless. The Harringtons were superior people, but not aristocratic, as we are wont to use this word: they were superior in every way, except in their own eyes. There was a delicate kindness in their manner toward that dispelled all embarrassment. I was only seventeen, but looked older by several years, and they never asked my age. They had at least a half a dozen boys in school older than myself, they were from good families and helped much by their example to maintain order.
Charles and Mary Harrington were my "star" pupils. Mark Harrington was away at college. George Harrington had left home in his teens, not caring for school, he had gone to California to make his fortune. He had returned home that fall without a fortune, and with very little education. He was twenty-seven, and was studying arithmetic at home. One day he came to me to ask if he might occupy a desk in the school room. "I will give you no trouble", he said, "I think I could study better there, the atmosphere would be a help." I thought he was joking, but soon found he was quite in earnest. When Dr. Harrington added his plea, I could not refuse, lest I should seem ungrateful for all their kindness. So George established himself in a corner, and I trembled in my shoes. I felt sure the first problem he was unable to solve he would bring to me.
Now, arithmetic was never my strong point. I loved grammar and reveled in difficult parsing. It was not that I was ignorant of the principles of arithmetic. I required my pupils to memorize definitions and rules, and I knew them myself, but I was slow at figures and easily confused. What did I do? I got a key to the arithmetic and kept ahead of George, solving the problems at night, and making sure of the method and answer. He did ask my help, not infrequently; perhaps sometimes, for the fun of it. Not once did he find me unprepared. It was splendid discipline for me, and arithmetic seemed less difficult afterward.
- Dr. James Harrington (b. 1806 ON - d. 1893 Sycamore, DeKalb, IL), son of Lot (b. VT) & Sarah Sage (b. CT) Harrington. His mother died in Ontario in 1809, leaving five children, of which James was youngest, and relocated to New Berlin, N.Y. to be taken care of by relatives, in Chenango Co. Started teaching at the age of 17, while studying medicine, in 1829 he opened up a practice at Eagle, Alleghany, N.Y., returning to New Berlin 1831, then 1844 came to Illinois and bought a claim of 120 acres of land, situated on sections 8 and 9 of town 41, range 5, now Sycamore. He was elected School Commissioner in 1845 (and re-elected in 1856). The log house which had been erected served as a tenement until 1846 when Dr. Harrington built a frame house, and a commodious frame barn, which is also the same year he was elected for the House of Representatives. In 1864, he sold the farm and removed to Ann Arbor, MI to educate his children. Then returned in 1865 to Sycamore and bought a block of land with a brick house.
- 1st wife: Charlotte Walrod Harrington (d. 1871), m. 1831 @ Alleghany Co., N.Y., daughter of Peter & Mary (Wait) Walrod.
- 2nd wife: Susan Wyman Harrington
- Diana Vermon Harrington (1832-1856)
- Dr. William Shaw Harrington (b. 1834 New South Berlin, N.Y. - d. 1922 Seattle, WA). Methodist preacher. Presiding elder @ M.E. Church in Portland, OR.
- Joseph B. Harrington (1837-1874)
- Susan Elizabeth Harrington Shurtleff (1841-1883)
- George Leach Harrington (b. 1839 New South Berlin, N.Y. - d. 1929 Sycamore, IL)
- Nelson Rounds Harrington (1844-1912 Sycamore, IL), City Marshal @ Sycamore.
- James Franklin Harrington (b. 1846 Sycamore, IL - d. 1885 Jewell, KS). He was born on the old homestead 4 miles north of Sycamore, the house was still standing in 1928. He served one year in the Civil War, then homesteaded a farm in 1871 in Jewell Co., KS. In 1872, he returned to Sycamore, and married Henrietta Durant (b. 1846 St. Charles, IL - d. 1929 Sycamore, IL), then they moved back to Kansas. He moved from his homestead into the county seat in 1883. He was City Marshall of Jewell in 1885, and while attempting to arrest a horse thief, Jacob Loy, he was shot, and survived 12 hours.
- Mark Walrod Harrington (b. 1848 Sycamore, IL). m. Rosa M. Smith. Graduated U of MI in 1868, and lectured on astronomy at Oberlin College, OH, and at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. For a year he was connected with the Chinese foreign office in Peking, and spent a year in AK. Then he was professor of Astronomy at the U of MI, then head of the Weather Bureau at Washington, D.C., then President of Washington State U.
- Mary Sylvia Harrington (b. 1850 Sycamore, IL - d. 1930 Belvidere, Boone, IL). Married P.K. Jones, druggist @ Sycamore
What fine spelling-schools we had! Frank Harned was the best speller in the country. He had spelled down every school for miles around, and could himself only be spelled down by unusual words culled from the dictionary. I used to say: "Frank, remember, I depend on you." "All right", and his smile was good to see.
But why dwell on that winter, since its end was so sad? It was during the Civil War. One afternoon, towards spring, Frank and three others asked to be excused. This was very unusual, but one glance at their faces and I understood. They went out, and the school went on as best it could. Just before closing time they returned and took their seats. At the signal to put away books, they quietly piled all on the top of their desks. Some of the older girls put down their heads to hide the tears. I quickly dismissed the school, saying to the children, "Go out quietly, and go directly home." Then the young men came around my desk, and Frank said, "We have enlisted, and are off tomorrow." "I know it, may God be with you, my boys" was all I could say.
Not long after came the news that Frank Harned was ill in a hospital with measles. Another two weeks, and the news came that he was dead. He was convalescent when his regiment was ordered away; nothing would do, but he must go with them. The doctor said he could join them when he was a little stronger. Frank said, "I will go with my regiment." He caught cold, and died. His body was sent home and we had a sad funeral, but it was only one of many thousands, all over the land!
- Hosea Harned (b. 1798 Smithtown, Suffolk, N.Y. - d. 1876 Elgin, Fayette, IA)
- Fanny Babcock Harned (b. 1804 N.Y. - d. 1879 Elgin, Fayette, IA)
- Frank Harned (b. 1846 Streetsborough, Portage, OH - d. 1865 Dalton, GA), 147th Illinois Infantry. Entered service Feb. 10, 1865, died measles on March 16, 1865.
A Year in Berlin
Oh no! Not the Berlin we we hear so much about in these days, but a thriving city in Green Lake Co., Wisconsin. Father's brother, John, was a farmer, living a few miles out from Berlin. I knew Uncle John and Aunt Hannah, but had never seen my cousins, William and Edgar. Uncle wrote, inviting me to make them a visit. Father and Mother urged it. I had worked hard, they said, and a change would do me good. So I gave up the thought of teaching that summer and went to Uncle John's. Never having traveled alone, it seemed quite an adventure; but I undertook it with less trepidation than I should have felt at any time in coming from Plainfield to New York alone.
The summer passed pleasantly. We always went to Sunday School and Church in Berlin. One Sunday, uncle and aunt and I were asked to dinner at Mr. Keys'. Mrs. Keys was charming, and Charles and Edward became my friends at once. At dinner, someone asked when I was going home. "In time to engage a school for the winter", I replied. Mrs. Keys then remarked that there was to be a teacher's examination the following week, with some thirty or forty candidates. "Whey do you not take the examination, and get a position here?" she asked. "Oh! That is not to be thought of. My parents expect me home."
Now people were as interesting to me then, as now. In the city, at the seaside, at the mountains, the people interest me, scarcely less than the scenery. I thought, why not take the examination? It would be great fun to see so many teachers together, and I would like to know if I could get a first grade certificate. Never having taught in graded schools, a certificate had not been necessary. I decided I would do so, but, of course, I would return home shortly.
The examination lasted three days. One day, there were blackboard examinations, diagrams in parsing, what I liked best; and various things in arithmetic. The Greatest Common Divisor and Least Common Multiple had been demonstrated by several; but the conductor said: "Well, if I knew nothing about the matter, I don't think your explanations would make it plain to me. Will somebody else offer an illustration?" Being the youngest there, and a stranger, I had simply written with the others, escaping any direct notice. But here was my opportunity; had I courage to grasp it? I was fresh from teaching beginners; and the two things in question were as familiar as the alphabet. I went to the board, wrote down two examples and demonstrated them precisely as I had done so often to my classes. "As clear as daylight" was the comment, as I went to my seat. I know now that it was then my certificate was won.
The examinations were ended and we were told we would be notified of the results the following week. Monday morning I received a letter containing a first grade certificate, and saying I had been appointed to a certain grade. I wrote home. Father and Mother's answer said, "Stay if you want to, but we are sure you will be homesick, and come home at the end of the first term."
Uncle found a nice boarding place for me. The gentleman was a traveling salesman, so most of the time there was only Mrs. Saxton, her little daughter Clara, and the few boarders; these were the Methodist minister, his wife and myself. A delightful room was given me, such as I had never had before. My vocation, I realized, and not my merits, secured me much consideration, and I was happier than I had ever been, I thought, I who had always been happy.
The first of September came. My room was a very large one; the grade below the grammar department. There were several schoolhouses in process of building, and all departments were crowded. The principal came in to see me and we had a little talk. I opened my desk and took out a small raw-hide I had discovered. "What is this for? It seems just the thing for horseback riding, but rather out of place here." "You may not find it so" he replied. "I thought I would come in and tell you that this grade is a difficult one. There were three teachers during last year, and the last one quit before her time was up." "Thank you, this is news. I might have been told this before." "Oh! I don't think it was necessary, but 'fore-warned, fore-armed', you know."
The pupils were coming noisily in, I wondered if they would ever cease coming! I registered the names of seventy-five pupils in my book, and the average attendance during the year was sixty-five. Teachers had more liberty in those days. I had always opened school by reading from the Bible, and prayer; not reciting the Lord's prayer, but by praying for what I wanted for myself and my pupils. This was so unexpected that the noise died away into a delightful hush. Then I sang a little school song, in which many were able to join, and said a few cheery things that appealed to many.
There were the ABC classes in Reading, Writing, Spelling, Geography, Mental and Written Arithmetic. The forenoon passed in getting the classes seated as I wished, and their lesson apportioned. Meanwhile, acquaintance progressed rapidly. I had already spotted a few "black sheep" and knew that my real problem was not in teaching, but in governing.
All went fairly well for several weeks. Then one evening, I noticed Charlie Keys and his brother fussing around their desks until all the others had gone out. This was so unusual that I asked, "What is the matter, boys?" Shyly they approached my desk, and with tears in his eyes, Charlie said, "Teacher, don't try to whip Herbert Stedman". "I surely shall, unless he mends his ways pretty soon."
"Oh, but you can't do it; he fought the other teachers, and the big boys have all pledged themselves to help him. We heard them talking." I thanked them, calling them "dear boys", and told them not to worry, I wasn't afraid; but I did not feel exactly gay, when I was left alone. Herbert Stedman was sixteen, and a head taller than I. He chewed tobacco, smoked, swore, and sometimes got drunk. He always failed to get promoted out of that grad, and I wondered why he was allowed there at all. Except that my room was noisy, so many feet on the bare floor, I was almost satisfied. Lessons went well, and there was little whispering. Friday afternoons were devoted to singing, reading compositions and speaking pieces.
One day while a small girl was reading: Bang! and something flew across the room, from the boys' side to that of the girls. Immediately you could have heard a pin drop. "Finish your reading" to the little girl, the silence continuing. When she had finished, I walked up the aisle, and picked up a boot! Not a shoe, but a boot with leg nearly to the knee. Returning to the platform, I held it up. "Who threw this boot?" "I did!" in an impudent tone, from Herbert. "Come here, Herbert." He came to me with the air of a conqueror, as I stood with the raw-hide in my right hand.
"Take off your coat." "I won't do it for you", he replied contemptuously. I seized him by the collar, and brought the whip around his shoulders, with all my might. Enraged, with one hand he tore my sleeve nearly out at the shoulder; With the other he grabbed my watch guard, intending to throw my watch as he had thrown his boot. Perhaps he was counting on his allies, but not one stirred.
Instantly, about me, were three of my oldest girls; one grasped my watch, while I twisted Herbert's wrist until he let go of the ribbon. Another slipped the ribbon quickly over my head and carried the watch to a place of safety. Meanwhile, the third had pinned my sleeve in place. Then I whipped the boy over the shoulders, around the legs, anywhere I could hit him, while he danced. Suddenly he became quiet, he had had enough. "Now, Herbert, take off your coat." He took it off as quickly as he could. "Now, put it on and go to your seat." Not for anything would I have given him one more stroke. I looked over the room at faces white with fear, and the boys were scared worse than the girls. The battle had been one, and I was mistress beyond dispute, the rest of the year.
After the scholars had gone, Mr. Fletcher came in, his recitation room opened into mine. "You interrupted our recitation, this afternoon." "I am sorry, Mr. Fletcher." "Well, I am not. We all sat spellbound, listening to the swish of that little raw-hide. I am glad you didn't send for me. Allow me to congratulate you, Miss Roberts." This was comforting and reassuring. At the close of the year, each class gave me an "ambrotype" of its members. Somewhere, in the movings of the last forty years, these have been lost. I sincerely wish I had them now.
Almost the whole school was at the station to say goodbye. When the train moved off, I hid my face against the window, and had a little cry. Then a voice behind me said, "You are leaving many friends behind you. I should cry myself under like circumstances." I turned to look into the kind eyes of a white-haired old gentleman.
- Herbert Stedman was one of at least six children of Harvey Stedman (b. 1813 Livonia, Livingston, N.Y. - d. 1875 Berlin, Green Lake, WI) & Mary Louisa Warren Stedman (b. 1818 N.Y. - d. 1891 Berlin, WI). He was born May 5, 1848 at Newfane, Niagara, N.Y., and died in Nov. 1927 in Farmington, Waupaca, WI. His first wife was Mary Ann Knight Stedman (1860-1893), who gave him three sons. His second wife was Cora Belle Durrant Stedman (1875-1959) who gave him two daughters.
- No known relation to Raymond Charles Stedman (b. 1917 Temvik, Emmons, N.D. - d. 1992 Grants Pass, Josephine, OR), who was raised among the PB, friend of Howard Hendricks and J. Vernon McGee, and founder of Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, CA.
Meanwhile and Afterwards
Meanwhile, during my absence, Shady Hill had been doing its best; the trees and shrubs had grown, the orchard had thrived, and the farm prospered. A new house had relegated the log cabin to the background, where it continued its usefulness. My father had purchased three lots on the main street of Sycamore, and after building houses on two of them, sold one and rented the other. The remaining lot had an old house on it, and was now our home; my brother having married and remaining on the farm. I felt quite at home in Sycamore, having been there several winters, at school.
After my marriage, my father built a new house, in which he and my mother lived for many years. Then he sold Shady Hill farm and started my brother anew on a farm in Ohio. He also sold the Sycamore home, and came to live with us, having bought for me the old homestead in Plainfield, N.J..
My father and mother considered our house their home, but traveled quite a little, visiting friends in the East and in the West. They spent three winters in California and the state of Washington. They went to the seashore, Ocean Grove, and boarded a little in New York City. They tried to enjoy themselves, and, I think, succeeded pretty well, considering the life to which they had been accustomed; but my mother missed her quiet home and daily routine.
They both died at 1215 Putnam Ave., and are buried in Hillside Cemetery. That my father regained all he had lost, and accomplished so much besides, was due to his unflagging industry, careful expenditure, and safe investment. I realize how many of my present comforts I owe to his careful provision. His excuse for working hard was always, "I am working for my children."
I had enjoyed teaching and really thought if only I could go to college and graduate, I would make teaching my life-work. On my return from Berlin, I found that two of my Sycamore classmates were going to the Northwestern Female College at Evanston. How I did wish to go with them! I could scarcely think of anything else. Father gave the matter due consideration. "Are you sure that after graduation you will resume teaching?" I suppose he thought to graduate from college and then get married would be a waste of money. But I was sure I would teach all my life. So I was prepared to go to college with my two friends. Perhaps this was "putting the cart before the horse", for, after teaching five years, I was now going to school to prepare for teaching.
Evanston, situated on Lake Michigan, twelve miles north of Chicago, was the seat of the Northwestern University, the Garrett Biblical Institute and the Northwestern Female College. I believe it was the year after I graduated that the college was reorganized under the name of the "Evanston College for Ladies", with Frances E. Willard as president. Subsequently it was incorporated in the Northwestern University. I should utterly fail did I attempt a description of Evanston, the beauty of its situation, the charm of its classic groves on the shore of Lake Michigan.
The first year, Mary White, Mary Smith and I rented rooms near the college and boarded ourselves. We settled down to very simple housekeeping and hard study, often studying until 11 P.M. with an occasional bite of a sour pickle to keep us awake. Not being in the college building, we were not subject to rule, "Lights out at ten o'clock". At the end of that year, Miss Smith, a fine scholar, went to take charge of a "Young Ladies' School" at Forest City, north of Evanston. Miss White continued another year, while I remained three years, finishing the four year course in that time.
- Anna (and the two Mary's) MAY have been among the very first female students of Northwestern University.
My father and mother were living alone in Sycamore. Why should they not rent their house and come to Evanston, so I could live at home? This they did, but instead of living in a cottage near the college, as they meant to do, my father took the position of Steward at the college. The duty of the Steward was to purchase supplies, see to their dispensing, and a general oversight. They were given pleasant rooms in the basement. I petitioned for a room alone, on the top-most hall. A view of the college grounds, and the branches of a giant tree sweeping against one of my windows, delighted me. I wanted no company save my books. Yet I would not have liked to be a day scholar, and so apart from the college life.
The Chapel exercises every morning, the Tuesday evening meeting for prayer and testimony, and the occasional Sunday afternoon lecture were full of interest to me. Prof. Bugbee was a retired clergyman, and godly. I am sure he had the spiritual welfare of the young ladies much on his heart.
- Rev. Lucius Halen Bugbee (b. 1830 Gowanda, Cattaraugus, N.Y. - d. 1883 Evanston, Cook, IL), according to "Appletons' Cyclopedia of American Biography" graduated from Amherst in 1854, became a teacher, was ordained a minister in the Methodist Episcopal church, and was principal of Fayette Seminary, now known as Upper Iowa University from 1857-1860, then pastored a Chicago church 1861-1863, then served as President of Northwestern female college at Evanston 1865-1868, then of Cincinatti Wesleyan college, now Indiana Wesleyan College 1868-1875, then Alleghany College in Meadville, PA.
It was my second year and school was to open on the morrow. A few early arrivals always mark the preceding day, and pleasant greetings were going around on the veranda of the college. As Prof. Bugbee came out, he greeted us genially, saying, "Young ladies, the new French teacher arrives on the next train. I am going to meet him." The French class had been taught by a lady, hitherto. There was a sally of remarks and girlish laughter. I had never seen a French person, and my thoughts were something like the following: "Now, at last, I am to see a Frenchman. I've read about them in books, but they were always dancing-masters."
They came, and an introduction followed. "Prof. Loizeaux of New York City" greeted the "young ladies" with a very polite bow, the like of which I had never witnessed, and went up to his room. We all admitted the bow was graceful and did credit to The Charlier French Institute, of which he had been both pupil and teacher. I wonder what he thought of the laughing girls on the veranda; probably he thought of them not at all, his mind being occupied with graver matters.
Other impressions followed. Our French professor was certainly dignified, and not to be trifled with. The class settled into decorous behavior when he came into the classroom, and the giddy ones began to feel anxious about their lesson. Those who wished to learn had ample opportunity, but the careless ones had not a comfortable time. I studied French with zest for a whole year, then made the mistake of dropping it, just when I was beginning to read with ease. Taking the course in three years, I had six difficult studies the last year, without French. "It is too much", Prof. Loizeaux said, "and you can so easily resume your French afterward. I understood his meaning and acquiesced, only to find in the "afterward" that we had scarcely time to speak French, much less study it.
For, you see, we had become friends. It was not through our French lessons. Whenever Prof. Bugbee was absent, Prof. Loizeaux led the Chapel exercises. He always took part in the prayer meeting, and was active in the church. I could not but feel his earnestness as unusual and appealing. We were both longing for a "higher spiritual life", as we expressed it then. The truth was neither of us had peace with God, and our souls were hungering after it.
The holiday vacation being too short for Prof. Loizeaux to return to his home in Iowa, he spent it at the college. One day he said to me, "Can we not read the Scriptures together a little, every day?" "Certainly I shall be glad to do so." Then he began to bring his brother Paul's letters and read them to me. Oh, what letters they were! Paul had been associated with his uncle, Mons. Elie Charlier of the "Charlier Institute", New York. Becoming much exercised in his soul, he gave up this position, returned to the farm, and shut himself up with his Bible; scarcely eating or sleeping until the Lord spoke to him through His word, with such power that his soul was filled with peace and rest. You may read his experience at that time, as related by himself in a little tract, Saved by Grace.
His joy was very great, and like Peter, "He first findeth his own brother." (John 1:14). The two brothers had been deeply attached, always. Both were converted, both had been licensed as local preachers by the Methodist Church. Timothy had come to Evanston to study at the Northwestern University, intending to be a Methodist minister. A course at the Biblical Institute was to follow that of the University. But the Lord had His purposes and ways for each of them, and, in His mercy, made me also, a sharer in His grace. I cannot write freely of this time, it seems too sacred.
We read Paul's letters, we searched our Bibles and prayed together. We shrank from many things Paul wrote, while we craved the peace and joy which he had found. When I saw that his stand took one outside of all denominations, my heart rebelled. I believed it would leave one to drift without an anchor, exposed to every wind of doctrine. Multitudes of notes passed between us at this time, not in any way love notes, save the affectionate address, but notes about the Word of God and the fresh light and truth we were finding therein.
One day he stopped me on the stairs, with a look on his face I had not seen there before. "I have found it" he said simply; and I knew he meant the peace we had been seeking. From this time, always and everywhere he bore testimony to the "finished work of Christ", to the "wonderful grace of God", and to the peace and joy which flow from simply believing the word of God.
But no one understood him. Dear Mrs. Hamlin, widow of Bishop Hamlin, and the leader of the "Holiness Meetings" said: "Why, brother Loizeaux, it is the second blessing, the blessing of sanctification that you have received." He would reply, "No, I am a sinner, saved by grace. Christ is my sanctification, my righteousness and my redemption." And not being able to understand him, they were afraid of him; and he, feeling no longer "at home" went in the country on the Lord's Day, and preached the gospel in a little schoolhouse. The glad tidings which filled his own soul with joy, he longed to tell to others.
Some time after Paul was married, he came with his wife, your Aunt Celia, to Evanston. Dr. Kidder had been very kind to father Loizeaux on his arrival from France, with his young family (Paul and Timothy being twelve and ten years old) and Paul wished to see him. As Paul and Celia came to the college to see Timothy, I was introduced to them. On the Lord's Day morning, they hired a horse and buggy and drove out to the schoolhouse. When I learned that Paul was going to preach, I felt I must hear him.
I could not go with them, much as Prof. Loizeaux wished it, what would the college folks think and say? SO I said to my father, "Wouldn't you like to hear Prof. Loizeaux's brother preach?" "Yes, indeed." So he, too, got a horse and buggy, and we went, but my mother went to church. Paul preached from the 10th chapter of Acts, and we heard the pure gospel preached for the first time.
The Methodist Conference was being held in Evanston, at the time, and the pulpit was filled morning and evening, by one of their great preachers. The next morning, Prof. Bugbee said to me: "Miss Roberts, you missed the sermon of Bishop Simpson yesterday." "I know, professor, but I think I heard a greater sermon." "Indeed! And who was the preacher?" I felt the sarcasm in his voice, but I said simply, "Prof. Loizeaux's brother." We were beginning to share the reproach of Christ.
The days of my college life went on, brightly, successfully to their end. I had a new happiness which might not appear on the surface, but which glorified the days, and the precious word of God was opening up to my understanding and yielding its blessed fruit.
When we left Evanston, Mr. Loizeaux knew that he was called to the Lord's work, not to be a Methodist preacher. Neither of us asked for a letter from the church, as we saw our place outside denominations. That winter I taught in the Sycamore school. A year from the following spring we were married at my home in Sycamore, Ill., on the 18th of March, 1869.