Sketches For My Grandchildren - Loizeaux

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Sketches For My Grandchildren
"Still Haven,"  New York City
1915

Contents

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 int he family of "Uncle John Hamlin"; whether he was really an uncle, I do not know. 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?"

Apprenticeship

Early Married Life

South Hill Farm

Child Life on the Farm

Barnyard Friends

The Beginning of School Life

Campmeeting and Watchnight

Quarterly Meetings

Blackberries and Robbers

Changes

Removal to Ohio

Dress and Peaches

Chills and Fever

Protracted Meetings

Trials

The Journey

Shady Hill

Teaching

A Winter School

A Year in Berlin

Meanwhile and Afterwards

Evanston

My Marriage

Our Journey to Vinton

Great Grandparents Loizeaux

A Footsore Journey

The Land Voyage

The People at the Farm

The Ways of God

Joy and Blessing

Trials by the Way

Our Life in Vinton

Tears that God Shall Wipe Away

General Conferences

Dark Days and Dreadful Nights

Trial and Romance

"And Your Heavenly Father Knoweth that ye have need of these things."

At Mrs. Weed's House

The Beginning of the Bible Truth Depot

A Call to the East

The Bible Truth Depot in New York City

Two Years in New York City

Trial, Joy and Sorrow

Removal to Plainfield

The Grove Street Home

Illnesses

Servants

The Reign of Miss Hamilton

Our Last Visit to the Farm

"The Fashion of This World Passeth Away"

"A Bird's Eye View" of 1215 Putnam Ave.

Rocket

Typhoid Fever

Quogue

Incidents

Occupations

In The Hospital

Wedding Bells (Anna's Marriage)

Daniel's Wedding

Elie's Wedding

Alfred's Wedding

Elizabeth's Wedding

Arthur's Wedding

Parker's Wedding

Edward's Wedding

Pneumonia

In The Bahamas

"Still Haven" in the midst of the Great Metropolis