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Grandma’s memories of her childhood
In answer to a letter March 18, 1901
My father Elisha Whiting was born in Connecticutt. While young, or in his boyhood days, for some reason was bound out to a proffessional Quaker, who at length treated him so intensely mean that in process of time he left him and went to Massachusetts where he found employment with a wagon-maker, from whom he soon learned the traid and followed that branch of business in after life. There he formed an acquaintance with a verry ameable young lady by the name of Sally Hullett who eventually became his wife. She was born Oct. 29th, 1787, in Massachusetts near the Hostonic River, Lee Township.
In 1812 my father with his family emigrated to Portage County Ohio. He selected a location in Nelson Township where he opened up a small farm in a heavy timbered section of the county, mean time built a double log house, one room of which he used for a dwelling, the other for a wagon shop. It was in this building a little over 82 years ago that your humble servant was born.
My father was a soldier in the War of 1812.
Referring to the family circle in its order I will first remark that twelve children were born to our parents, but one having died at the time of its birth received no name. The rest in order of age figures sup as follows—William, Edwin, Charles, Katherine Louisa, Harriett, Emeline, Chauncey, Almon, Gene, Sylvester and Francis Lewis. All of which will be noticed more fully in their place.
I will here remark that preparitory to our removal from Clay to Caldwell county, my mother packed a verry large chest with his most valuable clothing, and with these, the old family Bible containing the record of births and deaths was also placed. But upon false pretense the chest was seized upon and retained, by a man heretofore professing to be a special friend.
The loss of this record leaves us unable to give all the particulars as to dates (But four of the oldest children were born in Massachusetts: the rest in Portage county Ohio.)
In refering to the matters under consideration, I will in brief notice localities where the Whiting family resided, as also the deaths which have occurred along their meandering paths.
If memory serves correctly, it was in the year of 1831, that William, my oldest brother, with his family, emigrated to Jackson county Missourie. But in the fall of 1833, the mob fell upon the saints who had located there and in a little encounter which ensued, he was wounded by the enemy. After which he with the rest of the saints crossed the river into Clay county. There he was taken sick with a fever which together with the wound, (as the Doctor said), terminated in his death. Which occurred in 1833 or 4. Lydia, his wife died in Freamont County, Iowa.
In 1835 or 36, our father emigrated to Missouri, but at length purchased land in Caldwell county and moved his family upon it. But our stay at that place was of but short duration, when because of mob violence was compelled to leave the state. We next settled in Adams County Illinois. But a few years only, had passed when a like result followed, and in order to save his life and family from the ravages and cruelty of a ruthless mob, he crossed the river into Iowa, an unsettled country save by a few scattered white inhabitants and roving bands of Indians.
Being destitute (having lost everything by a merciless foe,) he was compelled to stop at a place called Pisgah, on the Grand river, where many of the fleeing saints who were unable to proceed further had encamped in order to raise something to keep them from starvation.
At this place our dear mother, Sally Whiting, through exposure, privation and hardship which she had endured, laid down her precious life. She died August 1846.
Our dear father, was now left alone save the two youngest boys Sylvester and Lewis. Being without a house-keeper, and having formed an acquaintance with a very respectable and amiable widow by the name of Head, in process of time chose her for a companion. But on December 15th 1844, she also left this vale of tears to join her friends in the brighter realms on high.
Two of our kind and loving mothers had now passed away, leaving our aged, lonely and heart-broken father to mourn the loss of dear ones. But alas his precious life, was fast nearing its end. On Feb. 21st 1848 his spirit ascended on high to meet his dear associates, and join that happy throng who have washed their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.
The remaining portion of a once large and happy family who were then left to mourn the loss of loved ones were (as we readily see), scattered in different and distant lands, and seemingly no one left to care for or drop a sympathetic tear over the lonely graves where the sacred dust of our honored and aged parents, as well as others of the family relation are sleeping.
How oft with deep emotion do we recall the sweet smiles, the kind words, the warm and heart-felt caresses of a precious and dearly beloved mother; yes that mother who in her pure and undying love have passed many a sleepless night in watchful vigil over her sick and suffering offsprings. How often with feelings of respect and heart-felt gratitude do we remember the kindness of a faithful loving and indulgent father; the denial of self enjoyment in order to lavish gifts and comfort upon the family circle, the toil and hardship endured while endeavoring to procure the necessaries of life, are all fresh in our memory. Indeed a mention of these things sink deep into the recesses of the already sorrowful and aching heart and makes it hard to suppress a sympathetic and unbidden tear from coursing down the careworn and furrowed cheek.
But to return to the subject. Having already in the foregoing noticed some of the incidents connected with the moves of William, my older brother, I will next remark that Edwin Whiting was born in Lee Berkshire County Massachusetts. The number of years that he resided in Ohio, Missourie, Illinois, and Iowa, I am unable to say. But I think it was in 1847, that he with his family emigrated to Utah. The date of his death I cannot give. This you can get from their family record.
Charles Whiting was born in Lee Birkshire county Massachusetts.s Died in Schyler county Illinois. Dates I have not got. Martha, his wife died at Winter Quarters (now Florence) Nebraska.
Katharine Louisa Whiting was born in Lee Birkshire county Massachusetts Oct. 3, 1813. Died in Michigan May 20, 1900. Aged 87 years. Her husband’s name was Nelson Talcott. He had died several years before.
Harriet Whiting was born in Nelson Township Portage County Ohio. Date of birth and death I have not got.
Emeline Whiting was born in Nelson Townships Portage county Ohio. Died at Manti Utah, March 4, 1896 aged 79 years. The date of the death of her husband Walter Cox I have not got.
Chauncey Whiting was born in Nelsons Township Portage county Ohio August 19th 1819.
Almon Whiting was born in Nelson Township Portage county Ohio November 17th 1821.
Gene Whiting was born in Nelson Township Portage county Ohio. Date of birth and death I have not got.
Sylvester Whiting was born in Nelson Township Portage County Ohio July 29, 1828.
Francis Lewis Whiting was born in Nelson Township Portage county Ohio September 22 1830.
My wife Editha Ann Whiting died in Otter Tail county Minn. March 30, 1893 aged 75 years two months and five days. In the foregoing I have noted dates near as I could learn or memory served, and should there be any mistake or addition necessary for correction, you are at liberty to make or correct the same as seemeth the good general history of these things. I might have made some points more plain and arranged matters in a little better order. But the same as seemeth thee good.
But you can make the crooked strait and drive the nails in their proper order. As to home, or local matters, I have nothing of importance to relate and will only add that health with us at present reasonably good, crops are fine. Trouble and sorrow however finds but little, if any abatement with the old man.
Please drop a line and let me know if you have received this, and if all matters are satisfactory. But should there be any other item connected with the matter that you would wish to learn please let me know and I will try and be more prompt in answer.
Indeed I feel ashamed of the delay mentioned in the foregoing, but I could not in reason help it, and will try and be more prompt in future. Having no special news to relate I will close with respects, kind regards and well wishes to yourself, companion and friends.
C. Whiting Sr.
Note by Daisy Fletcher February 18, 1965. Perhaps the date for the removal of the Elisha Whitings from Massachusetts to Ohio should be later than 1812. My grandmother Jennie Whiting, daughter of Catherine Louisa, says her mother was about three years of age and remembered the ride across the mountains in the covered wagon. Also, Elisha was a soldier in the War of 1812 which didn’t end until about 1815.
We’ve lost our dear old Grandpa
So patient kind and good
Our hearts were filled with sorrow
As round the grave we stood
And heard the preacher murmuring
The farewell words of prayer.
And the singers’ voices ringing out
Upon the calm still air.
As I gazed upon his gentle face
All framed in Snowy white
I knew he was in heaven
Among the angels bright
I thot of all the loving deeds
His patient hands had done
The cross, the crown, the glory
The victory well won.
And now our dear old Grandpa
Is sleeping neath the sod
His well earned rest he’s gained at last
His spirit is with God
He’s left this world of care and pain
For heaven so bright and fair
And we hope some day we all may meet
Among the angels there.
Daisy and Bonnie
(Daisy Whiting and Bonnie Grinnell)
by Jennie Talcott Whiting
More than one hundred years ago, your great great grandfather, Elisha Whiting and his wife, Sally, left their home in Massachusetts and traveled westward across the mountains until they came to Ohio, which was then a vast wilderness. In the township of Nelson, Portage County, they secured some land on which they built a log house and thus made themselves a new home.
Of their journey, I can tell you but little, as my mother, your great grandmother who told me the story was only three years of age at that time and could only remember about riding in a big covered wagon, but they may have had some stirring adventures as their pathway lay across the ranges of three mountains, over which roamed wild animals and wilder Indians. But your great great grandfather was a strong, brave man who was used to hardships and dangers and if he was attacked by wild animals or by Indians he was victorious for he reached his destination in safety.
He chose a pleasant spot on the top of a gently sloping hill to erect his log cabin. I have seen the place many times myself. At the foot of the hill was a spring of clear cold water so they had no need to dig a well.
The house contained only one large room below with a huge fireplace reaching nearly across one end. There were no nice cook stoves or ranges in those days, and your great grandmother had to cook over the fire in the fireplace. It was furnished with a great crane to swing out and in to hang kettles and other cooking utensils on. For baking she had a large shallow kettle with an iron cover, called a "bake kettle", and when her bread was ready to bake, she would knead it into one large loaf, place it in the kettle, put the iron cover on, and set the kettle on some coals she had raked out on the stone hearth. Then taking a long handled shovel, she would shake coals all over the cover and leave it to bake. Delicious bread it was when it was baked and ready for the table.
Opposite the fireplace they had beds, and ranged around the room in different places were their cupboard, table, and chairs and a large chest in which to keep clothes and other things. They had brought an old fashioned bureau made of black walnut which was the pride of your great great great grandmother’s heart. She had a mirror too, hanging over a shelf her husband made for her and when she had her things all arranged to her satisfaction she thought her home was very cozy and pleasant.
They had no lamps in those days but in the evening would build great blasting fires in the big fireplace and then set fire to pine knots which they used in place of candles and which with the blazing logs in the fireplace lighted up the room pretty well; and what pleasant evenings they spent sitting around the fire, the mother busy with her knitting, the boys listening to stories their father would tell of his adventures in his boyhood days. Oh, people enjoyed themselves better in those days than they do now with all of their modern improvements. They led simpler lives and were healthier and happy and contented, and contentment is better than riches.
Above the large room was a loft where the boys-William, Edwin, and Charles slept. I think Mother (whose name was Catherine Louisa) and her little sister, Emeline, slept in a trundle bed which was pushed under their Mother’s bed when not in use. After awhile more boys and girls came and the house became so crowded that your great grandfather built a frame house with more rooms in it. And your great grandmother and Emeline had a bedroom upstairs and their mother had one downstairs, large enough for her bed and the trundle bed in which little Harriet and Jane slept—until so many little brothers came they too had to have a room upstairs. There was Chauncey* and Almon and Sylvester and Lewis*.
They worked hard and after awhile had tallow candles to use in the place of pine knots and your great great grandfather built him a shop and made wagons and chairs to sell and could make many pieces of furniture for the house, as the older boys were now large enough to do farm work.
They used to hunt in the woods and had grand old times but I am writing this story for little girls to read and hunting stories don’t interest them.
When I was a little girl I would often beg Mother to tell me stories about what she used to do when she was a little girl and one time she told me of an awful fright she once had.
It was evening and the family (with the exception of Father who was away somewhere) sat around the fire enjoying themselves. Mother, feeling sleepy, concluded to retire and went up the stairs into her room. She never thought of taking a light with her but slipped off her clothes in the dark and put her hand out to turn down the covers when O Horror! She felt a great hairy head lying on her pillow. She screamed with fright and fled down the stairs, never thinking of her scanty attire, and burst into the room where the family was assembled, crying that there was a man sleeping in her bed. Her Mother was a brave little woman and she seized the broom in one hand and carrying a candle in the other ascended the stairs, followed by the boys, armed with clubs, entered the room intending to rout the intruder out—and what do you suppose she saw? I don’t suppose you can guess so I will tell you. It was their old dog, Paint, who had sneaked upstairs and thinking Mother’s soft featherbed a nice resting place had lain down to take a nap. How the boys did laugh and how foolish Mother felt when she remembered her scanty attire. It was a long time before she heard the last of her burglar as the boys were full of fun and mischief and loved to tease her.
*Chauncey was Isaac Whiting’s father & Jennie’s future father-in-law. Lewis was Francis Lewis Whiting
She was a pretty little girl, very fair, with blue eyes and jet black hair. She was the oldest daughter in the family and had to begin helping her mother when she was quite young. I don’t know just how old she was when she began helping about the washing, but she was helping wash one day and her mother told her if she worked good she might go and see her friend, Permelia Pritchard, when the washing was done, and as she lived more than a mile distant she might stay over night.
It was very lonesome living on a farm in the thick woods of Ohio, without any near neighbors, and the idea of going to stay all night with Permelia was very pleasant to her and she worked so well that the washing was done and put out to dry early in the day. She then combed and braided her long black hair and put on a clean dress and apron, donned her wraps and started, smiling happily at the thought of the pleasure before her.
What was her consternation on the coming out of the door to find their old pet goose waiting, with the apparent intention to going with her? She liked to play with him well enough around home but did not desire his company on this occasion so ran around the house two or three times trying to get away from him. It was of no use, he could run faster than she could, so she thought of another plan. Snatching a wet sock from the bushes, she caught him and holding him fast drew it over his head and long neck, saying to him, "I won’t have you tagging me every place I go." She climbed over the fence and ran quickly up the path through the woods. The old gander was badly frightened and ran ‘round and ‘round trying to liberate himself and getting up such a squawking that your great great grandmother soon came out to see what was the matter and what all the racket was about. She soon liberated him and was so indignant of Catherine’s treatment of him that she would have called her back if she had not ran so fast she was out of hearing distance now.
She stopped running as soon as she thought she was out of danger of pursuit from the gander and walked along through the woods, listening to the songs of the birds and admiring the wild flowers that grew in great profusion everywhere.
She found on reaching Permelia’s house there was a peddler there displaying his goods. She was too bashful to think of going near although she would have liked to see the pretty things he had. So she sat down in a chair by the fireplace although Permelia who was not a bit bashful was flitting around here and there. Seeing how quiet Catherine wash, and knowing how bashful she was, she thought of a great joke she would play on her to tease her. Stepping around back of her chair she slyly tied Catherine’s long apron strings to a stick of wood lying on the hearth. Catherine heard her fussing around behind her chair but was so engrossed in watching the peddler she forgot how fond Permelia was of practical jokes, and when she said, "Come on, let’s go out and play", she rose unsuspectingly and started to follow her. But what was that thing following her and making such a noise that everyone turned to look at her? On glancing back over her shoulder she saw the big stick tied to her apron string and she was so embarrassed and angry she had a great mind to turn around and go straight home.
It was nearly dark by this time and she was afraid to go alone through the woods, and then she knew well enough she would get a scolding from her mother for treating the old gander so badly; so after telling Permelia what she thought of her little joke, went with her to play, for she realized she really meant no harm but was just full of fun and mischief…
On another occasion an Indian Chief came to their house bringing his little boy with him. He was a cute looking little fellow with shining black eyes and copper colored skin and his father felt very proud of him. Both the father and son were decked out with beads, earrings and brooches. The Chief took a glittering brooch from his blanket and offered it to Catherine, if she would kiss his little son. She would have liked the pin all right, but could not bring herself to pay the price. The Chief, much offended, left at once. Your great great grandmother was a little bit frightened when he stalked away, walking very straight, and feared he might return and do them some harm, but he did not and they never saw him again.
Do you think you would have liked to have lived in those times? I hardly think I would although I was fond of listening to the stories Mother used to tell us about what happened to her in her childhood. Ohio does not look now, like it did then, as the big woods have been cleared away and big cities built where the trees once were thick and green and wild animals roamed everywhere.
NOTE: Written by Sarah Jane Talcott Whiting for her granddaughter Violet Adella Whiting Dillee and given her as a Christmas gift in about 1919 or 1920. This is a partial copy of a copy.
These writings are mainly taken from the Spring Valley, Wisconsin Sun newspaper. When grandma referred to her grandfather, she is referring to Isaac Whiting. Likewise, when she refers to Grandmother, she is referring to Sarah Jane (Jennie) Whiting.
August 6, 1936
…This is a summer that will surely teach us the need for courage and patience and the kind of economy our grandparents knew. I can speak with authority of my grandparents’ economy, having been taken into their home by the stork, and made most welcome by them, although they had already reared nine children. I count myself blessed indeed in having shared that home, where many of the ordinary comforts of life were lacking.
But there was love and courtesy and faith in each member of the family, and there were long, enchanted evenings spent listening to grandmother’s gentle voice as she read aloud to us. But grandmother was also blessed, had she but known it, as where is the mother today who can gather her children around her evenings and keep them contented as she reads to them. I do not know of one, do you?
September 24, 1936
….A few have questioned me lately in regard to my first initial. There has not, you understand, been any great rush for information on this subject, but just a little surprise, idly expressed, by some long-time acquaintances who had no idea that I owned an "F" of my own. So this is how it happened. My mother, as a very young girl, once read a paper-backed novel entitled An Old Man’s Darling or A Young Man’s Bride. Never having read this book, I do not know whether its title is an interrogation or a statement. I cannot imagine how mother was ever allowed to read such a book, as grandmother exercised very strict jurisdiction over my reading, and although I searched secretly and diligently for the aforesaid book I never laid eyes upon it. However, it had for its heroine the beauteous Bonniebell De Vere, and this accounts for my middle initial. My father, in whose family "Frances" was an old and oft-repeated name, insisted that it be my first name. He must have been surprised when this was sweetly consented to by my mother; but she won her point after all by using only the first half of the middle name. All this while I was helpless to protect my own interests.
Spring Valley Sun, June 17, 1937
There are so many days we would like to live over again, not because they were happy days but in order that they might be lived differently. We would like, for instance, to live over again that long-gone day when, with a new suitcase and Aunt Emily's battered old valise in the back of the buggy, we journeyed with grandfather to the depot at Clitherall. Silence, heavily burdened with unshed tears, lay upon us both. Click, clack, went old Dolly's hoofs down the hills, and swish-swoosh through the sandy ravines and every minute brought that parting nearer--and how we did hope that grandfather was knowing, without being told, that we didn't want to go away. Opportunity had beckoned to us goldenly from the distant city and we had to go, driven by that inward urge that comes to all young people. The village lay just ahead before grandfather spoke huskily, "Better come back home with your old grandpa."
That brought the tears in floods but it could not stay that terrific urge to try our wings alone. Grandfather must shave realized that here was a force that could not be combated, even by love, for he said no more.
How often we were to wish for the power to live that day over; to have turned back with grandfather and gone peacefully home to the familiar click-clacking of old Dolly's leisurely hoofs.
Yet who can measure the life we did not live. Who knows how valueless it might have been? Just at this time of the year, when all over our country young wings are being tested for their ability to fly alone, we all ought to remember the day when we would try ours, against the advice of all our elders.
And then it might be well to think of some of the days of our lives that we would not want to live over again--days that held defeat. The day that held the doctor's verdict "there is no hope". We can usually be grateful for the present when we recall some days of the past.
October 15, 1936
Do you know the real meaning of home-sickness—that dread disease beyond the power of any doctor to cure? Which can only be cured by sight of the place for which we long? Thirty years have failed to cure me of home-sickness—I still yearn for the morning sunlight on the dear hills of home—for the old white house, and the song of the waves where Lake Clitherall rolls in beauty beneath Minnesota skies. That narrow strip of land, less than two miles in width, which lies between Clitherall and Battle Lakes once held my entire world, and it is to that loved spot that my heart must ever return. Yet even though home-sickness means pain, I think that it is a blessed pain and those who have never had the opportunity to know this anguish are to be pitied. For it is to feel yourself a part of one certain portion of the earth, that calls to you and claims you as its own wherever you may be. And there is always that fond hope of someday going back again, a hope that never admits the change in all things.
April 6, 1939
"Historic Site Ahead" the sign, placed by the Minn. State Historical Society, informed us, but we knew that the historic spot ahead could be nothing else than grandfather’s old "field-road," crossing the railroad track to the back section of the old farm. And so it proved to be. As we came to an abrupt halt upon the wide highway, we faced an imposing sign: "Old Clitherall—
Known also as Old Town. Named for Major George B. Clitherall, U.S. Land Officer. Was settled in 1865.—
The community flourished for many years, but gradually disintegrated, and with the building of New Clitherall the Old Town has gradually disappeared."
The sign-writer had needed all the arts of his trade to condense into those brief lines seventy-four years of Old Town’s history. Only one who was native to the place could realize all that lay between the lines. Being native, we looked at it and sighed, seeing the changing panorama of the years it covered. How often we had seen in imagination, as we listened to the stirring tales of that early settlement, the covered wagon caravan of only forty-one souls driving over the brow of the hill for the first time.
But the field road was impassable so we retraced our way a quarter of a mile to another sign reading: "Ye Olde Towne Campe," which we could not help viewing with distaste as an attempt to make the genuine appear more so. Old Town being really old needs no extra e-s to emphasize its claim to fame.
Probably the thing that impressed us most during the visit home was the fact that nothing was as we had expected it to be. In other days the winding road had known only the clatter of wagon-wheels, and later the elegance of rubber tired buggies. We were far from home when the astonishing automobile made its first appearance. Ten years ago we had found the old place echoing to a constant roar of traffic, truck after truck careening down the hill and around the corner and on to Battle Lake; tourist cabins already springing up, here and there, like first hardy plantings. And so we had expected to find it last week, forgetting what that wide straight highway would mean to the places it missed. We found an Old Town returned to its original peace and quiet, but for the Northwest Air Line planes that thunder overhead at regular intervals. We found a lake whose beach had receded two hundred feet, with piers that led far out into what had been lovely shining water ten years ago. We found a school-house unchanged outwardly, bearing its insignia: "District No. 1" but brightly modern within. Instead of the long recitation bench and charts and battered seats we remembered we saw single seats, a piano, heatrola, cunning little chairs and tables for the younger ones. We went out hastily, unwilling to lose a loved memory.
And then there was the old home itself, and the sight of it tugged at every heart-string. It looked so exactly the same, with its little latticed porches and every window giving upon a room we know so well—so well. Impossible that the door would never open again to frame grandmother'’ dear figure. And just then the kitchen door did open and out frolicked a group of little folks, so gay and engaging and friendly that as we talked with them we could feel all our resentment at the idea of strangers in the old house melting away. We hope the old walls will be as kindly protective to these little ones as they ever were to us.
As a librarian, I love the following story:
The further I plod along life’s lengthening trail, the more I am enabled to appreciate the library that my grandparents collected. They were pioneers—first settlers in their particular wilderness. Yet they carried with them in their covered wagon a few of the books they loved best. Through the hard and perilous years they managed to add to this collection, book by book. Thrifty neighbors considered them extravagant because of this use of meager funds, but I do not believe they ever considered it a sacrifice to do without some comfort-adding article, if going without meant having a few more books. And I know now that we had the best in literature.
A few of their books have come to me. Among them are such authors as Dickens, Ruskin, George Eliot, Cooper. Sometimes I have dimly realized, looking perhaps at their ponderous volume of Shakespeare’s plays, that this is a legacy of human sacrifice, of better worth than common currency.
Grandma was a reader her entire life. Here is a story where it got her in trouble
There is no candor quite so fearless nor so cruel nor so altogether truthful as the candor of children. When I was a child a little girl once spent what seemed to me a very long afternoon with me. Our tastes differed. She wanted to play house, I wanted to read. We played house. And in the late afternoon she took a leave that was unaccompanied by any expression of regret on my part—in fact, grandmother was so shocked by my lack of cordiality that she spoke to me sternly, bidding me tell May how I had enjoyed the afternoon. I protested but grandmother was firm and her gentle word was law. Unwilling then I called to May just as she had reached the gate. She turned back eagerly, the westering sun making a halo around her small figure. And how often I have wished since that I might recall the word I then uttered.
"May," I said in honest abandon, "I didn’t have a bit of fun this afternoon."
Well, grandmother had always urged me to tell the truth, so I told it, and was bewildered to find that the truth is not always best. And so, if we could only understand what prompts a child to be so dismayingly candid, we would find some very simple explanation. I have to admit that it took me some time to explain to grandmother, and I doubt that I ever won May’s forgiveness.
I always envied my grandmother, since she routinely went to bed late at night and arose much later than I had to. However, as you see by her following account, such was not always the case.
"…there was an unwritten law in grandfather’s house that every member of the family must arise at five o’clock. Grandfather was adamant when it came to law-enforcing, therefore we arose. Grandfather also had a most ingenious method of awakening us. The upstairs hall was heated by the pipe from the kitchen range. Grandfather sounded the alarm by rapping smartly upon the pipe downstairs with the poker, a most dreaded summons, especially when winter held the old house fast in an icy grip.
Perhaps our earliest recollections are of obeying that summons. Shivering, with our clothes in our arms (being young enough to be granted the special privilege of dressing behind the "front-room" heater) we stumbled down the stairs, never failing to drop a stocking or two on the way down. Once dressed and with morning prayers attended to we could curl up on the old sofa and nap the pre-breakfast hour away.
Looking backward it has always seemed to us that his insistence on the matter of early rising, so needless in the routine of a small child’s day, was just about the only flaw in grandfather’s disposition. Very likely it accounts for our present-day unwillingness to sit up and examine a new day. It probably affected our own disposition, as children who are roused too early are certain to be anything but placid.
The story I remember most as a child is meeting a panther on the Old Clitherall road. To my surprise, I found a completely different version in her column.
October 5, 1939
The mention of panthers always reminds us of the old man, not right mentally, whom grandfather befriended by allowing him to build his cabin upon his land. This old man suffered from a panther hallucination to such an extent that he imagined he could see one stalking grandfather as he went back and forth across the field. Stirred by the desire to protect his friend, he followed, too, with his rifle on his shoulder, round after weary round, year after year, so long as his strength permitted. Probably it was watching this devoted friend of grandfather’s guarding him so faithfully from what was to him a very real menace, that gave us our panther complex. We could not see any thing remotely resembling a panther, but that bent, plodding man with the rifle could, and how could we be perfectly certain who saw aright? Privately, we always thought grandfather was in far greater danger from his guard than anything else, but it had long ago become a simple matter of routine to both.
But there was friendship, pure and firm, as it is given to few to know—the sort of friendship that is willing to sacrifice and grow weary for the sake of the friend, all done so simply and matter-of-factly as to be accepted as a commonplace.
Just the same, we hope we have no friend so devoted as to trail us with a rifle.
Grandma received an "Honorable Mention" from a Grand Forks, North Dakota newspaper for the following essay. She was in seventh grade at the time and was then living with her mother, Addie and stepfather, Alexander (Sandy) Slattery. Sandy was a riverboat pilot for the Corps of Engineers and later became a caretaker for a hotel in Grand Forks. Tragically, he was killed in 1924 in a fire at the hotel while saving the guests.
On the Broad, Breezy Prairie
The picnic most vividly outlined in my memory is one which was composed of a large umbrella, a basket, a black-and-white dog, and two happy girls. The umbrella was to shade us from the sun, the basket was to hold our lunch, the canine was my dog Sailor, and the two girls were my friend M. and myself. The picnic ground was not chosen in a spot noted for its beauty or its historical interest, but on a broad, breezy prairie-land. M. and I had decided to spend the afternoon on the prairie, have supper there and go home in the cool evening.
Oh! that weary journey going! The umbrella was so large we did not wish to raise it until we were outside the city limits, consequently the sun blazed down upon us. How hot it was! But when we reached the prairie it was refreshing to lie in the cool shade of the prairie grass, to watch the many-hued butterflies skimming lightly over the buttercups, and to listen to the long, lazy moo-o-o of a distant cow.
Sailor busied himself digging in the soft ground for fancied bones, and after we had rested we played games and gathered buttercups until we had hundreds of the golden prairie flowers. Supper was then prepared. Sailor took great interest in this, and while he was enjoying the remains we wove the blossoms into wreaths, ropes, etc. Then as the violet mantle of twilight fell slowly and softly over the prairie, we started homeward. I fear we resembled a flower parade, we were decked out so finely with buttercups and even Sailor had a chain of them around his neck. I shall always remember this picnic because only merry hearts and joyous natures were present.
Frances Grinnell, 523 N Seventh Street, Grand Forks, N.D.
And, we end with a childhood poem of Grandma’s. This was written to Nettie Tucker. Her picture is on the left. Both she and Grandma would have been children when the poem was written. Here is the first page of the poem showing Grandma’s illustrations.
Old Town is the dearest spot
That ever I did see
There I know every single soul,
And every single soul knows me.
Dear Net do you remember
In the happy days gone by,
When we used to romp together
Beneath the summer sky
One of our summer pleasures—
The dancing butter-fly,
I see upon its gauzy wings
The color of your eye.
we did build of logs,
Down by the slough among the
But some boys found it, and they
We found some ashes where
it had been.
And now dear Net I must close
This book of my thoughts to
May it ever be a pledge
Of friendship between us
From Frances Bonniebell Grinnell
Nettie Rose Tucker
By Daisy Whiting
I am sitting in Memories Castle,
Surrounded by treasures of old
I am back in the dear old homestead
And these are things I behold
Outside the wind is blowing
But what does it matter to me
I am close by the warm bright fire,
And am singing my dolly to sleep
Hush, Dolly, my darling be quiet,
Cause I’ve got so much to do
I can’t sit here all the morning
Singing and talking to you.
He wings of memory waft me,
The scent of the summer flowers,
And I’m treading again the well known paths
I trod in those happy hours.
And always there wanders beside me
A dear little blue eyed maid;
Her hair is rather tousled,
And her apron is torn I’m afraid
But in all the pictures of Memory
There is none I would rather see
Than this dear little maid with tangled curls
Trotting along with me.
Together we stray to the woodland,
And there ‘neath its shady bowers,
Hither and thither we gaily flit,
Searching its hidden flowers.
How sweet is the scent of the roses,
That blossom beside the way,
I see them now as I saw them then,
In that dear, dear yesterday.
Ah me, in days of childhood,
The skies are always blue,
The roses always thornless
And the joys of life are new.
For God in His infinite mercy,
Has hidden the future from sight,
And we never dream of the shadows,
That will cloud our day ‘ere night.
Again in her favorite corner,
My Mother’s dear figure I see,
She swings back and forth in her rocker
And as I lean on her knee
I whisper "Say Mother
Do you know what I’m going to do
When you are crippled up in the corner
I’ll do all the work for you."
She laughs as she smoothes from my forehead,
The curls that are clustering there;
And I think as I gaze on her features
There’s no other half so fair.
When Father comes home in evening,
I clamber upon his knee
And I listen to all the stories
That he used to tell to me
The tale of a man in the jungle,
Pursued by a terrible beast;
The tale of the netted lion,
And the mouse who brought release.
And there I sit and listen,
"Till at last I fall asleep,
And all the stories he tells me,
Are mingled with my dreams.
Through this dear old castle of Memory
A long procession goes,
Ever changing, ever new,
Like the tide as it ebbs and flows.
And as they pass before me,
These scenes of long ago,
They play on my trembling heartstrings
Like music soft and low.
It fills my soul with longing,
And a feeling of vain regret,
Sweeps o’er me as I listen,
And leaves my lashes wet.
So I’ll close the door to this castle,
This castle of Memory dear,
And softly say "Goodby, old days,
Goodby dear vanished years."
Daisy Evangeline Whiting
"Mother refers" to Sarah Jane (Jennie) Talcott Whiting
The little blue eyed maid refers to Frances Bonniebell Grinnell