Father united with the Presbyterian Church in boyhood. His admonition has been heeded by some of us. He gave his children to God in baptism, in faith believing that all would eventually be brought into the fold of Christ and be united family in Heaven above. He said, "Here I am and these children that God has given me". Father was precept and example. His picture hangs on the wall of my parlor. I look upon his dear face and say, "Line upon line, and precept upon precept." I never knew the time he did not say Grace at the table and have family prayer. As age crept on his eyes began to fail. He would have the children read a chapter of their own selection. Eleanor's turn came to read, and she selected a chapter in Proverbs which read, "A time to Dance". She thought that would soften his benediction on dancing. He was very much opposed to our dancing. I remember the first time I ever danced. It was at Morris Brooks' to an applecut.1 I know I trembled in every limb, - I was disobeying father. I don't think I had any other fears. I have a shamed face for it yet.
Steadman Bottom introduced the violin into Church. Father, Uncle James, and Uncle John Hazlett left the church, I guess they had forgotten what David said about praising God with stringed instruments.
Father was never sued; had one note, sold; raised a large family and died out of debt. "Children are an inheritance from the Lord", We read that they are a defence [sic] in old age. Father was blessed with a goodly number of them. "O God, thou hast taught me from my youth, and I have declared thy wondrous works to this generation. Now that I am old and gray-headed, forsake me not until I have shown thy strength that it may reach from generation to generation."
Father was 70 years and 17 days old. Said he was living on borrowed time. "What wait I for, my hope is in thee?"
Father adhered to the Commandments so strictly he thought it was wrong to have his picture taken. He was introduced into an art gallery; the artist stole the march
1. Pioneer social events included barn raisings, quilting bees, cornhusking parties -- and applecutting. They would not have been able to can apples, applesauce or applebutter, so presumably they would sun dry apple slices and use them later for pies, Apple Betty, etc. Old pictures show a room full of bushels of apples, women with knives, and tables piled with apple slices. Communities then had little social activity, except for going to church. Apparently applecutting gatherings were often followed by dancing.
Parents struggle very hard to let their sons and daughters go to school in winter. In summer they must help work to earn their living. Now the sons and daughters are brought up to think that farm life is not high enough for them. They are educated for something higher. If not sent from home for education they grow at home with little other object than to have a good time. The daughters, if at home, are drumming on an organ or piano. If you would search the county records and see the borrowed money and mortgages to secure it, given by the father, you would not wonder that the farmers of today are crying "Hard Times".
Father was always a staunch Republican. Fifty years ago this fall Polk was elected President. A delegation went by our house to a mass meeting. Grandmother was there. She waved her apron and hurrahed for Polk. Vest Peck sang,
You see the children of those early settlers had everything alright but education as children have the opportunity of getting it today.
I don't remember grandfather but remember a rail he was splitting; his last work on earth. He left two wedges in it. Father said to us children not to knock them out. When the log began to rot he got them and laid them up in the house.
Wheeler Hubble supplied the surrounding country with half bushels, - Billy Cook with spinning wheels; McCullum and Place with shoes and boots. They would go from house to house. The farmers would buy their leather at the tannery. Each child had two pairs, cow hide and calf skin. Girls, our best shoes were bound calf skin. We thought they were nice. If you could have seen us prepared for church on the Sabbath you would have thought father kept a shoe store.
The first preacher I can remember was Orin Johnson, an old bachelor. The first tomatoes ever raised in this county he raised in father's garden back of the log house. He had no trouble keeping us children from eating them for the vines smelled so bad. Father raised a small patch of potatoes at the foot of Boon Hill. Sister Lib, Phoebe, and myself dug and carried them in a basket and deposited them in a dugout under the floor. Grandmother would have us rest and taught us the 23rd Psalm; - The Lord is My Shepherd; - we learned the Commandments, the Beatitudes, Lord's Prayer, Shorter Catechisms, and the names of the books of the Old and New Testaments.
Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2011, 2013, 2017 by William B. Thompson. Commercial use prohibited.