Pictures and Illustrations.
Children of Mary and Abner. Top (Left to Right): Mary Ann — Married Bill & Enos (?), Jane — Married Abram Wood, Sarah — Married William Strang, Bottom: Harriet — Married Amstrong, William, John, (?)
I am much wearied yet I have made unto mineself a solemn promise on the beginning of this Journey in the year of our Lord 1830 I would set forth what befell mineself and mine family for it is only in thiswise mine memory may be refreshed of the events transpiring on this perilous journey from the Old World to the New. Words do not express mine great anxiety upon this great journey-verily I do think on waking and glimpsing into mine mirror I will find mine locks will have become of a sudden white.
Oft I do thank the dear Father who watches over us all for His loving care and I do rejoice that many grave dangers are now passed and that the perilous Journey is nearly ended.
In the previous pages of mine Journal I have recounted many events of importance. How we did make the momentous decision to search for a new home in a far country for I did bring to mine present husband three stalwart sons and mine lovely daughter Mary. Other sons have we now and we do have another daughter also. I did possess in Yorkshire considerable properties and a fine home but the lads on hearing of the vast lands and fortunes to be had in the New World and being venturesome like unto their father did beset me to write to mine kinsmen already in the New World. Finally I did write to mine cousins Hosea and Marymum to stop the lads chatter and many months did pass ere I did receive an missive in reply and it was most worn and tattered from much handling. Much information did this letter contain concerning the aways of the Journey and the richness of the distant lands and from that day plans were made which brought us halfway round the world to this far distant trading post named Saint Louis.
Many events have befallen us since I last held mine quill so many indeed and so wearied are we by eventide having supped we do then drop straightway into sound slumber.
This is the Lord's day and it is our custom to cease all labor and spend the day in rest and prayer. The shadows do gather and it is the twilight hour, so I needs must light a taper that I may set down events in due order.
I had scarce sanded nine last words and was yet seated with nine portfolio before me when I heard the gladsome cry of daughter Mary as she did welcome the returned travelers. Benjamin did talk far into the night and did relate of their first stopping place at Wood River to inquire of the country of the Mauvaisterre for troopers do have headquarters at Wood River and do know much of the countries roundabout. It was a troublesome journey Benjamin did say for one did seek trails through wooded tracts — did ford streams and he did say they were once lost on the wide prairie and did discover they were returning instead of going onward to the country of the Mauvaisterre. There was a log tavern in a shire called Greene where they did spend the night. The beds were very poor indeed but they were served a well cooked breakfast of fried cakes hominy and meats and there was both milk and rum upon the table board and there was sweet country butter also.
Benjamin and the lad did leave the tavern by sunrise and followed the trail through thickets and brambles to the edge of the timber where they did come upon a clearing and did find a spring of fine cool water and above the spring they were astounded to see a cabin.
Most diligently have I sought amongst the great parcels stowed away in the bulkheads and I have sought through the chests and I have turned out the hampers also but I have been unsuccessful — quite — in finding mine portfolio inkhorn and quill and that which I most desired the previous pages of mine journal. Perchance these things were left behind in the great iron bound chests. These chests we did leave in storage at an inn on a vast lake called the Erie that we might bring the more needfull things than carpets andirons and other household gear. I even had to entreat Benjamin mine husband to bring mine feather-beds weighing sixty pounds each.
Indeed and I am much wearied for I have spent this day in tramping the rough uneven street that I might purchase some needful things for on the morrow at sunrise we do Journey on the river to an village called by the rivermen-Alton. There we do hope to meet Benjamin and the lad and they will conduct us on the final Journey. It is with small regret I do leave this place abounding in traders and black folk who do stare so rudely and scarce give one space to pass them by. This Saint Louis 3 damp and unhealthy where one does not wish to tarry.
Many days have gone by and we still await the coming of mine husband and the lad and I do grow impatient at the delay yet I do prefer this village to the squalor and uncouthness of the Mississippi trading post Saint Louis. At first we did pass a few days in the tavern but I do find it is best waiting on the boat at the mooring on the river. The roarsmen grow eager to be gone and mine family have become unruly and the lads do wrangle unseemly. I do send the younger folk to bed supperless and fain would chasten the elder ones with a birchen rod
4and various small shelters round about it. Benjamin did stay to drink from the spring and he did hold converse with the black folk laboring there. He was joining the lad when a hearty voice did halloo him from the cabin and a gentleman did say "What would you?" Benjamin did inquire of the trail leading into the country of the Mauvaisterre and he did tell this gentlemen Mister R. how he had came across the sea in search of these rich countries and did fetch along his good wife and lads and lasses. Minster R. did say the trail to guide them did go along the tree-notched road until one did reach the level prairie and on until Burnt Haystack Spring, was reached and there they perchance would find some one to guide them onward into country which they sought. He did say to Benjamin after some thought that he might chaffer with him and he did name a certain some of monies. Benjamin did refuse to bargain until he did see the country of the Mauvaisterre although he did much admire this spot.
Three days did Benjamin and the lad visit mine kinsmen the Allisons and the Linns and they did greatly urge him to make an homestad near by. Benjamin did look about a bit and did laugh and say the very name Mauvaisterre did mean barren ground and such did not please him when he could for a sum of monies hold that rich black soil that he did so much desire and there were shelters too and no cabin needs must be built. They did send gifts and greetings and did offer to assist Benjamin in transporting his family and the household gear that did await upon the mooring down at Alton town.
Benjamin and the lad did leave by dayspring on the fourth day and did pass the night with Mister R. some thirty miles back upon the
5trail. Benjamin on leaving Mister R. did make promise to return to the log tavern in the village near by with his family for he did not think it meet to close the bargain without consent of his good wife. Straightway the gentleman did offer his great wain and several yoke of oxen to transport our household without delay.
The journey was most wearisome as we did go swaying and creaking and jouncing and recking ever the wide prairies and through the timbered lands. The days were fine above us and we did encamp on the prairie by night. Mine family did remain at the tavern whilst Benjamin and mineself did mount an horse and ride to the site of our new Jr. home. Mister R. was most kind and he did bargain the hay and grain to feed the stock we did purchase of him and then with a wide and generous gesture he did offer his black folk to remain and assist us all through this first hard winter in the new country. I did see the stables built of legs and thatched over the top and did note the many small shelters built about and then he did show the cabin of two rooms with a loft built above where the lads might sleep. There was a vast fire-place built of fieldstone in the kitchen room. This cabin was as comfortable shelter as one could find on these prairies. I did say to mine husband that we had sought a home in this new country and we had indeed found it — God be thanked! An humble home mayhap but a shelter from the coming cold and storms of winter.
We did hasten to the tavern to fetch our family and the household gear and by eventide we were safe in our new home. Lottie the black woman did cook a fine stew of meat and vegetables and she did bake an hot bread of meal upon the hearth — for we do have an
6oxmill to grind our grain — and she did set forth cheese and fresh butter. We did urge Mister R. to remain with us and to break bread with us on our first meal in the new home but he did mount his fine chestnut mare and ride away whilst it was yet light enough to follow the trail and to ford the streams in safety. He did promise to assist in marking the borders of our lands and to make record of our transaction in the land office.
There is much labor to be done. Trees must be felled for we will need a vast amount of fuel and there is the remainder of the grain to be gathered in for there are many animals here to be fed through the long winter. Great mounds of prairie grass are already heaped by the stables and huge wracks of wood must be ready at the chopping block.
Each morning after breakfast is eaten I do gather mine family even the black folk before the hearth and I do read a chapter from the English Bible and Benjamin does pray and ask guidance of the dear Father and His protection alas especially in these our first days in the wilderness.
The lads do assist in the felling of the trees and with the care of the stock whilst Mary and I do spin and knit. Jane does mind the small lads for they are ever in mischief as small lads do ever seem to be. Many stitches must be taken for we do number mine and no seamstress is at hand as in the Old World. I do wish to have a sufficient supply of garments and Lottie is most willing in all manner of labor. Strange does it seem as I do gaze about me but I have a stout heart and will not be always looking back over mine shoulder on the days of mine youth in England.
Verily I do lose count on the days that do pass so quickly by but I do mark this day. I was spinning by the open door for the air was soft and balmy and daughter Mary was combing her brown curls before the mirror when I did espy an horseman coming cut of the timber. A man did guide the beast but we did see as he drew near a lady seated on the pillon. Thus came our first guest (save Mister R.) I did cease the wheel and did go adown to the horse to greet them. The gentleman did dismount and sweep his hat from his head and make low obeisance and did say he had fetched his wife Mistress Hannah M. and then right in the midst of mine curtsy he did assist her from the pillon. We did return to the cabin whence I did send the lad Johnathan with Mister M. in search of mine husband Benjamin last seen at the stables.
We did spend the afternoon seated on a bench beside the cabin door with our knitting and meanwhiles did Mistress M. tell how they did some by way of Liverpool from there home in Yorkshire. They were the most part of a year ere they did reach the trading past Saint Louis still called these ten years agone by some-Vincands. They needs must remain at Edwardsville quite some time to secure their patent-writ. A great piece of parchment she did say signed by the president Mister James Monroe. They did keep this in an iron casket with their gold monies fetched all the way from England.
She did laugh a bit when I did inquire of the smoke that does hang low upon the prairies. Did it come from the campfires of the red men I did wish to know or was it smoke drifting from the chimneys of the cabins? It seems that always I do see smoke both at dawn and at
8eventide. It is the mists she did say rising from the brooks and the streamlets flowing near by and yet I do wish to think of it as low smoke drifting from many cabins — prairie smoke.
Mistress M. did tell of the folk hereabout. Some did come from the Old World as we did making the troublesome journey beset by many trials and hardships. Some did hither come by wagon train. Great wains did they have with canvas stretched over the high bows and many oxen did draw the load. They did come through mountain passes and did ford deep rivers and over-turn in sloos (a strange name I think for lowlands covered by water.) Some came by stage resting in taverns and cabins along the way. Some came overland from the South riding and some did walk. Always there were children in these trains.
She did say there was never a cabin for many miles about when they did build their cabin save a few in the village and the log tavern. I did wish to know if I could purchase print and flannel and a few pots I did have need of and she did tell of the village store — a poor sort and she did say also that oft folk coming from the East would bargain away some of the supplies they did fetch along with them. Sugar was scarce and salt had to fetched in from the salt-licks not so far away and of white flour there was none to be had.
The winters I did learn were for the most part mild save when the winds blew. One did learn to dread these winds blowing in through the chinks of the cabin walls and down the wide chimney filling the rooms with a blinding and chocking smoke. When the cold did come down folk did place boughs of the cedar tree outside of the cabin walls and did dash them with water that they might freeze to the logs and earth
9and snow packed close against them. Inside the wall were hung with blankets and the hides of buffalo. One does use these hides atop the blankets to give warmth to the beds stuffed up with prairie grasses.
Many ways did I learn of the New World in that short time and I was loathe to see mine guest mount the pillon and ride away to their home. Mary did bring on the twin lads in clean garments and tiny James also. Mistress M. did greatly admire their genteel manners and I do now feel much repaid for the time spent in their behalf. She does have lad and lasses numbering seven. Mister M. did say that their cable was but four miles away — as the crow flies — knowing well the crow does fly above the timber and we must needs ride through it.
Benjamin did say how Mister M. was of the nobility for Sir James his elder brother was barrister to His Majesty the King of England. They do have monies and properties in Yorkshire but much does belong to Sir James and they did seek fortune in this New World. He did bring gold monies with him as we did but he did carry it boldly in an great carpet-sack and we did hide the most part of ours in the babe's cradle.
Tonight there is a fine sunset in rose and gold and I do long to be once more in England. I can most see the street of our quiet village and the sound of the bells from the steeple I can most hear.
This day did Benjamin and mineself go to bargain at the village store. A poor place of logs with its motley collection of wares on the one side and on the other was a vast pile of odorous skins of wild breasts and close by was a barrel of whiskey with a large mug atop and
10men did stand close by the barrel and talk in loud gruff voices and did drink the while. Many did have on garments of the hunter and of the woodsman and they did stare rudely at Benjamin in his moat blue and at mineself in bonnet and shawl. I did make purchase of a few lengths of brown print and several lengths of red flannel to stitch into garments to be worn during the coming cold. I did purchase ether rations not forgetting the spider on high upright legs to use upon the hearth. Benjamin did endeavor to purchase some great boots but did fail but he did purchase an tinder box and the last cone of sugar held in the store.
Benjamin did wish to meet Mister L. the barrister but he did go first to the tavern to learn if any messages had come by post or stage. Whilst I did await in the tavern for Benjamin's return I did encounter Mister R. our good friend who had bargained away his homestead to us and he did present me to his good wife and another lady Mistress T. an lovely lady in an fine silken gown and splendid shawl. This lady had lately come and she did say she was an sister to the barrister Mister L. She did laugh right merrily over her adventures in this new country. One laughs like that only when one is young and free of care. She did invite me to come and take tea with her when perchance we might be in the village.
The air did grow quite damp and there was an fine mist ere we did reach home. Today there is an fine white mantle of snow o'er all and huge flakes are steadily falling. The lads do enjoy the snow and like to frolic about in it but Benjamin has set them about fetching in the cedar boughs to banks the cabin. The black folk have ceased, their
11laughter and singing and do shiver about the fire. One has to drive them out to assist in the stable and at the chopping block.
Son Isaac did shoot an wild turkey cock in the timber and he will make fine feast for the morrow. Lottie does know the manner of cooking the bird on the spit by turning him and basting him with butter until he is an rich golden brown. How we will enjoy the bird and the finely mashed turnips seasoned with rich cream and butter! Well do we like the pork pudding with sweet sauce! This is my eldest son William's birthday and we do have the feast in his honor by early candlelight. Benjamin did call him to the stables and did present to him the yearling he did so much desire. I did knit him neck-scarf and his sister Mary did stitch him an fine cloth waistcoat. It does pleasure us to prepare feasts and the like for there are few pleasures to be had in this wilderness save those within the home.
Greatly do I dread the unknown winter ahead but I say naught of this even to Benjamin mine husband. Oft deads the untried and the unknown.
This is the Yule in the New World. Greatly have we made preparations for the merry time for we do not wish the lads and lasses to miss too much great Yule log and the frolic with their kinsmen in our own home in England. Benjamin and the lads did fetch in the fine log and did light it after their usual custom at this time as in years agone. We did weave garlands of fir and cedar fastening them with bright bits of silk and ribband we did have at hand.
Lottie did make preparation — a fine goose great trenchers of hogshead
12cheese and spiced ham also. We did swing the iron crane inward at the corner of the fireplace and did hang many pots thereon. We did cook squashzan (odd looking long-necked vegetable) and did cook turnips and parsnips in the iron pots. Mary did tend the oven on the chimney — side where the pies of minced meat and fruits were baked. We did have loaves of wheaten bread and some of fine white flour for the feast. Lottie did brown the fowl with care basting and turning it of ten for we do not care for fowls that fly through the fire twice but prefer them well-done and tender. Betimes she did assist in laying the table board with mine fine linen board-cloth and the sprigged china. I did place mine elegant silver tea-set and the great silver salt dish in the center of the table board thus dividing the table for Benjamin did request the black folk be seated at our feast on this day and seated below the salt as was the custom of their master Mister R.
This fine silver tea-set and the salt dish were marriage gifts from mine husband the Captain and it is indeed rare I bring these gifts forth for mine husband Benjamin does not wish to see them but I hold them for Mary that she may have them in memory of her father long ago lost at sea.
I did make an English pudding of fruit and spice and did boil it several hours in the vast pot. This English pudding I did serve up mineself. Isaac did light the brandy and it is the first time brandy has been in our home in the New World for indeed we do not keep any liquors in the home lest it does tempt the lads.
When the table-board was cleared away and all had gathered about the hearth William did fetch his flute and we did sing the old song of England — the ballads and the hymns. I did read in the Book of the Christ Child and Benjamin did prayer an great prayer of thanksgiving the third prayer this day. Benjamin did give me an gold pin to fasten mine kerchief. It was finely wrought and aglean with pearls and an amethyst. To Mary he did give an fine gold ring set about with gems and he did give one to daughter Jane also. He did give to William an yoke of oxen and to Isaac the black saddle Mare with a white star on her forehead. To Abner he did give gold monies and to the smaller lad boots purchased at the sea-port town — New York. Abner did carve the lads bows and arrows. The young lads did vastly annoy us shooting the arrows at the mirror and did endeavor to hit the round face of the clock. The twin lads did persue tiny James whooping and screeching until the small lad did hide his face in mine skirts sobbing in fright.
The snow does now reach the eaves of our cabin. The lads have made an wide path to the stables and each morn they do have to make it anew. Adown the hill from the cabin to the spring they did smooth a path in the snow and they dash it with cold water from the spring and the freezing does make this icy and as smooth as glass. They did fashion a sled from an block of wood at the chopping block and do speed right rapidly adown the hill and upset in the snow. Even sixteen year old Mary does enjoy this sport. Isaac did trounce Abner for rolling his sisters in the snow. Benjamin did laugh and did not stay Isaac's hand when he took Abner by the collar and did jounce him around in the snow until he did howl for mercy.
The sky seems ever overcast and the snow has reached the eaves and we are unable to open the wooden shutters for they do stick fast in the snow. A fine fire is ablaze on the hearth and does roar up the chimney. The lads do oft find snow on their coverlids up in the loft where they do sleep. Wild game sore-stricken by the cold and snow we do find at our door. Hares and partridges and even the wild turkeys do come and feed, near the stables.
Benjamin and Isaac did Venture forth with the oxen yoked to the cart but did tarry only a short while under the lowering sky. It did take them quite some time to reach the stables from the trail for oxen do move but slowly and they, did flounder about in the snow reaching nigh to their neck — yokes.
A few weeks do make great change in this new country. In the Old World there is oft light snows but just enough to cover the brown earth but one seldom sees a snow-fall of any depth.
This night I do burn an extra taper that I may set down such events as did befall us since Yuletide.
Many weeks has there been a mantle of snow and icy winds did blow and most folk did keep within the shelter of their cabins. Son William did say in the timber the snow did lie waist-deep and it was as high as the cabin where the strong winds did blow it. The fowls in their thatched shelter were most buried and the lads did find it was necessary to tunnel from the door of the cabin so the fowls could be fed grain.
Some folk did fetch grain struggling through the deep drifts that they might have their grain made into grist for they do have naught save an wooden mortar and pestle to break up their grain. It has been but an short time agone that there was no mill save the one in far distant Alton. These folk did tell Benjamin or the lads of illness and suffering in the cabins outside. For many winters the Father in Heaven has sent mild weather and the cattle did graze the most part of the winter on the prairies.
Few were the days that passed when some traveler or guest did not sit at meat with us for it is as an law in this wilderness that no one is turned from the, door until he is warmed and fed — be he an traveler frontiersman or beggar.
At last this long and desolate winter did come to an end with an great freshet in the month of March and much rain did fall. The water did seep into the ground but slowly. The lads did splash quite briskly about in it but mineself and Mary did find it most awkward skipping about from the stones and slabs of wood which Isaac did cast into the mire that we might move about the yard.
Already does Benjamin talk of making addition to the cabin or if time and money do permit to build an more commodious house of brick or fieldstone for we have found the cabin quite inadequate for our large household. He does desire to return to the shores of the Erie and secure the great chests we did leave in storage at the tavern but our ground must be broken and the grain sown. It will take a bit of time with wain and oxen to make the journey overland to that far place and return.
Small time do I have for inkhorn and quill for the black folk did go to their master and greatly do we miss their assistance but he is ever a busy man and does have need of them. Being an kind master they do desire to remain with him although he did render them freedom telling them it was unlawful for black folk to be held as slaves in this state of Illinois. When we do go to the village we do see him hastening about on many errands for he did agree to build at the request of the Commissioner's Court a fine new building costing as much as seven thousand of dollars and he does endeavor to make this building the finest in the state for that sum of monies. The ground floor is most complete at this time and it does have one large room for the holding of court and two small rooms apart for the offices of the clerk. Already he did assist in building an stout covered bridge over the wide creek between our homestead and the village and will make another of equal strength over the creek in the country of the Macoupin.
Benjamin mine husband and the eldest of the sons — William have departed for the Erie some days since. I did provide clothing and food for them on the journey and they did take provender for the oxen in the great wain. Canvas was stretched over the high bows for protection against the weather as they do desire to sleep therein. They did depart ere daydawn did come. One could see but dimly although we have an wide sweep of view from our little cabin and we did watch until the gray shadows shut then from our sight. Isaac did wish to go being venturesome and fearless but I did not wish it. Isaac is an fine handsome lad but
17he is easily taken under the influence of others and he already does indulge in liquors on occasion. I do pray earnestly for the Father in Heaven to guide and protect him alway and I do endeavor to keep him from the village and from those bold youths who roister in the tavern and do loiter in the village street cursing and singing in wild carousal.
Rumor did have it how the celebrated Lorenzo Dow would visit our village and would preach to the folk gathered therein at the nightime so all might assemble to hear his words for most folk do labor whilst it is yet light as there has been much delay with the crops this season.
Isaac did astound me by rushing into the cabin and interrupting mine baking did command me to don mine bonnet saying to me that the Reverend Mister Lorenzo Dow was to speak in the village presently and Isaac would brook no delay. I did cast aside mine apron and dark frock and did don something more suitable. Mary did assist me in mine preparations and did say she would remain at home with the small folk that I might hear the Gospel as this holy man did know it.
We did arrive at the village square and did see this holy man approaching and round about him were gathered both old and young. He was quite aged and he did step slowly with the aid of an staff. He was like unto the patriarch of old for his long white locks did hang adown and did rest on his shoulders and he did have an long white beard also.
Suddenly an spattering of rain did come down and those who were gathered about him did rush away to the dwelling where the discourse was to be held so they might secure space for themselves and they did leave the aged man to make his way as best he could. He did arrive at the center of the square where there were materials collected for the
18building of the court house. There he did slowly and gravely he did mount an shingle block and raising his voice so those about him night hear he did say, "It is written, the first shall be last and the last shall be first" and did then begin to speak the word of God. Those folk in the dwelling did find he was speaking elsewhere and were quite astounded. They did rush (as Isaac did say) like a drove of wild cattle to the spot and did laugh and chatter in an manner most unseemly.
The sermon was most eloquent — as fine as I have ever heard. His language was chaste and simple and did have remarkable beauty of phrasing but was withal concise. It was spoken with considerable power for one so feeble. I did regret that the good folk of the village did show an mien so uncouth towards this venerable prophet of God.
Isaac does grow impatient awaiting the return of the travelers as the harvest does approach. I do grow anxious for I do know many perils beset the way. I do scan the horizon oft and Isaac scarce passes an day that he does not ride to the village to learn if word has come by post. I do pray daily for their protection and that the Father will speed their safe return.
Grief and great disaster has come upon us in this strange land. Many are the prayers I do offer up to the Father in Heaven for we are sore stricken. Benjamin was ill of an fever on the return journey and did steadily grow worse. We did have two physicians to attend him but it availed us naught and the Father did summon him from our home to rest and peace on an August morn. Friends did come and aid us while
19he did lie so ill and when we laid him to rest in that shaded spot in the orchard close by the cabin. We did plant flowers there and did mark the spot with white stones. William and Isaac built an stout fence about it also. Little James and Johnathan — one of the twin lads have been ill of chills and fever and I did learn many roundabout are afflicted thus so damp has been the season and the physicians do ever ride out to minister to them.
The perilous journey Benjamin and William did make availed us naught and did bring much sorrow to our household. Those great chests we did think quite safe had been stolen and the building fired by robbers. It is said the Erie is infested with them and these robbers are exceedingly bold and they do carry away the loot to the distant sea-ports and do sell it for profit in these places. Mine husband did vainly search and did inquire at the ports along lake but well I know naught will be heard of them. William does say he believes Benjamin did grow ill of disappointment and that he did dread to face our household empty-handed for these chests did indeed hold much of value.
Much respect did I have for mine husband although he was some years older than mineself and I did have love for him also though it was not the love of mine youth. Greatly will I miss his strength and wisdom and his tenderness in times of stress.
The lads do make brave promises and are most kind towards us. Youth is youth and I realize I alone must carry this load of care and anxiety although understanding hearts and willing hands mean much in this life of the pioneer.
Our summer did come to a sudden close on the twelfth day when there was an killing frost rendering even the corn standing in the fields quite unfit for bread or seed. This is indeed a calamity for man and beast as no other grains are grown hereabout.
I grow anxious for the lads and lasses to have a bit schooling. I do teach them to read and cipher but since mine husband is gone I do find I am hard-pressed for time. Many tasks do await mine hand and there are affairs of business to be considered also. The boundry of our acres must be marked and ere the chill of winter is upon us food needs must be laid by and provender for the stock.
Prairie grass has been fetched in and has been placed in huge mounds hard by the stables and our grain has been garnered for the lads have worked both faithfully and well in the fields. Trees have been felled and fetched in from the timber and do await the axe at the chopping block. It is now we do miss the assistance of the black folk although we do have with us Roger — an fine hand with the livestock. I did learn of an strong lass — one of many children — and I did go to the sod house adorn by the creek and did inquire of her. The lass did wish to come and her mother did quite gladly give her leave. I have to teach her mine ways of housewifery but she is strong and willing and is ever gentle with the small folk. Daughter Mary and I did stitch for the lass some clothing for her family were poor indeed in this world's goods and the clothing she did have was scanty.
The lads William and Isaac did take counsel of our good friend Mister R. in regard to the scarcity of corn and they did join the men going into the south of the state to bargain for corn. We did have need of some for meal and there was seed to be bargained for also for our next crop does depend upon it. William did say we do go into Egypt to buy corn for the southern part of the Illinois state is in jest named Egypt.
As we do gather about the hearth we do greatly miss the one gone home to the one so far away. The days are short and filled with labor but the evenings are long and one can be quite lonely in spirit. I do not shed the bitter tears or do I grieve as I did for the Captain for I have grown wise in spiritual things. I do know these bodies are as dust but our spirit within these bodies is eternal and does go inviolate through the ages and knowing it to be thus I do not grieve. Too well do I know of those long months of grieving and how they did corrode mine heart.
The winter days do pass slowly by and I do desire the days of spring. Early we do rise and bake and spin and stitch and and do again rise up before it is day and do stitch and spin and bake and so go on the weary days. Chilly winds and gray skies do prevail.
Some do come to the ox-mill to have the corn made into grist but do not tarry. The stage goes by but stops only when some passenger from hereabout does await upon the door rock to hail the driver. A lone traveler stops betimes for an drink at the spring or to learn of the trail.
Mister Ainslea did stop on his way from the Mauvaisterre to bring us greeting from our kinsmen. We did see them last in August when they did hither come to comfort us in our sorrow.
William does plan to wed come spring but will remain to aid us for he is mine eldest son and I do wish it. Our cabin is quite inadequate for mine own family so a cabin must be erected for William soon.
William wishes to go by stage to the distant city Saint Louis to make some necessary purchases. Isaac declares he needs must accompany William and Mary says she does desire to go. Abner did say since it seems an family affair he would take mother and would go along.
This is the month of June and a most gracious day. I do sit in the shade of the great oak tree with mine portfolio on mine knee but mine quill is idle as I do gaze about me. I do think this is the garden spot of the New World — this state of Illinois in the heart of this great valley. An valley of such abundance and so fruitful which the great Lorenzo Dow did say it could feed mankind for a thousand years.
Today is one of God's perfect days with the sky so blue and the air so crystal clear. Mary is riding our small James on an sapling and the twin lads are impatiently hopping about awaiting their turn to ride. Jane in a clean frock and bright pinafore is plucking a nosegay amongst the flowers. Paul is riding into the harvest field on the gentle gray mare with water in an earthen ewer dipped cool from the
23spring. It does seem it is an self-appointed task for him to ride out with water or food to refresh the men folk at their labor in the field.
I do see William's newly wedded wife spinning at the cabin door so she may oft look towards the field where if William and his brothers are busy with the grain. Two rooms do they have in their cabin and a floor was laid in each of these rooms. William did build a fine large fire-place of fieldstone. Neighbors did come and assist in the building and I did serve them an abundant dinner each day but there were no liquors as is the custom and neither was there a "raisin" as I did not consider it meet.
Alas! there is not always peace and beauty for there was last autumn a most dastardly crime committed. A young lad was cruelly murdered. It came about in thiswise. A certain man did owe the lad's father an small sum of monies and he did send the lad to Mill's store on the bank of the river Mississippi to collect this monies. Meanwhile the father did linger at the distillery for he was very fond of the taste of liquor and did indulge this taste when it was possible to do so. He did not feel alarmed when the lad did not return so on as he did give him permission to visit with his kinsmen a bit that did live by the store.
Several days did pass and the lad had not returned and the fatter became alarmed and began to search for his son and he did find his dead body in a grove not far from the trail. The poor lad had been most cruelly beaten with an stout club and robbed of the monies be did hold. Reward was offered by the law for any knowledge of the murderer or of his whereabouts for it was known that he had fled the country. Now rumor
24did have that it was a certain man who had labored in the plow time and in the harvest hereabout for there was an traveler who did say he did meet the lad upon the trail and there was a man riding in the saddle and the lad was mounted behind him.
This murderer was apprehended in flew Orleans by an citizen from our village. Oft cargoes are floated adown the rivers to this sea-port for it does seem an better market than those closeby. This citizen did recognize the murderer and did take him to the bar in an tavern and did offer him a glass of whiskey and did say he hoped they would meet again in Greene County whereupon the murderer did let fall his glass and but for some of the men at the bar he would have fled. He was returned to this shire and was sentenced in the criminal court to be hanged. He did make confession and told how he did ride a bit with the lad and when he did learn of the monies the lad did hold (only an small sum — some fifteen dollars he did find) he did attempt to rob the lad and when he did resist him he did beat the lad with an stout club until he was dead. He then did turn lose the lad's horse and did flee the country.
The wooden gallows was built at the edge of the village and the murderer seated upon his coffin was escorted to the spot by many of the village folk and they did stay to witness the hanging. Just as this gruesome act was finished a great rain descended on the throng and mine son Isaac did say on either side of the trail there were wrecks of fine bonnets the ladies had worn. These large bonnets are made of paper instead of straw at less expense of time and monies and one does decorate the bonnets with an array of bright bows of ribband.
Colonel F. did execute this murderer hanging him by the neck until he was dead. That evening the Colonel doned his uniform and did depart for Beardstown — the spot named for rendezvous where three companies of men from our shire did wait for his coming. An short time agone an call had come for volunteers to repel an invasion of some tribes of red men and their cruel chief Black Hawk.
Red men are rarely seen in our countryside. I did see several encamped not far from Burnt Haystack Spring as we did Journey into the country of the Mauvaisterre. We did but see their campfires from afar.
Death and desolation has come to our village and many are now afflicted with Asiatic cholera. So rapidly has it spread that few homes remain were there are no one in the household ill. Many do die of the dread disease and it is only brave souls who enter the village. We do constantly fear the scourge and I am most vigilant that the lads remain at home and that no one enters the cabin save the members of mine household. We do however cook pots of food and Isaac and Abner do leave the food at the gates of those afflicted. Many of the victims of the cholera die and are buried in the nightimes. Travelers no longer travel our tree-notched trail but do avoid this spot. I do thank our Heavenly Father for his protection and I do pity those bereft of the loved ones — so recent has been our own great sorrow.
Although sickness and death do prevail we do have an abundant harvest in orchard and field. Fruits we dry or preserve with sugar and we dig a pit and place the cabbages potatoes and the like therein.
We make apple-butter cooking it in an vast pot over an fire built behind the cabin and we stir the butter constantly by means of a great wooden paddle made for this purpose by William. This butt does take some spice and much sugar. We dry apples also by slicing them and we thread these slices on long strings of stout linen thread and they do swing from the rafters over our heads until they are dry. Many winter pies do we eat made from these apples. We dry the corn. Daughter Mary does prepare it and does place it upon an sheet. She does require the twin lads to keep the flies from the corn by means of switching brushes. The lads are much vexed but Jane does sit upon the door rock and does call to me if they attempt to slyly disappear. Many seeds and herbs are gathered and dried in our south windows.
Soap needs must be made and an supply of candles aldo ere the winter comes. I do greatly regret the loss of the great brass shiplanthorns I did possess for much light would these have given in our dim cabin. These lanthorns were in the sea-chests that the robbers did so nefariously steal. The chests did hold much of value and there were wares and curiosities from foreign ports gathered by the Captain on his many journies on the high seas.
The lads are most diligent and I am justly proud of their industry. Much of the grain is gathered and they mark off our fields with rails made from trees and they are gone from sunrise until the eventide. Paul does ride out with an bit of food for their nooning. I do ride out betimes to see how the work progresses. They must next betake themselves to the timber to secure the winter's fuel.
William is an master hand with the live-stock and he does oft trade it and does make monies from the trading. He did study and did learn much of live-stock whilst he was yet in England. He does much prefer the horse to the plodding oxen and he does wish to fatten the swine and send them to the Saint Louis market by way of the river Illinois with other farm products shipped in this manner.
The winter is well nigh gone and son Isaac did hang his coonskin cap on Mary's head this day and declared it was spring and he did have no more use for such headgear. It was an most ridiculous sight perched on Mary's brown curls for the bushy tail did hang adown her shoulder like a laddie's plume. Mary did seize an dipper of water and did hurl it straight into Isaac's face as he did stand upon the hearth causing him to rush to the towel to sop off the wetness. Suddenly he did snatch the towel from the roller and did encircle Mary with it and did drag her hither and yon even over the door rock to the chopping-block where Abner was busy with the axe which he did hurriedly drop so he might persue Isaac and free Mary of the rogue. I did at last go outside and make peace amongst them. William and Isaac are ever merry and full of tricks yet since they do use much of their energy at their tasks I do not remonstrate with them. Indeed they are much as their father the Captain was in his youth.
The winter has been for the most part mild and for this I do thank the Father in Heaven for there has been too much woe and too much suffering from the scourge of the cholera.
Whilst Jennie was in the shed washing the clothes and Mary was baking an Indian pudding I did betake mineself away in search of greens following the fence rows and wandering about with mine eyes cast down that the most succulent might not escape me. The lads do relish a mass of greens cooked in the deep pot with an hambone and they do enjoy the dark liquor eaten with corn-dodgers. I did at last secure an fine hamper of them and did stop at the spring to cleanse them. Whilst I was busy at this task I did see an horseman ride up the trail. He did dismount at the spring and did bow low and did request an drink of cool water from the spring. He did quaff slowly from the dipper small James had fetched from the cabin and as he did so his eyes did dwell upon our homestead. He did say it was indeed an pleasant spot-well favored by the Lord. He did say also we were much blessed in finding an abode in this wilderness so replete with the comforts of living.
He did inquire of Mister R. and of his whereabouts and did speak in high praise of his industry and wisdom saying such men were greatly needed in this new land. He did then mount and ride away despite mine most urgent invitation to remain for the noon-day meal. (Perchance he did see our Jennie hanging out the wash and did think he might be served the Pot's Luck as they do name an wash-day dinner hereabout)
Isaac just at the moment did appear riding the fine bay mare and did pause to let down the bars. The traveler did bow low in adieu and did ride on until he did reach the spot where Isaac stood and he did stop to speak with Isaac and I did see him again dismount and pass his hand over the bays glossy coat and then Isaac did ride up the trail a bit so the stranger might see the bay's gait.
The food was placed in the tableboard and I did send young James to summon the lads from their labors. James did return with Isaac and the traveler and he was riding atop the gentleman's shoulders and did have his broad brimmed hat on his yellow curls. Isaac did present the stranger saying our guest was the Reverend Mister Peter Cartwright well-known in this countryside as an upright and godly man. He did tell (after the good man's departure) he was an excellent judge of horses even of race-nags. He was well and quite favorably known by all the folk on his circuit. He took the small lads for a ride on his dappled steed and it was nearly sundown when he departed for the village telling us he had so greatly enjoyed the visit that he would return axon. Isaac did say he did enjoy the guest though he did carry sulphur and brimstone in his saddlebags. Abner did remark in his droll like way the gentleman did have an fine wash-day appetite.
This season has been one of abundance and of much labor. Isaac did say he was indeed weary and did wish for a rest now the corn was laid by and the harvest over. He did make an journey to the city Saint Louis staying at the Planter's House for a few days. After his return he did take us all piled helter-skelter on an load of hay for a day of fishing. Next he did take one and all to the great barbecue adown on the banks of the Macoupin Creek where many folks did foregather to eat of the steers roasted over an pit filled with live coals and of the ears of corn roasted in the warm ashes. Men folk did rise up and speak and the lasses did sing songs and ballads. These pastimes do
30resemble an gipsy picnic with the food cooked in this manner and the singing and dancing on the green. Mary and the lads do enjoy these play times being young and full of spirits and they do not meet with young folk save at times like these.
Oft we attend the Basket Meetings and the Methodist Camp Meetings, also. These meetings are held in the church-house or in the graves near by. Throngs of folk do foregather both old and young. Tents are pitched in a great oval under the trees and the folk do fetch food along and they cook their meals there remaining both day and night When the night does come down great fires are built on platforms of green timbers and jacked with damp earth. These fires are then some six feet from the ground and they send out long flickering rays of red light through the trees and the light does glimmer on the white tents and does even make a bit light the shadows beyond. When one does hear the wailing of the lost souls at the mercy seat and does see the dim shadows moving about one oft grows a bit frightened at the eerie sights and sounds.
Folk come from far and near and offer up prayers at sunrise and there are great meetings that last far into the night. Voices are lifted high in song and praise. Strong men are filled with the Spirit and do leap about in joy. Women do shout in praise of the goodness of the Lord and they do march about singing and shouting until some do fall to the ground bereft of strength. I did see Mistress B. a vast figure rise up from her great chair and fling her huge arms about wildly and did waive them about whilst she did wander about hither and yon shouting until prostrate she did roll beneath the feet of the two stout men who did attempt to support the vast lady.
The presiding elder does come and fetches other elders with him to assist and they do labor diligently amongst the backless benches where the reluctant sinners do have need of prayers and exhortations. Many sinners are led to the mercy seat and there they form a vast ring circle. Some do wail and some do beseech the Father in loud voices to forgive their sins and trespasses.
After these meetings comes the baptism of the saved ones. A great number of folk do stand on the banks of the flowing stream to witness the rite. These good folk do bring baskets of food and do remain singing and praying until sunset.
Son Abner declares religion does come of a season when one does have time to meditate and that is only when hard labor is past.
Yuletide is past and the New Year is at hand. We did celebrate the Yule with feasting and mirth. The young folk do not think it is Yuletide unless there is an festival and an exchange of gifts. Isaac and Abner did make early preparation for winter and did have more time for gaiety. We did invite of guests quite an number so many indeed we did find it needful to spread extra table boards adjacent to the great one. The feast did last full three hours and we were that number of days preparing the amount of food needed. We did burn a score of candles.
Mine kinsmen from the country of the Mauvaisterre did come as guests and the cabin was constantly filled with folk all the time moving about. The men folk did take heavy blankets and some buffalo
32hides and did sleep in the barn place amid the hay.
Cousin Marymum did hook for me an fine shoulder-shawl of wool and daughter Mary did make a cap with ribbands and lace-much too fine for me to wear. The lad Paul did make an fine hearth brush of hemlock twigs bound about with hempen twine. He did smooth well the stick and he did tie a thong of cowhide about the stick so I might hang the brush beside the hearth. It was an fine broom-brush Abner did declare.
Abner did present Mary and me with strips of wood all shining and smooth to use as stays an he did make an droll-like rhyme — to wear them as we did see fit.
Cousin Marymum being brisk with her needle and artful-like did stitch Mary an pumpkin hood and did line the hood with rose pink and it does look fine indeed on our Mary's head.
Isaac did shower us with ribbands of several hues. I think he did buy prodigal of all the ribbands in the store. He did present me with morocco shoes and some with ties he did buy for Mary.
We did have a merry time but I wearied with the din and so on this day we have labored little. We did set an red dye and I did card a bit of wool whilst Mary did wrap the silver and did store it away in the chest. I did set up an stocking and did finish it by early candlelight.
Spring does bring much labor for us all. All do work right willingly. We do card the wool and set the dye and when it is spun and wove we do cut the garments and do stitch them and it does take
33a bit of time. We did stitch a bit on the summer's clothing even when the snow did fly.
There are candles to be dipped — many of them for we do use a vast number. Jennie does much of the lifting of the heavy kettles for we do use two great ones on the crane — one with melting tallow and the other with boiling water. We do dip the candles and we do cool them betimes on poles twixt the chest and window out in the shed room. Abner did make candle rods for this purpose and the rods do hold eight in number. It does take many dippings and coolings to make the candles the proper size. Mary and me do dip whilst Jennie does swing the large kettles and does mend the fire. Isaac did watch the dippings and did deem it a vast amount of labor and did vow he would go to the city Saint Louis for the sole purpose of buying candle molds. There are other ways of making candles for Marymum does know the manner of making them of bee's-wax and can make a light of rush.
Mistress G. an lady lately come from the state Vermont does know the way of working with straw. She was presented to me by mine good neighbor Mistress B. for that lady is her cousin. Upon her head Mistress G. did wear a fine bonnet of plaited straw and we did greatly admire the bonnet and did wish to know the manner of braiding the straw. One morning she did appear quite early on our door rock and she did fetch along with her some fine straw and she did pass the day teaching us the art of braiding. We did labor industriously at the braiding whilst she did take these straw braids and did sew them into shape. She did depart from our cabin at sundown and ere she did take leave she did bid us fetch our bonnets to her cabin
34and there she would bleach them for us just an she had bleached her own bonnet. Some few days after we did go to her cabin about six miles away and the most part through the timber. Straightway when we did arrive she took us and our bonnets to an shed place wherein there was an deep chest. Adown in the chest there was an foot-stove and she did take our bonnets and place them carefully on the molds made for that purpose. She did then go to the hearth in the cabin and did fetch live coals and place these in the bit stove and atop the coals she did sprinkle sulphur and did swiftly close the chest and then did wrap it all about with canvas. This she did say would make our bonnets white instead of the yellow of the straw. We did offer the kind lady monies but she did laugh and did thrust it away although she did say she had made some twenty dollars in this wise. Mary and I did divide our store of ribbands with her and she did seem well pleased.
Mistress G. did also teach us to knit silk purses and did tell daughter Mary she might knit one for her lover. I did knit some purses and did knit also watch ribbands of black and I did garnish my knitting with gilded beads. Beads are indeed rare but Mary did remove our beads from an old tablemat festooned with then and these beads were of divers colors.
Many folk did assemble at the church-house for the Love Feast at nine o'clock on last Sabbath day. We all did go even our Jennie and the small lads. We did prepare to hampers of food and did spend the day in song and prayer.
Our chief elder did come and pronounced a mighty sermon to the vast multitude assembled from all the shire. Deacon B. did turn the hour-glass three times ere it was ended. We did praise the Father in Psalms and they were lined by Deacon H. and this did take quite a bit of time for the favorite Psalms are long and filled with words.
Mary did remain with me until the nooning and then she did take small James and did seat herself beside Isaac for the lad grows quite restless during the long prayers and I do not wish him to wander away with the gay lads from the village.
Isaac did await me when the services were ended and grew quite impatient ere the hand-shakings and farewell words were said. I did inquire of Mary and Jane and he did tell me Jane and the small lads did await our coming but Mary did ride ahead with small James. I deemed it strange of Mary but when we did approach our cabin I did see them seated on the old bench by the cabin door and beside them was an fair-haired lad. Mary's bonnet lay on the bench and she had drawn off her fine lace mitts. She did appear most lovely in her pink frock with many ruffles and knots of ribband. The lad did stare soberly at her and did take his eyes from her face only when he did hear the sound of our approach.
The guest did remain until after the chores were done and we had spread the table board beneath the trees. We did eat the cold ham and the jelly cake and there were bits of food like preserve of blackberry and we did have spiced peaches along with rolls of cheese and there were chilled melons Isaac had placed in the spring ere we did go to the meeting so the Melons might become quite cold with the fresh
36water all the time flowing over them.
Abner did arrive late and did greet our "Cold Party" as he did name it with an shout of delight and then he did espy Mary's guest and did stare in awe at him very much to the annoyance of Mary. Son William did not join us but did come over after the guest had departed. He did say he was an fine lad — this guest Abram Morrow — and his father owned an mill some sixteen miles away. This mill was quite an large mill and did have an vast wheel turned by water flowing adown a stream as he had seen mills run in other days in England. He did say also these folk were known roundabout as honest and upright folk.
William has been ill of the chills and fever and we do have his work as well as our own to do and I do send Jennie over to assist his wife Matilda. William has been restless of late and does talk continually of seeking a new place to dwell. He declares he will yoke his oxen to the great wain and will spread the canvas atop end then he will depart with his wife and new babe and wander about until he does find an choice spot. Isaac has grown weary of his talk and did bid him to begone and he will remain to be the head of the family in William's stead. I think Matilda is anxious to be gone also thinking they will have an better chance to labor for themselves although she does say naught of it. I will not stay them when they desire to go although I do not wish it — since we did wander to this far country in search of an home not so many years agone.
We did have an apple-paring bee and all the neighbors living roundabout did come. We did slice up the apples and the lads and lasses did string them on stout linen thread for drying. After this labor we did make merry with song and story while the young folk did play a game called forfeits and they did many amusing things to redeem these forfeits. We all did play another game called Tell the truth and shame devil. Isaac did right neatly trap Mary into telling where she did hide the cake and pastry she did not wish the lads to eat. Afterwards Abner did tell a fine ghost story and he did ask each in turn to add to this tale until it did reach monstrous size and was most amuzing and at times quite fearsome.
The fun did last until Mistress R. did espy the round face of the clock and she did rapidly collect her wraps and children and departed quite hurriedly as the hour was late. All did soon follow her laughing and singing adown the star-lit trail.
It has taken many days to prepare our apple butter and preserve but we do eat these in the winter with great relish.
This year we did pickle walnuts and we did make an relish of cabbage and Vinegar mixed with spice. Many vegetables are stored in the pit for our use. We do yet have our meats to prepare. Steers and swine are slaughtered and some of the meats we do pickle in brine and the hams and the like are smoked up with hickory smoke to preserve them. The lads do make our sausage meat. Having cut the meat into small portions they do place these in a deep trough and then do stand on each side and do chop up the meat into bits with sharp spades. We do season the meat with salt and sage and the like and pack it into
38cases prepared for it. This sausage meat does indeed smoke an fine dish and it is relished by us all on an cold winters morning.
Already I have an vast number of socks and stockings knit. Mary has knit mittens and she did double-hook and peg an pair far each lad and she is now knitting braces for the lads to present them at Yuletide.
Jane does knit both rapidly and well. She oft sits on an hassock close by mine knee and recites her lessons whilst she does knit. The lass has already husked the nuts and sugared persimmons. Now she is not quite so handsome as Mary but she is neat and industrious and in a few years will make a fine woman.
William did leave us as he did wish to do and we miss him. I needs must depend upon Issac but he is not wayward now save when he is idle and those times are now exceedingly rare.
William did find the spot he did desire but the tract must be cleared. For that reason the sum of monies was not large although land is well located and seemingly fertile. He has already cut down trees to build a cabin of only one room and when an likely day comes he will hold an chopping-bee and though we are full twenty miles away we will go to assist and take friends with us should they wish to go. Hereabout the folk do undercut the trees and this is most perilous for oft the men are crippled or even killed by the downward crash of the many trees. These felled trees are left for the most part to dry in the summer sun. Small limbs and twigs are burned in the autumn.
39The shorn trunks not of an size to be used in the raising of the cabin are gathered together in one vast pile and are kept continuously burning so by spring the ashes were mixed into the soil and luxuriant do grow from it.
Abner and Isaac do go oft to help William and I do accompany them thither as does Mary betimes for Matilda is in delicate health just now.
Abram Morrow does come to visit our lads and does linger by our Mary's side at her spinning. He was an guest at the Yuletide and these many times since although many miles lie betwixt his home and our cabin and there are streams to be forded and much of the way does lie through the timber.
Mary does spend many minutes before the great mirror I did fetch all the way from England rolled in mine feather bed for safety. The lass does wear an deep slatted bonnet and does pull up half-handers high up on her arms that the sun may not touch the white arms and she does bathe her face at eventide in new milk.
Isaac does plague her but he did purchase an print dress pattern she did wish and did add the same number of lengths of the flowered muslin she did admire. He does approve of the lad Abram but does say Mary is fit to be an governor's lady. He did offer — if Mary would remain with us — to have Mister H. build an fine carriage to ride in although it might take all of his monies to pay for it.
Abner does write notes and hides them in Mary's shoes and draws with charcoal Abram's face on the gourd dippers. Abram did fetch as
40an gift to Mary at Yultide an low rocking chair for the lad it most ingenious with the tools. Abner does sit upon this chair and he does leap up at the sight of Mary and does seize his kerchief and dusts the shining surface and bowing low he seats her there.
I do sigh to mineself and do weep a bit for Abram is the chosen one for many lads have come as guests and some have even lingered but Mary would have naught of them.
There is much to be done whilst the weather is yet fine. This eventide I am wearied for we did make soap with Jennie and her mother assisting with the lifting and the stirring. We did save the ashes from the hearth and kept them in the leach-barrel and we have much stale grease from the winters cooking. We did boil the grease and the lye in the vast pot ever an fire built out in the side yard and when the task was over we did find we had most an barrel of clear soap jelly. Jennie did stir the mass about with an stick of hard wood her mother did fetch with her for that purpose and she did always stir the same direction to bring the luck.
Jennie's mother did make promise to set the dyes for us for it is soon we will need the garments stitched for mine household. She does handle the dyes with much skill. Each year she does go questing about in search of madder and logwood and sassafras also. She has even used the dark juice of the pokeberry and she knows even goldenrod and iris will yield up a bit of juice for her use.
This is the Lord's day and I do wish to meditate so I did search out mine Bible and mine portfolio and I did come to rest and to pray in the shade of the trees close by Benjamin's grave. Oft I come to this spot when I am bewildered and do question the ways of the Father in Heaven.
A day to admire is this with the sky as blue as the ocean on which I did sail with mine Captain these many years agone. An gentle zepher stirs the leaves above me and mine portfolio is flecked with sunlight.
Mine spirit is weary indeed and I do mourn in passionate grief for our beloved Mary did wed and leave us. Much of mine life was bound up in mine eldest daughter. Full well do I know the life of the pioneer wife and mother. There is naught of privacy or comforts. Naught of fine living but hard labor and child-bearing for mine lovely daughter in this wilderness frontier. Much faith and indomitable courage is required daily to bear the onus of this life and I do believe some do die of a very weariness of spirit ere the middle years of life are reached.
Every day I do pray to the Father to bless their home and I do ask they may hold fast to their happiness for they are most happy. I have seen the lass but once since she did ride away with her husband. We did have guests on that day and there could be but few words between us.
The lads do greatly miss Mary and Jane does also. Isaac does stand and gaze afar and does mope about whilst Abner does follow
42me about as an child instead of the man grown he is. Paul and the twin lads beg continually to go to visit Mary. I find Jane often in tears face downward on the patch-work coverlid.
There was naught of tears the day Mary did wed. We did have guests and an fine wedding feast. We did serve chicken with much cream gravy and the potatoes were served in cream also. We did have wild honey and biscuits — an vast number. There were raspberry cakes and the fine bride's cake made up of white flour and many eggs beaten light and it did grace the table board set about with nosegays. We did use our fine damask and silver and mine sprigged china pieces.
The lads did render assistance with the benches and table boards and did look fine dressed in their best. They did tease Mary and Jane and did gaze in pretended awe at Abram. They did tweak his tie and marvel over his coat and his shining boots.
For many weeks preparations for Mary's home did go on. I did prepare an vast feather bed and two pairs of pillows and a large bolster. I did have an coverlid woven on Mistress M.'s loom. She did make it most fine and I was so well pleased I did bargain with her to make me one also. Mary and I did braid mats of divers colors and I did even have strips of carpet woven on the loom.
Paul did have a bit of time to carve out butter-paddles of some cherry wood and he did assist small James to prepare some bottles and dippers from the gourds.
Mary did have an bonnet or fine leghorn straw with bows of blue ribband and I did give the lass one of mine costly shawls bought by her father the Captain in an foreign port. This shawl
43did have flowers in many soft colors stitched with heavy silk and did have fine long silk fringes hanging adown. Isaac did purchase silken stockings for the bridal day and Abner did quest about in the city and did find silken shoes and a beautiful fan. I did chide mine lads for spending their monies on such vanities but they do love Mary and did wish to do so.
I did bid an seamstress come from the village and we did make an number of garments. There were shifts and petticoats and the like to be stitched also. One frock she did stitch was of dimity of pink sprigged over with tiny roses and garnished with knots of ribband. Another frock was of brocade print with four ruffles at the hems. Yet another there was of checkered white and blue with waved braid about the skirt and on the sleeves in diamond pattern. It did take quite a bit of time to stitch the braid and Mary did need to measure many times for this on each breadth.
The bridal frock was of fine silk with blue flowers all woven in and she did have fine lace in an pattern about the shoulders and at the sleeves and there was lace about the skirt's hem also. The skirt was made of several breadths and the bodice made up with whalebone and did fit close and smooth.
Abram is an fine lad being most sincere and he does have an understanding heart. He is a bit reticent mayhap but he does have keen wit which does match the demureness of our lass. He is dependable and industrious and is the choice of our Mary. May the good Father in heaven grant them the peace and understanding that does make an happy and successful marriage.
Yuletide has come and gone and we do await the coining of the New Year. The cabin does seem an remote and desolate place since Mary has gone away and William also. The older lads do find time for naught but labor and we do prosper through their industry and ours and by the grace of the Father who watches over us all with such loving care.
Mary and Abram did pass the Yule with us but did remain but an short while and mine son William did not come at all. I do go to visit Mary when possible though the trail to their home is very rough. Ahner does accompany me and we do travel but slowly picking our way carefully around the stumps and through the timber. We pass a bit of time with Mary and Abram and do wend our way homeward. I find Mary most happy and busy from morn until candlelight for there is much to be done when one establishes an home in the wilderness.
The journey to William's home is most wearisome and difficult and it does consume much time. I did go but to greet the small grandson. They do come to our home but seldom for it is indeed an arduous journey with two small children. William does desire Paul to go and assist him but I do not wish it for the settlement is new and there is much roistering in the place. Paul is but a lad and need what little schooling there is to be had hereabout.
The skies are ever gray and the snow does thaw by day and does freeze by night thus forming ridges of ice that one does not wish to tread upon.
A few days agone suddenly from the west an angry black cloud did arise with a great roaring sound and the wind fetching up the
45cloud did blow bitter cold. The rain falling did freeze in sharp ridges and all atop the snow already on the ground it was an sheet of ice and we did all move about with difficulty. So swift did the storm come the swine and fowls did some freeze almost stiff in their tracks and we did lose quite an number although we did slip and slide about and attempt to rescue the luckless ones.
An horseman passing along the road stopped for shelter and the gentleman's garments were frozen to his saddle and the lads did remove the saddle and gentleman together and did place them before the blazing fire upon the hearth to thaw and I did in the meantime make up an hot toddy for him to drink that he might not suffer ill effect from his sudden dousing.
Much time has gone by since I last held mine quill. The long winter is gone and the spring is nearly spent. Very busy are we for as prosperity does increase so does the labor in fields and cabin. Much talk do we have of erecting an house of brick or of field stone. Our good friend Mister R. did say it was possible to make brick with the aid of an kiln and much patience and labor. Even the trees in our timberland are marked to be used in the construction of the new home. Mister R. did also advise me to go to the city and secure an architect.
Crude is our cabin and of simple construction but more commodious than most wilderness homes and we have had much happiness within these walls. As I gaze about me two beds do I see. There is an vast hearth and an deep chimney of field stone. There is mine spinning-wheel
46close by the window of crystal glass fetched, all the way from Saint Louis by the river Illinois. Table boards and benches are shoved beneath the shelf holding the bucket of water and gourd dipper. The wash basin is on the shelf and clean towel spread on an roller above it. The English clock does tick on these strange walls as it did in the Old World in the days of mine youth.
England does seem far away indeed — a dream of the past and seen dimly. The great stone house with its wide portico. The vast hall with an fire ever burning on the hearth. The dull glow of candles reflecting on the wainscoting. Rows of books on the high shelves with the candle-scence over. The long tables with high-backed chairs and nosegays scenting the air. Tall gentlemen in gay waistcoats adorned with many silver buttons and the gay and smiling ladies in silks and lace. Long shadows on the lawn and tea-time in the garden with the small folk playing about. The driving rain and the glare of lightning and the heavy roll of thunder — the chill horror of the storms at sea ever with me. The messenger speeding adown the lane under the dripping trees and his sharp rap on the great door. Oh the grief and bitterness-days weeks months and years of it! Abner an babe in arms and the two lads and the lass Mary about mine knees. Mine lover and husband lost — lost lost at sea.
The year does approach its end — an year of fine weather and of abundant harvest. Many vegetables are in the pit and but a few days agone swine were slaughtered and the meat does hang about or is stowed
47away along with the lard. The preparing of the winters lard is wearisome and unpleasant. We did have an fine frosty morn over the fire which did beat back the chill. I did watch the fire and Jennie did mind the pot. I do know the time to scatter the fire so we did have fine lard.
We did enjoy an corn-husking party at the home of Mister T. We did depart from the home place ere the sun had set for these folk do live six miles across the prairie. I did find many guests there although Isaac did say we had departed for the festival at an early hour. Great mounds of unhusked corn were piled about and there was prairie grass scattered about the mounds on which to sit. When it did grow dark an fire was built and light wood torches were ranged about so all might see. Many hands do make light work and ere long the task was finished mid song and story.
Mistress T. did send the young lad out to bid us come to sup. Torches were gathered up and we did march one following the other and seat ourselves at the long table boards spread in the side-yard. There were trenchers of spiced ham and piles of fried cakes. There were vegetables made into stews and an vast number of pies. The sharp air did give one hunger and we did eat with zest.
And there was fiddling and dancing and much capering about and the moon was high up in the heavens when we did at last depart.
Abner did escort us across the prairie to our home. I did inquire of the whereabouts of Isaac and Abner did wear a grim face. He did insist I go at once to mine bed and he would wait up for Isaac to return but I did see him go across to William's cabin where the man Roger does now live. I did place the great bar on the door but I did remain vigilant
48for I knew it was not well with Isaac. At last I did hear the sound of their return and I did seek mine bed and did snatch a bit of sleep. Just before daydawn Abner did come for the blanket of coarse gray wool. It was eventide ere Isaac did pass through the cabin to his bed in the loft. Abner would say naught of it but I was not deceived for well do I know Isaac's weakness for liquors although he does indulge only on occasion.
It is at daughter Jane's request that I take up mine portfolio and quill. It has been but a few days since I have returned to mine home for an small daughter did come to Mary early one January morn. Abram did ride straight to the door rock and would dismount only when I insisted he must come to the fire whilst I did scurry about making preparations to depart. Abner did at once saddle the gray mare and Isaac did wrap me all about in mantle and shawl and he did say meanwhiles he would come soon but I did bid him remain at home and take care of the household. He did make an long face but I knew he would remain and do the needful things for I did wish it.
Abram did ride ahead urging his horse over the rough trail and I did follow endeavoring to keep sight of him. At last we did reach his home and he did assist me to dismount and rushed away for he was that anxious of Mary. Abram's mother did greet me at the cabin door and I did spend the long hours at Mary's bed-side. She spread the tiny garments all about her on the coverlid and she bid Abram fetch the cradle he had made. An cradle of polished wood — all carved and finely wrought and it did have over the top an hood to protect
49the babe from the chill winds that ever blow through the cabin walls in the winter season. Mary had woven flannels soft and fine and she had stitched them through the long winter evening and she had made quaint little caps of flannel after mine own pattern. Abram's father did fetch Granny H. anon and she did bustle about smoking her bit of an stone pipe. All night long we did wait and at cock-crow tiny Jane was there in mine waiting arms.
I did remain quite some time and did ride away with reluctance for Mary is very dear to me. Abner and daughter Jane did ride over to see the new babe and to accompany me home. They did say the old watchdog of an Isaac was weary of his task. Now I am home again and as I trod back and forth spinning or do brew or bake mine thoughts are oft with Mary.
This Is the Lord's day and an time for meditation and prayer. At such time I do pray for guidance and the understanding of His way.
Pioneer life is most difficult and it is most needful to have wisdom and strength of spirit. Lonely our life with none of the goodly things about us and our hours are long and filled with hard labor. Perils of many kinds beset us. Snakes and weasels and polecats lurk about and do frighten and annoy us. Mosquitoes and files come in swarms and settle over all the cabin. They sting and bite us betimes leaving welts turning from red to purple. One does find it needful to build up an fire of green wood on the hearth and start up an acrid smoke even in the smothering heat of the summer to drive
50these pests out of the cabin and the smoke does choke and most blind us.
Roofs do leak and the rain does come driving in washing adown the chimney and makes an sluggish fire. The rains do not come of an season but do come up suddenly with rushing winds and flashing of lightning and the din of rolling thunder. Trees sway and writhe in the strong winds bringing up the storm clouds and they are riven betimes. Hail does fall in pelting fury and I have seen the ground white with it.
Bitter cold comes and one rises shivering from their beds and goes shivering about the tasks in cabin and stable. Chill winds sigh and mourn about the cabin and come howling adown the wide chimney and frighten the small folk. One does don layers and layers of clothing and huge fires burn upon the hearth and the small folk do quarrel for the warm seat in the chimney corner when they do come from the log school house with frosted fingers and toes.
Springtime and mud oozing and clinging does hold one fast whilst attempting to wade about in it. One does stand as the long-legged bird the crane and finds no rest for the sole of the foot. With good fortune one may approach the door rock and then goes splatter-dash into an dirty puddle ere the cabin door can be reached. The lads do run afoul the mire and need extra pantaloons and it does seem I never have an sufficient number. Abner does scrape and scrape and does say the mop-stick and the besom are the sin of the season.
Then comes the heat of the summer. Great waves of heat roll in from the sun-smitten prairie as the lads gather in the harvest. Chaff and dust rise up and plague them and they are weary with it all ere it is noonday. We do cook betimes in the side-yard and do go wash our clothing adown by the spring. The lads do sleep on the shakedowns scattered about on the grass.
Illness is ever amongst us. Small folk do sicken and die so soon. Mothers die in childbirth leaving young lads and lasses in lonely and remote cabins. Fathers oft die for death does lurk in forest and field for the pioneer. Lasses do die of lung sickness and coughing. Lads are stricken with fevers and agues. Few are the physicians living amongst us so we do dose the ailing ones with an bitter infusion of herbs and we do plaster and poultice them. They do grow better mayhap but oft grow worse and then do one of the lads mount an horse and ride to the village to fetch the physician or if the good man be gone the lad leaves word with his wife. Oft he arrives soon and again he may arrive in an day or two. Most difficult is the life of a physician and full of self-sacrifice for he does ever respond to the call of pain and distress riding out over unknown trails through the rain and heat and cold. Many do die whilst in the mid-years from overwork and exposure. The old man out lives him sturdy with locks of white though he may know naught of the laws of health.
Mine hand is wearied of the quill and the shadows all about and the light grows dim and anon will come the tine to call mine household together for evening prayers.
This day week Luman Winter did ride to our door rock and bid us all come to an play-party. Jane and Isaac and Abner did go all dressed in their best. I did hesitate ere I did give mine consent but Jane was anxious to go and had an new frock to wear and then I did have Isaac's promise to be a good lad. These play-parties oft last until dayspring. I did sleep but fitfully and I was up and about the cabin when the young folk did return. Jane did sleep far into the day but it is plow time and the lads needs must eat their breakfast and go to the field.
Jane chattered the entire afternoon of the merry time. She did relate in much detail of the guests present and of their frocks and of the tasty food. She did tell how they all did frolic in the double rooms. Mister Winter and his good wife did dance and caper about although her locks are white and he has grown quite stout in girth.
Mistress Winter is an fine lady and Mister Winter an gentleman of culture and they did seek an home in this new land for much the same reason as we did seek it. Mister W. did build an fine home made of brick and each of the seven rooms have crystal glass windows and an fireplace. The lads did admire this home and do talk of erecting an fine brick house. Isaac did select the very spot and does say when the harvest is past he will go to the city and fetch an builder of houses. Much monies it will surely take and I know it will take much labor but the lads are industrious and we are now prosperous.
Just an sonnight has passed since I did return from William's home for another son did come to keep the first lad company. An bonny babe and they did name the wee one for Johnathan who did accompany me thither. Loath was I to leave Matilda and I did charge Willlam when I did bid him farwell to cherish them and should illness come trust not to herbs or to simples but haste to an physician and have him to come hither for small folk do sicken suddenly. I did make promise to fetch along the trundle-bed when I did return. William did bundle the little lass into her hood and mantle and did, fetch her along with him as he did escort us adown the trail until he did reach the broad creek and there I did bid him return to his home for an chill wind did blow.
Gray clouds did come across the sun and we did hasten on and did not stop for the nooning but did eat of the bread and meat and cheese as we did ride along. Come sundown and snow was flying fast and only a faint streak of light did tell us how night would be there anon. Soon the flakes did come an whirling mass and night did close down upon us with home an half an score of miles away. We did press on until we did grow chilled and quite benumbed. At last we did find shelter in a rude cabin with gentle folk though very poor. The good wife did chafe mine numbed limbs and did brew me an strong infusion and I did drink this scalding hot and it soon did stop mine quaking. She did insist I should rest upon her bed. This make-shift bed was made fast to the cabin wall and held up by stakes driven deep into the earthen floor and an hempen rope was laced betwixt to support an
54mattress of prairie grass. She did sleep upon an shakedown hard by the hearth and did rise up through the night to mend the fire. Her husband and Johnathan did sleep in the stable amid the hay.
By the dawn the snow had ceased to fall and after an warm meal of mush and milk we did ride homeward over the prairie. Very thankful was I for the night's shelter from the storm and that day week I did send an hamper to their cabin and in the hamper I did store several lengths of soft flannel for the babe and some print for an frock to deck out the wee lass and I did add an jar of wild honey an smoked ham. Johnathan did send an goodly sack of meal and did add some fine white flour. Jane did make a biggin for the lass and did send a store of walnuts along with an pudding flavored well with spice.
Yuletide we did spend in the country of the Mauvaiseterre with mine kinsmen the Allisons and the Linns. Mary did wish to join us and did pattern many gifts and I did so with brisk needle and quick kniting pins.
Our merry cavalcade did trace through wooded glades and over wide stretches of prairie. Our shadows did stretch along the narrow winding trail — toppish shadows and misshapen where the saddlebags distended and riding skirts did flitter-flutter. Anon we did reach their lane and some did ride on with speed and did hallo the cabin with loud shouts of joyous greeting. Out from the rick-yard race the lads and did leap the stone fence and Cousin Marymum did stand out on the door rock and did wave aloft her apron like a banner. The winter sun did paint her rosy red and did burnish bright the cabin with its declining rays. The men folk did quickly scatter to, paddock and stable.
55With merry chat we did bustle about and did spread the table boards in the kitchen place for their cabin is an double one with rooms quite large. We did have fine appetites from our long ride in then brisk air and we did eat of the biscuits sausages mashed potato cheese honey and jam cake. Isaac did say when the meal was o'er there was naught left even for the dog.
With speed we did clear away for ere we did leave the board fun and frolic did begin. The folk did play and caper all about and did make the cabin ring with laughter. Abner did lead out Grandame Linn from her snug chair in the chimney nook and she did tilt her silvery head and did out-spread her wide skirts and did drop an stately curtsy and did tread the dance as she did in England these many years agone.
Midnight did come and then Cousin Marymum did bid all cease all gaiety and we did kneel and bow low our heads whilst Cousin Hosea did kneel upon the hearth and offer up an fine Yuletide prayer and when his voice did cease Benjamin did begin an hymn and we all did join our voices in praise of the loving Father who does love and does protect us.
Coverlids were brought out and beds were spread about until Cousin Marymum did say Saint Nicholas needs must play hop-scotch amid the sleepers to fill the Christmas stockings. Then came morning with laughter and joyous babblement. Breakfast was scarce cleared away when anon came preparation for the feast. A mountain high of mashed potato and a sea of gravy too Jane did say. Marymum had indeed plundered storehouse for the feast outspread and we all did have an fine Yuleday appetite.
Much too soon did come the time when we must mount and ride away and then there was much pother with panniers and pillons. Isaac did say we should have hither come in the great wain but at last the cavalcade did wend along the lane and did enter onto the wilder trail. An gibbous moon did rise ere we did reach Burnt Haystack Spring and did light us bright along our way. We did stop abit at the tavern so the young folk might rest a bit and warm themselves for although the winter day was mild and bright an chill did creep up after the sun had set. We did not tarry for there were half an score of miles yet to go. Along the way the wee folk did nod and drowse but did hold fast to mantle and great-coat that did sway before them.
Daughter Mary did remain in our home until the coming of the New Year. This did greatly pleasure us for indeed her visits are most rare.
I take mine portfolio and quill and do sit me down to mark this time for it is but few days agone that I did make agreement with the architect to erect the fine home we so much desire.
Our barrister Mister L. did bring the gentleman to our home. He did have speech with me and did desire to see the spot we did select and he did walk about and consider it whilst we did talk a bit and I did summon Isaac and Abner from their labor and we all did talk until the sun did set.
He did have the task of erecting an large stone church in the village of Jacksonville in the country of the Mauvaiseterre and he
57did wish to finish ere he did take this onus on him. He did plan with Issac for the felling of the trees and did tell Abner of the multitude of bricks the building would require and these must be made soon and stored away against the coming of the spring when he would return to erect our house.
I did not cavil when the architect did state the length of time and the sum of monies it must take although each did seem o'er much for I did see the young gentleman was indeed, honorable and was no feckless addlepate.
Jane doned her bright frock and did serve an fine tea-drink beneath the dooryard trees. This is the first time she did serve an tea and she did this hospitality both graciously and well. An fine lass is our Jane. She is both neat and comely and is industrious and skilled in household tasks. I am indeed much pleasured to see she has gained such proficiency and is happy in this humble spot for she does sweetly sing as she does speed the wheel and does smile upon the daily tasks.
To find happiness in work welldone does make contentment in the home. I do wish the members of mine family to be independent of servants for in this lies proficiency and power and capability to make an comfortable and pleasant home. Since the days of Adam the women have been home-makers and the men home-builders and all the tasks in the world are eventually undertaken for that end.
The long June twilight hour has passed and the golden after glow has faded quite away. The time for candle lighting and the time for evening prayer is near.
It is autumn in the valley and this day I did stroll about in the warm October sun treading through the rustling leaves and did much enjoy the golden sunlit hour. Whilst I was selecting bright red and yellow leaves to bedeck the dull cabin walls I did espy Mister M our neighbor approaching and I did beckon him for Abner had said how some time agone Mister M. had made that long and perilous journey to his old home in England. Now I did think perchance he might have some tidings of mine dear kinsmen left behind in England when we did thither come some ten years agone. I first did greet him and did inquire of his health and of the health of his family also and then I did wish to learn how he did fare on his long journey. He did say his family were all quite well save Caroline whose cough was bad. Travel he did say travel was less wearisome since one could travel by packet and by rail-cars. He did state he had been away from England some twenty year but on returning he did mark no great change. He did draw from his saddlebag several gifts and many letters intrusted to his care. He did tell how he did fetch back gold monies to invest in the lands hereabouts. He did say he deemed land to be a safe investment for much distress has been felt in commerce and in trade of late.
Much pother has there been since early summertime about this Mister William Henry Harrison for the Whigs do wish this man to be the president of these States of the New World. The men folk do talk of this person unceasingly and do go about to the great mass meetings and they walk along in the torch-lit processions although they know naught of him save for what some fine orator has told them.
Our lads did go to the great mass meeting in Springfield town and do yet talk of it. They say there was assembled in the town an great concourse of folk from aged grandsire to tiny babe. Full twenty thousand did gather there from all the countryside. Many did even come from the far away town Chicago and it did take fourteen yoke of oxen to tote the two-masted ship and the brass cannon they did fetch along with them and three weeks time was required to make the journey.
Upon that day in Springfield town the vast procession did wend about the streets. There was an log cabin built upon a wain and this wain was drawn along by thirty oxen. By the cabin grew an hickory tree and in this tree racoons did play and close by the door was an barrel of cider for the Whigs are taunted of Mister William Henry Harrison belonging to log cabin stock and they do say he does drink hard cider to sharpen up his wits and so his friends did make much ado of it. The Whigs do call him "Tippecanoe" for he was indeed the hero of that great battle of Tippecanoe where he did help rout the red men with great onslaughter.
The lads did go to Springfield town by way of Jacksonville in the country of the Mauvaiseterre and I did go along and did remain with Cousin Marymum whilst Cousin Hosea did go onward with the lads. We did take in the town of Jacksonville one day whilst I did visit and I did see the rail-cars Mister John Henry did have running along the rail-tracks. These were the first rail-cars I did ever cast mine eyes upon. Along the wooden rail-track did come an wee bit engine tootling and dragging after were the bouncing swaying rail-cars. Now Marymum did ask when the tootling engine did pause to take on the
60Tar-dipped logs for fuel if I did wish to get aboard and ride along a piece but I did say her nay for I did not wish to ride on such contraption unless it be most necessary for folk say it is indeed dangerous to life and limb.
I am much perturbed within mine mind for I do desire Jane to go to the Female Academy so she may know more of culture and the goodly ways of living but the lass does not wish it. Always she does make an excuse — Mary did not go — it will take much monies — she is needed here at home and thus and so. Now there is an small but excellent academy in Jacksonville town in the country of the Mauvaiseterre and it is but thirty miles away and is quite close to the spot where Cousin Marymum does dwell.
There is naught of culture save in the homes of an few of the pioneers. For the most part there is an barbarity I cannot condone although many of the folk hereabout are generous and kindly there are others much given to roistering and strong drink. Many are ungodly and are ignorant and superstitious and believe in signs and omens.
I shall not forget the barbarous sight I did see in this new country when we first did hither come. I did go to the village to make purchase of needful supplies for mine household and when I had finished I did step outside the store to await the coming of William to fetch me home. Whilst I did stand there I did witness a most cruel sight.
Upon the public square closeby the court-house stood an great rough-hewn log topped by an stout crossed piece and I did see an prisoner fetched from the log goal by the tipstaff or shire-reeve as
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for Jane which she did admire — some banks of linen thread and some knitting pins of bone besides the quantity of spice. Jane did purchase some thread lace and an bright ribband for her waist and another for an knot for her hair.
We did inquire of folk along the trail and he did say that Mistress Pope did have an ague-fit. Pleasant Homes and Enos Reed did plan to make the journey by packet and stage to their old home in an place named Vermont and would be away until harvest time did come. He did relate how Grandsire Wright did lie most helpless-like stricken stiff with rheumatiz.
At last he did stow his wares away in the strong poke-sacks and took up his round hat to depart. Jane did murmur perchance he would remain for nooning and this I bid him do. He did right gladly tether his horse and did absterge his leathery face and brawny arms in the basin on the bench by the door and he did fetch out from the panniers an clean shirt and he did grease his boots and change his shirt out in the smithy shed. He did quest about and did find wood to carve an fine smooth ladle and he did tighten up the withes which hold the noggins roundabout. Adown by the creek he did go and fetch an great flat stone to place beneath the rain-barrel. He did dead-lift the barrel and place the stone beneath. An strong stout man is Osa.
I mind the first time I did cast mine eyes upon him. The first time he did hither come an great black cloud was rising swiftly in the west and I did call for Mary and we did scurry about to take the baby chicks to shelter from the coming wind and rain. The foolish mother hens afrighted did flit and flutter wildly about and did
63squall loudly and did make much clack as we did seize the tiny chicks and thrust them safe into our out-stretched aprons. Amid the fluttering fowls an tall form did appear suddenly and did scoop up the hens both left and right and thrust then into the low thatched shed whilst we, did empty aprons of the chicks and fled in the wind with billowing to the cabin's shelter. He did seek protection from the rain in the barn place and when the storm clouds passed away he built an fire adown by the spring and did cook his evening meal although we did send out young James to bid him come to our table board to sup. Anon Isaac and Abner did go and hold converse with him for he does know of the happenings along the trail and does hear news at the mail-gatherings and from the tavern also.
It was Osa Priddy who did tell of the cruel murder of that Mister Lovejoy shot down in Alton by an lawless mob. Because Mister Love joy did make vigorous protest against the slavery of the black folk and did write and talk much of it the citizens holding slaves did grow quite angry and did destroy the gentleman's printing press thinking this would be sufficient warning. Mister Lovejoy did make purchase of another press and did wax more bitter than before. Again he was warned and when he heeded naught of what they told him he was shot down whilst defending his press.
Osa did tell us of the Mormon folks who did hold beliefs most strange. This religious sect did endeavor to build an city within our Illinois state and did make ready to erect an costly temple within the city and did send missionaries all about. This sect did believe in the plurality of wives and did wish to hold much power in the
64goverment and did incur the enmity of the folk and some did rise up in wrath and drive them from the state.
I mind the time when an missionary came to the village from this Mormon city and the folk about did gather to hear what this man would say. Of a sudden an lad did cry out "Fire!" and all rushed out of the village school-house where they were gathered and when they perceived they were mistaken did return and seat themselves and the man did scarce begin to speak when another lad did cry out "Fire!" and all did rush out again only to be deceived. The lads did hector the missionary man until he did depart in wrath across the prairie.
Much time have I spent at William's homecoming and going or remaining awhile for his wife Matilda's health is most frail. There are now four small folk to be cared for and there is much necessary labor to be done. She has failed rapidly since Yuletide and passed away from this opportunity of life at the turn of the season. We did bury her frail body under the blossoming trees in the orchard not far from Benjamin mine husband's grave. Only once her mother came to the home and it was the day the funeral sermon was pronounced nor did she offer the shelter of her home to the motherless children. Such coldness and austerity I cannot condone and I do not wish to ever see her face again.
Matilda did send fortime to come when she did take her bed to the very day I did arrive she called me to her bed and did request when she had passed away to that far home not made with hands that
65take the lasses as mine own and raise them as I did Mary and Jane. The country being new she did say there would be roistering and some most uncouth folk did dwell roundabout. William was young and would wed again and she did not wish the lasses to abide with an stranger. I did right gladly fetch them home with me. The eldest is but seven years and the youngest an toddling babe. William does go from our home to his and betimes Abner and Isaac do go with him to assist for there is much labor to be done in season. Jane seemed vexed for me to take the onus of caring for William and his family for she does say the raising of nine fatherless children in a new and strange country was indeed enough but she does love and shelter the children and is most considerate towards William.
Abner did astound us all by bargaining for an vast machine to thresh out grain for he did say he was most weary of the heavy fails. He did chaffer with Isaac until he did gain his promise to assist in purchasing the machine as it did cost considerable monies. Isaac did talk against it but did finally take some of Abner's oxen as security and bid him take his brother Johnathan and go about harvesting for folk roundabout to secure the remainder of the monies.
The season of hard labor is at hand and trees are to be felled and carted to the saw-mill and then carted back as lumber to be stored along with the bricks against the time when the architect does hither come. I do much desire our fine brick house to be erected ere the winter cold comes down for with William and his family crowded indeed will be our cabin. Jane does say even now we do find it so crowded we do find it necessary to go outside to turn about.
Yuletide does approach and we prepare for celebration for now there are small folk within our cabin and Saint Nicholas will most certainly visit us. Mary makes promise she will come if the weather does permit for it is an wearisome journey with the small folk over the rough uneven trail. Always Mary's visits pleasure us. Indeed her visits are most rare for she is an excellent housewife and deems her duties lie within the home.
William is of great assistance and he takes much care of his wee ones. He is as thoughtful of their comfort as a mother would be. He does frolic with them and does make the cabin ring with laughter. It does seem strange indeed to have him here with us again but we much enjoy his presence although we know he does miss his home and his wife now gone.
Abner and Johnathan did spend the season away from home for they do find much work for the vast machine they trundle about the countryside. They do not always take monies in payment but take an portion of the grain harvested and they send this grain adown the river Illinois to the grain market in the city Saint Louis and sell it there at some profit. Now I did not deem the purchase of this vast machine as wise and would risk no monies of mine on the venture. I did think Mister H. wished to rid himself of it believing not the reason he did give that his wife did not wish to be left alone so much in this new country where they had so lately come.
Isaac and Abner seem well satisfied led with this venture and Isaac goes betimes to those fields where the vast machine separates the
67grain from the chaff with so much speed. He does assist in the moving of the machine from one field to another in the nightime and he enjoys the frolics folk do oft have when the labor is past for the folk in the neighborhood do gather to assist one another.
Small time do I have for mine journal and I do think if it were not for daughter Jane I would abandon it entirely but she is most persistant and goes and fetches it and places it before me so I cannot plead forgetfulness.
This day she does wish me to write of the dedication of our new home and I think she is fearful lest I forget some detail of this memorable event. It pleasures me to write of our new home which by the grace of God we now enjoy. This substantial home built to last and well suited to our needs.
Broad is our house and it does face the rising sun. Two vast chimneys are built at the ends of the house so we can have an fireplace in each room for long have we shivered in the chill of the cabin and then there is oft sickness and one does need the heat in the bed-chambers. Quite large are the rooms with fine even floors and smooth walls and there are windows sashed with crystal glass where the light of the day may enter. We have walnut-woodwork which was made from the trees selected with great care from out timberlands by the architect. It does look fine like all smooth and finished off with oils.
We did pattern our home much after the home we did leave in England. One does enter over the door rock into the spacious hall into the very center of the house. Broad easy stairs lead from the hall to the chambers above. One the right below and north of the hall we do have an parlor room where we entertain our guests and on the left and south we did build an most cheery room and it is in this room that the members of mine family do foregather always. Our kitchen does have an vast fireplace and there is much space to spread the kitchen gear about. We do have on the north of the kitchen an well stocked buttery with deep shelves ranged about.
Isaac did make the journey to the city Saint Louis to make the purchase of the glass windows and I did accompany him in the stage for I did wish to purchase moreen for curtains and some fine haircloth chairs and two sets of andirons for the parlor room. It was quite an wearisome journey over the rough trail road in the stage coach and we needs must return with the wares purchased by the river Illinois.
Anon we did move from the cabin. First we did take the beds and arrange them to our comfort for indeed we do know a third of our lives are spent in slumber. Our beds are stout and wide with the high mattress of straw and atop these we have the plump featherbed piled up with feather pillows and bolsters also. Then we fetched along the dresser with its stock of pewter mugs and porringers and the like. The great chest of drawers Paul and Isaac did place in the south room and mine spinning wheel closeby the south window. The English clock we placed in the hall where all might read its face. The fine old mirror
69we did fetch all the long Journey wrapped safe in the feather bed Paul did hang proudly on the parlor trail. Mary's husband did make an table for this parlor room and it was made of walnut wood all smooth and shining.
The Reverend Mister Peter Cartwrigt did stop a bit as he did go to Alton and he did say he did think it was meet to dedicate our home and I did reply that I would ponder on the thought. I did confer with the members of mine household and we did send word about to our friends and kinsmen. Many did come that Sabbath morn and did bring hampers of food with them and did pass the day. The reverend Mister Cartwright with well chosen words and an fine prayer did dedicate our home. All did rise up and harken to his words and to the blessing he did pronounce upon the home and all the folk dwelling therein. He did then bow low offering me his arm to escort me about the house and all the guests did follow after and they did praise and much admire our new home.
Some of the guests brought gifts to bedeck the house. Mary did weave upon her loom an gay coverlid and Cousin Marymum did fetch an pressed quilt of white and blue to spread upon mine bed. William did present tall candlesticks of brass and Mistress L. the barrister's wife stitched an motto to hang above the fireboard.
It was eventide when all the guests departed upon their homeward way beneath an sky of rose and gold. I then did call all of mine household about me and I did kneel upon the threshold and I did pray to the Father to have peace and love abide within mine home and I did
70pray for His loving care and His protection for each one and at last I did offer up an great prayer of thanks for His tender care these many years of mineself an widow and mine children fatherless.
The New Year is upon us. The fifteenth year in this far distant land where the heavenly Father has made us homemakers. Crude still are the environs but we shun the evil and seek industriously for the good. Here one has learned the true spirit of the pioneer — to accept what God sends and to make no ado of it.
Greatly do we enjoy our new home and the winter is passing quickly by for all save Abner and he cowers shivering in the ingle-nook. The poor lad was seized early in the season with an ague fit. Yuletide and its mirth has passed and he is shivering yet.
This valley although one of abundance is also abundant in agues and fevers for there are many sloos and low dank places where miasmas flow out and contaminate many and they do sicken for the season. I gather herbs and simples and keep them handy like and store up catnip sage and sassafras dandelion tansy and the like and I do concoct nards and nostrums and healing salves. All these I keep in readiness for use in mine household and for other folk about for I am oft called to minister to those who are ill ere the physician does arrive.
Abner complains but seldom though we know well the discomfort the lad does suffer from the chilly fits although he is wrapped all about with blankets warm. He made an grim face over the play-party he did miss and he did frown when he was too ill to attend the Christmas
71Sing. He was doleful indeed when we did go to hear the debate betwixt Ulster Stephan Douglas and our Whig — Mister Woodson and he did turn away his face when we did on returning tell how the church-house was packed with folk to the very door. Many desired to hear these men speak for they are of renown and each does wish to go to the Congress from our state. It is rare one hears speeches in our village such as these. Once we did hear an fine speech by Mister Daniel Webster given at the great barbecue at Jacksonville town in the country of the Mauvaiseterre.
One day I did see Mister Stephan Douglas before the tavern and he did indeed seem young to be so wise. Folk roundabout do name him the Little Giant. Mister Woodson does live in the village and is known to all as an just an upright man. Other men of renown in our village are Mister Colonel Jacob Fry — an warrior who has shown himself as both fearless and brave and there is Mister Thomas Carlin who did go from our village to be governor of our state awhile. He is an wise and fearless man. Oft he would stop to drink from the spring when he did so the land office at the village of Quincy whence he did take monies from the land sales hereabout. Alone he would make the Journey driving his fine gray team hooked up to the whimiddle. Many of the men roundabout are such pioneers as these with the same high character and the same strength of will.
Last night I did spend an quiet hour beneath the stars in prayer the while for the Father to give me strength of spirit to take life with its sorrows and partings as an gentlewoman should.
William I knew would wed again for greatly did he miss his home and he is young and much of his life is as yet before him. Soon after he did wed he did come to fetch the children home. I did prepare the lads for the journey and when he did wish to take the lasses also I did say him nay and when he did question of it I told him of his dead wife's request although I did not wish to. He did stare out of the window quite a bit and then did bid me keep them as mine own as it was Matilda's wish.
Greatly do we miss the lads although they were oft naughty and full of tricks. No more does their Aunt Jane pluck them dripping from the rain-barrel and she has cast away the limber switch. No more are the preserves and jam hid away on the high shelf. The ducks and geese live again in peace and there is no caddie in the barn-yard. No shrill war-hoops in ones ears. No sliding wildly adown the stair-rail. No torn pantaloons to patch. The lads have gone and how we miss them!
It is well the lasses were left to abide with me for daughter Jane does make preparation to wed come Yuletide. Much surprised was I and filled with astonishment when Mister Norton ask mine permission to pay his addresses to Jane. Mister Norton is the architect who did build our house and did pass much time with us the while. Although he did find an temporary abode in the village he did oft sit at meat and always passed the Lord's Day in our home. We do consider him an clever and gallant gentleman.
He did come from his home in Boston town all the long journey to the city Saint Louis. He did tell me of his home and of the members
73of his family and he did wish we might know them. He did tell me he was quite prosperous and could offer Jane and comfortable and an pleasant home. He does greatly love and admire her and he did say how much it would pleasure him to take her to his home and present her to his family as his wife. Now this I know — if Jane does wed and go to the far east in Boston town to live I may never see her face again so I did make plea to Mister Norton for an bit of time ere I did render an decision for greatly I depend on our Jane and already I have passed many years of life's journey.
Jane does not speak of the parting although I know she does wish to as there is much to be done and soon if she does wed at Yuletide. I do desire her happiness and I know I will not stay her.
Much time has gone by and slowly for I have lain these many weeks upon mine bed stricken stiff with rheumatiz. Much severe pain have I suffered and I have most helpless quite.
Kind and tender were the lad and Jane. She did turn out the parlor and did have mine bed placed so I might see adown the stage road and yet I was close by the fire so I did feel no chill. They all did rub mine limbs with ointments and did wrap them all about in red flannel and they did most smother me in blankets. The lads did lift me up from mine bed and carry me about when I grew weary or was too full of pain even though it was the nightime.
Great was the pain and it did seem within mine bones and these pains did greatly rack me. Mine family did think it was the chilly
74dousing I received on Court Bay but I do think it the dampness and the chill of the old cabin and the life I lived therein troubling these old bones of mine.
Kind friends and neighbors did come and fetch me tasty morsels to tempt mine appetite. Mary did wish to come and assist but I did not wish her to take additional onus for her household cares and the burden of child-bearing is enough.
Not only pain did I suffer but I did suffer mental anguish also for Jane did send her lover away and did refuse to wed him although all their plans were made and her garments were all stitched. In vain I pled with her and I told her I would soon be up and brisk about again but she did refuse saying if she did wed and go to Boston her heart would ever be here with me for the lasses of William's are too young for responsibility and too many years I had carried the cares and sorrows of the family and it was her duty to remain to share in these burdens.
It is now I realize how the years do take their toll and I do oft find mineself looking backward over mine shoulder at the times gone by instead of looking foreward to the times to come. The prosperity we did seek in this New World we did gain but one cannot purchase youth.
Much comfort and pleasure do I have in the companionship of the lasses William did leave with me. They do sit beside me or do run on mine errands for I do move about quite slowly with the aid of an staff and I find mine fingers too stiff to grasp the quill or knitting pins.
I am much improved in health and it is well for I did receive by post an message saying guests from England would be in our home anon. These two young gentlemen are the sons of Doctor S. who acted as chief apothecary on mine husband the Captain's ship for many years. I did receive inquiry some time agone whilst I did lie upon mine bed of illness and I bid Jane write and tell the lads of this western country and I bid her write and invite them to remain as guests within our home until they each did find an satisfactory post.
When spring did come Abner did wed and purchase an cabin with a bit of land in the country of the Sangamon where he did say in his droll like way land was cheap and wives were dear. Abner is most kind and he has greatly endeared himself to us all, I do pray the Father to send an special blessing and to have happiness forever reign therein.
This day I sit beneath the dooryard trees and watch Roger and the lads build an house of fieldstone about the spring. I do wish this to be done although this is the harvest season and they can work at the building a few days at an time. Our small folk oft play about the spring and an week or two agone the lasses did come screaming through the wicket pale with fright and there Uncle Paul did hasten out and slay the ugly puff-adder coiled up on an rock close by the spring.
Quite neat is this spring house and has windows and two doors to enter. No more do we have to hang the butter adown the well but can place it along with the jugs of milk on the rock shelf. It did take many stones to make this house and it did take many days to
76days to fetch them hither in the oxcart to be used by Roger.
An able man is Roger and an fine husbandman. He has tarried with us these many years and much of our prosperity is due to his sagacity and wisdom. We do not only esteem Roger but we esteem Roger's family also. Sarah his wife is serene and capable and their lads and the lass strong and skilled in all manner of labor. Roger was an Yeoman's son and did come to seek fortune in this new land but Sarah did lately come from her home in Sussex. We do oft chat of Sussex for I did pass quite some time with mine good aunt whilst I was widowed and did find peace and solace in the Sussex dales. It was in those dales mine sons did learn to till the soil and the desire for fields of their own grew until they did come over the wide sea to this rich valley.
The harvest time does scarce seem past and now we are preparing for Yuletide. This is how speedily time does move on to the older folk but youth does; say time oft drags on with leaden feet.
We do make such preparation for we wish to have William and Mary and Abner and their families and it will take a hit of time to cook and to arrange for sleeping quarters and we always make exchange of gifts to all members of the family. Moreover there are guests now from England in our home.
The English lads did arrive in the village the very day our soldier men did gather therein. The lads did hear the fine speech and did see the flag the ladies did present to this brave company of men who do go many miles away to an far place named Mexico to help defend
77this vast domain from encroachment of the enemy. Some folk who did not go did offer conveyance to the town of Alton where many did foregather so Isaac did offer the great wain which would hold quite an number and Roger did drive the teams for his son did go in the company and it did pleasure him to go that distance with his soldier lad.
Isaac did hook up the team of bay mares to the whimiddle and did dash about the countryside in quest of an post as apothecary for the English lads and Ephriam did find one in our village to be taken up the New Year for Mister B. does much dislike this pioneer village where he did come in search of fortune and he does desire to return to his home in New Hampshire from whence he did venture out. Henry the other lad found an post in the country of the Mauvaiseterre.
For the Thanksgiving feast we roasted an fine large turkey cock and we did prepare spiced ham and made vegetables into stews and Jane did make an array of tarts and puddings and the like. Cousins Hosea and Marymum did come along and fetch Miranda Khos Sarah and Arabella from the country of the Mauvaiseterre.
Our young folk did give an play-party for the English lads and all much enjoyed the frolic. Jane doned her amber silk which has lain in her dower chest these many months. Tight of bodice and adorned with ruffles all about the skirt which were out-spread over hoops quite wide and she bound her curls close to her head with an gold ribband. The lads were all dighted out in their best to honor their guests.
We have strived to pleasure them. Our lads did take them on an wolf hunt away west of this place out in the timberland. The English
78lads did return quite spent with their garments all askew and their faces red and blowsy. The poor lads did think this hunt would be such as foxhunts are in England. They did tell how they did ride slap-dash among the trees and did loudly hallo until they did find other horsemen and all did form a long line with their leader in advance and at an given time each line drew in to form an vast square and in this way did close in upon all game. The kill was made upon String Prairie some fifteen miles away. Their leader Mister A. did return with the lads and he did seem most gallant with his broad-brimmed hat turned up in front and the turkey red sash tied about his waist. Some of the hunters sighted wolves but only small game was taken.
Again there has been illness in our home for daughter Jane sickened with an fever. Many times the physician came and Roger's wife did assist in the care of her. Now she is up from her bed and is brisk about making preparation to visit William and to see their new babe.
I am quite frightened when illness does come in our home. The fevers and agues and that terrible lung-sickness and coughing. Many are taken of this sickness and die of it. I mind the family of Mister E. who has sons and daughters numbering six and last springtime two of beautiful daughters passed away and a few weeks agone the son died of the dread disease. Others sons are like to die of it so the physician told the sorrowing parents. There seems no potion or drug can cure this lung-sickness when it does fasten its grim hold upon ones family.
Death has visited many homes roundabout. Just an sennight agone Grandsire W. did go to his reward. It is well for he was old and full
79of years and did suffer much with rheumatiz.
Paul did learn of the Grandsire's demise and we did go to their cabin and sit up with the dead as is the custom hereabout. Upon arriving we did find other neighbors there. All the women folk did sit within the cabin and the men folk did sit upon a bench just outside the door. Grandsire did lay all stiff and stark by the window wrapped about in his winding sheet.
We did hold converse and some did nod and catch a bit of sleep when of an sudden there did come an most fearsome wail from close without. Twice it did come and the dog — an great fierce bandog did set up such an din and did rush about and the men folk espyed the dim gray shape and did seize clubs and sticks and persue it roundabout the clearing and did finally catch the beast adown by the piggery. Some did say it was an painter but Paul did say it was not an painter but an timber cat which does lurk about the edge of the timber and does pounce upon his prey in the nightime.
This beast was of quite an size with an head much like an common pussy-cat save that it was larger and the beast did have strong legs and an long drooping tail. Never do I wish to hear that fearsome cry or to cast mine eyes on such an fierce beast. I did insist we remain until the sun did rise and all the shadows go. Paul did laugh although I did observe he did carry an stout stick by his side when we did take our homeward way.
The shadows do grow long upon the grass and this does tell me it is time to cease mine Journal and begin mine evening tasks.
It is an year and past since last I did set down the date upon the pages of mine journal. This has been an time of trial and parting for mine beloved son Isaac did join the great cavalcade which did wend an perilous way over the great plains and through the mountains to the western shore where folk do say gold does lie all about. It does seem as though an frenzy did seize the minds of most. Men did go trooping out from field and cabin store and mill all unmindful of the tasks they did leave behind although well do they know good fortune and riches comes only as an meed for all who are industrious and do live well in sight of the Lord.
Although Isaac is mine beloved son I did not stay him for now he is man grown and surely knows well life's lessons. These many years he has been an faithful son and has born cheerily the burdens of the pioneers and he does leave the others Paul and the twin lads and there is young James also.
Neither will I stay any member of mine family if they wish to depart for indeed their lives are their own and they have learned in their youth to fight life's battles. To shield them and to keep them always about me is unkind and will weaken their will in the years to come.
I do have an strong foreboding about this journey of Isaac's although I make no mention of it perchance he will make the journey safe but I know he will not return again to this his home. Mine spirit oft knows what mine mind kens not. So heartstricken was I that I could not abide this place where everything about did suggest the presence
81of Isaac so Jane did insist I should return with Abner to his home for Abner had come from his home to bid his brother farewell.
Abner does live an full day's journey over into the country of the Sangamon. An fine sweet wife an small lad and an wee babe do make up Abner's household. Then I did go to William's home. An home of contentment and laughter and I was pleasured to find his wife brisk and capable and an kind stepmother to William's first sons. Upon departing I did fetch the lads home with me. Oft they do come to visit with their sisters and do enjoy the hospitality of our home.
Death came to our home when Ephriam the younger of the English lads did sicken with the quinsy and it did grow worse and the illness did reach his lungs. We did give him tender care and he did linger till the spring and did expire. His brother Henry was ever at the sick lad's bed-side and he did become so pale and wan worn with anxiety and grief we did insist when Ephriam passed away to that far home not made with hands that Henry must return to his home in England and this he did.
We do greatly miss these fine stalwart lads. With the tears coursing adown his cheeks Henry did bid us an last farewell and did thank us for the kindness we had shown them and I did tell this English lad it was our wish in life to make folk comfortable and happy and to share our abundance with them.
An vast amount of soap is made and now I must turn mine attention to the weaving and go to Mistress Moss anon for I do wish to have the work done in season. Many garments are to be cut and stitched for I wish all members of mine household to be neat and tidy.
In many homes there is indeed an lack of cleanliness most shocking. Always have I been vigilant that slovenliness does not creep into mine house even into the cabin small as it was. It is not only the grimy garments and the greasy hearth I do deplore but there are some folk living roundabout who do chew upon the tobacco weed. There are even some of the women folk who dip snuff and do oft smoke an pipe. The Southron folk roundabout think naught of the habit but I cannot abide it.
For the most part folk from far New England did take up their abode hereabout. These homes are ever tidy and clean for the good wives scour and scrub and they do spin and weave and all the time are looking well to the ways of their household. Strong of character are these folk and capable of much endurance and they do adjust themselves to this pioneer life with no ado.
I delight in their neat kitchens with the wide settle by the fire and the swinging iron crane. Always their furniture is plain and sturdy. There is the wooden clock and the dresser with an store of pewter and there is the busy spinning wheel oft do I sit in their parlor room. How the andirons and candles shine! Some did bring portraits and profiles all framed up to hang upon the walls and some do even have landskips. They have earthen pots of flowers about and some have posy beds along the path leading to the door rock. Pinks and sweet-williams and peonies do grow and these little gardens are oft marked about with white stones. They have lilac trees and some have hollyhocks and tall sunflowers growing. I much esteem these good folk and do consider mineself most fortunate to have these folk as neighbors.
This is the Sabbath and quiet and peace prevail. No guest did sit at meat with us and this is most rare for there does seem ever to be some one about. Some may pass the day and some come and pass an sennight. Now Mistress Bayne did stay all the springtime season whilst she did wait the building of their house. She was sent by mine good aunt in Sussex else I would not have felt it mine duty to shelter her and her daughter Marian for I could not abide the lass with her ogling eyes and simpering ways. Mistress B. did make attempt to assist about the labor but the lady knew naught of our ways in this new country. When she was leaving for their new home she did offer me her fine gold watch in payment but I did refuse it saying it was the custom hereabout to offer shelter to those folk seeming in need of it but she did leave her fine Kasmir shawl although I did refuse it many times. Paul declare he did earn the shawl by tolerating the simpering Marian with out an jower. He does say he will dight himself out in it and call upon the neighbors. I did chide him some for I wish the lads to speak well of women folk or speak not at all.
This day the oxen were yoked up to haul our grain many miles to the river Illinois to send it on by boat to the grain market in the city Saint Louis. An wearisome task marketing the grain in this manner but the rich prairie soil does yield abundantly and there to be made in this way. Since Isaac did go to the West fortune Paul has proved capable in affairs of trade much away and his twin brother Benjamin does plan to
84wed come spring and even the lad James is most man grown and he does make promise of equaling the other lads in husbandry.
It does seem strange when I do think on it how all seven of mine sons do prefer to till the fields rather than take up with trade and commerce. As I increase mine years much do I marvel we did have the boldness to venture out into an new and remote country we did know only by rumor and did leave the pleasant security of our home in England. Although now we do not have an vast store of riches we do have an abundance for our simple tastes and to assist those folk about us who are in need. Much of our abundance has been won by industry and toiling day after day. Rising in the gray of the early morn to follow the slow oxen through the heat or cold and laboring until the tasks are finished. We have not found life in the New World difficult for we do strive to meet each others wishes and desires and although our tastes do differ some we do find much pleasure in the act of giving.
In rural life it is the small happenings which keep our minds astir. What price did the grain bring? Did the sudden storm blow the apples down? Who was the scamp who ate up the remainder of the jellycake? Mistress G. did pass the day and we did have an brisket of beef and pease pudding for our nooning and this day Mistress G. did wear an new sprigged brown calico and the skirt did have many breadths. Good Mister N. did stop the while and did relate how some of the black folk having run away to freedom did find shelter in the town on Jacksonville in the country of the Mauvaiseterre and some of the citizens did grow angry and did get quite o'er wrought and they did
85shout loudly at each other and the black folk did depart quietly in the nightime. The stage does stop and an strange man — no one I did ever cast mine eyes upon does stand upon the door rock and does wish to speak with James and James is fetched and salutes the stranger with loud cries and thwacks him on the back and pleads with him to stay the week. An old hen does scratch in mine flower-bed and I do flap mine apron at her and do shoo her out of the yard. Then I do stitch a bit upon an petticoat and the sun does set and the folk all come tromping in and food is spread upon the table board. Night comes adown and I hold a bit of converse with the lads and then I gather the household about me for evening prayers and our day is ended and we do go to our beds to sleep and rest until another day does come.
We did have an fine Yuletlde and there was much ado and many guests and it was the New Year ere some did depart for their homes. Yuletide with us is ever an time of festival and homecoming and this was one of much joy and merrymaking save for the absence of mine dear son so far away. Thanksgiving had scarce gone by and we did then make preparation for the coming of this festive time. Paul and Jane do much enjoy the Yuletide celebrated in the English manner and they did festoon the house with garlands and did seek out an Yule log and did fetch it in. Candles were agleam in all the windows. An great feast was spread and many folk did move all the time about in the house and we did have not only our own family but there were neighbors and a number of other invited guests also. I did enjoy seeing these folk gathered in mine home. Our comfortable home had never seemed as
86handsome with the ropes made up of greens and the great wreathes all studded with bright berries. Some hung over the fireboard and there was an wreath in every window. Even the stair-rail did have an length of green entwined about it.
The lasses did have new frocks. Jane did have an rose brocade very tight in the bodice — so tight she did most faint when the toast was being drunk and all were standing about the festive board. She did say it the heat from the fire nearby but her brother Paul did say her stays were laced up much too tight. The grandaughters did have an frock of red and one of bright blue with round collars of fine lace. I doned mine fine black silk with the fall of real lace at the throat and wrist. This dress of mine is so rich and stiff it could stand alone with no one inside it. I did take from the wrappings mine lace cap all decked out with ribbands and did adjust it upon mine locks in place of mine white cap of lawn. Head-dress is much the fashion. Many are festive with flowers and ribband and stiff with lace. Ribband streamers do flutter about and on these ribbands there are stitched flowers of divers colors. Ladies do spend much time upon their construction and do admire and prize them.
The men folk did wear their best garments of fine blue or of decent black and they did look well to the comfort of the guests as good hosts should.
We did gather about the hearth and each did tell of the first Yuletide of his recollection and the small folk were allowed to run about and frolic an bit ere they did hang up their stockings. There was an double row of them all empty and adangle awaiting the coming
87of the good Saint Nicholas. When the young folk were tucked in their beds the older folk did prance and caper or did jest until the hour was late and I did silence them and sit all to the hearth where I did kneel upon mine hassock and did offer up an prayer to the Heavenly Father for His loving care and I did turn to William and he did take up the prayer and he did add an bit and did turn to daughter Mary and she did pray for Issac and thus the prayer did go about the family circle and then some of the guests did voice their thanks also. We then did scatter to our beds and did sleep the remaining hours away.
Paul did arise quite early and did build an fine fire upon the hearths below the stairs. I did then arise and we did brisk about and fill up the empty stockings and anon we did hear the scamper of feet and we did scurry out of sight as the small folk did come bounding in. What an din there was and the older folk did but snatch an bite of food and rushed back to join the children in their gaiety! All the day there was feasting and mirth and guests did come and go. Friends did come from roundabout and there was one who came who was gay and full of tricks and he could counterfeit the voices of the birds and beasts.
Whilst the frolic did go on I did slip out to fetch mine knitting and when I did open up the chest an voice from within did say "Woman,what seekest thou?" I did draw back afrighted and did bang down the lid. I did return to mine chair and did sit a bit and did ponder on it and I did think mine ears had deceived me and I did again go to the chest and the voice within did say — "Woman,why fleest thou from thy fate?" Quickly I did turn about and when I did return
88I was greeted with an shout of laughter. The lad did then come to me and did plead for mine forgiveness for his trickery and when I did grant him this he did make the fire — dogs hark and an robin did chirp upon the window sill and there was an mewing beneath the table and no pussy-cat was there. He did have the power to cast his voice where he did choose and did much enjoy playing tricks on those about him.
Quiet now is our home as each does go about their daily tasks. Close beside mine window I sit and stitch and stitch and gaze ever adown the stage road hopeful of Issac coming home. No word has there been of him for these several months but oft the post is delayed or letters are lost. It does seem strange how the Yuletide did come and go and there was no word. Some folk have returned from the West and do tell of privations suffered and how some live in tents or in rough shanties. Food they say does command an amazing sum of gold and lawlessness does reign and vice also. Daily I pray for mine Isaac's protection and his safe return. There is no gold here should he return but there is monies to be had in trade for very prosperous is our Illinois state since the vast grants of lands were made to the Central Railway. Towns and villages have sprung up as if by magic in our prairie wilderness and many have arrived from the East and South to make their home hereabout. Each year does bring greater prosperity making the tilling of the soil most profitable and as the railways all of us find better markets for our grain and our harvests move to these markets with less labor and with much greater speed than in the the times agone when there was naught safe the slow oxen and cart to move the load.
89With prosperity does come an desire for knowledge and we do now have an few books to read in and there are news sheets printed also. We have more schools about and in these school-houses and in these church-houses meetings are oft held named lyceums and all the folk roundabout gather there to hear the fine lectures by distinguished and learned men. As most of the towns and villages do have these lyceums much knowledge is spread about.
Ere I did take up the quill I did cast mine eyes on the last leaves of mine journal where there was an record of the mirth and gaiety of Yuletide set down. It does seem to us all we shall never laugh again since we did learn of Isaac's spirit passing to the far home not made with hands. We can scarce speak of it for it does indeed seem beyond our ken that he will not return.
The day Benjamin did wed we did first learn of it. Word was passed among the men at the wedding feast and did reach the ears of Johnathan. He did request each knowing of it to make no mention of it to Benjamin and his bride for he did wish their wedding-day to be unmared by sadness. Naught did I know until I did reach mine home and was seated in mine arm-chair by the window. When Paul did come to mine side and speak of it I did not cry out for I never do when I am hurt in spirit. It seems the pain of it will cease — these long days of anguish and white nights filled with memories of mine beloved son. Even yet Ido cherish the thought at times the thought that Mister S. did mistake it although he did say he did mark the
90tree close above the spot where mine son was laid to rest. An fever Paul did say and lack of care yet Isaac was indeed strong in mind and body. It seems I will ever be standing gazing adown the stage road awaiting for Isaac — mine son I will never see again.
This is the Lord's day and it does go pass slowly by on golden feet through the sweet mid-summer air. Today I did go to the services in the village church-house and I did grow weary ere they were ended although I usually enjoy this worship and likewise the handshaking and kind words of greeting of mine friends. No longer do I attend the camp-meetings and the like although the good do have them in the groves roundabout. I do think at these meetings folk do oft become o'er-wrought for some do have the jerks and some do fall to the ground and do roll about in an unseemly manner and many do shout and wail. I do not wish to acknowledge the Father in Heaven in such an fashion but do prefer dignity and solitude for prayer and meditation to strengthen me to bear mine sorrow.
This is the one day in the week when none does sit to have our profiles depicted on canvas for an limner — as we do name him in England — did come this way and did crave to paint our profiles. He first does labor a bit with mine profile and when I grow weary he does work on all six other profiles in their turn. He has been here many days and did take up his abode in the fine light room built above the carriage-house. We each do pay our score save the grandaughters. Jane did have an miniature portrait made and although I did ask
91naught concerning it I am very sure she did send the miniature to Boston town for an your or so agone she did receive an miniature of Mister Norton and I do see it ever on her dressing case.
I oft ponder about my daughter Jane. Admirers come and go and Paul does say she is hard of heart but she does tell him it is much better to have an hard heart than to have an broken. Does the lass prefer her dreams and fancies? None seem near enough to read her thoughts. When I do speak of it she only laughs and sews on with her stitchery serenely scarce looking upon her needle for she is that deft and in the same manner she does all her tasks quickly and with ease. The choice betwixt love and duty did come to her and it is plain the lass chose duty. Why she did chose I doubt even the lass could say. Looking back across mine years I think where the path is clear unhappiness does not linger to cast any shadows. Jane does have an true and lofty spirit and she will never relax in her adherence to it whatever the cost to herself may be. Such folk are oft misunderstood but it is an fine courageous thing this sense of duty to make the best of life for those about us.
This limning of our profiles does take much time. At first the gentleman did seat us before the great mirror and did have us turn our profiles first this way and then that and we did look upon our image reflected there and he would step aside and gaze until our aspect did satisfy each of us and then he would adjust his canvas where the light was fine and place an few lines lightly upon it and then he would mix up his paints and the real
92work of painting would begin. I did wish to be depicted in mine fine silk gown but he did plea for mine cap arid shawls. I wear about so much and I did give over to his wish. An vast portrait it does seem life-size he does name it though I can scarce believe it. When he does finish we will hang these portraits upon the wall framed up in walnut wood.
The notion to wed seems to have come to all these sons of mine. Benjamin did wed and then his twin brother Johnathan and then Paul did bring home an bride. James does have an notion I do believe for Abner does say the lad goes out in company with the lasses and Abner does know for James does stay oft in Abner's home.
Paul remains with me as I do wish it for as the years creep upon me I do need one of mine sons and Paul being the eldest now does seem the likely one and as he does manage so well I can shift mine burdens and ease up a bit.
It is just one year agone since mine beloved daughter Mary did leave us for her home in heaven. An year of sorrow and anguish for us all. It was on the selfsame day Mary and her husband Abram did leave their little family. I do not wish to question the ways of the Heavenly Father but I find them quite beyond mine ken of late.
When I did learn of Abrams grave illness I did make haste to Mary's home to assist for I did feel she must not be o'er taxed at this time. Abram was so very ill and on the very day I did arrive he did expire. Now Mary's time was close at hand and we did strive
93to keep the knowledge of Abram's passing from her but she did seem to know — one oft does know of things of the spirit when there is as much affection betwixt them as there was with Mary and Abram. I was but a moment away from Mary's side and when I did return I did find her there by Abram as white and still as he. We did endeavor to retire her but she was too ill. She did call for her husband with every breath. Then she was at last at peace a bit she asked for Johnathan to come and I told her he would be there anon and did send post-haste to his home several miles away. I did comfort her as best I could but the physician did say she could not stand the shock of Abram's passing. She did grow weaker every moment and I did walk and watch and pray for Johnathan to arrive ere it would be too late. At last he did come in sight urging his mare at top-most speed. The little sorrel mare did drop at the gate half dead with the killing pace but Johnathan rushed in and reached Mary in time to gather her to his breast and she did lie with her arms about his neck whilst he did murmur comforting words and make all promises about the children and she did smile upon us until her eyes grew dim and her spirit fled.
Now I am home again and have Mary's babe snug in his cradle amidst the flannels warm. Besides the tiny babe I did fetch the two lasses and Johnathan did take the older sons. William will be of assistance to his uncle for he is past twelve years and the other lad is but an few years younger.
Such anguish of spirit have I suffered and there has been much questioning and rebellion in mine heart that death should
94take Mary and Abram and leave the small folk both motherless and fatherless. Such an serene and happy place had been their home and I never did see so desolate a place as when I did stand at their cold hearth with the tiny babe clasp close to mine aching heart.
These hearthstones in the prairie homes are indeed altars of sacrifice. These stones on which the women kneel to tend the fire to brew and bake and oft to pray. Ah me! ever do I see her — the prairie mother offering up daily her sacrifice on the hearthstones. Come gray days of weariness and long nights of pain. Come love all in shining splendor or grief in garments sombre. Come the miracle of birth and the cruel finality of death. All about do we see the smoke from her hearthfire mounting to the heavens — an symbol of her sacrifice — prairie smoke.
Does seem I have abandoned mine journal entirely but I do not wish such for oft does it pleasure me to look back upon the pages. Today I did seek it to write of mine eldest grandaughter's wedding and the birth of Paul's tiny son.
When William's lass did say she wished to wed after Yuletide was passed many plans did we make for these grandaughters are as mine own daughters having lived in the home as such for these last several years.
An quiet wedding the lass did have with but few guests and the members of her lover's household and of our own also. An lovely
95bride demure and sweet was she and an most happy bridegroom. An industrious and kindly lad is he an younger son of an widowed mother. Many times has the lad been an guest in our home in the months agone and we have learned of his ways.
Loath was I to have the lass take upon her slender shoulders the cares and burdens of the prairie wife and mother. She is shy and reticent much as her mother was but her husband does possess an understanding heart and does realize her worth.
After the ceremony was pronounced I did slip away and did hide behind the door and did weep an bit into mine fine lace handkerchief and after that I did feel better on it and I did draw the gold monies I did have safe in mine black silk reticule and I did go and embrace the lass and did slip the monies into her hand although I did know her Uncle Paul had given her an gift of bank-bills. It does indeed take an bit of monies to begin one's home and I do not wish the lass to deny herself of needful things.
The wedding guests had been but an hour agone when Paul's wife did grow of an sudden ill and the hour of childbirth was at hand. Much anxiety did we feel for she is most frail. Jane does now care for the babe and I do minister to the needs of Mary's tiny son.
When I was but an romantic lass I did call upon old Dame Haney who did claim she could see beyond into the future. She did look in palm and did tell of the strange countries and sights I would see and how I would grow old in years and walk with the aid of an staff and always there would be children about me. Oft do I think on the
96Dame's prophecy when I gather the small folk about me to tell them tales of England the home of mine youth.
Paul goes oft to the village for the folk do hold an open market right inside the courthouse square and he does see many folk there from roundabout. Much news does he learn of the outside places and the word does come oft from off the telegraph as it is named. Now this telegraph machine does somehow take off words from an longstretch of wire betwixt Alton town and Jacksonville in the country of the Mauvaiseterre.
Paul does wish to make an Journey to the West for he does wish to know more concerning Isaac but I bid him remain within his home whilst his wife's health is so very frail although I too am most anxious to learn of mine beloved son.
Sorrow is again in our home for the passing of Paul's young wife to her home above for the lass was so frail she did linger but an few months after the birth of her son.
It has been quite some time since we did hear from our cousins living in the country of the Mauvaiseterre so busy have we been with our cares we have been and they did remain but an short while when they did hither come to the burial of Paul's wife. We had just finished the evening meal about an sennight after when an youth came dashing adown the stage road and hastily did tether his horse and we did rush without for we did know he must bring ill tidings. The lad did indeed fetch heart-breaking news of the tragic death of little Ruth — Cousin Miranda's daughter. The youth did tell how
97Miranda had an fire in the side yard beneath the vast pot and was busy with the season's dyeing. She did turn away from her boiling pot to fetch more goods to dip and she did hear the small lass scream and turned to see the small frock all ablaze. The lass died at mid-day writhing in agony.
I did think our sorrows hard to bear but they are naught to compare with that of Miranda and Marymun for ever will they see the small lass before them in the agony and pain and mine sorrows do seem light compared with this anguish.
This day we did return from an visit with mine grandaughter at her home across the prairie. William and I mineself did go to be an bit with her and the baby son and to learn how things did fare with them. Mine son William does have several children now but his first-born child is very dear to him. We did gain much pleasure from the visit for it is rare we see the lass.
She is an fine housewife and does take pleasure in the care of her baby son but her countenance did seem fine-drawn and her eyes looked tired. Before we did depart I drew the lass aside and did inquire why her door was bolted and the blinds drawn and did wish to know what she did fear. She tried to smile and make naught of it and did say the prairie was so vast without. I did then inquire if she did bolt her door to keep the vast prairie out. She did reluctantly tell how adown the road did live her neighbor an excellent and kindly lady but she did have an son who was dim of wit and foolish acting and he oft would slip away and come to the windows and peer
98in and would pound upon the door and she did fear him. Had she told her husband I ask and she did say he did speak to the lady thrice and the good lady had endeavored to keep her son at home but oft he would slip away and would come straight to her door. Now I did not wish to have mine lass so afraid and although I deemed the lad quite harmless I knew her husband must be much away for he does feed many cattle and his crops must he attended to in season. I then did say she must have the company of her sister Mary an gay and fearless lass but she did say Mary must remain at school and did entreat me not to call her home. When we did leave instead of going on the homeward way I did insist on William taking me some three miles beyond to Betsy's home and I did tell her of the bolted door and the drawn blinds and she rose right up from her chair with her bright eyes snapping and say she would attend to this ere the next sun did set and she said she would speak most plainly to her son.
The lass I know is lonely for there was ever folk about her when she did abide in our home and the stage road did go by also and there were many moving to and fro along the road. This night I pray to the Father for the lass to see the way to walk with courage and to fear not for He will guide and protect her.
Daughter Jane this day invited guests for tea drinking. I did go into the parlor room and listened to their chat whilst Jane did prepare the tea.
Mistress T. did tell of the riot in the village street an sennight past. Most of the good folk were abed when there was such an
99din and guns did pop and horsemen did ride this way and that. Torches did gleam before the tavern and there was much cursing in loud voices. Her husband scantily clad did cease his gun and rush away and she rose up and bolted the door after him and did stand shivering in her bed-gown peering through the shutters. Fearful for his safety she slipped her mantle on over her bed-gown to rush out and follow after him when she did think of the sleeping children and did await his returning sorely afrighted.
The husband did return at last when the din was o'er and did tell how an abolitionist had come to the tavern for an night's lodging and he had scarce closed his eyes in sleep when two men did enter and command him to don his clothes and come with them and point out the spot where he did hide the black folk but he did stoutly declare he knew naught of the black runaways. One of these men did curse him and did seize his whip and did threaten him with fifteen lashes and then both laid hold on him and did drag him away to their wagon. The traveler did attempt to break away and called loudly to the folk remaining at the bar within the tavern and these did rush to his assistance armed with mugs and flasks and what they could catch up. The man with the whip did hastily drop it and snatch out his pistols and did begin to shoot. Such an din as did start then for most every man in the village by that time had reached the spot and did add their threats and protests to the clamor. One brave man did lay hold upon the traveler and thrust him from the wagon. The man with the pistols did shoot his way out of the crowd and bid his comrade lash the team and he did threaten in
100an loud and angry voice to return and set fire the village.
Mistress H. did tell of Mistress Polly R. an gay young widow of the village and how she did trig herself out in silk and gold when her husband had been but six months dead and how she did invite the gay lads of the village to her home and did feast them and did go capering and dancing in the tavern with then. Mistress Polly did attend the great camp meeting in Barton's grove with an handsome lad and she did get all wrought up in spirit and she did wail and moan and did get the jerks and did cast her fine bonnet with her golden brooch and bracelets at the feet of good Deacon B. who did stand praying with his eyes up-turned to the sky. Now she will wed the deacon who did save her soul and will wash and bake scrub for the good man and his six sons. Strange are the ways of the Lord.
Soon did Jane fetch the tea and did serve it from mine fine bridal silver and she did have muffins and strawberry tarts and served after the English manner. Much store does Jane set by the English although she was but an young lass when we did leave our home in the Old World.
Now these tea-drinking ladies were bedecked in silk and gay head-dress. Mistress H. being young was dighted out in bright blue. Four wide ruffles did she have stitched upon her skirt and they were pinked on the edge and the skirt was distended over hoops quite wide. Cut low was her bodice and her stays were very tight. She did carry on her wrist an fancy reticule agleam with beads stitched in an gay pattern. When she lay aside her fine bonnet she
101doned an head-dress of ribbands and pink roses scattered here mid there.
Mistress T. was all decked out in her lute-string gown of rich green silk. An sweet dress with an fall of rich lace and she did wear gold bracelets all and wrought and she did wear an fine gold brooch also. No head-dress did she wear but had her bright hair arranged upon her head in puffs and rolls and curls did droop adown upon her soft white neck.
Mistress W. did sit beside me where I did rest most comfortable in mine elbow chair. Of poplin was this ladies dress with wee bit pink roses scattered on the gray of it. She did have rings of gold and coral in her ears and an brooch of the same at her throat to hold the lace in place.
Other ladies came also and our good friend and neighbor Mistress G. came stepping across the fields and over the wide stile with her silken skirts pinned high and her fine shoes in the willow basket she carried on her arm. Of England is Mistress G. — an lady of lofty learning.
Tea-drinkings are much the fashion but for mineself I like best the quilting-bees where good friends meet in their lawn caps and neat print gowns and pass the time in stitchery. Some make an play party and bid the men folk come when the chores are done and then all frolic until the hour grows late.
Isaac mine eldest grandson comes from William's home to pass many days with us and oft he does go to Johnathan's home to remain
102an short while. Now Johnathan's wife does hare an sister visiting oft within their home and although Johnathan says naught of it I believe this lass is the reason of mine grandsons frequent visits for she is indeed comely and most pleasing in manner.
Just an few weeks agone we did learn how Jane our dear dead Mary's daughter did slip slyly away and wed with her cousin Abram. I was much vexed for Jane is but sixteen years; She is an restless lass and I do think she did feel she did have no home save one she might make for herself being both fatherless and motherless. Cousins of the first degree oft wed in England but it is not the custom hereabout.
Indeed when mine grandchildren do wed I do feel the end of mine alloted time draws near for three score years and nine mine years do number. I am no longer light of foot and move about with difficulty for mine knees are all stiffened up with rheumatiz. For the most part I do remain safe within mine home although son Paul has made purchase of an fine carriage and I could ride abroad with ease if I did but wish it. Most kind are mine sons and mine daughters also and they do much to pleasure me and I have kind friends who oft come and pass some time with me.
An strange season this has been. January was as mild as May and then there was April all adrip when folk did wade about and did gaze upon the somber sky and did complain such weather must be. There came the first week in June an killing frost for both wheat and corn and
103did render the fruits of the season worthless also. To the chagrin of all there appear early the morn of the fourth of July an frost and to our astonishment there was an frost in August and this is oft the warmest month in the whole year in this Illinois state. September with an early frost did bring this strange season to an end.
There is ranch illness hereabout. Agues and fevers oft abound in such an season. Paul did say when he did stop an bit at Grandson Isaac's home (for the lad Isaac did wed last autumn and lives only an few miles away) he did learn how mine grandaughter Olive was ill of an fever. I am much perturbed and did insist on Paul straight way riding over the prairie to her home and I do wait the tidings impatiently.
An year has passed away and slowly for I have lain upon mine bed these weary months. I was stricken the evening Paul did return with the sad tidings of Olive's death. I think mine old heart did break. There were days when I knew naught and there were days filled with bewilderment and days fraught with pain. Now it seems I have come to the days of peace and of waiting for the final journey through heaven's gate to join those who have gone on before. Like ships on the sea are we. Mine course has not always been through calm waters and black clouds of sorrow have gathered above me and oft I did hear the breakers booming but now mine cruising is most o'er.
It is early June and the air is filled with the sweetness of roses bringing to mine heart comfort and peace and memories from the land of mine youth. One by one the closed doors of mine mind do swing open and I do glimpse again the faraway years. Gay and light of foot I wander into the goodly rooms and along the dim corridors and up the winding stair.
Mine good father was an merchant-seaman. An able man he was and kindly. He did have much to do in trade and commerce and he did go hither and yon and made considerable monies from his trading. Oft on the voyages on the seas mine mother did accompany him and did take us as babes with them and the nurse Debbie. Once an strange illness seized many of the seamen and mine mother did sicken of it and the babe Robin also and they died and were buried one morn at sea. Sore-stricken mine father did turn about and hasten to port and journeyed adown to his sister's home in Sussex to intrust me to her care. There I dwelled in peace and joy with mine good aunt and sweet cousins until mine father deemed it needful for me to know the lofty ways of learning and he arrived suddenly and did bear me away ere an sennight had passed to the home he had recently purchased.
Built of stone was this house and high up looking over the sea. It seems mine father must always be in sight of the sea. He wandered day after day up and down the cobbled streets or was up in old Jem's look-out or down on the quay. Old seamen did oft sit by our fires and smoke their pipes and tell great tales of the sea. Oft mine father fetched home with him officers from the trading vessels
105anchored for a bit in the harbor. These were strongmen and fearless and mine father would chaffer with them for hours for the choice wear of their cargo. Then he would come and go making preparation for his journey. The great bales he did mount upon pack horses and he did rope them to hold these precious wares secure and tight and he then mounted his fine saddle mare and away she did go at the head of the pack train to lead them into the distant inland cities. Each morn I did pray for his safety and at eventide also. Many perils beset the way and there were robbers who did lurk about to seize the treasures of silk and gold ornaments and the like.
Never was I allowed to go on these journeys but remained at home to con mine books to learn the trays of reading and writing taught to me by Mistress Eve of the Rectory. Many things did she teach me of the ways and me in of the gentle folk for she knew I had no mother to teach me these ways but did live with mine father and the maid-servants.
Just once did I go on a trip as an child and that was to the Manor House where mine Uncle John and Aunt Dorothea did abide. An vast lonely house and I could not abide the place. Wide were the windows and lofty where I did gaze at the red of the setting sun on the wide and desolate moor. At eventide an gray mist did rise creeping up over the village and over the high wall even to mine casement touching with an damp chill mine face and mine fingers. Torch-lights gleamed in the base court and I did hear Dame Margaret on the stair and her light knock on the door did go below to the wide hall where mine Aunt Dorothea did wait and where the long
106table board was spread. Always there were quests about. Gentlemen and ladies of quality and leisure they all were for mine mother's brother did as the oldest son heir the Manor House. Very stiff and very straight did I sit in an high-backed chair and I was most uncomfortable and unhappy until I did sniff the hot mutton pasty. Strange for he to say but the pasty and mine silent Uncle John were the only loved things at the Manor.
Proud and cold was nine Aunt Dorothea and she had no affection even for her sons but did haste them away to be schooled and tutored. Now Charles is an barrister in London and Edward is an officer in the Guards whilst George rules at the Manor and Aunt Dorothea is now laid to rest in the tomb beside her silent husband.
Not long did I remain at the Manor for I did most die of loneliness and did weep and watch from the high tower for mine father. I think mine father did know this for he did return quickly from London town and did take me to our home.
Dear are the memories of mine old home in England. Happy indeed was mine childhood in the broad stone house under the giant trees. Bright was the red tiled roof and wide the latticed windows. Lovely grew the roses and creepers clothing the gray stone walls. Wide stretched the smooth lawn dotted with oak and cedar. Sweet and lovely the sun on the terrace over-grown with daises and poppies and roses.
Ten was oft served in the rose-arbor or when the winter chill did come it was served in the hall with the tea-table gleaming before the great hearth where the fire burned casting an red glow on
107the old oaken panels and the ancient rafters and did lay weird shadows along the upper gallery.
Quaint and very old seemed the vast kitchen. Paved with smooth stones and above was the heavy-timbered ceiling blackened with an century of hearth fires. Here I learned the ways of brewing and of baking and did pass many happy hours with old Sara. Pleasant was the view from the casement windows adown the slope to the wee lak-let gleaming in the morning sun. Beyond was the village common with blossoming gorse and broom. Around about the purple hills guarded the valley from the bleak east winds and sheltered the village and harbor. An fine sight to see was the path to the village with the gnarled oaks and hedge-rows of blossoming hawthorn sloping adown the flower-starred hillside.
So dear to mine heart was the wee Gothic church near the common where I first knew mine Heavenly Father. Fain would I again enter the old lytch gate and walk through the elm-guared churchyard passing the moss-covered tombs and enter into the church-house. Small indeed with an high vaulted roof and walls of old hammered stone. Ay-small but God walked within! Very handsome did I think was the carved oaken screen dividing the chancel from the nave and many times when an lass did I entwine it with ivy and Christmas greens. Eastertide we did fetch daffodils and primroses and violets and did make God's house sweet and lovely. In the harvest time we did place great golden sheaves and fine fruits of the season before the altar and bright sunflowers lightened up the dim corners and rudy vines were entwined about the stone pillars. Sweetest of all was mine bridal day in the
108dim old church made fragrant with greet sheaves of lilies and roses.
Such an roomy old house was the Rectory. All the folk both old and young did love it with the wide hall lined high with many book-shelves and the great seat stretched full length of the vast hearth. Fine tales of chivalry and romance did the gray-haired rector tell and he did know much of the faraway places. On rainy afternoons right willing prisoners were we listening to his pleasant voice whilst the gray rain poured without and the fire burned cosy and bright within. Wide benches were on the lawn when the summer did come and the gentry did come to tea. Lasses of the village passed the tea and plum cake and there was chatter and laughter there until the shadows grew long on the grass.
Winding and narrow was the path from our house to the village. An pleasant bypath along the shady hedge-rows and across the stones in the streamlet where close by stood the old stone mill with an great wheel and adown into the lush vale where huddled the thatched cottages with drifts of blue smoke rising upward form their chimneys. Beyond rose wooded hills and dim and distant the desolate moors.
Swiftly sped the years until I was an lass of sixteen summers full grown with brown curls and fresh color. The very day I was sixteen Aunt Dorothea did come from the Manor fetching an fine saddle mare as an present from mine Uncle John. An rare and pleasing gift for oft did I crave to ride along the shady lanes with mine sweet friend Janette the worthy squire's daughter. Very sweet was I to mine Aunt Dorothea sweet was I Just as Mistress Eve would have me
109be to all I did meet. Very sweet was I although I did not wish to be even when she did insist upon my returning to the Manor house and pass the season there with youths and maidens such as did befit as companions of an rich merchant's daughter. Crude she thought our simple village and named the folk dwelling therein — yokels. An simple lass she did say of dear Janette and laughed scornfully when I did speak in behalf of mine friends of the squirarchy and as for the son he was only fit to follow the plough-tail though he was handsome enough he did have the mien of the hinds in the field. I did rise right up in anger but mine father did reply to Aunt Dorothea in an manner mild and bland how he had known the Squire of Crestwold many years and in his household there was naught of envy or another base qualities and he did endeavor to give his fine son and daughter an gentle and godly upbringing and he did look with much favor upon the Squire's household.
"Tilly-vally!" exclaimed mine Aunt and departed in an high dugeon. Mine father did mutter how if she had been a man they might have come to fist-cuffs and did go to smoke his pipe in the rose-arbor.
I needs must show mine dainty mare to Janette. Such an fine day to ride I did think with the glad sun and the brisky breezes as I did follow the path adown to the streamlet and canter up the lane to Crestwold. Janette did lean from the casement to greet me with gladsome mien and I did bid the stable-boy to fetch her horse from the stone stables and it was full five miles we did ride ere we did return to the village. I did entreat her to ride
110with me adown the cobbled way to the sea-wall to see the tide come in bearing the fishing boats on the glistening waters. We did see an trading vessel also in the sunlit harbor and whilst we did watch an row-boat did ride away from it into the golden path of the sun. We did watch the boat until it did grate on the pebbly beach and an stalwart form did leap out and he did glance upward to the wall. How blue his eyes were! He did turn then quickly and go up the path leading to the inn.
For two days an chill rain did fall and we did have an fire upon the hearth and I did stitch and serve tea to mine father in gleam of it. Up and down the hall mine father wandered and did oft mutter that such weather must be.
"Hark!" suddenly spoke up mine father. "Horse-hoofs!" and did open the window and peer through the rain into the base-court. In an loud voice he did shout for old Jerry to come and fetch away the nags and he did rush out and return with two gentlemen with their sea-coats all adrip and did stand them to dry before the hearth fire. Both these gentlemen upon seeing me did stand away and make low obeisance and I did drop them mine best curtsy and made haste to mix up an hot toddy so they might suffer no chill. Whilst they did sip the warm liquor I did gaze slyly at them. I deemed the elder man sturdy and handsome for broad of shoulder was he and he did wear an great beard and his face was tanned like unto the tan covers of mine copy of the Holy Scriptures. The lad at the Captain's side was tall and silent. There were buttons of burnished brass on his coat and his hair was thick and bronze
111braided in an short queue after the manner of sea-faring men.
Mine father did present me quite proudly to these gentlemen and the Captain did bow low again and did kiss mine hand and the lad did also and I did see how blue the lad's eyes were — as bright and shining as gems and knew it was the lad from the trading vessel who Janette and mineself had seen on the sunlit beach and moreover he did tell of sailing into the harbor and putting off ere the vessel had scarce anchored. They did wait in the harbor for couriers sent to an inland city.
The Captain did state he had up in the vessel an cargo of considerable value in silks and gems and he did have hampers of figs and dried up fruits from China and India. Rare wines did he say were fetched from Hispania and he had learned mine father was an merchant of repute he had hither come to chaffer with him.
Mine father did gaze at the proponet and twiddled his fingers on his elbow chair and seemed all lost in thought. Now mine father had in the past owned two trading vessels and had made considerable monies in sailing the wide seas and trading in foreign ports but when he had become an merchant he had lost monies whilst learning wares most vendible for much need must go by pack train and there were many perils to be reckoned on. The soft wares he did say he might purchase for he did have an cousin in Leeds who was an draper but what of the fine wines and the spices and fruits he did ask for indeed he did not wish to risk these on an inland journey of length. The Captain did quiddle a bit and then bid mine father to come aboard the Sea Gull and see if the soft wares did please him.
When dayspring did come the storm clouds had passed away and the morn was all fresh and sweet so I did entreat mine father to so with him aboard the Sea Gull but he did say me nay for he did think it seemly and I much chagrined did neglect mine duties and did hie mineself to the rose arbor and did snip off an score of blossoms and I did meet up with the pussy cat and did pelt her with them and she did go scrambling up the hedge. I did hear an shout of laughter behind me and there on the terrace was the sailor lad. I did blush rosy red and did cast adown mine eyes but not before I did see he was just an lad and gay. He did hand adown the pussycat from her high perch and we did go to the grotto and fetch cream to soothe her feelings. All the morn we did loiter in the garden amid the flowers whilst the lad told tales of the foreign shores to which he had sailed and he did say it was his great desire to sail his own ship and his father had promise this if he did prove himself an able navigator.
Anon I did seize upon an pretext of an errand to the Rectory for I did wish Mistress Eve to cast her eyes upon the lad. I did prepare mine fancy basket with an pat of sweet butter and an glass dish of fresh berries and an roll of cheese and then did go and linger at the Rectory until tea-time. I knew the lad would depart soon and sure enough when we reached the common mine father did hail him and say the boat from the Gull did await upon the beach and he did bear me away even before the lad could say farewell.
Father had need to stop with the chandler and whilst there he made purchase of those things needed for the household whilst
113he was away and had them made up into an bale for old Jerry to fetch up the hill to our home in his old creaking cart. Father did tell the chandler he would sail with the tide in the morning and bade him farewell he turned to me and told me I must be his good lass and remain at home and we would go to the rectory and fetch Mistress Eve to keep me company whilst he did go on this journey with the Captain. He did say he would fetch lengths of silk from the ship and I could call on the seamstress to make the gowns and also I could present Mistress Eve with lengths of silk if it would pleasure me. He did make promise to fetch me an mantle from the city and an fine bonnet also. I did then weep and entreat him that I might go upon the journey but he did sternly bid me remain safe within our home.
(Most weary is mine hand with this writing and it does tremble and shake — an old hand weak and withered but the same hand kissed by mine lover and praised for smoothness and whiteness.)
Astounded was I when I did see the sailor lad the next morn teasing the wee kittens tumbling about on the terrace for had I not watched with mine own eyes the Sea Gull sail out of the harbor. He did flush when I did ask him wherefore and anon went down to the village and I did not see him until the Lord's Day when I did glimpse him in the pew with my Mistress Eve. I gazed straight before me and deigned not another glance and when the service was ended I made haste to be away and did sweetly refuse Janette and even the Squire himself when they bid me pass the day at their home at
114Crestwood fearing I would be lonely this day with mine father away and Mistress Eve at the Rectory. I did say how I had promised old Sara to read to her from the holy Scriptures and I did hide mineself away ere Benjamin son of the Squire did think to escort me as he oft does being mine best friend save his sister Janette.
Oft did I see the sailor lad after. Once when I passed the Inn to fetch to the seamstress mine lengths of silk mine dear father had given me and again I did see him on the quay listening to the yarns of the fishermen and then I beheld him holding the skein of wool for Mistress Eve to wind when I did return from an brisk canter over the downs with mine good friends Janette and Benjamin. Mistress Eve did lay aside her wool and did go bid old Sara to fetch in the tea — fine new tea from the Captain's ship and we did drink the tea and eat up every crumb of the sweet meats. Benjamin did ask the sailor lad wherefore he did remain and the lad did smile an bit with his blue eyes twinkling and he did say the ship just sailed away without him. Janette did gaze at him as if she did think he was dim of wit but I did notice how oft she did come all digted out in her bright frocks and did gaze ever adown the path leading to the village.
Swiftly did the summer days speed by. Oft did the sailor lad ride out to the squirarcy at Crestwold and oft did he come to our home and chat with Mistress Eve and tease the pussy-cats. Loudly he would shout to old Sara and she would shout at him also. He did follow me about and gaze upon me much as he would gaze upon an unchartered sea. Oft finding his gaze upon me I did think mine
115curls must be awry or mayhap some of mine petticoats did daggle-tail.
Whole days this lad would stay away. Whole days he would pass in old Jem's Lookout gazing over the sea. Oft he did go at half tide to the lagoons and he did learn the trick of beating the water with an great stick called an basher and was as proud of the catch as the fishermen. He did wander about the village until all the small folk and even the good wives did know him.
One bright morn I did see the Sea Gull riding at anchor in the harbor and small boats cast off and were coming in rights swiftly towards the quay. Away I did rush adown the hill to meet mine father and right there on the quay mine father did swing me high up though I am most as tall as he and he did kiss me twice. Loudly he did call to the seamen to fetch the chest from the boat and arm in arm we did go up the path and oft he would pat mine shoulder or tweek mine curls. Sweet was it indeed to have him at home and I did follow him about where he did go.
He did make haste to open up the chest and did bid me spread out the treasures whilst he did fetch in Mistress Eve to see the gorgeous array. Laces and silks there were and gems set in gold and silver all wrought and gleaming. Neither did mine father forget the fine mantle and I did straightway don it though it was of velvet stuff and the day quite warm. An sweet rich mantle reaching from the tip of mine chin to mine heels and I needs must go into the withdrawing-room to gaze upon mine image in the vast mirror there. Mine father did come along also and did kiss me and
116tell me I was no longer his dear lass but was an fine lady. I did quickly cast aside the mantle and did rush into his arms and did weep an bit. He did say it was but an jest and had said the words hoping to pleasure me.
He did take me on his knee and did comfort me and bid me dry mine tears for he did have important news and he did wish an fine feast prepared on the morrow for the Sea Gull would go out with the tide. Away we did go to old Sara father first then Mistress Eve and me following after and we all did shout out to Sara for an vast feast on the morrow and she did shout to us of fresh meats and vegetables and of pies and tarts and the like and she did shout to Mistress Eve to fetch the Rector to offer up thanks for the safe journey.
On the morrow there was so much ado and so many din I could scarce think and was becoming bewildered when the lad William son of the Captain did entreat me to go along with him adown to the Squire's home to bid them farewell. Glad was I to be away from the clamor and he did go away to fetch the horses and we were then soon on the path adown the hill and did go clattering over the old stone bridge in silence but when we reach the lane he did lay hands on mine reins and did halt me. What he asked was the Squire's son to me. I did tell him gravely he was mine good friend and the lad's eyes did twinkle and he did say that was more than he was. Quite an bit angry I did jerk the reins from his grasp and urged mine mare on into the lane. Quickly he did ride and overtake me and reaching out did most swing me from mine saddle into his arms and he did ask
117which I wished him to be an friend or mine lover. Quietly I did bid him loose me. Too well did I know the homes where the men go adown to the sea in ships. Too much did I know of the dark hours of uncertainty and the patient watching and waiting and much indeed of the desolate homes and the tears of the widows and the fatherless.
In silence we did ride to the Squire's home at the end of the lane and there he did bid his friends farewell and bestowed upon them an parting gift. Silently we rode home again and did dismount and go into the hall again to find our guests had departed. In vain did he entreat me to wed him and I steadfastly refused knowing too well the sacrifice and the affairs stood betwixt us when mine dear father did return from the quay whence he had gone with his departing guests. Boldly William did ask mine father's permission to wed me but mine father would say naught of it and did tell the lad his father the Captain did await him.
Sadly the lad did gaze into mine eyes and did raise up mine hand and did bow over it but he did not kiss mine fingers as he had oft done in farewell. He did bid mine father farewell and did stride rapidly away not one looking back. Going he was out of mine sight and out of mine life! The gay lad — how blue his eyes were!
Ere I did know it I was away adown the flagged walk and did speed adown the hill. Just as he did reach the bright streamlet he did pause and glance back and stand astounded on the first broad stone and did stretch wide his arms and did cry out to me. What he did say matters not. How long we did stand by the streamlet I know not but anon the Captain came in search of his son and did espy us
118there and did give an loud shout and did embrace us with fervor and departed with speed to mine father who sat smoking his pipe in the base court.
The sailing of the Sea Gull was delayed until the plans were made for our wedding come springtide. Busy and happy was I during the long winter with mine stitchery and many hours did I spend in the vast kitchen with old Sara.
Spring came at last with the sap running up in the trees and the sweet fragrance of early blossoms. Many morns did I gaze from mine casement pattering across the floor clad in mine bed gown but I never did espy the tall masts of the Gull although we do have an view of the harbor from our house on the hill side. Oft I did make mine morning prayers at the casement instead of kneeling at the side of mine bed as had been mine custom from childhood.
June time was but an sennight away and mine bridal time also. One morn mine father did say on rising from the table board he did think he would go to the village inn to learn if ought had been heard of the Gull and I bid him await an bit as I did wish to go with him as far as the Rectory and I needs must change mine gown. I did haste away to don mine sweet pink muslin which did vastly become and there was never an rimple in it did fit so smoothly. I did delay for an final glimpse in mine mirror and I did hear mine father shout and thwack someone and I did speed to the spot whence the sound did come and there was mine lover the lad William quite breathless from running all the way from the quay.
Sweet was the tune morn when I in bridal white did enter the old lytch gate and bright the sun shone through the stained glass windows. Sweet were the great sheaves of lilies and roses — I n'er catch the scent of them but I think of it. Straight and tall stood mine lover awaiting and very proud was I of mine sailor lad for no lad in the crowded church could compare with him even mine father was not so handsome standing beside me betwixt smiles and tears. Even the sons from the manors houses could not compare with him for manliness.
Strange indeed was mine bridal journey on board the great ship the Sea Gull and it did last most an twelfth month. Another ship purchased by mine father and the Captain in equal portion did sail with the Gull as convoy for the high seas and foreign ports were infested with robbers and pirates awaiting to plunder the trading vessels.
Strange sights did I see. Great high mountains did awe me and I did tread on the glistening sands of the southern ports and I did see great cities where many folk were all time moving about. Strange folk did I see. Some were as black as pitch and others were tawny. There were yellow folk with their eyes askew and they were dressed in skirts after the fashion of women and these men did wear round caps on their heads and adown their backs did their hair swing braided into an quque. Strange and oft lonely were the days on the sea and at night the moon did rise right up out of the sea to go high up and bright in the heavens. Betimes great black clouds did arise and blot out the sun or the
120moon and the great ship would roll and pitch in the high waves and I would run straight to William's arms for much did I fear the storms at sea.
One eventide us we did watch the red sun set behind the palm trees across the harbor I did tell William I needs must be in mine home in September and he did comfort me saying we would set sail for England and we would go to mine home and remain there as long as I did wish.
Sweet it was to be in mine home and pleasant and ere September had passed mine first son was in mine eager arms and I did name the babe for his father. Winter came on and we passed long pleasant hours by the broad hearth but when spring came mine dear husband grew restless and wished to join his father in an trip around the Horn. Loath was I to bid him farewell but mine father did remain with me and Mistress Eve came from the Rectory and did aid me passing the lonely hours teaching me the best way of caring for the new babe.
So the months and the years passed and William and mine dear father did come and go and did remain an while. Oft I did go if the journey was short but I did fear the sea and did find no pleasure in it save the pleasure of being with mine husband. Indeed I did find three small children did require much care and that the gray stone in the harbor was the best.
Lonely is the life of an seaman's wife be she the captain's wife in or with the fisherman's wife in homespun. Ever their eyes are turned toward the sea watching and waiting and praying. Lonely was I
121though I did have many guest in mine home and there was ever the prattle of the wee ones. Oft mine father did remain at home to cheer me and did tease and romp with the children and I loved him for his kindness. Trade was slow and mine husband was much away from home for his father did leave him with the two trading vessels.
Most eager was I for mine husband's return for an new babe did sleep in the old cradle brought adown from the Manor House by mine good Uncle John. Very proud of his babes was mine husband most tender and loving he was to us all. Always he did remain mine lover though we had been wed an half score years. Oft did he give me an promise to come from the sea and live as gentle folk did but well I did know the sea would ever call him. I did make an jest of it and did say he was the ship's husband and mine no longer.
Ever will I see the messenger speeding under the dripping trees and hear his sharp rap on the great door. Keen and sharp the memory of the bitterness and the loneliness — days weeks months and years of it. Old Sara was laid to rest in the churchyard. Mine dear father did abide with me five of the desolate years and he too was laid to rest.
Lonely indeed was the home and I did live but for the sake of mine children. Oft did mine old friends come from Crestwold. Benjamin was now the Squire and Janette and her husband did make their home with him for Benjamin's wife did die in childbirth when they were but two years wed and the Squire had become an lonely and silent man. Oft and more oft did Benjamin came and he
122did entreat me to take pity on his lonely state and wed him though be did know I did still grieve in mine heart for mine husband lost at sea. Much did mine lads need an father's care and I did at last consent. I did learn as the years passed to love and to esteem him and he did make an excellent father to mine lads and daughter Mary. Other children came into our home until they did number nine and the Squire did say he was no longer lonely at Crestwold.
Very busy and happy were we and ere I did realize I found mine lads had grown whilst I was busy with the babes from mere striplings to young manhood and were becoming restless. Much had they heard of the rich lands over the sea and they did entreat me to write to mine kinsmen already in the New World to learn more of these lands. I did write to stop their chatter and did after quite some time receive an missive all tattered with much handling. Cousins Hosea and Marymum did write of the great valley of the Mississippi telling of the richness of the prairie soil and of the heavy timberlands and they did entreat us to come across the sea to make an home in this rich new country for even though crude at present there would be much opportunity for the lads in commerce and trade anon. They did tell of living in an cabin made of the trunks of trees instead of brick or stone but soon would have monies to build an fine stone house for the prairie did produce abundantly.
We did meditate and did pray over it for we did wish to raise up our family industrious and God fearing and it did takes quite
boat which was under construction for we did make further journey by the way of rivers to the trading post. He did offer an goodly sum to speed the work for he did grow anxious to be on the way as the season for traveling was advanced and he knew naught of the winter season in the New World. Benjamin did quest about to find boatmen and he did make purchase of an ox team and two saddle horses also.
Two of the great chests we needs must leave in storage at the tavern and an small one also that we might fetch along the dresser and the chest of drawers in the boat. We did go by day adown an river named the Ohio and when nightime did approach the boat men endeavored to reach an trading post or an village where the boat was tied at the wharf for the rivers were infested with cruel robbers and this made night travel perilous
Strange indeed was the journey and most wearisome and we did have but one mishap and that was of small consequence. One of the young lads did lean too far from the upper deck to gaze at the sweep of the great oar and he did topple into the river but Isaac was at hand and he did drop into the river along side of the lad and did seize him by his waistbands and did fetch him all dripping and sobbing to mine arm.
At last I have again written the pages of mine journal I did lose in the great chest left in storage in the tavern on the banks of the Erie. Many happenings I have failed to make mention of mayhap but mine old mind is weary and mine hands tremble so it is with difficulty I have written but daughter Jane did wish it and it