This story was begun Sept. 22, 1914, without preface or foreword
and at the suggestion of a friend, written wholly from memory, not having
any data for the same. It is the intention to have it conform strictly
to facts (some dates may be incorrect).
The spring of 1852 was an early spring in Illinois, and on the 24th of May of that year, with the full consent of all the friends, and in the presence of all the guests (aunts by courtesy and not kindred), Aunt Mary Jane Granger and Aunt Letta Pendarvis, I opened my eyes on as beautiful a scene as could be imagined. The earth was covered with a beautiful carpet of green and decorated with lovely wild flowers. The fruit trees were laden with blossoms betokening a bountiful crop of fruit. The birds were collecting material for nests, and everything seemed intoxicated with joy. As the jay bird worked, his song seemed to be composed of one word: “Welcome.” I understood it to be intended for me. The robin redbreast’s song was happy, happy all day long.
As all things were to my liking, I decided to stay, and after consultation, it was agreed I would be useful on the farm, as I was a sturdy little fellow. My weight I never knew, but I remember when measured by a hamstring belonging to old Rock’s harness, I was 2½ inches longer than the string. It was determined, as I looked very much like my father, that my name should be the same, George Washington . But my older sisters nicknamed me “Puddie,” which name I retained for many years.
My Father and Mother had come from North Carolina in 1837, making the trip in a one-horse wagon, with all their belongings loaded in the same, occupying about a month’s time in the journey. Our nearest neighbors were the William Grangers, whose children we often played with, as we were about the same age. Their names were David, Lettia, and Mary, and there were several younger ones. Mary was a dear little girl and a cripple.
When I was three years old, in the year 1855, Father purchased a farm in Hancock County, ten miles west from our home, in Schuyler. Because the new farm was unimproved, it was necessary to do much improving in order for us to move in the Spring of 1856. While we were still living in Schuyler County, we owned a flock of sheep, and as often happened, a pet lamb was raised which developed into a butting sheep. One day, while we were playing on the lawn with the Granger children, Lettia got our little arm chair and wherever she went, she would carry the chair with her. The sheep, taking this for a dare, made a few springs in the air, butting Lettia over.
Also on our old farm, we had what we designated as the upper field, a half-mile from the house. The sheep were often kept there, and they were often disturbed by wolves or dogs. One morning, Sister Anna was directed to go and see if all was well with the sheep. There were deer in the country, and many pet deer. When Anna arrived at the field, she found that the sheep were all right, but she noticed a strange animal with them, which really proved to be a pet deer. The deer, when it saw here, thought she meant a play or frolic and started toward her. Thinking the creature to be a wolf, Anna ran to the fence, climbed over and started for home, the deer following. Then she really became frightened and went toward home at high speed, and she always claimed that she outran the deer.
Our well was near the road-side, where grew some tall gooseberry bushes underneath, which was a nice place to hide. I well remember one day when the Granger children were visiting us, and it was time they should be going home, but hadn’t. Their mother was seen coming up the road, and it was suggested we hide under the gooseberry bushes, and so, fortunately, we escaped.
About this time Irena and Henrietta were being much admired by the young men. Father, in going to and from the old home, met many new acquaintances. He found our nearest neighbors at our new home would be the Van Brunts, and in that family were the boys Isaac and David. Isaac was married, but David was not. Now, you may risk some money. Father learned from the boys that they wanted to buy a young team. He informed them he had just the team they ought to have, nice chestnut sorrels. So it was arranged for them to come down a certain day and make the deal. The day they were to come we had chicken for dinner. Irena bantered Henrietta to pull the wish bone to see which would marry first. The one getting the shortest length when the bone broke, would be first. Irena had the short length. Then Henrietta offered to try and see who the lucky fellow should be. This test was to be done by placing the wish bone over the door, and the first young man coming under would be the one.
Now, our house had two front doors in the East and a side door on the South, so the bones were placed over the East doors in great glee and with full faith they would tell a true story. I well remember it was a cold, rainy day; and I was standing inside the window—just tall enough to get my chin on the window sill—when two gentlemen rode up to the gate. When they alighted, I thought they were the tallest men I had ever seen. (As I had seen some of the timbers in the new building being spliced, I concluded perhaps these men had been spliced.) After hitching their horses, they started direct for the front doors. But the girls, not liking the Van Brunts’ looks, got the bones down and placed them over the South door, where the boys turned about and came in under the bones—David directly beneath Irena’s. Two to one a sure thing, Isaac did not come in.
That spring, Father’s time was mostly taken at the new home, building a residence, barn and other shelter. Our family consisted of the following named children: Irena, eldest, a jolly, fun-loving but rather impetuous girl. Henrietta, who was the beauty of the family; tall, fair, and graceful, with a kind and loving disposition. Anna, who was the little mother of the family, and much like our mother, kind, patient and good. Harrison W. was a fine, large lad, industrious and diffident and, the old maids and widows said, bashful; but he out-grew that objection. Sister Mary was a very dear child, the most intellectual and with a strong resemblance to sister Henrietta; Mary was two years older than I, the runt and the youngest of the family.
Kind reader, I want to introduce you to old Rock, the old white horse which did so much for us children. In early days, the best market was Quincy, Ill. The farmers would collect their produce and a number of neighbors would get together and haul the goods to Quincy, buying their supplies and taking three days for the round trip, having regular stopping places.
Father was a good judge of horses. On one of these trips, he met a gentleman with a fine looking white horse in his team. Liking the looks of the white horse, Father offered to exchange, and the trade was made. He was a valuable animal and well named Rock. Often, after the day’s work, he would be allowed to graze on the lawn, while we children would play about his feet with no danger, as he was careful not to step on us. One time, when Father was working him, Rock was bitten by a rattlesnake, but he recovered.
In the spring of 1856, as we planned, we moved to the new home. The day was a blustery spring day, March 28th. The neighbors assisted by bringing teams and wagons and hauling loads. Uncle Billy Granger drove the team behind which I rode, with Mother and Sister Mary, and old Rock was one of the team. The wagon box was well bedded with straw, and Sister and I were made comfortable therein. We slept most of the way and were asleep when we arrived, but we were soon up and out to explore the new home. The wagons were backed up to the house and the unloading began. A large fireplace in the West end of the house soon had a roaring fire going. Stoves were then set up and fires going. Mother, always thoughtful of others, had provided for a good dinner, ham, eggs, biscuit and coffee. After dinner, beds were erected, as some of the men, on our invitation, had decided to remain all night and return home the next day. Finally, all were stowed away, but long after sleepy-time, peals of laughter would be heard. Next morning, there were many handshakes and invitations to come soon, and they all drove away and left us in our new home.
Father traded horses, but never so successfully as when he had traded for Rock. Once, he secured an undersized bay with a white face and a glass eyes—an old rascal that was always running away. The first winter [in our new home], one morning, when father came from the barn, he reported that Rock had died during the night. David came with two yoke of oxen and a great iron chain, and putting it around Rock’s neck, he dragged him away out on the prairie. It seemed cruel .
Well, do you remember the wishbone? Surely, you wouldn’t bet again. In a short time, David was a regular visitor at our home, and one fine day in June, 1858, a few friends came in. The minister came, too, and preached a little sermonette to David and Irena, and they told me my sister was married.
In this story, when mentioning my brother, Harrison W., I will call him H.W. The old maids said he was bashful. Well, he was afraid in the dark. I well remember when he called on Miss Bell Cooley, a very delightful young lady, and when he returned, we asked him how he enjoyed the evening. He replied, “Just fine, only the screech owls kept hooting all the time.” The orchard about surrounded the house; besides, he knew he would have to cross the Jim Frazier bridge, where the ghost camped. He said that when he was starting home, an owl began calling, “Who – Who?” Raising his hat he said, “Keep still, I’m going home.” But just as he came of the bridge, overhead on the limb of the tree, an owl screamed, “Who – Who?” He said, “Never mind; just remain seated, please. I’m going.” With these exceptions, he said, “I would like to go again, but I would like to go hunting in the orchard with a cannon for a few days first.” When told faint heart never won fair lady, he said he wasn’t scared at an elephant, but was bitten by a monkey once.
Sister Mary was the favorite in our family, and also in the community. I remember someone had given Mary and me each a kitten, black-and-white spotted, and very pretty. Mary named her kitten Tabby, and I called mine Malta. They were very playful and great for mice. On the public road, where the stream crosses the road, the crossing became very muddy. With Father and Mr. Rose as leaders, the neighbors decided to erect a bridge over the stream. The day the bridge was finished, Father invited all the workmen to our house to dinner, and the talk was mostly about the new bridge. Mary and I thought our kittens ought to see the new bridge, so we carried them there, and after a full explanation of how to cross the bridge and all the uses of same, we carried them home. In the summer of 1859, Mary was stricken with brain fever and after several weeks of suffering, she died at the age of nine years. Dear little sister! She had been my constant companion and playmate all my life.
Mother was very careful that we children should be kept clean. Especially on Sunday mornings, we must be scrubbed until we shone. To heat water for cooking and washing, we burned wood exclusively. Being limb wood, it made a large pile, with a passageway through where we children could make playhouses. One Sunday morning, I took a fool notion that it would be fun to hide out and escape my scrubbing, so I crawled under the woodpile and kept quiet. When I did not appear, they got uneasy and concluded I must be lost. The neighbors were called and the search began. There was a stream through the farm, and it was thought I must have fallen in the water. After searching awhile, Mary thought of our playhouse in the wood pile. She said to Irena that perhaps I had hidden there. They looked and found me, and the searchers were called in. When I saw them coming, I noticed Father was in the rear. I asked why. They said he had stopped to trim some water sprouts from an apple tree. I afterwards decided that sprouts should be removed when young and tender, and boys should take their washings when offered.
I was now old enough to attend the district country school—five years old. The schoolhouse was log, and the school was called Mt. Pleasant. Don’t know why. It was neither a Mount nor pleasant. It was situated in the timber, and James Frazier, a pure Scotchman was the teacher. There was a houseful of children. Some were grown. I remember Jim Green. Bill Wilson could catch snakes. One day, he caught a half-grown snake and put it in his pocket. At noon, when the scholars were quiet, he turned it loose on the floor. When it began to wriggle, the teacher and students stampeded for the door. Wilson caught it and put it in his pocket. The teacher said, “Jim, where did the abominable critter come from?”
Jim said, “I think it came up through a hole in the floor.” Order was restored, and the teacher drew another day’s salary.
My next teacher was George Clark. During his tenure, John Rose and Lon Combs each got a flogging every day. One day, the teacher was awakened. He said there were two boys who must get a whipping before school was dismissed, and as he had no switch, he called me up and gave me his knife with directions to get a good switch. The schoolhouse was surrounded by timber, with plenty of hazel brush, but the good switches had all been cut. I hunted for one, but found none suitable. Finally, I cut a butt. It was very crooked and dead, but I knew the teacher was anxious to get at his task. After much labor, I managed to sever the stick from its trunk and carried it to the master, who seemed pleased. Just then, Bill Simpson decided something was wrong. The teacher called his attention and then threw the stick at him, but it hit the desk and fell on the floor. Being so crooked, it wriggled like a snake. The pupils, remembering the other episode, prepared to stampede but were quieted. The boys were whipped and school was dismissed.
In those days, prizes were offered for getting the most “head-marks” in the spelling class; the entire class lined up to spell, one end being known as the head, the other as the foot, with the one at the head of the class in the evening getting the head-mark. I [had] always been a good speller for a little kid. I remember Amanda Mock, a young woman, perhaps twenty years old. She never could spell “shucks” or any other word. One evening, she was at the head of the class. I was down the line some distance. Amanda missed, as did all the others. When my turn came, I spelled correctly and was invited to go [to the] head, which I did, walking on air all the way. After we were dismissed, I was almost smothered with kisses from the big girls. When I reached home, I learned that Mother already knew of the success. She said I must have a cake all my own. She stirred it as usual but put in several ladles of love, the best ingredient of any. Mothers—remember this when making your child a cake.
By that time, a new school building was needed, and it was decided to build in a different place, where there were more hazel switches. Patrons volunteered to help, so the building wouldn’t cost so much. Several farmers with their teams hauled the lumber from Warsaw on the Mississippi River. The building was completed in time for the winter term of school, with Albert Dorcey as teacher. The new school house, after much discussion, was named Washington, a name it bears to this day, and when, some years after, a church was built near it, it also was christened Washington.
More about school. When the desks were in, the pupils were allowed to select their sittings. I selected a seat in the North tier third seat from the east and near the window, with Kate Avery as my seatmate. I had three girl friends in that school who were very dear to me—all about my age and in my classes. We made quite a quartet of friends. The girls were Ada Johnson, a daughter of Captain Johnson, a gentleman of education who took especial pride in his daughters. Therefore, Ada was farther advanced than the others of the quartette. She was about fifteen years old, pretty with black hair and black eyes, and rosy cheeks. One of the others, Caroline Center, was staying with her grandparents to attend school; she was a rather delicate child with red hair, blue eyes—a fine little girl.
The other was Sally Ford, a favorite of all. Sally had a long distance to walk to school. It was quite a hardship in severe weather, but she was a regular attendant. However, her brother James was good to assist her. After some time, Sally asked me if I would be willing to have her sit with me. I said yes, if the teacher was willing. She asked permission, and it was given—if we would behave and have good lessons. We promised; as we always had good lessons, that was easy. So Sally moved her books to my desk, and thus began some very pleasant school days that are a pleasure to remember yet. My last and best teacher was Thomas Brunton, a fine, courtly old gentleman. You older readers will remember the books we studied in those days were such as Sander’s Reader, Sander’s Speller and Ray’s Third Part Arithmetic
It is a pleasure yet to remember the old school days, but the scene has changed! We are now widely separated. Ada married James Ford and moved to California. Caroline went home when school closed. Sally afterward married George Strickler, a fine young man, and they moved to Nebraska. Mr. Strickler died there and Sally returned to Illinois to live near her old home. As to George W. (the author of this story), I live in Carthage, Missouri and am not done with school yet, if the Lord be willing.
About this time, Brother H. W. and I joined the Bethel Literary Society in the adjoining district, where we formed some delightful acquaintances, it being composed of pleasant, intelligent young people. While I have been shut in, I have thought with much pleasure of all the members of that society. Also about this time, a family by the name of Horton moved into our school district; they had a daughter named Polly, a beautiful girl. But there were far more serious matters than attractive young ladies on the minds of many young men, by now.
Mr. Calvin Johnson asked for volunteers to form a company to go to the war. The boys responded promptly, and soon, Co. K of the 119th Regiment of Illinois Volunteers was ready for service. David Van Brunt was one of the number. I was very solicitous of him, being so tall—a head higher than the other boys and marching at the head of the company. I thought surely he would get his head shot off. But he came home after three years with his head held as high as when he enlisted. He was six feet, six inches in the clear. David was a fine fellow and was always good to me.
Two or three years previous to this time, Sister Henrietta and Nathaniel Winfield were married, in May, 1863. Sister died, leaving a dear little baby girl, Henrietta, Jr. Mother took the child to raise, and she soon became a favorite of the family. I was always glad when I could take her for an outing in her baby carriage. But the next winter, she took sick with pneumonia and died in February. In 1865, Father was stricken with typhoid fever and lingered for thirteen weeks; he died January 6, 1866. At the same time, I was down with the same fever, but after seven weeks, I began to improve. I well remember learning to walk again. After I was strong enough to sit up, I was sitting on the bed and looking at a chair in front of me. I staggered across the room as pleased as a boy with red-top boots.
Father had said one day during the previous summer that while he was at George Graham’s, he had seen a nest of pretty puppies. If I would go get one and raise it, I could own the dog. Astride of the fat farm horse, I rode the two miles. The puppies were beauties, fat and sleek. I selected one—a maltese blue, with an intelligent head and smiling countenance that seemed to keep smiling with his blue eyes. When I reached home, father asked what I had named my dog, and I said Blue. And so it was all his life. He developed into a large, noble dog. I have known men who were not as much of a gentleman as Blue was. When other dogs came around our house, they had to behave. Blue never was whipped, but was not quarrelsome. He just never would allow another dog to cuss him; if he did, that dog had to take a whipping.
Mr. Royer had an old dog, Cuff—measly colored and ugly, no manner account. He would stay inside the yard and cuss along the road, but if the dog on the outside went after him, he would hide. The Royers lived along the roadside, and one day, as we were going to Augusta, Blue ran through the orchard and came out ahead of the team so as to be sure to go along. There had been considerable snow and the ground had been frozen, but it had thawed out the day previous. So it was very sloppy and disagreeable, the ground begin covered with mud and water. As we passed the Royers’, old Cuff began to swear. Old Blue, trotting behind the wagon, gave no notice to him. After awhile, the old Cuff came over the fence. Blue, watching his opportunity when Cuff was farthest from the fence, made a run for him, and as he aimed to jump the fence, Blue caught him by the neck and shook him much as he would a rat. Then rolled him in the mud and ice-water until his mother wouldn’t have known him.
Our neighbor, Wesley Thomas, whose farm adjoined ours, owned a big bull dog that used to cross the partition fence and cuss around a while, until Blue would whip him and send him home. Blue lived to be quite old and was a useful and respectable dog. After my recovery from typhoid fever, I saw Blue through the window, and he saw me. When I spoke to him, he jumped up and started for a race, as much as to say, “Come out, old fellow, let’s run a race.”
Old Blue was the finest dog that ever ran a race.
His ear so quick, his foot so fleet, and such an honest face.
My playmate he in every sport the moment I’d begin
Was always ready for a race, and always sure to win.
One of the active members of the Bethel literary society was Miss
Alice Stormer. It was hinted, when I was little that she was to be
my sweetheart. Alice was a bright girl, good company, interesting.
I had called on Alice a few times, intending to go again, but there was
her friend Mollie Beckwith. Alice said, “Mollie, I know a little
fellow whom you would like as a friend, and if you like, I’ll bring him
around.” Then she asked me if I would like to get acquainted with
Mollie. She said we would be nicely suited for each other.
“Well, what about you?” I asked.
“Well,” she said, “I am willing to give you up for Mollie’s sake.”
I said, “All right. If the halter suits, I’ll stand tied.” So then began our four years’ friendship. I visited her at least once a week for the four years. You may think this was Alice’s ruse to get rid of me, but she loved her friend as herself. Alice was soon stricken with tuberculosis, taken to California, and died there.
I well remember the last evening I called on Mollie B. While there, it snowed quite heavily. When we parted, we realized it was final, but we found parting was such sweet sorrow. If Mollie is still living, I feel she is my friend; if dead, she is in heaven with her friend, Alice.
About this time, my sister Anna and Allen Smith were married. They live in Plymouth, Illinois, now and have since their marriage. She, being the last except myself, left mother and me alone on the farm, where we lived some years very pleasantly. Mother made the winters at home as pleasant as the young folks did away from home. She had a mild, pleasant voice which will never be forgotten by her children. Mother was a member of the Christian Church in Augusta, Illinois, while I belonged to the United Brethren Church near home. I always liked to take Mother to church and sit with her, when comparing her with other women of my acquaintance. I thought her superior. She was a fine looking woman, and so kind and good.
In the early days, almost every farmer had a small herd of cattle. There were several thousand acres of land unfenced and fine grazing land. Said land afforded fine pasturage. Almost all herds were composed in part of some milch cows, one of which would be selected as the bell cow. She was expected to chaperon the herd and lead them to and from the prairies, then home about sunset for the milking. Our bell cow was Blossom, a black-and-white spotted cow without horns, a natural mooly. If the chaperon failed to arrive with the herd by sunset, a boy was sent after them on horseback.
One evening in November, after the weather had become quite wintry, the cows failed to come. Father told H.W. to saddle old Jim and go after the cows. It was a misty, dark evening when he rode away. The hired man remarked that it would be an easy thing to get lost on such a night on the prairie. After H. W. had ridden two or three hours and no cattle, he thought maybe he was lost, and after hearing the sound of someone chopping, he decided to find the person, which he did, but the man could give him no information, as he and his family were newcomers, as most of the people were. Again, H.W. started to try for home, but after two hours of riding, he came back to the same place. Then he decided he was lost. The gentleman said he guessed he better stay all night and try again in the daylight. At home, when it was realized he was lost, there was great anxiety. When it was noised around that there was a lost boy, the neighbors all turned out to search on horses, with dogs following and each searcher carrying a lantern. The prairie was combed, but no boy found.
In the night, some of the searchers came around by Uncle Jimmy Holt’s. The Holt boys usually owned a bunch of running horses. When the searchers called Uncle Jimmy out, he asked what the excitement was, and they informed him that Campbell’s boy was lost. He said, “Boys I’m going, but come in. I’ll play you a tune, first.” He took down the old fiddle he usually carried around, played a tune and said, “Boys, that was the ‘Lost Babes in the Woods.’ Suits the occasion, don’t it?” He added, “How does the Mother feel about the lost boy?” When told she was much grieved, he responded, “I’m with you boys. And when I come in, I’ll bring the boy.” Mounting a race horse, Uncle Jimmy joined the searchers, and sure enough, he was the first one to come to the home where H.W. was. When it was sure that H.W. was found, Uncle Jimmy sent some of the men to inform the people. Then he said, “Sonny, you stay by Uncle Jim and don’t let your horse lag.” H.W. and Uncle Jimmy rode back side by side.
I remember going upstairs and looking out the window next morning and seeing a company of men riding at breakneck speed across the prairie. I recognized Old Jim by his white face and glass eyes. Uncle Jim Holt brought the boy in and delivered the presentation speech. Uncle Jimmy hollered so loud when the boy was found he broke the ice on the small ponds by the wayside. Then it was realized that “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
In March 1872, Daniel D. Worman arrived from Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania with his family, having purchased the half-section of land adjoining our farm. There were seven children in the family. Among the number was a girl grown twenty years old. After a few days, I said to Mother, “I think I ought to call on our new neighbors.” I found them all at home and busy. The family consisted of the Father, D.D., the stepmother, as fine a woman as ever took a second place, and Lawrence, Elizabeth, John, George, Abraham, Mary and little Catherine. One daughter, born in 1873, is now Mrs. Ada Hamilton of Augusta, Illinois. All looked favorable.
Elizabeth was caught peeping through the keyhole. When informed it was very risky, she said, “Let it go. If the worst comes to the worst, I am ready to make the sacrifice.” As the summer passed, our acquaintance grew apace, or even faster. There was a celebration of the 4th of July in Augusta that summer. We had never been formally introduced, but on the 4th, Miss Royer introduced us, and while we were holding hands, she invited me to eat picnic dinner with them, which I accepted. I remember we had spring chicken, fresh pickled beets, fine bread and butter, cream pie. Charlie Van Brunt, when he saw the drift of things, left. Passing to the 15th of September, I made my first formal call, which I kept up steadily with increasing fervor until, with more, I proposed Jan. 1, 1873. I expected the answer to be slow, but it came sudden, and being a little light-headed already, it made my head swim.
The previous winter, in a series of meetings, I, with several others, made the “good choice.” Uncle Amos Worman was the pastor, and it was his duty as well as his privilege to baptize us, but he waived his right and invited the Elder Valentine to immerse us. The Elder said he was at a loss to know why, until the candidates were lined up—me, 200 pounds; Aunt Sara Shields, 200 pounds; and my sister Irena, 250 pounds. Then he understood. After Bishop Mills preached from the text “Christ is all and in all,” I joined the United Brethren Church, for which I have always been glad.
After our engagement, then the preparation time for our marriage, which we had thought to delay for some time. H. W. informed us he was intending to marry the coming Fall and for us to get married about the same time. So the time was agreed on as the 4th of November for H.W.’s, and the 6th for ourselves. November 6th was a very lovely Indian Summer day, and with the full consent of all the friends, and in answer to the questions propounded by Uncle John Stahl, we were solemnly married. In accordance with my Mother’s wishes, we lived some time on the farm.
About 1876, a very fine and noble old gentleman, Benjamin Gould, whom we had known for years, came to see Mother, and it soon became evident they meant business. I, as others, was willing for the match, as Mr. Gould was as fine a man as ever I knew. They were married in February of that year. They moved to his farm near Pulaski, where they lived happily for several years. Mother died September 7, 1883. The same fall, the wife and I decided to go West and secure a home; consequently, during November, we started out, looking for a location first in Missouri, then through Kansas and on to Nebraska.
We first went to Uncle Philip Horney’s in Case County, Missouri, visiting some time there. We went from there to H.W.’s in Barton County, Missouri. Barton County looked good, but we journeyed out into Kansas, about Wichita. Then we decided to see Nebraska. We arrived in Omaha on a Saturday evening and put up at the Cousins Hotel. Sunday morning, we attended the Catholic Church. The Cousins Hotel was first class—more style than we were accustomed to. The dining service was elegant, with individual tables and waiters. At the dinner hour, we were grouped with a gentleman and lady of good appearance. But I soon decided they didn’t know any more than we did, so I concluded to get my ideas from some others. The dinner was elegantly served. When we were through, the table was cleared, new service was spread, and beautiful wine-colored bowls containing liquid were provided. So I thought I would wait and learn. But Elizabeth, not so. With spoon, she dipped into the bowl; tasting, she said it was just water, and then we laughed.
I returned to Barton County in February, purchased 350 acres of land and began preparations to move the next spring. On March 12, 1884, I loaded two cars with stock and started for the new home, arriving on the 14th at Irwin, Missouri. I had engaged Fred Eccles, a neighbor boy, to stay with me for three months while building and making other improvements. Elizabeth remained with her family until I had the house and barn built. Irwin was a small place. There were depot, store, post office, blacksmith shop, hotel and a few small residences. J. O. McNew and family kept the hotel, and Fred and I boarded there. J. O. was a school teacher and a good fellow, in his way, but he wouldn’t get license as a good cook or housekeeper. The McNew children were Alice, Mary, Myrtle and Arthur, very fine children. I hurried preparations to have buildings complete so Elizabeth could come by the 24th of May. When I announced that all was ready, I received a letter that the wife would start, intending to be here by the 24th, and that her sister, Mary, would come along and remain a while. Grace Eells came along, too, to visit her sister in Lamar, Mrs. Dr. Drake.
I met them in Nevada, Missouri. The people about Irwin were very delightful and friendly. The most important family in Irwin at that time was the J. D. Strain family. Mr. Strain soon decided we ought to have preaching and invited a minister who occupied his front porch as a pulpit and the front yard as standing room and the first sermon was preached. When the need of the Sabbath school was realized, and a good school building being erected, a Sunday School was organized, with Mr. Strain as superintendent. The school has been in operation every since with various superintendents. The next spring, the M.E.s and Presbyterians each organized classes and have continued ever since. The Presbyterians built a very nice church.
John Slavens and family were our nearest neighbors. They had quite a family of pretty children. Mrs. Slavens was a great worker and a fine neighbor. L. S. Worman and family moved to Irwin in 1891. He is now postmaster in Sheldon, Missouri. Other neighbors were J. W. Lowry, J. W. Walters, W. B. Couchman, R. G. Mason, the Burnsides, Mounts, Forts, Franks, and others—all good people. I. C. Reed was the thresher man, H. M. Cox the mule man. There was Uncle Dan Wilson, who always had to see a man across the street, and the McCormick Brothers, who were land owners and traders, Uncle Henry Quackenbush filled in the vacant space.
In 1886, I built a two-story front to our house, it being a good location. It was nice farmhouse. The same spring, a little girl came to our home to live. She was as fine a child as one would find in a lifetime. Her name was Nannie B. Cooper and she was eight years old. Nannie was a natural musician and soon became a favorite by her good disposition and cheerful ways. Nannie’s eyes and hair were black as a raven’s. She was much sought by the young gentlemen. Not until Abraham Worman, Mrs. Campbell’s youngest brother came, did she consent to leave us, she being 19, and he 35. They moved to Augusta, Illinois, where they have a family of seven girls, all extra nice, and one boy, George W., the finest boy ever. Another girl came to our home after Nannie went away, Nettie B. Galloway. She was 14, and like Nannie, she had black hair and eyes—a very industrious and capable girl. She remained with us until she was 23, when George Frost, a farmer, coaxed her away. They have three sturdy boys.
In 1890, my friends in Barton County nominated and elected me, unsolicited, presiding judge of Barton County for four years. Two years later, I asked to be elected to the legislature, but they didn’t agree with me. People are queer, sometimes. In December, I sold my Barton County farm to Early Rigg of Illinois and later moved to Carthage, bought a vacant lot on the corner of Jersey and Wooster Streets and built an eight-room residence. Franklin Cooper, the contractor, hurried the building so we could move the 8th of October. Later, I engaged in the Real Estate business in a small, very small way.
Back in 1867, I was a pupil in the district school at Washington School Hiram Rose was a pupil, two years older, and stronger. It had been very cold, and the ground was frozen three or four feet deep. One night, it rained and froze. Next morning, there was a glare of ice over the ground, and when I reached the schoolhouse, there were several present. We decided to play a game of “black man” before school. The home base was a mound. Being very icy it was difficult to stand. After dividing the school in two equal companies—I captain of one, Hiram of the other, I made for the home base reaching it and standing erect on the mound. Hiram slipped behind me and kicked my feet from under me. I came down so suddenly, the jar was so severe, that it caused partial dislocation of the vertebrae, which ever after has caused severe headaches and spinal trouble.
In 1911, I had the renting of a small house on Forest street. The party to whom I rented demanded some improvement—gas piped in, and four rooms papered. I began the work, so as to have the house ready to occupy as soon as possible. On the 8th day of September, I was finishing the work. The house was about one block from my home, and Calvin Hughes asked to go along after dinner to see how the gas was piped in. The weather was quite warm, the work hard and difficult, and I realized I was quite warm and noticed it was difficult for me to talk. In my efforts to drive a nail that was needed, I found it impossible. I was using a small stepladder, which I dropped, and in my efforts to pick it up, I toppled over, being prostrate on the ladder.
Calvin said, “Mr. Campbell, there is something wrong. You don’t talk plain. I’ll go and call someone.”
I said, “No, I’ll get out in the fresh air and be alright,” but I found in making the effort, I could not move, so I told Calvin to call someone in. Two men came down in the basement, then the neighbor women and my wife came and said something must be done.
The men, with their hands locked together, formed a stretcher, and I was carried home. Two doctors were called. One pulled my eyes open and said “He is not dead.” Cheerful news! But then began the battle for life. I think the battle was won, temporarily, by Dr. Frances Harris, Osteopath, but later more permanently by Dr. Emma Swan, Chiropractor.
Autumn was always my favorite season. “When the frost I on the pumpkin, and the fodder in the shock,” especially such autumns as this, 1914, with corn gathering and other work with the cold weather. Mother always raised large number of chickens. As soon as the first ones were frying size, we began killing them. There were always some of the young roosters would escape, and by fall would be quite large and when the corn gathering would begin, and the unloading of the large double cribs, there would be large quantities of shell corn, and the young roosters would get extra fat, and mother would say, “Boys, before you start to the fields, go out to the chicken residence and get one of those large young roosters, and I’ll make a chicken pie for dinner.” Out I’d go with Blue, who never failed to catch the chicken pointed out. And such pie! It tastes good yet.
We would often be in the field in time to see the sun kiss the dark away and then hurry to get the large wagon box filled by the time the chicken pie was baked. When the load was scooped in the crib or barn, the dinner over, we were back to the field for another load. Then the evening and a good night’s sleep, and getting awake in time to hear the treetop chorus. And just before it would freeze, the cabbage would be gathered in for kraut. Why not like Autumn? And besides, school days would soon be here, and also the filling of the cellar with apples and potatoes. Autumn always furnished the goldenrod, the wild asters and the beautiful mums.
The cradle in which we were rocked as babies was made of poplar boards in the form of a box with rockers underneath, and many an hour, Mother has kept it rocking with her foot on the rocker while she sang a lullaby and plied her needle. When its usefulness as a cradle was past, the rockers were taken off and it was placed behind the cookstove for a woodbox, and many times have I carried wood and filled it. But now, I think it should have been decorated and given a prominent place in the parlor. I love to think of those days.
When we moved to Barton County, one of our neighbors was the Owenby family—consisting of Auntie Owenby, the mother, a dear, good old lady; John, a young man; and Permelia, a young woman. John was old enough to get married but not inclined to do so. In fact, he gave very little notice to the young women.
This is some fiction, but founded on facts. The parties are real. One day, there came to our community a charming young lady from North Missouri, Miss Mattie Horn, sister of Joe Horn, a friend of the Owenbys. John Owenby seemed to get a new vision of life, and he and Mattie were much together, and many were the cozy drives. But his mother’s advice prevailed, and John remained single. But the time finally came when Mattie announced she intended to return home. Then John’s vision of life grew dim. Now, the depot at Irwin was small, with a long platform on the west side for several years. The conductors on the train were Messrs Pollock and Gravelley, two very popular conductors. When the day came for Mattie’s departure, John accompanied her to the depot. When the train came and Mattie stepped on the car platform, they were still holding hands. Gravelley was aboard the train. The train started, their hands still clasped together, saying goodbyes for the “steenth” time. Gravelley noticed the situation and said, “Young man, you will either let go or strike a trot. You will pull the young lady from the car.” Some years later, John married Miss Steelman of Boston, Missouri, and is now living in Johnson County, Missouri, a useful and honorable citizen. At the time of the episode, Mr. W. T. Tabler was station agent, as clever an agent as Irwin ever had. His wife was his equal or more.
Now, dear reader, we have come to the place where John and Mattie were when they said goodbye. I hope you have enjoyed the readings as much as I have the writing, which has been done of mornings between 8 and 10 o’clock a.m., while I am sitting in my wheelchair waiting for my doctor to come. If you like the book, will you call the attention of your friends that they also may buy a copy. After nearly four years of affliction, and being shut in at great expense, I am anxious to have the sale of my books. Wishing to thank every friend who has shown kindness, and the Lord of all, and my wife who has so faithfully stood by me, I extend heartfelt greetings. Dear reader, there may be a sequel to this story. If so, I hope to make it more interesting than this.
--George W. Campbell, Carthage, Missouri, Thanksgiving 1914
Ed. Note: Passage omitted from page 1, par 4: “Now, don’t bet, for you will lose. For there are a great many dear little girls, and I love every one who is good and bright. Half the pleasure in loving a girl is in telling her so. I will say that my mother was the best woman that ever was, and I can prove it.”
(Manuscript edited by Maureen Girard, a descendant of David and Irena
Campbell Van Brunt.)