Please forgive the lack of formatting. At present it has only been scanned with OCR. You may want to select a larger font to improve readability
Meet Mary a lonesome. plucky little girl who became a successful teacher a farm wife and mother, and a widow. She lived from 1832 to 1916. You will enjoy her long and interesting autobiographical letter to her daughter. Written in rambling conversational style. it is full of old time expressions.
Mary lived for the most part in Readfield, Manchester. and Winthrop, traveling the roads to and from Augusta in horse and wagon in summer. horse and sleigh in winter. She attended district and private schools. She taught schools in West Bath. Readfield. Manchester, and Belgrade. as well as other towns, boarding around in different families sometimes as was the custom in the middle 1800’s.
You will like Mary and will find that you can identify with her, even though she lived generations ago. The ways of doing things may have been different in those days, but attitudes and emotions and reactions to certain situations were the same then as now.
Mary married a farmer. who was also an inventor. She was always contending with that "bugbear", as she termed it - hired help. She had seven children. six girls and one boy Mabel. the fourth daughter. was the one who begged her to write her autobiography
Losing her husband in 1880. Mary carried on the farm alone. always the victim of hired help. She was an efficient manager. educating her seven children, and making butter all the while. Mary wondered. as she grew older. whether she had contributed her fair share to the world’s work!
My dear Mabel:
Some years ago you said to me you would rather I would write up a diary and give you than anything else. Your expression was so emphatic that occasionally it has sounded in my ears with the desire to please you with this kind of remembrance on your birthday or at Christmas time. More than a year ago I got this book, but not until this time at the close of this old year 1912, have I embraced any opportunity to carry out your heart’s desire.
As you know, I was born at Rockwood’s Corner in Belgrade, Maine, September 17th, 1832. Although my father, Hiram Rockwood, passed away at an early age, in his thirty-third year, and before my remembrance, I came from a long-lived generation. My grandfather Rockwood, the father, by two wives, of seventeen children, lived almost a century of years, and with mind unclouded; my mother, Louisa Case, lived until seventy-three years of age; my grandmother, Joanna Snow Case until past eighty; and my grandfather, Elder Isaac Case, until past ninety years. These grandparents had ten children, four sons and six daughters, that lived, maybe with one exception, past the allotted time. My own grandmother Rockwood died of consumption, as did my father, when only thirty-six years old. I think not many of my grandfather Rockwood’s children, by either wife, lived to be seventy years old.
Grandfather Rockwood was a man of more than ordinary intelligence, I judge. He was Representative to the Legislature before Maine was separated from Massachusetts, and subsequently. He administered on properties and, like Mr. Carpenter, did not bone down to hard work on the farm.
As I think of it, and of my ancestry on both sides, it hardly seems as though these two large families could have had what we call necessary comforts.
My father and Uncle James Rockwood, the two older children in the family, seemed to distinguish themselves more as scholars than the other brothers or the three sisters. I do not know where the two self-educated brothers had their starting point in school. My father evidently studied surveying and was considered good authority in this matter, as he was employed by the State to survey wild lands.* He was also employed by private individuals. I think Uncle James was quite a scientist, for after being in South America for nearly thirty years, when coming back on a visit to his old home and friends, he went first to Cambridge to see Agassiz and talk on philosophical subjects with the great man whom he admired.
He and my father were very strongly attached to each other; there was only fourteen months’ difference in their ages. After hearing of
The town of Rockwood Maine on Moosehead Lake was named after Hiram Rockwood, surveyor who was Mary’s father.
father’s death from that tar away country he wrote some lines of verse that greatly impressed me and that I learned in my childhood:
"0 brother of my heart, shall I again behold thee never? And hast thou gone to other realms and left this world forever?" There were several verses, and in one of them he refers to mother and the son who would never know a father’s love.
After my father’s death in December, 1833, my mother, so much disheartened, and pregnant, myself a babe in her arms, sold the farm in Belgrade, left the new house which was just finished, and moved back to her old home in Readfield. There my childhood days were spent with a little brother born four months after father’s death.
My memory seems to go back to the winter that Sager* was hung, which was a cold day in January, I think, in 1835.
I should remark that there was an open door for my widowed mother in her father’s house. Both grandparents were fond of us and did in their way what was necessary for our comfort My uncle, Elisha Case, was the only child living at home at the time my mother went back, and she seemed to be needed just at that time, for her sisters were married then and moved away to homes of their own. Uncle Elisha and mother were the youngest children of the family, and mother was his favorite sister. He was very fond of us children in his way, but he was so stern that we feared him more than we loved him. When we were sick we thought a great deal of the notice he took of us then, but I do not think that he wished to bother with us much and seldom, if ever, made any personal sacrifice for us.
We grew up with these sober relatives, two of whom seemed to think it wrong to smile (the "loud laugh" to my uncle meant a "vacant mind"), without many pleasures or cheer. We scarcely had any young company and, aside from the "hard work" that was always a food for conversation, there were always spiritual and divine truths to be talked over and emphasized. The old ministers - there did not seem to be any young ones - the old deacons and their wives, dear brothers and sisters in the Baptist Church, would come and talk doctrinal subjects and the run-down condition of some of the churches, and bewail and lament the shortcomings of somebody they were particularly interested in.
Aunt Sally Day, a good old saint, who used to come to the house to work by the day tailoring, and who belonged to the Baptist Church in North Manchester, used to talk the greater part of the time about the church at Hallowell Cross Roads, now Manchester Forks. "Brother Ham"
Joseph j. Sager was hanged in Augusta on January 2, 1935, having been judged guilty of poisoning his wife. North’s History of Augusta states that "a vast multitude" witnessed the hanging.
lived there in that large square house" this side of the saw mill, and h used to preach in the church there "semi-occasionally". There were Brother and Sister Merrill, grandparents of the Manchester Merrills,** on’ a mason by trade, who always were prominent in that church an’ figured much in Aunt Sally’s conversation. Somebody said of this dear old saint Aunt Sally, that her heart was down to the Manchester church and her heels over to the other, for she had to walk the two or more miles to the church that she had united with in her younger years.
Grandpa (Elder Case), in wheeling time, always rode in a vehicle shaped like a meat cart. Uncle Elisha called it by the name "tarlaquin"
do not know how he spelled it - "tarlakeene" he pronounced it). The foundation covering was bed-ticking painted black or a very dark color on the outside and a kind of slate color on the inside, as were the seats that were not upholstered. We used to clamber in over the front seat, for there was no other way, and in the summer time we often wen out of the way to help Aunt Sally on her homeward route. Grandpa had great Christian fondness for her. I cannot conceive of my grandmother having any tincture of jealousy, for Grandpa was very fond of her and paid more attention to her advice than to anybody else’s.
Grandmother did say once in an amusing way that she believe( "daddy would have Aunt Sally when she was gone", and her words would have become a reality if Aunt Sally had not been more sensible than grandfather. But I do find some excuse for him, for my mother had married and moved to Brunswick, and he missed and mourned for grand. mother so much after her death in 1846. Uncle Elisha had married and there was not the religious company as formerly, and he felt the loneliness’. and twice sought for a wife when nearing his 90th year!
In my early years there was an Englishman, Amos Rhoades by name living in the family. He was very fond of us children; he always called me "Picture" and Hiram "Chapter". I think he lived 22 years in our family and the Gage family. Afterwards he got a piece of land and built himself a house*** and lived alone. Afterwards Uncle E. hired another "traveling man", Joseph Perkins by name, whom we had to endure many years, with his ignorance and perversity, and sometimes ugliness.
I have spoken of these three persons who were so much in the family to show you what factors entered into our education in our childish years. My brother and I were very fond of each other; he always called me "Sister" and I called him "Brother". We lived and played together, almost all of the time alone, and it does not seem as though we made
*The house that \vas later cut in two crosswise and moved to the Worthing Road.
**Lived in the Cummings house located where Drummond’s Auto place is.
***Amos Rhoades’ name is on the 1856 map of Manchester, beside a square on the Worthing Road.
any noise as children do now-a-days, and we never had any playthings bought for us by mother or grandparents that I remember of. Grandpa made a little cart for Hiram, sawing the wheels out of wood; it had fills, or thills, to it - a bungling thing for grandfather was not like his beloved Master, both carpenter and preacher.
Somehow a dog by the name of Jack came to us there and Hiram made a harness for him out of strips of oilcloth, and harnessed him to the cart. jack, as I remember, did not like the arrangement at all, but it amused my brother, and later as dog and boy grew bigger, both together became useful. There was a meadow, quite a distance from home, in the town of Winthrop, where my uncle used to cut hay, and the men’s luncheons and dinners had to be carried to them, and it was quite a novel sight for the dog to be turned to such a purpose.
The nearest neighbors were Capt. Luther Waugh’s family that consisted of the parents and five children. They were a cheerful family as I recall them one by one, and they always made a good deal of us children, and we liked to go over there, which we were allowed to do once in a while. Stephen Leonard was the youngest boy in the family and about my age, and we three played together. Deacon Luke Perkins, a good man, a blacksmith by trade, and his wife, possessor of an evil spirit, and his son Luther, his mother’s spirit inborn with him, twice widowed, and his daughter Eunice lived in the same house as the Waughs.
Mrs. Waugh was Deacon Perkins’ daughter, but it seemed she had inherited only the good qualities of her father, and it did not ever seem that she could have such a wicked jezebel for a mother. Dear Deacon Perkins used to come over and tell us of his trials. I say "us" for it seemed as though I had a part in them. Mrs. Perkins could be very agreeable at times. I remember that sometimes she used to come with her husband for a visit, and I believe she was called "Sister Perkins".
Eunice was a little older than I, but nearer my age than Mary Elizabeth and Augusta Waugh, so that I played more with her than with them, but she was not a safe companion for me, but I think her father married again and moved away and my mother married after more than eleven years of widowhood, of which I shall speak later on.
I think when I was past four years of age I went to a little private school in the Deacon Eben Packard’s house*, taught by his daughter Emmeline, who later on became the second wife of Horace Parlin. I remember something of the "crickets" and very low long seats and diminutive chairs in the south room fronting the road, but I cannot recall one of the little ones who with me were taught the first rudiments there.
*Farther south on the Case Road
After that, because we lived so far from the East Readfield school house, I went with the Waugh children to East Winthrop to school. Clarissa Richards, peace to her memory, was my first teacher in the district school. I remember that the Fuller family went to school then, and I remember that every one was very kind and patient with me. It really was a long walk for me, but the Waugh children took hold of my hand and helped me along, and I know they must have been all kindness, for I should have remembered scoldings. At this time I think I must have been a delicate child, for I remember of someone talking about my poor appetite, and of mother’s getting an empty mustard box and putting jelly into it to carry with some dinners.
I have spoken of my brother’s cart and his dog as companion, but have not mentioned my little play room, lighted by four small panes of glass, under the eaves of the old house. Small as I was, I had to stoop to get there, but it was there, with broken bits of crockery, I played housekeeping.
It is quite pathetic when I think now that one hundred dollars in my hand would not begin to give me the joy that some little playthings gave me then. Eunice Perkins made me a little baby with pieces of white cloth, and together we made some clothing to cover the nakedness. Then Eunice said that the child must have a baby, so she inducted me into some of the mysteries of childbearing.
Later on my Aunt Lane, who had no children of her own, found that I had never had a doll to play with, or anything fashioned of that kind worth while, so she made one for me out of white cloth, with a face that had eyes and all the necessary face adjuncts that she, the artist, had made, and this affair seemed like a queen to me as I set her down in my contracted apartment. I do not know but this "doll", brought to me by my cousin, Nancy Case, who lived with my aunt, was the making of my housekeeping propensities. At any rate, it was a pleasant thought that follows me now, that my aunt did this for me alone and made me think I was of some consequence.
No one knew how much or what I thought, or seldom what I wanted, for children then, if seen, must not be heard. We children hardly ever sat at the table when company was there, and it seems we were never allowed to speak at other times at the table; and in the winter time we were always put to bed when company was there, before supper was eaten. But we did not always go to sleep, as I remember the night that Deacon Perkins’ shop was burned, the light of the fire shown in through the bedroom window, and we wanted to get up but were not allowed to.
When I was past five years of age, my brother and I went the mile and a half to school at East Readfield in the summer time. We used to
carry our dinners in a three quart dinner pail, and it was remarked by some neighbor on the road that I always carried this pail one day and my little brother the next. Cynthia Carleton was our teacher there, and as I recall her, she seemed to resemble Miss Richards. I think of her as being very kind and pleasant. I think it must have been the second summer at school there that I had a writing book and I carried it home after I had written some lines of the copy that the teacher wrote for me to follow, and as the next day was rainy and I did not go to school, my mother set me this copy: "God is a friend to sinners." It was different from the former lines and I did not know what the teacher would say. But she wrote for two pages these lines:
"Then will I tell to sinners round
What a dear Saviour I have found."
So I thought she must be a good Christian as well as my mother.
Then it was the general custom to have the town schools commence the first of June in summer and go on for twelve weeks, and the winter schools to commence in December and last three months, which gave six months of school a year. Children then were registered at four years. As we lived so far from school and on a bad road to drift, I went up to my Uncle Lane’s and boarded and went to school with my cousin Nancy some winters of my early life. I was always fond of going to school, and I think I was quick to learn, but the school books were somewhat different from what we now have, as well as the teachers.
If a teacher was a good disciplinarian, it seems that was about all that was needed; he asked the questions laid down in the books where many of the answers could be given by yes or "no"’, and often the pupils, at an early age, elected their own studies. I know I did. I would pick up some old books, like an astronomy or history of Uncle E’s or mother’s and carry them to school and call it studying them, and of course my education was very superficial. But Albert Carr, who was some years older and spelled in the class with me, used to say, though I do not remember it, that I was at the head of the class and would get above him.
I remember in arithmetic how long division bothered me. I think I had the multiplication table by heart quite young, and could do admirable work in short division, but long division was too long for me for some time, and I remember how pleased I was at home when I first found I could manage with it. just as it was in learning to knit. I would see older persons flashing their needles in and out so easy, and I would try to do as they did, but while the stocking or mitten grew with them, I could do nothing for days and days. But at length, by persistency, I learned, and I rushed to the door as grandpa and grandma drove into the yard in the old "tarlakeen" to tell them I could knit!
Oh, those childhood years! Why do I recall these little incidents now?
My brother never seemed to want to go to school, would always, if he could when he was six or seven years old, lag behind, and I remember once of my mother going out with a little switch to drive him along wit me to school.
Grandfather was a firm believer in the switch, and I remember more than once of his going out to an apple tree and with his knife cutting switch and saying, "Louisa, take this and correct him". I used to feel so bad and thought I would rather be punished myself. And then at school I never knew of his being "ferruled" or "switched", but he was a dull scholar. He never could catch by the sound of a word how it should be spelled; for instance, at home, when we were trying to teach him some of the illustrations like "dog", " cat", "owl", in the spelling book, he got SE he could spell "owl; then we tried "frog" and he spelled it "owl" and pronounced it "frog". And the humiliation I felt at school later on at hi dullness, I think is past expression.
I used to try to drill him beforehand on his spelling lesson, and remember one time when he was in a class and they were spelling words of two syllables that he could not spell "post-axe", and of course he had seen and handled both parts of the words. He had to stop after school that night and study his lesson, and how sorry and ashamed I felt The last summer that we went to school together we were large enough to sit in the back seats; and by getting there early in the morning of the first day, I got a seat next to the boys’ aisle so I could help him in his studies.
As I said before, Hiram did not like to go to school and Uncle Elisha I think, was glad to have him at home at work, and I do not think he wen to school any summer after he was nine years old. One winter he and boarded at a Mrs. Nathaniel Kimball’s. They had two children, France. and Augusta, about our age, and we all slept in one room.
It was an old two-story shaky house, with rattling windows, and one winter before this I had lived there and Mrs. Kimball used to go upstairs. with a warming pan and put us to bed, Frances and me. The great room had a small closet in it, and as I had a religious experience at that time wished to obey the teaching of the great Master, "When thou prayest enter into thy closet, shut the door, and pray to the Father in secret." Bu I think the closet was hardly large enough with the door closed to admit of my carrying out the latter part of the sacred teaching, and it shortened my devotions.
I may as well speak here of a religious interest there was in the vicinity of the school this winter, and the meetings that were held in the homes. Some of my schoolmates were interested and began to speak in the evening meetings; they used to urge, and try to push, me up, saying,
"Now you speak, Louise." But, as now, I did not have the courage and confidence that my young friends had, in myself, or the conviction that I had experienced a change of heart by simply speaking in those meetings. I believe they forced me on my feet and perhaps then, as now, I borrowed some of their expressions.
There was a house being built right across from the brick schoolhouse, and we little girls seemed to be allowed to go in there at noontime and have "prayer meetings". I must have been a little moved for I can remember that the family at home did not encourage me in the thought of "conversion", for they evidently thought there had not been the evidence in groans and sighs and tears of my "lost condition".
I remember of going soon after with grandfather to East Winthrop to the Monthly Conference. There were a goodly number present so that the Pastor, Elder Merriam,* thought there would not be time for all to speak and remarked that he should call on every other one as they sat in their seats. I was glad that I was not one called upon. Yet, I think now if I had been old enough to realize the consciousness of a new experience in my heart, I should have been ready to proclaim it.
I have had many such religious experiences in my long life, and have had what would be called great religious opportunities, but the doctrines of foreordination and predestination seemed to shadow my life. I read in those first years in the first books of the Old Testament of the creation of Adam and Eve, of Abraham called to offer up his only son, of the story of Joseph and of Pharaoh. I never could understand why God would harden Pharaoh’s heart so many times. When I once was called upon by some evangelists, in my 1 7th year, and told them this, they said they were glad to hear my talk and spoke as though greater minds and older ones had this contending question to baffle with.
I believe I could fill these pages with the ups and downs of my inward thoughts and experiences. If ever a child had "long, long thoughts", I was that child. Seventy-five years ago, the child was the silent member of the family at home and abroad; at school or meeting they must always be quiet; hear nothing in meeting that they could understand; never from the pulpit a word to them.
Talk about" religious instruction" then! Why, some of it was this, that the infant a span long, hardly conscious of existence, would suffer the tortures of a literal hell-fire! I did not hear this doctrine in relation to the child in my grandfather’s house, but the "depth and depravity of the human heart", the excessive "sinfulness of sin", "conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity", I often heard repeated, until I came to think that there was not a single spark of goodness in the heart to light a fire of divinity within; and yet, my grandfather dwelt more upon the love of
Alice M. Whiting’s middle name is Merriam, after Elder Merriam.
God for "fallen sinners" than he did upon His justice and wrath, and was not so denunciatory in his preaching as most of the earnest ministers of his day.
Grandpa, instead of having many pastorates, traveled as a Home Missionary in small populated places and the islands of the sea. He traveled on horseback then, but in his last years in a carriage that few liked to ride in, and I think some of the dear brothers and sisters, as h drove into their dooryards, could not welcome the carriage if theydid him, for it took a sight of room.
I went often with him to meeting, not only on the Sabbath and week days, but on some protracted meetings away from home, in other towns where maybe he would stay a week with some old deacon and his family with never a little girl or young person for me to talk with, but regeneration and the gospel. which did not seem to be glad tidings, was dwelt upon Grandfather was fond of me, and if my mother could not go with him or his religious visits, he would like to have me go for company, and I would be glad to go, it was so lonesome at home when there was no school.
was always thinking, too, we would drift somewhere and I would fine some little girl to talk with.
I remember quite distinctly when I was nine years old, that he invited me to go to Newcastle for there was going to be a protracted meeting a Nobleboro, a few miles distant. As I had an aunt and some cousins living there whom I had seen at home, I thought I would like to go and visit there. He purposed to start one Monday, but there came a driving snowstorm the day before and the roads were blocked, but he was n& to be turned from his purpose, and evidently he had had great experience5 in hard traveling on his missionary tours, and these drifts and the wintry day were not to triumph over his plan this time.
There was no road broken the way out, either the Readfield 0 Winthrop way, but there was a wood road from Captain Waugh’s house and by Deacon Perkins’ blacksmith shop, that was used in the winter time, and no argument or advice from grandmother that morning had any effect to keep him from starting out with the old horse and high. backed old green sleigh, to cross the woods to the main road. WhenWE got out there, and most of the way, I think, to Hallowell, there were met with ox teams breaking the roads ahead of us. I remember some young fellows in a sleigh, with a "glib" team, passing us on the road and laughing at our humble equipment, grandpa’s hat hardly in sight at the top of the sleigh and my diminutive head hardly perceptible.
When we got to Hallowell grandpa called at a grocery store and bough a pound of raisins (he always carried some in his pocket to chew instead of tobacco). I went, in the meantime, across the street to a dry goods store with a few pennies in my naked hand and bought some mitts. These
mitts had no fingers, but a place to put the thumb through, and this pair had about all the colors of the rainbow in stripes across them.
I do not remember how pleased I felt to have this addition to my scanty wardrobe, but I had my mother’s black muff to keep my hands warm. I wore on my head a slate colored pongee hood, padded with cotton batting. That was my mother’s, too, I think I had a new dress and wadded large cape of the same material, a figured woolen goods, very dark blue and slightly shading to purple. (What would I not give for a piece of it to show to my grandchildren now!) I was rather proud of that dress, I think
We traveled on down through Gardiner and Pittston and I think it was Whitefield where the "Sisters" Waters lived and where grandpa expected to "bait the mare" and have a "bite of something" to eat, himself; but when we got near their home, we found the road not broken out, and as we could not drive there, grandpa hitched the horse by the side of the road and fed her with hay he had put in the sleigh before we left home.
I do not remember anything about that delay, or whether we got to the Waters’ house or not, but we moved on at a slow rate with a tired horse, it must be, and going a longer way on account of the roads to reach my Uncle Harley’s. They were pretty well snowed in there, but I got out of the sleigh in the outer darkness and, catching a gleam of their candlelight, found my way, a child you remember, to the window, and as I pressed my face against the windowpane, Cousin Amanda says, "That is Mary Rockwood; I know her by her long nose". I think we had a glad welcome. I think my aunt and cousins made a good deal of me; I am sure my cousins did, but probably my aunt and uncle talked the most with grandfather on the "religious awakening" and "gospel truths" and mission work
The cousins, Amanda and Elizabeth, would have liked to have me stay with them and not go to Nobleboro with grandpa, but he wanted to go back home by another way, so I went with him, and we first stopped at Deacon Day’s. They were the very nicest of old people, and I shall always remember their too great kindness to me in giving me raisins and such things to eat, that before I got home caused much anxiety to grandpa on account of my serious illness.
The Days had five grown-up sons at home, and one of them seemed to like to talk with me, perhaps because I was such an old child. I had copied from Cousin Nancy, who seemed to be my sponsor in everything some old things to say to men and boys. I was never bright and original and witty as she, but I thought, as she was so much older, that her way in everything was the best way, and I followed her judgment and rulings in all things.
Mrs. Day gave me several little presents when I left; one was some print, lilac and red in color, so pretty I thought, to make me an apron The silk that my daughters brought me from London I am not quite a pleased with and have not expressed as much admiration for as that less than a yard of print! The morning we left them grandpa spoke of getting some change ready to pay at the toll bridge. Deacon Day noticed it an said they should not charge anything for ministers, but as we said W paid when we came, he put some change (I believe it was eight cents in my hand, with the gaudy mitt in practical evidence, and told me to keep it for my own if we crossed the bridge free. I think this mightbe the first money I ever had for my own because I remember it so well the pennies were the large old-fashioned kind.
Then we went to a meeting where there was something of an "awaken mg", and I almost felt that I ought to go forward to the "anxious seats" but I was kept back by rather a scared feeling. Such a lonesome time as had at the house where we "put up" (you see I am often using old timeexpressions in this diary). The house was large and clean, perhaps, but the rooms with painted or white sanded floors and no carpets seemed so bare and lonesome, and I cannot think that I had even a book t( solace me, and all I heard was scripture reading and prayers and the preached word.
We did not "tarry" long with these brethren and sisters, but went t( another place where a church was to be dedicated. The people where we stopped seem now in retrospect to have hardly the comforts of life There were two very old people, it seemed to me, and I think they were too feeble to go out to meeting. I do not think there was any welcome for me, and I do not wonder now, for evidently the ones that did thework had all they could manage in taking care of the old people and providing dinner for strangers that day, without being burdened with c child.
I think we moved on the next day on the day after to a Deacon Weeks’ home in Jefferson. This was a delightful move, for the Deacon and hi5 wife were younger in looks and appearance than were the people at thelast other places where we stayed, and they had a daughter living with them, and to my delight, she had a baby of which I grew very fond. I dc not know how long we stayed with this good family before I was taker seriously sick You see, my rich living at Deacon Day’s had to have ~ reaction. I had helped the good Mrs. Day to pick over raisins for a rich cake, and she told me to eat all the raisins I wanted, and as I had never eaten raisins before without restrictions, I made the most of the privilege; and after the cake was made she said I must have a large piece because I helped make it.
Well, the finality of that high living culminated at Deacon Weeks’ home. I do not know how long I was sick there; I believe I lost conscious
Homestead of Rev. Isaac Case, East Readfield. located on the Case Road. where Mary spent her childhood days The original painting, done on a small (3" h~ 5") piece of wood. was by Ella Hewins. and is now in the possession of A lice Whiting great great granddaughter of Elder Case.
nests and when, like the prodigal son, I came to myself, Deacon Weeks and grandpa were standing by my bedside; they had been praying that most of the night for my recovery, I heard my grandfather say afterwards and added how he planned to take my body home in the sleigh if I did not live. I rather think that as soon as I was able we started homeward
The sleighing was almost gone- it must have been sometime in March and the greater part of the way to Augusta only one runner could be kept on the little snow or ice. We stopped at Deacon Pullen’s to an early supper and then the poor old jaded mare dragged us along up to my great aunt Rockwood’s. I think grandfather had some hesitancy about stopping there, for there were no religious brethren or sisters in the household But as a convenience to ourselves and as we were needing material benefits more than spiritual food, we were glad to thrust ourselves upon the hospitality of this good but so-called worldly family.
The next morning we started and reached home before noon, and grandpa was ready to talk of the Lord’s goodness and how He had cared for us and brought us both back to the shelter of the home. Mytalkwa5 of the good people I had seen and what they had given me. I think WE must have been away as many as five weeks.
I think the next autumn I went with him to a Baptist Association at Mt. Vernon and stopped at a Mrs. Lyford’s. In one of the day meetings, the time of the speakers was limited to a few minutes. Grandfather rose and was speaking and was called to order for going over the time limit, ant someone rose and said, "Indulge the brother a little longer."
I think grandfather felt the rebuke and it seemed that we went home before the session closed. I also call to mind the circumstance of being shut in and fastened into a clothes closet at that time and that I could not make my voice heard for some time.
To show what determination grandfather had to overcome obstacles I want to illustrate by saying that one wintry morning he and I together started to go to meeting at North Manchester. I think we got along quite well until we got to the Amos Rhoades property. Then and there the road was not passable. There had been a heavy fall of snow, and rain had come on top before the road had been broken out, and there was thick crust over the road and field all glittering in the morning sun.
As we could get no farther with the team, grandpa looked for a low place by the fence side where he fastened the horse, and I suppose took the bit from its mouth and placed some hay before the animal while we thought we would trudge along. But there was such an icy crust that we could only creep along and when we got in sight of the lone church there was no smoke from the chimney and nothing to indicate
meeting, so we gave up getting there to worship the Most High and went back home and then drove over to East Winthrop church.
I ought to remember more of the remembered day, but no doubt at the family devotions at night "The Sabbaths that never shall end", or other of the good Dr. Watts’ hymns were read and sung. "The day is past and gone, the evening shades appear" was a favorite hymn, and I often repeat it to myself at night, but I interpreted the lines, "We lay our garments by, Upon our beds to rest", a little differently from the true meaning in those early days, for I thought it was the garments that rested.
Incidents of various kinds in connection with my Grandfather Case keep coming forward. I remember one Sunday, after we got home from meeting, when I was perhaps eight years old, Uncle Elisha asked me what the text was and I could not tell. I do not remember what his comment was, but I do remember that the next Sunday when grandfather preached again, I could tell him the text was, "For without faith it is impossible to please Him", and I think I told him he could find it in Hebrews, 11th chapter.
One time, perhaps a little earlier in my life, at the family devotions, grandmother and my mother were present before an open fire in the front room, and I think it was grandfather who was reading the "Scripture" as he always called it, and as he got to the 49th verse of the 9th chapter of Mark, he went to snuff the tallow candle and the dimmed light went entirely out. Child as I was and so near him that I saw the ending of the chapter, and, most likely weary of the length, I spoke out and said, "You are so near through, only two verses more, grandpa, that you need not light the candle again." But the candle was lighted and he read the verses and made some comment, I wish I could remember, it was not a rebuke to me, but like this, "You see, Mary, it WAS something worthwhile."
I can hardly keep from my mind as I write my childish experiences, one Sally Mace, whom you have hardly ever heard me or anyone else mention. I want to say, "Peace to her memory", though like the Kallikak family,* there were glaring faults among the developed virtues. But God forbid I should doubt or forget to say that she is among the redeemed in heaven and singing there in a more impressive manner than she did on earth. One of her favorite hymns as she went about the housework at grandfather’s commences: "A poor way-faring man of grief, Has often passed me on my way."
Mary was interested in the Kallikak family because her 3rd daughter Emma married H. H.
Goddard, who was in charge of the Training School for the Feeble Minded in Vineland, NJ
Deborah Kallikak attended the school, and Mr. Goddard wrote a book called, "The
Kallikak Family, a Study in the heredity of Feeble Mindedness," c. 1912. For many years,
Alice Whiting corresponded with Deborah Kallikak, who grew up to be a useful member
of the Institution in which she made her home.
I think I was about seven years old, possibly eight, when grand-mother Case was seriously sick with inflammatory rheumatism and Aunt Sally came to help mother about the housework She was a sister and lived in the family of Benjamin Mace, who lived on the Mt. Vernon Road not far from the Methodist Church in Readfield. She was very fond of her brother’s children and would do anything for them, but had the reputation of being "a great scold". I think at the time she was at grandfather’s she began to think of starting a little grocery store at East Readfield, and she pleased my childish mind in telling me that she should have candies and raisins to sell.
At any rate, when she carried her idea into effect, I wanted to board with her and go to school from there one winter. I think mother rather hesitated in the matter on account of Aunt Sally’s scolding propensities, but I had my way, it seems. About the board, the price was somehow fixed. Mother, as the guardian of my brother and myself, was allowed fifty cents a week each out of our father’s estate for our board, and so if we could get boarded at that price in the winter nearer the school, we some years did so. Aunt Sally boarded me for this price. She had a niece younger than I and she slept in a trundle bed and I slept with Aunt Sally. Besides the store room, there was only this one room where we cooked and ate and slept
I do not remember about the living, but it must have been satisfying and nutritious, or I should not be living now past my eightieth year. I do remember this one particular time when her brother’s wife who lived near by, sent us in a mince pie so very rich that Aunt Sally’s "scold" came out. I think of Aunt Sally as being good and indulgent to us children. She would often bring us nuts and raisins to eat in the evening,
The one thing that troubles me in this winter’s experience is a passionate outbreak that I had one evening when a few of us were playing school. I guess I was the teacher, and when one of my pupils did not "toe the mark" or was a little disorderly, I flung down the book in my hand with such a thrust that it hit the lamp and overturned it and spilled the sperm oil on the white floor. I do not believe Aunt Sally scolded more than any other body would under the circumstances, and I deserved it all. I have never forgotten that passionate outbreak and I am having my punishment all my life at the remembrance of it.
I think the next spring after this, or it might have been a year after, Miss Isadore Allen, afterwards Mrs. Scribner, had a private school near her home in North Manchester*. As it was a kind of boarding school, mother at first thought she would have me boarded at this teacher’s home. Among her boarding pupils were two Sawtelle girls about my age who came from Sidney. They had trunks and a good many clothes all
A big square house with four chimneys located east of the North Manchester Church.
It belonged to Jotham and Thankful Allen, parents of Isadore, and later to Isadore and
Virgil Scribner. (See story and pictures in the Manchester History, P.138)
very nicely packed in them, and I remember of Miss Allen commenting on
this and saying, "Your mother thought of everything," and I felt 0 little consequence, having not even a toothbrush, though possibly night dress in my belongings. After this came two nice grown-up young ladies. I think the four were some connection of the Aliens and I always had the feeling that the teacher was partial to them. They certainly’ brought more income than the outside scholars.
I do not remember what I studied, but I remember many other thing of the teachable kind, for she taught us other things beside lessons from books. Before I go on I should mention that I did not stay at the Allen home more than a few days, for I was transferred to the Capen home* Now there was in those days, living in a desolate place on the August-road, in a most dreary house, two rather peculiar persons. They had peculiar names, too, and went always by their abbreviations, "Surez" and "Dassar". Their real names were Ahasuerus and Hadassah Capen Mrs. Capen was Madison Allen’s sister and, of course, the noted E.C Allen’s*** aunt.
How these two persons with the two queer Bible names came tower is a matter of history. When I think of it, I reason this way, that it was their musical talents that tended to draw them together. "Surez" always played an old bass viol and Daisy sang in the choir in the old East Readfield church before 1838 when it was taken down and moved to North Manchester. I remember them well as they looked in the gallery, with their "awful acting child" as she was called. This child, Ann Capen, was little younger than I, and Mrs. Capen thought she would like to send Ann to this private school of Miss Allen’s if she could have me board there and go with her the long lonesome road to school, so l changed boarding places.
I intimated that our lessons were not all from books. I think Miss Allen taught sewing. She ventured instruction on many points, one 0 which was, we must never cough and hack and expectorate before people, but must get beyond or out of sight when forced to do those things
We used to play games. One that I remember was called "Battledore and Shuttlecock". It seemed something like the tennis of modern days but was a house game. I think Miss Allen required us to write compositions, and I am quite sure that the first one I ever wrote was at he dictation. She suggested that we write on something we had seen Perhaps Ann and I rebelled against writing, for something happened that we were kept after school for - some naughtiness. I believe Ann was more to blame in the matter, but the teacher gave us a talking-to.
The 1856 map of Manchester shows A. Capen on south side of R. 17.
Allen was a famous publisher. His story is in the Manchester History, P. 126
call to mind her saying that she supposed I was a great favorite at home with grandparents and uncle, etc.
That night in going home Ann and I seemed to spy a ground sparrow’s nest at the same time, and we both said we would have that subject for our theme. I think we had a little contention about it. I guess, no, I am sure that we both wrote on "Birds’ Nests". Another time Miss Allen said to the school - there were not more than eight of us that she would read a story and she wanted us to write up what we could remember of it. One of the boarding scholars carried off the palm on that score.
The only house on the dreary uphill road was one that Amos Rhodes builded and lived alone in. He had some land that he cultivated, and as we passed we always enjoyed seeing and talking with him. After a time, as we used to call at his house, we conceived the idea of stopping some night after school and cleaning up his floor and cupboard that the ants were troubling. I think we notified him one morning so that he would have some hot water when we came from school.
We had a happy time, for evidently this was our initial attempt at house cleaning. We were very private about the affair and I do not recall our excuse for being late home that night, but Amos was so pleased with his clean house that he told the neighbors and it all leaked out, and Mother Capen, as was her way, punished us with her long-drawn face and chiding words, and I believe forbade us ever doing the like again.
I think the summer after this I went to the district school at East Readfield. The measles were about that summer and as I heard my mother say it was a good time to have them, after I got home from school one night I asked and obtained consent to go over to Captain Waugh’s "to catch the measles" of Stephen Leonard Waugh, who was about my age and who was sick in bed with them. I seem to have made preparations myself for the expected sickness that I was sure would come after the numerical days of exposure.
Going home from school one night, I called at the home of Mrs. Carr, who lived where old Mr. Barber now does, to get some pennyroyal or other herb to make a tea to" drive out" the rash or infection, and I invited Mrs. Carr, out of courtesy I suppose, "to come and see me when I was sick!" Mrs. Carr and her daughter, Mrs. White, who with her husband from East Winthrop, was visiting there at the time, exchanged smiling glances when hearing this invitation given with childish sincerity and faith. When the days passed and it was nearing time for the measles to develop, I took my bed and was given various kinds of decoctions, among them cider, to force their appearance, but they did not present themselves.
I remember one day my mother had to go away to Hallowell, or "down to the River", as they always used to express it, and I was kept in
bed in a darkenedroom and I believe Mrs. Carr did come to see mean take care of me. It was during that "sickness" (?) that when mother once brought me something to eat, I inquired if the dish was clean, and she told me the story of the dog whose name was "Three Waters", the on story that I remember of her ever telling me. I was obliged to recover from my shut-in condition without any real signs of an infection, and was not until after my brother had them, that the real measles came tom’
After that I grew pale, and Aunt Lane seeing me up to the Methodist Church, said I "looked like a corpse" and later on wanted to have me her home so she could doctor me up. She gave me nice tasting thing. one of which she called "conserve of roses" - it was simply rose leave and sugar simmered together. Cousin Nancy did not seem to beat Aunt Lane’s at this time.
I must not forgot to mention Mrs. Eben Hunt who lived close to The "graveyard"** as it was then called, about a half a mile from grandfather". Her husband was a carpenter by trade and summers worked away at hi trade and, because she was alone and a delicate woman, she liked t have me for company and help. I used to like to be with her; I think c her as a nice housekeeper, one who seemed to have an ability to make Paradise of a home without much outlay. She had no children, and the family who lived there before her was a large one and in poor circumstances, and the home when Mrs. Hunt moved there, was noticeable different.
She created a parlor out of the kitchen, and its white sanded floc with braided rugs in rainbow colors seemed very nice to me. She was very systematic about her work; she burned sperm oil instead of tallow candles, and the lamps were always trimmed. Although a frail woman she was very industrious and accomplished a great deal in all ways. Was days perhaps she would lie down to rest two or three times before she got through with that work, but her clothes were washed and ironed, seemed to me, in an ideal way.
She was skillful with her needle, and in odd moments to the end 0 her life she was always knitting edging or crocheting or doing some fancy’, salable work She used to knit cotton and woolen stockings to sell, and the woolen ones were knit of yarn that she spun and colored herself;the cotton ones were knit of the skein cotton yarn that could be bough then, that she colored in part and doubled it on" swifts" and twisted it or a spinning wheel. She could knit one of these cotton stockings for men’.’ wear in a day. She knit by count and read a good deal while knitting, too
Now called the Case Cemetery in East Readfieid because Mary’s grandparents, Isaac and Joanna Case, are buried there.
This woman was very companionable for me, and would not only talk with me but let me do things for her. I used to thinkit great to fry fritters there, for I was allowed to put on them a lot of brown sugar as I fried them, but cautioned to be more saving of butter. I was always ready to do anything for her, whether it was to get in wood and chips, wring yarn out of the blue dye pot, hunt hens’ nests or go berrying, after I got home from school. Once in the spring of the year when there was no school, she came down to grandpa’s to get me to go up and help her paper the unfinished chamber.
This chamber went the whole length of the house and there were the beams and rough boards that she wanted to paper as far as she could and as best as she could. There was an old-fashioned Bible in the house all out of binding, and she thought she would use that for papering I thought it was sacrilege to do this (I do not know but this feeling has always clung to me), but I do not remember of arguing on the subject. Mrs. Hunt told someone that I said that "one could read it after it was pasted on". At any rate, it was used. Mrs. Hunt in her religious views was a lifelong Universalist, as were her parents, Esquire Fuller and wife. After we went to bed at night she would read quite a while in her Bible. They moved to Hallowell after that and lived and died there, and are buried in the cemetery in sight of their home.
And there was the Gage family who lived on the farm afterwards sold to the Mearses*. They were a poor but refined family. When as children Hiram and I went there, the family consisted of a sweet old lady whose husband was a sea captain before his death. She was the mother of" Bash""" as she was always called (a contraction of Bathsheba) and Polly and Jenney and William and George. George had some enterprise, it seems, for he had married and kept a grocery store up in Wilton, but the others were old maids and bachelors, and they lived together in perfect harmony.
William worked some on the farm, but none of them, except George, had any energy, and it follows that they had only the bare necessities of life, and to get those they would from time to time sell off a few acres from the farm. Grandpa Case bought a woodlot off them, and Uncle Elisha I think a field.
Hiram and I liked to go there; over east, it was, across a brook and fields, and we were there. They made a great deal of us and they had some curious things to please us that Captain Gage had brought home from his voyages. The windows of the house were small panes of glass and had a greenish look and the kind of glass that was called" bull’s eye".
*East of Mears Brook (which runs out of Shed Pond), according to 1856 map of Manchester.
I had heard so much at home of their being poor that one time mother and I were there to supper and I observed that the large sugar bowl was heaping full of the light-colored Havana sugar that was used then. I was not used to such a sight, and when I spoke of it at home, Mother said "yes, the sugar bowl was very full, but perhaps it was all they had inthe house." Then it was not common for families to have any kind of sugar on the table for every day use; molasses was used to sweeten tea ant was always boiled into the coffee.
After we moved to Brunswick some of the Gage family died, andthe two sisters and brother, having sold the remnant of the farm, moved t( Wilton, and I suppose Brother George helped support them while he lived In the fall of 1857, after teaching a fifteen weeks summer school in Manchester, I went up to Wilton to a teachers’ institute and visited the family. When Alice was a baby your father and I took a trip with he through Belgrade and New Sharon, going to Aunt Adelia’s (she then lived in Peru) in a roundabout way, and as we passed through Wilton, called to see these good people for the last time. They were no educated, but they were born refined, and it was said of them that " ii was just natural for the Gages to be polite".
Not far from the Gages lived David and Betsey Brown. They went childless people but both were very fond of my brother and me.WE always liked to go there, for Aunt Betsey belonged to a family who went noted for good living. She was always bringing forth from her cupboard and pantry nice things that children were not often allowed to eat in those days. She always seemed to have a good supply of raisins on hand which she freely dispensed to us. Uncle David was known as a miser but it seems that he allowed himself a good living and he seemed to enjoy company.
The farm on which they lived was much of it cold and wet and unproductive, and it was in the year 1840 perhaps that it was sold at quite a good price to Mr. Charles Blair. They were in rather poor circumstance5 with a family increasing in number. Mr. Blair was one of those men that could bring more to pass if he had somebody’s judgment to act upon -quiet, easy, industrious man with not much ambition to achieve success. His wife was just the opposite, neat and ambitious and proud spirited, and most of the planning for the family’s necessities came upon her.
She was quite a talker. She realized from the first that they had made a poor trade in the farm, and I suppose it was heavily mortgaged and ii probably did her some good to dwell upon and talk over her trials and poverty and hard work with her new neighbors. She made a good deal of us children, and we liked to go there on our way to school and have the
company of her children, some of them near our age and always well-behaved and clean and comfortably dressed. She was not only a great talker but an effective one. Of all the persons that lived in that neighbor-hood in my childhood years, there is no one whose sayings you hear me repeat like Mrs. Blair’s. They are our family currency.
Uncle Caleb Jackson and his wife were our near-by Winthrop neighbors. Their daughter Elizabeth and son Samuel lived at home with them. Mrs. Jackson was a very neat woman and her house was kept immaculate. I remember how I felt when about nine or ten years old - I was boarding with Mrs. Hunt that summer- upon hearing of her sudden death. It was not then so common as now for one to drop out of life suddenly. She was making a hasty pudding over the stove and with her hand covered with Indian meal she dropped dead. She was quite along in years, a tailoress by trade, and often worked at our house several days at a time. I have always remembered her reply when my mother inquired of her about any person; her stereotyped reply," Not knowing, I could not say." Mr. Jackson lived several years after the death of his wife. Elizabeth was away, perhaps married about this time, and Samuel married soon.
In connection with these neighbors, I must write how natural it was for me to be impressed and to try and copy the nice ways of nice people. Before Samuel was married a Miss Brainerd worked there assisting his mother in her work She was pretty and interesting to me and I tried to imitate her nice ways. One particular thing was always at table keeping her arms close to her sides. She was rather short in stature, with corresponding arms, so it was easier for her to do this and more natural than for long-limbed people. This attitude impressed me then so deeply that I seldom notice someone at table with arms akimbo without discomfort
The next neighbors in Winthrop were Deacon Ebenezer Packard and his dear little wife, "Aunt Reuy", as she was called. They had a large family, the youngest of whom was Albert, about my age; he and some of his brothers were in the Civil War.
There is no one who ever called me "Mary" that pronounced those four letters of my name with such a pleasant resonant sound, almost as if I was something above and beyond this sphere, as Deacon Packard. He always came to Grandfather Case’s to do the butchering, and he took a good deal of notice of the child Mary.
Then farther on was the Elias Whiting family, and their home was certainly the Mecca of my childhood days for some years. There were five children, including a young girl who helped Mrs. Whiting with the work. Payson is living now at Brookton, a few weeks older than I, with mind and memory in exercise, and it is interesting to meet him from time to time and review past history.
The spirits of East Winthrop’s once prominent pastors loom up before me from the far removed past Elder Butler and Elder Fogg whose bodies long ago were consigned to the dust, but whose souls are marching or Then there were Mr. Merriam, who long ago went onward, and Mr. Pierce and Mr. Bryant, both of whom had some slandering tongues to interfere with a successful ministry, and the good Mr. Crane, and Mr. Lane, who on account of their advanced age are resting from ministerial labors.
There are, perhaps, in the cemetery at East Winthrop more than on hundred graves of people that I have known from my childhood days t the later years: Deacon Fuller and wife, Sullivan Kilbreth, Augustus Fuller and wife, and many others who were shining lights in the church
I want to speak of a short man, something of the stature of Zaccheus of old, who used to come to the house to make needful repairs. He was naturally a profane man, and he often got irritated and, quite unconsciously perhaps, the swear words would come out of his mouth.
Grandfather Case always reproved him if he chanced to hear these expletives, and once the old man retorted by saying, "It was enough to make a minister swear." The family lived on the other side of the hill where Mr. Elvin now lives, and this side of where Joseph and Pete Sanborn lived. The Sanborns seemed to be prosperous men. They carried on, besides their farming operations, a tannery and kept a grocery store, and later on, an oilcloth factory. They lived in East Readfield the longer part of their lives, but one or both of these brothers removed t( Hallowell; however they are buried in the cemetery near the Method is Church in East Readfield.
Living, as we did, at the extremes of these two towns, East Winthrop and East Readfield, the neighbors in both places have a hold in m’. memory and on my heart. But few that I went to school with in those far away years are living now. Scores of them are buried with their father before them in these near-by cemeteries, where my inclination lead me to go and, as a longer time sojourner here, turn backward the leave! of time and dwell upon that youthful playtime with the thought as expressed recently by Lyman Abbott in the Ladies’ Home journal,"Life is a perfect inexplicable riddle unless we believe it is only one stage in an immortal life," and death’s true name is "Onward".
I have somehow diverged from my childhood stories, and will have to go backward again to some days that were really red-letter days for my brother and myself. One such day, a cold morning in midwinter when my brother, about seven years old and myself a year and a ha older, were fixed up as warm as possible to carry a Representative to Augusta to the Legislature. I think he was a minister and possibly he had preached in our vicinity the day before; at any rate, we took him down
there, seven miles, and he had us go into the State House - probably the
first time we had ever been there - to get warm. The most pleasant entertainment and cheer he gave us was buying for us the red and white sticks of candy that were sold there.
I think it might have been in the fall before this that we children wanted to go to Augusta to carry apples and perhaps other produce to market. Grandpa had an old steady horse that they dared trust us with; there were no automobiles or road machines to frighten horses then. I believe we did not have any luck selling the apples, but were allowed to leave them in Mr. Jonathan Hedges’ grocery store, where grandfather was in the habit of trading.
I had some experience in some kinds of work, as a girl of thirteen, that in review now, nearly seventy years later, seem hardly believable. After Cousin Nancy went to Manchester to live with Mrs. Weston, my Aunt Lane used to like to have me go up there and live with her. I think I liked to go. I enjoyed seeing people pass on the road, for it was the regular stage road to Augusta and places down on the Kennebec River, and all the groceries, including large hogsheads of molasses and barrels of flour, had to be moved to the back country by horse power.
It was a little lonesome for me to be there without Cousin Nancy. The house had many rooms; it could well accommodate two families. The rooms were all so large and high that one felt lonesome in the sunlight in them if one were alone. Then there were several dark passages and sheds and work rooms and alleys and carriage houses all connected, and it was a lonesome trip to go from one part of the house on the main floor to the far end of the carriage house.
The chambers in this great house did not communicate with each other; that is, the chambers in the ell were reached by going across a corner of an unfinished old back porch, into a broad dark alley, then into a still darker little entry and up dark stairs which landed you in a rough unfinished room.
This room had a jog in it which accommodated a bed, and it had only one little window. I remember Cousin Nancy and I sometimes slept there. At the farther end of this room was a narrow finished one where she and I oftener slept in the summertime. When I was in my thirteenth year and my brother about eleven, we both went up to Aunt Lane’s to work Hiram helped Uncle Lane with farm work and did chores. He slept in this lonesome room, and, because it was so lonesome, I slept in the ell part of the house in an adjoining room, over Grandpa Lane’s room where he was confined to his bed. The funnel from his stove went up through my room and it was some company to hear the noise and rattle from below when they filled the stove with wood, as well as being near my brother.
Grandpa Lane wanted very rich food, but he only wanted a little. Aunt Lane did not believe in humoring him in this respect, and he used t( ask me sometimes to make a cake with just butter and sugar, saying "just make it in a spoon, for I only want a little." He was always cared for in what my aunt and uncle thought was the best way, but he seemed to me, as I think of him at this period of my life, as naturally a sour man and hard to get along with.
He seemed rather fond of my brother and me as shown in this way when he found Hiram had stayed his month out and was going away, he wanted me to take some money and wanted him to stay longer, but m~ brother was too homesick I believe, but I am not sure, that my uncle gave him one dollar a week Evenings we pared and cored and strung apples at the halves. After they were dried we had one half by weight for our evening’s work
I used to do the family washing. I would rather do the washing there to stay upstairs alone and see to the fires and look after Grandpa Lane. The washing was done downstairs in the basement kitchen. An open fireplace, a brass kettle, a hogshead of soft water at the door which I drew and carried in, wooden tubs, and I suppose a washboard, were m~ equipment. There were no wringers in those days. I remember the large washings pretty distinctly, so many sheets, and Aunt Lane, with an old-fashioned consumptive cough about her, wore very nice all wool underwear that she was particular about.
I received the munificent wages of fifty cents a week This time I worked six weeks for a pair of boots that were sent as cast-off clothing by Uncle Lane’s rich brothers who lived in New York These were men’s long-legged boots, a great deal too large for me, but I wore them to school that winter. Aunt Lane had coaxed me to stay while grandpa lived and said that his children in New York would make me a nice present when she wrote them of my kindness in waiting on their father. He died the night I left, but the "nice present" never appeared.
There is an experience I had at Aunt Lane’s that I ought to have chronicled sooner, for it happened some years before this later one. Aunt Lane was so seriously sick one winter that my mother went up there to help take care of her, taking me with her to go with Cousin Nancy to the District School there. I think I was not more than eight years old then, for I remember that Seward Hunt, a near neighbor, used a part of the time to haul me on his sled. A part of the time we were carried; sometimes we took the old horse and sleigh and drove to school and turned the horse about and he went back alone, though he had two turns of the road to make.
If ever we children had a cold or indigestion or symptoms of sickness, we had to be dismissed from school and take what was called a "course
of medicine" at home. It was called the Thompsonian way, and the patients were steamed and given hot drinks to produce perspiration, then given lobelia to make them vomit and "injections" at the last, as they were then called. Cayenne pepper figured much in their sweating process. A mixture of stuff that was called composition, much like ginger tea, was also taken when there was any sign of a cold in the family. I took so many of these doses there that I have never, no matter what pain I am suffering, wanted to drink any cayenne or ginger tea again.
They had a large wooden steam box with a tin pipe to conduct the hot water from the steam kettle to this box when the naked patient was seated with a thick woolen blanket thrown over him. I think as I recall the doings, this was the last act of the drama, after the drinking of the numerous kinds of teas. Emerging from our steamer, we were painfully rubbed and put to bed, with instructions to go to sleep. After our nap we could have some gruel, sometimes arrowroot jelly, which was very nice, then we were ready the next morning for school in the wintry weather.
After this digression, I will go back to the time Grandfather Lane died (I call him grandfather on account of his age). It was this same winter that my mother was married for the second time. After my father’s death mother moved home to her father’s house, as I have previously stated She had, as a beloved daughter, remained there, interested in the work, which was a kind of drudgery for her, as the house was old, and the family supplemented with hired men the year around, and she herself not a strong woman.
She got tired out and disheartened and when on a visit to Brunswick with Grandfather Case, in Deacon Snow’s family, she was attracted by the trim little house and its neatness, and the care that the good deacon seemed to have over everything, so different from what it was with her brother and the men at home. This first visit was made when Deacon Snow’s first wife was living; she had been for years almost an invalid, was a nice pleasant body, and was always at home.
After her death, Deacon Snow, with his daughter, came one summer to the Baptist Association that was holden at East Winthrop, and they invited Grandfather and mother to go home in company with them, and they went. Soon after this the daughter was married and later on mother and Deacon Snow were "published", as the law required in those days. Some months passed before mother made up her mind to be married and leave the old home and her parents who seemed to need her more than ever, but she had had her wedding cake made for a long time, and at last a faithful girl came to wait upon the parents, and one cold night in midwinter Deacon Snow appeared to claim his bride.
There was a little wedding; the neighbors were invited, and Aunt and Uncle Lane came down. Grandfather, who was over eighty years old was so embarrassed and overcome by his emotions that he could not a the psychological moment remember mother’s name in pronouncing the ceremony, and Grandmother went to his aid and said Louis, Rockwood". I felt like crying, and I am sure I did after I went to be( that night with no mother beside me. Still, I think we children, as children usually are, were pleased with the idea of a journey.
It was called thirty miles to Brunswick, and there was a tavern in Litchfield, as hotels were called in those days. This was the first time WE children had eaten at a public place. We reached Brunswick in the earl’ evening of the short day, rode on two miles farther and then drove into the door yard of a tidy and good looking little yellow house. There were no stoves in this place, no carpets on any floor, and only soft wood for heating and cooking.
Such a cheerless place, as I review it now, but then, past thirteen years of age, with great aspirations in my unfledged heart, I did not dwell on uncomfortable things. I did not dwell upon some facts that are so evident to me now, that the parties in this new movement had committee the greatest blunder of their lives. Here was this Deacon of the Baptist Church, a carpenter by trade, but too old or feeble to work at the trade living on a small farm; all run down, a sandy soil, hardly wood enough growing on the place to feed the family fire, no bank account, a few apple trees, and one or two, possibly three cows, these affording no milk in winter that I remember of, and nothing raised on the place that could contribute to buying the really necessary staples for existence.
He was fifty-two years of age and had assumed the responsibility & providing for the family of a worthless and most disagreeable son, whose family, a wife and three children, were living there at the time we three were introduced to the household. Mrs. Catharine Snow was a beautiful woman in all ways and the children were bright and interesting, but the son was an incorrigible child. He was away teaching school that winter on Cape Elizabeth.
The son had been, as a matter of course, opposed to his father’5 marriage, and he was sensible in that particular. He hurried home a~ soon as he heard of the marriage and acted like an insane person. About the first thing he did was to take an ax and split up a pretty sled that had been given to my brother before we left Readfield. My mother was a timid woman naturally, and she was afraid of her life when he was about the home. That winter when he went back to his school he took hiswife and one child with him.
The son’s family lived by themselves in one end of the house. I do no think that this beautiful wife ever made one complaint for being set
aside this way, cooking by or with a soft wood fire in an open fireplace, going out to the barn, quite a little distance, to milk the cow that the deacon had given her, or going upstairs to the meal chest to get corn meal to make a bannock which she cocked in a spider before an open fire. She was a woman who never asked a man to bring a pail of water or get an armful of wood. I somehow got the impression in those years that it was a tribute to a woman to do as Catharine did. My views are changed now! Women are not created to the drudgery that belongs to the stronger sex.
That first winter I went to the near-by District School, and in the spring I went to the village to a private school taught by Mr. Swallow. I do not remember much about studies there, except that when entering the school, I seemed as usual to elect my own. Something was said about history, which I ought to have, but did not have a fondness for, and the principal, not having much interest specially in me, remarked that I could read that at any time, which time has never come, to my lifelong regret.
I did a little drawing. I could copy quite well, but there was no artistical taste born with me. I had a natural aptitude for the fundamentals, and was quick to learn and the leader in classes at the District School, but this was my first introduction to a boarding school, and as I was not a regular (boarding outside of the institution and partly working my board in an undesirable family), I did not enjoy or make much progress in the six weeks that I was in the school.
In June my brother and I drove up to Readfield for a visit. My uncle had employed for a housekeeper a woman from a good respectable family, whom he married some days after we returned from our visit there. Grandmother Case had evidently grieved very much for us, our going away, and our mother’s marrying and taking us, whom she had loved so deeply, away. The morning we started back she went to her trunk where she had a little savings and took out some change to give us. Hiram, my brother, was born there and up to the time we moved away she always wanted to hold him in her lap every day when there was no one around to remark about the overgrown baby.
In August a messenger, Mr. Peter Sanborn, came to tell us that our grandmother had passed away. She was taken ill with a summer complaint and lived but a short time. Mother and we children of course went up at once and got there the day of the funeral. Aunt Harley, the oldest living daughter, I remember was there, and as I suppose were also Aunt Lane and Aunt Prescott and Aunt Yeaton and their husbands. I do not remember about any other grandchildren being there besides ourselves. I do not remember what minister officiated at the funeral.
Grandfather felt the desolation that death always brings to the aged
whose lives are sundered after many years of close and pleasant companionship. Once, I did not reason with this subject as I do now. When old age has crept on and the friends of our youth have passed beyond out sight, and the last link is broken as the strong earthly arm is gone, Werealize the bereavement more than we would, had not long years cemented the ties. Attentive children and grandchildren, with a fixed determination to be passive under the blow that strikes, and an acquiescence in the Divine will are compensations that call for gratitude, and a willingness’ to wait our own appointed time.
Grandfather, though fond of people younger than himself, hardly could endure a cheerfulness that engendered smiles; and laughter was rebuked by him. And after grandma died he said he did not see "how any one could smile again". He was always interested in bees. there was an old superstition (I do not know as it was called by that name) that bees must be told when the head of the family dies, for if you did not they would desert the hive. I think grandpa had Uncle Elisha go out and tell them the next morning after grandma passed away, "Joanna Case is dead." Later on, Mary herself, when her husband died went out to the beehives to tell the bees that Cyrus was dead.
Mother had a serious illness after the funeral, before she went back to Brunswick. I do not remember when she went back It rather seems that Deacon Snow came for her. I do not remember when I returned Uncle F. wanted my brother and me to stay with them, but it was decided for my brother to remain, and he went to school from there the next winter, I think.
This fall of ‘46 I went to Topsham Academy to school. I boarded in one of the first families of Topsham. They had two daughters at home near my own age. Mrs. Barron was a nice motherly woman and ambitious for her children, and very kind to me. I suppose why they took me into the family was because they were Baptists and knew Deacon Snow, and possibly my Grandfather Case, and Elder Case’s name, among Baptists, was about all one needed as an introduction to a home. I have myself traveled in my younger years on that reference.
The school, kept by a student of Bowdoin College, did not seem to amount to much. I cannot recall any lesson or study that I had any zest in, but my life with the Barrons was very pleasant. That winter I went to the District School, which I enjoyed, and in the spring I went to the village to learn a dressmaker’s trade with a Miss Hall. She was a very nice woman and I learned how to sew, as well as other matters. I worked with her at this time only six weeks, for I was to teach school that summer, in West Bath, then I was to come back in the fall and finish my trade.
The reader will probably draw a long breath here, to think that I should consider teaching at this age, my fifteenth year. I draw a long breath
myself as I go back sixty-seven years to fix dates and figure if I am correct.
I am sure I had teaching on the brain, for before I was fourteen, I heard a man who was a school agent say that he wanted to find a teacher for a certain school. I took courage to ask if I could not have it. He said he did not doubt that I had education enough, but he thought I was rather young. But the next spring my opportunity came.
Albion Snow, whom you know as Dr. Snow, lived in our neighborhood at Brunswick and was a school teacher. He had taught school in Bath and he was interested in getting a teacher for an outlying district. He first recommended Lucy Skofield, a dear friend of mine. She did not wish to take it; then he called and talked with me and I engaged to take the school at one dollar a week and board (they provided me board in a nice family at one dollar and twenty-five cents per week). When the agent came to take me to the school he inquired my age as we were riding along and when I told him he said I had better keep it secret as he had no idea I was so young. He evidently thought I should be likely to fail in discipline.
The governing of the school, the strength and ability to correct and punish misdemeanors and failures in the children, with ferrule and switch, seemed to be the requisites for the successful teacher. Discipline was the one thing most needful in the school in those days. I had that idea myself, that good discipline should be maintained, and in the few years that I had lived, I had picked up from different teachers, some of the better ways of bringing ready obedience about, and that summer with the school that registered twenty-three in number, I had little trouble in governing and rightly controlling my children.
The school, I think, had been under good discipline the previous winter and that made it all the easier for me and it seems then if the teacher was only thorough and positive and systematic in her teaching and requirements, that she could get along without much real book knowledge and give good satisfaction. It was necessary then for the teacher to have a good sharp pen knife so as to be able to make a good pen out of a goose quill. Steel pens had hardly come into use then. I was afraid of my ability in this respect but succeeded beyond my expectations.
I was fortunate in having a good home in Captain Nathaniel Coombs’ family. I did some dressmaking for some of the parents that summer of ten weeks by the ocean’s side and had a good report of teaching ability. I got through with this first experience before I was fifteen years of age; and I was just in love with teaching. That fall I finished learning the dressmaker’s trade and did some work in the neighborhood at home. Then I attended school in the home district that winter and went to a singing school, and later on went up to Readfield and had so serious a sickness there that I believe mother came up to see me. Brother Hiram, I think, had gone back to Brunswick to live.
That next summer (i.e., in 1848) I taught in a District School near
home, where I had an experience of boarding around. The second home I was forced to introduce myself to, had a small boy whose parents, if they did not actually teach him to swear and use profane language, laughed at his vocabulary of swear words as though it was an indication of a bright child, and I think he made trouble for me when I controlled his will in school.
There were some nice families in the district, but I found always in my experience of picking up my living this way that usually the families where I would choose to stay the longest had the fewest children in school. Teachers would often be thrown into awkward situations, often having the feeling that they were unwelcome visitors, and revolving in their minds the apportioned days for the scholars in the family and what course in the meal their appetite should or would conflict with- a complex fraction. But there were homes cordial in their attitude and often insistent in prolonging your stay with them and relieving the mind of haunting possibilities that might prevail in some other assigned place.
After this second summer of teaching I lost some of my enthusiasm for teaching, but the next winter when I was attending our public school, I was urged to take a small school in a near-by district, which I did. I taught that same school summer and winter, boarding around always, for several terms. I went to a Teacher’s Institute at Cray one fall, I think in ‘48, and got helpful suggestions that I carried out in practice immediately.
I taught one summer at Bunganuck, rather a difficult school, but some very nice people, and one summer and winter at Pennellville. This was a very desirable little school, only nine pupils and all Pennells but one, and that one a mother, a married sister of the Pennells, who were all shipbuilders. I also taught on the River Road, as it was called, two long terms. In these five districts in Brunswick I always boarded around, excepting one winter, and I have experience enough to relate to make a small volume.
I went in the fall and spring months to Yarmouth Institute to school, taught by Mr. George Woods. Here I enjoyed life as never before as scholar and student with those of my own age, and formed friendships which are lasting. I now recall but four of the number who are living, Miss Beulah Small, with whom a close friendship has been maintained all these years; Esther Frost Buxton, a widow living with her daughter in New York; Simon W.C. Hathaway, a bachelor lawyer, living in Boston; and Henry Newbegin, a judge of the Supreme Court in Defiance, Ohio. Dr. Alfred Mitchell, a native of Yarmouth, now practicing physician in Brunswick, is another. And I recall another, Prudence Grant Metcalf, living in Winthrop, Maine, the mother of Haven Metcalf, who has made himself quite famous as a botanist and in other ways, now living in Washington, D.C.
In the early district and town schools, I can recall but a very few who are now living. Elizabeth Melvina Morrill and Mary Ann Morrill were of that number of my close friends; both lived beyond their three score years and ten and have died within three years. Hulda White Poole, a little more than a year younger than I, is living, as, I believe, is Hannah Blair Holmes. There are the school friends of the East Readfield school, but the large families of the Maces and Cases and a score of others have gone to their long homes.
At Brunswick there are Sally Snow Parsons, Sophia Matthews Raymond, and Lydia Raymond, whose married name does not come to mind, who I think are living. I go to the cemeteries as I can year after year and read the names on the tombstones of these friends of my youth who are numbered with the dead. I often wonder why I should yet remain and what I am now doing for the good of humanity. It is true that I enjoy life, and why should I not, with the kindest of children to watch over my declining days and to keep my footsteps from falling.
If I go on with my record as teacher I will state that I taught in five of the public schools in Brunswick, in three of the districts more than one term. This was after my first experience in West Bath; then later on, I was for two terms pupil and assistant teacher at Yarmouth Institute for two terms, then assistant teacher for two terms in what was then called Lewiston Falls Academy. After that, one winter, for a short time I had a private tutor in Latin in Auburn before going to Mt. Holyoke Seminary in the winter of 1855. I was there, excepting vacation time, until the spring of 1857 when a sickness which proved to be scarlet fever broke out in the school and as one of the pupils had died a vacation was declared.
I never went back to the school and student life again. I came on to East Cambridge and visited with my friend Joanna Haynes, at her father’s, who, I was surprised to find, had a new wife instead of a daughter to preside over the household. I think I was there about three weeks for I was waiting for my Uncle James Rockwood to come on from New York and bear me company to Maine. I had arranged with my cousin, Nancy Weston, to make my home there for a time, for my mother, of whom I will write later on, had left Brunswick and Deacon Snow and was living at Uncle Elisha Case’s. As I did not want to burden that family so increasingly large, I thought I would take care of myself, and I found a welcome at my favorite cousin’s home and she was glad of my help and company.
I had been there but a short time when Mr. Jacob Pope, who was school agent in Manchester, came and engaged me to take the school there. The term was fifteen weeks; there was one week vacation in haying time. After its close I went up to Farmington to visit my aunt and mother, who was then there, and incidentally I went to Wilton to a Teachers’ Institute.
There, to my surprise, was your father, whose acquaintance had been
forced upon me in a peculiar way years before, and, at that particular time, the last person I wanted to meet! But the plans of Omniscience could not be frustrated, as these after years now testify. And the courage and perseverance and faith and hope that your father conceived should encourage other perplexed ones. That winter of ‘57 and ‘58 I taught school in my native town, Belgrade. I had this desire to teach one term in the school district where I was born, and it was an easy matter to secure this place.
It was a small school of pupils, the greater part of them not younger than twelve years of age, and I enjoyed it much. I boarded in my Uncle John Rockwood’s family. Two of the sons, who went to school to me that winter, promising young men, died of consumption before reaching their majority. Their sister Mary, now Mrs. Elbridge Tracy of Mount Vernon, is still living though she was quite a delicate child. Minot Rockwood, living in Waterville, is the only other member of this family. think I have but two own cousins, besides these, who are living; they are Aunt Eunice Yeaton’s two daughters. I have a number of second cousins
I have spoken of my mother’s foolish second marriage, and 0 Deacon Snow’s son who so terrorized her as to drive her almost to insanity, which resulted finally in Uncle Elisha’s going to Brunswick and bringing her back to the old home, and although my brother and I were welcome there, it was not really the place for any of us. I never felt that had a home in reality; when I was away teaching or attending school was a dark shadow to my life to think I had no home to go to in vacation or at other times, and as mother had not courage enough to buy a little place, I began in this winter of ‘57 and ‘58 to think seriously of getting married and making a home for myself.
I was a silly girl, full of visions and dreams, with only a superficial education. I was, as a girl, fond of men, but I wanted for my friends among both sexes the brightest and best. The dull scholars in my classes had no attraction for me and it seems as though I hardly held a friendly spin for them. I had wrong ideas instilled in my mind, and was satisfied with and desired to have, a choice few particular friends rather than the friendship of the many.
I was always a great hand to be influenced by others, to follow their ways, provided I admired them as individuals. I thought a great deal of my Uncle Elisha and I tried even to have wrinkles in my forehead like his, and he had a few chosen intimate friends and would hardly notice others, so I thought that was the right thing for me to do. He never said much to us children, but whenever he did, we would treasure his words, and we would no more have thought of going contrary to his wishes than we would of breaking one of the commandments. In those early years I never heard a profane word from his lips, or not many other words, and as his
failings were not dwelt much on by the household, I seemed to think he was perfect I remember when my attention was called to his faults by a neighbor who had been a schoolmate with him. I did not like to hear the criticisms; it seemed to wound me. I was then very sensitive in such matters, while now I am more apt to see blemishes and am apt to indulge a critical spirit.
But I am digressing. I must begin to tell you, Mabel, my fourth daughter, how I became the wife of your beloved father. Our acquaintance and marriage is quite a romance and it needs a brighter mind and more facile pen than mine to show how an unfavorable first impression may in the end merge into an abiding love. It was characteristic with me to have some one friend of the opposite sex to center my thoughts upon. I was always in love with somebody, and because I wanted only one particular friend at a time, the attentions that I received were quite marked. You would think your mother quite a flirt if I should name three or more who at different times I had set my heart upon, but, as it turned out, I was not to link my life with anyone but your dear father.
I think it was in my seventeenth year those giddy years - that I received a letter that greatly surprised me, for I had never heard of the author. He wrote from Winthrop saying that he had heard of me through a dear friend. This friend, I subsequently found out, was a dear sister who, when teaching school in Belgrade, boarded at my cousin’s, where I visited at the time, in my fourteenth year, perhaps. I do not remember all the contents of the letter, but I think that he said in this opening chapter of the forced acquaintance that he would have occasion to pass through Brunswick soon and he would take the liberty to call, and closed the letter by the words, "Your sincere friend and admirer".
I suppose I replied in some way to this introductory announcement, for one cold day a stranger came and instead of driving into the yard, fastened his horse at the gate by the road, making by this one act a favorable impression on Deacon Snow as not a young man wanting to show off. He was selling table oilcloths for Charles Bailey and was also agent for the Maine Farmer. He stopped to dinner and covered a table and light-stand for mother with this goods and gave a receipt to Mr. Snow for the paper, and wished to see me alone a few moments, when he presented me with that fine morocco-covered book "The Rose of Sharon" that you have always seen in the house.
I seemed to accept the book in a matter of fact way, but was very indifferent to this tall homely stranger in his homespun clothes. I cannot see how he could get any satisfaction from that visit. He was on his way to Harpswell. Possibly Mr. Snow might have asked him to call again, but I think no one else did. Strange to relate, after that he wrote me again and again, and talked about marriage and spoke of a new house in the village that we could occupy.
This was before he had failed in the oilcloth business, and though h was naturally a reserved man, he persisted in writing me quite an autobiography of himself that I had not much interest in reading. He ha( very evidently set his mind and heart on me and his persistency to accomplish the task, to win my affections, was very remarkable, considering my indifference. He came to Brunswick more than once. Iwould not give him an opportunity to see me alone. One winter when I was teaching school in Brunswick two miles from home, who should appear at the place where I was boarding but this stranger (?) who inquired of Mary Rockwood. I went to the door and it is cruel to say that I did not invite him in. Why should he be troubling me so I thought.
I had hardly ever noticed him, excepting to reply to some of hi letters and expressing in unmistakable language my positive aversion to him. Every time I opened the Maine Farmer that kept coming to Deacon Snow’s address, I hoped I might read his marriage notice and so should be clear of such persecution. There is quite a story of his hardship that winter’s day, before he reached the Bunganuck District. I do no know why he took the cars to Winthrop, or why, when he reached Yarmouth junction and found that the cars were blocked by the heavy snowfall, that he walked the whole distance to Brunswick, and, whenhe reached Deacon Snow’s, finding I was not there to "welcome" him, he walked through the drifted snow two miles down toward the sea.
I say I do not know why he did this; it is one of the mysteries, forhe had not one reason to expect a warm greeting from a smiling maiden and I have thought that if he had not had a settled faith, combined with a determination to work out, himself, this complex problem and kindle a flame of love in the heart of Mary Rockwood, that cold heartless reception that winter’s night, when he must have been weary with the fifteen mile walk, a flame, the antipode of love, would have become the ruler 0 his heart.
I do not like to think that I seemed not to have any pity for him. I think my mother was visiting up to Aunt Lane’s at that time, for my aunt wa5 very sick, and Deacon Snow was boarding with Catharine and, as I think it over, it must have been quite an infliction, with her four or more small children and with her limited rooms, to have this stranger in addition. I think her husband was at home then, and he undertook to enlighten your father in regard to my deficiencies; one thing, he said, I was not fit for a farmer’s wife for I did not know how to milk. Your father was not in the habit of repeating bad news, but sometime afterwards he wrote me and put in this comment, which always seemed a climax to the statement, that he "did not know what was required in the aristocratic town of Brunswick, but in the good old-fashioned farming town of Winthrop, it was not thought it was woman’s duty to milk the cows."
I believe the next summer he came to Brunswick again and I amalmost sure I would not see him at all. Deacon Snow seemed to like him
and I think my mother always treated him well. Mother was always glad to see anyone from Readfield or Winthrop so as to hear about the old friends there. Uncle Elisha had taught school in the district and your father and Aunt Ann and I think, some other members of the family went to school to him, so we learned something about the family. Of course, being only a little more than thirteen years of age when my mother committed that folly of marrying again, I knew but few people. I had never been to Winthrop Village; this seems almost strange even to myself, for grandfather always went to mill there, so it seems that I would have had the opportunity sometime to go with him.
When I received the first letter from your father, followed by that first visit, I had got interested in my friends and schoolmates and studies and all that contributed to the life and success of this academical school, and this strange man from Winthrop seemed like an interpolater, an intruder. This tall, large man, with a curve in his neck, which a stranger would notice at once, and no special attraction in his face, in his plain homespun but serviceable and clean clothing, I hardly deigned to notice. I laughed not with him but about him.
He was never sensitive to slights or indifference, and in my twenty-two years of the afterwards closest acquaintance with him, I found this man of few words did not reach his purposes by argument, but brought out the results he aimed for in material matters by a quiet determination. He was full of schemes - not all of them right reasoning. To instance one of these, the building of an oilcloth factory, expecting to make better oilcloth and compete with Charles and Moses Bailey, who had been manufacturing them for years. Almost immediate disaster followed this enterprise, partly due to his associate partner, who was a man of means but who died in a short time after they had gotten established in business.
There was a law suit pending in this which was not settled until after we were married in 1858. Your father had failed in business and sold out at a great sacrifice some time before this. After his failure he went to some place not far from Boston (Dedham) to work for a Mr. Talbot, who was in the same business, his object being to raise money to pay off mortgages on home property and other debts. While there he wrote to my address at Mt. Holyoke. I do not think I replied to his letter more than to return it.
Soon after, however, in’57, as I came to Manchester, he called to see me at Cousin Nancy’s. He was not invited into the house. Cousin Nancy, one time soon after, asked Mrs. Fillebrown about him and the family. Mrs. Fillebrown was a good Universalist and a very active member in the church, and your father was superintendent of the Bible School, and she had nothing but words of praise for him. "Why," she said, "Last fall at the Teachers’ Institute he brought down the house (on some preliminary paper, I presume, addressed to the feminine members in the audience)
by saying to create good teachers he would be willing to do what Benjamin West’s mother did to encourage him to be a painter." Think of this tall, awkward man breathing out this simile! But Mrs. Fillebrown’s comment, that had a weight with Cousin Nancy, was that "he was plenty good enough for Mary Rockwood". I thought it implied a doubt of my being good enough for him. And Cousin Nancy said, "What if he had failed in business? It showed that he had some enterprise."
I have spoken of seeing him at Wilton in the fall of ‘57 at a Teachers Institute. His sister Ann was quite sick when he was leaving home, and his mother and others in the family were opposed to his leaving them in their trouble, but the sick sister said, "Let him go; perhaps he will find someone and so get his mind away from Mary Rockwood." She felt that she was the one to blame for her brother’s unabated interest in one who cared nothing for him. She was to have been married that autumn, but death claimed her sooner. Her first husband, who lived only three weeks after their marriage, had been dead several years, and she was and had been a successful teacher for many years and was lamented by all who knew her.
I think your father wrote me soon after this great sorrow and, m~ heart being touched, I wrote him a letter of sympathy. This, I suppose encouraged him to suppose that my heart had softened toward him, and when I was teaching in Belgrade the following winter, he wrote me saying he was traveling in some of the towns and counties as agent for the Maine Farmer. I do not remember any particular point in that letter but soon after I had another one. Uncle Elisha was representative from Readfield to the Legislature that winter and making his headquarters at a hotel in Augusta, and Mr. Robbins wrote me something like this "Supposing your uncle at Augusta should send for you (naming the date and time) to come to the Universalist Levee, would you accept the invitation?" I replied in the same manner and accepted.
"Levees" as they were called in those years were the great occasions in winter time. They were like fairs and this one at the State Capital was to be, and proved itself to be, a great affair. About the time my school closed, that cold wintry afternoon, your father appeared at Uncle John Rockwood’s where I was boarding, and after having an early supper, we started on the twelve mile ride. It was not the best of sleighing for the snow was deep, but we got to the city in due time, for we had a goon stable team, and went up on the hill to the hotel where Uncle E. boarded, and called on him. We left our extra wraps there, I believe. I had an enjoyable evening, meeting some people among the representatives that I knew and who were interested in me. Your father had taken from home his own team and carried Mary Linda, his brother Franklin’s widow, to Augusta to attend the Levee. This was the first time I had met any one of his family, excepting the sister whom I did not remember
We stayed at the Cony House because I think he had his team in their stable. I heard him tell the clerk to give me a quiet room. I do not know how near his room was to mine. I think this was the second time only that I had slept in a hotel, the first being at Springfield, Mass., when I was traveling to South Hadley, Mass. At the Cony House I had to get up early the next morning, before light, to get back to Belgrade to teach that day. I found in dressing that there were no towels in my room. I rang for them, but the boy who brought them along could not at first find the number of my room. We had an early breakfast, but I believe I was a half hour late to my school.
As I analyze a growing change of attitude toward this persistent man, I explain it in this way. I had reached my 26th year. I had never had a real desirable home and I began to think if I ever had one I must get married and create one myself, but I recognized love as the essential of happiness. I was a sentimental child and do not think I had developed into true womanhood, and do not know as I ever have, but that winter I had some food for reflection. Here I was away from intimate friends of my own age, and, aside from my little school, there seemed to be no one of the younger set to associate with.
As I had no "beaux" and hardly a person in that sparsely settled school district to interest themselves or show much attention to the teacher of their children, I rather sighed for companionship, and came to the conclusion I would get married. I shall have to acknowledge it was your father’s goodness that in the end conquered my pride and won my heart One thing that he wrote me that spring impressed me for its pathos: how, when he was attending school at Belgrade Academy, he went to the cemetery and knelt by my father’s grave and pleaded for my love. Who that had a heart would not be affected by such an avowal as that?
It may be that the death of his favorite sister, who had told him when but a child in years that she wished he could marry Mary Rockwood, served to keep centered in his heart a continued thought of me. One evening as he looked up to the starlit sky he said to himself, "I suppose it is as impossible for Mary Rockwood to love me as it is for one of those stars to drop from the sky." And immediately a star scintillated and shot across the heavens. With his strong inherent religious nature, this sudden occult exhibit inspired hope, and I have no doubt he said, "God be praised."
He had at times invited me to go to see his home and his parents, and in April, one Saturday afternoon, as he returned from Augusta I went with him. Besides the father and mother, his brother’s widow and Freddie, her little boy, four or five years old, were there. The father and mother were dear old people. They wanted to talk about the daughter
Ann who had died the fall before, and Sunday morning I was giventhe little book to read where your grandfather had written all the particular’ of her sickness and death. Your grandfather impressed me with hi’ goodness as he did everyone.
At devotions, after reading Scripture selections, I am not sure whether he offered a vocal prayer, or read one from the Universalist collection. I know I enjoyed this form of worship for a family and thought I should adopt it in the home of my own if I ever had one. You father had made a fire in there "fore- room", as the best room in the house used to be called, so we repaired thither and sat up until a late hour, and at that time I experienced quite a radical change of heart toward the unchangeable man, and thought then that I could give my heart with my hand for the journey of life with him whose love for me had never wavered. He surely had conquered.
The next day we went to the Universalist Church. Your Aunt Jerusha Williams, who with her husband were managers at the Town Farm, came over in the morning and Aunt Jerusha and Aunt Mary Linda walked to meeting while your father and I rode. There used to be two services In’ churches in those days, and at noon we went and called on Lizzie Merrill. Your father would like to have introduced me to several people, but I gave him to understand that I did not wish him to, and by taking the noon time to make this call, I was saved some embarrassment.
Following the afternoon meeting we went back to "Orcha Dale", as your father called his farm, and we had a late dinner. The Chandlers were quite apt to speak out plainly, and Mary Linda was quite sensitive and ready for retort, so when your father said at the table as he was eating a goodly shaped but cold buttermilk biscuit, "Mother, I do not admire your bread," Mary Linda, who had evidently made the bread the day before, as quick as thought, said, "Well, if you do not like my bread, get somebody else to make it." Aunt Jerusha and, I think, Uncle Otis were at the table. This, of course, was very embarrassing for me, as my conscious blushes indicated.
I think the family all criticized her, and she afterwards apologized to me. I believe I told her that I thought they were good, but did not dare to tell my convictions that the faultfinding man would think himself lucky if he had as good bread as that to eat later on. Another showing up of the nice, neat, systematic Chandler regularities in comparison with the Robbins disorderly ones, was in regard to some books and papers of your father’s which were scattered around. She said she would not pick them up for she wanted to impress me with his failings.
According to the 1856 map of Winthrop. the Town Farm was on the same road as the Rohhins’ house, hut farther east.
This home place was a cottage house. As I call to mind on this first visit, there was a little old shed, projecting east, and I think you could enter the house from it. There was an east door to the main house and I think that this door opened right into the kitchen; this, you know, when the house was repaired before our marriage, was our parlor. The house must have been unhandy throughout. Their parlor was our sitting room and there was a small bedroom which opened out of this where I slept the first night I stayed there, and the only time before the house was changed over.
I think there must have been a kitchen bedroom. It strikes me now that there were no conveniences, and most everything outside, except the one good barn, evidenced a run-down condition. This property on the north side of the road did not originally belong to the Robbins estate, hut different parties had owned it. The old Robbins house across the way stood intact with its large comfortable rooms, unoccupied at the time of my first visit, but my Cyrus said that his father and mother proposed, if he were married, to move over there and keep house by themselves, which I think was the best thing for them and us.
After this visit I was ready for most everything, and so was your father. He said he should have men go right to work changing over and fixing up the house. He was in the habit of coming often to see me at Manchester, but I do not remember of making suggestions myself about the changes he was making. I think I did not dwell much on the fact that at this time of the year a poor farmer would need to be tending to his farming operations. I think I rather thought he could even neglect some planting until later on, as he surely did, when he was found planting potatoes the 23rd of June.
But the course of events does not always run smoothly. The scarlet fever broke out in a family of our closest friends. There were three bright children that went to school to me the summer before, who lived with their aunt and grandmother. They were little girls of the ages of ten and eight and five. The eldest was deformed; she had curvature of the spine and could never sit down at school or anywhere. But the disease attacked first little Emma who was the healthiest one of all. They were all very fond of me and I went to the house and was there a great deal of the time assisting the family what I could.
Cousin Nancy, who had always made it a great point to visit the sick, was pregnant at the time, about four months along, and it was not best that she should go and expose herself. She had been married more than ten years, and now no one but her husband and me knew her condition. She did not know what people would think of her not tending out on the sick Jewett children, but thought maybe I could cover the situation. She probably cooked and sent dainty things by me. Little Emma grew very sick and after a few days of suffering died. I followed in the procession to the grave, riding with Cousin Nat Weston.
While we were in the cemetery a very sick feeling came over me, that I think I did not mention to anyone, but all night in bed I suffered alone with a burning fever and feverish thirst, so that in the morning it was evident I had caught the fever. Dr. Hubbard of Hallowell was called Ann after some delay my brother brought Nancy Judkins to help Cousin Nancy abut the work and take care of me. I was quite seriously sick for several days and took more allopathic medicine probably than I have ever taken since. Of course your father was all anxiety.
He watched with me one night, but as the cousins thought I was not so well the next day, they thought it should not be allowed again. I thought it was hard for him to be denied if he thought it a privilege Your Aunt Jerusha and Mary Linda called to see me and they thought I was very sick. I do not know how long it was before I was able to sit up and be dressed, but I think sometime before the middle of May. We had fixed the month of June for our wedding. Your father was pleased with the idea of being married the same month and date that his parents were
In those years a bridal trip was not in evidence as now. The ambition was satisfied and happiness secured if one could marry well and have c home and the comforts of life in prospect. I thought of home as a place where I should delight to entertain my choice friends and show my ability to provide for the material part of life besides cultivating the greatest gift of all - charity - that love that passeth knowledge.
My wedding trousseau was not much. I had a few hundred dollars of my own and I could have spent it all on clothes. I am rather sorry to say that all my life long I have cared very little for clothes, i.e., I have not cared for gaudy or fanciful clothing, and I have many times bought second-hand clothing of a serviceable kind, and you will laugh when I tell you that I bought a second-hand dress from an old lady, c checked brown and light golden color silk dress, to be married in It was about the length that is worn now, but it was a little short for that period and occasion. I had a large handsome "visited", as it was there called; it was an outside summer wrap. No one in those days appeared dressed without wearing something over her shoulders.
This had a nice wide silk fringe for trimming and was made up of lace and buttons and ribbon, the nicest of anything I ever had for summer wear. I do not know what finally became of it. I had a very pretty white silk bonnet, the most bridal thing I had to appear out in. I had a new black silk dress, skirt separate and very full and the basque made with very large flowing sleeves faced to the elbow with white silk or satin. Then I had a pretty blue and white messeline and a dark print for everyday wear.
These were all the new dresses I had, but you know that I had some night dresses that have never worn out, and other good white goods ware. I thought much of having nice bedding; as you know I have some still in evidence after fifty-six years of wear. Table linen arid solid silverware among my desires more than clothes. My dishes were not Haviland china, but plain serviceable white ware, a very complete set of a hundred or more pieces. I knew nothing of cut glass, but with my knowledge now, I would not exchange those few nice pieces of matched pattern of glassware for all the cut glass one could bring me, if it had to be in common use. I wanted nothing nicer in glassware and some of my friends while admiring it have asked if it was not cut glass, it had such a clear brightness.
I think not many young house keepers, or old ones, ever took more pride in a well-set dining table than I did. This was one of my inheritances. Cousin Nancy gave me credit for this one gift, if it may be called so, and said she wished she would ever set a table to look like mine. I got encouraged in this matter when I was quite young by Mrs. Hunt, who thought I had quite a faculty in placing dishes on the table.
I seem to have passed over some important preliminaries before my wedding day, as well as that one day of import of my life that seems to concern you all. I had been to Augusta and bought my dishes, and a chamber set and sofa and upholstered chairs, and perhaps selected paper for the parlor and bedroom. The Saturday before we were married Tuesday, Cousin Nat took the furniture and the dishes and so forth, out to "Orcha Dale" and stayed and helped your Aunt Jerusha paper the rooms.
Your father had got the work along so that the house could be occupied. A cooking stove had been bought and set up. Some of mother’s housekeeping equipment such as beds and bedding had been moved over from Uncle Elisha’s, and I had bought carpeting and made a carpet for the parlor, and bought a second-hand one and a lounge for the sitting room, so that three carpets were put down, two beds made up and the new dishes all washed and put away before the 22nd of June.
At the close of the first volume of the events of my life, I am brought to the evening of the 22nd of June, 1858, when in my 26th year I was united in marriage to your father, who was my senior by more than four years. It seemed best that we should be married at the Congregationalist parsonage by Mr. Sawyer, who was the pastor of the church of that denomination.
It would have been a matter of convenience to have had the Rev. Mr. Pierce, the pastor of the East Winthrop church, perform the ceremony, as we passed directly by his house on our way from my cousin’s home in
Manchester to our new home, but existing prejudices in the minds 0 some relatives influenced us in going some miles farther.
When your father went in the morning before the wedding to engage Mr. Sawyer, he learned that he was attending a convention at Augusta but a young lawyer friend, John May, volunteered to go to the city and bring him out, so he was at home when our party, consisting of you father’s two sisters and their husbands (Otis Williams and Augustu Thomas) and my brother, who was best man, and Emma Hewins, the bridesmaid, arrived After the usual congratulations, we all hurried back to the home where Cousin Nat and Cousin Nancy Weston and Father and Mother Robbins were waiting to receive us. We had some refreshments, but the only thing that I call to mind is the wedding cake, which was a nice tasty affair made by some expert in Augusta.
There are but three of that company besides myself now living, you Uncle Augustus, now past his 88th year, and his son, your own Cousin Frank, who must be past sixty years of age, and Emma Hewins Safford older than myself, living with her son George in Bangor. (Augustus died April 26,1916, very suddenly, and Emma in 1916, also.) I often wonder why my unprofitable life, a life so full of mistakes from my youth on, ha.’ been spared to this age, now in my eighty-fourth year. It is a reflection that sobers me.
Had not my six daughters developed into noble women, loved and respected wherever known, and all possessed with a true missionan, spirit, I might feel that my marriage was a mistake and my life wholly failure. But there is a Divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew there how we will", and I have always felt, in spite of so many contradiction, assertions before my marriage, that there was a Power above that planned the event that made me a happy wife and the mother of seven well-born and healthy children.
Fifty years ago the ideal life was a little home with all necessary comforts and a fond husband to guard and protect and help create happiness for the queen of the domain. I always had a fondness for housework in most of its phases, and my dream of real love in a cottage with a family of two, with all the comforts of life around, without that bugbear, hired help, which predominated in my childhood home and tended to create a drudgery of work, I never thought could be spoiled The little humble cottage made over new with its five rooms on thefirs floor glistening with paint and newly papered walls seemed like a palace to me, and it was a great delight to me to show these rooms and entertain my friends and impress them with my abilities in the culinary art. I alway5 liked to cook, so I was often hunting up new recipes and studying combines more than others did at that time.
This is one side of my story at housekeeping in the summer of 1858. Your father’s people had moved over across the way into the ancient house that was part of the original estate. These dear old people were pleased to have your father married and settled. We had a good many relatives to entertain that first summer, on both sides of the family. My mother came and lived with me the greater part of the time until my brother was married and settled on the Chandler place.
The first week of our marriage we had hired help and that same week I had for visitors and five o’clock supper your Aunt Adelia and Uncle Augustus and the baby boy Frank, who had come from Peru to be at the wedding, and your grandfather and grandmother, whom I always invited whenever any of their relatives came to see us, and I am not sure but Aunt Jerusha and Uncle Otis Williams were there, too.
I believe Uncle Augustus remarked later on to someone that I got up a fine supper for a beginner in housekeeping. Then a few days later on I had Aunt Eunice Shaw and Uncle Isaac, with father and mother Robbins, to supper. Your father’s relatives from Lowell, Mass., a number of them, dropped down upon us one Saturday afternoon. I had been making currant jelly that day, and was taking a bath when they came. I got dressed and made them as welcome as I could and went to find your father who was at work on the prairies*. Mother Robbins said they should have gone over there to visit with her instead of thrusting themselves upon me.
I of course felt much in awe of these city people and I suppose hardly felt I had anything quite nice enough to set before them. Then people lived sensibly, having their hearty meal at noon, and at five o’clock the ideal supper was warm biscuits and butter and honey, or preserves of some kind (canned fruit was not in evidence then), and several kinds of cake and custard pie or blanc-mange.
I have told you before this of my fondness for my Cousin Nancy and of my persistency in copying from her in all matters. As I had been living with her almost a year, after coming to Manchester from Mt. Holyoke Seminary, I began when housekeeping to repeat her ways. She sometimes, on certain occasions, made a cracker cream toast that I thought very fine.
So this time I thought I would treat these city people with this, my favorite food, and it was nice and inviting and enjoyed by all seemingly. After the meal, while the party were calling across the road, your father, instead of praising my efforts, told me he hoped I would never place so
*Located on what is now R. 135, the second house going north from corner of Narrows Pond Road and 135. There was a schoolhouse at the corner, according to 1856 map.
**The prairie must have been the name for the series of level fields to the south of the cottage.
poor a supper before his friends again. Of course it broke my heart and I cried about it.
As I think over the occurrence now, I guess there was one excuse for my tears, for I had only been housekeeping a short time, and I had bee making currant jelly which was new work for me, and the day was Saturday and I must have been tired out before I got the supper, and then to have this damper on my supreme effort, when I usually had praise, moved the woman’s weapon and solace within me; but my tear were not mixed with anger and, unlike Aunt Ellen’s running large and furious, mine were small and cringing, as if afraid of wasting the fountain. In a few weeks the Plaisteds and Wiggins repeated their visit bringing more with them, so they had survived the cracker toast and were ready for more. I heard some such remark as this, "Cousin Cyrus has got a good cook as well as a good wife."
I had a good deal of company that were not relatives. One of the times that the Wiggins were there, Mrs. Hewins (Fred’s mother) was spending the day, bringing Mrs. Phillips from Manchester. Later two of my pupils came with a team and stayed all night. Mrs. Nat Wing and Mrs. Rufus Brainard came for a visit in August, I think, and thought I vet in a dreadful lonely place; they did not see how I could be contented there.
Lucy Libby from Brunswick came and stayed one week or so, an Augusta Davis and Beulah Small both visited me that summer. Uncle John Rockwood’s family, all six of them, singly, visited us that summer and fall. I had boarded with them in the winter, and Aunt Susan, who seldom ever went away from home, said if I got married and lived any where near them, she certainly should go to see me, and she made me two visits. They thought a great deal of your father and he of them, and while they and he lived we made their house our headquarters when we went to Belgrade.
I cannot begin to recall all the visitors we had that first summer, ant I cannot now understand how I could go over to the Case place berryin1 and pick berries and bushels of peas to sell as I did. We sold a good many peas for fifty cents a bushel. They were the Champion of England the best peas then raised. I used to carry apples to market then, for you know we had a good deal of early fruit I never was ashamed to do marketing then any more than I am now of canvassing in a good cause
I have digressed, but I do not want to forget the Rockland relative who came to visit us before long, and ever after, from time to time they would come over to Cousin Nancy’s and she would come with
them to our house, and the house would shake with laughter from one end to the other. It was as good as a circus always when George Case came; such stories, such original ideas, with reminders of those who had passed away. It was at Cousin Ann Gay’s suggestion that Olive was called by the name she bears.
There were no relatives on my mother’s side who could bring so much real fun and merriment with them as my Uncle Ambrose Case’s children. He married for his first venture into a Sawyer family in Litchfield. The Sawyers were cheerful Christians, always looking on the bright side of life, quite different from the desponding Cases. Uncle Ambrose was a good storyteller, and so their five children had a natural inheritance of wit and humor. There were as many as ten members of this branch of the Case family that visited me those first years.
Your father was a man full of new ideas, and there was no limit to his ambitions. He had a law suit pending that summer between himself and Jerusha Hayward that made it necessary for him and his father to go to Augusta for several days. Then, about that time, he got in touch with a man who had invented a rock-lifting machine. He corresponded with this Mr. Ellis who came to Winthrop, and the outcome was that the wonderful machine was purchased by your father and a Mr. Page of Augusta at a great cost, it seems to me nearly three hundred dollars; and your father at that time had many outstanding debts besides a mortgage of over two hundred dollars on our little edgy and rocky farm.
The State Fair that fall was held in Augusta and the machine was tested there, operating on what was and is now called the Chisam Farm. I think later on it did the most effective work on the "Orcha Dale Farm", as our place was christened then. The many rods of stone wall with the big boulders so prominent in its construction will always testify as long as the world stands to the possibilities of that farming implement. But it cost a great deal to operate it. Two yoke of oxen were required. Mr. Goodwin, Sarah Chandler’s father, from Litchfield, came with his ox team and lived with us seven days a week for some time.
Then we had two other men until one of them came home from the Readfield Fair, where the merits of the machine had that day been tested, so drunk that I made the mistake of not getting him a supper to sober him off. I had never seen anyone drunk before and your father had not returned and I was alone in the house. His companion, the other hired man said something about my getting supper. I do not know howl replied, but later they went across the road and your Grandmother Robbins got them something to eat The drinking man left the next morning
I am narrating this incident and others that came into my first months of married life to prove that it was not the ideal one that I had for
years pictured in my imagination. As the Spiritualists of Rockland, in calling on the spirit of Grandfather Case, who had been dead some years, and asking him about heaven, reported him as saying that he found things "very different there from what he expected", I could say the same of my paradise. In beginning married life in those years, a "honey moon" was occasionally spoken of, but a wedding trip or even a vacation seemed to be an unheard of affair. My outings in that month of June after the wedding the early evening of the 22nd, were a ride to Augusta on business after the five o’clock supper one night, and on another evening at my suggestion, a ride to the village around through Baileyville
I do not recall that at any time, in spite of my natural frailty and hard work and what some would regard as a fettered life, on a ledgy farm and for nearly twenty years an increasing family, I sighed for the other year when I was care free. I am quite sure that my courage, commencing
married life hampered by debts, was equal to your father’s. I had a little money of my own and I used it for these debts just as willingly as if the’ had been my own.
My mother and Uncle Elisha seemed to know of this and advised differently. They said what I now, with my experience, know to be true that a wife needs some money of her very own. I can see now that if had kept my few hundred dollars on interest up to this time, nearly fifty-seven years, at six per cent interest, and what money my mother left me almost forty years ago, and what money Aunt Goodrich’s estate granted, to say nothing of the wild land "speculation", I should have quite a little capital that I had come honestly by.
It might not add one jot to my happiness, but it would be remarked that I was in "comfortable circumstances". But I should be just a dependent, or more so, than I am now, I have been conscious the past year of my wasting faculties and of becoming somewhat of a burden to my devoted daughters. I do not like to have them think they have a duty to perform and must submit to it. This weighs down on my spirits more than anything, to think I am a care and not contributing to the comfort and enjoyment in my children’s families. Old people grow sensitive, suppose, but sometimes they discover through the grandchildren what the parents think and how they feel, and the aged ones should posses themselves with contentment and not suffer themselves to get despondent and unhappy, no matter what comes into their lives.
As a mother I have lacked patience, that most commendable virtue It is a grief to me now as I review the years with my growing family. Children came to our home in the years 59’ 63, 65, 69, 71, 76, and ‘77. There was a miscarriage in ‘60 and ‘64, caused both times by over lifting. All those years we had hired help. During most of those years
your father was away weeks at a time canvassing for newspapers. Before our marriage he had traveled winters for the Maine Farmer exclusively, but for many years before his death he canvassed for the Portland Transcript.
It was so good a salary - one hundred and one hundred twenty-five dollars a month, that it warranted him in hiring help on the farm; fourteen dollars a month was an outside price at that time. I paid off, with your father’s first earnings for the Transcript, the mortgage on the farm. This was in the summer of’ 60. I always encouraged him to leave to earn this salary even though I was left with four or more men laying stone walls and digging drains. I was expected to know how many rods of wall were being laid in a day, how many loads of dressing the men hauled out, go to mill, and go often to get the drills sharpened.
But the years are running away with me. I have spoken of your father’s ambitions and his perseverance, but I have not yet mentioned his inventions. He was always, it seems to me, filled with some idea either in the constructing of a farm implement or some thought with reference to schools in town, and state and government affairs, and it was always a thought in advance of the times and for the advancement of civilization and the betterment of the world.
I have previously spoken of his purchasing and operating a rock-lifting machine After a time his own inventive faculties made their appearance and he began to build a machine down to Monmouth at a Mr. Faribanks’ shop. I do not remember the outcome of that, but I think the two machines were in some way disposed of. Whatever your father did was done most effectually. That summer he was surveyor of the roads in that district. There had always been a wooden bridge between the Narrows Lakes, and at that time he and Thomas Hayward made a channel between the lakes wide enough for a small boat to pass, and from our farm drew those two large flat stones to cover the waters.
I thought then that eighteen dollars was a great price to get for stone which grew in our pasture, but it is more than fifty-seven years since they have held the way there, and really were worth one hundred dollars to the town. I think the next summer your father had some new idea for making a horse rake, but before he had his plan perfected and carried out, someone had got ahead of him on the same principle. And it was the same with a car shackling affair. He carried his to the village and had it tested and it seemed quite a success, but someone was ahead of him in that
Later on, I think it was the first years that mowing machines came into use, I had a young child and had several hired men, and your father brought home with him a stranger- he might have been a machinist- and
they went to Mt. Vernon to carry out some discovery in one of the operations of a machine, or build a machine with their own ideas. They did not know but they should be away a week I had no sympathy with such an undertaking not at all related to the conditions at home. But the party returned sooner than expected, apparently abandoning the idea of manufacturing a new kind of mowing machine, and I was a "Pollyanna".
The unfortunate reader of my trials of this kind has made the discovery before this that married life for me meant something more than a dream of protected happiness and ease and gratified ambitions, and that my pictured "love in a cottage" was only a fairy story. But there are pleasant memories on that hillside of my life that I would not exchange for an Eden of luxury elsewhere. If I was fettered by the children who crowded the nest, elastic as it seemed, they were golden bands, and the days had their delights as well as disturbances.
I learned quite early in my married life that people should not give themselves to despondency if they were disappointed in their plans for pleasure. I was naturally fond of society and places of amusement, of entertaining my friends and of visiting my neighbors; but your father was best contented and happy in the home, and one excuse for his seeming indifference to society in general and not caring for visiting was that he was away from home in the leisure months of the year that the farmer takes for vacation time and visiting, and when he returned home from canvassing he wanted to rest there with his family.
I, on the other hand, having the close confinement at home with the children in his absence, wanted a change, but reasoned myself into submission by thinking how glad I was that my husband loved his home and family in such measure that he had his full enjoyment centered there. I have no knowledge of a father of a family of seven children having more ambitions for his family than your father had. There was nothing too great for them to accomplish. At one time he spoke of publishing a newspaper, having a printing press and having his family all kept together in literary pursuits. He never dwelt on marriage for them; it seems now to me as though he would have them rely on their own capabilities.
His innate thought seemed always to pay a tribute to woman’s strength of character. That little poem,
"Be a woman, on to duty
Raise the world from all that’s low.
Place high in the social heaven
Virtue’s fair and radiant bow.
Lend thy influence to each effort
That shall raise our nature human.
Be not fashion’s gilded lady,
Be a brave, whole souled, true woman."
he often repeated to you children before its meaning was fully comprehended. And, as I have before stated, his thought was in advance of theyears, and now, after nearly thirty-six years, I can see the progress in many of the affairs of life which he stood almost alone in proclaiming and that his prophecies are having their fulfillment. Especially true is this of his attitude toward woman’s place in the world. He believed in woman’s rights. He used to say he wished I would go to Town Meeting with him. I think then in many ways he depended too much upon me for not often did he make any trade or engage in any new business without asking my advice. Even my ignorance he would want to educate
When he passed away and I was left with our seven children to provide for and carry on the farm, the application of your father’s training was as evident as though I had been in a school of self-reliance. I had been allowed to sell stock and farm produce when he was away from’ home, so that I gained a little understanding in the practical affairs of the home and farm. With an awakened interest, then, after his death I could carry on farming operations, keep the buildings in good repair pay my hired help wages that they seldom earned, support my family always kept at school, and paying my bills which, of course, included taxes and insurance.
For nearly twenty years in my widowhood I remained on the place, often taking summer boarders besides managing my dairy herd and averaging for a number of years more than a ton of butter annually that was made entirely without modern appliances if I except a butter-worker. A great deal of this butter I delivered myself to private families, in summertime leaving home as soon as I could get a man up to harness the horse. I think I never ate a mouthful of breakfast, though I made preparations for the family’s breakfast before leaving. The neighbors did not all seem to be in evidence in the early morning as I drove along, and I seldom met anybody on the road.
I remember of meeting Ganzelo White once when he was a butcher and had evidently very early in the morning been to Augusta to send dressed animals to Boston by the early train. I must not forget to impress you with the work of getting the butter ready for the individual customers. I always used to put my butter up, in those first years of dairying, in round balls, stamped, but the balls were not uniform in size and every lot had to be weighed separately.
In the summertime, after all the family were in bed, I would go down to the milk room, the narrow room with its whitewashed walls, and there shut in, tomb-like, with ten or more boxes and receptacles for butter, and two or three linen napkins wrung out of ice cold water for each box, I would begin my task Those packages were twice weighed; first I would weigh the boxes and napkins and have paper and pencil to mark the weight, then place the butter inside and weigh it again, and finally by a mathematical process I would get the net result.
If I had a surplus of butter I wholesaled it at one grocery store and if customers ran short before the two weeks passed they could find the Robbins butter at this store. I used, generally, unless I visited at Cousin Nancy’s, to get back at noon, then in the afternoon wash my napkins and butter boxes and so forth. The day your father needed several men’s help on the barn he extended in width, he wanted me to invite the men in the morning as I went along and I got back early and cooked a supper for quite a number of men, but not all stayed. Mr. Mank was one who did not; he was always afraid of making trouble.
You may be interested to know howl made my first venture in selling butter. For several years after we were married I do not think our few cows amounted to much to us. Father and Mother Robbins had one or more cows for themselves, and in the warmest weather she made a few cheese. I made some butter then that I blush to recall, as I partly remember Ransom Bishop’s criticisms on a lot that he bought of us, it was so white. After a few years our cows were improved and we began to arouse ourselves to their capabilities. In war times butter commanded a better price than ever before and farmers interested themselves in dairying
In our neighborhood Mr. Hamblen, Nathan’s father, was the first to take the initiative and sell his commodity to a popular grocery store in Augusta at a regular established price. After it was known what price he was getting others in the neighborhood wanted to get this patronage, but Mr. Hamblen said, "No, you cannot sell your butter where I do mine." Phebe Jones told him, in a friendly way, of course, that she "made as good butter as Christina".
Mr. Floyd started out "on his own hook". He thought it the best plan to get customers from the most particular families and keep them supplied regularly, and he followed this course for years. Instead of my beginning to sell my butter in Augusta I started in Hallowell. We had a painter and paper hanger from that city and we paid him quite largely in commodities from the farm, and I began to pick up other customers and people were pleased with my butter. One poor woman with a delicate appetite was always ready to pay me fifty cents a pound, and I had a few others who appreciated it. George White’s wife’s people patronized me while I went to Hallowell with produce.
In those years I had not the confidence in my own abilities as a dairy-woman, but after the purchase of Old Pansy of Lloyd Snell and improving our herd in all ways, I took to boasting of my cows, and through them won coveted honors. Mr. Guild of Augusta had a reputation for nice butter that was delivered to families, and when I was told by a judge of such matters that he considered my butter equally good and afterwards became a regular customer, I began to take some credit to myself. Mr. Nathaniel Pike of our town was one whom I competed with the first time
my butter was placed on exhibition at the Lewiston Fair; there were nice dairies represented by the Turner people, but it so happened that I won first prize over all. The next year the same was true when the Fair wasin Portland, only I was superlatively blessed there, winning three first premiums.
Myexcuse for dwelling at such length on butter making is that it ha.’ been the most important factor in providing for the material needs 0 my children. I do not know but if I had given my attention to raising strawberries and small fruits, I might have made a living for my family but I think, taking everything into consideration, this old way was the best
In concluding this butter story, which is really one with no ending for I am still interested in everything that pertains to this department of the farmer’s life, let me give the secret of my success. I will say it was no wanting praise only as a means to an end, that was to support my family and I sought criticism from every source and suggestions from judge.’ and experts. If others were getting fifty and seventy-five cents a pound for butter, why should not I?
I picked up valuable information little by little, in all possible ways that I carried right into practice, but it was not until after several year that I had the point given me by my respected friend, Mr. Briggs, an official of the Lewiston or Maine State Fair, that early cut clover hay gave the coveted aroma and flavor to butter. I gave this information away to competitor with me and he was not slow in adopting it, and, being a man he had advantages that I had not, for he would buy the early cu clover hay, when he did not have enough from his own farm, of hi neighbors, as he had a right to do.
In the same manner, where I had been the champion winner in other departments, I had helped others to be my competitors and often forestall me: Mrs. Hoyt, in the bread and cake department, and I believe generally for years on preserves and jellies and canned goods. She was a fine cook and very nice and particular in everything she did and I an’ glad to pay her this tribute in my autobiography. I go back to butter once more, for I do not think my children have ever realized the painstaking work there was in getting the butter ready for exhibition at the fairs in the different places and of the pains I took in having boxes covered with glass, besides the cost in money, but I am well paid by its attractive recommendation and premium dollars.
I got the hint of the glass covering at the Readfield Fair, of Mr. Augustus Parlin whose wife made the nice tasty-looking necessity for our bread and always deserved the highest tribute. She was a very ambitious woman on prices. I once told Mr. Parlin of someone getting a higher price than they were receiving and he said," Do not tell my wife." I think she was quite a frail woman and he did not want her to be more painstaking
than she was. Up to this time I believe I had never won a premium a the Kennebec Fair, though I had at the State Fair.
After this, in all the years, summer and winter, the Robbinsdale Farm Dairy was in evidence at the County Fair, at Lewiston and Bangor, at the midwinter dairy meeting in the different counties, and was at one time I believe, a winner over one hundred other dairies which included creameries. I never attended the Bangor Fair but sent my butter over and the dealers in the so called Bangor Salt, whose salt I used, looked after it, and I think it never failed of taking a first premium. The firm used to advertise their salt, using my name, and they several times sent me twenty boxes of salt with charges all paid. One of these lots, by an accident to the train at Maranacook, salted the waters there, but those Frosts sent another cargo. I used to give away and sell this salt outside of what I used.
Your father went once to the New England Fair holden in Manchester NH There was an old exhibitor in competition with me, who had always taken the first prize. I had a written statement and in it said the Bangor Salt was used for salting. That was unwise in me, seeing the Manchester was not a Maine town, and a question came up either b’ the judges or the competitors; they were not going to lose their prestige you see, but it did not prevent your father telegraphing me that my butter won first prize.
I think this was the first dispatch I ever had. When Alice came from school she brought it and she said she had a telegram for me. I was rather startled (I was down cellar at work). "Oh," she said, "it is nothing bad." Instead of your father meeting with an accident, he had sent the unlooked for good news. So it has generally been "good news" that I have had or wire and paper lines, for my encouragement There is certainly a stimulant in praise as well as in criticism. A psychologist could give a scientific explanation, and perhaps you can.
If I should call to your mind the different states where I have sent butter, in large and small quantities, of its tests in laboratories, of the letter:
of encomium from the far west where it was on exhibition (one write saying he would willingly pay seventy-five cents a pound for it if it had no been already sold), would you call it boasting?
I have a sort of storiette that has come to me that I want to write out, but it has no connection with butter, and this is the tenth of May, 1916, and must send it on to you by the afternoon mail. In these pages I have spoken of our hired help. Your father liked to have some elderly man to look after the stock and do the chores while he was away for the winter. This year in the month of December, 1864, he had not found such a man as he wanted
One day as he was going to Augusta, I took the opportunity to go down to Cousin Nancy’s to visit with her while he went to the city. This was about one month before Emma was born, There was plenty of snow on the ground and there had been cold weather enough to freeze the ponds and lakes and make good sledding. I think he made an arrangement with Cousin Nat to take his oxen home with him on his return.
On his ride he came across a traveler and offered him a ride. He was an Irishman, I believe, and said he had been working for George Crawford at Kents Hill, a man of good reputation that we both knew personally. I do not call to mind the excuse that the traveler had for leaving there, but he said he was going to Vassalboro. He was quite talkative and claimed so much knowledge of doing chores at barn and house that your father was disposed to engage him and take him back with him.
One thing that impressed your father toward him on their ride was what he said about our little Canadian horse, Jenny, who had such long and heavy fetlocks. He said he should want to take time and fix her up, which your father thought was a good suggestion, so he brought him along at night at Cousin Nat’s where we all had supper. He started before us with the oxen attached to a sled, first inquiring if they had a thicker coat to give him and a pair of mittens, and these were given him. He said he should want a warm place to sleep and asked if he could have a thick woolen quilt for his bed.
He was very late in getting to Orcha Dale and we could not conjecture what caused the delay, but when we got by further acquaintance to know him better we found he was not an entire stranger in the vicinity. He seemed to remember Uncle Isaac Shaw as a sort of comrade, where it was supposed he had at some time got hard cider and this night we learned he had called there. In the evening as he sat down by the stove he took some silver money out of his pocket and said he wanted to give it to me. I told him I would put it away carefully for safe keeping. Before he went to bed he said he would like a clean undershirt, and I am not certain but we gave him two shirts.
In the morning he got in wood and water and did other chores, I presume under your father’s direction, and went over to visit and perhaps smoke and beg a necktie of Mother Robbins. Your father had some lumber down on the "Jo Holmes" place, where the Crocketts lived at one time, and he got the oxen to haul the lumber with, besides his wood. He thought the ice was thick enough to bear the team, and he thought he was an object lesson for Mr. Wilcox who was hauling his wood "way around" on the solid earth.
After your father had crossed the lake either two or three times safely, at about sunset I saw him in the yard getting ready the horse Jenney.
His new blue drilling overalls were frozen stiff on his legs, and he looked the picture of coldness, with the drifting snow and the furious wind. HE did not want to alarm me, and made his serious disaster as easy as he could for me, but I got somegin that we had ready for sickness, and ho water, and carried out to him.
Later on I heard more particulars as the darkness came. One of the oxen was turned loose and went by the house down to the Page place and our Irishman maybe went down and worked on him there, and still later I heard that one ox was in the lake and the neighbors on the road were all there helping to get him out. I thought likely your father was there, too, and after getting a light supper for Annie and Alice and putting them to bed - I think my mother was there-I fixed myself up and started on the drifted road for the Town Farm. I could see the light from the distant lanterns as I struggled along. I found Mr. Wilcox at home and heard his fault finding of your father’s want of caution, but they were very kind to me, and Mrs. Wilcox would have me drink a cup of tea.
Then I suppose I went back home alone and after a time John Martin and Corham and Chandler came into the house, and the ox was in the barn and men working over him. I made some provision for the men who came into the house and heated blankets to wrap your father in when he came at about midnight. I remember of his saying he would like to make all good neighbors Christmas presents for their kindnes5 and helpfulness, so I think it was near Christmas when this even happened, but nothing "happened" to me until the 10th of January, ‘65
I must conclude my story of our beggarly help. I believe he got fitted out in the few days he was with me with every article of clothing the men usually wear, then he thought he would go to Vassalboro by way of Waterville. I think he said he had some clothes there. I got his money and I believe I put another dollar with it and took him to the village He took a pair of your father’s boots along to Morton’s to be repaired for him to wear when he returned from his trip.
He went with me across the railroad track to deliver some buttermilk I guess, then I parted from him at the station. The next we heard from him was through Henry Morton. The man had come to his store and on the strength of his working for Cyrus Robbins, Mr. Morton trusted him for a pair of leather boots, and so Mr. Morton was the loser that time for the man never came back.
I can call to mind a score or so of times when I was alone and the victim of useless help, for cows had to be milked twice every day and work had to be done by someone stronger than womankind. Still, as remarked, in spite of all my worriment and hard work, I have lived nearly fourteen years longer than the time limit to the human race.
Your loving Mother,
SOME VITAL STATISTICS
Elder Isaac Case b. Feb. 25, 1761 d. Nov. 3, 1852
Joanna Snow Case b. Jan. 2, 1767 d. Aug. 3,1847
They were married June26, 1785
Louisa Case m. (1) Hiram Rockwood d. 1833
Louisa m. (2) Deacon Jonathan Snow
Mary Rockwood Robbins b. Sept.17, 1832 d. Jan. 20,1918
Cyrus Stuart Robbins h. Apr. 8, 1828 d. May 11, 1880
They were married June 22,1858
Little child of long ago
With your ways so fetching;
Teacher, wife, mother - you
Did some budget stretching.
You worked hard to run a farm
And make all that prize butter,
And then to write so much about it
For those who followed after -
How did you do it - well may we wonder;
Is there some potent mix
That will tide us over what’s bound to come
If we live to be eighty-six?