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Samuel J. Reader's autobiography, volume 1

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[Front Cover]

 

Dec. 25  1913.  11:37 a.m.

 

Vol 1

 

Autobiography

 

Samuel J. Reader

 

of an old

 

[XXXXXX]

 

[Inside Front Cover]

 

[Page 1]

 

North Topeka Flood  [XXX]  May 29, 1903.

 

Vol. 1

 

Samuel J. Reader.  (I will not copy this stuff all over again.  Let it go for what its worth.)

 

Station A.  Topeka Kansas, 10 minutes to 10, a.m.

 

January 25th  1901.

 

CHAPTER 1.

 

Samuel James Reader

 

I was born sixty-five years ago today, in the village of Greenfield, (Now “Coal Center,”) in Washington County Pennsylvania.

 

My father was born in England, and was “brought up” in America.

 

My mother was a Pennsylvanian  This is as far back as I can afford to trace the genealogy, as I intend this history to be pointed and concise.

 

My mother died when I was about four months old, and she left me and my Sister Eliza, (who was two years older than myself,) to her unmarried Sister, Miss Eliza James.  Consequently, I was “Raised by hand,” or “On the bottle”.

 

My earliest recollections are of playing with my sister in the back yard.  We had a lot of old dishes and broken coffee pots, and a big yellow dog named “Tobe” took part in our sports.  [Drawing on original.]

 

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This is all I can remember of my native State, with any degree of accuracy.

 

In the year 1839 we moved bag and baggage to Wellsburg Virginia.  It is on the Ohio river, and we made the journey by steamboat.  I have a very dim remembrance of the trip; of seeing the big river and hearing the “puff, puff” of the Steam engines.  I suppose I saw darkies there for the first time.  I have been told that an ebony “fille de chamber” declared her intention of kissing me, much to my aunts horror, and I was saved only by eternal vigilance.  The “Color-line” was strictly drawn in those days, of course.  My great grandfather James had been a Slaveholder in New Jersey in days of yore, and all of our folks had imbibed more or less of race prejudice.  So we settled down as natural as life among the Slave holding Virginians; and had we remained here, I might have grown up a rebel, fighting for “Southern rights during the war of the “60’s”.  My grand-father, William James, purchased a two story brick house, and we four lived in it as easy as you please. 

 

[Page 3]

 

He was then Seventy Five or Six.  Had been a fifer, and was promoted Orderly Sergeant of loyal militia during the Revolutionary War.  I was his pet and eagerly listened to his reminiscences and learned to hate the Red coats and Tories.  When someone told me I was half English myself I was displeased.  These things gave my mind a military turn, and at that early age I began to draw crude pictures of battles on my Slate.  My most successful picture represented two soldiers shooting at each other on a staircase. (Fac similie.) But about this time I had a little experience in juvenile warfare that yielded me neither laurels nor satisfaction.  In Wellsburg there dwelt an unruly boy several years my senior, swift of foot, and fierce in assault.  His name was Harmon Niece.  For some reason I had incurred his displeasure, and I had been chased to cover more than once.  But one unlucky day I was on the street with three or four other children, when the dismal cry was raised:  “Harmon Niece is coming!!”  It was a regular Sauve qui picot, and I was hindmost.  Swift was the flight, but swifter

 

((“shorthand” 16.1914 8.1/2 p.m.))

 

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was the pursuant. I had reached one end of our porch, and was climbing the low railing, when he seized one of my hands, and with his fingernails clawed off a piece of skin from the back of my hand.  If I didn’t bawl, there are no snakes.  My aunt, and my grandfather rushed to my rescue, and my assailant fled.  There came a reason of coddling and condolence, that made me feel the outrage all the more.  My grandfathers scanty locks behind his ears, had a way of bristling out when he was excited or angry, and I feel morally sure that his back hair must have somewhat resembled a porcupine on this particular occasion.  My wound was dressed and my tears wiped away, when “Grandpa,” as I called him melted a lump of alum on the shovel in the fireplace.  After it was cool he powdered it, and sprinkled a little of it on my hand.  This, he said, was to prevent a growth of “proud flesh”.  For some reason the hurt was long in healing and the scar was visible for many long years, forcibly remanding me of my brutal enemy.  Perhaps he became a cadet at West Point and hazed with the hazers! 

[Drawing of Grandfather on original.]

 

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I remember Wellsburg as a town on the river with high bluffs behind.  Here in Kansas we might call them small mountains.  There was a glass-blowing plant, and I used to watch the workmen and the furnaces through the open doors.  I think there were few negroes; fewer perhaps than we have here in Topeka, today.  East of town was Prather’s pasture.  I sometimes helped (?) Grandpa drive our little red cow to and from it.  His cane was a sure protection against Harmon Niece.

 

We had nice neighbors over the way, named Palmer.  Eliza and I played with the children and Mrs. Palmer made much of me, and once gave me a piece of nice bread and butter, the crust of which was covered with dry flour.  Next to them, or close by, lived a family by the name of Duval.  They had an idiotic girl who used to scare me when she would come toward me clawing at me with her fingers.  But she was harmless. 

 

West of us lived the “Massy’s.”  They were “Po’ white trash,” being reputed, lazy and disreputable.  One day their house fell down with a prodigious crash.  I believe they were out at the time, or perhaps gone.

 

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But my greatest delight was in watching the State Militia on parade.  The gorgeous uniforms, the martial music, and the evolutions of the soldiers made a deep impression.  As men wore no beards in those days, the uniforms made the men look as alike as two pease to my childish eyes, and I supposed there was no way of telling one soldier from another.

 

As we children stood on the porch, a mounted officer galloped by, with his plumes and gay trappings.  “O, what a pretty man!” we all cried out in chorus.  As a matter of fact, he might have been as ugly as sin, but “fine feathers make fine birds.”  Then I would watch the marching and countermarching, and listen to the delightful music of the band, and would naturally think these people as superior beings when compared to the dull mortals I saw on the Street every day.  Maybe I longed to be a soldier myself someday, but if I did, I probably thought such luck unattainable.  After the parade

 

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was over, I went in the back yard and collected a dozen corn-cobs.  These I stuck in the garden in a row, and put a chicken feather in the pith of each cob.  These were my soldiers.  Then I imitated the band music as well as I could through my closed teeth.  Grandpa and Aunt Eliza (I called her “Liza” for short,) came out to see what I was up to.  All this time I was doing the band business to the full extent of my ability.  Making a sudden stop, I yelled out:  “March!”  This climax “brought down the house,” but I couldn’t understand what they were laughing at.

 

During celebrations a cannon was fired from a hill back of town, and at night – sky rockets were sent overhead.  All these things delighted me, and seemed to stir the latent military principle within, that most persons unfortunately possess.  But Grandpa never encouraged such sentiments in me.  He always called war, “an abominable thing,” in spite of his evident delight in recounting his own martial exploits.  But with these brilliant object lessons before my very eyes I continued to admire the soldiers, the music, and the cannon.  Even thunder delighted me.

 

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When a thunder storm would be approaching I would draw my little chair near a window, and watch for the flashes of lightning, and eagerly listen to the roar of the thunder.  It seemed so like the cannon on the hill.  (This little peculiarity I have never outgrown, and enjoy a nice little thunderstorm to this day.)

 

I was not robust like my sister Eliza.  My aunt said I was delicate and puny, and that I had a “little straw nose,” (whatever that was like.)  My face was white and thin.  I was two years old before I walked, and then I was so tall I could look over the top of the dining table.  I was backward about talking.  Even when nearly five years old my jabber frequently confused people.  One day I asked a plain simple question that nobody could or would understand.  I can still remember my feeling of utter amazement at my failure.  The words I had spoken seemed so very, very plain, to me.  I repeated them over and over again without avail, and finally gave it up in despair.

 

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I had had the measles before I was a year old, and here in Wellsburg the whooping cough caught me, and I used to cough at times until my nose would bleed.  But I refused to be confined to the house.

 

I was very fond of sweet things, and I fear I was indulged more that was good for my stomach or my constitution.  I drank highly sweetened tea and coffee.  As a natural result, I would frequently have my little night-mares.  One night I dreamed the crazy Duval girl was looking at me from an upper window of her house.  She poked her head out where a pane of her head out where a pane of glass was broken, and made a face at me.  Then she rushed out of the house, and ran at me with her bird-like claws.  In trying to escape I found to my treat terror that my feet seemed to stick to the ground.  In my extremity I gave a yell and awoke, and “Liza” had quite a time in soothing her “Poppet,” as she nick-named me during my childhood days.  My being weakly seemed to doubly strengthen her affection for me.

 

[Drawing named:  “UNE JUMENT DE NUIT.”   Boy, picture of horse, and bed.]

 

 

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Our father paid us frequent visits.  He always came by steamboat, and always brought us presents.  Once he gave us two “dumb watches.”  We were curious to see the inside movements, but being unable to get them open, we solved the problem by cracking them with the hammer, as if they had been hazel nuts.  I also got a flageolet, with which I made plenty of noise while it lasted, which was not long.  But my greatest prize was the Slate and pencil before mentioned, and I never wearied of it.

 

I can remember little how my father looked.  He was above the common height, (5 feet 11 inches,) bluish gray eyes, light-complexion, nearly black curly hair, slightly aquiline nose, and a strong well formed chin.  Quite a fine looking man, so my aunt always said.  I can only remember distinctly of one meeting.  The boat had stopped at the landing, and Eliza and I were on the porch waiting.  At last we saw our father coming toward the house.  With a joyful cry of “Pappy’s coming!” we rushed from the house to

 

[Drawing of “FRANCIS READER, 1840.”,  Copied from old drawing.]

 

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meet him.  This little glimpse of recollection is all that remains to me of my parents on this earth.  The sketch on the opposite page is a rude copy of a life size water-colored portrait of my father.  It was painted in 1840 and given to us children.  He sent the artist to our town, and he “drew” Eliza & me.  (These portraits our father retained until his death.  Eliza and I have them now.)  I can clearly remember this “sitting for my picture”.  I didn’t like it.  The limner was a gruff, unpleasant fellow, and I began to fidget directly I was in the chair.  My aunt seeing this, inadvertently remarked that I must tell when I got tired.  Of course I was tired right then and there, and lost no time in letting it be known, and was out playing in the yard in a twinkling.  There had been a rain, and little pools of water were here and there on the ground.  With a stick I pushed chips and pieces of board through the puddles.  It rested me wonderfully.  But the man was impatient – He only got one dollar per “head”, - and I was put in the chair again.  Hardly had he begun again, where I announced that I was tired.  Of course the “Poppet” had to be humored.  After several performances

 

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 in getting relief from that tired feeling by playing in the yard, the limner looked at me with great disfavor, and said to me in a tone of voice I had never been accustomed to hear:  “It seems to me you get tired pretty often.”  I think it would have afforded him more pleasure to have limbed my back then to limn my features.  He failed to do a good job in my case, at all events.  He made my head look rickety, and my “straw nose” distorted.  Grandpa put on his spectacles and after a careful inspection of the portrait, announced:  “It don’t look like the boy.  It looks like “Fletch White.”  Perhaps this was the artist’s revenge.  Eliza’s picture on the other hand was considered tolerably good.  Her black eyes and hair, and piquant features were quite easy to representation.  She was said to resemble our mother, who was a brunette.  Our folks all agreed in saying that our mother was a very handsome woman.  It was also agreed that I did not resemble her in the least, as to personal appearance.  I was all Reader; my grandfather said I had even inherited “that English temper.”

 

[Drawing named:  “S.J.R. 5 YEARS.”  Young boy.]

 

 

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He often admonished me:  “You must curb that English temper or you will come to no good.”  I suppose I tried to “curb” it, but not very successfully, for it generally ended in my yelling like a wild Indian.  At such times Grandpa would try to hold me standing between his knees, while he would pat me gently on the mouth.  This would make a curious combination of sound that he called:  “Baaing,” and it generally stopped my noise.  In fact I sometimes rather liked to be “baaed.”  He always called me “Sammon,” and by that name I was known for years, by the rest of the family.  His favorite son, Samuel James, had been nicknamed “Sammon” when a boy and as I was his namesake I came honestly by the title.  We sometimes called him “Sammou,” too.  About this time he came to Wellsburg, bringing a young and beautiful bride.  He was about 35, and she was some 12 years younger.  She and I struck up a great friendship.  She met me in the hall and said:  “Let us see who can run up stairs the fastest.”  From that how my heart was won.  She seemed to take a great liking to me too, and would frequently hold me on her lap while

 

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I would gaze up into her rather pensive gray eyes.  We children called her “Maria,” and sometimes nicknamed her “Rit,” so as to jingle with the other nicknames of “Grandpa, Liza, Sammon, Poppet and ‘Sissy’, as we all called sister Eliza.

 

My Uncle Sammon was very intellectual.  His broad high forehead was modeled after Melancthon’s.  A farmer boy, he longed for higher fields to labor in.  By his own exertions, educated himself sufficiently for the ministry.  (I think he was a Methodist preacher.)  He had a Hebrew bible, and could read it, and I have no doubt was very eloquent in the pulpit, and no doubt turned many a sinner from his evil ways, also.  He had just returned from Illinois where he had bargained for some real estate and we were to go there in the early Spring.  (It was in the winter time, now, I think, and William Henry Harrison had been elected President in the fall before.)  I can well remember the campaign, and how with the other children we sang:  “Mr. McCarty turned his coat,  And wouldn’t vote for Tippecanoe And Tyler too!”  By the way it is the only Campaign Song I ever sang.

 

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Among our “42nd cousins,” was a talented Campbellite preacher named Sydney Rigdon.  A new Christian Sect called “The Mormons,” had just loomed up on the horizon.  Rigdon investigated, and finally embraced the new religion.  Its followers believed in modern miracles, and at this time at least, their code of morals was pure, and upright.  They had been mobbed and driven from Independence Mo. by the rough, lawless men of the frontier, and had finally settled at the town of Commerce Ill., afterwards named Nauroo.  We had been invited by cousin Rigdon to stop at his home before going to La Harpe.  It was a very nice arrangement, but maybe Grandpa was not pleased; as he didn’t like Rigdon very well.  He said:  “When Rigdon was a boy he was a clumsy, knock-kneed, yaa – ing thing, and if you’d point your finger at him he’d turn and run, and fall down.”  Grandpa always admired “Resolute,” people, as he called them, and disliked the opposite quality in boys or men.  Consequently, Rigdon was weighed in his balance, and found wanting.

 

[Drawing named:  “DOWNFALL OF SIDNEY RIGDON.”   Man.]

 

 

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Arrangements were completed for our removal to Illinois.  It was early Springtime.  My father came to bid us all good-bye.  I can just dimly remember his coming.  He had finally consented to let our Aunt Eliza take us “West.”  But she had almost hoped for his refusal, in consequence of a remarkable dream she had had.  She often told it:  “I dreamed that my sister Catherine, (our mother.) came to me and urged me to give up going to Illinois.  She said I would meet with great hardships, and much trouble.  I refused.  Again she earnestly insisted that I remain with the children and give up going.  I said nothing; but she could see that I was determined to go.  There she looked at me sorrowfully, and finally turned from me with a frown, and was gone.”

 

But dream or no dream, we were all eventually loaded on the steam boat, and turned down the Ohio river.  “Westward Ho!”

 

[Drawing of a steam boat:  “WESTWARD HO!”.  Steam Boat.]

 

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Chapter II.

 

This is the 14th day of May 1902; just 11 o’clock a.m.; so you see this work is not progressing rapidly.

 

Perhaps in a hundred years from now, someone might feel a wish to know how the subject of this sketch looked.

 

 

At the present writing, he stands a little under “Six foot, two, without his shoe.” or Six feet 2 ¾ inches in common foot wear.  Weight, 148 lbs. (& 187 lbs. at my “best.”)  Wears a No. 7 1/8 hat, a No. 15 ½ collar, and a No. 11 boot.  Shoulders rather broad and square, chest flat, and shoulder blades prominent.  Hands small and fingers tapering; arms slender, and neck long and scraggy.  Forehead full at the base, and receding at the top.  Eyes set wide apart, and of a bluish-grey tint.  Hair a dark brown, and getting a little gray at the temples.  A thinish spot, 2 inches square at the crown.  Eyebrows scanty.  Beard worn full.  Quite grey.  Thick on and under the chin; rather thin on the cheeks.  Moustache not long or heavy.  Lantern jaws, hollow, sallow and winkled.  Ears

 

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stand far out from the head.  Nose rather think, and inclined to hook.  Mouth wide, and upper lip projects a trifle.  Has 10 lower teeth, all in a row, and in good working order.  Upper jaw, “store teeth.”  Chin, narrow, large and somewhat depressed.  Complexion fair.  No red in the face excepting the sun burns on nose, ears and chin, and some scattering spots near the eyes and nose.

 

Uses spectacles, but eyesight good and strong.  Hearing always slightly defective, on account of the reverberations in the cavities of the external ear.  Normal pulse 71, (although it was only 52 during early days in Kansas.)  Voice not deep, or very strong.  Articulation, plain.  In song, very inharmonious to the ear.  A natural mark, a dark brown preserve, on top of the right shoulder.  Big toe of the left foot split in twain by an axe, and three middle toes twisted up from rheumatism.  Vital organs sound, but lots of malaria, and rheumatism lurking in the system.  Movements, slow and ungraceful.  Cant dance; cant play ball, and cant make a speech.  Never

 

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could stand on the head, turn wagon-wheel or hand spring.  Poor wrestler; poor jumper; but pretty good at foot race.  In youth was shy, and taciturn, and worried unduly, ever these personal defects; especially the monstrous feet.  In after years, accepted the situation, if not with amusement, at least with resignation.

 

The above is a correct description of myself, S. J. Reader, Topeka Kansas.  Let us return to the first person, singular.  Ego.  Half a dozen times I have been charged with resembling somebody else.  Only once has it been my evil fortune to actually see “The fellow who looks like me.”  It was in 1859.  I was on the porch of the Milne Hotel, Indianola K.T. when two strangers rode up.

 

“Why, hello!” cried one of them, “you’ve got here ahead of us.”  I was puzzled, and said nothing.  Just then the other man called out:  “Here comes our man.”

 

I turned and looked too.  Perhaps every person has some feeling of vanity, more or less, in early life.  Mine received a shock.  Straight from the shoulder.

 

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North Topeka Flood  [XXXX]  May 29, 1903.  [Drawing of flood on original.]

 

Approaching us was a footman in his stocking feet.  There is an expressive word not found in the dictionary.  It is “Ornary.”  Of all specimens of the genus home, this specimen seemed to deserve the name “Ornary.”  I mentally called him, from the crown of his dilapidated hat, to the bottoms of his dusty socks.  He was about 40 years.  (I was only 23!)  He had a furtive look out of his eyes, and a pronounced slouch in his gait.  But his face was the climax of my woe.  A scanty, scraggly beard of uncertain hue.  Little half-shut pigs eyes, and a washed out, woebegone expression of countenance, finished the picture.

 

One of the men looked at me, and then at the advancing scare-crow.  “Never saw two men look so much alike,” quoth he.  “Fact.” replied the other, after a duplicate inspection.  I had not the moral courage to hear more, or to meet my double, face to face, but turned and fled from further humiliation. 

 

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Chapter III.

 

[Drawing called “MY DOUBLE” on original.]

 

The foregoing chapter is perhaps a little out of place.  Excuse it, and we will try to go on with as much regularly as possible.  Remember this book is to be written without revision, copying, or anything of that kind.  Very likely there will be much repetition, emissions, and general dullness.

 

Our Steamboat was called “The Manhattan.”  First class, staunch and true.  We headed nearly South, at-first, and soon came to green foliage, birds and flowers.  While the boatmen were “Wooding up”, at one place, some of the passengers went ashore and brought back some vines, covered with flowers.  A man on board had a lot of birds in cages.  I offered the birds some of the flowers but the man ordered me away, saying they would poison them.

 

I often walked on the hurricane deck with my uncles “Sammon,” or “Lewis” or “Grandpa.”  Once my cap nearly blew into the river.  Another time a gentleman asked me if he should throw me overboard, and

 

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I didn’t know what that meant.  We passed a wreck, partly submerged.  “O look!”  I cried out, “there is a steamboat all blowed up.”  “No”, said the gentleman, “it is blown down.”

 

In the “Gentlemen’s cabin,” I was regaled with oranges, and Boston crackers.  The sight or smell of orange, to this day remind me of that trip.

 

But most of the time I was in the Ladies’ cabin, with “Liza”, or playing with other children.  There was one boy, a year or two older than I, who gave me the benefit of his superior knowledge and experience.  He made me believe that the Cabin boys were all captains, and that if I didn’t look out they would cut my head off.  He then rubbed his shoe against a door frame casing, and after showing me the soiled spot, gravely informed me that it was a capital offence; that he would tell the captain that I did it, and I would lose my head.  I was terribly frightened, and ran for “Liza”.  A day or two after this, our boat was at a landing, with another boat alongside.

 

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I saw a boy slip up behind one of these cabin-boy “Captains,” on the strange boat, give him a poke with a broom, and then turn and run.  I was paralyzed at his temerity, which was changed to a feeling of horror and pity, as I saw the Captain turn and give chase.  I did not see the actual cutting off of the boys head, as they soon ran out of sight, but I was certain the bloody deed would soon be enacted, from the fact that the captain was rapidly gaining on his victim as they disappeared around a corner.

 

We finally reached St. Louis, and changed boats.  The new boat was small and dingy.  It was called “The St. Anthony’s Falls”.  Then up the Mississippi river we sent.  One night a storm drove our boat against some rocks, and a great alarm and tumult ensued.  We all left our State room, and gathered in the cabin.  The passengers were much frightened.

 

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Perhaps there was very great danger, as the wind was violent, and the night very dark.  We children huddled close to “Liza”.  No doubt she was worse scared than we were; being able to realize the danger more fully.  As she held me she said:  “If the boat sinks, we may all be drowned.  Are you afraid?’  I felt a shock, but no lively terror.  With more of apathy than apprehension, I looked up in her quiet face, and answered, “No.”  After a time the danger was past, and we were again tucked away in bed.  Next morning I saw the broken guards, and bow of the boat.  Had we not so escaped, this auto’ would never have been written, and lots of other things would have never happened, (or “never have happened”?)  away out here in Kansas.

 

In due time we reached the noted town of Nauvoo.  (Norvoo, some of the natives called it.)  As I remember, the town was very much “scattered.”  We went to Sidney Rigdon’s  house, and stayed there a few days.  Rigdon had a bald forehead, a few whiskers under

 

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his ears, and a grave cast of countenance.  If he were “knock-kneed,” I was too young to notice it.  He was said to be eloquent, and a “Holy terror” in theological argument, and the Mormons were very proud of him.  There can be no doubt, he was sincere in his belief.  Smarter men than he, have made fools of themselves on the subject of religion, since the world began.

 

Mormonism had a lot of hocus pocus about it, that we now a days call Christian Science, Clairvoyance, and Spiritualism.  No wonder the deluded creatures believe they had the monopoly in miracles, and the one and only true religion on the face of the earth.  Of course, this belief made their intolerance still more intolerable.  Few if any “gentiles,” could be saved.  To do them justice they had good old orthodox views.  Along with the “Book of Morman’, they believed in the Trinity, the Resurrection, Eternal punishment, and every word in the Bible, from beginning to end.  Some of the rascally ones however, carried the suggestions of the Old Testament too far, in after years, and dreamed of Spoiling

 

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The Philistines; and wasted valuable time in reading up and discussing the matrimonial ventures of Jacob and Solomon.  But in that particular year of Our Lord, 1841, not the faintest whisper of polygamy had ever been heard within the Church.  When it did come, a few years later, our cousin Rigdon dropped the whole concern “like a hot potato,” and hied back again to his Eastern home, a sadder and a wiser man.

 

[Drawing named:  “SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES.”   Three men, one woman, newspaper.]

 

My Uncle Sammon naturally felt the itch for preaching some of the new gospel, as he understood it, and for a brief time turned himself loose in the ministerial arena.  His efforts gained him much applause, and much loss of pithy lucre.  He preached for nothing and found himself, generous soul that he was.

 

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I had the good fortune to hear him once.  His sermon was about a lot of dry bones being gathered together.  My grandfather and my aunt discouraged his efforts, and he soon gave up the job of “Revolutionizing the religious world,” as he expressed it.  It saved us all, in more ways than one.

 

Mrs. Rigdon was a pleasant, easy-going soul.  We all liked her.  Two boys, Sydney and Wycliff were older than I.  While the elder was playing with snail shells, some mishap caused him to ejaculate:  “Darn it all.”  His sister Phoebe cried out in great excitement:  “I’ll tell father!”  It puzzled me to make out what all the fuss was about; but I afterwards learned that preachers boys must never say “Darn it.”  etc. etc.  But for all that, Sydney Rigdon jun. turned out to be a tip-top fellow.  His brother “Wyck”, was a freckled faced rollicking lad, and was an expert clog-dancer, much to Grandpa’s disgust.  “The fool boy has more brains in his heels than in his head,” was his verdict.  His mother, on the other hand, was proud

 

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of his accomplishments, and even assisted him at one time in pulling off his boots, to give him freer scope to his antics.  How grandpa did groan.  (But this occurred a year later, at La Harpe.) 

then there was a little girl about my own age, Antoinette.  “Test,” we called her.  Subsequently, while on a visit at our house, in La Harpe, she struck me with a big stick on the temple, and there was quite an effusion of blood, and noisy bellowing of gory-locked urchin.  (My hair was tow-colored in those days.)  Her sister Sally was perhaps sixteen; fat and cheerful, and pretty as a picture.  An older Sister, Athalia, was small and spare, and married to a big, fat, jolly black-eyed Yankee, named Geo. W. Robinson.  More of them, anon. 

 

I got lost one day while rambling over the city of Nauvoo with the other young-ones.  As I went squalling around, several people asked me where I lived.  Of course I didn’t know, and only bawled the louder.  A man asked me what my name was.  Strange as it may seem, I didn’t know that, either.

 

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Luckily I didn’t give my nicknames:  “Sammon”, and “Poppet.”  A big boy was detailed to help me hunt-up my friends, when young Sydney Rigdon hurried up and took charge of me.  “When you got lost, why didn’t you go to the Stone house?” he asked.  That was where the Rigdon’s lived, but I knew nothing about it.  I was a  regular “Know Nothing.”

 

Finally our visit ended, and we were transported by wagon to our new home at La Harpe, 20 miles east of Nauvoo.

 

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Chapter IV.

 

Our house was a two story, white frame; some 40 feet long by 20 wide.  It had a north, side front, and a hall through the center.  The west room was the parlor, the east, having a big fireplace, was kitchen, dining room and bed room.  Upstairs was unfinished, and in one room, which had been used as a ballroom.  Locust trees stood in front.  One block east was the public square, and the business part of the town.  To the South and east were prairie farms.  On the north, woods.  We owned the north half of the block.  An old man, with a big wen on his head, owned the other half, and had a lot of boys for me to play with.  His name was Joy Sperry, and although he was a Mormon, and went with them to Utah, we never saw any harm in him.  He used to come over and talk about a perpetual motion contrivance he had invented.  It had

 

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weights and clockwork, and would wind itself up.  The invention perished.  The lot across the street was owned by a Presbyterian named Henry Bliss.  He put up a new house this year or the next.  He had a stuttering boy, Howard, about my own age.  Close by lived a brother of the great Chickering, of piano fame.  He had a rickety girl named Catherine, and we three used to play together, with other children.  Howard had a wheel-barrow, and one day Catherine got in and I tried to wheel her.  I think it was an upset.  At any rate Grandpa saw it all from the window, and I had lots of fun poked at me.  He would repeat to me:  “There was once a little boy who lived all by himself.  All the bread and cheese he got, he laid it on the Shelf.  The rats and the mice, they gave him such a life, He had to go to London to get a little wife.  The roads were so broad, and the patties were so narrow, he had to bring his

 

[Drawing named:  “JUVENILE GALLANTRY”.   Boy, Girl, and Wheelbarrow.]

 

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little wife in a wheelbarrow.  The wheelbarrow broke, and gave her a fall.  Deuce take the wheelbarrow, little wife and all!”

 

My uncles Lewis and Sammon, also, seemed wonderfully amused at my expense, but I think “Liza” felt sorry for her “Poppet,” even if she did laugh a little herself.  We had now been in La Harpe a year or two.  Geo. W. Robinson lived in town, his boy Sydney was my age, and we were great friends.  One day I heard he was sick.  I went to the house with “Liza”.  I saw his pale face as he lay on the bed, but I didn’t venture in the sick room.  Dr. Choat came in and left some medicine.  Some of it was Croton oil.  The case was considered desperate.  Choat was a Boston Yankee – a good surgeon, but an unfortunate practitioner.  In a day or two, Sydney was dead.  It was the first funeral I had ever seen, and the first time I had ever looked on the face of the dead.  The coffin filled the room with a strong smell of varnish; and to this day, is Suggestive.  The grave yard was north-east of town

 

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on a hilly ground, covered with trees and bushes.  A gloomy looking place indeed.  There was likely a funeral sermon, and its usual accompaniment, the hymn beginning:  “Hark from the tombs, a doleful sound” etc.  But I fail to remember.

 

The day was raw and cloudy, and I took cold.  Next day I was sick in bed.  In a few days my sickness was called Scarlet fever.  Dr. Choat’s professional work was generally so speedy, and so fatal, our folks would have nothing to do with him.  There was a Mormon doctor in town, named Coulson; but he was a quack. 

 

Then up rose Grandpa in the dignity of a righteous cause:  “The boy shan’t be killed.  Not one of the abominable pack shall have a chance at him.”

 

Grandpa words, or sounder wisdom, were never uttered.  My life was saved.  Then “Liza” developed into a nurse that was unsurpassed in devotion and thoughtful care.

 

My pain was great.  Noises in my head confused me greatly.  A dull

 

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thumping sound would at times begin, and gradually increase in volume and rapidity, until my head would bang and roar again.  One day I felt much better.  As I lay on my back, I saw Grandpa and “Sissy” and I think both my uncles standing by the bed-side, looking at me.  At the foot of the bed stood “Liza” her eyes filled with tears.  I wondered what could be the matter, but was probably too weak to ask.  She told me afterwards, that I was supposed to be dying.  But the crisis passed.  I proved stronger than I looked.  Convalescence came slowly but surely.  “No mercury, or doctors poisons” in my system, as Grandpa said.  But I was cross, and troublesome.  My mouth had always been large.  Now it seemed twice as large.  Some of them told me it was because I had stretched

 

[Drawing named:   “NATURE’S CURE”.  Two men, one woman, girl, boy, and bed.]

 

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it, calling for:  “Liza!”  I could hardly endure to have her out of my sight.  No one could supply her place for me.

 

At last I was up and around.  Many deaths had occurred in town.  The “Grim Reaper” was kept busy, and Dr. C _ had industriously whet the old Fellow’s &c.

 

[Drawing called  “ALMOST THE END.” “He cuts down all, Both great and small.”   Skelton, Scythe, and people running.]

 

Monday January 25th 1904, 15 m. to 11 a.m.  Today I am 68, unable to walk, but still able to hold a pen, and write on this page, damaged by the Great North Topeka flood of May 29th 1903.  It was left to its watery fate, while three strong men carried me to an upper room, (in a perfectly helpless condition from an attack of rheumatism.)  I have been unable to walk for about 18 months.  I shall now try to continue this little autobiography.

 

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Chapter IV, continued after the “flood.”

 

The unfinished word on the preceding page is “scythe,” and “Doctor C_ “ may, unfortunately embrace half the medicine men in the civilized world.

 

Well, I was finally up and around, after a little backset from drinking too much current wine.

 

One day while outdoors, I got the axe and tried to split a piece of board.  I did it, but I split the big toe of my left foot with the same whack.  When I saw the blood, I rushed for the door where I met my sister coming out.  She said my mouth was wide open, and she supposed I was laughing, until I got breath to awaken the echoes with my frantic yells.  Unstinted sympathy, and lint bandages galore, at the hands of “Liza,” finally quieted the pain and scare and the hubbub subsided.  (Luckily there was no Surgeon B_ to tie up the toe, and charge fifty dollars ($50.00) for his services.)  For a long time I was kept indoors, and was pretty well broken of my habit of “Running off.”

 

[Drawing called:  “THE CLOVEN TOE.”  Boy crying.]

 

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This “Running off” was one of the joys of my life.  A family named, Pain, lived west of town, in the edge of the woods.  They were poor, whether honest or otherwise; but the great attraction was numerous and versatile progeny.  Chauncy Pain was about my own age, and well skilled in nut hunting, creek-wading, and general woods-craft.  Harriet Paine was a few years older.  Her forte was story-telling.  How the talents of these two children became known to us, I know not, but I do know that “Sister” and I used to give aunt “Liza” the slip whenever a chance offered to seek and revel in the delights of companionship with the Paine children.  It was a strictly forbidden pleasure for our aunt sternly forbade our stolen visits.  This of itself made them all the sweeter.  How well I remember how Sissy and I would slip behind the crib and stable, and keeping in their shelter from the house, strike out for the “Paines.”  It mattered not that the domicile was built of rough logs, and Chauncey fished a very dirty dish cloth out of the water pail one time while we were getting a drink.  At home, such a  thing would have turned my stomach:  but here under the spell of enchant-

 

[Drawing called:  “COLD WATER BOYS.”   Two boys and a bucket.]

 

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ment, “as it were,” I heroically sipped my ration of the filthy liquid from the grimy gourd.  My fortitude surprised even myself.  At nearly every one of our meetings, Harriet would tell us Stories.  One of them she called “The glass Slipper;” but the most thrilling one of all, was “Blue Beard.”  Her version was something like this: 

 

“A great-big ugly man with a dreadful blue “baird” told his wife one day that she must never go in one of the rooms.  He then locked the door of the room, which he showed her, gave her the key, and told her again she must not so much as unlock the door, and look in.  Then he went away.”  Harriet then told us how Mrs. Bluebeard, torn by contending emotions of curiosity and fear, finally yielded, unlocked and opened the door.  As she did so a lump of soft red paint fell on her bare foot, and she saw to her horror the head of Mrs. Bluebeard No. 1 suspended by the hair from the ceiling.  (O what delightful chills chased up and down my back, at this point!)  Frantic with fear she relocked the door, and undertook to put on her shoes and stocking, which she had taken off before

 

[Page 39]

 

making her stolen visit.  Then to her dismay she discovered the spot of paint.  Out to the well she hied herself, and with a pan of water undertook to obliterate the stain, no doubt saying with Lady Macbeth.  “Out durned spot!”  Let us return to Harriet’s vernacular:  “She just washed, and washed and washed but it didn’t do a bit of good; and just then an awful great big black cat comes around the corner of the house, and the black cat says to her:  ‘What will you give me to lick that paint off?’

 

‘Skatchuseyhtch! Skatchuseyhtch!!  She yells at the cat, and the cat she runs away.’  So she puts on her shoes and stockings, and pretty soon old Blue Beard comes home.  Says he:  “Have you been up in that room?”  And says she:  ‘No, I haven’t.’  Then says he:  ‘Pull off your shoes and stockings!’  ‘O no!’ says she ‘I’m afraid of taking cold.’  ‘Pull off your shoes and stockings,” says he again.’  ‘O, no, I don’t want to!’ says she ‘I’m afraid of

 

[Drawing called “SKATCHUSEYHTCH!”    Lady, Shoe, and Cat.]

 

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taking cold.”

 

Thus their little marital dispute continued for some time longer, but finally “the tyrant man” had his own way, and the shoes and stockings were peeled off.  “Whoopy-yoopy!” cried the old scoundrel when he spied the paint spot;  “So you’ve been up in that room, have you?”  So saying the bloody old villain dragged his better half by the hair of her head to the fatal chamber, and without giving her any chance to express her admiration at his strenuous, manly behavior, immediately decapitated the unfortunate lady, and hung up the head by the hair, alongside of the other one.  {Sakes alive, how the goose-flesh would here pimple my little carcass!)  But to continue.  This Mr. Bluebeard with his masterful, enticing ways evidently found no difficulty in filling up the domestic gap with wife No. 3.  With great powers of description, Harriet held us spellbound as she minutely

 

[Drawing called “FREEZING THE YOUNG BLOOD.”   Four boys and Two girls.]

 

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detailed each thrilling episode, and bloody horror into our attentive ears.  Poor Mrs. No. 3 of course succumbed to her curiosity.  Again the indelible spot of red paint fastened itself to the lady’s instep.  Again was washing resorted to in vain;  Again the big black cat tried to make a dicker, but again was she (it was a lady cat;) repulsed and put to flight by the same wonderful and mysterious word that so worked on her feline fears before.  Of course Mr. Bluebeard came home, and re-enacted all the dreadful things he had done before, also.  (It was cheaper than divorce.)  Again the old widower entered the matrimonial market, and to make a long story short, his ventures succeeded, until he had six gory heads suspended by the hair, all in a row!  (At this point, the delightful accumulation of chills and goose-flesh, among the listeners must have been immense. I know it was in my own particular case.)

 

Apparently troubled at his lonesome life of single blessedness, he sought and won, and led to the Hymeneal altar, his seventh bride.  Once more came the temptation and the fall; the horrified glance at the swinging heads;  the tell –tale  spot of paint; the useless was  [XXX]  of the fair foot, and the sudden

 

[Page 42] 

 

Appearance of the black cat, around the corner, with her old stereotyped question:  “What will you give me to lick that paint off your foot?”  Here came the climax of the story.  Instead of uttering the usual cat scaring word, = or combination of words, this lady, No. 7, without a moments hesitation, cried out:  “I’ll give you a nice pan of bread and milk.  The bargain was closed.  The feminine foot was extended, and the rasping feline tongue did the rest.  Gorged to repletion, grimalkin retired, and the lady laced up her footwear.  Enter Bluebeard – “Have you been up in that chamber?”  “No indeed sir.”  (This was a glaring falsehood.  I made a mental note of it.)  “Take off your shoes and stockings.”  O no, I’m afraid to taking cold!  Harshly the command was repeated; again and again; and with manifest reluctance the bride shucked off her foot – covering. Then the expectant benedict eagerly searches for the sinister spot that might add another head to his grisly collection.  But he searched in vain.  His overthrow was

 

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complete.  He wilted.  He apologized.  He had been disobeyed, and lied to, but the silly old ruffian had no proofs.  (Sin is considered a myth unless it can be found out.)  The lady met his advances halfway.  (He was rich as a Jew.)  Reconciliation followed, and they lived happily together ever afterwards.

 

Here the story ended, and sister and I scuttled for home.  South of our road lay a dead horse. The dogs and crows had eaten all but the bones and skin.  One of Harriets blood curdling stories, told how such a carcass on one occasion, became endowed with life and ran after somebody – a little boy, I think it was – and after a hot pursuit the dead horse overtook its victim, and opening wide its ghastly, foul smelling ribs, enclosed the unfortunate within the empty cavity, where he remained until death ended his sufferings.  I don’t think Sister believed this yarn; but I did; and well I remember the many furtive glances I cast at the putrid horror as we passed by, not knowing what moment

 

[Drawing on original called  “My Day Horse”, (Copied from Original nightmare.)]   

 

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it would not rear aloft on its skeleton legs, and give chase:  Nothing Short of the “Paine attraction,” would ever have induced me to brave such a terror, and such a risk.  As it was, it pretty near broke up my “Running away,”  proclivities; and once it gave me “night-mare,” if I remember rightly.  But prohibition and danger seemed to add zest to our stolen visits, and they were repeated, again and again.  There were plenty of nice children in town that we were allowed to play with.  But they had been inspected and chosen by Liza, and we were not expected to look up any others on our own hook.  To do so would be committing the offense called “Running away,” and a penalty was attached thereto.  But O how insipid the tame children seemed.  There was an inward craving for something more sparkling, and spicy, and the bonanza was discovered.  We would not, and could not give it up for what we looked upon as a senseless whim.  But the day of reckoning was at home.  In an evil hour I tried an experiment.  The mystic word that chased away the black cat, had often puzzled me.

 

[Page 45]

 

In our household was a half-grown feline that Grandpa, (who hated cats,) called “The Ash-cat,” (from her fondness of sleeping in the warm ashes at the fireside.)

 

Calling her attention, I uttered the magic word.  Instead of dashing madly for the door, with her tail as big as a bedpost, Ash blinked at me with a lazy leer.  Again and again, louder and louder I called out the word.  Not the least effect did it have on the cat, but it did have a prodigious one on the “folks”.  Grandpa stopped reading, and looked at me over his spectacles.  Liza was speechless.  My uncle, Rev. Samuel James glared at me with righteous indignation.  He, it was, that first found voice:

 

“Here! Here!! Stop that!!!  Let me hear any more of it, old man, and you will get a course of sprouts!”  Then a babel of tongues ensued.  Cross questionings, ejaculations, threatenings, admonitions, all in a tangled mass.  “Where did you learn that? -  Paines! -  Running away – yes – Will see to that – Such trash – and I never knew it – be ruined – Let me hear of your –

 

[Page 46]

 

-Well, you just try it again and see! – Peach-tree oil!!  Yes!!! – I promise you!”  (“Peach-tree oil,” and “Course of sprouts,” were one and the same medicine under different names.)

 

Brow-beaten and bewildered, I hardly knew what to think, in all this confusion.  One thing was certain.  The “word” was potent, even if it did act contrary to the way I supposed it would.  I never asked what it meant.  Neither did I ask what made the grass grow.  All was mystery.  Long afterwards I found out that it was not a single word, but three or four very robust words joined together.  Sister came in for her share of the “Sweating” process, and a promise of the “oil.”  The details I know not, as I had troubles of my own, enough to occupy all my thoughts.

 

For several days all remained “In Status quo.”  Then there was a consultation – a conspiracy, had there been more of us – Paines, versus Penalties, discussed, pro and con.  On the one side, was the certainly of run-away delights; on the other, the dread of the oil, in unknown

 

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quantities.  “Run-away” finally carried, and away we went, fleet of foot, and light of heart.  We might not be found out, and anyway the oil would not amount to much.  Vain reasoning, it proved to be.  Chauncey and I ran to the creek.  In a twinkling we had disrobed, and plunged in.  This was preeminently a forbidden pleasure.  (Very likely our folks wanted me to learn to swim before I ventured in the water.)  The only drawback to the fun, was the trouble I had in getting back into my duds.  They would stick to my wet skin like wax.  Their disarrangement, and my wet hair helped condemn me at my subsequent arrest and trial.

 

In the gleaming we quietly crept home.  But the Argus eyes were not closed.  Not one of them.  But why enlarge in detail.  We were caught, questioned, lectured and oiled,

 

[Drawing named:  “Running Off.”  Boy and Girl.]

 

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and retired to our couches, sadder if not wiser young-ones.

 

A week or more had passed.  It was a bright Sunday morning.  I was sitting in my little green chair pretending to look at the pictures in the “History of England.”  But my thoughts were elsewhere.  How I longed for Chauncey; the free air, the forest ramble; the creek, and all that.  At my right hand sat Liza with a book; beyond her was Grandpa, poring over some old musty volume of sermons.  The ash-cat was in her accustomed corner.  Liza was dressed ready for church.  (She generally attended the Presbyterian Church, when the weather was pleasant.)  I begun to fidget.  Why didn’t she start?  Finally I pulled at her dress.  “Say, Liza?”  “Well, what.”  “Isn’t it meeting time?”  “No, Don’t bother me.”  Then I waited; so long, so very, very long; no sound but the occasional rustle of a book leaf.  I grew desperate.  “Say, it must be meeting time

 

[Page 49]

 

now.”  Liza looked down at me.  “What do you want?”  I replied.  “No, it isn’t.”  Then with keen suspicion:  “Why are you so anxious about that?”  I was silent.  “I know,” She resumed, “you’re going to run away.”  “No, I aint,” I replied, with the ready mendacity acquired from the example of Mrs. Bluebeard No. 7.  “Very well, I’m going to stay at home.”  “I wont run away, I pleaded despairingly.  “No, I know you wont.  You wont run away; because I’m going to stay right here and watch you!”

 

Let us close the painful subject or the painful picture, or what not.

 

And where my “Clover toe” had sufficiently healed, and “Running off” was again possible, I found to my sorrow, that it was everlastingly to late.  The Paines had flitted.  Thus our bright hopes and anticipations are too often dashed to earth.

 

[Page 50]

 

CHAPTER V.

 

My Grandfather’s reminiscences always interested me.  According to his story he had been quite a scraper during his boyhood days.  One great hulking boy, twice as big as grandpa – so runs the narrative – by the name of John DeWitt, had provoked his ire.  “I told him I’d lick him after school was out, so when he started to run for home, I took after him” – Grandpa was swift of foot, remember – “and just as he got in sight of the house, I caught my gentleman.  As I clinched him I saw his father squat down behind some bushes, where he could see the fight.  It didn’t take me long to give him a good dressing down, which he richly deserved.” 

 

“What had he done?”  I enquired with breathless interest:  Grandpa rid his mouth of

 

[Drawing on original named:  “LICKED.”  Two boys fighting.]

 

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tobacco juice into the fireplace, and replied sententiously “He was mean!”  I soon found that “Meanness” was a crying sin in his eyes.  The shortcomings it covered seemed various and almost boundless.  I can say in this connection, that John DeWitt finally went to the “Bow-wow.”  Before his fathers death he had spent all his patrimony, and died in the work-house.  The number of mean boys seemed to be legion, and Grandpa had his hands full.  The meanness of one of them almost surpassed belief.  Let Grandpa tell:  “Tobias Barkalo” – I think that was the name – “ gave me some of his impudence, and I told him I’d give him a licking.  He was bigger and older than I was, but the cowardly rascal wouldn’t fight – unless I had one hand tied.  I wanted to lick him so bad, that I finally agreed to it.  So they took one of my garters, and tied my left hand behind my back to the waist-band of my breeches.  We came together.  I forgot about my hand being tied.  I waited.

 

[Page 52]

 

He struck first.  I intended to fend it off with my left, and then give him my right.  I remembered too late, that my left was tied fast.  There I stood like a fool, and his fist took me aside of the head, and down I went.  I jumped up, and rushed at him, but before I could think, he gave me another clip, and there I lay on the flat of my back, again.  Thinks I to myself, this wont do.  I knew the garter was old, and I gave a strong pull, and it broke!  I kept my hand behind my back.  I got up, and we met.  He drew back, and struck.  But my left was ready this time while my right took him at the but of the ear, and over he went.  Then I finished him up.

 

Not long after I had it out with another one.  He was about my own match.”  “Was he mean?”  I interrogated.  “Mean and impudent,” quoth Grandpa.  “Well, at it we went, 

 

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and neither one could whip.  After a long time we both stopped to rest.  We went to the spring, and washed our faces, and sat down.  The longer I sat, the worse I felt.  I was too sore and tired to fight anymore that day.  My only chance was that the other fellow, had had enough, too.  I jumped to my feet, as well as I could, and says I:  Now if you’re ready, we’ll go at it again!  He looks at me, and says:  ‘I don’t think I want to fight anymore!’  He was bruised up pretty bad and his nose was bleeding.  It cows a boy to hit him on the nose and make it bleed.”

 

“Daddy,” questioned Liza, “did you ever get licked yourself?”  Grandpa ignored the question with superb and contemptuous silence.  He took a fresh chew of tobacco, and the séance closed.

 

[Drawing called:  “BLUFFING.”  Two boys, and 2 barrows.}

 

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La Harpe, Hancock County, Illinois, had some little boys within its limits that were “Holy terrors.”  Noisy, insulting, and belligerent.  The Murdocks, the Grays, the Bacons, the Acklys et al; regular little Sans Culotts, every one of them.  I lived in a two-story house, and wore clean clothes, and naturally incurred their dislike.  One of their pastimes was to chase me home, when discovered abroad, or to pelt me with clods, inside our own yard.  Harmon Niece was out done.  One called me “Heifer,” and I retorted, (for the worm will turn, you know,) by yelling back “Gray-hair! Gray-hair!!”  It was a happy inspiration on my part.  Young master Gray fairly boiled and bubbled over with rage every time I shouted my battle cry.  Occasionally I would fling a stick, or a cob over the palings at my foes, and then run in the house, which would close the engagement for that time.

 

[Page 55]

 

One day as I was falling back to the shelter of my entrenchments, I met Grandpa at the hall door, cane in hand.  He had seen the fracas from the window.  The old spirit of “76” seemed to animate him.  His side hair bristled.  (I’m sure it did!)  “Why don’t you lick ‘em?”  I came to a halt.  A crisis had come, but I answered not a word.  “Don’t you run in the house!  Pick up that stick, there, and go out and drive them rascals away.”  His martial magnetism seemed to pervade every nerve of my body.  From a fleeing lamb, I was transformed into a raging lion.  Stick in hand, I debouched through the gate, and charged upon my tormenters.  But they stayed not to meet the onset Grandpa beamed with delight.  “Well, they went off with a wet sail,” was his remark, on my

 

[Drawing on original called:  “A GLORIOUS VICTORY.”    Three boys, Fence, House, and Tree.]

 

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return.  I afterwards heard Liza relating my exploit to others, with expressions of approval.  I was a regular little hero.  It was a new sensation to be lionized.  It tickled me in a wonderful degree. 

 

Next day one of the bad little boys appeared outside the fence.  He came to parley:  “We wont throw any more clods.  Come out here.  We want to talk with you.”  I went with him, and met another little rag muffin.  A “Tripartite agreement” or “Holy Alliance,” or something of that sort, by which we were to cease from acts of hostility, was then and there entered into.  After this we fraternized to a limited extent.  Our folks raised little objection.  Perhaps they thought I was too much like a hot house plant, and needed experience and self-reliance.  I guess they did me no particular harm:  One time they took me on a

 

[Page 57]

 

watermelon hunt, but when we got to the patch, the melons were all gone.  One of the boys told me that old Mrs. Johnson gave peaches to boys who refrained from pilfering.  The old lady appeared at the door.  “Do you boys ever steal our peaches?”  “No mam!”  emphatically replied the little scamp.  “Well, come in.”  She conducted us through the house, into the back yard, and pointed out to us the trees loaded with ripe fruit.  Her tongue was incessantly running, and she never thought to give us a single peach.  At the back door she had a box full of unripe, wilted peaches.  She showed them to us.  “For the boys who steal!” she remarked.  Then she conducted us to the front door, and dismissed us with kindly courtesy.  Needless to say we were keenly

 

[Drawing on original titled:  “SO NEAR AND YET SO FAR!”  Two boys, Lady, and Peach Tree.]

 

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disappointed.

 

“I’d steal before I’d take any of them nasty green things she showed us.”  Exclaimed my guide.

 

I was not a “howling success” among these little scalawags.  I didn’t know enough, nor was I expert at athletic sports.  Burdet Sperry, a little black eyed, jolly cub – could walk on his hands.  I tried it and failed.  Then one of the boys held my feet up in the air, for me; but my pipe-stem arms gave way, and I fell.  Another boy could hook his knee over the back of his neck; turn hand springs, wagon-wheels, and the like.  I gave them up.  But my legs were long, and I could run.  One day I won by a neck, over the local sprinter.  My backer – Harry Sperry – was jubilant.  “I tell you; boys, Sam James is a runner.  Why he lopes over the ground just like a deer!”

 

My opponent was mad.  “Well, I could beat too, if I’d straddled the way he did.”  But he declined a second trial.  His legs were too short.

 

I was very tall for my age, and on telling it to one of the boys, he turned

 

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to a companion, with the remark:  “Gosh!  Wont he make a darned big man?”  (This tickled Grandpa, when I told him, although he hated big men, on general principles.)

 

The boys had a copious vocabulary of by-words; and now and then, tried to tangle their tongues around some pretty vigorous expletives.  I had heard some of them before.  Let me digress:

 

One day my Rev. Uncle Sammon came in the house, with pop-eyed haste.  “What do you think,” he said to Liza,  “Mr. =.” (here he gave the name of a pious churchman,) “was heard to say =.”  (and here he repeated what was said; an oath of two words.  A regular whopper!)

 

“Why, law Samp, do you think that’s true?”  “Yes,” replied Sammon, “several people heard him.”  - yes, and I heard Sammon.  My ears were not then as large as now, but they were terribly efficient.  I never forgot the horrible word.

 

[Drawing on original named:  “LITTLE PITCHERS ETC. ETC.”  Boy, Man, and Lady.]

 

[Page 60]

 

I knew not its meaning; only that it was something dreadfully wicked.  The sound of it, suggested to my mind an old battered band box, that Sammon had for his stove-pipe hat. – The word is the nick-name for English soldiers among the French - - That night; after family prayers, Sammon, Liza, and Uncle Lewis, sang hymns.  I sometimes put in my little oar, and helped them out – Grandpa only chewed and spat.  Never heard him sing --  Well, there was one hymn like this:

 

“The glory of God, like a fire is burning,

“The *** ** glory is bound to shine forth.

“We’ll shout, and we’ll sing with the armies

“Of heaven, Hosanna, hosanna, to God and

“the Lamb.”

 

The shock I experienced, as they sang the last few words,  nearly lifted me out of my little green chair.  My miserable ears had given me the sound of “M”, where it should have been the sound of letter “N”.

 

[Drawing on original named:  “THE DREADFUL WORD.”  Boy sitting in chair and Cat.]

 

[Page 61]

 

There could be no mistake.  That dreadful word; plain as plain could be.  It fascinated me.  There must be something in “Total Hereditary Depravity,” after all, for when the chorus came around again, I turned my vocal powers loose, and sang at the top of my voice, awful word and all.  It was “Delightfully wicked.”  If such a word could be used with impunity in a song of praise, why must little boys be prohibited?  “Sauce for the goose, sauce for the  - goslings.” – Such is always the vain reasoning of unregenerate human nature –

 

So next time I fraternized with some of the La Harpe cubs, and some of them blasphemed, I heard with comparative composure, and offered no word of reproof.  But away from our own fireside, I never indulged in the exercises myself.  -  Hardly had cheek enough – 

 

Young Joy Sperry was near my own age.  He was strongly built, and possessed a very heavy jaw.  One day he offended me.  I called him “Jaw-bone!  jaw-bone!!” and we

 

[Page 62]

 

met in the shock of battle.  How ardently I strove to rival my veteran grandfather!  But it was not to be.  After sundry swings and punches, with “honors” about even, my adversary suddenly lowered his shaggy pate, and hit me fair on the nose, with the top of his head.  “An earthquake could not overthrow a city, with a surer blow.”

 

My nose bled, and I threw up the sponge.  That night, a gory, crest-fallen urchin crept home by the back door.  Strive as I may, I cant remember the story that accounted for my forlorn appearance.  Perhaps Liza imagined I’d been run over by a herd of cattle.  I was specially afraid of Grandpa.  I wouldn’t have had him hear of my defeat for “worlds.”  And he never did.  Next time it was my fortune to see Joy again, he had developed into a musical composer.

 

It was in the form of a ballad in the key of B.  There was no foolish affectation about Joy, and

 

[Page 63]

 

without any undue urging he sang:  [drawing of some music]  I licked Sam James and made his nose bleed.

 

Although he was not encored, we were favored with a goodly number of repetitions.  Finally Harry Sperry got tired of it, and made Joy desist.  Harry was several years older than I, and a first rate boy, even if he was a Latter-day Saint.  Joy, on the other hand was a gentile – kind of philistine, I suppose.  We were good enough friends, afterward, and I never heard him sing his little song any more.

 

While I’m on this scrappy-scrap-scrappy business, I had best finish it up!  “Who struck Billy Patterson?” is often asked.  Well I didn’t; but I struck Miriam Paterson all right.  Urged on by his cousin “Brad”, he challenged me to fight.  I declined not the combat, and at it we went, according to Marquis de La Harpe’s rules.  I had the advantage of a longer reached, and finally I landed a punch, that was a knock – out.

 

[Page 64]

 

Brad was a wicked rascal.  “Here!”  he yelled at Miriam, “don’t you stop.  Go at him, and give him a licking.”  “He hurt me,” explained the vanquished.  “Hurt?” exclaimed Brad, “who cares about being hurt?”

 

I was not elated.  The boys that Grandpa licked were always mean.  Now Miriam was a nice kind of chap.  I never could brag about my victory.  Brad was plenty mean enough, but he was altogether too big for me to tackle.  I kept mum.

 

Soon after this, a little “Poetic justice” overtook Brad, in mid career.  He lived with his uncle, Geo. W. Robinson – son in law of Sidney Rigdon, and a strict Latter day Saint -  One evening Robinson was at a wedding.  He sat near an open window.  A “chivaree” was going on outside and the wedding guest heard voices:  “Say, Brad, how are you feeling tonight?”  “I’m feeling  __________  well!” 

 

__ the blank space above, represents a word that some ministers and actors may use professionally, but

 

[Page 65]

 

otherwise, it’s not considered nice __  I don’t know whether “The wedding guest, here beat his breast,” or not, but he beat the dust from Brad’s jacket next morning.  After the backyard performance was over, Geo. W. remarked:  “Now, Bradford, I guess you don’t feel quite so well!” 

 

[Drawing of “THE DUSTING OF RAIMENT” on original.]

 

He said it!  Right out, flat=footed, saint that he was.  But then of course, it was only as a quotation!  Then there was Frank Bacon, a sandy haired, freckled faced boy, a year older than I.  He delighted in war and tumult.  He threw a clod at me.  Then he had to dodge one in return.  I was left-handed, but I could fling an Illinois clod with great accuracy and effect.  The conflict waxed hot, and finally Frank gave ground, and I chased him inside his own yard – He lived quarter of a mile west of town –

 

[Page 66]

 

Pretty soon Frank re-appeared with his hands and pockets full of missiles, and charged with a yell.  Surprised at his onset, I fell back with the utmost speed, until I had gained my own entrenchments.  Then adopting his own tactics.  I gathered a lot of ammunition, and rushed out, and charged in my turn.  He gave ground at the first touch, and I soon had him shut up in his own yard.  But again he issued forth, and again I fled; and we kept this kind of war-fare on the come and go, until we were pretty well worn out.  It was inglorious.  About this time Mr. Bacon left La Harpe for several years.  When he returned, Frank and I met.  As we eyed one another, it was evident that I had beat him in physical growth.  After a moment he remarked:

 

“When I went away, I know I could lick ye; but now I don’t think I could.  If we’d fight I don’t believe either would lick.”

 

[Page 67]

 

A treaty of peace ensued, and we were good friends after that.

 

I must jump ahead several years.  I was old enough to know better, but had great provocation.  A lot of us boys had been in the creek swimming.  I was the last one to come out, and as I did so, a fellow called Sam Porter threw mud on me.  I warned him, returned to the water, and washed the mud off; but again he repeated his offense. 

 

According to Grandpa’s code he was plenty “mean” enough to lick, and I rushed up the bank, and gave him a punch I the ribs.  I out – classed him in size, and he gave way a bit; but he was a sturdy young ruffian, and my blow seemed to madden him.  He braced up and returned blow for blow, instead of turning the other cheek, as he should have done – for it was a peaceful Sabbath morning, and he was in the wrong --

 

“A fight! A fight!!  Have a

 

[Page 68]

 

ring!!!”  Yelled Clark Butcher, and some others of his tribe.

 

“Part ‘em!” cried Wes. Stone – (whose mother was a worker and pillar of the Methodist church) -  But we were now both “fighting mad” and no compromise was possible. 

 

The preliminaries were soon arranged, and I at last “toed the scratch,” “clothed,” but not exactly “in my right mind.”

 

The battle was on, without any useless delay.  There was not much science about it.  No doubt we used the “right swing”, upper-cut, hook, and straight punch” but I suppose we did not realize it.  It was “give and take” with us, as fast as we could deliver the blows.  Sam was as heavy as I,

 

[Drawing named  “MILL ON THE CREEK”.   Several boys and trees.]

 

[Page 69]

 

but I had the advantage of a longer reach.  Finally I landed a body blow that was nearly a finisher – No doubt it was the famous “Solar plexus punch—“  But instead of giving up the contest, he caught up a stick, and struck me several blows, before the referee – Wes. Stone – could stop him.  It was clearly a “foul”, and was so decided.  Sam Porter had an ungovernable temper, and when enraged was afraid of nothing or nobody.   He wanted to fight, and as I agreed, we began the second round.

 

Sam did better this time, and I received some pretty hard jolts.  The old woods rang again, with exultant yells of the Butchers, Gleasons et al, as if Pandemonium had broken loose.

 

“Hit’im again – Now you got him --  go for ‘im,” were the encouraging cries that rose from Sams backers.

 

“Ye’ll have his hoid a-hangin on the fence afore noight!”  prophesized lanky Squire Butcher.

 

[Page 70]

 

But it was not so to be.

 

In an evil moment for Sam, Clark Butcher called out to him:  “Hit him on the nose!”

 

Like an inspiration, came to me my Grandfathers words in regard to noses belonging to your adversary.  Quick as a flash, my right struck out straight from the shoulder, and landed fair and square on Sam’s nasal appendage.  A stream of blood followed, and he was “licked.”  Its true, he at first scratched around for another stick, but the referee soon shook such nonsense from his head.  I got the “Decision.”  Was I elated?  Was I a hero?  Did I clap my wings and crow?  Well hardly.  On the contrary, I felt sort of sore and mean.  Had I been stealing sheep, I’d bragged about it, about as soon.  The folks never heard of it; especially Grandpa.  Sam’s meanness would have satisfied him all right, but not his size.  He ought to have been twice my avoirdupois.  Such is the irony of Fate.

 

[Page 71]

 

Now let us jump back again, after this little digression.  Fistic encounters, now closed.  No feelings of pride or exultation well up in my mind, as I recall them.  “So long!”

 

My first experience with the “Demon Rum,” was as follows:  While playing with George Conrad, John Oatman, Silas Springer, and other “good boys,” we came upon a man, prostrate by the road-side.  A boy near by told us, that he had been told, that the poor man was carrying a pistol in his pocket, and that it went off and shot him in the neck!  As the unfortunate man was lying on his face, we couldn’t see his neck, but we silently clustered about him with the deepest sympathy.  A boy, rude and noisy joined us.  “Hush! Don’t

 

[Drawing named “SHOT IN THE NECK!”   Four boys, one man, and ground.]

 

[Page 72]

 

make any noise. This man’s a dyin:  He’s shot himself!”, explained one of our party, in a stage whisper.

 

“Shot yer granny,” shouted the new comer, ”Why he’s drunk; dead drunk!”

 

I hung around, after the boys had dispersed, to see what would happen.  After awhile a man came up with a bucket of water.  He began by pouring it carefully on the man’s head; then he distributed the fluid to other parts of his anatomy.  Another man came, and they finally got the patient in a sitting posture.  Then another bucket of water was dashed over him.  Then a farm wagon was driven up, and the inebriated was loaded in, and carted away.  This I think was before the great “Water-Cure” fad in the Eastern

 

[Drawing named “WATER CURE.”   Man, Boy, and Bucket.]

 

[Page 73]

 

States, and long, long before the “water-cure,” (practiced by U.S.A. soldiers, to civilize and subdue the natives of the Philippine Island,) was ever thought of.  Progression!  Not long after this I paid Geo. Conrad a visit.  I found him in the back yard washing his face, and blubbering like all possessed; while his paternal parent stood in the door-way, scolding poor George at a great rate.

 

“Let me ever hear of your doing such a thing again, and you’ll get a good whipping.”

 

After a season, Geo. and I wandered beyond ear-shot, and he unfolded his tale of woe:  “Dad sent me to town for a bottle of whisky.  On the way back, I sucked the stopper, and when I got in the yard I was so dizzy, I fell down, and nearly broke the bottle.  I tell you dad was mad!” 

 

Being a saint, and a meek follower of the “Prophet Joseph,” I trust Mr. Conrad put the liquor to no improper use.  Rattle-snakes abounded.

 

[Page 74]

 

Another time a Mr. Bosworth, or Bostick, a tall, hatchet-faced old codger, with glittering eyes, black as ink, came to see Sammon on business.  He left the house, and came to me by the front gate.  He held me with his glittering eye, while he placed in my hands a long black bottle, tied in a red handkerchief.  He spoke:

 

“Take this to Mr. Gouchenor’s store, and tell him to fill it with his best whisky, and charge it to Mr. B-.  Now try and remember.”

 

Spell-bound I obeyed.  In five minutes I was back with the empty bottle, and my report:

 

“Mr. Gouchenor says you must pay for what you got, before.”  Slowly and sadly, he slipped the “empty” into his pocket and departed.  I don’t think he was afraid of rattle-snakes.  The poor man looked bilious, and I suppose he needed a nip now and then for his stomach’s sake.  You ought to have seen Liza, when I told her about it.

 

[Page 75]

 

Our house was large, and tramps and travelers, - both saints, and sinners – pestered us a great deal.  One summer evening a man called and asked for supper.  We had finished, but the table was still set.  As he took his seat at the board, I saw something was the matter with him.  Tears were running down his cheeks.  He turned to my Grandfather:

 

“Pray for me,” he entreated.

 

To my utter astonishment, he refused.

 

“But you must,” he insisted, “I need your prayers” cried the poor man.  Grandpa looked amused, as he stroked his bald head.  “O no!” he answered, “you can do that yourself, better than I could.”  Then the grief-stricken man rose to his feet, and held to the back of his chair while he addressed “The Throne of Grace.”  Grandpa reverently leaned over on his cane, but I, alert and open-mouthed, stood in a corner.

 

[Drawing named “INEBRIATE’S PRAYOR.”   Two men, one boy, chair and table.]

 

[Page 76]

 

It was sincere.  There can be no doubt about it.  It was a despairing cry for mercy; of self-denunciation, and promise of a better life, so far as I can remember.  He sat down.  He would eat a few mouth fulls, and then talk to Grandpa.

 

“Oh! I have been a wild and wicked man,” he repeated many times.  Grandpa said little, but he smiled often.  It looked unfeeling.  After the guest had finally departed, it was explained to me, that his piety and contrition doubtless came from a black bottle, like Mr. Bostick’s, and I was warned to never fool with bottles of that kind.  It was another good object lesson for me, and I profited thereby, no doubt.  The trouble was, that the piety was morbid, and the contrition unstable.

 

About this time Uncle Lewis married Miss Sophia Robinson – a sister of Geo. W--  Lewis was then about 45.  The bride a few years less.  (Her age was a puzzle and a myth.)  She had a mobile,

 

[Page 77]

 

willowy form, eyes black as night, and hair like the raven’s wing.  She was a little hard of hearing; but that was offset by practical sense, and a praise-worthy economy.

 

Well, soon after the ceremony we had the infair (or infare,) at our house.  A big crowd, happy and gay.  I sat in my little chair alongside Miss Sophia Marks, a niece of the bride.  She talked to me, and petted me a lot.  Liza brought in some current wine.  We each took a glass.  I tasted the stuff.  It was good!  My glass was empty before Sophia had taken a half dozen little sips.  Then she reached down, and half filled it again, from her own glass.  It followed the other jorum, like a second charge of canister in a double shotted howitzer.  Gee-whiz!  How it flew to my head and made me feel as light as a cork.  My feet stamped the floor, and

 

[Drawing named “IN VINO.”   Young lady, boy, and two rocking chairs.

 

[Page 78]

 

I laughed aloud, in tipsy delight.  Dancing was tabooed, of course, but they got up plays and forfeits.

 

A solemn – looking gentleman – a Mr. Coney, I think – was condemned to kiss all the young ladies in the room.  He started out, but my Sophia, and all the other girls made a break for the East room across the hall.  May be one or two were captured in the jam, but I don’t know.  Oh! How I did stamp, and clap and cheer, in all this confusion and laughter.  Then up I jumped and followed the girls.  But they had fastened their door, and I was shut out in the hall.  I peeked through the key-hole.  They were all standing around the table, talking and laughing and I had a good look at them.

 

How very pretty Sally Rigdon looked, with her rosy cheeks, and animated expression.  And Sophia; although she could not compare

 

[Drawing named “SEEN THROUGH THE KEY-HOLD.”    Six ladies, table, and Key Hole.]

 

[Page 79]

 

with Sally in looks, she was pretty too.  The others were all paragons in a lesser degree.  One of them I saw for the first time; Miss Adelia B. Cole.  She was at Mr. Mark’s, and came over with them.  She had striking features, but I didn’t think her so pretty then, as I did afterwards. 

 

One of the houris finally opened the door, to look out, and I was admitted into their paradise.  Then I was instructed to go back and see what “that man” was doing.

 

They followed me into the hall, and stood listening while I went in.  All was quiet, and another game or play was being introduced.  But before I could return and report, somebody laughed, and I couldn’t hold in any longer.  I clapped my hands, yelled and stamped like all possessed.  Then rose a terrible clatter from the hall, interspersed with shrieks of dismay as the girls fled again to their sanctuary.  They thought I was Mr Olney coming after them.  Poor Olney.

 

[Page 80]

 

Well, I guess that’s all that I can remember.  Very likely I had headache next morning, but don’t know.  But I do know, that I was twitted on the subject for a long time thereafter.  It was my first, last, and only spree.

 

There was an organized State Militia.  Several squadrons of “Sucker” cavalry had a sham battle in “Chaffins’ lot” just north-west of our house.  They formed in two opposing lines, and charged each other with loud yells.  Their formation was very open, so they could mutually pass through and turn.  They used the saber only, and each tried, seemingly, to strike his opponent’s weapon from his hand.  Several men were dismounted, and went limping away.  Some of the officers wore uniforms.  Captain Thornton was gorgeous, compared with the others.  The rank and file were in citizens dress, horse and foot.  Fife and drum furnished all the music.  The local company was infantry.  “The La Harpe Invincibles,” maybe.  Grandpa and I watched their per-

 

[Page 81]

 

formances.   After the company had “fallen in,” our vis a vis, Mr. Bliss, and several other members, squatted down on the ground, while Mr. Chaffin – orderly sergeant – called the roll.  As each mans name was called, he was required to say, “with,” or “without a gun.”

 

“Bliss,” was shouted by the orderly.

“Here; with a gun.”  And Mr. Bliss rose to his feet, and held up a very small and short sporting rifle.

 

“Gurley.”  Sam Gurley – a regular smart alex – stepped from the ranks.  “Here; with a gun.”  And he banged off his old shot-gun in the air, to show that it would go off, I suppose.  Another man reported:  “Here; with a gun.”  A discussion in regard to its merits ensued, and several examined it.  All contrary to good discipline.  Some of the soldiers had no guns.  They were armed with palings or sticks.  A big fat man, Samuel White, I think was the commanding officer.

 

[Drawing named “DRESS PARADE.”   Several soldiers with guns.]

 

[Page 82]

 

Their evolutions were on a par with their appearance.  The Sucker Squad would not compare with the Virginia Militia.  So I told Liza, and my interest in soldiers subsided.

 

One day we heard cannon firing on the public Square. – Fourth of July I guess – I wanted to go, and see the fun, and Uncle Lewis took me.  It was a cast iron six pounder, borrowed from Nauvoo.  When we got there it had been reloaded, and an old man, a Mr. Forscythe, I think – held the lighted match.  He was a veteran, and was telling of a battle in which he had participated.  I can only remember where he said:  “The smoke was rising up and floating off, above their line, all the time.  O, I tell you it did look pretty! “  He was a rather large man, grey-haired, and sturdy.  – With a “Button”, and some beard, he’d looked about the same as the G.A.R. comrades of today. – After he had finished his recital,

 

[Page 83]

 

he stepped to one side, and called out:  “Ready!  Clear the way in front.”  Then he blew the smoking match, that was fastened in the split end of a long stick, and slowly lowered it to the vent.  In an instant every thing was obscured in a thick mass of smoke, and my ears were stunned by the biggest bang they had ever experienced.  A loud yell arose from the spectators, and when the smoke lifted we saw that the cannon had burst.  The breech was lying behind the gun-carriage and fragments, great and small were scattered over the square.  A fifty pound chunk was thrown over our heads, and landed in our rear.  Lewis inspected it with some show of special interest.  “ I shot! If that had hit us!” he

 

[Drawing named “FOOLING WITH POWDER.”    Two men, young boy, cannon blowing up

 

[Page 84]

 

simply remarked, at all times. 

 

Mr. Forscythe was badly hurt in the face and legs, and was taken to Dr. Choat’s office, close by.  No one else hurt, but many close calls.  Liza thought mine close enough.  It was my third narrow escape.  1st the Steamboat – wreck;  2nd my absence of doctors experience; and now this gun-powder peril.  (I must have as many lives as a cat.)  As Lewis and I were going home we met a young man with abnormally long legs.  He was running at the top of his speed, and bawling at the top of his voice:  “The Nauvoo cannon is busted to hell!”  He addressed the sad tidings to no one in particular.  A kind of herald.  It was town talk for days.  They said the accident was caused by using blue-grass sod for wading.  It must have been a severe loss to the Mormons, for they had a war on their hands in a year or two, and were short in artillery.

 

[Page 85]

 

After this I was repeatedly warned to never meddle with the gun, or fool with powder.  Sammons silver mounted rifle was put out of sight, and the powder – horn hung on a higher nail.  One day a man left a curious kind of breech loading repeater at our house.  I was fingering it, as it stood in the corner, when Sammon entered.

 

“Here, you!” he yelled.  “Let that thing alone.  You might get it started and it’ll go to shooting all over the house.”

 

Then Lewis came, and inspected.  “My hum!  I wouldn’t like to shoot that contrivance, with some of the loads pointing back at me.”  They all seemed afraid of it, and were glad when the man came and took it away.

 

Burdett Sperry had a little lead cannon, that somebody had given him.  He said if I could get some powder, we’d have some fun.

 

[Drawing named “A GENTILE EXTERMINATOR!  Revolving rifle.  1843’ on original.]

 

[Page 86]

 

But the powder horn was far beyond my reach.  We went to his home.  “You ask mother, and mebbe she’ll let you have some.

 

With trepidation I preferred my request.  Mrs. Ebdn Sperry looked down at me with a pleasant smile.  She was kneading bread, at the time.  “Why we haven’t a bit of powder in the house,” she replied.  She seemed sorry about it too, but may be she was not.

 

“Why don’t you take some flour?  Look here,” and she sprinkled a pinch of the substitute over the fire.  It sparkled and burned something like the real stuff.  With a supply of the new ammunition, Burdett and I soon had the cannon loaded and primed, and in position in the yard.  Then with apprehensive quakes we tried to touch it off with a long stick that Mrs. Sperry let us light at the

 

[Drawing named “NO GO.” on original.  Young boy, lady, and 2 men, side of house, and flowers.]

 

[Page 87]

 

fireplace.  She and her daughter Janet watched our discomfiture from the door-way.

 

“Grandpa, what’s powder made of?”  I asked that night; at the fireside.  “Powder?  Why its made if brimstone, charcoal, and salt peter, mixed.”  “How is it made?”  “Well, the Turks first invented it.”  (We all thought so, then.)  “They made big pot metal cannon, with a mouth as big as that blickey,” (Grandpa’s word for a bucket.) and shot big stones out of them.  The rascals nearly over-run Europe.”

 

“Did you ever see any of them?”  “No, sartainly not.  That was four or five hundred years before I was born.”  What did they do?  “They went around cutting and slashing.  They burned up all the towns, and killed all the

 

[Drawing named “POWDER TALK.”   Old man, boy, and chair.]

 

[Page 88]

 

people they could catch, and made slaves of the rest.  But finally the Eu-rope-eans gathered armies and chased ‘em back again.” 

 

“What if they hadn’t done it?”  I asked after a little pause.

 

“We’d all been slaves, today!” was Grandpa’s prompt reply.

 

Next morning I opened a drawer where Liza kept some roll-brimstone.  A piece, big as a hickory-nut was broken off, and I slipped it in my pocket.  At the ash-hopper I clawed out several coals, and wrapped them up in a rag.  I didn’t know what saltpeter was, and was afraid to ask, &c.  I hied me off to Sperry’s, and explained it all to Burdett.  But we could find no saltpeter.  He said maybe it would do without, so we pounded up the two ingredients, and tried a little heap with our fiery stick.  But not a flash rewarded us our labor.  I don’t know as I ever felt keener disappointment.  Liza never missed the brimstone, fortunately.

 

[Page 89]

 

I was kind of superstitious.  I had no nerve in the presence of anything that might be called supernatural, and I was scary in the dark.  Sister Lide was told to go upstairs for something, and I went along to carry the candle.  When she got what she wanted, and had started back, her feet became entangled in some spool thread, on the floor.  The spool was in a washstand basin, and as she walked, the spool as it was unwound, rattled.

 

 “What’s that?”  I cried.  Lide laughed and ran down stairs, with me at her heels yelling at every jump.  “A booger!”  I shouted, as we reached the bottom.  Then I thought Liza had gone crazy.  She grabbed sister Lide, and cuffed her ears.

 

“No, no,”  I cried when I could get breath,”  It’s a booger, rattlin’ up-stairs!”  After it was all explained, I felt pretty cheap. 

 

[Drawing named “ESCAPE FROM A BOOGER.”   Boy and lit candle.]

 

[Page 90]

 

“Boogers!”  said Grandpa, “There aint any such things.  Nobody ever saw one.”  Then I was reminded of the alleged fact, that ghosts, when investigated always turned out to be a white cow, or a shirt on a bean pole, or the like.

 

But there was a strange inconsistency.  I had heard Sammon tell a visitor that he had seen a spirit; and Liza, relate, how she as one night taking care of her sister Fanny, a few days before she died, and hearing the door latch click, turned and saw the latch slowly rise, and fall.  She opened the door, but nobody was there.  Grandpa told of a ten year old boy “back in jarsey” who could see things.  One day he put his hands over his face, and began to laugh and call out:  “How funny dad looks running down the hill after the cider keg!”

 

His father was on a trip to Barnegat, and did actually chase his keg on the very hour as reported by the boy.

 

[Drawing named “THE GHOSTLY LATCH.”   Lady,  girl, bed, door, and door latch.]

 

[Page 91

 

Well, in this 20th century, we call such things “Clairvoyance;” a very tame, ordinary thing indeed, but at that time, it had a very spooky, miraculous aspect in my wonder-seeking eyes.

 

Then he told another supernatural tale, that fairly shook the rag from the bush.  A stout, healthy gentleman; a neighbor of his, whose name was, I think, Holecraft, (Let’s call it Holecraft, anyway,) was awakened one dark night, by hearing foot-steps on the floor of his room.  Being a brave man, he leaped from his bed to seize the intruders.  He searched and felt in vain.  Nothing!  He listened.  Then he heard the footsteps again, as of many people.  They came to where he stood; they circled round him in a kind of weird dance, and passed from the room with a very peculiar trampling, shuffling noise that Mrs. Holecraft never forgot.  She remained in bed, frozen with terror, during all this ghostly performance and when her husband returned, her fears were augmented, by his saying:  “This is a warning.  I am going to die.”

 

[Page 92]

 

And die he did.  In a day or two he had an attack of bilious colic.  In these days the surgeons would have called it “Appendicitis,” and carved him up to the tune of four or five hundred dollars; but luckily for Mr. Holecraft, that disease had not been invented, and the poor man died in peace.  When the pallbearers were going through the door with the remains, Mrs. Holecraft cried out:  “There! That is the very sound we heard that dreadful night.”

 

The family bible had pictures in it.  I was always fond of looking at them, and asking for an explanation thereof.  One represented a woman with a stick in her hand; and below her a man on his knees, with the top of his head resting on the floor, while in front of them was somebody wrapped up in a sheet,  The man was Saul, the woman, “The Witch of Endor,” while the spooky one was the Spirit of

 

[Drawing named “FOOT-FALLS DUPLICATED.”   Six men and casket.]

 

[Page 93]

 

my namesake, the prophet Samuel.  So Grandpa told me.  His picture represented him as a hatchet-faced, hollow-eyed, hazy looking individual, and I was glad when told that I was not named after him, but after my uncle.  He looked too much like a booger, to suit me, and I so classed him.  In fact the whole book seemed full of booger stories, from beginning to end, and all of them being true stories, made my side of the question very strong.  But Grandpa told me such things happened thousands of years ago; and never did, would, or could again.  This of course closed the subject on that point; but it could not eradicate my innate dread of spooks; nor prevent my hasty leaps into bed of dark nights, for fear of a frightful arm reaching out from under the bed and clutching me by the ankle.

 

[Drawing named “UNDER-HAND TRICK.”   Boy and bed.]

 

[Page 94]

 

A fearful tragedy occurred in our town.  One raw cloudy day there was an alarm of fire.  In the afternoon I went with Grandpa to see the ruins.  It was a two-story brick building, and a child had been burned to death, in it.  While we were there the body was raked out from the ruins, and taken into Lanyon’s house, close by.  Two men carried the remains on a board, right by where Grandpa and I stood.  It was black, and both legs were gone at the knees.  The horrid odor of roasted human flesh filled my nostrils.  It smelled just like beef or pork, fresh from the bake-oven.  The mother was out, making calls – gadding, some of the neighbors termed it – while the child was asleep and alone, near an open fire-place.  How the fire started nobody could tell.

 

The lady was a Mrs. Mary Steadwell.  She was a Mormon and as poor as poor could be.  Her husband had been killed

 

[Page 95]

 

by the Missourians, at the battle of Hawn’s Mill – or Stone Windmills, as some called it – in Caldwell Co. Mo. some years before.

 

She came to our house one day seeking aid, I believe.  I heard her tell Liza all about the battle.  She was with her husband, and after he was killed, was shot herself through the hand.  It was the first gun-shot wound I had ever seen.  The bullet had passed between the thumb, and index finger of the left hand.  It broke no bones, but made an ugly scar.

 

“Didn’t it hurt you awfully?” asked Liza.  “Not much,” said Mrs. Steadwell.  “I felt the bullet sting, and saw the blood, and then I tried to get away.  As I ran, I stumbled over a log, and fell down, and didn’t get up again till the men had all left.  There was a boy about fourteen

 

[Drawing named “WOUNDED HEROINE’S HAND.” on original.]

 

[Page 96]

 

and one of the mobbers was going to kill him, when another one said:  “For God’s sake don’t shoot that boy.”

 

But the other fellow told him that the boy would grow up to be a “mad dog” like the rest of the Mormons, and he shot him down.”  Mrs. Steadwell came to Nauvoo, and a literary Saint wrote a history or a romance about her.  We saw the book – It was in pamphlet form I think – and in it she was styled “The Beautiful Mary.”  But Liza was not of that opinion.

 

“A coarse looking, wall-eyed creature,” was her verdict.  Soon, Mary flitted.  One day a man was talking with my uncle, and he had a rifle with him, which he told Summon had been in the battle of “Stone Windmills”.  We all looked at it with great curiosity.  It was a plain maple full-stock, deer gun, and the stock shattered by a bullet in the engagement, had been patched up.  The man was not

 

[Page 97]

 

in the fight himself, however.  A pious, poetical genius wrote:

“When Governor Boggs

“Called out his dogs

“To drive us from Missouri!”

 

The ballad was a pitiful tale of woe, and ended with:

 

“O Missouri! The mobbers of Missouri!”  (They were the same kind of chaps that tried to drive the Abolitionists from Kansas Territory in “56”.)  But some claimed there were two sides to the story.  A man stopped with us overnight.  He was a bitter “Gentile”, and told us a harrowing story of his wrongs at the hands of the “Saints”:  “The Mormons had warned me to leave, and one day two of ‘em comes up to my house to see if I had gone.  I went out to ‘em in the yard, and one of ‘em says: “How’s this,

 

[Drawing named “MORMON ATROCITIES.”   Three men, two guns, and side of house.]

 

[Page 98]

 

You’ve been warned to clear out, and you’ve got to go.

 

‘I aint a goin to do it,’ says I, and you cant make me.  Get out of this yard,’ and I went at ‘em.  One of ‘em drawed his pistol on me.  I made a grab for it, and the hammer caught my hand.  Look here, “ and the man showed us an ugly scar on his hand.  “I then jerked the pistol from him, and the man turned and run out the gate.  During all this, my wife had come out to us with a flat iron, and when the man with the gun was a goin’ to shoot me, she runs up behind him, and knocks him down with it.  There the feller lay, kind of  stunned like, and me and my wife grabbed him by the legs and snaked him out of the yard!  They had no arms, and couldn’t do nothin’ and they left mighty quick I tell ye;”

 

[Drawing named “SNAKING HIM OUT.”    Two men and lady.]

 

[Page 99]

 

Now let us whop over to the other side again.  The great Sidney Rigdon preached a sermon in La  Harpe, which it was my great privilege to hear.  There was a lot of theological stuff that was all Dutch to me, of course, but one part of his address I have never forgotten.  (His discourse rather.)  He told in substance, how he, once upon a time, was preaching the gospel in a God-forsaken community, and how in the dead hours of the night a band of dissenting gentiles  dragged him from his couch; rid him of superfluous raiment; applied a soft coating of tar to his person; decorated it all with goose feathers, and were about to mount him on the usual three-cornered fence rail, when, “Presto” –

 

“The spirit of God descended upon me, His unworthy servant, and I seemed to be endowed with Super natural strength.  My persecutors beat me with clubs, but I felt them not at all, being miraculously preserved from death at the

 

[Page 100]

 

hands of my blood thirsty foes.  With a strength not my own, I broke loose from their murderous grasp, and fled away with a marvelous swiftness, that defied pursuit.”  Grandpa didn’t go to hear the sermon but we told him the substance of the thrilling parts.  But he didn’t thrill.  In his opinion Rigdon lacked “boldness, and resolution,” and had lost all presence of mind.  There was nothing miraculous in his flight.  “Most anybody in his flight.  “Most anybody will run fast, if he’s scared bad enough,” was his verdict.  And his insensibility to the clubs, and his wonderful strength in his get away, Grandpa assigned to the same cause:  “Scared!”

 

But the truth is, that tarring and feathering must be a little scary to the taree, to say the least; and who can prove that the Lord did not help and protect him?

 

[Drawing named “SIDNEY RIGDON AS A BIRD.” on original.]

 

[Page 101]

 

Rigdon was no doubt ambitious and something of a scamp, but I am sure he was misrepresented in many things.  One history said, that he wrote the book of Mormon, all out of his own wicked head; and another history, that I now have, here in the house, claims that he was the first Mormon to advocate polygamy.  Shucks!  Grandpa and history are not infallible, I greatly fear; and at any rate I must stick up for my 142nd cousin!  Blood is thicker than water, we all know, or ought to know.  No doubt in my mind, but he was sincere, and took spooky performances, and mesmeric tricks, for the mesmeric tricks, for the special works of the Lord.  He had brains, but no judgment.  In the forceful words of Grandpa:  “Lord help the fool!”

 

About this time Uncle Samuel began to taper off on the religious racket.  We always had family prayers after morning and evening meals, but after break-

 

[Page 102]

 

fast on one particular morning, he seemed to be in a terrible hurry and as he rose from the table, he astonished us all by remarking:  “We will not have prayer for this time.  One can overdo a thing even in matters of religion.”  And so I was in part curtailed in my pleasure of helping to sing:  “Hosanna to God and the Lamb.”

 

One dark misty night, soon after this, we were all down on our knees at family worship, and I was getting awful tired, for uncle was naturally pretty long winded, and maybe was trying to make amends for matinal omissions when our ears were saluted by a succession of most fearful sounds.  First came a musket shot; then “A yell, like all the fiends of hell,” let loose; horns, tin pans, and cowbells.  In a moment had one eye open – wicked little wretch that I was – and was somewhat

 

[Drawing named “INTERRUPTED DEVOTIONS.”   Two men and Rocking Chair.]

 

[Page 103]

 

astonished to meet several other furtive glances.  Rev. Sammon faltered a moment, and then finished his prayer.  But it lasted not half a minute longer.  How I rejoice!  (Mr. Rufus Norris had just been married to Miss Cogswell, our neighbors daughter, and all this uproar was made by a serenade party, outside.  “Snading”, the Illinois Suckers called it.)

 

Perhaps sometime before this, a great event happened in our household.  One day sister Lide and I were invited up stairs, into the west room.  There we found Aunt Maria; and Miss Maria Bingham who was holding a bundle of clothes in her lap.  “Come here,” the latter said to us, “and see the sweetest little baby in the world.”  Lide hung back, but after a little more urging I ventured up, all expectation.  What a revulsion when the bundle was unwrapped!  I did not cry out; I did not flinch.  Motionless I stood, gazing down at the fearsome sight, in silent stupor.

 

[Page 104]

 

It seemed to amuse Miss Bingham, for she laughed immoderately.  “Did you ever see anything so pretty?”  I was dumb.  “Come now,” she cried, putting her hand on my shoulder, “Isn’t she just as pretty as can be?”

 

“Yes”, I finally muttered – (may I be forgiven) –

 

“O, look!” exclaimed the crafty nurse, “she’s puckering up her pretty little lips for you to kiss her!  Yes, just see how sweet she looks.  Come, now, you must kiss her.”  Our folks were not of the kissing kind.  I had never kissed anybody but Liza, in my life.  I glanced furtively at Lide.  She had backed up against the door.  I was left to my fate, evidently.  The object was lifted to my face, and in sheer desperation I pressed my lips to one of the wrinkles supposed to be the mouth.  Then I

 

[Drawing named “KISSING THE BABY.”   Young boy, baby, lady, and rocking chair.]

 

[Page 105]

 

scuttled.  “What did you do that for?” queried Lide, on the stairs.  I could frame no excuse, and I held my tongue, mentally concluding that in kissing Miss Catherine E. James, I had made a bad mess of it.  This little episode may have been the cause of my never acquiring the kissing-of-girls habit, in after years.  “As the twig is bent”- etc. etc.  (Half a score of years after this scrape, a vivacious young lady remarked to my sister:  “How very old and sour-looking, your brother seems!  He looks as if he were thirty, and had never kissed a pretty girl in his life.”  Poor me.)

 

The baby, (Kit, or Youngone, I called her) grew apace, and was soon creeping all over the house, pulling my favorite cats by the ears and tails, and when I would try to rescue them, she would almost deafen me with her yells.  Liza said she was cross as a bag of wildcats, and I expect she was about right in her opinion.  Brigham Young

 

[Page 106]

 

was coming to the front in Nauvoo about this time, and I heard his name frequently mentioned by the “besotted Saints.  So I changed Kits nickname from “Youngone” to “Young” and finally to “Brig Young.”  Then I composed an absurd distich on the name, which I changed in Season, and out of Season; and one day while I was going full blast, Aunt Marie laughingly informed me that Brigham Young was in the next room, and the melody ceased.  Pretty soon I found my way in, and there I saw the man that cut such a figure in after years.  As I remember him, he was not a bit pretty.  Kind of big, and red, and cross-looking.  He had come to see my Uncle about something or other, and I noticed that Sammon did about all the talking.  What it was all about, I don’t know more than the man in

 

[Drawing named “AS I SAW BRIGHAM YOUNG.”   Two men and a chair.]

 

[Page 107]

 

the moon; but of one thing I am sure:  I saw at one time, tears ready to flow from the Saintly optics.  What in the world could Uncle have said, that would so affect the old scalawag?  I.W.T.K.  Another kind of a Mormon bothered us a lot.  He would drop in and stay several days at a time, and was fearfully tiresome.  The old fellow’s name was Bond, but Liza called him “Plunkey.”  One day Sammon and Lewis were getting firewood, and invited Plunkey and myself to participate.  It was surmised that the old fellow hated manual labor like sin, and it proved correct.  He chopped while the others were present, but when they were away hauling, he would let his axe cool.  I went to him with a handful of hickory nuts, and we sat on a log, and cracked and ate thereof.  The Saint seemed depressed.  “I am getting too old to work,” he signed in half soliloquy.  Next morning he flitted before the team was hitched.  A few

 

[Page 108]

 

Months afterward, Grandpa and I met Plunkey steering for our house.  A dialogue ensued:  “How are the Nauvoo people?”  “First rate”, answered Plunkey, who had arrived from there.  “But what is this I hear about them harboring thieves and robbers?”  People have got to lyin’ about ‘em.  “And there’s that cussed spiritual wife doctrine.  What about that?”  (Remember Grandpa had been a soldier in the Jarseys.)  “The most abominable thing under heaven and airth!”  he continued, striking the end of his cane into the aforesaid “airth.”

 

Poor Plunkey looked horrified to hear his religion assailed in this fashion, and without a word he sheered off, and we saw him no more.  We all rejoiced. 

 

But I don’t think the Mormons were near as bad as represented.  Jim Reynolds, a gentile – lost some hay.  He traced the scattered hay to Mr. Blanks premises – another

 

[Page 109]

 

La Harpe gentile – He entered the house and announced his loss.  Mr. Blank, (not his real name,) fairly bubbled over with sympathy and indignation, and after a long tirade, ended:  “T warn’t so before the Mormons came!”

 

That bunch of hay was purchased at a rattling big price; and the accusing sentence was painted on an old building in the eastern part of town.  I saw it there myself.  The hay hooker did not tarry for any considerable time in our town after that scrape.  And so I think the Saints were often accused of evil deeds they never dreamed of committing.  They were more foolish than dishonest.

 

[Drawing named “T WARNT SO BEFORE THE MORMONS CAME.”   Front part of house and some flowers.]

 

I was very fond of deleterious food, and was frequently ill from over indulgence thereof.  One day Liza stood over me

 

[Page 110]

 

with the usual childhoods’ remedy – “Castor oil”.  I refused it, fearing it might be disagreeable of taste.  Is it nasty?”  I inquired.  “Why no, not so very.  Come take it like a good little poppet.  It will make you well.  Come now.”  Unfortunately a drop of the oil fell on the arm of my little green chair.  In a moment my index finger had wiped it up, and transferred it to my tongue.  “It’s nasty!”  I roared.  “Take it away; I wont take it!”

 

The Rev. Samuel James was standing in front of us, with his back to the fire, and his hands under his claw-hammer coat tails.  He was viewing our proceedings with stern disfavor.  I will explain here, that my uncle possessed personal magnetism in a remarkable degree.  In his professional career he had often swayed the listening multitude like reeds shaken in the wind.  Masterful – resistless – triumphant!

 

[Page 111]

 

“Stop that!  Take your medicine,” he thundered out, stepping forward.  “It’s nasty,” I repeated,  “I tasted it, and I know it’s nasty.”

 

Then Sammons magnetism, and will power, and righteous indignation, fairly boiled and bubbled.  “Tasted it, have you?  What business had you to taste it.  You’ll taste something else, if you don’t look out, old man.  Take it!  Quick now!”  I snapped my jaws together defiantly.  “A sprout!” he shouted, “get me a sprout – open your mouth – wider – Now – down with it!”  When the strenuous pressure was removed, and I had collected my scattered wits, the spoon was empty, and my mouth felt like a greased wheel.  My choice of oils was no doubt a judicious one; as my familiarity of the peach-tree lubricant, made it easily the loser.

 

[Drawing named “CASTOR OIL VERSUS PEACH-TREE OIL, PEACH-TREE OIL LOSES.” on original.]

 

[Page 112]

 

CHAPTER.

 

Now I have something wonderful to relate.  I have seen what not one person in many millions has ever seen.  A real, live, genuine prophet.

 

One day the great Latter-day Saint “prophet, priest, and king,” Joe Smith, was taking a carriage ride with his family near La Harpe, when by some means his little boy Frederick fell out and broke his leg.  Our house was nearby, and they brought the boy, and took him upstairs.  Of course, common courtesy would not allow us to turn them aside, and so the great “prophet of the Lord,” and his family staid several days with us.  I can remember of seeing the prophet but once.  I opened the door of the east room, and there I saw the famous prophet in a chair, trotting one of his little boys on his knee and hearing him recite a short poem, or something of that kind.  The kid rattled it off fluently at first,

 

[Page 113]

 

but soon he hesitated.

 

“Spare the rod and spoil the child,” prompted the prophetic saint.  “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” repeated the little chap.  Then the holy man laughed aloud.  Fact.  These big ears of mine heard it.  No mistake.  And the cachinnation was very natural.  Nothing at all like what I imagined the prophet Samuel, for instance, indulged in.  Nothing weird or supernatural.  Joe Smith struck me as a very pleasant kind of being.  Not at all like the solemn, glum – looking Brigham Young.  Yes – or Sidney Rigdon.  Maybe Sammon himself could not exceed the prophet in urbanity.  But of course Joe was looking his best while playing with the boy.  I am glad I saw him so.  Not many months; and he was

 

[Drawing named “AS I SAW JOE SMITH.”   Man, little boy, and chair.]

 

[Page 114]

 

to lie riddled with gentile lead, in Carthage jail-yard.

 

Was he knave or fool?  Many say a little of both.  He claimed that he was instructed by God Almighty himself.  No go – between, or anything of that kind.  “Thus saith the Lord,” settled the whole question, when Joe “shot off his mouth.”  Perhaps the Prophet believed it himself, as he undoubtedly possessed some powers as a clairvoyant, and dreamer of dreams etc.  In this case he was foolish from our present standpoint.  If not, he was of course, a designing rascal, and knew he was deceiving the credulous multitude.  But who knows!  Where is the proof either way?  Like all similar speculations, they end in _____________________________________.

 

Joe Smiths oldest boy, (Joseph.) was a year or two older than myself.  We played together, and I found he was a jolly little chap.  Maybe he was plenty mean enough to lick, according to Grandpa’s code, but that was out of the question.  He was altogether too big.

 

[Page 115]

 

We were in the yard playing mumble-peg with Joe’s knife.  It was an old rattly concern, with one handle loose.  After I had used the knife, Joe took it, and pulled open the broken handle.  I had rebroken it?  “Look here,” he cried, “you’ve broken my knife.  You’ve got to give me something for it.”

 

I had a toy hammer, that the little Saint had admired and coveted.  After some little discussion on both sides, he announced his ultimatum:  “Give me the hammer, and we’ll call it square.”

 

Reluctantly I surrendered it.  Next day, Liza, Young Joe and his mother Emma, and myself were in the house together.  Joe had the hammer in his hand.  At sight of it, my wrongs welled up.

 

“Give me my little hammer,” I cried, reaching for the same.”

 

“’Taint yours, its mine,” retorted the juvenile prophet.  Liza looked around,  “Why that is Samuel’s hammer,”

 

[Page 116]

 

she exclaimed.

 

“It is not,” cried the prophetess, priestess, and queen, Emma, “he gave it to Joseph.”

 

“No I didn’t,”  I contradicted -, vile little reprobate that I was -  “its mine, and I’m goin’ to have it.”  Noble Liza; she never swerved a hairs breath before the royal lady.  Instead of boxing my impudent ears out of the Saintly presence, she very quietly said:  “It certainly is Samuel’s hammer.

 

Queen Emma snatched the toy from her hopeful’s hands, and put it out of reach, on top of a piece of furniture.  Then she retired out of the room.  And so the self-styled “Chosen people of God,” failed in an attempt to collect indemnity.  Next day there was an exodus of Saints.

 

[Drawing named “LIZA AND QUEEN EMMA.”   Two ladies, two young boys, and Chest of Drawers.]

 

[Page 117]

 

The La Harpers had a Masonic Lodge.   Uncle S. belonged, and Uncle Lewis was inveigled into joining it, also.  One day Liza told me to go to Oatman’s tavern, and tell Lewis to come to dinner.  When I got there, the landlord’s son, John told me that my uncle was up-stairs.  “Come on, and I will show you,” he said.  When we had reached the upper regions John stopped, and whispered in my ear: “Knock at that door.”

 

Now I cant remember whether I gave one rap, and then three, or not; but anyhow the door flew open to my signal, and there right in front of me stood a man with a drawn sword in his hand, and what I at first took to be the front portion of his shirt hanging over his waist-band.  “What do you want here?” he sternly demanded.  I was too badly frightened to speak.  Helplessly I glanced past the dreadful man, and

 

[Drawing named “HIRAM ABIFF.”    Several men and young boy.]

 

[Page 118]

 

saw my Uncle Lewis and a lot of other men; and what struck me with amazement, was that every last one of them had a disarrangement of shirt, and a collection of metal trinkets hanging about the person.  At sight of me Lewis came forward.  “What is it?”  he asked.  “Dinner’s ready,”  I faltered out.  “I’ll come bimeby; Now you run home.”  The door was slammed in my face, and the chuckling John escorted me below.  It was immensely funny to John, but I felt pretty cheap; especially when he kept repeating:  “I saw the Masons with their aprons on,” after he had explained my mistake in regard to them.

 

“Why they was aprons; didn’t ye know?  Grandpa disliked the Free Masons.  “Don’t you ever have anything to do with them,” he commanded me.  “What do they do?”  I asked.  “They murdered Captain Morgan; and there’s no knowing what other wicked, abominable things they do, all there by themselves” he replied.

 

[Page 119]

 

“Secret Societies are always bad things;  They make you take an oath to never tell about any of their doings.  Its all tomfoolery, to pick the money from people who have no wit.  If they get hold of you, they’ll make a slave of you.  Let ‘em alone.”  (And I took his advise, so far as the Free Masons are concerned.)

 

Uncle Samuel opened a store in La Harpe, and a man named Kelley was clerk.  Kelley was a brisk little man, with a whaling big wart on his face.  This store was expected to scrape in the filthy lucre at a tremendous rate.  But Liza, had her doubts about it ever being able to cut such capers.  Her judgment was extremely sound.  I think for good hard sense, she surpassed all the rest of us, multiplied by three.  Now in those days a woman was not rated very high.  Even Grandpa doubted whether a woman ever wrote “The Scottish Chiefs.”  If she happened to own property, her husband was compelled to take care of it for her.  As Liza was a spinster, Sammon acted in lieu of a husband.

 

[Page 120]

 

So the store was a kind of common stock affair, and we were all supposed to be on the road of uncomfortable wealth.  But the fool thing worked just the other way.  After Mr. Kelley’s salary was paid, and the other expenses, there was nearly always an aching void, that had to be filled with good hard cash.

 

Liza at last rebelled, and finally won Grandpa to her way of thinking.  Then he divided his property equally to all of us. Eliza and I received our mothers share, and it was invested in a quarter section farm, and two tracts of wood-land.  Lucky for us.  Sammon’s share was curtailed.  On one of his preaching forays, he had taken $900.00 along for possible need in case of accident, or the like, and when he got home; he had hardly money enough to jingle against a tombstone.  He despised the sordid seeking of a salary.  He believed in Salvation being free, literally and absolutely.  Had the store piled in the money as he had hoped, then

 

[Page 121]

 

might his dream have been realized.  How many souls he saved, I never learned; perhaps he did not know himself.  But as such things have no financial rating, Grandpa allowed no rebate, therefor.  Many a theological opponent had been wound up; many a presumptuous sectarian priest, had been silenced, and although Grandpa greatly admired such things in his brilliant son, they counted not in the settlement.  Pity it was.  My uncle – if I do say it myself – was by far the brightest man in town.  He had a noble head, with the intellectual bumps so largely developed, they seemed almost top-heavy.  His eloquence was phenomenal.  Had he turned evangelist, he might have made a shining light, and incidentally secured much of that dress termed “currency”.  But he never could reconcile religion with the love of paltry pelf, and there you have it.  After this he took one or two short jaunts in the

 

[Page 122]

 

good cause.  Finally he gave up, and let others take up the cross and continue the work.  His religious views were good and sound:  A literal belief in the Holy Scripture;  The Trinity – Vicarious atonement – bottomless pit – Resurrection – Second coming of Christ, - in the course of a very few years – and a personal Prince of Darkness.  One time, while Sammon was preaching far from home, he was stricken with a malignant fever, and he claimed that the Evil One, and a number of his under – strappers clustered at his bed – side.  “What did the old Fellow in Hoops look like?” queried Liza one day, years after the visitation.

 

Now I happened to be present, and of course was all attention

 

[Drawing named “I. PETER  CHAPTER V. 8.”   Devils and Demons.]

 

[Page 123]

 

to get a graphic, reliable description of the Father of Lies; but try as I may, I cannot recall it to memory.

 

However, I remember what he said about the small fry, all right:  “They had hooked beaks like vultures, and they would gather around and gawp at me, as I lay in bed; and when I would motion them away, they would give way a little, and then crowd up again.  But when Flagg would come to give me something, they would all clear out, while he was around.”

 

Naturally, one would suppose Brother Flagg to have been an austere man of exemplary piety; a kind of Saint Dunstan, or Martin Luther.  But the reverse was true,  He was a rollicking blade for a church member, and looked upon the wine when it was red.  Now Sammon’s clairvoyant powers were at this time so exalted, that he could see right through a person like an x-ray camera.  He looked, and there inside of Flagg he saw a devil bigger and uglier than the

 

[Page 124]

 

ones outside; and when he broke the news to Flagg – perhaps not to gently – that gentleman got huffy, and his infernal guest grew more and more conspicuous.  Now what was all this?  Delirium; or spooks?  You and I know as much as to what it was, as anybody else.  When he was convalescent, he had a vision.  He saw a countless throng of angels looking at him over each others shoulders.  If any of them were ladies, they did not obstruct the view with their head-gear.  Uncle said they were all of them as pretty as so many pictures.  Let’s close on this.  (Now remember, these visitations were later on.)

 

Sammon had a beautiful Silver mounted rifle, that would “run 170 bullets to the pound,” and cost $35.  When he would go out squirrel hunting I nearly always went along to help carry the game.  One day as we were trampling along, single file, he was in the lead looking upward for squirrels in the tree-tops, while I was looking carefully to my footsteps, being barefoot, at the time.

 

[Page 125]

 

Suddenly I gave a yell and a jump.  I had almost stepped on a rattle snake, that lay coiled up, ready to strike; while his peculiar rattle buzzed fiercely, and his wicked eyes glittered.  It was the worst scare I had ever had.  Sammon turned promptly, and leveled his rifle.  A streak of fire – a sharp report, and Mr. Snake was headless.

 

[Drawing named “GENESIS, CHAPTER III.   15.” on original.] 

 

This was another of my close shaves, and Liza congratulated her poppet on his narrow escape.  I kept the rattles until I lost them – as a memento.  This was the first rattler I had ever seen; but not my last by a long shot.  How this little affair did revive snake stories in our household!  I listened in shivery, spell bound fascination.

 

 

[Page 126]

 

Another time I was made a hero of.  It was entirely undeserved, but the poppet got the praise all the same from his devoted Liza.  She had emptied a drawer or box of its rubbish, and swept it in the fire-place.  Among the trash were some gun caps and loose powder, and it flashed out viciously and set her apron on fire.  With great presence of mind she caught up the burning apron, and smothered it by folding it up with her hands.  When it seemed all out, she continued her work; but I discovered a smoking spot behind, that she couldn’t see, and I rushed up and smothered it out, as I had seen her do.  In less than a week my head needed hooping.

 

One day while I was making pictures on my slate, Sammon glanced at my work, and called out:  “Slamcomebanker!  Look here!  He’s made a perfect picture of Rufus Norris.”  Then my slate was taken from me, and the portrait exhibited, until it finally rubbed out, and I at last regained possession of my own again.

 

[Page 127]

 

The Sperry and Oatman boys started a craze for archery.  They manufactured bows and arrows for sale.  With four cookies, and several ears of corn, I bartered for an outfit.  Sammon said I had made a very good trade; but Liza objected to my using her larder for a treasury.  Then Grandpa raised his voice:  “He’ll break all the windows, and put out somebodies eyes with his fool bonaro.” 

 

About this time a little boy armed with a bow and arrows shot at Liza and hit her.  I didn’t see him, but he was described as being fat and jolly, with loose fitting raiment, and a pair of butterfly’s wings.

 

It culminated in her marriage to Joseph M. Cole.  He was from New York; and was a widower, with an only daughter Adelia Betsy Cole, aged 16, about.

 

[Drawing named “AN EVEN TRADE.”   Two boys, bow and arrows, corn on the cobb, and tree stump.]

 

[Page 128]

 

The first time I saw him, he came to our house armed with a saber, and two flint locked pistols, in a holster of bear skin, to hand on the saddle.  Nothing could have delighted me more.  I dont remember about the wedding or the infare; but I do know that I got on no spree this time.

 

So we all settled down as snug as one could wish.  Adelia acted as a monitor and instructress to us young ones.  Her piety was much in evidence.  One day I ran across a pocket-pistol and a box of gun caps, belonging to Mr. Cole.  I was flourishing it about my head when Adelia and Sister Lide came in the room.  The former took the pistol from my hand, cocked it, and deliberately aimed it at the floor.  I was just on the point of crying out that it was loaded when she fired, and the ball was buried in the floor at my feet.  There was an inrush of folks, and an explanation.

 

[Drawing named “NOT LOADED.”   Two ladies, one boy, and gun.]

 

[Page 129]

 

The pistol was supposed to be unloaded, and Adelia merely wished to snap the cap, she thought – I had placed on the tube.  That evening she conducted Lide and me to the west room – where the shooting had occurred – and pointed out the bullet hole in the floor.

 

“I might have aimed the pistol at one of you children,” she said.  Then she had us kneel with her on the floor around the splintered board, and offered up thanks – offering for our providential escape.  But I fear the warning was not duly impressed on me, for I afterwards got hold of the same weapon and a box of caps, and Ed. Adams and I had some fun in snapping the caps at our work, we heard:  “Little boys, little boys! Be careful, be careful what you do!”

 

We looked around, and there was old Maj. Smith striding after us at a fearful pace.  In a moment we would have been captured and disarmed, only our young legs were nimble and fleet.  We found out Ed.’s mean brother

 

[Page 130]

 

Bradford, told on us.  Liza did not invoke the throne of Grace, but she broadly hinted about “Peach-tree oil.”  I had tasted that kind of oil, and didn’t like it a bit.  I meddled no more with the pistol, and no doubt saved another of my nine cats lives.

 

In the mean time there was increased friction between the Gentiles and the Saints.  In playing with some Mormon boys, I had imbibed a prejudice against the former.  A certain Mr. Carlisle was classed as a most wicked, out and out Gentile.  On his death – bed he remarked:

 

“Maybe I’d get better if some of them d___d Mormons would come and grease me, and pray over me.”  No Mormon darkened his door, and he died in his sins.

 

“He’s gone to hell, where he’ll burn forever and ever,” explained my informant.  He continued:  “Mr. Bliss is a Gentile, and he’ll go there too, when he dies.”  I thought of the old man who had

 

[Page 131]

 

chased me to take the pistol away.  “Is Major Smith a Gentile?”  I asked.  “Well yes, a kind of one.”  Then he added:  “But he minds his own business.” 

 

Next day I was with Uncle Lewis at the wood pile, when Mr. Bliss came across the street, and borrowed an axe.  Hardly was his back turned, when I expostulated with my guileless uncle:  “Why, he’s a Gentile!” Uncle Lewis was mildness personified, but his face now darkened with a frown almost equal to Sammon’s.  “Let me hear any more of that, and you’ll get the biggest kind of whipping.”  His grip on my arm made me feel that it was no empty threat.  All my newly awakened religions enthusiasm died out, then and there, and I let people believe what they pleased, for all of me, after that.

 

[Drawing named:  “LENDING TO A GENTILE!”  “NIPPED IN THE BUD.”  Man, boy, axe, wood, man with axe.]

 

[Page 132]

 

One Summer’s morning Liza waked me up by saying:  “Joseph Smith was killed yesterday.  Are you sorry?”  “Yes” I replied.  (His last words were:  “Is there no help for the widow’s son?”)  In fact everybody talked shock and sorrow at first.  Of course many felt differently, and believed the false prophet had gone to keep Mr. Carlisle company. 

 

It was murder most foul, but nobody was ever punished for it.

 

Sidney Rigdon was now entitled to first place, but his well known opposition to the new Spiritual wife doctrine, placed Brigham Young as head of the church.

 

Then Rigdon seceded, and called on all decent and upright Mormons to rally to his standard.  He pulled up stakes, and returned to the East, with Sammon, and some others, and tried to found a new church, all goodness and perfection.  It flashed in the pan, and fizzled out miserably.  Its an old saying:  “Money makes the mare go,” and they were all poor as Job’s turkey.

 

[Page 133]

 

They were obliged to hold church service in an old barn; and there was such a scarcity of grub, that it’s a wonder body and soul didn’t part company.  It was in this old historic barn, that the angels appeared during evening service.  The stalls and hay loft seemed to swarm with the celestial visitants.  Young Wick. Rigdon claimed that he saw more of them than anybody else did and that he could plainly see the plumes they wore on their head-gear.  There being no ravens to feed these religious zealots, they finally had to disperse.

 

Grandpa’s opinion of Rigdon was not favorably enhanced.  “What a pack of fools, to be running religion.  They’d far better be at work.  Why cant they have a little sense?  And Rigdon at the head of it all.  Such nonsense.”  “But they saw spirits,” I chipped in.

 

[Drawing named:  “THE VISION.”  People, plumes, angels, crowd.]

 

[Page 134]

 

“Spirits!” he exclaimed, “Yes, Spirits with “plumes” on their heads.  O, such foolery!”  And Grandpa fairly groaned, as he leaned his head on his cane.  “But Sammon saw them, “I cried out indignantly.  Grandpa was cornered.  Finally he looked up, and spat.  “The boy didn’t know what he saw.  It was all a delusion.”

 

There the case rested, all uncertainty.  After Sammon had shaken the dust of the Saints from his shoes, a literary freak in Nauvoo – Amasa  Bonny – published a lot of handbills for free distribution.  A full length picture of Bonny, in silhouette, with a pitcher in his hand was represented, along-side of Sammon, with his lame foot.  Underneath was printed:

 

[Drawing named:  “SAMUEL JAMES in a terrible pickle.”]

 

SAMUEL JAMES in a terrible pickle.

 

Sam James claims that he is an advocate of true Mormonism. 

Ah! There you are mistaken, Sammy;

Of course, you mean Rigdonism.

So clear the track, Sammy

 

[Page 135]

 

For Amasa Bonny

His right arm with pitcher

Can sweep such a creature

As James to the devil –

His brother in evil –

One leg shorter than t’ other,

While he stands on the other,

And sees himself flatter

At the head of this matter.

O, Sammy!  this is the last that remains

of an ill-spent life.  Yours, Amasa Bonny.”

 

We all had a good laugh over this literary and artistic production, and I preserved one of the handbills for a long time.

 

In the mean time the Mormon question was getting worse and worse.  Porter Rockwell and Jake Backenstoce, two Mormon desperadoes, at the head of a fanatical gang were a constant menace to the quiet of the Gentiles.  Many of the foolish Saints believed that all that fertile portion of the West, was to be their inheritance.  Did it not all belong to the Lord of Hosts, and were they not His

 

[Page 136]

 

chosen people?  Now what was more natural, than to believe the title deeds from the U.S. government far superior to a deed of gift from the celestial regions?  The unbelieving Illinois Suckers thought so, at any rate, and began to look after their guns, sacrilegious as it may seem.  An orthodox preacher of the church militant, - Brockman by name, - was their leader.

 

CHAPTER

 

[Drawing named “LA HARPE RESIDENCE.”   White frame house, Shack, Cold as a barn, built by Lot Moffat.]

 

In the spring of 1845, we left our La Harpe residence for good.  The above will give some idea of the north front.  It was a white frame house, but it turned yellow.  It was kind of Shackley, and as cold as a barn.  Lot Moffat built it.  I was glad enough to leave it and try country life one half mile

 

[Page 137]

 

south of town.  I could hardly sleep the first night; I was so tickled.  The house was fearfully and wonderfully made.  (By Lot Moffat, as usual.)  The floor boards and siding had been split and shaved, and of course all the frame stuff was hewed.  Instead of hair in the plastering, course grass had been substituted.  The doors were homemade, and some of them had wooden latches with a leather string passed through a hole in the door.

 

It was a moonlight night, and every time I ran out in the door yard I would see a dozen rats or more, scampering for their holes.  Our cats had a surfeit of fresh meat.  One nearly died thereof.  I was passionately fond of cats, and their new danger greatly

 

[Drawing named “OLD FARM HOUSE.”   Floor boards and siding split and shaved and hewed, course grass in plaster, home made doors, wooden latches, built by Lot Moffat.]

 

[Page 138]

 

worried me.  I had known sorrow from this source, before, and I didn’t want any more of it.

 

One day the Ash-cat was balancing herself on the edge of the big iron kettle and fell in, and scrambled out again, drenched with lye, strong enough to float an egg.  Although Lide and I wiped her with rags galore, and hovered around in anxious sympathy, she finally departed her traditional nine lives.  Then we had our first feline funeral.  Lide had a pretty brass-headed tack, and I persuaded her to let me drive it in a stick, and set it up as a head stone.  It assuaged.

 

Then one Sunday morning Catherine Chuckering was at our house, and I showed her a pretty spotted kitten.  She was so delighted with it, that I finally consented to let her show it to her mother who was at church, near by.  We set out, but as we were marching up the aisle, the cat got scared and jumped from Cath-

 

[Page 139]

 

erine’s arms, and was lost in the congregation.  Frantic and persistant search availed nothing.  I never saw the spotted beauty again.  These two sad incidents happened while we were living in town; but their memory clung to me in the country, and disturbed my dreams.  Grandpa, on the contrary, hated cats intensely.  Little he cared, whether they ate too much rat or no.  He was always trying to keep them out doors where they could hunt.  One day a lazy old cat was on the hearth, and I saw Grandpa eyeing it earnestly.  He was chewing as usual.  Finally his lips puckered and he fired a discharge of tobacco juice at my darling feline.  Had he been as good a shot with his flint-lock “Queen Anns” musket during the Revolutionary war, woe to the tory or Redcoat who might have stood before it.  The juice hit grimalkin on top of the head, and

 

[Drawing named “EYE SHARPENING.”  Cat, tobacco juice.]

 

[Page 140]

 

trickled down in the eyes.  Then there was a circus performance and a noisy indignant protest:

 

“O, goggle, goggle!”  I yelled, as the cat scooted out the open door, “You’ve put its eyes out!”  “Pooh! Nonsense,” quoth Grandpa, “It’ll sharpen its eyesight, so it can see to catch rats.”

 

Strange as it may appear, in less than half an hour pussey returned from the stable with a half grown rat.  Perhaps it was intended as a fee to the successful oculist.  At any rate he was immensely delighted at the result of his labors in restoring defective vision.  For my own part I was silenced but not convinced.  The best I could do was to try and keep my pets out of range, and trust in Providence.

 

[Drawing named “SUCCESSFUL TREATMENT.”   Cat, rat.]

 

[Page 141]

 

I was holding a kitten, and admiring its stripes and speckled cheeks, and now and then rubbing its soft fur against my face, when suddenly I heard:  “Better buss that nasty thing at once and be done with it.  Its breath is rank pizen.  Throw it out doors.”  Another time Grandpa told me that cats delighted in sucking a person’s breath.

“Does it hurt?”  I asked.

“Hurt! Why its sartin death!”

“How do they do it?

“O, I don’t know!  I never watched ‘em.  They do it while you’r asleep.”

“Did they ever try to suck your breath?”

“They never got a chance.  I warrant

You no cat is around where

I sleep.  The nasty, dirty, pizen cats!”

“My kitten slept with me one

Day, and it didn’t suck my breath”, I insisted.

“It hadn’t learned,” he replied.

“But you just keep on fooling

with cats, and see what will

happen to you; you better

 

[Page 142]

 

[Newspaper Article:  “Deceased came to her death from strangulation, due to a large black cat caught in the act of sucking her breath as she slept.”]

 

watch out, now I tell you.”

 

This dread information fell like a black cloud over my young spirits.  One warm night, while the doors were left open, the old cat jumped on the bed where I was sleeping, and nestled up against my face and ear.  Her purring rumbled like distant thunder, and I was delighted beyond measure.  Just then I recalled all that Grandpa had told me about sucking of breaths.  Could it be possible that this amiable creature was now luring me to my death.  I chilled with the thought.  I was sleeping, yet I dared not sleep.  I covered my head in the bed clothes, but the night was suffocatingly hot, and I couldn’t stand it long.  Then I put the cat at my feet, but as soon as my head touched the pillow, she was back again.

 

[Drawing named “LOOK OUT!  IT WILL SUCK YOUR BREATH!  A DEADLY PERIL.”  Cat, Boy.]

 

[Page 143]

 

Life was sweet, and I finally made up my mind to put her out and shut the door.  But first I must stroke her back and listen to a perfect out-burst of melody.  The natural thing happened.  When I woke up next morning I was still of the earth.  Shall I call this another of my close calls?

 

On the 3d day of July Frances E. Cole was born.  Next day the cannon shots in town, half a mile away, made her jump.  She don’t like guns to this day.  Set against them perhaps.

 

The Mormon troubles were coming to a crisis very fast.  Nauvoo was beleaguered by citizens of the surrounding country.  We saw some of the armed bands on the way to the Gentile camp.  Who it was that furnished the grub and powder, I don’t know.  None of our folks believed in mob law, and of course staid at home.  All, or nearly all of the Mormons about La Harpe, cut stick.  Some “Jack-Mormons,” remained.

 

[Page 144]

 

((Began to write again 11 a.m.  Jan. 25  1905.  69 years.))

 

A “Jack-Mormon” was a halfway believer.  Dr. Choate, Sam White, Jiles Nance, the Sandfords and Comstocks et.al. gathered to drive, or help drive the Saints into exile.  Incidentally, many expected to reap a rich harvest in buying up abandoned property belonging to the Mormons, for a song.  We heard reports from the seat of war, almost daily.  The siege progressed slowing.  One evening, about sun-set, we heard cannon shots.  It was very still, and Nauvoo being only 20 miles away, there was no difficulty in telling what they were.  One of the reports, that boomed at regular intervals, was louder than the others.  It was probably a 12 pounder.

 

We all gathered in the back yard to listen.

 

[Drawing named “THE DISTANT SOUNDS OF BATTLE.”   2 Men, 2 Women, Boy, Girl, & Cat.]

 

[Page 145]

 

Grandpa, Mr. Cole, “Liza”, Adelia, Lide and last and least, “Sammon”, comprised the group.  Within an hour the sounds ceased.  Then were tongues loosened, and speculations rife.  It reminded Grandpa of the battle sounds he had heard in the “Jarseys,” at Trenton and Monmouth.  Mr. Cold told of the destruction force of artillery; and hazard the opinion that the assailants had met with a bloody repulse.  He remarked:

 

“Very likely, not one of the La Harpe crown will escape with a whole skin.”  I didn’t know what that meant until Lida told me afterwards, during the evening; that participants in a battle who were not lucky enough to come out of it with “a whole skin,” were either killed or wounded.  There were tears in her eyes as she mentioned the names of some or our neighbors that would likely swell the list of casualties.  “Tom Pierson,” was one.  He was Adelia’s admirer, and we saw him often, and knew him well.  He was crippled with a stiff knee, and well we knew, his chances would be

 

[Page 146]

 

Slim, on a retreat.  If Adelia felt forbodings of disaster, she very skillfully concealed her emotions. 

 

(He was an admirer of Moore’s poems, and Liza nick-named him “Fadladeen.) 

 

Next day he showed up in La Harpe in company with a reported, that:  “he had run off the most of his fat.  Then came the news of the Battle.  It was a very small affair.  Some Mormons took possession of a brick blacksmith shop, in the suburbs of Nauvoo, and opened fire on the Gentiles; which resulted in a return fire, of artillery and small arms.  A cannon ball penetrated the walls of the shop, and carried away one arm, and portion of the chest, of a blacksmith, named Foredyce, or Forscythe.  He begged his friends to shoot him, to end his sufferings, but they refused, and he soon bled to death.  A number were wounded, during the fight.  (We heard this from a defender of the shop, who afterwards apostatized, and deserted the Saints.)

 

[Page 147]

 

I think the other side had some wounded, but none killed.

 

Soon after this, it was reported that a sentry saw some clusters of rosin weeds waving in the wind, one dark night, and took them for Mormons.  The camp was aroused, and a hot fire was opened on the weeds, before the mistake was discovered.  This was probably an exaggeration; but my uncle – who was poetically inclined – was so amused, that he could not forbear from writing the following:

 

“The Rosin Weeds.”  (Joseph M. Cole.)

“Give em ye States that have been tried

In revolutions sore,

That whipped the Briton in his pride,

And drove him from our Shore

Give em O Europe; ye who boast

Of Wellington and band

Who whipped the man that whipped the world

And banished him the land.

Give em heroic men of yore,

Your bauness should be furled

On Illinois western shore

Your laurels must be hurled,

 

[Page 148]

 

To crown those men who fought the weeds

On Hancock’s gory plain,

Whose martial deeds in triumph leads

The warrior’s list of fame.

Beleaguered was the fated town

By patriots brave and stout,

To smite the Nauvoo Legion down,

And drive the Mormons out.

The sun went down in calm repose,

The night – her curtain spread;

And one by one, the stars uprose

Above the Sentry’s head.

A breeze sprang up, and passed along,

And stirred some resin weeds;

The Sentry saw an armed throng

In all these horrid reeds!

A musket shot the camp alarms –

The drowsy warriors wake,

Heroically they rush to arms,

And Brockman to them spake:

“The Mormons will our camp assail,

In platoons you must fight;

Through fire and blood you must not quail,

The Lord knows who is right.”

Then forward crept these gallant men,

And banged, and blazed amain;

 

[Page 149]

 

Fell back to load; crept up again,

‘Til many weeds were slain.

A down-east Yankee, in the crowd,

Discovered their mistake.

“I swow!  I swan!” – he laughed aloud –

“Let’s to the timber, take!

We always go where Brockman leads,

To Run’s the better plan,

Or sure as fate, the resin weeds

Will capture every man!”

 

[Drawing named “BATTLE OF THE ROSIN WEEDS. 1845.”  11 Soldiers, 1845, guns, moon.]

 

Remember, that this effusion was written some years after the event; and I may as well jump ahead myself, and acknowledge that I, also, became fired with poetic ardor and counted the Muse.  It was the winter of 1847 – 48, that I labored, night after night, over my poem.(?)  Adelia

 

[Page 150]

 

helped me with many suggestions.  A poem of hers had been published, and in spite of the fact that no one could guess what it was about, and she was unable to explain it herself, it helped to prove that she possessed the true poetic genius.  My theme, was our neighbor, Mr. Nance, as a soldier during the Mormon war.  Now I must go back again, and explain.  Sometime after the Mormons had “gone to the wilderness,” as they called their expulsion from Illinois, I went with my Uncle C- to Nauvoo.  There I saw the famous temple, for the first and only time.  (It was burned afterwards.)  The sculptured faces on the outside walls, with their thick lips, seemed exceedingly ugly and repulsive.  We also drove by the brick blacksmith shop.  It and some neighboring houses had been perforated by cannon balls.  Some of the holes were smooth and round, while in other places the walls were badly shattered.  The roofs looked the worst, with their gaping rents, and loosened shingles.  A depression of land, a mile or so east of the town, 

 

[Page 151]

 

was the place, my uncle told me, where the Mormons might have offered battle with some show of success.

 

On our return, we passed the house of Giles Nance about dark, and had to stop and hear some of his yarns.  He put one of his bare feet on the wagon hub, and began:

 

“Mr. Cole, let me tell you, I never want to see another such a fowt, as I seed there at Norvoo; the bullets was just so thick, and them cannon balls acomin’ like great balls of fire;  O, I tell you it was awful!  And then one day some of the Mormons clum up in top of a cotton-wood tree, with yawger rifles, and were throwin balls into our encampment.  Our captain pinted his six pounder cannon at the tree, and touched her off.  The ball hit that tree ten feet from the ground, where it was as big as my body, and it cut it off, slick and smooth, and down cames the tree, Mormons and all.  I tell you, they never tried that kind of thing again.

 

But that big fowt, that was awful.  And I come within one hundred

 

[Page 152]

 

yards of being right in that fowt.  No, Mr. Cole, I don’t want to see any more such fowts.”

 

He told a lot more, that I cant remember, but I had enough, and to spare, for my poem, which was about “thusly”:

 

“Old Nance went to the mobbers camp, to see

The Mormans rout;

But while he there was lingering he

Saw a fearful fowt.

With garments streaming out behind,

He to the gutter flies,

And looking round about him, Tom

Pierson there he spies!

The din of battle loud did roar,

Around, beneath, on high;

A thousand muskets rattled, as if

To pierce the sky.

At length the battle ceased to roar;

The Mormons were defeated

That is, when the mobbers ran, they

Quietly retreated.

Old Nance came creeping from the

Ditch, and also, Fadladeen,

And slipping round the centinal,

Nothing more of them was seen.

 

[Page 153]

 

But Nance has made a solemn vow,

From that bloody evening, out;

Never to be so frightened at, nor see

Another fowt.

 

This wonderful production had no title, and needed none. 

 

Adelia helped polish it off, as much as possible, especially in the meter, and in the rescue of the “King’s English.”  She said I couldn’t use the word, “rout”; that I would have to change it to “routed.”  But I soon showed her that “routed,” would never rhyme with “fowt”; and so, I left it.  She also thought I indulged rather freely in personalities; but I would not tone it down, for fear of making it tame, and pointless.  So it stood. 

 

Personally I was a great admirer of Mr. Nance.  He was an odd character.  About 40 years of age, thin as a rail, with little round eyes, and sharp nose, and a tireless tongue.  He often came to our house to talk, and I was always an eager listener.  If he found facts to be tame,

 

[Page 154]

 

and common-place, his lively imagination supplied the picturesque, and sensational, and his narratives were always vivid and entertaining.  One evening he was at our house telling about a friend of his, who fought under Harrison at Tippecanoe:

 

“The night afore the battle he laid down in his tent, and dropped off asleep.  An’ he dreamt that the Injuns had attackted  ‘em, and that he was in the thickest part of fowt, and the bullets was just as thick as hail; and biem-by a ball hit him in the back of the neck; and it waked him up, and he lay a thinkin’ of it a spell, then he gets up an’ puts on his coat, and ‘ turns up the collar, an’ goes to sleep agin.  Then he dreams it all over a second time.  So he gets up, and puts on his overcoat; and turns up the collar and lays down, and dreams it a third time.  Then he gets up, and takes a piece of his blanket an ‘ he wraps it round his neck,

 

[Page 155]

 

 and there was five or six inches of cloth round his neck; and just as he had got it done, he heard the Injuns yell, as they charged on the encampment, and the guards a shootin off their guns –“

 

Just at this most thrilling point of Mr. Nance’s story, there was an interruption --  I cant remember what it was – and a long pause ensued, after we had adjusted ourselves to listen again.  But the spell was broken; the old gentleman had lost the thread of his narrative, and after looking around the room in a helpless kind of way, he muttered a good-bye, and left us, forever uncertain in regard to the fate of his friend.

 

[Drawing named “THE BROKEN THREAD.”  Mr. Nance, story teller, man, elderly.]

 

After the Saints were gone, the Mexican war started in.  It seemed that we were to have peace no more.

 

I got down

 

[Page 156]

 

our old atlas, and was dismayed to see that Mexico was larger than the United States.  One evening Lide and I were coming from town, and were discussing our danger from a Mexican invasion.  Never before had I felt such utter despair and hopelessness.  I remember looking up at the moon, and wishing I had the means of escaping to its peaceful shelter.  (Little did I know then, that the war was of our own choosing to conquer fresh territory for Slavery.)  We called to mind that old Mr. Sperry predicted a coming war, one night in 1843, while we were looking at the big comet.  And his prediction had been verified in the Mormon war, which we thought sufficient; but here again it was bringing on a second installment.  Pretty mean comet, for the Mormons and Mexicans.  Uncle C—was in favor of the war, and had no misgivings.

 

[Drawing named “PORTENT OF WAR.” Comet, people, night time.]

 

[Page 157]

 

He said the “Greasers” had insulted our flag, and deserved a good flogging.

 

James Soul of La Harpe, enlisted, and was wounded at Monterey.  He wrote a letter to his brothers Ike and Harry, as he lay in the hospital.  He wrote:  “It is glorious work.”  And of the battle:  “We were loading and firing at will, and after awhile my gun became so foul I could hardly drive the charges home; so I stepped out in rear of our line, to try and clean my gun by swabbing it out.  As I turned around again, I looked in the direction of the enemy, and as I did so, a bullet struck me, and I quickly fell.”

 

This is all I can remember of the letter.  He recovered, and served out his enlistment.  He was a nice boy.

 

But we had a trouble about this time, that we long remembered.  Our 80 acre farm, and some others, had defective titles.  Catherwood and Moore were mixed up in it, and demanded $300 to clear our title.  Ben Gettings, and Billy Young, who owned farms adjoining ours,

 

[Page 158]

 

were in the same trouble.  One day they came to our house to consult with Uncle C – and to swap worries about the uncertainties of land with Soldier’s patents attached there unto.  Now as this history is intended to relate facts, no matter who it may but, I must tell something that happened when these two gentlemen knocked, and entered our domicile.  Aunt Liza had just been telling us of a half-civilized family in Pennsylvania, named Snee:  “The Snee youngones were regular savages.  Every time a stranger went there, they’d all dart under the bed, and stay there till the visitor left.” Said Liza.

 

The same mysterious influence that demoralizes soldiers, and stampedes cattle, seized me at the sound of the knocking.  A bed, with valance curtains down to the floor, stood in one corner of the room.  With Liza’s words ringing in my ears, and a new and unreasoning terror tingling in every nerve, I made a mad dash for the bed, and my feet were disappearing under it, as our neighbors entered.

 

[Page 159]

 

Liza stood aghast.  My representation was altogether too realistic to make her believe it was in play.  And she made an effort to same me.  Lifting the curtain, she called out:

 

“Get it, and bring it out here.”

“Get what?” I cried.

“What you went for.  Bring it to me.”

“There aint anything to get!”  I replied.

“Then come out, yourself.”

 

And out I crawled, in face of the callers, who fortunately for me, seemed too much engrossed in their land troubles to notice the outlandish incident.  Many and many a time, I have wondered over this matter.  I knew better.  I had been used to seeing strangers come to the house, without a tremor, all my life.  Maybe it was obsession.  I read a spook book, once, that told of such things.  Can it be possible that a deceased juvenile Snee had taken temporary control of me?  I’d give a dollar to think so.

 

[Drawing named “STAMPEDED.” Bed, feet.]

 

 

Our land business was finally settled by paying a tall,

 

[Page 160]

 

Black whiskered ruffian a lot of money, and getting his quit-claim.  It was a thing to talk about, and growl over, for years.  Peace came, and we farmed.  No more land pirates; no more Greasers; no more Latter-day Saint Jake Backenstoce, or Porter Rockwell, to interrupt our labors.  Crops were good and we were happy and content.  Grandpa showed me how to plant water melons; and I raised a crop of striped ones, the sweetest I every tasted.

 

He also instructed me in the art of pulling up weeds, and feeding them to the pigs.  He was not surprised that my hacking of fire wood, was so defective.  “Nobody can chop wood and hit straight, with these abominable, crooked, Yankee axe-handles,” quoth he.  “An axe-handle should be perfectly straight, and not have a great knob on the end of it, to hit you on the knee while you’re chopping.”  He tried to show me how to handle the axe, but not with much success.  One day I had haggled off a stick of firewood, and was trying to split it; as it lay on the ground.

 

[Drawing named “THE IDEAL AXE HANDLE.”]

 

Half the time I would miss

 

[Page 161]

 

the stick, and chop in the ground.  Grandpa suddenly appeared.

 

“Be done with that!  You’ll take all the edge off the axe.  Set that stick on end, against the log, and split it.”  But again I whacked, and sunk the axe in the soil, up to the eye.  He was exasperated.  Like most old soldiers, he believed in absolute obedience.  I was his favorite, and He’d never struck me a blow in his life, but here he came, with up-lifted cane, and a half whispered exclamation, that I have sometimes thought, resembled George Washingtons remark to Gen. Charles Lee, at the battle of Mommouth; only he substituted the word “boy”, in the place of “Poltroon”.  Swift was the flight, and for an old man of eighty odd summers, swift was the pursuit.  But in an evil moment I looked backward, tripped over a stick, and fell to earth.  I shut my eyes, and waited for the well deserved whack.

 

[Drawing named “AN EXCITING SPRINT.” Young boy, old man, cane, running.

 

[Page 162]

 

But it never came.  Perhaps he thought it would have looked too much like a “foul;” maybe he thought my scare was punishment enough.  At any rate, after shaking his cane over my head awhile and telling what he ought to do to me, he finally allowed me to rise, and parley.  I promised every thing.  I would mind; I would quit being impudent; I wouldn’t strike the axe in the ground any more; and be good generally.  And all these specifications were kept, as well as regular treaties generally are kept by the divers nations of the earth.

 

I was no equestrian.  I used to sit open mouthed, while Grandpa would tell how he and “Cuff”, (his fathers negro slave,) would ride and break, the wildest kind of colts.  One day I was sent to town for our old black mare.  The distance was half a mile, and the animal very gentle, so I was boosted on her back, and the rein put in my hand.  She started for home on a slow walk, but when we got out of town the pace increased to a slow trot.  I dropped the bridle-rein, and grabbing the mane

 

[Page 163]

 

with both hands, frantically yelling “whoa!”  It is said that “Money makes the mare go,” but she went this time without money, and without price.  As she broke into a gallop, I gave up all for lost.  No ship-wrecked mariner ever bawled more lustily for help, than poor me.  As I shot past the halfway house, I had a momentary glimpse of the folks in the door-way, attracted no doubt by my screams.  Onward we flew with ever increasing speed.  My hat was gone; the wind whistled in my ears; and as I glanced at the ground, it seemed to be running backward, in a mad race.  Horrible distortions met my gaze.  Corn cobs by the road side, were confused, streaked mass; and a corn stalk of abnormal length, apparently was like a long brazen serpent.

 

[Drawing named “THE GROUND RUNNING AWAY.”  Bare-back horse running, people looking out door and window, wooden fence.]

 

[Page 164]

 

Grandpa saw us coming, and came out in the road just as we dashed up, and the miserable old mare came to a sudden stop.  

Then over her head I went, sprawling in the dusty road, like a medieval knight, unhorsed in a tilting match.  It seemed like the final winding up of everything to me, just then.  But Grandpa got me to my feet, and found none of my cartilaginous bones broken; and after dusting me, and recovering my hat, he led the old mare to the house and I followed, sad and forlorn.

 

“Why didn’t you pull her up with the bridle?” he asked.

“ ‘Cause I couldn’t,” I replied.

“Couldn’t!” he repeated, “Why, when I was big as you, no hoss ever got me off his back that way, I’ll warrant.”

 

Then I was called upon to relate my experience, before the assembled household.  When I told of the unnatural appearance of the earth, during my race, my Uncle C- roared with laughter.

 

“The ground was running away!”

 

[Page 165]

 

He cried when he could get his breath, “Sam saw the ground running away!”

 

I felt pretty small; for the universal verdict seemed to be, that I was “No good to stick a hoss,” as Grandpa tersely expressed it.

 

(And by the way, I was about 15 years old, before I ventured to ride a horse faster than a trot.)

 

Two years after we moved to the farm, I had brain fever – I suppose it was -  Grandpa, as usual, would allow no doctor to experiment on me, so we never knew the technical name of it.  But it makes no difference.  At first my head seemed bursting with pain, and I could neither eat nor sleep.  Optical illusions tormented me.  One evening I saw a number of human figures come out of an adjoining room, in solemn procession.  They were clothes in white, and were

 

[Drawing named “PHANTOMS”.    Little boy, little girl, ghosts, lit candle.]

 

[Page 166]

 

of gigantic stature.  I wondered that “the folks” paid no attention to the intruders.  After flitting about for awhile, they returned, one by one, from whence they came.  Day by day, I grew worse, and worse.  Uncle Lewis came in and sat by my bed-side.  He put his hand in his coat pocket and brought out a doughnut that Aunt Sophia had sent me, and gave it to me.  Did I eat the dreadful thing?  I cant remember any thing else, for a period of two weeks.  All a total blank.  Surely, in all my 69 years experience, I must have been then, nearest dissolution.  Grandpa hung his cane by the crook, on the head of my bed.  It rattled, as he took it.  I opened my eyes, and again memory took up its broken thread.  I felt better, but so weak I could scarcely lift my hand.  But I was young and uncontaminated with drugs, and my improve-

 

[Page 167]

 

ment was rapid. 

 

One day a Dr. McClellan (not Geo. B.) called at our house, and cast a professional eye upon me.

 

“He needs ___”  Here he named some doctor’s stuff or other.  After he was gone, Grandpa muttered:  “How that fellow did want to get at the boy.  And he’d kill him yet, if he had a chance.”

 

As a ghost of a boy, I finally walked, and was a persistent seeker after bread and milk, and fried cabbage.  And I ate lots of hazelnuts, that some folks said would make me sick again; but they didn’t.  (I wish I had some now.)

 

Sometime after this, there was a big revival of religion in La Harpe, and Adelia joined one of the Orthodox churches.  Her father was a Universalist in belief, and consequently could not fully sympathize with her, in this.  One of his scholars, - a Connective Yankee boy – was also converted, and felt called upon to come to our house one evening and have “A season of prayer.”  My uncle admired the boy’s zeal, but he was

 

[Page 168]

 

at the same time vastly amused.

 

I was too small to attend the revival meetings, but I pondered a whole lot.  “Getting religion,” seemed to me, to be a thing of almost impossible attainment.  I read an old illustrated copy of “Pilgrims Progress,” with great interest.  If I could start out on foot for the Celestial City, how easy it would be to be a Christian.  I was most impressed with the story, where Christian was waiting at the river’s bank; the summons; the difficult passage; and his final reception by the “Shining Ones.”  That he was a selfish dog in running away, and leaving his family in the lurch, never appealed to me, at the time.  “Everyone for himself, and the devil take the hindmost,” in a scramble for paradise, looks to be the rule.  May be?

 

[Drawing named “PILGRIM’S PROGRESS.”  “Almost thou persuades me to be a Christian?”  (Orthodox.)    Lit candle, boy, book.]

 

[Page 169]

 

January 25th 1906.  Ten minutes to ten o’clock, a.m.

 

70 years old today.  “Three score and ten,” that the good book tells is the age of man.  I have reached it, and should be content.

 

For months I have not written here.  I must try and do better.  This is a beautiful, still bright day.  My health is excellent; but am still crippled with rheumatism in the lower limbs.  Can walk now without a stick, and can carry 50 lbs. of flour.  Day before yesterday I weighed 137 lbs.  Can eat most anything, and sleep comparatively well.  If the crooks could be taken out of me, I suppose I should still measure:

 

“Six foot two, Without his shoe.”  Am living on the quarter section I took up as an unsurveyed claim, more than 50 years ago.  Stationary.  My working days now seem over, and I can indulge in “Doing nothing with impunity.”  Old and crippled; what better excuse!

 

Now to resume:

 

[Page 170]

 

Heart H. Gleason was a boarder with us, one winter, and went to school with us.  He was 21 or more, and a strong Universalist.  He and Uncle C__ often discussed eternal punishment, and the like.  Afterwards we purchased Andrew J. Davis’s Great Harmonia; a very liberal, skeptical work, to say the least.  It was read and commented on.  Even Grandpa read and approved of much of it.  Then I got hold and waded through a lot of it.  It was pretty foggy,  but I got the idea that there was not, and could not be a hell.  That the Divine Ruler was not a monster of cruelty, and that every fellow had a chance to progress, here and hereafter.  It was soothing.

 

Since that I have read the very best hide-bound arguments in reply, but they all seem very, very weak and flimsy.  “Nelson on Infidelity”

 

[Page 171]

 

States in his book, that “the human reason leads the seeker of religious truth, into darkness rather than light.”  Was the man joking!  McIlvane, in his “Evidences of Christianity,” is little better.  Sum it all up, there is no subject that bewilders, and befogs the mind to the degree that religion does.  The more absurd the statement, the more merit in believing it, seems to be the rule.  I think with Horace Greely:  “One world at a time.”  One who is just and kindly to his fellow man, need have little fear of a future live.

 

As I grew older I became more useful on the farm.  Pulling weeds and feeding the pigs was one of my chores.  One Spring I had the job of cutting down the corn stalks with a “nigger hoe.”  Nobody seemed to know about using a pole.

 

[Drawing of boy hoeing down the corn stalks.]

 

[Page 172]

 

I “dropped corn”, in planting time.  The land would be plowed, then a man with a one horse shovel plow would lay out the ground, in rows 4 feet apart.  My Uncle Lewis could cross and plant in these furrows by means of 4 poles, that he would set up and change at intervals of 4 feet, as he progressed.  He carried his seed corn in a little tin pail.  To this pail he tied a stout string with a loop at the end of 4 feet.  This loop was slipped over my left wrist.  In my left hand I carried another pail of shelled corn.  Then we would line up, he would step forward in line with his stakes, and drop 4 or 5 grains in each furrow, as he crossed it.  I walked abreast, holding the string tight so I could feel it, and dropping right over in front of my pail.  As he changed his poles, I held his corn.  Two men with hoes followed, and “covered.”

 

[Drawing named “PRIMITIVE FARMING.”  Four men, hoes, planting, bird above, flag.]

 

[Page 173]

 

When the corn came up we sometimes set up “Skeer-crows,” to keep the birds from pulling it up.  It was cultivated with a one horse plow.  All our farm work was done in the same slow, hard way.  The wheat was cut with cradles, and bound by hand.  I gathered the sheaves, and carried water.  A jug of whisky was generally considered indispensable.  It made ‘em cool perhaps, Uncle Lewis would often say:  “Now work away, and as we go home to night I’ll tell you a story.”  I never forgot to remind him of his promise, and always got the story.

 

[Drawing named “A SKEER-CROW.”    Black birds, scare crow.]

 

 

One was as follows:

 

“Three Welshmen came to a well, and saw the reflection of the moon in the water, and took it to be a green cheese.  Having no rope, they made a chain of themselves.  The first man hung by his hands to the

 

[Page 174]

 

well curb; the next crawled down and hung to the first man’s ankles; the last man, in the same way swung at the end below.  Just then the first man felt his grip on the well curb giving way, and he shouted:  ‘Hers below hold fast; while hers above spits on hers hands!’

 

Then kerwhollop they all went down in the water.”

 

“And how did they get out?”  I asked.

 

“The story don’t tell,” replied uncle.  And to this day, the fate of the poor Welshmen remains shrouded in Mystery.”

 

[Drawing of three Welshmen hanging onto each other on the inside of a well.]

 

All our hay was made by mowing the grass with a scythe, and raking it up with wooden hand rakes.  I raked, and it was work I liked.

 

Our team was wild and balky, and I was never trusted with driving, or plowing.  In fact I was always afraid of a horse and am yet.

 

[Page 175]

 

In the winter I went to school.  My uncle Cole was generally the teacher.  I was dull; especially in arithmetic and grammar.  I liked geography, and the teacher said my lessons were good.  I was fair in reading and spelling.  But I could draw pictures that amused the scholars, but brought me censure from the teacher.  My writing exercises were dreadful to behold.  We used quill pens, and the teacher would “set a copy” at the top of the page, and I would try to imitate it, and my copy would be worse and worse to the bottom of the page.

 

Adelia was sometimes assistant, and sometimes teacher.  I was not fond of school.  But I liked the school exhibitions that we usually had at the close of the term.  I most always took part.  In 1844 I recited parts of Logans lament, and Gray’s elegy, with great applause.

 

About 1848 Mr. Cole had his grand exhibition in John Warren’s ware house.  This time we had outside talent to help the thing along.  The village black smith, John Mayor, blacked his face

 

[Page 176]

 

up a little more, and sang Poor Lucy Neal, in his beautiful tenor voice.  Mr. Dixon, Mr. Iden, Mr. Davis, and little Jim Sanford, also blacked up, and took part.  Jim coulden’t sing, but he rattled the bones and licked out his tongue, real cute.  They also sang Lucy Long, Rose of Alabama, and other darkey songs.  If it was not so very elevating, it was most awfully entertaining.  A church member in the audience groaned aloud at sight of them, but remained to enjoy the fun.  My principal part was in “High life below stairs.”  As “My Lord Duke,” I acquitted myself nobly.  (So I thought.)  On my first entrance I addressed the heroine, (my sister Eliza,) in French.  This is the way it was written in the book, and the way I pronounced it:

 

“Ah ma shaie mamozell, comney voo porte voo?

 

“For beeamg zhe voo mercy.”

 

Replied the lady with a glad smile.

 

“Now we’ll have nonsense by the

 

Wholesale,”  grumbled Festus

 

Alexander, the lady’s fiancé.

 

[Page 177]

 

At this moment entered Sir – somebody – with extended hand, and rollicking voice and gesture:

 

“How are you, my Lord Duke?”

 

But I refuse to hand, and repulse the advance with a push:

 

“Stand back, I’ve no acquaintance with commonness.”

 

Then Sir Harry, (it was Wes. Stone,) reports, and a “rough house” results.

 

One of us cries out – It was I –

 

If you’re a gentleman name your Weapons!”

 

[Drawing named:  “TO FIGHT A DUEL.”  Two men, sword, fight.]

 

“Pistols.”

 

“Done!”

 

“Hyde Park.”

 

“Done!”

 

“At six o’clock tomorrow morning!”

 

“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” cries the host, “my

 

Lord Duke, Sir Harry, fie!”

 

Then enters the head boss of all,

 

us into the Street.  His parting

 

[Page 178]

 

injunction to me was:

 

“If I catch you back here again, I’ll break every bone in your Grace’s skin.

 

Begone!”

 

Mr. Dixon was our best actor.  He was a large man of about 25, and ran the nicest joint in town.  In spite of his calling everybody liked him.  (Nearly everybody.)  He had strong, harsh features and a powerful voice, and made a splendid Goliath.

 

[Drawing named:  “Mr. Dixon, Amateur actor.”  Man, actor.]

 

His David, was at first Sidney Tuttle.  When Sid recited his part at rehearsal his voice came from him in jerks, as if he had just been soused in a tub of cold water.  But unfortunately a revival of religion came along about that time, and Sid, and several others of our show, got converted, and left us.  It nearly broke the whole thing up.  But Wesley Stone took David, and I was given my Lord Duke, and after a very troublesome change of front, we were ready for business again.  But it

 

[Page 179]

 

took hard work, for many of us had several new parts to learn, and the time was short.  When the exhibition did come off, it was grandly magnificent.  The admittance was free, and the old ware – house was crowded jam full.  I was so happy I could hardly hold myself in hand.

 

Then there was a first class, realistic duel, fought to a finish.  A lady, (Miss Jerusha Curtis,) was of course at the bottom of the misunderstanding.  Jonathan Davis , and Bill Mace, armed to the teeth, met alone in a secluded neck of the woods.  Bill was the villain, and tried hard to look it.  “We meet at last!” he cries.

 

“Cease!” exclaims Jonathan, “your

 

Words pollute the air.”

 

Then ruffian Bill holds out two

 

Pistols, with the curt request:

 

“Take your choice.”

 

A pistol is taken at random,

 

And the two men confront each

 

Other, weapons in hand.

 

“Hold!”  says Bill, “before we

 

Engage, let me tell you that

 

[Page 180]

 

your pistol is loaded with powder only, while mine has a ball that I put in after you made your choice.  Now prepare for death, for be assured this the very last moment of your life.”

 

[Drawing named:  “MORTAL COMBAT.”   Two men, swords, guns.]

 

The words were scarcely out of Bill’s mouth, when Jonathan fired – without effect, of course – and instantly threw his empty pistol at the Villain’s head, who in dodging it, accidentally discharged his own pistol.  Then out flashed the two swords, and at it the two belligerents went, hammer and tongs.  It was nice.  Nice is no name for it.  The

 

[Page 181]

 

clashing steel, the rapid movements as the swords gleamed in the candle light, entranced me as no subsequent show has ever done.  At last the villain receives a preconcerted thrust, between his side and his off aim, and down he goes simultaneously with the curtain.  Dixon then sang a ballad, advising John Bull to give up Oregon.  (Great applause.)

 

The curtain rose on Bill Nance, armed with an old musket.  He was supposed to be a Spanish sentry.  Enter Jonathan Davis with a shawl over his head, demanding to see Alonzo.  Then after refusal, Davis tried boodle:

 

“Look at this massy wedge of gold, look at these precious gems,” (He pronounced “gems,” with a soft “g”.  But the “old Castilian” would not look.  Finally his own feelings bribed him, and the man with the gun withdrew.  Then out rushed the Peruvian prisoner, Alonzo, seemingly anxious for his own hanging.  (I think it was logy Festus A-.)  After explanation however, he proposed to knock the good sentry on the head, and take French leave.  But this

 

[Page 182]

 

Davis would not do.  Instead, he draped the shawl over Alonzo’s head, and pushed him out to liberty.  And that was all.  We never learned the subsequent fate or fortune of any of these fellows.

 

Up went the curtain.  Here came big, burly, six foot Dixon, with a brand new black-walnut spear, and a saber strapped to his waist.  He reached the center, and lifted up his voice:  “Where is the mighty man of war, that dares accept the challenge of Phillistia’s chief?  What victor king; what ____”  Here followed a long windy eloquent oration, as Goliath, (for it was he,) shook his walnut spear, or pounded the floor with the but end.  He lost patience, and roared out:

 

“Sound, ye heralds; sound for the battle straight!”

 

“Behold thy fow,” squawked Wes Stone, as he came into view armed with a patch of leather, with two strings tied to the ends, and a grey ball of yarn fastened to the

[Page 183]

 

middle.  Goliath glared overhead.  “I see him not.”

“Behold him here.”

“Say where.  Direct my sight,” roared Dixon; then lowering his eyes,

“I do not war with boys.”

“I come prepared, my Single arm to thine.”

 

[Drawing named:  “BEHOLD THY FOW.”   Boy, patch of leather, and 2 strings of grey yarn.]

 

“ would move my mirth at any other time, but trizling’s out of tune.  Begone light boy, tempt me not too far.”  “I do defy thee, thou foul idolator.  Hast thou not scorned the armies of the living God I serve?  By me, He will this day avenge upon thy head thy nations sins, and thine.  Aimed with His name, I dare meet the stoutest foe that ever bathed his hostile spear in blood.”

 

Then followed a big lot of bragging on both sides, but when Wess told the miracle of the miracle of the cows bringing the Arc of the Covenants home again, Dixon lost patience, and bellowed out:  “Now will I meet thee, thou insect warrior, since thou darest

 

[Page 184]

 

me thus.  Mark me well!  Around my spear I’ll twist thy shining locks, (Wes:  had golden hair, just like David’s was said to have been, and toss in air thy head all gashed with wounds, thy lips yet quivering with the dire convulsions of recent death.  Art thou not terrified?

 

“No, true courage is not moved by breath of words – etc  etc --  Here Dixon shook his walnut.  “In this good spear I trust.”  “I trust in heaven.  The God of battles stimulates my arm, and fires my soul with order, not its own.”

 

That ended the parley, as Wes swung his sling two or three times around in the air, and then let loose on one of the strings.

 

Down went Goliath with a heavy jar and David after some tugging; unsheathed the giants sword, and after a few hacks, left the stage with Goliaths cap on the point of the weapon.

 

Then came more Negro Minstrels, and the show closed.

 

[Page 185]

 

My Uncle Cole gave me a sun-glass, as we called it.  With it I could fire off little lead cannon that I had cast, by making a hole in the ground, inserting a small stick in the hole and running melted lead around it.  On sunshiny days, in company with other boys, we had amusing and very dangerous fun, flashing little heaps of powder, and firing the cannon by means of the sun-glass.  (As I write, on this 7th day of Dec. 1906, the sun-glass lies on the table before me.)

 

[Drawing of Exact Size of Sun-Glass Presented on 1844.]

 

Kinsey Gittings had been to Nauvoo to help drive the Mormons out, and one day he came out to us smaller boys with a big horn full of powder, that had not been expended in shooting at the Saints.  Then we

 

[Page 186]

 

just rioted in gunpowder, and it’s a wonder some of our eyes were not blown out.  Kinsey told us of what he had witnessed in the fighting at Nauvoo.  I remember his telling about the artillery firing at night.  “The cannon balls looked just like great balls of fire, as they flew through the air,”  quoth he.  He was not called upon to do any shooting himself, however.

 

[Drawing named:  “SHEDDING THE BLOOD OF SAINTS BY NIGHT.”  Several men, cannon, guns, smoke from cannon.]

 

The Gittings family were all strong anti-Mormon.  Sometimes the boys would call little Howard Gittings a “Jack – Mormon,” just to see how

 

[Page 187]

 

mad it would make him.  Generally he would get a stick or brick bat and make us scamper.  His sister said she would “scald the Mormon’s eyes out,” if they came to their house to molest them.  They were Methodists.

 

About this time I learned to swim.  I was extremely fond of the water, but at the same time dreaded the danger of drowning.  One Sunday I carried a slab to the swimming hole, north of town, and found to my joy that with its help, I could float and make a little headway.

 

[Drawing named:  “THE OLD SWIMMING-HOLE.  DEC. 13. 06, MARK.2.27..”  Boy, slab, trees, and creek.]

 

After many trials, I could swim without the slab, but it took

 

[Page 188]

 

weeks of practice.  But I never was fat enough to make a first class swimmer.  In diving, the water would frequently get in my ears, and remain for hours, with a ringing sound, greatly to my annoyance.  I also learned to swim “dog-fashion,” but not on my back, as it filled my ears with water.  Sometimes I would start in swimming in April.  At such times I couldn’t wade in, but would take a plunge from the bank into the icy water.

 

[Drawing named:  “THE DREADED PLUNGE.”   Creek, feet out of water, water splash, and trees.]

 

I made little practical use of the art, but it always gave me a comfortable feeling of security, on, or about the water.

 

[Page 189]

 

CHAPTER ?

 

Here I am again, this 25th day of January 1907, still “on deck,” and slowly plodding along with this little auto-writing.  Seventy-one years old today.  Going on 72.  A funny thing happened last month.  I received a letter from a man in Indiana, whose mother was a Reeder, he said.  Also that in their local paper appeared an article, stating that Samuel J. Reeder of Soldier creek, near Topeka Kansas, had celebrated his 85th birthday!  He asked if we were related to each other.  A day or two afterwards, here came a letter from Andrew P. Reeder of Sherman Texas, containing this newspaper clipping:

 

“A Pioneer’s Birthday.

 

Topeka Kans. Dec. 19. (1906.)  Samuel J. Reeder, who lives on Soldier Creek, four miles north-west of here, celebrates his eighty-fifth birthday.  He is the oldest of Kansas pioneers, having settled in 1855.  When he took his homestead, no government survey had been made, but he staked out his claim and trusted to providence.  He has

 

[Page 190]

 

been there ever since, actively engaged in farming, but in the Civil War he took a prominent part.  He is about to publish an interesting auto-biography.”

 

Don’t that beat the Jews?  I wrote to my Wild and Wooley Texas relative, giving my true age, and thanking him for the clipping.

 

[Drawing named:  “TEXAS HANDY ANDY.  Wild and Wooley,  And full of fleas;  And hard to curry; About the Knees.”  JAN. 25. 07.  MY STRENUOUS RELATIVE?”   Old Cowboy and gun.]

 

He had very kindly expressed the wish that I might scratch along a while longer, at my very advanced age.  Good Andy.  However, I guess I must look awful old.  Within a year, Comrade Ream and old Sam Harper, both enquired if I were not past 80.  I suppose it is because my rheumatic pains wrinkle me up, right smart.

 

Let us skip back to the past, again.

 

[Page 191]

 

About 1847 or 8 a Mr. Hinkle stopped over at our house a few days. He had been a Mormon elder until pried loose from that church by his repugnance to the “Spiritual Wife” doctrine.  Then he concluded to start a little one horse church of his own.  They were called “Hinkleites”, and numbered half a dozen, maybe less.  They located north of us in Whiteside County.  I think it was, but fizzled out miserably.  Hinkle could hardly read or write, and had such a treacherous memory he couldn’t remember his promises worth a cent, and finally the whole calculation went to smash. I don’t know whether a receiver was appointed or not, but the church was totally bankrupt, all the same.  As I remember him, he was a dreadfully solemn man, and when of evenings he would honk out his favorite hymn, beginning:

 

[Drawing named:  “REV. HINKLE.  Geo. M. Hinkle, apostate Mormon.”]

 

[Page 192]

 

“Our bondage here shall end, bye and bye,” etc., ‘t would have given an undertaker the creeps.  And he had other hymns equally doleful.  And they seemed to have such a depressing effect, that next morning while Adelia was singing for him, “That Old Arm Chair,” she broke down and left the room.  The tactless old coot, instead of pulling his wipe to erase the sympathetic tear, turned to Mr. Cole, and enquired:  “Is your daughter naturally melancholy, or is it feigned?”

 

Now the holy man was a widower, and the damsel had unmistakably found favor in his sight, but after this ill advised break, his cake was dough.  Next day he arose and departed.  I heard one of his followers say, that the bible somewhere states:  “All but two have fainted.”  After a pause he added with impressive solemnity:  “Those two are Hinkle and myself!”  I have searched and searched, and researched the scriptures to find that passage about Hinkle, but all in vain.  Is it a myth?

 

[Page 193]

 

Aunt Maria had a brother, John Evans, a handsome strapping six-footer.  We had glimpses of him now and then.  First as a very young bachelor.  A regular Adonis.  Of course such a prize was soon chased and captured.  Next time we saw him he was a widower, more mature, more interesting, and handsomer than ever.  He wore corduroy trousers, and I thought them the prettiest things I had ever seen.  He had a pocket music box, that played two tunes.  He was a good ventriloquist.  With a stick, he pounded the floor, and asked if anybody was down there.  A muffled voice from the cellar replied:  “Let me out!  O let me out!”  Then he suddenly cried out:  “There’s a bird in the house.”  He rushed into a corner, and seemed to catch it in the skirts of his coat.  We could hear it chirp and flutter.  Once it almost got away, but John caught it in his hands above his head, with redoubled chirping and fluttering of the poor captive.  It was the biggest kind of a show.

 

[Page 194]

 

But that was not all.  He took a seat, and with his lips slightly apart, imitated his music box, away down in his throat.  It was marvelous.  I could have fallen down and worshipped then and there.  All too soon my hero departed.  And truly I was his captive bird.  Again he loomed up.  But not the John as he used to be.  A second time had he been tangled in the bonds of Hymen. 

 

[Drawing named:  “THE CAPTIVE BIRD.”   Man.]

 

The “Tangier” was with him.  We had a pullet without feathers on the neck and top of the head that we called “Bare-skull.”  Mrs. John reminded me of Bare skull in many ways – eyes – neck, and general deportment.  There was no music box; no singing in the throat; and no ventriloquism.  All pokey small talk.

 

[Drawing named:  “BARE – SKULL.”  Ugly chicken, bald head, and large nose.]

 

[Page 195]

 

In about a year he returned alone riding a skeleton steed.  A second time he was a widower, and like his old self again.  So great was my delight, I rushed out in the cornfield, and brought a big armful of green corn for his famished looking horse.  Luckily John was at the stable, and informed me that such a dose would likely founder and kill the old anatomy.

 

[Drawing named:  “AN OFFERING AT THE SHRINE, REJECTED.”  Boy, man, and very thin horse.]

 

I believe this is the only time my hero ever personally addressed me.  It was a lucky escape for me, for I’d never forgiven myself if I’d killed the old plug thru’ mistaken kindness.

 

That evening the entertainment began.  It seems that John Evans had been in lots of places since his last visit.  Among the Indians,

 

[Page 196]

 

at the military posts, and as a deck-hand on a steamboat. 

 

Aunt Eliza had a terrible prejudice against boatmen and rafts men, and their narratives never found favor with her.  But I nearly ran wild over the following reminiscences: 

 

“When I was working on the (River Queen,” let us call her,) there was a big Irishman among us, as a deck-hand.  We had beans one day for dinner, and the Irishman like a hog, took a plateful from the table to eat between meals.  Well I watched where he put it, and when I had a chance I hid the plate of beans, and when he found out who did it, he was awful mad.  Just then we tied up at a place where there was cord wood, and as we started to bring it on board the Irishman hit me over the head with a stick, as I passed him, and knocked me down.  I was too dizzy to stand, and had to sit down on the box.  The mate called out to me:

 

[Page 197]

 

“What are you doing there?  Why don’t you help wood up?”

 

Says I, “My head aches too bad.”

 

We were on our way down the Mississippi river to St. Louis, and after we had started on again, I got up, and watching my chance I took the Irishman a lick aside of the head, and laid him out on the floor.  The Captain was coming down the stairs, and saw it all, and yelled out:  “Put that man ashore!”

 

“Did you hit the Irishman with a club?” interrupted Adelia, who like myself was listening with breathless interest.

 

[Drawing named:  “A THRILLING NARRATIVE.”   Two ladies, 2 men, bright candle, knitting, and table covered with table cloth.]

 

“No”, replied John, “No indeed.”  “I only used my fist on him.”

 

(How noble that seemed, in my

 

[Page 198]

 

stalwart hero.)  Then he went on:   “The rules were against deckhands fighting on the boat, if the officers found it out.  We came to a little island, with nothing but a few trees on it; and the Captain slopped the boat, and put me and my plunder ashore.  As the boat started on, the Captain laughed, as he stood on the hurricane deck, and called out:  “Come down to St. Louis and let me hire you over again!”

 

“Go to ____ with your ____ old boat,:  I yelled back at him:  (John called a spade, a spade.)

 

“Then I ran along the shore after the boat, trying to find a stone to throw at the captain, but there was nothing but mud, and that made him laugh harder than ever.”  (I fairly boiled over with indignation, at such heartless meanness in the steamboat captain – Aunt Eliza, also, but for a far different reason.)

 

I am sorry to say I cannot remember how and when he

 

[Page 199]

 

was rescued from his desert island.  I think a passing boat took him and his belongings up the Missouri River, for next thing, he was telling about being among the Indians:  “An old Indian Chief took a great liking for me,” continued John.  “One day he invited me to his wigwam, and there I found his daughter, and the old man proposed that I should marry her, and be adopted into the tribe.

 

“How was she dressed,” asked Adelia.  “She was dressed up in the finest kind of style,” replied John, “beads and rings, and bright colors, and all that.”  “Was she pretty?”  John hesitated a moment.  “Well yes, I reckon she was, for an Indian.  “And what did you say?”  “Didn’t know what to say at first; but finally I told the chief that I couldn’t do it, as I was obliged to go home, very soon.  Well next day he invited me to take a three or four days hunt with him, which I

 

[Page 200]

 

did, and had a real good time.”  And wasn’t you afraid he would kill and scalp you, for refusing to marry the Princess,” enquired Adelia, again.  “O no!” replied John, “When an Indian is a friend, he’s a friend indeed.  There was no danger of that.”  As John Evans related this episode in his life, I think even Aunt Eliza was impressed.  His declining to espouse a member of the royal house of the noble red man, seemed to raise him another notch on the pedestal of my admiration.  Maybe, I at the same time marveled how Mrs. Evans No. 2 had compassed his capture.  (In after years I saw lots of Indians, and marveled less.)

 

Next thing, he told about being at one of our frontier forts.  I think he said Fort Leavenworth, and that he was employed there.  He said:  “One day two soldiers were tied up and whipped for some offense.  One of them yelled like a good fellow, and kept crying out:

 

[Page 201]

 

“You’ll kill me.  Stop!  Shoot me through, shoot me through!”

 

But the other one took his whipping like a man, and never made a sound.  He was a cavalry man, and after he got over his whipping, returned to duty.  One day while his horse was saddled, he drew up and shot down the officer that had ordered,  or been most to blame in having him whipped.  Then he mounted and was off.  A squad of soldiers were sent in pursuit, but came back next day without their man.  Everybody said they didn’t want to find him, as they knew he would fight till he died, and as he was well armed, he would likely kill some of them.

 

The officer was very badly wounded, but he finally got well. 

 

Some of the soldiers were very fond of whisky, and they got me to bring it from across the river for them, in a skiff.  One day after I had bro’t over a lot, someone told me the guard was looking for me.

 

[Page 202]

 

Well now, I didn’t let any grass grow under my feet.  I ran down where my skiff was hid in the bushes, and got a good way from the shore when the squad of soldiers got to the river.  They hailed me, and ordered me to come back, but I only pulled the harder.  Then they began to fire at me.  I was then just above an island, and I turned down behind it, and escaped.”

 

“And what would they have done to you, if you’d been taken?”  asked Adelia, all sympathy.

 

“O they’d have taken me straight to the whipping-post!” promptly answered our hero.  Aunt Eliza must have groaned in spirit, and I guess we all felt more or less damped in our adulation.  How much grander it would have sounded, if the penalty had been, a drum head court-marital, and shot at Sunrise.  (When gold was discovered in California, John was one of

 

[Page 203]

 

the first to go, and wrote that he was “making his pile.”  Next thing, a minor wrote that John was dead, and as his “pile” was not mentioned, we suspected foul play.)  Requiescat in pace.

 

[Drawing named:  “JOHN’S GET-AWAY.”   Man, boat, soldiers, guns, river, and trees.]

 

About this time Adelia attended school at Quincy Institute, I think it was called.)  It was red-hot abolition, and she was a ready convert.  She wanted to be a missionary, and go to Africa, but compromised by teaching school across the river from Quincy, in the Slave State of Missouri.  She wrote us letters from there, about the “Horrid huts of the poor slaves,” etc, but informed us that she had to keep her mouth shut about such

 

[Page 204]

 

expression of her sentiments, among the slave holding people. 

 

A few years before, three red-hot abolitionists, Burr, Wor k and Thomson, had tried their hands at “Stealing niggers,” as it was called, not far from where she was teaching school.  The darkies betrayed them – they barely escaped lynching – were tried, convicted and sent to the “pen” for a term of four or five years.  One of them wrote a book called “Prison life & Reflections,” after they were turned out, and Adelia brought a copy home from Quincy.  It was boss.  I used to read it by the hour.  Most of our folks condemned the abolitionists.  Mr. Cole said they would be an injury to the nation.  Grandpa said:

 

“The niggers would starve to death, if they had no masters to take care of them.”

 

But Adelia was steadfast, and associated much with the anti-slavery folks of LaHarpe.  There was one Andrews, a colporteur, a store keeper named Armes, and an old dyed-in-the-wool

 

[Page 205]

 

gentleman on the “North prairie,” of the name of Richardson.  (This old gent tried his hand at a little amateur “nigger stealing”, some years later, and had to skip, with a $1500. reward for his capture, dead or alive.)

 

[Drawing named:  “RICHARDSON’S GET-AWAY.”   Men, dogs, sign, and guns.]

 

Another out spoken abolitionist, was a thin, long legged old fellow named Lackey.  He was hired to take care of a crazy woman, and some people complained that he had a habit of “beating her up,” notwithstanding the fact that he was a self-styled “Humane man.”

 

An anti-slavery lecturer drifted into town, and I heard him speak.  After he was through, L. Tuttle, a deaf Connecticut Yankee, got up and tried to smash his argument by quoting scripture.

 

[Page 206]

 

“Well what are you going to do about ‘Cursed be Canaan; and “Servants obey your masters’ Tuttle cried out in his sharp mitotic voice.  Then they had it, rough and tumble for a while.  The lecturer – who was himself a preacher – ended it by saying:

 

“The ministry of this town must be very low, when such arguments from the holy Scriptures are brought forward in defense of Slavery!”  Most Everybody took Tuttle’s part, and besotted little wretch that I was, I thought he was right, too.  La Harpe was Democratic, and a store keeper, David Gochenour was elected to the Legislature.  Grandpa and Uncle Lewis were Democrats.  Mr. Cole was a Whig.  (My father was a Whig, too.)

 

We began using “Lucifer matches”, about this time.  25 cts per box.  Too expensive to use, almost.  In former times we had to keep a burning log or chunk buried in the ashes of nights.  One time the chunk went out, and Mr. Cole took one of his

 

[Page 207]

 

flint – lock pistols out doors, and as he fired it off, he held a bunch of loose cotton close to the pan, and it was set-on fire by the flash.

 

[Drawing named:  “WHEN THE FIRE WENT OUT – A FLINT-LOCK BLESSING.”   Man, dog, and gun.]

 

I always enjoyed hearing the report of the pistol, but some of the folks closed their ears, and our fool dog fled in dismay at sight of the shooting iron.

 

For light, we used tallow dip candles, that Aunt E. used to make by the dozen.  We also had an iron lamp, in which we burned lard and grease of all kinds.

 

[Drawing named:  “OUR OLD IRON LAMP.”   Lit candle and old iron lamp.]

 

[Page 208]

 

Mr. Cole was a good reader, and used to read aloud to us of evenings.  When he would not be reading I sometimes read to myself in “Mariner’s Chronicles”  “The Spy,” “Arabian Nights” and  “Children of the Abbey.”  If I had been as industrious in reading the holy scriptures, I might have become a good biblical scholar.  Mea Culpa.

 

Sister Eliza began writing a diary, or “Private Journal,” as it was called.  The scheme struck me as a good one.  I had traded Marsh Gittings out of a little three by four inch pocket account book, that his brother in law Horace Ray had given him; and with this, and another little book of my own manufacture, I began my own “Private Journal,” on the 16th day of September, A.D. 1849.  From that date, to this 8th day of March 1907, every day has been faithfully recorded in black and white.  Unfortunately this first volume of more than 3 1/2 years, (up to June 1st 1853,) was burned in my house Apr. 8 1890, together with

 

[Page 209]

 

Volume 4, from Dec. 31st 1857 to Jan. 25th 1860, inclusive, making in all, a loss of 5 years, 8 months and 9 days.  Glad I lost no more. 

 

[Drawing named:  “BEGINNING THE PRIVATE JOURNAL, SEP.16. 1849.”   Lit candle, Boy, book, room, ink, and ink pen.]

 

Nobody thought I would hang on to my venture, but luckily I began by writing briefly, so as to not make it much of a task, and in a short time it became an incurable habit; The record of some days would contain not more than half a dozen words:  “Thursday, Clear.  South windy.  School.  P.M.  Warm.  School.”  Etc. Etc.

 

[Page 210]

 

We had an old book called “Gas’s Journal,” of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and from this book I got good instruction.

 

When I was captured in 1864, the rebels took my picket diary containing 10 days.  I escaped 3 days afterwards, and re-wrote the 10 days from memory.  (I couldn’t do it now.)  About 20 years are written in Pitman short hand, and a little in mongrel French;  all of which I now deplore.  I also invented and used a secret cypher, which I considered grand.  In 100 years from now these old manuscripts may be quite a curiosity!  In early days in Kansas, my ink would freeze in spite of all my care, and much of my diary had to be “inked over.”  (This is Carter’s best.)  Had I not lost Vol.1., it would now be a simple matter for me to give exact dates.  As it is I remember a great deal, as I had written it.

 

I think in Oct. 49 Uncle Samuel returned from his very last effort to make the world better by preach-

 

[Page 211]

 

ing the gospel.  He rented and lived in a little house half way between our house and town.  Of course he was poor as a church mouse.  He had now made up his mind to make a living for himself and family.  In the spring following he removed to his own house in LaHarpe.   (Mr. Auns had a Store in the west room.)  I went along to live with him, and my room was over the store room, and the stove-pipe came in th’ro the floor and made it nice and warm.  There were two little girls, Kit and Em.  The little boy Willy had died, up north, the year before.  (Aunt Eliza also lost two little boys:  Alfred in 1848, and William in 1851.  The first was one, and the other three years old.  Doctored to death, no doubt.)  And so Uncle Samuel quit the splitting of theo-logical hairs, and with commendable worldly wisdom turned to things terrestrial. 

 

[Drawing named:  “SAMMON, WORLDLY-WISE.”  Man.]

 

[Page 212]

 

He pitched into hard work with a celerity and vim that seems astonishing in a little cripple, such as he was.  I guess he wanted to make up for lost time.

 

During the summer I helped him farm the “Smoot Place,” and in the winter he travelled over the country selling and putting in chain pumps, - a new invention -  His success was wonderful.  It was little use for the old farmers to hem and haw, and object to the pumps.  Sammon just naturally wound them up in argument, put them in good humor with his funny sayings, psychologized them as he called it, and ended by putting in for them a really Superior kind of chain pump.  It gave such satisfaction, that his business increased until he was nearly all the time on the road.

 

[Drawing named:  “PSYCHOLOGIZED.”   Two men, one man in suit and other man bundled up for Winter.]

 

[Page 213]

 

Chapter.

 

It is now 3:30 P.M.  Feb. 22nd  1908, and I once more continue my Autobiography.  I intended to begin Jan. 25th 1908, but did not succeed.  Have not been so well as last year.  Lumbago; lame shoulder; tender feet, etc.  Only weigh 123 lbs.  But I am better now.

 

Let me see.  I was living in LaHarpe with my Uncle Samuel in 1850.  I think he didn’t go selling pumps until the second winter I staid there.  My diary of those dates being burned.  I cannot remember.

 

During the season of 1850, I learned how to handle a team.  I think we farmed some of Uncle Lewis’s land, and part of the quarter section owned by Eliza and myself, which was called the “Smoot Place,” because a Mr. Smoot had rented it and lived in the log house.  Uncle Lewis and family lived with us, in part of Uncle S’s house, and the latter took the job of finishing a story and half frame house that Lewis was putting up on his farm.  I think that S. did not know any too much about carpentering.  When he shingled it, I

 

[Page 214]

 

carried shingles, and handed him the nails.  When the shingle was too narrow, or the nail without a head, he gave expression to his wrath.  He sided the house with inch boards, tongue and groove.  He said it could be pitched like Noah’s Ark, and be water proof.  The sun shrunk the boards apart, and the rains entered therein. 

 

(Now look here.  This is my 73 birthday Jan. 25, 1909, and I have started in again.  I am lots better, than 1 year ago.)

 

To continue.  When Aunt Sophia inspected the carpenter work, her tongue let loose, and O how mad the Rev. Sammon looked!  “Every one to his trade,” is good to remember.  The house was afterwards weather boarded, and is still standing, I think.

 

When winter came, I made several trips to Pontoosuc, with wagon loads of pork, and I managed the team very well.  I always had company of several other LaHarpe teamsters.  After unloading and feeding the team, I would eat my lunch, and then look at the sights.  The mighty Mississippi river was the most alluring; next was the steam engine of a large distillery.  The 20 foot fly wheel was to my imagination power personified.  Next Summer was wet, and I went with a party of other teamsters to “Ponty,” to bring goods.  When we got there the river was up in some parts of the town, and we had to back our wagons, in two feet of water, up to the warehouse door.  We loaded up and

 

[Page 215]

 

drove to higher ground and fed.  But before night the river water was backing up under my wagon.  I had to hitch up and drive to still higher location.  We had to stay all night.  I slept with others in the loft of a warehouse, close to the shingles.  In the night I heard the musical patter of the rain on the roof.  Next morn I was up and out at daylight.  The water was still rising.  The weather was warm, and I wadded about, and collected floating lumber and made a rude raft.  On this I “poled” myself from the hotel.  (which was now partly submerged,) to the dry land where our teams were left.  One of our teamsters an old Virginian named Iden, asked for a passage, but the added weight sank the craft, and we were soused in the water.  He scrambled out with the question:  “Lord Sammy, did you want to drown me?”  He was much given to alcohol, and no doubt dreaded a watery grave.  I always liked old Iden, and he seemed to reciprocate.  He called me “The preacher,” because I was tall and solemn, like the Rev. Fowler of La Harpe, who was a sort of giant.  Iden finally “Burned out his Coppers,” as the saying was, and passed to the “Beyond.”  He was the first person I ever saw touch the hat, in salutation.  Grace, personified.

 

[Drawing of Samuel and Iden falling off Samuel’s raft.  Two young men, raft, flooding, houses, trees, and fence.]

 

[Page 216]

 

A little thing happened on this trip that caused me some elation, and it is a pleasant memory, even to this day.  When we loaded up, at the warehouse we had to back our wagons to the open door.  It was difficult to do, with the water hub-deep, and all 4 or 5 teamsters failed, until after more or less trials.  I came last, and at the first backing up of the team.  I placed the end-gate of the wagon squarely up against the open door.  Some of the men at the warehouse looked at me, and one of them said:  “Well my boy, you can beat all.”  Had I received the decoration of the Legion of Honor, I might not have felt more elated.  Then when we unloaded at LaHarpe, I was again the last, and again I backed up correctly at the first attempt, which the others failed to do.  And again my ears were regaled with the encomium:  “You’ve beat em all!”

 

This year of 1851 was so wet, we raised little or no corn; and there was a great deal of sickness.  I began to ail, and my uncle sent for a long lank, lopsided doctor named Crawford.  He looked at my tongue, felt the pulse, then poured a whole lot of

 

[Page 217]

 

pills in my hand, and told me to “Swallow them.” And as Grandpa was not there to help me out, down the nasty things went.  I suspect some of Grandpa’s dreadful “Marcury,” was in them, for they made me deathly sick.  But I recovered.  Then Aunt Eliza’s little boy Willy took sick and Mr. Cole straightaway called Dr. “Beanpole” Crawford to dose him, too.  He did it so effectually, that the result was fatal.  And what was Grandpa doing to prevent such a catastrophe?  I don’t know, as I was not living at home, just then.  But a wonderful thing happened to him.  As I have already explained, he believed little in visions, or hocus pocus of any kind, and so we must consider his experience as having double weight.  He was in his room, lying on the bed, not asleep, but nearly so, when the little boy died.  He said he knew his surroundings perfectly, and was surprised to see little Willy, and a larger boy, standing by his bed-side.  Willy smiled and offered his hand, and Grandpa reached out to take it.  Then he opened his eyes, but the vision was GONE.

 

[Drawing of Grandpa in bed when he saw a vision of Willy.]

 

[Page 218]

 

Rev. Thompson preached the funeral Sermon.  The Rev. James Nichols had preached the little Alleys funeral sermon before that.  Aunt Eliza found out afterwards that the Rev. gentleman believed in what was then “Infant Damnation,” and she was sorry.  Of course he did not mention it in his remarks at the funeral, but he preached it afterwards to his flock.  (Of late years it is seldom advocated.)  Next:  Rev. James Henry.  Mr. Henry was a young man of about 30.  His appearance befitted his profession.  He had a long slim face, and his eyes and hair were so very, very black, and in all the time I knew him, I never saw him smile.  His voice had a clear, metallic ring about it, that put me in mind of Aunt Eliza’s brass kettle, when drummed on.  When he first came, several young ladies gave chase.  It was all fruitless.  In a sermon, he stated:  “There are no women in heaven.  But there are angels in heaven, and deacons in hell.” 

 

Good old Deacon Maynard looked up in amazement, when preacher Henry corrected himself:  “Angels in heaven, and demons in hell!”

 

[Drawing named:  “PARSON JIM.”   Man.]

 

[Page 219]

 

The poor man was dragged into a Church squabble.  Part of the flock wanted to celebrate 4th of July at LaHarpe, and the others, on the “North Prairie.”  Preacher Henry went with the latter, in company with brother.  Arms, and Fessenden, and others.  A few nights afterwards, a sack of chicken bones and other fragments were left at Mr. Bliss’s door.  A certain church member was suspected of doing the awful deed, and a fuss was started.  At its height, an unknown poet, supposed to be Smith Cogswell wrote the following and posted it on the Liberty-pole.

 

“Pic-nic Chronicles.

The feast was done, The half picked bone,

Was all that decked the table,

When Parson Jim, With features grim,

Had gorged all he was able.

Again he tried by pressing sore;

But all in vain.  He’d hold no more.

Then Arms and Fessenden, his bowers,

Came to his aid with all their powers.

Says Arms:  ‘This sack with bones I’ll pack

If Fessenden will hide it?

‘Agreed, says Fess.  ‘I’m for a mess,

Tomorrow we’ll divide it.”

‘while we store the bones away,

The Parson he must watch and pray.’

The plan was laid as here related,

This luckless hoard Beneath a board,

Was hidden till the morrow

When direful fate, Sad to relate

And much to Parson’s sorrow,

Some Dog found out the precious feast,

And ate it all – the nasty beast –

And picked the bones at Bliss’s door,

So Parson Jim saw them no more.

Bliss saw them there.  The bones so bare,

And swore in Yankee tones:

Dad blast the owls that stole the fowls,

And ate all but the bones!’

 

[Page 220]

 

How the fur did fly!  We had no newspaper in those days, but current events traveled by word of mouth with amazing rapidity.  Even the sanctity of a church trial was not respected.  Brother Henry’s woe begone face seemed an inch or two longer.  About this time I heard him say:  “I make no claim of being a Seer, or a Prophet, but I firmly believe that I shall live to see the great Millennial Day!”  No doubt he thought LaHarpe needed a big shaking up of that kind.  Finally a young reprobate confessed before the array of Church officials, that he alone had deposited the sack of chicken bones at Mr. Bliss’s door.  So Parson Henry and his friends were exonerated, and after a little more scrapping on general principles, the Church quieted down.

 

I seldom went to church.  One time I heard a preacher give a very graphic description of the Lower Regions.  It was just fine.  And how gloomy he looked as he said:  “Some people think the flames of Hell light it up with a brilliant glare, but that is not true.  No, my brethren, the flames rolled in billows of midnight darkness; nothing but the wails of the

 

[Page 221]

 

Accursed, as they writhe in their agony, where the worm dieth not, and the fire it is not quenched!”

 

Another part of Hades must have had the benefit of illumination.  He continued:  “Here we see Satan.  He is seated on a throne, his eyes sparkling with hellish rage, while at his side a monstrous clock repeats with monotonous regularity, the single word:  Eternity!  Eternity!!  Eternity!!!”

 

[Drawing named:  “ETERNITY.”   Candle, clock, and devil.]

 

 

 

316. Park St. North Topeka Kans, Jan. 25 1910.  Today I begin again, after 2 o clock P.M.  I am of course 74 years old now, and Bessie has just taken my picture with the flute.  Fear it will be poor.  Now let us proceed.  Allons!

 

316 Park St. N. Topeka.  May 30, 1914 a.m.  I am now in my 79th year, but eyesight & mental faculties are in good condition.  Now “Allons”! again.  Years ago, old Mrs Winans looked at this “Auto”

 

[Page 222]

 

and advised me to loose no time in finishing it, for she argued “Your time is short!” and I fear it is too true.  Too weak.  Too old.

 

 

Gold was discovered in California, and Mr. Cole and a party of LaHarpe men started for the gold fields in the Spring of 1852 by over-land, with ox teams.  Old Mr. Tuttle and his son Sydney, and John Warren & his brother in law, Isaac Soule; Old Mr. Leavitt & sons Frank and Sewal were of the party.

 

I returned home with my Aunt Eliza to ”Run the farm.”  Our family consisted of my grandfather William James, Eliza. Cole & her two children, Fanny & Eugene, my sister Eliza & myself.  It was a kind of a sort of a pang to sever relations with Uncle Samuel & folks but we all adjusted ourselves to the change, neat as a pin.  When this new arrangement was first mooted, Aunt Eliza said I impulsively cried out:  “O, Lady, I’d rather be with you, than with anyone else in the wide world!!”  And she kept me from that time on to the 17th day of December 1867.

 

My uncle was an excellent School Teacher but was not a first class farmer.  The result was debt and dilapidation, and after he started out, I first, under Eliza’s (Liza’s) direction turned my attention to the fencing.  Our team was sold to pay the most pressing debts, so it was arranged that I “changed work” with my Uncles.  I would work one day for them for the use of a team, for another day.  Our East line of “worn fence” was half a mile long:  I cut this line of fence.  Then I began at the N.E. corner of the field.  I would take down ten or more panels of the fence, put a large block under each corner, replace the broken and rotten rails with sound.

 

[Inside Back Cover]

 

[Back Cover]

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