DEATH OF OUR FATHER - - HE EXPECTED CIVIL WAR
Early in the spring of 1859, my father set out a lot of young apple trees, and Matilda and I carried the little trees from the nursery for him and he showed us how to plant little trees just right. The side of the tree that grew in the shade in the nursery had to be set to face the rising sun. We never forgot this, and we each on our own farms, when widows, planted and raised orchards of our own. We laughed over this once when I was looking at her beautiful, young trees in Michigan. We always followed father over the farm wherever he would let us go. And when he worked near the house, in the orchards or front yard, I always was “like his shadow” there.
He always petted me and called me his “baby girl”, and he wanted me with him all the time. He said he was lonesome if I was not hanging around him or on his lap, when I was little.
Once when I was five years old, father went to Marietta to pay his taxes, and he bought for me there a little doll, and Rebecca Morland gave him a piece of white and pink chintz, out of their log store, to make it a dress. I have that doll today, and it has that same dress on it; and she would be a fine looking “little old body” if I had not hissed half the nose of her, sixty years ago.
The winter of ‘58 and ’59, the superintendent of the railroad, George W. Norris, and his wife and little daughter, “Helen Mar”, boarded at our home while he was having a home built in Athens, Ohio. They were all born in the state of Maine and were fine people, and have ever been some our best friends. She and Helen are living, but he died twenty years ago.
Father and Mrs. Norris had fine times talking of books they had been reading, and she delighted in father’s jokes and enjoyed his intelligence and sunny disposition, and my mother’s quiet wisdom.
Mother hardly ever joked, as she was like our beloved William McKinley, always very much in earnest about whatever she said or did. When she spoke, they were words of wisdom that we never forgot, and she was business through and through, and she accomplished much. Sometimes she would laugh at father’s jokes, but she tried very hard not to laugh, which made it the more jolly for him – to get them off on her and all of us.
The year of 1859 was a year of sorrow to all of us. On the 4th of August of that year, our father, after a short illness, passed peacefully away, with bright hopes of future happiness before him. He said he had hoped to live until I was older, as all his children but I were grown and able to do for themselves; but I was so delicate, sickly and only thirteen years old.
All were just broken up over this sudden sorrow, as it was the first death of a relative we had ever known. I had been to but one funeral and this was a small child. I took it so to heart that father and mother thought best for me not to go to any funerals; and I did not want to go.
But now I must go to father’s funeral, and part with him during my life. I broke down completely and could not be comforted. I grew thin and pale and could not eat. Mother and all tried to comfort me, and she tried so hard to find something that I could eat.
One day I said to her, “If I had some of your home made cheese, mother, I believe I could eat it.”
She went to work, right off, and made a small cheese, and I longingly looked at it and wondered if I could live till it was fit to cut. She told her trouble in this matter to our teacher, Miss Issa Shaw, who was boarding with William and Phoebe at this time.
Miss Shaw said to her, “Mrs. Smith, my mother has a fine lot of home made cheese on hand now, and old enough to be fine. If you will lend me a horse after school closes this evening, I will go home and bring some of mother’s cheese and come back with it early in the morning, in time to get to my school.”
Mother was glad to have her do this, and she rode eight miles to her home and back in the morning by eight o’clock. I could hardly wait till she came with it, and I watched the road till she appeared. She handed it to me and mother cut it, and I was satisfied and could soon eat all right.
The winter of 1859 and 1860, the twins and I went to school on Dutch Ridge, in the old log school house, to Charles W. Campbell who was a fine teacher. This was our last term in the old log school house, as we were sent into a new district near Cutler, my father giving half of the ground, and a new frame school house was being built there.
The winter of ’60 and ’61, Joseph went to a fine, select school, taught by J. M. Yarnell, in the village of Barlow, Ohio; and Lucinda went to school in Marietta, to John D. Phillips – said to be the best teacher in Washington County at this time. She boarded with Colonel A. L. Haskin and wife. She was there for company for his wife when he left with the fine 63rd Regiment for the Civil War, where he stayed till its close.
Matilda and I went to the Dr. Newell School, taught by John Plumley. It was a small school with only a few nearly grown scholars, and we large ones were nearly all in one class in all our studies. These were: George Dinsmore, far the best scholar among us; J. Hannibal Newell, next best; then Jennie and Katie Wier, half sisters to George Dinsmore, wee very bright scholars and handsome and fine, congenial school chums. Jennie was Matilda’s chum and Katie was mine. John Brandeberry and his brother Isaac were the other grown young men.
John Brandeberry enlisted this year of 1851, as one of the first Volunteers, and was all through the Civil War. He was a fine man. He died a few years ago.
Isaac is a fine man and has raised a fine, big family, and now lives near Cutler on his farm. I visited him and his good wife there last summer and had a fine time.
In the year of ’57, ’58 and ’59, all the wise railroad men, so many of whom boarded and lodged in our old home, and my father would say “a war is sure coming in this country soon.” They were all posted by reading so many newspapers on the political issues of those times. The question of “Slavery” was just boiling in those days, and that is why “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was coming out in the newspapers. Read that old book and you will see how things were drifting.
Father said to mother and all of us, “There is an awful ‘Civil War’ coming in this country. I may not live to see it, but I fear my sons will all be in it.”
It came two years after his death – a little sooner and he anticipated. The campaign of 1860 was a very exciting one between Lincoln and Douglass, and we at the “old home” were reading those newspapers containing all the memorable speeches of Lincoln – among them his farewell speech to his friends at Springfield, on February 11, 1861, and the last of which he said”
“I now leave, not knowing when or whether ever I may return – with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being, (who ever attended him) I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will be well.
To this care commending you, and I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.”