The Story of My Life
Author: John C. Lawrence
Until a few years ago I knew almost nothing of my ancestors back of my grandfather on my father’s side. One day the thought occurred to me: “Will I be so soon forgotten?” The thought prompted me to find out what I could about my people, who they were and from whence they came. I regret there was so little I could find out about them beyond mere names.
It is for the purpose of leaving a better record for my children and my children’s children that I am writing this story of my life, Hugh is to type it with a copy for each of the children. I know they will care for it as I would care for what my father wrote, had he done what I am doing. Beyond a letter written by him nearly sixty years ago I have little of what he thought and said while living, Of my mother I have a much clearer remembrance as she lived several years after father’s death and I have a number of her letters.
My thought at this time is not an attempt at a mere biography. While there will be some chronological order to what I may write I want the story to picture, as nearly as may be, some of the scenes along the pathway I have trod in life and if the people and the custom as I found them. This will mean a good many digressions from the story in the main.
The story is not intended for others than my own family. This means it is not written for publications nor for the public, so I will feel free to write in a purely personal vein. There can be nothing egotistical in the fact that I may use the pronoun the first person singular. It must necessarily be that way. It is to be the story of my life not that of some one else.
I was born near Mt. Gilead in Morrow County, Ohio, January 22, 1861. That was the first important event in my life. The place of birth was on a farm about three miles from Mt. Gilead, which was the county seat. This was an 80 acre farm which had belonged to my mother’s father, William Montgomery. He and his bride, who had been Jane Smith, had come from Virginia near the North Carolina line in about the year 1830. They left the locality of Green Springs, just south of Abbingdon, which had been the family home for many years. How many years I cannot say. Mother often spoke of her family dying out. In the later years I visited Abbingdon for the purpose of finding out something about the Montgomery family. After some inquiry I found an old lady past seventy, who was born a Montgomery. When I told her I wanted to find out something about the Montgomery family she said. “So would I. I have lived here all my life and not since I was a little girl have I know anyone by the name of Montgomery.” That discouraged me. If she knew nothing after a long life spent here how could I hope to find out anything. So I came away. This little old lady had the sweet, kindly face, which I think was typical of the Montgomery’s.
I saw three of mother’s cousins a few years ago, quite old ladies then, who had the expression I remembered on mother’s face. While I felt this old Virginia lady must be related to our family I could of course find no proof. The court house records gave quite a long list of Montgomerys. One of them had deeded a tract of land near Green Springs to a Presbyterian Church as long as it worshipped according to the Westminster confession of faith. As this was the boyhood home of my grandfather Montgomery I think it reasonable to think that it was one of the family who gave the deed. The restriction that title was to run according to the Westminster confession of faith would indicate he was a Presbyterian. That grandfather was a soldier of the Revolution I have from my Aunt Elizabeth Lawrence who knew the family. She said he was buried with the honors of war.
Of my Grandmother, Jane Smith, I know nothing as to ancestry beyond the fact that her maiden name was Smith. I have heard rumors that some of her relatives were wealthy. This should not be held against them nor is it much in their favor. It was said they were of Irish descent. In fact, I remember mother saying her mother’s mother was from Ireland. Once, as a child I told some one my grandmother was an Irish-man. I did not understand until much later why me statement raised a laugh.
The Montgomery family was of course Southern. This was in slave territory. Whether the family owned slaves or not I do not know. Presumably they did. A monument to the confederate dead stands on the court house square at Abbingdon. Looking south from the square, which is on a little eminence, you can see over the timbered country, nearly level, the six miles to where the little hamlet of Green Springs, which I never saw, lies close to the North Carolina line. To the north are the Cumberland mountains, the town of Abbingdon being apparently as close to the mountains as the railroad could be located which skirted the base.
On the farm on which I was born grandfather Montgomery and his bride made their home when Ohio was in a crudely pioneer state. He built and operated a little saw mill in which he worked. It was while at work in the mill that in lifting he ruptured a blood vessel with caused his death. Grandmother returned to Virginia with her three children of whom mother, Lucretia, was oldest and her brothers John and James. And in Virginia mother spent a few years of her childhood with her mother’s people. But grandmother Montgomery sickened from what was then always called consumption and returned to Ohio to be buried beside grandfather on the homestead. When I stood by their graves a few years ago and read the inscription on the tombstone I realized how young they were at death. Grandfather died at 27 and grandmother at 29. I suppose she was younger as she survived him a few years.
In 1898 I visited the Montgomery homestead in Morrow County, Ohio, near Mt. Gilead, which mother inherited. It gave me a strange sensation to stand on the spot where I was born. The house had been torn down but the spring showed its former location. I was disappointed in one thing. I had often told Jessie of a ditch which ran near the house. There was neither ditch nor any sign there had even been one. But a woman who lived across the road and who was a young lady when we lived there said there had been a ditch as I remembered. The graves of grandfather and grandmother Montgomery were in an orchard just above where the house had stood. I looked on it with a feeling of reverence. The trees were the largest apple trees I had ever seen, apparently 50 feet high and covering with the branches an area of nearly that much in diameter. Probably not so much but without measurement that was the impression made on my memory.
My father, George Lawrence, was the son of Charles Lawrence whose home was two miles east of Lexington, in Richland County, Ohio. Mother, after her mother’s death, had been raised by a relative, Martha Piper, who lived near grandfather Lawrence, so father and mother were school mates. I saw the patent to grandfather Lawrence’s farm, signed by President Madison. The place is now owned by Joseph Lawrence, a half uncle.
LAWRENCE FAMILY HISTORY
There is a state park called the Serpent’s (park) not far from Rice’s Landing. It’s land which John Lawrence owned.
Grandfather’s father was John Lawrence of Rice’s Landing, Pennsylvania, the son of John Lawrence who was the original ancestor.
John Lawrence, our first American ancestor, with Catherine, his wife, maiden name unknown, came from Germany in the eighteenth century, probably about 1745. Some of the relatives fix that date for no particular reason that I know. One says it was early in that century. He died in 1818. As the Lawrences of the earlier generations lived to the age of about 75 years he was probably born about 1743. He may have been older at his death and consequently born earlier. This is purely speculative but has to do with varying traditions in the family history.
One tradition has it that a widow Lawrence came over with several boys. Another that several brothers came together but became separated in America. Both might be true. My father when I was a child of eight read a letter from his father who gave the latter tradition, saying they were ship wrecked and thus scattered, one brother in Canada, another in New England and another in Maryland or Virginia.
George Lawrence, a second cousin to father who lives at Sequim, showed me an old iron spectacle case which he said the first ancestor brought from Germany. If he came as a boy it could not have belonged to him. If he came with his parents or his mother only, one of them may have owned it.
Tradition has it that the family was originally from England, migrating during the persecution of the Pilgrims. George Lawrence, mentioned, says the family was descended from Sir Robert Lawrence, who was knighted in the Crusades. I am giving these traditions for what they are worth which is very little if anything. Only the fact that the same traditions come from different branches of the family, separated for generations, leads to the common origin and lends color to their authenticity. George Lawrence has it that it is the same family related to the Washingtons, but I think the wish that it were so is father to the thought.
The Frost family history, written by a descendant of John Lawrence, says the first Lawrence settled in Maryland not far from a stream called Connecocheague. This leads me to think of a possible relationship to Capt. James Lawrence of “Don’t give up the ship” fame. He was from Maryland.
John Lawrence must have moved across into Pennsylvania as he enlisted in the Revolutionary war from Cumberland County, Pa., serving as a sergeant in the company of a Capt. John Jack, Eighth Cumberland county militia, 1779. He was a brother-in-law to Samuel Fenton who served as captain in the Sixth Battalion Cumberland county militia, 1780. All of this is shown by the records on file in the state library at Harrisburg, Penn. On proof of descent from John Lawrence, our ancestor, this record entitles the descendants to join the Sons of American Revolution or Daughters of American Revolution.
Some time after the close of the Revolutionary war, probably in 1784, John Lawrence and Samuel Fenton moved to Fayette County in Western Pennsylvania. Here Jeremiah Fenton married his cousin Rosannah Lawrence and founded the Fenton family whose history was written by a descendant, William B. Brown of Des Moines, Iowa.
John Lawrence was an influential man in his community. A good many of his old neighbors followed him which is a pretty good testimonial of his character. He died in 1818 and his wife Catherine died in 1819 or 1820. These are our first known ancestors. I have spent a good deal of time and money to trace further back but have not succeeded and will likely get no farther.
They have seven children. Rosannah, born Oct. 3, 1768, married Jeremiah Fenton and died in 1845.
Catherine, born Sept. 15, 1772, married Ephraim Horner, date of death unknown.
William born Oct. 15, 1775, wife named Patience Frost, died in 1854.
John (my great grandfather) born Aug. 9, 1778 and died June 1, 1854. He married Elizabeth Wanee, daughter of John and Patience Wanee. His father was probably a soldier of the Revolutionary War.
George, born June 18, 1782.
Mary, born Sept. 10, 1785, married Amos Frost and founded the Frost family.
Samuel, born May 4, 1778, died 1820 unmarried.
John Lawrence and his wife Elizabeth Wanee had three children:
Charles (my grandfather) born Dec. 1, 1803. Married Eleanor Bailey, died July 13, 1883.
Mary Elizabeth, born Jan 28, 1810, married Jesse Fenton, the second marriage into the Fenton family.
Margaret, born Feb. 22, 1810, married George Denny, died July 25, 1845.
Charles Lawrence, my grandfather and Eleanor his wife had ten children:
George, my father, born Dec. 15, 1829, married Lucretia Montgomery who as born May 28, 1831, died June 29, 1870.
Rachel Elizabeth, born March 24, 1833, first married a man named Nesbett and after his death a man named King, died in about 1915.
James, born Dec. 5, 1835, unmarried, died after enlisting in the Union army in 1861 and is buried at Indianapolis, Ind.
John, born July 10, 1838, unmarried, died in the summer of 1864. Father’s letter, quoted later on, mentions his last sickness. He died at our home.
Harrison, born June 28, 1840, died early in 1921, married Cynthia Smalley, was a captain in the Union army, serving through the entire war. He and father are buried side by side at Pleasant Hill, Illinois.
William, born Jan. 30, 1843, died in 1897, married Mina Ferguson. He was a soldier in the Union army and served during the war.
Lucinda Jane, born May 31, 1845, married Samuel Eyerly, died May 28, 1905.
Arabelle, born Oct. 3, 1848, married a man named Hershner, died August 23, 1924.
Louise, born June 22, 1850, married a man named Pollock, died in 1923.
Charles A., born May 12, 1852, died in infancy.
After the death of Eleanor, my grandmother, in 1852, grandfather married again to Sarah E. McCown, and to this union five children were born: Joseph and Oliver, and three sons who died in infancy.
George Lawrence, my father, married Lucretia Montgomery. To them eight children were born;
Charles Smith, born Sept. 6, 1852, wife Marcela, died in 1915 leaving no children.
William Preston, born Apr 1, 1854, married Anna Bishop, sister to John Bishop. To them three girls were born, Clara, Leona and Morgia.
Jane Ellen, born Apr. 28, 1857, died Apr. 28, 1924. Married John Bishop. To them were born Angie L., Lena Leoti, Lucretia, John, Inez, and Lawrence.
Martha Elizabeth who married Sam Crumbaker to whom were born: Myrtle, Melvin, Mabel, Marion, Milton (Dyke), Bert, Margaret, William, Paul, Ruth, and Beulah.
John Creig, the writer, who married Jessie Rogers. To them were born four children: Zola Lucretia, Bessie Angeline, Hugh Montgomery and Perry William Columbus.
Perry Wilson, born Aug. 28, 1863 who married Katie Eslick. They have no children.
James Crawford who died in infancy.
George Harrison, born Oct. 6, 1868, married Mary Smith to whom Lela was born. After divorcing Mary he married again without issue.
This completes the history of the Lawrence family as far as it need be given here. I am preparing a list of the descendants of John and Catherine Lawrence of whom there are several hundred whose names I have secured and if circumstances are favorable I hope to publish a book giving the history of the Lawrence family.
My grandfather married Eleanor Bailey in Winchester, Ohio, in about 1828. I was told a few years ago by Crawford Bailey that this was the second intermarriage between the Lawrence and Bailey family. I know nothing of the first intermarriage. The Fentons had moved into Ohio after leaving Pennsylvania. Rossannah Lawrence, daughter of the first John Lawrence, had married Jeremiah Fenton, founding the Fenton family of whom I have the history. In the next generation her niece, known as Polly Lawrence, married another Fenton, (Jesse), so these two families became closer related. Both Rosannah and Polly Fenton are buried in the cemetery at Winchester, where I visited their graves in 1911.
My grandfather in visiting his relatives, the Fentons, became acquainted with the Baileys and so married Eleanor Bailey. As the Fentons were proud of their Lawrence relationship, so I am proud of our Bailey relationship. They were splendid people in every way, of original Welsh stock, Samuel Bailey, the first of the family in America having come from Wales. All the Baileys I have known were physically large. I had supposed the fact that my brothers and sisters were larger than the earlier Lawrences as I knew of them, my grandfather particularly, was due to the Bailey blood. All the Baileys I have known, a score or so, were over six feet tall, both men and women. But on a visit to Winchester, Ohio, I met two very old men, a Mr. Smith and Lou Bailey, both past ninety who had known my great grandfather, John Lawrence, when he came to visit his daughter, Polly Fenton. They both said I very much resembled him in size and looks, and particularly in voice.
I was then and am now well over two hundred pounds in weight, five feet eight and three-quarters inches in height and of a ruddy complexion, red-faced to be plain about it. I told them I was surprised as I supposed my grandfather’s people were rather slender and dark. Grandfather was about five feet nine or ten and weighed about one hundred fifty to sixty pounds. These men said he took after his mother, a Wanee. So, after all, it seems my family came by their size from the Lawrence as well as the Bailey side and mother’s side as well. My father was about five feet ten inches and weighed about 160 pounds. Mother about five feet five and weighed about the same as my father. I have always been told I very much resembled her. My oldest brother, Charley, was about five feet ten inches and weighed at the most about 240. Willie, the next is about five feet eleven and one half inches and weighed as much as 260. My sister Janey is about five feet four and I suppose she has weighed closed to 200 pounds. Sister Martha is a little taller and must have weighed 180 to 190 when in her best health. I have given my own size. Perry, next youngest, is about five feet 10 ½ and has weighed as high as 230. My greatest weight was about 220. Harry, the youngest is about 5 feet 10 and has weighed close to 200 pounds. Another brother, Jimmy, next to Perry, died in infancy.
Going back to the place of my birth, my parents sold the farm in the spring of 1863 and moved to Kosciusko County, Indiana, near Warsaw. I remember as before stated the ditch at the place of birth and events before our removal, so that my memory goes back almost to my second year. Thereafter the events stand out more distinctly. In Indiana that spring the mosquitoes were plentiful. I remember going with mother to milk and they bit so much I started to the house. On the way they treed me, or stumped me, as mother found me on top of a stump, crying at the top of my voice for Ohio where there were “no skeeters.” I remember this very distinctly. At the same time I know how easy it is to become mixed as to facts of one’s own memory and what others told. Even facts become strangely perverted. I know my own girls, Zola and Bessie once made a trip on bicycles. On a steep hill one of the bicycles got beyond control and there was a hard fall. Both girls remember the event distinctly. Zola remembers it was she who fell and Bessie remembers just as distinctly that she fell. I am sure I remember the incident of being stumped by the mosquitoes. I remember about the same time kicking a strange dog which had picked up a bone in the yard. I carry the marks of his teeth on my foot yet as I was barefoot and he sunk his teeth deep in my foot.
Another event I remember clearly is the birth of brother Perry, August 28, 1863. The date of course I do not remember. Janey, Martha and I had gone to a neighbors for the night. As we returned home the next morning just as we were climbing through a set of bars we were met by the neighbor who told us there was a little baby at the house. We ran and as we reached mother’s room she held up the baby for us to see.
In the fall of 1864 father sold out for the purpose of going to Nebraska. His brother John had gone west a few years before, in the late fifties. He was a teamster from Omaha to Denver, taking a homestead or preemption on the Blue River. Owing to sickness he returned to Ohio. His father had married again after his mother’s death which was the cause of his leaving home in the first place. The stepmother was not kind to him on his return, so he came to our home. It was consumption and realizing he could not recover he gave father the land to care for him. So after his death and burial at Etna Green father sold out to go to the land, where the town or city of Beatrice, Nebraska now stands. We first went back for a visit to grandfather’s going by train. It was my first ride on a train. At one station I saw father on the platform as the train pulled out and was frantic with fear that we were leaving him. When he came into the car as the train moved away smiling I could not understand how he got on the train. I remember he wore a tall silk or beaver hat. It was called a plug hat.
When we reached Mansfield it was pouring down rain. Grandfather met us in a spring wagon. A hack we would call it in the west. I can remember the slanting rain drops and the ride to the farm nearly eight miles, and the gate where we turned into the barn yard. Then, during the visit, with my half uncles Joe and Oliver, playing around the barn with a wheel-barrow. Of a yellow jacket’s nest, or bees, I am not sure which. Of the taking of a family group at Mansfield, a picture of which I have an enlarged copy. Perry was too young to keep still. They had trouble with me. Finally the photographer told me if I would keep still a mouse would run over the floor and a little bird would fly across the room. I kept still. He must have had a mouse in a trap for one did run across the floor. But no bird flew so I remembered him for long years as a story teller.
Father bought a team of white mares, Bet and Doll, and a wagon on which he put a cover and we started for the long drive to Nebraska. Mother’s brother, James had gone on to prepare for us. The first night, as I remember, we stayed with John Creig for whom I was named. He was either a close friend or a distant relative. Of course the name John had come down to me from my grandfather’s grandfather as well as his father. Father and mother each had a brother John. But it was from John Creig I got my full Christian name.
Next morning as we started away he carried me in his arms and put me up in the spring seat in front. He gave me a silver dollar as I sat there which I held in my hand until father came when I gave it to him. I never saw it afterward.
We stopped in Indiana to visit John Montgomery, mother’s uncle. He lived about two miles from Sugar Grove, which is about 25 miles north of Crawfordville.
I remember passing along a canal and seeing the canal boats. I was very much interested in seeing how the canal crossed a river. I do not know what canal or what river, only I remember it distinctly.
I suppose it was in October of 1864 we reached Croff Bailey’s place near Pleasant Hill, in McClean County, Illinois. Croff was a first cousin to father and we stopped for a visit. Soon after we children took the whooping cough. Winter was at hand and going on to Nebraska seemed unsafe, so father and mother concluded to stay over winter.
This decision changed the whole course of our lives. Uncle Jim Montgomery, who had gone onto Nebraska became disgusted and returned to Indiana. We never saw him again. He died some ten years later. Father had about three thousand dollars in cash and Croff advised him to invest it in corn which he did. He paid fifty cents a bushel on the cob and during the winter a good deal of it was spoiled by the weather and by rats. In the spring, the war drawing to a close, corn dropped to twenty-five cents a bushel. The loss was a serious one to us from which father never recovered.
We spent the winter in the little town of Pleasant Hill. The post-office was named Selma. Here we formed a number of acquaintances, among them George S. Rogers and family, Tom, Jim, Hugh, Matt, and Jessie who later became my wife. The friendship then formed remained through life.
In the spring we moved about three miles east of town to what was later known as the Crumbaker place, where we lived a year, farming. Soon after we moved out I saw a wagon loaded with lumber drive into a field across the road from the house but a short distance away. With childish curiosity (I was then four) I went to inquire what they were going to do. A boy of about ten, Sam W. Crumbaker, who later married my sister Martha, told me they were going to build a school house which they did. Charles Kennedy was the carpenter. I watched the building very carefully.
When the house was completed a Miss Fannie Freshcorn was employed as teacher. She offered as a prize in the class of beginners to the one who would first learn the alphabet the privilege of carrying her watch. I won the prize. Martha and Joanna Crumbaker were in the class. I was very proud but she allowed me to carry the watch only a few minutes.
The seats were mere benches placed around the walls of the room. It was hard for me to sit still then as it has been all through my life. So I changed about. The teacher put me under her desk and I made faces at her. Then she put me on the floor and put her feet on me. She could not hold that position long so I was finally tied up with a string.
Jonas Crumbaker ran around the room making a noise like a frog. I caught a look at his tongue and asked him to stand still so I could see his tongue go. It looked very funny.
Worms covered the ground that spring, thousand legged worms, we called them. I suppose they were army worms. You could not walk in the road without stepping on them. It was horrible to a barefoot boy. The worms were destructive to crops.
Davey Smalley, an uncle to Cynthia Smalley, who later married Uncle Harry, father’s brother, came to our home one day and took me up on his lap. Picking up the first reader and pointing to a picture he asked me if I could spell cow. “Yes,” I answered proudly, “o x, cow.” But the picture and the name were not quite the same.
That was the spring the war ended. I remember one day hearing the sound of a booming cannon. Father was in town and mother was anxious to learn the news. I can yet see the smile on his face as he climbed over the fence from the field he had crossed when he answered mother’s questions as to why they were firing the cannon. “The war is over,” was his reply.
I think I remember the death of Lincoln but am not so sure. While my people were thoroughly union and republicans I can remember hearing them say, “Lincoln was good but not a great man.” How time has changed that judgment! Lincoln’s greatness in popular esteem has increased with the passing years until in all the world today he is looked upon as one of the greatest men in history.
During the summer of 1865 my father and George S. Rogers went on a trip to Missouri and Nebraska. Each put a horse in a team hitched to our wagon. They were looking for a new location in the farther west. While they were gone mother wrote a letter to father’s sister Belle in Ohio. More than forty years later, while on a visit to Ohio, Aunt Belle gave me this letter which is one of my prized possessions. In it she said:
September 9th, 1865
Dear Sister Bell: After a long delay I at last sit down to answer your kind letter that I received weeks ago. I thought I would wait until George would come home but he has not come yet. But he will be at home in two or three days and then he will write to Harrison. He has been gone almost 9 weeks. We have had a lonesome time of it since George has been gone and Martha, Johny, Perry and myself have all had the chills. I don’t want to stay here any longer than we can get ready to go. I don’t know where we will move to. George has not wrote anything favorable of the west and I don’t believe he has much notion of moving west this fall. He has been gone so long that it will make it late before we can get started. Well, Bell, I hardly known what to write to you that would be interesting. I feel so homesick and bad I cant hardly think of anything pleasant any more. We have never bought a cow since we have been here so we have no milk or butter only as we buy it. We have plenty of good potatoes, tomato, squashes, green corn, cabbage and some melons and a nice patch of cane and will have some molasses made as soon as George gets home but I long so much for good apples and cant get any. There is apples here but you can hardly get any for love or money. I tell you, Bell, I am sick of the west but we will have to make the best of a bad bargain and do the best we can.
Tell Cinda when her and her fellow marries she must send us a piece of her wedding cake.
Tell Harry that cousin Croff says if he was here in corn cutting time he could make five dollars a day cutting up corn.
Well, I will bring this poor letter to a close. You must excuse me this time for not writing more and the next time perhaps I will feel more cheerful and will write you a better letter. You must write and tell Cinda to write and we would like to get a letter from Ida too. If Harrison comes out I would like if he could bring us a few dried apples. Now I will close hoping this may fine you all well. No more. Good by.
Lucretia Lawrence to Bell Lawrence
I have copied the letter just as it was written except the punctuation. I followed mother’s spelling to show just how she wrote. She was a wonderfully well informed woman but had gone to school very little. She kept up with the current events of the times and also kept up with our studies.
I think I wrote that she and father grew up in homes within sight of each other and attended the same school at least a part of the time. While we were living in Indiana several months before the date of mother’s letter to Aunt Bell father wrote a letter to his father, which was kept by Aunt Bell and given to me at the same time she gave me mother’s letter. It was as follows:
Butter Nutt Grove
June the 26th, 1864.
Dear Father: I seat myself once more to inform you of our welfare. John is very poorly. He is not able to be up half of his time for the last ten days. His throat is very sore. Last Sunday a week ago he could not swallow water but he is a little better now. John has faded ever since he has come here. He said he caught cold on the road here and the spring being wet and cold was unfavorable for him. Then two or three weeks he seemed to improve but he has taken down with his throat and he is very weak. He says you must not think hard because he has not rote you. He is not able to rite. I still have some hope that he will improve. His doctor thinks he will. He is not taking any medicine now. If he gets worse so that he is confined to his bed all the time I would like that Lucinda would come out and stay with us awhile if you can spare her. I will rite you again if he gets worse.
I got a letter from Lib the other day. She was well. John got one from Hary and Will. They was well. You have no doubt got all the particular of the fight (battle) that Harry was in. Charley is not well. He got a cold some six weeks ago and it has settled on his lungs. He is moping around. He has always bin very hearty til this spring. The wheat looks well and everything else. So no more now but remain you son.
To Charles Lawrence
Rite as soon as you get this if you please.
Uncle John did not live so very long after the letter was written. He is buried at Etna Green. Aunt Lucinda came and spent several weeks, but I do not remember how long.
Mother’s letter shows the longing for her old Ohio home toward which her heart turned and away from that seemingly illimitable west toward which she journeyed and in its farthest part lies buried. I never knew her to be discouraged. Never saw her cry but once. Her face always smiling was an index of her heart. Under burdens seldom put upon any mother she bore herself with unflinching courage. In this letter is the only sign of sorrow I ever found or knew in her life.
On father’s return it was decided to remain over another year, and we remained on the same place. In the later years Mr. Rogers told about seeing General Grant on the return trip. This was almost immediately after the close of the war and three years before Grant’s election as president. He was of course the popular war hero and subject to that attention from the public common to all such great men. Mr. Rogers said his impression of Grant at that time was that he felt tired and bored by the attentions showered on him.
The following winter Mollie Carson taught the school. Many large boys were in attendance, some of them returned soldier boys, one of them Marion Crumbaker. I remember one result of their home coming was an almost universal epidemic of so-called seven year itch.
The winter of 1865 was a very cold one. At least there was one very cold spell in mid-winter. Chickens froze to death on the roost. Some were brought in the house and put upstairs to save their lives. A cow got a rope twisted around her leg shutting off circulation and her leg froze until it came off.
My memory is not so very clear as between the two summers we spent on what became the Crumbaker place. I spoke of Fanny Freschcorn teaching school in the spring and summer of 1865. Mollie Carson taught afterward but I am not sure whether the following winter or the next spring. I remember very distinctly spraining my ankle by jumping off the woodshed roof. I was curious to know the sensation of going through the air. Mother told me not to try it. One morning she was in the garden when I climbed on a fence, then up on the roof. Creeping to the high side (it sloped one way) I looked to see where mother was. She was stooping over gathering some vegetables. I can see her form now in memory as I jumped.
I knew at once what had happened as she had told me it would. For weeks I hopped along on one foot holding to sister Janie’s hand. Some eleven years later in Oregon I again sprained the same ankle by having a pony fall on it. From these two sprains serious consequences followed in the after years.
In the fall of 1866 father built a house on Croff Bailey’s old place near the Mackinaw which is scarcely more than a creek except during a flood period. We moved into this house and passed the winter. Another family, Joe Bowers and wife with one child, lived in a part of the same house. They had one child, a little girl baby. Mother and Mrs. Bowers talking one day spoke of the possibility of our growing up and marrying. It was just the speculation sometimes indulged in and forgotten in the hour. For me it meant much. I looked at the little girl baby dressed in long clothes as my possible future wife and for many years I remembered it as something likely to happen. In ever saw her after her babyhood.
That winter I went to school with the rest of the children at the Henline school. Col and Joe Duling were among the large boys. Sis Williams, who later became Col Duling’s wife, with Ether and Babe went to school and came by our place. I remember Sis holding my hand while we walked along, Jane and Martha being the only two beside myself going from our home. I cannot remember Charley or Willie being in school although I think they attended the previous winter. Johnny Moon and the two sisters, Laura and Viola, also went our way. Lou Henline was the teacher. She used to pick me up in her arms and kiss me which plagued me very much. Charley Bailey and Jim, cousins, lived near by. Jim and Perry came to school one day and it was quite an event. They had run away. Perry sat by me and wiped his nose on my coat sleeve which I thought not very nice.
Brother Jimmy had been born the previous summer, a bright little baby. There was an epidemic of small pox that winter and we were all vaccinated. Dr. Waters of Lexington did the work. Thirty years later I met in him in Lexington, then a very old man. I told him I carried a scar he had made. He said he remembered it, but I told him I thought that would be impossible. To prove it he recited the details of my sitting on mother’s lap while he drew up his chair beside her on Croff’s place. I told him that was just the way it happened. It was a remarkable instance of good memory.
He [George Lawrence] caught cold while sitting up with a sick man in Granby the winter of 1868, and never recovered. Working in the brick yard the next summer in the mud was bad for him. His blood was very much out of order. A sore on his hand would hardly heal at all. Now mother wrote he would not be long alive.
Instead of Uncle Harry coming Croff Bailey was the one. What a powerful man he was, over six feet tall and weighing over two hundred pounds. A giant he seemed beside father who was then shrunken. In a day or two it was arranged for father to go back to Illinois with him. Croff brought out a team and buggy from a livery stable. That seemed a great extravagance. We all stood about the buggy while the good byes were spoken. Croff said, “If we meet no more on earth may we meet in heaven.”
I do not remember individual farewells. Perhaps it was because father was too overcame to speak. We did not cry. At least I do not remember that we did. Croff drove away toward Granby. We stood watching the buggy over the prairie until it disappeared from view, and with it my father.
This must have been about April. We were to follow as soon as possible, but how? That was a serious question
I need not dwell further on the trip. At Louisiana, a town on the Mississippi, where we ferried across, mother sent to the post office where Uncle Harry was to write us. Charley came back with a letter which he handed to mother. As she read we saw the tears come to her eyes. Father was dead. He was buried on the day we started on our trip. What a feeling of desolation came over me. I was an orphan.
At the end of 30 days we reached the vicinity of Pleasant Hill. We passed Jacksonville, Springfield and Lincoln’s tomb. Through Bloomington and now we were nearing Uncle Harry’s. On the banks of Mackinaw, a small stream, we stopped for our last dinner. We bathed and put on clean clothes. I wondered at this for it seemed to me an unnecessary thing to do. Soon afterward we drove up to Uncle Harry’s in Pleasant Hill.
That is a never-to-be-forgotten day. We saw Aunt Cynthia for the first time. That was August first, 1870. Croff’s came in their carriage, a wonderful thing to us. Charley and Jim I had remembered but Lou and Belle had grown into being and Lottie was a long, curly haired baby. I thought her the most beautiful object I had ever seen. They were all kind to us. Shortly afterward we went down to father’s grave not far away. We were at Uncle Harry’s several days, then moved out to the house on Croff’s place which father had built and from which we had started out for Missouri three and a half years (nearly) before.
That winter Martha, Perry and I went to school to Reese Johns. We had been out of school nearly three years and were very bashful. When we reached the school grounds the teacher was out in the yard walking on his hands. That was a wonderful thing for a teacher to do and he captured all the children at once. A teacher who could walk on his hands could do anything. Indeed this teacher could. The first thing was to nickname everyone. I was John the Baptist and Perry was Commodore Perry before the day was over.
It had been arranged that Janey, then thirteen, was to work at Croff’s. That ended her life at home save for an occasional visit. Charley and Willie soon went to cutting corn, followed by shucking.
I was again care free, but never forgot that I was an orphan. We were to move out on the prairie the next spring to some land Aunt Cynthia owned and which she stills owns after more than fifty two years. We were in school until April of 1871 when we moved. Charley and Willie had gone back and forth to the farm.
That winter Jim Rogers brought his mother with Mat and Jessie for a visit. There had been a sleet and all the trees hung in icicles. I went rabbit hunting with Jim. On the trip he said he had a catarrh. I wondered what kind of an animal it was and asked him. He said it was in his nose and I thought that was stranger yet. After dinner we all went down to the scales and weighed. I weighed 49 pounds and was just about at my tenth birthday. After playing awhile longer Jessie wanted to go and weigh again. I thought that funny as we had just weighed, but she said it might be different next time. Mrs. Rogers smoked a pipe but we had remembered that.
There were many of the same scholars in school that winter as the winter of 1866 when I had gone to school there before. The district was the same but a new school house had been built on the road, a short distance east of our house instead of so much further away across the field on the north and south road.
Ether Williams, Ethel and Elzena, called Babe, were there. We had gone to school with Ether and Sis before. That fall I had tagged after Ether all over the timber of Mackinaw, hunting squirrels, climbing trees after birds and flying squirrels which only sailed down by spreading their feet which had a connecting web so as to give them a gliding motion through the air. We were inseparable, while he was several years older than I. He was my champion in school. No larger boy could impose on me. All feared Ether, not that he fought but he was quick and strong and could wrestle and run and they knew he would fight, so they let him alone. All of this accounts for our friendship in the later years and when nearly forty years later he met his tragic death it drew from me the unavailing tear.
Col. Duling and Joe were again in school as before, coming with Belle and Joey Spahr with whose people they lived. Col. and Sis were always regarded as lovers, as they were and remained for all the after years. Neither kept the company of any other. A few years later they were married and not until nearly fifty years later when she died so suddenly as she prayed in church were they separated. Theirs was an ideal wooing and mating.
Three of the Henline boys were in school. Stag was one, Robert, about my age, another, and I think Henry. Three named Smith, children of the widow Smith. Charley, Jim, and Lou Bailey. Three of the Big Dick Williams children and two of Bechtels, Jim and Iona. There were others, Sally Fariss and Josie, the Shepherd girls, the Grimsley boys, others whose names do not occur at this writing. Hale Johns, a brother to the teacher, and a half brother whose name is gone from my memory. There were about forty in all and Reese Johns was a most excellent teacher.
I went into McGuffeys Third reader and Rays Primary arithmetic which I completed that winter. Learned the multiplication table which was easy. Had a little trouble with the 9’s and 12’s but none with the rest. Johns was partial to me as were nearly all my teachers. I listened to all the other recitations, so gained a smattering in advance. I was very small for my age and he would frequently turn from a class of grown young people who could not answer a question in class and ask me. Strange to say I usually had an answer ready, being a listener, and made some astonishingly correct answers, some by the hazard of a guess.
We moved out on the prairie five miles east of Lexington on a half section of land left Aunt Cynthia by her father, Samuel Smalley. We always knew it as Uncle Harry’s place. He built a two room box house, a mere shanty, in which we lived for five years. I n 1875 we built on a shed on the south side which we used as a kitchen. About a hundred yards directly south he built a stable for the horses which was covered with straw. The stable was about 10 feet wide and 60 feet long, with an opening just above the manger where two boards were off the side wall. We could look in from the house and see the horses eating. As they afterward stood the horses and mules were named Jack and John, a large team belonging to Uncle Harry which we afterward bought, Jack and Gin, a span of mules, Fan and Dick, a blind mare and a young horse which, as a colt 2 years old, we brought from Missouri, and Little John, a mule colt foaled by one of the mares. Tobe we drove from Missouri. Tobe died that spring when the mule colt was a few weeks old. When it was old enough to work we bought a mate from John McCullough and named it Cully, an abbreviation of the name of its former owner. I worked these mules two years and learned many lesson from them. One was that you have to be smarter than a mule to work it.
Sixty acres of this land had been plowed the year before. The rest was in sod, the most of it a blue grass and wild grass mixture. In the lower lands or sloughs it was a very coarse and worthless grass we called slough grass. It answered for a top covering over the straw on the stable and to top out a stack of hay to help shed the rain. Stock would not eat it, while it had luxuriant growth as high as a man’s head. The wild prairie grass grew only about a foot high and made excellent hay.
Charley and I put the 60 acres of old land, as we called it, in corn that year. It was my first experience in farm work. I was very small for my age. The work was tiresome with the long hours. There were no play days except the Fourth of July and one day for a picnic. Uncle Harry drove the two horse planter, working a team named Brownie and Pet. The mule team, Jack and Gin, we bought the next year. Charley worked Fan, the blind mare we bough of little Dick Williams, and Dick the colt which we broke that spring. I worked Uncle Harry’s mares. Willie worked Jack and John the big team and broke sod all spring. In fact, except one slough which was then too wet to farm, Willie in the next two years, broke out all the sod until all the land was under cultivation. I said there was a half section. I should have said 240 acres.
After the corn was planted I worked the team harrowing sod. I rode Pet as it was hard walking over the sod. I rode bareback with the harness on, not very comfortable. In turning the horses would sometimes turn too quick and upset the harrow, hinged in the middle. It was too heavy for me to turn back and I had to call for help. Sometimes I was too far away to be heard. Then I would become vexed and cry in anger as much as anything else. When the corn was high enough to plow then we both worked with small double shovel plows with two coupled together by means of two pieces of wood, one above the other fastened loosely to the handles of the plow. The plows were so made that on one, the left shovel was in front of the right, and vice versa on the other, so that when coupled together the front shovels were next to the row of corn.
I used this plow for three years, while Charley the second year bought a riding cultivator. He used it, however, without a seat but the plows were held in place by the frame while with the old fashioned double shovels, four handles in all, two of which were held in the hands, one in each hand, they had to be held in balance all the time to keep them from falling over. It was very hard work for a boy like me to use such plows. During the third year I hurried out to the field on day and hitched to Charley’s plow. When he came out from dinner I was half way across the field. When he came up and saw what I had done he turned around and went to town and bought a riding cultivator. Not to be outdone I rigged a board on mine with a cushion on one end and rode astride. It beat walking and it seemed to be a fair world after all to allow me such an easy task.
We were through cultivating the corn by the Fourth of July. Then we went to haying. The prairie grass where the sod was unbroken was cut with a mower and raked in windrows by a wooden rake pulled by Fan, the blind mare. I rode her while Charley held to the rake handles, dumping it as desired. I remember we ran into a bumble bee’s nest. Charley ran but I did not dare leave the poor blind mare, frantic with bee stings, while I was stung in the face until my eyes swelled shut. That did not stop me from work, however, but I was let off one day to go to a picnic at Sulphur Springs on the Mackinaw. I walked. It was a hot day and the dust was so hot it burned my feet. We all went barefoot in summer, men, women, and children. I would hunt for grass to step on as it was cool. But the grass was on rough ground while the dust in the road was smooth. So it was hard choice between the smooth hot dust in the road and the cooler grass on the rough ground. Boy-like, and possibly man-like too, I would walk in the road until my feet were burning, then go on the grass until my feet got hurt, then back into the dusty road again. I suppose it was about five miles to the picnic ground, a ten mile walk in all.
I cut corn for fodder but was too small to do much that year. I shucked by taking the row which the wagon straddled which we called the down row while Charley and Willie would each husk two rows by the side of the wagon. While presumably I husked only half as much as either I had to stoop to pick up the corn knocked over by the wagon and no man would take the one row under the wagon in preference to two rows of standing corn by the side of the wagon.
I spent five years on the farm in Illinois, going to school about three months in the winter and working as only those who raised corn in Illinois during such years know anything about. They were years of drudgery to me. The only relief was the 4th of July holiday and one picnic day until the beginning of school. That was the beginning of a happy time. The saddest day was the last day of school.
This school was in the Crumbaker district and the school house I had watched Charley Kennedy build in the spring of 1865. Mr. Crumbaker afterward bought the place on which we then lived and the school district has since been called by his name.
William Stickler, who afterward married Maria Crumbaker, taught here for five winters, the last four of which we were in school, Martha, Perry and I. Charley and Willie had not gone to school since we moved to Missouri, and Janey had gone to Croff Bailey’s on our return from Missouri, so was not again at home. She married John Bishop at Croff’s place.
Mr. Stickler was a remarkably good teacher and very thorough in his work. The school was a small one and there were few changes in the scholars. I think I can name all of them. The Crumbaker family had the largest quota, as all of their children, ten in number, attended this school at the different periods in their growth, but not all of them at any one time. During the five years we were on the farm there, the last of which John Crumbaker taught, those in school were: Sam, Jonas, Joanna, Maggie and Alice Crumbaker, Frank and Ella Hiser and Billie Hiser, a cousin who lived at the William Kennedy home. Jimmy Ogden, Eddie Costello, who died in the summer of 1873. Mike and Biddy Maloney at whose home Eddie Costello lived. Frank, Lucretia and Hannah Foreman, Sam Piper, a cousin to the Crumbakers, Maggie Belyeu. Frank Kennedy and Mandy Lane who lived at Charley Kennedy’s. Not all of these went to school all the time as the Foreman’s and Charley Kennedy’s moved away and Maloney’s moved away in the fall of 1874.
Eddie Costello suffered from chronic phthisic which developed into tuberculosis, then called consumption from which he died. He was a remarkably fine boy, precocious in his studies, dying at the age of about fifteen. During the winter of 1871 he printed on the blackboard at the rear of the school room, in chalk with shaded letters the motto of the school:
OUR RULE, DO RIGHT
This motto remained on the board nearly five years, revered by all from the fact Eddie wrote it, and it was as nearly the rule of conduct in right living as scholars of any school I have ever known.
Marion Crumbaker was in college and his text books as fast as completed were sent home. They then came into our school and while not in our course of study classes recited in them and I always listened to the recitations of every class in school. In fact my advancement in the various studies of so much use in after years was due to the habit of listening to the recitations while studying my own lessons.
In this way, and by special lessons I had a course in ancient history as well as modern history, zoology, or natural history, physics or natural philosophy as we then called it and botany. This was of course in addition to our regular studies, which were not in a graded course. We were allowed a “go as you please” gait, but recited in classes.
Especial attention was given to reading and arithmetic. One paragraph and sometimes one sentence constituted a recitation period. I can without fear say that all the advanced scholars became good readers. The McGuffey readers were used and this method of teaching fixed the lessons in the memory so that I can given the substance of nearly all of them today, if the title is given and repeat most of the poems.
Jonas Crumbaker, Joanna and I were in the same class in arithmetic. Jonas and I were together in all our studies. I completed Rays Practical Arithmetic the winter of ’71 and in the following years reviewed it and took the higher course.
There were few if any public schools in Illinois then or since, especially in the county, with such an advanced course of study. Much of whatever success I have had in the educational work in which I engaged in the later years was due to this country school and to the methods and teaching of William Stickler.
It may be interesting to a later generation to tell of the games we played in school at recess and noon.
Blackman was the general sport for boys and girls played in the school yard. There were two lines, or home bases, on each side of the yard. One player would be selected as the blackman who would take a station on one side while the remainder to a station at the other base, facing. The one selected as blackman would call out, “What will you do when you see the blackman coming?” All would answer, “Run right through.” As they ran to the other base the blackman would catch as many as he could and patting them on the back would say, “One, two, three for you.” In this way the one caught became a blackman and then each would call out as before. When all the opposing side were caught the game would be ended and the first one caught would become blackman in a new game.
The boys would play blackman around the school house, having one home base. Any one caught off the home base was captured. When all were caught a new game would begin.
We played “base” in much the same way in the open yard. There could be as many bases as desired, a block of wood or piece of board constituting the base. Each player could have a base. Anyone caught off a base was captured and then belonged to the base of the captor. This game was generally called gool. This was a corruption of the word goal, I think.
In playing ball we had a variety of games. Two could play “tip up” which was to knock the ball straight up with a paddle. The one who caught it took the paddle. To play cat, one tossed the ball, one was at bat and another caught. This was “one old cat.” Where there were a number to play with three bases to make, it was called “Town ball” and played something like baseball, choosing up for sides.
We played “mumble peg” with our pocket knives, also a game called “jacks” with five pebbles. This was done by throwing up all five or more from the palm and catching on the back of the hand.
“Tag” is almost universal and was played at close of school.
The indoor games were few as we played outside almost regardless of the weather. Sometimes the indoor game took on the form of the Virginia reel which was called a dance and that was a horrible sin. I never went to a dance in my life to take a part and very few times even saw dancing.
Card playing was banned at our home, but we liked to play authors and such harmless games as could be played without the regular playing cards.
The summer of 1875 was one of the wettest known up to that time in McLean county, IL. The wet season commenced July 16, 1875. Up to that time the crops had grown as usual. The corn was just tasseling out, being about six feet high. We had finished haying and begun reaping the spring grain. In fact all the grain was spring sown. Wheat was grown very little. We had seeded rye that year. A small field south of the house, a quarter of a mile away. We were harvesting there on July 16 of that year. In the early afternoon we saw what we called thunder clouds gathering in the northeast and in the northwest, two separate clouds, piled high and dark. For an hour or so they seemed to be standing still. We watched them closely as we did all such clouds in summer while at work in the field. They would swing overhead surprisingly quick at times. Often when such a cloud seemed approaching we would risk going around the field once more and sometimes after starting realize our mistake. Then to save being drenched with the rain we would unhitch and make for the house on the run, riding one of the horses, of course.
On this occasion the clouds hung so motionless it was hard to tell which way they were moving. Finally it became apparent both clouds were moving toward us. All clouds that were accompanied by thunder were called thunder clouds, and nearly all rain clouds in summer were thunder clouds. The exception was a general rain when the sky would be filled with low hung clouds.
As soon as we realized these clouds were approaching the span of mules hitched to the reaper, one that we called a self rake, were unhitched and put to the wagon which had been used for riding to the field. Willie was driving the mules. Uncle Harry, Charley, Perry and I were binding. The clouds came on with surprising quickness. The first drops fell as the wagon started, the mules on a run. By the time we had gone a hundred yards the full force of the rain was on which we almost directly faced. The mules slowed to a walk. In the fraction of a minute we were all wet to the skin. Boylike, Perry and I jumped from the wagon and started to run, thinking we could outrun the team. The rainfall was so heavy it seemed like the water came down in sheets. I strangled, and held my hands over my nose as a protection against breathing the water. My pants were so heavy with the water they slipped down. I never wore suspenders at this time of my life. So I was compelled to hold up my pants with one hand and hold the other over my nose to shed off the water. Before I reached the house the water was ankle deep. The “shower” lasted only a few minutes.
A tub in the yard, empty before, was half filled when the rain was over. Some half grown chickens were drowned as well as a number of young turkeys. You could have seen a dog anywhere in any of the corn fields. The house stood in the center of 160 acres of corn. The wind, the weight of the water and the softened ground combined and the fields which had been so fine with the tasseling corn looked like a roller had passed over. The corn never straightened up. Rain after rain came for several weeks. The field of rye was under water and the reaper barely in sight. It seemed the beginning of a deluge.
We had been discouraged before and this seemed a catastrophe. Little of the rye was saved, although Perry and I waded in and packed the bundles out to higher ground. At intervals harvesting was renewed. The reapers were run in the grain only on e way, so as to pick it up, as the grain lay flat. There was no pretence of binding. In fact the reapers were discarded and a mowing machine used.
A neighbor named Phil Johnson came with his mower. The ground was so soft that the traction was not enough to turn the wheel to drive the sickle if the driver rode. The machine often mired down, the wheels dragging like sled runners. The grain would cling to the sickle bar. Phil while walking behind would step on the grain which was dragging so as to break it loose from the bar. Once he lost his balance and stumbled, stepping across the sickle bar. Fortunately the horses stopped at a word but the sickle had cut his ankle half off.
“Dick” claimed by me, was ridden to Lexington by Billie Smith in record time for a doctor. Uncle Harry fainted at the sight of the blood. This seemed strange to us for he had gone through four years of a bloody war and was himself wounded.
As I said, we were discouraged, and a remark father once made of wishing himself in Washington territory was recalled. By chance, we came across the Oregon Farmer, published in Salem, Oregon. We wrote to a woman who had an article about the country in this paper. Soon we had the Oregon fever. Mother thought with her family of boys there would be better opportunities in the growing west as land owners than in Illinois as renters. She determined to let one of the boys go ahead to spy out the land. At once a dispute came up between Charley and Willie as to which should go. Charley claimed the right as the older and Willie contended that in that wild country the best shot should go and that he was the one. Charley finally agreed to a test of marksmanship with both rifle and shotgun. He lost out of course. We all knew that and felt it was for the best.
So on Nov. 16, 1875 Willie started for Oregon. Dell Bishop went along and John McCullough went as far as California. That morning I took Willie to John Bishop’s, a mile toward town, in a wagon with his heavy valise and two guns, a rifle and a shotgun. The ground was frozen hard and the wagon rattled until it could be heard a mile. They left from John Bishop’s, going to McCullough’s. I turned back to shuck corn as John took them on to town.
We had a hard task gathering the corn which was so nearly flat on the ground and the ground so soft. It was an open rainy winter. While only fifteen I was practically the head of the family. Charley was very fleshy. He weighed nearly 240 pounds at this time.
Willie wrote back encouragingly and it was only a question of how soon we could follow. We gathered and sold the corn and on February 16, 1876 had a public sale of everything we owned except our clothing. The day of the sale was cold and stormy. People kept by the fire in the house while bargain sales were going on. In desperation I climbed up and put a board over the chimney. It soon smoked them out.
On March 22 we were all ready and took the train at Lexington for Bloomington where we were to get our tickets to San Francisco. Dave McCullough and John Cohagen went with us, our own family and John Bishop who had married my sister Janey.
In the last days of March I drove with Will Black for a companion to Cheney, then the county seat of Spokane county, where I obtained a license to marry Jessie M. Rogers. This as I found a few years ago, was one of the early licenses issued, #169 as I remember, and in the score or so of volumes of marriage licenses, this is recorded in the first volume near the beginning.. Father Eells was then in charge of the Congregational church in Cheney. I saw him and arranged to have him perform the marriage ceremony, as I felt I would be proud to say he married us. But very naturally the folks wanted us to be married at her home and we were married just after breakfast Monday morning, April 2, 1883, starting at once on the return to Garfield.
We reached Hugh Rogers’ home on Dry Creek next day, and the next day Garfield became our home. Here we lived through the prime of our lives, for nearly forty years. Of course there were absences, some of them for many years. But Garfield was held to be our home and we were identified with its interests actively for a period of more than thirty-five years. Even after that time, when we disposed of every piece of property in Garfield or vicinity, its memories seemed hallowed to us.
Perhaps I might as well here give some of the facts as to our courtship in view of the events of later years. When word came to the Palouse country that George S. Rogers and family were coming, I told Dell Bishop I would marry Jessie. “Better wait and see if she will have you,” was his answer. I told him there was no doubt as to that for I knew she was to become my wife.
Perry was born at Waterville a year and a half later, October 21, 1892, the anniversary of the discovery of America. On this account and to distinguish him from his Uncle Perry in the after years we put the Columbus in his name.
Zola was named after Zoula Chase and my mother, Zoula Lucretia. In later years we dropped the u. Bessie was named by Jessie, and the name selected because she liked it, after no one in particular. The Angeline was after the second of her grandmother Rogers’ name. Hugh was named by both of us, after his two uncles, his mother’s brother, Hugh Montgomery Rogers, and mother’s brothers who were named Montgomery. Perry was named in the same way after two of my brothers, with Columbus added for good measure, for the reasons stated.
In the spring of 1896 Jonas Crumbaker and I made a trip to the old home in Illinois. This was after an absence of 20 years. That then seemed a very long time, but 27 years have passed since then. I was surprised at how well the people there remembered me. Mr. Crumbaker knew me at once, but did not know his own son. I had supposed few outside of our immediate neighbors and Uncle Harry’s would even remember me, a boy of a large family of poor people. The two incidents in this respect which most surprised me were with Roy Fariss and Dr. Waters. The former I had not seen or he had not seen me as far as I knew since I was ten years old. When he remembered me I thought he confused me with Charley or Willie. “Oh, no,” he said. “I remember you. Why I often went to Reese John’s school Friday afternoon to hear you speak.”
I have before mentioned the fact that Dr. Waters remembered vaccinating me when a child.
It had seemed an age since I left Illinois as a boy. A much longer period has passed since that time, so that the 20 years I counted then seem short. On my return I stopped in Nebraska to visit Croff Bailey’s. [William Crawford Bailey] They were not at home when I reached there except the young boys who of course did not know me. It seemed so unreal to be at Croff Bailey’s and a stranger. Margie came first. We were at supper when Croff came, with his usual bluster. They called out to him to see who was there. As he came into the dining room I met him and can hardly explain the disappointment when he hesitated to call my name. Turning me around and looking a long time he finally said, “It is George Lawrence’s boy and I think Johnnie.” So he knew me.
We went to Bloomington, Ill., where we changed cars for Lexington, our old home town. We went out to Uncle Harry’s at Pleasant Hill, Jessie’s old home. This was the realization of a dream to her. Uncle Harry’s home was just across the street from her father’s old home. Aunt Cynthia was one of her closest women friends. Much older, of course. Jessie often related a silent rebuke given her by Aunt Cynthia once when she took the largest piece of pie. She said she could never forget the look in Aunt Cynthia’s eyes and could never thereafter take the best of anything. If she was ever really selfish, which I cannot believe except for her own statement, certainly never was a cure more complete. In the course of nearly forty years we lived together I never knew her to be guilty of one selfish act.
We spent nearly two weeks visiting old friends. I had seen some of them only two years before, but many for the first time since leaving Illinois 22 years before.
We went out to Mr. Crumbaker’s, who seemed like our own folks to each of us. I had missed seeing Maggie two years before when she was on her way back from Nebraska at the time I left. She and Marion’s wife, who was visiting there, were over to visit Joanna. We drove down the road to meet them. When they saw each other for the first time after a separation of 18 years Jessie and Maggie jumped from the buggies and ran together for the fond embrace. They were girl chums and Maggie was my schoolmate. Jessie laughed when Maggie asked her if she could kiss her husband.
It was a wonderful two weeks for Jessie, as she renewed the childhood acquaintances. She had often complained of a poor memory and especially of her childhood days. But I never saw her fail to recognize an old acquaintance or to call them by name. Nor did she ever fail to remember the incidents told by others.
We spent the Fourth of July at a celebration in Lexington and a few days later we had our pictures taken with Maggie at Merrill’s old gallery in Lexington. I remembered the gallery so well as we had all gone there to have our pictures taken before leaving for Oregon over twenty two years before. Twenty-two years then seemed a long time but it has lengthened to forty-eight years at this writing.
Uncle Harry [Harrison Lawrence] again came out on a visit in the fall and took a hunt down on the Pend Oreille, an experience he repeated a number of times. The next year Aunt Cynthia and Nellie came out and spent a large part of the summer and fall with us. He was seeking health as well as enjoying the trip and a deer hunt in the late fall.
Two years have passed away since then. [The death of Jessie Rogers Lawrence in 1920] After the first burst of grief had passed I made up my mind to live my life on out to the end. This means that I am not to retire from active business while capable of doing it. Not to quit the activities of life as long as life lasts. Not to regard the chapter of life closed until the end. Not to look back with any vain regrets at whatever of failure there may have been, but to press forward in the work given me to do, whatever that may be.
I remarried, a school mate and Jessie’s girl chum, Maggie Crumbaker, who had married Henry Wilson and was left a widow.
How long it may be given me to live is no matter. I will live each day as though the future called me to new deeds and greater heights to be gained, both here and hereafter