Aletta (Teeple) Pennoyer
Mrs. Henry Pennoyer’s Story
Chapter 1 ( Pages 1 thru 10 )
Aletta (Teeple) Pennoyer’s Story
Mrs. Henry Pennoyer
My father, Peter Teeple, son of William and Rachel Teeple, was born in New Jersey, Sept 8th, 1797. He was the eldest of nine children. When he was about ten years old his father, with his family, moved to Seneca Co., New York and made a home there.
My mother, Sarah Losee, daughter of James and Jane Losee, was born July 7, 1808, in the state of Jew Jersey. They also, moved from thence, and settled in Seneca Co., New York.
My mother’s father, James Losee, was only one of thousands who went in the wilderness and in time made beautiful homes. They raised flax, and spun and wove all their linen cloth, and from their sheep they made all their woolen goods.
Grandpa Losee had nine children as follows: Joseph, Hannah, William, Charles, James Jr., Sarah (my mother), Ann, Emeline and Esquire, the youngest. In the year 1814 grandpa Losee was killed by a team running away and throwing him on the rocks by the roadside.
Grandma Losee was left with six small children and two grown up boys, and her eldest daughter, Hannah, was married to Jackson Freeman. Grandma went on with farming and must have been a remarkable woman for business, for she built a nice house, a barn and carriage house, and kept up the improvements on the farm, and raised fine horses, and so on.
At the same time grandpa Teeple was improving his condition. The woods had disappeared and in their place was orchards, meadows, and fields of grain. They had raised their large families of children and given them a common school education,. Their names are as follows: Peter, the eldest (my father), Sarah, Nicholas, James, George, Aletta, Mary, William Jr.,, and Harriett, the youngest child, In the year 1825, Peter Teeple was married to Sarah Losee and shortly after, grandpa Teeple contemplated selling his property and going to the Michigan Territory, where land was cheap.
In 1826, Sarah Teeple was married to Lewis Cook, and the same year Mary Teeple was married to Hiram Laraway. On Jan el, 1826, was born to Peter and Sarah Teeple, a daughter, and they named her Jane after her grandma Loose.
In the fall of 1826, grandfather Teeple, with his numerous family, left New York to seek a home in the wilds of Michigan. They brought their household goods and wagons, having a number of teams to bring them, and also drove their cows with them. When they arrived in Detroit, some of their party was sick, and they were detained a few days to rest and locate their land.
They finally settled in Plymouth, Wayne Co. Grandpa Teeple took up a large tract of land and settled his children around him. Log houses were built and a settlement commenced two miles west of Plymouth Corners, where a little village sprang up a few years before they commenced the Teeple settlement.
Hard work, and time, soon did its work in Plymouth for within a few years a great deal of the timber had disappeared and in its place were many nice homes surrounded with thrifty, growing crops, young orchards, and so on.
On November 20th, 1829, born to Peter and Sarah Teeple, a daughter, and they called her Aletta. That was me, who is now your mother. The first recollection I have of our Plymouth home is very pleasant indeed, The wild flowers, the green fields and the old lofty forest trees which appeared to be bowing to each other when the wind blew. I often wonder if the world looked as beautiful to others, in early childhood, as it did to me. The well kept garden on the hillside and mother’s favorite flowers, therein, was one great attraction for me, but the gage was kept closed. I was not allowed to run over the garden and had to content myself by looking through the fence.
I can remember when I was two and a half years old. My aunt Sarah died in the spring of 1832, and my parents took me with them when they went to see her during her lat sickness. I never forgot the appearance of the room, nor the pale emaciated face of my aunt lying on a neatly curtained bed near the fireplace and two little children playing about the hearth. George and Lima, who were left motherless within a few days after. Grandma Teeple took the little girl, Lima, and brought her up as her own. Uncle Lewis Cook married again and dept his son George with him.
In June 1832, uncle George was married to Samanthy Cook. Also uncle James Teeple was married to Sarah Davis. They settled in the neighborhood and commenced their struggles to make a home and succeeded well in their work. My brother, Seneca, was born Aug. 20, 1831.
My father had a large log building down by the brook near the woods, and he manufactured, therein, what they then called salts. It was made in this way: Leaching ashes and boiling down the lye until it was hard and black. He bought up the ashes from those that were clearing land and as near as I can judge, he must have done well, considering the hard times. When he got a load of salts he would take it to Detroit with his ox team and it took nearly a week to perform the journey,. Father would leave his hired man to run the potash works and look after things, generally. On the occasion of this kind, mother was called away from home in sickness, leaving my sister, Jane, to take charge of the house. Mother charged her to stay in the house and keep me in. A short time before that mother had a payment of money from her mother’s estate, about five hundred dollars, and she took the precaution to hide it in the straw bed before she left. She then took up our baby brother and was soon out of sight. At noon the man came from his work to dinner, ate, and then ordered us out of doors and shut us out. My sister looked in the window and saw him overhauling the bureau drawers. He then called her in and told her to find her mother’s money and he scolded and threatened her, and frightened us both, but he couldn’t find the money. He then went up stairs and got his clothes and left, never to return.
My mother was a very ambitious woman, doing work out doors, as well as all her working in the house. She did her baking in an outdoor oven and she had a number to bake for, for our father was clearing land and dept one or more hired men all of the time. We had a new house, by this time, and it was kept very tidy. Mother did all the rough housework in the old house, besides father used it for a shop in bad weather.
On one occasion, late in the fall, father had built a large fire in the old house to thaw out some frozen hogs he had butchered the day before. He placed them around the fire, in a circle, and standing on their forelegs with their heads to the fire, he left them to thaw. There was nothing, at that time, that looked more horrible, to me, than a dressed hog with their bleeding throats. Mother, not thinking of my fears, sent me to the old house chamber for something she wanted. I went in and was half way up the stairs when I made the discovery. Thinking myself in great danger and expecting they would follow me, I expect I made good use of my lungs for mother came running expecting my clothes were on fire. She sat down on the stairs and told me that dead pigs could not hurt me but she could not explain away my fear of dead hogs for long after that I would be haunted in my dreams by those stiff porkers, and mother would have to get up and quiet me the best way she could. Parents cannot be too careful in the matter to avoid small children getting frightened.
The first I remember hearing about God, the maker and ruler of all things, my idea was very simple,. I was told that God was in the sky and I supposed he was moving about in the clouds and I often fancied I could see him. There was to be preaching in grandfather’s barn and father went, taking me with him. It was a great event for me from the time we left home until we returned. We went across lots, the well beaten path through the wheat field, and meadow, I recollect so well, and it was all beautiful to my young eyes. The path continued through a short piece of woods and also in grandpa’s field and led us to the house where dear old grandma was ready to greet us with smiles and kind words. The barn was ready for the meeting. Seats were placed in good order and they were soon filled with people. The minister took his place and commenced the usual ceremonies and that was that was the first religious meeting I had ever heard. He talked loud and looked fierce and I was afraid and got as close as I could to my father. Directly there was a change in the program. A jingling noise was heard near where the minister stood and two dogs came rushing out of the granary door loaded with sleigh bells. They scampered around under the seats but they were soon taken care of and the meeting went on quietly. But I supposed the dogs and bells were a part of the ceremony and I did not like it and expressed myself, in that way, as not liking the minister’s dogs and bells and I was laughed at and called a little, silly goose for not knowing any better.
On June 29th, 1834 a baby sister came to our house and they called her Emeline. In the fall of 1834 I had another walk across lots with father to grandpas which never forgot. Following the same well beaten path as before mentioned, we were soon in grandfather Teeple’s field. Father took me to a small aplle tree and told me to look. There for the first time, in my life, I saw apples growing on a tree. They were beauties, large and red. I can see them now. Father had brought apples, at different times from Detroit, but they were poor, frozen and bruised. So when I saw them on the tree it was a new sight entirely.
Perhaps, my dear children, you will tire of hearing me say so much about myself, but you must remember it’s about myself, principally, that I am telling you. If I had time, and space, I would like to say more about my dear, good sister Jane,. Among my early recollections she was always by me ready to amuse me or do my bidding. My rag dolls were made to order by her and I kept a number on hand. But one day while playing by the brook I made the discovery of a green frog. It was just what I wanted for a real live dolly. I begged my sister to secure it, which she did, but when she put it in my hands it was not there but landed over the brook. She soon secured another and I held it until I got it dressed in dolls clothes and when mother asked me to rock the cradle I was very willing for I placed my frog dolly in the foot of the cradle and watched its winking eyes to see if it would go to sleep. But my live dolly soon came to grief for when mother took up my baby sister she saw it and mistook it for a snake and screamed with fright, but when she understood how it was she had a laugh over it and sent me to put the frog in the brook.
Mother had a pet that I remember a very little about. It was a young deer. When he was a year old he got ugly. He would play with us children very nice for a while and then if we did not go to suit him he would raise up and pelt us with his fore feet and we would go to mother with our complaints against him and he would go with us. Mother would box his ears and that would settle it for the time being. But he got so ugly the neighbors were afraid of him and father killed him.
My sister Jane went to school a mile and a half from home. Where the schoolhouse was built was quite a village. It was called Cooper’s Corners. She took me with her, one day, to see the school. The teacher heard me red or rather he heard me say the letters after him. It was quite an eventful day for me. I saw the scholars so busy with their books and the teacher looking so grand and good. Besides the location of the schoolhouse was very pleasant. It was about twenty rods from the corners where there was a number of nice buildings painted white with green blinds. Also a store with candy in the windows, a blacksmith shop and cooper shop. Why I speak of this place in particular it was the first cluster of buildings, or village I had ever seen. I was anxious to go to school but mother had to deep me home to rock the baby and do little errands to save her steps. Mother did not want to keep my sister Jane out of school. It seems she was a bright scholar and was learning well in school. But she was my idol and I could not bear to have her out of my sight. They days would seem very long without her. I would watch for her coming and run to meet her and she would reward me for it with flowers, mosses, bright little stones, or anything she thought would please me.
But the time did come when I commenced going to school. The teacher had a large school and mostly large scholars and I am sure he had to neglect the little ones. Some days I would not be called up to read at all and I did not learn the alphabet but I did learn by hearing others recite and I was very fond of some of the scholars, especially some of the large girls who would pet and flatter me. My hair was very curly and there seemed to be a strife among them which one should curl my hair.
There are very many trying things to contend with in a new country that is very hard on the pioneer. One thing is old ague persuading them to shake. Young as I was I have not forgotten how he hung around us all and left me a mere skeleton. I have heard mother say that I had the ague for a year. Some people believed, at that time, that children should wear out the ague and I have never had it since, so I guess I wore it out. Some days we would all be sick with it at the same time. One of those days in particular I recollect taking a pitcher and going for water to the spring. I got the water and started to go up the hill that looked so long and high I could see nothing but the sky above it. It seemed to me that my home and friends had sunk out of sight and the hill was so long I never could reach the top., Mother came to my relief and helped me up the hill and showed me that home and friends were all right. The aue had weakened my brain as well as my body.
Mosquitoes are another annoyance in a new country. But mosquito netting, at that time, was unknown to the early settlers and they smudged them.
The erection of our new frame barn was quite an event with us children. I suppose it was because it afforded a new place for us to play. Many a happy hour was spent playing in the new barn and sometimes we would get hurt severely but it did not stop our fun for we would go in the same places again and again, I have two scars on my chin that were caused by my rough play. My sister Jane and I were playing on a teeter but she was too heavy for me and threw me against the fence cutting my chin open,. At another time I was amusing my little sister by running around up stairs with her on my back, playing horse. I ran down stairs so fast I could not stop and rushed across the room throwing my rider on the bed while I went under the bed, striking my chin on an iron bound half bushel measure, cutting a deep gash. Now when I look at those two scars they tell a long story of the past. They are reminders of an early day and recall many scenes of my childhood.
Our home was growing more beautiful all the while. Stumps were disappearing from the fields. A thrifty young orchard was growing. About seventy five acres cleared and well fenced and the rails were put up to stay. Our farm lay on both sides of the road so we did not have very near neighbors. But the woodsman was slaying the timber in every direction. We could see through to our neighbor’s fields and dwellings. In fact we were getting out of the woods and mother was happy in the new home she had worked so hard to help make.
In the fall of ’35 father went back to the state of New York to settle up some business matters. While he was gone mother went on with the fall work. She hired a boy to help her and then went ahead, herself, husking corn and putting it into the cribs. At the same time she was fattening a number of hogs. She would yoke up the oxen, herself, and drive them to and from the fields bringing loads of corn and potatoes. Why I remember it so well I had to stay in the house to look after the little ones. Mother kept Jane in the field with her for she could make her useful.
When father returned the fall work was done. I recollect fathers coming for he brought with him a span of colts which we were all delighted to see. He also had a large family bible with very nice pictures in it and father wrote the family record in his new bible. He brought us children some apples which we soon devoured, and a few presents from the east. Mother would ask him questions about her old home and seemed to be laughing and crying at the same time.
Winter soon came on and we had some nice rides after the new team, my first ride after horses. My father’s youngest sister, aunt Harriett, was married this winter in December 1835, to James Root and aunt Letta Teeple was married, the year before, to Robert Powers. In the spring of 1836 the sugar bush was a great attraction for me as I had not been allowed to go before then, and then came the summer with the sunshine and harvest. I did chores for mother and sister Jane went to school. I wanted to go to school very much and mother said I should go next winter.
On September 1, 1836, another little brother came to our house and they called his name Peter after my father. Then we were five in number. Jane was a great help to mother but I guess I did not do much work for I was called lazy so much. I took it for granted that I was.
As I look back on our Plymouth home I can see that we were very comfortably situated and had a good school for us children to attend. But it was too good to last longer. The Grand River fever broke out in the Teeple family in the fall of ’36 and it caused a great commotion. Father had it very bad as well as his brother George and his brothers-in-law Lewis Cook and Hiram Laraway. Mother was not disturbed by all that was said and done until she saw a load of people from the east riding by and looking at our farm. She knew, then, that father was in earnest and wanted to sell the farm.
With tears and entreaties she pointed out the disadvantages and privations that must follow such a change. But father could not be put off very easy. His plea was that he wanted more land where he could keep a lot of stock, They finally decided to go to the Grand River country and see for himself before he sold his place and so he got started with some others,. Meanwhile poor mother was worrying herself sick over the great change that had so suddenly come upon him. I remember his coming home and telling what a wonderful country it was. At least I pictured a beautiful home (in my mind) on the banks of Grand River, which would be ours. Mother made a number of pleas against it but to no purpose. So within a few weeks our Plymouth home was owned by Mr. Gates and father had his farm in his pocket.
Mother was very sad and shed many tears. She could not see any good in such a change and expressed herself freely in the matter. Father had his plans and opinions and insisted that he knew best. But, alas, he learned too soon that mother’s judgment in the matter was the best. I was but seven years old the month that the farm was sold but I can remember distinctly all that occurred. Preparations were made for our removal and journey. In Dec. 1836 we looked, for the last time, on our home as we were riding away over the hill.
Mother visited her friends and relatives for the last time, for so it proved, for the most of them she never saw again. We then stayed at grandfather’s until we were ready to start for the Grand River country where father had bought a section of land. On Jan. 1, 1837 four loads of hosehold goods, belonging to father and Uncle George Teeple, were brought out of grandfather Teeple’s barn and hasty preparations were being made indoors, as well as out, for starting on a long journey. Uncle George’s family were five in number. Ours were seven,. Dear old grandma, with her eyes full of tears, was helping all she could to make us comfortable and often she would utter encouraging words and “God Bless you, my loved ones”, from those dear old lips was consoling to all. And when the goodbyes were repeated and we were all snugly packed away in the sleigh, grandfather looked in our emigrant covered rig with tears in his eyes. I wondered why he should feel bad but I never forgot his appearance as he stood there. Uncle Nicholas drove father’s ox team and uncle Wm Teeple brought a load of goods for uncle George so that called the four brothers on the road traveling together. It grieved me to leave good old grandma and my little cousin Lima. The latter and I had enjoyed ourselves very much during our short stay at grandfathers. But I don’t think the rest of the family enjoyed our actions for we would not stay in the house and we could not stay out long for the weather was very cold. She had a sleigh and there was a nice place to coast down the lawn. It was fun but we could not stay out but a few minutes at a time. But I must return to our journey
When we had gone a mile and a half on our way the teams halted for mother to bid her sister good bye, aunt Hannah. Her husband, uncle Jackson Freeman, kept a tavern on the Detroit and Ann Arbor road. He was also a well to do farmer. They had ten children which we loved as playmates and cousins. After the usual leave-taking was over we then started in the direction of Ann Arbor and our journey was fairly begun. We stopped to warm, a few hours on our journey, and were sent in a room by a stove which seemed very strange to me. I knew no other way of warming but by a fireplace.
We stopped at Ann Arbor the first night. It was a small place, at that time, or that part of the town was where we stopped. The tavern was tow log buildings with large fireplaces well piled with wood. A delicious place for us to warm. The next morning was clear and cold. We were preparing to start just as the sun came up and the frost on everything around made a beautiful appearance to behold. As we drove off, a long spout for carrying water attracted my attention. And so we journeyed on, day after day. If I thought it would not be tedious for you I would relate the whole journey.
It must have been very tiresome for mother and aunty with their small children. They had with them a supply of good things they had baked up before they left home, (or rather grandpa’s) and would passify the little ones by giving them all they could eat. As for my sister Jane and myself we enjoyed it very much. Occasionally a deer would go bonding across our road, so graceful and beautiful we would watch for more. But nature was all beautiful to our young eyes. The hills and valleys, and everything we passed, we took in at a glance and could see something to admire all the time.
There was a great deal of travel, at that time, and often where we would put up nights there would be so many stopping father would have to get our beds out of the sleigh and make them up on the floor. But we would be tired enough when night came to sleep anywhere.
Uncle William Teeple was a great tease and loved to plaque children, but we loved to ride with him for a change. One cold day Seneca and myself were riding with him and got cold. He put us down to run behind and get warm. The teams were all before him and he drove so fast we could not keep up. We called for him to wait for us but he only went the faster and told us not to mind if we could not keep up, for Slater’s Indians were encamped just over the hill and we could find good homes among them, at the same time pointing to an Indian trail, well beaten. I was such a silly child to think he meant what he said but I was badly frightened and dragging my little brother along as fast as I could I ran until I fell down exhausted. The next I knew I was surprised to find myself and brother safe in the sleigh with mother. I am always sorry to see young people plaguing children, but there are some, to this day, that seem to delight in such an unwise practice.
We put up that night, at Yankee Springs and they called the landlord Yankee Lewis, who had a pleasant smile and a cheerful word for everyone. His hotel was a number of log buildings, close together, well dept and very comfortable. I recollect well how the big fires were blazing high when we entered. Yankee Lewis, himself, helped unbundle us children and placed us where we could get warm. It was the happiest night, for me, of the whole journey for there was no restraint on the children. We went about the house as if we were at home and the supper was delicious. Besides, we children had such a warm little bedroom close by mother’s and father’s room. The next morning was just as pleasant and they helped us get ready to start.
The next night we stopped at the Green Lake House, a new framed house, but not finished and it was a cold shell. It was kept by a Mr. Clark. They had a pair of twin girls about my age and we soon got acquainted. Mother made up beds on the floor for us children and the twins slept with us. We had now been on the road a week and the next morning we set out early as it was our last day on the road, and that night we arrived at Jacob Patterson’s where we were to stay until father could build a house. Uncle Giorge went a mile farther to Lewis Cook’s.
Before father could build our house he went back to Plymouth after another load of household goods,. While he was gone a sleigh ridding party came from Grand Rapids and then the house was full to overflowing. Mother huddled us in a corner and made us keep still. The company was noisy and mother looked frightened. Mr. Patterson played the violin and they danced and stomped and made a big racket. One of the men went out to their sleigh and brought a big jug. He said he was going to treat the ladies. He commenced passing it to them and they refused, of course, until he came to a little lady standing near our corner. She took the jug, raised it over the stone hearth and let it fall. It was smashed just as she intended it should be and the men got quite after that. (she was a sister of Patterson’s) Years after, mother explained the strange conduct to me and father. Said that she put it in her head to break the jug as she was getting alarmed at their conduct. Poor mother, what a change from her quiet little home in Plymouth. But Mr. and Mrs. Petterson were kind and good to us all.
The songs that were popular in 1836, ’37 and ’38 were “Jim along Josey”, “Old Zip Coon”, “Old Dan Tucker”, “The long tailed blue”, “Such a getting up stairs”, and “The Girl I left behind me”, etc,
The wolves were very plentiful and made the nights hideous with their howling. In the morning we could see their tracks on the snow around the log stables where they kept their teams. When a crust came on the snow they would chase the deer and tire them out, kill them and eat them. But the deer were also very plentiful. We could see them nearly every day bounding along through the woods, and those of the settlers that had guns would provide themselves and their neighbors with good fat venison.
Well, land was plentiful and Cascade where father located his land was an unbroken wilderness. Uncle Lewis Cook was the first to settle in that town. Uncle George Teeple and my father were the next.
Father returned with the last of our goods the last of January, and commenced building our big house,. He made the shingles fro the roof and split basswood slabs and hewed them smooth for the floor. He brought lumber with him for the windows and doors. The gables were shingled the same as the roof. A large fireplace was made of stone and the chimney was sticks split fine and plastered on the inside with a mortar made of clay and sand. But before all these things were completed the winter commenced breaking up and as we had to cross streams to get to our place we moved at once in our unfinished house. Then a terrible rain storm set in, Father took up a portion of the floor and brought in his horses to keep them out of the storm which was very amusing for us children, When the storm was over the snow was gone and work to commence a new home was laid out. Where the house was built the soil was light. It was oak openings.
To prepare the land for spring crops was not a long job. The grubs were cut and two yoke of oxen, before a breaking up plow and two men soon turned over ten acres of land in time for spring crops. We children helped pick up the roots and in doing so found a great many Indian relics, such as stone hatchets, fling arrows, pipes and so forth. There seemed to e a strife among us who should find the finest specimens until one day uncle Lewis Cook called to us to come to see what he had found., He had plowed up the bones of an Indian and the skull bone was whole and perfect.
While I was funning over the newly plowed ground, one day, I ran upon a snake. He instantly threw his rattles up by my side and warned me of what I had done. I was going fast but went faster then until I found mother. When she heard me through and found I was not bitten she seemed to doubt me. I took her to the spot and there was the rattlesnake with his head in my footprint. The blow had stupefied him so he had not moved. Mother killed him and took off ten rattles. The rattlesnakes were very thick, at that time, and people were often getting bitten by them.
In the spring of 1837 another family cast their lot with jus. Uncle Hiram Laraway, making four families at that time in what is now Cascade township., I was too young at the time to realize much about the hardships of the new settlers, but I can remember all the circumstances of any account. I am ssure they had a hard struggle to keep the hungry wolf from their doors.
Wild fruit of all kinds were very plentiful and it made business for us children to roam over the plains and gather the delicious berries as they came in their season., Father was very unfortunate, this spring of ’37, for just as his crops began to look promising his horses strayed away. They started to go back to Plymouth and one of them was stolen on the way. After father had spent a good deal of time and money looking for them he brought home one horse but the other we never got.
We had a yoke of oxen and three cows and father cut hay on the marshes to keep them through the coming winter. He then went to Plymouth with his ox team and got a load of fruit trees and planted his apple orchard which is still bearing fruit. The trees were set in the fall of 1837 (nearly fifty years ago). He also brought, with him, three more cows.
The winter of ’38 was very cold and the snow very deep. During one of the severe storms Uncle Hiram Laraway went to Ada on foot to get supplies and got lost among those bleak hills and perished with cold and hunger. His body was found about a week after the storm ceased by anxious friends, After his remains were carefully laid away aunt Mary Laraway, with her five children, went back to Plymouth to her father’s (Grandfather Teeples), where she met good, kind and sympathizing friends.
With the help of a hired man, father made a large opening in the timberland by falling the trees and piling the brush. In the spring the brush was burned and corn planted among the logs by striking an ax in the ground and dropping the corn in the opening. There was a splendid growth of corn without any more labor until it was ready to husk. But I must return to the spring of ’38.
When the weather warmed up our six cows were turned out to pick their living. But father, nor the cows either, knew the lay of the land and two of the cows sunk down in the marsh and were drowned before he found them. My little brother Seneca met with an accident this spring which I never forgot as I felt I was the cause of it. We were climbing over a high rail fence made of oak. When we were on the top rail it fell with us and broke my brother’s leg close to the hip joint. He was but six years old. The hired man took our horse, Jimmy, and went as fast as he could to Grand Rapids, eight miles distant, where he found Dr. Charles Shepard who was a young man at that time. The Dr came and set the bone, (I have been told since it was the first bone he ever set) and before he left he had it all to do over again as the child, in his restlessness, got it out of place. But he did a good job of it for it grew on and was as good as ever in six weeks or two months. But he was king while he lay there helpless, and I his willing servant. I strewed his bed with wild flowers. I would provide him with whips which he would occasionally use on me, but I was glad to do anything to amuse him while he had to keep still.
I don’t remember much about the summer of ’38 excepting the wild flowers that looked more beautiful to me, then, than I can describe now. The blueberries grew in great abundance and we had them the year around for mother would dry enough to last. Cranberries were also very plentiful. And as father made maple sugar we fared very well for nice rich sauce.
In the fall of 1838 or cows broke through a log fence and got in the corn, eating so much of it that one of them died and it spoiled another.
In the spring of 1839, June 18th, another little sister came to our humble home and we called her Adelia and she made business for me for I had to stay in the house and take care of baby. I was at this time, ten years old. My sister Jane was fourteen and a great help to father for she was in the fields the most of the time helping him, where I wanted to be. I loved my baby sister but I did not like to be confined in the house to care for her.
How different we children were, coming up from the way children are raised at the present day. Forty six years ago picture books were unknown to the most of us children. My sister Jane could read but she never found time to teach the younger children. I did not know the letters in the alphabet when I was ten years old. Father took a newspaper that was printed in Grand Rapids. It was called the Grand River Times. I commenced my education by learning the letters in the name of the paper and when I had learned thus far I did not stop for I found there was more to learn and I enjoyed it very much. In fact, as I learned to read and spell the words, I would teach my brother Seneca and my sister Emeline. Father was interested in this school and bought a first reader. Then all my wants seemed to be supplied for I had a real schoolbook. Our sister, Jane, was also interested in this little book and was always ready to hear us read when she had time. But her young life was a busy one,. If she was not helping father, outdoors, she was helping mother in the house, so we could not have much help from her., We were coming up, it seem, untaught.
I was afraid of a stranger. If I saw one coming I would go up stairs and stay until they left. I was almost as wild as our pet deer that played with us children. He would bound through the bushes and play hide and seek with us. We would have to hold him while the others hid and then let him go. He would throw up his head and sniff the air and then go straight to them and perhaps pelt them with his fore feet if they did not look out for him. He loved us children and would keep by us all the time, but he was as afraid of strangers as I was and if he saw one coming he would get out of sight at once. But we had to part with him for he got in a bad habit. If the door was not open he would come in the house through a pane of glass. After he had done this a few times father sold him to a Mr. Palmer and family who got homesick and were going back to Connecticut from whence they came. Father told them of his trick but they thought it of little consequence. But he did not forget his habit when he got to Connecticut and Mr. Palmer had a great many panes of glass to pay for besides what he broke at home. If he followed his folks to the store he would not take the trouble to go in the door but through the window. Then one Sunday he shocked the good people so much he had to be killed. During the sermon at church a deer came bounding through the window and landed in the arms of his friends. That week venison was sold in that little town to buy glass and so on.
But I am wandering too far from our humble home where I studied nature. I loved to watch the birds and study their habits. Even the reptiles and insects were scrutinized by me. It was my special delight to watch the ants and the spiders as they were attending strictly to their business. We kept bees and they, too, were a study for me. But once upon a time my sister Jane and myself had an experience with the bees that did not give us much time to study them. It was a warm day in June. Father and mother had gone to town. A swarm of bees came out and we hived them all right, but soon another swarm came out and while they were in the air a third swarm came out. Then the first ones we had hived came out and joined them. The three swarms, all mixed together, and two little girls to manage them. My sister’s long hair hung loose on her back and to my horror I saw the bees were beginning to light on her hair., I set up a cry, but she was wiser than poor little me and ran into a very bushy peach tree and shook her head and passed out on the other side. The bees immediately went for the peach tree but their numbers were so great and the tree so young that the limbs commenced breaking off. Within a few minutes the tree was all broken down and there was a pile of peach brush and over a bushel of bees all mixed together. My sister, viewing them a short time said to me “Come with me, I will fix them.” Father had a large buttonwood, or shell of a large tree, which he used for grain. She had me help her roll it to the pile of bees. After making an opening at the bottom our hive was completed. It proved to be a most wonderful bee house for the bees would make their honey the whole length of the cavity which was about three feet across. That year, and years after, there would be a hundred weight of honey taken out at a time by prying up the top. It was called Jan’s bee hive.
We also had an apple tree we called Jane’s apple tree. An unruly ox broke off a thrifty young tree and she ran to the tree, put back in its place and bound it up with muck and cloths which she kept wet until it healed. The dear sister has been dust for years but her tree still thrives but is old and scraggy. We children were very obedient to our sister Jane. Her word was law with us wherever we were roaming over the plains, gathering berries or nuts. She was our captain.
Father hired thirty acres of heavy timbered land, cleared and fenced it, and paid in land for having it done. In the fall of 1839 they had the first ten acres ready for wheat. Father sowed the wheat among the stumps and then dragged the ground as well as he could among the stumps. A large yield of wheat could be raised in this way. After the contractors cleared ten acres they got discouraged and sold their contract to Chauncey Patterson, a young and enterprising man who finished the contract and got his pay in land of father. This is where he made a home and where he now lives and is a prosperous and wealthy farmer.
Hard times followed the new settlers in the Grand River valley, commencing about 1837, and continued for years.
Before we raised our own wheat father would go to Gull Prairie with an ox team after flour which he paid twenty five dollars per barrel for, and none to be had at that time, at Grand Rapids, at any price.
I don’t remember, now, or ever being hungry and out of food entirely, but I do remember our being out of bread stuff. One time, in particular, father went to Grand Rapids on horseback after flour and mother made chicken broth for our dinner and thickened it with potatoes. I enjoyed my dinner and I couldn’t see why mother should cry and feel so bad as long as we were faring so well.
That P.M. father rode up to the house and passed down a sack of rice to mother and saying, as he did so, “This is the best I could do, not a dust of flour to be bought in Grand Rapids. Our supper was a delicious one,. It consisted of boiled rice with maple sugar and butter. But how little we children realized how much anxiety it cost our parents to provide for us in the wilderness.