Please note – This is the life story of Laura Weeks (Carl Weeks’ mother) as written by her and includes some sensitive material regarding treatment of minorities, physical injury, farm life, animal death, and poverty. Reader discretion is advised.
By Laura Chamberlain Weeks
The Weeks family belonged to West England and Wales. Grandmother Weeks was Welch. Four Weeks brothers, Thomas, Ira, John and Eben came over from West England together. They used to get their mail mixed, so one of them changed his name to “Wicks,” one to “Wix,” and the others kept the name “Weeks.” One of the brothers settled in Maine, one in Vermont (later going to New York), and one drifted into Pennsylvania and off on down south. These four brothers were the strongest men in that part of the country. At all the long raisings they were always there and they would hold the logs on their shoulders and would say, “Oh, don’t hurry, we don’t mind.” Grandpa, Thomas Weeks was a noted oxen breaker. He always took them by the horns and threw them down the first thing.
Our family is the Vermont-New York brank – the one that kept the name “Weeks.” The Pennsylvania branch is now in New Jersey and Long Island. Grandpa and grandmother Weeks married up in Vermont and came down into New York, and her father, Isaac Clement, also came to New York. Grandmother Weeks was very particular. She always had nice handkerchiefs and if any of the girls ever used them there was always trouble. She made wonderful collars and cuffs. She got them some money from an uncle named Smith and she bought a French gingham dress, a black silk dress, a string of gold beads and had a half dozen silver spoons made. She was in her 69th or 70th year when she got them and her daughter Laura was very much disgusted. She said, “How will an old woman like you look in them.”
Laura was a milliner. She ran a big millinery store in Binghamton, N.Y., then came home and took care of her mother and ran a dairy. She never married, and took the responsibility of the family. She took care of her father for twenty years. She had seven strokes of apoplexy before she died. She was a woman of very strong character.
A cousin of pa’s, Jerome Clement, was an expert butter tub maker – firkins, they called them. After they quit using them he took care of the cemetery for many years, until he got so old and lame and stiff he couldn’t do it anymore. That was at McLain, N.Y., about five miles from Cortland. When he was so old he couldn’t work any more and was confined to his bed he whittled out a hammer handle and sent it to Dell. When this cousin Jerome was a little boy, his grandfather had set out an apple orchard. He went out there with his mother one time and pulled up one of the young apple trees. His grandfather switched him with it and then took a deer’s foot and put on it and made a wonderful cane.
All the Weeks and all the Chamberlains in America are related.
Both the Weeks and the Chamberlains took part in the Revolutionary war and we belong to the D.A.R. from both sides of the house. Dell’s name was the first of the Weeks or Chamberlain families on the government pay-roll from the time of the Revolutionary War until the Spanish-American War.
Mother never cared about hearing about the soldiers or war or anything of that kind. Grandmother Davis was at our house one time and she told us children about the early days, where grandfather enlisted an all that, and that is the only way I ever had any information. Grandfather Davis enlisted in the war of 1812 at Campbell’s Hump, Vermont. Grandmother and another neighbor sat up all night and melted up their pewter and made bullets because they didn’t have lead to make them. In those days the social standing of a family was established by the pewter dishes they had and the brightness of them. They kept them polished and on the mantle. The pride of every household was the pewter dishes on the mantel.
All the early Chamberlains except my father stayed in the east. Grandfather Chamberlain was on the pay-roll of the Revolutionary War. Grandmother Chamberlain was one of the Holbrooks that came over very early, soon after the Pilgrims landed. Grandfather Chamberlain entered his land from the government in Massachusetts. He died when he was seventy-five, when I was three years old. His land had a cranberry bog on it that never passed out of the family until about four years ago. The last owner was Everett Bridges, a second cousin, who finally came out to Iowa to be with Lowell and D.S., but he always went back to tend the cranberries when they were picked. He used to send the cranberries out to Chase Brothers’ store in Des Moines. They bought them for a number of years and they used to give me a peck at a time. My father went home one time when we were children and bought a lot of them back with him. Grandmother had company one day when they lived on this land – a quilting or something of that kind – and she cooked cranberries. Someone complimented her on them and she said, “if you want good cranberries you want to cook them in a jiffy.” If you cook them slow they turn dark colored. Everett Bridges used to put the small ones on the market when they were picked and keep the best ones until Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Pigeons used to be very plentiful in Massachusetts where grandfather Chamberlain lived. He used to set snares and catch them by the wagon load. Grandmother could crop three a minute. They would get ready at two o’clock in the morning and go down to Boston to sell out their pigeons.
Grandmother Chamberlain and grandmother Davis both cooked by an open fireplace. Grandmother Chamberlain baked bread and biscuits in the skillet I have now. She bought the skillet when my mother was six years old. She used it as long as she kept house and then let mother have it. Mother used it until we went to Kansas. When we were ready to leave she came out to the wagon and gave me the skillet and I used it to cook in along the way. Rae and I entertained some company – three old soldiers – in 1922, and I baked biscuits in that old skillet for them.
Grandmother Chamberlain had lots of apples and a big oven and she would cook great pansful of them and her boys would have a great feast on the baked apples. She was a great hand to bake pies, too. She had a board put up outside the house where she used to set her pies to cool and the boys would slip up and take them. She would go out and say, “I am sure I had more pies than that. I wonder if the boys have stolen them?” She knew they had, but she would pretend she didn’t know what became of them.
One time when father was a little boy grandmother started him to the neighbor’s to get a butter box. On the way he saw some foxes playing and he stopped to watch them and forgot what she sent him after. When he got to the neighbor’s house he said his mother wanted to borrow the cheese press. She said, “You dear child, your mother don’t want the cheese press – you couldn’t carry it. It must have been something else your mother wanted.” And in the end she had to go home with him to find out what he came for. I have made lots of butter and cheese myself. In hot weather we didn’t have a cool place to keep our milk and we would put down butter enough to last through the heat.
Grandpa Weeks had a big fireplace in his log house, too. When he put in the back log in the inter time he put a chain around the log and hitched an ox to it and hauled it in that way. The fireplace was made of stone. They cooked over it for quite a while and grandma’s face was all checked from the heat, grandpa built such big fires. The house was a large one, two stories high and made of hewed logs.
Grandma Weeks was a large woman. When she was seventy-five years old she used to measure the length of her skirt around her waist. She was a great hand to spin and weave. She wove her blankets and all of their yarn and everything. She wove a spread when pa was her baby. That was one of the last things she wove, and Dell has it now.
My father came from Middleboro, Massachusetts, to Ohio, and then moved on to Iowa in 1830, and finally settled in Linn county in 1838. He was one of the first white men in the county. Grandfather Davis came to Iowa the same year, 1838, and it was near Mt. Vernon, Iowa, that my father met my mother, and they were married in 1840.
My father first settled at Linn Grove, then moved to Linn county. He had his claim there before he and mother were married. H had saved up some money to buy land but had loaned it to a cousin of his and then he lost track of him and never got the money. So he took a yoke of oxen and went down to Dubuque and worked for six weeks hauling wood and burning charcoal. Uncle Holbrook, father’s brother, who manufactured boots and shoes in New York City, had sent him a box of boots and shoes and told him to sell them and keep the money. Something was coming to father from his father’s estate in Massachusetts, but it hadn’t been settled up yet and Uncle Holbrook said he would take the money father got from the box of shoes out of his share of the estate when it was settled up. When he got through with his work in Dubuque he sold the oxen and walked home.
The land father wanted came on the market in 1848. The land office had been opened in Marion then and father went down there and stayed a week for fear someone else would bid it in. As soon as it was called he bought it. He paid for it – 120 acres – with the money he had got for the box of shoes, the yoke of oxen and the money he had earned in Dubuque, and he had enough left to buy the family supplies for the winter. Iowa was a territory when father settled there. I was born in 1843, and Iowa became a state in 1846, when I was three years old.
Father had the first frame house that was built outside of Marion, Iowa. He had cut down bee trees and had lots of bees. And he had got hollow logs and made ox troughs and bee hives. My sister Mary and I were rocked in ox troughs for cradles. I can see the old ox trough cradle yet. The three younger children had a nice crib.
When the house was built, in 1847, father quarried the rock for the foundation and burned the rock into lime for plastering.
Father had a saddle horse to ride but he used oxen for the farm work. He didn’t have a team of horses until I was eight years old.
Father liked a cracker pudding made out of what we used to call water crackers – a big square cracker. We would soak them overnight in new milk and then in the morning would put in some sugar and raisins and bake them. It was a good pudding and we used to make a big six-quart pan full when we had threshers.
When I was a baby my grandfather Davis lived eighteen miles from mother. When I was three weeks old he came to see mother. He had a large family and always called mother his baby and he said he had come to see “baby’s baby.” He was paralyzed for fifteen years so he couldn’t walk. He had an old gray mare and they used to put him on this old mare and he would ride up to see mother. Then they would put him back on the horse and he would ride home again. He always read the newspaper as he rode along on the old horse and would stop and give the people along the road the news. He was the general newsbearer for the neighborhood. He had his third set of teeth and his second eyesight. He was deaf, too, but could overhear the slightest whistper if his daughters were talking about their beaus. He almost tormented the girls to death.
They used to put caps on babies to tie their ears down. When I was three weeks old mother left my cap off. It was the first of May but we had a big snow storm and I took cold and was very sick. Mother didn’t know what to do for me and she gave me a dose of calomel – the first medicine I ever took. I never was a well child after that.
I always had more fun than anybody when I was a child. I always helped father out of doors and it was my work to help take care of the stock – the chickens and cows and pigs. And I never could get away from flowers. I like them now as well as I did then. I used to get up in the mornings and go out in my little night gown and look for flowers before breakfast.
When I was three years old mother was churning one time and I wanted to lick the butter off when it came up on the dash. She wouldn’t let me, so when she went to the spring to get a pail of water I threw father’s old shoe in the churn. She said if she got hold of me she would give me a spanking, but she didn’t.
After we moved into the frame house there was quite a bit of shrubs and brush around and father cut it all down except one young sapling. Mother wanted to peel it to make chair bottoms of but father wouldn’t let her. It grew to be a beautiful tree, and was called the Chamberlain elm. My own children used to play under it. It was out near the road but the officials of the road never would have it cut down because it was so beautiful. The man that bought the place finally had it cut down and Lo got some of the wood and had jewel boxes made of it. Every one of the family that ever walked under that tree of played under it got one of the jewel boxes.
In 1922, D.S. got some of the rails father split in 1840, the year he and mother were married. They were oak rails and D.S. made me a paper knife and a mallet from the wood.
When I was eleven years old I took up some wild gooseberry bushes. We had a very large yards and I planted the bushes halfway around it. They grew to be nice great big bushes.
I did lots of knitting when I was a child, but I didn’t like to sew. I asked mother one time to help me make a waist from an old lawn dress I had. She didn’t want to do it and I didn’t care after that whether I ever learned to sew or not. I learned to knit on feathers. An aunt told me how to knit when I was four years old. She set up a garter with chicken feathers and I learned to knit. Four or five years ago my sister and were out in Denver. It was Lo’s birthday. We were out by the chicken coop, and I picked up some feathers and said, “I am going in and knit Lo a book mark on feathers for his birthday and write and tell him who taught me to knit. I knitted it out of mercerized cotton. He said if I had sent him a ten dollar bill he wouldn’t have thought as much of it as he did that book mark and the history of how I learned to knit. The ends of the yarn that mother tied in the loom were called thrums. They were about two feet long. I used to tie them together and knit garters out of them, and any bit of string I could find I would knit up into garters. Mother used to say she could not keep string about the house. Knitting on feathers was the pride of my life until I got able to knit on needles. When I got so I could knit on needles I knit all the socks and stockings and I made my sister’s stockings so she would make my dresses. I was elven years old when I commenced to knit for the family. I made me a bag to carry my knitting and ball in and when I used to go to the field and would have to sit and wait for something I would have my knitting bag along and knit. It was always around handy where I could get hold of it. I never was used to sitting empty handed – never thought of sitting down without something to sew or knit or read. We used to knit by the firelight. I never saw a kerosene lamp until I was eighteen years old.
I have read a great deal in my life. We always had papers. Years ago when the mail was carried across the plains on horse back we took the New York Weekly. It told about Buffalo Bill and Dashing Charlie. When we went west all that life was familiar to me for I had read about it. Dashing Charlie was a great mail carrier and desert rider. I loved to read and there was one chimney corner where I used to like to read and sew. We had a big old white bulldog and he would sit in one chimney corner and I in the other. Sometimes when my corner was the warmest he would come and sit at my feet. When We went to Sunday school we got books and papers. We had a wonderful Sunday school library for a new county. I would bring home my books and papers and sit in the chimney corner to read them. That was about the time the Indians were moved from Georgia and Alabama into Indian Territory. I read about them in the Sunday school papers. I was only ten years old and it made a great impression on me. One story was about an Indian girl that had her back injured. It was all pictured out how she had suffered and how the Indians had done all they could for her. She suffered two or three years with a broken back. It was the Choctaw nation and when I was down in Oklahoma a few years ago I saw them. There were Indians there that were children at the time the tribe was moved. They were old and I went up and spoke to them. I talked to one old lady and told her what I had read about them when I was a child. She said she was a little child when they were moved and she remembered it well. That Sunday school library was a wonderful help to us because we had so few books. Many people did not have any other books than those they got at the Sunday school library, but my father furnished his family with more books than any other family in the neighborhood. We had a dictionary and grammar and many other books and ours were the only ones there were in the school.
I went two miles to school part of the time when I was a child. We used to play all sorts of games, jump rope and play ball at school. The last school I went to was only three quarters of a mile from home. It was just a one-room school with one teacher for the whole school, from the A, B, C’s to arithmetic. The last year that father lived they built a new school house and he made the shingles for it and I helped him. After that school house had stood for forty years the shingles were still all on. The summer Izanna was born father made lots of shingles. He used white oak logs to make his shingles. I have helped him make thousands. The logs were sawed into the right lengths to make shingles, then quartered and the pieces for shingles split off. Then he shaved the pieces so that one side of the shingle was a little thinner than the other. How I used to love the smell of the fresh wood when it was first split.
I always loved to help father. Just as soon as the milking was done and the churning, I would go to the field. I never sat down in the house with mother and the other girls to sew. The year my father died was the first time there had ever been a reaper in that country. I was fourteen years old then.
Besides helping father in the field I used to help him with the chores. I used to slip out and make the fires when he was sick because I couldn’t bear to have him do it when he didn’t feel well. It was the greatest pleasure of my life to do things for him.
Father built a picket fence in front of the house and he put such a pretty top on each picket. Ever picket he put on I helped him with, either held it or did something.
He used to have a charcoal pit and I helped him make it. the year Lowell was born he burned a lot of charcoal and bought a wagon, cupboard and table and paid for them with the charcoal. Iron wood makes the best charcoal of any wood in the world. It was in small enough sticks so I could handle it. One day I remember his coal pit had got far enough along so that he had to rake it out or it would catch fire and burn up. He had been working until he was as black as coal himself. I was sitting on the fence, watching him. The blacksmith came down to buy some charcoal and as he drove up he saw father raking coal out and me sitting on the fence watching him. Before he came I had had father’s had while he stopped to cool off. We had a rose bush close by and I had taken father’s hat and trimmed it with red roses. When the blacksmith drove up he saw father with his hat trimmed with red roses and he laughed until he nearly killed himself. He lay down on the ground and rolled and laughed. As quick as he could leave the coal, father came out to see what was the matter. He said, “You darn fool, what’s the matter?” The blacksmith said, “That’s the first time I ever saw a man working in a charcoal pit with his hat trimmed with red roses.” Father laughed and said, “Oh, that’s some of the children’s work,” but he went right on wearing it. If father would see a pretty flower in the field he would pick it and stick it in his hat and when he came in to dinner he would give it to me.
One time I went out in the field and asked father if he wanted a drink. He said, yes, he did, and I went and told mother father wanted a drink. She said, “Now, you have been out and asked him.” But she fixed the teapot and I took it out to him. He was plowing with a big yoke of oxen and the oxen didn’t want to go around a big stump. They had just got to the stump when I got back with the drink and father was so pleased. None of the rest of the family ever wanted to go the things for father that I did and it always pleased him so. They always called me father’s tomboy.
One time D. S. and I were sent after the cows and we couldn’t find them. We found some granddaddies out in the field and asked them where the cows were. They pointed to the timber. We went back home and told mother we couldn’t find the cows but that the granddaddies said they were in the timber. When the cows finally came home they came from the timber.
When we were all children and going barefoot at home I knew everyone’s track in the sand by the shape of the foot. Mary had a large foot and Lucy a long, slender foot like Rae. Father never went barefoot. Izanna had a log foot and Lowell had a pretty foot. D. S.’s foot was big. We used to have to go to the barn to milk and there was a spot of sand in the road coming down from the barn. That is where I learned the foot tracks. I can just see the tracks as plain as though it was yesterday. It is strange how such little incidents will come back to you years and years afterwards.
My grandfather was a sailor and so was father and there never was one of the chamberlains wanted to go into the navy until Leo. When we were children father always took the Boston Journal of Commerce with the shipping news. At that time Iowa was a territory and the mail was brought overland on horseback. Father kept in touch with shipping and everything of that kind. When I was about nine years old I was always interested in the paper and would get up in his lap while he read it. One time there were two little verses of poetry in the paper and I asked father if I could have all the verses. He said he wouldn’t like to have me cut them out for three weeks because it took quite a while to read the papers through. After three weeks he said I could cut them out. I would cut them out and learn them. One Sunday morning he was standing before the glass shaving and I was helping take care of Lo. I was running back and forth and singing at the top of my voice to Lo. Father stopped shaving and looked at me. I had forgotten anyone could hear me. The minute I saw him looking at me I was ashamed. I had been singing on of the verses I had learned –
"If I were a man I's sail o'er the sea,
And over the ocean its lord I would be,
I would walk like a prince on the deck of my ship,
With a confident heart and a smile on my lip."
If I had known he was listening and watching me I wouldn’t have played and sung like that. Father said, “Would you like to go on the water?” I said, yes, and he said if he ever had a chance he would take me with him. I was tickled because I thought I was going to get a trip on the water. While Leo was in the navy I wrote that verse to him and he wanted to know where I got it. He said, “I do walk on my ship like a prince, with a confident heart and a smile on my lip. You don’t know how much courage that gave me.”
Uncle Holbrook Chamberlain was father’s oldest brother. He was a book carpenter. He was tall and dignified and always wore a silk hat. He was broke up three times in his young days and then went to New York City and made a success in boots and shoes. He furnished one island out of New York with boots and shoes and took them west to sell them. He sold the shoes and bought a boat and was going up the Mississippi River. The boat blew up — the first boat that ever blew up on the Mississippi. That left Uncle stranded. He made a fortune in New York. When he built his dwelling in Brooklyn he paid $1,000 a front foot for the land. We thought it was terrible, but Uncle was making money.
After the Civil War he said we should feed the poor blacks, something ought to be done for them. He and two others put their whole fortunes in a building for a school down in New Orleans. That building was sold a year or two ago and they were going to buy more land and build a bigger school. A picture of Uncle Holbrook and Aunt Izanna hang in the school. The last thing they did was to build what was called the Chamberlain addition to the school.
Father used to freight to St. Louis and Dubuque. Once he was to bring back a comb. We all had heavy hair and we needed a new comb. Father never rode his oxen but walked all the way, so when he got home he was all tired out. Mother asked him the first thing about the comb, and he had forgotten it. He walked clear back to Marion to get a comb.
My hair was so heavy I never had put it up until after I was married. We were building the house over and there was so much dust and lime dirt around that pa got me a heavy silk net so I could keep the dust out of my hair. At the end of six weeks my hair had grown so much I didn’t want to wear it in curls any more. Pa said if he had known my hair was going to grow like that he wouldn’t have got the net because he didn’t think there was any way my hair was a becoming as curled.
In those early days there were deer and wild turkeys and other wild things in the country, and prairie chickens and lots of wild fruit. The people had an abundance of everything to live on. There were strawberries growing wild and wild grapes and wild crab apples. Our crab apples were the best in twenty miles around.
There was a panther that for three years would go across the country every fall and it would stop in a big grove not far from us for a day or two and then move on. One time father had been to Dubuque to enter some land and mother heard the panther scream. It nearly scared her to death. She barred the doors and when father got home she had to get up and let him in. The next evening I can well remember I was sitting between father’s knees when we heard the panther scream again. That was the last time we heard it. It always came about the same time in the fall and passed through the country and went on up into what was called Billy Ward’s timber. Mr. Ward shot a big panther that fall and we always thought it was the one we had heard scream. The one he killed measured a good many feet from the tip of his tail to the end of his nose.
Mother gave me a goose one time when I was a girl. The goose used to get timothy seed under her tongue and suffered a great deal. We didn’t know what was the matter with her until one day I caught her and found out that it was a timothy seed under her tongue. After that every time she got a seed under her tongue I would catch her and take it out. It was because I took such good care of her that mother gave her to me.
One spring I wanted a pig and mother wouldn’t give it to me. I was a great big girl then and I said I had worked hard and done a lot around the place and I was going to have a pig of my own. Mother was having some work done on the house that spring and a mad by the name of Miller was doing the work. One day I said to him, “Mr. Miller, have you got lots of pigs?” He said, yes, he had quite a few, and I said, “If you will give me a little pig, I don’t care how little it is, I will help your wife wash her bedding.” He said, “All right, it’s a bargain.” The next morning he came bringing a little pig by the hind leg. I can see him yet brining that little spotted pig to me. I put her in the fattening pen and thought I would sell her. Then I thought if I did that I would be out a pig. Mother was wintering an old big sow so I turned my pig in with her. The next spring my pig went off across the creek and we never saw her for six weeks. Then one day she came back, and mother’s sow with her. Mine brought eight pigs and mother’s nine. It was the prettiest sight you ever saw. Mine were black and white. The little pigs grew and grew. That was during the war and pork was high in price. We turned them in the fattening pen and were going to sell them. But they got cholera, the first we had ever known, and we lost every one, the mother and the eight pigs, just when they were big enough for the fattening pen. We didn’t event have any pigs to kill for our own meat. Lots of other people were in the same fix. We would have got about $2,000 for the pigs if we could have marketed them because pork was so high in price. Things like that change a person’s plans so I often think if those pigs hadn’t died I might not have been here now.
Another time father said I had done so much work around the place he was going to give me a heifer, and he did. She was so wild we could hardly milk her. We finally traded her for the lumber that built our first house after we were married.
I well remember the day Lincoln spoke in Cedar Rapids. I cried because I didn’t get to go. Mother took a notion she would go with Mary and my brother-in-law and I should stay home and pick up potatoes. Hardly anyone stayed home that day and I felt hurt and wronged because I couldn’t go. I was in my eighteenth year, and Lincoln meant a lot to me – a lot more than mother, because mother never took an interest in such things. Lincoln made a wonderful speech. My brother-in-law had been a Democrat all the days of his life until he heard Lincoln speak and after that he said he would never vote the Democratic ticket. My husband cast his first vote for Lincoln.
When I was little I always wanted to build me a house. I did take boards and build a play house when I was a little girl and got a lot of pleasure out of it. After father died we had several colts and there was not room enough in the stable for them so mother and I thought we would build a stable. There was a great big long heavy oak board, too long to put where we wanted it so I thought I would saw the end off. I sawed and sawed on it. It was about a foot and a half wide. When I got the end sawed off I found it was too short. So my building experience was not very pleasant.
One time mother was building a room on the front of the house. It was all enclosed and there came up an awful thunder storm. The lightening struck the house and tore a barrel all to pieces and threw it clear across the road and tore the room open at three corners. Mother and I were knitting when the storm came up and we started down cellar. The lighting just seemed to come right into my hands on the knitting needles and I threw it out of my hands. I have been in a house two or three times when it was struck by lightening.
We never had much jewelry and I had always wanted a breast pin. The last year father lived a man came along peddling and he had a breast pin that I wanted awfully bad and father bought it for me. It was brass and only cost a few cents and of course it didn’t stay nice but I kept it for years.
The winter before I was eighteen I said I wouldn’t walk with any man that I wouldn’t marry and I was going to piece a quilt block for every fellow I turned down. I pieced twenty-seven blocks. I am sorry I didn’t save that quilt, but I was short of bedding one time and made a comfort out of it. The neighbors thought I was crazy because I turned down every fellow in the neighborhood. I turned them down because I didn’t like them well enough to marry them.
I was working in Cedar Rapids at that time for some people by the name of McClellan. Mr. McClellan ran the general store. One day I was standing at the front window holding Mrs. McClellan’s baby when a mad came by driving. I admired the way he handled the horses and I threw the baby down on the bed and ran out the back door to see if he was going out toward our place. When I came back in the house Mrs. McClellan asked me why I threw the baby down and ran out that way and I told her I wanted to see which way the man with the horses went. I told her she better be looking for someone to take my place because I was going home on Saturday. This was on Thursday. On Saturday I got up early and had my work all done by half past two. Then I went down town to see if I could find someone I could ride home with. I found only one many going out that way and he was such a miserable old thing I wouldn’t have been seen with him any other time, but I was determined to go home. He said he would be tickled to death to take me out – he lived a half mile beyond our place – and I told him where I would be when he was ready to go home. Then I went to the store and traded out what was coming to me for my work. I told Mr. McClellan I was going home that afternoon and he said, “But we don’t have anybody to do the work.” But I told him I had been saying all the time I was going home that day and I had already stayed longer than I agreed to when I came. So at the time arranged for the man drove past and I went home with him.
While I had been working in town my sister Lucy and mother had made garden and they had let the housework go. When I got home the house was dirty and in an awful fix and we stared to clean it up. While we were cleaning, a man drove up with tinware to trade for butter and eggs. Mother asked me if we had any butter and eggs to trade for the tinware and I said I thought there were some eggs but no butter. I had peeped out and had seen that it was the same man I had seen from the window in Cedar Rapids and I wouldn’t go out where he was, but he heard me answer my mother. My sister wanted to go out to the wagon with mother to see the tinware but I wouldn’t go because I wasn’t cleaned up and I was ashamed of the dirt that was piled on the doorstep. My sister said she didn’t care because we would probably never see him again and she went out to the wagon.
The next Saturday D. S. and mother and I were cleaning up the yard when the man came back and asked to be allowed to stay over Sunday. Mother said he couldn’t stay but D. S. and I said he could and told him to drive down to the barn and unhitch his horses. He unhitched and then came back and said he would help D. S. with the yard and mother and I needn’t help. That night when we went to bed mother locked his door because she was afraid. Then early in the morning she got up and unlocked it because she was afraid he would get up early and find himself locked in. He came often after that to spend Sunday with us, but I wouldn’t have anything to do with him until mother inquired around and found that he was a relative of one of our neighbors and come of a fine family. After that mother never locked the door when he came. We were married the ninth of the next February, and I was eighteen years old in April.
There used to be an old saying that if you would swallow a raw chicken heart and make a wish to marry the mad you wanted you would get him. Lucy and I thought we would try it one time. We were dressing chickens and we each swallowed a chicken heart and made a wish. That was before Lucy was married. We each wished for the fellow we got. I cut my chicken heart down until it was just a little bit of a piece, but Lucy tried to swallow nearly the whole heart and it choked and gagged her. Mine was cut down so it didn’t make any difference whether it was chicken heart or not.
Pa (Laura’s husband – Charles Weeks) was born in Cortland county, New York. Before he was born there was an Evangelist in New York who had preached and grandfather Weeks had taken a notion to him and had said if he had a child it should be a minister. So when he was born his father named him after this minister and he was always preaching to him and trying to get him to repent and take up the church. But that was the farthest thing from the boy’s mind. He wanted to be a doctor from the time he was nine years old. There was a doctor living half a mile away from his father and he used to go down there and spend a lot of time with him. When his father found out that he was going down to see the doctor he tried to stop it, but the doctor insisted he should let his come. In the early days the Methodist people thought a doctor the biggest infidel in the world because he couldn’t find a soul when he dissected a body. Grandfather Weeks thought he didn’t want his boy to grow up to be an infidel and he prayed for the boy as long as he lived to give up everything and be a minister, but it wasn’t born in the boy to be a minister. It was a terrible disappointment to his father to have him not want to be a minister and he preached at him so much that he finally ran away from home and came west.
They lived in a place called Bangall, in New York. It got its name from the Indians coming in and shooting the place up. Pa’s youngest sister had married John Spooner and had come west to Comanche, Iowa, a town near Clinton. When the boy ran away from home he came to his sister. He was sixteen years old then. Later he came to Linn county and it was then that I met him when he drove past the house in Cedar Rapids.
Some time after he came out west from New York he west to Texas with two other men. It was before the war and the other men, who were bothers, were moving down there. He had worked with them and lived with them so when they went to Texas he went too. He hired out to a slave holder down there and drove niggers for three months. His father was a strong abolitionist and if he had known what his boy was doing I don’t know what he would have done to think his son drove the blacks. When the war came on these men came back from Texas and he came with them.
At that time everybody was crazy about Pike’s Peak and the finding of gold out there. Trainload after trainload of men went out to Colorado. These same men started to Pike’s Peak to pick up gold and pa went with them. There was only one log cabin in Denver at that time. That was in the early days of Colorado before there were any settlers, and the year before I met him. He had mountain fever on the way and they wouldn’t let him have anything he wanted to eat. One day he wanted cherries. They had come to some timber where there were wild cherry trees. They wouldn’t let him have any, so while they were gone he slipped out and filled himself full of cherries. The men were afraid he would die, but he commenced to get well from the minute. The cherries were medicine for him.
When my father’s estate was divided up the part called The Grove came to me. There were 200 acres in Benton county that went to my older sister and the sister younger than men. Father had homesteaded all of it. After father died mother had to rent out the farm and she and Izanna moved out of the big house into a smaller one.
Father built the house we moved into when we went to housekeeping. It was just one room eighteen by twenty feet and had been used for the men that helped on the farm. My sister was living in it at that time because my brother-in-law was in the army. Pa couldn’t go in the army because of a bad foot. One time he and his father were both chopping on the same log. It was a frosty morning and grandpa’s axe slipped and cut through the large joint of pa’s foot. He never could wear shoes after that that were not made to fit that foot. The government would not take him because of the foot but he was an expert horseman and did his part buying horses for the government.
Of course there wasn’t room in the house for all of us so we traded a cow for lumber to build on an addition. It was just a shew of twenty-eight feet long, and one end of it I used for a kitchen and the other end for the woodshed. Later on we built that part over and made two rooms of it and put on an el that was eighteen by twenty feet, The house was a story and a half when left it and we had build on so there were seven rooms.
Next to the house was an ice house. We put up our own ice. Then came the smoke house. When Deyet was a baby I went down to the creek and took up a box elder about as big around as my wrist. The drain from the ice house watered the tree and it got to be the biggest tree I ever saw for its age. It covered the wood shed and the ice house and kept it cool and nice there. Otter Creek ran though the west side of the farm and we called the farm Otter Creek Swine Farm. There was a hill with thick brush and hazel brush to the north and northwest of the house, which was a wonderful protection. North of the house was an immense lot that ran down to the road. We had a cow yard, har lot, pig lot, stable, and to the east of the old log barn was our horses, old Kit and Sal and Jim and Ellie. Off the part where Kit and Sal were big wheat bins were built. There was a big tool horse were the pig pens and later on the big new piggery. Pa conceived the idea of raising two crops of pigs in one year, something that had never been done before, and that was when he built the piggery.
A cousin of ours gave pa a pig and we raised it up to be a big sow and sold that and bought our cook stove with the money. It was a nice stove with an elevated oven. We didn’t need much furniture because we didn’t have much room and the stove took up a good bit of space.
We just had a team of horses and one heifer when we went to housekeeping. The heifer died when she had her calf and left us without any cow at all, so we bought one from a neighbor. We had a pair of turkeys, too, that I had knit to pay for.
Pa was a natural rover. When he was sixty or seventy years old he still wanted to go every new place that opened up. He was interested in medicine and if he had been allowed to study medicine as a boy I think all his restless ambition would have been worked out in advanced medicine and surgery. His ideas did not accord with every day life but would have accorded with advanced medicine and surgery. He was never satisfied with the machinery of the day. He always thought there would be something better. He believed in the future of invention. John Burrows and Walt Whitman were his heroes. Edison hasn’t done any more than he expected would be done. We didn’t have money for him to study medicine after we were married or to attend lectures, so he had to give up the idea of being a doctor, but he afterwards took a course in veterinary and was a successful veterinarian. Lots of people called him the same as they would call a doctor when they were sick, and when people died they sent for him to lay them out for miles around. When there was any dissecting going on in Marion the doctors used to send for him and he always sent. So that in later days he got to do in a way what he wanted to do when a boy.
He was always a great lover of fine horses and all kinds of fine stock. He was a perfect horseman and his father before him. His father was an expert at breaking oxen in the old days in New York, and he broke all the horses and colts in his county.
We raised a great many fancy pigs and had a fine piggery on that Linn county farm. The piggery was eighty feet long and was double decked so there were upper and lower windows so they got the full benefit of the sun the full length of the house. I read in the Times not long ago that people were going back to building piggeries like that first piggery of ours because it was the most successful hog house one could build. We could raise pigs all the year around and had the finest there was. Our piggery was the first one built in Linn county. We raised the fancy pigs until the country was well supplied and the price got down so low it didn’t pay to keep it up any longer. People used to laugh and say I would have good luck with hogs. I did have good luck. Any time they were sick or anything went wrong I had to take care of them. i had chare of lots of them. My first money, or what would have been my first money was from the pig that I helped the woman wash bed clothes for. Cholera swept the county and took everybody’s hogs.
We were considered at that time too “far fetched” in our ideas of thorough bred stock. We took the only diploma issued at the Iowa state fair ground the year we had the pigs at the fair. We were both intensely interested in the Iowa state fair from the time it started in Cedar Rapids until it left there. The Iowa state fair has been a wonderful educational exhibit for those who are interested. The last year we were in Iowa we took the prize on fifty head of shoats at the state fair in Cedar Rapids. The state fair was held in Cedar Rapids until the last year we were there, then it was moved to Des Moines.
We used to have big annual sales on the farm. We had eight of them. We didn’t just sell the pigs. We would sell everything on the place that we wanted to get rid of. We had a Linn county history and we used to have sale advertisements printed and would make a list of every man in the county from the Linn County History and would send every one of them a sale advertisement. If we had a cow that wasn’t doing very well we would sell her and buy a fresh one. We would use the spring wagons one year and then sell them and buy new. We never sold one for less than we paid for it, after having used it a year.
When we had the big sales we had to prepare food for all who wanted it. We would build a table as long as a bolt of sheeting, and used the sheeting to cover it. The table was about eighty feet long. We would get a hundred pounds of pressed beef, two hundred loaves of bread, and cut it up and make sandwiches. we would put up a barrel of pickles and put a dish of pickles every little way. Women around in the neighborhood would come in and help me on sale day, and that is the way it went for eight years. We would raise five hundred fancy pigs and sell them in the sale. One time we set a man at the gate to see how many people passed through to the sale and there were 2,200 came through the gate. Many people came out from Marion to every sale. They would bring Chamberlain’s Stomach Bitters – just buggy loads of them – and they would use it and throw the bottles in the grove. There would be hundreds of bottles in the grove and after the sale I would have the men go around and pick them up and bury them because I was ashamed of it. It was not liquor that would make anyone drunk, it was Bitters, but every man had to have a substitute so they would bring those Bitters. They made them in Marion then but they still sold it when Deyet traveled for them.
The last sale before we went to Kansas we sold everything. We took everything we could in wagons but sold our stoves and furniture. Pa wanted to buy trunks but I wouldn’t have them, for I had had good furniture. We had on of the bureaus that was in the first shipment of bureaus to Cedar Rapids and Dell still has it. We juist had our things boxed when we went to Kansas and took them that way. I detest trunks and I thought if I ever began having them around with my things in them I would always have them. When we came back from Kansas to Des Moines we shipped most of our furniture – just sold a little of it and shipped the beds and table.
We liked to have thigs nice on the farm and we kept everything up. Every fence corner was mowed and the place was kept up in tip-top shape. Pa always wrote in all the leases, especially out in Kansas, that all noxious weeds were to be kept down. While we were in Kansas one of the sheep herders saw him one day going around over the country with some implement. He couldn’t tell what it was. He went out where he was and found it was a scythe and he was going around over the section of ground hunting weeds to cut down. At that time rail fences were used a great deal but pa didn’t like rail fences along the side of the road. Our fences in Linn county that faced the highway were board fences, the boards nailed to the posts straight, because it made a nicer looking fence and it was easier to keep the weeds down. The weeds were kept out of the fence corners just as they would be in a garden. If he were alive now he would be a state or county farm demonstrator. Our farm was one place everybody came to and admired.
Besides the fancy hogs we had other fine stock. We bought and shipped cattle and raised gentleman horses. We had the finest bunch of cattle there was in that county. Some were Shorthorns and some pure blooded Devonshire. We stared feeding cattle soon after we were married. We shipped the cattle to Chicago and pa would take them up and then go on to New York to visit his people. Every time he took the cattle to Chicago he brought me a dress or some jewelry or some kind of present.
The children used to go out to the barn and make faces at one of the big horses and he would try to get over at them, it made him so made. They liked to make faces just to see him try to get at them. We had one beautiful team of matched horses that suited pa better than any team he ever had. One day a man came and was determined to buy them. Pa told him they were not for sale, but the man came back and came back until he wore pa out and he sold them. He took them away and put them on the race track. They were both blooded horses. Then pa started out to find another matched team that suited him as well as those but he never found them. After he sold that team he used Doc and Poll, the team we drove to Kansas. He always wanted the best of everything. If anybody else had nice horses, his horses were kept a little better. His harness was always oiled and the nickel parts were always polished. He always had all his farm implements and buggies and wagons painted and varnished at all times. He was a regular customer at the wagon shop in Marion for wagons and buggies. He always had them painted and in good shape. He always bought a wagon that had a big “W” painted on the side.
At one time we had a stallion that had killed his keeper. that is how pa came to get him. he was not afraid of any living horse. Sometimes he drove a three-year-old colt with this stallion and they were a perfect match. The horse hated the colt, just wanted to kill him. One day he got out and took after the colt. A fence was nothing to him – he went right over them. He finally got down in the public road and the colt went under the thorn brush and got away from him. There were two men there and neither one would go after the horse because they were afraid. I followed after him, got hold of his halter strap and put him in the stable. I was just a wreck after I got him in. He could have killed me just as easy as not. Pa always kept stallions but that is the only one I ever handled. I had to get him because it was unlawful for a horse to be loose in the public road. That was the one the children used to make faces at. It used to worry me nearly to death when pa would handle them, for fear of what they might do.
Pa went to Cedar Rapids one day with a load of dead hogs for the soap factory. They gave us two cents a pound for the hogs that died of cholera for their fat. We were feeding cattle and they ran in the cattle pen and the same feed that fed the cattle fed the hogs. A man had brought up some pigs from the south part of the state, black and white Poland China pigs, they were, and pa had bought some of them. Our hogs were well then and I scolded him for brining more sick hogs on the place. It had been extremely cold that winter and we lost the family horse and the family cow. It was so cold and the ground so frozen that we could not bury them. These pigs that he had got in Cedar Rapids ate that cow and horse and from that day we never lost another animal with the hog cholera. He didn’t give very much for them because they were not in good condition. When I scolded him for brining them to the farm he said, “Well, maybe we can start new with them,” and we did, by losing the cow and the horse. Afterwards, whenever there was an animal killed on the railroad that was only three miles from us they would let us know and the railroad would take the hide and horns and we would get the carcass for our hogs. It doesn’t make any difference how bad hog cholera is, if you will feed the hogs flesh it will cure them. That was the last hog cholera we ever had and the beginning of the pig business.
All the children except Rae and Leo were born in Linn county.
When Iva was born, on January 29, 1869, the show was three feet deep and it surely was winter weather. That winter D. S. and George Garettson were living with us but they had gone out on a trade. Pa told them to take a span of mules and trade them for something before they came back, so they were gone three days and Iva came while they were gone and I was truly glad they were for we only had two rooms and I had worried a lot for fear she would come while they were home. But the night she came pa had gone to Hoblitzel’s for a new broom and some groceries. I had been cleaning all day and getting ready for my company. It was a beautiful moonshiny night and while pa was gone to Hoblitzel’s I was looking out of the window at the moon. ‘Twas beautiful, as there was an eclipse that reached half way over it. I just turned around as pa came in with the things. I told him he better go for grandma, as I was sick. Mother lived a mile and a half from us at that time so he just flew down there for her. She could not ride the horse with him so she rode and he walked and led the horse. She was pretty cold when they got there but we had a good fire. I was getting pretty uneasy, as there was no one to do anything for me. I was quite sick for four weeks. Mother stayed with us until we got help. She called Iva her baby and wanted to name her. She said she would like to call her Iva as that had a pretty little blue flower. She thought Iva was a pretty baby. She had lots of nice hair.
When Iva was four and a half months old I put her on a comfort in the middle of the room and went out in the garden to work. When I cam in I could not see her anywhere. She had rolled way back under the bed out of sight. We used valances around the beds at that time. The next day I did the same, came in and found her out on the front door stone. She had rolled down two steps. After that when I went out there was a board fitted in the door. She never crawled – just rolled until she was eight months old, when she commenced to walk.
That year grandpa Weeks came to see us. He was very fond of Iva and held her most of the time while he was there.
That same spring D. S. went west and was gone nine years. When he came back he had been married and his wife had died and mother had asked for Olie. He was two years old that December. Carl is four days older than Olie. Just nine years from the time we bid D. S. goodbye at the corner store in Marion we met him at the same place with Olie in his arms. Olie was a sick child. He had mountain fever. Mother and Izanna and Lowell had a hard time taking care of him, as D. S. had to go back out where he had lived. He was gone two years, when Lo sent for him to come back as Lo had lost his health and their business was in bad shape. He took hold and helped Lo save the business.
Carl was born December 2, 1876. Pa went down to Marion to engage Dr. Own and he told him there was a fine English nurse there that he would rather have for his wife than any doctor in the country but she would cost $10 a week. She took care of me and was paid partly in corn and flour and different things that she needed. She was a widow and needed these things. She was a graduate of St. Thomas hospital in London and her name was Vowels – Auntie Vowels the children always called her. She only lived about a mile from us and she stayed until Carl was three weeks old. That was the first real care I had had when any of the children were born. Della stood around and watched all the things Auntie Vowels did for Carl. She lived until after Dell had graduated from her nurse’s course and she was very much pleased to think she had followed in her footsteps.
Deyet was ten years old when Carl was born. I let him and Iva go to stay all night at Mrs. Vowels’ house and Della went to another neighbor’s and came home early in the morning. Deyet came home in the morning, too, but Iva stayed until afternoon. When Deyet saw her coming, and two or three other children with her, he got up on the gate post and kept singing out – “I’ve got a brother, I’ve got a brother.” He was just so tickled because he had a brother that he couldn’t wait to tell it. It was a great thing to the children to see the new baby.
Carl was born at eight o’clock in the evening and he was a beautiful baby. When Auntie Vowels brought him in to me she said, “Oh, will you ever forgive me for kissing your lovely baby before you do? He is so sweet I couldn’t help it. I have alwayas wanted a baby that looks like this one.” She and the doctor both claimed the baby. The doctor had two sons, Luther and Carl. Dell thought lots of Luther and wanted to name the baby for him. The doctor said, “No, Carl is a better boy than Luther is an if you name him for one of my boys I prefer that you name him after Carl.” So that is the way he got the name Carl. Dr. Owen and Lo were in the drug business together in Marion at that time. I had an uncle Luther and I liked that name but I knew that Carl Owen was a better boy than Luther so I named him Carl.
When he was three weeks old the older children had a Christmas tree for him. Everything they put on was for the baby. They were the happiest young ones ever was to think they were fixing up the Christmas tree for the baby. When he was twelve years old and we lived in Des Moines he wanted a Christmas tree but we couldn’t buy one, so he got a branch of a tree, covered it with cotton himself and trimmed it up for a tree. We all went to bed and he fixed the tree and put the presents on it. He got as much pleasure out of it as through it had been an evergreen we had bought. The last funny Christmas we had was when pa was in Ohio. He sent home a big old grip full of presents. It came three of four days before Christmas. The children were crazy to see what was in it and I hid it in the ash barrel out of doors. Carl and Dell hunted and hunted but they never thought to look in the ash barrel. They looked in the attic and in the basement and everywhere else. I wouldn’t get the grip out until after we had supper over and the dishes were all done. There was something in it for every one of the family.
One Christmas we gave Deyet a little toy with a handle that you twisted and it made noise. I never let that get destroyed and the year before we came out to California I got it out and gave it to Carl and told him to save it for Evert. Evert was named for Deyet and I wanted Carl to save that toy until Evert is big enough to know where it came from. When the children’s father was away from home he always sent a big turkey or goose or a big roast of some kind for Christmas. It would come two or three days before Christmas so I would always have plenty of time.
The summer before little Guy was born the measles were very bad in the neighborhood. I had sent Dell down to mother’s to spend the day. While she was there she wanted to go over to see a friend of hers by the name of Juney Stouttenour. Mother said, “No, Juney has the measles. If you go over there you will get the measles and your mother has never had them.” But Dell thought if Juney was sick she ought to go and see her, so she slipped away and picked some grass flowers and went over to the Stouttenour home. Mrs. Stouttenour said, “Dous your grandmother know you are here?” Mrs. Stouttenour let her in and Dell says she can smell the measles smell yet. When she went back to mother, she brought her home, about a mile, and made her stay out doors while she came in and told us. Pa told mother if she would take care of Dell and Deyet and Iva he would give her $25 and furnish all the food. Instead of taking all three of them at one time, she let them get the measles separately and had them for six weeks. Their father went down to see them every day. They wanted ice lemonade and he hunted all around and found a well where there was ice and got it out for them. Dell cried for pie all the time she was sick. At home we had a long sink with a cupboard underneath. The first day she got home she got in there and ate three quarters of a dried apple pie. She had a fine case of indigestion and has never been able to eat dried apple pie since. When it came Deyet’s turn he said he wouldn’t go unless his dog could go too. He was the last one to go and he hated so to have the measles. he wanted mother to put a quilt by the stove for him to lie on because he said there was fur in the bed. Pa told him he would go back home and get the dog – a great big white pup with big long legs. The pup stayed with him all the time and would lie for hours with his fore legs over Deyet he loved him so.
The first thing Dell did when she got home was to piece a quilt. I had been piecing quilt blocks and she wanted to piece too so I cut out patches and let her piece nine-patch enough for a quilt. It never did get put together until after she was married. Then I got it out and put it together and quilted it and sent it to her for a Christmas present.
Iva wanted a doll when she was sick so when mother went to town she got her one and dressed it like a boy. She called it Teddy. She still had it when she was married. When she was married I had a beautiful rose and she wore it. She put the rose in a box with Teddy after she was married and the last I knew she still had them.
Deyet’s big white pup was poisoned. The wolves had got to killing the lambs. We had quite a flock of sheep and we put poison out to kill the wolves. The pup got it and died. Before that he had got to playing with the hens. We had one hen that we called the duck hen because she set near the well by the fence and I put turkey eggs and duck eggs under her and after she had set a week I would put a hen egg under her. It was the funniest thing you ever saw to see how she acted when her turkey and duck eggs hatched. She didn’t know whether to call them or not, but finally she did. Three years I set her on those eggs and she raised the little turkeys and ducks. One day I went out and the old pup was throwing her up in the air. I told Deyet Rover was going to kill our duck hen and he finally did.
Three years after the children had the measles I had them. I ached so bad and was awfully sick for ten days before I gave up. It was in September when everything needed attention. I kept going all the last week but I was so sick and tired and my bones ached so I could hardly stand it. On Saturday evening I gave out. I had such a hoarse, rough cough that I felt sure I had the measles. I thought back where I had been and knew I had not been anywhere that week to get them because I was not feeling well enough. Pa had been gone nearly all the week. I had been caught in a big rain and I thought maybe I had taken cold. The next day pa said he was going for the doctor because if I didn’t have the measles I ought to have a doctor anyway. When the doctor came he said it was the measles. I had gone to Sunday school and had sat in the same seat where another woman had been. She had come to Sunday school and broke out and went home and just a little bit after that I went in and sat in her seat. She was a big stout, strong woman and didn’t have them very bad.
I used to take Carl to church with me and he would always listen to what the minister said and would never take his eyes off him. The minister used to call attention to it from the pulpit and would say that some older folks might learn a lesson from that child and if he always paid as much attention to the sermon when he got older he would be a fine man.
Della was always around with her father. She knew all about his business and always knew just where to find him. She was a tiny little thing and had beautiful curly hair. She was a great hand for business. She and Deyet used to take the sickles to the blacksmith shop for their father to have them ground. He would tie them around their necks and they would go a mile and a half and wait for them to be ground.
There was a photographer in Marion by the name of Herb Elliott. Every year while he had his studio in Marion he used to have a baby show in the park and gave a prize to the prettiest and nicest baby. Afterwards there was always a story in the paper about it, telling whose baby took the prize. When Carl was seven months old Mr. Elliott had a baby show. I hadn’t intended to take Carl and he wasn’t fixed up for it, but someone came to my house that morning and urged me to take him so I got him ready and took him down to the park. He had on a little white dress and I had tied a blue ribbon across his shoulder and he had beautiful long hair. When I got down to the park a man came by and said, “What kind of stock is this?” and before I thought I said, “Berkshire,” and it made them all laugh. The Berkshires were the finest stock anywhere around. Carl took the prize. There was another woman that wanted the prize for her baby and she never spoke to me after that.
Carl was a perfect child. He never cried. They carried him on their shoulders around the park and he got lost from me. I ran like mad to find him. When I found him the people had given him things to play with from their pockets and were entertaining him so that he was having the time of his life.
Before he was two years old we went to Marion one day and took him with us. On the way down we spoke about getting him a hat. When we got there his father set him on the steps of the store and he went in and got under the counter and fitted himself with a hat. It was great sport to the storekeeper and he wouldn’t let us pay for the hat. He said when a baby under two years old fitted himself to a hat they made him a present of it.
I always loved flowers and plants and grasses of all kinds. One time when Carl was a baby I wanted to take a farmer’s wreath to the state fair. The fair was held at Cedar Rapids then. We went down to Cedar Rapids to do some trading and on the way down I saw some grasses that I wanted for my wreath. I didn’t say anything about it then but on the way back I said to pa that I would like to go over to the meadow and get the grass. He didn’t refuse and I gathered the grasses and he helped me. I took them home and after that I watched and every time I saw anything I knew would look nice in the wreath I saved it. I built the wreath around a barrel hoop and it was a beauty when I finished it. There wasn’t any prize for the wreath at the fair but I just wanted to sent it for the honor. My wreath hung in the horticultural building for three years and there was a nice write-up about it in the paper. I think the wreath hung there until the state fair was moved to Des Moines.
I never was afraid, never feared anything. Once pa and Mr. Mounts, his partner in buying and selling cattle, were coming home from Marion after drawing considerable money out of the bank. They noticed some suspicious looking characters when they were going in the bank and when they came out. Pa was a little disturbed and told me about it, believing they had followed them home. Finally it was decided that the men should sleep upstairs and I should sleep downstairs. Deyet was a little fellow then and I was a very light sleeper. We had a big black and white dog that loved to get into the house, but was never allowed in. That night during supper someone opened the door and he slipped in and got under the bed without anyone knowing it. In the night I heard some extra person breathing in the room. I woke up instantly. I heard the person, whoever it was, turn over and take a long breath. I knew if I gave the alarm the men would come downstairs with revolvers and someone would be shot. So I reached out quietly and turned up the lamp and looked under the bed and saw the old dog.
When Dell and Deyet were little we had a boy working for us from Indiana. He was under-sized and I never saw anybody just like him. Finally he went back to Indiana and married a half colored woman and they had a child every year. At table pa always poured the coffee. This boy used to drink one cup of coffee and pass his cup back for more and he would put his finger in the cup to show how much more he wanted. Pa would always shake the coffee pot a little to make it go on his finger. He would say, “Darn you, you did that on purpose,” and pa would say, “Then keep your finger out of your cup.” And he would say, “Well, I just wanted to show you how much I wanted.” He used to want to go and see a girl but her father wouldn’t allow her to keep company with him if he knew it. One night he slipped off and went to see her and the next morning he over-slept. Pa had taken the plows to the blacksmith shop and had them sharpened up to lay by the corn. The boy was still asleep so he had to go out to the field alone and he rode one of the horses and led the other. When he got off the horse the plow was turned up and he backed her onto it and cut the leaders in her foot. He led her back to the barn and I tried to bind up her foot with my apron. Pa said he would have to shoot her but I poured cold water on her leg and we took good care of her and fed her well and she finally got so she could walk a little, but her foot flopped up and down when she walked. Pa finally traded her off and got about $80. She was one of the finest horses we ever owned.
Another time we had a big Dane working for us, helping feed cattle. He always loaded the wagon and then went around and lifted the back end of it. If he had so much corn on that he couldn’t lift it he would unload until he could lift it before he would let the horses haul it. His names was George Hansen. He was a great big strong fellow and would hold Deyet on one outstretched arm and Dell on the other and Iva hung around his neck. He was a Viking if there ever was a Viking. He loved to play with the children.
One time one of our hired men went to the fair and as he was coming home he met one of the neighbors and the neighbor told him he had seen Charlie Weeks at the fair. The hired man knew pa was at home and said so. But the neighbor still insisted he had seen Charlie Weeks at the fair and the hired man got so mad he didn’t get over it for a long time. Izanna had entered some oil paintings at the fair of pa and me and that is what the neighbor was talking about.
We had so many prairie chickens in Iowa in those early days. Deyet used to make traps and set them around the feeding pens and they would be full of prairie chickens the next morning.
The farm signal that the men were needed at the house was the ringing of the big dinner bell. The horses used to listen for that bell. They knew it was dinner time when they heard that bell and they would hurry to get to the end of the row so they could come to dinner. I rang the bell once in awhile to call pa to the house when someone came to look at pigs or something of that kind, and once Deyet got his fingers caught in the sickle grinder and I had to call them that time.
There was a hard and fast rule that no fishing tackle should ever be set against the ice house platform. Old Uncle Gardner, pa’s youngest brother, who came occasionally from Chicago to visit, was a shoe carpenter. One time when he was visiting us he and Deyet had been fishing one hot day. They were tired and hungry and thirsty when they got back and without thinking they se their poles against the ice house platform. Shortly afterwards Deyet was helping Iva with the churning. While she churned he “skinned the cat” and as usual said, “You can’t do that.” While he churned she tried it and, as usual, got stuck. She threw out her hand to catch something and caught the fish hook in the third finger of her right hand. I had to ring the bell that time, too, to call the men in. It was decided best to cut the finger and lift out the hook. The sharpest razer was sharpened and the hook cut out.
I made lots of butter when we were on the farm in Linn county. That was my trade. I used to get two cents a pound more than anybody else in the neighborhood. I used cheese clothe to wrap the rolls of butter in and the packed butter I packed so the storekeepers in Marion gave me two cents a pound more for it the year around than anybody else got. I took the prize on it at the state fair. I had fifteen regular butter customers in Cedar Rapids and eight in Marion that I furnished with butter the year around. For seven years I did my own marketing with Kit and Sal. The last year I was on the farm I made sixty pounds of butter a week to sell. I filled a sixty-pound tub a week and it was shipped to New York. It the spring we sent out milk to the creamery but they broke up and couldn’t pay us, so I had to do the best I could. I got ten cents a pound for the finest butter you ever saw, and five cents a dozen for eggs, I used to sell twenty dozen eggs a week that summer. If I could have got a third more for my butter and eggs I could have made lots of money. We had a lot of hired men around and it took all I could to furnish the table. I churned every day or every other day. Besides the sixty-pound tub I filled I made all the butter we used ourselves. When the creamery failed they owed us for lots and lots of milk and could only settle for three cents on the dollar.
One time Dell and Deyet and Iva and I started across the creek to a bluff where there were flowers and ferns. We had been topping some turnips and when we finished we decided to go and get some ferns. We had to cross the creek on a log. I was ahead of the children. I don’t know whether I got dizzy or what it was, but I fell off and went into the creek. I didn’t seem to be able to move and I lay there on my back until Dell jumped down and raised me up out of the water. I knew I would drown if I stayed there but for some reason I couldn’t move. It was Dell that saved me. I had a felt skirt on and the water filled the felt skirt and held me down. That was not long after I had the measles and I took such a cold I didn’t get over it for months. I wasn’t used to taking that kind of a bath.
One of the family jokes the children had the most fun over was the way sister Lucy’s father-in-law always said “greaze” instead of “grease.” It always tickled me and it always tickles Carl.
I had one of the first Singer sewing machines that there was in our neighborhood in Linn county. It cost $100. I did lots of sewing for the neighbors. My first sewing machine was a chain stitch. We had a hired man then who wanted me to make him a pair of pants. I didn’t want to do it and I told him if he ever happened to get a stitch broken away from home he wouldn’t have any pants. He said he would run the risk and I finally made the pants. One day in the fall the stitch broke and his pants leg broke from top to bottom. I didn’t use the machine very long. We soon got the singer. That was more than fifty years ago.
Twice in my lifetime I remember of seeing an eclipse, of the sun, once in Linn county and once in Kansas. Many people were frightened at the eclipse in Linn county because they thought the world was coming to an end. It was in the middle of the afternoon and it got dark like twilight. The chickens all west to roost. We had an old turkey gobbler that was the last to go to roost. He couldn’t understand the darkness and acted queer, but he finally started on a run for the roost saying, “Gobble, gobble, gobble.” The stock didn’t know what was happening. I think it must have been in July. We know it was coming and the men came in from the fields. The chickens and stock looked so silly when they went to bed. The eclipse in Kansas was the second summer we were there, in the year 1882. Just before the eclipse there was a wonderful comet extending clear across the northern heavens. It lasted all during the summer. It was a beautiful sight out there on the plains where you could see so plainly. It reached from one side of the earth to the other and was the most beautiful thing you ever saw.
D. S. and Lo made their home with us off and on while we were in Linn county. After father died mother and Izanna gave up the big house and lived in a small cottage by the Dunkard Church. The part of the farm with the big house on was sold. She tried to rent it out but she only got a third of the crop. It wasn’t enough to pay taxes and live so the place had to be sold. As D. S. and Lo grew up pa urged them to go to school They went to country schools there and both attended Mt. Vernon. D. S. only went one term to Mt. Vernon, then went to Chicago and took up veterinary under Dr. Dadd. D. S. was just fifteen years old then and it was the first time he had ever been in a large city. He only had $50 in his pocket and had to work his way through the veterinary school He worked for his board and room and lived with Dr. Dadd. He went the first of September when the term opened and graduated in the spring. He went from Chicago to Clinton, Iowa, and undertook to establish himself as a veterinary surgeon. He got the measles and nearly died. Pa had to go down and bring him home.
Lo went to Mt. Vernon three years and graduated and then went to work in the drug store. After that he went to Brooklyn, N. Y., and studied pharmacy there.
My father was one of the only college men in that settlement and he had wanted all his children to go to college. Mother was different and didn’t thing it was necessary for them to go to college. She was a plain, practical frontier woman and a Dunkard and she did not believe in higher education. I was fourteen when father died, Lucy twelve, Mary sixteen. Our guardian had a scholarship at Mt. Vernon and when his own children were not using it he let our family use it. The three older ones, Lucy, Mary and I never got to go, but the three younger ones all did.
Izanna went to Mt. Vernon three years. She was a beautiful girl and she loved music and art. She took up oil painting the summer she graduated. She was very blue and despondent when she came home. The Dunkards were opposed to musical instruments and mother didn’t thing Izanna ought to have a piano. Izanna said she would just rather die than not have one and take music lessons and art. It cost $700 for the piano and it seemed foolish to mother. Izanna finally exchanged painting lessons with a woman for music lessons.
If we had not used our influence with mother the younger ones might never have got their college education. Both my father and my grandfather went to college in Springfield, Mass. Always while Lo and D. S. were in school or away any place pa wrote to them. Sometimes he wouldn’t write more than eight of ten lines but he wrote with the utmost frequency. He never was out of touch with them, and it meant a lot to these boys without a father. D. S. was a rover. Sometimes when he would feel the urge to start out he would whirl around like a dog getting ready to lie down and whichever way his face was turned when he stopped he would start.
The Hoblitzel’s lived on the first farm north of us. They had a big mill. Mr. Hoblitzel couldn’t write English and pa always did his writing and business for him. They always gave the children presents four times a year, Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, and Easter.
The young life of the children on the Linn county farm was very pleasant. One thing their father always expected of them was that they know where they lived, who all their county officers were and their state officers. They had to know the section and the range and the township they lived in and how to find where they were, especially out in Kansas on the prairie. They were always taught to meet people and whenever anyone came, no matter who it was, a state senator or anyone else, he always brought him in and introduced him to all his children. Carl was so cute everybody always spoke to him and made a fuss over him. He never was like a baby in his life – always like somebody grown up.
One time I told Iva if she wanted to do something for me she could feed the geese and chickens. When she mixed the meal she used all there was in the barrel and needed some more. The rats were awfully bad and I had taken corn meal and chicken feed and mixed strychnine with it and set it out for the rats, but I got up early in the morning and set it in the smoke house where the chickens couldn’t get it. Iva looked round for more meal, spied this pan and mixed it in with the chicken feed. She fed the geese and turned her back to go to the house. In ten minutes the geese were all dead, young and old. Dell and I were out in the milk house. When Iva saw what had happened she ran to me screaming and said the old turkey was dead. It was terrible the way they suffered before they died – big chickens, little chickens, old turkey gobbler and everything.
Dell and Deyet could climb any tree but Iva always got stuck or caught on a limb or something. Dell was little and quick and Iva was fat and slow. Dell and Deyet could get through any kind of a hole in the fence but when Iva tired to go through the same hole she always got stuck and Deyet would have to come around and pull her out.
Dell always liked to do the things her father wanted done. She took care the cupboard when she was nine years old. Pa used to say she always kept the cupboards the same way so we could go to them in the dark and find anything we wanted. He liked to have things that way. In his veterinary business and on the farm he had a place for everything and everything would be in its place – the machinery and nail boxes and everything of that kind.
Dell always had very definite ideas even when she was a little thing. When she was thirteen years old she wanted to go in a convent.
Through pa’s influence the children had good school teachers in Iowa. He was intolerant of mediocre ability in any line. He never would keep a hired man who did not read. The best hired man could not stay long unless he read. He suspected anyone who would sit around and not read or listen to someone else read. He had his business desk and after supper he would look after his business correspondence and then expected to read aloud. The Hoblitzels had a son who went all over the country. He would bring back all kinds or treasures. Among them was a history of 1,000 pages and father read that aloud. Every book Lo read came to us and was read aloud to the children. A man by the name of John Bowman came to Marion on time – just a tramp mining engineer. He came to our house one rainy night. Pa took him in and straightened him up and through his recommendations had him appointed state mine inspector. After John Bowman went east he sent us Will Carlton’s Farm Ballads and pa read them to the children. I think they almost knew them by heart. He had a very musical reading voice and the neighbors used to come Sunday afternoons and evenings to hear him read the Farm Ballads. Another book we had was “The Underground Book,” a wonderful book on miners, and the history of Livingston. Then there was the history of Brigham Young’s nineteenth wife. She made a trip to Marion one time and Dr. Owen doctored her and cured her. She left the Mormons. The book gave a history of her when she was a little girl crossing the plains. Lo was a great reader and student and he and pa exchanged everything they read at all times. Pa used to take the Police Gazette and the New York Weekly. There was nothing going on that was not in those papers.
A lot of the mental training of the children was due to a teacher they had in Linn county. I think his name was Latham. He was from the east. He taught fourteen consecutive terms and was there when we left. His idea of a school room was to have it so quiet you could hear a pin drop. I don’t think the children ever saw him drop a pin but they believed he dropped them. That was foolish but it taught them concentration. He never let them move their lips when they studied. He also trained their memories. A part of the success of Dell and Deyet was attributed to that man laying the foundation for mastery. When Dell went back to Des Moines from Kansas and entered training as a nurse she was a perfect marvel for the pages of doctor books she could read and absorb in a day. She could not only recite, but could do what the books said to do day after day. Deyet had a wonderful mind. He went from the prairie school in Kansas, apparently just an indifferent scholar, nut he had the foundation and went to school in Denver and made himself known.
The last summer we were on the farm we had so many men it would be so late before the children would get their dinner (the men always ate first) that I let them have their dinner out under the trees. They would fix a little table and had such good times. I had so much cooking to do that summer. I cooked so many chickens I kept track of them and I cooked eighty.
I used to have lots of hair. One day when Carl was two years old I was quilting and he came and stood by me and looked up at me so funny. Then he got a chair and climbed up beside me and took my hair down. He combed and brushed it and tried to fix it up again but he couldn’t get it up. From that time until he was a big boy he liked to comb my hair and he did it nearly every day. I loved to have him do it.
When he was about two years old he had scarlet fever. He was terribly sick and I never had my dress off for twenty-seven days and nights. A few times Auntie Vowels or his father would take care of him for a little while until I could slip out of one set of clothes and into another. Soon after that we noticed his hearing was not good. He wasn’t very well either and the doctor told us if we would get him a high, dry climate it would help him. He began to improve right away when we went to Kansas and by the time we came back to Iowa he was a big healthy boy.
That year pa went to Kansas and took up a timber claim in Thomas county. He was one of the very first men that ever took a timber claim. I didn’t want him to go because I was afraid he would want to move down there and I didn’t want to leave the farm in Linn county. While he was gone I ran the farm with two hired men and had the farm all fixed up and everything cleaned up and whitewashed, including the fence. The building lot was cleaned up, the weeds cleared out of the fence corners and everything raked up. When he came back he insisted that we should go down there to live. All but twenty acres of the farm was mine. He had borrowed some money of old Dr. Owen and gave a mortgage on the farm but the farm was worth a good deal more than the money he borrowed. We had lived there seventeen years after we were married and I had lived on it as a child and I didn’t want to let it go, but in the end it seemed best, so it was sold and we got only a little out of it. Sometimes now I think it was the best thing to go to Kansas. There were a good many rough people around Marion then and maybe if we had stayed my boys might have been like many others and not have amounted to anything. So it may have been best in the long run. Dell would not have taken up her nursing work if she had stayed there and Carl and Deyet might not have been able to accomplish what they did. I have thought of it lots of times and thought it was all planned for the best.
Pa was just in love with Kansas when he came back. He told about it and how wonderful it was an dhow you could stand in the middle of a claim and see a jack rabbit on all four corners of the claim. A flat country like that appealed to every farmer because such a farm would be easy to farm. Besides, he had another good idea. There were lots of buffalo and antelope there and he figured if buffalo and antelope could live the year around why couldn’t he raise stock without expensive feed. They told him the climate was wonderful too.
We had a tenant house on the farm and always had a family living in it. The man always kept a supply of wood and helped me with my garden and everything like that. That year we had a family named Bradner. Old man Bradner was a tall man with a hair lip and very limited mentality. I don’t know where they were from but his ideal team was a “span of jinnies.” Old man Bradner would sit around in open mouthed wonder when pa told about Kansas and its beauties and advantages and he said, “If I just had a span of jinnies I’d go with you.” But he couldn’t get the span of jinnies so he couldn’t go.
We made the trip overland. We had two covered wagons with feed boxes on the back and everything was neat and tidy. It was then that mother gave me the old skillet. Dell and I drove one wagon all the way. When we started out the first team was our team of gold dust sorrels, stepping on their tiptoes, with arched necks. The second team was a wonderful span of roans, both find heavy horses. The winter Carl was born we gave Deyet a horse and saddle to go to the post office. It was a dainty pony named Nelle. He rode her all the way to Kansas. He was twelve and a half years old. Our Wagons were varnished, the harness oiled, every ring and buckle polished, the wagon covers just as white as they could be, with black oil cloth over the top. Pa’s great idea was to show people they could be clean and do things right and we were a good looking bunch of movers. John Lanning went with us and rode a beautiful black horse, Babe.
We had a tent twelve by fifteen feet. We would make a bed down in the tent for pa and the boys – two men, Deyet and pa. Iva was ten years old and she slept in her father’s arms all the way out. Dell and Carl and I slept in one of the wagons. We had to put the tent up every night when we made camp. As quick as we would stop to camp pa would ten the horses and one man would set up the tent. Everyone had their work to do. Deyet and I would gather up the wood and start the fire, Dell fixed years old. Pa used to go and buy the feed for the horses and the other man that didn’t set the tent had to help feed and water the horses and care for them. There were six horses. The gold durst team was named Doc and Poll. Doc was a great favorite. We got him when Carl was a baby. Old Dr. Owen owned him. The mother of this horse Dr. Owen’s wife drove from Vermont to Iowa and that was the only gold dust blood there was in Linn county. We all petted and loved him. Dr. Owen had let a man by the name of Smith have the colt and pa wanted him. Dr. Owen was at our house and pa said to him. “Why don’t you let me have that colt?” Smith’s field was always full of weeds and burs and pa said when you see a man’s field like that you know he is no good. So Dr. Owen wrote an order and pa sent a man over to Smith’s and got the cold and brought him over. We nicknamed him “Doc,” on account of Dr. Owen. On the trip to Kansas Poll kept getting so thin and Doc kept getting fatter and finer. So we watched and found out that when they were eating he would nip her and keep her back from the feed. Doc was a real gold dust color. The first team we ever had saw Sal and Kit. Kit belonged tome. They ran away when they were twenty-two years old. They would always run off for pa but I could drive them anywhere. They seemed to know the minute I got hold of the lines.
We had had the cattle — full blooded registered Shorthorns — shipped to the Missouri river and from there we drove them through. I think we had twenty one head and we had to wait three days for them to come. When they came we ferried over the river. While we waited for the cattle to come the men greased the harness wand varnished the wagons and just got everything into tip-top shape. We had long leather nets on our horses and they looked awfully nice.
Once we got in a big heavy rain and had to stop and camp before night. Where we stopped they had a big barn and they let us run the wagon in the barn. There were so many emigrants going out all the time we always found a camp ground where someone else had been. They would camp in the most suitable places.
It was hard to find fuel enough to cook with so we saved all the corn cobs from the horses’ feed and picked up what sticks we could find. I got so I could cook a meal twice as quick over a camp fire as I could over a stove. I took a lot of shelled beans with me and they would cook quickly. I had put up a six gallon jar of butter and had carried lots of other things to eat. I baked biscuits in my skillet over the campfire. Everybody was so hungry they could eat anything. One of the hired men ate an extra big meal one night and I thought he was eating too much so I said, “It is a good think I am making biscuits because that is the only way I can get my hands clean.” It made him so mad. He said it made him sick. Our hands got very sore and chapped. He didn’t eat so many biscuits after that.
When we got over in Nebraska we all got alkalied, and were sick. We had taken cholera remedy with us that my brother had given me and it helped us all. We shared with other afflicted the same way and nearly robbed ourselves. We stopped at a little town and the doctor told us if we had been living on back and pork we would not have been alkalied so bad. We had got a nice big piece of beef and cooked it and took it with us. We got the alkali water from a creek. It was so good and cold and pretty nobody would think there would be anything the matter with it.
We were seven weeks on the way. We left Marion on the 7th of October, 1879, and arrived in Jewell county, Kansas, where pa had taken a timber claim, in November. We had intended to pasture the cattle but there was no feed and after we had tried first one place then another we had to sell them at a great loss, as there was no demand for high bred cattle. You homesteaded for so long and if you did not set our your trees the government took the land back. We never saw the homestead. We rented a place in Jewell county about eight miles from Jewell City and a few miles from the Beeler place. The Beelers had come from Linn county too and were feeding cattle. When pa had first gone down to Kansas to look things over he had taken two claims in Thomas county. It was awfully dry and he hired a man to plow. You had to do so much plowing on them in order to hold them. The ground was so dry and hard the man couldn’t plow, so pa never went back to hold his claims there. Afterwards the town of Colby was located on those claims. We just stopped in Jewell county until we could find another place to take the cattle to. We had two hired men with us to take care of the cattle. The house we had was built of limestone and was very porous. It was built in a single layer of limestone and the frost came right through. Even the bed clothes used to freeze fast where they toughed the walls. Part of the fuel we used was buffalo chips. They were just as clean as any other fuel and made a good fire but pa didn’t like to use them.
It was only a day’s drive from there to the buffaloes. People would drive out one day, kill buffaloes one day and drive back the next. Pa took a team and went out scouting around for a place where he could take the cattle. He went down into Rooks county and when he came back he brought dried buffalo meat and buffalo jerk. In fact, buffalo meat was all the meat there was, because the people were just folks who had come out there, taken up their claims, and had not yet procured hogs and cattle for meat.
One day while we were living there in Jewell county pa and I went to town. We had a glass oil can with a tin cover. I looked at the oil can before we left and there was about a quart and a half of oil in it so i thought that was enough and didn’t take it with me. Dell was going to get dinner for the children and John Brockman, who was with us then. We had green wood to burn, and the fire didn’t start very well so she took a piece of wood out of the stove, held the can up and poured oil on the stick of wood. The oil ran down the stick and dropped into the fire in the stove. The fire followed the oil right up and blew the can up in Dell’s hand and set fire to her apron and ran all over the room. It just left the bail of the can in Dell’s hand. She was frightened and started to run out of the house. Deyet and John were on the porch and as she passed them John caught her aprong and threw her on her face. That put the fire out. If john had not been there just as she ran out she would have been terribly burned and would have set the whole place on fire because she was running right into the corn stalks. When I got home I fixed her up with Chamberlain’s salve and she lay for five weeks with her eyes covered, but she recovered without a scar. If I had not had that salve she would have been a sight the longest day she lived. As it was, she didn’t have a single scar. The glass from the can was blown clear into the ceiling and side walls. Poor Dell went right on trying to get dinner after they put the fire out. She was about fourteen then, Deyet was twelve and Iva ten. I had mixed bread before I started to town and Dell had to bake the bread. We were making lie hominy too and she had to change the corn. When she changed the corn the fire was low and she wasn’t used to green wood. She wanted the fire to burn up quick. It burned her eye brows and eye lashes off and blistered every finger. I cut out masks of cloth and put over her face and kept them on her for five weeks.
In pa’s travels around looking for a place for the cattle he got out in Rooks county into what is called Paradise Flats and found the little town of Plainville. Paradise Flats is the most beautiful valley anybody every lived in. It is fifteen miles wide and forty miles long. There were only nine houses in the town at that time. Plainville was located where 460 acres of ground. He wanted pa to buy the store and take over the verbal contract. Pa took over the contract and we moved from Jewel county to Plainville in March, 1880. We kept the store for a year and nine months and then lost it. As the town progressed the people did not want to give pa the acre of ground. You had to live on the land seven years before you could prove up. When we had been there six years the man that had given pa the verbal contract, a man by the name of Frisbie, started one Sunday morning to drive to Curwood, forty away, to sign up for the acre. After he left Dell drove sixteen miles to Stockton, got another team and drove the rest of the way to Curwood and when they signed in to prove up she signed a protest in her own name, because they had agreed to give us the acre. Then pa came in on the train and turned in his evidence, but the government ruled against us. The testimony was taken down in long hand. They had a witness go with them who was a great friend of ours and when Dell passed their team this man got out and rode part way with her. She drove all the forty miles alone and got in ahead of them. Leo has the contest papers.
We took the cattle down to Rooks county. When they needed more pasture there they went on into Graham county, from there to Trego county near Wakeeney, and from there to Ellis county. Before they were through they had gone back thirty miles to get pasture.
The store was frame and back of it and attached to it was a sod house. There was just one big living room in the house and one room upstairs, with an outside stairway, to take the whole family into – Deyet, Iva, Dell and Carl. We ate, slept, and cooked in those two rooms. We kept adding to it until it was seventy feet long. The original house was sealed with broad boards, with paper on top. We whitewashed every three months and painted once a year and I always kept the house looking nice. The west couldn’t have been settled if it hadn’t been for sod houses. They plowed the sod and then cut it in chucks about two feet wide. They built up the walls by turning one piece of sod one way and the next piece the other way to break the joints. When the sod was damp enough so it would not break they could build nice walls. But when we built ours there had been no rain for so long it was too tender, so it broke. A sod house is very warm in winter and very cool in summer.
Soon after we bought the store we built on thirty feet to the house. The new addition was eight feet high. The walls were plastered with native lime right on the sod and whitewashed. It made a nice white plaster and it was just as hard as could be as long as you could keep water off of it. If you turned at stream of water on it it would come off. The rooms were papered overhead, and my room was papered on the walls.
Some people built sod roofs on their sod houses but we had a shingle roof. The lumber that was used in our house was freighted from what is now Stockton, Kansas, overland. The knot holes in the lumber were full of bed bugs. Nobody could build a new house that didn’t have bed bugs.
Pa built the walls of our house high enough so that when he put on the long sloping roof we had two rooms upstairs. The windows were set in about eight inches from the outer wall. The walls were two and a half feet thick. On the inside the walls around the windows were rounded so they looked like bay windows. The windows were boarded at the top and bottom. Every window was full of plants. Along beside the windows were shelves made by cutting boards to a point and driving them into the sod wall. I had a plant on every shelf. It was nothing to have a hundred plants in the windows. At one time I had forty-three varieties of geraniums. When Leo was born Dell and Iva let the north door blow open and froze all my plants. It was awfully cold and there was lots of snow. They got up and fastened the door the best they could and the next morning we had it nailed up, but my plants were spoiled just the same.
The boards used for flooring and partitions in the house were white pine. The floors were scrubbed to keep them white and clean. In the south dining room door the boards were always having to be repaired because every time Doc got loose he walked up to the house hunting sugar and if nobody was at the door and it was open Doc walked in, with damage to the boards. The doorways were made just like the windows. The stairway was enclosed.
The curtains at the windows were usually made of white cheesecloth. Cheesecloth was then as good material as marquisette is now. Izanna and I had made some pillow shams together and I used them on the beds. They had ruffles around them and a big “W” in the center. All the beds were kept in white.
Some men came one time to Plainville to start a paper. It was in February and it snowed and the wind blew and it was a terribly cold, raw day, but we had a clean white floor and the windows were full of blooming plants and those men said they had read of flowers in Paradise but had never seen them until that day.
It was a surprise to everybody that came the way I had our house trimmed up when I had so little to do with. I would gather up acorns and pine cones and whatever I could get and varnished them and you wouldn’t believe the things I made for every corner of the house, and I sold lots of them. I sent back to Izanna for a box of pine cones and she sent them to me and I used every one of them. Whenever I saw a pretty blade of grass I saved it. Some I crystallized and some I colored green, and made bouquets of them. I had lots of snail shells and pretty little stones and I made cornucopias and covered them with the little stones and put bouquets of grass in them. When in rained I set them out and let it rain on them to wash the dust off. I kept everything up around the house and made it as beautiful as I could and the children never forgot it. If you could have seen the look on some people’s faces when they came into the dining room. They didn’t expect to come into a sod house out there in Kansas and find it looking like that inside. Rae and Leo can’t remember the grasses and things I used in the house in Kansas because they were little when we left there and the things were not suitable to bring back to Iowa.
We had a pet owl and when it died I had it stuffed and put it in a frame with some stuffed quail I had. I had a frame made around a box three of four inches deep. I doubled brown paper into pointed shapes and made rosettes and designs of them and glued them onto this frame, then I varnished them and put the quail and owl inside the frame. I made a wreath of ferns and grasses and put it around the quail. It made a beautiful picture to hang in the sitting room.
I made corner shelves and what-nots out of the folded brown paper and had beautiful things to put on them – shells and stones and whatever was nice to decorate with. I saved ever piece of brown paper I could find to make up into things for the house.
When Carl was five years old he and I went to Des Moines on a visit. While we were there Izanna and I made a lovely great big wax wreath and we had an oil painting made of Carl from a picture taken when he was two years and nine months old. I took the wax wreath back to Kansas with me and had a frame made for it twenty by twenty-four inches. I put flowers in the corners and Carl’s picture in the center. Carl has the picture now. We had oil paintings of mother and father, too, and this wax wreath in the frame and the oil paintings were beautiful on the walls. When people would go into that dining room with all those things in it they would go crazy over those beautiful things because nobody had such lovely things down there. They couldn’t belive a sod house could have so much beauty in it.
Back of the store was a good sized stable. The man we bought the store of had the contract for changing the horses for the stage from Fort Hayes to Stockton, a forty-six mile trip across the country, and we took over the contract. We let Deyet have the contract for changing the horses when he was fourteen years old. His profits that year were something like eighty or ninety dollars. Deyet was always a business man. He never made much fuss about it, but he never was anything but an efficient business man. About that time he sold the pony he rode from Iowa to Kansas. She had never been shod and the prairie grass wore her feet off. He had always taught Nelle to consider girls a general nuisance. One day he was out in the barn currying her and Iva went out and made some remark about her and she stepped back and kicked her squarely in the stomach. After Deyet sold Nelle he bought a sorrel pony named Billy. He broke Billy and trained him so he wouldn’t let anyone else get on his back. He always said he wasn’t going to have riff-raff riding Billy. After Deyet went to Des Moines and got on his feet financially one of the first investments he made was the purchase of a good riding horse. His first horse was Rex and another was Star Russell. Carl and Rex were the handsomest combination in Des Moines.
There was no place for the people that came on the stage to eat. They had been going around in the town getting places to eat, so we fed them at twenty-five cents each. That was the way we worked into the hotel business. I did the cooking and Dell waited on the Table. Dell would leave school at eleven o’clock to come home and wait on table. Finally she gave up school altogether. The driver that came up from Hayes was always late so there were continual meals from eleven to about three in the afternoon. There were two teams. One came at eleven and the other at three, the exact time of arrival depending on freight and the number of passengers. There was lots of work to do. We had to wash every night. Sometimes we used to wash and iron a hundred and fifty napkins a day. Dell helped me with the baking. She baked the corn bread and cakes and I baked the bread. The Santa Fe and Union Pacific Railroad surveyed a line into Plainville, and both railroad parties stopped at our hotel. The day the railroad came in we fed a hundred and twenty people. Dell was never seen to wait on table without a clean white apron. I made a nice lot of white aprons out of flour sacks and Dell and I both work black and white dresses. They looked nicer and cleaner with a white apron than any other way we could dress. When we were working Iva and Dell and I always wore white aprons under our colored ones and we always took off the colored aprons before we went to the door when anyone came. At that time the little Martha Washington aprons were in style and we had a lot of them.
Soon after we began changing horses for the stage and giving people meals we had to have more room because traveling men and different people wanted to stay all night, and that was when we built onto the sod house.
The second or third year we were there a store was built on the west side of the street and one across the corner, called the Ordway Store. Telephones were just beginning to come in then and the men and boys around town made on and connected up the stores so they could talk to one another. That was the first telephone we ever had.
After having lived on the farm in Iowa where everything was in such excellent shape we had a hard time to fit ourselves into conditions as they were in Kansas. The first four months we were in Kansas the wind blew incessantly and there was not a drop of rain. The first spring I made a big garden and planted everything so nice. But the wind blew terribly and blew all the seeds away and the dirt was blown away from the potatoes. My flower seeds were blown away too and later I found my petunias away down in the draw where the seeds had been blown and they had come up. The people raised nothing at all on their claims that year but sod corn. To plant sod corn they just stuck an instrument down in the sod to make a hole, dropped the corn in, covered it up and let it come up through the sod. They had wonderful crops of the sod corn but it was so infested with worms that it gave the horses blind staggers. The people brought it in by the wagon loads and they had to exchange it for good or starve to death, so we took it at fifteen cents a bushel and had it piled out by the barn. At one time we had three thousand bushels piled out there. We gave the people groceries in exchange for it to keep them alive during the winter. Pa was always big hearted. Anybody that came in and told a hard luck story he gave them a big bill of groceries. We had men sort the corn and take out the very best ears and we sent several loads to Hayes city in hopes of trading it for coal. The corn sold for less in Hayes City than it cost the men to haul down. We paid $20 a ton for coal many a time and it had to be hauled thirty miles. That was what became of the main stock of goods in the store – it went to help keep the people alive during that hard winter. There were three straight years of drouth.
We used to have awful storms down there. The wind would blow for three days from the south and then turn around and blow three days from the north. It would come up so suddenly you wouldn’t have time to get away from it. One time I was washing and was just hanging out my sheets when the wind whipped around the corner of the house and threw me against the clothes line post and hurt me so bad that I didn’t get over it for years. The sheets were blown all around and Dell had to get another boy to help Carl hunt them. It was about eleven o’clock and the doctor was out in the country and I couldn’t get him to look after men until four in the afternoon.
If was funny how the wind would blow from one direction and then turn around and blow from the opposite direction. One day when the wind was blowing from the south one of the Skirvin boys lost his hat. The wind just picked it off his head and blew it away. A few days later the wind changed and began blowing from the north and blew his hat back.
There was a man had one little room across the street from us. We rented it for the men to sleep in. He had a straw tick for himself at night but in the day time he would put it outside. Every day I would go in and make up the beds. One day a big wind came up and blew his straw tick five miles north and the next day it blew from the north and blew that straw tick back, and it hadn’t blown that straw out. The man’s name was Bradley. He had to sleep in one of my beds that night.
One time the tumble weeds blew down and piled up as high as the house. I never saw such a stack of tumble weeds in my life. But the wind finally turned and blew them all back again and there wasn’t a single one left there. It was the funniest sight I ever saw.
When it was so awfully hot we would hang wet sheets up at the doors and windows to keep the dust out and make the house livable. The tin ware would be so hot in the house it would burn you to hold your hand on anything.
The dining room had a door in the south and one in the north side. When the wind blew from the south you had to go around and come in at the north door.
I could always tell when there was going to be a storm. If you see a blow fly or a little gnat out of season it means a change in the weather. I never knew it to fail. Over fifty years ago I ready a story about a man who was in prison during war time. He had made a study of spiders and flies. The army was about to be destroyed and this man, from watching the flies, knew it was going to turn cold, so he gave them warning that if they would get skates and give them to their men the could skate and save the army. It turned cold and froze until the army skated clear out of reach of the enemy. I remembered that story and I have watched ever since and never saw it fail. The louder the blow flies buzz the heavier the wind and storm will be. One time while we were in Kansas, from the fifteenth to the nineteenth of April the blow flies were terribly thick. I put the mocking bird out where he could get at them but they were so thick he filled himself up on them but you couldn’t tell that one was gone. On the ninetieth of April the snow came and it piled up five feet high. It was so deep I had to hire it shoveled away from the door so people could get up to the hotel. Three times in my life there has been a heavy snow on the nineteenth of April, twice in Iowa and once out west, and each time the flies buzzed around, and after the storm they were not seen again until natural fly time.
The fleas and bedbugs were awful in Kansas. One time I killed seventeen fleas along one seam of my clothing, and I don’t know how many got away. The bedbugs were so bad in the hotel that I couldn’t stand it. I tried everything and finally we bought new bedsteads and I painted everything with carbolic acid and that got rid of them. The carbolic acid stained everything brown that it touched but that was a lot better than having the bugs. People got to know our hotel as the one where there were no bedbugs and I have had men come to stay all night and they would take off their coats and hang them over the fence around the yard because they said they had been in a place the night before that was full of bugs and they didn’t want to bring them in . Every new house that was built had bugs and it was no wonder, nbecause the lumber they were built of was full of them. A lumber yard was started in Plainville and one of the boys that brought in a load of lumber came down to dinner one day and said he had killed over five hundred bugs while he was brining in a load.
I shared my plants with every person who came. If there wasn’t but one slip on a plant, I would give it to somebody so they could have the pleasure of the green, growing things in their windows too. I Started plants for people who felt they couldn’t start them, and I taught them the gospel of making and raising things of beauty, and the spark of hope was kept alive in man y a home during those trying years by the blooming plants in the windows. They were the only growing, green things the people had. You could go into a sod house or perhaps a dug-out and some woman would be just filled with pride to show the plants I had given her.
We had so little to do with and we had to make use of every little thing to make our home pleasant. I used to pick every pretty leaf I saw and pressed it and made them into bouquets that I pinned on the window curtains, and I made a vine of them and hung it over the dining room door. People said they never saw autumn leaves show up like mine did.
When we started the hotel the men lived to stay there because it was pleasant and clean. One traveling man stopped at our house for eight years and he said he never stopped there and saw a dirty table cloth or dirty lamp chimney. Dell took care of the tables and the lamps and she never allowed either one to the to dirty. Another old man roomed and boarded with us for several years and he said he never at a poor pie or poor breat at our house.
On june 14, 1906, a friend of Dell’s, Catherine Cline, had a poem about our sod hotel in the Plainville TImes, Plainville, Kansas, dedicated to Dell.
The Old Sod Dear Dell, oft at eve, when my house work is finished And I sit by the fire, or the window, to sew, Fancy flits to my side, with light brush And deft fingers, and paints for me Pictures of the sweet long ago. Oh, swiftly she paints and my work Soon forgotten, enraptured I gaze As each fair scene doth grow, Till at last there, serene, deep in Rifts of bright sunshine Appears "The Old Sot," with its Roof broad and low. With its deep alcove windows, Where house plants so fragrant In old-fashioned jars and sweet luxury bloom; Its snowy white walls and Crisp ruffled curtains, and Inviting and cozy, its neat homelike rooms. Oh, sweet are the thoughts which in my heart awaken, As I gaze on that picture which Fancy portrays; and over my Soul, sweeps a flood of bright sunshine, Like that which illumined Those bright by-gone days. Those sweet by-gone days, when So often together, we've sat and Conversed, (Oh, that beautiful yore) And built fairer castles Than in fact or in fable, Have ever been pictured by writers of lore. And truant from care, through Sweet fancy's persuasion, I wander with her through the Past's fair domain and soon All my cares and my sorrows forgotten, I am with you once more In the "Old Sod" again. Together once more, in that loved Little north room, Oh, what Room in a castle could with it compare. So cozy, so quite, to slumber, inviting, Surely angels or rest Loved to fold their wings there. I hear happy voices And musical laughter floods all the old house with sweet melody and smiles as there falls on my ear happy echoes of bright, witty sayings And quick repartee. Before me appears The dear form of your mother, I hear her low voice, and Her sweet mother face is lit by those dark eyes, where shines the reflection of a soul that is radiant with God;s Holy grace True type of true womanhood, Patient and gentle, her home is her world, all unselfish her love, One whose heart, none but God and angels Could fathom for its springs are deep hidden in Heaven above. I see the three children - Little Leo, your idol, looks up with great solemn, wondering eyes; While playing about With their loved little wagon, Rae and Carl View the world in dreamy surprise. Ah, dear old Sod House, Sunny days that have vanished, How little we prized them When they were our own. Now the past claims them All as her own treasure and will not restore The sweet joys we have known Will not give back the Old Sod with its sunshine. Reunite the dear ones 'Neath broad roof again, bring back the bright dreams And the hoys of our girlhood E'er we knew the great future Held sorrow and pain. But oft as an angel from Lands Elisian fancy comes To me here in the evening's glow, Brining joy to my heart, Her beautiful pictures, Her enchanting pictures Of sweet long ago.
All during those years in Kansas I ordered patterns from Butterick. I was the only person in that whole county who ordered patterns and the people used to come and se the patterns and give me the money to send and get one for them. I used my own stamps to order the pattern and frequently the pattern had to be sent on and that cost another stamp or two. I taught the people the best I could the gospel or home adornment. The years were so hard and the people so discouraged. They did not know how to make use of things like I did. I used cheese cloth and flour sacks and such thing as that for curtains and for the children’s clothes.
One time when we went down to the river I found such a lot of pretty little stones and rocks. I had the children help me and we gathered up a great lot of them and took them home. I wanted something to put my plants on and I had crosses made of boards and glued the little stones to them and they made lovely stands for my plants. Everybody that came into the house admired them and wondered where I got them. I had gathered up a lot of snail shells too and that winter we had our Christmas celebration at the school house. We were in the general store then and had lots of empty cigar boxes. I took those cigar boxes and coveredc them with the little stones and the snail shells all over the outside. Then I put nice little notes in the boxes. I made eight or ten of them and the people tha got them thought they never did have such pretty presents.
When pa went to buy calico and other things for the store I always told him to buy me a dress that was different from any body else’s because I didn’t want things like everybody else. And he always did. I never wore my clothes out. I traded them to an old lady for helping me clean house. She didn’t have clothes and she would help clean for a couple of days for my old dresses. People used to ask me where I got my pretty dress patterns and why couldn’t they get them too.
There was an old crippled woman that used to come once a year and make up all my old rags into prugs so I never had any old rags about. We could use the rugs in a number of places and she made them up on shares and so made a little monyey for herself.
Rae and Leo were both born in Kansas. When Rae was born there were two other babies born the same week. Carl was awfully proud of our baby and he took it upon himself to keep the bed decorated with flowers. Twice a day he would go out on the prairie with his dog Jim and get flowers. He always used to say Jim ran ahead of him and picked out the flowers. He would put them on the bed and say, “Now, mon, do you think the other babies are decorated like ours?” You never saw a bed decorated as pretty in your life. I had the spread on the bed that Grandma Weeks had woven and the flowers showed up so nicely. They were wild roses and other wild flowers. The fall before Carl and I had been back to Des Moines and mother had given me a monthly rose and I had a pink carnation and a heliotrope and they were all in bloom when Rae came on the sixteenth of June. The fragrance from the heliotrope and the carnation was all the company I needed. There were five roses on the rose bush. I never saw a prettier window than my window of bloomin gplans, and the fragrance was so nice. I had a parlor ivy, too, that had grown up and reached clear over the window. I kept the rose for a long time and have never been able to get on e like it since.
We had Dr. Gray and his wife when Rae came and after that Dell took care of me and the baby. I would tell her to do the things that Auntie Vowells had done for me when Carl was born, and two and a half years later she took care of me when Leo was born. That was in cold winter weather. There were sever or eight men upstairs and none of them know a baby was coming. The second day after Leo came Della told them she had a little brother. Pa was not at home. He had been in from the sheep ranch and had sent a fresh cow in to me. He told me to let him know when the baby would come so he could come in. I sent a letter to him by the man that brought the cow and told him in the letter that I thought it would be inside of two weeks but couldn’t tell for sure. So of course he didn’t come for two weeks. They were busy at the ranch then. He had to burn around the sheep corrals to keep the prairie fires out. There was always danger of fire and everybody had to burn around their buildings. Pa had engaged the doctor before he went out to the ranch and there was no way we could reach him. He was thirty miles from home. We hadn’t named the baby yet when pa got home when the baby was two weeks old. Deyet wanted to call him Phil and Dell wanted to call him Leo. Dell had done so much for him we let her name him. Of all the great number of babies she has taken care of, Leo was the first. The doctor’s wife dressed him but she wasn’t real neat and she had a headache and didn’t do justice to the baby. So as soon as she went home and Dell got breakfast over she undressed Leo and did it all over.
If Rae had been born on Izanna’s birthday I would have named her for Izanna but I named her for her grandmother. Our family had skipped one generation having a Rachel. When I told Izanna the baby’s name was Rachel she made lots of fun and said we better call her Melinda Switchskillet.
It was Carl’s work to take care of Rae and Leo. George Chandler had given him an old fiddle to entertain Rae with. Della was in Des Moines then and Iva was in school. One day I heard Carl giggling and laughing and I looked in to see what he was doing. I had put a comfort down on the floor for them to play on. He had hold of the bottom of Rae’s long clothes and was whirling her round and round. I said, “Carl, what in the world are doing.” And he said, “Why, mom, I’m just toughening her.” Rae was only two months old. When Mr. Chandler came back after his fiddle a couple of months later Carl had worn it out – that was how he started his musical education.
Another one of Carl’s joys when he was a little fellow was listening to John Brockman play the mouth organ. His singsong from morning until night was “Play you r mouth organ, John, play your mouth organ.” One bitter cold day I had a bucket of water sitting on the floor. It was so cold the water was frozen over the top. I had a warm fire and Carl was so full of spirits he nearly drove everybody crazy. He coaxed and begged John to play his mouth organ, and he was dancing around. He got over near the bucket of water and backed into it and sat right down in it. It was ice cold and the water was streaming off his clothes and his teeth chattered, but he got himself up and gasped, “Play your mouth organ, John, play your mouth organ.” That is typical of Carl today. John was so tickled he couldn’t play to save his life.
Carl could always laugh himself nearly to death over almost anything. There was a known hole in the floor of our house in Jewell county and about so many times a day somebody had to go down in the cellar and stick a rope or strap up through the hole to amuse Carl. He would laugh himself almost into spasms. He called it the wiggle snake.
Leo was sick a lot out there in Plainville. We had a French doctor named Catudall who thought a great deal of him. When Carl and Charles were back there he asked about him. He used to keep his pants hanging on the back of a chair so they would be handy and he could get dressed quickly and come over any time. Leo and spasms when he was small whenever he ate colored candy or anything like that and we had to get the doctor quick. Finally the doctor sent to Canada for some medicine that cured him, I don’t what it was.
Whenever Leo or Rae were sick they were both sick. If one was sick I had to undress both of them and put them to bed, and Leo wouldn’t take medicine unless Rae tasted it first.
Leo only weighed six pounds when he was born and he didn’t grow much until he was about seven months old, then for two months he got pretty strong and commenced to walk. He wouldn’t sleep in a crib. Pa had got a swinging crib for Rae but Leo wouldn’t sleep in it. I had to put him on the bed. One day he woke Rae up and crawled off the bed and nearly killed himself. He didn’t walk then until he was eighteen months old. During all that time had to carry him in my arms and take care of him. The swinging crib we had for Rae was put together with screws so it could be taken apart and made into a little bundle. It was given finally to Iva’s oldest boy, Earl, and all six of Iva’s children were rocked in it.
One time pa sent Carl $5 and he wanted to get a pair of boots so he could wade in the snow and mud. We didn’t want him to put all the money in boots so Dell told him to spend $2.50 for boots and $2.50 for a little wagon to ride Leo in. He got the boots and waded snow all all afternoon. The next morning he couldn’t get the boots on because they had shrunk so much. He had only worn them that one afternoon. But he had got the wagon all right and that wagon did good service. We cushioned it all up and put Leo in it. The first day Carl could only keep him out a half hour because he was too sick to ride. But he gained every day after that. He would sit on the pillows in the wagon and let Carl take him out and ride him. After awhile he got strong enough so he didn’t have to have the pillows and then he got so he could walk and then run. Carl would put on knee in the wagon and push with the other foot. A man in town there said he knew Carl had run that wagon a thousand miles with Leo in it. Leo great well and strong and Carl was well and strong too.
Rae and Leo were clothed nearly altogether in four sacks. Rae called them “sour sacks.” I had to do a lot of baking in those days and I used lots of sacks and I used to dress the children in them. I trimmed their little skirts and dresses and aprons with lace and starched them and ironed them nicely and my children were the best dressed children in town. Rae never wore anything but white shoes until she was six years old and if she favored anybody she always let them take her shoes off at night. One time she had to wait for two weeks for her father to come home so she could have a new pair of shoes. When he came he only stayed over night and went back early in the morning so he got up about five o’clock and got one of the clerks from the store to open up the store and get the shoes.
I never allowed the children to run around, but they could have all the company at home they wanted. Their father and I didn’t believe in letting them go to the neighbors to stay all night and run around with different ones. It was just the same in my own home when I was a child. My father always said to let the other children come to our house and visit in the day time. I don’t thing we ever went to stay with anybody more than three times in our lives.
We always tried to have plenty to read for our own family and loaned books and magazines to the people on the ranches. Pa used to ask the publishers of live stock journals to send him all their exchanges and they would send them out by the box full. And pa saw to it that every sheep herder had to take his roll of reading matter with him when he took his lunch and went out for the day. All the books we had in Iowa were taken to Kansas with us and they were sent out to the ranch. All the people from claims around us that had nothing to read came and go them and many of them never returned them. We had some wonderful books that were never returned. One reason they were never returned was because of the big prairie fire. Once when I was going to Sunday school when I was young I save the papers for three years and made a book of them. That was loaned and went along with the rest. I would have liked for all of my family to have read that book.
The children’s father always wanted them cleaned for dinner at night. They might go around without cleaning up all day, but they had to clean up for dinner. And he never would allow a colored table cloth to be used. He said he had just one request to make of me and that was that I never set the children down to a colored table cloth. Out on the ranch I had so much washing to do I told him I thought I would get colored table cloths for out there. He said, no, he would use newspapers when he was alone but not colored table cloths, and he would keep the white cloths for company. My own father was just the same – he never wanted anything but a white table cloth. Pa always like to have everything neat and clean and he always provided lots of linen for the children when they were babies. He always helped them dress when they were little. He always go them up early and fastened their buttons. They he would make pancakes and bake for everybody else and then sit down and eat himself.
Next to colored table clothes pa ammoniated sorghum molasses. He was raised on maple sugar and maple syrup. Sorghum to him sounded like the last word in degrading poverty. During the war the south nearly starved to death for salt and the north couldn’t get sugar and we had to use sorghum. We raised the cane and made the sorghum. A man had a sorghum mill and he used to go around from one farm to another and make up the sorghum for the people. We used to make it by the barrel full. As soon as we could get white sugar we got away from the sorghum. Down in Kansas we had some neighbors by the name of Skirvin. Old man Skirvin made sorghum too and only one word describes it, black strap. He used to come to the store and ask for bottles to put his sorghum in to give people for samples so they would order. After we sold the store and were out on the sheep ranch he thought surely Charlie Weeks could use a lot of sorghum and he sent out a sample. It happened to be in a bottle he had got from the store, a Chamberlain bottle. The boys on the ranch nicknamed it Mat’s Diarrhea Sorghum. As long as Grandpa Weeks lived they sent us maple sugar from the east and pa never changed his opinion of sorghum.
The Skirvins, who made the sorghum, had a big family and the drouth covered their farm the same as it did every other place. All they had to live on was what they “ran in debt for,” as they expressed it. Their debts had reached the limit, first one place and then another. Just at this time they happened to be trading at Gray’s Drug Store. They had a Sunday school picnic and Gray put up a lemonade stand at the picnic. Little Bob Skirvin came around and asked for a glass of lemonade. Gray asked him if he had a nickel, and Bob said, “Can’t you run in debt for it?”
Some people by the name of Locore came from near Chicago and built an extra nice farm house and buildings about four miles northwest of Plainville. They had a large stone house and a large barn with the upper part of it finished for a hall. The young folks were all very fond of dancing. There were lots of men around on all the claims and ranches and one or two of them had fiddles. They used to gather at the Lecores and dance. When the Skirvins first came they noticed there were some girls there and someone suggested they go over there and get the girls and bring them over to the dance. When they got there the Skirvin girls were so black they didn’t know what they had got into, but they kept a stiff upper li[ and brought Mary and Emmy and Mat back to the dance. Mary was just an ordinary looking girl, Emmy a great big fat girl, corss eyed and jerky. She walked just like she looked. When she came in one young man, Bill Malott, said, “Well, she jest looks like a squash.”
One time I saw a tarantula run across the floor in the sod house. It was so big it looked like a mouse, I hunted for it but never found it. Pa was bitten by a tarantula one time when he was going to Colorado. They used to be very bad and the people would telegraph ahead for them to have poultices made. The tarantula bite has to be treated the same as a snake bite. They give them liquor to drink to kill the poison. The time pa was bitten was after we had sold the store and Deyet and his father were going overland to Colorado with two men to bring back five or six thousand head of sheep. They were to keep the sheep for Mr. Willard, of Denver, on shares. One night on the way out pa lay down on the ground after supper. It wasn’t bed time and he just put a blanket down on the ground and lay down on it. He went to sleep and when it came bed time the rest went to bed without awakening him. He was awakened suddenly with a pain in his arm. He got up and called the men. He felt sure it was a tarantula that hit him but they couldn’t find it. It had bitten him between the two large veins in his hand and it hurt him dreadfully. They drove to a little town but couldn’t get anything to help him. They poulticed it the best they could until they got to Colorado. When they got there Mrs. Willard had them get prickly pear leaves and break the spines off and pound them to a pulp and make a poultice. His arm swelled up and bursted and he nearly died. He went to a hospital in Denver but they said they could not receive him because it had been such a long time since he had been bitten. They advised him to continue with the prickly pear poultices, which they did. Several months afterward his ear swelled up and bursted in the same way, but it all healed up without leaving a scar. Some people who were camping in the same camp with him when his hand was the worst brought the word back to me that in all probability he would lose his hand. On that same trip Deyet drank alkali water and his lips swelled up so they turned out against his cheeks and they were perfectly raw. When they got to the ranch Frank Kinney, who was cook on the ranch, gave him several pounds of mutton tallow and he cured his lips with it and brought the rest of the tallow home so he would have a supply. They used to melt mutton tallow and por it into pie pans and make it into big round cakes to keep.
Carl and I were putting a load of wood into the shed on time and we found a centipede that was seven inches long. We got a bottle and put it into it. Sometimes they grow to be a foot long. Carl took this one up to the drug store., That was while we lived in Des Moines. Centipedes are dangerous because the flesh falls out where ever their legs touch it.
We had a horse named Jim that we used to drive with Doc. Jim was a good work horse but not as intelligent as Doc. He was out on the ranch near Wakeeny in Trego county and was bitten by a rattlesnake in the night. He had evidently laid down on the snake and it had struck him in the side again and again before he could get up and get away from it. The flesh just dropped out of that side and we had a hard time saving him. Deyet came in town to get all the liquor he could for the horse and Iva went back with him to help cook. She had to hold the horse while they doctored him. He fought all the men off except pa. They put a twitch on his lip while his side was being doctored, and Iva had to hold the twitch. We finally got tubs of old butter from the store and put that all over the side and in time it got well and the ahir on that side was really thicker than it was on the other. We had to keep Doc away from Jim for a long time. As soon as he was well enough so we could let Doc in to him he kissed him and loved him nearly to death.
One time Della was driving Doc and Him and she came to a place where the bridge was out. A man told her not to cross on the bridge and she started to drive across through the water but the horses wouldn’t go in. The man went in and found that there was quick sand. It was Doc that refused to go through the water. He was the smartest horse I ever saw.
The first bicycle we ever saw was in Kansas. A boy came with one of those high wheeled ones. He put it outside and came in to dinner. Everybody in town came to see it. One time in Des Moines there was going to be a bicycle race and Leo rode one of those high wheeled ones and got a prize. I didn’t want him to ride because I thought he would fall and get hurt, but he didn’t.
I used to put up hundreds of quarts of fruit. I always had so many people around to feed I had to have lots of it. We raised the fruit while we were in Iowa. The sour sand plum is the finest plum I ever saw. They have a little rough seed. They grow right on the sand but they make the most delicious sauce I ever sate. People used to go out and gather them and bring them in to sell. They were wild and you could dig them up and plant them and stake them up and they would grow but would not bear at all except in their native natural sand. People used to go out and pick them and bring them in and I put them up.
When Leo was a little fellow three years old the pride of his life was to go down and throw bricks in an old well at the brick yard in Plainville. The man who started the brick yard broke up. He had made some brick and couldn’t raise money enough to pay his men and they abandoned the yard and the children used to go down and play and throw bricks in the well they had dug to get water to mix the bricks.
Leo had a watermelon vine he was awfully proud of. Watermelon seeds had dropped out in the street and the vines grew up. Everybody drove around it. Leo claimed it as his and he would sit and watch it and play with it and he loved it the same as he would a pet. There was one quite big melon on it when we left Plainville and Leo hated to leave it.
There was a county fair out in Kansas and I took prizes on my plants, white bread, graham bread and corn bread. I got ten dollars on my plants. I had the largest collection of plants of anybody in town.
Four months before Iva and Mr. Nicodemus were married Mr. Nicodemus dissolved his law partnership in Plainville and located in Larned, Kansas. On Thanksgiving day his former partner, Mr. Hopkins, was going to be married and he came up to the wedding. He and Iva were out to the wedding and to several dances and parties every night while he was there. The day he went home Iva was just in a daze from loss of sleep. I told her to go out and take care of the caw and the pigs. She went all right but she gave the bucket of slop to the scow and the hay to the pigs. She must have had a sort of hazy idea she didn’t do it right because she came back in the house and said, “What do you think the pigs are going to do with that hay, and when did our cow begin to eat slop?”
During the time Rae was a baby we gave up the boarders and Dell was to do the work. Some other people had opened up a little place to take boarders but people that stopped there didn’t like the food. Rae wasn’t a week old when pa came home and told Dell there were so many insurance men going to be at work in the country for two or three weeks and they would give $5 a week for board. He told Dell if she could manage to board them she could have all she made over and above the food for the family. So Dell hired a colored woman to help her. She was so black they called her Snowball. When the men came there to board pa told Dell she could run the house just as she wanted to. The men didn’t want breakfast until seven. Dell would bring things in to me and the baby but she wouldn’t give her father and the rest their breakfast until seven when the men ate. He didn’t like it very well because he couldn’t have his breakfast early like he had been used to and I used to lie there and laugh when Dell would tell him she was running the house and he would have his breakfst when she got it.
The railroad line That came into Plainville was called the Lincoln Extension and the day it came in we had at our table Stuyvesant F. Fish from New York and the president of the Union Pacific and Col. Gates, the chief engineer, and all of the notable people that were there for the driving of the last spike. Della has the first telegram that ever came in over the completed telegraph line from Col. Gates to reserve a room for him.
When Carl was five years old I think – it was the year Garfield and Arthur were running for the presidency – there were some political meetings and we went and took Carl with us. The next day we found him standing around practicing the speeches he had heard. One of the things he had got out of the speeches was “Greenbacks.” He wanted to know if they had moss on their backs. We kept helping him along until he used to get up and make speeches for anybody. He would go down to the store and make political speeches for the men and they would give him watermelon and sometimes money. There was one man named Montgomery who was a “Greenback” and Carl always wanted to see his back. He would have done anything if he could have seen Montgomery’s back because he thought it was green.
Carl was a reader and an inventor even as a boy. When he was just a little fellow he would keep the light burning at night so he could read. I remember one time when he was about eight years old I called to him to put out the light after he had gone to bed and he said he couldn’t see to go to sleep without the light. Of course he was reading.
When Leo was about a year old Iva’s man was coming to see her on Sunday afternoons. We were keeping the hotel then and it was more appropriate for him to come and see her on Sunday afternoon than it was in the evening. Iva never had the dinner dishes done when he came and I used to tell her if she would take care of the children I would do the dishes. During all her courtship she had to be pestered with those two youngsters. One Sunday afternoon I had a lot of diapers folded and laid on a long shelf behind the door. It was my room and I tried to have things handy and yet out of the way and out of sight. Rae tied a string between two chairs and took all the diapers from the shelf behind the door and hung them over the strong. She was saying, “Here goes a “hampet” and here goes a “hampet.” Iva was so ashamed she came to me and said, “Mom, if you don’t bring that young one out of there I don’t know what I’ll do. She has a whole line of diapers strung out.” Rae liked Iva’s young man and he never could get away from her. Iva liked to dance and had danced up and down with Leo and entertained lim. After she was married he was inconsolable for four months because nobody would dance with him.
When Leo was three years old he fell and hurt the bone in his ankle. The doctor said to keep him off his foot if we possibly could, but he wanted to crawl and walk and one day Della felt like the ankle was not getting along just right so she took him to town to see the doctor. When they were just alittle ways from the house she told him to come on home while she stopped to do some things. But he didn’t come home. He stopped in the store and told them he wanted the littlest chicken in the store with a string tied around its leg. They gave him a little chicken and he came home with it with a string tied to its leg. It grew to be a great big chicken and a great pet. When we moved back to Iowa didn’t know what to do with his chicken. We couldn’t sell it and we couldn’t kill it – it was too great a pet. Then Leo said he was going to give it to Willy Griggy because he liked him, and he took it down there. Giggys were nice people and the children always like to go there. They had a grove and lots of milk and they like to have the children come there to play.
The children had had a very efficient teacher in the school in Iowa. He always made them study quietly. He said when it was so quiet they could hear a pin drop, then it was quiet enough to study. The school in Plainville was a mile and a half away in a little sod building, not more than eight by twelve. The children were packed in. The teacher was a man who knew very little. He thought the way to study was to say the lesson over to yourself and he thought when the children were moving their lips they were studying. When Iva started to school she studied with her lips closed as she had learned to do in Iowa. The teacher told her to begin studying but Iva didn’t know he was speaking to her. He spoke to her three times and when she realized he was speaking to her she told him she was studying. He said, “You are not, you’re not even moving your lips.” The teacher’s name was Seth Davenport. When the blizzards came the snow came right through the cracks in the building and he used to borrow their big geographies to stop up the cracks and keep the cold and snow out. One of the children that attended the school was A Skirvin boy. They were originally from Alabama. Mr. Skirvin was a great big man with black hair and great thick lips. The children were all dark skinned. They were Bob, Fred, Jeff, Emmy, Mary and Mat. Nat Skirvin was a husband hunter and she never went to school until time for the stage to pass in the morning because she wanted to be seen. Iva says she was “stage struck.” She used corn starch to powder her face. Emmy and Mary had taught and Mat Skirvin was fitting herself for a teacher. She wanted to impress Seth Davenport with her wonderful scholarship. Iva was only a child ten years old then but she was a good reader and liked to play a joke then as well as she does now. She just about had her books by heart. In their reading book was a poem called “The Bobolink.” The refrain of every verse was –
Nobody knows but my mate and I
Where our nest and nestlings lie,
Chee, chee, chee.
When it came Mat’s turn to read she wanted to read without the book and she did all right until she came to the last line, then she forgot. Iva prompted her and said “Cheese, cheese, cheese,” and Mat rolled her eyes us and repeated it after her. Mat was about seventeen years old and Iva ten.
There finally had to be a larger school house built in town and Seth Davenport got sick and they couldn’t find anybody to teach. Mat tried to supply but her teaching fizzled out. The next year they built a large sod building in town and had a man teacher and afterward built a frame building that had a graded school.
One time the teacher assigned the arithmetic lesson and someone suggested they could take more. He asked how many thought they could take a longer lesson and they all thought they could except Bob Skirvin. The teacher asked him why he didn;’t think he could take more and he said, “I think some of them have eyes bigger than their b-nb-brains.” Of course when he started out everybody had in mind the old saying about “your eyes bigger than you rbelly” and Bob certainly threw a scare into the school .
After they built the sod school house in town the teacher used to send the boys up town to get fuel to burn. The men didn’t have any fuel to send so they sent big sacks of corn. The teacher couldn’t bear to put the corn in the stove and he would turn his back and ask the boys to put it in.
Dell only went to school part of one term in Kansas, The schools were not first class and she had been further along than she got there, so she topped. She went back to Des Moines when Rae was two months only and stayed about two years working for grandma. Then she came back to Kansas and stayed until we moved to Des Moines. She took her nursing course the year we went back to Iowa.
Deyet came in two winters and went to school in Plainville. The third winter he didn’t want to go to school there. Mr. Willard asked his father what he was going to do with him and said he would like to have him come to him and go to school in Denver. So he went to Denver and went to school He had a paper route for the Rocky Mountain News and used to write editorials for it when he was only seventeen or eighteen years old. When his school was out Lowell and Davis thought he should be established in business and they had him go back to Iowa and they put him in with an old grocer in Perry. Lowell and Davis were still expecting to establish him in the grocery business when we moved back to Des Moines, but Deyet didn’t like that kind of work and told me so. I advised him to tell Lowell and Davis and he finally did and they gave him a job with the Chamberlain Medicine Company and a few months later started out as a traveling man for them and stayed at that for twelve years. Then for three years he had his own remedies and sold for himself and them too. When he started up in his own business Low gave him a little corner on the third floor and a desk and the best girl and had that worked for him to ten to Deyet’s business while he was traveling for them and starting up for himself too. She was Lottie Coons. She worked for them a good amany years.;
One time while we were running the hotel we went to Stockton, the next large town, and left Dell to look after things. A man by the name of Frank Willard came up on the stage. He had come from near Denver hunting a place in Kansas to winter and feed sheep. While Dell was waiting on the table the stage driver said, “Dell, do you know any place where this man can winter his sheep?” She said, “Yes, I do.” And she told him all about her father’s place and told him if he would stay over until her father got home he would take him out there. He said afterwards she knew as much about it as her father did. He stayed and went out to the place and made arrangements to send his sheep. He sent a man to take care of them. His name was Taylor Amos, who later died at our house. That was the way we got into the sheep business, and Frank Willard was the man Deyet lived with in Denver. He tended the furnace and went to high school. The second trip Willard made to Kansas he brought his family, his wife and three little boys.
We never lived at the ranch but I used to go out and stay for awhile. One time when I was out there there were thirty little lambs on bottles. Iva used to keep the bottles clean. Deyet had to take the part of a man. In order to keep a homestead you were supposed to live on it. While Deyet was on the ranch e would either go out and bake bread or bake it and send it out – bread and cookies and doughnuts and pies. Pa would come in two or three times a week and Iva would gtoout and wash out dish towels and hang them out to dry.
The ranch was four miles southwest of the Westlake place. Deyet farmed it one summer. He lived all the privation of the ranch. The land were the sheep were was school land and railroad land. There was a long time they used that land free, but the buildings and corrals were on the homestead. Sunflowers had grown up in the draw and dried up. Some cattle men were cooking their dinner with cow ships and thought they had put the fire out but they hadn’t and it got started and burned out ranch after ranch . Pa was in the store that day and when he heard about the fire he went out and helped the people try to save their ranches and didn’t know there was fire in his own corral burning up the sheep and everything. It nearly killed Deyet. He drew water and did his best to put out the fire bit the sheep just burned up before his eyes. There was nobody to help him do a thing. He was only sixteen years old. He was nearly beside himself, poor fellow. One hired man had the main flock of sheep out feeding and he got them all to a field of green wheat and that is what save the main flock. The wind was so fearful if a fire got started it was sure to burn up somebody. Pa was so sick over it he just came home and threw himself on the bed and came as near giving up as I ever saw him.
During the drouth we told Deyet he could plant melons and corn. He did and cultivated his corn deeply and had a fine crop of corn and melons while just across the width of a wagon tack the neighbors’ corn dried up or was wormy. It was all school land. Anybody could farm school land. You could go out on vacant land if you din’t enter any claoim or file any papers on it and you could farm it or pasture it. It was not fenceed in and all you had to do was go in and farmit.
We stayed in Kansas nine years and moved from there in Des Moines. I was sick and had to go where I could have medical attention. Deyet was in Des Moines then and we moved over on the east side. That was in 188. Carl was twelve years old and he and Rae started to school. The teacher gave Carl a piece to speak. Deyet had had the benefit of the school s in Denver and was a great debater. He told Carl he had to learn to speak and started him on the Spartacus. Carl cried and said he couldn’t do it but Deyet said he had to learn it and he would help him. They practiced together and Carl took a likin to it and learned a number of other pieces. Miss Goodrell was the teacher and she used to send for Carl to speak pieces. After that he was called upon to speak at churcha nd other places.
Carl always took Rae to school when we lived on the east side and he loved to tease her. He was calling her silly names and we didn’t know it until finally Deyet heard him and he said, “Young man, you have to cut up all the tough kindling in the shed and see if that will cure you of calling Rae names. ” Carl cried and said he couldn’t cut the kindling but Deyet made him do it because he said he couldn’t call names and not pay for it.
We only stayed on the east side about six months. Then we moved to the west side, living one year in a rented house, then built our house and lived there over thirty years, then I came to California. I had come out ten years ago and then moved out with Rae. After we sold the old house in Des Moines I set my birthday as the date to come to California. We made everything work around to that point and we did start that day for California. If we had not sold when we did maybe it wouldn’t have been sold yet. It just happened that things were booming right then. Our ice man saw the ad in the paper and came and wanted to know if I still had those nice chickens I had had the year before. I said yes and he said he wanted to buy some. I took him out to the chicken coop and he bought quite a number of the hens. We sold the house through selling the ice box, that we had advertised for sale.
When we moved to the west side Carl and Rae started to school over there. For months something was wrong with the children all the time. Carl and Rae both had the chicken pox before we left the east side. The first week they went to school on the west side they were exposed to the mumps. Carl went right onto school until the teacher asked him what made his face so round and asked him if his jaws were sore. And sure enough he had the mumps, and Rae and Leo too. He hadn’t got over the mumps until he was exposed to measles. But he got better and went right on practicing his pieces. Deyet would have him speak for him and they practiced until the last day of school. That day Carl was called on to speak three times. He had three pieces down perfectly and he spoke all three. That let him in for all kinds of speaking. The Baptist church called on him and whenever there was speaking to be done Carl was called on, so he had to keep pieces learned ahead.
One time in Kansas Carl had a teacher who was going with a fellow who had three boys in school that she favored. She gave Carl the longest piece she could find because she thought he couldn’t learn it, and the other boys would be ahead of him. He came home and cried because he said he couldn’t learn such a long piece, and he had to have it by the next evening. I said, “Yes, you can learn it. You be studying on it until I get supper over and I will help you.” He said, “Will you, mamma?” I said, “Yes, you be studying and we will learn it together.” That gave him courage and the next noon when he came home for dinner he said, “Mamma, I have all but two verses learned.” He learned it all right and was the wonder of the school because he spoke such long pieces. When I helped him learn that long piece it was just the evening before Leo was born. I never gave up for anything. I always had to help the children out. When the boys thought they couldn’t learn something I would tell them, “Yes, you can.” If the girls can learn things you can too. Boys ought to have quicker brains than girls. Don’t let the girls get ahead of you. I helped all of them with their school work.
Uncle Davis always called Leo “Buffalo Bill.” When Leo was between four and five years old we had built our new house and one rainy Sunday, the first Sunday in the new house, Carl and Rae and Leo were going to Sunday school at the United Brethren church at Eighth and University. Rae got ready first. It was just after her seventh birthday and mother and auntie had given her a nice black silk dress. Rae said it was silk on one side and satin on the other. It had little short sleeves and she wore a white guimp and a pretty sash and a little ruffled hat with it. When they gave her the dress we blindfolded her and dressed her and then put an old dress on top of it. On this Sunday morning I washed her and dressed her in her new dress and started her on to Sunday school while I dressed Leo and helped Carl. Without me knowing it Rae had got into Della’s face powder and had powdered herself good and proper. She went on to the church and waited outside for the boys to come and take her in. When Carl got to the church door the boys were making all manner of fun of Rae and she was crying. They said, “Your sister must have stuck her head in the flour barrel before she started.” It plagued Carl nearly to death be he wiped off her face and took her in. When the teacher came around and she asked them their names. Carl told his, and Rae hers, and the she wanted to know Leo’s name and he undertook to tell all the names and nicknames he had. The teacher wrote me a note and wanted to know what the child’s correct name was.
Before Leo went to the navy I said, “Leo, I have gone down and signed up your paper for you but while you are gone I will never write to you to be a good boy. I know you will be thrown with lots of boys – good, bad and everything – but I will never write to you to be a good boy but I will expect you to live by the principles I have tried to teach you all the days of your life. I will expect you to come home with stripes on your sleeves to show you have been promoted.” He said he would try to live up to it. When he got back he said to me, “What did you say to me when I went to the navy?” I said, ” I might have said a good many things.” He said, “What particular thing did you say when we were coming home from signing the papers?” “Well,” I said, “I though so many things I expect I said many things I ought not to.” He said, “I guess you know what you said. You said you would not write to me to be a good boy, and you never did. You told me you would expect me to live by the principles you tried to teach me all the days of my life. Do you know that came up to me oftener than once? You told it to me so positively.” I never did tell my children, “Now you be good – don’t you be a bad boy” or anything of that kind. If I gave them money or anything to sell or anything like that, when they got home I expected them to give me a correct report.
When Leo was about seven and a half years old I commenced sending him down town with flowers to sell. He would have just so many bouquets in the basket. Sometimes they would get wilted. I always told him I expected him to give me an account of all the bouquets in the basket. That gave him an idea of honest. I never thought of anything else only for him to tell me what became of all the bouquets. Will Halladay, a bakery man, when Leo’s flowers would get quite badly withered would trade him nice cinnamon rolls and bread and things for the blowers and he would put them in his ice box and they would straighten up and he had flowers on his restaurant table from Leo’s withered flowers, and we had many baskets of food. It was a task to pick the flowers and fix them up in bouquets. I have put up a hundred penny bouquets in a day. I had every kind of flower to put in them. I had beautiful flowers and could put up any kind of bouquet. When I put up a hundred it would be for cigar stores. Leo would take his orders a day or two ahead so I would have them to pick and put up. He had his regular customers at drug stores and cigar stores and he really dates his success in business back to that time. The stores bought the bouquets and made presents to their customers on Saturday evenings. The cigar stores used to give any many a 25-cent bouquet. The first time Leo started out to sell his flowers he sold just three cents’ worth, but someone told him if he would bring nice fresh flowers the next morning they would buy something. I told him he had done find selling three cents worth, that would buy a loaf of bread. He thought he had done something because I praised him. The next day he sold quite a lot and he kept right on.
Leo was sixteen when he went in the navy. Carl was in the hospital for his first operation. It was hard to give up that boy but I looked at it on every side and it just seemed to me if I refued to sign his papers and let him run away go maybe he would not amount to anything in his life, but if I let him go honorably he would be all right. It was born in him and he could not help it. He just wanted to go so bad. He got blood poison and was awfully sick. Deyet was out to the exposition then and he advised him to resign and come home. He put in his application and they accepted it. He was gone eight months that time. During the war he enlisted and served his time.
During this time pa had taken a post graduate course in a veterinary school in Kansas City. He had graduated from a veterinary school in Des Moines but he felt like he wanted more than he had got there. Deyet was traveling for his uncles, Davis and Lowell. He made every town in the state of Iowa and after pa got through the veterinary school Deyet advised him to locate at Logan because he said it was the best town in the state for a veterinarian. He made a success of it, and was recommended to students as a place to train during vacation months.
I raised chickens in Des Moines for twelve years and made a success of them. Had my chickens and flowers and had more fun than a little with them During that time I had my house work to do, too, because as soon as Rae was through school she taught kindergarten and then Deyet told her if she would got ot work in the office he would pay her as much as she got teaching and she could be at home too. She worked for seventeen years in the office. She took her training for kindergarten work at Highland Park College. Leo and Carl went to Highland Park too. Rae taught school two or three terms. She was at Bird school forenoons and went to Highland Park in the afternoons. She was looking for a school outside of Des Moines and Deyet was helping her when he decided it would be better for her to work in the office.
I hated to leave the old place in Linn county but never wanted to see it again. With my children I have had something to build on from their childhood life. They were all happy together until reverses came and we went west. ‘Twas hard times in Kansas and pa thought he could do better at something else than sheep business, but fate was against him for a long time. Then Deyet took hold of the family and made a home for us. Carl had got large enough to help so we all pulled together and started the D. Weeks business that is still doing business. Besides it has built the Armand Company. Deyet provided us a home for a long time. Now Carl is building a home for us and I suppose I will live in it the balance of my days. ‘Tis a beautiful place and I am sure we will enjoy living there.