When I was twelve we made another move, this time to Bluffton. Father was away and Mother negotiated the moving herself. We lived for a few months in a rather nice old house, for a few more in a very ugly new one, and then we moved into a delightful old house which was our home for three years, one of the three homes of my life. There was a long room to which no lesser name than drawing room should have been given. The woodwork was of beautifully finished, simply ornamental walnut. There were floor to ceiling cupboards and another fireplace. One of my delights, as a girl in the early adolescent years, was sliding down the long banister. French windows opened from the drawing room onto a large story-up back veranda. A stone floor of the same size was below it and along the side of the basement kitchen and dining room. The front of the main floor was on a level with the street. There were bedrooms arid a hall on the top floor.
This house stood beside the covered bridge which spanned the Wabash in what is now State Road 3, only a short street between it on one side and a nearby flour mill on the other.
The house had more rooms than we needed (one reason why we took the house), and Mother took some people to room and board to help out the family exchequer. There was a young married couple whose three year old boy, we girls loved to take around with us. He said such interesting things.
Later, there were young students who had come from the country to study in Bluffton schools. Among these was our old friend, Johnnie Spaulding. We used to sit around evenings in the drawing room and study with Father when he was at home, helping if we needed it. Mother had seen to it all her married life that the students in the family had a place and a time to study, but since she was the business manager of the family, she left the necessary academic help to come from Father, and he loved to give it.
Father went with me, that first day in the Bluffton schools. Doubtless, both he and I answered some questions, for the teacher. Mr. Lilly, who must have been principal and superintendent too, said;
"I suppose likely she will go in this department." His own room - the highest room! And weeks before it was that the term had opened. Evidently I didn't distinguish myself, for my first report, written on a small piece of paper, and the first one I had ever received, gives, laconically, my standing in grammar and arithmetic.
Thus began three or four years of happy days in that school house. Happy times, and times not so happy.
A failure in a grammar lesson one forenoon has many times come to my mind. The teacher said,
"Since this is the day for you to go early and take your music lesson, you may stay at noon and learn that definition!"
I learned it! I retained it! Here it is: "Pronominal Adjectives are definitives, most of which may, without an article prefixed, represent a noun understood."
Mother was at the door watching for me when I got home. The family dinner was over. I began storming because my teacher had kept me at noon. Mother fixed my dinner on the table, sat down near me while I ate, and went to the door with me when I was ready to start back to school. She said nothing in response to my talking. That was a habit she and Father had - keeping silence when we complained about our teachers, so we didn't do it very often. There wasn't much fun in launching a tirade when you weren't met with voiced agreement with your views, or that other side of parental rebuke.
"You mustn't say things about your teachers. They are trying to make you be good girls and get your lessons."
After I got to be a teacher myself, I didn't often keep children in at noon. It had to be an emergency case if I did, for I always remembered that little stomachs should be taken home and filled with warm food.
When I began writing letters and compositions, I developed what long afterward, Edith Tompkins, one of my good teachers at Blaine, called a spelling conscience," and I learned to spell. I can do very well today, with a dictionary at my elbow!
The arithmetic that initiated me into the realm of numbers was a prim little book, and very hard, it seemed to me. The first problems were long addition examples of several four figure addends. That page stares me in the face today. I must have gotten them, and subtraction too, for I came after a while to the multiplication table and a genuine sticking place it proved. My sister, Lydia, who must have been teaching school by that time and who was my intellectual mentor as long as she lived, told me if I would have it learned by a certain time, she would make me a pair of panties with embroidery ruffles on them.
Now, the eternal feminine loves pretty undies. I was determined to win that reward. I would take my little arithmetic book, go into the room where several of us girls slept, close the door, sit on a little hair trunk in the center of the room, and say over and over the items in the table until they were fixed forever in my mind.
But even after I learned the difference between prime and composite numbers, I couldn't see why 49 did not choose to be a prime number. Later, I met the strange inventions of some mathematician - partial payments, square and cube root, stocks and bonds and conquered them.
But it took Will Ernst, who taught us in a supposedly "high school" to make me love mathematics. A problem in algebra covering a blackboard was a good game. How I should love, today, to see my calf-bound Davy's Legendre and its problems in geometry.
My first Grammars were Pineo's and then Harvey's. Many are the books on English I have studied since! But some wise person has said that "English is caught, not taught."
Father's English was choice. If we made a mistake in ours, we were requested to say it again, correctly. Mother had brought with her from her New Jersey home many apt sayings which enriched our language.
As for geography, about all I learned of it as a child was hearing Father sing to me the capitals of the states.
"Maine, Augusta, on the Kennebec River,
Maine, Augusta, on the Kennebec River."
"Massachusetts, Boston on Boston Harbor,
Massachusetts, Boston, on Boston Harbor."
I was always thrilled when we came to
"Indiana, Indianapolis, on White River,
Indiana, Indianapolis, on White River."
That was my capital, and my state. But I never saw Indianapolis until I was grown.
Before one could get a license in Indiana to teach school, an examination in reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, grammar, geography, and also history and physiology, had to be passed. Those were the eight common branches. I took my first examination for a teacher's license when I was fourteen and passed it successfully. But I did not "teach" until I was fifteen and a half.
Father lifted me with the last load of furniture. I was smiling, for we were moving to town. It was an event in my life. For about 2 years we lived there in a nondescript house not far from the edge of town and a nice farm place just beyond.
The school had two rooms. Lizzie Bryson must have taught is smaller ones. What, I do not know. We were a noisy bunch. One day, probably many days, she said, "Get quiet and I'll dismiss you." We didn't seem to get very quiet, but in a few seconds she said, "Dismissed," and out we rushed.
Bruce Shoemaker taught the larger ones upstairs the year I went there. He must have been a pretty good teacher for those days, although nothing of what he taught remains with me. He had a pleasing personality.
One day, dear Sister Mary, her husband, and baby girl, left on the train to their new home in Nebraska. To be gone forever, I felt. That night I cried myself to sleep and thought, "If I could see Mary once more."
Not did I see again until I was grown up and had earned money to take me to Nebraska.
I was brought up on weddings, as Father was a marrying parson. After the ceremony and congratulations, when relatives and friends wished the couple "much joy," the wedding dinner or supper was served.
A wedding supper to be remembered was at Uncle Cy Twibell's. I may have been four years old. It seemed to me that there were long loaded tables all over the house, but they may have been only in the big living room. Each man sat exactly opposite his wife at these dinners. Father must have married the couple in whose honor the big dinner was given. He smiled on every one. Uncle Cy was jovial as usual, while Aunt Peggy, her daughters and daughters-in-law flew around to see that the dishes on the tables were kept filled. Which one of their daughters was honored in this wedding supper I do not remember. However, I know I went, when the same size, with Mother and Father to an affair at the attractive Lacy home, which stood on the high banks of the Salamonie. I started out by myself that day to explore their barnyard. I had on a bright red dress which I thought very gay and lovely. A big turkey gobbler didn't think so, and he immediately gave chase to that red thing. Mother came to ward off the threatened combat.
But marrying parson as he was, Father would never marry his own daughters. Elder Johnson of Liberty Center wouldn't marry his children either, so these two fine men exchanged courtesies along that line.
The first wedding itself that I distinctly remember was Sister Becky's. I was five. It seemed to me that Becky and her bridegroom, Joel, stood as far away from Elder Johnson as they could. Everybody looked very solemn except the preacher and Joel. They seemed to be having a good time as they talked back and forth with Becky putting in a word now and then. Why I cried, I do not know. Perhaps I wondered what Joel was holding on to Becky's hand for. Anyway, Mother took me out of the room.
· Becky was a sparkling girl who had half the young men of the township wanting to pay court to her. Lydia would have a little worriment about her sometimes, but Mary would always say that nothing would ever touch Becky to harm her.
The bride, in her soft dove-colored dress, was good to look at. Many a neighborhood swain had cast admiring eyes at the sprightly maiden. Many a one had asked her for dates. Oh yes, they had dates in the sixties!
She had had one very amusing would-be courtship. Up the road a half mile and around the corner a little way toward the road that led to the tiny hamlet of Matamoras and on to Montpelier, lived old Mr. Dufford and his son, William John, in one of the nicest homes of the region. They owned a piano and a melodeon, and it was said that William John could play a few tunes on these rather rare instruments. Mr. Dufford owned many acres of river bottom land. You know what good corn that kind of Indiana land grows. I think these two men lived alone. How they managed their cooking and household duties I do not know. But the time had evidently come when Mr. Dufford thought it would be nice to have a woman about the house. William John didn't seem to have initiative enough to go courting himself, probably he didn't even have brains enough, so his father courted for him by proxy. He seemed to feel that Becky was the young woman to grace their home. He came to see her one day and told her if she would marry his son he would give her a deed to the sixty acres of land right across from the house where he lived. Becky didn't jump at the chance to sell herself for a farm so Mr. Dufford told her to think it over and he would come again.
When he came a little later, these were his exact words, "Well, Becks, what do you think of them idee's I conveyed to you?" And Becky snapped, "I haven't thought anything about them." Mr. Dufford couldn't believe his ears. At least he didn't want to believe them. So he stayed and stayed. And Becky wondered how she could get rid of him. At last she got her broom and pretended she was going to sweep. Maybe she did give two or three strokes before Mr. Dufford took the hint and went away.
Some time afterward he tried the same game on my next sister. But dignified Lydia soon disposed of the matter. Whether William John ever procured a wife I do not know.
One day as dusk was beginning, Father was lolling on the grass after a hot day in the fields. Mother and the girls were scattered about. A young man and woman came tearing up in a buggy.
"We want you to marry us," said the youth.
"When I go and dress," said Father. "Come in."
"No time to dress, Elder Goodin, We're running away, and Henriette's father will be after us."
So the bride and groom stood outside the fence, and Father, coatless and shoeless, stood inside. Under the brief but solemn ceremony, they became man and wife.
Dr. Shull had been thrown off the track and had gone to Squire Goodin's, so by the time he had made tracks around the circle to Elder Goodin's, the knot had been tied, and the two happy young people had gone away as one to live happily together for many years. The bride's father left to rage in vain.
Martha, Father's eldest, had stayed in the state from which her parents had moved, there to change her name to Hess, and to come to Indiana a few years later with her husband and baby girl.
Lydia was soon to be married. The household was busy with the sewing for her simple outfit of clothing and her equally simple but adequate household linens. Everything was made at home. Each bride had the wedding gown and the "second day" dress, besides her everyday dresses. There must be pretty but substantial underwear in plenty, a supply of bed linen, quilts, blankets, towels, and table linen. Mother's daughters were taught to sew, and they helped Lydia. Lizzie had turned into her teens and hemmed sheets for her.
It came the morning before the wedding, and the last stitches were being taken in the wedding garments. As Lydia folded and put them away, she horrified her family by saying,
"One more day of single blessedness, and then comes double cussedness."
Since it was not her first love she was marrying, anyway, young as she was, perhaps we may excuse her. Sometimes she liked to say things just to see what the family would think, anyway.
They did not know Lydia's first love. She had been away from home teaching school, and the dashing young man had crossed her path and made ardent love to her. But she realized, in time, that he was not the man she should marry so she put him out of her heart. He would not take back the ring he had given her, a chased band of gold which she gave to Lizzie a day or so before she married.
As usual, Elder Johnson was to perform the marriage rites, and arrived the afternoon before the wedding, bringing his beautiful daughter, Mattie, with him. It was proper and customary for the officiating minister to take with him to the wedding his wife or another lady of his household.
I came tearing to the house a short while before supper time that day, sternly holding by the legs a squeaking hen.
"Oh, Mother!" I cried, "I have an old setting hen!"
I knew Mother always planned the setting, never leaving it to the hen's responsibility, so I felt triumphant in breaking up the nest which was almost eggless. Poor timid little me. How embarrassed I was when I saw lovely Miss Mattie and thought I could never appear at the supper table with her. But, of course, my actions were of no importance to her and the old setting hen was entirely forgotten.
A beautiful April morning dawned. Lydia and her very tall bridegroom took their places where Becky and her bridegroom had stood, and where, a few months later, Mary and hers were to stand. In the presence of the family and a few friends, they answered the questions the minister asked. They promised to live together until death should part them and were pronounced husband and wife. It seemed as though Lydia had caught her breath as she answered, but how very proud the tall bridegroom looked as he timidly cast his eyes downward to his little bride.
Sweet and dignified she was in her thin stiff dress, with a tiny dot of color on a background of white - a dress which almost touched the floor and stood out quite properly in its stiffness and fullness in all directions.
These two were to lead a prosperous life and were to be the intellectual couple of the family, with college to come for them a few years later, leading to law and a prominent teaching position.
The next day came the infair and the excitement of getting ready to go to the home of the bridegroom's parents for the bit dinner they gave in honor of their new daughter-in-law, Lydia, and her husband.
Martha, her husband, and their two tiny girls went in their wagon, Lizzie and Angie with them. Father and Mother were in their wagon. Becky was there with Baby Olive cradled in her arms; Mary, who realized she too would, in a few months, be a bride; and I, close to Mother.
The honored ones in the wagon were the bride and the bridegroom. Becky's gallant young husband was on horseback. And so the family cavalcade started to traverse the six or seven miles to the bridegroom's parents' home.
The rider would gallop on ahead, then suddenly rein up his horse and wait for the others, making some joking remark that would set them all laughing, then loiter behind, only to come galloping up again, and repeat the process. Perhaps this time he would leap his horse across a deep and rather wide ditch which trailed the wagon road for many miles.
The bride's new family were all smiles, and it was plain to be seen that they felt pleased and really honored to have one of Smith Goodin's girls in their family.
After the bridal night at her girlhood home, the second night at that of the bridegroom, the young couple were privileged to put their own new home in preparation for living and they spent the honeymoon doing so.
"What is a honeymoon?" I asked Mother one day. It seemed to my imagination that it must be something like the everyday moon, only decorated with some sort of moon-colored cut-off fringes of frizzy frills. Very nice it must be, for there was so much said about it.
One Sunday morning before the summer was over, Mary was a bride and the youngest and loveliest bride of them all. Her wedding gown was of white swiss with thicker stripes running up and down. It was of the correct mode as to length and ability to stand out in all directions. There was a girdle and sash of wide soft corn-colored ribbon. A cunning little straw bonnet was tied under Mary's chin, and trimmed with the same corn-color.
Soon after the wedding ceremony, Father drove the wagon around to the front, and the two tall preachers in their frock coats and their high silk hats stepped over the low fence and up to the front seat of the wagon. There Father and Elder Johnson enjoyed one of their talk fests, until it was time to start to Sunday School.
Mary, with her dark hair, her very blue eyes, and her pink cheeks was a beautiful picture as her handsome, dark-eyed husband lifted her into the wagon.
The others who were to go helped each other in; then Father lifted the lines, touched the blacksnake whip to the unmatched team, and the horses started on a gentle trot down the road, across the river, and into town.
Most of Father's daughters achieved at least a brief period in college, and while Mary and her bridegroom had lived but a few miles from each other, one on either side of the village, it took their days at Ridgeville College to bring them together. Now they were starting on what proved to be a long and very loving life together.
Under Martha's way of telling things, the slightest happening became an event, and so it was a few days after Mary's wedding when she recounted what she had heard one of the young Twibells relate. He sometimes went to Sunday School, but many times merely looked in and did not enter. Martha's nut-brown head tilted to one side, her eyes became mellow, her smile went over her face as she told the family that the young boy looked in the little church, said he saw Elder Johnson addressing a wedding party, and used that as an excuse not to enter.
One or two others, Lizzie who was almost grown up, and one of the married girls had gone with the bridal party to the church. Mother was at home, preparing the wedding dinner, with some of the others to help her. I was separated from my adored Mary and left at home because I was too little to tag along for such an important affair. So I helped a little around the kitchen and kept wondering, in my small mind how many years it would be before Lizzie would be really grown up and would have a wedding.
The next day, Mary donned her pretty soft-toned green second-day dress and drove away for the "infair" at the riverside home of the aunt and uncle who had reared her young husband.
THE THREE R'S
How I learned to read I do not know. But I do know that I could read when I started to school at six and a half. The syllables had looked at me from McGuffey's spelling book, and Father sang them to me. They went like this:
"B-a ba, B-e be, babe, b-i bi, babebi, b-o bo, babebibo, b-u bu, babebibobu."
How much all of this helped me in learning to read, I do not know, either.
When I had finished the First Reader, I was put in the Fourth. The reason, probably, was that the family owned no second or third reader, and they thought I might as well use what they had as money was very scarce. The words did look pretty big, but someway they were mastered. When I was eight, my teacher, Miriam Greist, pointed me out to a visitor and said,
"This little girl reads in the Sixth Reader."
Some of those lessons from McGuffey's Readers have never been forgotten. In "The Rill from the Town Pump," the pump was, to me, a real personage, actually speaking. In the lesson about Mr. Toil, it seemed strange that there were so many men of the same name, doing so many different kinds of work. They were tall, strong, broad shouldered men, looking exactly alike. I especially liked "Harry and the Guide Post. He was such a brave little boy to go up all alone to something so frightening from a distance.
My first teacher took what must have been a blank homemade copy book, or maybe it was only a large sheet of paper. At the top of what must have been two large pages she wrote all of the capital letters. Then she asked me to copy them. My little untrained fingers tried very hard, but a sorry job they made of it.
"Didn't you ever make them before ?" asked the teacher kindly when the time came to inspect them. And solemnly I said I never had. I always wondered how or where she thought I could have learned to make all those crooked hard things.
I was not a born speller. In fact, I was the family joke. It was a good thing for the family honor that the old-fashioned spelling school was at the vanishing point. I could never have "stood up and spelled every one down" as some of my big sisters had done.
All of our spelling was oral, and with no thought of the meaning of the words. We had to take one lesson over nine times before we could learn to spell all of the words. There were several long columns. For years I could say it from start to finish. I yet recall that it contained flay, swain, beak, and bleak. I may have known what beak meant. Certainly I did not know the meanings of the other three. McGuffey's spelling book also contained such words as incommunicability, unintelligibility. But I never knew a teacher cruel enough to make children spell them.
I find in memory's gallery many pictures from my pre-school life. I have only to take them out, look and transcribe their stories for those who read. The first two or three are catalogued because Mother or Father told me of them.. The others are all my own.
My parents, doubtless with other members of the family, were spending the day at Aunt Jane's. I was probably resting in Mother's arms, or reposing on one of Aunt Jane's beds. Uncle Reason was regaling the company with his tall tales. Some of his children, and I think they were pretty big ones, grew noisy and boisterous. Uncle Reason called out,
"Jane, come here and lick these young ones.
Aunt Jane was self-reliant. She called back from the kitchen as she went on with her preparation for dinner, "Lick ‘em yourself. You've got more time than I have."
Uncle Reason merely grinned at his wife in retort.
Eventually they moved out west, as so many others of the family have done. Aunt Jane, in her last resting place, is there. After she was gone, Reason came back and married Julia, and lived again near Montpelier. One day when I was back visiting, Uncle Reason took me out to have dinner with them. He was a great tease, and began on some joke about the Goodin girls.
"Well," I said, "you must have liked them quite well since you married two of them."
This tickled Uncle Reason, for he thought he had done an excellent job marrying. We all thought so, too.
Two Civil War tales they told me are etched deep in remembrance. There seem to have been Southern sympathizers in the neighborhood, probably a good many Knights of the Golden Circle. It came to Captain Josiah Twibell's ears that they were planning to burn his wheatfields. Quick as a flash went his answer, "Burn and be damned."
His wheatfields lay unharmed.
Mother had been to town on that tragic April day in 1865, and when she reached the banks of the Salamonie, called to Uncle Cy as everybody called to him, to bring his canoe and pole her across the river. He was often asked to do this for those who walked to town or back. He was kind hearted and accommodating, and then he liked to talk and get the news. Mother told him it was reported in town that Lincoln had been assassinated.
Said Uncle Cy, "It's a butternut lie."
Ardent patriot that he was, he couldn't believe that anyone, wicked as they might be, would slay the great and good - the matchless Lincoln. Would that
Uncle Cy had been right has been the heart cry of so many millions since.
Submitted by Peggy Karol, transcribed from information provided by Cecil Beeson.