Mr. Newell was born at Rich Hill, Missouri, November 2, 1876, son of John George and Mary Arbell (Akers) Newell. His grandfather was an early settler of Ransom, Illinois, going there from Ohio. John George Newell was born and reared in Illinois, and in the Civil war served as a soldier in the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois Infantry. After the war he moved to Missouri, and was a farmer and stock raiser in the vicinity of Rich Hill. For some years he lived in North Dakota, and while visiting his son James at Hammond, in the winter of 1930, he lost his life in an automobile accident, November 23. He was eighty-six years of age when he passed away. He was buried at Ransom, Illinois, his old home town where he was born and reared. He was at one time commander of the Grand Army Post of Ransom and organized the Woman's Relief Corps there. His first wife, Mary Arbell, was born and reared at Rich Hill, Missouri, where her father was a pioneer minister of the Gospel. She was educated in public schools and was a teacher for several years and always active in church work. She died in 1887 and is buried at Ransom, Illinois. The second wife of John George Newell was Anna Hurst, of Streator, Illinois. She was born in England and was a child when her parents came to America and settled at Streator. She died in 1915 and is buried at Ransom. By the first marriage there were seven children: Charles Newell, of Kansas City, Missouri; William, who was killed in a coal mine at Rich Hill, Missouri, when a boy; James D.; Gus Newell, of Hammond; Mrs. Alice Reeder, of Kalamazoo, Michigan; Bert Newell, of Indiana Harbor; and John Newell, of Gary. John George Newell by his second wife had five children: Ethel, wife of George Williams, of Hunter, North Dakota; Frank Newell, of Billings, Montana; Fred Newell, of Hunter, North Dakota; Mrs. Edith Quaife, of Hammond; and Grace, wife of Harold Quaife, of Hunter, North Dakota.
James D. Newell acquired his early education in the public schools of Ransom, Illinois. When he left school he worked with his father on the farm at Ransom, and after his marriage moved to Iowa, where he was a farmer and live stock raiser for several years. His home has been at Hammond, Indiana, since 1898. For several years he was employed by different firms and then took up contracting work as a plasterer and brick layer. Later he concentrated his attention on cement contracting and is still in business as a builder and roofing contractor. He also owns an oil and gas station at the corner of Calumet and Highland streets.
Mr. Newell casts his vote independently. He is a member of the Hammond Chamber of Commerce, B. P. O. Elks and the Methodist Episcopal Church. At Ransom, Illinois, in 1892, he married Miss Rena Gertrude Woodward, daughter of Lewis L. and Margaret (Denton) Woodward, of Ransom. Mrs. Newell attended school at Ransom and is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. To their marriage were born five children, the son Jesse dying at the age of six months. Eva Beatrice is the wife of Robert L. Wood, who is associated with Mr. Newell in the contracting business, and has one child, Robert Leroy. Glynn Adalbert Newell, also associated with his father in business, married Mrs. Lottie Olive (Bridegroom) Danabaur, whose two children by her first marriage are Lillian May and Theodore Ellsworth. Floyd Archibald Newell, connected with the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway at East Chicago, married Kittie Fox, of East Chicago, and has a daughter, Fern Gilbert Newell, youngest of the family, is assisting his father in business, but is still continuing his education. He is a graduate of the Hammond High School and has had two years in the law department of Valparaiso University.
INDIANA ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS OF AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT Vol. 5
By Charles Roll, A.M.
The Lewis Publishing Company, 1931
This is a letter written by Catherine Stutesman Hollis (Kate) step-grandmother to Levi Merle Davis. It was written to her daughter Harriet who was best known in the family as “Aunt Hat.” Her husband, Craven P. Hollis, was the father of Merle’s mother, Mary Ann. No one knows who Mary Ann’s mother was. She was never spoken of or named according to anyone’s recollection.
CASCADE LOCKS, OREGON
August 18, 1909
My dear Harriet, my dear girlie;
You want to know something or all of my life and more especially of my girlhood. Before I begin, I will tell you what I remember of my father’s and mother’s people. My mother was Eleanor Harrell and her mother was Catherine Thomson and her mother, my great grandmother, was Elizabeth Baker who emigrated from Ireland and the short tradition is that she spun the linen thread that she wove into her wedding dress. Of my mother’s paternal family not much is known, only that the Harrell’s were of English descent and “Old Granddaddy” Isaac Harrell’s first wife was a Cotton and the mother of my grandfather whose name was John and a rather dear old peculiar man he was; he was very decided in disposition and when crossed his thin Roman nose and pale blue eyes and thin lipped mouth would instantly take on an expression of contempt. Nearly all of my mother’s paternal uncles were red-haired, of whom there were quite a number.
My mother’s mother, Catherine Thomson showed her Irish blood by her grey eyes and black hair. She had several sisters and at least one brother for I remember of Mother’s cousin, Turner Thomson. Her aunts were Nellie Graham for whom she was named and Betsy Holmes, Susie Newland and there must have been another sister for I know that Mother had a cousin, Pascal Leonard, for whom she had but little respect for she said he was “trifling” and when that was the case the back of her hand was always toward them. If there were others I do not remember them.
(She means that the aunts are Eleanor Harrell’s not Catherine Thomson’s. Eleanor Harrell is her mother.)
Mother was the oldest child of John Harrell and Catherine Thomson, was born February 7th, 1821; born, raised and married in Jackson County, Indiana. She and my Father, John Berkey Stutesman, were married August 15, 1839 and as usual in those days it was a big wedding, a whole roast pig with a red apple in its mouth with other good things for dinner; then a race between two young men for a bottle of whiskey was a part of the program for the day.
I have seen Mother’s wedding dress and an one time had a piece of it; it was some thin white goods, made short waisted, mutton leg sleeves, the skirt was short, did not reach the top of her slippers which were of purple cloth and tied with ribbon which lapped round the ankle and tied in a bow in front. Her hair was red and curly and with her blue eyes she was her father’s daughter.
Her sisters were Elizabeth, Mary, Susan Kate, and Celestis. Her brothers were Alexander, Jacob Wright and James Mathes, all dead but one sister, Celestis.
My father was a German all out. Of my Grandfather Stutesman I have but faint remembrance but I know that my father was a full-blooded Berkey as Grandfather was short and stout, with blue eyes. Grandmother died when my father was a small boy so he and his sister Ann were left motherless but later on his father married. His stepmother proved a good woman but his mother’s family took the oversight of himself and sister.
My father was born in Washington County, Indiana not far from the banks of the Muscacituck River which divided the two counties, Washington and Jackson. The place where he was born was at that time called “No Business.” I do not know what year Abram Stutesman and Barbara Berkey were married but of this union my father was born July 6, 1814. The farm which Grandfather Berkey owned fell into stranger’s hands and one time when I was a small girl, myself and sister Ann were dropping corn in the field of this farm and we went into the old house which was in very good repair. Just one room with a big brick fireplace, with a winding staircase in the corner. The room was ceiled and had never been painted so it was a brown as a nut. We went upstairs and looked around, went down and out and left the house that held so many memories of Christian Berkey and Fanny Bienicia, his wife, where they both died perhaps before I was born.
There was a large family of the Berkey’s, my father’s uncles were Jacob, Henry, John, Jonas, Michael, and William; his aunts were Elizabeth Fanny and Catherine. As long as my father lived his mother’s people were a sacred memory to him for they were a quiet, religious, refined family and he entertained the idea they were just a little superior to the other families and if you could have known them Harriet dear, you would not have him say nay. The feeling was always with him to reach up for the best in people, politics, religion, books, anything that or with whom he had to do and he was fairly successful in transmitting to his children.
When my father and mother were married, they began housekeeping in a small log cabin not far from Grandfather Harrell, which indeed he owned and afterward made a stable of. A man by the name Shoemaker made their home outfit which consisted of bedsteads, bureau, table and large stand table that I remember so well because it had two drawers and also was where my father used to sit and read or write his letters with his goose quill pen which would have to be sharpened once in a while. These pieces were all made of cherry wood; a cupboard of some other kind was painted red.
In this little cabin I was born September 1, 1840 and then a cradle large enough for three babies was brought in with a laugh and a joke that Mother did not very well relish, but all the same that old cradle stayed in the family till ten babies had been rocked to sleep. The cradle and the little spinning wheel were kept in the close company; what a sweet memory those old pieces of furniture brings to me. The chairs were made of hickory and almost as white as cotton, and how clean they and the ash churn were kept by the willing, industrious hands of Mother. Those weekly scourings and rubbings of home made soap and lye made of wood ashes are among my earliest recollections, how sweet and clean things smelt when cleaning day was over. Everything not painted had to have its bath and a rub.
I rather suspect I was a cross, crying baby, for Mother told me that when she was nearly worn out with my baby infirmities, she was tempted to throw me out of doors, but I got over it and won my way into their affections for Father always said Kate was their prettiest baby. I know he was proud of me-took infinite pains to teach me the alphabet which I knew before I can remember very distinctly. He had a large family Bible and he taught me the large letters that began the chapters but the dear old gentleman, for he had no peer, never knew what a numbskull his firstborn was. We were always, as long as he lived, on the very best of terms so he was always blind to my deficiencies—he did not seem to know that I could not do a problem in fractions. With all my mental weakness my memory dates back to the very early forties. The earliest incident is that my father was riding a large black horse named Brookens and I suppose he was holding me in his arms. The horse became unruly so he held me by one arm and dropped me outside the road in a snow bank.
It is all like a cloud passing over the sun, a fleeting bit of memory for that is all I remember. I do not know where we were or where we were going; the horse and the snow bank are with me today. I remember also being lifted from a wagon and placed in the open door of my father’s house and I ran across the floor to where mother was sitting on the side of her bed. She told me long afterward that I had been staying at Grandfather’s and it was he that lifted me to the door.
The community where my father lived in those days did not have a house of worship so our brethren preached from house to house and when Grandfather lifted me to the door, he and his family had come to Father’s to hear a brother T. J. Edmonson preach. Other neighbors were there also to hear him. But before very long our brethren had a house of worship—it has been over sixty years but it still stands a monument to the labors of the self-denying brethren and preachers of those days.
I wish, my dear Harriet, I could describe the people and the meetings that have been held in that house. What sweet singers in Israel we had, chief of whom were Uncle Jonas Berkey and Brother Jacob Wright. How we children did love those old men. But there were others that made the congregation of old Driftwood a fountain of June Joy. Before the house there was a protracted meeting held in the yard of Uncle Jacob Berkey. It was covered with an awning made of beech limbs and other kinds that made a bower and a leafy sanctum in which to preach the Gospel.
There was in the congregation a colored family who were faithful, zealous in the Cause. The old man we called “Uncle Bach,” a little, short, fat man but good and black while Aunt Polly was a yellow woman. While the services were going on one day, I slipped around where Uncle Bach was, picked up his stovepipe hat and put it and walked back and sat down by the side of Cousin Wright Holmes. This I do not remember but Mother told me the old man could hardly contain himself, he was so tickled.
Before I was two years old, Father had bought a small farm a mile or so from Grandfather’s which was still in his possession until within a few years of my marriage.
On it was a hewed log house, it had a brick chimney and nice fireplace; locust trees were west, north and south, the yard sloped east and west and down the western, perhaps a hundred feet, was the well. I remember that Mother had a kind of shed over it; it seems to me now that it was a kind of lattice work covered with vines and I remember that mother did her washing here in the summer time.
It was in this home that I remember seeing Grandfather Stutesman. He tried to take me in his arms but I would not have it so and I went out to where mother was doing what she alled “hackling flax.” I remember Grandfather wanted to help her—this too is just a flash of memory but vivid all the same.
In this house my sister Ann was born the 28th of March 1843 and here I tried to make her take a drink of water one day when Father and Mother had stepped out to the house. A minute longer and I would have silenced her forever. Father came in just in time to save her. I do not remember this but I do remember climbing on a chair beside the bureau and standing on it until I had torn the pictures, or some of them, from a schoolbook, a reader, I think, of Mother’s. When Father questioned me I remember I told him a lie, it never entered my mind there was no one else to do it. I know that nothing but my infancy kept me from punishment, for a lie with Father was something not to be tolerated for an instant.
For some cause, that I do not know, Father rented the home place and moved across the river call Driftwood. This river and Muscacituck joined and make the White River. Father rented and afterward bought a little farm close to Clearspring, a small place containing a store, a post office, and a few dwelling houses. The little house of one room with one door and one window was surrounded with beech and oak trees and right in the woods are some of my sweetest memories.
I do not remember when we moved or how but my sweet, dearly beloved sister Elizabeth was born January 15, 1846. She was born in a little house that Father rented until he could finish the one he was building. I suppose we moved in the early spring of 1846 for I remember Mother pointing to the freckles on my nose and laughingly told me of them one day when we had been playing out in the yard. Father had finished the house, all but the hearth. The window was a six paned one and the door was made with a latchstring that hung outside; everything but the string made of wood. The chimney was stick and mud that was built to just come above the comb of the house. The first time you went into housekeeping Harriet your outfit would have been very much out of place. Oh how well I remember it all. The little house was built on the side of a gently sloping hill that was covered with forest trees. On the same incline, Father graded out a path to the spring, which gushed out from under some trees. He also dug into the side of the hill and made a kind of cave or springhouse where Mother kept her milk and butter. She kept two cows, “Cherry” and “Plum.” Cherry was the one that kicked Father over once when he tried to milk her.
Sometime that summer Mother finished the house by laying the hearth. The spring furnished water enough to make quite a spring branch—it flowed through quite a rocky place at the foot of the sloping ground and there we children helped Mother get the stones to lay the hearth. We carried sand and gravel and small rock to fill up the hole left in the floor for the hearth—filled it up level with the floor then we carried large, flat, smooth stones in and Mother fitted them together, filled the crevices with sand and ashes and poured water on them and when it settled more sand and ashes was put in and then more water and so on until all was as level as the stones would permit. We were quite proud of our work.
I had never seen a cook stove; all our cooking was done on the hearth. Mother’s cooking vessels were skillet and lid, a small oven, and iron teakettle, a little round iron pot, a tin coffee pot and a wooden “poking” stick. The iron pot was used to boil meat and vegetables and was set on the fire or close up against it. The skillet or oven stood on the hearth with live coals under them and when bread, biscuit, cake pie or anything else the lid was placed on, and then a shovel full of coals was put on. I go back to those days and I wonder if I have ever eaten anything so good since!
On that hearth I made and baked my first bread with I was seven years old. I pushed a chair close to Mother, who was sitting close to the door, spinning at the little wheel. I made corn bread I suppose, as that was the easiest made. I put the pan on the chair and sifted some meal, broke an egg in it, then Mother showed me how much milk and salaratus (we did not have soda) and salt to use. I stirred and beat it, but I remember what a time I had getting the skillet and lid ready. The open fire burned my face and hands and everything was heavy. But the bread baked, Mother had her spool full by that time so she finished the dinner. As a general thing when I set the table I had to stand on a chair, set what things I wanted on the shelf below them, step down and carry them to the table.
I also learned to sweep; that is the one thing I learned to perfection. I have never seen one who could beat me. By the time I was eight years old, I did all the sweeping. Father made me a long whiskbroom which I used to sweep under the beds by getting down on my knees and crawling and sweeping with one hand. When you know, my dear child, that our bedsteads were nearly as heavy as a small threshing machine and no rollers, you will not wonder at my maneuvers to be clean.
At this little home Mother had quite a sugar orchard and, when the spring opened, the big kettle was carried down and hung on a pole that was held up by two posts driven into the ground. The sap or sugar water was caught in pans or buckets and carried to the kettle where it boiled until it was thick enough for syrup or thicker when it turned to sugar.
At this time I was a little, slender, spindle-legged girl and lived most of the time in Dreamland or had my head in the clouds so much so that things earthly did not appeal to me and as a matter of course was imaginary so I edited and published my own novels and kept the proceeds. Young as I was, I kept sister Ann and the neighbor’s children surprised by my outlandish tales and they all got the benefit of some of them for I did not scruple to enlighten their benighted minds how or where I got them. I was well enough acquainted with geography to know there was a Pennsylvania; to me the name suggested fairyland, something so beautiful that I told Maria Lindly that the sunshine always reflected colors on the ground, that if it shone on something green or red that would be the color on the ground. She hooted at the idea but told her if she didn’t believe it just go to Pennsylvania and see. As she could not go it was not settled.
In my thoughts and imaginations, I clothed myself in textures and colors something vivid and beautiful—the rainbow was nothing to be compared. Not for a minute did I expect them to materialize, but the delusion was enough to make me happy. I was not dissatisfied with home or anything. Perhaps where we lived excited my fancy. It seems to me now that the place was beautiful, right in the forest. We lived on the slope of a hill at the foot of which Father plowed the ground and planted potatoes and corn and Mother made her garden close to the house, peas and beans, lettuce, radishes, beets, onions; where around the beds of vegetables were “touch-me-nots,” marigolds, four o’clocks, bachelor buttons and princess feathers—old flowers we do not see nowadays.
Across the spring branch was a foot log and then up another hill where Father cleared a field for corn. When he got it ready he had a log rolling. The neighbors came and put the logs together and they were burnt. It was an exciting time for us children. In the woods were oaks, beeches, poplars, maples, persimmons, papaws, wild grapes, spice wood and sassafras and other kinds, yes, hickory and walnut trees. In the summertime Father would cut down large trees for firewood. In the winter, once or twice a week, a fire was made and the irons were removed, the ashes were taken up and a large back log was brought in. Then us children had to get out of the way, the log was rolled in and into the fireplace, and the fire was made which would last the best part of a week.
The fire was bright and we could read or play and if Mother sewed, which she usually did after supper, I sometimes held the lamp at her knee. You would, my daughter, be thoroughly disgusted with lamp my mother sewed by. It was a greasy affair, a little oblong shaped cup that would hold perhaps two tablespoons of grease. A wick was laid in it, one end in a lip and the grease was poured on it, then a splinter was lighted at the fire and it lit the lamp. Far, far above it are our lights nowadays.
For two succeeding summers Father taught school. One of the schoolhouses stood on the banks of a creek. The bottom was covered with broad, smooth stones and the large trees covered the bank. It is queer to me that I do not remember but one scholar and that was Dan Sutfin who stole Father’s pocketknife. He would not tell where he hid it until his father compelled him to show where he had driven it down into a hollow stump.
The other schoolhouse I do not remember so well. I know that one day I was guilty of something Father did not like, so he had me cross the room and sit beside a boy; this boy in particular always had a dirty nose. I would rather Father had whipped me and that is what he finally had to do. My feelings and stomach both mutinied against that dirty-nosed boy. And once again Father caught me in a lie. Mother had been called to the bedside of a sick woman during the night and she did not get home until after breakfast. Father sent me to the springhouse for some cream and when I got back to the house he asked me if I had washed. I said yes. He knew at a glance that I had not. I forget my punishment but it was enough. I was surprised into it for I was not thinking of breakfast nor of my morning ablutions either. I do not remember of telling Father another lie as long as he lived.
Here in the woods my first brother was born July 3, 1848 and Father named him William Graham for an old friend that he loved like a father.
One summer Mother made the whole family ready to go to what was called “The Annual Meeting.” It was generally held someplace where we had a large meetinghouse. There the congregations from three or four counties would come together. They would come prepared to camp, live, sleep and eat, and hear the Gospel preached within the radius of perhaps two or three hundred feet. This meeting was held at Leatherwood, Lawrence County, Indiana.
One day Father wanted to have old Brother Wright hear sister and Ann and I sing some hymns he had taught us. I suppose we did well for the old Brother asked us to sing some more and if we knew more. Sister Ann said, “Yes, we know lots of ‘em” and she started off on “Old Dan Tucker.” Father laughed and blushed but made the best of it.
Once I remember going to Grandfather's—I do not know who took us as far as the river, but when we got there we waited until Uncle Jimmie Harrell came across in his canoe for us. I remember Mother telling us we would wait for him. We all got in and he paddled us across. He told us to be still. I was awful glad when we touched the shore for I was afraid the canoe would turn over and spill us out in the water and the Driftwood was no little river. When I think of it, it seems to me like it was as wide as the Columbia. Then we walked to Grandfather’s and Father came. I do not know where he had been for he had not come with us. He must have been at Valonia, perhaps teaching or clerking for Uncle William Berkey. Anyhow, while there Father pulled my first tooth. It did not come out as Father expected so I cried for it hurt.
Oh how dear is that memory—Father put his arms around me, drawed me up close to his breast and held me tight and talked and pitied me. I can feel those dear arms yet. My father was always the one I went to for comfort or advice; he was a man of good taste, good judgment, and had a fairly good education which was eked out by his insatiable love for books and papers which he always had ever since I can remember anything.
Mother often said to him when he was reading, “Here you sit with your toes in the ashes and let the fire go out,” a thing he always did if the weather was not very cold, for he was oblivious to everything earthly. He would always laugh and get up and fix the fire when Mother brought him down to things mundane. He was the one man I loved with all my heart. He was perfect in my eyes, and he never did or said anything that I could not give a ready assent.
When I was perhaps nine or ten years old, Father sold our home in the woods and moved back to our home in the “Forks” which was between the two rivers before mentioned and close to the old Driftwood meeting house. The township was also of that name. We moved into the house that we had moved out of and then another brother was born and he was named John Harrell for Grandfather. The dear sweet little baby came to us on December 28, 1850 and then another sister was born September 21, 1853 whom Father named for Mother except he shortened it to Ella. In February of 1854 Harrell died of membranous croup; then another brother was born, Alexander Berkey, on April 3, 1856.
Then another brother, Clinton Thomson, was born April 12, 1859.
All this time my daughter, your mother was growing to womanhood and the darkness of the Civil War was gathering over us and finally culminating in spilling the hearts blood of our finest and bravest countrymen, both North and South. O the dark day that followed for both sides; starvation, sickness and death, sorrow and tears reigned supreme.
October 26, 1858 I was married to you father and you don’t know Harriet how little prepared I was for the change. When Father was approached and asked “May I have her,” he gave his consent rather reluctantly your father thought, but it came with this request; “Remember Brother Hollis that Kate is not strong and maybe she won’t fill your expectations and you will be disappointed,” And your father made answer, “I’ll take care of her,” and my child, not many poor women have had the husbandly care that I had. As long as your father lived he shielded me from all care and hard work. As long as he had a cent I got the benefit of it if I needed it and he saw to it that I received the best of everything in the house and the house was empty to him if I was out and all of this time I was not worth the salt I put in the bread as far as work was concerned.
When we started to housekeeping you would have laughed to have seen and tasted my first batch of bread. Yellow? Yellow was no name for it, too much soda! Did your father say anything? Not he, he said they were fine. I worried along until your father praised and said I was a fine cook, but oh dear, what a miserable housekeeper I was. Not because I did not know, but for want of will power. If I had been stout perhaps it would have been different. I was physically unable to do much and therefore thought it was not really essential to the happiness of husband or children to have things in their places so most of the time things were hung up on the floor. To make the most of a bad bargain, your father never said much, but most of the time he came home in the house he would kick the papers and playthings and other things that might be in his way to one side, make a path to a chair so he could sit down and then if I were near him he would pull me to his knee and give a caress I was not worthy of—he kept his vow inviolate.
The first house we lived in was close to Leesville, Indiana. Here I lived neighbor to your father’s half brothers and sisters, Gabriel and Joseph Robinson, Ann Wilson, Harriet Broyles, and America Pate. Harriet was your father’s favorite and he loved her as well or better than his own sister, Lavisia Hollis Brawner.
Here also our first baby boy was born Sunday morning April 29, 1860. We disagreed about the name; I would have liked to name him for my father, but no, not so. Finally, we named him Quincy and a lovely baby he proved to be.
Sometime in 1861 or about the time President Lincoln called for the first 75,000 soldiers to put down the southern rebellion, we stayed ten days or two weeks and lived neighbor to your father’s Aunt Becca Cornwall. She was noted among her sisters for saying, “Things were just as well off the way they were as the way they was not.”
We left there and moved to Valonia, my father’s post office for more than thirty years. This is in Jackson County, Indiana. We lived in a little one-room house for which we paid two dollars a month. While we lived there, one morning we went to the station and saw the first company raised in Jackson County leave for headquarters in Seymour, Indiana. As the train began to move the bugles and drums began to play “The Girl I Left Behind Me.” Never, never again do I want to experience the feelings that swept over me then—tears and cries from the women and shouts with waving hats from the men. How little we thought of the long agony of distress waiting for us.
Old Brother Mead’s son went to the war later on and never returned; shot through the heart. The dear old man lived close to Valonia and now I know what he suffered in loss of his bright boy.
While we lived here another son was born to my father and mother, Virgil Eggleston, February 17, 1862. In the spring of this year we left Valonia and moved close to Jonesville, Bartholomew County and the 12th of August 1862 another son was born unto us and then we had two boys and how proud you father was of them. (And then without a word he was named John Stutesman.)
In the late fall a train came through Jonesville with our War Governor O.P. Morton and a number of doctors and everything to make wounded soldiers comfortable. They were going to Kentucky where a battle had been fought. A telegram came to Jonesville for the best doctor and Dr. Price had but ten minutes to run to his boarding hour for what he wanted and back to the depot, but he went. It has always seemed to me I would have felt like a dog had I been in his place for he was anything else but a Union soldier—but he accepted the honor the Governor’s demand gave him and a free trip into the bargain for both train and doctors were pressed into the service without charge or price.
We also experienced the fright that John Morgan’s raid produced when he crossed the Ohio River from Kentucky into Indiana. At that time your father was holding a meeting in Madison, a city on the Ohio River but east of where Morgan crossed. When the news reached them the meeting came to a close and every man turned soldier, But Morgan did not pass that way. He went farther north as far as Salem and walked into Uncle Jonas Berkey’s store and he and his men nearly emptied it and obliged Uncle Jonas to pay him a thousand dollars as his part to save a large woolen mill from burning. All roads leading to Indianapolis were patrolled and guarded until the crisis was passed. There was not a man in southern Indiana had a wink of sleep till it was known they were out of danger from Morgan. But he was caught all the same.
The summer that Johnnie was born your father worked in the harvest. He would quit work Saturday at noon, come home, wash, shave, and change clothes, saddle Nellie Grey, and ride to his appointment, preach Saturday night, Sunday, Sunday night, and then ride home, arriving close to Monday morning.
Men were scarce and old Brother John Barnes told him that if he could help him and keep up with the work he would give him three dollars a day. You father said, “I’ll do it,” and he did, doing two kinds of work—while his hands were busy with the heavy wheat, his mind was busy with the Holy Writ and, he said, moving like the cylinder wheel of the thrashing machine.
Early in the spring, we moved to Queensville and your father took up the work for the district, that is he had to preach in two or three counties. In the fall, someone, I know not who, wanted him to sit as one of the judges, I believe on some political work and intimated to “save the day” there must be a little chicanery in it. Your father told him he would see him in____, and then pointed downward, you know what that meant. So he pulled out and then we moved to Elizabethtown of Bartholomew County, Indiana. We moved in the fall and YOU were born the day before Christmas, December 24, 1864. In the spring of ’65 we moved out to a little farm and between the Sundays your father put in a little field of corn and cultivated it, also a patch of potatoes. The winter of the year ‘64-65 was noted for the cold weather. The first day of ’65 was the coldest day. It was something terrible.
In the spring of ’65, we moved out to a little farm, and between the Sundays, your father put in a little field of corn and cultivated it, also a patch of potatoes. One morning as I was helping him plant and cover the potatoes, Brother Herard came walking down the lane and climbed up on the fence and said, “Brother Hollis, President Lincoln was shot last night. “ We did not know the particulars till someone went to Columbus which was 6 or 8 miles and learned of the Tragedy. And then our beloved Nation was once more baptized in an ocean of sorrow and grief.
The Nation’s distress had hardly eased up when your father had gone to Elizabethtown to hold a meeting Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Quincy was ailing; his throat was sore and feverish. Saturday evening, no, it was Sunday evening; your father came home and brought Grandmother Hollis home with him. I told him how Quincy was and at supper he asked him something about his supper and he (Quincy) could not answer him. Your father did not finish but got up and found someone to go for a doctor. I had applied and given him all the remedies that I knew but when the doctor came he said he had membranous croup. He lived until Tuesday morning, September 12, 1865. We buried him in Burnsville within 50 feet of the Christian meetinghouse.
Father had planned to move to Missouri if he could sell his farm so he wrote us to come and stay with them during the winter. As there was nothing to prevent, we went. It was a cold winter and one day the cold turned to a blizzard and Clinton, who was a small boy, came very nearly being frozen coming home from school. He wanted to lie down and go to sleep but Alex the older brother told him to run and if he did not he would whip him. That was what saved him but the exposure brought on the flux that almost finished him.
He had hardly got well when the baby Ulysses Morton, who was born Sept 11, 1864, took it and died.
In the meantime, Father had sold his farm and began to pack up. We had stayed with them all winter—in moving Mother could not sell some of her furniture so she gave me a part of her first outfit; the bedstead, table, stand table, and breakfast table and I had the pleasure of having them in my own possession for a while. They started their things to LaClede, Missouri and intended to stay with sister Ann (who was now Mrs. A. J. Plummer) and while there Mother and sister Ella, who was about 14, took down with the flux. Ella died and brother Will and sister Lizzie brought her back to the old Driftwood cemetery and buried her there by the side of little Harrell and Morton. Mother was very low and Father would not leave her to come himself. In time they started and left the old Hoosier state behind and found a home in Chariton County Missouri.
Perhaps less than a year later we received word that Grandfather Harrell was dead. We went to his house and from there we followed him to the cemetery where he had buried his two wives—my grandmother died when I was a wee little girl. I remember her in her narrow coffin resting on two chairs. I put my hand on her cold forehead. I remember how black her hair was and how close and narrow her coffin, but in those days they did not waste material. It was lowered into the grave without a box to protect it—there was a vault dug in the bottom of the grave that the coffin fitted into, then it was covered with boards and you may imagine what a sound the falling clods made. How many, many times have I heard it! The Driftwood graveyard contains nearly all of my relatives who died within the last sixty years.
In 1866, sometime in May, we packed and boxed everything we had in one box and started for Missouri. I think and wonder and I almost know it would have been better if we had stayed where we were. I know that a great fewer many tears and sorrows and perhaps fewer sacrifices would have lightened my life’s labor. When we started we went to St. Louis by the Mississippi and Ohio railroad. We left Valonia in the evening—I sat at the car window and looked and strained my eyes over the well beloved places and objects that forever passed out of my sight.
In the early morning we arrived in East St. Louis, took a cab which rolled on a steam ferryboat and so crossed “The Father of Waters,” went to the Planter’s hotel, ate our breakfast and at nine or ten o’clock took a train for LaClede and soon arrived.
Father met us and took us to his home in Chariton County, a double log house with an entry between with two rows of locust trees in front, but miles and miles of prairie greeted us. To a person raised in a wooded country it is a novel sight.
We occupied a part of Father’s house until we could build a house on an eighty-acre farm we bargained for. Late in November we moved. It was a little two-roomed house a frame and plastered, but it was new and clean and there we lived and there I went though some of my deepest sorrows, but I also had some sweet pleasures.
While we were living in Father’s house, sister Lizzie was married to William Empson. She lived to have one daughter whom she named Ola. She was perhaps two years old when sister Lizzie died of consumption in Father’s house—aged about 25 years.
In March another sister was born and Father named her Fanny, a very much-loved name, but the little girl was weak-minded and was a terrible case.
August 2, 1868 your sister Eleanor was born and in 1871, April 3rd, your sister Jessie was born and July 2, your half-sister Mora was married to Sylvester Eitel. Then another great sorrow overtook us October 19, 1869. Johnnie, our last and only boy died and we buried him in Father’s orchard.
The fall of 1873 we left the farm in the care of Mora’s husband and moved to Huntsville. Nothing of note happened there except your father and myself went one night to hear a Miss Phoebe Cozens lecture. She was a Woman’s Rights believer and a very fascinating speaker and every inch a woman.
In 1877 we moved to Kirksville, Missouri and there we lived about 14 years. We had been there perhaps two years when your father traded the farm for quite a nice property into which we moved with great pleasure. Also, your father with his iron will and true courage, was instrumental in organizing a large congregation and building a large house of worship, built of brick. Kirksville, Missouri is a loved place for me. It contains many of my friends and it is also the place where many sad and vexatious things occurred.
January 21, 1875 your sister Kate was born, a little, soft, round baby. February 11, 1877 your sister Ann-another half-sister-was married to S.S Davis (Samuel Stephen) and on November 21,1877 your brother Dick was born. God bless his dear ashes and may God remember him. July 28, 1880 the dear little baby Maude was born and 1882 she died aged eighteen months of bowel consumption and we buried her in the Kirksville cemetery and about three years afterward your Uncle Clinton brought the little coffin containing the little body of your brother John and laid him beside little Maude. Your father put tombstones at their graves—there is also one at Quincy’s grave.
I forget when Laura, your last half-sister, was married to James Van Horn but I think when Dick was a baby. She moved with her husband to Colorado. She had been married perhaps 12 years when she died in a Denver hospital leaving a daughter Mary and a son James.
In 1884 or 1885 your Aunt Lavisia Brawner died and was buried in your father’s cemetery lot and years after we left Kirksville her husband, who had wandered around from place to place, for they had no children, finally came back, took sick and died and friends buried him beside his wife Lavisia.
November 6,1882 your baby sister Grace was born—nine children had been born to unto us. December 23, 1887 my father died, the dear voice was hushed; the hands were stilled over the pulseless heart. He died knowing in Whom he believed. About 11 years after, Mother died while living in Nebraska and is buried there. Father was aged 73 while Mother was 77 when they died. Father, Mother, seven out of eleven children are all gone. Myself and four brothers are all that are living. (She either means six out of eleven children were gone or myself and three brothers or there were 12 children originally.)
Now Harriet, I believe I have written all that will prove of interest to you for besides my own life thus far you have the dates of all the births and deaths that I know anything about.
I will write you all I can remember of your father’s life and his people. Your father, C. P. Hollis, was born August 15, 1819 in Anderson County, Kentucky, which is now 90 years ago. Think my daughter of the changes that have been made in everything material. His father, Robert Hollis, died some months before he was born, leaving a widow and three children; William, Lavisia, and Craven Peyton whose nickname was Dick, given to him by his Grandfather Rice with whom he lived during his babyhood.
Of his paternal ancestors he did not know much. He could have known much if he had taken any thought of it so his negligence leaves me ignorant. He knew they were Irish and his grandfather was William Hollis and left several sons. He spoke of an Uncle Jim Hollis and an Uncle George. Whether there were others I do not know.
His Grandmother Hollis, he did not know her family name but I am sure it was of Scottish origin for it began with Kil—whether Kilbuck, Kildare, or Kilburn, I have forgotten. I am not indebted to your father for this but to his mother who told me many years ago. There were some of the Hollis women, one of whom was a Nancy Sill and another who was feeble-minded or nearly so. She at one time let a child get severely burned. When asked why she did it she told that she was tending to her knitting, a thing she was always told to do by the others and all she could do very well but she knew other things or seems she did. One time she was staying with your grandmother who was in a delicate condition. She (Grandmother Hollis) lay down to rest and fell asleep, leaving Betsy awake. She went to the door and opened it and witnessed the “Falling Stars of 1833,” a sight my father also saw when he was about 19 years old. The next morning when asked why she did not wake your grandmother, she replied that she was afraid it would scare her and perhaps she knew what a scare would do for her.
Your father’s mother was a Mary Rice (Polly). She once told me she believed her father, Beverly Rice, was English, though no wholly. Grandmother Rice was a Bata who’s Mother was a McKinney, all Irish living in the Kentucky woods, while the Indians were prowling around. Of all these I do not know a thing of their politics or religion.
Your grandmother’s sisters were Susan, Mahala, Rebecca, Letitia, and Melita.
When your father was a small boy, his mother married a Major Gabriel Robinson. He got on very well with his new father for he thought a great deal of the little boy and showed him favors over the other children and lots of times would take the switch from “Polly” and say, “Let the boy alone. What are you whipping him for?” But as your father grew older things did not go on to suit him. The Major drank a great deal too much Kentucky whisky so when he was about 15 he left home and set out to do for himself. He went to his brother William who was a wagon maker. He learned the trade and also the plow stock trade. He learned his business and carried it on in and around Louisville and in the meantime drank whisky and played cards and broke men’s bones with his fist and in time had to have his fist doctored for bones all smashed up.
One night he was sandbagged in Louisville. He did not know how long he lay on the street. He was picked up and cared for but the robbers got nothing if that was their intention, for your father never carried money or anything valuable on the street. If he had any he always put it in the care of his host or in the bank. I have seen the scar on the back of his head hundreds of times and many others.
Your father’s life was a continual struggle between good and evil. He was honest, truthful and conscientious. He had a temper that was something terrible and when he was young he let it have perfect sway; he let nobody dispute his word and those who did felt the weight and strength of his arm. He often said that he did everything but lie and steal. His maxim was that a man that lied would steal and a man that worked not did one of three things, which was beg, starve or steal and in either case he never saw it fail. He was cautious in his actions and caustic in his tongue and quick at repartee but he never dealt in insinuations. If he had anything to say he said it in plain terms so anybody could understand it. With him a thing was so or not so, nothing halfway about it. If he was a friend it was to the hilt and he was often deceived on account of this for he would allow no hurt against those whom he considered his friend. He was no reader, never thought of taking a newspaper by the year or buying a magazine for any kind even for me to read. He took little interest in politics for at least the last half of his life.
When he was perhaps 35 he had been drinking and came very near having a spell of first class delirium tremors. He found himself, one morning, nearly naked in the snow. He came to himself sufficiently to know he was quite a way from the house. He staggered back and went in and made a fire and by force of will he stayed there till break of daylight. Then he raised his hand and to himself made an oath never to touch it again as a beverage. At this time he was living in Leesville, Indiana and running a shop for himself. He got up and went to work and as his friends came in, he told them of his resolve and gave warning that the first man that asked him to drink would suffer.
Your half-sister Mora was then a baby and he began to think that it was high time that he prepared himself a decent father for his little daughter. He also began to think of the future and of the future life. He had never been religious, not knowing one religion from another, excepting what was called the Hardshell Baptist, so he bought himself a Bible and began to read; he read and read and read again for he was no visionary to take things for granted.
While he was reading for himself, the ministers of the town invited him to attend their meetings which he cordially accepted, whether it was their regular day of worship or protracted meeting. He listened but had been reading the New Testament Scriptures and somehow when they would ring in their opinions and preach it and expect people to believe it, he was puzzled. He did not remember of reading it and then he would read again and finally he made up his mind that the sectarian religious bodies were not what he wanted and there came to him, “Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.” (Daniel, chapter 6, verse 27.) He went to Salem Indiana and implored a minister of the Christian Church to come to Leesville and hold a meeting. Young people nowadays have not an idea of how preaching was carried on in those days—any man that could make the assertion that he was “called of God” could go to preaching and more than likely he could not quote two consecutive verses of the Bible, would rant and rave and fume and make war on the “Cambellites” with fiendish delight and all because in those days there was a pocket Testament in every man’s pocket and was read and read till they were ready for any objection or all of them.
While the Christian Church has not made a particle of change in her faith or ordinances and has moved along smoothly but fighting for every inch of territory, there has been quite a change of tactics in the policies of the sectarian churches.
During the meeting held by brother Jacob Wright, the plan of salvation according to the Scriptures was shown him, he confessed his faith before men and was immersed for the remission of sin. He continued his shop work, went to church and whenever opportunity offered he “talked in meeting.” Finally, Brother John A. Weddell urged him to prepare himself for the ministry and how different he did it from the ways preachers are educated now. He read and read and prayed to God for help and strength. He did not burglarize any man’s work, he paid no attention to any man’s writings or essays or opinions for they were something he had no use for. If they taught Bible truths, all right, when they began to speculate he had no ear for them. With him it was the Bible for and against. Anything else made more infidels that the writings of Tom Paine or Voltaire and indeed Ingesoll was mute evidence for his father was a blue stocking Presbyterian and his hard unbiblical religion upset his brilliant son and threw him into infidelity.
During his ministry he held quite a number of debates with Methodists, Baptists, Universalists, and Spiritualists. From the time he was ordained to preach the Gospel, he did it with all his might in winter’s cold or summer’s heat. He labored and left no stone unturned to further the Master’s Cause.
And after a long life of more than 80 years my daughter, your father died and left his struggles to do right, his temptations and difficulties all behind him. His last year was one of suffering and how often have I waked in the night and heard him praying for help and strength in the struggle he knew so well was coming. He died poor, but not in want, for his brethren ministered to his wants and he was kept comfortable, but when the end came how different it was from what he wanted. He thought and desired to be surrounded by his friends and family, but no, his wife and two children were all that witnessed the difficult breathing till the poor, tired, wearied heart stopped. His work was done—it was finished about 3 o’clock Monday morning, August 28, 1899, aged 80 years and 13 days and he was buried in Hamilton County, Illinois in Oakwood Cemetery just across the river from Keokuk, Iowa.
On the evening of June 20, 1901 little Grace died, nearly 19 years old and oh Harriet, Heaven help me, Dick is gone too, after a life of suffering he died November 4, 1908, aged nearly 31 years and my daughter, we are nearly all gone. A few more days for me and maybe years and all will be well. God love thee,
Submitted by: Jamie Skodack