Back to West Virginia, Fall 1893
Lost on a Visit to My Girl: I got home Wednesday and went to see Jennie Friday night. It was raining, and they had cleared out a piece of woods that spring that I was used to going through. Erlo was with me, so I didn’t pay any attention to the road. As I came back late that night, I got lost! It was still raining and very dark, but luckily I had a lantern. I suddenly found whichever way I went I would go down into a deep hollow instead of coming out onto the ridge road. I thought for a short time and decided as I had followed a fence out that I should find where I had missed the road by following the fence back, which I did and was soon on my way home. I never got lost again when I went to see my girl.
Bartlett School, 1893-94: I taught the Bartlett School on Spruce this winter. The teacher the winter before had not been able to control the big boys (there were eight over 15 years old) at all. I had a little trouble but not much. I saw some of these boys at church the next winter and asked them how school was coming. They replied, “We are having no school of any account. We wish you were back.” This made me feel very good, for one of these boys had given me a lot of trouble.
Summer at Ellsworth’s, 1894: The next summer I stayed at Ellsworth’s, and we raised a crop of corn together. But the summer was so dry that the corn was no good. Stock of all kind was so low that it was hardly worth anything. There was almost no work to be had at any price. I was lucky and got a week’s work at 40 cents a day cutting filth for Uncle Elisha! (Now, what do you think of that?) And we worked from sunrise to sunset. When I was 75 years old, I made 65 cents an hour for picking apples, and I picked from the ground and did not climb into the trees-but this will come later, for I was not 75 at this time.
Moon Rise School, Winter 1894-95: The winter of 1894-95 I taught at the Moon Rise School north of Auburn. I had a very nice school there, but it was a very cold winter, The snow was deep; the house was very open and on a high hill far from any road. This was not a very large school, and several of the scholars did not learn as well as very high intellectuals should. Indeed, several of them were dumb! I would go up to Uncle Elisha’s Sunday evening, stay all night and go to school. Then I would come home on Friday, stay all night, go to church Sabbath, and maybe stay down and work on the farm Sunday (I had the home farm rented) and go back to Uncle’s Sunday evening. I paid Uncle for my board. One Friday evening when I got home, my feet were so badly frozen that Aunt had me put them in cold water and soak them.
I had one family that was rather hard to control, so I whipped one of them for not getting his lesson the second time. This made the parents very mad, and they took the children out of school two days before school was out. The father said he would whip me the first time he saw me, and the boy said he would whip me when he grew up. Some years later the boy got drunk, came to church at Otter Slide on Sunday night and inquired for me. He said he didn’t want to whip me because he liked me. I am glad he got over being mad.
There was a family of several children who never came to school. They were very poor. I told the children one day, near the end of the term, that I was going down at noon to enumerate them and that I intended to talk to them about going to school. They said the woman would run me out. I talked to them, and they were very nice. The woman said they were too poor to buy the books. When I told her how little they cost, she was surprised and said they would send them the next winter. She was as nice as could be. So you see that you should not cross a bridge till you come to it-nor ever meet trouble half way.
Our Wedding, March 28, 1895
School was out March 15, 1895, and we had planned to get married March 28. So I hurried to fix up the house, get some furniture, and get ready for housekeeping. I bought a bed, a cook stove, cooking utensils and chairs. We had some bed clothes, pillows, etc., and felt we were ready for housekeeping. I bought a horse and cow, and Jennie had a heifer that would soon be fresh; so we would have two cows. We also had a half dozen hens. Jennie and her mother had raised a calf together. When Jennie told her mother that she was going to get married, her mother gave Jennie her share of the calf, which was then two years old. This cow proved to be very fine, and we kept her till she was 10 years old and sold her for $30, which was a good price for a cow at that time.
Elder Seager was holding a meeting at Roanoke, but we hoped he would be back in time for the wedding. I got our license on Tuesday and waited till Wednesday to get a preacher. When Elder Seager was not at home Tuesday night, I got a preacher named Robinson. When I got back, I found that Elder Seager had come home at midnight that night. So you see, if we had gone there that morning, we would have had Elder Seager marry us. I have told this so that you may know why Seager didn’t marry us.
We went together for nearly two years before we were engaged and a year after we were engaged before we were married. The morning of March 28 (Thursday) was nice and fair. I rode one horse and led one with a side saddle (there were no autos then). Sarah rode another, while Ellsworth walked across the hill. The guests were Jennie’s grandfather, grandmother, Uncle Frank, John, Callie, Ellsworth, and Sarah. We had a very nice dinner. (Mother Sutton was very good cook), and everybody seemed to have a good time.
Sarah fixed the Infore supper that evening. The guests were Father Sutton, Mother Sutton, Uncle Frank, Cleo, Sarah and Ellsworth. That evening several friends came to spend the evening. Those who spent the evening included those at the supper and these others: the whole Meathrell family, including Tom Ehret and Watie. Of all those who were at the wedding, none are left except the bride and groom. Those who were at Infore and at the reception that night are all gone except Cleo and Julia, Rupert, Conza, and Draxie. It does not seem possible that it will soon be 56 years since these events, but time does fly!
Our First Year-Gardens and Chickens: I have but little memory of the first summer we were married except that I raised some crop and Jennie raised a wonderful garden. We planted beans the 15th of April, for she said she had plenty of seed and could plant again if they failed to grow. The neighbors made fun of her, but the beans came right up and grew right along. We had beans the 7th of June, which was a full month before others had them. We had plenty of beans all summer. Mrs. Colgate came over one Sunday as soon as she heard that we had had beans and said, “Jennie, let’s go out and look at your garden.” When she looked at the beans, she said, “Now, Jennie, you can’t eat all those beans. Won’t you let me have a mess?” So Jennie gave her a mess. Poor thing, she just couldn’t see something good to eat and not try to get some of it.
I remember that we had 7 hens and got 7 eggs a day for weeks till one hen went to setting (we set her). Then we got 6 eggs a day. There had been no chickens on the farm for two or three years, so the hens did extra well.
After the hen we had set hatched, the crows began to take the young chickens. I saw a crow light down among the chickens, hop up to one, grab it in its bill, and fly away with it. This made me so mad that I said, “I’ll get you old sinner,” and I did. I borrowed Rupert’s shot gun. I knew about when it would come, so I went out into the coal house and waited for it. It soon came, and I fired. That crow began to fly in a circle and went higher and higher until it went out of sight. I knew I had gotten it.
I never lost any more young chickens from the crows. A hawk soon started to take them (they will usually come about the same time of day). So I took the gun out into the woodyard and began to split wood. Soon I saw it coming and again I fired. It never came back! So I soon got the drop on the varmints.
The first winter after we were married, as I came home from school, I saw where a mink had been eating a chicken along the river bank. So I got two of my traps and set them. They were too light; the next morning I found it had got away. I had a double spring trap which was loaned, so I got it. I staked a muskrat to the ground so it couldn’t pull it away and set the big trap. The next morning I had as big a mink, I think, as I ever saw.