Surnames of Memoirs
The Memoirs of Lois Clarinda Twichell - Blackwell
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As soon as he could get around he built a shanty 12’ x 20’ and divided it into two rooms. However, he had sent for his family before the shanty was finished and for two weeks we all lived in our 12’ x 16’ room. They had three children, Walter 7, Albert 3, and Charlie 5 months. Their few pieces of furniture we put along the sides of the room as best we could and covered their stove and put out our stove with a few boards over it, and I used to say we all lived outside in the daytime and inside at night. It was beautiful weather in the month of June.
Our lot and Mr. Lloyd’s were soon cleared enough so they could secure Mr. Henderson to plow them so we could get in a garden. Mrs. Lloyd was fond of a garden and had brought a lot of garden seeds, which she divided with us and they hurried the seeds into the ground as fast as they could. Soon the Lloyd’s house was built and they moved into it, thankful of a place of their own and that Mr. Lloyd’s foot was well again.
My husband got no chance to work at plastering as there was so little to do in that line and what there was had to be taken by a man namedPugh who lived at Bluevale, a little village about 4 or 5 miles East of Wingham.
There was in the village an old building owned byC. Tait Scott and Mr. Lloyd and my husband rented and paid the rent in repairs. The basement was made into a workshop for Mr. Lloyd and the first floor became a showroom for any furniture he could make, while the upper floor provided a picture gallery by putting in a skylight and other needed fixtures, so it made a very good room for the purpose of making embrotypes, which was all he could take at that time as he had not learned any other kind of photography before we were married. The art was almost in its infancy and he could not start taking pictures for want of money to buy chemicals and materials. He worked all that summer at anything he could get to do, roadwork, splitting rails at 75 cents per 100, and boarded himself in the hot weather. He also got a job whitewashing a large barn and outbuildings for T.G.Jackson. Our garden grew apace. I never saw one do better and we were glad when we could get anything out of it for our table. At one time money was so low that Mr. Lloyd and my husband could only raise enough between them to pay for 15 pounds of flour.
On the 12th of July there was an Orange celebration and for that day Wingham was a lively place. My husband assisted as a table waiter that day for the dinner at the new hotel where hundreds went for dinner and help was scarce. My husband was handy at this job, having been assistant butler in England and head butler in Montreal for a year before he joined his brother in learning the plastering trade.
So pluck and perseverance and sunshine and shower, with a kind providence our meals from day to day. I took in sewing and made a number of dresses. I understood cutting and fitting and Mrs. Lloyd was a good seamstress and she made the skirts of the dresses for me. We sewed a good deal for Mrs. Griffin and took for pay a quart of milk a day, which we divided between us.
My husband had the room and the camera for photographing but could not raise $10.00 required for chemicals. On one occasion, speaking toMr. Green about this, Mr. Green said if he would make out a list of what he required, he would get them for him when he went for his stock of store goods. That was very kind of Mr. Green and was much appreciated. No pictures had been taken in Wingham except a few dark and imperfect ambrotypes taken by a Mrs. Long who kept a millinery shop and took pictures as a sideline. As soon as the chemicals arrived, my husband prepared to use them and soon was able to produce good pictures. He had not taken photographs before but there was a man in Clinton who could do this and he wrote to him, and as a result, went to Clinton for a week and learned the art. The demand for photographs at that time was not large as the ambrotypes were most popular.
Taking pictures in those days was most difficult and so different from now when everything is made ready for use. My husband made his own baths, silvered his own paper, coated his own negatives, changed gold dollars into chloride of gold, distilled the water for his silver baths, fused his baths when they began to get a little cloudy and impure, and in this way was able to take pictures and develop them for use from the basic chemicals. He made a study of the chemistry of this work and understood much that nowadays does not seem necessary for a photographer to know. The picture business slowly increased and was a boon in that time of small means.
Mr. Flack built a house that year and my husband plastered it. It was his first job in that new town but it advertised his skill and there was no lack of work another year.
Mr. Lloyd was able to put up a small house that Fall 14’ x 21’ consisting of a living room and pantry. He put millstairs in the entry that lead to the attic, which he made into a bedroom. The two rooms of his first building became the two rooms opening off the new living room. They moved into their new place in November, my husband getting the plastering finished just before the cold set in, and Mr. Lloyd’s brother-in-law,Mr. Olds, came from Simcoe the next day. Mrs. Lloyd was laid up at this time for about 3 weeks with an ulcerated ankle which would not heal, but one day, as she was reading of King Hezekiah being healed with a poultice made of figs, she decided to try a poultice of split raisins as she had no figs, and this quickly healed the ankle. She had been obliged to sit in one chair with her foot on another and a young girl came in every day to do the work and look after the children as Mrs. Lloyd was unable to get around.
My husband decided to build a small house 15’ x 22’ and was working on the house as he found time from his picture business, and finally got along to the point where he could take the lumber off the shanty to complete the new house, which consisted of one large room for a living room, a small bedroom and a front entry and stairs to a chamber. Between the front entry and bedroom was s pantry. The house was enclosed and had windows and we moved in on a mild December 17th, having slept at Lloyds for two nights after the shanty had been pulled down. One gable end was not finished on the first night we occupied the house, but it was finished the following day. It was so mild that I was able to wash the windows that day while my husband went on finishing the house and lathing it. No partitions were up. For a few days he hired a carpenter,Mr. J. Haines, to put in the stairs and help with the completion. He got the bedroom lathed and plastered. By setting up the cook stove in front of the bedroom door, we were able to get much of the heat into that room, so that it soon dried.
By the New Year’s the weather became very cold and everything in the house froze. In the mornings, we were obliged to sit by the stove to eat our breakfast. Georgie was wrapped warmly in a quilt and seated in the little chair his father had made for him. Our bread, we thawed out in the oven and would hardly thaw fast enough for us to eat it, but with a good fire and with our cups on the stove, we managed to make our breakfast of bread, butter and tea, and by 10 o’clock it was getting milder and I was able to prepare our dinner more comfortably.Mr Haines came to go on with the work but it was so cold that it had to be postponed for a couple of days for milder weather.
My husband would gather and bring in enough wood that was lying around on the lot for the day, then go to his picture room and make a fire there. By 11 o’clock, people would begin to come in for pictures and he had his place comfortable and was able to supply our daily needs and even more. He did not usually come home at noon as there was often someone in for pictures at that time, but he was able to leave and get home by 4 o’clock when he would get on with the work of the house, battening up the cracks and covering them tight with mortar. A hole in the floor became the mortar bed as it was made up in a box placed underneath.
Finally, it became necessary for me to have help and a very good girl was secured and a few days after she came, our littleMary (10.2.4.2) arrived. One cold night, Feb 5th, 1866 a tiny little fairy came to loving arms that welcomed the little treasure. The girl stayed with us about a week after the baby came and then had to go home. Another young girl was secured for another week after which time we managed to paddle our own canoe. When Mary was one week old, my husband plastered the living room and by degrees it was all finished.
We had not much in the way of furniture. A homemade high chair for Georgie (10.2.4.1) and a smaller one for him. His rocking chair and a rocking chair for a homemade table and me. And then the addition of a bedstead or two and a bureau bought from Mr. Lloyd. Some needed chairs and we were quite content with our furnishings. We were young and full of hope and energy, and with two dear little ones, George and Mary, we were well off. Dear Mrs. Lloyd, our dear and ever willing advisor about the children was an invaluable friend.
Mr. Lloyd did quite an encouraging furniture business in the same building as my husband’s studio, and so they were often together and their friendship never ceased untilthe death of Mr. Lloyd in 1900.
Our little George was very fond of his little sister and we thought them both prize children and wove a fancy picture for the future of our darlings. When Mary was about a month old and our house quite comfortable, a Mr. Fulford, an Episcopal Methodist minister came to the village and, after calling on a number of people, started protracted meetings in Upper Wingham. The Wesleyan` Methodists held meetings in an upper room provided by Mr. Jackson, a merchant of Lower Wingham. He supplied a free room for the use of the Methodists. There were three branches of Methodists in Canada at that time, viz: Wesleyan, Episcopal and Primitive. There were a few Episcopals in Upper Wingham who favoured the opening of special services in an upper room of Mr. Srigley’s house
The town was growing and many outsiders visited it. Some visiting clergymen came to assist at the meetings. Accommodation was scarce and we offered to put up two overnight if they could manage with a bed on the floor of our living room. This was accepted and in the morning when I left our bed, Mary was fast asleep. While I was preparing breakfast, our guests having arisen from their lowly bed, I caught sight of Mr. Blackwell taking the straw bed on which they had slept into the bedroom. I called out "What have you done with the baby?" He said, "I never saw her". "I bundled the feather bed and bedding down to the foot of the bed to make room for the straw bed." I sprang to the bedroom and rapidly opened up the pile of bedclothes and rescued our baby gasping for air from her close confinement. She was a wee mite and easily overlooked, but none the worse for her experience.
Baby continued to thrive and grow andwhen she was three months old she was christened by the Rev. Fulford on Sunday afternoon. Mr. & Mrs. Lloyd and family were there with us too that day. It was May 6th, 1866 the anniversary of our wedding day. We had been married three years. Ever after that, in some way, we celebrated the day of our marriage.
Our Georgie was a lively and interesting child and Mary was like a little fairy. Mr. Lloyd used to say that Georgie was a typical Englishman, but Mary was an American.
So the days came and went, always full of work, with out two little ones to care for. No need to take in sewing to keep me busy. I was not very well and Mrs. Lloyd urged me to get out in the fresh air. "After breakfast" she would say, "Take your children and go for a walk as far as you are able, then sit down and take a rest. Rest a while and then return and you will be better able to do your work; and, as the dandelions appear, dig up the roots and drink dandelion tea." I followed Mrs. Lloyd’s advice and every morning with little Mary in my arms and Georgie by my side, would take a walk in the fresh air, and the dandelion tea provided a good tonic.
My husband had work at his trade that summer and with a good garden and a little to do in the photography line, times were not so hard as they had been. Some building was being done in and around Wingham. Mr. Lloyd’s business increased considerably and everyone was hopeful. On holidays, my husband did a brisk business in the picture line, but he did not keep his gallery open all the time. When the cold weather came and the plastering season was over, he kept his gallery open every day, as wintertime was the time when people had more leisure to have their pictures taken.
Toward spring I had a young girl to help me take care of the children. As yet we had no cow, but my husband heard of a cow 5 or 6 miles away and the little girl we had was at home near where the cow was. My husband decided to go out after supper, stay overnight at the home of the little girl, and in the morning come home with the cow and the girl would return with him.
When he left at night, Georgie was quite reconciled to his going for he was to come back in the morning with the little girl,Bessie, and the cow. But that evening, Georgie was taken sick with a cold and was very ill. I was alone with the children, but Mrs. Lloyd came over and advised me giving him a warm bath and wrap him up warm and perhaps he would go to sleep and be better in the morning. I did this and she went home saying that if he seemed worse, she would come over anytime that I called her in the night. About 1 o’clock, he seemed worse and I ran over to Mrs. Lloyd’s house and called her. I had a fire on and the room was warm and there was plenty of warm water, and we got Georgie into it and then wrapped him warm with blankets and after a while he sweat a little. Mrs. Lloyd stayed with me till his father arrived in the morning, and little Georgie was a sick little boy. Mrs. Lloyd advised a pack and we got him onto one about 9 o’clock and with cold cloths on his chest and head and with a hot water bottle at his feet, we watched anxiously, changing his cloths every few minutes. His fever was so high that his clothes came off steaming at first but after a while the fever subsided. Then another warm bath and we wrapped him up again and he had a good sweat and the trouble was finally checked. It was congestion of the lungs but after a few days he became our lively little boy again.
In any need about the care of children I always found a skilful and unfailing friend in Mrs. Lloyd. She had been used to their little ills and needs and knew just what to do in every case. I had so little experience myself that I had it all to learn.
One day when our little Mary was about a year old I put her to sleep in her little crib that stood against the wide windowsill that we used for a bedroom table. There the little one was standing up in her crib and had reached some matches off the windowsill and had sucked the phosphorus off some of them. I knew they were poisonous and was alarmed. I knew not what to do. Taking Mary in my arms, I ran to the door and called loudly for Mrs. Lloyd. She heard me and came quickly and immediately advised an emetic of mustard and water, I think. Anyway, we soon had the little one vomiting and the phosphorus was brought up from her stomach. There was not a great deal, but she soon recovered from our treatment and was none the worse for her experience; but I was a wiser mother and careful to keep matches out of reach after that.
That year a kitchen and bedroom was added to our little house and a half acre lot was levelled and cultivated and gave good returns for the labour bestowed upon it. That summer the little town had seemed to grow and there was a real 1st of July celebration and a large crowd gathered and did justice to the ample supply of provisions.The children enjoyed games and races on the banks of the Maitland River in Lower Wingham, July 1st, 1867. I remember the swings and the merry-go-round that my husband had fixed up for the little ones and which were in operation most of the time. The older people had a busy day but it was enjoyable to see the little ones so happy and satisfied. I remember Mr. Flack and Mr. Lloyd and my husband were weary after the day was done.
In September a little girl came to the Lloyd’s home and in November another little boy (10.2.4.3) came to our home. Mrs. Lloyd had now three boys and one girl while we now had two boys and one girl. (Alvin was born on November 21st, 1867) (10.2.4.3) (REB)
My husband was busy in the summer at his trade and often miles away from home in Wawanash or some other place but in the winter, the photo gallery was usually busy. That winter, our Georgie saw his first Christmas tree. The English Church had one for their Sunday School. It was held in a room over a shed near Mr. Cornyn’s hotel and my husband took our little boy to see the tree. He was only 3 ˝ years old but the sight was so pleasing and so new to him that it left an impression on his memory that he never forgot. The next year, and nearly every year thereafter, we had a Christmas tree at home to the joy of the little ones. The following year, the English Church built an edifice for their own use and Mr. Lloyd was the contractor. He purchased land from Mr. Tom Gregory where he had found clay suitable for brick and started a brickyard about a mile from Wingham on the gravel road toward Teeswater and brought brick for a new church. The church was a beautiful place and built to the satisfaction of all. My husband did the plastering and the ornamental work, in which he was skilled, but alas for Mr. Lloyd, he had taken the job to cheaply and he lost his little home in consequence; but every worker on the church was paid. My husband, ever friend of Mr. Lloyd, shared with him the losses. Mr. Lloyd lost on the building of the church, but his reputation did not suffer, rather it was established for skill and honesty. (As this man was such a friend to my G.Grandfather, I have noted this to be a significant part of my family’s history. Such Character. I can see what my G. Grandfather saw in him. I have seen it in other Blackwell’s. It must have been a point of true friendship between them) (REB)
The Wesleyan Methodists built a church a little west of where the salt block was later and Mr. Blackwell plastered that too. It was built, I think, the year before the English church was built.
Our little boy, then over three years old,(George) used sometimes to go there to the Church where his father was working. It was not very far and he had learned the way, so I was not afraid to let him go alone. One day, when he was at the church with his father, they saw a busy bee on some wild clover. His father drew his attention to it by throwing a pebble near where the bee was so he could see it from a distance, and he never forgot his first lesson in nature study. About this time, we began to teach him to read and spell. His father would often write with chalk on the woodwork of the kitchen and, as I was about my work, would teach him so he could spell the words to his father when he came home.
I remember the first Christmas we had. A new sleigh his father had bought him was at the foot of the tree and he was delighted with it when he spied it. Before this, his father had made him little sleighs and wagons, but this was a bonny new sleigh, shining with new pain and a real joy to our little boy.
My husband had purchased a half-acre lot onLeopold Street and, in consideration of work done on the English Church, Mr. Lloyd did the carpenter work on a cottage for us and in July 1869, we moved there and rented our former home. We liked the cottage. The land was high and the view was good and my husband bought two more lots on the same street adjoining ours. So we had an acre and a half, which seemed quite an extensive piece of land. There was plenty of wood on our grounds.
The first place we lived in was well cleaned up and fenced and now we had moved to where there was plenty of fuel as the trees were mostly fallen and poles lay about in abundance. The land was cleared up by degrees and cultivated and a good garden grew rapidly. A schoolhouse was built on the same street and the Lloyds also lived on it. The schoolhouse stood across the street from Lloyds and down the hill from our place so we were not quite so close to them as before. My husband had built his photograph room the year before adjoining our house and did good work there. Our sitting room served as a waiting room for the gallery and was pretty well occupied for customers were good.
Plastering in the summertime was still very busy and I remember my husband plastered a house for Thomas Henderson, a well to-do farmer who lived on the Bluevale Road. Our little Georgie had become very useful to me in doing errands. Once his father was plastering a store on Main Street and I would give him a little basked and a note and he would take it to his father who would send him across the street to the store with instructions as to what to get. After the things were purchased and put in his basket, he would return home with them, never failing to perform his errand and thus saving me much inconvenience and time.
That summer we moved into the cottage he was 5 years old and he could go to Mr. Henderson’s where his father was working. On the way he had to pass Mr. Lloyd’s shop and it was a great temptation for him to stop and play with Albert but I could see him till after he passed there and knew that nothing else would hinder him on the way.
On the 3rd of August, our Seraph (10.2.4.4) came to us; then we were a happy family of six, all healthy. (Seraph was born on August 3rd, 1869) Alvin, our second boy, had not seemed very well the first year of his life but by the second summer he was a normal, lively boy and Mary was still our little fairy. George was useful and going to school and was in the second reader. Seraph was healthy and we were indeed a happy, but busy family.
There was not much leisure for a busy woman, at least before Christmas. We had no well and had to get our drinking water from a well opposite Mr. Lloyd’s house or else from a spring north west of our house near where the C.P.R.(Canadian Pacific Railway) station was afterwards built. I did not like to leave the little ones alone while I went for water, so I used to rise early and slip off to the well or spring and bring two pails of water while the little ones were still sleeping, but they were early birds too and I could not leave them for long. There was a well at the English Church nearby that contained plenty of water but it was so impregnated with mineral that it was unpleasant both for drinking and cooking.
While at work on the English church and while doing something to the ornamental work on the front, my husband met with an accident. A scaffold had been built for the bricklayers and, while my husband considered it unsafe, the others laughed at him and declared it was safe enough, so they all went to work on it. But it proved unsafe for one part of it came down and my husband was bruised and hurt on his right shin and had to bathe it well at the pump. Though he continued to work afterward, for a long time he had to make repeated trips to the well for cold water to relieve the pain. He always felt some consequence of that fall and, whenever it bothered him, he treated it with cold water to allay the pain.
That winter after holidays, he did considerable word in his picture room, and in the spring purchased an additional lot to what we already had. The land was broken and half an acre of corn was planted which, with our garden and potato patch, gave us considerable to look after and look forward to.
George was now six years old. The principal of the school put him into third reader the day he was six as he was much advanced over those of his own age. Little Mary went for a while to a private school run byMr. Hessian and began to learn to sew and did well making a suit of underwear complete for her doll. She was past 4 years old and Alvin was 2 ˝ years old that summer, and he and Mary were often taken for twins, as they were nearly the same size. They played together and often went to the spring together for water.
The spring was perhaps five feet in diameter and perhaps a couple of feet deep, the water clear and cold. A board was laid across the front of the spring to stand on when dipping the water. One day Alvin ventured on to the board while Mary was filling her pail and somehow fell into the spring. Mary helped him out on the board and they came home, Alvin wet from head to foot and crying, and Mary trying to comfort him. To make matters worse, one of the neighbours, a rather crusty old lady, came along just at that time to get water and gave the kiddies a bawling out for getting the water dirty. Alvin was soon fixed up and none the worse for his experience.
That summer there was a picnic on what was calledGreens Prairie, across the Maitland River from the town. There was plenty of level land and lots of trees, but also clear spaces making a fine place to picnic. I put Seraph in her carriage and with the other three, went to the picnic. The weather was warm and bright but very pleasant on the picnic grounds. As it came toward the latter part of the afternoon, I took the youngsters and started for home, as I knew I could only go slowly. Soon I left George and Mary to come along behind with the neighbours. It had begun to look cloudy before we left the picnic but, as the trees hid the clouds, we did not realize how close the storm was. When nearing home, I heard the thunder and hastened on, hoping my other little ones were well on their way home. Soon after I got home, Mrs. Miracle came in to stay till the storm passed over, as there was no one at her home, which was near. After she came in, I left the two children in her care and hastened out to see if I could see anything of George and Mary. As I passed into the lane between our cottage and the English Church, there came a bright flash of lightning, followed by heavy thunder just as George and Mary appeared around the corner of the Church. I ran and soon had Mary in my arms. As I her up she said, "Oh Mama. I was most struck".
I always remember the sight of the two children, Georgie in his best clothes leading Mary by the hand and she in her white dress and white straw hat and blue ribbon on it, a sweet, fairy like little girl. We hurried on into the house just as the raindrops began to fall. It was a drenching shower but did not last long.
That fall we seem to have had much to do but I was young, healthy and hopeful. There was the garden truck to gather in and all the little ones helped except Seraph. She could not walk but was very good. There was the corn to be cut and fed to the cow. Finally, we hired a man to cut and stook the corn, then I carried it night and morning to the cow, and there was wood to gather. We had plenty of wood split and piled near the house but knowing there would be wet and snowy days when I could not gather the roots and other wood lying around in abundance, I preferred to gather while I could and save the pile of split wood. One Saturday in October, there were indications of wet weather and I drew up long poles and sawed them with the bucksaw into stove lengths, enough to last us over Sunday. I could use a saw but never could handle an axe. But the wood needed no splitting. I rather overdid myself but my husband came home that night and I had no need to do anything and I did not try getting up any more wood that Fall.
The winter came and with the duties I had little time to be idle. My dear friend, Mrs. Lloyd was very poorly. She had gone down to Simcoe in the fall to visit at her home, hoping it would do her good, and it seemed to for a while but her strength seemed failing and before spring she was unable to do her own housework. She had 5 children, the youngest being Willie, about 18 months old. Mr. Lloyd got her help in the house but she grew weaker and finally could not sit up, and after about three weeks of confinement in bed, the end came. She was worn out. A little woman weighing only about 80 lbs., she had been very active and incessant in her labours of love and kindness to the sick or anyone needing help and sympathy.
Her end was peaceful and visions of the other shore and the green Elysian fields beyond where she saw her mother and bright faced children at play gladdened her sight as she passed through the portals to the home for the weary. It was a sad home. Mr. Lloyd had hoped she would get better and would not believe otherwise till the end came, and he was left with his 5 motherless children between 13 years and less then 2 years. I felt I had indeed lost a friend who like a sister to me, was so patient, so kind, so helpful, ever ready with words of encouragement and advice. But she was gone. After her burial, I used my influence to secure a housekeeper for Mr. Lloyd and succeeded in securing one I knew was capable to undertake to care for the little group.
Mr. Lloyd was building a farmhouse in the country at that time and had to be away during the week, and for the satisfaction of all parties concerned, I took an inventory of everything the house contained. The young woman,Catherine Weathers, had agreed to stay a month until Mr. Lloyd had time to look out for someone who would agree to stay a year or more. Mrs. Lloyd died in June and before the end of July, Miss Lizzie Hawke, a friend of Mrs. Lloyds, who had lived in the family of Mr. Lloyd’s sister for some years, came from Simcoe and undertook the care of the family and she did well, and convinced great interest in the children, especially the younger ones, Louise, nearly 4 years, and Willie, less than 2. In fact all of them were well cared for. Charlie, less than 7, Albert, about 9, were made comfortable and she was kind to Walter, about 11, and all the family. She taught Louise to use a needle and taught them all to speak pieces at Sunday school and for a couple of years did all that she could for them. But her health was not very good and she went away to an Aunt’s for a time. Mr. Lloyd then had the widow Dayton for a housekeeper and she suited so well that he concluded that he would like to have her permanently and in January, 2 ˝ years after the death of his first wife, he married her. My husband stood up with them and our friendship continued while life lasted.
In November, after the death of Mr. Lloyd’s first wife, our little Ruth (10.2.4.5) came to us, a bright little blossom fair and frail and beautiful. We now had 5 children. About this time, or even before, my husband had been thinking of looking out for a farm as a better place to raise our growing family. I did not like to leave our cottage home. I had dreams of an ideal home with plenty of ground for garden and playroom for the children. The land was getting cleared up and was fenced but a 100-acre farm a little over a mile from Wingham was to be had on easy terms and my husband thought best to secure it and did. So we sold our cottage and moved right after Christmas to a rough board house, unplastered.
AMr. Whalen moved our goods with the help of a neighbour farmer and then with his team took us, about dark to our new home. We had eaten breakfast in the cottage on a plank placed on chairs to form a table, as our things were ready for moving. The farmer came at daybreak for our goods. Our dinner we ate at Mr. Lloyds, Miss Hawke making us very comfortable, and our supper we ate on the farm in our new home. Little was said as we all rode in the big sleigh across the fields from Mr. Whelan’s as it was so bumpy and we did not like it, but it did not last long and we were soon inside what seemed a dull and comfortless looking place compared to our cheery cottage.
I’d had help for some time, all fall in fact. When we found we were to move right after Christmas and would have little chance to do much baking for some time, I had prepared some provisions to supply us for some time. In a large two-bushel basket, I placed two or three good roasts of beef, then around that I put several loaves of bread filling the basket; and then I tied on a canvas cover. I felt we had enough cold meat to last but had several loaves left which I put in the top of the flour barrel. Then I filled our dash churn with doughnuts and a tin box with cookies and mince pies. I had baked and frozen enough food to last a month and these, with the Christmas cake and some other things packed in a boiler, rode safely to the new home. So we were well provisioned for a beginning.
After we got into the house where the fire was warm and bright and the lamps were lit, out first effort was to give all the children their supper, which was not hard to do, as everything was cooked and handy. My husband had set up some of the beds and as soon as they had their supper, the children were put to bed and were very soon asleep. Not so with my husband and me and our hired help, a fine girl,Miss Janet Thompson. We had to put things in shape so that we could get the breakfast and begin, early in the morning, the work of the day.
My husband had hurt himself before leaving the cottage and it gave him some uneasiness. He had procured a large handsleigh and had stakes put in it so he could pile on as much wood as he could pull up to the door. One day, while going around the sleigh, which was in the path, he slipped and fell, striking his side on one of the stakes on the sleigh. It was quite sore but he paid little attention to it and walked to the farm, leading the cow and getting her into the stable before we arrived withMr. Whelan.
We slept comfortably and arose early the next morning. We had found much to do. The chamber floor was made of loose boards that had shrunk so badly that they all had to be turned and put close together to make a tight floor. Everything downstairs had to be covered to prevent dust from covering them and, while Miss Thompson looked after the children, and tended to the work downstairs, my husband and I got the boards of the floor repaired and made tight; then we put what we wanted up there and relieved the congestion downstairs.
In this way, the week wore away and my help had to go. We had a good New Year’s dinner in spite of our dull surroundings and my husband began immediately to improve the house until we had one large living room and a pantry with shelves underneath them. Then the plastering had to be done. The house had been boarded up inside and out with hemlock lumber and the space in between filled with dirt about 5 feet up or more, to keep out the cold. But the boards had shrunk and the dirt around the edges of the floor next to the wall so the first thing my husband did after the stairs were in place was to lathe the house. This he did with lathe made from cedar rails. There were plenty of them and he selected nice straight ones. Soon the house looked considerably better inside. Then my husband cased the doors and windows and stained the woodwork and we felt more like living again. But it was a busy winter.
My husband’s hurt side troubled him for some time. A rib was evidently broken but it would not have been so bad if he had not strained it just when it was getting better, but pulling up a load of wood. He had to be careful for a long time and we had to depend on our boy Georgie who was a little more than 7 ˝ years old,(1871) to get up the rest of the wood for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, it was handy and easy to break up so he got along very well. We had only two cows and the fowls to look after outside.
It was a mile and a half to Sunday school and Church and the two older children, George and Mary, who was 6 in February, went quite often when the weather was favourable for a long walk. Toward spring, my husband secured a pony and harness and jumper for $25.00 fromJohn Ainsley and thereafter we had some means of getting about besides walking.
My husband still had the building for taking pictures in Wingham and one day we went to town with little Ruth intending to have her picture taken as she was 5 months old and had never been taken. It was about the dinner hour when we arrived at the gallery and word came to us from Mr. Lloyd’s to come over and have dinner; so we went at once, intending to take the pictures immediately after dinner. By the time dinner was over, a snowstorm had come up and, fearing the result if we waited very long, we went directly home and never did get a picture of Ruth.
There were maple trees on the place and as spring came on a number were tapped and we made 70 lbs. Of maple sugar and 7 or 8 gallons of syrup and a quantity of vinegar from the last run of sap. All this was very interesting to us. Then there was a few acres of land that had been chopped and waiting to be fallowed (logged and burned). My husband logged it up and burned it and then we had a plowing bee and five acres were added to the 25 acres already cleared, and we felt we had quite a piece of land ready for seed. As soon as weather permitted, the crop was put in and did very well.
By this time, I had secured the service ofCatherine Weathers as help for the summer and she was very good and understood the work on the farm and was kind to the children.
My husband took jobs of plastering which called him from home and the children and I were left on the farm with the hired girl to do the best we could. When my husband would go from home to his jobs, sometimes miles away, I would take him with the pony and light wagon and then return so we could have the horse at home and when the time came to bring him home, I would take George and go after him.
George and Mary began school at Holmes School, which was on the corner of Ben Holmes’s farm on the tenth concession of Turnberry, a mile and a half distant from our house. The spring and summer hurried along, filled with never ending work for there was always plenty to do to keep us busy and there was no time to be lonely tho’ neighbours were half a mile or more away. Our little Ruthe, a lovely little blossom, and as good as she was lovely, was just able to stand alone when she was taken ill on September 10th, the day she was ten months old. She was quite ill for two or three days and then seemed better. I thought her teeth to be the cause of the trouble. Then she grew worse again and dropsy developed and on the 24th of September our darling ceased to breathe. (1872)
Mr. Flack, a local preacher, and a dear friend, held a service in the house and she was laid away in a cemetery near Wingham. The children all loved their sister and Alvin, who was less than 5, cried so hard we feared he would be ill. George and Mary seemed to understand that she would be safe in the arms of Jesus. Seraph, who was 3, was too young to realize our loss until some time afterward, and then she realized she would never come back and we found her weeping one-day for her departed little sister.
But time goes on unheeding and present duties claimed our attentions. The fall was a busy one gathering the products of the soil of our first year on the farm. The children and I gathered in most of the potatoes and vegetables that year for my husband was away most of the time busy earning money with his plastering that the farm could not earn yet. Winter came on before the plastered houses were all finished and I used to go with him to his work in the township ofWawanosh and return, then go to get hi at the appointed time to bring him home. My help at home was good and reliable and I could safely leave the children in her care.
One particular morning I well remember. I awoke but did not know the time for the clock was downstairs and I was sleeping upstairs with the little girls, and being anxious to get up early, decided to go down and see what the time was and, not wanting to waken the others, I took the candle in my hand and started down. As I did so, I passed under four or five bundles of cotton batting that had been nailed to one of the rafters. As I passed on, I heard a noise and looked back. My candle had set fire to the batting. The roof was as dry as tinder and I knew it would soon be on fire. I could not see a blanket handy to wrap up the burning bats but there was a mat on the floor underneath and, in less time than it take to write it, I had seized the flaming bats and pulled them on to the mat. However, some remained on the nail still burning and my hand, already burned, went into the fire again and brought down the remainder to the mat which I quickly wrapped around the burning bats just as little Mary woke and asked what was the matter. I told her everything was all right and to go to sleep and she was satisfied and I heard no more from her. I went downstairs with the candle in one hand and the smouldering rug in the other.
My hand was smarting badly so I called Catherine and plunged my hand into a pan of flour that stood on the table. It was cool and gave relief for a moment. Catherine was on hand quickly and made a fire and put some glue to melt, also some wax that my husband used to make moulds for his plaster of Paris ornaments. I knew both were good to keep out the air and give relief to burns but the pain was severe and I nearly fainted from its effects but a glass of water restored me and I lay down on the couch.
The hour was about 5 a.m. The glue relieved some of the burns and the wax some of the blistered fingers but the back of my hand was still painful until I placed it in a pan of cold water that seemed to give the most relief.
The children got up and Catherine gave them their breakfast, and George, who was not past 8 years old, got down our Doctor’s book by Dr. Gunn and undertook to find a cure for burns. He could read nearly anything at that time and found a recipe for burns that we had all the ingredients for. Here it is: 1 tablespoon of sweet oil put on the stove, half the amount of beeswax melted into it. Then take off the stove and as it cools, stir in a teaspoon of spirits of turpentine, then spread on a thin cloth and lay on the burn. This was done and immediately the pain left me like a wave and I went to bed at 8 o’clock to sleep for three hours. The relief was quick and wonderful.
The next day I was to go 7 miles past Wingham to get my husband and, finding a friend from the country was at Mr. Lloyd’s, I called for her and she was glad of the chance to get home the next day. My hand suffered no setbacks and in a couple of weeks was quite well. The woollen rug on the floor had been the means of smothering the flames caused by my carelessness. A little delay and we could not have saved the house, as it was tinder dry.
The winter was passing and spring came on. George and Mary went to school and found it a long walk. But they were young and brave and, like young hopefuls, made their way each day to the little log schoolhouse that was scarcely large enough to hold pupils.During the summer months a little boy came to us and we called him Milton. (10.2.4.6) He was a bonny boy and the children were all delighted with his advent. When he was about 3 months old, Mr. Ingram, a contractor, who was to build a new schoolhouse on the 10th concession, came and asked for board for himself and brother and three apprentices who could not get a boarding place near the site of the schoolhouse.
As Catherine was good help and willing to stay, we agreed to board them. This was quite an undertaking, as our own family of 5 children, the older people, and sometimes a hired man were quite a family and five boarders meant much additional work. Breakfast was early so the workers could walk their 1-˝ miles to their jobs and be there in good time for a day’s work. They would come home for dinner but wanted their supper taken to them so they could work as long as daylight lasted. This plan was carried out and every night Catherine and George, with provisions for five men, and a can of hot tea, would start off in time to give them their supper by 6 o’clock. George felt the long walk home tiresome at times for he had walked home from school and then, after eating his supper, had to start again to help Catherine with the men’s suppers. But the time hurried along and our boarders completed the schoolhouse and got away before the snow fell.
One amusing thing happened in those early years on the farm. My husband was away and I was alone with Catherine and the children when I thought I heard someone calling in the woods. The back end of our farm and Mr. Wade’s farm was all timber and we had to go acrossMr. Wade’s farm to get to the side road that led to the 10th concession or Wingham, whichever we wished to go to. Hearing the strange call I was alarmed. I heard that a man named Swamp Willie lived alone near the swamp and sometimes got drunk and could not find his way home and became lost in the woods. I was more afraid of a drunken man than I was of a bear, so I called Catherine and she came out with me to listen to the unusual sound. As we listened, we heard it again and Catherine laughed and said "That is only the hoot of an owl". She had often heard owls but I had never heard one before so, with fears dispelled, we returned to our house and to bed. Not long after my husband came home. He had driven with the pony as far as Mr. Wade’s bush and left the wagon there, as it was difficult droving among the trees in the dark, and had proceeded to the house on horseback. He said he was just passing a large tree when the owl hooted but the laugh was on me for being scared of an owl.
That winter, Mr. Blackwell bought a very good bay mare. We called herJenny and she was much more satisfactory than the pony for Georgie had become a good driver and was able to drive to town or go anywhere after his father and I seldom had to go away from the house and was able to do more work.
The road was too long and the snow too deep for Mary to go to school in the winter but George used to ride Jenny to the side road where the trail was well beaten, and throwing the bridle over Jenny’s neck he would start her home and she always came back to the stable. After awhile the snow became too deep even forJenny and so his father made George some skis or, as he called them Norwegian snowshoes, and he would travel on them to the side road and hid them in some convenient place while he went on to school. With the aid of these he continued to attend school during the winter.
On there were many pleasant hours and sunny days on the farm and some anxious, trying ones too. One time, when George was going to school, our calves had strayed away and I told him when returning from school, he might look out for the calves and perhaps he could find them. A storm came up some time after school and George did not get home. I could see the trees bend and fall in the woods through which he would have to pass and the rain was falling heavily. After a time the rain ceased and the sun began to shine and I started out to look for him. Many trees were uprooted by the storm and near the side road I found his little dinner basket and I feared he was under a fallen tree. While looking anxiously,Mr. Fyfe came along the side road and asked me what I was looking for. I told him and he joined in the search too. But soon I saw my boy coming down the road safe and sound. He had gone down the road toward Wingham in search of the calves, tossing his dinner basket into the edge of the woods where he could find it one his return. When nearing a neighbour’s the storm came and they called him to come in and wait until the rain had ceased and so it was with a glad heart I welcomed him.
The front of the farm was a cedar swamp and a road had to be cut through the swamp and made passable for vehicles to give us an outlet to the gravel road that led toWingham and Teeswater. The road did not though our farm as it had been built by a man who had found it more convenient to build it through his own farmland than to follow the concession lines or road allowance laid out by the government. My husband sold the cedar on the width of our road to Mr. Taylor for posts. The brush was piled in the roadway to make a foundation for a road which, when properly covered would give us a good road from our place to the main road.
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