Surnames of Memoirs
The Memoirs of Lois Clarinda Twichell - Blackwell
George was so well recovered in about three weeks that my husband decided I should go on my visit to Nebraska. I was loathe to leave my children but wanted very much to see my parents. It had been 19 years since I saw them last. My mother, (Stepmother) I had not seen since we were married for she went East soon after my marriage and had not returned when I came to Canada.
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Before the road was built, there came a dry summer and the man across the main road had cleared and burned off some land and when he was through he drew some brands over to the side of the fallow. It was thought the fire was all out but a wind sprang up and carried the fire from the logs across the road and into our swamp. It soon reached the dry bush in the roadway and spread to the standing cedar in our place andMr. Whelan’s place adjoining. The children and I watched the oncoming smoke. Mary, the oldest one at home at the time was less than 9 years old and Milton, the youngest, was about 14 months. We had only a well and that was near the house and the water was low. We could only get 3 or 4 pails out of it at one time but in a few minutes it would run in again. I saw that if the wind continued to blow from the south, the fire might be carried to our barn and then it would be hard to save the house. So I planned to fill everything possible with water and have it ready in case of need. We had our 20-gallon pail iron sap kettle standing near the barn and filled it with water from the well. Then we had a smaller kettle near the house and filled that too. Then the tubs and barrels and everything available were filled in case of need. A little before dark Johnny Green, who lived in Wingham, and was Mr. Blackwell’s faithful plasterer assistant, hearing of the fire came out to see what the situation was. He set about tightening another barrel and filling it with water.
About this time Mr. Blackwell and Georgie returned home. When within a mile or so of the house they found a culvert burned out and they had to detour via a block of farms and the side road, about three miles further than the direct route. But they reached home safely and, as the wind dropped and the night was quiet, it was concluded there would be no further trouble that night.
The next day, in order to cut down the fire hazard, a rail fence was removed and we continued to keep every receptacle full of water in readiness for what might happen. There was no stopping a bush fire and all we could do was watch and wait and be ready to do our best to save our buildings. Of course they were rude building, but they were our home and they were all we had. We hoped for rain but the weather was very dry, the air was continually full of smoke and we lived in suspense.Mr. Kelly sent word that if the fire threatened our place, we were to go to his place for shelter and for two weeks the horse was kept harnessed at night and ready to take me and the children out by way of the side road to safety.
In the morning when we would look out, the smoke was so thick we could not see the barn and sometimes, when we opened the doors and windows, smoke would pour into the house. My husband could not leave home and spent his time in fitting up a milk house. He dug a hole in the ground 5 or 6 feet deep and about 8 feet square. This was covered with a peaked roof of brick and mortar. When it was plastered inside, it made a cool and excellent milk house, opening from the woodshed. Twice we feared the fire would come too close for safety, and then a shower would come up and check the fire.Mr. Lloyd and his men came up and watched the fire through the night on two or three occasions and different neighbours were ready to give assistance if need be. Soon came the equinoxial rains and we were saved, and none too soon, for I felt if the smoke and anxiety lasted much longer, I would be sick. But the friendly rains were sent by on overruling Providence and, besides the loss of several hundred dollars worth of cedar, we were spared the loss of our home.
The same fall I think it was, when George was 10 years old(1874), his father was working in Wrazeter, having gone with the horse and light wagon, expecting to return on the Saturday. Saturday afternoon we were surprised by seeing Jenny, the mare, come into the pasture. She had got out of the pasture where she was kept and made her way home. There seemed but one thing to do, that was for Georgie to go back with the mare. He was good on horseback and was willing to go, but when he got there his father was not there and the harness was locked up in a barn and he could not get at it and he must get home. He mounted Jenny and started for home. Night was coming on with a piece of lonely road through the bush to travel. It tried the nerves of a boy of ten but he got home about 10:30 p.m. and Oh so tired, and he had been ill on the road too. The long and lonely ride had been hard on him, but he got to bed and to sleep and slept and the rest was a good cure-all. That winter, December 15th, little Emily (10.2.4.7) came to us. We had a big snowstorm before that which lasted ten days and my husband did not get away from home, not even to Wingham, for over a week but we had plenty of everything needed at home and Agnes Wilson was with us that winter and she was a very faithful helper. My husband had a lot of cast work to do and set up a bench on one side of the kitchen and Georgie, being very handy at trimming the cast work, was busy at that most of the time. He had a seat on the end of the bench in a little entry way off the kitchen and was quite comfortable and out of the way. He worked at trimming the plaster of Paris ornaments while his father molded and cast them.
Finally the storm was over and pleasant winter weather followed, and then our Emily came.Miss Janet Anderson, a Scots woman was with us until after Christmas and helped to make things pleasant for us all. I remember the night before Christmas. The children had hung up their stocking and had gone to bed to dream of Santa Claus, and their father and Miss Anderson were busy about the Christmas tree when Alvin, who was about 7 years old, seeing a light downstairs, thought it was morning so jumped up and started downstairs singing, "I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year". But he was a little ahead of time so they laughed and had to go back to bed for another nap, and after awhile Santa would surely have his stocking filled. He did and there was the usual excitement and rejoicing among the children when they emptied their stocking and helped to unload the tree. Not one was forgotten, all were happy and so pleased, and so passed one of the many winters on the old farm.
The children trudged to school through the snow, making their own path to the side road. In the spring, (1875) my health was very poor for a time; then just as he began to improve, word came of the death of his brother John. It was a severe shock to him but he recovered and continued his work in the summer. We had now six children living, the oldest, George was 11 years old. On his birthday something happened. Jenny had a little colt. His father told Georgie it could be his for a birthday present. This was something to be prized. We had calves and pigs and chickens, but a colt! That was something to be valued. When it was two or three days old, I was told the colt was sick. My husband was away. I knew very little about colts but this colt must be attended to. So I doctored it as I would a baby, and much to the joy of the children, it grew better and the next morning was as well as ever. The colt was trained early and when three years old was well broken. George could ride it very well and it could draw a light wagon.
We had a little lamb too, and a Newfoundland puppy at one time and Seraph and the lamb were often together. The puppy played with the lamb and would never drive it as it did the other sheep. Sometimes the lamb, which spent a good deal of its time near the house, would get into the garden, but Seraph could always get it out for it would answer her call at all times.
The children were far removed from neighbours and I knew nothing of raising children in the town. We were within walking distance of the church and Sunday School and we were always able to enjoy anything that was worth walking a mile of two to see. But our lives, though full of labour, had much that was pleasant and we enjoyed having our children home at nights.
About this time, Mr. Lloyd’s stepson,William Dayton came to us as in apprentice to my husband to learn the plastering trade and was with us for three years and then remained a year longer to work at his trade and help us on the farm when there was no plastering to be done. Our family then numbered nine and as we often had hired help besides, we always had a full house. My husband set out some little maple trees to shade the milk house and they grew to quite large proportions in time. They were still there when I last saw the place. When Emily was a little more than two years old, Ernest (10.2.4.8) came to us, a fine healthy boy, making seven children. At the time of Ernest’s birth, my husband’s health was poor and he got word that his father had died in Minnesota. I was then anxious that he should go and visit his remaining relatives. His brother John had died two years before, leaving a widow and six children, and now his father was gone. He had never seen his sister Sophia and adopted brother Bill since they had come from England. (Ernest is the Grandfather of the Webmaster) (REB)
On the 27th of March 1877, he started on his visit taking Mary with him. She was 11 years old and very handy in doing little things and if her father were to take sick, she could wait on him and write letters home for him, and she proved to be very helpful company for him.He visited his brother’s (John Blackwell 10.2.3) widow at Litchfield, (Mary Jane McGannon) and, after a rest, and improved in health, he went to his brother Henry (10.2.5) at Holmes City. His sister Sophia (10.2.2) had married (George W Frost) and lived not far from Henry. While there, he was able to plaster his brother’s (Henry Blackwell) house and then later returned to Litchfield and papered his sister’s (Sophia) house to make it more comfortable for them. His health gradually improved and he returned in May (1877) much better than when he left.
George had been a great comfort to me while his father was away. He was now thirteen years old and was doing well at school and at home. However, we were glad when father and Mary returned and we were once again all under one roof. Soon after, I had a pleasant vacation atTiverton, near Kincardine, spending a week with Mrs. Bagsley, formerly the Janet Thompson who had helped me when we moved to the farm. I left Mrs. Brady at home in charge of the housekeeping.
The following spring, we made some changes, sold the west half of our farm to aMr. Harris, and bought the gore in front of the 50 acres we retained. We built a house on it so we could live on the gravel road and the farm work would then be a quarter of a mile from the house. It would be further from school though, unless we sent the children to Wingham.
Before this,Mary had spelled down the school at the 10th concession, receiving the prize, much to the surprise of us all and herself included. She was, however, a diligent pupil.
When we sold the farm, it was necessary for us to let the new owner move in so he could put in the crop that spring. So we gave up three rooms in the house and crowded ourselves into the remaining rooms and I had to let my hired help go, as we had no room to accommodate her. Mr.Lloyd and his men built the new house and we had them in, five of them, every day for dinner. We moved early in April. The new house was not yet plastered but was all lathed and ready. It was a good house; the kitchen, the woodshed and the cook aboveground storehouse were added afterwards. We had two large rooms and a bedroom and pantry downstairs, and four bedrooms with closets upstairs. It was plastered during the summer and we were very comfortable except for the long distance to school and to care for the stock.
But the new tenant on the farm began to tire of the place for it was too lonely for him. The neighbours were not near enough, so he wanted to sell out and Mr. Blackwell bought the place back from him, giving him the new house, and we moved back to our farm.The last of February, when Ernest was two years old (1879), Laura (10.2.4.9) came to us, a winsome child, and so still the family grew. With every newcomer some change or addition was made to the house till it extended 70 feet from one end to the other, including the milk house. There was some range for the children and many the good times they had running in and out of the house and in the shade of the maple trees and around the well, which gave the best water there was anywhere.
The farm produced good crops. One year a ten-acre field of fall wheat produced the best samples that went into Wingham to market. We set out a nice little orchard in a spot where we intended in the future to build a new house.
The children had their pets and among these were a lot of tame rabbits that were very interesting and, on summer evenings, we used to see the little white rabbits playing in the clover fields.About this time, my husband’s younger brother Henry visited us. He and my husband had often talked of living near each other and as the Bruce Mines country was opening up for settlement, Henry thought he would visit us in Ontario and the two brothers would go to Bruce Mines together and, if they liked the country, Henry (10.2.5) would sell out in Minnesota and they would both take land together in the new country. They spent two weeks exploring the country but saw nothing that would entice them to give up their old homes and so they returned, both satisfied that they could do no better than they already had at present.
Before they left for Bruce Mines,Laura, who was very shy and about 14 months old, would not go to her Uncle Henry, but when the brother returned, Henry came into the house first and Laura went straight to her uncle. She evidently took him for her father, as there was some resemblance between them and their voices as there voices were much alike. When her father came in she looked from one to the other and was puzzled, but soon realized her mistake. However, she was not shy with her uncle after that. A few days after Henry left for his home in Minnesota and my husband continued to improve his place and clear up the farm, content to remain where he was. I had begun to think of visiting Nebraska at this time, but I did not go for a couple of years. My eldest brother (Dwight) and my parents Royal & Almena) had moved there from Minnesota.
Meanwhile, Norma had come to us and was a lively little girl and I could not think of taking her over the long road and to leave the rest of the family at home would be too much for Mary to take care of. But I longed to see my parents once more and as Mrs. Wade, a near neighbour, had offered to take Norma and take care of her in my absence, it seemed that I might easily leave the others, taking Emily, who was about 6 years old, with me; but just when I was nearly ready to go George met with an accident.
His father and he were taking logs to the mill and in unloading them, with the help of another man, George was struck on the side of the head by a log that somehow had caught on the hind wheel of the wagon and he dropped unconscious to the ground. His father reared that he would never revive but as they were taking him into the mill office nearby, he groaned, so they knew that he was still alive. But blood was coming from his nose, ears and mouth. The Doctor could not tell how badly he was hurt but his head had received a severe blow. A bed of shaving was made in a light wagon and he was brought home about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. My husband dispatched a note with a boy, telling me to have a place ready for him, as he had been hurt. He was still unconscious when he arrived home and we watched by him till 2 o’clock in the morning when he spoke to me, and we were much encouraged when he knew us. For two or three days, his head was numb and when the pain began, we knew his poor head was beginning to settle itself back to its former shape.
One eye had been jarred out of shape so that it looked cross-eyed and everything he was looked double to him. A cap on the wall, a house in the distance or a person on the street, all when looked at with both eyes showed two objects instead and in order to see it correctly he had to use one eye. It did not make any difference which one. It was 3 months before he could see right, but much longer before he looked right.
Milton was past 8, Ernest 5, and Laura 3 when I bade them goodbye and, taking Emily with me, we left Norma with Mrs. Wade and all seemed glad that I was to have a holiday. I left March 27th 1882.
I started in the evening and we went as far as London, where I stayed all night and took an early train for Detroit, arriving there in the early afternoon. (28th of March) I went to Mrs. Beurge’s who was the daughter of an old neighbour, and was a station agent at one of the Detroit stations. I spent the night with these friends and the next day, (29th) Mr. Beurge went with me and helped me get my ticket to Bradshaw, Nebraska. I bought a landseeker ticket, that being the most desirable and giving good accommodation all the way through. I left, expecting to reach Bradshaw the last of March, but a wreck had occurred on the road to a previous train and our train was so delayed while they cleared the road, that we failed to make connections and I had to spend a good part of a day at St. Louis, and some hours at Kansas City, Nebraska and so did not get to Bradshaw till 4 p.m. on April 1st 1882.
There was no stage to Arbourville. The country place where my parents and brother Dwight lived. He carried the mail once a week from Bradshaw on Fridays and if I had got into town on time, I would have had a ride home with brother and his wife, who also came on the same train as I did from York, where she had been visiting with her sister. But they did not know that I was coming as I had not advised them. I finally found a chance to ride in a farmer’s rig who lived about two miles from my father’s place but, as we did not leave Bradshaw till 10 o’clock it was nearly midnight when we arrived at his place. The young lady there told me that if I would stay with them she would take me over in the morning. I and my little girl were very tired so I gladly accepted their hospitality. In the morning, the mother told me she had been over to the drug store in the village of Arborville and the day before and heard them saying in the store that my father was very ill. This was unexpected as he was very well when my mother last wrote. After breakfast, the young lady took me home in the wagon. As we neared and it seemed to me the stir about the place was unusual for Sunday morning. (April 3 1882)
The man on horseback met us, then turned back and followed us to the house.
As we got out of the wagon he asked me if I was Mr. Twichell’s daughter from
Canada. I told him I was and asked if I was prepared for bad news. Then he told
me that my father had died last night. We entered the house where my mother and
brother and his wife were but they did not know me. Nineteen years had made a
greater change in me than in they. The young lady had introduced me as
Blackburn, not having rightly understood my name, so I did not enlighten them. I
had a sister Emily who had died and my little girl was named Emily for her.
Thinking mother would understand I said, "This is Emily". Still she did not
catch the idea of who I was. My heart was full. Then I said
"Won’t any of you know me?" and then I burst into tears. Then they understood and I was clasped in fond embraces.
The man on horseback, who had met me and told me the news, saw my trunk in the wagon and thought I must be the daughter from Canada. I was very tired after my journey and, after a look at the silent form of my father, who could no longer speak to me; I went to bed and slept. I had been traveling four days and had slept but a few hours before. The funeral was arranged for Monday.Mr. Harrison, who had been in Colorado, had returned the day before. He was a Minister and valued friend and as soon as word was sent to him, he came down to preach the funeral sermon. It was a large funeral for a country place. My parents had lived there seven years and were acquainted with all. Mr. Harrison was well known also as a Congregation minister when he lived there as a young man. He had come there, broken in health, and made his home at our place when traveling for the Bible Society in that part of the land. It seemed providential that he had arrived from Colorado and I from Canada about the same day and he was the one above all other that we wished to have with us on this sad occasion when my Father was laid to rest in the little cemetery of Arborville. There was present at the funeral my eldest brother Dwight and his wife and daughter, the daughter’s husband and his little girl, and a girl who had lived with my parents and had come with them from Minnesota and had since married in York. Her husband was also there. Myself and Emily and my widowed mother completed our number. Father had been 80 years old on the previous November 1st. (1881)
I remained with mother for two weeks, as long as I could, and then returned home, leaving her to her lonely life, with the promise that she might come to see me later, but at present she would stay and settle the affairs before she could think of leaving home. My brotherDwight lived about ˝ a mile from her and would look after anything she needed.
I started home early in May. Nebraska prairies were green and the wild flowers were beginning to bloom. I reached home on May 5th, 1882 and had been away about 6 weeks. While saddened by the unexpected death of my father, I was glad that I was there to see him taken to his last resting place, and comforted, for a time, my bereaved mother. My family had all been well in by absence and my baby girl did not know me at first but soon remembered who I was.
The winter before my trip, my husband worked in the cedar swamp most of the time and Alvin worked with him. Alvin had never seemed as rugged and strong as George and when he was about ten or eleven we kept him out of school for a few months as he could not seem to stand the long walk and the close attention to his books, so we gave him a chance, if possible, to recoup. But he was always a busy boy and when ten years old, he milked our two cows regularly all winter because he like to. The winter they worked in the swamp, Alvin was about 14 and while his father cut down the trees, he would haul them to the road with a horse and chain. He had a narrow escape from serious injury one day when the horse ran away down the swamp road. Alvin was hinging on tho the reins when they struck a stump and he fell down. The hook of the chain caught in his overalls and tore the side out of them but the hood did not let go and Alvin was dragged down the road feet first until the horse was stopped by someone coming up the road. In spite of this experience, he was little the worse but it was almost a marvel that he was not badly hurt if not killed. Both he and his father’s health improved after that winter working among the cedars. Perhaps cause of the good health all of us enjoyed.
The summer after my return from Nebraska was, as usual, a busy one. My husband had taken the job of plastering the house ofJudge McCrae of Sault. St. Marie when he had been at Bruce Mines with his brother the year before. About September 30th, he went up to the job and they had a serious time going up for they had bought a horse for Mr. Murton, whose acquaintance had made while up there before. George rode the horse to Kincardine and his father and I went by train. The distance was about 30 miles. Unfortunately, it began to rain before George had half completed his journey and he got wet to the skin. Then a Northwest wind blew up and it turned cold. He stopped at a wayside Tavern, the Black Horse, where he was to have stayed all night but the accommodation was so poor both for man and beast that, though he was wet and cold, he decided to go on to Kincardine where his father was expecting him to board the boat with the horse. He arrived at Kincardine about 1 o’clock in the morning, got his horse taken care of and then went to bed without getting warm or having anything to eat. There he lay and shivered all night. His father and I, not expecting him till the next day, knew nothing of his arrival till the next day, which was a dull drizzly day with so much wind on the lake that the boat did not leave to the See, and I returned home without seeing them off. I was glad to get home for I had taken a cold and was nearly sick before I took the train and, such a time, there is no place like home.
The boat did not leave for the Soo until the next day and arrived about 4 p.m. on Sunday after a very rough and dangerous trip and over two days behind schedule. My husband and George had a very busy job racing against time in order to get the work done and be able to take the last boat of the season home. They boarded themselves in a carpenter shop that was cold and draughty and George caught catarrh from which he suffered for years. While there my husband made the acquaintance ofMr. Cloverdale who later built a house and my husband went up to plaster it in the Fall of 1882 taking Alvin with him this time.
They leftKincardine on the Steamboat Manitoba but a storm arose and they were in great danger of shipwreck. My husband loosened his shoes so that he might easily kick them off in case he had to swim for his life. (A sailor knows to remove footgear if they fall in the water. He probably learned this on his passage from England in 1850) (REB) Alvin had been sick but finally went to sleep. In the morning as the wind swept across Lake Huron and from Saginaw Bay it drove such a body of water into the entrance to Georgian Bay that the water in the passages between the islands was considerably deeper than usual. The boat was drifting toward the rocks and the Captain, thinking the water was deeper than usual, decided to risk his boat and the passengers by heading the boat between the island and the mainland. The passage was considered unsafe and a boat had never gone through before. But with the help of a big wave, she went through over the shallows and was soon safe in the harbor of Tabermora, getting in about 11 a.m. on September 14th.
The people on shore who had been watching the struggle of the boat expected every minute to see her flounder or smash up on the rocks but Providence favored them and they came through safely. She lay there till the storm abated the next day and then went on to the Soo by the way of Georgian Bay. But my husband took a severe cold and was very sick by the time they reachedMr. Murton’s place at the Soo.
Mr. Murton and family lived on a small farm but he was a carpenter by trade and worked in town and maintained a shop and rooms for his own and provisions were supplied and brought to him by his family on the farm. When my husband and Alvin arrived at Mr. Murton’s place in the town it was Sunday and Mr. Murton was just going out to his farm and he told them to stay in his rooms and make themselves comfortable and he would be back the next day. Everything they needed was there. A good bed and stove and Alvin was able to look after his father. Monday his father was very sick and when Mr. Murton arrived back with his wife, they decided he needed a doctor. One was got from the American Soo. He saidMr. Blackwell had inflammation of the lung and was very ill indeed. Mrs. Murton and Mrs. Cloverdale were sisters and were both very kind, coming in and seeing that everything needed was provided and Alvin was a splendid nurse and never neglected his father.
After I received word of his illness I was very anxious. He, himself, thought he might not recover and had Alvin write out directions for me to follow in case he was not able to come home alive. The mails were very irregular, sometimes coming by Kincardine then by rail to Wingham. Sometimes they came down the American side of the lake to Port Huron on Sarnia and then by train to Wingham. One letter took two weeks to arrive.
The day that my husband and Alvin were tossing on the lake and were in danger of being lost, a boat named the Asia went down in Georgian Bay and only two persons were saved. All the rest went down with the steamer or were lost from the lifeboats and the two that were saved clung on to the lifeboats until they drifted to shore. The same day we nearly lost our little Norma. She was 13 months old but not yet walking. It was a bright day but windy and I was wondering what the lake was like, when a sudden gust of wind blew the south door of the kitchen open. Norma was sitting on the floor between the door and the doorframe and it sent her right outside on the ground, much frightened, but only a little hurt. But her escape was so narrow that one side of her forehead showed the mark to the doorframe where she had been shot past it by the wind.
Before my husband left home, he had sold a quantity of cedar for ties to some men and they wanted to board with us. My husband thought it would be too much for me to undertake and to cook for a gang of from five to eight men, but as they were only two weeks cutting the ties, I told him I thought I could do it. When they were through in our swamp, they brought timber in another way and still wanted to board with us, as it was difficult to get another place near. So I kept them on. Some of them took their dinners while others, who were working closer, came home for theirs.
Mary and I found the work almost too much for us. We had them six weeks and were glad when they were through. It was hard for me to work so hard now that my husband was lying ill at the Soo. I could not stop to think as the work must ho on; but at night, when I lay down to rest, I would think and think, till by force of willpower I would put the thoughts away so I could sleep and be able to carry on the next day. When word finally came that he was beginning to mend, our hearts were glad, but it was three weeks before we moved to the country where his work was, but he was unable to do it although he tried to, working 15 minutes at a time. Another man was hired who knew a little about it and under my husband’s instructions; he was able to help a little. By the time the first coat was on, he was able to do the second coat and was improving in health all the time. They returned home after an absence of 7 weeks and my husband was looking so well that it was hard to realize he had been so sick with inflammation of the lungs.
Dear Mary had worked so hard and went to bed for a few days rest after the woodsmen had left. It was November 1st (1882) when my husband returned home. The winter was a busy one with the children going to school. George did not attend school but went to night school in Wingham, taught by a lawyer,Mr. J.A. Morton, under the auspices of the Mechanics Institute. He had not been to day school the two previous winters but had attended night school each season.
There was plenty of work to do on the farm and George’s help was needed. Before this, George and Alvin had run the farm while their father was away at work and they had done well with it. Mary did not go to school but took a few music lessons and was very diligent with the practicing on her melodeon that her father had got her some time before and the children spent many a happy hour around this instrument.
February 26th (1883) our wee Charlie (10.2.4.11) came to us and it took all our loving care to bring him along through babyhood and early childhood, but he grew and became an active little boy. There were now ten children and George, the eldest, was 19 years old. (1883)
About this time, my mother talked of coming out to us and we decided to build a new house and this was ready for occupation about the time Charlie was a year old. When we moved into it, it was not quite finished, but the old one was not fit to live in comfort any longer. George went to school that winter and received his Third Class Certificate the next summer.
He and Seraph went to school in Lower Wingham andW.E.Groves was the teacher. It was a one-room school with the average of 65 to 75 pupils so there was not much time for any special teaching but by doing lots of homework they made good progress. They boarded themselves in rooms rented from T.G. Jackson coming home at weekends to get fresh supplies of food. George went to Third Class Normal at Goderich in the fall. Mary went with him for company and to help him keep house. He was successful in passing his normal tests and was recommended by the principal to a school at the Second concession of Howich where he commenced to teach on the 5th of January of 1885.
In June after we moved into the new house, my mother came to us from Nebraska and stayed with us for a year. But Canada was cold and she was lonely for her own people who lived in the State of New York and had been writing to her to come ever since my father died. She decided to leave and I went with her as far as Clinton and put her on the train in charge of the Conductor. She was then about 75 years old but quite smart. She got to her friends the next day. I felt when she left us that she had not the mother love for me that I thought she had or she would not have left a daughter to go to a sister.
George taught for a year atHowich and then took charge of our school. In the fall we sent Mary to Minnesota to see if a change of climate would benefit her health. She was away nearly a year. The other children were all home, George teaching, and Alvin and the other children went with him to school, except Seraph who attended school at Wingham and came home weekends. Mary came home in august the following summer and Seraph got her certificate and went to normal in the fall and commenced teaching in Fordwich after New Years. She had a heavy school in cramped crowded quarters and it ruined her health. In September our Mary was married. It was the first break in our family and I do not think her father ever got over it.
Seraph was teaching at that time and, in October, came home sick with typhoid fever. For 3 weeks she was sick in bed and was not able to go downstairs for 3 months. In the spring of 1888 Mary was taken suddenly very ill and we were sent for to see her. For a month she hovered between life and death and I was going back and forth from home and Mary’s bedside. One night when I stayed home for a rest, my husband went over to see how she was and when he got home I feared the worst. But she lived. God was merciful and spared her to us.
The same year, Alvin left home and went to Manitoba to try his hand at plastering there. He was good at it and could do well if there was lots of work. So there was another vacant chair at our home. Another year and Seraph went to Bruce Mines to teach, near Echo Bay or Bar River. She taught there for 8 months and we sent for her to come home, as she had not a comfortable boarding house. In the fall, her father had gone to Manitoba to help Alvin in the work he was doing and, in returning, he had called in to see Seraph and found her living conditions very unsuitable for the good of her health.
Mary had moved to Brussels before this and in March her oldest boy was born Alvin in Manitoba sent for Seraph to come and take a school there. Mary’s husband went that year to British Columbia and Mary came home. In the early part of the season, my husband went back to Manitoba again and there were then five of the family in Manitoba and the rest in Ontario. At home were George, Laura, Emily, Mary and baby boy, Norma Charlie and myself. In Manitoba was my husband, Alvin, Seraph, Milton and Ernest who, though only about 14 years old was his father’s handyman and proved very useful. Alvin and my husband were plastering, of course, and Seraph was teaching school. Milton was learning the baking trade with Mr. Warren in Rapid City. This was the situation as I remembered it in the early part of 1891.Later in the season, when about ready to return home, my husband was persuaded to stay a couple of weeks later and plaster a house for a man who was badly in need of having it done. So he and Ernest stayed on and camped in the house they plastered. The weather was getting cold in November so when they got a batch of mortar made they put it right on and kept a fire going to dry it out, and slept in the house while it dried, working late and getting up early. And so they could get home for we needed their help at home.
Then my husband got word from Alvin to go toRapid City (he had been in Grewsold and Alexander districts for some time) and help him with a house they had to do. So when they got to Brandon, Ernest came on home and his father went on to see Alvin. As soon as he reached Raped City, he heard that Alvin was sick at Mr. Moore’s house in Pettipiece and the Doctor had been out to see him. In a few minutes Milton appeared; he had been out to see Alvin and took him to Mr. Moore’s. Father went out and stayed three weeks with Alvin nursing him through his fever.
Mary, with her little boy, went to British Columbia to her husband who worked in New Westminster.(Now a suburb of Vancouver)(REB) She stopped in Brandon for two days and was met by her father and brothers. When Alvin was better, Seraph came from Viola Dale where she had been teaching, and engaged to teach the school at Pettipiece for three months in the absence of the regular teacher. Alvin was better and able to be up and Seraph was to board in the same house and so her father prepared to return home. He had intended to go by Minnesota and spend New Year’s with his brother Henry, but when he had left Alvin and Seraph felt the strain of responsibility gone, he found he was about used up and his nerves in bad shape. He spent the night with Milton in Rapid City and started for Winnipeg and came directly home, arriving January 2nd. He was so unnerved that he could not sleep at night and it was six months before he was normal, not until we had sent for Milton in August to come home and take charge of the farm work.
George had intended going to Normal School in Ottawa that winter but the state of his father’s health was such that he could not leave home. In the spring, after the crops were in, George went to Manitoba instead of his father who was unable to go, to help Alvin with his plastering. This he did all summer, then taught in Manitoba the following winter. When he came out, he had intended going to Ontario the following winter and taking his Normal, but he did not go back for exactly 40 years.
After a year or so teaching and going to school in Manitoba, Seraph went to school in Dakota where our old neighbors, The Mitchell family were living, and taught school there for a year. Returning to Manitoba, she spent the summer there and kept house for Alvin and helped him through a term of school. But she was in poor health. The year in Dakota had been hard on her and she decided to go to Mary in New Westminster, BC. Before she left Brandon, I went out to see her and the boys paid for my ticket. I spent three weeks with her and the boys and then went on toMoosomin as my ticket was to that point, and visited our old friends John and Maggie Buchanan. John was teaching there at that time. I returned to Brandon as the boys were plastering in Hartney, and Mrs. Ed Bowers, who lived there, invited me to stay with her. I also visited Mrs. Drost and daughter who also lived there. Mrs. Drost was Peter Drost’s second wife. I then went back to Brandon and went out to Rapid City and to Mrs. Sam Moore’s at Pettipiece where the boys had some work to do. I then came back to Brandon and the boys seen me off to Ontario on the last of October, just as the first snow fell. I reached home safely and found all well. Emily had done a good job as housekeeper in my absence.
George and Mary were now in Brandon, Mary and Seraph were in British Columbia, and the other six children were at home. Then he thought it best to sell the farm and decided to go to Manitoba but finally bought a strip of land between the Boundary Line and the river, just inside the
town limits, joiningMr. Moffatt’s farm. It was a lovely place with a good view and Milton took a great interest in leveling the sand pit that was on it. He and Ernest spent many days improving it and then we built a nice brick veneer house on it and my husband built a boat that would accommodate 6 persons and the young fold enjoyed that very much. Norma and Charlie became quite expert in handling the oars.
While the house was being built, we rented a house on the boundary line west of the gravel road that we lived in that summer till we could move into our new place. That made some six moves since we came toWingham on May 1st, 1865. Our seventh move to the new house at Riverside night be our last for a time. We would have a nice home to have the children come home to when they could and there would always be room enough for all of us.
December 1st 1894, we went into the new house but it was not quite finished. The parlor was done after we moved in. Charlie and I were the last to leave the old house on the farm. We had the bird in the cage and several other things to carry in our hands. The summer was full of interest, seeing our new house go up and the land leveled and the trees set out and we looked forward to having a pleasant permanent home.
On September 8th, Mary came home from B.C. and spent a year with us. She had two children, Hallie past five years and Merle one year eight months. He was a bright, good boy and Merle, small and lively as a cricket.
At this timeMilton had bought out Mr. Slemen’s bakery and started business in Wingham, which he carried on for some months. Emily kept house for him and helped in selling the bread in the store; and Laura boarded with them and went to school. But Milton took a heavy cold and was laid up for two weeks and had to hire Mr. Slemen to bake the bread when he was ill. When he got better, Laura was taken ill. It seemed to be a sort of fever and a number of people in Wingham had the same complaint. Some thought it was caused by using the water from a certain well on the same street. Laura was just over her illness when Mary’s little Merle became very ill. We thought she had taken the disease from Laura. She was a sick little one and we feared she would not recover. It was wonderful that she did but her mother never left her and for 4 days stayed right in bed with her little darling, keeping her warm and watching every movement, and was finally awarded by sighs of improvement. Our faithful friend Mrs. Agnes Wilson came to us then and stayed and helped until little Merle was well enough to be about again, but for a time was the sickest child I ever seen who recovered. But Merle’s sickness was very hard on her mother and on November 29th Mary gave birth, a little girl that was not expected until January. The little one only lived two days, which was a great grief to Mary, and she was very ill for a long time. In the spring, Milton gave up the bakery in Wingham and went west to Manitoba where he operated a bakery in Gladstone for some time. On September 3rd, Mary started back for British Columbia. She and her two children were in good health then. I went with her as far as Toronto and started her off on the through train to Brandon. Milton, who was then at Gladstone, drove across the country more than 20 miles, met her and boarded the train and was with her when she arrived in Brandon and there her father, who had also gone West that summer, also George and later Alvin appeared, having driven from beyond Rapid City to see her. There was quite a number in all, together with her for a day and two nights while she rested on her journey to B.C.
Meantime, Seraph in B.C. where she had a position as governess for a year, then studied in Vancouver, took the highest marks in the city and obtained first class permanent certificate. She had one also for Manitoba. Ernest stayed at home one winter after we went to Riverside and attended the country school on the tenth concession, going early so as to build a fire by 8 o’clock and have the school warm for the pupils at school time. Later that year, he went to Manitoba and attended school in Brandon one winter while Seraph was there. He wrote for a Third Class certificate but missed by a few marks, so never went on with his studies with a view to teaching.
Christmas of 1897, Alvin came home and was with us at Riverside for three months. He had the fun of catching the driftwood that came down the Maitland and pulling it up on the bank for that was the way we got much of our wood, and many an exciting run we had to catch the floating wood and guide it to shore during the years we lived there.
The winter Alvin came home, Ernest lived for a time on the farm the boys had bought though George was still teaching in Gordon. Later, Ernest went to school in Brandon. That was the year he wrote his Third Class certificate and failed. During the time that Alvin was at home,George informed us that he was engaged to Miss Mary Sirett, but that he would not be married for a year. At this time, William J. Kennedy was wanting our Emily for a wife.
In the springtime, my husband went west again. After a time George wrote that he wanted Emily to go west and keep house for him and Alvin on a farm at Glendale as they had undertaken farming there, though George was still teaching, but as Emily was to be married, she was unable to go. Laura had been going to school at Harriston High School, and then came to Manitoba. At New Years she went to Normal at Brandon and got her certificate and was teaching in Martin School, so she could not go either.
Norma and Charlie were going to school in Wingham but both of them came down with the measles. Norma was seriously ill and did not seem to gain strength afterwards. As soon as she was able to travel, she wanted to go west to her brothers and I let her go early in July. George met her in Carberry but had her go on to Brandon for Ernest and Laura were at school there. Laura had not gone to Martin’s at that time and did not go until after holidays. Norma was very tired and used up when she got to Brandon. Ernest met her at the train, took her home and she went to bed and slept until the next day. About 4 p.m. she took the train back to Carberry where George met her and she stayed all night there where George was examining papers. When he was through examinations, they drove toGlendale. The trip and change of climate did wonders for Norma. After she was rested, she like the country and the people and enjoyed her experiences as housekeeper for her brothers and they enjoyed having her with them.
At home we were busy as there was always enough to do although our family was now small. Charlie looked after the garden, and took care of the cow and there were chickens too, sometimes when there was nothing to do at home he would go and work for a day or so for Mr. Moffatt on Mr. Cruikshanks on their farms and earn a quarter thinning turnips or raking hay or whatever they wanted him to do. In August, Emily was married.Miss Louise Lloyd helped to prepare the wedding breakfast. She was married at 1 p.m. august 23rd. There was only Charlie and I of our own people at home but there were some of Will’s people present and the Lloyds. The bride seemed very happy. They took the train at 3 p.m. for Goderich and were away for two or three days and returned, taking up housekeeping in a part of our house, which was large and commodious, and with only Charlie and me at home, it would be lonely for me as Will would be away on the road peddling much of the time. Emily would be lonely too. So they stayed with me until October and then Will quit peddling goods and stayed in the store where he was a partner with Will Hill. They got rooms in town and went housekeeping by themselves.
The lonely fall merged into winter and then my husband and Ernest came home in time for Christmas that year. Emily and her husband were with us and with Ernest and Charlie and their father, we had our Christmas gathering while the rest of the family scattered in Manitoba and British Columbia.
In the spring, there was the return to Manitoba of Ernest and his father, and Emily and Will came to stay at Riverside for the summer. How well I remember when my husband left us in May. Emily felt his going very keenly and watched him as long as she could see him as he walked off over the C.P.R. Bridge for the station. Charlie went with him to see him off and again we were left behind. Our time to go had not yet come. Ours had been to prepare the others for going and see that their packing was done, wave the parting salute as we bade goodbye to those going far from home and then hold the lonely place together till the return of the absent ones.
Also for our plans. Our scattered ones were never to be gathered together beneath the roof at Riverside, and George and Seraph had never been back and never saw the place which was indeed a pretty place of two or three acres beside the Maitland.The summer was full of plans and the work of carrying them out, and the many letters written to distant members of the family, kept us very busy. Then came the crisis, when our Emily gave birth to a little boy on July 16th and two days later, on the 18th, our Emily passed away from us to be with the Lord she loved, leaving a sorely bereaved husband and a delicate babe, all that was left to a world that had not always seemed kind. I cannot dwell on our bereavement. Charlie, my youngest, was all that was with us now in our dark hour. But I felt our darling was taken from the evils to come. The Lord loved her and took her to himself and all was well with her.
My husband came home as soon as the trains would carry him and Saturday morning, July 22nd, we followed the remains of our Emily to its last resting place and she was laid to rest beside Will’s mother in the cemetery. The news of her death came as a great shock to her brothers and sisters and her husband could hardly stand up under the blow.
As all our children were now in the west except for Charlie, we felt that we had nothing to tie us to Wingham and we soon sold our pretty home and prepared to move out. I was not able to take proper care of Emily’s wee baby and my husband was not willing that I should undertake it. It would not be prudent to undertake the care of a small baby in cold Manitoba.Will’s father and stepmother would take him into there home, so after caring for him for two weeks, I turned him over to his father’s capable parents.
We were crowded to the utmost of our strength toAugust 22nd, we started our journey, bidding goodbye to the district in which we had lived since the spring of 1865. Weary of so much labour of leaving, we were glad of a rest on the train. I left on the noon train the day before my husband and Charlie and Emily’s husband, Will Kennedy, who had decided to go west for a time, acting on the advise of friends. I went to Frodwich on the train and went out to Mr. Cooper’s. Ella took a horse and buggy and drove to some of their neighbors and bade goodbye to friends who had known our Emily. The next morning, Mr. Cooper and Ella drove me to the station and I boarded the train. The others were on this train and we continued our journey to Winnipeg together, arriving in the morning a couple of days later. We proceeded to Douglas where Laura and Norma met us. After dinner at the hotel, we were driven in two buggies to Glendale where Alvin and George were living. George had been married three weeks before to Miss Mary Sirett and Laura had been there with Norma during the holidays and they had prepared, as best they could, the home of the brother for the advent of the bride.
A few days spent there and Norma with her father and Ernest went toMoosemin to go with the work there. Charlie and I stayed a little longer. Then Charlie and I went with Laura to Mr. Martin’s where we arrived just after dark and spent the night, just in time to escape a heavy storm. We had taken the wrong road to Minnesota, (I think she means Mr. Martins)(REB) which made us late getting there.
The nest morning, Charlie returned to Glendale with the horse and buggy and he was to stay a while and help George and Alvin with the harvest.Mr. Martin took Laura and me to Pettypiece where Laura was teaching and, after stopping there for a day or two, I went on by train to Moosemin, the new home. The home consisted of 2 or 3 acres of land and a small house of three rooms and a smaller house of two rooms and in these we got settled as best we could for the fall and winter. Will Kennedy, after a month of work lathing, got word that his baby was not expected to live and he returned at once to Wingham. They were watching the babe when he arrived, expecting its death every hour. But it did not die but lived through without gaining any weight until it was 6 months old.
In January, my husband went to Vancouver. Mary was there with her family and Milton was also there, so my husband spent the winter with them and they thought he might decide to settle in B.C. rather than remain in Manitoba. So, in Moosemin our family consisted of Ernest, Norma, Charlie and myself. The winter was cold and the little house none too warm, but we had two stoves, a cook stove and a small heater, and got along very well through the winter. Summer came and with it a call to go to Minneapolis and meet my two brothers, Dwight and Humphrey. I had not seen Dwight since the death of my father some 17 years before (1882)(Is now 1899)(REB), and Humphrey not for several years before when he visited us in Ontario with his daughter Addie. My brother Dwight had buried his wife a few weeks before and would come from Nebraska to Minnesota, and Humphrey, who had two daughters living there. He would meet me there and we would spend a week together. We had not all been together for 40 years. We met and had our never to be forgotten visit together in the hospitable home of James Chase. Mr. Chase was the husband of Humphrey’s eldest daughter. Their five children, 3 sons and 2 daughters were all at home then, the girls going to school and the boys working in the railroad yards.
Before returning home I visited Mrs. Good who was a sister of Will Kennedy’s and learned that Emily’s son Willie was soon to come out to Minnesota as his grandmother, Mrs. Kennedy, was pretty well worn out with the care of him.Kat Kennedy, a cousin of his, was to bring him to Mrs. Good, as she had no children of her own and wanted to look after him. So I waited till their arrival to see once more the baby boy our Emily left. He was a pretty healthy little boy, 11 months old and weight – about 15 lbs., rather small but he only weighed 6 lbs. At the age of six months. I also went to Lowry to a general meeting of the Plymouth Brethren and there Henry Blackwell and his wife met me and I went with them to their home about ten miles from Alexandria, and so made quite a round after a visit with my own and my husband’s people.
Returning to Winnipeg, I metSeraph. She was a delegate from the Baptist Church, Victoria, to the Baptist Convention in Winnipeg. I spent the night at the home of George Buchanan, a former teacher in Turnberry and whom we all knew. His wife was a very fine woman and they had three nice girls. The next day, leaving Winnipeg, we went to Glendale and spent a few days visiting at George’s. Alvin was also there; then we went to Moosemin and later Seraph returned to Victoria. Laura was still teaching at Pettypiece but was home for the holidays. My husband and Ernest were carrying on a plastering business in and around Moosemin, Charlie and Norma being home. Charlie had gone to school in the winter, but in the spring he had preferred to work and earn some money as our needs were many. We still owed something when we left the east and were sending money back till all was paid, about $300.00 and we needed to live and get something ahead for a home in Manitoba. Charlie worked with his father and Ernest during the second summer in Manitoba. About September 21st 1900, the second summer we were in Manitoba, I went to Glendale to stay with George’s wife for awhile. Their crops had been a partial failure since they had been farming, so George decided to take a school that was offered to him at Russell. Leaving Alvin to do the best he could with the farm, he went out to earn money that was needed to carry on the home. George went to Russell October 1st and on October 12th, a boy was born and was gladly welcomed by the parents and relatives, and mother and babe did well. I remained till after the threshing was done and left for home November 21st. Norma had kept house in my absence.
Winter set in and we got ready for it as best we could. Ernest got a job in White’s store for the winter delivering goods. In January, my husband went to Vancouver.Milton had married in the early fall, September 3rd, to Miss Agnes Eadie of Ontario who went to Vancouver, and they were married at Mary’s and set up housekeeping for themselves. My husband stayed at Milton’s that winter. In February, Laura went out and stayed at Mary’s and went to school there, passing her examination in June for a second class certificate.
On February 16th, Mary had her third boy, Bernard, and her last child. (1901) My husband concluded that winter that we had better take up homesteads in Manitoba and settle down on them and do the best we could as B.C. seemed to be over run with men who could not seem to find much paying employment. Land was dear if one wanted to live near roads and, though the climate was fine you could not live on climate alone. (It is that way to this day) (REB) So he wrote instructions to Ernest and Charlie at home and they went out with lumber to some homesteads my husband had been out to see before he went to B.C., and in the middle of winter, they succeeded in putting up a little place of shelter for a team, and a little place in one end where a small stove could be erected, and put up a shelf where a bed of hay could be made to rest on if needed.
They used to start in the morning and get on the place about noon, tie their horses to the wagon, there was very little snow, and eat their dinner. Then they would work on their building till about 4 o’clock and then start back to Moosemin, 16 miles distant. As the trails were uncertain it was necessary for them to start back while they could still see them, as the settlements were far apart and the chances of getting lost were good.
One day they put their horses in Mr. Young’s stable, as it seemed too cold for them to stand outside. Those two first winters in Manitoba were pretty cold. I have sat on the hearth of the cookstove and with a good fire on, and with a chair in front of me with pen and ink and paper and wrote, and when I went to bed with a warmed blanket and cushions about me, could hardly get warm enough to go to sleep. We were a very careful household, husbanding our resources and making the most of everything and so the winter wore away and we were all glad when spring came and my husband returned to us.(I have lived in this country for many years and usually the winters reach 15 to 45 below 0 F. many times during the winter. Winds are high and wind child factors have taken lives from man and beast alike)(REB)
The plastering business was continued that summer and we bought a small brick cottage in Moosemin, not far from the place where we were living and our housekeeping was divided between the two places. Mr. Blackwell’s brother Henry and his wife came out from Minnesota and paid us a visit. We found it very convenient having the two houses, as neither was sufficient to accommodate the two families alone.
George and Mary(this Mary must be George’s wife)(REB) went to Russell and left Alvin to run the farm the following winter. On Christmas Day to be exact, Alvin was married to Miss Janet Dodds of Brookdale and my husband and Ernest and I went on the train to Sewell and were met there my Mr. Robert Dodds with two buggies and in the sunlit frosty air we drove to Brookdale, arriving about noon. Norma had been with Alvin on the farm for a time and, in the afternoon, they arrived. Later other guests arrived and, the spacious farmhouse was filled with relatives of the bonny bride who we saw for the first time. Her parents were thrifty people who had pioneered and made good in that district; everything denoted thrift and industry.
About 5 p.m. the assembled guests, numbering about 75, witnessed the marriage ceremony that united the lives of Janet Dodds and Alvin Blackwell. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Collins Court, Presbyterian Minister. After the wedding came the wedding feast and the table was loaded with the best of viands to which all did justice. A number of guests remained over night. It was Christmas Day and, of course, a holiday. The nest day George and his wife returned to Glendale, and with Alvin and his wife, Ernest and Norma we were taken to the station and came home by way of Brandon and Moosemin. Alvin and his wife spent two or three days with us and then returned to Brookdale, Charlie going with them for a short time. They settled on the farm by New Year’s and afterward Charlie came home and preparations for the summer work began.
Norma took a position in Mr. Hamilton’s house as housekeeper while Mrs. Hamilton went to the east. She was there two or three months. They had three boarders, two teachers and a Mr. Lees and Miss Crossley and a lady clerk, so with Mr. Hamilton and herself, the family numbered five. Norma was a satisfactory housekeeper.
In the spring, crops were put in on the farm, about 20 acres of wheat on land broken the year before. Stephen Blackwell, a nephew of my husband from Minnesota came to Manitoba and, during the summer he put up hay and in the fall ran the threshing machinery for Mr. Park, a farmer near Fleming.
On the 18th of June, my oldest brother (Dwight) came up from Nebraska and Norma went down on the train to Brandon and met him and accompanied him to Moosemin. He was in poor health and came up to spend the summer in hope the change would do him some good. Early in September, I returned with him to his home and after staying with him for a few months, left him better and comfortably fixed for the winter with a man who was a capable housekeeper and nurse. Dwight’s first and second wives were both dead and his five children had also been laid to rest. His third wife did not find the prospects to her liking and had left him and returned to Minneapolis after living with him only a few months.
I returned to my home in October and that winter preparation was made to move to the homestead in the spring. Meanwhile, Alvin had left the farm in Glendale and rented a farm near Wellwood and moved there and George returned from Russell and had moved in to the Glendale farm again.About April 4th I went to Wellwood to stay awhile as a little daughter had come to brighten their home. (Alvin and wife)(REB) While I was there Norma was keeping house at home and the moving to the homestead which had begun before I left home, was completed and when I returned it was Kirkella where I left the train and was taken to the home 4 miles away in time to see a stack of hay destroyed by fire. My husband had undertaken to burn fire guards around the stacks, but the wind had risen suddenly and fired one of the stacks. The hired man, who was plowing elsewhere hurried to the fire and by much effort, and by watching well into the night, kept the fire from burning the new house that had just been built. The house frame had been erected and enclosed in the fall and during the winter, the boys had made various excursions to the river 18 miles distant and had brought home wood for summer use, staying nights in the shanty which they had made quite comfortable.
A few days after my return fromWellwood, we got word that my brother (Dwight Twichell) was quite ill, and it was feared he could not recover. The next day I started for Nebraska, stopping over a day or two at my niece’s, Mrs. Chase, and then went on to my brother at Arborville. I found him a little better and after staying with him for 3 weeks, I brought him home with me.
Our daughter, Seraph and Laura came home for a while in the holidays and then returned to their schools in B.C. My brother remained with us for a year, keeping pretty well all winter. In the spring, he wanted to go back to Nebraska, and as he had left things in rather an unsettled state, it seemed best that he should return and I should go with him and look after him through the summer.
September 1st, I took on a teacher to board and managed to have the garden produce and the potatoes and apples that we did not need, out in the cellar for winter use. In the fall, I wanted to return to my home but no one cared to undertake the care of my brother and it seemed hard to take him to Manitoba and it seemed he might not live through the winter so I stayed with him.
It seemed a long year I was there. I found the people very kind, but I longed for my husband and family. I used to feel like some lone tree out in a field far from its hundreds of trees in the forest. But winter ended and I mush go home and take my brother with me. My husband came down and helped me to settle his affairs and we rented his place and returned to Manitoba. I was very happy to get home. During the summer, Mary wrote for us to go out to B.C. and sent us $175.00 to pay the expenses and rail fare.In June my husband and I went west and spent two pleasant months with Mary, Milton and their families in Vancouver, and with Seraph and Laura in Victoria. The girls had bought a place and were keeping house, so they too had a home. We had left Norma to keep house and she and Charlie were faithful and did the farm work and did it well in our absence. We returned in August. My brother had been well cared for and he said Charlie and Norma had looked after him well. In September, he began to long to return to Nebraska again, but it was out of the question, as his place had been rented till spring. I could see that he was failing. He had a sick spell about October 1st and was quite ill for a week and then felt better again. He had the habit of taking morphine for a long time. His doctor procured it for him when he was very ill for a long time and suffered a great deal, and the habit got so strong that he could not leave it alone. I used to write to the doctor and he would send such quantities of the powder that he could mail and I would make it up. For a long time it was kept where he could help himself every morning. One time the supply was getting so low and Charlie had to go to Manson on his wheel Saturday night to get the morphine and returned Sunday morning. My brother was very unhappy until it arrived.
Poor brother. His was a lonely life. He and I alone were left of my father’s family and all his other loved ones were gone. One hope remained, that we all should meet again in our Saviour’s presence, rejoicing that all our travels would be ended. I thought that his illness in October was caused by taking too much morphine. He had taken his usual dose. I had to put it away and administer it to him in his usual dose. Far a time he seemed about his usual self till one Thursday he seemed weaker, though he was up in the afternoon and sat up on Friday for awhile. My husband went to see a doctor about him and he advised giving him what nourishment he could take and said he might recover from his poor spell and he might not. On Friday and Saturday nights, I stayed up with him all night. He did not suffer pain and about 3 o’clock in the morning he fell into a quiet sleep. I watched by him till nearly 6 o’clock and then left him to go and waken Charlie, as he was to relieve me.
Just as I finished talking to Charlie, I heard the tap of his cane, which he was used to keeping by him. I hurried back to him and saw there was a change and called my husband. Soon after he passed away. One gasp and it was all over. Poor brother. He had been in my care for most of 4 years. He loved his sister and depended on me; and I have one regret, that I was sometimes impatient and did not speak kindly to him. May I be forgiven for my seeming neglect. He died November 4th 1906. Service was held by Rev. Leshman, Presbyterian minister at Fleming Cemetery to await the Resurrection Call. We were unable to remove his body to Arborville, Nebraska, but a monument to his memory and that of his second wife and two of his children stands in Arborville and records his birth and death. Dear Brother. The eldest son of my parent s gone and I, the youngest of my mother’s children, alone am left. But that time moved along as usual. We were all busy on the farm and those who worked at plastering continued to earn what they could in that way. Much improvement was made to the home and my husband labored to give a semblance of comfort to the place. He planted may trees but many of them were short lived owing to deep snow, a hard winter, and occasional damage by cattle who sometimes got into the yard. A couple of rows of white maple were started but were destroyed over winter by rabbits.
InAugust of 1908 we had a family reunion. The girls, Seraph and Laura who were teaching in Victoria, came home; also Mary and Milton came and once more we were all under one roof. Our Emily had left her earthly home some years before and had gone to join her baby sister. They both rest in Wingham Cemetery but all the other children were gathered together in our prairie home. Nine of the children, twelve grandchildren, and also Will Kennedy, Emily’s widower husband. Milton’s wife was not there nor Mary’s husband. We had a wonderful time. My husband and I have been married 45 years in the proceeding May. The family all went to Fleming and had a family group picture taken which turned out very good.
Blackwell Family Reunion of 1908 Photo
The home was originally in Manitoba until 1905.
At that time, Saskatchewan became a Province and the border was re-drawn.
A picture of all the children and grandchildren and also the entire group was taken beside the house. But there came the parting day, august 14th, and as they left us they sang "God be with you till we meet again", and soon the girls and Mary and Milton returned to their homes and their work in B.C. All the children save Seraph, Laura, Norma and Ernest were married before they met again.
Eight years later Laura and Norma were married. My husband and I had been to B.C. and were there from February to the end of May. My husband had a poor spell every spring and we hoped by making a change before the end of winter he might escape the cold he usually contracted at that time of year. It was an unusual winter for B.C. and a great deal of snow fell and there was sleighing for some time. In spite of the snow we enjoyed our visit. Milton, Mary and the girls all had homes.
My husband got caught in a shower before we were due to return home and was laid up with a bad cold and threatened pneumonia and our return to Manitoba was delayed for two weeks.(This was before Laura and Norma were married) (GHB) Ernest was married and living in Brandon and worked in the cement business, having sold his homestead to Charlie. George was living in Franklin and Alvin in Wellwood. The Glendale farm was rented. Our home on the farm was fairly comfortable and all were working their hardest to pay off the mortgage on the land Charlie bought from Ernest. It was quite a struggle but we were used to that and succeeded in our efforts so Charlie had his half section and we had our quarter section.
Near the end of 1911, Norma and Charlie took their long talked of trip together to B.C., spending Christmas and New Year’s there and returning Feb 14th 1912, bringing Mary with them forNorma’s marriage on the 14th to Charles Wilkinson. Mary knew that it would be hard on me to get ready for a wedding without help. On the 14th of February 1912 at 5 p.m. the wedding took place. Alvin and wife, Ernest and wife and Will Kennedy came. The Rev. Cresswell performed the wedding ceremony and they soon left for the east to spend a month in our home town of Wingham, Ontario, with Mr. Wilkinson’s friends. They met George at Virden (Manitoba) and had two or three hours visit with them between trains. A month later they returned. Mary had been to Winnipeg and Brandon while they were away, preparing their new home which they moved to when they returned, and Mary went back to her home in Vancouver. Milton was unable to attend the wedding but made the wedding cake in B.C. and sent it on. It was a beauty and tasted as good as it looked. Mr. Cresswell pronounced it a very pretty wedding.
The summer followingLaura came home to prepare for her wedding, which was to take place before Christmas. She was quite ill for a time and threatened with fever. However, it broke up on November 27th. I started with her to Vancouver where her wedding was to take place at her brother Milton’s. She was married at 11 A.M. December 7th 1912 to Benjamin McNeil of the Lilloet District of B.C. Her father arrived that morning and Seraph and Mary’s family and one or two intimate friends were present. After the ceremony and a hastily partaken lunch, they took the train for Seattle and thence to San Francisco and east to New York, where they embarked on a steamer to San Janero for South America. They returned after an absence of about 4 months and went north to Mr. McNeil’s home in the Lilloet District at 105 Mile House on the Cariboo Road, there to begin in earnest the realities of life together.
After seeing them off to their future home, my husband and I returned to Manitoba. Our faithful Charlie had stayed back most of the time in our absence and Norma had stayed with him for a few day and helped with the housekeeping, making things more comfortable for him. It was our last rip to the Coast together. My husband’s health was not as good as it had been and his powers of endurance were less. We made occasional trips to Brandon in the winter to meet our children that gathered there in holiday time, but otherwise we stayed at home and kept the home fires burning.
In the fall of 1915 a disastrous fire occurred, caused by a very high wind that evidently carried some sparks fro a straw stack that had burned four days before on the prairie east of us, and running like a racehorse before the wind, entered the fields of a well-to-do farmer, destroying stack of grain and stacks of hay. It was a terrible fire as it was supposed to have originated on our land and was judged by the arbitrators to have caused a loss of $1200.00 which we had to pay. It was a terrible loss and was so unexpected.The same week came a telegram announcing the death of Mary’s husband George Barrett. The trouble over the fire and anxiety over Mary had a bad effect upon my husband’s failing health and on his nerves which were not strong.
Mr. Barrett had lost all his money about a year before through the failure of the Dominion Trust Co. and his family was left penniless except for their household furnishings. They were living on a farm near Mission, BC, a place Mr. Barrett had bought and put several thousand dollars into. But it was not fully paid for so was lost. My husband wanted to go to Mary but his health would not permit it so he sent Ernest to see his sister and help her to settle her affairs and to bring her home with her family. Hal, the oldest son had one more year to put in at McGill University before his medical course was complete. We defrayed the expense of his last year there. It cost us more than $1000.00 and Bernard, the youngest son, stayed that season at his Uncle Milton’s and went to school with his boys and passed his entrance, then came to us in July after the exams. Alvin worked on the farm with Charlie that summer.
The summer of 1916, Merle got a few music pupils in the district. In July, Milton came home, bringing David with him. David was 5 years old and Laura, with the two boys Benjie and Herbie, and our other children came home. It was 8 years since our last reunion and there had been many changes among us but the presence of all the children did much to improve my husband’s failing health. Milton and David soon returned to B.C. and a little later Laura returned with her children.
Cold weather came on in November. Alvin left for Agricultural College in Winnipeg. Hal returned from McGill and went to Vancouver, taking Bernard with him, and took a position in the hospital there. Seraph at this time was teaching in Brandon. Norma was ill in November and I went down to see her. Her father was anxious that I should go though I did not like to leave home. But dear Mary was so good to look after him, so I went.
Early in the spring, at Easter, Ernest’s little girl Lois had died and there was much sorrow in their home. Mary had gone down with them for a time and had returned. After a time, Norma being some better, I left her and went home. I saw that my husband was failing although he was still up and about, but week.
The night of December 6th, he came downstairs to sit awhile as he could not sleep on account of his nerves. I came down and stayed with him till he wanted to return to bed. In the evening before he called us all together and told us that he did not think he would be long with us and gave us all words of advice and then we all prayed together. Then we retired. He was to weak to get up the next morning but took some nourishment at noon. At 3 P.M. he sent Charlie to Kirkella for some medicine from Dr. Goodwin who had been to see him the day before, then he dropped into a sleep which I hoped would do some good. Charlie wanted to speak to him again but I told him not to waken him as he would probably waken when Charlie returned. But he did not. He slept on and towards morning he made a noise as he sometimes did when he had a nightmare and I always spoke to him and woke him, but this time I couldn’t waken him. Charlie phonedDr. Goodman at Elkhorn and told us he feared it was a stroke. However, he wanted him to come out and do what he could. He came but saw the end was not far off. My husband continued unconscious the rest of the night and the next day and telegrams were sent off to George, Alvin, Ernest and Seraph and had arrived by 9 o’clock on Saturday morning. Norma was unable to come. He lingered till noon and then he opened his eyes and looked at us but we did not know whether he recognized us. Then his breath grew fainter and soon it was all over. On Saturday 9th 1916, we were left alone.
The next day theRev. Dyer held a funeral service for him in the house and Monday morning, George, Alvin, Ernest, Charlie, Seraph and Merle accompanied their father’s remains to Brandon. At the station they were met by Norma and her husband some of the Brethren there. The casket was opened and they took their last look on the face of their dear father and then he was taken to the Brandon Cemetery and prayers were said by the Rev. Lowrey as he was laid to rest. Mary and I did not go to Brandon but remained in the lonely home from which our loved one had gone never to return again. Poor Mary. Here was s sore heart indeed. Only a little over a year since her husband had passed away so suddenly and now her beloved father. They were very dear to each other and what a comfort she was to me.
We often though of Charlie’s lonely journey home from Brandon as the rest of the brothers and sisters would remain there, but to our great joy, George came home with him and spent the next day with us writing up an account of father’s activities in life. It was a great comfort that he was with us that day and the next day he returned to his school in Winnipeg.
As the Christmas season drew near, the Brandon children insisted on us coming down for a few days and did not want to have us remain here over the holidays, as was our intention. On the Saturday before Christmas, we were surprised and pleased whenMrs. Minnie Olney, (10.2.3.1) the eldest of John Blackwell’s children, came to us from Saskatchewan. We knew she was somewhere in the west but not where and could not send her word of the Uncle’s death and she did not know till we told her in Kirkella that her Uncle had passed away a short time before. (She was living near Swift Current, Sask.)
Her presence among us was very opportune.She thought much of her Uncle George as all John Blackwell’s children did. He had gone to Minnesota a couple of years after his brother had died, and endeared himself to the family by his many acts of kindness, doing what he could for their comfort and they never forgot him. Minnie went with us to Brandon and returned with me, Mary remaining awhile at Ernest’s to do what she could for Seraph and Merle who were there and required sewing and the like done. As Minnie stayed with us till February, we were not as lonely as we might have been. While she was with us, Charlie was taken with measles and outside help for the stable work was called in. After waiting on Charlie for two or three days I had to give up too and Minnie proved a capable and willing helper. She was a faithful friend in need and we were soon both able to be about again. Early in February, Minnie left us to go to Massachusetts where her mother was living with her daughter Addie, wife of Rev. Charles McColley, a Baptist Minister.
My children’s letters were frequent. Milton was not able to come to us when his father died and we were glad to think that he and Laura were both home with us the previous summer.Will Blackwell, my husband’s adopted brother, died a few months after at Puyallup, Washington. Our Laura, living at Canim Lake, so far from railroad and mails, did not get the telegram we sent her till the 15th of December so she could not be with us in our hour of sorrow. It seemed a sad message for her so far removed from the rest of us but she was also glad that she had been with us the summer before.
And so the winter wore away and brought its cares and toil and my faithful Mary was with me and a wonderful help she was. She worked with me that summer and what efforts we made to have a garden, she shared, but the season was dry and the efforts we made at watering were not very effective and little could grow. If we had not worked as we did we would not have had anything. As it was, we had a little green stuff and a pail full each of carrots, beets and parsnips and about a dozen cabbages to put in the cellar. There was also a few little squash and some green tomatoes, not much but better than nothing. My husband was always fond of his garden and when he was hone, we tried to take his place but the dry weather was against us. Mary would look after things in the house while I worked in the garden, and then come out to help me. She did much of the sewing and we never had anyone in the house who accomplished so much as darling Mary.
Meantime, Hal had spent several months in the hospital at Vancouver and then enlisted on the medical staff at Calgary and was in the camp there. So he hunted a house in town and wanted his mother to come there and with the rest of the children, they would all be together again. Avon had been working with his Uncle Ernest at the building that summer and Merle had been attending Business College at Winnipeg. Seraph was defraying her expenses there so she might be fit to take a good position in an office somewhere.
Mary decided to go to Calgary but first went to Winnipeg to see Merle and also Avon, who was still in Brandon. They visited at George’s too and Merle was boarding at the Y.W.C.A. building. Before the train left the city Mary found herself getting sick, so she decided she could not go on to Calgary without Merle, so Merle gathered up her things and they went on together. Mary had not been well for some time and was quite sick for a few days. Bernie, who had been attending school in Vancouver, went to Calgary in the holidays. Avon left his uncle a few weeks later and joined them and Merle got a transfer from Winnipeg to Calgary so they could all be together. Avon went from Calgary to Agricultural College at Olds, Alberta for the winter, so Mary took in some boarders. Hal was with his staff at the camp but of course was often home. And so the year 1917 was drawing to a close.
As we had long talked of putting a concrete foundation under our house, with cellar and furnace, Charlie concluded that the time had come for it to be done and Ernest came up with his men and completed the job, giving us a good cellar and making the house more comfortable than ever. I had help during the time the men were here as I was not equal to the work. A young Russian girl I found was very good help. She had been with me before when she could talk little English, but she was a faithful and tried her best. She was with us in the summer for awhile and was frightened into a fainting fit. One morning something went wrong with the cream separator and she thought she had broken it and feared dire punishment would be awarded her. Poor child. We had quite a time assuring her that all was well but she worked up about it that she could not do anything for the rest of the day. But not when she came back. She was much more used to the ways of the country and could converse much better in English and got along fine, and before she left she made a fine bouquet of paper flowers and gave them to me.About the time Charlie decided to get married and on February 9th 1918 they were married at Lena’s father’s home at Rose Glen Farm. Ernest and wife, Seraph, Norma came up from Brandon, Alvin’s wife was sick and school duties prevented George from coming up. The day was mild and we were a very pleasant company. Lena’s family and her friends were present and the ceremony was performed by Rev. Mr. Thorn about 2 P.M. and about 5 P.M. we all went home in the big sleighs stopping at home a few minutes and then we went on to the station at Kirkella starting from Brandon.
The wedded pair got off a Virden where they stayed overnight, then went to Church the next morning and in the evening took the train for Calgary and spent a few days there with Mary and family. From there they went on to Banff and then returned home and took up the routine of home life on the farm, with the full approbation of both families, and with confidence in each other and faith in God.
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