ANCESTORS are links which tie our individual earth lives to that ingathering of all those life tides from out the unknown past, which have so largely made us what we are.
THE MONTGOMERY LINE
Roger de Montgomerie, so runs the record, was "Count of Montgomerie before the coming of Rollo," which means the year 912.
The fifth in his line was Hugh de Montgomerie, who married Josseline, daughter of Tourode, Sire de Pont Audemer, whose wife Weva Duceline de Crepon was sister of La Duchesse Gonnor, who was wife of Richard sans Peur, and so great-grandmother of the great Duc William.
The sixth of the line, Roger de Montgomerie was hence a cousin of William the Conqueror, and was one of his right hand men when the time came to invade England; in fact he gave sixty ships for that expedition: for these and other services he was made Earl of Chichester and Arundel, and later Earl of Shrewsbury: the son who succeeded him, Robert of Bellesme, Earl of Shrewsbury, was so bad as to have been the original Robert le Diable.
The fifteenth of the line, Sir John de Montgomerie of Eaglesham and Eastwood, and afterwards of Eglinton and Ardrossan, married in 1361, Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Sir Hugh Eglinton of Eglinton; and this Eglinton marriage furnished another title to a branch of the Montgomerie descendants; and through this marriage "the estates of Eglinton and Ardrossan passed to the Montgomeries of Eaglesham, who made Eglinton their chief residence afterwards." Sir John de Montgomerie distinguished himself at the Battle of Otterbourne, where James, Earl Douglas, his uncle, was slain. In this battle was slain also Hugh, eldest son of Sir John, the Hugh spoken of in the lines from Percy's Reliques:
Sir Hugh Montgomery was he called,
Who with a spere most bright,
Well mounted on a gallant steed,
Ran fiercely through the fight.
The seventeenth of the line was Alexander de Montgomerie, the first Lord Montgomerie, and it was his son Alexander de Montgomerie, Master of Montgomerie, to whose name is attached the rise of the blood-feud between the Montgomeries and the Cunninghames, the memory of which was vivid even in my early days. It was through this same Alexander, seventeenth of the line, that the family name came to be written in blood on the pages of the history of France. His son, Robert, went to France about the year 1480, and became Seigneur de Lorges, in the Orléannais; he was the founder of the second French house of the Counts of Montgomerie. Robert's grandson, Gabriel Count de Montgomerie, by an unfortunate mischance, killed King Henry II in a Tournament. Despite the fact that it was known to be an accident, as one may read in Dumas' Joseph Balsamo: "Mais on n'a pas fait pis a M. de Montgomerie pour avoir tué Henry II, dit Louis XV. Il avait tué le roi par accident, Sire;" and though Montgomerie had been assured of immunity, the fact that he was an active and influential Huguenot told against him, and through the Royal influence at Court, Montgomerie was brought to the scaffold, and was executed in 1576. The last of his male descendants was Nicholas de Montgomerie, who died in 1725.
The nineteenth of the line was Hugh, Third Lord Montgomerie, who was created First Earl of Eglinton by James IV in 1508.
The twenty-eighth of the line was Hugh Montgomerie of Bridgend, who married Katharine, second daughter of Sir William Scott of Clerkington in 1653. A spoon bearing their initials, "H.M."---"K.S." is in the possession of the writer.
The twenty-ninth of the line was William Montgomerie of Bridgend, Hugh's eldest son, who married Isabel Burnett, daughter of Robert Burnett of Lethintie in Aberdeenshire on January 8, 1684. This Robert Burnett was extensively interested in the Quaker Settlements in New Jersey, and became one of the Lords Proprietor of the Province of East New Jersey: his body lies in the Friends Burying Ground at Crosswicks, New Jersey. In 1661 Robert became the owner by purchase of 1/16 of the Province. Isabel Burnett's acquaintance with the new land across the Sea, together with her father's large landed interests there, eventually led William Montgomery, the twenty-ninth of the line, to move his family from Ayrshire to America. In 1701 he settled on Doctor's Creek, in Monmouth County, New Jersey, and gave the name of Eglinton, which it still bears, to his estate; the house is situated about two miles from Allentown, Monmouth County.
The thirtieth of the line, Robert Montgomery of Eglinton, born in Bridgend in 1687, came to America as a boy with his father. He held a magistrate's commission from the King. He married Sarah Stacy of Burlington, New Jersey in 1709. He was a Friend, and his body lies in the Crosswicks Burying Ground.
In the line of William of Eridgend and Isabel Burnett comes John Berrien Montgomery, Commodore in the U. S. Navy, who, in 1846, took possession of the town and harbor of San Francisco, in the name of the United States.
In the line of James Montgomery, spoken of as "Robert's eldest son and heir," comes Harvey Montgomery of Rochester, New York, who married Mary Rochester, daughter of the founder of the City; Brig. Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, who was Quarter Master General of the United States, and who married Louisa, daughter of Commodore John Rodgers, U. S. Navy; James Montgomery, who was under General Richard Montgomery in his Expedition against Quebec in 1775; and Brig. Gen. William Reading Montgomery, who was noted for his services in the Mexican War, and in the War of the Rebellion.
The thirty-first of the line was Robert Montgomery of Eglinton, who was born at Eglinton in 1748, where he resided during his long life of nearly 80 years. His first marriage was to Margaret, daughter of John Leonard, in 1771; she died in 1780. Robert then married Elizabeth, daughter of Dr. James Newell of Allentown, New Jersey, in 1788, and whose wife was Elizabeth Lawrence. By his second marriage Robert had two daughters, my greataunt Lucy, and my grandmother Esther; my greataunt Lucy Montgomery I remember well; my grandmother Esther Montgomery, who died in 1856, I never saw. Esther Montgomery married her cousin Samuel Cooke Newell in 1817. Their children were: Elizabeth, who married William Passmore; Sarah, who married Bennington Gill; Robert, who died at the age of eleven; Mary Cooke, who never married; Lucy, who married Theodore Stagg; Hetty, my Mother, who married George W. Watson.
Esther Montgomery who married Samuel Cooke Newell, was thirty-second in descent; Hetty Newell Watson was thirty-third in descent; and I am thirty-fourth in descent from the first of the Montgomery line of whom we have any record---Roger de Montgomerie, Count of Montgomerie, in Normandy in 912.
THE KEARNY LINE
The next line in length which I can trace is through my ancestor Michael Kearny, which runs this way. Edmund Kearny married Elizabeth Fox of Bulligaderie, in the County of Limerick, in Ireland, in the reign of Henry VIII, which was from 1485-1509. From him comes a long line: James Kearny married Eleanor O'Brien, daughter of Marrough O'Brien, fourth son of Thurlough, Earl of Thomond, and left issue, etc., and so on down to the fifth in descent from Edmund, who was Michael Kearny, who married as his third wife, Sarah Morris, by whom he had five children, Isabella, Michael, Mary, Euphemia, and Graham. This Michael Kearny settled in New Jersey in about 1712. He was Treasurer of the Province of East New Jersey, 1723 to 1725; held a commission in His Majesty's Navy; and was Clerk of the General Assembly of the Province of New Jersey. His daughter Graham Kearny married my great-greatgrandfather the Rev. Dr. Samuel Cooke; so that I am tenth in line of descent from the first of the Kearny line of whom we have record.
A noted son of the Kearny line was General Stephen Watts Kearny, born in 1794, died in 1848; he was put in command of the Army of the West at the outbreak of the Mexican War; was Military and Civil Governor of California in 1847, of Vera Cruz in 1848, and of the City of Mexico in 1848; he is considered by many historians to be the true conqueror of California: he was my grandfather's second cousin.
THE MORRIS LINE
The next oldest line to which I trace lineage is the Morris line. Captain Richard Morris of the Cromwellian Cavalry married Sarah Pole in 1669. They had a son Lewis Morris, known afterward as Lewis Morris the First, who was born in 1671 and died in 1746. In 1691 he married Isabella. Graham, daughter of James Graham. This James Graham was born in Scotland, became a citizen of New York, and died in Morrisania, N. Y., in 1701; tradition connects him with the family of James Graham, Marquis of Montrosche was first Recorder of the City of New York; Attorney General for the Province; member of the Governor's Council; Receiver General of the Province; Attorney General of New England, and member and Speaker of the Provincial Assembly.
Lewis Morris the First was judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey; member of the Governor's Council of New Jersey, and also of the Governor's Council of New York; member of the New York Assembly; Chief justice from 1715 to 1733; Boundary Commissioner; acting Governor of New Jersey in 1731; first Governor of New Jersey as a separate Province from 1738 to the time of his death in 1746.
I am sixth in line of direct descent from Lewis Morris the First; and seventh in line of descent from James Graham.
THE COOKE LINE
The Morris Line brings me to my descent from the Rev. Dr. Samuel Cooke, who was my great-great-grandfather. Samuel Cooke was born in London in 1723. He was a graduate of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and was ordained by the Bishop of Ely, in 1748. His bookplate bears his Coat of Arms, as follows:
"Ermine, on a band cottised gules; three lions pass. guard. or.
Christopher Cooke of Thorne, County of Devon, Gent., married Margaret daughter of Richard Curland of Whytfield: had issue Christopher. He was son of William; son of Tobin; son of John; son of Christopher; son of Henry Cooke, all of Thorne aforesaid,---Gentlemen."
The bookplate bears the name:
Gon. & Cai. Coil. Cant.
In 1751 he came from England, having been licensed by the Bishop of London to perform the ministerial office in Monmouth County, New Jersey; he settled in Shrewsbury where Christ Church is one of the earliest of the colonial churches, having been built in 1703-1705. The present building was built in 1769, and on the cornerstone are the initials of my great-great-grandfather "S.C.," with the date 1769. In 1775, his life having been threatened on account of his loyalty to the Crown, he left America, on a British man-of-war, accompanied by Captain Philip Kearny, son of Michael, who held a commission in the British Navy, and who accompanied Dr. Cooke to England. On his arrival in England Dr. Cooke was appointed a chaplain in the British Army. Then in 1785 he was appointed missionary to New Brunswick, where he held the first services of the Church in many towns, and where he was instrumental in the building of Old Trinity, in St. John, in 1791.
It interests me to note that in this Morris-Cooke connection there are bishops and deans of the Church of England; some generals and admirals of the American Army and Navy; and some bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America; among these latter are Bishop Bowman, Bishop Clarkson, and Bishop Milispaugh.
On the night of May 3, 1795, Dr. Cooke was returning to his home across the Naswaak River in a bark canoe after having made some parochial visits in Fredericton, his son Michael accompanying him, when the canoe was upset by a sudden squall, and both father and son were drowned. There is a tablet to his memory in St. Anne's Church, Fredericton, in which he is described as, "The First Rector of this Church, and First Ecclesiastical Commissary of the Province."
Among the Cooke memorabilia which have been preserved are sermons written in his own clear hand, and also some letters.
My Cooke line (Samuel), runs as follows:
Samuel Cooke married Graham Kearny, daughter of Michael Kearny and Sarah Morris, his wife. Sarah Cooke, their second daughter, married Elisha Newell, M.D., of Allentown, New Jersey. Samuel Cooke Newell married Esther Montgomery, daughter of Robert Montgomery, 31st of Eglinton. Hetty Newell, their daughter married my father, the Rev. George W. Watson.
THE NEWELL LINE
Tradition has it that Robert Newell, son of James Newell, came to America from Ireland; this is substantiated by the inscription on the tombstone of his son Hugh. The family name was originally de Neuville; this is rendered probable by the fact that a Crest showing a Cup and Dagger has been banded down in the family with the record that this was the Newell Crest, and that it goes back to a Count de Neuville, who was Cupbearer to Duke William.
Hugh Newell married Elizabeth Truax, descendant of the Huguenot refugee, Philippe de Trieux.
My own line is: James Newell (origin Irish). Robert Newell, his son who married Ellen (surname unknown).
James Newell, who married Elizabeth Lawrence, daughter of Elisha Lawrence. Elisha Newell, his son, who married Sarah Cooke. Samuel Cooke Newell, his son, who married
Esther Montgomery. Hetty Newell, his daughter, who married George W. Watson, who was my father.
James Newell, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Elisha Lawrence who was member of the General Assembly of the Province of New Jersey in 1721, became one of the Proprietors of the Province of West Jersey.(1) He was born in Upper Freehold; received his medical education in Edinburgh; but owing to the fact that his graduation coincided with the Great Rebellion, he was obliged to go to London to get his diploma. He settled in Allentown, N. J., for the practice of his profession. He was commissioned surgeon of the Second Regiment of Foot Militia of the County of Monmouth; his commission from the Provincial Congress bears date of May 7, 1776, and is signed by Sam'l Tucker as President of the Congress, and is attested by John Hart as Secretary, which latter was one of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Elisha Newell, M.D., son of James, was born in 1755; he married Sarah Cooke, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Samuel Cooke. He was commissioned surgeon of the Fourth Regiment of Militia of Monmouth County at the time of the Whisky Rebellion of 1793; his commission is dated the fifth day of August, 1793, and is signed by R'd Howell as Governor, and Bowes Reed as Secretary.
Samuel Cooke Newell son of Elisha, was born in Allentown, N. J.; he married his cousin Esther Montgomery; they were my grandfather and my grandmother. Thus runs the story of my ancestors on my mother's side.
THE WATSON LINE
My paternal grandfather, the Rev. George Watson, D.D., was born in St. Bees, Cumberland, in England; he was the son of a surgeon in the British Navy. He was pre-eminently a teacher by taste, and began that work as classical master at St. Bees College. From there he went to York where he was head of St. Peter's School, St. William's College, the Minster Foundation. On July 26, 1826, he married Mary Anne Cooke in St. Olave's Church, Marygate, York.
As a matter of record it is well that I note here the members of my grandfather's family: William Watson, lost at sea. Thomas Watson, who died at 80; he had ten children. Mary Watson, died at 70. Susan Watson, died in 1869. Richard Watson, died at 39, leaving two children. John Watson, died at 11. Margaret Watson, died before 1870. Timothy Watson, died at 29, leaving one son. Noble Watson, died aged 52.
THE COOKE LINE (maternal side)
My line of descent runs as follows: Sir Bryan Cooke, of Wheatley Hall, Yorkshire. A younger son who was a barrister. His son, who was a Doctor Cooke. His son, Doctor William Cooke, who married Mary Anne Crowe, daughter of Jno. Crowe, curate of Burwell, Cambridgeshire. Their daughter, Mary Anne Cooke, who married George Watson, who was my grandfather.
Doctor William Cooke died in 1820; his wife Mary Anne Crowe died in 1854; their bodies lie in the same grave in the Churchyard at Great Baddow, Essex.
The Arms of the family of the Cookes of Wheatley Hall are described as:
Shield, Or; Chevron, Red: Two lions, passant gardant, Black.
Here also I should record the family of William Cooke, M.D., and of Mary Anne Crowe, his wife: Mary Anne Cooke, my grandmother, Mrs. George Watson; William Cooke; Louisa Cooke; Emma Cooke; John Cooke; Alice Cooke---Mrs. Peter Jones; Edward Cooke, died as a baby; Eliza Cooke---Mrs. Bloomfield; Caroline Cooke, died as a baby; Edward Charles Cooke.
IT WAS A NOBLE SAYING OF THE LATE LORD CLARENDON THAT "BIRTH CONVEYS NO MERIT BUT MUCH DUTY TO ITS INHERITOR."
IN TELLING my own personal story in so far as it pertains to a past long gone, I want to qualify my frequent use of the pronoun "I" by this consideration. How much of what we remember is what we really personally recall, or what we really personally had a part in? how much of it is our recollection of what others have told us of what we did, or said, or saw? how much of any story of a distant past, a story written many years afterward is what might be called exact history, and how much of it is a mental picture of what occurred woven in with the occurrences themselves, and interpreted in the light of the writer's later thinking and of his philosophizing about the events as they transpired? Is it possible to tell a story, and re-tell it, and tell it again for years, and not illustrate it by happenings which come in time to be part of the warp and woof of the story itself, and which we repeat again as part of what we knew or saw?
To my way of thinking all of what we call History bears this interpretation, and most of all ancient history: it is a record of happenings coloured and unified by tradition, and impressed with the viewpoint and the reasoning and the explanations of the narrator as the story passed through his mind, taking the impress of his personality on the way; and this comment applies equally to what men call sacred history as well as to what is known as current events. It must be so. An artist paints a picture: he makes it a thing of living interest; and he does this by adding to mathematical fact the colouring of tradition. A picture of bare details would have neither ethical nor aesthetic worth; it would be wholly lacking in appeal; nor would it show us the thing as it really is. For what is what we call, tradition? It is really the embroidery to the fabric to give it human worth: it is the fringe
which frames the picture in the tissues; but all the while it evidences the existence of the factual something of which it forms a part.
So, for the purpose of making my story more intelligent and more readable I will tell a lot of things in the first person. I will paint the picture as I see it now, without regard to whether I saw the things related, or whether I was told of them so often that they are part of my consciousness of them; without regard to whether I made the bright remarks, or whether I was told the story so often that I now think I did say them; at least I know well that I might have said or done them; they are artistically true, and that is more important to a story-teller than having his details historically exact.
With this disclaimer in advance, I may say that the "house where I was born" was cold, very cold on that windy twenty-seventh of an Iowa February in 1861: all the water for the baby's ritual bath had to be heated on an air-tight wood-stove in Mother's room; in fact until I was quite a boy and had graduated to bathing on Saturday nights in a washtub in the kitchen, as the grown folk did, the Saturday bath performance for me was always "up in Mother's room," and as one was not allowed to go out in the cold until after dinner and after the effects of the opened pores had worn off, one good half of Saturday, which was playday, was wasted on that bath performance; and from that experience I deduce my dislike for baths for a long time afterward.
Lyons, Iowa, where I was born, has as its earliest recollection for me the sight of soldiers lined up in the street in front of the house, "Mr. Lincoln's Men," recruits coming in to the River from the country round about after one of his Drafts; arms were stacked, and the people in the houses along the street were making great pots of coffee and taking it out to them. In this same connection, according to hearsay, a yellow haired boy went out of the gate into the street, and addressing the soldiers, told them that it was wicked to swear.
For years I had two material reminders of Lyons. One was a set of carved boxwood chessmen in a wooden box, and on the under side of the lid of the box was written in an exquisite hand, "For little Sam; from Uncle Robert." Uncle Robert was Robert Trail Spence; I would like to know more of his story; and I wonder who stole my chessmen; for they are gone. Another reminder of Lyons was a book, bound in red, The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen, and on its fly-leaf was written "For little Sam, from Grandma and Auntie Hickox; the latter's family were friends of my mother, probably kinfolk, and lived in Milwaukee; I can remember some one reading out loud from that book, (Father probably, with many sly chuckles) "What the Old Man does is Always Right." I was christened in Lyons; Bishop Lee was to have done it, but a driving blizzard kept him from coming, so Father took his place. I do not know exactly why it had to be done on that very day; probably it was because "the old Adam in this child" was giving undue evidence of his presence. For I have seen a letter written by Mother to Uncle Bennington Gill, saying, "when you come out to Iowa, please bring several bottles of Darby's Carminative, as little Sam has bad attacks of colic." Darby's Carminative was a celebrated pain-killer for colicky infants in those days, its chief components being paregoric and syrup of senna.
Bishop Lee would have gotten by with my christening in more orthodox fashion than he did on another occasion, when a young mother who lisped badly brought a little girl up to the Font to be baptised by the Bishop. "Name this child," said the great man, and the little mother, completely upset by the dignified presence of this Bishop in his robes with the puffy sleeves, stuttered more than ever, and replied, "Lu-thy, Sir." "Tut, Tut," said the Bishop, "Nothing of the kind; Lucifer is a heathen name; John, I baptise thee"; and so little Lucy had to be John. I have never heard whether the Canons of 1854 had any provision for remedying such an emergency, or whether little Lucy was always John.
My brother George was born in Lyons in 1862. He died at Eglinton, New Jersey, in 1868; and his body was laid in the burying ground of the Presbyterian Church on the Hill in Allentown, where many of his kinfolk's burying-places were. My sister Esther was born in Lyons in 1864; she lived little more than a year; her body was placed in the cemetery in Lyons.
This is the place to recount some events which preceded this Lyons record, and to show how Lyons came to be the place where I was born.
My father was an Englishman, born in the city of York, where the family of my grandfather, George Watson, lived on Marygate, a street near the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey; all the children but my father, were christened in St. Olave's Church, Marygate; tradition has it that my father, who was the oldest child, was christened in the minister, in the font which stands just beneath "The Five Sisters Window." I have been told that my father's great-grandfather, who was an officer in the British Navy, was drowned when the Royal George turned turtle on the south coast; and it interested me much, when I was once at Llangollen in Wales to see a table which was made of oak from the Royal George. The Watsons must have been strong Liberals who cared little for hereditary glories. There is a tradition amongst us that one of the family after a visit to England being asked about the Watson family, said, "I could find out little about them; there was a bishop among them, and that is good; and as for the rest of them, this may be said, none of them was ever hung for sheep-stealing, none of them was ever sent to Botany Bay, and, Thank God, none of them was ever a Dissenter."
The bishop mentioned must have been an interesting old chap, Richard Watson, Bishop of Llandaff, Wales,---(probably it was from him that my father's brother Richard got his name). Bishop Watson had large estates at Windermere in Westmoreland, (these lands were still in the possession of a member of the family when I was there in 1909). He loved his Westmoreland place, and did not like Wales, so he would "bishop" for a while in Llandaff, and would then betake him to his comfort and his home at Windermere. He won the satiric dislike of his clergy by issuing a denunciatory letter on the subject of Absentee Rectorships. The Bishop bought other properties in the neighbourhood of Windermere in order to increase his holdings. In this manner there came into his possession an Inn at Ambleside known as "The Cock," which was glorified by a swinging sign on which was painted a rooster with wings wide spread. After his Lordship of Llandaff had become the owner, the inn-keeper, thinking to do honour to the new proprietor, took down the Sign of the Cock, committed it ignominiously to the village dust-heap, hung up a new sign-board, whereon one might see swinging to the breeze a brilliant portrait of the Bishop in his robes, and re-named his Inn "The Bishop." There was a small doggery further up the road, whose proprietor seeing the sign-board of "The Cock" in the discard, rescued it, had it varnished anew, and hung it up in front of his place to the dismay of the former owner of the sign; for the sign was so well known and the beer behind it so famous, and the carters coming over the Pass were so used to saying to each other as they met, "Get your beer at The Cock, when you get down," that "The Cock" began to draw much of the patronage. The landlord of "The Bishop" began to feel the loss; whereupon he devised a remedy; he had a hanger painted and swung it underneath his new sign, whereon was painted the Bishop in his Robes, and the sign announced,---"This is the Old Cock."
It was in 1838 that my grandparents, then living in York, bought from an agent what was said to be "a gentleman's estate" in Pennsylvania, thinking that the change to America would benefit the health and fortune of the family. One can well imagine what must have been their visions of "a gentleman's estate" with their quiet scholarly English outlook, when they set sail from the port of Bristol in a sailing vessel to come to America; and equally well what must have been their disappointment when they reached Pennsylvania, for "the gentleman's estate" turned out to be an abandoned farm which went by the name of "Wysox," and was located on the site of a former Indian village by that name. Often have I heard my father tell of the hard life his mother led on that farm. She was gently born and reared; came from an English city where household help was inexpensive and easily had; her husband's position as an English schoolmaster in a Cathedral School was one of dignity; and in America she found herself of necessity obliged to do everything for the family, cooking, laundering, and all the other household tasks, and even at times she had to prepare the meals for the farmhands who came to help get in the crops.
It was on that farm that my father's later boyhood was spent; and the first money which he ever earned was two York shillings which he got for picking stones from a neighbour's field and piling them up for fencing; with the money he bought a little copy of Pilgrim's Progress; my cousin George Watson now has this book bearing my father's signature on the fly-leaf. It was there that Father began his preparation for college; and I have heard Father tell of my grandmother's having an ironing-board set up under a near-by apple tree, and in the intervals as he would run back and forth to the kitchen for the hot irons Grandmother would hear him recite his lessons.
She must have been a wonderfully fine and brave woman, that Grandmother Watson of mine. I can remember her well as I used to see her in Norwalk, Ohio, where she lived the later years of her life. She was a dignified and sober lady; I think of her as I used to see her in the afternoons coming out of her room after her nap and seating herself in an armchair covered with black horsehair; she was dressed in black silk; she had on an apron with violet ribbons let in the edge of it; she wore a lace cap with violet ribbons; she wore silk mitts which half covered her hands; there was always a fragrance of lavender about her; and when she seated herself in that chair and crossed her hands on her lap she possessed a reverential dignity not lightly to be disturbed but rather to be worshipped from afar.
My grandmother Watson's grandfather, the Rev. John Crowe, was a witty man; I wish I might have known him. We have a rhymed invitation to dinner which he once wrote, which is worth preserving in print:
"But, what is here? why, one presents
His most respectful compliments
To Mr. Philip Isaacson,
And if his heart is set upon
Giving his hunger some relief
By bolting down a Pound of beef,
Would gladly see him, if he's able
To walk as far as my poor table.
All things shall be in order done
And cleanly cooked exact at one.
I did intend to get a salad
But oil, I know, don't suit your palate,
And the whole town cannot produce
A red or white beet fit for use.
I did Purpose to ask another
To make a third; 'twas Bob, your brother;
But he, poor man, on market day
Performs the part of old Dame Gray.
I think, upon a parson's word,
'T is always right to have a third;
And 't is a maxim all through Wales,-
(Don't think I tell old women's tales)
That two can't make a conversation;
But the contrary must be said
Of man and woman when in bed.
For now, supposing two dispute
About the King, or else Lord Bute,
About the House of Commons power
Confining Crosby in The Tower,
And so, like fools, we strip to fight,
Wanting a third to set us right.
Now he, like you, a man of knowledge
Equal to any from a college,
I'll offer my appeal to you
Whether this maxim is not true:
---But here, methinks, I hear you say,
"The parson's surely mad today!
What stuff is here? Do stop, good John!"
No; Faith and Troth, I will go on.
Let prating folk say what they will,
For John will have his humour still.
The Meeting may my ways condemn;
The Meeters, what care I for them?
For tho' they call me wicked sinner,
I'll try if I can't after dinner
A cup of wine and ale afford,
A pack of cards and cribbage board.
Here's to you, Phil, here's fifteen-four!----
'T is time, I think, to say no more.
So I am, with devotion fervent,
Your most obedient, humble servant,
Curate of Burwell,
Grandfather's farm of "Wysox" was near the village of Towanda, and in time the village grew up to the farm and the farm land became valuable, so that finally when the family came to Norwalk, Ohio, it was as prosperous citizens that they arrived there; it was there that they had their own home, the last one for them on their earthly pilgrimage. Grandfather early began holding church services in his own house for his family; to these some neighbours came; and when Christ Church, Towanda was organised, Grandfather was ordained to the ministry and became Rector of the Church, still continuing to live at Wysox.
From Towanda Grandfather moved to Owego, New York, where he had accepted the rectorship of St. Paul's Church. I like to think of what that change must have meant to them, to Grandmother, and also to Grandfather, for he was a classical scholar and an educated English gentleman; and Owego was an aristocratic old town with traditions of fine breeding, and families like the Leonard's, and the Pumpelly's and the Bacon's set the pace. It was from Owego that Father left home to go to Hobart College where he graduated in 1851. In 1854 he graduated from the General Theological Seminary in New York; and became assistant minister of St. Luke's Church, Rochester, New York, of which Dr. Henry Washington Lee was then Rector. Dr. Lee was elected first Bishop of Iowa, and he asked Father, who had volunteered to go with him to this new missionary field, to precede him and to organise the, work, so far as possible, before the coming of the Bishop.
It was just at this time that Grandfather had accepted the charge of the Church in Norwalk, and finding it impossible to leave Owego immediately, he asked Father to stop in Norwalk on his way to Iowa and to take charge of the Church there temporarily until he could make his arrangements to come; so that my father was my grandfather's predecessor in that Church, just as I was later my father's predecessor in the Church in Iowa City; and it was in Norwalk that Grandfather finished his earthly ministry. I can remember Main Street in Norwalk, and I can remember Grandfather's house; I can remember Uncle Richard's store and the barrel of New Orleans brown sugar from which I used to get lumps of sticky brown goodness; and I can remember Uncle Richard saying, "Come on, Sam, it's time to go home to dinner," and that meant stopping on the way at the Stoutenburgh house where was found at the gate a radiant vision of beauty, who was one day to be my Aunt Charlotte. I can remember my greatuncle Edward Cooke, who was Grandmother's brother, and his two daughters, my father's cousins who were so good to me. Those nieces were rather old-fashioned and always said Uncle Watson, and Aunt Watson; and Grandmother on all occasions which demanded it, called Grandfather "Mr. Watson."
We Watson menfolk have all of us been rather lacking in parsonical dignity, except in church, where our solemnity of demeanor was, so I think, partly aesthetic good taste, and partly reverence for the fitness of things. And we all of us, neither Grandfather, Father, nor I, could ever let the cut of our garb repress our sense of humour and our love of a joke. (How Father loved to hear and to tell a good story!) One of the Cooke family relates that on a Sunday afternoon when Grandfather had indulged in some precious bit of fun, Grandmother said soberly, "Mr. Watson, I think that you forget what day this is." A little "uncoguid" this may seem to some of her descendants, yet, after all, I think that even an exaggerated regard for the niceties was a finer spirit than the utter lack of reverence for anything which is to-day called "being modern." In his later years Grandfather became blind, but for all that, he still continued to minister in the Church; he knew the services perfectly by heart, and on the Sunday mornings he would have some one of the family read over for him the Psalms for the Day, and the Lessons, and the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel (for the Ante-Communion was an invariable part of the morning worship), and then tapping his way down the street with his cane he would go to the Church, put on his gown or his surplice, and say the morning Offices. In the last days of their lives both Grandfather and Grandmother were confined to their beds which were in opposite corners of their big room, and every morning they said together the Prayer Book Morning Prayer, Versicle and Response being made from bed to bed. To have known my father and to have had such memories of my grandfather and my grandmother was to have an inspiring vision of what heredity and environment might mean. Grandfather died on November 15, 1870; and Grandmother on the 20th of October of the same year; their bodies were laid in a fenced-in plot just back of the Church in Norwalk.
Father was one of four children; beside him there was his brother Richard, and his two sisters, Mary Anne and Eliza. My father's two sisters never married. My Aunt Mary Anne died in Bellevue, Ohio, and I laid her body to rest in the cemetery there. My Aunt Eliza led a busy and deeply interested life as a teacher, beginning her work at a school at Poughkeepsie on the Hudson, which was under the direction of the Rev. Mr. Rider. Later she became associated with Mrs. Sylvanus Reed in the Reed School on East 53rd Street, New York; and when that school passed out of Mrs. Reed's hands, my aunt with one of her friends opened a school of their own in the City. She passed away at Asbury Park, New Jersey on May 11, 1911; her body was laid beside her sister's in the Bellevue Cemetery, and I said the last words beside the grave. My Uncle was for some years a merchant in Norwalk, and there he married Charlotte Stoutenburgh; later he moved to Salina, Kansas, where he went into business; and the first services of the Episcopal Church in Sauna were said in his house. He had three children, Charlotte, Eliza, and George (George III), who were all born in Sauna. Charlotte and Eliza (Lida to you) have never married, and have lived in recent years in Norwalk. George married Edith Whittier, and has two children, Jeannette, and Flora; George lives in Cleveland, Ohio. My Uncle Richard was a round and jolly man; and we all loved him dearly; and my Aunt Eliza was the fairy godmother to us all.
After supplying the Church in Norwalk for a time, Father went to Iowa, where with Davenport as a starting point he began work at various river points on the Mississippi, Bellevue and Savannah being among them. Soon after that the new Bishop came, and the active organisation of the Diocese began. He is very clear in my memory, Henry Washington Lee, the first Bishop of Iowa; he used to put me on his shoulder and tell me that he was just the height of Goliath. He loved my father, and out of that association grew one of the happiest relationships of my father's life, his acquaintance with the French family who were Bishop Lee's kinfolk; and from that came my own close friendship with my almost-kinfolk, the George Watson Frenchs of Davenport. George and Anna French have been very close to me in the years that I have known them well, which means since I came to California to live; and to have learned to know and to love George and Anna French is one of the good things which California has brought to my life. Alice French, George's sister, is known to the literary world as Octave Thanet; and his brother Nathanael was both honoured and admired as a jurist in Iowa Courts and elsewhere.
The French family welcomed my father to their home, and Father's engagement to the daughter of the family was brought to a sad close by her death; and when the son of the French family welcomed his little newborn son he was called George Watson French after my father. I have heard George say that when he was a little boy his father took him by the hand and led him over to my father and said, "Son, this is the kind of man I want you to grow up like."
At Bishop Lee's request Father left the eastern part of Iowa to go to the extreme western part, where he settled in Council Bluffs and established the church there, and from there began work in Sioux City, and in Omaha in Nebraska. He made the journey in winter going from Davenport to Iowa City by the railroad, Iowa City being then the Western terminus of the Railroad, and from Iowa City he went to Council Bluffs, by way of Des Moines, in the Government Mail which was an open sled drawn by four horses. I have heard Mrs. Weare who was Father's hostess at Sioux City tell of the time when he first arrived there and came to their house where he was to stay on the occasion of his first church service in Sioux City: she was kneading bread, and she was obliged to ask Father to sit down on the doorstep until she could get her hands out of the dough.
I was at that time in Sioux City in camp with two Regiments of National Guard troops, the Third Iowa of which I was chaplain, and the First Dakota. It was very cold at night, so cold that the water barrels from which we got our water to wash with were frozen over in the morning, and we were obliged to break the ice with a hairbrush. Our Colonel, being the ranking officer, was in command of the Brigade: for his headquarters he had a tent with a large fly to it for his office, and back of that another tent for his sleeping quarters; and in front of. headquarters he had a large "V-shaped" barricade built of old railroad ties, in the open side of which toward headquarters was built a large fire and some of the heat was reflected into the big tent. On account of the cold, the Colonel said to me, "Chaplain, you and the Adjutant have your cots brought up here and put them in the big tent in front of mine, and you will be much warmer at night"; which was done. That night after I had gone to bed, "boots and breeches on," I was half asleep with my blankets pulled up over my ears, when some one shook me and said, "Wake up, old man; here's something to keep the cold out!" The "something" was a brown bottle; need it be said that "Barkis was willin'" ? As I handed back the little brown jug to the thoughtful friend who brought it, who was the adjutant of the First Dakota, he nearly dropped it. "Good Lord," he said; "It's the Chaplain!" He had thought that he was comforting his colleague the adjutant of the Third Iowa. (Comment: All the officers were present at Church Parade next morning.)
Father made his home in Council Bluffs at the house of Judge Douglass; on Sundays his morning service was in Council Bluffs, and in the afternoon he crossed the Missouri River to hold service at night on the Omaha side; the service was in Papillon, then the county seat and the real town adjoining Fort Omaha. The crossing was on the ferry when the boat could run, and when the river was blocked with ice the crossing was made by the Government Mail which was a sledge when that was usable, and otherwise, when the ice was running, they used a boat on runners which they pushed over the cakes of ice until they came to open water when the sledge became a boat. In Omaha Father stayed with his friend judge Woolworth. The judge had a cabin of two rooms, one of which was office and the other was bedroom; there was one bed, and Father and the judge used to draw lots as to which one of them should have the bedsprings and the blankets and which one should have the mattress on the floor in front of the fireplace; and Father said that he often slept on the floor with his carpet-sack for a pillow and his buffalo-skin coat for a cover. And that carpet-sack! it was a real carpet-bag---I can see it now. It fell to me in after years, and I used to carry it when as a small boy I went to the country when we lived in Burlington to make a visit with the Danner family who were close friends of ours.
The Danners lived on a farm which was traversed by the railroad, and once I thought that I had made my fortune there; I had gathered up abandoned spikes which the section gangs had thrown away along the right-of-way---all I could carry of the rusty old things---and I lugged them home when I went back, carrying them in that carpet-sack mixed promiscuously with my clothes and my "nighty." The rusty spots on my clothes betrayed me; and when I explained that I had found the spikes and that I was going to sell them for "old-iron," I was informed by my dignified family that I was going to do nothing of the sort; that the spikes belonged to the Railroad, and that selling them was stealing. There and then I put a poser to them---"What was I going to do with them?" The solution of that problem in ethics I do not remember. But I wish now that I had taken it myself for solution to the genial President of the "Burlington," and had said: "Mr. Perkins, here are some of your old spikes; my family says that I can't sell them for 'old-iron,' because they are yours, and selling them would be stealing; I didn't know it wasn't all right to take them when they had been thrown away. Please, Sir, what shall I do with them?" And I know right well what the answer would have been: Mr. Perkins would have said, "Sam, that's fine of you to come to me about it"; and I think that I would have had more nickels to buy some of those fat sticks of molasses candy at Runge's for a nickel apiece; and I don't think that the question of ethics would have been raised by the "old-do'" man who would have had the final disposition of the matter.
That carpet-bag brings me to another story. I was out on the Danner's farm near Burlington, and I was sleeping in a third floor room on a mattress near a window, and in the middle of one night I woke hearing the most awful shrieks which seemed to come from just outside my window. I crept close under the blankets shivering with fear; the moonlight was pouring in the window, but it was a long time before I got courage enough to look out. When I did so what I saw was not calculated to quiet my dread, for I saw a circle of banshees with their heads cast up toward the moon and uttering most fearful cries; and I shut my eyes again and shivered until daylight when the banshees crept away and the shrieking stopped. Morning brought its answer to my troubles of the night. The banshees were prairie wolves gathered in a circle in the moonlight and howling at the moon about a spot where the body of a dead cow had been buried on the prairie a few days before. I have heard wolves howl in the Morvan in France one night, when my car was fast in the snow after skidding into a drift and I had to sit there five hours till help came, but I have never heard any howling like that of those prairie wolves---the Morvan wolves were timber wolves: And I've known fear too; but submarines in the Estuary of the Gironde, or bombs on the City at night, or even "Big-Bertha," none of these had an "edge" on those prairie wolves for pure unmitigated frightening of the human body. Those war time affairs did not really frighten the real You; they simply gave you a feeling somewhat akin to what the old lady had in mind when she said, "I wish that John would get well---or something." Have it over with, and get done with it, that's the way you felt then.
There were amusing things which happened to relieve the hardness of those journeys, which my father made in and about that Council Bluffs and Omaha country. Claim-jumping was the one unpardonable sin in that day and country, and the Vigilantes executed summary vengeance on a caught offender. At one time Father was preaching in the Court House at Papillon---the court room was on the second floor of a log building and above the county offices. While he was talking a man came forward and handed him a piece of folded brown paper; and Father thinking that it was some kind of a notice to give out put the paper under the edge of the Bible and went on with his discourse. After a time, noticing the man fidgeting around in the back of the room Father was not surprised to see the man come forward with another piece of paper in his hand, and this time, in handing it to Father, he said "Read it!" Father read it; and this is what was written in it; "Hurry up! Preacher, we want to try a man." Father cut the sermon short (probably, as he said, to its advantage) and let the people go with a benediction; and, as the congregation made its way down the stairs they met the Vigilantes coming up bringing with them the claim-jumper, his hands tied behind his back. Before they were out of sight of the Court House, the case was tried and settled and the criminal strung up. It goes without saying that claim-jumping soon ceased to be a popular sport.
During the time that Father was in charge of the church in Council Bluffs, he went East on a vacation and made a visit to his close friend in the Seminary, the Rev. Dr. Edward Foggo, afterward Rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia, who was, at the time when Father visited him, the Rector of Christ Church, Allentown, New Jersey. That was the little white old-fashioned church on Church Street, which I so well remember; and of that church Hetty Newell was the organist. Eglinton was as widely known for its hospitality as were the Newell girls for their charm, and the sequel to this visit to the East was Father's marriage to my mother on September 21, 1859. My mother was very pretty; slender, petite, brunette in type; she had wonderful eyes, and a charm of manner and a gaiety of spirit which were most winning. Beverly Jones, one of our Canadian cousins, wrote me this about Mother:
"I have often noted a family trait which seems to have descended to your mother, as it did to my mother, from some remote ancestor. My mother had the most penetrating eye, which used to look through me when I did anything which she did not like. Your mother had the same kind of eyes; and if I was 'cheeky' to her as a boy she would look through me in the same way and never say anything, but that eye would 'flatten me out' more than if either of them had shown their displeasure by speaking. I often wondered if that eye went through you in the same way as my mother's eye went through me . . . I am sending you some views of Rockford where your mother used to slide down hill in the winter time."
Mother was very fond of her Canadian cousins and spent much time at Brockville, Ontario, where was Rockford (the family place) of which Cousin Beverly wrote; and the Canadian cousins were frequent visitors at Eglinton.
Mother graduated at St. Mary's Hall, Burlington, N. J.; she was distinguished at the school for her musical ability, and her music master there dedicated one of his compositions to her. One of Mother's schoolmates at St. Mary's was Caroline Scheetz, whose son Frederick Scheetz Jones became Dean of Yale; he was my schoolmate at Shattuck.
In 1859 Father and Mother started from New Jersey together to make their home in the West, leaving a place which was more "home" to my mother than any one place can possibly be to most of my readers. Seven generations of her ancestors were born under the same rooftree which sheltered her infancy; every stick and stone of the place was replete with associations and memories; every name of every family for miles around was familiar; and cousins from the first to the Nth degree of kinship were more or less constantly coming and going; for Eglinton was the replica of an old English Manor Hall with its doors wide open with hospitable welcome to all our kinfolk. More than once do I remember our sitting down at dinner in the dining-room at Eglinton with twenty at the table, and all of the twenty relatives in some degree of kinship. It was with leaving all this behind that Mother came to that border-town on the Missouri where her life was to begin anew; and what the resultant homesickness must have been after the first novelty wore off no one of us of her kinfolk can realise. I have been homesick; it is an ache which finds no relief; no wonder that no one of us ever fully knew till long afterward what Mother gave of life to life, when she made a home for a family in that wild new world of the Western plains.
Their first stop was in Chicago where Mother bought supplies for her housekeeping; some of the china which came from "Burley's" I have with me still. From Chicago they went to St. Louis by train; from there to St. Joseph by boat on the Missouri; and from St. Joseph they went to Council Bluffs by stage coach. The only tradition which I have of the life in Council Bluffs is the story of a fright which Mother had when she looked up from her sewing (probably sewing for me, for I was then "on the way"), and she saw an Indian in paint and feathers looking in at her through the window. From Council Bluffs the family moved to Lyons, Iowa, and it was there that I arrived vocally upon the scene; from Lyons we moved in 1866 to Burlington, another town on the great Mississippi; and it is in Burlington that my own story really begins in conscious memory.
BURLINGTON was really my only home, until I came to California; although I always felt myself at home at Eglinton. I loved the place like a home, which means that I was always glad to go back to it, both in bodily presence and in memory. That is my definition of "home"---a place to which you always love to go back; and Burlington had always that attraction for me.
Father was Rector of Christ Church on the corner of Fifth and High; and we lived first on Fourth Street, in what we always called the "Clark House"; later on we moved to what we called the "Hedge house," just next to the big house on the corner of Fifth (and I think it was Columbia) where Mr. Thomas Hedge, Sr. lived, and between that and the house which Thomas Hedge, Jr. built for himself after we moved there, and after he married the lovely Mollie Cook. The Clark house was a good sized red brick house set up high from the street with terraces and a stone wall; on the south side was an alley; the street was a dirt road, and a sea of mud when it rained, and the alley was the same. There were alleys all over the town cutting the blocks in four; and those alleys!---they were the happy hunting ground of pigs, and sometimes cows; there was no city ordinance controlling the free roaming of such domestic pets; there was no sewer system and no garbage collecting service; the garbage was deposited in the alleys by every one and the pigs and the cows did garbage service free of charge. Wooden sidewalks were everywhere; and one would often have to wait a moment when about to cross an alleyway until Mrs. Pig and a tribe of little piglets availed themselves of what one willing accorded them, the "right of way."
But Burlington was a fair place, for all that these were primitive times and there were some funny things about it. It had VIEWS. Never except in my Oriole House in Montecito have I lived with such a wealth of view as we had from the windows of "Mother's room," the upstairs southeast corner room, of the "Clark house" in Burlington. The long stretch of the Mississippi from the "Cut-off" to Vinegar Hill, miles wide when the river was in flood, and with sandbars showing at times of low water. And what I saw from those windows in Mother's room!---boats, and boats, and more boats; the two ferries that ran across the River to East Burlington, the Flint Hills and the Shokoquon. The Railroad did not cross the river when we first went there to live; one had to take the ferry across to East Burlington, and then wade through sand and pine log bark up to the East Burlington Station of the C. B. & Q. when we went on one of our pilgrimages to the homeland in Jersey. And then the big boats! and they were really big boats. I could tell every one of them by the shape and colour of its pilot-house, and by the sound of its whistle---the Phil Sheridan, and the Tom Jasper, and the Hawkeye State, and all the rest, which were big side-wheelers. Then there were some fine big stern-wheelers like the Diamond Joe; and there was the whole fleet of towboats and raftboats, lografts and lumber-rafts. Oh, a river town was a place for a boy to grow up in. They say, "Pity a boy who has never known life on a farm," and I say so too; but I say also, "Pity a boy who has never grown up on the banks of a real river like the Mississippi"; and I knew both, for we went back to the home farm at Eglinton nearly every summer. It was one of those log-rafts which taught me to swim. Just above the town there was an inland passage, a sort of bayou, or as we called it a slough (sloo), and the stern-wheelers with their tows of logs, which they did not tow but pushed, used often at high water to take that cut-off in order to save time. Just after emerging from the cut-off and being close to the right bank, the head of the raft would be well inshore, and then the raftboat would have to push the rear end hard and sharp in order to swing the raft out into the channel again.
There was a sand beach on the main shore just where the cut-off ended, and this was a favourite place for boys to swim; but, for me, it was against parental orders to go into the river. There was a bathhouse on floats in the river just in front of the town, and once a week I was given ten cents to pay my way at the bathhouse. It seemed to me an awful waste of good molasses candy in the potential to spend that money just to go in the river, when most of the boys went in the river for nothing. (And if I mention that molasses candy at Runge's, big fat sticks for a nickel, every old Burlington boy will know what I mean; if I mention them more often than seems necessary, the modern reader is asked to remember that even now-a-days doctors say that children need sweets). Well, the sequel needs no telling; I took to going in the river with the other boys; and one day when a stern-pusher came along with a big string of logs and swung it in close to the shore and all the other boys hopped on, I went with the rest; I was thrilled and fascinated. Then the head of the raft swung out from the shore, the boys jumped off and made for land, and what I heard was, "Jump, Sam! Jump, you little fool!" For a whole minute which seemed an age, the problem flashed through my mind, what to do, for I knew I really could not swim. Should I jump and risk drowning, or should I stick by the raft and go on with it down river in sight of all Burlington, and me with nothing on but "my birthday suit"; the scene sometimes repeats itself even now in my dreams. But in the end modesty prevailed; I jumped, made half a dozen paddles dogfashion toward the shore, went down, came up, went down again, paddled some more, and then was dragged out thoroughly water-logged by two of the bigger boys, was rolled on the sand, hung up by the heels, slapped on the back, and finally when I got my breath back was encouraged to go into the water again. And, then, wonder of wonders, the thrilling truth came home to me---I COULD SWIM. From that moment the fascination of the river was on me in real earnest; Old Man River called whenever I could run away from the good little boys of the neighbourhood with whom I was supposed to be playing. But the summer Iowa sun was hot on youthful backs, and one day Aunt Mary said to Mother, "Hetty, just look at this poor boy's back and shoulders; he's all sunburned; you must get him some thicker waists to wear." But the rest of the family were not so easy as Aunt Mary, and after a due application of the "third degree," the truth came out---I had been in the river. "Have you not been told that you must not go in the river until you can swim?" I was asked. My dearly beloved family did not realise what they had done by that question; but I did, and I took advantage of it; their question "gave me the edge," and my reply was, "But I can swim; just come down to the bathhouse with me, and I'll show you." They were good sports, my family; they accepted my challenge; and "I show'd 'em," and won my freedom, as many another had before me, at the risk of my life, little realising what a small boy drowned could mean to his family, nor what it had cost to "born and raise" him. Not that I would have cared much in those days, for as I think of it now, I must have been a selfish little beast; and my chief concern was that there would have been no more swimming in the river and no more molasses candy at Runge's.
Father was an epicure; he knew all about good things to eat, and he knew how to pick them out. There was a market down near Valley Street to which the country people brought their produce, and in the cool of the morning about six o'clock Father would take a big market-basket and go to the market and come home again with a basket brimming full. I had often begged to go with him, and as often had been told "No." One morning when Father was on his way to the market, whom did he see but Sam, in his nighties, sitting on the low stone wall at Fourth and Columbia Streets, at the end of the Robertson place. The fascinated reader would ask me to tell what followed, rather than repeat the sad tale, I would prefer to reply in Latin. Father used to tell the story of an Eton boy who had been flogged, and who was standing in one of the hallways, arm against the wall, head on his arm, and crying. Queen Victoria was visiting the school that day, and when she saw the boy, she stopped and said, "Why, my lad, what is the matter?", and the boy replied "Infandum regina, jubes renovare dolorem" (O Queen, you order me to renew my awful hurt). Father loved Latin, and Latin jokes, and he told this tale of a boy who used to come to him and to some others of his schoolmates and beg them to translate his Latin poetry for him just before class. Thinking to get rid of him in future, one day when this line occurred in the lesson, "Romanos rerum dominos, gentem que togatam," they translated it for him, and he went into class with this translation of it; Romanos rerum---a Roman nose is a rare thing; dominos---damn the nose; gentemque togatam---and the gentleman that's got him.
Another sight which I had from the windows of Mother's room which thrilled me was the building of the bridge. The C. B. & Q. Road ran from Chicago to the Mississippi; then from the Mississippi to the Missouri was the old B. & M.; but in time there came an empire-builder, C. E. Perkins, and in August, 1868 the Mississippi was bridged, and the two roads became "The Burlington"; and the trains came across right in sight of our windows. It was a wonderful sight to see the first little dinky engines crawling out over that spider work of a bridge; and then work trains, and then passenger and freight trains. The building of that bridge was a great piece of engineering in those days; it was first of all the vision of a constructive mind, and then the accomplishing of an engineering feat of giant proportions. There were mud-banks for approaches, and a shifting current always at work eroding both banks and channels; there were piers to sink in deflecting swirls of water, and accumulations of mud and débris to reckon with whenever high water changed conditions; and how to place the piers with reference to the "draw" so as to make navigation safe in those whirling waters, so that big boats like the Phil Sheridan, could pass through the "draw" at all waters. I was thrilled when I saw it being done, and I am more appreciative of its meaning as I look back at it after all these years. And to make that bridge safe for boats to pass was a first essential, for there was no north and south transportation from Burlington in those days except that which the river afforded. Those were the days of which Mark Twain wrote such vivid pictures in his river stories; and passengers and freight, north-bound or south-bound, had to wait on the levee or on the wharf-boat until the steamers came. Piers and docks were impossible on account of the current and the varying levels of the water; and so all loadings and landings had to be made by a landing-stage let down from the boat. You could never tell exactly when a boat would be in. One of my most vivid memories of river days is of a trip northward by boat on the river. The agent on the levee said, "She'll be in about 8:00 o'clock this evening"; so by 6:30 we were all packed up and had had our supper; at 7:00 the trunks started for the levee on a "dray," and we followed them in the omnibus which had been notified to come for us and in more than ample time we reached the landing. Eight o'clock came and no boat; there was no telephone, nor wireless, and except from the largest towns there was no possibility of getting word as to the boat's whereabouts by telegram; and there would have been no way of getting the word to our house if word had been received; so to go to the levee and wait was all that there was to be done. We could not go home again for there was no way of getting there and back, and no knowing either when the boat would come, and that the last boat for a week. The boat was the Hawkeye State, and she was a beauty. Oh, the splendour of her "saloon"---the long salon between the staterooms with the tables set the length of the boat in between the staterooms, all of it splendid in white and gold and scarlet and mirrors, and overhead the quivering and the jingling of the lustres about the oil-lamps which lit it all as the engines throbbed and set the great palace adriving up the stream. We were impatient to go. Would she ever come? Night grew darker and colder. "Come here children and put your wraps on"; and finally heavy-lidded eyes gave way to slumber long delayed past the usual "eight o'clock bedtime"; and then, "Wake up children; the boat's coming!" First the whistle before we could see anything; then a scarlet glow in the sky; then coming around the bend by Vinegar Hill a blaze of lights; and we knew that Providence had been kind, and that we were going after all. I have crossed the Ocean many times, sometimes on giant liners like the Lusitania, but I never had again such a thrill as that which that first river trip on the Hawkeye State gave me.
My schooldays began in Burlington. Father taught me Latin while we lived in "the Clark house," but I remember but little of that first educative experience except that the Latin Books were bound in sheepskin---Anthon's Caesar, and Anthon's Latin Dictionary; and what little I remember of them is that I liked the smell of the leather. Thus early I seem to have begun to feel the pull of sense-perception.
Public Schools in Iowa in those days had small attraction for one like my father who had been brought up with English ideas of thoroughness in education; they were fairly inefficient types of mass education which gave no chance at all for individual instruction but obliged all the children to go from grade to grade at a pace which was fixed by the dullest of the lot. As a consequence I was sent to Mr. Graff's school, a private school, in a wooden schoolhouse on the south end of the Robertson property, on Columbia Street just off Fourth. In this story I am putting in the names of streets just as I remember them after more than sixty years of absence, and I may locate some of them inexactly, but that is the way in which all history is written, as I have before remarked; the main fact is that there was a street there, and that it had a name, and that I went to a school in the neighbourhood; and that is exactitude enough for any reader or writer of history. Mr. Graff was a precisian; there were no debatable things with him; you could not be half-right and half-wrong with Mr. Graff, and the present day sloppy moral code would have had short shrift if enunciated by any of his scholars in his presence. There were no excuses for non-performance; you knew your lesson or you didn't; you were eating that apple on the sly behind your desk, or you were not; and the one crime, worse than the crime itself, in his eyes, was lying about it. For girls, punishments were perforce limited in possibility of variety and performance (for Mr. Graff was a chivalrous man, with a delicate courtesy toward woman-kind) and consisted of standing in a corner, back to the school and face to the wall. For boys it was different; their punishment was a beating, on the hands with a ruler, or with a stick on that part of the anatomy most prominent, with the result that sitting down was uncomfortable for some time afterward; and the instrument of punishment was selected with due regard to its intended use. The instruction given the unlucky culprit would be; "Take this knife, and go out and cut me a stick; not an old dried one, but a tough limber one!" I well remember a certain boy whose name I could give, and I hesitate to do it for fear that he might challenge the record on grounds of historical accuracy, who having been warned of a beating to come on the morrow, took the precaution of putting on an extra pair of trousers. The punishment was administered with no faltering arm, but the little rascal was so foolish as to grin in the face of the labouring teacher as the strokes came down. A superficial exploration sufficed to reveal the fraud on the public, and (Mr. Graff had no sense of humour in such a case). S-----(I almost gave his name) was instructed to retire and remove the impediments, and come back for more. Yet Mr. Graff's school was the best school in Burlington. Judge James D. Smyth speaks of him as "our rugged instructor Graff," of whom it may be said, as of Goldsmith's village schoolmaster that, "If severe in aught, the love he bore to learning was in fault." It was the sort of a school which a river town of that day needed; it taught boys and girls, especially boys, lessons with a thoroughness which could be found nowhere else; parents were grateful for it, and as for me, I am grateful for it too. For Mr. Graff taught me arithmetic, and that was a triumph; I do not know any one else who could have done it; it was the only mathematics which I ever learned; for the rest of my scholastic days I consistently and shamelessly flunked "Math." And more than a merely scholastic training was had in that school; Mr. Graff was a character builder; boys and girls who could not stand real training went back to the public schools. So called modern methods are apparently more merciful, more understanding, more sympathetic; but they partake of the lacks in modern home life and home training; they are soft; the reaction to them on the part of youth is a tendency to exaggerate self and its cries for consideration. My diagnosis of the causes for the wobbliness of this American generation is that precedent and environing life has failed in cradling it in the idealism of a lovable and livable family background; and has also failed in inspiring it with that loyalty to something beyond itself and its cries of self in which strength of character finds chiefest support.
I remember well some of my schoolmates at Mr. Graffs, Frank and Arthur Adams, and the Robertson girls with their appleblossom fairness, and the Brooks girls from South Hill.
I did fairly well in the school, largely because I did not like what went with not doing fairly well. I was always a sensitive individual, too much so often for my own good; and my worst offence was neglecting to learn "a piece" to speak, and for the third and last time to perpetrate that sad apology in rhyme:
"You'd scarce expect one of my age
To speak in public on the stage."
And again I quote with full assent Judge Smyth's words; "I consider Mr. Graff's instruction as of the very best that I ever received anywhere."
We had neighbours when we lived in the "Clark house" on Fourth Street, whom I bear in grateful memory. Just next to us on the south lived the Mathes family, German people of the good old sort; there were many like them all down the Mississippi Valley, and Burlington had many of them; the kind of Germans who, even in that day, rebelled against autocracy and imperialism; Germans of the Carl Schurz type; never were better friends and neighbours than they. The Mathes family made me welcome to their table, and they did have such good things to eat; and from them I learned my beginnings of the sonorous tongue of the Fatherland. And on the north of us lived Fred Becker, a bachelor, and his two maiden sisters; they taught me to love the traditions of old Germany; I thought of them often when I visited Germany years later, the kindly, jolly, comfortable Germany that I first knew; and one of the bitter things of the War to me was to realize how the heart of the German people was being wounded by the results of the blinded ambitions of their leaders. The Beckers were gentle folk; Fred Becker was the principal liquor dealer in Burlington; and the Decker house and garden at Christmas and at Easter with Lebkuchen, and the Easter rabbits leaving eggs for children under every bush were full of joys for us small folk.
Near Fred Becker's store was the wholesale grocery of John H. Gear, who had beautiful daughters. Senator Gear he was afterward. I used to go down to that good smelling emporium of his and make my way back to the office which was partitioned off in glass from the mainstore, and I would find the big man himself, and hold out to him what was wealth to me and tell him that I came to get a nickel's worth of Brazil nuts---"nigger-toes" we called them in those days. And I would come away with a great cornucopia, symbol of plenty, filled to running over with a quarter's worth of spoil for a nickel, just because John H. Gear's heart had a place in it for small boys. I wonder if grown folk were to realize how sympathy and understanding makes the world a more joyful place for little folk, and whether that impulse would not perpetuate itself throughout the world of adults of which children are the making in years to follow.
While we were still in the "Clark house" there came to Burlington a young Englishman by the name of Berkeley. His father was the vicar of Southminster, and he was a younger son, so he came out to Canada to find his fortune; but Canada offered him nothing; and in some way he drifted to Burlington. Father was always an Englishman at heart and feeling. I have often thought that he would have found life infinitely congenial if the way had opened for him so that he could have gone back to England to live and work there: he was naturalized here and became a citizen late in life not for any other reason but that he might render a service to a dear friend; but birth and inborn traditions of life kept him English still. I question seriously whether there is not such an inherent difference between natural relations and assumed relations as to make the naturalization of the foreign-born an attempt to accomplish the impossible; it is impossible to change racial traits, to graft a new present on an old past, simply by signing a document or by giving verbal assent to declaration of new loyalties. I speak to the point; I lived the life of the French people for years. The Chief Justice of France once said to me: "Better than any foreigner who has ever to come to live among us, you have come to feel and realize the meaning of France"; but he knew, and I knew that I could never become a real Frenchman; and, knowing France as intimately as I do, I know perfectly well that it is impossible to make a Frenchman into an American. Those who decry nationality must face stubborn facts. Each nation is an entity, a personality; each nation has its own gift to give to one corporate humanity; each nation enshrines in its heart a gift for all life, just as a reliquary is both a symbol and a creator of devotion; all human life would have been infinitely poorer without the treasures which national and racial character have engendered and brought to birth; and those contributions to life's larger meaning are not cosmopolitan in origin or spirit. Shakespeare was an Englishman as definitely as Homer was a Greek, and not only an Englishman but an Englishman of a given time in England's story; Wagner was a German, no spirit but the Teutonic inbreathing of life could have entoned his vibrating melodies. Nationality is back of them, found utterance in them both; no other background but their own national life could have inspired them to bring their immortal contributions to the enrichment of all that human life has of vision and joy today.
And now for the young Englishman whose coming to Burlington started me on this train of thought. It was because Father was an Englishman at heart that he took such a liking to this young Berkeley compatriot, and got him a job under Bob Burdette as a reporter on The Burlington Hawkeye. And to those who do not know the Burlington Hawkeye let me say that it was the biggest small town newspaper, and the liveliest and the wittiest periodical in all the West. And for the same reason, in course of time, Maurice Berkeley "came to our house to stay." He studied with me, for Father found that Maurice seriously longed to become a minister, so Father prepared him in his Latin and Greek, and in due time Maurice went to Nashotah, graduated, was ordained, and his first work was in Keokuk, Iowa, as assistant to Father's good and cherished friend, Dr. McIlwain, the Rector of St. John's.
Father's birthday present to me on my twelfth birthday was a Greek Grammar, "Professor Hadley's almost perfect grammar," as it has been called.
My sister Mary was born in the "Clark house"; a frail and a delicate child; that fact as well as her naturally appealing nature made her very dear to the family; she was known as "Pussie" Watson. I remember a portrait of her done on porcelain by Monfort & Hill, of Burlington, which is a thing of exquisite beauty.
As I think of those Burlington days, over for me, more than sixty years gone, I marvel at what a strange thing memory is, and what details it clings to! There was a public park one block in extent near where we lived; and I can remember the names of most of the people who lived in the houses which faced the Park; there were the Denises, and the Touzalins, and the Hedges, and the Robertsons, and the Smyths, and the Armstrongs, and the Lanes, and the Greens; and then near us in the other direction were the Rhodes, and the Nelsons, and the Garretts, and the Schramms, and the Tracys, and the Adams, and the Pollocks, and Miss Lorraine, and the Harbachs, and the Cooks. And here I must pay a sincere though passing compliment to the first girl who ever made a deep impression on my youthful heart, Lulie (Louise) Cook; she was my young ideal of loveliness, and my heart was at her feet, but I don't think that she ever felt urgently inclined to pick it up. When years afterward, as Louise Carson, she asked me to dinner at her house I found her as attractive as ever, and I complimented myself on my youthful good taste.
We had a baseball team there on North Hill, composed of the boys and girls of the neighbourhood. One day when I was taking lunch in Santa Barbara at the house of Mrs. E. S. Otis, General Harbach asked me where my home town was, and I told him that Burlington was the only place which I ever had thought of as home; and the General said that his family were Burlington people. "Was Betty Harbach one of your family?" I asked. And the General said, "She was my little sister; did you know her?" "Yes," I replied, "Betty Harbach was the pitcher on our baseball nine." My great chums in the neighbourhood were Frank Adams, and Charlie and Walter Schramm. How well I remember them all after all these years---the Schramms, Henry, Lucia, Charlie, Walter, and Ralph; and the Adams, Fanny, Ed, Arthur, Frank, Maud, Daisy (Genevieve), and Gail! Again I think, what a thing is memory! to keep all their names in mind along with my grateful memories of them. There is there something of the meaning of a home place.
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