The Story of a Pioneer
Anna Howard Shaw

Part 1 out of 6

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They cut a path through tangled underwood
Of old traditions, out to broader ways.
They lived to here their work called brave and good,
But oh! the thorns before the crown of bays.
The world gives lashes to its Pioneers
Until the goal is reached--then deafening cheers.




















































My father's ancestors were the Shaws of
Rothiemurchus, in Scotland, and the ruins
of their castle may still be seen on the island of
Loch-an-Eilan, in the northern Highlands. It was
never the picturesque castle of song and story, this
home of the fighting Shaws, but an austere fortress,
probably built in Roman times; and even to-day
the crumbling walls which alone are left of it show
traces of the relentless assaults upon them. Of
these the last and the most successful were made
in the seventeenth century by the Grants and
Rob Roy; and it was into the hands of the Grants
that the Shaw fortress finally fell, about 1700, after
almost a hundred years of ceaseless warfare.

It gives me no pleasure to read the grisly details
of their struggles, but I confess to a certain satisfac-
tion in the knowledge that my ancestors made a
good showing in the defense of what was theirs.
Beyond doubt they were brave fighters and strong
men. There were other sides to their natures,
however, which the high lights of history throw up
less appealingly. As an instance, we have in the
family chronicles the blood-stained page of Allen
Shaw, the oldest son of the last Lady Shaw who
lived in the fortress. It appears that when the
father of this young man died, about 1560, his
mother married again, to the intense disapproval
of her son. For some time after the marriage he
made no open revolt against the new-comer in the
domestic circle; but finally, on the pretext that
his dog had been attacked by his stepfather, he
forced a quarrel with the older man and the two
fought a duel with swords, after which the vic-
torious Allen showed a sad lack of chivalry. He
not only killed his stepfather, but he cut off that
gentleman's head and bore it to his mother in her bed-
chamber--an action which was considered, even in
that tolerant age, to be carrying filial resentment
too far.

Probably Allen regretted it. Certainly he paid
a high penalty for it, and his clan suffered with him.
He was outlawed and fled, only to be hunted down
for months, and finally captured and executed by
one of the Grants, who, in further virtuous disap-
proval of Allen's act, seized and held the Shaw
stronghold. The other Shaws of the clan fought
long and ably for its recovery, but though they were
helped by their kinsmen, the Mackintoshes, and
though good Scotch blood dyed the gray walls of
the fortress for many generations, the castle never
again came into the hands of the Shaws. It still
entails certain obligations for the Grants, however,
and one of these is to give the King of England a
snowball whenever he visits Loch-an-Eilan!

As the years passed the Shaw clan scattered.
Many Shaws are still to be found in the Mackintosh
country and throughout southern Scotland. Others
went to England, and it was from this latter branch
that my father sprang. His name was Thomas
Shaw, and he was the younger son of a gentleman--a
word which in those days seemed to define a man
who devoted his time largely to gambling and horse-
racing. My grandfather, like his father before him,
was true to the traditions of his time and class.
Quite naturally and simply he squandered all he had,
and died abruptly, leaving his wife and two sons
penniless. They were not, however, a helpless band.
They, too, had their traditions, handed down by
the fighting Shaws. Peter, the older son, became a
soldier, and died bravely in the Crimean War. My
father, through some outside influence, turned his
attention to trade, learning to stain and emboss wall-
paper by hand, and developing this work until he
became the recognized expert in his field. Indeed,
he progressed until he himself checked his rise by
inventing a machine that made his handwork un-
necessary. His employer at once claimed and
utilized this invention, to which, by the laws of
those days, he was entitled, and thus the corner-
stone on which my father had expected to build a
fortune proved the rock on which his career was
wrecked. But that was years later, in America, and
many other things had happened first.

For one, he had temporarily dropped his trade
and gone into the flour-and-grain business; and,
for another, he had married my mother. She was
the daughter of a Scotch couple who had come to
England and settled in Alnwick, in Northumberland
County. Her father, James Stott, was the driver
of the royal-mail stage between Alnwick and New-
castle, and his accidental death while he was still a
young man left my grandmother and her eight
children almost destitute. She was immediately
given a position in the castle of the Duke of Nor-
thumberland, and her sons were educated in the
duke's school, while her daughters were entered in
the school of the duchess.

My thoughts dwell lovingly on this grandmother,
Nicolas Grant Stott, for she was a remarkable
woman, with a dauntless soul and progressive ideas
far in advance of her time. She was one of the first
Unitarians in England, and years before any thought
of woman suffrage entered the minds of her country-
women she refused to pay tithes to the support of
the Church of England--an action which precipitated
a long-drawn-out conflict between her and the law.
In those days it was customary to assess tithes on
every pane of glass in a window, and a portion of the
money thus collected went to the support of the
Church. Year after year my intrepid grandmother
refused to pay these assessments, and year after
year she sat pensively upon her door-step, watching
articles of her furniture being sold for money to pay
her tithes. It must have been an impressive picture,
and it was one with which the community became
thoroughly familiar, as the determined old lady
never won her fight and never abandoned it. She
had at least the comfort of public sympathy, for she
was by far the most popular woman in the country-
side. Her neighbors admired her courage; perhaps
they appreciated still more what she did for them,
for she spent all her leisure in the homes of the very
poor, mending their clothing and teaching them to
sew. Also, she left behind her a path of cleanliness
as definite as the line of foam that follows a ship;
for it soon became known among her protegees that
Nicolas Stott was as much opposed to dirt as she
was to the payment of tithes.

She kept her children in the schools of the duke and
duchess until they had completed the entire course
open to them. A hundred times, and among many
new scenes and strange people, I have heard my
mother describe her own experiences as a pupil.
All the children of the dependents of the castle were
expected to leave school at fourteen years of age.
During their course they were not allowed to study
geography, because, in the sage opinion of their elders,
knowledge of foreign lands might make them dis-
contented and inclined to wander. Neither was com-
position encouraged--that might lead to the writing
of love-notes! But they were permitted to absorb
all the reading and arithmetic their little brains
could hold, while the art of sewing was not only
encouraged, but proficiency in it was stimulated by
the award of prizes. My mother, being a rather pre-
cocious young person, graduated at thirteen and
carried off the first prize. The garment she made
was a linen chemise for the duchess, and the little
needlewoman had embroidered on it, with her own
hair, the august lady's coat of arms. The offering
must have been appreciated, for my mother's story
always ended with the same words, uttered with the
same air of gentle pride, ``And the duchess gave me
with her own hands my Bible and my mug of beer!''
She never saw anything amusing in this association
of gifts, and I always stood behind her when she told
the incident, that she might not see the disrespectful
mirth it aroused in me.

My father and mother met in Alnwick, and were
married in February, 1835. Ten years after his
marriage father was forced into bankruptcy by the
passage of the corn law, and to meet the obliga-
tions attending his failure he and my mother
sold practically everything they possessed--their
home, even their furniture. Their little sons, who
were away at school, were brought home, and
the family expenses were cut down to the barest
margin; but all these sacrifices paid only part of the
debts. My mother, finding that her early gift had
a market value, took in sewing. Father went to
work on a small salary, and both my parents saved
every penny they could lay aside, with the desperate
determination to pay their remaining debts. It was a
long struggle and a painful one, but they finally won
it. Before they had done so, however, and during their
bleakest days, their baby died, and my mother, like
her mother before her, paid the penalty of being
outside the fold of the Church of England. She,
too, was a Unitarian, and her baby, therefore, could
not be laid in any consecrated burial-ground in her
neighborhood. She had either to bury it in the
Potter's Field, with criminals, suicides, and paupers,
or to take it by stage-coach to Alnwick, twenty
miles away, and leave it in the little Unitarian church-
yard where, after her strenuous life, Nicolas Stott
now lay in peace. She made the dreary journey
alone, with the dear burden across her lap.

In 1846, my parents went to London. There
they did not linger long, for the big, indifferent city
had nothing to offer them. They moved to New-
castle-on-Tyne, and here I was born, on the four-
teenth day of February, in 1847. Three boys and
two girls had preceded me in the family circle, and
when I was two years old my younger sister came.
We were little better off in Newcastle than in
London, and now my father began to dream the
great dream of those days. He would go to America.
Surely, he felt, in that land of infinite promise all
would be well with him and his. He waited for the
final payment of his debts and for my younger
sister's birth. Then he bade us good-by and sailed
away to make an American home for us; and in
the spring of 1851 my mother followed him with her
six children, starting from Liverpool in a sailing-
vessel, the John Jacob Westervelt.

I was then little more than four years old, and the
first vivid memory I have is that of being on ship-
board and having a mighty wave roll over me. I was
lying on what seemed to be an enormous red box
under a hatchway, and the water poured from above,
almost drowning me. This was the beginning of a
storm which raged for days, and I still have of it a
confused memory, a sort of nightmare, in which
strange horrors figure, and which to this day haunts
me at intervals when I am on the sea. The thing
that stands out most strongly during that period is
the white face of my mother, ill in her berth. We
were with five hundred emigrants on the lowest
deck of the ship but one, and as the storm grew
wilder an unreasoning terror filled our fellow-pas-
sengers. Too ill to protect her helpless brood, my
mother saw us carried away from her for hours at a
time, on the crests of waves of panic that sometimes
approached her and sometimes receded, as they
swept through the black hole in which we found our-
selves when the hatches were nailed down. No mad-
house, I am sure, could throw more hideous pictures
on the screen of life than those which met our childish
eyes during the appalling three days of the storm.
Our one comfort was the knowledge that our mother
was not afraid. She was desperately ill, but when
we were able to reach her, to cling close to her for a
blessed interval, she was still the sure refuge she had
always been.

On the second day the masts went down, and on
the third day the disabled ship, which now had
sprung a leak and was rolling helplessly in the
trough of the sea, was rescued by another ship and
towed back to Queenstown, the nearest port. The
passengers, relieved of their anxieties, went from
their extreme of fear to an equal extreme of drunken
celebration. They laughed, sang, and danced, but
when we reached the shore many of them returned
to the homes they had left, declaring that they had
had enough of the ocean. We, however, remained
on the ship until she was repaired, and then sailed
on her again. We were too poor to return home;
indeed, we had no home to which we could return.
We were even too poor to live ashore. But we made
some penny excursions in the little boats that plied
back and forth, and to us children at least the weeks
of waiting were not without interest. Among other
places we visited Spike Island, where the convicts
were, and for hours we watched the dreary shuttle
of labor swing back and forth as the convicts car-
ried pails of water from one side of the island, only
to empty them into the sea at the other side. It
was merely ``busy work,'' to keep them occupied
at hard labor; but even then I must have felt some
dim sense of the irony of it, for I have remembered
it vividly all these years.

Our second voyage on the John Jacob Westervelt
was a very different experience from the first. By
day a glorious sun shone overhead; by night we had
the moon and stars, as well as the racing waves we
never wearied of watching. For some reason, prob-
ably because of my intense admiration for them,
which I showed with unmaidenly frankness, I be-
came the special pet of the sailors. They taught me
to sing their songs as they hauled on their ropes,
and I recall, as if I had learned it yesterday, one
pleasing ditty:
Haul on the bow-line,
Kitty is my darling,
Haul on the bow-line,
The bow-line--HAUL!

When I sang ``haul'' all the sailors pulled their
hardest, and I had an exhilarating sense of sharing
in their labors. As a return for my service of song
the men kept my little apron full of ship sugar--
very black stuff and probably very bad for me; but
I ate an astonishing amount of it during that voy-
age, and, so far as I remember, felt no ill effects.

The next thing I recall is being seriously scalded.
I was at the foot of a ladder up which a sailor was
carrying a great pot of hot coffee. He slipped, and
the boiling liquid poured down on me. I must
have had some bad days after that, for I was ter-
ribly burned, but they are mercifully vague. My
next vivid impression is of seeing land, which we
sighted at sunset, and I remember very distinctly
just how it looked. It has never looked the same
since. The western sky was a mass of crimson and
gold clouds, which took on the shapes of strange and
beautiful things. To me it seemed that we were
entering heaven. I remember also the doctors com-
ing on board to examine us, and I can still see a line
of big Irishmen standing very straight and holding
out their tongues for inspection. To a little girl
only four years old their huge, open mouths looked

On landing a grievous disappointment awaited
us; my father did not meet us. He was in New
Bedford, Massachusetts, nursing his grief and pre-
paring to return to England, for he had been told
that the John Jacob Westervelt had been lost at sea
with every soul on board. One of the missionaries
who met the ship took us under his wing and con-
ducted us to a little hotel, where we remained
until father had received his incredible news and
rushed to New York. He could hardly believe that
we were really restored to him; and even now,
through the mists of more than half a century, I can
still see the expression in his wet eyes as he picked
me up and tossed me into the air.

I can see, too, the toys he brought me--a little
saw and a hatchet, which became the dearest treas-
ures of my childish days. They were fatidical
gifts, that saw and hatchet; in the years ahead of
me I was to use tools as well as my brothers did,
as I proved when I helped to build our frontier

We went to New Bedford with father, who had
found work there at his old trade; and here I laid
the foundations of my first childhood friendship,
not with another child, but with my next-door
neighbor, a ship-builder. Morning after morning
this man swung me on his big shoulder and took me
to his shipyard, where my hatchet and saw had vio-
lent exercise as I imitated the workers around me.
Discovering that my tiny petticoats were in my way,
my new friend had a little boy's suit made for me;
and thus emancipated, at this tender age, I worked
unwearyingly at his side all day long and day after
day. No doubt it was due to him that I did not
casually saw off a few of my toes and fingers. Cer-
tainly I smashed them often enough with blows of
my dull but active hatchet. I was very, very busy;
and I have always maintained that I began to earn
my share of the family's living at the age of five--
for in return for the delights of my society, which
seemed never to pall upon him, my new friend al-
lowed my brothers to carry home from the ship-
yard all the wood my mother could use.

We remained in New Bedford less than a year,
for in the spring of 1852 my father made another
change, taking his family to Lawrence, Massa-
chusetts, where we lived until 1859. The years in
Lawrence were interesting and formative ones. At
the tender age of nine and ten I became interested
in the Abolition movement. We were Unitarians,
and General Oliver and many of the prominent citi-
zens of Lawrence belonged to the Unitarian Church.
We knew Robert Shaw, who led the first negro regi-
ment, and Judge Storrow, one of the leading New
England judges of his time, as well as the Cabots
and George A. Walton, who was the author of
Walton's Arithmetic and head of the Lawrence
schools. Outbursts of war talk thrilled me, and
occasionally I had a little adventure of my own, as
when one day, in visiting our cellar, I heard a noise
in the coal-bin. I investigated and discovered a
negro woman concealed there. I had been reading
Uncle Tom's Cabin, as well as listening to the
conversation of my elders, so I was vastly stirred
over the negro question. I raced up-stairs in a
condition of awe-struck and quivering excitement,
which my mother promptly suppressed by sending
me to bed. No doubt she questioned my youthful
discretion, for she almost convinced me that I had
seen nothing at all--almost, but not quite; and she
wisely kept me close to her for several days, until
the escaped slave my father was hiding was safely
out of the house and away. Discovery of this seri-
ous offense might have borne grave results for him.

It was in Lawrence, too, that I received and spent
my first twenty-five cents. I used an entire day in
doing this, and the occasion was one of the most
delightful and memorable of my life. It was the
Fourth of July, and I was dressed in white and rode
in a procession. My sister Mary, who also graced
the procession, had also been given twenty-five
cents; and during the parade, when, for obvious
reasons, we were unable to break ranks and spend
our wealth, the consciousness of it lay heavily upon
us. When we finally began our shopping the first
place we visited was a candy store, and I recall dis-
tinctly that we forced the weary proprietor to take
down and show us every jar in the place before we
spent one penny. The first banana I ever ate was
purchased that day, and I hesitated over it a long
time. Its cost was five cents, and in view of that
large expenditure, the eating of the fruit, I was
afraid, would be too brief a joy. I bought it, how-
ever, and the experience developed into a tragedy,
for, not knowing enough to peel the banana, I bit
through skin and pulp alike, as if I were eating an
apple, and then burst into ears of disappointment.
The beautiful conduct of my sister Mary shines
down through the years. She, wise child, had
taken no chances with the unknown; but now,
moved by my despair, she bought half of my banana,
and we divided the fruit, the loss, and the lesson.
Fate, moreover, had another turn of the screw for
us, for, after Mary had taken a bite of it, we gave
what was left of the banana to a boy who stood near
us and who knew how to eat it; and not even the
large amount of candy in our sticky hands enabled
us to regard with calmness the subsequent happiness
of that little boy.

Another experience with fruit in Lawrence illus-
trates the ideas of my mother and the character of
the training she gave her children. Our neighbors,
the Cabots, were one day giving a great garden party,
and my sister was helping to pick strawberries for
the occasion. When I was going home from school
I passed the berry-patches and stopped to speak to
my sister, who at once presented me with two straw-
berries. She said Mrs. Cabot had told her to eat
all she wanted, but that she would eat two less than
she wanted and give those two to me. To my
mind, the suggestion was generous and proper; in
my life strawberries were rare. I ate one berry,
and then, overcome by an ambition to be generous
also, took the other berry home to my mother, tell-
ing her how I had got it. To my chagrin, mother
was deeply shocked. She told me that the trans-
action was all wrong, and she made me take back
the berry and explain the matter to Mrs. Cabot.
By the time I reached that generous lady the berry
was the worse for its journey, and so was I. I was
only nine years old and very sensitive. It was clear
to me that I could hardly live through the humilia-
tion of the confession, and it was indeed a bitter
experience the worst, I think, in my young life,
though Mrs. Cabot was both sympathetic and
understanding. She kissed me, and sent a quart
of strawberries to my mother; but for a long time
afterward I could not meet her kind eyes, for I be-
lieved that in her heart she thought me a thief.

My second friendship, and one which had a strong
influence on my after-life, was formed in Lawrence.
I was not more than ten years old when I met this
new friend, but the memory of her in after-years,
and the impression she had made on my susceptible
young mind, led me first into the ministry, next into
medicine, and finally into suffrage-work. Living
next door to us, on Prospect Hill, was a beautiful
and mysterious woman. All we children knew of
her was that she was a vivid and romantic figure,
who seemed to have no friends and of whom our
elders spoke in whispers or not at all. To me she
was a princess in a fairy-tale, for she rode a white
horse and wore a blue velvet riding-habit with a
blue velvet hat and a picturesquely drooping white
plume. I soon learned at what hours she went
forth to ride, and I used to hover around our gate
for the joy of seeing her mount and gallop away.
I realized that there was something unusual about
her house, and I had an idea that the prince was
waiting for her somewhere in the far distance, and
that for the time at least she had escaped the ogre
in the castle she left behind. I was wrong about
the prince, but right about the ogre. It was only
when my unhappy lady left her castle that she was

Very soon she noticed me. Possibly she saw the
adoration in my childish eyes. She began to nod
and smile at me, and then to speak to me, but at
first I was almost afraid to answer her. There were
stories now among the children that the house was
haunted, and that by night a ghost walked there and
in the grounds. I felt an extraordinary interest in
the ghost, and I spent hours peering through our
picket fence, trying to catch a glimpse of it; but I
hesitated to be on terms of neighborly intimacy with
one who dwelt with ghosts.

One day the mysterious lady bent and kissed me.
Then, straightening up, she looked at me queerly
and said: ``Go and tell your mother I did that.''
There was something very compelling in her manner.
I knew at once that I must tell my mother what she
had done, and I ran into our house and did so.
While my mother was considering the problem the
situation presented, for she knew the character of
the house next door, a note was handed in to her--
a very pathetic little note from my mysterious lady,
asking my mother to let me come and see her. Long
afterward mother showed it to me. It ended with
the words: ``She will see no one but me. No harm
shall come to her. Trust me.''

That night my parents talked the matter over and
decided to let me go. Probably they felt that the
slave next door was as much to be pitied as the es-
caped-negro slaves they so often harbored in our
home. I made my visit, which was the first of many,
and a strange friendship began and developed be-
tween the woman of the town and the little girl she
loved. Some of those visits I remember as vividly
as if I had made them yesterday. There was never
the slightest suggestion during any of them of things
I should not see or hear, for while I was with her
my hostess became a child again, and we played
together like children. She had wonderful toys for
me, and pictures and books; but the thing I loved
best of all and played with for hours was a little
stuffed hen which she told me had been her dearest
treasure when she was a child at home. She had
also a stuffed puppy, and she once mentioned that
those two things alone were left of her life as
a little girl. Besides the toys and books and pic-
tures, she gave me ice-cream and cake, and told me
fairy-tales. She had a wonderful understanding of
what a child likes. There were half a dozen women
in the house with her, but I saw none of them nor
any of the men who came.

Once, when we had become very good friends
indeed and my early shyness had departed, I
found courage to ask her where the ghost was--
the ghost that haunted her house. I can still see
the look in her eyes as they met mine. She told
me the ghost lived in her heart, and that she did
not like to talk about it, and that we must not
speak of it again. After that I never mentioned it,
but I was more deeply interested than ever, for a
ghost that lived in a heart was a new kind of ghost
to me at that time, though I have met many of
them since then. During all our intercourse my
mother never entered the house next door, nor did
my mysterious lady enter our home; but she con-
stantly sent my mother secret gifts for the poor and
the sick of the neighborhood, and she was always
the first to offer help for those who were in trouble.
Many years afterward mother told me she was the
most generous woman she had ever known, and
that she had a rarely beautiful nature. Our depart-
ure for Michigan broke up the friendship, but I have
never forgotten her; and whenever, in my later
work as minister, physician, and suffragist, I have
been able to help women of the class to which she
belonged, I have mentally offered that help for credit
in the tragic ledger of her life, in which the clean and
the blotted pages were so strange a contrast.

One more incident of Lawrence I must describe
before I leave that city behind me, as we left it for
ever in 1859. While we were still there a number of
Lawrence men decided to go West, and amid great
public excitement they departed in a body for Kansas,
where they founded the town of Lawrence in that
state. I recall distinctly the public interest which
attended their going, and the feeling every one
seemed to have that they were passing forever out
of the civilized world. Their farewells to their
friends were eternal; no one expected to see them
again, and my small brain grew dizzy as I tried to
imagine a place so remote as their destination. It
was, I finally decided, at the uttermost ends of the
earth, and it seemed quite possible that the brave
adventurers who reached it might then drop off into
space. Fifty years later I was talking to a Cali-
fornia girl who complained lightly of the monotony
of a climate where the sun shone and the flowers
bloomed all the year around. ``But I had a de-
lightful change last year,'' she added, with anima-
tion. ``I went East for the winter.''

``To New York?'' I asked.

``No,'' corrected the California girl, easily, ``to
Lawrence, Kansas.''

Nothing, I think, has ever made me feel quite so
old as that remark. That in my life, not yet, to me
at least, a long one, I should see such an arc de-
scribed seemed actually oppressive until I realized
that, after all, the arc was merely a rainbow of time
showing how gloriously realized were the hopes of
the Lawrence pioneers.

The move to Michigan meant a complete up-
heaval in our lives. In Lawrence we had around us
the fine flower of New England civilization. We
children went to school; our parents, though they
were in very humble circumstances, were associated
with the leading spirits and the big movements of
the day. When we went to Michigan we went to
the wilderness, to the wild pioneer life of those times,
and we were all old enough to keenly feel the change.

My father was one of a number of Englishmen who
took up tracts in the northern forests of Michigan,
with the old dream of establishing a colony there.
None of these men had the least practical knowledge
of farming. They were city men or followers of
trades which had no connection with farm life.
They went straight into the thick timber-land, in-
stead of going to the rich and waiting prairies, and
they crowned this initial mistake by cutting down
the splendid timber instead of letting it stand.
Thus bird's-eye maple and other beautiful woods
were used as fire-wood and in the construction of
rude cabins, and the greatest asset of the pioneers
was ignored.

Father preceded us to the Michigan woods, and
there, with his oldest son, James, took up a claim.
They cleared a space in the wilderness just large
enough for a log cabin, and put up the bare walls
of the cabin itself. Then father returned to Law-
rence and his work, leaving James behind. A few
months later (this was in 1859), my mother, my two
sisters, Eleanor and Mary, my youngest brother,
Henry, eight years of age, and I, then twelve, went
to Michigan to work on and hold down the claim
while father, for eighteen months longer, stayed on
in Lawrence, sending us such remittances as he could.
His second and third sons, John and Thomas, re-
mained in the East with him.

Every detail of our journey through the wilder-
ness is clear in my mind. At that time the railroad
terminated at Grand Rapids, Michigan, and we
covered the remaining distance--about one hundred
miles--by wagon, riding through a dense and often
trackless forest. My brother James met us at
Grand Rapids with what, in those days, was called
a lumber-wagon, but which had a horrible resem-
blance to a vehicle from the health department.
My sisters and I gave it one cold look and turned
from it; we were so pained by its appearance that
we refused to ride in it through the town. Instead,
we started off on foot, trying to look as if we had no
association with it, and we climbed into the un-
wieldy vehicle only when the city streets were far
behind us. Every available inch of space in the
wagon was filled with bedding and provisions. As
yet we had no furniture; we were to make that for
ourselves when we reached our cabin; and there
was so little room for us to ride that we children
walked by turns, while James, from the beginning
of the journey to its end, seven days later, led our
weary horses.

To my mother, who was never strong, the whole
experience must have been a nightmare of suffering
and stoical endurance. For us children there were
compensations. The expedition took on the char-
acter of a high adventure, in which we sometimes
had shelter and sometimes failed to find it, some-
times were fed, but often went hungry. We forded
innumerable streams, the wheels of the heavy wagon
sinking so deeply into the stream-beds that we often
had to empty our load before we could get them out
again. Fallen trees lay across our paths, rivers
caused long detours, while again and again we lost
our way or were turned aside by impenetrable forest

Our first day's journey covered less than eight
miles, and that night we stopped at a farm-house
which was the last bit of civilization we saw. Early
the next morning we were off again, making the slow
progress due to the rough roads and our heavy load.
At night we stopped at a place called Thomas's
Inn, only to be told by the woman who kept it that
there was nothing in the house to eat. Her hus-
band, she said, had gone ``outside'' (to Grand
Rapids) to get some flour, and had not returned--
but she added that we could spend the night, if
we chose, and enjoy shelter, if not food. We had
provisions in our wagon, so we wearily entered, after
my brother had got out some of our pork and
opened a barrel of flour. With this help the woman
made some biscuits, which were so green that my
poor mother could not eat them. She had admitted
to us that the one thing she had in the house was
saleratus, and she had used this ingredient with an
unsparing hand. When the meal was eaten she
broke the further news that there were no beds.

``The old woman can sleep with me,'' she sug-
gested, ``and the girls can sleep on the floor. The
boys will have to go to the barn.''
She and her bed were not especially attractive,
and mother decided to lie on the floor with us. We
had taken our bedding from the wagon, and we slept
very well; but though she was usually superior to
small annoyances, I think my mother resented being
called an ``old woman.'' She must have felt like
one that night, but she was only about forty-eight
years of age.

At dawn the next morning we resumed our jour-
ney, and every day after that we were able to cover
the distance demanded by the schedule arranged
before we started. This meant that some sort of
shelter usually awaited us at night. But one day
we knew there would be no houses between the place
we left in the morning and that where we were to
sleep. The distance was about twenty miles, and
when twilight fell we had not made it. In the back
of the wagon my mother had a box of little pigs,
and during the afternoon these had broken loose and
escaped into the woods. We had lost much time in
finding them, and we were so exhausted that when
we came to a hut made of twigs and boughs we de-
cided to camp in it for the night, though we knew
nothing about it. My brother had unharnessed
the horses, and my mother and sister were cooking
dough-god--a mixture of flour, water, and soda,
fried in a pan-when two men rode up on horse-
back and called my brother to one side. Immedi-
ately after the talk which followed James harnessed
his horses again and forced us to go on, though by
that time darkness had fallen. He told mother, but
did not tell us children until long afterward, that a
man had been murdered in the hut only the night
before. The murderer was still at large in the woods,
and the new-comers were members of a posse who
were searching for him. My brother needed no
urging to put as many miles as he could between
us and the sinister spot.

In that fashion we made our way to our new home.
The last day, like the first, we traveled only eight
miles, but we spent the night in a house I shall never
forget. It was beautifully clean, and for our eve-
ning meal its mistress brought out loaves of bread
which were the largest we had ever seen. She cut
great slices of this bread for us and spread maple
sugar on them, and it seemed to us that never be-
fore had anything tasted so good.

The next morning we made the last stage of our
journey, our hearts filled with the joy of nearing
our new home. We all had an idea that we were
going to a farm, and we expected some resemblance
at least to the prosperous farms we had seen in New
England. My mother's mental picture was, natu-
rally, of an English farm. Possibly she had visions
of red barns and deep meadows, sunny skies and
daisies. What we found awaiting us were the four
walls and the roof of a good-sized log-house, stand-
ing in a small cleared strip of the wilderness, its doors
and windows represented by square holes, its floor
also a thing of the future, its whole effect achingly
forlorn and desolate. It was late in the afternoon
when we drove up to the opening that was its front
entrance, and I shall never forget the look my
mother turned upon the place. Without a word
she crossed its threshold, and, standing very still,
looked slowly around her. Then something within
her seemed to give way, and she sank upon the
ground. She could not realize even then, I think,
that this was really the place father had prepared
for us, that here he expected us to live. When she
finally took it in she buried her face in her hands,
and in that way she sat for hours without moving or
speaking. For the first time in her life she had for-
gotten us; and we, for our part, dared not speak to
her. We stood around her in a frightened group,
talking to one another in whispers. Our little world
had crumbled under our feet. Never before had
we seen our mother give way to despair.

Night began to fall. The woods became alive
with night creatures, and the most harmless made
the most noise. The owls began to hoot, and soon
we heard the wildcat, whose cry--a screech like
that of a lost and panic-stricken child--is one of
the most appalling sounds of the forest. Later the
wolves added their howls to the uproar, but though
darkness came and we children whimpered around
her, our mother still sat in her strange lethargy.

At last my brother brought the horses close to the
cabin and built fires to protect them and us. He
was only twenty, but he showed himself a man dur-
ing those early pioneer days. While he was picketing
the horses and building his protecting fires my
mother came to herself, but her face when she
raised it was worse than her silence had been. She
seemed to have died and to have returned to us
from the grave, and I am sure she felt that she had
done so. From that moment she took up again the
burden of her life, a burden she did not lay down
until she passed away; but her face never lost the
deep lines those first hours of her pioneer life had
cut upon it.

That night we slept on boughs spread on the earth
inside the cabin walls, and we put blankets before
the holes which represented our doors and windows,
and kept our watch-fires burning. Soon the other
children fell asleep, but there was no sleep for me.
I was only twelve years old, but my mind was full of
fancies. Behind our blankets, swaying in the night
wind, I thought I saw the heads and pushing shoul-
ders of animals and heard their padded footfalls.
Later years brought familiarity with wild things,
and with worse things than they. But to-night that
which I most feared was within, not outside of, the
cabin. In some way which I did not understand
the one sure refuge in our new world had been taken
from us. I hardly knew the silent woman who lay
near me, tossing from side to side and staring into
the darkness; I felt that we had lost our mother.



Like most men, my dear father should never
have married. Though his nature was one of
the sweetest I have ever known, and though he would
at any call give his time to or risk his life for others,
in practical matters he remained to the end of his
days as irresponsible as a child. If his mind turned
to practical details at all, it was solely in their bear-
ing toward great developments of the future. To
him an acorn was not an acorn, but a forest of young

Thus, when he took up his claim of three hundred
and sixty acres of land in the wilderness of northern
Michigan, and sent my mother and five young chil-
dren to live there alone until he could join us eighteen
months later, he gave no thought to the manner in
which we were to make the struggle and survive
the hardships before us. He had furnished us with
land and the four walls of a log cabin. Some day,
he reasoned, the place would be a fine estate, which
his sons would inherit and in the course of time pass
on to their sons--always an Englishman's most iri-
descent dream. That for the present we were one
hundred miles from a railroad, forty miles from the
nearest post-office, and half a dozen miles from any
neighbors save Indians, wolves, and wildcats; that
we were wholly unlearned in the ways of the woods
as well as in the most primitive methods of farming;
that we lacked not only every comfort, but even
the bare necessities of life; and that we must begin,
single-handed and untaught, a struggle for existence
in which some of the severest forces of nature would
be arrayed against us--these facts had no weight
in my father's mind. Even if he had witnessed my
mother's despair on the night of our arrival in our
new home, he would not have understood it. From
his viewpoint, he was doing a man's duty. He was
working steadily in Lawrence, and, incidentally,
giving much time to the Abolition cause and to
other big public movements of his day which had
his interest and sympathy. He wrote to us regu-
larly and sent us occasional remittances, as well as
a generous supply of improving literature for our
minds. It remained for us to strengthen our bodies,
to meet the conditions in which he had placed us,
and to survive if we could.

We faced our situation with clear and unalarmed
eyes the morning after our arrival. The problem
of food, we knew, was at least temporarily solved.
We had brought with us enough coffee, pork, and
flour to last for several weeks; and the one necessity
father had put inside the cabin walls was a great
fireplace, made of mud and stones, in which our food
could be cooked. The problem of our water-supply
was less simple, but my brother James solved it for
the time by showing us a creek a long distance from
the house; and for months we carried from this
creek, in pails, every drop of water we used, save
that which we caught in troughs when the rain fell.

We held a family council after breakfast, and in this,
though I was only twelve, I took an eager and determined
part. I loved work--it has always been my favorite form
of recreation--and my spirit rose to the opportunities of it
which smiled on us from every side. Obviously the first
thing to do was to put doors and windows into the
yawning holes father had left for them, and to lay a board
flooring over the earth inside our cabin walls, and these
duties we accomplished before we had occupied our new
home a fortnight. There was a small saw-mill nine miles
from our cabin, on the spot that is now Big Rapids, and
there we bought our lumber. The labor we supplied
ourselves, and though we put our hearts into it and the
results at the time seemed beautiful to our partial eyes, I
am forced to admit, in looking back upon them, that they
halted this side of perfection. We began by making three
windows and two doors; then, inspired by these
achievements, we ambitiously constructed an attic and
divided the ground floor with partitions, which gave us
four rooms.

The general effect was temperamental and sketchy.
The boards which formed the floor were never even
nailed down; they were fine, wide planks without a knot in
them, and they looked so well that we merely fitted them
together as closely as we could and lightheartedly let them
go at that. Neither did we properly chink the house.
Nothing is more comfortable than a log cabin which has
been carefully built
and finished; but for some reason--probably because
there seemed always a more urgent duty calling to us
around the corner--we never plastered our house at all.
The result was that on many future winter mornings we
awoke to find ourselves chastely blanketed by snow, while
the only warm spot in our living-room was that directly in
front of the fireplace, where great logs burned all day.
Even there our faces scorched while our spines slowly
congealed, until we learned to revolve before the fire like a
bird upon a spit. No doubt we would have worked more
thoroughly if my brother James, who was twenty years
old and our tower of strength, had remained with us; but
when we had been in our new home only a few months he
fell and was forced to go East for an operation. He was
never able to return to us, and thus my mother, we three
young girls, and my youngest brother--Harry, who was
only eight years old--made our fight alone until father
came to us, more than a year later.

Mother was practically an invalid. She had a nervous
affection which made it impossible for her to stand
without the support of a chair. But she sewed with
unusual skill, and it was due to her that our clothes,
notwithstanding the strain to which we subjected them,
were always in good condition. She sewed for hours every
day, and she was able to move about the house, after a
fashion, by pushing herself around on a stool which James
made for her as soon as we arrived. He also built for her a
more comfortable chair with a high back.

The division of labor planned at the first council
was that mother should do our sewing, and my older
sisters, Eleanor and Mary, the housework, which
was far from taxing, for of course we lived in the
simplest manner. My brothers and I were to do
the work out of doors, an arrangement that suited
me very well, though at first, owing to our lack of
experience, our activities were somewhat curtailed.
It was too late in the season for plowing or planting,
even if we had possessed anything with which to
plow, and, moreover, our so-called ``cleared'' land
was thick with sturdy tree-stumps. Even during
the second summer plowing was impossible; we
could only plant potatoes and corn, and follow the
most primitive method in doing even this. We took
an ax, chopped up the sod, put the seed under it,
and let the seed grow. The seed did grow, too--in
the most gratifying and encouraging manner. Our
green corn and potatoes were the best I have ever
eaten. But for the present we lacked these luxuries.

We had, however, in their place, large quantities
of wild fruit--gooseberries, raspberries, and plums
--which Harry and I gathered on the banks of our
creek. Harry also became an expert fisherman.
We had no hooks or lines, but he took wires from
our hoop-skirts and made snares at the ends of
poles. My part of this work was to stand on a log
and frighten the fish out of their holes by making
horrible sounds, which I did with impassioned
earnestness. When the fish hurried to the surface
of the water to investigate the appalling noises
they had heard, they were easily snared by our
small boy, who was very proud of his ability to
contribute in this way to the family table.

During our first winter we lived largely on corn-
meal, making a little journey of twenty miles to the
nearest mill to buy it; but even at that we were
better off than our neighbors, for I remember one
family in our region who for an entire winter lived
solely on coarse-grained yellow turnips, gratefully
changing their diet to leeks when these came in the

Such furniture as we had we made ourselves. In
addition to my mother's two chairs and the bunks
which took the place of beds, James made a settle
for the living-room, as well as a table and several
stools. At first we had our tree-cutting done for
us, but we soon became expert in this gentle art,
and I developed such skill that in later years, after
father came, I used to stand with him and ``heart''
a log.

On every side, and at every hour of the day, we
came up against the relentless limitations of pioneer
life. There was not a team of horses in our entire
region. The team with which my brother had
driven us through the wilderness had been hired
at Grand Rapids for that occasion, and, of course,
immediately returned. Our lumber was delivered
by ox-teams, and the absolutely essential purchases
we made ``outside'' (at the nearest shops, forty
miles away) were carried through the forest on the
backs of men. Our mail was delivered once a
month by a carrier who made the journey in alter-
nate stages of horseback riding and canoeing. But
we had health, youth, enthusiasm, good appetites,
and the wherewithal to satisfy them, and at night
in our primitive bunks we sank into abysses of dream-
less slumber such as I have never known since.
Indeed, looking back upon them, those first months
seem to have been a long-drawn-out and glorious
picnic, interrupted only by occasional hours of pain
or panic, when we were hurt or frightened.

Naturally, our two greatest menaces were wild
animals and Indians, but as the days passed the first
of these lost the early terrors with which we had
associated them. We grew indifferent to the sounds
that had made our first night a horror to us all--
there was even a certain homeliness in them--while
we regarded with accustomed, almost blase eyes the
various furred creatures of which we caught distant
glimpses as they slunk through the forest. Their
experience with other settlers had taught them cau-
tion; it soon became clear that they were as eager
to avoid us as we were to shun them, and by common
consent we gave each other ample elbow-room.
But the Indians were all around us, and every settler
had a collection of hair-raising tales to tell of them.
It was generally agreed that they were dangerous
only when they were drunk; but as they were drunk
whenever they could get whisky, and as whisky was
constantly given them in exchange for pelts and
game, there was a harrowing doubt in our minds
whenever they approached us.

In my first encounter with them I was alone in
the woods at sunset with my small brother Harry.
We were hunting a cow James had bought, and our
young eyes were peering eagerly among the trees,
on the alert for any moving object. Suddenly, at
a little distance, and coming directly toward us, we
saw a party of Indians. There were five of them,
all men, walking in single file, as noiselessly as ghosts,
their moccasined feet causing not even a rustle
among the dry leaves that carpeted the woods. All
the horrible stories we had heard of Indian cruelty
flashed into our minds, and for a moment we were
dumb with terror. Then I remembered having been
told that the one thing one must not do before them
is to show fear. Harry was carrying a rope with
which we had expected to lead home our reluctant
cow, and I seized one end of it and whispered
to him that we would ``play horse,'' pretending he
was driving me. We pranced toward the Indians
on feet that felt like lead, and with eyes so glazed by
terror that we could see nothing save a line of moving
figures; but as we passed them they did not give
to our little impersonation of care-free children even
the tribute of a side-glance. They were, we realized,
headed straight for our home; and after a few mo-
ments we doubled on our tracks and, keeping at a
safe distance from them among the trees, ran back
to warn our mother that they were coming.

As it happened, James was away, and mother had
to meet her unwelcome guests supported only by
her young children. She at once prepared a meal,
however, and when they arrived she welcomed them
calmly and gave them the best she had. After they
had eaten they began to point at and demand ob-
jects they fancied in the room--my brother's pipe,
some tobacco, a bowl, and such trifles--and my
mother, who was afraid to annoy them by refusal,
gave them what they asked. They were quite
sober, and though they left without expressing any
appreciation of her hospitality, they made her a
second visit a few months later, bringing a large
quantity of venison and a bag of cranberries as a
graceful return. These Indians were Ottawas; and
later we became very friendly with them and their
tribe, even to the degree of attending one of their
dances, which I shall describe later.

Our second encounter with Indians was a less
agreeable experience. There were seven ``Mar-
quette warriors'' in the next group of callers, and
they were all intoxicated. Moreover, they had
brought with them several jugs of bad whisky--
the raw and craze-provoking product supplied them
by the fur-dealers--and it was clear that our cabin
was to be the scene of an orgy. Fortunately, my
brother James was at home on this occasion, and
as the evening grew old and the Indians, grouped
together around the fire, became more and more ir-
responsible, he devised a plan for our safety. Our
attic was finished, and its sole entrance was by a
ladder through a trap-door. At James's whispered
command my sister Eleanor slipped up into the
attic, and from the back window let down a rope,
to which he tied all the weapons we had--his gun
and several axes. These Eleanor drew up and con-
cealed in one of the bunks. My brother then di-
rected that as quietly as possible, and at long in-
tervals, one member of the family after another was
to slip up the ladder and into the attic, going quite
casually, that the Indians might not realize what we
were doing. Once there, with the ladder drawn up
after us and the trap-door closed, we would be rea-
sonably safe, unless our guests decided to burn the

The evening seemed endless, and was certainly
nerve-racking. The Indians ate everything in the
house, and from my seat in a dim corner I watched
them while my sisters waited on them. I can still
see the tableau they made in the firelit room and
hear the unfamiliar accents of their speech as they
talked together. Occasionally one of them would
pull a hair from his head, seize his scalping-knife;
and cut the hair with it--a most unpleasant sight!
When either of my sisters approached them some
of the Indians would make gestures, as if capturing
and scalping her. Through it all, however, the
whisky held their close attention, and it was due to
this that we succeeded in reaching the attic unob-
served, James coming last of all and drawing the
ladder after him. Mother and the children were
then put to bed; but through that interminable
night James and Eleanor lay flat upon the floor,
watching through the cracks between the boards
the revels of the drunken Indians, which grew wild-
er with every hour that crawled toward sunrise.
There was no knowing when they would miss us
or how soon their mood might change. At any
moment they might make an attack upon us or
set fire to the cabin. By dawn, however, their
whisky was all gone, and they were in so deep a
stupor that, one after the other, the seven fell from
their chairs to the floor, where they sprawled un-
conscious. When they awoke they left quietly and
without trouble of any kind. They seemed a
strangely subdued and chastened band; probably
they were wretchedly ill after their debauch on the
adulterated whisky the traders had given them.

That autumn the Ottawa tribe had a great corn
celebration, to which we and the other settlers were
invited. James and my older sisters attended it,
and I went with them, by my own urgent invita-
tion. It seemed to me that as I was sharing the
work and the perils of our new environment, I
might as well share its joys; and I finally succeeded
in making my family see the logic of this position.
The central feature of the festivity was a huge kettle,
many feet in circumference, into which the Indians
dropped the most extraordinary variety of food we
had ever seen combined. Deer heads went into it
whole, as well as every kind of meat and vegetable
the members of the tribe could procure. We all ate
some of this agreeable mixture, and later, with one
another, and even with the Indians, we danced gaily
to the music of a tom-tom and a drum. The affair
was extremely interesting until the whisky entered
and did its unpleasant work. When our hosts be-
gan to fall over in the dance and slumber where they
lay, and when the squaws began to show the same
ill effects of their refreshments, we unostentatiously
slipped away.

During the winter life offered us few diversions
and many hardships. Our creek froze over, and the
water problem became a serious one, which we met
with increasing difficulty as the temperature steadily
fell. We melted snow and ice, and existed through
the frozen months, but with an amount of discom-
fort which made us unwilling to repeat at least that
special phase of our experience. In the spring,
therefore, I made a well. Long before this, James
had gone, and Harry and I were now the only out-
door members of our working-force. Harry was
still too small to help with the well; but a young
man, who had formed the neighborly habit of rid-
ing eighteen miles to call on us, gave me much
friendly aid. We located the well with a switch,
and when we had dug as far as we could reach with
our spades, my assistant descended into the hole
and threw the earth up to the edge, from which I
in turn removed it. As the well grew deeper we
made a half-way shelf, on which I stood, he throw-
ing the earth on the shelf, and I shoveling it up from
that point. Later, as he descended still farther
into the hole we were making, he shoveled the earth
into buckets and passed them up to me, I passing
them on to my sister, who was now pressed into
service. When the excavation was deep enough
we made the wall of slabs of wood, roughly joined
together. I recall that well with calm content. It was not a
thing of beauty, but it was a thoroughly practical well, and
it remained the only one we had during the twelve years
the family occupied the cabin.

During our first year there was no school within ten
miles of us, but this lack failed to sadden Harry or me. We
had brought with us from Lawrence a box of books, in
which, in winter months, when our outdoor work was
restricted, we found much comfort. They were the only
books in that part of the country, and we read them until
we knew them all by heart. Moreover, father sent us
regularly the New York Independent, and with this
admirable literature, after reading it, we papered our walls.
Thus, on stormy days, we could lie on the settle or the
floor and read the Independent over again with increased
interest and pleasure.

Occasionally father sent us the Ledger, but here
mother drew a definite line. She had a special dis-
like for that periodical, and her severest comment
on any woman was that she was the type who would
``keep a dog, make saleratus biscuit, and read the
New York Ledger in the daytime.'' Our modest
library also contained several histories of Greece
and Rome, which must have been good ones, for
years later, when I entered college, I passed my
examination in ancient history with no other prep-
aration than this reading. There were also a few
arithmetics and algebras, a historical novel or two,
and the inevitable copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin, whose
pages I had freely moistened with my tears.

When the advantages of public education were finally
extended to me, at thirteen, by the opening of a school
three miles from our home, I accepted them with growing
reluctance. The teacher was a spinster forty-four years of
age and the only genuine ``old maid'' I have ever met who
was not a married woman or a man. She was the real
thing, and her name, Prudence Duncan, seemed the fitting
label for her rigidly uncompromising personality. I graced
Prudence's school for three months, and then left it at her
fervid request. I had walked six miles a day through
trackless woods and Western blizzards to get what she
could give me, but she had little to offer my awakened and
critical mind. My reading and my Lawrence school-work
had already taught me more than Prudence knew--a fact
we both inwardry--admitted and fiercely resented from
our different viewpoints. Beyond doubt I was a pert and
trying young person. I lost no opportunity to lead Prudence
beyond her intellectual depth and leave her there, and
Prudence vented her chagrin not alone upon me, but upon
my little brother. I became a thorn in her side, and one
day, after an especially unpleasant episode in which Harry
also figured, she plucked me out, as it were, and cast me
for ever from her. From that time I studied at home, where
I was a much more valuable economic factor than I had
been in school.

The second spring after our arrival Harry and I
extended our operations by tapping the sugar-
bushes, collecting all the sap, and carrying it home
in pails slung from our yoke-laden shoulders. To-
gether we made one hundred and fifty pounds of
sugar and a barrel of syrup, but here again, as al-
ways, we worked in primitive ways. To get the sap
we chopped a gash in the tree and drove in a spile.
Then we dug out a trough to catch the sap. It was
no light task to lift these troughs full of sap and
empty the sap into buckets, but we did it success-
fully, and afterward built fires and boiled it down.
By this time we had also cleared some of our ground,
and during the spring we were able to plow, dividing
the work in a way that seemed fair to us both.
These were strenuous occupations for a boy of nine
and a girl of thirteen, but, though we were not in-
ordinately good children, we never complained; we
found them very satisfactory substitutes for more
normal bucolic joys. Inevitably, we had our little
tragedies. Our cow died, and for an entire winter
we went without milk. Our coffee soon gave out,
and as a substitute we made and used a mixture of
browned peas and burnt rye. In the winter we
were always cold, and the water problem, until we
had built our well, was ever with us.

Father joined us at the end of eighteen months,
but though his presence gave us pleasure and moral
support, he was not an addition to our executive
staff. He brought with him a rocking-chair for
mother and a new supply of books, on which I fell
as a starving man falls upon food. Father read as
eagerly as I, but much more steadily. His mind
was always busy with problems, and if, while he
was laboring in the field, a new problem presented
itself to him, the imperishable curiosity that was
in him made him scurry at once to the house to
solve it. I have known him to spend a planting
season in figuring on the production of a certain
number of kernels of corn, instead of planting the
corn and raising it. In the winter he was supposed
to spend his time clearing land for orchards and
the like, but instead he pored over his books and
problems day after day and often half the night as
well. It soon became known among our neigh-
bors, who were rapidly increasing in number, that
we had books and that father like to read aloud,
and men walked ten miles or more to spend the night
with us and listen to his reading. Often, as his
fame grew, ten or twelve men would arrive at our
cabin on Saturday and remain over Sunday. When
my mother once tried to check this influx of guests
by mildly pointing out, among other things, the
waste of candles represented by frequent all-night
readings, every man humbly appeared again on the
following Saturday with a candle in each hand.
They were not sensitive; and, as they had brought
their candles, it seemed fitting to them and to father
that we girls should cook for them and supply them
with food.

Father's tolerance of idleness in others, however,
did not extend to tolerance of idleness in us, and
this led to my first rebellion, which occurred when
I was fourteen. For once, I had been in the woods
all day, buried in my books; and when I returned
at night, still in the dream world these books had
opened to me, father was awaiting my coming with
a brow dark with disapproval. As it happened,
mother had felt that day some special need of me,
and father reproached me bitterly for being beyond
reach--an idler who wasted time while mother
labored. He ended a long arraignment by predicting
gloomily that with such tendencies I would make
nothing of my life.

The injustice of the criticism cut deep; I knew
I had done and was doing my share for the family,
and already, too, I had begun to feel the call of my
career. For some reason I wanted to preach--to
talk to people, to tell them things. Just why, just
what, I did not yet know--but I had begun to
preach in the silent woods, to stand up on stumps
and address the unresponsive trees, to feel the stir
of aspiration within me.

When my father had finished all he wished to
say, I looked at him and answered, quietly, ``Father,
some day I am going to college.''

I can still see his slight, ironical smile. It drove
me to a second prediction. I was young enough to
measure success by material results, so I added,

``And before I die I shall be worth ten thousand

The amount staggered me even as it dropped from
my lips. It was the largest fortune my imagination
could conceive, and in my heart I believed that no
woman ever had possessed or would possess so
much. So far as I knew, too, no woman had gone
to college. But now that I had put my secret hopes
into words, I was desperately determined to make
those hopes come true. After I became a wage-
earner I lost my desire to make a fortune, but the
college dream grew with the years; and though my
college career seemed as remote as the most distant
star, I hitched my little wagon to that star and never
afterward wholly lost sight of its friendly gleam.

When I was fifteen years old I was offered a situa-
tion as school-teacher. By this time the com-
munity was growing around us with the rapidity
characteristic of these Western settlements, and we
had nearer neighbors whose children needed instruc-
tion. I passed an examination before a school-
board consisting of three nervous and self-conscious
men whose certificate I still hold, and I at once
began my professional career on the modest salary
of two dollars a week and my board. The school
was four miles from my home, so I ``boarded round''
with the families of my pupils, staying two weeks
in each place, and often walking from three to six
miles a day to and from my little log school-house
in every kind of weather. During the first year I
had about fourteen pupils, of varying ages, sizes,
and temperaments, and there was hardly a book in
the school-room except those I owned. One little
girl, I remember, read from an almanac, while a
second used a hymn-book.

In winter the school-house was heated by a wood-
stove, to which the teacher had to give close personal
attention. I could not depend on my pupils to
make the fires or carry in the fuel; and it was often
necessary to fetch the wood myself, sometimes for
long distances through the forest. Again and again,
after miles of walking through winter storms, I
reached the school-house with my clothing wet
through, and in these soaked garments I taught
during the day. In ``boarding round'' I often found
myself in one-room cabins, with bunks at the end
and the sole partition a sheet or a blanket, behind
which I slept with one or two of the children. It
was the custom on these occasions for the man of
the house to delicately retire to the barn while we
women got to bed, and to disappear again in the
morning while we dressed. In some places the
meals were so badly cooked that I could not eat
them, and often the only food my poor little pupils
brought to school for their noonday meal was a
piece of bread or a bit of raw pork.

I earned my two dollars a week that year, but I
had to wait for my wages until the dog tax was col-
lected in the spring. When the money was thus
raised, and the twenty-six dollars for my thirteen
weeks of teaching were graciously put into my
hands, I went ``outside'' to the nearest shop and
joyously spent almost the entire amount for my
first ``party dress.'' The gown I bought was, I con-
sidered, a beautiful creation. In color it was a rich
magenta, and the skirt was elaborately braided with
black cable-cord. My admiration for it was justi-
fied, for it did all a young girl's eager heart could
ask of any gown--it led to my first proposal.

The youth who sought my hand was about twenty
years old, and by an unhappy chance he was also
the least attractive young person in the country-
side--the laughing-stock of the neighbors, the butt
of his associates. The night he came to offer me
his heart there were already two young men at our
home calling on my sisters, and we were all sitting
around the fire in the living-room when my suitor
appeared. His costume, like himself, left much to
be desired. He wore a blue flannel shirt and a pair
of trousers made of flour-bags. Such trousers were
not uncommon in our region, and the boy's mother,
who had made them for him, had thoughtfully
selected a nice clean pair of sacks. But on one leg
was the name of the firm that made the flour--A. and
G. W. Green--and by a charming coincidence A.
and G. W. Green happened to be the two young
men who were calling on my sisters! On the back
of the bags, directly in the rear of the wearer, was
the simple legend, ``96 pounds''; and the striking
effect of the young man's costume was completed
by a bright yellow sash which held his trousers in

The vision fascinated my sisters and their two
guests. They gave it their entire attention, and
when the new-comer signified with an eloquent ges-
ture that he was calling on me, and beckoned me
into an inner room, the quartet arose as one person
and followed us to the door. Then, as we inhospit-
ably closed the door, they fastened their eyes to
the cracks in the living-room wall, that they might
miss none of the entertainment. When we were
alone my guest and I sat down in facing chairs and
in depressed silence. The young man was nervous,
and I was both frightened and annoyed. I had
heard suppressed giggles on the other side of the
wall, and I realized, as my self-centered visitor failed
to do, that we were not enjoying the privacy the
situation seemed to demand. At last the youth in-
formed me that his ``dad'' had just given him a
cabin, a yoke of steers, a cow, and some hens. When
this announcement had produced its full effect, he
straightened up in his chair and asked, solemnly,
``Will ye have me?''

An outburst of chortles from the other side of the
wall greeted the proposal, but the ardent youth
ignored it, if indeed he heard it. With eyes staring
straight ahead, he sat rigid, waiting for my answer;
and I, anxious only to get rid of him and to end
the strain of the moment, said the first thing that
came into my head. ``I can't,'' I told him. ``I'm
sorry, but--but--I'm engaged.''

He rose quickly, with the effect of a half-closed
jack-knife that is suddenly opened, and for an in-
stant stood looking down upon me. He was six feet
two inches tall, and extremely thin. I am very short,
and, as I looked up, his flour-bag trousers seemed to
join his yellow sash somewhere near the ceiling of
the room. He put both hands into his pockets and
slowly delivered his valedictory. ``That's darned dis-
appointing to a fellow,'' he said, and left the house.
After a moment devoted to regaining my maidenly
composure I returned to the living-room, where I
had the privilege of observing the enjoyment of my
sisters and their visitors. Helpless with mirth and
with tears of pleasure on their cheeks, the four rocked
and shrieked as they recalled the picture my gallant
had presented. For some time after that incident
I felt a strong distaste for sentiment.

Clad royally in the new gown, I attended my first
ball in November, going with a party of eight that
included my two sisters, another girl, and four young
men. The ball was at Big Rapids, which by this
time had grown to be a thriving lumber town. It
was impossible to get a team of horses or even a
yoke of oxen for the journey, so we made a raft and
went down the river on that, taking our party dresses
with us in trunks. Unfortunately, the raft ``hung
up'' in the stream, and the four young men had
to get out into the icy water and work a long time
before they could detach it from the rocks. Natu-
rally, they were soaked and chilled through, but they
all bore the experience with a gay philosophy.

When we reached Big Rapids we dressed for the
ball, and, as in those days it was customary to
change one's gown again at midnight, I had an op-
portunity to burst on the assemblage in two cos-
tumes--the second made of bedroom chintz, with
a low neck and short sleeves. We danced the
``money musk,'' and the ``Virginia reel,'' ``hoeing
her down'' (which means changing partners) in
true pioneer style. I never missed a dance at this
or any subsequent affair, and I was considered the
gayest and the most tireless young person at our
parties until I became a Methodist minister and
dropped such worldly vanities. The first time I
preached in my home region all my former partners
came to hear me, and listened with wide, understand-
ing, reminiscent smiles which made it very hard for
me to keep soberly to my text.

In the near future I had reason to regret the ex-
travagant expenditure of my first earnings. For
my second year of teaching, in the same school, I
was to receive five dollars a week and to pay my
own board. I selected a place two miles and a half
from the school-house, and was promptly asked by
my host to pay my board in advance. This, he ex-
plained, was due to no lack of faith in me; the
money would enable him to go ``outside'' to work,
leaving his family well supplied with provisions. I
allowed him to go to the school committee and col-
lect my board in advance, at the rate of three dol-
lars a week for the season. When I presented myself
at my new boarding-place, however, two days later,
I found the house nailed up and deserted; the man
and his family had departed with my money, and
I was left, as my committeemen sympathetically
remarked, ``high and dry.'' There were only two
dollars a week coming to me after that, so I walked
back and forth between my home and my school,
almost four miles, twice a day; and during this en-
forced exercise there was ample opportunity to re-
flect on the fleeting joy of riches.

In the mean time war had been declared. When
the news came that Fort Sumter had been fired
on, and that Lincoln had called for troops, our men
were threshing. There was only one threshing-
machine in the region at that time, and it went
from place to place, the farmers doing their thresh-
ing whenever they could get the machine. I re-
member seeing a man ride up on horseback, shout-
ing out Lincoln's demand for troops and explaining
that a regiment was being formed at Big Rapids.
Before he had finished speaking the men on the ma-
chine had leaped to the ground and rushed off to
enlist, my brother Jack, who had recently joined us,
among them. In ten minutes not one man was left
in the field. A few months later my brother Tom
enlisted as a bugler--he was a mere boy at the time--
and not long after that my father followed the example
of his sons and served until the war was ended. He
had entered on the twenty-ninth of August, 1862, as
an army steward; he came back to us with the rank
of lieutenant and assistant surgeon of field and staff.

Between those years I was the principal support
of our family, and life became a strenuous and tragic
affair. For months at a time we had no news from
the front. The work in our community, if it was
done at all, was done by despairing women whose
hearts were with their men. When care had become
our constant guest, Death entered our home as well.
My sister Eleanor had married, and died in childbirth,
leaving her baby to me; and the blackest hours of
those black years were the hours that saw her pass-
ing. I can see her still, lying in a stupor from which
she roused herself at intervals to ask about her child.
She insisted that our brother Tom should name the
baby, but Tom was fighting for his country, unless
he had already preceded Eleanor through the wide
portal that was opening before her. I could only
tell her that I had written to him; but before the
assurance was an hour old she would climb up from
the gulf of unconsciousness with infinite effort to
ask if we had received his reply. At last, to calm
her, I told her it had come, and that Tom had chosen
for her little son the name of Arthur. She smiled
at this and drew a deep breath; then, still smiling,
she passed away. Her baby slipped into her vacant
place and almost filled our heavy hearts, but only
for a short time; for within a few months after his
mother's death his father married again and took
him from me, and it seemed that with his going
we had lost all that made life worth while.

The problem of living grew harder with every-
day. We eked out our little income in every way
we could, taking as boarders the workers in the log-
ging-camps, making quilts, which we sold, and losing
no chance to earn a penny in any legitimate manner.
Again my mother did such outside sewing as she
could secure, yet with every month of our effort
the gulf between our income and our expenses grew
wider, and the price of the bare necessities of exis-
ence{sic} climbed up and up. The largest amount I
could earn at teaching was six dollars a week, and
our school year included only two terms of thir-
teen weeks each. It was an incessant struggle to
keep our land, to pay our taxes, and to live. Cal-
ico was selling at fifty cents a yard. Coffee was
one dollar a pound. There were no men left to
grind our corn, to get in our crops, or to care for
our live stock; and all around us we saw our
struggle reflected in the lives of our neighbors.

At long intervals word came to us of battles in
which my father's regiment--the Tenth Michigan
Cavalry Volunteers--or those of my brothers were
engaged, and then longer intervals followed in which
we heard no news. After Eleanor's death my
brother Tom was wounded, and for months we lived
in terror of worse tidings, but he finally recovered.
I was walking seven and eight miles a day, and doing
extra work before and after school hours, and my
health began to fail. Those were years I do not
like to look back upon--years in which life had de-
generated into a treadmill whose monotony was
broken only by the grim messages from the front.
My sister Mary married and went to Big Rapids to
live. I had no time to dream my dream, but the star
of my one purpose still glowed in my dark horizon.
It seemed that nothing short of a miracle could lift
my feet from their plodding way and set them on the
wider path toward which my eyes were turned, but
I never lost faith that in some manner the miracle
would come to pass. As certainly as I have ever
known anything, I KNEW that I was going to college!



The end of the Civil War brought freedom to
me, too. When peace was declared my father
and brothers returned to the claim in the wilderness
which we women of the family had labored so des-
perately to hold while they were gone. To us, as to
others, the final years of the war had brought many
changes. My sister Eleanor's place was empty.
Mary, as I have said, had married and gone to live in
Big Rapids, and my mother and I were alone with my
brother Harry, now a boy of fourteen. After the
return of our men it was no longer necessary to de-
vote every penny of my earnings to the maintenance
of our home. For the first time I could begin to
save a portion of my income toward the fulfilment
of my college dream, but even yet there was a long,
arid stretch ahead of me before the college doors
came even distantly into sight.

The largest salary I could earn by teaching in our
Northern woods was one hundred and fifty-six dollars
a year, for two terms of thirteen weeks each; and
from this, of course, I had to deduct the cost of my
board and clothing--the sole expenditure I allowed
myself. The dollars for an education accumulated
very, very slowly, until at last, in desperation, weary
of seeing the years of my youth rush past, bearing
my hopes with them, I took a sudden and radical
step. I gave up teaching, left our cabin in the
woods, and went to Big Rapids to live with my sister
Mary, who had married a successful man and who
generously offered me a home. There, I had de-
cided, I would learn a trade of some kind, of any
kind; it did not greatly matter what it was. The
sole essential was that it should be a money-making
trade, offering wages which would make it possible
to add more rapidly to my savings. In those days,
almost fifty years ago, and in a small pioneer town,
the fields open to women were few and unfruitful.
The needle at once presented itself, but at first I
turned with loathing from it. I would have pre-
ferred the digging of ditches or the shoveling of coal;
but the needle alone persistently pointed out my
way, and I was finally forced to take it.

Fate, however, as if weary at last of seeing me
between her paws, suddenly let me escape. Before
I had been working a month at my uncongenial
trade Big Rapids was favored by a visit from a
Universalist woman minister, the Reverend Marianna
Thompson, who came there to preach. Her ser-
mon was delivered on Sunday morning, and I was, I
think, almost the earliest arrival of the great con-
gregation which filled the church. It was a wonder-
ful moment when I saw my first woman minister
enter her pulpit; and as I listened to her sermon,
thrilled to the soul, all my early aspirations to be-
come a minister myself stirred in me with cumulative
force. After the services I hung for a time on the
fringe of the group that surrounded her, and at last,
when she was alone and about to leave, I found
courage to introduce myself and pour forth the tale
of my ambition. Her advice was as prompt as if
she had studied my problem for years.

``My child,'' she said, ``give up your foolish idea
of learning a trade, and go to school. You can't do
anything until you have an education. Get it, and
get it NOW.''

Her suggestion was much to my liking, and I paid
her the compliment of acting on it promptly, for
the next morning I entered the Big Rapids High
School, which was also a preparatory school for col-
lege. There I would study, I determined, as long
as my money held out, and with the optimism of
youth I succeeded in confining my imagination to
this side of that crisis. My home, thanks to Mary,
was assured; the wardrobe I had brought from the
woods covered me sufficiently; to one who had
walked five and six miles a day for years, walking
to school held no discomfort; and as for pleasure,
I found it, like a heroine of fiction, in my studies.
For the first time life was smiling at me, and with
all my young heart I smiled back.

The preceptress of the high school was Lucy
Foot, a college graduate and a remarkable woman.
I had heard much of her sympathy and understand-
ing; and on the evening following my first day in
school I went to her and repeated the confidences
I had reposed in the Reverend Marianna Thompson.
My trust in her was justified. She took an immedi-
ate interest in me, and proved it at once by putting
me into the speaking and debating classes, where I
was given every opportunity to hold forth to help-
less classmates when the spirit of eloquence moved

As an aid to public speaking I was taught to ``elo-
cute,'' and I remember in every mournful detail
the occasion on which I gave my first recitation.
We were having our monthly ``public exhibition
night,'' and the audience included not only my class-
mates, but their parents and friends as well. The
selection I intended to recite was a poem entitled
``No Sects in Heaven,'' but when I faced my au-
dience I was so appalled by its size and by the sud-
den realization of my own temerity that I fainted
during the delivery of the first verse. Sympathetic
classmates carried me into an anteroom and revived
me, after which they naturally assumed that the
entertainment I furnished was over for the evening.
I, however, felt that if I let that failure stand against
me I could never afterward speak in public; and
within ten minutes, notwithstanding the protests
of my friends, I was back in the hall and beginning
my recitation a second time. The audience gave
me its eager attention. Possibly it hoped to see me
topple off the platform again, but nothing of the
sort occurred. I went through the recitation with
self-possession and received some friendly applause at
the end. Strangely enough, those first sensations of
``stage fright'' have been experienced, in a lesser de-
gree, in connection with each of the thousands of
public speeches I have made since that time. I
have never again gone so far as to faint in the
presence of an audience; but I have invariably
walked out on the platform feeling the sinking sen-
sation at the pit of the stomach, the weakness of the
knees, that I felt in the hour of my debut. Now,
however, the nervousness passes after a moment
or two.

From that night Miss Foot lost no opportunity of
putting me into the foreground of our school affairs.
I took part in all our debates, recited yards of poe-
try to any audience we could attract, and even shone
mildly in our amateur theatricals. It was probably
owing to all this activity that I attracted the in-
terest of the presiding elder of our district--Dr.
Peck, a man of progressive ideas. There was at
that time a movement on foot to license women to
preach in the Methodist Church, and Dr. Peck was
ambitious to be the first presiding elder to have a
woman ordained for the Methodist ministry. He
had urged Miss Foot to be this pioneer, but her
ambitions did not turn in that direction. Though
she was a very devout Methodist, she had no wish
to be the shepherd of a religious flock. She loved
her school-work, and asked nothing better than to
remain in it. Gently but persistently she directed
the attention of Dr. Peck to me, and immediately
things began to happen.

Without telling me to what it might lead, Miss
Foot finally arranged a meeting at her home by in-
viting Dr. Peck and me to dinner. Being uncon-
scious of any significance in the occasion, I chatted
light-heartedly about the large issues of life and
probably settled most of them to my personal satis-
faction. Dr. Peck drew me out and led me on,
listened and smiled. When the evening was over
and we rose to go, he turned to me with sudden

``My quarterly meeting will be held at Ashton,''
he remarked, casually. ``I would like you to preach
the quarterly sermon.''

For a moment the earth seemed to slip away from
my feet. I stared at him in utter stupefaction.
Then slowly I realized that, incredible as it seemed,
the man was in earnest.

``Why,'' I stammered, ``_I_ can't preach a ser-


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