The Church Historian's Press

December 1885


16 December

EBW traveled east to visit her family in Massachusetts.

21 December

Richard W. Young, a Utahn studying at Columbia University law school, showed EBW important sites in New York City.

24 December

EBW joined her brother Hiram E. W. Clark and his wife, Carrie, and three children in Thorndike, Massachusetts, for Christmas.

26 December

EBW met her sister Pallas Woodward Clark again after forty-six years. Two days later, they toured sites from their growing-up years, including the brook where EBW was baptized.

31 December

EBW called on Lucy Stacy Harris Blackington, the mother of her first husband, James Harris.

My trip East.

16 December 1885 • Wednesday

On Wednesday Dec. 16. 1885 I left my own home Belle [Isabel Whitney Sears] & the children and started for the D. & R.G.1 depot about 10 o’clock A.M. Louie [Louise M. Wells] went to the station with me and Annie [Elizabeth Ann Wells Cannon] and her two children Geo. Q. [Cannon] and Louise [B. Cannon] came up in a buggy to see me off. Ort [Orson F.] Whitney Bishop of the 18th ward came down and brought me an elegant little illustrated book entitled the “Beauties of Tennyson”. I was <not> in a cheerful mood to be sure for I was leaving the dearest spot on earth to me to go away alone, but it was to visit the home of my childhood and to meet those dear to me by the ties of kindred and affection from whom I had long been separated. [p. 11] {p. 5}

John Q. [Cannon] my dear son in law was to accompany me to Provo and he had carefully arranged all my tickets <through> and my berth <for> a part of the way. I was scarcely in a mood for talking yet I felt to improve every moment I was with him in giving him items about my affairs at home; we had a pleasant morning together and when we reached Provo he jumped off the train and I bade him good bye he was the last one to bind me to home affairs and so I began to enjoy the scenery, the name of the Pulman on which I traveled was Cimarron and the passengers were all men except one lady who occupied the section opposite to me; she was from Wisconsin had been on to [p. 12] {p. 6} California and was a telephone operator. She was not particularly pleasant except to the conductor and to other men on the train; there were two men who played at cards incessantly;

When we came to Spanish Fork Caňon it was very interesting to me as I had heard so much concerning it, tho’ the scene was wintry, but very grand nevertheless and <we> soon came <to> Price a new town with a smart new store just being put up by young [David J.] Williams and B. [Benjamin] F. Cummings. Here I saw the very last Mormon before reaching New York, & I was very glad to see one; I can tell those who think they can live away from Utah that it is indeed very hard to be separated from one’s own [p. 13] {p. 7} people or those who believe as we do. Castle Valley was the next point of special interest and wast to me most attractive with its walls of rock so high one’s head would swim to look up at them, and the several almost innumerable peaks heights, points towers, images and statuettes. So confusing as it were in their magnificent grandeur and telling such wonderful tales of bygone days. To me they were like great seals to open the legends of olden times and many a vision of grandeur and splendor unfolded to my mind as I gazed upon those marvelous heights with their innumerable shapes and the great glory of the setting sun that fell like a halo over [p. 14] {p. 8} those everlasting hills. But the shades of evening drew near and thoughts of those at home and that beautiful song ran through my mind

“Shades of evening close not o’er us

Leave our lonely bark awhile

Morn alas shall not restore us

Yonder dim and distant isle

Still my fancy can discover

Sunny spots where friends may <dwell>

Darker Shadows round me hover

Isle of Beauty, Fare thee well,

Isle of Beauty Isle of Beauty

Isle of Beauty, Fare thee well.

Tis the hour when happy faces

Smile around the taper’s light

Who will fill our vacant places

Who will sing our songs to-night2

[p. 15] {p. 9}

Night has come and I can no longer see the beauties of nature and therefore I retire almost unwillingly, longing for the sweet kisses of the dear little children and the soft good night of my darling girls.3

17 December 1885 • Thursday

Dec. 17. Thursday at 5 o’clock the porter awoke me by my direction to see the Black Caňon all that I could see at that dark hour, and peering out into the early dim and starlight morning I saw the outlines of a dim and dismal caňon that seemed a fit place for robbers or brigands to inhabit. Still I had no fear whatever– [p. 16] {p. 10} and when we came out into the broader road I lay down and fell into the heavy slumber that one finds so refreshing after a fatiguing day. I was awake and dressed in good time however as we were to pass all the main points of interest and excitement and I heard from the conductor that many women had hysterics going over that part of the road; there was Marshal Pass and Castle Soldier Summit Royal Gorge and Grand Caňon and then we would gaze and drink in our full of the landscape in its sublime magnificence. I sat out on the rear platform all the way and never had one particle of fear, for there was too much to admire, that evening we arrived at Pueblo and then we had to change cars for Kansas City just about dark then I met with Miss Leonard from Ithaca [p. 17] {p. 11} who had been out in Salt Lake a year on a visit to relatives.

After going on to the train I saw a young woman and child who were on the way to Buffalo who interested me very much though the road was very monotonous. The name of the Pullman was Chavez4

18 December 1885 • Friday

Dec. 18. We were looking out for Kansas City and arrived there about 1/2 past six, I secured a little boy to help me with valise etc. & bought a berth to Chicago the Kansas paper and got on the Chicago & Alton train soon after going on the cars I met with a lady and her husband who were returning to Washington from Arizona where they had been making collections for Smithsonian Institute. He was quite sick on the train. It was Mr. & Mrs. [James and Tilly E.] Stevenson5 [p. 18] {p. 12}

19 December 1885 • Saturday

Dec. 19. In the morning we were nearing Chicago passed Bloomington [Illinois] and rushing on arrived there about 1/2 past two in the afternoon. I rather expected to see Mr. [Septimus Wagstaff] Sears6 but did not, went down to the Chicago & Atlantic depot in the Parmale Coach & had quite an experience, secured a berth to New York and went into the car International. There were no ladies on but I hoped some would come; there was a Japanese grandee and his two sons, and white companion, I was obliged to retire at last notwithstanding my great aversion to it, the conductor assured me there were two ministers and two Bible missionaries on board.7

20 December 1885 • Sunday

Dec. 20 was Sunday and a very cold raw day we were in the state of New York passing over a beautiful tract of country [p. 19] {p. 13} and I enjoyed the towns and scenes very much, but the train was delayed at Homersville 2½ hours and the passengers were very much annoyed, night came on and we were still traveling onward and much disconcerted, but as all things must have an end at last so had the journey and we reached Jersey City [New Jersey] after 12 o’clock about one in fact on the 21st of December. Crossed over in a ferry boat & reached the Hotel in a “Bus” about 20 minutes to two in the morning. Went to the Grand Central Hotel took a room and went to bed tired cold & hungry. I kept the gas burning all night and slept none scarcely and next morning could not eat breakfast, saw Mrs. [Ann Dalton] Neal and she went with me to ask for a room with a [p. 20] {p. 14} fire in it.

21 December 1885 • Monday

21st succeeded in getting a very nice room on the second floor and then wrote about an hour and started out to see the city. called at the office of Fowler & Wells8 and found she [Charlotte Fowler Wells] had gone out or was not in, then went to Governor’s Island9 in the boat and arriving there found Mrs. [Minerva Richards] Young and the Lieutenant [Richard W. Young] and the new baby10 all very cosy stayed a short time had lunch and learned from Nerva [Minerva] that Abbie [Wells Young]’s child was a girl, she had been told by Mr. Hart who had been over there after it was born. This was quite news to me. Lieut <Young> went with me to the City and showed me several places of interest, the Produce Exchange a new building where grain is disposed of, and other offices of some note a library a Post Office etc. etc. [p. 21] {p. 15}

I saw the rich men discussing and quarreling over the ups and downs but could not appreciate the situation not comprehending the manner of their doing business. the building was a very high one and from the four corners of the observatory I saw so much from each point. the shipping in the harbor and East River and Brooklyn and many points very well defined He took me over the elevated railroad and then to see the Vanderbilt Houses and the 14 story French flats, and Castle [Garden] and grounds where our emigrants land. I went home to the Hotel had dinner and Fred [Thomas Alfred] Clawson came to see me in the evening and we went in to Mr. & Mrs. [William C.] Neal’s room and spent an hour or more, had kind of a jolly time together– [p. 22] {p. 16}

sat up and wrote some rose and finished in the morning, sent it off by mail and went out to call on some of the people I knew. found Mrs. Charlotte Wells of Fowler & Wells establishment, she lives at <Orange New> Jersey City with her relatives as she has no friends in New York City that are of the same blood except her brother who is almost always absent and has a young wife to whom he is specially devoted. I lunched at a restaurant on Broadway and then pursued my rambles in the city, bought one or two books and went home to dinner, dressed for the Theatre and went with Fred Clawson to the [blank] to see The Minister’s daughter– enjoyed it very much indeed and after going home attended to some writing did some packing and prepared to go on the morrow to my brother’s11 at Thorndike [Massachusetts] left the Grand [p. 23] {p. 17} Central Hotel at 10 in a carriage and bought a ticket at the New York New Haven & Hartford depot for Palmer Mass. the train was very much crowded and a young lady came and sat beside me and we were soon in conversation; she was a zealous and devoted young woman in the path she had marked out for herself, was teaching music in New Jersey was on her way home to spend Christmas at her parent’s residence in Stafford Springs, Conn. her name was Miss Nichols. She was indeed bright intelligent and graceful, she was so far from prejudice that had she been where I could have laid before the principles of our faith she might have listened to the still small voice and been anxious to know for herself whether these things were true, but as it was she [p. 24] {p. 18} said I do not understand but I pray that God will teach me. We passed through New Haven Hartford and Springfield12 and at 3,32 p.m. arrived at Palmer, where my big handsome well-dressed brother awaited me, on the platform and came forward and took me in his arms and kissed me; his carriage was ready and we were soon seated both to full for words. he drove to his store in Palmer to give orders for my luggage and off we drove. The first embarrassment of our meeting over he pointed out to me the places of interest, but we were in sight of the quiet village of Thorndike almost before we were aware of it; and drove up to the front door of a handsome house. My brother led me up the steps and ushered me into the hall where stood his wife13 waiting to greet me on [p. 25] {p. 19} my entrance. She wore a soft cashmere dress of grayish brown with a great cluster of bows of yellow ribbon at the waist. She looked very nice and lady like but I did not fall in love with her at first sight, and I am very well pleased that I did not. I maintained my own dignity and she kept her eye constantly upon my brother. I had no desire to intrude upon her rights or privileges and I felt from the first moment that she had formed a decided opinion concerning me. Time will tell if I am right thought I, and sure enough before the evening passed the fact revealed itself palpably, and most unpleasantly so much so that I felt it would have been better if I had not gone there. To insult a guest who has come hundreds of miles to see your husband and one who has cared [p. 26] {p. 20} for him in his tender years, who has loved him with an unbounded affection is it seems to me unpardonable in a wife. All the advances she can ever make will not change my views of her conduct to me on the first night of my arrival at that beautiful home. Evidently she intended me to understand from the very first that I was not to mention my belief or principles under her roof and so great was my astonishment at her unladylike behavior and positive rudeness to me personally that had it not been for the respect I felt for her as my brother’s wife I would not have endured her insult for a moment but would have left her house that night never to return, but I saw that my brother suffered and I felt that should I attempt to go it would produce such unhappiness for him that I [p. 27] {p. 21} would rather suffer than be the cause of any disturbance and so I choked down the great sobs that rose in my throat and waited until I had been shown to my own room before I gave way to the emotions that were pent up within me. Once alone I gave vent to my grief and asked myself if it were meet I should bear without murmur or complaint such stinging reproaches and such insults to my faith for which I had sacrificed so much; and a few bitter tears came trickling down my face and I prayed for grace for strength and humility to endure all things, that were needful; that I might by my example if not in any other way prove myself equal if not superior to the situation. I was very weary but I slept little and my dreams were troubled [p. 28] {p. 22} and I scarce knew if I ought to go or stay; but my heart went out to my great manly brother and I felt I must see him and be near him even if she insulted me daily.

24 December 1885 • Thursday

Dec. 24 Morning came at last and I dressed with some care and went down to the parlor where my brother was seated in dressing gown and slippers reading his morning paper. My great love for him would have urged me to kiss him but no her keen black eyes were upon me and with a simple good morning I took the nearest seat. Neva [Geneva F. Clark] my niece about 12 years old came in and announced the breakfast and in we filed. The grace was pronounced by my brother with great formality and the breakfast eaten in almost total silence. Charlie [Charles H. Clark] had gone to work and Granger [Farley Granger Clark] and Neva were in a hurry to go off to school and so [p. 29] {p. 23} asked to be excused before we had half-finished the morning meal. I went up stairs to unpack my trunk and make my bed and my brother put on his coat and boots and was off to his office, Carrie [Caroline Fuller Clark] to her domestic duties I suppose. I went down soon after and gave her the little things I had brought for herself Hiram [W. Clark] and the children. but I would not offer her the carved wooden trifles that were ornamented with The Temple & the Tabernacle I held in such reverence. I felt she should not desecrate them with any scornful words as she had insulted me the night before. my religion and its emblems were too sacred to be cast before those who would treat me as she had done. I bore up the best I could but my heart was very sore and my [p. 30] {p. 24} spirits depressed. Dinner came at last and my darling brother with his earnest thoughtful face. He talked a little and finally told his wife she had better have the horse harnessed and take me for a ride. Charlie & Granger & papa were going to Springfield by train and Neva to a rehearsal for the entertainment to be given in the Church at Christmas. So the horse was harnessed and we put on our warm wraps and went for a ride through the village and over to “Three Rivers.” It was very cold, but she seemed anxious to do something to please me perhaps to make amends for her bitterness the night before, but my heart was still smarting and I had no pleasure in her company. I saw that my brother was afraid to take me to ride himself and it galled me very much indeed. I felt that she held him in her power so that [p. 31] {p. 25} he did not even dare to mention subjects that lay near to his heart about my family. Surely the Savior’s words were verified when he said I have not come to bring peace but a sword etc. Whenever I was out of the room for a short time and returned he was fondling and caressing his wife, as though she needed extra attention on some account but I took no sort of notice. That evening the children were all excitement about Santa Claus and each one had some sly message to papa & mama before going to bed, and before it was very late I felt that it would be the best thing to retire and as the whole house was thoroughly warmed with steam my chamber was as comfortable as the parlor or sitting room and no one ever attempted to hinder me when I [p. 32] {p. 26} said I had better go. In my own room I could at least breathe freely and write my thoughts on paper and that was some satisfaction, and besides I had to exercise much self control to keep my indignation within bounds.

When I think of her insult to me and to my people, my blood boils that I should submit to such a gross insult and not resent it. I thought of my own dear mountain home and those who were so dear to me there, of the preparations they were making for the coming festival day, and in fancy I saw it all before my swimming eyes. It was long before I could compose myself to sleep but blessed unconsciousness came at last and I reveled in dreamland all unknowing of the sorrow through which I had just passed.

25 December 1885 • Friday

Dec. 25. Morning came and Granger’s cheery voice at the [p. 33] {p. 27} door called out “Breakfast is ready,” A merry Christmas I replied and then he said “come down and see what we’ve got.” I made a hasty toilette and hurried down, in the parlor alone sat my brother who rose and kissed me in the same breath wishing me a merrie Christmas. My heart was almost to full for words to express and I had to be very careful not to betray the strong emotion that swept over me at this demonstration made so naturally at this opportune time. At breakfast however the silence was something remarkable for Christmas morning, the children were somewhat elated it was plain to see but it was all controlled and there were no outbursts of childish joy and merriment; after breakfast brother went out and I up stairs, Carrie into the kitchen to get the [p. 34] {p. 28} turkey ready for Nora the Irish servant had gone home to Christmas; and I winded my way up stairs after having been shown all the children’s presents. After about an hour or more I sauntered into the parlor where Neva was practising her part for the evening performance and Granger who tried harder than any one to entertain me showed me some attention but finally some boys and girls called and Granger & Neva went away skates in hand to have a good time on the ice. Jolly enough went the gay party out of the yard, but soon after Granger appeared with a chapter of accidents and a countenance very much cast down. His mother was busy with the turkey and plum-pudding & so he came to me for sympathy and we agreed very well and talked the matter over glad that he [p. 35] {p. 29} escaped with so little injury. We had a fine Christmas dinner turkey pudding pies cakes and all the other things to make the dinner palatable vegetables and delicacies and all passed off pleasantly as a summer day and in the evening we went to the Sunday School entertainment where Neva took part in the performance and my brother was the Superintendent and they had two Christmas trees loaded with presents and after returning home we sat and talked until we were weary and as I was to leave the next day we tried to think over all the old things and times.

26 December 1885 • Saturday

The next morning <Dec. 26> my brother gave me full particulars of the road I was to travel on and I started just after dinner for Orange14 [p. 36] {p. 30} my brother went with me to the train & introduced me to an old friend of his Mr. Newell an overseer of Factories and I conversed with him about Utah until we reached Ware where he stopped. On the way I passed the Old Furnace Village in Hardwick where I was sent to school when seven years old and a place I have always recollected with peculiar feelings of happiness yet mingled with homesickness. I staid there with my sister Lucy [Woodward Hewlings] and she married a Hardwick man Henry Hisnsdale [Hinsdale] Granger, who was killed in the war in 1863 or 1864. near Peterboro [Petersburg] Virginia. I arrived at Orange after some delay at Baldwinville as the roads did not connect properly and taking a carriage was driven half frozen to my sister’s home. The driver rather unceremoniously opened the street door [p. 37] {p. 31} and I was quickly ushered in to the wide entrance. The door was open into the sitting room and a slender feeble looking gray headed man stared at me as I walked in without being invited. Knowing I was expected my sister15 looked pale and trembling and my heart was very full to see her grown so old and feeble and her shoulders that were once so straight now stooping. At last William [S. Clark] spoke, it seemed a minute or more though he says it was only a few seconds, and said I suppose you are Mrs. Wells and then Pallas [Woodward Clark] took me in her arms and kissed me & shed a tear or two not many I think for which I felt exceeding grateful, yet it was an affecting scene for we had not parted happily, as she was opposed to my religion as well as my marriage. They had built up great hopes for me in a literary career and becoming [p. 38] {p. 32} a convert to the Mormon faith had sorely disappointed them. Well she acknowledged she was ashamed of the anger she manifested and that she had not been kinder when I went away for I had never in any way resented the cruelty that had been shown to me. But it is all past and we were both getting on in years and it was not a time to recall any unpleasantness. Pallas prepared my tea and I drank it but could not eat but very little, my heart was full to overflowing and my thoughts were busy with the memories of the past when she was young and blooming and I a child almost had gone out from my home and loved ones to the then Western wild Nauvoo [Illinois]. O so many, many remembrances were awakened that there was no sleep for my eyelids until long after midnight. [p. 39] {p. 33} I wrote a letter to the girls at home telling them some of my enthusiasm on reaching the places to memory so dear.

27 December 1885 • Sunday

<Dec. 27. 1885>

The next morning <Dec. 27> we had a rather late breakfast for New England people & Pallas and I went to the Universalist Church about half a mile away. The Rev. Mr. [Israel P.] Quinby preached and in his sermon said so many things that prove our doctrines to be true, but I said nothing as Pallas seems determined to avoid any mention of my faith or the family to which I belong. I must put aside all this for the time being. We went home and conversed and Pallas got a very nice dinner. Lilian [Lillian Clark Ramsey] came and brought baby and spent the evening. Arthur [James Arthur Clark] came in and was very sociable and pleasant, <Elzina Emery now Haskins came to see me> we went in there awhile it is all under one roof, by and bye Lillian went home and after some talk about going to New Salem tomorrow morning [p. 40] {p. 34} <Dec. 28. 1885>we separated for the night. I to my chamber to write and ponder upon the things of which my heart was full and running over.

28 December 1885 • Monday

Monday Dec. 28. We set off in pretty good time going over Walnut Hill. William Pallas and I in an open carriage or tea cart with square fringed top and one stout horse. I furnished the team and Pallas the pic nic & William drove. We went almost around the North Pond where I had often been skating with my big brothers16 in winter and when in summer we had almost risked our lives to gather water-lilies or pond lilies we often called them. O how lovely and fragrant they were and the long stems were hollow and yards in length. The boys used to smoke them sometimes. We went past the old grave yard & where the hearse house was and we drove in and got out and walked around. I found the grave of my [p. 41] {p. 35} favorite playmate, he had died many years before and his wife was married long since His name was John Smith and he married Louise Thompson. one child lies buried there too and there are also the graves of his father and mother whom I knew well in our childish days. John always got me the best seat everywhere and brought me candy nuts and raisins, helped me fill my basket when we went berrying or nutting and drove away all the other little boys who sought my society at school or at play. In fact appropriated me when I was in the village and when I went away out of town to other schools he was quite jealous. We drove on past the Amos K. Smith’s place <his home> and his uncle Dexter’s and on through the heart of the village to the dear old place where Hiram was born and where the little juniper tree has grown like a great [p. 42] {p. 36} giant elm. We went round to the back and <un>fastened the latch and let ourselves in. We lingered lovingly around the desolate and deserted place, went into the little parlor & saw the quaint old fireplace & tiny mantlepiece, and up stairs where we children slept. Leaving this spot dreary indeed <in its lonely isolation> we went on to the house mother17 left when she went West and sold or gave it away one night say, for she had to make the greatest sacrifice to go at all; and then she had such perfect faith in her religion that it seemed a pleasure almost to leave all for the Gospel’s sake. And she knows now, how great the trial was and the reward of all her sufferings, for she is one of those who will wear a martyr’s crown. I feel sure of that for she immortalized herself at that memorable time when the Saints were driven from the beautiful City of Nauvoo [p. 43] {p. 37}

We passed over the charming little brook where Sister Delia [Cordelia Woodward Holden] says I got my inspiration, when I used to jump up early in the morning and run down there and bathe my face and hands. There were pretty speckled trout there then and I once caught one between two sticks and mother fried it. The boys often caught trout there. It was frozen over now except place large enough to dip a bucket in; and it reminded me of the day on the morning of the first of March 1842 when eight of us went down into the waters of baptism in that very brook, the ice having been cut for our benefit. A miracle was wrought too on that occasion on the person of Miss Sophia Wickes afterwards Weeks. She was held healed of lameness and we gave God the glory. I was just 14 if there had been a 29th of February and so young and [p. 44] {p. 38} dependent. But I was determined after I had made up my mind and Elder Mc’Ginn [Eli P. Maginn] was a very fascinating Elder to converse with and he made many converts in and around Massachusetts. The crisis over the path was dark but clearer to my duty to my mother, and her instructions to me were strict in lessons of obedience to parental authority. All the past came vividly to my mind as we stood near the brook and ascended the rise of ground where the house stood. The old <stone> steps were there that her tired feet had so often trod upon, and the well with its moss grown rocks and almost rotten curb but the well sweep still dangled to and fro as though ’twere convulsed with agony. The water is clear and good and the weary traveler oft pauses here to refresh himself and cool his brow in hot and dusty weather. The hemlock grove we loved so much and where [p. 45] {p. 39} the birds sung early and late has all been cut away and for what I could not learn, and now the rocks look bare and bald that were once so beautifully shaded and made such a cool retreat in the heat of summer. Under those hemlock boughs I have pondered over many a difficult lesson too ambitious to give up and to young to solve all the questions that were given me to answer. Here too I carried my rag babies and petted them, and talked to them and to the pretty birds, the songsters of the wood. Farther up the brook were pine woods but they were not half so pretty. These are standing though a new growth since those days, and the Whittaker pasture on the South and the old lane and Pickeret Hill are very much changed. The pasture has grown up to brush and underwood [p. 46] {p. 40} so I could scarce believe it was the same. Its owner dead and the new tenants caring not for old associations. It was too cold to wander much over these grounds, so we went on to the parsonage, where in my young days there dwelt the minister and family Priest Curtis as we called him his first name was Erastus and his wife was Deborah Grovesnor [Grosvenor] her father too had been a minister and he had felt his daughter was suitable to be a minister’s wife, but it was a most unhappy marriage for she was far superior to him, and all the neighbors said, she was the real author of his sermons, but this I know that he would call her from <her work to> his study to read, revise and to suggest. and his frequent and oft-repeated calls of Deborah became quite proverbial in the village. Then too he was so absentminded18 [p. 47] {p. 41} that often when she had exhausted her nervous energies to help him with his Sunday discourse, he would leave it on his study table to be sent after him by a special messenger. Quick as thought all these remembrances came up while we were gazing on the old familiar places. We went to the old Haskins place and ate our lunch and warmed ourselves and here the woman was braiding a palmleaf hats, another reminder of the long ago. After resting a few minutes we procured the key to the old Congregational Church and walked on to the school,-house going there first as it was now noon time. The house is the same except repairs and new paint, but the old benches and desk <as well as stove> have been replaced by modern ones, but the cloak room and wood room were as of yore, and the funny little box stove that used to warm the big room stands in the cloak [p. 48] {p. 42} room now. We talked a few minutes to the young teacher Miss [Sarah J.] Field. She said there were only a few scholars in the village and that she taught them five weeks of the term and the remaining five in the Fay district about two miles eastward. When we were children it was quite a full school sixty-five or seventy or more and now it numbers twelve or fourteen. Leaving the <white> schoolhouse we crossed over to the meeting house, outside one could not note any change except that it must have been painted over during all these years, and the great wide horse sheds stood wide and homely as ever at the back of the meeting house as if to welcome the old one horse chaise and its horse. Inside I was greatly disappointed for the pretty galleries where we used to sit and sing and listen to those tiresome preachers were all taken away and piled up like waste lumber and the gallery plastered up for what reason [p. 49] {p. 43} no one seemed to know, however we found one staircase open and went up and sat down on the very seats on which we used to sit when we sang second as we called it in the early days now forty years and more ago. The arch that formed the vestry had not been changed and the identical long box stove was well preserved and a long stick of wood protruded from the stove door and the ashes had fallen out, evidently there had been a fire the day before for this was Monday. The high old-style pulpit had been taken out and a modern platform with table and organ etc had taken its place and all the dear old high secluded pews were removed and seats put in the places all along and the marks of the high pews still remained upon the walls, telling the tale of old time pews and the days of grandeur when we were young and charming and life was [p. 50] {p. 44} like a bright panorama spread out for our astonished gaze. They only have service now and then, what they call supply now and again. This shows plainly how North Village had gone down for when we were young we paid the minister a good reasonable salary. Our next visit was paid to Darwin Andrews the eldest son of the village Doctor. He was living on the homestead with his six boys and “a maid,” who seemed to be very deficient in household matters for everything was neglected even to his own raiment. His wife had died two years before. I urged him to marry again and he said he would. Leaving him very reluctantly after gazing upon the portraits of his father and mother and Aunt Angelia Julia & Fidelia whom we had known when a child and who had been nearer my sisters age than mine we went back to the Whittaker house to go over it [p. 51] {p. 45} if possible. Darwin had been so delighted to see me that it seemed quite refreshing. I gave him two copies of my paper which pleased him very much indeed. The occupants of the Whittaker House the largest and grandest house in the village in the days of its enterprise were named Clara, who they were more than their name we did not learn but they had recently purchased it “for a mere song” I presume. The former owner had been a rich and influential man, twice a member of the Mass. Legislature and filled several other public offices he was Esquire Whittaker and Col. Whittaker & Deacon Whittaker at different periods & he was widely and favorably known. Still even here there had been a family history and the eldest son who was a trifle wild never came to the house when his father was in. On the corner almost diagonal was an old store which had [p. 52] {p. 46} once been filled with goods, for the Esquire had also been a merchant in a small way, and this was fitted up by the mother for Sanford her eldest son. I think she provided for him the needful food and took care of his dwelling, but no one ever told me so, but his Sister Jane seven years my senior often talked to me about her unfortunate brother & said if only her father would relent how happy they might all be. But whether this ever came about or not I do not know– but probably not, as the father died soon after and Jane the only single daughter when I was a child is now dead and gone. Only one remains I am told and that is Colin the second son who comes sometimes to the old home to gaze upon it and turn away to weep. We entered by the South door which opens into the long dining room, now so changed here Mrs. Clara had her range to cook on Mrs. Whittaker would have thought it a desecration, the floor used to [p. 53] {p. 47} shine with paint and varnish and old fashioned mats lay here and there for no one carpeted the dining rooms in those days. At the end of this was the breakfast room where the old Col. used to engage in morning prayer, standing upright & leaning towards the others. These prayers were very formal especially as he had no charity for his own son, how could there be much depth of feeling. We went into the old parlor once so choice that it was never opened except on state occasions or when some one came up from Boston, Jane used to let me in sometimes to see how grand it was because she knew how I loved to look at beautiful things. The same paper is on the walls, the very identical fire places and mantel pieces but all the costly heavy furniture has been removed. Over this room was the “parlor chamber” reserved for the best guests if they [p. 54] {p. 48} happened to be rich. On the other side were the sitting room and another spare chamber, these were not quite so exclusive yet not always open. Other rooms and chambers were occupied by the family, but over all there seemed to be a sort of gloom which hung like a funeral pall, for my heart was full of sad memories, the thoughts of those who had once trod these now deserted rooms for so they were, only this one man and woman lived there and what sort of living could it be for all the village was like a deserted place. Even the very fowls in the yard looked quiet. The fence around the yard had rotted away and gone and all the lovely lilacs were cut off or torn up by the roots. the elms were bending and creaking as though sighing for the dead who had once sat beneath their shelter and altogether the place was weird enough for the most [p. 55] {p. 49} gloomy imaginings. After this we went to Uncle Sam. Haskell’s.19 Here there were some signs of life it was a new house just a short time before I left the village, and it happened to get into the hands of those who kept it in repair. Then we went to see one of the places of which I had often dreamed, a home of one of my very dearest girl friends Susan <Bancroft> Hunter. After that to see a young or now old man a schoolmate and not finding him at his own house, we went up to his saw mill and found him busy but so glad to see me. Then we drove back to the store where we used to trade when I was a child some tho’ my mother seldom bought her dry goods there, and in those days we had a daily mail now it only comes three times a week. Half frozen and weary we started over the hill towards home going by [p. 56] {p. 50} way of Morse Village and Chestnut Hill where I taught my first school. At Morse Village we called a minute to see Mary Andrews now old and wrinkled but still a prim old maid, she used to be the village dressmaker and went from house to house with her (tools) so to speak scissors patterns and the like, in along silk bag swinging from her arm and wearing in summer a green silk calash of the last latest style with bridle attached. And all these years when I had been here and there and meeting with such changes and experiences, she had been in this same village, going up and down the same paths, and in and out the same door ways, and toiling on with her needle in the most unpretentious manner. She was the very type of a New England old maid faded and pale and prim and daintily neat, and withal [p. 57] {p. 51} sweet mannered and unassuming. How many such have gone down to the grave unappreciated by mankind with loving hearts and perhaps sometimes bearing heavy burdens for others if not for themselves. She was as pleased to see me as if I had been a relative and no doubt I did seem near to her for all her own immediate relatives were dead and gone.

Then we passed the Vose20 Place & sister Pallas told me so many things about the family. Mr. & Mrs. Vose were cousins and both of them cousins to my mother and as near to her as any one she had for her father and mother were dead and she was an only child brought up among strangers.

Passing on over a hill and gaining the height known thereabouts as Chestnut Hill we came in sight of a house which affected me as much or more than any of the places we had yet seen. It was where I boarded when [p. 58] {p. 52} I taught school the season after I reached the age of fifteen, and from which I went out a young inexperienced girl to enter upon the duties and obligations of a wife little dreaming what it would bring and knowing comparatively nothing of its duties or responsibilities. Here again the fence that separated the house from the street was gone; a few rose bushes remained though bare at this season of the year, how fragrant they were that June in 1843. the perfume came in through my front window until I seemed to feel the fragrance as well as smell it. I felt I must alight and so I did and asked permission to go in; the lady was very gracious and allowed me to go into the room I had occupied an old fashioned square front room with bed and other furniture windows opening on two sides of the house, it was pretty nicely kept and looked more modern [p. 59] {p. 53} inside than outside, when I was there it was very old fashioned even for those days for the mistress was old then and so was the master and their children were married & gone, and so they boarded the “school marm,” and the men who worked for them on the farm. I went to the East door at the end of the long kitchen and entry and looked out into the meadows where the sweet scented hayfields were green when I left them in that memorable summer, and the tears were in my eyes and my throat had a great sob in it but I had to choke it down & drying my eyes I summoned all my courage to face my sister again. Yet why should I care why do we care for being discovered in tears? O the flood of emotions that swept my soul on that day, and the memories recalled in gazing upon the scenes [p. 60] {p. 54} to remembrance ever dear. After coming out I told my sister I would walk on to the place where the little red school house once stood so that I might go over the old ground as I had once trod on it when my heart was as light as the birds that know no sorrow; on I trudged meditating upon the past and every sound reminding me of the days that were gone never to return, at last I halted and William said it was the very spot where the place had once stood. A thousand recollections thronged upon me, and I turned and left the spot asking William to drive on for I was to full for utterance. The road was the same one I had once or twice passed over with James [Harvey Harris] going and coming from his father’s on that interesting occasion when he had asked me to become his wedded wife. We stopped at West Orange at the house of Joseph Orcutt whose wife was my [p. 61] {p. 55} Cousin Eleanor Rand, her mother21 my father’s22 sister by his father23 but not by the mother.24 Here we staid for tea and drove home after dark, our souls full of reflections that one could not banish. Tired and almost exhausted we retired early to bed, but I was too wide awake to sleep & my spirit reached out towards the unknown and it was long before I could close my eyes. Visions of the long ago filled my brain and my whole soul was in a tumult of thought and imagery. I wandered over old pastures and in and out of groves and forests, and among ferns and lilies and stood by the rippling streams & saw the bright sparkling little fish dart up and down. All was as of old and I seemed to glow with youth and pleasure, the very perfume of the hemlock and pine was in the air and the humming birds were singing and nodding in the juniper tree and mother was there and we were all so happy– [p. 62] {p. 56}

29 December 1885 • Tuesday

<Dec. 29, 1885 Dec. 30, 1885> I called on Warren Andrews with William

I had arranged to go to Athol with Elzina Emery Haskins and I persuaded Pallas to go with me. We went over to Lilian’s for dinner and went to the depot found Elzina and arriving at Athol called at the residence of Mrs. Lysander Richardson sister of Mr. Miller of the Omaha Herald. She was not at home and so we went out to see the town, and Pallas and I went to see Parney Clark Foster her husband’s sister. We went home early and to Lilian’s to supper. Staid awhile in the evening and arranged to go to Wendell & Salem Hill next day. Dec. 29. 1885

30 December 1885 • Wednesday

<Dec. 30.> Morning came & Lilian and Horace [H. Ramsey] and away we went on our day’s jount. Everything looked quite natural until we came to the place where the great beech woods had been cut away, and that was a disappointment indeed. Further we came into the old road where I used to go to school where Miss Sarah J. Field taught and where I had so often walked alone when the little squirrels would run across the path and partridges flutter and fly and startle me sometimes [p. 63] {p. 57} out of my childish reveries. Here I gathered some evergreens and cheekaberries [checkerberries] & we drove on and on and then around the hill that wound so curiously about the red schoolhouse under the hill. There it stood and out we climbed Lilian and I and tried the door, it was locked, but we climbed up on the high rocks & looked in at the windows. It was not altered in any particular. The old-style benches their grades or departments of seats, the low desk in the centre of the end from the door, the little funny looking boxstove, all was the same. There had been a country festivity of some sort and the place sort of decorated with evergreens and boughs which gave it a very pleasant appearance to me. Then we drove towards Salem Hill, through a beautiful district of country, past the Porter district and places once familiar now gone to rack and ruin mostly & scarce a new one built, or an old man or woman to tell the story of the long <ago> [p. 64] {p. 58}

Reaching Salem Hill we saw the old common of which we used to be so proud, the Academy but it looked so very small to what it used to be in my youthful eyes, the Church seemed very little changed; we saw Mrs. Charles Haskell once Miss [Prudence] Stearns and Sabrina Phillips a schoolmate of the long ago. She was very natural and very glad to see me. We drove thro’ the town and over to Augustus Holden’s then we baited the team and had something to eat. An out of the way place and rather romantic as a big pine woods was right at the back of it. We saw his wife25 and sister Martha [Holden] (an old maid and an invalid) and also a niece Mrs. Alice [Whitaker] Stone & husband26 who lived with his sister Mrs. Proctor Whittaker,27 the mother also of Mrs. Stone. After this we drove home taking in the North Village and North Pond as we went, passing by the grave yard enroute. [p. 65] {p. 59} arriving home safe but tired. The evening was spent in cheerful conversation and remniscences of old times thinking over this and that, and recalling names and incidents forgotten, and then when the hour for retiring came I went up stairs to write.

31 December 1885 • Thursday

Thursday Dec. 31. The morning seemed rather dismal but we started off with a span of horses and covered carriage for Petersham. Horace drove Lilian sat with him and Pallas and I behind on the back. We drove on around past Athol & coming into a corner of New Salem we drove to a wood where we found in a turn of the road the old red house where Mrs. Lucy Harris Blackington lived James’ mother.28 She had been very hard and cruel to me in the days that were past and I had never quite forgiven her for the unkindness and the suffering she had caused me & those dear to me to pass thro’ [p. 66] {p. 60}

It was raining a little I went in alone, she did not recognize me at all, it would have been stranger still if she had after so many years. But she denied stoutly any desire to treat me harshly at the same time she wanted to have taken my baby29 from me which would have been worse than death to me, it was a part of myself only dearer still. But that was in that dreadful past when I suffered such untold agonies, and have I not suffered intensely & has it been a means of purification. God alone knoweth, and if I shall ever meet James again and whether if I do, he will be anything to me, or even a friend. Our baby lies where no human power can touch it, we do not even know the spot, but we know it was one of the victims of that terrible persecution which laid so many of the Saints in an untimely grave. It is harrowing to one’s feelings to revert to those days of sorrow [p. 67] {p. 61} and yet for one like myself whose soul has been tortured thus how can we help it. Time modifies somewhat those severe afflictions or how could we endure them. After conversing with the old lady who is over ninety for some time and giving her a copy of my paper and buying her photograph I took my departure joining the others in the carriage and we drove on towards Dana. By this time the rain was pouring but we drove on past North Dana with its old fashioned meeting house and dwellings, all seemed so quiet, and at last we reached the old town or nearly so we came upon the grave yard where my father30 and sister31 and ancestry were buried. The rain was pouring, it was buried in trees, and the old stone wall was covered with moss, we went through the wet grass and shrubbery to the graves but we could not linger as we [p. 68] {p. 62} wished because of the falling rain. With tearful eyes and a pain in the heart we went on and passed the wooded hill where the terrible accident occurred that left us fatherless, and passed the house where father was taken after he was hurt, before he died for he could not be brought so far as his own home. On and on to the Old Factory Village32 where I was born. I knew the place pretty well that is the situation of it and it looked so far familiar, but the old mill woolen and dye house and carding machine were all gone and that made such an alteration in its appearance, the Swift river still flowed on its course, but to no purpose seemingly. The great rocks in the middle of it were there, time had not worn them away much apparently, we turned the corner to go to grandfather’s,33 what a host of memories came up before me then. My earliest impressions of the dear old [p. 69] {p. 63} man and of the farm, the house was changed for it was red as I had known it now it was yellow, some of the many barns and out houses remained but most of them were removed & the great elms that stood like sentinels each side the door way were gone. We drove up and had our team put out. An old deaf and dumb couple lived in the house, and made us a cup of tea we had brought our own lunch. I was very much affected and could scarcely overcome my emotions sufficient to be calm, I went into every nook and corner upstairs and down, but it was much changed and it disappointed me; the great chimney with its open fireplace had been taken out and a smaller one built instead. The beaufet [buffet] in the parlor was gone and in grand father’s East room where he slept and sat most of his later life was made much smaller and the [p. 70] {p. 64} corner fireplace and cupboard over it were gone. This room opened on to the meadow, where the fragrant smell of the clover and butter cups came in with the morning air. The house and farm are terribly neglected but still very dear and almost sacred to me. We staid as long as we dared and the rain was still pouring. Pallas and I went up the hill and around where the road seemed to turn passing the Old Blanchard House where I used to go and play with the children, then on to the house where Pallas was born which was the next one. Here we went in Wm. Woodward a distant relative lived there, Pallas knew him and he was quite glad to see us. He had a very large family & quite small children. He gave us some apples that had been raised on the place we also got some that were out of grandfather’s orchard. After this we started home driving past the schoolhouse where my first lessons were learned though [p. 71] {p. 65} it has all been rebuilt since then, and the place where I was born, and also where we lived after father’s untimely death, and before mother married again and moved to New Salem.34

Then we went up Petersham Hill quite famed in those parts for its heighth and length, going that way I saw many places I remembered and my sister Pallas knew most of the changes that had taken place, and who was dead and gone and who were the survivors of the old families and those that had become extinct & other places filled by new people. The old Churches have been remodeled somewhat and probably some of the cast iron rules of the former times have been toned down or have given place to new and advanced ideas, of civilization. The rain still poured and just after passing through the centre of the town, the darkness came on and we were indeed in the [p. 72] {p. 66} dark as well as in the rain. But we drove carefully on, through miles of woodland it seemed to me, and at last reached Athol where the lights seemed specially grateful. On and on three miles further and Orange is reached at last and we are so tired, but we are also so full of thought that we could not give utterance to it all even had we been less exhausted. We had a comfortable supper, Wm. had prepared it, and went to bed very much exhausted. It had been a day of days a red letter day indeed to me, and one never to be forgotten. My sister asked me if I remembered an old rhyme the boys and girls used to repeat that gave a pretty good idea of the existing feeling in those days and is very expressive

Salem for beauty

Petersham for pride

If it had not been for codfish

Dana would have died [p. 73] {p. 67}

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December 1885, The Diaries of Emmeline B. Wells, accessed June 19, 2024