ALD, My Children Grew, and History Repeated

There is a great deal I can write but I am old and get tired. Things went on as usual. My sister Jeannie had five children., I had four, and George three. On October 27th my son Philip Clayton was born. A friend said he was the prettiest baby he had ever seen. Sadie, I thing*, was just as pretty but all my children were. And although they had all the diseases known to children went safely through all, with no trained nurse and no hospital. Beside the ordinary diseases my father and mother had frequent attacks of jaundice and rheumatism. I nursed them too.

(think*)

When Philip was a year old I had a desperate illness and was an invalid for five years, lying on a chair which my brother John sent me from New York. My mother and Mollie and Elsie were in Wythville visiting but came home at once. I gave up the choir. My mother took charge of everything and my family came as usual. When Phil was three years old, John was married in October in Lexington to Gertrude, the draught of John Randolph Tucker. Mercer was married a few days before in Wythville to Elizabeth Kent Caldwell. They went to John’s wedding and both met at my home. I was still on the bed or chair. My house had only four bedrooms, but by crowding my little flock I managed to take them in. We had a week of festivity. Edith went to John’s marriage and was with us a few days. Then they all left. I could not have done a thing without my mother.

The next event was horrible. My dear beautiful Philip, in the absence of his nurse who had to fill the cooks place was burned almost to death. He swallowed the flames and our good doctor Wiley had gone to the country. I never saw such bravery as the little fellow showed as I sat with him in my arms for three hours until I was numb from head to foot. I gave him a dose of laudanum and for a while he alpet*. When he awakened he began to sing Jesus Meek and Gentle, and although he could hardly articulate his eyes and throat were so swollen, he would try to sing and would say, “why don’t the Doc come on?” and then sing again. Oh God, how he suffered and how I agonized watching him, but never a murmur escaped his poor swollen lips. I nursed him without help, up night and day, kneeling by his cradle for six weeks, without changing my clothes except for the wash. I sang until I was hoarse.

(*slept)

Friends were king, especially my cousin Robert Logan, Mrs. Blair, Mr Langhorn, Dr. Wiley and Dr. Armstrong, God bless them all. And then in January he had scarlett fever and they were agin* kind. Dear little boy, how patient and lovely you were. It seems impossible that I have lived without him. His face was sadly disfigured but its beauty was restored.

(*again)

Things went on. Mollie and Elsie went to school to Aunt Mollie Barnet. All the children went to her. She was a dear old lady. When the children all had the measles John was the sickest. Elsie fell and broke her arm and agin* I had a time. She had a compound fracture of the elbow and was very nervous, suffered so terribly with indigestion and the inconveniente* of the way her arm was bandaged.

(*again, *inconvenience)

Phil had to be brought out of doors to me for his food and took cold and was ill with pneumonia and poor John had chilblains on his heel. He suffered greatly. My whole time was taken up with Elsie who would not allow anyone to come in the room. This was 1881, and should have come in before. Phil was burned in 1883 and had scarlet fever in 1884. The family came as usual.

The summer of 1884 George brought his family, Joe, George, and Louise. They rented rooms across the street and took meals with us. Louise was a very attractive child and pretty. George rented Miss Betty Coles’ house. She was a first cousin of my Aunt Martha and a distant cousin of my father. She was much attached to us. She died the summer before.

I wish I could tell all the smart little speeches of my children, but I suffer so with my back after I write. Philip and Mollie said the brightest things. Mollie came from school quite indignant and threw her books on the bed.

“I shall never go to that teacher again!”

I inquired into her grievance. The teacher had heard someone else in her time.

She said, “I just let her know I am as much of a person as anybody.” And she would not go again.

Phil was a mimic and kept us in roars of laughter. He would say his prayers most devoutly and tell God exactly what he must do. He would say, now God, they all say I must be good. It is all your fault. If you will just kill the Devil all the boys will be good.

Whatever he wanted he would kneel down and ask for it. All this he did when three or four years old.

Elsie did some cunning things. One day I noticed little slits in the new carpet. She said, “Oh, I cut those button holes. Aren’t they nice ones?” She was very proud of them. Another day she cut every bud from the Devonshire roses, much to my mother’s horror. Sadie was pretty and a little mother to John and Phil.

One day after the earthquake John and Phil sat on the side porch discussing it. Phil said, “John, what do you think God sent that earthquake for?” John was always a solemn child. He deliberated a while and then said, “I reckon Phil, God saw that people had gotten used to thunderstorms and wind and he thought would try something else to let them know he was still up there..”

Dear John and Phil. That may account for the late terrible war. Laura Lee Grant was with us. It was distinctly felt. Pictures were knocked down from the wall and dishes knocked off the table. It was a horrible disaster. My Uncle Joseph Logan of Atlanta came often to Salem to see us with his first wife, Aunt Ann Eliza and daughter Jeanie Laura. Uncle Joe afterwards married Alice Clark, now living in California. Uncle Joe was a handsome, clever man. We always enjoyed their visits.

Edith, my sister was married at our house. I gave her a beautiful breakfast. Mollie and Ellen Blair, Elsie and Julie Burdell were her attendants. It was a pretty wedding. If I had more time I would write a description. Edith married Mr. Thomas L. Hurt of Molloway county. She had three children Eldridge, Sadie, and Carrie. Dear Edith, so whole souled and generous, and very pretty. John, Joe, George, Strother and also my generous husband all helped and gave her presents. Every summer the family met at our house. John and wife lived in New York, After Strother graduated he went to New York to live, was at first in a bank and afterwards in newspaper work. He was very successful. My brother Joe was married to Georgine Washington Willis of Orange county Virginia. Mercer, John and Strother went to the wedding. Mollie also went. They went to New York on a bridal trip. Mollie had a lovely visit. She was old enough to remember it. That fall she went to Wythville to school to Mrs. Dew. She had a very nice time and was over at Mercer’s and Lizzie’s a great deal. She remembers those days with much pleasure.

The next event of interest was 1888, the “Golden Wedding”. A description of this was written by our good friend Dr. Oscar Wiley which I copy here. We all enjoyed this. Georgine and Lizzie came a few days ahead and we worked hard. I had so many in the house, and my room and the children’ nursery had to be converted into rooms for entertainment which necessitated very constant work.

We had a large and happy gathering, a great many presents. There was one dark cloud, the absence of John and Gertrude. John’s health was seriously affected. He was ordered to Idaho and had been appointed Judge in Idaho, and of course could not come. The children at the Golden Wedding looked so pretty. Phil was 8, John 10, Sadie 12, Elsie 14, Mollie 16. Mollie went to Richmond to Mr. Powell’s school. She and Ellen boarded with Aunt Kenningham Claiborne while there. Mollie had Roseola and used her eyes imprudently. Soon she could not go on. Her eyes have given her trouble ever since.

The same year I got a teacher for the others. All were going to school. She was a very smart, well educated woman and a fine teacher, but very disagreeable and unpleasant member of the family. I was in wretched health. Had I been well, I think things would have been different. She was very hateful to my dear mother and the children but pleasant to me. She stayed the first year well enough, but we did not keep her all the last session.

My mother went to visit Joe at Union and carried Elsie and Sadie. They had a nice visit. There they met the Peels, Englishmen who afterwards came to Salem and lived, buying property, etc. I can’t tell what they did. It would fill a book.

The girls had very nice trips. Sadie, Mollie, and Elsie went to the Chicago Exposition with the Langhornes and Gilmer Patton and enjoyed it. Elsie and Mollie went to Albion New York to visit Pearly Curtis. They spent some time finding it very delightful. They spent some time in a cottage on Lake Ontario. Before this trip Elsie went to Baltimore to school to Mrs. Tutwiler, Mt. Vernon Institute. Here Elsie won all honors. Her health improved very much and she made firm friends. Mrs. Tutwiler invited Mollie to visit Elsie and the next summer Mrs. Tutwiler visited Elsie. A very charming woman. I think she had a lively time, and our friends were so attentive. Sadie went to school to Mrs. Gay, who established a fine school in Salem. John and Phil went to college preparatory school with Professor C.B. Cannady in charge. It was very satisfactory. They afterward went to Roanoke College.

About Dawn Quarles

Dawn Quarles is a high school political science and American history teacher who moonlights as a blogger and writer. She lives on Pensacola Beach, Florida.

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