Reminiscences of the Patterson
by Leon D. Palmer
Being an account of the happenings of
an Irish family who
immigrated to the United States from about 1840 to 1900.
Spelling has not been corrected and left as Mr. Palmer wrote this work.
Pages 63 - 82
Fighting the measels, and trying my hand at being a Nurse.
Time passed very pleasantly at Mrs. Parkers, 152 East Milwaukee St. I continued on the "slow freight line", at Valentine's school and I believe I was learning as fast as the average student. Along the last of February I could take or receive about ten words a minute, but many letters that were ticked off I would get wrong. My roommate Art Demerritt had been there several months and was over on the more advanced "city line" or row of tables. He before coming to Janesville had worked in a railroad station and had learned telegraphy there but he could not get speed enough so he had come to Valentines to spend the winter and get practice and "speed" so to become a full fledged operator.
Gerald Rider or the boys called him "Jerry", he was not progressing at all. If I remember he was not getting any where. He could not write very good, his spelling was very poor, and I found he had not had any more schooling than I had had. He was discouraged, and had found that telegraphy was not to be learned as easy as Valentines "rosy" advertisements,( for him at least) had pictured. And to crown all he came down with the measles that last week in February. He was not very sick at first and laid around on the couch in Mrs. Parker's liveing room. He did not know what the matter was untill he commenced to break out with red purple blotches, and then Mrs. Parker says "boy you have got the measels" and she laughed and told him he had better go to bed and stay a few days. If I remember he did not do this, said he dident want to be sick in bed and wasent going to be so continued to lay on the couch. I was thunder struck I had never had the measels and I knew very well that I would have them, but there was nothing I could do about it but just stay right there and have them. So sure enough it was only a very few days before my head commenced to ache, I felt mean and feaverish and I commenced to have a hacking cough. I was really sick, I was only to glad to get into bed and stay there. The Parker family and Art Demerritt and Pat Fanning all had had the measels and seemed to thing they were a joke. As I continued to stay in bed in my room and did not come down stairs to meals Mrs. parker good motherly soul that she was, come up to see how I was. She says to me, "Mr. Palmer I believe you really have got the measels." I told her I knew I had something I'm aful sick, and I found I could not stand on my feet without getting faint. She says "you are not broken out yet I am going to have the doctor come up and see you". So a Dr. James Mills called to see me. He found my temperature 103 and he gave me some hot firey medicine and Mrs. Parker to put some hot fruit cans of water around me and at my feet cover me up warm and pull the window shades down and keep the room dimly lighted. He called again the next day and said I was comeing fine. I was too sick to take much notice of any thing. I felt so weak, it was an effort to roll over in bed. I had purple pimples all over me and the light hurt my eyes. The next day the Dr.
called again and said I should feel better in a few days but cautioned me to stay in bed and dont be in a hurry to get up. I did feel a little easier my fever had gone down, but I was very weak and all that I wanted was cold water. The Dr. said dont drink to much cold water at a time. Art Demerritt my room mate deserves a lot of credit as well as Mrs. parker for "Art" attended to my wants, gave me my medicine on time which the Dr. had left for me, and got me water to drink, and after I had commenced to feel better he would bring me something to eat that Mrs. Parker had got ready for me. Nothing tasted good to eat for a good many days. I drank hot coffee which tasted good and a small dish of oat flake and milk. I sent down to the store by Arthur, and got some oranges. They seemed to taste good tho Art warned me not to eat to many of them. He it seems, had not been brought up to eat any great amount of fruit. He thought the oranges would make me sick.
Meanwhile Gerald Rider had been convalesceing from his attack of measels down stairs on the couch in Mrs. Parkers liveing room and each day had been going out doors into the cold winter air, and taking short walks down town. He had taken cold and was feeling much worse, so much worse, that he two was glad to come up stairs and go into his room and get into bed. And he was glad to stay there he couldent get out. I heard Mrs. Parker come up stairs and go into his room and heard her tell Rider, that he was a foolish boy to not have stayed in doors and took care of himself, but Rider was to sick to make much of a reply. Soon Dr. Mills was called and he was given the while history of Riders case by Mrs. Parker. I heard Him say "Poor foolish boy" and he left some medicine and gave some instructions to Mrs. Parker and Demerritt which I did not hear, as I lay in bed in my room a short distance down the hall from "Pats" and Riders room. I was begining to feel much better in so much that I could set up in bed and eat but was still to weak to stand on my feet for any length of time. After Dr. Mills had finished in Riders room he came in to my room, just to see how I was progressing. Dr. Mills was an old man probably around 70, he made me think some of John Miller of North Lansing with his long white hair. He says to me. "Dont you be of any hurry to get out of bed you stay here untill you feel well able to get up", and in an under tone of voice so Rider in the next room would not hear, he says "That boy in the next room is very sick, he got up and out doors two soon. Hes got a chill and a relapse, and I am afraid he will have pneumonia in spite of us", and looking me over he says "The measels are not any fun are they?" Hows your eyes? My eyes were bad the light seemed to hurt them and they were sore. He said "Ill bring you some drops to put in them the next time I come which he did the next day. Those drops were just like butter color in my eyes I could not see much for a time after he put some of them in, but they seemed to feel a lot better. Poor Rider was no better and the Dr. continued to come every day for several days.
Thanks to Dr. Milles'es tonic that he left for me and his butter color eye drops I continued to gain and soon set up in a chair longer and longer a time each day, and I was able to walk in and see and help take care of Rider. "Pat" Fanning, Riders, room mate obtained a room some place else while Rider was so ill.
Demerritt my faithful room mate seemed to assume the responsibility of careing for him, and I helped also. I believe Demerritt stayed out of school for a day or two while Ryder was worst. He continued to get worse for several days, He had a high fever and he begain to breathe in short gasps. Dr. Milles told us and Mrs. Parker to make up some flax seed poultices, very large ones and they must be keep hot on his chest and back. So an oil heater was brought up stairs and placed in his room on which to heat the poultice bags, and Mrs. Parker made up sets one set to be heating while the other set of poultices was in use. If I remember a right we keept those flaxseed poultices hot on him for two days and nights. Dr. Mills called twice each day and once in the evening. I know he was worried Rider was delerious and completely out of his head for a day or two. He was burning up with fever and was gasping for breath. He would throw and kick the clothes off of him self at times and Art Demerritt and I would hold the bed quilts down one of us on each side of the bed. The night he was the worst, Demerritt and I were discouraged tired, and scared. We were afraid he was going to die. Ryder was moaning and talking gibberish, it was nearly midnight. Demerritt say to me "Hes gone plumb loco. Hear him breath, hes going to die". "Art" had some queer western expressions. I asked him what "plumb loco" ment. He replied that out west in the late summer when grass was short there was a weed that grew called the loco weed and horses and stock would eat it when forced to do so from lack of other grass and it made them loco or crazy. That night was a very cold winters night out doors. Mrs. Parker next door neighbor Dr. Manley keept a dog, and all at once the dog stared howling like mad and keept it up for a long time. Why he howled like that I dont no. "Art" listened in silence for a few minutes startled like. Then he turns to me "Do you know what that means"? I says, no, what does it mean? It means that some one is going to die around here. Ive always heard that when a dog howls it means there is some one going to die in the neighborhood." The cold chills seemed to run down my back. I dident believe in any such superstition but it sounded very weird at that. I replied that I hoped not and asked who had given him that idea. He said the Indians used to say so and "I tell you they were smart people". I made the comment "That no doubt they were but probably there was a lot of things to, that the Indians dident know."
The dog finally stopped howling much to our relief and as Ryder seemed to be in a doze and resting more quite I went to bed and after thinking about the "howling dog" a spell went to asleep myself.
I awoke at day light and getting up I tiptoed into Riders room. Demerritt sat in a chair sound asleep. Rider was asleep to, but the bed clothes were partly off o him. I made haste to cover him up. Soon Demerritt woke up as also did Ryder. He whispered in rather low voice: "What time is it". He seemed to breathe better, and his head and body was not as hot, and he coughed and expectoreated a rusty red colored mucus. He had not done this before. Dr. Milles called that forenoon and was much pleased. Said he was a lot better but warned Ryder to stay in bed. There was not much danger of his getting out of bed for a few days at least, but he did continue to gain slowly at first and soon was sitting up in bed and in a rocking chair.
William Dunn of Shopfire
"Jerry" Ryder continued to gain, and I assumed the care of him. I to was on the gain, but I tired out easy, and had to lie down, and rest, frequently. Going up stairs would tire me all out. Arthur Demerritt went to school, Pat Fanning came back and entertained us on his violin, and how Ryder did talk. He blamed Valentines for being sick and everything that had happened to him. He did not want anything more to do with telegraphy. He was done! He was through! and talked of how nice it would be to work on a farm! but I found out he dident know much about farming. It was about the 25th of March when Ryder commenced to sit up. A few days latter I strolled out doors to see how it would seem one sunny day. The fresh air done me good, I had been shut up in the house almost four weeks. I did not dare walk very far at first. I wondered what the weather was back in New York State. I received a letter nearly every week from mother. She of coarse was worried about me. I know I was a great anxiety to her and caused her many heart aches. She felt I was lost to her forever. William Patterson had hired James Fanning to work for him that summer. Sammy Stevnson was working for Ed Strait. Ed lived over on the Green Farm near Genoa. Ralph Hare and Ethel lived in the Dennis Kelley house and Ralph had hired out to John Buckley. Floyd Demond had married Minnie Boyles and they lived on the Abe Robinson place and he too worked for Buckley. All this news made me think of New York State and wish I too was going to work for Buckley again. I had been sick and cooped up in the house so long that the urge to get out in the country was irresistible. A few days latter about April 1st I went back to Valentines School. I had lost just one months time. The boys I had been with a month ago were now advanced over on the next row of tables the fast fright line. This made me feel discouraged, at the time thus lost, and I was under par and soon tired out. The Clatter and noise from all those telegraph instruments made me nervious. The air in the school room seemed suffocating, and I quit and walked back up the street to Mrs. Parker's feeling blue, tired out, and discouraged. I laid myself down on the bed in my room and rested. I went to school each day fro several days but my ears and eyes soon seemed to tire and commenced to ache. The dots and dashes would seem to run all together I couldent do as well as I could a month ago. I was disgusted with my self. One day I think it was about April 7 or 8th I was resting in my room. Mrs. Parker came to the door and says, there's a gentlemen here that wants to see you. Surprised, and wondering who under the sun could be wanting to see me, I went downstairs. A small middle aged man sat in a chair holding his hat in his hand. "Are you Mr. Palmer" he asked. I says "Yes, and continueing he says "I am Mr. Dunn. I am a farmer. My hired man was supposed to come on to work on April 1st and he did not show up, so today I came to Janesville to see if I could get a man to work for me, this summer. I called down to Valentines school and asked some of the boys there if they would want to work out on a farm, or if not, did they know of any one who would? They told me to come up and see you. Did you ever work on a farm? Can you milk? and drive
horses? And he asked a lot of questions which I could answer Yes, to, but I says Ive been sick and I don't feel like I should yet. He replied that he wished I would ride home with him and stay a day or two see where he lived and we could talk it over.
Well here was a chance to get out in the country for me, so I got my over coat and cap and went along with him. We went down to Charlie Wards bus and livery stable where Mr. Dunn had a team hitched on a light road wagon, and we were soon driveing out on the dirt road into the country. The roads were fierce mud hub deep in some places with mud. Mr. Dunn said his farm was about 8 miles south east of Janesville in the town of La Prairie. The nearest small place was called Shophire. He said his wife was a sister to Charlie Ward and was staying in Janesville with her folks for a day or two, and that he and I would have to keep bachelors hall untill she and the children came back, he said he could cook as well as run a farm, as he had worked in a restaurant. Mr. William Dunn was an Englishman and was born in London, England, having come over to this country about 1894. He at ne time ran a clothing store in London. He was a small man weighing 125 lbs. He told me all of these things as we rode toard his home. He had a beautiful pair of bay horses named Fly and Flo. We arrived at his farm, a low down white house back of which was a large nearly new red barn. A windmill was pumping water as we drove in the yard back of the house. I noticed all the places we came bye each place had a windmill. Mr. Dunn said all water had to be pumped from deep wells by windmills for the stock. The country was level, slightly rolling in some places.
I helped him unhitch the horses and put them in the barn, as it was nearly night. He started doing chores, and I followed him around and helped where ever I could. He had 28 head of cows, consisting of 15 milk cows, eight hefers and five steers, 22 sheep, six horses in all and three brood sows and pigs. The cows were not all milking then. I helped him milk and then we went in the house, built a fire and had supper. I was begining to eat. My appetite was comeing back, but I was tired that night, after supper Mr. Dunn said he had got to got to the chappel to prayer meeting as it was Wednesday night and he would like me to go along. I would have preferred to have got into bed, but of course I went along. Mr. Dunn hitched up a fresh team of grey horses this time and we arrived at the "chappel", a small church or meeting house, I believe about two or three miles west of his place, arriveing about sundown. There was quite a number of people there. Service commenced and closed soon afterward. A short reading from the bible and prayers by many in the congregation. They all asked fro the Lords protection for the rest of the comeing week. The leader of the meeting was very pointed in his remarks, what a few he made. He said that if those young people in the back row and the stranger in their midst did not give their hearts to the Lord and join the church they would go to hell. Meeting soon closed and Mr. Dunn made haste to get back home where we arrived at about 9:30. He showed me a bed upstairs in which to sleep and I dident tarry long about getting in and was sound asleep in a few minutes and dident sence another thing until day light the next
morning when Mr. Dunn hellowed up the stairs about 5 o'clock, and I got up, dressed and helped him do some chores. That day, Thursday I helped him husk corn all day, he had two big stacks of it near the barn left over from last year. Friday fore noon we husked and he said in the afternoon we would go up to Janesville and get Mrs. Dunn and of course take me back and he wanted to hire me, and I was anxious to work and get back some of the money I had spent the past winter, so I hired out to him for $26. a month. I felt sure that a telegraph operator was no job for me not the way I felt then any way. I had it planned out in my mind that the next fall or winter after I had got my finances replenished, I might try again. So Mr. Dunn let me take a big black horse on a light platform wagon which I drove to Janesville and got my trunk at Mrs. Parker's. Mr. Dunn drove his bay team on a surry to Janesville also to bring home Mrs. Dunn in and the children. I followed him with the black horse, this horse ahd contracted feet caused by working so much on the pavement in Janesville, as Charles Wards had had her. This mare walked crooked all over the road I never say a horse with feet like that before. I drove into town feeling quite jubilent. I passed William Parker on the side walk. He stoped and gazed at me in astonishment and shouted to me "Palmer where did you pick up that rig?" I says "I found it, " and drove on up the street to Mrs. Parker's where I got my trunk. One of the boys helped me load it. I settled up with Mrs. Parker and bid her good bye. She told me when I came to Janesville to call around and see them. Ryder was just begining to get around on his feet. He coughed aful and looked pretty bad. It was the last I ever saw of him. I corresponded with him some that summer. I drove around to Charlie Wards and hitched the horse after getting my trunk as I wished to get a pair of shoes and I believe boots to work in out on the farm. Mr. Dunn was soon ready and I followed him back to his place driveing the black horse with my trunk. Mrs. Dunn was a lady about one head taller then Mr. Dunn. They had five children, all girls, Elenor the oldest age 9, Agnes, Irene, Hazel, and the baby Edith. They were a lively bunch of children, Mrs. Dunn was a good cook and how I did eat! We continued to husk out the corn and do chores. The nearest neighbor was a German family by the name of Herman Krupps, He drawed the milk to Shophire for Mr. Dunn and I believe several others. There was a creamery there. Other places that Mr. Dunn sometimes went on business were Avalon and Clinton.
Away to the south in the distance sometimes smoke could be seen comeing from the factory chimmenys in the city of Beloit over the state line in Illnois. The weather grew warmer and soon Mr. Dunn and I started plowing, for spring grain. Mr. Dunn had a sulky gang plow which plowed two furrows at once, he hitched on four horses, and i had a walking plow and two horse team. The plow was a steel plow and had a sharp disk wheel on in front called a colter, in place of the jointer to cut the sod and dirt. We each had a file along with us to sharpen this disk wheel occasionally. The ground the most of it was a black loam mellow and there was not a stone ot be found. It was easy plowing.
When the plow was adjusted aright it would glide along and run itself with out your hands touching the handles. There was no stones to throw the plow out, turning three furrows every round we could plow four to six acres a day and Mr. Dunn said he and his man had plowed eight acres. All harrowing was done with a four horse team. They were a hard team to drive for me at first. The farm consisted of 160 acres of land. They called it a quarter of a section. We plowed 80 acres that spring, 40 acres was sowed to oats and barley and 40 acres planted to corn. The rest of the farm was hay and pasture. The eight hefers and five steers Mr. Dunn had were taken away to pasture some where on Turtle creek a stream away to the south that flowed into Rock River. As the weather grew warmer every day about nine o'clock the wind would commence to blow and would continue to do so untill near sun down. This is a characterist of the prairie country. All the sod ground was infested with gophers, a small animal that looked very much like a chip monk. These little animals would sit up on their hannches and whistle at you. It was interesting to watch them. On Sundays I had the day to myself except I of course had to help do the chores. Mr. and Mrs. Dunn and the children went to chappel to meeting and they wanted me to go along, but I was to tired, I spent the day resting in bed mostly. Mr. and Mrs. Dunn where Wesleyn Methodists so I gathered from their talk. Mr. Dunn always went to prayer meeting on Wednesday eve. By their talk the leader of the sect had (to use a slang expression of latter years) gone haywire on on religion and was driveing a lot of people away from church by his insistance on their joining it. I received a letter every week from Mother and Lila back in New York State. They were not very cheerful letters far from it. Mother and William were missing me back there. Sometime in March William had slipped on the ice and gotten under a horses feet and had injured his chest and arm, but he recovered after a time. James Fanning the hired man could not milk very well and mother had to milk most of the cows on the place, her hands and arms were tireing out. All this and more she wrote and it did not put me in a very cheerful state of mind. I managed to write them a letter nearly every week, but could not write a very cheerful letter to them either. I was haveing troubles of my own.
Mr. Dunn the driver
Working for Mr. Dunn was nearly my undoing. My time commenced on the 10th day of April. I hired out to him with the distinct understanding that i had been sick and was not quite able to keep my end up and do a mans work for a time at least, and Mr. Dunn said I could take things moderate at first untill I got on my feet again, so we husked the corn which was a sitting down job, but to one had been sick in bed with a fever at the 103 point only one month before it was tiresome. I should not have commenced working at all for another two or three weeks at least, but I was so anxious to get out doors and be up and doing again, that it overruled my better judgment. Mr. and Mrs. Dunn were very nice likeable people, but Mr. Dunn was a driver, and I did not get my strength and stamina, back as fast as Mr. Dunn expected. When I went to bed at night I would drop asleep it seemed almost instantly, and when Mr. Dunn pounded on my door at 4:30 the next morning I would find myself in the same position I was in when I got in bed the night before. I was useing all the strength I had trying to keep my end up. Mr. Dunn thought I was lazy or shirking. After calling me he always went over in the pasture and got the cows himself. A climax came one morning when he gave me a bawling out.
said he never had to get the cows in the morning before and he was not going to do it. We had 15 cows to milk, who ever got the seven cows milked first, had to milk the eighth. When I was in perfectly normal health I could milk cows as fast as any person that lived, but that spring my arms and hands tired and it was all I could do sometimes to finish the seventh cow, and Mr. Dunn had to milk that eighth cow, and I suspected him sometimes of slowing up trying to get that eighth cow on to me. He hired the next door neighbor Herman Krupps to draw the milk to the creamery at Shophire and he was always there by 6 o'clock and sometimes before every morning. Sometimes we were not done milking and he had to wait. This irritated Mr. Dunn and I guess the German to. They blamed it all on to me because I dident milk faster.
At night Mr. Dunn would never quit work in the field untill 6 o'clock. Then we would eat supper and milk the cows and do the other chores after ward and it was always eight o'clock before the chores and the days work was done. At noon he never seemed to want to let me sit down and rest for even a minute. The minute dinner was eaten and I got up from the table Mr. Dunn would say "We will get the horses out and get going." He was on the hop, skip and jump every minute. He found some fault with my "down east" ways as he called them. I couldent plow a furrow strait enough to suit him. We started in drawing out manure from the bard yard on the corn ground. He gave me a wagon and team and himself took a wagon and team and he expected me to load my wagon as fast as he did his. I did keep up with him for nearly one forenoon, and then I just had to slow up or I could not have lasted untill night. I had not said much in reply to Mr. Dunn before, but I told him that day I could not pitch as fast as he, that I was tired and not able to do it, and that if he was not satisfied with me to take me back to
All he replied was that he was paying me top wages and he expected me to do a mans work. We got through cleaning the barn yard and Mr. Dunn told me one morning to take the team and drive over to Shophire and get the horses shoed and while there go to a Doctors and tell him that Mr. Dunn sent me and let the Dr. give me a going over and see if anything was the matter with me, which I did. I told the Dr. all about how I had a high fever with the measels back in March and my main complaint was that I tired out easy. The Dr. was sympathetic and gave me a looking over said he guessed I needed a tonic gave me some tablets to take and sid he believed my knees would stiffen up under me soon. It gave me a short rest that forenoon going to Shophire, and we started in plowing corn ground.
On Sunday I would stay in bed nearly all day. If it had not been for this rest up I should have completely given out. Mr. Dunns people asked me to go to chapple with them to meeting. I replied that I would be glad to go, but I needed the rest and went to bed instead. The children bothered me some times and would shout up the stairs, "Going to stay in bed all day." When it was warm enough some Sundays I would go out back of the barn and over along a fence beside some bushes and would lie on the ground and watch and listen to the gophers as they played about their holes. They seemed to be company for me. I sleept and rested and watched the clouds go bye and thought over all my mounting difficulties. I was so disapointed in Mr. Dunn, if he only would be a bit reasonable in his demands, 4:30 A.M. to 8 o'clock P.M. and after, was 15 hours work as I only was allowed to sit down at meal times which took 20 to 30 minutes at the most. I dident want to quit. I expected to work for him that summer, and hired out with that intention. The corn ground was fitted and planted and soon the corn came up and I was set to cultivating with a two horse wheel cultivator on which I could ride. This made a great change and rest for me, and I begain to pick up my strength. Getting off my feet and rideing all day rested my tired body. I began to take courage and feel brighter when all at once Mr. Dunn sprung a bomb shell on me. He had not been to Shophire in two weeks so one morning he and Mrs. Dunn drove over, leaveing me to cultivate corn. At noon when i came in to dinner the children started in talking about me, repeating what Mr. and Mrs. Dunn had been talking over privately between themselves, as they often did. "Smarty you never done any work untill you come here, you always stayed at home and let your step father do the work" Mrs. Dunn very much embarrassed told them to keep quiet and eat their dinner. Mr. Dunn caughed and said the girls were thinking out loud. I pricked up my ears and said nothing, and wondering what it was that had started Irene and Hazel on that line of talk. They were next to the oldest girl and were full of mischief. The oldest girl, Eleanor went to school.
They keept saying "Smarty, Smarty" you never had to work, etc., as I left the house to hitch up my team and resume cultivating, after feeding a big flock of hogs their corn and skim milk from the creamery.
Mr. Dunn two, was cultivating with another two horse cultivator, and while we were getting the horses out he says to me, "I see that Doctor over at Shophire today and he says there is nothing the matter with you only that you are home sick!" and he said it as if he had caught me at some criminal act. He seemed elated and pleased with himself as if he had me cornered. I was surprised, dumbfounded, and not a little mad. I was furious. I says "is that so" and my riseing wrath choked off all speech. I couldent think what I should do, or say and I drove on down to the corn field where I could think more calmly.
In a few minutes I made a decision, I walked over where Mr. Dunn was and I says to him, "Mr. Dunn I am going to quit. I am done. I dont want to work for a man that thinks I am a cheat and bluffer. You can take me right back to Janesville right now if you want to". No sir says he I am not going to do it, not today. I need your help and we argued, I told him I was working 14 and 15 hours a day and he did not appreciate it. He says, boy this is a farm not a shop or factory. All the people here are up at four o'clock. I hastened to say that, that was all right I was willing to get up at 4 if he would only milk earlier at night so I could get to bed and get more sleep. He laughed at this, said he would be the laughing stock of all the neighbors, and you cant quit me right off like this, so we compromised, I agreed to stay untill the 10th day of June, which was only a few days away, and then I would have in just two months work haveing commenced the 10th of April. He said he had another man comeing soon to help in haying and harvest.
One Sunday Mrs. Dunns two brothers Henry and Arthur Ward from Janesville came out for a visit and stayed to dinner. I should say that they were older than I, and as I understood it they and their brother Charlie ran the livery and bus and express business in Janesville. If I remember it right they reported that Charlie Ward and Edna Parker were married. Edna Parker was my landlady's daughter. They reported that the sick student at Mrs. Parkers (Mr. Ryder) the one that had pneumonia had gone home. I got quite a lot of information from them about Valentines Telegraph School and Valentine Brothers themselves. They were of the opinion that Valentines were getting rich out of that telegraph school, and that it was partly a fraud, for so many young men and boys came there and after a few days or weeks trial gave it up. Not one boy in the ten ever stayed and finished and secured a job. Valentines had, had many law suits with students who were dissatisfied but it seemed Valentine Bros. always won out in court.
I was inclined to defend the school and I told them how well I was getting along untill I was taken sick (and I stressed the point of how sick I was) just for Mr. Dunns benefit. I said I had a fever of 103 and I had not got my strength all back yet, and that I made a mistake of going to work to soon that spring. That was all I said. Mr. and Mrs. Dunn seemed interested and I believe they saw they had made a mistake. I never said very much when we were alone. Mr. Dunn always headed me off and dident
give me a chance but now he had company and I was determined to make the most of the opportunity.
I agreed that Valentines did not furnish enough help to beginners at their school, and that it was not the thing to do to take tuition money from boys who could scarcely read nor write as I knew they did. Such boys they knew could not succeed in learning telegraphy. I felt quiet pleased with myself that evening. I felt I had gained a point. Mr. Dunn appeared a bit surprised at my sudden spurt at taking part in the conversation. Henry and Arthur Ward had been an inspiration to me. Sence Mr. Dunn had given me a bawling out several times at not working more hours and keeping up the pace I had relapsed into silence for weeks past. I dreaded to quit and believe I should not have done so then, but for one thing I was worried and prehapps "a little homesick" at what was going on back on the Patterson farm in New York State. Mother had, had an accident. she had jumped out of a wagon and either broken or misplaced some bones in one of her feet and she could not step on it. For many days she had crawled around on her hands and knees, and she had to sit in her chair untill they found a pair of crutches for her to use. She wrote the most discourageing, and gloomy letters, poor women. As she sat in her chair she had plenty of time to ponder and think over her situation, as well as mine. My letters to her, (as I can see now) were equally discourageing, I was in no mood or shape that spring to write a cheerful letter. Poor mother, she knew I was in difficulties by the tone of my letters and she was afraid she was never going to see me again. She wanted me home with her. She wrote "Oh if I could be set back ten years or so when you was really a little boy, I would be a boy too and spend all my time out doors playing with you. We would build stone houses like that you built on our little place by the woods. Oh it was so hard for you when we first came here. My heart aches when I think how hard you worked and tried to please William. I ought not to allowed it. If I only could have realized it you would be here with me now. There are no easy jobs take all the comfort you can but be true and honest and dont be seen with fellows that are not good."
Poor mother, it was difficult for her to realize that her little boy that used to be with her on the little Elijah Miller place by the woods had grown up! He had flown the home nest and was trying his wings as all children will do. Such letters as hers pulled at the heart strings. She had nearly given up hope of ever seeing me again.
William had recovered from his accident in March and he and James Fanning had to milk the cows alone. The price received for the milk at the creamery was so low that William was selling the cows off as fast as he could. William was doing a considerable amount of business dealing that spring and summer. He had purchased 25 acres of land for $12.00 an acre down at the end of the New road, mostly pasture land. They called it, the Wicks lot and he
purchased it of Ralph Hulse (Huke?). Frank and Jessie Pelham were there with mother. Frank was building for William a new corn crib and a wagon house. Jessie and Lila were doing the work in the house for mother. Lila wrote a letter every week with mothers. She was now getting to be a big girl of 13 or 14 years. She had became interested in a camera and was endeavoring to learn to take and finish up pictures.
Mother too had purchased a new carpet and rug weaveing loom, and with her crippled foot she could not weave and it was something different and a great hardship for her to have to sit and do nothing.
All these things I thought about that last day or to on Mr. Dunns farm on the prairie in far away Wisconsin. This spring also was the time that a fearful earthquake destroyed San Francisco, the largest city I believe in California away out on the Pacific coast.
Back in Janesville and Mr. Dunn takes some of his own medicine.
The 10th of June came. The next day Mr. Dunn took me and my trunk to Shophire. He paid me all that he owed me. If I remember about $55.00. He figured it as $1.00 per day. It was the hardest springs work I ever had put in, I really was sorry to quit, as the last ten days rideing on a cultivator had done wonders for me and I felt more like my old self again. But that telling me there was nothing the matter but "homesickness" stuff had been the last straw, and I had another reason for quiting. Mr. Dunns people took the Janesville Daily Gazette and in the help wanted columns men were wanted at $1.50 to $2.00 per day by various firms and people around Janesville. I did manage to get a glance at the paper on some days and Sundays. I have thought a great many times sence that, here was where I made one big mistake in leaveing Mr. Dunn at that time, because I left him just when all the really hard work was done. The cultivating was easy and he had another fellow comeing to help that I did not know about.
Mr. Dunn, I believe expected me to take the train that morning for New York State, as he unloaded me and my trunk on the Shophire station platform. I had no such intention just then. He bid me good by and good luck and said he was going to work his oldest girl Eleanor in to help milk and he was going to notify his "other man" to start work. He did not say who his other man was. As soon as Mr. Dunn had got out of sight I went into the depot and purchased a ticket for Janesville. I believe there was a train going each way at about the same time that morning. I took the train going north and arrived in Janesville in a very few minutes. It was a surprise to Mrs. Parker. She says 'Did you quit out there on the farm". I replied 'Yes the springs work was done and I quit. I expect to going back to New York State after a spell and would like to stay with you for a time." She says "Sure". I have a boy in your room but you can room with him, his name is Louie Brown". Gerald Ryder and Arthur Demerritt had gone home. It seemed good to get back, I took one good rest for several days. I thought I had earned it. I strolled around town and down to the public library where I could read all the daily papers. I dident sit still very long. I soon saw an ad. in the paper. Men wanted at the Janseville Cement Post Company. I looked this firm and place of business up, found them and hired out to the boss, a Mr. Joe Beers for $1.75 a day. They made fence posts out of cement and their plant was on the outskirts of Janesville, just south of the city. It was about 3/4 mile walk from Mrs. Parkers down a South Street past the Parker Fountain Pen Company's building. I started in work at 7 o'clock and quit at 5:30. Some different than life on the farm, especially at William Dunns. I had not worked there but a day or two when on the way back to Mrs. Parkers one night some one hailed me that was driveing a rig in the street. "Hello there Palmer" where are you working"? I recognised him, he was the Rural Mail Carrier that
carried the mail out to, and bye Mr. Dunns place. He drove over to my side of the street. "Say I want to ask you why did you quit out to Dunns for? And is it a hard place to work? What time do they get up in the morning? And when do they get the chores done at night? He asked a lot of questions all at once and he was eager I could see for the information he wanted. I hesitated about answering him for a bit. I said I got tired out and sick of the job. Had to get up at 4:30 and we always got the chores and milking done about 8 at night. I told him Mr. Dunn said he had another man hired in haying. He interrupted me by saying "Man Huh! Its my boy that was going to help him! But I wouldent let him go there, and do all that work alone"! If you will go back there and help, my son can work there but he's not going there all alone, he's only 16. I says no, I would not go back now, I had another job, and as I see, why he was asking for all this information I realized it was a chance for me to get a dig at Mr. Dunn and I says, I did not intend to quit, but hey said I was lazy and not used to work, and that I was home sick, and I could not not stand it and I quit and you can tell Mr. Dunn so. I hope you do, I says and he did, "By Gosh I will. I dident know what sort of place it was there. Much obliged and drove off. I did not tell him where I was working or staying and I never saw him again. I wondered what Mr. Dunn would do now, He must have had to do all the milking himself. I felt sorry for his little girl Elenor she would not milk much at first. Dunn may have picked up a man some where. I never heard of him again. His brother in law as at Mrs. Parkers for dinner twice while I was there with his wife and I never asked any thing about Mr. Dunn. I wished afterward I had, but at the time I was afraid I might stir up something I did not want, so keept silent. Prehapps I should not have done as I did, and I have regretted it sence but I was so disappointed in Mr. Dunn not understanding me aright and not giveing me a little more of a break that I thought he deserved all that was comeing to him. I never had met a man just like him, he was the first real driver I ever met, and I was glad if he could be made to do his work alone and get a taste of his own medicine. If I had been normal that spring I would have made him hustle, but seeing I was not in a normal working condition he made me hustle. I made my mistake of hireing out to him before I was really able to work. Nough said.
I continued to work at the Cement Post factory. There were 12 of 15 men working there. There was a large gravel and sand bank just back of the building in which they made the posts. The first day I was there and for some time after they set me to hauling the post molds out in the drying shed. They had a narrow gage minature railroad track running the full length of the building on which small platform cars were run or rolled and pulled by one horse. Many carloads of gravel and sand were shipped from the gravel bank by railroad to all parts of the state. I worked there nearly all the month of July. Some days it was
very warm. There were some oak trees near to the buildings, and some bushes A flock of quail lived and roamed around amongst the weeds and bushes near the gravel banks. Many days we would hear the cock bird calling Bob White, Bob White. Some of the employees that worked there were desirable acquaintances. One fellow his name I have forgotten, was a Norwegen, he and used to work together a great deal, dumping posts out of the molds on the sand in the drying sheds. He as talking of going away up in the Dakotas and Minnesota and work in the wheat harvest, and invited me to go along. Another man I remember was an old man he was called "Pop", an Irishman he was a very likeable man to work with, and a devote Catholic. He lived on a small place near to the post factory and he told me when the sugar beet factory started work he always worked in there, and he would get me a job there to.
The rest of the crowd that worked there were just an ordinary run of help. Summing everything all up the Post factory was not such a bad place to work. The hours were short, but it did get aful hot some days. My roommate at Mrs. Parkers, Lewie Brown and I would walk down around the railroad depots on some evenings and Sundays and watch the trains come in and leave as Demerritt and Anderson and myself used to do the February before. The railroad seemed to have a great attraction for us boys. We prowled around the "round house" where the locomotives were stored to be, cleaned, oiled and refueled and steamed up. Here to also were the turn tables where the locomotives there could be turned around, if it was found necessary to send them back in the opposite direction from which they came, and Janesville had large switch yards where a large number of cares of all descriptions were stored. I even begain to have a desire to try and obtain a job in the C. M. & St. Paul R. R. round house as ta "grease monkey" as (if I remember aright) the caretakers of the locomotives were called by the older firemen and engineers. It was one of the dirtiest, oiliest, greasiest, black soot jobs a person could have! But when you learned to fire and steam up, and grease oil and paint a locomotive engine, you would be put on as fireman and maybe get to be an engineer.
Great long freight trains used to go thru Janesville on both railroads, sixty to eighty freight cars on each, and hauled by two monster locomotives. All this appealed to boys of my age. I had no use for the Chicago and North Western R. R. I remembered the big rail road wreck of the February before on that line. About this time Elmer Anderson and several other of Valentine's students who had become proficient enough in telegraphy had obtained positions some where in the North West, on the C. M. & St. Paul in the Dakotas and Minnesota.
Lewie Brown and I went down to the depot to see them leave one evening on the "Pioneer Limited". I felt a little blue to think that I might too have been among their number if I had not had the luck to get sick the March before, as Elmer Anderson was just a slight distance ahead of me at Valentines School when I commenced. Now he had a "Job" and a free pass on the
Rail Road which was to carry him to where his position was to be. But I thought of my folks back in New York State, of mother with her crippled feet sitting in her chair and hopeing that she would see me again. If I had taken such a position I should no doubt have seldom seen New York State.
I realized people that had attended school were able to fill positions of responsibility, and did not have to do the hard work with their hands that those, like myself, had to do. I had to take all the hard jobs, those people with a schooling, could make their heads work for them as well as their hands. I was not looking for an easy job but I had bigger ideas.
Janesville was a very fine city. Every one there that I came in contact with seemed to be working at something. People seemed to be industrious. There was only one theater in town, the Myres Grand Opera House and this was closed most of the time during the summer. There was no moveing picture shows in town. This was before the moveing pictures show age. Just before I came home a picture show did open. I think it was called the "Nickelodeon". For 5 cents you went in and sat five minutes and saw a five minute real of picture to the tune of a tin pan piano, and the whir and grind of a "Graphophone" out side.
The smokeing of cigaretts was against the law in Wisconsin in 1906. They were called "coffin nails" even by those who smoked a pipe and cigar. Liquer was sold in Janesville at various saloons about the city but I am of the opinion there was not near as much sold or as many places where it was sold as there was in the cities of New York State. Traffic in Janesville besides the street cars was all horse drawn. Occasionally an automobile (as they were beginning to be called) was met. People who could afford them and wished to experiment with this new way of traveling rode in these new style carriages. They were not very dependable, those first cars away back in 1906. Just to the east of Mrs. Parker's was a sharp up grade or hill and I remember seeing many of these old time cars stalled on the hill and compelled to back down the hill and try and start again. George Parker my landlady's son and another fellow started a garage just a short distance to the west and across the street a few weeks before I came home. George said it was a very good location for a repair shop as it was at the foot of this hill and would be handy in case drivers needed some help to get up the hill. It was the only garage in that part of the city. George had drove and been around Dr. Manley's car so much that he thought he knew everything there was to know about automobiles. George and his partner were bothered a great deal with other boys of the neighborhood hanging around their repair shop and watching them work when they had any work to do. So they contrived an ingenious mechanism to get rid of them. The iron vice on their work bench and some tools lying there, as well as some
chairs were connected up by wire to a strong battery and an electric coil to step up the voltage. When any one touched the tools, or iron vice, or sat in the chairs and got their hands or feet on an iron place just right, they received a tremendious shock of electricity. This I believe was sort of an attraction to most of the boys than it was in shocking them to stay away.
Homeward Bound and the passing of
John Bartholomew, Wm. Patterson, Lib and Leeander Low, Art Jones and Jane Jones.
On Wednesday morning Aug. 1st, 1906 I purchased a railroad ticket from Janesville to Locke back in New York State. The Cement Post factory had shut down and I had no job and at the time there was no job available. I dreaded to go back home. I stayed at Mrs. Parker's for several days and tried to plan and study out some course of action, but I had told mother I would come home and may be work for Patterson again the comeing year. So on Thursday morning Aug. 2, I stepped on board the train on the Chicago Milwaukee and St. Paul Rail Road that would take me to Chicago and thence east. I watched the city of Janesville fad out of my sight and I had a big lump in my throat as the place vanished from sight in the distance. One thing I have always regretted was that I did not take time to go up to Kilboun and visit my cousin Ben Jenks who operated a cheese factory there. He invited me to come up and see him.
It was a hot day some different from the day in February when I arrived in Janesville. I traveled all day Thursday and Friday at about noon I arrived in Sayre Pa., where I had to wait nearly all the afternoon for a train on the Lehigh Valley to take me to Locke, arriveing there Friday night. I went up to Frank and Jessie Pelhams and stayed all night and Frank took me home Saturday morning with his old grey horse Ned. Mother and the rest of the family was pretty glad to see me, but I am afraid I was not very enthusiastic on getting back home. I felt as if I had been licked.
Mothers foot was getting better and she could get around with the aid of her crutches, and if I remember she continued to gain and was able to walk again without the crutches latter that autumn.
A few days after my return Lila, Jessie and I went blackberrying over on David Rayners.
Lila was interested in takeing pictures and was not haveing much success. I got interested in the work and with the help of an instruction book I obtained, we begain to have better luck. Lila's mistake was taking too many snapshots in a dim light the beginners usual fault, with the result of thin under exposed negatives. I tried taking time exposures with the result of better pictures. I grew so interested in taking and finishing pictures that I purchased a larger and better camera and took pictures for several years afterward for all the neighbors around. I did not charge enough for the pictures I took, finished and sold so never made much more than expenses.
I had not been home long before the neighbors around begain asking me to help them with their work. I helped Floyd Williams and John Henry Miller and about the first of October worked for Grant Halsey of West Groton picking apples, at his own
place and at Dave Raynor's and Chas Fitches. At Dave Raynors I picked apples by the bushel and received 4 cents picking 50 bushel a day and one day I picked 70 bushel.
After the apples were picked I hired out to Will Baldwin of Groton to help sort and barrel apples. Mr. Baldwin bought the apples around the country that year, 1906 as Frank Pierson did the fall before, 1905. Frank Pierson himself worked for William Baldwin barreling apples as the fall before he had lost heavily on the apples he purchased, some said he had lost nearly all of his money. Besides Frank Pierson and myself a George Teeter. Warner Pierson, Garfield Townley and Lime Holliday, worked in the apple picking gang. We barreled apples around Groton, West Groton and North Lansing. While barreling apples at Glenn Bacons below North Lansing on Wednesday Oct. 24, 1906, I heard of the death of Lib Low in an accident near Moravia at at place just south of there called Suckerport. Leeander Low and Lib were going to Moravia in a platform wagon and a team of horses that were quite lively. As they were approaching Suckerport they heard a traction steam engine approaching around the sharp bend in the road. As the horses were afraid Leeander tried to turn around but the team backed up and the rear end of the wagon struck a steep bank and tipped Lib and Lee out over the dashboard onto and under the heels of the horses, which ran away. Lib was stepped on by the horses and it was found her chest was crushed and she died soon after. Leeander was badly brushed himself but escaped permanent injury. On the same day in the afternoon Arthur Jones died of Heart decease which he had been troubled with for several years. He and his wife Mamie and children were liveing at the time in Will Buckleys tenant house east of West Groton and he had worked for Will Buckley as much as he was able. Lib Low's funeral was on Sat., Oct. 27 and Art Jones was buried on Friday Oct. 26.
I finished barreling apples for Will Baldwin of Groton sometime in November. As I had partly agreed to stay at home and work the place for William the coming year. William purchased of Ralph Hulse six cows on November 13th.
Mothers foot had healed so she could get around with out the aid of crutches. On Wed. November 28 she and I went to Chenago County taking the train at Locke. Grandfather John Bartholomew was in very poor health and she wished to see for herself just how things were at the Bartholomews, her old home. I visited at Uncle Silas Ameses and Cousin Clarena and I finished up a lot of pictures. Grandfather Bartholomew died on Monday Dec. 10, 1906. He was very feeble for several years before his death. He was in the 70 ties.
Mother and I came home on Thurs. Dec. 13th, Lila and Edna had keept house while we had been gone. Nearly every year while Grandmother and Grandfather Bartholomew were alive mother would take each year, a week or two and go out and visit them,
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