by Reub Williams
"Down through the vista of departed years
There comes to me the spirit that abode
Within that quaint old homestead by the road,
Happy or grieving--mingling hopes and fears.
I see the prattling child; the youth who strode
Forth o'er that threshold to win victories
In life's great battle' the old man at ease,
Ready to lay aside life's weary load
Thus it is through all the correspondence these
old-time sketches have brought forth--in numbers of letters certainly
a great surprise to the writer--there is an undertone of sadness
harking back to the youth of the writer of them; and next a reminiscence
of the old home--the childhood home of the correspondent ever
and always. Such being the case how important it is; how very
necessary indeed that the lesson imparted to the child and the
youth should be worth remembering--for whether it is worth it
or not, it is the period in after life most impressed upon me
by the undercurrent of so many of the letters I have received,
ever and always referring to school days and to the old home;
and with the latter it makes no difference whether it was a palace
or a hovel--it was the home and ever after all through
life it remains such, and ever will. Nothing could point out the
actual necessity for starting the plastic mind of the child in
a correct mold, for it then to receive impressions that were to
stay with it through life, and its mind open to the reception
of everything impressed upon it then, one may be sure that whatever
they were they
"Will be remembered for aye."
The recent heavy rains and the consequent high waters which have followed the down-pour which has continued off and on all through the month of June, now just closed, reminds me of an incident that occurred to my family on the evening of the day of its arrival, within a mile or so of our known destination in this county.
The late Peter Warner, the well known first settler in Kosciusko south of the Tippecanoe river, was a brother-in-law of the father of the writer, and hence was an uncle by marriage of the author of these sketches. There had been no little correspondence between my father and "Uncle Peter Warner" --the name he was known by to every pioneer of the county, in reference to the removal of the family to Indiana, before the decision was finally arrived at to become "Hoosiers" instead of remaining "Buckeyes." The point being at least decided in favor of the removal, it was determined to send the household goods via Lake Erie from Sandusky City to Toledo and then by canal to Fort Wayne, where they were to be stored until further orders. My father was to accompany the household effects for the purpose of keeping them on the move, as it was fairly well-known that such shipments were very often detained at various warehouses all along this route of inter-communication, unless some one was at hand to see to the re-shipment. It was also arranged that he was to join us at Fort Wayne, the remainder of the family going overland in a light two-horse wagon of that day--a vehicle, however, heavier for the team than is the two-horse wagon of today.
For a wonder--owing to the difference of modes of conveyance and the additional difference in the number of more miles traveled by the father than the family--the connection was made, there being only a few hours difference between the arrival of each at the Palo Alto Hotel" at Fort Wayne--the very name of which will suggest to the older reader that the Mexican war was under discussion, even though it was not yet on. It was kept by a man named Timmons, who was also from the same county from which our party hailed, and being an old friend of my father, our stay at Fort Wayne was made very pleasant. From fort Wayne to Warner's place on the Tippecanoe River was a rough road, indeed. The waters were high everywhere, corduroy bridges were afloat all along the route and the small streams were bankful and some of them had to be forded, the bridges having been swept away. Very distinctly do I remember passing through Warsaw on the drizzly, gloomy, chilly April day on which we did so.
Of course, the wagon was a covered one, but as it had rained for three days in a slow, indifferent, yet persistent and incessant way that rains have, a way of falling at times, everything in the wagon except the articles in trunks and boxes were water-soaked. As I have said, Warsaw had been passed, and the vehicle had arrived at the hill a short distance west of town, where a stop was made, and the family from that eminence took a view of the surroundings. I have already stated that the waters everywhere were very high. Those in charge of the wagon were fully aware that we were within a short distance of our destination. Probably a gloomier scene which met the eye of all of us could not readily have been pictured.
From the eminence where the wagon had stopped, a view--a very extensive and all-embracing view, too,--could be obtained, and a gloomier one could hardly have been found. As far as the eye could reach in semi-haze of that late afternoon, the whole area was under water, we, of course, not knowing then that the Tippecanoe River was out of its banks and aiding in making the desolate, heart-breaking scene for newcomers near the new home that was to be substituted for the old one of the family. During the stoppage for a short time on the top of the hill, all of the women folks took a good cry and I am not sure but that moisture was in the eyes of my father as well; for it was indeed, a most discouraging outlook. For myself, the scene was entirely too strange and novel to cause a boy of ten years old to shed tears, and besides I was already sufficiently wet without the addition of more moisture! We went on and in a short half-hour the family arrived at its destination, and following the drying of clothes by a cheerful fire in an old-fashioned fire place; a good supper, and the joy of visiting relatives for a long time separated, the tearful gloominess of the past few hours passed away and the next day all was cheerful and bright.
The incident came to my mind when I sat down to write this sketch, and although there is scarcely anything in it worth the telling, yet it is a poorly dimmed picture of what other pioneers passed through on their way to Indiana, and the weather we have been having during the June just closed, is to blame, if anything, for the relation of this incident, as well as the fact that the identical scene discovered from the hill just above Walnut Creek bridge on the western side of this city was, at the beginning of this writing, now covered in just the same way as it was on that April evening over half a century ago, with a great depth of water.
This chapter in these old-time sketches will close the series. They have been given to the public for forty-eight weeks without missing a single issue of THE INDIANIAN in that time, and I feel certain that no one of the readers of these articles has been more surprised than myself, that they have been continued for such a length of time, when my own idea at the beginning was that I would do well, if I furnished the paper with a half-dozen consecutive articles; but owning to the kindly , and seemingly deeply interested reception the sketches received, I have continued them, fully aware as I have frequently been, that some of them, at least, were scarcely worthy of perusal. Of course, of necessity they had to be written from memory for there was no record to be obtained of any one of the series, and very often when some points were forgotten, there was no means of reviving recollections, for there was no one of my age conversant with the facts with whom I could consult. However, in the main, all the important statements that have appeared--statements that are absolutely necessary that they should be as near the truth as possible, will be found so near it that the lapse, if any, is not of any very serious moment.
In conclusion I want to say that I have been greatly pleased at the many compliments these reminiscences have received both verbally and in letters from abroad, and it has been a solace to me to know--or feel rather--that I have been the means of pleasing so many of the readers of this paper. I presume that there are few readers--unless they have some personal knowledge of the printing business--could begin to guess that this series of articles if printed in book-form of usual size--the volume would contain from 350 to 400 pages that sells for $1.50! Understand, I am saying nothing as to its real value, but only mention the price of such a book as an article of commerce. The statement goes to show how well earned is the subscription price of a newspaper whose contents in full in the course of a year in such a paper as THE INDIANIAN would make fully ten volumes of the size referred to--the entire amount in book-form selling at about $15, but obtained in this newspaper for $1.50! The haste in which these articles have been written can be discerned in the statement that I spent only 38 minutes on the longest one of the whole series.
Ever since the close of the civil war and on hundreds of occasions I have been urged by veteran acquaintances--especially during the first decade following Lee's surrender--to publish a book of war-memories. Not only have I been urged to do so by those who met me from day to day, but many letters have been received from ex-soldiers now settled all over the country and who are now so numerously answering the last roll-call at the end of honorable, faithful, well-spent lives, indeed as to make one think that the day is not far distant when a survivor of the War for the Union will be a rarity in almost any community. In response to this very general call I have determined--not to write a book--but to publish a series of sketches, similar to the ones that have been appearing in these columns of "pioneer days," beginning a few weeks hence. These sketches, will, of course, have to be somewhat of a personal nature, and not a history, by any means. They will relate scenes and incidents that came under my own eyes, but in no case will the writer attempt to describe historical battles, but confine himself wherever description of a contest that may appear that came under my own eye personally.
In concluding my pioneer sketches I want to return my sincere thanks to one and all, many of whom have given me assistance in the way of material for publication and if the reader has enjoyed them as well as I have myself delighted to call up old-time memories once a week for almost a year past, I shall be more than satisfied and delighted. The series of war sketches will be begun about the first week in August--perhaps somewhat later.
Warsaw Daily Times July 5, 1902
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