Fountain Street Baptist Church

August 29, 2009


Fountain Street Baptist Church in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, was important in the lives of Achsah Jones Stowell and her daughters Anna and Catherine during the latter half of the 1800s.  Catherine Stowell met her future husband Carey Reed Daniells at this church when he visited family in Grand Rapids.  They married in 1871.  Excerpts from her diary indicate that Catherine was a deeply religious person who frequently reflected on her relationship with God and her own human failings.

Today’s Fountain Street Church is no longer affiliated with the Baptist Church or any other mainstream church.  The FSC website states:

Although founded as early as 1842, between 1896 to 1956 Fountain Street Baptist went from being a mainstream Baptist church to being a non-creedal liberal church, ultimately severing its ties to the American Baptist Church and eschewing any denomination.

The website goes on to say, “Our current sanctuary and church house were built in 1924 following a fire that destroyed the previous structure in 1917.”

During a recent visit to Grand Rapids, Sandra and I toured the sanctuary.  Church staff was unable to provide us with photographs of the original structure that burned, but we took pictures of the current edifice. 

Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids, built in 1924.  Photo by Sandra Winegar.

Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids, built in 1924. Photo by Sandra Winegar.

Plowman/Daniells Poetry: Ode to a Bedpan

August 28, 2009


The following poem, undated and not attributed, was found among the poetry of the Plowmans and Daniells.  It was probably written by one of the five Daniells sisters, granddaughters of Dora Plowman.  Each of the sisters had a wonderful sense of humor — sometimes outrageous — , so the poem could have been written by any of them. 

Ode to a Bedpan

While recovering from an illness, I was very much annoyed,

For the toilet was denied me and a bedpan was employed.

I much preferred a thunder-mug, but nurse just shook her head;

“You’re far too weak,” she sternly said, “to be getting out of bed.”


My experience with the bedpan, to this day doth make me quail,

And I’ve been prevailed upon to write this harrowing tale.

In the wee small hours of morn, before the break of day

Came a yearning I could not ignore, nor very long delay.


The nurse brought me a bedpan, slipped it under my back-side,

While the chills ran up and down my spine as the cold thing touched my hide.

I tipped back my shoulders — soon my legs grew stiff and numb

The odds were all in favor that I’d die before ‘twould come.


In this upside down condition the leverage wasn’t there,

But with a mighty effort I released a little air.

And when at last I got results I grew faint with dread,

I wondered if I’d hit the pan or piled it on the bed.


While my heart was weakly fluttering I felt with cautious care,

With a sigh of satisfaction I discovered nothing there.

But my trouble wasn’t over, as I very soon would find,

For how could I maneuver to wipe the place behind?


All my muscles bulged with tension as I stood upon my head,

And I gave a few wild passes — then fell weakly on the bed.

With patience I continued, regardless of my pain,

For modesty prevents me from leaving any stain.


I had no more than finished this rear Herculean feat,

When I then became aware of something sticky on the sheet.

Cold sweat was beaded on my brow — I slowly raised my gown,

And there upon the lovely sheet a hideous spot of brown.


The law of gravitation once more proved sure as fate

That you cannot stand upon your ear when you evacuate.

‘Twas then I voiced a fervent prayer, as a soul in anguish can,

For something to improve upon this medieval plan.


Sick people often give up hope and here’s the reason why:

The bedpan is the rock upon which they’re tortured till they die.

There’s a fortune for the genius who’ll invent some kind of diaper

Or a back adjusted thunder-mug with an automatic wiper.


It’s Not Your Father’s Genealogy

August 26, 2009


The Carolina Cousins visit with Michigan family.

The Carolina Cousins visit with Michigan family.

In one of my first posts I described how I had benefited by the genealogical research of my father Donald Winegar and my aunt Betty Daniells.  Both spent years in their retirement gathering data on our family history.  My father left written acounts of his memories of his parents and grandparents. 

Carolina Cousins Carrie Stephenson with children Lola, Daisy, and Jim on the horse.

Carolina Cousins Carrie Stephenson with children Lola, Daisy, and Jim on the horse.

I recently came across his account of his search for his “Carolina Cousins.”  In his mother’s photos he found pictures taken in 1910 or 1911 in Michigan.  On the back of one was written, “Stephenson cousins from Carolina” and the names of three children Lola, Jim and Daisy.  One of the pictures  included my father as a baby in a stroller.   George S. Stephenson, the children’s father, did not visit Michigan with his family, but his name was known.  The only other thing that my father knew about the family was that the boy, Jim, had been accidentally electrocuted at the age of 21.

Carrie Stephenson and son Jim, some of the Carolina Cousins.

Carrie Stephenson and son Jim, two of the Carolina Cousins.

Sixty years after the pictures were taken and after the death of his parents, Donald began work on the genealogy of the Stephenson family.  He was fortunate to have the family Bible of his great-grandfather, George Wold Stephenson (now in my possession), which contains a great deal of family data, but it offered no help in identifying George S.  On two different trips through the Carolinas he made inquiries but without success.  Marriage records were kept by county, and he didn’t even know whether the family was from North or South Carolina.  The only son of the Carolina cousins had died young, and the sisters had married and had different last names.  Some time later, Donald found in his mother’s old address book an entry that said, “Carrie Stephenson, Rawley N.C.”   On the assumption that George had died in Raleigh, Wake County, N.C., he wrote for a death certificate and received it.  The name of the person who informed the undertaker of the death was J.R. Hayes.  Through directory assistance, he found a listing for Mrs. J. R. Hayes.  The person who answered was a grandchild of Mrs. Hayes who referred him to another number where, to his amazement, the phone was answered by the son of George S. Stephenson.  Donald learned that George S. was the son of a brother of Donald’s grandfather.  He was able to establish contact with his cousins and fill in a great deal of the family history. 

This long search illustrates the excitement and frustrations of genealogical research.  It also shows how research had to be conducted in the past.  Donald wrote hundreds of letters searching for information.  He traveled to state capitals and searched phone books when he traveled.  Aunt Betty’s research was similar.  She corresponded with researchers all over the country and paid many to study Census data and other documents on site.  She traveled to England and viewed original documents there.

The internet has made a huge impact on the study of genealogy.  Census data up through 1930 is now online.  Social Security death records since 1939 are on line.  I keep my data in Family Tree Maker which is connected to  No sooner then I enter a name into the file then a ” leaf” pops up indicating information is available for that person.

Carrie Stephenson and son Jim.  Jim was accidentally electrocuted at age 21.

Carrie Stephenson and son Jim. Jim was accidentally electrocuted at age 21.

Genealogical research is still just as exciting and rewarding as in the past.  It’s just much faster.  Some of the research that took years for my dad and aunt can be done almost instantaneously.  Data that was unknown in the past is now available.  In spite of that, the thrill of the search and excitement of making new connections is still there.  In the last couple of months since I began my blog, Sandra and I have made many exciting discoveries.  Not every question is quickly answered.  We keep raising new questions and beginning new searches.  We just returned from a vacation in Michigan where we visited five  different cemeteries where my ancestors are burried.  We learned that the old methods of collecting information still have great value.  We learned things in this visit that we couldn’t find online yet.  One thing that is for sure is that our greatest source of information is still our parents and older family members.  Donald regretted starting his Carolina Cousins search after his parents were gone.  It might have saved him years of frustration.  Contacts that we have made during our travels still open new avenues for searching and bring us in contact with interesting people with similar interests.

Plowman Poetry: All But 49

August 25, 2009


The annual Plowman Christmas Tree Reunion required a great deal of planning throughout the year with committees selected to manage each task.  Serving dinner to scores of people required crews to cook the food, wait on the tables, clear the tables, and wash the dishes.  The entertainment committee would arrange for musical treats, both instrumental and vocal, skits, and dramatic readings.  But the highlight of the Tree was the reading of the poetry, some silly like the one below, some nostalgic, and some commemorating some memorable event during the year.  The following ditty was written, Plowman-style, by Saron Rex Plowman in 1928.  Although Saron did not name his poem, I have selected the final line in each stanza for the title.

All But 49

By Saron Rex Plowman

At Bateman’s place is the Christmas Tree

Where the bunch will gather full of glee.

Of the 54 trees, all in a line,

I’ve attended all — but 49.


The mob will laugh and cheer and shout

And put dull care to utter rout.

Of the 54 trees, a good cheer sign

I’ve attended all — but 49.


The Pedro champ, with feelings tame,

They lost the rubber, by not saving game.

Of the 54 trees, balsam, spruce or pine

I’ve attended all — but 49.


Escalloped potatoes, and apple pie,

Oysters, and coffee as strong as lye.

Of the 54 trees, where you laugh and dine,

I’ve attended all — but 49.


Dishwashers, cooks and those who wait,

Pickles, sandwiches, and layer cake.

Of the 54 trees, both yours and mine,

I’ve attended all — but 49.


The Santas, Uncle Will and Lute,

With many a joke, thrown in to boot.

Of the 54 trees dressed up so fine,

I’ve attended all — but 49.

The Agnes Stephenson Window

August 21, 2009
Agnes Stephenson Window in St. John's Episcopal Church

Agnes Stephenson Window in St. John's Episcopal Church


Sandra and I just returned from spending two and one half weeks at our cottage in Michigan.  We were able to do quite a bit of genealogical research while there, as well as relaxing.  We visited a number of cemeteries and will report our findings in later blogs.

Today, I want share our findings in St. Johns, Michigan.  My  father, Donald Stephenson Winegar, visited the St. Johns Episcopal Church in 1936 and reported that his great-grandfather, George Wold Stephenson,  had been one of the founders of the church.  He further reported that his great-grandfather had dedicated a stained glass window to his wife and that the window was there at that time in 1936.

Jim reads inscription on the Agnes Stephenson window.

Jim reads inscription on the Agnes Stephenson window.

We had no idea whether the old church was still there or, if so, whether the window was there.  I had tried unsuccessfully to reach anyone in the church from Florida.  After some research in Michigan, the Episcopal Dioscese put me in contact with Wendy Ward, a member of the church, who was extremely helpful.  She went by the church and called to tell me that the window was in fact still there.  On our way back to Florida, we swung by St. Johns and Wendy gave us a tour.  The window is really quite exciting. 

St. Johns Episcopal Church, St. Johns, Michigan.

St. Johns Episcopal Church, St. Johns, Michigan.

It was installed in 1894 and is one of the oldest windows in the church.  My wife Sandra took a number of pictures, several of which are shown here.  Wendy is very interested in the history of St. Johns and the church and she reports that old diaries of members have been preserved and that she will provide me with copies.    Hopefully we will learn more about the Stephensons from these records.  The church was recently featured in the St. Johns Sesquicentennial (150 years).  One thing she remembers from old documents was that the church, located just a few blocks from downtown St. Johns, was originally a school, but it was considered unsafe for students because of the presence of bears.  We didn’t see any bears in St. Johns:-)

Inscription on left window.

Inscription on left window.

Inscription on right window.

Inscription on right window.

 One of George’s and Agnes’s daughters, Angeline, married Russel B. Emmons in 1873.  The Emmons were leaders, both in the community and in the church.  Part of the town is called Emmonsville.  We were able to take a picture of the Emmons mansion, which is impressive, even by today’s standards.

The Emmons House in St. Johns, Michigan.

The Emmons House in St. Johns, Michigan.

Plowman Poetry: Song of the Little Old Rocker

August 18, 2009


This poem was written by George Fawcett Plowman in 1908.  George was one of the eleven children of William Tuthill Plowman.  He was also brother to Lide Plowman who wrote extensively about her early life in rural Michigan.  George writes this poem about Lucy, his wife, and her rocker, no doubt also remembering his mother and her rocker.
George and Lucy Plowman

George and Lucy Plowman

Song of the Little Old Rocker

By George Plowman


Here I am, dressed out anew,

In nineteen hundred eight.

Not many of my early chums

Can boast of such a fate.


I’ve helped to soothe the restless child

When the fire was burning bright,

With a ruddy blaze and glowing coals,

By the fireplace at night.


I’ve heard the hum of the spinning wheel

As the housewife made it fly,

While she drew the thread out from the roll

And hummed a lullaby.


I’ve watched the reel, reel off the skein

When the spindle full had got

And listened for the little click,

The signal for the knot.


I’ve seen the skein stretched on the swifts

And the swifts go whirling round

As the quillwheel turned the shuttle’s quill

And the yarn on the quill was wound.


I’ve listened to the noisy loom

Beneath a lowly roof,

While the shuttle through the warp would fly

And the lathe bang up the woof.


This all I’ve seen and heard, and more,

I’ve seen the forest wane,

And by the woodman’s axe to fade

Into a fertile plain.


I’ve rocked the babies now grown old

And the babies they have born

And I’ll be rocking babies still

When Gabriel blows his horn.


The different coats that I have had,

To know would be a shocker,

Though now disguised with Japalac,

I’m Lucy’s same old rocker. 

Plowman Poetry: Memories of the Old Stove

August 17, 2009


This undated poem was written by Sarah Elizabeth Plowman, known to her family as “Sate.”  The poem was written to her neice Luna May Plowman, daughter of Charles Nelson Plowman.  Charles and Sate were both children of William Tuthill Plowman.  The last stanza of the poem refers to a “souvenir.”   The Plowmans often wrote poetry to accompany gifts at Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions.  We do not know what the souvenir was.

Sarah Elizabeth "Sate" Plowman

Sarah Elizabeth "Sate" Plowman

Memories of the Old Stove

by Sate Plowman


Way back in old Westphalia

When we were young and gay,

When brothers too and sisters

Wore the common home-spun gray,


Our happy brother Charlie

So strong in hand and arm

Had left the dear old homestead

Moved on his Riley farm.


To us other numerous children

It always seemed a treat

To visit this dear brother

And around his board to eat.


They always set a table

Good enough for any king,

For what ever there was needed,

He would always gladly bring.


His wife was kind and thrifty

And of pies, baked not a few,

For of fruit he furnished plenty,

Both to bake and also stew.


Now soon they found their oven

Quite too small for their demand,

And they planned to buy another

Either new or second-hand.


So now this happy brother

To an auction found his way;

I think he will remember

For it was his lucky day.


It was there he found the creature

They always called, “Old Dutch,”

Of milk she gave a plenty

And of butter they made much.


There too, a fine large stove he found,

‘Twas just as good as new,

The oven large and roomy

The fire-box ample too.


But as the years went fleeting by

They made another change,

This stove now old, was set aside,

For the bright and modern range. 


Our brother’s oldest daughter

With a voice quite sad and low,

While looking at the old stove, said,

“I am sorry to see it go.”


When a very little maiden

With her round and dimpled cheek,

By it’s side she sat and prattled,

In the oven warmed her feet;


By it sat in early childhood,

When the time so quickly flies,

By it rocked her little sister,

With the bright and laughing eyes.


Many pleasant recollections

‘Round the old stove seemed to twine,

And she loved it very dearly

For that bright and sunny time.


And now for happy memories

For which we all have sought,

We bought this little souvenir

For what the old stove brought.

The Plowman Family: Lide Remembers Childhood, conclusion

August 15, 2009


Mary Eliza "Lide" Plowman

Mary Eliza "Lide" Plowman

In the last two posts, Lide Plowman has told the story of her childhood — homelife, schooling, and childhood play.  Today she concludes the true story, recalling spelling bees and courting.  Her account makes us remember the things that are positive and good for families today.  As usual, the family tree chart is at the end of the post to assist you with keeping the family members and relationships straight.

The spelling bees were a source of much pleasure and profit.  Each school would train their pupils on a certain part of the speller and use that part when they spelled at their own school, their  teacher being the one to pronounce the words.  It was quite a honor to spell another school down.  Every one was eligible to try.  The first part of the evening was spent in choosing sides and spelling and after a social time at recess, the contest was between the different schools.

 I remember especially one with Mr. Macumber when Mrs. Macumber came with her school.  Among them were Naomi, Harriet and Maryette Dutton.  I was younger but I see Maryette yet standing when nearly all were down.  I admired her very much and in a few years loved her as a sister.  I do not remember who won.  At recess the young people visited and at the end paired off for the home trip.  Some tomed they went to some home and had a short party or dance if there happened to be a musician present.  George and Granvil Peck, Hermans cousins, had violins, and Sidney Bliss a dulcimer, which considered good music.  There were neighborhood parties, no public dances near us.  Young folks found places to meet for amusement then the same as now.

 Till and had two escorts, the one Till liked best liked me, and one I liked best liked Till.  When Till would refuse one, he would ask me, but sometimes through such maneuvers I would be left out and one of the boys sisters would go instead, which did not please our sister nor myself either.

 As I have written you before, our elder brothers spent many winter evenings shelling corn to be ground at the mill, chopping sausage meat in the winter on a bench made of hard wood using a ax to get it fine.  It took some meat to supply our family and the fresh meat would keep sweet and good in that way a long time.  The bony parts had to be eaten first.

 We had apples, peaches, plums and cherries when I first remember and using our own sugar with our own fruit gave us a good supply of desserts.  Later cider applesauce formed quite an item in our fare.  It was planned to make a good supply and send some to Ezra, also dried fruit and fresh apples and any thing else that they lacked.

 Our first experience in canning fruit was in a small mouthed jar, (crock).  Met had given me instructions and I did as near as I could remember, but it was a sad failure.  I was probably 16 then.  Met’s kept alright and mine did the next time.  Glass jars came soon after and our preserving days with equal parts of fruit and sugar were over.

 I wanted to tell how Sate came to be called Eber, how mother and her children rented a house for a school week where Sate was teaching.  John went for them each Friday and took them back each Monday with provisions for the week, and Till at home always glad to welcome them.  How Lute went to Ezra’s to do chores and attend school where I was teacher.  How George went with Jule and me to attend school in St. Johns.  How Jule went to care for Barbara and keep people from killing her with kindness, and Ezra gave Jule a cow when she was married.  No use to enumerate, the thoughts come faster than I can write.

 As I look back it seems we have much to be thankful for, in a home of plenty and enough work to keep us interested in our home, each having a share and doing it cheerfully.  The boys helping out doors the girls helping Mother, spinning, knitting, sewing and tending baby, — all loving each other in a happy simple life. 

Plowman Family Tree

Plowman Family Tree


The Plowman Family: Lide Remembers Childhood, part two

August 13, 2009


In part two of Lide Remembers Childhood, written in 1924, Lide Plowman tells about childhood play and her brothers and sisters in their mid-1800′s home in rural Michigan.  The family tree chart is at the end of this post.

When Brother George came after four girls, it was a great treat and he was the idol of all, with his black eyes and clear white skin.  Nothing was too good for him.  Father made him a wagon with all the parts of a big one.

 Lute had for his pet and plaything an old root something the shape of an animal, called Thompson, who lived many years with us as a companion for “our punch.”  About that time we had a “pork sprout” (a little runty pig), which was also a pet, called Porky, which grew into a fine pig, but no one wanted to eat him.  These pets were as to Lute as Paul’s horse was to him.

 Till, Jule and Sate found much pleasure with their little families of home made rag dolls, about seven inches tall consisting of father, mother, boy and girl.  The house the top of a box about two feet square, with little rolls of cotton for beds to fit their size, and covers etc.  And these families were put to bed and gotten up in the morning every day while the girls talked and talked.

 Saron’s and my pet was the checker board, which helped us to pass many happy hours, only sometimes we were not good losers and had disputes.  At those times the board flew to the shelf, mailed to the beams, where things were kept away from children.

 It was from that shelf that I found Ivanhoe and Father Clement and Thaddeus of Warsaw, which I regret to say that I never read.  Father thought it a great book.

 I have been thinking much lately of the time Ezra left home for Gratiot.  Father had bought Ezra 169 acres of land from the government for $80.00 and with a wagon and yoke of oxen and provisions and bedding he started out to make a home for himself in the wilderness.  He was 20 years old.  Jon Hendernshott and Harvey Troop were with him.

 Of all the leaving home of our family, this seems the most lonesome and far away, although only 50 miles away, but at that time 1855, there were not many settlements north of Maple Rapids and no roads, only trails.

 Father made Ezra a black walnut chest with a till for papers.  The corners were mitered and it made a nice piece of furniture.  The chest was burned and father made him another, but as I remember it was not so nice as the first one.

 It was a happy day for us when Ezra came home on a visit, and the little ones thought candy grew on trees where he lived as he always brought some for them, and later that was not all he brought.  I think in about two years Barbara came with him.  She was about the size of Florence and was very kind to all the children.  Her nice dress was a white lawn with yellow set flowers, very pretty, and what won my heart, she made my doll a dress like it.

 Barbara with her father and brother came from Ohio about the time Ezra went north.  She walked bare-footed behind the wagon and drove a cow and calf.  They had to ford rivers and they were with one family when they upset and their baby was drown.  They lived at first in a shack with no frool and all their furniture was made of rough longs.  Her broom was also home made with which she swept the dirt floor.

 Ezra once signed a note with a man, who skipped off and left him to pay.  This was what put the mortgage on his farm and left Barbara without means in her old age.  They had no children of their own but brought up three, and no matter how much trouble they had they were always cheerful.

 Our brother Ezra was not to accumulate wealth here, but out of kindness of his heart, his help to those in need, especially to children and mothers, he had a mine of wealth stored where “neither moth nor rust could not corrupt, nor thieves bread through and steal.”

 I might say here that Ezra’s neighbors had moved from near Grand Ledge and made the trip home with ox teams, which was a slow way of traveling and our place was the stopping place the last night.  With one man as driver and all the women and children  a lumber wagon would hold, it would tax the bedding of the house to furnish a place for all to sleep.  We were always glad to hear from Ezra, and I think Father considered that as pay for all the trouble and expense.

 George was a baby when Ezra went away, so you see there was no time when all of us children were at home, only 8 at that time.  Charley must have married soon after Lute came, and Saron about the time the twins came to cheer our household, and how we all loved them.

 John Gensterbloom had been living with us since I was 12 or 14.  You may be interested in how John came to be a member of our family.  His parents moved here from Germany and lived near Mrs. Petch’s father, and John and his father worked for him.  Our father needed help as Ezra had gone then, and John first to work and finally to stay.  He could not have been more than 13 and was one of the family ever after.  After the three older boys moved away the children still had an older brother and I am sure Nora and Dora knew no difference, as he took care of them as any of the family.  He was always helping mother and arranged his work so he could go for Jule every week, while she was teaching in Bengal.

 Although we were 11 children, there were never more than 8 or 9 of us at home at the same time, but with Father, Mother and the school teacher 7 months of the year, we were still quite a family with plenty of work for all.

 Charley and Saron being our elder brothers were very kind to take us out when we had no other escort.  We had no theaters and moving pictures were undreamed of, but we much ___ the association of our schools. 






Plowman Family Tree

Plowman Family Tree








The Plowman Family: Lide Remembers Childhood, part one

August 11, 2009
Ezra Plowman and his wife Barbara.  Ezra was Lide Plowman's beloved big brother.

Ezra Plowman and his wife Barbara. Ezra was Lide Plowman's beloved big brother.


In previous posts, Mary Elizabeth “Lide” Plowman has recounted her memories of her father and mother in early rural Michigan.  In today’s post, written in 1924, Lide remembers her childhood, schooling, and her brothers and sisters.  As we have done previously, the family tree chart is at the end of the post.

As I look back over our childhood it seems like a happy family, with Ezra as a baby tender, singing in the big rocker with his arms full of children.  Charley as Mother’s helper and cook, with the other playing around, makes a good picture of our dining room.  When father and mother were away this plan worked well and I can not recall hearing these brothers dispute.

 The first real event that I can remember was when we went to a show of some kind in Lyons about 14 miles away.  I think we had horses at that time, as father had them the first in the neighborhood.  I remember nothing of the show but remember vividly of us loading into the ___ and of Till’s and my black calico dresses with red and black flowers.  We were about 4 and 6 years of age then.

 Another trip to Lyons was made with Charley and Saron and Till to visit Mr. Nettleton’s soon after they moved there.  Roswell, our boys with Charlotte, Jane, Till and I went to the river and into a boat which I did not enjoy, maybe the others did.  (I have been in many boats since that I did not enjoy either).  This was the last we saw of our neighbor girls.

 Charley and Saron took us to the last day of school at McVeys.  We sat in the bottom of the sleigh and near Thelen’s something happened, a tree across the road I suppose and the boys unhitched the oxen and in driving them away the chain caught on the iron on the end of the tongue and gave it a sudden jerk which threw Jule who was standing up backwards giving her quit a bump.  We left her at Nancy’s who cared for her until we came back.  The first teacher that I remember was a man, quite old, Charles Dear.  The only thing that I remember about him was that the children took goose quills to him and he made their pens.

 After him came Mr. Macumber who taught several winters, beginning in an old log school house.  While he taught our school, his wife a marvelous teacher, taught at the McVey or Boughton, where nearly all the pupils were Americans, and they had much to be thankful for having such a good teacher.  In all the teachers in the neighborhoods she was the one far ahead of them all, a live teacher.  It would be well for the future of the world that we had many like her.  I’ll tell in another place how I lived with her one summer and went to school to her.

 Mr. Macumber was a very eccentric man and a fairly good teacher.  He kept good order, but as our brothers were always good in school and the other boys patterned after them, it was not so difficult to do.  After Mr. Nettleton’s moved away nearly all the pupils were Germans and very well behaved.  I remember an expression that he used to use.  When he threatened to punish he would say, “I’ll puggle you.”  Around the stove were bench seats made of slabs of logs raised by legs in each end.  These were used by the younger children who could get along without desks.  Once Mr. Macumber jumped over one of these benches to scare some children (for punishment I suppose) and the floor broke and let him through.

 During Mr. Macumber’s reign we had our outline maps.  These were three or four feet square and hung on the walls.  There were maps of the world and of each continent.  We began with the map of the world reciting in concert and either teacher or pupil pointing to each place as named.  We repeated each item twice beginning —–

                Whole world 2 hundred million, whole world 2 hundred million

                Water surface 150 million, water surface 150 million

                Land surface 50 million, land surface 50 million (etc., all repeated twice)

                North pole, south pole, equator, tropic of cancer, tropic of Capricorn

                Arctic circle, Antarctic circle, north Frigid zone, south Frigid zone.


                North Am. South Am. Europe Asia Africa (and probably Australia)

                Arctic ocean, Pacific ocean, Indian ocean.

 Etc., etc., until we had covered each map naming the states, rivers, bays, straits, capes, isthmus, islands, mountains, and more etc.

 Next Henry Hall had a term and I think it was Charley’s last term.  I know the two were about even in Arithmetic and some problems were a puzzle to them.  That year a young German John Jonas, boarded at Grandmothers.  He was maybe 20 or 22 and had been educated in Germany.  Pete Bertram would translate the problems and John Jonas would show them the solution, which was quite a wonder to me.  He went to our school to learn English.

 We then had Mr. Tracy, who was a born teacher but not so well educated.  He was the one who taught us the animal rhyme, the rules for arithmetic and boundaries for the states, and also the Presidents from Washington to the 14th (My ambition now is to have some one of our rhyming relatives complete the list to the present.  Let us have it next year).

 The map “The stream of time,” which Rex now has, has been in the family longer than I can remember.  (And every time we go to Iron Mountain we get it out and I study it.)  This hung at first in our living room and we repeated the larger print, twice of course, beginning Stream of time, stream of time, or charters of, or charters of universal history, universal history.  This map afterwards hung in the girls bedroom and we often used to begin on it before we were up in the morning.  But the usual time for our “Concert Recitations” was after supper.  I can see us now gathering around the fire with the rocking chair filling up first, and a baby or two on Ezra’s lap when he was at home.  Then we repeated all the lessons and rhymes we ever knew, and we had exhausted the arithmetic and geography and sighed for more worlds to conquer, we would begin on

                Tuttle cracker, Tuttle cracker,

                Emily cracker, Emily cracker,

                Ezra cracker, Ezra cracker, Charley and Etc through our immediate family, the Petches and all the neighbors, until bed time.

 Another winters play when the older ones were seated around the table, Till, Jule, and Sate, (I always reading) played what they called “keeping house or working in a tavern.”  Mrs. Petch had worked in a tavern in Ionia, and had told us of the work she did and the ways of the house, and nothing more was needed except what their imagination supplied.  Their houses were furnished beautifully and there was no limit to the beautiful dishes and things they had to eat.  Each one working about and telling what they were doing. 

Plowman Family Tree

Plowman Family Tree



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