In 1922 Lide Plowman wrote another chapter in her family’s history as she recounted her memories of her mother and other members of the Plowman family. We will continue to run the family tree chart at the end of the post to help you keep all the people in the story straight.
Last year I told you more of Father and now I shall tell you most of Mother, Emily Crane Plowman. Father’s name was William Tuttle Plowman and he was always called Tuttle only when his nieces and nephews called him “Uncle Tut.”
Mother was born in Orange Co., New York, father’s native county, in 1824. After her mother Elizabeth Crane married Mr. Stidd, who was not kind to her, she went to live with Uncle Sammy and Aunt Sarah Crane. She was then about three or four. They first migrated to Ohio and later when Mother was about fourteen to Oakland County, where many of Uncle Sammy’s relatives lived. Besides his sister, our grandmother, he had brothers Francis, John, Joseph, Aaron, Gilbert (called Gil) and others I do not recall.
They never had any children of their own and took another girl Arminda, who was younger than mother. They were very good people but were not financially prosperous and always had a hard time to get along, but in spite of this they were willing to care for those who needed help and later took three other children.
Sometime after Father came to Clinton County, Uncle Sammy and his brother Francis (Abigail’s father), came too. They settled on what we know as the Trierweiler Farm and Uncle Francis just east of this. Uncle Francis’ wife’s name was Polexany, Lext for short, and they ate off the same plate!
When Father was left with three little children his sisters Adeline and Sarah came and stayed with him a year when he and Mother were married. Uncle Sammy’s were opposed to this for Mother was only nineteen and Father was eleven years older, besides having the three little children.
The other girl Arminda married James Randall and lived in Ionia. He dressed fine and was not a farmer and Uncle Sammy’s quite approved, but it did not turn out so well for he was not so good a provider.
Father knew that Uncle Sammy’s did not like him very well, for years later Mother and I found a letter he had written to Arminda, in which he intimated that he was the better man of the two and that Mother had not done so bad after all. As I remember he had not written to make Arminda feel badly, but anyway it was never sent.
After Mother and Arminda were married, Uncle Sammy’s not living alone, took his brother Joseph’s three children, Ira, Charlotte, and James. They were living there as long as I can remember. I heard that Charlotte was still living the last time I was in Ionia. I must have been eleven years old when Aunt Sarah died, and they had no one to care for this family.
About this time they heard that Grandmother was living in Jackson. They had not heard from her since they left New York. Father and Mother went to visit them. After Aunt Sarah died it was planned for Grandmother, her husband, and Amanda to come take care of and live with Uncle Sammy and the children. He did not live long and left the forty acres and house to Grandmother, and the forty acres across the road from Father’s farm to the three children, Ira, Charlotte, and James who then went to Ionia where Uncle Francis and other Crane relatives lived. Mother’s uncles lived in Oakland, a large family of them. I remember best Uncle John. We children always called him the rich uncle, with his stovepipe hat and his broadcloth cutaway coat. He was taken sick at Uncle Sammy’s and died there. His children as many as nine or ten came to see him and care for him. They were much at our house as we had more room and Father was a good provider.
Father and Mother were what we would call thrifty, as they never spent more than they made and accumulated more, so that in later years they had aplenty, although both had been brought up without any extras.
It must have been a great change for Mother from a family of four with three women to a family of five with one woman and three little children. I never heard her complain as the family increased and the added work came to her. The house was no larger than Uncle Sammy’s, but they soon had a new one with more conveniences with means to furnish what was needed. They lived in this good log house, which was lathed and plastered on the inside (which was very unusual in those days) until Uncle John Benedict built the new house soon after the Civil War, and is the house which stands on the old farm now.
When we think of the spinning, weaving, knitting, making, and cooking for the ever increasing family we wonder how one could do it all, and board the teacher too. Not to speak of the peddlers and tramps who happened along, for Father could never turn anyone away and Mother never complained even when Mr. Slocum came and camped down for three weeks, until I told Father if he didn’t tell him to go I would. I was about fifteen then. Then he went to Uncle Ed’s but he sent him on the same night knowing that he was shiftless and would not work.
The work in such a family as we has kept a woman busy most of the time, where everything we wore was made at home.
The things I remember must be about fifteen years after Father came to Clinton County when I was about seven and older.
We had a hand machine for breaking the flax, a hatchel for removing the straw, and a small wheel for spinning the flax. But after, I remember, Mother did not weave linen cloth, such as she wore when she was a child. It might have been she hated it so herself that she could not punish any of us by making us wear it. She must have gotten the cotton cloth from Detroit and later from DeWitt, Portland, Lyons, or Ionia.
But she did spin and weave wool cut from our own sheep. We often had the yarn spun by the McVeigh girls, but Mother wove it, as Till and I are good witnesses, for we handled the piece in as we called it, when Mother drew one thread in at a time in the harnass which took us about half a day. And we had to keep our eyes right on the threads and watch out for what we called flats; as it made a poor streak in the goods.
Then when Mother had it ready to weave, we had to fill the quills. If this skein of yarn ran smoothly and no snarls in it, it was not much trouble. The quills were about five inches long, made from elder stalks with the pith cleaned out. We must have had from fifty to a hundred of these quills so she need not have to wait. Ezra and Charlie must have helped Mother before we were old enough. When the quills were most empty we were called to fill them again. All the yarn used in weaving the cloth had to be wound on these quills, some work you see, for little children.
This woolen cloth was used to make all the men’s suits, good and everyday, some of the girls clothes, and for bed blankets. We always had home woven petticoats until I was about sixteen, when we made the last ones for all the girls, called “balmorals” and they were very pretty indeed. I cannot remember many woolen dresses that I wore of Mother’s weaving.
It was no small job just to spin and knit stockings for such a large family. We made stockings for Father as long as he lived and he wore long ones too. I think I must have been twelve years old before I had my first pair of stockings from the store.