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.