Today we conclude Lide Plowman’s letter in 1921 in which she remembers her father and all the activities of her younger days. The chart of the family tree is at the bottom of this post.
Father was a good manager. I cannot remember the time when we lacked any of the necessaries, and we had many luxuries. His motto on which we were raised was “Sell what you do not need to eat”. So cream, butter and eggs were used as we needed them.
Father was very handy with tools. He and Sam Boughton made the loom which we all remember and will acknowledge was well made and substantial, also the warping bars and scarns (I cannot find this word in the dictionary), quill heads and I do not know about the big wheel and reel.
The house was later lathed and plastered by father, and we had many things our neighbors did without.
I remember when he took the last load of wheat to Detroit, driving horses, and received 50¢ a bushel. He brought home worsted checked cloth for mother and grandmother dresses alike. After that he could get money for it nearer home, so that the trips to Oakland and Detroit were visiting trips.
I went with them when I was eight and Sate [note: Sate was Sarah Elizabeth, JSW] was little, and I had a straw bonnet which made me rather vain. Uncle George’s was our first stopping place and aunt Mary Brown lived three miles from there. We had a horse team and stayed in Lansing the first night at the Old’s Hotel. From Lansing on we had plank (1853) roads and had to pay toll before we could pass the toll gates.
Father, aunts Eliza and Mary, had quite a good district school education. He was much interested in learning, and had quite a few books and read the news papers thoroughly. The New York Tribune was a constant visitor with us. He took an interest in all the things that helped to make good citizens. It was a great cross to him when the sight of one eye was injured by a wood chip.
After that I read the papers to him, which was the year Freemont was running for President, and was beaten by Buchanan (1857). I got my first taste of politics then, and like it still. He was always school director and took the Michigan Educational Journal. It was from this journal that he found the problem for me to solve, which was a study for me for weeks or months. I give credit to father for stimulating in me a desire for knowledge.
A hare to shun a gray hound ran full 40 leaps before the dog began. And for her life so nimbly did she strive, that to his three leaps she gave always five. But two of his are equal to her three. To catch the hare, how many leaps made he?
I finally studied until I proved he could never catch her. But father thought I must be mistaken. When I studied algebra I found they sometimes gave problems with negative answers. I am sure this one problem helped me greatly in my study of mathematics. [Note: I agree with Lide. The dog will never catch the hare. JSW]
Father had a great deal to do in running the business of the township. I do not remember when he was not Justice of the Peace, and the office of Supervisor was about equally divided between him and Moses Bartow. Mr. Bartow was a democrat with only a few republicans in the township. But father had the confidence of the people, and many staunch friends among the leaders. When neighbors had trouble and came to him to try the law on them, he would always talk to them and try to adjust it out of court, while the other justices enjoyed the lawsuits, indeed rather courted them.
This has been all of father, as most of you do not know of the long ago, but mother would fill as large a paper with all she had to do and faithfulness with which she fulfilled her duties to a large family.
She lived very near her children and entered into their joys and sorrows as a faithful mother should. What pleasure it was to have her come out and play “coop” and “Hide and seek” with us. She had great tact in making work seem play, such as running races at knitting and sewing, and seeing who could shell the most peas. We were eager to work with her then, and it made work play when we were working with her.
Our older brother have given her a tribute that any woman might crave, that she was a good a mother to them as an own mother could be. And we younger children did not know the difference between them and ourselves. No one ever had better brothers than they, and no mother had better children.