Plowman Poetry: Dora and Luther Plan a Prank

September 2, 2009


Sate Plowman, author of the poem

Sate Plowman, author of the poem

The following un-titled poem was written by Sarah Elizabeth “Sate” Plowman Hodges about an event that transpired between 1885 and 1890.  This is a wonderful example of the Plowman family — their humor, their poetry, their love for one another.  It is written in the literary style of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem Song of Hiawatha, written 1855.  I remember memorizing parts of Song of Hiawatha,and when Sandra read me Sate’s poem, I immediately recognized the cadence.

For those readers who have not followed the saga of the Plowman family, here is a brief synopsis of family members.  The author is “Sate,” one of the eleven Plowman brothers and sisters.  The brother from the far away mountains is probably George Fawcett Plowman who moved to Iron

Dora Plowman Bliss

Dora Plowman Bliss, co-conspirator

Mountain, Michigan, and ran a florist business.  Dora is Dora Plowman, wife of Herman Sidney Bliss.  The little daughter she kisses is Iva Bliss.  Luther is another brother of the Plowman clan.  Following the picnic, brother and sister Dora and Luther conspire to play a joke on the rest of the family the following Christmas. 

I am sorry I never had the opportunity to attend a Plowman Christmas Tree because reading this poem, I am sure I would have loved this family and their wit.


In a very pleasant country,

Where the ground was white in winter,

Where the flowers were bright in summer,

Where the sun at night did linger,

Where the robins loved to gather.


 In that mild and pleasant country

Lived a kind and loving family,

Many brothers, many sisters,

Dwelt in unison together.


In a city of the mountains,

Far away in that lone country,

Lived a brother of the family,

Of this kind and loving family.


It was very long ago,

Many months and years ago,

That he came to visit kindred,

Left his home and left his fireside,

Came to visit brothers, sisters,

Home of childhood came to visit.


Then the brothers and the sisters

Of this kind and loving family

Planned to take a pleasant journey

With the brother from the mountains,

Planned to visit farm and country,

Visit haunts of early childhood.


In a near and prosperous city,

With her family, lived a sister.

She too planned to take this journey,

Take this very pleasant journey.


Now the son, so young and nimble,

With his eyes so keen and steady,

He had clipped and groomed the pony,

Clipped the strong and faithful pony.


And the goodman of the household,

In the moon had early risen,

Fed the pony very early,

Fed her grain and well he fed her,

Gave her hay, much hay he gave her.


From the barn he took the buggy,

Greased the wheels,

And made things ready,

Then he called her for the journey.

Long had she been ready, waiting,

Carefully had planned the luncheon

And within the well filled basket

Placed the onions sweet and fragrant.


Very pleasant was the journey

To the farm and to the country,

To the orchard and the meadow,

To the flats they well remembered

Where in childhood they had rambled,

Where they found the pussy willow,

Where they swung upon the grapevine,

Where they hunted for the goose egg,

Where they skated in the winter,

Where they gathered flowers in summer,

Chased the squirrel

And picked the cowslip.


When at noon they had grown weary

They were glad of well filled baskets.

By the green tree they had gathered,

On the green grass spread their luncheon,

Of the meat there was aplenty,

Cakes and pies were quite delicious

Sweetest honey and the melon.


Then the sister, she the generous,

From basket took the onions,

Passed them round,

Again she passed them

To the brothers and the sisters,

To the sisters too she passed them.


They were fresh and sweet and spicy

And they ate and still they ate them.

It did make their tongues run glibly

Made them eat and talk and chatter,

Made the children blithe and happy,

In the trees the children scampered

After squirrel and after chipmunk.


Sister Dora, she so pleasant,

Gathering up the many fragments,

Placed an onion, sweet and tender,

With the fragments in her basket.


Pleasant was the journey homeward

In the cool shade of the evening.

When near another festive season

Sister Dora, she so pleasant,

Always so serene and happy

Seemed at times to grow more thoughtful.

On her brow there was a shadow,

She seemed planning, thinking, planning,

Ever thinking, ever planning.


All at once she seemed more hopeful,

Then consulted her kind husband,

Kissed again the little daughter,

Told them she would be back early,

Told them she would not long tarry.

Quickly on her way she started,

Gladly then she hurried forward.

Went she, till the hills and sand were plenty,

Till the sand was very plenty.


There she found her brother Luther,

Luther poet of the family.

Then she told him of the onion

She had found within her basket.

Long they talked in secret planning

Till she saw the sun descending,

Then she quickly hastened homeward.


Now the brother’s mind seemed busy

In the past he now was wandering.

Sat he quiet, still and quiet,

Very silent, sat he thinking.


The good wife by the fire still lingering,

From her eyes askance was looking,

Knew she well the muses lingered,

Knew she well why he was thinking,

Liked she not then to disturb him,

But she gently did remind him

Of the chores he had forgotten.


Went he slowly to the cupboard,

For the lantern reached and halted,

Still his mind was very busy

With the muses still he lingered.


To the barn he slowly wandered,

Fed the sheep and fed the cattle,

Fed the horses grain and watered.

Looking at the faithful horses

Made him think of many journeys,

Many long and faithful journeys

In the past that he had taken.


Then his eyes began to brighten

And his steps begin to quicken,

To the house he then did hasten,

Quickly called the dark eyed maiden

To bring ink and pen and tablet

Then he wrote some pretty verses,

Pretty verses wrote the poet.


Now the brother and the sister

Took the verses and the onion,

Took them to the Christmas gathering

To remind them of the journey,

Of that very pleasant journey.


That was very long ago,

Many months and years ago.

Now again, we bring the onion

To another Christmas gathering.

It is no more sweet and fragrant,

It is no more fresh and spicy,

But we bring it as a sweet reminder

Of that journey to the country

When they passed and ate the onions

With the brother from the mountains.




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 Bliss – Daniells Wedding, August 14, 1907

July 23, 2009
The Plowman family members who attended the Bliss-Daniells wedding.

The Plowman family members who attended the Bliss-Daniells wedding.


Following is the newspaper account of the wedding of Iva Bliss and W.C. Daniells.  Although I have the actual clipping, the name of the newspaper and date of the article is not on the clipping.  Group pictures were taken of the attendees and of the Plowman family by Estee Daniells, brother of the groom.  Both photographs are in the possession of Jim Winegar, the one of all the guests hanging over the mantle in his Michigan lake cottage.

The newspaper account reads:

The event of last week was the Daniells-Bliss wedding, which occurred on Wednesday at noon, every feature of which was the most auspicious possible, not a single occurrence to mar the flow of geniality and good spirits.  One hundred and thirty-five guests were present to witness the ceremony, which was the short ring service, performed most impressively by Rev. Dr. DeLamarter, of Lansing, assisted by the M. E. pastor, Rev. D. A. Rood.  The bridal party consisted of Miss Hazel Field, maid of honor; and Mr. Rex Plowman, best man, both cousins of the bride, the Misses Pearl Benedict, Lora Cooley and Deone Lee, bridesmaids, and Messrs. King Lee and Roy Rice, groomsmen, little Miss Bailey, of Lansing, flower girl, Paul Maier, ring bearer, with Mrs. Cooley at the piano, who rendered Mendelssohn’s wedding march.  They marched from an upper room in the usual manner, the bride coming last, leaning upon the arm of her father, and stood in front of a bank of ferns and water lilies, the bridal couple standing under a beautiful bell composed of sweet peas.  All the decorations were by an uncle of the bride, Mr. George Plowman, a florist of Iron Mountain, Upper Peninsula.  The bride was attired in a dress of lace net, elaborately embroidered with darned work, and made over white silk, all the labor and gift of her mother, and carried a shower bouquet of beautiful pink and white roses.  Congratulations followed the ceremony, and soon after all were summoned to an elaborate six course dinner, the preparation and serving of which would have done honor to a professional caterer.  The dining hall consisted of a large tent spread on the lawn west of the house, and was screened from the sun and street by a woven wire fence set upon the north and west sides, and thatched with wild rice seven feet high, making a decorative as well as effectual screen.  Occasionally during the dinner Rex Plowman entertained the guests by singing the verses of an original poem enlarging upon the “beauties” of the groom’s new farm in the Texas gulf country, in which cotton, cactus, mesquite, Texas rattlers, and other characteristics were touched upon in a manner peculiarly his own.  Later Miss Pearl Benedict sang magnificently several with the bride as accompanist.  Mr. Frank Andrews sang the laughing song so effectually that all his audience joined in the chorus by compulsion.  Rex Plowman recited dramatically several selections, and Mrs. Frank Andrews sang several songs, in one of which her sister, Miss Pearl, joined.  Estee Daniells photographed several groups, one of the families of Daniells’ relatives, one of the Plowman’s and branches, and one of the remainder of the guests.  It was a most genial company, every one seeking the pleasure of the rest, which is the height of entertainment.

Among the guests from out of town were, Mr. and Mrs. George Plowman, of Iron Mountain, U.P., and son Rex; Mrs. Barbara Plowman, of Isabella county; Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Plowman, and Mr. and Mrs. B.B. Smith of Alma; Rev. Dr. and Mrs. DeLamarter, Mr. and Mrs. Del Field, daughter and son; Mr. and Mrs. Bailey and daughter; Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Hodges, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Hodges, Dr. and Mrs. T.M. Sanford, Mrs. Sarah Daniels, Mr. Sidney Bliss, and Mr. and Mrs. Earl Bliss of Lansing; Mr. and Mrs. E. S. Daniells of London, England; Mr. and Mrs. Allan L. Daniells, Chicago; Dr. and Mrs. Ralph P. Daniells, Toledo, O.; Mr. and Mrs. E. B. Escott and Miss Laura Escott, Grand Rapids, Mrs. Mary A. Bearmore and Mrs. Sarah Corey, of Brooklyn, New York; Mr. Knight of Elsie; and Mrs. Josenhans, a friend from Ypsilanti, and the others were from home and near-by towns.

About 5 o’clock p.m. a large hayrack well cushioned with hay appeared and was quickly loaded to the edge, a broom from which was suspended old shoes, their ensign, and the march taken up for the village.  At every house greetings and their yells were given – “Married, married, yes, they are; the bride and groom are going afar; hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Boom!” and a song sung which usually brought responses and congratulations.  At Daniells & Cooley’s store a shower of peanuts was rained upon them, and at Douglas’ a shower of candy kisses.

The wedding gifts were many and valuable, beautiful and useful.  The couple left for their Texas home Friday afternoon and were accompanied by several carriage loads of friends to the train at Grand Ledge, where they were sent away amid the usual showers of rice, etc., and many adieus and blessings.

They stopped over a few hours at Grand Rapids, taking supper with Mrs. C.A. Wall, an aunt of the groom, and will stop a few days in Chicago, and few days with the groom’s parents in Fort Worth, Texas.

Ancestors of Donald Stephenson Winegar and Mary Daniells Winegar

June 20, 2009
Ancestors of Donald Stephenson Winegar

Ancestors of Donald Stephenson Winegar


Ancestors of Mary Daniells Winegar

Ancestors of Mary Daniells Winegar

These charts are included so that viewers can see who my ancestors are and have an understanding of what family lines I have information and pictures on.  The first pictures I posted on are from a family photo album of Carey Reed Daniells and Catherine Stowell Daniells the grandparents of Mary.

As I add more pictures, I will provide information here as to what has been added.