As told by Aunt Hattie (part 1)

This is a picture of my great grandfather and great grandmother (me, my mom, her mom, her parents) , Franklin and Augusta Castle, with Hattie. Hattie wrote some of her stories by pen before her death in 1965. I have been blessed with copies that I have tried to present without any correction. Just as she remembered them.

Hattie had four older brothers, two of whom died in childhood. The new baby sister she speaks of is my grandmother Grace, followed by four more boys and another girl.

My grandmother Grace didn't write any memoirs, however she had a treasure trove of old pictures, such as this one of her mom and dad and half sister.

To you who choose to read on, thank you, and enjoy her memories.


MY CHILDHOOD HOME

I was born in the little town of Bucks Bridge, New York, October 2nd, 1869, the year that the 1st railroad was completed across the U.S. But the following spring my parents and two brothers, Herbert and Newton, moved to a farm 4 miles out of Battlecreek, Michigan, where we had a nice home overlooking a pretty lake where we used to bathe in the summer and where my brothers used to skate in the winter. Also, they and Father used to cut holes in the ice and catch fish. They caught pickerel. My Father caught one that was too long to lay in the broiler.

We had all kinds of berries and fruit on the place and my Father marketed it in Battle Creek. He also raised lots of melons and garden produce to market. My Mother was a New England woman and a good cook, and our cellar and pantry was always full of good things to eat.

I never had many playmates as all the near neighbors were old people and their children were all grown and gone. My uncles family lived by us for a while and then my cousin Charlie, who was just my age, used to have good times together. I well remember one day we were playing and saw some strawberries just beginning to turn a very little, but we thought we would surprise Aunt Mary with some for supper. But she didn't seem to be pleased at all with our gift - at all - but ordered us to stay away from the berries.

But they moved away from there and I was left alone again. My brother had married when I was five and Newton was going to College at Battle Creek and was home only at vacations and weekends. My Father took him to school Monday morning and got him Friday afternoon. He used to try to interest me as best he knew how, but he was almost ten years older than I, and I the only girl, so he hardly knew how. I remember one day he taught me how to turn summersaults. So I went and told Mother how I could turn one and proceeded to show her, but she said that it isn't nice for a little girl (to turn summersaults). He would make bows and arrows, sling shots, and all kinds of boys playthings. When I was five or six, we went with team and wagon to my first camp meeting at Marshall, Michigan. That was a great event for me - to live in a tent and eat out doors. In those days we didn't have bakeries to get our bread and food from but we had to take it all from home prepared. My most - memory of that camp meeting was seeing a little girl that wouldn't talk to me, so I asked my Father why she wouldn't and he told me she was deaf and dumb.That was all I remember of that camp meeting.

The next one I attended, when seven, was at Lansing, Michigan. We went by train and as we pulled into Lansing, the back coach we were riding in uncoupled from the train and we went back down the track. My Mother and I were quite excited as my Father had just gone into the car ahead, but they soon got it stopped and the train came back and hooked on to the runaway car.

My memory there was seeing the Capital building and going through the reform school and children working there.

One other trip I remember was going huckleberring. You see, the huckleberries there grow in marshes and where we went was inside a man's field and he charged us to go in, and then you can pick all day. We drove in and my Father and brother went back in the jungle to pick. The brush was so thick and tall you couldn't see out. I was to stay right at the wagon so not to get lost; and Mother was to pick near. Well, she was the one to get lost. When she wanted to come out, she didn't know which way to go.

I heard her call, so I answered her and in that way she finally got out. Well, they got a nice lot of berries and then went back home.

Mother always had a nice lot of flowers, which I always enjoyed watching, especially the four o'clock. I would ask Mother if it was four o'clock so I could watch them open. One summer Eliza was helping pick raspberries and she put Eva, aged one year, into an apple box and left me to watch her. I was seven. Well, I fed her raspberries and when her mother came to see her, she had berries all over her face and hair. Also, her nice dress was a sight. But she was happy if her mother wasn't; she was afraid she would be sick.

That fall, Eliza's Mother and brother Herbie (who later became her husband) came up one day to visit Mother, and Herbie came along, and Mother said I could take my dishes on the porch and have a little dinner there. That was the first time I ate dinner with him but not the last - for a few years later I met him in Colorado and we ate many meals together.

I went to the little country school the winters I was seven and eight - had to walk a mile and a half to school. The spring after I was eight, Mother had pneumonia and died. She died on a Wednesday evening and Friday morning when we got up we found Grandma dying. We didn't know she was sick. She walked outside the night before, taking hold of my hand. So, then we had their funeral together and they were buried side by side in one grave awaiting the call of the Life Giver. Elder Uriah Smith preached their funeral sermon and they were buried in the little cemetery near home.

Well, after Mother and Grandma died it left my Father and I all alone, as my brother Newton was staying in Battle Creek going to college. So my Father rented rooms in town where a lady could fix me for school and do up our work after we were gone. My Father had bought a livery outfit and was driving a hack for the San (the hospital?), carrying patients to and from there. I went to the college to school - in those days all grades went there from the first 'til all through college. In a short time my Father got acquainted with a widow lady working at the San and thought he had to have someone to take care of me, and he wouldn't let someone else take me.

My first acquaintance of my stepmother was one day he took her for a ride out to our old home, and he had a nice patch of onions there. And the first thing she did was to make a beeline for them, and gathered a bunch, then went to Eliza, who was living near, and got some fresh bread and butter and had a feed. I didn't know at that time she was to be my stepmother.

My Father then sold our home and bought a place in town and he run a livery outfit. My stepmother was always very good to me, but of course, she was very young and did things so much different than my Mother, that one day, I told her my Mother wouldn't have done that way, and she thought me sassy so she whipped me. Of course, I didn't think she had a right to do that, so I went right out to the barn and told Father. He just said, "You must mind her and not talk back." But he told her, if I didn't mind, to tell him, and he would see to me. But, we never had any more trouble, and as far as I can remember, he never did whip me.

Well, the next May I was glad to have a sister as I had always wanted one. I went to school whenever I was well enough, although I never went a full term while there. While living there, they had a camp meeting on the fairground not far from where we lived. Also while there, the tabernacle was built. It had a large clock in the cupola that could be seen and heard for a long ways, and I thought it was quite a treat to go to the dedication.

While living there, I got to see my Aunt Calista and cousin Jay. The only one of my Mother's folks I ever saw to remember. I heard her husband, Uncle Seymore Whitney, preach. He was one of the ministers.

I loved the school at Battle Creek and hated to leave it, but my Father sold and moved to Cedar Lake where my brothers were both working, Herbert in the pine woods and Newton checking in a store there. My Father bought a small place out a little ways from town and built us a nice home there. I went to school the year I was 12 years old, until in March I got the measles so didn't get to go any more that year. My Father had them and was very sick with them. Then when I was fourteen, I went to school and Geo Canviness taught - a graduate of Battle Creek College - was going to school when I was there. That was the only year that I ever got to go all the term and it was my last school year. When I was fourteen, had to stay at home to help do the work. I loved school and wanted very much to get an education, but it didn't seem my luck.

My brothers got me a side saddle and pony, so it was my job to rustle the milk cow. There was open pasture through the pine timber and the slashing, so she could go quite a distance away.

Also, my Father and I picked blackberries that grow wild all through the slashings. One day we went with the horse and buggy over an old corduroy road to an old deserted saw mill and picked. They were lovely berries there and I picked 90 qts. that day and sold them. Well, we picked late and it got dark quick in the thick pine timber on both sides of the road. All at once we heard what sounded like someone hurt or in distress. Father stopped the horse and asked what was wrong. No reply. So we started on again and the cry was repeated but when we stopped - no reply. So we made up our mind it was a panther. It followed us quite a ways, but as we got near to town, didn't hear it any more. It was so dark we couldn't see anything.

In winter we had a nice hill where we went coasting. While living there I and a school mate were baptized in a little lake near Cedar Lake. Well, the summer before I was fifteen, my brother wrote, urging my Father to come to Colorado as up the Ute Indian Reservation to be settled and they were each taking a 160 acres joining each other and he could get one joining theirs if he came right away, so as he then had three boys growing, he thought he better get a place. So he sold out. We packed things to ship when we got settled, and we boarded the train bag and baggage, which meant quite a bit, with 4 little kids.


So that was the way we left
Michigan.

Comments

Vicki said…
This is just terrific. I love history first hand. What a treasure these letters are.

When she wrote of her Mama dying and then her Grandmother. She must have felt alone. What a precious Daddy she had to provide for her. Tender and sweet.

look forward to more.
Karmyn R said…
Times are so different now, arn't they?

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