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Chapter 2:

  • The war with Mexico
  • -- my father enlists for the war -- elected captain of his company -- encounters young Lieutenant John A. Logan -- an intimacy formed at once crossing the great American desert -- too late for the war -- father's three years in California -- I am sent to boarding-school in Kentucky -- the sisters and the slaves -- girlish escapades -- vacation employments -- graduation -- marriage at seventeen to prosecuting Attorney Logan, twelve years my senior -- the wedding -- removal to Benton -- early housekeeping--“fair week” -- expert equestriennes -- birth of my two eldest children and death of my first -- born.

The Mexican War of 1847-8 afforded many an opportunity to prove their patriotism and give vent to their adventurous inclinations. Communication with Washington was very limited, but when it was found that volunteers were called for, as war had been declared with Mexico, astonishing numbers rushed into the towns to try to get on the rolls. I can just remember seeing my father borne aloft above the heads of the men who elected him captain of the company. He had enlisted to serve three years, or until peace was declared. He had been sheriff of the county, and probably was the most popular man in Williamson County. The moment he announced his intention of going many more than he could enroll volunteered to go with him. The town of Marion, where we lived, was on that day thronged with people. As soon as the roster of a company was complete the men elected my father captain by acclamation. They seized him, and, to the music of a fife and drum, they hoisted him above their heads, and carried him around the court-house, shouting and [27] huzzaing, regardless of his attempts to be put down. I remember how, on hearing the noise and music, my mother went to the door. Seeing father in his elevated position, she knew what it all meant and began to cry, while we children gazed wild-eyed, first at father and then at mother's tearful face, wondering what it was all about. As soon as father could get away, he came home to tell mother he was going to Mexico. All was commotion in the home for many days following. Father's company was made Company B, 1st Regiment, Illinois Infantry Volunteers. He was ordered to march his company to Alton, Illinois, where the regiment was to rendezvous. I shall never forget the pathetic scenes which occurred the day they left Marion to begin their long march, which ended in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The wives, daughters, and sweethearts of the one hundred and ten men came into town to say their good-bys. The morning was spent in the final preparations. After a twelve-o'clock dinner, at the sound of the drum and fife, the men stepped in line, and at father's command, “Forward, march!” they moved off like veteran soldiers, leaving aching hearts and tearful eyes behind them.

Arriving at Alton, father found his old friend and legislative colleague, Captain Hampton, of Jackson County, in command of Company H of the 1st Regiment. Father's men were from the counties adjoining Williamson. Captain Hampton's first lieutenant was John A. Logan, of Jackson County. My father was extremely fond of young Logan, as he was full of fun, of a genial disposition, brave as a lion, and delighted in adventure. An intimacy soon sprang up between my father and the young officers, especially young Logan, which grew stronger when, years after their return, Lieutenant Logan demanded that father should redeem his promise to give me to him as his bride.

I have often heard father and General Logan give thrilling accounts of their experiences in crossing the Great American [28] Desert on foot; of being chased by the Indians, the tortures of hunger, their devouring thirst while marching along the banks of the alkali streams, the waters of which they dared not drink. They were both deeply grieved that they did not reach their destination until too late to participate in any of the engagements of the Mexican War.

They had returned but a short time before the marvellous stories of the discovering of gold in California were started. Desirous of further adventure, many of those who had been to Mexico were wild to repeat their long march across the plains to California, my father among them. In the early spring of 1849 these daring spirits again assembled at Alton, Illinois, to join an overland train for Sacramento, California.

The season was dry, and the grass was very scarce and unusually short; hence but one-third of the party and but very few of the animals survived the three months they spent in making the long journey. The graves of their comrades marked the route they had taken over the Rocky Mountains and across the trackless desert. Then followed another three months of waiting before my father's letters reached us. I can to this day in imagination hear the sound of the long horn the stage-driver used to blow as he entered our town at the midnight hour twice a week. An old friend was postmaster, and would always open the mail to see if there were letters from California. I was then but twelve years of age, and yet at the first sound of the horn, in moonlight or darkness, I would rush out and never stop running till I reached the post-office, which was the residence of the postmaster. Sometimes I used to be almost frightened out of my wits by the bluff old driver, who would insist upon talking to me. In winter he wore an overcoat made of buffalo-skins and, to my childish eyes, looked as terrible as that animal. After weeks and months of anxiety and disappointment, at last the postmaster handed me letters for mother and myself. It seemed to me I never ran so swiftly before. Mother was almost overcome, [29] as she read page after page of father's graphic stories of all that had taken place since he left us; of his disappointments and successes; of the legions of seekers after gold from every country on the globe; of his longing to return home and his tender messages to us children. No such long intervals between his letters again occurred, as the mails from California subsequently came by sea around the Horn. He remained two and a half years, reaching home in 1853, soon after Franklin Pierce's inauguration.

Shortly after father's return home he was appointed by President Pierce registrar of the land office at Shawneetown, Illinois. It was an important appointment, on account of the passage by Congress of the “Bit act,” which meant that actual settlers inside the radius of the district of which Shawneetown was the headquarters could enter one hundred and sixty acres of land, at twelve and one-half cents per acre. As the time was limited for such entries, it was necessary for father to assume the duties of the office as soon as possible. We removed to Shawneetown, and father opened the land office on the first floor of the large house he was able to secure as a residence. It was on the main street, which ran along the banks of the Ohio River. He had little leisure from his first day as registrar.

The question as to where I was to be sent to school was soon settled. Father took me to Saint Vincent's Academy near Morganfield, Kentucky. Saint Vincent's was a branch of the celebrated Nazareth Convent of Kentucky. It was then, and still is, one of the best schools in the whole country. In the community where I had always lived there were few Catholics, and no churches, monks, nuns, or priests. I was totally ignorant of the ceremonies and symbols of the church and of the significance of the costumes worn by the priests and nuns, and had consequently much to learn that was not in the curriculum of the school. I was in my fifteenth year, but had had more experience in the realities of life than [30] many older girls on account of being the eldest of a large family, for whom mother and I had to care during father's absence in Mexico, and subsequently in California.

I can never forget the tremor which seized me when father and I entered the convent grounds. I saw the nuns walking about in their flaring white caps of the Order of Saint Vincent's, and their sombre black gowns. The priest, Father Durbin, was in his garden, walking up and down bareheaded, saying his prayers. The church was built in the form of a cross, and was gray with age. One arm of the cross was the convent and the other Father Durbin's home and study. The large cross over the front apex impressed me as being probably the one upon which our Saviour was crucified. Under the interlacing branches of the grand old trees we walked up to the entrance of the convent, my limbs shaking with fright. For once I was silent, as I could not have spoken had my life depended upon it. The bars and grates of the doors and windows suggested incarceration to my unsophisticated mind.

In answer to father's ring the angelic face of a sister appeared at the little grated panel in the door, and, upon father's announcing his name, she quickly unlocked the door and invited us into the parlor. Under the influence of her gentle manner and the immaculate appointment of the room, together with the bright wood-fire in the fireplace, I began to feel less frightened. After seating us, the sister withdrew to call the sister superior. Before Sister Isabella came in, I had scanned the pictures of Christ on the Cross, Saint Anthony, and other saints on the walls; admired the pretty rag carpet, old mahogany furniture, and literally everything in the parlor, down to the fine old brass andirons and fender. In a few moments Sister Isabella came in. She was short and very stout, had a jolly face, and the cordial greeting so important in a mother superior. She drew me close to her, and, in a voice of tenderness, welcomed me as one of her girls. I soon [31] forgot my terror, and thought her cap and gown especially becoming to her.

After luncheon father completed all the arrangements for my remaining for the school year of nine months and took his leave, while I, with tearful eyes, was led by Sister Isabella into the convent proper, and introduced to some of the older girls, who acted as hostesses to the new arrivals. At first I was very homesick, but soon forgot my unhappiness surrounded by light-hearted companions and the good, kind sisters who were ever ready to comfort and cajole the homesick and unhappy.

To have any. idea of the conditions at Saint Vincent's in 1854-5, it would be necessary to turn back the leaves of time for more than fifty years, and to realize that scarcely a single advantage which the pupils at Saint Vincent's now enjoy then existed. We were literally pioneers, and the opportunities we had were of the most primitive character;--but, underlying them all was the lovely spirit of devotion, purity, and tenderness of the dear sisters, which made the simplest exercises beautiful and attractive.

In those days we had the cabins of the slaves in the rear of the main buildings of the school. I remember very distinctly some of the pranks in which Sallie Cotton, the Van Landinghams, the Cunninghams, the Lunsfords, the Spauldings, Annie Casey, Mollie Poole, Josie Goddard, Mary Kuykendall, myself, and a host of happy, unaffected, sweet girls indulged. We used to take our finery and deck out the pickaninnies and mammies in harlequin colors, and enjoyed seeing them sally forth to attend parties, religious meetings, and to make visits among their colored friends.

Memory brings back incidents in the lives of these slaves that are as vivid as if I had witnessed them yesterday. Nearly, if not all, of the negroes belonged to the slaveholders in the neighborhood. Among them was Uncle Harry, the overseer's best hand on the big farm connected with the convent. His [32] wife, Aunt Agnes, was the head cook for the girls. We all loved Aunt Agnes, who slipped many dainties to her favorites. She and Uncle Harry had four or five little children. Her old master died, and the sons who inherited the slaves were reckless. They sold Aunt Agnes to some “slave-traders,” who visited that part of Kentucky, picking up “likely niggers” to take them to the New Orleans market. Great excitement followed. Uncle Harry rebelled; the sisters pleaded with the buyers to let them keep her, but they heeded nothing. They came with a sort of grocery wagon, seized Aunt Agnes, tied, and bore her away. She fought them like a tigress and screamed as loud as she could. The children screamed and cried so that the girls discovered what was going on, and, before the sisters could stop them, they rushed out to rescue Aunt Agnes. Seeing them come pell-mell, the brutal men grabbed hold of her and tried to bandage her mouth. The sisters could not bear to hear her cries, and they, too, joined in the pleas for mercy for the poor, innocent creature who was being torn away from her husband and family. The men ordered the driver to whip up the horses, and they galloped away, Agnes's piteous cries reaching us above the clatter of the horses' feet. Sister Isabella led us into the church to pray for Agnes, while the tears were streaming down the cheeks of sisters and girls.

Uncle Harry was never the same. He was sullen and insubordinate to the overseer, who, he thought, had something to do with the sale of Agnes. Soon afterward he and the overseer had some trouble over something which the overseer had ordered Uncle Harry to do. The overseer struck Uncle Harry with a blacksnake whip, whereupon Uncle Harry went at the overseer with an axe, and came near decapitating him. From being one of the most docile, respectful negroes, Uncle Harry had become a veritable demon. Hearing the mele, Sister Isabella ran out to try to restrain Harry. He told her to go into the house; that he would not [33] touch her, but he must be let alone. Our classroom was near Sister Isabella's office and study, and, hearing the loud talking, we ran out to see what the trouble was. I can never forget what a very demon incarnate Uncle Harry looked, as he stood there in a threatening attitude, every muscle tense, and his wild eyes on the alert for a sight of the overseer. We were, of course, frightened, but knew Uncle Harry would do anything for us because of our kindness to “Aggie,” as he called his wife. Two or three of us walked up to him, and, taking hold of his hands, led him to his cabin, promising him that we would get Sister Isabella and Father Durbin to send the overseer away. We bathed his old black back with warm water, and Sister Genevieve brought soft linen cloths and soothing lotions to bind up the wounds made by the whip. Sister Isabella persuaded him to go to bed and stay in his cabin all day. The overseer was glad enough to take flight, and quiet was restored.

We engaged in frolics like most boys and girls who go away from home to school. Three or four of us used to take chances; sometimes they were rather hazardous. One of the graduates of my first year at school married during vacation and was a widow before we returned to school in September, her husband having been killed by an accident. She was a devout Catholic; he a Protestant, and could not, therefore, be buried in the consecrated ground of the cemetery which was near the church. The cemetery was enclosed by a zigzag fence, and she had him buried in one of the outside corners of the fence. They made a rail pen over his grave. We Protestant girls thought it a shame that he should be outside, so, one night when we thought Father Durbin was away visiting the churches under his jurisdiction, we went up to the cemetery. Taking the rails that made the pen, we added another panel, which let the poor fellow's grave inside the sacred grounds. We were mistaken about Father Durbin's being away, and, in the morning, going out to walk, he discovered [34] what had been done. He instituted an investigation, determined to punish the perpetrators of such an outrage. He counted without his host, and failed to find the culprits. He became satisfied the negroes did not do the mischief, but never thought of accusing the girls and finally concluded that it was the work of heretics, of whom there were many in the community. He made the negroes take down our fence and restore the pen over the outsider's grave. We kept still and escaped suspicion, waiting for an auspicious occasion to repeat the adventure. One Saturday night we again extended the fence and took the grave inside. Sunday morning when the people came to early mass and saw what had been done they were highly indignant, and were sure the Protestants in the neighborhood had done the shocking deed. Members of the congregation turned detectives, and sentinels were posted to watch for the marauders. We were afraid to attempt our experiment again, and were, therefore, obliged to let our friend's husband continue his eternal sleep in unhallowed ground. Years afterward I confessed to Father Durbin who the heretics were, and the dear old man insisted he suspected us all the time; but, as we were pretty good girls with all our faults, he granted us absolution. The sisters were shocked; but, as we had all turned out very well, they pardoned us, but prayed us never to tell that we could do such a thing with one of them watching over us all the time.

I remember that on one May-day all the girls got themselves up in their best clothes and escorted Sister Isabella to quite a high place up in the forest opposite the academy. Here we had built a throne, and, putting her on it, we crowned her the “Queen of the May” with so much enjoyment that we were all extremely happy. I can picture now how she looked sitting on her green throne in her uniform. A crown of flowers decked her cap, and a long rope of flowers hung around her neck and about her unsylphlike waist, with long ends hanging down the sides. We had made her a sceptre [35] by twining flowers around a stick. This she wielded with much dexterity, directing the rendering of the programme of songs, recitations, and original poems, which we had prepared for the occasion. Sue Fletcher was a born poetess and had written a long poem which caused much merriment among us; Sister Isabella laughed as heartily over it as any of the girls. After sundown, we escorted her with mock solemnity back to the refectory, where she had ordered for us a lovely supper. It was truly a happy May-day.

We used to exercise by taking long walks in the woods; in the spring gathering flowers, in the fall gathering nuts. We hoarded up large quantities of nuts for the winter, as well as pop-corn and apples. We had many feasts on holidays and on stormy days, when we were not allowed to go out. We popped the corn, roasted the apples, cracked the nuts, and spent our time in feasting. These refreshments were often served at our impromptu dances on Saturday night, when Uncle Harry and his friend Jim played the fiddle for the girls to dance. We passed around the hat, and, I think, paid them the munificent sum of fifty cents apiece for music furnished for an evening's entertainment. Of course, we never danced until the “wee sma‘ hours,” as they do in the present day, because taps were sounded not later than ten-thirty. Soon after the lights were out, and we were fast asleep, as few of us had any cares or anxieties to keep us awake after retiring.

I often recall the long dormitory with our beds side by side, and dear Sister Lucy at the end with her bed, table, and books, curtained off by white curtains. She was always within call of the girls of the dormitory. We were not saints, and we gave the dear sisters a good deal of trouble, like all mischievous, healthy, active girls have done since Mother Eve created a disturbance in the Garden of Eden.

Transportation being very difficult in those days, many of us spent our holidays at the academy, and employed our time [36] in embroidering, knitting, repairing our clothes, and sometimes in feasting and dancing. We were allowed to go into the parlor to be introduced to the parents of the girls who came to visit them, and on these occasions we were coached as to the manner of entering the room, saluting the guests, and how to withdraw without betraying awkwardness. Sister Isabella gave us periodical lectures, especially if any of the girls had been guilty of violation of the rules of the academy. We used to enjoy the Sundays. After service we would go out on the lawn or to the window to watch the people who came to church at Saint Vincent's. Some of them were on horseback, some on foot, and others in every conceivable kind of vehicle of those early days. I remember, as if it had occurred yesterday, the visit of Bishop Spaulding and the great “to-do” that we made of his coming to Saint Vincent's. We all kissed his ring, and thought it was the greatest event of our lives. He of course made an address, which is supposed to have had a great influence over us, but I am afraid we did not remember long the many injunctions he laid upon us.

In those halcyon days, in addition to our studies and school drudgery, girls of sixteen and upward had to make their own clothes, including a graduation dress of sheer, fine muslin, together with the slip to wear under it. All this was made by hand, which meant many hours of careful sewing after school hours, on Saturdays and holidays (forgive the term, under such circumstances). They not only had to make their own clothes, but had to assist the sisters in making the white dresses for the ten or a dozen orphans whom the sisters had on their hands to clothe and educate. Good-natured, jolly Sister Superior Isabella would journey by water to Louisville, Kentucky, to buy the material for the dresses, together with many bolts of blue ribbon for sashes and bow-knots, which every girl was obliged to wear on commencement day. This was the one occasion of all the year when we laid aside our purple calico and white-apron uniforms. These, on May I [37] annually, took the place of the black alpaca ones which we wore in winter.

The last few days before graduation day were bewildering with the multiplicity of things that had to be done at the last moment-final recitations for the elocutionists, rehearsals for the musicians, and the last reading of compositions which we innocently believed would startle the literary world if they could only appear in print.

I recall vividly the difficulties we had in preparing our final essays. “Fame” was my theme, and, as I read it a year or two ago, it sounded amateurish. I felt very proud of it then, and doubted seriously if any author had ever written so fine a production, as, after Sister Lucy had corrected it many times and I had rewritten it, incorporating her corrections, it seemed to me nothing could be more perfect. I remember the difficulty I had in getting a quill pen and selecting paper that was good enough, on which to inscribe this wonderful production. When completed, the essay was tied with pink ribbons, and every one was kind enough to say that it was one of the best. In the more than fifty years which have passed since I struggled over that composition I have discovered:

What so foolish as the chase of fame?
How vain the prize! how impotent our aim!
For, what are men who grasp at praise sublime,
But bubbles floating on the stream of time?

Memory carries me back to that bright morning in June, 1855, when our class graduated from dear old Saint Vincent's, when beneath the boughs of the majestic trees of the lawn a large platform had been erected and covered with a bright-green carpet. A fine piano was on one side, while a suitable place was arranged for the bishop and priests who were to distribute the diplomas, medals, and prizes. Seats were also arranged for the parents and visitors who attended. After a [38] long programme of music, addresses, giving of diplomas, awards, and a benediction by the bishop, we marched to the long refectory, where a sumptuous repast was spread and enjoyed by all.

Trunks and belongings had all been packed, and we were not long in donning our travelling-dresses, and saying good-by to the sisters and members of the household of our Alma Mater. Youth is so full of spirit that our tears were soon dried, and we were all happy in returning to our homes and friends, to begin building castles in the air for the future, as girls are wont to do.

During my absence at school John A. Logan, mentioned as serving in the same regiment with my father, Captain John M. Cunningham, of the 1st Illinois Volunteer Infantry, came to Shawneetown, Gallatin County, Illinois, where we then resided. He was the prosecuting attorney of the third judicial district, and was obliged to attend the sessions of the circuit court. He was not long in renewing his acquaintance with my father, or in reminding father that he still expected him to redeem his promise, made while they were soldiering in Mexico, to give Logan his daughter Mary in marriage when she was old enough. Soon after I reached home father said he had made an engagement for me to meet young Logan, who was coming to Shawneetown to make a visit at our home. Having many young-men friends and associates of my own age, it never occurred to me that any one was likely to think of me seriously. Believing the visit to be intended for my father, I paid little attention to father's message. I was therefore greatly surprised when Mr. Logan put in his appearance, and assured me that his visit was intended for me. Though but seventeen, I began to realize that I was considered a young lady, and that my happy-go-lucky days were over. Notwithstanding the fact that Prosecuting Attorney Logan had to travel over sixteen counties which composed the judicial district, every two weeks found him in Shawneetown for [39] a stay from Saturday noon until Sunday night, when he was obliged to leave and drive all night over very bad roads to be present at the opening of court on Monday. I had my share of attention from the young men of my acquaintance, and can not plead that I was indifferent to their attentions. Consequently I was not infrequently chided by father, mother, and Mr. Logan for being too much inclined to flirtation. However, in the few months of our courtship, we had a very happy time. To this day I marvel that a young man of Logan's rare ability, ambition, and mature years-he being then twenty-nine--should hazard his career by marrying a girl of seventeen.

My father had many friends in different parts of southern Illinois; the Logan family and a majority of young Logan's friends lived at a great distance from Shawneetown, considering the facilities for travelling. We therefore decided we would not have a big wedding, which in those days must be followed by a round of festivities, lasting sometimes a fortnight. At high noon, on the 27th of November, 1855, in the presence of a party of intimate friends and a number of Logan's associates at the bar, we were married by Hon. W. K. Parish, judge of the circuit court of the third judicial district of Illinois. After a bridal breakfast, accompanied by Judge Parish, Hon. W. J. Alien, Mr. Logan's law partner, Hon. N. C. Crawford, and my father, we departed for Benton, Franklin County, Illinois. The journey was made in buggies, two persons in each. The roads were almost impassable. At a little inn on the way to Shawneetown, in the small town of Equality, distant about twelve miles, Mr. Logan had made arrangements for the night. The innkeeper was much elated over the order which he had received, and he, his good wife, and their assistants had been very busy with their preparations for our entertainment. The house, with all of its old-time appointments, was in perfect order when we arrived, at about eight o'clock in the evening. The room to which my [40] husband and I were assigned was most inviting, with its canopied bed and chintz bed and window curtains, snow-white bedspread and pillows, the feather bed making it necessary to have a pair of steps like those you see at Mount Vernon, for use in climbing into bed. The floor was covered by a pretty rag carpet, the toilet-table and dresser having fine white linen covers on them. As soon as we had removed the mud spatters, and made hasty toilets, we were ushered into the dining-room, where a feast fit for the gods was laid on the whitest of napery. The daintiest of cut glass and china, which had been handed down from colonial ancestors, and choice flowers, adorned the table. In those days a wedding or the entertainment of a bride and groom excited intense interest; hence these good people felt they must bring out their most valued treasures to suitably entertain our party. Many of the townspeople called during the evening to extend congratulations and express their good wishes. Early next morning we resumed our journey to Benton, which was to be our future home.

The road for the thirty-five-mile drive was as bad as it could possibly be. The weather was raw and cold, and we were delighted when, led by Judge Parish and Mr. Crawford, we entered Judge Parish's hospitable door at Benton, Illinois. Judge Parish and Mr. Logan were very intimate, and the Judge and his lovely wife had insisted that we should make our home with them until we should establish one of our own. Mrs. Parish had made preparations for us, and a large company had been invited for the evening, that Mr. Logan's friends should give us a cordial welcome. I soon felt quite at home with the people whom I was later to know better, and to love as my own kindred. We remained with JudgeParish and Mrs. Parish for a few days, and then proceeded in a one-horse buggy to Murphysboro, Jackson County, Illinois, the home of Mr. Logan's mother. Many of the residents of Murphysboro were relatives of the Logan family, and we [41] had a very cordial reception, and were much entertained during our stay with Mother Logan.

Returning to Benton we remained with JudgeParish and Mrs. Parish until our home was ready for occupancy. In the meantime my father and mother had sent our household goods to Benton. When we remember that everything at that time was transported by horses, mules, or oxen, we can imagine the tedious delays which frequently ensued. However, before the holidays we were ensconced in our own cottage and began life together. My mother had sent with our goods a colored “mammy,” whom we called Aunt Betty. Aunt Betty was to be our maid of all work, and but for her I do not know how I should have gotten through with many domestic trials, as I was, in a measure, ignorant of the details of home and house keeping. Aunt Betty helped me out in my first experiences; but there being no colored people in Benton, she became, in time, very much dissatisfied, and returned to Shawneetown, leaving me to struggle through emergencies and domestic difficulties that multiplied rapidly. Many times without help, and with no confectioners, marketplaces, or groceries to which I could resort in such emergencies, I was obliged to draw upon my friends and neighbors to come in to aid me in the preparation of a meal for unexpected guests. As I discovered, we were supposed to extend boundless hospitality. Visitors and friends arrived unannounced, coming at any time that suited their convenience, without inquiring whether or not it was agreeable to us. They frequently brought children with them as, in that day, parents rarely had any one with whom to leave their charges when they wished to give themselves an outing.

These unexpected visitors always arrived in the early morning. You had to welcome them with a smiling face, notwithstanding the fact that your heart might sink within you. By eleven o'clock you had to go to your kitchen to begin preparations for the midday meal, the menu for which you had [42] been mentally trying to arrange from the moment of the arrival of your unexpected guests. Fortunately, they were unconventional and followed you to the kitchen. You had to keep up a conversation with them, while you endeavored to think what it was possible for you to set before them an hour or two later. Older housekeepers had well-filled larders, but brides like myself were not so thoughtful, and often found themselves with an empty pantry. There were no markets, caterers, bakers, or greengrocers. The variety stores which carried everything from a pound of nails to lace and millinery, or from a peck of onions to dried beef and bacon, never had in stock what you wanted, or what was of the least use in emergencies. In such cases you had to look over your larder, through the smoke-house, dairy, or garden-according to the season-and get the best you had; your obliging guests, meanwhile, insisting upon helping you. They would pare the apples for the pies — if the dessert was to be apple pie, apple float, or Brown Betty-or hull the berries if small fruits were in season. They would shell the peas, or peel the potatoes, all the while indulging in animated conversation, peals of laughter emphasizing their enjoyment. If you were the hostess, you had to play the part of entertainer while standing over a hot stove, trying to keep in mind the numerous saucepans and drip-pans which were simmering in the oven or boiling on the stove lest they boil over or burn. You had to lay the table for adults and children, no matter how many, rushing meanwhile from the kitchen to the pantry lest something go awry. Many a hostess has collapsed as soon as her guests departed.

In my case, I quickly discovered that my husband's friends and acquaintances were equally unconventional, and expected him to invite them to dinner or to supper, and at times to stay all night when they happened to attend the courts, or come to town on occasions of political conventions. He never knew how many to expect, but, as soon as he found out how many were in town, would send me a note saying he was [43] bringing ten or a dozen friends for dinner, adding tenderly: “Do the best you can, my dear, and I am sure everything will be all right.” Imagine a bride of to-day so situated, and with no alternative but to find a messenger to send after some friend to come and help her out of her dilemma! Be it said to their credit, the friends were always ready to help. My mother had taught me to be somewhat provident in the matter of looking after the larder, which served me well in those days of real trial. Prompted by an insatiable ambition to be all that was expected of me by my husband's numerous friends, I triumphed over many otherwise painful experiences.

Notwithstanding the fact that I was but little over seventeen years old, I soon discovered that I was expected to know everything; to be an efficient milliner, dressmaker, and to assist in the work of an undertaker in preparing the bodies of the dead for their coffins. I was sent for almost daily to perform some of these offices, and shall never forget the terror with which I assisted in preparing the shroud which was used in those days for the dead. A lovely lady died very suddenly, and I was sent for. It was the first time I had ever touched a corpse, and, like all young people, I was frightened almost out of my wits. My blood ran cold, and I grew dizzy, and came near fainting. Remembering that Logan's wife must be equal to everything, I put aside my timidity, and having a real affection for the person, helped to my utmost. I was much gratified at having the friends report to my husband that I was very skilful, and that they would not have known what to do without me. As long as I live I shall remember, with the deepest gratitude and the tenderest affection, the devotion of these dear people who adopted me as the wife of their leader and hero. Sometimes my husband demurred against my undertaking to comply with the requests of these friends, when he knew my sympathies would be very deeply aroused or my ingenuity overtaxed. However, I insisted that I must at least try to do anything they wanted me [44] to undertake. As I look back upon it now, I realize that, as is said in common parlance, I “put up many a bluff,” and was only able to accomplish my task because of my devotion to my husband, and my pride in not wishing to be “found wanting.” My husband was their idol and paid the penalty for their adoration by being obliged to take the lead in everything. He decided all controversies, wrote their wills, planned for the execution of all their projects, managed their political affairs. In a word, he was the leader at all times and under all circumstances. Notwithstanding all these responsibilities, we were repaid tenfold by their loyalty and devotion. We had many diversions and happy times, sharing in all their pleasures as well as in their sorrows. When my husband had to be away from home, I was looked after carefully and tenderly by neighbors and friends.

Franklin County was an important county in that part of the State. The people were for the most part agriculturists, and, as a consequence, had a fine agricultural association. Necessarily, they had to provide for an annual fair or exhibition of the products of the husbandman and housewife, the first one of which I attended about a year after our marriage. These fairs were interesting beyond description, both as to the people who attended them and the exhibits that were made. Men and women had here an opportunity to display the fruits of their special provinces, and the results of the year's experiments and labors. With untiring energy, much thought, and patient care, everything belonging to the animal and vegetable kingdoms, or to domestic and household art, was exhibited in the pleasant rivalry for premiums. Acres of ground, usually at the county-seat, were enclosed by a high board fence, that none might behold the wonders on exhibition without first depositing the fee at the entrance-gate.

Families generally provided themselves with season tickets for “fair week.” The president, treasurer, and secretary of the agricultural association, who managed and conducted the [45] fairs, were men of unquestionable integrity and business qualifications. They spent much time and labor in forming the committees and appointing the judges who were to make the awards in the contests for the prizes in the various departments. The same officers had to provide for the payment of the premiums that often aggregated many thousands of dollars in excess of the gate-fees. It required a voluminous catalogue to list all the premiums offered for the best of everything — from a cucumber to a mammoth pumpkin or squash; from a glass of jelly to a barrel of marmalade; from a gingersnap to huge loaves of bread and cake; from a dainty piece of embroidery to innumerable patchwork quilts; from a yard of flannel to yards of jeans and bright “bayadere” --striped linsey dress-goods, and rag carpeting; from a lady's fan made of the golden-bronze feathers of a turkey's tail to fly-brushes from the glory of a peacock; from a breed of Brahma, Spanish, Shanghai, Cochin, or Dominique chickens to proud cocks and blustering hens of every species; from goslings to geese and swans; from ducklings to quacking ducks of all varieties. Pigs, cattle, horses, mules, and every species of domestic animal preserved in the ark, and propagated since the days of the flood, swelled the list competing for superiority. Fruits and flowers in limitless numbers were brought and arranged to the best advantage for competition, according to the taste and tact of the exhibitor. Sometimes they assumed such fantastic shapes that one was at a loss to recognize Nature's most familiar productions. Elaborate conventional designs of flowers and leaves would be wrought of all kinds of seeds and grasses, and large panels would be carefully framed and other devices made out of feathers, shells, and straws.

My husband and I were obliged to serve on the committees of award for various departments, and congratulated ourselves that we were made to feel we had made no enemies by the decisions in which we joined. This was evidenced by the number of prize vegetables and fruits which were left at our [46] home. We felt that these dear people appreciated the interest we took in these fairs.

Speeding their horses was especially exciting and brought the largest crowd of “fair week.” There was especial interest in the equestrian contests, because couples of men and women from the country and town competed for the prizes. Fast riding, not unlike that of the “wild west,” was considered evidence of the finest attainment in the art. Once, at a county fair, I witnessed a veritable John Gilpin ride in an equestrian contest participated in by six couples. Three of the couples were from the towns and three from the country. The young ladies and gentlemen from the town wore genteel riding-suits, one couple being arrayed in dark-green cloth, one in black, and one in dark-blue. The ladies wore stovepipe hats with long blue or gray tissue veils wound around them and tied in front — the fashion of that day. The country girls wore their summer dresses, ordinary hats, and riding-skirts made of light blue cottonade buttoned on over their dresses. One of them rode a light, clay-bank horse with white mane and tail. The rider had abundant bright-red hair, much color in her cheeks, and was a very large, fine-looking woman. She wore a white dress with a blue riding-skirt over it, and a broad-brimmed hat with green ribbons. Another of these girls wore a gingham dress of yellow with a blue riding-skirt. A white, broad-brimmed hat, with blue ribbons that hung down in long streamers behind, completed her costume. She was seated upon a white horse. The third girl wore a dress of some kind of dark goods, and had a bright-red ribbon on her hat. Like a statue she sat on a splendid, blooded bay horse that was at least sixteen hands high. The escorts of these blooming lassies were young men from the country who could ride like Comanches. The moment they were drawn up in front of the judge's stand to start, the most careless observer could see by the contemptuous expressions and sneers of the country riders that there was to be some reckless riding. [47] They started around the ring, but, before the quarter post was reached, the country couples began to pull their spirited steeds, while those from the towns quickened their pace in a dignified manner. By the time they reached the half-mile post they were going faster and faster, and as they approached the three-quarter post the country couples were leading the van. On they came, flying past the judge's stand, round and round again, the broad-brimmed hats with their streamers flapping in the wind. The contest rapidly narrowed down to the three country couples, between whom the rivalry grew closer and closer. On, on, they went, flying over the track, till the girl with the red hair was leading the race; her hat gone, her hair unbraided and streaming in the wind like the rays of a glaring red sunset that betokens a coming storm. The blue riding-skirt had become unfastened, and was flying in the wind like the sails of a yacht. The yellow horse, stretched to his full length, and his long tail sweeping behind, looked like a very demon as he came puffing like a bellows, round and round the third time, leaving everything, escort and all, far behind. The multitude of people had rushed to the edge of the ring, and were shouting, clapping their hands, and screaming like Indians. “Go it, Sallie!” “Go it, Liza!” “Go it, Yaller!” “Beat 'em, gals, beat 'em!” until everybody was wild with excitement. Betting was lively, and in the brief moments these reckless riders were flying around the track many dollars changed hands. Finally, hatless, skirtless, and with dishevelled hair, “Liza” reined her dripping, yellow horse in front of the judges' stand to receive the blue ribbon, while the spirited bay was given the red one. Then off the two went round again to display their trophies, and finish their victory over the “stuck — up town girls, who don't know how to ride nohow.” Cheer after cheer greeted them as they galloped round the track and out of the ring triumphantly, while the town girls and their escorts rode away disgusted. [48]

This is only an example of the many amusing incidents which occurred during our life in Benton. The cottage which was our first home, with its whole front blooming with the prolific sweetbriar rose, is still standing in Benton. The Illinois legislature recently passed a bill for the purchase, renovation, and preservation of our cottage home in Benton, Illinois, and the committee who have charge of the matter will make an effort to recover many of the articles of furniture, etc., which we used in this cottage, the whereabouts of which are well known to these old friends and their descendants. Around it will ever cling memories of our happy days, when we joined hands and hearts in performing every duty, and shared in the enjoyment of every pleasure when we started on life's journey together. In it our first two children were born. Unfortunately we lost our firstborn son. Our only living child, Mrs. Mary Logan Tucker, is now the comfort of my declining years.

I was forcibly reminded of the changes which time has wrought by the receipt of a letter some time ago from Mrs. Hettie A. Dillon, wife of Captain Dillon, of Benton, Illinois. Mrs. Dillon was then Miss Hettie A. Duncan, and was one of the “town girls” in the equestrian contest described in the foregoing, when she rode with General Logan's brother, William, both of whom were fine riders, but too dignified to descend to the Comanche style of their rivals from the country. The following extract will serve to show how much the town of Benton has progressed since the days of the war:

Recently a member of our Self Culture Club entertained us in her new beautiful home upon the site of the old Floral Hall where long ago exaggerated pumpkins, squashes, beets, and other farm products, with great bunches of zinnias, hollyhocks, and coxcombs, competed for blue ribbons. It seems rather an odd coincidence that in the spacious reception-hall a beautiful Carrara marble Ceres smiles from a wealth of fruit and flowers, illumined with tiny [49] incandescents. The old race-track makes a fine drive. Where the judges' stand was is a lovely pergola. The stock pond in summer is a fragrant lily pond. It all makes a beautiful environment for my lovely friend.

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