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CHAPTER IV. Part 3
Some of our family desiring to preserve before it should become too late, some record of each member of it, I will try to comply with the wish thus expressed by recalling as I can the events of my own life. In doing so I labor under the embarrassments and disadvantages which every one must in trying to write their own personal recollections and experience. I presume there is no one that has reached mature or middle age without a variety of experience that is at least full of interest to themselves, and which might, no doubt, in the hands of a person skilled in the art, be made interesting to mankind, since there is no fiction that can surpass the plain unvarnished actualities of life. The difficult thing in recalling the past is to discriminate between what is worth recording and what is not. My birth occurred on the 5th of April, 1844, at the old homestead, two miles south of Greenville, Ohio. I have many pleasant memories of the old home. My earliest recollections, as near as I can determine, were about my fifth year, although I think I can recall dimly some events of an earlier date. Trifling things that sometimes picture themselves upon the childish mind and ever remain clear and distinct amidst all the varied and deeper experiences of after life. And the further we grow away from them the more precious they become. I can recall but little of my grandfather Arnold. He was an invalid for some years previous to his death.
I have one vision only in my childish memories of my grandmother Folkerth, but many more of my grandfather as he survived her about two years.
My brother James being the same age as myself, together with my brother Isaac, four years older, were of course my constant companions in study and play. I am sure we all, together with many others in the neighborhood, retain a strong affection for the little brick school house, where we were first instructed into the mysteries of the "English language".
I have a very faint recollection of my first day in school, as well as my first teacher, a Mr. Prid. The room was seated with long benches without any backs, and so high that the feet of the smaller pupils could not touch the floors. One little occurrence of the day I remember as if it were yesterday. Desiring to occupy a seat by the side of a favorite cousin upon the opposite side of the house I did not see any reason why I should not cross the room and do so. The "stern disciplinarian" however objected, which was, of course, a very incomprehensible thing at the time. I have, however, learned in the course of life's experience, in common with the rest of the human family, that we cannot always have everything our own way.
I think my brothers and sisters will agree with me that few families have ever been blessed with a more tender mother than were we. Her constant care and thought were for her children. Especially was she desirous that every opportunity should be given them to fit them for enjoyment and usefulness as men and women.
My second teacher, a Mr. Wm. O'Donnell, of Irish birth and Roman Catholic faith, has left a much more decided impression upon my mind. In fact, he was a man never to be forgotten by those who had the pleasure (?) of his instructions. In theory he believed very strongly in Solomon's admonition, that if you "spare the rod you will spoil the child", and he carried his theory into practice in a very vigorous manner. It must be admitted though that the pupils made wonderful progress in the three R's, and in consequence he continued to wield the birch for a number of terms.
I continued in attendance upon the country school until my sixteenth year, after which I went to the graded schools of Greenville for two years. After two years were spent at the Ohio Wesleyan Female College, at Delaware, Ohio. Dr. Park S. Donelson was president of the school at the time. Those two years stand out as two very happy and important years of my life. Important, in that they fitted me so much more fully for the duties and enjoyments of my after life. Brother James was a student in the University during the first year of my attendance at Delaware, as he had also been during the year previous to my entering school. A fact which added very materially to the enjoyment of my first year at Delaware. I left school in 1864, at the close of my junior year. After which I taught for nearly two years in the graded schools of Greenville. While there were many pleasant things connected with teaching, I was never really "in love" with the profession.
At this time, in my 23rd year, came one of the sad bereavements of my life. My mother's health had been failing for some months, and in February of that year, 1867, she was taken down with typhoid fever, living only two weeks, dying upon the 23rd of the month. From that time on for eight years, (until the death of my father), my life was at the old home in trying, as well as might be, to fill the place left vacant. It is needless for me to say that they were lonely years, as there were no longer any members of the family remaining at the old home except my father and myself.
The frequent visits of absent members were especially appreciated during those years by both my father and myself. I remained at home until after the death of my father, which occurred upon February 12th, 1875. After that event the old home was broken up. I went almost immediately to the home of my brother James, then at Montpelier, Indiana, where I spent very happily two months. In May I went to the home of my sister Maria, at North Manchester, Indiana. After a very pleasant year as a member of her household, I was married at her home, on the 21st of March, 1876; to Mr. J.W. Ford. After a brief visit to our old home, in Ohio, settled in North Manchester, where we lived for four years. I now look back upon them as four very happy years in my home and so near my sister and other friends. In September of '76, we visited, with a party of friends, the Centennial Exposition, held at Philadelphia. In April, 1880, we moved to Indianapolis, where we lived two years; after which we came, in May, 1882, to Huntington, Indiana, our present home. Our years have been very happy ones aside from the one great bereavement, the death of my sister Maria, which occurred upon the 2nd day of October, 1887. That has left a vacancy which nothing can ever fill.
The latter part of the winters of '82, '85 and '87 we spent in Florida, visiting in the last named year the "World's Exposition" at New Orleans. In January of the present year, 1889, we moved into our present home.
We certainly feel that through all the years of our lives we have every thing to be thankful for, that we have been constantly under the loving care of a Heavenly Father.
Lydia A. Ford,
May 21, 1889
JACOB W. FORD,
Was the son of Modecia and Mary Ford. His early life was spent at the home of his parents, near Jaysville, Darke county. He enlisted in the 152nd regiment, Ohio volunteers, in 1864, and was with his regiment in Virginia of that year. At the close of the war he studied medicine in his brother's office, and afterward spent the winters of 1872 and 1873 at Ann Arbor, Michigan, attending medical lectures.
In the spring of 1873 he entered upon the practice of his profession with his brother, Elijah Ford, at North Manchester, and finding that his health would not stand the exposure and severe labors of his profession, he, after two years practice, gave it up, entering the loan and real estate business, in which he continued until the spring of 1881, when he removed to Indianapolis, engaging in the same pursuit in that city. Two years later, in 1883, he removed to Huntington, Indiana, continuing his loan and real estate business until the fall of 1887, when he became president of the Huntington County Bank, which had been organized during the previous summer.
August 31, 1889
A distinguishing feature of the olden time was the round log school house with fire place occupying the entire side of the building, with split puncheon seats without backs, and a rough board fastened to the wall for writing desks; greased paper instead of glass windows. The scholars used quill pens instead of the ones now in use. The writer also remembers the American Preceptor, the old fashioned spelling books then in use, and Pike's Arithmetic, treating nearly all in L.S.P., English money, instead of dollars and cents. The writer also remembers the many weary hours, days and months which he poured his brain over these obtruse questions which have never been worth a farthing's value to him in after life. We thought it a great relief and mere child's play if we could have a sum in federal money to solve.
And then in the olden times we would not forget the log rollings and the round log house and barn raisings, with the never failing supply of the meanest kind of whiskey from a neighboring still house, two of which were within two miles of the Arnold homestead. It speaks well for the progress and improvement of society to know that every one of these are things of the past. Fine brick school houses and fine furniture, gravel roads and no still houses, no whiskey at gatherings of any kind. No rowdyism at camp meetings but all is quiet and orderly. A degree of education and intelligence has been brought about hitherto never dreamed of. The old log cabin and log barn have given way to the nice new brick or frame house and barn to correspond, showing great progress in material wealth and prosperity. And in agriculture there is no less change for the better. Instead of the old wooden plow with a wooden mould board, we have now the finest steel plows with all the improvements which skill can invent, and instead of the grain sickle and scythe we have the combined mower and reaper and self-binder, and instead of the old flail to thresh wheat we have the best of threshers and separators. In all these things we may congratulate ourselves that we live in an age of advancement.
Nor would we forget the old spinning wheel, the large one for wool and the smaller one for flax and tow. For months and months have we seen the girls busy with their rude articles of domestic economy, keeping up a continuous whirl from sun up till dark, perhaps omitting fifteen minutes for each meal; and then after the spinning is done the web is transferred to an old loom, in some lonely and desolate outhouse, to be made up in cloth of some kind, where a continuous batting was kept up the live log day. For this laborious work these girls would receive from fifty to seventy-five cents per week, and if at the end of a month she had received enough money to buy a calico dress, she was very fortunate, and become the subject of neighborhood talk for being able to sport a new calico dress in place of the linsey-woolsey usually worn. These were the days of Auld-Lang-Syne. Little do people know of the times and circumstances of fifty years ago.
In place of the old farm wagon as a means of transportation, we have the finest of carriages and railway coaches, by means of which we can go to the seaboard in twenty-four hours which formerly took weeks to accomplish.
Many a day have we seen the sturdy toiler go into the harvest field at sun up and with sickle or cradle work the live long day till sun down for fifty cents per day, with only an hour for nooning, and thirty-five and thirty-seven cents per day was the usual price for 11 and 12 hours work, with goods of all kinds twice the present prices. Calicos twenty-five cents, muslin twenty-five cents, and all else in proportion. Yet it must not be thought that these early pioneers were unhappy, as they were not. They considered it a necessity and accepted the situation without a murmur or thought of hard times, as their minds never conceived that anything like the present prosperity could be a possibility. Does not the present generation owe a debt of gratitude, since they live in an age to enjoy all these advantages that our forefathers had no conception would come about. It is hard to conceive of a possibility that any present or future generation could witness such a vast change in the physical and moral condition of the country as the last half century has witnessed. Steam, electricity, the printing press, natural gas, mechanical skill and education have accomplished wonders. Wealth and capital seem to flow into this country like water, and we could moralize on the cause of all this and think we can see the great principle which has brought all this about; but we forebear. The means for the diffusion of knowledge through the press and the finest postal system in the world, with telegraphs penetrating every corner of the world, the morning papers furnish news from all parts of the country in a few hours time after its occurrence.
The personal history and recollections contained in the foregoing sketches have been printed for private circulation. No attempt at literary effect or display has been made, and if they shall assist in preserving recollections of our early home and its associations, and brighten memories of parents, brothers and sisters, departed, whose memories we cherish with increasing veneration, the purpose of this effort will have been accomplished. The days and memories of our ancestors should be cherished and perpetuated. May they ever be a green spot in memory's tablet.
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