Make your own free website on Tripod.com

[Previous] [Next] [Index]

KIT JOHNSTON

Kit was my mother's youngest sister, the only one to survive babyhood, her twin sister dying in infancy. She was born in 1865 and was therefore only six years old when my father and mother were married. Her full name was Catherine Fitz-James Johnston, to which she later added Sproul and Alexander, successively. She was about five feet tall and weighed perhaps a hundred or so pounds. As I recall my childhood, Kit seemed a permanent member of the household at Montpelier. As stated elsewhere, she was the cashier at the store for quite a time. After the store passed into other hands, she ran the telephone exchange in Bluffton, connecting the neighboring towns. This was probably 1883 or 1884.

As my mother's health began to fail, Kit took my brother Henry under her particular wing, leaving me to the tender care of Lydia Devore - and tender care it was, make no mistake about that. I wasn't the loser in the arrangement, even though, a little later, I used to feel that Henry profited by Kit's special affection for him.

Kit was only eighteen when my mother died; scarcely twenty when my father wakened up to the fact that he was in love with her and tried his best to get her to marry him. Years afterward, Kit told me that while there never was and never could be a man in the world that she loved as much as she did my father, she just couldn't bring herself to marry him; it would have been like marrying her older brother, almost like marrying her father. Furthermore, about this time, one George Sproul, of Warren, Ind., had shown up on the horizon and Kit had other plans. She persisted in her refusal of my father's proposal until he grew sore enough to display an ugly streak that I never heard of before or observed since; he threatened to pull out of Montpelier, take the boys with him, and never let her see them again. In the meantime, he had investigated George Sproul and was thumbs down on him, declaring that, if Kit married George, she wouldn't live with him five years.

He made good only partially on his threat; he pulled out of Montpelier and took us kids along but he never placed the slightest impediment in the way of our seeing Kit; in fact, we lived with Grandmother and Kit in Bluffton for at least three years. He was more accurate as a prophet; Kit married George in 1886 and had three children, two girls surviving, but the marriage blew up with something of a report at the end of just about the five years granted. George turned out to be, along with numerous other faults, to be of the spree-drunkard type, a class which seems in fair way to become extinct, at least among otherwise respectable people, but was far from uncommon there in those days. Kit told me that when she divorced her husband, she expected, and was prepared to forgive a mild crow of "I told you so" from my father but all she received was a sweet friendly letter, with no word of reproach and closing with the admonition that, should she ever think she reached the bottom of her purse, she was to know that she hadn't really and couldn't do so until he reached the bottom of his. Kit later married an old widower, Marcellus Alexander, and lived a more or less peaceful life thereafter.

Long after most of the above, when Kit's girls were grown up and the youngest, Zada, training as a nurse in Chattanooga, Kit came down on a visit. Father was a widower again by then and Orphia (Henry's first wife) said that Kit and he played around like a couple of kid sweethearts and had the time of their life during her stay.

Kit was afflicted with cancer not a great while later and, sensing that the end was not far away, wrote Father and told him that, if he wanted to see her, he had better come while she was well enough to talk to him; that she supposed he would come up to her funeral but that, so far as she was concerned, she would rather have him come up while she was still alive, as she didn't expect to take much interest in who came to her funeral. He came up, paid her quite a visit, sitting at her bed-side, hour after hours, holding her hand. Except for the agonizing physical pain, she was happy to have her end come that way.

Kit left two girls, Janet (always, of course), who married a man by the name of Beitler, was divorced when he went crazy and married again. She lived in Seattle, the last I heard but I do not know her name. Zada married a man by the name of Souder, in the oil business, and lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I think. She has a daughter, another Janet I think. I met Souder in Bluffton in 1928 and found him a very likable fellow.

[Previous] [Next] [Index]