The remembrance of my childhood days are very precious to me. Years have come and gone, yet they are indelibly stamped on memory's tablet, and if I can add any items of interest connected with my dear father's life, to be used at your reunion, I will be more than pleased to do so.
Father left Pennsylvania in his teens, and settled near Fredericktown, Ohio (I suppose at that time there was no town of any kind). How many times I have sat on a stool at his side, before the open fire place in the evening, and asked him to tell me a story of the old times; and I do not remember of his ever failing to tell over and over again the same old story: How he first cleared a spot large enough for a cabin; how the wild animals would crowd around ready to devour whatever came in their way; and then rumors of Indians raids would sometimes reach their ears, and the cry of "to the fort! To the fort!" While some of the settlers went, he never deserted his home, nor was he ever molested. "In God was his trust," and I think -- or know -- that was his motto through life.
And then the story of "Johnie Appleseed" of which I never grew weary: he was an eccentric figure in those days, seeming to have no vocation in life but to go around planting apple seeds and starting orchards. I remember one tree that was pointed out to me that he planted. It must have been a great many years old at that time, and I think the only one left of his planting. What a pity that it couldn't have always stood as a monument to the memory of Johnie Appleseed!
Father was apparently always cheerful, happy and contented notwithstanding his being so hard of hearing. He used to say how much better to be deprived of his hearing than of his eyesight. He enjoyed seeing young people happy; and many an evening the young people of the neighborhood would gather at our house and play "anteover" over our house. He once said to a neighbor who was with him on the porch, "Young people think old people are silly; us old people know that young people are."
In thinking of how untiringly Father used to repeat the same stories over and over to me, I am reminded of how tired I get of telling my little grand children over and over again things that happened to us while we were living on the claim -- the stories that are always new to them.
Father was a strong anti-slavery man, and our house was one of the stations on the under ground railroad. Fugitives were frequently brought to our house in the night, and left there until with safety they could go on to the next station. One night, especially I remember, a load was brought to be left till their master's estate was settled, he having died and the slaves were to be sold. The young master didn't want them sold (they were placed in other families, too). A young man by the name of Jerome Bonaparte remained with us. It was in the spring, and at sugar making time, and I think they were quite helpful -- I at least thought Jerome was, as he made me a nice paddle, scooped out in the middle, so I could stir my sugar. Well, in the course of time a change came over the spirit of our dreams: Their young master suddenly made his appearance. My older sisters were spinning; but their wheels suddenly ceased their motion when he made known his mission, thinking of course they were trapped. But he told them that the estate was settled, and if they wanted to go back with him they could; or if they preferred they could push their way on to Canada. One or two went on and the rest went back. One that stayed in the home of my brother James was a good singer -- a beautiful singer -- and how much James did enjoy that!
Father always lived on the same land that he purchased when he first went to Ohio, altho the cabin first built gave place to a larger house, where all the children were born and raised. Out of a family of thirteen sons and daughters all but one, who died in infancy, lived to mature age, were married and had some family of their own.
Many were the hardships through which he passed; but wherever principle was at stake, he was firm as a rock; and lived respected by all who knew him.
Letitia T. Folsom
1916, age 75