Myrties Memories, Pages 61 - 83

Myrties Memories
Going east beyond the church on the north side of the road is Kilpatrick Lake. We were traveling right along. when suddenly my Dad pulled off the road to the left, going through an opening in the bushes along the highway, driving right out on that frozen Lake, going over to the east end, drove back on to the road again. Never said a word, just acted like it was a perfectly normal thing to do. I never said a word either but I was scared half out of what few wits I had. Reaching home, I overheard my Dad telling my Mother about it, heard her laughing, asking my Father what I did. Pa said, "She never said a word or made a sound," I could have said plenty if I hadn't been too frightened to speak. When I started this chapter, I spoke of my Father being at the breakfast table. He always was, but the unusual part of it was, he never ate any breakfast, just drank a cup of coffee. Food first thing in the morning made him ill. Meal time, at our house, was such a special time to him. His whole family seated around the table, talking, laughing, bantering back and forth. He loved it. Now most men, especially a busy farmer, would have drank a cup of coffee and left the house to begin their day’s work. But not my Dad, he always came to the breakfast table and sipped away at his coffee until everyone was finished. Meals were a wonderful time to just sit and relax and talk. In the hustle and bustle of modem living, just try this sometime. This is what I call being a FAMILY. Take time to enjoy it.
Going For The Cows
This was a task, I thoroughly enjoyed. Never went by myself, either Grace or Pearl was with me. They enjoyed the walk, also. Supper over, my Mother would say "You girls better go let the cows out of the pasture. I can hear them bawling, it's time for milking." Then off we'd start going down the grade past the hog pen through the gate and we then headed west, right into the sunset. Always a little problem to face right here. Ma raised geese and the old gander always spotted us the minute we came through that gate. Now he thought he was King of the Barnyard and he resented us being on his property. That measly old guy would start running right at us, old long neck stretched out as far as it would go, head lowered just above the ground and hissing just like a snake. If Grace was with me, she just picked up a stick, fired it at the gander, hit the target, he gave a loud squawk, turned, running back into the barnyard. Always took more than a gander to keep Grace from whatever she wanted to do. Pearl and I, that was a different story. We would both be scared and start running.
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Soon the gander would tire of the race and turn back. Ma used to tell us to turn around and yell "Shoo" at him and he'd leave us alone. Who wanted to turn around and face that horrible thing! Don't think either one of us could have yelled at that particular moment. Now that's all over, maybe now we can enjoy our walk. On we go, a little farther west, the lane leads right along the edge of a nice, big pond. Our pride and joy but not our Fathers, an eyesore to him in the middle of his farm. Really, just like a small lake. Very deep in the center and way to the north side. Deep enough to row a boat or swim. Arby and his buddies used to swim there. In the winter everyone in the neighborhood came to our pond to ice-skate. Along the lane on the south side, there was a nice, hard sandy bottom, stretching out into the water probably about twenty-five feet, where we girls used to play in the summer. Our own private beach, what a place to entertain the girls who came to play. You know those cows are still bawling and we are only about halfway there, so think we better hurry along. Quite a steep little grade in the lane, as we leave the pond. What a beautiful sky we see, sun just sinking out of sight, every color of the rainbow displayed along the horizon. What beautiful colors, what lovely dresses they would make. Next one of us would suggest we choose our color, make-believe we are grown-up ladies and make a party gown to wear to a Ball. If Grace was with me she would always make me describe my dress first. Tricky, of course. If I made mine first, then she could make her train on the gown longer than mine and cut hers a little more daring at the top. Sometimes hers were so daring, I was ashamed of her. Once I thought she will never beat this one, so I made my train so long it would reach halfway as far back to our house. What did she do when she made hers? Her train reached all the way to the house and that would have been 1/4 mile. When the "cow-getters" were Pearl and I, I always made her go first so I could pull the same trick on her, that Grace did on me. A few weeks ago, Pearl was here and we were talking over old times. She said "How was it you always made me go first to make our dresses?" I told her because I had to get back at her, what Grace did to me. Well, here we are at the pasture gate, cows are waiting, opening the gate, they file out one by one and start for the barn, always in single file, like a parade. Throwing our pretty dresses over the fence, we close the gate and follow the cows back to the house. We probably will make us some more dresses tomorrow night.
Just Odd Thoughts
Used to be lots of big bull-frogs at the pond. Can remember, one Sunday P. M., Pa went down by thepond, caught some of these, killing them, dressing them out, brought them to the house. Ma. cooked the frog-legs for our supper. Very delicious. Only time I can remember of having them.
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Ma always raised ducks. She would set the ducks like you did hens. After the eggs hatched, she would put the mother's in her tiny hen houses in the door yard. Little ducklings were more fragile than little chickens and took more care too. Had to watch out for them and see they were inside their little houses when it rained. A duckling would easily drown in a storm. When they were a little bigger, Ma would let the old ducks out of their pen. She would parade her babies around the yard for a few days, then she would head down the lane to the pond, her ducklings following in single file. The old duck would wade into the water, then start swimming around and her babies would follow her right in and begin to swim. Didn't have to be taught, just a perfectly natural thing to do. It was such a cute sight. Sometimes Ma put the duck eggs under a hen to hatch and mother. When the duok11ngs were about half-grown, they'd wander off to the pond of their own accord.
Hat Ride
One time Arby was coming from the back of the farm with a wagon load of fresh, loose hay. Pearl was riding with him. A flat rack with end gates at each end of the wagon, Arby pitched the loose hay on between the end gates, probably the load was at least eight or ten feet high, then with the height of the wagon, it was up in the air at least fifteen feet. Arby and Pearl climbed up the front end gate, then settled themselves down on the hay and started down the lane to the barn. Going down the stony steep grade to the pond, a wagon wheel struck a large stone. This, of course started the load to rock, and the whole thing tipped over on its side. Arby grabbed Pearl, had his left arm around her, the lines to the horses grasped tightly in his right. Keeping the horses under control, he and Pearl just went down with the hay all around them, right at the edge of the water in the pond. Arby said Pearl jumped up saying "It scared me worse than it hurt me." Luckily neither one was hurt.
School Days
In Sept. 1885, I started my school-days at the Bismark School, 3/4 mile north to Delwood Corners then one mile east. Don't recall the name of my first teacher, can only name three, Mr. Whelply, Mr. Bedford and my last one through eighth grade, Miss Alice Prescott, a very dedicated teacher and a favorite with all. The years with her were the happiest school years of my life. I think Miss Prescott regarded her pupils as her children, acting more like a mother than a teacher. She taught us more than "Readin”,” Riting” and “Rithmetic". She taught us to live right, to enjoy school, to honor our parents, to play fair, never to cheat, to enjoy each other, to be kind and courteous at all times. If a person disobeyed, it was so hard for her to scold him, but she said what had to be said, tears running from her eyes at the same time. Sounds like a softie, doesn't it? It wasn't. Miss Prescott had perfect control of her class-room at all times. She rules with love and kindness.
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Our school-building was just one large room, three windows on each side, no windows in back or front. Facing the east, there was a door at each side of the front, boys coming in at the south door, girls entering at the north. Just inside each door along the wall a shelf was placed for dinner-pails, with hooks underneath on which to hang your coats, space underneath on the floor for boots and rubbers. South side for boys, north side for girls. In between the doors on the front wal l was a huge blackboard, a motto above it saying "Kindness Makes Friends". Letters in this were about a foot high, took up most of the space between the doors. Below this, directly in front of the blackboard, a 6 inch high platform was built for the teacher's desk and a place for the classes to be held. About in the center of the room was a large stove. In the winter, this kept everyone seated near-by, half roasted, while students at the back of the room sometimes had to wear their coats to keep warm. Don't remember about the teachers whether they kept warm or not. They were up moving around but you weren't. You had to ask permission to leave your desk. Then over on the north side by the coat rack was the community water pail. A tin dipper hanging on the wall above it. Everyone drank from the same dipper. "Ugh! " I can hear someone say, and "Ugh" it was; but, really, I don't believe we had anymore colds in those days of drinking from the same dipper, than the children do now drinking from a faucet. Much pleasanter now though and certainly more sanitary. Starting about even with the stove, were stationery double desks, room for two students and built joining each other, bolted solidly to the floor, then placed 'in rows to reach the back of the room. A narrow aisle, about wide enough for a person to walk through between each row and a wider aisle in the center to separate the two groups of seats. These desks were built so closely together, one could almost feel the breath of the people behind you. Just close enough for the mischievous boys sitting back of you to drop a nice, wet chewed-up paper wad down inside the back neck of your dress. Just close enough for you to send a message to someone four or five seats behind you. Writing your question or whatever on a small scrap of paper, folding the paper, leaving it just large enough to mark the person's initials on, tucking the note in the palm of your hand, you'd then drop your hand casually outside your desk. That was the signal, down would come the arm of the next in line, taking the note from your palm, checking the initials, it would be sent along in this manner to the person for whoa it was intended. If a reply was requested, the answer came back to you in this same manner. Sneaky? Yes, but helped to break the monotony of just sitting there studying all the while. You weren't allowed to whisper to your seatmate. I usually managed to sneak quite a few in during the course of the day when the teacher wasn't looking.
Betty was just here and she asked me what I was writing about. I answered "School Desks". She said "Don't forget the ink-wells! Betty spent the first eight years of her school life in a one room school. The Hunter School, located just north of Delwood Comers, near Betty's girlhood home. Now I'll try and explain the ink-well. At the right hand top, close to the ledge on the front of your desk, a circular hole, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter was drilled. A little glass container, about an inch in depth, was next placed in this hole. A tiny flange at the top made it secure. This glass cup was filled with ink, in which you dipped your pen-point, filling it with a drop or two of ink, you began writing your lessons. Usually after six or eight words, maybe, it was necessary to dip your pen in the ink again. Rather a slow process, but the ink-well was better than having a bottle of ink standing open on your desk to be upset and spilled. Pioneers had quill pens, the large strong feathers from the wing of a bird. Next came the metal points that we used, then the fountain pen, which stored the ink inside the pen. Made it possible to use quite a while, then you'd have to replace the ink. First fountain pen, I ever had, was a graduation gift to me in 1907. Also I received a gold pen with a pearl handle. Charley Collier gave that to me. He was Grace's boyfriend at that time. From the fountain pen to the Ball-points we all enjoy using today is just another proof of the progress even a lowly pen has made. Someone came up with the Ball-point after using a Fountain pen.
Bath Rooms
About thirty feet west of the back of our school building sat two little necessary houses. One was directly in line with the north side, the other straight down from the south, gave you a real excuse to leave the school-wilding for a few minutes. What a pleasure it was to leave that old desk and straighten out your cramped legs for a few minutes. Raising your hand for attention from the teacher, you gave the signal, only the first and second finger upright, permission to leave the room would be granted by a simple nod of the head. Sometimes It would be "No" if recess or the noon hour were coming soon. If I received the nod, I would sedately walk to the door; but once outside I hopped, skipped and jumped, making good use of my freedom. Sometimes I wouldn't even enter the little house. No windows in the back of the school-house, no one could see me, I could run around just for exercise and then again, just stand gazing at the clouds in the sky or watching and listening to the birds in the trees. Such a wonderful world to me always. Reluctantly, I leave this behind, enter the school-house door and tip-toe noiselessly back to my seat.
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Delwood Post Master
I didn't really mind the crowded conditions or the uncomfortable seats. Just a thing to be accepted with no complaints. Our school was no different than any other around. Just wanted to tell you there were no luxuries in those days . Our children's children take so much for granted. Their school-houses with all the modern conveniences make them no happier than I at least. I just plain loved going to school. I liked to get my work all finished, so I maybe could have a book from the library to read, or maybe look at the assignments on the blackboard for other grades than mine. Maybe solve an arithmetic problem or two, see how many words I could find in that Motto "Kindness Makes Friends". I liked to listen to the other classes, reciting their lessons, one could learn a lot by just listening. Even enjoyed the long 1 3/4 mile walk back and forth from home each day. Bismark had quite a large enrollment of students. Looked like a small army when we all came out to go home at night. School-house being on a corner, sane went north, some south, some east but the largest majority went west with us. Some of them lived in homes along that first mile, but I can think of fifteen who parted company at Delwood Corners. We always went into the Post ,Office, located here, everybody checking for their mail. The Postmaster, Wesley Wright, a bachelor, lived there with his sister, Mary, also unmarried. Mr. Wright was a cripple, using crutches at all times, excepting when just walking around the office. Then he could walk quite well by just crossing his legs. Now, you try crossing yours and then step first with one foot and then the other. Quite an accomplishment! Took me a while to learn but I finally made it. Lots of fun! My Mother told me not to be making fun of a cripple. Said, "Supposing something happened to your legs someday and you bad to walk that way, it certainly wouldn't be funny." Something has happened to them, alright, I can't even walk like Wes anymore. Judgment, maybe? Oh-no! the good Lord knows I wasn't making fun of Wes, just, making fun for me. The tales that mile stretch of road could tell, this would probably be one of them. One morning in early May, we awoke to find the ground covered with snow. Weather had been so nice and warm Grace and I (Pearl hadn't started school yet) had been going barefoot to school. This morning our Mother said we must wear our shoes so we put them on. Before we got to Delwood, Grace came up with this clever idea. "When we get to the corners, let's take our shoes and stockings off, hide them in the scraper shed and go to schoo barefooted. Then when we grow up, we can tell our grandchildren how we had to go to school barefooted in the snow."
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We did jus t that but of course the snow was already starting to melt. It was just a sugar snow, gone entirely by the time we arrived at school. Don't know as she ever did tell her grandchildren, but I have several of mine, only I told the truth. Scraper Shed, now what's that? A small building on the south east corner of the roadway to house the township road scraper. The road supervisor, (Pathmaster, he was called) would hire some nearby farmer with his team of horses to scrape the roads when necessary. Big double doors on the front. Grace pulled them apart at the bottom and shoved our shoes and stockings inside. Wonder what our story would have been, had they not been there for us to take home. Good thing they were, probably the only shoes we had.
Snow On the West Road
One winter, we had so many bad storms day after day, the snow was drifted over the fences. In front of one farm, there was a board fence, snow was really piled on this one. After a few days of thawing, and cold nights of freezing the top of that fence was just as solid as a rock. Looked like a narrow sidewalk. We used it as one anyway, we'd walk single file along this stretch, up in the air 4 or 5 feet higher than the road. Didn't mind the cold at all. Sometimes, looking out the school windows, we would see the snow caning down hard, blowing and drifting. Sort of dreaded to start out on our long walk home. Outside the school-house what a welcome sight greets us. Mr. Garinger has come for his family in a big sleigh pulled by his team of pretty horses. Of course, everyone going west received a ride as far as Delwood Comers. Mr. Garinger lived about 3/4 mile on west. What a break for us, one whole mile we didn't have to walk! Gliding along over the snowy roads, sleighbells jingling we soon reached the Comers where we hopped out, Lovell's and Frantz's going south, Walsh, Wrights and VanBlarcoms head north. "Thank you, Mr. Garinger." "Good Night" "See you tomorrow." and on we trudge to our respective homes. Lifelong friendships were formed on that mile west. Now, they are all gone except Pearl and I. Gone but we will never forget them.
Spelling Bee
Back in the earliest days at school, very few boys ever attended High School. Supposed to be farmers when they grew up and didn't need anything beyond the 8th grade. They had a hard time getting through that. In the Sept. starting of school, the boys were kept home to help harvest the corn and drive wheat and again in the Spring they were kept home to get the Spring crops in.
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After the fall work was over the 8th grade boys would come back to school, taking up their studies where they had left off. Boys might do this every year for several years. It was boring, school or anything was better than just sitting around the house. I don't remember that Arby ever came only once, he was quick to learn and probably finished in the one time. Three other boys, probably more than these I recall, Ernie Benedict, Ralph Walsh, Allie Denel. All Arby's pals. Used to have spell-downs. Quite often Arby and Ernie would choose up sides. If it was Arby' s turn first, he'd choose me and if Ernie's he would choose me. I learned to spell before I ever went to school. That was one of our evenings sports at home. Someone would pronounce the words and the rest of us would spell. I can hear some of you say "And you called that fun” to We did, no T. V., no radio, no nothing,we had to get our fun out of little things, and makeup games sometimes. This spelling at home made good spellers out of every one of us. We loved it. To get back to the school spelling contest, everyone no matter what grade you were in was chosen, the entire school divided into two sides opposite each other. Arby chose me first, because he wanted to be close by. If a hard word came up that he thought I might not be able to spell, he would say "Now, Rufus, you stop and think" or maybe it would be "divide it into syllables, etc” I sometimes disappointed him but not always, If I couldn't spell the word, he'd keep at me at home until I learned how. Ernie would always encourage me, too.
Friday Afternoon
Quite often on Fridays we would end the week with singing. Most of our songs came from a book called a "Knapsack", filled with ballads, hymns, patriotic songs, and humorous ones. There was no music written, just the words, everyone seemed to know the tunes. Someone would hum the keynote and we were off on a fun ending for the week. Here's a humorous one, we all loved singing especially the boys: Twenty froggies went to school. Down beside a rushy pool, Twenty little coats of green Twenty vests all white and clean. We must be in time said they First we study, then we play. That is how we keep the rule, When we froggies go to school. Master Froggie, grave and stem Calls the lessons in their turn Sitting there upon a log Taught us how to say "Ker Chawg" That ending was what the boys liked so much, coming out with the loudest "Ker Chawg" they sounded very much like the bull-frogs on Lovell's pond.
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We had no organ, no piano, just the book with the words. I had a Knapsack but I don't know whatever became of it. I had a book with the music written for the songs, also. Everyone knew the tunes anyway, so it didn't matter. Right now I think I'll say "Good Bye" to good old Bismark Grade School. I've finished the 8th grade by passing the County Examination and am now ready for 9th grade. So, lookout Vermontville High School, I'm on my way. It will probably never be the same again.
High School Years
My Mother always mourned the fact, she, who wanted so much to have an education, never had the opportunity, When she was a girl, anyone who could read well and add, multiply, subtract, divide figures, form a class of pupils qualified as a teacher. My Mother became a very good reader, also quite adept with figures. The teacher informed her she was now ready to teach a class of her own. Also the lady said she would help my Mother to find the pupils. Ma said she was so thrilled, but her Mother wouldn't allow it. Ma would have to leave home to do this and Grandma Croy wanted all her girls nearby. She allowed them to work for their near neighbors but no one else. Ma in later years had five daughters also a goal, to make everyone a school-teacher or at least go through High School. Mae graduated from Woodland, only ten grades there, went directly into teaching. Then Sylvia and Grace both finished eighth grade but the tables turned on our Mother. Instead of her not wanting her girls to leave home, the girls didn't want to leave. She tried making them go on to High School but they absolutely refused. As I look back, it was probably more fear of having to associate with all those town young folks. There was such a discrimination between town folks and farmers at that time. Town folks did really feel above the farmers. That feeling was there until quite recently. Anyway, when I was ready for High School, my Mother simply rented the farm, bought a house in town, moved in with her four daughters. When school started, Grace started in along with me. Ma tried to get Sylvia to start too but she didn't want to. She, Grace and I in the same class? Sylvia would have been a Senior if she had gone on from 8th grade, Grace a Sophomore. Well. Grace held out through 10th grade, then quit. She was such a good student but too proud for her own good. Was ashamed to be so far behind girls of her own age. Sylvia found a job right after we moved into town. She was a Type-setter for the local weekly newspaper, The Vermontville Echo.
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First house we bought was second house on south aide of the street east from the Opera House corner. We were practically on Main Street. Very friendly neighborhood, we soon felt right at home. People next door soon became our best friends. This friendship lasted the rest of our lives. A daughter named Ethlyn, Sylvia's age, the two girls became pals. It was this girl that Sylvia named Lucille for. Her last name was Kidder. She kept in touch with the rest of our family long after Sylvia was gone. A wonderful friend. Ma didn't care too much for this place we bought. It would soon be spring and no room for a garden. Ma, without a garden? That would never do, so she began looking for another house. Soon she found just what she wanted except the house was very small. living room, dining room, two bedrooms and a kitchen. Otherwise it was perfect so she bought the place at once. Nice big garden, large lawn, house back off the street, barn to keep a horse in, chicken coop, we now could-raise chickens again. Just what she wanted, we would just have to get used to that small house. Located on east main street. School-house just around the corner, practically at our back door, we sell our firs t house, move and try to tuck ourselves into this little place" It took some doing but we made it. This is where we lived when I worked in the Restaurant. I told you about that earlier in this history of memories.
V.H.S. Rah! Rah! Rah!
September of 1903 - Here I am registering as a Freshman in Vermontville High School. Scared but happy to be back in school again and tackle these strange subjects, Algebra, Latin, History and English. Two years of Latin was a required subject in order to graduate. There was one large assembly room, then two small class rooms behind this. All grades 9th through 12th were seated together in this big room. The Principal, a man, conducted his classes at the front, watching over the students who were not in class. Two class rooms, one for each lady teacher were placed behind the assembly. Classes passing into these rooms to hold their sessions. So different from Bismark, really made me proud to be part of this big school. Vermontville had literally a high school. The building was on a very steep grade, looking down from the west windows, one looked right over the tops of the houses on the next street. Could see all over that end of town and way out onto the farms located north of town. Beautiful view. The hill made a wonderful place to slide with our sleds not only at recess and noon time, used to have sliding down hill parties there and also children played there on Saturdays. On the lower floor of this building were two rooms for children from Kindergarten to eighth grade. Two teachers took care of these grades. Just five teachers employed in the whole school.
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My English Teacher
Miss Aldrich - She reminded me of my favorite Miss Prescott in some ways. She was not a serious and sentimental as Miss Prescott, she loved fun. Would laugh and joke with her students. Miss Aldrich was never married. Her name was Charolotte Z. Aldrich always signed her assignments in this manner Cza. Someone in our class decided it would be fun to play a joke on Cza. On our next papers we turned in to her, each one, instead of just signing our name signed just our initials, joining the letters together in the same manner she used. Next day, before Cza began our class, she stood up at her desk and said "Girls, don't ever sign your names like that or you'll turn into an old maid like me." Next time we turned in our papers we signed our full names, even the middle one, like Myrtie Candace Lovell. Miss Aldrich, after looking at our papers said "Now, that's much better. I felt I just had to warn you. " She was fun and we did our best to please her. Miss Aldrich lived across the street from our house. I used to help her look over papers and mark them on Saturdays, I liked that. Only had her as a teacher in my Freshman and Sophomore years. She moved away to California. The whole town hated to have Miss Aldrich leave, having taught in the Vermontville School for years. A very dedicated teacher. When she left she gave me her bicycle. I was certainly thrilled with that. later in my school life, Ma moved back to the farm and I used to ride my bike back and forth to school.
Crazy Ride
Coaster brake bicycles were never even heard of at that time. No brakes at all, every time the wheels turned so did your legs on the pedals. Only way you could slow the thing down was stop pedaling, dropping your feet to the ground letting them drag. On the way to school was a very steep grade, called the Corey Hill. I couldn't pedal my bike that far, so I walked pushing the bicycle alongside of me. It was a long hard climb. On the way home, going down, you had to fight the speed of your bicycle by dropping your feet to the ground every now and then. This to me was rather boring and I just had to do something outlandish to liven up the trip home a bit.
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From the top of that hill you could see a long way down the road to the north. I thought ” I’ll bet it would be fun to put my feet up on the handlebars and ride on down.” So, looking to see that no one was coming or anywhere around to see me, my next thought "I'll do it" and up went my feet. Perched on that small bicycle seat, with both my hands and feet on the handle bars, I began rolling down that hill, gaining speed at every turn of the wheel. I felt like I was flying like a bird, must have looked a little like one, too. Now the road at the bottom of this grade was covered with fine white sand, just the kind you put in sandboxes. Bet you think I fell off, well, I didn't. Hanging tightly to the handlebars, I plowed right straight through. The sand did break the speed of my bike slowing it down just enough for me to drop my feet down to catch the pedals. Reached the foot of the grade just in time, for around a curve in the road. came some people driving towards town. I rode my bicycle past them pedaling along like a perfect little lady I which I certainly was not. Hypocrite, I think. " I was often subject to nose bleeds at this time. One morning about half way up the hill, my nose suddenly started bleeding. Soon my handkerchief was soaked, I could do nothing but just let it bleed all over my face and down on my pretty white blouse. At the top of the hill was the Corey home. I stopped there, frightening Mrs. Corey terribly. Can remember after I told her what had happened, she made me lean my head over while she poured cold water on the back of my neck. That soon stopped the nose bleed, but I was certainly a sorry looking sight at school that day. Had to wear that bloody blouse all day. Next morning, Ma made me start for school early enough to stop and tell the Doctor about it. He gave me some medicine and I never had the nose-bleed after that. Incidentally, I never told my Mother or anyone else about my rides down Corey Hill. I do mean rides for I did it several times. I told after I grew up.
Johnnie Welch and Sylvia Lovell Meet
Time--August 17th, 1904 Place Sunfield Farmers Picnic Mable Wright, Sylvia's friend (their friendship formed on the west road. from Bismark) invited. Sylvia to come to Farmers Picnic that year with her and her boyfriend, Arthur Dow. Sylvia accepted. Arriving in Sunfield, the three were walking down the street and met Johnnie, he and Art were second cousins. Naturally they stopped to visit a little introducing Sylvia to Johnnie, who was alone. Soon they decided to make it a foursome and spend the day together. Before the day was over, Johnnie asked Sylvia for a date. Telling him, she would think about it and write her answer to him later, Sylvia came home with Art and Mabel.
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On the way home, she fired questions at Art to find out what she could about Johnnie. After all he was a perfect stranger, never had heard of his parents, didn't know anything only that he was a farmer. She knew Ma would want to know a little about him before letting Sylvia go anyplace with him. Next day, after repeating all the things Art Dow had said about this stranger, Ma decided he must be quite a bit older than Sylvia but he was a farmer and that of course pleased her. Finally Ma asked "How old is he?" Sylvia said that his birthday was the day before hers. But left unsaid their specific ages because Sylvia was two years older than John. Ma never knew until their license to be married was published. Sylvia didn't lie. Ma didn't ask for years. So after the talk with Ma, Sylvia wrote to Johnnie and gave him permission to come over. Addressing the letter to Mr. J. W. Welch, not knowing that was his Grandfather's name and she should have added Jr. to it. she touched off some fireworks. The girl Johnnie had been dating for some time lived right across the road from his Grandparents. She picked up the mail, delivering it to them, always if there were any letters, Grandma Rachel and Grandpa John would have Sadie (the girlfriend's name) open them, reading them aloud. Sadie did just that with Sylvia’s letter. Johnnie always said her reading it saved him the embarrassment of telling Sadie himself.
Johnnie Welch
At this time everyone, even his own people, called him Johnnie. John Welch was his Grandpa. It was a long time after Grandpa John died before people changed to John. The Lovell family never did change. My Mother and all of us certainly approved of Sylvia's new friend, a favorite of everyone all his life. John William Welch, Jr., born to Perry John Welch and Lucy Bishop Welch on March 18, 1886, had one brother. Perry Ray. 1889, five sisters Myrtle. 1893, Hazel. 1896. Ethel, 1897. Helen, 1898, Lucy, 1902. Also Perry and Lucy's first baby, Cora Mae was born April JO, 1863, died June 25, 1865. Her death an accident. Sitting near the table in her high-chair, she pushed against the table, tipping the chair over backwards, breaking her neck. She died immediately. Her father took the high-chair into the woodshed and completely demolished it. The highchair was not to blame but her poor Mother raised all seven of those other children without the help of a highchair. Cora Mae's father never allowed another in the house. At the age of twelve, Johnnie went to live with his Grandparents.
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John and Rachel on the old Welch homestead located first farm south of the Welch cemetery. His parents. Perry (more often called P. J. or Ped) and Lucy owned the eighty acres first farm north of the cemetery, living there at that time. Johnnie worked his Grandmother's farm from 1898 to 1918. He and Sylvia were married in 1905. Juanita born in 1907 and Lucille in 1909. During this time the old. old Welch house burned and the now standing one was built in 1909. Johnnie owned eighty acres on Dow Road. first house south of the Dow Church, and lived there while the house was being built. Selling that place. he bought a farm on 43 down near Grand Ledge. later trading this for the one. just north of the Dow Church, living there the rest of his life. Johnnie died (angina heart) Sept. 19. 1945.
Johnny and Sylvia
In 1903 when Sylvia started “keeping Company’ with Johnnie, we lived on east main street in Vermontville. Now Johnnie, being a farmer, had chores to be done, so he came to see Sylvia on Sundays, arriving in time for dinner; but always leaving early enough in the P.M. to take care of his stock and do the milking. Remember, this was back in the horse and buggy days, no cars to whiz over to Vermontville and then whiz back. Took a little time in those days. Although Johnnie was only a little past seventeen at this time, he had worked Grandma Rachel's farm since he was twelve and had more money than a lot of other boys had at twenty-one. He even owned a small farm out on the Smock Hills east of Sunfield near Gates road. Used it mostly for grazing his young cattle. Too many hills to farm. A very neat dresser, rubber tired buggy, pretty fat little bay mare, he called Molly, the Lovell's were always proud when Johnnie came into our driveway. Sylvia's beau! No other girl in town could match this one. At the end of east Main street, you come to a fork in the roads, the right hand going to Charlotte, the left going north was the road Johnnie came into Vermontville over. I used to walk out to this fork in the roads to meet him, just so I could ride in that rubber-tired buggy behind his pretty little Molly horse, hoping all the neighbors, would see me. Time moved along swiftly, soon Sylvia was planning her Wedding. I felt lonely already, first Mae, then Arby and now our fun-loving Sylvia was going to soon be gone. I think that part of it bothered Sylvia, too. She loved her old home so much and wanted to have her wedding there. Mae and Fred were living in the farm so, of course, Sylvia was welcome to come home to be married. Sylvia and Johnnie set up housekeeping at Grandma Rachel's in the same two rooms that Grandma and Grandpa John wilt for Johnnie's parents so long ago. Grandpa John was still alive, he liked Sylvia so much, I presume Grandma Rachel did, too, but she never would say she cared for anyone.
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Grandpa called Sylvia, Susie. He died, the night before Juanita was born. Sylvia sat by his bed all that night. His mind went way back to his boyhood days in Vermont, he talked most of the night. Sylvia said he'd say "Listen, Susie, can't you hear that brook splashing over the stones? It's right behind our cabin, you know." When, in later years Ray and I went east, we were in Vermont several days. We looked for an overnight cabin until we found one with Grandpa's "babbling brook" behind it. Now, how is that for getting off the subject? I'm back! Living in just two small rooms took a bit of doing. Sylvia soon had them looking so cozy and neat; they didn't mind, they were happy and starting down the road of life together made this a real HOME. The kitchen was a little cramped at times. Johnnie always had a hired man who lived with them, besides threshers, corn huskers, etc. always called for a gang of men. We managed. I say we because vacation times I was there helping Sylvia about as much as I was home. The new house was built after I graduated and I spent the whole summer there. The new house, Sylvia's pride and joy. Always sorry in a way about the old one, but so happy with this one. It was better for Grandma Rachel too. The north room with a nice big bedroom adjoining was planned especially for her. I really think she was proud of it herself. Grandma's life ended in this house on June 1st, 1918. Age 95 years. Soon after this a big change came up in Johnnie's life. He was asked to move. Myrtle, his oldest sister, had been married a couple of years to Robert Steadman, living in rented rooms in Grand Rapids. Can't remember what Bob did but Myrtle was a Telephone Operator. Coming home to their mother, asking her for help, Myrtle said she was pregnant, they wouldn't be able to live on Bob's salary, no home they could call their own, etc. Johnnie's mother asked him why he and Sylvia couldn't move to their farm down by Grand Ledge. If they would, she could rent this farm to Myrtle and Bob so Myrtle could have a home. Of course it was a shock to Johnnie but he really thought he'd be better off on his own place than renting here. Much better farm than the 120 he was working, he told his Mother he'd leave. He told Sylvia and she didn't want to go so far away from the Dow neighborhood. Go to Grand Ledge into a strange place, strange people, Sylvia said she just could not do it. Talking to a very special friend, David Parker, who lived on Dow Road, first house north of the Dow Church, David solved his problem. They decided to trade farms, David saying Mrs. Parker would just as soon go down there. Sylvia was so happy, they moved, Johnnie remodeled the house making it really nicer than the new house on the Welch place. It was here that Sylvia died from the terrible disease of Cancer on July 31, 1922. Sad ending of a happy marriage.

“Ped” and Lucy Welch
Father and Mother Welch to me, and I shall call them that in this chapter. I never in my life called them by their first names and I cannot do that even now. "Father!" Sylvia and I were so fond of him and we enjoyed calling him that. I think one reason was having lost our own father so• long ago, we were happy to have one now. I know he was as fond of us as we:• were of him. He never spoke an unkind word. to either one of us. When Father and Ray bought the grocery and shoe store here in Sunfield, Father asked me to go with him to the wholesale house in Grand Rapids to help him buy the shoes. We went on the 11:00 AM train: coming back on the 6 PM. At the wholesale house he introduced me as his daughter, not daughter-in-law or he could have said Ray's wife. But no, I was always Daughter to him and Sylvia was too. Now, I'll try and tell you what I can remember of the life of Father and Mother Welch. I'll need to skip dates for a few years. I have written before they went to housekeeping in the two rooms built by Grandma Rachel especially for them. By the way, this old house of Grandma's was the first frame house built in the township. I am just assuming it was here that little Cora, their first child was born and died. Next was Johnnie. This I do know, in Oct. 16, 1889, Ray was born in Shay town. At that time, the folks had a general store there, also the Post Office. Father was Post Master. They sold this business to Will Wells, living there three years, Mr. Wells moved to Woodbury, operating a general store there for years, and became quite prominent in the affairs of the township. Whether the folks bought the eighty acres north of the cemetery before or after they lived in Shay town , I cannot tell you. This is where they moved when they left Shay town and where their five girls were born. Father was a farmer, also owned and operated a Grain Threshing Machine, big, Steam Engine and Separator, Bean Thresher and a Portable Sawmill. In those days if you needed a barn, usually you had the material right OR your own land. Every farm had a big woods, the trees could be sawed into the lumber without buying it.
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Father had this portable saw mill and many barns around the area were built of the lumber he prepared. The big beams, the rafters, the flooring, the siding every piece cut for its proper use. Good deal like the ready-cut houses of today. Also, about this time in the early 1900's people began cutting down their woods, just having the trees cut down and sawed into logs. Clearing off these woods, gave the farmer more land for cultivation. In 1906, Father was on just such a job as this, when a terrible thing happened. An accident occurred, resulting in the loss of his right leg. Father and his crew of men were working on this big job down by Quimby, Michigan. So far away, they would stay for the week, just coming home from Saturday until Monday. This Monday morning, he and his engineer, Ora Moore, arrived before any of the others. Fire must be wilt in the Engine and kept going to get the Steam up to a certain pressure for power to run the saws. " Father stepped up on the conveyor to do sane oiling. Ora, being busy with his engine, didn't see him, turned the switch to start the saw and quick as a flash, Father was carried to that powerful saw just as though he was a log. Cut his foot off just above the ankle. Someway Ora, with help from the people where Father was working, managed to get him into town where the crew was boarding. Dr. from Hastings came soon enough to stop the bleeding. Johnnie was called by telephone. He and his mother left immediately. Ray was left behind but couldn't take it, not knowing what was happening he hitched up one of their horses and started for Quimby. Ray's folks didn't have very good horses for driving, just big clumsy work horses. Guess Ray must have thought he'd get there just as soon by walking. His slow progress was making him more nervous than ever. My brother Arby lived on the old home place on Ionia Road. Ray was going by there, he knew Arby had a good driving horse so he stopped, telling the story, asked to change horses there. Ray was only fifteen years old and Arby thought I wonder if he knows how fast to drive a horse that far. If a horse was -driven at top speed without slowing down every little ways, you could break their wind and they would never be any good again. Arby said he took another look at Ray and thought he can take my horse, if he spoils her it's alright. Said Ray looked so young, so frightened and sad. He loaned him the horse, Ray returned it that night in just as good shape as always. You see Arby told me this himself. Ray and I were “keepin company" at the time so I was glad to have Arby say that. Ray and Johnnie brought Father's foot back: made a box for it, burying the foot in Welch Cemetery on the Welch lot. Father kept complaining of the pain in his foot that wasn't there and someone came up with the idea, the boys had probably not buried the foot in the same direction that

Father was lying in that bed. So the poor boys had to dig up their box and see whether it was lying straight or not. Of course it was just a superstitious whim, for the foot kept right on paining him. Next thing was Gangrene sat in, Dr. had to cut Father's leg off just below the knee to stop the spreading of the blood-poisoning. This didn't stop it, so later they cut it off again about six or eight inches below the hip, leaving a stub just long enough to fit in a wooden leg. Those nerve spasms, that bothered him so much in just the foot, kept on in the whole leg and did at times all the rest of his life. Father was only forty-two years old when this happened. The Dr. was pretty wonderful, working under the conditions of the times, to have saved his life. Just a private home, no electricity, no running water, nothing convenient for anyone. Mother Welch stayed there to care for him. The lady of the house, Mrs. Castelein helping her. Don't remember how long it was before Father was well enough to come home. He used crutches for a while, then later an artificial leg. He became very clever with that leg, could walk so well that you scarcely could detect it. Of course, they had to leave the farm. Moved into Sunfield, they owned the house on the northwest corner of Third and Washington. I'll not trace their life any farther now rot will start from here when I tell of Ray and I. After we were married on May 18, 1911, our lives and Father's were connected so much, I can trace both at the same time.
Johnnie and His Girls
At the time of Sylvia's death, Ray and I owned the John Deere Implement Store in Sunfield. We stayed with Johnnie and the girls the night of the funeral, remaining for several days. Ray driving back and forth daily to work. We didn't know whether to just come home and leave them alone or stay One morning as Johnnie and I were watching Ray leaving for town, Johnnie turned to me saying "Jim, this is not treating Ray right. It's time the girls and I start building our lives together. The longer we put off being alone, the harder it will be." He was right. That is just what Ray and I had been wanting to hear. We knew it was just what they should do rot until Johnnie decided, we couldn't leave. Next day we came home. Juanita could cook very well for a girl her age and with Lucille's help they kept the house so nice and neat. All of our family were very proud of them. Sylvia, feeling ill so much of the time, had trained the girls to help her.
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Consequently they knew how to do most everything connected with running a home. The only thing that I thought they did wrong was never talking about Sylvia. If they only had, their grief would have been easier to bear. I know so many memories that should have been shared with each other. It is hard, I know, but the more often you talk about different things that have happened, the easier it becomes. First thing you know, you might think of something funny and you can even laugh about it. I have faced so many losses over the years. I try to face them all in this way. I love to talk about Ray, especially to my children. We have had many a laugh together about things that happened when Ray was here. Keeps the memory of him so fresh and precious. Of course everyone has a special way of facing these things. That was Johnnie and Juanita's way, just bottling it up inside. Lucille was always so eager to talk to me of her mother. Would think of things that used to happen, then ask me if I thought she was remembering it correctly. Johnnie was very proud of his girls and they had many happy times together. When Juanita and Lucille started in High School, they always came here for their noon meal. I quite often hurried around at noon, taking a big Johnny-Cake for Juanita to take home. Her Dad always had Johnny Cake and milk for his lunch. I worked in the store every day. Juanita quit High School, learned the art of Hair-dressing, opened up a shop in Ray's den here in this house. Permanents were unheard of in those days. Her trade was called Marcel Waving, an electric curling iron was used. Juanita was very good and soon she had plenty of customers. Always went home in time to prepare her Dad's supper. It wasn't an easy job. Some people's hair was fine like mine and you would have to spend about an hour before the waves would stay. Coarse hair was easier and stayed in longer. She soon had regular weekly customers. Can't remember the charge but I think it was fifty cents. Later on, Johnnie rented his farm, moved into town, working for Standard Oil Co., delivering oil and gasoline to farmers.I think he kept this job just one year. The heavy lifting he was required to do was affecting his back so he decided farming was easier and moved back home Three things happened around this time: Lucille and Edward Trowbridge married. Johnnie re-married to Daisy VanHouten. Juanita married Wesley Dorin. Lucille and Edward had two boys! Wendell born in 1927, died Sept. 16, 1955. Duane born 1929 living in Lansing with his father Ed. Juanita and Wesley had eight children: Larry, Kenneth, Mick, Wesley Jr., Jim, Raymond, Sally, (so much like her Grandma Sylvia) and Deanna. Ethlyn Lucille Welch Trowbridge Born July 17, 1909 - Died May 1980 Juanita Grace Welch Dorin Born Mar. 22, 1907 - Died April 26, 1984
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Daisy VanHouten, daughter of Neil and Ida. VanHouten, was born Nov. 12, 1895, on St. Joe Highway second house on north side of the road, just east of Dow Road. Daisy's grandfather, John VanHouten was a brother of Johnnie's Grandma Rachel Welch. Neil and Ida, near neighbors and close friends of Sylvia and Johnnie, Daisy was no stranger. Sylvia always thought so much of her, I often felt Sylvia would have chosen her to look after Johnnie and the girls, if she could. Of course, everyone on the Welch side of the family were well acquainted with Daisy, but to the Lovell's, she was a perfect stranger. Upon meeting Daisy, they all liked her and were happy to welcome her into the family. Even after Johnnie's death, we always asked her to all our family get togethers. Johnnie and Daisy had a son, J. W. Welch or Dub everyone called him, born Oct. 28, 1928, was a natural born farmer like his Dad. When Johnnie died on Sept. 19, 1945, Dub took over the farm just like a man. He was only 17, not through High School yet, carrying on for his Mother. Always so kind and thoughtful of her. Dub graduated from Sunfield High School in 1946. A year or so later he married Zeda Catlin. Her parents, Forrest and Noma Catlin, operated a store in Hoytville for a number of years. Dub and Zeda had two boys, David and Douglas. Also an adopted daughter Pamela. The boys are both married now. David has two children and lives in Florida. Don't know where Douglas lives but I don't think he has children. Zeda's parents spent their winters in Florida. Soon Dub and Zeda were going down there, too. Zeda would go first to put the boys in school, then Dub left as soon as his fall work was done. They bought a home near Naples. One year, Dub was taken sick before he finished his fall work; but he kept going until he was through and drove to Florida all by himself. Contacting a Doctor at once, he was told his illness was that terrible disease Cancer. He was in and out of the hospital for awhile but finally had to stay permanently in the hospital. He suffered untold agony and died Oct. 30, 1973. P. J. Flew down a couple of weeks before this and was with him constantly until it was all over. Dub was so dear to P.J., also to all of us, both Lovell's and Welch's.
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Daisy spent her winters in Florida, also. Living with another lady in Bradenton. Summers, up here she lived or sometimes worked for friends. Later on Daisy lived with her brother, Arzeno VanHouten and his wife Edna, who owned the home he and Daisy were brought up in. Been in the VanHouten family since Pioneer days. Their Grandfather, John VanHouten came here from New York with his parents in 1839, taking up this land from the government. The place is now a big horse farm. Daisy had so many tragic things happen in her life. Her first marriage to Earnest Smith ended in divorce. They had a son. Dick about 8 or 9 years old. He and Daisy came home to live with her parents. One day Dick was riding his bicycle on the road in front of their house, Daisy, watching him through the window, saw him get hit by a passing car. He was instantly killed. Later, after she and Johnnie were married, her father and mother were both instantly killed in an accident on M-50 over near Charlotte. Next was Johnnie's heart attack and now her only son was gone. Daisy had two brothers, Arzeno and Otto. Otto died first then Zene as we called him. Daisy was living with Zene and his Wife, Edna. at the time of his death. She and Edna continued living together for some time. Daisy was very ill for some time before her death. A good wife for Johnnie, a kind step-mother to his girls and a very good friend of mine.
John William Welch, Sr.
John W. Welch was a native of Pounal, Vermont, son of John and Emily Welch. Born Dec. 23. 1827. If he had brothers or sisters we were never told. This is the story told to me by Grandma Rachel. John left home at an early age. Made his way to Grand Rapids, drove a stage coach between. there and Big Rapids, making his home in the Cody Hotel. Roads were terrible, one especially bad place in Grand Rapids was paved with brick. It is in existence yet, I've road over it many times. Looks queer, pavement both ends of it. The city preserved it as a to Pioneer days. After Grandpa quit the stage coach business, he was just tramping around through the country, working at anything he could find. He stopped at Grandma Rachel's asking for work and she hired him. Grandma Rachel was a widow with four children, really needed help. In Oct. 1863, she and Grandpa John were married. They had. one son, Perry John Welch, born Sept. 1, 1864. Grandpa John died, Mar. 21, 1907.
Grandma Rachel
Grandma Rachel was born Oct. 14, 1823, daughter of Peter C. and Ann (Wine) VanHouten, old Holland Dutch stock, in Paterson, New Jersey. Peter C. was a farmer in New York City, living there when his wife died, leaving him with a family of six small children.
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Peter C. re-married; living in New York City until he came to Michigan in 1839. Making Eaton Co. his destination. He secured 80 acres of heavily timbered land in Roxand township and erected a log house there. This place was kept in the VanHouten name until very recently. The VanHoutens are all gone now and it is owned by people named Greengard. They have turned the farm into a horse farm, raising pure bred racing horses. Located at 5742 St. Joe Hwy. Peter C. VanHouten transported his family and household goods from New York to the Erie Canal, using oxen and wagon, then proceeding by boat down the canal to Buffalo, and by lake vessel to Detroit. Making the rest of the trip through the forest by ox team again to his destination in Eaton Co. Grandma Rachel was six years old at this time, grew up in the woods, attended school in a little log school house. Her father was one of twin children as was Grandma Rachel and had twin girls herself. Grandma Rachel was first married in Apr. 1843, to Willis Barnum who came to Michigan from Ohio buying wild land in Sunfield township, 360 acres, clearing it mostly into farm land. The 120 acres where Grandma Rachel lived was a part of this original farm. She and Mr. Barnum had four children. Dwight, born Feb. 6, 1844. A union soldier in the War of the Rebellion, died while in service, Apr. 20, 1862. Grandma Rachel drove an ox team hitched to a buckboard and brought Dwight's body home to be buried. I believe it was in Tenn., I'm not sure; Made the trip all by herself. This, by the dates, must have been after Willis died and before or about the time she and Grandpa John were married. Their next child was Watson, born Mar. 25, 1846, died Dec. 26, 1871. Helen and Hester, twins, born Feb. 2, 1852. Helen dying Sept. 29, 1867. Hester Mar. 26, 1872. Ray's father, Perry J. remembered them and said all three of them had Tuberculosis. All of these people are buried in the Welch cemetery which was given to Sunfield township by Grandma Rachel. She told me this story, the first death occurred in the township, no place yet designated for a cemetery, she offered this plot of land, reserving a spot for her own family. Grandma is buried there beside Mr. Barnum and her four children. It is located on the right hand side of the driveway about half way up the hill. After she and Grandpa John were married, she had quite a large plot put aside for the Welch's. This is up at the top of the hill in the southwest corner. That is where Grandpa John is buried. Don't believe I have told you, the frame house that burned when Johnnie and Sylvia lived there was the first frame house built in Sunfield township. Grandma Rachel furnished nearly all the money to build the Dow Church. She never told it but Ray's father told me. Also said she did so much for people who needed help but never wanted it mentioned. A grand old lady! I was proud to be a granddaughter, even though I was just an in-law!
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The Lovell Family
L. D. Lovell - Born 1850 - McComb. Ohio Sarah Ann (Croy) Lovell - Born 1857 - McComb. Ohio
Nancy Mae - Born Oct. 10. 1877 - Married F. Clay Arby Ray - Born December 5. 1879 - Married Minnie Campbell Sylvia Estella - Born Mar. 18. 1884 - Married John W. Welch Vanloa Grace - Born Jan. 25. 1887 - Married Chas. Collier Myrtie Candace - Born July 5. 1890 - Married Perry Ray Welch Andella Pearl - Born Dec. 18. 1892 - Married Earl VanBuren No chance in Ohio. Worked as hired help on farm. no work in winter. Relatives in Lansing. Man with team could always find work. Moved to Lansing when Arby was a baby. Not sure of date, 1879 if came in fall. House, Larch Street North Lansing. Drew logs from Old Maid's Swamp near Dimondale. Moved to Woodland - mile west first house on west side, turning south from 43. Next farm where Sylvia and Grace were born. Then to the big brick house at the south end of Wellman Road. I was born there on July 5. 1890. Rented that farm. Moved the fall of 1890 to Eaton County. Sunfield Township, 70 acres. John Rawson story. Farm paid for by 1900. Bought 80 acres on west of Rawson's corners. Pa died May 26. 1901. Ma's birthday.
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