S. M X..

Grandma's stories and anecdotes of Ye olden times : incidents of the War of Independence, etc. online

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or mows STORIES









Stories and Anecdotes

Incidents of the War of Independence, Etc.


S. M. X.

Of the Visitation Academy, Baltimore, Md.







THERE is a charm in a well-told story that
few other things in life seem to possess ; for
children especially, it is the most engaging
pastime. They will readily leave an inter-
esting game and listen for hours to tales of
adventure, historical anecdotes, or incidents
of real life. Unfortunately, all well-told
stories are not equally productive of benefit.
Some, while they recreate and interest the
child, convey to the mind nothing to improve
it, or that cultivates the intellect.

Children's minds are as impressible as wax,
with this difference ; the image may be effaced
from the wax , but from the memory, seldom
or never ; careful, then, should we be in our
selection of stories for the little ones, re-
membering the adage of old : "Early impres-
sions are lasting."

As the tree is easily bent when a sapling,
so can the tender minds of children be
inclined to good or evil by the nursery
teachings. Too much care cannot be
taken to impress them with a love of what
will render them virtuous and happy in
after life. Stories that convey the moral of
truthfulness, uprightness and strict adherence
to duty, can never fail to produce a lasting
effect. Fiction is good but truth is more
desirable. The contents of this little volume
are founded on fact, and given in the simple
language we caught up from the venerated
grandma of years long since gone by ; we
fondly trust they may prove useful and
recreative to the little lovers of tales and

Baltimore, 1899










DAYS til


18121814 84



Grandma's Stories and Anecdotes




THERE was nogreater'pleasure or treat
for us than to gather around our dear
old grandma in the long winter-evenings
and listen to the stories of what she called
"Ye Good Olden Times." She had many
of the quaint sayings of old England that
rendered her anecdotes and histories the
more interesting.

Grandma was a remarkable personage;
at the advanced age of eighty and more,
her faculties were unimpaired and it was


only thejbent form that indicated decline
of years and made us realize that the
shades of night were fast gathering around
the life that had been but sunshine and
happiness to others for nearly a century.
Her memory, to the last, was a store of
useful knowledge and general information;
often have we wished for it in latter years
and days of study. She was well versed
in the history of nations, and had learned
from tradition every important incident
connected with our own loved country,
from the commencement of Maryland's
great part in the historical drama, or from
its settlement by the Cal verts in 1634.
Her experience and personal acquaintance
with the leading characters of Virginia,
Maryland, etc., would have sufficed for
volumes : unfortunately, we knew not the
treasure we possessed until it was hope-
lessly lost.

Grandma had long been promising us a


series of historical facts and anecdotes of
the old Colonial period. She one day re-
marked that as Yule-tide was approaching
she would make those stories one of her
Christmas-gifts to us; it is needless to say
we counted the days and hours and could
hardly wait with patience the coming of
those joyous evenings when all could be
together, free from books and essays.

On the second evening of the glorious
festival, we were summoned to the dear
old lady's sitting room where we found
her prepared to give us a charming wel-
come. A neat little table in front of her
large arm-chair, was laden with knicknacks
of all kinds, each bearing the name of the
one for whom it was intended. It was a
jolly moment, one never to be forgotten.

Well, after the presentation ceremony
was over, and many loving words to our
grandma, Charlie, the oldest amongst us,
became spokesman for the evening and


ventured to remind our hostess of the
promised stories. He began with: "Now,
grandma, let us have a toast to the good
olden times of yore, and to your youthful

She laughed in replying: "Yes, Charlie,
those were good old times; there are none
like them now and never will be."

"Grandma," said Charlie, "don't you
think every generation says the same ?
I bet when we are old we shall tell the
youngsters about our grand old times,
won't we, grandma ?" I can just hear my-
self now telling the little boys and girls
about to-night and all the other pleasant
evenings you have given us."

"Well, yes," replied grandma, "that is
true, but our times were different from any
that will ever occur in the future of this
country. We were in the midst of war, and
the rumors of war, and had a great deal to
contend with, anxieties of eveiy kind.


"All, rich and poor, had the same trials
and difficulties, and all were united,
having one heart and one soul, determined
on resisting the oppression of our mother
country, England. We had to work and
turn our hands to everything and any-
thing ; still, we were happy, except when
thinking of the dear ones that had fallen on
the field of battle, and of those who might,
share the same sad fate."

Grandma lost two brothers, both under
Washington, and she never spoke of them
without a sigh or a tear, and no doubt she-
often wept bitterly in her silent hours
and moments. She told us of many that
were never heard of after they enlisted.

She was born in 1755, consequently, was
ten years old when the famous Stamp Act
was passed by the British Parliament in
1765, and could relate many incidents
and interesting anecdotes of that perilous,
age. She told us the Act created great


consternation throughout the entire coun-
try, and especially among the business
portion of the population, as all the legal or
business paper was stamped and could not
be used without it. In those days a great
many grants, deeds, transfers, etc., had to
be signed by the Lord Proprietary or
Lieutenant Governor, and the cost
amounted to quite a sum, which few could
afford. But the young people did not
bother about the Stamp Act, "for, as
you may imagine," said grandma, laughing,
"our love-letters were not written on the
stamped paper. But when, in the following
year the Act was repealed and the
<luty put upon tea, glass, etc., then you
ought to have heard the ladies talk ; old arid
young were roused to the highest talking
pitch. They held meetings of indignation
and drew up resolutions of protest, etc.,
which, however were never sent to King
George or any of his representatives.


"One elderly lady declared she would
die without her tea, and that if it was
beyond her ability to get it, she would
give up the ghost; that tea was her only
beverage, and she would become as dry as
a haystack if deprived of her little tea-pot.
To her dining-room maid she said: 'Minty
chile, take good care of the tea; it's going
to be taxed, and I do not know if we will
ever see any more after the present supply
is gone. Dear, dear, what will I do?'

" 'What,' said the darkey, k tacks on tea!
Why don't dey say nails at once, and be
done with it? Tacks on de tea! who eber
heard of it. Laws, missus! is de Britishers
gwiue to be as mean as dat, make us drink
tacks tea ? We is cum to a fine pass, in-
deed we is, to be drinking dat stuff. Surely
Massa George Washingtun ain't gwine to
stan' dat !'

"The mistress attempted explanation of
the tax, but the darkey knew almost as


much as the mistress," said grandma, and
she laughed heartily.

u ln those days, tea seemed to be the
general remedy for all pains and aches; if
one had a cold, it was, 'take a cup of hot
tea, chile, that will cure you.'

"Yes, tea was considered the staple of
life and many were the groans and laments
at the prospect of its becoming too expen-
sive for use."

Grandma was full of humorous wit and
delighted in the telling amusing anecdotes.

"One day," said she, "old Mrs. Wrigger,
who sometimes spun for us, came to see
about her work, and as soon as she got in
she began her tale of woe.

"'Laws sake!' she said to my mother,
'isn't it awful times, Mrs. N ? I hear
Parliament has taken all the stamps off the
paper and put them on the tea and glass;
dear me! what will we come to next? I
believe it will be the death of poor mother;


she just lives on tea. She and me sets by
the tea-pot at breakfast, dinner and supper,
and what she don't take I do, so there's
not a drop left betwixt us. I used to be
inclined to like the Britishers,but can't bide
them now; when people touches tea, they
touches me, and I'm done with 'em forever
and aye. Poor mother sets shaking her
foot ; she looks at the pot and then at me;
but she don't say anything, only says she
to me the other day, says she, "Caddy,
won't we miss the old tea-pot !" Says I to
her, "Oh, mother don't be worrying about
the tea; I'll manage to keep the pot
agoing." '

"My mother kindly told Mrs. Wrigger
to tell her mother she would see to her tea-
pot when the worse would come to the

" 'There, now,' responded Mrs. Wrigger,
'I knowed you would, and told mother so.
Well, I'm going home much more light-


hearted than when I cum in, good-bye/
and off she went.

"Old Mrs. Dempsey made a great to-do
about glass ; she was not so fond of tea.
Her husband coming in one afternoon, she
accosted him with: 'John Dempsey, is it
true we are to have a heavy duty on glass?'

" ' It seems so,' replied the old man.

" ' Then,' said she, 'I'll give up, for when
a pane breaks, where will we get another? '

" 'Cover it up with sheepskin, Sallie,
that's plenty good enough these times.'

' 'Cover the window with sheepskin,
John Dempsey ? Why, surely, man, you
are dreaming. Whoever heard of sheep-
skin windows? I tell you, sir, they'll
never come into my house. Sheepskin
windows I Great heavens! I'd sooner have
no windows at all.

" 'You forget, John Dempsey, that our Sal
and Betsy are both going to turn out in
company next winter, and how will it look


for people to be riding up the lane and
seeing our sheepskin windows ? You may
laugh as much as you please, man, but I'll
never let sheepskin windows in my house.
I'd sooner daub up the walls entirely and
have tallow candles in day time. I
know what I would like to do ; I would
take every pane of glass in this house, go
over to England and pitch the whole kit
and bile in old George's face ; and as to
the tea, I'd make it boiling hot by the
gallon and pour it clown his throat until I'd
see him burst every inch of him ; then he'd
know what it is to be putting his old
fingers in our pie, as the saying goes.'

" 'Well, well,' said old Dempsey, 'I never
heard a woman talk and go on like you,
Sal ; s'pose you hold on till you feel the
weight of the taxes.'

" 'Hold on, and for what? Just to see
the Redcoat walk in and carry off all we
possess, just because we own a little tea


and some glass ? When they sez glass they
mean everything that looks like glass, and
nary a tumbler will be left to drink out
of when company comes. I know them
fellers by heart, John Dempsey, and you
don't.' "

Grandma stopped to take a pinch of
snuff and a sip of water, then related
another anecdote.

"Well, old Mrs. Lyons, the weaveress,
entered one afternoon, and she began with :
*Mrs. N ,' said she to mother, 'don't you
think it a mean thing in the Parliament to
be putting the big stamp from the papers,
to the tea and glass ? They might as well
have left it on the papers, don't you think
.so ? I know it puts me in a fix, for just
one month ago I went and bought six glass
tumblers, the first we ever had; we always
drank out of tin cups and gourds, and I
tell you, Mrs. N , our gourds are nice
enough to give the king himself, but our


Jane gets airs sometimes and she allowed
we ought to have a few tumblers for com-
pany, and I gratified her, but I am deter-
mined to sell three of them. I'm sure
three is a plenty for any family like ours,
and since Jim Jinks went to war she never
has more than one youngster to come at a
time. I s'pose you don't want to buy any
more tumblers, do you, Mrs. N ?' Mother
answered her kindly but negatively, adding:
'Haven't you paid for them, Mrs. Lyons?'
'Laws yes I took over to the store three
dozens of chickens, a dozen ducks and two
pecks of dried apples, and exchanged them
for the tumblers; it's true, they throwed in
a wee bit of sugar and a pint of molasses
in the bargin !' "

"You had many a laugh in those days,
grandma," said my brother Edward, "and
I think the women had a great deal of
spunk, hadn't they?"

"Yes, indeed, child, they had spunk and


pluck to the backbone, and I believe if the
women had been called to the field of
battle, they would have conquered the
enemy sooner than the men. But they
were generous; mothers sent off their sons,
and sisters urged their brothers to be
valiant and courageous, and I tell you.
children, we had anxious days though
many a little sparkling of fun. Every now
and then sad news would reach us and our
spirits flagged for a while; then again we'd
hear of some great victory on our side, and
there would be fine cheering ; that's the
way in war. you know.

"Once a poor man wretchedly clad,
came to our house and said he was
from Washington's Army in New York;
that he had been sent out on the scout,
taken captive by the Indians and kept for
several weeks, almost starving ; he made
his escape one dark night and pushed
southward. He gave good tidings of our


northern array, but we did not trust him
much, fearing he was a spy. Father and
mother gave him a night's lodging and
meals. Next morning he was ill with what
he called 'Camp Fever,' and he died in
a few hours. We kept his coming and
death profoundly secret ; none of the
neighbors knew anything about it for
nearly a year.

"In those days, when we were told not
to tell a thing we dared not speak of it."

"I bet," said Harry, "it would have been
told these times as there are so many girls,

"Thank you, master Harry," said I, "foi
your compliment."

"When was the first battle fought,
grandma ?" queried Harry.

"Well, you know, child, the Redcoats
entered Boston, September 27, 1768. Gen-
eral Gage was sent over with two regiments
to make us submit to the English taxation,


and he carried a high head from all ac-

"He ought to have had some of the
plucky ladies to deal with, Mrs. Dempsey
for instance," said our Charlie.

"And," continued grandma, "you know
all the duties except those on tea, glass,
etc., were removed in 1767. In 1770,
only the tax on tea remained and the
British were determined to get that out
of the Americans, and the Americans just
as determined not to pay a cent of it.

"Our men disguised themselves as Indians
and in the very face of the British, emptied
a whole cargo of tea in Boston Harbor.
Wasn't it plucky in them ? And in An-
napolis they burnt the Peggy Stewart and
all the tea on board of her, but spared the
crew and let them get home the best they

"In and about Boston annoying little
skirmishes frequently occurred, in most of


which our men were whipped ; that, how-
ever, did not discourage them; on the con-
trary they rallied with more energy and
every man and boy that could muster a
gun of any kind, hurried northward.

"The battle of Bunker Hill was fought
June 17, 1775, and though we lost,
Gen. Howe, then in command of the
British, was glad to run into Boston and
hide his army. After that battle, Gen.
Washington was appointed Commander-
in-chief and we all said: 'Now we'll whip
the Redcoats,' and sure enough we did.

"Prescott headed our troops at Bunker
Hill; he was a good general but not like

"How did you all get the news so quickly,
grandma ?" asked Edward.

"Why, child, we had smart messenger-
boys and men who rode from town to
town conveying the result of each battle
or fight. As they passed through the


villages, even at night, they shouted out
whatever it was they had to report ; if favo-
rable, there was great rejoicing, but if
disastrous, our faces were long enough for
days or until we heard something to cheer
us. Little boys were paid for carrying the
news to private houses, and if you
had been there, Charlie, you would have
made a few pennies. Every one was eager
to hear and know everything concerning
the army.

"I knew one poor little drummer-boy
who was shot in two by a cannon-ball at
Bunker Hill. He went from our neigh-
borhood; his poor mother never got over
his sad death, but was resigned to God's
holy will, knowing he died in a glorious
cause. She knew he would have fared
badly if a prisoner in the hands of the
English. Oh, indeed, my dear children,
we had a mortal horror of the English
soldiers, they were so cruel and so deter-


mined on our submitting to their tyrann-
ical yoke.

"Sometimes in the winter our men would
be allowed a furlough or leave of absence
for a definite time, and we would hear an-
ecdotes and stories worth listening to, some
sad, others joyful, most of them amusing.
Of the last you must hear one that will in-
terest you. During the battle of German-
town, October 4, 1777, when the fight was
hottest, Major Burnet, one of the officers
of Gen. Greene, was shorn of his handsome
cue, by a musketball. Gen. Greene per-
ceiving it, said: 'Don't be in a hurry, get
down and save your cue.' The major
followed the advice and regained his hair.
A few minutes after, a shot came whizzing
by and carried off one of the powdered
curls of the general. Burnet could not
resist the temptation to retort on his su-
perior officer and said: 'Don't be in a hurry,
dismount and save your curl.' As the


enemy were in close pursuit, the general
preferred to lose his curl rather than him-
self and fine horse.

"O, my dear children," continued grand-
ma, "our struggle for liberty was a hard
one, but, thanks to Almighty God, we have
been repaid for our sacrifices. You, my
dear ones, can never know how much you
are indebted to your ancestors for what
you now enjoy, and I trust you may be
able to say to future generations, what I
have so often said to you: 'There are no
times like our good old times.' I think
it is time now for our night prayers, so a,
happy good night with pleasant dreams.

"Tomorrow evening I will tell you
something of the Declaration of Indepen-
dence, and the joy it brought to all hearts."



4 ' T\/T THER ' ' Said m y brother Ed ~

IVJ. ward, at the dinner table, "can't
you let us have supper a little earlier this
evening? Grandma has promised to tell us
about the Declaration of Independence,
and I know it is going to be jolly."

"Advance supper!" replied mother. '"I
fear you children are worrying your
grandma ; you must not forget she is old,
and should not be fatigued unnecessarily."

Turning to the waiter, she said: "Ad-
vance ten minutes, John. I guess that
will give time enough, won't it, children?"

"Yes, and thank you, mother," replk-d
one and all.


Brother Charlie said in his dry way:

"I reckon if you had seen grandma last
night, mother, you would not call her old;
it did my heart good to see her so young.
I believe she could have danced the horn-

Papa joined in saying, "Yes, and she is
yet worth ten young ones."

Nettie, our little sister, went to pay
grandma an afternoon visit and told her
we were going to have early supper.

"Early supper," said the old lady,
"what's that for ? Is anything expected?"

"Why, grandma," said the prattler, "the
boys told mother you were going to
tell us a jolly story about the 'Declamation
of Innopenance,' and they wanted more

"Good gracious," replied grandma, "do
they expect me to talk all night, the little
scamps ?"

"And," continued Nettie, "mamma said


we must not worry you, grandma, because
you are so old, and Charlie told her you
were young enough last night to dance the
hornpipe. What's that, grandma?"

"The good-for-nothing fellow," replied
grandma. "Tell him, Nett, I will crack his
head for him. I, young enough to dance
the hornpipe!" and the old lady's laugh
might have been heard outside her room.

The hours sped on and soon brought
supper; when all were fairly in, Nettie ac-
costed Charlie with:

"Ah, master Charlie, you are going to
catch it; grandma says she will quack your
head for saying she was young enough to
dance the hornpipe."

"Did you tell grandma that, you little
vixen?" said Charlie. "I declare, mother,
Nettie is getting to be a real tattler and she
ought to be hauled over; she told grand-
ma the other, day that I said her nose and
chin would soon meet."


"Nettie," said her mother, "you really
must not repeat to grandma or any on &
else, the little things you hear; after a
while everyone will be afraid of you.
Now, you needn't go to grandma and say
I said this, do you understand?"

Nettie was as pleasant as though she
had received no rebuke or chiding, and
that is the way all little girls should be
when corrected, and never look angry or
pout when found fault with.

Well, supper was over and we sat wait-
ing for a summons from grandma; after a
while down came her maid to say: "Ole
missus is read}- for the chillun."

How we scampered up the stairs I
There was dear grandma, seated in her
large arm-chair, closely wrapped in her
little shawl. She kissed us all and after
taking a good pinch of snuff said: "What
did I promise to tell you to-night? "


"The Declaration of Independence," we
all shouted.

'Tell me first," said grandma, "when
was Independence declared?"

"The fourth of July, seventeen hun-
dred and seventy-six," answered Charlie.

"Yes," said the old lady, "that was the
happiest day America ever saw, decidedly
the happiest, and there were great rejoic-
ings, I assure you, children.

"We knew our statesmen were in ses-
sion, debating the point of freedom, etc.
Congress was held in the State House at
Philadelphia, for you know we had no
fixed capital at that time and it was only
in 1800, that the city of Washington be-
came the seat of Government. General
Washington laid off and planned the
city in 1790, and it was then decided
to begin the building of the Capitol.
Washington took his ideas from a wheel.
He intended the Capitol to represent the


hub, and the radiating avenues the spokes
of the wheel. And here I must tell you
an anecdote lest I forget it. When it
was decided to remove the Capital, a
countryman met another and hailed him
with: 'Arrah, and did you hear the news?*

" 'No/ replied his friend, *and what's up,,
tell me, Jim.'

" 'Well," said the other, 'they are going-
to fetch the Capitol from Philadelphy
clean down to Washington, and I tell you,
man, there's going to be game in it.'

"Pshaw, Jim,' shouted Jerry, 'you don't
tell me that; how will they ever do such a.
tiling. Why, man, it will take years for
such a job as that, and there'll be no team
left at all, at all, after such a pull and
haul. 'Twill kill every horse and mule in
the country to drag such a big house so

" 'Ha, ha, ha,' shouted Jim, 'they ain't
going to fetch the house, but only the


goods and chattels ; they can't move the
State House.'

" k But, } T OU know, Jim, 'capitol' means

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Online LibraryS. M X.Grandma's stories and anecdotes of Ye olden times : incidents of the War of Independence, etc. → online text (page 1 of 5)