Clark Emerson Stewart.

On Randolph hills : personal memories--anecdotes--reminisences--and characters online

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On Randolph Hills







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Second Edition

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Personal Memories - Anecdotes
Reminisences - and Characters


Price: Paper Cover 40c; Cloth Bound 75c


Printed by The Heyworth Star




I— I


ffi I

Sf^D On Randolph Hills


The hills of Randolph mostly rise to mark the shores
of the Kickapoo. They do not seem so great in size, but
add much beauty to the view. Their sides, all carpeted
with green are sometimes steep and rugged too. The
Creek glints in this charming scene. The winding, smiling

For eighteen miles the waters eat into the bluffs of
soil and clay. Sometimes a drop of forty feet shows
where the current made its way. The hills are lovely
to the view, but take a value from the land. A
forest of great trees once grew along the hills, but now
the hand of man has sadly changed the view, and but a
few remaining stand.

The early settlers mostly built beneath their hos-
pitable shade. They found the water. Found the silt,
found the fuel ready made.

The later settlers had to cast their lot on prairies, *
vast and cold. But fire and plow and tile at last has
changed that sea to waving gold.

The memory of each swelling hill is very vivid to me
yet, for there I learned to toil and till in winter's cold and
summer's sweat.

I loved its men and women wise. Knowing their
worth and virtues true — who strove to make a Paradise.
I loved them for their vices, few. To those brave char-
acters who toiled so worthily, their homes forsook and
built an Eden in the wild, I dedicate this little book.

[ 3 ]

I can remember it first when the neighborhood was
just emerging from the pioneer stage and I had the
satisfaction of seeing it develop into an educated and re-
fined community.

We always claimed, with considerable evidence, that
Center School District was an unusually intellectual com-
munity. Witness the literary societies, the debating
clubs, a good church and Sunday School ; even a brass
band. All these contributed to its process.

In my earlier memories I can think of many of the
*'Snow Birds," so-called because they came before the
famous deep snow. They were all men and women of
great courage and patience and all had pronounced
opinions and strong conviction. Many of them were

Scene Along The Kickapoo
Powell Farm
[ 4 ]

what one might call ''characters."

Gardner Randolph himself was a character. He was
the first settler. But as soon as the population began to
increase he moved on — farther west. He said it was get-
ting so civilized that a man could not feel free any more.

We had in the neighborhood many interesting men —
strong, silent men. Yes, and some strong garrulous ones,
too. Several of the best ones had been elected Squire and
they administered what ever justice seemed needed in our
mostly pacific community.

One of the most interesting ones was SQUIRE
STRINGFIELD. A short, wiry, nervous type of man —
very active, very friendly, and very devout. He had a
high, piping voice which he kept pretty much occupied
all the time. That is, when he could get any one to listen
to his tales of the early settling of the township ; of their
hardships and privations ; of their sacrfices and struggles.
**Rough and ready" was the soubriquet that he gave him-

SQUIRE CROOKSHANK — since changed properly
to Cruikshank — but still a name of rather doubtful origin.
Mr. Crookshank had a thin trembly voice. He also stut-
tered very much at times. One day a good Methodist
said to him. *'We will live long enough to see you safe
in the Methodist fold."

''Well, it is p-p-p- possible, but not very p-p-p- prob-
able," responded Mr. Crookshank good naturedly.


SQUIRE THOMPSON. Mr. Thompson was to me in
my boyhood day a very reserved man. He said very little
and I believed him to be cold and stern. But I remember
being very much surprised one day to hesiY Father urge
him to come over and see us and take dinner. And Father
expressed to me the sentiment that Squire Thompson was
a very worthy citizen. Which, as I said, was a real sur-
prise to me.

He had a couple of lively boys. I remember once
when I happened to be at their house on Sunday that the
boys hitched up a pair of colts to the buggy, intending to
take their sisters to Heyworth. The Squire protested that
they could not handle the horses. But the boys boldly re-
plied, ''We'll show you." But when they started to drive
out of the barnyard the colts made a dash and first thing,
they ran the buggy into the fence. The Squire sprang to
his feet and shouted, ''Unhitch those colts before you all
get your necks broken." But the boys just looked over
their shoulders and laughed — and drove away.

This was a new revelation to me of Mr. Thompson,
for I could never in my fancy imagine us ever ignoring
our father's commands.

"Humph," muttered Mr. Thompson to me. "They
know more than their father ever did. At least they
THINK they do," he added as he sat down again.

Then SQUIRE VAN DERVOORT — my uncle after
whom I was named and to whom I was always very de-
voted. And he seemed very devoted to me, too. He was
by nature a very social man and took lively interest in his

[ 6 ]

neighbors and their welfare. A very kindly, well mean-
ing mean, showing somewhat his Dutch ancestory in his
stocky figure and wide mouth. He had long flowing
whiskers which he often combed with his fingers. He
was generous, but cautious and shrewd.

In his latter years he developed much physical dis-
tress, partly perhaps in his imagination, but much of it
very real. I am sure that a great deal of it came from his
violation of all the rules of hygiene. For he slept in a
room with the windows tightly closed. He ate heartily
of everything that grew. He took very little exercise.
Then, he lay flat on his back in bed by the hour, much of
the time reading the Chicago Tribune. Then, he chewed
fine cut incessantly. But he seemed to be what they call-
ed in Pinafore ''The embodiment of positive contra-
dictions." For he lived to well beyond eighty years and
his eyes were so good that near his end he could still read
without glasses.

He used to send for Father to come over. They were
devoted friends. He would begin to tell Father about
some alarming symptoms that had developed, and ask
Father's best advice. Father would listen with great
sympathy and then tell him that he was absolutely
confident that the trouble was just a trifle, that he saw
no cause for alarm and suggest some simple remedy. This
would cheer Uncle Clark up very much and soon he
would hop out of bed and take Father out to see a new
stand of bees or a new calf — his aches and pains mostly

[ 7 ]


When Father would at last come home Mother
would exclaim, "Archie, where have you been?"

**0h," Father would reply with a shrug, 'The Squire
sent for me to come over and see him die again."

SQUIRE HOUSER was a character, too. He lived on
what was called **Whig Row," because there were so
many of that political faith along the highway. A port-
ly, florid man, very friendly — if you did not rub the fur
the wrong way. We called him mostly ''Uncle Dock," al-
though he was neither our uncle, nor a doctor. And
some of the bold ones called him "Old Dock." Behind
his back, you may be sure.

"UNCLE" JOHNNIE RUST was also a vital man-
reddish as to hair, plump as to figure, round as to face.
His favorite expression when he began a sentence was
"Why, sir."

One tim.e, Mr. Rust hired a chap who had just come
from Scotland to work on the farm. So the first thing Mr.
Rust said was, "Come on boys. We will gather a load of
corn." When they got to the fi.eld the new hand sprang
out of the wagon and the first thing they knew, he was
pulling off the tassels as fast as he could and throwing
them into the wagon bed. He knew of no corn excepting
wheat and oats and he naturally supposed that gathering
corn meant collecting the heads.

[ 8 ]

WILLIAM KARR, always called '^Billie" was a char-
acter, too — a strong, vigorous, aggressive man. He was
a cattle raiser and farmer — prouder perhaps of his farm
than he was of his boys. His method of arguing was to
make his statement, with much emphasis. Then before
the other man could reply he would begin to laugh and he
could and did **beller," as we called it, so long and so loud
that the other man could not reply at all.

Finally, comes SQUIRE STEWART— Father. But
his old title of Doctor clung to him and he was not called
**Squire very often.

Father always had a great pride in his neighbor-
• hood and he conceived the ambition of going through his
entire term without ever having a law suit brought before
him — just to show what an orderly, peaceful neighbor-
hood he lived in.

But, one day Charlie Taylor came over from Lytle-
ville to say that a man had sued him for five dollars.
After some discussion Father said, ''Now, Charlie, you
are a pretty good sort of fellow. Supposing I just lend
you five dollars and you go and pay that claim off. Then
you can pay me later."

So Charlie took the five dollars and he paid the man
off, but he failed to pay Father back the money. So it
looked like Father's only law suit would be one of suing
Charlie himself, instead of the other man doing it, much
to Mother's indignation.

[ 9 ]


''Look at my boots, Father," said I one morning to
Father. We had a custom, when our boots got wet to filll
them full of oats and leave them over night, on the
theory that oats would dry them out. But my boots had
a big hole in the bottom of the sole and when I picked
them up the oats all ran out on the floor through the

''Well, well, little boy," said Father. "I am afraid
you will have to get them half soled. After breakfast
you get up Ole Rock and go over to Mr. Daniels in Lytle-
ville and get them half soled. Here is fifty cents. Don't
lose it and don't pay him till the work is done and don't
dally on the way. And get a sack of corn and take it
along and get Mr. Marker to grind it for you, and stop
at Squire Stringfield's and take back his spade and don't
forget to thank him and you might pick up a few hazel-
nuts and bring them back and hurry for I want you to
help pick up potatoes."

My Father, I thought, had a real genius for keeping
a boy busy. So after breakfast away I went, sitting up
on top of a big sack of corn laid across Ole Rock's broad
back. Finley Daniels at Lytleville was a cripple who
pegged shoes. After leaving the corn at Marker's mill
on the banks of Kickapoo I went into his little slab
sided shop.

"Well, son, what do you want?" he shouted as soon
as I got in.

"Father said to get these boots half soled," I replied.

"Weil," retorted Finley. "If you sell half, what will

[ 10 ]

you do with the other half?" This was one of his pet
jokes. 'Take them off, son, and let's see them."

So, there I sat for an hour while he pegged away
on the soles. Getting weary waiting I ventured to walk
in my stocking feet over to Tant Mason's blacksmith shop.

Tant Mason was the village blacksmith. 'The mus-
cles of his brawny arms were hard as iron bands." He
was a great pot bellied, stocky man, with nerves of steel
and a tongue of brass. He had been a soldier in the
Civil War. Just before he left to go, he said to a neigh-
bor, ''Well, I got my wife a cow and some chickens and a
ham. So if she can't get along, why she will just have
to flicker." I believe she did not flicker, for she raised
a pretty good family.

In the wagon shop in a shed next door, I heard some
voices and looked in. There were about a dozen big
black-bearded giants. I think they were just overgrown
boys. Some of them were barefoot and all were playing
marbles on the dirt floor.

Ah : Those Lytlevillains as we often called them.
Most of them had come from the mountains of Kentucky
and Tennessee. They lived partly by trapping and fish-
ing and hunting. But when they really had to have some
money they came out on the prairie and worked a spell.

As I looked down the main street I could see three
church spires, for the village boasted three different
denominations at that time — Methodist, Campbellites and
the United Brethren.

And they were as a rule devout people too. The old
time revivals were very popular — when folks really got

[ 11 ]

religion — when people were swept into the Kingdom by
fervent preaching and exhortation and enthusiastic sing-
ing. I remember one song that had such a swing to it
that you could hardly keep still :

''Religion is the best of all,
Religion is the best of all,
Religion is the best of all,
I feel it in my soul.

Come along stranger. Don't you want to go
To join that blessed company that's gone on

Then, come along brother, then father — till they had
invited about the whole congregation. I suspect that the
song was of negro origin and before had been pronounced
"befo." It had a sort of umpah — umpah lilt that was
very attractive. Most of the converts, however, were sin-
cere and they really were changed in their lives and

I could see three houses that had been painted: Mr.
Marker, the miller's; Mr. Mason, the blacksmith's, and
John Ball, the grocer's. The rest were mostly what we
called slab houses and some of them had only dirt floors.

Marker's mill was a great rambling shack, three
stories high in the grist mill part. The saw mill was open
on the sides and down below was the big ramshackle
engine. Jim Marker, stoop shouldered and leisurely, ran
the saw, while Josh Scarboro kept the engine running
with slabs and sawdust. Jim would set the saw and
swedge off a big slab of bark. Then he would carry it
over to the opening and shout, ''Look out below" and

[ 12 ]

let it drop. If Josh did not look out, he got a bump from
the board, for Jim never looked to see where it was going.
The slabs would pile up till they sometimes nearly buried
the engine. Why the thing did not catch fire was a
mystery. However, it never did. But the mill and the
blacksmith shop and the churches have all disappeared
long since and Lytleville remains truly a ghost town.
Only the school house and a few houses remain.

Some of the natives came over and ''borried" five
dollars from Father, which they seldom paid back.
Mother, remembering the many places she could have
used the m^oney, used to wax very indignant at Father
for being so easy. But he just laughed and said that was
the cheapest way to dispose of them. He had them all
staved off at five dollars a head.

Our boots (not shoes) in those days had lugs on the
sides to help pull them on. In the morning there was a
great deal of noise in the house as we tugged at the
straps and finally had to kick them against the base-
board to force our feet into them. Even at that we never
had corns, nor tender feet.

They had many quaint expressions. I remember
a lady named Bibey. She came over to take dinner with
Mother. When Mother had poured the coffee, she ex-
claimed, ''Oh, Mrs. Bibey. I am so sorry, but I put sugar
in your coffee and I believe that you don't care for it."

'*No odds; no odds," replied Mrs. Bibey heartily. '*I
can eat it either way."

I have heard of ''eating tobacco" but never before
heard of "eating coffee."

[ 13 ]


Bloomington was to us *'town" and going to town
was a great event in our lives, especially if we were going
on the train in the morning. I would be so excited that I
simply could not swallow my breakfast.

At noon we sometimes went into Brown & Gray's
grocery and indulged in cheese and crackers. We re-
garded cheese and crackers as about as delectable food
as any one could possibly want. Then we sometimes went
to Gerken's bakery and got cakes. My! How good they

Bruce and I used to drive to town with a cord of
wood. We stood on the street until some one came and
bought it from us. We did not exactly sell it. They
bought it. We got five dollars a cord for split hickory
and some less for poorer wood. We were, I suppose, as
honest as any farmers (and they claim great credit for
their honesty), but we always put the round sticks in the
middle where they could not be seen. And we always
put the split side of a stick on the outside. That was noth-
ing; everybody did that.

Then we peddled apples for years. We rode up and
down the streets shouting, '^Appuls; appuls; nice eating
appuls," with the best of hucksters. The old Dutch wives
used to come out and climb up on the wagon step and ask
all in one word, ''Howmuchcostapeck?" If it was a over
a dime they did not buy. Maiden blushes, strawberry,
russett, pearmain, rambo, willowtwig, ^5heepnos^ (a
curious apple with a ridge near the stem), Jonathan — we
raised them all.


There was a doctor named Crist on East Washington
street. He had a little shack with a square boarded up
front to make it look like a store. He practiced medicine-
some but he also sold drugs. One day a man who was;
very hard of hearing came in and laid down a prescrip-
tion. The doctor filled it and the man asked, **How

"Fifty cents," shouted the doctor.

The man misundeirstood and laid down fifteen
cents and started out.

*'Hey," shouted the doctor, "I said fifty cents."

But the man did not hear and went on down the
street. But the doctor turned to a bystander and said
with a good natured grin, **Well, I made ten cents clear

Mother asked the doctor once upon a time how long
it would take to cure a cold. He replied prom^^tly, ''Three
weeks if you doctor with me, but twenty-one days if you
don't." She didn't.

My earliest recollection is when I was just a liltle
over two years. I can remember distinctly when Mother
took me to Uncle Robert's funeral. It was up at *'The
Brick." I can recall the big southeast room and the coffin
sitting on two trestles in the middle of the room. They
had set out chairs along the wall and laid planks on them
and put a quilt over them for folks to sit on. I can see
the women, some of them with heavy dark veils. And
they were crying, which puzzled me very much. I can
also recall very clearly that Mother took me over and

[ 15 ]

lifted me up to look into the casket. It had a lid of glass
extending down to his waist and I wondered where his
feet were.


However, starting to school v/as one of our first big
events. I remember when I was about six, that Bruce
took rne and I gazed about me and several times asked
him questions ''out loud" much to his embarrassment.

I seem to remember the games that we played more
clearly than what we studied. But we did study some,
too. The games were black man, shinney, Andy over,
town ball, and fox and geese when it snowed. Most of
these games seemed to require a great deal of yelling and
we entered into them with a zest sldom equalled since.

One teacher had a rule that we could come up to the
desk and get him to pronounce hard words for us. I pre-
sume I was feeling restless, for I had paraded up several
times and was getting short of words. But finally I
thought I had found a new problem. So I held up my
hand and went up to the teacher — Davidson. I pointed
to the word IT. He glanced at me sharply and asked,
''Don't you know how to pronounce that word?" I shook
my head. "How do you think it should be pronounced,"
he asked.

I replied, "don't know if it is "it" or "ut."

The teacher glared at me. "Didn't you just come up
here for an excuse to be walking?" he roared. I dumbly

[ 16 ]

nodded my head. ''Well," said he. 'Then you can just
walk up and down that aisle until recess." Which I
humbly did.

We had some nick names. Mine was "Bubble'^
till I was past ten. Dell was "Susie." Bruce was
"Lengthy," and Hugh was "Uncle Phillip" — so named by
Seth Noble for some fancied resemblance to a man in our
reader. In fact, Lucy still calls him "Phil" at times. Mary
Stewart was "Sissie." Sherman Brown was called "Mon-
key." I never knew exactly why.

Then there was a quaint boy named Dick Lucas. He
lisped a little. One day they were down at the creek and
Dick saw a board. Said he, "Here is a board. Let's
throw it in the water and see it phim." So, from that
time on he was "Fimmer Dick."

Charlie Spaid brought so many cat fishes for Us
lunch that they named him "Cattie." So he was "Cattle

There was in the neighborhood a family named
Walls. There was a lot of children which they brought
up as best they could. However the last was kind of over-
looked as to a name, so they just called him the little one.

When he became of age, behold he had no oflficial

name, so he just adopted his baby name and as long as

he lived he signed his name L. O. (Little One) Walls.

[ 17 ]

Charlie Tory, having some English in him, called
Charlie Atchison ''Hatch-ison." This, Gardner Powell
promptly expanded into ''Hatch a chicken," and as long
as I knew him he was ''Hatchie" or ''Chicken."

One Friday we had a "spell down." Gardner Powell
was lolling comfortably back against the wall with his
feet pretty well out in front of him, when suddenly he
sat down on the floor.

"Why, Gardner, can't you stand up?" asked the
teacher (good Tina Myers, I believe.)

"I could," said Gardner, "but John Clemens kicked
my feet from under me."

John was a rather unruly boy who came ffrom
**town" and the directors reluctantly allowed him to come
to school. Like "Town Tackies" he was a little patroniz-
ing of us "Country Jakes."

The teacher said, "John, take your seat."

So, John, with an impudent grin on his face started
for his seat. But he stamped his feet just as hard as he
could and made all the noise possible. When the chil-
dren tittered, the teacher said, "John, go back and walk

So, this time John walked on tiptoe, but he raised his
feet up in the air just as high as he could and he writhed
and twisted and soon the room was in a real uproar. But
the teacher took it up with the directors and they prompt-
ly expelled Mister John. They said that they did not pro-
pose to have discipline upset by an outsider. So we again
became, as usual, a very decorous school.

[ 18 ]


We had for one term a disagreeable chap named
Charlie Moore. He was uncouth and untidy and stupid.
He lived in a shack on the banks of the creek with his
father. It was said that they never made up a bed, nor
washed a dish, nor cooked a real meal, nor did anything
that might be called civilized. Certainly, they never
took a bath, nor washed themselves or their clothes.

He sat just in front of Dick Karr, and when the room
began to warm up — why he really smelled. When I say
smelled, I mean just that, for none of us were very
''finicky." We were not much given to real baths our-
selves, especially ''in the winter time," as the Jew put it.
Dick stood it for a while, but finally he said to Moore,
"More, if you intend to stay in this school, you must
wash yourself." Of course Moore did not do it. So, the
next day Dick said to him, "Moore, if you don't wash
yourself tonight I am going to run you off the place."

Next day Charlie came and had apparently done
what he thought was a wash, for he had a clean space on
his neck just above the collar. But he exuded odor, just
as bad as ever. This did not suit Dick, so he gave Charlie
some more definite instructions as to what a bath consist-
ed of and he added a lot more threats as to what he would
do if Charlie did not do it.

But next day Charlie showed no improvement.

So at recess Dick said to him, "Moore, you know
what I told you. Now I am going to give you a real scrub-
bing." So, he went calmly and got a big bucket. Then
he walked over to the pump and, followed by all the

[ 19 ]

boys, he pumped it full of water. Charlie was standing
aside, looking pretty uneasy.

Then Dick swished the broom around in the bucket
and, whirling suddenly he roared: "Now, darn you,
GIT," and he made a rush for Charlie.

Charlie gave one startled glance and away he went
just like a deer. I am prepared to swear that he cleared
a five board fence without touching it and down through
the woods he ran like a wild man. Dick was just behind
him with the broom upraised and all of us tagging along
behind, yelling like Indians. The last we saw of Charlie
was when he disappeared over the bluff at the creek, still
going like a whirlwind. So we all came back triumphant
and Dick was a hero for a time. But Charlie never show-

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Online LibraryClark Emerson StewartOn Randolph hills : personal memories--anecdotes--reminisences--and characters → online text (page 1 of 4)