Sumner F. (Sumner Franklin) Claflin.

Variety from a canvasser's note book online

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Jacob's Well. Gee Big School House. Sally
Ann and the Feather Bed Hobbs of Wolfeboro.
J. B. Collins and the Firemen's Muster.

There many things in old Rockingham county that are
worthy of mention in these unworthy "rambles." Things
which I can do scant justice to in my meteoric flights.
There is a dehghtful locaUty up in back of Gee Big school
house in Newmarket, where the winding road curves over
a little hill-top in front of an ancient farm dwelling; ''now
Jacob's well is there," and it stands close by the road-side
with an inviting cup and a cool oaken bucket that dscends
into the deep waters, where one's face looks back at him in
the strong light of a hot summer noon-tide, ''and Jacob
(Burley) drank thereof and his children," so I am told.

Speaking of Gee Big school house, reminds me that
there are several such in this county, being so named by
drivers on the roads who make a "big gee" at these points'
or a sharp curve gee-ward — hence the name.

I met a pleasant middle-aged lady near North Salem,
who told me a little reminiscence about a maiden aunt of
hers, who lived far enough up the state so as not to see the
Gazette too often, named Sally Ann or something,and she
had a great longing for a certain feather bed belonging to
the deponent, when she lived in the same quiet village.
"Fred and I had just got married," said she, "and gone to
keeping house, and I had that feather bed lying in state in
the best room, and one day I took a notion to go up home
to Vermont and see my mother. Fred was away at work.
I had scarcely closed up the house and got out of town,
when Sally Ann came over, hunted up the key, where I


had left it and went in. Bime-by out she comes with
my identical feather bed slung over her crooked back, and
hobbles off home with it, and the neighbors a lookin'
through the blinds, took it all in, you bet. Fred never
missed a thing, and I was gone a week, but the first thing,
when I stepped foot in the house I knew something
was wrong, and I wasn't long in finding out what. Over
I goes to Mrs. Smith's, and says I, 'was there anyone 'round
while I was gone.?' and says she, 'only your Aunt Sallie
Ann,' says she, ' but don't you say a word about my telling of
you,' says she, and says I, 'she took that best feather bed
of mine,' says I, 'and she'll fetch it back again or I'll know
the reason why,' and v/ith that I put on my bonnet, and
down to Squire Abbott's I went, and I told him all about it
and he set and chewed a toothpick and looked over towards
the horse sheds 'till I got through, and then he looked up
and said he, ' Abagail, Sally Ann will have the job o' lug-
gin' that bed right back and puttin' it where she got it, I'm
thinkin',' and, by gracious, she had to, but wasn't she mad,
though' And she didn't speak to me for more than a year
after that."

I sometimes get hold of an agricultural item of value
to my readers, and hence mention the fact that Smith A.
Rowell of Sandown finds it profitable to use hard wood
ashes as dressing for grass land. He received a quantity
from Canada in '96 at $11 a ton of a firm that makes a bus-
iness of dealing in it. He put it on after disposing of a con-
siderable part of the lot to neighbors, at the rate of
three tons to the acre. Deducting the amount of hay the
land previously was yielding, he has already received six
tons extra hay and will get some second crop this season
from the use of the ashes, and the effects will continue to be
felt for years to come. Mr. Rowell naturally recommends
wood ashes to others who have not tried them.

Among my acquaintances at Wolfeboro is Frank P.
Hobbs, for years postmaster there, and a hustling business


man. Down at Kingston Plains is a drummer for carriages
built there, named Frank Tucker, and somewhat of a hust-
ler himself. One day an order was received from Hobbs of
Wolfeboro for a bill of goods, and as he was a new customer,
the telephone was called into requisition, and the Wolfe-
boro postmaster (Hobbs) was inquired of as to the reputa-
tion of Hobbs, the stable keeper. Hobbs, the postmaster,
modestly replied that as Hobbs the stable keeper were one
and the same, perhaps they had better ring up the local
bank for further information — and then apologies were in
order, but Hobbs would not hear of any. "Business is
business," said he, ''and every man must look out for his
own," which is verily so.

I called on my genial friend, rather our genial friend,
for I know he is genial to every one — J. B. Collins of Brent-
wood Corner, not long since, and found him active and
hearty as ever, in spite of more than sixty years — sixty-five
years, I think, of active life. One morning in September
last, there w^as to be a gathering of the veteran firemen of
Haverhill, Mass., eighteen miles away, at eight o'clock, and
Joe, finding the transportation arrangements unhandy, got
up at three o'clock and walked the entire distance, training
with the boys in the exhibition of the day. At five p. m.,
the exhibition being over, Joe bid his companions good-bye
and proceeded to return to Brentwood the same way he
came, ariving about ten o'clock — Tired! Well, Joe does
not say for publication just when he got up the next morn-
ing, but I doubt if another sixty-five-year-old in Rocking-
ham county could have done it any more gracefully than
he did.



What the Election did. Mr. Pike's Flint Lock.
A Day at Cotton Valley. My "Greek" Room-

The year has rolled around again, as it has a habit of
doing, and Little Pitchers, Esq., is on deck again. A lot of
things have happened to the said Pitchers since last we
met, and yet, so far as can be seen, he is but little the
worse for wear. It is astonishing how much some people
can go through and not show it. A friend of mine had
fifty thousand dollars left to him; he went through the
whole of it and now he hasn't a cent to show for it, but he
has salted a large mess of experience,

The elections, which occurred last week, are generally
satisfactory. The republicans are satisfied, because the
predicted slump didn't begin to decently bury them, as a
well-regulated political landslide would have done. The Dem-
ocrats are crowing over gains in unexpected places; while
Little Pitchers' party put a couple of representatives into the
Massachusetts state legislature from the city of Haverhill.
Perhaps some one inquires : What in creation is your party,
any way ? Oh, it is a little party of the workingmen who
don't vote for capitalists and capitalists' tools to represent
them. They are odd chickens, but they have got some
representatives into the legislature of Massachusetts now,
and I expect things will begin to hum soon.

When I stopped at John C.Pike's last week the subject
of the recent distressful war came 'up, and John and I ag-
greed that Uncle Sam would make a mistake if he takes
Spain's ''Phillipene." I'm afraid Uncle Sam is getting
reckless of late, but I hope for the best. Mr. Pike showed


me a little gun, about six feet long, with the old regulation
flint lock and primer, brought to Brookfield by his great-
great-grandfather — beg pardon, this is a better one than that
because the one that the original Pike brought, he swapped
with an Indian down in Maine, and of course the Indian
got the worst of it, for no Yankee was ever known to let an
Indian get the best end of a trade. This gun, in the hands
of successive generations of Pikes, attended most of the tur-
key-shoots for miles around, 'till its reputation for destruc-
tiveness became so great, that it was ruled out. It is still
destructive, but has become too much of a kicker to suit the
modern sportsman. Mr. Pike also showed me an ancient
surveyor's compass, made and used by Judge Whitehouse
of Farmington, who laid out the railroad through this sec-
tion of the country. It was a remarkably accurate instru-
ment, as were all those made by Judge Whitehouse.

My day at Cotton Valley was enlivened by the first
snow storm of the season. The day previous had been one
of those elegant autumnal days whose tomorrow is so de-
lightfully uncertain. In company with ex-representative
W. A. Bixby, I started out to make the round in a fine
snow fall, which increased in violence until our last call, away
upon Cotton mountain, were the wind blew a hurricane laden
with loads of cutting snow. It was a distinct relief when
the train took us in for the six miles to Wolfeboro. At
South Wolfeboro, the day I was there, was solemnized
by the burial of an aged widow in Israel, named Deland,
nearly ninety-one years old. The service was conducted by
Elder Wiggin of Mirror Lake, who preached here many
years during his active ministry. He is in his seventy-third
year now, I believe. The thing of most importance at
South Wolfeboro is the starting up of the Springfield wool-
en mill, that has been shut down for months owing to the
wave of prosperity that has been gladdening the land.
The scoffer can't say now that the only mill we've started
is the ''mill" with Spain. No, siree !



In the hotel where I stopped recently in the back bay-
district, I was informed, on retiring, that another guest
would occupy the room with me — a Greek from ancient
Athens, or somewhere in that neighborhood, who vv^as attrac-
ted by the high wages paid in running a ten-men's-labor-sav-
ing machine by that magnanimous firm of philanthropists,
Spaulding & Swett, and had come over here to make a liv-
ing. At first I thought I wouldn't sleep with the pesky for-
eigner, that was skinning American labor, in spite of all
Spaulding & Swett could do, but then I thought better of
it, and when, later on, a guest came into the room and
poked around for the light, I concluded it was he, and ex-
plained my presence in the room, but it proved to be a
Yankee from Drake's Corner, who, by way of explaination
told me, that the Indian I had seen in the kitchen with his
little, black-eyed dusky-hued boy was waiting for him to
come down and pay him for sawing a cord of wood, and he
was waiting for the Indian to get tired of waiting and go off,
hence the intrusion. This gave rise to a flood of reflec-
tions, the subject of which was, that the Indian was entire-
ly out of character in sawing up that wood, and the white
man was living up to his traditions in withholding pay for
same. Indians, Spaniards and niggers are entitled to what
they can get in a free countrv.



They had a big meet

Of the fur-wearing tribe,

It occurred near the " Bear Camp "

A little this side.

Old bruin presided

And stated the aim

Of the fur wearers' union

Was protection of game.

He averred 'twas a crime

That ought to be stopped

To badger poor rabbits

Wherever they hopped.

That dogs were a nuisance

(To that I agree)

Guns, traps and the like

All abolished should be.

There's the mink and the muskrat,

The fox and the deer,

All dodging rude hunters,

All hiding in fear.

Then up spoke .the hedgehog.

All bristUng like sin.

His quills standing straight

As a fish's back fin,

" I wish you'd explain

Why a harmless four-legger,

Like me should be hunted

And chased like a begger ?

Time was when I nibbled

The old apple tree,

In peace and contentment,

Fearless and care free.

They don't want my * hair '

And they don't want my hide,

I've nothing that's useful

Either in or outside.

But they dog me by day,

And they trap me by night,

They hang on my trail



And they shoot me on sight.

Whatever their object

I leave it to you,

Now what is a poor

Harmless hedgehog to do ? "

Up spoke the fleet deer

That lives by the sea,

Where a law all the year

Protects, him, you see :

" What you want, brother hodgehog,

Is friends of some note

Who will stand ty your interests

By voice and by vote.

Get a law passed at Concord

And rivited strong

That quills on 'game' hedgehogs

Must be ten inches long.

Whoever shoots hedgehogs

Under thirteen years old

Must pay to the warden

Ten dollars in gold.

That in towns of one thousand

Less than seventeen miles square

One hog may be shot

For each ten that are there.

No mistake can be made

Between hedgehog and coon,

And the game must be bagged

On the full of the moon.

Whoever the law does break or crack.

Should be fined fifty dollars

And put on the rack.

If you think such a law

Our wise Solons won't pass

You never have studied

The curves of their class.

If the whip swing with vigor

They all fall in line

A few set the measure,

The others keep time.

Asleep at their benches,

They all could be 'strung'

To vote for a law

That would have them all hung! "


The fur-wearers' union,
Im' sorry to state,
Has gone and disbanded,
They're left to their fate.
Like others I know of
Who just let her whiz,
They leave politics to others,
In " minding their biz."
And I wouldn't feel sorry
If the time should arrive,
When the hunters of quarry
Should skin them alive.




The Silent Majority and the Spiel of the Dreamy
Boarder. Goods marked too high to steal.

Well, brethren, Little Pitchers has been trudging up
and down the country-side from Dan to Beersheba, and from
Wolfeboro Falls to Ossipee Pocket, during the past week,
and as usual, his big ears have heard much — more than I
can remember.

At Dimond's corner I became aware that my old friend
Langley was no more, while one or two more, v/hom I met
last year, had passed to the silent majority. How that ma-


jority is growing ! We got to speaking about this subject
over to the boarding house the other day, and the dreamy
looking boarder from Boston remarked that we were con-
tinually passing from life to death, and from death to life

''Huh," said Mr. Meacham interogatively, ''you mean
to say that dead folks come back again ? "

"I certainly do, Mr. Meacham," said the dreamy one
with great emphasis for him. "Now, I have known men
who have been on this earth no less than from eighty to one
hundred times, and also on other planets, such as Jupiter,
Saturn, Mars and others that our scientists have not yet
discovered. Of course, they cannot always remember just
who they were during their former incarnations, but they
remember enough to prove the genuineness of their asser-

Dreamy stopped and Mr. Meacham remarked that he
"didn't doubt that their assertions were genuine enough,
as that was all their was to 'em, any way."

Dreamy, without appearing to notice the interniption,
went on. "Now I, myself, was living here away back in
the days of Pharo' Necho, and I was one of the attendants
at court when that Hebrew, Moses, came before the king
and demanded of him to let the Israelites go. It was a
wonderful scene, and calculated to cause one's hair to stand
on end, when Moses threw down his staff and it became a
squirming serpent. I tell you the old king couldn't stand
everything, and when the plagues of flies, frogs and
grasshoppers, snakes and death, ten of them, I think, had
come, and Moses still held the whiphand high ready to
strike again, Pharo' was glad to give in. Yes, I was drown-
ed in the Red sea that time chnging to Pharo's chariot
wheel. Another time I was private secretary to Ghangis
Kahn when he broke into Europe and carried everything
before hirn. Those were horrible times, suice enough. I
have been incarnated as a female seven times in all. Once


I was a Greek slave girl, and that time I was killed because
I refused to yield to the lust of an Athenian despot. The
last time I remember very distinctly of being on earth, was
during the Salem witch persecutions about two hundred
years ago. I had unfortunately lived a maiden life, and be-
comming old and bent, and somewhat broken in mind and
health, the town authorities, who feared that I might cost
them something, preferred charges against me as a witch,
and Cotton Mather and his precious flock of guardian angels
swore they had seen me soaring over Salem hill on a broom-
stick and wearing a peeked bonnet night after night. Farm-
ers were positive that their cows gave bloody milk because
of my nightly incantations, and Mistress Dunnington, the
doctor's wife, swore against me that she knew I was re-
sponsible for an epidemic of the mumps, and another of
canker rash that had gone through the community. I re-
member now how I felt when they tied me to a stake in the
yard of execution, and the people gathered around us as near
as the beadle would let them, with awe-stricken faces,
while old Cotton Mather very cheerfully commended me to
the devil. It was quite a roast I got that time. Will you
please pass the turnips, Mrs. Meacham.?"

Mr. Jordan, who is working on the ice house over at
Dundee, had been staring at Dreamy with eyes and mouth
wide open, forgetting to fill the latter and go on chewing as
a christian should, and now he nudged Mr. Meacham and
whispered audibly, ''D'ye beUeve that is all so that he's
givin' us.? "But before Mr. Meacham could reply. Dreamy
broke out again.

**Now there are many folks who are unaware that these
things are true. You will be surprised when I tell you that
our benign landlady, Mrs. Meacham, i.^ none other than the
famous Queen of Sheba, who visited King Solomon wkh a
vast retinue and a million dollars worth of presents. I rec-
ognized her as soon as I set eyes on her. You see I w%s
there as a representative of the school of the prophets loca-
ted up near Mount Ephraim, and "


"Taint no sech thing," put in Mrs. Meacham, "my folks
is good respectable people from Nova Scotia, an' they al-
ways lived there to a place called Milhken's Bend, and if I
aint mightily mistaken, Mr. Philosopist, or whatever you
call yourself, you're that good-for-nothing Jim Smead that
went off to Boston to learn dentistry 'cause you and hard
work never could agree. Greek girl, indeed ! Don't I re-
member when you tried to elope with Jim Davis' wife,
and the men folks formed a posse for to run ye out of

At this point Smead (if that was his name) arose with
an air of great dignity and got out of the circle surrounding
the board, while Mr. Meacham closed the incident by saying
that in his opinion "It is better not to know so darned
much, than to know so much that aint so."

I like to see a man who frankly admits that, so far as he
has any pcsitive knowledge, this is his first and only appear-
ance upon the globe on which we live.

At East Wakefield Depot I met an- old gentleman well
known to many of your readers, James W. Hill, who refer-
ed to an item in Little Pitchers' notes of two years ago, re-
lating to an ancient document posted in E, P. Allen's hotel
at Ossipee, being a reward offered for the arrest of one
Paul, who broke into a store at Ossipee and stole sundry
and certain goods and made of with them. At the time I
asked if any one knew the sequel, and Mr. Hill informed me
that he was present at the trial of the thief at Wakefield
Corner, as he was speedily captured and convicted. Mr.
Paul threw himself on the mercy of the court, and explained
that the reason he didn't take any more goods was, they
were marked so high he didn't believe he could sell them !

But there are new traders at Ossipee Corner now.



Looking down the Merrimack Valley upon a hazy August day, in 1890,

I saw, but yesterday, in the misty distance,

A brick-built city lymg 'neath the sun,
So still, no sound against the air's resistance

Was flung to me from out its ceaseles hum.

Weird clouds were drifting in the air of August
Athwart the valley from far Francestown;

And in the north, beyond the ''smiling water,"

The white hills loomed like ghosts, my vision's bound.

This piece of earth, this vale in fair New Hampshire,

Lay like a picture in a sky-girt frame;
I thanked my God for the sweet gift of seeing

A vale so beautiful of all His grand domain.

I thanked Him ; then, from higher hills of Beulah

God raised my vision to a city fair.
A heavenly city, but filmy clouds were drifting ;

I only glimpsed the glories waiting there.



The young man and the squirrel. Steve Jen-
ness, the wrestler. Roland Park. Friend Thurs-
ton and his yarns on how to gain credit. Uncle
Joe and his cheap house.

After a nice warm breakfast at the hospitable private
boarding house at Sanbornville, where I spent Sunday, I
walked down the track a quarter of a mile and climbed into
the freight buggy. I found there, among others, an elderly
gent from Rochester who owns a large apple orchard and
hay farm up among the Ossipee mountains, and he proved
to be quite a prize to destroy the tediousness of a passage
by freight. Among the stories he told was one of a young
man who was up in Tamworth visiting his uncle, and one
day got a gray squirrel treed out back of the barn and had
tried twice to knock the animal out with his uncle's old
queen's arm, but without success. Just then the old gent
himself appeared and said *' Let yerold uncle show ye how to
dft it." And he proceeded deliberately and with shaky hands
to load and prime the gun and then raised it slowly and with
with many tremulous jerks to a level with his eye. The
muzzle wabbled fearfully, but some how or other, the squir-
rel was blown plumb out of the tree. "Thar," said the old
man exultingly, "didn't I tell ye, I'd show ye how to do it?"
"Oh, well, uncle," said the young man disgustedly, "you
couldn't help doing it, you shot all over the tree."

Among the others in the buggy was Stephen Jenness,
who thirty years ago lived in Tamworth and enjoyed a rep-
utation as a wrestler (which hangs to him still), but there
was one, Rosco Greene, who thought his reputation was un-
deserved, and one town meeting day he and his friends, who


had put up some money on the result, proceeded to nag-
Steve to wrestle. Steve wasn't feeling like wresthng and
held off for some time, but nothing would satisfy Greene
but atrial of strength. *' We took back holt," said Mr. Jen-
ness, "and a minute or two afterwards Greene came down
heavily on his neck and shoulders on the ice and snow, and
when they picked him up his shoulder was broken. The
worst of it was, the fellows who were backing him up left
him to get out of it the best way he could, and I went and
got a doctor for him. He was well satisfied that he had got
enough, and no one blamed me in the least." Such bouts
were more common at town meetings then than now.

Our Rochester friend told about two fellows out fishing on
Dan Hole pond, or some other old hole, when the boat
capsized and the two fellows went in. Parties on the shore
started to the rescue, when a wild-eyed man came running
down the hill shouting, " Save the red headed man ! Save
the red headed man ! " After both had been duly saved
some one with a bump of curiosity inquired of the anxious
man why he specially wanted the red headed man saved.
'/ Oh, nothing special." ''Yes, but you must have had some
reason," it was pressed. ''Well, you see, the red headed
man owed me a dollar and eighty cents."

From Moultonville I went out to Roland Park, estab-
lished about three years ago, overlooking the Dan Hole
ponds, the vale of Canaan, and just at the foot of the grand
old Ossipee mountains, around which I made my way dur-
ing the week. Considerable improvements have already
been made and more are under way here.

Thankgiving day found me at Bearcamp pond, where
Edmund Vitum accommodates fishing parties during the
summer. Mr. Vitum took me over to Tamworth and about
noon I happened in on B. F. Abbott near the foot of Choco-
rua and found a fine Thanksgiving dinner waiting for me,
part of which — the cranberries — came from the top of Cho-
corua, where they grow small but of a dehcious flavor.



My friend Thurston, who sells the Waterville, Me.,
make of stoves, and has put out ten thousand dollars' worth
in this vicinity in two years, told me of an old gentleman
named John Reed, who lived on a farm a few miles out from
Damariscotta, Me., whose credit was not any better than the
law allows, where he was best known. The old chap went
into a harness shop in Damariscotta one day and insisted
that he had bought a halter there two years before, for
which he got trusted, and he had now come in to pay for it.
A diligent search of the books failed to bring the item to

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