"Whooping cough is better with us. We have had the advantage of
you in fine air & sunny weather, but young Horace's eyes have not
yet recovered from the gunpowder injury. I have been unusually occupied
& have not had time for letter writing. My niece, Mrs. Blake, Rebecca
& my nephew Calvin were all ill at once. Then Charlotte thought
she would follow the fashion -- & they all applied to me for advice.
So I was quite busy administering small pills, large baths, & peculiar
food to them all for several weeks. I was perfectly well thro' the whole
of it - indeed I believe my husband thinks I am something of a vampire,
never so well pleased as when I have a victim or two laid upon their
backs, on whom I can practice the healing art."
had a soaking spring - weeks & weeks of almost unmitigated rain
- tropical in its violence - with occasionally a bright, sunshiny day.
The farmers were in despair - they could not get a chance to plant their
corn. In Springfield, close by us, where it is low, the gardens were
overflowed by the creeks, & horses & cows washed out of the
barns. I have tried to think what occupied me so much then, and upon
looking back in detail I believe a greater part of the time has been
spent in drying and brushing the children's socks, shoes & boots
or washing and ironing the lower stories of my own dresses. The consequences
of our rainy spring were disastrous to time as well as to garments."
boys were wild with making maple sugar early in the spring - there is
a fine camp directly below us. They pass much of every day in the ravine,
where they bathe in the living water, & gather water cresses &
cowslips from under the very springs as they gush from the rocks. These
woods are more like the park of an English country seat than anything
else I ever saw. There is something in the fresh society & country
& these virgin woods that excites me greatly. We have such a wealth
of wildflowers here, that garden flowers are almost a superfluity. We
actually found trascadentias growing wild on the railroad bank today.
Last year we found SIXTY VARIETIES of flowers in our ravine within half
a mile of the college. Among these are many of our eastern garden flowers
- phloxes of many & rich varieties, bee larkspurs, jonquils, lilies,
snowdrops, blue & Yellow & white violets, blue & yellow-eyed
grasses, laurustinus trees, white hawthorne now in splendid bloom, horse
chestnuts (the buckeye of Ohio), sweet williams of various shades, and
several flowering trees, both white and pink."
house is a beautiful one - the most convenient house conceivable - we
enjoy it unspeakably. The lower story is all carpeted with a green &
white carpet, the figure a grapevine. The next story is carpeted with
an autumnal brown, & the upper story for the boys has painted floors
of a bird of paradise tint, highly varnished, & they think they
are beautiful. For ventilation, warming & other conveniences, we
think there is probably not so good a house this side of the Alleghenies.
Thus far we have not had a blind nor a curtain, the blinds being in
the painter's hands, the curtain fixtures not arrived - neither have
we fastenings on our front door or knobs on our drawers or closets till
within a day or two - but then we live in Ohio, and begin to understand
perfectly how Ohio people are so contented with unfinished houses. But
the cistern and pump from the spring are both in operation now, and
the cooking is clean - the cockroaches NOT cooked in the dried applesauce."
we moved Rosa had been looking like the concentration of 40 thunder
clouds. She had been unwell, too, the fortnight before, & she always
thought she was going to die, & kept in bed, & sometimes locked
the door & would not open to me for a whole day at a time. I let
her sulk till she was tired of it at last & then came out quite
chipper & went to work again. I had learned not to care anything
about her & to let her pout and have her own way. The balance of
her time and services were worth her wages. But after our moving she
became absolutely intolerable, so one morning when I was to have seven
trustees to dinner, I borrowed a cook of a friend, and told her she
might go. It was about six in the morning. At nine she was on her way
have been occupied this past week in putting fruits of various kinds
into bottles for winter use - peaches, pears & grapes. The Ohio
people put up fruits in this way a great deal - cut them up & boil
them & put them into the bottle & seal them up while steaming,
which renders them airtight. Some people put in no sugar at all, but
some put in a little, & I put in a quarter of a pound to a pound
of fruit. I have put up two bushes of peaches & two of grapes. It
is difficult to get potatoes & almost impossible to get any other
description of vegetables, but we occasionally get a few squashes of
superior quality. We have much better meats here than ever in West Newton.
It is generally beef, but always good, and we have at last got hold
of a Quaker butter woman. We kept house a month or more without butter.
What butter we could get was always rancid because people here are in
such a hurry they don't press out all the buttermilk. The buckeyes like
it just as well if it's rancid. Chickens are delivered here at nine
shillings a dozen, and occasionally we have a taste of them. But the
eggs which we expected to find growing on trees prove to be very scarce.
I have not seen one in Yellow Springs except in a pudding and that not
day after we moved, Mr. Knapp with wife, housekeeper, four children
& two students arrived & breakfasted with us, & then proceeded
to the rooms we had just vacated, which were not even yet swept. Their
goods, which they expected to find here, did not arrive till today,
so that they have slept upon the floor, sat upon the floor, & even
written upon the floor. You will not be surprised to hear that Ohio
seems to them outside the pale of civilization, especially for one feature
of its life - the pigs roam like gentlemen and walk through the commons
Hall when they please. It is pleasant to think what healthful pork the
citizens of the West eat, for no deer lead a freer life than the live
pork. I am always reminded of the first year we were here, when water
stood so deep between the main college building and the dining hall
that boards floated on it. One day a professor (a lady) was arrested,
on her entrance to the hall, by a hog of unusual dimensions, which had
made his watery bed where a doorstop should have been. She looked at
it in dismay a moment, and then, being light of foot, tripped over it
as if it had been a bridge.
Ohio people take things mighty easily. They do not exactly live out
of doors as people in Cuba do, but is next to that. I do not think you
ever imagined the profundity of their ignorance. One old gentleman,
who was an itinerant preacher, brought two of his daughters to him,
saying they were afraid to be left at home alone since the death of
their mother. He said, 'the college was as cheap a place as any other,
and girls were not of much account anyway.' The girls were as uncultured
as one might expect from such a view of the subject. They conversed
in the precise phraseology of Aunt Dinah in UNCLE TOM'S CABIN, which
Mr. Mann know till then to be the vernacular of the West as well as
of the South."
boys' amusements are going to the neighboring limekiln, climbing about
these new buildings, plunging into the ravine & making rafts there,
& such boyish sports. Young Horace had the remarkable facility yesterday
of slight shock to me and to his father from an electrical machine he
built himself. You would have smiled to see his eyes shine when he made
me jump, thought it was a shock that would not have much wounded the
feelings of a very small mouse. Benjie is at present bent upon fishing,
for which sport I make him bags, which he suspends at the end of a stick,
and with a wire hoop string hopes to catch some stray victims. I thought
that a pleasanter mode for the fish than angling, taking in all chances
of escape. George is absorbed today in making me a machine for winding
thread and silk. He is entirely in favor of saving labor. He has described
his contrivance to me several times, to ascertain if I thought a certain
crank would make a certain thing turn, but as I cannot follow his plan,
I cannot judge and have been obliged to let him try his experiment."
hope to induce Mr. Craig to come here and settle over this village parish.
It is the custom here if a minister passes through town at any time
in the week to ring some church bell & have a meeting - catch him
when you can is the idea. It is not the fashion here to make parties.
It is not convenient in log cabins, & when people move from them
into houses, they keep open doors, but rarely have reunions. It is a
favorite mode of mine of doing up the business all at once & make
a pleasant occasion of it, and my parties always give great satisfaction,
for I do not make them formal, or give people too much to eat, so that
they forget to be agreeable. There is a nice baker in town who makes
very good cake, and I hope other people will follow my example &
be a little bit more social. "