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Archive for March, 2009

In those days if a couple was going to get married their parents would buy materials and hire a cabinet maker and give him a room in their home.

Now, of course, the couple will need a wedding dress and a suit and linens and so on, so the parents hire a weaver and seamstress who also moves into the house.

And then you give (the weaver) the fleece off of the sheep and you bring her in a bunch of flax that has been broken.

(To break the flax) you have to grow (it), then you bury it in the ground and the next year you dig it up again and let it dry. Then you get right up on it with your feet and stomp, and you break the flax all up. And then you can sift it out and you get rid of the stalks and you’ve just got the tow (short soft fibers) left.

Well then (the weaver) takes the tow and works it and bleaches it until it becomes some of the finest of white linen. And you use the very most beautiful for your wedding garment … and for his shirt.

Then there’s another part of the flax that you can’t use for (the wedding dress). You can’t bleach it until it’s white and nice, so you make other things out of that, such as towels and so on. They used to make a hand towel out of medium material that was so harsh you had to wash it several times before it got soft. Then they had one (kind of material) beyond that yet that was sack cloth, to be used for sacks and bags and stuff.

Then (the weaver) would take the wool and she’d bleach that and she’d spin it into thread and into yarn. Then she would weave it——she had to weave the flax into cloth too, you know——and then make it up into garments, dress, suit and wedding garments and bed linen and stuff.

Well, you bring in the cabinet maker and him a young single fella and then you bring in the weaver/seamstress and her an unmarried girl, they kind of get together sometimes. And that’s what my grandma and grandpa done. They got together and they got married too.

Still hoping you’ll go to http://www.dawncreations and take a look at my book, Footprints Under the Pines. Or you may find it on Amazon or CBC. Footprints Under the Pines may also be ordered in most bookstores including Barnes & Nobel or borrowed from the Library of Michigan.

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Lumber Boys were a happy-go-lucky bunch with hearts of gold to help in your time of need. If you needed a dollar they were ready and willing to give it to you.

But those lumber boys also liked their booze, and on any given Saturday night you could find them at the local saloon, chug’n the bottle n’ fillin’ the’r snoots. Fights occurred as regular as rain, leaving the drunken warriors with bloody noses and black eyes to tell the story of their weekly brawl.

On the other hand, if those boys were quick to drown themselves in liquor, they also “had a principle in those days. You know there is principle even among thieves, so it is said.” (Quote from Lee Donaldson, lumber boy) Marital faithfulness, especially on the part of women, was highly regarded.

And in the little town of Ellsworth there was one woman who had little regard for her reputation. She left her husband and went to live with another man.

Now it seemed that those lumber boys found the idea of this unprincipled union to be unforgivingly repugnant, so they——being the highly principled “real men” that they were——felt it was their duty to deal with the issue. They gathered horsewhips and tar and feathers and made their way to that house of sin.

Of course, before they could participate in this brave deed, the men covered themselves with white caps to conceal their identity.

Soon the errant couple came face to face with trouble. Those “real men” dragged both man and woman outside, stripped them, and beat them with horse whips. They smeared them with tar, rolled them in feathers and tied them to a pole. Then they paraded the couple through the streets of the little town of Ellsworth to broadcast the message of their sin.

“But, you see, those ‘real men’ all wore white caps so they wouldn’t be recognized, for people in that kind of business were usually ashamed of themselves.”

And it must be reported that in an unintended mishap they heated the tar too hot, and the man and woman were burned. “Not awful bad but yet is was too hot. It burned them a little; (it was) hotter than it should have been. Of course they shouldn’t have used any at all.” (Quotes by Lee Donaldson, lumber boy)

Why not go to Amazon or CBC and check out my book, Footprints Under the Pines. In the Jackson area, go to agape booksellers. And don’t forget, Footprints Under the Pines may be purchased at http://www.dawncreations.net, ordered in most bookstores or borrowed from the Library of Michigan.

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I was about 6 years old, when we moved from East Jordan Michigan to Camp 18 (in Antrim County.) At the time my father (Harry Batterbee) was having a bout with the TB bug. They did not have the knowledge or facilities to care for each case as they do now, and it was largely up to the patient to cure himself by means of proper food, fresh air and exercise——in big doses.

In my father’s case the doctor advised a move to a farm as soon as possible. And that is how I found my self riding atop a load of furniture into a country such as I had never seen. Father and I had gone on ahead with the wagon-load of furniture, leaving my mother and my two younger brothers to come along later.

It was a short trip of 15 miles or so, but on the dirt roads of that time and behind a team of horses, which was a new experience for me, the ride seemed endless. The roads were rough and the load was heavy, so we often stopped to allow the horses a rest.

While it was light, I took turns running alongside the load and riding on the seat beside my father, but when night came I grew tired and Daddy made a place for me on top of the load. I curled up and watched the woods and the stars until I fell asleep, waking at irregular intervals and wondering if we would ever get there. That jolting rumbling ride is one of my clearest memories.

I have no recollection of our arrival for I was sound asleep, but I have often wondered how my father got me down off that load without waking me. The first thing I heard was my father talking to a couple of strange men.

As I roused still more, I saw that I was in a strange house. I lay on a pallet on the floor, and the strangeness was frightening. I began to whimper and call my father.

Father came at once and assured me that we were with friends. He pointed out that he had covered me with his coat. That coat was all the assurance I needed, and I snuggled under it, feeling as safe as a baby in its mother’s arms.

Perhaps this memory gave me my intense interest in the people who settled in Northern Michigan. Often I have stood and gazed at the remains of a log cabin or perhaps just a hollow in the ground with a few rotted timbers where the cellar has been.

And in my mind they would live again——children scampering in the sun and a mother standing in the doorway shading her eyes with her hand as she tried to see her husband at work in nearby woods or field——or perhaps she was watching for him to return from a journey to some far village.

But dreams must give way for reality, and however much we use our imaginations in connection with the everyday life of those who preceded us in this wonderful part of the country, at least we can say with a surety that (these early settlers) were working with a vision in mind——a vision of rich land converted to easy tillage and a people that were free from bondage and superstition.

With them as our inspiration and God as our help, we should be able to keep both our land and our freedom.

Written by my Aunt Rosie and preserved in her book,
Pioneer Potpourri
Check it out at http://www.dawncreations.net

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