Friday, December 30, 2005

The Power of a Song - Ira Joy Stoddard, missionary in India

written by Edith Whitney Whitson, granddaughter of Ira Joy Stoddard

This story is called “The Power of a Song”, because in it I shall tell you how by singing a song my grandfather had a chance to tell a tribe of wild people about the love of Jesus for them.

These people lived in the Garo Hills. In the northern part of India are some very high mountains, called the Himalayas. Before you get to these mountains, you reach some that are not as high. These are called “The Foothills”. Some of these foothills are called “The Garo Hills”. My grandfather had heard about the people who lived there, they were called the Garo Tribes. There are many tribes among them called by different names. The tribe that Grandpa was interested in was called “The Nagas”. All the Garos were head hunters but the Nagas were the worst of them all. But they thought they were the best. Every night they went down into the valley and cut off people’s heads and took them home and hung them on their houses. The man who had the most heads on his house was considered the bravest and most important man in the tribe and so was called the chief. Of course this was very wicked; to cut off people’s heads, but the Nagas and all the other Garos were so ignorant that they did not know that they were wicked. When people are wicked and do not know that they are wicked, it is hard to teach them to do better. My grandfather thought, “If I can tell them about Jesus and how much he loves them, perhaps they will want to give up their wicked ways. But how can I get a chance to tell them about Jesus’ way of living and Eternal Life?”

My Grandfather had heard that the Nagas were musical people. They loved to sing and they loved to listen to other people sing. My Grandfather had a good voice and loved to sing God’s praises and people liked to hear him sing. One day he got on his horse and rode up near the hills where the Nagas lived. He tied his horse to a tree and walked slowly toward their village, singing as he went. This is what he sang: “Ek huka tona so dur dur annoy” (This meant: “There is a happy land far, far away). “Jo rodda lok tok tay dimdip de moy” – “Where saints in glory stand bright, bright as day.”

He walked on singing all the verses of the song in Assamese. The Garo had no written language of their own but they talked a language somewhat like the Assamese language and Grandpa hoped they would understand what he sang.

As Grandfather walked along, singing, he heard a rustling in the bushes, and he knew that there were people there listening to him singing. But he did not say anything to them or let them know that he heard them. Although they were warlike people and cut off their enemies heads, they were timid and afraid of anything that they did not understand. So walked right up to the edge of their village singing the hymn all the way and he turned around and walked back to the place where he had tied his horse, still singing, got on his horse and rode home.

The next day, Grandfather again went to the foothills and sang his song. Again on this day he heard the bushes rustling and he knew there were people listening to him sing. But they did not let him see them. So again he went home without speaking to them. On the third day Grandfather did the same thing. This time, he caught a glimpse of some of the people and heard them whispering to each other. But they did not come out of the weeds where he could see them clearly, so he went home again. On the fourth and fifth days the same thing happened. On the sixth day, just as Grandfather started to sing “Ek huka tone sa –“ a man came out of the bushes toward him. Grandfather stopped singing and waited for the man to come closer to him. But when the man saw Grandfather watching him, he was frightened and ran away.

Then all the other men rushed out of the bushes and ran to their village. Grandfather went home again wondering if be would ever get a chance to talk to the people or the Naga village.

The seventh time that Grandfather came back to the foothills, he had no sooner started to sing "There is a Happy Land" when a crowd of men rushed out of the bushes toward him. Now what were they going to do? These men were head hunters, were they going to kill Grandfather and hang his head on one of their houses? Should he have heeded the advice of the other missionaries and the British Government to stay away from these people? But Grandfather was a very brave man. Although he wondered it he was safe, he kept on walking and singing, “There is a happy land." The men crowded around him and blocked his way so that he could not walk any further; so he stood still and continued singing and the Garo men stood still too and did not say a word until he finished his song. Grandfather could see that they were very excited and had something to say, but either they were so fond of music that they liked to hear the song or they were polite.

As soon as Grandfather had finished his song, one of the Gara men said, "Bwama, where is this Happy Land, tell us how to get there. We want to go there.” Then they all started talking at once, asking questions: 'Where is it?" "How long will it take to get there?" "We want to see this beautiful place." “When can we go there?"

When the excitement died down a little so that Grandfather could be heard, he told them about the Happy Land and how to get there. If he told me the exact words he used to these people, I have forgotten what they were, but I think He said something like this: "The Happy Land is the home of God who is the great father of us all. He is our Father and his is sorry when we do wrong things and treat other people unkindly. He is our Father. He is the Father of everybody, so everybody is our brother or sister in God; so it makes God fell badly when we are unkind to our brothers and sisters. So it does not please God when you make war on other people and bring their heads home to hang .on your houses. You would not do that to your own brother who is the son of your father here on earth. It is wrong to do it to your brother in another tribe who is on earth who is the son of your Father who is in heaven which we call “The Happy Land.”

I think perhaps that is all Grandfather told them that day. Perhaps he told it to them over and over again. You must remember that these people had never heard before about God or Jesus and they did not understand everything that Grandfather said about them. So they asked lots of questions and sometimes they asked the same question over and over again, just as you ask your parents the same question over and over again. Perhaps after awhile Grandfather started asking them questions to see how much they had understood of what he had told them; just as your mother or father ask you questions when you have been asking the same one too many times.

After awhile Grandfather said that he had to go home for that day. They all begged him not to go home but to come and stay with them so that he could tell them more about God and "His Happy Land" late into the night and begin again early ln the morning. They wanted to hear more; much more about it. But Grandfather told them that he would not spend the night with them, because they were known to be very bad people and not to be trusted, if he did not come home that night, the British government, under whom his missionary work was done, would send out soldiers to see what had become of him. That would make trouble for the Naga people. When Grandfather had asked the British government for permission to go the Hills to preach, he had been told "Absolutely no" at first. The government had planned to send troops of soldiers in there to kill off all the

people because they were so bad. Grandfather had begged them to give him a chance to convert the Nagas, because he knew that with God all things were possible, and he believed that all people had a right to hear about God and Jesus so as to have the chance to make their lives better – a chance to live “The Jesus Way”, as they called being converted and trying to live as Christians should.

So finally after much argument the government said that Grandfather could have two years time in which to try to convert these people. Nobody thought that it could be done - not the British Government, not the other missionaries, not the natives that had already been converted. But my Grandfather had great faith in God’s ability to do everything and he knew that God had told him to go and preach to those people. So Grandfather did something that no other missionary bad dared to do. He went up to the "Foothills" and preached to the headhunters. In telling me about it, Grandfather said that God I had performed a miracle in giving him the chance to talk to these people. That was true, but If Grandfather had not been brave, if he had not gone up to the "Foothills" when God told him to, if he had not made use of the gift, that gift of being able to sing, then God could not have performed this miracle - could not have given him a chance to lead these people to God and a better way of living. So Grandfather walked back to where be bad left his horse and rode home. The next morning he went back as he had promised he would, and many other mornings he went back and talked to them about God and the right way to live. He talked to them, sang to them, and taught them to read so that they could read the bible and learn for themselves about God and teach it to their children. But first Grandfather had to write the Gospels in their own language. As I told you before, they had no written language of their own. What they talked sounded much like the Assamese language but was a little different; so Grandfather had to do a lot of hard work to take the Assamese written word and change it into words that the Garo people could understand.

Are you wondering what Grandfather said to these people when he went back there the next day? I think they came to meet him, asking him the same questions. They asked, “Bwama, tell us more about this Happy Land". "When can we go there?" “How long will it take to get there?" I think Grandfather told them, “You can not go there until God sends for you. You must live the way God wants you to and never forget and go back to your wicked life." Grandpa went on preaching to and teaching these people for a long time. Then he had to go away to some other work. He wanted to stay right there and continue to teach these people but the Mission Board said they had other work for him to do. He had trained one of the smartest of the young men of the village to teach and preach and so he left the work in his hands. My Grandfather did not go back to the Naga village for two years. Then he went back to visit them. As he drew near, he started to sing, "Ek huka tona Sa.” The people came running out of their houses, calling, "The Bwama has come back." Grandfather looked around the village and asked, "Why is everything so different?'. "When I was here before you had human heads hanging on your houses; your streets were dirty; now you have a church building; your streets are clean; the heads are gone. What does it mean?” “Oh, Bwama,” they said, "We built the church ourselves so that we could have a quiet place in which to worship the true God. As for the heads, don't you understand? We are living the "Jesus life” now and we have put out of our lives everything that had to do with our old wicked life. Everybody in our village is living the "Jesus life." Instead of hunting heads now we spend out time teaching the people of the other villages “The way of Life ."

In telling me about it, my Grandfather said, "Do people in this civilized land of the United States of America do as well as that when they are converted to "The Jesus way of life?” Do they give up everything that makes them think: of their old wicked life before they took Jesus for their personal savoir?"

This my grandchildren is the story my Grandfather told me of how he had the opportunity to save people for God and Jesus because be obeyed God' s call in the first place and then made use of a gift God bad given to him - that is - the ability to sing.

Once Upon a Christmas

written by: Bertha Smith Whitson Barrett (written Xmas 1989)

This will be the best Christmas we have ever had. It has to be because it always is. I heard my mother say so every year. It was she who protested that she didn't want a present; she just wanted us all to be together and to love one another. It was she who feared, that seasonal frenzy would overshadow eternal truths. She was afraid that we might get so caught up in the excitement of giving and getting that we would ignore "the true meaning of Christmas," which was that it was the birthday of Jesus, the Savior of the world.

Getting ready for Christmas was the most exciting time of the year in those rural times. As Warren County, Iowa, was tilted ever so gradually farther and farther away from the sun, the days shortened and our pace on the farm quickened; we had less time to do everything. First light for milking came later each morning, so in winter we had to milk by light of the kerosene lantern both in morning and again in the crisp, fast-falling dusk of the afternoon. There was no farmyard dawdling in December; the temperature dropped quickly. Stove wood was carried in a near run from the woodlot to the big box beside the kitchen stove. The handful of daylight we bad was packed; feeding chickens and hogs, gathering eggs, carrying water to the hogs and chickens, turning on the windmill to fill the cattle water tank, in cold weather, breaking the ice on the tank several times a day or thawing ice in the animal water pans with hot water. Mama along with the other ladies of the community crammed into their schedules the added excitement of cooking and baking: and preparing season delicacies. They obviously enjoyed it and their attitude increased the peaking anticipation in us children.

The fruitcake was made first, and the women always liked to have that one, with its richness of nuts and citron, pineapple, cherries and raisons, out of the way before Thanksgiving so that it would season. It was kept in a tightly lidded can, and twice a week most women doused the fruitcake with wine. Mama being a teetotaler used some
fruit juice, orange maybe. Our neighbor, Mrs. Spear, a tee-totaling Presbyterian used Blackberry wine that she made herself; because my mother explained when I asked that most people did not consider pouring a little wine over fruitcake a sin as drinking liquor would be. How could anything be a sin which tasted so good? By Christmas day the cake weighed considerably more than when it came from the oven. Mrs. Spear could slice the cake so thin that the light glowed through the cherries, pineapple and citron as beautifully as through medieval stained glass.

There were other cakes at Christmas time. I remember spice cake, sour cream cake, and sunshine cake. Cake was baked in what was called a moderate oven. The thermometer on the wood burning stove was inaccurate, so Mama slipped broom straw in and out of the cake batter to tell when the cake was done. Woe-betide anyone who ran through the kitchen with jarring tread and raised the threat of making the cake fall.
We, also, had Christmas cookies which were sugar cookies cut in the shape of stars of Christmas trees and frosted with red or green frosting.

Just as important as the cooking, was the Christmas tree. Though wreaths were fashioned and hung on doors and a small creche’ was set on top of the piano, the tree

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was the focus of decoration. We needed a lot of help with it, but Mary Alice and I were made to feel that it was ours, from getting it, to decorating it. We always wanted to put
it up early; Mama tried to delay us as nearly as possible until a week before Christmas. "It'll dry out and needles will be all over the parlor. It might even catch fire."

When she could withstand our pleas no longer, we went and got the tree. Papa would tie the horses in a cedar grove and lift us out of the wagon one at a time, and we would struggle through briars, and winter brown weeds in selection of our tree. It had to be just right. Papa had the final decision, but he was a master arbitrator and first listened indulgently to all opinions. The parlor had a twelve foot ceiling and the tree had to be tall and yet bushy and well shaped. When the practiced eye of my father finally found the one that would do for that year. We were ordered to stand back while he took the axe to it. Then he shouldered it and we trailed him back to the wagon. The trip home was wonderful. We sat among the bouncing branches of the tree like so many bundled-up birds, and the wagon rode smoother, the excitement of procuring the tree intensified by the fragrance of the boughs.

There is nothing that can so suddenly darken a room and fill it with enchantment as putting a thickly branched cedar in the corner. The room, even with its familiar furniture, and the same pictures on the wall was transformed into a grotto of incredible mystery. There was seldom any project to match the way we dressed and adorned the
tree. We hung it with strings of popcorn and cranberries. We looped garlands of multicolored paper chains around it. We attached to its branches nuts covered with tin foil that we bad carefully peeled; from the paper in Mr. Dye's Sir Walter Raleigh Tobacco tins. Mr. Dye was a neighbor with two girls so few years older than I, who saved foil all year to decorate their tree and sometimes gave us the surplus in exchange for walnuts which grew in our yard.

Then Mama brought down the box of ornaments. There were glittering spun-glass balls, some of them with hand-blown indented sunsets or delicate spines. They were red and green and gold and blue and silver and they were handed down from distant days. To us, they were jewels no matter that the color was scaling off or that there was a hole in the back of more than one. With reverence we unrolled them from their tissue paper, itself a little yellowed with age. Despite the care with which we handled them and bung them on the tree, their number thinned each year. A jostling elbow or an inadvertent brush against a suspending twig could send one of those gorgeous balls to crash upon the floor in shimmering fragments, a thousand tiny mirrors of our dismay.

The foil icicles were last to go on. There was a flat cardboard box of them plucked from previous Christmas trees, but they were twisted and crumpled, their use requiring patience and care. Except in the very leanest years, mother always bought two new packs folded straight regimented rows. They were a delight to distribute, but we had to
use the old ones first, to honor the gospel "Waste not, want not.” Mama and Mary Alice draped the icicles one by one in rank and row on each individual limb. I was impatient and believed in tossing a hank of them toward the top of the tree and letting them fall in haphazard glitter where they might. I was usually excused from icicle duty.

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We had no electric lights until l936 when the R.E.A., the Rural Electrification Authority, strung a line to our farm. After that along with all the other marvelous electric marvels and conveniences, we had electric lights of red, blue, green, and yellow for the tree. We tried to keep extra bulbs on hand because they were in series which meant that when one bulb burned out, all the bulbs were dark. They seemed to burn out frequently and it was something of a problem to find which was the offending bulb or bulbs. But the time I am talking about 1930 to 1935, in the daytime, light through the windows reflected the balls and tinsel with the chilling wink of winter. One of our neighbors had a fireplace and the fire sheen brought their tree to life as the kaleidoscope of color danced through and over the somber mystery of the cedar tree. But we made do with a kerosene lamp, which did well because the colors were richer because they were muted, and the mystery of Christmas filled our hearts as dressed in our footed pajamas with flaps in the seats, we gather under the tree to sing Christmas carols before we went off to bed each evening. My mother could carry a tune, but she always said that she was the least musical in a musical family. My father liked to hear others sing, but thought ten generations of Quakers on his father's side having not sung that they had lost the ability. We started out with "Joy to the World", my mother's favorite, continued with "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", my father would call for "We Three Kings," Mary Alice liked, "Little Town of Bethlehem", ending with my favorite, "Silent Night".

Then there was the shopping for gifts. This activity came under the supervision of one person - Mama. She was the one who took us Christmas shopping. Some time in the month before Christmas, we bundled up with quilts to wrap around our legs, and got in our Pontiac and went to town in Indianola. We knew for whom we were going to buy and how much we could afford to spend, but had not the faintest idea what we were going to purchase. Each of us clutched what money we had earned and our Christmas lists. The choices one had for a quarter in those days were unbelievable. Scarves for Grandpa and Mr. Spear were available for $ .25; so were boxes of four linen handkerchiefs embroidered in Switzerland with little knotted up rosebuds for Grandma and Aunt Alice, and Aunt Vida. For Aunt Sue I usually made something home made. I remember the first embroidery I did was a dresser scarf for Aunt Sue. One year it was a wooden box with a designed burned on it which was an art project in school. Another art project was a colored picture of a parrot padded and mounted on black satin for a wall hanging.

The gifts we purchased for mother had to be acquired on a skulking foray with frequent over-the-shoulder watchfulness, for she was constantly present. She refused to give any hint of preference this consequently made her the recipient of gaudy scarves, cheap perfume, or plastic trinkets. She frequently reminded us in our shopping that it is the thought that counts, but I cringe when I remember some of my gifts to her. We pooled our resources to buy a gift for Papa and spent more on his gift than on anyone else's. With excitement we selected an expensive tie or even, when we had more

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money, a pair of soft leather gloves lined with rabbit fur that cost $3.50. Christmas Eve we hung our stockings on a shelf as we had no fireplace mantle. Christmas morning
did not begin at daybreak but at least two hours before. It began with the thump and patter of the newly wakened feet of children across the bare wood floors of a 100 years-old farmhouse. At first Mary Alice and I talked in whispers. "Did" he come?” "I think
I heard him but I went back to sleep.” Finally Papa would. light a lamp and, following close behind Mama, Mary Alice and I filed down to the parlor and ran to our individual stockings, the transformation of which was a delight. The limp brown stockings of the evening before were now magically stretched and stuffed to their limit, witness to the largess of Santa. The contents of the stockings were traditional. There was an apple and an orange. There were hard candies and an assortment of nuts, and small toys and trinkets. I always hoped for a necklace because I had always broken my oId one and although we had restrung the beads it was no longer desirable in my eyes. Beside the stockings lay the individual gifts from Santa for each child. The dress or jacket, were exclaimed for but it was the luxury item that produced true joy. I sometimes received a book. Once a sled. We had to eat breakfast before we could play with our new treasures. 364 days a year we had bacon, eggs, and oatmeal for breakfast. On
Christmas we had waffles and syrup. Yum! Yum!'

Often we were invited to the Spears for Christmas Dinner or they to our place. They were an old couple who had not children or grandchildren and their nieces and nephews lived a long ways away. They were like grandparents to us, because our grandparents on my mother side, were dead and our father’s parents lived a long ways away. Before
Dinner they opened our presents to them and we opened our presents from them.

Christmas dinner was a feast usually a roast turkey at our house or goose at Spear's, fattened all fall for the Big Day. There was always dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, several vegetables, hot rolls with assortment of jellies, relishes and pickles from the cellar. For dessert, a choice of mince meat! pie, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and fruit cake.

After Dinner, neighbor children appeared with new sleds or skates that we tried out on the snowy hill or the frozen pond. We always hoped for snow at Christmas, but if there was no snow or ice, we l played hide and seek among the farm buildings, Run sheep run, or “Andy over” the shed with a new ball. Our hands were usually too stiff with cold to play soft ball, our favorite at other seasons of the year.

Bedtime came early with everyone exhausted by the early rising and vigorous play of the day, and so Christmas was over for another year, but it had been the best Christmas ever.

Abdu, the Boy Who Burned his Hands on Ice

written by Edith Whitney Whitson, granddaughter of Ira Joy Stoddard -- missionary to India

This is the story of a little boy who burned his hands on a cake of ice. Did you ever hear of such a thing? Did you ever hold a piece of ice in your hand? It didn't burn you did it? It was cold and you knew that it was cold. Grandpa and Grandma Stoddard, when they were missionaries in India, were so busy teaching and preaching that they did not have time to run errands for themselves. So they hired a little boy about nine years old to run errands for them. They paid him a penny a day and his meals.

It is always hot in India. In the winter it is hot as well as in the summer. There is no snow and ice. The children in the town where grandpa and grandma lived never slid down hill in the snow, because there never was any snow. They never went skating on the ice, because there never was any ice. This little boy, his name was Abdu, had never heard of ice or snow or cold.

One day Grandma heard that a ship had brought some ice to the nearest harbor and some of it had been brought miles over land packed in sawdust so it would not melt too much, to their town. So she called little Abdu, gave him a few pennies, and a cloth sack and told him to go and buy a piece of ice and bring it to her in the sack. She did not have an electric refrigerator as most people do now; and she did not have an ice box that would hold cakes of ice like the one
that we had when I was a small girl. She could not have gotten ice for it, if
she did have one. This was the first time there had been any ice close enough for her to get some and she thought it would be nice to get a little of it and make some ice cold lemonade. A lemon tree grew in her back yard like a cherry tree grows in your yard.

So Abdu went with the pennies and bag and brought home the ice and Grandmother made the ice cold lemonade and everyone had a taste of it. Abdu was quite a hero among his little friends because he had gone to town and brought back ice which none of them had ever seen before. Grandmother heard him talk1ng to the other children about it. Now, remember that. he bad never seen ice before or heard of it. He had to use the words that he knew. One of his friends asked him, "What was it like?"

He said, "I went to town and the merchant gave me a big stone and it was so hot that it burned my hands before I could get it into the bag. I put the bag over my shoulder and the stone was hot against my back all the way home.

Pioneer Life

George Beck was born on 8 Sep 1838 in Hadstatt, Schleswig-Holstein (now part of Germany).
Father - Caspar Lauritz Beck (born in 1803, Hadersleben, Schleswig)
Mother - Adrianne M.W. Dressen( born in 1808 Kiel, Schleswig)
His wife was Margaret Jensen (born in Wittbeck, near Kiel, Schleswig)
George and Margaret Jensen moved from Schleswig to Iowa in the United States at the beginning of their marriage. (Some sources say they got married in 1862 in Davenport, Iowa, other sources say their oldest child, George, was born on the boat coming over.)
There were 13 in the family. Lawrence was second in age. William (the ancestor of the Barrett brothers, born on 6 May 1866 in Dixon Iowa) was third. Caroline, nicknamed "Lena" or "Carrie," fourth. The following story was written by Carolina in her old age.
Pioneer Life
In April of the year 1881, my father bought 160 acres of prairie land 90 miles northwest from where we lived in northwestern Iowa. The land had to be broken (meaning breaking up the heavy grass sod, so that crops could be planted): so Father sent my nineteen-year-old brother Lawrence, my sixteen-year-old brother Will and me, thirteen years old, out there to break as much land as we could in ten weeks.
We took two mules, four horses, all old and gentle, two wagons loaded with farm implements, flax seed, some flour, coffee, sugar, and some corn for the animals. Both wagons were loaded too heavily. There were no graded roads, and the ground in April was soft; so our troubles soon began. We had expected to reach Storm Lake, the first real town, a distance of 30 miles. the first day. At ten o'clock in the morning, we were stuck in the mud seven miles from home. Most of the goods had to be unloaded and carried to dry ground.
There was a farmhouse a half mile farther up the road. Father walked there and asked if he might store the seeder, drill, and flax seed there. The woman said, "Yes". This was done. With lighter loads and perhaps fewer mud boles, we got along fairly well for time; but at sundown when still had twelve miles to go, the roads became low and marshy. The animals were so tired that Father said that we just couldn’t make the town; so we tried to find a place to spend the night at different farmhouses. No one could make room for us; so there was nothing to do but struggle on in the dark toward the lights of Storm Lake, which we could see in the distance.
It was about ten o'clock when one of the wagons got stuck again. Pull as they would, the mules could not pull it out. Father decided that we would unhitch the mules and leave the wagon behind. Lawrence led the mules, and Father trudged through the mud. Will drove the team, and I sat on a board that extended out in back of the wagon with my feet hanging down, where they got an occasional mud bath. This made me feel bad as Mother had gotten me a nice new pair of high button shoes, and this was the first time I bad worn them. I knew that they had to last me a long time. Charlie and Doll, the two other horses, were too tired. to do much more pulling; so they were tied back of the wagon.
It was midnight when we reached Storm Lake; and all the small rooming houses were crowded; so we had to go to the best hotel. Think of it - hungry, cold, and covered head to foot with mud, we had at last found a place to sleep. I was so tired; but when I thought of Father and Lawrence, I knew my lot had been easy. J could brag to my friends when I saw them again; for I had a room of my own in a four-story hotel; and that the best hotel in town.
The next morning, Father hired men to go out and get the other wagon. The wagons were taken apart, and they and the horses and mules and all our belongings were loaded in a railroad car. It cost $30 to take us and all our things the last 60 miles of our journey. Lawrence stayed with the animals; but Father, Will and I went into the passenger train (another event to brag about). We left Storm Lake some time after dark, and got off the train at Marcus about three in the morning, with no place to stay for the rest of the night. It was cold in the depot, but we waited there until the freight train carrying our things came into our car was switched off on to a side track. Father, Will and I climbed into the car and found some bedding. I slept on top of the table, which wasn’t a very comfortable place to sleep; but I was too tired to care. The restaurant had a saloon in front; and I was scared. In the morning we found a restaurant, where we had fried eggs, bread, and coffee. All I could think of was "Ten nights in a Barroom." After having our good breakfast, we were ready to take up the last part of our trip, over twelve miles of roadless prairie.
The country was higher here, so the traveling was much better, in spite of the lack of roads. At two o’clock we came to a cattle ranch, where a Danish family lived, a mother with her four sons and her ten year old daughter whom in later years became my companion. We boarded with this family two days, giving Father and the boys time to get lumber and nails from the railroad town and build a shelter for us. This consisted of a living room with two nailed up bunks in it, furnished with a stove with the pipe through the roof, and an adjoining shelter for the animals. Now we were ready to take up our work.
Before Father left for home, he said, "If you have time and aren’t too tired, you can break some land for the saloon keeper, whose land joins ours on the north. The saloon keeper will pay $2.50 an acre for the work; but no matter whether you finished or not, come home by the first of July."
We didn’t write letters, nor did we get any; so the long days were dreary ones for me. But nights always came too soon, with lightning, thunder and heavy rain. The boys were tired and slept heavily; but I crept under the covers, feeling sure this would be the last of us; but next morning the sun would come up bright; and all was fresh and clean, and everything was all right. The rain made breaking the earth easier. The bob-o-links would be drumming and crowing and cackling until it seemed they were calling me out into their wildlife. So after my work was done, sometimes, I scattered corn along the furrows after the plow - I would join my wild friends. I would walk miles to the north, wondering if I would find anyone, white or Indian; but I never did. I did find prairie chickens' nests with eggs in them.
These I carried home for food. We could buy butter, milk and eggs from the ranchers; and every Saturday Lawrence went to the little town to have the plow shares sharpened; and he would bring back ham, beans, and whatever groceries we needed. I baked the bread, which sometimes wasn't fit to eat; so I fed it to the wild life. For fuel I used corn cobs, coal, and red roots, that I gathered after the plow.
By the first of June the boys had finished breaking the 100 acres they had planned to break for us; and by the end of the month they had broken 100 acres for the saloon keeper; so Lawrence went to him and told him what they had accomplished, and that that was all we could do, because we were expected at home. The saloon keeper said that he would come out in the morning and measure the work. Lawrence brought back a treat of cheese crackers, two cans of peaches and two pounds of gingersnaps for our trip home. (I don't care much for gingersnaps to this day.)

The next day our neighbor with his bartender came out to measure the land. Iowa bad become a Prohibition state. Carrie Nation, who I thought was wonderful, had been smashing up saloons with her hatchet; so I thought all saloon-keepers were outlaws. I was afraid of these two.
The boys had figured out just how much they had earned so that they would be able to tell bow much they should get. After measuring the land, the saloonkeeper came into the shack. He took from his pocket a bag of money and counted out $210. Though Lawrence did not expect to be paid right then, he had expected to get $225: but he took the gold and thanked him. I thought I should be nice, so I fried some eggs and made some coffee, and gave them some bread and cheese and some of our precious gingersnaps. (Where is the hatchet woman?)
After they drove away, Lawrence said they had stretched the tape and had beaten us out of $15. We were all quite upset about that; but soon forgot it when we counted the money. There were ten $20 Eagles, as they were called (gold); and the rest was in silver.
We didn't intend to start till the next morning, because we planned to make the 90 miles in two days, over better roads and higher ground; over roads that would take us through two pretty good-sized towns: Cherokee and Ida Grove; so we had half a day to kill. Lawrence suggested that we go down to the ranchers' creek and fish. There were supposed to be pickerel in the creek. Three of the Danish boys and the girl went fishing with us. We took their gun and some forks to catch the fish. When we came back to the house, we had six nice pickerel.
The Danish mother could speak nothing but, Danish. When she saw the fish, she kept saying: "Loin fiske." The boys dressed them and she fried them. We, who were tired and hungry, ate and ate. Then we told them good-bye, and went back to the shack to get ready for an early start home. (Have wondered since what Lawrence did with the money during this time).
I crawled into my bunk, and was ready for a good sleep: but before l lay down, I saw Lawrence bring in a hammer. He held it so that I would not see; but I saw it, and knew he must be thinking the same as I - the men would come and rob us. Then Lawrence carelessly shook the pillow and said. "What is the matter with this bed?" He thought I didn't see him hide the gold there.
We had not been asleep long, so it seemed, when we were all awakened by the most awful yelling and squealing I had ever heard. We were frightened half to death. The noise kept on and on; so at last the boys got nerve enough to get up and light the lantern and go around to the stable door, to see what was happening. Left alone, I was really scared. I couldn't figure out what was causing the commotion; and why the boys were staying so long. I thought surely they were being killed, and that I would be next, because of the gold. Finally they came back and told me that one of the horses had gotten loose, and had gotten back of the mules; and the mules were kicking her out; but the horse couldn't get out, so she was squealing. Lawrence told me to get up and make the coffee; that by the time we had eaten breakfast it would be daylight. I had boiled coffee the night before; so all I had to do was warm it. After we had drunk some we didn't eat much, because we were too excited. The boys went out to harness up, and I gathered the bedding. I found the bag of gold, but not the hammer. I put it in a box with our clothing, and carried it and the bedd1ng out to one of the wagons. Then Lawrence came running. He had forgotten all about the gold until then. I told him where I had put it; but he said, "Wash the coffee pot and we will put the money in it." And we did. As the east was turning gray, we started out with the two wagons for home.
As we rode along that morning, I thought of the long day that bad passed. Strange as it seems, though we rarely saw human companions, we didn't seem to have been lonesome. I thought of the lonesome life of the Danish herder, a boy of 16 who for seven days a week, with his pony and his two dogs, Fido - a big brown hound and Shep - a black and white shepherd - herded his 400 cattle. I thought of the day he passed the shack, when I asked him why he was so far from the creek; he had answered: "I can do noddings." His dog Fido bad gone home because he had hurt his foot; and Shep bad gotten stubborn, and would not help him drive the herd. Every day he drove the cattle north until the sun was straight in the south; then while be ate his lunch the dogs had their cornbread and bones. The three would turn homeward, and reach there at sundown. That was his life for years; but I soon forgot the loneliness of the Danish herder, because we were on our way home.
We made fifty miles the first day, and made camp at sundown. We spread
the bedding on the ground and lay down to sleep, the coffee pot near at band. I could not sleep; for I was afraid that we were being trailed. About midnight, I heard riders coming. "Oh, dear," I thought, "This is it." As they came nearer, I could hear them talking: two boys who had been to a dance. I heard one of them say they rode by, "Gypsies."
We got an early start the next day, and everything went nicely. All at once, Will said, "Look, what is that? It looks like a dry river bed." I looked where he was pointing, and saw a ditch the width of a wagon, and about three feet deep. Lawrence, who seemed to know all the answers looked back from the wagon in front and said. "That is the Oregon Trail."
We were in well settled country now. Late in the afternoon one of the mules stuck up her head and began hee-hawing as loud as she could. Lawrence looked back and grinned, and said, "Jenny knows that we are almost home." We had six miles to go; yet she knew. (Don't call animals dumb.)
We got home about five o'clock, and what an excitement. Mother got busy getting supper: the younger brothers and sisters asked all kinds of questions. "Had we seen Indians, buffalo, wolves, or bear?" We sat down to supper, saying nothing about the gold. Finally father asked if we had broken any land for the neighbor; then Lawrence brought in the coffee pot and shook out the gold; and said, "This is what we earned, and he paid us." Father sat stupefied; and mother cried a little; they told us to each take one gold piece, because we had earned it; but Lawrence said, "No, what would we do with so much money? It was then decided that we would all go to town next day and get clothes.
The boys got good suits and new shoes; but it was different for me. There were very few ready-made dresses; in fact, only two in the whole town. They were brown crash, two-piece dresses. They must have been about size 36. I weighed less than a hundred pounds. We bought one, though. Mother said we could take it in here and there, shorten it in the front, and that it didn’t make any difference if the back of the skirt did come to the floor. I got a black straw derby hat with a rainbow ribbon and a large bow on the side. Even now, when I think of that hat – I am 76 – I still think it was very pretty. I also got some gold earrings, ear bobs; we called them, and a broach.
The next day was the fourth of July, and we started out to celebrate in our new clothes. We went to a lake where there would be boat riding and bowery dancing. Of course, there was a crowd, but the neighbor boy soon found me, and asked me to go for a boat ride. So many people got on the boat that it was overloaded, and could not be taken out; but no one wanted to get off. Finally he and I got off and went up to the bower, where the fiddlers were tuning up. He asked me to dance a quadrille; but I said I had never danced it. He said, "It is easy. You can soon catch on." I did. That was my first quadrille, but by no means my last. Even my brothers got home before I did that night. They told Father they had left me, because I was having such a good time, boat riding
and dancing, "English," as we called the square dance. When I got, home, Father said, "A kid like you shouldn't run around with boys." But after those ten weeks out West, I didn't think I was a kid any more.

How Grandfather shot a tiger

Dear Grandchild,
I will write to you about how my grandfather shot a tiger. My grandfather went to live in India so that he could tell the people about Jesus. He built himself a house that was better than the ones that most people around there built, and he had shown the people better ways to raise gardens so that they would have more to eat, and he had shown them how to do many things that they had not known how to do before; so the people had the idea that Bwama Stoddard could do anything. In their language Bwama meant "teacher." Sometimes they called him "Sahib" which meant "Most honorable Mister". They called great grandmother "Memshib" which meant "most Honorable Mrs."
All abound the small town where they lived, the woods grew very thick. There were more trees than grow in any woods that you have seen and they grew closer together and very very big. There was so much shade in the woods that it was dark and very hard for people to see clearly what was in the woods. So the people were afraid to go into the woods because there might be a tiger in there that they could not see, but the tiger could see them, and might grab them.
One morning before grandfather had even finished his breakfast, he heard a big noise outside his house. Many voices were yelling and crying and shouting. Above the din he could hear words now and then. He could hear the people calling, "Oh Bwama, come and help us." So grandfather left his unfinished breakfast and went out on the porch to see what they wanted. When they saw him they set up a great wail and they all tried to talk at once. My grandfather could not know what any of them was saying. He clapped his hands to get their attention. When they were quiet, he said, "When you all talk at once, I can not hear what you say. Choose one man to come and tell me what you want." So he went into the house and finished his breakfast.
The man who had been chosen to talk for the crowd came to the door and called: "Bwama, Bwama, let me come in. I must tell you. A tiger has come and carried away a cow. Come and kill the tiger for us or he will come again and carry away all our cattle and goats and maybe our wives and children too."
Grandfather said, "I never killed a tiger. When I was a boy at home, I shot squirrels and rabbits to eat and once I shot a wolf that was chasing my father’s sheep, but a tiger is much bigger than a wolf. It takes a special skill to shoot a tiger and that I do not have."
"Oh, yes," said the man, "you can do everything. Do not fail us."
Grandfather said, "To shoot a tiger takes a bigger gun than I have. My little gun would not kill him. It would merely tickle him and then he would be very angry and would kill all of us."
The man said that he knew where he could borrow a big tiger shooting gun. So he went away and came back in several hours with a big gun and shells. Well, then there wasn’t anything for Grandfather to do but shoot that tiger. He had been teaching these people all this time that God would take care of them. Since he was God’s minister sent to teach them and to take care of them, what would they think of him and his teachings if he failed to help them? Would they continue to believe in God and have faith in Him, if grandfather failed to help them? No, he had to kill that tiger.
"Go and get an elephant for me to ride," said Grandfather, "if I am on the ground, I cannot see the tiger quickly enough to shoot him before he jumps on me." All of this time, the people were running around crying a yelling. It had taken several hours for them to get the gun, and it would take another hour for them to find the elephant. Grandfather was working on his sermon for the next Sunday but the people made so much noise that he had trouble studying. Before he went back into the house he told them, "While some of you are going for the elephant, the rest of you decide who will be the beaters, I will need fifty beaters."
"Oh, Bwama," one said, "I cannot be a beater, my wife is sick." And he went home.
"Oh, Swama," said another, "I cannot be a beater, I have sore feet." And he went home. One after another the men found some excuse why they couldn’t help kill the tiger.
Grandfather looked around and saw that only three men were left. One of them was the head man of the town. Grandfather said to him, "I must have 50 beaters or I cannot kill the tiger." Then he went into the house without waiting to hear any more excuses.
In an hour Grandfather heard a great noise outside his house and a loud trumpeting of an elephant. When he went out, he found 50 men who would act as beaters and all the rest of the men, women, and children of the town had come along and all were yelling and crying. The men who had gone for the elephant had found a very large one. The elephant was excited because there was so much noise and so many people running around and he was stomping his feet and trumpeting.
Grandfather looked the elephant over carefully. It seemed to be a gentle animal but he was not satisfied. "Could you not get a howdah?" he asked the men. A howdah is a railed or canopied seat that people sit in on the back of an elephant when they ride.
"No, Sahib," they answered.
"Then bring a long, strong rope and tie it around the elephant. His back is smooth and slippery and if he becomes frightened and runs, I will fall off and be trampled under his feet."
So with much scurry and hurry and running this way and that, they found a rope and tied it around the elephant’s middle. Then two strong men held another man on their shoulders and Grandfather climbed up by means of this human ladder onto the elephant’s back and then the men handed up his gun. As soon as the head man saw that Grandfather had his gun loaded, he gave orders to the 50 beaters, and turning to the women ordered, "Take your children home."
The women and children ran home and shut the doors. The 50 beaters moved to the edge of the woods. There they slowed down to a very slow walk and stepped very carefully into the woods. All of the shouting and yelling had stopped. They did not want to scare the tiger further into the woods and they wanted to see him before he saw them. So they stepped very quietly and carefully into the woods looking around and behind all the bushes and trees. After a while my grandfather heard some pigs grunting in the woods, but knew that they were not pigs but some of the beaters grunting like pigs to let the others know that they had seen the tiger. If they had called out, they might have made the tiger go farther away. Then all the beaters began to yell and beat the bushes with clubs and beat on tin pans and make such a din as you never heard: "Oy-yuoi yuoi yoh, yoh hi hi hi – oylly oyl – wow."
Grandfather stood up on the elephant’s back and aimed his gun at the edge of the woods near where he heard the men yelling. He watched very carefully and pretty soon he saw a big yellow head look out between the bushes. The tiger growled so loud that the people in another town a mile away heard him and were so frightened that they ran into their houses and shut the doors. After the tiger growled so loud, he looked this way and that way and caught sight of the elephant. He crouched down and got ready to spring forward. Then the tiger gave a great leap that would have carried him over a small house if one had been in the way.
Grandfather got ready to shoot but before he could pull the trigger, the tiger jumped again, coming so close that Grandfather felt the elephant trembled with fear, but it was a well trained animal, so he stood still.
Grandfather pulled the trigger and shot the tiger between the eyes just as he leaped again. The tiger fell over dead, but he was so close that he hit the side of the elephant as he fell. That was too much for even a well trained elephant, and the frightened animal ran into the woods. Grandfather dropped the gun, grabbed hold of the rope, and rode into the woods. As the elephant ran, Grandfather caught hold of a tree branch and let the elephant run out from under him. He climbed down the tree and walked out of the woods.
Grandfather did not tell me what happened to the elephant, but I think he probably went home to his master. An elephant is like a good horse and can find his way home. And that is how my grandfather shot a tiger.

Told by Edith Whitney Whitson

Ira Joy Stoddard -- missionary to India

A letter from Edith Drucilla Whitney Whitson about her grandparents to her grandchildren: Jay, Daniel, and David. (Frank was not born yet)
Dear Jay,
You are our oldest grandchild, so I will write the first letter to you. This story is about my grandfather, Ira Joy Stoddard, who was a missionary to India. Today, Oct. 29, 1951, you Jay Elliott Barrett are 4 years, 6 months, and 29 days old. When you are a few years older you can read these words yourself and I hope you will enjoy reading about my grandfather who is your great, great grandfather.
I told you that he was a missionary. A missionary is a person who carries the Gospel or Good News about Jesus to people who have not had the chance to go to Sunday School and church every Sunday as you and Daniel have. When these people go to some part of the United States with the Good News, we call them "home Missionaries". When missionaries go to other countries to teach and preach and heal the sick and tell people about Jesus, we call them "Foreign .Missionaries". My Grandpa Stoddard was a foreign missionary, because he went. to Assam, India. Assam is a state in the Country of India just as Iowa is a state in the country of the United State
On August 18, 1847, my grandfather Stoddard married Drucilla Allen, and when I was born 45 years later, she was my Grandma Stoddard. Then they set sail for India to be pioneer missionaries. Pioneer means that they were among the first people to go to a certain place. There are very many missionaries now, but long ago there were not so many and in some parts of India and even in some part. of Assam before my grandpa and grandma went there, but in another letter I will tell you how grandpa Stoddard went to a place where no missionary had ever been before. People had to be very brave to go to another country where they did not know anyone and did not even know how to talk the same language that the people there talked. Sometimes the people that they went to tell about Jesus did not like people from another country and did not want to be helped and did not want to hear about Jesus. Some times they made life very hard for the missionaries; so the missionaries had to be patient, but they loved Jesus so much and He had done so much for them that they wanted to tell everyone about Him. So they set sail for India.
It may sound funny to you to have anyone talk about setting sail. Nowdays people travel in a steam ship if they want to cross the ocean. If they have enough money they go in an airplane and get there in a few hours or days. Long ago in 1847 steamships had not been in use very long and while a few of them had crossed the Atlantic ocean from the United States to England, none of them bad gone as far as India. So Grandpa and Grandma went in a sailing ship. Instead of going through the Suez Canal, they bad to go all the way down the west coast of Africa, around the cape of Good Hope. So instead of the trip taking them a few weeks,as it would now, it took them 6 months. The reason they did not go by way or the Suez Canal was that it had not yet been built.
Some other time I will tell you about how my grandfather built himself a house on stilts; how be saved a lot of people for Jesus by singing a song; how he taught a whole village full of people to read so that they could read the bible; and how he killed a tiger.
That is all for this time.
Your loving Grandma,
Edith Drucilla Whitney Whitson