The following document was written by the Barrett Brother's paternal grandfather, the Rev. Newton Eliot Barrett ( b. 13 AUG 1890, d. 27 APR 1986)
OUTLINE OF LIFE OF REV. FRANK FRELINGHUYSEN BARRETT
By his eldest son, Newton Eliot Barrett
“WHY AND WHEREFORE?”
The recent death of my brother Philip leaves me, now approaching 80, as about the only one living who knew our Father. Though cut off in the prime of his life and ministry, he yet made a make in a wide circle of acquaintances and associates. Although he was no illustrious personage, like a few immortalized in popular biographies, he still lived as one of many capable, devoted, and estimable persons, who in the aggregate, have contributed more to today’s America and world, then their few rare celebrities.
Beyond the light thrown on this hitherto unsung hero, a sketch of his life and career cannot but illuminate in some degree, the vastly different times in which he moved; thus yielding data which should be of interest to anyone with antiquarian instincts.
So for what it is worth, I want to pay this tribute of love and admiration to the only one, aside from my mother, who for so brief a time, lavished love and care upon me during my formative days.
“THE DAYS OF OUR YEARS”
Inasmuch as Grandfather Newton Barrett compiled a remarkably thorough survey of the Barretts of our line, ending with the year 1885, it seems unnecessary here to trace our ancestry back to Thomas Barrett, a migrant for Norwich, England, coming with that first influx of pioneers who followed the Mayflower Pilgrims into the American wilderness.
Rev. Newton Barrett, Frank’s father, was the second child born and the first to survive infancy, to schoolteacher Simon and his wife Lydia Mascraft Barrett. After receiving the A.B. and A.M. degrees from Yale University, and teaching theology in the Western Reserve, near Cleveland, and marrying his old sweetheart, Emily Bugbee, he was ordained by the Presbyterian Church in 1840, starting a career of ministerial service which, with a brief interim (from F.F.’s death in 1898 till by first pastoral appointment in 1919), has continued through his posterity up to this present day, and, we hope, will go on toward or well into its 3rd century.
Frank Frelinghuysen (the latter honoring the Whig candidate for Vice President the year of his birth), the youngest of 5 children, was born Oct. 20, 1850 in the Presbyterian parsonage at Milan, Ohio, on Lake Erie near Toledo. True to the ancient tradition of Protestant ministers, the family moved from place to place throughtout his childhood. In 1853, Newton was called to the Congregational Church in Hudson, Ohio. In January 1856 Grandfather was appointed to missionary work in the younger state of Illinois; and he bought a house that year, in Mendota. Cousin Rose remembers a story of how during the winter nights, the snow drifted in through a hole in the loft roof, covering the blankets under which the boys were lying. They remained on this 10-acre farm until 1860. This period saw the demise of the Presbyterian and the birth of a Congregational Church there, which latter group called Newton as Pastor.
An obscure interval from 1860 to ’62 found Newton serving Lake Forest Seminary. In the spring of 1862, the family moved to Knoxville, near Galesburg, to enable Edward, his eldest son, and Frank, to attend Knox College. Nothing has come to light regarding Frank’s early schooling—he mentions in a letter that Grandpa tutored him in Latin and Greek. Doubtless now he studied in the academy department. Perhaps it was in ’63 that they moved to Galesburg. In the fall of ’64 Newton was called to serve the Presbyterian Church in Dunton (now Arlington Heights) Illinois. Here he remained until 1873, at some time in that period, buying a farm house 2 ½ miles out of town.
Toward the close of the Civil War, Edward enlisted in the union army, and served as chaplain; and though only 13, Frank asked and was permitted to join the forces as a drummer boy. He served for 120 days, from July to October. Lacking any record of his life during the new few years, we may assume he lived with his parents. In any event, he received enough schooling to enable him to enter Beloit (Wisc) College, where he graduated in 1871. Beloit was not yet coeducational—the class consisted of 11 men, every one of whom entered the ministry. Frank, however, at first had other interests. He studied law in Chicago for two years (probably immediately after graduation), and was employed as collector by Fuller & Fuller, manufacturing druggists in Chicago, for how long we do not know.
At all events, he went east and entered Yale University Divinity School, and continued at Union Theological Seminary, until after 3 years he received his D.D. degree in 1880. There seems to have been a short time of unemployment; but he was called to Evansville, Wis (near where I preached 75 years later). He was ordained in an impressive service Feb. 15, 1881. A Year later he was given a card of ordination (probably to accredit him to perform marriages) in 1882, from Rock County. It will be noted that, though a Presbyterian by birth and experience, Frank gave a number of years to Congregational Churches. For many years this denomination, being possibly even shorter of ministers than what we may term more well-established ones, has borrowed large numbers of men. Possibly because of a desire to find work among his own, on Sept. 5, 1883 he accepted a call to the First Presbyterian Church of Dubuque, Iowa, where he was installed after the form custom of the Church, on Nov. 15. This relationship continued only till the end of 1884, when though without a call elsewhere, he resigned.
He evidently had not long to wait for another field—Feb. 7 1885 he writes Brother Ed from Marshalltown, Iowa that the Presbyterian Church there has called him for one year as supply pastor (at $1200 a year, a good salary for those days), and he was accepted.
The next chapter of his life so nearly concerns me that I give it more detailed attention. No data are at hand as to his reasons for leaving Marshalltown, or the precise date of the move. Letters from Elkhorn, Wisc. Indicate an interregnum, spent with Brother John and family, who had built a house there. (I have looked up the deed, dated 1883). We know definitely that he was called to a new Congregational organization, named Pilgrim Church, in Milwaukee. It seems that a group of well-to-do leaders of the great Grand Avenue Cong., on 22nd and Grand (now Wisconsin) Ave., having moved into what were then the western suburbs of outlying residential district, urged a relocation further west. That commanding churchman, Rev. George H. Ide, D.D., steadfastly refused to consider this; and he carried a majority of the members along with him. So 20 members withdrew, and organized this new church. As a child, I was given to understand that this was a missionary venture, designed to bring religious opportunities within reach of the workers in the shops of the C.M.& St.P.Ry. in the gully south of the western limits of the city. In any event, this project presented a real opportunity. They secured a building vacated by an Episcopal congregation which had built a new one; and very soon they began construction of what was acclaimed to be a first-class edifice. It was only 6 blocks from the parent Church; and from this distance in time, it seems absurd to have made the move. But the event justified the decision. I want to anticipate a little at this point. When I was a boy, living with my grandparents, two of the least affluent, but about the most competent and enthusiastic churchmen there, I enjoyed the activities of a fine thriving organization, where I sang in my first choir and taught my first Sunday School class.
Though Frank was blessed with a good constitution, he suffered from a chronic throat affliction—called an enlarged uvula or soft palate, which caused him much distress. While in Milwaukee, he had an operation for the removal of some tissue from what he called the vocal orifices. (This sounds much like the now commonplace tonsillectomy). The after-effects of this, combined with the strain of the ambitious project of bringing to birth a new religious community, aggravated the nervous exhaustion resulting from seven years of what must have been at times stormy and trying pastoral service. In consequence, his physician(s) absolutely prohibited any work whatever for a term of months. So though everything pointed to a long and fruitful pastorate here, with mutual reluctance it was agreed that he should be released at once. This was in March 1888—the new building had been dedicated, the parish organized, and a revival with a visiting evangelist held there.
During this brief association with what seems to have been his most congenial field thus far, he entered upon one of the most fantastic romances in ministerial annals. Such scanty data as I have discovered indicate that he was not indifferent to feminine charms; and at least two love affairs have been reported to me, both coming early in his ministerial career. But here he appears as a bachelor in his upper 30’s, heart whole and fancy free. Among the 20 families creating Pilgrim Church was that of the William Millard, referred to above. Midway between the eldest and youngest of the children, was a girl, Edith, at the time 17 years old. By whatever quirk of Cupid’s influence, these two fell in love with each other, and agreed to marry. If this were a book, we might be justified in giving space for more detailed comments on this phase of Frank’s and Edith’s lives. Suffice it to say that, from all accounts, and my own observation as a kilted kiddie, if ever a match was made in Heaven, this one was. Unbounded love, appreciation and devotion characterized both partners; and Mother’s untimely death a few years later brought sadness and desolation to her bereaved husband which he did not overcome till the day of his reunion with her in the Christian’s eternal home.
Apparently during his long convalescence from the sore malady we have mentioned, he lived in Elkhorn with Brother John and/or his father, who had closed his ministry in the Congregational Church there in 1883.
A suggestion from his doctor, enforcing a long-standing yearning, resulted in his decision to travel in Europe, visiting the world’s most famous art centers. From such ambiguous and indefinite hints as have come to me, he must have planned even before his engagement, to send Edith to Mt. Holyoke Seminary for a term or two. Her mother’s diary states that she went to Boston March 28 (for a visit to her Aunt Harriet, I suspect), and that she returned home June 29, 1889. Not surprisingly, the projected union caused Edith’s parents great searching of hearts and much foreboding. Interviews with Frank and his father, however, gave such reassurances as they needed; and the nuptials with the customary éclat were celebrated Oct. 1 that year.
Frank meanwhile spent from May 6 to about Aug. 12 in France, Italy and England, his experiences being related in a series of letters, some of which I have, and are available to those who might wish to read them. The weeks prior to the wedding saw him in divers pulpits as supply preacher, and in negotiations for a drastic leap from the cold and humid north to the deep south, where it was hoped, his throat trouble would be remedied. A few days after the marriage vows had brought into being a new family, the couple entrained for San Antonio, where he had been called to lead the Madison Square Presbyterian Church, at what looked like a princely salary of $1500. Grandpa Barrett went with them, or at any rate spent part or all of this pastorate there. A year later their troubles were compounded by the arrival of their first-born son, whom they named for his grandfather, Newton, and for John Eliot, pioneer missionary to the Indians of Massachusetts settlement in Pilgrim days.
As had too frequently happened in his ministry, Frank found a divided sentiment regarding his leadership; and he mentions divers considerations not the least being financial, which moved him to resign this pastorate about May 1, 1892. Records on file here attest to the high esteem in which he was held by both church organizations and ministerial associations, which passed flattering resolutions and words of farewell. Again he found himself at loose ends, securing occasional supply preaching to the iron hot (mixed metaphor?). Some of this period was spent in Milwaukee; and here Philip was born Oct. 16, 1892. Following the usual negotiations, the Presbyterian Church of Prairie du Sac called him as Pastor on March 1, 1893; establishing a relationship which proved to be the longest and happiest, as well as the last of his all-too-brief ministry. He arrived by rail with Newton at that time, and for days boarded at the Keysers’ in the village. A little later, Mother Edith and baby Philip joined them, and the family established residence in the parsonage, a few blocks from the Church. This community was the scene of my earliest recollections.
Late in January, a third son was born, whom the parents name Richard Leigh. A week later, the young mother, not yet 25 years old, fell into a delirium, in which she relived the family’s trip to the World’s Columbian Exposition (celebrating the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America, opening a little late, in ’93), helping and encouraging her two babies to mount the steps of the buildings in the “alabaster city”. The following day she entered her celestial mansion. Whatever medical term the doctor assigned as the cause of her death, it should have been spelled merely rotten obstetrics. She was carried to the local cemetery, where in the months following, the stricken husband and eldest son many times visited her grave. Nobody who has not gone through a similar experience can imagine the terrifying situation Frank faced, with three little sons and nobody to care for them.
Uncle Ed and Aunt Hannah Barrett asked to be given charge of Philip; and they took him to the parsonage in Iowa City, where he was loved and cared for as a late-born son among three adolescent daughters. Providence guided Frank to a spinster, Florest (“Flossie”) Squires, who proved to be as nearly adequate a substitute for a mother as I suppose any orphaned family was ever blessed with. A German farmer’s daughter was engaged to do the kitchen work. At Christmas time and during summer vacations, Father took me to visit Philip and family; and at times he also traveled to Oswego, Illinois for some delightful days with Uncle John, who had established a grocery business there. And all this Frank did on $75 a month!
This is his biography, not mine; so I should resist the temptation to inject myself into the narrative. I will, however, introduce enough evidence to indicate how much I must have added to his burdens during these trying years. Some time ago I visited Prairie du Sac, and called on a very old woman who had been a high school teacher while I was there, and who remembered us well—Father had officiated at her first wedding. She testified that I could think of more deviltry in 5 minutes than any other kid could in a day. The parsonage yard reached to a well-traveled dirt road. One pastime I recall was to watch for a shiny buggy to pass, and to run out and pick up horseapples, the fresher the better, and throw them at the back of the rig. Harder to bear than such delinquencies, was the melancholy habit I had acquired as soon as I could speak plainly, of swearing. When the trite jibe comes at me about the minister’s sons being the most depraved in town, I can only blush with shame and admit that in some cases at least, the remark is well justified.
Again, to confine this review within limits, I forbear to multiply reminiscences. I only know Father lived under a heavy cloud of bitter memories. Once at least I was wakened by his moaning cry, although he answered my startled inquiry as to what was wrong, by saying, “Nothing!” I have always known that he had nightmares, reliving the circumstances of his beloved wife’s death. Someone mentioned years later that he had become interested in the widow of a seminary chum named Pettibone; and if he had lived, he might have joined forces with her and patched up two broken hearts and sundered families. I only remember on our travels he once stopped at her home and ate dinner with her and her three little daughters, one of who, at her request, said grace before the meal.
On Sunday, March 13, 1898 Father woke up with a heavy cold, and his usually attendant constriction of the throat. He was unable to preach, but spent the day in bed. In the afternoon, I was alone with him for a few minutes, while Grandpa, who had lived with us ever since Mother died, was downstairs. Gasping out a hoarse word, he said, “Newton, pillow!” I had just sense enough to gather that he wanted me to bring him a pillow from the bed to his rocker. He laboriously worked this behind his back, to ease his position. Later, I was sent over to the Felix’, to east supper with the deacon and his children, my playmates. While we were finishing, he came in, having been to the parsonage to inquire how Father was. With tears streaming down his face, he said, “Newton, your Papa has gone to Jesus!” A coronary attack, called apoplexy, had seized him as he tried to move across the room; and Grandpa came in, to find him lying lifeless on the floor. He wrote a circumstantial account of this tragic episode, which is available for anyone who would like to read it.
After an immense funeral, the service to me interminable, with eulogies by several colleagues, the train of carriages, followed by hundreds on foot, wended their way to the cemetery, where he was laid beside her whose soul had gone one before to prepare the way for him. He was 47 years, 4 months and 21 days old, and had served the Christian Gospel for 16 ¼ years.
“WHAT MANNER OF MAN IS THIS?”
It is startling to reflect that if Frank should be reanimated and walk down the street, probably his own son wouldn’t recognize him. Of course he wouldn’t see in the aging man, the little boy he left over 70 years ago. As for a description of him, we can name only the most obvious items. He was 5ft. 4in. tall, and weighed during his last years over 220 lbs, with a waistline of 50 in. I am reminded of a remark made a generation later by the humorist, Irvin S. Cobb, who was of similar build. He said that when he rose to give a seat on a bench to a lady, the man who was with her sat down too. Photos of a Father taken on graduation day at 20 show a slim, trim young man, blue-eyed, with brown hair, and smooth face in a generation when there were even more whiskers than today. He was a brilliant second-baseman on the Beloit College nine. But from all accounts, after graduating, he gave up all exercise, except that required by his sedentary occupation. Someone hinted that he contracted fatty degeneration of the heart; though this had no direct bearing on his premature death. In later years he was a bald as a nest-egg, except for a fringe of hair about ears and neck. He wore a black silk skull-cap in the house, especially during the cold season. And I remember him on one of the truly hot days in Wisconsin, sitting near an open window, trousers unbuttoned in front, a book in one hand and a fan in the other, trying to read and cool his ample middle at the same time. Near the end of his life, his doctor prescribed exercise and diet. He was to drink an eggnog every few hours (whether before or in lieu of meals, one can only guess), and he bought a bicycle to ride about on. The sales slip before me says $30.00—40% of a month’s salary. He took me to the park among the trees to be partially shielded from the vulgar gaze; and he tried here, in the most unlikely terrain for learning, to ride it. His annoyance at falling off time after time, like a shot hippo, was not alleviated by my solicitous cry, “Did you hurt yourself, Papa?”
From references to his schooling, it is evident that he was one of the best educated men in his world. He spent 9 years beyond high school in study—commonplace today; extraordinary a century ago. His literary gifts where astonishing. From sermons etc. on hand is his not-too-legible handwriting, one can see eloquence beyond that of most celebrated preachers. In fact, one eulogy of a deceased friend was couched in such purple prose that even for that age of hi-flown oratory, it seems actually excessive. A classmate wrote me, many years later, that Frank presented an essay in his senior year, which was the best thing of that generation. The old friend I mentioned, in Prairie du Sac said that he was a splendid speaker; but he often went over the heads of the simple townsfolk and farmers in his congregation. A letter from a minister friend near San Antonio urged him to get away from his manuscript, and he would rise to the top-most rank of preachers. At the time of his nervous break, he wrote that he didn’t even write sermons now—he just talked. Yet his last sermon, preached the Sunday before his death, is on hand, written in full. He was altogether free from his notes, though, at least by then. I remember him once, walking on the platform “to and fro, to and fro”, as he spoke the words.
He was a purist in expression, never allowing an error to go uncorrected. One day I came in, clowning, crying, “Here comes me!” He insisted that I repeat the remark, saying either: “Here I come” or “Here come I”. In this way he did something for my speech and writing which has borne fruit ever since. Besides this literary gift, he had in marked degree the analytical and critical faculty, which unfortunately was not transmitted to at least his eldest son, though it reappears in his grandson, much to my envious gratification. His letters to Brother Ed include comments on the new theology, the gifts and defects of fellow-ministers, and the general scene, which set him among our leading creative thinkers.
Just what sort of fellow he was, how others must have seen him, is apparent in part from all-too-scant recollections of those who have commented on him many years later. It seems he acquired the habit of pipe smoking, perhaps in college. At any rate, his mother refused to allow him to bring the stuff into the house; so he dept pipe and tobacco in the woodshed, and indulged outdoors. I think possibly he did take an occasional puff during his last years, though I do not remember ever to have seen this. There was no liquor in our house; yet he wrote his fiancée from Europe that he was not like her and her temperance-agitator family, a tee-totaler, “as an empty bottle in many of my hotel rooms attests.”
It is gratifying to most of his imperfect associates to know that he had a quick temper. Aunt Nan (Uncle John’s wife), told of an evening in his boardinghouse when, as he rose from the table, his head hit the over-hanging lamp; whereupon he gave it a sharp boost, raising it to it upper position; but so violently that it broke the chimney. One can imagine the mortification with which he showed the damage to the landlady, and offered to pay for it. Doubtless the reader who is moved to criticize such weakness—or misplaced strength—in a man of God, can think of others of his acquaintance who are not uniformly equable in disposition.
He enlistment in the cause of freedom when it involved real danger to life and security, indicates a real sense of patriotism, and of love of liberty for everyone, which showed forth throughout his life.
With his ready friendship, he was still something of a “loaner”, diffident and even shy. It was very hard for him to make this pastoral calls; yet he was never negligent in this vital phase of ministerial service. The many testimonials from fellow-ministers indicate that he had the true gift of friendship. He was more than perfunctorily courteous. It is told of him that one day he was in a parlor, seated in a small arm-rocker. When a woman entered the room, as was his custom, he sprang to his feet—and the chair came up with him. I understand that he steadfastly avoided armchairs from that day forward.
He was notably a lover of animals. When I was beginning to read, he subscribed to a mini-pulp magazine entitled “Children’s Pets”; and he helped me read everything in it. One of his favorite quotations, which he repeated so often that I memorized it, was the passage from Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”:
He prayeth well who loveth well
Both man, and bird and beast.
He prayeth best who loveth best
All things, both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all”.
The honest biographer must acknowledge that, despite his virtues, he didn’t show up too favorably in his boyhood home. He never got on well with his father—a rather dour, humorless son of the Puritans. Aunt Nan said if he hadn’t loved his mother so devotedly, he would have left home years before his schooling took him away. Yet if this was once true, everything was smoothed out as he reached maturity. There are references to notes his father made out to him for money loaned after an unfortunate investment in mining stock. After Grandma died, he spent many years with Frank, as with his other sons, being especially close to him at the time of his bereavement, and ever after.
Mention has been made of Father’s correspondence with his ministerial brother Edward. They were as close as twins, despite the nearly 8 years difference in their ages. By recollection of delightful visits to Uncle John’s indicates that Father was as close to him, too.
I have tried to appraise his sense of humor—to me a most important asset for anyone. I recall a few humorous songs he sang in my hearing, with his fine baritone voice; especially one which, when having hurt myself, I started to make a scene in a railway station, he sang to quiet me, much to the amusement of the other passengers. Uncle John’s second daughter, Mae, was probably his favorite, and she reciprocated his affection. She told of an incident during her childhood, when she had somehow heard a new and semi-profane expression, which seemed to her highly complimentary. As she ran to meet Uncle Frank on his way home, she cried out, “Hello you damn fool!” Father roared with laughter, and said, “Well, Maisie, where on earth did you pick that up?” This much is certain, at any rate; with his humor when a true sense of refinement; and never did he tell a dirty story or make an obscene jest—something which, I fear, can be said of too few of his descendants.
I have mentioned the grief I caused him on many occasions; by my waywardness; yet, despite his stern reproof, and punishment when necessary, first with the hand, later with the hairbrush, and last with the razor-strop, there was never any doubt in my mind as to the depth of his love for me. I discovered very early that if I started to bawl, he would melt into sympathy, and by a word of tenderness, restore me to happiness. What has been said about the crushing blow dealt him by Mother’s death, and the depression which lasted for the 3 years he survived her, bespeaks a capacity for absolute devotion and outgoing love such to few men are capable of. I am sure Philip, were he here to express it, would join me in the confession that we have not adequately emulated all our Father’s amiable and godly traits; and I at least, wish nothing better than to grow throughout the time left to me, toward his purity, devotion and sheer goodness. In reflecting on my relationship with him, so deplorably brief, I cannot express my sentiments better than to cite lines from F.S.Pierpoint’s prayer in verse:
“For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild,
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.”
“WHERE ABIDEST THOU?”
To see our ancestor as he lived and moved in the primitive setting of 100 or more years ago, we must try to reconstruct that environment. Surprisingly, a study of history as textbooks deal with it, is of practically no help n illuminating his every-day activities. “American History” so-called, should rather be named “History of American Politics.” We learn the names of the Presidents and their dates, in correct order; and we can at least name and is some measure describe the divers wars we have fought as what we call a good Christian nation must; but as for what much more nearly affect man’s every-day activities, we find only incidental hints. There is far more real history of a given generation in any good novel, than in even the 10-volume history of our country by McMaster, for example, which I have waded through.
Much of what Frank ate, wore, played and worked with, lived in and around, cannot be known by specific mention in the letters, etc. which we have at hand. But we may safely assume he went through the same experiences as others in his time. Using our imagination, then we may watch him in some such circumstances as the following. His diet was plain, wholesome, and sufficient; but much simpler than ours today. He opened few if any cans or packages of prepared foods, much of what he ate was raised on Grandfather’s farm or those of his neighbors. Every woman baked her own bread and like items. At first, most of their meat was either butchered by themselves or bought direct from those who did. A churn was standard equipment in every home; and Miss Muffet’s curds and whey were shared by everyone 100 years ago. The fortunate ones got fresh-drawn milk; the rest had what was left after mother skimmed the rich film of cream off the pan. If you had mentioned the word refrigerator, he wouldn’t have known what you were talking about. Never did he have an ice-box in his parsonage. A cellar or a pit dug outdoors kept perishables cool as possible; and vegetable and meat dugouts stored much of the winter’s supply of staple eatables.
As for cooking and heating, he knew at first a mere fireplace in his log our rough clapboard house. Cooking was done on a triangle of iron, supported on short iron legs over the wood fire. Later, his ménage boasted a cookstove, with movable lids over and behind the firebox. Possibly he was prosperous enough, at least in his city churches, to have one with warming oven around the pipe leading to the chimney. There were even in some homes a reservoir behind the stove proper, in which rain water was kept warm for dishwashing, bathing, etc. Enamel and modern cooking ware was undreamed of. Tin pans, copper kettles, iron skillets etc. served for preparing food.
He never enjoyed the convenience of running water or even a sink. Hard water for cooking and drinking was drawn from a well in the yard, by a hand pump. Thawing out the affair on winter mornings was one of the simple pleasures of the time. At the corner of the house was a large rain-barrel of oak, which caught the run-off from the roof, and from which the industrious housewife brought in the soft water by bucket. The scullion would throw out the water and garbage (swill, as it was popularly called), through the back doorway. His last domicile boasted the luxury of a slop-hole, 3 ft. deep and about 6 x 6 square, in the barnyard behind the house, rich in odors, replete with toads, bugs and other scavengers, and at long intervals filled in and replaced by one dug near by.
It should not be assumed that, since semi-modern conveniences had been invented, discovered, and manufactured some years before the time of which we write, there were available for Frank and his family, in the rural and small city localities where he lived. It is doubtful if he saw, or at least walked about the streets of Chicago or other cities until after he graduated from college. There were stylish clothes and “store” shoes before he was born; but it is doubtful if he possessed any of these in his childhood. Homespun, or hand-woven fabrics, tailored by mother or a specialist in the neighborhood, were the order of the day. In later years, he dressed as well as we do now—he was very fastidious about his appearance, and was especially careful of his shoes. A bill is at hand from a London cobbler, for a pair of shoes bought during his European trip, priced at 1 pound 8 shillings—some $7 in American money at that time—today that would be equivalent to $50 or $60. Naturally, years earlier, a poor minister with a family, would think more than twice before supplying the young folks with such luxuries.
To us who light up the house by snapping a button, it is hard to conceive the primitive illumination of the 19th Century. Never, unless at brief intervals in the cities, did Frank have electric or gas light. At first candles, home molded from local fats, later kerosene lamps, provided the dim glow he knew at night.
Bathtubs, when they had them, were of simple type, most often wash-buts set on the floor and filled and emptied by hand. I mentioned the razor-strop as a convenient and effective agency of chastisement. No such gadget as a safety razor was in his toilet kit, but the old side-winder whose use demanded true dexterity.
It is safe to assume that Frank’s boyhood and youth, spent much of the time on the farm, involved the usual hand labor. McCormick and other inventors had begun manufacture of agricultural machinery by his time, it is certain that Grandpa never aspired to the ownership of it. Hay was mowed by scythe; gain was cut and windrowed by the cradle; threshing was done with a flail or the most primitive beating process. The ground was plowed by a horse-drawn walking plow—whence the derogatory epithet leveled at the son of the soil, of “clod-hopper.”
As far as known, Frank never went to a hospital—only in the cities had therapeutics developed so far. People were cured or died at home. His employers, Fuller & Fuller, doubtless had workmen mashing medicinal lumps to powder with mortar and pestle—a thick mug, and a heavy stone rode with rounded and enlarged end. Liquid medicines were brewed in vats and bottled. Mainly, however, Franks’ family resorted to home remedies—sulphur and molasses to thin the blood in spring; molasses and wormwood for divers ills; vile-tasting dosages of rhubarb, ipecac, picry etc. contributed what they could to health and vigor. Childbirth, for his mother, sister and wife, was unmixed agony—opium derivatives were administered only in extreme emergencies; and surgery was performed on the groaning victim, who was strapped to the table.
The books he had were printed a leaf at a time, on hand presses; later, foot-treadles speeded up the operation of impressing single pages against the type forms. Only in his later years had newspaper and magazine publishing enjoyed the advantage of speed roller presses.
If Frank ever saw a typewriter, he never used one—his last sermons in our possession, were written laboriously on page after page in longhand. He used steel pens only in later years—blotting paper and pen-wipers were standard equipment on every desk. In early life, he and his elders used goose quills, the butt end having been pared down to a fine point. Every page or two, this soft implement had to be sharpened—hence the use of the pen-knife. If he ever used a telephone, it was for an occasional call in Chicago of Milwaukee. He never saw a picture show. Barnstorming troupes of actors, good and worse, toured the country, and supplied whatever dramatic entertainment the population enjoyed. The magic lantern, using a large kerosene lamp for illumination, playing on glass slides, whose images were enlarged by two lenses like those in binoculars, were coming into vogue at the time of his death.
As a man in middle life, he saw the first gas-buggy which came to his town—he surely never rode in one. His first churches were some 7 miles apart; and he had a horse which took him from one to the other. In his last town, he borrowed Assemblyman Conger’s old mare Babe and buggy for his not-too-frequent country calls.
While by the gay 90’s, opticians were appearing in the cities, Frank never wore spectacles, nor did his aged father, who was able to read by the help of a hand magnifying glass.
In short, his world would seem to us, if we might be dropped down into it, as impossibly cumbersome and laborious. This feeble attempt to recreate our ancestor as he lived out his days, however, indicates that the really important factors of a successful and rewarding life; intelligence, consecration to his life’s goals, love and kindness, purity and sheer goodness, are in no way dependent on gadgets or conveniences. He was contented, since nobody else, at least in his set, was better provided for. It is more than probable that he and his friends in that simple and slowly-moving age, were actually richer than the ulcerate, jittery, driven moguls in their electronic penthouses. God grant that his progeny may operate in their sophisticated milieu, as usefully as he did in his.