Account of the HOLMES Family
And their settlement of South Richland, Oswego County, New York

Written by Rev. Jesse H. Jones
as published in the Pulaski Democrat from
September 12, 1900 to August 6. 1902


Part 4:

Chapter 24 - Their Nature In Their Doings

     The sort of capacities of the family and their power and reach were shown at their beat in what the several members were engaged in during the three years 1833, 34 and 35. I note their chief activities.
     John Holmes began, finished, and set agoing the great grist mill with the sluceway down to it; which was, according to its time, the largest individual enterprise ever undertaken in South Richland. September 1834 grandmother wrote Jesse, “your father is greatly driven with business. He has some town business to attend to today. He is building a large gristmill down the creek.”
     June 30, next year whe wrote, “Your father gets along alowly with his mill, but he thinks of getting it running next fall. He is calculating upon two run of burr stones, which will cost three hundred dollars.” These two were in addition to the one already in possession in the small one run of stone mill by the dam. By such ventured he appeared manifestly the formost man in South Richland.
     Elvira in the summer of 1833 taught school in Colosse. At the same time a Mr. Milton Harmon of Oswego came out and went into company with Mr. Tiffany for whom Jesse had clerked it. A son of Mr. H, named Herbert went to school to her, as he told me long after. When he was a young man he became my Sabbath school teacher in Oswego, 1845-7. He married a lovely lady who died in a month. Years after he became City Clerk of Oswego.
     In the winter of 1833-4 Elvira taught a family school in the Roosevelt family Central Square, as she had done two years before, and had All Electa, her sister, for an additional scholar. Of this occasion the latter writes, “I learned more in that winter than I ever did in any two winters before.” She was coming thirteen. The teacher finished her school in March, and returned home, contemplating a new enterprise.
     Early in February she had received a letter from her pastor of the year before, Rev. D.R. Dixon, who was then preaching in Belleville, U.C., now Ontario, conveying to her an offer from “six or seven responsible men that if you will come and teach their families, mostly young children of both sexes to the number of thirty, they they will bear your expenses over, assume the whole responsibility of the school, furnishing a room, firewood, etc., board you among themselves, and pay you one hundred dollars for a year.” This offer she accepted, and May 19th she was at the place beginning her school. It became a school for young misses, and continued a little more than a year.
     Jesse began as a clerk in New Orleans in February 1833, soon was in business for himself with a partner; and in November of the next year had bought out his partner, and was conducting a fairly prosperous business; and before the end of 1835 was a rising merchant with “a large stock of goods.”
     Esther, in spite of her poor health had shown a bold adventurous spirit, like her brother, by going to the salt water alone for her health, at a place called Pawcatuck in Rhode Island; had there much improved, and having returned home, had taught school in Uncle Hartley’s house, just opposite the saw mill.
     John Newton had gone to school in 1833 to the Union Academy, Belleville, Jefferson County; the winter of 1833-4 taught school in Ellisburg, went back to the Academy in the spring and graduated in August having an “oration” in the graduating exercises, his subject being “Foreign Emigration.” Then he went to Belleville, U. C., where Elvira was, and taught school.
     Grace Maria went to Cortland to school and in the spring of 1834 began her career as a painter by making portrait of Elvira which now stands near by, and looks down upon the scene where I write.
     Milton went to school at Mexico, as did his cousin Mary, eldest child of Horace, now Mrs. Dean, and before long Almon was there also. Such occupations show the kind of people that John and Grace Holmes reared in South Richland.
     But there occurred also this winter, the first wedding, and of this special mention must be made. Elvira writing to Jesse June 2nd, 1835 says, “Newton is married. I went home with him to attend the wedding. It was such a rare thing I though I could afford to travel 120 miles to attend the celebration. He was married on Christmas at three o’clock p.m. to Rebecca Johnson. Judge Johnson’s daughter” (of Fulton.)
     “We had a second day wedding at home; and most of our Uncles, Aunts and cousins were present and altogether we had an agreeable time.”  “We have returned to Belleville, being absent only two weeks. His wife is a fine woman and a first rate scholar, and we are all pleased.” They are “keeping house, and I ate my first meal with them this evening.”
     “Aunt Rebecca” was a strong, highbred, true woman, and one of the most compasionable and faithful friends this writer ever had. Dear, dear to the last will she ever be to me.

 Chapter 25 - The Second Wedding

     On Sabbath evening, June 14, 1835, Elvira Holmes was married in Belleville, U.C. to a Rev. Charles Jones. The train of events which led to this was briefly as follows:
     Mr. Jones, a young man, just entering upon the work of the ministry, had been laboring a short time in Brantford, a place in Canada some twenty-five miles west of Lake Ontario. By invitation of Rev. Mr. Dixon and others he had been induced to come to Belleville and hold a “protracted meeting.” He began preaching Wednesday evening, February 25, of that year; and continued two weeks, the meeting closing Wednesday, March 11, with “about forty converted,” and a “church formed of between thirty and forty members,” as Mr. Jones recorded in his diary. The following letter from the teacher gives a full account of the meeting from her viewpoint and can not, I should think, but be interesting. The heart piety and full consecration of the time are clearly manifested in it.
     Belleview, (U.C.) March 15, 1835.  Dear Home, I have a great deal of news to tell you; but angels have long ere this the same in heaven. I can not communicate a correct impression better, perhaps than by giving a detail of events that have taken place in a few weeks past. A little while after I wrote you last I became convinced of the folly of indulging gloomy feelings; and I surrendered myself again, with all my anxieties and cares and my future life, into the hands of my divine Redeemer, and my mind again became cheerful. In a few weeks the Episcopal Methodists held a protracted meeting, which was blessed to the conversion of a number of souls. Mr. Dixon, in the meantime, wrote to Mr. Jones, a minister at Brantford, who came two hundred miles to hold a meeting at Belleville, which commenced Wednesday evening, February 25, in the Episcopal Methodist place of worship. The meeting went on. I dismissed my school for Friday and Saturday. Mr. Jones preached  to the church, a little feeble, handful, mostly women.
     Saturday I began to think about dismissing my school the next week to spend my time; and I began now to feel my responsibility. I could not enter with my whole soul and labour and pray, and feel indifferent whether God heard and answered or not. And would he answer now? Will our efforts be owned and blessed? Oh my stupid soul! Why waste not thou all the time with thine ere on the promises, ready to take hold of them and claim the blessing? After thus debating awhile I concluded to venture and throw myself on the arm of the Lord with His cause that I had espoused. The trustees were willing, and our meeting went on.
     Every morning at ten o’clock Christians met to pray in my school room; while sinners met in the meeting room, not far distant, to converse with Mr. Dixon and Mr. Jones. And there we prayed and poured out our souls, and exercised ourselves to lay hold of the promises, to believe what the Savior had expressly said. Why have not we always believed it, and acted accordingly?
     Because He is God and not man He pardoned us, and heard us, and granted us special answers to our prayers. The converted (Here a score or so of persons are named.) Six scholars of my class at Sabbath School, girls between the ages of thirteen and sixteen, were among them. I was called up one night to go and pray with one of them. I went and found her in great agony; but she found the great Physician. The meeting continues two weeks and the last day a Presbyterian church was organized of more than forty members, including several who put themselves under the watch care of the church. The greatest part were young converts, and we celebrated the communion, in which we were joined by a large number of Methodist brethren and sisters.
     The converts are remarkably decided every one of them; and the community generally is awakened to consider the subject of religion. Methodist friends have cordially united with us in our labours and prayers; and as for myself, my soul is happy, and I feel greater confidence in coming to a mercy seat than I ever did before. I feel resolved by the help and grace of God, never to get into such a cold, backslidden state again. We have meetings on the Sabbath at present in Newton’s school room, and evening prayer meetings at my school room for young converts, and all pray. My school room is consecrated by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
     Give my love to all my friends; and Old Home take all the love I have for you to yourself, and distribute it equally around among your members.
      Elvira Holmes

     When this letter was written the newly formed church had “sent to the States for a minister;” but none came and finally in May Mr. Jones became its pastor, and continued so for more than a year, working in revivals in the regions around also.
     One result of the working together of the teacher and the minister which I announced at the beginning of this chapter. It took place on Sabbath evening in the hall where the public worship was held. “Father Smart of Brockville, a step father to Mr. Jones, preached in the afternoon. In the evening there was a prayer meeting, the two ministers being together on the platform. When the meeting was over Mr. Jones stepped down in front, his afflanced came forward, together they stood in the presence of the congregation, and so by “Father Smart” they were made husband and wife. Next morning they started with horse and carriage for the bride’s home in Richland. And while they were traveling we may note briefly the facts concerning the husband.
     Rev. Charles Jones was the second son and third child of Israel Jones, son of Israel Jones, Esq., the latter a large farmer, and the magistrate of the town of Williamstown, Massachusetts, where Williams College is. From the mansion of the Elder Israel on the farm about four miles south of the colleges, the outlook is broad and fine over the valley of the Housatonic River to the west and north and south, and when he died about ninety-two years old they buried him in the village burial ground where the large white tombstone set to his memory may yet be seen.
     The wife of the younger Israel Jones and mother of Charles, was Philena Foote of the Footes of Gill, a hill town next to Bernardston and Greenfield, having Northfield, Moodystown not far off. This Philena was own cousin to Roxana Foote the mother of Henry Ward Beecher; and they both were cousins, first or second, to Commodore A.H. Foote of the United States Navy, one of the notable officers on the Union side in the war of the rebellion. So the blood of two excellent Massachusetts families flowed in the veins of the husband.
     After three years in Williams College under President Griffin and Mark and Albert Hopkins, 1828-31, he had passed his fourth year at Union College, Schenectady, and graduated in 1832 under the celebrated President Nott. By a special favor of the college faculty he was given the place of principal of the high school in Penn Yan, Yates County, New York and beginning in June taught there five months. Then, November 25, he went to Auburn Theological Seminary, and continued till the last of April. June 11, 1833 he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of St. Lawrence County, New York at DeKalb. In September he was in Lee and Stockbridge, Massachusetts, engaged in revival work with his cousin, Rev. Horatio Foote; and then went to study under Professor Nathaniel W. Taylor, D.D. of New Haven, Connecticut, easily the formost theologian of his day in this country. After the most of a year there he went into western Upper Canada, and began work at Brantford as already told, where he continued for about three months from September 15th.  January 15th after, (1835) he was ordained by the Niagara Presbytery at Pelham, and so was inducted fully into the ministry; and six weeks later he came to Belleville as before related.
     On their way to the bride’s home going via Kingston. he preached in that place, Wednesday evening, and the last of the week they reached the hospitable farm house in Richland where a hearty welcome awaited them. Sabbath, June 21, he preached morning and afternoon for Father Robinson; and Tuesday evening in the Dewey school house. Then husband and wife returned to their field of labor in Belleview in time for the next Sabbath. There they resided for a year.
     On Tuesday, March 29, 1836, a baby boy was born to them, and they named him Jesse after her mother’s dear brother, who had just died in New Orleans of yellow fever, and Henry after Matthew Henry, the great commentator of the Bible. That afternoon Aunt Rebecca came in to see the mother and her child; and the first words of the mother were, with a gesture toward the child lying beside her on the bed, “There, Rebecca, that’s the purest happiness without _ that I have known in the world.” Those were the words of a true mother, as God would have a mother be.
      Another incident, related by Mrs. Mary Holmes Dean, daughter of Horace, and which took place the following autumn also illustrates the strong family affection in the Holmes people. She writes, “Your mother and Esther visited at my father’s and you were with them, a baby a few months old. They stayed all night. Two more devoted women over a baby I never saw. My mother said she could hardly tell which was the mother.” So was one first born loved on coming into this world.

 Chapter 26 - The Death Shadow Falls

     All that I have written of these recent events has been under the dark shadow of the impending death of Jesse. The foreboding of the family all came true. They never saw his face again. He ventured all and lost all, so far as this life is concerned. Not a letter came from him in 1836, but instead early in March came one in a strange handwriting with a black seal, which lies before me as I write. It was from his landlady, and told in full with kind hearted, motherly fidelity the sad story of his departure. The cause of his death this she describes.
     “I have no doubt the poor fellow fell a sacrifice for his good deeds; for about two months ago a Mr. Jinkings, his former partner, was taken sick in town and had spent all his money, and would have to go to the hospital. But Mr. Holmes went down, got a carriage, brought him up, took him into his store, employed a physician, nursed him himself until he died, which was the first of January. And Mr. Holmes was never perfectly afterwards, though he kept about; but I firmly believe he contracted the disease from him, (Mr. Jinkings); for he had the typhus fever.”
     What followed from this exposure the landlady relates as follows: “On the 20th of January (1836) he was seized with a fever in its most malignant form. We sent immediately for his most favorite physician,” who did not seem to understand the case. At any rate, “on Thursday, February 2nd. at three o’clock in the afternoon his happy spirit took its flight leaving many weeping friends standing around his bedside.”
     “When I told him, ‘Mr. Holmes the doctor thinks you won’t live, and that it is necessary you should settle your business,’ at first he seemed a little surprised. But he soon recovered himself and said, ‘The will of the Lord be done. I am in his hands, let him do what seemeth good in his sight.’ He begged me to write to his people and bid them farewell, and tell them to meet him in heaven. He said he had always felt thankful to his mother for her religious education, that it had brought him over many quicksand’s, where many young men had foundered. He was a young man in the prime of life, with the most flattering prospects before him, and everything to make life dear. Yes my dear friends, you have lost a good son and a good brother, one who would have done honor to any family. There is not a man in all of Lafayette (a part of New Orleans) that was more respected, and more regretted than your son. I never saw such a general interest manifested as there was in his behalf. But let us say as he said, ‘The will of the Lord be done.’ We sorrow not as those who have no hope. About half an hour before he died he said to me, ‘Do you know that I am dying?’ I said ‘Yes.’ Then he said, “Oh pray that God may give me an easy passage. Oh what a severe trait it will be to my dear mother and sisters. They so fondly anticipated seeing me once more. But the Lord will give them grace for their day and trial.’ He bade us all farewell and said to me, ‘Mrs. Tritt, I will remember you in heaven for your kindness to me.’ I said to him, ‘Oh Mr. Holmes, I shall be so lonesome when you are gone!’ He said to me, ‘Take the Bible for your companion, and Zimmerman in Solititude, and Dick on Philosophy. These three books I leave with you. I have found them my best companions. The Bible my father gave me when I left home. I have not read it as much as I ought, but I have read it a great deal. Send the other books to my parents and all my letters and papers, when you have a direct opportunity.’ He had a very handsome funeral, the best herse and many carriages. Rev. Mr. Parker attended it. He was put into a tomb with a marble stone; and I assure you my dear friends that everything has been done that could have been done had you been here.”
     “He had boarded at my home about six months, and I never saw a young man of more exceptional character. We feel his loss very much.”
     The Mr. Parker above referred to was Rev. Joel Parker, D.D., who had been his pastor for more than a year and who wrote a long letter home to grandfather, from which I quote. When he first heard of Mr. Holmes’s illness, he was informed that “he could not survive many hours” he “repaired immediately to his lodgings,” and by his desire conversed with him on religion and prayed with him. Mr. Holmes spoke “of the early instructions,” and, confessed that “he died in the faith of his mother, and trusted only in the grace of God in Christ.”
     “He did not appear alarmed or distressed in view of death, and said little of religious friends or influence except as connected with his mother. I hope and trust, that that mother’s prayers were heard on his behalf. It may gratify you to be informed that his conduct has always been very correct, and that he was much respected as an upright young man by his acquaintance here.”
     The face of that mother looks down upon me as I write; and I can not but hope that she has found him and that they are together forever in the eternal peace. And there is large ground for that hope. If ever one generation could give a message from that age to the present one in the following extract from a letter of Jesse’s, which his mother so highly esteemed that she copied it with her own hand. It shows the true worth of faithful parents. The letter was dated “New Orleans September, 1835,” only about four months before he died, and is as follows:
     “I think if ever a man was blest with kind parents, brothers, sisters, friends, I am. I never think of home even in my most ambitious moments, and when I am forming schemes of future wealth and greatness, but the thoughts of home have a talismanic effect upon me. The recollection throws me back to the scenes of my childhood, and causes my blood to rush with redoubled quickness to my heart. Then come the expostulations the councils, the advice, the remonstrance’s and tears of my mother, when with boyish waywardness I would cause her trouble, and then with equal stubbornness would not make reparation to her feelings, when I knew I had caused her anxiety and tears.
     It is the instructions, advice and counsel of my parents that have supported me through many trials and temptations; and when I have felt that all would be lost, and would incline to abandon the ship to wind and waves, they have risen before my mind as pillars of support and a compass to guide me, and then home has appeared the haven toward which I was steering, and which I should not have reached without their assistance, and I have then resolved that for their sakes if for not my own, I would endeavor to outride the storm. Recollect that I speak of worldly concerns alone. There is still a great first cause that guides and directs all things.
    Do not infer from the above that I am over anxious to get rich; because I am not. I have seen enough of this world to convince me that ‘all is vanity and vexation of spirit,’ that there ‘is no real profit under the sun;’ and if riches should produce that change of feeling in me which it does in some, God grant I may never be rich. I have seen many persons, who, had they remained poor, would have been called amiable and charitable. But riches corrupt them, and made them proud and naughty, overbearing and cruel. Had I known as much once as I do now I would never have come here. But now I am here, I may as well remain here, as to go anywhere else.”
     Along with the above, as showing Jesse’s mind and character, I would give what Esther quoted from a letter of his written in November after he first went to New Orleans, and has just recovered from a relapse from yellow fever. He wrote: “But God in His providence saw fit to afflict me still more. I got out, and was able to attend to my business about a week, when I took cold, and was taken with a relapse which carried me to the borders of the grave. Mrs. Hudson took me under her care again, and after a fortnight’s severe sickness, I again recovered but reduced to a perfect skeleton. I thought it very probable, when I was taken, that I should never recover, as very few ever do recover from a relapse. Being already emaciated with sickness, they are ill able to undergo the ravings of another attack, which is always more severe than the first.
     It would be difficult to tell you how I felt in the prospect of death, only I felt calm. I thought I could leave this world without a regret except that I was far away from home. I felt that I could bow my head in submission and say, ‘God, thy will be done.’ I do not know that I have met with what is called a change of heart; but I felt that God was near and supported me in that trying hour. I feel truly thankful for all His favors so far; and feel more confidence to press forward for I feel that He has reserved me for greater things than I have yet seen.”
     Well might Esther comment on this as follows: “Has not the Lord answered our prayers concerning that dear brother? Oh what feelings I have had since I heard from him. To think that he has joined me in our pathway to heaven. Yes, I think he is among that number who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the lamb.” And we who remain may well join with Aunt Esther in that sweet hope.
     Concerning his estate it may be proper to say that although he had “a very large stock of goods,” and “a good friend and upright man” was made executor, yet the methods there of forced “sales at auction” with “enormous fees” resulted in the creditors hardly getting their dues.
     A half century after and more, two events happened, most intimately connected with this man, which have to me a high romantic interest. New Orleans had a great southern exposition some years ago, and S.N. Holmes, Esq., youngest child of John and Grace. attended it. And this is what he tells happened.
     “I was walking the levee, and looking for the place where Jesse’s store must have stood, and inquiring of anybody I happened to meet about such a store, and I met a man from New England who must have been about as old as Jesse, and who knew him.”
     “In finding his grave I made inquiry at the cemetery office, and learned that he was buried in the Protestant cemetery. Going there I found the man who had charge and looked up the name Holmes, and found the number of the tomb. Then I went to the place where the number was and found the tomb intact.”
     “The way about the tomb was this. The earth was so wet that bodies could not be buried in it. So the city built brick vaults on the outer circuit of the cemetery and sold them at $50 each to anybody that wanted. There were five or six stories to each vault, each story for a body. When a vault was used it was bricked up and a number put on and the record made. The city had charge of it, and a marble slab was set into the brick. So it was with the place where Jesse was buried, except that the marble had been stolen; but the bricking up had never been disturbed. Whoever stole the marble got it to turn the other face out, smooth it and cut another name on it and sell it at full price, getting the marble for nothing. So I found things and so I left things and I was glad to get that.”
     The other event touches a deep sorrow. In his letters to his sisters Elvira and Esther, Jesse wrote of a young lade they and he knew. Some years ago, so it was reported, that young lady died at about seventy-eight years of age, having never married. Her heart was buried in that tomb; and just as it was with Catherine Beecher, eldest child of Lyman, and eldest sister of Henry Ward, so did this loving woman’s heart cherish faithfully to the end of a long life the memory of him whom she so deeply loved.

     Chapter 27 - Various Incidents

     The last of June 1836 Rev. Charles Jones left Belleview, U.C. and brought his wife and son to her father’s house, where they lived for a few months while he looked about for a place to preach. Probably during this period occurred the following incident.
     One Sabbath forenoon, as the family were going to church, a neighbor stepping aside, doffed his hat and said, “I take off my hat to four generations.” Let us note the carriage and the company.
     The carriage was a two horse lumber wagon, the ordinary, long box farm wagon. In the back end was a double chair with splint bottom and back, in which sat Elder Jesseniah and his wife Olive. Next was another like chair, in which sat Grace Holmes and her daughter Elvira with her son in arms, and in front sat John Holmes and his son Newell. These were the four generations.
     I saw the chairs in 1841, and remember them distinctly, as I think I never saw any like them; and when I spoke to John Erskine about them, he said that his father, Mr. Solomon Erskine, made them, as he did many others in the region at that time. The contrast between the carriages of then and now is quite as great as some other contrasts I have noted.
     This autumn Grace Maria obtained a school at Evans Mills, and lived with her cousin Clarinda, who married Rev. Mr. Tillinghast, and he was now pastor of the Baptist church there.
     In November, Rebecca began to attend Mrs. Willard’s ladies seminary at Troy, New York, the most celebrated at that time in the land. The following spring she obtained for Grace Maria a special chance to attend there, which put the latter into a fever of anxiety to get the means to accept. This she expressed in a letter to her father which burns with her desire to borrow fifty dollars of him on her note. She for the money and went. From that time she took care of herself and laid by money until her death. When I reach that time I will give an estimate of her character.
     The last of August, 1837 Newton and Rebecca began a school in New Brunswick, New York which they conducted successfully for four years.
     Milton, while attending school at the Mexico academy had made the acquaintance of a Miss Cornelia P. Whipple, and March 15, 1838, they were married and came to his home to live. In no way can I give so good an account of this year as by quoting from a family letter written the last of June to Newton and Rebecca at New Brunswick.
     Grandmother writes: “Grandfather and grandmother are as usual. Your father and I enjoy tolerable good health this summer. The rest of the children that are home are well except Ann Electa. Her health is poor and has been ever since last winter.”
     “Milton takes care of the farm, hires Almon and Newell, keeps 20 cows and makes 50 lbs of cheese a day. We built a milk room. Milton hires Lorinda Burdick, and we get along by the great wheels turning the little ones. I suppose you know that Providence sent back from Maumee, Ohio, Mr. Jones and family back to Adams last spring. Esther is yet behind, and so I have some mercies and some afflictions. [explained later.] I have not heard from Grace this summer. I think of her this hot weather.” (She was teaching in Virginia, south of Portsmouth.)
     Grandfather writes, “We have commenced building a meeting house at the Mills, and it has nearly divided the church. Mr. Richards opposes with all his might, and has influenced the brethren east, (that is on the Old Salt Road,) on his side. Some others stand neuter. So we have put it off for the present. Deacon Wood is setting up his business at the Mills.”
     Ann writes of her desire to accept of the invitation which Newton and Rebecca had given her to go into their school at New Brunswick, and which was gratified in the fall; and then she says, “Milton has brought home one of the most beautiful women that you can imagine. She has not only handsome features, but a most excellent mind and good education. She is a great deal of company for me. Almon and I attended his wedding, and stood up with them.”
     Aunt Cornelia always deserved these words and even more. Among her mental gifts was a remarkable memory, in which she surpassed any person I ever knew. To her and Milton a daughter was born next year (1839) whom they named Elvira, after mother. The next year, (1840) in the spring, they moved into their new house on the road to “The Mills,” where it yet stands, old, neglected, weather-beaten; but the maples all a row by the road have grown to great size, and are flourishing.
     As I have before related Elvira, Mrs. Rev. Charles Jones, came home the last of June, 1836 with her babe, while her husband looked about for a place to preach. In December they were located in Adams, Jefferson County, where Mr. Jones occupied the pulpit of the Presbyterian church with great acceptance for about eight months. In the autumn of the next year, 1837, he moved with his family to Maumee City, Ohio, on Lake Erie. The contrast between journeying then and now is so great that the wife’s account of the trip, written to her parents just after her arrival, seems to me likely to be of special interest; and so I give it with a few dates added to make it plainer.
     “Maumee City, September 19, 1837.  Dear Parents: We had a pleasant day to Syracuse, where we arrived about 5 o’clock. We remained there until Monday morning (September 11) early, when we took a line boat (on the Erie Canal). In a short time it began to rain; whereupon the passengers came flocking down into the cabin, which was soon crowded. We found there were two families of six children each, besides a number of babies in the cabin; and that in all there were on board twenty-six children between the ages of fourteen years and six months. I thought we must be as good humored as possible as some of the children were quite noisy, besides two or three babies that cried night and day. It rained twenty-four hours, and then cleared up; and we had a more comfortable time.”
     As I rode in such a boat part of the way over the same route from Syracuse to Bergen, almost exactly six years later, let me give the size and appearance of the cabin. It was about fifty feet long and fifteen feet wide. A table was extended the whole length through the middle three times a day for meals. The rest of the time it was folded up. There were tiers of bunks, three I believe, one above the another, on both sides. But when they were all full, and the floor was covered as thick as they could lie, I do not see how in so small a space they stowed away the twenty-six children and all the grown folks too. And then with all that crowded the cabin the rain was pouring down overhead outside. What a relief came with the clear up of the weather next day. But to resume.
     “We arrives in Buffalo Thursday morning, (seventy-two hours from Syracuse, and that was the best that then existed in that region). Found that the boat (steam) we expected to go in had been detained and was irregular. Held a consultation as to whether we should wait for her to go on in a new boat, the “Constitution” then lying at the wharf, and going out in the evening. On Monday and Tuesday there had been a severe storm on the lake, and now the weather was fine, with a prospect of its remaining so. So we concluded it was best to go now, put our things on board and left Buffalo just after sunset, with probably a thousand passengers. Every nook and corner of an immense boat was filled, so that one could scarcely move without treading on somebody. The ladies’ cabin was filled, and the floor covered with beds; and I kept constantly thinking what a dreadful place it would be in a storm with everybody seasick. The lake was as smooth as a pond, and not one on board was sick. We landed at Toledo about three o’clock, Saturday afternoon, September 16; and in the evening came to this place, having had a very safe and prosperous journey.” From “early Monday morning” to “three o’clock Saturday afternoon” to go by the best conveyance there was from Syracuse, New York to Toledo, Ohio, and now it is done every day in ten hours. Such is one of the changes covered by the life time of this writer.
     February 3, a son was born who was named Charles after his father, and Crammer after the Archbishop of Canterbury who was burned at the stake by “Bloody Mary.”
     The situation had proved very unsatisfactory, and Mr. Jones soon after returned to Onondaga County, New York where he engaged in powerful revivals. In April he went back to Adams, and early in May, probably Monday the 7th, Mrs. Jones with her two children started for home alone on a steamer, Esther remaining back for about a year. The following letter to Esther giving the account of the trip will be of special interest, I am sure.
     “Adams, New York, May 18th, 1838.  Dear Sister: I fear you feel quite uneasy about me by this time, but I write as soon as I could. Last night I arrived at this place, and the people manifested as much affection as is possible both by words and actions. I suppose a detailed account of my journey will best satisfy you.
     There were no ladies on board, except Miss Beckwith and myself. So you see I have plenty of room, and no danger of discommoding any one by the children. The first night we lay at Toledo. The next day was very rough, and I was so sick I could not sit up nor take care of my children. But the cabin girl was kind, and had no others to attend to. Henry was sick a little at first, but lay very quietly in the berth al day. We did not reach Sandusky this day, but anchored near an island, and we had in little time three other steamboats and six schooners for neighbors. The next day there was a heavy swell, which subsided towards noon, and we went on very pleasantly. The captain had taken in sufficient store of wood, and we were making all speed for Buffalo, expecting to be there in the morning,
     In the evening Mr. Richardson was in the cabin, and we were talking over arrangements for prosecuting the remainder of our journey, when suddenly we felt a most tremendous shock, and one exclaimed, “We are aground.” I turned to the cabin girl and asked her if the sensation was anything like being aground, (as she had told us that they ran aground the trip before.) She replied, “Yes,” but said afterwards she “well knew it was something very different, but said “yes” to prevent any further alarm.” Mr. Richardson ran to see what was the matter, and came back and said, “Another boat has run into us, and we are sinking.” My children were both asleep. I caught up the babe, and asked him to take Henry. I took my bag, thinking if we were saved I should want my money. When we got to the door they told us we had better go back into the cabin. We were in no danger. I replied, “I want to know the truth.” But the groans of the wounded and the confusion and darkness made me in favor of remaining in the cabin. I dressed the children as well as I could, and sat down. We could feel the boat rock with the swell. We were told we had better go on deck. I took the babe and basket, and started to go up. The boat was so much careened over on one side that the stairs were nearly if not quite perpendicular. However I got up with much difficulty, and thought by the slope of the deck we should certainly capsize; I am not sure but the captain thought so too, for he ordered all hands on the upper side.
     We were endeavoring to get along side of the other boat, and were now quite near; but being on the upper deck, I saw no other way of getting on board but by first throwing my children into the arms of some of those there, and jumping myself. But we were soon lashed alongside, and went below and walked on a plank from our boat to the other. It was a thankful moment when I knew myself and children safe on the other boat. It was an hour after the accident before this was effected. I had time to think. I had no clearer nor more definite views of the spiritual world than I now have; but thought it was probable that I should soon be an inhabitant of it. I tried silently to commend my soul into the hands of my Redeemer, and felt that if my hope was not on the right foundation there was no time to change now.
     When I was on board the other boat I found it full of passengers, and great alarm and agitation in the ladies cabin. A berth was provided for my children, neither of whom had made a particle of noise during the whole time. After putting them in bed, Henry’s first inquiry was, “Where’s little brother?” And he would not be satisfied until he rose up and saw for himself that he was in bed with him. We arrived at Erie at 12 o’clock that night. Went up to a tavern and went to bed in the third or fourth story. I arose early, snatched up the children again, went on board another steamer, the Anthony Wayne, and arrived at Buffalo at half past 4 p.m. The captain of a packet came on board for passengers. I went with him but had not been on board a half an hour before we were run in-between two boats, and wedged so tightly that the horses had to be put on to the stern of the boat (to pull it back) before we could get out again. However we arrived safely at Rochester Saturday afternoon. I went immediately to Mr. Boardman’s where I met with a very welcome resting place until Tuesday morning, when we took the Oneida for Oswego.
     My nerves had become quite sensitive. Tuesday was a beautiful day, and contrasted strongly with Erie, which had been lashed by the wind till it looked like a mud puddle. But I felt a constant sense of danger. I went on deck, and was standing near the wheel-house, when suddenly there began a tremendous clattering. I immediately exclaimed, “What is the matter now?” And soon learned that a stick of wood had got in and demolished several buckets before it was got out. I soon went into the cabin, and directly there was a terrible creaking of the boat. I saw by the anxious glance of the cabin girl that it was something unusual. We soon learned that one of the engines stopped from excessive friction, the boat being propelled by two. It seemed as if I never should get home. However, we arrived at Oswego safely. I put up at the Staatses; and the next morning went home in the stage. Our people are much as usual. I think grandfather (Elder Jesseniah) is much worse than I ever saw him before. Grandmother fails too. Milton’s wife is a sweet pretty girl of about nineteen, who has devoted all her energies to obtain an education and possesses nothing of the good things of this world. But I told mother that I thought Milton has the best bargain after all. She is a Christian.”
     The damaged steamer from which mother escaped did not sink, but was towed by the other into the harbor.
     The “Oneida” was a small walking-beam engine steamer, which still ran as a passenger steamer in 1844, when we went to Oswego to live, and later I used often to see it from the window of my room in our house. In 1845 or 46 when the new “Niagara” was put on, the Oneida became a tow boat.
     The “Staatses” in Oswego were Barent Staats and wife, who had been our strong friends in Belleville, and had now settled in Oswego. They were two noble persons.
     Milton’s wife still lives, and has always been worthy of the high esteem mother expressed for her.
     So much for the letter.
     The family boarded with Dr. and Mrs. Webb, and father was again preaching as pastor of the Presbyterian church there. On the 25th of the month (May) just a week after the above letter was written, another event occurred of special importance to the writer. There was in the kitchen floor an opening to a cistern, having a curbing round it about a foot high. I saw the place, with Mrs. Webb herself to show me in the autumn of 1856. The cistern was nearly full, the cover happened to be off, for a moment no one was in the room, and the two years old boy, spying the opening and running up to gaze down into the unknown, lost his balance initially and pitched headlong into the water. Providentially at the same instant Mrs. Webb happened to be passing in the next room, and saw the skirts and feet flying up as the child went down, and running to the spot seized him ere he sank and pulled him out. I remember her appearance as she seized me.
     It was indeed a providence. It was only by the time of a wink of an eye that the child was saved. Had Mrs. Webb passed but one second sooner or later there would have been no one to write this history. Thus to be twice rescued from peril of death in one month was the fortune of the writer of these words.

 Chapter 28 - The Death Angel Seizes Away The Most Beloved One

     In the midst of the disturbed conditions and changing events of 1838 mother wrote, “The scenes of my life pass in rapid succession, and almost every one has a catastrophe came on space and swiftly fell.
     Father greatly desired to devote himself to holding protracted meetings, and that he might carry out this desire, in the autumn of that year he moved his family to Fayetteville, Onondaga County, where the March before he had held a meeting of extraordinary power. For a year they lived there, father working in several places effectually, one of them being Manlius. The last of April 1839 there came a very bright day to them, when the people of Fayetteville and Manlius made them a donation party and brought over a hundred dollars in gifts, the greater part being cash.
     Just as the summer ended, on Monday, August 26th, father, as he wrote, “left her (mother) and my two boys well to attend Presbytery in Jefferson County.” He returned Wednesday, September 4 and found his “companion sick with billions fever. This was broken up, but was immediately followed by scarlet fever.”
     During her sickness her mind was calm and composed. She was apparently conscious from its first stages that she should never recover. Three days before her death she sought an opportunity of conversing with her husband in relation to the ground of her hope, and the disposition that should be made of her soon to be motherless children.
     “In reference to her hope she said, “I have carefully reviewed my life and the ground of my hope, and though doubts at first arose, still on the whole I feel that it is founded on the Rock, and will stand in the day of trial.”
     “In speaking of her absent friends, some of whom were without hope, she said, “were they now here I could convince them that heaven is a reality.” While on the verge of Eternity, while time was receding from her view, and eternity approaching, she felt an unutterable assurance of the truth and reality of eternal things. She said, “This is an extraordinary day to me.”
     “So rapid was the progress of the disease that she was soon unable to articulate or give utterance to the deep emotions of her soul. A little before her ransomed spirit took its flight she revived, and was able to say to her father and sister, who had just arrived from a distance, “Make religion your chief business for  life.” She left a similar message for other surviving relatives, and then fell sweetly asleep in the arms of her God and Savior.

 Note
     On a visit to Aunt Cornelia, (Mrs. Milton Holmes), who lives at 83 in New Jersey, she told me the following incidents concerning the death of my mother.
     To the woman who took care of her in her sickness she said, referring to her own folks, “I shall live until they come.”
     Again, to the same woman she said, “Do you not see that person standing there by my bed? It is an angel come to bear my spirit home.” Oh, may an angel stand by my bed to bear my spirit home to her when I depart.
     During the afternoon she lay in a stupor just breathing, but when grandfather and Esther came she roused up and knew them; and besides the message given above, to Esther’s question, “How is your hope now?” her answer was, “On the Rock, Christ.”

     “During her few months residence in this village she had endeared herself to a large circle of friends, in whose hearts her memory is embalmed. Her kindness and sympathy for the sick and afflicted will never be forgotten. Her example will live in their recollection, and we hope, be the pattern of their future lives. In her death her husband is bereft of an amiable and devotedly pious companion of his toils in the ministry of reconciliation, her little sons of a tender and praying mother and the church of one of its brightest ornaments and most active members.”
     In the obituary from which the above sayings are taken there is also the following very just tribute to her character and worth.
     “Mrs. Jones had a vigorous and well balanced mind, great fortitude, and an uncommonly firm constitution. Her acquisitions in all the usual branches of female education were of a high order. While a youth at school she excelled in every branch upon which she entered. She possessed in an uncommon degree the rare talent of bringing all her acquisitions to subserve the great, practical duties of the companion, mother, and Christian. During her short married life she became the mother of two sons, whom she early dedicated to God, in whose covenant faithfulness she trusted for their salvation.
     “She was called in divine providence, with her husband, to several different fields of labor, in all of which she was uniformly beloved and esteemed. It was manifestly her aim to do good in the station she was called to occupy. Though like the wives of other ministers, she was pressed with domestic cares, yet she found time to go about doing good. She sought out opportunities of usefulness, objects of affliction and want, with which to sympathize, and on whom to bestow her charity. For some days previous to her last sickness she was almost constantly engaged in administering to the sick and suffering. She ever felt it a pleasure to spend and be spent for the honor of Christ and the benefit of the needy and perishing.
     “Few possessed a happier talent to commend the claims of the gospel to the consciences of the irreligious and unbelieving. Few felt more strongly and abidingly that the great end of life is to glorify God and do good to our fellowmen. From the time she entered upon the responsible station which she so worthily filled, her piety gradually assumed a more decided, active and uniform character. And especially during the last year of her life we can now see her final account and glorious reward at his right hand.”
     As to the coming of “her father and sister.” Word had been sent to the family at home in South Richland, and grandfather and Esther, who loved her as her own life, set off early Tuesday morning to go to her. Esther had the deep, sure premonition that death was certain; and the anguish of that ride as she impressed it upon me long afterwards can not in anywise be told. Mother died about 4:30 p.m., but they were in time for a brief meeting before that event.
     How she was loved by the whole family, a single incident illustrates. The last letter of grandmother’s known to exist, written only four months before her death, begins as follows:
     “Holmesville, September 10, 1858.  Mr. Dear Children:  Nineteen years ago Elvira left this troublesome world for a better and more peaceful one.”
     So long after that disease the heart of the mother clung to the memory of her first-born, that daughter of so high grade and so exceptional a character.
     Aunt Esther showed her devotion by going in the following winter, when all was frozen, removing the remains and burying them in the family lot in the well known graveyard on the road to Albion, where so many of the kin lie buried. They lie on the north side of the lot next to where, long afterwards, the bodies of her parents were laid. Oh that there was a place beside her for one more!
     If a word of the writer’s own self is admissible he would say that the reading of the letters and thinking through the events have awakened in him almost as overwhelming a sense of the loss and the grief at mother’s departure as if he had experienced it now as it was then. Not half her natural term of life had been lived, and all those high and noble gifts were so suddenly quenched.
     One circumstance of the sickness deserves special mention. As Washington was bled to death beyond question, so was it with mother. Twice was the precious fluid taken from her, and she thus weakened, so as to be unable to resist the disease. The doctors did not intend it so, but they did not know any better. As I saw such bleeding done twice in the autumn of 1843, and few who will read this have ever seen such an event, I will describe it, that all may know the barbarous ignorance which lasted down to so recent times.
     The victims were my second mother, who, grandmother Holmes said, did better by us (my brother and I) than our own mother could have done, and her mother. What was done was precisely the same in both cases, and by the same doctor; and was what was then quite the customary thing to do. He bared the arm close to the shoulder, and then well above the elbow he fastened a tourniquet so that the knot would bind upon a vein and altogether stop the flow of blood in it. Then, all being thus made ready, with a quick motion he thrust the keen lancet into the vein below the tourniquet and withdrew it, when a thin steady stream of dark red blood came forth, which he caught in a bowl. When the bowl was about a third full, he loosed the tourniquet, the stream of blood ceased, and he bandaged the arm do that it would heal. He also directed that the bowl with the blood in it be set away in the cupboard for while, when he would examine it, and see what he could learn about the disease from such inspection. Thus the very fluid of life was drawn from the veins of the sick to help them get well; and it being so done to my mother in her severe sickness, her death was thereby made sure, no matter how the doctor meant it otherwise.

 Chapter 29 - The Character Of The Deceased

     It is fair to judge a person by the impression that person makes on the community. In this view, Elvira Holmes Jones belonged to the highest grade of human beings. She was a person of striking beauty of form and feature. Her face was a fine and delecate oval, the upper part being especially marked with strength and intellectual force. Her complexion was tinted with a rich roseate bloom, rarely seen in a human face. Aunt Cornelia (Mrs. Milton Holmes) has been emphatic in speaking of this; and also of another feature. Mother had a dimple in her chin and one in each cheek; and when in conversation she smiled, Aunt said it seemed as if dimples played all over her face. So, naturally, she accounted her beautiful and very attractive in speech and manner.
     In summing up mother’s gifts and estimating her character, I further quote her brother Almon’s estimate of her. He wrote, “Your mother was a model woman from a child, in form, feature, disposition, size, complexion, expression, intelligence, judgement.”
     Above all else among her characteristics she was a person of high moral and spiritual nature, one in whom uprightness and good conduct were instinctive. Asperation after the best the world has known was the fundamental impulse of her being.
     Then she was of exceptional intellect, of masterly mind and varied powers, as the “premiums” she received at Clinton, and her career as a teacher showed.
     Moreover, she was a person of fine artistic tastes, which she manifested in the pictures and other art work she made, in her aptitude for personal adornment, and in her souavity and good manners; so that wherever she was in society her bearing was characterized by elegance, brightness and courtesy which won all hearts.
     As such a person she was most highly esteemed and universally loved, abd my words which follow, however they may seem in cold type to those of this generation who have known nothing of her, are nethertheless only the fair and just estimates of her high character.
     From the many expressions made to  me by both kin and others through a series of years, there was long ago formed in my mind a single saying into which the substance of them is all condensed, and which I would wish to engrave on a moment set by her grave:
     SHE WAS THE MOST HIGHLY ESTEEMED PERSON IN ALL THE REGION ROUND.
     I offer an evidence of this which I think will be accepted as conclusive by every sober mind. Though she had lived in Fayetteville less than a year, so deeply had she impressed the community with the weight, the dignity, the sweetness, and high worth of her character, that as the expression of the estimation the community, a young man dwelling there wrote it as it were spontanously and instinctively, the following tribute to her memory on the sixth day after her death. The printed copy from which this was taken was givem to me by Mrs. E.D. Ferrris, of Mexico, when she was past ninety-five years of age, as a memento of my mother. It was clipped from the Pulaski paper of the time when it was written; and had been treasured by Mrs. Ferris for sixty years; and her kindness to me in this matter is gratefully acknowledged.
     “From the Fayetteville Luminary.  Eulegy.  (On the death of Mrs. Elvira Jones, formerly of this town (Richland). Published by request.)   By P. Kent
     I saw her often. At her quiet home she was domestic grace personified. The warm affections of her heart flowed out. To the loved partner of her fireside joys. As full as free as changeless and as pure, As erat they flowed upon her repousal mourn. I saw her in the social circle, There with manners easy, unassuming, bland, Yet dignified; with unobstructive speech. In conversation most intellegent; With matron dignity and maiden grace, she was a pattern to the old and young, worthy their imitation and their love. I saw her in the sanctuary. There she seemed to sit aloft, above the world, her thought communing with eternal things, she sought and prized it as the house of God; The proximate portal to the home in Heaven. With every act of worship in God’s house, Whether of prayer, or praise, or giving thanks. The warm responses of her heart did chime in unison, when the embassador of Christ stood up to preach the truth of God as from the speaker’s lips each sentence fell. Her prayers ascend to the Throne of Grace That God would bless his own eternal truth, and save from sin and from the second death apostale man for whom a Savior died. Benevolence ne’er claimed her aid in vain, and virtue’s cause she pled with eloquence. Her Christian sympathies in the behalf of the forlorn, benighted and oppressed. True as the needle to the pole were moved, and oft she sought the chamber of the sick, and to their wants her hand would minister; or smooth the pillow on the bed of pain with kinder word or with a gentler hand. I saw her last just in the prime of life. The rose of perfect health was on her cheek, her ardent mind was boyant with hope, A Savior’s love was kindled in her breast. Her bosom glowed with love to human kind, her mind was strong to will her hand to do the work that is to saints on earth assigned. And then me thought hers is a happy lot. Her path illuminated by the light divine, with such an earthly friend to cheer her on, a spiritual guide to solve each doubt, (her spouse preclaimed the messages of grace) with gifts of nature and of grace endued, she seemed well circumstanced for doing good. I went my way, mused on the gracious case, the Great Head of the Church vouchafes to take, of his Church millitant, in drawing thus with cords of love the young and beautiful from folly’s way, to walk in wisdom’s path, and magnify his name and serve him here, and bless the Church on earth and bless the world. I’ve just returned from absence brief. But Hark! From yonder lofty spire that points to heaven the knell funeral everberates. Tis for the last obsequies of the dead. Silent and slow I follow the train, to aid in mournful rites of sepulture. But who reposes in the narrow house? Tis she who scarce one week before I saw, so strong in health, so bouyant with hope, so full of promise, life, and light, and truth. She met, she grappled with the monster death, the victory won, then burst her prison house and born on wings seraph took her flight up to the blissful Paradise of God. Me think I hear a voice from yonder tomb; Look up to God and make not flesh your arm, and set thine house in order, be prepared; this night thy soul may be required of thee.    Fayetteville, New York September 16, 1839.”
     This trubute merely as a poem seems to me to have decided merit, and as bringing out its real signifiance may I not be pardoned for asking, Where can there be found another such tribute in a village newspaper? And the rerity of the tribute in some degree measures the high and rare quality of the character which called it forth. And if it shall effect the reader according to its merrits as they appear to me, a fairly adequate sense of the character and worth of her who was so deeply, widely and tenderly loved will have been conveyed to the people of this time.
     The first of October, Rev. Charles Jones took Henry to Brockville to live with the father’s parents. The way in part was by steamer from Oswego to Morristown. I well remember being lifted over the side of the steamer at that place, (it did not touch at Brockville) in the darkness of a mild October night down into a row boat, and being rowed across the river about two miles to that village where those grandparents lived, and where I was left for a season. Having returned the next week to Fayetteville, on Wednesday, the 9th, he makes this record:
     “Today dear little Charles went with his grandpa Holmes and Aunt Esther to Richland. So in one short month we as a family are broken up and scattered. The Lord has done it.”
     So passed from human sight this precious life, the memory of which will be dearly treasured while a life that shared in her life remains.

  Continue to Part 5
 


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