of the HOLMES Family
settlement of South Richland, Oswego County, New York
by Rev. Jesse H. Jones
in the Pulaski Democrat from
12, 1900 to August 6. 1902
Chapter 24 - Their Nature
In Their Doings
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.
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.”
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.
in the summer of 1833 taught school in Colosse. At the same time a Mr.
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.
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.
February she had received a letter from her pastor of the year before,
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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”
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.”
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.
25 - The Second Wedding
evening, June 14, 1835, Elvira Holmes was
in Belleville, U.C. to a Rev. Charles Jones.
The train of events which led to this was briefly as follows:
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.
(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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
26 - The Death Shadow Falls
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
boarded at my home about six months, and I never saw a young man of more
exceptional character. We feel his loss very much.”
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.”
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.”
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:
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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
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.
27 - Various Incidents
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
of August, 1837 Newton and Rebecca began a school in New Brunswick, New
York which they conducted successfully for four years.
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.
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
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.)
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.”
steamer from which mother escaped did not sink, but was towed by the other
into the harbor.
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.
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.
wife still lives, and has always been worthy of the high esteem mother
expressed for her.
for the letter.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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
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.
woman who took care of her in her sickness she said, referring to her own
folks, “I shall live until they come.”
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.
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.”
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.”
obituary from which the above sayings are taken there is also the following
very just tribute to her character and worth.
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.
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.
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
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:
September 10, 1858. Mr. Dear Children: Nineteen years ago
Elvira left this troublesome world for a better and more peaceful one.”
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
was of exceptional intellect, of masterly mind and varied powers, as the
“premiums” she received at Clinton, and her career as a teacher showed.
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
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.
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:
THE MOST HIGHLY ESTEEMED PERSON IN ALL THE REGION ROUND.
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
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.”
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.
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:
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.”
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