Ode to Rhoda Farrand
Morris Co. Up


From Bridging  the Years in Denville by C.M. toeLaer we have a story in rhythm that reveals much concerning the life and time of the people during the Revolutionary War.

Ode to Rhoda Farrand

In the last of these Centennial days,
Let us sing a song, to a woman's praise;
How she proved herself in that time of strife,
Worthy of being a patriot's wife
A little woman she was -- not young,
But ready of wit and quick of tongue;
One of the kind of which Solomon told;
Setting their price above rubies and gold.
A memory brave clings around her name.
"Twas Rhoda Farrand, and worthy of fame.
Though scarce she dreamed, 'twould be woven in rhymes,
In these -- her grand-daughter's, daughter's times.
Just out of the clamor of war's alarms,
Lay in tranquil quiet the Jersey farms;
And all of the produce in barn and shed
By the lads and girls was harvested.
For the winds of Winter with storm and chill
Swept bitterly over each field and hill.
Her husband was with the army, and she
Was left on the farm at Parsippany,
When she heard the sound of a horse's feet,
And Marshall Doty rode up the street;
Help used for a moment, and handed down
A letter for Rhoda from Morristown,
In her husband's hand -- how she seized the sheet;
The children came running with eager feet;
There was Nate and Betty, Hannah and Dan,
To list to the letter, and thus it ran.
After best greeting to children and wife;
"Heart of his heart, and life of his life,"
I read from the paper, wrinkled and brown,
"We are here for the Winter in Morristown,
And a sorry sight are our men to-day,
In tatters and rags with no sign of pay.
As we marched to camp, if a man looked back,
By the dropping blood he could trace our track;
For scarcely a man has a decent shoe,
And there's not a stocking the army through;
So send us stockings as quick as you can,
My company needs them, every man,
And every man is a neighbor's lad,
Tell this to their mothers; they need them bad."
Then if ever before, beat Rhoda's heart,
'Twas time to be doing a woman's part.
She turned to her daughters, Hannah and Bet;
"Girls, each on your needles a stocking set,
Get my cloak and hood; as for you, son Dan,
Yoke up the steers just as quick as you can;
Put a chair in the wagon, as you're alive,
I will sit and knit, while you go and drive."
They started at once on Whippany road,
She knitting away while he held the goad.
At Whippany village she stopped to call
On the sisters Prudence and Mary Ball.
She would not go in, she sat in her chair
And read to the girls her letter from there.
That was enough, for their brothers three
Were in Lieutenant Farrand's Company.
Then on Rhoda went, stopping here and there
To rouse the neighbors from her old chair.
Still while she was riding her fingers flew,
And minute by minute the stocking grew.
Across the country, so whithered and brown,
They drove till they come to Hanover town.
There mellow and rich, lay the Smith's broad lands.
With them she took dinner and warmed her hands.
Next to Hanover Neck Dan turned the steers
Where her cousins, the Kitchels had lived for years.
With the Kitchels she supped, when homeward turned,
While above her the stars like lanterns burned,
And she stepped from her chair, helped by her son,
With her first day's work and her stockings done.
On Rockaway River, so bright and clear,
The brown leaf skims in the Fall of the year.
Around through the hills it curves like an arm,
And holds in its clasp more than one bright farm.
Through Rockaway Valley next day drove Dan;
Boy though he was, he worked life a man.
His mother behind him sat in her chair,
Still knitting, but knitting another pair.
They roused the valley, then drove through the gorge
And stopped for a minute at Compton's forge.
Then on to Boonton, and there they fed,
While the letter was passed around and read.
"Knit," said Rhoda to all, as fast as you can;
Send the stockings to me, and my son Dan
The first of the week will drive me down,
And I'll take the stockings to Morristown."
Then from Boonton home and set of sun
She entered her house with her stockings done.
On Thursday they knit from the morn til night,
She and the girls, with all their might.
When the yarn gave out they carded and spun
And every day more stockings were done.
When the wool was gone, then they killed a sheep
A cosset -- but nobody stopped to weep.
They pulled the fleece, and they carded away
And spun and knitted from night until day
In all the country no woman would rest,
But they knitted on like people, "possessed;"
And Parson Condit expounded his views,
On the Sabbath day unto empty pews,
Except for a few stray lads who came
And sat in the gallery, to save the name.
On Monday morn at an early hour
The stockings came in a perfect shower,
A shower that lasted until the night;
Black, brown and grey ones and mixed blue and white,
There were pairs one hundred and thirty-three
Long ones, remember, up to the knee;
And the next day Rhoda carried them down
In the old ox-wagon to Morristown.
I hear like an echo the soldier's cheers
For Rhoda and Dan, the wagon and steers,
Growing wilder yet for the chief in command,
While up at "Salute" to the brow flies each hand
As Washington passes, desiring then
to thank Mistress Farrand in the name of his men.
But the words that her husband's lips let fall,
'I knew you would do it," were best of all.
And I think in these Centennial days
That she should be given her meed of praise;
And while we are singing of "Auld Lang Syne,"
Her name with the others deserves to shine.

 

This page was last modified on:  01 January, 2014

Copyright 1999-2014 by Brianne Kelly-Bly, all rights reserved.