Autobiography of Sarah Robinson Atherton
I was born in the town of Rehoboth, on a rough New England farm, June 1st, 1800. My parents were Noah and Lydia Robinson. My mother died January 16th, 1810, leaving eight children. The oldest followed her February 19th, same year. My father hired Miss Nellie Camp as house-keeper one year. Miss Hannah Bullock took her place. Four years after my father married her, January 29, 1815. I was then in my 15th year. My school years were few, owing to the town being divided. We were set off in another district where there was no school. I was taught to spin as soon as I was old enough to turn a wheel. My oldest brother died July 19th, 1813, I was then 13. As there was no boy older, I was taught to do many kinds of out door work that gave me a healthy constitution.
We spun and wove cloth from flax and wool to clothe the family. I worked at that business till my 18th year, then I learned the tailoress trade; followed that till 1823. I left my home for a visit in Scituate, R.I. There I was offered a situation in a weaving shop. I accepted it; remained there four years. In 1827 I went to Hebronville, Mass., took the same work two years, health failed, so took up my trade again. Followed it till my marriage with Samuel Atherton, April 18, 1836. I lived with him on his farm in Attleboro till October, 1838. Misfortune caused him to sell his farm. He proposed to me to go to Ohio, if he would go and provide a home for us.
On the 28th of October he left with his son Rufus for the far west as it was then called. I stayed on the home place through the winter of 1838-39; took boarders for company. In April I packed our goods, and in May I left old Mass., with a sad heart, but with a sadder one for two long years. I left Providence, R.I., Monday, thence by steamer to Albany, by railroad to Utica, by canal to Buffalo. On my 39th birth-day I sailed on Lake Erie to Cleveland, Ohio, thence to Norwalk by stage, to Greenfield by private carriage. The next morning I went to see where my future home was to be. My heart sank into my shoes. How could any one live in such a place? Could see out between the logs. No glass in the windows. The boards in the floor were all loose. In a week we got our goods from the Lake and got to living again. Pa had a nice garden growing, so we had plenty to eat, but Oh! the tears I shed would run a saw-mill if they had been collected together. Mr. Simmons got some glass, said I must set it, his wife would tell me how. So I made the putty and set the glass; have known how ever since. We were quite comfortable. In eleven months and eighteen days my only child, George, was born. There I lay near four weeks; could not turn myself in bed. The doctor told me of a good nurse; though her kindness and strength I was raised to health. She would lift me out and into bed like a little child. I soon began to gain strength. It was very hot weather for the season. In two years we moved into a good log-house. I began to feel as though we were living; it was hewed logs and plastered. We were there three years then bought our home. I did not know how people could live, but found out. We lived eleven years without a cellar. When I had one I knew how to prize it. In 1843 I took George and went east for a visit, and again, in 1853, made another visit to my old home. In 1860 Mr. Atherton and I went east for another visit. The fourth time was in 1871. Mr. Atherton died the 18th of August, 1871, aged 81 years. For the two last years of his life he was entirely helpless. I had to care for him night and day. The winter of 1871-72 I spent east. Came home the last of May. I lived alone after that till 1876; then went to live with George. The fall of 1875, also the spring of 1878, I spent visiting my old home. My last visit was in 1882.
The month I was 94 year old I rode five miles to have my picture taken, and now in my ninety-fifth year I write this sketch of my life for my nieces and nephews.
October 24, 1894.
Sarah Robinson Atherton died December 27, 1902.
Submitted by Rebecca Williams, Great great great grand-daughter.