Editor’s Note: An article entitled "Through Country Lanes in the Early Eighties," has been submitted to the Chronicle-Telegram for publication. The article was written by Mrs. Creta Squires Walker, 211 Mira Mar Ave., Apt. F., Long Beach, California.
Mrs. Walker writes that she is a daughter of Percis Farr and Theodore Jeremiah Squiresand that she wrote the article "in the hope of reading of more Lorain County natives who enjoyed similar rides in the long ago along country lanes toward their homes." The article written by Mrs. Walker follows:
In a high hedge just outside my window mocking birds have decided is a jolly place in which to sing and sing during midnight hours, and, kept awake by them last night, I took a journey with my father in memory, as once in the long ago.
Our school week began on Tuesdays, so, Mother being busy every Monday, I expect must have been the reason why Father decided he and I could select our new shoes without her at a store in Elyria on that day in May. Mine were important for my appearance at an approaching school exhibition to be held at School District No. 3; an event of real history to him, because he was changing from the wearing of fine boots for best to shoes.
Having made our way over clay mud roads into Elyria behind Little Bill, our black horse and in an open buggy, the shoes occupied all the time I have any recollection of there. I had reason to recall the merchant who was newly located near the old Post Office where mine were purchased: Father told Mother he had been ""palavering" and said "nice leetle foot!" in urging me to decide on a pair of glove-kid-topped, button shoes.
As to my father ever getting suited with offerings in any shoe store except one run by a friend of his at Oberlin, Mother knew he could not and would not and said so before we left home. It proved true; we returned home without his, but he said he would get Mother to go to Oberlin some day with him. There was a stretch of pavement out Cheapside then we were off into deep yellow, rutty mud roads, and obliged to walk the horse every foot of the way. It was sunny May, and nice out of doors so was pleasant anyway.
I recall the new Catholic church, because a very old friend of Fathers had donated for the chandeliers inside. The Cross home and that of Curtis Webster and wife were not far from the church on Middle avenue. Father spoke of them and of the latter because she had been connected with the Sutliff family of Carlisle. Others were the Arthur Nichols home down Howe street, his wife Nettie; being our cousin, and the snug little brown house near the Biggs house at what is now 13th street where another cousin, Mrs. Thomas Storer and family lived.
The old Elmer Adams house at the intersection of the road toward Coonville was mentioned, because Father said his Uncle Ezra Squires had once owned the place, but sold to go west.
From that point there were no houses, but, in passing through Beebe Hollow we talked about some sharpers who had entangled one of the richest men in Carlisle in their scheme, and all but fleeced him out of a pile of hard earned money. The man was the father of Perkins Clark, now deceased. On and on we moved through sea of mud, crossing the railroad track at last. I was glad our Bill was not afraid of trains, for they came with a roar across the river bridge at our right, or, very swiftly otherwise after crossing at Patterson’s cut at our left and I knew I must listen with my good young ears and tell Father if I heard one.
Then we came to the Fork where one could find some helpful planks yet in the mud, if we took the LaGrange way by the Howe farm. It had been a toll road in older days. However, we always tok the road through the Berg for we stopped at Aunt Marcella Sherwood’s without fail. Edna would not be home from school, as her lessons were learned in School District No. 1. I used to feel her school was more "stylish" than mine, because they began their week on Mondays. It worked out fine, however; as we could exchange school visits and never miss lessons.
Well, just above the Fork in the road, we passed the Julius Buehring home. The brick house, the laughing friendliness of Minne, the daughter, and Mrs. Buehring’s occupation, which now would be called a hobby, were of great appeal to me. She had one room given over to the graceful work of silk worms.
Then, all the homes were on the right; as the Flatiron shaped acreage on the left, which was surrounded for many years by highway and yet not occupied by a single house, stretched a long way.
Back from the road we saw the new Bushnell house; I am quite sure even then occupied by Alice and George Needham.
Real married lovers, if I ever knew any.
Somewhat further on, and close to the highway and a little brook was the old Bushnell house. Comfortable, pleasant-faced Mrs. Bushnell, her welcome was so sincere when I went there with Edna. Asa, her husband, was a true type of a slender,
tall old Yankee. They were proud of two sons, Frank and Johnny who made fine citizens.
As I think of the Howe lands, I recall his being an old bachelor, and how we teased older girls about his seeming to single them out as possible future wives. And I suppose it was only a chance to tease, and in our minds only. It was said he kept house as well as a woman, and made fine butter. Then we passed the home of Mrs. Boughton. I can just recall her bright eyes, and think she was rather aged even then. I do not recall her first name.
Uncle Thomas Sherwood’s barn stood right up to the road, and then we were soon in front of his house, the scene of as many good times as I knew in any one place outside of my own home, as a child. Little Aunt. How we loved her, laughed with her,
and treasured her as long as she lived.
Her home was ever a center for company of all ages. They were welcome and surely must have known it. For many came. Especially for Sunday after the church and Sabbath school at the red brick school house about three quarters of a mile away. Uncle was the preacher, and with no real salary, collections must not have been anything to speak of although I feel sure all who were included in his flock gave as they could. Times were hard, and few factories near in which men could earn a fair living. Everyone had a garden and worked if they had an opportunity. Wants, however, were few for recreational ideas. Facilities were provided by the church, by the natural pleasures around a river and birthday parties were often and jubilantly celebrated.
Next on the south of Uncle Tom’s was the Albert Squires home. As his wife had passed away about 1882, a sister,
Louisa Stevens kept his home tidy and looked after Orvil, his son. The grocery attached to the front of the house was a center for staples, and Mr. Squires was for several years in charge of mail for that section of Carlisle. One could either have it brought up there, or go to Elyria regularly where farm people had boxes and carried a key, which I remember was a nuisance if forgotten. To travel country roads through all kinds of conditions twice a week to "get the mail" was a far different custom for farmers, then as now, when Rural Free Delivery, the mailboxes of which are called "monuments to the Grange" are a joy to every family.
Next to the Berg Post Office in the Eighties lived quite an unusual citizen: L. B. Gardner was as gifted in his way, as my Uncle was as a preacher. He taught singing classes and those of penmanship. Always had a quartet including Etta and Sam Morehouse, Mrs. Gardner and himself ready to sing when solicited. How well I recall their activity during the prohibition campaign when medals were also given to youth for elocutionary performances and in connection with speeches against the evils by real orators. About that time Ed Gardner, Orvil Squires and Amasa Sherwood were active in boyish fun. I remember my Aunt’s worry because the latter wanted to try sleeping in trees, just as the heroes did in magazine stories which they read. I think the magazine was called "Golden Days." Well, although they did not realize it, they were genuine Boy Scout pioneers.
Across a little creek and right on the corner where our road turned to lead us down hill and across the dear old covered bridge, lived Harvey Welch and his family of girls. A new stepmother who was a real success too, had entered the home. Her lively manner, the grand singing of Nettie, the eldest girl; Sadie, to whom I was said to bear a facial resemblance, and something
interesting about a stairway in their house, which was very old, has marked my memories of that group. Across the road there
was the home of the Spencers. The frail condition of their only daughter, Mr. Spencer’s absence on his business of selling parlor
organs kept Mrs. Spencer at home. She was busy with the farm, and must have made a good income selling butter and milk, as
not everyone in the Berg kept a cow.
It always gave me real pleasure to ride through the Bridge, and, I imagine every horse pulling out of mud up on the solid planks enjoyed it greatly while the case lasted. Father never risked violating the ordinance sign over the entrance; it read: "Five Dollars Fine for Any one driving faster than a walk."
The refusal of some elephants in a circus troupe traveling cross country to enter that bridge, and a runaway, when a boy was killed, figure in recollections exciting there. The many pleasant hours spent by barefoot boys and girls in the cool darkness out of hot sunshine, must return to many minds of children who lived around the bridge.
Just before we crossed was the Walter Balcomb home. It stood at a low level, and must have been anchored on rock, so many flood periods did it withstand through many years. I liked the daughter May, and was happy when she married a cousin of mine.
On the other side of the river was the Morehouse residence. Many windows, and doors, and a long porch marked it as a home of striking architecture. There were four girls at Sam and Etta’s; all with the quick nervous mannerisms of their mother. All, too, had her gift of song. I can easily remember Etta’s high clear tones singing church hymns. She was of the Thorp family. Then the
road parted, and in the distance right, stood the red brick school, a church on Sundays. Across from it was the Burying Ground. The city of our dead. Many laid there who were born late back in the years of the 1700’s; and now, many of those of whom I write, sleep in their peaceful rest. Additional land was purchased long ago and sold to those who desired it as their last family assembly. Generations of old friends to Carlisle and of Carlisle, as the markers will tell.
Well, to return to my ride with Father on that May day. We of course did not deviate from our course up the road towards Oberlin, many miles distant. In the flatiron section right was the Gault home. I believe he was Sexton of the burying ground many years. Some way he seemd most like a veteran of the civil War of all those who lived around the Berg. Perhaps it was something about his way of dressing.
Across the road and at the end of a long shady path leading to each, were the homes of two aged couples. The Harry Morehouses and Uncle Charlie and Aunt Cynthia Balcomb. The latter couple were at church very often and no one enjoyed the hymn singing more than Aunt Cynthia. How clearly I can recall arriving early and watching them among several others from the riverside coming up the long dusty road toward the schoolhouse to services. Their daughter, Rhoda Boughton, with her husband and children,
were living there, too; As she had formerly been my aunt and her first children Edith and Jeff Squires were familiar visitors in
our home, she remained "Aunt Rhoda" to me all my life. As the Balcombs, Morehouses and Boughtons were all related, I imagine once that land was one big farm.
Onward we found Aunt Avis Hamlin’s home. Aunt Avis was a woman of advanced age, but unusually gifted and intelligent. She was an ordained minister of the Gospel and often occupied the pulpit of our little schoolhouse church. I admired her in a way for her eloquence, but someway Uncle’s presence up on the low platform seemed more fitting. He could lead in hymns even better, his sermon was never taken from notes, but from the fullness of his heart and often his emotions would get the better of his feelings, tears would fill his eyes, and his country congregation would sit sober faced as they waited for his voice to get back under his control. I have often wondered how far he might have gone as a college-trained minister. He was no revival leader, but he led his community well, and it was a sad day when he no longer could carry the burden and moved into town away from scenes he and Aunt must have loved very, very dearly. We had services conducted by Aunt Avis, and Sunday school for a few years, but the spirit of fine leadership was gone with Uncle Thomas Sherwood away.
Then we rode on by the old Hurd place. It was the home of Mrs. Libbie Hurd Clark, her husband, a Candy distributor throughout the county and her daughters and son, I think Allie Clark married a Mr. Ostman and moved to Massilon before her mother died. The Hurd family dated back to early Elyria and two sisters, were once in succession my great Aunts.
Just as we reached the top of the hill where the road forked abruptly again to the right toward the schoolhouse, stood the old Buehring farm house and half-hidden by trees. Quaint old Grandma Buehring, an aristrocratic old German lady was then yet alive, and I recall would often come out to talk with my Grandmother Farr as we were on our way to church past her yard. They had long been neighbors and knew pioneer topics to discuss.
With Mrs. Buehring lived her two bachelor sons, Herman and Henry, her daughter, Theresa, and a beloved granddaughter and grandson. Orion, the latter was drowned about that time, and Violet was then more the ideal of their lives in that home. Lola, as we called her, was a gifted pianist, and her music revealed her lovely soul. She was quiet, not strong, but ready to help in a musical gathering. How sad that, just as her graduation day began to draw near at Oberlin, she became ill and died in a few months.
As we descended the grade we could look back to the Buehring barns and see one that had been the center of education as a school house when Mother was a little girl in the Forites. I always wished to enter it and try to feel it as she described it when she studied her three r’s but never did. I expect it has stood somewhere near the location of red brick, about a quarter of a mile west on the Murray Ridge road and a four corners.
At the right as we climbed the hill after crossing a creek bridge, was an enormous, beautiful, and aged oak tree. How often I have stood in its shade and rested going home from Sunday school. Across from it, a lane led back to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Stough. I knew little about them, except she was sister to Mrs. Asa Bushnell. Our boys however used to describe the Stough chestnut woods as very desirable place to stroll to. I don’t think they were really welcome, however. Well, "Boys will be boys you know!"
Mother used to say, "You have chestnuts enough to gather on your own trees!"
Then on our way, we passed the old Dachtler place. Then just bought by a German family, the Reisingers. Rosy cheeked, smiling hard working old Mrs. Reisinger. Mr. Reisinger was never well and what a helpmate he had for a wife. His sons proved as ambitious as their mother. They were Will and Frank.
On we rode that May day, and off at the right we could see Grandma Farr’s home back a long, long lane. Today after thirty-eight years I wish for my Grandmother’s presence. She was the kind of a woman whom everyone in a locality liked, welcomed, respected and looked to when illness came.
All her long life after she arrived in Carlisle in 1817 she was an interested member of the community. She died in 1901 on the farm where she had lived about seventy years.
Across the road from her lane was another that led to the Eckler home. Something bright lives in many memories in connection with the pleasures promoted by Mr. Eckler and his helpful wife. Rain, mud roads, snowstorms, cold weather, thunderstorms, heat or distance availed nothing against the wishes of people for miles about if a dance was to be given in Eckler’s hall. It was a genuine center of community fun and with good music and clean strict supervision meant much to a great many Lorain County citizens. Nights were dark and going slow in those times, for there were no pavements to speak of, and no glare from mill furnaces lighted any country road when the moon failed to be bright and shining the nights of Eckler’s dances. Farther on was a small house just then occupied by a family who had come to our vicinity from England. Never after their arrival did they cease to be of interest in our neighborhood. I remember the many days play that I enjoyed with the younger members of the Penfound family.
Over a small hill we rode and passed our orchard of apple, pear and cherry trees. In May there were sill Larkspurs, Fleur-delis, lilacs and a snowball bush to bloom near the road. Years had gone since it was residence land owned by the Oliver family, but the flowers survived even the house which my father bought with the land.
At the end of our lane was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Brown and their lively large family of boys and girls. A shadow was to blight their happiness, for the eldest, on a visit in Buffalo, was taken ill and died.
Then we turned down our hill and soon were back at the end of our lane and home. One of the boys took the horse to unhitch and father and I went in to eat our warmed up dinner while we told of our day in town.
I remember Father’s telling mother of the storekeeper’s "palavering" me with "Nice leetle foot". Father knew, the merchant knew and I knew that vanity and soft compliment united generally result in promoting good salesmanship. The words might have been true for my cousin’s foot (she wore two sizes smaller than I) but, however I did like my stylish shoes.
Some days passed before the night of our school exhibition, the only evening finish to a school term in District No. 3 that I ever heard of. I recall how unreal our room looked lighted up with lamps, lanterns and even candles during the exciting hours. I was proud of my pink chambray dress, my pink satin sash and hair ribbons, and of My Shoes. Of my intelligent performance as a part I cannot speak; I have forgotten what I SPOKE as a recitation; I recall better a quartet in which my sister sang Queen of the Night.
Also the crowd that even filled the windows open to the soft Spring night. Well, I suppose Mother went with my father to Oberlin and helped him choose his new shoes. But I recall his often wearing the boots until there were holes in them, and how he would say, "They lasted a long time. I paid ten dollars for them when they were new." He was as scrupulously neat in his dress as any man I knew. Often he would say he could tell a gentleman by the looks of his shoes.
This ride was over fifty years ago, and people do not travel toward Oberlin from Elyria in as leisurely a manner nowadays, unless they walk.
Few indeed are the homes of which I have written, appearing as much like then as my own old home, and few are in the hands ofdescendants of the pioneers. Country Clubs, gasoline stations, paved roads, marked for traffic safety, and agitations to eliminate curves in the roads, belong to something never dreamed of in the Eighties when Father and I went to Elyria to buy new shoes one pretty, peaceful day in May.