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Use and Need of the Life of Carrie Nation

The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation.



I was born in Garrard County, Kentucky. My father's farm was on Dick's River, where the cliffs rose to hundreds of feet, with great ledges of rocks, where under which I used to sit. There were many large rocks scattered around, some as much as fifteen feet across, with holes that held water, where my father salted his stock, and I, a little toddler, used to follow him. On the side of the house next to the cliffs was what we called the "Long House," where the negro women would spin and weave. There were wheels, little and big, and a loom or two, and swifts and reels, and winders, and everything for making linen for the summer, and woolen cloth for the winter, both linsey and jeans. The flax was raised on the place, and so were the sheep. When a child 5 years old, I used to bother the other spinners. I was so anxious to learn to spin. My father had a small wheel made for me by a wright in the neighborhood. I was very jealous of my wheel, and would spin on it for hours. The colored women were always indulgent to me, and made the proper sized rolls, so I could spin them. I would double the yarn, and then twist it, and knit it into suspenders, which was a great source of pride to my father, who would display my work to visitors on every occasion.

The dwelling house had ten rooms, all on the ground floor, except one. I have heard my father say that it was a hewed-log house, weather-boarded and plastered as I remember it. The room that possessed the most attraction for me was the parlor, because I was very seldom allowed to go in it. I remember the large gold-leaf paper on the walls, its bright brass dogirons, as tall as myself, and the furniture of red plush, some of which is in a good state of preservation, and the property of my half-brother, Tom Moore, who lives on "Camp Dick Robinson" in Garrard County, this Dick Robinson was a cousin of my father's. There were two sets of negro cabins; one in which Betsey and Henry lived, who were man and wife, Betsey being the nurse of all the children. Then there was aunt Mary and her large family, aunt Judy and her family and aunt Eliza and her's. There was a water mill behind and almost a quarter of a mile from the house, where the corn was ground, and near that was the overseer's house.

Standing on the front porch, we looked through a row of althea bushes, white and purple, and there were on each side cedar trees that were quite large in my day. There was an old-fashioned stile, instead of a gate, and a long avenue, as wide as Kansas Avenue, in Topeka, with forest trees on either side, that led down to the big road, across which uncle Isaac Dunn lived, who was a widower with two children, Dave and Sallie, and I remember that Sallie had all kinds of dolls; it was a great delight of mine to play with these.

To the left of our house was the garden. I have read of the old- fashioned garden; the gardens written about and the gardens sung about, but I have never seen a garden that could surpass the garden of my old home. Just inside the pickets were bunches of bear grass. Then, there was the purple flag, that bordered the walks; the thyme, coriander, calamus and sweet Mary; the jasmine climbing over the picket fence; the syringa and bridal wreath; roses black, red, yellow and pink; and many other kinds of roses and shrubs. There, too, were strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and currants; damson and greengages, and apricots, that grew on vines. I could take some time in describing this beautiful spot.

At the side of the garden was the family burying ground, where the gravestones were laid flat on masonry, bringing them about three feet from the ground. These stones were large, flat slabs of marble, and I used to climb up on top and sit or lie down, and trace the letters or figures with my fingers. I visited this graveyard in 1903. The eight graves were there in a good state of preservation, with not a slab broken, although my grandfather was buried there, ninety years ago. My father had a stone wall built around these graves for protection, when he left Kentucky. I am glad that family graveyards have given place to public cemeteries, for this place has changed hands many times and this graveyard is not pleasant for the strangers who live there. We who are interested in these sacred mounds, feel like we intrude, to have the homes of our dead with strangers.


The memories of this Kentucky home date from the time I was three years old. This seems remarkable, but my mother said this incident occurred when I was three years old, and I remember it distinctly. I was standing in the back yard, near the porch. Mr. Brown, the overseer, was in the door of my half-brother Richard's room, with my brother's gun in his hands. At the end of the porch was a small room, called the "saddle room." A pane of glass was out of the window and a hen flew out, cackling. Aunt Judy, the colored woman, went in to get the egg, and walked in front of Mr. Brown, who raised the gun and said: "Judy, I am going to shoot you," not thinking the gun was loaded. It went off, and aunt Judy fell. Mr. Brown began to wring his hands and cry in great agony. I screamed and kept running around a small tree near by. This was Sunday morning. Runners were sent for the doctor, and for my parents, who were at church. Aunt Judy got well, but had one eye out; we could always feel the shot in her forehead. She was one of the best servants, and a dear good friend to me. She used to bring two of her children and come up to my room on Sundays and sit with me, saying, she did not want to be in the cabin when "strange niggers were there." This misfortune had disfigured her face and she always avoided meeting people. I can see her now, with one child at the breast, and another at her knee, with her hand on its head, feeling for "buggars." I was very much attached to this woman and wanted to take care of her in her old age. I went to Southern Texas to get her in 1873. I found some of her children in Sherman, Texas, but aunt Judy had been dead six months. She always said she wanted to live with me.

My mother always left her small children in the care of the servants. I was quite a little girl before I was allowed to eat at "white folk's table." Once my mother had been away several days and came home bringing a lot of company with her. I ran out when I saw the carriages driving up, and cried: "Oh, ma, I am so glad to see you. I don't mind sleeping with aunt Eliza, but I do hate to sleep with uncle Josh," think I was quite dirty, and some of the colored servants snatched me out of sight. Aunt Eliza was aunt Judy's half-sister, her father was a white man. She was given to my father by my grandmother, was very bright and handsome, and the mother of seventeen children. My grandmother remembered aunt Eliza in her will, giving her some linen sheets, furniture, and other things.

One of aunt Eliza's sons was named Newton. My father had a mill and store up in Lincoln County, near Hustonville. Newton used to do the hauling for my father with a large wagon and six-mule team. He would often do the buying for the store and take measurements of grain, and my father trusted him implicitly. Once a friend of my father said to him, as Newton was passing along the street with his team: "George, I'll give you seventeen hundred dollars for that negro." My father said: "If you would fill that wagon-bed full of gold, you could not get him." A few weeks after that Newton died. I remember seeing my father in the room weeping, and remember the chorus of the song the negroes sang on that occasion: "Let us sit down and chat with the angels."

The husband of aunt Eliza was "uncle Josh," a small Guinea negro, as black as coal and very peculiar. I always stood in awe of him, as all the children did. I remember one expression of his was: "Get out of the way, or I'll knock you into a cocked hat." The reason I had to sleep with aunt Eliza, Betsy, my nurse, was only ten years older than I was. Betsy was a girl given by my grandfather Campbell to my mother when my father and mother were married. My mother was a widow when she married my father. She had married Will Caldwell, a son of Capt. Caldwell, who died in Sangamon County, Ill., he had freed his negroes and moved there from Kentucky. Will Caldwell died after three years, leaving my mother with two children. Both of them died at my grandfather Campbell's in Mercer county, Kentucky, before she married my father.

I was about four years old when my grandmother Moore died. She lived on a farm in Garrard County, about two miles from my father. She used to ride a mare called "Kit." Whenever we would see grandma coming up the avenue, the whole lot of children, white and black, ran to meet her. She always carried on the horn of her saddle a handbag, then called a "reticule," and in that she always brought us some little treat, most generally a cut off of a loaf of sugar, that used to be sold in the shape of a long loaf of bread. We would follow her down to the stile, where she would get off, and delight us all by taking something good to eat out of the "reticule." We would tie old Kit, and then take our turn in petting the colt. The first grief I remember to have had was when I heard of the death of my grandmother. I wanted to see her so badly and go to the funeral, and for weeks I would go off by myself and cry about her death. I used to love to lie and sit on her grave at the back of the garden. Older people often forget the sorrows of childhood, but I felt keenly the injustice of not being allowed to see her dead face and do to this day.

We left that home, when I was about five years old, for a place about two miles from Danville, Kentucky. The house had a flat roof, the first one built in that county; it had an observatory on top. Our nearest neighbors were Mr. Banford's family, Mr. Caldwell, and Mr. Spears. Dr. Jackson and Dr. Smith were both our physicians, and my father used to hire his physicians by the year. Dr. Jackson was a bachelor and said he was going to wait for me, and I believed him. I remember visiting Dr. Smith in Danville and seeing a human skeleton for the first time. I also saw leeches he used in bleeding. I remember when one of my little brothers was born, they told me Dr. Smith found him in a hollow stump. After that I spent hours out in the woods looking in hollow stumps for babies.

My mother's father was James Campbell, born in King and Queens County, Virginia. His parents were from Scotland. He was married twice. By his first wife he had two sons, William and Whitaker. William married and died young, and I heard, left one child, a daughter. Uncle "Whitt" lived to be an old man. The second time my grandfather married a Miss Bradshaw. He had four sons and six daughters. I used to stay at grandma's with my aunt Sue. When my mother would take long trips or visits, she would send the younger children, with my nurse Betsy, over there to stay until she returned. The only thing I construe into a cross word, that my grandfather ever spoke to me, was when I was running upstairs and stumbled and he said: "Jump up, and try it again, my daughter." I was so humiliated by the rebuke that I hid from him for several days. He was a Baptist deacon for years. When gentlemen called on my aunts, lie would go in the parlor at 10 o'clock in the evening and wind the big clock. He would then ask the young men if he should have their horses put up. This was the signal to either retire or leave. He never went to bed until everyone else had retired. My grandfather lived in Mercer County, not far from Harrodsburg. My grandmother was an invalid for years, and kept her room. My aunt Sue was housekeeper. In the dining room was a large fireplace. The teakettle was brought in at breakfast, water was boiled by being set on a "trivet," over some coals of fire.

Every morning my grandfather would put in a glass some sugar, butter and brandy, then pour hot water over it, and, while the family were sitting around the room, waiting for breakfast, he would go to each, and give to those who wished, a spoonful of this toddy, saying: "Will you have a taste, my daughter, or my son?" He never gave but one spoonful, and then he drank what was left himself. This custom was never omitted. I remember the closet where the barrel of spirits was kept. He used to give it out to the colored people in a pint cup on Saturdays. Persons have often said to me: "Our grandfathers used it, and they did not get drunk." Truly, we are reaping what they have strewn. They sowed to the wind and we are reaping the whirlwind.

After breakfast, the colored man, Patrick, who waited on my grandfather, would bring out a horse and grandfather would ride around the place. He was very fond of hunting, and always kept hounds. My father would tell this joke on him. When "Daddy" Rice was baptising him in Dick's River grandpa said: "Hold on, Father Rice, I hear Sounder barking on the cliffs." Sounder was his favorite hound. There was a Mr. Britt who was a great fox hunter, who lived near my grandfather, and whose wife was opposed to his hunting. One morning my grandfather went by Mr. Britt's house winding his hunter's horn. Mr. Britt jumped for his trousers and so did Mrs. Britt, who got them first and threw them into the fire. Another time, quite a party of ladies and gentlemen had gathered at my grandfather's place, to go on a fox hunt. Grandfather went upstairs hurriedly to put on his buckskin suit. He jumped across the banisters to facilitate matters, lost his balance and tumbled down into the hall, where the company was waiting. He did not get hurt, it was a great joke on him. When he was a young man he learned carpentering in company with Buckner Miller, who was of the same trade. These two young men came to Kentucky from Virginia, on horseback, seeking their fortunes. They had many experiences, always endeavoring to stop at houses for the night where there were young ladies. One house where there were quite a number of girls, Buckner Miller played off this joke on my grandfather. The girls occupied the room below where the men were sleeping. The men heard a commotion in the girls' room. My grandfather tipped softly, down and Buckner after him, to find out what was going on. They opened the door sufficiently to see the girls in their gowns, circling around the candle, playing "poison." Mr. Miller, to pay my grandfather for some pranks he had played off on him, gave him a push, and grandfather rushed into the middle of the room in his night clothes. The girls flew under the beds and the men ran upstairs and climbed out at the window.

{illust. caption = MY FATHER, GEORGE MOORE.}

My father's name was George Moore, and his father's name was Martin Moore. He was of Irish descent. He had two brothers who died when the cholera raged in Kentucky, about 1842. One of them, William Moore, married a Miss Blackburn of Versailles, Ky. He had several sisters, some of them died young.

Mark Antony, in his memorial address over the body of Caesar, said that Brutus was Caesar's angel. If I ever had an angel on earth, it was my father. I have met many men who had lovable characters, but none equaled him in my estimation. He was not a saint, but a man--one of the noblest works of God. He was impetuous, quick, impatient, but never nervous, could collect himself in a moment and was always master of the situation. I have seen him in many trying places but never remember to have seen him in a condition of being afraid. When he lived in Cass County, Mo., during the war, we saw Quantrell's men coming up to the house. These men were dressed in slouch hats, gray suits, and had their guns and haversacks roped to their saddles. My father was a union man, but a southern sympathizer. He cried like a child when he heard the south had seceded and taken another flag. He did not know to what extent he was disliked by this gang of bushwhackers, and we were very much alarmed; fully expected some harm was meant. Men on both sides were frequently taken out and shot down. When the Bushwhackers would kill a union man then the Jayhawkers would kill "a secesh."

My father said to us: "You stay in the house and keep quiet. I will meet them." I watched him through a window. He was tall and straight as an Indian. He walked up to them, taking off his hat and called "Good morning" to them in a friendly tone. Asked them to get off their horses, for he had a treat for them. In the corner of the yard was the carriage house and under that was a rock spring house, through which a living stream of water ran around the pans of milk. He took them to the door, gave them seats, then went in this milkhouse and brought out a jar of buttermilk. I have heard it said that buttermilk is one of the greatest treats to a soldier. He talked with these men as if they had been friends; brought out fruit; loaded them with bread, butter and milk; and they left without even taking a horse from us. I fully believe it was their intention to do some harm, but by the tact of my father they were disarmed. "A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up strife." He was a thorough business man, but his social qualities exceeded all others. He often had to pay security debts, one for Mr. Key, his brother-in-law, of five thousand dollars. Just before the election of Lincoln, he took a large drove of mules to Natchez, Miss., twenty-two of these mules were of his own raising. While there Lincoln was elected, which threw the south into war. He sold the mules on time and never got a dollar for them. To the honor of my father be it said, he gave up all his property to pay his debts, never withholding, where he could have done so. A short while before he died there was one debt of a few hundred dollars he could not pay. He wept and told me of this. A year ago I settled up with Mr. Wills' heirs and paid this debt to his children, who live near Peculiar in Cass county, Mo. It would be such d joy to my father to know that I did this to save his honor. When I see him, in our heavenly home, he will bless me for this. "Love knows no sacrifice."

I can not call to mind when the thought of self, governed any of my father's actions. It was his delight to provide for the comfort of others. Devoted to his family and friends, and such a friend to the poor; I have heard my mother say that he made every one rich who worked for him. When I first remember him he was a "Trader" and left his farm to an overseer. My father drove hogs to Cincinnati before there were any railways. I was always at his heels, when I could be. He was standing on the stile one day giving directions to have a drove of hogs meet him at a certain place on Sunday. I said: "Pa, you will lose on those hogs. You ought not to do that on Sunday." He gave me a quick, light, playful slap, saying: "Stop that, every time you say that, I do lose."

I can see that a responsibility to God was the fundamental principle in my father's life. After the negroes were freed, and we lived on the farm, there was so much to do, especially for him, but there was always a conveyance prepared to take his family to church and Sunday School--I took the "New York Ledger. Mrs. Southworth wrote for it then. 'Capitola', The Wrecker's Son, with other thrilling stories, were so fascinating to me--The paper came late Saturday and I would rather read it Sunday morning than go anywhere. One morning I took my paper and went to the back of the orchard, thinking to get out of the sound of my father's voice when he would call me to get ready for church. I could just hear him but did not move. After reading my paper, I returned to the house, Pa was just coming back with the rest of the family from church. He looked at me with grief and anger in his glance and said, "Never mind, you ungrateful girl, you cannot say at the judgment Day, that your father did not provide a way for you to go to church." I never did this again and never was free from remorse for this ingratitude. I know how Dr. Johnson felt when he was seen standing on a corner of the street with the sun beaming down upon his bare head, when asked why he did that he said, "My father had a book stand on this corner, when I was a boy once he asked me to stand here in his place as he was sick. I would not, now I would expiate that by blistering my bare head in the sun if I could. To this day I weep to think of grieving so noble a parent.

My mother was a very handsome woman. My father was what you might call good looking. I was very anxious to look like him; used to try to wear off my teeth on the right side, because his were worn off. About two years before he died, he came to Texas to visit me. I was then in the hotel business. During the first meal he ate at the hotel, he looked up and seeing me waiting on the table, he got up and began waiting on the table himself. I had to work very hard then and it was a grief to him to have no means to give me. One morning he came into my room while I was dressing and said: "Daughter, I have not slept all night for thinking of you. The last thing last night was you in the kitchen and the first thing this morning. I have always hoped to have something to leave you, and it is such a grief to me that I can not help you. Carry, it seems the Lord has been so hard on you." I said: "No, Pa; I thank God for all my sorrows. They have been the best for me, and don't you worry about not leaving me money, for you have left me something far better." He looked up surprised and said: "What is it?" I answered: "The memory of a father who never did a dishonorable act." My father's eyes filled with tears, and after that he seemed to be happier than I had ever seen him; everything seemed to go right.

My father was a very indulgent master to his colored servants, who loved him like a father. They always called him "Mars George." The negro women would threaten to get "Mars George" to whip their bad children, and when he whipped them, I have heard them say: "Served you right. Did not give you a lick amiss." This was proving their great confidence, they being willing for some one else to whip their children. They were very sensitive in this matter and were not willing for my mother to do this. My father would lay in a supply, while in Cincinnati, of boxes of boots and shoes, arid get combs, head handkerchiefs, and Sunday dresses, which would greatly delight his colored people. Happy, indeed, would the negroes have been if all their masters had been as my father was.

When we moved to Mercer County from Garrard, we had a sale. It was customary then at such a time to have a barbecue and a great dinner. The tables were set in the yard. I remember Mr. Jones Adams, a neighbor and great friend of my father, brought over a two bushel sack of turnip greens and a ham. I remember seeing him shake them out of the bag. At this sale for the first, and only time, I saw a negro put on a block and sold to the highest bidder. I can't understand how my father could have allowed this. His name was "Big Bill," to distinguish him from another "Bill". He was a widower or a batchelor and had no family. There was one colored man my father valued highly, and wanted to take with him, but this man, Tom, had a wife, who belonged to a near neighbor. After we got in the carriage to go to our new home, Tom followed us crying: "Oh, Mars George, don't take me from my wife." My father said: "Go and get some one to buy you." This Tom did, the buyer being a Mr. Dunn. Oh! What a sad sight! It makes the tears fill my eyes to write it.

But a worse slavery is now on us. I would rather have my son sold to a slave-driver than to be a victim of a saloon. I could, in the first case, hope to see him in heaven; but no drunkard can inherit eternal life. The people of the south said no power could take from them their slaves, but 'tis a thing of the past. People now say, you can't shut up saloons. But our children will know them as a thing of the past. My father was glad when the slaves were free. He felt the responsibility of owning them. Have heard him say, after having some-trouble with them: "Those negroes will send me to hell yet." He would gather them in the dining- room Sunday evenings and read the Bible to them and have prayer. He would first call aunt Liza and ask her to have them come in. The negroes would sing, and it is a sweet memory to me.