On my return to Indiana, I went to Cincinnati by canal, on river boat from there to Madison, thence to Indianapolis by railroad; and from there by stage coach to Lafayette, and from there about twenty five miles to destination, I walked. I may say, in this connection, that at that time there were no railroads in that part of Ohio, and the only railroads. In Indiana was the one on which I traveled from Madison to Indianapolis, the rails of which were flat bars; Ohio had a canal from Toledo to Cincinnati, and Indiana had one from Toledo to Evansville.
In the spring of 1849, I was offered a place in Lafayette.
There were two shops there; one run by a Mr. Berryhill, and the other by a Mr. Clark. I had all the time had a desire to go there; and I dissolved by very pleasant relations with Mr. Killen, and accepted the offer made by Mr. Clark, the more readily in that he offered me an increase in wages of $10.00 per month.
Mr. Clark was running quite a force of men in the shop, while he spent the greater part of his time in making the delivery of the work to the country; and I was put in charge of the force in the shop. He soon concluded to adopt a rather unique method of doing business; heretofore, an agent had been sent out to take contracts for such work as was agreed upon, and the work would be done in the shop and delivered as per contract; but he would fill his wagon with an assorted lot of stones, ready for lettering, and drive down the road from house to house; and, on selling a stone, it would be left; and thus he would go on until the load was disposed of.
He wished me to take the list of these sales, and go from house to house and finish up the work of lettering them as per agreement; and, as an inducement, he proposed to pay me $2.00 per day, furnish a horse for me to ride, and pay all my expenses, which was better wages than was paid any other employee; and, as I was a single man, and could about as well be in one place as another, I took the job. He furnished me a horse, and I took along such tools as I would need. The work was done all under many difficulties; I would call at the place where the work was to be done, would find the stone was in some outhouse, or, possibly, under the bed; and I would have to improvise some place on which to lay the stone, that I might do the work; generally, I would have it on a table in the dining or some other room in the house, with from one to half a dozen children, all curious to see the work as it was being done; and, in fact, the older members of the family were greatly interested watching the process of engraving letters in stone; it seems to most persons, a very wonderful accomplishment, to be able to do such work.
Under such conditions and surroundings, it was somewhat difficult to do the work; at the same time, it gave me the opportunity of seeing and conversing with all kinds of people, some pleasant and entertaining, and some otherwise.
On the whole, I rather liked the business. Sometimes, I would be out two or three weeks on a trip; often having to travel several miles from place to place, and the entire trip extending into two or more counties.
Mr. Clark was an active, pushing man, of the most abstemious Habits; but he was not successful, in a business way. He seemed always to be in debt, but I had the fullest confidence in his honesty, and I worked through the winter of 1848-49, and up to the middle of the next summer, only drawing as much of my wages as was needed; so that, at the end of that time, he was in my debt about $300.00. My friend Grosvenor, had also, in the meantime, come to work for Mr. Clark.
Lafayette was at that time a thriving place, with a population of about 8,000. At times of high water in Wabash, Steamboats came up the river to this point; but the principal shipping business was done on the canal. It had no railroads at that date; in two or three years, it had two; the "New Albany & Salem", and the "Lafayette & Indianapolis."
During the summer of 1849, the cholera visited Lafayette, assuming a malignant form. Business utterly collapsed, and for about six weeks remained so; nearly half of the population fled from the city, and yet, out of the reduced number remaining, when at its worst stage, as many as from fifteen to seventeen deaths occurred in a day. The city took on a funeral appearance; no business doing, except that connected with the care of the sick, and burying the dead. The town was shunned by all the outside world.
Both Mr. Clark and Mr. Berryhill, the marble men of the place, were stricken down by the disease. I was with many cases of sickness and death; was with Mr. Clark until his death, yet I escaped an attack; but the experience was one that I trust I may never have again.
After the plague had left us, and we got on our feet again, and began to look about us, I found myself in quite a perplexing situation; both men who were running the business at which I had worked, were dead; and the wages which I had been saving up for several months, were, for the present at least, tied up.
H. W. Chase, a lawyer and personal friend of the Clark family was appointed administrator of the estate; and it was soon found that very little was left for either family or creditors. The family consisted of the widow and two daughters ages about 14 and 18 respectively. As I now remember, only about 10 per cent of the unsecured debts were paid. Mr. Chase suggested to Mr. Grosvenor and me to take the stock of marble on hand; he proposing to furnish the funds to pay for it, and buy additional stock as needed; we forming a partnership under the name of "Stewart & Grosvenor"; he to be a silent partner in the business.
This seemed to us, a very fortunate scheme, and we accepted, with gladness, his offer. So, in the autumn of 1849, the firm of "Stewart & Grosvenor" was duly launched in the business world. The firm started out under very favorable conditions, neither Grosvenor nor I had much money to put into the business; we cheerfully put in our best efforts in labor and Mr. Chase furnished the capital.
During the fall, it became necessary for us to lay in additional stock of marble for the winters use, and I was sent to Buffalo, N. Y., to make the purchase. Our stock, at that time, all came to us by water; on the lake to Toledo, and from there on the canal.
I traveled from Lafayette to Toledo on a canal boat, from there to Buffalo by lake steamer over Lake Erie. This was a new experience to me, and I was very sick on the lake; it being quite rough; but on arriving at my destination I was feeling all right; and after making the purchase of the marble, I took a day off from business for pleasure, and visited Niagara Falls. It impressed me, as it doubtless does all visitors, as wonderful and sublime beyond the power of human to describe.
On my return home, after a few days, I was taken violently sick with what the doctor at first called "bilious fever", but which, in a few days more, developed into a case of smallpox of a most virulent type. I was boarding with the family of my late employer--Mrs. Clark,--she was keeping several boarders; her own family, with the boarders, making eight or ten persons in all.
These people all having been exposed to the disease, before its character was known, were duly quarantined in the house, and I was shut up in a room away from the other occupants of the house. An Irish woman who had had the disease, was employed to come to my room each day and render such assistance as was necessary, in cleaning up the room, bringing me food, etc.
The doctor also came daily, and, for a time, twice a day; and for about a month these were the only persons coming into my room.
After the disease had run about ten days, I had a good appetite, but was not permitted to eat any rich or greasy food--as meat, butter, or milk. My rations consisted, mainly, of molasses and mush; also, dry toast, tea, and rice; but I relished my food. I came out in the end in good physical condition; in fact, feeling unusually well. Fortunately, the family and boarders, by being vaccinated, and confining themselves to plain diet, escaped with very light attacks of Varioloid. And the disease did not spread at all. In my own case, I was very fortunate in escaping with very slight markings. It was a rather severe stroke on me, financially, just at the commencement of my business, and among a people largely strangers. The doctors and nurses bills, loss of time, and also the necessary burning of all the bedding in my room, amounted to quite a sum; but I got through it all with the aid of very kind friends, found in connection with a Temperance society of which I was a member; the "Temple of Honor."
It was never known where I had been exposed to the disease; I never had, knowingly, come into contact with a case, but I had probably been exposed while on my trip east, by sleeping in some infected berth on the lake or the canal. My attack was not a light one, and I probably owe my recovery and freedom from pock marks to my vigorous physical health and temperate habits.
About this time I united with the "Christian", Campbellite" church. While I was not in accord with all the doctrines of this church, the pastor, old father Longley, understood my position, and I found the members generally a very pleasant, social people, of liberal views.
The Temperance cause was, at this time, in Indiana, holding a very prominent place in the minds of the people. Among other organizations active in this cause, was the "Temple of Honor", a secret society with several degrees, using a very pretty ritual both in the lodge and in its degree work. I early became a member of this order, and in due time, having taken its several degrees, and having served as its W.C.T., Worthy Chief Templar, the presiding officer of the lodge, I was elected to the Grand Lodge of the state, and met with that body at Indianapolis, and at one session in Lafayette.
This order, for the encouragement of the lady workers in the cause, established a degree called the "Social Degree", in which only members of the Temple of Honor were eligible, and such ladies as might be elected to membership by the members of the degree.
The initiation ceremony of this degree was very beautiful and appropriate; its officers were all dual; one male and one female in each position. We had a very working order, both as to the Temple and the "Social Degree". My connection with this order brought me into the society of a very good class of people. To this order, no doubt, I owe the finding of my wife. I had not gone into society to any extent, and formed the acquaintance of but few ladies. It was in the Fall and winter of 1849-50, that, among the lady members of the Degree, I met Miss Elizabeth Tipton. She, as well as I, was a constant attendant on the weekly meetings of the lodge, and thus we were thrown much together in our work.
The "Social Degree" was also what is implied by its name, and we often had social entertainments given by its members in our hall, at which outside friends, by invitation, met with us for a good time socially. In course of time, she and I were elected as presiding officers, jointly, and, from that to the grand lodge of the state.
We were thus brought together in our work in the temperance cause and in our social relations and this resulted in our final union for life work; consummated by our marriage on October 30, 1851.
We were married by the Chaplain of our order, Reverend Barwick; most of the friends present were members of the "Social Degree" Temple of Honor.
Elizabeth Tipton was the only daughter of Joshua and Cynthia Tipton, and was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, September 19, 1832; her father having died of cholera about two months before her birth; during its ravage of that city in that year. Mrs. Tipton continued to reside in that place until the daughter was about ten years old, when they removed to Lafayette, Indiana, near where she had two brothers residing; John and George Wilson. John was a well-to-do farmer with a family of five or six children, living about three miles east of Lafayette; George was an old bachelor.
This brings me along in my life to where I began to make a home for myself and wife. I was in my twenty-fifth year, my wife in her nineteenth. My business was fairly good, quite up to my expectations. The firm of "Stewart & Grosvenor" stood well in the community, and we were reaching far out for business; and our married life started under favorable conditions.
Our first born was a girl--born December 8, 1852, and we gave to her the name of "Cynthia."
Probably about the beginning of 1853, I bought out the interest of both Mr. Grosvenor and Mr. Chase, and continued the business in my own name.
The manner of soliciting business, in those days, was to send out agents over the country to take contracts for work to be delivered at a certain time as per contract; these agents were paid from 10 to 12 per cent on the sales made; and the business was thus extended through several big counties--often for a distance of from 100 to 200 miles. On delivery of the work to the parties in interest, very generally notes were taken in payment, running until the following Christmas, as that was the general "pay day" at that time.
If your agents were always honest and careful as to the persons to whom they sold, it was all right, but too often, in order to secure the commission on a sale, they would contract with a party wholly irresponsible; and thus, much was lost in that manner.
I call to mind one man of this kind, through whose sales I lost largely. His name was Saunders; a man of middle age, a smooth talker, but wholly unscrupulous. He claimed to be a preacher, and when out in the country took every occasion to so represent himself; attending all places of religious meetings and taking an active part in them, thus becoming acquainted with as many of the people as possible; if hearing of a death, he would make it a point to attend the funeral, and in a day or two afterward, he would call on the friends while they were in a tender mood, and get a contract for a tombstone for the deceased, if possible.
He would sell to any one, without any questions as to their ability to pay. He sold more stone than any one else, and before I had an opportunity to learn his character, I was involved in a rather heavy loss. I am sure he was a consummate old scamp.
In the years of 1852-53, the "Know-nothing" move in politics almost disrupted the old parties. It sprang into being from a fear that the Catholics were getting into too great control for the government.
It was ostensibly an "American" party, seeking to restrict immigration, and put the control of the Government into the hands of Americans only; but its real fight was against the Catholic Church. They worked with great secrecy--meeting in secret--and running a man for office, and then voting for him solidly, so that, in some cases both of the old parties having candidates contesting for the place, on election day, a person would be elected who had not been, in public, named for the office. I was not in sympathy with the objects of this party, but as I was wholly out of touch with both the old parties, I was induced to join them; but I never heartily espoused their cause, and seldom met with them. The party made a mushroom growth, and in a short time as quickly died out.
In 1854, the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill aroused the whole country on the question of the extension of Slavery into the Territories of the United States. The old Whig party became absorbed by the Anti-Slavery party. A state convention was held in Indianapolis in June 1854, composed of persons from all parties who were opposed to the extension of slavery. And here the Republican party had its inception, in the union of the Anti-slavery elements of the Democratic and Whig parties with the old "Free-Soil" party. I was a member of that convention. A similar convention was held in Columbus, Ohio, at the same time. And from this movement, set on foot at these conventions, the great Republican party was formed; and, with that party, I have ever since affiliated.
This was soon after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, and excitement ran high. John Pettit, of Lafayette, one of the Senators who had voted for the bill, and who, in the discussion of the measure, had said that the portion of the declaration of Independence, stating that "all men are created equal" was a "self-evident lie".
On returning home, and in attempting to justify his actions in a speech before a large audience in the court house, he was hooted down and was unable to make himself heard.
I think it was in 1854, that my brother Samuel came from Illinois to make his home with me, and assist me in the business, in doing such of the outside work, in selling and delivering stones, and making collections. He was about twenty one years of age.
On the 12th of February, a son was born, and we named him Frank.
During these several years of business life, nothing of unusual interest occurred; my business was fairly good, and yet I cherished a hope of sometime removing to the country and engaging in farming.
A great deal was written and said about the delightful climate, healthfulness and beauty of Kansas; and many efforts were put forth in the North to colonize the country by organizing companies of congenial people, who would settle together in communities. My brother and I read much that was published in the New York Tribune, and other papers, about the efforts being made in the Southern States, especially by Missouri, to overrun the territory, and establish slavery therein, and became much interested in the matter.