I STEP OUT ON THE SEA OF LIFE, ALONE, ETC.
OCTOBER 19TH. -- Friday, we sat, as it were, with bonnets on, to be in readiness for the steamer, for they make short stops, and Capt. Walter's was more than one-half mile from the river. Just as the sun was hiding himself afar off down behind the distant horizon, and night was hanging her gray mantle over all scenery, coloring it all the time to a darker shade, and memory busy in, picturing to the mind's eye the depth of sorrow that had flowed into the already desolate heart just at the same hour two weeks ago, when the dusky hues of night were coming on, the word came, "The Russel is here!" Then the command was given to the servant, "Hurry with the baggage!" and the word, "the carriage is at the door." The last farewells were then spoken, and we hurried away to obey the call of duty, when a cord of cable size would not have held the soul's affections, and body with them, form ???? the pleasant little town of Booneville.
The steamer moved, breathing heavily, down the river; I gazed upon the place we had left with thoughts unutterable, until a bend in the river, and the deep shade of night shut from my view, no doubt forever, the spot most dear to me of all on earth.
When seated in the saloon, my Mema said, "Mamma, it seems just as though we had come away and left papa and Willie, and they were feeling bad." Ah, how natural the supposition.
There are many very pleasant ladies on board, and one feels a radiance of warmth in associating with Southern people, so that when the hand is extended it is a surety that the heart is not far off. The steamer has just passed Alton, where the bright waters of the Mississippi flow with the "dark Missouri flood," and side by side they roll on for miles before they will venture to mingle. This is a very bright afternoon; all the scenery looks familiar -- the trees are clothes in as green a dress as when I looked upon them last Spring, -- no frost has tinged them with richness yet. Flocks of wild ducks light on the sand-bars, and when the steamer ploughs along near them they are frightened up, but soon light upon the sand-bar again. The cars have just passed -- the track runs close along by the river; they are going from Jefferson City to St. Louis. We shall soon be there.
OCTOBER 21ST. -- Sunday eve, as soon as we went into St. Louis, crossed over the river and took the cars for Chicago; rode all night and all day yesterday, until four o'clock P. M., when we found ourselves in the great city of Chicago; changed cars, procured tickets for Jackson, Mich. Arrived in this city at three o'clock this morning. Came immediately to my brother-in-law's, -- Albert Foster's. It was pleasant to look upon a face that had been seen before. All seemed rejoiced to welcome us, the widow and fatherless, to all the comforts of a happy and refined home; and although my own dear sister had, many years ago, gone to her reward in Heaven, I found her place well supplied by a good sister Hannah.
I rode from Chicago to this place without holding up my head, it ached so hard, and so I have been obliged to keep my bed all day; I feel better to-night; have visited some, but am now in my room again to rest.
OCTOBER 22D. -- Have been riding with friends, all about this fine city; have visited the cemetery, where, among the sleeping dead, lie some of my own kindred. Have been to the State Prison; went into its chapel, workshop, eating department, cookroom, and cells; saw hundreds of prisoners at work, dressed in their roundabout stripes; heard the wailing and self-condemnation of the raving maniac, who crime had been murder. Truly, "the way of the transgressor is hard," when man condemns and punishes. O, when will mortal man look upon all mankind as brethren, and the so-called prisoner be looked upon as a diseased person demanding pity instead of as a culprit deserving condemnation?
The Democrats are having a great torch-light procession to-night; great excitement about the Presidential election.
NOVEMBER 6TH. -- I returned form Parma, the distance of fifteen miles, on the cars, two days ago, where I had been to visit a brother whom I had not seen for years. What joy thrills the soul when severed members of the same family meet; tears flow as gems of gladness, upon receiving the tender embrace of love; the memory of early days sweeps over the whole frame like an electric shock, painting a full panoramic view of childhood scenes, when we were gathered, "like olive branches," around the same paternal board; receiving alike the "well done," or the rebuke of parents. Then the spring-time of life is talked of, and lived over again, -- and we fancy for a moment that time has not led us out form the sheltered cove on to the broad sea of life, rocked our frail barques with the howling winds of blasted hopes, nor shipwrecked us with keen tempest of sorrow.
My Mema has been sick a number of days with a slow fever; so I have my place by her side day and night, watching the disease, and nursing and administering to her wants. With the advice of friends, the homeopathic physician was called to see her yesterday, so she is under his treatment, while I have the privilege of giving her all water treatment I choose. Oh, I hope my last, my all, will not be taken from me!
NOVEMBER 15TH. -- Received to-day the following letter:
OFFICE OF CONNECTICUT MUTUAL )
MRS. WM. H. COLT,
-- Jackson, Mich:
Have written to Booneville, and to St. Lawrence Co., N. Y., for the proof required at the insurance office, besides several letters to friends.
Mema's slow fever has taken the intermittent form -- chills and fever; she is very weak, -- requires much care. My friends are very kind. Yes, the sympathetic balm is still poured upon the sorrow-crushed heart.
NOVEMBER 29TH. -- Have just received a letter from friends in New York, containing very sad news about the friends that were left in Kansas. It seems that after we left Kansas, father Colt was taken with the congestive chills, and died very suddenly and unexpectedly, in the third chill, (as they most always do,) at eve, just as darkness was beginning to brood all over the Kansas prairies. Mother Colt and sister L., although weak and feeling sorely afflicted, watched alone with the dead husband and father through the long, dark and gloomy night, when the dismal howl of the prairie wolves could be heard all around and in the distance, as they traversed the dark landscape -- and the chill prairie wind came sighing mournfully in between the chinkless logs and at the blanket door; while nestling about between the stones of the floor, and under the loosened bark of the logs, were scores of crickets and katy-dids, pealing forth their nightly songs, thinking, perchance, to soothe and while away the long, unmeasured hours; while to the watchers, theirs were the notes of the funeral dirge. The looked-for morning at length dawned; then kind neighbors came in and dressed the cold form of the departed for the grave. They nailed together some of the rough "punchuns" he had taken from the wigwam ruins, for a coffin, wrapped him in a winding sheet and Indian blanket, and laid him therein; then bore him away without prayer, requiem or knell, and laid him in his narrow home beneath the rich soil of the prairie, on whose bosom were still blossoming many a rich-tinted flower. His grave was made a little south-west of his rude dwelling, (the centre octagon,) where the oak and walnut trees scattered out from the woodlands on to a lovely prairie swell, inclining to the northward, just enough to make a cool and pleasant shade, and which was known to the Company as "Sober's place." He was not laid there to rest alone, for all around were marks where the earth was treasuring the red man's bones.
Mr. Stewart took the widow and fatherless to his own home. It was thought, for many days that mother Colt would not long survive her husband's death; but she began to be better, and was very anxious to start for her Northern home. Henly, who proved himself to us to be a Border Ruffian robber and extortioner, told them that we were in Missouri, in order to get their cow, calf, tools, other utensils and money besides for taking them to Carthage, where he left us, and where he told them they would find us; when he knew very well we intended to journey right along. When out in Missouri, they were very much disappointed in not finding us, but were determined, with their failing strength and means to go northward; they thought they might as well die on the road as where they were among strangers. Disappointment, sickness, sorrow, and almost despair, gave energy to the weak, excited nerves, and they hastened on. The same man that took us to Booneville, carried them to Jefferson City. The hand of charity was extended, and the feeble mother carried from car to car by strong men. The same evening that I and my child went into St. Louis on the steamer, they, mother and daughter, too, went in on the cars. So near each other were afflicted friends, and yet knew not what had befallen each other. They journeyed on, and on the 27th of October arrived in Stockholm, St. Lawrence Co., N.Y., at a daughter's and sister's.
On the 4th of November, mother Colt bade adieu to all the scenes of mortal life, and joined the other members of the family, who had a few weeks before entered upon the confines of the unseen world. It was only for a few days that she rested from the anxiety of traveling, reposed upon a downy bed, enjoyed the fresh linen, and received all the attention of a sweet and loving daughter, who would have all tread softly, that the wearied and sick mother might rest. But thank Heaven for the few days she was permitted to look up into loving and familiar faces, and receive the kind welcome from old neighbors, and after receive a Christian burial, and be laid beside those of the family who had gone years before.
Often father Colt would say, when we urged him to leave Kansas with us, "I had as lief lay my bones in Kansas, as in any other place;" and so it has come to pass. But to think of a death in Kansas, in that wild though beautiful country; to be laid away in a rough box, in a grave marked only while the mound looks newly made; away from all kindred and friends who would drop on it a tear, or plant on it a flower, seems to me horrible in the extreme; and it gives me a melancholy pleasure to think that my husband and child died in a land of civilization, where for a few days they had the comforts of a tidy room and bed, and pillows on which to rest their heads as the curtain of life fell, and ushered them into the spirit land, -- where they could have pure cold water right from the fountain, and enough of it too, to quench their feverish thirst. I could wish that our dead might be gathered up and laid side by side. Surely, we have been a "doomed ship." The words of the Psalmist are upon my lips, "O Lord; rebuke me not in Thy wrath; neither chasten me in Thy hot displeasure; for thine arrows stick fast in me, and Thy hand presseth me sore."
DECEMBER: 19TH. -- Mema has had a very hard chill to-day; it seemed as though she would shake all to pieces, and so it has been for many days past; she would be shaking when the little girls came home from school at noon, and other members of the family came to dinner. Then the question has been asked so many times, "How is Mema?" My answer has been, and is, "O, she has another hard chill!" until I can hardly bear to have any one ask me how she is. I continue the same treatment. She lies so quiet and still nights that many times in the course of the night I hold my ear close down to her chest, to listen for her breathing. I tremble with fear and anxiety about her, lest I may soon have to part with her. My friends are more than kind; they are indulgent -- their kindness I can never repay -- may Heaven recompense them for administering to the wants of the poor and afflicted.
My Mema has been sick (with the exception of a few days at a time, when she has taken medicine to stop the chills,) since last June.
DECEMBER 22D. -- This is Mema's 10th birth-day; she missed her chill yesterday, and has also missed it to-day; seems much better; I do hope they will leave her now to get well.
I have received many kind and sympathizing letters from friends of late, which send a wave of joy o'er the troubled waters of my sea of life, to think there are many noble hearts that remember me.
DECEMBER 27TH. -- For a few evenings past have had the privilege of attending O. S. Fowler's lectures on the very interesting subject of phrenology. I have long been anxious to hear Fowler, having read so many of his works. Called on him at the hotel, and was introduced to his very intelligent lady -- had a very pleasant time.
JANUARY 5TH, 1857. -- For a number of days this live city has been all alive with gayety, pleasure and enjoyment of the holidays. Old Santa Claus has been round and round, making sparkling eyes, and bringing out merry laughter from the little folks, upon their seeing what beauties, what sweets, and what oddities the old gentleman kept stored away in his "leather pockets," to rattle down the chimney into their stockings. Nor has the mirth been confined to the juveniles alone, for many an older face has brightened with joy on beholding some elegant Christmas or New Year's present, said to have come from out the "leather pockets." Then has come the calling together of dispersed families and friends, to gather around the richly supplied board, partake of all its dainties, and have warm and loving hearts more tenderly boned together. The lately made widow and fatherless have not been forgotten in the distribution from the "leather pockets," visits, rides, and sumptuous fare of the season; but more than all I have enjoyed the return of health, that imprints itself upon the face of my child from day to-day. I have to-day received the looked-for letter from Booneville -- I will note its contents.
BOONEVILLE, Mo., Dec. 6th, 1856.
MY DEAR MRS. COLT -- Some time has elapsed since your letter were received; I have been truly grieved that I have not been able to get your business done, until within a few days. Mr. Walter was not able to get the gentlemen together in order to have it done according to law. He has now forwarded the papers to the Insurance Co., as directed.
I was much pleased indeed at the reception of your letter, as so long a time had elapsed without hearing of your safe arrival. I had felt anxious in regard to you. I am very glad you are once more among your friends, as you will naturally feel more at home than you would among strangers, after your very sad bereavement, but am sorry to hear of the sickness of your dear little girl; hope ere this that her health is entirely recovered.
There has been a great deal of sickness in the hotel since you left. Your friends, who are many, so far as I know, are well, and often inquire about you. My family join with me in sending much love to you, and your child -- we shall be pleased to hear from you often. May God bless you and yours.
M. C. WALTER.
Another letter has just been placed in my hand; it is from sister Mary Colt Everts, of Stockholm, New York. She announces the death of sister Lydia Colt. She died the last day of December. In the short space of four months, five, of seven in a family, have passed on through the shadowy, misty path that veils from the vision of mortals the glorious view of immortality. They have gone home -- "HOME to die no more;" -- myself and child are permitted to tarry yet a little longer, to feel all the loneliness, gloom and sorrow that encircle the bereaved heart.
JANUARY 21ST. -- Arrived here in Owasso to-day; find my nephew, B. W. Davis, and his lady, well. The weather is very cold; we have had good sleighing since the 20th of November; -- I see no difference between this winter in Michigan and a Montreal winter -- cold and with deep snow alike. I and my child have journeyed with and by the kindness of friends, across the country, eighty miles, from Jackson to this place. Have had a good, long, and very pleasant sleigh-ride; staid one night in Lansing, the Capital. The State Legislature is in session, and the town was so full of people that Mr. Carpenter (the gentleman we journeyed with) looked a long time to find a vacant place in one of the hotels, where we could stay. We stopped one week in Bingham, near St. Johns, where we spent the time very pleasantly, visiting with old acquaintances; they then brought us to this place. I like this part of Michigan -- it is a general level, but with eminences sufficient to give a pleasant variety of scenery -- fine flowing rivers, with lovely valleys. It is timbered with beach, birch, oak, maple, aspen, and walnut, which grow very large, tall, and straight; but just as we enter this town there begins to be a little sprinkling of pine, just enough to make the forests look dark and warm for winter; but not far north of this place, the woods darken into dense forests of pine, where much lumbering is done.
This country looks new but thrifty; when riding through the woods we would all of a sudden come right upon a thriving little town, made up of white cottages as clean as the drifted snow around them, scattered in among the stumps, the contrast adding beauty to their neat and tasty architecture; such are Lansing, Dewitt, St. Johns, Mason, etc., all growing like vegetation in summer-time. But the prettiest of the pretty, is this little Owasso, (bright spot) as the Indians called it, beautifully situated on the Shiowas river, Shiowassee County, and noted for its grand water-power. It is a young town, but very flourishing, as well as pretty and "bright." The "iron-horse" goes snorting through here many times a day. This railroad is to be built on from St. Johns, where it now terminates, to Lake Michigan.
JANUARY 25TH. -- In two or three days have received a number of letters, as tokens of remembrance from friends -- one from Mr. Edward Childs, who was formerly one of our Montreal friends' now residing in Toronto; when I opened it, out dropped, and fell at my feet, a ten dollar bill. I thought of the old adage, "A friend in need, is a friend indeed." May heaven reward him! It was received with thankful heart.
I meet old acquaintances in this place, whom I have not seen for many years -- not since I parted with them on the shore of Lake Champlain, when they stepped forth into the world, bound for Michigan, which then was thought to be the "far West."
My relatives are doing much to make me happy while I tarry with them; we are going, or receiving company, almost every day, which is diverting for the time, and my heart is full of thanks to them; still my heart is sad, and a loneliness pervades my being, "every where I roam." O, who but the wanderer and the homeless can understand all the meaning that is volumed in the one word Home?
FEBRUARY 24TH. -- Have to-day received a letter from the Life Insurance Co., as follows, --
HARTFORD, Feb. 16th, 1857
WM. H. COLT,
Owasso, Mich. -- Yours of the 10th inst. is received. There
is nothing more required of you to perfect your claim on
policy insuring the life of your husband, and we are
ready to pay it, and have been since it was due on the
1st inst. upon discharge and surrender of the policy. *
* * *
* * *
and have written to Montreal for my policy, where it was sent last spring to have the premium endorsed by R. Wood, agent of the Life Insurance Co., and in care of M. Babcock, a friend. When my husband sent it, he did not know what the amount of the premium would be, and did not send enough to pay it, so it had to be retained until the whole was paid, consequently he did not get said policy before we started for Kansas.
My Mema is improving in health from day to day, and enjoys herself very much with the little girls she meets here and there while visiting. As there are no children here for her to play with, her cousin has found a stray, half-starved, and half-frozen kitten at the barn, and brought it in for her to pet. It looks rough and forlorn; she imagines it is sick, so she is trying her skill to-day in the healing art, -- it has enjoyed the comfort of a warm soap-suds bath, and a dish of yarrow tea stands handily by, and very often the little caterwauler is forced to take a teaspoonful.
MARCH 13TH. -- A letter from friend Babcock has just been placed in my hand. He says, that on the 4th day of last August, according to my husband's orders, he mailed said policy, enveloped, with money, to Neosho City, Kansas Territory, via Fort Scott.
So now comes another dilemma. What is to be done? surely the Fates are about my path! I knew nothing of the orders my husband gave for the policy; and he was so very sick in his last illness, that I conclude he forgot to mention the fact. Previous to our leaving Kansas he wrote to the postmaster in Fort Scott, to send his mail to West Stockholm, New York; so that if all was right, I should have had some tidings of the wanted policy. I have no doubt but that the envelope was broken open, the money taken, and the policy destroyed somewhere on its way. Have just written another letter to the Insurance co., giving them an account of the loss of the policy, and asking their advice. This is the twentieth letter I have written in regard to this insurance business.
It shall be my endeavor not to be too much cast down in viewing the dark clouds of adversity that seem to be gathering in my horizon; but may I remember that Infinite Wisdom deals out the destiny of mortals, and He will give only what will be for my good. I have already been showered with many more blessings than I could have asked, since I deposited my Treasures in the lonely city of Booneville. Of a truth, I have found Jesus out on the sea.
MARCH 26TH. -- Two days ago came another letter from the Insurance Co; it reads as follows, --
HARTFORD, March 19th, 1857
MRS. WM. H. COLT, OWASSO, Mich.:
In addition to this affidavit, we must have your bond, with some responsible person as surety, in the amount of $3,000 -- conditioned that you covenant with the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company to guaranty and defend said company against all claims and demands by reason of said policy, and to hold them harmless from all liabilities by reason thereof. The bond should state as the explanation, that the policy (describing it) is lost, and gone from your possession, but the amount claimed by it has been paid by the company.
The preparation of these papers may make you some trouble, but we cannot do with less and be protected. It will be necessary for you to get some lawyer to draw them up, who will understand what is necessary if you detail what I have written, and state the circumstances of the case to him.
We shall want the
certificate of some third person, that your surety is
responsible for the amount of the bond. With these papers
correctly made and executed, and the addition of your
discharge of the policy in form, as enclosed, we shall be
willing to pay the amount due ($1,959 13) upon receipt of
the papers. * *
I have been to a lawyer; have had the required papers made out, and the bond signed by A. H. Byerly, a very wealthy gentleman of this little town, and B. W. Davis, my nephew. I cannot express my gratitude in words to Mr. Byerly for stepping up like a good brother and aiding me, a stranger, at this critical juncture, to obtain what is my due, and what will give a livelihood to me and my child. Mr. Byerly has sent the papers out by express to-day.
MARCH 27TH. -- My good niece, Jenny, other friends, myself and. Mema, have been to Mr. Hinman's, visiting, and to eat warm sugar.. The clay has been bright and lovely; from the fast melting snow, little brooks have purled in every direction; such sunny days point one on to the time of singing birds, young and tender leaves, and budding flowers; when they say, "Owasso will be a bright spot indeed." We enjoyed our walk very much there and back on the railroad, stepping from tie to tie, to show our dexterity; but we enjoyed our visit more with the two very pleasant Mrs. Hinmans; then came the new warm maple sugar, which was very nice indeed.
APRIL 4TH. -- Was up town to-day visiting a friend, when Mr. Byerly (the Express agent) came in where I was visiting and placed a package in my hand. I opened it -- when was presented to my view the whole amount of money for which the life of my husband had been insured: a thousand thoughts rushed into my mind, and the tears could not be kept in their fountain, but would trickle down my cheeks in spite of the effort at self-command which I was making. I thought, "It is just six months to-day, since I saw all that was mortal of that beloved husband laid away to rest in the cold bosom of Mother Earth, far from any kindred, only the precious Willie that was sleeping by his side." I thought, "how pleased he always seemed to be to keep the premiums paid on the policy, so as to have the insurance secure, saying, 'that is for you and the children, if anything should happen to me that I should be taken from you;' and when about to be released from the clay, when his limbs were paralyzed with weakness -- just before his calm, strong, and noble mind began to wander -- and when his voice was lowered to a whisper -- it seemed to cheer and comfort him in his weakness that he had made such a provision, when he whispered, "You know you have that insurance money."
It is precious to me far beyond its moneyed value, for I feel that it is the "price of blood" -- the life blood of that beloved husband -- garnered for this one day of need. I hope I shall have wisdom to invest it, and to use it with economy, that it may subserve the original design.
I cannot be thankful enough to my friends for their assistance, to the insurance company for the honorable and gentlemanly manner of dealing with me, nor to God for His guidance in it all.
APRIL 8TH. -- With the advice of friends, have rented the greater part of my money at 10 per cent interest, taking mortgages for security, on land. I have been in this pleasant "bright spot" of a town almost three months; have made many acquaintances, and feel very much attached to them; cannot leave without feeling a sadness at heart at parting with friends, who have manifested so much kindness and sympathy; they will long be remembered by me. Have said farewell to them all, and shall leave in the morning on the six o'clock train for Jackson, via Detroit.
APRIL 9TH. -- We were on the cars by the time this morning -- hastily passing through a new and somewhat rough part of Michigan, but which is to become a fine country. At half-past ten a. m. the cars stopped at the depot, in the large city of Detroit. My nephew, who had accompanied us thus far, took us to the Waverly House, to wait for the train going west. We amused ourselves until dinner was called, by looking down into the street at what was passing there -- fashionable ladies, richly arrayed in brocades, feathers and furs, would pass along; then the beggar girl, with tatters streaming in the breeze, would follow in their wake; then would come the business man, the lawyer, doctor, student, clerk, and perchance the minister; and then would pass the sewing girl, the servant maid, market boy, old lady in rusty black, dray-man and black man; and then a man in form, who would reel from one side of the street to the other, complaining all the time of the streets and buildings moving. After dinner, we attended the exhibition of sewing machines in an adjoining parlor. We took tea; then it was announced that the train was ready. My good nephew then waited upon us to the cars, bade us good bye, then waved his hand in token of good wishes, as the whistle was blown and the train started off. The sun was down soon, and the night shut from our view the delightful country through which we passed. After another ride of 80 miles, and at ten o'clock, we found ourselves here in Jackson, at the white cottage of my brother-in-law, Albert Foster. We are welcomed back with many kind greetings, and much chatting has been done. Now, in this pleasant chamber again, it looks home-like, and seems to bid the tired rest.
APRIL 15TH.. -- Attended the sewing society of the ladies of the Methodist church, with sister Hannah, to-day. It was well attended by fine, intelligent, energetic and benevolent ladies, whose whole hearts were engaged in their work of benevolence. I enjoyed being there as well as I could expect, for this has been a day of review with me. It is just one year to-day since our family, all well, started for that far-famed Kansas; the whole sad picture has swung before my vision all day, rolling in upon me like the dark billows from the troubled ocean. The past year has been to me one in which has been gathered enough of dark shadows for a life time; rolled up and condensed to make the darkness still more dark, and the sorrow deeper and more overwhelming.
MAY 2D. -- Within the past two weeks have visited my brother again at Parma, and old acquaintances in Spring Arbor and Marshal, whom I have not seen since the days of my girlhood -- in the morning of life -- when hope was high, and the heart was young. It is pleasant thus to meet old friends, to go back in years and for a while forget one's griefs, in living again, in fancy, beneath skies that had no clouds for the future, where the bow of hope ever spanned the heavens, and where not a rumble of distant thunder was caught by the ear's quick and sensitive tympanum, to hint that in the distant future lay hid the seeds of storms, dark and furious.
MAY 18TH. -- Left Jackson, the 11th, at five o'clock P. M. My dear, good friends accompanied us to the cars, and put us in charge of those that were coming East. We bade farewell again, and off on the lightning train we sped our way, past marshes, little lakes, fine farms, pleasant villas, and handsome cities and over sparkling brooks, meandering through a fine undulating country, dotted with groves, sparse woodlands, church spires, and beautiful habitations. At eight in the evening we arrived at Detroit, crossed the river, and rode all night, through Canada, on the Grand Trunk Railway.
At five o'clock A. M., on the morning of the 12th we came to one of the world's wonders, the Suspension Bridge at Niagara. Here we were delayed a few hours in consequence of a train running off from the track, which gave us time to view this grand work of art, displayed in the mechanism of the Suspension Bridge, and the sublime work of nature in the Falls of Niagara. Who can stand on the trembling earth, and look at the waters from the great lakes pouring over the rocks of ages into the unfathomable abyss below, foaming, sudsing, sparkling, spraying, and describe it? Able pens must fail if they attempt it; then let mine be still. Wonder, sublimity, ideality and language, are all frozen into a state of inertia while viewing the grand scene, amid its roar and mist. After a little, these words may be breathed from the lips, and vibrate on the ear. "Marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." We walked down and up the 300 stairs, then back again along by the precipice, two miles, to the cars.
I did not hold up my head riding from Niagara to Syracuse; then was obliged to leave the cars and go to a hotel, and stay two nights and one day, suffering with a sick headache. Arrived at :Potsdam at five o'clock P. M., on the 11th, at my eldest brother's, where we were received many warm greetings. Made a short stop in Potsdam, visiting friends, and now to-day finds us in West Stockholm, at brother Hiram Davis's. We are also welcomed back again here by many; here resides my aged, widowed mother, and here we expect to abide. I would now thank my God for His watchful care over us, through the dark and howling storms of adversity and sorrow, when all were shipwrecked and lost save us two. We have rode on the waves of life, and are now safely moored in our old town, near friends, and only seven miles from where we embarked on that ill-fated Kansas Expedition.
MAY 22D. -- Have bought of my brother the five acre lot, almost opposite his house, and entirely disconnected from his farm; have paid him $200 for it; intend to build on it a very small cottage, so that I can have a little home of my own, be near my mother, and claim a brother's protection.
MAY 26TH. -- Intend to work on my five acre farm all I can, in order to be economical, improve my health by being in the open air, and to try and dispel the dark clouds of sorrowful thought that would overwhelm me if unoccupied. I have done very well, part of the day, in taking my first lesson in planting corn.
Last Winter I wrote a letter to the postmaster at Grand Rapids, where resided a brother of friend Wheeler, whom we left sick in Mellville, Mo., to see if I could learn if he was in this mortal world. I have just received a letter from said Wheeler. He says that after we left him he was very sick for many weeks, -- suffered all he could and live. Says, "My pen shall never tell what I suffered." He is now at the Water Cure, in the western part of this State, "trying," he says, "to get the drug medicines out of my system."
JUNE 10TH. -- Leafy June; singing birds, and fields of many shades of green have come; from mother earth spring blade and leaf from all the seeds that rest in her bosom, causing man to look forward with hope to the coming of a plentiful harvest. I have planted potatoes, beans, peas, and many garden seeds.
Although I am no architect, yet I have drawn the plan of my little house, and the builders are engaged. Have received a letter from a friend; it reads thus:
BOONEVILLE, MO., April 1, 1857.
MRS. WM. H. COLT:
Esteemed Madam -- I
received a letter from you, of March 28th, several days
since, and a note from Col. A. G. Boone, of Westport, in
reference to your goods, and have this moment received
his reply, from which I extract the following sentence:
"The goods have, or a part of them, sufficient to
pay the expenses, been sold; and the remainder shipped to
the lady, according to her instructions." I regret
very much the delay in the matter, but presume it has
been deferred on account of the river and all means of
easy and safe transit being closed during the Winter. I
was truly gratified to hear from you, and that you had
met with kind friends. Wherever your lot may be cast, if
it be among the good and true, they will be friends of
yours. It is a matter of regret with us that we were
unable to do something of real merit for you; but when
the heart is riven, and the sun of hope seems set in the
ocean of bitter disappointment, and the cup of joy dashed
with grief, then human sympathy is mockery, and God, the
Father, the only ark of refuge to which we can point, or
from whom derive consolation. We who had the privilege of
knowing you, feel ourselves benefitted by the lesson of
meekness, and firm confidence in Providence; and of true
and noble womanly devotion, which we witnessed in your
tender love for those who sleep beneath the turf of our
little city. With the hope that you may never want for
kind and loving friends, and that the Dispenser of every
good will keep you faithful and true, even unto the end,
I am, madam, with the highest regard, your sincere friend
and well wisher,
WESTPORT, MO., April 12th, 1857.
MRS. WM. H. COLT:
Dear Madam -- I
have just received your letter, giving directions in
regard to the shipment of your goods. I received your
former letters, one from Booneville, the other from
Michigan. I wrote to Mr. Coffey in reply to the one
received from Booneville, and would have replied
immediately to the one from Michigan, but for want of
information from Kansas City at the time. Previous to the
reception of your former letter from Michigan, I had made
sale at public auction of such articles as remained after
making the reservation you requested at first -- Mr.
Coffey having instructed me to do so, saying, if they did
not sell for enough to pay the charges he would pay the
deficit himself. They sold for much better prices than I
anticipated, bringing within three or four dollars of
enough to pay the charges. The deficit being so small,
the commission merchants at Kansas City, Messrs.
Reiddleburger & Co., kindly agreed to make you a
present of it, and also to keep the goods until the
opening of navigation, and ship them to you without any
further charge. They applied to me about the first of
March for directions in regard to shipping, and I gave
them as contained in your former letter.
* * *
I suppose they have been sent, and have
probably arrived at their place of destination before
this. I sold the little tea-kettle you mentioned; but
knowing the gentleman who bought it, I called upon him,
and he readily consented to let me have it back. You will
therefore be gratified in your desire to have it. The
other little articles you mentioned were sold, and not
knowing to whom, I could not get them again. My services
in this matter have been a pleasure to me, and the
consciousness of having, even to this trifling extent,
rendered you any assistance in your afflictive
circumstances, is a sufficient reward.
* * I shall be very
glad to hear that your goods have reached you safely, and
shall feel anxious until I do. Write to me again when you
do receive them; or if you fail to receive them, let me
How great the kindness has been from every one since I stood up in the world alone. I thank Heaven for it.
JULY 4TH. -- I am visiting in the neighborhood from whence I started for Kansas. All the neighbors look as natural as when I left; every house, tree, stone, stump and log occupies the same place; even the chips in our old door-yard seem to be all there, and look precious to me because my Willie used to tread them so often, and pick from them for his mamma to make a good fire of to cook his papa's dinner. Every nook and corner of the old farm are the same, and for a moment seem to allure me with the thought that my own beloved husband and father Colt are busily at work somewhere on the farm. The little house, and flower garden in front, fain would say that mother Colt and sister L. still keep it tidy; train the drooping vine, and smile at the opening of every new flower.
This has been a day of national rejoicing; the booming of cannon has been heard in every direction. Near here there has been quite a fine celebration; the tall liberty-pole, with the stars and stripes streaming from its top in the pure air of Heaven, has betokened Liberty! when, to me, a sable banner would be more appropriate, as it would proclaim the bondage of thousands. I declined joining in the festivities of the day, for my heart is very sad; memories of the last Fourth have flitted before me all day; and now, at this late hour I am inclined to bid my thoughts to roam away to the Land of the blest, and the beautiful lines of Bulwer are on my lips:
JULY 27TH. -- The cellar is made, and the frame of my little house raised; the sound of the hammer, saw, and other tools is heard there early and late. My goods from Kansas City have come safe to hand, for which I am thankful. They are our clothing that was boxed, some bedding, and little choice articles, with my husband's books, which I prize more than all the rest; their value to me cannot be estimated by dollars.
A letter from Kansas has also been placed in my hand:
Kansas, May 17th,1857.
To us the past year has been one of many hardships and troubles, but our lives have been spared, and since about the time you left we have enjoyed good health. We have got things fixed up around, so that now we live quite comfortably.
Samuel (our brother who went to take Clubb to Kansas City) got home the evening after you left, in good health. He had some narrow escapes, and to get home he was obliged to go around through Missouri, one hundred miles out of his way. * *
Mr. Adams went shortly after you left to Maysville, Arkansas; we had a letter from them in the winter; their health had improved. The Broadbents both died shortly after old Mr. Colt. Mr. Hobbs went back to Ohio. Mrs. Barker remained with us until late in the fall, then went to Kansas City with the intention of going home. Buxton is still in the neighborhood. Blackburn went to Tennessee, home to his family.
Emigration is coming in very fast, and we are getting many new neighbors. There is a town laid off up the river five miles, and a steam mill is to be put up there this summer. Altogether, the prospects for us in the future are encouraging.
Mrs. Stewart has a son, born April 8th. She.is very well. The past winter has been quite mild -- the spring is backward.
We would be gratified
to have you write soon again. Receive our best wishes for
OCTOBER 17TH. -- Time is ever on the wing, however sad and lonely the heart may be. Autumn is visiting this latitude with rainy days, frosts, and bleak winds, premonitory of snow and the colder winds of winter.
My little cottage, the building of which I have been supervising, is now ready for its occupants and to-day I and my Mema have moved into it. Its dimensions are 19 by 29, with a piazza in front toward the west, and a wood-shed 12 by 16 back toward the east. Only two rooms -- both in front with each a door and a French window with blinds, opening on to the piazza. The living room or kitchen is 16 by 12, with a bed press, kitchen closet, pantry -- which is made partly in the wood-shed off from it -- one large window toward the north, and one in the bed press, which can be let down at the top for ventilation, besides the French window in front. My parlor is12 by 12, with a bed press, a nice cupboard for my precious books, a large window toward the south, and one in the bed press, also the French window in front. Up stairs I have two pleasant rooms and one large closet all furnished. A place is left below in the partition between the rooms to set a stove, so that one little stove warms the whole house. I have had my house built for comfort and simple neatness, not for fashion or elegance. It is well painted on the outside with white. My kitchen and pantry wood-work I have painted with a tinge of the first dawn of morning; my little parlor I shall paint white.
It seems very strange for us to be in a house alone; it is as still almost as the grave. It is raining hard and all the noise I can hear is the water running musically into the cistern in the cellar. Shall have plenty of soft water to pump up into the pantry, and shall know well how to prize it too. I have provisions stored in a large, deep cup-board that opens into the wood-shed, where not a mouse can get to nibble.
We have helped to harvest our corn and potatoes, which are put in the chamber and cellar for our present and future use. The beans are shelled and put in a bag, and good and mellow apples scent the cellar.
DECEMBER 15TH. -- My small barn is furnished, and "bossy-cow" is snugly ensconced in her warm stall. The part that our poultry will occupy is finished after the model of the late style of heneries. The fence, that will enclose one acre of ground and divide it into two parks, to keep the "biddies" from roaming, is being built six feet high with pickets. The half dozen Bramah chickens, that Mema brought from Michigan in a four quart wicker-basket on the cars, (causing great wonderment to all on board,) have grown to crowing roosters and laying hens and we have bought fifty more to live with them in their new home; I intend to keep 200, so that we shall have some business suitable for our rural home.
Altogether, my little home is costing me some over $300 more than what I expected, and what I brought money to pay; but my interest will soon pay it. I have given, and shall give my notes so as to meet them along as I get my dues. Was to receive interest every six months; the six months were up the first of October, but on account of the hard times this year the men have sent only $15; they are in hopes to send more soon. I was intending to get some plain, necessary furniture for my house, but in consequence of my money's not coming, have been obliged to pick up the cast-away bedsteads, chairs, etc., and paint them over, and must make do for the present.
DECEMBER 31ST. -- So far this is not a severe winter to go out in to do the chores of a man. We find our little home warm and handy; have the necessities of life supplied, for which I know well how to be thankful; but living by ourselves we miss husband and son -- father and brother, more it seems than when in the bustle of other's houses. As this has been the last day of the year -- and this eve the last eve, it seems a fitting time for retrospection; and as only a few days ago I entered upon my fortieth year, I can go back a long way in thought, review my path all the way along up, and now let my thoughts rest for a little on The Widow's Home and Heart. Months have passed away, and still he comes not. The widow's heart is still bleeding from the deep wound that has been made, and which still seems to be incurable. Everything around seems draped in a darker hue since he whom she loved so well is gone. Even the moon in her silver brightness and the sun with his golden rays seem dim, compared with the days when her heart was cheered by him who was her pride, her hope, her "polar star." The sable garb is still kept on -- colors would not be in unison with the mourning of the soul. Still she must try and appear cheerful, and not darken the path-way of other mortals; for what good would come of letting the world know how often every passing day and season is reflected back with a cutting smart upon her own sad heart, as she stands up in the world alone.
She beholds many manly faces, both in public and private, but her heart asks -- where, O, where is the one that smiled on me, and the arm that gave to me protection? Glad days come and go, when husbands gather up their wives and little ones, and hasten to their friends to enjoy a rich repast and social chat. But a tear gathers in her eye, and her heart seems too big to be carried in her bosom, as she endeavors to appear bright, and wishes all much joy.
When the comfortable meal is made ready, and the chairs placed around the table, the place opposite hers is vacant, and no word is given to call him who once graced that place.
When even-tide comes on, and everything is done up for the day, and that which she was not wont to do is done, when the blinds are closed -- the world shut out, there is no listening to hear his footsteps fall lightly at the door; no anticipation of his coming still later, and no expectation of seeing the door open, and of hearing that well-known voice say, "Well, here again" -- no, no! The evening must be spent in lonely thought, or an effort be made to get interested in some work or book that will seem to make the sands drop faster and faster until the time for retiring shall come. But sleep seems to be at a distance -- thoughts acuter grow -- view after view of the past revolves before her -- thought after thought, hope after hope dies again -- fear after fear darkens, until at last she loses herself in quiet sleep. Then that eye, which ever beamed on her with affection, and that arm, which was ever ready to protect her, is with her; and as she nestles to his side, and hears again that voice that was wont to say, "I love you," she is happy.
Morning comes -- the vision's flown -- she sighs and says: "How can I, O! how can I live?" But the departing voice whispers as it recedes, "You have one left -- live for that one."