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Title: Old Days at Beverly Farms
Author: Dow, Mary Larcom
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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OLD DAYS

AT

BEVERLY FARMS

BY

MARY LARCOM DOW

[Illustration: Decoration]

PUBLISHED AND SOLD BY NORTH SHORE PRINTING CO. FIVE WASHINGTON STREET
BEVERLY, MASSACHUSETTS 1921


COPYRIGHT 1921 BY KATHARINE P. LORING


[Illustration: _Door of the Larcom House where Mrs. Dow lived_]



PREFACE


During the last month of his life, Mr. Dow asked his friend and pastor,
Rev. Clarence Strong Pond, to see that "Old Days at Beverly Farms,"
written by Mrs. Dow, was printed. He also asked me to write a sketch of
her life to publish with it. The answer is this little book, a loving
tribute from many friends.

Beside those whose names appear on its pages, Mrs. Alice Bolam
Preston has drawn the front door and knocker of the "Homestead." Mrs.
Bridgeford and Mrs. Edwin L. Pride supplied the originals of the
portraits. Mrs. Howard A. Doane, "Elsie," has collected information,
in which task she has been helped by many of the neighbors. The money,
without which we could have done nothing, has been given by Mrs. F.
Gordon Dexter, Mrs. Charles M. Cabot, Miss Elizabeth W. Perkins and
Miss Louisa P. Loring.

Mrs. William Caleb Loring bought Mrs. Dow's house after her death and
gave it to St. John's Parish for a parish house. She directed that a
tablet should be placed in it to preserve the memory of our friend.

In examining the titles Mr. Samuel Vaughan found that Mrs. Dow's
great grandfather, Jonathan Larcom, did not sell his slaves. He was
administrator of his father, David Larcom's estate in 1775. In the
appraisal, six slaves are mentioned by name, valued at £106 13s. 4d.
but none are mentioned in the division. It appears that they became
free when their master died. All slaves were considered free in
Massachusetts when the State Constitution was adopted in 1780.

KATHARINE P. LORING



CONTENTS

                                        Page
Sketch of Mary Larcom Dow                  9

Old Days at Beverly Farms                 25

Lucy Larcom--A Memory                     63

Letters written by Mrs. Dow               68

Appreciation by Sarah E. Miller           79

Extracts from letters about Mrs. Dow      81



THE LIFE

OF

MARY LARCOM DOW


"It seems as if the spirit had dropped out of Beverly Farms since Molly
Ober died."

One of her friends said this and the others feel it. For sixty years
or more she was the leader in the real life of the place. And speaking
of friends, there is no limit of them, for her genial kindly nature
allowed us all to claim that prized relationship.

Mary Larcom Ober was the daughter of Mary Larcom and Benjamin Ober.
Mrs. Ober's parents were Andrew and Molly, (Standley) Larcom. Andrew's
father and mother were Jonathan and Abigail (Ober) Larcom; they had
eight children, the three youngest of whom are connected with this
story. The oldest of these three was David who married Elizabeth
Haskell known as "Aunt Betsey"; they had a son David. The next brother
was Benjamin whose first wife was Charlotte Ives, and his second, Lois
Barrett. Of this second marriage, one of the daughters was Lucy Larcom,
the poetess and the editor also of the "Lowell Offering." Andrew Larcom
was the youngest of these brothers. Thus it is that his granddaughter,
our Mary, was a cousin in the next generation of Lucy Larcom; although
she was older than Mary they were always great friends and what Lucy
tells us in "A New England Girlhood" of her experience is as true of
one as of the other little girl.


     "Our parents considered it a duty that they owed to the youngest
     of us to teach us doctrines. And we believed in our instructors,
     if we could not always digest their instructions."

     "We learned to reverence truth as they received it and lived it,
     and to feel that the search for truth was the one chief end of
     our being. It was a pity that we were expected to begin thinking
     upon hard subjects so soon, and it is also a pity that we were set
     to hard work while so young. Yet these were both the inevitable
     results of circumstances then existing, and perhaps the two
     belonged together. Perhaps habits of conscientious work induce
     thought and habits of right thinking. Certainly right thinking
     naturally impels people to work."


Mr. Andrew Larcom lived on the farm where Mr. Gordon Dexter now lives;
here our Mary's mother was born and passed her childhood. It was a
delightful farm with much less woodland than now and its boundaries
were much larger; salt hay was cut on the marsh land that stretched
toward the sea, and where it ended above the beach there were thickets
of wild plum, whose purple fruit made delicious preserves. This marsh
was not drained as it is now, little rivers of water ran through it at
high tide reflecting the sunlight.

When Benjamin Ober, who was first mate of an East Indiaman, married
Mary Larcom they went to live in the house on the north side of Mingo
Beach Hill. It was a smaller house then, and close to the road, with a
lovely outlook over the sea. A page of Lucy Larcom's gives so charming
an account of "the Farms" it must be quoted here, as Mary Ober was fond
of it. The old homestead was where Andrew and Mary Larcom lived, while
"Uncle David" and "Aunt Betsey" lived in the house which we know as
Mary Ober's house in the middle of the village.


     "Sometimes this same brother would get permission to take me on
     a longer excursion, to visit the old homestead at the "Farms."
     Three or four miles was not thought too long a walk for a healthy
     child of five years, and that road in the old time, led through
     a rural Paradise beautiful at every season,--whether it was the
     time of song sparrows and violets, or wild roses, or coral-hung
     barberry bushes, or of fallen leaves and snow drifts. We stopped
     at the Cove Brook to hear the cat birds sing, and at Mingo Beach
     to revel in the sudden surprise of the open sea and to listen to
     the chant of the waves always stronger and grander there than any
     where along the shore. We passed under dark wooded cliffs out into
     sunny openings, the last of which held under its skirting pines
     the secret of the prettiest wood path to us, in all the world, the
     path to the ancestral farm-house."

     "Farther down the road where the cousins were all grown up men and
     women, Aunt Betsey's cordial old-fashioned hospitality sometimes
     detained us a day or two. We watched the milking, fed the chickens
     and fared gloriously. Aunt Betsey could not have done more to
     entertain us had we been the President's children."

     "We took in a home-feeling with the words 'Aunt Betsey' then
     and always. She had just the husband that belonged to her in my
     Uncle David, an upright man, frank-faced, large of heart and
     spiritually-minded. He was my father's favorite brother, and to
     our branch of the family, 'the Farms' meant Uncle David and Aunt
     Betsey."


The Farms was of greater relative importance in those days. The farms
were fairly fertile and were carefully tilled. Their owners, former sea
captains, were well-to-do, there were two good schools and the Third
Social Library was founded in 1806. The first catalogue, written in
1811, is still preserved, there are some books marked "Read at Sea,"
among them "The Saint's Everlasting Rest," "Edwards on Affliction" and
the first volume of Josephus, cheerful reading for the young captains.

Toward the middle of the century summer fishing took the place of
merchant voyages, so the sea-men turned to shoe making in the winter.
Almost every house had its little 10 x 10 shoe shop, in which was room
for one man on a low stool, a chair for a visitor, an iron stove, a
bench with tools, the oval lap-stone to peg shoes on, with rolls and
scraps of leather, withal a pungent smell.

In the house on Mingo Beach Hill our Mary Larcom Ober was born in 1835
and here her father died in the same year. There was an older sister
Abigail, who died when she was a young woman.

After a while, the widow returned to her father's home; in 1840 she was
married to her cousin David Larcom the younger, and they lived in the
Larcom House at the Farms. As his father, the first "Uncle David" died,
in the same year, his widow, "Aunt Betsey", moved upstairs. David and
his wife with her children Abby and Mary lived below; four children
were born to them David, Lydia, Joseph and Theodore.

From Mingo Beach Hill and the homestead the West Farms school was
nearer, so Mary must first have gone to school in the little square
building which was later for one year the High School, now since many
years a dwelling house near Pride's Crossing. After the family moved to
the Farms she probably went to the East Farms school, which was nearly
opposite the church. She spent some time at the Francestown Academy,
Hillsboro County, New Hampshire, and finished her education at the
State Normal School in Salem where she was graduated with the second
class after its foundation. She with her sister Abby worked their way
through this school by binding shoes. This was the women's share of the
hand-made shoe described in Lucy Larcom's "Hannah binding shoes."

Soon after graduation, Mary was appointed teacher in a grammar school
at Brewster on Cape Cod. The next year she was engaged for a school in
Castine, Maine. Here she found the pupils were big boys, almost men
grown, and she feared she would not be able to manage them. However,
when they found that she was a good teacher who could give them what
they wanted to learn, there was no trouble.

Then in 1858 and 1859 our Miss Ober began to teach the Farms School
(the two schools being united) on Indian Hill just above Pride's
Crossing station; the building was remodelled later and is now the
house of Mrs. James F. Curtis. Grades were unknown, she had some
twenty to thirty pupils of all ages, but she managed to keep them
in order and to teach them so well that they always remembered what
they learned. She stimulated the bright children to greater effort
and she encouraged the dull ones so that they were surprised into
understanding. One of her old girls told me how they loved her but
feared her in school, and enjoyed her when out. She especially liked
boiled lobster and dandelion greens served together; whenever these
viands were for dinner the child was told by her mother to bring the
teacher home to share them, and "then what a good time we had." She
smiled as she said it, but there was a tear in her eye.

At about this time Miss Ober was engaged to an attractive young man, a
teacher in the Beverly Farms school. There was every promise of a happy
life, but unfortunately he died. Miss Ober went on with her school
until 1870, except during 1862 and 1865, but she was not strong and her
health was impaired.

In a much loved and worn volume of Whittier's poems, given to Mary Ober
in 1858-1859 is written in her own hand, "the happiest winter of my
life." Pinned to a leaf is a cutting, with the following epitaph from
an old English burial ground:


     "I will not bind myself to grief:
     'Tis but as if the roses that climbed
         My garden wall
     Had blossomed on the other side."


The poems she marked are: "The Kansas Emigrants," "Question of Life,"
and "Gone," in this last poem she underscored the verse:


     "And grant that she who trembling here,
     Distrusted all her powers,
     May welcome to her holier home
     The all beloved of ours."


These are keys to her thoughts, she believed in abolition, in the
saving of the Union, she was absorbed in the Civil War, in the going
away of relatives and friends, and she took great interest in the work
of the Sanitary Commission. My grandmother, Mrs. Charles G. Loring,
worked in the commission rooms in Boston by day, in the evening she
would bring materials and drive about in her buggy to distribute them
among the neighbors, collecting the finished garments to be carried
back to Boston by an early train. Mary Ober often went with her,
helping in all ways, and they became great friends; it was partly
through her influence that Mary went to Florida for the benefit of
her health in the winter of 1871. The next winter she took a school
in Georgia under the "Freedman's Bureau" where she taught the little
darkies, who adored her. In 1872 and 1873 she taught the children of
the poor whites in the school at Wilmington, North Carolina, and it was
here that she met Sarah E. Miller who was to be her devoted, life-long
friend. This was the Tileston School founded by Mrs. Mary Hemenway, its
principal was Miss Amy Bradley; it was perhaps the best known school
carried on by the northerners in the South.

For two years longer she taught half terms in Beverly Farms and then as
she regained health and strength, from 1875 to 1899 Miss Ober was head
of the Farms School, then in Haskell Street, beginning with a salary of
$180. She never had a large salary. It was considered the best school
in the town. The building was the wooden one, now a house, on the
next lot to the brick school. She kept up with the times, introduced
grades and had several assistants as the years went on. She continued
her career as a most successful teacher, she was strict but just and
kind, always interested in her children whether in school or afterward,
keeping in touch with them and following their careers with sympathy.
When Mr. Charles H. Trowt was elected Mayor of the City she wrote: "And
you were my curly-headed, fair-haired little boy in school."

She had a happy home with her mother and stepfather; "Uncle David"
she always called him, though she maintained the relation of a loving
daughter. Her mother died in the spring of 1876 and Mr. Larcom died in
1883.

Miss Ober was always a great reader, she chose the best books and kept
in touch with the topics of the day. We all remember her long walks in
the woods and fields, her delight in the first spring flowers and the
song of the birds; she shared Bryant's regret in the autumn, but her
winters were made cheerful by her hospitality at home. Friends were
always dropping in to read, to sew or to have a good game of whist in
the afternoon or evening.

Another quotation from "A New England Girlhood" seems appropriate here.


     "The period of my growing up had peculiarities which our future
     history can never repeat, although something far better is
     undoubtedly already resulting thence. Those peculiarities were
     the natural development of the seed sown by our sturdy Puritan
     ancestry. The religion of our fathers overhung us children like
     the shadow of a mighty tree against the trunk of which we rested,
     while we looked up in wonder through the great boughs that half
     hid and half revealed the sky. Some of the boughs were already
     decaying, so that perhaps we began to see a little more of the sky
     than our elders; but the tree was sound at its heart. There was
     life in it that can never be lost to the world."


In reading this charming biography one is impressed with the strict
doctrine under which Lucy Larcom was brought up. Miss Ober's theology
was more liberal. The church at the Farms was established in 1829 under
the auspices of the First Parish in Beverly, (Unitarian) it was called
simply the "Christian Church" and it was some years before it became
Baptist. Miss Ober was an active and devoted member of the church and a
good helper in parish work.

It seems as if their common interest in the church and love for flowers
must have first attracted her to Mr. James Beatty Dow, to whom she was
married in 1889. Mr. Dow was a Scotchman with the virtues of that race.
Of course he had a good education, he was a gardener by profession and
a successful one. Beside his work for the church and the Sunday school
he was interested in civic affairs; at one time he was representative
at The Great and General Court and he was a member of the School
Committee of Beverly.

Mrs. Dow did not give up her school until ten years after her
marriage but she paid more attention in equally successful manner
to housekeeping and social duties. Miss Miller, her friend from the
days of the Wilmington School, was a constant and welcome guest. They
loved books, they read and played together, they formed reading clubs
to discuss works of importance and enjoyed poetry and good fiction.
There were flashes of wit and a lightness of touch in Mrs. Dow's
approach which were quite un-English, they may be attributed to her
Larcom ancestry. The Larcoms were the La Combes of Languedoc, Huguenots
who escaped to Wales, later moved to the Isle of Wight, and thence
came to New England in the ship Hercules in 1640. The Obers came from
Abbotsbury in England in early days, there is every reason to believe
that they were also of Huguenot descent, by name "Auber," but this is
not proved.

The years passed rapidly, the quiet life at the Farms broken by
little excursions to the theatre, concerts and visits to friends in
Boston, with occasional trips to the White Mountains, New York and
other places. There were endless interests and accomplishments and
enjoyments. The World War brought grief and tragedy and abounding
opportunity for sympathy and action; by no one was a saner interest
taken in all its phases than by Mary Dow.

As time passed and strength failed, Mrs. Dow never grew old; she joked
about her "infirmities" but we did not see them. She mastered them and
kept on in her lively active interests and duties to the end.

During the winter of 1919-20 Mr. Dow was very ill. His wife nursed him
with too great devotion and her strength gave out. Mercifully, she was
spared a long illness, she died on the eleventh of June, 1920. Mr. Dow
lingered until the sixteenth of September.

This is the end of the story, or is it the beginning?



OLD DAYS

AT

BEVERLY FARMS


In writing these hap-hazard memories of the old days at Beverly Farms,
I did not mean that they should be egotistical, but in spite of my good
intentions I am afraid they are. You see it is almost impossible to
separate yourself from your own memories! I throw myself upon the mercy
of the Court!


SUMMER OF 1916.

We have a little Reading Club here at Beverly Farms. We read whatever
happens to come up, from Chesterton's Dickens to "The Woman who was
Tired to Death," interspersed with _real_ poems from "North of Boston."
I belong to the Club. I am the oldest member of it, in fact, I am the
oldest person in New England--on stormy days! When the weather is fine
and the wind south-west, I am young enough to have infantile paralysis!

One day, in my enforced absence from the Club, my colleagues conspired
against me, and with no regard to my feelings, selected me to write up
some remembrances of old Beverly Farms. Hence these tears! Elsie Doane
belongs to this Club. Elsie is _behind_ me about half a century, if you
allow the Family Bible to know anything about so indifferent a thing as
age. She was one of the few infants under my care when she was pupil
and I was teacher, who had a real love for literature for literature's
sake, and we had good chummy times when it was stormy and we carried
dinner to school, and ate it peacefully in an atmosphere that smelt of
a leaky furnace and fried doughnuts, in spite of open windows.

It doesn't smell that way now, for Mr. Little has made the school-house
of that day a pretty summer home for whomsoever will live in it. Elsie
promises to set me right whenever I go astray as to what happened at
old Beverly Farms, how it looked, what legends it had--how its people
lived and behaved, and so forth, and so forth. She is a foxy little
thing, and I suspect that when she is floored on my reminiscences, she
will appeal to her mother, who, she says is older than she is! We do
not promise any coherence in our stories. It will be somewhat of a
hash that we shall give our listeners wherein it will be difficult to
decide whether it is "fish, flesh, fowl, or good red herring." But we
have no reporter at our Club, so we give our memories free rein.

I often wish I could catch and fix, by the kodak of memory, some of the
celebrities of my childhood, in this little village.

What a character, for instance, was Uncle David Larcom! Among the old
Puritans who were his ancestors, and among whom he was raised, what a
constant surprise he must have been! Certainly no hero of a dime novel
could have done more startling and audacious things. He ran off to sea
in his youth and stayed away from the village for three years. During
that time, he had seen and experienced enough to satisfy Tom Sawyer; he
had messed with Indian Lascars and acquired a taste for curry and red
pepper which he never lost. And with the love for stimulating diet he
gained a love for stimulating stories, and could draw the very longest
kind of an innocent bow, that carried far and never hurt anybody.

Who could forget his yarns of the sea serpent and his life on the old
English Brig? "Has he got to the old English brig?" his waggish son
would inquire, as he listened from an adjoining room.

He gave away a wonderful old mirror, beautifully carved, with a lion's
head at the bottom, and a boy astride a goose at the top, with leaves
and bunches of grapes at the sides, and glass, as it seems to me,
almost an inch thick. It hangs now in the drawing room of its possessor
restored to pristine beauty and bearing an inscription setting forth
that it came from the wreck of the "Schooner Hesperus."

Uncle David told this yarn when he gave away the beautiful mirror.
Nobody had ever before heard of this connection with the Schooner
Hesperus. My own impression is that the mirror was brought to the old
house, which I now own, by Aunt Betsey Larcom, the great grandmother
of Elsie Doane. Dear old Uncle David! Sometimes his language was not
choice, but how big his heart was!

After he uncoiled his sea legs and settled down to teaming, mildly
flavored with farming was there ever a more generous or a more kindly
neighbor?

People often cheated him, in fact, he almost seemed to like being
cheated.

His patient wife once remarked that he always wanted to give his own
things away, and buy things for more than people asked for them. He
would match Uncle Toby's army in Flanders for profanity, but he would
go miles to help a sick friend, or, (and this is to my mind, the
last test of friendship in a horse owner) turn out his old "Bun" on
the stormiest night that ever raged, to help a brother teamster up a
hill. And when were ever his own rakes and plows and forks at home?
Weren't they always lent out somewhere? What a reverence for all
things sacred, way down in the bottom of his large heart he always
had! How deferential to _ministers_ he was! How angry he would be at
any unnecessary breaking of the "_Sah-bath_" as he called it. How
steadily he read, (though he wouldn't go to church) all day and all
the evening of the Lord's Day--taking up his book at night, where he
left it to feed his "critturs," and holding his sperm oil lamp in his
hand as he finished his day of rest. Some of his expressions remain
in my mind as, for instance "From July to Eternity," to indicate his
weariness at something too much prolonged. He liked to exaggerate as
well as Mark Twain did, as when he used to wish on a furiously stormy
night, that he were way over on Half Way Rock, always being careful to
have a _tremendous_ fire going, and a pitcher of cider at hand, before
he expressed the desire. The memory of his good, religious father was
always with him, and when he was in a particularly genial frame of
mind, he would sing snatches of the old tunes he had heard his father
sing:--


     "The Lord into his garden comes
     The spices yield their rich "Perfooms"
     The lillies grow and thrive"


was one of his special favorites.

His kindly handsome face, his enormous size, his laugh, which was ten
laughs in one, are among the clear remembrances of my childhood.

And I can hardly close this sketch better than by quoting his old
family doctor's words: "Swear, yes, but his swearing was better than
some folks' praying."

I should like to "summon from the vasty deep" some of the other old
people, both white and black, who lived here in the old days. Just back
of where Mr. Flick's stable now stands at Pride's Crossing lived Jacob
Brower, a little old man of Dutch descent, with his wife and family.
She was a sister of Mrs. Peter Pride, who lived in the first house west
of the Pride's Crossing station. I remember Aunt Pride as an extremely
handsome, tall, dark, dignified woman. She belonged to the Thissell
family. Lucy and Frank Eldredge came of this family, and Willis Pride,
and I suppose "Thissell's Market" claims relation too!

The next house east of the station, on the other side of the road was a
tumble down old house innocent of paint, and black with age, inhabited
by three old African women--named Chloe Turner, Phillis Cave and Nancy
Milan, all widows.

The house, after the railroad cut it off from the main road, was so
near the track that one could almost step from the rock doorstep to the
rails, and the old crazy structure shook every time an infrequent train
passed, we had four trains to Boston daily then. I remember how the old
house smelt and how the rickety stairs creaked under one's feet.

When my great great-grandfather, David Larcom, married the widow of
John West and brought her to his home (now the Gordon Dexter place)
she brought with her as part of her dower, a negro woman, a remarkable
character, named Juno Freeman. This woman was the mother of a large
family. Mary Herrick West's father was a Captain Herrick and he brought
Juno, a slave from North Carolina in his ship.

Juno's children took the Larcom name and remained as slave property in
the Larcom family, till, in my great-grandfather's time they were sold.
My uncle Rufus told me that this ancestor, Jonathan Larcom, was sharp,
and, hearing that all slaves in Massachusetts were to be freed, _sold_
his.

The old house I have mentioned was given to Juno Larcom, it being on
the land known as the "gate pasture" and in after years, when Mr.
Franklin Haven wanted to open an avenue there, he took a land rent
from my stepfather, David Larcom, had the old house torn down, and put
a little house for Nancy Milan (who was then the only survivor of the
three old widows) right by my piazza, on the east side, and there Aunt
Milan died peacefully in the spring of 1869.

Aunt Milan's mother, Phillis Cave, was brought to Danvers in the boot
of Judge Cave's chaise, and afterwards somehow drifted to Beverly.
Judge Cave's daughter, Maria Cummins, wrote the "Lamplighter," a book
of great popularity in this region, in her day. Phillis worked in the
best Beverly families, the Rantouls, Endicotts, and others, and used
to walk to Beverly, work all day, and walk home at night. I remember
wondering if all the washing she did had made the palms of her hands so
much whiter than the rest of her.

Aunt Chloe and Aunt Milan were pretty lazy old things, but everybody
liked them and contributed good naturedly to their support. After
Aunt Milan came down to live by us, Mr. Asa Larcom and my step-father
furnished a good deal of her living, and the town gave her fifty cents
a week. She never could hear of the poor house. Wherever Aunt Chloe
got the candy and nuts she always had on hand for children, I cannot
imagine. She wore a pumpkin hood (a headgear made of wadded woolen or
silk, with a little back frill,) and the Brazil nuts used to be taken
out of the back of the hood. My brother David said he used to eat candy
from the same receptacle, but then he was a Larcom and had imagination!

The old brick meeting house had a wooden bench built upstairs near the
choir, and there these three black persons sat, every Sunday, thro'
their peaceful lives. I think that was a pretty low down trick of those
old Baptists, particularly as the ladies in question always sat at our
tables.

We old dwellers at Beverly Farms,--Obers and Haskells and Woodberrys
and Williamses and Larcoms, are pretty well snarled up as to
relationship, and I am always coming upon some new relative in an odd
way.

For instance, Miss Haven gave me the other day the appraisal of my
great grandfather's estate, that same David Larcom of slave times. He
died in 1779 possessed of £899 sterling, all in real estate. I found
in the appraisal and settlement among his children, that my old friend
Mrs. Lee and I have probably a common ancestor, Jonathan Larcom. It
amuses us, because we have never before found any trace of commingling
blood. I fancy it would be pretty difficult to find any two old Beverly
Farmites, who are not related. My principal pride in the old paper
is that it sets forth, over the signature of the Judge of Probate in
Ipswich, that a Larcom once was worth about $5,000! (His brother's
estate was appraised at £219 15s. 6d. Ed.)

My good neighbor, Mrs. Goddard, came in last evening and brought me a
fragrant bouquet of thyme and rosemary and marjoram and sage, which
makes me remember that I have not yet tried to describe Aunt Betsey
Larcom's garden in those ancient days.

The striped grass is still growing in one corner of my garden--the
very same roots that were there in my childhood, and up to a year or
so ago, the old lilac bush that Uncle Ed. Larcom picked blossoms from
when he was a small boy, was there too. Aunt Betsey's garden was a
beautiful combination of use and loveliness. All along the stone wall
grew red-blossomed barm and in the long beds were hyssop (she called
it _isop_) and rue and marigolds and catnip and camomile and sage
and sweet marjoram and martinoes. Martinoes were funny things with a
beautiful, ill-smelling bloom which looked like an orchid, and when the
blossoms dropped there succeeded an odd shaped fruit, with spines and
a long tail, which was used for pickles. Then there were king cups,
a glorified buttercup, and a lovely little blue flower called "Star
of Bethlehem" and four o'clocks. Right here I want to say that Frank
Gaudreau has more varieties of four o'clocks than I ever supposed were
known to lovers of flowers and I think he deserves the thanks of the
village for his pretty garden.

All the different herbs were carefully gathered by Aunt Betsey, and
tied in bundles, and hung up to the rafters of the old attic. Sometimes
I fancy I can smell them now on a damp day, and I like to recall the
dear old lady in her tyer and cap, busy with her simples. I like to
think of her as my tutelar divinity for I came to love her dearly,
though I am sure that when I was first landed in her house, I was a
big trial. Elsie Doane remembered another garden of that time, where,
she says, they never picked a flower. I remember it too, but I had
forgotten that they didn't pick the flowers. It flourished right where
the engine house and those other buildings stand, and Elsie _thinks_
the garden reached way out to the sign post. Uncle Asa Ober owned that
garden--the ancestor of Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Perkins and Mrs. Hooper and
Helen Campbell, and many others of our fast fading away villagers. His
two stepdaughters were cousins to my mother, and they had a little
shop in an ell that ran from the house to the street, where they did
dressmaking and millinery.

Right in front of the shop was the garden all fenced in, but I had the
right of way for I could sing! And whenever I learned a new _music_
from Joe Low's Singing School, I used to be called in to act as prima
donna to the two ladies.

There were cucumbers in the garden extension and artichokes by the old
walls.

But my regrets are not for the gardens. We have gardens now, but nobody
can bring back the beautiful fields, stretching from the woods to the
sea, where cows and oxen grazed. Nobody can bring back the brooks, now
polluted and turned into ditches. Nobody can bring back the roadsides
bordered with wild roses, now tunneled and bean-poled out of all
beauty. I do love some of our summer people, particularly those who
have kept their hands off and have not removed the old landmarks, but
I find it hard to forgive the bean-poling and the cementing. Look at
the lovely old Sandy Hill Road (West Street). Over these happy summer
fields of the olden days walked James Russell Lowell and his beautiful
betrothed, Maria White. Later he came again,--but without her. Among
those old first visitors to our Shore were John Glen King and Ellis
Gray Loring. These two gentlemen married sisters, southern women I
think; they took kindly to our New England cookery. Mrs. King, one
day, asked my aunt, Mrs. Prince, if she could give them a salt fish
dinner, with an Essex sauce. Mrs. Prince knew all about a salt fish
dinner, but the Essex sauce floored her, and she humbly acknowledged
her ignorance. "Oh," said Mrs. King, "it is very simple. You take thin
slices of fat pork and fry them out." Mrs. Prince laughed and proceeded
to her kitchen to make "pork dip." Mrs. King also liked a steamed
huckleberry pudding and she said "And please, Mrs. Prince, make it all
huckleberries, with just enough flour to hold them together." We got
four or five cents a quart when we picked these same huckleberries. I
did not have a very big bank account in that direction, owing to my
short sight, and to my preference for making corn stalk fiddles with a
jack-knife. I remember making one on a Sunday morning, uninterrupted
by the "Sabbathday dog" which was supposed to lie in wait for Sabbath
breakers.

Diagonally opposite my house lived Mr. Nathaniel Haskell, a little old
gentleman, who wore a cut away blue coat, with buttons on the tail,
over which, in cool weather, he put a green baize jacket. How funny he
looked. He was interested in what he called the _tar_-iff, and he was
awfully afraid of lightning. I remember the whole family filing into
our dining room whenever a specially dark cloud appeared. I do not
think a single descendant of "Uncle Nat" is left here, tho' there was a
large family.

There was a cheese press in our back yard and "changing milk" was a
great scheme. One week all the milk from four or five farms would be
sent to us and my mother would make delicious sage cheese.

Then, the next week all the milk would go to "Uncle Nat's," and so on,
till all the cow owners were supplied with cheeses, which were duly
greased with butter and put on shelves to dry, a sight to make the
prophet smile.

I wish I could get a picture of Beverly Farms as it looked to my
child's eyes. I came over to "the Road," as it was called by my
maternal relatives, when I was five years old. They lived in that
Paradise now occupied by millionaires, the region that holds the Gordon
Dexter place, the Moore place, the Swift place, and part of the Paine
place. At that time, the whole section was long green fields bordered
by woods, the "log brook" running through it. There were then three
roads in Beverly Farms, the road now called Hale Street, the beautiful
old Sandy Hill Road (West Street) and the Wenham road (Hart Street).
My two homes after my mother's widowhood were at the Gordon Dexter
place, and at my father's old homestead, at Mingo's Beach (where Bishop
McVickar lived). There were about twenty houses at that time, between
Beach Hill and Saw Mill Brook. This was West Farms and the Schoolhouse
stood just back of Pride's Crossing station--afterwards removed to
where it now stands as a dwelling house, occupied by the heirs of
Thomas Pierce.

There was then no railroad and the main road ran by Mr. Bradley's
greenhouses, and along where the railroad now is, coming out near
the schoolhouse. That part of Hale Street where the Catholic church
is, was then Miller's Hill, a pasture, where I have often tried to
pick berries. The railroad came in 1845. The little shanties where
the laborers who were building the road lived temporarily with their
families, were a great curiosity. I used to run away and peep into
them and I can remember how they smelled. My mother, who did the work
of twenty women every day almost as long as she lived, made knotted
"comforters" for these shanties. Our way of getting to Beverly and
Salem was by stage coaches between Gloucester and Salem. In my few
journeys in these delightful conveyances I used to clamber to the top
seat and sit with Mr. Page the kindly driver, who was one of our first
conductors on the railroad.

To the house where I now live my happy life, I was brought at five
years. I could then read about as well as I can now. I found in this
old house a garret, a beautiful garret, where bundles of herbs hung
from the rafters, and where books, books galore had collected in
old sea chests. Fancy my delight, at finding, one red letter day,
Christopher North's, "Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life."

There were other books not so well fitted for the education of a child,
but it was all fish that came to my net, and I calmly read up to my
tenth year, "The Criminal Calendar," "Tales of Shipwrecks," Barber's
"Historical Massachusetts," Paley's "Moral Philosophy," Pollock's
"Course of Time," Alleine's "Alarm to the Unconverted," Richardson's
"Pamela" and the "Spectator!" Some years afterwards, when I had read
the covers off this miscellaneous collection of books, some of the
earlier summer people, the elder Lorings and Kings, I think, put a
small library into Uncle Pride's house and gave us Jacob Abbott's Rollo
Stories and a few other delights. Please picture to yourself the "light
of other days" by which the reading and sewing and knitting of old
Beverly Farms used to go on at night.

Luckily, there was as much daylight then, as now. The lamp that
illuminated my childish evenings was a glass lamp, that held about
a cup full of whale oil, "sperm oil," it was called. There were two
metal tubes at the top of this lamp, thro' which protruded two cotton
wicks. These wicks could be pulled up for more light or pulled down for
economy, by means of a pin. No protection whatever was afforded from
the flame, and my hair was singed in front most of the time, as I crept
close with book or stocking, to this illumination. One use of the old
oil lamp was medicinal. If there were a croupy child in the house, he
might be treated immediately, in the absence of a doctor, to a dose
from the lamp on the mantel. I remember my blessed brother David being
ministered unto in that way. After this, came the fluid lamp, with an
alcoholic mixture that was dangerous, but clean.

In hunting about among ancestors, I am sometimes reminded of the
story of Dr. Samuel Johnson's marriage. The lady to whom he proposed,
demurred a little. She said she had an uncle who was hanged. Dr.
Johnson assured her that that need make no difficulty, for he had no
doubt that he had several who ought to have been hanged. I remember my
disgust at finding that I was related thro' my maternal grandmother,
Molly Standley, to "Aunt Massy." Aunt Massy, (her real name was Mercy)
was a mildly insane, gray-haired, stoutish woman, who lived just before
you reach the fountain at the top of the hill, on Hale St. There was
a well with a windlass and bucket at one side of her old house and
Aunt Massy used to lean on the well curb and abuse the passers by. She
remembered all the mean things one's relatives ever did, and how she
could scold! I was often sent to Mr. Perry's grocery store where Pump
Cottage now stands and I used to try to get by without hearing her
uplifted voice. But if I had a new gown there was no escape.

The two districts I have mentioned, (East and West Farms) were divided
by "Saw Mill Brook," the little half choked stream that now filters
under the road between Mr. Hardy's and Mr. Simpkins' places. It was
a beautiful brook in those old days, clear water running through
fields, with trout in it. The saw mill must have stood about where that
collection of tenement houses now is.

The "child in the mill pond" belongs to the legendary history of
Beverly Farms.

Coming down the hill towards Beverly, the most terrible shrieks would
often be heard, but if one crossed the brook to West Farms, all was
silent. I never heard these shrieks, I took good care never to be
caught over there after dark. I should have liked to see the little
screech owl, who, no doubt, had his quiet home up back of the mill,
and sang his evening song, after the miller had closed his gates. We
villagers have a question to propose to all our friends of uncertain
age,--"Do you remember the saw-mill?" If, inadvertently, they confess
to its acquaintance, it settles the question of age. It is as good as a
Family Bible.

Miss Culbert showed me the other day, a great find, the remnant of the
"Third Social Library of Beverly." I had never heard of such a library
and was greatly interested. It is now in our beautiful branch library,
in a neat book case made by one of the Obers, in whose house the
Library was placed. I mean the old Joseph Ober house which stood where
Mrs. Charles M. Cabot's house is.

Elsie did not live opposite that house then, but she was going to live
there. I dare say she wouldn't read any one of those books, any more
than I would. The books date back to 1810, and many of the honored
names I have been mentioning are there, all written down in beautiful
handwriting, and with a tax of ten cents opposite their names, for
the carrying on of this little library. There are two sermons of the
beloved Joseph Emerson, who preached at Beverly before there was any
church here, a funeral sermon preached on the occasion of Dr. Perry's
grandfather's death, loads of sermons by Jonathan Edwards, great
bundles of religious magazines, and other interesting antiquities. Not
one story, no fiction of any sort. Those forefathers of ours fed on
strong meat. Among the curiosities are several letters from anxious
fathers in Boston, making the most vigorous and pathetic protest
against a proposed _second_ theatre in Boston on Common Street.

A second theatre in Boston! The souls of young people in peril! One
sighs to think what these good fathers would have said if they could
have pulled aside the curtain of the future and seen little Beverly
with crowds of children accompanied by their fathers and mothers and
uncles and aunts and cousins, all pouring into the "movies!" (One of
these movies named for Lucy Larcom!) One must go on, and now we are
trying to hope that some good may come out of the "movies!" If our
little religious library was the "Third Social" there must have been
two more in old Beverly.

I want you to go back in your mind to a Sunday of that time when even
a walk to the woods or to the beach was wicked, when the only books
that were proper to read were religious books, when there were three
religious services every Sunday and pretty awfully long services.
My cousin and my sister and I crawled up a long ladder to the third
floor of our barn, among the pigeons' nests, and, nestling down in
the hay, produced a _novel_, a real novel, a wishy washy thing, that
no money could hire me to read today, and with quiet whisperings
read that _wicked_ book. We were in mortal terror lest "Aunt Phebe"
should suspect our deep degradation, and "Aunt Phebe" was not a foe
either. She was a beautiful, big, kindly woman, as Mrs. Crowell, her
step-daughter, would gladly attest.

One whose memory goes back like Elsie Doane's and mine must remember
the old brick meeting house. My memories of it are pretty hazy and
I fancy Elsie will have to go farther back than her mother, for
information about that fine specimen of architecture. It had neither
cupola nor spire and must have been pretty ugly. It must have been
the second meeting house, in which I recall the beautiful alto Mrs.
Otis Davis's mother used to sing. I shall never forget how affected my
childish ears were when she sang "Oh, when thou city of my God shall I
thy Courts ascend" as the choir rendered the anthem "Jerusalem."

Speaking of meeting houses, our third and present, one of the most
beautiful and "resting" buildings one could worship God in, is a
lasting memorial of the taste and genius of our beloved Mrs. Whitman.
To her and to Mr. Eben Day, we owe its beauty; and to the generous old
church members we owe its existence at all, for they gave freely to its
construction.

The first minister I have much recollection of was Mr. Hale, who
lived with his family in the house now owned by Miss Lizzie Hull. My
step-father bought a horse from him, and named him "Sumner." That was
Mr. Hale's Christian name. I have often wondered how Mr. Hale felt to
have a horse named for him, but I am sure Uncle David meant it as a
compliment.

In those far away days we had a hermit of our own. It would be more
damaging to a claim of youthfulness, on the part of my readers to
remember "Johnny Widgin," than to remember the saw-mill.

One late afternoon, coming out with my playmates from Mr. Gordon
Dexter's avenue, then my grandfather's lane, we saw a most grotesque
figure, standing by "Rattlesnake Rock," just across the railroad--a
tall man, of perhaps fifty years, to us, of course, "an old man." His
trousers, which, thro' all the years I perfectly remember, were of some
kind of once white material, with little bows of red ribbon and silk
sewed all over them. He spoke to us gently but we were all terrified
and ran home as fast as our legs could carry us. This singular being
afterwards came and went in the village for several years, cooking his
own little vile smelling messes on kindly disposed women's stoves,
sleeping in barns, repeating chapter after chapter of the Old Testament
for the edification of his hearers, and always gentle and kindly. I
recall his recitation of the last chapter of Malachi beginning "And
they shall all burn like an oven." He was, no doubt, mildly insane and
of Scandinavian descent, but nobody ever knew anything definite about
him. He lived a part of his time, in warm weather, in a hole or cave
of rocks, on the beach formerly owned by Mr. Samuel T. Morse, below
Colonel Lee's. He had a similar retreat at York Beach. He finally faded
out of our lives, no one knew how. He may have been taken up in a
chariot of fire like his beloved prophet Elijah, for all that any of us
ever knew of his departure from these earthly scenes. He was supposed
to be Norwegian, hence his name "Johnny Widgin." My grandfather said
that if he could not pronounce "the thick of my thumb" in any way but
the "tick of my tumb" he was Norwegian. That settled it in my mind,
for my grandfather was my oracle. (Andrew Larcom, Grandfather Ober had
died, Ed.)

My grandfather did not go much to church but he loved his Bible and
Psalm book and from several things that I remember about him, I think
he was Unitarian in belief, though in those days I did not know a
Unitarian from a black cat, and whenever I heard of one, I supposed he
must be a terrible kind of being. I was a grown woman, when one day,
speaking of Starr King and his love for the White Hills and his loyalty
in keeping California in the Union during the Civil War, the woman to
whom I was speaking said "Well, he wasn't a good man." "Not a good
man," I said. "Why" said she, "You know he was a Universalist." We have
got on a little since that time in toleration, but we need to get on a
little more.

My uncles on my mother's side were great hunters. Foxes and minks and
woodchucks were plentiful in those days and a good many of them fell
into my uncles' traps. I remember remonstrating with my uncle "Ed
Larcom," about traps, telling him it was cruel, and that I didn't see
how a good kind man like him could earn his living that way. "Oh," he
said, "They were made for me!" Doesn't the Bible say "And he shall have
dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and
over all the cattle, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the
earth?" My uncles all said there was no better eating than a good fat
woodchuck; that the chucks fed on grain and roots and clean things. The
manner of cooking was to parboil them, stuff with herbs and bake.

Some years ago, I was invited to join the Daughters of the Revolution,
and to this end to look up my ancestry. To my surprise I could not
find a single forbear of mine who was connected in any way with wars
or rumors of wars, and I reported that I hadn't been able to find any
of my kin who ever wanted to kill anything but a woodchuck. Since this
writing, my cousin, Dr. Abbott, still living, at the age of ninety-five
in Illinois, has informed me that my remote ancestor, Benjamin Ober,
did valiant work on the sea in the Revolution.

Elsie Doane seems to think that these scraps of antiquity would not
be quite satisfactory without mention of "Jim" Perry's grocery store,
though she never bought a pound of coffee in it, and, if she says
she did, she thinks she is her mother. It was our only store and so
was quite a feature. It was presided over by Mr. James Perry, a tall
dignified man, whom his wife in her various offices as helpmate, always
called "Mr. Perry." Mr. Perry was color blind and whenever my mother
sent me for blue silk or blue yarn, he always selected green or purple.

You may wonder how blue silk comes to be a grocery product, but this
was really a _department_ store. When we had a half cent coming to
us, Mrs. Perry always produced a _needle_, for the exact change.
You see how honest we were! This honest department store stood, in
fact it _was_ Pump Cottage, for I think Pump Cottage is the same old
jackknife with different blades and handles. Farther up, on the Wenham
Road, lived Deacon Joseph Williams, a beautiful old gentleman, with
a disposition as sunny as a ripe peach. His house was small and his
family large. All the Williamses in this region would look back to that
little house as their old family homestead, and I was sorry when Mr.
Doane decided that it could not be remodelled, but had to be taken down.

Deacon Williams had a dog, a little black fellow named Carlo, who
always followed the good man about except on Sundays. On Sundays, Carlo
took a look at his master and then went and lay down dejectedly. But,
as I have intimated before, when you remember the Sundays of those
days, a sensible dog really had the best of it. In a former page of
these odds and ends of memory I have mentioned Uncle Ed Larcom and his
fondness for hunting. A good many of us _aborigines_ of old Beverly
Farms will remember his talks of _his_ dog Tyler, a mongrel dog, half
bull dog and half Newfound_land_, as Uncle Ed pronounced it. Tyler,
according to his master (and his master was the most accurate teller
of stories that ever lived, always telling his yarns in exactly the
same words,) was a most remarkable dog, understanding what one said
to him as well as a man, going a mile if he were merely told to fetch
a missing jacket, and as full of fun and tricks as a monkey. Uncle Ed
used to delight his young audiences with anecdotes of Tyler, and in his
old age, when mind and memory began to fail, it was rather hard to hear
him say, "Did I ever tell you about my dog Tyler?"

He must have been named for John Tyler. It was hard on a good dog to be
named for John Tyler, one of the poorest presidents we ever had.

There seems to be a great deal of interest among our summer people in
the old houses still left at Beverly Farms. I have mentioned the James
Woodbury house now owned by Mr. J. S. Curtis; another very old house
is the William Haskell house, owned by Mr. Gordon Dexter. I have a
little doubt as to whether the date on the house is right. I have a
very strong impression that Aunt Betsey Larcom, born Haskell, told me
in my childhood that her father built the house in which Aunt Betsey
was born, in 1775. She also said that when they dug the well back of
the house, they struck a spring and were never able to finish stoning
it, a fact which accounted for its never running dry, when all the
other wells in the village gave out. I think Mr. Dexter bought it of
the James Haskell heirs, but I am not able to state what relation James
Haskell (Skipper Jim) was to Mr. William Haskell, or how he came into
possession of it.

I wonder how many people are now left in Beverly Farms who ever tasted
food cooked in a brick oven. I am sure there are not many. But those
of us who ate of an Indian pudding or a pot of baked beans from that
ancient source of supply will never forget the deliciousness of that
kind of cookery.

The pudding would stand straight up in its earthen pan, a quivering
red, honey-combed mass, surrounded with a sea of juice to be eaten
with rich real cream in clots of loveliness. The beans would be brown
and whole, with the crisp home cured pork on top. That old New England
cookery, it seems to me, filled a big bill for health and physical
nourishment. We did not know much about proteins and calories and
fibrins, in fact, we had never heard of them. But we somehow hit upon
the best combinations as to taste and efficiency. We almost never had
candy, and we rarely had all flour bread. A good deal of Indian meal
went into my mother's bread.

Our amusements in those days were primitive enough. On Old Election
Day, which came the last Wednesday in May, there was just one thing to
do. We youngsters had an election cake all shining with molasses on
top, and raisins in the middle, and we went down to the beach and dug
wells in the sand. Now and then we hunted Mayflowers (saxifrage) and
played about the old fort left from the Revolution and now owned by Mr.
F. L. Higginson. Evenings we had parties and played Copenhagen and hunt
the slipper or knit the family stockings by our dim oil lamps. Winters,
there were singing schools. Those were great larks if we came at the
money to buy a copy of the "Carmina Sacra," or the "Shawm." I still
think they were fine collections of tunes, comprising all the old
standbys. Mrs. Lee's father, Mr. John Knowlton, was a wonderful singing
master, and a great disciplinarian, with a beautiful bass voice. He
would stand a good deal of fun at the recess, but when Mr. Knowlton
struck his bell and took up his violin, we all knew it meant singing
and no nonsense. I think my grandfather, Benjamin Ober, and Elsie's
great-grandfather, Deacon David Larcom, were also singing masters in
the old days, but neither Elsie nor I remember them,--old as we are.

[Illustration: _From a Daguerreotype taken about 1859_]

Over "t'other side," as we called it, in the house now owned by Mr.
J. S. Curtis, lived Uncle "Jimmy" Woodbury. He must have been a
"character." He was once very much troubled by rats in his barn. So he
conceived a plan for getting rid of them at his neighbor's expense.
Uncle David Preston's estate, where Miss Susan Amory's house now
stands, was diagonally opposite.

Uncle "Jimmy" wrote a letter to the rats, in which he told them that
in Uncle David's barn was more corn and better corn than they were
getting in his barn, and he strongly recommended that they move. Then
Uncle Jimmy kept watch and on a beautiful moonlight night he had the
satisfaction of beholding a long line of rodents with an old gray
fellow as leader, crossing the road on their way to Uncle David's.
(I tell the story as it was told to me). Uncle Jimmy's daughter,
Mary, married Dr. Wyatt C. Boyden, for many years the skilful family
physician of half the town. The fine public spirited Boydens of Beverly
are her descendants.

By the way, the old vernacular of the village ought not to perish from
the earth. It was unique. Our ancestors just hated to pronounce any
word correctly, even when they were fairly good scholars and spellers.
They called a marsh a "mash." Capt. Timothy Marshall, the rich man of
the place, was called Capt. "Mashall"; Mr. Osborne was Mr. "Osman";
the Obers were "Overs", a lilac was a "laylock" a blue jay was a blue
"gee," etc.

In closing these rambling papers of the old days at Beverly Farms,
my conscience accuses me a little of not sufficiently emphasizing
the _virtues_ of the villagers. Truly, they were a good, interesting,
law-abiding, religious people. Everybody went to church; a tramp
was unknown; a drunken person was nearly as much an astonishment as
a circus would have been. It would be unfair to class them as rude
fishermen and shoemakers for they came of the old Puritan ancestry, who
built their churches and schoolhouses on a convenient spot, before they
attended to anything else, and they paid their debts so promptly that
Mr. William Endicott, the good merchant of Beverly, said that he never
had any hesitation in selling on credit to "Farms" people. As one got
on to middle life, almost every householder had his horse, his cows and
often a yoke of oxen. Our favorite conveyance to school, in deep snows,
was an ox team with poles on the sides of the sled, where we held on
with shouts and screams of laughter.

Nobody thought of hiring a _nurse_ in cases of serious illness. The
_neighbors_ came with willing hands and helped out. It was a peaceful
little hamlet, with kind, straightforward, honest inhabitants, and
the small remnant of us who are left have reason to be proud of our
ancestry.

Elsie repeated to us, the other day, the epitaph on her
great-grandfather's grave stone, the Deacon David Larcom, who built my
old house, who asked the town for a cemetery for this village and was
laid to rest there in 1840, the first one to be buried in its peaceful
shadows: "His life exhibited in rare combination and in an uncommon
degree all the excellencies of the husband, the father, the citizen and
the Christian."

The epitaph was written by Lucy Larcom, whose home here was on West
Street. After she left Beverly for Lowell, and was a factory girl, she
wrote for the "Lowell Offering," a little magazine published by the
nice New England working girls. Copies of this little magazine were in
the wonderful attic of my house when I came here. They were probably
scented with Aunt Betsey's _simples_ that hung from the roof.

How I wish I could have foreseen how very precious they would be to me
now.

[Illustration: _Head enlarged from a group taken about 1899_]



LUCY LARCOM--A MEMORY

BY MARY LARCOM DOW


_Extracts from the Beacon, published in Beverly for a charity November
1, 1913._

I am proud to be asked to record some of my pleasant days with my
mother's cousin, Lucy Larcom. It will, of course, be natural to me to
speak principally of the six or seven years during which she lived at
Beverly Farms, the only time in which she had a real home of her own.
It has always seemed strange to me that Doctor Addison in his biography
of her, should have dismissed that part of her life with so few words.
I know that it meant a great deal to her.

My very first recollection of her was as a child, when she, as a young
lady, came to my house (then owned by "Aunt Betsey") spoken of so
affectionately in "A New England Girlhood." Afterward, when I bought
the old house, she expressed her great pleasure and when I told her I
had spent all my money for it, she said that was quite right; it was
like the turtle with his shell, a retreat.

When she came here in 1866, she was in her early forties, a beautiful,
gracious figure, with flowing abundant brown hair, and a most benignant
face. She was then editor of "Our Young Folks." She took several sunny
rooms near the railroad station, almost opposite "The witty Autocrat."
He dated his letters from "Beverly Farms by the Depot," not to be
outdone by his Manchester neighbors. The house was then owned by
Captain Joseph Woodberry, a refined gentleman of the old school.

She brought with her at first, to these pleasant rooms, a favorite
niece who resembled her in looks and in temperament, and she at once
proceeded, with her exquisite taste, to make a real home for them. The
bright fire on the hearth where we sat and talked and watched the logs
fall apart and the sparks go out, was a great delight to her, and I
have always thought that that beautiful poem "By the Fireside" must
have been written "in those days."

The woods and fields of Beverly Farms were then accessible to all of
us, and she knew just where to find the first hepaticas and the rare
spots where the linnea grew, and the rhodora and the arethusa, and that
last pathetic blossom of the year, the witch hazel, and she could paint
them too.

To this home by the sea, came noted people; Mary Livermore, Celia
Thaxter, whose sea-swept poems were our great delight, and many others.
I recall one great event when Mr. Whittier came and took tea. He was
so gentle and simple. The conversation turned on the softening of
religious creeds, and he gave us some of his own experiences. He told
us that when Charles Kingsley came to America, he went to see him at
the Parker House, and as they walked down School Street, Mr. Whittier
expressed his appreciation to Mr. Kingsley for his work in that
direction. Mr. Kingsley laughed and said,--"Why, when I first went to
preach at Eversley, I had great difficulty in making my parishioners
believe that God is as good as the average church member."

There was a comfortable lounge in the living room at Beverly Farms, by
an east window, and by that window was written "A Strip of Blue."

I do not think that Lucy Larcom had a very keen sense of humor, but she
enjoyed fun in others, and was always amused at my absurd exaggerations
and at my brother David's comical sea yarns. This brother of mine
strongly resembled her in face and build, and also in his determination
not to be poor. They would be rich, and they were rich to the end of
the chapter. Her income must have been always slender, but I do not
think I ever heard her say she could not afford anything. If she wanted
her good neighbor, Mr. Josiah Obear, to harness up his red horse and
rock-away and take her about the countryside, she said so, and we would
go joyfully off, coming home, perhaps from the Essex fields, with a
box of strawberries for her simple supper. Always the simple life with
nature was her wish.

She was decidedly old-fashioned, and though I do not suppose she
thought plays and cards and dancing wicked, she had still a little
shrinking from them. I remember that now and then we played a game
called rounce, a game as innocent and inane as "Dumb Muggins" but she
always had a little fear that Captain Woodberry would discover it,
which pleased me immensely.

Those pleasant days at Beverly Farms came too soon to an end, and for
the last part of her life I did not see so much of her. She remains
to me a loving and helpful memory of a serene and child-like nature,
and "a glad heart without reproach or blot," and I am glad to lay this
witch hazel flower of memory upon the grave of that daughter of the
Puritans, Lucy Larcom.



LETTERS


Beverly Farms,
April 25, 1893.

My dear Miss Baker:

I get such pleasant letters from you that I quite love you, though I
dare say I should not know you if I met you in my porridge dish being
such a short sighted old party. And liking you, when you joined those
other despots and lie awake o' nights, thinking how you can pile up
more work and make life a burden to school ma'ams, means a good deal!!

Here is Miss Fanny Morse, now, whom I have always considered a
Christian and a philanthropist, commissioning me to count and destroy
belts of caterpillars' eggs for which the _children_ are to have prizes!

The children indeed! The prizes are at the wrong end! Miss Wilkins and
I come home nights--"meeching" along--our arms full of the twigs--from
which the nasty worms are beginning to crawl!

And now come you, asking for a tree! Yes, yes, dear body, we will do
our possible, only if you hear of my raiding somebody's barn yard for
the necessary nourishment of said tree, or stealing a wheelbarrow or a
pick and shovel, please think of me at my best.

Now as to Mr. Dow, I must write his part seriously, I suppose, as he is
a grave old Scotchman.

He says he will use a part of the money--after proper consultation with
the selectmen, etc. And he suggests that a part of the money be used to
take care of the triangle and the trees already planted. He will write
you when he has decided where to put additional trees. And if I live
through the week I will write you whether we got a '92 tree in anywhere.

Yours very much,

MARY L DOW.


Miss Baker was Secretary of the Beverly Improvement Society; these
letters refer to her work.--(Editor.)


Beverly Farms, March 21, 1899

My Dear Miss Baker:

I want very much to go to Mrs. Gidding's high tea but I do not get out
of school till 3.30 and the train leaves at 3.34.

But after I am graduated from a school, for good and all, I mean to
go to some of the rest of these "feasts of reason and flow of soul."
We are making fine progress with the _wurrums_ and Miss Wilkins is
prospering with her enterprise in Wenham.

Yours truly

MARY L. DOW.

P.S. My regards to your father. I am sorry he has been ill. I told my
sub-committee that I thought, if Mr. Baker had been present when my
resignation was accepted, they would have sent me some little pleasant
message to remember. It seemed to me that after teaching about a
century in the town they might have at least told me to go to the
d----, or something of that sort.

M.L.D.


"Beverly Farms-by-the-Depot" 1918.

Dearly Beloved G.P.:

"Pink" has just brought me this little squigley piece of paper, so that
my letter to you may be of the same size as hers--some people are so
fussy. You sent me nine or ten bushels of love, and I have used them
all up, and am hungry for more, for that kind of diet my appetite is
always unappeased.

How I do wish we had you within touching distance as well as within
loving distance; I have always had a great desire to see more of you
since first my eyes fell upon you. I do just hate to get so old that
perhaps I shall never see you again in the flesh. But I'll be sure to
look for you, and now and then, when you get a particularly good piece
of good luck,--I shall have had something to do with it. That does not
mean that the undertaker has been called and to hear James and Sarah
Elizabeth talk, you would suppose that nothing could kill me--I only
mean that 84 years is serious; but, for the life of me, I never do get
very serious for long at a time.

Jimmy and I have been out to Northfield for five days, went to meeting
and sang psalms for seven hours a day. Jimmy takes to meetings, being
as Huxley said of somebody "incurably religious"--and really I did not
talk much.

The country was so sweet and beautiful, the spirit of the place was
like the New Jerusalem come down again. We slept in the dormitory in
the little iron beds side by side, "Each in his narrow bed forever
laid", only we did not stay forever.

We meant to come home by way of the Monadnock region, and we had a few
drives along the Contacook River, but we ran into a Northeaster, and
came ingloriously home.

Have not you been in lovely places, and in great good fortune in your
vacation? I am glad of it.

I love you--so does Jimmy--and Sambo, and so would Billy, the
neighbors' dog, who hangs about me for rice and kidneys, if he knew
you. As to Pink, she flourishes like a green bay horse, teaches French
and is in good spirits. Molly goes away on a vacation tomorrow. Poor
Jim! With us for cooks!

Remember him in your prayers.

Thine, thine,

MOLLY POLLY.


Beverly Farms. Jan. 25, 1919.

My Dear Mrs. Goddard:

I didn't know till the other day, when I accidentally met Mr. Hakanson,
that you had had an anxious and worried time this winter, with Mr.
Goddard in the hospital. I am glad to know that he is able to be at
home now. Tell him with my love, that our old neighbor, Mrs. Goodwin,
once broke her leg, and she told me that though she expected to be
always lame, that in a year she could not remember which leg was broken.

I hope you and the boys have been well, in this winter of worries. As
to ice, I am scared to death of it, nothing else ever keeps me in the
house.

My old assistant at school, declares that one winter she dragged me up
and down Everett St., every school day! Nothing like the quietness of
this winter at Beverly Farms was ever seen. I think I must suggest to
the Beacon St. people to come down. We have had a good many dark days,
but now and then, I lie in my bed and watch the sun come up and glorify
the oaks on your hill.

And then I quote to "Jim" Emerson's lines:


     "Oh! tenderly the haughty day
     Fills his blue urn with fire."


And he likes that about as well as he likes the stars in the middle of
the night!

By the way, we are thinking of going to Colorado and Florida next month
for a few weeks. We have got the bits in our teeth, though we may have
to go to the City Home when we get back. We mean to try the month of
March in warmer climes. We haven't anything to wear--but that does not
matter.

Miss Miller comes down now and then, always serene, though what she
finds in the inlook or the outlook is difficult to see. Serenity in her
case, does not depend on outward circumstances.

God bless you all, and we shall be glad to see our kind sensible
neighbors back.

Affectionately,

MARY L. DOW.


My Dear Mrs. Goddard:

I told the nice young person at your door, that I hoped I should some
day soon see your dear face, and so I do hope. But I understand all
your busy moments, and you understand my limitations, my having been
born so many years ago; and we both know what fine women we both be,
and that's all about it!

Then there never was such a salad as we had for our fourth of July
dinner. And I did have a little real oil, too good for any hawked about
stuff. I put it right on to those dear little onions, and that happy
looking lettuce! And that isn't all about that, for there are still
carrots--gentle and sweet--for our tomorrow's lunch. I told "Jim" they
were good for the disposition and he said he didn't need carrots for
his! Men are awfully conceited. And I am so pleased to see Mr. Goddard
a'walking right off, without a limp to his name. James and Miss Miller
send love, and so do I, while the beautiful hill holds you and always.

MARY LARCOM DOW.


Monday, July 7, 1919.


Mrs. Dow wrote to a California friend, Mrs. Gertrude Payne Bridgeford, a
short time before her death:

"I'd give my chance of a satin gown to see you, and I hope I shall live
to do that, but if I don't, remember that I love you always, here or
there, and I quote here my favorite verse from Weir Mitchell,


     'Yes, I have had dear Lord, the day,
     When, at thy call, I have the night,
     Brief be the twilight as I pass
     From light to dark, from dark to light.'"


Her prayer was answered for the twilight was brief.


Dear Elsie:

As soon as Mary said "E. Sill"--I found the Fool's Prayer directly.

It was in my mind and would not stay out. How well it expresses that
our sins are often not so bad as our blunders! A splendid prayer for an
untactful person. Perhaps I should not go so far as to say that want
of tact is as bad as want of virtue--but it is pretty bad! From that
defect, you will go scot free! But I often blunder.

Your TAT is here, I am keeping it as a hostage.

Thine,

YOUR OLD SCHOOLMA'AM.

Friday, April 9, 1920.



EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS


"Wouldn't it be lovely if one could fall--like a leaf from a tree?"

"Longevity is the hardest disease in the world to cure, you are beat
from the start, and get worse daily!"

"Ah, dear, sometimes I wish--almost wish--I did not love life so well!
But I try to think that if it is not a long dreamless sleep bye and
bye, that I shall take right hold of that other existence and love it
too!"

And speaking of Mr. Dow's serious illness she wrote:

"I try to believe that God will not take him first--and leave me with
no sun in the sky--nor bird in the bush--no flower in the grass."



APPRECIATION

BY

SARAH E. MILLER


It was in the autumn of 1872 that I first met my friend, Mary Larcom
Ober, at Wilmington, North Carolina, where we were teaching in the same
school.

In the spring of 1873, she invited me to her home in Beverly Farms.

How well I remember that first happy visit to beautiful Beverly Farms,
and the first walk in its woods. We went through the grounds of the
Haven estate and then to Dalton's hill which has such a fine outlook.

From that time my friend's home held a welcome for me whenever I chose
to come, and the welcome lasted till the close of her life.

What a hospitality, rest and peace there was in the dear "house by the
side of the road," and a never-failing kindness and love. What cheer at
Thanksgiving and Christmas festivals when friends and neighbors came in
to bring greetings, and stayed for friendly chat or a game of cards.

In the first years of our friendship, I made close acquaintance with
the woods of Beverly Farms, for we lived our summer afternoons mostly
out of doors in those days. We had two favorite places under the trees,
one, on a little hill deep in the pines, the other, with glimpses of
the sea, and we took our choice of these from day to day.

Here in the company of books, birds and squirrels we used to sit, read
and sew till the last beams of sunlight crept up to the tops of the
pines, then gathered up books and work and went home.

I learned much of book-lore in those days from my friend, much also of
wood-lore. She knew the places where the spring flowers were hidden,
hepeticas, violets, blood-root, the nodding columbines, and all the
others, and we searched them out together.

The memory of those first years at Beverly Farms, and of all the
following years are among the most precious possessions that I hold.

S. E. M.



EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS WRITTEN TO MR. DOW


_From Mrs. Cora Haynes Crosby_:

"I have known and loved her, our dear wonderful friend who has left us,
ever since I can remember, and what a friend she has been.

Not only was she dear to father and mother, but just as precious with
her great, noble, beautiful spirit to all of us younger ones, for she
was no older than we.

That happy outlook on life, her love of everything beautiful and fine
in nature, books and people, made her an inspiration to all who knew
her."


_From a letter by Mrs. Margaret Haynes Pratt_:

"Ever since I was a little girl, Molly has been almost a member of our
household. As a child, her visits were as much a joy to me as to mother
and father.

I never thought of her as old, even then--and a child generally marks
off the years in relentless fashion, for Molly was always young to me,
as she must have been to everyone who knew her.

It is wonderful to have had a nature that so helps all who knew her to
believe that life is immortal."





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