From Ontario County 5 August 1892

The reminiscences appended were written by Mrs. Polly Mason Morse, mother of E. M. Morse of this village, on the celebration of Arbor Day in Dist. No. 4, in the town of Bristol. At that time trees were planted by the school in honor of Mrs. Jackson and Mrs. Morse. Both ladies responded by sending papers recording incidents of their early lives. Mrs. Morse has kindly consented to allow hers to be printed in the Journal.

I have heard a whisper that on Arbor Day friends and relatives would plant a tree on the dear old homestead for Polly Mason, and a wish has been expressed that I would write some reminiscences of my childhood and youth in the long ago. My father was one of the first settlers of Bristol. He sat down on the farm in the year 1800, built a house of logs and therein put his little family. In 1803, Polly Mason, the one who writes this, first saw the light from that log house. I was rocked in the one-half of a hollow log, with head and foot boards to keep the pillows and baby in order, and there I slept and dreamed my baby dreams, and was as happy as if my cradle had been made of rosewood, while the long drawn howl of the wolf was heard as he sought for prey. I was like all the daughters of Eve, full of mischief, playing with rag babies, making mud pies, and many other pranks that a child is heir to; but my mother was a practical woman, and when my eldest sister was ten years of age, and I was nearly eight, she introduced us to the spinning wheel. We had our stints. My sister's was ten knots for a day, my own was seven, as I was not quite eight years old. I was put in school early in life and soon learned to read fluently. The school was astonished one day. The master told us he wished us to commit the fore part of Webster's spelling book to memory, in a given time, and would give the first one who accomplished it, two shillings. A number of the scholars went in, but soon all dropped out of the ranks but two, myself and another girl. At the time given we were called to the desk. Only two appeared. I had my lesson perfect and, with words of praise, received my two shillings. The other girl had hers but imperfectly. The teacher said she tried hard to get the lesson, and he would give her two shillings, which he did.

I well remember the war of 1812-13. Our second neighbor on one side was a captain of the militia. One morning as the day was coming, he rode to the door in hot haste, and told my father to get his French gun and cartridge box ready to go to West Bloomfield. He said the British and Indians had landed at Buffalo, and would be in Canandaigua before night. The two political parties at that time were Democrats and Federals. The Federals, some of them, laid the war at the door of the Democrats. All the men liable to do military duty were gone to Bloomfield, and we women and children were waiting for the Indians to come and take our scalp locks. They and the British burned Buffalo, then little more than a hamlet, but did not get to Canandaigua, and on the 10th of September, the tars and marines on Lake Erie were seen to make the proud flag of Great Britain come down.

Before I was fourteen I was put in the loom to make cloth for the family, in which I became adept, and now I must blow my own bugle. I don't know of one now living but myself who can relate the fact. The month was October, my work weaving; I started the shuttle as the sun came up, worked steadily on all day, and when the sun went out of sight, I had woven fifteen yards, set down every yard as I wove it. I was then eighteen years old. Oh ! blest days of childhood and youth, how soon ye were gone. I was one of seven brothers and sisters. In the language of Mrs. Hemans: "They grew in beauty, side by side. Their graves are severed far and wide." One brother and sister sleep in Michigan, one sister in Mount Hope, Rochester, two brothers, one sister, and my own little Mary, are at rest in Greenwood Cemetery on Baptist Hill. The snows of many winters have frosted my head and blanched my cheek. My heart is young for those I love. I am nearing the eighty-ninth year of life. My long life has been like a voyage. I have sailed in deep waters, have often seen clouds gather, portending a storm, when the sun came forth in all his glory and the clouds were dispersed. I have sailed past pleasant islands, called at some, had a good time, and passed on. My life has been a happier one than many I have known. True, there have been clouds, but more sunshine than shadow. Life is somewhat as we make it. If we go through life with our eyes shut or always looking on the dark side, we shall fail to see the flowers and sunshine in our path.

My boat is moored in a peaceful haven, and I am standing on the border, waiting for the pale boatman to take me over to the other shore, where I hope to find the dear ones who have gone before, but are not lost. I shall tell them pleasant stories of old Bristol.



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