Aidaisms

Young Aida Austin.
Young Aida Austin.
My great-aunt Aida Austin was an unconventional lady. She had unique ways of expressing herself which could be called Aidaisms.

Aida handwrote all her research and letters. Letters she rewrote up to six times, and kept all the copies.

Each version added a few new details, so it was necessary to save all the sheets in order to know the complete information and the nuances.

Often information was written on whatever paper (scrap or new) was available.

Aidaisms (letter excerpts)
•    Here I am at last. I’m afraid you will begin to think that I am very slow and have been very idle. I am slow but I have not been idle.

•    Here I am at last. When I obtained your address, I planned to write to you just as soon as I had finished some work for my brother Eldred, which I thought would take only a few days…And I have worked steadily, excepting that once in a while I have taken just a few moments to berate Mr. Winston Churchill for keeping the world in such an uproar.

•    I think I must be somewhat like a boy who a number of years ago worked for Mrs. Phillips of Black Lake. The first morning he went out to do the chores. He took a long time. So long that Mrs. Phillips became worried and went to see what had happened to him. When she reached the barn, she found him milking the cow, and he said to her, “Madam, I’m a very slow milker.”

•    I am not inferring that I am a slow milker, because I am not. When I was small and wanted to learn how to milk, my sisters said to me, “Don’t you learn! If you do, you’ll have to milk!” So I followed their advice and never became a slow milker, but I will have to acknowledge I am a slow worker and seem to be getting slower and slower.

•    It may be that the weather has been making me slower than usual. I can’t say, for the weather don’t stay in one place long enough for anyone to make a study of it. Sometimes, it comes flooding us with sunshine, and a few minutes later it has gone with the sun somewhere and is pelting us with snow and sleet. You would think such a freakish winter would be able to stop this war.
Farewell to Eldred, p. 232.

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Newspapers and Oatmeal, 1940

Three unknown young folks in front of the homes facing Proctor Road. where Aida (right) and her brother Lon Austin (left) lived.
Three unknown young folks in front of the Austin homes facing Proctor Road where Aida (right) and her brother Lon Austin (left) lived.

Lon and Aida Austin
In 1940 Aida, 79, and Lon, 83 (who had never married) continued to live in Eldred and refer to it as “the Village.”

They each lived in their own place next door to each other, on the original Austin property possibly bought around 1840. Lon lived in the house where he, Aida, and their siblings had grown up. Why?

Aida: Save only the clippings that you want from newspapers.
Lon: Save the whole paper if you are interested (as his house proved).
Aida: You should boil the water first when you make oatmeal.
Lon: You should mix the oatmeal in cold water, and then cook it.

Obviously with such diverse thinking, the elderly Austin siblings couldn’t live in the same house. They were very concerned and caring for one another; and went back and forth a dozen times a day to check on one another.

Aida was a somewhat peppery, independent lady. Both she and Lon had strong opinions. But they did try to change things they thought were wrong.

Sometime around 1940 Aida researched the history of both her family and the Town of Highland (originally Lumberland). She hand copied excerpts of many land deeds, the oldest of which was from 1815.

Aida’s great-niece Melva Austin sometimes helped by carrying Aida’s groceries home. Melva would be tired out when she arrived at Aida’s, but Aida was not.

Aida made Melva hot chocolate, after first chopping some kindling wood to start the fire in the stove. As they drank hot chocolate, Aida talked to Melva about the history she was finding and saving. Sometimes Aida played recordings of Caruso for Melva, or played songs on the organ.

I more and more realize that while we were socializing and she was telling me “stories,” I was being taught.—Melva.

Aida entrusted Melva with her extensive assortment of photos, letters, and research, all of which played a major part in the Halfway Brook Series and was the basis for the story of the arrival of the James Eldred Family in, The Mill on Halfway Brook.

Lon and Aida walked the hilly, rough terrain from their place on Proctor Road to the Village and the A&P almost daily; sometimes twice a day—but at different times.The neighbors and townsfolk were very caring to Aida and Lon.

Often a neighbor on the way to or from town would stop and give Aida or Lon a ride. Though Lon, at least, preferred to walk.

Aida’s Diary of the early 1940s started around August of 1940.

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Esther Hinman Hickok

142738pu.tif
Dining Room Fireplace in Log Cabin, Terrytown, Bradford County, PA. Historic American Buildings Survey, Stanley Jones, Photographer September 1, 1936 ; LOC 142738.
Dining Room Fireplace in Log Cabin, Terrytown, Bradford County, PA. Historic American Buildings Survey, Stanley Jones, Photographer September 1, 1936 ; LOC 142738.
“The River” (later Barryville) on the Delaware River. In the collection of Aida Austin.
1815-sylviastone
Close up of Sylvia Hickok’s stone, courtesy of Jane Butler.
Sylvia Hickok's gravestone in the Old Eldred Cemetery courtesy of Cousin Cynthia.
Sylvia Hickok’s gravestone in the Old Eldred Cemetery courtesy of Cousin Cynthia.

My great-great-great-grandmother Esther Hinman Hickok died in Warren Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, April 23, 1844. Esther, 84, was buried in the Cadis Cemetery, beside her husband, Asa Hickok, who had died in 1836.

Esther is one of those “quiet” people in history that not much is known about. She grew up in South Britain (Southbury), Connecticut, one of many Hinman descendants who settled very early in the section of Ancient Woodbury that is now Southbury.

Esther was most likely a near neighbor of Asa Hickok, who she married at the end of 1777. Esther’s uncle Elijah Hinman was one the Captains in the Revolutionary War and led one of the units Asa had been in.

Asa and Esther Hinman Hickok and their six adult children left Connecticut for Lumberland, New York in 1812. They settled two miles above “the River” (now Barryville), on the Delaware River; and near Halfway Brook.

The location must have been reminiscent of her childhood home near the Pomperaug River and the Great River, or Housatonic as we now call it.

Daughter Sylvia died in 1815 and was buried in the Old Eldred Cemetery. Son David and his family moved to Pike County, Pennsylvania in 1820.

In 1823 Asa and Esther accompanied by son Reuben and daughter Louisa, moved to Warren Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania.

Son Justus and daughter Hannah remained in Lumberland, later Highland. As you may know Hannah Hickok married James Eldred, the year after his first wife died. James and Mary Ann’s daughter Mary Ann would be my great-grandmother.

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April 1917

McKinley Austin at his aunt Aida Austin’s house, 1917. Photo courtesy of Mary A.

My Tuesdays are meatless
My Wednesdays are wheatless
I am getting more eatless each day.
My house is heatless
My bed is sheetless
They’ve all been sent to the Y.M.C.A..
The bar rooms are treatless
My coffee is sweetless,
Each day I get poorer and wiser
My stockings are feetless
My trousers are seatless
Oh how I do hate the Kaiser.

Quite a poem, is it not?

Well let’s hope that there will soon be an end to this awful war.
—Your friend, Ruth Colville.

The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917.

Mort and Jennie Austin’s son Mortimer McKinley (Mac) enlisted. By 1917 Mort and Jennie must have been resettled at Mountain Grove. Their family at home included: Raymond, 16, Bill, 14, Elizabeth, 6, Art, 4, and Bob, 2. Aida and/or Lon lived in the old Austin homestead which they rented from Dr. Alonzo E. Austin.

Ruth Colville, daughter of Charles and Lottie Bradley Colville, was a friend of McKinley and wrote several letters to Mac while he was in the service.

Ruth was the granddaughter of Isaac and Joanna Brown Bradley. Five of the seven Bradley children ran boarding houses in the Town of Highland: Abel and Viola Bradley Hazen; Charles and Mary Frances Bradley Myers; Atwell Bradley; and Erwin and Norah Bradley Avery. Ruth’s parents ran Woodland Cottages.

Woodland Cottages owned by the Colvilles.
Woodland Cottages owned by the Colvilles.

Woodland Cottage, Barryville
Fine new modern house, handsomely decorated; open fireplace; large airy rooms; nicely situated; pine groves near house; stable accommodations; $8 and $10. C.M. Colville, Barryville.—Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 23, 1905.

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March 1882

Lon Austin's brother Mort with horse in Kansas around 1880.
Lon Austin’s brother Mort with horse in Kansas around 1880.

Mary Ann Writes to Lon Austin in Kansas, 1881.
The Austin brothers Ell, Lon, and Mort, worked a few years in Kansas. Lon seems to have gone to California. In this letter, William Sutherland, a friend from Solomon City, Kansas, writes Lon from McPherson, Kansas, south and a bit west of Solomon City. There is a plot in Prairie Mound Cemetery in Solomon, Kansas, with the name William Sutherland, but I do not know if that is where he is buried.

W. Sutherland, Central Bank, McPherson, Kans., to Lon Austin
March 11, 1882
Friend Alonzo,
I like banking very well and if I do well, expect to stick to it.

We have had a heavy snow storm and it has now nearly melted off but there are only 2 or 3 small sleighs here and so we didn’t have much fun, but the snow has been of immense value to the wheat crop.

There has been some entertainment here this winter such as surprise parties, several dances, and theatricals.

Last night I took my violin and went up to E.G. Clarke’s residence. We had music and singing and then snowballed each other on the way home.

Solomon has improved very much in the last year and promises well for the future.

Well Lon, you have not yet told me what you are doing. I should infer that you are chopping down trees, or some such thing in a lumber camp. Is that it?

I hope some day to travel through California and other western states and territories and have a good time.

What are a young man’s chances in the west? And what wages do they pay in the different trades and professions? What do you know of banking out there?

Yours Respectfully, Wm. G. Sutherland

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March Early 1870s

The Austin barn in the early 1900s.
The Austin barn in the early 1900s.

In the early 1870s William Henry Austin worked in New York City. Henry wrote his son Lon directions about work he wanted done at the Austin home and farm on Proctor Road in Halfway Brook.

Tom Collins was their long time neighbor who lived on Collins Road. Daughters Edith (Emma) Austin may have been in college; and Ida (Aida) was around 12 years old.

New York, March, early 1870s
Dear Son Lonny,
I thought I would write a few lines to you.

I wish you would tell Tommy Collins not to get out that frame for the woodhouse, nor draw the wood. If he has not commenced either, tell him that I don’t want it done. I wish you to tell him as soon as you receive this so he won’t make any calculation on doing it.

I wish you would let it be known that the cattle will be for sale about the first of April. I shall try and come up there about that time so if you see anyone that wants cows, you can tell them, but do not sell any until I come.

I haven’t heard from Edith since she left here. Tell Ida I miss her very much.

It is quite warm here today, but the streets are in a fearful condition, but I have not much to do, so it doesn’t make much difference to me. I wish you would write and let me know how the hay holds out.

With much love to you all, I close, Wm. H. Austin

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March 27, 1881

Early Winter 1881 February 1881

1860–1870: Cattle fording the Smoky Hill River at Ellsworth, Kansas, on the old Sante Fe crossing, 508 miles west of St. Louis, Missouri; 54 miles west of Solomon, KS. Photo: Alexander Gardner. Library of Congress: LC-USZ62-8087.

Mary Ann Eldred Austin wrote her son Lon Austin in 1881, with local news.

Lon lived in Solomon City, Kansas, where he worked for his brother Ell who managed the many acres of farm land owned by Henry Parmenter. In 1883 Ell married Henry’s daughter Emma. When Henry died, Emma and her sister inherited 220 acres on the Smoky Hill River.

Mary Ann Austin, Eldred, to Lon Austin, Solomon City, Kans.
March 27, 1881

My dear Son,
Your long looked for letter has arrived. It is very welcome, for indeed I thought you had forgot your Mother and I was afraid you was sick, as Eldred [Ell] did not say anything about you.

How I do wish you was working to Proctors and boarding home. Gus Osier has moved on his father-in-law’s place so that he will be nearer Proctor. But George Parker lives near his father, so he has a good way to walk.

They say that this man that has bought near Proctors is worth the most so that it will make plenty work.

George Hickok came home last week dressed like a gentleman and set some crazy to leave this place. Bill R. and H. Sprague expect to leave for Catheray in a few weeks. Olin Hickok went last Monday.

Wells’s wife came out with George. George says he gets $100 a month driving a gypsy wagon, is doing well; and Wells makes money. But he has bad luck losing horses I think. Continue reading

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1917, before WWI

Mt.-Herman
Mt. Hermon School where McKinley attended for a year.

McKinley Attends Mount Hermon
In the fall of 1916 Mort and Jennie Austin said good bye to their oldest son McKinley, as he left to attend Mount Hermon School for Boys in Massachusetts.

 

Mount Hermon
Mount Hermon was founded in 1881, by evangelist D.L. Moody (1837–1899), To help young men of very limited means to get an education such as would have done me good when I was their age.

The Mount Hermon campus was surrounded by 1,100 acres on the wooded banks of the Connecticut River in western Massachusetts.

The Bible was the primary tool for instruction in the early days, and it was accompanied by a rigorous academic program similar to that of other private secondary schools of the era.

Manual labor, called “Cooperative Housekeeping,” was required of all students. Boys performed janitorial, laundry, kitchen, and farm work.

After Moody’s death in 1899, his eldest son, William, continued his father’s work at the Northfield Schools: Mount Hermon and Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies. Henry Cutler was headmaster at Mount Hermon from 1890–1932.—School archivist Peter Weis, nmhschool.org.

McKinley Austin, Mount Hermon, Mass., to Aida Austin, Eldred
April 6, 1916
Dear Aunt,
I am getting along all right and I like the place very well. All the fellows I have met so far are nice. There is one from India that I have met. He’s all right too. Give my regards to all and tell them I’ll write soon. Your nephew, McKinley

Changes Ahead in 1917
On January 31, 1917, Germany announced their U-boats would engage in unrestricted submarine warfare. German submarines sank three American merchant vessels on March 17.

Though President Woodrow Wilson had earlier declared the U.S. neutral, in April the U.S. entered the war, The Great War—The War to End All Wars.

Once again men in the villages of Highland township would be fighting in a war, but this time they would fight overseas.

Men from the town, descendants of early settlers, future residents, and relatives of future citizens of Highland, play a part in another horrid War.—from, Echo Hill and Mountain Grove, pp. 315,316, 318.

Note: The United States entered WWI on April 6, 1917. My uncle McKinley, his brother (also my uncle) Raymond, and my Grandpa Briggs (Methodist Minister in Highland, 1935–1945), were all in WWI. Since it will soon be the 100th anniversary of the US entrance into WWI, I hope to add the letters and info I have collected in Echo Hill and Mountain Grove off and on through out the year.—Louise Elizabeth Smith.

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“Albion’s Seed” Book Review

Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, by David Hackett Fischer.
Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, by David Hackett Fischer.

Chapters
East Anglia to Massachusetts:
The Exodus of the English Puritans, 1629–41

The South of England to Virginia:
Distressed Cavaliers & Indentured Servants, 1642–1775

North Midlands to the Delaware:
The Friends’ Migration 1675–1725

Borderlands to the Backcountry:
The Flight from North Britain, 1717–1775

When my youngest son heard the book I am writing reaches back to 1630s London, England, he mentioned, Albion’s Seed.

Albion is the oldest known name for Great Britain. Mr. Fischer discusses four groups of English settlers from four different regions in Great Britain; four different time periods; and the “folkways” each group brought—threads of which continue in the fabric of today’s society.

Some folkways covered: speech, building, family, marriage, naming, death, religious, food, dress, sports, freedom.—pages 8 & 9.

Dressways
Mr. Fischer corrects and explains some misconceptions on dress.

• Steeple hats and ‘sadd colors’ (p. 140) were typical of Puritan dressways. Both men and women in New England did actually wear the broad-brimmed steeple hats of legend, historical revisionists nothwithstanding.—p. 142.
• Even in the twentieth century, the descendants of the Puritans still wear suits of slate-grey and Philly-mort. In Boston…Brahmin ladies still dress in sad colors…—p. 145.)

Gameways
Lawful entertainment included two amusements: The Boston game is known today as American football. The New England game/the Massachusetts game/town ball/round ball is of course our baseball. Both games descended from “a large family of English folk games.”—from pp. 148–151.

Speechways
My father often added an “r” to words such as Hawaii became Hawaiur. I found the answer to this on pp. 59–60 regarding New Englander speechways:

Other common pronunciations were… ‘Americur’ for ‘America’… Some ‘r’s’ disappeared (Harvard became Haa-v’d)…other r’s were added. ‘Follow’ was pronounced ‘foller,’ and ‘asked’ became ‘arst’…Precisely the same sounds still exist today in remote parts of East Anglia.

Because my focus is on the earlier English Puritan migration, I have the sections on the Cavaliers, Quakers, and North Britain left to read.

Packed with helpful drawings, maps, and tables (including “Genealogical Links to New England’s Puritan Elite”), I found this a great resource.

Fischer, David Hackett, Albion’s Seed, Four British Folkways in America, NY: Oxford University Press, 1989

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