Times Past, Pausing to Remember

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I was sent to school at first in the Nave neighborhood on the way to Bellbrook and afterward in the Coy neighborhood. The way to the school house of the latter led through a heavy timber and the beginning of each winter term someone would blaze the trees along the way so that the children might not lose themselves. It was necessary for me to help my father all I could to help to pay off the debt of $300 incurred in coming to America besides the expense of supporting the family. All who were able united in doing what we could to remove the burden, father by day's work here and there at 50 cents a day, except in harvest which was 62.5 cents for binding. Mother washed for the farmers at their houses for 25 cents a day, going two and three miles. My wages were 25 cents a day in harvest and threshing until I was sixteen and over.

My parents did all they could toward my education by sending me one term to Bellbrook three miles away, which was a school of high grade. I made commendable progress in my studies especially in reading, writing, and spelling, and in the course of a year I could read and speak as correctly as those who were born in America. I had and kept the good will of all my teachers, which was an aid and encouragement in my studies. I was helped with a good voice for singing which brought me somewhat into notice in singing schools taught by different persons during the winter evenings. There were three systems, patent notes, numeral system, by a Rev. Harrison of Cincinnati, and the round notes. The numeral system was at that time the most common in which I learned to read music quite readily. Spelling schools were also very common at the time and held in the different school houses and which were well attended and in which great interest was manifested and equally so in debating societies.

In the fall of 1845 we moved to Williams County, Ohio, near Pulaski on a farm of Mr. Darst where my father had taken a "lease": clearing off the timber which was very heavy and fencing it with a stake and rider fence at $10 an acre. We also farmed the land which the first two years was very difficult because of the roots. Land at the time was still quite cheap and especially timber land. Money was exceedingly scarce and hard to get. An 80 acre lot somewhat low and swampy and undervalued on that account was still for sale in the neighborhood. It was held at $300. We desired earnestly to possess it. Thirty-five dollars was the first payment, but all we had was five dollars. We knew that it would not be long on the market and so to secure it in time something had to be done to secure the additional thirty dollars. The owner of the farm on which we lived owed us that amount and more for our work, but how to get the money in time to make the first payment was the question.

I volunteered to start at once and walk the distance to Greene County for the money. I had never walked long distances before and the eagerness of making the distance of 160 miles each way in as short a time as possible was such a strain on me that several times on the way I spit blood. I secured the money and made the round trip in time and we secured the land by paying the first payment. My expense during the round trip was $1.75. It proved to be a profitable trip and investment and in addition it laid the foundation for my reputation of being more than an ordinary pedestrian.

The following winter we cleared sufficient ground for a house and orchard. In one day a good sized log house was raised with the aid of our neighbors, of good straight timber within easy distance.

In 1846 Rev. R. R. Salter, a Reformed minister, came into the neighborhood and began to preach at different places. There were several Reformed families around our own, Wm. Stough, Wm. and John Altaffer and a few others. Regular services were soon held in Lafayette (Pulaski), the first year or two in the school house and then a church was built. A church was organized and I was one of a class first catechized and confirmed by him. At one of his communions Rev. J. Pence (Reformed) assisted, preceded by preaching each evening. Considerable interest was manifested. There was a large and increasing attendance. I was called to lead the singing, which I did. One evening after service Bro. Pence came to me and put his hand on my shoulder and said "Frederick, you ought to study for the ministry."

The words took possession of me. The thought so impressed itself on my mind that I could think of little else. It seemed like a revelation directing my course of life. Several things had perhaps prepared the way for such a thought. My mother's influence and training impressed me from my earliest recollections that life ought to have a specific aim and purpose. At different times there seemed to be favorable opportunities but circumstances of one kind or another prevented me from accepting any of them. I then and since have regarded and recognized the hand of Providence in guiding me in my youth and calling me into the ministry.

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