Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Days of Adversity, Fourth Letter to the Censor

The Fredonia Censor
Fredonia, New York
Wednesday, April 29, 1925
Page eleven

Adversities of Life


    Remaining in Milwaukee awhile, I took a steamer for Manitowoc, and Two Rivers, about 60 miles north on Lake Michigan. At the latter little village I called on another sister whom I had never seen before. She was the wife of Merrit Allen, formerly of Fredonia, and husband of sister Maggie, who had died several years prior to my visit. His second wife was sister Jane. I worked as a printer about two years in Manitowoc, about five miles south of Two Rivers, and then returned to Milwaukee, where I later embarked with two other typos on the propellor “Globe” for Buffalo, N. Y.

    The journey was a long and interesting one. We stopped for a couple hours at Mackinac Island, then sparsely inhabited by French and Indians, and found a printing plant in this almost barren island, conducted by a Frenchman. When we told him we were printers, he told us he would pay us big wages to set up a pamphlet of French in English letters. Of course, we had to refuse the job, as our transportation on the steamer had already been paid to Buffalo. Mackinac Island then contained a fort of Uncle Sam’s soldiers as it probably does today.

    Arriving at Buffalo, after some financial difficulty, I arrived at Fredonia. There I met some of my boyhood friends, among them Miss Emily H. Day, who was with me in the Griswold family at Laona. That the meeting was a great surprise and pleasure to us both goes without saying.

    I afterwards visited Laona, but found very few of my boyhood friends still living there. The old red school house was used as a barn, and was crumbling to decay, and a new white school house was built near by and attended by a later generation. I visited the farm of Benjamin Cornwell, and met there an old school mate, Emeline Cooper, who was the daughter of Wm. Cooper, the “hired man” on the farm of Ben Griswold my foster father. I also came across a carpenter named Tennant in Fredonia, who had married Serepta Judson, another school mate. Fredonia had grown but little in size and population in 1858, but the surrounding country was more thickly populated, and contained a new generation of residents and growing and prosperous farms and farm houses.

    I also visited Justus Harrington, one the owner of a large farm, but now old and bankrupt. He was living with his son, Joel, who was once one of my playmates.

    Soon I bade a final goodbye to old Chautauqua County; and visited Buffalo, Lockport and Syracuse, where I had uncles, aunts and cousins whom I never before met. I turned up in Seneca Falls in 1859, and worked for a couple of years on the “Courier” of that city. Henry Stanton (Either husband, brother or father) of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, women’s rights champion, was assistant editor of the Courier. I saw Mrs. Stanton quite often as a visitor to the office, and heard her lecture from the rostrum. She had a an impressive personality and a rather masculine voice.

    I listened to many political orators of the Republican and Democratic parties, among them Wm. H. Seward, Stephen A. Douglas and Horace Greeley. Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States and several of the southern states seceded from the Union. Lincoln arrived at Washington, after a secret and perilous journey through mobs at Baltimore and other cities and was inaugurated as James Buchanan retired from the presidential chair.

    The “Wide Awakes” were organizing at Seneca Falls and I joined them. The state militia was preparing to go to Washington to defend the capital from invasion, and I arrived there soon after Mr. Lincoln’s call for 75,000 troops, and I was one of the regiment. Some 20,000 of us passed in review in front of the White House and before President Lincoln and his cabinet, including General Winfield Scott. Our battalion, after camping in Washington for awhile, marched through Virginia via Martinsburg, Charlestown and Harper’s Ferry. We saw the remains of the scaffold on which John Brown was executed at Charlestown, and the ruins of he engine house and bridge across the Potomac where he and a small group of followers fought the State troops to free the negro slaves of the south.

    We were encamped at Harper’s ferry when the first battle of Bull Run was fought, and the Union forces were defeated by the Confederates under Beaureguard and Johnston, but our regiment participated in no battles, though the war lasted about four years. History tells the rest of the story and I will not attempt to repeat it here.

Oscar Langford
Union Printers’ Home
Colorado Springs, Colorado

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