Letter from Mrs. Kate Strong
Posted By: Volunteer
Date: 8/27/2019 at 20:30:37
14 Feb 1864 - honeymoon
Letter from Mrs. Kate Strong - Geary, Oklahoma
(I believe this letter to have been written in 1922 as Kate says "fifty-eight years after our first honeymoon - and the above date is her wedding date. . jack)
Editor Reporter - Fifty-eight years later am writing about our first honeymoon. You all are aware we had our golden wedding in February, 1914, so that made two, one in each century. O.E. may not publish all of this sporty episode, but he may have eaten such a good Thanksgiving dinner that he is still indulging in one of his self satisfying little smiles, also that jolly whistle of his, I remember so well. One thing, if he does conclude to publish it, I will not have to stand on my head to read it like I do the Geary Times, but the editor is part Indian and so is excusable.
Our first honeymoon, it was in the calling month and mating day, Feb 14, 1864, we were married. It must have been a blackbird and a crow that mated that day, for I was picking and cawing at him for a good many years thereafter, and the days went on I truly found out it is too true what the old Irish woman said, "It is quite easy to marry a man but getting acquainted with him afterwards is where the trouble comes in needles and pins." Needles and pins, when a man marries this trouble begins. When a woman marries the devil begins. Well, the first three months I was married if I had been single again I would not have married the best man living, and just to think I might have had a preacher. James Ownby, of Decatur, remembers him, for he tied a note to Towser, the dog's tail and sent it to me with the to be preacher's name signed to it. Well, the devil;s claw reached out and caught my heart. When we moved six miles north of Decatur, on a farm J.D. owned, it had a three room house on it, and I looked in ad saw a little two by four cook stove. Oh, the tears I shed over that stove, burned my bread and fingers, not room enough for both. I said to him, "Why did you get such a small stove?" He says, "It is large enough for two." Well, I says how long will there be just two. Well, that question was answered a year later when our eldest daughter was born. He only had the doctor and seven women present. By the time he got the seventh one there wasn't any more needed. Well, I must get back to the rest of his house furnishings. I looked around and saw six bottomless chairs, splint bottom chairs they were called in that day. He says I will bottom those chairs. I had never seen such skeleton looking household goods. He went to the timber the next day, peeled some hickory bark, and at night would wave the strands of hickory bark back and forth across the bottom of the chairs. He would finish one each night, after supper until he completed five of them, but the sixth one he never did finish. He said he would make a rocker out of it but he never did, and it was ten years before I ever got a rocking chair, and then I bought it for myself of Len Strong, gave him $1.50 for it, and it was a splint bottomed one, painted green. By the way it was that long too before we had a clock. In after years he traded a hound dog for a watch. Oh ye kids of today, what would ye do with your nicely furnished homes if they were like mine in '64. We had two high post bedsteads, each one had little wooden pegs across the railing about a foot apart, for the intertwining of bedcord rope, crossing over front head to foot and side to side. The slack in the rope had to be taken up every Saturday night if the bed was slept in, for it had to hold up a large bedtick filled with straw or corn husks, and a big twenty pound feather bed, the higher the bed the better it looked, and often you had to get on a chair to get in its great depths. No nowaday mattresses then. It took some time to make a bed look nice and smooth in those days. I always used a broom handle to take out the bumps and wrinkles on top. I have heard it said that if you could make a pretty bed, you would get a pretty man, but I never heard that soon enough to try it, had to take what I could get.
It was war time in '64, flour was $10.00 per barrel, coffee too high to buy, I made sorghum coffee during the week, rye coffee on Sunday, and soup nearly every day. I have never liked soup since. We had plenty of butter, eggs and cream, but no churn. Once during the hot summer I went early in the morning to his mother's to borrow her churn, as I wanted to churn while it was nice and cool. I talked too long, J.D's parents lived where Frank Binning lives now. I was barefooted, coming home carrying the churn, I think it was a half mile anyway, the ground got so hot to my feet that I had to take off my apron, tear it to pieces and wrap up each foot to keep them from blistering. I had to scour that churn inside and out to keep it as white as his mother did, and I had to scour those blasted old chairs too. Had no money to buy paint with.
All the money we got that summer we got (and J.D. kept that) from a runaway couple from Osceola on their way to Missouri to get married, but I didn't know until next morning they hadn't been to Missouri, they were just going. Well, to keep up with the custom of the times, J.D's father gave him five head of sheep. Why he did so I do not know, for I couldn't spin, a roll always twisted the wrong way. In May he tried to shear the sheep, but as he got more hide than wool, he got Mr. Uplfield to finish shearing them. I washed the wool. J.D. came into the house and said, "Where is that d-d wool. Take it out of here." I did, and the contents of his stomach went with it. He never did sell that wool and the very next day he sold the sheep and bought a dog. Gave 50 cents for him and called him Grant. We had no screens they never heard of such a thing then, and I couldn't keep the pup out of the house. He had built a pig pen near the stable (not a barn) and shut up five small pigs in it. When he would go to the field to work I would grab the pup and put him in with the pigs and before time for him to come from the field I would hustle the pup out. I four or five weeks he turned the shoats out in the pasture and the dog went with them. He said, "I never saw such a fool dog. I can't get him to run a hog at all. I have whipped him but it does no good. Just look over yonder on the hill and you can see that cur sunning himself beside the hogs." Any time of day you could look on the hill near the Bledsoe place and there was that dog with the illustrious name meandering around with the hogs. Brother Doc knew all about it, but he had to take sides with me to keep up his brother John. But J.D. had to give the dog away and never got his fifty cents back.
I thought I would get most of the bad things in this time but will write again, the next may be worse, but you need not waste your sympathy for J.D, as he is better than he has been for some time. When he left Kansas in August to come home he only weighed 127 pounds, but on November 22 he weighed 146. I tried my best to get him to come to Iowa with me. Just the little trip he took helped him. I had to do some coaxing to get to take that. He still says if he had gone on to Iowa he would have been sick after he came home. No rain here for two months. Wheat is growing fast up in the air. I guess I will have to close this shimmying letter for today. Look for another, worse or better. Before I close will have to tell you I went six miles in the country to a meeting of the Priscilla club Tuesday morning. Had a fine dinner and a debate on "Resolved; that the women of today have more to do than had the women of one hundred years ago." I was one of the judges and the negative won. I was for that side. The roll call was "Your idea of now and then." My answer was:
I have lived in the then
I live in the now,
But to save my life
I cannot tell how.
For in the then they loved
And they kissed just as they do now.
MRS. KATE STRONG
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