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Alice Marian Parr Kinley Irish

Autobiography

The following is a sketch of Alice Marian Parr, written in 1932 for her family. The text presented below has been copied as written (spelling and format), with page numbers noted in parenthesis.  It was submitted to the Linn County GenWeb by Pam Duimstra. 
 

     WHILE I WAS AT WILMOT'S A MAN BY THE NAME OF FREDERICK KINLEY AND HIS WIFE ELIZABETH HOUVER KINLEY WERE LIVING AT MARION, LINN CO, IA. IN A BRICK HOUSE NEAR WHERE THE WATER WORKS ARE NOW.  THEY HAD 2 CHILDREN LIVING.  A SON OLIVER CROMWELL 15 YRS OLD A DAUGHTER MARTISSA LEASON 13 YRS OLD.  A DAUGHTER DIED IN INFANCY THEY CALLED MARTISSA "MATTIE" SHE WAS WISHING ALL OF THE TIME FOR A LITTLE SISTER.

     FREDERICK AND (17) HIS WIFE HEARD THAT I COULD BE ADOPTED.  THEY DROVE TO WILMOT'S NOT FAR FROM THE PLACE WHERE I WAS BORN AND DECIDED TO TAKE ME HOME WITH THEM.  ALTHO THEY SAID I WAS THE PUNIEST PALEST SICKLIEST BABY THAT THEY EVER SAW.  THEY WRAPPED ME UP AND STARTED FOR MARION WITH ME.  THEY LOOKED AT ME SEVERAL TIMES ON THE WAY HOME TO SEE IF I WAS ALIVE THEY SAID.  FOR THERE WAS NO COLOR IN MY FACE AND MY LIPS LOOKED BLUE.  THEY GOT ME HOME ALIVE.

     THEIR DAUGHTER MATTIE WAS DELIGHTED TO HAVE ME FOR HER LITTLE SISTER.  THEY COULD ONLY GIVE ME A LITTLE COWS MILK AT A TIME.  BUT GRADUALLY I BEGAN TO LIVEN UP UNDER SUCH GOOD CARE.  AND GET A LITTLE PINK COLOR IN MY CHEEKS, AND GROW.  THEY USED TO HAVE A LITTLE SLEEVE THAT I WORE WHEN THEY GOT ME, IT WAS THE LENGTH OF MY MIDDLE FINGER (WHEN I WAS A WOMAN) AND THEY ROLLED IT UP AN INCH BECAUSE IT WAS TOO LONG. (18) AND I WAS 7 MONTHS OLD WHEN KINLEYS TOOK ME TO RAISE.  PEOPLE USED TO CALL ME THE RUNT.

     I WAS ALWAYS SMALL FOR MY AGE AND THEN UNTIL I WAS 13 YRS OLD THEN I BEGAN TO GROW TALLER.  AND WHEN I WAS 16 I WEIGHED AROUND 110 LBS AND WHEN I WAS MARRIED AT 18 YRS I WEIGHED 115 LBS.  KINLEYS SOON AFTER THEY ADOPTED ME MOVED ONTO A FARM NEAR NEWTON, JASPER CO IOWA.

     FATHER KINLEY HAD A SPLENDID FARM AND IT WAS WELL STOCKED AND WE WERE ALL SO HAPPY AND CONTENTED. THE COUNTRY WAS NEW THERE DID NOT SEEM TO BE ONE BUG OR WORM OR ANY

BLIGHT OR ANYTHING TO DESTROY WHAT EVER ANYONE PLANTED.  THEY SURELY HAD A RICH HARVEST OF EVERY THING THEY RAISED WHETHER GARDEN ORCHARD OR FIELD.

     ALL OF A SUDDED THE WAR CRY CAME..  EVERY MAN THAT WAS ABLE BODIED AND CONSIDERED TO BE FIT FOR THE SERVICE ENLISTED,  LEAVING MOTHERS, WIVES, SWEET HEARTS (19) LITTLE CHILDREN AND HOME FAR BEHIND.  AT FIRST I DID NOT UNDERSTAND IT AT ALL, FOR I WAS TOO YOUNG.  BUT AS TIME ROLLED ON I REMEMBER HOW NEW RECRUITS PASSED BY IN STAGE COACHES.

     MY SISTER MATTIE WAS A GOOD SINGER.  SHE LEARNED ALL OF THE THEN NEW WAR SONGS AND SHE TAUGHT THEM TO ME.  WHEN THE SOLDIER BOYS WENT BY I WOULD SING A WAR SONG, AND THEY CHEERED AND WAVED THEIR CAPS.

     MY MOTHER AND MY SISTER WERE NOT STRONG ENUF TO DO ALL OF THE HEAVY FARM WORK ALONE.  THEY USED TO HIRE AN ENGLISHMAN, HIS NAME WAS TOM CHARITY.  HE WAS NOT MUCH OF A HAND AND I USED TO BE AFRAID OF HIM.  WHILE MOTHER AND SISTER WERE GETTING SUPPER READY IN THE KITCHEN THEY USED THE LAMP AND THERE WAS NO LIGHT IN THE ROOM NEXT TO THE KITCHEN.  TOM WOULD GET DOWN ON ALL FOURS AND GROWL AND MAKE FACES AND SCAMPER AFTER ME AND I WOULD SCREAM AND ALMOST HAVE FITS. SO I DID NOT LIKE HIM

     (20) THE INDIANS A FRIENDLY TRIBE THAT FATHER USED TO SWAP CORN TO FOR VENISON OR DEER MEAT USED TO COME A WHOLE STRING OF THEM ON THEIR PONIES AND ASK FOR FOOD AND CORN.  ONCE MY SISTER WAS GETTING THEM SOME EGGS OUT OF A BIG STEAMER AND AN OLD INDIAN SQUAW HAD A BIG HEAVY PIECE OF CANVAS FILLING IT WITH CORN DOWN AT THE RAIL CORN CRIB. SHE TIED THE CORNERS OF THE CANVAS IN A HARD KNOT AND THREW THE CORN ON HER BACK AND HOOKED THE KNOTTED CORNERS ON HER FOREHEAD AND CARRIED THAT LOAD OF CORN OUT TO THE ROAD AND BALANCED IT ON HER PONYS BACK.  THEY STRAPPED THEIR PAPPOOSE TO A BOARD AND HUNG IT AT THE PONYS SIDE.

     THOSE INDIANS CAMPED DOWN EAST OF US A FEW MILES.  WE USED TO HAVE A SUGAR CAMP DOWN NEAR THE RIVER WHERE WE TAPPED SUGAR MAPLE TREES CAUGHT SAP IN PAILS HAD A LARGE PAN TO BOIL DOWN THE SAP AND O THE SWEET SMELL OF THAT LOVELY MAPLE (21) SYRUP AND ALSO THE GOOD TASTE OF IT AND THE CAKES OF MAPLE SUGAR COOLED DOWN IN 6 QT TIN PANS FINE TO EAT WITH SAUSAGE AND BUCKWHEAT CAKES.

     WELL THE INDIANS WERE FRIENDLY.  WE USED TO VISIT THEM WHEN OUR MEN WERE AT HOME TO TAKE US TO THEIR CAMP.  THEY HAD SEVERAL TENTS.  IT WAS FUN TO WATCH THE INDIAN KIDS SWIM AND PLAY.  WE SAW THE SQUAWS MAKING BEAD BASKETS & SLIPPERS AND OTHER PRETTY BEAD WORK CUSHIONS AND PURSES ETC.  FANCY COLORS.  THEY USED TO ROAST MUSKRATS THO, THAT MADE ME FEEL SICK.

     OUR MEN ALL ENLISTED IN THE WAR. WE TOOK THE WAR PAPERS AND READ OF THE BATTLES AND WHAT A HORRIBLE THING THAT WAR CALLED THE CIVIL WAS WAS.  CIVIL! IS IT CIVIL TO KILL YOUR BROTHER?  ONE DAY WHILE WE WERE VISITING AT A NEIGHBORS, MOTHER SAW A MAN COME LIMPING DOWN THE ROAD TOWARD US DRESSED IN THE ARMY BLUE.  MOTHER THREW UP HER (22) ARMS AND SHOUTED "O THERE CAMES FRED!" AND WE ALL WENT TO MEET HIM.

     HE HAD BEEN WOUNDED IN THE LEG.  HE HAD THE RIFLE BALL WITH HIM THAT WOUNDED HIM.  HE HAD LAIN IN THE HOSPITAL UNTIL HE WAS ABLE TO COME HOME ON FURLOUGH FOR A FEW DAYS.  HE ONCE MADE A SPEECH AT OUR SCHOOL HOUSE WHILE HE WAS AT HOME AND THE HOUSE WAS SO CROWDED WITH THE PEOPLE THAT SOME STOOD OUTSIDE OF THE DOOR.  HOW THE PEOPLE DID CHEER AND CHEER HIM.

     WE WENT HOME SO HAPPY TO HAVE HIM WITH US BUT WHEN WE WENT BACK WE ALL CRIED BECAUSE WE FELT THAT WE MIGHT NEVER SEE HIM AGAIN AND WE NEVER DID FOR HE WAS KILLED AT THE BATTLE OF CHATTANOOGA NEAR LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN.  A RIFLE BALL SEVERED THE JUGLAR VEIN IN HIS NECK AND IN A SHORT TIME HIS LIFE WAS GONE.  THE BOYS ROLLED HIM IN HIS BLANKET AND BURRIED DEAR FATHER ON THE CRUEL BATTLE FIELD.

     WHILE HE WAS AT HOME ON FURLOUGH THERE WERE SOME FRIENDLY INDIANS CAME TO (23) SEE HIM.  HE HAD THEM COME IN AND SIT DOWN TO DINNER WITH US.  THEY ATE LIKE WE DID.  THEY HAD BOWLS OF WATER THO TO DRINK AND WHEN THEY GOT THRU EATING THEY TOOK UP THEIR BOWLS AND EMPTIED THE WATER THAT WAS LEFT ONTO THE FLOOR.  I WANTED TO LAUGH BUT MOTHER MOTIONED WITH HER EYES FOR ME NOT TO.         FATHER WALKED OVER HIS FARM WHILE AT HOME TOO, AND LOOKED IT OVER.  I WENT WITH HIM.  HE LEAD ME BY THE HAND, HE PICKED SOME BIG LILLIES AND GAVE THEM TO ME AND SMILED SO KIND.  I SHALL NEVER FORGET IT.  FATHER RETURNED TO THE SERVICE.

     FINALLY ONE EVENING AFTER THE DAYS WORK WAS OVER A MAN CAME RIDING UP HORSEBACK.  HE CAME IN AND SAT AT THE END OF THE LOG FIRE PLACE.  HE JUST SAT THERE AND SAID NOTHING.  FINALLY MOTHER ASKED IF HE HAD ANY NEWS.  HE SAID YES, THERE HAS BEEN AN AWFUL BATTLE, AND SAID NOTHING MORE.  FINALLY MOTHER (24) ASKED HIM IF FATHER WAS KILLED AND HE SAID YES.  ABOUT THE MIDDLE OF THE AFTERNOON THE DAY BEFORE.

     I SHALL NEVER FORGET THAT NITE AS LONG AS I LIVE.  WIDOW AND ORPHANS AT THAT HOME, ALL HEART-BROKEN.  WHEN SHALL WARS END?  OF WHAT USE ARE THEY?  I HAVE SEEN TWO OR RATHER SEEN THE MEN LEAVING THEIR HOMES FOR TWO WARS AND MANY NEVER RETURNED.

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