Archive for March, 2010

“Aperl Fool!” My What Fun

March 31, 2010


MANDY JANE! where did you git
That awful smut upon your nose?
Jimmy Jones, you’ve tored a hole
In that bran’ new suit o’close!
Ann Eliza, there’s your beau
Comin’ here, I do declare,
An’ he’ll never come agin
If he sees that head o’hair.”

So Jane, with harsh endeavor,
Rubs her spotless nose’s end;
And Jimmy Jones, to see the hole,
Doth twist and turn and bend;
While Ann Eliza flies upstairs
As fast as she can run —
“Aperl fool!” cries little Joe.
My, what fun!

Not a thing in all the house
All day long is fit to eat;
Salt is in the sugar bowl,
Sugar sprinkled on the meat.
“Ma, a han’sum lady’s called,
Wants to speak alone to pa.”
“Pa, the preacher’s in the parlor,
An’ he heard you scoldin’ ma.”

Letters come with nothing in;
Door-bells jingle — no one’s there!
And before you take a seat
You had better test the chair.
Hither, thither, helter-skelter,
Flushed and wrathful, rush and run —
“Aperl fool!” cries little Joe.
My, what fun!

Mrs. George Archibald, in Judge.

The Carroll Herald – Mar 26, 1890

First of April Folly

March 31, 2010


Time Honored Observances of All Fools’ Day.


How Our English, French and German Cousins Celebrate the Day — Washing the White Lions — Barnum’s Famous Hoax, Some Familiar Tricks.

Foolery, sir, doth walk about the orb.
— “Twelfth Night.”

The young American lustily shouts when he has begun the first day of April by playing some joke on Tommy Jones, next door:

April fool! Go to school!
Tell the teacher you’re a fool!

He fondly imagines that he is doing something very original as well as witty. While we will not question the wit of his retort facetious, it may be well enough to inform him that he does not have a monopoly of this kind of humor.

All around the wide world young jokers are having the same sort of fun with their unsuspecting and gullible companions. Little Johnny Bull bellows out his “April fool” in the same familiar phrase, while young Sandy hoots it in Scotch, only he calls it “gouk” instead of “fool.” Little towheaded Fritz runs through the streets of his German village and shouts a guttural rhyme which goes:

Mach d’ Augon zu.

and which means, “April cow, shut your eyes.”

The French boys play jokes too. And when a comrade comes from the harness shop, where he has been sent for “strap oil,” they greet him with cries of “Poisson d’Avril!” which, to give a liberal translation, means that he is a “silly fish,” although literally it means “fish of April.”

Older people of other countries, as well as Americans who are no longer young, take advantage of April fool day to play sill tricks. The Germans go about it in a heavy, clumsy sort of way, but their native characteristics bar out anything which is not conceived in a good humor and which cannot be received in the same way. With phlegmatic earnestness they send each other on fruitless errands and laugh in a hearty, whole souled way when the victim is told that he has made an “April narr” of himself.

The French are apt to make their jokes in a hysterical, impulsive mood, but they are probably more given to this sort of diversion than any other nation on earth. All through France the first day of the vernal month will be marked this year, as it always is, by an outbreak of madcap pranks in which old and young will take part. So common has the custom been for centuries that an important event in French history hinges on an April fool joke which turned out to be no joke at all. Francis, duke of Lorraine, and his wife were captives at Nantes, but escaped from their prison on April 1 and, disguised as peasants, started boldly to pass the sentries. They were recognized, however, by a passerby, who ran ahead and informed the guards. The latter airily shouted back “Poisson d’Avril!” And so the supposed peasants were allowed to pass.

Fontainebleau (Image from Wikipedia

Another historical April fool day joke was that which Napoleon played on two gentlemen of his privy council, M. Regnault and M. Nisas. On April 1, 1809, these two high dignitaries were ordered to come at once to Fontainebleau, where the emperor was then staying. The distance was far, and the two gentlemen had to hire extra post horses. When they arrived, after driving fast for many leagues, they were told that the emperor was out riding. He came in after an hour or so and appeared to be greatly puzzled to see them before him.

“Did you not send for us, sire?” they said.

“No,” said the emperor, “but I remember now that this is the 1st of April. Some one may have taken the liberty of fooling you.”

M. Regnault was highly indignant and said so, but his companion took the joke good humoredly and diplomatically replied, “Perhaps so, but I am thankful to him anyway, for he gave me an audience with your majesty which I should otherwise have missed.”

Napoleon, who was very susceptible to flattery, rewarded M. Nisas with promotion, while his companion was curtly dismissed.

The adult Briton rarely unbends to such foolery, but when he does he goes into it seriously. Even to this day Englishmen remember the joke which was played in 1800 by a set of jesters in London who put their heads together and perpetrated a successful and notorious joke on a large number of people. Toward the latter part of March in that year many well known people and some who would like to have been considered such received cards of invitation bearing an official stamp in one corner and reading as follows:

Tower of London (Image from

“Tower of London. Admit bearer and friend to view annual ceremony of washing the white lions on Sunday, April 1. Admittance only at the White gate. It is particularly requested that no gratuities be given the wardens or attendants.”

There was a great crowd of cabs and pedestrians around the tower on the morning indicated, but they clamored in vain for admission until some one raised the cry of “April fool,” and then those who had thought themselves recipients of an unusual favor sneaked quietly home. The phrase “Send him to see the white lions washed” was for a long time a very popular one, and possibly is used even now.

Americans are notorious the world over for their joking propensities, but we are liable to break loose at any time and do not confine our foolery to the 1st of April. P.T. Barnum, that fun loving father of the “monster show,” perpetrated what is probably the most famous April fool day joke on record. It was perhaps a score of years ago that he advertised a new attraction for April 1.

“The most wonderful beast ever exhibited to human eyes! Puzzles the scientists! Amazes the multitude! A horse with his tail where his head ought to be!” read the flaming posters. And when the wondering crowds had passed under the canvas they saw a horse standing between the shafts of a cart with his head toward the whiffletree.

But it remained for the American small boy to illuminate All Fools’ day. Down through the centuries it had come to him with nothing but legends of a few stale pranks that were not very witty when they were new. He was not long in discovering greater possibilities in the day than the ancients or foreign folk had ever dreamed of. Putting his inventive mind to work and calling on his fertile resources, he evolved a series of April Fool day jokes which will live for centuries, but which will delight each succeeding generation.

To the American small boy we owe the brick under the hat joke, that time honored institution which lives in the memory of battered toes and aching ankles. The hot silver dollar, the coin nailed to the sidewalk, the stuffed pocketbook, apparently bursting with greenbacks, but really filled with nothing more valuable than green paper; the carefully wrapped paper parcel containing a choice collection of old rags — these are some of his humorous inventions which are not only mirth provoking to the spectators year in and year out, but are capable of many variations. For instance, the pocketbook may contain a genuine bank note, a corner of which can be artfully displayed, but a string removes it from the reach of the covetous victim just as he is about to grab it. The silver dollar may be heated so hot that it will burn the fingers of the man who attempts to pick it up, and the American boy, who is a little savage at heart, will howl with glee.

It was the American boy who conceived the idea of pinning to the backs of staid old gentlemen placards reading “Please Kick Me,” “I Am an April Fool,” etc. He invented the chocolate cream bonbon stuffed with cotton and cayenne pepper, the cigar which explodes and endangers the eyesight of the smoker and other kindred agents of expressing his innocent joy. It was a grown up American boy, too, who invented the April fool wineglass, which is apparently full of wine, but which is a delusion and a snare. This year there is a brand new article of this kind on the market. It is an excellent imitation of a plate of fried eggs, but the eggs are made of porcelain and glass, so be careful when you sit down to your morning meal on the 1st of April next, for the practical joker of the family may have made an investment.

There have been many fruitless speculations as to the origin of All Fool’s day and its customs. It has been traced back as far as the ancient Hindoos, but its lineage is doubtful and the quaint rhymed from Poor Robin’s Almanack best expresses the result, or lack of it, of all investigations on this subject:

The first of April, some do say,
Is set apart for All Fools’ day,
But why the people call it so
Nor I nor they themselves do know.


The Lewiston Daily Sun – Mar 19, 1897

Sally’s Sallies

March 31, 2010






Become the ‘Life Guards’ of Your Country!

March 30, 2010


“Harrison is a Federalist.” — Just what might be expected of the disciple of Jefferson.

“Harrison is a Coward and a Granny.” — What else could we expect the favorite pupil of that old Coward and Granny, Wayne, to be.

“Harrison was beaten at Tippecanoe.” — Yes, and the Indians ran away and killed themselves in a frolic.

“Harrison was not at the Battle of the Thames.” — Just so, and Proctor surrendered to a ghost.

“Harrison lives in a log cabin, and should be called the Log-Cabin Candidate.” — Fool that he was, not to take, when he had the opportunity, enough of the people’s money to build a fine house, and live RESPECTABLY in his old age. No Tory would have been so silly.

“Harrison, while he lived in Cincinnati, begat three Indian children at Prairie du Chien.” — Rather an unusual feat for a Granny. He must have gone as far and as often “a courtin” as the Ohio Fund Commissioners went “to raise the wind;” and he must have been more successful.

“Who ever heard of Harrison? Who is he?”

Of him, Col. Johnson, (Vice President) thus spoke in the House of Representatives whilst a member of that body:

“Of the career of Gen. Harrison I need not speak — the history of the West is his history. For forty years he has been identified with its interests, its perils, and its hopes.

Universally beloved in the walks of peace, and distinguished by his ability in the councils of his country, he has been yet more illustriously distinguished in the field. During the late war, he was longer in actual service than any other General Officer; he was, perhaps, oftener in action than any one of them, and never sustained a defeat.

But the Whigs must not quote him any more, for the Tories mean to cast him off. — His name is disagreeable to the British, with whom the Tories are in great feathers.

“Harrison abused Maj. Croghan.” It is true that Croghan said he did not; but then Croghan was a coward, and dared not resent ill-treatment from his superior officer.

We have not room for any more of these pretty things this week; but we intend to keep our readers informed of all the slanders that the malignity of the Tories prompt them to publish against the Father of the West.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Feb 4, 1840

An Eloquent Record.

WILLIAM H. HARRISON was born in Virginia on the 9th February, 1773.

In 1791, when 19 years of age, he was appointed by Washington an Ensign in our infant army.

In 1792, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant; and in 1793, joined the legion under Gen. Wayne; and in a few days thereafter, was selected by him as one of his aids.

On the 24th of August, 1794, he distinguished himself in the battle of the Miami, and elicited the most flattering written approbation of Gen. Wayne.

In 1795, he was made a Captain, and placed in the command of Fort Washington.

In 1797, he was appointed by President Adams, Secretary of the North Western Territory and ex officio Lt. Governor.

In 1798, he was chosen a delegate to Congress.

In 1801, he was appointed Governor of Indiana, and in the same year, President Jefferson appointed him sole commissioner for treating with the Indians.

In 1809, he was re-appointed Governor of Indiana by Madison.

On the 7th Nov. 1811, he gained the great victory of TIPPECANOE.

On the 11th September, 1812, he was appointed by Madison Commander-in-chief of the North Western Army.

On the 1st May, 1812, the siege of Fort Meigs commenced; lasted five days, and was terminated by the brilliant and successful sortie of Gen. Harrison.

On the 31st July, 1812, the battle of Fort Stephenson occurred.

On the 5th October, 1813, he gained the splendid victory of the THAMES, over the British and Indians under Proctor.

In 1814, he was appointed by Madison one of the Commissioners to treat with the Indians, and in the same year, with his colleagues, Gov. Shelby and General Cass, concluded the celebrated treaty of Greenville.

In 1815, he was again appointed such Commissioner, with Gen. M’Arthur and Mr. Graham, and negotiated a treaty at Detroit.

In 1816, he was elected a member of Congress.

In January, 1818, he introduced a resolution in honor of Kosciusko, and supported it in one of the most feeling, classical, and eloquent speeches ever delivered in the House of Representatives.

In 1819, he was elected Senator in Congress, and was appointed, in 1825, Chairman of the Military Committee in place of Gen. Jackson who had resigned.

In 1827, he was appointed Minister to Columbia, and in 1829, wrote his immortal letter to Bolivar, the deliverer of South America.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Feb 4, 1840

Another Tory Compliment to General HARRISON.

“Harrison, while a member of the Senate of Ohio, voted to sell poor white men into slavery.” — that is, he voted to have men who were convicted of small crimes, and of whom the costs of conviction could not otherwise be collected, compelled to WORK them out. — What a monster! If such were the law, the sufferings of jail-birds would be intolerable. Instead of spending a few weeks in jail, with a plenty to eat and nothing to do, they would have to work to pay the expense of their punishment. Why! thieves and leg-treasurers should all rise as one man and oppose Harrison for that vote!

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Feb 11, 1840

Valley Forge (Image from


The Newburgh Gazette brings us the following eloquent letter from the last of the “Life Guards of Gen. Washington.” Let the freemen of America heed the honest warning of this venerable patriot. Let all who are able to enlist for the war adopt the advice of this aged veteran, and enroll themselves as the Life guards of the country. —Alb. Adv.

To the Descendants of Revolutionary Soldiers:

An old soldier of the Continental Army asks for the last time to speak to his countrymen. During the suffering services of the Revolution I was in sixteen engagements, and was one of the little band who volunteered under Sullivan to destroy the “Six Nations of Indians.” I was one of that small company selected as the Life Guard of Gen. Washington — but two of us are now living. I was at the tough siege of Yorktown, at Valley Forge, Monmouth, and in thirteen other hard battles, and saw Cornwallis surrender to our old General. My service ceased only with the war.

After all this hardship and suffering, in the street when I go out in my old age to see the happiness I have helped to give you, I am pointed at as a British Tory — yes, a British Tory — I have said nothing when I have been told so, but have silently thought that my old General would never have picked out a Tory to form one of his Life Guard, nor would a Tory have suffered what I suffered for you. This abuse has been shamefully heaped upon one of your old soldiers because he is what he was when the war broke out, and what Washington told us we must always be when he shook HANDS with us as we all were going home.

I was a Whig in the Revolution, and have been one ever since, and am one now. As a Whig I enlisted for the whole WAR was in favor with the other whigs of Thomas Jefferson, went with the party for James Madison, was in favor of the last war, and to be consistent in my last vote, must give it for Gen. Harrison. He is a brave man, and was never known wherever he has been to take a penny from his neghbor or the Government, that was not fairly his own. — We have trod over the same ground fighting for liberty. His father, 9he was one of us in the Revolution) signed our Independence roll, and then we all went out together to fight for it, and we proved it was true.

It really appears to me that this cannot be the same government that our old soldiers helped Washington to put up here. We fought to have a government as different from any in Europe as we could make it. — Well, we done it, and until lately things have gone on smoothly and Europe was beginning to get ashamed of the way she made slaves of her subjects by making them work and toil for seven poor cents a day with a Standing Army over them to force them to it. But our President now tells the people that things have gone wrong since the Old War and that there are twenty-two miserable Governments in Europe where the Kings wear crowns, the rich people wear silks, and the poor people rags, that we must fashion after them if we want to be happy and prosperous! —

We had English laws here once and they were the best in Europe, but we could’nt stand them and we put them under our feet. We used to work for mere nothing then, and we cannot do it again. Working for a few cents a day may do for slaves, but not for freemen whose liberty cost more blood, than liberty ever cost before, why, the very first thing that started the old war, was the Standing Army, that the King kept quartered upon us, we told him that we wanted no soldiers over us in time of peace, but he refused to mind us, and I saw Lord Cornwallis surrender up a part of them to honest George Washington. Our President now proposes to have a standing force — what for? — Beware.

Thom’s Jefferson never asked for armed men to re-elect him, or elevate his successor. James Madison asked for them only, in the time of the late war, and warned the people when he left his office, to be careful about keeping soldiers in time of peace.

Our streets are filled with idle men who were active laborers once, when employment was to be had. The men of enterprise who once employed them have been ruined by government. And now these honest, but unemployed laborers are told by the government, that when they go to work again, they must do it for a few cents a day — that labor must be as cheap here, as it is among the slaves of Cuba, or the slaves of Europe. Ambition and ignorance on the part of our Government have shut up our shops and stores, scuttled our ships, filled our streets with idleness and bankruptcy, and given no encouragement to the farmer as he looks at his grain. Are not these things so?

You know they are, and I have no motive in saying what may be false — I am too far advanced for office, or any thing else but death — it will soon be here. — My little pension, and I thank you for it, will soon stop, and I go home with the rest of the Life Guards. —

There is but one remedy only for the safety of the country I have saved. Put other men to stand at the tiller, and round the cables, and you will soon be back on the old Constitutional track. Gen. Harrison is honest, he never deceived you, and he never lost a battle, and the People wont let him lose this. Accept my advice, and you all have my blessing — my advice is, that all of you become the Life Guards of your country, and my blessing is that your old age may have less fears for liberty than mine.

One of the two surviving Life Guards of George Washington.

NEWBURGH, N.Y. Aug. 28, 1840.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Oct 6, 1840

Nathan Hale

From the Newburgh New York Telegraph.
Gratitude, Gallantry and Feeling.

To record the incidents connected with the “old soldiers” of Washington — those few falling leaves of the tree of the revolution — is ever pleasing. But few of them remain. In a few brief years, the “last soldier of the revolution” will have died.

The following little incident, interesting and touching in its way, occurred here last week during the visit of that highly disciplined and soldier-like corps, the National Greys, of New York city.

One of their numerous marches, in the neighbourhood of our village, to receive the well-deserved hospitality of our citizens, was to Ettrick Grove, the beautiful seat of Mr. Hale, a mile below the village, taking in their way “Washington’s Head Quarters,” to which the company wished to pay a last visit before departure. The entire march was over consecrated ground. — Washington himself had known and traversed every foot of it — in the neighbourhood was the ground where the army was stationed, and in the ravine below, was the revolutionary cannon foundry, traces of which are still visible.

These were all pointed out, as also the remaining portion of the house (now Mr. Hale‘s kitchen) to which Washington was invited to an entertainment, in order to his betrayal by a band of conspirators against his life and his country’s hopes. These several reminiscences had each its interest; but the crowning incident of the march, and the one likely to live long in recollection was this:

On the outward march of the company, at a little distance in advance in the porch of a cottage, was observed the bowed and bleached head and wasted form of one of those immortals on earth, who shared the toils of war with Washington — it was BENJAMIN EATON, the last but one (Robert Blair, also of this village,) of Washington’s Life Guard.

The fact being announced to the officers of the corps, they eagerly advanced, in person, while the company uncovered, and thus all testified, in passing, their respect for the noble old Roman. On their return, the old soldier was escorted out, supported on either side by the Captain and Lieutenant, and the corps passed in review before him, uncovered, and with as profound respect and nice observance of military order as the old soldier in other days would have passed in review before his venerated Washington.

He was then escorted to the front and introduced personally to each member of the corps — and as each seized him by the hand and uttered the heart-felt “God bless you, General,” the gathering tear in the eye of each young soldier told the glow of gratitude and patriotism enkindled in his bosom. It was a moment and a scene to excite deep feeling. The eye of the veteran, dimmed by age, brightened again with pride and joy. The scenes and the forms of other days seemed reanimated and again brought to his view. But it was a transient vision, and came but for a moment to gladden the veteran’s heart.

Recollection but too soon recalled the realities of the present; and he was heard to murmur, “Alas! I have lived to be useless to myself and to the world!”

He told them, however, as a parting advice of an old soldier, to “remember their Great Commander.” He said he had been present in sixteen battles of the Revolution, and amid the dangers of them all had sought aid from above in prayer for himself, his country and his companions; and was himself a living witness, with the frosts of eighty-two winters upon his head, that these prayers were not in vain.

Benjamin Eaton has seen much service, and his country owes him much. He was in the battles and shared the dangers of Lexington, Monmouth, Flatbush, Brandywine, Harlaem Heights, &c., and served under the gallant Sullivan, in 1779, in his expedition against the “Six Nations” of Indians. Poor in every thing but spirit and merit, he has lived for years upon that evidence of coldest ingratitude — a pension of ninety-six dollars!!

Title    Hazard’s United States Commercial and Statistical Register, Volume 1
Editor    Samuel Hazard
Publisher s.n., 1840
pg 256

Benjamin Eaton - Rural Valley Cemetery

October 16, 1842.
Benjamin Eaton, said to have been the last survivor of Washington’s Life Guard, died at Cuddeback, Orange Co., N. Y., aged 85.
He joined in the pursuit at Lexington, and served till 1779, with an absence of only 20 days.

From: The New York genealogical and biographical record (Volume 102)
. (page 7 of 52)

Google Books LINK – You can read this book online.

The Finger Bone of a Lincoln Man

March 29, 2010

Bone Brooch


“Silent the lady sat alone:
In her ears were rings of dead men’s bones;
The brooch on her breast shone white and fine,
‘Twas the polished joint of a Yankee’s spine;
And the well-carved handle of her fan
Was the finger-bone of a Lincoln man.
She turned aside a flower to cull,
From a vase which was made of a human skull;
For, to make her forget the loss of her slaves
Her lovers had rifled dead men’s graves.
Do you think I’m describing a witch or ghoul?
There are no such things — and I’m not a fool;
Nor did she reside in Ashantee;
No — the lady fair was an F.F.V.

The Golden Era (San Francisco, California) – Aug 24, 1862

From: Vera’s Victorian Variety

(The above image and other examples can also be found at the linked website.)

Museum collections often include some of these pieces, including those carved by Civil War prisoners. Bone carvings were traded to guards in exchange for extra food or privileges.

The Streets of Des Moines and a Moment in Time

March 28, 2010

Des Moines, Iowa - 1885 (Image from

The Des Moines Leader says: “The streets of Des Moines are like the road to hell — paved with good intentions.”

Lyons Weekly Mirror – (Lyons, Iowa) Mar 24, 1877


Eight years later, when the above picture was taken, the “good intentions” still seem to be there, ha ha!

A MAN at Des Moines, Iowa, is preparing a box to contain full information concerning the past history and present condition of that city, which will be hermetically sealed and addressed to the Mayor of Des Moines, 1976. Precaution will be taken to preserve it carefully, and insure its delivery.

Crawfordsville Star – (Crawfordsville, Indiana) Feb 8, 1876


Did he mention the streets paved with good intentions?

I wonder if the Mayor opened the time capsule in 1976?

I did find a 1978 article about a book put together by a teacher and students in 1876, but it’s not clear to me  if  it was part of the time capsule mentioned above:

The Free Lance-Star – (Fredericksburg, VA) Feb 23, 1978

You can read the rest of the article at this google news LINK

Duoliteral and Facetious: What Do These Words Have in Common?

March 27, 2010

All the Vowel In One Word.

There are but six words in the English language which contain all the vowels in regular order — viz, abstemious, arsenious, anenious*, facetious, materious and tragedious. There is but one word which contains them in regular reverse order and that word is duoliteral.

Besides the above there are 149 English words which contain all the vowels in irregular order. Twelve of these begin with the letter a; 7 with b, 23 with c, 16 with d, 14 with e, 4 with f, 7 with g, 1 with h, 6 with i, 2 with j, 2 with m, 2 with n, 2 with o, 13 with p, 1 with q, 5 with r, 9 with s, 2 with t, 15 with u and 6 with v.

— St. Louis Republic

Kentucky New Era – Apr 3, 1896

*No online definition, however, Essentials of Materia Medica and Prescription Writing (1892) has a reference that indicates it is a type of acid.

Taking the Census: “Answer a Fool According to His Folly”

March 26, 2010

We always take pleasure in copying the witty effusions of the Editor of the N.Y. Constellation — there is so much real Yankee in his writings. Ed.

From the New York Constellation.


SCENE — A House in the Country.

Inquisitor. Good mornings Madam. Is the head of the family at home?

Mrs. Touchwood. Yes, sir, I’m at home.

Inq. Hav’nt you a husband?

Mrs. T. Yes, sir, but he ant at the head of the family, I’d have you to know.

Inq. How many persons have you in your family?

Mrs. T. Why, bless me, sir, what’s that to you? You’re mighty inquisitive, I think.

Inq. I’m the man that takes the census.

Mrs. T. If you was a man in your senses, you would’nt ax such impertinent questions.

Inq. Don’t be affronted, old lady, but answer my questions as I ask them.

Mrs. T. “Answer a fool according to his folly” — you know what the scripture says. Old lady, indeed!

Inq. I beg pardon, Madam; but I don’t care about hearing Scripture just at this moment, I’m bound to go according to law and not according to gospel.

Mrs. T. I should think you wert neither according to law, nor gospel. What is it to you to inquire folkes affairs Mr. Thingambob?

Inq. The law makes it my business good woman, and if you don’t want to expose yourself to its penalties, you must answer my questions.

Mrs. T. Oh it’s the law is it? — That alters the case. But I should like to know what business the law has with people’s household matters.

Inq. Why Congress made the law, and if it dos’nt please you, you must talk to them.

Mrs. T. Talk to a fiddle stick! — Why, Congress is a fool, and you’re another.

Inq. Now, good lady, you’re a find looking woman, and if you’ll give me a few civil answers I’ll thank you. What I wish to know first is, how many persons there are in your family.

Mrs. T. Let me see, [Counting on her fingers] there’s I and my husband is one —

Inq. Are you always one?

Mrs. T. What’s that to you I should like to know. But I tell you if you don’t leave off interrupting me I wont say another word.

Inq. Well, take your own way, and be hanged to you.

Mrs. T. I will take my own way and no thanks to you. [Again counting on her fingers.] There’s I and my husband is one; there’s John, he’s two; Peter is three, Sue and Moll are four, and Thomas is five. And then there’s Mr. Jenkins and his wife and the two children is six; and there’s Jowler he’s seven.

Inq. Jowler! Who’s he?

Mrs. T. Who’s Jowler! Why who should he be but the old house dog?

Inq. It’s the number of persons I want to know.

Mrs. T. Very well, Mr. Flippergin, ant Jowler a person? Come here Jowler, and speak for yourself. I’m sure he’s as personal a dog as there is in the whole state.

Inq. He’s a very clever dog, no doubt. But it’s the number of human beings I want to know.

Mrs. T. Human! There ant a more human dog that ever breathed.

Inq. Well, but I mean the two-legged kind of beings.

Mrs. T. O, the two-legged is it? Well then, there’s the old rooster, he’s seven; the fighting cock is eight, and the bantam is nine —

Inq. Stop, stop, good woman, I beg of you. I don’t want to know the number of your fowls.

Mrs. T. I’m very sorry indeed I can’t please you, such a weet gentleman as you are. But didn’t you tell me ’twas the two-legged beings?

Inq. True, but I didn’t mean the hens.

Mrs. T. O, now I understand you. The old gobbler, he’s seven, the hen turkey is eight — and if you’ll wait a week there’ll be a parcel of young ones, for the old hen turkey is setting on a whole snarl of eggs.

Inq. D___n your turkies!

Mrs. T. O don’t now, good Mr. Hippersticher — I pray you don’t. — They’re as honest turkies as any in the country.

Inq. Don’t vex me any more. — I’m getting to be angry.

Mrs. T. Ha, ha, ha!

Inq. [Striding about the room in a rage.] Have a care, madam, or I shall fly out of my skin.

Mrs. T. If you do I don’t know who’ll fly in.

Inq. You do all you can to anger me. It’s the two-legged creatures who talk, that I have reference to.

Mrs. T. O, now I understand you. Well then, our Poll Parrot makes seven and the black girl eight.

Inq. I see you will have your own way.

Mrs. T. You have just found it out, have you? You’re a smart little man!

Inq. Have you mentioned the whole of your family?

Mrs. T Yes, sir that’s the whole — except the wooden-headed man in the other room.

Inq. Wooden-headed!

Mrs. T. Yes; the school-master, that’s boarding here.

Inq. I suppose if he has a wooden head, he lives without eating, and therefore must be a profitable boarder.

Mrs. T. O no, sir, you’re mistaken there. He eats like a leather judgment.

Inq. How many slaves are there belonging to the family?

Mrs. T. Slaves? Why there are no slaves but I and my husband.

Inq. What makes you and your husband slaves?

Mrs. T. I’m a slave to hard work and he’s a slave to rum. He does nothing all day but guzzle, guzzle, guzzle; while I’m working, tewing and sweating from morning till night, and from night till morning.

Inq. How many free colored persons have you?

Mrs. T. There’s nobody but Diana the black girl, Poll Parrot and my daughter Sue.

Inq. Is your daughter a colored girl?

Mrs. T. I guess you’d think so if you was to see her. She’s always out in the sun — and she’s tanned up as black as an Indian.

Inq. How many white males are there in your family under ten years of age?

Mrs. T. Why there ant none now — my husband don’t carry the mail since he’s taken to drink so bad. He used to carry two but they wasn’t white.

Inq. You mistake, good woman; I meant folks not leather mails.

Mrs. T.]Why, Let me see; there’s none except little Thomas, and Mr. Jenkins’ two little girls.

Inq. Males, I said, madam, not females.

Mrs. T. Well, If you don’t like the fe, you may leave it off.

Inq. How many white males are there between ten and twenty?

Mrs. T. Why there’s nobody but John and Peter; and John run away last week.

Inq. How many white males are there between twenty and thirty?

Mrs. T. Let me see — There’s the wooden-headed man is one, Mr. Jenkins and his wife is two, and the black girl is three.

Inq. No more of your nonsense, old lady; I’m heartily tired of it.

Mrs. T. Hoity toity! hav’nt I a right to talk as I please in my own house?

Inq. You must answer the questions as I put them.

Mrs. T. “Answer a fool according to his folly” — you’re right, Mister Hippogriti.

Inq. How many white males are there between thirty and forty?

Mrs. T. Why, there’s nobody but I and my husband — and he was forty last March.

Inq. As you count yourself among the males, I dare say you wear the breeches.

Mrs. T. Well, what if I do, Mr. Impertinence? is that any thing to you? mind your own business, if you please.

Inq. Certainly — I did but speak — How many white males are there between forty and fifty?

Mrs. T. None.

Inq. How many between fifty and sixty?

Mrs. T. None.

Inq. Are there any between this and a hundred!

Mrs. T. None except the old Gentleman.

Inq. What old gentleman? You hav’nt mentioned any before.

Mrs. T. Why, gramther Grayling — I thought every body knew gramther Grayling — he’s a hundred and two years old, come August, if he lives so long — and I dare say he will, for he’s got the dry wilt, and they say such folks never die.

The census man having inquired the number of females of the different ages, and received the like satisfactory answers, next proceeded to inquire the number of deaf and dumb persons.

Mrs. T. Why, there’s no deaf persons, excepting husband, and he ant so so deaf as he pretends to be. When any body asks him to take a drink of rum, it it’s only in a whisper he can hear quick enough. But if I tell him to fetch an armful of wood, or feed the pigs, or tent the griddle, he’s as deaf as a blockhorse.

Inq. How many dumb persons?

Mrs. T. Dumb! Why, there’s no dumb body in the house, except the wooden-headed man, and he never spoke unless he’s spoken to. — To be sure my husband wishes I was dumb, but he cant make it out.

Inq. Are there any manufactures carried on here?

Mrs. T. None to speak on; except turnip-sausages and tow cloth.

Inq. Turnip-sausages?

Mrs. T. Why yes, turnip sausages. Is there any thing so wonderful in that?

Inq. I never heard of them before. What kind of machinery is used in making them?

Mrs. T. Now you’re terribly inquisitive. What would you give to know?

Inq. Why I’ll give you the name of being the most communicative and pleasant woman I’ve met with the the last half hour.

Mrs. T. Well now you’re so sweet a gentleman, and I must gratify you. You must know we mix with the turnips a little red cloth, so that they needn’t look as if they was made of clear fat meat; then we chop them up well together, put in a little sage, summer savory, and black pepper; and then fill them into sheep’s inwards; and they make as pretty little delicate links as ever was set on a gentleman’s table, they fetch the highest price in the market.

Inq. Indeed!

Mrs. T. Yes, sir. Have you any thing more to ax?

Inq. Nothing more. Good morning madam.

Mrs. T. Stop a moment — can’t you think of something else? Do now, that’s a good man. Wouldn’t you like to know what we’re a going to have for dinner; or how many chickens our old hen hatched at the last brood; or how many —

Inq. Nothing more — nothing more.

Mrs. T. Here, just look in the cup-board, and see how many read ants there are in the sugar-bowl, I hav’nt time to count them myself.

Inq. Curse on your ants and all your relations! [Exit in a huff.]

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jul 13, 1830

Other Census posts:

Look Out for the Census Man

Census Poetry

Curious Names

Show a Little of the Spirit of John Hancock in ’76

March 25, 2010

"Whatsoever Things Are True - Whatsoever Things Are Honest - Whatsoever Things Are Just - Whatsoever Things Are Pure - Whatsoever Things Are Of Good Report." -- St. Paul.

The Ohio State Journal talks somewhat like giving up. Not so fast, Mr. Journal. —

What, give up the principles of the Whig cause? Abandon all the country, and all the dearest hopes we have cherished of the purity, excellence and glory of our noble institutions, to the dishonest and corrupt faction who have gained a temporary ascendancy?

Did our father ever despair? Can you read in all their toils, their sufferings, their dark and most cheerless hours, one single design to abandon their struggle?

Did Washington, with the feeble and suffering army of a few poor, ragged and bleeding soldiers, give up his hopes and prospects, even while Burgoyne with his proud, disciplined, and victorious army of mercenary troops was sweeping like a torrent everything before him?

In the darkest page of the American Revolution, there was no faltering. Our fathers knew that the Whig cause would triumph in spite of power, — and just so certain as the revolution happily succeeded, shall the Whig cause now succeed. —

Toryism, corruption, power, patronage, wealth, cannot all crush the principles of the Whigs. They are founded on the rock of eternal truth, and will triumph.

What, man — never despair. We shall be conquerors yet.

In Old Huron, local matters, falsehood, defamation, and inactivity of the Whigs, have all conspired to their temporary defeat. But they have the strength of the people, and depend upon it, they will not suffer that strength to lie idle another year.

We have a glorious cause, and though our band is diminishing, let us join together — die it may be, but never surrender.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Oct 15, 1839

Image from: Winter Soldiers – Arming Americans With Knowledge (great website)

From the New York Whig.

Wholesome Thoughts.

We have heard a variety of reasons offered for the falling off of the Whig strength in Vermont. One says it is because CLAY is unpopular. Another says it is because SCOTT is talked of, instead of CLAY. A third takes snuff at both reasons, and insists that it is because the friends of the other candidates are trying to choke off the gallant HARRISON. Now what does this amount to? Why, the friend of Van Buren stands by, listening to all this folly, and says, gentlemen, you are all right — it is because your candidates are all unpopular.

Such is the inevitable consequence of all this talking about a preference of candidates. The enemy overhears our discussions about a chief. He puffs and blows over the embers of our disunion. If he can kindle a spark that burns for CLAY, or HARRISON, or SCOTT — he counts upon our overthrow. And when we talk of this man, or that man, he laughs in his sleeve to see a party so sound in its elements, and really so strong, so easily blown about by dissensions as to candidates. From the very first, Van Buren has built his hopes of success upon our want of union. — He knows very well how certain would have been his defeat in 1836, had the opposition been united against him. He fears our union now, more than any thing else.

The beast and only reason we think worth naming, for our loss in Vermont, is want of votes. It is said there were some thousands who staid at home. They are not true Whigs, then, and are just such troops as would run the wrong way at the opening of the battle. Count not upon such men. He is no true Whig who is absent from the polls, in the present posture of our national affairs. Voting is the only remedy we have to put down the corrupt oligarchy at Washington — and if the Whigs are remiss in their duty, there is little room for apology — and no possible hope of success.

We ought to regard every Whig, who for any reason short of absence from the State, or actual inability keeps away from the polls, as guilty of an offense against the community. There can be no excuse for such men — and they should be dealt plainly with. Let the press speak out. Let the Whigs, old and young, in every part of the country, who have to bear the brunt of the battle in every contest speak out — and tell these lazy drones to be up and doing. Tell them to work — to put their brawny shoulders to the wheel — and all will be well.

The great trouble with the Whig party, in all our election contests — and sorry we are to say it — is that there are too many who like to sit in their arm chairs, and look out of their windows abroad upon the labors of others. These men are unusually liberal — they mean well — they talk as if the world was as easily moulded as a new made cheese — and they never can blame themselves when the issue is unfavorable, for they said so and so, and if they had been listened to, why the result might have been different. The fact is, THESE MEN MUST WORK, if they would save the country. They must go into the field — they must address themselves to the people, and share with them the heat and burden of the struggle. The moment this is generally done, that moment is the victory won.

Some may think this is plain talk. It is so — and a little more plain talk may yet be necessary. We intend to speak plain. We can tell the Whigs that there is no danger — not from the enemy, so much as from their own indifference and want of zealous co-operation throughout the country. We certainly can conquer, if we will. But newspaper rallying won’t do the work — caucusses of a few hard laboring, earnest politicians, here and there, in this and that county, or city, or ward, will never accomplish the victory. No — we want all to work — we want the merchant from the counting-house, the lawyer from his books, the banker from his desk, and the rich man from his couch — to step forth into the field, and work as others work in the struggle, in the issue of which THEY have infinitely more at stake than we have.

We want them to show a little of the spirit of John Hancock, in ’76.

He was liberal; he gave of his princely revenues to the good cause — but he did more, he gave his EXAMPLE, his personal exertions through the whole of the struggle, among his fellow citizens in the strife for victory.

This is what we want, more than money.

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Oct 15, 1839

The Close of a Dreary Day

March 25, 2010

The following anecdote was related to a writer in the Jerseyman, in a farm house in Virginia, during a night spent there some six years ago;

‘In December, 17_ _, towards the close of a dreary day, a woman with an infant child was discovered half buried in the snow, by a little Virginian, seven years old. The lad was returning from school, and hearing the moans of some one in distress, threw down his satchel of books, and repaired to the spot from whence the sound proceeded, with a firmness becoming one of riper years.

Raking the snow from the benumbed body of the mother, and using means to awaken her to a sense of her deplorable condition, the noble youth succeeded in getting her upon her feet; the infant nestling on its mother’s breast, turned its eyes towards their youthful preserver and smiled. as it seemed in gratitude for its preservation. With a countenance filled with hope, the gallant youth cheered the sufferer on, himself bearing within his tiny arms the infirm child, while the mother leaned for support on the shoulder of her little conductor. ‘My home is hard by,’ would he exclaim, as often as her spirits failed; and thus for three miles did he cheer onward to a happy haven the mother and child, both of whom otherwise must have perished had it not been for the humane feelings and perseverance of this noble youth.

A warm fire and kind attention soon relieved the sufferer, who, it appeared, was in search of her husband, an emigrant from New Hampshire, a recent purchaser of a farm in the neighborhood of ____, near this place. Diligent inquiry for several days found him, and in five months after, the identical house in which we are now sitting was erected, and received the happy family.

Major General Scott (Image from

The child grew up to manhood, entered the army, lost a limb at New Orleans, but returned to end his days, a solace to the declining years of his aged parents.’

‘Here,’ exclaimed the son, ‘I am the rescued one; there is my mother; and here, imprinted on my naked arm, is the name of the noble youth, our preserver!’

I looked, and read “WINFIELD SCOTT.’

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jan 14, 1840