Did you ever want to step into a time machine and see how people lived in the past? Then come aboard! In this unusual document you are going to be given a tour of Hickman Family history unlike any other I know of. You will also see how small, seemingly insignificant decisions made by parents create whole new worlds for their children and their children's children. Read this carefully--the bigger story is the one written between the lines:
Grandmother's Story of the Revolution
Mary Thayer Bundy
The click, click of the hoe on the gravel soil of the garden stopped as a neighbor called over the fence, "Have you had any green peas yet?" "Yes," Father replied, "No medicine like fresh vegetables from the soil, no exercise like hoeing in the garden!"
Other conversation went on which I did not understand--and then again the click, click of the hoe as the neighbor left. It stopped suddenly, however, as a stranger came up and asked, "Is this Dr. Thayer?" "Yes," again answered by my father. And slow conversation ensued which I did not understand. They spoke in serious tones and father had a little troubled frown upon his brow.
At length I heard him say, "I will be ready in a few minutes," and he turned toward the house.
"Somebody awful sick?" I asked in a childish voice, wondering what illness could drain the color from his face and cause him to look so serious. I realized that he was taking this case more serious than most of his cases, and he had many, for father was a doctor and subject to sudden desperate calls.
"Yes, the whole country is sick, child." He took me in his arms and walked to the house. "I must leave for a long time, my baby. Be good to your mother and do all you can to help her."
"I can do lots," I answered enthusiastically as I recalled the pan of chips I had just fathered.
"Brave little Mary," he said as he put me down on the back step. There were a few words to mother--a horse was saddled--a bundle packed and he was away with it tied behind his saddle, his farewell kiss had been tempered with the words, "Remember our motto is Liberty or Death!" "Liberty or death," repeated my mother as she sank down upon the step and took me in her arms to shower me with tears. "What hurt you mother?" I asked.
"Your father may never come back," then seeming to remember me for the first time she straightened up as she added, "But we must be brave." The neighbor came and went. There was great excitement. All the men but daddy Godfrey left. He came every day to see how we were getting along. He stopped by the door on the first visit after father's departure with his cane in his hand, his gray head nodding as he almost sobbed, "If I were only a little younger. Well--I guess I can at least be home guard," he added a little more cheerfully, "so let me know if you need anything."
It was also daddy Godfrey who helped me to gather scraps of wool from the safe-brush and after the Torries had taken all the sheep he helped to get it for mother to spin--even helped knit it into stockings, which we made for the soldiers while the war lasted.
It was he who came over and chopped wood for us until he was too feeble. After that we would drag in the wood and placing one end on the fire shove it along as it burned off.
Food became very scarce, and as the fighting drew nearer our home we tried to find a hiding place in which to store a few provisions. Often we hid in the woods from the band of Torries who came to pillage our possessions. One night we saw the Red Coats coming and slipped out into the woods where we had a hiding place with some secreted food. We peeped out continuously hoping they would pass on, but they did not. They entered the house, took possession of the barn and everything else they could possibly use, even the hay we had gathered for our old cow "Pink." This meager supply of fodder was fed to their hungry horses. The night was cold but we did not dare make a fire. Mother cuddled me in her arms and I slept until the sun shone the next morning.
"You are cold, Mother, you gave me all the cover," I cried. "Keep quiet," she cautioned me, "They are leaving."
After the sound of the last hoof had died away, mother slipped cautiously out and returned for me presently saying, "They are gone, and taken everything worthwhile with them, even father's best clothes, and left only an officer's old red coat." (There is still a scrap of the old coat in the family, 1933)
The old cow Pink disappeared when they put their horses in the stable. We thought they had taken her, but in a couple of weeks she came back with a new calf. Her milk with the potatoes we have stored away, and the nuts I had gathered in the woods supplied us with food for ourselves and a little for anyone who came hungry to our door. We had to empty our bed ticks to feed old Pink until the grass came again.
Mother was never well again after the night in the woods, I was three years old when the war started, having been born in 1773, but so many responsibilities were placed upon me that it seemed like I was almost grown up when it was over, and I was six. I tried to raise a garden but it did not look like father's. But oh how he praised my efforts when he finally returned to take charge.
I continued to help in the garden even after his return, for he was kept quite busy with his many patients.
Mother only lived two years after his return, then I became housekeeper. It was always necessary to practice economy in order to build up our rundown place, and help build up the new and now glorious country.
When I was ten years old my father bought me a light red riding habit of heavy twilled material. He put my pillow in behind his saddle and I rode behind him to church as proud as a queen.
One day we went out to see Uncle Cornelius White, who was given a grant of land for his services to the nation. At that time most of the land in New York State was covered with timber. It was so dense that it had taken him a whole year to clear one acre. The great trees were cut down and burned--the ashes sold for potash, and used to make soap, etc. Sometimes the roots had to rot before they could be entirely removed.
Uncle Cornelius had succeeded in raising alfalfa, a crop of potatoes after his first years' clearing, and as we rode up the wholesome odor of baking potatoes came to my nostrils. A few minutes after our arrival a surveyor came to survey the land. His three cornered hat sat jauntily on his head, his velvet knickerbockers had silver buckles at the knees, and there were great silver buckles on his shoes. In admiration I stood with mouth and eyes wide open as with a lace handkerchief he stooped to flick the dust from his shoes.
Just then Aunt Nancy stood in the doorway and called, "The meal is ready!" "Will you join us?" asked Uncle Cornelius of the surveyor. "I would be delighted to!" he answered graciously. Very much thrilled I walked along closely behind him. I was almost under his heels as he entered the cottage door, but hastily jumped aside as suddenly he began backing out, saying, "I guess I won't eat!" (having seen the table with nothing but a platter of potatoes.)
I did not understand what was happening until after Uncle Cornelius grabbed him by the shoulders and almost threw him into a seat at the table. "Oh yes, you will eat. You are no better than I am!" And suddenly I was proud of Uncle Cornelius in his leather knickerbockers and cowhide shoes--and never in my life did Aunt Nancy's baked potatoes and fresh milk taste better to me. Even the surveyor ate with relish. The potatoes were eaten with the skins and all as they were by the Indians, who seemed to think the skins were a necessary part. Whole wheat boiled and corn hominy were luxuries during the war. The grist mills were soon running after the war ended. As money was scarce, father had to take what he could for his services. He usually received the produce of the country so we had plenty from the farmers. "The idler shall not eat the bread of the laborer" was lived up to as strictly as the Ten Commandments. Everyone who was able to work was expected to keep busy.
I had learned industry and that it was wicked to waste anything, even time. So I, having some time to spare, decided to make use of it by learning the tailoring trade. I could spend part of my time as an apprentice and still keep up my homework. One day after my day's work when I was just removing the apple dumplings from the fire there was a knock at the door, father answered the knock, and shouted heartily, "We have a guest for supper!" It was a young man by the name of Benggar Bundy, who had fought with father in the war. He seemed so delighted with the dumplings he came often thereafter. It was a long time before I realized that he liked me better than he did the dumplings I made.
He had gone barefooted as a drummer boy during the war, and had decided to learn to make shoes if only for his own use. So he served an apprenticeship soon after the war was over. He came to our town to find a suitable place to start the business, as it was not long before he had several men and boys working for him.
We were married and were very happy for a while, but I was left a widow with two children within five years. The oldest child Benger seemed to be full of adventure and before he was full grown he determined to go to India to seek his fortune. At one time we learned of the fortune he had gained, and of his intention to come home to mother. We never heard of him again. Was he lost at sea? Robbed and killed? Or did he die a natural death? These questions have been continually in my heart.
After Benger left I went to work at my trade to educate my other child, Sally. When she was through school her father's brother invited her to go to Farmersville in Catargus County, New York, for a vacation. Shortly after her arrival there her uncle died and I expected Sally to return promptly, but instead received news of her wedding.
She was married to Moses Wade, who owned a fulling mill at Niagara Falls, and was considered very well off.
After Sally's marriage I felt that I had to keep busy, so when people wanted me to go to their homes to do their tailoring and sewing, I decided to go. It saved cooking as I got my board and since money was scarce I only got twenty-five cents a day. I was able to save almost all of it, however, by living economically during the ten years following.
Then I received word from Sally saying she was sick, and that her husband had been cheated out of his mills. She had four children and I knew that I was needed. I had been saving clothes that had been given me during the years I had been sewing and making them over for the children. I started my journey.
Father Isaac Theyer had already passed on, and I was completely alone, and my going made but little difference to anyone. Father had lived to be a hundred and eight years old and died in his chair. (It was quite a saying: grandfather Theyer lived to be 108 years old) He had never been sick a day in his life, when he went he dropped off to sleep and never awakened.
When I arrived at my daughter's home I discovered that she had tuberculosis as my mother had had. She had four children, the youngest, Minerva, was three. I could see my own actions in this busy little mite but I don't think I was ever so mischievous. She would get at my spinning wheel and try to spin, only to break off the end and I would have to hunt for a long time to find it. Whenever she got into mischief she would slip around behind me and putting her arms around my neck, say, "Oh granny, I love you!" She was the age I was when the war broke out--and she will go on with the story.
Minerva Wade Hickman
Yes, I loved granny, and tried to do everything she did. That is why I was always trying her spinning wheel. When she would scold me I would get behind her and putting my arms around her neck, would say, "Kiss me granny!" But she would shake me off saying, "Get away Judas!" "I will be good, granny!" I would promise and then I would plead until she forgave me.
Granny was away five days when I was three, and I began to worry about her work. Mother heard me rattling the dishes in the kitchen and called out, "Minerva, what are you doing!" "Dis' a legilating." I said, trying to use the word "regulating" as grandmother did whenever she spoke of tidying up. Mother was not able to get up and see, and as the other children had gone to school and she had to wait until father came home to find out what mischief I had been up to she was surprised when father told her that the dishes were all washed and the hearth winged, meaning it had been swept off with the large turkey wing used for that purpose. I had done so very well that my self-assigned task became my daily portion. When Granny came back I thought she ought to do it and I would say, "Granny, I is tired." But her answer was "Little hands can work as well as big ones."
Granny stayed with us a whole year, then she went back and forth to Albany.
She always brought us clothes, and seemed to take the responsibility of us almost entirely. When I was ten years old my mother was partially restored to health, and began working at millinery. She would walk to and fro weaving the straw into braid, then fashion it into hats for men and hats and bonnets for women. I too learned to weave straw and enjoyed it. My mother was beautiful and I desired to be like her and do everything she did. She had beautiful clothes which were laid away, and I used to long to see her dressed up in them, just even once, and then to wear one of the beautiful bonnets she would make.
I was fifteen years old when father decided to sell out and go to Illinois. I was full of adventure and thrilled at the contemplated change. We had money and a splendid outfit, with provisions enough to last us for two years. We had three teams and wagons, granny had made her home with us since I was three, except when she was out tailoring and now she went with us. She had saved enough money on her twenty-five cents a day to buy a farm when we reached Illinois.
She, however, missed the comforts she was accustomed to and did not long survive the journey. My two older sisters became dissatisfied and returned to New York.
Then new troubles came, Father and my brother Edward went to fight in the Mexican War. The strains of the new life along with the troubles and worries sent mother again to her bed, and in a few months she passed away.
The provisions father left were so needed in the community that they were gladly shared with those in want. But I who had been provided for all my life had to be awakened to new responsibilities. This was done by Martha Bingham, a girl younger than myself. It was when a neighbor woman died and there was no one to wash and lay her out, women far older than we trembled at the sight of death and shrinking back said, "Oh, who can take care of her?" Then Martha touched my arm, "We can do it Minerva! I helped to lay out my mother." And the job was gladly turned over to us.
From that time on we were both called on to take care of the dead and dying. On the border frontier it was our place to care for death victims and they were many.
Then I was married and went with the pioneers to Utah. My grandmother's teachings and my own experiences were a great help in the west, where the best in everyone was needed. I was called on to make men's clothes and women's dresses before sewing machines existed. Life was a continual lesson in thrift and growth and service.
When I was thirty-five I was left a widow and with six children moved to a little settlement north of Ogden. It was called North Ogden. For years I was the only doctor in the country, not the kind of doctor with a degree, but a midwife who wrestled for life. (I joined the Salt Lake Board of Health in 1858 then labored to make that life worthwhile.)
My degree was wrested from the hard school of necessity and experience. My pay for nursing a mother through her illness and cooking and caring for her family was usually three dollars, and there were men who envied me at that, for they could not even do that well. Nothing for them in the winter.
I was able to provide for my family and was happy in my work. We usually had as much as our neighbors, and when the railroad went through, my two sons could help some. With the coming of the railroad came other luxuries, and I had my share. I had the first sewing machine in town, and one of the first houses with a second story.
The hardest part of my work was leaving my children so much alone, but they looked after each other and my labors were blessed. I will now introduce you to my youngest child Mary Ella, and let her go on with the story.
Mary Ella Koleb Martineau
Yes, I want to go on with the story, and mention the sacrifices mother made for us, for I know she will never tell them. In fact, she didn't even consider them as sacrifices, but as privileges, and so her mother heart was far more glorious than one who thinks of each service to her family as a sacrifice. Mother was born in Farmersville, New York in 1830. I was born in Murray, Utah thirty-five years later on September 28, 1865.
My mother was a widow from the time I was eighteen months old. My first recollection is crossing the sand ridge between Salt Lake and Ogden. I was peeking through the little round hole in the back of the wagon cover, and then childish like, and without reason I took my little pisy [prissy?] calico sunbonnet and dropped it through the hole.
The first Christmas I remember, I got a little doll. It was the pride and joy of my heart. And when it fell by the bake oven and burned a hole in its dress I was inconsolable until mother comforted me as she sat by the fireplace stitching the men's coats she was making. She was never too busy to give consolation, however. She was always working, stitch, stitch, stitch, went her needle--and then heating her iron in the fireplace she would carefully press her sewing until I almost wondered if she were magic, to make such lovely things.
In the evening she would either tell us a bedtime story, read some poetry or a chapter from the Bible, and then the song of the spinning wheel would sing us to sleep. And the same music would waken us in the morning. I used to wonder if my mother ever slept.
There is still some of the homespun left from my mother's own spinning. A pair of stocking legs of her grandmother's were still worn by my mother when I was a child. I asked her about them one day, and she told me that she had worn them twenty-five years. They had been refooted, retoed, and reheeled many times, but the legs had only an occasional darn as mother sealed them up with pride after that twenty-five years of service. The wool had been spun by hand its full length. The homespun cloth of those early days was made to last as long as possible, and not for one short season's styles.
Buffalo robes and buckskins were also much used in early days.
Our foods were of the substantial type, there were no pastries nor rich foods of the present day. We ate the food provided by nature, and we even learned many things from the Indians who dried their meat, berries, and savory leaves, pounding them together and making it into cakes, after which they were dried in the sun and stored away for winter. These cakes were called "Pemmican". The biscuits and bread they begged from the white people were seldom eaten in their fresh state, but dried and stored away for the winter's supply of food. The serviceberries, so named because they served so well for food, were dried in great quantities. We used them as raisins in our puddings.
In pioneer days small couples would come from foreign countries and when their sons grew up in this country on the substantial diet of the pioneer these sons of a small stock would do surprising things and often pass the six-foot mark in height. They ate the natural food and nature responded by giving them large healthy bodies. Whole wheat (ground in small mills), roasted potatoes, service berries, plenty of produce, cress, fresh milk, butter and other garden products in the season thereof produced a hardy pioneer people who are now able to face life and its sternest problems.
We were taught, as mother had been, that it was a sin to waste. If we had more than was needed, there were always others in need--and our greatest pleasure was in sharing. The only thing my mother was ever extravagant about was fuel. She was brought up in New York where wood was plentiful, and she couldn't feel like she was working unless she had a big fire going. I learned economy of fuel from a lady in <p.6> Ogden with whom I went to stay and learn the Hair Trade when I was fourteen. She told me to only make a fire on one side of the stove and there would be enough heat from that to heat the kettle on the other end.
When I was twelve, mother went to take care of my sister in confinement. Our own orchard was just beginning to bear fruit. I dried $45.50 of peaches, which were shipped by teams to the mines in Montana. This money bought our winter's clothes and groceries.
When I was fifteen, 1880, we went to Idaho because mother had accepted a position as housekeeper. The hired man came for the waste bread, mother had none. He came again the second time and asked for the waste bread for the pig. "I don't make bread for pigs," mother replied indignantly. "I make good bread, and what is not eaten by people I use in puddings, and dressing." "We have always had a boiler full for the pigs," said the man, "Guess I'll have to get some bran for them." They told mother she saved her wages by her economy.
She had been doctor and nurse for years--her health was failing under the strain and when she was offered the housekeeper's position at the Boss Fork Trading Post, now called Fort Hall, she accepted.
I was sent to Ogden to attend the Sacred Heart Academy. One half hour was given in the school to dress, wash, comb the hair, make the bed, and clean the stand. I had been used to taking half hour to comb my hair, and consequently was late every morning. I always got scolded, until I made up my mind that if the rest could get through in half an hour I could. At the end of the first year I was able to do it all in fifteen minutes and had fifteen minutes left to study which I put to good use for the girls who were a year ahead of me when I went there were behind me when I left at the end of two years.
I was very dainty about my food when I went there, but never after. We would get so hungry that everything tasted good. At 4 P.M. we had colision, a slice of bread and molasses. I always begged for straight bread.
If we asked for a piece when we were children mother would say, "If you are hungry enough to eat a piece of dry bread go and get it." Nothing tasted better than a piece of dry bread when I was hungry. Even yet I enjoy chewing a crust until it becomes sweet in my mouth. The starch actually turns to sugar and is easily digested in the stomach.
In 1885 I had a room with a relative in Salt Lake City. My food cost me $1.00 a week. I had everything I desired at an average of fifteen cents a day. One loaf of bread, five cents, one quart of milk, five cents. Sometimes I had bread and milk and other times I used the cream and let the milk sour for cottage cheese, or beat it up for buttermilk. Vegetables were one cent a pound, fruit from one to two cents per pound. This left two or three cents a day for anything else I cared for. Often a friend ate with me but as I bought my extras in quantities it did not seem to make much difference in the general bill.
When I married in 1886, we went on a homestead in Idaho. There were great expenses building fencing, clearing the sagebrush off the land, and everything that goes with building a new country. Often the two of us lived on less than a dollar a week. We could buy one hundred pounds of potatoes for fifty cents. Jackrabbits were plentiful and my husband was a good shot. Our meat diet was cottontail or bunny fried in butter.
When we had exhausted all our means on the homestead, my husband got his job back in Pocatello. Every six months, however, it was necessary to return to the ranch in order to hold it. Before we proved upon it my husband met with an accident and lost the sight of one eye. He thought if I had to take the living I could do better in some town where he could help raise a garden. We got a little home ten miles from Ogden. I made coats into capes as capes were then the fashion, and did dress-making and sewing of all sorts.
When our six months were up my husband again returned to the homestead to look after things. He wrote to me to follow [him to Idaho] as a man had decided to jump our claim if we did not return. We had two mares with colts, and I rigged up a white top buggy, filled the box with food and clothing, and a bed on top of everything, put in my five little children and on the fifteenth of September 1884 we started out.
When we reached Curlew Valley it snowed so we stayed three days at my brother's. After leaving my brother's we camped at night. I gave the children their supper then told them stories until they went to sleep.
My oldest daughter asked me recently if I remembered how the wolves howled around our camp when we were going back to Idaho to save our homestead. She said, "I think they were trying to get the colts." It was such a dreary lonely place and she was afraid of their mournful howl, but when she would mention that I would only say, "It's nothing but coyotes," and go on with the story. She thought that if I was not afraid it was all right. She says I taught her the greatest psychology in her childhood she has ever learned. "If it is anything bad the Lord won't let it hurt you. If it is anything good it won't hurt you, so don't be afraid of anything."
Other years when crops failed I started out with a team and covered wagon in the autumn, going twenty miles on one side and seventy on the other to buy and trade provisions. Once on my last trip I was overtaken by a storm. I never crossed bridges until I got to them. I had an extra horse tied beside the team. He got frightened at one of the frail bridges and crowded the team so one wheel slipped off into the mire at Marshaw Creek, ten miles west of Pocatello. The team just could not pull it out even after I had unloaded all the wheat, flour and supplies. I unhitched and fed them and we got up into the wagon to eat our lunch. I always took one of the older and one of the younger children with me. They kept us company and were a great comfort. "We can't stay here all night," said the older child, "What will we do?"
"No one can cross the bridge until they help us out," I answered, and before we had finished our lunch, one of the finest big teams I had ever seen came along. There were two big strong men in the wagon. They had to unhitch and help us out, but then they went on without even offering to help load the sacks of wheat back into the wagon. I managed it someway and was soon on the road rejoicing in our winter's supply of provisions.
This sketch was written by Mary Ella Koleb Martineau, Granddaughter of Sally M. Bundy Wade.
270 Vine St.
Salt Lake City, Utah
--Mary Ella Koleb Martineau, 1865-1941. (Story of the lives of her great-grandmother,
Mary Thayer Bundy, her mother, Minerva Wade Hickman, and herself.)
LDS Church Archives, MS 5739
(The above document was given to the LDS Church
Historical Department by Glenda Baddley
of San Diego, California in October of 1977.)
Note: It seems too good to be true that each of the segments of this document was written by a different person; it's more likely that Mary Ella wrote it herself incorporating various elements of her family's history into it. If this is what she did--as nearly as can be discovered--everything is as authentic as if the segments were written by the actual participants, so it's a genuine mystery.
Perhaps she wrote it to sell for publication in a magazine. Anti-German sentiment at that time may have influenced her adoption of a pen-name, transforming Kohlhepp to Koleb. The Salt Lake City directories list George A. and Mary Ella Martineau as living at 270 Vine Street between the years 1933 and 1938.
To see Moses Wade's 1830 Book of Mormon, click here. To learn about Mary Ella's daughter Minerva Teichert, click here. To return to the Hickman Family index page, click here.