Our Mother Agnes Galbraith Currie Tindall

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Tindall, Robert Currie. Our Mother: Agnes Galbriath (nee Currie) Tindall. A belated Tribute. Bakersfield, California, May 1, 1965

Reminiscences about Agnes Galbraith (Currie) Tindall include the Tindall, Currie, and Young families, predominantly in Chatton, Northumberland, England, and the Adaville / Le Mars area of Plymouth County, Iowa, USA






In One Volume
First Edition -- November 1964
Second (Revised) Edition -- April 1965
Bakersfield, California
May 1, 1965




This introduction is principally written for my brothers and sisters, for they knew Mother best. If each of us were to write a Life of Mother, each would be different from all the rest. No one sees through another's eyes, nor does he feel the same about a person, a place, or an experience as any other individual. Like the blind men who went to see the elephant, each of us would describe Mother in his own way, emphasizing different traits and qualities which she possessed.

It should not be surprising, therefore, to anyone if my interpretation doesn't correspond in detail with his own. I am sure, however, that it will in the main. Actually, each of us knew Mother at a different age. For instance, she was ten years older when I was born than when Jessie started the family circle; it’s possible that the three years between Adam and myself may have worked their changes too. The novelty of an infant in the house had long since worn off when I arrived, it's care now a matter of routine. Mother had matured; life on the frontier had worked its changes. But, fundamentally, she never changed and retained those fine qualities that marked her youth faith, courage, loyalty and love.

This narrative is not submitted as a polished bit of writing; in fact, it is far from that. Nor is it a complete story of Mother's life. There has been one revision and this is it. Brothers and sisters were asked for criticisms and corrections; their response has been appreciated and such suggestions as they have offered have been incorporated in this text.

It is longer, by several pages, than the original draft, mainly to allow a more extensive coverage of members of the Currie and Tindall families. This seemed justifiable only because it presents information that may be of interest to the genealogists among Mother’s descendants.

Death has struck twice within the family circle since this work was started in the Autumn of 1964. Adam suffered a stroke on September 10, 1964, and passed away on February 21, 1965. Jessie was operated on on January 25, 1965 and died on April 24 following. Both had read, or had read to them, the original manuscript and had expressed their appreciation of it.

Its preparation was indeed "a labor of love". For me, Mother has been brought into sharper focus than ever before and has become a far more wonderful person than I had ever conceived her to be.



Agnes Galbraith Currie, first child of Peter and Jessie Young Currie, was born in the Stock Bridge section of Edinburgh, Scotland, on August 18, 1844. In a letter written shortly after her birth, her father describes her as "a stout and happy child" given to laughter and good cheer. Like most children, she endured the misery of most childhood diseases----measles, whooping cough, etc.. At five or six years of age, she enrolled in her father’s private school and proved to be a good pupil, winning prizes in English and Latin. She also, at a very early age, became a real helper in the home, easing the load of her Mother, whose responsibilities with a growing family often became burdensome.

The Currie School had been founded several years before her birth by her grandfather, Robert Currie, on Thistle Street. His son, Peter Currie, Mother's father, had joined him in the enterprise when he graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1840 or 1841 and he very soon became Head Master. At about the same time the school was moved to No. 5. George Street, where it remained until Grandfather's death in 1858. Nina and I visited the building in 1954 and were assured by a long-term tenant that it had been little changed, if at all, in the century that had intervened.

Its reputation for scholarship was outstanding, and it drew pupils from many of the leading families of Edinburgh. An interesting reference to the school is contained in a letter, dated 1911, from a Jane Greene of New Bushey, Hertfordshire, England. It was in answer to one from Mother prompted by an article dealing with Mr. Currie's School in the Weekly Scotsman. Mrs. Greene writes of her attendance at that school, her recollection of Mother as a girl of six, three years younger than herself, and of a bloody battle between two Currie School boys and two boys from a rival school nearby.

She wrote: "Mr. Currie called them up and gave them a good palming. It seems he had been watching through a window. After that the young rascals hid the taws in the chimney where they were burned and seen no more." It should perhaps be explained that the taws was a strap of leather with a two-inch slit, or slits, at one end a very effective instrument of punishment. Continuing her story, Mrs. Greene tells how Mr. Currie substituted a cane for the missing taws. There were no sparings of the rod and spoiling of the child in those days.

More interesting, however, is Mrs. Greene's reference to Mother's dearest girlhood friend, Agnes Hately. She calls her "a modest little girl", which she no doubt was, "and so nice". This was also the judgment of Thomas Carter, Berwick-on-Tweed, another dear friend of Mother's, who, in a letter written by his son, Walter, and addressed to Nina and me, on the S. S. "Queen Elizabeth", at Southampton, in October, 1959. was said to have been, in his earlier years, very fond of two Agneses---Agnes Currie and Agnes Hately. And I can personally vouch for the fact that she has never lost the grace and charm of her youth. In May, 1909, I spent an unforgettable afternoon with her in her lovely home at 84, Polwarth Terrace, Edinburgh. She was then the wife of Henry Macintosh, one of the city's leading citizens, and was just as beautiful as a prized portrait Mother had of her, taken in maturity.

There are perhaps a few interesting facts about Agnes Hately that, even though a bit out of sequence, should be recorded here. In the early 1870's she married the Reverend Mr. Wilson of the Scottish Presbyterian Church. They were soon sent as missionaries to the State of Kansas, served well in their field and became the parents of a boy and a girl. Following a breakdown in health, Mr. Wilson died, either in 1879 or in the early months of 1880, and the distraught widow decided to return to her native land. It was just at the time when father and Mother were to be married. How wonderful, thought Mother, to see her old friend again, and even more wonderful if she could attend the wedding. But it was not to be; their ships met in mid-Atlantic; they never met again. So near, and yet so far. But a regular correspondence kept them in touch with each other until Agnes Hately Macintosh died, sometime during the third decade of the twentieth century.

Another story involves her father, Thomas Legerwood Hately, and her brother, Walter, the one the subject of a brief, but tender, biography, the other the writer of the first two chapters. Thomas Legerwood Hately was born at Greenlaw, in the Border Country in 1815, went to Edinburgh in his youth and became associated with the Thomas Nelson Publishing Company after a rather extended period with Ballantyne and Company, printers of Sir Walter Scott's works. Possessor of a fine tenor voice, it wasn't long before he was singing in some of the better church choirs of Edinburgh and developing a keener interest in the field of music, especially church music, than in the field of commerce. It was not surprising, therefore, after receiving encouragement from friends, professional musicians and church leaders, that he decided to make church music his life work.

Congregational singing in the Scottish Presbyterian Church had reached low ebb in the 1830's. Ministers and church officials in general were alarmed and considering steps to be taken to improve the situation when Mr. Hately made his decision to commit his time and talent to the improvement of sacred music in general, especially the singing of the hymns and psalms by the congregations. They immediately commissioned him to visit churches in the larger communities throughout the country for the purpose of improving the musical programs. His methods were most effective---a mass meeting of choir members and others interested in music just to sing the better hymns and psalm tunes; presentation of a simple method of sight-reading which he had developed himself, and training of prospective choir leaders and precentors.

The above suggests the tenor of the biography Walter Hately had begun to write when he died suddenly in 1906. The task now fell to his gifted sister, Agnes Legerwood Macintosh, who added four chapters to the two her brother had already completed. Certainly it was a labor of love for her. She speaks of her father's gifts, as a superb musician, a scholar, a leader; she also speaks of his gentleness, his kindness and his patience. She tells of his love of fishing and his appreciation of all things beautiful; of happy days when he and his little brood of three (he was left a widower after eight years of married life) spent care-free hours beside the placid stream or in some wooded glen. She also stresses the evenings when her father skillfully led his children into the wonderland of literature and read with them the greatest Book of all.

It's a slender little volume but perhaps as highly prized as any book in our library. On its fly leaf is inscribed the following: "With love from an old friend A. L. M. Dec. 1908". Of course, it had been addressed to Mother, and the A. L. M. stands for Agnes Legerwood Macintosh.


It's often said that to know a person one must know his antecedents and that blood counts in determining the quality and character of an individual. These phrases fall glibly from our lips and in most instances have little meaning. But, when serious we all know that "a silk purse was never fashioned from a sow's ear" nor a worthy person born of riff-raff parents. In other words, breeding counts in the human as well as in the animal kingdom.


Mother's Grandfather, Robert Currie, and his wife, Elizabeth Murray, must have been folk of substance and character. He, born about 1775, gained a superior education for his day, and established a successful private school. She was the daughter of Sir James Murray, proprietor of Stobo Castle until the battle of Culloden in 1745. They were deeply religious and were staunch supporters of their church, and raised their children "in the fear and admonition of the Lord". Although the records are not quite clear, it seems that three of their children reached maturity----a son, whose name has been lost, a daughter, Margaret, likely born in 1810, and Peter, Mother's father, born in 1819.

A word regarding Margaret may be in order. While visiting our second cousin, Ada Currie Caldwell and her husband, John, in Glasgow in 1954 Ada showed me a letter which she was sure would be of interest to us. It was dated December 10, 1883 and had been mailed from Chatham, Ontario, Canada, and was addressed to Mother's brother, the Reverend David Young, of West Manse, Peebles, Scotland. It read, in part:

"Dear Sir: I am requested (being a very old friend of nearly forty years standing of your Aunt Margaret, your father's sister) to say she is very anxious to know what became of James Tindall's family, for she received a card from him announcing the birth of their little girl on 23rd Feb., 1881, which she answered l6th March and since then has made many enquiries about them, but so far, has gained no information of their whereabouts-----".

Of course, the little girl referred to was Jessie Young (nee Tindall) Johnson. The writer then proceeds to speak of other family matters; of Aunt Margaret's splendid memory but frail physical condition; of her cousins, Sandy Parman and Rubena Grieve, who in her childhood days had lived in Leith Walk in Edinburgh. The writer, who signed himself, "Mr. Davies", said she often spoke of heated discussions at her Mother's house on the merits and demerits of Mr. Harper's sermons "and finished by recalling the days of their youth around Manor Water and all the adjoining places."

In another paragraph he wrote: "Stobo Castle once belonged to her grandfather, Sir James Murray, who, for serving Prince Charlie, forfeited all..... "

No doubt, the loss of Stobo Castle radically changed the position and fortunes of the Murrays. The name of Sir George Murray appears prominently in the historical records of the period, but only the lesser works mention the name of Sir James. This is likely due to the fact that the latter played a smaller role in the desperate struggle to restore a Stuart to the throne of Scotland.

Stobo Castle, a red stone mansion of massive proportions, stands near the center of a nine thousand acre estate. Across the rolling hills, fine fields and meadows extend as far as eye can see, and sleek herds of cattle feed upon the land. But more impressive still are the magnificent forests, their giant trees reaching for the sky and clad in the verdure of a never-ending spring. The Japanese garden, a quarter-mile below the great house, is a "thing of beauty and a joy forever". An artificial lake at its upper end pours a constant stream over the dam into the river below. And on its surface a dozen swans and their cygnets glide with an unmatched grace. Below the dam, the river runs its uncertain course amid miniature islands joined by rustic bridges and dotted with shrubs and flowers of a thousand hues.

Of course, the castle itself is grand. From its second story veranda, one looks down upon a sunken garden of exquisite loveliness----velvety lawns and majestic evergreens, flower beds and half-hidden bowers. Two crescent-shaped stairways, one at either end of the veranda, lead to the gardens below. And at a main entrance at the east end, an imposing portico extends some forty feet to provide for guests arriving, or departing, by car or carriage. The overall length of the castle must be two hundred fifty feet, its width not less than a hundred.

Nina and I visited the ancient pile on a lovely day in August, 1959, in the company of Ada Currie Caldwell and her husband, John. They had been there before, knew the factor and had, at one time, met the present owner, the Countess of Dysart, who, at the time of our visit was in London. John, a naturalist, named practically every flower and tree as we inspected an extensive area surrounding the castle. The four of us laughed and talked about things that "might have been" had Sir James but championed the winning side in 1745. Who knows but what the present occupants might have been Sir John Tindall and Lady Ferne; or, perchance, David Young Currie, the Earl of Stobo? Of such stuff our dreams are made.

It is likely that Aunt Margaret married in the 1830’s and went with her husband, Walker Murray, to Canada in the 1840's. I know of only one contact with the family since the letter written in 1883. It was in the 1950's, when one day Cousin Will Pringle received a phone call, inviting him to join a doctor and his wife at luncheon in Edinburgh. It turned out that either one or the other of them was a descendant of the Walker Murray family, and, therefore, a cousin once or twice removed of Will Pringle and ourselves. Will says they were a delightful couple. Someday, if Nina and I ever drive in Ontario again, we shall visit Chatham, try to make contact with members of the family and visit the graves of Aunt Margaret and her husband.

Their departure for Canada must have brought sadness to the hearts of her parents, but they still had their son, Peter, Mother’s father, and his young wife to lend comfort and cheer. Both Robert and Elizabeth Currie are buried in Warriston Cemetery, Edinburgh, the exact location I do not know.


Hanging in the dining room of the home of Ada Currie Caldwell, at 84, Stanmore Road, Glasgow, in 1954 were two oil portraits one of Grandfather, the other of Grandmother Currie. I had seen them before, when I spent nearly a month in the home of Ada's grandparents, the Reverend David Young Currie, West Manse, Peebles, Scotland, in 1909. I was impressed then, but even more so on second viewing, forty-five years later. The portraits, done by a well-known Scottish artist, in the early 1840's, came to Ada through her father, Peter (Patrick) Currie, a lawyer, born in Peebles, in 1877. He died in Glasgow in 1951, and is buried in Galashiels. In one of a series of letters to a Reverend Mr. Scott, written in the 1840's, Grandfather Currie refers to the paintings and hints that they were an unwarranted expense, a strain on the family budget. Be that as it may, I'm sure that any of his descendants would gladly pay twice the original cost for them today.

Grandmother is shown in black silk dress, dainty white lace collar and cap, with a beautiful gold brooch at the throat and double gold rope chain reaching to the waist. Her features were well-fashioned, her eyes (which I believe were grey-blue) steady, her expression calm, almost serene. Grandfather is clad in black Prince Albert coat, "stock" tie and ruffled shirt. Both portraits are of bust length.

Grandfather Currie was indeed a handsome man, with impressive brow, a shock of brown hair and the most wonderful brown eyes. Certainly there was little in common between the two men, but I never looked upon Grandfather's portrait without, unconsciously, superimposing upon it Naysmith's famed portrait of Robert Burns which hangs in the Scottish National Art Gallery in Edinburgh. To me, there was always a striking resemblance between the two men, especially across the brow, the eyes, the generous mouth and even the hair. His features were delicate, suggesting those of Percy Bysshe Shelley, the Romanticist. But more important is the ease with which one reads on the faces of both Grandfather and Grandmother the marks of the finest traits of character. And these traits they transmitted in large measure to each of their offspring.

Grandfather Currie was an ambitious youth, apt in his studies and a rather rare combination of the introvert and extrovert. He majored in the Classics at the University of Edinburgh, but also studied Architecture. I believe he never established an architectural office but, on occasion, did undertake assignments in that field, and performed very well. One of the best examples of his work is to be seen at Aytoun House, some thirty or forty miles south of Edinburgh. Nina and I passed through the old baronial mansion on many occasions in 1954 and 1959. and were always impressed with its graceful lines which suited so well the lovely natural setting---acres of well-kept lawns across softly rolling hills.

But Peter Currie was primarily a school master, with a deep love of the Latin and of the Greek, as well as of his native tongue. Mother, under his tutelage, became more or less proficient in determining the origin and meaning of words. Often, in my youth when a dictionary was not available, I've heard her say, "Let's determine the roots." and then proceed to break a word down to its syllables. Then she would continue, "This syllable is from the Latin root meaning so-and-so, the next--------". Soon she had the entire word analyzed and its meaning made clear.

Even a cursory reading of a sheaf of Grandfather Currie's letters addressed to a Reverend Mr. Scott during the 1840's, and which is now in our possession, reveals a more than average knowledge of the English language. Letters, of course, are hardly the best evidence of a person's skill in writing, for they are usually written for the day and for the eyes of a very limited audience, but his might well serve as models for many of us.

The following excerpts are selected at random from one dated Edinburgh, 6th March, 1847. It's a pathetic account of the death of their little daughter, Lillias, the day before, and it tugs a bit at the heart strings even after these many years.

"Dear Sir: It has pleased the Almighty to remove from us our dear infant. She died on Wednesday at twelve o'clock. In the simple but pathetic language of inspiration: 'She lay on her Mother's knee until noon and then died'. But for the hope and consolation made known unto us by Him who is the first fruits of them that sleep the trial would be unsupportable. She fell asleep, calmly resigning her spirit to Him who formed her and breathed into her nostrils the breath of life. This has been our first bereavement---it is a bitter draught, but we gratefully got her so ought we to resign her without repining---He who doeth all things well and doth not willingly afflict the children of men has sent it to try our faith and patience----Yesterday was an eventful day to me. I had to convey her remains from the 'haunts of living men down to the chambers of death'. While on the way to the narrow house appointed for all living, I was never more composed and laid her head in the lap of her mother earth cheered by the thought that she was not lost but would return with the ransomed of the Lord to Zion with songs and rejoicing, and that though she had never breathed her Savior's name on earth, yet by this time she had been taught the song of Moses and the Lamb and, before the Great White Throne, was already ascribing eternal praise to Him who bought her with His precious blood."

These are but a few of the lines from that rather remarkable letter. They suggest courage, hope, faith, and love, and a resignation to God's will that would put most of us to shame. He also speaks of Grandmother's composure and firmness in the face of death, then adds: "Thanks be to Him for His goodness to me in the midst of my affliction."

No doubt Grandfather Currie, like his forebears, was a deeply religious man. For generations the family had been staunch Presbyterians and he and Grandmother saw to it that their children were well grounded in the scriptures and knew well the "Shorter Catechism". Three centuries separated Grandfather's generation from the Protestant Reformation but its memory was fresh in the mind of every Scotsman of his day. Martin Luther had established the Reformation but John Knox, one of Scotland's very own, and John Calvin, a Frenchman, had preserved it and extended wide its influence. It's useless to compare the preaching of Calvin and Knox; both were masters of the art, and both among the leading scholars of their day. John Calvin was minister of St. Peter's and St. Paul's Cathedral in Geneva for thirty-one years, and Knox was his student for five to seven years of that time.

Upon returning to Scotland, Knox founded the Presbyterian Church and denounced to her face the then ruling sovereign of that country, Mary, Queen of Scots. She, a staunch Roman Catholic, hated the "upstart preacher" and would fain have put him to death, but she feared his power and his zeal. From the pulpit of St. Giles Cathedral, where he preached for seven or eight years and from a pen that never seemed to run dry, this fiery evangel spread the doctrine of "the priesthood of all believers" which spread to all corners of Scotland and took lodgment in countless human hearts. And, if that were not enough to bring embers of Protestantism to full flame, a visit to Greyfriars Churchyard, with its relics of torture still evident, would achieve the desired result. Even I felt a pounding in my pulse when I visited the historical spot with Uncle David Currie in 1909.

This was the religious heritage of Grandfather and Grandmother Currie and of all members of the Young and Currie families. And most of them have remained true to the Protestant Faith ever since.

The year was 1858; Grandfather now in his middle years, had established himself as one of the leading educators in the city of Edinburgh and had done something in the field of architecture. His financial position had been stabilized; he and his family were active members of the Rose Street Presbyterian Church where he helped train Sunday School teachers and where he served as an Elder for many years. The Edinburgh Presbytery had honored him with the chairmanship of the Ministerial Placement Committee. He had buried his father and mother in Warriston Cemetery in 1845, his father just eleven months prior to the burial of Lillias, the infant daughter, mentioned earlier. He had also laid away other members of his family in that hallowed ground. But he still had Grandmother and six living children----Mother, the eldest, was thirteen; and Jessie, the youngest, just past one. A glowing future seemed to lie ahead.

But death struck when he was in the zenith of his powers and the high-spirited school master joined the larger company above. The blow was staggering to Grandmother and her fledgling flock. Fortunately they were immediately able to take refuge in the home of her father, Alexander Young, in the Stock Bridge district, where they remained until his death in 1863. During those years, Mother, and all members of the family, became very much attached to their Grandfather and adored their Mother for the manner in which she carried on after her husband's death.


The first child born to Alexander and Agnes Galbraith Young was Jessie who was destined to become Mother's Mother. The year of her birth was 1820, the place Edinburgh. She was educated in a girls' school and, at the age of twenty-two, married Peter Currie. Fragmentary information indicates that they, like most young married couples, had their struggles and headaches. For instance, Grandfather in one of his letters laments the fact that lack of funds prevented his taking an extra course at the University, and there was also much of sadness before many years had passed. But they were well matched and sharers of common interests. And they were naturally happy, given to laughter and song. They were also a busy pair. Grandfather, though perhaps still taking some work at the University of Edinburgh, had already assumed responsibility for the direction of "Mr. Currie's School", which moved about that time from Thistle Street to George Street.

Infant mortality, always a more bitter trial for a mother than a father, brought sorrow on more than one occasion to the heart of Jessie Young Currie. We've already written of the death of Lillias, her second born. Others were to follow; their names are listed on the sandstone markers in Warriston Cemetery. However, there were six children who survived infancy: Our Mother, Agnes (1844); Robert (1847); Catherine Young (1849); David (1851); Jessie MacDougal (1854); and Peter (1857). With the exception of Peter, all these lived fairly long lives.

Peters death in 1863, still less than seven years of age, was a devastating blow to all members of the family. Mother always spoke of him in glowing terms and her judgment was supported by her brothers and sisters. Peter was a lad of surpassing beauty, with a mop of auburn hair, deep-set brown (Currie) eyes, open countenance and the most delicate features. He had a ringing laugh, loved fun and was, in fact, the joy of the family. And all agreed that he bore the marks of genius for one so young. But all their hopes and dreams were shattered when he died before life had well begun. He, too, lies below those crumbling stones in Warriston.

Grandmother continued to live the remainder of her life in the environs of Edinburgh, the last several years at Portobello, a lovely seaside resort some three miles from the center of the city. She brought five of her children to full maturity, seeing them all married, with the exception of Jessie, and had become the Grandmother of eleven before her death in 1894, at the age of seventy. Her widowhood had lasted thirty-six years. Her passing was a blow to all members of her family.


Mother had reason to be proud of her ancestral line on both sides. We have treated the Curries and will now turn our attention to her maternal antecedents, the Youngs.

Her Mother's father, Alexander Young, was born in Edinburgh in the last quarter of the 18th century and spent his entire life in that city. In 1818, he married Agnes Galbraith, also of Edinburgh. To them were born six children----Jessie (1820) who was to become Mother's Mother, and five other children, all born in the 1820's. They include four daughters: Jessie, already mentioned; Catherine who first married the Reverend James Mather, Librarian for the Presbytery of Edinburgh for ten years prior to his death in 1856, and later married to James Copeland, a substantial business man; and Helen who in the late 1830's married William Weir of Langton Mill, Duns, Berwickshire. The fourth, Agnes, while in her late teens, died in 1838, just one day after her brother, Alexander, who was slightly older. The second son, David, trained for the Presbyterian ministry and served for nearly forty years as minister in the Presbyterian Church of Chatton, Northumberland, England. More about him later.

The Reverend Mr. Mather, Catherine's first husband, is buried in the Currie plot in Warriston; Mr. Copeland likely beside his first wife, place unknown. She had no children, lived to about the age of seventy-five and was much liked by all members of the Currie and Young families. She died in the home of Uncle David and Aunt Leish Currie, West Manse, Peebles, in 1904 and is buried in Warriston Cemetery, Edinburgh.

Possessed of substantial means, she lived very well and surrounded herself with lovely things. I remember Aunt Leish showing me an exquisite sapphire ring, in 1909 that "Aunt Copeland" had given her. And Will Elliot, a grand nephew just as we, had a splendid oil portrait of her, done by an Edinburgh artist, when she was perhaps in her thirties. She was indeed a beauty in her younger days and something of the dowager type when old.

Helen, Mrs. William Weir, was the only one of her generation still alive when I was in Britain in 1909. She was then in her eighty-seventh year, still a beautiful woman, keen of mind and sprightly in action. She mothered ten children, five sons and five daughters. Three sons James, William (Bill) and Alexander came to Iowa and the children of Bill and Alex still reside in the Sioux City community. James, first married to Peter Blair's sister, "Izzy", who died in 1896, later married Harriet Fisher of Leeds. James and "Izzy" are buried in Floyd Cemetery, Sioux City, Iowa; Harriet perhaps at Hawarden.

The five Weir girls were Agnes (Mother's age) who married Dr. Shields in the 1870's. He was soon sent as a medical missionary, under the Scottish Presbyterian Mission Board, to India. However, within two years of his assignment, he continued on to Melbourne, Australia, where he established a thriving practice. Two of his sons followed in his footsteps and became renowned surgeons, especially Douglas who, during World War One, was head of the Australian Hospital in Paris. Following the war, he organized his own hospital in London, was knighted by King George the Fifth and was acknowledged to be one of the foremost surgeons in Britain. Among his more illustrious patients was Sir James Barrie, the well-known Scottish playwright.

Agnes Weir Shields, then a widow, joined her son in London, became a close personal friend of Sir James and was, on more than one occasion, I believe, introduced by him to audiences attending the premier showing of some of his later plays.

Jessie, another daughter never married. She succeeded Mother as hostess for Uncle David Young at the Manse in Chatton when Mother married in 1880. Helen married David Elliot, of Nesbit Hill Farm, Duns, had four sons and one daughter and passed away in the 1920's. Lillias died when comparatively young, and Kate, the youngest, remained at home until the death of her bachelor brother, Peter, in the late 1920's. She then became a housekeeper for her nephew, William Elliot, at "Cheviot View", a four hundred-year-old house in the small village of Gavinton, nearby.

Aunt Helen Young Weir was in her eighty-seventh year when I spent three weeks with her, Peter and Kate, at Langton Mill, in 1909, Her interests were many, not the least of which was concern for her three sons in America who wrote her "so infrequently". I wish that they and every indifferent son in the country might have heard her lamentation. It might have stirred their consciences a bit. In my files there’s a letter she wrote to me in that year. It is well and concisely composed and the script is as beautiful as copperplate. She died March 19, 1911 (same day and month as Mother but twenty-four years earlier), and is buried with most of the members of her family in the Gavinton Churchyard. Her resting place is one many folk would choose for their last sleep----serene and lovely as a Turner landscape.

Great Grandmother, Agnes Galbraith Young, died in 1830 when her children ranged from one to ten years of age. Their care for the next several years was placed in the hands of a housekeeper, in fact until the late 1830's when Alexander Young remarried. His bride this time was another Edinburgh lady, her name Lillias Scott, a woman of exemplary character and many superior qualities. Never, perhaps, have children been blessed with so fine a stepmother. To show their appreciation, two of the Young daughters named daughters of their own for her. She died in 1858 and is buried along side her husband, who died in 1863. in St. Cuthbert’s Cemetery, Edinburgh.

Oil portraits of the two of them were the prized possession of Aunt Kate Pringle until her death in 1938. They were then passed on to her son, William Henderson Pringle, of Balerno, Midlothian. They are no doubt now hanging in the home of his daughter, Mary Pringle Finlay (wife of Ian Finlay), Currie Riggs, Balerno. They were done by an artist named Graham, in 1842. Nina and I have colored slides of the portraits, also those of Grandfather and Grandmother Currie, in our slide collection. They were taken in 1954 and 1959.


Though only thirteen years of age at the time of her father’s death, Mother was called upon to assume responsibilities usually reserved for folk much older. Her brother, Robert, next in line, was only ten, so hardly ready to undertake larger tasks. She assisted her mother in the home, became responsible for much of the marketing and helped to direct the social life of the family. It was during these formative years that she developed certain independent traits that stood her in good stead for the rest of her life. How well we children remember those qualities of courage and endurance that came to the surface in every crisis. Never did she flinch; "Things will always turn for the best". And somehow, because she willed it so, they always seemed to do just that.

It was in this "school of hard knocks" that she trained for one of the most important assignments of her life. Her uncle, the Reverend David Young, after graduating from New College (Divinity) at the University of Edinburgh, had accepted the call to organize a Presbyterian congregation and build a church in the village of Chatton, Northumberland, England in 1850. By 1864, he had not only accomplished both purposes but also had personally raised funds for a handsome manse and had supervised the erection of same. Always a bachelor, he now needed a hostess and unhesitatingly turned to Mother to undertake the task. Immediately she proved her worth; she was indeed "to the manse born", and continued to fulfill in an exemplary manner her every obligation until she married in 1880.

"Uncle Young", as she called him, was a man of great gifts and several eccentricities. He was not only trained in the field of Theology but also in the field of Homeopathic Medicine. He, therefore, often served his parishioners' physical needs as well as their spiritual needs. He and Mother soon developed a liaison wherein he prescribed and she rolled harmless sugar pills for "chronic patients" who became little less than a nuisance to a busy minister-doctor. Mother delighted to recount these experiences in which she cooperated in a harmless bit of deception. Of course, the "patients" were unaware of the ruse and were sure they benefited greatly from the doctor's ministrations.

Uncle Young was peculiar largely because he was absent-minded. I suppose he claimed the scholar's prerogative to this luxury, and his right to same was never to be challenged. People in the Chatton district still remember him affectionately as "Dr. Young", the small kindly man who had a smile and kind word for everyone and preached those "eloquent sermons" at the Presbyterian Church. The extent of his ministries physical, mental and spiritual will never be fully measured; many of them were beyond price.

In Holy Cross Churchyard (Anglican) in Chatton, a grateful congregation and community erected, following his death in 1890, the finest memorial in the burial ground----a fine granite shaft bearing a suitable inscription. However he is buried in the Young family plot in St. Cuthbert's Churchyard, Edinburgh.

As stated above, Mother was his able "right-hand-man" for sixteen years. She was a faithful worker in the Sunday School, was organist and choir member, church visitor and housekeeper. She was, perhaps, the best-loved woman in the community, a friend to all, confidante of many and dispenser of aid to all in distress. She, I think, never realized how much she was loved by the people of Chatton; if she did, she was too modest to acknowledge same. Even after twenty-nine years, when I visited Chatton in 1909, people spoke of her in fondest terms, often with tears in their eyes. To them she was worthy of sainthood.


Mother had her full measure of sorrow in this life, but never let it dampen her buoyant spirit. Even as a child, her father had spoken of her love of mirth. She craved happiness for herself and others and often brought gales of laughter to those around her. It was of her humor that Tom Carter, an old, old friend spoke most on that summer day in Peebles, in 1909. He told of her harmless pranks, of her predilection to practical jokes, and her ability to take a joke on herself, as well as to laugh at those directed at others. She told herself, with a measure of glee, of a lovely Sunday morning when she and a girl friend, instead of attending services at the Rose Street Church, took a stroll along Leith Water. Returning home, they were, as usual, asked the question: "And what was the text?". Their well-rehearsed answer: "Behold I was not there." The unsuspecting parents, failing to practice their usual care, never did learn of their offspring’s truancy.

She played many pranks in Chatton too; some were remembered thirty years later. I'm sure all her family remember her telling of one that involved three young bachelors in the Chatton district. A few days prior to April first, April Fool's Day, she sent each of them an identical note. In one, John Turnbull invited Tom Laidler to be at his house at seven-thirty on April first; in another, Tom Laidler invited John Tindall to be at his house at the same hour on the same date; And John Tindall invited John Turnbull to be at Broomhouse at the same time. Each, upon arrival at his destination, was informed that the one he sought had, upon invitation, already gone to visit him. Members of the families involved were inclined to question their sanity. The three young men got together a few days later and decided they had been the victims of a well-laid plot and, without much argument, laid the blame on the "young woman of the manse"; she alone could, and would, have concocted such a diabolical scheme. It should be noted that the places of Tindall, Turnbull, and Laidler lay some miles distant one from the other and the methods of transportation in that day were not the auto or airplane. The young men either had to walk, ride horseback or drive a gig.

Mother's cheerful spirit sustained her under very dissimilar circumstances too. The Phillips family lived not far from the manse. There were the father and mother and eight sons and one daughter. All the children were born embiciles, never gained their sanity; all lived to be more than seventy years of age and none left the parental nest throughout his life. At a comparatively early age, the father died; Mrs. Phillips, then a widow, had to carry on alone. She was a most remarkable person and lacked one month of reaching her hundredth birthday. Only two, perhaps three, of her brood were left when she died. Meg, the daughter, was the only one living when I visited Chatton in 1909. She was still a "gibbering” idiot, living in a fantastic world of make-believe, product of a fevered mind that had never known a lucid hour. She was then nearly eighty years of age.

Mother and Uncle Young were perhaps the best friends Mrs. Phillips had in Chatton. Never a day passed that Mother didn’t enquire regarding the welfare of the family and never was a task too onerous if it would ease the overpowering burden that Mrs. Phillips was called upon to bear. And when bedlam reigned in the Phillips home, as it often did, Uncle Young responded with alacrity to her call for help and brought order out of chaos. The offending culprits would scamper like mice to their corners the moment he entered the door. Yet he never uttered a harsh word or threatened them with physical punishment.

Eleven years had passed and oh! so quickly; it was 1875. Mother's second brother, David Young Currie, had taken his degree in Divinity at New College, the University of Edinburgh, and had been sent by the Scottish Presbyterian Mission Board to relieve his mother's cousin, the Reverend John Richardson MacDougal, for his sabbatical year in Florence, Italy. The Reverend Mr. MacDougal had established the Scottish Presbyterian Church there in 1853 and continued to serve the congregation until perhaps 1910. He died in 1912 and is buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Florence, along with his wife and daughter, Jessie. So the time seemed propitious for Mother to do a bit of traveling and see some of the beauties of the Mediterranean World.


It was eleven o'clock Monday morning, August 17, 1875, when Mother caught the London train to Bedford Station. In her diary, which is almost as clear as when written, she speaks of meeting Mr. Haskard who was to be her traveling companion on her Italian journey. She also records the name of Mrs. Worthington, who too was traveling to London. She doesn't clarify the position of either of these friends but I assume they had connections with the Scottish Presbyterian Church. On reaching London, she was met by a cousin with whom she no doubt stayed while in the city. Unfortunately, she doesn't list her name.

On Wednesday evening, August 19th, she and Mr. Haskard took the train to Folkstone where at midnight they boarded a ship for Bologne, France. Unlike most channel crossings, it was a pleasant sail, the night warm and balmy, warm enough, in fact, to lure her on deck for most of the journey. During the quiet hours her mind, according to her diary, turned to Mary, Scotland’s tragic queen: "taking her last hungry look at France, the land that she loved so well, and where her happiest, perhaps her only happy days, were spent." But with the first streak of dawn these somber thoughts vanished and she thrilled to the prospect of adventures that lay ahead. Her first impression of France was exhilarating---there was sunshine and cheer on every hand---except for the black garb of priests and nuns. The houses were gaily colored, trees were green and the sky an azure blue. And the coffee---it was divine. "The British must learn to make it more properly." They never have!

Because of limited time in Paris, she saw little of that entrancing city and only from a cab as she and Mr. Haskard drove to another railroad station. She speaks of its beauty but was unable to savor of its many other virtues. Soon she was on the train and bound for Italy.

One must see the Alps to appreciate their grandeur. Within fifty miles of Paris, Mother was traveling through valleys banked on either side by giant peaks. Fair meadows, lush fields of grain and vineyards stretched far up the slopes, while queer-garbed peasants performed their humble tasks. The route taken to Italy is not clear, but no matter, whichever one she chose carried her to lofty heights whereon lay winter’s snow the year around. And when the summit had been cleared she dropped at lightning speed into the valley of the Po where warmer breezes blow.

On Saturday morning, August 22nd, she reached Florence, her destination. She had spent her 31st birthday, August 18th, in London, and had been introduced to an entirely new world. She was now in Italy, that paradoxical country of lights and shadows, poverty and wealth, saints and sinners; a land that produced a Garibaldi and a Mussolini, superb cathedrals and some of the ugliest slums in the world.

Her train arrived in Florence twelve hours earlier than expected, so Uncle David was not at the station to meet her. In fact, he was still in bed when Mr. Haskard delivered her to the MacDougal home which he now possessed. His two servants---Rosina and Checko---met her and bade her welcome. They were destined to play a major role in her life for the next two months.

Mother's description of the two is interesting. Checko, evidently a sprightly little fellow, considered himself Uncle David's bodyguard. Every night he slept on the floor just outside the door of Uncle David's bedroom to protect his master from cutthroats and robbers---In his hand he grasped a big knife little smaller than himself. Mother writes: "On David's clothes he had no mercy. Besides giving them a thorough brushing every morning, he also gave them the same treatment twice or thrice a day, something in the horse brushing style," These and many other peculiarities, plus his regular salutation, in stentorian voice, of "Good morning, my Lord", set him apart from all other servants and household help. He was an institution, always on hand, sometimes a nuisance,

Rosina was cast in a different mold. A jealous individual, she allowed no one to perform any service for Mother but herself. She drew water for her bath, laid out her clothes, combed and dressed her hair. Mother's simple hairdo upon arrival didn't suit Rosina at all and she constantly insisted that she adopt the fussier Italian style. A photograph taken in Florence proved that, on one occasion at least, Mother did succumb to her blandishments and persuasive tongue. But Mother liked and, perhaps at times, pitied her. At one point in her diary she remarks: "It sounded strange to be always called, 'Signorina Agnesia'! But I confess however, that I liked the 'Signorina' much better than 'Miss'."

The Italian days were golden ones. She loved Florence, the art center of the world. She walked along its handsome streets; marveled at its gracious buildings; visited several shops and stood in awe before the paintings of Raphael and Michelangelo. She and Uncle David visited regularly the Pitti Palais and Uffizi Art Galleries and spent remembered hours in the Duoma, Campanile and Baptistry of Florence. These were described in her diary---the Baptistry "Grand and noble"; the Duoma, which required 170 years to build, "is entirely of marble and mosaic". These she said, like the sand-colored River Arno, were seen to best advantage in brilliant moonlight. And so, might we add, are other world renowned places and scenes---the Taj Mahal, of India, for instance.

And the places she visited were not confined to Florence. She journeyed to Pisa and, while looking, with a bit of fear perhaps, may well have thought of Galileo and the experiments he conducted there so many years before. And just adjoining, stands one of the world's stateliest cathedrals, all in marble---a symphony in stone.

At Venice, where the tourist "floats" his way about the town, she saw two famous bridges---the Rialto across the Grand Canal and the Bridge of Sighs where many, through the centuries have committed suicide. But more impressive would be St. Mark's Cathedral, perhaps one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in all the world and mosaic work seldom, if ever, matched. And (who knows) she may perchance have helped feed the pigeons in the Cathedral courtyard.

She considered the bridges over the Arno in Florence superior to those spanning the Seine in Paris, especially the Ponte Vecchio, with its splendid jewelry shops on either side (only foot traffic). The Ponti Trinita also intrigued her. It was the inspiration for Dante's Inferno. It seems that in early days the Florentines entertained distinguished visitors with a pageant, in which actors, or performers, many of them dressed as devils, dived from the bridge into the river and became as lost souls in Hell. It must have been graphically told to Mother, and perhaps pictured, for afterwards she lost the desire to read the famous work. Dante, she reported, was a great favorite in Florence, in fact, much loved.

Mother's mind in those days must have been as sensitive as a photographic plate; she grasped details that the average traveler would have missed; she called the Santa Croche (church) the "Westminster of Florence", which reminds Nina and me of a day in Westminster in 1954 when an Englishman, just returned from India, remarked to us: "This place has become more museum than church". That is true, in large measure. But what a church and what a museum! She visited the Grave of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, one of Britain's noblest women and her greatest female poet, in the Protestant Cemetery and, on one occasion at least, traveled to the Fiesole where she inspected the medieval monastery in which Fra Angelico did some of his finest frescos. And while there she scanned the view the Brownings loved during the years of their sojourn in the ancient city.

Her heart, always sensitive to the suffering of others, went out to the poor children who thronged the thoroughfares of Florence. They lived in gangs, housed only in hovels or in the open streets. Their families, too poor or indifferent to care for them, sometimes encouraged them to steal and plunder. Hardened criminals trained them in the art of picking pockets and burglary, and lived off their labors. She, like many Protestants I'm sure, was at times inclined to place the blame on an indifferent priesthood which often skimmed the cream off the top of the economic milkcan for their own benefit.

In one section of her diary, she describes an Italian funeral. Immediately following the death the deceased's body was placed into the hands of the priest. At dusk of the same day, torches flaming against the night sky, the body was borne through the streets to the cemetery. Following, in somber train, the mourners came in double file, all in black and the faces of the women, except for the eyes, sheathed in black veils. The moaning and groaning of the mourners could be heard for blocks. It was an experience she never forgot.

Before leaving Florence and Italy, let’s have Mother tell in her own words of a trip to Viareggia, a Mediterranean village fifty miles from Florence: "In the house where we stayed were brick floors, madonnas in the room, and even in the bedroom hanging over the beds, cups of holy water (!) as well. Crockery, by no means the newest. The coffee cups, or basins, they had no handles, looked so large you thought a half cup would be quite sufficient for you, but on finishing a full cup you then thought you might take a half cup more. Here you were obliged to eat Italian bread, and certainly did not relish it, there being no salt in it. Fowls you see running about the house, one is killed and cooked just as it is wanted. Beggars were most abundant here, mosquitos even super-abundant. As I know from personal experience.

"But what matters any small annoyance when one can gaze on the Mediterranean, the beautiful deep blue Mediterranean Sea. Oh, it was delicious, almost heavenly, sitting far out at the very end of the pier. Aye, but we were not content with the end of the pier, we climbed over and walked along a plank used only for sailors assisting vessels in stormy weather. Then at the end of the plank we sat gazing far, far away over the Mediterranean, the full bright moon and stars shining over it. One almost fancied it was not earth. There we sat far through the night, singing and reciting. One evening we had a sail upon it. And the bathing in it was fine, so warm, one just spent all the morning in it. One day Mrs. Haskard and I lost our hats; we thought they would perhaps go on until they landed in Spain and only wished we could swim along with them."

On such a note we bring her Italian sojourn to a close. They were unforgettable days; their memory would brighten the remainder of her years. Because of terrible headaches, she was forced to forego a planned journey through Germany on her way home and again take the shortest route, through Paris. She reached Chatton and home near the end of October.


Mother returned from the Continent with a different outlook than she had before. She had caught visions of a new world and was fascinated with them. There was much indeed beyond Edinburgh, yea, even beyond the boundaries of Britain. The world was big and inviting. It's indeed probable that the first steps toward the great American adventure five years later were taken during those two months spent under the benign influence of the warm Italian sun. Anyhow, plans for that adventure began to take shape within a reasonable time after her return home.

I have called them "The Silent Years", because we know so little about them. Ties that had been tenuous before 1875 were now strengthened, new friendships were formed and old ones enriched. Where she had served as a girl and young woman, she now assumed the prerogatives of maturity. She was, for that time, a widely traveled woman, a woman of experience.

Among the prominent families in the Chatton community were the Tindalls of Broomhouse. They were a closely-knit family of mother and four sons and four daughters living at home when our Mother went to Chatton in 1864. Robert was married and living at Chatton Hill and William, the eldest, had died in 1858. The father, John Tindal, had died in 1863 at the age of sixty-three. Tom married Jane Rutherford in 1865 and left immediately for New Zealand, so Mother never really knew him.

The Tindalls were members of Holy Cross Anglican (Episcopal) Church, but that didn't prevent social contacts with Presbyterians. In fact, with the passing of time, these contacts became more common and often resulted in marriage. So it was that Robert Currie, Mother's brother, met Isabella Tindall when visiting in Chatton, and married her in 1877 or 1878. They lived in Scotland, became the parents of a daughter, Mary (Tottie), in 1880, and a son, David, in 1882. Both children married. Mary had two sons, Douglas, who died at the age of ten, and Ronald Patterson, still living (a bachelor) in Edinburgh. David and his wife Maude, (now a widow) had one son, Robert, who with his wife and mother, live in Cumberland on the English side of the border. Tottie died in 1947 (?) and David about 1950 or 1952. Both are buried at Joppa, near Edinburgh. They are our "double cousins" and both bore a rather striking resemblance to members of our generation.

David Currie, Mother's brother, returned from his duties in Italy in 1876, accepted a call to the ministry of West Presbyterian Church, Peebles, Scotland and married Elizabeth Cinnamon, a cousin of Edward Thomarson, for many years a resident of Le Mars, Iowa. They, too, had a son and a daughter----Peter (Patrick) and Marghuerita. Pat graduated from Glasgow University and practiced law in Galashiels, all his life. He married Margaret Mercer, of Galashiels, about 1913, granddaughter of Mr. Mercer, a textile manufacturer who discovered and gave his name to "mercerized cotton". They had two children Ada, born in 1915 and David about 1919. Ada married John Caldwell, a horticulturist, and lives with her husband at Duntreath Castle Gardens, Blanefield, Sterlingshire, Scotland. David married a Glasgow girl, Elizabeth , and lives on the west side of the city. Margaret, their mother, died in 1947; Pat in 1951. They're buried in Galashiels.

Marghuerita was educated in a private school in Peebles, and finished her education at The Misses Cossips' School in Edinburgh. She directed the building programs and operations of Y.W.C.A. cafeterias for British servicemen both at home and in France during World War One and for her outstanding contribution to the war effort was decorated by King George the Sixth with the Order of the British Empire (OBE) at an investiture in Buckingham Palace in early 1919. Later that year she married the Reverend James Thomson (Methodist) of Australia, and immediately sailed for that far-away land. James died February 7, 1959 and is buried in Canberra, the national capital. Marghuerita after suffering a slight stroke in late 1963. returned to Scotland and now makes her home with a niece, Ada, at Blanefield. (note: She has now, April 23, 1965, returned to Australia.)

Catherine Young Currie (Aunt Kate) married the Reverend John Pringle, son of the well-known divine, Dr. Pringle of Ochterarder, in 1876. They had two sons---David who didn't survive infancy and is buried in the Currie plot in Warriston Cemetery, Edinburgh; and William Henderson, born in 1877, studied law and Economics at the University of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Oxford; practiced law for a few years in Leeds, England, but spent most of his life teaching and lecturing at Huddersfield and London Universities in England and at Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand. For the last twenty-two years before retirement, he served as Principal of the Commercial College of the University of Birmingham. He is presently living with his only daughter, Mary, and her husband Ian Finlay (Director of the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh), at their home, Currie Riggs, Balerno, Midlothian, Scotland.

Uncle John Pringle served as minister of the United Free Presbyterian Church at Crossford, Lanarkshire, Scotland, for twenty-seven years. He died there in March 1903. Aunt Kate then took an apartment, usually near her son; visited the United States for a period of three months in 1905 and again spent a year (1911-12) with Mother and me in Toledo. She passed away in 1937, the last member of the Currie family of that generation, and is buried alongside her husband, in the old Presbyterian Churchyard at Carluke.

Aunt Jessie MacDougal Currie, youngest of the three Currie sisters, remained a spinster for most of her life. However, in 1904, she married a retired Presbyterian Minister, the Reverend Mr. William MacClellan of Law and Sterling. I spent several days with her in her lovely home in that city in 1909. She was then a widow. I thought her very like Mother in looks and disposition. Cousin David Currie first introduced her to me in Glasgow as his "best girl". However, I was not long deceived; the smile and the merry twinkle in her eye soon convinced me that she was none other than my "Aunt Jessie". She was a woman of tender sentiments, but of strong will. She kept an immaculate house and had surrounded herself with lovely things, many of which were of substantial intrinsic value. Then there were articles that were priceless because of sentiment.

I think no member of the family told me more about Grandmother Currie; Aunt Jessie had lived with her until her death in 1894 and perhaps knew her as no other did. Each evening during my stay in her home she sat down at the organ or piano and played old familiar airs and hymns, singing to her own accompaniment in a sweet soprano voice. And, when I knew the numbers, I joined in. They were moments to remember.

In 1923, Aunt Jessie was stricken with cancer and died in 1924. She, too, rests in the Currie plot in Warriston Cemetery in Edinburgh.

It is time to close the account of the Currie family. Uncle Robert and Aunt Isabella lived in Lenzie, near Glasgow, for many of their later years. She died in 1910, he in 1919. Both are buried in Cadder Cemetery near Lenzie. Uncle David Currie, worn and heartsick with the tragedy of World War One, died of anemia at West Manse, Peebles, in September, 1917. His widow, Aunt Leish, died of a heart attack at Nisbet Hill (home of the David Elliots), Duns, Berwickshire, on the last night of the year 1920. Both lie beneath an exquisite granite stone (a Celtic Cross) in the lovely Peebles Cemetery, erected by a grateful congregation and community.

The generations may be compared to the chapters of a book. The first member arrives as fresh as the first page, lives his few days (they're never many) and passes on. He may have written well, or poorly. But no matter, he never had a chance, like the writer of the book, to do a re-write job. We should take satisfaction in the fact that most of our ancestors have written well.


The first Tindalls, under a French name, came to Northumberland from France in the l4th century. It seems that they first settled near the village of Wark, just south of the Tweed. One of their members, Adam de Tynedale (name from the River Tyne), was named "Baron of Wark". Like all other families of the district, they were subject to the Duke of Northumberland who lived on a magnificent estate at Alnwick, some twenty miles distant. Alnwick Castle and gardens are still one of the show places in the north of England. They were not only the tenants of the Duke but also constituted his yeomanry and, as such, were subject to call for police or military duty at any time. This was rather frequent during the Border Wars when Scottish Marauders, under the leadership of the "Black Douglas" and others, ravaged the countryside. Each yeoman was assigned his own arms which, I believe, were housed for safe keeping in the Castle. A wonderful collection of these----spears, knives, swords and pistols----still is on display in the ancient house. When looking at them, on two occasions, I wondered which might have belonged to our ancestors.

The raids continued for many, many years, sometimes in reverse when the English crossed the Tweed into Scotland. Their usual fruits----death and destruction. But on at least one occasion, there was an element of romance.

It must have been in the late seventeenth, or early eighteenth century. The Tindalls had long since become tenants of Broomhouse. Near midnight two men, with heavy Scottish accents, knocked on the door. They had in their arms an infant girl whom they insisted the Tindalls must keep for awhile. They accepted her under protest.

Inspection of a bag of clothing next morning, revealed the fact that the infant's apparel was much finer then that generally used, and each piece was marked with the initials "L". "D". Although the two men had been indefinite as to time, the Tindalls expected the child to be called for within a few days, certainly within a few weeks. But the days and weeks became months, and the months years, perhaps two or three. The infant had become a delightful little girl, a real member of their family. They loved her dearly.

Then the blow fell; the men returned for their charge. She rebelled but they insisted and carried her for several miles toward, the Scottish border. Her tears finally melted their hearts and they returned her to Broomhouse and explained that she was indeed the daughter of one of the famed Scottish Douglases; her name Leslie. She remained at Broomhouse and became, at maturity, the wife of a son of the Tindall family of that generation. The name, "Leslie Douglas", is to be found in every generation of Tindalls since that time.

Naturally, some members of succeeding generations moved to other sections of England----one branch to Yorkshire, another to the South of England, etc.. Members of these branches are listed in the main Family Tree, prepared by a leading clergyman of the South of England some years ago. It covers the generations from the first ancestor, King Wincaslaus of Bohemia, to the year 1787. It includes several outstanding individuals----several clergymen of the Anglican faith, among them Humphrey Tindall, Dean of Ely Cathedral and Master of Queen’s College, Cambridge University, between 1591 and l6l4. He is buried in the North Choir of the old Cathedral and his grave marked with one of the finest brass effigies in all England. Listed also are lawyers, judges, barons and baronets, also some military men, among them General Thomas Wolfe of Quebec fame. He, it will be remembered, was killed in that battle, as was also his counterpart, the French General Montcalm.

But our branch of the family remained where it first settled----in Northumberland. There, one mile south of Chatton, some fifteen generations have occupied Broomhouse during the past five hundred years. A quick rundown of the family reveals Adam as our Great, Great Grandfather, born about 1740-50; Robert, our Great Grandfather, born about 1775, and our Grandfather, John, born about 1800. He married, in the early 1830's, Mary Eleanor Charters, of Chatton, who was born in 1811.

Twelve children were born to this union----William, Anne, Robert, Adam, Thomas, Isabella, Mary, John, Elizabeth, James, Eleanor and Richard. Then there were perhaps two who died in infancy. William died, at about age twenty-two, in 1858, Eleanor at thirty in 1863, and John in his forties in 1892. All the rest, I believe, reached the half-century mark before they died.

Uncle Robert's second wife was Elizabeth Dryden (Aunt Bess), the sister of the man who later married Uncle Robert's own daughter, Minnie. He therefore became brother-in-law to his own daughter. Aunt Bess mothered three sons and seven daughters----Robert, William and Adam; Isabella, Annie, Elizabeth, Eleanor, Leslie, Kate and Frances. The three sons rather lost caste in the family when they married "working girls", servants on their farm, Wandon. Three of the girls married----Isabella, Elizabeth and Eleanor. All of Uncle Robert's children are now dead except Frances who, at the age of seventy-two, lives at Cleveleys, Victoria Road, Wooler. All who married had children with the exception of Isabella, so there are grandchildren still living in Northumberland and across the Tweed in Scotland.

Uncle Robert and both wives are buried in Holy Cross Churchyard in Chatton; Isabella, Annie, Leslie and Kate rest in the Anglican Churchyard at Norham where the family resided between 1919 and 1947. John, of the first family, is buried in Chatton. The others are laid away in communities not too far removed.

Reference should be made, perhaps, to a few members of this large family. Uncle Robert was a handsome man who, when I knew him at age 74 was straight as an arrow and sat a horse like a statue. He was always neatly dressed in knickers, bore all the marks of an English Country gentleman. For many years, he served as a non-commissioned officer in the Northumberland Fusiliers and had earned many awards for marksmanship. When married the first time, he occupied Chatton Mill Farm and continued there until well after his second marriage. In 1860 the family moved to Wandon, succeeding the Robert Tindall Maddisons as tenants. Captain Maddison, a cousin of father’s, moved at that time to Anthon, Iowa, where members of the family still reside. Uncle Robert died in 1910, and in 1919 the family moved from Wandon to Norham. And in 1947, with the Norham house far too big for their needs, Leslie and Frances bought their home in Wooler.

Robert, the eldest son, worked in his early years on the Wandon farm, married "beneath his station", fathered two children whose whereabouts I do not know, and joined the British Army in World War One. Following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the Allied Governments sent military units to Russia to quell the uprising and keep Russia in the war on their side. Robert was a member of the British contingent. He was stricken with an incurable disease in late 1919 and invalided home to Norham. There he lingered until 1922. He's buried beside his parents in Holy Cross Cemetery, Chatton. It's rather interesting to know that he visited Canada and the United States in 1905-06; spent a month or two with Uncle Richard Tindall and his son, John, at their ranch in the Big Horn mountains, Wyoming and, while there, fell with his horse in an isolated spot. The horse, poor thing, broke his leg and was unable to rise; Robert, pinned under the beast, was not found for thirty-six hours. That experience caused him to cancel a planned visit with our family and hurry home to England.

Leslie Douglas, Uncle Robert's third youngest daughter and the one we knew best, died in a New Castle hospital on March 16, 1964, and is buried with three of her sisters in Norham Anglican Churchyard. More about her later on.

Uncle Tom Tindall was born in the early 1840's, married Jane Rutherford, cousin of the renowned atomic scientist, Lord Rutherford, in 1865 and sailed immediately for New Zealand. They had six children---John, Thomas, and a third son whose name I do not know. For some unknown reason, he committed suicide many years ago. The three daughters are Minnie, Elizabeth and a third who married and went to live in Australia. Uncle Tom died suddenly in 1885, Aunt Jane in the early 1900's. Both are buried at Geraldine, the Canterbury Plains, New Zealand.

Three of their children were still living when Nina and I visited the family in 1949. Minnie had married Robert Harrison some fifty years before and had lived most of her married life in Mosgiel, a suburb of Dunedin. Their four daughters Jane, Mary and Roberta were living at home, Daisy in her own home nearby. Cousin Minnie died some years ago at the age of eighty-seven.

Elizabeth (Ciss) married a Mr. Reaves and lived in Fort Chalmers, also a suburb of Dunedin. They had one daughter, Edna. Ciss died at Christmas time, 1963. Her husband had passed away in 1945.

Tom and his wife, Mae, were still living in the old community, Gapes Valley, near Geraldine. A soldier in the Boer War in 1900, he had been deafened by the concussion of the great guns on the battle front, so conversation with him was difficult. However, we did manage to have a good visit with him and his wife. They had no children of their own but had many years before adopted a little girl, Dorothy. She had trained for nursing in Wellington Hospital where Kina spent so many weeks with a broken hip. I spent two brief periods in her home and got to know her and her husband, Vincent Flynn, very well. They never failed to visit Nina every Saturday evening, always bringing cookies, fruit, or flowers. Her mother, Mae, now makes her home with Dorothy in Wellington. The Flynns have one daughter, Shona, now about seventeen. Cousin Tom died in 1950.

John, the eldest son of Uncle Tom and Aunt Jane, married Minnie Cullin in the early 1900's, and continued to live in the Geraldine community throughout his life. They became the parents of five sons and five daughters. John died in 1932; Minnie in 1950 or 1951. They are buried in Timaru, a seaside city some twenty-five miles south of Geraldine. All their children were living at the time of our visit; but Minnie, the only one we did not see (she then lived at Nelson), died the following year.

Their son, John, named for his father, was married and living in Ashburton, near Christchurch. His seven sons, aged seven to twenty-one, should guarantee the preservation of the name "Tindall" in the district for generations to come. Frank Tindall, in Timaru, has three sons and one daughter, and Robert, two daughters. Albert, the youngest son, is not married.

The four living daughters include Alice whose husband, Anthony Toomey, died within a few months of our visit. They had two sons, now married. Moana married a Mr. Henderson, a Scotsman, and became the mother of one son, a handsome lad who is expert on the bagpipes. Mavis became Mrs. Hall. Her husband came out of the Service following World War Two a nervous wreck and was for some years confined to a mental hospital. Their four sons and one daughter are all married. Minnie, who died in 1950, was married to a Mr. Dean.

Nina and I made our headquarters in the home of the fifth daughter, Elsie, Mrs. Stanley Dean, in Geraldine. She and her husband had one daughter, Margaret, then a little girl of seven when we were there. She married in 1964 and lives in a town perhaps fifty miles from her parent's home. They were indeed very kind to us.

Thus endeth the account of Uncle Thomas Tindall and the New Zealand segment of the Tindall family. We must now return to Britain.

Uncle John, born in Broomhouse in the 1840's, never married and met an untimely death in 1892 when he fell from his horse. Uncle Adam also remained a bachelor throughout his life. I've heard it said that he and father planned at one time to form a partnership in the meat-packing and auctioneer business in New Castle-on-Tyne, but for some reason it never materialized. Instead Father came to America and Uncle Adam conducted the business alone, for nearly fifty years, and is thought to have done very well. During that long period, he spent every weekend at Broomhouse, so kept close tab on operations there.

Uncle Adam was a distinguished-looking man. He was always properly dressed----morning coat, striped trousers, bowler hat and walking stick. He was a man of firm convictions and strong loyalties, especially to the Royal Family and to the Conservative Party, and to the Anglican Church. His church membership was in Holy Cross, Chatton, throughout his lifetime, and he generously supported its program. He undoubtedly was the prime mover in the installation of a memorial clock "To those members of the Tindall Family who for centuries have lived at Broomhouse and worshiped in Holy Cross Church." It's a tremendous instrument whose resonant tones can be heard throughout the community when it strikes the hours. It is dated January 1, 1901. Uncle Adam died in 1923 at eighty-four years of age, and lies in Holy Cross Churchyard.

From the time of Grandmother Tindall's death in 1879. Aunt Mary took charge at Broomhouse. She was, in many ways, a typical "old maid", a demon for work and the arch-enemy of dirt. Her servants respected her but, I fear, must also have feared her. However, she was kind of heart and generous of spirit, and performed countless acts of charity in the community. The last two years of her life were spent in darkness; she had become blind. She died in June 1923, the last member of the Tindall family to live at Broomhouse! She is buried in Holy Cross Churchyard too.

Aunt Elizabeth was born about 1849. A striking brunette, she had many suitors, one of whom she sued for breach of promise and recovered 2000 pounds ($10,000.00). Later she married the Reverend Charles Walker, Anglican clergyman who, for practically all his life, served a church at Dalton-Le-Dale, Yorkshire. She had been a widow three or four years when I was in England in 1909, a particularly handsome woman even then. I thought she was one of the best-dressed women I had ever seen, and her jewels were beautiful. And her energy--her drive often put me to shame. However, she, too, was unable to forestall the ravages of time and was gone in less than ten years. Her grave, along that of Uncle Charlie's, is at Dalton-Le-Dale.

A pall of sadness seems to have hung over the life of Aunt Anne. She must have been a gentle creature, refined and sensitive, and possessed of a heart that responded to every human need. It may have been this "mothering" spirit that prompted her to marry William Watson, a widower and the village school master. In that capacity he had won the admiration and respect of a host of folk, and his splendid baritone voice was in great demand throughout the district. On the surface, he bore all the marks of a gentleman, but he had one fatal weakness----drink.

Aunt Anne may have known of this flaw in his character before their marriage but, if so, must have thought she could reform him. That, as in most cases, proved to be impossible and William Watson, a man of great promise, soon lost caste and status in Chatton. A son, Johnnie, was born to the Watsons in the late 1870's and was, no doubt, the "apple of his parent's eyes". But things went from bad to worse and, in the hope of reestablishing himself as a worthwhile individual, Uncle William came, in the early 1890's, to Le Mars, Iowa, and there formed a partnership with Alexander Weir in the cattle-buying business. Things prospered for awhile but in either 1893 or 1894, Johnnie who had accompanied his father to America, was thrown from his horse and dragged to his death. That was the last straw; the spirits of both parents were broken.

It must have been 1910. I was waiting to catch a late train out of Le Mars on a cold winter night. The Illinois Central station was closed, so I sought shelter in the lobby of the old Central Hotel nearby. I was reading and doing my best to keep awake when I sensed I was not alone in the room. Peering into one of the dimly lighted corners of the lobby, I saw what I was sure must be a specter. But it took shape gradually----an old, old man, moving at snail's pace in carpet slippers and well-worn clothes, pushing a floor brush before him, wiping the dust from some of the furniture and emptying the brass cuspidors into a large receptacle. Suddenly, I seemed to detect something familiar in the ghostly figure, and when a better light flashed across his face, was quite sure that I was seeing William Watson, but not sure enough to reveal my identity. Through the years I've never forgotten that face; it was as transparent as fine Dresden China, benign and kind. The lines were deep, the hair like snow. The old man lived until 1912, I believe, and, so far as I know, was buried in an unmarked grave in the Le Mars Cemetery. And, back at Chatton, Aunt Anne had died in 1907 of a broken heart.

The youngest member of our Grandfather Tindall's family was Richard Thompson, born in 1855. He was the wanderer of the family, left home for Alnwick in his late teens and there learned the cabinet-maker's trade. And it was there that he met and married Isabella Young, about the year 1880. I checked at the Registry Office in Alnwick in 1959 for a record of their marriage, but after a rather lengthy search, was informed that the vital statistics for each parish church in the entire district were kept in separate files and, unless I knew the church in which they were married, the task might be interminable. So I gave up and drove to Workworth, some fifteen miles southeast of Alnwick, to confer with the Misses Browell, two delightful maiden ladies, whose mother had been a niece of Aunt Isabella Young Tindall.

They told me that she had one sister and three brothers----James, of little account, who had served as an apprentice in the same cabinet shop as Uncle Richard, and no doubt introduced him to his sister; George, station master at Durham for many years, and William, for a long time a trusted employee of the Savings Bank, St. Nicholas Lane, Alnwick. (The bank still stands. I was taken through it and its subterranean vaults by a Rotarian friend, Mr. Thwaites.)

Florence Browell, the elder of the two sisters and the more talkative, told me that the Youngs rather disapproved of Uncle Richard, thinking him a bit unsettled. However, the wishes of the young couple prevailed and they wed, and were soon on their way to America and, for at least some months, were without parents in Northwest Iowa. But before the year 1880 had come to a close they had settled near Marysville, Missouri, and in 1881 or 1882 became parents of a son, John.

Aunt Isabella, never very strong, I believe, became ill in the early 1890's and soon passed away. Her death to husband and son was a sad blow. Within a year or two, they sold out and moved to Benkelman, Nebraska, without informing our parents of their move. However, on a bitter winter day in January 1895, they arrived, unannounced, at our door. They had shipped a carload of cattle to the Omaha market and had taken advantage of the opportunity to visit our folks. I was but a lad of five, but remember ten happy days spent with an Uncle and a cousin who seemed to have come from another world.

No further word came from them until 1903. Our father was on his deathbed. Mother wrote to the postmaster at Benkelman for information regarding Richard Tindall, and was told that he had left the community many years before---his proposed destination---Cody, Wyoming. Mother wired him there and, by a streak of luck, he happened to come to the city and received the message. (Ordinarily he visited Cody but once or twice a year). He came directly to Iowa, was with the family when father died and for the funeral on May eleventh. The following day he left for home, the last time we ever saw him or had direct word from him.

On February 6, 1906, his son, John, was murdered in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Through a banker at Meteetsa and an undertaker in Thermopolis, Nina and I were able, in 1933, to gather some fragments of information regarding the tragic event. The trouble started when John, to tease a friend, hid his wedding suit and left for the Tindall ranch across the mountains. The friend took after him on horseback, thinking he would overtake him before he traveled far and either recover the suit or find out where it was hidden. John thought it would, of course, be easily found, so went on his merry way. By the time the two men reached the ranch, the bridegroom was furious and, without ceremony, drew his gun and killed John on the spot. The case came to trial in Buffalo and the murderer was set free, on the grounds of "severe provocation".

In the old cemetery on a hilltop in Thermopolis, Wyoming, lie the mortal remains of Cousin John, a crude wooden cross marking his final resting place. Uncle Richard, crazed by grief over the loss of his only son, sold out his interests and wandered off into the great Southwest where he was last heard from, by the Wyoming banker, in 1907. The post mark on the letter was "Albuquerque, New Mexico". Nina and I made a rather intensive effort to find some clue in that city in 1933 as to the probable place of his death and burial but without result. So it is most unlikely that we shall ever know anything about his last years or his passing. And, strange though it may seem, neither do we know the exact burial place of his wife, Aunt Isabella Young Tindall; we can only assume that it is either in, or near, Marysville, Missouri.

There now remains but one Tindall to account for our father, James. And that will best be done by bringing him into this narrative as Mother’s husband and partner.


For some reason, never quite clear, Chatton folk were inclined to believe that Mother’s interest in the Tindall family centered on John rather than our father. Whether there ever was the least reason for such a thought must forever remain a secret, for neither he nor she, so far as I know, ever suggested that more than a sincere friendship existed between them. However, I think it can be assumed that each held the other in highest regard; and that John’s sad death in 1892 brought more than the usual measure of grief to Mother.

Our father, a few years younger than John, was built on sparer lines than his brother and, I'm inclined to think, was sharper mentally. He measured a quarter-inch short of six feet, was lithe of limb and weighed just over one hundred seventy pounds. He wore a beard for most of his married life, always clean and neatly trimmed. Like all members of the Tindall family, he was reared to English rural life, with emphasis on horse-back riding, and supervisory rather than working responsibilities on the farm. He soon learned to judge a well- bred shorthorn cow or bull, and could point out the good or bad points of a horse on sight. Life at Broomhouse was well-ordered, but there was always time for fun and laughter, and both boys and girls were not averse to enjoying it to the full.

Father was a lad of thirteen when his father died, so his mother was a prime factor in shaping his life. She must have been a dear person who, until her death in 1879, was the center of family life. The breach caused by her passing was never healed again. It also brought about the distribution of the fluid assets of the estate and perhaps hurried decisions that had long been held in abeyance, among them father's determination to marry. In any case, such plans were soon made and the date set for May 12, 1880.

No doubt the decision to come to America caused consternation among members of both the Currie and Tindall families. And Mother's loss from the Chatton Church would be severely felt by Uncle Young and the members of the congregation. There were "farewells" and Bon Voyage parties, and the usual spate of preparations for the glad event; in fact, the days and weeks were filled to overflowing. But time, as always, passed and the day of the wedding arrived. We do not know whether skies were clear and soft winds blowing, or sun concealed by sudden clouds; we do know that happiness reigned within the hearts of bride and bridegroom. Their future together lay ahead.

Members of Mother's family arrived from Scotland----her mother, Aunt Jessie, Uncle Robert and Aunt Isabella (Tindall) Currie; Uncle John and Aunt Kate (Currie) Pringle, and Uncle David and Aunt Leish Currie. Uncle David assisted Uncle Young in the marriage ceremony which was performed in the Chatton Presbyterian Church. And of course all the Tindalls and a host of Chatton friends were present for the nuptials.

Reports indicate that it was both a day of gladness and a day of sadness. There were smiles and there were tears. But who's ever seen a wedding without the same? Yet, somehow, this seemed to be a wedding just a little different from the average. The young couple were going to America and folk sensed they'd never see them again. And neither they did.

The reception following the ceremony brought forth expressions of love and appreciation from members of the Church and community to Mother especially. For sixteen years she had been their true and faithful friend. A Miss Clark, who was still living in 1909, gave me a graphic account of the event. She had made the presentation "speech" for the congregation when Mother was given a chaste silver-crystal biscuit box. That lovely piece adorns the home of a granddaughter, Agnes Johnson (Mrs. Winston) Yeager, of San Antonio, Texas. It is suitably and affectionately inscribed. Nina and I have another of her wedding gifts a----silver muffin dish. Mother often called it a cheese dish. Then there were a few books for both father and Mother; a few of these reside on our library shelves and are highly prized. Two names, as witnesses, appear on their wedding certificate which we viewed in the Registry Office at Berwick-on-Tweed on August 18, 1959 (Mother's birthday). They are "Adam Tindall" and "Jessie Young", and also appearing is the signature of "David Young, Officiating Clergyman".

The precious minutes flew with the speed of light; the hour of departure had arrived. In a shower of rice and an avalanche of good wishes, the young couple took their places in the Broomhouse carriage. Few eyes were dry, hearts too filled with emotion for audible goodbyes; a firm pressure of the hand had to serve as a substitute and, when they reached the bridge across the River Till, they turned for a last look and a wave of farewell.

What were their thoughts? We'll never know. But of this we may be sure; a soreness of heart, a sense of something which, had they been a bit older, would have caused them to pause. They were leaving scenes more lovely than are usually found on earth, dear ones who had wound the tentacles of their love about their hearts, and associations as tender as the moonlight. Their emotions were deeply stirred; it was a time for silence.

From Belford Station they took the train to the home of Uncle Charlie and Aunt Elizabeth Tindall Walker at Dalton-Le-Dale, in Yorkshire, where they spent about ten happy days. Then they journeyed on to Liverpool from whence they sailed on the good ship "England" of the National Lines for America. Now indeed their thoughts must have been long, long thoughts, for they were not only leaving friends and loved ones but also the land that had given them birth, their own Britain. Mother always spoke of their three-week passage as a "stormy one", in which their 7500-ton vessel tossed about like a match stick on the angry waves. She was the world's worst sailor and suffered untold agony throughout the journey. A faded menu card, in our possession, lists a tempting bill of fare, but she was never able to enjoy a decent meal. The memory of those trying days may well have been the main reason why she never wanted to make the return trip.

But finally the nightmare came to an end; they reached New York, but not to be greeted by Barthodi's famous Statue of Liberty (It was not erected until a few years later) but by health, customs and immigration agents. They passed in all categories and were soon mingling with the crowds on Broadway and Fifth Avenue.

I never heard either of them describe in detail their first impressions of New York. Of course, Mother had seen London and Paris so was not overwhelmed by its size and activity. Father, much less traveled, may have been more impressed than she. However, their stay in this American metropolis was short; they were soon westward bound by train for Chicago. There they found activity----The Republican Nominating Convention was in session. Mother was impressed by a huge banner that stretched across the street from their hotel. It bore the names of James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur, Republican candidates for President and Vice-president. She sometimes spoke of Garfield's kindly face and his sad and untimely death within ten months of his election in the late autumn. His assassination by Charles Jules Guiteau, a disappointed office-seeker, was a disheartening experience for the newcomers, as well as for all Americans.

It's never been quite clear why our parents chose Northwest Iowa for their home. Many land companies were advertising rather extensively in British newspapers at the time and "letters home" often told of success and good fortune won in America's heartland. These no doubt influenced their choice and helped determine their course. In any case, they reached Plymouth County in late June 1880. Father immediately bought a team of horses, Bob and Dexter, I believe, and undertook to break some prairie land for a settler in Sioux County. This he did for experience rather than for the remuneration he might receive. It was then that he nearly bought the land on which the town of Ireton was later built. The impulse was checked because the land had no running stream and so he bought a 160-acre tract on the Broken Kettle Creek toward the west end of Plymouth County instead. The same quarter section is now occupied by his grandson, Adam Tindall, Junior (Buster) and Helen, his wife. It was September before this transaction was completed; winter was just in the offing. A house had to be built and a barn for the horses and cows. There was much to do and little time to do it.

During the building period, they lived, as paying guests, with Mr. and Mrs. Jarvis who lived a mile and a half to the northeast. Lumber and other materials were purchased in Le Mars, the County Seat, a carpenter was employed and a crash building program gotten under way. The simple rectangular two-story structure could scarcely have been built before the first winter snows were swirling out of the northwest. But the old house was built to last; it, with kitchen and bedroom addition added a few years later, was used until the early 1930's when replaced by a more spacious residence by Adam and Elizabeth Grebner Tindall. They had occupied the old place from the time of their marriage in March, 1912.

One can only wish that Mother and father had left an account of those earlier years. Fortunately, they missed the grasshopper scourges of the 1870's when those voracious insects swept, like the locusts of old, across the landscape, stripping every tree, bush and flower bare of it's foliage and leaving the settler with nothing to show for his labors. And it was all done so quickly----in a matter of hours. They didn't, however, escape the threat of prairie fires; they constituted a constant hazard during the summer when the tall prairie grass sometimes reached a horse's belly. Old timers told of seeing the fires race, before a surging northwest wind, from the Sioux River to the Broken Kettle, a distance of eight miles, in a matter of a few minutes. Unprotected homesteads, live stock and machinery were consumed like paper; some settlers lost all they had. To guard against ruin by fire, men plowed wide strips of ground all around their buildings and, when fires were approaching, built backfires for greater protection.

Roads to Le Mars, fourteen miles to the east, had been laid out but were, of course, little more than tracks through the prairie grass. And to the west, no surveys had been made. To reach Akron, then called Portland, one merely struck out across unmarked terrain, depending entirely on his sense of direction to bring him to the town. And neither Akron nor Le Mars matched the smaller communities they had known in Britain. Merchandise was usually crude and of poor quality and food, though plentiful, not in wide variety. Women paid little attention to style, and their wardrobes were limited. Cotton dresses were the rule, with a few woolen items for winter and, if very fortunate, a silk gown for real dress-up affairs. Silk stockings were unknown on the frontier; in fact, few were worn until the 1920’s. And shoes were made for wear rather than for looks.

What dresses Mother brought I do not know. Certainly she would have her wedding gown and a few others for general wear. Father’s trunks were filled with men's wear hardly suitable for wear in Northwest Iowa---two pairs of English riding breeches, a deep purple dress suit, which appeared black under normal lighting conditions, and a blue double-breasted worsted suit that seemed to wear forever. He wore the latter for several years, but the riding breeches perhaps no more than a half- dozen times when riding with the local "English gentry" in the very early years. The dress suit was never taken from the trunk excent for an airing.

And that brings us to an experience Mother had in the early 1880's. It was May, balmy breezes were fanning the prairie grass which had already turned green; it was a perfect day to air all the blankets and stored clothing. Mother had hung everything on the clothesline and had stepped into the house to take care of other duties; a lone horseback rider up the road was hardly given a glance. But he should have been, for, when Mother went out two hours later, to retrieve the clothing, one pair of father's fancy riding breeches was missing. Surely the thief got little satisfaction out of his loot, for, if a "native", his cronies would have ostracised him had he appeared in such outlandish garb.

Another attempt at robbery occurred on a summer night in the early 1890's. Mary, who was perhaps ten, and was sleeping in the north upstairs bedroom, saw a buggy drive into the yard at about two o'clock in the morning. Thinking the men wanted to see Father, Mary called down to him. But at the sound of her voice, the men dashed back to the buggy and fled without ceremony. An epidemic of horse-stealing had struck the county that spring; it was, therefore, assumed that that was the mission of the night visitors.


The first child born to James and Agnes Galbraith Tindall was Jessie Young, named for her maternal grandmother. She arrived February 23, 1881, with the assistance, I believe, of Dr. R. D. Clark, of Akron. She was certainly a Tindall, fairly long of limb and with facial features favoring those of Aunt Isabella Tindall Currie. The good doctor was called again on March 2, 1882, when John David (Jack) made his appearance. Both sides were honored at the christening---John for his grandfather Tindall and David for Mother’s Uncle David Young and her brother, David Currie.

Eleanor Mary Charters was born on November 20, 1883. She looked like the Tindalls but had a disposition like the Curries. Nearly two years later, October 12, 1885. Catherine Currie made it three to one in favor of the girls in the James Tindall family. However, the odds were improved with the arrival of Adam on November 29. 1886. He was a chubby lad who, with his first breath, must have inhaled a love of horses and farm life in general. He was all Tindall. I came along at the tag end of the line on January 3, 1890.

It's rather amazing that Mother, under circumstances that were far from ideal, bore six children in a period of nine years and brought them all up to maturity. It’s also worth recording that all six lived beyond the allotted Biblical span of "three score years and ten". Much credit must be given to Dr. R. D. Clark, a skilled practitioner for his, or any, day, and a gentlemen in every sense of the word. And it should also be remembered that we're offspring of a hardy line of ancestors.

The six of us were baptized in the Crathorne Presbyterian Church by a Reverend Mr. Smith. That of course satisfied Mother who was a Presbyterian. Whether Father, an Episcopalian, was satisfied I do not know but he at least agreed to the arrangement. He was faithful to his own church and tolerant of others. It can be assumed, I think, that he never fully understood or appreciated the more informal services of the Evangelicals; they likely went against the Episcopal grain. However, he respected them.

No doubt, had the Crathorne Presbyterian Church been nearer to our home, Mother would have attended there. But a fourteen-mile journey every Sunday with horses and buggy was too great a task and, in the winter time, would often have been impossible. So, for several years, Mother was content to take her growing brood to the Sunday School conducted in our school and the infrequent preaching services held in the same place. The latter were conducted generally by ministers of the Presbyterian persuasion. I remember but one of the participating clergymen, an ancient divine by the name of King. He was truly a patriarch, with flowing white beard, benign face and musical voice. Among his most faithful supporters were Mother and Mrs. Albert (Joanna Douglas) Johnson. Mr. Johnson, a brother of John and uncle of Herb, developed a real interest in church work, as did several others in the community.

Mother always remembered a Christmas program held at the school. Albert Johnson was to act as Santa Claus, Father his assistant, and Mrs. Johnson was to serve as master of ceremonies. She hustled her husband and Father out of the overheated building in plenty of time to make ready for their grand entry, upon signal, at the proper moment. The last recitation was given, the last carol sung, that moment had arrived and the signal was given. But there was no response from outside. Another signal and still another, but yet no response from Santa. Something had to be done, and it was.

Mrs. Johnson, her Scottish temper sorely strained, rushed to the door and stepped outside into the bitter night air. There was Father, exercising the greatest care, trying to disentangle a brass bugle now frozen to the beard and lips of her discomfited husband. A woman of spirit and less humane than Father, who also had a beard, she pushed him aside and, grabbing the ice- cold instrument in both hands, yanked it, along with some whiskers and patches of skin, from her husband's mouth. "The show must go on"!


The Adaville Church had been established in the United Brethern in Christ at the crossroads village of Adaville, in the 1860's. One of its founders was Jacob Brown, grandfather of Amy Brown who in 1905 married Jack Tindall. It must have been in the early 1890's that Mother began taking the family to Sunday School and church services in the original church building. The people, many of whom became her life-long friends, were cordial and sincere. In the very early years, she drove the horses herself, a trying experience for one as fearful of horses as she. But her religious zeal was great, her interest genuine and she was determined that her children should share the benefits of Christian training. It wasn't long before she was teaching a Sunday School class, playing the organ and helping in many other ways. In time she became a member of the Ladies' Aid program, the real backbone of the Church's missionary effort and often chief supporter of its entire program. The ladies served dinners in their homes---the amazing price; ten cents! But there were quilting and sewing bees that paid a larger return.

Mother's interest in the church never wavered. For many years near the end of her life she served as President of the Missionary Society of the Adaville Church, and while so serving trained many young women of the congregation in the art of presiding and deepened their interest in the whole missionary enterprise. Many of those women still pay tribute to her leadership and her inspirations.

By no measure, could Mother be considered emotional in her religious life. To her, religion was a normal experience and should be an important factor in every life. It had been so in her Scottish home, a vital part of everyday living. In those early years, she had listened to scholarly sermons delivered by some of Scotland's brightest minds and choicest spirits. And, while serving with "Uncle Young" in the Chatton Presbyterian Church and Manse, she had lived in an atmosphere of piety and grace. Uncle Young may not have been a great preacher but he was a good one. He was thorough and painstaking in his preparation, widely read in the world's best literature, reverent and devout in his ministry. He brought to his pulpit an inherent dignity that was neither diminished nor enhanced by his clerical robes. For forty years he ministered to his flock and during that entire time never lost their interest or their esteem. And when he died families mourned as for one of their very own, as did the citizens of the entire community. Jointly they erected the finest memorial in Holy Cross Churchyard to his memory, a splendid granite shaft with suitable inscription. His remains, however, are buried in the Young family plot in St. Cuthbert's Churchyard in Edinburgh.

It was indeed a major step for Mother when she, out of such a background of church and religious affiliation, joined the United Brethern Church at Adaville. She no doubt missed the singing of the Psalms and, at first, the more dignified services of the Scottish church. But Mother was, among other things, one of the most adaptable persons in the world.

In truth, she must have been to make the transition from the refined life of Edinburgh and Chatton to the frontier culture of the western plains. One must recall that she had lived a comparatively sheltered life, had done little, if any, hard physical work, and had enjoyed a social life that possessed many of the amenities of genteel living. Some of the western customs and practices shocked her. For instance, when she first saw American women chewing gum, she was horrified, thinking they were chewing tobacco. She never liked gum-chewing from that day forward. Houses on the prairie were generally rather poorly constructed and inadequately furnished; and water had to be carried from the well. There was no inside plumbing; laundry had to be done by hand, and bread-baking was a regular chore. The youngsters of this modern age, when we light our houses with the press of a button, can hardly appreciate the work required to keep kerosene lamps filled and cleaned.

And, too, the farm wife was responsible for the vegetable garden and poultry. Since eggs and chickens were among the principal items of food for the family, the latter was no small task. Hogs were butchered during all seasons of the year, except the summer when the weather was too hot. That meant the rendering of the lard and fixing of the meat for storage. And, at least once a year, a steer was killed to afford variety to the meat menu. Jams and jellies were made during the fruit season and were stored in crock jars for keeping. Orchards were few and the variety of fruits very limited. In the autumn, Mother usually bought some baskets of Concord grapes, a favorite of hers, and made several glasses of jelly.

An old Singer sewing machine was a prized possession. How early she secured it, I do not know, but it saved many a weary stitch by hand and no doubt assured at least one extra dress for each of the three girls a year. But clothes were limited for us all---a suit (short pants until thirteen or fourteen years of age) for the boys every three years, and then only if the old one was outgrown or badly worn. Overalls and cotton shirts were for every-day wear and, when well cleaned and pressed, might serve for the lesser social events. These informal clothes were considered quite suitable throughout the community; in fact, a tendency on the part of any family to "dress up" was frowned upon by certain elements and might win for itself the damning verdict; "Proud and high hat"!


The lack of school facilities must have been one of Mother's chief concerns. Coming from a background of scholarly achievement, she no doubt craved the same for her own. But instead she found an ungraded school system, poorly trained teachers and an utter lack of challenging reading material. Teachers were often scarcely more advanced than some of their older pupils, and discipline, especially when the older boys, during the winter season, attended school, was sometimes entirely lacking. Only the very young were present for the full term; at ten or eleven they were taken out to help with work on the farm.

The old one-room school houses in Iowa were wooden structures usually about thirty feet long and sixteen wide, with a row of double seats on either side and a pot-bellied stove in the center. The teacher's desk in the front of the room was backed by a full-length blackboard across the wall. A large Webster's dictionary either occupied a special stand or lay on the corner of the teacher's desk. And, if the district was flourishing financially, a globe and maps, attached to spring roller, were usually available. These latter features were used at the discretion of the teacher---not too often, I fear. A few children's books were arranged on the teacher's desk or shelved in a corner of the room. Favorites were Aesop's Fables, Alice in Wonderland perhaps some of the Alger books and a smattering of others. It was pretty thin fare, and soon read by the ambitious pupil.

Reading, Writing and Arithmetic were the fundamental subjects, supplemented with courses in Geography and History. Spelling Bees were held on Friday Afternoon and tests, covering all subjects, were given at regular intervals. Scientific grading was really unknown, a pupil's progress determined by the reader he was using at the time fifth, sixth, seventh, etc.. And, unfortunately, the child was often forced to repeat the same material year after year.

But it must be said in defense of the country schools that their readers contained better material than their present-day counterparts. The well-known McGuffey Eclectic Readers contained many choice selections from the writings of the best American and English authors, none of the trivial materials so much in vogue today. Most members of our family missed the period of the McGuffey books but benefited from the Swinton series of readers, which, though hardly the equal of their renowned forebears, were considered their quite satisfactory successors. And, too, Mother encouraged the reading of several books in our own home.

Real libraries, of course, were almost unknown in the rural communities; most folk thought a good book not worth it's cost. However, that very paucity of books may have made us more appreciative of the few we had. How much we looked forward to the receipt of Chatterbox, a collection of tales of real life and high adventure, at Christmas time. And still, in memory's ear, I can hear either Father or Mother reading aloud in the long winter evenings stories of far away places and of people who belonged to another world. Such is the magic of literature; it lifts us out of our narrow environs into a world of wonder and excitement. And for this we should be duly thankful.

I remember well a revolving bookcase that occupied an important place in the family sitting room. It contained no more than thirty books, I'm sure, but they were books of substance The Wide, Wide World, a popular novel of that day; In Darkest Africa, a thrilling account of David Livingstone's trek through the continent of Africa, and his discovery after many months of silence, by Henry M. Stanley, and the poems of Sir Walter Scott, a wedding gift to our parents. The latter is one of the most prized volumes in our library. Mother used every device to encourage our reading of them and other good books that came our way.

Malcolm Brodie, a neighbor who lived in the Crathorne neighborhood, was always an interesting character to me. He was a Scot who, as a young man, had gone to the Far East to serve one of the large British Importing Companies as a tea-taster. Because of that experience, he was an interesting conversationalist and, in my mind, of some importance. One day, when I was a mere lad, Mother took me to the Brodie home for a visit. Two things impressed me---a fine cup of tea served in beautiful dishes and a small bookcase filled with the English classics. Mr. Brodie took on an enlarged stature in my mind at that time, and I never had reason to change my opinion of him.

I'm quite sure that Mother never expected any of us to become scholars but, like all mothers, must have had dreams. She was fully aware of our limited opportunities, but insisted that we take advantage of them, such as they were. The old Le Mars Normal School, later Western Union, and still later Westmar College, welcomed at least four of the brood to its halls for one or more winter sessions----Jessie and Jack, Mary and Catherine. I, the youngest of the lot and of least value on the farm, took the seventh and eighth grades in the Hawthorne School, Leeds, Sioux City; my high school work in Leander Clark College Academy, and two years of work in the College, at Toledo, Iowa. Then I went on to the University of Chicago for two years undergraduate and a limited amount of graduate study. For all of this, I owe a never-repayable debt to Mother. She was indeed my guardian angel.


The temptation here is to introduce too much detail into this narrative. Across the backdrop of memory flit faces and scenes that might well merit a page or more, but space and brevity must be considered. A Thumbnail sketch of the village itself, however, is justifiable.

The crossroads hamlet was named for a comely young lady of the community called "Ada". It never included more than a general store, a blacksmith shop and, for a brief time, a farm machinery outlet in connection with the store----all on the corner. The Adaville church was built perhaps four hundred yards to the east and the district school a half-mile west. For a brief period there was a Woodman of the World lodge and dance hall a quarter-mile south of the store. It was rather frowned upon by a substantial element in the district because beer, and occasionally hard liquor, were dispensed at many of the dances. The store was a gathering place for the youth of the community, especially on Saturday nights.

For several years, Adaville boasted a United States Post Office. Prior to its establishment sometime in the mid 1890's our family mail came through the Le Mars Post Office, fifteen miles distant. That meant, of course, infrequent pick-ups, often only at two-week intervals. Waiting for news from "home" was one of the worst trials the frontier family had to endure. But when collected what a mental and emotional feast! There were precious letters, and magazines, the golden strands that kept alive the ties of friends and loved ones. All were savored more than once to assure that no tidbit of news was missed. After Grandmother Currie's death in 1894, Aunt Kate Pringle became Mother's chief correspondent in Britain. A weekly exchange of letters between the two sisters for more than fifty-five years must have established some kind of record. And they were newsy letters, not just formalities. Other members of her own and Father's families continued to write, but at less frequent intervals.

When the Adaville Post Office was established, mail was collected more frequently, but certainly not every day. One of the earliest carriers was a Mr. Taute who, with his rather numerous family, lived in a small house across the road and slightly east of the old Simpson place. For his round-trip to Le Mars, some thirty-five miles, he received the handsome salary of eighty-four cents per day. (This point should be verified, but my memory tells me it is so). Rural Free Delivery of mail in Plymouth County began in 1902, a real boon to families living in isolated areas. A daily newspaper began to have meaning for the farming community. Prior to this time, Father had subscribed to The Toledo Blade and the old Chicago Interocean, both weeklies. The first daily to come to our house was The Sioux City Tribune, and I surmise that members of the family still receive the paper. I'm sure that the Tribune solicitor must have been first on the job or Father would have subscribed to The Sioux City Journal, a more conservative paper with political and economic views that more nearly matched his own.

The British magazines came more or less regularly to our home in the early days---The Sphere and The Graphic, both minted in London, well edited and richly illustrated with photographs and pen sketches. To the young American mind, they were works of art. If present-day readers are led to believe that Proctor and Gamble were the first to advertise a soap that floats, I would remind them that the Pear's Company of Britain advertised such a soap in the 1880's and 1890's under their own name. The Graphic, I remember, published complete lists, with photographs, of all British Casualties during the Boer War in South Africa in 1899 and 1900. How carefully our parents scanned those lists and how often they were saddened to read of the death of a Northumberland or Scottish volunteer whose family they had known.

The first rural telephone line in our district was erected in 1904, an untold blessing in many ways, but also at times, an annoyance. The number of subscribers on any one segment of the line varied from six to twelve, each assigned a certain number of rings---one short and one long, etc. All on any segment could call everyone else on that segment without the necessity of going through "central", and everyone could listen at any time. There was, naturally, much clandestine listening, especially by those folk who delighted in every morsel of community gossip. Certainly the rural telephone was hardly suited to the conducting of private business or family matters. But the plus features far outweighed the negative; the telephone was indeed a blessing, saving many a weary mile of travel and providing a sense of security in time of illness.

Bathrooms were almost unknown in farm homes in Northwest Iowa until the early 1900's and rather uncommon until the 1920's. Before that time, the Saturday night ablutions were performed before the kitchen range, a ritual that most, if not all, families observed regularly. It was also at that time that windmills and water storage tanks and reservoirs began to appear. Pipes had to be laid six feet below the surface to guard against winter freezing.

Our windmill, one of the early ones, was erected in 1895, and the water pipes to cistern and feed lots laid about 1900, These improvements seem insignificant today but then they were important marks of progress, harbingers of a brighter tommorrow for folks on the farm.


The people of Northwest Iowa were a polyglot mixture of nationalities and races. Most, however, were directly from, or were descendants of people who had come from, Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, etc., etc.,. There were a few Frenchmen, fewer Italians and an occasional Jew. On the average, they were honest and energetic. Most had come with little, or no, capital and had to make their own way from "scratch" with no help from family or friends.

The one exception was the English colony that had gathered in the 1870's in and around Le Mars. Many of them were scions of wealthy families, young men who had become involved in escapades, often harmless but embarrassing to their parents. Some were sorely addicted to the use of liquor, while others were mere playboys whose parents hoped would be challenged to get on their own and do something worthwhile. These hopes were sometimes realized, but not often.

For their special trade, a saloon known as the "House of Lords" was set up by one of their more enterprising members. It became the place of rendezvous for weekly, often daily, gatherings of the "Clan", and often the scene of wild and hilarious parties. Several of the men paid Captain Morton $600.00 to teach them farming. They, like some college students, were more interested in "recess" and lunch than in the labor of learning, so spent many more hours in the "House of Lords" than in the fields.

These Englishmen soon became known as "remittance men" because they lived on checks received from "home" at regular intervals. Failure to receive the allotted sum at the regular time caused consternation not only to the men themselves but also to their creditors, chief of whom was the saloon keeper. In time Captain Morton's "School of Farming" closed, the remittance men either returned to Britain or went to work to support themselves. The colony disappeared.

Father had little or nothing to do with these men. He had come independently, was on his own and had little use for their frivolities. Their polo team, for instance, was for men of money and leisure, and he had little of either in the early days. The polo team, it should be noted, was an inspiration of the Cope brothers who organized the colony in the first place. They were fine men and must be given credit for what they did to develop the County of Plymouth. Unfortunately one of the Cope brothers was killed in a polo game between Le Mars and Sioux City. That ended the game as far as Le Mars was concerned.

There were, of course, other English families that were made of sterner stuff than the remittance men---the Frys and the Marshes, to name two at this point. Mr. Marsh had some of the characteristics of the playboy but was also a man of substance who, with his wife (formerly a Miss Statter of Sioux City) and son, Essex, lived in the Milnerville community. His farm was well-equipped with fine house and barns, and he developed quite a reputation as a breeder of fine sheep.

Mr. and Mrs. Fry, I believe, came from England to America about the same time as our parents. There were six children Gladys, Maude, Winifred, Ursula, Violet, and Waldon. All are still living, except Waldon, most of them still in Plymouth County. They were a hard-working, thrifty family, a credit to the district.

The English family most intimate with our parents were the Simpsons. William Dean (Billy) Simpson was a son of Mr. and Mrs. B. W. Simpson, of London. The elder Simpson was a successful lawyer, a man of character and fine ability. Desiring the best for their family, Mr. and Mrs. Simpson sent Billy to Rugby and a second son, Cyril, to Oxford. The latter was perhaps the better student, but neither son took his educational training too seriously and before long both were in trouble with their mentors, and failed to graduate. Not only were they light of heart and fancy-free, but both became addicted to the use of liquor. As a last resort, the father sent Billy to America in the 1880's, hoping he'd reform and settle down. It wasn't long before he fell in love with an English-born girl, Miss Smith, whose family lived in the Owens community, and they were married. They moved immediately to the farm his father had purchased for them directly across the road from the Tindalls.

If Billy Simpson was a failure as a student he was more so as a farmer. At first he hardly knew a fork from a hoe; weeds, he knew, were a menace to good crops but he lacked the will to eradicate them. He kept the family cow tied to the front porch where she was always handy for milking. Regularity was of no importance to him in the performance of that chore. Any time would do, whenever there was a need of the precious fluid. That of course didn't suit "bossy". Needless to say, his farming venture came to a sad ending and the family moved to Merrill in the middle nineties. Times were sometimes hard for the Simpsons, their limited income no doubt often bolstered by a check from England.

Mr. Simpson's ineptitude was a trial to Father who liked order and a willingness to work, and wanted at least some results from every enterprise. It's perhaps unjust to say that Billy was lazy, so let's just say that he was out of his element on the farm. And he was a most likable person, a delightful companion and a joy to the children, with his unbounded humor and never empty bag of tricks. He played the organ and piano with a certain measure of skill and much gusto. His repertoire included numbers ranging from the latest music hall ditties to Balfe, Sullivan and Brahms. We children watched with amazement his performance on an old organ, especially his manipulation of the little finger on his right hand which had been stiffened in a childhood accident. He never missed a note. And we enjoyed to the full his vocal rendering of such pieces as "The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo", and "Climbing Up The Golden Stairs". On one memorable occasion, he had as his guest a Mr. Filson, at that time one of America's best-known theatrical performers and the man most responsible for popularizing Harris's "After The Ball", one of the best loved ballads of the century.

Shortly after moving to Merrill Mr. Simpson became a section hand on the Illinois Central Railroad, and rose in a short time to the position of boss over a group of workmen. The Company had little but praise for his services and was, along with the entire community, shocked by his tragic death in July of 1914. Riding on his faithful handcar on an inspection tour of his section, he was caught by the Illinois Central "Flyer" on the trestle at the north edge of Merrill and was hurtled through the air to his death. Our family had lost a good friend.

Mrs. Simpson was a much loved woman; she possessed a heart that responded to every call for help without thought of self and did a tremendous amount of good. She bore four children----Cecil in 1882, Elsie a few years later, Evelyn in 1889 and Amelia in the late 1890's.

In March 1903 she came to our home to help nurse Father who had been operated on on the fifth of the month. She remained for about three weeks, caught a severe cold and returned to her Merrill home on a rather raw day. She went directly to bed, developed pneumonia and in two weeks was dead0 That was a terrible blow to her family and a severe shock to us. Life for the Simpsons was never the same again; Billy was lost; she had been the balance wheel of the family.

Then, as if one tragedy were not enough, Evelyn was struck by lightning and killed in November of the same year. That nearly finished Mr. Simpson and numbed the entire family. She was a young girl of fourteen, happy and full of life. Her future lay before her; her prospects were bright. But "in the twinkling of an eye" she was gone. I didn't attend her funeral, but Adam was a pallbearer. Amelia, a victim of rheumatic fever at a very tender age, passed away in the early 1900's. Cecil, I think, reached his fifties, and Elsie, now Mrs. Shives, still resides in Fort Dodge.


The Jarvises, already mentioned in this story, were true natives, right from the Missouri Ozarks. Malachi had served for ninety days in the Union Army during the Civil War and for his patriotic services was given a Federal pension. It was no doubt a substantial portion of their limited income. He was a little, wiry man, with straggly beard and tangled hair. He was more mechanic than farmer and thoroughly delighted when pottering with an old clock or sewing machine. He was of a perverse nature, inclined to work in the fields when the weather was stormy and loaf in the shade when it was fine. He was anything but neat but, because the women folk insisted, he was usually in clean clothes. However, the same could not be said for his beard. A weakness for chewing tobacco made it an unsanitary adjunct to his face.

He was, I suppose, more tolerated than appreciated by his neighbors, and a tendancy to stretch the truth didn't help in this regard. His tales were more than "twice told"; in fact, he had told them so often they had, for him, become the gospel truth. One I remember well: He was driving four horses hitched to a three-box wagon along a road at the top of a hundred-foot cliff. Everything was going along beautifully until a dog or rabbit, skittering through the grass, frightened the horses. They lunged to the edge of the bluff, then leaped into the abyss below, taking wagon, driver and all. It was something to arouse the envy of the man on the flying trapeze. The four horses landed on their feet, the wagon upright with Jarvis, our hero, still sitting upright on the spring-seat and holding a tight rein, ready to continue the drive at a "lower level". On an earlier occasion, Father and Mr. Simpson checked his stories and found that he must already be 138 years old. He probably didn't know that they had checked the time element but that would have made no difference to Jarvis, for he was an inveterate story-teller, called by some inconsiderate folk, a "constitutional liar". However, because he was a victim of his own myths, Mr. Jarvis was easily forgiven. And he did contribute a bit of mirth to many a dreary day.

The distaff side of the Jarvis family was just as amusing. Juliet was a good mate for Malachi and her sister, Sarah Anne, a perfect complement to herself. Both were built on the same lines---spare of limb and frail as an aspen. They were soft-spoken under ordinary circumstances but, when tired or angry, their voices took on the sharp ring of metal and they commanded attention and respect. Juliet usually addressed her husband as "Jarvis" and, on occasion, gave the poor man a tongue-lashing that would do credit to a Simon Lagree. But these outbursts were few, so the old man led a tolerable existence.

Sarah Anne was something of a mystery. Folk knew there was a "Mr. Laycock", but what he did and where he lived were never clear---until Edward Thomarson, a neighbor, decided that he was losing hay from a stack in the meadow and must do something about it. So one night he hid himself under the hay and waited. About midnight, a wagon drew up alongside the stack, a man jumped off and began to pitch hay into the vehicle. Then Mr. Thomarson appeared. The culprit, now thoroughly shaken, was Mr. Laycock. He apologized and no charges were pressed. But that midnight escapade led to the disclosure of the fact that he had indulged in such pastimes before and, while away, had been a non-paying guest at one of the State's major institutions. I'm not sure that this story was ever verified, but it was common gossip among the neighbors.

Neither the Jarvises or Laycocks had children but evidently wanted some. Their desire became known when the Fullers, near neighbors, allowed their little girl, Myra, to spend a short time in the Jarvis home. By some mental quirk, the Jarvises were sure that she had been given to them and were loath to give her up when the Fullers insisted that she return home. This experience led to hard feelings and it's doubtful if the Fullers were ever fully forgiven.

I have a faint recollection of attending, with Mother, a choir rehearsal at the Jarvis home. Will Hamilton seemed to be in charge and, I believe, furnished the transportation. It was dark when we arrived, very dark under the trees, and I immediately, upon getting out of the vehicle, rolled into an old, abandoned well. Needless to say, I was badly scared but otherwise none the worse for the experience. It was a cold night and I, while the singers rehearsed in the sitting room, sat with Mr Jarvis in the kitchen and watched him stoke the kitchen stove with hanks of hay. These hanks were all neatly twisted and stored in the woodbox. One can hardly imagine the amount of hay required to keep the house comfortable. We considered cobs bad enough, never used hay. That was a bit too much.

It was, I suppose, in the late nineties that the Jarvises and Mrs. Laycock determined to pay a visit to their old home in the Ozarks. Driving a bay team, Bird and Pet, and leading Queen, a white, or cream-colored, mare at the tail gate, the three worthies covered some four or five hundred miles in a matter of several weeks. It must have been a real adventure but one that satisfied a yearning to revisit the scenes of their childhood. Mr. Jarvis returned with a hole in his hat which he said was caused by a bullet from a highwayman's gun. Another story he added to his repertoire.

On their return, they settled in the hills near Milnerville. They were all showing their age and pulmonary difficulties were affecting Juliet and Sarah Anne. The last time I saw the ladies was on a Sunday afternoon when Mother, Jessie, and I drove to their home. In a modest house lost among the Broken Kettle hills, the aging trio were under the care of Clara Brazil, a niece. The patient (and I can't remember whether it was Mrs. Jarvis or Mrs Laycock) lay, her face as white as a sheet, her breathing heavy and labored, on a cast iron bed. It was a wee, bare room with little to suggest opulence or comfort, but it was clean. And the western window was aglow with sunshine, and outside birds were singing in the scattered trees. We remained for about two hours. Mother did what she could to cheer the solemn household and, before leaving offered a heartfelt prayer, and Jessie sang a familiar hymn.

A few days later, the patient died and was quickly followed in death by her sister. Mr. Jarvis lived on, a lost individual without his Juliet, a sorrowful figure until his death a few years later.

I don't suppose Mother had very many things in common with the Jarvises. They were a peculiar family. But to Mother they were human beings with hearts and souls, and they had been kind to her when she needed guidance in a new and strange land and had, for a little while, furnished her a home. She was never one to forget kindnesses; she had a responsive heart. And folks loved her for it.


If Mother were writing this narrative, she would probably say that she found her best friends within the circle of the Adaville church. Whom she would place at the head of the list, I cannot say, but I'm sure that James and Susan Stinton would be near the top. They were a devoted pair and devout members of the church. They had, I think, three children---the first a daughter who married a neighbor, George Brown, and died when very young, another daughter who married Phineas Oaks, and Edward who married Mae Morehead and lived in a house adjoining his parents. The senior Stintons continued to live on the old home place, a quarter mile west of the Adaville store, until 1900 or 1901, then retired to Akron where they died a few years later. Edward stayed on the farm until about 1915 with his family, then he also moved to Akron. All members---James and Susan, Edward and Mae---are buried at Adaville.

Other family names that come to mind are the Fletchers, Bristows, Browns, Poysers, Kings and Moreheads. All played at least a minor role in Mother's early Iowa years, especially the Browns. Amy, the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Brown, married Jack Tindall on June 28, 1905. Their seven children are now living in Iowa, Missouri and California. Amy was a splendid person and greatly loved by Mother. Both she and Jack were most kind to her. Amy died on January 5. 1951. and rests in the Adaville Cemetery.

Their marriage was the first in our family and was a most important event. They brought back, to perform the ceremony, a former pastor of the Adaville Church, the Reverend D. W. Swender, Aunt Kate Currie Pringle, of Scotland, played the wedding march and other suitable music on the reed organ in the Brown's sitting room where the ceremony was held. Adam Tindall and Alice Brown were groomsman and bridesmaid. The night was a bit less than auspicious, with a fairly heavy rain falling, some lightning and an occasional roll of thunder. But that didn't detract from the gaiety of the occasion, or dim the future that lay ahead for the newly-weds.

Another family that became active in the Adaville church in the early 1900's were the Johnsons. John and Ellen Magdalene Overmeyer Johnson settled a mile and a half northeast of our parents in 1882. There was soon some visiting back and forth between our own and their families. This increased as the children grew up and developed common interests. Herbert Arrenenine their eldest son, was born November 15, 1877 and grew up to be a young man of character and ability, displaying more than an average skill in the mechanical field and an interest in things far removed from the realm of farming. He had a probing mind and read in many fields outside that of Agriculture.

On October 2, 1905, he and Jessie Young Tindall were married in the old Tindall home. It was a bright, sunshiny day, with the haze of Indian Summer hanging in the sky, and the gold of autumn decking tree and shrub. Mary was bridesmaid and George Robertson, a long-time and tested friend of Herb's, best man. A day or two following the ceremony, the bridal couple left on their honeymoon trip to California. Mother, I know, was well pleased with the marriage and always held Herb Johnson in high and affectionate regard.

George Robertson also became interested in the Adaville Church when the Johnsons did, soon joined and, later, became a Sunday School teacher. A bit of his history may be interesting. He was born at Blairgowrie, in Perthshire, Scotland on February 29, 1877 and came to America in 1894. It was during the recession of 1893-94 and work was very scarce. Landing in Le Mars on an autumn day, he struck out on foot to look for farm work, taking the old Sixth Street road. Before long he met Herb Johnson and his father. They told him to go to their place and wait until they returned home in late afternoon. This he did and that evening was employed. Soon he was more than a farm hand, an accepted member of the family. It marked the beginning of a real friendship between him and Herb which lasted until George's death in Santa Monica, California, on June 29, 1944.

Mother, a Scot herself, soon developed a regard for George and was not, I think, disappointed when more than a casual interest developed between him and Mary. This interest led to marriage at the old home on February 27, 1907. At school in Toledo and unable to attend, I don't have all the details of their marriage. They went to housekeeping on the old "Manny" Mann farm, adjoining the Johnsons on the north, the place now occupied by Rollin J. and Mary Clark Tindall and family. A little later they moved to the Tindall farm across from the school. And in 1917 they moved to the old Carrington farm at the outskirts of Le Mars. Their later married years were spent in Reeder, North Dakota and Santa Monica, California.

Nor was Mother displeased at all when Adam chose Elizabeth, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Grebner of near Merrill, for his bride. They married in March, 1912, came to Toledo for their honeymoon and then settled down on the Tindall home farm. Never, I think, was Northwest Iowa blanketed with a heavier fall of snow than on their wedding day. Jack, Amy and family upset their sleigh in one of the deepest drifts. The Minister of the German Methodist Church, to which the Grebners then belonged, performed the ceremony and I sang, unaccompanied, "Love’s Old Sweet Song". Adam and Lizzie lived at "Broomhouse" (the Tindall home farm) until their only living son, Adam Junior (Buster), married Helen Buryanek, of Westfield, at Christmas time in 1956. They then divided their time between Akron and Atkinson, Nebraska, where they had farming interests.

Catherine Currie Tindall married James Oleson, of Lemmon, South Dakota in 1912, and from thence forward lived in that community. Mother and I first saw James when he brought a shipment of cattle to the Chicago market in the spring of 1913, and were both favorably impressed. He was a man of high ideals, straightforward and energetic.

Nine Grace Salzman and I were married on June 9, 1914, in the home of her parents in Toledo, Iowa. Mother had first met Nina in the early part of the year 1911, liked her as a girl and was delighted with her musical ability. This later developed into a deep love between the two and never lessened throughout the rest of Mother's life. Nina and I both consider Mother's memory one of our most precious heritages.


There were hazards on the western prairie beside those of fire and grasshoppers. This fact was driven home in January of 1888 when perhaps the worst blizzard the Middle West ever experienced struck with a mighty fury. (This should not be confused with the violent blizzard that ravaged the East Coast in March of the same year.)

The weather had been comparatively mild. Snow covered the ground but there were few drifts. With the larder somewhat depleted and the ever-present yearning for mail in their hearts, Father and Mother decided that he should go to Le Mars. The morning was sharp and clear. As the sun scaled the eastern horizon, Father, with Bob and Dexter hitched to the sleigh, started on the long trek to the County Seat, planning to be home again shortly after dark. He reached town by noon, stabled his horses in the livery barn and ate his dinner at the Wilters Hotel. By one o'clock, he was at the grocery store ordering supplies, then stopped at the First National Bank to take care of some business matters, called on old Mr. Condon to repair a harness and at the blacksmith shop to leave a plow share for sharpening. Things were working out just fine. He'd pick up the mail when ready to leave for home.

But then he looked at the western sky. A black and ominous pall hung like a curtain just above the horizon, and gusts of wind announced a change in the weather. There was no time for more shopping. He quickly got the team and sleigh from the livery stable, picked up his groceries and called for the mail. It was then three o'clock; it would be dark very early.

By the time he passed the Richardson home at the west edge of town on the Sixth Street road, a heavy wind was blowing and snow flurries were in the air. But visibility was still good and landmarks clear. And, if the storm really worsened, there would be fences to mark the way for the first few miles; but what would happen when darkness fell and there were no more fences? Only time would tell.

By four o'clock, a sullen darkness had fallen on the land, the wind was rising and all points of reference had been lost. Direction now must be left to the instincts of the horses. Father didn't know where he was. He, standing in the sleigh, could turn his face from the western blasts, but the poor horses had to face it; they were nearly blinded by the ice and snow. The temperature had now reached zero and the once soft snow flakes had become pellets of ice as sharp as a well-honed razor. Time soon lost its meaning and distances could only be guessed. In the impenetrable blackness of the night, Father's only thoughts were of Mother and the children at home, and of his own chances of survival.

Thinking to ease the load of the horses, he unhitched them from the sleigh and started to drive them on foot. But not for long; they soon tumbled into a creek bed. Father, having extricated himself, then decided that he must leave the horses to fend for themselves, while he struck out to find help and shelter. Surely he must have been guided by Providence, for in less than a half-hour he saw a light and, upon reaching its source, found that he had stumbled to the doorway of the John Johnson home. They took him in, thawed out his half- frozen limbs and gave him warm food. But he still had a mile and a half to travel before he reached home where he knew Mother would be frantically awaiting his return.

Mother, too, had been surprised by the swift onset of the storm. Before it reached its greatest violence, she, with the help of Jessie and Jack, then seven and six years respectively, took care of the chores. With the fall of darkness, she placed a lamp in the window. There was panic in her heart, but this she must not show to the children. (I've heard it said she turned gray during that one night). Through the agonizing hours that followed, she kept calm and serene.

Father, at the Johnson home, insisted on starting for home as soon as he was thoroughly warm, but Mr. Johnson would not let him go alone; the danger of freezing was too great. So accompanied by Pete Woll, the hired man, as far as the Jarvis place, Mr. Johnson and Father began their hard walk through the storm and, just within an hour, caught sight of the light Mother had placed in the window. Never was home sweeter or hearts more grateful; for them the "Blizzard of '88" was over, except for the poor horses. They were found the next morning, cold but otherwise none the worse for their harrowing experience.


The hazard most feared by settlers, outside of prairie fires, grasshoppers, blizzards and floods, was illness. The nearest doctor was ten miles away; there were no telephones, no rapid mail service; roads were often impassable in the winter time. Home remedies had to suffice and risks were taken that would be unthinkable today. Adam was the one member of our family, I believe, who was susceptible to croup. I remember, when a mere lad, hearing his rasping cough that usually came on in the night. With amazing speed, Mother was at his side administering such medication as was on hand. Then there were the times when Jack suffered agonies with a felon (his finger is stiff to this day), and later on, when he broke his arm; when Adam was threatened with Bright's disease, and I, evidently having little or nothing to do in school, stuck a piece of chalk into my ear. Each of us required a doctor's services; long trips were necessary. Of course each of us was victim of the usual run of childhood---diseases chicken pox, measles, etc..

A series of visits by Dr. Clark in 1896-97 should have warned us that all was not well with Mother. But she was always cheerful and seldom, if ever, complained. However, things reached a climax in the latter part of the year and she was taken to the Samaritan Hospital in Sioux City for an operation. Things were "touch and go" for a few days until the doctors determined that the growth was not malignant. Then great rejoicing! None of us, I think, realized the vital part Mother played in the life of the family until she was taken away from us for a period of time. Her home-coming was a gala event. Jack even brought his favorite team of horses to her bedroom window to extend their equine greetings.

Unfortunately, a hernia developed shortly after the operation. After much suffering, she was forced to submit to a second operation in March of 1903, that time at home. The surgeon in both instances was Dr. J. N. Warren, of Sioux City, one of the most skilled surgeons in Northwest Iowa.


As children, we took good health for granted. Until Mother's illness in 1897, illness seemed to miss our home. Certainly nothing was ever the matter with Father. But the picture changed in 1902. Perhaps, because I was the youngest member of the family, things may have been withheld from me, that is until one September afternoon when we were stacking hay in the northeast meadow. Father and Jack had been to LeMars and were returning home. When they reached the north end of the Foley eighty, Father alighted from the wagon and came across the field to observe the haying operation. He and Peter Blair entered into earnest conversation for a few minutes and Father continued his walk home. Peter, who was a fixture in various Tindall homes for forty years, then said to us children who were present: "Your Father is a sick man". That was all, but enough to send a chill up my spine.

Before long the telltale marks of disease started to show in his face and on his body. He ate little, often nothing at all, and visits to, or from, Dr. Clark became more frequent. The good doctor had gotten his first automobile, or "horseless carriage", an open, one-seated shining black vehicle that looked more like a buggy than anything else. The crank was on the side and the steering apparatus was a hand lever rather than a wheel, and it had hard rubber tires. It was a never-ending source of wonder to us children and a terrifying monster to the horse population. It traveled about twenty miles per hour at top speed, more than twice as fast as the best horse, but it lacked power on hills and was undependable. I think it was the only auto Father ever saw, and that only through a sick-room window.

It was a trying winter, cold and blustery. Sitting beside the heating stove in the kitchen-dining room, a gnawing pain eating at his "innards", his gaunt figure shrinking with each passing day, he had become a ghost of his former self. On March second, Jack's twenty-first birthday, he made a supreme effort to come to the dining table but was unable to eat but a mouthful. He returned immediately to his corner and never joined the family at a meal again. That afternoon he took to his bed and agreed to an operation which, I'm sure, he knew held little promise.

Dr. Clark contacted Dr. Warren and his son, Dr. Alexis Warren, just returned from graduate study in Paris; Drs. Gilley and Ellis, of Akron. The five of them gathered at our home on Thursday afternoon, March 5, to perform one of the most delicate operations of their careers.

The drama of the situation was not lost on us children. The facilities could scarcely have been more limited lighting was at a minimum, with only kerosene lamps and the feeble rays of the late winter sun filtering through a small west window. Water had to be carried from the well and heated on the kitchen stove, and the operation itself performed on the kitchen table. A trained nurse was not available at the time, so Mary served in that capacity. It must have been a terrifying experience for one so young and utterly lacking in nursing training. But she was brave and more than willing.

The case was diagnosed as "tuberculosis of the bowels". The doctors, of course, knew there was no chance of recovery but didn’t tell us children; they may have told Mother. I do not know. Because of Father's serious condition, Dr. Alexis Warren remained at our place for the ensuing ten days. And within the week a nurse had arrived, a true angel of mercy.

But before her arrival there were two patients in the house, for on Sunday, March 8, Mother was operated on for hernia. The same corps of doctors arrived in early afternoon; the table was again set up, the lamps lighted, the water boiled and the important, but primitive, steps were taken to assure at least a minimum of sterilization. Mary, garbed in a surgeon's gown, was again called upon to act as nurse, and, we are told, performed splendidly.

It was nearly four o'clock when the operation was completed and Mother carried to her bed. Father was in the adjoining bedroom but, I believe, didn't learn of her operation until three weeks later when she visited his room. Certainly he wondered where she was during the period but seemed to be satisfied with the manufactured answers as to her whereabouts.

If Mother had not known just how serious Father's illness was before, she did when she got her first glimpse of him on that occasion. I remember her saying, more to herself than anyone else: "He'll never recover". But her expression didn't impress me particularly---he was still alive and there was hope. It was not until the third week in April that something happened that shook my faith in his ultimate recovery. Jack was hauling grain to Merrill; each evening upon his return, he'd report to Father. One evening I was in the room when the report was made. Jack told Father of the enquiries of old friends as to his condition. "And what did you tell them?", asked father. Jack answered that he told them that he (Father) was getting along fine and would soon be out. "Jack", said Father, his voice as even as it had ever been, "I'11 never get well. This is the end for me".

I never knew how this statement affected Jack, but it struck me dumb, I was all choked up, rushed from the room and had a good cry. From then on I, too, held no hope and, when the hiccoughs racked his frame during the last, terrible ten-day period, I think all of us shared with him his agony. We knew the end was near. Mother’s serene spirit throughout the entire period of his illness was something to admire; she was like the Rock of Gibraltar, a never-ending source of strength to us all.


Death, I suppose, will forever remain a mystery. One day there is life, vibrant life, a person moving about among his friends. He is there to see, to touch, to talk to. He is warm, alert, and the blood is coursing through his veins. There is no thought of death, yet it lies just around the corner.

Of course we know that Father faced death but we were still unprepared for it. It came on a bright May morning, the seventh, to be exact. We were all ushered into his bedroom at seven o'clock; the nurse was still ministering to his needs. He lay white and fragile against the pillows. His breath was labored and he was in a coma. But in half an hour he rallied and we were dismissed to take up our regular duties.

The spring of 1903 was late. Late snows and early rains had delayed work on the farm; we were far behind schedule. Jack, Adam and I had begun to plow the field at the east end of the small pasture Jack with a walking plow, Adam with a two-bottom gang and I with a "sulky". We resumed our labors at eight o'clock that fateful morning. At eleven we caught the faint echo of the dinner bell which was to be our warning signal. We hurried home and again entered the silent chamber where at eleven-forty Father cast off the frail drapings of this earthly life. It was his final release from suffering these many weeks; he looked so calm and peaceful. It was the first time I had seen death at close quarters and I never forgot it.

After a few moments at the bedside, I went outside. The air was clear as crystal, the sky so blue, and across in the meadow those harbingers of morning, the meadowlarks, were singing a joyous song. What a day, I thought, to leave this world; heaven could scarcely be fairer.

But there was much to do. Jack and Peter Blair were soon on their way to Le Mars to make arrangements with the morticians, secure a suitable casket, etc.. Mother, the girls and the nurse did the necessary household chores and laid plans for the ensuing few days. Meals were perfunctory, really of little consequence, for no one wanted to eat; had little appetite. About five o'clock I started across the pasture to bring the cattle home. The beauty of spring lay all around us, and it was so warm, But all this was lost on me, a boy of thirteen faced with a mystery which even the adult mind was unable to comprehend. I did, however, seem to grasp the fact that life for our family would never be the same again and, though we all mourned, Mother was the chief sufferer and would have to assume enlarged responsibilities from that day forward.

It was late evening when Mr. Fissel, the undertaker, arrived. He worked until nearly two in the morning, then left for Le Mars. Daylight came late in the morning. In the night storm clouds had gathered and rain had begun to fall, a heavy rain that worsened by the hour. But nothing could delay the program of preparation. Shortly after dawn, Mother and the three girls left for Le Mars to secure proper mourning clothes---black dresses, hats, gloves and crepe for us boys to be worn on hat band or sleeve. All these items were to be worn for the "official year" of mourning. They also purchased black suits for Adam and me---the first long trousers I ever had.

All day long the rain fell and added a more somber note to the sad occasion, especially the drip, drip, drip with a never changing rhythm, from the eaves. Friends came to offer their condolences and words of encouragement. Other were kept away by the inclement weather. But surely the rain would cease in twenty-four hours and the sun reappear to bring a measure of comfort and cheer. However, that was not to be. All that day (Friday), Friday night, Saturday, Saturday night, Sunday and Sunday night, it never ceased, and by Saturday night, roads were quagmires, the entire countryside a gray blur of mist and darkness. The Broken Kettle Creek was flooded, the water lapping at the feed lots.

The funeral service, set for Monday afternoon, could not be changed. We could only hope for a good day, but the constant patter on the roof all Sunday night convinced us that the hope was in vain. And so it was, with a near cloudburst on Monday forenoon.

I had never attended a funeral before, but had heard how mournful, and sometimes almost ghastly, they were. The dreadful hour of departure came all too swiftly.

From a leaden sky from whence poured an avalanche of water and on roads that had no bottom, friends began to arrive, the only one I remember vividly-------Mrs. James Hamilton who, when greeted by Mother at the door, said: "Mrs. Tindall, you know the old saying, 'Happy is the corpse that the rain falls on.'" I thought if that were true then Father must be happy indeed. Outside the rain was cascading from the roof; inside the modest sitting-room the kerosene lamps were casting an eerie glow (at one o'clock in the afternoon) and the Reverend George Chew took his stance at the head of the casket. He began; "The Lord is my shephard, I shall not want....." One could almost feel the silence. He closed with a prayer; we were ready to leave for the Adaville Church.

That journey was little less than a nightmare for the undertakers and the driver of the hearse. The lumbering vehicle must have weighed nearly a ton, a good weight even for a team on dry roads. The little hill east of the house had not been scaled before the men were putting their shoulders to the rear of the hearse to ease the load for the overburdened horses. They had already traveled the fourteen miles from Le Mars and were tired. The mud reached the axles and soon filled the spaces between the spokes of the wheels. Every hill or rise presented a new challenge. But by two-thirty the cortege had reached the church, the men very tired and the horses in a lather.

Mother had requested a simple service, and that it was. The casket was never opened after leaving the house. The principal scripture was John: fourteen. I thought its lines the most beautiful I'd ever heard: "Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you...." They were majestic and so comforting. Most of the Scripture I remembered from that hour. And if they had meant so much to me, how much more must they have meant to Mother who had heard them so often before?

A mixed quartet---Warren and Abe King and their wives, Birdie and Jennie Poyser King---sang three hymns. One I know was "It Is Better Farther On" and another, I'm quite sure, was "Abide With Me". But time has blurred my memory just a bit and I cannot recall the third.

The service at the church ended just after three. The casket was again borne to the hearse by six stalwart neighbors, and the last quarter mile was begun. At the graveside, Mother and the six of us stood in the rain, now little more than a chill drizzle. The words of comittal, spoken by the minister, seemed to come from a faroff planet; the whole experience seemed more like a dream than anything else. Surely this couldn't be happening to us. But they were very real: "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust " Then with great assurance: I am the resurrection and the life". The last word had been spoken. James Tindall, born in the North of England on a January day in 1851, had found his last resting place in a lovely little cemetery in Northwest Iowa. Lowering clouds had hastened the coming of night; the shades of evening were being drawn. There was only time for a long, last look and a whispered word of farewell. It would be near dark when we reached home.

All I remember of our home-coming is a sense of terrible loneliness and a vague impression that life would never be quite the same again. I'm sure that Mother gathered her "flock" in the dining room during the evening and there read a portion of scripture and offered a prayer. She knew well the source of her strength and could lay hold on things eternal. Through it all, she had proved herself a "brick".


We children never realized the measure of grief endured by Father and Mother in the early years ; they bore much sadness by themselves. We had seen but one uncle and aunt on Father's side, and only three cousins of Mother's, so had formed no close attachment for most members of their families. At the risk of repetition, I am going to list the family deaths during the early years---Father's sister, Eleanor, in 1883; his brother, John, in 1892, and his brother, Thomas, at Hilton, New Zealand, in 1885. Aunt Eleanor and Uncle John are buried in Holy Cross Churchyard at Chatton; Uncle Tom and his wife, Aunt Jane Rutherford Tindall, in Geraldine, New Zealand.

The first death on Mother's side of the family was her Uncle, the Reverend David Young, with whom she had been so closely associated as housekeeper at the Chatton Manse for sixteen years. He died in 1890. Her next, and greatest loss, was her mother in 1894. There were many tears shed when a black-edged letter brought the fateful message. We children soon learned that such a letter always contained bad news. Grandmother Currie had been a widow for thirty-six years. Her passing severed the strongest tie Mother had with Scotland and weakened her desire to return home.

Her Mother's sister "Aunt Copeland", was the third to go. I remember well the day Mother drove past the west field of the old Braun farm and showed Jack, Adam and me the letter telling of her death. Aunt Isabella Tindall Currie, wife of Uncle Robert Currie and Father's sister, passed away at Lenzie, Scotland in 1911. In September 1917, Uncle David Currie passed away at West Manse, Peebles, a victim of anemia. Uncle Robert Currie died in 1919, and Aunt Jessie McLellan in 1924. Mother and Aunt Kate Pringle were the only family members still living, Aunt Kate survived Mother by two years, dying in 1937. Uncle David’s widow, Aunt Leish, had died at Nisbet Hill, home of the David Elliots, the last night of the year 1920.

Of course, there were other sorrows, many never revealed, hidden in the secret places of the heart. There were cherished dreams never fulfilled and desires never satisfied. And there were longings for familiar scenes and the faces of those she loved. But there were no uttered words, no lamentations, no weening or sighing. Life had to be lived from day to day, and how much better to live it with a smile. Mother was a philosophy of cheerfulness----always, "the best is yet to be".


Life on the prairies was not all serious; there were times of joy and laughter as well, times when the spirits were lifted and it was good to be alive. I've already mentioned the happiness brought to our home by "Billy" Simpson, a rollicking giant of a man with a merry laugh, a rich store of tales for children and, always, a song in his heart. His visits in the early days were eagerly anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed.

Another caller was John Phillips, an aging cattle-buyer, who drove a beautiful sorrel horse, Dizzy, named for England's Prime Minister, D’Israeli. He never came to our house without a bag of horehound candy, hidden deep in the pocket of his overcoat, a real treat for us children. Of course, Mother always served him a full meal or a cup of tea.

Then there were the occasional visits from the Weirs, especially James and Alexander, cousins who had come from Scotland in the 1880's. I don't remember James's first wife, Izzy Blair, Peter's sister. She was thoroughly Scotch and possessor of a big heart. She died about 1896, of cancer. She and James are buried side by side in Floyd Cemetery, Sioux City, Iowa. He died in 1925 or '26. Ida Perkins, a Le Mars girl and a delightful person, married Alex in the late 1880's. A victim of asthma, she died in 1914; Alex of old age in the 1940's. Both are buried, along with their elder son, William J. who died near year's end 1961, in the Le Mars Cemetery.

No account of Mother's life would be complete without reference to two Irish families who lived nearby. James Hamilton came from the North of Ireland, lived for awhile in New York and there courted and married Marjorie Arnold. She was a petite little body with a sharp mind and, at times, a sharper tongue. But she was a woman of character. James was short in stature, wore a goatee, had a steady eye and a strong will. He boasted that he was an Orangeman and didn’t always conceal his dislike for the Roman Catholics who had been their mortal enemies in the old country. He naturally had no love for the Foley family, staunch Catholics who had come from the south of Ireland. The two men sometimes clashed.

Because of this inbred hostility, Father sometimes had to act as peacemaker. I remember one such incident when Father may have saved a bloodletting. The three men were repairing the roads (Mr. Hamilton was "road boss" at the time) when a heated argument developed. "Thank God, I'm an Orangeman!" shouted Mr. Hamilton.

"And I thank God that I'm a Roman Catholic", retorted Mr. Foley.

Father quelled that melee before it was well started, but always said that North and South Ireland would never agree. And they haven't; the six northern counties remain loyal to Britain; the southern section of the country now constitutes the Irish Republic.

The Foleys had moved on to the farm a half-mile southwest of the folks in 1882, '83 or '84. Formerly it had been the home of the Lowe family, splendid neighbors, who had moved to The Palms, in Southern California. Father and Mother despaired of ever getting neighbors like the Lowes again. But the Foleys measured up in every way and proved more than satisfactory successors to the Lowes for more than thirty years. They were a large family, several of them gifted with a rare quality of Irish wit, sometimes intentional, sometimes not. An illustration or two will prove the point. The first is a mixture of humor and tragedy. How often they coincide.

It was near dusk at the end of a very hot day. Mother was out in the yard for a breath of fresh air when Bridget, a girl of fourteen, ran into the yard, calling, "Mrs. Tindall! Mrs. Tindall!"

"What's wrong, Bridget? Has something happened?"

"Yes," said Bridget, gasping for breath, "Ma's dead, Mary's dying, and Mr. Henry can't live."

Evidently it was a tragedy of major proportions. Mother quickly extracted from the frightened girl the information that Mr. Henry's team had run away while he was returning Mrs. Foley and her daughter, Mary, to their home after an afternoon's visit with the Henrys. She and Bridget were soon on their way to the Foleys' at a rapid pace. Things were hardly as bad as Bridget had picture them, but bad enough. Mrs. Foley was suffering from shock and concussion, with a terrible gash across the temple and a scar that lasted a lifetime; Mary had a broken leg, and Mr. Henry was badly bruised. The doctor arrived soon after Mother, and took charge. But it was months before any of the three got about in normal fashion again.

Mother's friendship with Mrs. Foley lasted until the latter's death in the late 1920's. To Mrs. Foley, Mother was without fault, except that she was a Protestant! One afternoon, while Mother was spending a few days with her friend in Akron, she attended a Catholic Church bazaar. During the program, a drawing of numbers for a beautiful home-made quilt, was held, and Mother was stunned when she heard her name announced as the winner. Mrs. Foley had bought a number in Mother's name. Mother's Presbyterian-United Brethern conscience was strictly against raffles and lotteries, but the quilt was lovely and a refusal to accept it might be embarrassing. So Mother compromised (or did she?) and, having determined the value of the prize, contributed the sum to the treasury of the church. At times she displayed the wisdom of Solomon.


The last night of the nineteenth century was cold, crisp and clear in Northwest Iowa. The snow, some eight or ten inches deep, glistened like diamonds in the glow of the waning moon before the night was through. With imagination, one was sure he could distinguish the faint outline of the school that lay a mile to the east and pinpoint the grove of maples and elms just across the road. It was a night in which the crafty fox would leave his lair and tread lightly the devious path that led to the henhouse, and the mournful wolf would howl at his shadow.

It was seven-thirty when we heard sleighbells entering our driveway. We children were agog; we expected no company. Mother, like all women, said, "There's nothing in the house to eat." But her worries were unnecessary; the company had brought their own food, and in volume. Seated in the bottom of the bobsled, with heavy overcoats and blankets, were Mr. and Mrs. Edward Stinton and daughter, Neva; Mrs. Orvast Gaston, sister of Mrs. Stinton, her daughters, Rena and Alma, and her sister-in-law, Elytha Morehead (Mrs. Lambert), and others whose names I cannot recall. It was a merry crowd who participated with enthusiasm in a variety of activities---games, charades and a lot of pure fun.

Refreshments were served at eleven o'clock. Reminiscences were exchanged, other New Years recalled and old friends remembered. High against the wall, the old clock ticked off the fateful minutes---eleven-thirty, eleven-forty-five, ten minutes to, five minutes to---. Emotions ran high. This was no ordinary year's end; it was the end of a century; something that no one in the company had ever seen before and none would witness again. Rather sobering, of course, but not enough to dampen the enthusiasm of the hours. A new century lay ahead, a century that all hoped would be brighter and better than the one just ending.

It was one minute to twelve; the ghosts of a hundred years were skipping like moonbeams across the snow-clad hills. It was the "witching hour." The old clock seemed to hesitate, then chimed: one, two, three........eleven, twelve! Shotgun fire could be heard in the distance. Someone was already ringing the dinner bell at the door. In time everyone had had his turn, sometimes turning the heavy instrument completely over. It's sound must have carried for more than a mile in the frosty air. "Old pup", our ancient canine, had sought shelter under a bed and other dogs throughout the neighborhood were howling in protest against the unearthly noise. Mrs. Gaston, I believe, was the first and last to ring the bell; she was fascinated by its tone and was moved, I'm sure, by the import of the occasion. The celebration lasted a full half-hour, then all entered the house again and, with Mother at the organ, joined in singing "Auld Lang Syne". It was indeed a night to remember, a memory to cherish.


Within three years following that eventful night, Father had gone to his reward; within five years, both Jack and Jessie were married and living in their own homes. Mary and Catherine were married in little more than seven years; Adam was operating the home farm and I, after completing the eighth grade at Leeds, was at Toledo for high school training in Leander Clark College Academy. It was a fine example of how swiftly and radically the life of a family can change, the old order never to be reestablished----the "ever-whirling wheel of change, to which all mortal things doth sway."

None of us sensed the great changes taking place as did Mother. Her responsibilities had multiplied with Father’s death. There were business matters he had taken care of, decisions he had always made. Jack, of course, was her strong right arm and helped her in a hundred ways. He joined her in the management of the Simpson farm for Mr. Simpson in London. They continued this service, as Father had done, for several years, without charge. She was also fortunate in having the services of Peter Blair, a friend tried and true who lived with the Tindall family between 1900 and 1939. In September of the latter year he died in the home of Jack and Amy, near Le Mars, and is buried in the Adaville Cemetery.

In early 1904, Mother screwed up her courage and bought a driving horse and phaeton for her own use. Topsy was a cream-colored mare, gentle as a lamb and always ready to do the bidding of her mistress. For the ensuing few years, Mother, Topsy and the phaeton were familiar sights on the highways and byways of the community. The family was a bit fearful when Mother began driving for the second time, but fears were allayed after watching her performance with the reins and noting the gentle disposition of her steed.


No doubt everyone of us children exchanged confidences with Mother, who had an understanding mind and heart. Those were moments when life’s deeper meanings were discussed and some of the mysteries exposed, if not resolved. Even as wee children, she told us more than fairy tales, of far away places and folk worth knowing about. And how often she spoke of "home", and those she loved so dearly. Her descriptions were vivid, so vivid in fact that when I saw those places and people many years later I seemed to have seen them before. She had a sharp memory and was able to recreate the experiences of her childhood and youth in a graphic manner. How often, when I was a mere toddler, she took me to bed with her and unfolded bit by bit the story of her life. Then, just as I was slipping into slumber and before she would carry me to my own bed, she would whisper one of the psalms and recite the Lord's Prayer. They were moments more precious than gold, yes, than much fine gold.

Then, when I was older and better able to understand, she spoke of life and its meaning, of a man's work and his responsibility. She emphasized the importance of character, of kindness and respect for the rights of others. Like her fellow-countryman, Robert Burns, she recognized the worth of every human being, and saw in him the handiwork of God.

One day in the summer of 1910, she and I took a rather long drive. The weather was warm, not hot; the corn had been "laid-by" and there was a lull in farm activities. Overhead an azure blue sky stretched from horizon to horizon; rain was needed, but crops were not suffering. Our destination was the Hamilton farm, a few miles south of Adaville. We arrived at eleven o'clock, had dinner at twelve and spent a pleasant afternoon visiting with Mrs. Hamilton and her son, Joe, who lived with her, and with Will and Daisy and family who lived in an adjoining house. It was the last time I ever saw Mrs. Hamilton, Will or Daisy. Mrs. Hamilton died within a year, Will not many years later, while Daisy spent several years as a widow in Merrill.

At four o'clock we started home. Our conversation had to do with the experiences of the afternoon and the long-time friendship between the Hamiltons and ourselves. We had just about exhausted those subjects when Mother said, "Robert, I sometimes wonder about your religious faith. Just what are your beliefs?"

She had never addressed me so pointedly on the subject before, so I was somewhat taken aback. "Of course," I answered, "some of my early concepts have changed in a measure, but the great truths remain the same. I'm not so literal in my interpretations as I once was, but the essence of the whole Bible story is just as beautiful, wonderful and impressive as it ever was and, I believe, more meaningful."

I had recently read Weatherford's The Christian Life, A Normal Experience, and told her of his interpretation: that man is naturally religious and forever seeking a higher power, a being in whom he can put his trust and in whom he can have an abiding faith.

"I suppose we all change our beliefs in a measure as we grow older," said Mother. "I hardly see things as I did when a girl. In fact, the whole Christian way of life has taken on a larger meaning during my adult years, changed somewhat but fundamentally the same where the great truths are concerned."

"I agree. In fact, my creed has become very simple----faith in God, in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the workings of the Holy Spirit in the lives of men. And, of course, we must earnestly endeavor to live according to Christ's teachings."

"That's all I wanted to know. My creed is much the same."


The years were passing; Mother was sixty-six and work on the farm was becoming more burdensome. I'm not sure whether she thought Adam wouldn't marry so long as he had a "housekeeper" but whatever the reason, she began laying plans to join me at Toledo. Decisions were reached in the fall of 1910 and she came to Toledo in early January, 1911. I had arranged with Mrs. Elmer, on College Avenue, to furnish Mother a room and board while we were securing a home of our own. The selection was a happy one, for Mother and Mrs. Elmer became good friends.

I wondered how Mother would adjust to a new community; folk at her age often found it difficult to make new friends and fit into strange surroundings. But her ability to adapt to new conditions reasserted itself once more and within a short time one would have thought she had lived in Toledo the greater part of her life. She received warm welcome at the United Brethern Church, joined the Missionary Society and quickly formed several friendships. There were also a few Scottish families in Toledo with whom she was soon on intimate terms---the Davidsons and the Muirheads, to name but two. Three things rather amazed me---her interest in setting up a new home, her physical strength and her buoyant spirit. She soon rented a house and furnished it in good taste. In the process, she walked many miles and made many business contacts. One would have thought she was a young woman establishing a home for the first time.

In April, 1911, her sister, Aunt Kate Pringle, and her niece, Leslie Douglas Tindall, arrived from Britain. It was indeed a joyous reunion, the second with Aunt Kate who had visited in the United States in 1905; and the first with Leslie whom she had not seen since 1879, when Leslie was an infant of five months. Observing such a reunion I was made to realize as never before the fact that "blood is thicker than water." Mother and Aunt Kate reveled in each other's company. There were hours upon hours of conversation about people and events, and an endless series of questions : "Do you remember?" "What ever happened to so-and-so?" "Does David still do this?" "And how are Robert and Isabella?"

With cousin Leslie, the talk centered on Chatton---the Presbyterian Church and its minister, the Reverend Mr. Thorpe; upon David Allen, the aging Postmaster who had been such a good friend of Mother's; of Wandon and Leslie's own family and old Broomhouse, Aunt Mary and Uncle Adam. Items for conversation were never lacking; interest never lagged.

In the spring of 1912, Aunt Kate completed her visit, bade us goodbye and started on her return journey. Both she and Mother realized that this would likely be the last farewell. At New York she boarded the S. S. "Baltic", the same vessel I had sailed on in February 1909. On April 15, the newspapers "screeched" in glaring headlines: "Disaster at Sea!" Our thoughts were immediately with Aunt Kate who would have been about half way across the Atlantic. But further reading revealed the fact that it was a sister ship, the "Titanic". However, the "Baltic" had turned back to render what aid she could; Aunt Kate might witness a dramatic sea rescue.

But neither the "Baltic" nor any other rescue ship reached the "Titanic" in time. She had been struck by a monstrous iceberg amidships and rendered utterly useless. The greatest and the "safest" liner afloat at that time floundered for a few hours in heavy seas, then slipped below the icy waves with a loss of more than fifteen hundred lives. The "Baltic" reversed itself again and headed for its home port in Britain. And people wondered if there would ever be a one hundred percent safe ship. It's doubtful.

Leander Clark College open its sixty-second academic year in September, 1912. I was entering my senior year, lacking a few credits. If I were to graduate with the class of 1913, I would have to carry an unusually heavy schedule of classes. During the years in the Academy and the College, I had participated in many extra-curricular activities---glee club, tenor in mixed church quartet, member of the editorial board of The Owl and the Editor-in-Chief- of the College Yearbook, Cardinal. '13. I had played football for five seasons and some inter-class basket ball. Like many other college students, my outside activities had interfered with my regular studies; the time had come to strike a better balance; football had to be sacrificed.

The withdrawal of any regular team member was enough to create a miniature storm; the College always had a small squad, every man was needed. There were charges of disloyalty, some snide remarks in the newly organized campus paper, The Record, and direct pressure from the President. After a late night session in his office in which the matter was thoroughly discussed I decided that a change of schools might be my only way out. But what would Mother say? Without her cooperation, I could do nothing. The interview ended, I rejoined Nina in the hall where she was waiting, and the two of us, along with Jenifer Lichty and Spencer Nelson, walked home together. I left Nina at her door, walked across the street to our home and, finding Mother's light still burning, asked if I might have a talk with her.

She agreed, of course, had in fact anticipated my difficulties. I told her of my experiences of the evening. Then she asked what I would like to do. I said I would like to transfer to the University of Chicago, that if I remained in Toledo the pressure to play football would continue and my studies would suffer.

"I know," she said, "the criticism you've been subjected to and I haven’t liked it, and have feared that your college work would suffer under the circumstances. Go to bed now, and we'll talk it over in the morning."

I'm sure she didn't sleep much that night; I didn't. In the morning she had decided, if it still seemed desirable, that she would agree to a change of schools and she and Leslie would accompany me to Chicago.

It was nearly time for registration of students for the fall quarter at the University. So, in a few days I was on my way, followed by Mother and Leslie within ten days. We took an apartment at the corner of Ingleside Avenue and 62nd Street, and continued to live there until my graduation on March 17, 1914. Several of Mother's Toledo friends were quite sure she would be lost in the great city; there would be no friends and she would be bewildered by the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. I, I understand, was roundly criticized for taking Mother into a situation that could bring only "unhappiness". Of course they didn't know Mother, of her life in Edinburgh, of her travels and other experiences. Nor did they appreciate her independent spirit. Actually, she made the transition, I believe, more easily than Leslie or I. Within two weeks she was attending the Leyington Avenue Baptist Church, located within three blocks of our home, and greatly impressed the minister, the Reverend Doctor Boynton who at that time was one of the denomination's leading preachers. Leslie attended St. James Episcopal Church which suited her to a "T", and I was asked to join the University male choir of twelve voices. So all of us made our religious connections in a brief time.

I never heard Mother say so, but I am of the opinion that the Chicago interlude constituted one of the happier periods of her life. She liked to visit the stores, never seemed to fear the traffic or dislike street car travel. There were week-day meetings at the church and social gatherings of women that she thoroughly enjoyed. Her interests were many and her energy was boundless. She and Leslie were more like sisters than aunt and niece and got along beautifully. During the Christmas holiday of 1913, Jack and Amy, Clark, Richard and Florence paid us a visit. How much Mother enjoyed them, especially the children for whom she could not do enough.

With my graduation, the Chicago days came to an end. She reluctantly I'm quite sure, gave up the apartment and, with Leslie returned to Northwest Iowa where, for the rest of her days, she was the welcome guest in the homes of her married children. In July, Leslie returned to England just in time to see the start of World War One. Mother watched with horror, that terrible carnage from a distance but shared intimately its tragedy when relatives and friends lost members of their families. And, too, her beloved Britain suffered losses from which it never quite fully recovered. She was spared the agonies of World War Two; she died four years before it began. There are, perhaps, times when it is well to die.


Travelers on the South China Sea are always deeply impressed with the lingering sunsets to be seen there. The blood-red sun, set in an intricate frame of golden clouds, seems to hang for an interminable period just above the horizon, then gradually disappear into the land of tomorrow. But even then the glory of its setting doesn't end. The gay, crimson colors turn to gold, to rose, to lavender and, at last, to deep purple. Night falls, yet long, slender fingers of blue, faint but beautiful, reach across the evening sky. Once seen, they're never forgotten.

To me, Mother's later years were like a lingering sunset. She was seventy years old when she left Chicago and hoped, I'm sure, she might have another ten years. But God was good and granted her twenty. She reentered with energy into the life of the old community and watched with a never-waning interest her numerous grandchildren grow into manhood and womanhood. She applied her talents to the Missionary Society and served as its President for several years. There were friendships to be renewed, a comparatively large correspondence to be carried on, and always acts of kindness to perform. She responded to every call upon her time and talent, as long as she had the strength. She was the eternal optimist, the breath of an endless spring. Cousin Annie Forrest Pringle, after her visit to America in 1922, said Mother was one of the most remarkable women she had ever known. And so thought all her children.

From whence this indomitable spirit? One cannot ignore her fine heritage. The sterling qualities of her parents and grandparents were transplanted into her---the granite will, the constant hope, the abiding faith she claimed for her very own. She was well prepared, formally and informally, for the life she was destined to lead. She saw death early, and was acquainted with sorrow when a mere girl. These experiences steeled her for the vicissitudes of the later years. She appreciated all of life's blessings, but most of all those with a spiritual content. She believed with all her heart that man's chief end was to serve God and his fellowmen. And a multitude of people could testify to Mother's outstanding success in living up to that high purpose.

Nina and I paid annual visits to Iowa Between 1931 and 1934 chiefly to see Mother and Nina's parents at Toledo. (Her father died in 1932). Each year the curtains were more closely drawn, Mother's energies reduced. But still she insisted on doing as much as possible for herself. The great change came in 1934 We missed the luster in her eyes, the usual sharpness of mind and the firmness of will. It was October and the country was golden. On a lovely Sunday morning, she accompanied Nina and me to the Adaville Church, the last church service we ever attended with her. Asked to sing a solo, I chose George Mattheson's lovely hymns

"Oh, love that wilt not let me go,

I cast my weary soul on thee;

I give thee back the life I owe,

That in thine ocean depth its flow

May richer, fuller be."

That morning I sang it not only as a prayer to the Almighty, but also for Mother whose love indeed had never let any of us go. I could only hope that she somehow understood.

It was nine o’clock, Saturday morning, March 16, 1935. I was just closing a letter to Mother when the telephone rang in our Salinas, California home. "This is Jessie," said a voice on the other end of the line. "We’re calling to let you know that Mother is critically ill and that her recovery is very doubtful." At that juncture, Adam came on the line and confirmed the information.

I told them that Nina and I would leave for Iowa the next morning but I would like a telegram with further information before leaving home. It reported that Mother’s conditioned had worsened during the night, that she was weak and in great pain.

With hasty plans completed, Nina and I got under way by car at ten o’clock on Sunday morning. That night we spent in Bakersfield, California. On Monday evening we reached. St. George, Utah. The weather had been fine but a change was brewing when we went to bed and by morning it had turned into a cold drizzle. We drove about fifty miles before breakfast on Tuesday morning. Snow flurries were already in the air and it was getting colder. All day we traveled over rugged mountain roads through the snow, which by late afternoon had taken on the proportions of a real blizzard. Drifts were often two to four feet deep and visibility greatly reduced. We were chilled to the bone and welcomed the warmth of our motel room when we reached Salt Lake City at six.

I immediately wired Akron (actually Hawarden) and at ten-thirty received the following answer, "Mother passed away at seven this morning." It was indeed sad news. A light had gone out of our lives. The cheerful, lovable person we'd taken for granted for so many years was gone and would never welcome us "home" again. A profound change had come for all of us in the twinkling of an eye. Life would never be the same again.

Speed was now of the essence. We drove into Echo Canyon on Wednesday morning, the lofty peaks of the Wasach Range standing guard on either side, crowned with the last snows of the winter. An invisible coating of ice on the paving nearly led to a disaster when a careless driver crowded us to the outer edge of the highway. The car was totally unmanageable on the glasslike surface. For a hundred feet we twisted and swayed, then the front of the car went over the canyon's edge and hung suspended in mid-air. Our slow speed and I'm inclined to think an act of Providence, saved us from severe injury or death. Fortunately, a large truck came along in minutes; a kind driver and his helper attached a cable to the rear axle of our car and hauled us back onto the highway. How thankful we were and how carefully we drove for the remainder of the journey.

That night we spent in Cheyenne, Wyoming. We thought the worst of our difficulties were over but, when having the car serviced at a gas station on Thursday morning, we saw what we thought was a rather ominous rain cloud at the top of Sherman Hill, to the west. "That," said the attendant, "is a dust cloud." We had read of dust storms but had never experienced one and after that day hoped we'd never experience another.

By the time we reached the Wyoming-Nebraska border, we were engulfed in a veritable blizzard of dust. Visibility was reduced to a hundred yards. Terrible gusts of wind almost lifted the car from the roadbed; cars were stranded and deserted alongside the highway. Inside the car, we were nearly choked by the flour-fine dust, our faces blackened, our nostrils nearly closed. Throughout the day, we drove in eerie twilight, never quite sure of our directions and always fearing that our Studebaker might "conk out".

Shortly after six o'clock, we reached Columbus, Nebraska, called Le Mars by phone and talked to Mildred Tindall. She reported that most of the family were with Mother at Adam's and Lizzie's and that the funeral was set for tomorrow, Friday, March 22. We ate a light supper in Columbus, then proceeded on our journey, arriving at Herb's and Jessie's at one o'clock on Friday morning. They and Mary and Kate, who had arrived from Lemmon, South Dakota, got up to bid us welcome. We had reached the end of the saddest journey I'd ever taken, the second saddest for Nina who had returned to Toledo, Iowa, at the time of her father's death, March 9, 1932.


Friday, March 22, 1935, was more like May than March. An azure sky was clear of clouds and a warm, soft breeze blew out of the south. One would have sworn that summer was "just around the corner". Birds sang in the trees and the fragrance of jonquils and daffodils scented the air. It was a day in which it was good to be alive. But in the house on the farm to which she had come fifty-five years before as a Scottish bride, Mother lay cold and still.

However, when I entered the house and looked at her in the casket, I almost thought she was alive and would hardly have been surprised had she spoken to me. Gone were the marks of age so evident five months before---the hollow cheeks and sunken eyes. There she lay, the Mother I had known in earlier years, the suggestion of a smile on her lips, her face full and firm, and the hands, the most beautiful hands in the world, I thought, seemed ready to grasp my own. For minutes we children gazed upon her peaceful face. Each remembered a sacred hour in which we'd shared the bounties of her tender and generous heart.

As we tarried at the casket's side, the bright afternoon sun, shining through the window at the west, cast a shining ray across her face and form. Every feature was clear and lovely. In the adjoining room, friends and neighbors had arrived for the last sad rites; the hour of departure had arrived. The Reverend Mr. Hollingshead read a brief scripture and offered a prayer. We three sons and three grandsons carried the casket to the waiting hearse and the solemn cortege got under way.

At the church three ministers participated in the simple services that Mother had requested---the Reverend Mr. Hollings head presided and preached the sermon; the Reverend Mr. T. F. Potter, of the Le Mars Baptist Church, read the Scripture, and the Reverend Mr. Smith, pastor of the Crathorne Presbyterian Church offered the prayer. Each spoke briefly on Mother's long and useful life and her contribution to so many lives and institutions. And Mrs. Hollingshead told something about her work in the Missionary Society. Mother might have thought the praise too fulsome; the rest of us thought it just right.

It was after three o'clock when the services at the church came to a close. Again we gently placed the casket in the hearse. Never had the distance from the sanctuary to cemetery seemed so short. We wanted more time with her, to think, to recall, to relive for just a few more moments the experiences of the days now gone. But time's a cruel taskmaster. We set the casket over the grave on its supporting frame; the minister stood at its head and intoned: "I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever believeth in me shall never die." Comforting words, words that Mother fully believed and which we, standing beside her open grave that sunny afternoon, could not doubt.

It was all over so quickly; we stood glued to the spot for a little while, with deep, but suppressed, emotions. Then old friends and neighbors began to file past---the Stintons, the Browns, the Moreheads, the Fletchers, the Bristows, the Kings, the Foleys and the Baldwins. Mother's cousin, Alexander Weir, and his son, William J., were also in line. Faces rose out of a misty past, faces I had not seen for thirty years. All expressed a profound regard for Mother, spoke of her infinite capacity for friendship, and her utter unselfishness. She had loved all of those people and they, in turn, had loved her.

Gradually one began to understand that this was no ordinary funeral. Of course there were tears, but there were more smiles. It was a meeting of kindred minds and hearts, a great outpouring of love and affection for one "loved and lost awhile." I, and others, lost the sense of the time and were surprised to note the lengthening shadows cast by the pine trees and neighboring tombstones. On those stones were engraved the names of a host of men and women Mother had known through the years. She was indeed among friends and not alone.

So we left her that afternoon with a tenderness of heart no one could describe. For over ninety years she had gone about doing good, her life a blessing to the members of her family, and to countless men, women and children whose lives she had touched. Truly she was not dead; "God’s finger touched her.........and she lived.

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