Recollections of My Life and Reflections on Times and Events During It: A Memoir by Father W. J. Howlett

Page 13

          My last teacher in that district was a scion of one of the old families and he was one of the best and best liked teachers ever employed there. Forty-five years later he wrote for a local paper a series of articles on old times and old timers in that township, a copy of which fell into my hands. A note of appreciation from me to the same paper brought me a letter from the teacher, whom I had not seen for forty years, in which I find the following reference:

          “Please accept my thanks for your kind words, and don’t think for a moment that I ever lost sight of my old pupils. I think of them often, but as young and romping schoolboys and girls, and not as greyhaired men and women. In looking over my old school register I notice you went to school in November, 1863……! In misspelled words, ‘opposite your name at the footing, I noticed the word NONE, so you must have been quite a good speller at that time, to go to school four months and not miss a single word in spelling.” This was from the Honorable John F. Coulter, a legislator in three states - Michigan, Nebraska, and Kansas.
          In our school there were no prayers or religious exercises, but until a meetinghouse was built in the community various preachers came and held services in the schoolhouse. I never attended any of these, and remember distinctly only one of them when a schoolmate was buried. Even then I did not go into the schoolhouse for the service, but remained outside until the body was brought out to be taken to the graveyard near by. I thought it would not be right to listen to any of their preaching.

          The Catholics as a rule were not subject to any discrimination, perhaps because they minded their own business and asked for nothing in politics. We children would sometimes be called “Paddies”, but there was no rancor or social prejudices. The sects did some talking among themselves; particularly in know-nothing times, and I remember hearing that at one of their Sunday meetings, as the warm sun melted the snow and ice and it slid from the roof of the school-house, making a great noise and alarming the worshipers, they imagined that the Catholics were close to murder them. Only one man, a very respectable and sensible man, Mr. James Shaw whom everybody liked, had the courage to go out and see what the matter was. He brought relief to the panic-stricken assembly and assured them that it was not the Catholics, and the only casualty was the death of a horse which had broken away in its fright and dashed its head against a tree. The younger generation imbibed but little of this prejudice and that little wore away with wider intercourse and enlightenment. The same Honorable J. F. Coulter wrote in one of his letters:
          “Some time ago I received a letter from you together with a book of which you are the author. You remark that I will not entirely agree with you in the makeup of the book, but it will serve to amuse me. I wish to assure you I appreciate your token of friendship, and will read the book and expect to get good out of it. I am a little tardy in acknowledging the receipt of the gift, but better late than never. I have been busy. I have been attending our [Chautauqua] at Elkhart and have heard some splendid speaking. Bryan has been here twice, LaFollette once, and Sam Jones twice. Mrs. Lake you may have

View Original Here

This page has paths:

Contents of this path: