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

Page 17

lead at each decade, and I remember how proud I was when I led at each decade, for the first time. Father DeNeve gave every member of the parish a rosary shortly after he came to Niles and explained the manner of its recital in a sermon one Sunday. As that was for use I wore mine out instead of keeping it as I had kept the holy picture given by Father Cointet.

          But we were not so pious that we did not need correction at times. That however, was left to our mother and she was not so very harsh. As for my father, I do not remember of seeing him raise a hand to any of his children. A word or a look was enough for him; his word was law and we respected the law. We had our little differences among ourselves and when complaining of one another we showed our anger and contempt by calling each other “Mr,” or “Miss” so-and so. It was a term of contempt for us, but an incident in connection with it robbed it of its force for a long time. Some of the neighboring children were near on one occasion when we were having our little difficulties, and they went home to tell their parents how polite the Howlett children were, for they addressed each other as “Miss Ellen,” “Mr. Tom,” “Mr. Bill,” etc.

          One might not think that we were interested in politics, but we were to extent of attending the great mass meetings held in the towns close by and witnessing the parades of uniformed horsemen, symbolic floats with ladies dressed in red, white, and blue costumes, hearing the cannon booming and watching the fireworks at night. Of course we favored the parties of our fathers. I remember during the presidential campaign of 1856, that a large wagon was prepared at our house for an immense flagpole. Thirty-one yoke of oxen drew the wagon, and thirty-one men dressed in black with high hats and red silk scarfs rode in the wagon. My oldest brother drove the entire team, and the crack of his whip was like a pistol shot. Each yoke bore a flag with the name of a State, of which there were but thirty-one at that time. After the dismantling of the float I saved one of the flags and flew it for a long time afterwards from a pole of my own erecting. It was the flag of Kentucky, but I knew but little of that State then, and hardly expected that it would ever be my home.
          In 1864 I was staying with my brother in Niles and saw more of the campaign. Torchlight processions of Little Saints and Wide Awakes, as the marchers of Democrats and Republicans were respectively called, made the town alive night after night, and the mass meetings of each party brought the whole population in from miles around on certain days. I did my share of cheering when I saw a company of uniformed rider [riders] from my own neighborhood in the parade, all carrying small hickory saplings resting on their stirrups, and held up like lances, and at their head a banner with the title of their company; “Howard Hickory Sprouts.” This indicated their stern Jacksonian Democracy. In 1864 I was one of the Junior riders who followed the banner that read:

               “We come from the glens of the brave and the free.
               To tyrants and despots we don’t bow he knee.”

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