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

Page 29

some very flattering letters in return and even a local newspaper surreptitiously got hold of a copy and published it. I also wrote of Denver as I remembered it in its pioneer days, and the paper that published the reminiscences was eagerly scanned during the time of its publication. This shows that we are interested in the past and like to recall it with its simple history of common life as lived by common people. Who can say that this is not the real history of a people by which they should be judged rather than by great buildings and monuments and wonderful achievements in which after all the common people have no share? The broad valleys of a country are of more value to its people than the high peaks even if they are not so spectacular.

          As those writings are preserved with others of a similar nature in special safety collections, I do not intend to incorporate them in these more personal relations which, like the others, may become of interest after the lapse of three score or more of years. We know ourselves better when we know the history of our forebearers, and we know their history better as we know more of that of their neighbors.


          Distance is a relative idea. It took the first explorers two years to make the circuit of the globe. Now school children plan a trip around the world as a part of their vacation, and some enthusiasts predict that it will not be long before it will be but a matter of hours. I remember when people bade their friends a supposed last farewell if they were but going into a neighboring State. And in so many cases it was exactly that. All means of intercommunication were so difficult that other interests had so engrossed the exiles as to make the past an almost forgotten world. In 1865 the United States was seemingly a much larger country than at present, so when my father decided to go from Michigan to Colorado we prepared to say the last good-bye to our friends and neighbors. A birthday greeting card now spans the distance by airmail over night.

          We lived a hundred miles east of Chicago, and Denver was a long way west of that city. One of my brothers had gone to the Rocky Mountain region five years before, and two more of them had followed two years later and when one of these returned for a visit, the longing to see the whole of his family united again took possession of my father. It was true that three of his children were married and in business for themselves, but all agreed to go together and cast their fortunes in the new and unexplored west. The gold regions might attract some of them, but my father’s idea was: “I want to see all my children before I die.” He was then in good health and I do not think he had any premonition of death, but in less than three months after he had the happiness of gathering all his children at his board again, he was dead!

          Easter Sunday saw all of us at the church preparing for our Easter Communion, on which day also my youngest sister was to make her First Holy Communion. When we arrived at Niles we found the whole town hung with mourning for President Lincoln who had died that day from the bullet of the assassin. The excitement was heightened by the fact that some rash individuals had expressed their joy over his death, and they

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