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

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plentiful in that new country. The country really was new as far as the white man was concerned, for only twenty-five years before it was the property of the Pottavottamie Indians who had been removed farther west by the Government. In fact the Indians were not all gone yet, for a portion of the tribe was still at Silver Creek, a settlement only a few miles out from Dowagiac, but in the opposite directions from our home. My recollections are not very interesting of this place and consist mostly of school happenings, but simple as they were they recall the manners of those simple times. 

          Our schoolhouse was a small one-room frame building in an oack [oak] grove at the crossroads about a mile distant. It bore the name “Oak Grove School.” There were about twenty-five children attending, mostly young, for the older ones had to help on the farms in Summer. In the Winter time the number was about forty when  the older boys and girls were present. We were just ordinary children loving fun as much as, if not more than our lessons,  but I do not remember any fights were engaged in. I do remember that on one occasion some of us barely escaped the broomstick of an irate mother. A family from Alonzo, but the resemblance was so striking that among the children he was invariably called “Monkey.” He did not seem to resent it, and the name became so associated with him that it lost its unfavorable significance. One day at the noon recess we lacked one member in making up a set for some game and some of us were asked to go to the Neff house and bring Alonzo. Innocently we went to ask for him and it happened that it was his mother who answered our knock. We told her of our game and asked if she would let “Monkey” come with us. She reached fro [for] the broom, saying: “I did not know I had a child named ‘Monkey’,” and she chased us out of the yard. We were surprised that she thought us disrespectful, but we made our escape and kept away from that house afterwards.

          Another little silly incident was when I took my first and last, chew of tobacco. One of the larger boys, Charley Huff by name, chewed tobacco. I sat beside him in school and he offered me a bit from his plug. It was hard-pressed and coal black, but it tasted like licorice, but I know that I lost the last meal taken previously and a few that I should have taken subsequently, besides, missing a day or two from school. 

          It was there in the early winter of 1853-4 that I saw the first priest of my recollection. He was the Rev Francis Gointet (commonly pronounced Quinty) from the College of Notre Dame, Indiana. He was a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross whose Fathers, with Father Edward Sorin, CSS, had established themselves at Notre Dame about ten years previously. The Indians

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