After attending district school for a couple of months in the first part of the winter of 1844, I hired in March to Aaron Warren for a time of six months for $12.50. That was the home of Mary Ann Bonney who had by now become a girl of twenty years.
In October of that year (1844), when I was 23 and Mary had passed 21 on the 2nd of September, on the evening of the 24th of October by the Rev. Lyman Moore, we were united in matrimony.
A day never to be forgotten, a soft pleasant Indian summer day, just smoky enough to partially obscure and break the rays of the sun while it was warm enough and pleasant enough to be comfortable with the doors open. It seemed to me then that it was an important event to both of us, an affair that we had both fully considered as far as such young people are able to consider.
I was a young boyish looking and an almost beardless boy with black wavy hair and dark eyes (blue) about five feet nine inches in height, weighing about 150 pounds, skin Dark but fresh and was by many regarded as good looking.
Mary was very fair, light skin, dark eyes, rosy cheeks, with raven black, fine straight hair, height about five feet 3 inches and weight about 120 pounds. She was strait, good form, easily the best looking girl in the neighborhood. She was very quiet, unassuming, good-natured, expert with her needle, handy in cutting and fitting clothes, a good spinner, wove some and an all around handy womanly girl.
And now after having lived with her for nearly fifty-seven years, I can truthfully say I made no mistake in selecting a companion. I wish she could say the same of me and tell the truth.
Mr. and Mrs. Warren, with whom Mary lived since she was four years old, had no children and had become much attached to her. Mrs. Warren, being an own cousin, they both desired that we should marry and stay with them. As they had a 200 acre farm with about 140 acres improved, and teams and tools and stock sufficient for such a farm, we thought well of such a proposition and entered into a contract with them to that effect and stayed with them for the first 10 years of our married life.
(Note from Gram: "I can remember my Great-uncle Alva telling and laughing when Jim as he called my granddad was courting Mary. They could always track him by the apple peelings. He would peel them thin and in long spirals, they were thick along the trail between Warren's and Uncle Levi's. Another tale my grandmother told me. The fall they were married, my grandfather was a work clearing up some land. One evening when he came in from work, he left his broad ax, so after supper he told Grandma he would go and get it before dark and would be right back. He didn't come and didn't come and she got so uneasy she thought she would get some of the neighbor men to look for him. So, she took the path to John Blakeslee's to get him. When she got there, she saw through the window a group of folks singing and laughing and sure enough there was Grandpa right in the thick of it. He had a nice tenor voice and enjoyed singing.
Grandma said she was so mad and hurt that he had left her, that for a minute she didn't know what to do. First, she thought she would go in but she was too proud and second she was so glad he was not hurt that she was mad about it. So she went back home and went to bed. But first she took a potato and cut it to fit the candlestick, put a little soot on top, and stuck a piece of string in it for a wick. Then she went to bed and waited.
He came in about eleven and started to light the candle. After two of three attempts, he examined it. "Gosh, he said, it's a darn tater candle." What they said to each other, I don't know. I've heard them laugh over it a good many times. Grandpa used to laugh and say he always took her along after that, so they made it up.) JESSIE F. HOOVER
I am inclined to break the narrative right here and give the reader some idea of what kind of boy I was when married. In the first place I was timid even bashful, never striving to push myself forward and yet was always being pushed forward by others. As an example of this, there was a military organization. At 18 I was elected corporal and at 21 without effort of my part, I held a Lieutenant's Commission and did the work of the captain. At age 18, I joined the Baptist Church and in a few years I found myself Chorister, Sabbath School Superintendent and even Deacon without effort or desire on my part. I taught special music several winters. (Note: Gram. He had a clear tenor voice.)
As a hired man, it had been my lot to drive and work oxen and I learned considerable about the nature of cattle. When I went to work for Mr. Warren he had tow yoke of cattle; one yoke of three and one of five year olds, very fine, fat, not dead heads. He set me to plowing with the two yoke and hired a boy to drive. The boy thought it nice the first day but got tired by noon the second. I tried it alone and the boy went home and did not come back to drive again.
I continued to work those cattle for five years. Could do more work with those two yoke than any other team in the neighborhood. The youngest of the two yoke, at 8 years old, weighted 3600 pounds. They were spry as kittens and always fine beef. I learned young, to drive cattle with very little whipping or noise. Plenty of good food with kind, firm treatment was my way and it proved a success.
During the first 10 years of my married life, I found myself father of four children, two daughters and two sons.
We had during that time built two houses. I had sold my forty acres and had bought 45 acres from Warren with 34 acres improved. Built a house 26 feet square on ground with good cellar, cistern, and well, and a small barn 16x22 and had built Warren a good house 28x32 with wing 12x24, good cellar, cistern, well. The farm was in fine state of cultivation. Fences, stock in first class shape and had the satisfaction of knowing we had as good teams, implements, stock, and crops as any body in the Township. I had a lease on the farm for 15 year, owned two-thirds of all the personal property, undivided of course, and lived in the larger house. The farm Warren and I worked together and no account made of our living. The surplus alone was divided, each and all worked and no account of labor kept or of clothes or schooling of children. The outlook was favorable as up to this time health of all had been good and were hopeful and thrifty.
In the summer of 1854, Mr. and Mrs. Warren decided to make a visit to their old home in the state of NY as Mrs. Warren's father, mother, sisters, and brothers still lived there. (Bonney) They went in June and Mrs. Warren never returned but died at her father's house.
Mary and I had good luck with crops and stock. I had harvested and filled the barns and cellar. Put in 14 acres of wheat in the best possible manner, had sold about $400 worth of wool, and young cattle while they were gone and the outlook was bright. But Mrs. Warren's death changed all that for we had good reason to doubt our ability to live and get along with him after his wife was dead. And so it turned out, for when he came home in September and we settled with him. Before spring came he was married again to a widow Webb in the neighborhood.
I thought it best to sell and leave the neighborhood, which we did during that winter and the following spring. We bought a farm of 128 acres in the Township of Bridgewater, 2 and ½ miles from Manchester, Michigan.
There was one person who should be mentioned here. Ann Maria Warren, Albert Warren's daughter, (niece of Aaron Warren) whose mother died when she was 2 years old. She came to live with Aaron's folks, so of course, she grew up like a younger sister of Mary's and the attachment was very strong even to this day. Maria married William Andrus and they live in Milan, Michigan, at this time. They were married before we left York Township.
Well, we got settled on our new farm in time for the season's work and in as much as Mary had so much work during the season, we took Abbysinia Dexter to help her and care for the children and go with them to school.
Before the first season's work was done, I got sick but we succeeded in putting in 25 acres of wheat. Brother John brought his wife to our house to live. He got up a subscription school in Manchester. During the fall she died at our house. The second winter he got brother Cromwell with him and they had a fine school.
Anson Fuller boarded with us and went to school to them, as did Julius Sanford.
In the fall of 1856 my health was so poor that we thought best to try some other employment.
Brother John suggested we buy a Magic Lantern with a series of paintings illustrating peoples in the Bible, set a astronomical diagrams and the downward cause of the drunkard. This was the beginning of a new chapter in my life.
Up to this time my whole life and associations had been on the farm and with farmers. To know how to make land produce the largest possible of crops and to get the best stock, the best fences, the farm in the best state of cultivation with teams, wagons, and implements had been my ambition.
Now I entered a business that brought me in contact with another class or at least presented the world to my view from another standpoint. I may say here that the world or society will appear to every person according to the position he occupies when looking at it.
I found out in a little while that timidity was not the sure way to success, so I put my whole energy to studying Astronomy and History (Sacred and profane) as well as Moral Philosophy and I surprised myself by the progress made.
I soon found very few people know anything, or at least very little about astronomy and almost nothing about the Books of the Bible. They are taught to believe that there has been somehow a divine interposition of a higher power in its teaching than in other composition of a literary character known in the world and that their future happiness depends on believing it.
The spherical form of the Earth is denied today by great numbers of zealous believers. The age of the earth and the science of Geology was denied and still is denied by thousands, this fact stimulated me to study. Fortunately, Dr. Thomas Dick Hitchcock and several other Divines entered the breach, furnished a way of construing the Bible so that a man might accept Science and still retain membership in most of the churches. They taught that the language used in Genesis where it says "In the beginning God made," did not name any definite time, the word day did not mean twenty-four hours and that the flood did not cover the whole surface of the Earth as we now know it, or, when Joshua commanded the sun to stand still it did not, that the sun remained stationary in obeying him but that light continued miraculously until their work was finished.
Another question, which began to attract the attention of masses of people, more and more was the question of Rights of Women to Equality with men. The Bible furnished the basic cause for this oppression. Paul's instructions, Garden of Eden, etc. The temperance questions was already a live question as it is today. But the question that overshadowed all others at that time was the Slavery question. It waxed hotter and hotter and would not go down, finally leading to the War of the Rebellion. The Bible furnished the ground work of the arguments in favor of slavery. Its teaching and the practices of its leading often eminent characters in holding slaves was used by the slaveholders as their justification for dealing with and holding slaves.
On all these questions, I was compelled to take the position that Bible or no Bible, Slavery was wrong and Bible or no, the oppression of women by the man, was most devilish and ought to cease. And, that there is not now nor has there ever been a man as Holy or so pure that alcohol could not injure if he used a sufficient quantity of it.
When a respectable kind and good man uses alcoholic drinks to say the least of him, he sets an example before his fellowmen that will lead others to ruin and add to the misery of the world instead of adding to the joy and pleasure of a human family and I hold that no men or set of men has a right to do that.
(Notes from Gram: Drinking among ministers and high church officials was common in that day and granddad stuck his neck way out in opposing them. However, he stood his ground and if he was alive today would be astonished to see how many of his theories which were considered radical and almost heretical are commonplace and accepted generally today.)
In regard to Holy Men that bought and sold slaves and used them as every slaves state laws allowed them to be used or that used his influence to continue that institution of now that is engaged in the perpetuation of same that so oppresses the poor (especially) female laborers so they are compelled to sell their virtue to feed and clothe their bodies is no friend of humanity but the name Devil is appropriate.
(Note from Gram: Slavery was upheld by the churches of the South, resulting in a division into North and South which has continued to this time and is only now beginning to be healed. Examples N and S Methodist, Presbyterian, Southern Baptist, etc. Some southern ministers now preach in northern pulpits. 1947)
Well, Brother John and I traveled together a large portion of the time for two years or more. During that time we spent one winter in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, another in Illinois and Wisconsin. We became well acquainted with public sentiment between Milwaukee and Cincinnati, visited Chicago, Indianapolis, Toledo and nearly all the towns between those places, also most of the schools, high and common. The summer and fall of 1860 I spent in Ohio and the distant rumbling of threatening war was definitely heard.
After election and the Secession of South Carolina, I came home and in the spring of '61 sold my farm and moved back to the Town of York. I purchased 80 acres of the farm that my father first settled so when the call came for volunteers, I was in the neighborhood of my brother and sister.
I don't need to enlarge. I did not enlist the Army for my health would not warrant and that is not all, I had a family to care for and I knew I was not much of a warrior anyway. But I do know I was as loyal to my country as those that enlisted and went into the Army. I remained at home during the war.
While living in Bridgewater, we joined by letter the Baptist Church at Manchester, Michigan. I was made Chorister, SS Superintendent, and Deacon. It required much time, money, and hard labor to do anything like justice to the duties pertaining to those offices. Intellectually and socially it paid. Financially, no, most emphatically, no.
It was during our residence in that place, Levi was born in 1859 on the 4th of March.
I don't need to say much about the war. I hope the American people may never again be called up to pass through such scenes.
In the year 1863 Horace Greeley was induced to write a History of the War and the causes that led up to it as well as the effect produced by it. O.D. Case and Co. of Hartford, Conn. published it in two volumes. The first volume was ready for delivery in the spring of that year.
Whoever becomes a solicitor or agent for the sale of books and makes a success of it will obtain a different impression of our civilization and of humanity in general than can be obtained in any other business I have ever tried. I found myself in accord with the sentiments presented in the book and soon made myself master of most of its contents so I entered into work of selling it with a zeal that insured success.
I remember the first day's work I did as a book agent. I secured nine subscribers and my first day's work of delivery I put out 82. I soon became very popular with the public and continued the work until the spring of 1868.
End of narrative...
This body of work was transcribed by Jessie Fuller Hoover (Granddaughter of James Harland Fuller), then copied by Mary Louise Hamilton Rogers (GGGranddaughter). The original narrative was owned by Lynn Sale (Granddaughter of Jessie Fuller Hoover)
A special 'thank you' to Mary Lou Hamilton Rogers for her generosity in sharing this extremely interesting piece of history for the Washtenaw Co., MI USGenWeb site.