Sarah Morse Couch
The following was sent to me by Clifford Gillett in the 1990s. It has a note at the top of the page: The Couch Family, written in 1888. The fist half of the first page is the end of 'Father'
Mother (a hand-written note adds: My Great Great Grandmother)
I know but little of her early history. Owing to the death of her mother in her early years she was the subject of unusual hardships. She was a woman of ordinary height, rather slim, muscular and active. She had a good constitution and great power of endurance, and well she had for she had use use for them. The raising of a large family, the care of the crippled grandmother, her widowhood with limited means, taken all in all, made for her a life of constant anxiety, care and toil. After the years of her active life were past, I am glad to say that she was blest with good care, peace and plenty, and that her declining years were golden ones.
Mother was not a complaining woman. She battled the necessities of life cheerfully, ever ready to lend a helping hand: kind-hearted and sympathetic, a devoted wife and mother, a kind neighbour and generous and unselfish friend. Her courage and endurance were wonderful, increasing in magnitude and power comensurate with any demand. Such was my mother and a glorious, good mother she was. In thinking this matter over I feel like a child again and would be glad to crawl upon her knee to be petted and inspired with new courage and energy by her loving words.
In her girlhood she united with some church - Christian, perhaps, but her long years of happy experience with father, his praiseworthy life, words of reason as to God's goodness and universal paternity, so modified her views that she rarely made mention of theological matters and when she did so it was with the greates charity of all.
At the death of father the old homestead had to be sold. Under the law the widow was entitled to one third of the personal property and a life interest in a third of the real estate. Mother claimed her rights under the law, and after a few years sold out her interest in the real estate and left the old homestead for ever. About eight years after father's death, mother married a widower from an adjoining town by the name of Roster [?or Poster or Foster]. He was a man well long in years and financially in good circumstances. He owned a grist mill but a short distance from the house. One day being at his mill pond near the head of the race he slipped, as is supposed, and fell into the pond and was drowned, or killed by the fall, and was sucked by the current of the water into the flume leading to the mill, with such force as to dam the channel in a measure, thereby retarding the movement of the mill. The miller, to learn the trouble, rushed out and found the unexpected cause as stated. Mother, being a widow again, made her home thereafter with her sister to the day of her death.
I must here relate a little incident: it so well illustrates the pride of human nature. It occurred long years after the history above related, when mother for a time was living with me at my home in Tiskilwa. I was at that time, engaged in the grain trade, buying from the producer and shipping to Chicago for sale. The name of my commission agent at Chicago was Kimball. He was from my native town in New Hampshire, and his wife from my immediate neighbourhood. Consequently while going to see him on business, it was also as a visit to a friend, and I was invited to his house as such. His wife's mother and my mother were about the same age and raised girls together.. Her maiden name was Kilburn and she married a man from Pillsbury, a Deacon of the Church on Cors-- Hill heretofore spoken of, a farmer, a good man and well to do in the world. They lived together many years. She and mother were still neighbours not to exceed a mile and a half apart. Mrs Pillsbury was left a widow about the time my father died. Not long after the death of my step-father Foster, my mother again received an offer of marriage from a gentleman in the neighbourhoodwhen she then resided in Warner.. The gentleman's name I have now forgotten. Mother refused this offer, and the gentleman afterwards offered himself to the widow Pillsbury and was accepted, and marriage followed. While on a business visit to my old friend, Kimball, at Chicago I found her who used to be the widow Pillsbury there on a visit to her daughter. Her husband was not with her and she was quite out of health. She was very glad to see me. She knew me when I was a boy. She enquired about mother and I told her she was living with me. She told me to tell mother she must make her a visit, as she was in poor health, and there was noone she should be so glad to see. On my return I delivered the message without delay. Mother was glad to hear from her old friend and made inquiries about her; she said she should be real glad to see her and talk over old times. I noticed a peculiar smile on mother's face and wondered at it. What was there between those two old ladies to awaken that peculiar smile? They were about the same age, nearly seventy five years old, had seen much of the ups and downs of life, had experienced many of its sorrows and disappointments and were now upon the brink of the grave, and had been life-long friends. What could that smile mean? My curiosity was greatly excited and I was anxious to know about it, and finally I burst out saying 'Mother, what the world are you laughing at?' The answer was 'I was thinking about Mrs Pillsbury taking up my leavings - my old beau. I should really like to see her and have a good laugh over the matter.Talk of age drying up the fountains of youth. Here is the pride of youth on the brink of the grave.
Mother made a trip to this state and returned, and when sister moved here she came and spent her days here. As I stated she made her home with sister, although she spent much of her time visiting her children. She read a great deal and took a lively interest in passing events. She was active for her years and the vigor and activity of mind continued unimpaired to the last. She died of lung fever, after a short illness, at my sister's residence, a little over a mile west of Tiskilwa, January 24th 1866, aged seventy five years, five months and twenty seven days. The funeral services were at the house and all the children living were present, save one, James, who was living in the state of NH. She was buried in the Mt Bloom Cemetary, on a lot selected and paid for by herself. Peace to her ashes. Generation after generation is gathered in quick succession by the reaper death, and soon will come our turn. So let it be. It is a rest that is joyous when exhausted with the care and toil of life.
I must go back and make mention of some of the other items of mother's history as they pertain to things passed and unknown to the present generation, to say nothing of what they may be to generations yet to come. Of late it seems a wonder to me how mothers ever accomplished the work they did fifty years ago and upwards. In those days mothers raised large families of children, provided for all their necessities and attended to all their wants single-handed and alone. Providing for their necessities at that time meant more than it does now. Now it means simply to cook what is laid down to hand for food, and the going to the store for the necessary clothing ready-made, ready-manufactured for the tailor or seamstress to cut and make by means of machinery brought into execution in so doing. Then flax and wool were grown on the farm, out of which the cloth for the family clothing was manufactured, and the mother was not only frequently the producer of the raw material, but the sole manufacturer of the cloth for the supply of the household. The home was the manufacturer and the linen wheel, the spinning wheel and the loom were the essential adjuncts. The diligent mother and daughters spun the yarn and wove the cloth and cut and made the garments, besides aiding much in raising and gathering the supplies for food as well as cooking the daily meals. And all this done cheerfully; and seemingly the housewife had more leisure than does the housewife of today with ready-made cloths, sewing machines, stoves, a thousand and one patents and improvements, with a girl to cook, a girl to sew, a girl to nurse and a girl to wash. Why is it so? And my mother did all this work for her large family, and was cheerful, happy and lived to a good old age. The cloth which mother spun and wove would ot reach around the world, but it would have quite a send-off in that direction. Then think of all the yarn manufactured and knit to see to the necessary demands of the family; and all this she did too. Never a moment's leisure was allowed to slip without the knitting work being in hand. Many a time of long evenings I have watched her knitting until sleep overtook her, and I have sometimes thought that she would continue her knitting when actually sound asleep.