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Prince Edward Island
Hyde's Mill

The Clementine (Stymiest) Lacy Diary, 1854 - 1938 

Recollections of my childhood home

Reprint of handwritten diary by Clemetine (Stymiest) Lacy

1854 - 1938

(This was transcribed from a handwritten diary, there may be some errors as it was very hard to read.)

In 1854, I was born in the city of Marimachi, in the Province of New Brunswick, B. N. America.

While I was an infant, my folks moved up the coast about forty miles to a place called Nequac. My folks had a place one and a half miles up the coast from Nequac, which was called Malpeck. It was situated on a small river called the Malpeck River and faced the small bay, which I do not remember the name of.

There I lived until I had passed my twelfth birthday and in my memories of that home there never was such a beautiful place, with the beautiful forest at the back, the bay and the ocean at the front, our black lands on the east and the Malpeck River on the west. In the woods we could find blueberries, cranberries, and nanny berries, a kind of wild grape, and on the Black Lands we found what we called mulberries. They were not anything like the mulberries that grow in the United States. They grow on small bushes, like huckleberries, were quite large, and inclined to pucker your mouth if they were not quite ripe.

In the bay we caught all kinds of fish, bass, herring and mackerel. In the river, trout and salmon when they ran and smelts in the little brooks. We could get oysters out of the oyster bed, dig clams, and quohauks on the beach and catch lobsters in the bay.

Now, if anyone could think of more things to keep a wild lot of kids busy and happy, I would like to know what it would be.

After it got warm in the spring we were very seldom in the house, only to eat and sleep. We were busy digging clams, catching lobsters, or out in the bay in a canoe fishing, or in the woods picking berries, in the berry season. Sometimes we would row across the bay, about a mile or so, to the outer beach and gather gullís eggs. Often we would get as much as a half bushel of fresh gullís eggs. We kids liked to cook and eat them and mother used to use them to cook.

We always went in a bunch, always three and sometimes four or five when the older girls did not have to help mother. Sometimes when we were after berries, we would see a black bear. There were lots of those small black bears there. They were as black as tar and harmless, as far as I know. But whenever we met one we would for Godís sake. We used to see moose quite often too. In fact, we had a pet moose once. But when he got older he got cross and father had to kill him as he was liable to kill some of us if he were let grow older. I do not think there were any deer or caribou. Anyway, I can not remember ever seeing or hearing of any. But there were all kinds of wild fowls, geese, ducks, and brants and partridges. Father and my brothers used to hunt ducks, geese, and brants every fall and spring. They also used to trap bears. The Indians used to dress and tan the skins and Mother used to make them into coats and caps for Father and my brothers, also things for us children, such as caps and jackets for winter wear, and Father used to make us shoe pacs with the fur inside. We needed such things as it was very cold and the winter lasted a long time. We always had two or three horses and two or three cows and hogs enough for our pork and lard and sheep enough to provide wool for our winter clothes. Mother used to dye and spin and weave the cloth for our dresses, underskirts, and all of our underwear, and Fatherís and my brotherís suits. She cut and made all their clothes and knit all our sox and stockings. I never learned how to weave, being too young, but all the older girls could weave. We had two spinning wheels, one was their big wheel and the other the little wheel. The big wheel you stood up to spin and the little wheel you sat down to spin. I sure did like to spin on the big wheel and mother used to brag on me. Therefore I used to spin a lot in winter time.

We used to knit. Mother said I was a good knitter but I never could knit fast. We used to knit gloves and mittens, all in different designs. Our days were only three or four hours long in the winter so we lived mostly by candle light during that time. We had tallow candles which Mother made herself, from the tallow that came from the fat beef Father killed every fall. Mother had two sets of candle molds, one held eight and the other six candles. She would string them with wicks, with a knot drawn up tight at the pointed end and stick across the top end to hold the wicks straight. And then she would pour in the melted tallow, let it harden and the candles were ready to take out. Just cut the knots at the pointed end and warm the moulds a little and pull the candles out by the sticks across the top and they are ready for use.

When I was five or six years old, my Father got what was called a spirit lamp. It was a small lamp and held about a pint of the spirits. It gave about as much light as three candles. We kids thought that was the greatest thing in the way of a light that ever was. It had a round cotton wick. It had no globe and it did not make any smoke. When you wanted to put out the light there was a little brass thimble you slipped over the blaze to smother it out.

Up until I was seven years old Mother did all the cooking and baking before and over a fireplace. Our fireplace was all of six between the jams with a big crane on each ja, with hooks on the cranes to hang kettles or pots on. The cranes wer made to swing out or in. There was cooked everything that was boiled or stewed. For baking Mother had Dutch ovens. In those she baked all kinds of bread and puddings. We never had any cake that I can remember of, but Mother used to make what we called "baten cakes". They were made of oat meal, something like the oat meal cookies you get today. But Mother baked those on a big flat slab of rock about two inches thick and three feet square. It was made to stand before the fire and when it was hot she would put the cakes on and the heat from the rock would brown the bottom and the heat from the fire would brown the top. As I remember, they were crisp and just fine eating. Baking in a Dutch oven - most everybody knows how to bake in them. All you have to do is to put what ever you have to bake into the oven, put hot coals under the oven, put on the cover and put hot coals on it and the Dutch oven will do the rest.

I remember the first stove we got was a heating stove. It was all of four feet long and was what is called a "Box stove". We had two fire places in our house, a small on in the weaving room, and the big one that Mother used to cook with. But we were sure proud of our heating stove. But the greatest day of all was when Mother got her cooking stove. Oh, my, we sure did admire that stove and when I compare that stove with nowaday ranges, I have to laugh. The hind legs were about three feet long and front ones about a foot long. It had four lids on top and the oven was like a drum sitting on those hind legs. The stove pipe fitted in the center of the drum on top. It had a door to the fire box and one on each end of the over. I am sure it made the cooking much easier for Mother. But when Mother wanted to roast a fowl of any kind it was always done in front of the fire place and our soup was always made over the fireplace, and our oat cakes were always baked on that flat stone in front of the fire.

We raised barley and oats, all the grain we could raise. The oats were black. The barley was to feed the hogs in winter. We also hulled the barley with which to make barley soup. We had a mortar and pestle which Father made. The mortar was made of a squared maple log about three feet long and eighteen inches wide, with a hole in the center a foot deep and eight or ten inches across the top and gradually sloping to the bottom of the hole. The pestle was also of maple wood, made sloping to fit the hole in the mortar, about an inch smaller than the mortar. Through the top of this was a handle, mortised in. The handle was about a foot long.

Mother would say, "Come, children, hull some barley and we will have some barley soup," and we kids would get to work. We would put about a quart of barley grains into the mortar, add about a half pint of water and start pounding the grain with the pestle. We each would take our turns at the pestle, some would last ten minutes, some less, according to our size and strength. In about twenty minutes the hulls on the barley would begin to loosen and fly out of the mortar. We would add a little more water every now and then. In about an hour the barley would be hulled, clean as a whistle. Then we would have barley soup. We did this in winter time, as the work was too hard to do in warm weather.

In the summer time we dug clams and caught lobster. When the tide was out we would take our spades or shovels and a big basket we had for that purpose and away we would go to the clam beds and dig clams until we had our basket full. Then we would souse the basket up and down in the water until all the sand was washed off them. Then Mother would cook them, soup or chowder or any way she wanted. We also caught lobsters when the tide was out. But we had to wad, sometimes up to our middles, to find their nests in the sea week, or under the side of a rock. We carried sticks about two feet long and where we found a lobster, we would poke him with the stick and would rare back and put up his claws, open. We would up the stick in his claw and he would shut down on the stick and we would wade to shore with him, hoist him into the basket, press on his eyes, and he would open his claws and let us have our stick to catch another one with.

We children could not get oysters because we were not strong enough to handle the oyster fork. The men had to do that. The oyster forks were something like the hay forks they have now only smaller. They worked on a hinge and had two sets of curved teeth. There were five teeth on a side. They closed on the oysters just as the hay fork does on the hay. Each time it was dropped on the oysters bed and was closed, it would have fifteen or twenty oysters. It was raised by hand into the boat and lowered again for another load. It was hard work and took two men to manage it.

Father used to spear eels at night. Two of us children would go with him, one to scull the canoe and one to hold the flambeau, or torch. Father would have a long handled spear. We could see the eels very plainly in their nests in the seaweed, by the light of the flambeau. We had to be very quiet and Father had to be quick or they would get away. Salt water eels are delicious eating as I remember. So you see we had all kinds of the finest sea foods.

In the wintertime we had all kinds of sports - skating, coasting, and sleigh riding. My oldest brother, Benje, was the best skater in that country. He also had an ice boat and we kids sure used to enjoy riding on it, when Benje would take us. When it ran before the wind it went just as fast as the wind blew, but it did not make such good time coming back. Then it was tacking or beating against the wind. That meant going in a zig zag manner, instead of straight ahead. Our place was diked along the river, to keep back the overflow when the tide was high. In winter we would coast from the top of the dike down across the river.

Take it all in all, we were a jolly, happy family. If ever there was a gentlewoman in this world, my mother was that woman. My father was counselor at law and practiced in the courts of Chatam and Marimachi. He also was a magistrate and overseer of the poor in this district.

There were no free schools in New Brunswick in that day so father had to hire teachers for us. We called them "masters". I do not remember when I learned to read. It seems to me I always knew how. The master would give you a lesson and you had to know that lesson up and down and crosswise before he would let you have another lesson. If you were too slow, he would give you a good thrashing to speed you up and when I say thrashing, I mean just that and not maybe. Mother and Father seemed to think it was the right way to make us absorb knowledge, although they never chastised us very often themselves. We had two teachers, a lady - Mrs. Fowler and a man named Mr. Bundle. Mrs. Fowler was a gentlewoman. She taught the youngest children their "ABCís" and first reading lessons and the rest of us good manners - how we must address our elders and how to make a bow and how to courtsy and all that. We thought she was just right. Mr. Bundle taught all the older children everything that was taught then - reading, writing, history, geography, grammar and arithmetic. He was call a gentleman, but I can tell you truthfully that we children did not think so. We had three half-days a week, winter and summer with each of them. They did not come the same days. Mr. Bundle would come and pass on the studies he had given us and give us a new lesson, or give us a tanning and make us take the last one over. I can tell you we nearly always had our lessons.

Mother never had much time to help us, she having her hands full with her household duties. But when Father was home he used to help us a lot. So that was the way we got our schooling in the Province of New Brunswick, up until the spring of 1865.

At that time my grandmother, my motherís mother, came from Wisconsin to visit us and it was decided that some of us children should be sent to the States so as to have the advantage of free schools. So my sister, two years younger than I, my niece Sadie Campbell, one year younger that I, and I were the ones that were sent with my grandmother to Wisconsin.

There was great excitement and bustling around getting us ready to go. Of course, we kids were excited too, but I did not want to go and coaxed them to let some of the others go but I guess they could spare us better than the older ones and the rest were too young. Anyway, I was made ready and went with my grandmother and the other two, my sister and my niece.

At last we were ready. So one bright morning, I think it was in July, we took our boat, a two mast schooner, and sailed up the coast to Marimachi, forty miles. There was grandmother, and her husband, our step-grandfather, my father and mother, my oldest brother and we three children. We were taking the steamer, the "Princess of Wales" the next morning for Prince Edwardís Island, all but Father and Mother and brother Benjamin, so we bid them goodbye and I never saw any of them after that.

So we started our travels.

PRINCE EDWARDíS ISLAND

The ship, "Prince of Wales" started early in the morning. We were quite excited as it was the first steamship we were ever on. We were all used to sail ships but this was quite different.

The first stop was at a port called Shedick, on the coast of New Brunswick, below or south of Marimachi. From there we sailed to Summerside, Prince Edwardís Island. We were there for a week or two. One of my older sisters was married and lived there, also a number of my motherís relations.

As I remember, it was a beautiful little city on the shore of a bay. My motherís granduncle lived there and we stayed at his place most of the time we were in Summerside. He had a very fine home. There seemed to be quite a number in the family but I do not remember any of them except Mr. Hyde.

Everybody called him Mr. Hyde and I donít know what his other name was. He told us to call him "Uncle". He was tall, straight-standing, old, with long white whiskers, and he always wore a plug hat, a black beaver. He used to drive us around the island in his carriage with a driver. He took us boatriding on the bay and he seemed to take an interest in us children and he was with us all the time. He had a cherry tree and it was loaded with red cherries. We asked him if we might have some cherries. He said, "Yes, go right ahead, but donít eat too many or you might be sick." We didnít think of that, we just dived in.

One day he took us across the bay in a boat to a little hamlet called "Sunny Sid", and there was a tannery. I think he owned the tannery but I donít know for sure. The man who ran it was a Quaker. They asked us to stay to dinner there and what we kids noticed was that Quaker ate his dinner with his hat on - never took it off at all. Uncle told us Quakers always ate with their hats on.

From Summerside, we took a boat to East Port, Maine. I donít know how long it took us but all on night, as it was in the morning, just as the sun was coming up, that we got to East Port. There were dozens and dozens of fish boats going out to fish for blue fish, they said it was a sight to see the hundreds of white sails on the water, all going the same way.

From there we took the train and went to Boston, Massachusetts. There my grandmotherís brother, Uncle John Eurqhart met us. In the depot at Boston was big fat Negro wench selling fruit. It was the first Negro we had ever seen. We were scared of her and Uncle John went and brought her over to us to show us she wouldnít eat us up. She gave each of us an orange, the first we had ever eaten. Uncle John got tight and yelled "Wars and wars and rumors of wars." It was just after the war was over and all the houses were draped in mourning for Lincoln.

We took the train and went to Gloucester, Mass. We stayed about ten days as grandmother was visiting her relatives. Uncle John was a soldier. He had a son-in-law who had lost an arm in the war. He was there at Gloucester. There was where grandmother took us and had our hair cut short. Did we ever raise a row - all of us, and mine has been short ever since. Aunt Marnie tried to fight the barber and he cut a nip in her ear. I didnít fight but I told grandmother Iíd never have my hair long again. She said, "Weíll see about that, young lady."

And I saw about it. Everytime it would begin to get long, Iíd take the scissors and cut chunks out so they would have to cut it. Many are the lickings I got for that.

I saw my first tomato in Gloucester. My cousin, Priscilla, took me around town and I saw a big, round, red tomato in the window of a store. I asked Priscilla what it was and she said a tomato. When I asked what it was for she said to eat. So I wanted it and we went in to ask the grocer. I wanted the one in the window. He charged a penny for it and I got my tomato. He wrapped a piece of paper around it and we went out. I wanted to eat it right then but Priscilla said, "Thatís not mannerly to eat anything on the street." So we went down into an alley way, I guess, anyway, it was off the street, and I took a bite of my tomato, and there was never anything in the world that tasted nastier or smelt nastier than that tomato. I threw the thing away and didnít eat another tomato until after I went to Colorado seven or eight years later.

After I got my hair cut, had my tomato and grandmother got through visiting with her relatives, we took the train and went to Albany, NY. We saw Niagara Falls.

The next place I remember was Milwaukee, WI. From there, we went to Chicago, Aunt Till was living there and we visited with her. Then we went to Arena, a little station about eight miles from our home. There they met us and took us home to Hydeís Mill.

Hydeís Mill

This is a little village in Wyoming Valley, Iowa County, Wisconsin. Dodgeville being the county seat. The village of Hydeís Mill is named for my motherís two brothers, William and James Hyde. They built a gist mill and a saw mill and so the town was name Hydeís Mill.

When we arrived there, I remember all the houses were hung with black crepe. In mourning for President Lincoln. When we got there, Uncle William was the only one of the Hyde brothers at home. Uncle James and Uncle John (the third brother) were still in the Army. Had not been discharged yet. Uncle Jim and Uncle John enlisted at the first call for troops and continued throughout the war. Uncle Jim, after the first enlistment, substituted for Uncle Will. And after that enlisted for the duration of the war. Uncle John did the same. Uncle Jim was an infantry man and Uncle John was in the Cavalry. Uncle Will did not go, as someone had to take care of the business and he, being the oldest, that part fell to him.

I think it was about three weeks after we arrived at Hydeís Mill that Aunt Bina, Uncle Johnís wife, got a telegram saying that Uncle Jim would be discharged from the Army on a certain date at Madison, Wisconsin.

So Aunt Bina took the three children, Edgar, Sadie and Nellie and I. And we went to Madison and there I got my first sight of Uncle Jim. Which I can never forget. Since that time I have seen all kinds of tramps and ragamuffins, but never any to compare to Uncle Jim that day.

His toes were out, his knees were out, his elbows were out, and the seat of his pants were out. He was simply in rags. As also were all the rest of the soldiers. Aunt Bina just cried like her heart would break and the children did not know him.

It was late in the afternoon before Uncle Jim got his discharge papers and he was free. Then he got bathed and barbered and got dressed in his citizen clothes. And was quite good looking. Then there was a big celebration that night in Madison. Everybody was happy.

The next morning we took the train for Arena and home. At Arena a lot of the people met the train to welcome the boys home. There being two others besides Uncle Jim, one Barnford Dodge and Mr. Witson (sp). There was a big time in the village that night, so that is how Uncle Jim came home from the war.

About 2 weeks after he got home, Uncle John came home. Uncle John was a farmer. He had a farm about 5 miles from Hydeís Mill. Was married and had two boys. He was in the cavalry and was a Lieutenant, promoted for being in action. If I remember right, his promotion had something to do with the death of General Mead. Anyway, he sure looked different from what Uncle Jim did. He was all dressed up in his full cavalry uniform with yellow stripes on his pants and a yellow cord and tassels on his hat. Were ? on his shoulders and riding a beautiful horse. I saw him coming and told grandmother that there was a big general a coming. She came out and there was Uncle John. He had come home two or three days before and rode down that day to see the folks. I guess Uncle John did not like to have a fuss made on his account.

So that is my recollection of the coming home of the soldiers in 1865.

The next thing was school, we had never been to publick school, as there was no such thing in Canada at that time. So starting to school was quite an adventure to us.

At that, the schools were not graded as they now are. Your grade was according to the reader you was studying. The sixth reader being the highest. The teacher asked us where we had gone to school. Of course, we told her we never had been to school before, so she put us in the first reader. She kept moving us up, and on the third day, after she found by questioning us that we had been taught by teachers at home in Canada, she put me in the fifth reader. And my sister and niece in the fourth reader.

We studied reading, writing, spelling, history, geography and arithmetic. All of these studies came easy to me but arithmetic. That I never did and never have made anything out of. Right-today. If I can figure up to ten, I think I have done fine. We attended school at Ruggles School, ? ? of three months each.

My grandmother and I did not get along at all together. So I left and went to work for a neighbor, Mrs. Ruggles. I guess grandmother was glad to git rid of me, for as I look back now, I know I was stubborn and mean.

My grandmother was a very strict church woman (Presbyterian), strict as the Presbyterians were in those days. We had to go to church twice on Sunday. Read one chapter in the Bible and commit one verse to memory. We could not play any games.

On Sunday there was never anything cooked in the house, everything being prepared on Saturday. We had plenty to eat, but all cold food. Sunday seemed awfully long to us. And we were glad when Monday came.

Grandmother would not let us go to any of the parties that the other children gave, she thought the place for children was at home.

She thought if you danced, your soul was lost forever. And us kids from Canada knew how to dance Scotch reels and French ? and all such dances.

There was an old scotsman at home in Canada who played the bag pipes and he taught us children how to do those dances.

Mother thought it was all right for us to learn those dances and so did father. In fact, he sometimes would dance with us. I told Grandmother once that we used to dance at home. She said she did not care what sinful things we were allowed to do at home, we could not do them in her house.

She used to let my sister and I go to visit at Uncle Will Hyde's sometimes and Aunt Julia (Uncle Will's wife) used to play the piano for us and ? and I would dance for him.

If Grandmother had ever had an inkling of that, we would never have visited Aunt Julia and Uncle Will any more.

We used to go to Uncle Jim Hyde's quite often. We liked Uncle Jim and Aunt ?. They had 3 children, 2 girls and a boy at that time. We used to like to go to Uncle Jim's and play with the children. We used to take them and go gathering hazel nuts and picking wild crab apples.

One day when we were crossing the dam where the mills were, Nellie, Uncle Jim's youngest girl (about 5 years old I think) stumbled and fell into the saw mill race. The gate was closed at the time so the water was not running. The water was about 4 feet deep, Nellie was drowning so I told the other kids and sister to run and get help and went in and got Nellie and held her head above the water until they came and got us out. I had to stand on my toes to keep my nose above water. Poor little Nellie was nearly gond, but they worked over here, she was about all right in an hour or so. I got good and wet and I was scared that Nellie would die.

Aunt ? and Uncle Jim seemed to think I had done great, but not grandmother, she gave me an awful thrashing when I got home because I let Nellie fall in to the race. When in fact, I was not.......(this part unreadable)

I went three terms of three months each at the Ruggles School House, Hyde's Mill District and was about the middle of the fourth terms when I went away from grandmothers and went to work for Mrs Ruggles. I was to go to school just the same and did go the short time I was there (about two or three weeks I think).

I had a cousin, my father's nephew, Adam Stymeist (sp) who had come to Wisconsin several years before we did. He was in the lumber business up in the northern part of the state, around Fon-du-lac I think. Just after I went to Ruggles, Adam came down to see us and he did not like the idea of me living with Mrs. Ruggles so when he went back, he took me with him to his Pardeners (sp) home at Pine Knobs, Wisconsin. His pardeners name was Sam Taylor and I lived with his mother and father. They were nice old people. They just had two sons, Sam and George. George was back east going to collet while I was there so I only saw him when he came home Christmas time. The rest of the time there was just Mr and Mrs Taylor, I and the hired girl. I started right in going to school and at the end of the term I was through as far as the public schools

I never went school any more. I studied under a Proffesor Rodgers (sp) for a while in Colorado after I go there. Penmanship, grammar and history and that is all.

Soon after school was out at Pine Knobs, there came an uncle and aunt (my mothers sister) and two boys from Colorado on a visit to grandmothers and the other uncles and aunts at Hydes Mill and just as soon as I heard of them I got the Pikes Peak fever.

After a while they came to visit and aunt who lived near Pine Knob and I went to see them. Right away I began asking them to take me to Colorado with them. And after a while they said they would as no one offered any objections. And I sure was a happy girl.

About the last week in February we started for Colorado. There was seven of us. Uncle Bruce, Aunt Ellen, their two boys, my cousin Francis Martell, cousins ?, Leonard and I. We took the train at ? for Madison and from there to Council Bluffs. There was no bridge across the Missouri River between Council Bluffs and Omaha. They had been transporting passengers and baggage across the river with teams on the ice all winter, but at this time the ice was to rotten to bear up under teams, so they had built a plank walk about 10 feet wide across the river and had to walk across from Council Bluffs to Omaha and carry our own hand luggage. The other baggage they took over in hand carts.

I remember I carried my heavy shawl and my aunts 2 canary birds. We were met when we had crossed the river by teams and carried to the U. P. Depot, not much of a depot as I remember, it just a wooden shack.

We took the train right away and finally landed in ?, Neb. That was the end of the rail road tracks. We took the stagecoach from there and next landed in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

We were in Cheyenne I think about 3 hours. We went to a hotel, had dinner and got cleaned up which was surely needed. Aunt Ellen, the boys and Edna and I staid in the hotel and rested......

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