The Poetry of Elsie Strawn Armstrong
"SKETCHES OF MY LIFE"
Pages 113-116

Transcribed and Donated by Leslie Howard Strawn


A SELECTION OF NIGHT THOUGHTS

Of late I thought, I had a fear,

That those I love and hold most dear

For me, but little think or care,

My children.

But some there are, I’m pleased to find,

Since I am feeble, old and blind,

Would for money treat me kind,

My neighbors.

Among them all, I find there’s those

Would make my fires, wash my clothes,

To pay their rents, they seem disposed,

My tenants.

But I should take another view,

My sons have all that they can do

To meet the claims that are on them due,

Their wives and children.

My sons are good and kind to me,

If you were with me you would see,

And with their wives I can make free,

My daughters-in-law.

My daughters-in-law are good and kind,

To wait on me they seem inclined

To cheer my heart and soothe my mind,

My sons’ wives.

My sons are active business men,

They come to see me now and then,

But not so often now, as when—

They wished assistance.

Now I’m inclined to quit my whining,

O’er fancied evils cease repining,

And to my make feel resigning,

My life, my all.

I feel ‘tis time to disengage

My service from the present age,

For soon I’ll be called from the stage,

And all its’ cares.

And above all, I wish the most

To be found faithful at my post,

When I am called to quit the coast,

And launch away.

Lord, grant that I may reach that shore

Where, with my friends that’s gone before,

My Savior’s name there to adore,

In endless days.

NOVEMBER, 1856

I was born in Pennsylvania

In the year of eighty-nine,

And brought up by my parents

Under strictest discipline.

I was allowed to go to church

On Sabbath day and night,

And to parties for to work,

Because they thought it right.

I was sent to school at four,

And at five I’d learned to read,

The spelling book and Bible

Were the books I had to heed.

The Thomas Dilworth spelling book

And the Bible were the rule,

And they were all the books

The children had at school.

But an extra education

They thought they’d give to me,

And I was taught arithmetic

To the single rule of three.

In that branch I took delight,

Went through two rules in a day,

I wrote it in my book

And took no time to play.

Seventy years ago,

Girls got but little education,

To spin and weave the clothing

Seemed to be their occupation.

Then girls got but little schooling

In comparison to now,

When they spun and wove the clothing,

And dressed as they could, and how.

Then, girls, they made the parties,

Parties to do the work,

Where all strove to excel

And none went there to shirk.

In those days, they made the parties

To get help to do the spinning,

And then they made the parties

To sew and make the linen.

And then they made the parties

To get help to break the wool,

And they also made the parties

To get help, the flax to pull.

And still I well remember

How pleased I was, to be invited

To go with my friends and schoolmates,

To that work, I was delighted.

To go with them to pull the flax,

To me ‘twas like a play,

For I could take my swathes with ease,

And so nice I’d make it lay.

I could kept my through ahead,

And lay my swathe complete,

I often ran a race

But never yet, was beat.

And it was the finest neighborhood

That ever I was in,

To tattle and to back-bite

To them would be a sin.

The purest love and friendship

Existed, all around,

Entirely the best neighborhood

That ever I have found.

I gladly would go back there

To see the springs and hills,

And visit the old school house

And see the little rills.

At its head I often drank,

And viewed the old playground,

Perhaps some of my playmates

May yet be living round.

But the lapse of sixty years

May have made a mighty change,

And some of them, like myself,

May have taken a wide range.

But from the best accounts

That I can get or have,

More than half now

Are lying in the graves.

But still I had my parents

Till I was fifty-four,

To visit now and then,

And nearly six months more.

In the year of forty-three

Those loved ones were called away,

And I was left an orphan

In the month of May.

My mother about eighty,

My Father eight-five,

And I felt that I was loved,

Long as they were alive.

And still I had some sons

That were affectionate and kind,

But now they all have families,

And I seem left behind.

They invite me to their homes,

And I would oftener go,

But my business and my care

At home demand me so.

And here I sit alone,

From one month to another,

And of late I feel deserted

By my kind, attentive brother.

Perhaps he may be sick,

Or there is some reason why

If I thought it was neglect,

O, then I’d have to cry.

And here I sit alone, with

My windows darkened o’er.

I cannot bear the light,

For my eyes they are so sore.

Sometimes I sit and rock me,

Sometimes I walk the floor,

Sometimes I sing or cry,

Or talk my troubles o’er.

When I look back on my way,

And view the path I’ve trod,

They loving kindness, O, how great,

Thy mercy, O, My God!

O, spare me yet a few more days,

With grace to act my part,

O make me pure and spotless too,

And fully cleanse my heart.

And When I’m called from hence away,

Grant me some humble seat,

In that fair clime where Jesus is,

To sit beneath his feet.

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