The Poetry of Elsie Strawn Armstrong
"SKETCHES OF MY LIFE"
Pages 8-13

Transcribed and Donated by Leslie Howard Strawn


CHAPTER THIRD

When I was at a wedding

About thirty miles from home,

There I met a stranger,

Who to see me soon did come

“Twas reported he was rich;

And his family was good;

And all my people seemed to say

Marry him, I should.

He said his house was good,

And was already swept and garnished,

His furniture was of the best,

His house it was well furnished.

He said he had a brew-house

For which he paid a thousand,

And on the lot two others

Smaller, but good houses.

And he’d ninety-five acres

About one mile from town,

Under good improvements,

And it was the best of ground.

He had sold a large red house

Near the center of the town,

But some short time before,

And got half the money down.

He said I need not wet my hand,

Nor do nothing in the world,

He would not like to see me work,

He would rather keep a girl.

I told him that our family

Were all bound for the West,

They had all made up their minds

That Ohio was the best.

And my brother and my sister

Are now already there,

A living on some land

That my father did prepare.

And there are two hundred acres

A lying there for me,

They say it’s very good,

But the land I did not see.

He answered, “I’m determined

That I will go there too,

And how happy I should be

If I could go with you.

So the ninetieth day of May

The fatal knot was tied,

And in the month of September

We took a horseback ride.

We rode on to Ohio

To see our friends and land,

At which he seemed well pleased,

And said it was most grand.

When we rode among the walnuts

That lay upon the ground,

The cherry and the oak,

And the poplar standing round.

He exclaimed, “I am astonished,

I am tired of the town,

I’ll go home and I’ll sell out,

And come here and till this ground.”

And the clear fork of the Licking,

Ran through along one side,

And on it a good mill seat,

In which he took much pride.

He said, “I will improve it

As quick as ere I come,

For the mill seat and the race

Are already nearly done.”

And we found peculiar crab apples,

They were so large and yellow,

They looked so well and smelled so good,

You would have thought them mellow.

He said, “When we go back

We’ll take some of those to town,

To let them see the natural fruit

That grows upon this ground.”

So after we got back

He offered to sell out,

But his old companions

Kept turning him about.

They love to meet him at the grogshops,

The tavern or hotel,

For there he was no stranger,

And knew how to ring the bell.

I saw his time and property

Were all agoing to waste,

And I thought it would be better

For us to leave the place.

At length he did determine

Upon his price to fall,

Then there came a rich old Dutchman

Bought his brew-house, lots and all.

And so we left Pennsylvania

In the year of eleven,

The fifteenth day of April,

And now it’s fifty-seven.

CHAPTER FOURTH

When I came to Ohio

With my oldest little son,

I brought him in my arms,

And my age was twenty-one.

I do not think I rode

Ten miles of that long way,

But I walked and drove my cows,

With my child, from day to day.

My husband drove five horses,

And he found enough to do,

For the roads were very bad

And a good deal of them new.

The largest logs chopped off

And rolled out of the way,

But the smaller ones and rocks

Still in the road did lay.

Across the creeks and gullies

Few bridges then were made,

Neither on the said hill

Was plied the hoe and spade.

At night when I was tired,

Lay down some rest to take,

I would see the wagon falling,

And the fright would make me wake.

And in that hilly country

Among the rocks on the side hill,

If the wagon there upset

I feared it would us kill.

So I walked and drove the cows,

Sometimes got in to rest,

Then my afflicted child

Lay constant at my breast.

He then was one year old,

And sometimes would look about,

And not lay at my breast

When I was walking out.

There was a man came with us

To help us on the way,

But he let a noble horse run off,

Perhaps on the third day.

And for us to lose our cows

As well as that fine mare,

I thought it was not safe to trust

Our cows quite to his care.

The thing was understood

That I should ride that mare,

But soon after we got started

The mare did disappear.

Down the Monongahela River

He said he saw her going,

But for him to bring her back then

Was more than he could be doing.

In the year of eight,

Fifty-three years ago,

When I left my father’s house

For the state of Ohio.

My father put my saddle on her

And viewed her all around,

Laid his hand upon her hip and said,

“This mare’s worth fifty pounds.”

She was a noble animal,

She was both large and fine

Husband paid two horses for her

And then he called her mine.

He fancied most the gray,

The one that father to us gave,

We did not enjoy them long,

They did not with us live.

Her color, chestnut sorrel,

Her coat did always shine,

She had the best good sense,

Her nature, it was kind.

When I came to a steep hill

I would spring upon the ground,

For then it was my practice

The hills all to run down.

And she would follow after

As fast as well she could,

When she’d come down the hill

A canter, strike, she would.

And soon she’d overtake me,

And when I’d wish to ride,

I’d climb upon a top,

And she’d soon crowd up her side.

And safely she did carry me,

And kindly took me on;

Her gait was very pleasant,

A good horse to ride upon.

I seemed then left on foot

And confess I felt the loss

For in the wagon was poor riding

Compared to that good horse.

But I was not discouraged,

I trudged along the way,

And I thought when I got settled

I would see a better day.

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