The Civil War: Brothers Enlisted and Left Father to Work Farm
Mother and daughter forced to work on tillage after brothers enlisted and father took sick during the Civil War.
Oh, I wonder if it is as plain in
other people's memories who were living in those days as it is in mine, of the
happy days before the Civil War when my brothers and sisters and I were home on
the mountain farm with our father and mother. My father had a farm of 160
acres, all under good tillage. But then the Civil War broke out and the cry came
for soldiers. My two brothers, who were scarcely young men grown, as were our
three hired farm hands heard the call. The five left home and enlisted. It was
in the midst of haying time, leaving my father without a soul to help him.
Then it was that my dear mother and
1 had to take a hand out of doors. There were no mowing machines at that time
or horse rakes. At that time, Father mowed the grass by hand with a scythe. It
fell my lot to turn the grindstone to grind that scythe. Sometimes 1 thought my
arms would break before the grinding was done. When Father mowed the grass, 1
had to follow with a pitch fork and spread it out to dry. Then after dinner
Father, Mother and I would all fall to and rake it into windrows. Then Father
would get the horses and big wagon, and I made load and Mother raked after.
Then when the load was made, Father would drive on to the barn floor. I on top
of the load would get on the scaffold and mow it away. I was only a weak girl
of 15 years, but Father could not get help for love nor money. In the midst of
this my father was taken sick. He had worked too hard.
We had finished the haying, but it
was clear along in September and the harvesting was to be done with no one but
my mother and myself, beside two small boys, my brothers, who were of very
little use. We had very large fields of potatoes to dig and turnips. I remember
it so well; we had 170 bushels of turnips and such a quantity of potatoes. I
can't tell how many, but I can remember the number of bushels of turnips
because when I pulled them, I gave the little boys two cents a bushel for
cutting off the tops.