Jessie Scott Millener
One of the first things I remember is waiting with John and our cousins, Frank and Scott McDonald, for Grandfather Scott to take us to the Platte River to get cattails. Scott and Frank were sons of Aunt Jessie and lived in Indianapolis, Indiana. They were visiting Grandfather and Grandmother Scott.
Grandfather Scott and Father owned some land on the Platte River about two miles from Ashland. When we were older we soaked the cattails in coal oil and burned them as torches.
At this time, Grandfather and Grandmother Scott were living above the Grocery Store. I remember playing on the roof outside their living quarters. They then moved to a house later occupied by the Arnold family. This place was next door to the Snell house, which was a large red brick dwelling. I do not remember when they lived there. Later our grandparents moved up on the hill to a large white frame house, later called the Palmer House, for Mr. and Mrs. Palmer, the parents of Mrs. Jessie Palmer Laverty, who lived there in later years.
Their next move was to the brown cottage, just a block from us, across from the Congregational Church. Aunt Hattie and Uncle Rom had been living in the cottage. They and Uncle Hugh Scott, who never married, went to Atlanta, Georgia, where they established a jewelry store and had a contract with the railroads to keep the watches of railroad employees in perfect time.
Uncle George Scott, a bachelor for years, lived at the Hotel Selma. This hotel was owned by the Wiggenhorn family. The Wiggenhorn bank was in this building and the building was called Selma after the youngest daughter of Mr. Wiggenhorn, Sr.
Grandfather and Grandmother Scott were living in the cottage when they celebrated their golden wedding in 1895. All the children were there, except Aunt Jessie, who was not living. The reception in the evening was held in our house and I think about the whole town was invited.
I remember Mrs. Snell, who lived in the big red brick house, previously mentioned, came almost too early, sat down in a rocking chair and remained there until almost everyone had gone. I also remember Mrs. Chickering, who had a dry goods store in Ashland, coming early and bringing a big golden colored lamp with a big gold color shade, as a gift from a number of people. It seems to me, I remember fifty gold dollars being presented as a gift from other friends.
In the dining room, white muslin went half way up from the floor all around the room, trimmed in smilax. The dining room table was trimmed in smilax and in the center was a big wedding cake of several tiers, topped by figures of a wedding couple. Also were small white boxes of the cake for everyone to take home. Uncle Frank and Aunt Julia had sent the cake from New York City.
The reception line was in the back sitting room. Grandmother Scott wore a black brocade silk dress with big leg of mutton sleeves, a gift from Aunt Julia. This dress, I gave to the Costume Department of the Kansas City, Missouri Museum.
Aunt Anne looked beautiful in an Empire style yellow satin dress. She had blue black hair and deep violet blue eyes.
I remember friends, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Waugh, who had come from Plattsmouth for the reception. Mrs. Waugh was a short plumb woman, with black hair and sparkling black eyes, very vivacious. Her husband, a banker, was a large man, tall and stately.
Another thing I remember about this event was going over to Grandmother's the day before the reception and seeing all the family gathered together. I was much impressed because Aunt Hattie was wearing a bracelet which she told me, Uncle Rom had locked on and kept the key.
This gathering together of the family took place during a depression. I remember my shoes were so shabby, I tried to keep my feet out of sight.
Grandfather and Grandmother Scott were married January 10, 1845 at West Lebanon, Indiana.
On May 18, 1895, five months after the golden wedding, Grandfather Scott died in Richmond, Indiana, where he and Grandmother had gone to visit their daughter, Mrs. Anna Scott Jackson.
After Grandfather passed away, Grandmother continued to live in the cottage. Sophia, who had come over from Sweden, worked for her for a number of years. On Sunday nights, Uncle George, John and I were invited for Sunday night suppers. Grandmother always read from a book of family devotions, instead of offering thanks for our food. We always had baking powder biscuits and Uncle George taught John and me table manners.
The cottage had a good size parlor with the square Steinway piano in it. There was a small bedroom off from it in which was the bureau in John's possession. There was a large living room and a large bedroom opening off the east side and a small dining room opening off the south side. A small bedroom for the hired girl opened off one side of the dining room and a kitchen from the south side. Two pictures painted by Aunt Abby, Grandmother Scott's half-sister hung on the walls of the living room. These pictures were done in crayon pastel and under glass as a crayon picture must never be rubbed.
One picture was the bust of a young girl with parted hair, a rose red blouse with lace collar, very Victorian. This picture is now in the possession of my nephew, John William Scott. Mrs. Warren Beach, Director of the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery, told me it was better than most paintings found in private homes. The other picture was a three quarter figure of a young woman in a colorful dress, with a draped blue turban. Aunt Anne told me it hung in Aunt Hattie's home after Grandmother moved there. When Aunt Hattie and Uncle George sold her house and moved to an apartment, Uncle George must have disposed of it, for it disappeared. Aunt Hattie was ill at the time.
It is a great pity we allowed the oil painting of Aunt Hattie to get out of our family. This was a picture of Aunt Hattie on horseback. The horse was black with a long tail. Aunt Hattie was riding side saddle. She had on a long flowing light blue riding habit and a perky little hat with a long feather. Her eyes were blue and her blond hair hung to her waist. This picture, I now know, is what is called a primitive and an art gallery would value it very much. At the time it was painted, artists would paint on canvas, backgrounds and different positions of figures, both men and women, leaving faces and hand unpainted. They would go around different places and people would pay for the picture, the artist painting in the face and hands of whoever wanted it. This picture was given to Aunt Hattie by a Mr. Coffin who lived in Richmond, Indiana. He was a very ardent beau of Aunt Hattie's. She did not like him and gave the picture to Grandmother.
Grandmother Scott was a great reader and every time I went over to see her, she was usually in a rocking chair, reading. She had a long black cape with a mink fur lining. She kept this over her chair and wore out the mink sitting on it.
In her bedroom was a large walnut bed, a walnut bureau and a round walnut table. I have always been sorry that the bureau was taken apart, the lower part kept as a chest and the large glass hung as a mirror above it. Elizabeth had this done when she helped Betty and John furnish their house.
The bed and bureau were moved to our house and when we sold our house, I stored them in the attic of the Harnsberger home. The walnut bed and mother's walnut bed, I had made into twin beds and used them until Elizabeth and I moved to First Avenue in San Diego, where I sold them as Elizabeth had two good mahogany beds. John has the table, also a stand which was in the cottage.
There was also in the dining room a walnut table with a leaf which could be turned around making a square table or the leaf could stand up against the wall or lay flat on top of the table. There was a drawer in the table. This table was made in Grandfather's furniture factory in Richmond, Indiana. This table is in my possession.
A story told to me about the table is that one night when the family lived in the Arnold house, some of the children and Grandfather were playing cards on this table. Grandfather looked up and saw the preacher coming up the walk. He swept the cards into the drawer and when the preacher entered the room, there was not a sign that a card game had been in progress. At that time a church member was not supposed to dance or play cards. Grandfather Scott was a deacon in the Congregational church but he was liberal in his views and did not consider it a sin to dance or play cards.
I have the little rocking chair which was in Grandmother's kitchen. It is handmade of hickory wood. It originally had a cane bottom seat but Betty made a cross stitch cushion for it. I also have three small stands or tables of walnut. All this furniture was brought to Nebraska from Richmond, Indiana in 1870.
In Grandmother's bedroom was a map on a standard. I must have been six feet long and three feet wide. It unfolded by rolling the map at the sides. It was a pictorial history of the world and began with Adam and Eve and the seven tribes of Israel, then the history of the world depicted by historical events of each century. I think it ended in the year 1883. I treasured this map for years, and it always created a great deal of interest. When we moved to First Avenue in San Diego, there seemed no place to put this map, so I gave it to the National Council of Churches in San Diego. I have often wished I had kept it.
Father must have built our house in 1881. John and I were born in the house opposite Dr. Kirkpatrick's house, later bought by Mr. Ray Brush. I was a baby not more than six months old when we moved into our house. The house was of brick - double brick walls - the brick a soft brick made in Ashland.
The original house had four rooms on the first floor and four above, a big bay window on both floors. Later Father added an addition, a large kitchen and pantry and a bedroom on the first floor, two bedrooms and a small bathroom above, a back staircase and a long hall. The front of the house had an enclosed stairway, opening on a rather wide hall connecting with the long hall.
Just think of the poor planning which placed the bathroom at the end of the long hall, in the oldest part of the house and as far away from the kitchen plumbing as could be. It seems to me in the winter a plumber was always there, taking care of frozen pipes. Later this part of the house was remodeled. The bedroom and bathroom were made into a large bedroom. The bedroom over the kitchen was made into a large bathroom and a very large closet.
There were two porches, one at the front of the house and one at the side with an uncovered porch by the kitchen. By the kitchen porch was a pump and a rainbarrel. The house had a tin roof and both porches had tin roofs painted red. The house was painted white with green trim.
We had a large yard, one fourth of a block. Grandfather Scott set out hard maple trees in the yard and outside the sidewalk on the North and East sides of the house. He also set out a long grape arbor and a grapevine on the rear of the house. The grape arbor had Concord grapes and the grapevine on the house had white grapes. The white grapes were small and very sweet. Later when we found no way to use the white grapes, we gave them to a Mr. Peterson who had a truck farm. He made wine out of them.
English Ivy covered the front of the house. Mother had a green thumb. She could make anything grow. The bay windows were filled with plants, the flowers turned toward the street, so people going by could see them. Hanging baskets hung from the ceiling in the bay window.
On the north side of the yard were two fir trees and in one corner of the yard a weeping willow and another one on the far side of the yard. A big tree which had large white blossoms in the spring, was on the west side of the yard. This was a catalpa tree. There was a white rail fence around the yard, except on the west side where there was a high picket fence. On the South side was an alley, separating our place from the Fuller's.
A woodshed, another shed with a slanting roof and an outhouse were on the Southwest of the alley. Red raspberries and blackberries grew along the picket fence and currant bushes were on the west side of the grape arbor. Along the north side and south side were rose bushes which blossomed in the spring. Two big Syringa bushes were on the southeast side of the arbor. We had two cherry trees, a plum tree and an apple tree in the backyard. On the east side of the arbor was a long bed with monthly roses and a big plant of Chinese lilies.
In the center of the front yard on the south was a circular bed with a large castor bean in the center, surrounded by cannas, sometimes by salvia or red sage. Two peony bushes were on the north side. We had astors, nasturtiums, delphinium, all kinds of flowers. I remember Mother in the winter would order from Burpee's catalog, daffodil and crocus bulbs, and narcissus bulbs. She would plant the bulbs in flower pots and put them in a dark place until the bulbs developed. She often put daffodil bulbs in dishes of water with pebbles to hold them and grew them in this way. Of course, we always had tulips, Lily of the Valley, and violets - the sweet smelling English violets.
The backyard was changed several times. The outhouse was removed and a barn for the store delivery horses was built, with an ice house on the upper story of the barn. Later on when we had chickens, the apple tree was cut down.
John thought he would like to raise chickens. He bought some expensive white Leghorn eggs and two or more hens to hatch the eggs. Father built an expensive chicken house and a runway. Before the eggs were hatched, John told us girls we could have the chickens and any money we made. I will never forget those chickens. Before the chicks were able to take care of themselves, we had to get them in the chicken house whenever it started to rain. No matter where we were, we had to go home to see them.
The chickens were beautiful. Father paid out a lot of money for feed and we made such pets of them, we couldn't bear to eat them or sell them. In the early evening in the summer, we would let them out and all of them would make a beeline for the Fuller yard. I can see Mrs. Fuller chasing them off with a broom stick.
We had plenty of eggs, but all of us finally decided it was expensive the way we handled them and we did not want trouble with our neighbors, so we sold them and tore down the chicken house.
Another time we had a cow. John was supposed to milk her. We had a wonderful rich cream and milk, but this experience did not last long either.
We had a little dog, a rat terrier. He was a puppy so small that Father brought him home in his coat pocket. He was named Dandy and lived fifteen or more years. As he was getting cross, I think Father had him put to sleep. Anyway, he disappeared and we never knew what happened to him. Dandy always slept at the foot of my bed. He was a very small dog with a big bark. He always barked at people, so people who did not know us were afraid of him. He never bit any one.
Clement had a dog we loved. His name was Rex and he lived seven or more years. He was a mongrel, medium size and bow legged, shaggy black and gray hair. He would take us to school and then go back home.
John had two beautiful bird dogs given to him, brown and white. They were puppies and the first night we had them, we let them stay in the house. In the morning, one of the arms of a chair was chewed a lot and several things damaged. We did not have them long, for they had been poisoned. I think they had been killing chickens in the neighborhood.
We had cats and kittens. We fed every stray cat which came to the house and of course a couple stayed. We also had a canary which we loved. When the bird died, I lined a cigar box and put the bird in it and we had a funeral service when we buried it under the Syringa bush.
We had a glorious childhood. Father and Mother never punished us, and they were always doing things for us. When Mother was first married, she had nice things in the house, but the five of us and all our friends wore out the carpet and furniture and the house was never as well furnished again. Mother always said she wanted the children to come to our home, then she knew what we were doing.
We played Hide and Seek, Black Man's Base, etc. One of the favorite places to hide was on the top of the sloping roof of the shed, which we reached by climbing on the fence. We climbed the willow tree. I loved to play riding a horse on one of the limbs. We walked around on top of the fence and even on the tiny rail near the top of the picket fence.
Mrs. Hugo Wiggenhorn, who lived across the street, told me one time that when she was sitting on the porch and saw us doing all these things, she thought we would surely get hurt sometime. John did fall out of a tree in Grandfather's yard and broke his arm.
We caught grasshoppers under a glass and liked to see them spit "tobacco juice." Also we tried to catch lightening bugs, calling out to them:
Lady bug, lady bug
Go away home
Your house is on fire
Your children will burn.
Uncle Frank Scott sent John a magic lantern one time for Christmas. We had big folding doors between the parlor and the sitting room and between the sitting room and back sitting room. Mother would put up a sheet on the latter doors and John would show his slides on that. All the children in the neighborhood would come to see them. We also had shadow pictures. We would open the folding doors and put up a sheet. I am sure Mother was not around when one time to get a certain effect we jumped over a lighted lamp.
We had taffy pulls. Mother made a vinegar candy which when we pulled for a while turned white. We also popped corn and made popcorn balls. We also played charades and musical chairs.
We girls dressed up in Mother's clothes. One time I even got hold of some of her jewelry.
On Saturday afternoon, we always parboiled navy beans, then put them in a crock with strips of salt pork and baked them all afternoon. I suppose Grandfather Shedd started the Saturday night baked beans suppers. We all liked the beans, except Elizabeth, who always had to have something else. I believe I liked the beans best when warmed up for breakfast. I remember one time, Father, without telling us, and as he was the last one to go to bed, put the crock of beans in the place where the ashpan of the base burner was. Someone in the morning shook ashes all over them. They were uncovered, so no beans for breakfast.
I will never forget what a beautiful sight it was to come into the room from outside on a cold, snowy day and see the base burner with the isinglass in the doors all aglow. It was so cozy sitting all together around the stove.
Clem, as soon as he was old enough, had to bring in the coal for the base burner and for the range in the kitchen and empty the ashes. This makes me think of the early fall before we had a furnace and before the base burner was brought in. We closed the doors between the parlor and the sitting room and used the grate in the parlor. This fireplace with grate, I always understood, was the first one in Ashland. It was rather a small grate, iron rods extended out a little from the pan holding the coal. Father was able to keep a hard coal fire going in the grate. It always seemed to me one of our happiest times when we were together around the grate fire. The mantel was painted white and the hearth was marble.
We always had birthday parties. When I was in kindergarten or perhaps it was 1st grade, my teacher was a Mrs. Winfield, an older woman. On birthdays, our mothers baked cakes, which we took to school, so each child could have a piece.
Mother painted both china and in water color. At Valentine time, she would paint beautiful valentines for me to give to my friends.
And May basket time! What beautiful baskets we made with long curly fringe in different colors. We filled them with candy and flowers. We would leave the basket at the door of a friend and then run.
At Easter time, our kitchen was a mess, for Mother let us dye all the Easter eggs we wanted to dye. We opened a tiny hole at the top and bottom of the egg and blew out the inside before we dyed them. Some people hard boiled the eggs before they were dyed.
My friends and I enjoyed playing stores. We would set up a box and have a scrap of ribbon and pieces of material which our mothers gave us, placed on top of the box. We sold the items for so many pins.
We also made hats. We took large grape leaves and trimmed them with flowers and went around wearing them on our heads. We also had lemonade stands. Our mothers made or let us make lemonade which we sold for a penny a glass.
On Fourth of July, we always got up early. There was an old soldier, Captain Smith, who had a small cannon. He always fired this cannon early in the morning. We had firecrackers which we shot off. We placed a bunch in an empty tin can, lighted them and then ran. The can sometimes went high up in the air.
There was always a parade down Silver Street, and a fireworks display in the evening. It must have been before the town had the fireworks in the evening, that Father had fireworks in the evening for the whole neighborhood. He had Roman candles, sky rockets, pinwheels, etc., and always ended by sending up a good size balloon.
Decoration Day was also an eventful day. In the morning, women would take flowers down to the GAR hall and make bouquets for the graves of war veterans. I and some of my friends were often flower girls. A procession of carriages would form to go to the cemetery, not far from the edge of town. We flower girls, dressed in white, rode together. The procession was always headed by the Justice of the Peace, Mr. Jesse Moore, on horseback.
When we reached the cemetery, we placed flowers on the veterans' graves, which were marked by a small flag. Then in the center of the cemetery, there would be a program of prayer and singing, and Mr. Crane, I believe called Captain Crane, would deliver a regular oration. He would go on and on until everyone was tired out. Decoration Day was a great time for the gathering together of relatives and friends.
Our greatest celebration and for all the neighborhood was Christmas. Father would spend all afternoon Christmas Day decorating the Christmas tree. We hung up our stockings Christmas Eve and Christmas morning would find small gifts, but the big presents came in the evening. Father would close the doors between the parlor and living room. Our ceilings were twelve feet high and he always got a tree which reached to the ceiling. When he opened the doors, the tree was a beautiful sight. Christmas tree candles were used and Christmas tree ornaments sparkled in the candle light.
Mother always made little stockings out of colored mosquito netting which she filled with candy and nuts. Each child received a stocking and an orange. There were often twenty-five children there.
Father was one of the kindest men I have ever known. Even when he was hard pressed financially, I never knew him to refuse me a nickel or a dime when I asked him for one. He often gave me and my friends little bags of candy. I am sorry I never saved the letters sent to us after he passed away.
One letter was from a large wholesale firm, which wrote that father was the most honest man they had ever come across in this business. It seems that a mistake was made one time. A large consignment of cigars was sent to Father by mistake. He could have made $1000 and no one would have ever found out the mistake. He returned the cigars.
Will Rosecrans, who was a paper hanger, came to me and said he and his family would have starved during a depression if Father had not furnished them groceries, not knowing when if ever he would be paid for them.
Father made us wonderful kites. He showed us how to roll up sheets of newspapers and tie on a long long string 8 or 10 inches apart. The string was attached to the kite and of course the longer the string, the higher the kite would soar. Sometimes the kite landed in a tree. Sometimes we were fortunate enough to reclaim the kite.
When I think of picnics, I always think of Mother. She always put up about three times as much lunch for us to take with us for fear some child might not have enough lunch.
I have been thinking of the great changes in women's clothes since my teenage days. Even the young girls wore dresses ankle length. If one could own a silk petticoat, she was most fortunate. My cloth dresses or skirts would have 24 inch facings of silk. The more one rustled, the more stylish it was. One skirt was faced with red silk and when walking on the street, I would hold up my skirt a little, so the red silk would show.
After graduation from High School, I went with Grandmother Scott to visit Aunt Anne Jackson in Richmond, Indiana. When I returned home, Aunt Anne had given me some new clothes - a beautiful red silk blouse, a pink silk blouse, a pink organdy dress with ruffles at intervals from the top of skirt to bottom, a white dotted swiss dress, and a beautiful white leghorn hat trimmed in red ribbon and red nasturtiums. With the latter, when wearing the white dotted swiss dress, I wore a red ribbon sash and a red ribbon around my throat. A young person in Ashland asked if I had a sore throat.
One time I had a red velvet hat with 2 yellow ostrich plumes. It must have been most inappropriate to wear in a small town. Another time I had a really beautiful dark green felt hat, trimmed very simply.
And our underwear! I will never forget the umbrella drawers. Each leg must have measured a yard around the bottom, trimmed in lace or embroidery, always starched. We wore at least two, sometimes more. I had a beautiful red silk parasol. When walking in the sun, I would hold the parasol by my side, so one could not see through my clothes. When we wore organdy dresses, we wore elaborately trimmed camisoles which showed through the organdy. At one time we wore hip pads. I often think how beautiful the young girls looked in their colorful organdy dresses carrying very pretty parasols. Often the parasols had fringe around the edge.
There was a seamstress in Ashland, an old maid, Emma Case. She sewed for 50 cents a day. After mother passed away, I wanted Dorothea, Elizabeth and myself to have nice underwear. Father was very good to us. He let us have Miss Case come to the house to sew and she would be with us days, making pretty undergarments for us. Later we learned to sew. Each of us had twelve beautiful nightgowns, made out of nainsook and trimmed with valenciennes lace and insertion. We always ran colored ribbon through the insertion.
I have never forgotten that Miss Case said only women of bad reputation wore rouge.
Later Marie Churchill came to the house to sew. I remember one Saturday night before Easter, she worked until midnight so I could have a new dress to wear on Easter. Later she and her sister, Anne, opened a dressmaking shop. They also sold hats and dresses.