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Genealogy Trails - Calhoun County, Illinois

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Family News Gleanings

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Mrs. J. W. Clendenny, Mozier, Ill.
Republican: Writing flowing letters in not my pastime. In fact that is altogether out of my line of work. I class with the old timers, and like most of the old timers have spent almost a life at hard work. I did not have the advantage of free schools when I was a child, like the children do now. Three months is the longest term of school that I ever attended. All of our schools those days were subscription schools, so poor parents could not afford to send many children to school much of the time. My father, James Kitson, was born in Virginia, but at an early age with his parents moved to Kentucky where he met and married Elizabeth Shuck who became my mother. They lived in Kentucky until 1840 when they moved to Missouri, settling in Lincoln county. They raised a family of six children, of which I am the youngest but one, being born June 9, 1842. Christmas when I was a child at home with father and mother and brother and sisters was a glad joyous day. Each child was given on that day a new garment, and was taught to be content with that. Doll, trains of cars, dogs, monkeys, toy guns and all such things were not thought of then- at least by us. We always had a good dinner on that day, to which lots of the neighbors were invited and a general good time indulged in. Father a few days before Christmas, would take his rifle and go out in the woody hills and he was sure to return with a deer or wild turkey, and maybe both. That constituted our meat for that day of all days, Christmas. After they were dressed (mother usually dressed the turkey) and ready to cook, they were hung up to await the coming of the day, when mother would proceed to roast or bake them, and always by an old fashioned fireplace, as cookstoves those days where known only to the rich people, and rich people were about as scarce as cook stoves. Christmas Eve brought everything but monotony. On the night the boys, young men, and old ones, too, would collect and form a company, armed with guns, bells, horns - anything that would serve to make a noise, and would go from house to house through the whole neighborhood ringing their bells, blowing the horns and firing the guns in their march around the house until at last they would be invited in and after a special repast of apples, pies, doughnuts, etc, they would move on to the next nearest neighbor, slighting no one. Christmas those days came to gladden the hearts of all people. It was a day when sociability and friendship was at high tide, a day when the cares of life were put aside and apparently we lived for that day only. I often wonder and ask, what has become of Christmas we used to know, when all the family would be gathered together at home, some of them traveling many miles to be with father and mother and the rest of the children. I love so well to think of those good times (there is a sadness that comes from the thoughts) that I can hardly get away from. I was married to James W. Clendenny, my present husband, Nov. 29, 1860, and we made Missouri our home for twelve years, living on rented land all of that time, as land there was held at too high a price for us to buy. On January 2, 1872 we left Missouri and came to Calhoun. We found land so much cheaper here at that time that we bought the place on which we live, a hundred and sixty acres, then all in the woods, two miles north of Mozier Landing. We worked hard and managed many ways to pay for our home and school our family of eight children, six boys and two girls, the youngest now 19 years old. It is hardly worth while to say anything about the modern Christmas. Christmas is still Christmas, and commemorates the same event that it has for 19 centuries but it seems to me as though it has lost lots of its former joys and pleasures. We still adhere to one of the old practices, that of having all our children home on Christmas and spend the day with us. I will close this letter as it so much longer now than I expected to make it by saying adieu to all we meet again.
[The Republican, Hardin, Illinois, 1903 Holiday Number - Submitted by Cheryl Clendenny]

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