Genealogy and History
Part of the Genealogy Trails History Group
Letter from Omri Daniels to Mary Bradley
Submitted by Mallory Smith: The following letter was sent to Miss Mary Bradley by my great uncle, Omri Emery Daniels, in 1941, when he was 85. Omri, fourth of six children John Daniels Jr and Candace Sarah Emery, was born in Rock Run on 21 Jun 1852. His father died in January 1858, three years after completing their "stone house" in Rock City. His mother became the third wife of William Z Tunks in 1867. Mr. Tunks, longtime Justice of Peace in Stephenson County, was also superintendent of the College school along with John Burrill. Omri's older brothers, Albert Paul and Henry Brown Daniels, were enrolled at the College School in 1854. The Daniels came to Stephenson county approximately 1839; almost certainly with the Farwell family. Omri's aunt, Mahala Daniels, was married to Isaac Farwell Jr, and his uncle Nelson Daniels later moved on with the Farwells to Arena Iowa Co., Wisconsin. (Isaac Farwell's parents and Omri's grandmother, Phebe Miller Daniels, are buried in the Howard Union Cemetery just over the Winnebago co. line.) The Emery also came to the area in 1839 (Aug 16th, 1839) and their property straddled the county line road with their stone home on the Winnebago co side. John Daniels Jr and Candace Emery married 3 Jul 1844. The letter was written as two long paragraphs and had a number of typos which I have corrected to make it easier to read.
Grand Junction, Colo., Feb. 24-41
I received your kind letter this morning and will try to answer your request. I am not a good composer and you will find many places to correct me.
First, the old school was located right on the cross just to the N.E. of where it is now. It was built entirely of oak except the seats and desk and it was lath and plastered. It stood east and west and there were three windows on the north and three on the south side and the outside was sided with plain 6 inch boards and you can imagine how warm or cold it might be.
The first families I can remember were the Highlands, Armstrongs, Burrells (Burrill) and Stinsons, and at that time it was considered the best school in the county. There were other families in the district but I cannot recall them.
They had their debating societies, singing school, and their rhetorical's each Friday and social gatherings which were enjoyed better those days than they are now. All were considered on an equal and a calico dress was in style. Most of our clothes were woolen spun, woven and made in the home.
The school got along fine until they hired Mr. Bouk (sp?) then she began to go down. No social affairs except a spelling (bee) occasionally. The attendance was large. We had to have reading and spelling twice a day and you can guess how much time there would be after hearing the ABC first-second, third-fourth and fifth readers then perhaps a class or two of arithmetic. Girls recess then boys recess and when the boys were called in Bouk might be at the door with rod in his hand and every boy that did not come in on the run he would get a rod on his back. This at recess and noon.
When I was learning multiplication numbers he (Mr Bouk) stood over me with the rod. He would raise the rod and say hurry up and he would keep us there until heard every class if it took until dark. After they got in at noon one day he lock the door and said to John Armstrong to come up here. John started up, and Bouk stumbled backward on the rostrum and kicked John in the stomach which almost bent him over double and hurt him so he cried and Bouk told him to take his seat and he put the club full on John's back . One stroke hit John in the forehead and cut a big gash and covered his face with blood. Then he told him he might go out and wash his face. When John got out he hiked it for home. That night the Directors had a meeting. Hyland, Armstrong and Burrel (Burrill.) They decided Bouk must not touch their children but he could do as he liked with the others. He gave James Fitzpatrick and Joe of Luke Flynn one of those lickings and the girls did not miss punishment no matter how old. One morning a young lady by the name of Ann Bradley done something I do not know what. He made her hold out the dictionary until she cried then he was very penitent and promised something if she would not cry.
When the R.R. was built through Davis and on west, the R.R. Co. sent back to Ireland and brought over lots of the citizens to work on the R.R. Now these were people that never had the chance of school and is it any wonder he (Mr. Bouk) had a degrading effect on their children and all other that went to school to him. Myself with the others, and I am mighty old, note the advancements they have made since I went west.
I did not know my soul was my own, cowed down like a whipped cur. Johnnie Hyland was the first one to give me my courage. Billy Fitzpatrick and I were staunch friends and how my temper did boil when I heard of his death caused by an unscrupulous saloon keeper just to make a few pennies on doped up poisonous liquor. New York City lost hundreds of people on the same recipe. I could tell you of many things comical and other serious but I so not wish to. My step-father (William Z Tunks) was justice of the peace and many things happened at our house I care not to mention. Many of the people that came to work on the R.R. bought places in our district and the one to the north and it gave the name Irish Grove to that community and I have never been ashamed of it.
I have three pictures of the old stone house The Smiths, that your uncle bought the farm of, I think have all passed on. They were all accounted for but Asa. He went west and they never heard from him. The Fosslers are all gone (Omri's sister Candace Leticia Daniels married Henry Fossler,) quite a number of the grand children with them. Mary married a man that for some reason could not get ahead but her oldest son I am told is a millionaire in California. Where the Nibloes lived there was a man by the name of Sprague. He with John Hamilton that married Nancy Armstrong (HAMILTON, JOHN M ARMSTRONG, NANCY L 1861-10-03 I/ WINNEBAGO Illinois Marriage Index) was accused of stealing Uncle Patrick Stinsons horses, but it could not be proven. Father came home one night, put his horse in the barn, after supper he went out and the horse was gone, never heard from. Went the same way as the Stinsons did. I do not think you want much more of this.
O.E. Daniels Sr.
Silver Creek Twp. Stephenson County IL - February 17, 1839
"...you wrote in your last that your health was poor & that your task was too hard & you asked advice what to do. Now I will give it...& that is, close your school as quick as circumstances will admit & come home & live with us & be contented, & we'll all try to make you as happy as we can...if anybody wants you enough to come after you, then let them come. If not, let them stay away, & you remain here with us, & if you should wish to go in to a school occasionally, there is no doubt but you can do well with less trouble here than at the East. Cornelia ets $14 per month & board & was busy and has but five scholars. You can probably get chances at Galena whenever you choose in private family, but we do not wish you to go at all if you will be contented at home with us. Just give up your high notions & come home & be one of Loring Snow's humble family & I think we may yet be a happy one.
Now a little about the family...About Elen. She is as healthy & happy as can be wished. She is getting to be quite a scholar. I think she is going to learn easy, but thin-lipped Charley is a good natured, good-hearted little fellow & I suppose would give you as soft a kiss as ever, but he had much rather hunt & trap prairie hens, than to learn anything like reading or spellling, but I hope if you come out, you will be able to exert his ambition a little. Mortimer cares for little else but to be a complete Hoosier, but I still hope he will...try to be a gentleman....As for Oscar & Marion, they have had an invitation to go to Rockford on Rock River to celebrate Washington's Birthday at the house kept by a Mr. Thurston from Troy whose daughter attended Mrs. Willard's Seminary and came out here last fall. It is 24 miles from us. Oscar will not go this year, as it is not convenient, but Marion is going with a Mr. Hunt of Freeport, from York State. There is now going but some that think themselves at the head of the heap....
I am going to build in the Spring, intend to get into it by the first of May. The annexed is a plan of the cabin.... [follows with a drawing of the plan of the house, showing each room: parlor, kitchen, bedrooms, winter kitchen, closets, etc.., as well as a separate "log cook room", and "garden east of the house"]...Ma says that you must go six miles west of Rochester to the great garden & get all kind of seeds to put in that garden, for it is the handsomest spot you ever saw.
Feby the 21st. We received your letter to Marion last night. She will answer it in a few days, but she goes to Rockford tomorrow & after that she will write you all the particulars of her trip. The snow is gone - what little we had, and they go in the stage coach. It is like an April day today. We have had 5 or 6 weeks of snow...this month has been very warm, wonder if it has been so with you, & so was January, but Dec. was cold as was Nov. also.
Ma says you must not think of going South to teach, but if you don't marry, you must come home & live with us..."
Loring Snow was born 5 May 1792 in Plainfield Mass and died 25 August 1866 Stephenson Co IL. His wife Loring Snow married Roxanna Gilbert who was born 9 April 1795 in New Lebanan N.Y. and died 11 February 1856 in Stephenson Co Il. Both are buried at Freeport City Cemetery. They were the parents of 8 children: Melvina, Oscar Phildelus, Marian, Abijah, Charles Phelps, Ellen, John Vernon and Nicholas. (Information from Alice Horner)
Contributed by Karen Fyock
Joliet, Ill., Jan. 27, 1927
My Dear Wild:
I wonder if you'll mind my using this "copy" paper. Somehow it seems more natural, since reading several clippings from the Gazette, sent me by my sister, Mrs. Charles Shidler, for they certainly brought back vivid memories of the day when I wrote the high school "items" for the Gazette when Burrows was the owner and you were foreman, and later when you and I published the paper. Let's see! That was back in 1892, thirty-five years ago. My, how time does fly. You know on the rare occasions when I visit Lanark, I feel as though it were a strange place - there are so few of my old friends still living there. But when I read those clippings I began to realize that there are still a good many, if not in Lanark, yet within the range of the circulation of the Gazette. When I saw the familiar, if somewhat grizzled, face of our old friend, Peter Horner, the house-mover and cider-maker, I could hardly believe it is almost 44 years since that kindly good-natured boy, Fred Horner, came to cal on the strange boy that had moved in from the country and offered his friendship that was more than welcome. Fred and I don't see much of each other in these later days, but we were close chums during my brief period in the Lanark High School under Prof. Oldt. We graduated in the same class and later went west together to seek our fortunes. I was greatly interested, too, in the letter from Mrs. Dilley, a former neighbor, and Cal Sleer's reply. You see the Sleers were among my very earliest recollections. Cal's mother grew to womanhood in the neighborhood where I was born and spent my childhood, over near what is now Pearl City, but was then called Yellow Creek, and at an earlier date, Andrew's Mill. The Sleers, on their occasional visits to the country, used to visit at our home, and Cal's sister Nettie sometimes spent her summer vacations with us on the farm. The account of Lafe Penticoff's death carries me many years back of my Lanark experiences. It was in 1873 that my grandparents, with whom I lived moved to a farm three miles south of Pearl City in what was known as the Hershey school district, where I went to school for more than eight years.
Among my schoolmates were Frank and "Hi" Penticoff, and I can well remember when little roly poly Lafe came to school with his sister Rosie. And that reminds me of the custom, in those days, of designating individuals by descriptive or exclamatory prefixes to their names. There was quite a settlement of Penticoffs in the district, all related more or less closely, and sometimes there was a duplication of names. Lafe's father was "Red Jake," from his reddish hair and beard; "Prairie" John lived on the prairie, "Little" George wasn't really so very small, but he was shorter than most of the others; "Black" John was a stalwart fellow with coal black hair and beard; "Old" Rube wasn't so old, but he had a venerable and dignified appearance. Even the women didn't escape, for I recall a dark browed, dark skinned husky housewife who was known to us children as "Black Jane". All of this tribe contributed pupils to Hershey's school, and they had some school in those days, believe me. The enrollment was sixty or more and they ranged from the toddlers of five or six (I started when I was three, But in an adjoining district) to young men past twenty-one, and when that gang took a dislike to a teacher he, or she, didn't have a chance in the world. One of the most successful teachers of that school, at least in my experience, was a little cross-eyed Vermont Yankee who taught the school during the winter of 1872-73 and once or twice after that. Any of the big boys could have broken him in two, but there was an irresistible twinkle in that cross eye of his and he seemed to be able to see out of the back of his head, so that he never had the least bit of trouble in maintaining discipline. His name was C. M. Hotchkiss, and he is the father of Mrs. Will Garner - and my uncle. If you could get Uncle Matt started he could tell you stories of the experience of early country school teachers which would be quite as interesting and sometimes more exciting than the tales in "The Hoosier School Master." But here I go, rambling all over memory's back lot. First thing I know I'll be writing my memoirs, and since it would be just like you to go and print this in your paper, you would have to crowd out a lot of good paid advertising. Anyhow, I've enjoyed a pleasant half hour reminiscing, and if you do print this, I hope not only the old timers but some of the younger generation as well will find it interesting.
BACK - HOME
© Genealogy Trails