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Full text of "Life of Asa G. Sheldon: Wilmington farmer"

I LIBRARY ) 

UNIVERSITY OF 
CALIFORNIA 

SAN DIEGO j 



3L, I 



ASA G. \SHELDONt 



WILMINGTON FAEMEE, 



IN TWO ARRANGEMENTS. 



WO BURN: 
: . 1. XOODY, PRINTER, JOURNAL PfiiiS^ 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1662, by 
ASA GOODELL SHELDON, 

IB the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of 
Massachusetts. 



PEEFAOE, 



To gratify the wishes of numerous 
friends, to indulge in living the past 
over again, to give what I may of 
encouragement to the temperate and 
diligent, to cheer the disheartened, 
amid the common trials of life, to give 
my voice of warning to the selfish 
and vicious, and to add a mite of ex- 
perimental knowledge to this age of 
improvement, this unpretending auto- 
biography is sent forth, hoping it may 
meet with the same kindly reception 
from friends and the community at 
large, as, for so many years, has its 

AUTHOR. 



if* of 



FIKST AKKANGEMENT. 



FIRST LINK IK THE CHAIN OF LIFE, 

I was born in Lynnfield, Mass., Oct, 
"24th, 1788. My first recollections are 
of the domestic circle, in connection 
with parents, brothers and sisters. 

My father, Jeremiah Sheldon, was 
son of Skelton Sheldon, and he a son 
of Godfrey Sheldon, the first on record 
in this country. He was a man of 
nniform cheerfulness, and sweet, even 
temper. I do not remember his ever 
speaking a cross word to me. In writ- 
ing, he possessed an uncommon tact y 
and in the capacity of clerk attended 
Judge Houghton several years in Con- 
gress, then sitting in Philadelphia. 

My mother's name was Elizabeth 
Goodell, of English extract on the ma- 



4 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

temal side, whose parent emigrated 
from the Isle of Barbadoes with seven- 
teen slaves. On her father's side she 
was direct descendant from General 
Putnam, who commanded in the mem- 
orable battle of Bunker Hill, on June 
17, 1775, where brave Warren fell. 
Like her world-renowned ancestor, she 
possessed indomitable energy and per- 
severance. The plan once formed, like 
Putnam when he shot the " Wolf in 
his den," was carried out with a deter- 
mination of purpose that brings an un- 
failing reward. Their children were 

ELBRIDGE, born Nov.- 18th, 1781, married 
Eleanor Harding. 

LUCINDA, born Aug. 7, 1783, married John 
Howard. 

SAMUEL HOUGHTON, born Dec. 26, 1786, 
married Sally French. 

ASA GOODELL, born Oct. 24, 1788, married 
Clarissa Eames. 

HARRIET, born Aug. 5, 1791. 

BETSEY, born Dec. 16, 1795. 

JEREMIAH, born Jan. 26, 1798, married an 
English lady in South America. 

SOPHIA, born Aug. 24, 1801, married Jo- 
seph R. Hathaway. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 5 

In my mother was strikingly exem- 
plified King Solomon's wise woman, 
who " seeketh wool and flax, and work- 
eth willingly with her hands." 

For many years she entered largely 
into the domestic manufacture of blue 
and white striped woollen Frocking, 
then generally used by farmers, team- 
sters and butchers ; and so slow were 
the inroads made by time on her vigor- 
ous constitution, that she was able to 
follow that business until within four 
years of her death, which occurred at 
the advanced age of 94 years and 41 
days. When in her 90th year she pre- 
pared a web with her own hands, for 
which she realized a premium from the 
Agricultural Society, at the Cattle Show 
at Concord, Mass. When 88 years of 
age, she expressed a desire to have 
four apple trees set for her. To com- 
ply with her request, I selected those 
that promised to bear young, and sent 
a man to set them. Previous to his 
coming she had driven four stakes in 



6 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

the four corners of her garden and 
marked the circumference of the holes 
she wished made. This made ready, 
she held the tree and gave directions 
for placing the roots and had all done 
to her approval. She lived to eat fruit 
from two of them. Let no aged per- 
son be discouraged about setting fruit 
trees. Set the tree if you have oppor- 
tunity, and if you never eat its fruit, 
let the deed be ascribed to disinterested 
benevolence. 

As wave chases ware o'er the ocean's dark breast, 
So the races of men pass on to their rest ; 
Be this our endeavor, with purpose sublime, 
Some footprints to leave on the quicksands of time. 

Well do I remember, in the days of 
my childhood, the first copper ever 
earned with my own hands. It was 
by opening a gate for Mrs. Sherman, 
a lady on horseback, a very common 
mode of riding in those days. She 
told me to keep it, and she would give 
me a box to keep it in. The next day 
I received a tin box with the promise 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 7 

of a copper every time I would open 
the gate for her or her husband, when 
they were on horsehack~ which prom- 
ise was faithfully kept, and oftentimes 
to my great joy two coppers jingled 
into the box instead of one. At that 
time coppers were the only copper cur- 
rency extant, 108 of them making 
'$1, and our cents took their place. 
The possession of the tin box created 
a strong desire to have it filled. Some, 
on seeing the box and contents, would 
drop in one or two coppers, while 
others needed urging to do so ; and 
with pleasure I saw rt filling up more 
rapidly than I had anticipated. It was 
soon found to contain money enough to 
buy me a pewter porringer out of which 
-to eat bread and milk in the Bummer, 
and broth and bean porridge in the 
whiter season ; and a primer to study 
.the Assembly'^ Catechism in. 

The arrangement being made by my 
mother, I went to pedlar John Parker's, 
.about a half mile distant, to make the 



fc LIFE OF ASA G. S&ELB6N : 

purchase, my sister Liicinda accord 
panying me. This was the first time I 
had ever made so large a purchase, and 
the honest pedlar, seeing he had taken 
my last copper 1 , gave me a tin whistle. 
Like Dr. Franklin, when a child, " I 
went home whistling." I would here 
say to boys, be careful of noisy amuse- 
ments within doors ; you little know 
how much it annoys parents and sen- 
iors, whose heads are filled to overflow- 
ing with the cares and perplexities of 
life. Well do I remember how much 
my mother was tried with my whistle. 
I was proud enough of my shining 
porringer, and the possession of such 
a treasure gave more satisfaction than 
many dollars ift after life. 

When between three and four years 
of age Miss Sherman came into our 
house and said to mother, " Why they 
do say Daniel Hart is courting Patty 
Tapley/' I was very anxious for her 
departure, wishing to know what Dan- 
iel Hart was doing to Patty Tapley, 



WILMlNtfTON FARMEft. 9 

" Mother," said I, as soon as Miss 
Sherman was gone^ " what is Daniel 
Hart doing to Patty Tapley/' 

" What do you mean," said mother* 

" Why, Miss Sherman said he was 
courting her." 

" Oh, he is coaxing her to be his 
wife," said mother. 

Anon this couple were married, she 
still living at her father's, and in April, 
1793, Mr. Hart was presented with a 
son. 

I was much at home at neighbor 
Tapley's, and was soon asked to see 
the baby. 

" W^here did you get that baby," 
said I. 

" The Doctor brought it," said she. 

"What did you give for it?" was 
the next question. 

" If I like it well enough to keep it 
I shall give $5," was the answer. 

" Why do you lie there in bed?" 

" To keep it warm," said she. 

Daniel Hart and Patty Tapley raised 



10 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

up six sons, David, Daniel, Aaron, 
Elijah, William and Tapley. 

These six sons have all been in my 
employ, five of them at one time, 
when the Boston and Lowell Railroad 
^was in process of construction. It has 
become a proverb, that " all Hart's 
,boys were born with a whip in their 
: hand." Certainly I should not know 
where to find six men, possessed of so 
good faculties to manage oxen and 
ihorses, as those six brothers. And it 
-appears this faculty has not passed 
away yet, for the last time I was going 
to Boston, I met four beautiful horses 
with a large load of manure, driven by 
Charles C. Hart, son of D. D. Hart, 
and great grandson to Daniel Hart and 
Patty Tapley. It seemed to be moving 
along with as much ease and comfort 
as a lady at work sitting in her parlor 
rocking-chair. 

This brings to mind six generations 
of that race of people, since I came 
upon the stage of action. Gilbert Tap- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 11 

ley of Danvers ; Joseph Tapley of Lynn- 
field ; Patty Tapley, daughter of Joseph 
Tapley ; David Hart, son of Daniel 
Hart and Patty Tapley; David Dexter 
Hart, of Woburn, and Charles Choate 
Hart, his son. I would say to the sixth 
generation, that it is my hope to live 
to see the seventh. 

Being now in my fifth year, and hav- 
ing often heard rivers spoken of, my 
young heart was filled with curiosity to 
see such a flow of water. So one day, 
having obtained leave of mother, bro^ 
ther Samuel who was two or three 
years older than myself and I started 
for Ipswich River, about a mile and a 
half distant. On the way we stopped 
at a house, where we were joined by 
three other boys, strangers to me. 
The two eldest were Samuel and Os- 
good Flint, the youngest was Samuel 
Gilford, who was about my own age. 
We arrived at the River at the spot 
where it divides Lynnfield from North 
Reading and where a bridge has since 



12 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

been built, about fifty rods from the 
East School-house. The oldest boys 
then went in swimming, while Gilford 
and myself amused ourselves by mud- 
dying our feet and legs and then sitting 
on a shelving place on the bank and 
washing them. This was done several 
times, but now the sport assumed a 
more serious character, for as I was 
sitting unconscious of danger, Gilford 
run up behind and pushed me into the 
River, where the water was over my 
head. Just at this critical moment the 
other boys looking round, saw Gilford 
running toward home, and the Flints, 
knowing him to be a bad boy, cried 
out, " Asa is in the River," and came 
with all possible haste to my rescue, 
and with great exertion soon laid me 
on dry land, safe and sound. All the 
boys in the neighborhood despised Sam 
Gilford for that trick until the family 
moved away, and a good riddance it 
was. What became of him, I know 
not. I wish my young readers, both 



WILMINGTON FARMER, 13 

male and female, to take warning by 
this vicious boy, who was hated by all 
who knew him, and not indulge in any 
sport that may lead to the disadvantage 
or unhappiness of others. No doubt, 
in this case, the evil may be traced 
back to parents and grand-parents, 
whose vicious indulgence served to en- 
courage rather than to amend wrong 
propensities. 

My first contract made for a day's 
work, was with Mr. William Flint of 
North Reading, for the sum of 6i cts., 
and I received the cash at night, return- 
ing home highly pleased with so much 
money ; besides much praise was given 
me by Mr. Flint, who said I had 
thrown half as many stones into the 
cart as he had, the stones being small. 

In justice to Mr. Joseph Tapley, I 
must say, my first instructions in farm- 
ing and teaming came through his dis- 
cipline. Sometimes he would give me 
a copper for cleaning out his cattle, 
and sometimes two for helping fill a 



14 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

load of manure, or riding horse to plow, 
or driving oxen, which suited me best 
of all work. 

He employed me in spreading, turn- 
ing and raking hay, hoeing corn and 
potatoes, &c.; in short he was always 
ready to let jobs at from one copper to 
6J cts., and we always agreed upon the 
price before commencing the job, a 
rule that should always be practiced 
whether dealing with men or boys. 

My mother was always satisfied with 
the price paid. All the neighboring 
boys liked to work for him. He was a 
jovial man, and now, in after life, I 
look back upon him as a great benefit 
to boys in that vicinity. One morning 
he said, " go and ask your mother if 
you may go to Lynn with me ; tell her 
Jerre is going." Mother gave her con- 
sent, and we started with a yoke of 
oxen and span of horses. We went 
two miles, where we loaded the wood, 
we boys handing it up to him. 

As we passed through Lynn woods 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 15 

We saw three persons cross the road' 
ahead completely dressed in white. 
We boys were somewhat alarmed, and 
inquiringly asked who they were? 1 
Mr. T. saw our surprise, and answered 
that they might be white Indians, but 
if we would be good boys they would 
not hurt us. I am sorry I cannot in- 
form my readers who they were, but I 
never saw their like before or since. 
As Mr. Tapley turned round, after de- 
livering the wood, the forward whe.els 
dropped into the gutter breaking the 
bolt. " Now boys," said Mr. Tapley r 
with affected surprise, " how can you 
ride home V 

This was a sad question to us boys,- 
and we began to cry, for we were tired 
and had never been half as far from 
home before. 

" Now boys," said he, " stop crying 
and behave like men, and take hold 
and help, and I will see if I can fix 
things so as you may ride." We were 
soon on the way home, and called at a 



16 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

tavern about half a mile below where 
Lynnfield Hotel now stands, and he 
bought four coppers worth of ginger- 
bread, which was the first food I had 
ever eaten in a tavern. This occurred 
between the age of 6 and 7. Mr. Tap- 
ley, as will be inferred, was a man full 
of jokes and fun, yet a man of active 
mind and a benefactor of his race. It 
was his delight to set boys to work and 
teach them how to do it. He was great 
grandfather to David D. Hart, of Wo- 
burn. 

When 7 years of age, I made a con^ 
tract with Clark & Epps, of Lyndboro', 
N. H., and Col. Flint, of North Read, 
ing, drovers, to drive their cattle and 
sheep from our house to Jerre Upton's 
tavern, two miles distant, that they 
might ride ahead and take breakfast 
while the drove came on, for four cop- 
pers each trip, which occurred weekly. 
Boys, the price may appear small, but 
in those days it was a good income. 
This was continued for two successive 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 17 

.summers, the last of which 1 commenc- 
ed going to school. 

Miss Hannah Sherman, relative of 
the lady who gave me the tin box, was' 
teacher. She had her scholars seated 
on three wooden benches, so arranged 
that she could reach each one with her 
long willow stick without rising from 
her chair. Jerre Tapley was the best 
scholar in school. I had commenced 
reading in the New Testament, and the 
old lady was very urgent that I should 
read with him. This suited me well, 
and the teacher, to bring it about, 
agreed that Jerre and I should occupy 
the same seat in one corner of the 
room, and to me was granted the privi- 
lege of whispering to Jerre to inquire 
out the hard words. We both studied 
hard, each trying to excel the other. 
^Sometimes we would commit our whole 
lesson to memory. When mother 
would question me at home, I could 
.sometimes relate all I had read during 
the day, and would ask her, " Has God 



1 8 LIFE OF ASA fi. SHELDON : 

all power in heaven and earth and 
hell?" She answered, "He has." 
Said I, "did he always possess if?" 
She said, " he did." That night I 
slept but little, and the morning found 
my pillow wet with tears. Distress of 
mind followed me, and the talk soon 
became current that I was growing 
poor and should be kept from school. 
The lady who gave me the tin box 
came to our house and advised to that 
course, saying, " he is killing himself 
with study," she being highly interested 
in my case. I told them it would do 
no good to stay from school, but wished 
I could go to meeting, which was soon 
granted, and terrible appeared the ser- 
mon when the preacher gave it as his 
opinion that only one in ten were saved. 
I now felt worse than before, and 
thought it would have been better had 
I been born a calf, or lamb, or almost 
any other kind of beast, rather than a 
human being. My suffering was great, 
an awful week to me. Kverv one 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 19 

appeared to think that I was about to 
die, but they knew not the cause of my 
trouble. It originated in reading the 
life and death of Jesus Christ, for I 
could not see the reason why God gave 
his Son to suffer and die for man, when 
he had all power in heaven and earth, 
and always had possessed that power. 

The next Sabbath another minister 
preached, who quoted the opinion of 
an eminent divine, " that not more than 
one in a hundred would be saved." 
The fact which was here made appar- 
ent, that ministers disagreed upon the 
all-important subject, lightened my bur- 
den and made me feel more at ease. In 
conclusion, I would add, that it is my 
firm belief that God is holy, just and 
wise ; that he possesses all power in 
heaven earth and hell ; that no one 
ever interrupted his plans, or ever can. 

In the Spring of 1796, I was em- 
ployed by the farmers to drive oxen to 
plough, a work that always pleased 



20 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

me, at a shilling per day, which sup- 
plied me with books and some clothing 
with which to attend school in summer 
and winter. 

The winter previous I boarded with 
grandmother Sheldon, in Danvers, and 
attended a school kept by a Mr. Felton 
in a private house near Rope's Mill, 
now known as Phelp's Mill. I here 
formed an acquaintance with three no- 
ble brothers, Ralph, Samuel and 
Lemuel Crane, the last named was 
near my age, and many a good piece of 
pie I received on his account. 

Ralph died on the loth of November, 
1808, of nervous fever. Lemuel turn- 
ed his attention to the sea, and on the 
16th of February, 1808, he fell from 
the masthead of the ship Belisarius, of 
;Salem, commanded by Capt. Benjamin 
Lovctt, and was killed. Samuel be- 
came a highly respectable man, and 
now resides in South Danvers. 

My father, owning but few acres of 
land, worked much of the time stoning 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 21 

% 

wells and cellars, and consequently 
was with his family but little. Gener- 
ally working in Salem, we saw but little 
of him, except on the Sabbath, yet I 
can distinctly remember his good-natur- 
ed manners. I never knew him to 
speak unkindly to me, and very seldom 
to any one. 

In December, 1796, my father pur- 
chased a lot of standing wood in North 
Heading, and being then in my ninth 
year, I was employed, in connection 
with a man, to drive a team with a very 
large yoke of cattle in dragging oif the 
wood, the man driving another team. 

Being very small for my age, it at- 
tracted some attention to see so small 
a boy beside a loaded team. It was 
the heighth of my ambition to become 
a teamster. Sometimes we turned our 
teams across the side of Putnam's Mill- 
pond, for the pleasure of driving on the 
glare ice. This made fun for the school 
children, who could then get a ride 
without paying fare. The method was 



22 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

for one or two boys to take hold of the 
hind end of the load, then a girl took 
hold of his clothes, and another hold of 
hers, and so on, till a long string was 
made out, oftentimes two strings, as the 
case might be. At one time, my com- 
panion laughingly said to me, " You 
load the oxen too heavy ;" seeing a 
beautiful little girl behind, I said, " No, 
no, I will not leave the hind end. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 23 



SECOND LINK. 



We now come to an important period 
in the history of a youth, I refer to 
leaving home. What a privilege to 
parents it is, to be able to employ their 
children at home, and thus keep them 
around them under their careful scru- 
tiny ; and what a blessed privilege to 
children to live under the care and 
guidance of discreet parents. 

On April 14th, 1797, being still in 
my ninth year, Mr. Daniel Parker came 
to my father's house to get a boy to live 
with him. Mother said he might take 
his choice, Samuel or Asa. " I will 
take Asa," he said, " because he is the 
youngest." 

Accordingly, my father went over 
with me. It was a fine, sunny day, but 



24: LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

there was snow enough on the ground 
to make good sleighing. We stopped 
on our way at Putnam's saw mill, where, 
although so late in the Spring, I saw 
more oxen and men engaged in draw- 
ing lumber than I ever saw there before 
or since, at one time. 

I commenced my servitude here with 
out time or remuneration being stated, 
which, as I before said, is a circum- 
stance liable to produce difficulty. 

I found the family to consist of Mr. 
Parker, who was about 40 years of age, 
and wife, of nearly the same age ; Da- 
vid, about 18, and two daughters, Patty 
and Sally, who were a few years young- 
er. Mrs. Parker told me to call her 
"mother," and certainly she acted the 
part of a mother to me- She fed me 
when hungry ; dried my clothes when 
wet ; cared for my every want ; and 
when troubles assailed, that she could 
not alleviate, pitied and sympathised 
with me. In short, she was as kind as 
my own mother. 



WILMINGTON FAHMER. 25 

On first entering the house, [ found 
no one at home but Mrs. Parker and 
her two daughters, David being absent 
at school. After sitting a few minutes, 
she said, 4< You may go to the barn and 
see the calves." There were six of 
them, and I employed the forenoon in 
cleaning the stalls and clearing up. 
After dinner I went with Mr. Parker 
to split oak butts into wheel spokes. 
Thus ended my first day's servitude. 

Mr. Parker's parents were then liv- 
ing. Hk mother, by age or infirmity, 
had lost her reason, or, as it is com- 
monly expressed, was crazy. They 
told me that she would not harm me, 
so I need not be afraid of her. I well 
remember her saying one day, "Asa, the 
Devil is in me," Well," said I, " if 
he is, route him out," at the same time 
seizing the fire shovel. She blowed 
and coughed till tired, and seeing me 
not frightened, stopped, saying, i; F 
can't blow him out." She reported, 
that she never saw .a. bov of such deter* 



26 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

mined courage ; " he was not afraid of 
the Devil himself, but stood ready to 
beat his brains out with the fire-shovel." 

Our Spring ploughing that year was 
done by four oxen and a horse, and it 
was my constant business to drive them. 
In hoeing, the plan was for me to take 
every alternate hill and follow back on 
the same row, thus keeping alongside 
the men.. The Summer passed pleas- 
antly away, my young head filled 
with a lively interest in everything that 
transpired on the farm. I had become 
quite attached to my new* mother and 
Mr. Parker seemed quite a middling 
man to get along with. 

I had the privilege of attending whi- 
ter school, and as is common for youth, 
formed a lasting attachment to a school- 
mate Daniel Putnam, a boy nearly 
my size and age, but of whom it might 
be said, as of Nathaniel of old, "an 
Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." 
We occupied the same seat, and one 
day the teacher detected Daniel whis- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 27 

Bering to me, contrary to known laws. 
Of course Dan was called to the floor, 
and seeing the teacher about to ferule 
him, I sprang from my seat, hastened 
forward, and holding out my hand, cried 
out, " punish me, I am more to blame 
than he ; I whispered first." 

" Was you ever punished at school V 
said the teacher. 

" No, sir," I answered. 

" Was you ever, Daniel?" 

" Xo, sir." 

" Then," said he, in an authoritative? 
tone, "go to your seats." 

The second year, in hoeing time, 
I was able to keep up with the hands,, 
anless the ground was very tough- 
This pleased Mr. Parker as there was> 
much hoeing to be done, and the crops, 
were extensive. 

My father needing a cow, he agreed 
with Mr. P. to take one for $22, and I 
was to work for him another year, or 
till the next May, to pay for her, and 
I was to have winter schooling. 



'28 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

Mr. P. appears to have been exceed- 
ingly miserly, and was unwilling to 
let me slide on the ice, because it wore 
my shoes out; but thanks to mother 
Parker's adroit management, I found 
frequent opportunities to enjoy an hour 
of glee on the ponds. For that and 
many other secret favors, I have reason 
to respect her memory. 

At the commencement of my third 
year, Mr. P. frequently urged that I 
should be bound to him, telling my 
father that he would give him $20 in 
cash, and me $100 on becoming twen- 
ty-one. To this my 'father agreed, and 
the necessary documents were signed 
without mother's knowledge. Great 
was her anguish on learning that her 
son was a " bond slave," as she was 
pleased to call it. 

Oh, fathers, never be guilty of such 
a rash act. Never bind your children 
to service of any kind, and above all 
without the consent of her who would 
willingly labor day and night ; yea, and 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 29 

suffer many privations to benefit her 
offspring. 

I am glad that this inhuman practice 
has passed away. Depend upon it, this 
generation is not good enough to deal 
in such a relic of barbarism. 

I now come to speak of my fourth 
year of service. There was 110 snow 
for sledding till February or March, 
when a nice fall of snow coming, creat- 
ed an ambition in me to drive a load of 
wood to Salem town and sell it. I had 
frequently driven wood to market in 
company Avith Mr. Parker, each of us 
driving a load. Mr. P., 'Dave and my- 
self, were engaged at Putnam's Mill all 
day. It was late at night when they 
retired. 

In my thirteenth year, full of ambi- 
tion, I unloaded a sled-load of boards. 
-they were heavT, hard pine boards, 
22 feet in length, and re-loaded it 
with pine wood. It was now midnight, 
and I sought my accustomed couch, 
but tied my shoes so tight as to prevent 



30 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON: 

quiet rest, and after an hour and a half's 
repose I rose and fed the team. Then 
going to Mr. P. the following dialogue 
took place : 

" Can I take a load of wood to Salem 
to-day ?" 

" Asa, it seems as if you would tease 
the life out of me ; did I not tell you 
there was none loaded." 

" But there is a load loaded." 

"Who loaded it?" 

" I loaded it," said I. 

" Yes, you may go if you have got 
the wood loaded. You may unload it 
at Johnson's, where we get store goods, 
I have promised it to him." 

A dash of disappointment flashed 
over me, for I longed to dispose of the 
wood myself. A pleasant trip brought 
me into Salem at 8 o'clock. I found 
Mr. Johnson absent, and his clerk 
would do nothing about it. Much 
pleased was I at this overture, which 
gave me an opportunity to try my luck 
at marketing. I was to get from John- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 31 

son $4 for the load, but had the good 
luck to sell it to a man for $4 and one 
shilling. On reaching home, Mr. Par- 
ker gave me the shilling, the greatest 
present he had ever made me. My 
spending money had before been con- 
fined to 6i cents per year. That was 
awarded to me at our State Election. 
The last year of my living with him he 
gave me 1*2 cents. The man who 
bought the wood was a baker by trade, 
and proved a good customer for years 
afterwards when marketing wood for 
myself. The very boards which I that 
night unloaded solely myself, may now 
be found on the roof of Thomas Ray- 
nor's house, in North Reading. 

When at Salem a baker agreed with 
me for a load of faggots, or twigs 
bound in bundles, for heating ovns. 
AVith the hope that Mr. Parker would 
give me all the money if I could con- 
trive to make them without taking his 
time, I kept my hatchet in the cow 
pasture, and when I found the cows 



32 Lin: OF ASA o. SHELBON : 

liuudily I could make eight or ten bun- 
dles and then run and catch up with 
them. If I did not find them readily, 
I made less, and so on. AY hen the 
load was nearly complete, Mr. Parker 
discovered them, and asked, " Who 
made those faggots J " 

" I made them," said I. 

" When did you make them," said 
he, "and what are you going to do 
with them." 

" Sell them," said I, " they will 
bring as much as a load of wood." 

" You can't sell them for anything." 

" Yes. I can, they are promised now." 

"Well," said he, "finish out the 
load, now you have begun." 

The day we finished haying, Mr. 
Parker said, " if you are going down 
with that load of faggots, you had bet- 
ter do it before we take the hay rigging 
off." 

Mother P. had told me, that when- 
ever I sold them, if he offered me less 
than a dollar, not to take it. I drove 



\VII.MINI;TOX PARMKR. 33 

the load to Salem, and brought home 
$5.80, and gave it to Mr. Parker, and 
he was niggar&y enough to offer me 
cents for all my labor, hurry and 



toil. Mother P., seeing me about to 
take it. gave a stamp with her foot, 
when the ninepencc dropped on. the 
floor, and I hastened out of the house. 
Soon after. Mother P. went to Salem 
herself and brought home a nice hat 
for me. that cost $3. There was but 
one other hat worn in town that was so 
nice, and that was owned by George, 
now Esquire. Flint, of North Reading. 
On presenting it she said, " There, 
Asa. that will do you more good than 
nincpeiicc." 

Polly Parker had been married to 
Thomas llaynor, and resided one year 
at South Reading. They then remov- 
ed to our house to share in the profits 
of the farm, -Mr. Parker cultivating 
both his own and his father's farm. 
It appears from circumstances that Mr, 
Parker, at the time of his marriage. 



34 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

thought Tom Raynor was heir to an 
estate ; but such not being the case, he 
Deemed to look indignantly upon his 
*on-in-law, and nothing suited that he 
laid his hands upon. 

We all lived in one family, the men 
jointly sharing the profits of the farms. 
Mr. Parker had 0ne half, Dave and 
Tom each one fourth. I have known 
them to divide $1200 at the end of the 
year. 

The first time I ever came to Wil- 
mington, was with a team loaded with 
hops, which I sold to Colonel William 
Blanchard for 42 cents per lb., amount- 
ing to $800. 

Now commenced my fifth year. 
In passing down one side the hay-field, 
one day, where Parker and Raynor 
were turning hay, I heard Parker shout 
to Raynor, " Why don't you turn that 
hay with the head of your rake ? " 
Parker, receiving no answer or not be- 
ing heard, shouted again in an angry 
tone, " if you can't turn the hay as I 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 35 

want you to, go home to dinner, and I 
will turn it ? " Raynor still not ap- 
pearing to hear, and continuing to ply 
the stale of his rake, the old fellow ran 
upon him with his rake, and levelling 
a blow on his temple brought him to 
the ground. He fell as quick as ever 
an ox fell in a slaughter house. 

I was frightened almost out of my 
senses, and ran toward them as fast as 
my legs would carry me. However, 
Raynor sprang up, and with rake in. 
hand, exclaimed, "Stand off; I was 
never made to fear a fall of clay." 
They both appeared at the dinner table 
that day and ate without exchanging a, 
word. From that time till the close of 
the year, they never spoke a word to 
each other, except when so filled with 
anger that they could not help spitting 
it out, yet they constantly ate and work- 
ed together- Parker always called Ray- 
nor a bad tempered man ; but I knew 
them both well, and Raynor had not 
half so bad a temper as Parker himself. 



.'{G LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON .' 

Strange as it may seem, I was daily 
called to act as interpreter between 
them. Oftentimes when sitting by the 
fire, Parker would tell me what to say 
to llaynor, and he in return would tell 
me what to answer back. Sometimes 
the case would require quite a number 
of messages, and all this while they 
were sitting nearer to each other than 
I was to either of them. This curious 
telegraphing was sometimes carried on 
at table, especially Avhen farm opera- 
tions required each to know the other's 
mind. At such times one would not 
notice what the other said until I re- 
peated it. 

To my readers this may appear very 
strange and almost beyond credence, 
but it is a simple fact ; and certain am 
I, that if I had not personally known 
the man, I could never have believed 
the one half I now know to be true: 
He was a man whose iron will com- 
pletely blockaded every port of his en- 
joyment. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 37 

In the Spring of the year, it was 
Mr. Parker's practice to give me a stint 
stripping hop poles. Hop raisers, and 
perhaps others, will understand that 
process. This, he said, was to give 
me a chance to supply myself with 
spending money. I was grateful for 
the benefit, and am bound to say in his 
praise that he never gave a hard stint. 
At evening I was sometimes aided by 
neighboring boys, when a bonfire of the 
dried vines w r ould increase the hilarity. 

Once upon a time in April, the snow 
falling fast, Mr. Parker came to me and 
said, " if you will leave vine stripping 
and go and get the sheep up. I will pay 
you for it." I did, and found a wee 
little lamb dropped in the snow. Tak- 
ing off my frock I wrapped it up and 
conveyed it home. t; Now Asa," said 
Mr. Parker, " if you will make that 
lamb live, you may have it to pay for 
going after the sheep, and all the ewe 
lambs she has I will keep for you for 
their wool, and the male lambs vou imiv 



38 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON: 

sell to the butchers." All night I 
watched the wee bit and in the morn- 
ing it was able to draw its own "rations" 
from its dam. 

The coming season I exchanged my 
lamb for an older sheep, which brought 
me the next spring two fine ram lambs 
that were destined to the slaughter. 
However, my stock of sheep increased 
to five before I left the place, which I 
sold, receiving $10 for them. 

It is but just to say in this place, that 
I made Mr. Parker my Savings Bank, 
putting all my little overplus in his 
keeping, and he giving me a new note 
every year, carefully reckoning com- 
pound interest. When I left he was 
owing me $3-0- saved in this manner. 
It was not till years afterwards that I 
demanded and received it. 

Boys, here is an incentive to lay by 
your little savings. They will amount 
to something at a time when you need 
them. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 



THIRD LINK. 

Early in the autumn, the Frigate- 
Essex was to be launched. All the 
boys in the neighborhood were going. 
I wanted to go, but Mr. Parker said no.- 
And it was not till several boys hade 
interceded with him that he gave his- 
consent. " Well," said he, " if your 
do go, I will not give you one cent of 
money to spend, for there is no need of 
going." The boys said I should fare 
as well as they did. 

We started at midnight, eighteen in- 
all, and walked to Salem, saw the Es- 
sex leave " the home of her birth," 
and slide gently down the greased 
ways, with her precious cargo of curi- 
ous mortals, anxious to catch the first 
ride in her as she bathed herself for. 
the first time in the briny deep. 



40 LIFE OF ASA . SHELDON: 

Afterwards we walked about town 
to see the " elephant," ate gingerbread 
and pies, and toward night set our 
faces toward home. It was a most 
formidable journey for boys of our age, 
and before we reached home our fa- 
tigue was such that we lay down on 
the ground to rest every half mile. 

Boys, when distant from home, be 
cautious not to take too much labor 
upon yourselves. Remember you have 
got to travel home into the bargain. 
Such almost killing fatigue mars the 
pleasure of the otherwise satisfactory 
excursion. 

In the following story, I have to ac- 
knowledge the first and only time I 
ever tried to plague Mr. Parker, and 
then I tried with a right-good will, for 
I was as mad as a honey bee. He had 
fallen in the barn and hurt himself 
considerably, and had kept in the 
house for four days. 

I was going to Salem with a load 
of wood, and had mv team all hitrhed 



WILMINGTON FARMER, 41 

and ready, when he called to me to 
get Rayiior up for the purpose of going 
a piece with me, as the snow was deep 
and drifted. 

" I do not want him," said I. 

" Go along and call him quick." 
The mandate was obeyed. 

" Do you want me," said Raynor. 

" No," said I. 

" Then I shall not get up." 

" Is he going to get up," said Parker. 

" He said not" 

" Then go and tell him I say he 
shall get up and go with you." 

Again I ran and told him what Par- 
ker said. He asked me, " Do you 
want me to go? if you do, I will, but 
if you do not, I shall not get up." 

This message was delivered verbatim 
to Parker, when he answered, 

" Did you tell him that you wanted 
he should go ? " 

" No, sir." 

"Why didn't you?" 

" Because if I did it would be a lie ; 



42 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

and you always told me if I told a lie 
you would whip me, and I do not want 
him or any body else to go." 

" Then," shouted he, " run quick to 
the other barn and get the white horse 
and I will go myself." And he did go. 

Although he had required waiting 
upon for four days, he was up and 
dressed and mounted upon Old White, 
that cold night, for no other purpose 
than to carry out his iron will, formed 
to discomfort Raynor and get him out 
of bed that bitter night, he so hated 
him, and in effect he imitated the vex- 
ed rattlesnake, who 

Missing his foe, with fiendish spite, 

Coils up his folds, and hiw own self will bite. 

To be sure I was any thing but good 
natured, scampering away to the other 
barn for Old White, whose contrary 
habits were well known, sincerely hop- 
ing she would manifest something of 
the kind that night and plunge her rid- 
er in the snow. But I was not to be 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 43 

gratified in that respect. Old White 
was saddled, taken home, and a chair 
brought out for him to mount with, so 
lame was he from his hurt. He tried 
to ride ahead, but could not get on fast 
enough, for when he told me to drive 
slower in the drifts, I would use the 
brad unsparingly, making the team, 
which was a good one, rave and spring, 
but could not get him unhorsed with 
all the trick and tact I was master of. 
" You act so much like the devil," said 
he, " I'll go no further," and turned 
toward home. 

In the course of my sixth year 
Mr. Parker began making preparations 
for building a new house. One morn- 
ing Dave and myself started early for 
the team, for the purpose of drawing 
two loads of lumber from Andover. 
All being found except one horse, I 
drove them home while Dave searched 
for the missing horse. Seeing one 
horse gone and Dave too, Mr. Parker 
cried out in his accustomed hoarse, 



44 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDOX : 

angry tone, " Where is the horse ? 
Where is Dave ? Go and find Dave. 
Go get the horse. Go bait the oxen. 
Why don't you run ? " 

" I don't know what you mean," said 
I, " I never saw a man act as you do in 
my life." 

Having the cart-whip in his hand he 
gave me a heavy cut around my legs, 
the knot in the end of the lash coming 
inside the knee hurt me considerably, 

We started off together toward the 
;the pasture. 

" Why don't you run," said he. 

"If I go as fast as you do it is fast 
enough, I shall go no faster," said I. 
So we walked on silently together. 

The next morning found the whip 
.chopped into inch pieces, beside the 
hog-sty. 

" Who did that ? " said Parker, 

" I did it," said I ; "it was my own 
whip, and shall not keep a whip to whip 
myself with." 

This was the first and onlv time he 



WILMINGTON FAHMKIJ. 45 

ever struck me while I lived with him. 
His course was decidedly a grief to 
Mrs. Parker, but it was out of her pow- 
er to prevent it. 

In haying time, that well known time 
of hurry and bustle, as we came home 
late for dinner one day, we found the 
women had eaten and nothing remained 
but some boiled Indian pudding and 
five ears of boiled corn. There were 
more ears of green corn in the pot boil- 
ing. We soon cleared away the pud- 
ding, and Mr. Parker taking three ears 
and Raynor two, started for the further 
barn to throw off a load of hay, saying 
to me, 

" Come along and take away that 
hay." 

" Let him stop till the corn is done," 
said Mrs. Parker. 

" No come right along now," said he, 
and on he pushed, eating as he went, 
which was his common practice. 

I soon took two ears of hot corn alter- 
nating them from hand to hand and 



46 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

run after Raynor and overtook him 
gnawing his corn, and ran ahead. Mr. 
Parker called out from the yard, 

" Get quick up on to the mow and 
take away the hay." 

I scrambled up, as the corn was get- 
ting just cool enough to eat. 

" Lay down your corn," said he, "if 
you can't eat your dinner while I eat 
mine and feed the hogs, you may go 
without. You thought because that 
lazy curse," meaning Raynor, " stayed 
behind you might." 

I laid the corn on the plate under the 
eaves and it lays there now for aught I 
know. " I will have what I want to 
eat for time to come," said I, " and if 
you will not let me have it, I will go 
where I can get it." 

" Where will you go ? " said he. 

" I will go to Ohio," said I, " before 
I will live with you another year, if 
you don't treat me better." 

"What is that you say?" said he. 
It was repeated. 



WII.MIXGTOX FARMER. 47 

" Come right down to me and I will 
whip you for that." 

I was on the load by him as soon as 
my weight w r ould fetch me there. He 
seized my arm and taking an alder stick 
from the hay, said, 

" Shall I strike you or not ? " 

" Just as you have a mind to," said I. 

" Will you ever say it again ? " 

" I can't help thinking so, and I may 
as well say it as think it." 

' ; If you do think it, you shan't say 
it in my hearing." Here he stuck the 
pitchfork into the mow and I clambered 
on to the top again, and Raynor who 
had listened to the whole came forward 
to help me. If he had struck me, it 
was my determination to slip off the 
hind end of the load and never work 
for him again. 

The writer would fain hope that few 
men, \vho have the care of youth, man- 
ifest so much indifference to their com- 
fort as not to allow them time to well 
masticate their food. 



48 . LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

A word here on diet. In the sum- 
mer season, brown bread and milk was 
the constant food, for the whole family, 
morning and night. By brown bread 
is meant, bread made of rye and indian 
meal raised and baked in large loaves 
and in a brick oven, in those days. 
Supper for Saturday was uniformly 
roast potatoes and salt ; no butter was 
used. The whiter rations were beef- 
broth, with brown bread crumbled in, 
and for change, bean porridge. This 
porridge was made by boiling a piece 
of pork, with a handful of beans, till 
they had become soft and smashed, 
then dipped into dishes with bread 
crumbled in. 

Our Sunday dinner was invariably 
baked beans with salt pork, and a bak- 
ed indian pudding. A little butter was 
allowed for the pudding. 

Thanksgiving festival was indeed a 
luxury. We commonly had fowls and 
roasted pork, or spare-rib, and plum 
puddings, with as many as three kinds 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 49 

of pies, mince, apple and pumpkin. 
We had as nice a treat at Thanksgiv- 
ing then, as they scare np now, and ate 
it with a greater zest. 

It should be remembered that the 
time of which I have been speaking 
was more than half a century ago. 
Great changes have since taken place, 
as might be expected, both in food and 
dress. 

My clothes in summer were straw 
hat, tow shirt and tow trowsers. When 
the mornings were cool, I put on my 
vest such as it was, and my frock if 
required. I had no shoes until the 
ground began to freeze. 

Winter habiliments were striped 
blue and white woollen trowsers, fulled 
cloth vest and jacket. They were com- 
monly made of Parker's or Dave's old 
cast-off ones, which good mother Par- 
ker took care to have well mended, 
much to my comfort. I was never al- 
lowed an overcoat while I lived there, 
or a pair of boots. I was allowed but 



50 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

one pair of shoes for two years. Par- 
ker used to tell me, when going to get 
my foot measured, to put on two pair 
of stockings, and tell the shoemaker to 
be sure and make them large enough 
to last two years. 

The first year I put old flannel, or 
baize -as- it was then called, around my 
feet to keep the shoes from slipping 
and wearing out my stockings. When 
they needed repairs, Mr. Parker would, 
as he kept shoemaking, tools on hand, 
tap them with old upper stuff and fill 
them full of nails to make them last 
well ; and mother Parker would make 
me leggings from his old stocking legs. 

At length Mr. Parker's father passed 
off the stage ; the new house was fin- 
ished ; Dave was married and moved 
into it, but Raynor lived with us still. 
Now the battle raged wilder and hotter 
between Parker and Raynor, till at 
length they needed no interpreter, but 
were ready on all occasions to vociferate 
hard words at each other. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 51 

Catching a wild goose by hands must 
be considered note-worthy. One day 
as Raynor and myself were going to our 
labor we espied two wild geese in a lit- 
tle pond near by. We went toward 
the pond wanting to catch them, but 
hardly expecting such an event, as we 
had no firearms. Away they flew and 
we stood gazing after them. They 
soon wheeled and came back, but did 
not drop fast enough to hit the water, 
but passed over and alighted in thick 
bushes close beside where we stood y 
each secreted behind a tree. As they 
could not arise for entanglement, we 
sprang upon them simultaneously, each 
catching one by the neck and saving it. 
We tied their legs with some string, 
which we had in our pockets, when 
luckily a man named Angier came 
along and took them to his house near 
by for safe keeping, Raynor paying him 
50 cents for doing it. At night we laid 
them upon hay on the top of our load 
of wood and carried them home and 



52 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON .' 

put them in a pen in the hophouse. 
From discontent, or some other cause, 
not one mouthful would they eat, and 
we were obliged to cram them with 
corn to keep them alive. However, 
Raynor soon sold them to a man in 
South Reading for $5. 

The year the new house was built, 
all was hurry and drive, every nerve 
must be strained for labor. For in- 
stance, Parker would carry feed to his 
hogs with part of his dinner in his 
hand. He made calculation to start 
for work with as much in his hands as 
he could dispose of before he reached 
the field. A neighbor, whose field he 
often crossed, smilingly observed, " I 
must prosecute Parker for throwing his 
bones into my grass." 

To accelerate business and encour- 
age me, Mr. Parker said, that if I 
would keep the hops, corn, and pota- 
toes well tended, after the first hoeing, 
all the season, he would give me twen- 
ty-five Ibs. of hops, and I should have 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 53 

the steers to help me, and might plow 
as well as I pleased. The steers were 
a fine pair, three years old, of my own 
training, and were 'ox-handy. 

One day, in Parker's absence, as I 
was plowing the potatoe patch both 
ways, Dave observed me, and halloing 
forbade the cross-plowing. As I paid 
no attention to what he said, he ran to- 
ward the field, which was in island 
form, then surrounded by mud. He 
had been unwell, and on that account 
wore stockings and shoes. While di- 
vesting his feet of their incumbrance 
in order to plunge through the mud, I 
hastened the steers at a rapid rate, 
plowing only one furrow in a row. Of 
course he took the team away from me, 
which greatly impeded that day's work. 
On Mr. Parker's return he discounten- 
anced Dave's proceedings, and said he 
should help me as much as he had 
hindered. I told him my determina- 
tion to hoe every hill myself. On ex- 
amination he greatly approved my plan 



54: LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

of cross-plowing, as the ground was of 
a clammy nature ; indeed the crops 
bore unmistakable testimony to the 
utility of the procedure. 

Seven acres of corn, potatoes and 
hops, were plowed and hoed twice that 
season solely by me and the steers. 
Many times, in the gray dawn of the 
morning, we might be seen in the field 
at work, to evade the heat of the day. 
This practice of early rising, in hot 
weather especially, I wish to recom- 
mend as the secret of realizing a good 
day's work. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 55 



FOURTH LINK. 



Hop picking came on, that season of 
hilarity in which boys and girls all par- 
ticipate. We were stripping them off 
full of glee, not one reaching out his 
hand in vain. Mr. Parker rode to '"Wil- 
mington to inquire the prospects of the 
hop market, and on his return said Col. 
Blanchard offered him 25 cents per Ib. 

" Why didn't you take it," said I. 

" Will you take that for yours ? " 

" Yes." 

The money was counted out straight- 
way, which was more than I had ever 
been the owner of before. This was 
done at the hop bin. He cheerily said, 
" now we shall see which has the best 
luck selling hops, you or I." He kept 
his till the following Spring, in hope 



56 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

of obtaining a higher price, and then 
sold them for 11 cents per Ib. Such I 
have often observed to be the case when 
a fair price is refused. 

Mr. Parker's extreme fretfulness may 
be seen in the following story. 

It was mid-winter, and new snow had 
fallen to a considerable depth. In the 
morning he said, " When you have fed 
the cattle, go to shoveling paths." I 
did shovel all the paths we usually 
shoveled after a snow storm. I then 
inquired where he was. The women 
said he had gone in the direction of 
the watering place, about half a mile 
distant. I followed, and when I came 
up with him, he said, " Why didn't 
you come along to shoveling here ? " 

" I didn't know there was anything 
to be done here ; we never shoveled 
here before." 

" You might know the snow would 
drift in here, now the trees are cut 
away," said he. 

After a few minutes' work, he said, 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 57 

" Go let out the cattle, and drive them 
down to drink ; start on the cows first." 

I knew this order to be wrong, but 
it was implicitly obeyed, and when they 
came into deep snow, the oxen pressed 
on to the annoyance of the cows, which 
made him exclaim, in wrath, " run 
ahead and stop that ox." 

I had just exchanged my whip for 
his shovel, so I ran, shovel in hand, 
and called "whoa" to the ox, who 
was wont to stop at my bidding. 

"What do you say 'whoa' to that. 
ox for ? " was his tart response. 

" What a plague ; can I say anything 
but ' whoa ' to an ox when I want to 
stop him ? " 

" You shant say ' plague ' to me," 
said he, and ran at me with all his 
might, whip in hand. 

I could not make much headway for 
the deep snow, and so turning round 
said, *' Don't break the whip-stick ; I 
paid eleven cents for it ; " when he de- 
sisted. 



58 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELD'ON : 

Before we reached the house he met 
a neighbor, to whom he said, "Asa 
cares more for his whip than for his 
back, for when I was going to strike 
him, he said, ' Don't break the whip,' 
and I could not help laughing." 

It was my aim, when he was in a 
pet, to make him laugh, if he had not 
got beyond the bounds of forbearance. 

This Spring, -Raynor left and hired 
out to a man who tilled the farm lying 
between Mr. Parker's two farms. I 
was commanded not to speak to him, 
which command I did not fully obey, 
as I was a staunch American, and un- 
willing to give up the right of free 
speech. Dave and his father still 
worked together. 

Now as Dave and Raynor were gone, 
I was left alone to stand all the shots, 
rifle, canister, grape and shell ; and 
they fell thick and fast. Sometimes I 
thought it impossible to stay longer 
with him. But good mother Parker's 
sympathy and kind words did much to 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 59 

soften and heal the wounds, and I 
would conclude to await another broad- 
side. 

Soon after Raynor left, a traveller 
came along, and Dave took him in. 
He was a man of middle age. We 
never knew where he canie from; if 
asked the question, he would not ans- 
wer, but change the topic of conversa- 
tion. He was no epicure, but would 
eat whatever was set before him. He 
slept in an attic chamber, with his door 
fastened. He was deranged in mind, 
and like other maniacs, when most 
crazy, would manifest a terrible tem- 
per. His name was Jeremiah Powers, 
and he could do a great amount of 
work, such as forking manure, hoeing, 
pitching hay, grain, &c ; in doing any 
of these things, no man could beat 
him. He was exceedingly withy and 
spry. I have seen him stand with 
both feet together, and jump twelve 
#eet ahead at a leap. Few men can do 
that. 



60 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

In his worst spells, he would receive 
no directions about the work from any 
one except me, and would frequently 
urge me to join him to kill Parker and 
Dave, for he had a lunatic idea that if 
they were killed we could do as we 
pleased with the farm and stock. 

Once on going into Dave's house, I 
found him sitting on a block in the 
corner, pale with terror, while Powers 
was standing over him, axe in hand, 
telling him if he moved he would split 
his brains out. And I believe he 
would have done so. 

" Captain," said I, for we were used 
to calling him by that title, " what are 
you going to do with Dave \ " 

" Kill this old d d regular," said 
he, " and take off his scalp." 

" What are you going to do with it ? " 

" Sell it," said he. 

" You can't get one cent for it ; be- 
sides we want him to help get our hay 
in ; he is a good mower you know." 

He turned away with a demoniac 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 61 

laugh, and Dave was relieved from his 
terror-stricken embarrassment. I must 
confess I was frightened myself, but I 
made shift not to let Powers know it. 
" Asa," said he, " you are always right ; 
I will let him go now." 

He had a notion if any one hawked 
or spit, &c., they were mocking him. 
If a cock crowed within his reach, he 
would cut his head off if he could. 
Often while we were hoeing, the fowls 
would come round picking up worms, 
and he killed several in that way, when 
I would carry them into the house and 
have them cooked. As he was one 
day pitching hay, the horse, which was 
tied by a rope at the door, snuffed. 
Powers told her if she did it again he 
would let her guts out. The snuffing 
was immediately repeated, \vhen Pow- 
ers sprang to the ground, pitchfork in 
hand. I screamed out, " don't kill her, 
we want her to go fishing with, we 
can't go on foot." He stopped short, 
saying, 



62 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

" You are always right ; I will let 
her live." 

Another time he insisted that we 
must have our stints. Accordingly 
Parker gave us a certain amount of 
plowing and hoeing for that and the 
following day. The plowing was done 
in the afternoon, which was followed 
by a bright, moonlight night. Powers 
hoed alone all night, and the morning 
found the work completed. " Now," 
said he, " you are my man to-day ;, you 
shall do nothing for anybody else." 
He soon decided to go fishing. We 
had two hooks, and I bated them with 
angle-worms while he fished. It was 
a day of great sport to him, and I en- 
joyed seeing his cup of happiness so 
full. We carried home a mess of fish 
to cook. 

Powers was uniformly good to me, 
but in no wise would I suffer a son of 
mine to work with such an unfortunate. 
I believe it may always be found true, 
that lunatics have some one to doat 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 63' 

upon. It is unquestionably better for 
them to be constantly employed in out- 
door labor; still they should be care- 
fully watched, for there is no telling the 
moment when they may commit depre- 
dations. 

Parker grew more and more unrea- 
sonable, but mother Parker's faculty of 
smoothing over things seemed to in- 
crease. 

Baynor l s wife and children lived in 
our family, and he came home at night, 
which enraged Parker, especially if he 
found we spoke together. One morn- 
ing, as I entered the house with a hand- 
ful of wood, I met liaynor at the door ;, 
we stopped and spoke. As Parker was 
coming out, he no doubt heard it. We 
soon went to unloading wood at the 
door ; he was full of spite and many 
angry words found utterance. I told 
him at length I would leave him.. He 
then caught a sled-stake and ran at me, 
but being smarter than he I ran out of 
his way. Mother Parker from the win- 



64 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

dow, seeing him seize the stake, was 
struck with consternation lest he would 
injure me. However I stopped at 
speaking distance, and he told me to go 
to cutting brush, and said I should not 
drive the team any more, he would drive 
it himself. This was done with a view to 
plague me, because I loved teaming so 
well. 

I did not go to cutting brush as he 
said, but walked over to Dave's, musing 
as I went on what I had best do. I 
told him my purpose of going away. 
He said, " you had better go to cut- 
ting fagots," which I did. 

I would here say, my operation of 
cutting fagots, to procure a little pocket- 
money, proved a rod for my own back. 
All my spare hours, rainy days, &c., 
were necessarily filled up with fagot- 
making. The last three months I lived 
with him, I carried home to him $72 
taken for fagots, all of my own making. 

I soon stopped my work and return- 
ed to the house. I told Mrs. Parker I 



AVILMYXGTO& FARMER. G"5 

was going to leave. She wept and said, 
" No, you must not go, I will try and 
get him to treat you better." 

"It is of no use," said I, " l^mve 
tried that long enough. I don't want 
to stay here to have my forains^beat out." 

"I do not blame yoV' -said she, 
but had rather yo-u would not take your 
clothes. You shall eventually have 
them, but as he -said you should not 
take them, I had rather you would not 
take them now." 

" Goed-bye, " good-bye," was al- 
ternated, and I was off on the road to- 
ward my own mother's. 

I -should have mentioned in connec- 
tion with Parker's threatening with a 
sted-stake, that when I told him I would 
go away he said, " you cannot go ; you 
are bound to me, aoad can't get away." 

" No,~" said I, " not so. I have been 
informed that, as father, who bound me 
here, is dead, you cannot hold ; me now 
I am fifteen." 

" Who told you that," said he. I did 



66 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

not answer that question. He had evi- 
dently been more tyrannical since I 
was bound. 

This story shows what a prominent 
part a woman can take in smoothing 
her rough-hewn husband's path. A 
good wife like a good missionary, is 
self-sacrificing, always intent on the 
welfare of others. 

Not more than three days had elapsed 
before Parker came to mother's for me 
to go back, stop a few weeks and then 
tell people that we had come to an 
agreement to dissolve, saying that then 
I should have my clothes and my sheep. 
He was good-natured, for he had been 
to a lawyer and found he could not hold 
me, as I said. 

I was then fifteen years and five 
months old. I went back with him 
and whenever an opportunity offered he 
would urge me to agree to stay three 
years with him ; promising to find all 
my clothes, let me go to school one 
month each winter, and at the expira- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 67 

tion of the time to give me $200. 

" No," said I, " I will agree to stop 
only on this condition, that I will go 
any time I wish, and you shall pay me 
accordingly." To this he agreed and 
mother Parker witnessed the contract. 
I felt then it was as safe as if put in 
black arid white, and a justice had 
signed the acknowledgment. This oc- 
curred in the spring of 1804, and we 
set about raising eight calves, to pay 
my wages when the three years were 
out, as Parker said. Soon, however, 
his accustomed fretfulness got hold of 
him with renewed vigor and he dis- 
dained to give explicit orders, but want- 
ed explicit compliance with all his de- 
sires. 

Our State Election, that holiday for 
boys, when they generally had two days 
given them for their pleasure, occurred 
on the last Wednesday in May. As I 
had but half a day, I chose to take the 
last half of the second day. 

After putting the cows in pasture, 



68 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON ! 

mother said, " Asa, I wish you would 
hoe in the garden for me this morning." 
I complied. When Mr. Parker came 
from the field his anger could not be 
restrained because I had not been in 
the field at work. " Eat your break- 
fast in one minute," said he. I swal- 
lowed the bread and milk unceremo- 
niously, till the minute was out, and 
then set the bowl down. Mother then 
brought her foot to the floor in her ex- 
pressive manner, saying, " Eat your 
breakfast, if you can't have time to eat 
your breakfast Election morning I will 
leave the house." So I finished it. 

I should have stated before that our 
State Elections in Massachusetts were 
held as festivals from time immemorial. 
At Mr. Parker's we always dined on 
roasted veal and plenty of raised sweet 
cake, called Election cake. Elections, 
like Thanksgivings, were days much 
calculated upon. 

To my story again. We worked 
along as well as could be expected, 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 69 

" bearing and forbearing," till July, 
when it was found out the calves were 
lousey and must be washed in tobacco 
wash to cleanse them. Toward night I 
arranged to drive them up, but it was 
foggy and they hid in the bushes and 
vayily did I try to collect them. Re- 
turning, I found all in bed, ate my 
spoon-victuals and retired. Early the 
following morning, the bushes wet as 
rain, I was out in search of them, in 
hopes to get them home before Parker 
was up, but failed in that endeavor. 
He was fiendish, cross and surly, I saw 
at once. " Eat your breakfast," said 
he, " and wash the calves, by the time 
I get mine done." 

My bowl of breakfast was soon dis- 
patched, and one calf was finished ere 
he came out. 

" Turnout the calves," said he, "and 
go right to mowing." 

" Why, that would be a pity," said I, 
" as the wash is all ready and they are 
here." 



70 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

" Then do it quick," said he, " if you 
do it at all." 

The eight calves were quickly and 
faithfully washed, and when they were 
turned into the street to be driven to 
pasture, he cried out, 

" Let the calves alone, let them go 
where they please, and you shall pay 
for them if they are lost." 

" It will take but a few moments and 
it is a pity to have them stray away," 
said I. The calves were put in the 
pasture and I hastened to the mow- 
field where he was mowing, but found 
him cross as a bear. The grass was 
furze and hard to cut ; soon he stopped 
to whet his scythe, and when done, 
reached out his hand for mine. I gave 
it. " Why don't you take my scythe 
and mow in my swath while I whet 
yours," said he. 

" Because it is as much as I can do 
to keep up with you, as fast as you mow 
this morning." This was my first year 
of mowing, and I was not 16 years old. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 71 

" You lazy dog, you have not earned 
your salt this fortnight," grated in my 
cars. 

" Tis a new thing to be called lazy," 
said I, " and if I have not earned my 
salt, you shall not find it any longer. 
I shall leave at once, and would like 
to have you pay me for the time I have 
worked for you, according to agree- 
ment." 

" No," said he, " you will probably 
choose a guardian and I will settle with 
him. You may take your clothes." 

When at a little distance he called 
saying, " you shan't have your clothes." 
I proceeded to the house, sat down on 
the door-sill, talked with Mrs. Parker, 
and heartily wished, as I had many 
times before, that circumstances were 
such that I could consistently stay ; as 
at that time it was deemed disreputable 
for a boy to change places often. And 
besides I had no expectation of getting 
so high wages any where . else, being 
only 15 years and 9 months of age, 



72 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

having lived with him 7 years, 8 months, 
and 10 days. Tears fell. Soon Parker 
came and seeing me, said, " If you are 
going to go, go I don't want you sit- 
ting on my door-sill." I was off. 

The next day the man who owned 
the farm that lay between Mr. Parker's 
two, seeing me, offered me good wages 
to work for him, if Parker would not be 
mad about it. " You had better go 
and see him," said I. He went. Par- 
ker said he did not want me to be idle, 
and I might as we'll work for him as 
anybody. 

The next Saturday afternoon as Par- 
ker crossed our field he said, " H you 
will bring them back at night, you may 
have your clothes to go to meeting to- 
morrow." The offer was accepted, and 
the clothes returned according to order. 

Thus things continued, always taking 
my clothes back to Parker's every Sab- 
bath night and locking them up, till 
my three months' engagement to Mr. 
Stone was out. Parker then gave me 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 73 

my clothes, the sheep I had prev- 
iously sold, but would not pay the 
money. His excuse was, that it was a 
damage to him to have me go away, as 
he could not get as much labor done so 
cheaply in any other way, and so he 
would not pay it. 

I did not consider it best to com- 
mence a prosecution for so small a sum 
as $20. It is an old maxim, notwith- 
standing a good one, " Keep out of the 
law." 

Subsequently, consulting Capt. Dan- 
iel King, of Danvers, in respect to be- 
ing my guardian, he said, " you can take 
care of yourself ; I will give you such 
advice as you may need, and when you 
have any money to spare, bring it to 
me, I will keep it for you, and that 
will do as well as a legalized guardian." 
I followed his directions, and from 
time to time put small sums of money 
into his hands. 



74 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDOX : 



You next find me in a gentleman's 
family rn Salem, as their waiting man, 
at $12 per month. The gentleman 
was sick up stairs, but his wife was 
one* of the umvfferabhs. She never al- 
lowed her maid to enter the dining 
room where she and' hei? son took their 
meals. 

I laid the table and cleared k again, 
and waited on them while eating*. The 
last thing set on the table was a bell 
beside her plate. When eating, I must 
sit in the adjoining room near the door, 
to await the ringing of the bell. 

" Ting, ting, ting ; bring a bottle of 
wine from the cup-board." Done, and 
I just seated. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 75 

" Ting, ting, ding," again ; " pour 
out a glass of wine for me." Done. 

" Ting, ting-a-ling ding ; pour out a 
glass for Edward." Done. 

" Ting, ting, ting," again ; " fill up 
Edward's glass full." 

And so it was from morn till night. 
It seemed to be her steadfast plan to 
keep me always running ; and in order 
to fulfill her purpose, she would not 
suffer me to bring more than one thing 
at a time, when it could be done just 
as well as not. For instance : She 
wanted a half-peck of rye meal, and 
sent me three-fourths of a mile to buy 
it. When done she asked the price 
and gave me the change all to one cent. 
" It wants one cent more," said I, "that 
piece will go for only five cents." 

" Do you think I don't know money," 
said she. 

" Yes, and so do I too." 

The money was carried, when the 
man observed, " There is one cent lack- 
ing, but no matter." 



76 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

" What did the man say to the mon- 
ey," said she, when I returned. 

" He said, ' it lacked one cent, but 
no matter.' ' 

" Here, go carry the cent ; I will 
owe nobody." 

So here was three times the travel 
necessary, and more too, for there was 
plenty of rye meal for sale, of the same 
quality, the next door to hers. 

These people had a garden of vege- 
tables near Beverly Bridge one mile 
from home. She one day sent me for 
three kinds of vegetables, telling me to 
go three times ; and also which to bring 
first, which second, and which last. I 
had learned a little about favoring my- 
self, and brought them all at once, leav- 
ing two kinds with a wood-sawyer I 
was acquainted with, while I carried 
one kind home. I then returned, stop- 
ped awhile, and carried another kind 
home, and lastly the other kind. This 
was satisfactory, because it was not 
known but that I went to the garden 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 77 

for the three kinds at different times. 

This kind of treatment too, was far 
from agreeable ; I hardly expected to 
like it when I commenced. The man 
appeared well, as far as he appeared at 
all ; but that heartless woman, oh ! that 
heartless woman ! how many times I 
wished that she might become poor, 
and be obliged to wait on herself. She 
did die poor. 

I gave notice that I must leave in three 
weeks from commencing. The man 
urged me to stay, but I was decided. 

" If you cannot be contented here," 
said the woman, " you would not be in 
heaven." 

" That depends on the company," 
said I, and cleared for deeper water. 

After the gentleman's recovery he 
made an attempt to hire me again into 
his family. I told him the work did 
not suit me, and besides I would not 
live with his wife at any price. I 
would rather dig ditches for a living 
than work for her. 



78 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

I now steered back to my old neigh- 
borhood in North Reading, and let 
myself to Parson Stone through haying 
and harvesting, and worked for board 
in the winter and attended school. 

On vacant school days, I sometimes 
would drive a load of wood to Salem 
for the Parson, for 25 cents. I well 
remember buying cotton cloth for shirts 
for myself, at 30 cents per yard, five 
cents more for one yard than I had for 
a day's work ; and it was called very 
cheap, much cheaper than it had been. 
This should put those to the blush who 
now complain of the present prices, 
which are not half so high. 

I used to think at that time if there 
was as much difference between hea- 
ven and hell as between Mr. Parker's 
and Parson Stone's, there was differ- 
ence enough. 

It was my good fortune, through the 
influence of Capt. King, my adviser, 
to hire out to bachelor Jonathan King 
of Banvers. A neice of his kept his 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 79 

house. They were good people to live 
with, and had one other hired hand 
named Clark. 

Clark was a man of intemperate 
habits, and when half drunk was bad 
to get along with. Once when plow- 
ing, because he could not keep the 
plow in the furrow, he insisted on driv- 
ing the cattle, but made out no better. 
He shifted the oxen from nigh to off, 
and off to nigh sides alternately, but 
to no purpose, and forced the steers so 
hard they split the yoke. King being 
informed of the case by his neice, said, 
"Asa, you had bad work with the 
steers, did you ? " 

" I was not teamster to-day, sir." 

" Did I not give you the care of the 
team ] " 

" Yes, sir, but a stronger man than 
I took it from me." 

" Well, you take charge of the team 
now, and never give it up for any one." 

I drove it ever afterwards while I 
lived with him. 



80 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON: 

I will here mention a narrow escape 
which I had, the effect of inebriation. 
A little party of us went out in a boat 
fishing. Toward night a fog arose 
that wholly obscured the horizon, and 
when it came time to row homeward, 
all but me were turned round and were 
for going out to sea. I told them the 
opposite direction was homeward, but 
they would not believe me. They had 
carried New England rum with them, 
of which all drank but me. Clark, not 
a little tipsy, caught me up and would 
have thrown me overboard had not a 
a friend seized him, and with assistance 
threw him down on the bottom of the 
boat and held him there. We then 
rowed on with all our might, and when 
some became disheartened I told them 
if we did not hear a rapping on the 
ship that was building at the shore 
within half an hour, I would give up 
my say. In less than twenty minutes 
we heard the taps, and soon gained the 
shore in safety. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 81 

Beware, oh ! beware, of intemperate 
companions, but more especially be- 
ware of the intoxicating cup. Too 
much caution cannot be used in the se- 
lection of associates. They should be 
none but those of thorough-going tem- 
perance principles. The young are 
little aware of the influence of com- 
panionships to lead insensibly to vice 
of any and every kind. Strong drink, 
as a beverage, should be held in per- 
fect abhorrence. " Touch not, taste 
not, handle not," is the only safe ground 
to stand upon. 

My time being expired at King's, I 
was hired by Jesse Upton of North 
Danvers, tavern-keeper, for $13 per 
month for one year. 

King hired another hand in my 
stead, who was unwilling to work with 
Clark, still he was preferred and Clark 
paid off. Clark came to Upton's to 
get me to persuade him to hire him, 
which I refused on account of his love 
of strong drink. 



82 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

Mr. Upton had been a prosperous 
man in life, and had now married a 
second wife, who I thought very com- 
plete and handsome. The men would 
reply to me, with a significant shake of 
the head, when I spoke of her, " You 
do not know her." Light on that sub- 
ject soon began to develope, when one 
day we hesitated about starting off to 
Salem with w r ood, fearing rain. On 
my observing that I would venture my- 
self if he would the team, it was con- 
cluded to go. Rain soon began to fall, 
and increased to a gale before I reach- 
ed home at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. 
Four carriages drove into the yard for 
shelter at the same time that I did, al- 
though not far from their homes. Mrs. 
Upton called from, the house, " Asa, 
let your team stand, and unharness and 
take care of those horses." Not hav- 
ing eaten a mouthful since breakfast, 
and being completely drenched with 
rain, I obeyed the summons, sheltered 
my team, and made shift to get on dry 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 83 

clothes as soon as possible. Immed- 
iately two other carriages drove up, 
whom Hutchinson, the waiting man, 
proceeded to wait upon. Mrs. Upton 
seeing this, told him to call me to un- 
harness. There were six men in the 
barn husking corn, and I had joined 
them, and when he gave me the order 
I told him the horses might stand there, 
for I should not expose myself again 
to rain that night. 

So much tavern company to eat first, 
made it past 7 o'clock, before I had a 
mouthful to eat. She informed Mr. 
Upton in my hearing of these facts, 
when he said, " Asa, you did wrong in 
one thing, you ought not to have un- 
harnessed the horses." 

One circumstance will serve to show 
the care practised at that early time in 
life to secrete money. I was sent, in 
company with another hand, to Char- 
lestown with two loads of hay. I took 
the pay for both loads, it was in bills, 
and amounted to $100. There had 



84 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

recently been a robbery perpetrated in 
Lynn Woods, through which we passed. 
On our way home, I must say that I 
felt a little anxiety on that account and 
kept a sharp look-out. Observing a 
man coming up to the hind team, I 
took the money from my pocket and 
put it in the near ox's ear and stopped 
the team, standing close beside him. 
The man came up, and proved to be a 
neighbor there, exchanged a few words 
of civility and passed on. I then took 
the money from its safe depository, say- 
ing to the hand that, " I had stopped 
to let the oxen breathe," and started on. 

Being 17 years of age, I was en- 
trusted by Mr. Upton to go on mone- 
tary business from town to town, with 
orders to put up for the night, if I 
pleased, much to his apparent satisfac- 
tion. 

He left home one day, giving me 
orders to meet him in Boston with a 
load of hay, and to bring fifteen kegs 
of pickles. I brought the kegs from 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 85 

the cellar and asked Hutchinson to 
hand them up to me to place on the 
load. Just then Mrs. Upton said, 

" Can't you load those pickles alone t" 

" Not very well," said I. 

" Then you need not carry them ;" 
and the pickles were not taken. 

I then opened my provision box, saw 
nothing there that I could eat, and left 
it and started. I drove all day and all 
night ; ate but little ; reached home 
between daylight and sunrise ; fed the 
team, and turned into bed. 

The next day, said Mrs. Upton, 
" Mr. Upton, if our hired men can't 
eat as we do, when they go on the road, 
I think it is fine times." 

" Where is that box of provision ? " 
said Mr. Upton, " call Betty." 

" Where is the box of provision put 
up for Sheldon, Betty ; bring it here?" 

" I can't do it," said she, " I threw 
it into the hog-pail ; it was not fit for 
anybody to eat." 

" Mrs. Upton how much do your 



86 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

men usually spend on a day's teaming ; 
if I have spent more I will pay it back." 

"I do not know how much they 
spend," said she, " but I know how 
much they ought to spend." 

She then took a slate and carefully 
marked down what the reasonable ex- 
penses of a day would be, allowing 25 
cents for dinner, &c. y and the amount 
swelled to 20 cents more than I laid 
out. Upton, who was a whole-souled 
man, pulled out his purse quickly and 
handed me the 20 cents saying, " I will 
pay that if I never have another cent." 

The following story will serve to show 
how the faithful are regarded by their 
employers, and also how a vixen of a 
wife can mar and blast the happiness 
and prosperity of her husband. 

Business called Mr. Upton away to 
be gone several weeks. He directed 
me to take the team to Londonderry 
and buy and bring home two barrels of 
sour cider for vinegar making. I was 
to carry up a load of household goods 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 87 

from Salem. It was in the month of 
April, the distance was 50 miles, and 
road new to me and muddy. Nothing' 
note- worthy occurred until I reached 
Derry and came to a tremendous hill, 
as it then appeared to me. I stopped 
at its base and fed the cattle ; while 
they were eating I walked up the hill 
to see what the prospect was of getting 
up alone. A couple of boys were plow- 
ing with four oxen near by. I inquired 
if they would help me up the hill. 
They said the team belonged to Gen. 
Reed. I must go and ask him y he lived 
ahead. I went. 

" Cant your team take the load up," 
said he. 

" Yes, n said I, " btit I do not want to 
put them to the utmost of their power." 

" You may take them," said he, " for 
I see you are careful of your cattle." 

I took them along as far as I wished. 
When against his house, I stopped the 
team and he came out with a white 
mug of cider. 



88 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

" Have you cider to sell," said I. 

" Yes, come down into my cellar and 
see." 

I went and beheld 200 barrels in 
one cellar, the greatest amount I ever 
saw, before or since. I soon agreed 
with him for 10 barrels at $'2 per bar- 
rel, with the barrels, they being new. 
I went and unloaded the goods and re- 
turned and stopped over night with the 
General, the next day I set forward, and 
had a prosperous journey home. I was 
only 17 years, 6 months old. Sold one 
barrel in North Reading on my way 
home for $4, a nice profit. 

Shortly after, with Mrs. Upton's con- 
sent, I took the team and went again 
for 10 barrels more of cider, for which 
I had previously agreed, if I wished 
to come for it. 

At this time the old General observ- 
ed, " I see you are very careful of your 
team, and very cautious too in buying 
for your employer, and I should like 
to hire you to live with me." 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 89 

w I am engaged for a year," said I, 

*' Then," said he, "if you ever come 
this way, I should like to have you call 
and .see me." A few years afterwards 
I heard of his death. 

On reaching home I found that Mrs. 
Upton had hired two men, one large 
man for $11 per month, and another 
small one for $19 per month. 

" Asa," said she, " how much do 
you have per month ? " 

I replied, " $13." 

" Oh, fie, I can hire men big enough 
to eat you up at two meals, for $11 ; so 
I will pay you off." 

I took the money and repaired im- 
mediately to good old Parson Stone's. 
Soon after Mr. Upton came, and to in- 
duce me to return, offered $15 per 
month for a year. 

" I would not live with yosiir wife at 
any price," was the decided answer. 

A narrow escape occurred while liv- 
ing with Parson Stone, which gratitude 
forbids I should omit; showing the 



90 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

benefit of bleeding after a fall. Ed- 
ward Stone and myself were threshing 
rye in the barn. I went on to the high 
scaffold for purpose of throwing down 
the bundles ; they were piled up near 
to the ridge-pole. While standing on 
one bundle the band gave way and I 
found myself sliding rapidly down, and 
must be precipitated to the barn floor. 
In falling I called to Edd to catch me, 
but a glance showed him running away. 
It is certainly astonishing how swiftly 
thoughts will run at such a moment as 
this. I thought if he would just catch 
hold of a shoulder or any other part it 
would ease the fall, and I felt sorry to 
see him run away. As I slid from the 
broken bundle I came feet foremost ; but 
in the descent, as kind Providence order- 
ed, one foot touched the edge of the 
scaffold and tipped me broadside, thus 
breaking the force of the fall, and I 
came plump on my side upon the barn 
floor, my head resting on a flat stone 
used for laying on a corner of the win- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 91 

nowing sheet. I jumped up feeling 
no pain, sprang to the barn-door and 
fell. My eyesight left me, which caus- 
ed an alarm that I should never see 
again. Edd took me on his shoulder 
and conveyed me to the house. 

"What is the matter with Asa?" 
said the Parson. 

" He fell from the top of the rye to 
the barn-floor," said Edd. 

" Carry him in and take care of him, 
and I will go for the doctor." 

When he arrived, he bled me in the 
arm, and as soon. as the blood touched 
the bowl my sight returned. The first 
object that greeted my joyful eyes was 
good Madam Stone holding the bowl. 
All the while I had sense enough to 
know what was going on, but could 
neither see nor speak. 



92 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 



SIXTH LINK. 



I remained with Parson Stone till the 
death of his son in September, when, 
by his request, I was hired by his son's 
Administrator to take charge of affairs 
there, with orders to cut and carry to 
market wood enough to supply the fam- 
ily's wants and pay my wages. At first 
I boarded with the widow, till in a few 
months she married ; then I boarded 
with his first wife's mother, and a bet- 
ter woman to take care of everything 
and everybody could not be found. 

In April following, I let myself to 
Capt. Daniel Graves, Mr. Stone's farm 
being let and the personal property sold 
at auction. Here I had full charge of 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 93 

the farm concern, Mr. Graves' son 
working at brick-laying in Boston. If 
ever my ambition was raised, it was 
then. When the moon favored me 
with her light, my scythe was frequent- 
ly running in the grass by 3 o'clock in 
the morning. 

Capt. Graves' father, who was near 
80 years of age, lived with him. When 
he hired me, he said he hoped I would 
try and please his father, for the hired 
hands were inclined to differ with him. 
I determined to keep the right side of 
him, if possible ; so when a piece of 
work was to be done, I would say to 
him, "Hadn't we better do it in this 
way ? " He almost invariably answer- 
ed, " Yes ; " and so well did I succeed 
in my attempt to please the good old 
gentleman, that the summer passed 
without a discordant word. Indeed, so 
interested did he become in all the con- 
cerns, and so much assistance did he 
afford, that I frequently pitied his fa- 
tigued state. The family were pleasant 



94 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

and kind, and I enjoyed life well this 
season. 

In 1807, I was hired by Major Aaron 
Pearson, and came to Wilmington, 
where I soon made the acquaintance 
of Mr. Jabez Go wing's family. There 
I fonnd congenial friends. I must say 
they seemed more like relatives than 
any other family known. Mr. Gpw- 
ing's family name was Jaques, and like 
others of that name, was always able to 
impart information to every listener. 

Mr. Pearson owned a saw mill in 
company with two others, and much of 
my business was lumbering, a kind of 
work that suited me. 

When about twenty years of age, I 
bought the said mill in company with 
John Nelson. Nelson was anxious to 
build a grist mill, and as I refused to 
go him company in it, he set it up him- 
self. At length finding himself in em- 
barrassed circumstances he sold me the 
whole concern, both saw and grist mill. 
This was merely a winter mill, as no 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 95 

right was given to plow the land in 
summer. I vividly remember the grist 
mill was raised on the day I was 21. 

Shortly after, on Nov. 13, 1809, at 
25 minutes past 10 o'clock in the morn- 
ing, by Nelson's watch, an event oc- 
curred which I shall never forget ; for 
I shall carry indubitable proofs of it to 
'my grave. While engaged in moving 
a loaded wagon, I fell under it, one 
wheel passing over my hat, and another 
over my left leg, not only breaking, but 
smashing it. Under the misguided 
judgment of the oldest man in the 
company, this sad affair took place. 
The bone was well set by Frank Kit- 
tridge of this town. 

The fact that drinking alcoholic 
spirits was universally practised at this 
time, should be kept in mind. This 
custom will be better understood by 
reading the following poetry. 



96 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 



*' How different some customs are, 

With mortals here below, 
From what they were when I was young:, 

Some tilty years ago. 

One could not have a ' raising; ' then, 

Without a keg of rum, 
''Twere of :.<; use to ask the men, 

For sure they would not come. 

The Doctor would not ride & mile, 

To save a man from dying, 
Until he had a glass of sling, 

And then he'd be for trying. 

The Lawyer could not plead a case, 

For plaintiff or defendant, 
Until he took a glass of gin, 

And then there 'd be no end on't. 

The Minister, he could not preach, 

Extempore or by note, 
Unless he had a glass of wine 

')'> guzzle down his throat. 

fj.ae could not go to market thca, 

However near or handy, 
Without he had, to help along;, 

.Some good old Cognac brandy. 

-One could not mourn e'en for a Jriend, 

A friend however near, 
Unless he had a cordial glass, 
To prove himself sincere. 

The Sailor couldn't sing a song, 

The Yankee couldn't whittle, 
With any kind of grace at all, 

Unless he had a little," 

Bard of Souhegan, Amherst, N. H. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 97 

According to custom I prepared my- 
self with liquor to treat all who favored 
me with their company, and many other- 
wise lonesome hours were beguiled with 
friendly chat. 

A week or ten days after the acci- 
dent, as Dr. Kittridge was dressing the 
wound, I raised myself upon my elbow 
and saw that he was cutting out a bit of 
flesh the size of a quarter of a dollar. 
" What are you doing, doctor ? " said I. 
He then run in his probe, the marrow 
spouting up like water, and said, " does 
that hurt you \ " 

" No ; if I did not see you, I should 
not know you touched it." 

" O, I had rather heard you scream 
like murder," said he. 

He then bound up the leg, went and 
sat down by the fire with elbows on his 
knees and buried his face in his hands 
for several minutes. 

With a sad countenance he approach- 
ed the bed saying, " Asa, I must tell 
you one thing." 



Sf8 LIFE OP ASA f. SHELDON: 

" Let me hear it," said I. 

" You must have your leg* cut off, or 
lose your life within forty-eight hours, 
because mortification has set in and it 
can't be stopped." 

He then left, was absent about two 
hours, anoT returned with four other" 
doctors, one being his father. 

They examined the leg and said it" 
had got so bad I could not live over 
thirty-six hours, unless it was amputat- 
ed^ I told them-- I would not have if 
taken it off. If I dicd^ I would die 
altogether. They paid no attention 
whatever to what I said, but went to 
work and spread out their instruments- 
on the table. The sight of them struck 
ine with horror indescribable. I felt 
as though they meant to dissect me. 
. " Mary," said I, " give me a little of 
that rum and molasses." 

"Shall I, doctor?" said" she. 

" Give him a little," said the doctor. 

"Shall I give him that," said she r 
showing the glass. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 99 

** Yes," said he, " that will not hurt 
liim." 

I drank it and said, " Frank, come 
fcere." 

He came to my bedside, when I said, 
" No man shall cut my leg off while I 
kave my senses. If I lose my senses- 
and it is cut off, and I can find out who 
did it, I will shoot him, let him be who- 
he may." 

" You are good pluck," said he, " I'll 
cure you if I can." 

I assure you that they put up their 
tools in " short meter," bound up the* 
wound and all left but the old doctor, 
who like a faithful friend, as he was, 
stuck by me day and night. He was 
an old gentleman and very lame ; he 
could not walk a step without crutches, 
He sat in an arm chair by the bed, with 
two young women to wait upon him by 
turns, six hours each by rotation, 
His order to them was, if he was asleep 
to wake him every fifteen minutes y 
when he would apply something to the 



100 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

Wound. I often asked how the case 
came on, but he always answered evas- 
ively. When the clock struck at the 
end of thirty-six hours, he suddenly 
started hi his chair and said, " you've 
beat them. The thirty-six hours are 
out and your leg is better than two 
wooden legs." He staid two days long- 
er, but did not dress the limb quite so 
often. From that time I never failed 
to give the old man a quarter whenever 
I met him. He would say, " Hey ! 
boy, you remember that leg." 

My mother, hearing of my misfor- 
tune and that it was expected I should 
lose my limb or my life, came to see 
me with a view to stop and take care of 
me. I thanked her, but said, " Mother, 
I do not want you ; I had rather have 
the prettiest girl I ever saw, than such 
a long face." 

At the expiration of seventeen weari- 
some days and nights, I was helped off 
my bed, but in less than ten minutes 
I was glad to be helped back, where I 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 101 

lay seventeen days more, much against 
my will. 

Being partially recovered, on Jan. 18, 
I rode horseback to Danvers, where my 
brother Elbridge lived. I stopped with 
him a short time and returned Ijpme- 
ward to Capt. Howard's, who married 
sister Lucinda. The day was very un- 
usually warm for winter, and I am sure 
I never saw more cattle on the road, 
in one day, with their tongues out, in 
my life. 

The next morning brought a great 
change. It was the memorable Janu- 
ary 19th, 1810, or "Cold Friday." 
The cold was intense. In several in- 
stances within my knowledge, people 
perished. It was noted for half a cen- 
tury by almanac makers. Since my 
remembrance, I have never known so 
sudden a change as we experienced at 
this time, although people are often 
saying, " The weather changes oftener 
than it used to." 

In this connection a few observations 



102 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON-: 

on the weather may not be unimpor- 
tant. You will find that these signs 
rarely fail. 

If rain commences between daylight 
and sunrise, there will be but little rain. 
Start on your journey if you are inclin- 
ed. 

If rain commences between 12 and 
1 o'clock, or at mid-day or midnight, 
there will be six hours of rain, more 
or less. 

Where the wind is at sunset Candle- 
mas day, or February 2d, there will be 
its home for two months. It will never 
be away from home more than forty- 
eight hours at a time. Should it be 
North or North-west, look out for cold 
weather. 

Note the day the first snow falls and 
to that add the age of the moon the 
day that it fulls, and the product will 
be the number of snows to come that 
year. For example, if the first snow 
falls the tenth day of the month and the 
moon is fifteen days old, add ten to fif- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 1 03 

teen, and you have the number of snow 
-storms for that year. 

When a halo, or circle, around the 
moon is seen, if one bright stars ap- 
pears in the circle there will be one 
.fair day and then rain. If two bright 
stars appear there will be two fair days 
and then rain. But if no stars are with- 
in the circle the following day will be 
vrainy. There are more exceptions to 
this rule than any of the others. 

If the sun cast a red reflection on the 
clouds in the morning, rain will follow 
-that day. 

If the sun cast a red reflection at 
-night, any night in the week except, 
Thursday, it will be fair the next day. 

If the sun set in a cloud Thursday 
night, there will be rain within forty- 
'eight hours. 

In regard to the Candlemas sign, I 
would say, that I never, in fifty years, 
knew it to fail but once. 

To farmers, I wish te say. that if the 
months of April and May are dry, and 



104 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

there follow three weeks of wet wea- 
ther in June, first or last, you may 
reckon on a fair crop of English hay. 

About forty years ago, passing by 
'Squire Adams' hay-field in Medford, 
aboujt the 10th of June, I saw several 
hands mowing, while he was spreading 
swaths. "'Squire," said I, "I hope 
that that hay will all rot before you can 
get it into the barn." 

" What have I ever done to you, that 
you should wish such a wish on me," 
said he, wonderingly and laughingly. 

Three weeks from that day, as I pass- 
ed that way, I saw the same hands 
opening the same hay for the first time, 
and in fact it was rotten. " Well," said 
the 'Squire, " you have your wish, the 
hay is rotten and I am glad of it." 

I must add, the hay was opened on 
to a fine crop of rowen, that had grown 
since mowing, and which would have 
greatly enhanced the value of the crop 
had he waited four weeks longer. 

Now to my story again. In the 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 105 

morning, cold as it was, I was deter- 
mined to make the attempt to get home, 
in spite of the remonstrances of friends. 
Being well wrapped up and shielded 
from the cold, brother Howard brought 
me home in his chaise with my horse 
tied behind, and staid over night. Two 
men in Woburn went into a lot to chop 
wood that day, and both perished. 
Their death may partially be attributed 
to their having New England rum with 
them. 

Another instance will suffice to show 
the intensity of the cold. A stage dri- 
ver, seated on his box, was frozen stiff, 
with the reins for four horses clenched 
with a death grasp. The horses turn- 
ed up to their accustomed hotel, when 
the driver retained his seat, much to 
the astonishment of the passengers, who 
were fastened in. The fact was soon 
developed, that the driver was frozen 
to death. 

In sympathy with my misfortune, the 
citizens generally offered to give each a 



106 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON: 

day's work, cutting or drawing lumber, 
if I would purchase it. Accordingly 
an acre of standing wood and timber 
was bought of Wm. Blanchard, Esq., 
for $100. It was situated about forty 
rods west of Maj. Pearson's, my board- 
ing place. 

A day was set, and notice given that 
I would find a warm dinner, but they 
must bring forage for the teams. 

I bought one barrel of cider ; the 
butcher made a generous consideration 
on the beef, and on applying to Capt. 
-Joseph Bond, the first, and extensively 
known, cracker baker in Wilmington, 
for bread, he magnanimously gave all 
the crackers wanted and several pans 
-f gingerbread. Mrs. Pearson and 
her daughter Mary did the cooking 
gratis. 

As many took their grub in the house 
as could be convened, others took theirs 
at the door by means of barrels cover- 
ed with boards. They had plenty of 
roast beef, good boiled potatoes, crack- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 107 

ers and cider. This last article was 
finished that night. 

Some backed up their gift by coming 
the next day, when the lot was cleared 
and the logs drawn ashore, but not all 
drawn to the mill. On the first day 
there were 45 men and 20 yoke of oxen. 
Although lame, I procured a handy 
yoke of cattle and managed to draw 
-the remaining logs to mill, about one 
.and one-third jniles, that whiter.. 



108 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 



SEVENTH LINK. 



The next spring, being unable to 
work on a farm, I let myself to brother 
Elbridge to drive a market cart, at low 
wages. 

I next hired out to Capt. Stephen 
Abbott of Andover. When arranging 
the bargain, he said, " I want you to 
try if possible to please my father. If 
you cannot please him and me too, be 
sure and please him." 

I thought better of him for that, and 
was certain he would be a good man 
to work for. To spurn the wishes of 
the aged, I am sorry to say, is too pre- 
valent, but nevertheless indicates great 
lack of sensibility. Who are the party 
to be pleased, but the original owners ? 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 109 

And I advise them never to give up 
their ownership as long as life lasts. 

In looking back upon the summer 
spent in Mr. Abbott's family, I reckon 
it as one s of the green spots in life ; an 
oasis never to be forgotten. The old 
gentleman was so completely ingratiat- 
ed into my favor, that nothing I did 
was amiss. Phebe, his daughter was a 
fine girl, good in every sense of the 
word. 

Capt. Stephen and wife were christ- 
ians, possessing " pure and undefiled 
religion," if we may be allowed to 
judge from the Scripture rule, " by 
their works ye shall know them." 

It was customary in those days to buy 
cattle by the pound, to be weighed after 
dressing. I knew his integrity to be 
such that he would not cheat a man 
out of a pound in weight, or an ounce 
of tallow. 

With regret I left that family in ear- 
ly winter, as my mill-pond had filled 
up and I6*gs were in waiting. I took 



110 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON .' 

lodgings again at Major Pearson's and 
tended the mill. I stuck close and 
worked hard day and night. At one 
time, I kept the saw running five days 
and five nights all myself, excepting: 
five hours. I then said that I would 
never work so hard again, even if it 
was to keep out of the poor-house. 

Spring opening, I set up b atchering 
in company with James Dean, and' 
Boarded with him. I found, in this 
family, a similarity to Mr. Parker and 
his wife, ' a woman amiable and gen- 
tle yoked with a tiger. 

Times being dull, a new idea came" 
Tip. I thought to take a two-horse load 
of groceries, and go back into the 
country to trade. I took tea, coffee, 
ehocolate, tobacco and some rice. At 
Mt. Vernon traded a chest of tea for a 
fat cow ; I left her to be sent to Dean's 
in Wilmington, in Flint's drove, and 
went on. I put up at Gibson's tavern, 
Francistown, over the Sabbath, and 
started early Monday, crosseti. Concord 



WILMINGTON FARMER. Ill 

River at Windsor bridge, and soon saw 
the sign, " Allen Hayse." I offered a 
barter trade with him, when he handed- 
me a piece of paper, saying, " Put down* 
every article and your price, and if I 
trade I shall pay in?, butter at 8 cents- 
per pound/' 

When done, he sai$, "All but the 
rice I will take ; you must take 75 cts. 
0ff that, and I will take the whole." 

It was agreed upon, and the butter 
proving good, I started back the same' 
night; carried the load to Salem and; 
sold it for 12 cts. per lb,, making a 
good profit. 

The cow was bought by friend Ab- 
bott, the butcher, before I reached; 
home ; he said- he would give me $2 
more than I gave for it, which allowed 
$1 profit and $1 for drift. 

Another journey similar to that was- 
made, with less profit, as butter had 
risen, making it uncertain, business. 

The next autumn, for the advantage 
of being nearer the mill, I boarded at 



112 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

Joshua Harnden's tavern, and attended 
to lumbering the next winter. My plan 
was to buy a wood-lot, top and bottom ; 
to hire the wood chopped by the cord, 
the lumber by the thousand, and to 
draw it into the mill myself, a man 
being hired to tend the mill. 

Let me here tell a fox story. As I 
was returning from Salem, in company 
with Capt. Ezra Kendall, of Wilming- 
ton, and when between my mill and 
boarding house, we espied a fox run 
across the road. " Run," said I to 
Kendall, " and head him, and I will 
stand and give him a cut if he comes 
back on the same track." He did so. 

" He is coming," said Kendall. I 
stood ready, keeping an eye on him. 
He looked back several times to make 
sure he was safe from his driver, but 
did not notice me, as he always turned 
his head the other way. When with- 
in reach of the whip, I gave him a cut 
and he fell to the ground with a scream, 
apparently dead. I took him up by the 



WILMINGTON FARMER, 

nape of the neck ; he was limpsy as a 
.rag, but as I carried him along he gave 
another childlike scream, with a des- 
perate struggle, which so startled me 
that I came near dropping him. How- 
ever, I held en till the house was gam- 
ed, and gave him to two boys., who 
made a little pen of boards, covering rt 
<safely to prevent escape. During that 
night, foxes were heard about the house 
by the inmates, and when the morning 
icame, lo ! and behold, the boys were 
minus the fox. Other foxes had come 
in the night and dug him out, as evinced 
by the fact that the dirt from the bur- 
jrow was thrown out on -the outside. 

To reiairn <to my narrative. About 
this time I was informed that David 
Foster, of Ashby, wished to sell a cer- 
tain lot laying South of Thomas E. 
.Upton's house. I made up my mind 
to start the next morning for the pur- 
pose of trying to buy it. That evening, 
coming across Capt. George Ford, he 
said to me, 



114 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

" Sheldon, do you want to buy a wood 
lotl" 

" Yes," said I, " who has got one to 
selU" 

" I have ; the Foster lot, front of 
Tom Upton's." 

" What is your price ? " 

" $1500," was the answer. 

"Will you take $1100." 

" No, I have been oiFered $1300 for 
it to-day." 

" Capt. Ford, do you own that lot? " 
said I, with not a little emphasis. 

" Yes, I do, faith," said he. 

As I looked him in the face, I dis- 
covered a blush. From that moment I 
made up my mind to carry out my first 
purpose. 

Accordingly I made preparations to 
start for Ashby early the next morning. 
I told the landlady that I must start 
early and might not be home that night. 

" Are you going to Salem ? " said 
she. 

" I do not know where I shall go, 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 115 

and if I am not back for two days you 
need not fear." 

I was on my way as far as Westford 
before sunrise. Took dinner at Stone's 
Tavern, Townsend, left my horse and 
proceeded on foot to Mr. Foster's. 

" Have you a wood-lot in Wilming- 
ton to sell, Mr. Foster ? " 
" I have," he answered. 
" What do you ask for it ? " 
" $1100," was the answer. 
"Will you take $900?" 
" No, I won't." 

" What is the lowest you will take?" 
" What pay can you make 1 " 
" What pay do you want ? " 
" I want $300 down and the remain- 
der in one year," said he. 

" What security do you want for the 
$700?" 

" Do you know Joshua Harnden ? " 

" I do ; I board with him." 

" Pay me $300 cash, and bring me 

a note for $700 with your name and 

Harnden's, and you shall have the lot." 



116 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON": 

" I want you to give me the refusal 
of that lot ten days, at the rate you 
have named, or for all the cash down," 
said I. 

" Can you raise all the money," said 
he. 

" If you will take $900 1 think I can." 

" I will not, but if you will bring me 
$930 you shall have it," said he. 

I took out a ten dollar bill and 
presented it, saying, " if I do not come 
and comply with one of the above 
named terms within ten days, the bill 
is yours. If I do, it shall go toward 
the payment." 

" If you don't have the land, I will 
have none of your money. My word 
is good for it," said he, " and that is 
enough." 

I took a piece of chalk from my 
pocket and wrote both contracts on the 
ceiling over the fire-place, verbatim, 
thinking if it remained till I came again 
there would be hopes of getting the 
land. I considered it a great bargain. 



'WILMINGTON FARMER. 117 

Made the best of my way home, con- 
triving a little circuitously to come up 
to the house from the way of Salem. 
The next day started for Henry Carter's 
store ; I told him my business and asked 
what was the prospect for raising money 
to buy the Foster lot at $1100. 

" Is it possible," said he, " that Ford 
would give you the refusal of that lot 
for $1100 when I offered him $1300 1 " 

I told him, " Ford did not own it, 
the truth was I could have it for $930." 
Ford had had the refusal of the lot, but 
the time had expired. He had been 
written to on the subject, but took no 
notice of it. 

The preliminary matters were ar- 
ranged and I started with the $930 
sewed into my vest pocket. Sure 
-enough I felt a little chilly about the 
bargain, as Foster was a stranger and 
an illiterate man. On going into the 
house I saw that every letter of the 
chalk writing remained. My courage 
came back. Foster said, " I can't do 



118 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

anything with you to-day. But will 
give you $20 if you will do right. I 
felt doubtful and agitated, but said little. 
Soon he said, 

" Do you know Maj. D. Cummings of 
Andover ? " 

" Yes, I do." 

" Well, he sent a hand up and offer- 
ed $1000 for the lot, cash down, but I 
swear you have my word." 

As nothing more could be done that 
day, I prepared to spend the night in 
this unique habitation. It had two 
rooms on the base, was one story in 
height, and unclapboarded. Two small 
glass windows in front and aboard one 
in the rear that could be taken down at 
pleasure. A pretty good rough stone 
hearth, with a pine post near the fire- 
place, to support the garret floor. So 
much had been hewed off for kindlings 
that at the bottom it was not larger than 
a joist. Breakfast consisted of fresh 
pork steak well fried, roasted potatoes, 
doughnuts, and a cup of tea. In all it 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 119 

was good. And the curiosity was, Mrs. 
Foster had no other article to cook 
with but a dish-kettle. Everything 
cooked went through the dish-kettle, 
and they were considered wealthy. 
Before rising the next morning I heard 
the following conversation between Mr. 
Foster and a man whose farm he had 
bargained for. 

" Has your man come up ? " said the 
man. 

" Yes, and I suppose he has got all 
the money, but I don't know." 

" Then if he pays you the whole, I 
suppose you can pay me the whole," 
said the man. 

" Yes if you will pay me for it," said 
Foster. 

" How much must I give you 1 " 

" Make your own offer." 

" I'll give you $10." 

" That will never do," was the re- 
sponse. 

" I'll give you $15." 

" That won't do neither." 



120 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

" I'll tell you the most I will give, 
I'll give you $20." 

" It is a bargain," said Foster. "Job, 
my son, run down to 'Squire Richard- 
son's and tell him to come up and bring 
-two deeds with him." 

I was quick out of bed and dressed, 
and the reason was disclosed why he 
was not ready for me yesterday. The 
'Squire was soon there. The deeds 
were executed, Foster signing them. 
His wife took up the pen to write but 
he held her back, and yet again, with 
the same effect. At length I threw a 
silver dollar on to the deed. " There, 
that will make the pen go," said Foster. 
And quickly the pen scratched her 
name. 

The clearing of this large lot f 
lumber was quite satisfactory. At the 
time War was declared in 1812, I had 
200 cords of wood corded on the lot 
ready for market. In two days the 
price rose $2 per cord. I offered a 
string of forty-five cords to a man the 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 121 

day before the declaration, for $3 per 
cord. The day after the declaration, 
he came again and bought it for $5. 

Mr. Ephraim Pratt, tanner, of North 
Reading, came into the lot and bar- 
gained for the bark on forty-five oak 
trees ; he was to peel it himself and I 
was to team it, for $18. He wrote a 
contract with a pencil on a small bit of 
paper he chanced to have in his pocket, 
for all the bark on all the trees in the 
Foster lot, so called. I refused to sign 
it. He remarked, we know each other ; 
we both know what it means. I then 
signed it. Mr. Pratt took with him to 
peel the bark, a man more trickish than 
he or I was. This man advised him to 
peel more than the forty-five trees as 
the contract was indefinite, and suc- 
ceeded in persuading him to peel one 
hundred. On being applied to, to team 
off the bark, I refused, as there was no 
time set in the contract. 

" What is the reason," said he, " that 
you will not team that bark ? " 



122 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON: 

" You know as well as I do." 

He then said, " How much shall I 
give you to team that bark, and we be as 
good friends as we always have been?" 

I said, " give me $18 more." He 
took the money out of his pocket-book 
and straightway gave it to me, saying, 
" Sheldon, I have felt worse about the 
peeling of that bark than you have. 
It is the first time I was ever persuad- 
ed by another man to do contrary to 
well understood agreement, and I am 
determined it shall be the last. 

I was well acquainted with Pratt 
from his youth to his death, and it is 
no more than justice to say, I consider- 
ed him an upright, honest man, but 
for once he was induced to swerve by a 
sly, trickish man, who got no thanks 
from either party. 

I will now state an event which took 
place at this time. My mother, then 
residing in Danvers, had a supposed 
claim on my old friend Joseph Tapley. 
However, they could not talk on the 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 123 

subject for irritation. " Mother," said 
I, " what is that claim worth ? " 

" It is worth $60, but I will sell it 
for $50, cash." 

" I will give it," I answered. I went 
immediately to see Tapley, and told 
him I had bought mother's claim. 

" Am glad of it," said he ; " now I 
think we shall be able to settle it. 
Have you spoken with a lawyer ? " 

" No, I never spoke with a lawyer in 
my life," said I. 

" Then we will go to Lawyer Putnam 
together." 

He found the chaise and I the horse, 
and when we arrived there, he said, 
" Sheldon, you are the youngest, you 
may tell the story first." 

I told the story as I understood it. 
Putnam then said, " Mr. Tapley, have 
you anything to say to this story, for or 
against." 

" No, sir, it is as correct as I could 
state it myself." 
1 " The claim is good," said Putnam, 



124 LIFE OF ASA 0. SHELDON : 

" and no man can better tell the worth 
of it, than you two. You both had 
better chalk what you think it worth." 

We did chalk, and on examination 
found that Tapley had chalked $100, 
and I $120. 

" Well," said Putnam, " that is as 
near as a buyer and seller could be ex- 
pected to come. You had better split 
the difference." 

This was speedily agreed upon. Put- 
nam made out the documents for moth- 
er to sign. Tapley sold me a yoke of 
oxen for $60, and gave his note for 
$50. He then stated to Putnam that 
as we had come there for the amicable 
adjustment of our affairs, we had con- 
cluded to share the cost together, " Now 
what is your fee ? " 

" You love each other so well, and 
dislike quarrelling so bad," said Put- 
nam, " that I will not take one cent. 
But this I must say, if everybody were 
of your minds, I would not give a mill 
for a lawyer's profession." 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 125 



EIGHTH LINK. 



Capt. Joseph. Bond had just given 
his business of baking into the hands 
of his sons Joseph and William. To 
increase their manufactures, they were 
at a loss how to procure faggots, which 
were then used exclusively for oven 
heating. 

I told them there would be no trou- 
ble if they would pay enough for them. 
" It is such mean business, nobody will 
make them," they said. 

" It will not be a mean business if 
you will pay a fair price for them." 

" Who will make them, if we will 
pay well for it ? " 

" I will," said I. 



126 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON: 

" I should laugh, to see you making 
faggots." 

"I should laugh to see you paying 
me the money for it," said I. 

The bargain was concluded between 
us, that I should make all I could in five 
days, anywhere in Wilmington where 
they could go with a team, and they 
would draw them and pay li cents per 
bundle. At work I went, and in five 
days made 1000 bundles, for which they 
paid me $15. In less than a fortnight 
after, many respectable citizens, togeth- 
er with the minister, his two sons and 
the deacon, employed themselves in 
making faggots for the Bonds. And 
from that day to this it has never been 
considered mean business. Many a 
laboring man has earned a few dollars, 
who could not get it in any other way. 
Besides the benefit arising from the 
faggots themselves, it has been the 
cause of clearing many acres of swamp 
or low land, which proves the best land 
for cultivation we have in Wilmington. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 127 

In June, 1812, I commenced the 
business of carrying hops to Southern 
markets. I started with a two-horse 
team loaded with hops and shoes, for 
New York city, partly owned by myself 
and partly by others. This slow mode 
of transportation was resorted to, on 
account of the existing war. On ar- 
riving at New Haven, I found packets 
were safely running from there through 
Long Island Sound to New York and 
my hops could be carried for one-fourth 
cent per pound and my fare both ways 
thrown into the bargain. I thought 
best to take that course, and on my 
arrival found the brewers very ready to 
buy the hops which were soon disposed 
of, and last of all the box of shoes. 
The shoes were sold to a firm for $ 150. 
I procured a drayman to take them to 
the store. The storekeeper counted out 
the money, laid it on the counter, and 
then presented a receipt, which I sign- 
ed and handed back to him. He took 
it, grabbing the money at the same 



128 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

time, exclaimed, " Now I have shaved 
the Yankee, I have the receipt, and 
you have not got the money." 

I waited a few moments to see what 
he would do, as he had put the money 
away. Then said I, " will you pay me 
that money ? " 

He said, " I have your receipt for all 
I owed you." 

" Did you hear that man say he had 
my receipt and I had not got my 
money ? " said I to the drayman, whom 
I had designedly kept waiting. 

" Yes," was his answer. As I step- 
ped out of the store, I heard an elderly 
man say, " You have carried that joke 
too far with a stranger ; you had better 
settle with him." Upon that he called 
me back, saying he would pay me. 
The difference between New York and 
Massachusetts money at that time, was 
16 per cent. But it was understood 
that New York merchants in buying, 
expected to pay in New York money, 
as their banks had stopped specie pay- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 129 

ments. He then counted it out in New 
York bills. I said, " I can't take that, 
I must have Massachusetts money, or 
gold or silver, you have gone too far 
with me to have me accept that money." 

"How much premium," said he, 
" shall I give on this money? " 

" Sixteen per cent," said I. He 
straightway counted out the cash, $24. 
I pocketed the money ; it was $2-4 more 
than I had expected; I then said, " if you 
have shaved the Yankee, you are wel- 
come to Ae bristles," and then bade him 
" good-bye " with as much politeness as 
my Yankee blue frock would admit of. 
I then returned to New Haven, bought 
a load of flour at $8 per bbl., and start- 
ed my team for home. At Worcester, 
I saw a company about to raise a sign- 
post. I asked the man if he had 
opened a tavern. He said, " I am 
ready to." I then called for dinner for 
myself and horses. He asked if I 
would sell a barrel of flour, which I 
did for $18, and took pay in 18 bushels 



130 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

of buckwheat. His name was Charles 
Stearns. He said I was the first man 
who had patronized him. Nearly all 
the buckwheat sold for $3.50 per bush., 
and the flour at $18 per barrel. The 
next morning I started back to Worces- 
ter for another load of buckwheat. I 
succeeded in buying as before, at $1 
per bushel, but when I returned wheat 
had fallen and I realized only a fair 
profit. 

I soon set out again with hops, with 
a team of three horses, for New York 
city. This time I drove the horses 
through, carefully noting in a guide- 
book, where I could bait the team, and 
where put up for the night, all through 
the route, if I should conclude to team 
with oxen, should the war continue. 
Disposed of the hops and took on a 
load of cotton to bring to Boston, for 
four cents per pound. The new crop 
of hops was now in process of gather- 
ing, and I set about preparing two ox- 
teams for the purpose of teaming them. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 131 

These teams consisted of six oxen and 
one horse each. For driver, hired Jo- 
seph Gowing of this town, now of Am- 
herst, N. H. Price for carrying, four 
cents per pound. We set forward, and 
when at New Haven, there being no 
fear of the British, as was sometimes 
the case, put the hops on board a packet 
for New York. Freight on board the 
packet was one-fourth cent per pound 
and my fare both ways thrown in. Dis- 
tance, 75 miles. I bought two loads of 
flour and left Gowing to load it and tend 
team. This flour was also sold to Bond, 
of this town, for $18 per barrel. 

This business was continued while 
the war lasted, and sometimes I made 
the entire route with the ox teams. 
Jabez Gowing, now of Concord, Mass., 
was teamster on two of these trips. 
We always brought loads back some- 
times cotton, sometimes flour, and once 
glass. 

I hope the following facts will not 
be thought too egotistical. At one 



132 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

time I had $5000 in gold to bring back 
for myself and others. The load con- 
sisted of flour. Before starting every 
barrel was inspected by a cooper who 
nailed the hoops anew, and pronounced 
it safe. I knocked in the head of one 
barrel, took out a quantity of flour, de- 
posited the gold, put back the flour and 
passed over the barrel to the cooper, 
who said nothing but fastened in the 
head as usual. To be sure I kept an 
eye on that barrel until loaded ; its 
place was in the centre of the load. 

On the way home Jabez inquired, 
" What have you done with that mon- 
ey?" 

" Oh, you had better not know." 

"Why? I can't see what hurt it 
would do for me to know." 

" Well, I can convince you that you 
had better not know. Nobody now 
knows where it is but myself. If I 
should tell you and it should be missing 
who should I suspect but you "? " 

" I don't want to know," said he. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 133 

I sold all but one barrel to William 
Bond. 

" Why not every barrel ? " said he. 

" Oh, must carry one to my boarding 
place." The money came home safe. 

In the month of November, at 8 
o'clock in the morning, while my men 
were engaged in finishing a job of 
work, I was called upon to fit out two 
teams to go to New York, with great 
despatch. Benjamin Thompson came 
to me and asked if I could carry two 
loads of hops to market for him and 
start the next morning. 

" Where are the hops ? " 

" Part at my press, part at Hopkins', 
and part at Jonathan Carter's." 

" If you will deliver them all at my 
boarding-place by 2 o'clock this after- 
noon, I will do it," said I. 

" I will get them there." 

Leaving men and teams to close up 
the work, I jumped on to my horse and 
made for Eben Jones' in Andover, and 
accosted him thus : 



134 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

" I want you to drive your white- 
faced ox down to the blacksmith's at 
North Reading, and tell him to shoe 
him for me to go to New York, and 
charge the shoeing to me. Then drive 
him up to me and if I don't exchange 
with you, I'll give in the shoeing." 

" I will go because the ox wants 
shoeing, but shall not trade with you." 

I knew that ox was made for a trav- 
eller ; but when he came up with him, 
Mr. Jones said, " Your oxen are now 
mated as well as they can be." 

" I want you should tell me how you 
will trade," said I. 

" I shall ask you $10," said he, " and 
your oxen will not look so well and 
will not fetch as much as now." 

I placed the money in his hand. 
He in surprise said, 

" What is the matter with your ox?" 

" Nothing. He is as well as any ox 
in the world." 

" Then what makes you mis-mate 
them ? " 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 135 

" Neither you nor any other man can 
persuade me to start to New York with 
an ox whose toes turn out and whose 
knees bend in." 

" That makes no difference," said he 
in true sympathy, " Now don't be so 
foolish as to throw away your $10." 

" It makes a difference with oxen 
that work for me, and I am satisfied." 
He took the ox and went his way. 

Thompson delivered the hops accord- 
ing to agreement, and about 3 o'clock 
William Blanchard, Esq., came and 
asked me, 

" Can you start a load of hops for 
New York to-morrow morning for me T' 

" Wait ten minutes and I will tell 
you what I can do." I stepped into 
the house and said to Mr. Harnden, 

" Will you sell me those oxen I sold 
you the other day ? " 

" Yes, you may have them for the 
same I gave you." 

" Will you let me your wagon to go 
New York ? " " Yes," said he. 



136 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

I then told the 'Squire I would take 
his hops, if he would sell me his black 
and yellow oxen and advance $100 on 
the job, for I never liked to start on a 
journey without money enough to meet 
exigencies. 

" What do you call the oxen worth 1 ?" 

" $75," was the answer. 

' ' You shall have them ; but you could 
not have them one cent less." 

It was dark when the hops were 
finished loading. I then rode down to 
Stephen Buxton's in Reading, knowing 
his cattle like a book. I found him in 
bed, but rapped at his window and said, 
" Mr. Buxton, I want you to get up, go 
to your barn and sell me your twin 
oxen." 

" I will not get up to sell them to 
any man that ever was made ; but you 
may take the lantern and go and take 
them for $75." 

I went and yoked them, carried in 
the lantern and said, " I will take them 
if you'll throw in the yoke \ " 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 137 

" I will not throw in one cent. You 
may take it for your journey." 

" I will," said I, " on these condi- 
tions, that you come after it when you 
want it. The yoke was never called 
for. 

" You needn't unyoke them," said 
Buxton ; " being twins they like to lay 
in the yoke as well as any other way." 
They were not unyoked till they came 
back from their journey. 

I would not have it understood that 
I recommend leaving cattle over night 
in the yoke. There is not freedom 
enough enjoyed in that way. 

These twins were great jumpers, and 
the man who raised them kept them 
in yoke all summer on that account. 
I reached home with them about one 
o'clock. Charged the man who fed 
the teams to wake me in two hours. 
And before the sun was in sight my 
three teams were all moving on the 
road toward New York. The journey 
was prosperous, and every ox came 



138 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

back as ready to work as when they 
started. But the ox I put to Jones' had 
been several days unable to work from 
lameness. " I never had so bad a 
trade," said he. 

At another time, on our homeward 
journey, I was taken sick, and with 
great difficulty reached the tavern at 
which I intended to rest for the night. 
This general distress was caused by 
exposure to humid atmosphere the day 
before, getting chilled and then laying 
exposed to the cold. This last misfor- 
tune should be carefully avoided after 
unusual exposure. 

This was Saturday night. On Mon- 
day, finding myself unable to proceed, 
I hired a hand to drive, and was left 
alone with my host and hostess. The 
former, after some little conversation, 
proved to be an old school-teacher who 
had just married one of his pupils and 
was commencing tavern-keeping at Far- 
mington. They urged me, but urged 
in vain, to have a physician called ; 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 139 

they administered to the best of their 
skill, by sweating and herb tea, and 
after four days I was able to take the 
stage and overtook the teams at Stur- 
bridge after one day's ride, grateful for 
returning health. 

In April, 1814, I made a contract 
with Amos Binney, navy agent, to draw 
a load of grape shot from Charlestown 
to Commodore McDonald, in Vergennes, 
Vt. I brought the load to Wilmington 
with four oxen and a horse. It weigh- 
ed 6,700 Ibs., at 3 cents per Ib. 

Hearing that oxen were much want- 
ed at Vergennes, I bought two other 
yoke. So I started with four yoke of 
oxen and a horse. They walked up 
the hills and through the mud smart 
and easy. Thinking that I might have 
some weak bridges to pass, I took with 
me a chain fifteen feet long to hitch on 
to the end of the wagon-tongue to save 
my team should the load break through. 
My route lay through Tewksbury, Low- 
ell, North Chehnsford, Tyngsborough 



140 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

Dunstable, Nashua, South Merrimac, 
Amherst, Mt. Vernon, corner of Lynd- 
borough, New Boston, Francistown, 
Deering, Antrim, Hillsborough, Wash- 
ington, Lempster, Unity, Claremont, 
Weathersfield, Cavendish, Mt. Holly, 
Ludlow, Trenton, Middlebury, &c., to 
Vergennes. I crossed the beautiful 
Connecticut River between Claremont 
and Weathersfield, where so straight 
was its course you might discern the 
bridge five miles distant, the river not 
varying its width. 

On May 4th, I arrived at Vergennes, 
having undressed but twice on the jour- 
ney. The shot were counted, found 
" all right," and I received my pay. 

I sold my oxen, horse and harness, 
yokes and chains. The fifteen feet of 
chain sold for $5, double what it cost 
new. These things were wanted by 
the farmers, who had sold theirs to the 
government. The two yoke last pur- 
chased, brought $25 per yoke more 
than cost. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 141 

I started on the homeward tack the 
same night, with a market-man, and 
proceeded fourteen miles, and then, on 
foot and with occasional rides, I worm- 
ed my way home, a distance of one 
hundred and seventy-five miles. 

In Francistown, as the company were 
seating themselves at the breakfast ta- 
ble, there seemed a lack of room for 
me, my appearance being rather dirty 
and repulsive. The inn-keeper seeing 
this, said, " Gen. Chandler, here, move 
about and let this man have a seat." 

When loading into the stage, it was 
called out, before I could squeeze in, 
" No room for you, no room for you." 
" Make room for him," said the inn- 
keeper, " or I'll get in and make room 
for him ; his money is as good as yours." 
Room was made, and I took my seat 
by old Gen. Chandler. He inquired, I 
thought, too minutely into my business 
and whereabouts, and said, " Wasn't 
you afraid to carry so much money?" 
" No, not so much afraid of that as of 



142 LIFE OP ASA G, SHELDON : 

not being allowed to sit down at the 
table." A general smile pervaded all 
faces, and from that time we were chat- 
ting companions, he expressing regret 
that I was not going on to Boston. 

There was a company drilling at 
Vergennes, among them was Joseph 
Southwick, of Danvers. He came to 
me as soon as allowed, and he was the 
only person there that I remembered 
seeing before. We were glad to meet. 
It is supposed he was soon after killed 
in an engagement that took place on 
the Lake, as he was not heard from 
afterwards. He was son of George 
Southwick, one of the eight martyrs 
that fell in our Revolutionary struggle 
at Lexington, on the 19th of April, 
and whose name is carved on the mar- 
ble monument there. Joseph was born 
a few days after the death of his father. 

I followed teaming hops, which then 
were extensively raised in this town, 
while the war continued, with com- 
mendable despatch. The whole ar- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 143 

rangement was made with so much 
system, and the resting-places all de- 
signated with so much precision, that 
in three journeys there was not a vari- 
iation of twelve hours. At one time, 
before setting out, I stated the hour we 
would be back. It was not ten minutes 
from the time set when we greeted the 
home band. 

On starting out, old farmers said, 
our oxen would wear out before per- 
forming one journey, but they were so 
well cared for, night and day, that 
every pair came back every time better 
than they started, excepting one pair 
that went but once, because like Pha- 
raoh's lean kine, the more they ate the 
poorer they looked. 



144 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 



NINTH LINK. 



War ended, and I still continuing to 
take hops to New York, but by an eas- 
ier mode of transportation. The hops 
were put on board a sloop at Boston, 
and I took stage passage to dispose of 
them there. Several times I took hops 
to Philadelphia, and also to Baltimore. 

One time on my stage journey from 
New York to Philadelphia, as the host- 
ler was changing horses, I walked on 
ahead, and met a man that deserves 
notice, sure. He had driven an ox- 
team, loaded with tea, from Boston to 
Philadelphia. While reaching the lat- 
ter place, peace was declared between 
the belligerent powers, and his load 
was not worth as much as when he 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 145 

started. Soon he received orders to 
take the load back. I inquired how 
far he travelled in a day. He said, 

" I don't know, but I can tell you so 
that you can give a pretty near guess. 
I have put up my oxen at that tavern 
yonder, for two nights and have not got 
there yet." 

He was in a fair way to get there that 
day, and from what he told, I judged 
he advanced about two miles per day. 
This was called Jersey swamp, and 
some idea can be gained from it of 
Southern mud. The man seemed con- 
tented and his team looked well. 

We now come to that important 
period in the history of an individual, 
on which hangs so much of future weal 
or woe. My marriage with CLARISSA 
EAMES, daughter of Nathan and Su- 
sanna Eames, was consummated Oct. 
4, 1815. I was then 27 years old, and 
she 17. Commenced housekeeping in 
what is termed the Ford house ; now 
occupied by Edwin Blanchard. 



. 146 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

Nothing note- worthy passed this win- 
ter. On March 20th, David Hart, a 
hired hand, with myself, drove two 
loads of trashy wood into Boston, and 
sold it for $10 per cord. It was the 
highest I ever sold of any kind, being 
principally swamp alders and blueberry 
bushes, not many sticks exceeding a 
man's wrist in size. 

Stoves, now so common, had just 
come into use, and the prevailing opin- 
ion was, that nothing but small, dry 
wood could be burnt in them. 

This same Spring, a farm owned by 
George Flint, Esq., of North Reading, 
was rented, and we moved on to it 
April 1st. Rent $100. 

In the year 1816, that year so re- 
markable for its cold spring, in which 
spots were seen on the sun, the corn 
crop was nearly destroyed throughout 
New England by frost. This produced 
a scarcity of pigs, as few farmers kept 
a hog over winter. That year, pigs 
were killed that could not be allowed 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 147 

to live and were not fit to die. In de- 
monstration of this assertion, let me 
state a fact : one man actually brought 
a large pig to David Hart and exchang- 
ed it for a small one, about half the 
size of his, and gave 50 cents boot mon- 
ey, because the little one would eat less 
during the whiter. 

The first of August, there was a 
great cry for pigs. I said to neighbor 
Batchelder, " We must go and get a 
drove of pigs." 

" Where shall we go ? " said he. 

I said, " Steer South-west and go till 
we get where corn ripened, there we 
shall find pigs." 

We started with $500 in our pockets. 
On the third day, at night, friend Batch- 
elder became discouraged, saying, we 
could find no pigs, as every one we in- 
quired of wished to buy rather than 
sell. Said he, " We will call for fried 
pork for supper to-night, and so find 
out whether hogs are kept in this vicin- 
ity." But we were saved from that 



148 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

trouble by the Innkeeper inviting us to 
go see his hog before going into the 
house. It was a grand one, a pattern 
for 600 weight. 

We kept on till near York State line, 
where we made a stand. Mr. Batchel- 
der, a plain, honest farmer, not a trad- 
ing man, changed work with a farmer 
there, preferring to work on his farm 
while he rode about buying up pigs. 

At a store I bought fifteen of a far- 
mer at 5 cents per lb., and called on 
the store-keeper to witness the bargain. 
Soon after I left, our farmer agent came 
up, and bought the same pigs at 6i cts. 
per lb. Mr. Batchelder, hearing that 
two bargains had been made, feared 
hard thoughts. " Keep still," said I, 
" only take the carriage and bring the 
storekeeper down by the time the man 
gets here with his pigs, and there will 
be no trouble." He did, and the store- 
keeper took down the weights as told 
off, and made out a receipt, which I 
handed to the farmer to sign on receipt 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 149 

of his money at five cents per pound. 

The agent observed, " I bought those 
pigs at 6j cents." 

" Well," said I, " these are the pigs 
I bought for 5 cents ; if you have 
bought any of him for 6J cents, let 
him bring them on and I will pay for 
them." Here the matter ended with- 
out a dissenting word. This may show 
the impropriety of trusting strangers to 
trade for you, without looking sharply 
after them. 

Another note-worthy circumstance. 
Old men told us that it made no differ- 
ence whether a pig had his belly full 
or not, when weighed. Wishing to 
test the matter, I bargained with a 
widow, who lived in a retired nook, 
for a sow and two pigs, promising to 
come for them at noon the next day, 
I told her not to give them any din- 
ner, and she was to give in all the swill 
they wanted for a meal. At the ap- 
pointed time I went and weighed the 
pigs, and found their weight to be 70 



150 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

Ibs. each. I then gave them as much 
swill as they could eat, and again weigh- 
ed them. This time they weighed 79 
Ibs. each. Next I weighed the sow, 
and then the swill-pail. After she had 
eaten her fill, she weighed 16 Ibs. more, 
and the pail 16 Ibs. less. This showed 
conclusively that feed weighs the same 
after eaten as before. 

I sold that same sow in Sudbury on 
the banks of Concord river, to a tavern- 
keeper for 12 cents per lb., showing 
that in an old hog the difference be- 
tween an empty and a full belly, at this 
price, is $2. 

At Brighton, we were obliged to take 
special care to prepare the pens to hold 
pigs, this being the first drove ever dri- 
ven there from New York State, al- 
though Smith & Reed, from Abington, 
came in soon after, with a drove. 

In Brighton we retailed a hundred to 
our satisfaction. On our way toward 
Maiden, Mr. Batchelder, a fun-loving 
man, observed a very homely, hump- 



WILMINGTON FABMEB. 151 

backed pig, and wondered " what fool 
would buy it." When he had made 
what sport he would of the pig, I 
said, 

" If you will say nothing, I will sell 
that pig, when we get into Maiden, 
higher than any other one, and tell only 
the truth and not all of that." 

We drove to the town pound, shut 
in the pigs and offered them for sale. 
To buyers we said, 

" Take your choice for 12 cts. per 
pound of all but one. I have one pig 
here I ask a shilling per pound for, of 
a particular breed." 

"Which is he?" 

The exclamation would be, " That 
will make a 600 hog. What breed is 
it?" 

The answer was, " I don't know the 
name of the breed, but it is a very pa? 
ticular breed." 

One man said, " I'll give 14 cts. per 
pound." 

" I cannot take it." 



152 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

He then said,. " I'll give fifteeen 
cents." 

This was taken, and he drove off the 
pig. I never heard of him afterward ; 
hope he made a fine hog. 

Young men think of this when you 
hear particular breeds of cattle highly 
recommended. Be cautious about ex- 
pending large sums, until experience 
proves their worth. 

Once since then, I had a pig that 
much resembled the above named. I 
could not get rid of her so easily. Of- 
fering her to a man for $4 he cried 
out, " I won't have her in my hog-sty 
at any rate. If you would put her in 
my sty for nothing, I would not have 
her." 

That pig was as profitable, if not 
more so, as any that I ever owned. 
She brought a litter of 9 pigs. I sold 
the whole for $55. The owners sold 
them when fattened at 12 cts. per lb., 
amounting to $375. 

For five or six years I was called 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 153 

upon, perhaps once a year on an av- 
erage, by Master Parker and David to 
settle their animosities. After my de- 
parture the same evil spirit reigned in 
the old man, and Dave partaking of a 
share of it, and living in the same 
house, and working together, the spells 
would come when they could not speak 
to each other, After a while they 
would grow tired of it, and one would 
come up to me, tell the story of his 
wrongs, and entreat me to come down 
and bring about a treaty. In a very 
few days the other would come on the 
same errand, as I always expected, and 
then knowing both parties were ready 
and anxious for a settlement, I would go, 
carefully hiding from each, that the oth- 
er had been to see me. Of course each 
considered himself the sole cause of 
my being there, and I presume they 
never learned to the contrary. When 
I arrived, I always had a talk with each 
one separately. There never was but 
one article in the treaty ; it was always 



154 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

the same. Mr. Parker would say, " As 
David is my son it is his place to speak 
first, and he must come in to my room 
to do it." Dave was always ready to 
do it, when informed of his father's de- 
sire. I would then walk into the room 
with him and introduce them in this 
way, " Mr. Parker, your son has come 
to see you." " Good evening, father," 
Dave would say. The old man would 
jump up as spry as a boy, and shake 
hands most heartily with his son ; and 
certainly they were, for the time being, 
as happy as their capacities would admit. 
It always affords me pleasure to be 
the instrument of benefiting those who 
are so unfortunate as to possess such 
unhappy dispositions. If any person 
who reads this, finds himself possessed 
of a disposition leading to such unhap- 
py results, I would entreat him to set 
about an amendment in his own soul. 
As much headway can be gained in 
laboring to improve the mind as in 
rooting briars out of the land. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 155 

On my last journey to New York, 
when about to leave, I went into a Bro- 
ker's office to get $5000 exchanged. 
Noticed a man standing outside the 
counter, who appeared to have no busi- 
ness, but at the time, I supposed he 
had finished his business and was on 
some account waiting. He appeared 
to listen to all that was said, and heard 
the money told out. 

" When do you leave for Boston?" 
said the broker. 

" In the morning stage," said I. 

" Who are your acquaintances in this 
city ? " said he. 

" Stebbins & Couch," was the an- 
swer. 

" You could not be acquainted with 
better men," said he. " And if I leave 
word with them that I wish you to call 
here this afternoon, will you \ " 

" Yes," was the answer. 

In the course of the afternoon Mr. 
Couch said to me, " The broker who 
changed your money for you has been 



156 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

here to inquire your character ; and 
wants you to take $5000 to Oliver C. 
Wyman, State street, Boston. I told 
him he must pay your stage-fare to 
Boston, and he will do it." As I was 
about to leave, Mr. Couch added, " Do 
not be at that stage office after sunset, 
on any account." 

When I had reached the door, he 
said again, 

" Don't you be at that stage office at 
sunset, let the excuse be what it will, 
now mind what I say." 

From there I went to the broker's, 
took his $5000 and put it in my trunk 
with my $5000. He then gave me the 
money to pay the fare, which I took in 
my hand, and walked directly to the 
stage office, with trunk under my arm. 
It was situated in rear of -a block of 
buildings with an arch leading to it. 
On entering I saw the very man who 
I had before seen at the broker's office. 
He was the man who it seems did busi- 
ness there, for he was behind the coun- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 157 

ter apparently engaged in writing. I 
stepped near and said, 

" Here is the money for my fare to 
Boston, and I would like to have the 
stage call for me at the sign of the Roe- 
buck to-morrow. Please write ' A. G. 
Sheldon.' " 

" Wait one minute till I finish this 
letter, and I will wait upon you." 

It was not quite sunset, so I seated 
myself near the door. I think I had not 
been seated a minute before a woman 
came in. She stepped up, paid her 
fare to Hartford, and had her name en- 
tered on the book to go in the same 
stage with me. I could see no reason 
why my name could not be written as 
well as hers ; that increased my fears. 
I went directly up and laying down 
my pay beside hers, not stopping to 
have my name written, passed out after 
the woman. As I laid down the money 
he observed, 

" Only wait a half minute and I'll 
wait on you." I had told him my name. 



158 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

" I'll wait no longer," said I, and 
started for my boarding-house. Pass- 
ing by the Mall, I heard footsteps com- 
ing fast behind and soon the same man 
clapped his hand on my shoulder, 
saying, 

" You made a great mistake when 
you paid your fare ; if you will come 
back I will rectify it." 

" I can't go back," said I. 

" You had better go back, for you 
have made a great mistake, and I don't 
want your money for nothing." 

This increased my fears. I brought 
my hand to my bosom suddenly, saying 
with vehemence, 

" Take your hand from my shoulder 
or you are a dead man in one minute." 
He then loosened his hold and turned 
back. 

The next morning I took the stage 
as expected, right glad to escape a rob- 
bery. Indeed, the whole reason the 
broker wished to send $5000 to Boston 
by me, was for fear of robbery, as sev- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 159 

eral had been perpetrated about that 
time, on the mail. My journey was 
anything but pleasant. The stage run 
night and day. I was sleepy but dared 
to sleep but little, not knowing whether 
I was with friends or foes. My fear 
was that he would describe me to some 
other rogue, and set him out in the 
stage after me. I kept the trunk in 
my hand when riding, and my foot on 
it while eating. Such not being the 
case, I reached Boston safely and paid 
off the money. 

In the course of the winter an event 
occurred that will never be forgotten 
while memory retains her office. So 
narrow was the escape from a sudden 
death, or being wholly smashed up, 
that when I look back upon it I am 
filled with astonishment. 

I set out with a team of 4 steers and 
a horse, and a load of 15 feet of white 
pine wood, loaded 3 lengths on a sled, 
one afternoon, to Reading market. 
Just after entering the turnpike, south 



160 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

of Jerry Nichols' tavern, I stepped on 
to the roller front of the sled ; that in- 
stant the hind steers beginning to trot, 
I put one foot out on to the spire to 
start the forward cattle, at the same 
time keeping hold of a stick in the load 
with my left hand. The stick being 
short gave way, pulled out and I fell 
my length on the spire, rolling off the 
nigh side. My first thought was to 
brace my feet against the wood to keep 
from going under the sled. So here I 
lay and slid upon my back, so near the 
ox that every time his foot went back 
it touched my head. A large body of 
snow was upon the ground, with deep 
foot-paths for the cattle, and hard, high 
ridges on either side. Imagine my 
feelings in this perilous situation, with 
the team upon the run and but one 
small chance of escape left me. I 
knew there was a foot-path just ahead 
where Munroe, a neighbor, crossed the 
turnpike for water. So bearing as 
much as possible toward the right 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 161 

shoulder, when it struck the path I 
sprang for dear life, and cleared the 
sled-road. I stopped the team and 
went back for my whip, measured the 
distance and found it eleven rods. 

" Bless the Lord, O my soul, and 
forget not all his benefits." 



162 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 



TENTH LINK. 



My residence on the Flint farm em- 
braced 13 years, during which I carried 
on butchering to considerable extent, 
trusting out meat largely, and in the 
course of that time I bought and paid 
for 515 acres young wood-land. 

Still owing some large debts, and 
hard times coming on, creditors pressed 
their claims. I could not collect my 
debts fast enough to satisfy their de- 
mands, and a failure unavoidably en- 
sued. My real estate was resigned into 
the hands of fourteen of my largest 
creditors, and the property appraised 
off at a very low rate, but sufficient to 
cancel all debts excepting $34. Had 
this $34 been paid, it would have clear- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 163 

ed me from these debts, but I had no 
heart to ask any one to lend it to me. 
Afterward, when through the disinter- 
ested kindness of friends I had regain- 
ed a footing and was able to do busi- 
ness again, I paid over $600 to those 
same creditors. When I placed those 
515 acres of beautiful young wood-land 
in the hands of these fourteen men, I 
expected they would manage so as to 
make themselves whole and save some- 
thing for me. But such was not the 
case. They selected five of their num- 
ber to manage the business. My feel- 
ings can be better imagined than de- 
scribed on finding that their whole ami 
was to have it sell as low as possible 
and buy it themselves. 

An aged and venerable minister of 
the gospel being present at the auction, 
and seeing their management, said to 
me, " Sheldon, be perfectly honest 
yourself, but believe every man a devil." 

A few incidents will show how the 
matter brought about, to me, unfortu- 



164 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

nate results. When a lot of nice young 
wood, of nine acres, was set up, it was 
struck off for $15. I persuaded the 
buyer to give me the refusal of it for a 
short time for $60. Before the time 
expired, I found a man that would ad- 
vance me the money. In about three 
years, I had the wood cut off and sold 
it for $100, and then sold the bottom. 

Another lot sold for $2.10 per- acre, 
that has been worth since then $100 
per acre. 

One of the largest purchasers, not a 
creditor, told me that on the $500 
worth, bought at that auction, he clear- 
ed $1000 ; and two of the creditors 
have since told me that on what they 
bought they cleared over $1000. 

One lot lying by itself sold for $30. 
This sale was in 1830, and I have been 
credibly informed that the wood on this 
same lot, in the year 1860, sold for 
$900. 

I would here insert an observation 
made by Edmund Parker, Esq., well 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 165 

known as a man of integrity and can- 
dor, who assisted the creditors in their 
business, and who was their counselor. 
Said he, " If your creditors would let 
you alone three years, you could pay 
every debt and still have the founda- 
tion of as great wealth as any man in 
North Eeading." 

I should be untrue to myself did I 
not mention the names of three gen- 
tlemen to whose disinterested sympathy 
and assistance, I owe more than to all 
others. " A friend in need, is a friend 
indeed." Well have I seen this prov- 
erb verified in the troublous times that 
I have been called upon to pass through. 
These men were David M. Russell, 
then of Plymouth, N. H., now of Ala- 
bama ; Ebenezer Emerson, of Reading ; 
and Samuel W. Carter, of Reading. 
Nathaniel Parker, of Reading, would 
gladly have rendered assistance, but 
had not the means. 

I fully believe in the common asser- 
tion that many, very many, men fail to 



166 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

make money by cheating their honest 
creditors ; but I do know that an hon- 
est man would give but little for his 
choice, either to die or ask his credi- 
tors to take less than one hundred cents 
on the dollar. 

Let me caution young men to look 
closely after their affairs, and always 
know how they stand, and be sure not 
to get so deeply in debt that if hard 
times come unexpectedly you may be 
able to handle your property and not 
trust it to the management of others. 

My first introduction to the Baldwin 
family was by this circumstance. Go- 
ing up to Milford, N. H., on business, 
I stopped for breakfast in Tyngsboro'. 
While eating, a stranger walked in and 
informed me that counterfeit $5 bills 
on Salem Bank were plentifully circu- 
lated in Andover. The news startled 
me, as I had $50 of that money with 
me and no other. I then offered the 
landlord one of the bills to pay for my 
breakfast. He refused, upon which I 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 167 

pawned my pocket book and departed. 

I stopped next at Farewell Tavern, 
South Merrimack, and stated what had 
met my ears that day, when a tall, el- 
derly gentleman asked my name, where 
I was from, and if I knew any one in 
Woburn. I replied, " I know Col. 
Franklin Baldwin." 

" He is a brother of mine," he re- 
plied. 

" Give this man some dinner, and I 
will pay for it," said he, to the Inn- 
keeper, and turning to me continued, 
" I will exchange one of your bills, 
which no doubt are good, and give you 
money that is indisputable, and wish 
you to call and see me on your return." 

The gentleman was no other than 
Cyrus Baldwin, of Chelmsford. Rest 
assured this was a great relief to me, 
being, as I was, among strangers, with 
no money but what had been condemn- 
ed as counterfeit. Ever since this time, 
the name of Baldwin has sounded plea- 
santly in my ear. 



168 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

My next interview with the family 
was by an appointment to meet James 
F. Baldwin, brother of Cyrus, in a 
wood-lot of his. I bought the stand- 
ing wood and timber, and one day go- 
ing into the lot, met Mr. Baldwin, who 
said to me, 

" What are you going after now, 
Sheldon?" 

I answered, " After the largest stick 
of timber in the lot." 

" Do you expect to load it alone ? " 

" Yes, I do with the help of these 
oxen." 

" How long do you expect it will 
take to load it ? " 

" If I have good luck, I expect to 
load it in an hour." 

" If I thought you could load it in 
an hour, I would go back and see you 
do it." 

" I think there is no doubt but what 
I shall." 

He went back and sat down on a 
stump, took out his watch and said that 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 169 

it was twenty minutes from the time the 
oxen stopped when I started them again 
with the load all properly bound, ready 
for market. 

He then said he was Engineer on the 
Boston & Lowell Railroad, and wished 
me to come to Boston and take a job. 

" I have not means to carry on a 
job," said I. 

" James Jaques said he would like to 
take a job with you," said he, and if 
you will come and take one, and man- 
age as well as you did loading this tim- 
ber, if you do not make day wages, I 
will consider you, for I have power to 
consider contractors, if the work turns 
out more difficult than was expected." 

The job of grading more than one 
and one-half miles of railroad, together 
with the stone-work, was agreed upon, 
in company with Jaques. While with 
him the work dragged heavily ; but 
subsequently he was exchanged for 
Isaac Flint of North Reading, and then 
the work went on satisfactorily. The 



170 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

job was taken of Jackson, Railroad 
Agent. 

The next year Mr. Jackson said to 
me, 

" Sheldon I shall not let you any job 
on the railroad this year, because I 
want you to work by the day where- 
ever and whenever you are wanted." 

That season I worked forty oxen and 
fifty men for him by the day, nearly 
all the time ; on an average more. 

The third year I was employed by 
the same men in stone-work and laying 
rails. On a certain occasion Jackson 
came along inspecting the work. One 
stone standing out prominently, he took 
occasion to find fault in sharp tones. I 
told him to wait fifteen minutes and I 
would show him the utility of its loca- 
tion. He waited, and then expressed 
himself with much satisfaction saying, 

" Sheldon, I will give you my word 
that you shall never pay anything for 
riding on this road, as long as your 
stone-work holds good." 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 171 

This declaration was as good as a 
bond to me, till the year 1861, long 
after Jackson's death. 

I have hopes by an interview with 
the officers and agents on the road, to 
procure a life-long ticket, for I have 
no doubt if they knew the conditions 
on which the promise was made they 
would freely award me the privilege of 
riding free. 

In the spring of 1835, I received a 
letter from Jackson, desiring me to 
come to Boston, stating that he had a 
week's work for me to do. When there, 
he informed me that he wished me to 
ascertain what it would cost to move 
Pemberton Hill into salt water, north 
side of Causeway street. 

After probing the hill in several 
places and walking over the ground as 
fast as an ox team would walk, to as- 
certain how many times they could go 
in a day, the result of my investigations 
was that it could be done for 25 cents 
per yard, 



172 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

He then told me he was agent for a 
company and expected to buy the Hill, 
but the bargain was not concluded upon, 
but it would be in a few days ; and 
further, said he, 

" I shall want you to do it by the 
day, for I don't expect to get any body 
to do it by the job quick enough, for it 
must be done in six months. If you 
should do the work, would you do it 
with oxen or with horses ? " 

" I shall do it with oxen." 

" Give me your reasons why you 
should do it with oxen 1 " 

" The job is short, and when done 
the oxen can be driven to,Brighton and 
sold at a fair price, while horses would 
eat out half their bodies before we 
could make sale of them. And anoth- 
er reason, it does not cost so much to 
harness twelve oxen as it does one 
horse." 

" Your reasons are good," said he. 

I was in Boston four days. He paid 
me for a week's work and I came home. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 173 

Another letter was soon received re- 
questing my presence in Boston. I 
repaired thither when he informed me 
that another man had offered to take 
the whole concern by the job, and 
said, 

" It is against our rules to have any 
work done by the day that we can let 
out by the job. Can't you take it by 
the job?" 

" No," said I. 

"Why not ?" said he. 

I answered, " Because I have al- 
ready shown you that it will take $7000 
to start the job, and $3000 more, mak- 
ing $10,000 before you will be willing 
to pay one cent, as you make payments 
monthly. And I have not got the 
money." 

"Perhaps you will find some one 
who has the money to join you I " 

I told him I should not try, and we 
parted. 

Coming home I met Charles Carter, 
Esq., in Woburn. He said, 



174 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

" Are you going to do that job in 
Boston?" 

" No," said I. 

"Why not ?" 

" Because it is going to be let by the 
yard, and I have not the means to do it." 

" How much money will it take 1 " 
said he. 

"$7000 to start it, and $3000 more 
before we get the first payment." 

" I can raise the money," said he, 
" if we can get a good job." 

We looked at the work jointly and 
agreed to take it at 28 cents per yard. 
He furnished $1200, and I expended it 
all in oxen. 

I started for Boston with the teams 
and met Carter a few rods beyond his 
house. He said, " I want the whole 
job to myself, and I will hire you to 
take care of the teams." 

At that time I owed him four notes 
of $100 each, which he agreed to give 
me, if I would let him have the whole 
job, and work for him for $2.50 per 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 175 

day and he board me. I then said to 
him, " I will go back with you and 
take the notes." 

" I can't give them to you to-night, 
for they are in the Bank, but you shall 
have them within forty-eight hours." 

I then commenced work on the hill, 
it being May 5th, 1835. On the third 
day, Jackson came and said that the 
contract must be signed at 12 o'clock 
that day or the work stop. 

Carter made for the office and I kept 
him company. Jackson read the con- 
tract and said, " Is that right, Carter V 
He replied, " I think it is." 

" Then there is nothing to do but to 
sign it." 

" I don't think it worth while," said 
Carter. 

" What does this mean, Sheldon," 
said Jackson, " didn't you tell me that 
that earth could be moved for 25 cents, 
and didn't I agree to give you 28 cents, 
and now you say you can't do it." 

" I have said no such thing," said I. 



176 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

" Then what do you say 1 " 

" It can be moved full as easy as I 
ever expected," said I. 

" I told you the teams could draw 
twelve loads per day, I now find they 
can draw fourteen loads per day." 

Carter then wished to see me alone. 
He asked me if I was willing to give 
up the last bargain and we do the work 
in company. I told him, " No." 

Jackson soon came and told me to 
tell Carter, that if he would let me 
work the teams and men that after- 
noon, he would pay for the work. 

Mr. Jackson and Baldwin were both 
on the work the whole afternoon, and 
at night Jackson said to me, " I am 
satisfied you can do all you have told 
me and more too. You may buy of 
Carter every ox that you want, and 
every thing he has that you want, and 
tell him he shall have his money next 
Tuesday. If you had the money, would 
you do the job I " 

" Yes," said I. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 177 

" You shall have it. Notify the men 
that you shall want them all Monday 
morning." 

By an early start I was at Jackson's 
house before sunrise on Monday morn- 
ing. " Do you want me to step into 
Carter's shoes," said he, " and find 
money and you do the work and have 
half the profits ? " 

" Yes ; but one thing more, if there 
is a loss in it I will lose only my time." 

To this he finally agreed, saying, 
" You always make me do just as you 
please. Now, as soon as you get men 
and teams to work, come to my office." 

When at the office, " Now," said he, 
" I have a short lesson to give you : 
remember, this work is to be done on 
your judgment, not on mine. If I 
think you are doing wrong and tell you 
so, don't you alter unless I convince you 
of the wrong. Don't say, you should 
not have done this or that if I had not 
told you so. Some people think be- 
cause they find funds to do a job they 



178 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON 

must dictate, when they know nothing 
about it, and thus spoil the work. Re- 
member, this job must be done in six 
months. How much money do you 
want to-day to buy oxen with at Brigh- 
ton." 

He then gave me a check for $1000. 
I started a man to North Andover, to 
Ingalls' the yoke maker, to bring yokes 
and bows enough for thirty yoke of 
oxen. I then proceeded to Brighton 
and bought ten yoke of cattle that day. 
Ingalls was at my place in Boston be- 
fore sunrise the next morning, with 
more yokes than I sent for, but no more 
than was wanted. 

We now had about half as many 
oxen as needed, but as many as we had 
carts for then. As carts could not be 
made as fast as wanted, I procured two 
men of sound judgment, Abner Mar- 
ion, of Burlington, and Eben Emer- 
son, of Reading, and sent them about 
in the neighboring towns to buy good 
second-hand carts and wagons. They 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 179 

succeeded well, making no bad bar- 
gains, both being careful men. 

I then issued the following advertise- 
ment : 

" WANTED TWENTY YOKE 
OF THE BEST WORKING OXEN, AT 
PEMBERTON HILL, BOSTON, FOR 
WHICH A FAIR PRICE WILL BE 
PAID IN CASH. NONE BUT THOSE 
THAT CAN TRAVEL ON PAVEMENTS 
NEED BE OFFERED." 

This was the season of the year when 
farmers in the vicinity of Boston were 
finishing up their heavy spring work ; 
consequently I had as many oxen offer- 
ed as wanted, having no occasion to go 
out to buy. 

I boarded my first week at Glasier's 
Tavern; paid my bill every morning 
and inquired if I could board there 
another day. I wore my teamster's 
blue and white striped frock, and in 
this disguise could hear at table many 
curious observations on the moving of 
Pemberton Hill with oxen. 

One stated, " These oxen will have 



180 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON: 

their tongues out as long as your arm, 
and in three weeks he wont be able to 
get them through the streets." 

Another said, " I understand the man 
came from Wilmington, a sandy town, 
and I expect he don't know but that 
oxen can travel on pavements as well 
as in Wilmington sand." 

As the work was a novel job, many 
spectators were attracted to the scene 
of operations. They were of all grades, 
from the highest to the lowest, among 
them many country teamsters, whip in 
hand. To hear the observations, I one 
day ascended with the throng on the 
back side of the hill, in my usual dis- 
guise, and took my stand by the smart- 
est looking man in the foremost rank, 
which was then several courses deep, 
when he thus addressed me, 

"This is a tremendous piece of work." 

" It looks to me to be so," I answered. 

" I understand that the man who has 
taken this job, has agreed to do it in 
six months ; do you know if it is so I " 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 181 

" I understand he has," was my ans- 
wer. 

" Then he is a fool, let him be who 
he will. He can't do it in three years, 
if he employs all the men and teams he 
can work on it." 

In this connection it may not be un- 
interesting to give a description of Pem- 
berton Hill. The whole area, includ- 
ing Streets adjoining, was upwards of 
four acres, and it made in the water, 
eight acres, fourteen feet deep. Depth 
of hill, from the highest point, was six- 
ty-five feet and ten inches. This was 
the point where Gardner Green's green 
house stood. Six dwelling houses 
and other out-buildings, besides im- 
mense shrubbery, together with several 
English elms that were carried to the 
navy-yard, were sold from the ground. 
One gingo tree, an exotic, and I expect 
the only tree of the kind in this coun- 
try, I was offered $300 to move and 
warrant to live one year. I thought at 
that time, that it contained about tw o 



182 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

feet of cord wood, and it being in the 
month of June, I dared not undertake 
it. However it was moved, and now 
stands on the Common, near the State 
House and is thriving. 

These buildings had been the resi- 
dences of distinguished gentlemen 
Gardner Green, Dr. Lloyd and Gov. 
Phillips. There were two other beau- 
tiful brick buildings on Somerset street 
sold and torn down, whose owners I 
never knew. I will now note a few 
things by me deemed curiosities. 

The Dr. Lloyd house stood on the 
lowest ground of any, with a well thir- 
ty feet deep and not a drop of water in 
it. The Gardner Green well stood a 
few rods from it on a little higher 
ground. The top of the water in this 
well was thirty-five feet higher than 
the base of the ground at the cut near 
the well. When working very near the 
water gushed out and formed a brook 
that ran down to Hanover street. As 
we watered our cattle from it, the 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 183 

stream would stop running in the day 
but fill up and run again in the night. 
Opposite the head of Court street, about 
five feet from the surface we struck a 
a flat stone. On turning it a well thir- 
ty feet deep was discovered. On lis- 
tening, running water could be distinct- 
ly heard. We ascertained that it came 
in, fifteen feet from the top and run 
directly out at the bottom. Our grading 
was five feet below the flat stone. We 
filled up with clay, the water still run- 
ning, puddled it in so compactly that 
in one night the well was filled to over- 
flowing. The next day it was filled to 
the top, that kept the water down. 

This place is now called Pemberton 
Square. 

Near the centre of the green en- 
closed by the Square, after taking off 
about fifty-five feet of solid gravel, a 
heavy load of gravel passing, suddenly 
all four of the wheels dropped to the 
hub. The gravel was quickly shovelled 
out of the wagon, when on procuring 



1 84 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

an iron rod, the mud was found to be 
common marsh mud, fifteen feet deep, 
of an oval form and entirely covered 
with gravel. This must have been 
done by some convulsion in nature. 
At Jackson's suggestion we excavated 
the mud, six feet in depth and filled 
with gravel. 

When at the Phillips' place we found 
an iron door in the cellar, that led to 
an arch about twelve feet wide on the 
base, fifty feet long and nine feet high. 
I remember well measuring it, and 
found plenty of room for sixteen large 
oxen and space to feed them ; but fear- 
ing they would not do so well in this 
subterranean cell as in a barn, did not 
put it to that purpose. This arch was 
made of brick, sixteen inches in thick- 
ness, so firmly cemented that much 
labor was required to prepare it for 
loading into our carts. So true it is, 
one man builds and another demolishes. 
Of the original design of this subter- 
ranean arch, I leave my readers to 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 185 

judge for themselves, as I do for my- 
self. It occurs to my mind that rich 
men do not always comply with the 
letter of the law, especially when they 
have a convenient place in which to 
secrete smuggled goods. 

From the cellar of one of the brick 
houses an iron door opened into a sep- 
ulchre or tomb, from which, I think, 
fifteen coffins, large and small, were 
taken the night before we had leave to 
occupy it. This information was re- 
ceived from Mr. Hersey a man in city 
employ, who helped convey them to 
another tomb. On the outside, on the 
tomb were beautiful cultivated flowers. 
However others may think on the sub- 
ject, it is quite ungenial to the feelings 
of the writer to have dear, departed 
friends lying under a dwelling-house 
or so immediately connected with it. 
The most proper place to lay the dead 
for their last resting-place is in the 
common burning-ground. 

Some time previous, a crew of Span- 



186 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

ish pirates were captured and brought 
into port at Boston. They were sub- 
sequently tried, and Bernardo De Soto 
and four others were condemned and 
sentenced to suffer the penalty of the 
law due to their crimes, viz : to hang 
by their necks till they were dead. 

While in jail, awaiting their doom, 
one of the number, to speed on his 
release from earth, pierced his arm with 
a piece of glass, causing much blood to 
flow and such a state of debilitation 
that the poor deluded man was carried 
to the place of execution in a chair, and 
there sat to hear the service and have 
the halter placed round his neck, and 
dropped with the rest. Oh, sad, sad 
and mournful affair. Yet we would 
not wish to have capital punishment 
abolished, but rather carry out the Scrip- 
ture rule, "He that sheddeth man's 
blood, by man shall his blood be shed." 
No, the world is not good enough to do 
away with capital punishment yet. 

The pirates were hanged on a gal- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 187 

lows erected on my land by the United 
States Marshal. I had built three barns 
temporarily for the use of my oxen. 
There were fifty tied in one barn, twen- 
ty-five in a row. The teamsters were 
set to guard them, and two men were 
stationed on the top to keep spectators 
off, each with a pitchfork, and with 
directions, if they failed, to have the 
cattle turned out. Rowdies and ill- 
bred boys pressed so hard upon the 
men on top, and beginning to throw 
stones, that they shouted to the team- 
sters below to turn out the oxen. No 
sooner said than done, when one of the 
top men jumped off, crying, " Now 
you may all go to h 1 if you please." 
The roof was covered as fast as possi- 
ble, when, crash, down came the whole 
frame, breaking one man's arm. No 
teaming work could be done in Boston 
on such days as this, or on holidays. 

That night application was made to 
me for a team to carry the pirates' life- 
less bodies to the Catholic Burying- 



188 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

ground, Charlestown, and with them 
an Irishman killed on the railroad. I 
accordingly sent one man with a yoke 
of oxen, and six men for guard. The 
oxen, passive before, expressed fear as 
soon as the bodies were put in, and 
could be restrained from running only 
by two men going before them with 
clubs. Whether they were frightened 
by something natural or supernatural, 
is beyond my conjecture. Perhaps, like 
Balaam's ass, they saw that which hu- 
man eyes could not discover. 

The next day I made out a bill like 
this, "United States Marshal, Dr., 
To A. G. Sheldon: To damage done to 
barn, . . . $50 ; " and presented it to 
the Marshal. He looked at it and said, 
" I can pay no such bills." I then re- 
quested the use of a slip of paper, pen 
and ink, and then wrote, " United 
States Marshal, Dr., To A. G. Sheldon, 
To use of land to hang 5 pirates, and 
damages sustained thereby, . . . $75." 
This suited him, and he paid the money. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 189 



ELEVENTH LINK. 



We will now return to the work on 
the hill. In about ten days Dr. Lloyd's 
house was sold at auction. I bid it off, 
moved my chattels in that night, and 
next morning sixty Yankee men took 
breakfast in it. For shovelling, we 
employed Irishmen wholly, they board- 
ing themselves. 

When Dr. Shurtleff, our nearest 
neighbor, saw that the house was sold 
for what he called a shanty, he express- 
ed many fears lest he should be troubl- 
ed with noise. He said, " I could not 
have thought that of Patrick T. Jack- 
son, that he would allow the house to 
be sold for that purpose." 

Subsequently he inquired, " When 



190 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

are you going to get your men on, 
Sheldon ? " 

I said, " Have you been disturbed 
by their noise, Doctor ? " 

" No, I have not heard any noise." 

" The morning after I bought the 
house, sixty men ate breakfast there, 
and have boarded there ever since." 

" If that be the case," said he, "I'll 
borrow no more trouble about the 
noise." 

The doctor proved himself a kind 
friend and neighbor, coming in often 
with Jackson and Baldwin to dine on 
baked beans. He was extremely fond 
of brown bread and butter, which we 
had of an excellent quality ; and when 
any of the men were hurt or required 
medical aid, he tendered his services 
without remuneration. 

About the first of June our ranks 
were filled. The whole number of 
oxen being one hundred and twenty- 
six ; whole number of hands about two 
hundred and fifty when at the highest 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 191 

pitch, sixty Yankees and one hun- 
dred and ninety Irish. 

We soon found from experience that 
long and narrow wagons run the best. 
What may be called sloven bodies were 
used with a side-board so fixed that it 
could be quickly started with two iron 
bars, and the entire load slide off in 
about a minute, on an average. One 
man would drive two yoke of oxen 
with a wagon and two yards of gravel, 
while it took two men and two yoke of 
oxen to carry the same amount in carts. 
To satisfy the curious, we had one of 
the wagon load weighed on the hay 
scales, weight over seven tons. 

In my employ were forty teamsters. 
I began to realize how much the work 
depended on their holding on, when I 
found the country farmers would try to 
hire them for haying, with the promise 
of $1.50 per day. 

One man, who had charge of the 
barn and cattle feed, was used as a re- 
porter, and I do not think that the men 



192 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

ever mistrusted he held that office. 
One night he said, " The teamsters 
have all agreed to leave as soon as they 
get their pay for the month of June." 

I then began to try my brains to dis- 
cover what could be done. When pay- 
day came I called them all in together 
and said, 

" You know I hired you for the 
whole job. But it is dirty, unpleasant 
work compared with haying ; and I 
know wages are some higher than when 
I hired you. Now boys I shall give 
every one of you $26 for the month of 
July, which is $6 more than I agreed 
to pay, but for my own security shall 
keep back $5 of this month's wages 
until the job is completed." 

The next day the reporter told that 
they had all agreed to stay, to a man. 
They said, " The old man was so good 
without knowing they had agreed to go 
away, it would be too bad to leave 
him." 

I will here acknowledge this was the 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 193 

most trying circumstance in the whole 
job, and when it was settled my uneasi- 
ness subsided. 

Now another difficulty arose. The 
dust proved insufferable to those who 
lived on the streets through which we 
passed, and much annoyed the cattle 
and men. After some consultation with 
individuals, and with the Mayor, it 
was decided that I should pay $1.50 
per day toward sprinkling the streets 
and they would keep them wet, much 
for the comfort of the men and the cat- 
tle's feet. 

About this time Mr. Jackson said to 
me, 

" Sheldon, if you could have some- 
thing extra, could you do this work in 
five months instead of six." 

" Yes, I think I could." 

" Remember," said he, " you are 
trading for me and yourself, while I am 
trading for the company. How much 
extra shall I give you to do it in five 
months ? " 



194 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

" Let me think till morning and I 
will tell you." 

In the morning he said, " Have you 
made up your mind ? " 

" Yes, give me an extra $1000 and 
it shall be done in five months." 

" At noon I will give my answer," 
said he. 

At noon he told me he would comply 
with my terms and give $1000. 

" Now Sheldon," said he, " you may 
work as hard as you please, but don't 
kill yourself. This job has been the 
least trouble to me of any job of such 
magnitude I ever had any thing to do 
with." 

The commencement of this monster 
job was in May. The first shovel full 
of dirt was thrown out on the morning 
of May 5, between 7 and 8 o'clock ; 
and the last shovel full on Oct. 5, be- 
tween 7 and 8 o'clock in the morning. 
As the owners of this land feared hard 
times were coming they hurried it into 
market. Advertisements were season- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 195 

ably put out and the sale commenced 
at auction, Oct. 6. The ground was 
previously laid out in suitable house- 
lots, walks and streets ; each enclosed 
with narrow strips of board, with a 
strip of common land in the centre. 
The conditions of the sale were, that 
every house should be built according 
to the plan then laid out. Strange as 
it may seem to those unacquainted 
with city operations, the highest house- 
lots sold for $7 per foot. 

But I find my pen has run ahead, 
beyond the straight line of my story. 
I will now go back to say that as soon 
as sufficient new land could be made, a 
temporary blacksmith's shop was erect- 
ed, where we could do our ox-shoeing, 
mending chains, &c. Two blacksmiths 
were hired, Stephen Smith and John S. 
Perry. They proved excellent work- 
men, and I thought sometimes vied 
with each other in the shoeing business. 
By employing two smiths, and keeping 
shoes on hand an ox would be kept in 



196 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

the cage but a very few minutes, and 
of course save time. Neighboring 
farmers from Brighton, Brookline, 
Charlestown and Chelsea, finding my 
oxen traveled so well on pavements, 
would call at our shop when they came 
in with their teams to get them shod. 
We were able to do considerable of 
this kind of work. 

As I have heretofore spoken of the 
number of men employed, I cannot be 
so ungallant as not notice the fair sex. 
For housekeepers I employed constant- 
ly one young man, Henry O. Holly, and 
Caroline Foster of Wilmington, and 
Catherine Jones of New Hampshire, 
for cooks, besides one other girl as 
help ; several different girls being em- 
ployed at different times. 

Before purchasing the Dr. Lloyd 
house, the men took their meals at 
Victualing Cellars ; some at Sawyer's 
Cellar on Charlestown Square, and 
some at Campbell's on North Market 
street, and slept in the barns on the hay. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 197 

The personal property on the Hill 
at the commencement of the work was 
sold at different times, and sometimes 
they were so remiss in moving it as 
greatly to annoy us. 

Once when Jackson was about to 
make another sale he said, 

" Sheldon, you know we have been 
plagued with the owners not removing 
their property out of our way as soon 
as agreed upon. Now I have under- 
stood they have a right to let it remain, 
and all I can get is the damage, and it 
will cost more than it is worth to get 
that. Can you contrive any way to 
oblige them to take it away on the day 
specified." 

I said, " Yes, sell them as much of 
the property as shall be removed in a 
given time, and be sure to have this 
specified in the articles of sale." 

" That will do it. And now what- 
ever is left when the time expires, I 
will give to you for this idea." 

This was carried out to the letter. 



198 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

Mr. Jackson desiring to carry out this 
rule, wished me to appropriate all pro- 
perty remaining beyond the limited 
time. I allowed them to carry off till 
midnight of the last day, then forbade 
their taking another stick. The team- 
sters, I think as many as six, were 
angry and determined on filling their 
carts again, but seeing my men, who 
had been notified, issue from the house 
like a cloud, they quit and drove off. 
I would recommend this course to those 
who sell standing wood, as better for 
buyer and seller too, for the young 
sprouts are greatly injured by being 
trodden down or gnawed by the teams, 
and the buyer is stimulated to an hon- 
orable exertion to do business in its 
proper time. 

In the early part of the work, David 
Golden, an Irishman, offered terms for 
a job of shovelling. Having an invet- 
erate dislike to sub-contracts, I de- 
clined, but at a strong invitation from 
Jackson, agreed to it. However, it 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 199 

proved a real bother, Mr. Jackson 
thinking the same, and I made another 
bargain with him to quit in three weeks. 
The time expired at noon. The money 
was procured, it was $823, and paid 
him at 11 o'clock; he appointing a 
certain place to pay off his men. At 
20 minutes before 12, I informed them 
their time was up, and they might go 
for their pay. They went, but nothing 
could be found of him, nor has he been 
heard of from that day to thisby me. 

This season a great change in prices 
current was experienced. The Eastern 
Land Speculation had turned to a " con- 
suming fire," that seared and scorched 
speculating men. The scant crops of 
hay and grain raised their prices. For 
the first load of hay, I paid 68 cents 
per hundred ; the last, $1.25. For 
the first meal, 83 cents per bushel ; the 
last, $1.40. For the first shovelers, 83 
cents per day; the last, $1.17. Flour 
rose in proportion. 

As the job wore away, less teams 



200 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

could be employed, and many of them 
were sold on the ground. One pair 
was sold long before they could be 
spared, to Peter C. Brooks, millionaire, 
and so well pleased was he with them, 
that ever afterwards he would buy of 
no other man ; and in fact every pair 
that were driven by a middling team- 
ster sold for as much as was paid for 
them. 

Near the close of the work, Mr. 
Jackson came along one day and said, 
" I never like to see people dress above 
their business, but you do not dress as 
well as your workmen." 

" I know that," said I, " but there 
is one consolation, I know who is able 
to give me a suit of clothes." 

" How much will a suit of clothes 
cost you ? " 

" About $50," I answered. 

He then filled out a check for $50, 
and gave it to me. 

" Now get a suit of clothes to suit 
yourself," said he. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 201 

The clothes being finished, I put 
them on Monday morning and went 
into his office and accosted him with, 
" Good morning, Mr. Jackson." 

" Good morning," said he ; "I thought 
some gentleman had come into my of- 
fice. Your clothes suit very well, I am 
glad to see you look so well in them." 

"And I too am well pleased with 
them," said I, " but I think I had bet- 
ter lay them aside till I have finished 
this job." 

" They are your own, wear them 
when and where you please." 

The work being all done, hands paid 
off, oxen and chattels all sold, bills paid 
and receipted, nothing now remained 
but to get the estimate of the measure- 
ment from the Engineer and then take 
our pay. This was put off a week at 
a time for three successive weeks, when 
Mr. Jackson went with me to his office 
and demanded the estimate. 

" You shall have it one week," said 
the Engineer. 



LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

" Can't you tell us something near 
what it will come to," said Jackson ; 
" Mr. Sheldon wants to know whether 
he is going to have any more money or 
not." 

" I have gone so far," said he, "I 
know there will not be less than two 
hundred thousand yards." 

As we rode back, Mr. Jackson ob- 
served, now Sheldon you will never 
need any more of my help. Two hun- 
dred thousand yards will give $20,000 
profit. You will have $19,000 left, 
and that is enough for you to begin 
with." 

The Engineer's name was Fuller. 
The first Engineer on the work was 
named Putnam ; he left and went into 
the United States Service, and Fuller 
took his place. 

A week later I was in Jackson's office 
when the sealed estimate was brought 
in. On looking it over Mr. Jackson 
exclaimed, " A fool riding on a trotting 
horse would guess nearer than this." 



WILMINGTON PABMEB. 203 

" What is it T' I inquired. 

" Only one hundred thousand and 
eighteen yards." 

Believe me this was in truth a thun- 
derbolt ; my thoughts were too big for 
utterance. Jackson, turning to me, 
said, " Sheldon, don't feel so bad ; you 
shall have $1000 if I don't have a cent. 
You have worked like an Indian." 

" That is better than nothing," said 
I, "but a man would feel better to 
have $19,000 of his own earnings, than 
to have $1000 given to him." 

George M. Dexter was then employ- 
ed to take the measurement where it 
had been filled into the water. This 
resulted in an estimate that gave $2700 
profit, of which Mr. Jackson took $1000, 
leaving me $1700. 

Let me here tell a story or two and 
then conclude the link. I was one day 
at Brighton for the purpose of selling 
some cattle. I sold three and received 
the money. I put $118 in a purse, my 
usual receptacle, in the right pants poc- 



204 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

ket, and about $5 in change in the left. 
In those days the bar-room at the Mar- 
ket Hotel was crowded as densely as it 
could be, just before the dinner bell 
rung. Then there would be a continu- 
ous rush. That day I happened to feel 
something at my left pocket, and drop- 
ping my hand as quickly as possible, 
caught hold of a man's wrist. I then 
heard the change rattle and felt some- 
thing touch me below which no doubt 
was another man's hand into which the 
purse was dropped, and at the same 
time I called out, " A man's got my 
purse ; he aint got it now ; he's drop- 
ped it into another man's hand ;" and 
at once clutched the robber by his neck- 
erchief. The zealous Wardsworth, bar- 
' keeper, with remarkable agility, leaped 
over the bar and over the shoulders of 
the men, so thick were they huddled 
together, and was the first after me to 
seize him. Luckily for me that the 
robber did not take the purse that was 
in the right-hand pocket. That night 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 205 

he found a lodgment in Cambridge jail. 
For three successive weeks, Peter W. 
Ray, keeper of a hotel in Boston, came 
to Brighton on market days to confer 
with me respecting this case. He urg- 
ed me to say what I would take and 
not appear before the Grand Jury. My 
reply was, " The case is in the hands 
of the Commonwealth ; I am nothing 
but a witness, and shall not attempt to 
settle this business at any rate." After 
a few days a bondsman was obtained 
for the sum of four hundred dollars, I 
think, and the well-dressed robber, with 
rings on his fingers, was released from 
confinement. When the Court sat, no 
robber appeared, and the bond was for- 
feited. 

The Saturday following this robbery, 
I was at Cambridge Cattle Market, and 
noticed two men ride up in a chaise and 
wait in the bar-room, apparently with- 
out any particular business. This ex- 
cited my suspicions. My horse being 
harnessed and about ready to start, 



206 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

John Randall, drover, from Vermont, 
asked which way I was going. Final- 
ly I decided to come through West 
Cambridge, and bring him along with 
me, and look at his working cattle, as 
at that time I dealt in oxen. On the 
road, I perceived those same gentle- 
men, in their chaise, following behind. 
I stopped at West Cambridge Hotel, 
and went down into the lot to examine 
the cattle. When I came back at dark 
I found the same men sitting in the bar- 
room, and this increased my fears much. 
How to evade them was the next ques- 
tion. I summoned up my wits, found 
my way into the kitchen and told the 
maid to ask the landlord to come in 
there, and added, "But don't say, 'a 
man wants to see you,' only say ' please 
come in here.' ' He came accordingly 
and I asked him, " Have these two 
gentlemen who are waiting any business 
here ? " 

" Not that I know of," was his ans- 
wer. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 207 

I stepped back to the bar-room, bid 
Randall good night and started off, but 
soon found that they were following be- 
hind again. Coming to a fork in the 
road, and feeling certain something 
must be done immediately to get clear 
of them, as night was setting in, I 
stopped my horse by the way side and 
jumped out to busy myself in unbuck- 
ling and buckling some of my harness. 
They rode past and took the right-hand 
road, went a few rods and stopped. ' I 
waited a few minutes, but as they did 
not start I thought it best to turn back, 
and said to the landlord, " It is so dark 
and rainy I shall not go home to-night." 
I never heard any more of them, and 
never doubted their intent to take my 
life. I was careful after that occur- 
rence not to be on the road from Brigh- 
ton at night, until after Court set. 

In the month of March, I went one 
evening across what is called, " Hun- 
dred Acre Meadow," which was then 
covered with ice. In returning, the 



208 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

weather being foggy, I could not exact- 
ly see my course and steered too far 
North, which carried me on to the riv- 
er. Down went the horse and one side 
of the sleigh, while I scratched out on 
to the ice and there lay, not daring to 
get up or stir an inch. The water 
flowed under me ; what was to be done. 
I halloed loud and long, till fortunate- 
ly the noise waked Jonathan Gowing 
from sound sleep, and he came to his 
door and answered " Hallo." Find- 
ing my call responded to, I called out, 
" Rope, rope, River, river." Mr. 
Gowing proceeded to uncord his bed, 
and then with a lantern, in company 
with his two sons, made the best of 
their way to the spot which was distant 
about half a mile. I grasped the rope 
they threw me, and was drawn from 
my watery bed to a place of safety. 
One of the boys then fastened the rope 
to the collar of the horse, his head still 
sticking out of the water, and we drew 
both horse and sleigh to hard ice. Had 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 209 

this occurred on the downward trip, 
with the sleigh loaded with men, the 
consequences might have been more 
disastrous. I had been employed with 
them the previous week in looking out 
a location for Salem and Lowell Rail- 
road. 



210 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 



TWELFTH LINK. 



The following winter I employed 
several yoke of cattle with some of the 
best men, in lumbering. 

At the opening of spring, I repaired 
again to Boston to dig cellars on Pem- 
berton Hill, by teaming the gravel to 
the same place, filled the year before. 
This occupied about two months, for 
which $3834.25 was paid me, being 
quite satisfactory. Mr. Dexter took 
the engineering of this work, and I 
likewise kept the cart measure, and 
when the whole was summed up, there 
was only $9 difference. Dexter ob- 
served, that two men measuring it in a 
half-bushel could not come out nearer. 
Dexter's measurement was the largest. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 211 

Our teams were now ferried over to 
East Boston, to street building. Here 
we made five miles of streets and then 
returned to Boston. Here we made 
Lowell, Nashua, Haverhill, Andover 
and Billerica streets, working by the 
day for Jackson. My pay was $5 per 
day. The men were paid by him as 
cheap as I could hire them. 

I will now take a peep at the Lowell 
Railroad again. The first track was 
laid with a trench wall of two feet in 
depth under the rails. Mr. Jackson 
one day said to me, 

" Sheldon is there anything better 
than small stones for a trench under 
the rails?" 

" Yes, there is," said I. 

" I should like to know what ? " 

" Coarse gravel that the frost has 
nothing to do with." 

" I should like to see some such, if 
there is any," said he. 

" There is plenty of it near the canal 
locks in Wilmington. It is of that 



212 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

kind that will not dirty your hands. 
Take up a handfull and it appears like 
smashed stone from the size of a cran- 
berry down to half a shot and finer. 
You may handle it and throw it away 
and it will not leave dirt on your 
hands." 

" Get into our carriage," said Jack- 
son, " and we will go and examine it." 
When on the ground, he and Baldwin 
did examine for themselves, when Bald- 
win said, " Mr. Jackson, this is indeed 
pulverized stone. Sheldon is right ; 
there is no dirt in it." 

They soon commenced using that 
kind of earth, when Baldwin came 
again and said, " Sheldon, we have de- 
cided on your kind of gravel, but it 
costs too much to make it hard. Now 
will you go with me and see if you can 
contrive to do it cheaper "? " 

We went up to West Medford, where 
we found sixteen Irishmen pounding- 
down the gravel with mauls. 

He says, " Now this costs us $6 per 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 213 

rod to pound it down. Now can you 
tell of a cheaper way? " 

I answered, " Put in four heavy oxen 
and their sixteen feet will do more than 
sixteen mauls." 

He then hired Noah Johnson's four 
oxen to use one hour, and acknowl- 
edged his belief that those four oxen 
had done more than sixteen Irishmen 
could. 

Jackson desired me to take charge 
of the job, and to use the best of my 
skill in any process of hardening it I 
might choose. Work being about fin 
ished up in Boston, I speedily procured 
a pair of mill-stones, put in an axletree 
and spire, and run them night and day, 
changing teams as often as necessary. 
To facilitate the business, the gravel 
was brought on cars, and by the use of 
mill-stones the hardening process was 
reduced from $6 to 63 cents per rod. 

I would now like to state a few things 
of which I claim to be the originator, 
and which I wish all to understand. 



214 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

I will now take a leap back to the 
time when I cut off the Foster lot, in 
1812. This was the first time I had 
hired men to cut wood by the cord. 
Every one of them was charged to be 
sure to pile every split stick bark side 
up. This I learned when quite young 
by loading wood that had lain nearly a 
year. I found that a stick that laid 
bark side up would be bright and dry, 
but those laid otherwise would be dark 
colored and heavy ; and if it had lain 
over a year water would frequently set- 
tle between the bark and the wood, 
causing the bark to slip off. One old, 
experienced wood-chopper receiving 
the same orders, went on to his work. 
Going into the lot a few days after, I 
was struck with wonder to see what 
pains he had taken to lay every stick 
bark down. 

" Why did you pile the wood that 
way," said I. 

" Why," said he, "I knew you was 
a very particular man, and I had for- 



WILMINGTON FARMER, 215 

gotten which way you wanted it, but 
thought it could not be bark up." 

" I will now tell you so that you will 
never forget again. Remember, when 
God created cattle he put the hide and 
hair on the outside to protect them 
from the weather. So when he made 
trees to grow he made bark grow on 
the outside to protect the wood. And 
wherever you see bark bruised off, 
there the wood will rot." 

This occurrence was fifty years ago, 
and became the sport and sneer of 
wood-choppers ; but now, nineteen out 
of twenty pile their wood bark-side up. 

I likewise claim to be the originator 
of iron axle-trees for ox-wagons in the 
New England States. 

Deacon John Symmes was builder of 
the wood-work, and Marshall Symmes, 
his brother, made the iron-work. They 
both expressed many fears that under 
heavy loads, they would break in frosty 
weather. The custom had been to 
punch a hole through the axle-tree to 



216 LIFE OP ASA Q. SHELDON : 

fasten on the body. This served to 
weaken the axle, and cause a liability 
to break. To remedy this I had the 
body fastened with two bolts, passing 
each side the iron axle, instead of one 
going through it. This wagon was 
built in 1816. I now have the same 
axle-trees with the hubs of the forward 
wheels, in good running order, a period 
of forty-six years. 

The use of dry, loose, stone gravel 
for railroad trenches, as before stated, 
was through my observation. For car- 
riage roads it surpasses anything known. 
Blue gravel treads down quick and 
makes a pretty road at first, but as soon 
as rain falls it becomes muddy. In 
short, it is nice for walks and streets 
any where ; for I know of nothing that 
will grow in it but pitch pines. To 
cover grave lots with it a few inches 
deep, is a sure preventative to weeds 
and fern, keeping the ground neat and 
clean, without labor or attention from 
year to year. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 217 

I was first to practice laying railroad 
bearings two and a half feet apart in- 
stead of three. This I consider a great 
improvement, and is universally adopt- 
ed by all railroad companies, as far as 
I have any knowledge. My first ex- 
perience of this was in 1834, when 
constructing a piece of railway through 
the farm then owned by Eldad Carter, 
Wilmington. It was considered a hard 
piece, and we were afraid rails could 
not be made to stand. I tried the ex- 
periment of placing the bearings six 
inches nearer than usual and found it 
succeeded admirably. After the cars 
had run awhile, Baldwin said to me, 

" Sheldon, 'tis said you have made 
the best piece of road from Lowell to 
Boston. The Engineer says, that if he 
were blindfolded in Boston or Lowell, 
he could tell when he struck that piece 
of way." 

" Where is it," said I. 

" 'Tis that bad piece you were so 
afraid of." 



218 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

" Do you know the secret of that 
road ? " said I. 

" No ; only we thought it was so 
miry and bad you put in your best 
work." 

" The whole secret is in the bearings 
being six inches nearer together than 
others are," said I, " and if you ob- 
serve you can see the rails will spring 
when the cars run over where the bear- 
ings are three feet apart." 

" If that be the case, I will go up 
and examine it," said he. 

He did go, and examined for him- 
self and became satisfied that the lat- 
ter plan was a great improvement and a 
great saving of rails, as well as engines 
and cars. 

Again : I have discovered that abut- 
ments of bridges should be set two 
feet below the surface, and the base- 
ment stones so placed that the front 
line of the abutment should rest on 
their centre. All front abutment stones 
should be laid without a pinner in front. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 219 

They should have a good bearing and 
not need a pinner. In taking down 
abutments laid by others, to relay them, 
I have found that the main difficulty 
consisted in having pinners in front. 
The jar had crumbled them into small 
pieces. All bank walls or abutments 
having earth behind them, should be 
bartered at least one inch and a half 
per foot. 

" Necessity is the Mother of Invention." 
I once had some stones to move that 
averaged about five tons each. I hard- 
ly knew how it could be done as wheels 
could not be used, the pass not being 
wide enough. As I stood thinking up- 
on it for a moment, it occurred to me 
that good, straight, rye straw, spread 
crosswise of the path, would help the 
drag. On trying this plan I found that 
it worked to a charm. The hotter the 
sun shone, the easier the drag would 
slide, and I found one good yoke of 
oxen would slip along with five tons 
comfortably. Twenty-five pounds of 



220 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

straw to the rod will make a good, fair 
road. 

To those who have board-timber to 
cut at a distance from mill, I would say, 
cut it in the month of August, or first 
of September, and peel the bark off. 
This will lighten the timber about one 
half, and the bark proves good fuel. 
I have carried two feet to market on 
top of a load of six feet of hard, green 
wood, and sold it as high as if it had 
been all hard wood. The difference 
in drawing these logs compared with 
new fallen logs is not small. 

I claim the first invention of wagon 
springs. When I first peddled meat, 
springs on market-wagon seats were 
unknown, and under wagons too. The 
wagon body set on the axle-trees, as 
wood wagons set in these days, and the 
box in the front end was the seat for 
the driver. My health declined, and, 
strange to say, I could not eat without 
difficulty. At length the trouble in- 
creased so much that I could not eat 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 221 

at all while in a sitting posture and was 
obliged to take my meals standing. 
Speaking one day with Dr. Nathan 
Richardson, that eminently skillful phy- 
sician, he said it was produced wholly 
by the continuous jar of riding, as my 
route lay through country towns, some- 
times to the extent of forty-five miles 
per day over very rocky roads. I then 
planned some springs, very much like 
those now called grasshopper springs, 
and Jonathan Batchelder of No. Read- 
ing made them. These springs though 
rude and simple had a salutary effect, 
and health was soon regained. John 
Sweetser, an extensive butcher, was 
ahead of me in one respect, inasmuch 
as he used a cushion on his hard seat 
before I did. This was the first one I 
had ever seen used. It was very much 
sneered at by Salem butchers, for in 
that day comfort did not enter into the 
reckoning. 

In December, 1834, in company with 
Isaac Flint made a contract with Jack- 



222 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

son for cedar ties enough for seven miles 
of railroad. After reconnoitering the 
neighboring towns we came to Middle- 
ton, where plenty of cedar could be 
taken from a swamp when sufficiently 
frozen, and to facilitate the road to mill, 
it was necessary to cross Middleton 
Pond. This was December 19th, and 
one more cold night was deemed suf- 
ficient to make the Pond bearable. 
Our teams were at South Woburn, now 
Winchester, making preparations for an 
early start, and so well did we succeed 
that the next morning at sunrise a load 
of cedar might be seen crossing Mid- 
dleton Pond on its way to mill. Be- 
fore the opening of Spring a choice lot 
of cedar was collected there, more than 
enough to fill our contract ; the surplus 
was readily taken at the same price. 

This winter was noted for its storms 
all falling in the night or on Sundays. 
Only one half day was so foul as to 
prevent work. I could hardly believe 
that there had been a winter, so univer- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 223 

sally fair had it been, only as I knew 
such was the fact. 

The work was begun December 20th, 
the first day the ice would admit, and 
finished March 20th, on which night a 
warm rain come on that would have, 
at any rate, precluded our doing any- 
thing further. 

Much of the lumber being too good 
for ties, was worked into boards, and a 
good winter's work realized. Twenty 
oxen and twenty men were employed ; 
and not only in Middleton, but in Wil- 
mington, North Reading, Reading and 
South Reading, swamps were scoured 
for cedar, and besides our ties nearly 
one hundred thousand feet of boards 
were supplied. 

In 1836, in company with Joseph 
Richardson, of Andover, agreed to con- 
tract for the drawing of enough rails 
for nearly eight miles of railroad, from 
Wilmington to Andover. This winter, 
twenty oxen were employed, and as 
Mr. Richardson was out of health near 



224 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

ly the whole concern came under my 
supervision. Several of the same men 
were engaged on this work that were 
employed on Pemberton Hill and Cedar 
Swamp, viz : Horace Emmons, Jacob 
Morey, Abijah Richardson, William 
Goodhue, and William Badger. 

Some of these men had been em- 
ployed as teamsters seven years, and 
Horace Emmons, although an excellent 
teamster, was found to be worth more 
to oversee men than oxen. I first hir- 
ed him in 1832, at the commencement 
of the work on the Boston and Lowell 
Railroad, for $11 per month, and he 
never asked me to raise his wages, but 
only said he was willing to continue 
work and I might give him what he 
earned. His wages were gradually 
raised from time to time, till for the 
last month I paid him $52, and would 
gladly have hired him longer at the 
same price. 

Young men, in this glass you may 
see the reward of faithfulness in ano- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 225 

ther man's employ. Always be true to 
your employer. " Once a rogue and 
always mistrusted," is an old and true 
proverb. Kemember money should be 
earned before it is received, and you 
should study the best interest of your 
employer instead of studying how you 
can get the most money out of him. 

I do not think that there has been a 
Spring since I attended the Agricultur-> 
al Meetings at the State House, but 
what I have had applications for an 
overseer on a farm, where he could ob- 
tain $500 per year, and have been 
really sorry when casting an eye back 
on the men I have employed to find 
" unblemished timber" so scarce. One 
other hand, whose faithful services I 
must not overlook, was Isaac Damon, 
who worked for me more than two 
years, and such was my confidence in 
his integrity, that I would willingly 
trust him with "untold gold." 

I sometimes hear young men say 
that they can get nothing to do. If 



226 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON: 

you cannot get the price you want, you 
had better work for smaller wages than 
cultivate idleness. If those who have 
work to do will not employ you, be as- 
sured that there is a " leak in the buck- 
et," and you must search out the leak 
and stop it up, and thus make your 
services acceptable. 

When I had decided on one of those 
reliable men, and applied to him, I gen- 
erally found him so engaged that he 
did not wish to leave. 

Let it not be inferred from what has 
been said, that I have not had many 
good men, yes, very good, in my em- 
ploy not named ; but before I can re- 
commend a man to take charge of a 
farm, " I must summer and winter 
him ; " I must know his habits of tend- 
ing stock as well as his skill in cultivat- 
ing land. 

It is my wish that young men would 
hereby be encouraged to be faithful to 
their employers. When that fact is 
fully established, it is a firm stepping- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 227 

stone to prosperity. Faithfulness to 
trust is pecuniarily as well as morally 
the best policy. 

Before closing I must mention the 
pleasant winters I have enjoyed in the 
Legislature of my native State, listen- 
ing to speeches and debates clothed 
with the wisdom and experience of the 
honorable of our times. 

The winters of 1841 and of 1857, 
were spent in that agreeable, and I 
trust profitable situation. 

If ever I benefited the Common- 
wealth, in which it is my privilege to 
dwell, it was during my second term as 
Representative. A bill was pending 
before the House, called the " Usury 
Bill ; " this bill I considered unjust, 
and labored with all the honest inge- 
nuity and skill I was master of to bring 
about its defeat. I endeavored to state 
facts before the House, showing that 
the passage of this bill would bring 
ruin on many of the most enterprising 
farmers in Massachusetts, and I have 



228 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

the consolation of knowing that it was 
defeated. After the adjournment, many 
of the members came to me, saying 
that they were heartily glad to hear my 
speech, for it had brought many things 
to their minds of which they never 
thought before, and that they certainly 
should have voted for the bill had it 
not been for the ideas gained from it. 
Reader, the same spirit that prompts 
men to say, " Slavery is a blessing," 
will always be trying to get such bills 
passed, and I wish you to take into 
serious consideration the effect this bill 
would have upon the community. 

First It would open the door for 
the capitalist to take more advantage 
than he ever yet had in his power ; 
and we know from experience that this 
power is always exercised under the 
pressure of the hardest times. The 
greater the cry that money is scarce, 
the more there is lying idle. We have 
seen enough of human nature to know 
that man will take all the interest he 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 229 

can get under cover of law. Remove 
this law and what disastrous conse- 
quences follow. How many enterpris- 
ing young men there are in this State, 
that have bought farms, paid half the 
purchase money and given a mortgage 
on the farm for security for the remain- 
der, honestly expecting to pay but six 
per cent, interest. How long would it 
be before they must pay twelve per 
cent., if such a bill passed ? Then 
how long would it be before real es- 
tate would fall one-half in value \ And 
then what an amount of farms would 
fall into the hands of land-sharks. 

Take another illustration. A mer- 
chant has goods in his store to the 
amount of from one thousand to five 
thousand dollars, on which he wishes 
to make an honest living and interest 
on his money, and this is right. Now 
this must come out of the consumer, 
and generally out of that valuable class 
of citizens who work for their daily 
bread. I know that there are many 



230 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

who say if there were no bounds to in- 
terest, money would be easier and 
plentier. Of course I do not believe 
them ; they are the very class who wish 
to let money. 

In short, to increase the per cent, of 
interest, serves to make rich men rich- 
er, and poor men poorer ; and whoever 
brings it about, brings a curse upon the 
community. 

Farmers and mechanics God has 
put it in your power to prevent usury 
ever running higher than six per cent. 
Look to it that you use that power. 
Never, never, cast your vote for a man 
who would oppress the poor to fill the 
coffers of the rich. 

At another time when a bill for a 
horse railroad was before the House, 
and much opposition raised on account 
of obstructing the streets, I pondered 
the subject and was determined to col- 
lect facts that would show how horse 
cars would compare with omnibuses, 
and horses and chaises. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 231 

I found an omnibus to average twelve 
to the load. I then stood on Cam- 
bridge bridge till sixteen chaises passed 
and found they averaged one and one- 
half, making in all twenty-four. I then 
went to several Conductors of horse 
cars and ascertained their average to 
be twenty-four each way for a month. 
By this I found that eight horses with 
two omnibuses had to pass through the 
streets to convey the same number of 
passengers that two horses and one car 
would carry, and sixteen horses and 
sixteen chaises to carry the same num- 
ber. 

These facts I stated. And further 
stated, that when the grant was made 
to the public from the land-owners, it 
was not specified what they should 
travel upon, whether gravel or stone, 
wood or iron. Therefore the public 
have a right to take their choice and 
travel how, or in what vehicles they 
please. 

I know the rails are some inconven- 



232 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

ience to travelers, but reader when you 
can find a safer or better way than 
horse cars, then you may go against 
them. The bill passed the House. 

One word on choosing Representa- 
tives for Town or State, as the trust is 
of vast importance. 

Make choice of men possessed of 
good natural sense, in the common ac- 
ceptation of the term, but who have 
been for the most part employed in 
agriculture ; or more properly in the 
business the all-wise Creator first de- 
signed for man " To dress the garden 
and keep it." No occupation is so well 
calculated to improve the mind and 
morals, as farming. Not an hour pass- 
es while cultivating the soil, but one is 
reminded of his dependence on our 
beneficent Creator, and our obligations 
to imitate Him " who maketh his sun 
to rise on the evil and on the good, 
and sendeth rain on the just and on the 
unjust." 

Men whose profession it is to make a 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 233 

lie appear like the truth, and who like 
Southern slaveholders, have been bred 
to the degrading idea that it is right to 
oppress the poor to help the rich, should 
be avoided, as we would avoid enlist- 
ing under a task-master for life. 

Laboring men, farmers and mechan- 
ics are the men to make laws for them- 
selves. For certainly they compose 
the greater part of our population. 
Then choose your officers for Town 
and County from that class, and be ac- 
tive to bring about such a choice. If 
we mean to maintain a Free Govern- 
ment and avoid in future the horrors of 
civil war, we must elect men to rule us 
who are determined to discharge their 
duty to God and their country without 
fear of men or devils. 

While serving in the capacity of 
Representative, I was introduced to the 
Agricultural Meetings at the State 
House. They are generally held week- 
ly when the Legislature is in session, 
when different topics of agriculture are 



234: LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

discussed, and it has been my privilege 
to attend them occasionally for twenty- 
one years, much to my satisfaction. I 
have often heard the remark by men 
who never attended one of these meet- 
ings in their lives, that they are good 
for nothing. To those I would say, if 
you cannot profit by hearing such men 
as Marshall P. Wilder, Dr. Loring, 
Sanford Howard, Leander Witherell, 
John W. Procter, Josiah Quincy, Jr., 
Elijah Wood, Jr., John Brooks, Wm. 
Buckminster and Simon Brown, and 
many more I could mention, relate 
their knowledge and experience in cat- 
tle, horses, hogs and sheep, on culti- 
vating the soil with everything it pro- 
duces, on fruit trees of all kinds, farm- 
ing implements, manure, and every- 
thing appertaining to agriculture, you 
may set it down that you are a dull 
scholar, and had better never try to get 
your living by farming. For my own 
part, I feel under obligations to those 
Hon. gentlemen, for the instructions 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 235 

received from them, and for the last 
ten years I have turned my attention 
more particularly to farming, dairy- 
work and stock-raising. 



SECOND AKEANGEMENT, 



STONE WORK. 



In the year 1809, passing through 
'Squire William Blanchard's farm, I ob- 
served his three men laying stone wall, 
Charles Burt being foreman. I no- 
ticed he tried a stone several ways, and 
then about to throw it aside in a pet, 
said, " It wont lay no way." 

" Hold on, Burt," said I, " There is 
one way that stone will lay and make 
good work." 

" I should like to know which way?" 

Putting my hand to the stone, I said, 
" make that the bed and lay it over the 
joint of those two." 

He did so, and it made solid work 
without a pinner. The 'Squire stood 
by, puffing a cigar, and said, " Young 
man what shall I give you to work for 



238 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

me three hours ? " This was the first 
time I had ever spoken with him. 

" One shilling per hour," said I, 
having no idea he would give it, eight 
cents being the common price. 

" Now," said he, "I want you to 
pick out every stone and direct how it 
shall be laid, and I will give you your 
price." 

An hour or so afterwards, the 'Squire 
appeared again with something to cheer 
the hands and quench thirst. 

" Burt, how do you get along ? " said 
he. 

" Faster than we have done, and 
easier too," said Burt. 

Again the 'Squire came, saying, 
"Young man, your three hours are out; 
walk up to the house and I will pay 
you ; but you must stop and take a cup 
of tea with me and my wife first." 

At that time I should rather " take 
a licking," as boys say, than sit down 
to tea with them ; but I soon found 
myself introduced to the most amiable 
and social of women. And since that 
time I never regretted my acquaintance 
with the Blanchard family. To this 
time, whenever opportunity offers, I 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 239 

can spend an hour very agreeably with 
any of the descendants of that couple, 
After this occurrence whenever there 
was a culvert to be built in the high- 
way, Sheldon was called on to take 
charge of it. 

The first year of my residence on 
the Flint farm built a stone wall around 
his family graveyard, near his house. 
He wished a permanent wall, that 
would stand the lapse of centuries, as 
he might leave his farm. I made in- 
quiries in that respect a few days since, 
and was informed that not a stone had 
fallen from its place, neither from the 
graveyard or hog-sty wall that I built. 
People had told him, no man could lay 
a wall that hogs would not throw down. 
So well pleased was he that no other 
man was employed to lay stone for him 
while I occupied his farm, a period of 
thirteen years. 

During the first year of my railroad 
experience, when Dea. Addison Flint 
had charge of the stone work, and I of 
the earth, as I chanced to be looking at 
the stone layers, they turned an un- 
couth stone weighing more than three 
tons round and round, and were about 



240 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON t 

casting it aside when I ventured to say, 
" Hold on, I can see a way for it." 

" How is that 1 " said the foreman. 

I told them, and the trial satisfied all 
parties. John Haggins, Dept. En- 
gineer, being present, soon brought 
about an exchange. Flint was put on 
the earth, and I upon the stone-work. 

I wish to avoid the imputation of 
egotism in saying that my abutments of 
bridges stood so well that I have since 
been employed to rebuild abutments to 
bridges built by others, on the Boston 
and Lowell Railroad, to the number of 
fourteen. 

1. Where the cars run under the 
road leading from Medford to East 
Cambridge. 

2. The arched bridge at Somerville 
Station. 

3. The next bridge North of that. 

4. The Willow bridge, where the 
cattle are now taken off. 

5. The arched bridge under the rail- 
road over Medford river, spanning about 
fifty feet. 

6. The bridge under the road lead- 
ing from Symmes' Corner to Winchester 
West side. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 241 

7. The bridge at the river near the 
same place. 

8. Under the railroad in Parker's 
Mill-pond. 

9. The bridge near East Woburn 
and Stoneham Station. 

10. The Boutelle bridge so-called. 

11. The Saw-pit Woods bridge. 

12. Kendall bridge in Billerica. 

13. Tufts bridge in Billerica. 

14. Bridge over the road leading from 
Billerica to Tewksbury. 

During all this reconstruction of 
bridges, the business was so managed 
that the cars were never delayed one 
moment, much to the gratification of 
the Agents. 

For Patrick T. Jackson, Charles S. 
Storrow, Waldo Higginson, William 
Parker, Agents, and Benj. F. Baldwin, 
Engineer, I have done work to the 
amount of over $100,000. And all 
this without any written contract, nei- 
ther of us being bound by writing, and 
I ever found their memorandum of the 
agreement proved as strong as any 
bond could make it. I thank God that 
he has raised up these honest, fair- 
dealing, upright men. But to my sor- 



242 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

row, on one other railroad I found both 
Engineer and Agents to be men of a 
very different character. 

I was once invited to take the job of 
constructing several miles of railroad 
in company with two others. I had 
about concluded to engage, when one 
of them said to me, " If you do take 
the stone work, I don't want you should 
do it as you did the Boston and Lowell, 
to stand forever , but get it done as cheap 
as we can and get it accepted, and se- 
cure our pay for it, and then I don't 
care if it all goes to destruction the next 
day." 

" Then I will have nothing to do 
with it," said I, " for I have never yet 
laid a stone on the railroad that I 
thought likely to endanger any man's 
life and I never mean to." 

The road was built, and soon after I 
heard of the stone-work giving way, 
the engine falling through, bringing 
one man to a most excruciating death. 

In the year 1839, I was employed in 
making an abutment for the Boston 
and Maine road, at the bridge over the 
Merrimac river on the Bradford side. 
I likewise teamed rails and ties for nine 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 243 

miles of road, of which a man named 
Clark was agent. He told me in the 
commencement that they, the Company, 
had no right to the land ; I must beg 
my way along as well as I could. And 
sure I did have to beg my way. One 
amusing circumstance I will relate. 
As we approached land belonging to a 
middle-aged widow, in depositing our 
rails, the neighbors mustered their 
heavy teams and built a wall across 
the track completely blocking up our 
way. I informed Clark of the circum- 
stance when he gave orders to have the 
wall taken out of the way. Jacob 
Morey's team was the first to start on 
to forbidden ground. Just as he start- 
ed I espied a woman hurrying across 
the field toward us, who proved to be 
the rightful owner of the land. 

Some hundreds had collected to see 
the " fight," as they termed it. To 
Morey I said, "Don't stop for any man, 
but be sure not drive over a woman.'" 

She did not happen to be quick 
enough to get ahead of the oxen, and 
so ran in between the off ox and the 
load. This chanced to be the worst ox 
to kick I ever owned; I should not 



244 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

have dared to stand there myself. I 
hastened to the spot with all eagerness 
and warned the woman of her danger, 
but I presume she did not believe one 
word I told her. That he did not kick 
was truly a wonder, but he stood pas- 
sive as a lamb. On looking round I 
saw that her son had placed a long 
wagon crosswise ahead of the oth- 
er teams and blockaded them. A 
hand was dispatched to get some hay 
for Morey's team, with orders for the 
other teamsters to do the same, " for 
if we must stand here, they must have 
something to eat," I said. 

It being the month of March, it was 
all mud and water where she stood. I 
then brought a plank and -laid it care- 
fully in for her to stand upon, saying, 
" If you will stand there, I will make 
you as comfortable as I can." I was 
just as sociable as lay in my power, but 
not a word could I get out of her, or a 
smile from her lips until 'Squire Tilton 
from Exeter, then treasurer of the rail- 
road, said, 

" Sheldon, I have always heard that 
you were a smart man ; I am surprised 
that you let one woman stop all this 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 245 

work. Why don't you drive over 
herr 

" 'Squire," said I, " for more than 
twenty years I have not been in the 
habit of driving more than half way 
over so handsome a woman as that." 

This brought a smile to her face and 
loosened her tongue. 

" How long are you going to keep 
your oxen here ? " asked she. 

"If I can't go ahead I shall keep 
my cattle here till twelve o'clock Satur- 
day night, and bring them back Sunday 
night at twelve o'clock ; and as I have 
not engaged board anywhere, should 
like to board with you. Now if you 
will go up and get supper I will come 
and help you eat it. What time do 
you have supper 1 " 

" We eat our supper at six o'clock," 
said she. 

She then stepped out, and I helped 
her up the bank with what politeness I 
was master of, and for once I must say 
I was glad to see one of the fair sex 
walking from me. She had stood there 
at least half an hour. 

When six o'clock came, I made my 
way up to the house, entered without 



246 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

rapping as if it had been my boarding- 
house. I found all seated at table but 
one who waited and was detained. I 
took the chair appropriated to her, and 
said, " I suppose this chair is reserved 
for me." 

" If you are determined you will eat 
supper with us, you may sit in that 
chair." 

" Madam, I am not only determined 
to eat supper with you, but I am deter- 
mined to board with you while my work 
continues in this neighborhood." 

While eating she asked, " Do you 
intend to keep those teams where my 
son is, as long as you proposed to keep 
the other team ?\ 

" Yes, certainly I do." 

" Then I will send for him to drive 
his team home." 

We grew quite sociable before sup- 
per was finished, and could talk about 
the railroad pleasantly. She asked me, 
" Was that a real kicking ox of yours, 
or did you say so to frighten and drive 
me away ? " 

" Oh, it was a real kicking ox ; and 
it is an astonishment to me that he did 
not kick you under the wheels." 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 247 

I boarded with her as long as I pleas 
ed, and found it a good boarding place 

After the consummation of this job 
the same company advertised for pro 
posals for laying nine miles of rails, 
and eight miles of stone-work. I, with 
five others, carried in proposals for the 
rail-work, and I by myself carried in 
proposals for the stone-work. The Di 
rectors voted to accept of both, and we 
met to make the contracts. The con 
tract for the rail-work was made, but 
Bailey's name stood first, although mine 
was first on the proposal. This done, 
'Squire Clark, the agent, wished to see 
me alone. When by ourselves, he 
said, 

" I wish to say to you in confidence, 1 
don't know how far we shall go with 
our road, or when we shall be obliged 
to stop. I don't want to make any con- 
tract for the stone-work, but I want you 
to go there and work when I say so, 
and do as I say, and I will see you well 
paid for it." 

After a while, Haywood, the Engi- 
neer, came and said to me, " How soon 
can you be at Exeter, ready to work at 
Capt. Fernald's bridge I " 



248 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

" How soon do you want me if I 
could be there]" 

" I want you to be there very much 
to-morrow morning at eight o'clock." 

" I think I can be there at that time," 
I replied. 

We loaded our stone tools and set 
out at midnight ; travelled fourteen 
miles before sunrise ; stopped and 
breakfasted at Dodge's tavern, and 
proceeded to the ground and were 
ready there at eight o'clock. 

While waiting, I put up four stakes 
at the four corners where I judged the 
bridge ought to be. At nine o'clock, 
Haywood and Clark arrived. 

" Mr. Haywood, where shall I put 
in this bridge V' I asked. 

" Where do you think it best to put 
it in ? " said he. 

" Where those four stakes stand." 

" Then put it there," said he. 

" I don't know whether you will or 
not," said an unknown gentleman. 

"Is this Capt. FernaldT' said Mr. 
Haywood. 

" Fernald is my name," he answered. 

" I am very happy to see you, Capt. 
Fernald," said Haywood. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 249 

The parties, after talking together a 
few minutes, told me that I might go to 
work. 

A number of walls meeting here, 
just where I wanted to work, I asked, 
" "Who owns these walls ? " 

" I own them," said F. 

" These walls will serve for backers, 
I would like to buy them. What will 
you take for them ? " 

" Thirty dollars," said the Captain. 

" Captain Fernald, they are not worth 
$10 for you to move away." 

He started quick, a characteristic of 
a sea captain. "It is nothing to you 
what they are worth to me ; if I sell 
them to you I want what they are worth 
to you." 

" Capt. Fernald, if you will allow 
me to make remarks five minutes, I 
will then hear you an hour if you wish 
me to. We will suppose these stones 
to be worth $30 to me, but only $10 
to you, would it not be more just to 
divide and call it $20, giving me $10 
and you $10, than it would be to take 
either extreme 1 " 

" You have convinced me ; you shall 
have them for $20. You and I are 



250 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

friends now." And pointing to two 
lots of land, lie said, " I own that land 
and if you want any stone there, you 
are welcome to get them." 

This bridge was finished without any 
special trouble, and about ten rods fur- 
ther up we put in an abutment on Fer- 
nald's land, close to the line, intending 
to build another on the other side, own- 
ed by a man named Swasey, to accom- 
modate both in their farm operations. 
I had no acquaintance with Swasey but 
hoped to get along without difficulty. 
The morning came and we started as 
usual to commence our work. I saw a 
man coming across the field with a gun 
in his hand, and when he came up, he 
said, " What are you going to do here?" 

" I am going to dig away and put in 
an abutment on this side for a bridge 
to accommodate Capt. Fernald and Mr. 
Swasey." 

" I will put a ball through the heart 
of the first man who takes a stone from 
this wall." 

I saw there was a dead set, and turn- 
ing to the stone layers, said, " Go up 
into Judge Smith's pasture to splitting 
stone ; I have bought the privilege of 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 251 

taking out all the stone I wished. And 
you teamsters, go and draw them and 
lay them on the highway, handy to be 
used, if we are ever allowed to do the 
work." 

My boarding place was Dodge's tav- 
ern, where Swasey made his appear- 
ance every evening and held converse 
with me. It soon become apparent 
that he was smoothing down, and in 
about a week he said to me, " Mr. 
Sheldon, we think about here that you 
know more concerning railroads than 
we do, and some think that you will 
say just what you think about it. Now 
tell me, had I better let the road pass 
through my land or not." 

" Certainly, you had," said I. " You 
told me the other night that you had 
three thousand cords of standing wood, 
and as soon as the railroad is in opera- 
tion, every cord of that wood will be 
worth fifty cents more than it now is. 
They are now buying wood at Wil- 
ming for $3 per cord, to run their en- 
gine to East Kingston ; and as soon as 
the cars run wood will be worth as 
much here as it is in Wilmington. The 
cut is already made through your farm, 



252 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

and if you could stop the work from 
going further, you could never get one 
cent of damages ; and I advise you to 
take stock in the road for damages." 

" When do you want to go to work 
on that abutment, if I would let you 1 " 

" To-morrow morning at sunrise," 
said I. 

" Then you may go on," he replied. 

We were on the work at sunrise, 
and soon Mr. Swasey made his appear- 
ance with his team. His first question 
was, " Where shall I begin to work 1 " 
I told him, and he worked all day like 
a hero, as he was, and at night he pull- 
ed oif his hat and, bowing low, said, 
" You are welcome to this day's work, 
because you would not be mad even 
though I threatened your life. 
Sheldon, when I came out here with 
my gun, it was loaded with two balls, 
and I certainly should have put them 
through your heart had you attempted 
to move a stone." 

Pretty much after this fashion we 
worked our way along through all this 
section. Sometimes we were not able 
to lay a stone for a week, being obliged 
to move back and forth and work a few 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 253 

days in a place when and where we 
could get a chance. When we could 
get no opportunity to lay stone we em- 
ployed ourselves in getting them out 
and drawing them near where we hop- 
ed to lay them. These delays certainly 
impeded the work more than thirty- 
three per cent., or nearly one-half; and 
besides the workmen began to grow un- 
easy and fretful at moving about so 
much and not being able to show more 
for their work. 

One day I met the agent and engi- 
neer in a sleigh on Kingston plain. 
" Clark," said I, " hadn't we better 
leave the work and go home, for cer- 
tainly some days we do not earn twen- 
ty-five cents where we spend a dollar." 

" Havn't I said to you times enough, 
stay there and do what I want you to, 
and I will see you well paid. Don't 
say anything more to me about leaving 
unless I tell you to." 

So poor was the credit of the cor- 
poration at that time, that not a stick of 
timber could be bought for a temporary 
bridge, unless Edward Crane or I would 
promise to see it paid for. Crane was 
on the earth and I on the stone-work ; 



254 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

we were the only two undertakers on 
the ground. 

As a palliation for the seeming in- 
sanity that prevailed among the land 
owners, I would say that there was a 
prevailing belief that the road would 
never be finished. The stock was as 
low as sixty per cent., and they feared 
they would not get damages. 

When the work was all completed, 
they owed me $8,500 as honestly as 
ever one man owed another. I sent an 
order to the Treasurer for $45 and he 
refused to pay it, saying he owed me 
nothing. 

When it was announced that the 
Corporation " owed me nothing," there 
were forty writs levied upon my pro- 
perty within twenty-fours, for the an- 
nouncement was made in the long entry 
of the largest hotel in Exeter. In this 
situation, the reader can well judge 
what a waste was made of my proper- 
ty. One instance I will here mention. 
About a fortnight prior to this there 
was a large sale of chestnut timber in 
New Hampshire, at auction. I attend- 
ed and bought $1650 worth ; paid 
$150 cash and gave three notes of 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 255 

$500 each, one to be paid in six 
months, one in one year and one in 
eighteen months. In a few days a 
large timber dealer offered me $500 
for the bargain. Knowing it was the 
best bargain of timber I ever bought 
in my life, and wanting winter work 
for my oxen and men, I thought it not 
wise to accept the offer, not doubting 
but that I should receive my pay for 
that job and could handle it to my 
liking and turn it at last to more ad- 
vantage. The money being withheld, 
and all my property attached, I lost 
not only the bargain but the $150 prev- 
iously paid. The man who offered me 
$500 for the bargain, afterwards bought 
the lot, and I have been informed by 
good authority that he cleared $3,000 
on the bargain. Great numbers of 
chestnut ties, from this lot, were car- 
ried on the railroad to Boston and then 
shipped to Russia. 

Hon. Thomas West succeeded Mr 
Clark in office, and became agent of 
the road. I made him the offer to 
leave the case to three men, who were 
directors of the road when the work 
was done. This was not accepted. I 



256 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

then offered to leave it to Patrick T. 
Jackson, James F. Baldwin and Chas. 
S. Storrow. This offer did not meet 
their approbation. I then commenced 
a suit against them. After several 
months I received a communication by 
letter to meet the Directors at Dover 
on a specified day. On arriving at 
Andover, I was introduced to one of 
the Directors by the name of Weld. 
On the way, we talked over the matter, 
and he said he had understood that I 
had once offered to le^ye it to three 
men who were directors on the road 
when the work was done. 

" I did," said I. 

"Will you renew that offer"?" he 
asked. * 

" I willj' was my answer. 

When we arrived at Haverhill, Mr. 
West came into the cars, and Mr. Weld 
related the conversation that had taken 
place between us on the road, and ex- 
pressed his surprise that the corpora- 
tion should suffer themselves to be sued 
when I had made them so fair an offer. 

" I don't know," said Mr. West, " but 
he has made them an offer that they 
would rather accept of than that. I 



WILMINGTON FABMER. 257 

believe he has offered to leave it to 
Jackson, Baldwin and Storrow." 

" I did make that offer." 

" Will you renew it 1 " said Mr. Weld. 

" I will renew both offers, and you 
may take your choice." 

" It shall be done ; it shall be set- 
tled without going further in court." 

On going into the room with the Di- 
rectors, they said that there was nothing 
in the way of settlement; if I would 
retire, Mr. West and I could talk it 
over in the cars on our way home. 
When the subject was introduced, Mr. 
West said, " The Directors all meet at 
Boston to-morrow. If you will come 
and bring in your bill, and we do not 
pay it, Jackson, Baldwin and Storrow 
shall settle it." 

To Boston I went, and met West in 
State street, when he accosted me thus, 
" Sheldon, they will not have Jackson 
on this reference at any rate." 

" You have already agreed to have 
him," said I. 

" Well go in and see what they say." 

When in, it was soon announced that 
Mr. Jackson could not be allowed to 
serve as referee. 



258 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

" Gentlemen," I said, " if you will 
give me any reason why Mr. Jackson 
cannot be admitted to serve, I will be 
content with another man." 

" Sheldon," said Mr. Weld, " we 
find, here in Boston, that you have 
done so much work for Mr. Jackson, 
and have been with him so much that 
he will believe every word you say, 
and we may as well leave the case to 
him." 

My answer was, "It is no disgrace 
to me after being with him, and do- 
ing as much for him as I have done, to 
have him believe all I say." 

The chairman then said, " Name a 
man living somewhere between Boston 
and Dover, within three miles of our 
road." 

I then named twenty men, all of 
whom were rejected as soon as named. 
" Gentlemen," said I, " it is of no use 
for me to pick out a man; name one 
yourselves." 

" Col. Duncan, of Haverhill," said 
Mr. Weld. 

" I do not want a better man," said I, 
" he is one of the first three that I of- 
fered to leave it to." 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 259 

As the cars were about to leave, they 
decided that John Flint, of Andover, 
should write notices to the several gen- 
tlemen, and I should see that they had 
them. 

So early was I up the next morning 
that I travelled eight miles before John 
Flint was out of bed. He wrote the 
notices and I flew up and down on the 
railroad and carried them to the re- 
spective gentlemen that same day. But 
strange to believe, before the specified 
day came, I received a letter from Dun- 
can that they would have neither of 
the Boston gentlemen at any rate to sit 
on the case between me and the Cor- 
poration. 

Here the case hung until Col. Dun- 
can was appointed Auditor by the Court. 
He appointed a meeting at Andover, 
to which the several parties repaired. 
After Mr. Haywood's testimony, Mr. 
West advanced a proposal lo give me 
$7000 if I would take $1000 in their 
railroad stock. After a little delibera- 
tion I decided to accept it, for this rea- 
son. The bargain was made privately 
between me and Mr. Clark, on that ac- 
count I had no evidence of it and Mr. 



260 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

Haywood said on the stand, he could 
not recollect the conversation between 
Clark and me on Kingston Plain. Fur- 
thermore, the same gentleman came to 
me and said the stone work referred to 
as a sample for me was not good enough 
but was failing, and asked what way it 
could be made better. I informed him 
by splitting out the stone with wedges 
instead of powder, but it would cost 
more. He asked, " How much more 1 " 

" One dollar per yard," was the an- 
swer. 

" Well," said he, " get them out 
with wedges." 

On the stand he acknowledged the 
work was $1 per yard better, but he 
could not recollect ever giving any or- 
ders for that course. 

About three years after commencing 
my suit, when I received from the Cor- 
poration $7000, I made the best set- 
tlement with creditors circumstances 
would permit, and began life again with 
only $75. 

I would like to say distinctly to every 
Stockholder of the Boston and Maine 
Road, that when your Corporation was 
in a sinking condition I did what I could 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 261 

to further on the work, day and night, 
some nights going without any sleep. 
And now knowing how I have been 
treated, are there not some lovers of 
justice among you who are willing to 
make some recompense in view of the 
faithfulness with which I have served 
you. Some may say, why did you risk 
so much without a written contract? 
I would state in reply, I had done more 
than $ 100,000 worth of work for men 
who were agents, and always found 
their word to be good as their bond ; 
this gave me too much confidence in 
men. 

To Mr. West I would say, you have 
had a long time to reflect, that you once 
agreed to let Jackson, Baldwin and 
Storrow settle the case between me and 
your Corporation. Then you refused 
to let Mr. Jackson act, and Col. Dun- 
can's name was substituted in his stead. 
The next thing, you refused to let Mr. 
Baldwin and Mr. Storrow act. By so 
doing I consider you rubied a man who 
had served your Corporation faithfully. 
After so long a time if you have repent- 
ed of what I consider a great sin, I 
trust you will set about making some 



262 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON: 

recompense. But if your heart is yet 
hardened, I pray God, when your eyes 
are closed in death, to have mercy on 
your soul. 

A job of stone-work at Nashua, N. 
H., next claims attention. I was called 
by the Directors of the Nashua and 
Lowell Road to look at a piece of work 
considered difficult to do, and keep the 
cars running. Here the cars ran across 
Indian Head canal and then followed 
its bank, partly over the water, about 
five hundred feet. It was supported 
by piles nineteen feet above the bottom 
of the canal. These had begun to de- 
cay and it was found necessary to re- 
construct the road. The first thing 
was to build two abutments near the 
depot, fifty-five feet long and nineteen 
feet high, with a pier in the centre of 
the same length; then a wall three 
hundred feet long of the same height, 
five feet below the surface of the water, 
Then there were four arches to turn. 
Around these we built a coffer dam, 
that we might prosecute the work with- 
out water. They spanned twenty feet 
each, making eighty feet. They were 
to carry off surplus water in case of a 



WILMINGTON FARMEB. 263 

freshet. The piles and wood-work 
were all taken away, and this large job 
of stone-work done without hindering 
the cars one minute. 

Gratitude forbids that I should pass 
unnoticed a narrow escape there. One 
of the workmen desired a. staging built 
outside the wall over the canal. 

" Build it so strong," said I, " that 
two men can stand upon it and lift with 
all their strength with a crow-bar." 

It was used in that way two days. 
On the third morning the applicant 
desired me to go on to the staging to 
look at a large stone laid the night be- 
fore. I descended with great caution, 
I hardly know why, keeping hold of 
the stones all the time, but alas, the in- 
stant I let go, and stood on the staging, 
down came the whole concern and I 
was precipitated backwards into the 
canal, which that day received the 
whole water of Nashua river, for the 
purpose of having a dam repaired, and 
making the current in the canal very 
swift. This occurred near the guard- 
gates, through which I knew I must 
go, and feared I should lodge on some 
timber, but thanks to Morey I went 



264 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

through safe. One of my men, Har- 
vey Putnam, hearing the crash of the 
staging, run to the place, and saw noth- 
ing but the broken staging in the canal 
and my hat on the top of the water. 
He then ran below the gates and could 
discern a shirt sleeve in the foam. De- 
termined to help what he could, he 
descended the wall, laid in steps, and 
hanging on by the stones with his hand, 
stretched his legs into the water, calling 
out, " Get hold of my legs." I was 
tumbling over in the dashing water, 
but heard him distinctly, and reaching 
about with all my might, luckily caught 
hold of a boot and held on until helped 
out of the water. I repaired to the 
scene of danger as soon as the case 
would permit, and found that a small 
strip of cast iron had taken the place 
of an iron crow-bar that supported the 
staging. Feeling confident that the 
whole affair was designed, I took the 
small piece remaining in the wall, 
where it had been broken off, my work- 
men being gathered around, and step- 
ped toward the suspected man, hold- 
ing the iron directly before his face, 
neither of us speaking a word. His 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 265 

countenance turned very pale, and 
strange as the fact may seem, within 
an hour proposed to leave the work. I 
am fully satisfied from circumstances, 
that the man who kept the Time Book, 
hired him to do the trick, by ordering 
$15 to be paid him out of the Corpor- 
ation's money. That they designed to 
take my life, I have no doubt ; and if, 
while I live, that man should be sick 
and likely to die, I will go to him, if I 
can, and ask him if the time-keeper 
hired him to exchange the crowbar for 
that piece of cast iron, and get me on 
the stage for the purpose of destroying 
my life. In the beginning, I was cau- 
tioned by a man intimately acquainted 
with this time-keeper, to look out for 
him, stating that he was an artful man, 
and that when the job was well under 
way it would be like him to take hold 
of it himself, if he could by any means 
get rid of me, and then say, " Sheldon 
began the job but could not finish it." 

I have had the superintendence of 
building or re-building the abutments 
of eighteen bridges on the Boston and 
Lowell road, and many culverts. And 
on the Boston and Maine road I have 



266 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

built abutments for eight bridges, be- 
sides numerous culverts and cow-guards. 
On the South Reading Branch I have 
likewise laid abutments to eight bridges 
and turned an arch over the river that 
divides Essex from Middlesex County, 
together with many cow-guards and 
culverts on the same road, and also at 
Bradford, at Ward Hill, where the road 
runs near Merrimac river. 

Slocum, of Haverhill, and myself 
had been engaged in a winter's work 
of drawing lumber to Maine railroad 
in Kingston. We then hired an en- 
gine, engineer, train of cars and fire- 
man, to take it down to Andover Saw 
Mills. I was conductor and espied a 
crack running lengthwise of the ties, 
about the middle of the road fifty-five 
feet in length. This was in the beginn- 
ing of Spring. I made signal to stop 
when fairly over it, and in less than five 
minutes it all slid down into the river. 
As we stood gazing, the road-master 
came up, and in surprise and almost 
crazed, freshets were rising so fast, 
said, " Sheldon, you can think faster 
than I can, for heaven's sake tell me 
what to do ? " 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 267 

" Send a man," said I, " as fast as 
he can go to North Andover, to tell the 
conductor to turn his engine behind 
and back up here ; and you must have 
my engine to bring the passengers from 
Haverhill up, and they must walk over 
and change cars." 

He then remarked, " You must mend 
up this place as soon as possible, for I 
have as much as I can attend to else- 
where ; our road is going to pieces." 

The fourteen men with me, were 
speedily set to work throwing stones 
into the hole, for there were lots of 
them near by on the opposite side. 
I then sent a man with the engine 
down to Haverhill to tell Slocum to 
send dinner for fourteen men, and all 
the men he could raise. They brought 
dinner and a passenger train together, 
and by mustering neighbors we swell- 
ed our force to forty-three men and six 
oxen. 

At that time, as good luck would 
have it, the moon's clear light enabled 
us to continue our work through the 
night. Burrill, the Agent for running 
the cars, came up with the supper, 
looked on, and said, " Sheldon, how 



268 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

many days before the cars can run 
here?" 

" I want you to bring up a good 
second supper for twenty-three hungry 
men," said I, " and then I can tell you 
better about it. Bring it as late as you 
like to sit up to accommodate us." 

The supper came about 11 o'clock, 
and it was as good a supper as men 
ever need to eat. It may be called 
second supper, or night dinner, for well 
do I know from experience that a man 
while laboring needs food as much at 
night as in day. Six hours labor is 
quite enough for any man between 
meals. 

The embankment that gave way was 
fifty-five feet in length and fifteen feet 
below the rail, but the ties kept their 
place, being frozen in on the opposite 
side, only half the track going down. 
When supper came, Burrill asked me, 
" Can you tell now how many days it 
will be before the cars can run 1 " 

" If you don't hear from me before 
the sun rises, you may start your cars 
along as though nothing had occurred." 

"Sheldon, are you crazy?" said he. 

" No, I hope not ; but you may start 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 269 

on the cars, telling them to proceed 
with caution when they approach this 
place." 

The cars did come at the usual time, 
and I stopped to see them safely over 
and then went back to Haverhill to 
breakfast. 

The secret of accomplishing this 
great work in so short a time, was just 
this : we threw the stones in and al- 
lowed them to find their own bed, and 
when they had gone as far as they 
could, they would lay there till moved 
by other power. There were plenty 
of stones here that had been taken 
from the ledge that we wanted to get 
off the line of the railroad. When we 
had filled up within six feet of the 
rails, we placed the stones in a wall 
directly under them, throwing others 
down both sides, thus making the work 
substantial. 

After this job was completed and 
the road had been used some days, 
Charles Storrow, then a director on the 
road, said, " Had that happened on the 
Boston and Lowell road and been re- 
paired in the usual way, it would have 
cost the corporation more than $1000," 



270 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON: 

but the whole expense here was only 
$53. 

Another witness. Onslow Stearns, 
agent for building the Northern road, 
once said to me, " Sheldon, your filling 
up that hole at Ward Hill, as you did, 
has saved the Northern Railroad Co. 
many thousand dollars, through their 
adopting the same plan." 

Were this mode of building embank- 
ments adopted, where stone is plenty, it 
would be found a labor-saving opera- 
tion above the old fashioned, perpen- 
dicular wall, where sometimes many 
feet must be laid in mud and water, a 
most repulsive work. 

Reader, remember this night's work 
was done for the corporation whose 
agent afterwards ruined me. 

I went to Brookline to build a Coun- 
ty road over half a mile of marsh and 
another half a mile through orchards, 
gardens and strawberry beds, and then 
through a piece of reclaimed swamp 
where English grass was mowed. The 
road was an expensive one, and the 
greatest saving in calculation, in the 
whole job, was in laying a strip of 
marsh grass each side of the road and 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 271 

raking it in for the horses to travel on 
while carting on the first gravel. After 
the road was completed over the re- 
claimed swamp, and we had passed 
over it with heavy loads for several 
days, down went about ten rods of it 
out of sight, and at once water flowed 
over to the depth of thirty-five feet. 
To buy the gravel and fill up this enor- 
mous mouth was quite an expense, but 
as I took the job by the yard it only 
made more work for us. 

Whenever I think of the committee 
who engaged me to do this work, it 
brings to mind what Christ said to his 
disciples, " Have not I chosen you 
twelve and one of you is a devil." I 
firmly believe the treasurer and com- 
mittee, save one, to be true, Christian 
men, and likewise, judging from the 
Scripture, " A tree is known by its 
fruits," many of the neighbors to whom 
I was sometimes indebted. 

In the month of February, 1856, I 
was visited with the severest fit of sick- 
ness I ever suffered. I was first at- 
tacked with pleurisy ; that increased so 
fast that my family, anxious for my 



272 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

safety, sent the next day for Dr. Ed- 
mund F. Kittredge, of New Ipswich, 
N. H., now of Lowell, Mass. He pro- 
nounced the disease Typhoid Pneu- 
monia of a malignant type. The fever 
run high ; my pulse for several days 
ranged as high as a hundred and thirty 
and a hundred and forty. I lost all 
consciousness from the first, but my 
faithful family and friends were unre- 
mitting in their attention. Nathaniel 
Parker mentioned in a former page 
as among the friends in need was 
sure that I could not get well ; it would 
be as great a miracle as any performed 
in Scripture times. The next week as 
my wife was watching me and the fam- 
ily were eating dinner, a sudden change, 
she said, come over my countenance. 
All left the table in anxious surprise. 
" Oh," said Parker, with uplifted hands, 
"he is gone ; I told you how it would 
be." 

The doctor, who was present, re- 
plied, " He may live to lay cents on 
your eyes. Rub his extremities quick- 
ly, and wet a cloth in hot vinegar and 
lay it on his stomach as soon as possi- 
ble." This was at once done, and the 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 273 

breathing improved and the symptoms 
became better. 

He administered some reviving spirit 
and continued to feed with the same. 
He remained with me three successive 
days and nights and soon consciousness 
began to return. He did not blister or 
bleed ; gave no emetic or physic, yet 
he carried me through as I believe few 
others could. 

With heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Kitt- 
redge I must say, " Under God, to him 
I owe my life." It was a wonderful 
mercy in kind Providence that brought 
him here at my time of greatest need. 

" He could not have lived without 
extra effort," said the doctor. Then 
never give up friends sick with fever 
as long as life lasts ; no, not even when 
life is apparently gone. Many, doubt- 
less, pass out of the world that an ex- 
tra effort would have restored and 
brought back to life and health again. 

Mr. Parker died two years ago. 

This Dr. Kittredge is grandson of 
him who so faithfully watched by me 
while laid up with the broken leg. 



274 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 



HINTS TO STONE LAYERS. 

After having so much experience in 
stone-laying, and after the many tests 
my work has undergone, I feel confi- 
dent that no work of mine will fail, 
unless by some great convulsion of na- 
ture, or removal by designing hands ; 
and for the benefit of the rising gener- 
ation, I propose to give some directions 
to stone-workers. 

FIRST To SIGNERS OF WELLS. 
Never, on any account, lay the largest 
end of the stone in toward the well. 

To FARMERS. Never destroy any 
part of the strength of your wall for 
the sake of making it look handsome 
on a farm. In reality those farm walls 
always look handsomest that stand best. 
There has been no better way found to 
lay farm walls than on large foundation 
stones, placed on cobbles. In laying a 
wall on low, frosty ground, where it is 
necessary to trench, I would recom- 
mend to fill the trench with that kind 
of dry gravel before mentioned for 
railroad trenches, walks, &c., if it can 
be had conveniently, or with sand if 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 275 

that cannot be procured. Either of 
these are better than small stones for 
two reasons. First, mud will work in 
among small stones, freeze and heave 
the wall. Second, it will give more en- 
couragement to the growth of briars 
and brush than gravel will. 

LAYING CULVERTS. Always make 
the up-stream end of the culvert nar- 
rower than any other part; this will 
prevent anything entering it that cannot 
go through. Always lay the biggest 
side of the covering stones downward ; 
this will make the joints widest on the 
top, they will thereby receive a wedge 
that will not go through. 

CELLAR WALL. In laying them al- 
ways build them plumb. Then the 
building resting on the top will be in 
no danger of falling in. To make 
a good cellar wall a stone should have 
three good sides, bed, build and face. 
Back and ends have not much to do 
either with strength or beauty. 

BANK WALL. It is necessary to have 
one course of stones below the surface, 
on the base of the wall, then have the 
front of the wall placed on the centre 
of them. Those stones that are placed 



276 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

below the surface need not of necessity, 
be very large, and it is immaterial of 
what shape. What is termed cobble 
stones, the size of a peck measure, will 
answer a good purpose. 

If you want to build your wall five 
feet high, and have it stand centimes, 
as I am sure you do, then make the 
base half the thickness of the height, 
and barter it on front at least one and 
one-half inch to the foot. Mind and 
never put so small stones on the top 
that a dog running over them will l^nock 
them off. If the soil be clay, take it 
out a few inches wider than the wall 
and fill in back with good gravel stones, 
otherwise the clay will run in among 
the stones, freeze, and heave them, and 
thus injure the wall. 



MILCH COWS. 

m 

Until recently I have never realized 
the value of tnilch cows, and believe 
but few do rJtlize it as yet. Milk, but- 
ter and che& are not all the benefits 
we derive from the cow. Every crea- 
ture that is slaughtered in Eastern mar- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 277 

kets, gained the first $3 worth on an 
average from milk. In New York and 
Massachusetts, there are not less than 
ten thousand cattle and calves slaugh- 
tered, on an average, every week ; 
allowing $3 to each one, (which is a 
low estimate), the amount is $1,560,000 
in one year for these two States alone. 

How many varieties can be realized 
from milk. Nearly all our calf-skin 
leather is produced from milk. Im- 
mense quantities of milk are used for 
food for children, with great economy 
and propriety. Besides the immense 
amount of milk, butter and cheese con- 
sumed by the human family, not less 
than fifty pounds of pork can be reckon- 
ed on, by good management, from each 
cow, arising from sour milk, butter- 
milk, whey, &c. Now is it not of the 
utmost importance that we select the 
very best cows ? 

POINTS OF A GOOD MILCH Cow. A 
bright, hazel eye ; long, lean face ; 
wide between the eyes ; flat horns, not 
very large at the base ; pretty large 
sack, with room for her own dinner ; 
thin hides ; small leg bones ; large 
cavity on the front of the shoulder 



278 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

joint ; large milk veins, and milk holes 
if you can find forked milk veins, 
with two holes on each side, it is an 
extra mark, seldom found ; well spread 
bag, running well forwards ; yellow 
skin ; four good sized teats, standing 
well apart ; two small ones behind call- 
ed false teats ; slim tail ; and as good 
a sign as any to be found is, open ribs, 
with space wide enough between the 
two last to admit of three fingers laid 
in. If the cow is wanted for butter 
exclusively, the horn should be trans- 
parent. This mark I first received from 
Mrs. Dea. Parker. Hearing I had an 
extraordinary heifer, the good old lady 
came over to see it. While walking in 
front of the stall, she exclaimed, 
" Here is a heifer that will make a 
good cow, I care nothing about your 
father's great heifers." 

"Why," said son Horace, who was 
showing her round, " what do you see 
in that heifer, Mrs. Parker, to admire?" 

" Why her horns are all butter," said 
she. " I have taken care of a dairy 
more than fifty years, and I never knew 
it to fail." 

In fact that was the very heifer she 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 279 

came to see. I have noted it ever since 
and found it so. Mrs. Parker was con- 
sidered an extraordinary dairy woman ; 
her butter, as well as that of her daugh- 
ter Buck's, always commanding the 
highest market price. 

To purchasers I would say, when- 
ever you find these marks, you need 
not inquire what breed she is of; you 
will be sure to get a good cow. 

With regard to color, I prefer light 
red or brindle, because they descended 
from the Black Spanish, and Denmark 
cattle, imported into Dover nearly two 
hundred years ago . From them I think 
sprang the best race of dairy stock this 
country has ever been in possession of. 
to. I would not reject a cow on ac- 
count of color, if she possessed the 
marks before mentioned. 

From experience I feel safe in saying 
that a woman who is a good manager 
would, from the products of two good 
cows well kept, maintain the year round, 
a family of four, say herself, husband, 
and two children, and pay a reasonable 
tax on the cows, pasture and home-lot. 
If her husband pay the expense of 
keeping the cows, it would be all re- 



280 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

quired for the maintenance of his fam- 
ily. This will apply to any location 
within fifteen miles of Boston. 

In looking over the utility of animals, 
I am constrained to say, if we could 
have but one kind of animals, cow, 
horse, sheep or hog, the cow must be 
preferred. 



OXEN. 

SIGNS OF A GOOD WORKING Ox. 
Bright hazel eye, which denotes intel- 
lect, or a disposition to receive instruc- 
tion, and a readiness to obey it ; lean, 
long head ; broad between the eyes ; 
wide, open nostrils ; horns not more 
than medium size at the base these 
show an ox keen to pull and one that 
can endure the heat of the day ; straight 
knees ; toes pointing straight forward 
these show that the ox can travel on 
pavement, or hard, frozen ground ; full 
bosom ; round in the chest ; last ribs 
projecting out as large as the hip bones; 
straight on the back ; small tail ; wide 
across the gambrel ; large cord at the 
gambrel these last mentioned marks 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 281 

denote strength and constitution ; when 
he stands his hind feet should be well 
in under him this shows his limbs 
were made to carry his body, and will 
carry it easily. 

Short heads will start quick at the 
whip but soon forget it generally eye 
servants ; horns large at the base, with 
small nostrils, is not likely to work well 
in a hot day; black eyes and black 
nose, inclined to both kick and run 
away; picked toes and turning out, 
crooked knees and turning together, 
cannot travel on hard roads ; the toes 
turning out brings the strain upon the 
inside claws, which long continued, 
produces lameness at the joint between 
the hoof and hair, or what is called 
ring-bone ; if his hind legs are too far 
behind him, it denotes laziness ; if the 
ribs drop down flat, not being so wide 
through the ribs as through the hip 
bones, he has no great constitution. 

It is said, " There are exceptions to 
general rules," but these signs may 
generally be relied upon. 

While walking near Quincy Market, 
Boston, one day, I met a man who in- 
vited me to go with him, which I did. 



282 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

He purchased a nice turkey and pre- 
sented it to me, saying, "Accept this 
as a token of gratitude for the benefits 
I have derived from practicing your 
directions for selecting good working 
oxen. I have practiced them since I 
first had occasion to buy oxen." Be- 
fore I could ascertain his name he had 
disappeared in the crowd. 

SHOEING OXEN. The shoe should be 
broad on the foot, and be set back at 
the heel about Ijalf an inch further 
than what the /oot touches. At the 
toe, it should not come quite to the end 
of it. If the toe is very picked, it 
should not come nearer than about an 
inch of the end. If the toe be short 
and broad it should come almost to the 
end of the toe. 

POINTS OF AN Ox FOR TENDER BEEF. 
Smoky color; long, coarse hair; thin 
hide, this may be told by pinching it 
up between the thumb and finger ; flat 
ribs ; wide hip bones, quite hollow un- 
derneath ; then if he be only fat you 
need not fear, even though he is the 
worst looking animal you ever put your 
eye on. These points apply to all horn- 
ed creatures. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 283 
HOW TO SALT BEEF TO KEEP A YEAR. 

Take four quarts of coarse fine salt, 
four pounds of brown sugar, one ounce 
saltpetre, mix well together, to one 
hundred pounds of beef, packed as 
solid as it can be ; put a board on top 
of the meat in the barrel, and a stand- 
ard to reach from this board to a tim- 
ber in the floor overhead; drive in a 
wedge to keep the standard tight, and 
the meat will settle for two or three 
days. To prevent the bottom head 
from bursting out, a small bit of board 
should be placed under the barrel with- 
in the chines, before the meat is salted, 
which should be done soon after the 
animal heat is out. No water should 
be used, as it takes out the juice of 
the meat and turns it green and makes 
it hard. When a piece is taken out, 
and the brine will not cover, put in 'a, 
small stone and cover the board on 
again. 



EAISING BULLS. 

e 

be sure 



RAISING BULLS. 

If the object is to raise dairy stock, 
3 sure your bull calf is from your best 

*. 



284 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

dairy cow, and the color of the skin 
about the bag should be the same as of 
a good cow yellow. A four teated 
bull is preferable, but this is rare. My 
plan is to raise two bull calves together 
and break them to yoke quite small; 
and I have found that they were worth 
more than oxen to plow in my reclaim- 
ed swamp when two years old, as they 
were light of their strength and could 
go where heavy oxen could not. I 
have likewise found them very useful 
in carting hay from miry meadows. If 
a bull will be worth anything to work, 
he can be bandied easier than a steer. 
Some are so stubborn one should never 
try to handy them. To put on a light 
yoke, if you have a good, clear pasture, 
and let them run in it when six months 
old, is a good plan. I once owned a 
pair that led on a load of wood for four 
miles and drew finely, quite as much as 
I wanted them to, when only ten months 
old. I have one of them now. I be- 
lieve that a pair of one-year-old bulls 
will draw as much as a pair of two- 
year-old steers. To take a loaded wag- 
on to Concord Cattle Show, I once put 
a pair of eighteen months old bulls to 



WILMINGTON FARMER, 285 

lead, and the teamster thought that 
they helped as much as a horse. They 
certainly do more work according to 
their keeping, than steers or oxen. I 
should not like to keep one older than 
three years, lest he become cross. 



RAISING HEIFER CALVES. 

It is highly important that heifer 
calves should be selected from the best 
cows, but more important is it that their 
sire should be from the best cow. Do 
not attempt to raise a heifer calf with- 
out first examining her teats. When 
they are about forty hours old, you may 
satisfy yourself about their good points, 
quite as well as at any time before 
they are two years old, as many of them 
are about the same as the cows, espec- 
ially the bag and teats. 

Do not keep your calves too high on 
milk the first summer, because they 
should be kept up to that standard 
through the winter. This I deem of 
great importance and applicable to all 
kinds of calves ; indeed all growing 
animals should be kept on the advance. 



286 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

I once took a number of heifer calves, 
I think ten, to Concord Cattle Show. 
After the show, Mr. Buckminster, edi- 
tor of the Massachusetts Ploughman, 
said in his paper, that he saw a pen of 
calves labelled, " Native breed; A. G. 
Sheldon, Wilmington." He observed 
that the spectators said, " Those calves 
looked as though the very skimmed 
milk they were raised on was watered." 
The spectators were men of excellent 
judgment, for they were raised on that 
very article skimmed milk, indian 
meal and water. I sold one of these 
calves, when two years old, for $50, 
and have frequently heard her owner 
say that he would not take $100 for 
her. Some of them that I now know 
of, cannot be bought for less than $100 
each. Seldom does a heifer that is 
doated upon and fed very high on milk, 
fully answer the expectation of the 
owner. 

" The size of a bullock depends on 
the first year." This is an adage that 
is nearly true. I am fully of opinion 
that more depends on the first winter 
than on any other period of the same 
length in his history. They should 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 287 

have tender hay, some roots, rutabagas 
or carrots, and oatmeal, which is pre- 
ferable to any other. 

Early calves are preferable for rais- 
ing to late ones. March calves are 
decidedly best, yet April will do, but I 
would not raise one that come in May, 
unless it was something extraordinary ; 
for this reason, it could not be turned 
to grass until the feed was tough, and 
in consequence would not do so well. 



ON FEEDING STOCK. 

It is a great piece of economy in 
feeding cattle in the barn, to cut all 
their hay, except the last feeding at 
night, which should be whole hay. If 
there be any left in the moniing that is 
fit to eat, I should put it in the cutter 
and give it to them again. Chopped 
feed should always be wet, and with 
hot water if circumstances will permit. 
Corn stalks are excellent for milch cows 
whether top stalks or husks ; also, ru- 
tabagas, carrots and parsnips are all 
good, but I have never been able to 
determine which is best according to 



288 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

the cost. I think best to sow all of 
these roots, so that if one kind should 
not succeed the others might. The 
more experience I have of pumpkins, 
the more I am in favor of them ; they 
certainly add to the quantity and to the 
quality of the butter. 

My experience in molasses is, that 
one half pint given to a good cow will 
give you four ounces of butter. It 
should be given in chopped feed by 
sweetening the water. This is design- 
ed solely for chopped feed ; when a 
cow grazes she has no need of it, or 
anything else, if she has plenty of good 
grass. Where molasses is used with 
chopped feed, a little salt should be 
added. 

I endorse the opinion of Hon. Josiah 
Quincy, Jr., that " a cow is a machine; 
you can get nothing out of her but 
what you put into her ; but let us re- 
member, the better the machine and 
the better order it is kept in, the bet- 
ter pay we shall get for running it." 

A few sweet apples given occasion- 
ally to cows, horses or hogs, are excel- 
lent to keep them in a healthy condition. 
I think a horse would never have botts 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 289 

if he had half a peck of sweet apples 
once in ten days. Regularity, as it 
respects time and quantity, is of great 
importance in feeding all kinds of stock. 

Occasional messes to milch cows not 
only do them no good, but sometimes 
are decidedly injurious. In the month 
of June, I once had a bushel of good 
French turnips chopped and given to 
five cows that were grazing. The next 
morning their milk had shrunk down 
to one half. Surprised at the result, I 
cast about to understand it. I found 
the secret in the fact, that the turnips 
took away their appetite for grass and 
caused them to wait around for more. 

In case of short grazing, cow-corn, 
as it is commonly called, is very eco- 
nomical, but it should always be given 
them at night and in the bam, as their 
appetite will then be good for feed in 
the morning. To put them in the barn 
may be thought too much trouble, but 
I think from experience a cow's extra 
mess is lost if given anywhere else. 
It may seem simple, but try the experi- 
ment and you will know for yourselves. 
Common corn is as much better than 
Virginia corn, as English hay is better 



290 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

than Meadow hay, and sweet com is 
better than either. 

The foregoing hints on calf feeding 
are designed for locations where milk 
is worth three cents per quart or more. 
Those who live far back from the sea- 
board, where milk is worth but little, 
are better judges in their own cases 
than I am. 

To PURCHASERS OF Cows. There 
may be good cows in every breed 
among us. Although I am much 
in favor of native breed, still I would 
not advise the rejection of a cow on ac- 
count of her breed if she carries good 
marks, or give a large price for one on 
account of her breed without those 
marks. 



TRAINING OXEN AND STEERS. 

Every steer should have a name. If 
he has none be sure to give him one 
the first tune he is yoked. Be sure 
and make each one understand . his 
own name and know when you speak 
to him ; and when you do speak, say 
just what y t ou mean. Be just as par- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 291 

ticular in your language with them as 
you would be with children. When 
you tell them to haw-to, or gee-off, be 
sure to make them mind you. Let the 
word " whoa," or any other word you 
may choose to substitute, denote "stop," 
and always make them stop at that, and 
never use it at any other time. If used 
at other times they will not know when 
to stop. A team should stop short at 
the word "whoa;" and they will, if 
they never hear it at any other time. 
Bad results may follow their not being 
accustomed to do so. 

If too lazy or too tired to walk be- 
side your team, never whip them while 
riding, this will make them haul apart. 
When your team is moving just as you 
want to have them, be sure to keep 
your whip and your tongue perfectly 
still. When I see a man doing this I 
know he is more than a middling team- 
ster. Oxen or steers, when going per- 
fectly right, should never be meddled 
with, any more than boys should be 
muttered at when they are doing per- 
fectly right. 

Always have some particular word 
to start your team with. Sly starting 



292 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

word is " come." I always give them 
notice, and when up to the bow and 
ready, I speak the word " come," and 
if either ox does not attend to his busi- 
ness at that word, he is sure to feel the 
whip. I once knew a man, a good 
man, and a good farmer, and I pre- 
sume that he thought he knew how to 
drive a team as well as any body, but 
he never handied his off ox. He drove 
the nigh ox and let the off one go as 
he pleased. When driving in hay, and 
when near to the barn-yard, he would 
begin to cry " whoa," " whoa," about 
as fast as he could speak. I once had 
the curiosity to count how many times 
he said it after he arrived at the barn- 
yard bars, and it amounted to one hun- 
dred and thirteen times. Still the oxen 
increased their speed until they got into 
the barn and were prevented from going 
further. Doubtless they would have 
gone in as well if he had not said one 
word, and stopped as well, because they 
could not help it. How can an officer 
command men unless he has a particu- 
lar word for a particular movement? 
and how, I wish to know, can we expect 
oxen to understand better than men ? 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 293 

Steers should never be made to draw 
a load from home first. If they are to 
be put in with other cattle, which I like 
best, let them go from home empty and 
draw a load toward home first. 

George Blanchard, of this town, who 
has been successful in training steers, 
has used bits like a horse's, and by 
this means he has them completely un- 
der his command, and can plow be- 
tween corn and potatoes with either 
nigh or oif ox. 

It is quite convenient to have cattle 
that will back well. This, like every- 
thing else, should be learned young. 
The best way I ever found, was to go 
' directly in front of them and slap each 
at the same time on the nose, with the 
open palm of the hand, and both will 
fly back together. Cattle that are well 
trained, I am satisfied can back more 
than they can possibly draw. By hitch- 
ing their heads next the stone they can 
lift a larger stone out of a hole than 
they can draw out, because the chain 
will draw against the bank the first way. 
This is convenient in loading stone upon 
a drag and in laying stone wall. Let 
me give an illustration. Once two el- 



294 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

derly gentlemen, working on the high- 
way, each with a yoke of oxen, made 
a vain attempt to draw a huge stone 
out of a hole. They then invited Isaac 
Damon, my hired hand, to put on my 
cattle and help them. Damon said, 
" I will not put my team on with yours, 
but take yours off and I will get the 
stone out." They made another trial 
and gave out, the oldest man saying, 
" Let the fool try once." While Da- 
mon was hitching the chain into the 
ring, with the cattle's heads next the 
the stone, the men standing by eyeing 
Mm, he said, " Go along to work, I 
want you to earn ninepence while I 
draw out this stone." 

These oxen had been so trained to 
the business, that they would actually 
hold down their heads for the chain to 
be fastened. So when he was all ready, 
with their heads as low as would give 
them a good footing on the bank, he 
pronounced an emphatical " back," and 
out came the stone, much to their as- 
tonishment. " There boys," said Da- 
mon, " the stone is out." " I would 
not have believed it," said one of the 
farmers, " if I had not seen it myself." 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 295 

I have on a former page recommend- 
ed bulls in preference to steers, yet 
large, well trained oxen, to do heavy 
work on a farm, are decidedly prefer- 
able to small ones. There is not so 
much difference in keeping as is gen- 
erally supposed. To prove the differ- 
ence in the work of large and small 
cattle, I introduce another illustration. 

When acting in the capacity of As- 
sessor in this town, I took special notice 
of the different management of farms, 
and found the two greatest extremes 
that came under my eye, lay close to- 
gether. A youth of fifteen, with a 
large, handy pair of oxen and good 
plough, was turning the furrows over 
straight and clean, on May 1st. Near 
by was a man, with a grown son, using 
a poor plough, with a yoke of cattle 
and a horse. I noticed that the boy 
went three rounds to their two, they 
having frequently to stop and turn the 
mislaid furrows over with their hands. 
Here popped into my mind what Frank- 
lin said in the eighteenth century 

" The man that by the plough would thrive, 
Himself must either hold or drive." 

This man, thought I, was acting up to 



296 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

Franklin's rule, but he was one century 
behind the times, for we live in a day 
of great improvements, and the time 
has already come when 

" He that by the plough would thrive, 
Will find he must both hold and drive." 

Still another illustration. My team 
of six oxen was driven by my son 
Horace to plough some hard and rather 
rocky pasture land, all day, before he 
was five years of age ; and he manag- 
ed the team as well as a man could 
have managed it. Here are two con- 
siderations, Horace was a natural 
teamster, and the team was well train- 
ed. I would here add, than an ox that 
cannot be brought to obedience with 
fair means, at least without beating and 
banging, had better be saved the abuse 
and taken to the slaughter house at 
once. In short, be kind and gentle to 
all, yes, all animals. 
Was not the farmer and son above 
referred to, carrying out the theory, 
" There is no profit in farming," while 
the youth was as strongly maintaining 
the position, "There is profit in farm- 
ing?" 

I once knew a man to hire of his 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 297 

neighbor a pair of noble oxen, and a 
smooth running plough to plough pas- 
ture land with some kill-lamb. After 
using the team and plough a day, he 
took them home on account of the high 
price, $1.50 per day. While using 
this team his son alone ploughed one 
acre per day, and did the work well. 
He then hired a smaller pair at 75 cts. 
per day, and added his horse to make 
out a team, and went driver himself, 
the same son holding the plough, and 
ploughed one-half acre per day, accom- 
plishing in two days more than his son 
performed in one. Thus it cost the 
same amount of money for oxen to 
plough one acre that it cost with the 
first team, and making an entire loss of 
two days of his own labor, two days of 
his horse, and one day of his son's, be- 
sides their board. Didn't he try a two- 
fold experiment, and prove in strong 
terms both theories before alluded to'? 

The first stages of education in all 
animals is highly important. Impress- 
ions first given are more enduring and 
easier made before they come in con- 
tact with long established habits. 
It is fondly hoped that these few 



298 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

suggestions respecting gentleness and 
tact in the education of our beasts, will 
be duly appreciated, pondered and put 
in practice. 

To BREAK A COLT TO CARRIAGE, WHO 

IS ALREADY HARNESS-BROKEN. Put a 

horse in the carriage that the colt is 
acquainted with, and ride two or three 
miles from home. Then change and 
put the colt in the thills and let another 
person ride the horse back forward of 
the carriage and he will be likely to 
travel homewards after the horse with- 
out urging. How many times people 
harness a colt in their own yard and 
beat him to drive him away from home 
against his will, when he knows no 
more what he is whipped for than a 
child in the cradle. 

All young creatures on their first 
trial, should have some inducement to 
urge them on the way you wish them 
to go. If beaten to make them go 
against their will, it increases their 
stubbornness and serves to create a bad 
disposition. Be careful friends, that 
you never let your own bad temper 
serve to create the same bad temper in 
your animals. How many of the best, 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 299 

noble-spirited horses are ruined through 
the impatience and indiscretion of their 
first trainers. 

I once bought a horse that had been 
sold at auction for 015.25. At the 
time he was sold, he was considered 
worthless on account of his contrary 
disposition. He was five years old. I 
called him "Flying Jib." When 1 
first harnessed him, I treated him very 
gently, patted his neck and shoulders, 
breathed in his nostrils, thus making 
him think he had one friend in the 
world. I then jumped into the car- 
riage and away he flew. I owned that 
beast more than one year, and never 
struck him a blow with a whip or a 
stick. To pat him. with the hand I 
found much better, and he always start- 
ed and stopped at bidding, except in 
one instance, when I was met on the 
road by a man who had charge of him 
before I owned him. After speaking 
a few minutes I told the horse to go, 
but he refused. I then sat still, the 
man still continuing talking, and said, 
" Don't you intend to try to start ] " 

" Are you willing to go along ; if 
you will, I think my horse will start 



LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 



along too." He then went on mutter- 
ing in disaffection. 

When fairly out of hearing, I said, 
" Come," and he manifested his usual 
kindness. Who will say that this horse 
did not possess a good memory and an 
inveterate enmity to that man"? He 
never needed a whit of urging to carry 
me to or from Medford, ten miles, in 
one hour. This was his natural gait, 
ten miles per hour. To drive cattle he 
was the very best. If an ox turned 
away or stopped to feed, he would turn 
out after him as quick as a dog, and 
take hold of the high bunch top of 
the rump with his teeth. Cattle would 
soon learn to get out of his way. Al- 
though high-spirited, courageous and 
noble, he was perfectly safe to drive 
day or night, and if I had him now and 
knew he was as good as he was when 
I bought him, I would not take $200 
for him. 

OMNIBUS STORY. One evening I took 
a seat in an omnibus at the Cattle Fair 
Hotel in Cambridge, to ride into Bos- 
ton. The driver, to admit two ladies, 
went into the gutter, but the horses re- 
fused to take him out. After repeated 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 301 

trials a man came up to tender assist- 
ance. The driver became angry and 
answered tartly. The women were 
frightened and one insisted on getting 
out. " If you will keep still," said I, 
" I will get out and that will lighten 
the carnage more than two of you, and 
start the horses if the driver is willing. 
I accordingly descended, and when the 
intruder, so considered, had gone away 
I said to the driver, " May I start your 
horses and not strike them a blow ? " 

" Yes, if you can," was the answer. 

" Then you shall hold the reins, and 
when I say ' Come,' run them into the 
road, but be sure to stop them, and let 
me get in." 

Now that the driver was willing I 
had to make the horses willing too. I 
patted their necks, stroked their faces 
and breathed in their nostrils. Though 
utter strangers, I found them the most 
docile and willing of beasts. Soon 
each would put his nose on my cheek, 
our three faces coming in direct con- 
tact. I then stepped a little forward, 
directly in front, looked them in the 
face, beckoned with both hands and 
said distinctly, " Come," when they 



302 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

started so quick I was obliged to spring 
out of the way. 

" It took you a great while," said 
one of the ladies. 

" Yes, for I first had to mesmerise 
the driver, and make him willing." 

One of the ladies then asked if I 
should return that evening. 

" I have not fully determined," said I. 

" Then I will not go back, if you 
don't go, although I very much wish 
to." 

"If it would be an accommodation 
to you to go home, I will return in the 
9 o'clock omnibus on these conditions: 
That you will allow me the pleasure of 
sitting next to you." This was agreed 
upon, to the merriment of the com- 
pany. 

We met at the hour appointed, and 
I never saw her before or since, but one 
thing I am sure of, she felt safer, as 
any reasonable woman would, in com- 
pany with a man who coaxed horses, 
rather than beat them. 

When the driver came for his fare, 
I offered mine, but he said, " Uncle 
Asa, I shan't take any pay of you to- 
night." 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 303 

" You appear to know me," said I, 
" but I don't know you." 

" Oh, I have known you ever since I 
was a little boy." 

" Then tell me who you are, and per- 
haps I shall know your father." 

When he told his name, " Oh," said 
I, "I knew your father, and grand- 
father and great-grandfather, Captain 
John Harnden, the very man who used 
to come when I had a broken leg and 
tell me pleasing stories." 

To the young I would say, when 
you come in contact with old people, if 
possible make yourself known to them, 
especially if you have reason to think 
they have been acquainted with your 
parents. It is a satisfaction to see the 
children of their former associates, and 
if you would introduce yourselves, it 
would afford them much pleasure. 
You may sometimes wonder old people 
do not recognize you, but when you be- 
come old yourselves, you can better 
realize the effect of dim vision and 
crowded intellect on the mind of the 
aged. 



304 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 



LICE ON CATTLE. 

It is vain to expect your stock to 
thrive while infected with lice. The 
most simple and effective remedy for 
them is hog's lard. This should be 
rubbed or put around the horns, around 
the ears, between the eyes and nose, 
the whole length of the back, around 
the butt of the tail and on the dew-lap, 
and a little in the hollow back of the 
shoulders, and then let the creature 
stand in the sun. This should be done 
once a week, or oftener if you please, as 
long as a louse can be found. My idea 
is that they eat so much they split open, 
for skins can be found two hours after 
the application. If you have a pen of 
calves and will let a cosset sheep be 
put with them and allowed to sleep in 
the pen, they will have no lice. The 
lice will leave for warmer lodgings on 
the sheep and never quit till they have 
eaten so much of her grease as to kill 
them. Next to lard I would recom- 
mend tobacco wash, which is more 
trouble and likely to expose the ani- 
mal to take cold. Never use unguin- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 305 

turn on any account. So much for 
cure. One tablespoonful sulphur in a 
quart of meal, given once in two weeks, 
is a sure preventative to lice. It is 
good for cattle, horses or hogs. 

DAIRY WORK. 

Where a number of cows are kept, 
it is necessary to set each cow's milk 
by itself, skim and churn it by itself to 
ascertain what kind of butter she makes 
and how long it is in coming. This is 
important to determine what heifers to 
keep for milch cows. 

I once had fifteen heifers who " came 
in" so near together that their calves 
were all taken from them in one day. 
When they had fairly outgrown their 
weaning, each one's milk was set sep- 
arate and the cream churned separate. 
The result was, one heifer's cream came 
to butter in about three minutes, eleven 
of them in ten minutes, and three of 
them from one and a half to two hours. 
The first twelve had butter of a nice 
quality ; the last three gave more milk 
by measure than any of them, but the 



306 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

butter was soft and white. Those I 
sold to a milk-man. Had I kept them 
with the rest and their cream been 
churned together, it is my opinion the 
other heifer's cream would have come 
to butter, and theirs not at all, but pass 
off in the buttermilk. 

One of my neighbors, famed for 
good butter and high prices, found one 
spring that his customers shunned him. 
On inquiring the cause he was told his 
butter would not keep well, after three 
days it could not be eaten. He then 
tried his cows separately, and found 
one cow produced butter that smelt 
badly when first made and when forty- 
eight hours old could not be endured 
on the table. He had expected that 
same cow to be his best dairy cow that 
season. 

One day's cream is a sufficient test, 
and can be easily stirred to butter in a 
bowl. 

MILKING Cows. Cows should be 
milked regularly ; that is at the same 
time in the day, every day. This should 
be done as fast as possible till the last 
stream is pressed from the udder. 

To have all kinds of stock tame, I 



WILMINGTON FABMEK. 307 

deem important ; more especially milch 
cows. For this purpose children should 
be encouraged to feed and play with, 
and lead them when calves. 

BUTTER-MAKING. All butter utensils 
should be kept perfectly sweet and dry, 
that is, pails, pans, and churns should 
be dried before being packed away. 
The milk strainer whether of cloth or 
wire should be dried as soon as possible. 
It should be strained in pans about two 
inches thick as soon as milked and if- 
rich froth remain in the pail a half cup 
of cold water will settle it, which you 
may strain into the milk. Twenty- 
four hours in the hottest weather is 
long enough to let cream remain on 
the milk. If it does not keep sweet 
one day, unless there is thunder, the 
dishes are not sweet. Cream should 
always be stirred daily, but in hot 
weather twice a day, with a stick kept 
in the creampot, and taken off with as 
little milk as possible. Forty-eight 
hours is long enough in any weather 
for cream to stand on the milk, and 
thirty-six generally. Wind should not 
blow hard on milk while setting cream, 
but a draught of air over it greatly facili- 



308 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

tates the rising and helps the quality. 
I should prefer a milk-room with two 
windows, one north, and one west ; 
this last in hot, sunny days I would 
shade with an awning to keep out the 
sun and not obstruct the air. Keep 
cream covered close, I deem stone pots 
preferable, and churned twice a week 
in summer. When taken from the 
churn, no water should be added but 
the buttermilk worked out, and salted 
to liking. After standing till it is cool 
or till the next morning, it must be 
again wrought and a half ounce of fine 
white sugar added to every pound ; then 
weigh and shape for market. The su- 
gar is a preservative and adds to the 
flavor. 

GRAZING. I wish to make a few 
statements showing the benefits of giv- 
ing cows good grazing during summer. 
As I have before said, nothing is so 
good for making butter as good grass. 
A few words to illustrate the difference 
between good and short pasturage. Rid- 
ing one day with a dairy farmer, I said 
to him, " A good cow kept in a first 
rate pasture will be worth $10 more 
than the same cow kept in a meagre 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 309 



pasture, that is, one had better pay 
for a good pasture than accept a poor 
one as a gift." 

" Sheldon, I know there is great dif- 
ference, but I think you are rather 
wild," said he. 

By this time we were passing an ex- 
cellent pasture on our right, in which 
two cows were feeding, and a very poor 
one on the left where three cows were 
trying to feed. 

"Will not those cows make fifty 
pounds of butter each in a season more 
than either of the three others 1 " said I. 

" I think they will," said he. 

" Will not each cow carry into the 
barn-yard $3 worth more than the 
others, and wont they on account of 
their flesh be worth $5 more in the 
fall?" 

"Yes, I think they will," said he, 
" you have made out your case and 
more too." 

Have we not reason to suppose the 
owner of the two cows made a profit 
by farming, while the owner of the 
three could make no profit ? 



310 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 



SHEEP. 

A few sheep may be profitable to 
farmers in this section of country if 
they have a snug pasture, where they 
will not trouble their neighbors. But 
back in New Hampshire and Vermont, 
where butter and milk are less valuable 
than here, they must be quite profit- 
able. In rearing lambs it should be 
kept in mind that if a lamb does not 
get hold of his mother's teat and help 
himself to what nature has prepared 
for him, quickly after he is dropped, 
his life will be short. 

When sheep or lambs are poisoned 
with kill-lamb, so common in New Eng- 
land pastures, a drop or two of warm 
chamber-lye is certain cure. If the old 
dam be so unnatural, as sometimes is 
the case, as to disown her offspring, tie 
her and take the lamb away and carry 
it at stated times to suck, holding her 
the while. Should she still refuse, cuff 
her ears and she will soon choose to let 
him suck and have you keep away. 

For ticks in sheep, I prefer Jaques' 
sheep-wash, or extract of tobacco, to 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 311 

anything else. I have tried it on my 
sheep two different seasons and found 
that it worked admirably, killing all the 
vermin, and the sheep thrived after- 
wards finely. 



HOGS. 

Hogs with proper attention, where 
manure is valuable, may be made the 
most profitable of any stock a man can 
keep on his farm ; but if neglected they 
will run him in debt as fast. The right 
kind of hogs properly tended, will pro- 
duce ten pounds pork from one bushel 
of corn meal, while they may be so 
neglected and scantily kept that they 
consume a bushel of meal and not gain 
a pound. No man can ever get rich 
by buying a creature and starving it. 
Hogs are a kind of stock that will not 
do for a farmer to say he will keep a 
certain number, let circumstances be as 
they will. 

Whenever it is evident from frost or 
other reasons that corn will be high, 
say $2 per barrel, he had better get 
rid of his hogs, for he never can sell 



312 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

pork high, enough to pay the feeding at 
that price. To make them profitable 
be sure and keep the best breed, and 
in a warm pen, with windows to the 
south, and access to the horse manure 
for bed, then they will not need bedd- 
ing every stormy night. 

At the time little pigs come, I prac*- 
tice throwing the sow a bit of salt 
pork ; if she eats it readily give her 
another, and so on till she appears sat- 
isfied. 

To prevent pigs getting squeezed to 
death behind the sow, nail a bit of 
plank, six inches wide, eight inches 
from the floor of the pen on the side 
the sow is most likely to lay. This 
gives room for the pigs to run behind 
her back and not get squeezed. 



HENS. 

The following article on hens is by 
Mrs. E. Carter, of Amherst, N. H. 

" When living in Wilmington, I 
thought to get a little pocket money 
from five hens. I set them on thirteen 
eggs apiece, and they brought out on 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 313 

an average twelve chickens ; many died 
but what lived were tended regularly, 
generally fed before the sun was up, 
oftentimes as soon as out of their coops 
in the gray of the morning. This fact 
of an early breakfast, is of great im- 
portance to the chicks, as they are faint 
in the morning and liable to drabble 
out. I fed them with moist dough 
twice a day ; in the forenoon at twelve 
o'clock, and in the afternoon at three. 
I did not scald the meal, but have since 
found it a great improvement. I kept 
them on Southern corn-meal at fifty- 
eight cents per bushel, and sold them 
oif before July ended, leaving a net 
profit of $11.55 beside the pleasure of 
tending them. I would strongly rec- 
commend a coop for every hen, when 
her brood is young. They should face 
the sun, and be built so tall as not to 
rumple her feathers. This is impor- 
tant. A hen cannot take comfort if 
anything obstructs her plumage ; and 
for mercy's sake, do not keep them con- 
fined day after day, unless in stormy 
weather. They love liberty, and de- 
light to bask and roll in the sun. Some 
convenient place should always be pro- 



314 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

vidcd for them, with ashes to mix with 
the dirt ; it is better for lice than mere- 
ly dry dirt. If there is nothing of that 
kind, little ones are apt to die of lice. 
If the hen and brood are let out the 
second afternoon of their confinement, 
they will not be apt to stray far, and 
return, or be driven to the coop at night, 
and gladly make that their home. Some 
boiled potatoes mixed with chickens' 
dough, I have found many times more 
profitable than all meal. 

I have many times parted the feath- 
ers and cut a slit in the crop of a sickly 
chicken and taken out bad substances, 
once a hard, black bag, sewed it up 
again and the chicken would do well, 
and when picked no trace of stitches 
could be discovered. 

To fatten hens or chickens, they 
should be shut in a dry pen with a 
good perch, and fed with new-made 
corn-meal dough, rather moist, twice 
per day. After eating the dough, corn 
should be added, and other grain for 
change. To add potatoes to the dough 
for change is beneficial, as they tire of 
one kind. Some sweeten with molas- 
ses, but I never found any profit by it, 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 315 

Nine days is quite long enough to keep 
them shut up before killing. No water 
should be used as drink. Where milk 
is not more than three cents per quart, 
you will find your account in wetting 
the dough with new milk every alter- 
nate day. The more variations of 
wholesome food for fattening chickens 
the better. 

In preparing for market, to save 
tearing the skin, begin to pick as soon 
as killed, before motion wholly ceases. 

It is well known that running fowls 
lay more eggs in summer than in win- 
ter. This I consider owing partly to 
a lack of meat or meaty substances, 
which in summer they can help thern- 
selves to, in shape of grasshoppers, 
crickets, bugs, &c. Now, if this lack 
be supplied by meat orts, from the ta- 
ble or otherwise, and they have a warm 
house to perch in, and burnt bone or 
lime constantly by them, with fair wa- 
ter for drink, with some kind of grain, 
either corn, oats, barley, rye, wheat, or 
buckwheat, we may expect, when they 
have rested through the month of De- 
cember, they will give us very near as 
many eggs in winter as in summer. In 



316 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

severe cold weather, carry out hot wa- 
ter for them, they will pay back for the 
delicacy in eggs. A box of ashes to 
roll in should not be omitted. 

I have found it difficult to keep lice 
out of a hen-house that had been long 
used for that purpose ; but found I 
could save the chickens by moving the 
hen and eggs as soon as she wants to 
set, to some other good place and make 
a nice nest of straw or meadow hay, 
either of which are preferable to Eng- 
lish hay. Lice will accumulate if she 
sits in the house, and annoy her so that 
she often leaves her eggs ; should she 
hatch them they would be likely to die 
of lice. For this reason coops are re- 
commended as soon as they hatch. We 
should be as careful to keep our chick- 
ens out of the hen-pen as to keep our 
children out of bad company. A shal- 
low, wooden trough is good for the 
little ones to drink out of in summer. 

From my limited experience in dif- 
ferent breeds, I have found the Black 
Spanish the best layers, and Yellow 
Pennsylvanias' the best for market and 
table purposes. 

Some may object to moving a hen 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 317 

lest being disturbed she refuse to set. 
But if it be done on the first evening, 
taking her up carefully to avoid rump- 
ling her feathers, and holding her gen- 
tly on her eggs till she recognizes them, 
there will be no difficulty in her being 
satisfied with her new home. 

Those who keep their hens shut up 
on account of the depredations they 
commit on the garden, or other places, 
would do well to let them out every 
afternoon at five o'clock, as they will 
not then be inclined to scratch on ac- 
count of their desire to catch insects. 
To keep them shut up in the forenoon 
will secure their eggs, as they usually 
lay before noon. 

Since penning the above I have re- 
ceived from Henry Sheldon, the fol- 
lowing safe and tested remedy for lice : 
One table-spoonful of sulphur to one 
dozen fowls, mixed with their dough. 
Repeat the dose on three alternate days. 
Practice this every two months and 
your fowls will be healthy, and no lice 
will trouble them." 



31 8 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 



CURE FOR HORN AIL, &c. 

Make a bag long enough to reach 
from one horn to the other, and wide 
enough to reach round the horn, with 
a string at every corner. Fill it with 
soft soap and salt mixed, and tie it 
around the horns. When the bag is 
in its proper place it will lay partly for- 
ward and partly back of the top of the 
head. You need not stop to ascertain 
whether the disease be horn-ail or not; 
if your cattle are dumpish or unhealthy 
put it on and it will generally bring 
them to appetite, and surely will do no 
harm. I have frequently tried it, and 
always w T ith good effect. I once owned 
an ox that I kept several years, and 
some years had to apply it two or three 
times. I always let it remain until I 
thought the cure was effected. I have 
noticed the first symptoms of this dis- 
ease to be an inclination to hold the 
head down and a desire to put the nose 
against something. I cannot say which 
has the most salutary effect, the medi- 
cine penetrating through the skin, or 
melting and running down to be licked 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 319 

off the nose and thus taken into the 
stomach. It matters not which makes 
the cure, but in my opinion both act 
together. I consider it a very good 
preventative if applied to a healthy 
creature. 

If you wish your cows to do well at 
the time of coming in, give them a 
mess of oats or rye meal every day, 
awhile beforehand. 

Creatures sometimes swell up. I 
have had oxen that were troubled in 
this way. One ox that was particular- 
ly addicted to it, was so swollen at one 
time, that a straight stick laying on him 
would not touch his back. My remedy 
is Half a teacup full of ground mus- 
tard, half a pint of molasses, half a 
pint hog's lard and a little water, about 
milk-warm, will stir red together, 
put in a glass bottle and turn down the 
throat. Everything given to cattle as 
a medicine should bo milk-warm. Ca- 
ses of obstructions sometimes occur 
when injections become necessary to 
save life. I have had one of this kind 
used with good success : Take half a 
pint of lard, two table-spoonfuls ground 
mustard, and as much gunpowder, warm 



320 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

and mix well, and add two quarts warm 
water. 

If the udder of a cow be swollen or 
inflamed at time of coming in, put a 
table-spoonful of saleratus in a quart 
of warm water, and bathe it therewith. 
It works to a charm. 

For scratches in horses, bathe in 
blubber oil every alternate day, till a 
cure is effected. 



PLOUGHS AND PLOUGHING. 

In my humble opinion there has been 
no radical improvement in ploughs for 
the last thirty years. Far be it from 
me to discourage improvements, but al- 
though I see alterations they do not ap- 
pear to be beneficial. Between the 
year 1800 and 1830, there were great 
improvements in ploughs. . The best 
plough that I ever used was built by 
Dea. Benj. Foster, of this town, in the 
year 1816. This plough was a perfect 
machine in every respect. If it laid 
on the wing when you started the team, 
the first motion would cause it to come 
up square on its bottom. In common 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 321 

grass ground it would turn a furrow 
sixteen inches wide and lay it over so 
neatly that if a man could see neither 
centre nor outside, it would trouble 
him to tell which way the furrows were 
turned. Where there were neither 
roots nor stones, it would run the whole 
length of the furrow without holding. 
Put it into an old corn field, and walk 
beside your team, and it would run 
from side to side, splitting the hills 
without your touching it, as well as any 
plough could possibly do it by being 
guided. Out of $300 worth of ploughs 
that I have owned since, this was the 
only one that I ever found that would 
do it. I do not know the weight of 
this plough, but wish I did. Of one 
thing I am certain, it was not more 
than half as heavy as the ploughs we 
now use, that will turn a furrow of the 
same width. 

The next best plough I ever owned 
was made by Warren, of North Dan- 
vers. This had a rolling cutter and 
run easy for the team, being a light 
plough in proportion to the furrow it 
cut. The great error plough makers 
have fallen into within the last thirty 



322 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON ! 

years, is by increasing the weight so 
much it over balances every other im- 
provement. It is worth one mill for a 
team to carry one pound a day. Now 
if a plough be fifty pounds heavier 
than need be, there is five cents loss 
every day in carrying that weight, be- 
sides the ploughman's extra labor in 
throwing it round at every corner, and 
have thought ever since my leg was 
broken, that was worth ten cents extra. 
If plough builders would give us any 
improvement in ploughs, I beg them 
to make them lighter. 

Cutters to all ploughs should be so 
made as to cut a little under on the 
land side. By that means the furrows 
can be dropped in flat. I would not 
have a man plow grass land and lap 
the furrows, if he would do it for noth- 
ing. The disadvantage of tilling that 
year would more than over-balance 
the cost of plowing. 

Depth of plowing should vary ac- 
cording to circumstances. Land should 
never be plowed very deep the first 
time. Land five inches below the sur- 
tace on virgin soil is softer and lighter 
than ever afterwards. I learned this 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 323 

when a boy, by observing when break- 
ing new land the oxerfs feet who trod 
in the furrow would settle in deeper 
than in an old field. 

If you have but little manure be sure 
and not plow too deep, from five to 
seven inches; but if manure is abun- 
dant you may plow from eight to nine 
inches with profit. 



SWALE LAND. 

There is a kind of swale land gener- 
ally covered with alders, which is ex- 
cellent for grass if rightly managed. 
Frequently on examination, white sand 
may be found within two inches of 
the surface. If so, never plough it. 
Cut the alders close to the ground and 
burn them in the month of August ; 
sow on grass seed ; spread on plenty of 
compost manure, a great part of which 
may be dirt ; use a brush-harrow un- 
sparingly, and next July you may ex- 
pect a noble crop of herd's grass and 
red-top, taking it for granted you sowed 
that kind of seed. In haying time 
there will most probably be some alder 



324 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

sprouts that the scythe will readily take 
off, and the stoclf the next winter will 
not object to them at all, and likely 
they will be the last that will spring 
up. This land will ask for a little 
grass-seed about every five years, and 
top dressing at the same time. I have 
no doubt one-half the manure made 
from this grass will, by composting, 
keep the land highly dressed, giving 
you the privilege of selling one-half 
the crop. I have no doubt but that in 
this way your land will yield a good 
crop more years in succession than I 
have lived. This is the most profitable 
way of raising English grass I have 
ever found. 



EECLAIMING SWAMP LAND. 

The first object is to drain it. Dig 
a central ditch, and one on each side. 
At the down-stream end, dig a ditch 
from the side ones into the central one. 
After draining, the main surface will 
settle, the old harrock grass will die, 
and in about one year it will be in a 
fit condition to clear the wood and 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 325 

bushes away, which should be done by 
cutting the roots as tkey become prom- 
inent. It is not profitable to do this 
till one year after drainage. Don't be 
too particular about getting all the old 
settlers out, but plant with potatoes 
without manure ; they will thrive well 
among the roots in close proximity to 
a stump, which time will loosen with 
each revolving year. Avoid cross dit- 
ches, they are troublesome in plowing. 
If the swamp land is good it will bear 
better potatoes two years without than 
with manure. The farmer can judge 
when the land wants manure, by the 
length of the potatoe vines. If they 
are six or seven feet long, there is no 
need of manure ; if only four feet, put 
some manure in the hill. 

In tilling this virgin soil, it will be 
discovered that the surface is the best. 
My manner of planting is to deposit 
the seed on the top and hoe dirt upon 
them. As I continue to till, I go deep- 
er in order to bring up new soil. I 
sometimes plant several years before I 
plough a furrow. I cannot say how 
long it will hold out, but I have a 



326 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

piece which I planted eight years that 
yields a satisfactory crop. 

This kind of land will bear good 
herd's grass, &c., four years, after that 
wild grasses come in plentifully. Po- 
tatoes grow here of good quality, but 
grass, although very handsome, has not 
the sweetness of upland hay. It ought 
then to be ploughed, and grass seed 
sown again, or potatoes planted, and at 
every ploughing I would attempt to 
strike a little deeper than before. 

Mud from ditches, such as mention- 
ed above, is superb to spread on the 
land among young apple trees in the 
fall, and plow in, in the spring. 



RAISING CORN, POTATOES AND 
GRASS. 

These three articles are classed to- 
gether because the good farmer's ob- 
ject is, while he raises the two first to 
produce the third. Let us suppose an 
acre of ground, well adapted to all 
these, but has been in grass so long 
that it produces only from ten to fifteen 
hundred weight to the acre. I would 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 327 

plough the land in August, if the soil 
be suitable, eight or nine inches deep. 
If you intend to lay it down after the first 
crop of corn is taken off, put on all the 
manure it will need for seven years, 
and spread on the ground. Then run 
a light plow lengthwise of the furrows, 
as deep as you can and not disturb the 
sod. This work should be finished in 
September, and the land rest through 
the winter. In the spring you may 
harrow, or cross-plough as you choose ; 
then mark the land in rows both ways 
three and a half feet apart for corn- 
planting four kernels to the hill is 
suificient. Corn should always be hoed 
three times and more rather than let it 
get weedy. The weeds should be kept 
down at any rate, and if this is done 
the plough or cultivator will do most of 
the work ; the hoeing labor is but light. 
I can testify from experience that no 
man can make a profit by raising weeds. 
Be sure and plant early corn, and if 
you are going to sow down, cut up the 
corn, stalks and all, as soon as it is 
fairly out of the milk. Shock it in the 
field, taking up as little ground as you 
can. Then plow, but without disturb- 



328 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

ing the old sods ; they have a duty to 
do to the coming grass crop, where 
they are. When ready sow one peck 
of herd's grass and one bushel red-top 
to the acre. You will be under the 
necessity of leaving narrow strips where 
the shocks are, but these you must pre- 
pare and sow as soon as you can. 

Now if you have put fifteen cords of 
manure to the acre and followed these 
directions, you may expect from seventy 
to one hundred bushels of corn to the 
acre, and a noble lot of corn-fodder ; 
and an average of two tons of hay to 
the acre for the first four years ; one 
and a half tons for the next two years, 
and if not convenient to plough again 
then, you need not be afraid of its being 
poorer than when first ploughed for 
three years more. 

ANOTHER WAY OF RAISING CORN AND 
POTATOES. Let the cornhills remain 
till spring. Drop potatoes on to the 
ground directly between the hills, then 
throw manure on to them ; take a pair 
of oxen or a horse and split the hills, 
two furrows in a row, throwing the dirt 
on to the potatoes. A man should 
walk over the ground and re-cover if 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 329 

necessary, or hoe off if a surplus re- 
mains. A few days before they show 
themselves above ground, drag a brush 
harrow crosswise over the ground; this 
will disturb the weeds and give the pota- 
toes a chance to get ahead of these 
dwellers on the sod. When ready to 
hoe, plough crosswise the furrows and 
then follow with the hoe. Twice tend- 
ing is all that is generally needed, for 
it is always injurious to work among 
them after the vines spread. In this 
way you will be likely to get from two 
to three hundred bushels to the acre. 
This mode I learned from a man in 
Connecticut, when I was teaming hops 
to New York. It may be thought by 
some a slovenly way, but my word for 
it, it is the cheapest, easiest and most 
profitable way that I ever knew potatoes 
raised on upland. After the crop is 
taken off the land will be ready to sow 
with grass. 

A DAY'S WORK. When I arose in 
the morning the manure was in the 
barn-yard, the potatoes lay in the bam 
uncut, and the ground lay in Indian 
hills just as the corn was taken from it 
the fall before. I commenced opera- 



330 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

tions with. Daniel Eames, who loaded 
and teamed out all the manure, laying 
it in heaps ; while I with three small 
children, (the youngest not five years 
old), dropped the potatoes, laid on the 
manure, and covered by splitting the 
hills. From that day's work I realized 
over five hundred bushels of potatoes. 
I have ever been in favor of this mode 
of raising potatoes, no matter how hard 
the ground is under them. 

Two farmers, well known to me, and 
to each other, planted each a patch of 
corn on land much infested by witch- 
grass. One plowed his ground just 
before planting, then gathered up what 
grass was handy into bunches and 
burned it. As soon as the corn was 
out of the ground and would possibly 
admit of hoeing it was ploughed and 
hoed. And this process was continued 
every week for seven successive weeks. 
I have heard the owner say that when 
hoeing it passers-by would say, " what 
are you hoeing that corn for, it don't 
need it?" His answer, was, " I don't 
mean it shall this summer." In con- 
sequence of stirring the ground so 
often and keeping the grass in subjec- 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 331 

tioii the crop came forward and matured 
early, and was a most beautiful crop 
of sound corn. 

The other man cleared off the witch 
grass after ploughing as did the former, 
and treated it in other respects equal 
till the corn was planted. The first 
hoeing was put off till the grass cov- 
ered all the surface as high as the corn, 
and hoed but twice in the season. He 
observed to me that he thought it cost 
him as much labor to hoe his twice as 
it did his neighbor to hoe his seven 
times, but not so much to plough it. In 
September it was thought that this field 
was about two weeks behind the other, 
and an early frost coming, there was 
not much sound corn; mostly hog-corn. 

If you want a good crop of corn, 
stir the ground often till the weeds 
have done coming up. A moment's 
reflection will show the difference in 
tending an acre where the weeds are 
ten inches high, and where they are 
just peeping from the ground. In 
some sections tending only twice is 
practiced ; and those who practice it 
generally hoe late, after the weeds are 
grown, and with as much labor as would 



332 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

tend the same ground three times in 
the proper season, and secure a better 
crop. In this case the old maxim is 
verified : " A stitch in time saves nine." 



KAISING ROOTS. 

Old pasture land is preferable for 
nearly all kinds of roots. It should be 
ploughed the previous August, and will 
not be so subject to weeds or worms 
as old fields. Many times half the 
labor is thus saved. 

For rutabagas no matter how sandy 
the land is. The best crop I ever raised 
was on blowing sand. I furrowed quite 
deep and applied the rawest manure 
from the barn cellar. After it was 
placed in the bottom of the furrows, a 
light sprinkling of sand was hauled 
over it ; I then sowed the seed with a 
machine, about the last of Jnne, and 
realized the best crop of bagas I ever 
raised or ever saw. I had eighty-two 
barrels on one-fourth of an acre. Sold 
them to one man for sixty-seven cents 
per barrel. Rutabagas depend almost 
entirely on the manure. As to soil, 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 333 

there was none there, but the heavens 
gave water that kept them well sprink- 
led and the manure well soaked. 

Parsnips and carrots require a good 
loamy soil, with old rotten manure well 
sprinkled and the manure well mixed 
with the soil. I think they grow larger 
and longer on ridges, than on level sur- 
face. 



FOREST TREES. 

To make an oak growth profitable, 
it should be cut once in twenty-five 
years. If the owner be paying inter- 
est money and wood turns well, he had 
better not let it stand over twenty-two 
years. For the benefit of the sprouts 
that come after, it should be cut some 
time when the days are shorter than 
the nights. The stumps should be cut 
very close to the ground for several 
reasons : 

1st. Because you get more wood. 

2d. It is much better getting over 
the land with sled or wagon. 

Last, but not least by any means, 
sprouts coming from a stump near the 



334 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

ground, thrive much better than those 
starting from a stump six inches above 
the ground. 

If you cannot bend your own back, 
nor persuade your chopper to do so, 
you had better cut your trees in early 
fall so that the stump may dry by the 
sun and die on the top, and the sprouts 
start out near the ground. 

I once sold a lot of standing oak 
wood at auction. Aged men that were 
there said it was so thrifty that it was 
a sin to cut it. It amounted to $75 per 
acre. The whole growth was taken 
away before the first day of April. 
No cattle were allowed on it for four 
years. I would rather a man would 
drive hungry cattle through my mow- 
land, than to drive the same number 
through my sprout-land. 

Twenty-two years from the time of 
the auction, in looking over the lot, I 
made up my mind that it would fetch 
$50 per acre, if put up at auction. It 
was sold at $65 per acre. This was 
three and a half years ago, and there 
is now as fine a growth of sprouts on 
it as I ever saw on any land. 

Beckoning $75 for twenty-five and 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 335 

a half years, at six per cent., compound 
interest, amounts to 340.45 ; and $65 
for three and a half years, at same rate, 
amounts to $79.25 ; making a total of 
$419.70 per acre. Drawing conclu- 
sions from a lot that stood near by, and 
larger than mine at the time of the 
first auction, mine would at this time 
be worth not more than $125 per acre 
had the first growth stood. I would 
particularly say here, that sprouts com- 
ing from a young growth are worth 
more in twenty years than those com- 
ing from an old growth are in forty. 

A lot of wood is now standing with- 
in my knowledge, that I recollect a man 
offered $200 per acre for the top in 
1812. I have often passed that lot 
and never noticed a tree cut from it 
from that day to this. Had this offer 
been taken and the money put at com- 
pound interest at this time, it would 
amount to the amazing sum of $3817 
per acre, and another growth would 
have sprung up fifty years old, proba- 
bly worth $83 per acre, swelling the 
sum to $3,900 per acre. 

Last week I looked over the same 
lot, and cannot call it worth more than 



336 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

$300 per acre, showing a dead loss of 
$3,600 per acre. I have been told 
that there are ten acres in the lot, and 
if so there is $36,000 loss to the owner 
by not turning his property. 

Young men, don't be alarmed at this 
statement ; figures do not lie. 

When cutting off an oak lot, if you 
wish to clear the land for pasturing, let 
the brush lay on the ground until July, 
then burn it as it lays. If any sprouts 
or bushes remain after the fire, cut 
them all; rake everything into piles 
and burn them. Sow one bushel of 
rye to the acre, one peck of herd's 
grass seed, one bushel red top, and a 
few pounds of white clover. Harrow 
in well, and be sure that this operation 
is performed by the first of August. 
Winter rye should be on the ground 
nearly one year, I know from experi- 
ence, and the grass will do much bet- 
ter. By this method you may expect 
a good crop of grain, and the straw is 
no small item, selling for about three- 
fourths the price of English hay, which 
has been the case for several years. 

If the land is strong, you will proba- 
bly choose to mow two or three years 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 337 

before pasturing it. This I like, be- 
cause the scythe will cut off the young 
sprouts at the very time they ought to 
be cut. 

Whenever a pine lot is cut off, and 
another growth is desired, be sure to 
have some of the largest trees on the 
highest ground to seed the land. A 
pine growth will follow a pine growth 
quicker if you burn the boughs and 
sow rye first, without grass. 

The seed of the pitch-pine matures 
the first year ; white-pine seed does not 
till the second this I am certain of, 
and if a man should tell me that it did 
not till the third, I would not dispute 
him. An abundance of them start but 
few come to maturity. 

To save pine seed pick the cones 
from the tree immediately after the first 
hard frost, put them in a cask and set 
them under cover. The seed is about 
as big as an apple seed, each having 
two wings. And if the cones remain 
on the tree, as fast as they open the 
wind will waft them away. 

A growth of pitch-pine should be 
cut off between twenty-five and thirty 
years. White-pine will make beauti- 



338 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

ful timber in about fifty years. The 
value of white-pine timber is increased 
by cutting at the last of August or the 
first of September, and pealing the 
bark off. Then no worm will ever 
touch it. If I were building a house, 
I would not take the gift of timber cut 
in June ; it will powder post, depend 
upon it. 

It sometimes occurs that land, where 
you would like to have pines come in, 
is swarded over with grass so as to pre- 
vent the seed from germinating. This 
can be remedied by going over it with 
a plough, and turning it a little to the 
left a narrow strip may be cut out that 
will answer all purposes. 

A man owning several acres of pine 
wood-land, in anticipation of cutting off 
a piece at a time would do well to run 
a plough wherever he expects to need 
a partition fence, and the seed will come 
in rapidly. Should nature leave gaps 
in her sowing, the defect may be easily 
remedied by small pines. 

A reliable friend who owned several 
hundred acres pine land assured me he 
had seven miles of this fence, what he 
called " living pine." He said it cost 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 339 

him but little pains and care, and he 
would not exchange it for the hest rail 
fence, or pine plain, that could be 
found. 

KING TREE. At one time I bought 
a quantity of standing wood on Tay's 
East Mountain, the top of which is 
crowned with a bason of water, never 
d r y ? of Loammi Baldwin, Esq., with 
a specified time, to clear it off. At the 
time of cutting and clearing he was 
absent in one of the Carolinas, engi- 
neering a dry dock. Knowing the 
Baldwins to be men of curious mind, 
very fond of landmarks, I thought, 
while lying in bed, that if Mr. Bald- 
win were at home he would redeem a 
prominent white-pine tree which stood 
on the brow of the hill. I came to the 
conclusion that the tree should not be 
cut till he returned. The first time I 
saw him, he said, " Sheldon, I have 
been past the mountain lot and noticed 
one tree standing there ; why didn't 
you take that away? In every other 
particular you have cleared the lot ac- 
cording to agreement." I told him the 
fact, that in my night-musings I had 
thought he might value that tree stand- 



340 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

ing, more than its real worth in dollars 
and cents. 

"How much is that tree worth?" 
said he. 

" Five dollars," I replied. 

Whereupon he took from his pocket 
$25 and gave it to me, saying, " That 
is to pay you for thinking for me when 
I don't think for myself. Last winter, 
when at the South, I awoke one night 
and thought of that King tree. I wish- 
ed that I had reserved it, and would 
gladly have given twice its value, but 
never expected to see it again. Now I 
would not take a hundred dollars for it, 
not that it will be worth that in cash, 
but because it will afford me pleasure 
in riding over the neighboring towns, 
to see that landmark and recall the 
pleasant thoughts associated with it." 

No man can calculate the cords of 
wood that will grow from the seed of 
that tree, standing as it does on an ele- 
vation where the wind fans it from all 
directions. 

I would here intimate to the young, 
never to be in haste to fell a tree that 
you have reason to believe another per- 
son would take comfort in having stand. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 341 

When once down it cannot be replaced 
again. I have known lasting ani- 
mosities created between families and 
friends by the simple but significant 
fact of cutting a favorite tree. Sure I 
am there is not a prominent tree in the 
country but that some one would not 
like to see it fall. 

On the day that I was seventy years 
of age, I set an elm tree, and the day 
that I was seventy-one I set fifteen, all 
of which are alive and doing well. I 
make it a rule, not to be broken, to set 
one or more trees on every birth-day, 
which occurs at the very best season to 
transplant trees. 

Walnut trees are the most difficult 
to transplant and make live, by reason 
of the tap-root running down like a 
parsnip. If you can select one grow- 
ing on a ledge where there is no length 
of tap-root, it can be transplanted with- 
out trouble, but be sure and place the 
same side to the South that stood there 
in its natural state. 

White-pine trees can be safely trans- 
planted the first days hi June. My 
friend, Dea. Levi Parker, assured me 
that he set one hundred some years 



342 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON ! 

since, and only three died ; ninety-seven 
are thriving. 



APPLE TREES. 

Nurseries should be planted on high 
land, free from stone. In the fall is 
the best time for planting them. I 
like to have the rows so far apart as to 
have a row of roots grow between 
them. The land should not be very 
highly manured ; if it is, the trees 
will not acquire as many roots as they 
need after transplanting. If they grow 
on land free from stone they can be 
taken up much easier, and without 
bruising the roots so badly. As soon 
as the trees are big enough, bud them 
in the month of August. After one 
year's growth from the bud, the old 
stock should be cut off in the follow- 
ing spring. Two years after budding, 
either fall or spring, is the right time 
to transplant the tree. Three years 
will answer, but I had rather have it 
one year than four. 

Before you take up the tree, tie a 
string to a limb that projects toward 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 

the South, and he sure you set it in 
the same direction in transplanting. 
Many a tree has heen nearly ruined by 
having its North side exposed to the 
hot rays of the sun in July. I had 
rather have five trees set as they grew 
in the nursery, than six turned round. 
If you set an orchard, be sure that 
your land is suitable for it. Hilly land 
with loamy surface and clayish-gravel 
sub-soil is best. Land where walnut 
grows is sure to favor apple trees, and 
you need not be at all afraid to set them 
where barberries grow. 

In early pruning, be sure to leave 
branches where you want them ; if one 
is nothing but a bud it will be a branch 
if the others are cut away. When I 
first commenced rearing an orchard, I 
was advised to leave three branches 
only to form the tree. Experience has 
taught me that five is much better, for 
with only three branches the wind has 
often an opportunity to strike sidewise 
of a branch, sometimes to the injury of 

the tree. 

A forked tree you had better cut ott 
and graft anew or throw away, as it is 
not worth raising. The wind will split 



344 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

it and cause you to lose your labor. 
I am not fond of setting trees so far 
apart as many farmers are. Thirty 
feet is quite enough. I would rather 
have them only twenty-five than to have 
them thirty-five. Wind has more pow- 
er where trees are set a long distance 
apart, than where nearer together. The 
limbs of trees in an orchard will gen- 
erally meet even where the trees are 
set forty feet apart; and a bushel of 
apples on a limb twenty feet from the 
trunk of the tree will strain it more 
than the same number would at fifteen 
feet. When the orchard is first set, it 
is a good thing to mulch them with 
straw or poor meadow hay, laying on 
some stones to keep it from blowing 
away. This is quite indispensable if 
the season be dry. 

TRIMMING TREES. The very best 
time to trim a tree is the day the blos- 
soms begin to open. But this lasts 
only a few days, and in a busy season, 
and if put off until it is a little too late 
will prove an injury, therefore I cannot 
recommend it. The best time that I 
can recommend is near the time when 
the sun crosses the line, either in March 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 



345 



or September. Sometimes the Spring 
is so very forward there is danger of 
trimming in the last days of March. 
In proof of this let me say, that I have 
one orchard which I have allowed to 
be trimmed in the month of March 
only, and must say I know of no health- 
ier trees in the County of Middlesex. 
In cutting off the limb, you should be 
careful not to cut the seam that joins 
the limb to the tree, as this course will 
make a larger wound and will require 
a longer time to heal. 

I would advise every young farmer 
to select a tree and cut off a limb every 
month in the year, and thus he will 
find by experiment how the sap works 
and which time is best. This should 
be noted in a book to avoid mistake. 

Young trees should be washed with 
a corn broom, with strong soap suds 
and ashes, to prevent the first start of 
moss, as soon as the frost is out of the 
ground in the Spring, and again in 
October. This will prevent lice and 
help to keep out borers. They should 
be carefully looked over before the 
leaves start, to take off every caterpil- 
lar's egg. 



346 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

After an orchard is set, I like to 
plant corn. Care should be taken to 
row both ways, and every tree take the 
place of a hill that they may not ob- 
struct ploughing. In a few years I 
like to plant squashes between them. 
Should you choose to lay down to grass, 
do not let it remain so more than three 
years lest the trees become stunted. 

Black, swamp mud, spread on an 
orchard in the Fall and ploughed in 
and mixed with the soil in the spring, 
is excellent for the trees. 

In gathering apples, place the thumb 
against the stem so as to break it at the 
first joint. A good faithful boy is bet- 
ter to pick apples than a man. The 
lighter he is the better, if he under- 
stands his business. Shoes or boots 
with nails in the heels, should not be 
used. Apples should be gathered be- 
fore the ground freezes at night ; pack- 
ed in a cask ; set in a cool place, and 
kept from air as much as possible. 

The most profitable apple to raise in 
large quantities, is the Baldwin. They 
are a sure bearer once in two years, 
and always sell for ready cash at mar- 
ket price. They ripen so that all can 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 



347 



De gathered at once, and as soon as 
they are ready for market, the market 
is generally ready for them; and the 
farmer will receive more net profit from 
a Baldwin tree than from any other, 
compared with the expense. 

The origin of the Baldwin apple has 
been mnch disputed. Many are will- 
ing to claim it, but from authentic sour- 
ces, I have gained the information that 
it was a wild tree taken from the woods 
in the South part of Wilmington, on 
what is called Wood-hill, by William 
Butters, and transplanted and set about 
fourteen rods from his back door. From 
that tree Colonel Loammi Baldwin cut 
scions for his own orchard, from which 
originated the name. On that point 
there was so much dispute, I felt an 
interest in knowing, if possible, where 
it was first produced. The first evi- 
dence was gained from James Butters, 
who lived on Wood-hill. He informed 
me that the tree was taken from land 
of his, and frequently urged me to go 
and see the hole where it was taken 
out of ; and the last time I well remem- 
ber his words, " You will be sorry if 
you don't." His words proved true. 



348 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON ! 

I once heard that the tree was claim- 
ed in North Tewksbury, and made a 
journey up there to see what proof 
could be afforded of it. I was show- 
ed a tree they called a Baldwin, but it 
bore little resemblance to the Baldwin 
trees of Wilmington. I know of no 
better way to describe it, than by call- 
ing it a two-story tree. I did not see 
any of the fruit, nor could I find a man 
in the neighborhood that was able to 
give any information as to where the 
tree came from. Simeon Butters, son 
of James before mentioned, showed 
me, as near as he could recollect, where 
the tree stood when it bore fruit ; and 
at another time Walter Butters showed 
me the same, and they did not vary 
four feet. Likewise the widow of 
Loammi Butters identified the same 
spot. I asked all three of the last 
mentioned persons what became of 
that tree. The first said, " The tree 
was thrifty when I went to live in Lynn 
eight years ago, but when I came back 
I never noticed it afterward." The 
second could tell nothing about it. I 
then repaired to the woman and asked 
her, " Can you tell me what became 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 



349 



of that tree r' "I guess I can," she 
replied. " The day that I was married 
there came up a shower just before 
twelve o'clock, and lightning tore that 
tree all to pieces." 

The Red Astrican grows very hand- 
some and thrifty ; the apple is first ripe 
about the tenth of August, and is con- 
tinually ripening for five weeks. They 
require picking as often as once in two 
days. This apple is not suitable for 
eating but for about four days, conse- 
quently it must be carried to market 
often. At the present time they bring 
a good price on account of the scarcity. 
The Gravenstein is an excellent ap- 
ple for eating ; everybody likes the fla- 
vor of it. It is scarce in market and 
commands a high price. 

The Hubbardston-Nonesuch is a very 
good apple ; some prefer it to the Bald- 
win, but it will not keep as long. 

The Blue Pearmain grows large, but 
is not a good winter apple, and is not 
so profitable to raise as the Baldwin. 

The Maiden's Blush is a great bear- 
er and grows fair. It is a first rate pie 
apple. . 

The Early Sweetbow grows lair and 



350 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON t 

large, and is a first rate eating apple. 

The Orange Sweet grows in clusters 
of four and six, touching each other. 
The tree is rather small in size, with 
upright branches, and bears largely. 
They ripen the last of August. 

The Striped Sweet is first rate for 
eating or baking, and sell high. 

The Green Win tei -Sweet is an ex- 
cellent bearer ; very fair ; small core ; 
good for use all winter ; keep till June, 
and the worms never trouble them. 

Wine apple ; tree handsome ; thrifty 
grower ; upright branches ; fruit small 
in size, but fair, and red from skin to 
core. 

Iron apple ; small in size ; very 
hard ; never fit to eat raw ; good for 
pies and sauce when one year old, and 
will keep till September. 

The best time to cut scions is the 
day you want to set them. But this is 
not always convenient; in that case 
they should be buried in a box of loam. 
The first new moon in May is the best 
time for grafting. If you hire grafting 
done, be sure to employ an honest man. 
I once employed men who set by the 
scion, and when I was absent they were 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 351 

seen to cut scions from the same tree 
and set them. When the trees bore . 
fruit, the truth was told. 

CRANBERRIES. 

Incidental experience has shown me 
that cranberries can be cultivated to 
good advantage. In several places 
where sand-hills have been removed 
for the purpose of making embank- 
ments on railroads, the sand was taken 
down as low as could be for water, and 
afterwards freshets had washed cran- 
berries on from the meadows above. 
In three years they begun to bear, and 
I know that, one year, the crop was 
worth $100 per acre on the vines. If 
one wishes to cultivate cranberries, the 
surest way would be to select a spot on 
a brook that never fails, and have it 
graded as level as a salt marsh. Then 
make a dam above and one below to 
let on water and take it off at pleasure. 
This process will sometimes be needed 
in a cold night in June, and a dry time 
in July or August to soak the ground 
and give growth to the berry and des- 



352 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON: 

troy worms, and in cold nights in Sep- 
tember to keep off frost, that they may 
ripen on the vines. In these circum- 
stances, I think a man may be as snre 
of a crop of cranberries as of a crop 
of corn. A brook privilege being se- 
cured, the best location is where a 
sandy plain joins a meadow, and in 
lowering one you raise the other. Sand 
is the best manure for Cranberries. 
The vines should be covered with two 
feet of water through the winter sea- 
son to prevent the iT5e from adhering to 
the ground and taking it up. 



CONCLUSION. 

Before I bring this volume to a close 
let me say a word or two upon a sub- 
ject which has for many years engaged 
my attention. I do not intend to bore 
my readers with anything lengthy ; I 
merely wish to give them my opinions 
upon a subject which interests us all. 
The motives which lead me to do this, 
need not necessarily be given, therefore 
I will proceed. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 353 

The doctrine of "total depravity" 
has been preached and expatiated upon 
for generations and generations, when 
it had nothing, to my mind, for a foun- 
dation. I cannot so far forget my ob- 
ligations to God as to suppose for a 
moment that he is the author of a to- 
tally depraved being. Men may sm, 
and to human eyes appear totally de- 
praved, but to the all-seeing eye of God 
I cannot think they so appear. I be- 
lieve God to be the creator and father 
of all mankind ; I believe him to be 
holy, just, wise and pure, perfect m 
everything ; I believe he created man 
after his own image and in his own 
likeness ; but I cannot believe that God 
has created a world full of children 
without one particle of goodness in any 
of them. If you were digging for 
gold and had taken a handful of earth, 
expecting by washing it to find gold, 
but which did not contain any,- you 
might wash it all away and you would 
find no gold. Now if man is totally 
depraved there can be nothing in him 
worth saving. This I do not, I cannot, 
I will not believe. We are God's re- 
bellious children, yet he knows how to 



354 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

separate the gold from the dross. What 
proportion of us will come forth as gold, 
God only knows. Do right and trust 
the event. Forget not that Christ said, 
" By their works ye shall know them." 
In the Bible we read, " And the books 
were opened ; and another book was 
opened, which is the book of life ; and 
the dead were judged out of those 
things that were written in the books, 
according to their works." Here, cer- 
tainly, we find great encouragement to 
live a good, moral life. How shall we 
do this ? My friends, young and old, 
if you have not already done it, adopt 
the rule to-day, to do unto others as 
you would have them do unto you. 
Follow this rule, and you will soon love 
God, and he will be sure to love you. 
It may not make you rich, but my word 
for it, it will make you happy. Some 
may say, that there are none that do as 
they would be done by, but this I will 
not admit. I have been acquainted 
with mankind more than seventy years, 
and have come to this conclusion, that 
the best of men do in their daily walk 
live near to God, and that there are 
^grades all the way down until the worst 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 355 

come so near the devil that it is hard 
to discriminate between them. I have 
been, for a certain reason, watching 
the conduct of men for more than thir- 
ty years in order to find as many as I 
could that lived up to this rule, and I 
feel it my duty to set before my readers 
the names of some of them, that others 
may be encouraged to do likewise. 

Accordingly I publish a list of the 
names of men who I defy mankind to 
prove by truth-telling witnesses, before 
a righteous jury, that they ever used 
another man worse than they would, be 
willing to be used in exchange of con- 
ditions : 

Ephraim Hastings, died at Nashua, 
N. H. ; Lambert Hastings, St. Johns- 
bury, Vt. ; Cyrus Skinner, Lyrne, N. 
H. ; Dexter Fay, Southborough, Amos 
Hill, Jr., Belmont, John Buckman, 
Stoneham, Charles Goddard, Win- 
chester, Isaac Flint, North Reading, 
Ebenezer D. Batchelder, North Read- 
ing, Jonathan Batchelder, North Read- 
ing, Marshall Symmes, Winchester, 
Charles S. Storrow, Lawrence, Eben 
King, Eben Upton, South Danvers, 
Edward Parker, Reading, Capt. David 



356 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

Graves, North Reading, Patrick T. 
Jackson, Boston, Dea. Henry Putnam, 
Joseph Batchelder, John Batchelder, 
of North Reading, Col. Benj. Jenkins, 
Capt. Benj. Jenkins, Samuel Jenkins, 
Capt. Stephen Abbott, of Andover, 
Dea. John Symmes, Winchester. The 
thirteen last named persons are dead. 
All these men I have known for many 
years, and think there are thousands 
of other good men of my acquantance 
whom I have not proved through pros- 
perity and adversity. Those that I have 
named I have proved, and can bear 
testimony that they are not depraved 
men. What a blessed world this would 
be to live in, if every one would do as 
he would be done by. Now reader, 
do not fall into the error of believing 
that you cannot do right because others 
do not. If a right state of feeling is 
ever brought about, it will be by each 
and every one minding his own busi- 
ness. I hope that you and I shall try 
it, that others may follow. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 357 



LECTURE. 



In the month of February, 1859, I 
was invited by the officers of the 
" Farmer's Club," of North Reading, 
to address them on the subject of 
Farming. I accepted, and delivered 
the following Address, with which I 
close this volume, before the Club, in 
the Town Hall, at that place. 



MR. PRESIDENT, GENTLEMEN AND LA- 
DIES : I have no apology to offer, for 
appearing before you this evening. I 
will only say, that any common man 
ought to feel proud of the privilege of 
standing before the combined wisdom 
and intelligence of the Farmers of 
North Reading, and addressing them 
on a subject of more importance to the 
world than all others. 

When I say farmers, I mean fathers, 
mothers, sons and daughters ; for as 



358 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

no house can stand when divided 
against itself, so no man can farm suc- 
cessfully if his family are not content 
with that occupation. The few re- 
marks that I shall make this evening, 
are not to tell you how to farm, but 

1st. To prove to you that farming, 
with equal system, is the most profita- 
ble occupation pursued within the Uni- 
ted States. 

2d It is the most independent. 

3d It is the most healthy, 

4th It is the most honorable. 

First Farming, with equal system, 
is the most profitable occupation within 
the United States. This you may 
think, is a bold declaration, but if you 
will have patience/ 1 will give you the 
proofs. 

If the country merchant fails in his 
business, he generally owes some of 
the most fore-handed farmers in his 
neighborhood, money that he borrow- 
ed to establish him in his business. If 
the butcher fails, he owes one farmer 
for a pair of fat oxen, another for a 
cow, and still another for a hog. So, 
if the tanner fails, he is indebted to one 
farmer for a load of bark, another for 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 359 

hides, and a third for calf-skins. If 
the carpenter fails, he is indebted to 
one farmer for timber and a second for 
boards. If the shoe manufacturer fails, 
he owes one farmer for a load of wood, 
another for a load of hay, and almost 
every farmer's daughter in the parish 
for binding shoes. Yet with all these 
losses, the farmer still lives; and why ? 
because there is profit in his occupa- 
tion. 

Now, gentlemen, show me a man 
sixty years of age, of good health, good 
habits, and good common sense, who 
has never followed any business but 
that of farming, and I will show you a 
man that the world has never lost one 
cent by. 

Mr. President, I have already stated 
that unless the farmer has the hearty 
co-operation of his family he cannot 
succeed in his business. These ladies 
may inquire how can we increase the 
profits of farming'? To this inquiry, I 
would answer, Ethan Allen understood 
how you could do this. When taken a 
prisoner to England, the nobility there, 
finding that he was a man of good 
sense and information, had him taken 



360 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

into the presence of the ladies that 
they might question him concerning 
the habits of the Americans. Among 
the many questions asked him was 
this: "What time do the ladies of 
America walk out for pleasure ?" His 
answer was, "Anytime when the hens, 
turkeys, geese or ducks need feeding." 
" Do the ladies of America stoop to 
feeding poultry?" they inquired. He 
answered, " The ladies of America 
know how to turn every duty into a 
pleasure." This was the case with the 
ladies at the time of the Revolution, 
and I know from my own observation 
that there are some of the same stamp 
yet. 

A few years ago I noticed in the pa- 
pers an advertisement of a large farm, 
with a heavy growth of wood and tim- 
ber on it, for sale in New Hampshire. 
Thinking that it might be bought at a 
bargain, I went to look at it. A young 
lady answered my knock at the door, 
and informed me that her father was 
absent with the team and would not 
return until evening, " but," said she, 
" if you will state your business, per- 
haps I can assist you." On learning 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 361 

that I wished to go over the farm, tell- 
ing me to wait one moment, she went 
into the house, but soon returned, 
dressed in hat, frock, and boots, and 
we started on our walk. After point- 
ing out three of the boundaries of the 
farm, she told me where I could easily 
find the fourth, " but," said she, " I 
must now go, and tie up the cattle." 
After walking about the farm as long 
as I wished, I met her at the barn. 
She had just finished tying up the cat- 
tle, and invited me to look at the corn. 
This I did, and my guide informed me 
that it had all been measured in the 
ear, and estimated to be four hundred 
bushels shelled corn, and that she and 
her father planted it all, she dropping 
and her father covering. From the 
corn barn we proceeded to the house, 
where it was arranged that I should 
stop over night to see the owner of the 
farm. Our heroine now laid aside her 
farm dress, appearing as neatly dressed 
as any young lady could wish to be, 
and assisted her mother in preparing 
supper. As soon as the team was 
.heard approaching, she again put on 
her frock, and lighting a lantern, went 



362 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

to the barn and helped her father put 
up the team. This done, we all eat 
supper. After clearing away the tea- 
things, my young friend again pre- 
pared to go out, and in answer to her 
father's inquiry where she was going, 
replied, " to feed the oxen." " No, 
no," said he, " I'll go." " No, father," 
she instantly replied, " you are tired, 
you sit still and rest, and let me go," 
and go she did, after which she seated 
herself at her piano and entertained us 
for a while with music. 

Mr. President, if I could mention a 
thousand young women like this in- 
stead of one, which I sincerely wish I 
could, I presume we should not hear of 
one of them being troubled with dys- 
pepsia. 

But there is still another profit in 
farming, that cannot be estimated by 
dollars and cents. It is better calcu- 
lated to improve the mind and morals 
of man than any other occupation. The 
reflecting farmer must see that he is 
a co-worker with God and Nature. 
While he is cultivating his crops, and 
they are growing in the fields, he can- 
not help observing this. When the 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 363 

grass is grown, and man cuts it, nature 
cures it, and God sustains them both. 

Second. Farming is the most inde- 
pendent occupation. No other occu- 
pation can live without it. No ship 
can be laden without the aid of the 
farmer. No cultivated food can be 
raised for man or beast, without his 
labor. Why, ladies, the very silks 
you wear were once the habitation of 
worms, those worms fed on mulberry 
leaves, and the mulberry trees raised 
by the farmer. Not one particle of 
food or raiment can be produced with- 
out his aid. 

It has been said by many that the 
Irish have performed the labor of 
building our railroads. But, Mr. Pres- 
ident, allow me to tell you that more 
than one-half the money the Irish have 
received for labor on railroads has been 
spent for their living, while doing that 
very work, and this living, was pro- 
duced by the farmer. This shows us 
that the farmer has not been backward 
in doing his share toward building all 
the railroads in the United States. 
And who is it, I ask, that now furnish- 
es these railroads with employment? 



364 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

Who produces the horses, cattle, sheep, 
hogs, wheat, rye, barley, oats, potatoes, 
apples, cotton, wool, and almost every 
article that can be mentioned, that are 
daily transported on our railroads ? It 
is the farmer. If the farmer should 
cease to produce cotton, wool, flax and 
hemp, what would become of our fac- 
tories ? 

If a new country is to be settled, 
who is the pioneer? Is it the minis- 
ter? No, for he would starve while 
studying his first sermon. Is it the doc- 
tor? No, for there is no one there 
with whom he could exchange his 
medicine for a dinner. Is it the law- 
yer? No, for he would perish amid 
his law-books. Who, then, is it? It 
is the farmer, who feeds all, and gives 
employment to all. Farmers have it 
in their own power to render them- 
selves happier and more independent 
than they now are. In order to do 
this, they must raise their standard to 
its proper place. The farmers of 
Massachusetts can outvote all other 
ocupations by a large majority. They 
possess the power toelect any man, from 
any occupation, to any office they please. 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 365 

I would not ask them to be domineer- 
ing over any other class of people. I 
am willing that all other classes shall 
have their full share of representation 
in every department of government. 
But have the farmers, in times past, 
looked out to have their share 1 Have 
we not sent to General Court and to 
Congress, too many professional men ? 
Has not this led ministers, doctors and 
lawyers to look down upon the farmer, 
when in reality, if the farmer would 
but assert his rights, they would all be 
obliged to look up to him. 

I could say much more, under this 
head, but enough has already been said, 
I think, to prove that the farmer furn- 
ishes all other classes with food and 
employment. Mr. President, when I 
think of the farmer's position, and 
compare it with all others, it reminds 
me of a story I heard when a boy. 

Three men, travelling together in a 
wild country, became very thirsty, but 
travelled a long time without finding 
any water. At length, however, they 
came to a river, the banks of which 
were composed of a perpendicular ledge 
of stone. Not seeing any way of de- 



366 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

scent, they travelled on until they dis- 
covered a tree growing from a seam in 
the ledge, whose branches extended 
over the water, but were several feet 
above it. After a hasty consultation, 
they came to this conclusion. The 
stoutest man of the three was to climb 
the tree, and taking hold of a branch, 
hang down ; the next stoutest to hang 
by the feet of the first, while the third, 
the lightest of the whole, was to hang 
by the feet of the second, and fill a 
leather bag with water from the stream, 
and bring it up for them to drink. While 
he was filling the bag, the upper one, 
growing tired, says to his comrades, 
" you hold fast, while I let go and spit 
on my hands." 

Now. Mr. President, this shows what 
would be the condition of all occupa- 
tions, if the farmer should cease his 
operations. All would sink together. 

Third. Farming is the most healthy 
occupation. This fact is so well known 
that I need say but a few words under 
this head. The report of deaths in 
this country for past years, speaks more 
plainly than any words of mine can do. 
Yet 1 will give what I think are a 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 367 

* 

few of the reasons why this is so. 
One is, the farmer eats the fruit of 
his own hands ; he knows that what- 
ever food he produces is pure and un- 
adulterated. The children of the farm- 
er drink the pure milk from the farm- 
er's cow. Another is, he follows in 
the fresh furrow of his plow. And 
how often do physicians prescribe for 
their patients this smell of the fresh 
earth. But the farmer's occupation 
supplies him with this. This, how- 
ever, only applies to the male portion. 
Now I will prove that it is the most 
healthy for females. How often we find 
the daughters of professional men and 
mechanics, who would disdain to milk 
a cow, skim a pan of milk, or prepare 
a churning of butter for market, out 
of health, and on consulting a physi- 
cian, are told that they must go on a 
journey to the springs, ride on horse- 
back, or take other out-door exercise ; 
while the farmer's daughter, who 
cheerfully assists her mother in the 
kitchen, the dairy, and tending the- 
poultry, never knows the need of such 
exercise. 

Mr. President, allow me to relate ar* 



368 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON : 

anecdote, which may be of service to 
some of the rising generation. It will 
show the young ladies how to reject 
one man and accept another. The 
heroine of this anecdote was a respect- 
able farmer's daughter. A young man 
of her acquaintance called on her one 
evening, and made proposals of mar- 
riage. She told him that she wished 
until the next evening to decide. The 
following afternoon she told her father 
that she wanted the horse to go about 
two miles. At the appointed time the 
horse was saddled, and she mounted 
and rode off. On arriving at the place 
where she intended to stop, she saw 
that the great barn-doors were open, 
and the old gentleman was pitching 
off a load of hay which stood on the 
barn floor. She rode up and inquired 
of him, " where is your son Samuel V 
" He is up on the mow, taking away 
the hay," was his answer. " I want 
to speak with him," said she. Sam 
then jumped from the mow on to the 
load of hay, by the side of his father. 
" You need not come any further," said 
she, "I can say what I wish here; I 
have nothing private." She then told 



"WILMINGTON FARMER. 369 

him that she had received proposals of 
marriage from a certain young man. 
" But," she said, " I have never seen 
any one 1 love as I do you, and the 
last time we stood side by side and 
read in the old school-house, I made 
up my mind that I never would give 
my heart and hand to any one until I 
knew you would not accept them. 
Now," said she, " I want to know 
whether you will marry me or not." 
The old gentleman, unable to keep 
silent any longer, called out, " take her 
Sam, take her, she'll make you a good 
one." The young people exchanged a 
few words, when the old farmer, in 
joy cried out, " its a bargain, and I'm a 
happy witness. God bless you, my 
children." The next evening, when 
the young man came for his answer, 
she told him his offer was an honora- 
able one, and she thanked him for it ; 
that she should always respect him, 
and speak well of him to her female 
acquaintances ; but duty required her 
to give a negative answer. Now, this 
was a real farmers' courtship, and if 
there were more like it, there would 
be fewer unhappy marriages. 



370 LIFE OF ASA G. SHELDON: 

Since railroads have become so com- 
mon and convenient, I have noticed 
that some young ladies spend a great 
deal of their time riding in the cars. 
Now, I know not what their business 
is, neither do I expect to ; but one 
thing I am quite sure of, they are not 
like this young woman, in pursuit of a 
farmer's son for a husband, and I have 
come to this conclusion, that if they 
would spend less of their time in this 
way, and more of it in assisting their 
mothers in that portion of farm work 
belonging to the female sex, they 
would be healthier, happier, and in the 
married life more contented with their 
husbands. 

But the last and most important 
reason why farming is healthy, per- 
haps, is his spending so great a pro- 
portion of his time at work in the open 
air, which gives him a good relish for 
his food, and strengthens his whole 
body. 

Fourth. Farming is the most hon- 
orable occupation. God himself is the 
author of it. We read in the Holy 
Scriptures, that " the Lord God plant- 
ed a garden eastward in Eden," and 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 371 

" the Lord God took the man and put 
him into the garden to dress it and to 
keep it." Now, will any one be so 
impious as to say that an occupation 
is disrespectful that God himself is the 
author of? Will any mother teach her 
children that the first duty that God 
ever pointed out for man to perform 
was not honorable ? Shall an occupa- 
tion which feeds the whole world, and 
has, from the foundation of the world 
up to the present time, fed all the 
human race shall such an occupa- 
tion be called disrespectful? Not even 
the gospel of Jesus Christ could be 
preached among us without it. Is 
there any father, mother, son, or 
daughter, who would dare to stand up in 
this assembly and say that farming is 
dishonorable ? 

Friends, let us for a moment com- 
pare the employment of the farmer 
with that of the broker, who shaves 
notes in State street. We well know 
that a year or more past has been a 
busy time for this class of men. Sup- 
pose a broker executes his cunning 
faculties to their utmost ability, and 
shaves notes at an enormous interest. 



372 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

He feels that he has added greatly to 
his fortune ; but when night comes, as 
he lays his head on his pillow, con- 
science asks him, What have you 
done to-day for the benefit of the hu- 
man race ? He is troubled for an an- 
swer, and turns over. But conscience 
again interrogates him Have you 
done anything to relieve the wants of 
the suffering ? Have you done any- 
thing toward feeding the fowls of the 
air, or the beasts of the fields ? Have 
you done anything productive of man's 
happiness ? Have you done anything 
for which the rising generation will rise 
up and call you blessed ] 

In answer to all these inquiries, con- 
science compels him to answer, " No," 
and he turns himself in bed, in hopes 
of going to sleep, but his dreams are 
troublesome. 

Mr. President, we here see" that for 
all this man's great day's work, the 
world is not one cent better off. 

Let us now turn our attention to the 
farmer for a moment. Suppose he 
applies his wisdom, skill and strength 
to carry on his occupation. Where 
the brush was growing, the last time 



WILMINGTON FARMER. 373' 

we saw the spot, to-day we see beau- 
tiful fields of grass and grain, growing 
for man and beast all for the benefit 
of the whole human family. The 
farmer, also lays his head on the pil- 
low at night, and in his mind reviews 
the labors of the day. His conscience 
approves every act, and says to him, 
" The earth rejoices in being able to 
produce food for man, where nothing 
but briars grew before. Nature smiles 
and man is blessed with the harvest ; 
God is glorified in seeing man perform 
the first duty he assigned him, and by 
his blessing sanctions the declaration, 
that God, Nature and Man are co- 
workers in producing food and happi- 
ness for the whole family of man. 

Mr. President, in conclusion, I would 
say, that at the beginning of farming 
God would not have planted a garden 
in Eden and put man in it, to dress and 
keep it, if He, in His infinite wisdom, 
had not foreseen that it would be a 
profitable, independent, healthy, honor- 
able and happy employment for the 
human race. 

If my hearers are not already tired, 



374 LIFE OP ASA G. SHELDON : 

I would like to close with the follow- 
ing sentiment : 

WOMAN We honor her, because 
she is a free gift from God to man ; 
we love her, because God, in all His 
work of creation, never has created a 
being more worthy of man's love. 



EEEATA, 



In the beginning of this volume, 
mistakes occur in several different 
names, in various places. Wherever 
the name " Patty Tapley " occurs, it 
should be "Polly Tapley;" "Daniel 
Parker" should be "David Parker;" 
" Jerre Tapley" should be "Jesse 
Tapley," and "Patty Parker" should 
be " Polly Parker." 












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