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Full text of "Tributes to my father and mother and some stories of my life / Jesse Mercer Battle"

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Library of 
The University of North Carolina 



of the Class of 1889 

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The Mangan Press 


Copyrighted 1911 


Jesse Mercer Battle 


To my grandson, Eugene Battle Smith, and to my grand- 
daughter, Margaret Parker Smith. May my grandson 
be as good and useful a man as my father was, 
and may my granddaughter be as good a 
wife and as good a mother as my 
mother was. 


My Father _ 7 

My Mother _ 53 

Born _ 60 

Childhood 63 

Looking for a Job 85 

Changing My Occupation 89 

Another Change 102 

Another Change 107 

My First Accident 120 

Meeting My Future Wife 128 

Wandering 137 

Back to See My Lady Love .* 170 

An Accident on the Yadkin River 191 

The Canvasser 200 

Success, But Not Complete 220 


In the September, 1906, number of the 
<^Wake Forest Student" I find the following 
statement concerning my father. I have been 
told that it was written by Professor Collier 
Cobb, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It con- 
tains a mere outline of a very small part of the 
services rendered to the Baptists by my father. 
Doctor William Hooper, a life long friend, 
w^rote a more extended notice, giving more data 
and more detail; this obituary notice was sent 
to the Biblical Recorder, a Baptist paper, pub- 
lished in Raleigh, N. C, and edited at that time 
by a Mr. Richard Mills. It is greatly to be re- 
gretted that this paper of Doctor Hooper was 
lost, misplaced or purposely suppressed, for it 
contained matter of the greatest importance 
concerning my father, written by a master 
hand and a loving friend. At this time Doc- 
tor Hooper was too old and feeble to reproduce 
his paper. 

Noting that the paper did not appear in the 
next issue of the Biblical Recorder, I went 
to its office in Raleigh and asked Mr. Mills 
for the paper. He said that he was very sorry, 
but the paper was misplaced and he could not 


lay his hands on it at that time, if he found 
it he would send it to me. I never received 
it. The explanation was easy, I understood 
the situation well. My father was no longer 
a Baptist, and the Baptists were no longer in- 
terested in him, living or dead. Another rea- 
son which had some weight is that the columns 
of a newsi)aper or magazine are w^orth money. 
At that time I knew so little about such mat- 
ters I did not think to ask what would be the 
cost of the space that Doctor Hooper's paper 
would occupy. Had I done so, I am almost 
certain that the paper would have appeared. 
I now give Professor Collier Cobb's paper. 

'^Elder Amos Johnston Battle, son of Joel 
and Mary P. Battle, was born at Shell Bank, 
Edgecombe County, North Carolina, on the 
eleventh day of January, 1805. His parents, 
being of an influential family and having ample 
means, gave to their son the superior ad- 
vantages of a good education, which he con- 
tinued to enrich by close study and extensive 
reading during the whole of his laborious and 
useful life. 

"Placed above the necessity of manual labor 
and possessing talents of a High order, the 
world proffered to him success and honors in 
the learned professions, the arena of politics 
and the emoluments of wealth, all of which 
he spurned as possessing inferior attractions 


to the sublimity and divine perfections of the 
Gospel of Christ. 

'••In his twenty-third year, traveling through 
the country on horseback, from North Caro- 
lina to his plantation in Florida, He stopped at 
a country church called Mount Zion in Georgia. 
It was there that he gave his heart to God, 
united with the Church and was baptized by 
the Rev. Jesse Mercer, founder of the Mercer 
University in Georgia. 

"Three years after, having returned to 
North Carolina, he was ordained to the min- 
istry at a convention held with the Baptist 
Church at ^Rogers' Cross Eoads,' in the County 
of Wake. 

"On the seventh of January, 1830, he mar- 
ried Miss Margaret Hearne Parker, of Edge- 
combe County, N. C. 

"In 1834 he was pastor of the Baptist Church 
in Nashville, N. C. In 1838 and 1839 he was 
pastor of the Baptist Church in Raleigh, N. C. 
It was about that time that he was so in- 
terested in the building up of Wake Forest 
College, giving largely of his means and put- 
ting up out of private funds a large and hand- 
some building. 

"As a trustee he was very active. About 
1835 he was elected agent to collect subscrip- 
tions, secured by William Hill Jordan and 


John Armstrong. The Institute, as it was then 
called, was not able to build houses for the 
professors, so they gave permission to any 
member who was able to furnish the money 
and wait for reimbursement, to erect such 

^^Charles A. Skinner and Amos J. Battle ac- 
cepted the proposition and each erected a 
house and the trustees gave their bond, pay- 
able in five years. 

"The Institute was crowded with students; 
the rooms were unfurnished, Amos J. Battle 
was appointed a committee of one to secure a 
sufficient number of double moss mattresses. 
There was no more useful member of the board 
than he. He ceased to attend these board 
meetings after 1844, as his time was devoted 
to the education of the young women of the 
Baptist Church There are trees and shrubs 
now growing there that he planted with his 
own hands. 

"At the same time he was giving largely 
for the building of a Baptist Church in Raleigh. 

"From Raleigh he went to Wilmington, N. 
C, as pastor of the First Baptist Church there. 

"Within the first six months of his pastor- 
ate there he baptized one hundred and fifty 
members into the Church. Among them were 
Mr. George R. French, Capt. C. D. Ellis, Mr. 


I. Peterson, Mr. Mitchell and many others too 
numerous to mention, who were for fifty years 
afterwards prominent workers in the Church. 

"Learning that the Baptist Church in Ea- 
leigh was about to be sold for the heavy debt 
on it, he gave up the Wilmington Church and 
for two years (about 1843 and 1844) he traveled 
over the State to raise money for that debt. 
Some year or two after that, feeling that Wake 
Forest College was doing all that could be 
done for the young men of his native State, 
he turned his attention to the building up of a 
college for girls. In the year 1847 he traveled 
extensively in the Chowan Association and 
stirred up the men of means to start the school 
in Murfreesboro, now known as the ^Chowan 
Baptist Female Institute.' For the first year 
he was steward of the college. 

"He was one of the leaders in the Baptist 
State Convention. He succeeded William 
Roles as Treasurer in 1836, and held the posi- 
tion until 1842. He was also Recording Secre- 
tary of the North Carolina Baptist Bible So- 
ciey from 1837 to 1842. He was popular and 
, public spirited. During the Mexican War he 
was chosen chaplain of the North Carolina 
Volunteer Regiment. 

"He deserves to rank along with the noblest 
and best of the strong men of his time. 

"It was his brother, William Horn Battle, 


who introduced into the House of Commons 
the bill to charter Wake Forest College, where 
the measure passed with, a good majority. 

^'In 1843 he moved to Wilson, N. C, where he 
lived until his death, spending his time travel- 
ing and preaching as an evangelist, sometimes 
in the eastern part of the State, and sometimes 
in the mountains. He was preaching at Kuth- 
erfordton when attacked with cancer near his 
right eye, from w^hich he died in Wilson, Sep- 
tember 24th, 1870/' 

Someone has said, ^'It is a good thing to be 
well born." To be well born means mainly to 
have a good father and a good mother, that 
is, each one must be healthy of body and of 
a sound mind. The healthy body is free from 
those malignant diseases which can be trans- 
mitted from father or mother to their children. 
The sound mind means, first, a mind that can 
think, and think straight, and think ration- 
ally, and secondly, it means a mind that sees 
many truths that remain unseen to the ordi- 
nary person. 

A sound mind also means good common 
sense, which is one of the most uncommon 
things in the world. My mother had the com- 
mon sense, that is the kind of sense that is 
applied to the things of this world. 


She expected and looked for the things 
that really come to pass. But not so with my 
father. He always looked for the impossible. 
He read in his Bible (Luke xviii. 29) '^There 
is no man that hath left house or parents, 
or brethren or wife or children, for the King- 
dom of God's sake (verse 30), who shall not 
receive manifold more in this present time, 
and in the world to come, life everlasting." 
And he believed this passage was a revela- 
tion from God, through Jesus, and that it was 
true, and was to be obeyed implicitly, and 
meant exactly what it said. So, as far as he 
was able, he obeyed the command and he did 
forsake his house, his parents and his brethren 
and his wife and his children for the King- 
dom of God's sake, and became a bankrupt as 
far as this world's goods are concerned. He 
became almost a stranger to his family and 
he devoted all his wealth to God and His 
Kingdom by giving it away for churches and 
school purposes. He gave all his time to the 
upbuilding of his Church, the Baptist. He 
did literally what he understood to be his 
duty, as he read it in his favorite passages 
in the New Testament. He was not a fanatic, 
he was not insane on the subject of religion. 
He simply believed the picked words that he 
read were true, and were meant to be obeyed, 
and he frequently said that he was God's 
child, absolutely, and if he obeyed God's com- 


mandments as given in the words of Jesus, 
that God would keep his promises. Yet, after 
giving aw^ay all his property and leaving his 
family, he did not have "manifold more in 
this present time," but he might have "life 
everlasting in the world to come." The last 
years of his life were made miserable by pov- 
erty and an incurable disease (cancer). No 
one ever doubted his sincerity. All admitted 
that if there was a true Christian that man 
was my father. His whole life was devoted 
to deeds of charity. No one ever came to him 
and asked for help and was turned away with- 
out it. All that asked him for help got it, 
all that w^anted to borrow of him, obtained 
the loan, even without security. His money, 
his lands, his negroes, his stocks, his bonds, 
his personal property of every description 
went as his free will offering to the Church 
as a whole, and to anyone of its members 
individually, or to those who were not mem- 
bers. He just could not refuse to do what 
he was asked to do. I have known him to go 
away from home, well dressed, with a good 
horse and buggy, and have seen him come 
home in less than a month looking like a 
beggar, dressed in the commonest kind of 
clothing, and bringing an old worn-out saddle 
on his back. He had given away his cloth- 
ing and bought somebody's old cast off cloth 
ing. He had sold his horse and buggy and 


given the money to build a church in a sec- 
tion of the state where there was none, and 
had bought the old saddle for a very small 
price and borrowed a horse to do his mission- 
ary w^ork w^ith; and when his journey was fin- 
ished, he had returned the horse and brought 
the old saddle home on his back to use at 
some future time. He put his name on the 
back of some man^s note as an endorsement, 
and w^hen the note came due, the man did not 
have the money to pay w4th, and my father 
was asked to pay, but he did not have the 
money either, and said so, but that he would 
pay when he got the money. The man who 
held the note asked my father why He put 
his name on a note when he had no money, 
my father, in his guilelessness said he did it 
because he had been asked to do so. This 
answer so enraged the holder of the note that 
he slapped my father's face, and my father 
deliberately turned his other cheek and said 
to the man, "You may slap the other cheek if 
you want to." I have known many good men, 
but I have never seen another one as good 
as my father. He was accessible to rich and 
poor alike. There was nothing that he pos- 
sessed that he would not give away if some 
one would ask him for it. There was never 
a minute, night or day that he would reserve 
for himself or family, all his time was at the 
disposal of any one that would come and ask 


for it. He preached, he taught, he worked, he 
strived for, he longed for what he called the 
'^Kingdom of God.'' This kingdom meant to 
him for every body to do and live as he did and 
lived. He often said, "He loves God most who 
serves his creatures best." This was the key- 
note to his life. It was for this that he de- 
voted his life and when his days were ended 
and we had laid him in his grave, I had put 
on his tombstone his own words: "He loves 
God most who serves His creatures best." 

He was the only man that I ever saw who 
implicitly believed the words of the New Tes- 
tament, selected by himself to be true and put 
those words in practice in his life. He preach- 
ed righteousness and he practiced what he 
preached. I saw little of him in my young dayvS, 
but the last year of his life I was with him ev- 
ery day and I must say it was a revelation 
to me to know that I had such a father. I 
did not know that there was such a man in 
the world. He was so entirely different from 
any man I had ever known. He was abso- 
lutely unselfish, his self-denial was sublime. 
He was capable of giving up everything, even 
to life itself for his cause. 

His conversation was reserved but affable 
and lively. He condescended to mix with men 
of a lower state. He never condemned on first 
information, but always wanted more knowl- 


edge of the case, and the men involved. He 
said all were liable to err, and he had erred 
many times himself, and it was only through 
a knowledge of error that he was enabled 
to find the right way and to escape from the 
sin. He said without a body there would be 
little inclination to sin; but as the body was 
the excuse and the inclination to violate law, 
it was the one thing that should be watched, 
restrained and repressed. That its needs and 
requirements were only to be decided by an 
enlightened mind; that this enlightened mind 
and a cultivated conscience was to be relied 
upon to map out a line of conduct and the 
manner of living in order to fill one's proper 
place in this world and to be prepared for the 
world to come. "One may err, but the most 
important thing in this life is to be just. Sin, 
error and mistakes are a part of this world. 
No man or woman is exempt from their con- 
sequences. Ignorance is at the bottom of 
nearly all the violations of law. He who is 
ignorant and violates law is not so culpable 
as the one who is responsible for the ignor- 
ance. If you do not show to your child or 
your neighbor, or his child the difference be- 
tween light and darkness, then you are re- 
sponsible for the sin, error or mistake made 
by them more than they are, for you do know- 
that the act is wrong, and your child, neigh- 
bor and his child, who does the deed in ig- 


norance, knows it not. You who leave them 
in darkness are the most culpable, for it is 
your duty to teach them, and the neglect is 
your sin." 

So he taught, he visited, he w^orked, he ad- 
vised, trying to give more wisdom to the ig- 
norant. He knew the value of faith, so w^hen 
he came in contact with one w^ho was miser- 
able through a lack of it, He w^ould say, "Look 
at the stars in the sky at night. Think you 
that they could travel on their orbits with- 
out a calamity if there was no master hand 
guiding them.'' 

"How could you and I love goodness and 
hate evil if there w^ere no consequences fol- 
lowing our deeds?" 

The consequences are found in progress or 
retrogression. He believed strongly in the ful- 
fillment of God's plans. If anything seemed 
to go wrong, he said, "God's plans are too 
great to be finished in a day." He said hate 
and selfishness were at the bottom of much 
of the wrong in the w^orld, but he said, "Hate 
is passing away and love is taking its place." 
There are some men in the w^orld who do love 
their enemies. There are some men who are 
merciful to their animals. There are some 
men and women in the w^orld who will nurse 
the sick without pay. They will even give 
their money to build hospitals and asylums 


for the care of the sick and the insane. There 
are some men and women who will give lib- 
erally of their means to build schools and 
colleges to educate the young men and wo- 
men when they have no children of their 
own. This he said was progress, for it showed 
that the old injunction to love your friends 
and hate your enemies, was passing away. 
There would be more progress, he said, when 
men were better taught; ignorance was at the 
bottom of intolerance; men had no patience 
with other men, when they were ignorant; they 
were more patient as soon as they knew 
enough to be so. Those who had suffered 
themselves were more apt to help others who 
were suffering. Suffering itself taught us a 
lesson. It gives us experience, and experience 
is what life is made of. 

Love and trust to our fellowman and to our 
Maker should drive away all fear, except the 
fear of broken law. Some law is what we call 
natural law: it could not be natural law un- 
less it was first supernatural. Some law we 
make ourselves, and we could not even do 
this, unless we were first made by the super- 
natural law. 

We obey the laws as we know them, vol- 
untarily, and sometimes we are made to obey 
them, when we are unwilling to do so. The 
law which makes water run down hill is what 


we call a natural law, but it depends on God 
for its moving power. The law which sajs 
"thou Shalt not kill/- is a law adopted by man 
to protect himself and his family from the in- 
sane murderer. For the murderer is insane, 
in the sense that his sense and judgment are 
bad, especially bad for his victims. 

And there is a law back of the insanity, 
and this law, though unknown to us, is also 
a supernatural law. 

The law which permits the cancer cell to 
ingest and digest the cells of which our bod- 
ies are composed, is also a supernatural law 
that we do not comprehend. 

The bacilli and bacteria, other cells which 
are taken into our bodies through our food, 
drink and the air we breath, get their power 
for harm from the same God that we worship 
and call His name Love. 

The ability we have to investigate, the cap- 
acity we have to invent instruments to dis- 
cover these microorganisms, is also given to 
us by the the same God that has made the 
law which permits these parasites to prey 
upon our poor bodies, destroy them and send 
them to the grave, where another set of bac- 
teria shall ingest and digest them, and when 
there is nothing more that the bacteria of de- 
truction can find to live on, he goes back into 
dust, and even there he is kept alive by the 


same God that gives to us the intelligence to 
find him, to see him and to describe him in 
our imperfect way. 

He knew something of these mysteries; he 
wanted to know more. He said to me, ''You 
have a great advantage over me, for you were 
born just fifty years later, and those who 
are born later still will have an advantage 
over you, for they will have all the discov 
eries and inventions to guide them.'' He also 
said, "Every genius who is born in the world 
is a revelation from God." Had he lived to 
know of Edison, Pasteur, Metchinkoff, Erlich, 
Metz and a great army of kindred spirits, he 
would have known that his predictions would 
come true. While sticking close to the texts 
of his Bible, he felt and often said that there 
was something back of the men who wrote it; 
for said he, "There are some things that God 
has not told us yet, not even in the Bible.'' 

Some of these things we find out without 
the Bible. In medicine we have found out 
that there are certain substances that we call 
poisons; these poisons, as arsenic, strychnine, 
prussic acid, opium and its products, digitalis, 
belladonna and aconite; all the mineral acids, 
alcohol and some others, when taken in suf- 
ficient quantities, will kill the human body. 

On the other hand, some of these poisons, 
given in smaller doses or used externally, 


have been found to be beneficial in certain in- 
fections, and have been used in alleviating 
the pains and diseases of man. 

We have found out that steam confined can 
be made the servant and benefactor of the 
working classes. 

We have found that the thing we call light- 
ning is identical with electricity and can also 
be used in many ways to serve the human 

We have found that the air compressed be- 
comes as powerful for good or evil as the ex- 
plosion of gunpowder. 

We have found that the winds may be 
harnessed and made to do our work as well 
as the horse and oxen. We have found that 
there is a law that we call gravitation, which 
may be utilized in many ways for the bene 
fit of man. 

We have found many other things which 
are true, but not reported in the Bible. These 
truths, discovered by man, through pains, 
trials, longings, desires, plans, purposes and 
designs, are all as much the revelations of 
God as is the words contained in the book 
that we call the Bible. 

Pie said there was a time when we had no 
art, no pictures, no statuary, no poetry, no 
love for the beautiful, but now the world was 


filled with beautiful things, pictures, statues, 
poetry, which make life worth living; all seen, 
recognized and by man appreciated. 

He said there was a time when men did 
not appreciate truth, honor, integrity, faith- 
fulness, kindness, mercy, gentleness, humility, 
virtue and love, but now all of these beautiful 
characters were not only appreciated, but were 
concluded absolutely necessary as the adorn- 
ment of a neighbor and friend. 

He said the various sects in religion repre- 
sented the many thoughts of men, but no one 
of them contained the whole of truth; so each 
and every one, if honest, should be glad, 
pleased and benefited by looking for the truth 
that others held, which he did not possess. 
Again, that if you hold a truth which you« 
know to be true, it is your duty to offer it 
freely to all mankind. He said the whole duty 
of the Church through its preachers and 
priests, was to give to the world the truth in 
its entirety as far as it was discovered, espe- 
cially the truths which enabled men to live 
healthfully, prosperously, honestly, uprightly, 
faithfully, neighborly, kindly and charitably 
in this w'orld, and devotedly, trustfully, sin- 
cerely and dependently for the world to 

He said to do this a man must recognize 
that there is much outside of himself, and 


that all that was accessible to him could only 
be attained by effort, Health and vigor, he 
said, could only be preserved and conserved 
by forethought, more knowledge and a will- 
ingness to obey the law of one's physical be- 

The ability to stand hard work or study 
meant more to one who was willing to do the 
work and to study than a capricious talent 
used sparingly. 

He knew little about the modern interpreta- 
tion of ancient philosophies, but he said that 
the rocks, the hills, the gold, the lands and 
all the things that looked so solid and real 
were not so real as the mind and intelligence 
that created them. 

He said that the one thing needful, the one 
thing to desire and work for, was not some- 
thing to possess, but rather something TO 

He said that no possibility of experience 
could ever be so real as the actual experience. 

He said no man or woman was ever com- 
pletely himself or herself at any one period 
of their lives, for their complete fulfillment 
could only be given in eternty. 

He said we gain in knowledge and exper- 
ience every day, but we loose the buoyant 
spirits and the freshness of youth. 


He said that we were created by God, but 
that God gave to us the privilege of aiding 
in finishing the product; and when it is realiz- 
ed and appreciated that the conscious effort 
of man in his upbuilding shortens the slow 
process of what we call nature, then man will 
or should make an effort to be something 
higher and better. A contentment in ignor- 
ance is highly culpable. We should try to 
remember the past; the future may be read 
and understood better if we could only en- 
joy our full capacities. Why do we dream 
while we are sleeping? Do these dreams tell 
us something? Are these communications to 
be relied on? 

Can our loved ones who have gone to the 
other world send us love messages or warn- 
ings of the dangers which may befall us? 

He said these questions can only be an- 
swered by discovering the truth involved in 
them; that to discover these truths may re- 
quire the effort of one, two, ten or a hundred 
generations; but the knowledge is in existence 
and much of it accessible and only prolonged, 
persistent and intelligent effort can get it. 
He said this process involved the broad ques- 
tion of the development of man, which means 
healthier children with better minds and 
higher aspirations; these three fundamental 
qualities of man will open up better oppor- 
tunities, to the end that the meaning of life 


shall be better understood and the purposes 
of life better fulfilled. 

He said that the greatest trouble with the 
whole human family who had any religion at 
all, was that man was expected to know all, 
without time to learn, and expected to do all 
without time to do it in. He said no one was 
born grown; that he was a child first, then 
youth, then man, then age — then death. He 
said that a child was only a child and that 
he could learn only a little at the time; that 
judgment and the ability to see came only 
with maturer years. That some children could 
learn much faster than others; that these 
bright ones, by persistent effort became the 
wise men and women of the world, and they 
in their turn to a large extent the fathers 
and mothers of the bright ones of the next 
generation. That the intelligence of the fath- 
ers and mothers, provided better food, bet- 
ter clothes, better surroundinfjs, better appor- 
tunities for their children, and the children 
when grown were so equipped that with the 
same desire for progress would give to their 
own children the same advantages and oppor- 

He said that this process was natural and 
was right, and was evidently the will of God 
and being right, and the will of God, it was 
the best and most appropriate way to lift the 


whole human family toward God. That this 
elevation or lifting was itself a process, but 
being in harmony with the Divine plan, it 
was the true way to strive and to work in 
this present world. 

He said this world is just a part of an- 
other whole, and the whole included all the 
other worlds, and that each one was controlled 
by God and passed on through space according 
to His plans and pleasure. He said if it all 
w^orks like a machine it is because an all- 
wise God could plan it and set it in motion 
and put behind it all and in it all that power 
and intelligence necessary to keep it as He 
wants it to be. In it all and a part of it all 
is man with some qualities which belong alone 
to him. He can think, plan, do things and 
then reflect and meditate on his plans and his 
deeds. Sometimes he is intelligent enough to 
discover his mistakes, his blunders and is will- 
ing to and does make an effort to correct them, 
and in some instances does so. This is one of the[ 
important ways that knowledge comes into the 
world. He said that our inability to use our 
full capacities made progress in the world 
very slow, but said he, this is for not making 
an effort with the capacities we do have; small 
capacities well used grow to be larger capaci- 
ties and capacities or talents neglected are 
destroyed by the neglect. It is man's duty 
to make the effort whether with small or great 


capacity, the results belong to God. He will 
take care of that which is His own. 

He said there is an Intelligence greater 
than my own. This Intelligence keeps the 
sun, moon, planets, stars and the infinite hosts 
of heaven in their proper places. It keeps the 
hills, the plains, the rivers, the brooks, the 
grand old oceans supplied with that power, 
that ability to be hills, plains, rivers, brooks 
and oceans. 

This Supreme Intelligence gives life to all 
that lives, and makes it live until it dies, and 
it dies because it has lived. 

This Intelligence gives to each shrub its own 
buds, to each flower its own petal, to each 
tree its own leaves and makes them bear in 
their season the buds, the flowers and the, 
leaves as it pleases Him; they all live and die 
in their proper order. 

This Intelligence gives to every element a 
power to unite with some other element, this 
power is measured and exact and is made 
honest and faithful to perform its proper 
duty by the same Supreme Intelligence that 
created it. 

That this same Supreme Intelligence has 
given to man some of His intelligence so that 
man may in ever so little a way or in ever so 
great a way understand, use and profit to some 


extent by this knowledge and use of the same, 
and may work with this Supreme Intelligence 
and some men do, and these are they that we 
call the Children of God. This does not mean 
that all the others who do not work with this 
Supreme Intelligence are not the children of 
God. It means that they are neglectful chil- 
dren, disobedient children, either through ig- 
norance or a purposeful neglect. God knows 
and will deal with them fairly. He said, it is 
so much better to be working in harmony with 
this Supreme Intelligence, for all truth, all 
right, all good can actually be found in har- 
mony with this Intelligence, that many of our 
pains, sorrows, disappointments are in some 
way connected with our disharmony or the 
disharmony of another. 

He said further that this disharmony with 
all its pains, sorrows and disappointments are 
also a part of the whole; but said he, the Su 
preme Intelligence knows that disharmony 
is not so good as harmony; so he marks it 
with tears, sorrows and disappointments to 
show us the difference between harmony and 
disharmony, that we may not be contented 
with the less good. 

Complete harmony with God, he said, in 
this world, is never attained, for the complete 
harmony includes a harmony with all that 
is external to myself, as well as all that is 


is within myself. Man's greatest need is to 
find as much of this harmony as his talents 
and capacities will permit. The harmony is 
one, as God is One, to be in complete harmony 
with the whole, would be to possess the whole, 
in knowledge and exiDerience, and this is pos- 
sible alone for God. 

He said, ''I am a part and not the whole, 
but I play a part and the part I play is a 
part of the whole, and the whole is not com- 
plete without the part that I play, whether 
the part I play makes what we call harmony 
or discord.'' 

The whole harmony is not played on earth, 
that part which contains some of the discords 
are found on earth, some in other worlds; 
the sweet music, that period of the grand 
whole harmony which is completed and fitted 
for the ear of the Composer, alone is found 
in eternit}^, for neither a thousand years nor 
a million years is time enough for God to com- 
plete the harmony which He has composed 
for Himself. 

It is impossible to measure the heights 
and depths of a man like my father by any 
ordinary rule. While he accepted the Bible 
as inspired and believed in it firmly, he said 
there were many statements in it which 
seemed to have been changed or mistrans- 
lated, but he said that no one should waste 


his time on puzzles, as there was enough in 
the Bible that was clear and intelligent to 
point out a line of conduct that would make 
a good man of any one who would follow the 
light that was given. 

He gave little time to the discussions of 
the dogmas of the Church, of his Church, or 
any other Church. He was first Baptist, aft- 
erward a Christian, or Campbellite. He was 
too busy loving his neighbors and doing deeds 
of charity to waste his time in discussing the 
trinity, atonement, vicarious punishment, 
destiny, good and evil, the war of being 
against being, human consciousness, trans- 
formation through death, of the Ego, the es- 
sence, substance, the nil and ens, nature, lib- 
erty, necessity. 

He purposely avoided discussions of such 
subjects as being time wasted. 

He would frequently say, "I believe in the 
Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost,'' 
without any comment or explanation of its 

His love was greater than his faith, un- 
less it was his great faith that made him love. 
It was his supreme love for all men, high and 
low, that made him a mark for all. His love 
was not limited to the human family, it ex- 
tended to the animals, birds and fishes. It 


was a supreme benevolence spreading over 
men and extending even to things. 

He looked on deformity with a pitying eye, 
putting no blame on the object but seeking 
thoughtfully for an explanation beyond and 
back of this crippled life. He recognized 
friends in some of the reptiles. I remember 
his warning to the negroes and to myself not 
to kill two large king snakes that lived in our 
barn. He said that they were our friends for 
they drove away all of the rats and were 
worth more in this way than many cats, and 
were no expense or trouble to keep. 

These snakes lived on the rats and mice, 
and could be seen lying on the joists or be- 
tween the cracks and sometimes curled up 
in the feed basket. When found in the basket 
by the negro who was feeding the mules, there 
was sure to be an exclamation of horror, for 
the negroes, like the rest of the human fam- 
ily, hate a snake, and all snakes are alike to 
a negro. 

While these negroes respected my father 
and were devoted to him and obeyed him with- 
out question and left unmolested these snakes 
for a year or two, one day I found both of 
them dead; they had been broken in several 
places and had been buried, but murder will 
out, for a pig found them and rooted them 


out of the ground, and left the snakes un- 
eaten. This is curious, for hogs are fond of 
snake meat. 

I suspected the negroes of having killed 
these snakes. When I told my father, he said, 
"Poor, ignorant things, they knew no better.'^ 

In his mature manhood, his patience, tolera- 
tion and gentleness seemed to be boundless, 
but an old friend who knew him when he was 
a young man, told me that my father, in his 
youth and early manhood, was passionate, 
hot-tempered and would fight on slight provo- 
cation. So his gentleness and even temper 
was a matter of conviction with him. He had 
curbed his temper, he had restrained his pas- 
sionate nature, until he had both under con- 
trol He was fond of company and a good 
talker. He had much to tell that was highly 
interesting, but the matter related almost ex- 
clusively to life; life in general and in vari- 
ous special lives, good, bad and indifferent, 
that he had known. His stories w^ere the re- 
lations of actual experience of himself and 
others. I do not remember a single instance 
where he told a story or a joke simply to make 
people laugh. 

He was cheerful and bubbling over with wit 
and sometimes made his audiences laugh 
when he did not intend to do so. 

I was present on one occasion when he 


was preaching in a country church. The peo- 
ple were all good, kind, simple folk; but many 
would go out and come in the church during 
the services; this seemed to annoy my father 
and in the middle of his sermon he digressed 
long enough to beg the people to be more 
thoughtful of themselves and of him and went 
on and told this story, to show how a thought- 
less person could disturb a congregation. He 
said that he was preaching in a country 
church in Hyde County, North Carolina, and 
said, ^'I must have been very dull and unin- 
teresting, for I saw one of the men on a back 
bench fast asleep. He had settled low down 
on his seat, so that his head rested on the 
back of the bench; he was breathing through 
his mouth, and his mouth was wide open. 
The gallery w^as above him, filled with young 
people. One of the boys, a very thoughtless 
boy, had heard the deep, sonorous breathing 
of the man below. At first he could not make 
out what it was. So, in his inconsiderate, 
thoughtless w^ay, he leaned over the balcony 
to see w^hat was the cause of these heavy 
sighs that he had beard; He heard the sup- 
pressed noise, and connected it with the sleep- 
ing man immediately below. I saw both the 
sleeping man and the boy. I knew that some- 
thing was about to happen. I was so dis- 
tracted I almost lost the thread of my dis- 
course. If that poor boy and that poor man 


only knew how much they were disturbing 
me, and through me the whole congregation, 
they would not be so thoughtless, the man 
to go to sleep, and the boy to do what he 
did do. I saw that boy pull out of his mouth 
an old exhausted quid of tobacco, and, taking 
aim, dropped it right into the man's open 
mouth. The mouth went shut like a steel 
trap, and the man waked up.-- The congre- 
gation who heard this story, did not hear the 
last part of it, for when the piece of tobacco 
dropped, they went wild and roared with 
laughter. My father was so surprised at this 
outburst that he stopped his sermon and dis- 
missed the congregation. 

He never even smiled. He told me after- 
ward that he felt hurt, but the big congre- 
gation in the afternoon and the close atten- 
tion paid to his sermon and the great interest 
taken by the whole congregation in all the 
services and the passing in and out of the 
church by so many having stopped, he felt 
compensated for what he called his "break'^ 
in the morning. 

At home, he was always busy. His days 
were filled Avith good deeds, good words, good 
thoughts. He lived much out of doors; he was 
fond of long rambles in the woods. He would 
do some manual labor every day, when the 
weather was fine he would work in the vege- 


table garden an hour or so, or if the grass 
was getting the upper hand in the cotton or 
corn fields, he would go there and work with 
the negroes. 

If the day was wet and inclement, he would 
put in the day answering his letters and mak- 
ing what he called his "skeletons" for his ser- 
mons. He never wrote out his sermons. He 
said, "I must preach, not read to my congre- 
gaton." These "skeletons" sometimes covered 
less than one page in a small note book. 
After making these "skeletons" he would sel- 
dom refer to them again. Sometimes he 
would go off on a preaching tour and forget, 
leaving his "skeletons" at home. 


I asked him once how he got along with- 
out his notes. He said, "I do my work mostly 
at night, when others are sleeping, when I 
am not liable to be interrupted and w^hen I 
have gone over a subject and made my notes, 
I seem to be able to read them again without 
having the paper in my hand, but I loose the 
whole discourse, if I do not make the notes." 

He said, "There is another peculiarity about 
my memory. I do not think that I can repeat 
the words of a single hymn without the music, 
but as soon as the words are sung, all of the 
words of the hymn come to me one by one as 
they are sung. So I seldom use a hymn book 
in singing." 


He said, "I seldom try to quote Scripture, 
for I am liable to change one or two words, 
putting in words of my own and leaving out 
the scriptural words,'' and he said, further, "I 
note that many others do the same thing. So 
to avoid this common fault, I read the words 
out of my Bible. That is why you see my 
Bible nearly worn out." 

''This, he said, holding up his well-thumbed 
book, ''is the fourth Bible that I have worn 
out;" meaning, of course, the physical book, 
and not its contents. 

At every meal, we all bowed our heads and 
my father would lift his hands and say, ''Gra- 
cious Lord, accept our sincere thanks for these 
and all Thy kind provisions and save us in 
heaven for Christ's sake. Amen." 

At night, sometimes at the supper table, 
sometimes at bed time, depending on who was 
at our home. When strangers were with us, 
it was at the supper table, if our family alone 
were present it would be at bed time, my 
father w^ould get his Bible and without a word 
of explanation, would open it and read one of 
the Psalms or something from the New Testa- 
inent; the reading would include the most di- 
verse subjects, from evening to evening. Then 
he would say, "Let us pray." I note that his 
prayer alw^ays followed the subject of thp 


reading. These prayers were impromptu ami 
were Tery eloquent, very devout, very humble 
and were always supplications. He did not 
pray the prayers that I have heard others 
pray, wherein they give to God all sorts of 
information and then ask Him what He 
thought of it. 

After these ^'family prayers" were over, he 
would go out in the night and be gone an hour 
or more, as if the ^'family prayers'' reminded 
him that he ought to pray. Out under the 
starry heavens, he w^as alone with his God, 
there he could lift up his heart in con- 
templative, peaceful, adoring mood, with the 
windows of his soul open toward the sky, with 
the visible splendor of the constellations over 
him; he was ready to receive, willing to have, 
and anxiously awaiting any and all commun- 
ications from the unknown. At such times, 
with his heart full of gratitude for all favors 
received and sending up to God his whole 
soul in pure elevated thoughts, like the per- 
fume of the flowers in the night; lost in ador- 
ing, dazzling, admiration, hardly knowing 
Avhat was passing in his own mind, but he said 
that he sent "something away and received 
something in return." 

His meditations were of tHe grandeur and 
majesty of God, of the infinity of the future, 
of the eternity of the past, of all the vast 


insoluble mysteries on every hand, and not 
trying to unravel the puzzles, he gazed in won- 
der at them. 

He saw the obdient suffer as well as the dis- 
obedient. Saints as well as sinners. He saw 
old age and death coming to all alike. He 
saw the thorns growing with the flowers. 

He saw the human bandits robbing the law 
abiding man. 

He saw that joy lasts only a day, but tears 
and sorrows are with us a whole lifetime. He 
saw that there was little in this life to satisfy 
one. That all our plans seemed to be cut short. 
Yet, he said, ''God is good, and He knows 
how it will end. It will end as He wants it to 
end. No man can spoil the final plans of God.' 
He worshiped, he adorned, he trusted God. 
In this trust was centered the reserved force, 
confidence or faith which gave to him, above 
anv man I have ever known, that power which 
served him in every emergency of life and did 
not desert him in death. 

His life was a life of love. He loved God, 
and he loved his fellow men. 

The cruelty, hatred and oppression of others 
simply revealed to him a greater opportunity 
to teach them, to show them in his own life, 
the immense difference between love and 


hate. "How can you hate one another," he 
said, 'Svhen love is so much better?" 

Some men labor for gold, others for lands 
and others property. Some for ambition and 
fame, but his whole effort, his every energy, 
his whole life and purpose, seemed to be di- 
rected to one end, to make the rich pity the 
poor, to make the high pity the low, to make 
the strong pity the weak, to make the intelli- 
gent pity the ignorant, to make the good pity 
the bad, to make the powerful pity the de- 
pendants, to make the gentle pity the vicious, 
to make the kind pity the unkind, to make the 
joyous pity the sorrowing, to make the peace- 
ful pity the malignant, to make the patient 
pity the impatient, to make the loving pity 
those who hate. This was his gospel, this 
was his text for all sermons. He might vary 
the words, but he never varied his theme, this 
was the burden of every sermon, this was 
the pith of every prayer, this was the sub- 
ject nearest his heart, this was his life, this 
was ''the all" to him; the theme was so high, 
so low, so broad, so long that it left himself 
at one side neglected and forgotten, but still 
looking on in wonder and anticipation, reflect 
ing and meditating to find some new plan or 
course wherein he could do something more 
to bring in the Kingdom, where the strong 
would bear the burdens of the weak. 

Resolutions of respect, passed at a meeting 


of the Diciples of Christ at Oak Grove, Pitt 
County, N. C, October 8th, 1870. 

On motion of M. T. Moye, the resolutions 
in regard to Elder Amos Johnston Battle were 
adopted and ordered to be placed on our min- 

Whereas, It has pleased Almighty God, the 
Sovereign Ruler and Disposer of events, to re- 
move our well-beloved brother and co-laborer 
in the Lord, Elder A. J. Battle from his sphere 
of earthly usefulness; and 

Whereas, The Disciples of Christ of North 
Carolina for whom he has labored so faithfully 
in the past, have heard the melancholy tid- 
ings of his decease; now, therefore, be it 

RESOLVED: First, That while as Christians 
we are constrained to bow with submission to 
the afflictive dispensation of his Father and 
ours, we feel that one of our noblest men has 
been gathered to his fathers, and that the 
Church has lost one of its most eminent 
preachers, so eminently qualified by the clear- 
ness of his mind and child-like purity and sim- 
plicity of his life for the promulgation of the 
primitive Gospel; 

Second, That the Moderator of this Confer- 
ence be requested to appoint some brother to 
prepare an obituary notice of the deceased 
to appear with the minutes of this Confer- 
ence and to become part of its records. 


Third, That we tender our heartfelt sym- 
pathies to his surviving partner and other 
members of his family in their bereavement, 
and assure them of our great and abiding con- 
fidence that God will sustain them by His 
grace if they lean upon His love; 

Fourth, That a copy of these resolutions be 
forwarded by the clerk of the meeting to the 
Avidow of our departed brother, and that the 
"Christian Review" and the ''Christian Stand- 
ard,'' of Cincinnati, and the "Wilson Plain 
Dealer' be furnished with copies for publica 



Rev. M. T. Moye was appointed to write the 
obituary notice and Rev. John T. Walsh was 
asked to preach a funeral sermon on Satur- 
day night in memory of Elder Battle, which 
was done. 

This sermon was very eloquent and beauti- 
ful and portrayed the character of my father* 
in the most eloquent terms. It was delivered 
impromptu and no copy of it was preserved. 

The Rev. Moses T. Moye's obituary notice is 
as follows, omitting that part copied by Mr. 
Collier Cobb, which includes the first three 


"In early life he was deeply impressed with 
the importance of obeying God and having his 
mind greatly confused by the mystic and mud 
died doctrines of those who deny to man free 
agency. For a few years during his early man- 
hood he gave himself freely to the pleasures 
and frivolties of the world. These proving al- 
together unsatisfactory, and feeling deeply 
impressed with the convictions that life should 
be devoted to more noble gratifications, he 
again directed his mind to the serious con- 
templation of the salvation of his soul. Still 
mystified by those "mysterious manifesta- 
tions" of spirit so often portrayed in the ex- 
perience of those who united with the Church 
in his vicinity, he sought by prayer and humble 
supplication that God would make knoAvn to 
him either by an audible voice or by some 
mysterious agency, his acceptability and doc- 
trine to eternal life, and failing in this to ob- 
tain that peace of mind for which he sought, 
he turned to the living oracles of God, and 
learning therein the Divine will, he became 
obedient to the Faith, uniting with the Mis- 
sionary Baptist Church at Mt. Zion, Georgia, 
in his twenty-third year. 

"Three years later he was ordained to the 
ministry. Entering upon his ministerial career 
with a zeal and fervency which few possess, 
he devoted his talents, his means and his life 
to the proclamation of the glorious gospel 


which he loved so well, preaching very suc- 
cessfully during the remainder of his life with 
the exception of a few intervals of short dur- 
ation — first to the Missionary Baptists, aft- 
erwards to the Disciples of Christ, with whom 
he became identified about eighteen years 
ago. Warm-hearted, self-sacrificing, zealous 
and greatly devoted to pure Christianity, he 
endured hardships as a good soldier, even 
w^alking from house to house and from church 
to church to proclaim the glad tidings of sal- 
vation. Patient, hopeful and forgiving, he 
meekly received the indignities heaped upon 
him, submitting his cause to God in the great 
Assize, where the secrets of all hearts shall be 

In the month of March, A. D. 1869, while 
successfully prosecuting his work as evange- 
list in the mountains of North Carolina, he was 
attacked with cancer near his right eye, which 
became so painful that he was compelled, re- 
luctantly, to abandon this inviting field, where 
the harvest was almost ready for the sickle, 
and return home to seek medical aid. 

"After applying several prescribed reme- 
dies, which failed to arrest the progress of the 
disease, he was induced as a last resort to 
place himself under the supervision of Dr. 
Kline, of Philadelphia, who professed to make 
the treatment of cancer a specialty. 


"Here, patiently enduring great suffering, 
both from the malignant disease and the se- 
verity of the treatment, which caused the loss 
of the right eye, at the expiration of five 
months he returned home so much improved 
that he himself and many of his friends were 
encouraged to believe that he would be speed- 
ily cured, but in this they were sadly dis- 

"Remaining home about six weeks, preach- 
ing occasionally at the Court House in Wil- 
son, the progress of his disease remaining un- 
checked, he returned to Kline's Cancer Infirm- 
ary. But the skill of the physician proving in- 
effectual, he was declared incurable and sent 
home to die. 

"For five or six weeks longer he lingered, 
prostrated by the most intense physical suf- 
fering, from which he was' relieved by death 
on the 24th of September, 1870. 

"During the whole of his protracted suffer- 
ing, which extended over the space of more 
than eighteen months, no murmuring com- 
plaints against the afflictive hand of Provi- 
dence were ever known to have escaped his 

Addressing his wife and children a short 
time previous to his death, he said: 

" ^Do not be so selfish as to have me re- 
main here in this suffering condition. Weep 


not for me. Christ was made perfect through 
suffering, and I am willing to endure every- 
thing that the Lord may see fit to afflict me 
with. It will soon be over. And I am so 
happy at the prospect of rest and happiness 
that nothing disturbs me.' 

^'The humble petition to the pitying eye of 
God was beautifully answered in his conflict 
with the last enemy of man; for he died with 
out a murmur; but with the most perfect 
resignation as a Christian, he neither mur- 
mured nor complained. 

"Only one sorrow seemed to brood over his 
mind, and that was that he was denied the 
happy privilege of laboring in the Master'>^ 

"He often spoke of this with deep regret. 
The highest order of spirituality to be at- 
tained on earth was evidently acquired by him 
before his death. 

"As an evidence of the truthfulness of this 
assertion, the complete dedication of himself 
to God, found after his death among his pa- 
pers, in his own handwriting is hereby in- 
serted as follows: 

" ^Eternal and ever blessed God! I desire to 
present myself before Thee with deepest hu- 
miliation and abasement of soul, sensible how 
unworthy such a worm is to appear before 
Thee, TToly ^fajosty of Heaven, and to enter 


into covenant transactions with Thee, I am 
acknowledging myself to have been a great of- 
fender. Smiting on my breast, and saying 
with the humble Publican, ^'God be merciful 
to me a sinner," I come, invited in the name 
of Thy Son, and wholly trusting in His right- 
eousness, entreating Thee for His sake.' 

" ^Thou wilt be merciful to my unrighteous- 
ness and wilt no more remember my sins. 
Permit me, O Lord, to bring back unto Thee 
those powers and faculties which I have un- 
gratefully and sacreligoisuly alienated from 
Thy service and receive, I beseech Thee, Thy 
poor, revolted creature, who is now convinced 
of Thy right to him and who desires nothing 
in the world except to be Thine. It is with 
the utmost solemnity that I make this sur- 
render to Thee. I avouch the Lord this day 
to be my God, and I avouch and declare my- 
self this day to be one of His covenanted chil- 
dren and people.' 

" 'Hear, O Thou God of Heaven, and record 
in the book of Thy remembrance that I am 
Thine, eternally Thine.' 

" 'I would not consecrate to Thee some of 
my powers, or some of my possessions, or give 
to Thee a certain portion of my services, or 
all I am capable of for a limited time, but I 
would be wholly Thine, and Thine forever.' 


" Trom this day do I solemnly renounce all 
former lords which have held dominion over 
me; every sin and every lust which has most 
unjustly usurped dominion over my soul and 
in Thy name bid defiance to hell, and to all 
the corruptions which their fatal temptations 
have introduced into my soul. The whole 
powers of my nature, all the faculties of my 
mind and all the members of my body would 
I present before Thee this day ''as a long sac- 
rifice wholly acceptable to God," which I know 
to be my reasonable service/ 

u irp^ Thee I consecrate not only my person 
and powers, but all my worldly possessions, 
and earnestly pray Thee also to give me 
strength and courage to exert for Thy glory 
all the influence I may Have over others in all 
the relations of life in which I stand.' 

'' 'Nor do I consecrate all that I am and all 
that I have only to Thy service, but also most 
humbly resign and submit to Thy Holy Sov- 
ereign will, myself and all that I call mine.' 

-" 'I leave, O, Lord, to Thy management and 
direction all I possess and all I wish, and set 
every enjoyment and every interest to be dis- 
posed of as Thou pleasest, contentedly resolv- 
ing in all that Thou appointest for me my will 
unto Thine, and looking on myself as noth- 
ing, and on Thee, O, God, as tlie Great Eternal 
All, whose word ought to determine every- 


thing and whose government ought to be the 
joy of all rational creatures.' 

" 'Receive, O, Heavenly Father, Thy prodig- 
al, wash me in the blood of Thy dear Son, 
clothe me with Thy perfect righteousness and 
satisfy me throughout by the power of Thy 
spirit. And, O, Lord, when Thou seest the 
agonies of dissolving nature upon me, remem- 
ber this covenant, even though I should be 
incapable of recollecting it, and look with pity- 
ing eye upon Thy dying child. Put strength 
and confidence in my departing spirit, and re- 
ceive it to the embrace of Thy everlasting 

"Often seated by His bedside to receive spir- 
itual instruction, which flowed so freely from 
his lips, he often expressed to me his entire 
resignation, saying: 'No lingering shade of 
doubt of perfect acceptance with God disturbs 
my mind. I am perfectly resigned and will- 
ing and anxious for my earthly dissolution. 
Yet, I do not desire to hasten my death one 
minute, nor to prolong my life one moment, 
unless it is God's will. He knoweth best, and 
doeth all things well.' 


The humble petition to the pitying eye of God 
was beautifully answered, in his conflict with 
the last enemy of man, for he died without 
a perceptible pang, falling asleep in Jesus as 
peacefully and gently as a child seeks repose, 
nestling on the bosom of its mother. 

"M. T. MOYE." 

Wilson, N. C, Oct. 26, 1870. 

Eev. Peter Hine's beautiful remarks, so 
affecting at his burial, touched many a heart, 
coupled as they were with the hymn selected 
by Bro. Hines. 

*'Dear as thou wert and justly dear. 

We will not weep for thee; 
One thought shall check the starting tear, 

It is that thou art free.'' 

Here is a letter received from Rev. J. J. 

Harper at the time that he sent to me the fore- 
going minutes and obituary notice. As his let- 
ter confirms statements already made about 
my father, I insert it in full. 



Smithfield, N. C, Oct. 22nd, 1902. 

Mr, J. M. Battle, St. Louis, Mo. : 

Dear Bro. Battle — It gives me pleasure to 
have found the proceedings in memory of your 
father and to place them in your hands. The 
^^Conference'' (then called) at which the action 
was had, was held at Oak Grove, Pitt County 
(N. C), and the resolutions were passed, and 
the obituary notice, ordered on the 8th day of 
October, 1870. I also have had copied the 
reference to Elder Peter Hines' remarks at the 
funeral. Your father was held in high esteem 
by his brethren, including my father, at whose 
home He was a frequent visitor, I distinctly 
remember how unusually devout he was at all 
times — how spiritually minded and conse- 

I remember to have heard him tell my fa- 
ther about the ^^seasons of refreshing from the 
presence of the Lord," that would come to him 
as he walked alone the road. He traveled 
much in this way. He was a strong preacher, 
logical, pathetic and earnest. Some of his fa- 
vorite texts were: 

"Wilt thou be made whole?'' 
"Let brotherly love continue." 
"Be a good soldier of Jesus Christ." 
"This one thin*:: I do." 


*'Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these 
three, but the greatest of these is charity,'' and 

^'But thanks be to God who giveth us the 
victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 

I have either heard him frequently quote 
these Scriptures or use them as texts, or both, 
and others that I could name. I expect to see 
him again "some sweet day." God bless you 
and yours. Your Brother in Christ. 




My mother's maiden name was Margaret 
Hearne Parker. She was a daughter of Weeks 
Parker and Sabra Irwin Hearne, both of Edge- 
combe County, N. G. 

Weeks Parker, my grandfather, and Sabra 
Irwin Hearne had both been married before. 
Weeks Parker had one son, John H. Parker, 
by his first wife; and Sabra Irwin Hearne, 
whose first husband was James Cooke, also 
had one son, James Cooke, Jr., who was a 
graduate of West Point and commissioned a 
second lieutenant in the U. S. army and after- 
w^ard was promoted to be a Major, and died in 
Wadesboro, N. C, while on his way to pay off 
some soldiers at some point in South Carolina. 

This second marriage was a happy one; and 
all the parties concerned seemed perfectly 
satisfied with the marriage; for they all 
seemed devoted to each other; the best proof 
that there was no dissatisfaction. 

The second marriage gave to this loving 
couple three children, my mother, then a broth- 
er, Baker Simmons Parker, and a sister, Hen- 
rietta Sabra Parker. The brother married his 


cousin, Emely Matthewson; one son was born 
of this union, and they named him Weeks Par- 
ker, for his grandfather. This Weeks Parker 
married Miss Anna Pitt of Edgecombe Coun 
tj (N. C), and there are six children from this 

Henrietta married Benjamin Dossey Battle, 
a brother of my father. Two daughters and 
two sons were the fruit of this union, Helen, 
Dossey, Claudia and Richard. 

Helen married Dr. Ad. Ricks and left no 

Dossey married Miss Mollie , adopted 

daughter of Judge Reid, of North Carolina. 

A boy, Dossey, and a girl, Helen, are the 
fruits of this union. 

Claudia never married. 

Richard married first Miss McDaniel, with 
no issue; after his first wife's death he mar- 
ried Miss Belle Wingate of Wake Forest, N. 
C, and this union was blessed with three chil- 
dren, Wingate, Cullen and Richard. 

My mother's marriage was blessed with nine 
children, five boys and four girls, namely, Car- 
oline Parker, Ann Judson, Martha Louise, 
James, Walter Raleigh, Katie Johnston, 
George Boardman, Cullen Andrews, and Jesse 
Mercer, the author of these memoirs. Caroline 
married Dr. W. J. Bullock, and left a son Ed- 


ward and a daughter Susan. Ann married 
Dr. Wm. B. Harrell and gave to the state a 
numerous progeny, namely, Eugene, Ida, Rosa, 
Leon, Annie, Claude, Mabel, and Albert. 

Martha Louise married Arch Rhodes, and by 
this union was given six children, two boys, 
Julian and Walter, and four girls, Margaret, 
Henrietta, Minnie and Clyde. The first hus- 
band dying, she married Blake Rhodes, a broth- 
er of her first husband. By this union there 
was born several children, of whom only one 
survives, by name Rosa. Walter Raleigh 
never married. James died in infancy. Katie 
Johnston married Rev. Dr. Joseph H. Foy, and 
by this union were given two sons and three 
daughters. The two sons, Paul and Phillip, 
died in childhood, and one daughter, Florence. 
Tw^o daughters, Maud and Josephine, survive. 
Georo^e Boardman never married. He was 
killed at the battle of "Seven Pines," near 
Richmond, Va., in the Civil War. 

Cullen Andrews married Miss Ida Pugh, of 
Kentucky, and died without issue. Jesse Mer- 
cer, the writer of these notes, married Miss 
Laura Elizabeth Lee, of Clayton, N. C, and 
have only one daughter, namely, Helen, who 
married Eugene Fleming Smith, of St. Louis, 
Mo,, and have by this union one son, Eugene 
Battle Smith, and one daughter, Margaret Par- 
ker Smith. 


The name of my mother brings back to mj 
memory the sad, patient face of a delicate, 
frail being, white as a ghost. She was always 
thin, very thin, almost to emaciation. She 
was tall, and always wore black. I do not re- 
member to have ever seen her dressed in any- 
thing but black. When she was young she 
had red hair. When I first saw her to know 
that she was my mother, her hair was streaked 
with white, which made her hair look like a 
roan, the color made by mixing white and red 
hair together. Her face to me was very 
pleasant, a very faint smile could be seen, near- 
ly all the time. She was reserved and not 
easy to get acquainted with, but kind and 
considerate to all. She was very patient and 
not easily provoked, but was quick to resent 
anything like a slight or an aspersion, uttered 
against any of her family. She was amiable 
at all times and could seldom be throw^n off 
her usual composure. Her benevolence .was 
so well recognized by all that knew her, that 
she w^as the first one to be consulted when 
others got into trouble. It was when such ap- 
peals were made to her that her sweet, char- 
itable disposition could be seen and recog- 
nized. She lived in the presence of the un- 
seen, and her devotion to her religion made her 
a great source of consolation to all in trouble. 
She was earnest at all times, and no one ever 
suspected her of deception in any matter. She 


was SO serious at all times that it was re- 
marked about her, many times, that she could 
not see a joke. 

When others would seem to lose their faith 
in an overruling Providence, she would say 
that ^'all will yet work out right." 

While she was generous in her own way, she 
had been imposed upon so much herself and 
had seen her husband, my own father, begged 
out of all that he possessed, which brought 
real poverty to our family and deprived her of 
many of the comforts that she had been used 
to all her life, that she had learned that the 
people who had the nerve and cheek to ask for 
things were not the people who suffered, but 
the people who were poor, but too proud to 
beg, were the real sufferers. So she did not 
always give when she was asked to do so, but 
was quick to respond when she could see that 
it was a real charity. 

She was high-minded and Honorable above 
any woman I ever knew, and ascribed to every- 
one the highest motives, but was quick to dis- 
cover fraud and to drive it out of her sight. 
She was quick to forgive an offense, but if the 
offense was repeated the offender did not get 
much pleasure in her company, for she could 
freeze out unwelcome guests in the most pol- 
ished manner. She delighted in having a 
peaceful home; she would not tolerate bicker- 


ings, quarrels or brawls in the family. The 
only time I remember to have been whipped 
by my mother was for fighting my brother Cul- 
len, and at that time she whipped us both. 
To my eyes she was as pure and good as an 
angel from heaven. She had no bad habits or 
little vices. She w^as a living example of the 
highest type of womanhood. In going over her 
life for the thirty-seven years that I knew her 
I cannot recall a single piece of injustice or '^, 
mean action, or the utterance of a single ugly 
word by her lips. With such a mother and 
such a father, with their examples before me, 
how could I be anything but a decent, respect- 
able, honorable man? 

My dear mother, you have been gone to your 
long resting place for many years. Your poor 
body has long since gone back to mix with the 
elements, but the memory of your dear, sweet 
life remains with me. Your fine. Christlike 
example has kept me out of temptation's way 
many times, and though you are pronounced 
dead in the language of earth, you are not 
dead to me. You were never more alive to 
me than you are to-day. When I have joys I 
want to tell them to you, and when trials come 
I need your calm words of reassurance to 
lighten the burden. From my position on the 
earth I cannot see your poor, delicate body 
moving around or hear your words of encour- 
agement and consolation as in the old days; 


but it may be from your new life that you are 
permitted to see me as I am here and to sympa- 
thize with me, and it may be that the influence 
of your dear spirit hovers near me this Christ- 
mas eve and stirs up anew my undying love 
for you, that prompts me to write this tribute 
to you. It will not be long before I join you, 
just a few more days, months or years, and I 
will be with you, and my other loved ones who 
have passed through the "valley of the shad- 
ow of death.'' There is nothing fearful in death 
for me. Nature's story, told in simple language, 
tells me that everything earthly that lives 
must die, and why not I? When the greatest 
majority of my loved ones are gone, it would 
be folly to choose to remain, where, in a few 
more years, I would be left as a stranger in a 
strange land. So to doubt the wisdom of the 
plan which takes every creature that breathes 
to another home is to doubt the goodness of 
our Maker. I do not, of course, know that all 
is right, but I believe that it is; and this un- 
faltering trust in my God gives to me the as- 
surance that aids and supports me in my tran- 
sition to another home. 



It seems that everybody loves a baby. This 
seeming is very near the reality. Is it the in- 
nocence, the ignorance, or the helplessness 
that appeals to so many? Or is it the possibil- 
ities of development that whets the curiosity 
to watch the growth of the infant, to see what 
he or she may become? Whatever the inter- 
est is, it is surely in existence. The interest 
is in the real or the ideal baby. So there must 
be a baby — whether in prospect or in reality. 
It does make a difference as to whose baby it 
is. Sometimes the baby is waited for with a 
loving longing, which is of the most absorbing 
interest. Again, the poor little baby, all un- 
conscious of the terrible hate, abhorrence and 
dread of his or her coming, comes to find any- 
thing but a kindly welcome. Sometimes the 
purposeful neglect sends the poor little unwel- 
come baby to his or her long home before baby 
has come to a consciousness of the fact that he 
or she was a baby at all. In such a case, it 
could not be truly said that all, even seeming- 
ly, loves a baby. 

Now, when I was born, I have been told that 
I was present, and that I had much to say 


about it all, but my language was incompre- 
hensible to all the others that were present. 
Many efforts were made to understand my re- 
marks, with but little success. I have been 
told that nearly everything I said was uttered 
in such a tone of complaint that all agreed 
that I objected to being born at all. If this 
is true, the statement would agree with an- 
other statement that the disposition of the 
mother, under such circumstances, is given to 
the child. I have been told that my mother 
objected very much to having another baby 
sent to her. And no one could blame her, for 
I have been told that she had presented to her, 
before me, just eight more babies. So when 
she had been told that the Lord loved her so 
good that He was going to give her another 
baby for good measure, it is no wonder that my 
mother sat down and had a real, good, old- 
fashion cry. This cry was hardly a cry for joy, 
but was a genuine cry of anguish, the overflow 
of a heart full of apprehension of coming 

The event finally arrived, on November 10, 
1850, and I have been told that my mother had 
another cry, this was because the baby that 
came was another boy. Of the other babies 
that had been given to my mother, four were 
boys and four were girls, a very equal division, 
leaving no grounds for complaint. So it seems 
that this last piece of information given to 


me, about what happened at the time, is not 
reliable. So I decline to believe that my 
mother cried because I was born a boy. There 
must have been another reason, that she kept 
to herself — but, anyway, another piece of infor- 
mation came to me about this most interesting 
period of my life, and this is, that when my 
father came in and found my mother crying 
about the new arrival, he said, "Never mind, 
dear; this little boy will take care of you in 
your old age." This was really a true proph 
ecy, for my mother came out to St. Louis with 
me in 1878, and lived with me nearly all the 
time till she died in 1887. 



My earliest recollections recall the fact that 
my mother's family lived in Wilson, N. C. We 
lived in a large house, and it was called "The 
Battle House." It was one block from the 
railroad depot, and sometimes strangers who 
got off the trains would come up and stop at 
our house. At such times, when there were 
strangers, I with the other children was made 
to wait till the second table. This displeased 
me very much, for I could not understand why 
my mother, who loved me so much, would make 
me wait and let a stranger eat all of the best 
things and leave me to eat what was left over. 
When I was older I learned that my mother 
was keeping a boarding house or a hotel and 
earned the money this way to buy the food thai- 
we all ate. I know now that this must have 
been a great humiliation to her, for my mother 
was the proudest woman I ever knew. My 
childhood was spent mostly in crying, for real 
as well as imaginary troubles. My mother 
was very busy, and as white as a ghost. So T 
know now that she must have been a very deli- 
cate woman. She looked like a strong wind 
would have blowm her away. I saw my moth- 


er every day, but was allowed to spend only a 
few minutes at a time in her company. I was 
taken away, out in the yard if the weather was 
warm, or out in the kitchen or wash-house if 
the weather was cold. Negroes were my com- 
panions. I played with them, and spent my 
time with them all day, till I was about seven 
years old, when I was started to school. I knew 
my alphabet and how to read a little. This 
start on the way to an education was given to 
me by a good old colored woman I called 
Mammy. (Her name was Dinah.) She was a 
God-fearing creature. She said her prayers 
often. She taught me the Lord's prayer, ''Our 
Father who art in heaven," also the other 
sweet prayer, ^'Now I lay me down to sleep." 
This good woman remained with our family 
till 1865, w^hen the Civil War ended, when she 
left us and moved down to Greenville, N. C, 
where her husband, whose name was ^^Shade,'* 
lived. After the emancipation of the slaves 
she said that she could never enjoy her "free- 
dom" as long as she lived with her master and 

My father was away from home a great deal. 
He was a Baptist preacher, and a missionary, 
and he was so busy saving the heathens down 
in the coast part of the State that he had no 
time left to impart knowledge to his barba- 
rian children. I use the word barbarian about 
myself advisedly, for I can look back now, 


from the standpoint of a superior development, 
and I know that I was but little removed from 
the negroes that I played with, and some of 
them were like the animals in the forest. My 
father read in his Bible that it is "harder for 
a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than 
for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" 
and that he should "give to him that asketh 
thee," and "to him that would borrow of thee, 
turn not thou away," and he believed this was 
a revelation from God, and was absolutely nec- 
essary to be done, so he did it. He was rich 
in lands and negroes, but he gave away to 
tlose that asked him and lent to those that 
wanted to borrow — and their "name was le- 
gion" — until he had nothing left to provide for 
his own. The first children were all w^ell edu- 
cated. They had the best advantages the 
schools of the country afforded. Not so with 
the last three boys, of which I was one. We 
w^ere sent to school some, but increasing pov- 
erty, due in a large measure, to the Civil War, 
cut short our school days, and sent us out in 
the world to earn a living. The living we 
earned was a scant one, for I remember teach- 
ing school when I was sixteen years old, for 
fi^e months, and collected, in all, for the five 
months' work the munificent sum of seventeen 
dollars and sixty-five cents. When I note that 
during this five months I was walking three 
miles to school and three miles back home 


again, with a cold dinner eaten out of my tin 
bucket that I carried from home, I now realize 
how meager were my earnings. At that time 
I did not realize w^hat a great service this hard 
work and poor pay was doing for me. 

It gave to me the one thing important above 
all others for the beginner to know, namely, 
an absolute faith in myself, that I could do the 
thing that I had planned to do. I do not mean 
that I actually did do all that I had planned 
to do, or that I never failed in my purposes. T 
mean that I had confidence in myself, and this 
confidence gave to me enterprise and this enter- 
prise would start me off on my journey toward 
success. Starting toward the goal is as nee 
essary as reaching the goal. In fact, there is 
a greater stimulation in the starting than in 
the finding and reaching the goal. All the 
causes of success and failure in a worldly sense 
are to be found between the starting and the 
ending. Here is where we discover the wide 
difference between how we intend our plans to 
work, and how they really work. Our plans 
are made with all the ability and capacity that 
we can command, and if we could command all 
the other individuals who are involved in our 
plans, and they would obey implictly our com- 
mands the results might be more satisfactory 
to us, and again they might be less satisfac- 
tory. So the various results, all the way, the 
working out of our plans, are as various and 


as satisfactory and otherwise, as there are 
combinations of capacity and lack of capacity, 
and obedience to commands and disobdience 
to commands. In other words, none of us 
know all of what we want, and none of us 
could do it all, even if we knew it. So I now 
know that I have often ^'builded wiser than I 
knew," and have, on the other hand, thought 
that I was building very wisely, and found my 
house w^as built on the sand, and it tumbled 
down when the storms came. 

As a school teacher, I thought at the time 
that I was a dismal failure, and have never 
changed that opinion. Yet several of my old 
pupils have told me that I gave to them the 
first impulse to be a man; and that they had 
gone on and achieved success. This informa- 
tion is very gratifyng to me, but when I sit 
down and think of the fool things that I did 
about this period of my life, I w^onder that I 
could give to anyone an impulse to be a man. 
As an example, I heard an old teacher say 
once that if a boy wanted to be healthy he 
should take a cold bath every morning. We 
had no bathtub at my home, nothing but a 
washtub, and no way to get water into the tub 
but by drawing it from a well in a bucket, fas- 
tened to the end of a long pole; the upper end 
of the pole was fastened to a long piece of tim- 
ber, and this timber worked in a slot cut in the 
top of a post in the manner of a "see-saw." 


When the bucket was forced down the well, 
the end of the timber farthest from the well 
would go up in the air, and when the bucket 
full of water came up, the same end of the tim- 
ber farthest from the well w^ould come down 
and rest on the ground again. It was called a 
"well sweep." The labor, to "draw water," as 
this movement was called, was too laborious 
for a sickly boy of sixteen, who was small for 
his age. So this boy, who was myself, in my 
foolishness, figured out that the creek w^as the 
best and easiest way that I could get the cold 
bath that I believed was to give me health 
and strength. So, on my way to school, I 
would come to a creek, there I would stop, pull 
off my clothes, and go into the water. I would 
lie down in it. Sometimes there would be thin 
ice on the edge that I would break as I went 
in the water. It was so cold that I would al- 
most faint with the chill; my hands would be- 
come numb with the cold, so that I could hard- 
ly dress myself, putting my clothes on my wet 
body. I did not have sense enough to take a 
towel along to dry my body before putting on 
my clothes. Sometimes I would remain cold 
all day, if the trot that I would take after 
the bath did not warm me up. About this 
period of my life it seemed that I could never 
get rid of having chills. I had a chill nearly 
every day for three or four years. I took qui- 
nine every day as regular as I tried to eat my 


meals. Sometimes I had no appetite, and I 
weighed less than a hundred pounds. No one 
told me that I should not drink this water out 
of the creek or out of a ditch, so I kept on 
drinking such surface water and having chills 
as long as I lived in the country around Wil- 
son. I noAV believe that all or nearly all of my 
sickness at that time was due to the fact that 
I took those cold baths and drank the surface 

I went to school in 1865, in Wilson, to Prof. 
D. S. Richardson. He was a New Englander, 
a fine teacher. He kept every boy and girl in 
a spelling class as long as they went to school 
to him. He also made each one write from a 
copy, for one hour every day, so these were 
two of the necessary branches of an element- 
ary education that he uniformly gave to nearly 
all of his pupils. At this time our family lived 
on a farm we called "Walnut Hill," about three 
miles from Wilson, N. C, on the railroad to- 
ward Rocky Mount. 

One day I was walking home to the farm 
from school, and Julian Rhodes, my third sis^ 
ter's son, then about nine years, was with 
me; when we got to Toisnot Swamp, where 
there were two long railroad bridges, we saw 
a negro coming up the embankment from the 
water below; he had in his hands two turtles; 
we asked him how he caught them. He said, 


"On hooks." What kind of hooks? He said, 
*'Large fish hooks/' and he showed us one that 
he had in his pocket. What did he put on the 
hooks? "Frogs.'' On the way going home 
Julian and I talked the matter over, and came 
to the conclusion that we must have some 
hooks. When we got home we told our story 
to the whole family and embellished it the best 
that we could, trying to enlist enough sym 
pathy with our plan to get the hooks. At last 
father said, "I will get the hooks for you." The 
next day Julian went home with me again and 
continued to do so as long as the interest in 
the turtles kept up. 

But this interest came to a very sudden stop. 
My father not only got the hooks for us, but he 
put the hooks on the lines and put some lead 
on, too, to help sink the hooks; he showed us 
how to put the frogs on the hooks, by hooking 
them through the back. He also told us to 
put our lines in places so that we would not 
forget where they were; but to tie them under 
the water so that others would not see them 
and rob our hooks. This we did in the morn- 
ing as we went on to school; in the afternoon 
we were so anxious to reap the fruits of our 
planning that we ran nearly all the way to the 
swamp. The first day we got two turtles out 
of the six hooks that we set. Wo did not know 
how to get the hooks out of the turtles' mouths, 
for they had swallowed the frogs, hooks and 


all. So we carried our trophies in pride and 
jubilation to the farm. Everyone in the fam- 
ily were highly pleased; for stewed turtle with 
some parsley put in for flavoring certainly does 
make an appetizing breakfast. Our good luck 
followed us for some time, and we had got up 
quite a reputation as fishermen. The enthu- 
siasm was dying out a little, for we no longer 
ran in our eagerness to get to our hooks, but 
went along more like workmen on their way to 

One day when we had lifted nearly all of our 
hooks without finding a turtle, we came to 
one of the hooks that seemed to be hanging 
onto something down under the water; we 
could pull the hook up a part of the way, and 
then there would be a pull on the line like 
there was a strong spring working against us. 
We could not pull the hook out of the water; 
Julian and I both had a trial at it; and 
we w^ere about to leave it, when I thought of 
one more way. I cut a pole with a fork at the 
top; with this pole I straddled the line with 
the fork, and, keeping the line taut, followed it 
down in the water, trying on each side of the 
line to dislodge the hook; at last, I felt the 
object on the hook giving way, and I was draw- 
ing the hook with what I thought to be a large 
turtle to the surface, when quicker than words 
can tell it a large copperbellied moccasin came 
out of the water with the hook in his mouthy 


He was at least one inch in diameter and three 
and a half to four feet long. My hands were 
so near his head I was afraid that he would 
bite me; I was so excited I really did not know 
what I was doing; but to save myself I grabbed 
him about the neck with my left hand; the 
snake was busy, too; he tried to turn his head 
to reach my hand with his mouth; but he did 
not have enough free neck to do so; he did the 
next best thing that he could; he brought his 
long wet body out of the water and threw it 
upon my shoulder and around my neck. I had 
already got out m}^ big jack-knife and opened 
it with my teeth; with this I commenced to 
cut off his head; two or three pulls of the sharp 
edge on his throat and his head was off, and I 
felt the body relax. I dropped my knife, took 
both hands and unwound the nasty, slimy, 
scaly body from around my neck and threw it 
oif with that strength born of panic, and got 
out of the swamp as quick as my legs could 
carry me. Julian was ahead of me, for as soon 
as he saw the snake he made a bolt to get 
away; he must have fallen in the water, for he 
was wet all over. We sat down on the rail- 
road, and after breathing hard for a while be- 
came calm; then my fighting qualities came to 
my rescue; so I went back, got my knife and 
the snake and brought him up on the railroad. 
Julian held the body while I pulled the skin 
off. We carried the skin home, and stuffed 


it with wheat bran, and this snake skin was 
hanging in my room when we moved away in 


This put an end to our turtle fishing. The 
shock was too great; we did not want another 
like it. 

Here is another piece of foolishness of which 
I was guilty: 

About the last year of the Civil War I was 
walking the railroad to school every day. The 
railroad bed was well worn, the rolling stock 
was in poor condition, and sometimes when a 
train would start from Wilmington or Golds- 
boro for Weldon it was no certain thing that 
that particular train would ever reach its des- 
tination. These poorly equipped trains would 
frequently overtake me, as I was on my way 
to the farm from school. So here is another 
place when my foolish calculations came near 
ending my days, as well as my career. 

There was a freight train that passed Wil- 
son about five o'clock p. m. This train would 
overtake me frequently as I was going up the 
hill after passing over the trestles at Toisnot 
Swamp. The train would be running slow on 
this up-grade. It was little effort for me to 
jump on the last coach as it came by. This 
coach was called the "caboose." Now, I fig- 
ured it out that I was foolish to walk nearly 
all the way home, and then jump on this pass- 


ing train and ride this sliort distance, so I 
would go down to the depot and get on the 
train as it started from Wilson and ride all 
the way home. The train was sure to slack up 
in speed w^hen it came to my hill. So I put in 
practice my plan for riding home. It worked 
fine; for some time the train would come close 
enough to five o'clock to get me home by sup 
per. But one day the train was late. Old 
John Crone was the engineer as well as con- 
ductor, on this particular occasion. I w^aited 
till nearly dark and still no train had come, 
and just as I was about to start on my long 
three-mile walk I saw the smoke of my train. 
I call it mine, for I had been riding on it so 
long I felt that I was really interested in it. 
It was but a short time before the train ar- 
rived. Old John Crone made one or two shifts 
of the cars, and with a very short train for a 
freight train, he halloed all aboard, and 
quicker than I can tell it, the train w^as in mo- 
tion, with me on the caboose as usual. It 
seemed to me that I had never rode so fast in 
all my life. Before I could realize where we 
were, w^e had crossed the bridges over Toisnofc 
Swamp and had started up the hill toward 
my home. Instead of slacking in speed as 
usual, it seemed to me that the train was gain- 
ing in speed. I looked for my landmarks, and 
there they were, and passing on behind like a 


flash. The telegraph poles looked like a fine- 
tootli comb enlarged, in a minute the train 
would be to my jumping-oh: place; but, good 
heavens, I could not jump from a train running 
as fast as this train was running. It would be 
certain death. What could I do? I had no 
money. The next station was four miles from 
my home. It was nearly night. What would 
my mother think if I did not come home? So 
in my perplexity and dire emergency, I could 
see only one thing to do — jump. I must jump; 
even if it killed me, I must jump. So, picking 
out a place between the old cross-ties that were 
on the side of the road, I threw off my books 
and my tin dinner bucket. Said one, two, three 
and off I went; as my feet struck the red clay 
mud my head kept on going forward till my 
face and the front part of my head were buried 
in the red mud. As I got up I was surprised 
to know that I was not dead. I knew that I 
was badly hurt, but I did not know the extent 
of my injuries. I felt of my nose. I thought 
it was broken. I put my hand on my forehead. 
I thought there was a hole in it. My mouth 
and nose were both bleeding. My mouth was 
full of the red mud. I spit out the mud and felt 
of my front teeth. I thought that they were 
knocked out; but none of these things were 
fully true. I was jarred awfully, I was hurt 
terribly, but I could discover no broken bones, 


and I could walk, so I went back, got mj books 
and bucket, and went on toward home, in the 
dark. I knew the path so well I got along 
very well. When I came to the little creek or 
branch just before getting to the house I 
washed my face as best I could. I w^ent to the 
kitchen and begged old Mammy Dinah to put 
some flour on my face to cover up the blood, 
which she did, and after eating a little I went 
to my bed in an outhouse, where I slept at 
night. My sleep was broken by fever and 
dreams of my sad experience. The next morn- 
ing early my mother came in to learn what was 
the matter. I told her only a part of the truth. 
I said that I had fallen down a hill and hurt 
my face. I was so sore that I did not get out 
of bed for over a week, and even then it took 
another week for the scabs to come off of my 
face. As big a fool as I was at this time I 
learned a lesson that lasted me a long time. 
The lesson I learned w^as this, "Don't steal a 
ride on a train," and "don't jump off while it is 

Here is another piece of foolishness I was 
guilty of about this time: 

There was another boy going to the same 
school, whose name was Charlie Clarke. This 
Charlie Clarke was about my size, though T 
think that he was one or two years younger 
than I was. There were other boys three or 


four 3'ears older than either of us — Bill Barnes, 
Leon Ellis, Frank Deems, the last-named was 
a talented son of the noted Methodist preach- 
er, the Rev. Dr. Chas. F. Deems, afterward pas- 
tor of the Church of the Strangers, New York 
City, and editor of the Churchman. 

These three boys learned that Charlie 
Clarke and I could be induced to fight on very 
small provocation. So every few days, at the 
midday recess, when all the teachers were out 
of the vfay, these older boys, who should have 
had more consideration for us youngsters, 
would get Charlie and me together, and by put- 
ting a chip on my shouder and telling Charlie 
that he was a coward if he did not knock the 
chip off and when this was done they would 
tell me that I was a coward if I did not whip 
Charlie for his act. Sometimes the chip was 
put on Charlie's shoulder, and the same pieces 
of information were given to us. So that it 
made little difference where the chip was put, 
whether on my shoulder or Charlie's shoulder, 
there was sure to be a fight. At first we were 
quite equally matched, but as the months 
passed by I noted that Charlie was getting 
heavier and stronger, so I figured it out that in 
a month or so more Charlie would be too heavy 
and too strong for me, and would whip me, so I 
dreaded such a humiliation, and to prevent it 
I got up this scheme. I met Charlie one morn- 


ing and said, Charlie, I like you; don't you like 
me? Charlie said Yes, Jess, I do like you. 
Then I said. Do you notice how these big boys 
get us to tight every few days, just for their 
amusement? Charlie said that he had noticed 
it. Then 1 said, I'll tell you what we will do. 
You and I can whip either one of the big boys. 
Now the next time one of the big boys tries to 
get us to fight I will grab him around the body 
and you punch his face, so when w^e get 
through with him this will end our fighting 
each other. Charlie agreed to my plan. It 
was not long before we had the opportunity to 
put into execution our j)lan. Bill Barnes was 
the boy we had to tackle, and he w^as the oldest 
and strongest of the three, but we were so 
quick and attacked him so unexpectedly we 
had little trouble in doing him up, and made 
him beg for mercy. This ended the fighting 
between Charlie and me. As years passed 
Charlie grew into manhood and he became a 
giant. He was six feet two inches and weigh- 
ed about two hundred and fifty pounds. He 
was made the Chief of Police, and in a negro 
riot in the town of Wilson he was the principal 
figure in one of the worst mix-up fights that 
ever took place in the town. When I saw 
Charlie years after this he had three terrible 
scars on his face, where somebody had cut 
three long gashes in his cheeks, all the way 


from his eyes to his chin. I asked him where 
he got these scars. He said, "Oh! a little 
scrimmage I got into." The other policeman, 
Peter Christman, told me some time after that 
a negro cut Charlie's face with a razor, but he 
went on and said, '^After the fight was over 
there were three dead niggers found where the 
fight had been." 

I made this remark to myself, "And this is 
the Charlie Clarke that I was trying to whip." 

As a youth, from ten to fourteen years old, 
there are only a few incidents, vividly im- 
pressed upon me, enough to come down 
through the flight of years. The memory of 
my boyhood companions is bright enough. I 
can call to mind Jim Clark and Alvin Clark, 
who lived diagonally across the street from us. 
I used to trade biscuits and ham with them for 

After supper in the evening at six o'clock 
there would be left a long part of the day, in 
the summer time. We were allowed to play 
until it was dark. I would leave the supper 
table with a biscuit and a piece of ham, that I 
had picked up and put between two halves of 
a biscuit. We were not allowed to eat meat 
at supper time when we were small boys. 

I would meet Jim and Alvin out at the cor- 
ner of out lot, which was a whole block of 


ground. There I would find him or them wait- 
ing with a cucumber pickle four or five inches 
long and an inch to an inch and a half thick. 
I would eat a whole one. These pickles were 
made with strong apple cider vinegar, and one 
was enough to kill a horse, but I ate it, not 
once, but many times. My system must have 
been gorged on vinegar at that time, for I 
have never been able to eat pickles or take 
acids in my stomach since, without pain, not 
even lemonade. 

Up the street that we lived on were some 
other boys: Gus Skinner and Willie Skinner in 
one family, with two sisters, Julia and Louise. 
Further up the street, opposite where Mr. 
Stevens lived, there was a Henry Skinner. Mr. 
Stevens had a son named Rozell. This Henry 
Skinner and Rozell were both older than 1, 
and I did not play with them so much. 

The Fountain family lived within a block 
of us and I was always fond of Spencer and 
William, that the boys called ^^Bill." There 
were George Deems, Eddie Deems, Bill Barnes, 
Bob Barnes, Leon Ellis, Alex Green, Jim 
Tucker, Allen Blount, Albert Bountree, all 
good boys. I knew them and liked them well, 
but I met them only at school. 

The same with Tom Hackney, Dug Hackney 
and George, but Jim Clark, Alvin Clark, Gus 


Skinner and Spencer Fountain and Bill Foun- 
tain were my chums. 

Willie Skinner, Gus' brother, was three or 
four years younger than I, and Avas small for 
his age as I was, although I was much larger 
than he. He thought the world of me, and 
so did I of him, till one day he got me into 
more real trouble than I had ever had before, 
and after this I would never play with him, 
the humiliation was too great, and I did not 
want another piece of experience like this. 

Here is the story and when you have read 
it you will say with me that I did right to 
cut his acquaintance. He was so young that 
he was hardly responsible, but he had some 
imagination and powers of invention, so I 
think that he must have known that what he 
did was w^rong. 

His mother was a poor woman, who had a 
great struggle to raise these four children. 
She worked hard and sewed and took in wash- 
ing to earn a living. 

This son, Willie, must have seen her put 
money away, for he got it all, a five dollar 
gold piece, a two and one-half dollar gold piece 
and two one dollar gold pieces and several 
quarters and dimes. He brought it all down 
to me. He first gave me some of the silver; 
then he took it back and gave me the five 


dollar gold piece, and then he took them back 
and gave me two quarters. He would hand 
me a piece of money and then change it. 

I thought he was very rich to have so much 
money. I asked him where he got it. He said 
his mother gave it to him. 

At last, night w^as coming on and he said, 
^'I must go. ''You had better take this," hand- 
ing to me the five dollar gold piece and one 
dime, and he said, "If anybody asks you w^here 
you got it, tell them that you found it in a 
goat's track." I could remember this very 
well. The next morning T was showing my 
money to Julian Rhodes and Julian's father 
came along and asked me where I got it. I 
remembered what Willie Skinner had told me. 
Willie came up as I was about to speak; I 
looked at him and he wiggled his mouth, and 
I understood it to mean that I must say what 
he had advised me to say. So I said, "I found 
it in a goat's track." Another question came, 
"Where was the goat's tracks." Then I had 
to get out of my trouble the best I could, so- 
I said, "Down there by the railroad.'^ Then 
Mr. Rhodes, my brother-in-law, said, "Come 
on and show me where you found it." I started 
off toward the railroad, with Willie Skinner 
and Mr. Rhodes following me: when I got near 
the water station I found a hog's track. It 
must have been a hog's track, because I learn- 


ed later that there was only one goat in town, 
and he was at the other end of town and was 
kept locked up, so there was no opportunity 
for him to make a track in our part of town. 
Mr. Khodes said, "Are you sure that you found 
it here?-' I said, "Yes.'' Willie Skinner spoke 
up and said, "Now, Jess, you know you are 
telling a lie, for I gave it to you." 

1 never felt so bad in my life. Here I was 
caught telling a deliberate lie, and the very 
boy who told me to tell the lie gave me away, 
and humiliated me before my brother-in-law. I 
guess I turned two or three colors; first pale^ 
then red; but after the first shock and pain 
of the revelation passed, I commenced getting 
angry and asked, "Didn't you tell me to say 
that?" He said, "No, I didn't." I did not 
hesitate, but I jumped on him so quick and 
beat him so fast, if Mr. Rhodes had not pulled 
me off of him, I do believe that I would have 
beat him to death, I was so angry. 

This broke up our friendship. I did wrong 
to give way to my temper. I have watched 
it ever since. 

I handed the money to Mr. Rhodes and said, 
"He stole the money from somebody, give it 
back, I don't Avant it." 

It belonged to his mother, and my mother 
sent it back to her. My mother did not whip 


me for it, but she gave me some sound advice, 
wliich in effect was that I did not have to do 
or say a mean or wrong thing for any one. 

This one vivid lesson has lasted me all of 
my life, and I have added another corroUary 
to the maxim given to me by my mother. 
It is this, if great things are involved, ^'you do 
not have to believe anything told to you by 
anybody until you prove it to be true.'' 

Of these, my boyhood companions. Bill 
Barnes, Leon Ellis , Rozell Stevens, Henry 
Skinner, William Fountain, Jim Tucker, Alex 
Green and Albert Rountree are dead. They 
were all dear to me. May God receive them 



After my experience in teaching school, the 
hardships and the small remuneration, I con- 
cluded that I would try another job. I was al- 
ways fond of tools, and liked very much to 
build things. 

So my father, noticing my mechanical talent, 
proposed that I should take a place with a 
Mr, John McBride, a Scotchman, who had a 
shop in Wilson. He was a watchmaker and 
a jeweler and a fine workman, but he had so 
many friends in town who visited him and he 
had just come from the war; he had spent 
four years with Lee's army in Virginia; he 
had gotten out of the habit of working and 
dreaded it so much that he could never be con- 
tented to Avork longer than an hour or two at 
the time, just long enough to pick up a few 
dollars to buy something to eat and to drink; 
something to treat his friends with when they 
came to see him. So when my father proposed 
that he should take me as an apprentice, I 
am sure that at heart he was delighted, but 
the thrifty Scotchman came immediately to 
the surface. He wanted to know how much 


money my father was willing to pay bim for 
teacnmg me to be a watcnmaker and jew- 

My father had no money to pay with and 
said so. Then Mr. McBride said that as my 
two brothers were in the same company and 
regiment with him till one was killed at the 
battle of Seven Pines, the other one was with 
him for the four years of the war, he, Mr. Mc- 
Bride, for the kind feeling he had for my broth- 
ers, would take me on trial. He could not pay 
me any wages, nor board me, so if I took the 
job it meant a six-mile walk every day to the 
farm, and a cold dinner out of my old tin 
bucket that had been my companion so long 
The prospect of being a good workman, and 
some day to have a business of my own, in- 
fluenced me to accept the position. 

I did not really know what years of drudgery 
were before me, so I took the job, with no pay, 
and I must board myself. Mr. McBride was 
uniformly kind to me, and he showed me all 
that he could teach me, but he kept me busy. 
When I went in the shop there were more than 
one hundred clocks left there for repairs and 
several drawers full of watches and a bushel 
of jewelry. Mr. McBride fixed up a w^ork bench 
for me and gave me the tools that he thought 
that T would need, and started me off to work 
on the clocks. At first I w^as awkward and 


I pinched my fingers with the plyers and 
mashed them with the hammers. The drills 
would slip oft* the piece of metal that I was 
drilling and pierce my hand, and many other 
accidents happened to me on account of my 
inexperience with tools. But a few months' 
use of the tools gave me the experience neces- 
sary and I was becoming a good workman. 
In one year I had cleaned up, repaired and 
delivered nearly all the clocks, over half of 
the watches and all of the jewelry. 

At first I went home every night, but this 
was too much walking to suit me, so I got a 
bigger dinner bucket and filled it with such 
things as I knew would keep for three days; 
after this I went home Wednesdays and Sat- 
urdays. One of the friends who visited Mr. 
McBride daily was a Dr. Stith, also bachelor 
as Mr. McBride was. On one occasion he 
brought in Mr. McBride's back room, where 
there was one bed, a man who had been in a 
fight, and was stabbed in the back just below 
the right shoulder blade. Dr. Stith was a good 
physician, but a poor surgeon. The sight of 
blood made him sick at the stomach, so he 
said. I had seen, on the farm, one of the 
negroes trim up little boar pigs and spay the 
little sow pigs and sew them up with a crooked 
needle, and heard all the squealing and fuss 
that was made during the operation. So the 


sight of a man with a little hole in his back 
did not make me sick at the stomach. So I 
volunteered to sew up the w^ound in the man's 
back. The doctor was glad to get rid of the 
job, so he told me what to do and how to do 

He dissolved some corrosive sublimate in a 
bowl of w^ater and had me wash the needles 
and silk thread in it. I also wet my hands 
in the water, and I sewed up the cut in the 
man's back and the man got well. This one 
act was the turning point in my life. All 
night I was rehearsing everything that I had 
done, every tiiue I Avaked up I w^ould think up 
other cases that I would operate on. So the 
long and short of it was that I started in to 
read medicine with Dr. Stith. I said, that 
I would rather be a doctor or surgeon than to 
be a watchmaker and jeweler. How these 
plans worked out you will see as you read these 



When I had been working with Mr. McBride 
for nearly two years, and had become quite an 
expert in repairing clocks, watches, sewing- 
machines and jewelry, the novelty of the busi- 
ness had worn off and I could see several very 
disagreeable features connected with my sit- 
uation. Most of my troubles were of the phy- 
ical kind and were felt in the way of discom- 
forts. I was living on cold food almost en- 
tirely and this was stale four days out of the 
six days that I worked. On Sundays I was at 
home in the country and had warm food. I 
would fill up like a boa constrictor so that the 
quantity I ate on some occasions attracted 
the attention of my father, who remarked 
that he "believed that boy (meaning me) was 
hollow all the way down His legs.'' The re- 
mark aroused a laugh at my expense, but it 
was no laughing matter to me. 

Another very disagreeable feature of my situ- 
ation was my sleeping quarters. The back room 
had one bed and a short bench, a "fireplace," the 
old fashioned kind with andirons for a wood log 
fire, a shelf and a looking glass and three 


or four chairs. When more company came 
than there were chairs for, some of them would 
sit on the bed, some on the bench; if there 
were more company still, they would sit on 
boxes secured from the stores near at hand. 
Almost every night we had a levee or party, 
it might be called, not a formal affair, but very 
informal affair. It might very safely be called 
a ^-smoker," for nearly every one smoked. Mr. 
McBride kept on hand a box of Durham smok- 
ing tobacco, and a dozen or so pipes, old 
fashion clay pipes with reed root stems and 
fig stems, a limb of fig as large as your middle 
finger and about eighteen inches long. The 
pith had been burned out with a red-hot wire. 
This made a pipe stem that was very aromatic 
and added a delicious flavor to the smoke 
of the tobacco. These "smokers'' were a daily 
occurrence, and if you can conceive a room 
about twenty feet square with eight to twelve 
men smoking in it every evening from 8 to 11 
o'clock, then you will know the kind of a place 
I had to sleep in. 

In addition to the smoking somebody would 
send out to the nearest saloon and get a bottle 
of whiskey or brandy and nearly all would 
take one or two drinks during the evening. The 
windows and doors were nearly always open; 
without this new air coming through the room 
all would have been killed with the smoke 


and carbonic acid gas. We had a big fire of 
oak logs and each one would back up to the 
tire for a warming. When bed time came 
about, many would go home, but frequently 
we would have as many as six to stay all night. 
One bed and one short bench for six to sleep 
on. On these occasions, I being only the hired 
boy, the floor was my bed, or a chair; some 
times I would try the floor for a part of the 
night, and when I felt my bones were coming 
through the flesh, I would get up, fix the fire 
and sit up the rest of the night, nodding as 
best I could. 

None of us undressed to go to bed. Some of 
the four who slept on the bed cross-wise were 
just as uncomfortable as I was. 

They did not seem to care for the discom- 
forts. If I had had a bed all to myself, as I 
knew some of these men had, I certainly would 
not have undergone the pain and discomforts 
that they did to get the questionable pleas- 
ures that they seemed to enjoy so much. 

I had been with Mr. McBride only a short 
time when he discovered that I could handle 
a razor almost like a barber, so he was glad to 
have me shave him. As soon as his various 
friends saw that I could sHave a man without 
cutting his throat, they all wanted to be 
shaved. These friends would commence com- 


ing in soon after 12 o'clock noon on Saturday, 
and would continue to come till the last of our 
regulars had come in and got shaved by the 
free barber. It is a curious thing that not one 
of these men ever offered me a tip or a pres- 
ent for all this gratuitous service. 

Had these men all been clean and genteel, 
my task would not have been such an oner- 
ous one, but they were mechanics, bricklayers, 
carpenters, cabinet makers and one tinner and 
one butcher. They would come to me right 
from their work, dirty, sweaty and begrimed, 
and I shaved them all alike, though I noticed a 
great difference in the odor of their breaths. I 
could smell garlic, cabbage, tobacco, whisky, 
bile and many other combinations that an ex- 
pert chemist could not name. There was one 
among the rest who washed his teeth with 
Sozodont, and only one man who washed his 
teeth at all. This one man had a sweet breath 
and he was the only one that I shaved with 
pleasure. The others I shaved because they 
were McBride's friends. 

One Saturday a man by the name of Jack 
HajG^n came in with the rest to be shaved. He 
was almost drunk and was very nervous. He 
kept telling me not to cut him. 

He l)ad a very stiff beard and an over- 
hanging chin, that is, there were hollow 
places under it that made it difficult to shave 
him, but I used lots of soap and got his 


beard real soft and had little trouble in giv- 
ing him a clean shave. On Sunday I heard 
through the man we sent to town for our mail 
that Jack Hagin was on a big drunk and had 
delirium tremens. 

Monday morning, when I came to town, I 
passed by the livery stables and saw a crowd 
gathered around the office, so I stopped to in- 
quire the cause of the commotion and was told 
that Jack Hagin Avas in there, that he had 
been out in the country since Saturday, that 
he must have been running through the briar 
patches, for his clothes were nearly all torn 
from his body. I got up as close as I could 
and looked in. There was Jack Hagin on his 
knees, praying, using only the words, "God 
have mercy, God have mercy," and kept re- 
peating these words. Soon I saw Dr. Stith 
coming, and I waited to see what he would do 
for Jack. The doctor told some one to take off 
Jack's coat and roll up his sleeves, which was 
promptly done. I saw the doctor with some 
kind of an instrument in his hand, I could not 
see what it was, but I saw him take hold of 
Jack-s arm and mash it with one hand and 
rub it with the other. I know now that Dr. 
Stith gave him a hypodermic injection of 
morphine. The result was almost magical. A 
change came so quick. Jack gradually quieted 
down. His prayers became weaker and weak- 


er until I could hardly hear him at all. In less 
than fifteen minutes I could not hear him. I 
saw the doctor come out. I walked along with 
him and asked him if Jack would get well. 
He said, ''iS^o, he is dead." I never had a 
greater shock in my life. The next day I 
shaved Jack again for the last time, and we 
buried him. The follow^ing Saturday w^hen all 
my free customers came along for their ac- 
customed shave, I told them that I had quit 
the shaving business, but if any of them died 
and I was sent for, that I would come and 
shave them, but as long as they were alive 
they could shave themselves. This ended my 
connection with the shaving business, as well 
as the watchmaker and jew^elry business. 

I w^as offered a position as a clerk in a 
general stock store at a salary of five dol- 
lars a month and board myself. As my mother 
owned the ^'Battle House" in the town, my 
brother and I persuaded her to move back to 
town, which she did in 1868. 

The man I started to clerk for was Mr. 
Joseph Kincaid, a son-in-law of Mr. Josiah 
Blackwell. Mr. Blackwell was a Boston man, 
and a fine business man. He had trained Mr. 
Kincaid in business, and Mr. Kincaid was well 
posted in his line, and a very successful man. 
He had married Mr. BlackwelPs only daugh- 
ter and Mr. Blackwell had taken his name out 


of the firm and it was simply Joseph Kincaid. 
I believed then as now, that Mr. Blackwell fur- 
nished the money to establish the business. 
His interest in the business was untiring. He 
was at the store, morning, noon and night. 
There was nothing in the store that he did 
not know. His energy and industry were 
prodigious. Every rainy day when there Avere 
few customers coming in, Mr. Blackwell would 
begin at one end of the store and throw down 
on the counter every piece of goods that was 
on the shelves, saying there was a certain piece 
of goods he was looking for. When he got 
them all down on the counter, he would say 
to Albert Davis, the other clerk, and to me, 
^^Well, boys, see how well you can wipe off 
those shelves and arrange those goods again.'' 
This was an all-day job. Albert would look 
at me and wink and say, "I knew he was go- 
ing to do that, he does it every rainy day. We 
are in for it, so here goes." Then both of us 
would put in a good day's work. 

I know now that that was Mr. BlackwelFs 
plan to keep the store clean as well as mak- 
ing us familiar with the whereabouts of every 
article in the store. Sometimes now I go into 
a store in St. Louis and ask for an article and 
wait and wait for the clerk to find it, and 
sometimes I get disgusted and leave the store. 
There is, of course, a difference in the size of 


the store, and in the number of articles kept 
in stock. When I clerked in that store, I could 
go into the store in the dark and lay my hand 
on almost any article that a customer would 
call for. 

Mr. Blackwell was an old man, but he was 
a very successful salesman. I would be near 
enough to hear him on many occasions when he 
would be selling something to a customer. 
Whether it was dry goods, hats, shoes, cloth- 
ing, groceries or hardware, I noticed that he 
always had a story to tell about the material, 
or about the process of manufacture. I picked 
up many of his stories and would use them 
myself in trying to sell goods. Some of his 
stories Avould convince my customer and some 
of them would not. When I failed, I would say 
to myself that I did not get the story exact or 
that I could not tell it so effectively as Mr. 
Blackwell did. One day a countryman came 
into the store and wanted to buy an iron pot. 
T started in to tell the man the same story 
that I had heard Mr. Blackwell tell on a former 
occasion. I told him that this particular pot 
was made in Baltimore and had just twice as 
much iron in it as the same ware made in New 
York City. That nearly all the pots in town but 
ours came from New York City, and were made 
too light and of course, being so light, would 
only last a short time, while our pots, being 


made in Baltimore and very heavy, would last 
a life time. The countryman said he did not 
know about that, that he had looked at some 
pots at Rountree's and he could see no dif- 
ference. About this time Mr. Blackwell came 
along. He had heard a part of what I had 
said and he had heard all of what the coun- 
tryman had said. So he came up and patted 
me on the shoulder and said, ^'The still sow 
gets the swill, Jesse," and he took the case out 
of my hands and went on and sold the pot. 
After the transaction was over, I saw Mr. 
Blackwell and asked him why he interfered 
with me while I was trying to sell. I told Mr. 
Blackwell that what I had said to the man 
was almost word for word what I had heard 
him say to another man. Mr. Blackweirs 
answer was characteristic. He said, "In the 
first place you got your man into the argu- 
mentative mood, and he was ready to leave the 
store. So to prevent this, I (Mr. Blackwell) 
had to side with the man." He said that he 
had learned that Rountree's price was 
eighty-five cents and he had made the price 
eighty cents, and the man had bought to save 
the five cents. He said further that if the 
man had gotten out of the store and gone back 
to Rountree's store, that he would have re- 
peated my story and Mr. Rountree or one of 
his clerks would have told him that Kincaid's 


man was lying, for the pots were not made in 
Baltimore at all, but were made in Richmond, 
Va.. and said further that this piece of in- 
formation would have done his store much 
damage, and when 1 asked him w^hy he would 
tell such a story then, he said, ^'When you 
want to tell a story, you must pick your man; 
get a man who wanted to hear it, and then you 
can tell it without doing harm, but never tell 
a story to a man when you see that he does 
not want to hear it." He said further, ''I can 
see that, Jesse, and you cannot; but you are 

One day a countryman came in and wanted 
two jjounds of sugar. I went over to the bar- 
rel and got a scoop full and putting some pa 
per in the scales, I poured in the sugar unti] 
the two pounds were weighed, as I thought, 
liberally and accurately. I looked over to- 
ward Mr. Blackwell and noticed that he was 
watching me closely. 

When the man had paid me and gone out, 
Mr. Blackwell came over to me and asked how 
much sugar the man had bought, and I an- 
swered, "Two pounds." Ho asked me again 
how much sugar I had given the man, and T 
answered, "Two pounds." 

He said, "Go and bring the man back and 
>veigh the sugar over again. I think you made 
a mistake." 


My heart jumped up in my throat, and I felt 
like telling Mr. Blackwell that if he wanted 
that man brought back and the sugar weighed 
again, he could go and do it himself, but I 
curbed my temper and choked down the words 
that were coming up in my throat, and w^ent 
out after the man. He was three blocks away 
when I overtook him and I said in my sweet 

est tones, ^'Mr. , my boss thinks that I 

made a mistake in weighing that sugar. Would 
you mind coming back to the store with me and 
let me weigh it again?'' 

He did not want to do it, but he saw the 
pain and anxiety in my face, so he went back 
with me and I weighed the sugar, and it 
weighed two pounds and two ounces. 

Mr. Blackwell did not take any of the sugar 
out of the package. He told the man that he 
was welcome to the two ounces, and he thank- 
ed him for coming back. After the man was 
gone, he turned to me and asked, "How much 
sugar was in the barrel?" I looked at the 
marks and answered, "Two hundred and 
twelve pounds." 

Mr. Blackwell then asked if I was selling 
the whole barrel of sugar at the same price 
and giving two pounds and two ounces each 
time I weighed the sugar, how much would 
the sugar bring? I had to put on my studying 


cap and after some calculating, I answered, 
^'Eleven dollars and eighty-eight cents." 

Then Mr. Blackwell asked me what the bar- 
rel of sugar cost, and I answered at five cents 
per pound, not counting the freight, it cost 
ten dollars and sixty cents. 

He then asked me how much the barrel of 
sugar would have brought had I w^eighed the 
whole barrel properly. I answered, "Twelve 
dollars and seventy-two cents." 

He then asked me what the profit was on 
a barrel of sugar weighed as I had weighed 
it. I answered, "One dollar and twenty-eight 

He then asked, "What would have been the 
profit on a barrel of sugar had you weighed 
it properly?" I answered, "Two dollars and 
twelve cents." 

He then asked what Avas the loss by my way 
of weighing, I answered, "Eighty-four cents." 

He then said, "Now, Jesse, don't think for a 
minute that I am bothering about this partic- 
ular eight-four cents. A merchant is not in 
business for his health, but for the profit in his 
business. There are some things we sell as 
an advertisement, and sugar is one of these. 
There is no profit in sugar at one cent ad- 
vance over the cost, for this one cent or two 
dollars and twelve cents per barrel, gives no 


profit after the freight is paid. I do not call 
your attention to the bad way of weigh- 
ing for the eighty-four cents we lose, but for 
the principle involved in the weighing itself. 
When you balance the scales you have weighed 
the thing you have in the scales, but when 
you put in something till the scales go down, 
you do not know how much you have weighed. 

^'Suppose you were selling arsenic on a doc- 
tor's prescription. If you give what is called 
^down weight' you kill somebody." 

Now, this piece of experience was about the 
most humiliating that I have ever been called 
upon to endure and at that time it so worked 
on my feelings, and I resented it so much that 
it was the actual cause of my resignation, but 
it made an impression on me that all the in- 
tervening years have not been able to blot out. 
Now, I can see that it was one of the best 
lessons ever taught to me by any one, and I 
know it has served me in more ways than one 
all these years. 



The ijain and humiliation given to me by the 
last experience started me looking for another 

The six months spent under a merchant like 
Mr. Josiah BlackAvell is worth more to a clerk 
than several years with a less competent man. 
So, when Dr. Peacock, of Stantonsburg, N. C, 
asked me if I thought I was capable of mark- 
ing a stock of goods and keeping a country 
store in good condition, I told him, *^Yes, I 
could do it." So he hired me at one hundred 
dollars per year, and gave me my board. T 
slept in the store house and boarded in his 
family. I had no trouble keeping the store to 
suit him. I did everything connected with the 
store, from making out orders for goods need- 
ed, to marking them, selling them, collecting 
the bills, keeping the books, paying the bills 
and all the other little things coming up in 
connection with the store, as keeping the ac- 
counts of all his farm hands, issuing rations 
to them on Saturday evenings and selling to 
them on credit to the amount that they would 
be entitled to at the end of the year, giving 


to them in goods, a little at the time, as the 
value of their labor increased and the season 
advanced to a close. 

Dr. Peacock told me time and again that he 
was much pleased with my work, and he hoped 
that 1 would remain with him for some time 
to come. This was more than pleasant to 
me, for the doctor had a daughter named Mol- 
lie whom I thought was the sweetest piece 
of flesh I had ever seen, and my admiration 
was growing every day. I do not call it love, 
for Mollie was only a child, thirteen or four- 
teen years old, a school girl, and had never 
even thought of such a thing as having a sweet- 
heart. I would simply look on her with the 
eyes of admiration as being a coming lady that 
I would like to kuow more of, but I saw very 
little of her, and the year passed so quickly 
that the rolling of time and its changing events 
carried me on to other places and other oc- 
cupations so quickly that she passed out of 
my mind and life. Afterward she married a 
very handsome young man named Billy By- 
num, whose life was ended when he was still 
quite young, leaving my first love a widow, 
and the pleasant memory has remained, but 
T have not seen Mollie in all these years, and 
sometimes I wonder if she ever knew that 
there was sucH a tender place in my heart for 


My year as a clerk with Doctor Peacock 
coming to a close and my attention being re- 
quired at home on account of the death of my 
oldest brother, I gave up, reluctantly, my po- 
sition and went back home to Wilson. 

The years 1869 and 1870 I spent in Wil- 
son. My mother rented out the "Battle House'' 
to Mrs. Richard Blount, reserving rooms for 
herself, my brother, CuUen, and me. Mrs. 
Blount gave to my mother her board and also 
the board of my brother as payment for the 
rent, and when I came in for board, Mrs. 
Blount said that I was not included in the 
contract, but my mother insisted that she stip- 
ulated he? family, and that I was her youngest 
son and child and must be included. So a com- 
promise was made, by which I was to get my 
board, but I was to visit the night trains and 
drum or solicit customers for the hotel. This 
I did; for the two years I would be present at 
the train that arrived at 11:30 p. m., when it 
was on time, and at the train which arrived at 
2:30 a. m., when it was on time. But these 
Southern trains w^ere then, in 1869 and 1870, 
just like the Southern trains now, in 1910, very 
liable to be one, two or three hours late. So 
sometimes I would not get my clothes off to 
go to bod for several days at the time. 

I was busy all day helping the railroad 
agent, ^Ir. John Daniel, load the cars with col;- 


ton and turpentine and rosin, the staples that 
made up the chief articles of shipment from 
up and down the Wilmington & Weldon R. R. 
Wilson. At night I was assistant telegraph 
operator, and did much in this line as a relief 

Besides these occupations, I had never fail- 
ed to keep up my study of medicine. All my 
leisure hours I was reading Gray's Anatomy, 
Leidy's Anatomy, Woods' Materia Medica, 
Flint's, Thomas' and Bigelow's Practice." 

Dr. Stith told me that I knew more about 
medicine than many doctors, but he said, "You 
must have a diploma to practice medicine.'' 
I asked him where I must get this "diploma." 
He said, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New 
York City all had medical colleges, and gave 
diplomas to their graduates. I asked him how 
much it would cost to attend the lectures and 
graduate in these colleges, and he told me 
he would find out. 

So he wrote to all of them asking for their 
terms and learned that Baltimore was the 
cheapest, and their price for two years, in- 
cluding board, would be six hundred dollars. 
It might have been six thousand as far as I 
was concerned, for I did not have the six 
hundred dollars and saw no prospect of hav- 
ing six hundred dollars for some years to 
come. I was very economical and saved all 


the money that I could lay my hands on, but 
somehow, every time I had about a hundred 
dollars on hand, some calamity would come to 
some of my sisters or to my nieces and they 
would ask for help and my savings would dis 
appear like frost before the rising sun. 1 found 
it absolutely impossible to get together more 
than one hundred dollars at one time. So, 
in my despar, I said that I could never get to 
be a doctor, because I could never get together 
at one time as much as six hundred dollars. 
The two years passed quickly by and then an- 
other opening or opportunity came to me. 



In March, 1871, a lightning rod company came 
to town. There were four wagons, all red, with 
their long ladders sticking out or protruding 
from behind. 

One day one of the managers of the light- 
ning rod company, a Mr. James W. Lee, came 
in the freight office to pay freight on some 
rods that had arrived for him. I handed the 
bill to him and took his money for the freight. 
He looked at me very attentively and said, 
"Young man, why don't you get out of here and 
get well and be somebody?" I said that I was 
looking for a job that would take me out doors^ 
and give me something to do, so that I could 
earn a living and get well at the same time. 
He said he needed a salesman as one of his 
men had gotten drunk and he had discharged 
him. He said if I would sell lightning rods 
that he would give fifty dollars per month, 
but, if I could not sell lightning rods he could 
not give me more than twenty-five dollars a 
month, and the last job was that of hostler 
or helper to the salesman. I told him that 
I was willing to take either job. That I would 


try to be a salesman at first and if I failed I 
would take the next job. I knew that I could 
not be put in a worse position than that I oc- 
cupied at that time. I look back now at what I 
did at that time and considering that I was 
sick all the time, was never well a whole day 
at the time, having chills every day or every 
other day and fever at night, it is a wonder 
that I did anything or learned anything at all. 

Mr. Lee must have had pity on me, for I at 
that time gave little promise of any success 
for myself or him either. I was very homely, 
had pimples all over my face and was the 
color of a pumpkin and weighed less than one 
hundred pounds, and wore a suit of clothes 
made out of a woolen blanket woven by the ne- 
groes on my mother's farm. My hat was a 
gray one, also a home product. It had gone 
to seed, for its crown ran up into a cone, giv- 
ing it the appearance of a fooFs cap. My shoes 
were, what we called "stitched downs," and 
made at home by the negroes. Everything 
I wore was "homespun" and I was about as 
green a specimen as could be found in the 
whole South. 

None of these things deterred Mr. Lee. He 
said, "Come on," and I went. 

My mother said she hated to see me go, for 
I was so delicate I needed a doctor all the 


time and I also needed her watchful care to 
keep me in the right way. 

We got on the lightning rod wagon and 
started on the road toward Tarboro, and about 
ten miles from Wilson, Mr. Lee stopped at 
some house and said to me, ''Go in and see 
if you can sell him a lightning rod." So I went 
in and when I hollered as loud as I could, 
*'Hey, hey, hello," at last I saw a man come out 
of the house, and he beckoned me to come on 
up to the house. So I went on. My heart was 
beating funny and I felt like I would choke, 
but I kept on. The gentleman was Mr. Rob- 
ert Pitt, whose daughter had been going to 
school in Wilson. He met me in a pleasant 
way and I told him my name and also told him 
why I had given up my job in the telegraph 
office and had gone out as a lightning rod 
salesman. I told him that the company that 
I was working for was a rich one, and handled 
a good quality of rods and if he had any idea 
of ever patting rods on his house, that now 
was a good time. That if he did not have the 
money convenient, my company would carry 
the account until Christmas. Mr. Pitt said 
he never thought of putting up lightning rods 
but as we were there he would have it done. 
So it turned out that he wanted rods on his 
residence and on his barn and gin house, which 
all together amounted to over two hundred 


dollars. We worked all the afternoon and a 
part of the next morning. Mr. Lee did most of 
the work, but I watched him and handed to 
him the right tool and the right piece 
of the fixtures. When he had put up one 
rod, beginning at the top, when the rod 
had been brought to the ground, he 
wanted a hole drilled in the ground, so he 
cut a small hole with his hatchet and filled 
it with water and took a section of rod about 
ten feet long and commenced to churn it up 
and down in the hole with the water in it. 
When he had drilled the hole about two feet 
down, he said to me, "Now, Jesse, here is 
Avhere you can get some strength. You go on 
now and drill this hole as deep as you can.'' 
So I took the tow sack he gave me, wrapped 
it around the piece of rod and started to 
drill the hole. The soil was sandy on top and 
the rod passed on down into clay, but the sand 
fell down into the hole that the rod made and 
thgugh the hole was kept full of ^ water, the 
rod would get stuck and was very hard to pull 
out. After w^orking and straining at it for 
ten or fifteen minutes I was almost exhausted. 
I did not realize how weak I was and before 
I knew what was to happen, I felt a dizzines8 
in my head and the next thing I felt some one 
Aviping my face with a wet tow^el or handker- 


chief. I had fainted and fallen on the ground 
from sheer weakness. Mr. Lee said, "You poor 
little devil, you are not able to work." I 
thought this meant that I was to be discharg- 
ed. So I said, "I am not very strong, but give 
me a chance. I will grow stronger as I work." 

After we left Mr. Pitt's place, we went on 
toward Tarboro; we stopped at some cross- 
roads, where there was a store. Mr. Lee said, 
"Jess, go in and see if you can sell the man a 
rod.'' I went in and found an old friend, Jim 
Frye, clerking for Mr. Farmer, the owner of 
the store. Mr. Farmer was not there; he had 
gone to Rocky Mount and would not be back 
until evening. So w^e fed our horses and made 
up the best dinner we could out of what we 
could buy in the store, which was crackers, 
sardines, cheese, pickles, brandy peaches, eggs, 
bacon or ham and sugar and coffee, for desert 
we had ginger snaps, brandy peaches and cof- 
fee. We carried a frying pan along, also a 
coffee pot, so we got along very well and had 
really more than we could eat. We drove on 
toward Tarboro and stopped for the night with 
a Mr. Knight. He was kin to the Lawrence 
family of Edgecombe County. He was very 
kind to us, and having a fine home and plenty 
of room, he made us very comfortable. 

The next morning, we had breakfast early 
as Mr. Knight said that he had to go to Tar- 


boro. Mr. Lee was anxious to sell him some 
lightning rods, so when Mr. Knight quitted 
the breakfast table, excused himself and walk- 
ed down toward the barn, Mr. Lee said, '^Jesse, 
go and try to sell to him some rods.'' My judg- 
ment was against making the trial, as I could 
see that Mr. Knight was in a hurry to leave, 
but I went on to where Mr. Knight was wait- 
ing for his horse, I walked up to him and 
said, "Why, Mr. Knight, you have no lightning 
rods on your house and this is a mighty good 
chance to get them." He said he had been 
thinking about it. How much were they 
worth? What would it cost for his residence, 
the barn and the gin house? I had to call Mr. 
Lee, who gave him an estimate. Then ]Mr. 
Knight asked how long it would take to fin- 
ish the work. Mr. Lee told him that we would 
finish by night. 

So Mr. Knight said, "All right, go ahead 
and do the work; I will be back before you fin- 
ish," and he jumped in his buggy and was gone 
before Mr. Lee could say another word; then 
he turned to me and asked what I had said to 
Mr. Knight to sell the rods so easily? I an- 
swered that I only said that "if he wanted the 
rods, now was a good chance." 

Mr. Lee said, "If you can sell lightning rods 
by saying such words, you will be the great- 
est salesman in the business. He said here 


were two big jobs that you have sold without 
any help from me. You did not spend fifteen 
minutes talking to either Mr. Pitt or Mr. 
Knight and both are intelligent men, and you 
sold to both of them." 

He said further, "You will make a 'cracker- 
jack' salesman, but you are not able to do the 
work; from here we will go to Kocky Mount 
to get more rod. I will run down to Wilson 
and will send the rod by the first train and a 
good workman to do the work till you get 

He explained to me how to figure up the cost 
of a rod on the different type of houses, and 
gave me advice about behaving myself, tell- 
ing me not to fall in love with all the pretty 
girls that I met. He said he was sure that T 
would do well, and he would give me a good 
chance. So we finished Mr. Knight's work and 
got the money. 

Mr. Knight begged us to remain for an- 
other night, but Mr. Lee, with over four hun- 
dred dollars in cash in his pocket, the fruits 
of two days' labor, and a young and beautiful 
wife left in Wilson, he had only been married 
one month, could not be persuaded to wait an- 
other minute, so we hitched up the Horses and 
in one hour we were in Kocky Mount, just nine 


miles from Mr. Knight's. He caught the train 
and by 8 o'clock he was with his wife in Wil- 

I waited two days at Rocky Mount for the 
rods and the man who was to help me, but the 
time was not lost, for I had many kinfolks 
around Rocky Mount, as w^ell as many dear 
friends and an old school mate, namely, Spen- 
cer Fountain, w^as the telegraph operator and 
railroad agent, was married and living with his 
family at Rocky Mount. I knew his father, 
mother, sisters and brothers; they all lived 

I visited my kin in the day time, but when 
the evening came I was to be found at Mr. 
Fountain's, where the two beautiful sisters of 
Spencer were to be found, the evenings were 
spent in music and song, and all the funny 
stories that we were able to tell. 

I must tell a story on Spencer. It was sev- 
eral years before this time, when he was doing 
his courting. It was at the time when I was 
visiting the trains at night in Wilson for Mrs. 
Blount, who kept the hotel belonging to my 
mother. Spencer Fountain was at that time 
the telegraph operator at Wilson. His sweet- 
heart lived up the road toward Weldon, either 
Halifax, Enfield or maybe it was off the rail- 
road at Scotland Neck, but Spencer, at the 
time I mention, was very anxious to take the 


train passing Wilson at 2:30 a. m. One Sat- 
urday night, so as to reach his sweetheart on 
Sunday morning, spend the day with her and 
get back to his business Sunday night. He 
said to me, "Jess, I want to go on that 2:30 
a. m. train. Now don't you let me get left for 
I would not get left for $100.00." I told him 
not to be uneasy, that I would wake him up in 
time to catch his train. 

I have always throughout my life been able 
to w^ake up at any hour that I would make up 
my mind to do. At that time I did not know 
how reliable my sub-conscious mind w^as, so 1 
had an alarm clock to make sure. I would set 
the alarm clock to ring at 2:10 a. m., and I 
would wake up at 2:05 or near it and reach 
over and turn off the alarm so that I would not 
be compelled to hear it ring. This happened 
every night, with little variation, for two years. 
I do not remember but two times when I failed 
to wake up before the alarm clock struck, and 
on both of these occasions I was sick and had 
high fever, and I know now that I was partly 
delirious and hardly responsible for what I 

On this occasion, when Spencer wanted to 
go to see his sweetheart, I put an extra charge 
upon myself, but had my alarm clock set also 
to help guard against mistakes. When the 
hour of 2:00 a. m. arrived, I was wide awake 


and went over to the bed in the same room 
where Spencer was asleep. I told him that it 
was time to get up if he wanted to go on the 
2:30 train. Spencer raised himself up and 
sat in bed, with his eyes wide open, and I 
thought he was awake, as he looked at me and 
talked with as much reason as he would at any 
time. He said, ^^Jess, I have changed my mind; 
I do not think that I will go.'' I took this 
as a settlement of the matter and would not 
have done anything more to disturb his slum- 
bers. My brother, CuUen, was sleeping with 
me, but was awake. He said, "You have not 
waked up Spencer yet." I asked him if he had 
heard what Spencer said? He said, "Yes, but 
he is fast asleep." I said I did not think so 
as Spencer sat up in bed with his eyes open, 
and talked with good sense and said "that he 
had changed his mind and did not want to 

Cullen said, "I will wake him up," and jump- 
ed on Spencer's bed, grabbed him by the 
shoulder and gave him a good shaking, and 
said, "Spencer! Spencer! the train is coming!" 

And you ought to have seen Spencer get 
up and get a move on himself. He got dressed 
and caught the train and married the girl. I 
have often wondered what would have hap- 
pened if he had missed that train that night. 


His wife never knew what a part that I and 
my brother, Gullen, played that night in their 

My poor brother has been dead nearly two 
years, and Spencer is a grandfather and so am 
I, but here these old scenes and words and 
acts came before my mind as the scenes of 

At last, after a wait of two days, the light- 
ning rods and the man who was to help me 
arrived, and I reluctantly got on my wagon 
again, leaving my dearly beloved friends of 
the long ago to achieve my fortune. 

I went first to the Falls, where there was a 
cotton factory, belonging at that time to Wil- 
liam S. Battle, a kinsman, his son, James Bat- 
tle, was in charge of the factory. I went into 
his office and told him that my name was Jesse 
Battle, that I was putting up lightning rods, 
and if he wanted some put on his factory that 
now was a good chance. He said that he 
thought there should be some lightning rods 
on the factory, and if our prices were reason- 
able he would have it done. I gave him the 
best estimate that I could, and he told me 
to go ahead. 

I started in with many misgivings, for my 
helper, the man Mr. Lee sent me to do the 
work, was a green Irishman, who had only 
been in this country for three months, and 


talked with such a brogue that I was com- 
pelled to ask him to repeat what he said so 
that I could understand what he said. He got 
it into his head that I did this to make fun 
of him and he was very angry. He swelled 
up so that he would hardly answer me at all. 
I asked him to get the ladders and bring 
them to the buildings: he said that if I wanted 
the '^lathers" I could get them myself. I asked 
him what kind of work did he expect to do. 
He said, "Attend the horses and drive them." 
I asked him if he had ever put up any light- 
ning rods. He said, "No, what did any per- 
son want with such things, that if God wanted 
to strike a house with lightning that He would 
do it." I asked him if he was a Presbyterian, 
and he said, "Yes, I am." 

I asked him what did he wear clothes for, 
that according to his doctrine, if God wanted 
to make him cold that he would make him cold, 
clothes or no clothes. He said, "I wear clothes 
to cover my nakedness." 

I saw that I was wasting my breath talk 
ing to such a man. I hired a negro to help 
me that afternoon, named Howell Shines. Aft- 
er much trouble and awful hard work, I got 
these rods put up — I had to do all the work 
myself, for my helper would not do it. When I 
had finished this job, I took my wild Irishman 
and my new found friend, Howell Shines, back 


to Rocky Mount and told my Irishman that he 
could go back to Wilson, for I did not want 
him. He said that he would not do it, for I 
had not hired him and that I could not dis- 
charge him. I wired Mr. Lee that if he did 
not relieve me of this Irishman that he could 
accept my resignation, that I did not want 
such a man and would not have him, that I 
had found a good negro and would take my 
chances with him in preference to the Irish- 
man. The next morning the Irishman got or- 
ders to report in Wilson, which he did. I have 
never seen him since. I have even forgotten 
his name. 

HoAvell Shines was a very bright darky, I 
mean mentally, not in color, he was as black 
as ink, a pure, genuine "nigger.'' I called him 
"governor," and this "tickled him to death.*' 
He was a devoted servant and a good reliable 
man and not afraid of work. He stayed with 
me for two years and had it not been for his 
exalted ideas of property, real estate, he might 
be with me yet. 

He was a good, faithful soul, but he heard 
of a colored girl around Charlotte who owned 
an acre of ground, and he told me that he "was 
going to marry that gal to get that acre of 

He did marry the girl, but I do not know 
whether he got the acre of land. 



While in Edgecombe County, N. C, in April, 
1871, I was below Tarboro, near Old Sparta, at 
a place called Center Bluff on the Tar River. 
There was a ferry there. It was an old flat 
bottom scow or lighter. It had a fence on 
either side and a chain that could be put up 
at each end. 

The ferryman had a rope fastened on each 
shore, running across the river, this rope pass- 
ing through two pulleys at the ends of the flat 
boat. He used this rope as a propeller. In 
addition to this propeller, he used a long pole 
to help him get from one shore to the other. 
He would remain on the last shore where he 
had landed until some one would call him to 
the other shore. He would go across, jam- 
ming his boat as far as possible up the bank 
of the river. 

I wanted to cross the river. The ferryman 
was on the opposite shore, so I called him and 
he responded promptly. When he arrived, I 
noted that there was nothing to fasten the 
boat to and called his attention to this defect, 
answering me, he said, "I have had heavier 


wagons than yours, so come along." This meant 
for me to drive on the ferryboat. 

The ferryman went to the other end of the 
boat and put his long pole down into the water 
and stood pulling on the pole to help keep the 
boat against the shore when the front wheels 
of the wagon struck it. The very thing hap- 
pened that I feared. When the wheels struck 
the end of the boat the w^eight of the wagon 
pushed the boat away from the shore out into 
the river. My horses were on the boat, but 
the heavy wagon was not. After the boat once 
got started, the inclined plane of the shore 
and the w^eight of the wagon kept us all mov- 
ing toward the middle of the river. I saw at 
once a calamity coming. None of us knew at 
first what to do; as the boat passed further 
from shore, the pole of the wagon went lower 
and lower toward the water and at last it 
rested on the end of the boat. Would the 
boat stop moving now? No, it kept on; as 
the weight of the horses held the wagon polo 
down at the front end^ and the weight of the 
wagon at the wagon end, it was simply a ques- 
tion of buoyancy of the boat as to how long it 
would continue to float. 

It did not float long for the end near us went 
right under the water, and as it did so, it 
pulled the horses backward till their hind feet 
were off the boat. I knew that something 


would have to be done quickly. I was in my 
shirt sleeves, for the weather was warm. I got 
out my knife, opened it and jumped down be- 
tween the horses on the wagon pole, the traces 
were slack and it was a small job to unhook 
them. I told the man to give the horses a 
slack rein and then I walked on the wagon pole 
up to the horses' heads and with my knife 
cut the breast straps and the reins, which held 
them together. It was a job to cut the breast 
straps, but I knew that heavy leather had 
to be cut on a slant and not at right angles to 
the leather, so, with one or two motions across 
it with my sharp knife, the deed was done. T 
said to the man to turn the horses loose, which 
he did. I pushed one horse to the right and 
the other to the left and hollered "go,'' and 
they obeyed promptly. This is the first time 
that either of them had moved their front feet; 
had either of them done so they would have 
been drowned. They swam to shore, the mud 
in the river stopped the progress of the wagon. 
We all escaped with small damages done. The 
people at the store pulled my wagon out with 
a rope. The storekeeper helped me mend my 
harness. In an hour I was on my way toward 
Mr. Elias Carr's home, where I was kindly re- 

I had forgotten all about my watch and my 
money. When I looked at my watch, it had 


stopped at 3:22 p. m. I took it to pieces, dried 
it out, cleaned it, oiled it, put it together again 
and it ran as well as ever. Had I left it a day, 
the rust would have ruined it. 

I had in my pocket about one hundred and 
fifty dollars, it was wet and stuck together, 
making a somewhat delicate task, but I suc- 
ceeded in unraveling or unfolding the vari- 
ous bills and put them in between the pages 
of a book, w^hich gave them back to me in 
good shape, with the exception of some lost 

Howell and I worked around Rocky Mount 
and Tarboro for about six weeks, bringing the 
season to about May 1st. We sold many 
lightning rods and took in much money and 
many notes. I sent nearly all the money and 
all of the notes to Mr. Lee. I was still sick, 
having chills and fevers every few days. Dr. 
Ricks, who married my cousin, Helen Battle, 
and lived at Rocky Mount, prescribed for me, 
without cost, but he said, go up into the west- 
ern part of the state and you will get Avell. I 
made up my mind that if Mr. Lee would permit 
it, I would go further up the country. I had 
not been home to Wilson, nor had I seen Mr. 
Lee since he left me with the four hundred 
dollars cash in his pocket. I do not believe 
that he had been on a lightning rod wagon 
after he left me. There was no occasion to do 


SO, for I had sent him enough money to pay 
for all the lightning rods that he bought, and 
to pay all his other expenses. To be with his 
beautiful wife was pleasure enough for him. 
I got letters from him at Raleigh, Hillsbor- 
ough, Greensboro and Danville, every letter 
would tell me where to send the next instal- 
ment of cash. 

I wrote to him and told him that my physi- 
cian had advised me to go further up the coun- 
try and I wanted to go, as I was too sick to 
remain in the low flat part of the state. 

He wrote me and said that all the upper part 
of the state had already been canvassed, and 
that I would not be able to make a living in 
that section of the state. He said that I was 
doing so well where I was that I had better re- 
main in the eastern part of the state. When I 
got this letter it irritated me so much that I 
was almost tempted to resign, but I thought 
of my poverty back in Wilson and saw no open- 
ing outside of the business that I was in. T 
was handling much money and I felt prosper- 
ous. It gave me more confidence in myself. If 
I had only been well, so that I could do my 
work easier, without so much exhaustion and 
pain, I would have been better satisfied. With- 
out saying any more about it, to Mr. Lee, I 
started on May 1st to "Raleigh. I arrived in 
Raleigh on May 3rd. That night I put my 


horses in Mr. Wynne's stable, and I put up at 
the Yarboro House, at $2.50 per day. After I 
got my supper I went around to see Dr. Wm. 
H. MoKee, who married my aunt Susan, a sis- 
ter of my father. He received me kindly, and 
during the evening I told him about my success 
and about my sickness; he was pleased with 
my success and said. We will cure you. You 
did right to leave the low country, he said. He 
prescribed for me; he gave me the medicine. I 
told him how long I had been reading, how I 
longed to be a doctor. He said the reading 
was all good enough, but to give up the idea 
of being a doctor; for said he, ''it is a dog's 
life," mighty hard work and mighty poor pay. 
I spoke about the good that one could do. He 
said that part was all right, too, but a man 
must live and take care of his family. Now, 
he said, "Don't you do like your father and 
give away all that you make." 

I asked him w^hat was the medicine that he 
was giving to me. He said each pill has three 
grains of blue mass, two grains of quinine and 
one drop of oil of black pepper; he said take 
one every three hours for the first day and take 
castor oil the next day; then skip a day, and 
then repeat; then skip two days and repeat; 
then skip one week and repeat, and he said, 
when you have done this I do not think that 
you will have any more chills and ague; this 


was in May, 1871, and now it is 1911 (January), 
and I have never had another chill since. 

I wrote Mr. Lee about one week after I ar- 
rived in Raleigh. He was then at Danville, 
Va. I sent him about five hundred dollars in 
cash, and near four hundred dollars in notes 
for my first week's work in Raleigh. He wrote 
me that he was sorry that I had left the east; 
but if I could do that well in Raleigh or any- 
where else that I was welcome to go anywhere 
that I wanted to go. I put in three months' 
work in and around Raleigh and did about 
$7,000.00 in cash and notes. 

I had enjoyed very much meeting all of my 
Battle kin in Raleigh, and Dr. McKee, who put 
me on my feet, with his chill medicine, was one 
of the finest men that I ever met. 

My uncle, William Horn Battle, at that time 
was one of the Supreme Court Judges, and Un- 
cle Richard Battle were both alive at that time. 
I saw them almost every day, and it was a great 
treat to be with them and hear them talk. 
Both had a strong family likeness to my fa- 
ther, which made them doubly dear to me, for 
my poor, sainted father had only been dead 
about one year. 

I had here also two cousins, Dr. Kemp 
Plummer Battle, with his family; they had a 
lovely home on Fayetteville street. I visited 


them often. His oldest daughter Nellie at this 
time was about fifteen years old; a beautiful 
girl with brown eyes and the prettiest kind of 
complexion, as fair and soft as a baby's skin. 
I did fall in love with her, but being kin and 
my poverty sealed my lips,. so she only knew 
that I admired her. There were four boys, too, 
all bright, handsome, clean-looking boys. I be- 
lieve all of them have given a good account of 
themselves and have succeeded in life. My 
poor dear Cousin Nellie passed away years and 
years ago and left a blank in her parents' 
hearts that nothing has been able to fill. An- 
other cousin, Kichard H. Battle, that we call 
lawyer Dick to distinguish him from Uncle 
Dossey's son Richard. This cousin, Richard 
H. Battle, married Gov. Ashe's daughter. He 
had several children, but all were quite young 
at this time, and I did not get very well ac- 
quainted with them. 



When August came I finished my work about 
Raleigh and started on Saturday toward Fay- 
etteville; I got out about fifteen miles; we 
came to a fork in the road; my faithful old 
negro said, ''Which road, Mass Jesse?" I said 
it makes little difference to me which road you 
take. I want to find a good place to spend Sun- 
day. We will have good luck any way. He 
left his reins slack and the horses were at lib 
erty to take either road. They took the left 
hand road; I noticed that this road was bear- 
ing toward the railroad, and I knew from my 
map that we were going toward a little town 
called Clayton. I stopped at a farmer's house 
and asked if the road that we were on did go 
to Clayton; the farmer said yes, it did. I asked 
how far it was? He said about four miles. I 
wanted to know if there was a hotel or board- 
ing house that I could stop at. He said there 
was a Mr. White who took boarders, but he 
thought I would have trouble getting feed for 
my horses, so he was kind enough to sell me 
some. I thanked him and in less than an hour 
we were in Clayton. That night after supper 


someone told about the great religious revival 
that had been going on in the town for nearly 
a month, and it was reported that there were 
about thirty candidates for baptism on the 
next day. 1 asked who was the great preacher 
who had achieved such success among them. I 
was told that it was Dr. William B. Harrell. I 
said that is funny. He is my brother-in-law. 
This attracted much attention to myself, and 
some of them seeing me as a beardless boy 
doubted what I had said. So I said further 
that they were living in Selma in May, and I 
had stopped with them on my way to Raleigh. 
Somone said "They live here now." Moved 
here in July. I asked where they lived, and a 
boy volunteered to show me. So off we went. 
The boy took me right to their house, and to 
make sure that I had told the truth about the 
Doctor's being my brother-in-law, he went in 
with me and staid till bedtime. We had a 
memorable evening, full of music and songs 
and gayety. During the evening my niece, Ida, 
now Mrs. Hardy Home, of Clayton, said, "Un- 
cle Jesse, there is the prettiest girl in this town 
that you ever saw." I said, "Come on, let us 
go to see her." She said, "You can't see her 
to-night; it is too late. We will see her to- 
morrow." I asked her name. Ida said, It is 
Bettie Lee. We talked about Bettie Lee much 
of the evening. I told my nieces that I had 


two horses and a wagon and could fix it up so 
we could all go to the baptizing on the morrow, 
but they had already made arrangements to go 
with Mr. Vic Tomlinson, who had a cart and 
a horse. There were at this time few buggies 
and no carriages in the country, except in large 
towns and cities. The next morning I had the 
ladders and the lightning rods taken out of the 
wagon and nailed some boxes on for seats and 
picked up several young men to go with me to 
the baptizing. On the way we overtook the 
cart with Vic Tomlinson, my nieces, Ida and 
Rosa, and Miss Bettie Lee. I had to keep back 
to prevent my horses from throwing dirt in the 
cart. So I could not get a good look at Miss 
Bettie. When we got to Mr. Stallings' house. 
It was at his mill pond that the baptizing was 
to be. 

All stopped at the well, for the weather was 
hot, and the people were thirsty. As I came 
up, my niece, Ida, introduced me to Miss Bet- 
tie Lee. I drew up the water and with an old 
broken goblet gave water first to Miss Bettie, 
then to the others. We then went on down to 
the mill pond, where there were congregated 
at least five hundred people. It was a grand 
spectacle, for the country, to see these earnest 
faces, to hear their songs, to watch the effects 
produced on all who wore standing there. 
Every time Doctor Harrell went down in the 


water with one on either side and when he got 
a proper depth, almost to the armpits, he 
would stop, and with a solemn smile on his face 
would lift up his hand and say, ^'I baptize you, 
my brother (or sister, as the case might be), 
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and 
of the Holy Ghost. Amen," and with his left 
hand supporting the candidate's head, and the 
right hand holding the candidate's both hands, 
he would push them over backwards till they 
passed entirely under the water. Then he 
would raise them up and shout, "Another soul 
saved, thank God." This process went on till 
all were baptized. 

The scene and what we heard was too se- 
rious and solemn for any compliments or fool- 
ishness, so little was said v/hile we were at the 
mill pond. I asked Miss Bettie if I might come 
to see her; and where she lived. She told me 
she was not stopping at home, but was staying 
with her sister at Mr. Ashley Home's store. 
She said Mr. Ashley Home was her sister's 
husband, and that he had gone on to New York 
to buy goods; and that she was sleeping at the 
store with her sister. I wanted to go to church 
with her that night, but she had another en- 
gagement. I said if she would let me I would 
see her a few minutes before she went to 
church. She said if they were not at supper 
that she would be pleased to see me. 


I had watched her all the morning, trying to 
find some fault with her, but, to me, she was 
absolutely faultless. She was so modest, with 
no self-consciousness; so beautiful, but did not 
seem to know it. She was my dream. I had 
seen her form before in my ideal; but not em- 
bodied. There was something in her elastic 
step, like the movements of a spirit. It was 
no trouble for her to get around. She could 
run like a deer. She was tall and slim and 
most too thin in flesh; but this made her more 
attractive. She was a brunette in the color of 
her hair and eyes; but no blonde ever had a 
fairer or smoother skin; it was almost trans- 
parent. Her eyes were large and brown. There 
was a peace and serenity in her every look, 
with an indescribable smile, w^hich showed the 
innocence of the divine soul within. To me 
she was almost an angel and yet just a sweet, 
lovable and lovely woman. 

I was infatuated, enmeshed, caught and de- 
livered. I could think of nothing else. I was 
^'head over heels" in love. I forgot w^here I 
had started, forgot what I was doing. I was 
no longer a "lightning rod man"; I was a lover. 
I had seen pretty girls before. I had been fas- 
cinated, entertained and enjoyed being in their 
society, but I would tire of it all, go along 
about my business and forget. But this case 
was different; I did not want to leave her at 


all. I wanted nothing but just the privilege 
of sitting by so that I had her in the light, so 
that I could see her lovely face and hear her 
voice. What did we talk about? Goodness 
gracious, don't ask me. I had no sense left to 
talk with. I simply sat and gazed at her. I 
did manage to tell her that I had been looking 
for her a long time, and I was so glad that I 
had found her, for now I would not have to 
look any longer; and I said further, you need 
not look any further either, for I am your des- 
tiny, I am the man. She said little, but that 
quizzical smile, while it did not tell me what I 
wanted to know, it was not repression and was 
not banishment. 

I lingered around Clayton for about two 
weeks, hoping every day to see my sweetheart 
alone; but the boys around town seemed to be 
banded against me; for if I went calling on her 
in the evening there were sometimes as many 
as six present, never less than two. If I went 
calling in the morning there sat her mother 
cold and stiff, like a Cerberus, guarding this 
precious treasure. If I would go to see her in 
the afternoon, there would be two or three of 
her girl friends, and none of them had any con- 
sideration for me, for they never left us alone. 

At last I came back to my right mind. I 
knew thai something else, besides soft, pretty 
words was necessary to possess, and take care 


of this angel. I began asking questions of my- 
self: Why all this espionage? I wondered if 
she had all this company when I was away? 
I did not have to reflect long on such questions 
before several good answers presented them- 
selves. In the first place, my sweetheart was 
just sixteen years old, and going to school; 
secondly, this man who had come along and 
fallen in love with this schoolgirl was a strang- 
er, and what little information that was avail- 
able reported that the stranger was poor, wild, 
and a gadabout, never contented except on the 
wing, traveling somewhere, anywhere, to be 
going from place to place. 

The mother of my sweetheart, her sister and 
all of her friends were determined that this 
Avandering stranger should not take this lovely 
flower from their midst, hence all of the com- 
pany, all of the barriers that I found thrown 
across the way of my advancement. The next 
question 1 asked myself was this. Do I have to 
marry all of my wife's kinfolks and all of her 
friends? The answer was, No, I do not have 
to marry them, but I do have to placate them, 
if I wished to make my wife happy. I could 
see already a cloud on her sweet face when I 
came in her presence. I knew it was not be- 
cause she did not want to see me, for she was 
at all times very courteous and never refused 
to see me, no matter how much company she 


had at the time. I told her that I must go 
away and work — work as I had never done be- 
fore, so that I might come back with something 
in my pocket and in a bank, to build a home 
for her if she cared to take the place as its 
owner and mistress. She said, "This was best; 
that it would give her time to finish school, and 
be old enough to know her own mind." 

I asked her if I might write to her. She 
said, "I will ask my mother." She did so, and 
while the mother did not approve of it, she did 

not object. 

So with a sad heart and many misgivings, I 
told all good-by, and started again on my trip 
as a lightning rod man. 

For several days I would pass house after 
house. I was so gloomy I had no heart to sell 
rods or to do the work. 

I would brood for hours, going over the 
same circle of thought. Why was I so poor? 
and why did I have to leave? Each question 
answered the other. I had to leave her be- 
cause I was so poor; and I was so poor and 
miserable because I had to leave her. She had 
never said that she loved me; she never prom- 
ised to marry me. 

I do not think that I had even asked her to 
be my wife as yet. I was too much in love to 
think of such a thing. 


Suppose some other man should come along 
and win her while I was away. The thought 
set my brain on fire. I would want to kill him 
if he took her away from me. No, this would 
be wrong, for no man could take her without 
her consent; and if she consented to marry a 
man it w^ould be because she loved him. If 
I loved her as I said I did, I should love every- 
body that she loved. Could I do it? Well, I 
might love her mother, sister, brother, but the 
man that she married! No, no, I could not say 
yes, yet; no, not yet. I would have to grow 
more like my father to do that. 

Such thoughts as these would pass through 
my brain several times a day, always ending 
up with the first propositions, that I had to 
leave her, because I was so poor. 

This became my text for every day's solil- 
oquy, and the theme for my nightly dreams. 
At last it penetrated through my thick skull 
that the remedy was success; and without 
some kind of success I would surely lose the 
darling of my heart, and with this last thought 
I plunged forward determined to win or die in 
the attempt. 



I had started from Raleigh to Fayetteville 
nearly three weeks before. What had I done 
in these three weeks? Very little; to make an 
apearance of work I had gone out in the coun- 
try all around Clayton, but most of the country 
houses were old and unpainted, and the own- 
ers would not spend from thirty to forty dol- 
lars to put lightning rods on them. Once in a 
while I would find a nice painted house, and 
all of these had rods. The country I passed 
through after leaving Clayton, going toward 
Fayetteville, had the same kind of houses, old 
and unpainted. My red wagon always attract- 
ed attention, but nearly everybody that I met 
believed that I was a Yankee, until I told my 
name and claimed Raleigh as my home. 

Nearly all that I met knew somebody named 
Battle, so I found my name my best passport. 

Just before sunset every day I would com- 
mence to make enquiries for a place to stop all 
night. Sometimes I was successful at the first 
place that I stopped. Again I would be told 
that they did not take in strangers. Then I 
would exert myself to be pleasant, putting on 


my sweetest smile, promising to give no trou- 
ble and offering to sleep in the barn if he 
wished it. All I wanted was something to eat 
for my horses, my man and myself, and for this 
1 was willing to pay in cash, as I had money 
for this purpose. 

Sometimes I was successful; again, they 
would send me on down the road. I would 
enquire at every house; at last I would find 
someone to take pity on me and accommodate 
me for the night. I do not remember but three 
times in the four years that I was a lightning 
rod man that I failed to get accommodations^, 
at some farm house, while I was traveling 
through the country. When I was in a city 
I always stopped at a hotel and put my horses 
in the livery stables; this was expensive and 
not to be indulged in except when I was doing 
good work in the city. I preferred the city, as 
I could sell as well or better than I could in 
the country. The city people had more money, 
and I did not have to travel so far to see them. 
In the country I always had Avith me my old 
banjo, which I played like a professional. 
After supper, if there were young people or 
children present, they would surely ask me to 
play. I would take the banjo out of its case, 
tune it up and start off on my more serious 
pieces at first, such as "Home, Sweet Home," 
*^01d Folks at Home," "Old Kentucky Home,'^ 


"Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane/' "Nellie 
Gray/' "Bonnie Blue Flag," "We parted by the 
river side/' "Tenting to-night on the old Camp 
Ground." I sang these songs the best I could. 
I did not have a fine voice for pathetic songs; 
so I tried to make up in expression what I 
lacked in tone. 

I would watch my audience, to see how I 
pleased them. If I saw in their faces that they 
were really enjoying my playing and singing, 1 
would warm up a little and give them "Old 
Bob Ridley," "I Am a Good Old Rebel," "Seven 
Out," "Rhine Wine Charlie," "The Prettiest 
Gal That's Out," "Villikens and His Dinah," 
"A Fine Old Dutch Gentleman," "Devil Take 
the Gal That Wouldn't Have Me." If I noticed 
my audience was still pleased, I would give 
them "The Old Virginia Reel," "Mississippi 
Sawyer," "Old Gray Horse Trotting Around 
the Wilderness," "Turkey and the Corn," "Mas- 
sa is in the Cold Ground," "Off to Charleston 
'fore the Break o' Day," "Fisher's Hornpipe," 
"College Hornpipe," "The Old Virginia Nig- 
ger," and would wind up with "The Arkansas 
Traveler," my masterpiece. This kind of a pro- 
gram would last over two hours. I would quit 
abruptly and say that I was tired and wanted 
to go to bed. This left everybody in a good 
humor and not tired of me. 

On some occasions there would be no young 


people around, and the old people would not 
ask me to play. At such places I did not play 
at all. 

I was surprised to find so many people who 
really thought it a sin to play on any kind of 
a musical instrument. Such people, of course, 
would think me a wild, thoughtless, irreligious 
and necessarily vicious and unreliable man. 
With such people joy, mirth, pleasure were 
also sins, no matter how innocent the joy, mirth 
or pleasure might be. Such people always pre- 
dicted that I would come to no good end. They 
said that I was on the straight road to hell. 
Such predictions would have had a baneful 
effect on any other kind of spirit than my own. 
But I would smile my sweetest smile and tell 
them that as the road to hell was so rough and 
gloomy and had so many tears and sorrow in 
it that I was doing all that I could to brighten 
it up a little, and that they were in the wrong 
in not encouraging me in doing so. 

I was then twenty-one years old and enjoy- 
ing good health. I had my father's disposi- 
tion; I was cheerful and looked for the best in 
all persons and things. My gloomy periods did 
not last long. 

I had been baptized when I was seventeen 
years old and joined the Christian Church; but 
I could not see then, and have never been able 
to see since, that a long, gloomy face improved 


a man's character, and I did not believe then, 
nor do I believe now, that such a face, nor the 
character that goes with it, ever kept anyone 
out of hell, if there is such a place. I did not 
believe then, neither do I believe now, that 
there is such a place in existence. Hell to me 
then, and hell to me now, is the invention of 
diseased minds, and it is not in harmony with 
the diA^ine within me; hence I reject it in all 
its uses. These long faces and the characters 
that go with them, these men who mumble 
prayers, hate music, hate their brothers, in my 
opinion, make more misery here and are better 
fitted to take their places in the home of cor- 
rection than the cheerful souls who make life 
worth living and love their fellow-men. 

I have taken little stock in the sepulchral 
side of life; but have done all I can to brighten 
it as I have passed along. 

After spending my night at a place in the 
country, where I had done the best I knew how 
to entertain them, I would ask them the next 
morning, Do I owe you something for your kind 
entertainment of me last night? In nearly 
every instance the answer would be, "No, sir, 
you don't owe me a cent. Come again.'' 

If it was at one of those places where they 
thought it a sin to make music, and I had not 
played for them, I would ask the next morning, 
How much do I owe you? And the answer 


w ould invariably be, Two dollars or two dollars 
and a half, or three dollars. This, again, shows 
the difference in the men. It also shows what 
a difference it made to me. So it did not take 
me long to discover that the men w^ho had fam- 
ilies, children, many children, were the most 
considerate and the most charitable. Those 
w^ho had no children, no responsibilities, w^ere 
generally less inclined to put themselves out 
the least bit to accommodate me for the night 
than those whose houses were already full, and 
who were not really in condition to accommo- 
date me. 

I have stopped many times where I slept 
with one of the larger boys. So when I had 
learned these differences in men, I would en- 
quire whether Mr. So-and-So had any children; 
and if the answer Avas no, I would pass onto a 
house where there were children, if such could 
be found in the time left for me to travel in 
the day. 

I never traveled in the night, except when it 
was absolutely necessary. 

I arrived at Fayetteville at last, but found 
the tow^n so run down that I did mot attempt 
to do any work there. The boats that used to 
come up to Fayetteville from Wilmington, on 
the Cape Fear River, had stopped running, and 
there was no railroad coming to Fayetteville 
at this time. 


I laid out a trip by my map that would take 
me out of Cumberland County into Sampson 
County, and through Sampson into Pender 
County, coming out at Burgaw. From Burgaw 
I went on into New Hanover County, and to 
Wilmington, which at that time was the lar- 
gest and most thrifty town or city in North 

I did right good work in Sampson County, 
sold some good jobs, and by giving liberal dis- 
counts, got the cash for nearly all the work 
that I did. 

When I landed in Wilmington I had plenty 
of money. I had learned a lesson, too, about 
cash. I had sent in to Mr. Lee nearly all the 
cash I had on hand and had been put in tight 
quarters on account of it many times before. 
A hotel man did not like to see a lightning rod 
man go off leaving a bill unpaid. Sometimes 
we w^ould be stopped by a sheriff who wanted a 
license taken out in his county. This w^ould 
cost twenty dollars for the year. To be shorii 
of cash and a long way from home, among 
strangers, with two horses to feed and two 
men to be fed and housed, is an experience that 
alw^ays made me feel mighty bad. There was 
something in it that made me feel like a fugi- 
tive from justice. I expected some strange 
man to walk up to me and say, "I want you, 
come along.'' I was not my true self without 


a hundred dollars or so in my pocket. It made 
no difference to me whether the money be- 
longed to my company or to me, I needed it to 
feel safe and respectable. Without it I was 
handicapped. I did not have the nerve, the 
confidence in myself or the resolution to prose- 
cute my business with the same spirit that I 
did when I had it. 

Arriving in Wilmington with this goodly sum 
of money in my pocket, again disregarding the 
instructions of my boss, Mr. Lee, who would 
have had me send to him every dollar that I 
had except iiYe or ten dollars, I was in good 
shape to go to work in Wilmington. I went 
straight to the National Hotel, the best in the 
town, told the clerk that I would be there 
for three months, and asked for rates. He 
made me a rate of one dollar and a half per 
day. I got board for my man for five dollars 
per week. I got my horses in the livery stable 
for fifteen dollars per month each. 

The first day I w^ent to the depot to get some 
rods that I had ordered. We usually unhitched 
the outside trace, and left the horses alone, but 
this day the man neglected to do so, and some- 
thing came along and frightened them, and 
away they went down the street toward the 
barn. They scattered lightning rods all along 
the street for a mile. They turned four cor- 
ners, went straight to the stables, slacked up 


just before turning in and went into the barn 
decently and in order. They did no damage to 
anybody nor to the wagon or to themselves^ 
which seems almost a miracle, for they passed 
through two of the busiest streets in^a run. 

The next morning the two papers had the 
runaway written up in a very lively style. One 
of them said "that it w^as usual to see lightning 
rods go up; but yesterday was an exception, as 
the rods went down with a vengeance.'' The 
other paper wanted to know "what this Mr. 
Battle of Raleigh, the lightning rod man, had 
against Wilmington? Did he want to stop its 
growth by killing off its citizens?" So be- 
tween the two papers everybody in Wilming- 
ton who read them knew that Mr. Battle, the 
Lightning Rod Man of Raleigh, was in town. 
This free advertising helped me greatly, for 
when I presented myself there was no explana- 
tion necessary, for they already knew who T 
was and where I was from and my business. 
I did over eleven thousand dollars worth of 
business in Wilmington. 

While in Wilmington I wrote four letters to 
my sweetheart back in Clayton. I received 
only one in return. This gave me great pain; 
but I was too busy to sit down and brood over 
my misery. 

From Wilmington I started for Columbia, 
S. C. I passed through those immense pine 


forests, which at that time could have been 
bought for two dollars per acre. Since then 
fortunes have been taken out in the turpentine, 
and now immense lumber mills are making for- 
tunes for their owners in the finest yellow pine 
lumber in the whole world. 

This brought the summer and fall season to 
a close. I landed in Columbia about the mid- 
dle of November. I made my arrangements to 
spend the winter there, doing all the work 
there that I could in good w^eather. The win- 
ters in South Carolina are mild and pleasant 
except for the many rains which come in the 
spring. I did well in Columbia, and when 
spring came I was ready to work in the moun- 
tains in the western part of the state during 
the summer. That is a fine country, through 
Greenville, Spartanburg, Laurens, Anderson, 
Abbeville and Greenwood Counties, and each 
county seat has the same name as the county. 
I spent the whole summer in these counties, 
except a trip I made into Georgia from Abbe- 
ville County. I spent about two weeks in 
Georgia. I met there a Mr. Lipscombe, travel- 
ing for the same company that I was. He told 
me that he had done well in selling rods, but 
he said, "I cannot get any money. I put up 
the rods on a credit, and then the man will 
make me pay hira cash for staying all night. 
What do vou think of that?" He wanted to 


credit the amount charged for the night's en- 
tertainment on the note that he took for the 
rods, but his customer would not permit it. 
The explanation of the customer being that 
Mr. Lipscombe had proposed to put up the rods 
on a credit, and was now demanding a part of 
it in cash. He said food was cash, and as soon 
as it was out he had to have the cash to buy 
more with; hence he wanted cash for the food 
that he had supplied to Mr. Liscombe. 

This was exactly my experience for the 
whole two weeks while I was in Georgia. I 
had over one hundred dollars in my pocket 
when I went into Georgia. It cost me an av- 
erage of three dollars cash per day for every 
day that I was in Georgia. When I met Mr. 
Lipscombe he had no money, and he intended 
to go to Augusta and wait till Mr. Lee sent 
him some. I told him if he waited in Augusta 
till Mr. Lee sent him some money, that he 
would owe a big bill when the money arrived. 
So I divided my money with him and told him 
to leave Georgia and come over to South Caro- 
lina. So he followed me, and we crossed the 
Savannah River somewhere near Alpine. 
AVhen we landed in Anderson County, South 
Carolina, he and I had just fifty cents in cash 
between us, with four men and four horses to 
feed till we could take in some cash. I told 
him that I knew the landlord of the hotel at 


Pendleton and we could make this headquar- 
ters until we got on our feet again. So we 
made the drive in one day and landed in Pen- 
dleton about eight o'clock at night. We had 
driven twenty miles over some rough roads 
since dinner. We spent the fifty cents for 
horse feed, and divided the food between the 
four horses. We mixed shelled corn and oats 
together, and it gave each one two quarts each. 
This was hardly enough foi? horses doing so 
much work. It should have been three or four 
quarts, but the horses did not complain, and 
we had done the best that we could, so our 
consciences were easy. 

I had some sardines, some bacon, some crack- 
ers and coffee, a coffee pot and a frying pan, 
and we got along very well; if I had had some 
money I would have added eggs and cheese, 
but we did not grumble. We were so glad 
to get out of Georgia that the fact that we had 
done so was very consoling. 

The landlord at Pendleton was surprised to 
see two wagons drive in so late at night, but I 
told him there was a crack in one of my ladders 
and I wanted to get it mended before I broke 
my neck; that I had met Mr. Lipscombe, who 
had come along as company. The women folks 
hated to go back into the kitchen and cook an- 
other supper, and when I heard them talking 
1 went in and said, ^^Ladies, I don't blame you. 


If I were you I would not cook supper for 
such trifling men as these lightning rod fel- 
lows, who come straggling in at such a late 
hour/' but I said further, being one of the 
triflers, I was one of the men who would suffer, 
"Now, I will tell you what I will do. If you 
will give me some flour, lard, salt, some bacon 
or ham and some eggs and some coffee, you 
may sit down there and see what a cook I am, 
and I will tell you a good story on the other 
fellow, Mr. Lipscombe, who is very handsome 
and has a sweetheart over in Georgia." With 
this running gossip I got the ladies in a good 
humor, and they accepted my proposition and 
gave me everything that I called for. I called 
for my negro man, Howell, and asked him to 
bring in some wood and start the fire, which 
he did, and while I was making up the biscuit 
I asked for baking powders, but she had none; 
she had some soda; I took this and asked for 
some sour milk or buttermilk; luckily she had 
some. Then I went to work on the biscuits, 
and told her this story: Over in Georgia, 
where we came from to-day, in that section of 
the country somewhere north of the town of 
Hartwell, we stopped with a Scotchman named 
McEachin, who had a mighty pretty daughter, 
and Mr. Lipscombe had fallen in love with her, 
and I heard him tell her that He was going off 
to make a fortune, and was coming back to 


marry her if she would have him. He said, 
^'Of course I would not ask you to marry me 
after knowing me for less than a day; but 1 
am a real nice man when you know me, but I 
am too poor to marry now, so I must make 
some money, and then I will come back." Well, 
when the time came for us to go to bed, the old 
man showed us out into a shed room; it was 
the weaving room, for there w^as a loom set 
up in it, and there was a piece of cloth in the 
loom. It was a nice piece of gray goods for 
men's clothes. Mr. Lipscombe, after Mr. 
]\IcEachin left us a candle and went away, said 
^^I bet that pretty girl has been weaving on that 
cloth to-da}^ Now, I tell you, that is the kind 
of girl that I want, one that is not afraid of 
work, and ain't she a beauty?" At last I said, 
"Shut up, you will make the old man hear you 
directly, talking so loud, and he will come out 
here and order us off." So this made him lower 
his voice, though he kept on talking. At last 
Ave got in bed, for we had both to sleep in one 
bed. The light was out and still I heard the 
mumbling of his voice going on about his newly 
discovered beauty. I told him again I had 
heard all of that that I wanted to hear that 
night. So at last he either stoped talking, or 
I dropped off to sleep, for I heard him no more. 

When I waked up it was broad daylight, and 
as we wanted to make an early start, we both 


got up and were dressed in a few minutes. 
AVlien we went to bed he put his waistcoat 
under the head of his pillow, and I put mine 
down in the bed and slept on it. When he 
raised the pillow to get his waistcoat I heard 
him say ''Good God! look there!'' I looked and 
there was a highland moccasin lying curled up 
under his pillow. I got his waistcoat for him 
and dropped the pillow back on the snake. Mr. 
Lipscombe is very much afraid of snakes. 
When we went to breakfast there was the pret- 
ty girl, all dressed up, with her hair all curled, 
looking much perttier to me than she didithe 
day before, but Mr. Lipscombe did not seem 
to notice it. He said very little to the young 
lady, so little, in fact, that she noted it, and 
asked him if he was feeling well this morning. 
His mind was still on the snake, and he hardly 
heard what she said. I noticed a pained look 
on the girPs face; for I do believe that she had 
taken a liking to Mr. Lipscombe. I spoke up 
and said, "After breakfast I will tell you what 
is the matter with Mr. Lipscombe." She said 
right away, "I hope it is not something that 1 
have done." I said, "No, it is not you, but is 
something very serious to absorb his mind like 
that." Mr. Lipscombe looked at me and said, 
"Now look here, Jess, don't you tell that on 
me." This aroused the girl's curiosity to such 
a pitch that she could hardly finish her break- 


fast, she wanted to know so much. After 
breakfast I told her father that if he could 
go and look under the pillow on the front side 
of our bed that he would find out what was the 
matter with Mr. Lipscombe, and he could tell 
his daughter after we were gone. 

The old man's curiosity was aroused too, 
so he went right out to the loom room and in 
a minute we heard him say. Bring me my gun, 
quick. A boy carried the gun and a minute 
later we heard it explode. We looked at the 
girl and she turned pale and fainted and would 
have fallen to the floor but for Mr. Lipscombe's 
strong arms. 

After a while, by bathing her face with cold 
water, she opened her eyes, and asked, "Is he 
dead?" I said yes, meaning the snake, and 
she screamed again, "My poor father," and 
then I understood. She thought that her father 
had killed himself. 

We left them, but do you know that I have 
not heard Mr. Lipscombe say a word about that 
pretty girl since. 

By this time I had finished cooking the sup- 
per; that is, I did a part of it for my story and 
my willingness to help do the work had won 
the good will of the ladies and they had turned 
in and did most of the work. 

The next morning I tackled the landlord to 
let me tear down his old lightning rod and put 


up a new one. He said that he knew it was 
in a bad fix, as I had explained to him once 
before but he had no money to spend on light- 
ning rods, and did not want to go in debt, but 
if I was going to be around the neighborhood 
long enough to board out the bill that I might 
do the work. I said alright and went right 
out to Lipseombe and said, "We are saved 
again. I am going to tear down that rod and 
put up a new one." 

He said, "Jess, you beat the devil." 

This Mr. Lipseombe was a fine man, well edu- 
cated, handsome, sociable and mighty good 
company. I got well acquainted with him and 
he told me some things in confidence that I 
have kept sacred all these years, but as he is 
dead and was in no way to blame for what he 
did, and not culpable before the law, and the 
communication was, and is such a fine illustra- 
tion of the real condition of the negroes im- 
mediately after the Civil War that I give here 
for the first time his story. 

He said, "I have not been home for four 
years. I live near Danville, Va.; my people 
do not know where I am, and my name is not 

My ears were wide open. I was all atten- 
tion, for I knew there was a good story back 
of this prelude. 


He continued, "Near where I live is a negro 
church, every night and I mean Sunday, Mon- 
day, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 
and Saturday, these negroes would have 
church meetings, preaching, praying, singing, 
and I could hear them after I got into my 

"Sometimes I would take a nap and wake 
up and I would hear them singing. One day 
w^hen I went down to our barn to feed up the 
stock, I noticed a curious funnel in the corn 
pile. It looked as if somebody had made a hole 
in the back of the barn and the corn was run- 
ning out of this hole. I went around the back 
of the barn and examined the boards, and I 
found one had been taken off with a nail pul- 
ler. I could see the dents in the wood on both 
sides of the nail heads; after the nails had 
been drawn out and the board removed, the 
nails had been put back into the board, and 
the long points broken off, so that they would 
no longer hold the board in place; the nail 
heads still showed on the outside, as if they 
were still doing duty. There were two other 
nails driven in below the opening made where 
the board was removed. I examined these 
two nails and found some tow lint sticking to 
one of them. Then I knew that somebody was 
stealing my corn. A tow sack or bag had been 
used, and here were the two nails that the 


sack was suspended by to expedite the filling 

^'I made up my mind that I would investi- 
gate; so that night I took my gun and got 
into an empty pig pen where I was easily 
concealed. About 11 o'clock I saw a man 
come, take off the board, hang up his sack 
and proceeded in the most leisurely manner 
to fill his sack with my corn. I waited until 
he had filled the sack, tied up the open end, 
picked it up, put it on his shoulder to go away^ 
then I gave him the contents of both barrels 
of my gun. 

"It was loaded with fifteen buckshot in each 
barrel; the man tumbled over; I got out of the 
pig pen on the opposite side where the man 
had fallen. I waited a few minutes to see if 
he would move; he did not move; so I went 
to my room and went to bed. I did not sleep a 
Avink that night. I knew exactly the hour 
when the singing at the church stopped. It 
was five minutes past 1 o'clock, a. m. 

"I waited for about an hour and then went 
back and looked at my man from behind my 
pig pen. He was still lying as he fell. I went 
back to my room and waited for some one to 
call me and tell me about the tragedy. As 
soon as it began to turn light, one of the ne- 
groes came to my room and said excitedly that 
'there was a dead nigger down there back of 


the barn.' He said, 'That nigger had taken a 
board off the barn and stole some corn and 
somebody had shot and killed him dead." ' 
Mr. Lipscombe asked, "Who was the dead 
man?'' The negro said, ''It was the preach- 
er.'' He said further, ''I was at the meeting 
last night and the preacher said, 'Pray on, 
brethren, I will join you later.' " 

Mr. Lipscombe asked the negro who had 
shot the preacher? The negro said, "It must 
have been some of the Ku Klux." 

The coroner commenced an investigation and 
the negroes did all they could to help him 
unravel the mystery of the killing, but to no 
avail. The verdict was, "Death by a gunshot 
wound in the hands of some party unknown, 
justifiable homicide." 

Mr. Lipscombe said, "I stayed around home 
for about a month, then some friends told me 
that the negroes had made up their minds 
that I killed the preacher and that they were 
liable to assassinate me any night when I 
went out, and advised me to get a job that 
would take me away from home and this is 
the reason that I am a lightning rod man." 

I parted with Mr. Lipscombe early in the 
spring of 1872. I have never seen him since. 
I met Mr. Lee years after this and he told me 
Mr. Lipscombe was dead. 


The work I did for the landlord at Pendleton 
kept us both fed and lodged for about ten 
days, and during this time I had picked up 
over three hundred dollars in cash and about 
six hundred dollars in notes. 

These counties that I have mentioned were 
all prosperous and I did well. 

I wanted to go back to Clayton and see what 
w^as the matter with my sweetheart, but I said 
to myself, "I am not ready to marry yet, so I 
had better wait." 

So I spent the following summer in South 
Carolina. I had some vivid experiences that 
summer. The one event more indellibly im- 
pressed on my memory was a runaway smash- 
up one day, w^hen I was nearly killed. We, 
my negro, Howell Shines, and I, were going 
down a long red hill. It was cloudy and very 
dark; it looked like a storm w^as brewing. T 
felt a little anxious about the outcome, as my 
horses were very spirited and sensitive to the 
whip. I was looking for shelter and expected 
to be at a farmer's house in about twenty min- 
utes as it was only two miles distant, but the 
storm caught us while we were going down 
that long red hill; it rained hard for a few 
minutes, but we were protected with rubber 
coats and a rubber lap robe; soon it began 
to hail. I spoke to Howell to get his reins 
well in hand, for I knew the horses would try 


to get away from the lashing, as they con- 
ceived the hail to be. Howell said, '^ I have 
got them.'' I said, ''Keep your brakes on 
tight.'' He answered, "I've got 'em as tight 
as I can." 

In a few minutes I felt the wagon running 
on the horses. I said, ''The brakes are worn 
out and doing no good." It got so dark that 
we could hardly see enough to keep in the 
road. The horses got faster and finally broke 
into a run. We were going down that hill 
like an express train. There was a creek at 
the bottom of the hill, just before we got to 
this creek, a large tree had fallen across the 
road, but some one had cut out, with a saw, 
a section wide enough to allow vehicles to 
pass; our wagon was too far to the right, and 
our right hand wheels went up on the end 
of this tree at the speed of a running horse. 
The wagon jumped up into the air so quickly 
and so high that it turned over tow^ard the 
left. Howell, being on the right side, was 
thrown against me in the fall. He went clear, 
but I went under the wagon. I was being 
dragged along the road so fast I felt the top 
of my head rubbing against the ground. I felt 
my left ankle twist out of joint, and thought 
my spinal chord w^as being pulled apart. I 
felt that my right shoulder was broken. I felt 
water splash in my face, and still I could re- 


alize it all. I knew that I was caught under 
that w^agun and wondered how it would end, 
and it was done so quickly and came to a 
stop just as quickly. That I did not know then, 
but learned afterwards. All I knew then was 
the wagon was still, something had stopped the 
runaway horses; but w^hat was it? I was pin- 
ioned under the wagon and could not move. I 
heard Howell's voice asking if I was hurt. 
I said, ^'Yes, get this wagon off me.'' He said, 
*^I will in a minute." I heard him jerk on the 
rein of one of the horses and say, "Damn you, 
I would like to kill you." I heard the rattle 
of chains, then I became unconscious. I knew 
no more for nearly a week. 

When I became conscious again I was at 
the house of the Kev. Mr. Wm. B. Jones, who 
lived at the little village in Greenwood County 
that I had left before the storm. I was in a 
little back room, and Mrs. Jones and her 
daughter, Venie, were both sitting there 
watching me. I wanted to know all about 
it, but they would tell me nothing. Mrs. Jones 
said, "Later; now you must be quiet." I lay 
there for days and weeks. 

I felt that every bone in my body had been 
broken. I was so sore. When I got better 
Mr. Lee came to see me and explained the 
events as they occurred after I became un- 
conscious. He said the horses passed through 


the creek, dragging the wagon after them; 
that just beyond the creek the horses had at- 
tempted to pass on the opposite sides of a large 
standing tree and this tree is what stopped 
them. The singletrees were both broken, but 
the breast yoke had held them together; they 
were standing with their faces toward the 
wagon. He said Howell had tried to get me 
out from under the w^agon, but failing, he had 
ridden one of the horses to the farmer's house 
two miles away, and brought him and two 
or three other men with him. He said they 
had found my head between the spokes of the 
front wheel and my left foot between the 
spokes of the hind wheel. They sawed the 
spokes out to get me out. They carried me 
first to the farmer's house. I believe his name 
was Miller. I was so badly hurt they thought 
it best to take me to the village where the 
doctor lived, hence my presence in Mr. Jones' 
house. Mr. Lee told me that I would get well, 
but it would take a long time. 

Every movement I made gave me pain for 
at least two weeks; after this I commenced 
to improve more rapidly and as I grew bet- 
ter Mrs. Jones and her daughter, Venie,, then 
fifteen years old, did all they could to amuse 
me and help to pass away the tedious hours of 
convalescence. They spared no labor or pains in 
nursing and caring for me; had I been in a 


hospital, I could not have had better care. 

Mrs. Jones was a highly cultured woman, 
a fine musician, playing almost any piece of 
music at first sight on the piano or organ. She 
also had a good voice and sang well. The 
daughter gave promise of being just as fine 
a musician as her mother. Both the mother 
and daughter were near-sighted, and wore 
those curious glasses which made the eyes 
look so exaggerated. When I would look 
at Venie's innocent girlish face, with her rosy 
cheeks and dark eyes, I would say to myself, 
"She is pretty," but then my mind would im- 
mediately turn back to Clayton, N. C. I could 
see some other brown eyes that were so much 
more beautiful that I even ceased to think 
Venie pretty. 

At last I was well enough to ride on my 
wagon again. So with a heart full of grati- 
tude for all the kindnesses showm me, and 
paying up my debts as far as money could pay 
them, I bid my dear, new-found friends good- 

I went out of my way when I was getting 
ready to leave the state, just to thank them 
again and tell them good-bye. That was the 
last time I saw them. I have written several 
letters there, to Greenwood, their postoffice, 
and all of them came back. So they must have 
died or moved away. 


After leaving this place I was hardly able 
to work, but I could still talk and sell light- 
ing rods. The long rides in the wagon wore 
me out. My back would be so tired and ache 
so much that at last I had some thick cushions 
made to put in between my ladders, and I 
would lie down there to ride from house to 
house. I would go in, and sell the rods and 
have Howell to put them up. So I was still 
doing good work when I was not able to sit 
up all day. 

Out about two miles from Cokesbury, S. C, 
I found a farmer and merchant, a Mr. Wil- 
liam A. Moore, with a wife, three daughters 
and two sons. I met all the members of this 
family except the second daughter, Miss Mol- 
lie, who was off to a boarding school. 

The wife was one of the kindest and most 
considerate of women. I came to her house 
a perfect stranger, just after my terrible ex- 
perience as the result of the runaway smash- 
up. She could see what an effort it was for 
me to get around, for I still used a cane and 
one crutch. She knew that I needed a moth- 
er's care and a mother's sympathy. One day 
she asked me why I did not go home to my 
mother. I told her that I was too poor to go 
home to be a burden to my mother. This 
seemed to touch her greatly and she told me 
to come to her house every time that I was in 


the neighborhood and especially on Saturday 
afternoon and stay over Sunday. The invita- 
tion was also repeated by Mr. Moore, and 
given in such a way that I did not hesitate to 
accept it. I went there every Saturday after- 
noon for several months. Mr. Moore would 
never accept any money for the lovely enter- 
tainment they extended to me. I tried to even 
up by giving presents to little Wardlaw, the 
youngest, and Maimie, the youngest daugh- 
ter, seven and ten years old. 

The oldest daughter was Miss Janie, one of 
the loveliest girls that I ever met. She was 
beautiful, kind and a very fine musician. I 
did love her and for her kindness to me and for 
her tender consideration for the poor afflicted 
stranger who came to her door, I love her yet. 
Had I not met the lady at Clayton, who was 
one day to become my wife, it is no telling 
what might have happened, for Miss Janie was 
one of the most congenial spirits that I ever 

She was three years older than I, and for 
this reason she never looked upon me as a 
beau. She treated me like a younger brother. 
She was such good company in a quiet way, 
that I never tired being with her. We sang 
together, we read books to one another, we 
went to church together and read the service 
out of the same prayer book. She was an 


Episcopalian. The neighbors who saw us to- 
gether so much at church, on the roads driving, 
at her house and at the neighbors, where we 
visited, thought surely that there was a wed- 
ding in prospect, but they only saw two con- 
genial souls, who were happy in each other's 

Miss Janie knew that I was too poor to 
marry, for she heard me say so in the presence 
of Mr. Moore and Mrs. Moore one day when I 
said, "That a man who had nothing, and was a 
bohemian, on the go from place to place, with 
no settled home, had no business getting mar- 
ried, he would do the lady a great injus- 
tice if he knew that he was to take her out 
of a life of comfort and put her into a life of 
drudgery. It was not only an injustice to 
the lady, it was really a criminal act born 
not of love, but of a selfish passion." After 
this speech, Mr. Moore and his wife never fear- 
ed to trust Miss Janie to my care. 

It was with the deepest regret that I ap 
preached the time when I was to leave this 
neighborhood, and to leave these dear friends, 
for they were so kind to me. I loved them then 
and I love them now. It has been a greater 
regret that all during these thirty-nine years 
the claims on my time and my duty to those 
whose claims cannot be ignored, have not per- 
mitted me to see them again. I have intended 


and still intend, that if the opportunity pre- 
sents itself, I will see some of them again. If 
this is denied me here on earth, I will certainly 
look them up in the world to come, if permitted 
to do so. 

While I am on accidents and their results, 
or I might say, consequences, I will mention 
two other accidents that happened to me in 
South Carolina. One was in Columbia, when 
1 got a terrible fall from the top of a two- 
story building and escaped being killed. I was 
on the shingle roof, working my way down 
to the ground. It was a steep roof, about an 
angle of forty-five degrees. I had on rubber 
shoes, and also had the lightning rod that I 
w^as putting up to hold on to. I saw a shingle 
with the turpentine oozing out, drawn out by 
the heat of the sun. I knew that my foot 
would stick on this turpentine, so I put my 
whole weight on this one foot; the nail in 
the shingle gave way and I was thrown on my 
knees and hands, the fall putting me out of 
reach of my rod. I had a gimlet in my hand 
and tried to stop my sliding downward with 
it, but failed. There was only one chance, to 
catch the ladders as I passed by, which I did. I 
hallowed, "Steady the ladders." The man below 
tried to save me, but he was too light; I think 
it would have taken a ton weight to keep those 
ladders against the house. The ladders turned 


over with me; my weight, the coming of my 
body, going down at such speed, carried the 
ladders with me. As 1 fell I held to the ladders 
like ^^a drowning man will catch at a straw;" 
the ladders did me a good turn, they broke the 
force of my fall. I landed about twenty-five 
or thirty feet from the house on soft ground. 
I held on to the ladders until I was near the 
ground and then threw them off from me. I 
landed on my feet, but I was doubled up so 
quickly that it hurt my back, and my left knee 
went up against my upper teeth; it almost 
knocked my teeth out. It loosened them and 
the upper teeth made such a bruise on my 
knee that an abscess was formed there which 
left a scar to this day. 

Another accident that happened to me in 
South Carolina was when I fell down a man's 

It was an old fashioned house, either built 
for a road house or a school. It was two stor- 
ies and a half high, the chimneys being at the 
ends of the house and outside; they were very 
tall and there were two at each end; the cone 
or apex of the house was between the two 
chimneys; each chimney was about eight feet 
from the side of this cone. My ladders w^ere 
too short to enable me to put in the top fas- 
tening, which was put in six to ten brick from 
the top. To nail some pieces to my ladders at 


the bottom was one way to do it, and is the 
way that I should have done; but I was in a 
hurry, and did not want ^ to take any chances 
of splitting my ladders by putting in and tak- 
ing out the nails. 

So I did the work another way, or tried to 
do it, and in doing so, came very near going 
all the w^ay down that chimney, or becoming 
jammed in it, as I went down. I put my lad- 
ders up to and on the eaves, the lowest part of 
the roof, this enabled me to get on the roof. 
With my rubber shoes on my feet and carry- 
ing a piece of rope with me, I worked my way 
to the cone, which I straddled. Then, throw- 
ing one end of my rope to the man who had 
followed me to the eaves, bringing with him 
the third and smallest section of my ladders, 
at my direction he tied his end of the rope to 
the ladder and pushed it up toward me. With 
this ladder I could, when in the right position, 
reach each of the chimney's top. I was figur- 
ing that each chimney was a firm, well-built 
chimney. This was my mistake. Instead of 
being firm, they were very rickety, and I not- 
iced that the chimney shook when I put the 
ladder across to the first top. This should 
have been a warning to me, but I was fearless 
and short on judgment. So after fastening the 
end of the ladder on the house first, by screw- 
ing in some fastenings and tieing the ladder 


to them with inarlin, then I got on the lad- 
der on my stomach and pulled myself over to- 
ward the chimney. It w^as a hazardous under- 
taking. At last I got to the shaking chimney. 
I could not reach the point where I wanted to 
put in the top fastening, so I had to leave the 
ladder and straddle the partition in the chim- 
ney. It was also shaky. I took my long fas- 
tening out of my pocket and my hatchet out of 
my belt and reached over as far as I could and 
commenced to drive in the fastening, the 
mortar was soft, rotten, and the fastening 
went in too easy. Either the end of the fas- 
tening w^ent in against one of the bricks in 
the partition and knocked it out, letting the 
others fall, or it was my weight on them and 
the swaying motion of my arm and body dis- 
lodged some brick that was an arch for the 
others. I don't know what, but I felt the 
bricks tumbling under me and I was going 
down the chimney. One end of my ladder pro- 
jected far enough over the chimney for me to 
grab it as I went down; the whole top of the 
chimney was swaying but my weight on the 
ladder and the fastenings with the marlin 
binding at the other end of the ladder on the 
roof, saved me from a terrible fall and pos- 
sibly from death. I was able to turn myself 
around in the chimney and get my face to- 
ward the roof. I had gone down with my face 


the other way. By main strength I drew my- 
self up out of the chimney and onto the lad- 
der, lying flat on my stomach. Then I pulled 
myself along in the same way that I had gone 
to the chimney, back to safety and to better 

I took my ladder down on the ground and 
went to the woods and cut two small trees 
as large as my leg and with these lengthened 
out my ladders and finished my job. 



I finished up in South Carolina and started 
for Charlotte, North Carolina. It was Novem- 
ber and the weather was beautiful. I did not 
try to do much work on the way. I would 
make thirty-five to fifty miles per day. I had 
about recovered from my hurt in the runaway. 
The chimney incident happened nearly a year 
before this. At last I arrived in Charlotte. I 
put my horses in the livery stable, gave my man 
a five dollar bill and told him I would be gone 
one week. When the train pulled out that 
night, for Greensboro and Raleigh, I was on 
board, going to see the darling of my heart, 
to learn what was to be my fate. 

I had been w^orking on a commission for 
nearly a year. I got thirty-three and one- 
third per cent and paid my own expenses. My 
earnings were all in notes and must be col- 
lected. I did not know that such notes were 
hard to collect, that a man would pay for ev- 
erything else that he owed before he would pay 
for lightning rods. I had figured that I would 
have four thousand dollars for my year's work. 
So I felt rich, even though I did not have 


the money. It was with a light heart that I 
was going to see Miss Bettie Lee, this is what 
her friends called, but her name was Laura 
Elizabeth Lee. 

I had gone away with a heavy heart in 
August, 1871, and this was November, 1872, 
just fifteen months later, and here I was com- 
ing back with fine clothes on my back, nice 
shoes on my feet, a stylish hat on my head, 
and money in my pocket, and a little over four 
thousand dollars in notes to collect. 

I felt fine as a fiddle, was in good health and 
had nerve enough to steal my sweetheart like 
Lochinvar in the poem if I could not get her in 
any other way. I did not know what I had to 
contend against before I could ever call this 
darling my own, but not knowing this side of 
the story, it gave me no pain on this journey. 

I landed in Clayton on Saturday morning. 
I w^ent to my sister's, Mrs. Harrell, to clean 
up. Here is where I got my first bump, which 
made a lump come in my throat. I do not 
know whether I got angry or sad. Here is 
what I heard. My sweetheart had a real beau 
and it was reported that there would be a 
marriage soon. 

This made me real sick at heart. It gave 
me so much pain that I almost got angry with 
those of my own kin that told me. They said 
it was Mr. Kichard or Dick Graham, who had 


shoved me aside, that my sweetheart never 
even thought of me again. This hurt me in 
a new place. Then I thought of these months 
of hardships, of all that I had gone through to 
get money, the lack of which Had banished 
me from her sight, then I said, "Here I come 
back with some money in my pocket and my 
queen, my angel, had forgotten me and found 
another lover. Fickle woman; how can I trust 

Then I said, "As she is not married yet, J 
will not believe one word against her until I 
see her and she tells me so with her own lips." 

I went straight to her house. She was vis- 
iting a neighbor. Where? No one knew. 
When would she be home? No one knew. T 
saw that my arrival was known and an effort 
being made to keep her out of my way. I went 
into a store next to her home — a Mr. Bryant's 
— and asked him if he knew where Miss Bettie 
Lee w^as. He said he did not, but thought that 
she went down toward Mr. Home's store. I 
waited in the store and when Mr. Bryant was 
at leisure, I told him that I had come all the 
way from Charlotte to see Miss Bettie, and I 
was determined to see her. I told him that I 
loved her, and had made money enough to take 
care of her, and that I intended to marry her 
if she would have me. 


He said, ^'I don't blame you, but they say 
that she and Dick Graham will be married 

Here was the same miserable news again; 
was it true? Near 12 o'clock I saw her coming 
home with Miss Bettie Cox. She came out 
of her sister's home. I watched her all the 
way down the distance. I had been waiting 
for two hours to see her; these two hours were 
lost to me forever, and now, here she was 
coming along just like she did not know and 
did not care whether I was in town or out of 
town. Did she care? 

I noted that she had grown; she was taller, 
and had picked up some flesh; but she had on 
one of those old fly bonnets. How I hated the 
ugly things! It shut out my view; I could only 
see a part of her face, her chin, but it was 
beautiful. When she was opposite the store, 
I walked out in front of her — a rude thing to 
do — ^I extended my hand without saying a 
word. She said, "Why it is Mr. Battle!" 

I said, "I have come a long way to see you. 
I did not know where you were, no one would 
tell me, so I waited here in this store." 

She seemed pleased, and in pain, too; what 
did it mean? Were the reports true? The re- 
port which said that she was to marry Mr. 
Dick Graham. I could not ask her. I must 
wait and let her tell me. 


She asked me to ^'come in" and had a look of 
pain in her face, which said, "I hope you will 

This is the way that I read it, and I read it 
right. I thanked her and said it was dinner 
time and I would not detain her. I saw a 
sweet, grateful smile come over her face, which 
told me that I had rightly decided the matter. 

I asked her if I could go with her to church 
on the morrow, and she said, ^'I am sorry, 
but I have another engagement." 

I asked her if I could see her in the after- 
noon. She said she was sorry again, but she 
was going into the country with her sister. 

Then I asked her if I could see her in the 
evening. She said, "Yes, if you can enjoy my 
other company." I felt like saying, ''Darn 
your other company;" but I smiled with a woe- 
begone look, and said I would be delighted to 
see her other company. All this conversa- 
tion was in the presence of Miss Bettie Cox. 
I had forgotten she was present, but Miss Lee 
had not. I parted with her for the present, 
and it seemed as if I were parting with her 

My conceit was being taken out of me with 
lightning-like rapidity. Everything did not 
look so rosy or promising. My little worldly 
success, which seemed so important to me a 
day or so ago, now seemed to be insignifi- 

AND S0M:E stories of my life. 175 

cant, for I wanted wealth for this beautiful 
girl; for her alone. Without her the money that 
I had worked so hard to get seemed to be worth- 
less. What did I want with a home or money 
or line clothes if I could not please and at- 
tract this, my first Empress? 

With such thoughts as these I left her, and 
went back to my sister's. 

They must have discovered my disappoint- 
ment, for my sister said, "Don't let it worry 
you, for if she loves you, nobody can keep her 
from marrying you, and if she does not love 
you, but loves somebody else, even if she mar- 
ried you, you would not be happy, and I know 
that you would not want to marry her if you 
thought she would be unhappy with you." 

These remarks opened up to me the fact that 
there were two lives vitally involved in a mar- 
riage and besides the two parties there were 
a host of others, on both sides, the relatives, 
the friends and acquaintances and religious 
affiiliations to be pleased or displeased in the 
match, all of which plays an important part 
in the happiness of two lives who are about to 
be joined together. How important, I am 
afraid the immature judgment of young people 
contemplating matrimony are incapable of ap- 

A love match, guided by mature judgment, 
has firmer foundations than a match made on 


love and passion alone, for passion satiated 
and love disgusted, means a wrecked home. 
Judgment protects the man and woman against 
the influences of outside gossip, it keeps the 
evil of the outside on the outside, and it deals 
with the evil on the inside with a passionless 
appreciation of peace, which keeps the peace. 
It knows w^hat consideration and forbearance 
mean, and uses both in a useful way to pre- 
serve the peace, happiness and serenity of the 

Poverty is a great enemy to the human fam- 
ily, in the suffering it produces, in the disap- 
pointment attending it, but when judgment 
takes hold of it, poverty loses its power, for 
judgment says that poverty usually comes 
from laziness, and laziness can be destroyed 
by work; work brings the fruits of labor, and 
the fruits of labor means thrift, and where 
there is thrift, there is no poverty. 

Again, the difference of faith and religion 
is a great source of worry and trouble in the 
family, especially w^here there are children. If 
both parents are strong in their different faiths 
trouble is more sure to come than if one is in- 
different about religious matters. 

The liberal-minded one can bear with the 
bigoted one, but the bigoted one is always in- 
tolerant toward the liberal one. 

Again, parents and relatives are responsible 


for many of the family rows among young mar- 
ried people, by giving bad advice to them. 
Here, again, is where judgment comes in to 
^^pour oil on the troubled waters." 

Judgment grows like an education, not by 
itself, it must be cultivated and this cultiva- 
tion requires time, effort and perseverance. 

So judgment is not so common with the 
young men and women as with the older men 
and women; hence it is a greater obligation 
on the older men and women to give good ad- 
vice than on the younger ones, for they have 
more judgment, better matured. 

These thoughts passed through my mind in 
a vague way, but they were only thoughts, and 
they settled nothing regarding my future. 

That night I went again to see the young 
lady that I loved. When I got there I 
heard voices and laughter within. I knocked 
on the door and Miss Bettie came to the door 
to let me in. There was no light in the hall, 
but the parlor door was open and a flood of 
light wrapped my darling in its folds. She was 
dressed in white and her beautiful hair was 
parted in the middle and brushed back; a 
crown of rich brown as a background for this 
angelic face. I never saw her look more beau- 
tiful; there was a flush on her face, more like 
a blush than rosy cheeks. 


I extended to her my hand, which she took. 
I gave her hand a gentle pressure, had I 
squeezed her hand as I loved her, her hand 
would have been lame for a long time to come. 

I believed I detected a slight pressure as 
a return, but at that time I was not certain. 
She looked pleased and this was consoling at 
any rate. She took me in the parlor and in- 
troduced me to all of her friends, among oth- 
ers, my rival and enemy, as I considered him 
at that time, Mr. Richard Graham. I had to 
confess to myself that he was better looking 
than I was, and he had a very fine shaped head 
and was dressed equally as well as I was 
— I had thought that I was fixed up 
about as nicely as a moderate expenditure of 
money could provide. I noted that all became 
very quiet after I had entered the room. The 
buzz of voices and the laughter ceased. So my 
arrival did make a difference. How much dif- 
ference it made at that time I was not suf- 
ficently developed in perception to discover. 

I felt too serious to entertain that company, 
and I remembered the report made to me about 
the reputation I had for being wild. So I sat 
still like the balance for about an hour, then 
excused myself and left. It was not yet 9 
o'clock. During the days that I used to go 
calling on young ladies, I made it a rule to go 
home at 9 o'clock. I heard a father say one night 


when a young man went home after 11 o'clock 
p. m., "that he did not have enough sense to 
go home/' This expression made such an im- 
pression on me that I made up my mind not 
to give any father or mother the occasion to 
say that about me. 

I have seen many persons since who filled 
the bill exactly, for they did not have sense 
enough to go home. 

I learned that Mrs. Lee said, "Well, he has 
sense enough to know when to go home." 

Old people object very seriously to being 
kept up later than their usual bed time; for 
I know by experience that to conform to our 
regular habits makes us more comfortable and 
adds to our ability to perform and perfect our 
alloted tasks. 

I did not sleep well that night, for I knew 
that my sweetheart was going to church with 
the other man, a better looking man, a man of 
good family, who owned land in the edge of 
town and had the most conspicuous residence 
in or near the town. 

He owned a nice horse and a new buggy, 
which he had doubtless bought in prospect of 
his approaching wedding. 

Here I was with no horse and buggy and had 
to walk, and if my sweetheart had accepted my 
invitation to go to church, she would have had 


to walk also. I did not blame her, I said in 
my misery, ^*Go on, ride; I would ride too; 
you are right, ride with the man who can fur- 
nish the conveyance; go to church with a man 
who can take you there like a lady. Don't fool 
away your time with a man who has to walk, 
when there is one who is ready to take you 
around in a buggy or carriage." 

The next morning, Sunday morning, my 
dream came true, for I was trudging along, 
w^alking to the church. The road was dusty, 
the day w^as warm; I was mopping my brow 
and cursing my luck. My shoes were covered 
with dust, my nice black pants were grey half 
way to my knees with the dust. Just then I 
looked back dow^n the road and there was Mr. 
Graham and mv sweetheart ridino* alono* so 
cool and comfortable, overtaking me and in a 
minute more would pass me going to church. 
I saw myself, a poor devil, walking the road 
in dust, and sweat, making such a poor appear- 
ance in comparison with this elegant young 
man with his fine horse and new buggy. T 
said to myself, "Yes, it is best, for all her peo- 
ple live here, and the young man lives here, 
they are all friends, and have known each 
other since childhood, and I am the stranger, 
I am the interloper. I am the man who comes 
in and wants something that the whole town 
seemed determined that I should not have; but 


what if the lady did not love the other man, 
and did love me?" 

That v^^ould be different. The lady could not 
ask me to marry her, I must do the asking. 
This settled the matter. I made up my mind 
then, come what may, I would know my fate 
before I left town, but how could I get a 
chance to see her. This seemed to be an im- 
possibility, but I could try. 

I did try, but no use. At the church I did 
like the rest. I went into the church. The 
ladies all went on the left side, and the men 
on the right. It did not take me long to find 
Miss Bettie, but she was busy with her hymn 
book and did not turn her head. When recess 
came she got up and went out. Mr. Graham 
also got up and went out, and soon I got up 
and went out. I looked down toward Mr. Gra- 
ham's buggy and there they were sitting in 
the buggy. He did not leave her during the 
day except when he was in the church. 

I intended to leave on Monday, going to Wil- 
son to see my mother and sister withiher fam- 
ily. I must speak to her that I loved, today, 
but how? There was no chance, I made one. 
I walked up to the buggy, pulled off my hat, 
and said, "Miss Bettie, you have so many' en- 
gagements since I have been here that I have 
been unable to see you. I must leave here 
tomorrow. I am going down to Wilson to see 


my mother. I have not seen her for fifteen 
months. I stopped oft' here to see you first, 
but have seen much less of you than I had 
hoped; please don't get married before I see 
you again, for I have something to tell you.'' 

I saw a snap in her big, brown eyes that told 
me that she would wait, but she said, "I have 
no idea of getting married.'' 

I looked at Mr. Graham, and he had a sickly 
smile on his face, which showed to me the vacil- 
lating, good, easy, don't care, indifferent dispo- 
sition and character that gave me new hope. 

After this, I said, ^'That man would not 
make a good husband, he is too indifferent 
about everything. He lacks energy, he lacks 
enterprise. He is too slow to love real hard, 
and what is more, he shall not marry Miss 
Bettie Lee if I can prevent it." 

I went my way. I had much to do and T 
went on and did it, leaving my rival a free field 
to win if he was able to do so. I had been 
back several times during the winter but had 
no better success in seeing the one I loved so 

I cam.e again in March, 1873, and went to her 
home to see her. I went in the morning. She 
and her mother were both at work sewing. 
Mrs. Lee was basting and Miss Bettie was 
sewing on the machine. 


I was hoping that Mrs. Lee would go out 
for something. I waited about an hour, but 
still she kept her seat. At last I pulled out 
an envelope and wrote these words, "You know 
that I love you, will you be my wife?'' and 
pushed the envelope and pencil before her 
on the machine. The machine did not stop 
running, the buzz went on. I glanced over to- 
ward Mrs. Lee, her head, with bonnet on, 
was over her work. Miss Bettie wrote un- 
derneath my writing, "What shall I say?" I 
wrote under this, "Say yes." She wrote again, 
under this, just one word, "Yes." 

I turned around and said to Mrs. Lee, "You 
have doubtless noticed me coming to your 
house. I love your daughter. She loves me; 
we want to be married and I ask your con- 
sent." She said, "You are a stranger to me, 
and I do not want to give my daughter to any 
body. If she finds somebody that she loves 
better than she loves me, she can make her 
choice; as she makes her bed so she must lie 
on it." 

I told her that Miss Bettie, if she married 
me, would have a soft bed to lie on; that my 
mother had five feather beds to give me. 

She said, "Something else was needed beside 
feather beds." 

She said further that "A young man sees a 
pretty girl and wants to marry her, but after 


he is married, he learns that there are many 
other things that he needed much worse than 
he did a wife,'' and this remark I have found 
to be true. 

I told her that we were in no hurry to get 
married, that I already had enough to take 
care of a wife and she could make inquries 
about me, and if the people she inquired of 
told the truth she would find nothing against 
me. I told her my record was clean; the worst 
that had ever been told on me was that I was 
wild. I said this wildness consisted in my go- 
ing out with other musicians serenading, the 
girls at night, that I had done that six or 
eight times in my whole life. "I also play the 
banjo and sing, I play the violin and mando- 
lin and guitar. I also played accompaniments 
on the piano to my songs. I do not drink in- 
toxicating liquors, and I have no bad habits, 
I have been baptized into the Christian Church 
and am fond of the Church and Sunday School. 
I feel at home in any church, for my kinfolks 
belong to almost every denomination." 

She said, "If you are as good as that, you 
are good enough for any woman." 

So, with no serious objection to our engage- 
ment, I left the house with the promise that 
the girl who was all the world to me, was to 
be my wife. 


Oh, ecstasy! how sweet thou art! I was rais- 
ed from the bottomless pit of despondency to 
the highest heaven! 

I walked out of that yard, stepping as lightly 
as a show horse. 

Old Mr. McCullers saw me passing his store, 
and something in my light, saucy air attracted 
his attention, and he yelled at me, and said, 
^'Come back here a minute, I want to talk to 
you." I stopped and w^ent up to him and said, 
"What is it?" He asked, "How are you get- 
ting on?" I said, "It is all right." "Have you 
got it all fixed up?" I said, "Almost." "When 
is it going to be?" I said, "I think about the 
middle of next October." He said, "That is 
all right, you have done pretty well." 

I went to see my loved one that evening, 
and had her all to myself for the first time. 
What a delightful evening! Why do not all 
men love their wives as well and treat them as 
sweethearts as long as they live? They would 
get so much happiness out of life if they only 
would. For thirty-eight years I have had a 
sweetheart. I never left her in all these years 
to go to some other place for entertainment. 
I always took her with me. If the entertain- 
ment was not good enough for my wife, neither 
was it good enough for me. 

I left early the next morning, going to Wil- 
son. I remained only two days. I found all 


well, my mother was delighted to see me, as 
was my sister. When I told them that I would 
be married in the fall, they wanted to know all 
about it, and I told them all that there was 
to tell. 

I stopped over in Clayton one day as it was 
on my way to Charlotte, just for one more 
taste of heaven before I went back to work. 
I had written to my betrothed that I would 
spend the next day with her. When I arrived 
she met me at the door, and what a happy, 
sweet smile was on her face. She took me into 
the parlor, saying that her mother went down 
to the store, but would be back after a while. 
W^e spent the whole day with each other, get- 
ting acquainted. I took dinner with her. She 
and I alone, with old Aunt Palace waiting on 
us. Mrs. Lee did not come back, taking din- 
ner with her other daughter, Mrs. Home. 
This simple little dinner, out in the kitchen, 
out in another house in the yard, as are many 
of the kitchens in the south, was one of the 
happiest events in my life. There sat in front 
of me the one being in all the world that I 
loved most. So quiet and matter of fact. We 
were almost strangers, for we had seen so 
little of each other, we knew nothing of each 
other except what the eyes of love revealed. 
Yet there we sat as if we had been married all 
our lives, with hearts full of love, and guided 


by an unfaltering trust. Each could "read life's 
meaning in the other's eyes.'' Here is the 
foundation of devoted lives, here is the source 
of all earthly happiness, and it may be found 
lapping over into eternity. There is nothing 
more lasting than love, and nothing more beau- 
tiful than trust. These two give the other 
one blessed member of the heavenly trinity. 
For there we have, "Faith, Hope and Charity." 
Our souls were in the "seventh heaven," but 
our conversation was about a home we would 
build, about how we would furnish it and how 
much we would spend for living expenses. I 
smile now to think how innocent we were then; 
for in our simplicity we figured out that we 
could live gn one hundred and twenty-five 
dollars per year. If we had done this all our 
thirty-eight years of married life we would 
have saved in living expenses alone, the snug 
little sum of two hundred and twenty thousand 
eight hundred and fifty dollars. 

The first ten years of our married life our 
living expenses were two hundred dollars per 
month, which would make twenty-four thou- 

For the last twenty-eight years our expenses 
have averaged six hundred dollars per month, 
this would be two hundred and one thousand 
and six hundred dollars, adding the sum of the 
first ten years to the sum of the last twenty- 


eight years, 3^ou will have the grand total of 
two hundred twenty-live thousand, six hundred 
dollars, and if you will deduct from this 
amount the four thousand seven hundred and 
fifty dollars, which is one hundred and twen- 
ty-five dollars per year for the thirty-eight 
years that we have been married, you will 
see how near we two silly children came 
to calculating what our real expenses would 
actually be. If I could have looked down 
through the years to come and know^n the 
truth, and told old Mrs. Lee and her daugh- 
ter, too, how much money I w^ould make and 
spend on the daughter, the old lady would have 
said that I t\ as the biggest braggart that she 
had even seen, and the daughter, would have 
thought I was crazy and probably have given 
me my walking papers. 

It is just as well that we do not know all 
the good and evil that is to come to us, for a 
knowledge of the evil would take away our 
hope and a knowledge of the good would take 
away one of the producers of the good, namely, 

If I had told my wife and her mother that 
one day I would build for my wife in Clay- 
ton, her own home, a house to cost more money 
than any house in town and I would put things 
into it for convenience and comfort that 


neither of them had ever seen, both of them 
would have told me that I was the wildest 
dreamer to be found, and this is exactly what 
I have done. 

The next day I had to leave for Charlotte, 
and while I hated awfully to go away so far 
from my betrothed wife, duty called and away 
I went. 

I got my wagon and came on east, intending 
to work in Granville County that summer, the 
summer of 1873. My plighted love spent most 
of the summer in Raleigh, with her sister, get- 
ting ready with her trousseau. Every Satur- 
day afternoon I would quit work, borrow a 
saddle and ride one of my horses thirty, forty 
or fifty miles just to see that lovely face for a 
few hours on Sunday. The time passed quickly 
and at last we set the day for our wedding on 
October 22nd, and were married. 

I had already commenced to build a home in 
Raleigh, but I changed my plans and sold the 
house to a Mr. Pool and after forming a co- 
partnership to go into a different line of busi- 
ness, I continued my lightning rod business 
for a year to give me time to collect my notes 
and get together as much money as I could 
to be properly equipped for my new business. 

I had too many bumps and knocks in my 
lightning rod experience and had felt too keen- 
ly on several occasions the pangs of apprehen- 


sion of coming evils when my pockets were 
empty of casli to attempt to establish a new 
business without money. 

I spent the winter of 1874 and 1875 in col- 
lecting. I did this on horseback. 



In January, 1875, I was on horseback collect- 
ing notes in Rowan and Davidson Counties, 

N. a 

It was the policy of the lightning rod com 
pany to send a stranger to collect the notes, 
instead of the man who sold and put up the 
lightning rods. 

I had nearly finished my work and was going 
east. I came to the Yadkin River at Trading- 
ford. The ferryman was waiting on my side of 
the river. It was a flat boat, with a railing 
on the sides and an extension gate at the ends. 
The ferryman worked with a cable passing 
through two pulleys. When all was ready, 
with me sitting on my horse in the middle of 
the boat, the man pushed the boat from the 
shore and with an adjustable pulley, let the 
end of the boat leaving the shore drop down 
stream, the motion of the running water car- 
rying the boat across the river. I thought 
this a fine arrangement. We got along smooth- 
ly for a while. The ferryman said to me, "You 
had better get off that horse." I said I did not 
want my saddle to get wet, as it was rain- 


ing and I was well fixed for wet weather, as 
I had on rubber overshoes, rubber leggins, rub- 
ber overcoat and a rubber cover for my hat. 
I was as comfortable as a ''bug in a rug." 

The weather was cold and there were thin 
pieces of ice floating in the river. When we 
got further out into the river, the stream was 
running swifter, the pulley at the front end of 
the boat as we moved being burdened with an 
extra friction and increased speed, commenced 
to yell like the screams of a lost soul. I never 
heard a more unearthly noise in my life. My 
horse was more alarmed than I was, and start- 
ed to turn around to go back . I gave her a 
jerk on the curb bit and must have hurt her 
severely, for w^hen she found the high gate be- 
hind her closed, she reared up and deliberately 
turned to the side railing and jumped over into 
the river. 

Both of us went under the water, for at this 
point the river is deep. When we came to 
the surface, my horse struck out to swim down 
stream. I dropped out of the saddle, holding 
on to the horn with my left hand. I was on 
the right side of my horse. I struck her on the 
head with my right hand and said, "Get out of 
here." This turned her toward the shore, 
where I wanted to go. She was swimming 
easy. The water, when it first went through 
my clothes to my body, was so cold that T 


thought I was freezing, but in a few minutes 
my body warmed this water some and I felt 
comparatively comfortable. 

This same mare, Mollie, was one of the best 
I ever saw. I knew her well and was con- 
fident that she could take me to the shore in 

I picked out a place to land, nearly a quar- 
ter of a mile below the ferry landing. I had 
to do this on account of the swift current in the 

We landed on a sand bar and went on to the 
shore. My clothes were so heavy I could 
hardly walk. I tied my mare to a tree and got 
a switch and scraped all the water off of her 
that I could and then mounted and went on 
up through a field to the road. 

I looked back and there was the ferryman 
still in the middle of the river. I galloped on 
for a mile or two and stopped at the first house 
I came to and asked for help. I told my 
story, showed my wet clothes and made my- 
self known as a Free Mason, something that 
I had never done before. The gentleman was 
named Goodwood, and was a Mason. He said, 
"Come right in and we will fix you up in a 
few minutes. He brought me some towels and 
some of his own clothes, and as there was only 
one fire in his house and one in his kitchen, 
he asked his wife and daughters to go to the 


kitchen till I could get dressed. I did not take 
long. He was a big man and I was a small 
one, but his clothes felt so good I could not 
complain about the misfit. I had the same 
job to do over again that I had done nearly 
four years before, to dry out my money and 
clean my watch. 

I spent the day with Mr. Goodwood, whose 
name should have been Mr. Goodman, the lad- 
ies dried out my clothes for me and I was soon 
on my way east again. 

If I had known what a disastrous windup 
was before me in the lightning rod business, it 
would have given me palpitation of the heart. 

At the suggestion of Mr. Lee, I formed a 
co-partnership with one Mr. John Bagwell for 
the year 1874, in the lightning rod business. 
We had four wagons and were to pay ten cents 
per foot for the rods and were to turn over 
all notes taken to secure this ten cents out 
of the first collections. Individually, I turned 
over more than ten thousand dollars in notes, 
but the other three wagons, with John Bag- 
well on one and his brothers on the other two, 
turned over less than five thousand dollars for 
the three wagons. So being partners with 
John Bagnell cost me my whole year's work, 
for it took all my individual profit to pay up 
partnership debts. Had I worked alone as I 


had been doing, my profits would have been 
over three thousand dollars. 

So I came out of the lightning rod busi- 
ness, after four years of hard work, depriva- 
tions and dangers with about twenty-six hun 
dred dollars. 

I was ready to take up a new line of busi- 
ness. All the time that I was a lightning rod 
man, while I was riding along the road, I had 
plenty of time to think. Among other thoughts 
w^as the one that led to success. It was this: 
I said here, "I am going from house to house 
and selling something that I can never sell 
again. I tell them good-bye and never see 
them again. I want a business that will en- 
able me to sell to a customer something that 
he will continue to use as long as he lives." 

If I had such a business and enough cus- 
tomers, it will be only a few years when I will 
have all the money that I can desire. These 
thoughts were the foundation of my fortune. 

The next question was, "What is to be my 

A drummer from Baltimore left at the hotel 
in Wilson, Dun's Commercial Book of Credits 
for the South. I got hold of this book and com- 
menced to examine it, and there I found all 
the business men's names and opposite the 
name would be a "letter and a figure."' These 
letters and figures referred to a table on the 


first page. The letter would tell you what 
the man or partnership or corporation was 
estimated to be worth, and the figure w^ould 
tell you what the grade of his credit was. Thi?< 
book was so fascinating to me that I put in 
hours looking up various men that I thought 
I knew\ Some of them, w^hom I thought to be 
well off, had no credit, and some men that I 
thought poor had real good credit. 

So I said, ^'Money does not give a man cred- 
it, but it is his willingness to pay and he does 
pay his debts", and this led me to the second 
thought that a merchant, when he had little 
money, must not buy more than he can pay 
for, as the paying gave him the credit and 
credit is founded on confidence. 

In other w^ords, it is the upright, honorable 
and reliable business man who has the con- 
fidence of his creditors and this gives him the 

I found that '^A. 1" meant one million dol- 
lars, and I found none in North Carolina. 

I found several banks in the South worth 
five hundred thousand dollars. I found sev- 
eral lumber companies w^orth over one hun- 
dred thousand dollars. The merchants were 
rated from one thousand to fifty thousand 
dollars, some milling companies were worth 
from ten to twenty-five thousand dollars, the 


railroad companies were rated higher than any 

I looked for the wholesale druggists, they 
were rated high. I looked for the manufac- 
turing chemists, there were very few in the 
South at that time. There was one in New 
Orleans with about two hundred thousand dol- 
lars as a capital. 

Out of all of these lucrative lines of busi- 
ness, which one could I embark in. I could 
not be a banker, for that meant a lot of money, 
which I did not have. I could not own a rail- 
road for the same reason. So I excluded all 
of these lines till I came to the manufacturing 
chemist, then I said I can be a manufacturing 
chemist, if I make only one bottle of medi- 

Here is where my four years' study of medi- 
cine came in again. I was not yet a doctor, 
but I knew much about medicine. 

I bought some books on chemistry and phar- 
macy and started in again to study these 
branches of medicine. I took a part of the 
money that I had and bought a drug store in 
Wilson, N. C, and started in business under 
the name of Battle & Co. I took my brother, 
Cullen, in business with me, though he did not 
have any money, and another gentleman, who 
shall be nameless, for business reasons. This? 
gentleman was a good druggist, as well as be- 


ing a doctor. He had no money either. I was 
the only one of the three who had any money. 
In two year's experimenting, we developed the 
formulas of lodia and Bromidia. The first is 
an alterative and tonic and the last is an hyp- 
notic, something to make one sleep. 

Up to the time that w^e began to manufac- 
ture Bromidia, the doctors used Dover's Powd- 
ers and Hydrate of Chloral as sleeping por- 
tions, but after Bromidia became known, this 
was the favorite remedy to produce sleep. 

We sold out the drug store in October, 1875, 
and moved our business to St. Louis. We rent 
ed two rooms over a bar-room at 100 South 
Main street. We remained at 100 South Main 
street for two years, and being cramped for 
room and having no elevator, we leased No. 
116 Olive street for three years. 

At the expiration of our lease, our quarters 
were too small to accommodate our business. 
We next located at 402 North Main street, and 
remained at this place until 1887, when we 
moved to our own building, which we had just 
put up at 2001 Locust street, where we are at 
present (1911) located. 

In May, 1876, Mr. S. S. Blackwell, of New 
York City, who had been in business in Wil- 
son, N. C, and who married for his second wife 
an old school mate of mine. Miss Josephine 
Blount, of Wilson, N. C, came west looking 


for an opening to go into business. He had 
some money, We needed him and his money, 
so we took him in as a partner with one-fourth 
interest, in our business. In 1880 we bought 
out the nameless gentleman's interest in our 
business. In 1883 we made a corporation of 
our company, calling it by the name of Bat^ 
tie & Co., Chemists Corporation. 



Mj brother, Cullen, and I started to Chi- 
cago on the 19th of January, 1876. I had 
just come from North Carolina where the cli- 
mate is mild and pleasant. I Had never owned 
an overcoat, I did not need it, and to land in a 
country where the thermometer registered 
around zero was such a change that a man 
much less sensitive than I was would have 
felt it keenly. 

In getting ready to leave St. Louis for Chi- 
cago, I went down to the various "scalpers" 
offices to see if I could not save some money on 
the trip. In those days there were many men 
who would purchase the unused part of a rail- 
road ticket for a much lower price than the 
regular rate, and would sell it again for a 
price lower than the regular rate, and still 
have a fair profit on the sale. These men were 
called "scalpers." So all the commercial trav- 
elers were familiar with this fact and availed 
themselves of it, to save a dollar or so. 

I, with the other travelers, was perfectly 
w^illing to "beat the railroads," as it was called, 
in buying a "scalper's" ticket to any point to 
which I wanted to go. 


The regular price to Chicago was nine dol- 
lars for one ticket. I bought two tickets from 
a ''scalper/' Mr. Ben Wassermann, for seven 
dollars each. I congratulated myself that T 
had saved four dollars. 

My brother and I went to the depot that 
night to take our train for Chicago. I heard 
a man halloo, "All aboard for Chicago." I call- 
ed my brother, Cullen, and said, "There is our 
train getting ready to start, so we had bet- 
ter get aboard.'' We went to a train stand- 
ing in the old depot, where there were many 
other trains getting ready to start. Some go- 
ing east, some going west. They were backed 
up to a passageway from the middle of the de- 
pot. I asked a man in a blue uniform and 
brass buttons w^hich was the Chicago train; 
he pointed to a train headed east, on the third 
track, and said, "There is your train." My 
brother and I got on the train indicated by the 
railroad man, and settled ourselves for an all- 
night ride. We w^ere in the "day coach." There 
was a "sleeper" on that night, but this would 
cost us two dollars each, and we would not 
think of giving ourselves so much comfort at 
such a price. 

Our train soon pulled out of the depot, and 
we passed over the Eads Bridge and also 
through East St. Louis. 

W^e were going at a lively rate toward Chi- 


cago and must have been at least ten miles 
out from St. Louis, when I saw the conductor 
coming along. He was collecting the tickets. 
When he got to us, he held out his hand for 
our tickets. I had them in my hand waiting 
for him. I handed the tickets to him. He 
lifted his lamp so that he could better see the 
tickets, and after looking at them well, ho 
said, "You are on the wrong train." My heart 
jumped up into my throat, for I thought that 
this was one of the schemes of the "city fel- 
lows" to rob a poor green man from the coun- 
try. I asked, "Is not this the train for Chi- 
cago?" He said, "Yes, it is;" and before he 
could say any more, I blurted out, "Then w^e 
are alright, for we are going to Chicago." 

He then said, "But you are not going to Chi- 
cago on these tickets," shaking his hand with 
the two tickets that I had given him. I asked, 
"What is the matter with the tickets?" 

He said, "This train is the Chicago and Al- 
ton train and your tickets are by the Illinois 
Central Railroad, and are not good on this 
road." This piece of information disturbed me 
greatly. I had not dreamed that there were two 
railroads going to Chicago, for down South, 
where I had come from, there was only one. 
This information simply took away all the 
sense I had, and I sat there in that train, 
dumbfounded, crushed, helpless and unable to 


say another word. The conductor looked at 
my brother and me in a pitying sort of way, 
waiting for us to speak, but as neither one 
said a word, he asked, ^'Well, what do you in- 
tend to do?'' 

I answered him like a little child about ten 
years old, by asking another question. I asked 
him what I should do? He said, ^^Do what you 
please, but do it quick.'' I asked him if we 
got off his train and went back to St. Louis, 
when would we get to Chicago? 

He said, ^^f it takes you as long to get away 
from St. Louis as it does to make up your mind 
now what you want to do, I do not think that 
you will ever get to Chicago." 

I asked him if I could pay him in cash and 
go on to Chicago on his train? He said, "Cer- 
tainly." How much? "Nine dollars each and 
twenty-five cents each, because you did not buy 
a ticket." I paid the money to him, and he 
passed on, but the incident, the worry, the 
self denunciation for my stupidity, kept me 
awake all night. 

The night was long and tiresome. It grew 
colder and colder as we proceeded further 
north and as the night passed away. 

About 3 o'clock in the morning, the fire in 
the stove burned low and the frequent opening 
of the car door to let the passengers in and 


out chilled the atmosphere in the car more 
and more. 

I got so cold I thought that the blood in my 
veins was turning to ice. We called the brake- 
man and asked him to please put some coal on 
the tire. He said, "The stove is full of coal 
now; this car is not so cold; if you think it is 
cold, get out doors at the next station for a 
few minutes.'^ No one in the car seemed will- 
ing to try the experiment. So we all sat still 
and shivered the rest of the night. 

We arrived in Chicago about 7 o'clock in the 
morning. When I got in the omnibus to ride 
up to a hotel, I never felt so cold in my life. 
I was dressed in the same clothes that I wore 
in North Carolina, my underclothes were half 
cotton, and my outer garments were light 
weight. I had on an extra sack coat that I 
put on, and my brother did the same; neither of 
us had an overcoat, such as is worn by all 
men in this northern country. 

The omnibus at last landed us at Brown's 
Hotel on State street. We got the name of 
this hotel from a Chicago man whom we met 
in St. Louis. When I got out of that omnibus 
I was hardly able to get into the hotel. My 
jaws were tired from shivering. 

My brother suggested that we go into the 
bar and get a drink of brandy or whiskey. F 


was so cold that I would have drank anything 
suggested in order to get warm. 

So we went in and called for whiskey cock- 
tails. I had drank so little in my life that I 
did not know what a whiskey cocktail was, 
my brother gave the order. The bar-keeper, 
one of them, there were seven behind the bar, 
fixed up the drinks and pushed them over to- 
ward us, looking at us with a benevolent ex- 
pression of inquiry, which asked very plainly, 
without using words, "I wonder where these 
srreen ones came from?'' 


We paid for our drinks and went to the 
hotel office, engaged our rooms and, after 
washing our faces, we went to breakfast. By 
this time I was beginning to thaw out, and I 
felt real comfortable. My brother did not com- 
plain, neither did I, but both of us realized 
that these experiences were entirely new. 

At the breakfast table the girl that waited 
on us brought us some oatmeal, the first that 1 
had ever seen served as food for man. We ate 
it, as we wanted to appear as if we were used 
to such a diet. I thought at the time that it 
was a funny time of the day to eat pudding, 
as it seemed to be to me, after we had added 
sugar and cream to it. We usually ate our 
dessert in the middle of the day, and after we 
had finished eating our dinner, but here we 
were started ofi" on dessert the first thing for 


breakfast. This was a big change in diet for 
two green country boys from the backwoods 
of North Carolina. 

We gradually got used to the manner of 
feeding the boarders, and as w^e were out can- 
vassing all day, every day, our appetites were 
something enormous. We never had indiges- 
tion; no matter what we ate, it agTeed with us, 
and we had no ground for complaint. We paid 
one dollar per day for board, and I have paid as 
much as three dollars per day on many oc- 
casions and did not get so good fare as at 
Brown's Hotel at one dollar. 

After we had finished our first breakfast 
at this hotel, we went out to map out our work. 
We went into a stationery store and bought 
a map of Chicago; with this map we could 
divide the territory so that we might canvass 
the city intelligently and thoroughly. After 
doing this, we both started out to see the 
many doctors in Chicago. There were about 
three thousand of them at that time. 

My first day's experience taught me many 

The first thing I learned was that I was 
not properly clothed, my clothes were too 
thin for such cold weather. My boots were 
single soled and with thin tops, with high 
heels. Walking on the hard streets blistered 
my feet. I was going into well heated rooms 


and out again into an atmosphere where the 
thermometer registered fifteen degrees be- 
low zero. Every time I made such a change, T 
thought the wind was blowing right through 
me. I suffered so, I knew that I must have 
more clothing, but I did not want to spend 
the money for clothes, for I was sure that I 
would need all that I had, and more, too, in 
my business. 

So, after much thought, I consented to spend 
enough to keep me from freezing and to make 
myself presentable when I went into a doc- 
tor's office. 

I went into a dry goods store and bought 
three-quarters of a yard of gray Rock Island 
kersey. I cut a hole in the middle of this 
piece of cloth large enough to put my head 
through. This I used as an extra shirt, put- 
ting it on under my white shirt. This put a 
thick cover over my chest and over my back. 
I bought some boots at a shoe store, wide and 
with low heels. 

I bought some carbolic acid and some borax 
at a drug store. I added water to the car- 
bolic acid and bathed my feet at night, and 
dusted the borax into my stockings in the 
morning. In this way I cured the blisters on 
my feet. The piece of thick cloth kept my 
body warm, so I was comfortable. 


The first morning that my brother, Cullen, 
and I started out canvassing Chicago, the ther- 
mometer registered fifteen degrees below zero. 
We had never seen or felt such frigid weather. 
I noticed that everybody was in a hurry, I 
could see many going along in a trot. Down 
in North Carolina, where I was brought up, 
I never saw so much energy. I remembered an 
observation made by a Mr. Richard Freeman, 
a drummer from Baltimore, who used to come 
to our town, Wilson, N. C. 

He asked the question, "What is the matter 
with you folks down here? You are the laziest 
people that I ever saw. Why don't you get a 
move on 3^ou and be somebody?" 

These questions made a deep impression on 
me, and I thought of them long after Mr. Free- 
man had left town. I knew that I was willing 
to work, though I felt that I was unable to do 
so. After much thought, I came to the con- 
clusion that it was not laziness in my case that 
kept me from work, but was sickness. I won- 
dered why it was that the Northern people had 
so much more energy than we people of the 
South. When I saw the people of Chicago 
trot, I said, "Oh, yes darn you, I have your 
secret; I know where your energy comes from. 
You have got to move or freeze to death." I 
was as good a trotter as any of them. 

One day I went to a doctor's office. I rang 


the door bell, an Irish servant girl came to 
the door; after looking me over well, she said, 
"What do you want?'' in a very short and im- 
pertinent manner. I said, in my sweetest 
tones, that "I wished to see the doctor." She 
snapped out again, "What do you want to see 
him about?" I said, "On business." She asked 
again, "What kind of business?" I answered, 
"Medical business." She asked again, "Are you 
sick?" I was warming up a little, so I answer- 
ed, "Yes, I am sick of you. When will the doctor 
be back?" This put her in a passion, and she 
answ^ered, "I don't think that he will ever be 
home for you." So I had to leave without see- 
ing the doctor. 

After I got away I got to thinking it all 
over. So I asked myself what was it about me 
that caused the girl to talk to me like that? 
After much thought, I solved the problem. I 
had a little bag in which I carried advertising 
matter and samples, and I was wearing a soft 
felt hat, pulled down well over my forehead, 
and I had on a well worn grey coat over my 
fall suit, which altogether gave me the appear- 
ance of a peddler, and I am sure that this is 
what she took me for. 

The next day I bought a high silk hat and 
a black overcoat. I had my beard trimmed 
to a Yan Dyke style, and after waiting a day 
or so, I went back to the same doctor's of- 


fice. I rang the bell and waited. At last my 
same girl came. I changed my voice some, and 
asked if the doctor was in. She did not rec- 
ognize me. She said in her sweetest voice, 
"No, he is not, but come right in and wait a 
few minutes, he will be in right away." So po- 
lite, so solicitous, so anxious to serve the doc- 
tor. She took me for a rich patient. So much 
for a silk hat and a long black overcoat. 

I wore a silk hat and stylish clothes as long 
as I canvassed, and I left off the silk hat as 
soon as I quit the road. 

Canvassing is a business requiring a special 
talent, I might say, many special talents. Suc- 
cess, brilliant, prolonged success, cannot come 
to a canvasser who is in ill health, for the 
work is laborious; it is hard, physical endur- 
ance that counts. A man who is unable to 
stand on his feet all day, walk all day, and 
keep going every day is handicapped. So it 
is a part of a canvasser's equipment to know 
enough of the laws of health and to be willing 
to obey them and does obey them, that gives to 
him one of the first requisites necessary to suc- 

Another very important part of a canvass- 
er's talents is his mentality. His mind must 
have had sufficient development for him to ex- 
press what he wishes to say in a simple way, 
but above all it must be intelligent to his 


The ability to express himself intelligently 
is only a part of his mental equipment. He 
must also be a good listener, and this requires 
another divine talent, namely, patience. 

No man who wants to do all of the talking in 
his interviews with men can succeed as a can- 
vasser. It is a curious fact, but nevertheless 
true, that some of the poorest talkers insist 
on being heard; on the other hand, some of 
the best talkers are able to sit still and listen 
to a man make a fool of himself. This is a 
beautiful exhibition of the divine talent al- 
luded to above. 

To sit still and listen to statements made, 
that you know to be untrue, waiting patiently 
for your time to speak, and when your time 
comes, if it ever comes, you are ready, and you 
do speak in a mild, apologetic manner, so as 
not to offend your man, you make your man 
see your point, so that you have accomplished 
what you went to see Him to do. Then, in 
this instance, you have had success. It is a 
part of your duty to help straighten out all 
of the crooked things in the world; but re- 
member this, you cannot straighten out all the 
crooked things in one day. 

Back of the divine talent, patience, are other 
divine talents, namely, meeknes, kindness and 
gentleness, and I might add, modesty and ami- 
ability. For a pugnacious, domineering, dicta- 


torial spirit will soon meet his match and in 
the cat-like controversy that follows, patience, 
with all the beautiful qualities back of it, are 
lost, and each one of these human volcanoes 
will go his way, if permitted to do so, thinking 
the other one an unmitigated fool and a 

A canvasser may have good health, mental 
capacity, using all wdth skill, so that his dis- 
cernment and judgment are sagaciously ap- 
lied, and discreetly speaking or keeping silent, 
avoiding all useless debates on religion and 
politics, so that a wise man may recognize a 
kindred spirit, yet these beautiful, essential, 
divine and humane developed qualities alone 
are insufficient to complete all the qualities 
needed to make a first-class successful can- 
vasser. These most aesthetic characters are 
essential and absolutely necessary in their 
place, but there are other qualities, more he- 
roic, more energetic, more persevering whicii 
put more enthusiasm and life into the work of 
the canvasser. These are the dynamos that 
keep one moving on to the next interview. 
These give gameness to the canvasser, so that 
he does not sit down and brood over his dis- 
appointment when some ill-bred man, w^hom 
he has tried to convince and get him in line 
for future business, has snubbed him, ignored 
him or insulted him. 


All of these troubles are sure to come to the 
canvasser. If the canvasser can only say to 
himself, *'If I get one customer out of every ten 
men, I see my fortune is made/' This thought 
is not intended to cut short any interview and 
hurry the canvasser on to the next man, but 
is intended as a consolation, and a balm to 
his wounded feelings. 

The talents that I have mentioned are not 
all that are necessary to make a successful can- 
vasser, but they are good and essential. I would 
mention a good memory as highly necessary 
to the canvasser, for if the canvasser will only 
remember the things said against his position 
as well as the things said in his favor, it gives 
him time to find a convincing as well as a re- 
spectful answer to all objections made to his 

A good canvasser calls up to mind in the 
evening all of the interviews of the day. He 
seeks for the blunders and their remedies, he 
keeps all the successful points of his position 
clear in his mind, so that he can use them 
at Avill. He studies the characters of men, that 
he may win them, without offending them. He 
studies his own character that he may cut out 
all that is weak and offensive, that he may add 
to it all that is discovered to be strong and at- 
tractive. He is a good general in his plan- 
ning, yet he is more than a soldier in his 


intentions, for the soldier plans to kill in order 
to accomplish his purposes, but the canvasser 
has no plans which include the killing of his 
fellow man. He intends and plans only good 
for his brothers. His success depends on the 
living of those that he interview's, and not on 
their death. The longer that they live and the 
more of the canvasser's products are used, the 
greater the success of the canvasser. 

With some such thoughts as the foregoing 
notes, I applied myself to the work that I had 
to do. 

I made many blunders, but I think I found 
them out as soon, or sooner, than others. 

Sometimes I would lose my temper and talk 
very ugly; if an apology would remedy the evil 
done, I would quickly make it. Twice I was so 
insulted I really wanted to fight, and invited 
my man out into the street for this purpose, 
but in each instance my man, though not hav- 
ing sense enough to treat a stranger with 
courtesy did have sense enough to keep out of a 
street fight. 

When I had time enough to cool off, I would 
see the ludicrous side of the encounter, and 
I would have a real good laugh over it. A 
laugh is always good medicine for wounded 
feelings. If I could have made the other man 
laugh I would not have been insulted. It is 
the too serious-minded, the brooding ones, who 


get angry and insult you. If you can make him 
laugh, or even keep him in a good humor, you 
are safe from insult or offensive treatment. 
Such an undertaking, to be applied to some 
men, is a mighty big job, but it is worth it, 
for when you have once made a friend, it is 
much easier to keep him. 

The qualities essential to success as a can- 
vasser that I have enumerated, are but a small 
part of the talents really necessary. These 
talents may be enumerated and described more 
or less accurately, but the real, genuine suc- 
cess is achieved by the man, the person, the in- 
dividual, back of these talents. He being an 
individual, is indescribable. He it is who has 
the faith to start on the road to success or 
failure. He it is who has the perseverance 
to continue His work in the face of all ob- 
stacles. He it is who cannot be turned aside 
from the plans made by himself. He cannot 
be side-tracked and left there alone inactive, 
while the main part of the train is on the 
through line, moving on to other scenes and 
pastures green. 

He it is who believes in himself and in his 
cause, though other men may doubt him and 
deride him. He it is "who holds on when there 
is nothing in him but the will which says" to 
him to hold on. 

He it is who trusts, works, hopes and moves 


on, when others around him, falters, hesitates 
and stands still. 

He it is who values all truth above riches, 
above comfort, above worldly success, above 
life, above death. 

^^It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore 
and see the ships tossed upon the sea; a pleas- 
ure to stand in the window of a castle and see 
a battle and the adventures thereof below; but 
no pleasure is comparable to standing upon the 
vantage ground of truth'' (a hill not to be com- 
manded, and where the air is always clear and 
serene) "and see the errors, and wanderings, 
and mists, and tempests in the vale below. 

"So always that this prospect be with pity, 
and not with swelling pride. Certainly it is 
heaven upon earth to have a man's mind move 
in charity, rest in Providence, and turn upon 
the poles of truth." 

It is the honor in his nature that prompts 
man to honest, square faithful business deal- 
ings. A falsehood mixed with truth may make 
it apparently work better, like alloy in gold, 
but it is not so valuable when so debased. 
There is no vice that will so humiliate and 
cover with shame a man who thinks, acts and 
lives a lie. Falsehood can live only in the dark, 
light and truth will come again and destroy it. 

In trying to give to you my ideas of what a 
canvasser ought to be, and is to some extent, 


you may note that his character . has grown 
from an ordinary solicitor, one who asks favors 
of the public, to one whose life and purposes 
include the good of others as well as himself. 
Being good himself in his own life, he is in- 
clined to be good to others. Of all the vir- 
tues and beauties of the mind, goodness is the 
most like my conception of God. Without it, 
or some manifestations of it, man is but a poor 
apology of what he ought to be. Man may be 
deceived about the power that he possesses, 
and fail when he attempts to apply it, he may 
be proud and puffed up with what he knows 
more than others, but there can be no excuse 
of goodness or charity. This goodness that I 
allude to is something very much alive, it is not 
that goodness, where the man is "so good that 
he is good for nothing." 

One may be good in a negative way, I mean 
to say, inoffensive, and become the prey of 
those who are "tyrannical and unjust." The 
purpose of goodness should not be to destroy 
the source of it. We should seek to do good 
to other men, but there is no valid reason why 
we should become victims to their capricious 

Pearls are of little service to swine, nor is 
a diamond food for a chicken in the barnyard. 
Corn would be more appreciated by either. 

It is true that God sends "His rains upon 


the just and unjust" alike; but it is not true 
that He gives virtue, goodness, wealth and 
honor to all men equally. These special bene- 
fits can only be attained by the effort of the 
man who achieves them, the talent or capacity 
to do so being a gift of God. 

This goodness shows itself in various ways. 
It is courteous to strangers, recognizing him 
as a brother. It is compassionate toward 
those in affliction. It forgives offenses. It is 
above injuries. It is ever grateful to God 
for all benefits received. It values men's 
friendships and their minds above their money 
and other property. It is willing, and often 
does give up its all for the good of others, 
and this is from the divine life within. 

My brother and I stuck to our self imposed 
tasks. He was not so adjustable as I was, and 
was not so successful as a canvasser, but he 
made a good canvasser, and our trip to all 
the cities of the United States with more than 
ten thousand population, started up a good 
trade on our goods. We made new customers 
everywhere that we went. 

The first year (1876) that we went out can- 
vassing we visited only the largest cities. We 
went from Chicago to Milwaukee, Detroit, 
Cleveland, Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, Erie, 
Pa., Albany, New York City, Boston, Philadel- 
phia, Baltimore, Washington, D. C, Harris- 


burg, Pittsburg, Columbus, Indianapolis, Cin- 
cinnati, Louisville, Evansville, Frankfort, 
Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta, Montgomery, 
New Orleans, Little Rock, Ark., Kansas City, 
Omaha, Des Moines, St. Paul, Minneapolis, 
Duluth, Lincoln, Denver, Sacramento, San 
Francisco and Los Angeles. 

After this we canvassed all the good towns 
in all the Central and Eastern States, and 
later w^e sent other canvassers through the 
Southern States and Western States. 

As the years passed by our business grew, 
by careful expenditure of funds in advertising 
we kept growing. 

We worked and canvassed, putting out 
samples as gifts to the physicians, with liter- 
ature describing what the remedy was intend- 
ed to be, and what it was intended to do. In 
six months we were selling goods in gross 
lots. In one year we were making a little 



In 1884 we opened up a business in Eng- 
land and France, sending over there Mr. Rich- 
ard E. Blount, of Wilson, N. C, who had been 
our laboratory man for some years. Our busi- 
ness prospered there also. 

In 1890 we extended our business into Ger- 
many, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Denmark, 
Sweden and Holland and these branches also 

In the same year we established our agency 
in Canada and later in Mexico and Brazil. 

In 1908, we started business in India, Japan 
and China, and all these agencies are growing. 
So if the business that I have given my life 
to, is properly cared for after I am dead, my 
one daughter will never lack for bread and 
my two grandchildren will have plenty. 

My wife came out to St. Louis first in May, 
1878. Our daughter, Helen, was then going 
on three months old. Miss Frances Wood came 
with us as cook and companion. We made our 
first home at 1338 North Jefferson avenue. We 
paid twnty-tw^o dollars and fifty cents per 
month rent. In 1880 we moved to 3034 Easton 
avenue, rent $50.00 per month. 


In 1882 Mrs. Lee came out to visit us. telie 
was well pleased with what I had done, and 
also pleased to know that we lived so well. 

She said that it was reported down in North 
Carolina that I was in the saloon business and 
she was glad to learn that it was not true. 

The same year we moved to 2819 Locust 
street in a large commodious house. The rent 
of this house was one hundred and twenty- 
five dollars per month. 

We lived there one year. We had a nice 
stable and a brougham and a buggy and two 
pair of horses and went driving every after- 

One day w^e were driving out on Marcus ave- 
nue and saw a very pretty old rock house 
with about three acres around it. 

My wife said, "How I would like to live 
there; it would be so fine for Nell,'' as we called 
our daughter. I took the name of the real 
estate men who had it for rent. He surprised 
me when he said the rent was thirty-five dol- 
lars per month if I would lease it for three 
years. I reported on it and my wife said, "Go 
and get it before some one else does.'' 

So I leased it for three years. 

My brother-in-law, Kev. Dr. Joseph H. Foy, 
with my sister, Katie, with two daughters and 
my mother, came to St. Louis in 1877. 


As soon as my wife came out in 1878, my 
mother came to live with me. We w^ere all 
very happy together, but in 1883, my brother 
Cullen, w^ho w^as then a bachelor, rented a 
house at 3008 Locust street and invited my 
sister, Mrs. Jos. H. Foy, and mother to live 
with him. 

After they left us, we no longer needed such 
a big house as 2819 Locust street and this is 
w^hy my wife wanted a smaller house, and the 
big yard for our daughter to play in. We lived 
on Marcus avenue for eighteen months. My 
poor wife was stricken w4th pelvic celulitis, 
which was very painful. Our family doctor, 
Larew, had so much work for his horse to do 
that his horse was hardly able to stand these 
long trips in addition to all his city work. So 
I volunteered to furnish him an extra horse 
for this purpose, which Dr. Larew accepted. 
For three months my wife suffered, remain- 
ing in bed all the time and being given mor- 
phine every day to relieve her intense suffer- 
ing. At the end of three months my wife was 
still in a critical condition and suffering. 

One day Dr. Larew called me aside as he 
went out and told me that my wife was not 
improving and if I wanted another doctor in 
consultation, I might call one in. He said, 
"I have done all that I know how to do; and 


I would rather have another doctor to share 
the responsibility." I asked him did he know 
another doctor that he thought knew more 
about such a case than he did. He said there 
was a Dr. Barrett who had a great reputation 
in such cases, and he thought Dr. Barrett'^ 
advice would be worth having. So the next 
dav he brought Dr. Barrett out' with him. 

Dr. Barrett took right hold of the case 
and after making a thorough examination 
called Dr. Larew and myself into the 
other room. I report what he said from mem- 
ory. He said, "Mr. Battle, as you are in the 
medical line, I treat you as a doctor." 

He turned to Dr. Larew and said, "You have 
treated the case so far very well, the pelvic 
celulitis has subsided, but your patient is run 
down and a nervous wreck; get her out of bed 
as soon as you can, for when you have had as 
many patients as I have had go to bed and 
stay there, you will know the value of this 

"Stop the morphine as soon as possible. You 
will have lots of trouble and lots of tears, but 
stop it. There are two ways, one is to reduce 
the dose every day until you get the dose down 
to one-thirty-second of a grain a day; this is 
simply prolonging the misery, like cutting off 
the monkey's tail one inch at a time. 


"The second plan is to cut off at once. I be- 
lieve there is less suffering this way. The 
agony is more acute for a few days, but the 
patient gets over it quicker. You, doctor, must 
be the judge. 

"One more piece of advice, and I am through. 

"Mrs. Battle is very weak and growing weak- 
er every day for lack of exercise. She is now 
too weak to take exercise. You must give her 
exercise, passive exercise, give her massages, 
either get somebody w^ho understands it or do 
it yourself." I asked him to show me what he 

He said, "Pull off your coat and vest and 
get on the bed with your patient and begin 
with the left arm, take her hand in your left 
hand and with your right hand pass from her 
shoulder with a slight pressure on the naked 
skin toward her hand. Repeat this until you 
see a little pink color come into the arm. Cover 
every side of her left arm with your chaffing. 

"Second, open and shut her left hand many 
times, pulling gently the fingers, like milking 
a cow. 

"Third, start at the left shoulder with your 
left hand under her arm and the right above, 
now roll the muscles on the bone, not hard 
enough to give pain, but enough to make it 


uncomfortable. This stirs up the circulation 
of the blood deeper than the surface chafing. 

"Fourth, do the same with the right arm and 
both of the legs. It is harder work on the 
legs, for they are larger; let the process ex- 
tend to the body in every instance. 

"Fifth, let your patient lie on her stomach. 
You begin at the neck. After kneading this 
with enough pressure to feel the bones in the 
neck, you may proceed down the spinal cord, 
follow the vertebrae down the spine, kneading, 
and with a strong pressure pushing your hands, 
the balls of your thumbs away from the spine. 
This helps the circulation all up and down the 
back. A warning I give you, don't be in a 
hurry, don't puff and blow like it was hard 
work. Don't get to sweating too much. Take 
your time. Don't wear out your patient, put 
five minutes on each limb twice a day to be 
gin with, the same time may be spent on the 
neck and back. Gradually increase the time 
you spend on each limb, the neck and back till 
you are putting in fifteen minutes on each one. 
This would make one hour and a half. You 
should reach this maximum in two weeks, by 
that time your patient will be strong enough 
to get up and walk and also recovered to some 
extent from the morphine." 


He said further, ^'It will be at least six 
weeks before she will get off the morphine so 
that she will not miss if 

He said, ''The breast and belly should be 
kneaded to complete the treatment, but as 
Mrs. Battle had been so sore, these parts must 
be omitted from the treatment." 

I quit business and stayed home, devoting my 
time to my wife. I became the masseur. I 
did as near as the doctor had told me as I 
could. I gave the exercise midly and patiently 
at first, and as my wife grew stronger, I in- 
creased the pressure and lengthened the time. 
My wife grew stronger and stronger each day, 
but cutting off the morphine made her so nerv- 
ous and filled her so full of aches and pains 
that she wished that she w^ere dead. She 
could not sleep one minute night or day, at last 
from pure exhaustion she w^ould doze a few 
minutes at the time. She w^ould throw her 
arms and hands up against the head board of 
the bed until they had many bruises. She 
would throw her legs against the wall and 
bruise them. So I padded the head of the bed 
with pillows and pulled the bed from the wall. 
My wife was delirious off and on for three 
weeks, but at last, with lots of patience and 
perseverance, we were rewarded by seeing our 
dear patient come back to the world of good 


sense and show decided signs of increased 
strength and appetite. Without any assist- 
ance she got out of bed and walked across the 
room. It is certainly amazing what wonder- 
ful recuperating powers can be and are given 
to another by and through what we call mas- 
sage. If you, reader, have an invalid, do what 
I have told you that I did, and watch the re- 
sults. You will be astonished. 

At last my wife was well and strong again 
but she said, "I have enough of the country, 
let us move back to town again.'^ So we look- 
ed for a man to sublease our house to, found 
him, and in one more month we were settled 
at 3034 Lucas avenue. We lived at this place 
for a part of 1885 and all of 1886. 

My sister, Mrs. Foy, moved to Omaha, Neb., 
and my mother came back to live with me. 

Just before Christmas, 1886, I bought the 
house numbered 2813 Lucas avenue, and moved 
into it at once. 

My poor mother did not live long to enjoy 
our own new home. She was taken with pneu- 
monia and died in a few days on January 4, 
1887. It is a curious thing to note that her 
own sister, Henrietta, died in Wake Forest, 
N. C, just three days before my mother. So 
these two dear sisters who were so devoted to 


each other, and had been separated so long, 
were joined together through death without 
either one knowing that the other was sick. 

A letter came announcing the death of my 
Aunt Henrietta, but my mother was too far 
gone for us to give her the news. 

We lived at this house until 1896, w^hen we 
traded it off for our present home at 4463 Lin- 
dell Boulevard. This has been our home for 
almost fifeen years. It is here that we have 
had our greatest joys and our greatest sor- 
rows; the brightest days and the blackest 
nights. It is here our lovely daughter, after 
graduating at the Reed School in New York, 
and a trip to Europe with her mother and 
I, came back to this new, elegant home, to 
gather around her a number of friends to make 
her life a round of pleasures and joys; it was 
here she met her future husband. It was here 
her two children were born. It was here that 
she spent so many weary days, when she was 
confined to her bed as an invalid, and could 
hardly stand on her feet for a few minutes at 
a time. 

It was here that she came back to health and 
strength again. 

It is here that my dear wife and I have had 
our greatest luxuries; where we have had all 
that wealth could give us. It is here that we 


have entertained our many friends and rela- 
tives, giving to them without stint all the 
pleasures of a city life. It is here that we have 
seen four Presidents pass our door, Mr. Cleve- 
land, Mr. McKinley, Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. 

It is here that we saw all the parades dur- 
ing the World's Fair in 1903 and 1904.. 

It was here in our block that we saw the 
greatest- gathering of Roman Catholic Card- 
inals, Archbishops, Bishops, Prelates and Lay- 
men that has probably ever been gotten to- 
gether in America. The occasion was the lay 
ing of the corner stone of the three-million-dol- 
lar cathedral on the eastern corner of the 

It was from this house that my poor broth- 
er, Cullen, was buried. 

It may be from this house that my wife and 
I will take our last ride on earth. 

And, may we "so live that when our sum- 
mons comes to join that innumerable caravan 
which moves to that mysterious realm where 
each one shall take his chamber in the silent 
halls of death, that we will go, not like the 
quarry-slave at night scourged to his dungeon, 
but sustained and soothed by an unfaltering 
trust, we will approach our graves like one 
who wraps the drapery of his couch about him 
and lies down to pleasant dreams.'' 


If my success has given to me a life, "well 
lived, filled with joy and love, if I have had 
the trust of pure women and the love of lit- 
tle children," if I have finished the task my 
God has assigned to me and "filled my niche'' 
and accomplished the good that I purposed to 
do; if I "have looked for the best in others and 
gave the best that I had, whether in an im- 
proved poppy, a perfect poem or a rescued soul;" 
if I have never failed to appreciate earth's 
beauty, nor failed to express it, if my "life has 
been an inspiration" to others, and "my mem- 
ory shall be a benediction" to those who come 
after me; then I shall not have lived in vain. 

With love to God, the Father, and love to 
all His Sons, and love to His Holy Spirit, and 
love to all of His creatures, 

I am, your obedient servant, 



This book must r 
be taken from tl 
Library building. 


Form No. 471