The Victories of the Flowers, by C.S. Harrison, 1906

“How precious are thy thoughts to me, Oh God.”

The unfolding of the blossom is a revelation of the precious thoughts of God. I am overwhelmed at times with the thought that God has been forgotten in our homes and in our land. In the early days, Minnesota was a glorious garden of flowers and all the air was laden with the breath of their smiles. Man turned His flower gardens into wheat fields, but it is too bad they did not remember what He can do for them. Flowers are His songs unsung, silent poems, eloquent with His praise.

How many battles have been lost in our great cities when there were only dingy walls instead of God’s green fields.

A friend of mine had charge of the railroad gardens of one line entering one of the neglected portions of Boston. The directors said “You need not try anything in the city limits. The hoodlum’s will tear them up as soon as you plant them.”

“Leave that to me,” he said, “There is a fine piece of ground and I want to show you what I can do with it.” He commenced work and the children of the slums gathered around him, boys and girls in dirt and rags.

He asked, “Have any of you seen the Boston gardens on the other side of the city?” Some of them had and gave glowing descriptions of their beauty.

“Now,” said he, “You boys and girls haven’t had fair play. They have put the flower gardens on the other side of the city and now l am going to plant some for you.” The little fellows were anxious to take hold and help.

“Now when the the flowers blossom, you must not touch them, for they are for everybody, and if you pick a flower it will be robbing the rest and it won’t be fair.” There were hundreds of plants left over and he distributed them. Tin cans were hunted up and filled with dirt and girls and boys took them home. And there were signs of improvement right along. A poor woman in her poverty and want sat in her dingy rooms in a great city. She was sick and depressed. A kind girl, one of God’s sunbeams, which He sometimes sends into the darkness, visited her and diagnosed the case. Next day she brought in two pots of roses in full bloom. Their beauty and fragrance were as ministers of light. How she loved them and cared for them, and from that day on she began to improve.

Sometimes the soul gets sick and needs feeding. Often on the farm there will be abundant food for the palate and stomach. Many a well fed woman has a great longing for something beautiful which will feed the higher nature, and that is why this love of the lovely is implanted in our souls down here. It is not safe to starve the best that is in us.

Sewing in School, by Teacher Mary L. Murphy; 1913

Practical education seems to be the cry of the people, especially in rural schools where only a small per cent of the children ever go beyond the eighth grade and of those who go through high school still fewer go beyond.With that thought in mind I aim to teach sewing two Friday afternoons a month. I plan the sewing and do the cutting and either do the basting or show the children how to do it.

The girls very readily took up with the sewing plan, but at first the boys thought it would be very queer for them. If it is possible, the boys work at carpentry.

We talked of things that boys and girls could easily make and each child selected his article, the material for which the parents gladly furnished.

The various articles which have been made so far this term are:

Pincushions, two boys, four girls.
Sofa pillow in cross stitch, one boy.
Sofa pillow, crash, fringe edge with initials, one boy; two girls.
Fancy-work aprons: three girls
Handkerchiefs: two girls.
Dresser scarfs: three girls.
Towels, hemming and monogram; two boys; two girls.
Kitchen aprons, cross stitch; two boys.

There are fourteen pupils in my school and everyone, even the smallest, has finished at least one piece and all take an interest in the work.

 

When there is any machine sewing to be done, as with the kitchen aprons, the mother is asked to do that at home. We use two rows of cross stitch to hold the hem down and have some simple design worked above that on aprons.

 

The children can easily be told where and how to begin work. Children will to do ripping in many cases but will be more careful the next time and they usually do it cheerfully when they see the difference in the right and wrong way.

I use my own original designs when anything is to be monogrammed or embroidered.

The parents are very much in favor of this work. They say, for the girls especially, that they are taking an interest in sewing which they never before showed. Those that hated it, are now liking it. There is no lack of interest on the boys’ part, for they have asked to be allowed to take sewing home to work on, the boys can make useful things.

Sewing for the wee folks requires more planning and I sometimes have them work at other things as color work, paper cutting, etc.

Some of the work begun at school is finished at home but even if it is not done exactly right it stimulates the child to greater effort and in time he will learn the difference between good and poor work.

It is best to plan things as simple as possible, for children from 6 to 12 years old are not very persevering and well enough instructed in the art of needle craft to do difficult work.

Pioneer Life in Kansas, by Mary Barrett, 1912, Part 10

Oh, joy! the man–a white man, too–had seen her and was waving back at her!

All this the little tot told the older sister who was vainly trying to hide in the short buffalo grass, but the sister would not believe that help was really at hand, but lay there face downward, overcome with fear.

The brave, blue-capped soldier swooped down upon them and leaping from his horse gathered the little tot who had stood up so bravely that he might see her in his arms, at the same time catching sight of the frightened child lying on the ground.

“Both here, thank God!” the rescuer exclaimed and raising the now nearly exhausted children to the horse’s back, he leaped on behind. Encircling each in a strong arm, he bore them gently into the fort and laid them more dead than alive in the father’s arms!

The father sobbed aloud for joy, kissed the sunblistered hands and faces of his rescued darlings and chafed their little feet, now sore and bleeding from the long tramp through the dry buffalo grass.

Women, the wives of the officers, gathered round the little ones and ministered kindly to their needs.

The happy father and kind neighbors would have given the waifs all they wanted to eat, which at the time would have meant certain death, but not so with the kind nurses who had taken charge.

The children were first bathed, dressed comfortably and put to bed, then tea was made, a few crackers crumbled in and at stated intervals a teaspoonful of this was given. A slim diet indeed, it seemed to the starving children, yet this was the only safe course to pursue.

It was many days before the children were strong enough to be trusted in the hands of the men to be taken home, but finally the start was made, much to the relief of the anxious father and the men who had come with him.

No word had been sent to the waiting ones at home. It was not thought safe to send even a part of the men back with word, as it might require all the posse to make a safe journey back from the fort.

So while the anxious ones waited at the fort more anxious ones waited at home! Days came and went, nights passed and no message came to relieve the mind of the almost crazed mother; if she could only know, could only know!

The neighbors did all they cold to comfort her, but their own hearts were almost broken too, for were not their husbands on the chase who knew what might have been their fate?

The last thing at night and the first thing in the morning those waiting souls did, was to strain their eyes westward toward the setting sun in the hope of catching sight of the returning posse!

The journey from the fort home was of necessity made very slowly on account of the convalescent state of the children but at last it was done, the little ones again lay safe in the mother’s arms and all rejoiced over the safe return of the dear ones.

I was not been able to trace, Mary Barrett, the author of this article, but I have been able to discover the Bell family that she spoke about. The father, Aaron, was born in Illinois in 1829, and married, Nancy, when she was only sixteen years old. The girls, Margaret and Sarah, who were taken by the Indians were the couple’s third and fourth of their eventual eleven children. Margaret the elder, married, had two children and passed away at the age of 67. Sarah, the brave little five year old, married at 22, had one daughter and passed away when she was 26 years old.

Pioneer Life in Kansas, by Mary Barrett, 1912, Part 9

After quenching their thirst and resting awhile, they again started on their ceaseless search for “home.” The second night they slept under a lone tree. In the night a hoot owl began his hoarse cry in the branches above and the little wanderers, wakened out a sound slumber, crouched close together in fear, till the coming of day, expecting every minute that an Indian would jump down from the tree and scalp them!

However, when day began to break and a huge bird stretched his neck and flopped his wings and soared out of the tree and away, away, the little girls forgetting for a time their sorry plight, laughed heartily at their being “scared all night at a bird!”

With the coming of daylight the now almost famished and exhausted children started on again in their fruitless search for home. On and on they went across the unknown country, never knowing where nor in what direction, hoping that the rise of the next hill would surely bring them in sight of home!

The third night they came across a dugout which had just been vacated. The children never knew whether the late occupant just left or had been killed by the Indians.

There was bread and meat and cooked beans in the box cupboard and the poor starving children were afraid to eat it! They were afraid the Indians had killed the occupant and poisoned the food so with plenty at hand to appease their hunger, they, with stronger will power than is often found in children of such tender age, refrained from eating and laying themselves down on the bunk the dugout contained, they slept for the first time in many nights with a roof over their heads.

The next morning they were sorely tempted to eat, but being afraid they forbore and started out again the morning of the fourth day, having taken no food at all and only that one drink of dirty water!

All day they tramped and rested, rested and tramped, the hunger growing more intense each minute and the thirst, the awful, maddening thirst, making it hard for them to talk.

In the late afternoon of the fourth day of their tramp, the wanderers looked away across the prairie and saw a moving object. At first they could not tell whether it was a buffalo, a wolf, or what it was. But the object, whatever it might be, was moving and coming in their direction!

Soon they could make out that it was a man on horseback and he was galloping like mad, toward them.

“Oh, it’s an Indian!” gasped the oldest child, “let’s hide quick!” “No,” said the tot of five summers, “I ain’t goin’ to hide, I b’lieve its a soldier huntin’ us, an’ I’m goin’ to stand up where he can see me!”

The older child dropped flat in the grass in an effort to hide but the younger one stood bravely up and waved her tiny hand!