A letter descriptive of early St. Joseph county which pays tribute to the settlers, was written from his office in the General Land Office, washington, by Allen Goodbridge. A portion of the letter follows:
"St. Joseph rivaled in its beauty the farfamed Arcadia and the Hesperides where grew the golden apples .. I have never forgotten the sensations aroused by its scenery on my first visit .. in answer to an invitation from my schoolmate and friend, the late Governor John S. Berry, to visit his home at Constantine .. I mounted an Indian pony with the aid my crutch .. on a latter day of September. There was nothing very attractive until .. Prairie Ronde .. burst upon the view .. it's beauty struck me with wonder, surprise, delight .. After passing the prairie and reaching the oak openings I saw for the first time in my life a herd of deer feeding in their own pasture. I counted twenty before they discovered me, but directly every head was erect and away they scampered like the wind.
"The beautiful plain around Three Rivers, ten or twelve miles, was a mat of flowers. I reached Mr. Moore's tavern, exhausted, ill. Mr. Moore was away from home and that excellent woman, his wife, helped me to dismount and ninistered most kindly to my comfort while under their roof. At ten o'clock the next morning, I forded the St. Joseph river. At every turn new and beautiful scenes attracted my attention. At Eschol, I saw a floating island in the mill pond. It was covered with grass and bushes and in the center a goodly sized tree. I passed the farms of Deacon Howard and my friend Norman Royce. At last, fatigued, I reached the home of Mr. Berry and his kind hearted wife. They were boarding at the tavern kept by Hunt. In the pleasant days that followed , I met Judge Meek, W. T. House, John G. Cathcart, Elias Swan .. and others.
"In 1840, as deputy marshall, I assisted in taking the census and for ten years more was in constant associaton with the men and women, early settlers of the county. I knew them all and as a class, they were intelligent, homest, perservering, industrious and frugal men and women; always ready to help the needy and to promote any enterprise the public interests seemed to require......We honor and respect their memory."
Going West in the Forties
In contrast to the pioneers of the "thirties" who sought new homes for themselves and families, many of those who
ST. JOSEPH IN HOMESPUN
came in the "forties" were young men, actuated by a love of adventure. One such boy occasioned the "inciting moment" of a domestic drama which had far reaching results for the Silliman family. Samuel Silliman's father, tall, straight, stern, ruled his several six foot sons with Scotch Presbyterian piety, intermixed with a parental authority inherited from a line of Dutch patroons; Samuel, rollicking, daring, good natured, unfortunately was given to the embellishment of his vobabulary with emphatic words, whose use was strictly forbidden by his father.
It so happened on day that Samuel, plowing in the meadow with oxen that would neither "gee" nor "haw", let his inherited Irish temper overcome Scottish discretion, and with a volley of energizing phrases, put to rout the whole Decalog of the Dutch. Picture his consternation as he found his irate father beside him, who gave Samuel his choice, forthwith to the thrashing or leave home. Twenty years old, six feet four in height! Of course he left home.
At first his letters to his mother were very brief, very dignified in composition; but soon the Spirit of Adventure, disguised as one Billy Morrison, awakened the restlessness of his pioneer blood and the two boys started west to Michigan. His letters of 1845 cover the trip. Arrived in St. Joseph county, he urges the family to migrate.
We read: .. "Then we arrived in White Pigeon, in Michigan. Is is a smart little place. We were at the Huff's tow days. White Pigeon is on the cash systen, has a hard set of shavers that are not up to the catechism on the Sabbath. Some swear; but you can buy goods as cheaply as you can in Milton. Rents are high. A story and a half house rents for fifty to sixty dollars a year. If you should come you might settle here, but tell father not my will but his be done.
"From White Pigeon we went down the St. Joseph river, which is a beautiful stream, navigable for light craft for 150 miles. Produce is arked down from Oporto and Three Rivers. It cost me $20 to come this far and if one was stingy to himself he could make it on $18.
"Girls have an easy time here. Men carry in the wood and water and even do the milking. Big girls get $1.50 a week and do not do anything but please the children. Fetch some along, Mother - some of the neighbor girls. One anyway.
From LaPorte, Indiana, Samuel wrote: "St. Joseph is the best county I have seen in my travels. I had rather live in its woods than any place. Between Three Rivers and Centreville, it has the best oak openings and too, a fair decentish sort of people.
"Daddy White says to tell you he raised 6,000 bushels of wheat last year and the market wasn't over ten miles away.
"Mother, by all means bring hop yeast along and bake bread along the way or its salt risen' for you, - a half sour stuff that assaults your nose and insults your taster." Won't nowise be held responsible for the boys if it strikes 'um unawares. Keep up your courage, Mother. If you come, money wouldn't hire you to return. Wish I were back to help you pack. Make the boys do the work. You will have fine times coming and when you get here, a cozy little home to welcome you. Not the old stone house, of course, but three rooms and a garret, and I am figgering on hooks on which to hang the boys outside."
The spirit of western hospitality is shown in a letter to the family written hospitality is shown in a letter to the family written by Samuel Ludwig, of Park, who wrote inviting the whole party, sixteen in number, to "put up" with him until they could find a place. The Silliman family left White Deer Valley, Pennsylvania, in 1847 and were four weeks in covered wagons on the way. The odd diary kept by the father, Alexander Silliman, includes even the prescriptions given by the family doctor, anticipating all the ills to which the flesh is heir. We do not know whether these directions were the cause or cure for conditions mentioned in a letter by Thomas Silliman, the oldest son.
"We are in the Black Swamp. Father has the pleurisy, was bled, is better; Mother, Mary Jane and Arthur are having chills; Brady has one every other day. James is keeping up on Jane's alterative."
Eventually the family arrived and settled on the old Buckhorn road. None are left of the group who came from the old stone house in the White Deer valley, but in the old chaise trunk, which came with them, are the overland records and the letters, so carefully treasured by the mother of Samuel, the big rollicking, funloving, pioneer boy.
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