In the autumn before I was nine, I was sent to some lady tailoresses about one and a half miles to have a coat cut from cloth finished at my fathers and uncle's clothing works. These ladies names were Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake. After I had obtained an entrance with my package to their apartment, Miss Bryant asked me, "Whose boy are you?" I answered Hiram Hurlburt's boy. Then I was going to say something, but Miss Bryant pointing her finger at me, said "You will wait." Then she said, "Your mother was a Bullard, she came from Athol, Mass. Now what did you wish to say?" Then I held my tongue, Mother wished me to ask you, if I might dig some sweet flag root on your ground? Miss Bryant said yes. But bring me a piece, measuring on her hand five or six inches long. I dug the root, which was milder in taste than usually found, not so pungent. When I gave the long piece to Miss Bryant she remarked, "That I was the first boy that had ever asked permission to dig roots there, they come and dug as they had a mind to".
Miss Bryant was a short woman, her counter to cut on was quite high for her, but she had a foot stove to put charcoal in for comfort to her feet, and the article was double length so she could step off from over the coal division. The handles to her shears were wound with some dark material, which made me suppose, she used them a great deal. I was ordered there two or three times, and noticed Miss Bryant was ???e man, this I thought was perfectly proper, as Miss Bryant had all the advisory art of all business. Afterwards I heard it mentioned as if Miss Bryant and Miss Drake were married to each other. I always heard they got along pleasantly together. But after Miss Bryants death, Miss Drake went to live in her fathers house, near Beldens Falls, a brother-in-law carried on the place, and it was reported she made it very hard for that brother-in-law. "Fortes Shaw".
I now understand this Miss Charity Bryant was a liberal contributer to the Congregationalist Church, at the Silas Wright monument in Weybridge, and was Aunt to Wm Cullen Bryant the poet, who came twice to visit her.
Above the falls on Otter Creek in Quaker Village was a pond raised by two dams as there is a rocky island that divides the stream, causes the east section to fill up with the waste that comes down the creek. This winter I was nine years old. But first let me say that the spring before I had given me a fishing rig, and fished over the bank by a butternut tree for pickerel; and after much anxiety lost my hook and bait, of course, the bait were small fish I caught at the "Beave Brook" a mile away from home. Then a man "Otis Bean" that worked for my father gave me a stronger one with a chain attached. I was now sure of getting the fish, for father had said, the way I lost my hook was, that it got caught on a root or some flood wood lying on the bottom; But I was sure of having a bite. While patiently waiting the outcome of this new rigging the bite came, and I like to lost my pole, first one way, then the other the large fish capered around, but finally when I thought he would pull the pole from my hands the line parted near the chain, upon looking I was wholly ruined for fishing, I did not wish to say much about it, for I remembered fathers reason for looing my hook.
To continue a fish story; The dams in the falls was at the height so the water in the section that filled up with dirt in the freshets, would be about two to three feet in depth. It was the first of cold weather and the ice was about two inches thick, I was on skates that I made by taking a bit of three fourths of an inch birch board that would not split easily, sawing on one side a channel 3/8 of an inch deep, then taking an old barrel hoop of iron, and fitting by filing and grinding, then inserting in this groove, then by putting holes so to use strings, like wooden skates used, I could make considerable headway. As I was crossing the ice I looked through the clear body of water and saw as I supposed him, a round stick of wood, like flood wood, as there was more or less of these chunks lying on the bed of the pond. To make the boys come out to where I was; I hollered to come and see this big fish, and while they were coming I looked again when I saw the fins move. The I skated with all my strength to get an axe we had that morning to break the ice for the cow to drink, then struck on the ice just over the fish's head. Away he went, but was easily followed. The water was perhaps from 18 to 30 inches deep; and wherever the fish went in this three fourths of an acre, there was a streak of roil, to track him by. Finally, after several strokes over his head he turned head down and tail up to the ice. A few blows with the axe, and he was taken out gasping on the ice. As he lay there opening and closing his mouth, one youngster (Sam May mentioned din another chapter) stuck his boot into the fish's mouth. The fish seemed to think there was something to live for, and so closed his jaws upon the boot, the teeth going through the upper leather and stocking to the bare foot. We at once got his foot out leaving stocking and boot in the pickerel's mouth. The bare foot looked as if the cat has scratched the top of it. We discovered my fish hook and chain of the season before in the outer cartilage. This hooks and chain had kept along with him in his travels in the pond without any apperant detriment to good living, as he appeared in perfect health weighing on the home steely yards ten pounds and eleven ounces.
(The full diary will be located here when complete.)