I think I was eleven years old when my father allowed me to take his smooth-bore rifle gun to hunt with. It was made for him by a gunsmith named Ira Call at Woodstock, VT. Ira Call a brother of Joe Call the strong man, who could take a crowbar across his knee and break it. Said to have taken two ordinary sized men that were quarreling one with each hand raise them from the ground, and rap their heads together. I had his son to work for me in putting up a frame barn, but he broke and bent so my crowbars that after two weeks I dismissed him.
When my father went to get the finished article, Call took it out to try its quality of bringing down the game - and he took the swallows flying to do it, which he accomplished twice in succession. That fixed the credit of that piece of work. It was used for training having a bayonet fitted for that purpose, with cartridge hot, canteen all the requirements of militia training.
There was a boy about my age, Clark Stowe, his father David Stow permitted him to come to my house, and then each of us with loaded arms went to find game. We were generally successful in finding a partridge or pigeons in the summer time but when we made a successful shot we generally returned to show our skill. How careful we were of our ammunition - so very careful not to throw away a shot.
About this time there was great amusement and real live excitement that came to us boys. It was the general muster of militia. One company from Cornwall had uniforms, red coats and white pants, they were to represent the British another company from Bridport with blue coats, they represented the Americans. Then a company called the Floodwood company, there were several companies. Also a tribe of Indians were represented. Orange Brittell was the chief. Some of the companies followed the Indians down by our house to the creek where the road ended to take the Indians, but they were prepared to escape, as they had their canoes ready under the bushes, in which they jumped in and paddled away. The skulking along behind the houses, as the troops followed down the road was wonderfully exciting, and the way Brittell got away with his tribe was not to be beat. It made quite a talk for a time when the people were together at the store or mill. Brittell was dressed like an Indian chief, and Col. Sardis Dodge, said to my father he did his best to capture him; and the Col. got so excited talking about this sham fight. That he said to father, "He wished the whole thing has been real."
These June trainings and musters of sixty five years ago were great days for us boys. They were anticipated before occurring with great anxiety and their memory afterwards were treasured for a long time.
I recollect father came home from a muster in Cornwall, VT and reported of two captains come into collision about electing officers, and they went at each other with swords, and they fought very skillfully, both excellent swordsman, and the quarrel was ended by one cutting the others sword in two, and no blood spilt. Still each did their best to make serious work.
It was a little later that we Weybridge boys walked quite a ways toward Vergennes in 1840 to meet the Convention for Tippacanoe on its route to Middlebury. It had a long procession with a log cabin on wheels with hard cider. There was a great excitement at Quaker Village. A family closed in with them in the procession by the name of Hardy Walker with his wife and two daughters, Josephine and Seraphine, the youngest Seraphine was entrancing in her beauty at quite a distance, on nearer view the spell was broken. Their carriage was covered, of ancient make, like the drawings of long ago and on each side in large letters was the name "New York". After all my boyish inquiries I could never ascertain the facts; only it was supposed Walker purchased in New Your City and the name had never been changed.
(The full diary will be located here when complete.)