Letters, pt. deuxNov 13th, 2009 | By Leonard Legends & Legacies | Category: Featured Articles, Real People, Real Stories
Time flies, and all that crap. And yes, I should’ve thought of a more creative title for “Letters, pt. deux.” Get over it.
When we last spoke, I promised to share a bit of what my g-g-grandfather had to say about his cabin, and the traffic that passed by the front of it. The cabin, as you might’ve guessed, is the very one pictured here, taken from the original painting (done from memory) in 1899.
I know these things, because the creation of this and the previously-mentioned painting were noted in the local newspaper:
“Uncle Dan Leonard has recently had a fine large picture (previous entry -ed.) of his Taylor county home painted which was on exhibition in the Shion drug store last Saturday and attracted much attention. Anyone who has ever partaken of Uncle Dan’s hospitality would at once recognize the beautiful home which he has builded (sic) for himself. Another smaller picture stood beside the large one. This was his first cabin erected in 1850. (actually 1856) The contrast is great.” (Duh)
-Adams County (Iowa) Free Press 14 Sept 1899
The artist’s name, BTW, was L. Berg. I’ve never seen another reference to him, but itinerant artists were commonplace in those days. If you ever run across him, please let me know. Now where was I?
Uncle Dan described his cabin, in his 1889 letter to his aunt (written ten years before the painting was done) as, “in its day the the finest residence for 12 years on a strip of land 16 miles long and 8 wide.”
Speaking of a photo he apparently enclosed, Uncle Dan drew attention to a horse on the road in front of his house… “a woe-begon moving family. Poor folks, they like hundreds of others had tryed (sic) Kansas and found it wanting and are pulling for their northern farms. Home.”
“Oh, I sometimes pity the poor slaves,” he continued, “the poor oppressed slaves that have left their eastern homes, came west to hunt a home and have been wandering those years and it seems as though they could not find any place to lay their head.” Uncle Dan wrote that note twenty-five years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
As a final, completely unrelated note of HUGE historical interest, at least to me, was one about recent events back “home” in Pennsylvania. The footnote was dated June 24th, 1889:
“Oh, what a calamity befell Johnstown and there is not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your father’s notice. Are you not of more value than many sparrows?”
Note for the non-native Pennsylvanian… On May 31, 1889, a neglect and a phenomenal storm led to a catastrophic dam failure outside of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. 2,209 people died in the ensuing flood.