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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Memoirs of Mirinda Piper Andrews: Married Life 1858 - 1872

Mirinda Piper married John Andrews on September 21, 1858 in Lincoln, Logan County, Illinois. Her father was Beverly Bradley Piper and her mother Delia Deborah Norton Piper. Mirinda was their oldest living child; she had younger siblings Asa Almon Piper, Charles Beverly Piper, and Anne Eliza Piper. Her husband was also the oldest living child in his family; his siblings were Harriet and Seth. Previous chapters of Mirinda’s memoirs have been published on this blog; this one comprises the period of her marriage through the early 1870s.

In June John Andrews came again, and on the 21st of September we were married. The ceremony was performed by Mr. Moore, an old Baptist preacher long since dead. We went to live at the old Andrews place with John’s mother and brother Seth. Grandpa Norton was visiting at Father’s at the same time and left when we did; he was to stop at Vincennes, Indiana, but concluded to go on to Evansville with us. It was the last time I saw him; he died the next year at the age of 78. We spent one day at Vincennes, arrived at Farmersville in the night and were met by Seth and James and Harriet Hinkley (they had been married two years before). They brought carriages to take us home in, so the next morning we started for a twenty-mile ride. The day was pleasant and everything lovely. We arrived in time for dinner.

Mother Andrews
The Andrews family consisted of Mother, Seth, and an adopted daughter named Ellen Hall, who was a very pretty young girl about 14 years old. Also there was a cousin of John’s, a maiden lady named Sophronia Phillips staying with the family temporarily[i]. (Old Mr. Andrews had died in 1854).

From this time on, my life was entirely changed, and my memories will be more of the Andrews family than the Pipers. I met a few of my old acquaintances, but not many, as I was too happy at home to go around much, and the family I had married into were a hard-working, quiet, stay-at-home people, and I did as near like them as I could.

In October Mother Andrews and Seth went to Genesee, Wisconsin, to visit some relatives, and they were so delighted with the place that they bought a farm with the intention of going there to reside in the spring. Miss Phillips stayed with us through the winter. James and Harriet lived on an adjoining farm. They had a year-old son named Anson. During the winter John sold their old home to a Mr. Bois (I think his name was but I am not certain). Seth was very anxious to sell in order to move to Wisconsin. John did not want to sell, but as his Mother sided with Seth he could not resist the pressure. It was an epoch in their lives, as they had always lived there, and all the children were born in the same house.

We had agreed to give possession March 1st. In February Mother Andrews and Ellen Hall were both taken very sick with typhoid fever. There was to be a sale, and they were removed to Harriet’s, and by the 1st of March [they] were able to sit up. As soon as the sale was over and things were straightened out, John and I left for a visit to Father’s, who still lived near Lincoln, Illinois. Two years before this, James Hinkley and John Andrews bought in partnership a farm of 160 acres in Washington County, Illinois, on the Illinois Central Railroad, and planted it out with apple trees. They had a tenant on the place, and we went around that way to see how things were getting along. We went down the Ohio River in a steamboat to Cairo, Illinois. We had a very rough trip; the wind blew so hard that the boat had to anchor for twelve hours. Some of the passengers, myself among the rest, were quite sea-sick, or river sick. We spent one night in Cairo, then went up the Illinois Central Railroad to Dubois, the station near our orchard, took dinner with the tenant, and arrived at Father’s the next evening. Found them all well and delighted to see us.
We had decided to live at the orchard a year or two before we settled down for good, so John stayed one week at Father’s and then went back to build us a house. Harriet and James were to live there, too. I was dreadfully unhappy to have him leave me, and although my relatives were so kind grew worse. I was to stay ‘til he finished the house, but at the end of three weeks was too homesick [and] would not stay any longer. Father was very much put out about it, and he said I had lived with them 18 years and got along very well but now could not stay six weeks. But he went to Bloomington with me, and John met me at Centralia, so I did not have to change cars alone. We had to board two weeks with Mrs. Finch, our tenant’s wife, but I did not care, I was with my husband and that was all I wanted.

As soon as the new house was fit to move into, James and Harriet came and they had two rooms and we had two. How I enjoyed my new home. There is nothing quite so delightful to a young married woman as her first housekeeping experience. My housework was light, and I did not get tired or lonesome. Sometime that summer James and Harriet went back to their old home in Indiana and were gone two weeks. When they came back they brought James’ niece Eliza Oatsman with them, a sixteen-year-old young lady who lived with them ‘til she married.

I wanted Mother to come and visit us that summer, but she wrote she could not leave her family but we had better come to Lincoln, which we did about the 2nd of August, and stayed about five weeks. The 8th of September our little boy was born. We named him Charles Norton. Is there anything sweeter than the first baby? He was the first grandchild too in the Piper family. How they all did dote on him and hated to have us take him away, but when he was three weeks old we went home to Dubois. (This month Grandpa Norton died, aged about 78.)

James and Harriet met us at the depot and were glad to have us home again. Mother Andrews and Seth came down from Wisconsin and stayed a few weeks with us. We had quite an influx of visitors that fall. Clark Butler came, but I did not see him as he was there while we were at Lincoln. Anson Osborn and wife came from Indiana. There was an old Uncle and Aunt of John’s made us a short visit from Ohio, but I have forgotten their names, they died a few years after. The winter passed quickly and happily, my baby was very good and to my eyes beautiful. My housework was light, as there were only three of us in the family and two rooms to keep clean.

This is an historical year, but there are plenty of accounts of it, so I won’t make the attempt. In March John, Baby and I went to Lincoln for a visit; we stayed at Father’s two weeks, then went up to Wisconsin to visit Mother Andrews. We had a very pleasant time as the neighbors invited us out to dinners and teas, so that we were going or entertaining company during our two weeks stay. Among others we met Miss Sylvia Van Camp, whom Seth married the next June. The 16 of May Harriet’s second child was born, George. The same day Abraham Lincoln was nominated for president by the Republicans.

The summer was very hot and we had a big crop of watermelons. The men used to stop work for two hours during the middle of the day and lie around and eat watermelons. Otis Hinkley spent a few weeks with his brother during the heated term, and he was then in college. Of course there were a great many political meetings held in the county, bur I did not attend but one, that was at Samarco, Perry County, and heard Richard Yates speak, who was afterwards Governor. After Seth and Miss Van Camp were married, Ellen Hall came to live with us and remained with us ‘til she was married nine years after. James’ family, with Eliza and Ellen, went over to Indiana in July for a visit of two weeks. Then I was lonesome, having been used to having so many in the house; it seemed dreary enough as John was out in the field at work early and late.

After they came home James went up to the north part of the state to look for a place to settle down, and he decided on Rockford and bought ten acres of land, made arrangements with a carpenter to build him a house, then came back and made preparations to leave Dubois with his family. They went in October. Mother Andrews came down to spend the winter with us and we had a hired man named Tom Brown. Ellen and I had plenty to do and were not lonesome.

In November Abraham Lincoln was elected president. Then there was mutterings of the great storm which broke on us the next April, but I did not heed it, there never had been a war since my recollection in this country, and I did not think there would be; it seemed impossible that Americans would begin to shoot each other, but you see they did.

About the middle of the month Father wrote me that Mother’s health was very poor, and he did not think she would live long, and they were very anxious that I should come and visit her. Oh how I dreaded to go, but I got ready and started in two days. I hated to leave my husband, dreaded the trip, and feared to find Mother sinking. It was a very miserable journey. I arrived at the station in Lincoln at three in the morning. Of course, there was no one to meet me as they did not know I was coming. I sat in the waiting room ‘til daylight, then took my fifteen-months-old boy in my arms and walked to an old acquaintances about a quarter of a mile away. Stayed there to breakfast, then they took me in a buggy out to Father’s. Much to my delight, I found Mother much better. Stayed two weeks and went home on Thanksgiving day. John met me at Centralia, and my troubles were over for that time.

In January Mother’s health failed rapidly, and she died the 24th. I received two letters from Father, one stating that she was worse, and one with the sad news of her death. They both came by the same mail. I was glad I had visited her so lately, even if it was a hard trip. Father urged us to come and spend the summer with him as he had no housekeeper, and sister Anne was only twelve years old. I disliked exceedingly the idea of going there to stay with my family, and the result proved that my intuitions were correct. But as we were unsettled we concluded to go.

Mother Andrews went to Seth’s. The orchard was rented to James Longfellow. In March Nellie Hall, baby Charlie and I went to Lincoln. John came several weeks later. May 30th my second child came, we named him Henry Butler, but his name was soon abbreviated to Harry and remained that ever after. My Aunt Mirinda Parker was with me for several weeks. After that summer I never saw her again. There was a great deal of hard feeling that summer between friends on account of different views of the war, and our family was not exempt. It was the most exciting period the United States ever knew and came very near being the Disunited States.

In July John went up to Rockford to visit James and Harriet Hinkley. While there he bought seven acres of land adjoining James’ piece, located on School Street, and engaged a carpenter to build us a house. He came back to Lincoln, stayed a few days, then went down to Indiana, his old home, to settle up some business affairs. I was 21 the 25th of this month.

In August Father was married again, to Miss Elizabeth K. Landis, a lady we all liked very much, but, of course, we were sorry to have him bring any one to take Mother’s place. But it gave John and me a good excuse to go to Rockford, which we did, starting September 1st or 2nd. While in Indiana John had bought a nice horse and top buggy, so shipping our things by railroad, we drove up to Rockford, about 200 miles. The weather was fine, but the first day or two was quite tiresome, as I had to hold my three months old Harry in my arms all the way. We started Monday after dinner and arrived at Rockford Friday morning at 9 o’clock. The Hinkley family seemed very glad to see us, and we were delighted to get there, especially as we were to have a settled home at last. I remember that was the most pleasant idea of the whole trip, we would have a home of our own. But we had to board with the Hinkley family for three months, as our house was not ready to go into ‘til the last of November. From this time on my home has been Rockford, and we could not have struck a more beautiful or satisfactory place in the state.

In October Harriet was sent for to go to Genessee, as Seth’s wife had died and left a three months old babe. She took her two little boys, Anson and George, and left me with the care of the house. I got along very well as Ellen and Eliza helped me mornings and evenings, they both went to school. Harriet was gone a week, and when she came home she brought Mother Andrews and the little babe Sylvia. About that time James’ sister, Ellen Hinkley, came up from New Harmony, Indiana, to spend the winter, so we were pretty thick in the house, but we got along very well and had no quarrels. There were six rooms in the house, and twelve people including the babies. We were glad to get moved into our new house although it was not nearly finished.

Mother Andrews spent part of the time with us.

In January Father’s wife Lizzie died, and he sold his farm and broke up housekeeping and the family boarded. My life ran along in a quiet manner, there was always plenty to do. Ellen Hall quit school and helped me with the housework. We did all our own sewing, without a machine, baked our bread, made butter, did the washing and ironing, and took care of the children. There was not time to be lonesome, although we were strangers here; the Hinkley family was all the company we seemed to need.

In September Father visited us, bringing a young gentleman friend of his. It was Fair time, and they stayed a few days. There were four regiments of soldiers in camp on the river, which were expecting marching orders at any time. While Father was here he united in marriage Edward Maynard and Eliza Oatsman. Edward belonged to the 74th Illinois Volunteers and wanted to be married before he left Rockford[ii]. The newspapers were full of war news, and it was a general topic of conversation everywhere.

In October the soldiers left. I went to the depot to see them start, they marched through the streets with bands, but it was a sad sight to see them part with their friends, and when they boarded the cars, poor fellows, many of them never came home.

December 18th Harriet’s baby Arthur came. Seth was visiting here that winter, but I do not remember whether he stayed all winter or not. Mother Andrews spent the winter with us.

Ellen Hall visited a few weeks in Wisconsin during the early part of the year. In March brother Asa and sister Annie came; he stayed two weeks, but she remained with us and commenced going to school in the city.

On June 27, my last child was born. We named him Ernest John. I wanted the latter name for fear his father would go to war and be killed. All that summer there was a haunting fear of the war in my mind, as things began to look very serious, and it seemed like all the able-bodied men in the country would be called on. Edward Maynard was paroled on account of sickness.

In October we went up to Seth’s on a visit. Mother Andrews was keeping house for him. We had a pleasant time socially, but the weather was cold and stormy part of the time.

While we were away James had received a letter from the tenant at Dubois saying he had left the place. Someone had to go down there immediately. We packed up and went November 10. When we started the weather was cold and dreary, and we wore our winter wraps, but when we arrived at Dubois the sun was shining warmly, and it was a lovely Indian summer day. There had been a terrible drought that summer and the fields and orchards were as bare as the dead of winter. I was lonesome there, and our nearest neighbor was a quarter of a mile away, and political feeling ran high on account of the war, more than half of the people down there sympathized with the South. I was uneasy whenever John was away from home.

Our cousin, Miss B. Phillips[iii], came to make us a visit in December, and because the weather was quite stormy she stayed much longer than she first intended.

January 1st there came the worst storm I had ever seen up to that time, but I have witnessed as bad since then. There was a blizzard and such a snow storm. John went to the post office a mile away. I was very uneasy fearing he would not find his way home. The next day was very cold and continued so for several days. All the peach trees in the state were killed.

In February I took a severe cold which settled on my lungs. I had worked too hard and had not taken proper care of my health, and now it failed me. All the work for five in the family I had done and had not been accustomed to work so hard. My baby Ernest was sick considerable during the spring months and I felt rather blue.

We took a tri-weekly Chicago paper and an old gentleman neighbor used to come over to get me to read the war news to him, his eyesight was poor. I do not think he could read very well either. He had two sons in the army, and took great interest in all the war news.

One of the pleasant things of my life down there were my letters from Rockford. Sister Annie was boarding with the Hinkleys, Ellen Hall was living there too, and they all wrote me such delightful letters, mail day was anxiously looked for.

The three little Andrews boys: Charles Norton, Harry Butler, and Ernest John, about 1864.
July 3 I started home to Rockford with my three children. John remained to take care of the place during the summer, for we had found a family to move into the house and board the hands. The Democratic presidential convention was in session in Chicago. Father, brother Asa, and Uncle Louis Norton were there. Asa was attending a law school there, and had a room. He met us at the depot and took us to his boarding house, where we spent a very pleasant day with my relatives. I also visited a physician in the city, who told me my lungs were somewhat affected, and gave me some medicine.

The Democrats nominated George B. McClellan for president, and George H. Pendleton for vice president. But the Republicans were successful and elected Abraham Lincoln for president and Andrew Johnson for vice president.

How delighted I was to get back to my Rockford home. My health improved some by the change of climate. Annie had gone to Goshen, Indiana, to live with Uncle Almon Norton. Mother Andrews came to live with us and also Nellie Hall. John remained at Dubois until October.

In November cousin Harriet Osborn came from Brooklyn, New York, to spend the winter with the Hinkley family. We had a jol1y winter, spending about three evenings a week together, playing Huggins, or Old Maid with cards, as Miss Osborn had scruples about playing Euchre, our favorite game. But what I enjoyed most was the grand talks we had; she was very intelligent and interesting and having spent most of her life in a city, opened up a new world to my mind.

We spent Thanksgiving day at our house and Christmas at the Hinkleys. Miss Osborn stayed ‘til May.

In April the war came to an end, much to my delight. I had been in better health and was much more cheerful and hopeful than I had been the spring and summer before. How well I remember one April evening (though I have forgotten the date) we were all over at Harriet’s, when the church bell began to ring out rapidly and joyously. There someone exclaimed, “Lee has surrendered, the war is over!” We had been expecting it, and we all jumped up and commenced shaking hands, and I am sure that one of us at least cried for joy. A few days later we heard the dreadful news of Lincoln’s assassination which cast a damper on our spirits for a time, but nothing could undo the grand fact that the cruel war was over.

In June Ella Hinkley was born, and we were all much pleased. As I had three boys and Harriet had three, we thought there ought to be more of the girl element in the neighborhood.

Everything passed quietly during the summer; we took no trips and had no visitors from a distance that I remember. In the fall our tenant at Dubois wanted to leave, and James Hinkley decided to take his family down there.

Seth, his Mother, and Sibbie [little Sylvia Andrews] moved into their Rockford house. Before that, there had been built a house on the west end of James’ land for Mother Andrews to live in, and she had resided there for some time.

Our little Charlie was now six and we started him to school, but he did not go all winter. I taught him at home; he was reading in a second reader.

This spring Miss Zillah Douglas on Avon Street started a private school for primary scholars, in one room of the Douglas house. Charlie and Sibbie Andrews attended. This was a memorable summer to me. I was in a low nervous state of health and under a doctor’s care but able to work and be around all the time. In June I became terribly excited about religious matters, found that I had drifted away from the faith of my fathers, and had nothing to hold on to. But after a few months my mind grew clearer, and I realized that although the Bible contains truth it does not contain all truth, and what is set down as doctrine is merely the belief of the writer of the book. And a more extended knowledge of history and the sciences confirms me in the opinion.

Fortunately for me we were growing berries, and much of my time was spent out picking the fruit. The fresh air was good for me, and the constant communing with nature was still better. Nature said to me, God is good and merciful, creeds and dogmas to the contrary notwithstanding, I prayed constantly, and my prayer was “I can’t believe (the orthodox faith) God help my unbelief.” My prayer was answered, and I was led to see that God is the Father and Maker of us all. Or as Isaiah says “I form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil, I the Lord do all things.” I became satisfied that God was all and the devil was a myth, imagined by priests to frighten their congregations into obedience. A good and merciful Father would never allow any of His creatures to be tortured through all eternity. I read a great deal of Whittier, that grand religious poet. How often I quoted

            I know not where his islands lift
            Their fronded palms in air,
            I only know I cannot drift
            Beyond his love and care.

George McDonald’s books helped me, as did Robert Falconer and others. I thought at that time that I was entirely alone in my struggle, that no one else had suffered in the same way, but years afterward I learned that many others had, notably Dr. [John H.] Kerr, and the author of Robert Elsmere [Mrs. Humphrey Ward, published 1888]. For no one could have written the vivid picture of his (Elsmere’s) mind without it being a personal matter.

In July Ebenezer Ellis, his wife, and Mrs. Van Camp, Sibbie’s Grandmother, visited us from Genesee, Wisconsin. They staid several days, part of the time they were at Seth’s. In August the children and I went on a visit to Father’s who had married a widow lady[iv] and was living a few miles from Mattoon. I did not wish to go, but John thought it would be good for me to have a change, and father’s folks were so urgent for me to come. Seth was going to be married, so I had his company through Chicago. We stayed two weeks, and my little three-year-old Ernie was very sick while there and had ague for several weeks after our return. Harry also. I was delighted to get home though they had been so glad to see me and kind while there. Some way the greatest pleasure I ever had visiting was the delight of getting home in those days.

Seth was married to Miss Flora Phillips in September; they spent a few days at our home and then went to Genesee, Wisconsin to live on his farm, and they took Sibbie with them. The fall was a very sad one to all of us. The children and I were sick for some time. In November my brother Asa died near Mattoon. In December little George Hinkley died, he had been sick all summer with malarial fever at Dubois, it was a terrible blow to his parents. He was six years old. Mother Andrews came down there with them, and after the funeral she came up to our house. She took cold on the trip which resulted in pneumonia and she died one week later. The old saying came true with us that “misfortunes never come singly.”

March 1st James’ family came back to Rockford; it was a very sad homecoming for Harriet, as she had left one of her little ones behind her. Mrs. Alehin on Peoatonica Street started a private school and Charlie and Harry went. In June Anne came from Goshen, Indiana, to live with us. Cousin Howard Norton came with her and remained a few days. Anne had taken a severe cold and her health was poor, but she seemed to improve after she came to us. My stepmother had died during the winter, and Father spent the time traveling among his Baptist friends. I did not see him this year.

My health was improving. John was working hard farming our eighty acre piece and raising berries on our seven acre Rockford place.

In April, Harriet had another baby, a boy whom she named Hargrove Otis, who in a measure filled the place of George that she lost. This month Annie’s health failed visibly. The Doctor said one lung was hepatized and we saw that she was going with consumption. I took the best care of her that I could, and as Nellie Hall was with me could devote most of my time to her, especially as there was plenty of sewing and mending to do and could work in her room. She was very patient and gentle, and gave as little trouble as possible. Father came in September, he had been talking of taking her to Kentucky for the winter, but when he saw her concluded it would do her more harm than good, as she was so far gone. She passed away October 13. She had suffered so much I could not grieve for her, but I grieved for myself. I missed her so, always, very near and dear to me being my only sister, she had grown doubly so during the many months I had cared for and waited on her. Sometime this fall Father went to Logan County, Kentucky, to live, and I never saw him afterwards. In a year or two he married a Kentucky lady[v], and lived on her farm the rest of his life. He died in September 1880.

This was a very quiet uneventful year to us; nothing happened of any moment ‘til September when Nellie Hall, who had lived with us nine years, was united in marriage to Henry Joslin[vi]. For the first time in nine years we were alone with our little family. It seemed so good. Of course I had more work to do, but by hiring the washing, as my health improved, I really enjoyed my work. Harriet’s baby Ralph was born December 14, her last child.

I remember nothing particular about this year ‘til August when Harriet, baby Ralph, and I went to visit Seth’s family. They were now living at Lodi, Wisconsin. We had a delightful trip to Madison on the cars. Seth and a neighbor, Mr. Hall, met us with a two-seated carriage, and I don’t think I ever had a more delightful drive. It was twenty miles to Lodi and we arrived tired and hungry and found a good supper awaiting us. We had a pleasant visit of a week. They all seemed glad to see us.

In September John took the children and me on a visit to Nellie Joslin in Durand. We went one day and came home the next. October 13, Eliza Maynard died with consumption, just two years after Annie’s death. James Hinkley’s two sisters, Miss Lydia Hinkley and Mrs. Ellen Brown, spent most of the summer with relatives here. They were from California.

Nothing of importance happened, we went nowhere away from Rockford. We had no sickness, no deaths, or marriages in the family.


This spring John rented the farm and went down to Dubois to take care of the orchard. There was a promise of a large crop of apples and peaches. In July he wrote for Charlie to come down, and as it was the long vacation, he was delighted to go. I was almost afraid to have him go alone on the cars, but he arrived safely. In a few weeks he was taken sick with malarial fever and I took the other children and went down to take care of him. Found him very sick but he soon grew better. We had a great many peaches on the place, and if he had not been sick we would have had a fine time. We only stayed two weeks as Harry was taken sick and I thought we would all be down and hurried home with my children. John remained ‘til October. After our return Charlie had a relapse and I feared he would die. He recovered but was delicate all winter, did not attend school till the spring term. This fall we bought our first coal stove; before we had always burned wood and allowed the fire to go out of nights, so I did not keep house plants.


[i] We have not been able to trace the Phillips relationship. Perhaps this was a relative of Anson Seeley Andrews’ mother, Elizabeth Butler, who had a sister named Sophronia. There was a Daphne Butler who married a Samuel Phillips and had a daughter Sophronia in 1823, and Elizabeth Butler did have an older sister Daphne born in 1782, but no connection has been proven.
[ii] Edward C. Maynard enlisted August 7, 1862 as a member of Company D, 74th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He was mustered August 28, 1862 and the Infantry began leaving Rockford September 4, 1862, so he must have been married within a few days. He was discharged with a disability May 20, 1863. (Brigadier General J. N. Reece, Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois, Vol VII, p. 586; online at After the war he became a policeman in Rockford. Sadly, Eliza and all three of their children died of consumption over the next twenty years. Edward married again and had a daughter who lived into old age.
[iii] We have not been able to trace what cousin this is. Perhaps she was a sibling of Sophronia Phillips.
[iv] Beverly Bradley Piper’s third wife was Mrs. Lucy W. Jones. They were married 2 November 1865 in Coles County, Illinois. She died in 1867.
[v] B.B. Piper’s fourth wife was Isabella Herndon. They were married 31 August 1870 and had a son, Robert Beverly Piper, in 1871; and a daughter, Ellen C. Piper, in 1873. Isabella died in 1914. Both Robert and Ellen married and had children.
[vi] Although we have been unable to trace Ellen Hall’s parents, her marriage was on 15 September 1869. She died 26 April 1879, and Henry Joslin married again. There were no children.
Other Posts about Mirinda:

One-Room Schools, a Romance, an Earthquake

Mirinda and Slavery

The Further Adventures of Mirinda Piper (first part)

The Further Adventures of Mirinda Piper (second part)

Mirinda Piper's Adventures as a Young Lady of the 1850s

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