WILLIAM B. IDE worked at the carpenter and joiner's trade with his father a greater part of the time till of age. His "schooling" privileges were limited to the common schools of those days, which were seldom kept in the several districts where he lived more than two months, each season, summer and winter. In 1819 he built a dwelling-house for his brother SIMEON in Windsor, Vt.; and afterwards followed building operations in Winchendon and Keene, N. H., and Newfane and Woodstock, Vt., to the year 1833.
At an accidental interview with President HAYES' uncle Burchard of Fayetteville, Newfane, in 1876 the old gentleman, who is quite deaf, inquired of the writer about "one William B. Ide"--said he knew him well some 50 years ago--that he built the house in which he (Mr. B.) then lived: and he assured me that Mr. Ide was a good and thorough workman-- that although his house had stood the test of the Vermont climate, exposed to rapid changes of wet and dry, heat and cold, for so long a time, it was then "about as good as new."
April 17,1820. Mr. IDE and Miss SUSAN G. HASKELL were married by her uncle Grout, at his house in Northborough, Mass., and not by the Rev. Joseph Sumner, D.,D., pastor of the first Congregational church in Shrewsbury for about sixty years, as stated in "Ward's History of Shrewsbury," (from which the writer has gathered several other "items," in his progress thus far), and the fact that "Their mothers were daughters of (their grandfather) Deacon Jasper Stone."
Although he had had full employment at his trade in Vermont, yet Mr. IDE'S adventurous turn of mind, (which he came honestly by) made him a "victim" of the then prevailing "Western Fever." His first objective point was Canton, in Kentucky; whither, in June, 1833, he directed his steps--and where, with his young family, (a wife and six children,) he remained about three months; then removed to Madison, Montgomery Co., eight miles from Dayton, Ohio, in 1834-and, in 1839, he removed to Jacksonville, Illinois.
During several months residence at Madison his health did not permit his working at his trade, except occasionally in the warmer seasons; and he spent most of the winter months as a teacher in the district schools. And we will here give an extract from one of his letters to his mother, then living with her eldest son at Windsor, Vt., dated "Madison, Ohio, Feb. 23, 1835," which will show something of the troubles attending the pioneers of the new settlements of our country:
"And now, my dear Mother, I will, in answer to your request to SUSAN (for she seldom gets time to write), proceed to give you some account of our little ones: and I will begin with the eldest. James M. is, as you know, pretty well advanced in his 13th year; and it is time to begin to expect some small development of mind. He is still very small of stature--not above the size of most boys of 9 or 1O years old.
"When I first arrived in Ohio, and commenced teaching, James was sick; and I was scarcely able to walk. I could not look after and take care of my children at school--was frequently under the necessity of being carried home. So the first quarter James attended only about 25 days. As I was about attending my second quarter, James had the misfortune to inflict a severe wound upon the ancle of his left leg. The accident occurred as follows: I had just put a handle to, and ground very thin and sharp, an axe for my own use, and laid it on a high shelf--saying to Susan, at the same time, that I was going to a raising about a mile off, and that the boys were not to meddle with this axe, as I had made it very sharp. Scarcely had I left the house, when James came in, and began to climb up the logs of the house to get the axe. His mother told him he must not have it; but James answered: 'Why, marm? father allows me to use it.' So, like a good, easy mother, she said no more, and James went out into the orchard to chop some dead peach trees.
"Directly Susan heard some one hollering; but as the girls and William were playing about the house, and making so much noise, she thought no harm; when, a little while after, she discovered that James had cut his ancle, and was bleeding very fast--the axe having entered nearly half of the blade, severing some of the leaders of the toes, and opening one of the arteries.-- His mother finding him in this situation, held the wound together, while William ran after me. Understanding about the case by William, I sent a man for a surgeon, and then hastened home. But recollecting that the man had seven miles to go, and that the road was extremely bad at that time--and the wound continuing to bleed, it was evident he could not survive the loss of blood that must be occasioned by waiting for the surgeon.
* * * I went immediately about dressing it. I tied up the blood-vessels, then sewed the parts together.
James fainted, and afterwards became very sick; but soon began to recover.
"In the evening the said man returned without the doctor. In about 8 or 10 days James began to sit up on his couch--and by the first of June (2 months after) was able to hobble to school; since which time he has been very steadily. He is a very excellent reader-- understands the English very well--has studied his geography once through--has gone through Adams' New Arithmetic, and is now engaged in defining some of the more intricate words in the English language.
"William had about the like opportunity, but has not improved so well. He is some larger than James, and stout. He is not much troubled by care of any kind.
"Mary is a good girl; helps her mother a good deal; reads and spells well; studies grammar and makes her own clothes, pretty much: is as tall as James, and generally stands at the head of the first class, of late; since each scholar has to define, as well as spell the word.
"Sarah is the baby, and is therefore her father's dear child; and, therefore, I will say but little about her-- only that she reads with Mary, and thinks she can do any thing as well as she does!"
The foregoing extracts from one of the numerous letters of WILLIAM B. IDE to his "Beloved Mother", (as he uniformly addressed her) which are in the writer's possession, are introduced here as evidence of his wonderful sagacity and presence of mind in a trying emergency; and we shall have occasion, in our succeeding pages, to notice many more noteworthy instances of this rare innate endowment. And it will show that parents may learn their children, at the tender age of eight or nine years, how to "help their mother a good deal," and to "make their own clothes, pretty much"-- while, at the same time, they "generally stand at the head of the first class."
We give extracts from another of his letters, dated "Madison, O., Sept. 13, 1835," to show the filial affection with which he ever regarded his parents.
"I have a little plan of operations which I will communicate to you. If it succeeds, it will unite again the largest half of my Father's family, in or near one village.--I have now in my trunk my Father's letter of advice, written Feb. 20, 1817, [39 days before William became of age], which I have often read with renewed interest, since I have lived in the great valley of the Mississippi. Though it may be true that I have not been able to find a country exactly, in all things, to answer the "picture of my youthful fancy," yet I have by far "bettered myself;" and my Father's injunction was, (after having done so) "next to seek to better my friends of my Father's house." I have sought so to do. Here is a wide field for industry and usefulness; and although you, dear Mother, may be too old for much labor, yet your presence will cheer the hearts and enliven the countenances of those that can labor. Think it not too much: I have commenced this letter expressly to persuade you to come and live with me. I have a plenty. We are not now in Vermont, eating flour at eight dollars per barrel, and corn at one dollar a bushel. Yet the price of labor is not diminished--nor am I beset, on either hand, by duns and unpaid accounts--by notes over-due, while I have little or no cash to spare I do not now anticipate the errand of every stranger who approaches me to be the collection of some note be has bought against me. But now, when I see an unexpected neighbor or stranger coming, I begin to anticipate--he comes to ask a favor, not to claim justice-- he comes to borrow money, or to pay what he owes-- to solicit conditions, not to enforce them.
"Yet, blessed as I am in worldly matters, I do not feel entirely independent. No! the few streaks of adversity that have come over me since I saw you, dear Mother, I trust have had their due effect. I do not now argue against the cause of CHRIST, or preach Universalism. No: I have seen something of the value of Christian submission and of Christian example and influence among men. * * * But I have little or no Christian fortitude to boast of. I feel that my obligations are great; and had it not been for the miss-spent opportunities of my youth, and for that, unwillingness of mine to rely on the Spirit of CHRIST for aid, I might have been greatly useful in the sphere of my acquaintance to the cause of humanity and truth. The past is gone!"
While living in Ohio and Illinois, from the year 1834 to '44, while his health would permit, Mr. IDE, worked at his trade a considerable part of the spring, summer and fall months, --when not engaged in farming operations-- and taught in the district schools a portion of the winter months.
His only surviving daughter, Mrs. SARAH E. HEALY, represents his farm in Madison, Ohio, as "a very good one--having good buildings, being well fenced, and under a good state of cultivation: he paid a part down for it, and the balance in less than two years, which we made off the farm--Father and brothers (as well as the rest of the family who were old enough) all working; for we did not hire any help, and were soon out of debt. This was a comfortable and pleasant home, with kind and intelligent neighbors.
"In the fall of 1838 Father sold that farm, with the intention of removing to Missouri. In October we started on our journey thither, with two wagons comfortably fitted up. The weather was changeable--sometimes cold and rainy, and the roads very bad. As nearly as I can remember, we spent about four weeks traveling, to Jacksonville, Ill. We spent the winter there--father working at his trade. In February, 1839, he moved onto the farm near Springfield, Ill."
Mrs. Healy, in her note to the writer from which the above is taken, says her Father held no public offices in Ohio or Illinois, "but took great interest in politics; and, while in Madison, O., he wrote a great many articles of agreement for his neighbors, and was often consulted by them on occasions of disputes occurring between them, about rights to land and division-lines, and other misunderstandings. Even our Justice of the Peace consulted him a good deal"--thus acting, as a genial and mutual friend, without fee or reward, as a "peacemaker" among them.
The year 1845 was a more eventful one than any that had preceded it in his checkered life hitherto. During his stay in Kentucky, Ohio and Illinois he had not added largely to the means he took with him on leaving New England. His active spirit did not brook the tedious process of farming, which he had resorted to in those States, to make provision for the support of his family in his declining years. He had not realized the fond hopes inspired by the glowing newspaper accounts of "the West." And he had heard of a still more promising field of enterprise in the far off--still farther off "land of promise"--and thither he concluded to direct his steps. And, notwithstanding the hardships, difficulties and loss of property attending the adventure, we have the authority of his daughter for stating, that if he could have foreseen them all, it would not have deterred him from making it: for, says Mrs. H., in a note to the writer: "My Father was not sorry, but proud of being among the first to open the way here."*03*
In the winter of '44-5, MR. IDE. made ample preparation for his advent into the Pacific solitudes, by the purchase of a large and well-assorted herd of cattle,--a competent outfit (as he supposed) of provisions and other necessaries, for a six-months tour; with his wife and five children, and the necessary assistants, to accompany him--Oregon being then his objective point.