At Fredrick, Md., we took stages, drawn by four horses, over one of the finest turnpike roads, for Wheeling, Virginia, driving night and day, up and down the Allegheny Mountains, overtaking hundreds of white covered wagons, loaded with all kinds of merchandise.
How well I remember the fire flies, the mountain
laurel, azaleas, rhododendrons, ferns, trees, shrubbery, etc., all of
which were comparatively new to a boy ten years’ old from a large
city. I also remember how we were served hard boiled eggs, pickled eggs,
and delicacies and many dishes new to me, at the various taverns where
we stopped for rest and refreshments.
There were a number of Presbyterian ministers and elders on the boat going to a general assembly to be held at St. Louis. A Rev. Dr. Cox related a story of an old woman on her dying bed, repeating Hebrew passages which astonished her hearers. On investigation it was found she had been housemaid in a celebrated Hebraist’s home. He was in the habit of walking up and down the floor, repeating the same passages this woman repeated. This is a lesson in psychology, as she never knew any Hebrew except that which she heard from her employer.
On our arrival in St. Louis, there were many Indians at the boat landing to meet and greet us, as there were also at Alexandria. They were the worst kind of beggars and dependents. There were so many boats at the landings that we had to cross over two of them before reaching the levee.
At this time, (1838) Iowa was a territory, and
the land north of the Des Moines River was known as the “Half Breed
Tract.” This trip was a great experience for a boy ten years’
old, and no doubt had its effect in forming my character. It may explain
why I have given my children all the advantages of travel I have been
able to provide. In my early brokerage business I had frequently to go
from home to see properties on which loans were wanted, or to examine
the feasibility of building water, or gas works, Matthews and Whitaker,
Bankers & Brokers, frequently promoting such enterprises, notably
at Hannibal, Keokuk, Atchison, Little Rock, Denver, Leadville, Joplin
and other places. Whenever I could do so, I would take some one of my
children and it proved very beneficial. On several occasions I sent one,
or another, when about seven to ten years old, alone to Cincinnati, Chicago,
Kansas City or elsewhere. These trips threw them on their own resources
and proved great “eye-openers.”