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Life in Emmitsburg in the mid 1800's

A Girl's Happy Summers in "that saintly old village"

[Originally published in April 24th, 1908 in the Emmitsburg Chronicle]

I am deeply interested in the “Chronicles of Emmitsburg,” having spent me very happy summers in that saintly old village. While it has been long time since, I still find some similar names in your interesting paper. The circumstances connected with Marshall Hyder, “Bud’s” broken nose, is indelibly stamped upon my memory, as I happened to be a guest at is home at the time. His parents did not “swallow the story that he had fallen from a fence.” If he proposed it, it was but a fleeting thought, for you, who know him best, must know that truthfulness was one of Marshall’s chief charms that characterized his entire life, and it is a tribute to his memory that suggests these lines.

I need not eulogize his praise has been heralded from East to West. Only yesterday, I heard him spoken of as one of “God’s noble men and a born gentleman.”

On this particular Sunday, Mr. and Mrs. Hyder were away and he were in charge of Mr. James Gelwicks, who usually stayed at the great house when the older members were away, that the girls might feel more secure having a man around good.  When Marshall came home with his bloody, swollen nose, he thought not so much of his suffering, as he did of his father’s silent rebuke. I do not know if we called in Dr. James Eichelberger, but do know, we kept the boy awake nearly all night to keep the blood from running down his throat, and that his sisters and I were frightened nearly out of our wits.

I talked with Marshall a short time before his last illness, when he referred to the incident in his usual pleasing way, he said the blow had always affected his breathing and had been the cause of an operation. He loved the reminiscences of his old home and friends.

Speaking of baseball, I think the girls in those days were just as enthusiastic as the boys; a prospective match game was an event, particularly on a Saturday afternoon when we would don our best frocks, sit in the scorching hot sun back of the upper hotel for two hours or more, just to see our favorites run, if nothing more. To a city girl who had seen little or nothing of country life and had a very crude conception of the customs and people the Saturday night beaux; the old stage coach with its one arm driver (Mr. Six); the old street pump; the handsome, gallant young men were all a pleasing, lasting revelation. Really I believed them to be something like 'Aunt Polly Bassett’s singing school.'

In the good old times the girls were much more helpful and domestic than now-a-days; we were not out hatless all day, nor were we seen at all hours dressed in our Sunday gowns; and really I believe the boys liked us best because we were conspicuous by our absence until evening, when we had mined our recreation.

There is one thrilling, as well as humorous circumstance my family enjoy hearing. It was the eve of Mr. Clem Guthrie’s departure for the West. He and Marshall had gone to visit Mr. Paul Motter who was very ill; we were to wait up and say goodbye. Ten or eleven o’clock struck, when we were called to bed an unusual hour but’ still we lingered. The bell rang; Zourie and I rushed to the door. I cannot describe the scene, but there lingers in my memory the spectacle of a great monster coming bustling in and I hear a frenzied voice calling to me to “run,” which I did, with alacrity.

We fairly flew to Mr. Hyder’s room, we gave him time to dress believing the thing, he or she or it, was at our heels. He grabbed a boot, my friend a hairbrush, while I hid behind a chair there were no firearms. The dog ran down stairs upsetting a pitcher of water, the greatest pandemonium reigned, when in walked Marshall and his mother smiling calmly, asking what was the matter? In all the confusion, we had failed to miss Mrs. Hyder, she, in a huge Buffalo robe was the monster. Finding no amount of persuasion could get us to bed, she was obliged to conjure some forcible means that would. We went. I am now an invalid a “shut in” for five years and may never see the old own again, but there will always remain a warm spot in my heart for Emmitsburg.

G. C. D.

Read other stories in this series of first hand accounts of
life in Emmitsburg in the 1800's

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