Here are a few of Lillian’s “Vignettes,” in her own words, recorded in 1973, recalling those 19th-century pioneers and their families in an early Wisconsin settlement.
"When daughter Helen Rebecca Porter Richardson was home, I would often go down and ask to play with baby Clara and wheel her around the yard. If any neighborhood children were around at meal time, they were always invited to stay and eat.
"Aunt Eliza," as we always called her, was also an elocutionist and would give readings at church or village gatherings. She was intensely dramatic, and the poems and sagas were usually accompanied by gestures as was the custom in those days. When she read from Longfellow’s “Psalm of Life” —the lines “Be not like dumb-driven cattle”—she would quickly drop to all fours on the floor, and as quickly straighten up with hand raised skyward on the following verse: “Be a hero in the strife!” Of course, this was a little much for the uninitiated who found it somewhat amusing, but as children, we were all duly impressed.”
|William Porter House|
The Isaac Porters. “Isaac Porter [Joseph’s other brother, ed.] lived in the large brick house facing south on the north side of the Square. As a child, I thought that this was the most beautiful home I had ever seen, and only hoped that one day I might have one as fine as this. Isaac Porter was a gentleman of the old school. I do not remember his wife who died young leaving four children: John, Anna, Henry and Edward. Isaac was always kind to the children in Cooksville, and I recall that he once took Avis Savage and me to the Sunday School Picnic at Lake Kegonsa when we had no way to get there. He stayed around all day and saw us safely home.
The Ray Boys. “Two middle-ages bachelors lived on the Square for a time and owned some farm land outside the village. They worked their farm with a pair of mules which made them somewhat unique. They were unique in some other respects also, as they became the butt of numerous practical jokes on the part of village boys. Actually, they were very decent men and considerate of their neighbors. The boys really liked them and would go over and visit with them in the evening. However, this did not preclude their pranks on those unsuspecting old bachelors.
“One night, the boys—my two younger brothers, Wayne and Willie included—managed to get the mules out of the barn and change their color from brown to white by administering liberal coats of whitewash. Then Wayne and another boy went out to call upon the Ray brothers who were sitting on their front porch. The other boys had been delegated to hitch up the mules and drive them by the Ray home. As they came in sight, one of the Ray brothers remarked with some surprise: “Other folks have mules as well as we.” This simple yarn was repeated over and again in Cooksville, and almost became a folk legend.”
Edward Gilley. “Edward Gilley [1811-1897, ed.] came to Porter Township from England in 1843…He owned a good farm just east of Cooksville. “Uncle” Edward, never having married, the property was left to nieces and nephews, none of whom cared for farming, and the place became somewhat run down in later years.
“Mrs. Newell kept careful account of her neighbors, and often watched from behind closed blinds. One could easily detect her profile, and on one occasion a Stoughton boy friend who called upon me doffed his hat most gallantly and made an elaborate bow in the direction of Mrs. Newell’s window. We were neither surprised nor disappointed to see the apparition behind the blinds disappear at once.”
The Savage Family. “Julius [1843?-1905, ed.] and Electa [1845-1927, ed.] Savage lived in the corner brick house [Duncan house, ed.]. They also lived in the Hoxie House at one time. There were two children: Paul, and Avis who was my best friend. Avis later married Edson Brown and lived on a farm in Center Township, Rock County. I remember very little about son Paul.
|Avis and Paul Savage|
Thanks for the memories, Lillian....
|Lillian Graves Smith|