Monday, January 18, 2010

Transcription Monday: A Mighty Mott Memoir, Part 2

This entry covers the last part of page 1 through the bottom part of page 3 and ends the "Reminiscence of New Jersey" section. 

"The first particular event I recall (I must have been about five years old) [so, around 1840] our mother told us Papa was coming.  I did not remember him and was very curious about this Papa.  We were dressed carefully and told we must keep nice and clean to see him.  When he arrived I was rather afraid of him and stood at the other side of the room and watched him until I made up my mind he was harmless and brought him a little cup filled with sugar and water for tea.  He caught me and put me on his knee and talked to me so kindly I was not afraid anymore.

Everything seems hazy after this until I find myself in New York at my Grandmother's house with my Father and Mother and some people who were strange to me.  I suppose they were my Aunts.  My Father and Mother were going to the theater and intended to take Evy.  My mother said I was too young and little, but I wanted to go and cried and begged so hard my Father said I could go so my Mother dressed me.  We went in a carriage which I thought very fine. I did not understand much about the performance but I was delighted with the scenery and costumes.

One day our Father told us to come see the new baby.  There in a bed was a beautiful creature with brown curls and red cheeks, its eyes were shut as if asleep, when father put his hand on it, it's eyes opened, they were a beautiful blue.  Father picked it up, I saw it was a large doll with a wax head and real hair.  I was perfectly delighted with it and as the others did not care much about it our mother gave it to me.  It was the only doll I ever had, I loved it dearly, it seemed more like a companion and friend than a doll.  When I was lonely and unhappy after Mother left us I used to sit with her in my arms and she seemed a living thing that understood and comforted me.  When we were going to Mexico I dressed her in new clothes and she was packed in one of the chests.  When we arrived at Honolulu I gave her to Matilda [Estrella's sister].

I do not remember anything that happened during our Father's visit to New York very distinctly except going one evening in a carriage for what seemed to me a long distance.  We stopped at a house and went in.  There was a room with a table set for tea and by the table in a big arm chair sat an old lady and what impressed me most of all, she was eating lumps of sugar out of the sugar bowl.  There was a little boy who hid under the table and peeked out at me.  I thought him very queer. I did not know then this place was Bloomingdale [as an aside, Mott Street, also in Manhattan, is named for the family.  Today it is in the Chinatown neighborhood and was imortalized in the Rodgers and Hart song "Manhattan." The Roses also left a mark on Manhattan, the Joseph Rose House on Water St. is one of the oldest in the borough] and the old lady was my Great Grandmother, Anne [Coles] Mott.  She was very old and childish.  Afterwards I heard many stories about her.  She imagined people were hiding from the British in the trees and were hungry.  She would leave pieces of bread on the ground under a tree that they might find them when they came down.  She was a young girl at the time of the Revolution and had often helped the American prisoners [at Sugar House] and in her old age she still thought of them.  The little boy was James Cornell, a connection of the Bloomingdale Motts.  I met him again when I was older.

The next thing I remember is my Father bidding us good-bye when he was going to sea again.  Though she did not know it, that was the last time his Mother ever saw him.  He settled in Mazatlan and never saw New York again.

Our Mother took us back to New Jersey and everything seemed indistinct until one night I was awakened by some noise in my mother's room.  Fanny and I slept in a room next to her's.  I called and strange women came in who said Mother was sick so I must not disturb her, but I had a nice little baby brother and if I was a good girl I might see him in the morning.  I was very much surprised and pleased.  I felt quite proud of having a brother.  I had two sisters but a brother was something new.  When her was old enough to notice and begin to play I was very fond of him. [This brother was George William S(mith?) Mott, born in 1840]

As I grew older I understood more of what people around me said.  One day I heard my Mother and Uncle George talking about a letter that had arrived.  It spoke of somebody named Charlotte and Mr. Holly.  I thought from the way they spoke that there had been a quarrel and it was Mr. Holly's fault.  I had the impression that he was a very bad man like the villains in the books I had read, I asked my Mother who Charlotte was and she said she was her sister and Mr. Holly was her husband.  The letter must have asked for a reconciliation for not long afterwards our Mother told us that Aunt and Uncle Holly were coming to visit us.  I was rather startled at the idea of the wicked Mr. Holly coming. When they arrived I was surprised to see a pleasant gentleman with curly light hair who told funny stories and did not look fierce and wicked.  Fortunately I did not tell any one of the opinion I had formed of him.

How little I knew when I heard about that letter what an influence it would have upon my future life.  If my Mother had not become reconciled with her sister we would not have spent that vacation at the Holly's farm where I became acquainted with the man who was to be my husband so many years afterwards.

One incident that happened before we left New Jersey is impressed very strongly on my mind.  When I was about seven years old, cousin Evy Feeks was staying with us for awhile.  One day our Mother said we could go with Evy to the beach.  We were within walking distance of the sea and liked to dig in the clean white sand,  We hoped to find Captain Kidd's treasure which was supposed to be buried on that beach [this makes me think that the family lived in the Raritan Bay area] but our mother would not let us go there without some older person.  When we were coming home we went through a field where some cows were grazing.  One of them stared at us in a suspicious way and when little Fanny shook a stick at her, started towards us.  Emmy [I think Emmy is the Evy Feeks mentioned earlier] and Evy each grasped one of Fanny's hands and ran, they were soon far ahead of me though I tried desperately to keep up.  I heard the cow, now really angry, coming after me.  I could hardly breathe and was almost in dispair when I came to a fence that crossed the field.  The older girls had climbed over and pulled Fanny after them but the fence was too high for me and I had no time to try for the cow was close behind.  Fortunately the lower bar was a slight distance from the ground so I lay down and crawled under.  I had hardly got through when the cow came up to the fence where she stood pawing the ground and bellowing.  It is no wonder that I have been afraid of cow ever since.

I do not remember anything else until our Mother was ready to sail on the long voyage to Mexico.  We came to my Grandmother's house in New York and in a few days she left us.  I can still recall that day as if it were yesterday.  It was early in the morning.  She told me I need not get up but I dressed myself and went down stairs.  After breakfast Uncle George came with a carriage and my Mother, Fanny and my little brother were driven away.  When I realized they were gone I felt quite forsaken and though my Grandmother tried to stop me I ran upstairs and cried by myself.  For some while I felt lonely and unhappy.  My relations were almost all strangers to me, I had seen them once or twice before but I was so little then I did not remember them very well.  Evy was four years older and so tall for her age she seemed to me quite gown up.  Not only did I miss my Mother and Fanny, I was homesick for the farm and the wide out door.  There was only a small back yard now for me to play in, with a grass plot and a few plants, that I was not allowed to touch and I wandered there feeling like a little prisoner.

To my great joy my Grandmother had some reason to see Uncle George and took us back to New Jersey for awhile, but the place did not seem the same without my Mother and Fanny.  I found a kitten that I amused myself with but I was ill with the chicken pox and had to stay in bed until it was time to return to New York.  I was sorry to leave the kitten and my Grandmother said I might take it with me.  I carried it in a basket and brought it home safely.  It grew to be a large and handsome cat and a pet of the whole family.

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