This little tale was found with the Clayton Webb journal and was apparently transcribed by my great grandmother, Elizabeth (McGarvey) Heacock in 1904.
A PUMPKIN FLOOD by Ella Guennsey
"I don't like it and Lula Warner refused the bowl of oatmeal and cream brought her by Katie the cook.
Lulu was a convalescent and Mamma Warner was very tender about her little sick girl, Grandma Lane an old and valued friend was taking tea with Mrs. Warner and became weary of Lulu's fault findings and decided she was quite strong enough to improve a bit, I am sorry Jane that you care so little for your husband, Lulu, and myself, as to set as down to a table with nothing edible on it, said Grandma gravely. A scarlet flush flamed into Mrs. Warner's face and Lulu looked indignant, but papa understood it all.
When you think of my great age and poor health and teeth, also my delicate appetite it seems to me I ought to have something better than sloppy tea, dry bread, mushy cake some preserves and bad butter. I'm sure mama tries. "Lulu found out all these things from me, she doesn't want Grandma made ill from eating indigestible things." Lulu's eyes were opened as to the kindly reproof, and she saw herself in just the light Grandma meant she should. With shining eyes, and heightened color she ate in silence the detested oatmeal prescribed by the physician. I must tell Lulu of the pumpkin flood in early times and the privations of the early settlers along the Susquehanna River. Did it rain pumpkins Grandma? asked Lulu wonderingly.
I suppose my father and mother and the older folks thought so when they saw the river full of floating pumpkins. No, it was the result of a long continual autumn rain that swelled the river until it overflowed and swept the harvest not yet gathered from the lowland farms. My oldest sister was fourteen and remembered the flood quite well, Lulu, I was born in 1800 and patience was fifteen years older than myself. Patience told me that the settlers were forty miles from a mill or store and white bread and store teas was indeed a rare treat, but the year of the flood had been one of great and abundant harvest and many hearts were rejoiced, September brought a gentle rain the wheat and corn were in the field and the yield of pumpkins was enormous. For days the rain continued the river grew wider and the farmer's faces lengthened but they never thought of personal danger. One night father drew all the family around him and read aloud the story of the building of the ark and when it came to the raining forty days and mother gave a little sigh and clasped sister Hannah closer. Father went about looking after the stock and poultry covered up the fire and made all safe for the night. The river made a little bend near our house and in the bend was a little fall and mother lay awake a long while listening to the gurgle gurgle of the water and uneasy chipper of the chickens. "At early dawn we were aroused by a messenger riding for life, to warn the settlers that the water was upon them, and them it was that stout hearts worked untiringly. "Your chicken house has gone, and away he rode to the next neighbor.
Patience mourned for her chickens, half of them were her own pets, poor Bossy and Star and Diadem with the calves had been swept away too., and Prince and Scrip were swimming trying to reach father, who whistled to entice them to higher ground. "And wasn't they glad when the poor, tired things did manage to get to father and crouched shivering, at his feet." No use crying over spilt milk, mother the house is bound to go, but trees are plenty and we'll soon have another, too, and help get everything out of it, said father.
All day we watched the house, the water came up to the window sills and it didn't move and they began to hope it would not go. With a stout rope they tied it to a tree, and left it to go to a neighbor's for the night. There was little sleep for any of the head of the families the minister was among the anxious people at farmer Strang's and he read aloud comforting words and cheered the hearts of the discouraged ones amazingly.
Everybody went to father's house and the two saved by the strong stout rope but not quite clear of water, the Susquehanna was full of yellow spots, it had been robbing the cornfields and the pumpkin patches.
"Pumpkins green and yellow, large and small bobbed about and floated down stream. Father made a roaring fire in our log house, and the men and boys went to rescuing pumpkins and everything they could from the river. After that began the hard times: the bread was scarce for the meat they depended upon game and it was boiled pumpkins at morning, noon, and night, until the thought of a pumpkin was orderous.
With brave stout hearts, they worked to better thing and in the winter a farmer prepared a happy surprise by inviting all the settlers to a feast of short cake. He had collected wheat sufficient for one large cake and carried it upon his horse forty miles to mill and his good wife luckily had a little bear's fat to make it short and flaky. Patience said she never should forget the short cake. No Charlotte-musse had never since tasted so good. Lulu, those were days of toil and poverty, but Christian love and fellowship helped one and all to endure them."
Thank you Grandma: we shall remember the pumpkin flood when we are inclined to grumble at what Mama sets before us, I speak for Lulu and myself" said Papa Lulu nodded an assent and Mamma smiled.
From The Pansy
June 4 1904
I finished the Rachel Height book
June 4 1904
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