April A to Z Challenge: Glancing out the Window

Welcome to the April A to Z Blogging Challenge! This year my contribution is the story of my great grandmother Alzina. She lived in the style of “Little House on the Prairie”and kept a record of her life through letters to family and her own journals. I find her story fascinating and intriguing. Each post will start (sometimes strangely) with a consecutive letter of the alphabet, just because they have to. My hope is that we can “catch” some of her courage to help us face challenges in our present times.

The Mad Dog Story, Part 4`

By Sarah (Sadie) Pomeroy Postlewait

There were no rabies vaccines in those days so when a rabid animal showed up in the area, the after shocks went on for a long time affecting farm animals and pets – and scaring children.

Around 1889

Glancing out the window of the schoolhouse, one day the next spring, I saw our neighbor’s dog out by the hedge fence. The teacher had already dismissed the two lower grades and let them start walking for home. Just then I remembered hearing my parents talking at the supper table the evening before. They said Merdicks had tied their dog up because it was acting strangely. They thought a lot of that dog.

When I saw Merdick’s dog out there I wondered if he was all right and had been turned loose, or had he broken loose and was he a dangerous dog! The dog went up the road and I was almost frantic for I knew my little brother Wilbur, had not had time to get home. I held up my hand to attract the teacher’s attention but for some reason she paid no attention to my hand. I felt almost desperate for I could think of only the worst. My feelings were a bit calmed as I saw a man in a wagon driving past the school house, going in that same direction. I hoped he would overtake the children if there was really any danger.

As soon as school was out, I hurriedly gathered up my books and dinner pail and started for home. I had told some of the others about the dog. When we got into the road we could see that the man in the wagon was driving very slowly and was crowding over near the fence. Then before he had gone very far, the man drove on, going very fast.

As we neared our home we saw my mother and Mrs. Merdick motioning us to come quickly. We all came running. They told us the dog had been having a fit and broken loose so Mrs. Merdick had followed at a distance to give warning to anyone she might meet. The man in the wagon told them he had seen the dog at the edge of the road in a real fit and had to drive near the fence to get around it. He said the dog jumped up and went through the fence on the other side of the road.

I asked about Wilbur and Mother said he got home ahead of that wagon. They had sent the children into the house. I went in with tears of joy. I clasped Wilbur in my arms and told him how frightened I had been. He said, “I guess Jesus was just taking care of me.”

Of course kind neighbors were ready to assist in taking care of the mad dog since the Merdick men folks were away from home.

And where was Alzina when all this was happening? Wilbur in this story was born in 1884 so by the time he was old enough to be in school, probably age 5 or 6, Alzie would have been 18 or 19 and was most likely at her teaching job in a neighboring school. We’ll be getting back to her in the next post.

April A to Z Challenge: Eager Children with Weapons

Welcome to the April A to Z Blogging Challenge! This year my contribution is the story of my great grandmother Alzina. She lived in the style of “Little House on the Prairie”and kept a record of her life through letters to family and her own journals. I find her story fascinating and intriguing. Each post will start (sometimes strangely) with a consecutive letter of the alphabet, just because they have to. My hope is that we can “catch” some of her courage to help us face challenges in our present times.

Eager children armed with weapons confront a mad dog… What could possibly go wrong?

The Mad Dog Story, Part 2

By Sarah (Sadie) Pomeroy Postlewait

(Previously, the boys playing ball notice an animal under the schoolhouse and think it is a rabbit. They investigate.)

All the boys came running, one bringing a board with which to hit it. They put the board in the hole and lo, a dog came near and began biting at it! Immediately the boy dropped the board and yelled, “Mad dog!” And we all tumbled into the schoolhouse in a hurry.

The teacher used great wisdom and locked the door. The older ones raised a window and saw the dog lying in a fit by the side of the house. The teacher sent two big boys, who were young men, across a field to get a gun. After a while the dog got up and went around the house to the coal shed and there he had another fit. We smaller scholars were glad the dog had moved where we could watch it too. It was all so exciting that we could hardly realize the danger we had been in. When the big boys came back, the dog was curled up and they lost no time shooting him twice. The boys came in and the teacher locked the door again.

After a while someone looked out and announced the dog was not dead. The teacher let the big boys out again. This time they ventured a little nearer by walking along the hitch rack. Just as they aimed the gun, the dog sprang into the air but their shot brought him to the ground. This time they rand and got the ball bat and knocked him in the head until they were sure he would never come to life again.

There was no more school that day for us. Each of us went home to tell our parents the thrilling story. However, awful things had only begun to happen. My father killed poor Carlo, and every dog in the neighborhood was tied up or killed within the next few days.

A number of cows and hogs, and perhaps some horses showed the presence of hydrophobia in the days that followed. Occasionally a new mad dog was heard of, but a suspicious looking dog could not exist very long in that part of the country after that.

Some time after this Cherry, one of our best milk cows, went mad. They went out to milk one morning and found her running here and there bellowing constantly. Father and the hired man and older children managed to run her into a small yard where they could get a strong rope over her head and tie her closely. When Father and Alzie came near she would bellow so pitifully, but when strangers came she would paw the ground and lunge at the fence. Before night they had to shoot her. Of course Mother emptied out all the milk we had on hand, for we had been milking Cherry right along. Some months later another valuable cow went mad. (Continued in Part 3, next post)

April A to Z Challenge: Dogs and Animals

Welcome to the April A to Z Blogging Challenge! This year my contribution is the story of my great grandmother Alzina. She lived in the style of “Little House on the Prairie”and kept a record of her life through letters to family and her own journals. I find her story fascinating and intriguing. Each post will start (sometimes strangely) with a consecutive letter of the alphabet, just because they have to. My hope is that we can “catch” some of her courage to help us face challenges in our present times.

Dogs. Dogs and animals were a great asset in pioneer days. Most families had a dog around the farm for protection, and as a companion, but these animals were part of the work force, not necessarily pets. They were not fed manufactured food and taken to the groomer. They were not even allowed in the house.

The next few stories are about some of those animals that belonged to the Pomeroy family when my great grandmother Alzina was a child. Her sisters Sadie and Emma were writers and told the stories well so I will not rewrite what doesn’t need to be rewritten.

The Mad Dog Story

By Sarah (Sadie) Pomeroy Postlewait

When I (Sadie) was a child, our neighborhood was visited by a mad dog. By neighborhood I mean exactly that, for it seemed in one night’s time, every farmyard was visited by this creature. Cattle, horses, and hogs as well as dogs were bitten by him, while chickens and geese were greatly disturbed, and a number of them killed by this rabid beast.

I shall never forget that dark, cold night in the dead of winter when we were awakened by some dog fighting our dog Carlo. They were going round and round the house with poor Carlo yelping at a great rate. Carlo had two little pups in a box in the coal shed, which was a lean-to built against the north side of the house. Father went to the door and called, “Carlo, Carlo!” As the dogs came near Father opened the shed door and went back to bed. But soon he heard Carlo barking and whining again so pitifully. He again went to the door. As the light from the lamp shone out, he saw this strange dog run away. It was not Carlo at all.

Again Father began to call Carlo, and going out to the shed, he found both puppies nearly chewed up. One was dead and the other barely alive. He brought the box into the kitchen. The strange dog came near the door but seemed to be dazed by the light. Father kicked the dog aside and it ran away. Soon Carlo came in answer to his call and he turned her into the kitchen also and shut the door, never dreaming that the visiting dog was a mad dog.

The following morning is indelibly stamped on my memory. As we reached the road on our way to school, we saw the Gardner children and they waited for us. Then we saw the Ellsworth children coming behind, and we waited for them. All were very talkative concerning a strange dog that had made great disturbance around the houses and yards the night before.

At recess the older boys ran out to play town ball, while we children played around in the school yard. Almost everybody had been telling dog stories, and some children declared their papa believed it was a mad dog. This added new thrill to our stories but I was sure it was not so, for my papa did not say so!

The ball game was going fine and the first runner was standing on third base, just ready to make his home run, when he heard a noise under the house, for third base was at the southeast corner of the schoolhouse. One stone was out of the foundation, so he stooped down and looked under. It was too dark to distinguish what was under there, so he called out, “Oh boys, there’s a rabbit under here!” All the boys came running, one bringing a board with which to hit it. They put the board in the hole and… (Continued in the next post!)