I loved that baby sister and I will never forget how brave my mother was and how when carried a situation in such a way that although I was terribly frightened, yet deep in my heart I felt Mother would take care of her baby.
It was late in March 1897. We still had some snow on the ground but not much. The ground was frozen rather hard. In other words it was a real cold, raw March evening - one when the wind and cold sifted through every nook and crannie. It was about 5:30 P.M. Everyone was busy doing chores - bringing in wood - milking - getting supper - watching the baby (who was not feeling well).
It was a time when we had a telephone - that is the shop had a phone, and when we wanted to call central, we would call the shop and they could turn the switch so we could call central. When Dad came home in the evening he would always turn that switch. Service on the telephone was only until midnight.
As I have said it was 5:30 PM when a knock sounded on the front door (sitting room) and before Mother could open it a man pushed his way inside. He asked if he could stay overnight. Mother said she had no extra room, that there were 10 children besides herself and her husband. The man said he was very tired, that he had walked a long way and he said he could sleep on the couch. Mother told him she would give him something to eat but he could not stay overnight. The man said "Do you know Mother Bakehouse"? Mother said, "Yes, she is my own mother". He answered, "Well, she kept me last night and gave me supper and breakfast." Mother answered, "Yes she has lots of room abut I can not keep you overnight". Just then Lura awoke and began to cry. Mother picked her up and cradled her on her lap. The man stood up, his hand in his coat pocket and said, "You know I have a good notion to shoot that baby and then you'd have room for me tonight." How still it was. Mother held her baby tightly in her arms - - pointed to the door and said "get out - in just a minute my husband will be here - you'd better be gone before he comes". The man turned and stumbled to the door. He made his way outside. Mother locked the door and turned out the light - we had electricity. She watched the man as he slowly shuffled down the road, for the walk ended just beyond our front gate.
Well that man went on south of town where Mr. Yates lives now. He forced his way in at that place, but Mr. Childress compelled him to move on. That was the last we heard of him. I can still see my mother - she had kept talking although I know she must have been shaking in her shoes. She knew she didn't dare let her children - I remember Ella, Charley, Mary and I were in that room, near the big wood heater, each one as still as a mouse - feel that she could not make that man get out.
Now well I remember Charley always wishing he had a goat that he could hitch and drive. Just the exact time that Charlie got his goat, Billy, who was a pet in many ways and a great nuisance for all of us, but I believe it was about 1899, just before the new addition was built to the house. He paid one dollar for the goat and chose him from a flock of goats. Mr. Childress, who lived where Mr. Yates now lives.
Charley got up early on e summer morning and went down to Mr. Childress' farm and bought the goat and brought it home. He left the goat in the barnyard and came to the house. He lay down on the couch in the sitting room and when Mother asked where he had been, he said "I have bought a goat of M. Childress and I've put him in the barnyard but I don't feel good and I don't think I can take any more care of it". Mother put her hand on his forehead and said "You have a high fever". Dr. Strawbridge was called and he said is was spinal meningitis. Before night Harry had the same disease. Dr. Schriner was called in also the next day, but both were very ill, but Charley was much the worst. He worried about his new goat. Mother told him she had hired Milo Burke to look after The goat until Charley could take over the care. So for 10 days Milo took care of Billy. What a nuisance that goat was. He soon could open any gate or door, letting him go where he pleased, and wise he was. There never were grapes on the grape wines which were on each side of the walk to the barn. Billy would open the gate and eat the grape blossoms in the spring and later the leaves, but if the kitchen door opened he was back in the barnyard.
That goat ate several sets of harness, whips, straps, etc. If the buggy was left in the barnyard and hot put into the buggy shed the holdback-straps would be eaten. How well I remember one time Charley, Harry Dean Hamilton and Leo Lichty were going camping. They bought some cookies and crackers beside the food they were taking from home. They put the cookies and crackers in the back of the buggy under the boot-jack and each went home to get the rest of his things. Harry and Dean came back first, but when they went to the barn could not find anything of their first packages. When Charley and Leo arrived the first two accused them of taking their where-abouts. Then they looked further and found the door to the shed open and knew that Billy had eaten cookies, crackers, sacks and all. How that goat loved to come in the house-yard, slip around to the back of the house where Mother kept her special potted flowers on flower stand. Billy could pick and eat just the blossoms, but as he was not careful in picking, the plant and pot many times suffered.
Charley made a harness and hitched Billy to a wagon (that was like a farm wagon) and the goat worked quite well.
On the fourth of July 1901, Charley drove Billy in the parade. It was a very, very hot day and the goat got very warm. Dad helped Charley get the goat home after the parade. Dad pumped fresh water for the cows and pumped a fresh bucket full for Billy, but Billy, that wise one, went and lay down in the shade and didn't drink until he had cooled off.
Billy became quite a pet in the neighborhood although most children just wanted to look at him. If they came close he would put his head down and if he would butt.
George's children loved him and they drove him some.
I don't know if Billy thought he was a cow or not, but he always went to pasture with the cows and always kept an eye on the cows.
Billy lived to be an old animal, he was still a lively animal in 1914, but I can't remember how old he was when Arthur disposed of him.