Of my great grandies Grandpa Pulford was my favorite because he talked to me. He told me about his childhood in England when he’d sit on the pier waiting for his father to come home. My Great great Grandfather was a seaman aboard a sailing vessel and his coming home was always a joyous time for little Thomas. He’d bring presents from the “New World” and tell them all about that magical place.
One day he took the whole family on the ship across the ocean from England to the land of America. The voyage was rough but they stayed a while in Connecticut and then headed west where he got a homestead in Minnesota from the government and began to work the land. My Great Grandpa Pulford was only eight then but when he got older he learned how to cut down trees and pull out the stumps with oxen. He had a team of six oxen and it became his business to do this for others too.
He also used his oxen to haul supplies to and from La Crosse, Wisconsin for people. Then he married Liza Reese and they began to have a family. They lived in Wykoff Minnesota. My Grandma Hahn was one of his daughters. I remember her very well. She was a Methodist and was my Sunday School teacher. I learned the books of the Bible from Grandma Hahn and read the New Testament.
We’d go to special holiday gatherings at the Pulfords where my Aunt Matie lived with Great Grandpa and Grandma Pulford in their old age. I don’t remember much about Great Grandma Eliza. Only when we came and left did I get close to her and give her an obligatory kiss. The rest of the time she was busy talking with the women in the family.
Great Grandpa Pulford would receive White Owl cigars from the men in the family and I don’t remember him without a cigar in his hand smoking it gently. After a while the menfolk would go off by themselves and talk leaving him alone. He’d sit staring into space because he was blind and I’d go over to stand beside him. He’d push his footstool over my way and invite me to sit down on it. He seemed so happy to have my company and would tell me about his childhood and their coming to the New World after he’d asked me about myself. “How old are you now, Joycie?”and what grade in school are you?”
I learned later that his mother had met his father aboard one of the sailing ships belonging to her father when she was on a voyage with her mother. They were secretly married by the Captain of the ship much to the displeasure of her parents when they found it out. When she would not hear of getting divorced or having the marriage annulled they threatened to disown her and she would not receive any inheritance. This didn’t change her mind and she left home to live with her husband. They had several children. Grandpa Pulford was their youngest boy.
He told me about the time he ran away from home to join the Union Army during the Civil War. He had not gotten far however before a neighbor picked him up in his wagon and talked him out of it. “You are leaving you mother when she and your father need you
so much?” His older brothers had all gone to war and there was no one to help the father at home but him. The neighbor then turned the wagon around and took him home.
Grandpa Pulford always looked so nice at these family gatherings. He wore high buttoned shoes, a suit with a vest, a white shirt and bow tie. His hair and beard were white and always well combed.I loved him and always sat beside him watching him look out into space and puff on his cigar. He passed away sometime when I was still quite young and I missed him so much.