GrandPapa's Letter part 22
I was a "fairly healthy boy," although until about twenty years of age, not a very strong one, and that fact doubtless had much to do with the other fact, that I was much at home and very fond of reading.
When I was about two years of age Father purchased a span of horses off a farmer near the village, and on his first trial of them he took the family for a pleasure ride. While passing over a bridge on the farm of the man from whom he had purchased the team, that person who had raised and trained the horses happened to be ploughing with another team near the road, and called to his horses to "BACK" Fathers team, recognizing his voice BACKED off the bridge, despite the efforts of their driver to prevent them, and the whole load, consisting of Father, Mother, Lydia, with Gerrit in her lap, and Kate with Frank in her lap, were thrown to the ground. Luckily for the rest of the crowd, I only, was seriously injured. My leg was broken, and I was carried in arms for a long time thereafter. From the day of the accident I was always called "Kate's Baby, " and I received from her, from that day to the day of her death all the love and care a devoted mother could have given.
GERRIT SMITH VAN VALKENBURGH with daughter MARY EMILY VAN VALKENBURGH.
Gerrit and I were thin skinned, red headed, freckled faced boys, always called RED HEAD, or Carrot Top, or Turkeys Eggs, in derision, and Ger. who was much more inclined to beligerency than I, once set out to whip every boy who persisted in calling him "names, " but he soon discovered that to do so he must thrash every boy in the village, and gave it up as a bad job.
Now I have written how the first thirteen years of my life were spent: I left my Father's House for good, and went to BATH, twenty miles from home, to live with my oldest brother, Robert, and his dear little wife, Kate Rumsey, in the Pall of 1847, and there I lived, caring for the Law Office of Rumsey and Van Valkenburgh, studying at times, and copying papers until the Summer of 1849, when I removed to "Oakley," as Father's Farm in Highland, Oakland County Michigan, was named, to rejoin the family circle: There I found Father; Mother; David; Jacob; Mary; Gerrit; and Edward in possession of a farm of about a thousand acres of land mostly Prairie and Oak Openings and on the borders of two beautiful lakes, and there I spent two pleasant hard working and uneventful years, and then, mainly because the work was too hard for me, and I could not do as much as Gerrit could, and would not be content to do less, I went into the country store and Post Office kept by Williard Arms, at WHITE LAKE a village about three miles from Oakley, where we received our mail, and went to Church and there I remained a couple of years, at the termination of which I removed to NORWALK, Ohio where I performed the services required of a Printer's Devil, in the Office of the NORWALK EXPERIMENT, a Democratic News paper, owned and run by Joseph Farr, the husband of my Cousin Lizzie Higgins, for one year. From there I went again, in November 1853, to Bath, and studied law in the office of Rumsey and Van Valkenburgh, and incidentally published the BATES EXPERIMENT, which you can find in my library.