GrandPapa's Letter part 27
Most of the Law Offices, in fact all of them I think, were warmed by wood burning stoves, and one of the pleasures of the day was toting wood up stairs, and building fires in the morning, with the thermometer down to zero, and green kindling wood: is there any one among you who does not know what a temptation such things were to the use of LANGUAGE??
The offices were generally carpeted if at all, with a coarse matting, and by the time Spring came, the deposit of the dust and dirt from many feet, would have raised the carpet an inch or two from the floor, filling the spaces with a very fine quality of free soil, and you were fortunate if the front door had not rubbed a sizeable hole through the carpet, and so provided for the free and unlimited circulation of dust whenever the door was opened.
A few short bits of street were paved with cobble etones, over which great long unwieldy one horse drays passed, with the sound of approaching thunder, and the cabs, of which there were two or three only, jolted and jostled their unlucky occupants to the point of distraction; of course it is impossible to convey any idea of the difference the use of the telephone has made in business circles, to one who can not remember that if he wished to speak to his friend across the city, or to interview his butcher, his baker or his candlestick maker, it meant a long walk instead of pressing a button.
Many of our trips into the country were of necessity made by boat, or by private conveyances, and sometimes such trips were full of pleasures unknown to those who enjoy all the modern conveniences, and make a trip in one day which then consumed a week or more. Many pleasant acquaintances were formed, and friendships entered into on such trips, many stories were told of the journeys of lawyers from town to town in attendance on the courts in distant counties.
I made the acquaintance of the late D. G. Hooker when we went together In a private carriage to attend court In a northern town, and can never forget the astonishment with which I saw him deliberately turn the pillow case upon which he had rested his head over night, in a hotel on the way home so as to leave the other side out, asking his reason for 80 doing, he replied, with well simulated surprise, "Why, don't you do that ??? I am coming here again next Fall, and then I will cum It back, and so have a pillow case which nobody else will have used. "
1855 and 1856 were prosperous years all through the country. Wild Cat money as the bills issued by hundreds of fake banks all over the United States was called; and which so soon thereafter brought riots and distress to our people, was current and plentiful, and as a consequence speculation was rife, and a great deal of building was going on, and property was changing hands in every part of the city and country: I can not fix dates exactly but it was just about this time that the new Post Office Building (now destroyed and Its place occupied by the almost completed WELLS BUILDING,) which we had long clamored for, was erected, where until then stood the Fire Engine House of No. 1. ; and the Newhall House long the pride and glory of the city began to loom up where the New Insurance Building now stands, and where it stood, the finest hotel in the North West, until that fateful day on which it, with a host of patrons and employees was destroyed by fire. Kneeland, Newhall, Bradley, Weeks, Hibbards, Nichols Ilisley and others erected mansions which still adorn the city at this time, and then too David P. Hull, of the Firm of Hull Janes & Co. Bankers &c. commenced the erection of the house on the lake shore, at the head of Division Street, (now Juneau Avenue, ) the building of which was stopped by the panic, and which was afterwards completed and for years occupied by the Protestant Orphan Asylum, and finally became my homestead.
But these times were "too good to last, " and mid-summer of 1857 found the whole country in very great financial distress; Building operations stopped and a great majority of our people were put to their trumps to keep body and soul together: This and the following years were marked by a great revival of religion, and MILWAUKEE in common with the rest of the country was swept by such a wave of feeling and ferver as comes but once in a century; For many weeks morning, noon and night meetings for prayer and praise were held in all the churches as well as In many private and public halls, and much good and some harm was doubtless done at some of them.
I was quite a regular attendant of some of these meetings, as indeed most of the young men about town were; but so far as I know, no other one had such a misfortune attended him as it was my fate to encounter at a large and fully attended meeting, held one noon in Albany Hall, a down town theater; whither I had gone, carrying in my coat tail pocket a small music box, intended as a present for one of my friends; for, while Sherman M. Booth, a well known citizen was on his feet declaring his intention to henceforth lead a better life some unconscious movement on my part started the music box into playing the then popular tune of "Pop goes the weazil, ' and it was in the greatest confusion and dismay that I joined all my neighbors in looking around for the spot from which the very inappropriate, Appropriate sounds proceeded; Fortunately for me, the Music Box was nearly run down, and ceased its impertinence before its location was discovered.
And now my dear old friends and associates of the Club, apologizing again for the time I have consummed in attempting to aid you once more in Imagination to visit the scenes and friends of "old lang syne, " I thank you for the courtesies extended to me, and most sincerely and lovingly wish to you and to each of you and your as well as to all OLD SETTLERS a very quiet and happy
Frank B. Van Valkenburgh
GOLDEN WEDDING ANNIVERSARY OF JACOB AND MARY BETHIA VAN VALKENBURGH* SPRING OF 1870 at the home of FRANKLIN BUTLER VAN VALKENBURGH
Left to right by couples:
GERRITT SMITH VAN VALKENBURGH MARY HAL TISDALE VAN VALKENBURGH, FRANKLIN BUTLER VAN VALKENBURGH EMILINE PRATT VAN VALKENBURGH, MARY VAN VALKENBURGH VOORHIES (standing) HARRISON VOORHIES (standing), ANNA SHOYER VAN VALKENBURGH (seated) ROBERT BRUCE VAN VALKENBURGH (standing), GERTRUDE VAN VALKENBURGH WALDO (standing) OTIS H. WALDO (standing), KATE VAN VALKENBURGH HAVEN (seated) CHARLES D. HAVEN, BARTHOLOMEW J. VAN VALKENBURGH CLEMENTINE SMITH VAN VALKENBURGH, ROSELLA E. SMITH VAN VALKENBURGH EDWARD PORTER VAN VALKENBURGH (seated)
Photo courtesy of Mrs. S. Ray West, Pine Bluff, Arkansas