M y dad died in the war in 1862; our whole life changed that year. We had 5 acres and a small two room house. We have been living in New York, but now we could not afford the rent. My dad's mare was in a stable but we had to take her out to our farm; we could not afford the stable. Mother told me that we would have to sell her before winter because we could not buy her feed. I loved that mare and I really wanted to hold onto her. I was twelve that year and I could feel the difference. My mother tried to find work and occasionally she would find some sewing. My mother was twenty-eight and very pretty. Other women did not want her around. My uncle wrote to us several times saying he wanted my dad's mare. He offered one hundred dollars for her. My mother told me that she was worth three hundred. She was a prize thoroughbred and would soon have a colt.
My mother wrote to my uncle and told him that she could send me with the mare and I could stay in Ohio with him. She would sell our property and then she could go back to New York to work, where she said that she had an offer. My uncle wrote back saying that he would take care of me if he got the mare and two hundred dollars. I would of course have to help on the farm. I could stay until I was fifteen years old. It sounded like he wanted the horse and our property too. My mother cried a lot and kept trying to get work, so we could have food. She put the property up for sale. Two weeks later someone gave us an offer. She told me the offer was three hundred and fifty dollars and she accepted. We had one month to stay in the house. My mother decided that I would have to go to my uncle's. She went and bought some material and made me some new clothes. She bought me a warm coat, a pair of boots, and just about everything I needed. She made everything a size larger so I would have time to grow into everything. She spent over fifty dollars on me. The trip to Dayton would cost twenty-two dollars with the mare.
By now, I had a strange feeling about my uncle and I really did not want to go to him. I did not want to lose Elsie, our mare. Mother said that he would probably sell her and make a profit. Mother started to ride the train to New York and would stay three days at a time. When our time was getting close, I packed dad's old saddlebag and made me a big blanket roll and I put my overcoat inside it. I saddled up Elsie. I took my rabbit gun and fifty dollars from mother's money. I wrote mother a letter telling her that I was not going to my uncle's, instead I was going west. I told her not to worry about me and I would get by. I rode Elsie out of there and I headed south west. I took some sausage and bread with me. I figured it would last me a couple of days. I had a small skillet and salt so I could cook up some rabbits.
That first night, I went off the road a ways and I slept in some trees with Elsie close by. I did not sleep much. I was thinking that I would probably stay off the roads. I would just head cross country. I missed my mother and I wished that she was there with me.
In the morning, I let Elsie graze while I ate a little sausage and bread. I had my gun handy just in case I saw a rabbit. I had no luck, so I saddled up and headed southwest. There were farms all over the place. I did not know where we were, other than New Jersey. I also knew to the west was Pennsylvania. That evening, I stopped by a creek. Again I ate a little, hoping to get a rabbit in the morning. Elsie had some good grass. At dawn, I heard some people so I saddled up fast, rolled up my blankets, and rode out of there heading toward some trees.
Eventually I stopped and ate the rest of my sausage and bread and then I began to seriously hunt. Toward evening I got a rabbit. I got back on my horse and found a camping spot. I took the saddle off and made a fire. I had no fat, so I put a stic