Rev. Isaiah Niblock, of Butler, Pa., a distant relative and very near friend, asked me to take charge of the Butler Seminary and become his guest. My salary would be twenty-five dollars a month, and this was munificent. Elizabeth went to Pittsburg to school, and I to Butler, where my success was complete and I very happy. Among my pupils were two daughters of my old patron, Judge Braden. One of these, little Nannie, was full of pleasant surprises, and “brought down the house” during examination, by reciting a country girl’s account of her presentation at court, in which occurs this stanza:
“And there the
King and I were standing
Face and face together;
I said, ’How is your Majesty?
It’s mighty pleasant weather!’”
By Nannie’s way of giving the lines, they were so fixed on my memory as to be often mingled with solemn reveries in after years.
Petitions were presented in the Pennsylvania Legislature for the abolition of capital punishment. Senator Sullivan, chairman of the committee to which they were referred, wrote to Mr. Niblock for the scripture view. He was ill and requested me to answer, which I did, and Mr. Sullivan drew liberally from my arguments in his report against granting the petitions. The report was attacked, and I defended it in several letters published in a Butler paper—anonymously—and this was my first appearance in print, except a short letter published by George D. Prentiss, in the Louisville Journal, of which I remember nothing, save the strangeness of seeing my thoughts in print.
SWISSVALE.—AGE, 26, 27.
In April, 1842, my husband took possession of the old home in the valley, and we went there to live. There were large possibilities in the old house, and we soon had a pleasant residence. I had the furniture mother left me, and a small income from her estate. The farm I named “Swissvale,” and such is the name thereof. When the Pennsylvania railroad was built it ran through it, but not in sight of the house, and the station was called for the homestead.
In the summer of ’42 I began to write stories and rhymes, under the nom de plume of “Jennie Deans,” for The Dollar Newspaper and Neal’s Saturday Gazette, both of Philadelphia. Reece C. Fleeson published an anti-slavery weekly in Pittsburg, The Spirit of Liberty, and for this I wrote abolition articles and essays on woman’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. My productions were praised, and my husband was provoked that I did not use my own name. If I were not ashamed of my articles, why not sign them? He had not given up the idea that I should preach. Indeed, he held me accountable for most of the evils in the world, on the ground that I could overthrow them if I would.