Half a Century eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 294 pages of information about Half a Century.

“Oh see!” as a great tree came crashing down across the path before us, and so near that it must have fallen on us if he had not seen it and stepped back.  Even then he refused to go home without the cow, and taking up a daddy-long-legs, he inquired of it where she was, and started in the direction indicated, when we were arrested by the voice of Big Jane, who had come to search for us.

On reaching home, we found a new baby-sister, Elizabeth.  Soon after her birth, in April, 1821, father moved back to Pittsburg, and lived on Sixth street, opposite Trinity Church, on property belonging to my maternal grandfather.  There was no church there at that time, but a thickly peopled graveyard, which adjoined that of the First Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Sixth and Wood.  These were above the level of the street, and were protected by a worm-fence that ran along the top of a green bank on which we played and gathered flowers.

Grandmother took me sometimes to walk in these graveyards at night, and there talked to me about God and heaven and the angels.  I was sufficiently interested in these, but especially longed to see the ghosts, and often went to look for them.  We had a bachelor uncle who delighted in telling us tales of the supernatural, and he peopled these graveyards with ghosts, in which I believed as implicitly as in the Revelations made to John on the Isle of Patmos, which were my favorite literature.

When the congregation concluded to abandon the “Round Church,” which stood on the triangle between Liberty, Wood and Sixth streets, and began to dig for a foundation for Trinity, where it now stands, there was great desecration of graves.  One day a thrill of excitement and stream of talk ran through the neighborhood, about a Mrs. Cooper, whose body had been buried three years, and was found in a wonderful state of preservation, when the coffin was laid open by the diggers.  It was left that the friends might remove it, and that night I felt would be the time for ghosts.  So I went over alone, and while I crouched by the open grave, peering in, a cloud passed, and the moon poured down a flood of light, by which I could see the quiet sleeper, with folded hands, taking her last, long rest.

It was inexpressibly grand, solemn and sad.  There were no gaslights, no paved street near, no one stirring.  Earth was far away and heaven near at hand, but no ghost came, and I went home disappointed.  Afterwards I had a still more disheartening adventure.

I had gone an errand to cousin Alexander’s, on Fifth street, stayed late, and coming home, found Wood street deserted.  The moon shone brightly, but on the graveyard side were heavy shadows, except in the open space opposite the church.  I was on the other side, and there was the office of the Democratic paper, and over the door the motto “Our country, right or wrong.”  This had long appeared to be an uncanny spot, owing to the wickedness of this sentiment, and I was thinking of the possibility of seeing Auld Nick guarding his property, when my attention was attracted to a tall, white figure in the bright moonlight, outside the graveyard fence.

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Half a Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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