SUNBONNET DAYS - CHAPTER XIX - APPROACHING THE LAST DIVIDE
By the early 1880's pioneer days were over. Our fruit orchards were in full bearing, and marauding beasts were so reduced in numbers that chicken raising had lost much of its early hazard. We harvested apples by the wagon loads, and gathered eggs by the gross. At about that same time, the age of improvements in farm machinery was in full career. Wheat drills were taking the place of broadcast sowing. The binder was sending the harvester to the scrap iron heap.
Even in the house a change was taking place. My first important household improvement was a sewing machine and it came seven years before the fabulous eighties. Christian brought it home as a surprise for me on our twelfth wedding anniversary. It cost sixty dollars. One of my neighbors was so shocked at my husband's extravagance that she told me bluntly that we could not afford it. I mollified her by inviting her to do her sewing on my machine. She was not slow to accept my invitation, and others of my neighbors did likewise. While sixty dollars was a large sum to pay for a machine which accomplished nothing but the lightening of woman's toil, yet my husband was able to pay for it from the profits he made that year from an unusually bounteous corn crop. The machine was operated by a foot treadle, which sent the shuttle and needle flying with such speed that it finished in a minute a seam that by hand labor would have taken an hour. Little did I imagine that the day would come when women would regard the foot treadles as too laborious, and would replace them with motors.
The eighties brought still another change in our life. One of our neighbor boys went away to college and Henry wanted to go with him. Christian favored college, but did not see how we could afford it. Yet when Henry proposed that he would earn his board and room if only he had enough money to pay his railroad fare and his tuition, Christian sold a steer and sent him. One by one the other children went away to schools of higher learning, until 1907, when our youngest followed the others. As Christian was too advanced in years to do the farm work, we sold the place which had been our home for thirty-five years and moved to Wichita where several of our children were making their homes, and where two of our sons were attending Fairmount College.
There my husband died in 1919 at the age of ninety-one. My husband's brothers and sisters are gone, as is my brother Fred. My father, who spent his last years with us, died at Fairview. I, too, am nearing the end of the trail. In 1922 I was stricken blind, but otherwise have retained my faculties. I sew and in other ways keep myself busy, and am entertained by my children, grandchildren, and friends who read to me. On Sundays I go to Sunday School and church and on Wednesday evenings to prayer meeting. I enjoy this life and have many friends here. I have seven living children, twenty-three grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren; but on the other side are many waiting, whom I will gladly join when the summons comes.