Memoirs of Caleb Wakefield Lawrence
I believe that Caleb intended to write his life story, but died unexpectedly, in 1939, before he was able to write more than the below. He also started to write anotherautobiography in the form of poetry, called "Humanity. The memoirs below were transcribed by Dorothy Lawrence Smith, May 1989.
On April 25, 1938 Caleb was 70... the a delightful three score years and ten. With a deep sense of gratitude to the bountiful Father of Good, who had led him through many strange difficult, lonely and wonderful ways and experiences, he now stood on a pinnacle of happiness and leisure, from which he could rightly estimate and value the golden harvest of the years.
How wonderful life had been! How great was the good yet to be! How fully had the optimism which had always been a characteristic of his attitude been justified. What heritage of strength and cheer might he bequeath to his children and grandchildren!
Caleb had been born under a lucky star. Perhaps the most fortunate features of this luck were the qualities of body and mind and spirit which he inherited from his New England ancestors.
John Lawrence of Watertown, Massachusetts, was born at Wisset, England in 1609. He came to New England in 1630 and settled at Watertown, moving later to Groton. He was blessed with fifteen children. He died in 1667. Caleb's father, Rev. John Lawrence, was born at Wilton, Maine in 1814. He married Nancy Temple Wakefield, daughter of Caleb Wakefield Esq. of Reading, Massachusetts, and eight children were born to them. He entered Phillips Academy at Andover in 1833, Dartmouth College in 1836, and Andover Theological Seminary in 1840. After teaching several years at Plymouth, N.H. and Springfield, Mass., He was ordained in 1848. He preached at Carlisle, Mass., Salem, N.H., and Wilton, Maine. His great work was the compiling of several editions of the Genealogy of the Family of John Lawrence of Watertown and Groton, Mass. After the death of his wife, from pneumonia, in 1870, Rev. Lawrence suffered very much in health, yet he lived to see his eightieth birthday. Caleb cared for him during the last months of his life, which were painless and peaceful. He died at Elyria, Ohio, where two of his married daughters lived Caleb took his body to St. Johnsbury, Vermont, where it was buried in the beautiful cemetery, near his parents and wife. Rev. Lawrence was a very handsome man, erect, well-proportioned, fine head, and beautiful complexion. He was very well read. He was an excellent teacher. One of his hobbies was astronomy, and Caleb spent many nights with the stars, while nursing him, using Father's beautifully colored star maps as guides.
Caleb's maternal grandfather, Deacon Caleb Wakefield, was born at Reading, Mass., in 1785. Timothy Wakefield, his father, was one of the number who went to fight the British at Concord. Caleb Wakefield did more to shape the interests and lead in financial, educational, moral, and religious development of Reading than any other man. When the meeting house was built in 1817, he fitted the troublesome joints and his work abides to this day. He was a member of this church for 65 years. Just before he died he told his pastor, "Do not praise me, if you make any remarks about me, let them be plain and fair.", (just like the old Deacon), He died in 1876, being a little over ninety. To Caleb, it was an honor to bear his name.
A son and five daughters survived Deacon Wakefield. Nancy Temple married Rev. John Lawrence, and the seventh child born to them was Caleb. As Caleb was only 2 years old when his Mother died, he has no recollection of her. As Caleb was only 2 years old when his Mother died, he has no recollection of her. She was well educated and had artistic tastes. Some of her paintings have been preserved. She was lame; but this did not incapacitate her from being a capable wife and mother. She was happy in her husband, her home & her children. She had a difficult life, for her strength was overtaxed with child—bearing, the hard work of the household and the anxiety of providing for the needs of the home. The photos taken of her between the beautiful bride & the haggard wife of later years is striking. She caught cold soon after the birth of her eighth child & died of pneumonia. Had circumstances been more favorable, had her husband not been so preoccupied with other interests, had financial worry not sapped her strength, she would have lived to a green old age to see some of her children grow to manhood and womanhood. The tragedy of family breakup, the sending of children to relatives & friends, the adoption of the youngest by a wealthy Chicago merchant and his subsequent downfall and early death all would have been avoided. Fortunate for the 4 daughters, they had kind relatives and they were soon married except for one who became a missionary. Father Lawrence kept the oldest son, John, and he was almost equally unfortunate with Henry the youngest.
Father was an impractical man and John had an unhappy and troubled life. The get-rich-quick bug bit him and he undertook many ventures which were open to criticism. His irregular habits yet handsome person were charming to the ladies but he did marry a devoted Canadian lady who put up with his infidelities sometimes violence. He is buried at the Masonic Hall in Utica, NY his wife and brother Caleb the only mourners. “Nature’s inexorable law fortunately prevented him from the privilege of fatherhood”.
The first Child, Mary, was born at Carlisle, Mass, in 1856. She was taken by her Uncle Rev. Hubbard Lawrence of Breckville, Ohio. She was educated at Lake Erie Seminary there and married Willis W. Fay of Elyria. He was an official of the Bridgeport Screw and Tap Co., and prospered. Their home was very comfortable and one child Ralph was born to them. Mary was quite a leader in society of the town, Later Mr. Fay joined a Mr. Perry and the firm of Perry & Fay built a large factory which carried on the same type of work. Mr. Fay lived for many years and died before his wife. Bad judgment led him to keep his son as an attendant so that the brilliant young man had no opportunity to continue in the profession he was fitted for at M.I.T. Mary’s life was happy and unhappy. She was fortunate in having an indulgent, generous husband; but she was very nervous and impatient and her last years were sad ones.
John, the second child, lived only 11 months, having been born at Carlisle in 1858. Clarissa was born less than a year after John’s death at Salem, N.H. She also was taken by Rev. Hubbard Lawrence & was educated at Lake Erie Seminary. Her cousin, Martha Lawrence, was a professor at this school, and when a call came to the Seminary for a teacher missionary to go to Turkey, Clarissa accepted the call. She was stationed at Magnesia, near Smyrna & as the language of this section was Greek, she learned the language quickly, so that she eventually became one of the best Greek scholars among the missionaries in the Near East. For 20 years she taught at the American Collegiate Institute at Smyrna. She was a leader among the hundreds of Protestant Greeks in that city. There was much opposition on the part of the Orthodox Greeks at first, and Clarissa had some thrilling experiences during this time, She was happy in her strenuous work as teacher, matron of the institute & religious worker among the Greeks. But even in the missionary circle there lurked tragedy. A brilliant young pharmacist & chemist from Syracuse N.Y. came to Smyrna for his health. He was engaged to an American young lady who taught at the kindergarten of he Institute. The man was naturally invited often to the school, and he fell in love with Clarissa. They became engaged, much to the surprise & consternation of Clarissa’s associates. His health and meager finances did not permit marriage, and so the engagement dragged along for several years. At last the man married a young Italian lady and they had a child. Later they went to America where the man died. Clara was broken in body and spirit. She had been offered the principleship of the large Brusa school, but declined it. She went instead to Adama, where she worked for some years in the American school there. Many hard years were spent at Springfield, Mass. where Clara worked among the Greeks. Her later ill health was largely due to this arduous labor, walking, climbing stairs & making a home for Greek youths. Her last years were spent in Northampton, Mass. and she died in Elyria, Ohio at the age of 80.
The first John Lawrence, having died in infancy, resulted in carry over of his same name to the second son born in 1862 at Wilmington, Mass. His story has already been told.
The fifth child, a daughter named Ophelia was born at Wilton, Maine, in 1864. She grew to resemble her Mother in looks, character, intelligence and spirit. Educated at the Northfield Seminary, she went to live with her sister Mary in Elyria, Ohio. Soon after her arrival there, she married Mr. W. Lamartine Fay, brother of Willis W. Fay, a leading lawyer & manufacturer. It was an ideal union. Twin boys and 5 fine girls were born them. Ophelia showed great business ability and invented several articles. Factories wore built to manufacture them and the family prospered. A beautiful home was built on Washington Ave. Mr. Fay died after many years & his widow and sons carried on the business. One of the twin boys, Lamartine was a brilliant inventor who might have made several fortunes, but he continually changed from one thing to another
so that others reaped the fruits of his genius. The other son Lawrence and the five daughters are happily married or occupied. Ophelia is now 75 and has lived to see only one of her children die — Lamartine.
Annie Climena was the sixth child born at Wilton, Me. in l866. She as taken by her aunt, Climena Wakefield and brought up at the Wakefield homestead in Reading, Mass. One of Caleb’s earliest memories was of this beautiful house where his Mother had lived and from which she went as a bride. Aunt Climena used to invite Caleb at Thanksgiving time, when the delicious doughnuts, cakes, and pies were greatly appreciated. He remembers the happy hours spent in the gardens with his sister — the only one he knew as a boy. Annie went to the High School on the hill and she was proud of her father’s noble presence when he attended her graduation. She went to the Academy at Andover. Annie inherited much of her Mother’s artistic ability and she devoted herself to the study of art. Although she never went abroad, she knew all the great paintings and could visualize the exact place where they were hung in the art galleries of Europe & America. She attended art classes on Copley Square in Boston where she later gave many lectures on art in Boston & Chicago. She was sought in marriage by a fine, wealthy young man, but she did not love him and so they parted. She taught at Hingham, Mass. & Syracuse, N.Y. At the later place she was persecuted by the Superintendent of schools who fell madly in love with her. She then went to Chicago where she gave art lectures. Here she married one of the leading lawyers, Ed Perley. On the death of her Aunt Climena, she was bequeathed her entire estate which was considerable. Her husband was a fine singer and much of this fortune went to the training of his voice for the grand opera. They moved to New York, where they now reside. Annie was a beautiful woman; the vicissitudes of life developed her talents. She worked up a clientele, among the wealthy of N.Y. and built up a large business. She became the advisor, teacher, agent, and general provider for all the business needs of many rich people. Her only child died immediately after birth. She and her husband have passed the biblical three score and ten.
Caleb, the seventh child and third boy was born at Wilton, Me. in 1868. He was taken by his uncle, Dr. Horace P. Wakefield. This was a great misfortune for the boy. Dr. Wakefield was naturally a very kind man who had married for his second wife Mary Christy of Johnson, Vt. Owing to the disagreement between Rev. John Lawrence and the Wakefields for the break—up of the family which was patently unavoidable, Mrs. Wakefield was extremely hostile to all the Lawrences. She naturally could see nothing good in them, and she vented this dislike upon Caleb. Perhaps she feared that Dr. Wakefield’s large wealth would come to his nephew. Perhaps it was due to a parsimonious nature, fostered by the rugged hills of Vermont, or maybe to her spinster nature unblessed or mel1owed by motherhood. Caleb was always neglected or abused. Once he was soundly thrashed because ’Aunt’ Mary had mislaid two cents which she later found. Dr. Wakefield bought a fine property at Leicester, Mass. In this palatial residence, which had many empty rooms, Caleb was mode to sleep with the hired man, a drunken Swede, in a windowless room off the kitchen. Dr. Wakefield was entirely under the influence or his wife and no tenderness or love was ever shown Caleb by him.Blows were common & Caleb naturally developed a defense of silence and stubbornness. Only the outdoor life of the farm was valuable and happy. The hard work he was forced to do developed a strong constitution.
Though the trustee of a considerab1e sum left by Caleb Wakefield for the education and care of the Lawrence children was under his control, Caleb was obliged to go to school barefoot on frosty mornings. It was a scandal through the town, the way Caleb was treated. Caleb was a brilliant student in the grammar school and at Leicester Academy which was next door to the Wakefield house. Mrs. Wakefield was furious when Caleb took Latin in the academy course as she had destined him for a farm hand and did not want him to become educated. Caleb was then sent to Johnson, Vt. to her brother- Robert Christy. The change was welcome, as ’Uncle’ Robert was a kind man. He at once bought the necessary clothes for Caleb and the life at Johnson was very happy on the whole. A sister of ‘Aunt’ Mary was Mrs. Elmore Johnson, who lived at Morrisville, Vt. Her husband was asked to drive a valuable horse down to Leicester and Caleb was sent with him. Dr. Wakefield become very ill soon after with Bright’s disease. It was a long and unpleasant illness and terminated with his death. ‘Aunt’ Mary so managed affairs that she got control of all the property. Yet she scrimped and saved and treated Caleb as badly as ever. She turned her house into a boarding house. The work doubled and tripled. Finally when the estate was settled in her hands, she sent Caleb back to Johnson, Vt. where he remained until called to Boston by brother John. ‘Aunt’ Mary devoted much of her fortune to furthering the interests of her nephew, Austin Christy of Worchester who founded the ‘Worchester Telegram’. When Caleb was affluent at Chicago, she attended the Worlds Fair in 1893 and Caleb was able to repay good for evil, by entertaining her and her party without cost to herself.
The fourth boy and eighth child, Henry Zelotes Lawrence, was born in Wilton, Me. in 1870. Mother Lawrence died in the same year. Her solicitude on her deathbed was for her two younger children, “Take good care of Caleb and Henry,” she murmured. She was first buried at Reading, but later her husband exhumed her body and reburied it at St. Johnsbury, Vt. Henry was adopted by a Mr. Durand of Chicago and Lake Forest, Ill, He was bought in a princely manner & graduated from Amherst College at an early age. There he contracted the vice of gambling which led him into evil ways. He married a rich Lake Forest lady and had one son. A successful lawyer in Chicago at first, a divorce soon separated him from his wife and child. His evil ways caused his death, the second of the sons to die, the first reach his majority. In permitting the adoption of Henry by Mr. Durand, John Lawrence was greatly embittered toward Dr. Wakefield. He showed this an edition of the genealogy. To Dr. Wakefield he attributed the division his children among the relatives and strangers. He was glad when Dr. Wakefield’s death preceded his. He often quoted to Caleb the verse:
“The mills of the Gods grind slowly,
but they grind exceeding small.
Tho’ with patience stands he waiting,
with exactness grinds he all.”
During his early lifetime Caleb went from his school days and then into the School of Hard Knocks and was to learn much of life both of the bad and the good. He was to meet many classes of people; to work at many trades and professions; he was to drift into agnosticism and to shun all religious institutions; he was to experience both dire poverty and comparative affluence; he was to travel widely and visit much of the Central and Eastern U.S. At last he was to return to the simple faith of his childhood, and enlist for foreign service as an American Board Missionary teacher stationed in Turkey, marry and have seven children.
Caleb’s earliest memories are of the St. Johnsbury home where the family continued to live for a while after his mother’s death. Hasty pudding and molasses were the chief and almost only diet. Father Lawrence had no idea of thee need of providing for seven children and little anxiety of how it could be done, There was no income available, and friends brought in what food could be spared. Caleb remembers his father going to the station each day to get or look at a newspaper. Father believed that the Lord would provide whatever was necessary. He was firmly convinced that by praying daily for all his children he was accomplishing his duty. He often told Caleb in later life, that he had fulfilled his parental obligations completely. Father seemed to have many “blind spots” and arguments could not make him see the truth. Apparently Grandfather Wakefield decided that for the survival of the children, they must be split up and sent to various relatives or adopted.
Caleb was sent to uncle Horace P. Wakefield who was Superintendent the State School at Monson, Mass. Mrs. Wakefield was Matron and Aunt Climena was Clerk of the institution. Caleb was a delicate boy due to lack of nourishment. He remembers being given Ipecac often and having to rush to the bathroom where he was sick. Dr. Wakefield graciously gave Caleb permission to leave the premises when he wished to. “I have no objections to your going out of the gate when you want to”, is one phrase which Caleb remembers. Only one gift from Dr. Wakefield does Caleb remember — a tin watch from the Philadelphia Exposition of l876. Aunt Climena was very kind to Caleb, she always had candy in her office for him and she took him with her to 9 Salem St., Reading at Thanksgiving time.
After leaving Mason, the Wakefields took a small house in Palmer, Mass. and for a while Caleb went to school here. Soon after he was sent to Mrs. Wakefield’s brother, Robert Christy in Johnson, Vt. His wife, Mehitabel, was a hypochondriac due to the lonely life on the farm. Caleb was able to cheer her up with prayers and stories. On arrival at the farm Caleb was put on a white horse, the first time he was ever on a horse, and sent on a four mile trip to the maple sugar camp. This was a glorious adventure. The camp was well equipped for syrup and sugar-making and often visited thereafter. The Christys were very kind people. There was an abundance of food. Fresh meat in winter and fried salt pork, potatoes, milk, gravy, corn bread, butter and plenty of fruit all the time. On Sundays the staple meal was baked beans and Indian pudding. There was one son, Charley who loved to tease Caleb and taught him to swear. Caleb used to get quite helpless with indignation at this persecution. Charley was a young man and so immune from attack by a puny boy. The only neighbor of the Christys was a very coarse and ignorant man, who spat on the living room floor and in winter put his manure covered boots into the kitchen oven.
The Christy farm comprised more than one hundred acres. There were 30 cows, one bull, four oxen, four horses, a number of hogs and pigs and a large assortment of poultry. There was a good installment of farm machinery. Mr. Christy has just built a fine house; and the barns were fine and adequate. Caleb used to drive the cows a long way to pasture, up the side of a hill and then bring them back in the evening. This life in the open air, with good food, plenty of work and kind treatment made the little lad a strong and rugged boy. Early privations may have stunted his growth; but his sturdy frame began to develop. The only income from the farm came from the butter, maple sugar and syrup which were sold in Boston. There was good income from these and Mr. Christy became fairly rich. He was a representative in the Vermont legislature. Mt. Mansfieid was plainly visible on the horizon and all around then were high hills and forests. The brooks were full of trout, the woods with partridges. There wore no motor cars, telephones nor radios. Caleb was very fond of reading. A good translation of Herodotus was one of the first books he read. Copies of Shakespeare were in Mr. Christy’s library and these were devoured by the lad. There was a lending library in the town of Johnson and Caleb used to walk the four miles and back to get copies of Juies Vernes entrancing stories. The later discoveries and inventions of scientists and industrial leaders were ably described by this clever French writer. “Scottish Chiefs” and “Thaddeus of Warsaw” were Caleb’s favorite historical romances. The “Scientific American” was the only scientific magazine available in those days and this was read from cover to cover. Caleb remembers looking at the pictures by moonlight when returning from the town to the farm. The works of Herodotus made a deep impression on the lad. Little did he imagine then that the man Caleb was to spend nearly 40 years in the land of Herodotus— that he was to photograph and lecture upon Miletus and Ephesus— that he was to ascend the Acropolis of Croesus at Sarais and photograph the plain and the rivers up which sailed the Greek ships which were to aid in the burning of Sandis!
Meanwhile Dr. Wakefield had bought the Stonewall Farm in Leicester, Mass. and come back here to live. This consisted of about forty acres of land, the lower fields of which were enclosed by stone six feet high and from four to eight feet wide. The cost of excavating the stone from the fields and building them into walls must have been too great for anyone but an eccentric and rich person. The fine colonial house with its Ionic pillars, was built on top of the hill adjoining Leicester Common. It was supplied by spring water, pumped by a windmill from the spring below. Uncle Horace was a member of the Mass. Agricultural Society and he greatly prized the fine fruits and berries which were grown in the large gardens behind the house. He exhibited the best of these at the county fairs and in Boston. As Caleb worked in these gardens he always had plenty of fruit to eat, even the choice specimens. There was a fine large barn, with a harness room attached where Caleb spent much of his time. There was also a small house in the rear with a wood stove and plenty of short wood blocks nicely piled up for fuel. It was quite a climb from the lower fields to the house. However there was a summer house at the spring and it was pleasant to rest there. Life might have been ideal for Caleb, if only a little consideration and affection had been shown him. Instead of being proud of the fine home and the rich relatives, Caleb was ashamed of them, because he was never allowed to receive any acquaintances nor did they.
Caleb went to the grammar school for a time. He soon became the first in his class and was often made a pupil—teacher of the younger students. Then he attended Leicester Academy which was a fine school & one of the first founded in New England. It was situated at the Eastern end of the common, next to the Wakefield estate. The principal was Caleb A. Page, M.A, a good classical scholar. The professor of Astronomy was Mr. Hutchins of Bowdoin. Caleb was fortunate to see the transit of Venus. Through the telescope he saw the planet like a black dot near the equator of the sun, One morning Caleb rose very early and was astonished to see a vast comet, stretching from the horizon almost to the zenith— the great comet of 1882. Caleb took the classical course at the Academy— Latin, History, and Physics were his favorite studies though he did very well in Algebra and Geometry. English was delightful. The town library offered a fine selection of books and since Caleb could have no companions at the Wakefield home, he studied and read a great deal.
Dr. Wakefield’s neighbors were Rev. Samuel May — a retired Unitarian preacher who had been paymaster in the Navy and Hon. John E. Russell, a literary and wealthy gentleman, who had an experimental farm where he raised choice animals. Caleb worked for him at different times end used to take him milk every evening. He would chat with the servants in the kitchen. One evening seeing a speaking—tube on the wall, he spoke into it, “if you want Walton, you can have him!” Walton was our hired hand. Opposite our house was the home of the Misses Clapp. They were very Kind spinsters, Caleb took them up coal and water every day and there was always a little present on the window sill for him plus a silver dollar a week.
A military company was formed at the Academy. Arms were provided and caps were ordered. No cap was large enough to fit Caleb. Later when a huge box was sent to Mr. Page, the students cried, ”Here comes Caleb’s cap” The cadet corps marched to the cemetery on Memorial Day and on Fourth of July morning fired volleys of blank cartridges all over the town. They also had sham battles, which were sometimes quite real.
Caleb was bell—ringer for the Academy, since he lived next door & his favorite place was on the roof, astride the ridge—pole or on the edge with his feet hanging over. “What is the greatest feat you ever saw?” was the question in the academy paper. “The feet of a certain academy cadet hanging over the main hall roof”, was the answer.
In the beautiful auditorium with its oil paintings of great men who had been educated there, the rhetorica1s were held and concerts were given. Caleb was coached to sing “Cousin Jedediah”. He had to chew licorice root to lubricate his throat so as to reach the high notes.
His “Letter to the Man in the Moon” was read in this auditorium, and his recitations aroused much favorable comment. “He will be a great orator someday”, was said by many.
Caleb Page, the principal, whipped Caleb once through a misunderstanding. Mr. Page became angry and grabbed a ruler and struck Caleb several hard blows. Afterward he was sorry and apologized. He often invited the lad to his apartment at the academy. Mrs. Page was a very sweet woman.
The academy library had quite a few reference books. One was “Grays Anatomy” which Caleb studied with great interest. The lad had a great interest in science, and this was proved later when he taught Physiology and Hygiene. There were no dalineascopes in those days and the slow motion films could not be used, which wou1d have been of great value and interest. A lecture on feminine hygiene was given at the town hall, with colored charts showing the female reproductive organs, and Caleb managed to squeeze in to hear it.
Florence Williams, a plump black—haired girl was greatly admired by Caleb. She lived at Cherry Valley, between Leicester and Worchester, and came to the academy each day. Probably she never guessed Caleb’s infatuation, but was cordial to him as to all her school mutes. She praised him when he received a perfect mark in Physics. Caleb bought some little gift cards, and the one printed “Lon” he saved to give Florence. Once he had the courage to ask another girl Cora Davis, “May I see you safely home this evening?” as she was leaving church. She said, “Yes”. So Caleb took her arm, walked the whole way without saying a word. Cora was not pleased.
During winter the long hill from Leicester on the way to Worchester was the meeting place for the youths of both sexes. In the winter when sledding, the terrific speed with which the double runners shot down this hill was exhilarating. In all innocence Caleb once said to a young lady who was fearful of embarking on a long sled, ”You lie down and I’ll get on top of you.” She turned away in confusion and Caleb was in disgrace. The incident was broadcast and Aunt Mary scolded Caleb. She thought he had said it deliberately. After that Caleb was girl—shy. That was the same winter Caleb fell from the hay—mow in the barn to the hard floor. He must have been unconscious for about half an hour. His left leg was injured, and he never walked perfectly after that time.
When Dr. Wakefield contracted Bright’s Disease, he endured a long and distressing illness. He was moved into the front parlor where Caleb read the newspapers to him from first page to back cover. The Dr. rarely spoke to him. But once he said, “I sometimes regret that I never joined the church”. ’Aunt’ Mary proved a competent nurse. Caleb remembers the great number of empty gin bottles which stood in the pantry next to his bedroom. Caleb does not remember anything about his death or funeral.
The best influence in Caleb’s life at Leicester was that of the pastor of the Congregational Church, Rev. Amos Coolidge. He invited the young people to his house and formed one of the earliest Christian Endeavor societies. Caleb became a member and will never forget the meetings at the Coolidge home. The young people would read in turn some chapter, talk it over, sing hymns, and then the pastor would give a short talk and lead in prayer. Mrs. Coolidge, her son John, and daughter Sarah were always cordial. Another important influence was the Sunday school. Mrs. White was Caleb’s teacher and a large class met in the N.W. corner of the large room. The class was often invited to the White home and the son became one of Caleb’s best friends. Some of the youths of the academy formed a gang which walked around the Common and academy in the evening, peering into blinded windows and seeing what they might see. One evening they glanced up into the window of the lady French teacher’s bedroom and were pleasantly surprised to see the professor of Astronomy tenderly kiss the lady goodnight. Later they went to the small house back of the Wakefield garden where they built a rousing fire in the stove. One night Mrs. Wakefield surprised them as they were telling stories. She drove them out and gave Caleb a terrible scolding. “I’ll write Aunt Climena,” she cried, ”that I can’t keep you any longer”. But Caleb’s help on the farm was necessary.
The chief distraction Caleb enjoyed was a walk to Worcester and back. He always stopped at the Austin Christy home. Mrs. C. was a cordial, buxom woman. Bacon and fried potatoes seemed to be the only food cooked there. Austin was a friendly busy man, having just started the Worchester Telegram. Sometimes a boy friend drove Caleb down and back. They visited the Dime Museum where there was always a show going on. On the way home they would buy smoked herrings and they certainly tasted fine.
Another sister of Mrs. Wakefield came to visit Leicester. She had a little girl named Hazel who became a great friend of Caleb. Later Mrs. Wakefield accused Caleb of being too familiar with Hazel. She finally sold the animals on the farm and more and more began to play the lady. She took some of her meals at the newly—built Leicester Hotel. She wrote to the Superintendent of the Monson Institute and a job for the summer was promised Caleb. At first he was a farm hand — one thing he remembers was being sent to the Palmer Depot with a huge load of empty barrels and of driving a yoke of oxen with it. Caleb slept in a dormitory with the other farm hands and his bed was very uncomfortable as it was narrow, straw and had a lump in it. A week after he reached Monson, the night watchman was called away and Caleb was asked to serve in this capacity. A time clock was handed him and he was instructed in his duties — to visit each of the buildings each hour — engine room, office, dormitories — wake up the small boys & make them urinate and to punch the time clock at each of ten key stations. It was very difficult to keep awake, but the supt. or some official would sometimes come around and Caleb managed to make a fair record. The time clock showed some skips, but as nothing untoward happened that summer Caleb received his three months salary and all was well.
Caleb remembers his first cigar at this time. He had walked from Monson to Palmer and bought the cigar there. Before he started back he lit it. By the time he came to the bridge he was very dizzy & nauseated, so he threw the cigar into the stream. When he felt better, he continued on his walk back to Monson. This brings to mind how the boys were punished at the school. There was a framework over which boys were pulled with their posterior exposed, and one of the staff slapped their bottoms with a long flat stick.
At the end of the summer, Caleb set out on his return to Leicester. It was fine to ride on the stagecoach from Worchester thru Cherry Valley past the Catholic Church and up the long hill, past the May & Russell estates to the academy and Wakefield home. The new lady English teacher was also in the coach and she organized a reading club. It was a great pleasure and of great profit to hear her read the English classics. The Latin teacher had taught Caleb’s sister Ophie at Holliston and she took an interest in Caleb.
On September 2, 1885, Caleb left Leicester for Johnson Vt., his school days ended for a time. Caleb arrived in Northern Vermont in the evening. Through some mistake he got off at the wrong station and had to walk many miles among scattered farms until he reached the Christy farm late at night.
The next Spring Caleb’s brother, John, suggested he come to Boston to find work there. So he said “farewell” to the kind Christies and met his brother, who was “Day Clerk” at the Norfolk House. Caleb found his way to this beautiful hotel and timidly climbed the great stairway to the office. He was a country boy indeed in his rough clothes and timid apologetic air. John took him to the employees quarters where he met the bell—boys and left him there. Caleb spent the days looking for a job and in becoming acquainted with the city. It was easy for a city man to see that Caleb was very ‘green’ and one day a nicely dressed man spoke to him as he was looking into a shop window. He pretended to know all about Leicester and he invited him to go up to the roof of the Equitable Building to see Boston from the air. After a little this man put his arm on Caleb’s shoulder and then on his back. Caleb was excited and confused; but he roughly pushed the man aside and ran down the many flights of stairs into the street, whence he went at once to the Norfolk House. John was angry but thought Caleb was lucky to have escaped so easily. On May I Caleb got a job at Rothwell & Co. department store, where he was to receive $3.00 a week. Later that same day John came to see him and told him of a situation at Brighton with W.H. Dana Provision Merchant. This was fortunate as the work was out—of—doors. Mr. Dana was a good man and the family were very kind. Thus starts the working world of Caleb Lawrence.
Genealogy of Caleb W. Lawrence & Family