The Clay Pipe

June 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Our Family

For Christmas 2006 I received a unique gift from my mom. But then, I always get very cool unique gifts from my mom… she constantly goes out of her way to come up with these really neat things for each of her 5 kids and their families.

I remember the first “really unique” gift my mom gave me, which blew me away… it was Christmas 1991… that Christmas Eve I sat, patiently with a rather bulky gift on my lap awaiting my turn at opening… for some reason I thought it was sheets… I must have asked for sheets that year… but it was not sheets, nor anything else so mundane and every day… it was an ancestor photograph album… she’d made a very special quilted binding with my picture on the cover… it had names and dates of everyone’s pictures of great-grandparents on down, she included a family tree chart going back to a my 4th Great-Grandfather Clark CLAWSON (1807-1881) and his wife Hestor HALE (1818 – 1887)… through me (then 39)… including a ton of pictures of when I was a baby, young girl, teen, on to my own children… I felt like my mom gave me… “me”, that year… she gave me back my childhood… since then, year after year my mom continues to give me family treasures, revealing more and more of who I am, and how much I owe those who’ve walked before me… WOW!

Returning to Christmas 2006… a thin spiral bound notebook… a story… she transcribed hand-written papers she’d found in my grandmother’s things in 1987 after she passed away. My mom typed it and bound it with great love… “Created especially for my beloved daughter” (that’d be me :D ) … it was written by my grandmother sometime before 1955….

The Clay Pipe by Pearl DeGarmo

One day several weeks ago my husbands’ mother showed me a quaint, little brown clay pipe. This pipe looked very much as if it might have been originally intended to blow soap bubbles… and then she told me the story of the pipe.

But wait a moment! Please allow me to introduce my mother-in-law, Jennie Clarinda Brown, and she will tell you the story, for she knows it far better than I. And so she begins…

Over one hundred years ago my great-grandparents were living in Ohio. Many of the women smoked pipes in those days. The pioneers grew and cured their own tobacco and the business of using the finished product was a family affair.

One day when great-grandfather went to the country store to do his “trading” he bought two new clay pipes. One of these was for his wife and the other one for his daughter.

We can envy great-grandmother’s and her daughter’s companionship. Just how many hopes and thoughts they must have confided to each other in the twilight after their day’s work was done, we can only guess at. But time, sometimes a cruel wrecker of these fine camaraderie’s wrought a change in this one.

The daughter and a neighbor had fallen in love and in due time were married. Now these newly weds were not content to buy the adjoining farm and set up housekeeping. They had both inherited too much of the pioneer restlessness. Their idea of greener fields lie farther west than Ohio. They listened to tales told by traders and trappers and other folks that traveled about the country. They finally decided to go to what is now the southern part of Wisconsin.

Grandfather bought a team of horses and a wagon. He then proceeded to build a covering for the wagon and collecting the tools he would need in the new home. Grandmother was busy too, gathering seeds and all the articles that she could take with her. They could only take the most necessary tools and equipment. There were no stores, lumber yards, seed companies or factories in those days. And they could only take what could be moved in the covered wagon, so these articles were chosen with careful consideration.

The day finally came when the bride and groom were ready to leave their families and relatives and start for their new home. Now great-grandfather and great-grandmother realized that this may be the last time they would ever see their daughter again. In those days a trip from one state to another was a long tedious journey and was not undertaken very often. So on the morning of the young couple’s departure the old father and mother decided to travel with the young people until noon, in order that they might be with the daughter and her husband as long as possible.

At noon they found a nice place to stop and eat their dinner and to rest and chat awhile. After they had eaten their dinner and replaced the dishes and remaining food the little group sat down to smoke and visit. Great-grandmother drew her pipe and tobacco pouch from her apron pocket and proceeded to light up. Great-grandfather and grandfather did likewise. But when grandmother put her hand in her pocket she found only her tobacco pouch. The young woman looked in the wagon and about the the camp grounds but could not find her pipe. All at once she remembered that she had left it on the window sill at her parent’s home. Great-grandmother smoked her pipe then passed her pipe to her daughter to use.

Now the old mother was a happy good-natured old soul and almost always could find a bright side to every little annoyance. So she gaily remarked that her daughter could have her pipe and she would keep her daughter’s pipe. Then each would have something of the others’.

When grandmother finished smoking she carefully knocked the ashes from it and put it in her deep apron pocket. The cheap little clay pipe was now very valuable because it had been her mother’s.

The farewells were finally said and the old people started to walk back to their home. The young couple continued their journey to Wisconsin. After many weeks of travel and hardships which only these strong courageous pioneers could endure they reached their destination.

In the years that followed grandmother and grandfather built their home and reared a fine family of sons and daughters. These sons and daughters married and had families of their own.

When grandmother and grandfather died their possessions were divided among the remaining members. The clay pipe was given to my mother and when she died my sister gave it to me.

And this my friends is the true, true story of a little old brown clay pipe, just as my mother-in-law told it to me.

The Clay Pipe

The Clay Pipe

Back to the present… 2009…

When Mom talked about this story she’d found with her brother (my uncle), he rummaged in a drawer and pulled out the pipe… it’s a true story…. it’s never been published… but in honor of my mom and her mom and the women before them and for my sisters and my daughter… for all of them …. I publish it here for the first time.

Thanks Mom! I love you too!

  • The authoress Pearl Batten was my grandmother.
  • Her mother-in-law – Jennie Clarinda BROWN (1876 – 1959) [my great-grandmother]
  • Daughter / Bride – Elanor DUSENBERRY (1827 – 1865) [my 3rd great-grandmother]
  • Neighbor / Groom – Philip AUMOCK (1827 – 1909) [my 3rd great-grandfather]
  • Great-grandfather – Benjamin DUSENBERRY (1789 – 1867) [my 4th great-grandfather]
  • Great-grandmother – Charlotte DENNIS (1806 – 1890) [my 4th great-grandmother]