Memories of Rev. Will Walker
Submitted by Nancy Paine, Typed by Eileen Tims and Annotated and Published by Joyce M. Tice
See Chapter Six for same view in 1912. Photo by Joyce M. Tice
Of all the good-for-nothing characters that ever lived, I believe Henry Gould would be among those holding first prize. Drink, steal, dishonest and everything that was of no good character, Henry Gould could be counted on to be into.
He was a man weighing about 125 pounds possibly 5 feet 10 inches in height; very narrow appearing features, with rat like eyes, voice, well, a drawl to every word. He was altogether a good-for-nothing, worthless individual. With a lifetime of escapades on his part, yet no one ever knew of him being arrested. In a way, he was looked upon by many, as being sort of a harmless freak, that could not resist the temptation of moving anything movable, especially if the owners were not present.
The old shed and barn at his home were literally cluttered with things he had stolen from farmers. Things he would never have any use for. All kinds of small tools; -- chains, shovels, bars, plow wheel, taken from plows during the noon hour, while the farmer was at his noon meal. My Uncle had this experience. He was plowing away back on a hill, at noon he unhitched from the plow and went to dinner. On his arrival back, after dinner, he noted the disappearance of the plow wheel. There were tracks in the soft dirt, showing plainly about the plow, that had been made by the one who removed the wheel. In no way had the thief tried to cover his tracks. My uncle suspected Henry Gould immediately This is what he did; -- It will help you to understand this curious character of Henry. My Uncle tied the horses, and started across the fields, for Gould's home. Arriving there, he called old Henry out of doors, and told him that he had lost his plow wheel and thought that he (Henry), might have one that would fit, that he could use. Uncle said that when he asked Henry that, he watched his face closely to see if there was any change of expression. He could detect none. Old Henry, stood in deep thought for a moment and then said, "Well now, Mr. Crumb (Ed.), I may have one that will just help you out. I'll look." So going into an old shed, he soon emerged with the very plow wheel that was missing. This is what he said, == "say Mr. Crumb, I'll go up on the hill with you and see if it fits; if it does I'll help you put in on and you will be perfectly welcome to the wheel. I'll never need it. "Have you a wrench up there?" He knew there was a wrench there, for he had used it to remove the wheel from the plow. Never once, while he helped my uncle in putting the wheel back, did he show any concern over the incident, except to express his gladness in the act that as a "good neighborly neighbor", he had been lucky in having a plow wheel that would fit Mr. Crumb's plow."
I might remark here, that when Henry Gould came to his end, it was by suicide. He hung himself in the woods, and was found within a half hour after, with his knees resting on the ground. It was a mystery how he accomplished it under the conditions. Many thought he had assistance, but, as worthless as he was, I don't believe anyone had a hand in it but himself. When the funeral was past and nearly forgotten, Henry's heirs, consisting of a widow, a daughter with a husband who was almost as worthless as his father-in-law had been, advertised a public sale of the "Henry Gould Possessions" or various accumulations. On the date of sale, the neighbors of the surrounding territory began to arrive early in the morning. They immediately began the identification of tools and such likes which Henry had stolen from them over a long period of years. The result was, the public sale was not much of a success, there being very little left to sell. One of the old shed's floors were torn up and there between the joice lay tools of every description, hammers, saws, axes, planes, mauls, log chains, pulleys, chisels, bark spuds, and things you would wonder why he took them. I have let you in on the secret of his death, possible I had ought not to have told that yet, for there are many things to relate concerning Henry Guold.
I will begin by telling of Henry's unquenchable thirst for hard cider, and the measure to which he would go to satisfy it.
I have already mentioned in a chapter of this conglomeration the "Niles Family" Russel, was the Father's name. Henry Gould called Mr. Niles by the name of Mr. Russ." "Pin" Niles could put on by acting the part of Old Henry Gould, trying to get "Mr. Russ," to give him a gallon of cider. Henry would often come down to Niles' and beg Mr. Niles to "just let me have one level gallon of cider." "Please Mr. Russel"
If you happened to be a caller at the Nile's home in the evening, you would be invariably entertained with a "Henry Gould" impersonation, given by "Pin", the boy of the "German Butchers XMAS tree." Mr. Niles, "Pin's Father, would enjoy it as much as any. It would happen along about the middle of the evening. There would be a rap at the door. Mr. Niles would open the door, then there would be carried on a conversation between the supposed Henry Gould, and "Mr. Russ".
Good evening, Mr. Russ". And if you had known Henry Gould, you would have sworn that he was out on that porch, in the shadows, coaxing, pleading, and begging for "just one little gallon of cider please Mr. Russ," "go on, and get out of here, I'll not get you any cider." "please, Mr. Russ, just one leetle gallon." "You were here, just a short time ago, what did you do with the gallon you got then:" "say, Mr. Russ, that damn can had a hole in "please Mr. Russ, just one level gallon." And so on and on and on--------This comedy by Father and Son was always enjoyed if you knew the character Henry Gould.
One day, the Father, Mr. Niles was away, Mrs. Niles also. They kept a little grocery store, and down in the cellar were to be found a half dozen barrels of cider in the various stages of fermentation for vinegar to be sold to customers. It was not kept to sell as "hard cider", of course there was a time in then history of each barrel's stage of fermentation when it had real intoxicating ability. If old Henry was lucky in getting some at that stage, he was in his glory, so to speak.
This one particular day, on which Mr. and Mrs. Niles had gone away and left the boys in charge of the store. Old Henry appeared. He immediately began to coax the boys for cider. In the meantime, the boys were planning to let him have some, but were sure in making requirements to gain the cider, interesting enough to risk the hazard, for they knew their father did not approve. But by the previous chapter on Pin and his brother, you have discovered that the Nile's boys were on certain occasions willing to take a chance, providing something "real good" was hinted. The boys brought up a glass full and gave it to Henry. "Boys, What cider, if you will give me another glass of that, I'll go right home, and won't ask you for another drop." A second glass was brought shortly. This proved to be only an aggravation and by no means had quenched the fires.
"If you will bring me up just another level glass of that cider, boys, I'll do anything for you.:
That was a bad promise for anyone to make, even to the Niles boys. Now just across the road from the Niles' store, was a blacksmithi shop, run by a man whose name was "Peters," "Wib Peters". He was a veritable giant. Almost as large as two of Henry Gould. He was not liked by the Niles boys. In fact, no one cared much for him. He was tolerated because he was a good workman, and his trade was needed there in that farming and lumbering section. This particular day, "Wib" was not rushed with work, and there was one of his old friends visiting him. They were sitting by a table playing "cards" in the blacksmith shop, while the big wide door, which opened in, was open. You could see them from the store plainly. Now if there was anyone Wig Peters disliked, it was Henry Guold. The boys made a plan;----
"No, Henry, you have had enough cider, you can't have anymore." "Please boys, just one little glass more." "If we do give you more, will you promise to do something fur us?" "Boys, I'll do anything you say, just you name it and old Henry will oblige ye."
"Alright, here's another glass, but before you get it you have got to promise us to go over and pick a fuss with old Wib Peters." "I'll do it boys, I've just been waiting for a crack at that old buzzard!" He drank the glass of cider, which was about the third. He then walked out on the store porch, and began to tell old Wib what time of year Christmas and new Years came and even the fourth of July. After a while, Old Wib's attention was attracted or his game. Henry came back into the store and asked for more cider "give me just another glass and I'll will go over there and lick the old Harry out of him.:
The boys told him to go over first and lean a big plank against the door, and come back into the middle of the road and dare old Wib out; then they would give him another glass. In order to get another drink, Henry finally consented. The door of the shop opened in. Henry leaned a plank carefully against the door, Wib may have heard the plank, but he kept on with his game. At last his attention was called to the fact, that from the middle of the road, he was being called everything from a monkey to a baboon. With a lunge towards the door, like an enraged Lion, he decided to put an end to this exhibition. The moment he raised the door latch, in came the door. He was pushed back by the door, and down came the plank on the floor in front of him with a loud bang. This was too much for Wib's temper control, so with a bellow of rage he made straight for Old Henry, who was standing in the middle of the road somewhat confused. Upon seeing Wib charging at him, he suddenly got into action, He ran around the blacksmith shop and Wib after him.
Henry, was much the smaller man and therefore, altho a little under the influence of the cider, had the better of the race. It was well that he chose to run, for had Wib gotten his hands upon old Henry, possibly Henry would not have had the job of hanging himself later. How long the race would have kept up is hard to tell. Suddenly Mr. and Mrs. Niles appeared. They came driving two horses on a light carriage. Henry spied Mr. Niles and running toward the oncoming team, he called loudly for "Mr. Russ", to save him. Wib was ready to call it off and return to his shop," with a last warning to Henry, that if he ever came near his shop and had any more monkey shines to cut with him, that "he would break every bone in his body."
Meantime Henry was trying to trade an old bark-pealing spud to "Mr. Russ" for a gallon of cider.
"It's a good Spud, Mr. Russ, you give me a gallon of cider and I will bring the Spud down in the morning.: But "Mr. Russ" couldn't see the point, and Henry went home disappointed.
The next morning, bright and early, Henry and his son-in-law appeared at Nile's door, with a new gallon syrup can and the afore mentioned bark Spud. "Mr. Russ', I know you want this Spud, it’s the best Spud ever made, just look at it, almost new, and I'll tell you what I'll do with you, I'll trade you this Spud for a Gallon of cider, and you can put the cider in this new syrup can." "Mr. Russ" assured him he would get no cider there and that he did not want the bark-pealing Spud. "Well Mr. Russ" said Henry you'll be sorry, for that’s a mighty good Spud."
Henry and son-in-law went on their way over the mountain. That afternoon Mr. Niles heard someone calling to him from away up the mountain. There he saw Henry and his son-in-law, staggering along a path towards home and calling to him. "Hey, Mr. Russ, go to thunder with your old cider, we got lots of it."
Another incident to let you see the workings of Henry Gould's mind. One morning, bright and early, as Henry was passing Mr. White's farm residence, he met Mr. White and said to him---"good morning Mr. White, I heard you lost a ham" Mr. White replied that he would go and see; upon entering his smoke house, he discovered one ham was missing. This was the first knowledge he had of it. If Henry had kept still he might not have been suspicioned. The incident amused Mr. White so, he let Henry get away with it.
Henry worked for Mr. White after the above mentioned stolen ham incident. One morning Mr. White missed a new 16-quart milk pail. It was on the bench the night before, in the morning it was gone. He thought of Henry, but Henry never was known to have stolen from a man while he was working for him. Mr. White thought Henry might have taken the pail with him on his way home the night before in order to carry something home which he had planned to gain possession of. With this thought, Mr. White talked with Henry about the missing new pail.
"Henry, I wonder where we left that new milk pail? You didn't take it upon the hill with drinking water did you, and leave it? You know you were cradling Buckwheat up there the other day."
"Mr. White, I might have. This conversation took place like tonight, and the next morning, as the sun came up and shone on the buckwheat field, their attention was called to something glistening in the sun's rays right in the middle of the field. If the pail had been there before, it certainly would have been seen. Mr. White's surmise had been right.
My Father let some land to Henry for him to put in buckwheat on shares. Father furnished the seed and Henry did the work, each were to have half of the crop. One day when Father was away, he drew the unthrashed buckwheat all down to his place. The next day, it was all thrashed. Henry then told someone that he intended to keep all the crop of buckwheat. A few days, after a neighbor of ours, got into conversation with Henry and using a little psychology, their conversation ran something as follows:---
"Henry", said the neighbors, "do you know you'll look a long time before you find a fine a man as Hugh Walker." And all through their talk our good neighbors" praises were said in praise of father.
The next morning Henry drove up with a wagon loaded with bags of buckwheat. He brought another load, which included our share of crop, and the deal closed satisfactorily.
One night, about eleven o'clock, Otis Benson, a neighbor kept hearing his old watchdog bark. He seemed to be near the barn. There were turkeys roosting in an apple tree. The next morning, there was the faithful dog sitting under the tree and Henry Gould in its branches. Before he had successfully captured a turkey the dog had spied him, and Henry spent the night roosting in the tree.
Another time, Old Henry was seen driving his horse and lumber wagon past a neighbor's home at just dark. For some reason, the neighbor walked out into the road after Henry had gone by and listened to the sound of the wagon. It's noise suddenly ceased, and the neighbor having a fine patch of cabbage up the road, he decided to talk up that way. He soon came to where the horse and wagon had stopped in the road. He heard something over the fence, then a thud was heard on the ground, beside the road, which proved to be one of many cabbages Henry had pulled and tossed over the fence. The neighbor walked up to the fenced, and demanded to know what he, (Henry Gould), was doing in his cabbage patch? Henry ceased operations and said. "OH. HELLO! Mr. Smith, I was just getting a cabbage or two for my daughter Finette; You know, Mr. Smith that girl is crazy over cabbage, but me, why I can't even stay in the house while it's cooking."
Just one other account and I am through with Henry Gould. -- La Soll Rockwell, a man weighing about 200 pounds, heard a noise in his hen house one night. He lighted his lantern and concealing it under his coat, he opened the hen house door and flashing the light suddenly in it's rays fell upon Old Henry. A bran sack apparently with four or five fowls there in lay on the floor of the coop. Henry was just reaching for another hen, when the light struck him. He ceased all operations, brushed off his hands and said.--
"Oh, How do you do, Mr. Rockwell" "I was just borrowing a hen or so" "so I see, ", said Mr. Rockwell. Henry began to edge towards the door. Mr. Rockwell sat the lantern down and collared Henry and began to give him a sound trouncing. Henry twisted away from him, ran out of the hen house, and up on to the side of the mountain. When he saw the lantern emerge from the coop, he paused in his flight and called.
"Say, Mr. Rockwell, if you ever come over near our place, call and see us. Come over some time and bring your wife."
La Soll Rockwell said if he could have caught him then, he would have given him a trouncing sure.