Cora and Charlie — Newlyweds

(Recap of Cora’s Memoirs — Charlie and Cora were married on September 1 near Columbia, Missouri. she was 13; he was 20. They had been given some furniture, livestock, cooking “vessels,” from her father and his parents. The farm where they would live was rented, and it was next to other Palmer’s farms. There were nine Palmer brothers — Robert was the second oldest, Charlie was third.)

Cora’s Memoirs (written to her son, Charles, in 1961) continue . . .

September 3, 1897
“It was a two-room box house with an extra room upstairs. We all went to work and soon had everything all put in shape–stove up to cook on, etc. But we had to have a ‘straw tick’ to put our feather bed on. So–as your grandmother had given me a ‘tick’ along with some sheets, pillow cases, and a bedspread–they took it over to Robert’s place as he had thrashed wheat and had a stack of straw. They filled the ‘tick’ with nice class straw and that was our bed with the feather bed.

“We had bought a few groceries, so we had our first meal together: biscuits made with water, as we had no milk, fried bacon, and potatoes which an old man gave us who lived near and came over to welcome us. His name was Dr. Robert McNutt, who later became our good friend. He was a native of England, and he was quite a character but a good old man, well educated and fine mannered.

“I was alone quite a lot that fall as your father had his corn on the farm he owned up by Oakland. I have forgotten to say where this farm we moved to was located. It was two and a half miles northeast of Gillaspy school house, seven miles northeast of Columbia, known then as the McNutt farm. He owned about 300 acres there. Robert had bought 160 acres from him, and a year later, Edney and your dad traded their 80 acres near Oakland Church for 120 acres of the farm we had rented. We had 45 acres, Edney the rest of it. We lived that winter in the little box house, which was rather cold. The big room was 18 feet square, and we just had a box wood-burning stove to heat it with.”

Cora and Charlie Palmer, September 2, 1897

Cora McCauley Palmer’s Memoirs (written for her son, Charles) continue:

“The next morning (after their wedding — see post about their wedding dated 4/15/17), we went to Edney’s home where Charlie had been living, and he hitched up his team to his old farm wagon and we went to Harg, where my father was living . . . He gave me my mother’s furniture, consisting of a bedstead and springs, bureau, as they were called then, and a big trunk — also some quilts and a feather bed and a wood heating stove — to set us up to housekeeping.

“Your Grandfather Palmer gave all his sons a horse, bridle and saddle, two sheep, one sow, one cow, and twelve hens when they went to housekeeping. He gave the daughters-in-law a cook stove and all the cooking vessels needed. In those days, you got more for your money. So, with my cookstove, I had one iron tea kettle, two iron pots, two iron skillets, iron muffin rounds, big six gallon kettle to set on the stove to heat water in, iron heater to set down on the stove to heat irons in, big cooking fork and spoon, two pie pans, coffee pot, a coffee mill to grind our coffee in, two tin lids for the skillets and two for the dinner pots. Then, your grandfather gave me a bedroom suite as my own wedding gift — not as a daughter-in-law — but a gift of appreciation. It consisted of bedstead and dresser with mirror (which I still have here in 1961) and a washstand. That was September 2, 1897.

Your father and I drove back to Columbia and met Robert there at Parker’s Furniture Store on North 8th Street. We bought four chairs (three of which I now have), and a dining table, a safe (they were called then to keep the dishes in), and also picked up my bedroom suite. Then we bought a few dishes to do us ’til we could get more. Then to Newman’s Hardware Store on Broadway to pick up our cook stove. It was late when we left Columbia. By the time we got to Hinkston Creek, it was dark. Robert had got ahead of us, and we just had to listen for the sound of his wagon ‘clicking’ along to follow him (we were to stay at their house that night). The farm your dad had rented for us to live on joined Robert’s farm . . . next morning, we all ‘hied’ over to the place where we were to live.”

Cora and Charley’s Courting Days

Cora McCauley Palmer’s Memoirs (written for her son, Charles) continue:

“The fall your father was 20 (in 1896), he bought 40 acres of land from your grandfather just about a mile south of Oakland Church. It joined the 40 acres your Uncle Edney had bought from him. It had no house on it, so he lived with Edney and Stella. He had his mare that your grandfather had given him, a sow, and pigs. He had bought another horse, so he had a team to tend his crops with. He came home real often when it rained because he couldn’t work outside. So, one afternoon he came through the kitchen where I was and, without saying a word, just pitched a little folded piece of paper at me. It landed on the back of the stove. ‘Course I grabbed it real quick and dropped it down the front of my dress ’til I could get away to my room to see what it was. There was no one in the kitchen at the time, and I am sure he knew the coast was clear, or he would not have taken a chance. That was in January 1897. So we kept up our ‘clandestine’ affair for about three months. We never said a word to anyone about it, just went on as usual whenever he came over. But one day, your grandmother was looking in my trunk for something and picked up a cap which I had hidden my little ‘billet-douxs’ in, and they tumbled out, of course. She took them to your grandfather to read (I was in school at the time). . . . By that time, I had promised to marry your father-to-be in the fall.

” . . . we had a nice courtship. Charley had the privilege of calling on me every Sunday afternoon from two ’til five o’clock!!! But, of course, he was there several times during the week and would get in a few words
of endearment that helped us a lot.

“We had planned to elope to ‘The Indian Territory’ (as it was then known; it’s Oklahoma now) to get married, as we were not sure if my father would consent to my marriage. He (George T. McCauley) was living at Harg at the time taking care of the ‘toll gate’ from Columbia to Fulton. So I wrote to him to come up one Sunday to see me. He came, and Charlie (Cora spelled it ‘Charley’ also) asked him for me. But when he came to talk to me, he said, ‘Cora, Cora, what will your grandma say?’ (‘Grandma’ was his mother, Margaret McCauley.) He gave us his blessing, and we were happy.

“The summer passed quickly. We went to Sunday School every Sunday, and Charley would ride home with me then. . . . we set our wedding date for September 1, 1897, at three o’clock at your grandparent’s home north of Columbia. (Cora was 13 and Charlie 20)”

Cora at the Palmer’s (May 1895 – September 1897) 3

Cora McCauley Palmer’s Memoirs (written for her son, Charles) continue:

“The post office was at Hinton (Missouri) in the general store which carried everything in the line of dry goods by yard, shoes, gloves, harness, ladies cotton stockings, mens work sox, groceries, nails — in fact, most anything you wanted, they carried it. There was no ‘ready-to-wear’ clothing — only in Columbia then. There was a blacksmith shop, two churches, and about four or five residences there then. People would get their mail once a week and once in a great while, someone would order a box of goods of some kind from the city — St. Louis or Kansas City or maybe Chicago. When it came, it was a ‘red-letter’ day for the one who received it.

“In the month of December, your grandfather (William Perry Palmer) would butcher ten fat hogs for the family use. He always said one for company and one each for every member of the family. The next day after butchering, your grandfather salted the meat and cooked the ‘scraps’ (the head, feet, liver, etc.) in a big iron kettle out in the yard and made hog head cheese. Then they put part of the sausage in sacks and fried part of it and stored it in gallon stone jars and covered it with the fresh lard. It would keep until warm weather real good for in those days no one ever heard of canning fresh meat. The salted meat would be put in flour sacks after it had been in salt for about six weeks. Sometimes they would smoke it with hickory chips ’til it was nice and brown. They they would put the ham and shoulders in the sacks to protect them from insects. They usually had 40 to 50 gallons of lard and used it all, for it took a lot of food of all kinds to keep the family going.

“It was really a ‘red-letter’ day for us children when your grandparents went to Columbia. They would load up the spring wagon with whatever they had to sell. They dug parsnips and sold ’em for ten cents per bushel, roasting ears for ten cents per dozen — just anything they could swap for something they couldn’t raise. They always brought something back for each one of us.

“Your grandfather always raised a big watermelon patch. He sold some of them also, but he had all the family could use first. They always had lots of company to eat watermelon. He would bring them from the patch early in the morning and call for all to meet at the ‘stand’ (meaning a big round stand built around a large shade tree in the front). We always ate the melons there, and the boys would come whooping and jumping from everywhere. He would see that all were present before he started passing out the big juicy slices. Sometimes I wouldn’t be through with the dishes when he called, but he always waited ’til I was there. The little boys called ’em ‘slashes’ instead of ‘slices.’ They would say, ‘Pa, hurry and cut my slash.’ They were wonderful days.”