Thursday, August 4, 2011


She had better hurry. John would be back any minute and she had
putt the wood into the stove to heat it only about 20 minutes ago. She had the biscuit mix already made but she had to brown the chicken pieces. They would have some vegetables from the garden to go with everything. Betsy wiped her brow off with her apron. She loved her stove but it sure heated up the room. No, that was not quite right. She didn’t just love her stove. She adored her stove and polished it every day. John had spent a fortune for it and it had come on the schooner from Detroit just last month after waiting for six months. It made Betsy feel that 1835 on the Maumee was getting more civilized.

 She smiled to remember John’s glowing description of the Maumee he gave her when he got back in 1814 from the war. He had been stationed at Fort Meigs and thought the river was beautiful. They had gotten married in Buffalo, New York in 1820 and it had taken him until 1830 and the chance to buy land to talk her into coming on the boat from Cleveland. What John hadn’t told her was about the forests, the Indians, the wolves, and the ague. Every spring just about everybody got sick when they first came here. Sweats, shakes and fevers. That first year it hit her so bad she got it every evening for two months. Eventually she had some resistance.

Betsy frowned at the wood box. Those boys were supposed to have filled it up this morning. They were off again, probably messing around in the old Fort ruins. She wished they would stay away from there. Not only were there a lot of  sharp objects in the earth but what would happen if they found an unexploded ball from the war? And besides, there were a lot of soldiers buried in that area. It really was a cemetery. She signed. Boys would be boys, and at 14 and 15 years of age, they were going everywhere and seeing everything. She had tried to teach them their letters and numbers and was very glad last year to turn over the rest of their education to the new school-teacher.

Perrysburg and Maumee had gone in together to hire this fellow, Mr. Bingham. This was going to be his second year of teaching and at least he hadn’t kicked out John Jr. and Frederick. They were always pulling pranks and Mr. Bingham had talked to Betsy and John about the boys at the end of last year. He had warned that if they continued, they would be out of his schoolroom. When John and Betsy had talked sternly to the boys they had sworn they would reform.

Betsy was about to go out the door of the cabin to the well with her pan to get water where there was a furious pounding on the door. Betsy was so startled she dropped the pan.  “Who is it?” she asked in a frightened voice.

“WHERE IS MY BELL!” The voice was male and furious.

Betsy opened the door to see Mr. Bingham, his suit rumpled, his rust
colored hair standing on end and his face a startling puce color. At least that is what she would think puce was like, kind of a cross between purple and reddish brown.


“Mr Bingham. What in the world are you talking about?”


Betsy gasped. “Your bell in missing?” She knew that Mr. Bingham had
been waiting for a school bell for the same length of time she had been waiting for her stove. He felt about his bell the same way she felt about her stove.

“Mrs. Sprocket. I implore you to get my bell back.” His voice broke and Mr. Bingham collapsed into a dining room chair, placed his elbows on the table and buried his face into his hands.

 Betsy was appalled and patted him repeatedly on the back.

 From the end of the lane where the Jones cabin was located there was a sound of laughing young coming down the lane toward them.

“Ha, ha, ha, what do you think he’s going to say?”

“Do you think he’ll even notice? Ta, ha, ha, ha”

“He was so proud of that bell. Just like my ma and her stove! Oh, oh, he,
he, he.”

The boys, hers and Grover Jones came tumbling into the cabin.

 The silence, while she and the boys stared at each other was profound. Their gaze darted to Mr. Bingham then to Betsy, then to Mr. Bingham.

Mr. Bingham opened his mouth to shout at the boys and Betsy held up her hand to stop him. Betsy glared at the boys.

“Go put the bell back now!

“Aw ma, we were just joking around. He was so proud of that bell.”

“He should be proud of that bell. It means education to this community and the ability to call all the students in the area to school. If Mr. Bingham agrees, you will be punished all this year by being the ones to ring that bell every morning.” She looked at Mr. Bingham who nodded agreement.”

“Aw ma, that means getting up earlier than everyone else.”

“That’s right. It is either that or I tell your fathers and they will give you alot harder punishment with their good right arms.”

John came in the door, looked at his sons with a stern look and said “what have they done now?”

“Mom, Mr. Bingham, we would be proud to ring that bell every day.”

“Sure will!”

John looked suspiciously at his wife.

“John, isn’t it wonderful. Your sons will be ringing the school bell all this year.

By: Lee Forse

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