My grandparents, S. Ellsworth Hall and Agnes Maud Biggs Hall, were as much a part of my growing up life as my parents were. I saw them almost daily until I went to college in 1963. When they died – my grandfather in 1968 and my grandmother in 1970 – they left me photos and letters and memories and a feeling of being connected to a world that came before me.
My grandmother also left her gold beads. First they came to my mother, and then, when I married, my mother passed them on to me. They were probably a wedding present to Agnes when she married Ellsworth in 1913.
My great-grandmother wrote about the wedding in her journal:
December 27, 1913 – “A fine clear cold day. Ellsworth’s wedding day. Married at four o’clock in the afternoon to Agnes Maud Biggs by the Episcopal minister, Mr. Reynolds. The two families present including the brothers and sisters. A fine supper served by Mrs. Biggs at her home. House prettily trimmed with evergreens. All had a good time. The bride looked nice in her pretty white silk dress, also in her traveling suit. The groom very nice.” – Lydia Jane Hall
December 28, 1913 – “Cold night Saturday night, cold today. Ellsworth a married man. Spent the night with his bride in Springfield. His birthday today – thirty-two years old today. He has always been one of the best of boys to us all, and hope he may be blessed in all his ways that are good.” – Lydia Jane Hall
For their honeymoon my grandparents went to Stowe, Massachusetts, where this photo of them rabbit hunting (they called it rabbitting) was taken. They spent seven days away from the farm.
January 3, 1914 – “Cloudy and cold. We are wishing the bride and groom would come home. We want to see them.” – Lydia Jane Hall
January 7, 1914 – “Nice day – Ellsworth and Agnes came home. Looking well and happy. They had a very pleasant trip. We had oysters for supper. We all enjoyed them.” – Lydia Jane Hall
They came home to the farm and rarely left for the next fifty-four years. My grandfather couldn’t bear to be away from “wife,” as he often called her, and would succumb to fits of anxious burping and unhappiness when she was gone overnight. Someone, maybe my cousin Tom, took this picture of them in front of the farmhouse sometime in the early 1960’s. My grandmother wears her gold beads, just as she did all those years ago on her wedding trip. She wore them often on the farm, and I was used to seeing them around her neck. Now, when I wear them, I think of her, and the beads feel warm and comforting against my skin.
On Wednesday: Cows