By my generous pension and the income we had from our rooms, we managed to save something all the time by our frugal habits. Lottie got a position in a newspaper office, the leading daily in the city, as it was the oldest also, I believe. We were very much interested in her accounts of newspaper work. Life did not become monotonous to us for we kept ourselves interested in the happenings of the day. We took an interest in the development of the city, just as we had in the country we had left, where we had had many real pleasures as well as real trials. We felt happiest in being a part of the pulsating life of where we were, so to speak, as far as our limitations would permit. And I believe this disposition helped to kept us younger in body and spirit than had we been more indifferent to our environment.
As time went on we gave ourselves the pleasure of visiting the land of our younger days, and stirring times of the war, and etcetera. We had many friends there whom we had a real joy in meeting again. And later we took a trip to Oklahoma to visit mother's daughter, whom with her husband and family, lived on a good farm in the land of cyclones and cotton. This country being entirely different to any we had ever seen. We had saw lots to interest us for quite a while.
The abundance of fruit appealed favorably to us, and they had a very fine large orchard. Their children were very smart and promising. We had a real joy in visiting them, though mother was rather sick for a time. Her son-in-law was a very intelligent and courteous man, and his wife a most kind and attentive daughter to us. The children were unusually bright. They did all in their power to make us enjoy our visit with them and we certainly did return home fully satisfied with our visit in Oklahoma.
The democratic times of 1882 to 1886 made me even more sick of the party than ever, if possible. So when that grand man, William McKinley, was elected President, my joy was complete. I got a new lease on life then, sure enough. The ensuing four years were to have no serious political disappointments for us, I felt sure then. But the political change did not have much influence on upon our Dakota real-estate. We kept the taxes paid not really being sure that we would ever be able to get it back again. Finally someone promised to pay the taxes for grazing and cutting the wild hay grass upon it. Probably, we did get some income from it that way. But if I remember correctly, the trouble in getting it paid was worth all we ever got in that way, however, we felt that some day the land would surely be worth more than the expense we should be put to in keeping the taxes paid.
We had the Dakota Chief, the Buffalo County weekly paper, come to us for many years after we came to Waterloo. We were very much interested in seeing what was taking place among our old friends upon the prairies. But before the new century reached us there were many new names mentioned in the locals. There were people going into the country for stock raising on a larger scale than most of the old settlers could do. Men from eastern South Dakota, and Iowa, realized the opportunities in cattle raising, and grazing, upon those cheap ranges. There were two young men belonging to the county who saw the chance to make a fortune in the quickly rising prices of cattle. So they bought over twenty thousand dollars worth in 1898. They went into debt for nearly the whole amount. In a few years they had each made a fortune. We old pioneer-settlers were not jealous to see them succeed, but it did make us feel rather sad for ourselves.
Those settlers who left the county went in all directions. Some went to the Pacific regions, some to the Atlantic, and others went as far south as Mississippi. One of the most prominent of the county, and our nearest neighbor, traded his land for land in this state. He had a fine herd of blooded cattle and many well blooded horses. The market prices were just commencing to rise when he decided to go to the sunny south. This was a most unfortunate move for this man and wife who had already suffered so much by their unsuccessful farming in Dakota. He later traded his property, which was estimated at but little, and some good horses, which he had luckily raised there from the stock he took from Dakota, for real-estate in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The boom was just then coming on in that city, so this was a fortunate move for these unlucky people previously. Here they were to have the pleasure of having their brother beside them. He had left Dakota before they did. But his land was so heavily encumbered that he realized little more than enough in the sale of his property to pay his debts. He now was a draftsman for the railroad company in Shawnee, Oklahoma. He had remarried unhappily. His first died of paralysis many years before in Dakota.
Mother and myself had made four visits to Oklahoma, staying all winter with our daughter and family there where we were most kindly, and thoughtfully, treated by all. Now all of the Cleveland's, the people whom we have just been speaking before our own people, had died. The last spoken of brother committed suicide because of ill health and discouragement generally. Those early Dakota settlers who were able to stay there succeeded much better than most of those who left the country after staying there many years. About the year 1899, prices advanced for both livestock and grain and creameries were established throughout the grazing regions. These changed conditions brought real prosperity to those who would be industrious.
In June of nineteen three, Lottie married and moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Since that time mother and myself visited a good deal of among our relations in Minnesota, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Cedar Rapids. Mother was afflicted with rheumatism for several years which prevented us from going about the country, visiting our friends, as much as we should have been pleased to have done. But we were very thankful to have the blessing of having the very happy visits we had.
I had the very great pleasure of visiting Dakota twice in recent years. Friends were still dear to me. It was with genuine joy that I was permitted to see many of the old friends and neighbors who had weathered the storms of the prairies and were able to be there with a friendly handshake, and a talk of old times, with one who was nearing the century mark.
Since returning from our last visit to Oklahoma, three years ago, we made our home with Lottie and family in Cedar Rapids. Here as elsewhere, we were blessed with the happiness of being surrounded by loving friends - those who had the time, and the heart and soul, to share with we two people who had gone so far beyond the allotted span of life. Its one if the greatest joys of life, to reach the fast declining side of life, and feel you are welcome to mingle with the young people, and have a real place in their affections. We have always had a strong place in our affections for them, so I suppose the old bible truth holds good here as elsewhere - "what ye sow, also shall ye reap".
My real interest in things political, I have still retained. I have always been an ardent admirer of Theodore Roosevelt. He hadn't been President long when I was convinced of his superlative quality of a chief executive, and a leader for righteousness in all that pertained to individual and national life. I consider him to still be one of the really great men of the world, in spite of the vilification of his political enemies. When he founded the Progressive party I was convinced that he was right in contending against the corruption and inefficiencies of the two old parties. I had been with the Republican party ever since its birth. But I had also realized that there had been evils crept into the machinery of the party since the time of Abraham Lincoln. And I was Glad that at last we had a big enough, and strong enough, man to declare against the things in the party which were against truly representative government. And the challenge of the new party for social service made a strong appeal to me.
After one has lived for nearly a century, and has had the kind of experiences that I have had, one feels that greatest achievements are but those which contribute to the happiness and the welfare of the masses. They are the ones who are in need of all that can be done to lighten their burdens, and in all ways bring the kingdom of heaven all a little nearer to them while they are here on earth. We want a more equal distribution of opportunities to gain the things of this world which will enable us to live above a bare existence. In other words, as an illustration, I do not believe for a moment that it is right for the President of a railroad to have a salary of a hundred thousand dollars a year, and the section man, a dollar and thirty five cents per day. Or the President of an insurance company to have a salary like the railroad President, and the agent who has his life worried out to get business and receive six dollars per week as his salary, or work on commissions entirely as does the great Metropolitan Insurance Company of New York. Or a big department store declare twelve to fifteen percent dividends while they have dozens of girls working for four or five dollars per week, and give five thousand dollars to the new YMCA, or a like sum to a college endowment fund.
I rejoice more than ever when we see that Theodore Roosevelt, with all of his wealth, power, and influence, is fighting for these things which will, if allowed to come to pass, be great factors in elevating humanity.
Two years ago another great joy came into our lives when a little grandson was born to our youngest child, Lottie. He came just two hours late of being a Christmas present and he was indeed a great joy to his father and mother. We shall never forget the loving patience mother had with the baby. How happy she was in helping in the care of him. And never once did any one of us hear her say an impatient word to him, no matter what he did. Her love for baby was beautiful to behold. Though she was quite badly crippled with rheumatism, she insisted on being allowed to help in the many things of the household duties. She would say when we advised her to sit down and rest, or read, "Oh my no, I'm resting at this. I think I'm really getting lazy as I get older", and she would laugh quite heartily over it. Thomas Hileman Pirnie kept us all busy in turns. One had one thing, and the other had another thing to do for his comfort and amusement. He was so fat and white that he reminded us of his mother so much when she was his age.
Since we moved to the city, twenty years ago, there were very few days in which I did not take a walk, winter and summer. So since the baby came most of my walks have been in perambulating my pal over much of the east side if the city. The meat market had been quite been quite a favorite resort for us in the morning. Here he has been quite the center of attraction of the ladies especially. The shopkeepers wife always having time to take particular notice of my little pal. Many have asked his parents if they did not feel afraid to let me take him out for such long rides. But so far we have not had an accident that disturbed our peace very much. I have always loved little children very much, it had always been one of the joys of my life to demonstrate to them my affection. And my life has not been lonely to me, probably due, very much, to the interest the in the young people.
Bernice, our granddaughter, has made her home with Lottie and husband for the past seven years. And her progress in life has concerned me much. And I have taken pleasure in trying to do something to help her for her journey through life, which may be a long one if she inherits the longevity of the Hileman family.
Mother and myself derive pleasure of doing what we could to help others when we considered that the occasion warranted it. Mother was always first thinking of the needs of others to the extent of sacrificing her own comfort and bodily welfare.
Mother and myself were intending to visit daughter Nettie and family in Oklahoma in the late springtime. Nettie and her children, and grandson Nattie, had been bereaved in the loss of husband and father in the month of August previously. So we thought we might be able, in some way, to help them by our presence for a few weeks, as well as enjoying ourselves by the visit. But mothers rheumatism became so very bad, weakening her limbs so much, that all but she were very doubtful of our being able to go when the appointed time should arrive. She was happy in the anticipation of again seeing her daughter and family so soon, and everyday talked of our experiences of the winters when we had visited them.
When the time arrived that we had planned should be our time to be with them, she was taken seriously sick, and she did consent to remain in bed. The doctor told us, that on account of her advanced age, the disease would be very hard to overcome, but said it would be possible for her to recover for a time at least. For a few days we sometimes believed that mother would yet be spared to us, but she became worse, and we telegraphed for all of her children to come as soon as possible. And we were very thankful that she was able to know them all and to visit a little with them. And when death relieved her of suffering, less than three weeks later, he children were with her.
Ah yes, our grief was keen to lose a wife and a mother, who had loved and lived as she did, but we could not wish her back. She had lived her life well. We felt that she must be at rest and peace with her god. She always lived in the Christian faith. The immortality of the soul, she believed, was as sure as anything realized in this mortal part of our existence. A silent prayer of mine would be that all would have as much happiness in their wedded life as had come to us. Mother would have been eighty four years of age today, the thirtieth day of November, had she lived, this being the year nineteen fourteen.
I am still blessed with good health and strength, and my faculties are all sound, which is a great deal to be thankful for. And I feel a keen interest in all the things which affect the whole world. This awful war that is shaking the whole of Europe makes us wonder if our civilization has made the strides we imagined that it had. I feel sure that Germany, though it be the land of my ancestors, is in the wrong. And I hope that the allies will win in such a way that the menace of militarism will banished from the earth forever. I went through one awful war, and my prayer has always been that there would be no occasion for more war throughout the world. There is nothing truer than what General Sherman said of it. I feel that I have had a quite a share of the hardships of life. It has been fighting with one thing or another much of the time. But my life has been crowded full of happiness too. Yes, life is well worth the living, though I have had ninety four years of it.
By Thomas Pirnie Sr.
It is to be regretted that some friend of the family did not narrate the life of father Hileman other than myself. For I feel discouraged in the attempt I have made to give others an account of his life's experiences. His life has been truly remarkable in the lapse of time it has covered, and the varied experiences he has had.
His ancestors fought for the establishment of our republic with fervent zeal, though they were born and reared in the land of royalty. So did he offer his life that the nation should live? It was not love of excitement, or occupation for livelihood, that took him into our south land to fight against our own flesh and blood. He was a man supposed to be past the prime of life when that sad struggle took place. And after his return from the terrible experience he had been through, especially in the prisons of war, after being allowed time to meet his friends and regain some of his former strength and vigor, he was eager to go to battle again for the nation's life - and again he offered his life upon the battlefield. Could anyone question that this was patriotism that deserved reward of those who were to reap the blessing of such service?
As a boy we find him enduring all the hardships of pioneering in the rocky hills and forest covered regions of his father. In all of his troubles here we find that life was full of enjoyment for him. Then we see him striving to get an education; here he works constantly, but also finds time to have fun, to enjoy life besides success in his studies.
When he arrives at mature years we find him intensely entwisted in the common things of life, though he does not succeed in getting wealthy, is a real part of the life that surrounds him. He appears to never have been lost in dreams of the future, nor reflections of the past. The present moment, and the existing things, all received his closest attention.
As a pioneer upon the prairies of Illinois he does his best to immediately adapt himself to the change of conditions. He liked his new home and at once prepares to like his new friends. Not forgetting his old friends way back in Pennsylvania, but to become but here, as he was there - really alive in the community.
Though not accomplishing as much financially, and in a business way, yet taking a real interest in everything that related to the development of the community. He had misfortune, but he was always ambitious, in a fair way, to get some of the world's goods. After failing in his quest of gold at Pikes Peak, we find him taking employment upon a riverboat for means of the support of his family, since he lost his season's opportunity on the farm. Then when the war came, he left his family and all, to give the very best that was in him for his country. His whole energies were in this as they had been in everything throughout his life. Here his optimism was a real service to those in the awful wretchedness of Anderson's prison life, especially. After the war, his health was so wrecked, that the best doctors told him that he had less than two years to live. Here his grit came to his rescue as also his faith that Dakota could do something for him to regain his health. Here we find him enjoying life again amongst new friends, though he was past sixty years of age.
At seventy years of age, I have seen him enjoying himself as few of the young men did upon the dance floor, upon the floor of debate or beside the baseball field. He was always intensely interested in the life about him, and he was not dreaming of the coming century, nor of the days of Julius Caesar. Those real things about him were the vital things in his life. And when he came to Iowa, he became interested in Iowa affairs, but not forgetting his liking of Dakota less. He became warmly attached to his new made friends in Waterloo. The city was the chief center of interest to him. There was none more loyal to it than he and his sentiment.
He has made his home in Cedar Rapids for several years, and today he knows more about the city, and its affairs, than some who have lived here twice as long, for he takes an interest in the things about him. He has had many good friends among his neighbors here. The children for many blocks about us know and love "Grandpa", for he always knows and loves the little children.
Father never succeeded in becoming rich in the sense of the word as it is usually used. But he is rich! He has plenty to keep him from worry. He has done more for his friends than perhaps some who have had a hundred times his worldly goods. His life has been full of friends who never forgot him. He enjoys the life the Lord gave him and rejoices in seeing others happy. May his life be spared for many years to come.
The nearer the lives of father and mother Hileman mingle with my own, the better I understood them, the deeper has been my love for them. I am very, very, sorry that our little darling son cannot have the memory of his Grandmother Hileman, who loved him so tenderly and patiently. It was a blessing to live with one who was so filled with loving kindness.
Finished this thirtieth day of November, nineteen fourteen. 921 South Twelfth Street, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Copyright ©1999 by Harold D. Hileman
Permission to reprint the "The Memoirs of Michael Hileman Jr." is granted unless specifically stated otherwise, PROVIDED: (1) the reprint is used for non-commercial, educational purposes; and (2) a copy of this notice appears at the end of the reprint.
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