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The Life of John W. Johnson
Chapter 12
More Travel - 1855 to 1856?

Transcribed - June 1998 - by Ne-Do-Ba

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The doctor soon after went to New Bedford and sent for my and my wife, and packing up our things, we went to that place. We stopped one night and then went to Fairhaven, where we built a camp and stopped some six weeks. The doctor practiced extensively here and took some considerable money. My wife was quite sick while here, but the white people around us were very kind, sending her many little luxuries and endeavoring to make her as comfortable as possible by contributing many things that would be for her benefit. We next went to Lawrence where we remained until January, 1856. My wife, having recovered her health in some measure, commenced to practice. We got out of a certain kind of medicine while here, and I walked to Lowell and called on Dr. Peter Cooley, but as he didn't have what I wanted I called on Mr. Masta, another Indian doctor, but not getting the medicine there, I started for Concord, N.H., walking upon the Monmouth road. Night overtaking me on the road I called at a number of houses to get lodgings, but the people were all suspicious of me, and I could not get a chance to stop at any of them. I therefore left the road and went across a field into the edge of the woods, and having a small hatchet I procured some pitchwood and soon had a fire. I had not eaten anything for the day and was hungry, but as I had a good fire I felt pretty comfortable, and scraping away the snow I laid down some brush, and laid down to sleep with my faithful dog at my side. I had been there but a short time when I heard voices and persons coming through the bushes, and my dog began to growl. Soon a man asked me what I was doing. I told him that I had camped out for the night, that having tried in vain to get lodgings at the houses, I had, as a last resort, made me a bed in the woods. Some that came were ones that I had asked for lodgings, and feeling somewhat ashamed, they asked me to go and sleep in their barn, but I assured them that I had much rather sleep where I was. They felt that it was not just right to turn a poor man away from their houses in a winter's night, and they went home and soon returned with clothing for me and victuals in abundance, as they could not get me to accept any invitation to lodge in their houses. Feeling very independent, I did not touch the clothing nor taste of the food, but I left in the morning the same as they brought it to me, although I was quite hungry. The next morning I started a partridge, and with my knife and hatchet I made me a bow and arrows, and shot him, and taking him to my fire, and made a good meal from him. I soon after shot another partridge and a squirrel as I went along, which I carried to Concord, and from there sent them to my wife. I arrived at Manchester, N.H., where I was acquainted with some of the people, and going into a saloon I soon made two or three dollars shooting at money. I started off again for Concord where I arrived about four in the afternoon, and went to Dr. Gloshian, an Indian doctor, who had the kind of medicine that I wanted. The doctor had some stock to make bows and arrows of, and that night after I arrived there I made some nine shillings' worth. I sent what money I had to my wife, and stopped in Concord about a week, making bows and arrows which I sold, and the proceeds of my week's work was fifteen dollars. I went back to Lawrence, and then went to Salmon Falls, N.H. I had a very hard winter, my wife being sick most of the time, whilst I had to work very hard making baskets and selling them, carrying them upon my shoulders around the village to sell. I brought the ash that I made my baskets of, some seven miles, and from there I went some distance into the swamps to get the ash, bringing out the sticks upon my shoulder through the ice, mud, and water, which was exceedingly tiresome. When I came here with my wife I was entirely out of money, and not being able to buy, I had to hire a stove to put in my camp, the wood that I burnt I brought upon my shoulder quite a distance. We next moved to Dover, N.H., and getting some circulars printed, we went to Milton, Three Ponds, arriving there about 11 o'clock at night, without money, but I went to a tavern there and told the keeper that I was without money, and that I wanted supper and lodgings for myself and wife that night, and that I would pay him as soon as I was able. The keeper gave us our supper and lodgings, and the next morning I went out and found a small store, the front of which was empty, which I hired and moved my things into it, and the first day I was there I took money enough to pay my bill at the tavern.

I was awakened the first morning after I entered the building by a strange noise that proceeded from the other end of the building, as it was partitioned off, and I occupied the front. After getting up I looked into the other part, and found it occupied by a cow. This was the first time that I had ever occupied the same building with animals, but I found that they were very good neighbors, and I had such rather live near them than many persons whom I have been neighbors to. I distributed my circulars throughout the village, and my wife had considerable practice. We stopped here until May, and then we went to Milton Falls, about eight miles distant, and hired a room, and went to house-keeping. We remained here some two months, doing very well, and before leaving I bought a yoke of steers, and making a light cart, I loaded up our things and went to Wakefield's Corner, and occupied a room in a hotel a short time, and then commenced to board out at Squire Copp's. We next went to Wolfsboro', and having previously engaged rooms there, we moved into them, but not liking our new quarters we went to board with Mr. Loud, and my wife practiced medicine, and we did very well.

From this place we went to North Wolfsboro', and stopped a short time, and then went to Wolfsboro', where we purchased some cloth and built a tent, and camped out near Capt. Roberts, whose family used us with great kindness. We slept in our tent, and had our office there, and took our meals at Mr. Chadbourn's, by whom we were kindly treated. Whilst here I used to leave my camp in charge of my dog, who would not let any person take anything from the tent, excepting our circulars which were upon a table in the middle of our tent. If a person touched anything besides these while we were gone, my dog would go and look up in his face and growl, as much as to say, "If you know when you are well, off, you will put that down." When we went to our meals we used to leave the dog in our tent, and when we went to visit patients, he was the most intelligent animal that I ever saw.

I used to travel considerable upon the Boston and Maine railroad, and when I first took my dog with me, the conductor told me that I could not take him in the cars with me. I told him that if my dog could not go in the cars, I could not. After some little parlaying he concluded to let my dog go, and ever after that my dog was quite a favorite upon the road, and whenever the conductor came along, he would always ask my dog where his ticket was, and with an intelligent look he would gaze up into the conductor's face and bark, and the conductor would pass on.

I had to go some distance to get ash to make into baskets, and lugging it out of the swamps, I would load up my cart and haul it home. I shot a great many squirrels with my bow and arrow, and I practiced much with my bow while here, and I could kill at as great a distance as the small guns would that were used then.

My wife while here was visited by a great many deaf people, and I had to do all the talking when they came to the tent, and I used to get almost worn out, and sometimes I have no doubt I was a little cross, for it is a fact that deaf people want to talk a great deal more than others, and my lungs were well exercised while here. I think I never saw a place where there were so many deaf people as at this place.

We next went to Freedom, and had our camp near the village, and we here did very well, and I saved up some considerable money. My wife's folks came while here, giving exhibitions, but soon went away again. I bought me a horse which I kept in the rear of a store which I hired and moved into. One night I was awakened by the noise of some person trying to pry open the store door, but my dog, hearing the noise, sprang through the glass in the door, and by the noise and struggling upon the outside I had not much doubt but that my dog had grappled some one. I hurried to the door and saw a man making off up the road, when he jumped into a pung where there was another man, and drove off. I found, at the door, some shreds of clothing, showing that my dog had made some havoc in the garment of the person, if nothing more. A short time after, I took my team, and with my wife I went after a load of firewood, my dog following along behind. I loaded up my team and started homeward. While going along I noticed my dog lingered along behind, gnawing a bone. I did not take much notice of it until I saw him stagger, and remembering that a short distance back he had run down to a brook to drink, I came to the conclusion that he had been poisoned. I went up to a house and got some oil and gave him, but it was too late, the poison had begun to do its work, and he grow weaker and shortly died. I felt very sorrowful at losing him, for he had always proved himself a friend to me, sharing, as he had many times, one-half of my meal. He never proved treacherous on any occasion, but was always faithful, warning me of danger, and ever ready to defend me or my property. I would much rather have lost my horse or steers, yes, all, rather than to have parted with my dog. But he was gone. I brushed away the tears that filled my eyes, and having engaged a man to bury him, I returned home to my camp feeling rather sorrowful.

We shortly moved to Newfield, and while on the road two men came driving up behind us, and rather saucily cried out for us to get out of the road. The snow was pretty deep and my sled was loaded. My wife was behind me in the pung, and as they came up, one of them jumped out and ran forward to my horse's head. My horse had a trick of biting every one that came very near him, and as the follow got pretty near, he seized him by the arm and throw him down. The man was not used to this kind of action, and he was somewhat surprised, and got up vowing vengeance against my horse, but I told the man that he had better let him alone. He did not say anything more, but pulling his sleigh out upon the side of the road, they passed by us.

We stopped at Newfield with a man named Newbegin, and while here some of my wife's folks came to visit us, and the man that brought them I had to pay nine dollars for their fare, and also had to build an extra tent to accommodate them. Soon after, two of my wife's brothers came, and I paid seven dollars to the man that brought them, as they came in an extra team. I thought that was rather hard upon me; this seemed to be a new way of paying visits, making me pay their fare for their passage, probably thinking that the great pleasure I should experience in seeing their faces would be more than sufficient to balance the bills. I did not think so, but was much better satisfied when they left than when they came.

We moved from here to Limerick, Me., where I hired a room under Squire Lord's office, who made me agree when I entered it that I would not make a disturbance while there, but my wife's brothers were with me, and they were a noisy set. They used to fiddle and dance, and often the Squire would rap on the floor for them to stop their noise. My wife's folks got into debt here and I had to settle the bills. They also rode my horse and drove him very hard, and upon the whole I thought I was treated rather badly, and determined, the first good opportunity that I had, I would leave. A friend of mine asked me, one day, if I did not wish to go over and see my sister. I told him my situation, and that I had got sick and tired of living in the way I did. I therefore took my horse and got a carriage, and started with my friend to go to my sister's, not letting my wife or her brothers know where I was going. I went first to an uncle's and stopped a few days, and then went to Mr. Bowdoin's, my sister's husband, who had recently moved to Limington, where I met my father, this being the third time we had met since I was recognized as his son. The first night I was there I had quite a long conversation with my sister, who, asked me about my life with the Indians, and if I could remember anything before I was taken by them. I told her that I could not remember anything distinctly. She then repeated the following little prayer that she said I used to repeat to her when I laid down to sleep:

"Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take."

My sister then asked me if I had no recollection of repeating this little prayer. Whilst my sister was repeating it, a vision of my childhood seemed to float in my mind -- those little verses had awakened some glimpses of days far back in early life -- that indistinct recollection of a little prayer that had floated in my memory, but which I could not grasp, but when my mind was set upon the task of recollecting it, it would take its flight -- now burst afresh upon my memory, and I could almost realize distinctly the time when they were repeated to me at my bedside. Now all doubts as to my being the lost child, in my mind, were dissipated; and from that moment I felt that I had a dear father, kind brothers, and loving sisters, yet it seemed strange, alone as I had always been, looking on no one as near to me, to be thus surrounded by friends, and made me feel extremely happy. Before this I had no desire to be with the whites, no desire to find friends among them, but from that conversation with my sister, I was led to look at life in a somewhat different light than I had before.

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