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The Life of John W. Johnson
Chapter 15
Vacation - 1859 to 1860

Transcribed - June 1998 - by Ne-Do-Ba

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The morning we started was one of the most beautiful mornings of the season, and with a good double-barreled gun, and with my dog at my side, we started off for a tour to the lakes. The first day, we arrived at Rumford Corner, where we stopped over night, and in the morning resumed our journey, continuing our way for a short distance to Ellis river, where we launched a birch canoe that we had bought, and took our course up the river, our dog swimming along behind, and at times running along upon the shore. This was the most winding and tortuous stream that I ever saw, and in one place by carrying our canoes about four rods across a strip of lands we saved more than a mile of distance by water. In some three days after we started we arrived at Andover, where we stopped a week waiting for a team to go into the lakes, to take our things.

One night while there, as I camped by the side of the river, I went out after muskrats. By imitating a noise that they make, persons may call them around their canoes if any are near. I called one up to the canoes but as he came up at the side, I was afraid to fire, fearful that I might lose my balance, as the concussion would be great upon the canoe. I therefore paddled my canoe around, and the rat dived into the waters and came up at the side again, and this was continued for some time, until at last somewhat excited, I fired from the side, and the result was that the canoe was overturned, and I was precipitated into the water. I had to drop my gun in the water, which was some fifteen feet deep, so as to be enabled to reach the shore. My dog hearing the report of my gun, slipped his head from his collar, and ran down to the river, and pointing him to the canoe in the river, he swam in and seized the canoe by his teeth, and brought it ashore. The next day a small boy brought me my paddle, having picked it up some distance down the river, and taking my canoe I went out and fished up my gun from the river. A few days after, we started for the lakes, walking through the woods in a miserable road, and hearing that there was a camp near the lake, we went to it, but it was in such a miserable condition that we left it, and built us a camp near the lake.

The team that had our things came in a few days after, bringing our provisions, which we were glad to see, as we were entirely out. We stopped at the lakes a number of days, spending our time in fishing and gunning, having fine times. I caught some beautiful salmon trout, and also speared salmon in the rapids, between the lakes, in the night, by the light of torches, which is very exciting work. After visiting different parts of the lakes, and enjoying much the few days that we spent there, somewhat reluctantly we turned our faces homeward. As we journeyed down the lake in our canoe, as we arrived opposite Metallic Point, it blew so furiously that we had to go ashore. We went to a place that was called the "farm-house." This place the hunters always made a home, and there were many conveniences for those who made it their quarters. To save gathering wood for a fire, they used to knock down some of the inside work and cut it up for fuel. I found that some hunters were stopping here as this time, for in one of the rooms I saw quite a lot of skins of different animals, hanging around the room, and there was also a number of partridges, and as my wife's appetite was rather poor, and we were entirely out of provisions, I took a couple and made a stew, feeling that the emergency of the case would Justify the act. We started the next day and went down the lake to the Narrows, where I camped with a man named Leonard, who was there with a small company. I acted as cook, and they were much pleased with my modes of cooking, and I had a very pleasant time while stopping there. After stopping a few days we started to walk across the woods in letter C. We came to one very romantic and beautiful spot whilst walking through the woods. There is one place where the travelers generally cross; it is a narrow cut between two high cliffs upon each side, and through this narrow defile a stream of water rushes swiftly down a bed of rocks, and at the time we were there, the stream was swollen, and it was with extreme difficulty that we were enabled to cross. A short distance down where we crossed, the narrow defile seemed filled with the spray of water, and the rays of the sun shining upon the mist above the rocky sides gave a deep, dark hue to the spray below.

It was a brilliant scene from the river bed up to where the sunlight fell upon the mist; there were changing colors, alternating as the rays of sun lifted upwards. We stopped to view this beautiful scene, but while gazing, those bright hues disappeared, and the darkness indicated the approach of night, and we turned reluctantly away, and continued our homeward march.

At night we arrived at Andover, where we stopped a few days, and selling our canoe, and procuring a carriage, as my wife was not well, I carried her to Andover Corner, where we stopped with Mr. Roberts. We here took the stage for Woodstock, N.H., but I had rode but a short distance before I missed my dog, and getting out I started back to find him, and went back some distance before I found him. I started then to walk for Woodstock, getting a ride part of the distance with a man who overtook me on the road. I rode with this man through Bethel, where he showed me a house where there was a child named Wilbur stolen by the Indians many years before. After leaving the man I kept on towards Woodstock, where I arrived in a short time, and found my wife there.

From there we went to South Paris, where we stopped until November practicing medicine, and then moved to our saloon to Bridgton where I stopped part of the winter of 1860. I wanted while here to see my folks, and we started one day and walked to Deacon Haley's at Sebago, and I went a hunting one day while there for partridges. I found that it was an excellent place to hunt, for a person might hunt all day without seeing anything. I next started with my wife to see my folks, and secured a passage to Steep Falls, and from there I walked to Hollis where I supposed my father still lived, but meeting a person with whom I was acquainted, to my surprise, he said that my father had moved to Biddeford. I was much disappointed at this piece of information, as I intended to surprise my father, as it was Thanksgiving day. I stopped that night at my uncle's, and the next morning we were carried a short distance upon our way, and then we walked the reminder of the distance to Salmon Falls, stopping over night with a friend of mine.

The next day we continued our journey, and walked to Biddeford where I found my father; I stopped with him about a week, and then we went to Limington, where I had left some of my things sometime before. I built me a sled while here, and as my dog was large and stout, I harnessed him in. At first he was somewhat rebellious, but after some little coercion he became more docile, and at last went along very well. I stopped at Sebago one night, and then went to Bridgton, where my saloon was, where I stopped a few days. Whilst here my wife was taken sick, and as I had no conveniences at my place, I went with my wife to Biddeford again, and stopped with my father. My wife not recovering her health, and as she wished to see her folks who were then stopping at Oldtown, when somewhat recovered, she left my father's, and went there in March last, where she has remained since that time.

Many of the incidents that have occurred whilst with the Indians are necessarily omitted, as it was intended to make a small volume, and we have also endeavored to state incidents as they occurred, and in a truthful manner, and if we have erred upon either side, it is in not giving full force to them, and presenting occurrences as they actually were, but we had rather err upon this side than to give that fictitious cast and high coloring which is now so generally done in all reading that is presented to the public.

We cannot conclude our narrative better than by using the language of the Scripture, which the father has found so appropriate to his case, "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." FINIS.

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