Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Absolom McDonald Young 1813 - 1899

My father was Absolom McDonald Young, my mother Matilda Shepherd.  My grandfather was Robert H. Young and my great grandfather was John Young but I cannot remember my grandmother’s name.  My father, my uncle, Pleasant Young and my brother Robert young, were all doctors.  My grandfather, my father and my Uncle Robert were also plantation owners.  Uncle Robert following the customs of the South owned slaves, but my father and my grandfather both thought it was very wrong for one human being to own another and did not do so. 

My mother often told me of the time of my birth.  Since there were no towns of any size only vast fields and forests my father had to drive long distances to visit his patients.  On one of these trips my brother went along.  Coming home he accidently fell off the wagon and was seriously injured.  His face was crushed, his nose broken and his jaw fractured.  An old Negro came running to my mother and asked her to come.  Bravely she went along with him through the woods in the black of night.  Two days later I was born.

I can look back with pleasure on the days of my childhood, spent on our large plantation of 1600 acres.  It seemed to me that everything that few was to be found there if you just took the trouble to go out and get it.  There were at least three different kinks of walnuts.  There were also chestnuts and chinkapins or dwarf chestnuts, for they are only one-fourth as large.  We have the chinkapins to the hogs. And at the chestnuts.  We simply picked them up when they fell off the trees and the burrs fell from them.  Then we spent many a pleasant evening around the fire roasting them.

We also had many sugar maple trees.  I can remember seeing the men tap these trees to make the maple syrup.  We stood around and watched and when the work was all done it was always a great time for us children.  We got the last batch for candy.

In the fall when the acorns and chinkipins fell the servants would turn the hogs out into the woods to fatten for the winter killing.  Then when the cold weather se in came hog-killing time.  I cane remember all this—how the hogs were killed; how we salted down the meat; how much sausage we made; how the meat was finally hung up to cure in the smokehouse.  I haven’t forgotten either how good it tasted—great platters of ham and eggs and stalks of buckwheat cakes to be eaten with maple syrup made from our own sugar-maple trees.  How well I can still see our large family grouped around the table on joying those meals! 

We had no near neighbors and as the other children were all so much older than I was, it was up to a large extent for me to amuse myself.  Now on our plantation there was a big cave.  This was so large that no one knew just how far back it did go or had ever found the end of it.  I played here in the mouth of this cave all alone.

I want to tell you about how my tree houses that I liked even better.  I can still see how I made them.  The trunks of the trees grew short from the ground.  Big logs grew up from these trunks.  These logs were covered with  moss.  I would take this moss and roll it up into a ball and put it up into the low forks of some tree.  I would then spread it all over the wide spreading branches and build the floor for my playhouse.  Then I would play here for hours and hours with my acorn dolls.

I remember very distinctly the drug room where our father kept his medicines.  There was shelf after shelf full of these.  Some he compounded himself of native herbs but most of them were purchased.  I like to spend much time with my father here.   I dearly loved my father and my ambition was to become a doctor like him when I grew up.  I can still see the picture we made as we strode about in a deep study with me behind him, trying to keep up with his long strides.  If I could just be out following him about the fields I would be perfectly happy.  In my tree houses I played doctor and kept various bottles of water as medicine for my dolls.

I can remember the war vividly.  M father was too old to fight so he was forced to make long trips hauling provisions for the soldiers.  Several times soldiers came to our house and tried to compel m father to give them his horses and cattle but he would never unlock his barn door for them. And they never forced him to.  He always told them that he had a large family and needed all that he had to feed his children.  I can remember hearing guns going off in the distance but the fighting never came so very close to our plantation. 

Once a young deserter from the army came to our house.  He was so young scarcely more than a child, that my father took pity on him.  He hid him in the woods and the servant’s carried food and water to him out there until it was safe for him to go on. 

My mother made all the clothing for us children and all our household linens.  I can still see her as she worked over her small spinning wheel.  She spun the thread and then died the yarn with herbs she gathered from the woods.  The only linen she purchased was that which went into my father’s shirts.  My father wore tailored suits but my mother made everything else.  All the sewing was done by hand in her beautiful, precise stitches.

Sometimes we went visiting at the home of our Uncle Robert, who lived some distance away.  I would ride on the saddle in front of my mother and away we would go through the woods.  At night the Negro mammies would put us children to bed.  As she tucked each child in, the mammy would kiss her good-night.  But I would never let her kiss me!

I would about four years old when some Elders from the Mormon Church in Utah came to our part of the country to tell the people about their religion.  My father and mother were very receptive of their father and sympathetic with their work.  These men made such a big impression on me that I can even remember the name of one of them.  It was Dusenberry.  Before they returned to Utah both my father and my mother had been converted and baptized into the faith of the Mormons. 

A short time after this my father died.  He was called out on a bitter cold sleety night to visit a patient.  He contracted pneumonia from the exposure and was very ill for days.  On his death bed he made my mother promise that she would take us children an go to Utah, for he was certain that if we remained in Virginia we would be persecuted for our religious belief as were the Mormons in all parts of the country except Utah.

So my mother sod our houses, hogs, sheep and cattle for what she could get for them in order to raise money for the journey.  We were unable to get anything for our land or for the furniture in the house.  Nobody would but it from us because we were Mormons.  So we left the estate in the hands of an administrator, a man named Hubble, whom my father had always considered honest.  He never did anything for us though.  Out of the entire 1600 acre plantation we realized only something like five or six hundred dollars. From The Story of My Life by Sarah L. Young Vance

President Erastus Snow:
I know drop you a few lines to let you know how I am getting along in this part of the vineyard.  I have charge of between two and three hundred members of the church of Jesus Christ in Virginia, and North Carolina.  I am preaching and baptizing through this land all I can, and if you have a surplus Elder whom you can recommend as worthy of his calling, tell him to come over and help us.

I had a worthy brother and fellow laborer in the Gospel covenant, whom all the Saints loved, and the world could not hate, because of his confirmed walk and conversation through life, but he has left his stage of action to visit the spirit world, to reap a glorious reward for his labors in the cause of Christ.  I would to God that all men were as he, for he lived the life of the righteous and died a righteous death.  Brother Samuel Rogers was greatly lamented by all the Saints in this part of the vineyard.

I must say to you President Snow, that since the LUMINARY has come to hand, it has revived the hearts of the Saints who were bowed down, and for my own part, I cannot help thanking you for coming down from the hill of Zion to defend the truth, and let the world know there are two sides of the question to read, instead of the one that has been going the rounds of the journals, clothed with the latest of lies, which are preached from the pulpits by those long faced hypocrites who have no more regard for the souls of men than for the beasts of the field.  Money is their motive- it is money that leads them to preach their dogmas, for which they are determined to persist in error.

May God bless all this Saints throughout the world may the Elders gird on the whole armor of God, that they may resist all opposition and come off more than more than conquerors, and go home to Zion laden with many Sheaves.  Absalom M. Young. September 4, 1855 Smith county VA. Taken from the St. Louis Luminary, Saturday Sep 29, 1855