Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site

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The following verse was penned by Samuel Ferguson Steele of Baraboo, Wisconsin on December 20, 1892 after returning from a trip with his niece to his old home in Delaware County. I have several photos that were taken on that trip. According to the late Fletcher Davidson, they were taken at the end of Boggs Road.The Steele place was on the mountain side there, now overgrown with trees.

Uncle Sam was the youngest of the 12 children of Robert and Nancy (Dunshee) Steele of the Town of Bovina, Delaware County New York. Robert is buried there in the old Nichols Cemetery. I have a double Steele line. Uncle Sam's brothers Alexander (who married Martha Loretta Kelly) and James (who married Jane Cowan) were my great-great-great-grandfathers.

The Steeles left NY 1846-48 under the impetus of the Anti-Rent War. [The sheriff was after a couple of them] The last time I was in Delaware County, the Manards Flat School was still there with the babbling brook running by it & the daffodils growing near. Note: I didn't correct spelling. Patti at Pine Crest Farm near Lodi WI, March 29, 2000

Uncle Sam's Verse:

The dreary wintry day drew to a close,

The wind sighed mournfully through leafless boughs;

Behind gray clouds, the sun sunk in the west;

Another day of toil and care was past.

I sat me down beside the glowing fire

To rest my weary limbs in th'old armchair;

My faithful dog, head resting on my knee,

His wistful gaze so full of sympathy;

His chiefest joy my slightest wish t'obey.

When seeming danger threatens, rushes to the fray,

Nor hesitates though unequal be the strife,

Defending me or mine, he'd freely give his life.

Poor faithful Dan, you seek for no reward,

Except a gentle pat or kindly word.

Thrice blessed by the man who 'mong his kind

A friend so true, so trusty, he may find.

While thus I sat in listless dreamy mood,

Quick as the lightning's flash, again I stood

In fancy, 'mong the Catskill's crags, to roam

'Mid scenes that cluster round my childhood's home.

The streamlet bubbling from old roundtop's side

Down tiny caskades leap; now o'er smooth pebbles glide,

Now 'neath the drooping ferns or dogwood hide,

The source from whence old Delaware's rolling tide.

Through waving meadows wind the sparkling rills,

The towering maples, crowning grass clad hills

Where lowing cattle graze; and bleating flocks,

Secure from noonday heat 'neath sheltering rocks.

Slopes white with daisies, capped by rocky dome,

Where, safe from mortal foes, the woodchuck finds a home.

Happy barefooted boys, we climbed the brambly steeps

And picked blackberries where the woodbiine creeps.

Threw well-aimed stones at squirrels, perched high beyond our reach,

Or gathered stores of nuts, beneath the spreading beech.

Down in the shady glen, with murderous baited hook,

I drew the wriggling trout from out his native brook.

From th'old barn eaves the chattering swallows spring;

Beneath the poplar tree the dear old creaking swing,

Adorn the hill, beside the apple tree,

Again; the sparkling bubbling spring, I see,

The water gushing from the gray rock's cleft,

Where kneeling, I so oft its coolings quaft.

How strangly, vividly, comes back the scene,

With happy playmates on the School House green;

On MAYNARDS FLAT, in sheltered sunny nook,

There stands the old gray schoolhouse by the brook;

Light-hearted boys and girls in childish glee,

In groups assembled, 'neath the old elm tree

In quest of ferns and flowers, climbed rocks and waded rills,

While merry joyous shouts, re-echoed from the hills,

The wreaths of tuties from the mossy bog,

The see-saw plank across the prostrate log,

Some pelt with cruel stones the luckless frog,

Or through the slimy ooz pursue the pollywog.

The old schoolhouse and playground still remain,

From murmuring brook I hear the same refrain,

And bright-eyed happy children, join in play

The same old games that once we used to play;

And yet for me how desolate, how lone,

The old familiar faces: all are gone, -

Gone, some are scattered far o'er land or sea,

But more have joined the silent company.

How bright on memory's page the scene appears,

Undimmed by distance or by rolling years;

The song of katydids, the hum of bees,

The poplar leaflets trembling in the breeze,

The sheltered snug nooks, and fragrant flowers,

I taste the joys of childhood happy hours.

Like panorama spread before me now,

His thin gray locks, his wrinkled, careworn brow,

Father, with mason's hammer bending o'er the rock,

That yields, beneath the sharp resounding stroke,

As day by day the massive walls arise.

I tread the orchard path up to the cottage door,

There mother stands, just as in days of yore,

Greets me with love-lit eyes that beam with joy,

Or gently chides her thoughtless truant boy;

How fair that face, though marked by lines of care;

A few bright silver threads amoung her glossy hair;

Her stooping, tired form again I see,

And breath the prayer I learned beside her knee;

Again I kneel beside my trundel bed,

I feel her hand still resting on my head,

Again I hear her prayer, in lingering cadence sweet,

That God would guide my wayward, erring feet.

Blazing logs on andirons quaint and old,

To me more precious far than gems or gold,

Father and Mother, with their children stand,

Around their hearthstone; an unbroken band.

Twelve youthful happy hearts, untouched by cankering care,

'Though sometimes scanty was their frugal fare;

But they are gone, departed one by one;

And I alone am left, alone - alone.

And her, my partner in maturer years,

Who shared my joys, my sorrows, and my cares,

In darkest hours, my comforter and stay,

As hand in hand we trod life's rugged way;

While sense or being lasts her memory forms a part

Engraved on the tablets of my heart.

Again I see the dear angelic face,

Again I feel her loving, fond embrace.

A husband ne'er by truer wife was blest.

No purer heart e'er beat in human breast.

She too is gone, on angel pinions bore

To join our children who had gone before,

And on that peaceful shore with angel bands,

For me they seem to wait with beckoning hands.

'Twill not be long, parting will soon be o'er,

Then we well meet, where parting is no more,

No, not for long, life's storms will soon be past;

Then safe in sheltering fold the wanderer will rest.

Dark clouds of doubt recessed, my view expands;

As swift in silence fall my few remaining sands,

Warned by my aching limbs and whitening locks,

My bark is drifting near time's hidden rocks

And darksome shadows lengthening o'er my way,

Herald the morn of an eternal day.

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a service of the Delaware County Historical Association located at 46549 State Highway 10, Delhi, NY 13753

Online since 1996 - created and managed by Joyce Riedinger