top of page

John Mann & Family

Journal of Sanford Porter, Pg. 45, residing in Orton, Grafton, New Hampshire, approx. 1807

   Joseph concluded he would do the shugar making that year for father was owing a merchant thirty or forty dollars for goods he had get at his store and he was leaning for his pay and threatened to sue him and we had not got the money to pay him and father wanted me to go out to work some whare and git the money to pay him. Joseph said he would cary on the farm if I wanted go and pay that debt and father said I might have the balance of the time that summer to work and git things for my self and considered to go out to work that summer. I thought I had better go and see the old major the first thing and perhaps he would want work over at the store whare father had traded but one of his sons tended the store. He would take nothing but money. His father Mr. Jake Mann lived about ten miles from him on the other side of Connecut river. He had a big store in Orford whire he lived and another in ________ and the one whare father had traded was in Fairley. He had three stores, large stores well filled with goods and three farms in Orford whire he lived. He lived in the State of New Hampshire in the township of Orford. His others two stores was in the State of Vermont. The Connecticut River was the line between the two States. Thay had a tall bridge across the river at Orford near Mr. John Manns house and store. He went by the name of Major Mann. He had a son by the name of John. He tended the store in the township of Fairley. I went to see young John about what father was owing him. He said he had no work he wanted done, perhaps his father would hire me to work for him and I went on to the old Majors. He said he wanted money to pay whare he was owing. I told him father had not got the money and was lame and almost blind, he could not see to do any work and he dident want any lost made, that father would pay him as soon as he could. He said thare was  a good many men that was oweing him. They could not git money to pay him and they wanted to pay in work. They wanted to work by the day. If he hired me, he would give me nine dollars a month. That was all he would give. I must work by the month. He wanted me to do chores night and morning. I must work for nine dollars a month or father must pay him the money.

   Thare I was (cramd?) to git the cows at night and help milk night and turn the cows off to pasture and feed the hogs. They had a big stout woman to do the house work. She as mutch as she could do morning to get breakfast. They must have their breakfast preisly at six oclock. All must be seated around the table at that time or go without eating or git their breakfast at some other place. This was at the kitchen table. Old Mrs Mann had a table in her sitting room and eat by her self unless she had visitors. After the widow Gouts would get the kitching work all done up, then she had to git Mrs Mann something that was verry nice, the best that could be got everytime. But the hired hands had to eat sutch as they could git, old stinking bacon and old moldy cheese and rank frowery butter, sutch as would not sell, would be cooked for their work hired hands. Miz Gouts would get the maggots out of the (I in my ninetenth year) meat and chese as much as she could and work and salt the burley oven. What maggots she could not thick out of the meat would be cooked and they would help support us. She was a good and peisble woman. If old Mys Mann hollered at her, she would smile and let it pass and tend to her house work. She had to do all the work that was done in the house for Mys Mann would not do anything. Some times she, Miss Gould, would help milk the cows but not often. I had to milk four cows night and morning and feed the hogs and fetch in night wood and up in the morning and build on a fire as soon as there was any light to be seen for I must have the chores done and be at the table by five oclock or go without my breakfast. Sometimes I would be to late, then Mys Mann would schold, shake and shake her fist at me.

   But I was obligd to work for him for just what he pleased to give or father would have a bill of cost to hay, besides other trouble it was verry hard  to git money for work in that country except it was just in the season of haying. Then some men wanted hay money wages, for common work was lowe. They could hire common hands for ten dollars a month or men that worked by the day would get fifty cents a day for work and board, except their diner. Sometimes they would git their breakfast whire they worked but it was hard to git money for work at any price. After duley concidering all these things, I thought of the old saying that, a bird in the hand was worth two in the buxh, and agreed to work for the old major six months for nine dollars a month.

It was some time in the fore part of month when I commenced work for the old Major. The snow was then nearly a foot deep thare on the bottoms of flats on the river. Thare was a man by the name of Blogit that worked for the old Major. He worked by the year. His family lived in alittle house nearby. Him and me worked together most of the time.

They had got some big fire logs haled up to the house for fire wood. They ware three or four feet through. Blogit and me went to sawing up these logs, fit for the fire, with a crop cut saw. I was not use to sawing with a crop cut saw and I would soon git tired. It made my back ache. When we got one log off, I would set down to rest while Blogit was fixing another to saw. I was sitting thare to rest my back and thare came a woman and histed the kitchen window and struck her head out and said, “Porter, we don’t hire men to set on the logs,” then she shut down the window.

   Said I, “Blogit, what woman was that?”

   Said he, “That was Mys Mann.”

   “What, the old Majors wife?”

   “Yes,” said he.

   “Is she in habit of cutting up sutch capers?”

   “Hah, you will find out if you stay here long.”

   “Well that is something I don’t like. The old Major is here not more than five or six rods off. If my work don’t suit him, he can just speak and tel me so.”

   Well we went to sawing again. After we had sawed another, I set down to rest again. Pretty soon, up hoists the window.

“Porter, I told you we don’t hire men to sit on the logs, we want them to work.”

“Madame, I think you would do full as well to mind your own business. Shut down that window and keep in the house.”

   Oh, she did rage. She out with one hand and arm with her fist doubled, she said I was a good for nothing saucy rascal dare to talk to her.

   “Yes madame, I dare to talk so to you and I will talk so to you a dam site worse if you don’t shut down that window and keep in the house and mind your own business and let mens business alone.”

   She raged and shouted and I cursed and swore and damd uphill and down. I could shake both fists as fast as she could one of hers. Blogit cept urging me to go back, he wanted ditch our quarriling. I belive we both got tyred and she shut down the window and I suppose went to bed for I did not see her head out at the window anymore that time. I believe she was afraid to hist the window and stick her head out for fear I could throw the (malt?) or the wedges at her for she saw that I was raving mad, for she had not been _________. I had lived in the old Suffield whire it was as easy for men and boys to sware as it was to talk about anything else and had learned the art of swearing when young.

It is hard to over come and brake ones self of cursing and swearing of he gits alittle riled and out it comes quicker than thought. It seems to me that it is no wonder that old Saint Peter cursed and swore. It is very likely he had got in the habit before he became a disciple of Jesus Christ and it was all most natural.

   I don’t think that Mys Mann histed that window and stuck her head out any more to shouts at me.

   Me and Blogit worked thare a cutting them big logs and slitting them up and packing the wood and covering it up in the wood house to use. We got the wood house full and it lasted all summer.

   The snow by this time had mostly gone off and we could go to fixing fences. We had a good deal of that work to do, not only the home farm, but thare was the two back farms. One of the back farmes was about two mile off and the other three. We had to come home every night and go back to work every morning. I had the chores to do evry night, the cows to git from the paster and milk four cows night and morning. Sometimes it would be dark before I could get the milking done, then here would come Mys Mann and stand in her kitchen dore and sckold and shake her fist at me because I warnt thare at super time. I would tel her the cause or the reason I was not thare sooner but she would not hear to any reason but keep on scolding and acuse me of being shifless and lazy and we would both get mad and I would curse her and dam her to the  lowest hell and tel her to git back into her room and shut that dore, for I had heard enough of her cursed gab. && I can’t write but alittle of our conversation but we ware at it for quite a number of weeks.

   Or battles would mostly take place nights and mornings, sometimes at dinner time. I would be two or three minutes to late. It seemed to me that she strained her wits to hunt up something to find fault about so as to have a fix with me. Sometimes I would not git my breakfast until Miss Gould would git the table cleaned off, then according to Mys Manns orders, I must go without eating but Miss Gould would leave the buttery dore unlocked and I would go in to the buttery and lock the dore and eat my fill. No one would know that I was in thare but Miss Gould. They always had a plenty of vittuals cooked in the buttery. Bread, biskets, pies and butter, milk, cream, shugar, molasses, after I had ate all that I wanted, I would unlock the dore and leave the key whare Miss Gould could find it, then I would go to my work.

   Miss Gould was very friendly to me and so was Blogit and the old Major never found any fault with me that I ever heard of. No one but that rattled brained wife of his and she was soft in the head and rotten in the heart. I got so that I would not speak to her, neither would I answer her if she spoke to me and our war seemed to about end in some measure. Once in a while it would brake out and thare would be a wind storm.

Thare was a man or men got a grant to make a turnpike road up and down the river. They followed the old road. It went between the old Majors house and land and he took one mile of it to make past this farm and down the river. Thare put a good many men, that was owing him, that wanted to pay in work. He  gave them no money.

We had fifteen or twenty hands to work making the rood and Blogit was head chief of the company but the old Major owned the team and Porter must drive the team and we drove a head as fast as possible for we must git the road finished. Sutch a day for the time (bout?), it must be finished and excepted by the company or thare would be damage required. Every likely ______ would wants git as mutch as they could out of the old Major, as they could for they knew he was a spectullator and was a gitting out of the people all he could faire means or fowl means. If him and his wife and their sons warnt a pact of cheats thare am mistaken. I know his and his wife would cheat all they could but I don’t know so well about their sons. But I know that the old Major would have a hogs head of molassis that was thick and good brought from the sea cost or Boston and when thare came a stormy day, he would set Blogit and me to making beere in the store seller and we would make three beere of one. Those that bought molassis did not know that two thirds of what they bought was beere. Mys Mann would git tea out of the tea box inside the store and steep it and get the strength out of it, then dry the leaves and put it back in to the box again and have it sold to those that bought tea. I have know doubt but that they would take every advantage they could of people to git a good deal for alittle or something for nothing.

   When we had got the turnpike road made we had to go to haying. One of his back farms was all meddow land. It was in two large fields. He had a large frame barn on it and some sort of a house. The old Major notified those that was owing him that wanted to pay in work, to come at auction time. Well he got his men together and we went on to work.


   Tim Mann tended the store, he was about my age. He came to the store dore says, “Porter come here. Thare is a dog that has killed one of our sheep. Come here and help me kill him. Thare he is, come quick, he belongs on the other side of the river.”

   I went to the store and he handed me a gun and he took another. He said they ware both loaded. He told me to run up to the bridge and stop him from going acrost the bridge. I run and got to the bridge before the dog did. Tim followed after the dog. The dog found that he could not git onto the bridge and I was in the road above him and Tim was in the road behind him and he jumped over the fence and was trying to go round me and as he went to jump another fence, as he got on the top, we fired and the dog fell off of the fence and died thare. It was done very quick. Tim and I ran about a mile I suppose. When we both got back to the store, we was both swetty. Tim fixed something good to drink and we drank it and went to the house.

They had eat their breakfast but Miss Gould had not cleaned off the table yet, I suppose she thought of me and waited some for me and I sat down to the table. Here com Mys Mann. She wanted to know what I had been about to run off and leave my work when the garden was suffering with weeds. I told her what I had been about and repecting the dogs killing the sheep and Tim wanted me to help him kill the dog and we had killed the dog. She said I had no business to mind what Tim said. She had told me to axed out the garden and I was to mind her.

She said she dident care about the dog, she dident believe the fog had kild a sheep. I told her Tim said he had. Tim came in and she went to scolding him. Tim gave her some pretty short and harse words and left for the store. Then she went to firing away at me again. She scholded and shook her fist at me. I told her to go back in her room and start blowing her damd skunk shell  at me for I had heard more now than I wanted to hear. I thought it was a pitty that skunk shell had been saved. She cept on scholding and I told her again to go back in to her room and stop blowing her damd stinking skunk shell, for it was a stink in my nose. I had heard that some years before, some of their work hands killed a skunk and someone came told Mys Mann that thay had hiled a skunk. She told them to “go and tell to save the shell for I want it to call the hands to dinner with,” said she.

They are a salt water tirkle, nearly a foot long, about as big as a mans arm. The boddy of them one side flair out.

I told hr, “Go it.”

“O dear,” she said, “how my character does suffer.”

“Yes madam, your character does sufer. You keep it smothered up and it don’t circulated as it ought to and I am going to let it circulate. I mean to go nex Sunday and enter a complaint against you and let the people know of your infirnal mean actions, for you are not fit to belong to any church that professes Christianity. I can prove all that I shall tel them and more to. Thare is a plenty of testimony I can bring to prove yur character and I will have you excommunicated from the church. Now mind what I tel you, I am in ernist for I think it is my duty or God id the judege of all.”

   She pretended to weep but whether she did weep or not, I don not know. She went back into her room and I went to work in the garden again. I heard no more fdrom her until Saturday about nine or ten oclock. I heard someone call, “Porter.”

   I cast my eyes toward the house. Thare stood Mys Mann. I pretended not to notice her, she called again, “Porter.” She called again alittle louder, “Porter.”

  Said I, “What is wanting?”

   She wanted me to come to the window. I could not spend time, I must keep to work. She said she wanted to talk with me. I went up to the window. She said she thought I had got faint and hungry and would like something to eat and drink. She wanted to become friendly. She had brought some pies and cakes and cheese and a glass of liquor well sweetened up. She wanted me to sat and drink with her and we would be friends and have no more quarriling or disputes. Well I told her, I was intirely willing to become friends if she would agree to tend to her own affairs, I would to mine and the Major or Blojit could tel me what to do and let the men attend to the out door affairs and the women to their household affairs. If she would agree to that, I would sat and drink with her and would make no more disturbance. She said she would agree to all of that.

She took up the glass and offered it to me. “Madam, you must first drink and after you have drank I will. I do not know but you have put poison in it. If you will drink, I will. I think I am as fit to die as you are.”

   She then wept with the tears roll down her cheeks. I thought she was grieved and I felt sory for her. I stood outside of the house in the garden and she inside in the buttery. She hoisted the window when she first came thare.

After alittle while she took up the glass and drank. I see that she did drink for the liquid was lowered in glass and then I drank. I was not afraid then to drink and when she eat a piece of pye, I would eat or biscuit or cheese or drink water and we eat and drank alwys together and we became verry friendly. We never had no more arguments after that. All was peace with us and not only us, but all the family. Blogit said a month or two after that, that I had wrought the gratest reformation that was wrought in that family. He lived thare a number of years, I do not know how long.


   We then had the oats to harvest, I don’t know how many acres but we soon git them into the barn. We had a plenty of help for thare was a good many that was owing the Major and wages was about double in haying and harvest to what they owe at any other time. After we had got our haying and harvest all done, I told the Major that if he was willing, I would go home and rest awhile. He said I might go for they had nothing in particular that he wanted done. Then I told him I wanted to stay at home, three or four weeks. I dident know but father would have some thing he would want me to do. Well he said, I could stay if they wanted and to help them and come back in time to help do his work to prepare for winter and I went home.


bottom of page