Judge John Cadman & Wife Ann Augusta Payn?

Judge John Cadman

And, I presume, his wife, Ann Augusta Payn

Circa 1890-1900



Some Interesting Reminiscences of Olden Times

Hon. John Cadman[1] began his address with a description of Central Park in New York city and referred to a drive through it which he enjoyed with a friend who wanted to know what Mr. Cadman thought of it. “It is very grand,” said I, but I have now looked at it about half an hour and that will do. The fact is I was up to Red Rock last week and saw things there far superior to these in beauty and grandeur and have spent all the time I care to looking at this. (Applause.) Art cannot imitate nature, it has been tried for many centuries.

You who live here, continued the speaker to some extent, appreciate the picturesque beauty of this valley but I do not think you ever fully appreciated it. You cannot appreciate it unless you have been some ways away from it and have been without a good many of the comforts and beauties that you enjoy here. These hills, these rocks, these trees are grand and natural and above all one of the greatest attractions of this place is this Indian brook that runs down through here. I doubt if many of you appreciate or know that there is not a brook equal to it anywhere on this continent. If there is, I do not know it and I have traveled some ways and seen a great many brooks but have never seen one to equal it. I do not believe there is one that for picturesque beauty from its source until it empties into the Kline Kill creek, equals it. It is a grand and beautiful stream of water.

I spent a good many hours of my early boyhood wandering up and down it, fishing for trout, and I caught a great many. I want to tell you, if you do not know it, that they are the best trout I ever saw in any stream around here. It is because the water is so pure and so clear. If you know much about brook trout, (perhaps other fish are the same) they depend very much, or entirely upon the water in which you catch them. If you catch the trout out of cold, clear water, it is the finest fish in the world. I have caught a great many in the streams of Flat Brook and Green River but none of them are equal to the trout you catch out of this brook. I remember the first trout I ever caught—no, I got that wrong, it was the first one I did not catch. I was a little boy, I was barefooted and had run away from school to go fishing, I had a string, a fish hook and an angle worm and cut a pole out of the bushes, I put the worm on the hook. When two miles above here, or hereabouts, when I came to the deepest place I could find I threw in my hook and there I sat. I had never fished before and was anxious to see what would come of it and by and by I felt something on that string and well—but what’s the use? I can’t describe it, nobody can appreciate it except some boy who has been there and he knows it without my telling him of it. I could not wait long and pulled up and up came out of that water, some two or three feet high a trout—but I won’t tell how big that trout was I never caught one as big as that looked to me. Ever since that I have always had a great deal of charity for the boys who tell big stories about big fish that got away from them.

What a pleasure it is to me to go back in mind to those scenes more than half a century ago, with no anxiety, nothing to trouble me, no anxiety except to catch a trout and that was not the anxiety of fear, it was the anxiety of hope.

I want to make a point there. There is a great difference. Some say there is no anxiety in Heaven. It is not so. It would be death, eternal death, without anxiety. Where there is no anxiety there is no life. It is not the anxiety of fear, but there is plenty of anxiety of hope there. I remember in my early life there was what was called the “western fever,” a perfect epidemic. Stories were told about the beauties of the west. Almost everybody wanted to sell his farm and go west and I had the fever as bad as anybody. I have been glad a good many times that I got over it before I was old enough to get there to stay. There was one thing that used to rather disgust me then. Old people would be talking about the west and everything there, rich and beautiful land a $1.25 per acre if you could get there and everybody wanted to go but once in a while some old man or woman would pipe in and say: “Is there good water there?” Where there was so much good land, what was the use grumbling about the water, we thought? I thought they did not know what they were talking about. Now, ladies and gentlemen, I have been there and I know something about what good water means. During a western trip of a week, from the time I left northeastern Ohio I did not see one drop of pure running water anywhere, I saw nothing but yellow, stagnant, muddy water on either side of the road wherever I went. And the people were as yellow and as sluggish as the water and it is my recollection now that I did not see a man or woman laugh in the whole week I was taking that trip. They did not seem to know how. I don’t think much of a dominie who won’t laugh either. I was once introduced to one and told him a good story. I knew it was a good story. He looked as though he thought it would be a sin to laugh and he would not crack a smile. I tell you I had done with him. I tell you a man who will not laugh at a good joke is not to be trusted anywhere. These people in the west may think they are happy but they do not know what happiness is. If you want to take comfort in this world you want to live where there is good running water and you want to see it every day.

Mr. Cadman then gave a vivid description of the Black Hills region and predicted that it will some day be the metropolis of the United States, that the capital would be moved there from Washington as it is nearly the geographical center of the states. “Ships” said he, “will go sailing there from all parts of the world. That is a fact and still there is no ocean within a thousand miles of it. They will not sail there on the bosom of the ocean but through the air. Is that chimerical, is that foolish talk? Not a bit of it! Suppose 25 years ago I had told you that at this time, I could have stood in my office and in any ordinary tone of voice, conversed with a friend in Chicago? Would not that have sounded ridiculous? But the telephone has made it possible. Now I have told you ships will go sailing through the air. It is by now means incomprehensible or impossible. Some time ago I saw two very large eagles high up in the air, probably 500 feet. I should say their spread was 9 or 10 feet. They apparently, without much motion of their wings moved as easily against the wind as with it and in any direction. It was not magic but it was as the motion of machinery and and man can imitate it and man will imitate it. It will come in a few years in my judgment. I set the time for the fullfillment of this prophecy not in 1900 but the year 2000 just 100 years from now. If you are alive you will see it done. Mark it down. (Laughter.)

One hundred years ago, just about, you say this place was settled. It had no other name or title than “The City.” I will tell a story as I have heard it from the old people. A man traveling through here had a plow share stolen out of his wagon. There is no doubt that someone stole that plow share. He could not find it at any rate and he did what a good many foolish people do, he condemned the whole place because there was, or he thought there was, one rascal in it and he called this place “Pilfershire” and, somehow or other, the name stuck to it for about 25 years and then Ezra D. Park, who kept store down where Mr. Powell keeps a store now, thought it was rather a disgraceful name for the place. Being a public-spirited man he conceived the idea of changing the name. He went and painted this rock and put a wooden monument on it 75 years ago and I can tell your committee you made a mistake in saying it is the 40th and 150 anniversaries. That monument blew down and the present one was put up there. I was told by old people who lived at that time that Park did not succeed very well. He got belts for the girls and hats for the boys with “Red Rock” painted on them but it continued to be called “Pilfershire” for some four or five years in spite of anything the old man could do until he got a postoffice here as “Red Rock.” That then became its name and people gave up calling it “Pilfershire.”

I want to tell a little story about Park. My father was drawing saw logs down here to the saw mill or the one that stood where this is. He piled the logs and marked them with his initials on the end. He got quite a number of logs there. Some were large, others were small. One day he went down with a load and while there counted the logs but did not let out. There was one short. He finally spoke to the sawyer about it and he said: “I saw Ezra Park going down street with a saw log on his shoulder and I guess it was one of yours.” My father said: “Ezra Park may have all my saw logs he can carry away on his shoulder.”

About forty years ago I met Ezra Park and mentioned the incident. He took it good naturedly and said it was one of his capers. He would not have played it on good many men he said, but he knew father would take it in good part.

It is pleasure to me to stand here to-day when almost three-fourths of a century have rolled away and say to you that I have seen and touched and talked with the man who painted that rock and named this place Red Rock. I can stand here to-day, as it were, a connecting link between the past generation and those who sit or stand before me now. I knew a great many of the old timers in Red Rock and I want to speak briefly of a few. The first that I call to mind is the smithy, the village blacksmith, Samuel DeGroff, whose shop was located in the lower part of this “city” and I have many and many a time ridden father’s horses down these hills to that blacksmith shop when my legs were not long enough to hang down but stuck out each way. Some times I had to wait several hours or until it came my turn. I stood there and watched Samuel DeGroff blow his bellows and heat that iron red hot and put it on the anvil and strike it. I never saw any fireworks that looked as grand as those sparks that flew from the anvil. Samuel DeGroff kept that shop thirty or forty years and was a central figure in this town. The blacksmith shop was the center of the village for more people congregated there week days than any where else. He was a man of a great intelligence and wisdom, a man of spotless integrity.

I must speak of another man and that is Hiram D. Ford who was at one time one of the judges of this county. Soon after I went to Chatham he moved there and for a great many years he was one of my closest friends. He was in one respect, the very best friend I ever had for he loaned me a great deal of money when I could not give him any security for it. I speak of his memory now with a great deal of reverence and feeling for Judge Ford.

There was another man by the same name, Joseph G. Ford. He was a surveyor. I knew him very well. I used to go out with him to survey when I was a boy. I have known him more since he died than I did before and I am not a spiritualist either. I have seen a great many of his old surveys. I knew something about them when he was alive. It always pleases me to get hold of one of Joseph G. Ford’s surveys. I do not care how old the survey is, 50 years or more, you get one of these surveys and you can always find his line. They do not run from a hill of potatoes or things that perish but you will always find two monuments and when you can find two monuments you can find the rest.

I must also speak of “Aunt Lydia” Lee and the Bostwick family. When I was studying law in Chatham I would get a ride to Red Rock on Saturday afternoons and I would make for Aunt Lydia Lee’s or the Bostwick’s and we would sit around the fire on long winter evenings. These scenes were very enjoyable to me but perhaps the little jokes that answered for these occasions would be simple on any other occasion. But they kept things lively. I do not know among any of my acquaintances, of a house where so many felt at home as at Aunt Lydia Lee’s and the Bostwick’s. One reason was that when you went there they let you alone and you could make yourself at home with them; it was homelike place. But they are all dead and gone.

I see you say I was born in Red Rock. I suppose I was born in Macedonia but I see by the last school tax that I paid that you have annexed Macedonia to Red Rock so I suppose it is “Greater Red Rock.” (Applause.) And it is all right.

One more man I want to speak of and that is Asher Blinn. I knew him a great many years. I knew him to be a very quiet, unobtrusive man. I knew him to be a man who seemed to think he had something to do about every poor family there was in the neighborhood and that it was his business to see that they did not suffer. There was a family who lived a little way above him who had small pox and the father and one son died in the winter. The house quarantined and no one in the neighborhood dared to go there; they were afraid. The road was fenced up for a half mile each side of the house. The family, had hardly anything in the house to live on. Asher Blinn used to go up there every morning, get on the upwind side of the house and then get within calling distance and call to them and ask them what they wanted. They would come to the door and tell him and then he would go to his home or to the store and provide them with the provisions that kept them all winter long. No one ever knew he made any profession of religion, I do not know that he was a member of any church but I never knew a man who lived nearer up to the standard of religion than Asher Blinn. I am happy to pay this tribute to his memory and what I knew of him in this long ago.

Now I have already talked with you as long as I intended but I want to get home to you. I want to say that this is a beautiful place, Red Rock, a place where, if you only thought so, you can enjoy life as much as anywhere on this earth and better than you can in most other places. You ought to learn, most of you, to think more of your homes here. You ought to fix up your places, mend your fences, paint your houses and barns and make things look better and, one thing more, you ought to have a little more charity toward one another. I sometimes think there is a good deal of bickering among neighbors in this place and you should not all try to stop someone else from doing it but try to stop it yourself. The Bible tells us we must love our neighbors as ourselves. Do you know how you can do it? You can’t sit down and, by any exercise of your will power, love anybody. You can’t love your neighbor by trying to love him. There were once two neighbors who got to quarreling’ they got into law because one’s hens dug up the other’s garden. the sheep got through the fences, the cows got into the corn. They would not speak but finally a better spirit came over one of them. He got a glimmer of light that he owed some duty to that neighbor. Notwithstanding he had used him very mean, still he was his neighbor. In the road, right in front of this neighbors house, right in front of his gate, in fact, was a large stone. Somehow or other this man saw here his opportunity and he went like a thief in the night with his crowbar, stole that stone and lugged it away and did not let his neighbor know it. After that he was over in a back lot, saw this neighbor’s fence down and put it up again. He kept on in that way and finally he was not hating that man quite as bad as he had before.

If you want to love your neighbor, do him a kindness, do it when he don’t know it and I guarantee you will begin to love your neighbor. It applies to this or any other community and if you will show more of that kindness to your neighbor, you will find the place you live in better worth the living than it is now. (Applause.)

Transcribed from The Chatham Courier, October 17, 1901 page 3 (nyshistoricnewspapers.org)

[1] Judge Cadman was my great-great-grandmother Lovisa Cadman Howes’ brother. jhc