I love looking through the old pictures and letters I was handed down from my family. As you probably already know I am fascinated with how they lived, the kind of people they were, how hard they worked and how much they loved each other. It’s one of the main reasons why I started this Happy Homesteading series. To learn some of the ways my family used to live and learn to appreciate it more.
My Great Grandmother Lillie Olson passed away when she was just 58 years old. Her daughter, my grandmother Marilyn always told us she was the hardest worker, very loving, very kind, and cooked like no-one else. She was very thoughtful and well loved too, because I have many letters written to her from family and friends. She loved to write and keep in touch. I wish I could have met her. She is the one with the big smile in the picture above. She is SO BEAUTIFUL!
Among the letters and papers she kept, I found this old poem she wrote from 1912. I read it and my mind was taken away to another era. A feeling of love and hope of America washed over me.
And I knew it needed to be shared.
You can click on this poem if you want to read it in her handwriting. Or I have it typed up below.
A Letter Home
Lillie Olson copyright 1912
1. Like to come and see you, daddy, and perhaps I will someday
Like to come back East to visit but I wouldn’t care to stay
Glad you’re doing well, and happy glad you like your country best,
But for me I always hunger for the freedom of the West
There’s a wholesomeness about it that I never could explain
Once you breathe this air you love it and you long for it again;
There’s a tie you can’t discern in the splendor of the sky.
It’s just home to you forever and I’ll just tell you why.
2. It’s so big, and broad, and boundless, and it’s Heaven is so blue.
And the metal of it’s people always rings so clear and true;
And its billowed acres quiver like the shudder of the sea,
And its waves roll rich and golden in upon the shore to me.
Why, your farm and all the others that we used to think so fine,
Wouldn’t lump ‘em all together- make a corner lot in mine
And your old red clover pasture, with its gate of fence rails barred
Why, it wouldn’t make a grass plot in our district schoolhouse yard.
3. Not a foot has touched its prairies but is longing to return;
Not an eye has seen the sunset on its western heavens burn,
But looks back in hungry yearning, with the memory grown dim,
And the zephyr of its prairies breathes the cadence of a hymn
That is sweet and full of promise as the “Beulah Land” we knew
When we used to sit together in the queer old-fashioned pew;
And at eventide, the glory of the sun and sky and sod
Bids me bare my head in homage and in gratitude to God.
4. Yes, I love you, daddy, love you with a heart that’s true as steel,
But there’s something in Dakota makes you live and breathe and feel;
Makes you bigger, broader, better, makes you know the worth of toil,
Makes you free as are her prairies and as noble as her soil;
Makes you kingly as a man is, makes you manly as a king,
And there’s something in the grandeur of the seasons sweep and swing
That casts off the fretting fetters of your East and makes you blest,
With the vigor of the prairies, with the freedom of the West.
Lillie Olson was 16 when she wrote this amazingly beautiful poem. I love the way she wrote back then.
And yes..I did have to look up the word “Zephyr”. Hee Hee. It means a light wind or west wind. Guess I need to read more.
This poem made me stop and think about how I feel about America and the dream of this country.
I remember growing up, and proudly saying the pledge of allegiance in school every day. I remember loving being an American and how we were free. I felt safe, knowing soldiers were fighting for our country. They were my heros. I used to sing “And I’m Proud to be an American…” with my hairbrush microphone at home with my brothers and sisters as loudly as I could. And life felt peaceful.
I know in many schools they don’t recite the pledge of allegiance anymore, which makes me sad. And for some reason I don’t feel as hopeful and wonderful about America now that I am a grown-up. Maybe I just don’t like the way our society and country are going. I am often filled with worry, uncertainty, irritation and sadness when I think about America and the world. Maybe it’s the recession, a lack of Godliness in our government or even just all the natural disasters happening. While I don’t want to turn this into something totally negative or political, I think this is something to think about. I want to go back to feeling proud of my country and happy for the freedom we have. I just don’t know how.
This poem also really made me long even more to have some acres of land and a farm.
I will have this dream come true. I am determined now more than ever.
But the question is…Where do I move to? Where do you think the best place to start a farm in the US would be?
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