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Grandmother Brown's Hundred Years

1827 - 1927



The older our country becomes, the larger its population, the greater its diversification of industry, of blood, and of culture, the more our calm judgment acknowledges the debt this people and nation owe to its early settlers. It was they who laid the foundation and fashioned the shape of the governmental, social, and industrial edifice, to which we of this generation make only additions or subtractions.


The first settlers in New England were differentiated form the first settlers of any number in Western North America by the fact that religious intolerance in England at the time of their emigration was a compelling force in causing it. This gave the movement and settlement a somewhat religious character. Unquestionably the New England settler who had fled from religious oppression and his descendants were a great influence in the formation of what may be called our American institutions, which so effectively guard man in his freedom of worship, freedom of speech, his choice of religion, his right of trial by jury, his right to property, and those other inalienable rights upon which no other individual or even government itself can encroach, the statement of which was finally permanently embodied in the Constitution of the United States.


This book is a record of the descendants of that stock in another and later development of our national life. It was one hundred and sixty-seven years after the landing of the Pilgrims and shortly after the Revolutionary War, in April, 1788, when there occurred the great emigration to the "Territory Northwest of the River Ohio," to be governed under the ordinance passed by Congress in 1787 with its antislavery procision. During this period of one hundred and sixty-seven years American institutions may be said in general to have been defined, although the antislavery provisions of the Ordinance of 1787 were not included in the Constitution of the United States until after the Civil War.


It is fortunate for America that her institutions had this long evolution in a population the character of which did not greatly change, either through emigration or incongruous immigration, and which developed its strong characteristics largely because of a difficult environment. From no other kind of people or conditions could such institutions have been evolved.


It is not too much to say that had the transportation facilities of the early days in America been what they are now, to say nothing of other great differences between past and modern environment, our institutions would have developed along far different lines. Principles do not take our institutions were firmly established and become the heritage of all our people, the easy transportation which in the old days would have prevented their development became in later days the means of establishing them in all parts of our country.


A study of the development of the spirit of the Middle West is simply the study of the reaction of the oldest American stock imbued with the old American traditions and the spirit of its institutions to a new environment different in some respects from that in which the same stock evolved those institutions and traditions.


This book-Grandmother Brown's Hundred Years-will be for a student of American human nature a classic textbook. This wonderful woman tells in a simple and natural way the story of her life. If her purpose was any other than to tell her story exactly as it was, the book would have lost its value. As one reads these pages, he realizes that Grandmother Brown gives facts as she sees them and opinions formed without the handicap of a preconceived philosophy which often warps the statements of historical writers.


The author of the book, her daughter-in-law, has succeeded in transferring to its pages a fine picture of the New England character as it reacted two hundred years after the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers to a new environment. The book is more than that. It is an epic of American life in the early and later days of the Middle West.


No on can read the story without the continuing sense of its inherent truthfulness, without added reverence for the old American stock, transplanted but unchanged, without an added realization of the fact that the important things of life are the simple ones, and that small duties, faithfully performed, sum themselves up finally in the creation of high character commanding universal respect and interest, and becoming an influence for unbounded good to our citizenship.




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