Rebecca was “the oldest daughter of the Hamilton’s, an Indiana family that had settled about 6 miles south of Whitewater [Kansas]. When they went on horseback to be married (spring of 1872) the preacher lived in a dugout. Not wanting to be married in the dugout, they stepped outside and had it said on horseback in the open prairie. A little later, the younger sister, Jennie, married a Canadian William Wiggins and the two couples settled near each other in Greenwood county which joins Butler on the east. The middle sister, my Aunt Rhoda, divided her time between the two homes except that she had filed on a claim adjoining my Father’s and she had to live on it enough to be able to “prove up” when the proper time came” — Ed Garee, Rebecca’s son, 1964
In January 1875 while living in Eureka, Kansas, Rebecca wrote a letter to her brother, John Sparks Hamilton who was living 177 miles away in Lincoln, Kansas.
“Well I will tell you something of how I am getting along. I am having the best time since I was married that I ever had in my life. Frank and his people are all very good to me. He has this single sister and if I have a hare job of work they always help me. They are always ready to do any job I want done. They only live three quarters of a mile from us and we are together nearly every day. We lived in the house with them the first year after we was married and we never had a cross word in all the time I have been with them.”
In the letter Rebecca fondly described her 16 month old son, they called Eddie “I wish you could see our little boy, his eyes are as black and bright as you ever seen, his hair is curly. He tries to say every thing he hears said and do every thing he sees done. He don’t look like any of my people that ever I seen. He favors his Pa and his folks.”
Years later Rebecca’s son, Ed, shared some stories involving his mother:
My mother taught me to fish when I was 4 years old, if not earlier. We lived in Greenwood County, Kansas near the headquarters of Tadpole Creek, in fact the surplus flow from the spring that furnished us water meandered off down through the pasture and found its way into the creek. It was only a short walk down to where small, deep holes abounded in catchable native fish. We went to them often and usually the results were highly satisfactory.
One time we went my mother caught nothing but a small turtle while I got 3 bullhead cats, one a dandy, one middle size and the other about as little as we ever kept. Dad was away that day, so Mom cleaned the 3 and planned a nice dinner for the two of us.
A near neighbor had a grand-dad or old uncle living with them, most too old for much work, but a good hand to keep up with the neighborhood visiting. Just as the feast was being spread, in stepped Mr. Hoddington. Of course, Mother asked him to eat with us. Before he was fully settled in the chair, he forked over and put the big one on his plate.
Of course I was heart broken, but I doubt if the old codger knew what he had done to me. How I ever kept from raising the “rough house”, nobody knows. Maybe it was an early lesson for me. A fellow is likely, in a lifetime, to have some “downs” along with the “ups”.
Rattlesnakes? Yes, I have met them. When I was about 4 years old I stepped on a little one not 10 feet from the kitchen door. Before my mother took time to kill the snake she bound up my foot in a poultice of salt and soda, moistened, and which she renewed every few minutes for a while. It never got sore nor made me sick.
Several things about it I remember very clearly: 1- The big stick of pole wood she got at the wood pile to kill the snake; 2- Dad and a neighbor had started to town on horse back, were not out of sight. Mom probably could have called them back, but did not; 3- What that first poultice looked like when she took it off in a very short time, discolored by the blood and, venom ugly!
I was lucky in two ways: The snake was small, little if any more than 18 inches long: with my foot on his middle he got only a twisted strike at me and only one fang broke the skin on the side of my heel, so I got much less of the venom than I might have had.
- Rebecca’s 1875 letter to her brother
- Ed Garee’s Stories written in 1964 when he was 90 years old