Monday, August 27, 2012

Jay Lincoln Reynolds - 1858 - 1935

I have been meaning to share with you some interesting information about a relative of ours...Jay Lincoln Reynolds(1858 - 1935) .  Jay was the last son born of George and Margaret (Luke) Reynolds. He was the brother to Sarah L. Reynolds, our GGGrandmother.  Sarah (1836) married John Densmore on June 16, 1856, two years before Jay Lincoln was born.

Sarah L (Reynolds) Densmore  - May 20, 1836 - April 18, 1918
 Jay Lincoln was born in 1858, four short years before his mother Margaret Luke died.
This family history was written in Pasadena, California on June 3rd, 1943. I am not sure who the author is  since Jay Lincoln died 5 years earlier but I will do my best to figure that out .  It is likely that this was compiled in 1943 of documents left behind by Jay Lincoln.  I found it on  through a fellow Reynolds researcher. It is titled  "THE TRADITIONAL HISTORY of GEORGE S. REYNOLDS and FAMILY Together With Reminiscences By His Son Jay Lincoln Reynolds"
Jay was quite the colorful character and it shows through in this family story!  Today, I want to share with you some of what he wrote about his life.  I have not edited it in anyway so the spellings error and grammar errors are quoted from the family document.  There is so much to share that I will divide it into parts and this will be part one.

George Reynolds and son , Jay Lincoln Reynolds

" I was born on the 15th of March, 1858 and I remember well the stiring times of 1861 and ‘62, in the early part of the Civil War.  Charley, my oldest brother, had enlisted in the late winter of 1862 and was bibouaced at Kalamazoo, preparing to leave with his Regiment for the front, when, shortly after my fourth birthday, my dear Mother died.  Charley was permitted a short furlough to attend the funeral.  It is an exceeding wonder to me now, at my age, to know how vivid that scene of sorrow is to me.  Seeing my darling mother lying there so still and white, surrounded by great banks of spring flowers, crowds of neighbors with solemn visage.  Father, brothers and sisters crying, and me, too, crying my little heart out, not knowing why, except that I was told that mama was gone away, never to see me any more.  No one can fully realize at a given time, the loss of mother.  Let me plead with those who still have a mother living.  Cherish her while she is with you for when she is gone no one else can take her place.


My Mother died when I was but four years old.  Yet, I have
A distinct memory of her sweet, beautiful face as seen through
the eyes of childhood.  The vision still lingers.  A loving 
mother.  We can have but one.  No one else ever loved us so
much, no one else ever will.  There is no other word in all the
languages of men, so sweet, so tender, so love inspiring, that
means much to us as that one word---Mother.

Childhood sorrows are sometimes soon forgotten, if there is some loved one with us to wipe away the scalding tears.  Charley, my big soldier brother was with us for a day or two and he seemed to give me his whole attention.  He had hired a horse and sulky to drive out to the farm, and with this he took me for rides with him.  Charley had a very cheerful disposition, which I am told, stayed with him through life.  He was always laughing and joking, and how proud I was of my big “soldier boy” brother, in his neat new uniform.  But, his visit was cut short all too soon and he went away to war.  I was not to see him again until I was thirty-one years old, and then, only one short evening and morning, when my brother Nelson and I stayed at his place over night.  I will not see him again, poor boy, for he died in 1926 at the age of 82.

After mother died, the family broke up.  Charley went away to war, Sarah, Mary, Almira and Addie were all married, went to their respective homes, leaving Alace, Nelson, father and I in the old home.  Soon after, Alace went with relatives in Ohio, if I am not mistaken, and Nelson went to live with my half-brother, John, who had a farm two and a half miles south of Paw Paw, in Van Buren County. Father took me and moved to St. Joe.  We stayed at a hotel for a time.  While stopping at this hotel, I saw quite a lot of soldiers returning from the war, and my brother Charley was always on my mind.  I was anxiously waiting and looking for him to come home.  One day I was looking out of an upstairs window, and I saw a soldier coming toward the hotel.  I was sure it was brother Charley, so I ran to meet him.  Just as I got to the top of the stairs leading down to the office, I tripped on something and pitched head first down these stairs, tumbling and bumping clear to the bottom.  I was picked up unconscious, and it was discovered I had broken my nose, so that is how I come to have a crooked nose.

Note in this paragraph he talks about his sister Sarah and the fact that she is married and on her own.  Jay goes on in great detail to talk about the days that he spent as a young child growing up with his father and that he was left on his own often to fend for himself.  

" Father soon became dissatisfied with the hotel, so he rented a house on the bluff over-looking the river, just above where the river emptied into Lake Michigan.  There he and I kept “Bachelor’s Hall.”  In front of the house, at the foot of the bluff along the river, were the wharfs, docks and landing places of ships and fish boats, where there were sailors, longshoreman, fisherman and a riff-raff of rough men.  We lived in that house from the time when I was about four and a half, until I was nearly six years old.  Father soon got into the habit of going off downtown, leaving me alone at the house.  Well, boy fashion, I began to explore.  I found a path leading down the bluff to where the sailors, fishermen and roughs were, and they most improperly took me in hand.

 Up to the time I was nearly six years old, according to the custom of the times, I was dressed in dresses, or skirts, instead of pants and jacket, so when I got down there among the toughs, “O’ look at the little girl.”  Of course, I most emphatically and tearfully denied the allegation and defied the allegator, but to no use.  They insisted I was a little girl.  While some of them were a little a rough, others were, apparently, very nice to me.  They taught me all the cuss-words and nasty things they could think of, just for the fun of hearing me repeat them.  This went on for many months, and, before father found it out, there wasn’t a sailor, fisherman or river tough that had a more complete cussing vocabulary than I had, or could use it more appropriately and effectively than I could, when things didn’t go to my liking.  My child’s mind must have very receptive, for that vocabulary was so deeply and firmly implanted upon my memory that all my life, in spite of myself, when angry or startled, some of those cuss-words will come out before I can stop them.

 Father might not have learned of my ability along that line when he did, if it had not been that the time had now come for me to metamorphose into pants and jacket, so, I was tricked out with a nice new suit.  Short pants with pockets, and a nice jacket with a dandy little hankerchief pocket up there on my left breast.  Oh, but I was proud of that new suit.  Shortly after getting me all dressed up, father started off downtown, leaving me to my own devices, and remembering my sailor and fisher friends, I ran down to the docks to show my new suit, of which I was very proud, and one of the fishermen said: “My, what a lovely little boy you are now, not a little girl at all, but a boy.  Well, well.  Now sir, you are such a fine looking boy, all dressed up like that, I’m going to make you a very nice present of a cute little fish to be all your own.  So he picked up a fish that could just be crowded head-first down into that nice handkerchief pocket of mine up there on my left breast.

 I was very happy now, and ran home to show father the fish the nice fisher-man gave me.  Father got home about the same time I did, and in my childish delight, exhibited my fish.  When father saw that fish in the pocket of my fine new suit, and I saw father’s face, I was scared and scared plenty.  I never saw a face so transformed.  He was mad.  In fact it was the first, and only time I ever saw father mad and he was good and mad, too, for that fish, going into that pocket headfirst, the fins anchored it there for keeps, and “All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t pull that fish out again.”  Indeed, father had to cut it all to pieces in order to get it out at all, and what a mess.  That beautiful new jacket never looked the same again, and neither did father.  He was sure mad.  Mad, and he swore.  The first, and only time I ever heard him swear.  When he started to swear, it just opened the gate for me, and I started in.  After I started swearing, father quit.  He didn’t have a chance with me…not a chance in the world.  He just stood there with his eyes bulging out and his mouth open.  He stood there in stark, staring amazement.  He then went out and came back with a switch and gave me what others might call a good switching, but not me.  No sir.  I couldn’t see any good in it at all, and so I howled and shrieked.  In consequence of my howls of terror, and, no doubt, in consideration of my childish innocence, he stopped and asked me where I had learned all those naughty words.  And, through tears and broken sobbs, I told him, “Them nice men down there” (pointing).

Then there came an expression of horror and shame on father’s face, for he was know as a very just and kindly man.  He picked me in his arms, wiped and kissed away my tears, saying, “You poor child, you’re not to blame.  I’ve been neglecting you.  I’m the one, and there are others deserving punishment, you dear little lad.  Come, we’ll see about this.”  He took my hand and almost ran with me down to the docks and there tried to find the man who put that fish into my pocket, and those guilty of teaching me the vile things they did.  But, of course, he could find none of them.  They all lied to protect each other.  I really believe if father could have fixed the blame upon any of them, he would have taken their bodies to pieces and scattered them to the four winds.

For mark you, there didn’t any of them try to be funny with father that day and he gave them a lecture on the depravity of their class that ought to have been recorded in history.  After that, father took more care of me.  Whenever he went anywhere, where he couldn’t take me along, he left me in care of one of the neighbors."

I will close here to today and work on Part 2 for next week.

Happy Hunting,


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