Thursday, December 28, 2017

In old Missouri

My paternal grandfather, Rev. James L. Skaggs, was born near Springfield, Missouri, on May 26, 1878. That's where he grew up before coming to Wisconsin to attend college.

A gathering of Skaggs in "Old Missouri"

Detail from above: L to R, Rosanna Pearce Skaggs, his mother, Rev. Leroy Fouse Skaggs, his father, and James L. Skaggs

Later composed by Rev. James L. Skaggs:

Back there in old Missouri where the Ozark hills and heights
Are crowned with sun and flowers and rich and rare delights,
Where hardy men went seeking homes and life's supremest joys —
Great farms and flocks and herds and sturdy, hopeful girls and boys —
There stood the old log house with chimney, chink, and daub adorned,
Where heaven smiled on lovers wed, and five of us were born.
Back there In old Missouri was a home of older kind
Where mother reigned in tender love and children learned to mind;
Where father read the Holy Book at close of busy day,
And gathered round the open hearth he knelt with us to pray —
'Twas there we learned in childhood days what we shall never rue —
To always rev'rence God, and honor faithful parents too.
Back there in old Missouri nature yielded bounteous store
Of harvests rich from fertile fields and flocks and herds galore.
And e'en the virgin forests smiled upon all creatures' wants,
And turkey, deer, and fox, and hare, within their native haunts,
With myriad other forest folk, found all their wants supplied,
And shared with us the fruits and nuts of vale and mountain side.
Back there in old Missouri where we had just loads of fun,
We romped and played in twilight hours when all the chores were done;
And then around the open fire that shot its sparkles out,
We played some games or told some jokes or worked a puzzle out
O those were days I'll ne'er forget, wherever else I roam!
Those childhood days of happy play in my old country home.
Back there In old Missouri there were burdens to be borne —
Hard and weary tasks to do which weaklings surely scorn.
And there were days when petty troubles made the surface rough,
And often disappointments came which tried us hard enough;
But looking back through all the years the hardships fade from sight,
And only happy recollections fill my mind tonight.
Back there in old Missouri, in the spirit of the West,
We boys and cousin Jim took our chances with the rest.
We roamed the woods and swam the streams, on foot or horse's back;
And when it came to riding mules, the wildest of the pack,
We ranked among the gamest lads of all the country 'round,
And claimed the honors of the day for bravest to be found.
Back there in old Missouri, in the meadow o'er the hill
We caught the biggest steer in the herd, and struggled with him till
We got a saddle on his back, and with fiendish stealth
He kicked his foot the stirrup through and tried to ride himself.
Of this he made an awful mess, just plunging 'round and 'round,
Until he turned quite over and rode the saddle on the ground.
Back there in old Missouri things have changed a mighty lot
Since days when all us children played 'round the family cot.
Now all of us are scattered, have dear children of our own,
Father and mother have gone and strangers have our home.
So the old days are gone: but they live anew in every mind
When we think of old Missouri — "that old home of mine."
Back there in old Missouri we had blessings from above:
God kept us strong and well and twined our family round with love.
And since we've wandered far away and founded family nests
The cords of love have simply stretched to bind in all the rest.
So we have our family circle yet, though chairs are far apart,
For holy love of childhood days still binds us heart to heart.

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