The Life Of George Holcomb – Life At Uncle Levi Pease’ Farm
by Alex Brooks
When the last chapter ended, Holcomb had just left home to avoid the draft after the outbreak of the war of 1812. He is now living and working on the farm of his uncle Levi Pease in Shrewsbury, Mass., outside of Boston. It is his first extended period away from Stephentown.
Through the fall there are the usual fall chores involving gathering and storing the food for winter. In January and February, almost all the daily entries about his work involve cutting, hauling, splitting, and stacking firewood. This is the winter of 1813. On Feb 16 he “flung a stick of wood” on his arm, and had trouble working for a week and a half. He went to a doctor and got some “ointment” for his arm, and by Feb 19 it was “much better.” On Feb 25 he received a letter from home with disturbing news of severe illness of his eldest sister and eldest brother, and his parents not well either. “all of which gives me such a feeling, I took but little repose this night.”
On March 4 he took a trip to Boston, where he stayed with relatives and was shown around the town. The view from the State House Cupola he pronounced “very sitely.” He visited “the museum in Tremont St., and bought a lottery ticket from the J. Kidders Lottery Office. He tried to get a job from a Mr. Peter Brooks, who was looking for a gardener, but was unable to secure the post. He made several other attempts to get a job, but was unsuccessful, and returned to his uncle’s farm on March 11, returning to his regular round of chores, wood-chopping, etc.
On March 20 he began to feel ill, and by March 26 he was violently ill with fever and a bad pain in his “breast and side.” He was much troubled by stomach and intestinal disorders for weeks after that, and did not regain his health until the end of April, when he again began to search for work.
April 28, 1813: “Wednesday this morning early I went to Colonel Wyman’s to see if he wanted to hire help, but he could not tell…Uncle Levi Pease and I reckoned to see how our accounts stood. The time I left off was March 25, 1813, and ten days lost out of the time. He told me when I came home with him that if I wanted to go to work he would employ me, I likewise went to work, some time after he called to me to know what I should ask him a month. I made this reply – I wanted what other hired men had, I understood that they had ten or twelve dollars a month at this time of the year. He said that 8 dollars was about enough. I then told him I should out where I could have more wages, and he might keep Moses Johnson. He then wished me to stay for he said he had rather have me, and then there was no more said. A while after I was agoing to Worcester with him and I told him I was uneasy about my wages that I was to have and he told me not to be uneasy, for he would allow me 10 dollars a month or satisfy me.”