by Euphemia Jane Carter Freeman
with comments by Ida F. Winter
taken from Family History of George Richard and Euphemia Jane Freeman (1990),
pp. 21-27, compiled by Glen R. Freeman
My mother’s name was Elizabeth Green. She was the daughter of Richard Green and Elizabeth Branson and was born 21 August 1822 at Loys Weedon (Weedon by Weston), Northamptonshire, England.
She was the youngest of ten children and lived longer than any of her brothers or sisters. Her mother, Elizabeth Branson Green, died of cancer 21 December 1825 when my mother was a little over three years old. She was then cared for by her two older sisters and her father until about five and a half years later. By this time both of her sisters had died and she was left at this tender age to practically take care of the home for her father. Her father, Richard Green, was a wonderful man. He took care of her and taught her how to cook, wash, do the housework, and take care of the home. She was about eight or nine years old at that time. Elizabeth being small, stood on a stool to do the dishes and laundry. Her father, a kind and patient man, taught Elizabeth how to do many things. He also taught her how to make uppers for her shoes. Then he would finish the shoes for her.
When Richard Green could no longer care for himself, the vicar brought him to Blisworth, to live with his daughter Elizabeth and her family, to be cared for. This is a song he used to sing to them.
|The cuckoo is a merry bird.
She sings as she flies,
She brings us good tidings
She tells us no lies,
She sucks little bird eggs
To make her voice clear,
Then she sings “Cuckoo”
Three months in the year.
Richard Green brought a “Mormon tract” home one day, but it was never read and become lost.
Mother had very little schooling. However, she attended some night school and learned to read and write and to sew. Thus she became a very good all-around housekeeper.
When she was about fifteen years old, the wife of one of her brothers died and left a baby girl who was just fifteen months old. Her brother brought the baby and came to live at his father’s home. Mother took care of the baby and the home for all of them. This, of course, meant the end of her real schooling. Mother took care of this little niece until the girl grew up and married.
During that time my mother had a few weeks of night school and a little help in sewing. She taught herself to be a better seamstress because she could not get clothes for herself any other way. She used to unpick the sewing of her old clothes and dresses and then use them as a pattern to cut out the material for the new clothes. She got along in this way and learned to make almost all kinds of clothes for men as well as for women. She made all of her father’s clothes and later made all the clothes for her children. She also worked for an old lady who made lace. This lady could not sew very well, and she had Mother mend her husband’s clothes as well as the other sewing and work. Mother would be at their place for a week; then when she got home again there was a lot of work waiting for her. People would bring their sewing and leave it so Mother could do it at home.
Whatever Mother did, she did it well – her best. She always told us girls that if anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well, and we always remembered it. Everyone she did work for or who saw her work liked it. One dressmaker in Blisworth always had Mother help her with her dressmaking because she liked Mother’s work so much.
Mother was good to her neighbors. When they got material for their clothes for winter, they would take it to Mother and get her to cut out the material for them so they could make their clothes. If they had any other difficulties, they would come back to her for more help. In some cases she did the work for them. Her night sewing was done by candlelight. The candle was placed behind a large glass jar or bottle which was filled with water to diffuse the light. There were clothing clubs for winter, and the club members came to Mother and got her to make clothing for their men for winter. I have seen stacks of cloth in Mother’s home, some cut out ready to be made up into clothes, some waiting to be cut out, and some made up into clothing waiting for the people to come for it. She never charged anything for cutting out the material for people. I think that is one reason she was called on to do so much of it.
Once a lady sent a pair of her son’s pants for Mother to mend. In one of the pockets Mother found a sliver shilling. Mother said, “I wonder if that was put in there to see if I would keep it?” When Mother sent me to take the pants back she said, “You tell the lady about the shilling.” I did so, but the lady did not say that Mother could keep the shilling. Some years later I worked for that same lady to service (lived at the home and did the housework).
Elizabeth was thrifty and honest. If she owed anyone anything, she could be depended on to pay her debts.
She had been doing all of her sewing by hand. Then after Polly started to work and sewing machines were available she bought Elizabeth a sewing machine. It worked by hand (no treadle, just by the head), by turning the wheel by a small knob on the wheel. It was much easier than handwork and faster. When the machine would no longer work and no one knew what to do about it, she put it in a “copper” and boiled it. After oiling it worked as good as new. She made hundreds of men’s shirts besides large amounts of other clothing for men and women. In later years a man came to Elizabeth and asked her to make him a pair of trousers. He could find none which fitted as well as those she made. She had to say no. She would like to do them for him but her fingers could not pull the needle through the cloth anymore. I have often heard her say that if she had a shilling (25 cents) for every man’s shirt that she had made she would be a rich woman. But as fast as she got money for her work it would have to go for something. Sometimes in the winter Father was out of work for weeks when the canal was frozen over, so Mother would have to be the breadwinner so she always had work to do for someone. Often she needed to go into debt to the baker for bread. She always paid him as soon as money was available.
Mother was often asked to help in other ways. Whenever a baby was born to one of the neighbors, she was asked to go and help. She also went haymaking but she did not drink the beer that was allotted to her. She gave that to the men. There were no machines to do the work in those days like we have now. It was all hand work, and she went up the rows of hay and turned it over with a big fork so that it would dry.
During and just after the grain harvest, she went gleaning in the grain fields, picking up heads of grain which were dropped as the grain was harvested, putting them into a sack. This was hard, tiring work. It was hard on the back, and the stubble cut and scratched her hands and arms. At the end of the day Mother put the sack full of grain heads on her head and carried it home. She went gleaning in fields several miles away from home and. Of course, had to walk to the field in the morning and home with her load at night. This was done in order to help get flour for winter and many of the poorer people did this each year. When I and my older sister, Polly, (May Ann) were old enough, we had to go with Mother and help with the gleaning. We sometimes would stray off to the hedges and pick blackberries or go and hunt for crabs until Mother called us back to work. We walked two or three miles to the fields and then all over the fields to pick up the grain. Sometimes we would sit or lie down as we were so tired.
One of Mother’s neighbors was poor and had a large family of little children. Her husband’s wages were small, and so it was hard for them to keep up with expenses. This woman came to Mother at times to borrow some money to help them along until pay day. The other neighbors did not trust this woman and told Mother not to lend her any money because they were sure she would never pay it back. But Mother loaned her a little money, and always, just as soon as her husband was paid, she returned the money which she had borrowed. Mother was kind to everyone and was always helping people who were worse off than she was and seemed happy in doing it.
Mother always said that she had a wonderful, god father, and she was very good to him for many years. It was always her father that she talked about. She hardly ever spoke of her mother because she never knew her and no one told her much about her. She was only three years old when her mother died.
One of Mothers’s brothers went to live in Blisworth, a town just a few miles away. One time when Mother went to visit and help him, she met Henry Carter and later married him.
Mother was thirty years and eleven months old when she married Henry Carter in Blisworth on 11 July 1853. During all those years she was taking care of her father and brother and her niece. Her father never married again after his wife died although he was often advised to do so. He said, “It is easy to find a new wife but very hard to find a good mother for your children.” When Mother got married her father went to live in Wappenham and lived with one of his sons until he got so that he could not take care of himself and then the minister brought him to Mother so that she could take care of him. I can remember him quite well, especially one time when I was playing with some girl friends and I ran in the house to hide and found him lying along the top of the stairs. He had fallen off the bed and had pulled all the bed clothes off the bed as he tried to help himself up but was unable to do it. I ran along to Uncle Richard’s place to tell Father and Mother about him. They had gone there to visit for a while. My mother cared for her father until he died at the age of ninety years.
There were four children born to my mother and father – three girls and one boy. The oldest, my sister, Mary Ann (known as Polly), then myself, Euphemia Jane, and then my brother, James Ira, who died when he was sixteen months old. (I can just remember him) and then my youngest sister, Sarah Elizabeth.
I remember one time when I was home visiting with Mother that she had two large kettles of water, one on each side of the stove, boiling vigorously. I said, “Mother, why do you have so much water boiling?” Mother lived in a home just a short distance from the “Workhouse,” and it was getting close to winter. Mother said, “Well, I just want to be ready for the poor people who come to the workhouse at night after their long walk from the villages around us where they have walked carrying articles that they have made or begged, to sell, so that they might have a little money to help them get along. Some have a little tea or coffee but no not water and none of the other neighbors will help them, so I have some hot water that they can have to help them make a little warm drink to help warm them up. I have to have a fire anyhow, and it does not hurt me to help them, but it does make me feel good. Some of them do not even have tea or coffee, and I give them a little and also a little sugar to help them out. I am glad to do it.” Then she said, “I hope if any of my children need to help sometime that they will find someone who will be kind enough to help them.”
The workhouse was a place supported by the county where poor people could have a place to sleep and a breakfast in the morning. However, before they were allowed to leave in the morning, they had to accomplish a certain amount of work assigned to them which was the payment for their night’s lodging and breakfast. They were assigned to do washing, scrubbing, digging, cleaning the premises, or anything which was necessary at the time.
Whenever one of her brothers was sick or wanted to see Mother, a man would walk nine miles from Wappenham where they lived, to give Mother the message. She would walk back with the man, and when she was through visiting she world walk home again. Mother was a great woman to walk.
Although my mother did not walk across the plains and was not a pioneer, I think she was a great woman. She did just as much as they, only in a different way. She often tended some of the women when their babies were born, until they could do for themselves. When we girls were in service she made our dresses and sent them to us. Mother once took a little girl to take care of, for a woman who was always on a canal boat and therefore could not send her little girl to school. Mother thus made it possible for this child to get her schooling. She was always doing something for someone.
Everyone always had a good word for Mrs. Carter as they used to call her. She was always kind and helpful to others; that is the way to make friends; that is the way our Father in Heaven likes his children on earth to do – love each other, help each other, and do all we can for each other’s benefit. Today people like themselves too much. Neighbors in those days used to help one another almost like one big family.
People always found Mother to be a very honest person in whatever she did. She always liked fair dealings and honesty. She always paid her debts and did not owe anyone a penny when we left “old England.”
One night Mother went out somewhere before Father got home. When Father came home and found she had gone he thought he would play a joke on her, so he locked the door and went upstairs to bed. She thought he would lie there and hear her rap and call to be let in, but instead of having the laugh on her, she had it on him. He dropped off to sleep and when mother got home she rapped and called but could not rouse him. She was wearing a very thick shawl so she wrapped it around her hand many times and smashed one of the windows and got in and went to bed.
When Mother was a girl at home she wanted to mark her clothes. She did not have silk twist as they have today, so she marked them with her hair.
When Mother was about fifty years old something happened which at the time did not seem serious but which later developed into a very serious condition almost resulting in her death. One day when she was doing the family washing and as ususal, was stirring and pushing the clothes around and down into the hot water in the boiler with a round stick, she suddenly lost hold of the stick and somehow it was forced very hard up into her face. The end of it struck her lip near the left nostril. Although she did not pay much attention to it at the time, the blow injured her gum and cancer started to develop. It spread along her gum and down into her throat. She suffered for quite a long time. Then she heard of an old man in Northampton who had cured many people of tumors and cancers so she went to him for treatments. He told her it was a bleeding cancer and that it had probably been caused by a blow at some time. Mother told him how she at one time was struck by the stick as related, and he thought that was the cause of her present trouble. His treatment was very severe and caused mother a lot of very intense suffering. It was necessary for my oldest sister, Mary Ann (she was called Polly) to stay at home and take care of Mother and the home. I was out at work in Northampton and our youngest sister, Sarah was just about ten years old and was, of course, at home helping. One day Mother called Sarah to her bedside and told her where to find her father’s Sunday clothes, shirt, and handkerchief in case he needed them. Sarah was very much surprised and said, “Mother, where are you going?” To which Mother replied, “I don’t know.” For some time Mother had to have treatments every day, but she was finally cured.
In the spring fo the year 1902, after we had been members of the LDS church for about twelve years, the way was opened up for my husband and family to immigrate to America. Inasmuch as my father had died just a short time previously on 23 March 1902 and Mother was also a member of the Church and now alone, quite a problem faced us. I did not like to leave Mother behind when we left England, because my oldest sister had to work and would not be able to take care of her and my youngest sister was already in America and had been for ten years. So I decided, after talking with my husband, to ask Mother to go to America with us. She was delighted with the opportunity as she did want to see her youngest daughter, Sarah Elizabeth, and live with her for the remaining years of her life.
Mother was eighty years old in August as we left England in June, 1902. She enjoyed the voyage across the ocean, and was not seasick at all, and never missed a meal. She went all over the ship, even into the captain’s cabin and also into the places where they were cutting meat and cleaning fish and getting them ready for cooking.
One day she wandered into a cabin and saw a purse lying on the bed. She thought she was in our cabin so she picked up the purse and went to find my husband. When she found him she said, “You should take better care of your money than leave it lying on the bed. Somebody might take it.” She gave him the purse and again told him not to be so careless with his money. My husband said, “Well, Mother, this is not my purse; mine is in my pocket.” Mother laughed and went on her way. My husband opened the purse and found that it was full of foreign money. He took it to the elder who was in charge of the LDS immigrants and he in turn found out who it belonged to and returned it to them. Mother was hard to keep track of, especially so, as I was seasick the entire voyage and the rest of the family were sick for tow or three days or more.
We finally reached the home of my sister, Sarah Elizabeth, and her husband in Smithfield, Utah and Mother lived there until her death in March 1906. She was eighty-three years and seven months old when she died and was buried in Smithfield, Utah.
I don’t know what else I can say in my mother’s favor. I never knew anything but good about her. I hope she is at rest and that I shall see her again sometime.
(Part of this history of Elizabeth Green Carter was written by her daughter, Euphemia Jane Carter Freeman in May 1941, part of it was told by Euphemia to her son, Wilford Freeman, in the summer of 1950, and part was written by Ida. The histories have been combined.)