Shelby County, Indiana
It was 1853 and the crops were ripening on Martha's father's farm. He was already wondering aloud where he could find some strong young men to help with the harvest. The yield had been abundant. All the homesteaders in Johnson County, Indiana, agreed that the land here was the best they had ever seen. One of them even said, "It's just too rich for wheat. You need to corn it a couple of years first."
Dad Cutsinger passed the word among his friends that he needed harvest hands and it wasn't long before boys who could be spared from other farms came by asking for work. One of these was Jim Terman, aged 19, whose family lived several miles away.
Martha Cutsinger Terman
1837 - 1908
Martha was almost 16 and very much interested in the prospect of meeting some new young men. After all, most of the girls her age were marrying and setting up their own households. There was still good land to be had farther north for very little money. Strong arms and a willingness to work were the ingredients for success in the new territory. So, she looked the hired hands over with interest as she helped her mother serve the hearty meals so necessary for the heavy work of the harvest.
It soon became apparent that Jim Terman was a favorite not only with Martha but with the whole family. Dad Cutsinger decided he could use a good worker like Jim even after the harvest to help him clear some more acreage for planting next year. Jim accepted the offer without hesitation, and their romance bloomed throughout the winter and following spring. The wedding was scheduled to be as soon as the harvest was in. Jim Terman, as Martha was to call him all her life (she had a brother Jim) arranged for a homestead about fifteen miles to the northeast, built a log cabin, and after their wedding on October 12, 1854, the 17-year-old bride and 20-year-old groom moved into their new home on their own new farm.
The babies began arriving promptly and at approximately two-year intervals. Martha was destined to give birth to fourteen children, all but three of whom would live to maturity. The births were not easy, but neither did she experience any unusual difficulties as far as we know. The first five were girls, so you can imagine the rejoicing on Washington's Birthday, 1865, when the first son (John) arrived. His sisters said in later years that their father, even though daughters outnumbered sons three to one in the family, always claimed the baby girls were sweeter and often added that none of the daughters was as pretty as his wife. Jim always got up with the older children in the night when they needed help, and they remember him as being very patient and kind.
The family experienced no deaths until about 1871 when the third and fourth sons, both under the age of two, died from unnamed illnesses. Also about that time, that second daughter, Liz, lost two babies shortly after birth, and Matt, the third daughter, lost her first child in an unusually difficult birth. With Martha and her older daughters all having babies, there were several aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews of about the same age and living in the same neighborhood.
Martha gained a reputation of being a good nurse and knowing how to use the various remedies available for curing illnesses. The nearest doctor was eight miles away in Franklin, and the only way to obtain his services was for one of the boys to ride horseback to fetch him, usually having to wait until the doctor had finished seeing his patients for that day. There were two Drs. Paine (really!) who were brothers, and one of them would come to the Terman farm and stay overnight. On these rare occasions, Martha would pump him for the latest medical information. He grew to trust her and would leave medication for her to dispense in the community as she saw fit.
In 1880, tragedy struck twice. The previous autumn, a neighbor had brought word that the oldest daughter, Jane, was ill and that her husband had deserted her and their three children and gone West to seek his fortune. Jim took a wagon over and brought the family back to the homestead. Jane obviously had tuberculosis. On April 1, 1880, in spite of the love and care that had been lavished on her by her family, Jane died. Sister Matt took the baby girl to rear to replace the one she had lost at birth (her older children were boys) and Jane's boys stayed on with their grandparents. Late that summer, however, the children's father returned and insisted upon taking them with him. There was a bitter quarrel, which ended in the children going with their father to his parents' home. The second tragedy occurred in October of that year when Sarah, who was seven, died of scarlet fever. The other children said their mother grieved over her the rest of her life, feeling she should have been able to prevent her death.
By late winter of 1883, Martha was past 45 years of age, had borne thirteen children, and suspected that she was beginning to go through the change. But then she began to feel those familiar sensations of movement and she realized that she was going to have yet another child. That was the first time she ever cried over the prospect of an addition to the family. All the other children had been welcomed. As so often happens, however, this child (another girl) was to be a delight to the whole family and especially loved by all. In later years, it was she who could patch up differences between her brothers and sisters, and she who entertained them when they were ill with her recollections of how it was back on the farm.
The Jim Terman farm prospered and grew until at one time he owned 640 acres of the best farmland in the world. He kept the best equipment available and bought a new buggy of the most expensive kind, trading it in each year on the latest model. Irish families in the neighborhood liked to borrow it for funerals. There were always riding horses for the men and driving horses for women, as well as the necessary draft horses. They kept a couple of cows, hogs, sheep, a sheep dog, chickens, and turkeys. Martha liked to point to the turkeys in the barnyard in the fall and say, "Look at the dollars walking around." Turkeys sold for $1 each in those days.
In spite of having so many daughters and so few sons (three), Jim never allowed the girls to work in the fields. They could help their mother in the house and with the kitchen garden and chickens. One daughter who especially liked animals was allowed to milk the cow and help around the barn. The women made jellies, preserves, pickles, sauerkraut, and even put up tomatoes in tin cans, sealing the lids with sealing wax, when that method was the best known. In winter, the men cut blocks of ice from the creek, hauled them up to their ice house and packed them in straw for use in the hot summer.
Martha played a large part in the success of the farm. She took an active interest in the crops and helped Jim decide when the harvest should be sold. Their children remember many discussions about the proper timing for marketing various crops. Sometimes she prevailed, sometimes not. Martha ran the large household with great efficiency. As the family grew large, an older daughter was specifically put in charge of a younger child. Also the housework was divided among the children. Some cleaned, some helped her cook, some sewed. All took a turn washing dishes (all the girls, I should say), even when they had to stand on a stool to reach the dishpan. The girls learned to knit at age 5 and older girls used the spinning wheel. By the time the younger children were growing up most of the clothing was store bought. Various relatives were taken in when they needed a place to stay -- orphaned and widowed cousins, even a son's mother-in-law who was confined to a wheel chair.
Jim was a reader and had a good library for that time and place. Two of the sons and the daughters especially enjoyed books and wanted to become teachers. The oldest boy advanced from graduate of the local one-room school to teacher of it and on to county superintendent of schools. The youngest boy, however, was sent away to high school and then to normal school, and two universities. He earned a Ph.D. and became a famous psychologist at Stanford University, the Stanford half of the Stanford-Binet IQ tests. Bertha, my mother, was allowed to attend normal school at age 15 because her brother was there to look after her, and she taught in one-room schools for eleven years until her marriage. Besides reading, family entertainment consisted of playing poker with kernels of corn. The family did not have a strong religious orientation. Martha and the children attended the Hurricane Christian Church sporadically and Jim probably not at all.
In 1885, the log cabin was replaced by a fine, large, frame house. It had eight big rooms and a front porch and everyone was delighted with it. There were seven children still at home at this time. Unfortunately, Martha slipped and broke an ankle that summer and fussed mightily over her inability to do the things she had planned for her new house. Martha was noted for fussing, not being one to keep her feelings to herself. Evidently she did not fuss at her husband too much, though, because their marriage was considered by their children to be an unusually happy one.
One of the times Martha was especially distressed was when word came that her brother's mother-in-law had been found drowned in the well. Her brother's wife s parents lived with their daughter and son-in-law, and the wife's father had been found drowned in the same well the year before. Some people had muttered about foul play then, but nothing came of it. The second time it happened, however, Martha was distraught and paced the floor, crying, "They'll send him up for sure this time." She was right. Her brother went to prison for quite a few years. When he was released, his wife was waiting for him and they both lived to a ripe old age. Perhaps he was innocent who knows?
In 1904, Martha and Jim celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a family reunion on the farm. By this time, they had sold off some of the land. Soon afterward, they sold the house and remaining fields and bought a house in Franklin, the county seat. Martha liked living in town; Jim found time hanging heavy on his hands. He did not enjoy swapping stories with the other old men on the courthouse square. All the children were married now except Bertha, the next to youngest. As a school teacher, she spent her summers with her parents.
Until she was in her sixties, Martha s health had always been unusually good. The only illness her children mention before that time and it was hardly an illness in the usual sense was when she had all her teeth pulled at one time. She had ridden horseback, alone, to Franklin for the extractions and ridden back, and for a couple of days thereafter walked the floor moaning and bleeding from the ordeal. However, by her late sixties she was having increasingly severe gallstone attacks. Doctors felt her heart was not strong enough to endure surgery. So, after an especially bad attack, Martha died on her fifty-fourth wedding anniversary at the age of 71. Jim seemed to lose his will to live after her death and followed her a year and a half later. Both are buried in the Franklin, Indiana, cemetery.
Every August, from 1909 until 1941, their descendants met at the city park in Franklin for a reunion. The year fire destroyed the big farm house they loved, they mourned it like a death in the family. The Cutsinger cousins were included in the gathering and a large, white banner with red letters announced, CUTSINGER REUNION. Usually about a hundred people came. I, as one of her grandchildren, remember these occasions with special pleasure. The family reunion ranked with Christmas in my young life. The long table was loaded with delicious food and no one watched to see that we ate a balanced meal. I could have ten kinds of dessert and nothing else if I wished. After the mandatory one-hour wait, my favorite cousin and I went swimming in the pool, being careful to return by the time the freezer of ice cream was delivered. I wish now that I had forgone the swimming a couple of time to listen to the stories of old times that were retold during the long afternoon, so this account could have been enriched by them.
Contributed by Jim Terman
Note from Jim: Martha Parthenia Cutsinger Terman (1837-1908), is my great-great-grandmother. The author of this is my beloved first cousin, twice removed, Annabelle McAlpin Spencer, age 93, now of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Annabelle is the granddaughter of James and Martha Terman by way of their daughter, Bertha Terman McAlpin
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