Life As A Hedgepig
 
Friday, 19. December 2003
Joe Stephens

When Joe was five years old his mother died. After a time his father married a widow with children. This woman had no use for poor little Joe who was the youngest. She made it so unpleasant for him that he couldn’t stay at home. He was passed around among the relatives until he was ten. Then, his father found a place for him with a blind man. This man sold "McCornin(?)" products in the country and Joe drove the team for him, led him into the houses, dished his meals, cut up meat and did all the many things required of him. For this, he received his board and a very little money. He never told me how much, but this kept him out of school most of the time.

Finally, when he was eleven years old one of his step-brothers, a boy in his teens, came to work for us on the farm. One day he said "would you be interested in having my little step-brother come and help with the chores for his board?" We had no boys of our own so we said we would gladly have him come.

Poor little fellow! He was thin, tired, & dirty, and had only a few clothes, a pair of old, old overalls, a shirt besides the one he had on and a couple of pairs of sox and a handkerchief or two.

He was such a good little boy and so willing to help in every way he could. The wood-box was never empty. He fed the chickens, put hay in the mangers for the many horses we had, for we lived on a large farm, and did many other little things.

When he had been there a short time, word came that his father was very sick, and for him to come.

We cleaned him up as good as we could. Gave him some money and loaned him a pony to ride to town about 15 miles away.

When he returned about a week later, he climbed wearily down from his horse and I asked about his father. He cried and said, "Daddy died."

Then I said, "Don’t cry, Joe, we will take you for our boy if you will let us." He said, "I will be glad to stay for I have no other home."

When harvest was over we gave him money to get new clothes. My husband took him to town but my uncle wanted to help buy the clothes. So, now he was presentable and we sent him to school with our girls. He took good care of them, and a brother would not have been half as good and courteous as he.

We moved from one county to another in Oregon. We sent him to school and to High School where he was a favourite with teachers and schoolmates.

He grew up straight & tall and quite a handsome fellow. He worked on the farm in the summer. Then we sent him to college. How he did enjoy it there!

But world war was going on and he was subject to the draft. I had hoped they wouldn’t take him for his eyes were poor and he had to wear thick glasses.

He said he would wait until he was drafted so he could have something to which to come back.

In March, the notice came for him to Report. He came home, passed the test and was gone before we hardly knew it. Oh, what a sad and lonely time he had. He was one of the famous 91st Division.

Just the day before the Armistice was signed, a shell burst beside him and he was killed. He only lived a few minutes and didn’t care to talk.

It does seem that he had to give so much and had so little in life. But Thank God he was a Christian and will surely have a rich reward in Heaven.


The above was written by my great-grandmother, Daisy Loretta (Bryson) Scott, about the boy my Grandmother always referred to as her "adopted brother," although no legal adoption ever took place.

 
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