Old Homestead, A Memorandum

by William Warren Marple (1825-1919)

During the Civil War, William Warren Marple was a Captain in the 104th Pa. Reg. from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and then served as Colonel of the 34th USCT (South Carolina). Many years afterward, he returned briefly to Bucks County for a visit to his old home and to Southampton Church and burying ground. He later wrote this recollection of his visit, and fortunately his son Lucius Marple saved it. William Warren's grandson Elliot Marple prepared a typescript from the handwritten pages for his descendants. It is this typescript which is presented below.


Handwritten note at top of first page by son Lucius Elliot Marple,"Gen W.W. Marple revisits the old Southampton church"(undated).

I recently visited the old Homestead where I was born, and where with four brothers and five sister I spent many happy years. I had seen but little of the old place since April 1861, when at the first call of Lincoln for volunteers, I took my place in the great army. I[n] spite of the changes that time wrought I found many familliar works. The old stone house has changed but little. The trees in the yard that were the pride of my childhood days, are the same beautiful trees, only a little larger. The old pump in the yard is still there, and the water no doubt is as pure and cold as ever. Grape vines and fruit trees that I helped my brother Joseph plant fifty years ago are still thrifty and bear fruit.

It is a strange feeling one has - after a long absence, he again visits the place of his birth and his eyes - now a little dim - rests upon the scenes so familiar to him in his childhood days. Almost every object has a peculiar interest - for around each clusters precious memories. You walk under the shadows of the old trees and your feet [words indecipherable ?] the familiar paths that leads to the old house - as you stand at the entrance and knock on the old door, strange feelings come over you - so real, so natural is everything about you - that you wait on the threshold expecting the glad welcome, when alas only strange faces appear - and you are met with a glance, that seems to say, what can this old man want here?

After a sight of the old house and its immediate surroundings ones thoughts naturally turns to the old neighbors and friends, in this respect the change had been most complete, I found myself among strangers - with the exception of Mary and Eliza Miles there was not one old NAME or familiar face remaining.

The old farms - Beanes, Hart, Mason, Yerkes, Bennet, Fetters, Hohensack, Miles - all had changed owners, and were occupied bynew and strange people. But the County had lost none of its beauty and the well kept fields gave unmistakable evidence of the old time thrift.

I drove over to the Southampton Church and found the stately building looking but little changed from what it was fifty years ago. The old burial ground, that hold the ashes of many of our loved ones - the little old stone house of the Sexton - the long ROWS of house sheds, and the magnificent shade trees, none of these have changed much.

As I looked up to the old building, it did not seem possible that more than 50 years had passed since I was last inside, listening to Dr. Earl, as he banged the big bible and thundered his eloquence from the highest and [funniest?] pulpit I have ever seen in any church.

The inside of the house as I remember it, was decidedly [primitive?]- nearly square and 4 immense "tin plate" wood stoves, which the Sexton [words indecipherable] with hickory wood - kept the house comfortably warm even in the coldest weather. The pews were "boarded up" so that when you were inside and had buttoned the big door only bonnets and bald heads could be seen. The pulpit was a plain box about six feet [Square?] and some 10 feet high - the pulpit desk was reached by ascending on the inside - a flight of spiral steps, after the plan of Bunker hill monument. The galleries extended on the three sides and are built on the same generous style as those on the main floor.

The young people when the old folks didn't object patronized these gallery pews and unless this occupants snored unduly, or were too boisterous in play, or failed to wake up when the sermon was ended they were never disturbed.

I remember that this old hard shell Baptist Church as a popular [resort?] for the young people. In fact it was about the only chance the young folks had of coming together - getting acquainted,and learning the news and gossip of the week. No part of the Church Services was for them. It was only for the [rich?] - the select or chosen few, predestinated, and fore-ordained from the foundation of the world and the Church Services and their preaching was only to edify and comfort them. Of course there was never a Sunday School. That would have been too much of an inovation. Indeed I once heard one of the ministers I think it was Dr. Earl declare that he would as soon be caught in a hen roost as in a Sunday school.

I wonder who now preaches from the "lofty" pulpit and if the old ways and METHODS still continue. And if I should walk in of a Sunday morning, should I find even one friend of the old days?

Transcription reflects punctuation and spelling of author W. W. M.


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