News: C.A. Varney Entertains Old Timers
Contact: Tiffiney Hill


By Chas. A. Varney April 1937

On April 15, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln died, killed by an assassins bullet. Ten days later, on April 25, Charles Varney was born. Intense excitement over the assassination no doubt prompted the grand mother to ask that the boy be named, Abraham Lincoln. The mother not satisfied with the arrangement prefixed Charlie making the name, Charlie Abraham Lincoln Varney.

On May 8 1873, I arrived at Greenwood, Wisconsin, and met the few people living in this vicinity; pioneers in the full sense of the word. Very few of those are in the land of the living today after 64 years.

A few weeks ago I decided to get as many as I could of those together for a pioneer party at my home, and selected the date April 24, Saturday at noon.

I prepared invitations, listing the names of all who were within reach and sent one to each person. Also to three who are in the far west: Thomas Steele, Seattle, Washington: Cassie Steele Tipson, Medford, Oregon, and Amass Markham Marion, Montana, requesting them to send greetings.

The Honor Guests were, Herman Schwarze, August Noah, Wm. Vollrath, Peter Peterson, Edward Buker, Julia Markham Churkey, Villa Drinkwine Gruwell, Eliza Steele Rusch, Ida Steele Richelieu, Belle Andrews Burch and Chas, Varney.

Saturday morning (fell down) dreary, dismal and raining, however arrangements were make to serve a pioneer dinner to those who could be present. The honor table was set in the sitting room, tin plates, iron knives, and forks, tin cups for coffee, tin pan of potatoes boiled with jackets on, beans in the stone jar they were baked in, six quart pan of applesauce with long-handled spoon to dip with, pound of butter on big tin plate, baker sheet of raised biscuits, tin coffee pot (help yourself), pan of cabbage salad, baker sheet with meat loaf, tin pan of fried pork, and old fashioned silver Castor with bottles of pepper, salt, mustard and two of ketchup for beans, A beautiful bouquet of flowers from Irene Varney of Ft. Atkinson. While around the table was a assorted, array of chairs, stools, including a three legged block of poplar stove wood, arm chair, high back and no back. The calf ox yoke was in evidence.

After this course was disposed of the table was cleared of the crude tools and modern equipment provided. A very pretty birthday cake presented by Margaret Einfeldt ornamented with colored icing "Grandpa 72". Another big pyramid cake from the Einfeldt’s with 1865 on the top, and covered with 72 blazing candles was a beautiful sight, Ice cream was served and the cakes put to their practical use.

Another table was set in the dining room for the company with the best of everything we had and modern service. The two rooms opened into practically one large room, put us all in one company.

It was necessary to be present to realize how much this was enjoyed. Every one entered into the spirit of the occasion.

This was followed by reminiscing, incidents and experiences of the olden times. Reading of greetings from those in the west and in important one from Mrs. Burch who like several others was too ill to be present. Mrs. Burch had, provided for each of the oldsters a small token, an address book, in which to preserve the names of those present and otherwise, They were very much appreciated.

One cause for regret was the absence of those who could not be present, Mrs. Burch, Mrs. Gruwell and Herman Schwarze were ill and Mr. and Mrs. Noah did not dare attempt the trip in the storm. The Steele girls of Abbotsford did not get here. The fifteen that were here expressed their regrets but could not be sad. All were kept amused by the description of old memories that came back to us as each related his or her experience.

At 4:00 o’clock Julia had to leave us, to get home near Owen for chore time and at 5:00 the others departed, expressing the thought that the day would long be retained in the memory of each one.

Greetings from those in the west were as follows:

Seattle, Wash., April 17, 1937

Dear Friend—

Your letter received and will try to answer same.

It nearly makes the tears come to read that letter about my old friends. Only God knows how well I would love to be there and see all my old friends again and my sisters, I know you will have a nice time and I will be thinking of you all. Remember me to them all.

I am sending your letter on to Cassie, she is in Medford, Oregon, with Birdie. Well can not think of any more to say.

Asking God to bless you and take care of all and hoping we will meet again sometime, Lots of Love.

Thomas Steele.

Marion, Montana, April 15

Dear Old Friends:

As I am unable to attend your dinner I will send my best greetings to all my old friends and neighbors.

Lots of water has flowed under the bridges since the last time we met. After my days work is done, with my pipe and my dog by my side I dream of old Memories of those days that are now so long gone by, when I was among you all. I would be very much pleased to meet them once more.

I am wishing you one and all many more happy days to come. I am very glad to be remembered by you.

Your old neighbor and friend.

Amasa Markham

The following letter was sent by air mail.

Medford, Oregon, April 20

Dear Friend Charley:

Your letter of invitation to the pioneer dinner on April 24 came and as it is impossible for me to attend, I am writing to thank you and to tell you how much I should enjoy being with you all at that time.

Time has make many changes, taken many from our ranks, and it would be a great pleasure to meet the old neighbors remaining.

Thanking you again for the kind invitation, I send greetings from Oregon to all of you.

Cassie Steele Tipson

Greenwood, Wis., 4-24-37

Dear Old Timers—

I am so sorry that I can’t meet with you all today, and reminisce. It is a long time since I have gone to a spelling school and stood up last or got down first, presumably the latter. Any way you three score and teners May be glad that my voice box is out of kilter and you can have my chance instead of having to listen to the commen cement of Pete Peterson’s education and how he make his entry into it hall or my remembrance of Will Vollrath, as the beau brummel of the West Side and Herman Schwarze’s sill in making " go-devils" for hauling logs and shoeing horses.

August Noah each week coming in to the store and changing eggs for groceries. Ed Buker having to stay in every recess for throwing spit –balls at the teacher and Charles Varney trying to inhale education without studying and later cutting the neighbors corn and Villa Drinkwine, Julia Markham, Eliz and Ida Steele getting 100% on their report cards. These and sundry other things of the friends of Auld Lang Syne I would tell you.

We have been traveling a long time on Life’s Road. Sometimes the road has been just trails, other times it has been corduroy or turnpike and oftener than we thought at the time the road was paved. My earnest wish for us all is; That our future road will be pleasant and comfortable until we arrive at out Destination.

I am glad to be alive today, April 24-37, and have the honor of an invitation to Charles Varney’s 72nd birthday party, even tho I can’t go.

I move we all stand up and give Mr. Varney a vote of thanks and an old fashioned Hip-hip-hurrah and a wish there May be many more happy birthdays for him.


Belle Burch

I am reminded of the words of an old song entitled "Just Twenty Years Ago". Once I thought that was looking backward a long, long way, but now its Sixty-four years ago. I must change the wording a little. It was addressed to Tom, and that is appropriate now.

I’ve wandered to the village, Tom, I’ve sat beneath the tree/ Upon the school-house playing grounds/ That sheltered you and me./ But few are left of our old class/ And few are left to know/ Who played with us upon the green/ Those many years ago.

The old school-house is altered some, The benches are replaced/ By new ones very much the same our penknives had defaced./ The same old bricks are in the wall./ The bell swings to and fro./ Its music’s very much the same as Twas, those many years ago.

The grape-vine swing is ruined Tom, where once we played the Beau./ And swung our sweethearts, pretty girls/ And kissed, them to you know,/ The Master sleeps beneath the hill/ Which coated o’er with snow/ Afforded us a sliding place,/ Those many years ago.

Some in the church-yard lay,/ Some sleep beneath the sea/ But few are left of our old friends,/ Excepting you and me.

And when our time shall come Dear Tom,/ And we are called to go,/ I hope they’ll lay us where we played / Those many years ago.



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