by Dr James Martin Peebles (1822-1922). Nancy Brown Peebles’ eldest son described his parents in detail in 1911 when he was 90 years old. The description will follow verbatim:
My mother lived in a log house, brought up seven children, did her own work, spun the flax for the household linen and helped raise the flocks from whose backs the wool was clipped with her own hands. She fashioned into cloth, and in turn cut and made into clothes for her family. At night we were lighted by the feeble but kindly glow of candles dipped by her own hand. When we were sick, the medicine came from her herbs, drying in the bunches over the fireplace, where also hung the red peppers and the dried apples on strings, and the ears of corn, the old flint-lock rifle of Revolution fame, and the powder horn, and in one side of the fireplace in a niche of its own was the oven where the many loaves were baked to feed the family. There was a room that was musical many hours, now and then, with the whirl of spindles and the shuffle of the handloom, and mother was here spinning and weaving. These were but part of her duties, as I look back, and not an hour of her long life – she lived to be eighty-eight- but her hands were occupied. She worked from dawn to dusk, and on Sunday with a sprig of spearmint and a rose in her hand she went to church and sang in the choir. The neighbors used to call her Aunt Nancy, and when a child was born they sent for Aunt Nancy, and it was Aunt Nancy that laid out the dead. In one corner she had a cabinet of simples, her old-fashioned remedies for the sick. She was strong in her faith, and one of her favorite hymns was, “While Shepherds Watched.” I can, in imagination, still hear her strong inflections as she emphasized important words, like “angel” and “glory.” She sang as though she could catch a glimpse of the other shore. And as she stood in the choir, with her little tuning fork to her ear, under her leadership the choir broke into such words as these:
- While shepherds watched their flocks by night
- All seated on the ground,
- The a-n-g-e-l of the Lord came down
- And g-l-o-r-y shone around
My mother was a strong noble character, severe but kindly. She raised five sons and two daughters, and brought them up in the fear of God. Misfortunes taught her many hard lessons! Father and mother, in temperament and to an extent in ambitions, were the direct opposite. Mother from her early youth had been taught to command, and she broke the horse on which she afterwards rode; and when she was a schoolteacher, she made her boys and girls mind the rules, or be punished. Father was a militia-captain, an easy-going, good-natured, honest jovial man, who loved pleasant companionships, and who sometimes drank more than was good for him; and so made bad bargains and at last his land slipped away. Mother and the growing children made another home, and late in life found them again independent, under their own roof-tree.
Source: Hours With Famous Americans, Little Books About Big Men * Life Portraits of Leaders Whose Creative work Has Made for National Progress * In this number – Dr James M Peebles – Being Peculiarly the Ideas and Observations of John Hubert Grusel,Peebles Publishing Company, Highland Park, Los Angeles, CA, 1911, unnumbered