The Century Chest Collection

Journal of Virginia Bland Tucker Sohlberg

(Transcribed from the original)

To the descendants of George G., and Virginia Tucker Sohlberg.
"Nor knowest thou what argument
Thy life to thy neighbor's creed has lent"
"Each and All" - Emerson.

If I could sing just a little song
That would cure some ill, that would right some wrong,
That would help some soul in its grief and pain,
I know I should not have lived in vain.

But if this song I may not sing,
That would rob some hurt of its pain and sting.
Perhaps I can live a life so sweet
As to lead some soul to the Master's feet.

Some life may bend to the will divine
Because it has come in touch with mine –
At any rate, I can do my best,
And I know that - the Master will do the rest.
Virginia Bland Tucker Sohlberg

[photograph of Virginia Watson Gooch Lewis,  holding a baby - Virginia Bland Sohlberg]

The sweetest women I ever knew, my mother's mother, Virginia Watson Gooch Lewis (Mrs. Charles Quarles Lewis) holding her oldest great-grand child, Virginia Bland Sohlberg, my first born. A Virginian by birth she moved to Missouri in her early childhood, spending the greater part of her life in that state. In 1894 she moved to Oklahoma, where she lived with her daughter until her death, at the age of eighty-eight. Her skillful fingers were never idle, and she has left to us many beautiful pieces of her exquisite needle work, as well as bedspreads and coverlets of her knitting. Only once in my life, except upon Sundays, did I see her with folded hands: That was just after her husband's death, and nothing could have been more touching than the pathos of those unwantedly quiet fingers. In a great chest made by her husband, my grandfather, I have preserved among other treasures which came to me through her, the wash - rag she knitted just after her eyes had been operated upon for cataracts. For some time, she was obliged to go blindfolded, and in her darkness, she knew neither day nor night, yet during this time, she fashioned this faultlessly knitted wash-rag. She was very religious by nature, yet brimful of fun, with a ready wit and a keen appreciation of a joke. The youngest of her family, she was somewhat indulged and spoiled, as a girl; but each year added new beauties to her character, and the end of her life was like a beautiful sunset. Her husband and she remained sweethearts to the end. The verses which follow were written because of his lover-like attitude toward her, but they were written after his death, and for fear of giving her pain, I never showed them to her.

My Pictures
To my Grandmother.

I was looking o'er my pictures, and I came upon The face
Of a dainty, winsome lassie, with a certain airy grace
Which I even now remember, from the days of Long ago,
When we played at "House" together living in the self-same "Row"
When our days were full of sunshine, and our lives held naught of labor,
And in all the world, none dearer than my dimpled little "Neighbor"

There my gaze fell on the picture of the same face, older grown
When, with books beneath our arm-pits and with many a sigh and moan,
We trudged off to school together. Ah, the woeful times we had
With our Cicero and Sallust, - and our Wentworth - quite as bad!
When the birthdays came so seldom and the weeks seemed ne'er to end-
And, in Looking back upon it, I believe I called her - "Friend."

Then the picture, shy, coquettish, full of wiles, yet always good,
Of the same fair, dainty damsel, grown to sweetest maidenhood.
She was fresh from school and many were her followers and beaux,
She was decked with frills and flounces, with fetching furbelows
But, with all her fond admirers, in the end, she took my part,
And with blushes, shyly answered when I whispered "My Sweetheart."

Ah, my pulse yet thrills with rapture, as I gaze upon this face,
With its wreath of orange blossoms, and its fall of rare old lace!
Ah, the shimmer of white satin and the clang of wedding bells!
My blood is set as racing, as my memory on it dwells.
And that great, sweet, blissful moment, the chief glory of my life
When the marriage vows ended, and my arms enfold "My Wife."

Then there comes the face, yet dearer, to a richer beauty groom,
Of this rose of my existence, with its last fair petal blown.
When the peal of baby laughter and the patter of wee feet
Turn the merry world to music, make the universe all sweet.
To the many names I've called her, I now proudly add another,
And she smiles and gravely answered to the sacred title, "Mother"

Then I lay aside my pictures, and I glance across the room,
Where there sits a placid lady, past the hey-day of her bloom.
The warm sunlight her white tresses with a halo seems to kiss,
And though wrinkles are for dimples, I can not one beauty miss.
For of all the charming pictures, far the fairest is to me
This serene and sweet "Grandmother" my grandchildren at her knee.
[Photograph of Charles Quarles Lewis]

My grandfather, Charles Quarles Lewis was born in Virginia, but came to Missouri in his early boyhood. At the age of eighteen, he married Virginia Watson Gooch, and became the father of two children before he was old enough to pay taxes. In 1849 he went to California in search of gold, but was not successful and almost lost his life from the hardships he was obliged to undergo, in crossing the Isthmus of Panama on his way home. His brother, Nicholas Lewis, became so ill that he was carried across the Isthmus on a native's back. He was a man of great pride and dignity, and exacted from his children and all younger people, the most scrupulous obedience and courtesy. Yet there was always about him a certain childlike simplicity and guilelessness. He was a great church-goer and never outgrew the Sunday School, but was at his place in the class the Sunday before his death. He was fond of the theater and of Whist, of hunting and of fishing. Though, like all Southerners of his time, he was accustomed to his "toddy" every morning, he was temperate in the extreme. He did not use tobacco in any form and never swore or used even slang expressions. His only show of anger was to draw in his breath through his nostrils with a little amazing sound, which we soon learned to recognize and to be wary of. He considered his wife and his descendants faultless, and was never so happy as when listening to their praise. He was absolutely pure in thought and deed, and not withstanding his age and dignity, retained to the end a certain winsome boy - like - ness.

[Photograph of Mary Mills Lewis]
My great-grand mother, Mary Mills Lewis, the mother of Charles Quarles Lewis, was a Virginian by birth. She was born in 1803 and lived to be eighty-three years old, when she died of pneumonia. She was very proud of her great age, her fine hearing, and her good eye-sight. No one could make her feather bed smooth enough to suit her, and she insisted upon doing it herself, leveling it off with a broom - stick to be sure that it was absolutely even. She was the mother of twelve children, all of whom she raised to maturity, a much unusual thing for that time. She was so tiny that she could stand under the arm of anyone of her eight great sons, of whom Charles, my grand-father, was her favorite. Until her death, when I was thirteen years old, or there about, the four generations of us lived under the same roof, this "Ittie Gamma", as I called her because she was so much smaller than my grandmother, her son Charles, my mother and myself. She lived to see eighty-seven grandchildren, and one hundred and twenty-seven-great-grandchildren. She was a great Bible student, and at her house I acquired my appreciation of that wonderful Book though I believe it was through her daughter-in-law, Virginia Watson Gooch, that the spiritual part of me comes.

[Photograph of Ada Byron Lewis]
My Mother, Ada Byron Lewis, was born in Missouri, though she wanted to be born in Virginia. She was the last of our family to keep up the Virginia accent, clinging to it long after her parents had given it up. One of my young Northern classmates who had never heard the charming twist which Virginians give to such words as "girl" and "garden", innocently acquired of my mother, "Mrs. Tucker you say "Gy-irl", why don't you say "By-oy"?
My admiration for my mother has always been such that once upon a journey to Europe, a fellow passenger nick-named me "The Woman with the wonderful mother." As a girl, my mother was regarded as the least-attractive among my grandmother's daughters, since - she was dark, while all the others were fair. Moreover, they were content to wear sun-bonnets and gloves, to "Sit on a cushion and sew a fine seam," while my Mother was constantly in the open and always unbonnetted and ungloved, because the wild things called her so insistently she had no time to remember her face and her hands. She couldn't study because something out doors was so interesting.  If she wore a bonnet into the woods she forgot to bring it home, and her clothes were constantly in tatters because she couldn't resist climbing trees. She was always being punished for running down to the Negro quarters, where a certain old "Auntie" taught her to cook. One morning, after the slaves were freed, my Grandfather appeared helplessly in his daughters' doorway with the remark "Children, your mother has sprained her ankle and there isn't a Negro on the place. Can anybody in here make biscuits?" My mother bounced out of bed and made for the kitchen. Later, there came the time for candle-making, and nobody knew how to do it. The candles were in the molds, but nobody knew how to get them out. At this junction, My Mother appeared from one of her rambles, and taking in the situation called out to the family, "Just watch Aunt Rhoda", "Aunt Rhoda" being the name of the old darkey who had attended to the candle - making. To everyone's astonishment, she got the candles out, and she yet bears among her brothers and sisters the name of "Rhoda". She is not a bit systematic, but always equal to an emergency, and once at a luncheon given in her honor, a fellow guest proposed in her honor a toast to "The Woman who could sail a ship." At seventeen, while away on a visit to friends, she married my father, Beverley Montague Berkley Tucker. They expected most direful things of my Grandfather, but when the news was reported to him, his remark was, "Tell those children to come home and behave themselves." During the four years of my Mother's married life, she lost two little sons born pre maturely, because she never could resist engaging in every sport in which my father indulged. Left a widow, at the age of twenty-one, she returned to my Grandfather's home where I was born, seven months after her widow hood began. When I was four years old, my Grandfather moved his household from Napton, the village where he had lived, to Saint Joseph, Missouri, where he entered into the real estate business with his brother. His father had left quite an estate to his children, and my Grandfather was totally untrained to business. Of course the inevitable followed, and soon had found himself without means. In this emergency, it occurred to my Mother that it was quite unnecessary to keep so many guest chambers, and before her parents realized it, she had rented a number of rooms. Being a splendid cook and tremendously proud of her art, also having the natural hospitality of the Southerner, on rainy days, she would insist upon her renters coming down to dinner with the family and before she knew it, she was his keeping a boarding house, which the later developed into an hotel. Always chagrinned at the thought of receiving pay for their hospitality, as soon as this family had acquired a sufficient sum, they gave up the hotel and moved to Independence, Missouri, where my grandfather engaged in the mercantile business. He knew as much about this or any other business as my seven year old daughter, Ada, and it was only a question of months before the crash came, leaving him with but a few hundred dollars. My aunt in Oklahoma City, Mrs. T. W. Williamson, prosperously and happily married, then brought her parents to live with her. Later my grandfather took a claim which increased in value until at the time of his death, he left a fortune almost as large as the small fortune which he had received from his father. When my grand-parents moved to Oklahoma my mother refused to become dependent, and by selling cream to one of the large hotels in Kansas City managed to support herself, while I took a school in Oklahoma.
I sometimes think that those two years in Independence were perhaps the really happiest of my mother's life, since she could follow her own inclinations entirely unhampered. All the rest of her life she has been obliged to consider the prejudices of parents or daughter. But here, she worked in her gardens, raised chickens and pigs and cows, got up when she pleased, served her meals at any time she was hungry, and lived a life of absolute freedom, spending most of her time in the out-of-doors. Upon my marriage she moved with me to Oklahoma and has lived with me for fifteen years, constantly protecting me from all work and worry that she can possibly ward off. She still loves her chickens and her garden, but, whereas, she used to hate a needle, she has become a famous needle woman, and her fingers are almost as busy as my grandmother's used to be. Whereas, she once loved ease and idleness and freedom, though her idleness was always busy and full of adventure, she is now an indefatigable worker, and seems to begrudge the moments that must be given to sleep.
The energy which once took the form of riding partly broken horses and climbing trees has been directed into more conventional channels, and she is a marvel of efficiency, and her cooking is famous throughout the city. So great is her reputation that when anything particularly fine appears upon our table, my guests turn to her and inquire how she made the dish, when perhaps it is something she has never heard of. She and her grandchildren, my two little girls, are the best of comrades, and as year follows year, I am more and more mindful of the great blessing it is to have her in our home.
Just a bit of foolishness - to fill the page.
She had thought to greet the parson
When she climbed the golden stair,
But she searched in every corner,
And the parson wasn't there.

With lance and shield, in armor bright,
I bravely marched to meet the foe.
I soon lay prone upon the sword.
Alas! That I had stubbed my toe.

Joy passed me, in the lowering mists;
I called to her, but called in vain.
I followed, clasped her to my heart
And found my arms encircling Pain.

I clasped the radiant form of my Desire
My lips crushed hers. I sipped her jasmine breath.
I strained her close and drank her eyes,
And lo! I drank the dregs of death.

[Photograph of Beverley Montague Berkeley Tucker]

My father, Beverley Montague Berkeley Tucker, was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, in the old "Tucker House," built by his grandfather. In the garden of this place once stood the first theatre ever built in the new world. Just across the "Palace Green" is the house in which Washington lived for a year and a half during the Revolutionary War, and just in front of "Tucker Home, across The "Court House Green", is the tiny brick Court House designed by Sir Christopher Wren, though when one compares it with Saint Pauls, in London, one can scarcely believe it.

My father was the youngest child, much indulged and somewhat unmanageable, as his parents sent him out West, to Missouri, to live with my grandmother's brother. There he met my mother. He was very impulsive, imperious and self-willed, but my Mother's short married life was a most happy one. Left a widow at the age of twenty-one, and a most attractive widow, she never for a moment considered re-marriage, and her heart has held but this one image.
[Photograph of George Gustave Sohlberg]
My husband, George Gustave Sohlberg, was born in Red Wing Minnesota. Both his father and his mother were from Stockholm, Sweden, and came to this country on their wedding journey in a sailing vessel, before the invention of the steamship. My husband is the first of his line to marry any but a Swede, while I am the first of mine to marry any but a Virginian, consequently, through this mixture of blood, we hope for great things in our little daughters. He was graduated with the first class which was ever graduated from Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kansas. At the age of nineteen his father put him to work as sweeper and cleaner, in a flour mill which he owned, and made him work up from the very bottom. He has been a miller ever since and is quite honest in believing himself the manufacturer of the "Best Flour on Earth" He is the president of the Acme Milling Company, the vice-president of the American National Bank the largest bank in the State; the president of the Jefferson Life Insurance Company; the president of the Pine Tree Lumber Company; the president of the Oklahoma Brick Company and an ex-president of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. All of which statements I make with an unwonted and unblushing candor, in a manner that I could never make them to those of my own generation, because I want you, his descendants, to feel the fine power and force of the man, who is transmitting his qualities to you. His pictured face shows his strength and firmness and those qualities which achieve, but it does not show the sweetness of his disposition, the sunniness of his temper, his unfailing courtesy toward friend and foe, his cheerful attitude toward life and his confidence that all things are for good. All the things that I try to be through principle, he is by nature. He lives his busy life from hour to hour, never dreaming of the nobility of the structure he is building, never pulling his character up by the roots to see how it is getting along, accepting life as he finds it, and making the best of conditions as they are. As Professor Smith of the University of Virginia - and of Berlin - says - He is the "Folk - i - est" man I ever knew. He loves people. He is brimful of the joy of life. After working all day like a beaver his first questions when he enters the home at night is, "What have we planned for this evening?" Then he is ready to dance, to dine, to play cards, to go to the theatre, to do anything which brings him into contact with his fellows.
There is no good I could wish you, my loved ones who are to follow, greater than that you inherit the qualities of your ancestor, George Sohlberg.
In the register of the English Lutheran Church, to be found in the Century Chest, you can learn what his life has meant in the upbuilding of that institution
A Valentine.
Through morning, noon, and night, I always meet you,
I'm sending you those little lines to greet you.
For all's been joy and sunshine in my life
Since that dear hour when I became your wife.

By all of which, I fear that my descendants will suspect
the scandalous secret that I am somewhat in love with
my husband.

[Photograph of Virginia Sohlberg]

This picture was never like me. It has a certain sadness of expression which is not mine. But it was taken as a companion picture to the splendid photograph of my husband just preceding it, so I am putting in because I have no better. I was born in Napton, Missouri, November the tenth, 1872. When four years old, I was moved to Saint Joseph, Missouri, where I spent my school-life, graduating in 1891 from the High School, as valedictorian of my class, the valedictory being awarded to that scholar, who, during the four years high school course averaged highest in all branches. I led the life of any happy girl, until my grandfather lost his all, when I took a school in Oklahoma City, and taught for two years, when my health failed because I knew no moderation in teaching, but put every fiber of my being into it. In fact, I seem to put every fiber of my being into everything I undertake, with the result that I am constantly in the thick of something. I was married March the ninth, 1898, our wedding having been postponed because of terrible attack of typhoid fever which kept me at death's door from August until December. My  brave husband marrying me when I was almost bald, yellow and shrunken, and unable to walk without support. It was two years before I fully regained the use of my limbs, and then we took our wedding journey to Europe, where we remained four months. On August the twenty-fifth, 1902, our first child, Virginia Bland, was born, a much longed-for baby, and on March the fourteenth 1906, Ada Lewis, our other little daughter, named for my Mother, and as welcome as her sister. I am now forty years old. My husband will be fifty on the twenty-sixth of June. The pictures were taken in 1905.

Motherhood.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."
Through the Valley of the Shadow
Winds the path of Motherhood,
Strewn with thorns of keenist anguish,
And of pain scarce understood.
When a loved one enters on it
We abide with bated breath,
For the way is set with perils,
And on every side is Death.

But this course, as full of terrors,
Desolation, pain, and derth,
Leads, at last, by weary turnings,
To the Wonderland of Birth.
'Tis a mystic realm of gladness,
Where the maker, in his love,
Still performs his mighty wonders,
That our eyes may turn above.

That our hearts may lift in blessing
And our lips be shaped to prayer,
For his kindness, love, and guidance,
And his ever watchful care.
Here the Pilgrims, worn and weary,
And with suffering scarce forgot,
Clasps with joy her new found treasure,
Thankful for the mother's lot.

Fashions - 1910

Everywhere she went, she couldn't go,
For her costume was the hobble, don't you know.
And her hat was so turned down
That you couldn't see her frown,
And she did it 'cause Parisians did it so.

Everytime she sat, she couldn't sit,
If she did, her skirt was nearly sure to split.
So as not to show her hand,
She must always try to stand,
And she did it 'cause in Paris 'twas the hit.

Snow or mud, 'twas velvet shoes upon the street.
When she sat, her skirt and shoe-tops wouldn't meet.
Leather flowers in her hat,
And a muff just off the bat,
And she did it 'cause Parisians said 'twas sweet

And her jeweled "plaque" was big enough to speak.
And her mob-cap at the play was not too meek.
There were some who called it batty,
But some others called it natty,
And she did it cause Parisians called it "chic"

[Photograph of "Our Babies" - Virginia Bland Sohlberg - aged ten and Ada Lewis Sohlberg, aged seven]

Our Babies.
Virginia Bland Sohlberg - aged ten
Ada Lewis Sohlberg, aged seven.
Not very good of either, but especially poor of Bland, whose chief charm is her piquancy and vivacity. Both little girls are brown haired and brown eyed, as are their father and I. Bland is dark, with snappy flashing eyes, always on the alert. Ada is fair, with great dreamy eyes that look into yours with dog-like devotion. Bland is like her grandmother in that she loves exercise and fresh air, and excitement, but she lacks her grandmother's practical turn of mind, and goes about with her head in the clouds, while her feet trip over the clouds. She bosses every child in the neighborhood, starts them upon new games that nobody ever heard of and is a leader, always. She is one of the most beautiful dancers I ever saw, and has a wonderful talent for memorizing and reciting, and a rare taste in interpretation. Ada is slow and drawls out her words in the most comical fashion. She is lacking in imagination and has rather a poor memory for a child, but she is very practical, and often brings down her sister from the clouds. Bland has the knack of saying exactly the thing which irritates, while Ada invariably says the thing which pleases, the result being that she is considered too sweet and gentle and loving for this world, and people are constantly predicting that we will never rear her, and weeping over her because she looks like their own dead children, and has their same sweet mannerisms.

[Photograph of Virginia Bland Sohlberg]

Lady Came - to - See

Once I saw the King of England, as he gazed at Ascots Race,
And I saw, at closer quarters, Good King Oscar's noble face,
Once King George I almost elbowed, as I passed down Dresden's street
But of all the lordly persons that I ever chanced to meet,
There is one, above all others most attractive seems to me,
And perhaps you've met her also. She's called Lady Come - to - See.

I confess she is a tyrant, and her will must be obeyed.
She is very, very human, not all good, I am afraid,
But her manners are so winsome, and her ways so very sweet
And her face so full of sunshine - I've become her slave complete
And of all the high-born Ladies for the fairest is to me
This beguiling little person known as Lady - Come - to - See.

The First Born.

In the night there comes a whisper that I love as well as dread -
"Please, dear Mother, I'm so lonely, Mayn't I crawl into your bed?"
Then I work my arm as pillow for a curly little pate,
And she snuggles down beside me, while I lie and question fate
That it seem so very easy for this little one to sleep,
While, in strained and cramped position, I, a weary vigil keep.

As my lids begin to flutter, and Sleep's borderland I seek,
Two wee arms are thrown about me, and a kiss pressed on my cheek.
Comes a small voice, meek and pleading, with intent to wheedle me,
"Please wake up. The sun's most shining, Let's play Lady Come - to - See."
I begin to make excuses, beg a moment more of ease,
And I drop off into slumber to accompaniment of "Please"

But again I am awaken by the same insistent voice,
"I've got Bettie here, and Susie, and I'll let you take your choice
So we make a choice of children, and, by some absurd degree
Big rag Bettie falls to Baby, while wee Susie falls to me.
Then we lie and laugh and chatter, till a certain pleasant smell
Tells me it is time for dressing, warns me of the breakfast bell.

As I make a hasty toilet and am doing - up my hair,
At the least convenient moment, comes, "I want my dollies chair"
All day long, I'm interrupted in whate'er I undertake.
Should I try to sew or study, should I try to sweep or bake,
There is - "Mother - Mother - Mother –"till, I say it to my shame -
I declare, in quick impatience, that I almost hate the name.

Seven comes. I hail it gladly, as I tuck her into bed,
After all the hugs and kisses, after the good nights are said,
Then I draw my chair and seat me, for a quiet time to think,
But there comes from out the bed-room, - "Mother, you forgot my drink."
So I take the water, meekly, try to do it with a grace,
And again my tyrant order, "Sit where I can see your face."

So I move where she can see me. And the long, hard day is done.
There are hours of restful quiet. Then I hear my little one
Give a cry as if in terror, and I rise to calm her fear.
With a sudden twinge of conscience, with a sudden burst of tears,
I gaze on the baby contour of the little sleeping face,
I see all the sweet perfection, all the helplessness and grace.

And I kneel beside my darling, with a prayer to God's white Throne
Begging meekly for forgiveness - His forgiveness and her own,
That I've been the least impatient, that I've murmured at my task,
And for just another trial is the one great boon I ask.
Just a day, to play and prattle, guide and train this God-sent elf
To take up the same old battle, and to strive to conquer Self.

The Treasure Ship

The Treasure Ship sailed forth one night, down the River of Babyhood,
While, holding the wheel in her soft white hand, the mother - pilot stood.
Anxious her mien and sleepless her eyes; much cause had she for care,
For ruby lips and heads of gold, and pearly teeth were there.
No wonder she tirelessly search the waves, to guard 'gainst - shallows & shoals,
For stored away in the safest place, were two precious baby souls.

The Treasure Ship sailed forth one night, on the turbulent lake of Youth
Past the rocks of Falsehood, and Anger, and Pride, down the God-made Channel of Truth
The friendly beams of the Lighthouse - Church, - and the lesser Lighthouse, - School,
Illumined the waves and disclosed to view the buoys of Habit and Rule.

The pilot guided her priceless craft, as safe as safe could be,
Past rapids, and shallows, and shifting sands, out into the boundless Sea.

The Treasure Ship sailed forth one night, on the mighty Ocean of Life.
Oh, Thou who wert tossed upon Galilee, and stilled its tempest and strife.
Be gracious to this, our Treasure Ship, and grant to it gentle gales.
With steady hand, with infinite love, and with patience that never fails
When the wearied pilot shall faint and fall and resign her all to the Sea,
Do Thou take helm and guide all safe into God's Eternity.

Success?

Of gentle blood, and of ancient line,
Endowed by nature with all that is fine,
With dignity, beauty, and gracious mien,
Among her comrades, she moved a queen.
A heart that was noble, and blithe, and kind,
And all these crowned with the gift of mind.
Her class-mates said in loving pride,
Though in modesty, she trice to hide
These gifts of hers, it can not be,
The world will take note. We shall live to see.

She married a man who was good and true.
She was easily first in the world he knew.
As months rolled by, she became a mother.
One curly pate succeeded another.
Weary and sleepless, her little troop
She nursed through measles and mumps and croup.
There were sometimes days of fierce unrest
As the thought of ambitions and talents repressed,
But she patiently answered each helpless call,
And the love of her babies atoned for all.

There came a day when her life was spent,
And she folded her tired hands, content.
Forgetting the roseate dreams of Youth,
She looked straight into the eyes of Truth.
I know that my gifts were rich and rare,
But I laid them aside because of Care,
And the life which I might have shaped to Beauty
Grew common place, while I did my Duty.
I can not say. I can only guess
That the Master will write o'er that name - Success.

Written for a friend who accepted motherhood unwillingly.

My Dears - All of you: -

I intended to place this message at the end of the book, as a kind of last word, but the time has grown so short and my life is so very full that I fear to postpone it longer, but the book must be put into the Chest, unfinished. It has been written at break-neck speed, the idea being not to do it well, but to do it at all. I have not had time to re-read it and you will doubtless find many errors, but remember what a great critic has said about Emily Dickinson's poems - which I do not like - "When a thought takes your breath away, a lesson in grammar is an impertinence." I have written so fast and have been so intent upon the message that I am sure I have left out letters of words, and words of sentences, in my haste to get myself expressed at all. And many times, as I wrote a sentence I was conscious of its awkwardness of construction, but had no time to erase or reword.

I am hoping that there will be many of my blood to read these pages and to know that long before your birth when you were to other minds undreamed of, we were feeling our responsibility for you, loving you, yearning over you, and hoping the best for you. Whether you be judges or factory hands, we are alike responsible for you all , and we want you to know something of the blood which flows in your veins, and knowing that it is good that you come from a long line of illustrious men and noble women, whose influence has been ever upon the side of right, whose lives have been constructive, never destructive, knowing the fairness of your fiber, we want you to feel that your responsibility toward the race is greater than that of ordinary men and women, that you owe to humanity a greater debt, since God has placed you among the Strong.

No matter what your walk of life may be, remember that "No man is made happy by the possession of mere objects. The measure of our desires is the measure of our slavery." God's richest gifts are given to all, alike. The sunshine and the blue sky, the trees and their feathered songsters, the star light and the sunset are free: and that man whose heart is lifted Godward at the sight of a blade of grass, who feels the big blessing descending from the mighty, prayerful, outstretched arms of trees, is rich beyond his fellows, with a happiness, which, coming from within, cannot be taken away.

Because you inherit the blood of many generations of scholars and statesmen, men of attainment, but dreamers, all, with the rich dreams of the prophet, which are dreams for our generation, but practical accomplishments for the next, it should be yours to see with seeing eyes, to hear with hearing ears, to feel joy and sorrow to their height and depth, to live life to its fullest, and bearing ever in mind that you have the one gift which lifts you above your fellows, the priceless heritage of gentle birth, it should be yours to give to the race a richer service, to expect little and to bestow much, because of the "Obligation of the Strong to the Weak."

My great grandmother's son, John Randolph, of Roanoke, once met a political enemy upon a narrow path. The enemy, a very small fellow, puffed himself to take as much of the pathway as possible, and glowering upon Randolph, cried out "I never make way for a rascal." It was in the days of duels, and Randolph was quick of temper and a fine shot. But the great six - footer smilingly stepped aside, and having politely remarked so lovely, "I always do."

Through my papers, you can find the records of your family, in "The Colonial Dames of America," or in "The Daughters of the American Revolution." I shall not take time to tell you about them, since they can be had by merely asking for copies of these papers from either organization. I am trying to tell you the more intimate, the anecdotal part of those lives which are so close to mine that their characteristics are yet remembered, to make you see how human we are, how like yourselves. I wonder, how I wonder about you! Will you remember that that which may be right for meaner worlds is not legitimate for you, that your place of life is higher, your ideals correspondingly nobler?

But I must hasten to tell you about the Century Chest. -  In December, rather as a joke, I think, because I had declined it so often, I was elected president of the Ladies Aid of the English Lutheran Church. Our family is really Episcopal, but moving into a part of Missouri where there was nothing but a Baptist church, they united with that rather than be without church affiliation. Consequently by the time I appeared upon the scene, they were staunch Baptist and as such I was reared.  Because all right minded women are naturally religious, - A woman without the love of God in her heart is to me a creature unsexed, - it was easier for me to join my husband's church than for him to join mine, as just before our oldest daughter, Bland, was born, I united with the Lutheran Church in order not to be divided in such a way as to cause bewilderment in the minds of our children. I left a church almost a thousand strong, to become a member of one which numbered about twelve people, for it was just being organized and there are not many Lutherans in this part of the country. It now has between an hundred and thirty and an hundred and fifty members, and has built a beautiful new place of worship, really churchly in structure. My husband wrote Mr. Carnegie, whose hobby it is to bestow pipe organs, as well as libraries, and asked him to give us one half of a thirty-two hundred dollar organ, which request to everybody's surprise, even my husband's, he granted, with the understanding that we pay the other half by a certain date. In various ways, we raised seven hundred and fifty dollars - the ladies Aid, for the Ladies Aid assumed the pipe organ indebtedness, leaving the larger debt of the church building, to the men. When I became president, we had about three months in which to raise the eight hundred and fifty dollars yet remaining to be paid upon the organ. We cast about for various means by which to do it, and at last, in the night, there flashed into my mind the memory that in the year 1900, at the opening of the century, Colorado Springs had buried a chest to be opened at the beginning of the next century. The way I heard about it, was through a cousin of whose beautiful soprano voice they had asked a record. With this skeleton to build upon, I planned the Century Chest as reported in the first clipping, and since then, through the ideas of those with whom I have come in contact, it has grown to its present dimentions. It is far from what I should like it, and from what it would be had we not been hampered by the necessity for raising money. Not a thing in the Chest has been bought, consequently some of the things seem very cheap, but they were gifts and we accepted them most gratefully. In one thing only have we spent with lavish hand, The Chest, which is three chest, one of cement a foot thick, a second of cement two or three inches thick, and the inner one of copper, twenty four ounce copper, specially manufactured for us, has cost in the neighborhood of two hundred dollars. And yet I am not satisfied. I do not trust their safety in spite of all the undertakers and builders tell me. But these doubts I must keep to myself, as I had to keep the fact that the copper was lost somewhere in the recent floods and that until almost the last minute, the maker and I feared it would not arrive in time.

The membership of our Aid is about thirty, with the normal percentage of drones. Mrs. Gates and Mrs. Wetzel have held up my hands and worked like Trojans. Mrs. Schaefer and Mrs. Kelly, have worked well, but have rebelled against doing so much more than their share. Then came earnest, but inefficient makers, who were unable to accomplish and then the worse than luke-warm. Unfortunately, I am the only member of the Church who has a close acquaintance with those in high places, the ones whom we wanted to represent, consequently there was no one who could take much of the work off my shoulders, no matter how good their his intention. Of the seven hundred and twenty names upon the historic quilt, for each of which we received a dollar, I got three hundred. Of the list of messages for each of which we received five dollars, except where the message was to the people as a whole, rather than to a club, an organization or individual, where they were accepted free of charge, I obtained all but seven or eight of the four hundred tickets to be sold. I have sold almost an hundred and must sell fifty more if the church is full. I am not saying these things in the pride of accomplishment, but in the endeavor to make you understand how full my life has been, how little time I have had to give to you, Bone of bone, and Sinew of my sinew. There was the historic part to be worked up, the whole town to be raised to enthusiasm, and shortly after the project became public, I found that I was again to become a mother. Perhaps because of the nervous strain under which I was working, the first few months were miserable indeed, as far as health was concerned, and I was greatly handicapped by the awful nausea which sometimes accompanies pregnancy. I am in the thick of it now, the rush and the worry, but in two days it will be ended, and I can give thought to the things which are my own, to the unborn baby from where your lives may spring.

We hope to realize about a thousand dollars, which might have been twice that amount had we had a few more efficient workers like the four ladies I have named, and had we guarded the Chest a little less carefully against people and messages having no right to be placed there. I so hope the things will really be preserved, that the chests will prove as secure as those who know most about them insist that they will!

I must also tell you about the little verses in the book. They are not put in because they are worthy poetry - but because through them you can look straight into my heart and know that manner of person I am, and perhaps be able to account for some of the characteristics you find in yourselves. For generations, the Tuckers have written verses. Unfortunately, they have all been so placed as to look upon the writing as a diversion, a pastime, else some of them, notably, Charles Washington Coleman, might have done work which is really worth while.

I believe there will be great changes in religious thought before this book is opened. But great truths remain the same, no matter how their interpretation may vary. God to you may mean one thing to me another; each speaks in his own tongue, and the higher we ascend the mountain of thought, the closer we come together, the more nearly our views are the same.
The time is so short I must leave you I must say that knell like words, "Goodbye," but in parting I want to remind you of the words of that king, who having tasted all the joys and sorrows of life, having lived to the fullest, having known all that pomp and luxury and powers, that wisdom and philosophy and culture and mental attainment can bring, summed up life in these words:__
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is
the whole duty of man."

In yearning love and tenderness.
Yours - - Mother,
Virginia Bland Tucker Sohlberg.

[Photograph of George Tucker]

My father's grandfather, "Saint George Tucker, was born at Port Royal , Bermuda, July 9, 1752, died in Nelson County, Virginia, November 10, 1828. He was graduated from William and Mary College, studied law and had begun to practice it. When his ardor for the patriot cause carried him to war.  As a Lieutenant - Colonel, at the siege of Yorktown, he received a wound that lamed him for life. In 1778, he married Frances Bland, the widow of John Randolph, and the mother of the celebrated John Randolph of Roanoke. He [Saint George Tucker] was a member of the State Legislature in 1786, professor of law at William and Mary College in 1789, Judge in the State Courts for nearly half a century, and in the United States Circuit court from 1813 to 1828 - President of the Court of Appeals. In 1796, sixty - seven years before the Proclamation of 1863, he published a "Dissertation on Slavery, with a Proposal for Its Gradual Abolition in Virginia"  He wrote law treaties, odes, and plays."

Upon a visit to Virginia last fall, visiting in the house erected by him, I read letters to him from Thomas Jefferson, in which they were discussing the emancipation of the slaves. Letters from John Randolph and his brother, both step-sons of his show him to be the most lovable of men. The following poem was written for some friends who asked him why he had stopped writing poetry and begged for more.

Days of My Youth
Saint George Tucker

Days of my youth,
Ye have glided away;
Hairs of my youth,
Ye are frosted and gray;
Eyes of my youth,
Your keen sight is no more;
Cheeks of my youth,
Ye are furrowed all o'er;
Strength of my youth,
All your vigor is gone;
Thoughts of my youth,
Your gay visions are flown.

Days of my youth.
I wish not your recall;
Hairs of my youth,
I'm content ye should fall;
Eyes of my youth,
You much evil have seen;
Cheeks of my youth,
Bathed in tears have you been;
Thoughts of my youth,
You have led me astray;
Strength of my youth,
Why lament your decay.

Days of my age,
Ye will shortly be past;
Pains of my age,
Yet awhile ye can last;
Joys of my age,
In true wisdom delight;
Eyes of my age,
Be religion your light;
Thoughts of my age,
Dread yea not the cold sod;
Hopes of my age,
Be ye fixed on your God.

Over the Sea Lies Spain
Charles Washington Coleman - Great grandson of
Saint George Tucker.

Perhaps they may count me a beggar here,
With never a roof for wind and rain;
But there is the sea, with its wave lashed pier,
And over the Sea lies Spain,

And there am I held by a title high,
As befitteth the lord of a broad demesne
For there is my kingdom and here am I,
With only the sea between.

And what if the sea be deep, be deep,
And what if the sea be wide?
Someday, I shall float, in my own fair boat,
And sail to the other side.

A certain man in the city I meet,
As he steps from his coach to the curbstone there,
From a solemn house, on a stately street –
You may know him rich by his air.

He gives me a finger or two to hold,
Or only a passing nod may deign;
He does not know of my title and gold,
My castle and lands in Spain.

But what care I for his bonds and stocks?
No solemn house in the city for me!
His are the ships that lie in the docks
But I have a ship at sea.

And what if the land be far, be far,
And what if the sea be wide?
Some day I shall sail with a favoring gale
To a port on the other side.

And now while I lie on the sea-beach here,
With the fisherman yonder mending his seine,
I know that only the sea sweeps clear
'Twixt me and my lands in Spain.

I can see the sun on its airy towers
And a white - hand beckons from over the sea;
I can smell the breath of the rosy bowers
Where somebody waits for me.

So content do I walk in this world of men
To which by an alien name I am known;
But how it will gape in wonder when
Don Carlos comes to his own.

Be never the land so far, so far,
Be never so broad the main,
There's a ship on the sea that belongs to me
And over the sea lies Spain

[Photograph of Frances Bland Tucker]

Frances Bland Tucker, my great grandmother, the wife of Saint George Tucker. She died at the age of thirty-six, having been married twice and having been the mother of eight children. Her first husband was John Randolph, the father of John Randolph of Roanoke. She was the mother of three judges and the mother - in - law of the fourth.

[Photograph of Nathaniel Beverley Tucker]

My grandfather, Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, the son of Saint George Tucker and Francis Bland Tucker. He was judge both in Missouri and in Virginia, having been graduated from the College of William and Mary, where he was afterwards professor of law. He was a member of the Court of Appeals of Virginia, and is buried in old Bruton church yard, Williamsburg, Virginia He was the author of law treaties, essays, poems & novels.

I hope that my descendants will visit Williamsburg, Virginia, the home of the Tuckers and many other historic families of the South

[Picture of Lucy Ann Tucker]

Lucy Ann Tucker, my grandmother, the wife of Nathaniel Beverley Tucker and the daughter of General Smith. The picture is from an old porcelain, which has passed through a fire and been much injured. She was a woman of rare tact and beauty. Her husband had a habit of bringing home with him anyone who happened to be at court. One day, when all the household arrangements have gone wrong, he brought home a number of prominent judges. My grandmother offered not one word of apology, but when she left the table to the men with their wine and cigar, she turned to her guests with: "Gentlemen, you have been the guest of Judge Tucker tonight. Tomorrow I should like you to be the guests of his wife." The following night everything was perfect in its appointment.

The Voyage.
A steamer letter to Mrs. Dennis Flynn, wife of Dennis T. Flynn for ten years our delegate to Congress during territorial days.

'Twas the fifth day at sea,
And among the whole lot,
Not a Flynn was on deck,
Not even "Miss Dot."

The racks were on tables
To guard 'gainst mishap,
But, in spite of precaution,
The soup filled your lap.

You reached for the salt,
It had skated elsewhere,
And the tumbler you wanted
Rolled under a chair.

The sea grew still rougher,
And folk became ill –
We will now draw the curtain
On all that did spill

Streeter wouldn't give up.
He grew thinner and thinner,
Till at last, one rough day.
He gave up his whole dinner.

The family doctor
Was kept pretty busy.
Then he went to bed
With a feeling most dizzy.

It had once been a pleasure
To watch for a sail,
And the pulse fairly thrilled
At the thought of a whale.

But all this was ended,
And now - Woe! Alack!
Every Flynn on the list
Lay flat of his back.

Mr. Flynn in the upper berth,
Wife in the lower,
While Budge, in his anguish
Rolled on the floor.

The steward's bells sounding
Rang out with such din,
He rushed to the Flynn door,
Addressed those within

"Que voulez - vous, Monsieur?
Pray what can I do?"
From the upper birth floated,
"A priest - PDQ"

In came Pius Father,
Hands folded round book,
And opening its pages,
This passage he took. –

"Cast thy bread on the waters."-
He never said more
He was quite black and blue
When he fell through the door

When the storm had abated,
The Flynns had a talk
And quickly decided
That next time - they'd walk.

The Four - Leaf Clover.
To Fisher Ames the new-born son of Judge C. B. Ames,
Was next door neighbor.

Little Fisher, there's a legend
Handed down from days of yore,
That the leaves upon the clover
Numbered once, not three, but four.

Until Adam, through his sinning
Lost the right to live with God,
Was cast out from Eden's bower
And became a thing of sod.

Then the earth was filled with sadness,
Blank and dreary was the land,
And 'twas found that natures bounties
Were curtailed on every hand.

Golden grains sprang not in gladness
From an ever fertile soil,
But was reaped in scanty harvest,
After days of weary toil.

E'en the little clover suffered.
And, in stooping, men could see
That the tiny stem was bearing
Not four leaves, but only three

After many generations
Our all - watchful Father saw
His poor creatures, grasping blindly,
Straining hard to keep His law.

Then his great heart filled with pity
And he issued this command:-
"Little Four-leaf Clover, hasten.
Bear good tidings from above to the land.

And the happy little Clover,
At the mandate from above,
Crept beneath the gates of Eden,
With the message of God's love.

With each leaf, it bears a blessing.
Little man, be these for thee: -
Health, in richest measure given,
Long life, and prosperity.

May the fourth leaf, tiny treasure,
Bring the richest gift it can, -
Grant that those be as life ripens,
Like thy sire, a godly man.

The Robber Princess.
To Henry Ione Overholser, a little neighbor born one year and one day - before my own little Ada.

On a time, there lived a Princess
In a castle, tall and grand.
She had beauty, friends, and riches;
She had lackeys to command.
She had everything she wanted, -
Or she thought - she had, no doubt,
'Till there came another Princess
Took her realm, and turned her out.

Yes, there came a Robber Princess
From a distant, mystic, land.
She had been there just three minutes
When all things were in her hand.
And she bound the royal lady,
Made of her a captive, - slave,
Who in all things, great or little,
Must obey each nod she gave.

But the wonderful new Princess
Had a very funny throne.
It was fashioned like a cradle,
And, indeed, I have to own,
That her scepter was a rattle,
And her chains were those of love –
For the little Robber - Princess
Was a Baby from Above.

My Daisy
To Daisy Burke.
On Friday night, the Duplicate Whist Club met with the Burkes, at which meeting Mr. Burke and I made the highest score ever made in the Club. On Sunday morning at four O'clock, his little daughter, Daisy, died of diphtheria.

Flowers four were in my garden,
Flowers four, of fairest hue.
One was very tall and hardy,
One, a lesser floweret grew.
One was frail and needed nurture,
But the very sweetest one
Was a sturdy little Daisy.
With its face turned to the Sun.

And its breath, with perfume laden,
Reached the nostrils of the King,
For he loved the little flowers
And He bade His Gardener bring
This small blossom to His Kingdom,
Keep it there among His own.
For its sweetness, it was planted
With the flowers round His Throne.

Yes, the King so loved the flowers
That when this poor world he blessed
With His sweet and gracious presence,
He oft wore them on His breast.

He said, "Suffer little children"
With almost his latest breath,
So he sent for this sweet blossom
By His grim old Gardener - Death.

Though the hand that plucked my treasure
I can not in weakness kiss,
Mid the anguish of bereavement
There is solace left in this; -
Though Sin's frost may fall upon them
And my other flowers blight,
In God's fair celestial Garden
Blooms my Daisy, ever bright.

Verses by our ten year old Bland - Which I have left uncorrected, since they will, in that form, prove the more amusing

The Story of Ulysses.
Ulysses the bold and the fearless,
Once went to a battle in Troy.
He left his wife Penelope,
And his child a baby boy.

A whirl wind came up that night,
And his ship was set to flight.
Next morning he landed on a shore,
Where he saw a cave with a rock for
a door.

The giant Polypheamus lived in there,
And he was anything but fair.
He had one monstrous big red eye,
And the mountain shook when he
uttered a cry.

The Elf King.
Oh! I am the king of the Elfs,
and I love to hide on shelves
and watch the damsils comb their hair,
and teach them often that beauty's rare

My home is in a tree,
I ride on a bumble bee.
all through the sunny summer hours,
I like to tend the lovely flowers.

My coach is of daisy leaves,
I ride among the sheaves.
and see the little birds learning to fly,
and then I think that so will I.

My friends are the flowers sweet,
They climb about my feet.
When the sun sinks low at night,
Each hides its face from sight.      

All night long I dance and play,
Until I see the merry day.
and then I go unto my tree.
and that is all you see of me.

An Easter Greeting sent me by Bland when she was six years old, at which time I was in Saint Mary's Hospital, Rochester, Minn.,

Oh, isn't it nice that Easter has come?
The rabbits all dressed in their best!
And their red scarlet eyes are busy for flies,
While the Easter eggs lie in the nest.

[Century Chest Plan Now Citywide Affair - news article from The Oklahoman, February 18, 2013 - pg. 6 - by Edith C. Johnson, pasted in journal]

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