Ode to Rhoda Farrand
In the last of these Centennial days,
Let us sing a song, to a woman's praise;
How she proved herself
in that time of strife,
Worthy of being a patriot's wife
A little woman she was -- not young,
But ready of wit and
quick of tongue;
One of the kind of which Solomon told;
Setting their price above rubies and gold.
A memory brave
clings around her name.
"Twas Rhoda Farrand, and worthy of fame.
Though scarce she dreamed, 'twould be woven in rhymes,
these -- her grand-daughter's, daughter's times.
Just out of the clamor of war's alarms,
Lay in tranquil quiet the Jersey
And all of the produce in barn and shed
By the lads and girls was harvested.
For the winds of Winter with
storm and chill
Swept bitterly over each field and hill.
Her husband was with the army, and she
Was left on the farm
When she heard the sound of a horse's feet,
And Marshall Doty rode up the street;
Help used for a
moment, and handed down
A letter for Rhoda from Morristown,
In her husband's hand -- how she seized the sheet;
children came running with eager feet;
There was Nate and Betty, Hannah and Dan,
To list to the letter, and thus it
After best greeting to children and wife;
"Heart of his heart, and life of his life,"
I read from the paper,
wrinkled and brown,
"We are here for the Winter in Morristown,
And a sorry sight are our men to-day,
In tatters and
rags with no sign of pay.
As we marched to camp, if a man looked back,
By the dropping blood he could trace our track;
scarcely a man has a decent shoe,
And there's not a stocking the army through;
So send us stockings as quick as you
My company needs them, every man,
And every man is a neighbor's lad,
Tell this to their mothers; they need them
Then if ever before, beat Rhoda's heart,
'Twas time to be doing a woman's part.
She turned to her daughters,
Hannah and Bet;
"Girls, each on your needles a stocking set,
Get my cloak and hood; as for you, son Dan,
the steers just as quick as you can;
Put a chair in the wagon, as you're alive,
I will sit and knit, while you go and
They started at once on Whippany road,
She knitting away while he held the goad.
At Whippany village she
stopped to call
On the sisters Prudence and Mary Ball.
She would not go in, she sat in her chair
And read to the
girls her letter from there.
That was enough, for their brothers three
Were in Lieutenant Farrand's Company.
on Rhoda went, stopping here and there
To rouse the neighbors from her old chair.
Still while she was riding her fingers
And minute by minute the stocking grew.
Across the country, so whithered and brown,
They drove till they come
to Hanover town.
There mellow and rich, lay the Smith's broad lands.
With them she took dinner and warmed her hands.
to Hanover Neck Dan turned the steers
Where her cousins, the Kitchels had lived for years.
With the Kitchels she supped,
when homeward turned,
While above her the stars like lanterns burned,
And she stepped from her chair, helped by her
With her first day's work and her stockings done.
On Rockaway River, so bright and clear,
The brown leaf skims
in the Fall of the year.
Around through the hills it curves like an arm,
And holds in its clasp more than one bright
Through Rockaway Valley next day drove Dan;
Boy though he was, he worked life a man.
His mother behind him
sat in her chair,
Still knitting, but knitting another pair.
They roused the valley, then drove through the gorge
stopped for a minute at Compton's forge.
Then on to Boonton, and there they fed,
While the letter was passed around
"Knit," said Rhoda to all, as fast as you can;
Send the stockings to me, and my son Dan
The first of the
week will drive me down,
And I'll take the stockings to Morristown."
Then from Boonton home and set of sun
her house with her stockings done.
On Thursday they knit from the morn til night,
She and the girls, with all their
When the yarn gave out they carded and spun
And every day more stockings were done.
When the wool was gone,
then they killed a sheep
A cosset -- but nobody stopped to weep.
They pulled the fleece, and they carded away
spun and knitted from night until day
In all the country no woman would rest,
But they knitted on like people, "possessed;"
Parson Condit expounded his views,
On the Sabbath day unto empty pews,
Except for a few stray lads who came
in the gallery, to save the name.
On Monday morn at an early hour
The stockings came in a perfect shower,
that lasted until the night;
Black, brown and grey ones and mixed blue and white,
There were pairs one hundred and thirty-three
ones, remember, up to the knee;
And the next day Rhoda carried them down
In the old ox-wagon to Morristown.
like an echo the soldier's cheers
For Rhoda and Dan, the wagon and steers,
Growing wilder yet for the chief in command,
up at "Salute" to the brow flies each hand
As Washington passes, desiring then
to thank Mistress Farrand in the name
of his men.
But the words that her husband's lips let fall,
'I knew you would do it," were best of all.
And I think
in these Centennial days
That she should be given her meed of praise;
And while we are singing of "Auld Lang Syne,"
name with the others deserves to shine.