October 30, 1903

Illegible [i] To anyone acquainted with the configuration of the country around this lovely little town, the squaring of the circle needs no explanation. We can leave any point in Milton and return to the same given point by many different routes. The idiosyncrasy of our musings led us to take a route where

“The mill wheel is torn to pieces, Ben Bolt
“The rafters have tumbled in…”[ii]

And the critics along that old mill pond that hardly contains enough water now to quench the thirst of the stock of a […] tanner, were magnificent. I enjoyed it. And “Buzz” said, “O, Pop, O, Pop! pretty! pretty! It was, indeed, here and through all these glories we leisurely meandered, calling up a […] which “Buzz” wanted to catch and take home for a playmate with his Maltese cat, “Topsy.” We continued on, but as all pleasures terrestrial are often drawn to a sad finale, so it was with me on this beautiful October morning. We approached the place where some years ago I married a wife, who now lies in the Milton Cemetery. As I passed the old homestead my reminiscences ran back to former years, and I am man enough to say that tears trickled down my cheeks. “Buzz” said, “Pop, what are you crying for?” “You don’t know, little boy.”

Dear girl, the grasses on her grave
Have now been growing.[iii]

We will here draw the curtain and hide our mournful epitaph, as many others have done in the whirl of excitement.

Fred Johnson and N. W. White have commenced to […] eggs under the name Johnson & White, Incorporated. The firm have been […] nicely located on the northern shore of Lake Fanganzyki with the openings all toward the south. The position appears to be favorable to the business, as it will have water plenty and a nice hold for the fowls. The firm propose to put in 500 head of hens at the beginning of the best variety they can obtain; and with the nice holdings they have, and under the favorable circumstances in which we view their endeavor, we cannot at this time write failure. [….]. Chicken eggs is their forte.

C. H. Atkins has a dog that assists him in managing a […] business. The dog carries the bone, and Charles does the rest.


[i] The first few lines of the column are too faded to read, but they no doubt set the stage for the short narrative of David A. Conner’s walk around Milton’s wilder areas with his grandson “Buzz” (LeRoi Johnson), at this point about 4 years old. He has referred before to his wanderings around the periphery of the town as “squaring the circle.” But unlike other occasions when he has waxed romantic about his natural surroundings, this walk leads to far more painful musings.

[ii] Written first as poem in 1843 by Thomas Dunn English, Ben Bolt was arranged into song by composer Nelson Kneass in 1848. A very popular song in its day, a lament on the passing of days gone and loved ones lost.

[iii] This is an excerpt from another poem, In School-days, by John Greenleaf Whittier, that has a theme very similar to Ben Bolt. Conner makes one poignant alteration: in the actual text, the excerpt reads: “Dear girl! The grasses on her grave, have forty years been growing!” Mary Conner died in 1900; David Conner’s grief is still fresh, but her absence from his life leaves an emptiness as vast as one of forty years. Some weeks earlier in 1903, Conner had inserted a small personal solicitation in his Milton letter, seeking a woman interested in matrimony. It appears all too clearly that he was not yet ready for a new relationship at this point, and perhaps never would be. He feels somewhat embarrassed by his admission of shedding tears, and has to “draw the curtain” on his feelings.