JANE LYDIA DISBROW When the funeral expenses had been paid, my grand- mother found herself with barely $500.00 left from the thousand dollars insurance, and her two little girls, Jane now aged seven and Edna, aged three. Old Cap'n John was heart-broken. Edwin, or Forrest as he always called him, was his favorite and he wanted the widow and children to move in with him; but he was none too well off, his house was already crowded, so grandmother decid- ed to join forces with her own mother, Mrs. Higgins. With the remnants of the insurance money she bought a half int- erest in her mother's shop and for the next nine years ran it so successfully that she not only supported them all but later sent both girls to the local academy, Glen- Wood Institute. But mother covers all this more than ad- equately. She says - "After my father's death we moved in the Fall of 1873 to another part of town, the corner of main Street and Fountain Avenue, where was situated Grandmother Hig- gins' little shop where she sold Notions and Confection- ery. Between the two they built up a very thriving little business in the years that followed. That same Fall I transferred to the Miss Bartlett's Pri- vate School, conducted in the Bartlett home. This fam- ily consisted of Dr. Bartlett and his three daughters - Miss Mattie the housekeeper, Miss Gussie the teacher, and Miss Johnnie who taught the piano. They were all wonder- fully refined and cultured people and my year with them is a pleasure to remember. They were Episcopalians and we always watched to see them pass our house on Sundays, all four of them; the Doctor and Miss Mattie followed by Miss Gussie and Miss Johnnie, the Doctor with silk hat and cane and the girls with ballooning flowing skirts. Miss Gussie wore her blond hair in an amazing system of braids twined about her head and Miss Johnnie, who was 92
JANE LYDIA DISBROW very short, usually dressed in taffetas always fashioned with a short, loose bolero designed to hide a slight de- formity of her shoulders. The following year I attended the Middle District Public School under the teaching of R.W. Hornor, a young man from western New Jersey, who became a very close and interested friend as well as teacher during the four years I was under his instruction. My sister, Edna, be- gan school here under Miss Clarke and at six a specimen of her printing, as well as a map of Europe which I had drawn from memory, were sent to the School Exhibit at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. It was about this time that I began piano less- ons with a Mrs. Moffet, wife of the Methodist minister. She was pleased with my progress, and with me, to such an extent, believe it or not, she wanted to adopt me - but Mother would not consent, naturally. During a severe illness she asked my mother to continue my instruction under Miss Bartlett with orders she not interfere with my posture and fingering. (I wonder how Miss Johnnie liked that?) As soon as she was convalescent, back to her I had to come while she supervised my practicing every day within listening distance of her chair in the next room. Strange to say, I loved it. She was very dear to me. At twelve Mr. Hornor interviewed my mother in re- gard to transferring me to Glenwood Institute, the Dis- trict School being upgraded and unsuitable for pupils in the more advanced studies. So Mother sacrificed still more to send me there. Glenwood was a Boarding and Day School conducted by Professor Charles Jacobus, a rare scholar and a Christian gentleman. He taught the classical languages and higher English while a splendid staff took care of the other subjects. Many of the day pupils came by 93
JANE LYDIA DISBROW train from Freehold, Red Bank, Keyport and Middletown, mainly for the cultural advantages afforded there. Edna, being four years younger, did not start there until just before we left Matawan. At sixteen I accompanied my cousin as a visitor to a teacher's examination at Freehold and, at the suggestion of Professor Jacobus, I too took the exam. Much to my astonishment I, though quite unprepared, passed with a higher mark than my cousin. I did want to teach and was picked for a school at Morristown but this position I turned over to my cousin for one which suited me better turned up before that summer of 1882 was over. - i.e. as teacher for the newly built school in Ocean Beach. But before reading just what did happen to our little family in the year 1882, I shall first go back to old John Nicholas and, by means of his letters and what Mother has written, try to give a picture of his last years. 94
Todd L. Sherman (genealogy at alachuaskywarn dot org)
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