Born in 1880 in the small farm community of Caldwell, Ohio in Noble County, my 3rd great uncle was Asbury Archer. His father was Jesse Archer, the Civil War soldier I’ve written about before. My great uncle was called Asa by many and there are multiple spellings of his name. You’ll see Aza, Azza, Asberry, Azbury, Azberry, etc. but at one point in his life, he was a teacher and wrote many poems and articles for different newspapers under the pseudonym, Adam Alltop. (If I ever publish my book, I plan on writing under the name Eve Alltop, in honor of him!)
My aunt has many yellowed, aged newspaper clippings of his poems/articles and she recently copied them and sent them my way. I was looking over this interesting piece the other day and thought I’d share it here today. Being that the poem is 110 years old, I love the language usage. We just don’t talk like that anymore, let alone appreciate people on such a grand scale as to write a poem in their honor!
In 1906, “Adam” wrote a newspaper piece about the local mail man named James “Jim” Moore and talked about how amazing it was that Jim had never missed a day of work, except for federal holidays and how he made these long trips around the county in this rickety old horse drawn carriage/sleigh. My uncle calculated that in four years time, Jim had traveled 30,000 miles, which is greater than that circumference of the equator. Impressive, especially in 1906! He wrote an appreciative little poem about Jim that goes:
Did you ever stop to ponder,
That this man has done a wonder:
Around the world, if told in miles,
And always seen with friendly smiles,
Through August’s sun and Autumn’s rains:
Was never heard once to complain.
So oft we’ve seen him on his ways,
So regular, from day to day;
That we sometimes get the notion,
That he’s just perpetual motion;
And like the moon and stars at night,
He moves around for our delight.
Through banks of snow, thro’ mud and hail,
He always brings around the mail;
And even, though the mud gets deep,
He never fails to take a peep
In every box along the route
That has the signal hangin’ out.
He meets the neighbors here and there,
A-goin’ out to attend the fair;
Or with their heaps of victuals good,
To have a picnic in the wood.
With them he’d much enjoy the day,
But silently, goes on his way.
In the hot days of July,
When the mercury goes high,
And the sultry sunbeams fall,
He crouches ‘neath his parasol,
And sits in postures crooked and bent,
To rest himself, to some extent,
The weather changes, by the way,
And “Jim” climbs into a rusty sleigh;
When frosty morning numb his toes
He dons an extra pair of hose;
Then pulls his cap about his ears,
And out of town he bravely steers.
No change in him, as on he goes,
Except the color of his nose;
And when this takes a purple hue,
He knows exactly what to do;
So with his hand so rough and bare
He starts the circulation there.
As we sit ’round our cheerful blaze,
In bleak December’s coldest days;
Let’s think of the man on R.F.D.
Compare his lot with one that we
Enjoy so much, in looking o’er,
The daily news, he brings to the door.
Let’s not feign an utter blindness,
For the many deeds of kindness:
That so gladly have been done,
By the rural man on No. 1.
But let’s try to give in lieu,
Some kindness that to him is due.
We’re always loath to give man praise,
For his good traits and noble ways;
Until death has closed his eyes,
When we come forth to eulogize,
‘Tis then we speak kind words of cheer,
But dead men, cannot hear.
-Adam Alltop, 1906