Ethen, Milton, Meyer, Mitchell, and Liston
This page consists of the writings of Agnes Sim Mitchell
Agnes Mitchell Milton was my mother's mother's mother and was
married to Henry H. Milton. She wrote out an account of the
life of her mother in Scotland, the Mitchell family's immigration
to this country, and their life in Mitchell County, Iowa,
concluding with her marriage to Henry and the birth of their
children. This account is displayed
below in eight parts.
A second letter, or possibly parts of two letters, was was written
to my mother, Betty Condon, around 1960. Some of the early
Mitchell history is again written down, along with some notes on
things then current. This document consists of four parts, below.
A third letter, or really just a written account, is entitled "My
Vision". This document recounts a vision that Agnes had in
1943, shortly after Henry died. A copy of this account was
given to Alma Milton (wife of Les Milton, Agnes' son), and was
later typed by Gloria Milton (wife of Russell Milton, who was a
son of Les). Because the document was typed out I have just
provided a scan of it, and have not
transcribed it as I did the other two letters.
This first letter is undated, but Betty
Condon thinks that it must have been written in the late 50s or
early 60s. A little puzzling because at the end of the
letter it seems as though Henry was still alive (the phrase "we lived until we
retired & have lived ever since"
is used). However, Betty would only have been 12
years old when Henry died, and is unlikely to have
requested this type of information at that time.
For Betty (at her request)
My mother was born in Scotland, the second youngest of ten
children. When two years old her mother died at the birth of
a younger sister. Her father was a very good
kind man, and a sister of his took her to their home &
were so good to her. after about 2 years her father married
again to a woman who mistreated & whipped them so much.
An Aunt of mother's tried to keep her, & have her in their
home, but no, the step mother would not let them. Then they
got her away & were ready to board a large vessel, going to
America (or Africa) and take her with them to keep, but the step
mother got there in time to stop it & took her back to her
family where she was misused more than ever. until
she ran away & worked out where ever she got work. She
was a good worker, full of fun, pretty & a nice
dresser & made so very many friends, and very popular with the
Dad worked with farmers, very quiet and bashfull, but she chose
him to marry, and they both worked hard & were happy & had
4 children, John, Tina Agnes Jule Alexander, who died
in infancy, Mary and Alick. They worked hard and saved all
they could, and when John was about 15 & through school
(1890) they had enough money and bought tickets for us all to go
on the boat to take us from Glasgow, Scotland to New York City
and on to Osage, where mother's sister, Aunt Lizzie Robertson a
widow with one son lived near Mitchell.
It was a large steam ship 1st 2nd & 3rd class. Our
tickets were for 3rd class, but one of the 2nd class booths was
empty, and mother's brother-in-law, who worked with the ships at
the Docks, got them to let us have it. one side was the
door, on the 3 sides was two bunks, one on top of the other, no
mattresses nor springs, just a blanket under us, and we slept
there. The open space was about 5 ft. square. on the
out side wall was a little round window about a foot in diameter
& when it was windy or stormy, the rain & waves came
in. one night the water on the floor was so deep the pot
(chamber) floated all around inside and nobody couldsit on the chamber, (which was the
only toilet we had), some of us had the diahreeah and I can
still hear my mother laughing at my dad, having such a hard time.
Just outside the door was a long hall. The stationary table
was all along it and planks nailed on each side to make it
stationary & to sit on. When the ship swayed, which was
most of the time, we had to hold on to our tin dishes to keep
them. Once on Deck it was wet, & I was sliding on it
from the center of the boat to the outside, where there was a
railing around it, & a sailor came & stopped me. I
could easily have slipped & fell overboard into the
ocean. We had bread pudding a lot with big raisins
in it made Jule sick, & she never would eat them after
that. were 9 days on it, I think.
When we got to the New York Harbor we saw the "Statue of
Liberty". Dad took us to a big Hotel right near, for dinner
& it cost so much, practically all we had to eat the 3 days on
the train, was bread alone, nothing on it, & when we got to
Osage Dad had 25 cents left in his pockets - & 8 of us in the
Will Robertson was at the Osage Depot to meet us with a
wagon. his Mother (my mother's sister) was visiting in
Cedar Rapids, so he took us to his Aunt "Eckfords" - on a farm
about 1/2 way, for dinner. They & her daughter had a
long table set and we surely ate a lot. They had dough
nuts, and we couldn't see how they could cook them with a hole
We then went to Robertson's, Will's mother & he lived on
their farm near Mitchell, but she (who is Mother's sister) was
in Cedar Rapids visiting. People were very good and gave
father & Mother work to do, chopping wood, & mother was
good at nursing & soon Dad got work & a house to live in
at McKinleys, near St. Ansgar. Aunt Lizzie kept me for
about 1 1/2 to 2 years. I went to school & took organ
lessons. Then later went to Carpenter on a farm they
rented and we all worked hard, John helping other, as he could
earnmore wages than a girl could.
We drove over to just north of Mitchell to Aunt Lizzie's in a
wagon with 2 spring seats on it, & for a big treat we looked
forward to, one of us went into the Bakery in St. Ansgar, &
got a sack with buns or cookies to eat on the way. I think
so many knew something about us, & that we didn't have much
money and were very good to us. Then we rented a
farm 2 1/2 miles S.E. of Aunt Lizzie's, & walked mostly that
distance to school.
A family named "Humes" & were from Scotland, & quite
wealthy bought a farm 5 miles N.E. of us & 4 miles from L.C.
[Little Cedar] & Dad rented & lived there, & later
bought it. We all went to Pleasant Valley, 2 miles west of
us, to church, & all (unless it might have been Dad) took a
very active part in it & John was Supt. of Sunday School for
7 years. Aunt Lizzie had given me "organ lessons", from a
neice of hers, & I got to be Church & S.S.
Organist. Aunt Lizzie helped in choir. Tina got to
be a Dress maker & sewed mot of the time. A High
School hadjust started in Little Cedar, &
when through the 8th grade then, I drove a little horse in a two
wheeled cart there. (I had always got good marks on my
studies.) I was in the first class there in High School,
& went 3 years, milking a number of cows, I and mother,by
hand of course, every morning, harnessed the horse, cleaned up
& changed clothes, ate some breakfast, hitched up the horse
& off to school & put the horse in a barn on west end of
L.C. & walked up to school. down at noon to feed
horse, & home at nite for chores & work outside & in
the house. I went 3 years & was old enough to go to
"Summer School" 8 weeks, passed my examination and got a
Teacher's Certificate and taught in a country school 9 months,
to marry Henry, who had come there 9 months before, to visit his
sisterand two brothers who were our neighbors. he
was looking for land to buy, (he was farming his father's
farm in Wis. and had an elderly lady for his housekeeper)
& a hired man.
He asked if he'd write me, if I would answer it, I said
yes, thinking it would be a lot of fun, then after he had
made several trips back by train, he bought my father's
farm. we became engaged, & were married Feb. 28
- 1900, and went back to Wis. where Laura was born March
15 - 1902. When 6 months old, we loaded two box
cars, with horses, stock, machinery & house hold good
and moved to Little Cedar, to take care of & work his
own farm. Here Bill & Leslie were born, and in
Spring of 1906 we had sold it and moved to our own farm
(now Lloyd's) where we lived until we retired & have
lived ever since in Little Cedar Community.
Bill was born April 5 - 1904 Leslie Dec. 23 - 1905, and Lloyd,
June 7 - 1910 and Maurice Oct. 11, 1913.
second letter was written around 1960, judging by her
speculating about Mark asking questions on p. 4. Pages 3
and 4 may actually be a fragment from a third letter, however,
they are written on the same kind of paper and in the same
handwriting as pages 1 and 2. The repetition makes it seem
like they were from a different letter, but from about the same
time. Note that the last 2 pages are on a sheet of paper
that was cut off--the scans were not cropped to a smaller size.
Dear Betty & All-
Your letter surely sounded so good, I'd have liked to of been
there to that show, if for nothing else, than to hear the remarks
of the children. Yes we did belong to the Stuart Clan &
my mother's name was Agnes Stuart Liston till she married Alex
Mitchell, my father. she was two yrs. old when her mother
died, she was a wonderfull person, but two years later her father
married again, to a woman who was so very cruel to the
children. An Aunt tried to steal my mother from her, &
were ready to get onto the big steam ship, to come to America,
when her step-mother came & wouldn't let them go. Mother
had a hard life at first, but was a lively, good natured, lots of
funnice looking and hard
worker. She had friends upon friends where ever she went.
When she married my father, they both worked on a farm as hired
help. he was a plain, quiet good man. while she was so
full of fun. They worked & saved looking towards the
day, they'd have enough money to take them with their six
children, to America, where there was so much more
chance & possibility, to get ahead, and prosper which they
did. Yes I have a poetry Book of her writings & I'll be
so glad to have Carol have it. or any thing else. I'm
sending your letter up to Mary, [undeciphered] these nice days,
I'm sure they'd be real glad to have
you. but I'd want them to be sure & be
home. When we do go up.
and I surely have poetry Books & things for Carol, but you'll
have to remind me when you come over, my memory is so very
short, and I'd be so glad to give them to her.
Don't work too hard & I'd be very glad to go with you any day
you can go, I can always leave.
Much love to all gram.
Those kilts were very
dressed up attire, & worn a lot in Bands & Marching.
some had a feather in their caps. I can just imagine Mark
asking questions & the excitement. Remind me of the
books & poetry
third document is "My Vision" as written by Agnes Milton
© 1999-2013 Steven M.
Condon. All Rights Reserved.