The Marriage of Patsey Millsap

Posted by tcmgo1 on Jun 26th, 2010

The quaint, though captivating story below was told in 1818 by Calvin Smith, a young Missouri boy who lived on the road between Franklin and Athens, better known today as Columbia. It is taken again from The Centennial History of Missouri, 1821-1921, by Walter Stevens. Though it’s entertaining from time to time to revisit the simple, homespun ways of our early American culture that built our nation, there are some things in the story that really caught my attention given the economic and societal realities of today. Perhaps, you can pick them out, as well.

“One day in July there came along a party of five or six men, each leading a horse with a packsaddle on, containing camp equipage and clothing. On top of these were a number of children. There were five or six women walking behind, some of them barefooted. The company stopped at our house for a drink from the spring. After refreshing themselves, they lay on the grass for a rest, it being the heat of the day. We found out that their destination was about fifteen miles further on the mouth of the Chariton river.

One of the ladies of the party was sick and my mother agreed that she could remain at our house for a rest. So she went to one of the saddles and pulled out her clothing. Her name was Patsey Millsap. She was not related to any of the party but had joined them in Tennessee. She was about twenty-two. Next day she was better, and asked mother for work and to remain at our house. Mother said we were only newcomers and that we had only one room for the five or six children and father and mother. A few days after this a Mrs. Groom, a neighbor, called to take tea with mother, and asked if she knew of any one that wanted work. She said her daughter had just been married and they were opening a large farm.

Mother at once introduced her to Patsey Millsap. She was asked if she would take the position and she said ‘yes.’ Then the question of wages came up. Mrs. Groom said she could pay her twenty-five cents a week, and although this was very cheap, Patsey agreed to take it as she had no home. The two started off for the Groom farm. The first day’s work was washing. As the wash was behind three weeks, it took a week to catch up. The Groom family was a large one.

Patsey worked for a month or more when a young man of twenty-four came along the big road. He was from Kentucky. His name was Richard Chaney. He stopped at the spring for a drink, and, looking up, saw many tall, straight white oak trees and, as they struck his fancy, he made up his mind to camp at this place which was called Smith’s White Oak Ridge. He went to the mill, got some meal, wet it up in some green hickory leaves and in an hour or two his ‘pone’ was done. This was called ash pone. After his simple meal he went to work with his ax, cut down a four-foot white oak. Then with his ax and edge, he made four-foot clap boards which he carried to the big road where all immigrants passed.

He found plenty of customers for his boards, there being no trouble to get logs, but planks and shingles were scarce. Dick soon filled his pockets with silver and thought he would get some meat, getting tired of ‘pone.’ So he went to Daddie Groom’s place for some bacon. He saw Patsey on his first visit and it was a case of love at first sight. A few days later a match was made and Patsey told mother Groom she was going to marry Dick. Daddie called Patsey to one side and said, ‘I understand you and Dick are going to get married.’ Patsey said, ‘We so contemplate to do.’

‘Well,’ said Daddie Groom, ‘Dick is no account and you will starve.’

‘We can live on love,’ said Patsey

‘Well, go ahead,’ said Daddie Groom.

They were married and moved into a vacant schoolhouse. They bored a hole in one of the logs, had one leg of the bed in the middle of the room, laid boards on the rails and covered them with leaves. This with a quilt given by Mrs. Groom made their bed. Mrs. Groom also gave them a skillet to make pone in and fry meat. A few weeks later Patsey went to Groom’s house to buy some bacon. Daddie Groom said, ‘I thought you told me you can live on love?’ ‘So I did,’ said Patsey, ‘but a little bacon will help out so very much.’ Mr. Groom laughed and gave her a huge side of bacon and when she offered to pay for it, told her it would be a wedding present. Patsey wrapped her apron around the middle of the bacon, propped it on her head and started for home. The last I heard of them they had eight or ten children and all were prosperous and happy.”

My observations:

First, here was a vulnerable young lady in serious need of care and work who humbly receives it, without any bureaucratic fanfare or intervention, in the form of a family that did not know her from Adam yet took her in and acted as a protective covering for her in providing both her material needs and counsel, and all that at their own risk and expense. I wonder what laws would be broken today if the same arrangements were made? We might be surprised.

Though Patsey was looking for work she received much more than mere wages, but a home, and quite likely a Christian home, as it was a decidedly Christian culture back then that saw it their moral duty before the Lord (Deu. 15:11, Pro. 31:20, Gal. 2, James 1:27) to come to the aid of those who were truly in need (1Tim. 6:8, James 2:14-17). They certainly did not look to the state to fulfill this duty like we religiously do today, and rightly so, for such benevolence and mercy lies under the purview of the Church, to be administered through the local Christian community, a now largely extinct dinosaur from the so-called “puritanical” days of early America. It must be stated here that the (501c3) para-church ministries of today that minister to the needy are not the same, by any means, as they are created, regulated, and controlled by the state, wherein the local Christian community is the organic manifestation of the Lord’s church on earth when in covenantal faithfulness it seeks first His Kingdom and righteousness in keeping His commandments.

Save for the Amish and a few other Anabaptist communities scattered throughout the nation, the local Christian community, which was once the bedrock of our nation and the safe harbor for the Patsey Millsaps of the world, quietly past from the American culture several generations ago when American Christendom, having grown fat upon the blessings of God while seeping itself in the pragmatism of modern philosophy, rebelled against the Lord to seek after the “good life” via the god of “modern human progress,” better known as humanism, the religion of state worship. And should you think being pragmatic a good thing, look up its meaning in a real dictionary, like that of Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (1828).

Like the one arranged for Patsey, for these types of arrangements to have successfully worked to the good of both parties required genuine integrity and lasting mutual trust between them. And, contrary to the history revisionism of today that maligns and perverts the rich history and tremendous influence that American Christendom had in developing our American culture, there were a myriad of success stories like Patsey’s in those days, as the local Christian community, in spite of its sins and weaknesses, was at that time the very foundation and life of a thriving culture. This is not to say things were idyllic back in those days, by any means, as there were many deceivers and plunderers who took full advantage of charitable Americans by playing either the victim or the benefactor, just as it is today, though on a far grander scale.

Today, this type of arrangement would hardly have a chance to get off the ground, let alone succeed, due to various tax issues, unseen liabilities, laws & regulations, and governmental oversight. Not to mention that we live in a perilous culture where one needs to be extraordinarily cautious in helping others. Without first doing some serious backtracking and investigation, something that is very difficult and sometimes impossible to do given the autonomous, transient nature of our culture, one often puts themselves in harm’s way to help others, a sad testimony to the near total loss of Christian morality in our declining culture. This should not keep us from our duty to love our neighbor, however, but we must exercise biblical caution and prudence about it and take whatever time is necessary to know, as much as possible, all the circumstances behind the one seeking help.

Second, with Richard Chaney being of “no account” how could he with but a few small hand tools and his own limited labor begin to prosper so quickly? To get some perspective, in today’s culture this would mean that he lacked a college degree, a “good” credit rating, a sizable nestegg, and other modern societal advantages. The answer didn’t lie in his skills or tools, as they were common in his day, nor in the availability of trees, as they were thick as molasses. The answer lies in the money. He was paid in silver coinage. For the most part, though the Rag-barons of modern banking were slowly taking the upper hand, the economy at that time was based on gold and silver money, which gave him direct parity for his labor and the products he made, a fair exchange. The same cannot be said for today where fiat currency robs the common man of both his labor and the products he produces.

In 1864, following the passage of the national bank law where the bankers were successful in having the legal tender power of the U.S. Government-issued greenbacks abolished, James Buell, secretary of the New York banker’s committee, sent a circular to the bankers of the country. In it he states, “To repeal the law creating national banks or to restore to circulation the Government issue of money will be to provide the people with money, and will therefore seriously affect your individual profit as banker or lender. See your member of Congress at once and engage him to support our interest that we control legislation.”   (M.W. Walbert, The Coming Battle – A Complete History of the National Banking Money Power in the United States (W.B. Conkey Co., Chicago, 1899) p. 44.)

The truth shall set you free. When the people possess and use lawful money in their everyday lives, they get the full benefit of it as a fair exchange for their labor in producing, buying, and selling the things of life, whereby they personally profit by it, just as God intended (Ecc. 3:12-13). When the bankers usurp real money and replace it with their fiat currency via a legalized monopoly they profit by it to the loss of the common man’s precious labor and production. That’s how it has always worked.

In fact, the plague of rag money – the spurious bank notes and paper currencies – that have been forced upon the American people by the Rag-barons of “modern banking” has actually been openly decried against for many generations in our nation. One such protest, which came with a rather sober remedy, came from a Col. Eugene Leistendorfer of Carondelet, Missouri, in the early days of Missouri following his wartime service in the United States army in the Tripolitan War of 1801 to 1805 (Bay of Tripoli).

“Col. Eugene Leistendorfer, formerly of that part of the army of the U. States which crossed the Desert, and assisted in the capture of Derne, from the Bey of Tripoli, now an inhabitant of Carondelet (near St. Loius), where he is married and where by labor the most herculean he has almost brought to perfection a vineyard and a vegetable garden, which would yield him a comfortable support were it not for the deceptions practiced on him by the circulation of spurious bank notes;

Now in order to put a stop to the further evil, he proposes to the states and territories to make laws, punishing capitally, the presidents and directors of such banks as will not redeem their notes in silver—and he, the said Col. E. Leistendorfer, will hold himself in readiness to march at a moment’s notice, to put the hempen cord about the necks of the Rag-barons, gratis.

N.B. He has a quantity of Nashville paper which he will exchange at a discount of 50 per cent for pumpkins.” (Centennial History of Missouri, 1821-1921, Volume 2, page 601)

When will we ever take to heart the painful lessons of debt-based economics? What is to become of the Richard Chaneys of today should there not be a return to the honest money of gold and silver coinage? The answer is grim, as history teaches us over and over again. Only biblical money consisting of the honest weights and just measures of gold and silver coinage fosters individual prosperity and freedom, which acts as a real check against legalized plunder and political tyranny, provided the people humble themselves under the hand of the Lord to truly see its wisdom while all the while looking to Him to live it out.

Third, the happy ending to the story where the Chaneys have eight to ten children who all were prosperous and happy would fly in the face of the family hating society of today that sees children, not as a blessing from the Lord, but as an unbearable burden and threat to personal freedom and prosperity. The gospel of “wealth without work” through interest bearing investing and corporate welfare has taught us to vehemently oppose the biblical mandate to be fruitful and multiply, to work as unto the Lord by the sweat of our brows in meaningful production, and to seek first the Lord and His Kingdom as the path to civil and economic freedom. Like the slogan from the famous Virginia Slims commercial that touted the praises of the new found cultural freedom of the 1970’s, “You’ve come a long way baby,” so America has come a long way since its inception . . . a long way down the road to judgment and oppression.

I don’t know about you, but I think we have greatly regressed from the days of Richard and Patsey Chaney, as we certainly are no where nears as biblically prosperous and free as they lived—corn pone, one room cabins, and all. —- The Rural Missourian

3 Responses

  1. Larry Says:

    Hopefully Christians will soon rediscover the importance and benefits of seeing themselves as God’s people and a covenant community.

  2. Jay Says:

    Barring a complete social/economic breakdown we will never retrace the footsteps of those that walked before us. Even if that happened, judging from breakdowns that have occurred in other nations, those who are in a position to survive calamity are at the mercy of those who weren’t. It could just get really ugly. When making decisions in those times keep in mind……. “If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” A fellow Northern Missourian

  3. Rural Missourian Says:

    Larry, it’s good to hear from you. I hope all is going well with you. You are so right about the need for the Lord’s people to see themselves as His covenanted people and, thus, a community unto Him. Did you get a chance to finish reading my book? I’ll give you a call.

    Jay, thanks for the poignant comments. You are right, there is no retracing our way back, even if we thought there were conditions favorably for such actions, as the testimony of the Scriptures and history clearly show that the Lord has always had His people press forward in covenantal faithfulness into cultural blessings (Deu. 28: 1-14), and not coast on the faith and blessings of previous generations. With the Lord there is no such thing as going back, no going back to the “good old days” of the Constitution, no going back to States rights, no going back to “simpler days”, etc., only going forward which, in our case, starts with repentance, which leads to reformation. “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

    There is the command in the Scriptures to ask for “the old paths, where the good way is” (Jer. 6:16), but this not a sentimental directive to go back to the “good old days” of earlier generations but a command to return to the eternal truth of God’s Word, which is timeless and renewing to every generation that does so. Whatever godly elements and blessings evident in the American culture of the days of Richard and Patsey Chaney came as a result of that generation’s obedience to the Lord. The same faithfulness today, as the Lord would be gracious to work in His people both to will and do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13, Heb. 13:20-21), would over time through generational faithfulness lead to the same cultural blessings, as the Lord is ever faithful to keep His word to every generation. Scriptures also show, however, that there have been generations that so hardened their hearts that they came under the severe judgments of the Lord, never to return to any former glory, though He will preserve for Himself a remnant. This could end up being the case with America, should the Lord’s people not humble themselves and turn back to Him and His word as the final transcendent standard for their lives. Given the rapidly declining situation, you are right that things will likely get quite ugly in our nation, as there are no blanket promises that guarantee smooth sailing in our walk on earth. “If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Amen!

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