Diary from Jan. 1, 1929

"Long, Long Ago" by Clara Clough Lenroot

  • Full Title

    "Long, Long Ago" - Memoir of Clara Clough Lenroot, Childhood in Wisconsin

  • Description

    Born in 1857, Clara Clough Lenroot was less than 10 years old when President Lincoln was assassinated. This excerpt, from her memoir "Long, Long Ago" published in 1929, highlights her family's reaction to the news as they were moving to their new home in the wilderness outside of Osceola Mills, Wisconsin. Her father, Solon H. Clough, was a lawyer from Fulton, New York who hoped to find fortune out West in the early 1860s. Later in life, Clara married Irvine Lenroot who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1909 to 1918 and in the U.S. Senate from 1918 to 1927. Throughout the 1930s their daughter Katharine fought to regulate child labor laws and successfully lobbied for the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which also established a national minimum wage. Katharine also served as third Chief of the United States Children's Bureau.

  • Transcription

    In April of that year we moved over to our own farm, about a mile away, and about two miles away from the village of Osceola. I recall one interesting incident of the day on which we took possession of the farm. It was April, 1865. We were driving to our new home. Arriving at a little brook, father drove the horse into the stream to water him. As we waited a man came along on horseback, drew rein on the bridge, and beckoned to father. He drove through the stream, got out of the buggy and approached the man, who spoke a few words to him in a low, earnest voice. Father uttered an exclamation of dismay, and came back and told Mother the astounding news that Lincoln had been assassinated! So was that tremendous news transmitted to us, undoubtedly two or three days after its occurrence, as we had no telegraphic communication. The dreadful news permeated slowly by some such means as it came to us to the remotest parts of the country.
    We rode on in silence. We little girls sensed the fact that calamity had overtaken our world. We were hushed by the sorrow in our parents’ faces, and asked no questions. In sad silence we approached the farmhouse that was to be our home, an event which we had anticipated with tremendous excitement and curiosity. Arrived at the little home, father and mother made some pretence of arranging the household goods, but mother soon seated herself upon a bench outside the kitchen door, and tears ran down her face. Father came and sat beside her, wiping his own eyes, and took her hand in his. We children stood around, more and more impressed by their grief. Little was done towards settling the new home that day.
    (In sharp contrast to the slow progress of the news of Lincoln’s assassination came the news of President Harding’s death in 1923 to a rural camp in the midst of the pine forest. There a radio set had been installed. Mrs. Claude Luse, alone in her camp near Gordon, Wisconsin, children and maid in bed, was listening to a fine concert being radioed from the Drake Hotel in Chicago. A singer had just begun a solo. She had sung but a few words when the music stopped and a voice said, “We have just had word that President Harding died in San Francisco ten minutes ago; stand by for confirmation.” In a few seconds the statement was confirmed. Mrs. Luse’s neighbor, Mr. Gallaher, starting to town early the next morning, carried the news with him along the route.)

    [Transcription by: Kyra S., Dr. Susan Corbesero’s Class, Ellis School, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania]

  • Source

    Library of Congress, General Collections and Rare Book and Special Collections Division

  • Rights

    The written permission of the copyright owners and/or other rights holders (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions.

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  • Cite this Item

    Clara Clough Lenroot. ""Long, Long Ago" - Memoir of Clara Clough Lenroot, Childhood in Wisconsin". Badger Printing Company. Remembering Lincoln. Web. Accessed February 25, 2024. https://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/node/1092