Mother’s Chickens | People’s Defender


The following story occurs about the turn of the century (Circa 1901). Little eight-year-old Lena McCoy, her brother Ella Ellis, mother Victoria “Tora”, her Aunt Lou, and her father Ella Andrew McCoy are all very upset. Little Lena has developed pneumonia again and Doctor James Oscar Wickerham gives no possible hope of recovery. Hope however is not lost as Elder Taylor Gaston of the Tranquility Presbyterian church is called upon to lay hands upon little Lena and ask God to heal her from her.

In early winter a few months before I was eight years old, mother and I had both come down with pneumonia. We were both almost recovered. Mother was helping with the housework and I was dressed and playing by the fireplace in the living room by the time we were really settled into winter.

I looked longingly out the window at a snow tunnel my brother, Ellis, Cousins ​​Dell and Edna Wickerham and other neighbor children, Corwin and Warner Armstrong, had dug through a big drift that had blown up against a straw stack.

After tunneling to the straw stack, they had taken the straw puller and pulled out straw until they had made a small “den”. From the window it looked like the geography pictures of an Eskimo igloo.

I wanted to see the inside of the structure but I was not allowed to go outdoors.

Ellis was at school, father at the barn and mother and Aunt Lou busy in the kitchen. I knew by the kitchen sounds they were busy starting dinner.

I looked in the bedroom and found my coat and hood I wore to school, put them on and very quietly slipped out the front door.

The snow tunnel and den proved very interesting and before I realized it, I was really cold. I hurried to the house, my one thought now to get in and put my wraps away before I was seen.

By the next morning I had chills and fever. “I hope it isn’t a relapse of the pneumonia,” the family kept saying. “Surely it couldn’t be. Even her bed from her has been right here by the fire. I knew it could be, but I didn’t want to say anything.

Sometime in the night I opened my eyes. I felt like I was choking. I had been awakened by a faraway sound of a thumping that seemed to echo from a feeling on my chest. Opening my eyes seemed an effort. Dr. Wickerham (James Oscar) was sitting by my bed tapping on my chest and his driver was standing by the fireplace.

I had double lobar pneumonia. By morning they had given up hope of my recovery so far as medicine could help, so I was told afterwards.

Though over fifty years have elapsed, I vividly remember the impressions of my few conscious moments that night.

I drifted away into unconsciousness while gazing at the very white, thick hair on the head of the old man, the doctor’s driver, standing warming himself. That white dome was the top of the straw stack covered with snow and his kindly face was some-how a part of the igloo, but his eyes were reproving me for my disobedience. The fifth commandment was running through my fevered mind too. “Honor thy father and thy mother that they days may be long upon the land” which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”

“Heavenly Father, forgive me,” I silently prayed and I knew no more for hours”

Far off sound, fire snapping in the fireplace, low sobbing mingled with a voice – I was returning to consciousness. I felt no pain and I breathed easily.

I knew the voice and as it continued my mind became perfectly clear. It was the voice of Elder Taylor Gaston of our church and he was praying for my recovery.

The feeling of awe crept over me and I could breathe without any difficulty. I looked up to see my mother, aunt Lou, father and Ellis standing beside my bed. They were praying too. Tears ran down my mother’s checks. Later she told me how my color changed from a ghastly gray to pink as Elder Gaston had prayed for God to heal me.

The first cousins ​​were Idelma “Del” (1891-1988) and her sister, Edna (1895-1985) Wickerham. Their parents were Cargill & Mary Sharp Wickerham. Cargill was a brother to Tora (Wickerham) McCoy and Lois Ann Wickerham. In 1908, Cargill Wickerham moved his family from Adams County, Ohio to Logan County, Ohio.

The little neighbor boys playing with Ellis were Thomas Corwin (1892-1966) and William Warner Armstrong (1895-1974). They were the sons of Thomas & Irene (West) Armstrong. Corwin married Vergie Roberds and had five children: Carson, Mary, Tom, Waldo, & Ruth Ellen (Armstrong) Wickerham. Warner Armstrong married Chloe Ellen Kelley. They lived in Highland County and had two children. Corwin and Warner are both buried in the Tranquility Cemetery, Adams County, Ohio.

Dr. James Oscar Wickerham (1864-1940) was born near Locust Grove. He was the son of Peter & Martha (Have) Wickerham. He graduated from Starling Medical College in 1894 and began his practice in Youngsville in Adams County, Ohio. He married Martha Elizabeth Jefferys (1867-1929) of West Virginia. They had two daughters. One dying at one year of age and the other died at age 28. James and his family are buried in the Locust Grove Cemetery, near Peebles in Adams County, Ohio.

Elder Taylor Gaston (James Taylor Gaston) was born near Tranquility in 1844 and died in 1915 at age 70. His parents were James & Martha (Patton) Gaston. He fought in the Civil War and was elected as the Infirmary Director for Adams County in 1867. In 1871, he married Sarah Wallace (1846-1922) and had five children but only four lived. In 1880, he was teaching school. Elder Gaston was a Township Trustee for eight years and Clerk for three years. In 1900, he and his family lived near Tranquility where Elder Gaston farmed for a living. Elder Gaston was a life-long member of the Tranquility United Presbyterian church. He and his wife are both buried in the Tranquility Cemetery, Adams County, Ohio.

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