Desire ELLIS Arnold

photo courtesy of Robert’s ggg-granddaughter Karen Mead

Henry Dennis Arnold and his good wife Desire Ellis (also born in Rhode Island) were married and had three children born them (Augustus Ellis, William Slocum and Sally Alice).  In 1824 they moved to York state, stopping first in Chenango Co. where Robert Bell was born. After living there for three years they removed to the adjoining county, Otsego. Morris was the village and post office near there. It was called Lewisville then. Here the parents spent the rest of their lives. Here also Henry Dennis Jr. was born, also the twins (Celinda Miranda and Lucinda Matilda) and Charles Edwin. Fourteen children were born to them, but only those whose names are mentioned, lived to grow to maturity.

They settled on a small farm where there was a sawmill beside a pond to furnish power to run the mill. They eked out an existence on a small scale by farming and running the mill with the boys helping as they became old enough. Grandma developed quite an aptitude for nursing, and became quite an expert midwife and was very useful in illness all about their neighborhood. It got so she was sent for, for miles around. Every autumn she made it her business to gather great quantities of “yarbs” as she always called them – sage, hops, wormwood, catnip, pennyrile, smartweed, boneset etc. She had a small room in their chamber, exclusive to keep them all hung around in paper sacks. When sent for, she always took along such “yarbs” as fitted the case. She was great on “physic and sweating”. There were those who still sent for “Aunt Desire” after she was too old and feeble to go out. In those early days she would be gone days at a time, her girls doing the work for the family. Grandma was a fine housekeeper considering what they had to do with, and her daughters were taught to be good workers too.

Grandmother was a great talker (my folks said I should have been named ‘Desire’). Grandma was a well-posted woman of the general news and topics of the day. They took papers so she was well read. She was a strong “spiritualist”, and stuck to it till her death. She talked to me so much of her people, of who they were, their traits of character, where they lived etc., so that I know more about the Ellis family.

by Emma Arnold Graves, as told to her daughter Nellie Graves Dewsnap who hand wrote it in 1933

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