My grandmother told me this riddle from her childhood.
Riddle: Little Nancy Etticoat, in a white petticoat, has a red nose; the longer she stands, the shorter she grows. What is she?
Photo: Millie with youngest son Lawrence.
Emily (Hall) Trout, called Millie, was the hardest working person I ever knew. She accomplished so much in her life, and lived many different roles in her 69 years. I know only a few details, as she died when I was 16. In later years when I asked my mother questions, she said she didn't remember, and my uncles still found it too painful to talk about their father or their lost childhoods in New Jersey.
So these are my memories of the bedtime stories she told, and what I've pieced together in research. I wish I knew more. She lived in service to those who needed her most -- her mother, grandparents, daughter and granddaughter. She died at my uncle's house, after supper, while drying dishes.
Photo: This tintype was taken around 1891. It was called "Babes in the Woods".
1. In 1889: She was born a twin Sept. 26, in Bernardsville, NJ.
2. 1900: Her father died.
3. 1906 to 1909: She was a caregiver. She took care of her grandmother after her beloved grandfather died in 1906, age 85.
4. 1909 to 1937: She was a caregiver.
She took care of her mother, a nervous, delicate woman who always depended on Millie and lived with her all of her life.
5. Before 1910: She was engaged to be married.
Her first love, Ned Beavers, either took a job on the railroad or worked extra hours at his railroad job, to earn money for their marriage. He was in a terrible accident 3 weeks before their wedding, and she reached him just in time to hold his hand as he died. She took the money saved for their life together and went to nursing school.
6. 1910: She was a country schoolteacher.
She (and Bessie) taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Hunterdon County, New Jersey in the Census that year, and perhaps some years before and after. Many books tell about these early schools, including Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little Town on the Prairie (showing an example of a Teacher's Certificate) and Those Happy Golden Years.
7. By 1914: She was a Registered Nurse.
She (and Bessie) graduated from the Polyclinic Hospital in New York City, specializing in private duty nursing.
8. 1917: She was a bride.
The Trenton (NJ) Evening Times Aug 28, 1917
NEW YORK BRIDE FOR F.L. TROUT
Ceremony Performed In Sandy Ridge Baptist Church -- Twin Sister Bridesmaid
Stockton, Aug 28 -- A wedding of local interest was solemnized last Saturday afternoon in the Sandy Ridge Baptist Church, when Miss Emily Van Doren Hall of New York City was united in marriage to Francis LeRoy Trout, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank L. Trout of Bowne Station. The Rev. Samuel B. Williams of Germantown, Pa. officiated.
Miss Bessie Hall, twin sister of the bride, was maid of honor. The best man was Lewis Cline of Sergeantsville. Earl Trout, a brother of the bridegroom, and Carl Todd were ushers. The wedding march was played by Miss Eleanor Hoff.
Following the ceremony, a reception was held at the home of the bridegroom's parents. The bride was the recipient of many handsome and useful gifts, including cut glass, silver, linen, $50 in money and articles of furniture.
The guests, numbering 75, included the Rev S. B. Williams, Mrs. Walter Atkinson, Mr. and Mrs. Percy Hall and son Worth, of Philadelphia; Miss Bessie Hall, New York; Miss Lydia Lererk of Brooklyn; Miss Elizabeth Bellis, Newark; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Apgar, Miss Amelia Duneck, New Germantown; Mr. and Mrs. Howard Sutphin, Mrs. J. Apgar, Lebanon; Mr. and Mrs. A. T. Apgar, Russell Case and son Russell, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Trout and son Roger, D.A.F. Bellis, Dr. and Mrs. Horace D. Bellis, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Bellis, Glenn Bellis, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Bellis, Charles Vannoy, of Trenton; Mr. and Mrs. John C. Lane and son Lawrence of Neshanic, Mr. and Mrs. John Bellis and son Edgar, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Bellis and daughter Allice, of Hopewell; Mr. and Mrs. Albert Heath, Locktown; William Coates, Mr. and Mrs. Irwin Cline, Lewis Cline, Miss Elsie Cline, Sergeantsville; Miss Eleanor Hoff, Sandy Ridge; Mr. and Mrs. A.C. Bellis, Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Bellis, Ernest Bellis, Miss Sarah Bellis, Earnest Gulick, Mr. and Mrs. Manning Potts, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. James Smith, Ringoes; Mr. and Mrs. Judson Hoff, Miss Stella Hockenbury, Clarence Naylor, Lambertville; Miss Mae Hartpence, Mrs. Horace Todd and son Leavitt, Miss Helen Bacorn, Earl Todd, Mr. and Mrs. F.L. Trout, Earle Trout, Russell Trout, Miss Elizabeth Bellis of Bowne Station.
9. 1917 to 1934. She was a busy, happy wife and mother of 3 children born in 3 states in less than 3 years. Photo: 1923
10. 1934 on: She was a widow.
In the midst of The Great Depression, her husband died at age 42, the second man she loved to die young, while she held his hand.
TROUT--- Entered into rest in this city on the 22nd inst., F. Leroy Trout, in the 43rd year of his age. The relatives and friends of the family, also employees of the Castanea Dairy Company and members of Trinity M. E. Church are invited to attend the funeral from the Trinity M.E. Church at 2:30 o'clock Friday afternoon. Interment at Ewing cemetery. Friends may view Mr. Trout on Thursday evening.
11. She was a Bible scholar.
She studied with Dr. O. C. Engle, who gave her the Bible ('For Nellie' inscribed on the cover) that she always had in her hands when she rested. He was older, affluent, and wanted to marry her. Her sons said absolutely not, so she moved from the area.
12. 1937 on: She was a single mother and pioneer.
Leaving all of her relatives and friends, she moved her 3 reluctant teenagers from the city of Trenton, New Jersey to a small, nearly self-sufficient chicken farm in the wilds (to them) of Maine. Both she and her daughter lived in this house the rest of their lives.
13. 1942 on: She was my primary caregiver.
I only survived and had a happy childhood because of her care and devotion. I must have made her last 15 years happy, for she called me "my little comfort". We shared a room for all my childhood, and she told me hundreds of bedtime stories about her past, most of which I was too young or too sleepy to remember.
To be continued...
Riddle answer: A candle