by Ella Reynolds Littell
A memory sweet from my long lost youth
Comes back with the roses of June.
Of an old-fashioned garden I loved when a child
When the robin's were singing in tune.
There grew roses and pinks and blue columbines,
Tall lilies - my grandmother's pride -
White and fragrant, bee-haunted - they lifted their heads
The frail nodding bluebells beside.
There were gay flaunting peonies and sweet scented phlox,
And dainty forget-me-nots blue;
Mixed with pink and white poppies and amaranths red
And a bank where pink spirea grew.
The toil-hardened hands have long turned to dust
That tended this garden with care;
And the dreaming child who loved it so well
Is a woman with frost in her hair.
But still when the roses of summer return
In my fancy that garden I see
And the faraway time when life was new
Seems to come back again to me.
This poem was written by Ella Reynolds Littell and the grandmother she refers to is my 4th great grandmother, Cynthia Hale Freeman (1797-1866). Ella was born in Sherman, PA in 1848 and lived there until her death in 1927. Her parents were Deville Reynolds and Cyrena Freeman, my 3rd great grandparents. Deville enlisted in the Civil War and died after falling on his way to dinner. His diary tells us that he was sick for months before his death at Fort Ringold, Virginia on July 10, 1864. His wife, Cyrena, died of consumption at Sherman only twelve days later. This left Ella and her three siblings - Julia, Josiah, and Elbert - as orphans. Julia and Josiah were nearly adults at the time, but Ella was sixteen and little Elbert was only three years old. The children were easily cared for by their nearby relatives. The large Sherman farm was inhabited by four to five dwelling houses full of immediate family. One of these nearby homes belonged to Josiah and Cynthia Freeman and their daughter, Fidelia. Ella and Elbert lived with the Freemans and her poem is inspired by her grandmother, Cynthia's, garden. Cynthia is also our connection to the Hale family and was supposedly a distant cousin of Nathan Hale, the famous Patriot. Ella went on to work as a school teacher in Sherman. She married Frank Littell in 1873 and they had three children including Clair F. Littell who was a lifelong cousin and friend of my great grandfather, Marion Allen Reynolds.
The Sherman Schoolhouse ca. 1896
Clair F. Littell is third from the right with the tilted cap and the arrow above his head. To the left of him, fourth from the right, is Marion Allen Reynolds. One of the schoolteachers may be Ella Reynolds Littell, probably the top row right.
Josiah Freeman Reynolds (1846-1937)
Elbert Devillo Reynolds (1861-1932)