Moses Perry's Top Matches
About Moses Perry Johnson
From his daughter Hazel Adele Johnson Williams Sharp, told to her daugther, Anne Browning Williams Rubenstein Dick:
"My father had a six-bedroom house built to order, 5863 Plymouth Avenue near Hamilton, just before I was born. It was on the very edge of the city. It had a green and white parlor, large square sitting room, large dining room with a bay window, butler's pantry, a wide side hall doubled as a music room leading to a porte cochere where we could step into the carriage. It also had a large kitchen with both a wood and a coal range and a large back porch and a back hall for the servants. Upstairs there were six bedrooms. There was a large upstairs sitting room or study where the children did their homework. The farthest bedroom was for the nurse and was the Nursery as well.
Mamie Conroy, our nurse, was a wonderful woman and a model nurse. She had been a sister in the Good Shepard Convent but left with four other nuns because of unfair treatment. Our cook brought her to the house just before I was born. She was missing toes that fell off from frostbite she suffered as a little girl. Besides taking care of the younger children, she helped our seamstress who came once a week to make the cotton dresses and slips for the younger children. There were no department stores then. Our clothes were made for us by the seamstress, Mamie, or my mother. When Papa came into the kitchen, Mamie used to run and hide in the closet, She had been taught as a nun never to let any man see her and she couldn't quite forget this. Papa being a good Mason, and rather despising the Catholics anyway, was quite provoked. Mamie stayed with us thirteen years."
Little did Perry Johnson know that Lucy and Mamie, who were very close, would occasionally slip off on Friday nights to Mass at the nearby Catholic Church. My mother, Hazel, remembers, "there was an enclosed back stairway leading directly into the kitchen. The front stairway had railings and spokes of mahogany and a stained glass window at the landing. Along the inner wall of the staircase was a three and a half foot "dado" of heavy paper that could be washed clean of little hand prints. Above was dark red wallpaper with gold fleur-de-lis in it."
Mother Hazel continues, "While most parlors of that day were done in dark wood, ours was all green and white with heavy flowered Brussels carpeting. The wallpaper above the white paneling was a soft green with large gold designs, twelve inches apart. The ceiling was a very light green with large hand painted gold stars. We sat on a walnut love seat or one of several walnut straight chairs on seats upholstered with heavy embossed material. There were two rockers and a peacock blue sofa with a brown fringe around the bottom."
Mother Hazel continues, "When guests came the fireplace was lit. The sides and mantelpiece were black marble. On the mantel was a French black clock, on either side of it two red and gold bohemian glass vases with miniatures painted on them. The full-length Nottingham lace curtains were held back by petit point bead bags filled with lavender. Over the door to the hall was a three and a half foot high fretwork with embroidered tasseled satin woven through it. All the rooms downstairs had doors that rolled into the walls."
Hazel continues, "Our Christmas tree was put in the green and white parlor and we nine children sat around in a semi-circle while our father gave out the gifts. On Thanksgiving and Christmas we had twenty-six and twenty-eight pound turkeys and a family of fifteen or more including my grandmother and grandfather Petticrew, Auntie Belle and Cousin Willie."
According to Hazel, "The large square sitting room where the family sat when we didn't have company was done in black walnut and the floor was oiled almost every week. It had a French Windsor rug on it. There were bookcases on two walls of this room, a large light oak table in the middle and comfortable chairs and rockers. The wallpaper on the other two walls was dark red with large buff figures over it. The curtains were net with a dark red, applique border design. The cream colored ceiling had a garland of roses and four cupids painted on it. The family sat in this room during the day but often moved upstairs to my parents' rooms on winter evenings where it was warmer. "
She goes on, "The music room was really a very wide hall. Our ebony upright Chickering piano could be moved into the parlor or sitting room. My mother played the piano evenings and the family stood near and sang old favorites like Swanee River, Old Folks At Home, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean and Strolling in the Park One Day. My oldest sister, Lucy, had a trained soprano voice. Edith played the guitar quite well and also the piano, and Alice was an accomplished pianist and could play 50 pages of Parsifal by memory. My father had a fine tenor singing voice. My mother sang nicely also, soprano. Lois and I took piano lessons too. The music room had green silk drapes held with a heavy gold cord. The front door was at one end of this room, half-wood and half-colored, bubbled-glass throwing a lovely color into this room."
Hazel continues, "Out the front door was a large porch with purple and white wisteria growing on wires fixed to the front of the porch to give privacy from the street which was about forty feet away. There was a large urn in front of the driveway filled with red geraniums and vines. In the center of the front yard were red cannas surrounded by elephant ears and red and green coleus. There were sweet peas growing along the fence on the side of our lot, a moon vine growing over a large stump, and giant pansies which my eldest sister, Lucy, grew. They were her favorites."
Hazel remembers, "Our lot was large for a city lot, 200 x 285, divided in half by a pink, pebbled driveway that looked like crushed rock. On one 100-foot side were the house and barn. On the other were enormous forest tress of hickory and walnut and maple, some of them with benches my father had built around them. Flowering peonies and other flowering bushes grew along the terrace at the front of the forest side of our yard. Along the side fence were red flowering bushes and roses. My father had tall rope and board swings put up, also barrel stave hammocks and string hammocks that had to be carried in at night. In the daytime they all hung from the large forest trees."
Hazel continues, "There was a sand-pile for the small children and doll carriages and wagons. Atthe back of our lot my father had a double-decker cage built which held squirrels above and prairie dogs below. The prairie dogs kept chewing out of the cages and making holes all over the yard and finally after multiplying rapidly, they had to be caught and killed. After the children grew up and were no longer interested, the squirrels were freed. Mama said that Forest Park was filled with the descendants of our squirrels."
Hazel continues, "Along the fence behind them were white and purple raspberry bushes. We also had gooseberry bushes and grape arbors with red, white and blue grapes, pear trees, two peach trees, one with large white peaches, the other with a smaller peach but very prolific. There were two crabapple trees for crabapple jelly, a mulberry tree, and an apple tree. There was a large vegetable garden with many kinds of vegetables which John, our colored man, who functioned as coachman and yardman, looked after. He also saw to the carriage and buggy, the carriage horse, Molly, and her son, Tony, Lucy and Edith's riding horse. I will never forget John. John and his wife our cook were very wonderful colored people. John would never sit in the streetcar with me when he went with me when I was sent downtown to buy shoes. He said he had the proper bringing up and would stand on the platform."
She continues, "We had a milk cow that gave us rich cream and milk. Her calf was born in our barn. We had our own chickens. All the bicycles were kept on a rack in the barn. Even my mother had a bicycle and rode it frequently. Everyone rode bicycles in those days. It was 'the thing' to do."
Hazel remembers the bedrooms, "My mother's and father's bedroom had a large alcove with a very large antique desk in it and on the other side a small desk for my mother. Their oak double bed folded up into the wall in the daytime and the bottom had a pier glass mirror on it. The room became a sitting room in the daytime. My mother had her mother's old marble top dresser. In the hall outside this room there was a walnut wardrobe that went from floor to ceiling where we hid while playing hide-and-seek. Off the hallway were bedrooms that my sisters occupied. Lucy and Edith, the two eldest, shared one room and Alice shared a room with Lois and me. Ruth and Beverly were in the nursery down the hall. Hobert and Wilbur had a room on the third floor.
She continues, "There was another nice bedroom on the third floor occupied by the cook. My mother preferred colored help, she thought they were better cooks and more respectful. She was always kind and generous to them. Also on the third floor was a storage room where winter clothes were kept in cedar chests. My mother crocheted many of the caps, hats, mittens, and even the small coats worn by the younger children. We used to dress up in my mother's old silks, which were so heavy they could stand alone. One dress from my mother's trousseau was garnet colored with shiny garnet bugles and beads over the bodice. Another dress was black with beaded designs on the bodice and around the lower part of the skirt. And there was my mother's wedding dress, a sapphire blue gown with a bonnet of the same color lined with white and with pink and blue tiny ostrich feathers on the top. Brides didn't wear white wedding dresses in those days. There were also barrels of red and yellow apples and large bags of various kinds of nuts."
On the social scene, Hazel recounts, "When my three eldest sisters entertained one evening with a fourth young lady who was visiting us, sixteen young men arrived. My sisters had a whist party to keep things calm."
Moses Perry Johnson's Timeline
March 2, 1854
October 19, 1877
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
June 21, 1880
Hubbardston, Worcester, MA, USA
December 21, 1888
Missouri, United States
October 12, 1890
St Louis, Missouri, United States