A paper written by Mrs. George Irwin and read by Edith Irwin at
the first reunion of the Irwin families at William Rices,
Niles, Michigan April 15, 1899.
When first the proposition was made to me.
There should be a reunion of this, our family.
I wondered how many of them would come together.
To once more look, each into the face of the other.
Again I wondered, who of them at our meeting
Would with pleasant words of cherry greeting
Attest to the welcome, by voice, our hearts freely give
To each, and from the other receive.
With these thoughts continally filling my mind:
I sat myself down, fully determined to find
What I could, and give somewhat of a history
Of some early events, as they were told to me.
Sixty years and more have come and gone with rapid stride
Since two brothers, with families, living side by side.
In peace and harmony, in the old Empire State,
After pondering long, decided to pack their goods and a journey
So, filling their wagons full of commodities.
Consisting of valuables, necessities and odditites,
And with their mother, their wives and children fifteen
Started for a land they never had seen.
Turning their faces westward, their journey begun.
As many a family before them had done.
They plodded along over lakes, rivers and rills;
Many wearisome days, through pleasant valleys, again over
After traveling one month, I am pleased to relate
They halted at a lovely place in Indiana State.
Here said they: 'on this beautiful shore
God has showered his bounties, we'll wander no more.'
But make this pleasant plain for the present our home.
Here 'mid scenes enchanting our children shall roam.
So from their wagons they hastily climbed down,
And located for a season in the Elkhart town.
I would some fairy with a sweep of her magic wand
Might had power to bestow on the lonely band,
The blessing of life, health, peace and prosperity, but alas!
If these ever were promised, they came not to pass.
For anon disease came, with its ague and pain;
Until one after another, again and again,
Lay tossing and moaning with the fever that raged,
'Till death for his victim claimed the mother so aged.
Five years in that region they peacefully tarried
But ere that, the eldest a daughter was wooed and married
Suffice to relate notwithstanding with their trials there came
And to their number were added one girl and two boys.
The children have grown, some women some men;
When the elder brother fully decided to start out again,
Leaving the younger brother behind, and went north a little
Secured a farm and by chopping and clearing home making began.
This is the branch of the old stalk, to us most preciously
These are the scions of that old stalk, who have assembled
Children again, don't you see their heads are all white?
Our days of labor almost gone, then cometh the night.
When we shall lie down, our work all done:
Lie down to sleep as father, mother and sister have gone.
Excuse me: I meant not to take up this refrain---
If we walk in the light, in the morning shall we meet them
Where is this family with the children many or few?
They have all married as most families generaly do.
And have children and grandchildren far and near;
How we would rejoice could we have met them all here.
The first four to leave the home fireside, married,
And for many years near the old homestead tarried.
And oft times coming back with right good cheer.
Made the house ring with merry laughter loud and clear.
Elizabeth, the first to launch her boat on the waters wide.
Went east one Autumn day with her husband at her side;
Made there their home, and had children grown to number four.
One in early manhood died, and another, an infant, will she
meet on the other shore.
How strange, when once broken has become the chain,
Link after link drops out till only a few remain.
So these family links are scattered nearly from sea to sea.
One only now remaining near the old roof tree.
Abigail the first born, twice married and widowed was blessed
With eight children, three in infancy passed into unbroken
Not knowing the sorrows and disappointments of life their
mother passed through;
Neither walking the thorn way of the cross, for the crown as we
Two have followed the path towards the setting sun,
And ceased not their wanderings 'til they reached Oregon;
With its on rushing, roaring rivers, and mountains wild,
Which offered homes 'midst scenes majestic to nature's child.
There under the shadow of the bold mountain peaks,
In the silent city of the dead, Sally quietly sleeps.
While Margaret a widow ever with sad longing eyes,
Looks out toward where in death her husband now lies.
Jane going to the southland very soon found
A beautiful country, which betokened prosperity all round.
Our Father in Heaven looked down from above
And smiled on them, while he poured out showers of love.
With her four daughters in Kansas they dwell.
We read in the word 'she that marries doeth well:'
So those four daughters each have brought by law a son.
Of grandchildren many, of great-grand children one.
William loved the broad rolling prairies of Illinois.
Where he set his stakes and with his two girls and three boys
Has enjoyed innumerable blessings; their hearts too have bled.
Proving, each rose has its thorn, as has often been said.
Emma looked away towards where the orb of day
Begins his day's work: and traveled that way
As far as her sisters home, and concluded 'twould be good.
There to build her a nest and provide for her brood.
In early prime, of her husband bereft.
With three small children to guide was left.
She has guided them well to which all will agree:
Her eldest among us to day as state representative we see.
Thus each choosing for himself, one after another,
Went away till the last to leave familiar scenes was brother
John; and seventeen years have flown since he went away,
Until his form is bent, his eyes dim and his locks have turned
Reappearing among us today, old memories bring
Thoughts of by gone days; when we were young, and how much
About the shuttle of life, ever so swiftly flying;
Many of our friends among the dead and we among the dying.
Even the youngest and most tenderly guarded of all
The family, submitted and went out at the evening's call.
Although we may plan and boast of tomorrow, in this cantage.
Over the poor honest outcast in that warfare, we have no
The youngest son unlike the prodigal remianed with father and
Loving the familiar scenes of his cildhood coveting no other.
Contented among his old friends, would still be abiding,
Were his brothers, sisters and children ever beside him.
The pleasures of this day inspire a deeper longing
For that bright glorous day, for the dawning
Of which, our hearts cry out over and over again.
Come! thou bright morning, come celestial day,
Break forth in thy glory, we watch for one ray;
That betokens thy coming to reign.
When we never more shall know parting or pain.