The Demijohn

A demijohn is a glass vessel with a large body and small neck, enclosed in wickerwork, and used in homebrewing to make wine or beer.

A demijohn is a glass vessel with a large body and small neck, enclosed in wickerwork, and used in homebrewing to make wine or beer.

Letter from Harry Rising to Annie Rising Linebaugh (his sister), 1964 

It was brought to this country from Scotland. The man that brought it married our Grandmother Whitcomb’s aunt Sofia. That was before the Civil War. He evidently came from a good family but he didn’t know how to work, couldn’t make a go of it. He went into the army and never came back. They think he just dropped out of their lives because he couldn’t make a living.

I asked for the Demijohn when I was young and was promised it when I grew up. Great Grandfather Whitcomb Sr. was pretty much of a recluse. He didn’t like to be around a lot of people.

During the Civil War he hired someone to take his place — that could be done at that time. Grandfather Richards married into the family and headed the clan. I met an old blind man in Manchester, Iowa, that knew him. Everyone said he was a wonderful man. Grandmother Whitcomb was a Hastings.

There was also the Chippeys, not to be confused with chippie — a bad girl. I think Grandfather Richards married our Grandfather W’s mother. Grandfather used to braid or weave some kind of elastic webbing in his home to make money to supplement what he raised on his land for food.

Four old people lived together. Our Grandparents, Great Grandparents Richard. Grandmother Whitcomb was the only one left of the four, a flu epidemic took the others. That was the winter of 1891 and 92. All three died in a very short period of time. Another thing Grandfather did was dig gingshang [sic] found in the woods. The root was used for medicine — $1.00 a lb. You are the older of our family tree. The oldest I know of is Rachel Whitcomb. She was 84 years 7 months. I think she was a Great Great Grandmother. I am the oldest of the men by 20 years on both sides of the family.

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