Return to "My Cooper Legacy"

Our Wedding Day

Telitha Elizabeth Pattison

    When Telitha was born, she was given the full name of Martha Anna Telitha Elizabeth Pattison.
    Her family called her "Honey" when she was a little girl. When she became a big girl they called her "Lizzie" and so will the stories that take place in Florida.When she and her family moved to Arizona, she chose to be called "Telitha" and that is what she will be called in the stories that take place in Arizona. Telitha is pronounced like "tell-eye-tha".
     Because of all the persecution and troubles she experienced in Florida, she felt that moving West to be among the Latter-Day Saints would be a new life, and she felt to change her name to Telitha as a symbol of a new beginning
     She is listed as Martha A. Patterson on the census records taken when she was a child.
     When she was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, she is listed as Telitha Elizabeth Pattison Cooper.
The New Baby
Story, by Nellie N. Olsen Ostler
    "Come help. Ma sick. She cry." Dennis, although only three and a half years old, had run to the closest house on the plantation crying.
    The Pattison house was in an uproar
   "Mary!" the neighbor called to her older daughter. "You run over fast and see to the children. I'm coming right behind you. Tommy, you run over and fetch Ma Davis. Tell her to hurry, Emily needs her."
   Mary ran to the Pattison house as fast as she could. "Ma's comin', don't you worry none. l'll play with the little ones", she announced as she scurried into the Pattison home. Mary picked up little Emily and tried to coax Dennis to come outside to play with her. Dennis was reluctant about leaving the house. He frowned. His mother was sick. He wanted to be with her.
  The new baby wasn't expected to be born until sometime in October. Other women from the plantation gathered to help as they could.Ma Davis, the midwife shook her head. Everyone was very sad, and they also shook their heads and whispered to each other as they helped.
  "Yep. Emily's baby came too soon. It sure was a pitiful little thing."
  No one had much hope that the little girl would live. July 9th was at least three months too early. Premature babies didn't usually live very long.
   What a pity.
   Davis lovingly picked up this pitifully little baby and cuddled her. The baby was breathing. She stood rocking this little girl for a few minutes, watching her. Her color was good, but this one was the tiniest baby she'd ever held. She took a deep breath and tucked a blanket around this tiny one and handed her to one of the women.
   Then she turned her attention to Emily, who needed her more than the baby did at this moment. Emily was very sick and weak, but determined. She insisted that this precious little girl would live. She'd see to it.
   The women found the baby clothes laid aside for this little one. While they dressed the baby, one of the women ran to borrow a scale. By the time Ma Davis and taken care of Emily, the baby was dressed and ready to be weighed. In those days, a baby was always fully dressed in a dress and petticoats before they were weighted. Baby boys were always put into dresses, and wore dresses until they could walk and run.
   Three pounds! That was all. Had anyone ever held that small a baby before?
   All the women agreed that none of them could even remember hearing about a baby that small.
   Soon the yard was full of little children, looking for their mothers. Reluctantly the women gathered up their children and returned home.

What Will We Do With Her?
   When Billy heard that Emily's baby had arrived, he galloped to the house as fast as the horse would go. Ma Davis met him at the door, still cuddling the tiny baby. He rushed over to Emily, sitting carefully on the bed by her. After he had talked to her and reassured her that all would be well, Ma Davis brought the tiny little girl for him to see.
   "My, she is a little-un", he said over and over as he gazed at her. He went over to the stand and got a silver dollar out of the drawer· Holding it over her face, he marveled. That silver dollar was only one and one-half inches across, yet it covered this baby's eyes, nose and mouth. Her whole face was hidden by that silver dollar.
    After looking at her for a few more minutes, Billy asked Ma Davis, "Can I hold her for a bit?"
Reluctantly, Ma Davis placed the tiny baby girl in his arms.
    "She is so tiny, where can we put her to keep her safe?" Billy asked Emily as he gently held this new little daughter.

A Shoe Box Bed and Sweet Coffee
   For awhile, the baby slept by her mother. She was so very tiny, Emily was worried that the baby might be hurt if she fell asleep and moved in her sleep and bumped the baby. Something else had to be worked out. Billy and Emily talked about it, and then Billy went over to the wardrobe and took a large shoebox from the bottom. He took out the things he kept in it. Then he lined the shoebox with a soft blanket. "She can sleep in this", he said.
   "And if we open the oven door, we could put the box there to keep her warm" added Emily. So that is what they did.
   The baby was so premature that she didn't know how to suck. What could they do to keep her alive? It was suggested that they could sweeten and dilute some coffee. They found they could get this tiny little one to swallow it a drop at a time. They would put some in a spoon, and drizzle a drop or two between her lips and she would swallow it.
   After she got a little older, they mixed a little milk with the coffee. This kept her alive. Slowly she began to gain a little weight, but she was still very tiny. Emily kept her on a pillow to keep track of her, taking her around the house with her as she worked. So, she was carried around on a pillow like a little princess until she was old enough to wiggle and squirm.
What did they name this little one? They chose the name Telitha Elizabeth Pattison. At first they called her "Honey" but when she got to be a big girl they called her Lizzie, which is a nickname for Elizabeth.
   (It was about 115 years after she was born, when 1 told the story to a friend of mine who was a nurse. She grinned and said, "Of course! The caffeine in the coffee would stimulate her system, keeping the heart and other organs going, the sugar would sustain her, and the oven provided the warmth. It was a perfect set up if you didn't have the hospital and incubator for such a premature baby.")

By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   As a child, I was nicknamed "Honey" by my family. I walked at the age of nine months. One day Mama and Papa went over to Cousin Dick Sermons for a visit. I was playing in the yard and found an old "purer plate". Now, pewter plates were used during the Civil War. After the war was over they did not use them any more; so most people discarded them. They were the size of an ordinary dinner plate. I picked it up and carried it over where the crowd sat talking. It was about all I could do to get it there. I placed it down by my cousin, and sat down in it. He rocked me to sleep by tipping the plate back and forth and I; being tired went to sleep.
   Mama kept this old plate and it is very dear to us. The rim has been wore (sic) and cut off, but the plate still remains. (This story was told way back in 1936, so by now the plate isn't around any more.)
   At the age of four years, I had brain fever. I was very critically ill. At that time there was no electricity nor refrigeration, so there was no ice to cool my fever, so cold water from a well was used to place cold compresses on my head to cool down the fever. Mama said I never was so well after that. She said it made my complexion sallow. Consequently, I was ill a lot as a child and several times they did not think I would live.

Life on a Plantation
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   When I was a little girl, we lived in Georgia. We lived on Barebin Plantation where I was born. Later we moved to Kilemoky Plantation and then we returned to Barebin.
   My father, Robert William Pattison, was a foreman on a cotton plantation, being over a group of Negroes. On these plantations, our family raised all the corn, sweet potatoes and vegetables we needed. We had chicken, geese, duck and made pillows and "feather beds (mattress) from their feathers. We also had turkeys, and cows. The cows furnished our milk, butter and cheese. We raised sugar cane from which we secured syrup.
   My father having a cash income made it possible for us to buy many things from the store.

By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   My schooling started when I was six. At that time we lived on the Kilemoky Cotton Plantation. It seemed a long way to walk to get to the little one room schoolhouse. It was probably only about one half mile. l remember that we walked through the hickory,
sweetgum, blackgum and walnut trees. When we returned to Barebin Plantation we walked to school through the pine trees. I often missed school because I frequently had chills and fever. In school, we studied spelling, writing, arithmetic, and reading. It was quite different from the variety of subjects taught in the schools today.
   At noon hour on school days, a great play was to all get together and go down on Spruce Pond. Someone would be the preacher and preach a sermon. Then we would sing religious songs. Several would be converted and a baptismal would follow.
   The mode of "baptism" was that two or three would grab hold of the feet of the one to be "baptized" and duck their heads into the pond. We must not get our clothes wet, of course. My sister Mary called this mockery. At the time, I felt sincere in our play and to me it was not. Another game we played was "Hold Over", throwing a ball over the schoolhouse. We must have had a patient teacher to stand this noise.
   We belonged to the Free Will Baptist Church while we lived in Georgia.

Leaving Georgia
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   When I was about eight years of age, we moved from Georgia to Florida. Some of our friends had gone there and had written to us wanting us to come also.
   When we left Georgia we left everything behind. We only carried our suitcases. Will Wiley, a friend, took us in his big wagon with two mules to pull it. On this trip he gave me one of his friendship cards. As I remember, we traveled all day and stayed that night with Charlie and Emma Simmons. (I believe they were some relation to us.) Then, Will took his wagon and team and returned home.

On A Boat
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   After we rode in the wagon, our family boarded a train and rode until we came to where we could take a boat. The boat was named "The Bird". We went down a river, into the ocean and then back up another river.
   There was a wheel at the rear of the boat.The boat deck where we were had no fence or railing around it, and there was nothing to keep us from stepping right off into the water. We were on the boat for two nights.
   Suddenly, the family realized that nobody knew where Kate (who was the baby) was. The family was frightened. We all were searching for her desperately. I found a big round hole and was sure she had fallen in that hole. When she was found safe, Mama sat me down with the suitcases to take care of Clara and Kate (the two little ones). Then Mama, my Sister Mamie, and Dennis, my brother, went to attend to something. I remember that while sitting there with my little sisters, and a lady dressed so beautiful, came along. I was admiring her and she took a silver dime from her purse and dropped it in my lap. That dime looked like a cart-wheel to me. I kept it for a long time and loved it.
   Before we left home, Mama cooked a lot of tea cakes (cookies). These were my favorite. While on the boat I ate so many of these that it was years before 1 ever wanted another one.

Some Things I Can Remember
As Told in 1932
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   There are many things about the way we used to live that will seem strange to my grandchildren and great grandchildren who live in this day of many inventions. So I would like to tell of a few of these things that I know of.
   I can remember the first match I ever saw. This first match was to me, a miracle. I was accustomed to seeing my father make fire from striking flint and steel together. Many times there were neighbors who would come for a (live) coal to start their fire. We always tried to keep a bed of coals through the night. When they came, of course they were in a hurry to return with the coals so they could have a fire, thus the saying came about when one came and only stayed a minute, "Oh, did you come for a chunk of fire?"
   (When you burn a fire, a "coal" is the very hot piece of either hard wood, or actual coal, that is left after the piece of wood or coal has burned. A "live coal" is still very hot usually hot enough to be red colored (or red-hot) under the gray ashes around it. It was hot enough to start a fire with, if kindling or other very small combustible material is laid against it.).
   I can remember making candles. Later, we had kerosene (or coal oil lamps. They gave much more light to the room.
   I have seen the time when the cotton was raised, picked from the field, then the seed picked out of the cotton bolls, the cotton carded, spun into thread, woven into material, dyed with dye made from herbs gathered from the woods and then fashioned into a pair of pants or a dress. All of this being done without the aid ora sewing machine, or machines of any kind. We made hats from straw and palm leaves. We made flowers from fish scales.
   I can remember the first bicycle I ever saw. And the first phone ! ever saw. I also remember first car 1 ever saw. These were, of course, wonderful things to me.
   Our meat was raised by us, killed, cleaned and cured in a smoke house; where we kept it until we needed a piece of meat.

Leaving Home to Work
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   When I was about nine years old, 1 left home and I went to work for Mrs. Scott. She had three or four boarders. (A boarder is someone who pays you for the use of a bedroom and also for you to fix and serve them lneals. Now, people rarely take in boarders. But back then, especially in the smaller towns, "boarding" was often the only way for a person who didn't want to buy a home to stay in town and work.) Mrs. Scott's way of doing, was to work real hard, then crawl in bed just as her husband comes home. She was not a well woman at all, and I'm sure she did all she was able to do. When her husband came home he called a doctor.
   "You're going to have to go somewhere and get some rest. You can't keep on working so hard." the doctor said to her."Oh, I can't do that." she said.
   "Why not? We can get along with out you." The boarders said. "Why, we can't hardly tell your cooking from this girl's,"
   I know these boarders knew that she did the cooking. They were not being fooled. I only set it on the table. But, my, what a feeling came over me to think I would be left alone to do it all. Of course she did not go. They got a woman to do the work.

Working at a Hotel
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   After that, I worked for Mrs. Simpson at the Hotel. I was chamber maid as well as waited on the tables. There were about sixteen boarders at this hotel. This was back when most buildings had no running water and no inside toilets, so you can see what I had to do. I carried water upstairs for all the baths, and for whatever was needed.
   The hotel had a small store there where I helped sell. The men thought I was so cute and small. They thought I was the best clerk.
Staying With Mrs. Morris
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   I went and cared for mothers and their new babies, l was able to go to school only in between these jobs. The last year I was able to go to school at all was before I worked for Mrs. Morris. Mrs. Morris had lost her husband and I was hired to help her. I stayed with her for five years, from 13 to 18 years old. She was the last woman I worked for before I got married. Mrs. Morris was a woman from Augusta, Maine. I only went home in the summertime when she returned to Maine
   My first job in the morning was to go feed the horses and curry them. [To curry a horse means that you use a "curry comb" which is kind of like a double metal comb with a handle with which you comb the horse's coat, getting any weeds, seeds, burs, etc. that may be caught in the hair of the horse's coat.]
   I gathered the fruit and canned it, making jelly of some. There was just Mrs. Morris and I, and I did the washing and ironing and housecleaning. I can remember the guavas that she had, and it makes my mouth water to think of this good fruit. I cut down the little
oak trees and cut them up for wood. Most of our cooking was done on a kerosene stove and she did most of it.
   Once in a while I would get to go home for a short visit. I made my mother a dress on one of these short visits. It is the dress that she is wearing in the picture we have of her. I made a mistake on it, but Mama would not let me take it out and do it over. I can see now, it was because she knew I would not get it finished for some time as I had so little time at home.

From Grasshoppers to Marriage
By Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   Eli Cooper had been trying to go with me, but I was going with Walter Westbooks.
   Here is a little joke that happened during this time. Eli Franklin Cooper wrote to me to go somewhere with him. I answered him and said I didn't want to go. I then sent the letter to Eli Cooper. His father (Eli Cooper) got it and answered it. He said, "I never ask you to go anywhere with me." Now, he knew the letter was supposed to be for his son.
   One afternoon there was a group of kids in my yard. The boys were catching grasshoppers and poking them down the girls necks to hear them scream. Eli Cooper was there and he started chasing me and teasing me with a grasshopper. Of course, I resisted and ran and hid, and, of course I screamed when he found me. While this was happening, Waiter told my Father if that was the way I was going to act, he was not coming back. With this he got in his buggy and left.
   I have a bracelet and brooch Mr. Cooper gave me while Walter and I were going together. This was given to me as a Christmas gift.
   I know I married the one the Lord wanted me to, for I made it a matter of prayer and I know that God guided me to marry Eli Franklin Cooper.

Wedding Day
Story by Nellie N. Olsen Ostler
   "Oh, dear. I can't find my comb." Lizzie wailed. "Kate, would you ask Mama if I can borrow hers?" Clara came into the room combing her hair. "Is that my comb?" asked Lizzie. "Yes, I just borrowed it a minute."
   Mary brought in the last petticoat for the bride. She had just finished ironing it. Now, everything was laid out on the bed, and it was time to help dress the bride.
   Lizzie went over to the window and took a deep breath. "Oh, Ollie and Mamie, just see what a beautiful morning it is," she said. In fact it was a MOST BEAUTIFUL morning. This was her wedding day, Wednesday, September 14, 1892.
   "We'd better get started, girls" remarked Emily as she came into the already crowded bedroom. "Clara, you go down and see that the chairs are all straight, and then would you pick the roses that we talked about yesterday. Then you and Kate can pick the petals. Kate, would you sweep the porch this one last time? I do want it all to be so nice."
   Emily looked at her beautiful daughter, Lizzie. She looked so happy, but also a bit overwhelmed with all the attention. "Let's get you into the petticoats, and then Mamie and Ollie can help you with your hair."
   Ollie went to the bed and smooth the petticoats that were laid out on the top of it. (A petticoat is called a half-slip now. It is like an under-skirt worn under a dress or skirt). At that time in Florida, it was customary for an older girl to wear many petticoats to prevent seeing the shadow of the body through the dress. Lizzie had the customary or fashionable number of five petticoats.
   Mary picked up the first petticoat to help Lizzie. "No, not that one," said Lizzie. "I want the old petticoat on first. That will be my something old," she explained. It was customary for the brides to carry out the old saying by wearing "Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue".
   The girls laughed. Emily bustled out of the room to check on all the preparations and to help Kate and Clara fix the baskets of rose petals and ribbons.
   After the petticoats were on, Mary helped Lizzie fix her hair. "May I borrow a hairpin from you?" Lizzie asked. "That will be my something borrowed.""And what about my hair?" Mary teased. "Well, I'll just have to let you a borrow one of my hairpins, 1 guess." Laughed Lizzie.
   Lizzie's something blue, would be the fine blue lines in her stockings. Of course, no one would see the stockings, as her wedding dress would cover her feet.
   Mary went over to the door and called downstairs. "Mama, we're ready to have you help us put on her wedding dress." Emily came upstairs. Kate and Clara hurried to be there too. They surely didn't want to miss this.
   Lizzie's dress was a beautiful embroidered white dress. The material in those days was called "fine Swiss."
   "My, you look grand," said Mama, as she stepped back to survey her beautiful daughter, before she hurried back down to the final preparations in the kitchen. "Now, 1 need you girls to hurry into your dresses." she told all four, (Kate, Clara, Ollie and Mamie).
   Lizzie was left in her room to wait. The wedding was to be at eleven o'clock. Soon the families they had invited would be arriving. Lizzie sat on the edge of the chair so as not to wrinkle her skirt.
   When Eli and his family came, Kate very formally took Eli to Lizzie's room to wait for the wedding to begin.
   When Eli was shown in, he looked so handsome. Lizzie felt so proud. Eli sat carefully on the edge of the bed, so as not to wrinkle his pants.
   Just as the clock struck eleven, the door of the bedroom was opened. There stood Lizzie's bridesmaids, her sister Ollie, (Sarah Olivia) and her sister Mamie (Mary). They were wearing their special dresses also. By them stood the best men who were John Stinson (Mamie's husband) and Lizzie's brother, Dennis. Everyone in the room below smiled at this happy occasion.
   Standing behind them were the flower girls, Kate and Clara with their beribboned baskets of rose petals and roses.
   Proudly the two flower girls led the procession down the stairs leaving behind them a path of roses. Next came the best men, both trying to look very solemn. Following them in turn were the pretty bridesmaids. Smiles covered their faces at this happy time.
   Then last, came the radiant bride and handsome groom. Shyly they stole glances at each other as they reached the top of the stairs. Then smiling happily, they walked down the stairs and under an arch of flowers or greenery into the room.

Wedding Festivities
Told by Telitha, the bride
   We were married and congratulated and then of course there was singing and merrymaking. Then came the wedding dinner. And it was a real wedding dinner. Today it would be called a banquet.
   The wedding cake was baked by Mama. It was a white layer cake and she baked the layers in large lard-can lids that would measure sixteen inches across. It was not very high, only about four layers, 1 think.
   The dinner consisted of roast, dressing, three or four vegetables, bread, butter, pickles, catsup, cranberry butter, three or four kinds of pie and several kinds of cake. In fact, there was everything that would go with a banquet of today.
   Right after dinner it rained for awhile, then it cleared off and was beautiful again. In Florida, it clouds up and showers nearly every day and then clears off and is beautiful again, and there is no mud, just sand.

The Chivaree
Told by Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
as remembered in 1932
   That night a large crowd of boys gathered to chivaree us. We were upstairs but they did not know which room, so they went from one window to the next, trying to find us. They had a big circle saw which they carried on a pole which was placed on four boys shoulders. They would hit this saw with hammers in such a way that it played tunes. Three or four of them were playing violins.
   After awhile Mr. Cooper went down and served them lemonade and cake. But they said they would have to see me, so Mr. Cooper came back upstairs and I went down with him. Then the boys played some lovely music and we all sang some songs. They were the popular songs of the day, but I do not remember now just what they were. I have heard too many songs since then to remember. One 1 do remember was "Somebody's tall and handsome, somebody's sweet and true." The chivaree was carried off very orderly and everyone had a grand time.
   Thus the day of September 14, 1892, my wedding day came to an end but the wedding has lasted on within my memory for over forty years· However memory sometimes grows dim and fails to recall all the little details and that is the way mine has done, so the story of my wedding day is as I remember it and I hope I have remembered it right.

The New Family
Told by Telitha E. Pattison Cooper
   Mr. Eli Franklin Cooper had been married before, so when 1 was married, I started life with two boys, James, 9 years old and Thomas, 4 years old. These two boys loved me, for they showed in many ways that they did, and I tried to treat them as I would have treated my very own children. Among my treasures is a note Thomas wrote to me which says:
   "Dear Mama, I love you. Tomy Cooper."
   One day when my husband was not at home the brother of Mr. Cooper's first wife, Callie, came to visit with the boys. When dinner time came, I just fixed a meal with the things 1 had already cooked. When Mr. Murray's boy went home, he told his daddy I didn't fix them anything for dinner. This of course made Mr. Murray feel somewhat concerned to think that his grandchildren were not properly fed. When this thing was brought to my attention, Thomas was hanging onto my skirts and James was right beside me. They told their Grandpa that they always had plenty to eat whether their daddy was home or not. They told that they could eat all they wanted. The look on Mr. Murray's face showed he felt he had done wrong by bringing it up.
   Mr. Cooper, had a farm and made a good living. He also had cattle. There were difficulties though, as he had mortgaged the farm in order to have the money to buy the orange trees.

   A note of explanation about Grandma's use of "Mr." It was the custom of the time and the locality for a woman to call her husband and other male relatives by his title of "Mr." My grandmother, Telitha, always referred to my grandfather as Mr. Cooper in her conversations· To us now, it sounds quaint.
Go to Telitha page 2

A visit with Paula