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My niece Janet suggests that I write the memories of my youth. It will not be an exciting or adventurous story. The older children of our family could have told more stirring tales, for they lived through the Civil War, and the momentous days of the Battle of Gettysburg.

I came along towards the close of 1864 when hoopskirts had passed their greatest rotundity, and pantalettes were on the wane. I remember seeing my sister Maggie, in embroidered pantalettes, but I never wore them. I did have a hoopskirt. It was bought by my sister Jennie, somewhat against my mother’s will. It was to be worn under a very pretty apricot “wool delaine,” one of the few dresses bought directly for me; for most of my frocks were hand-me-downs from my older sisters. In those days cloth was made to last. One of mother’s wedding dresses was a striped gold and brown changeable taffeta. Doubtless mother wore it for two or three years, then it was remade for Maggie in turn. I had an enduring hate for these made over frocks, and was glad that by the time Maggie was through with the silk dress, it was too far gone to be remade for me. My dislike for my older sister’s clothes was a needless self-torture, for both mother and sister Jennie were exquisite needlewomen; they knew how to fashion very nice garments; and while the material might be long in the public eye, it was always good in quality, and made up according to the mode. [excerpt]