Elam Spencer Barstow
by Maitland D. Barstow
Elam Spencer Barstow was born in Guilford which is not far from Oxford, Chenango County, N.Y.
He was about 5 ft.11 inches in height, very muscular, and always stood very straight; he never grew fleshy or corpulent.
He had a large head (7 1/2 hat I think) high broad forehead, large Roman nose, well shaped mouth and fine teeth. His hair was dark brown; his eyes were large, dark blue and expressive.
He wore a full beard all the time I ever knew him, to cover the disfigurement of a bad goiter. This goiter incapacitated him for service in the Civil War, and was the ultimate cause of his death at the age of 78 I believe.
He had a fine mind, but handicapped by lack of education and a natural diffidence or lack of self-confidence. To him there was always a lion in the path ahead. This state of mind no doubt in part arose from the effect of the goiter on his nervous system. In that respect he was never well while I knew him He was inclined to be impatient and irritable, probably from the same cause.
He was a very fine carpenter and "joiner." That term has gone out of date long ago. In other words he was a fine mechanic, following his trade of building houses and barns in the summer time, and making fine "cutters" (ornamental sleighs) in the winter time.
He had a fine sense of melody and a fine voice which would have been worth money if it had been cultivated. It often happened that when neighbors were congregated together for any purpose and they had a resting spell, they would call on Elam to whistle for them. I remember many times, when I was a little boy, his taking me in his arms and singing me to sleep, and if my memory is good, he had a magnificent voice.
His judgment on distances, dimensions, weight, height and depth, was almost perfect and his judgment on a horse was almost infallible. He was a good deal of a horse-trader and horse-trainer; used to like to break colts to harness; and when he broke a horse the horse was like a trained soldier in the regular army; he knew what a word meant and responded instantly.
Father was so constituted that he would never make or lay up money or property. He didn't seem to know the value of it except when he wanted to spend it; and as I have said before, all our family -- grandfather himself and his boys -- never seemed to have any ambition to do anything but live easily from day to day and be honest and sociable and neighborly. They all had -- and father with the rest -- a natural talent for repartee and invective -- not the harsh and brutal invective -- but keen and cutting. In other words they were inclined to be witty. The people of the whole country thereabouts used to often tell what George Barstow said about this, that or the other. Uncle George was the most quoted.
In looking up, or attempting to look up the genealogy of my grandmother Barstow, who was a Butts, I was told that the Buttses had a strain of Indian blood in their veins. Perhaps that accounts for the indifference to money which our breed has always shown.
I can think of nothing else now of interest.
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