Anecdotes
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Anecdotes

Documented below are stories we have heard or seen about some of our Doak Ancestors. Some are factual and some are just interesting bits of fancy. Hope you enjoy them.  If YOU have any stories to tell, please E-Mail to your Web Master host at  doak@doak.ws

This bit of news was reported in the Stanstead Journal in 1897. It was reported that Walter Doak (probably Harrison Walter Doak b. 1863 at Compton) sold his celebrated stallion "Le Capitaine" at auction. He was going to go to the Sandwich Islands where his brother (probably Arthur Burton Doak b. 1860) was living. Unless there are TWO sets of Sandwich Islands, Walter was talking about the Hawaiian Islands.  What a trip that must have been! He probably would have taken a train across the Continent and then by ship to Hawaii.  Steam Powered ships were in use by 1897.  The Eastern Townships of Canada were renown for their championship cattle and horses. The English paid very high prices for these animals and there were actually not enough livestock to satisfy the demand. It is not surprising that Walter would sell his assets and leave the area. Many farms were being sold to French Canadians at high prices. The English speaking inhabitants were almost entirely gone from the area by 1907.

This delightful story was reported in the Stanstead Journal dated March 24, 1897.  "Mr. Doak came to the village with a team and took a load of pupils of the middle school to his sugar bush. Twenty eight went in all: when they came back at night, they reported Mr. and Mrs. Doak 'just first Class' saying that they gave them all the sugar that they could possibly eat, with permission to carry more home and in the evening a most bountiful supper".  The "Sugar Bush" being referenced here was probably on the Oliver Doak farm. Oliver had died in 1893 and his oldest son Willis Herbert, would probably have inherited the farm. He had married Mary Louise Fields so it was probably Willis and Mary that are the "Mr. and Mrs. Doak" that were so generous with the Sugar and the "bountiful" supper. Some day some wonderful person will find the Land Records for the Doak farms in the 1800's so we will know for sure, who owned what on what date.

Note as of 6/20/02. There were at least TWO Doak farms in the area. The original farm was "The Hermitage" and owned by Robert Doak. He died in 1859 and left it to his son James who died in 1891. The eldest son would have been Algernon Sidney who was lame and did not want to farm. He went to Grand Rapids and was a Salesman. Robert William was the next in line to inherit and probably did so after his mother died in 1892. So it could have been him and his wife Eliza Rebecca that were the good Samaritans in this article.

This little story and others to follow later on in time is from the recollections of John Reginald Doak Jr. and his early years in Keene, N.H. during the 1930's and '40's.

This story is about a wonderful lady, we all called "Aunt Violet". She was not a Doak, but was as close to the hearts of us Doaks as anyone could get. There are a number of stories that involve her, but because she is not a Doak I have to preface the story I have with an explanation of why she happened to be in our lives.

There is a "Little Doak Homestead" in Keene, N.H. The home built in 1895 was purchased in 1908 by Robert William Doak, after he left Compton, Quebec with his family.  Robert immediately built a little Grocery store as an addition to the house and the little grocery store provided income for the family for 43 years until it closed in 1950. In addition to his own fully grown children, he brought with him an infant male child and his  23 year old niece,  (from his wife Eliza's side) to board with them. In return for her room and board, the niece would raise the baby, clean the house, help run the store and tend to the Garden. She did this for the rest of her life, dying as a Spinster in 1957 at age 73. Her name was Amy Violet Tisdale. The infant baby she helped raise was my father, John Reginald Doak.

"Aunt Violet" was very religious and a member of the First Baptist Church in Keene. Everything she did in life was guided by her Faith. She was very kind and gentle and hard working and completely unselfish. Her view of life and and her expectations of others was always colored by these character traits. She found it hard to believe that there were folks out there that did not believe as she did. As a very young child I would be left with "Aunt Violet" whenever my parents needed to "get away" for a while. I was there often and sometimes for months at a time from the time I was a baby up until I was 8 years old. These stays with "Aunt Violet" were some of the happiest times of my life.

One story I remember in particular was the day in 1937 that a Salesman came into the little Grocery Store and started to give Aunt Violet a sales pitch on the particular brand of cigarettes he was selling. Now this was a VERY traumatic moment for Violet as she knew that God did not approve of smoking. In fact, when the Coke man came in one day to persuade her to sell Coke in the store, Violet had to call her Pastor to make sure that God approved of Coke. HE Did. So she started carrying Coke. But back to the Cigarette man -- Violet reacted as she always did under stress, she reached up to a shelf and took down her dog-eared copy of the Holy Bible and proceeded to read to him all those passages that she felt made the case that he was in a bad business and should repent.  The Salesman, like most Salesmen, was a brassy sort, and after a few minutes, he thanked her and threw a sample box of cigarettes on the counter and skedaddled out of the store.  Well you can hardly imagine the squeals of protestation that came from poor old Aunt Violet. She went on at some length observing that no one would be so cruel as to flaunt the Will of God by exposing her to some actual cigarettes. The box must surely be empty!!  So off goes Aunt Violet, with me trailing enthusiastically behind, to find something with which she could handle the box of cigarettes. Then back we went to the stove, carrying a set of long tongs. She picked up the box with the tongs and carrying it at arms length, with her nose all wrinkled up, she marched to the kitchen and took off the grate cover on the wood burning stove. There was a merry fire burning and into the fire went the cigarette box. With a "clank" she put the cover back on. There were some quick prayers and finally a conclusion that the box really was empty and did not contain cigarettes. So back to the stove we went to take a look. Off came the grate cover, and standing on tippy toe, I peered into the fire with her. Sure enough, there WERE cigarettes in there, burning away with their distinctive odor. Back went the Grate cover and we prayed to God that HE save the soul of that cigarette man and his evil product. From my viewpoint as a child, Aunt Violet could always be counted on for doing something interesting!! I am sure that poor cigarette salesman had a story for HIS family that night, too.

Speaking of the wood burning stove in the kitchen. This stove was probably the pride of the house when it was first purchased. It must have ranked right alongside the black solid slate sink that served the kitchen so well for so many years. It was a huge black iron stove with Victorian iron legs and was the newest thing (in 1908). It was a Combo stove, in that one could burn wood to heat the kitchen or cook food, or if out of wood, one could light the gas burners to do the cooking. It was always so exciting when Aunt Violet decided to use the gas. I used to love to see her do it.  Aunt Violet was of the old school. She had always used wood stoves and they could be relied on to do the job. This new Gas burner stuff was just too complicated to bother with. Lighting one of the old gas burners required a certain manual dexterity and a sense of timing. One had to turn on the Gas, strike the match, and then apply the lighted match to the Gas burner at just the right time to complete a smooth operation. Violet had none of the skills required. She had rather severe arthritis in her hands and I doubt that a sense of timing was a skill that she EVER possessed. So it was with a great sense of youthful anticipation that I followed her efforts to light the  old gas burners.  The process always started with lots of verbal expressions about how she hated that old gas stove. She just couldn't understand why they had to be so troublesome. But at the same time she would go to the cupboard and get out the box of wood matches and take them to the stove. Then she would turn on the gas and I could hear it hissing away as she groped for the match and tried to strike it. Sometimes she would try two or three times, breaking the matches or failing to get them burning. Usually she would turn off the gas after two tries, and the try again later. But almost always, when she finally got the match going, the gas had been on too long and when the match was applied there was a great flash of fire and a giant "Whoosh" followed by poor Aunt Violet jumping back with flailing arms and many "Oh My's" to help relieve the stress of the effort. To me, as an 6 year old, it was VERY exciting - almost like the fireworks on the 4th of July.

jrd 2002

This story is taken from a delightful narrative written by James Henry Doak b. 1874 for his Grandson in 1955. It is called "Reminiscences of a Great Grandfather". This story is interesting because it so vividly describes what it was like to be a boy in Canada in the late 1800's. We are grateful to Grant Doak of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada for making this document available to us.

"The first fixed date I can recall was when I asked my mother what year it was, and she replied "Remember this -- 2 ones and 2 eights" -- and I turned and wrote on the wallpaper "1881". My early years were lived in a period when life was rather crude, especially in the small towns and villages, where streets were only dirt roads, and sidewalks were made of two-inch planks, or usually two parallel planks with the center filled in with gravel. In the Spring the streets were inches deep in mud, mixed with horse manure from the winter's accumulation, as all driving and hauling was done with horses, and the odd ox team. the majority of the buildings were of wood, there were no sewers, telephones, electric lights, and only the rich had bathrooms, and except in the cities, flush toilets were unknown. Some of the better houses had a 'built-in' privy, but the majority had an 'out-house' placed at a reasonable distance from the dwelling, and their use in Winter was an uncomfortable experience, especially when the temperature was below zero and a wind. These places were cleaned out once or twice a year, depending on the size of the family, and the work was done by a regular 'professional' whose charges amounted to 50 cents to $1.50 depending on the size of the job.  Except on moonlight nights, it was very dark in villages and towns, as there were no street-lights except a few extra large lanterns set up on ten foot poles at some of the more important street corners, and if one lived near the centre of the town, the footsteps of the old 'lamp-lighter' could be heard in the evening on his way from post to post. These were painted red as were the lanterns, and only enough oil was used to last over night for economy."

His comments on Transportation are interesting. Here are a couple:

"In those days, many people who could afford the luxury, kept a driving horse or two, the richer class rode in phaetons, middle class in 'top-buggies' and the poorest in buckboards. Perhaps the handsomest steeds were the matched pair of "jet-blacks" that were used by undertakers for funerals and for "show-offs" on Sundays and holidays. In those days the undertaking business was not the "racket" it is today, for most of them had to make a living with a sideline of some description, usually furniture. In the 80's and the "gay 90's" the cost of funerals ranged from $25 up, and one costing $100/150 was about the top price in the country towns and villages. One of the greatest handicaps in the period was the poor roads everywhere in the country. As soon as the Spring thaws began, the roads became quagmires in many places, and some spots were impassable. During a month or more traveling by team was often dangerous, if not impossible. At the best of times the roads were rough stony, or muddy, depending on the type of country traversed, plus weather conditions. In mid-summer roads became very dusty, and the driver with the fastest horse was the only one to escape riding along in a cloud of choking dust, except when a cross wind afforded some relief to the sufferer."

The Wonderful Story of "Ocean Mary".

This story, while not directly concerning a Doak family, is closely connected to our early Doaks of Londonderry, N.H. of 1720.  When the Eayers Range was laid out, there was a 60 acre plot laid out to James Wilson1 on Oct 1, 1720.  He died soon after arrival in America and the plot was re-allocated as follows:  1/2 to John McClurg, 1/4 to Elizabeth Wilson and 1/4 to her daughter Mary Wilson.  There has been speculation amongst some Doak researchers over the years that it was THIS Mary Wilson that married John Doak at Tinkling Springs, Va. in 1742.  We now know that she would have been too old to have born all of John's children starting in 1742.  The following story would seem to fit the names on the plot of land at Londonderry in 1720 and also puts to rest that theory THIS Mary Wilson was the future wife of John Doak of Tinkling Springs.  Read now and enjoy this marvelous story.

The Story of "Ocean Mary"  (from an un-named newspaper of the 1800's)

It was years and years ago that this baby mascot of the sea won a pirate's heart.

Previous to 1720, the year in which the principal events of this narrative occurred, many families of Scotch peasantry crossed the North channel and found, for a time, homes in the larger towns on or near the coast of Ireland.  Thus Londonderry (Ireland) became the residence of a large number of Scotch yeomanry.  In those old times of slow ships and many perils of the sea it was a far cry from Londonderry in Ireland to Londonderry in the Granite state; still Scotland and the Emerald Isle had already sent sturdy pioneers to the new world on the Merrimack.

Tradition, often the truer part of history has failed to save from oblivion the name of the ship which sailed from Londonderry for Boston in July, 1720, but she is said to have been in many respects vastly superior to others of her class in those times. At any rate long before she dropped anchor off the picturesque coast many well-to-do families had prepared for the long voyage.  Of those who from the deck of the departing ship watched the green shores of Ireland fade from view a large proportion were not only strong of limb, but thrifty and provident.

Out through Lough Foye, past Inishowen Head and far beyond Giant's Causeway, with favoring winds, sailed the fated ship. Among the passengers were James Wilson and his young wife.  A year before, Wilson married Elizabeth Fulton, and they were now on their way to Londonderry. N H, where land had been laid out1 to James Wilson as one of the grantees of that town. In the small valley settlement to which Wilson and his wife were traveling were friends under whose hands profitable harvests were sure, and a generation was springing up whose influence was to be felt long years after.

Concerning the earlier part or the voyage of the emigrant ship, tradition is nearly silent, although certain fragmentary accounts hint of a protracted calm and following storm of such violence that the vessel was driven from her course.  However that may be, it is reasonably certain that the passage was about one-third accomplished when events transpired that, made the voyage memorable in the lives of all on board.

One sultry evening the lookout saw on the horizon a sail standing like a gray silhouette against the early rising moon. All through the hot summer night the strange craft wore nearer and nearer. and when morning came her low hull could be seen like a black shadow under her full set of canvas. The pirate was within gunshot of the emigrant ship.

To fight or run away was not to be thought of.  The slow ship had not a dozen muskets.  They simply waited. They had not long to wait, for boats were soon alongside, and swarming upon the deck, the robbers fell to work as men who knew how to plunder and kill.  Crew and passengers were bound, and some were left lying where they were captured, and some were rolled into corners just as suited a momentary freak of the Invaders.  None were killed.  Valuables were gathered into parcels convenient to be transferred to the pirate ship.  The robber captain going below to search the officer’s quarter’s threw open the after-cabin door with a rough hand but seeing a woman lying in the berth, stopped. "Why are you there?" demanded the ruffian. "See." The terrified woman uncovered a baby's face. Then the pirate drew near.

"Is it a boy or a girl?"

"A girl."

"Have you named her?"

"No."

The pirate went to the cabin door and commanded that no man stir until further orders. Then, returning, he went close to the berth where the woman lay and said gently,

"If I may name that baby, that little girl, I will unbind your men and leave your ship unharmed: may I name the girl?"

"Yes."

Then the rough old robber came nearer still and took up the tiny, unresisting hand of the baby. "Mary," was the name the woman heard him speak. There were other words spoken so low she could not hear. Only his Maker and his own heart knew; but when the child drew its hand away the mother saw a tear on the pink fingers. There have been other knights than Bayard.  Here was one.

As good as his word, the pirate captain ordered all captives unbound, and goods and valuables restored to the places from which they had been taken; then with his crew he left the ship and pulled to his own vessel.  But the emigrant ship had scarcely got under way when a new alarm came to them. The pirate was returning.

If they were dismayed at his re-appearance they were surprised to see him come on board alone and go directly below to the cabin. There he took from a parcel a piece of brocaded silk of marvelous fineness of texture and beauty of design. Seen at a little distance the effect of the pattern is as of a plaid combining in wonderfully harmonized tones, nameless hues of red and green softened with lines of what evidently was once white. Time has, perhaps, somewhat mellowed its color tone, but the richness of it’s quality is as the richness of pearls.

"Let Mary wear this on her wedding day," the pirate said, as he lay the silk on the berth.

The pirate left the ship and was seen no more.  In the fullness of time the emigrant ship reached Boston without further incident.  There James Wilson died soon after landing. Elizabeth Wilson, with Mary, soon after went to live in Londonderry where friends were waiting for them.  Here the widow married James Clark, great-great-grandparent of Horace Greeley.

For years the people of the little hamlet religiously kept July 28 in thanksgiving for the deliverance of their friends from the hands of pirates.

Some time early in the year 1732 Thos. Wallace emigrated to America and settled In Londonderry, where on Dec 18 of the same year he was married to Ocean Mary by Rev Mr Davidson of that town. Her wedding gown was the pirate's silk. A granddaughter and a great-granddaughter have also worn the same dress on like occasions.

Four sons were born to Mary Wallace, three of whom removed to Henniker.  There, on a sightly hill, Robert built the house which in his day was far and away the grandest mansion in all the country around. He was a man of large hospitality and intelligent strength of character.

Here Ocean Mary lived many years, and died in 1814 at the age of 94. Her grave is in the Center burying ground about half-way down the middle walk. a bowshot distant from the railroad station. The curious visitor may if he choose read the inscription on the slate:

"In Memory of Widow Mary Wallace,  who died Feb'y 13, A. D., 1814, in the 94th year of her age."

The likeness tradition has left of Ocean Mary is that of a woman symmetrically tall. with light hair. blue eyes and florid complexion. together with a touch of the aristocracy of nature and a fine repose of manner In her energetic determined and kindly ways. The house is four miles from Henniker village and about the same distance from Hillsboro. The visitor, if he have an eye for the picturesque. though he regret the decay that has overtaken the old manse, can but be charmed by the beauty of the landscape in the midst of which it is set.

     
 

 
     
     

We love this story!!  The one discrepancy is that it indicates that Mary Wilson married Thomas Wallace in 1732 when she was only 12 years old. Seems very unlikely, but who knows for sure. It could be that Thomas Wallace did not arrive until 1742.