Her long life was filled with many interesting events and memories of her childhood, when the West Creek area was in the same untamed condition as the Native Americans knew it. She remembered being carried across the creek on her father's back and handing him tools as he worked as a carpenter on the West Creek Methodist Church in 1843.
Some decades ago her daughter, Alice Scritchfield, wrote the following: "This blue-eyed little girl grew up to love all of the beautiful wild life of the prairie, gathered fruits and nuts, and broke open the rosin- weed stalks to gather her own "chewing gum." She went out on the unfenced prairie and through the woods to bring the cows, which she found by listening to the old cow bell. When her father broke sod, he held the plow while she carried the goad [a sharp pointed stick used in driving oxen] and drove the oxen. She was also adept at handling the horses."
When her father, Lt. Henry Dodge, went off to battle in the Mexican War in 1846, Paul Dodge, her grandfather, was often her companion, and Cynthia had many pleasant memories of their happy time together. The pair would crawl behind the bushes to watch hundreds of cranes at play, and the old gentleman told her that she would see the day that corn would be growing in that swamp covered by those large birds.
As she was growing up, Cynthia often helped Mrs. Wellington A. Clark with her children and other household chores. She attended Mr. Townley's school for girls and the West Creek Presbyterian Church.
At the age of 18, on October 22, 1856, Cynthia Dodge and pioneer Joshua Parker Spalding were married by Justice of the Peace J.J. Michael. After a large celebration, their honeymoon was a trip on a lumber wagon to take some relatives to the train at Miller Station near Gary.
The Pinkerton family arrived late in the fall with no time to build a cabin, so like most pioneers who looked after their neighbors, Joshua and Cynthia offered one of their two rooms to the newcomers for the winter.
On August 12, 1862, Joshua marched off with the Union Army, specifically the Ind. Vol. Infantry, leaving his wife with three small children and a farm to manage. During those three lonesome years, Cynthia stayed on the farm and, with the help of her good neighbors, the land was farmed and she was able to get her produce to market.
She was fortunate to have Martha Burnham, a school teacher, to stay with her, providing companionship and a lasting friendship. Cynthia also knit and sewed and did many other chores to care for the necessities of her family.
From her obituary: "Mrs. Spalding bore the fears and burdens of a soldier's wife caring for her three children while her husband fought in the army to preserve the Union. In her veins flowed the blood of a patriotic militant spirit."
When Joshua returned safely from the war, Cynthia worked along-side her husband to regain the loss of his three-year absence. Just a few years later (1869), the pair decided to sell their farm near the state line and bought the Farley farm near the "Torrey" bridge over West Creek, west of the Lake Prairie Church. Their new place had a large cranberry bog.
Soon after they moved, Cynthia was busy helping Joshua in the West Creek Post Office at their farm home. He was appointed postmaster on March 3, 1869, by John A. Creswell, then Postmaster General of the United States, the paper signed by Schuyler Colfax, Vice President of the U.S.
The mail was carried by stage coach between Momence, Illinois, and Valparaiso by way of Crown Point. John Wilkinson, son of West Creek pioneer Robert Wilkinson, was one of the drivers. The stage driver and passengers often enjoyed a fine farm meal at the Spalding home.
The Spaldings sold their West Creek farm in 1882 and bought the large "Harris place" at Orchard Grove, east of Lowell. Here they finished raising their seven children and several nieces and nephews, and took good care of her mother.
The Spaldings lost one child as a baby, and the other seven were: Milo; Mary (Albert) Thompson; Levi; Henry, who married Jenny Foster; Alice (Cassius) Scritchfield; Helen (Louis) Willing; and Isabel (Fred S.) Miller.
The Spalding family history was found in an old ledger-style scrap book filled with page after page of clippings about the family as well as their neighbors and friends. A note on one of the first pages: "Presented to Joshua P. Spalding, Dec. 26, 1890, by Mary and Albert Thompson." The note was written in the old book by daughter Mary in 1922.
Also featured in the old book were two original copies of Mr. Spalding's appointment as postmaster of West Creek.
In about 1909 Joshua and Cynthia retired from farming at their Orchard Grove farm and moved into a comfortable home on Burnham Street in Lowell. A large article in The Lowell Tribune told about their 60th wedding anniversary on October 22, 1916. At that time they were the oldest married couple in Lake County, and Cynthia wore the same jeweled pin that she wore on their wedding day.
Joshua passed away in 1921 at the age of 87. Pioneer Cynthia Dodge Spalding died in 1926 at almost 88 years of age and was buried in Lowell Cemetery beside her husband.
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