Typed by Frank Manning.
MRS. LYDIA CRUGER AND MONUMENT PLACE.
The following paper entitled "Shadows of the Past," written by a lady of Wheeling of fine literary ability, we have taken the liberty to incorporate in the present history for preservation:
Five miles east of the city of Wheeling, far apart from its dusty streets, busy thoroughfares, in a beautiful little valley, crowned by the thickly covered hills of West Virginia, is situated the scattered village of Elm Grove. Trailing vines of ivy in loveliest festoons ornament the unpretending cottages, while the artistic decoration of wealth graces the more majestic structures; among which Shepherd Hall is the first in interest for its antiquity, and the circumstances which long years ago surrounded the life of its early mistress.
Monument Place so derived its name from the fact that the first lady of Shepherd Hall, in compliment to her esteemed friend, Henry Clay, erected a memorial whose snowy peak bas glistened in the sunlight of many years, defying the storms, the tempests and the lightning's flash, ? the monument of the Kentucky statesman still stands an honor to his memory. In driving down the National Pike the first view of the old Shepherd Hall, now the country seat of the Loring estate, recalls to our minds that
The grounds about Monument Place are a study in themselves. To the right of the long drive, just a short distance from the entrance gate, the first object which would naturally attract the observation of a stranger is the curious mass of stone erected in monumental form. Yes, as children we had first learned of the illustrious statesman, and the monument standing to-day in honor of Henry Clay was erected in a far off time, the forty-fourth year of American Independence, when the thriving city of Wheeling was an unpretending village and a haunt of the red men. Upon the summit of the patriotic monument the Goddess of Liberty has majestically stood for nearly three-quarters of a century. Beneath it are carved in stone the letters, almost defaced by the imprint of time, though the keen eye can discover its tracks, the lines traced by hands that are cold and silent in death. How strangely the words seem to impress one! With what force the lures come upon us, like an echo from departed days, as we read the strange inscription:
Only a few yards from the monument, on the spot where once stood an old fort in the days when Indians ravaged the country, is situated the rustic arbor. What a beautiful retreat in the midst of this rural world! Numbers of delicate vines have clambered to the top of the arbor, shutting out the last faint traces of day as they linger in its twilight about its narrow entrance. The view from the little doorway is truly a beautiful one. Not more than two or three feet away is a precipice overlooking a stream of rippling water as it flows picturesquely along in the fulfillment of its mission, ? it is this romantic peak which youthful minds have termed "Lovers Leap," though why it has derived that name is only known to the originators. Whether any interesting episode hallows it or not, this spot is a favored work of Monument Place, which should be consecrated to the meditation of nature. It is a retreat where in earlier days poets may have dreamed and authors may have built their fancies. Aside from the narrow path leading from the arbor, an old picture is brought before us vividly as when our childish lips lisped the lines dedicated to it. There it is: the two narrow poles held together at the top by a shorter one from which is suspended a long thick rope attached to the ?
Shepherd Hall is substantially constructed of solid stone, and stands on a level of the hill sloping down to the beautiful lawn. In its ornamentation it is of the Corinthian style of architecture, though the old stones are almost covered by the creeping vines. A flight of stone steps leads to the entrance hall. Here wealth is not guided by a spirit of grandiness, but it is rather the band of refinement that has directed the decoration. The frescoes are handsome and curious patterns, and the wainscoting along the high stairway is heavy and elegant. A brilliant newel light adds a dazzling effect to the scene and spreads its lustre about the rooms to either side. To the right of the hall is a narrow room with a high ceiling, which ever since the construction of Shepherd Hall has been designated as the family library. Here a literary taste is finely displayed in the handsomely bound works of the standard authors and poets. The books rest upon ebony cabinets and though some are slim with age they are valuable still for their antiquity. The high mantel-piece, so beautifully and delicately carved, and the high backed easy chairs take one back through several generations to the early days of Shepherd Hall, when its young mistress queened it royally in the circles of the gay. The center-piece in the bright floor covering was woven from the finest texture of the Persian loom into the red roses and blue forget-me-nots, while the variegated bordering is in perfect harmony of taste.
Opening from the library is the chamber that was once occupied by one whose history has been long sought as that of a heroine in the early records of Wheeling. Here the high carved mantel with its curious antique ornament and the long narrow cupboard are interesting features. A handsome screen, inlaid with pearl, obscures the dreary fire front. From the west window of this room a lovely scene is presented. Steps lead from the wide veranda into the garden, where a fine view of the surrounding country can be obtained. Far down the stream, familiarly termed Wheeling Creek, the silvery moonbeams glisten in the distance, imparting their unspeakable magic to the pictures of the shadows past. The old trees on either bank reflect brightly their image in the rippling stream. In front of the veranda the thick ivy is growing over a massive rookery, while the Virginia creepers are clambering about the old locust tree as they listen to the whispering zephyrs stirring slightly their delicate leaves.
Back once again into the house, we next retrace our steps through the library across the main hall into the reception room. Here a rich Wilton carpet muffles the sound of footsteps as they sink into its depths. The high, white mantel is beautifully carved in mythological designs, and upon it rest antique pictures of burnished gild. Over the center of it hangs a handsome oil painting of the north view of Shepherd Hall. In the small recess in the south corner of the room is an ebony cabinet ornamented with handsome statuary. Hence the scene of the reception room is brightly reflected in the thick plate glass mirrors which adorn the cabinet. The fire-side decorations of brass seem almost as glittering as the lovely little table of burnished gold, which rests between the long windows almost hidden beneath the luxurious curtains. West of the reception parlor is the neat little music room, with everything in appropriate keeping.
Leaving this we wander up the long stairway to the grand ball room. What a crowd of fancies confuse us here! What scenes of gayety, what unknown events has it not witnessed! Since the early days of Shepherd Hall, ? the days when Madison, Clay and scores of distinguished personages graced its rooms; this particular retreat has been the one where youth and beauty have mingled in joyous festivities, when the lovers of Terpsichore tripped away the hours and took no note of time. How many eyes have brightened and drooping hearts been revived by the sweet whisperings of love sometimes trite, but often false, inspired in the rapturous strains of if music that have flatted around its walls so many years until the gentle Euterpe seems still to haunt the familiar nooks, and breath her spirit there. The ball room is a long, narrow one, with high mantel-pieces at either end, delicately carved in Corinthian style by a skillful hand. Upon them rest large and elegant candellabra of antique design. The high open fireplaces, with their old-time andirons, seem to speak to us of the times when our grandmothers in their youthful days gathered about the same fire-side in all the hopes, the aims, anticipations of youth. The long narrow door, with its carved top, the beautiful wainscoting, the bordering above the thick gilt paper, all are delicately carved in the Corinthian architectural style, and would be a credit to the skillful architecture of the ancients could they have lived to see their designs perpetuated as they are at Shepherd Hall today.
Just out from the scene of gayety is the room still familiarly termed Henry Clay's, the room occupied by the illustrious patriot during his brief visits to Monument Place.
Many other apartments of Shepherd Hall might still be visited without one becoming wearied in the monotony of sameness, for each hears its own particular history in point of interest. But this description, however, is amply sufficient for an introduction to the sumptuous home which Col. Moses Shepherd erected for his young wife, early in the present century. What a world of events has been chronicled in the one hundred years which in their closing scenes are casting about the thriving manufacturing city of Wheeling the shadows of Fort Henry.
It was near the days which the last siege of the Revolution have rendered and will serve to render Fort Henry ever famous in the history of our country, that one beautiful, haughty, sprightly girl was a sensation at the fort, and by her daring, reckless courage and indomitable will, together with her perfect consciousness of superior beauty and rare personal charms made heroes of the weakest men and spurred their efforts in the unflinching duty to defend bravely Fort Henry against Indian attacks. At this time, when the celebration in honor of these gallant ones who so courageously defended the old fort, awakens something of the early patriotism in each human heart, it is just and fitting that the memory of Lydia Boggs should be reverently received and that the noble force of character which stimulated all her actions should live again today in the hearts of her fellow sisters.
It is not to speak of her historical life, her life along the border, her brave, cunning feats, and where all else had failed her daring rescue from Girty's band. that this little narrative is written. No, these are but the fireside tales, oft repeated in West Virginia homes. But in social rank she comes before its a brilliant. sprightly beauty, blooming like the sweet wild rose among the luxuriant foliage and bright canopied hills of West Virginia. Scarcely a century in the nation's history has rolled away since then, but the busy streets with their jostling throngs, the dingy buildings with the marking of decay upon their walls, the barren hills whose ornaments have long been felled by the woodman's axe, all make a difficult picture in which to imagine Fort Henry in the last siege of the Revolution.
Lydia Bogs had a small, lithe figure, but a haughty grace of carriage marked every movement of it. At sixteen years of age she was a perfect blonde. Her golden hair hung in graceful ringlets about a brow white as polished marble, while beneath it flashed in varied expression those jewels which were her pride, ? large, blue eyes that spoke frankly the true heroism of a soul that lived for noble purposes. There was always an unspeakable something in the girl that claimed the love of her companions and the admiration of strangers. So was it any wonder that Moses Shepherd, "Mo," as Lydia delighted to abreviate the name, a shy, awkward school boy, loved those stolen glances behind their books in the days when they studied together in the little log cabin near the Boggs farm? Yes, the illustrious poet must have drawn his fancy from a similar picture when he wrote those lines so full of pathos,
One day, it was a bright, lovely morning in the early October, and the red and yellow leaves of autumn were scattering their variegated coverings over the forests. The great old trees were almost leafless. Here and there remnants of their rich gaudy attire hung in fragments from a drooping tough; fighting hard with the reckless zephyrs, the little leaf clung fast, and the wind swept on its way. The glistening sun tinted with its golden hue the earth's rich carpet, while the merry birds sang their chorus to the mourning music of the brook. At the base of the gay panorama warbled the rippling waters of the silvery Ohio, and drifting picturesquely along with the gentle flow, her young heart beating time to the ripplets which played innocently about her little canoe, sailed Lydia Boggs, the flower of the border. It was just the morning for a charming sail, and Lydia having stepped into her boat loosened it from the moorings and it moved clown the stream. Her keen eve penetrated each recess in the dense forests as she floated anxiously by. Now and then she would place her little hand on the rifle by her side as if in assurance of its faithful trust in times such as these. At last, drawing toward the Ohio shore, she pulled up her canoe and fastened it securely to a huge log, then falling on the ground a short distance from it she dreamed the hours away; the only living soul in all that vast wilderness, her meditations were undisturbed. It might not be far amiss to suspect young Shepherd's claim on those captive thoughts during that long reverie in the woods. The day wore on and Lydia heeded not the anxious watchers sighing for her return. The sun was setting in a blaze of splendor, and hallowed in gorgeous shapes the glittering peaks, towering high above the river's edge. Far into the dim mist of future years the girl's fancy was weaving strange images from those sunlit realms. When the twilight shades were faintly beginning to steal about her and heralded the sombre hues of night, Lydia arose reluctantly and walked towards the boat that was to carry her homeward.
Suddenly she stopped in breathless anxiety. Surely she was not mistaken. There was a fumbling sound among the leaves, and ere she had time to reach her canoe a huge Indian stood before her. His dark form wore an expression so mean and terrible that even to the brave heart of a border girl it struck unconcealed terror. Her rifle a short distance from her in the boat, and she had no earthly means of help. Trembling in every nerve, with those great magnificent eyes filled with tears. the terrified girl fell upon her knees before the grim savage. Words were useless, empty trifles, pleading was unnecessary to his unrelenting heart; it was shut and sealed to whisperings of humanity. Yes, she saw the ropes that were to bind her, the fetters which were to drag her a captive into an Indian's band, but the undaunted courage peculiar through all her life, was an incentive to hope. Another sound among the trees and she shrank back from the clutches of her savage adversary in fear that the whole band had come upon her. But her drooping spirits revived as her name was mentioned in plain English; spoken from some indistinct somewhere. In an instant a straight shot whirled past her with lightning rapidity and quicker than thought the Indian fell at her feet a corpse. A man's rough voice broke into a coarse laugh, "Ha! ha ! ha !" he said, pointing to the bleeding form upon the grass, "a little sport for this hour; but is your name Lyddy Bogg?" and the tender-hearted girl turned a pitiful look from the harmless dead to the burly figure beside her, whose harsh heart softened as the tearful eyes met his own. "Are you not ashamed," she said, "to speak so lightly of the dead? Yes, my name is Lydia Boggs, and from your costume I presume you are an Indian scout. But who am I to thank for this delivery?" "Bless yer heart, child, its Lew Wetzel. It's a long day since I first hurd of purty Lyddy Boggs, the daringest and darlingest gal on the border, and ‘pon my word it is your very self I've sought them two months past." As these compliments were showered upon her, the color deepened in Lydia s cheeks, and the haughty spirit manifested displeasure at the impertinence expressed at this outburst of enthusiasm. But her preserver was forgiven, and he safely rowed her up the Ohio to the site of Boggs' farm. It was a very pleasant meal that evening in the unpretending country house, and when it was ended Moses Shepherd came in almost breathless from his protracted search over hill and dale for his lost Lydia. But it was easy to forgive his truant sweetheart when he was once more greeted by the merry girlish laugh.
And so the pleasant days and the charming weeks wore on, the winter passed swiftly and the early spring was welcomed once again by the gladdening sunbeams. It was night, and the moon shed a pale, opal lustre through the same old trees, sending in those gentle rays secret blessings to the gallant youth who was pledging his troth to the fair girl of his choice. "Lydia, it would be but an oft repeated tale with which in boyhood and in manhood I have wearied you in repetition. It is the same old story of a pleading love. Why need I force it upon you again? Those eyes are sweet whisperings of hope. They have led me step by step, and gently, too, since the days we walked as children hand in hand to our poor pretension of a school. In all the confused and conflicting images with which my fancies paint the future those blue orbs are the lodestar, always incentive to effort and to hope. Tell me, Lydia, is it long our union must be delayed?" And as the last words were uttered the tall, noble frame of Moses Shepherd bent slightly to the blushing girl. After all, silence is sometimes the sweetest language, and in that strange communication Lydia's lover moulded in his heart the sentences her trembling lips scarce could frame. Captain Boggs smiled with approbation and pleasure on the handsome young suitor when his daughter was requested of him in marriage, and placed his hands in a father's blessing on Moses' head when he gave up to him his eldest child. "Take her, Shepherd; you're a noble lad, be kind, be true to my Lydia. But I need not tell you this. In secure confidence I resign my child. It's been a long day since I guessed which way her heart went."
It was a fair bride the sun shone on that bright spring day long, long ago. She was a lively bride, as blushing as a rose and as fair as a lily. It was in the faun house near Boggs' run that Lydia uttered the solemn words which made her Moses Shepherd's wife. Her dress was one which would have shocked many a superstitious maiden of the present time, but silk was a rare fabric in our country in those days, when a girl knew little ambition above her homespun attire, and a black silk was not in the least an objection to a bridal array. It is related of Lydia Boggs, and truthfully, too, that she started 12 miles on foot to purchase her wedding slippers. How her happy little heart must have beaten when she was returning with those treasures.
Some years after their marriage Moses, then Colonel Shepherd, erected the beautiful home previously described as Monument Place, where his proud young wife queened it in worldly circles. Ah! how happily flew the years in that dear old home! when they wove more closely the chain of affection under the magic wand of love.
It was on one of those grand occasions which serve to render Monument Place so famous in the social history of Wheeling that Shepherd Hall was ablaze with light and life. The spacious ball-room was gayly thronged with honored guests, who moved forward to pay their respects to their charming hostess. Proud and stately as was ever Lydia Boggs, Mrs. Colonel Shepherd appeared on this evening. The girlish brightness had settled into a matured dignity and her youthful beauty, ready wit and marked influence in social rank only served to render her more attractive in exalted circles. When everything was in readiness for the opening scene of the ball, when sweetest strains of music floated through the vast apartment, and echoed in the bright, joyous heart of youth, there was a rustling sound in the dense crowd, and all eyes were turned in expectation. Only a moment of eager curiosity, and the smiling hostess was led forward by Henry Clay in all his gallantry. Then the opening dance began, and then were "chased the hours with flying feet."
Thus life wore on at Shepherd Hall. Colonel Shepherd became a large contractor and after the building of the National Pike the damages to his vast estate were very great. Accordingly he carried his claims to Washington, where he and his devoted wife spent winter after winter. At the national capital Mrs. Shepherd reigned year after year in courtly splendor. Always one of the most magnificently attired at the President's levees, always a sensation and always a favorite. Resolute, ambitious and proud, of remarkable stability of character, she was truly regarded as one of the wonderful women of her day. But midst all the dissipation of an eastern life, surrounded by all the distractions of Washington society, she was ever a faithful and dutiful wife: Though forty years of her married life had almost gone, she still retained the cherished affection of her youth, and claimed her husband's heart as in those days of yore. At last there came a day of sadness to Shepherd Hall, a time which cast a gloom over the gay life of its mistress. Colonel Shepherd died, and over the gaudy scene of his home the sable folds of mourning were drawn.
But his affairs remained unsettled long years after his mortal remains had been laid to rest in the old churchyard in sight of his beautiful home, and his widow in her business energy kept up her annual visits to the capital.
During one of these visits she met General Cruger, a representative in Congress from New York, and a widower. He was not one of the least who manifested admiration for the fashionable and wealthy widow of Colonel Shepherd, and in time must have pressed his suit in a manner that awakened a congenial sympathy in the widowed heart, when she consented to become his wife. She used laughingly to remark to her gay acquaintances that she had caught General Cruger with a silver hook, for he was in very moderate circumstances at the time of their marriage. 'Tis true that the admiration she felt for General Cruger was not that strange intangible sentiment which still clung about the memory of her girlhood's love, but we have reason to suppose she led a happy existence the few years of their married life. About seven years after her second wedding she again became a widow, and lived the remaining years of a remarkable life at Monument Place, endeared to her by a thousand memories. The friends of her girlhood, the gay companions of her youth had all passed out of her life, and yet she lingered. A whole century had rolled away and the Angel of Death seemed to have forgotten her, or remembered not that she was mortal. But no, God called her in His own good time and there dawned a day at last when the lamp of a long life "flickered and went out forever" in the home she had loved so well. The sun of old age was setting in a beautiful tranquility as if heralding the peace beyond the grave. All nature about the place seemed drooping on that day, while the flowers were weeping under the morning's dew. Even the restless moaning of the waters beneath her window echoed the sad song of Death. In the midst of all that is sublime and lovely, in the silence which shrouds a death-bed, the voice of the dying woman penetrated the little circle about her. It was a beautiful resignation that went with her soul in that prayer of child-like confidence, when the trembling lips were parted and the last breath of life wafted away with her words, "Lord Jesus, receive my soul." And the noble spirit of Lydia Cruger has passed into eternity. President after president has passed away, statesmen and warriors have been honored in their time, but the name and fame of Lydia Boggs live to-day, and around her memory still are thrown some shadows of the past.