The story of Jacobus T. Vandemark, born in Ulster County, New York. When only a few years old, Vandemark's widowed mother took a second husband, a rascally patent medicine salesman who abused both his wife and her son. He put the lad to work in a cotton mill at the age of six until the boy ran away to work on the Erie Canal under the command of a rough but good hearted canal boat captain.
s the Dutch are usually broad rather than long. Of course this life was hard. I was very little when I began watching machines and tending spindles, and used to cry sometimes because I was so tired. I almost forgot what it was to play; and when I got home at night I staggered with sleepiness.
My mother used to undress me and put me to bed, when she was not pressed with her own work; and even then she used to come and kiss me and see that I had not kicked the quilt off before she lay down for her short sleep. I remember once or twice waking up and feeling her tears on my face, while she whispered "My poor baby!" or other loving and motherly words over me. When John Rucker went off on his peddling trips she would take me out of the factory for a few days and send me to school. The teachers understood the case, and did all they could to help me in spite of my irregular attendance; so that I learned to read after a fashion, and as for arithmetic, I seemed to understand that naturally. I was a poor writer, thou