Bathia’s Bedstead by John L. Bryan

Bathia’s Bedstead

by John L. Bryan

When I was about nine years old, my grandmother, Bryan, gave me her night table. It was made of the wood from her mother and father’s bedstead. Clark and Bathia Chapman were their names. They were married in Indiana in 1847. Clark had a massive bedstead which he brought to Indiana from New York State in 1836.

Clark communed with spirits. The spirits would rap on the foot of the bed and Clark seemed to understand them and would talk to them. This went on over the years and the children got a “kick” out of it, but Bethia was no big fan.

Then something happened. The situation changed. Up until then, whenever Clark said “good night” to the spirits, they would leterally “knock it off”. After many years of pleasant communion with the spirits, they became aggressive…they started waking Clark up anytime of the night, any night and, of course, Bathia too. Instead of coming on line when called for and signing off when dismissed by Clark, they demanded nightly attention.

Along about 1870, Bathia had had enough. Now, she was a respectful Victorian wife and this was too much. One night, Clark found her crying. He did not ask what was wrong, for he knew. He told Bathia he would die before he would let the spirits take over his home. Bathia’s answer was, “Clark, I have never asked for any favors you know… I have never had to. Don’t have any further truch with them, get shut of them, Please! They scare me!”

The children said this surprised Clark as he received all kinds of information from the spirits, however, he never argued. He pointed out they would have to get “shut”of the bedstead also, which they did.

They dismantled the bed, saving the solid cherry wood. Then Clark’s son, Henry, Uncle Hank as I knew him, built things for the house with the bedstead wood. The night table my grandmother Bryan gave me was one of the articles built from the bedstead wood and I suspect is and the occasional night visitors will be in our family for many years to come.

John L. Bryan 1997

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