Edgewater People Forward

Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

From Edgewater People (Harper and Brothers; New York: 1918)

Villages, as well as people, exist subject to laws of change, increase, final dissolution. They have character, complex, of course, still individual.

It is interesting to watch the inevitable result when a village of large area and restricted population increases in population as years go on. The one village becomes impossible. It is like a bulb of several years' growth. If life and bloom are to continue, separation into component parts is indicated. The original village becomes several, and yet the first characteristics are never entirely lost.

In the village of Barr exactly this process ensued with the increase of population. Instead of one sparsely populated village covering a large land area, there were four — Barr Center, the Barr Center, South Barr, Barr-by-the-Sea, and Leicester. Each had its own government, each village was an entity, and yet the original entity of Barr remained indestructible.

The Edgewater family stamped the four villages with their individuality; so did the Leicesters; so did the Sylvesters; so did all strongly rooted families.

The stories in this volume relate to families living in patriarchal fashion, although not under one roof, under one village tree.

Not many in the four villages are entirely exempt from the hereditary influence of the original village. No dissensions, not even radical differences of character, were able to destroy the first strength of concerted growth. New-comers came under its sway, by marriage, or by the close neighborhood system of small communities.

These stories of four villages are stories of a fourfold individual standing out against his rural background, essentially the same, yet of a different aspect to each observer.

I may have succeeded in making this evident in this volume. I may have failed. In any case the situation is true, and the growth and multiplication of villages, according to the laws of all increase on earth, are worth studying.