“Congratulations to Richard Ratcliff (with a white Bible)” by Darius M. Ratcliff


I send you now this book in white:

Through it there shines a brighter light

Than any sun that’s graced man’s sight:

Twas sent by God to guide you right.

If you will now its pages read,

And to its precious words take heed;

Our Christ will meet your every need,

For He’s a friend to you indeed.

This book can you to Jesus win,

Your heart can cleanse from every sin,

Make you to Christ the nearest kin;

When heaven comes, can take you in.

If you keep closed this little book,

And never at its pages look;

At last you’ll rue the way you took,

When you the word of God forsook.

So put this book in your heart deep,

With Christ a daily meeting keep:

As you now sow, so shall you reap;

You may rejoice, or you may weep

This earthly life I must resign,

Or heaven never will be mine:

God’s best for man is never given,

Till death this earthly frame has riven.

You do not mourn the blossoms cast,

When you enjoy the fruit at last;

So why lament what’s left behind,

When you the consummation find?

Image above:


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:KJV-King-James-Version-Bible-first-edition-title-page-1611.jpg#file

Frontispiece to the King James' Bible, 1611, shows the Twelve Apostles at the top. Moses and Aaron flank the central text. In the four corners sit Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, authors of the four gospels, with their symbolic animals. At the top, over the Holy Spirit in a form of a dove, is the Tetragrammaton "יהוה" ("YHWH").

The title page text reads:
Conteyning the Old Teſtament,
Newly Tranſlated out of the Originall tongues: & with the former Tranſlations diligently compared and reuiſed, by his Maiesties speciall Comandement.
Appointed to be read in Churches.
Imprinted at London by Robert Barker, Printer to the Kings moſt Excellent Maiestie.

ANNO DOM. 1611 .

At bottom is "C. Boel ſecit in Richmont."


“Last Night I Sat Dreaming” and “Sitting at the Table” by Darius M. Ratcliff


Last night I sat a dreaming

My eyes with tears near streaming;

But now, I’m up and working

My life today not shirking,

For I must.

Earnest has just been here,

He talked of cow and steer;

His farm is on his mind,

And help is hard to find:

Work or bust.

Darius has written me,

That home he wants to see;

He wants to plan it so,

Before the fall of snow,

Here to be.

Warren was home last week

A little rest to seek,

He’s added horse and saw,

To practicing of law:

Gee and Haw.

Ralph o’ver all is crowing,

The joyful news he’s knowing,

A grandpa now is he

To a little tot so wee,

Pat our pet.

Frank is here today,

Till Monday he can stay;

A loyal son and true,

His kind are mighty few:

Fine, you bet.

Margaret comes tonight,

We’ll welcome her all right:

Of home she’s prop and stay,

She must not go away:

Grand, best yet.

God grant my children may

Repent and turn to God,

Receive His blessing daily,

Receive them through His blood.

God grant when time is over

All may be gathered there;

The father and the children

With me my joy to share.

Charles Benton and Louise Mitteer Ratcliff and Family

Back Row, Left to Right –  Darius, Charles Benton, Louise, Warren

Front Row, Left to Right – Ernest, Frank, Margaret, Ralph


I am sitting at the table, but to read I’m hardly able,

And my thoughts they are roaming, in the quiet of the glooming,

All so fast:

And the children come a trooping, and my head now low is drooping,

And my heart too nigh is aching, as my memory now is making

Real the past.

Here is Ernie coming in, with a smile and with a grin:

“It’s an old discarded can, and a portion of a pan,

For a boat.”

“I will solder them together, as a sail and then a rudder,

I will take them to the brook, you may come and have a look,

It will float.”

And Darius now is bringing yellow flowers while the singing

Of the birds in the trees tells to all that winter flees;

It is May:

He has wandered far away, for the posies bright and gay,

And he found them at last as some willow trees he passed,

Late today.

Yes there’s Warren with the paint, at the sight I once could faint;

From the cellar to the light, I bring up the dabbled sight,

Sad to say:

Now comes Ralph, pink and sunny, with his sayings cute and funny,

Over something he has stumbled, for his clothes show he has tumbled

In the hay.

Then comes Frankie, little fellow, with his hair so shining yellow,

And he climbs up in my lap, while his feet they almost tap

On the floor.

And our girlie, little tot, we do cherish her a lot;

With her dolls she can stay, and at visiting she can play,

Till its four.

Photo above – Source: Personal photo collection of B.J. Johanningmeier

“Dreams” by Darius M. Ratcliff


In the land of my dreams, where what isn’t real seems

I’ve scaled lofty cliffs and clung to mere shelves,

I have seen the sheer depths yawning below

And clung for my life to my tiny rock ledge;

I’ve slipped from my ledge, I’ve felt myself go.

In the land of my dreams, where all possible seems,

I’ve run like the deer, scarce touching the ground,

I’ve jumped towering fences and buildings with ease;

I’ve leeped scores of yards amazing onlookers,

And at last I’ve sailed out right over the trees.

In the land of my dreams where dreadful things seem,

I once saw a great cat in a far reaching barn

A stalking my way, and I had no place to flee,

The cat was far greater than African lion,

But I wakened in time, he never reached me.

In the land of my dreams where fulfillment oft seems,

The sweetheart of old comes a smiling again;

And now she is beaming, her eyes speak of love,

I have won her at last, the dream has come true,

But now she has joined what dreams are made of.

In the land of my dreams where romance real seems,

I have met such sweet girls, and enjoyed glad romance,

I have looked in blue eyes and thrilled with their spell,

I have their sweet voices a whispering of love,

And regretted that waking has sounded their knell.

In the land of my dreams where pleasures real seem,

I have found swimming pools in come magic glen,

And I’ve dived to their depths enjoying the feel,

And I’ve swum with the speed for which oft I have yearned: –

I wish for just once this dream could be real.

In the land of my dreams where anything seems,

I have seen swarms of snakes, just coming my way;

If I killed one or two, there were multitudes left:

I’d have spotted monsters, and rattlesnakes too,

And I’ve wished for a dream with all snakes bereft.

In the land of my dreams when what is past present seems,

I’ve been engaged to a girl in a far away place,

Awaiting the day, awaiting my bride,

And then I have known, that years have since fled:-

“My sweetheart is lost”. She is here at my side.

Ethel Lepine Fulton Ratcliff, Age 18

Wife of Darius Mitteer Ratcliff,

New Jersey, 1904

Photo above – Source: Personal photo collection of B.J. Johanningmeier

“To My Valentine” – Ethel Fulton Ratcliff by Darius M. Ratcliff, February 14, 1943

Ethel Lepine Fulton Ratcliff


February 14, 1943

Long, long ago, my dear,

I fell in love with you.

How sweet and happy were those days,

When love to us was new:

Do you remember Somerville,

And Greenknoll’s country side?

Do you remember Hurleyville,

Where summer joys abide:

If I were to fall in love anew,

I’d want to fall in love with you.

Our wedding day was minus guests,

And it was bleak and cold:

It mattered not to me at all,

For you were mine to hold:

I heard you say a glad “I do.”

And we at last were wed:

The joy has never left my heart,

Though many years have fled.

If I were to marry anew,

I’d want to marry only you.

You, dear, were once my own sweet bride,

They said, “The teacher’s wife”.

We had but little in our home,

But sweet to me was life.

We learned to love those country folks,

And they to us were kind:

I doubt if those in palaces

A greater bliss can find.

If I were to have a bride anew,

I’d want that bride to be just you.

For thirty years you’ve been my wife,

A loyal wife and true:

If I have won success or praise,

I owe it much to you.

And you are just as lovely now,

As when you were my bride.

I’ve learned to love you more and more,

With love that does abide.

If I were to choose a wife anew,

I’d want to choose just you, just you.

And we have reared a lovely girl, —

Many blessings with her go:And we have reared two precious boys,–

Ratcliff Family – July 16, 1926

Left to right 

Robert “Bob” , Walter

Ethel Fulton Ratcliff, Elizabeth “Betty”, Darius Mitteer Ratcliff

May they the Savior know.

For them we’ve toiled and sacrificed,

For them we’ve lived and prayed;

With them we’ve loved, joyed, and wept

With them we’ve hiked and played.

If I were to rear a child a new,

I’d want to rear that child with you.

The years will come, the years will go:

They’ll take away our strength:

We’ll find ourselves, if life is spared,

Grown old and weak at length.

So long the Christ has blessed us,

He’ll not forsake us then:

His grace for us will suffice

While we abide with men.

If I’m to grow old and feeble too,

I want to grow old  along with you.

Our hopes are placed with Christ on high,

We wait a coming Lord:

We glory only in the Christ,

We glory in His word:

We trust to love forever more,

And with Christ’s glory shine:

We trust the fullness of our Lord

Will be both yours and mine.

When I then live that life anew,

I want to live that life with you.

 Ratcliff Family – Naples, New York, 1935

Photos above – Source: Personal photo collection of B.J. Johanningmeier


“The Day Betty Was Born” by Darius M. Ratcliff, 1942

Darius and Ethel Ratcliff

with Elizabeth “Betty” Louise, age 5 weeks


November 8th, 1915, Scriba, New York

There was not a leaf on the old pear tree,

The neighboring hill was bare and brown,

A cold wind tossed dead leaves about,

And through dead branches snow sifted down.

And all our song birds south had fled,

And summer flowers were long since dead.

The day made dark by gloomy clouds,

Grew darker still when high snow walls

Came sweeping in from the darkened lake,

And lashed us fiercely with blinding squalls.

The neighbor’s chickens that graced our lawn

Into their shelters were all withdrawn.

The village park was all deserted:

No children cared to venture out:

The chill wind’s joy finger tips,

Had put the loiterers all to rout.

And when we took a shortened walk

We both were far too cold to talk.

But then before the evening came

The clouds gave way, the sun shone through:

The sunshine danced on hill and tree,

The sky arched over with brilliant blue:

And joy, our home was all awhirl,

Our God had sent us a baby girl.

Photo above – Source: Personal photo collection of B.J. Johanningmeier

“A Prayer for Betty” and “A Prayer for Harry” by Darius M. Ratcliff, February 1943

Elizabeth “Betty” Louise Ratcliff and  Harry Joseph Downs

Marriage: September 5, 1941


February 1943

My God is on my side, I shall not fear,

Let wars arise and rage, my help is near:

He knew this time before He made the world,

Before His eyes the present lay unfurled.

A perfect plan for me, before my birth.

The God who gave His Son to die for me

Will surely never fail my wants to see.

Since God has chosen me to be His child,

Will He less careful be than parents mild?

If God is for me, acting on my side

Should I draw back in fear, in terror hide:

He holds the world enfolded in His hand,

The powers of earth are all at His command:

Forgive all foolish doubts, all foolish fears,

May songs of triumph e’er be mine, not tears.

Impress upon my mind the words of Christ:

“Fear not, more valuable you are, and blessed

Than sparrows, yet not one shall fall to earth

Without His will, whose child you are by birth.

Your very hairs all numbered are to cherish,

And not a hair of yours shall ever perish.”

In nothing then I am to anxious be,

I am to wait and His salvation  see.

I must then lift in strength those palsied knees

Till hands left hanging down my courage frees.

Made strong with strength from Thee, I’ll face my life.

And I’ll be led in triumph through all strife,

For only those whose strength by Christ supplied,

Should those who have the strength of God e’ver fail?

I will be strong in strength by Christ supplied,

I will rejoice in Christ, in joy abide.

Enough for now if Christ is glorified in me:

If life or death or loss or gain I see,

It matters little now, since I’ve been crucified

To earth: My life is hid with Christ who died.

When Christ who is my life shall be revealed my glories come, though now concealed.



February 1943

My eyes have seen the only goal

The goals for which Christ lived and died:

I now surrender all beside,

To this I’ll give my life, the whole.

I lay before thy pierced feet,

All that I cherish anywhere,

I ask there not one part to spare,

But use them as to thee seems meet.

Thou knowest where I’m needed, Lord;

Thou knowest what is best for me:

I will not doubt thy wise decree,

I will not doubt thy spoken word.

With thee, O Christ, to earth I’m dead;

My life with Thee in God is love,

Oh keep my mind on things above,

And may my feet by thee be led.

I trust myself to thee alone

I trust my loved ones also there,

I trust my future to thy care,

I’m glad all are they very own.

I glory in thy perfect love:

Enlarge my heart to love Thee more,

Incline my mind to Thee adore,

May I be one with Thee above.

Photo above – Source: Personal photo collection of B.J. Johanningmeier