||HISTORY OF LOWER SCIOTO VALLEY
Kay L. Mason
They Found A Wilderness And Let In The Sunlight of Civilization. Pioneer Life-Home of the Indians-From Whence They Came-The Log-Cabin- Dress and Manners-Market Prices-Milling-Native Animals-Agricultural Implements-Education-The Bright Side-What the Pioneers Have Done-Women Pioneers. [Text Version]
The present boundary of the Lower Scotio Valley was first made the home of the palefaces in 1795. That year civilization first secured it for its home. It was then a part of the territory of the Northwest, its eastern portion, east of the Scotio River, however, being included within the bounds of the newmade county of Washington. At that time Ohio could boast of but three counties within her limits-Washington, Hamilton and Wayne, the latter extending so far as to include all the State of Michigan, besides other territory, and her county seat was Detroit.
This country was the home of the red men, a home from which they loth to part. God had given them this beautiful valley of the Scioto for their home. It was a migratory field for the restless buffalo; the elk and the bear roamed its wooded hills; the deer and wild turkey made it their home; the valleys and the upland were filled with small game; fish sported in the cool and pellucid waters of its river and creeks, and in shadowy nooks, near bubbling springs and crystal fountains, the aborigines built their wigwams. It was a paradise for the hunter, and the Indians had roamed lord of all. In 1795 the valley of the Scioto, with its wealth of forest and stream, with its high and rolling upland, bold bluffs and nestling valleys, became the property of the palefaces, and that which stood for centuries in its wild and rugged grandeur was, ere long, to assume a prominent place in the future of our State.
The pioneers of Ohio, especially those who settled in the valley of the Ohio and its tributary streams, like the Scioto, Hocking and Muskingum, came generally from the older States which were upon the border, like Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky, but not a few found their way from the Atlantic States, and from those composing New England.
There is little difference in pioneer life even at this day. It is the poor and hard-working element that seek a home in a new country, as a general thing, and at this day, especially, very few who enjoy the churches, schools, railroad and telegraph, and are able to remain, will care to leave for a residence in the wilds of the West. The exception to these are those who may be in fair circumstances, but have large families, who are willing to give up their comfort for the better providing of the future for their children. Thus we find an energy which labor increases, and with an endurance that seems to baffle all opposing forces.
The great part of the goods transported from the Eastern settlements were brought over the mountains on pack-horses. The first year's subsistence had to be carried that way, and salt was packed hundreds of miles to meet the wants of the settlers, and then sold from $6 to $10 a bushel. No roads were laid out west of Pittsburg, and but few wagons could find their way over the mountains and through the unbroken wilderness. But upon reaching the latter place the trouble comparatively ceased, for the goods could be carried thence by river. Roads, however, were soon made, rough bridges of logs spanned the narrow streams, the rivers had their ferries, and country or general stores began to put in an appearance. They kept a little of everything, but it was always articles of necessity-hats, caps, boots and shoes, chains, wedges, pots and kettles. Mills and blacksmith shops were soon erected.
A description of which may not be uninteresting now, will be of profound interest to future generations, who will be so far removed from pioneer life as to wonder over the primitive styles and habits of long ago.
Trees of uniform size were chosen and cut into logs of the desired length, generally twelve to fifteen feet, and hauled to the spot selected for the future dwelling. On the appointed day the few neighbors would assemble and have a "house-raising." Each end of every log was saddled and notched so that they would lie as close as possible; the next day the proprietor would proceed to "chink and daub" the cabin, to keep out the rain, wind, and cold. The house had to be re-daubed every fall, as the rains of the intervening time would wash out a great part of the mortar. The usual height of the house was seven or eight feet. The gables were formed by shortening the logs gradually at each end of the building near the top. The roof was made by laying very straight small logs or stout poles suitable distances apart, generally about two and a half feet, from gable to gable, and on these poles were laid the "clapboards" after the manner of shingling, showing about two and a half feet to the weather. These clapboards were fastened to their place by "weight poles," corresponding in place with the joints just described, and these again were held in their place by "runs" or "knees," which were chunks of wood about eighteen or twenty inches long fitted between them near the ends. Clapboards were made from the nicest oaks in the vicinity, by chopping or sawing them into four-foot blocks and riving these with a frow, which was a simple blade fixed a tright angles to its handle. This was driven into the blacks by a mallet. As the frow was wrenched down through the wood, the latter was turned alternately over from side to side, one end being held by a forked piece of timber.
The chimney to the Western pioneer's cabin was made by leaving in the original building a large open place in one wall, or by cutting one after the structure was up, and by building on the outside, from the ground up, a stone column, or a column of sticks and mud, the sticks being laid up cobhouse fashion. The fire- place thus made was often large enough to receive fire-wood six to eight feet long. Sometimes this wood, especially the "back-log," would be nearly as large as a saw-log. The more rapidly the pioneer could burn up the wood in his vicinity, the sooner he had his little farm cleared and ready for cultivation. For a window, a piece about two feet long was cut out of one of the wall logs, and the hold closed sometimes by glass, but generally with greased paper. Even greased deer-hide was sometimes used. A doorway was cut through one of the walls if a saw was to be had; otherwise the door would be left by shortened logs in the original building. The door was made by pinning clapboards to two or three wooden bars and was hung on wooden hinges. A wooden latch, with catch, then finished the door, and the latch was raised by anyone on the outside by pulling the leather string attached. For security at night this latchstring was drawn in, but for friends and neighbors, and even strangers, the "latchstring was always hanging out," as a sign of welcome. In the interior over the fire- place would be a shelf called the "mantel," on which stood the candle-stick or lamp; probably, also, some cooking or table-ware, and possibly an old clock and other articles. In the fire-place would be a crane, and on it pots were hung for cooking. Over the door in forked cleats hung the ever trusty rifle and powder horn; in one corner stood the large bed for the "old folks," and under it the trundle bed for the children; in another stood the old-fashioned spinning wheel, with a smaller one by its side; in another the only table, large and strong, and in the remaining corner was a rude cupboard holding the tableware, which consisted of a few cups and saucers and blue-edged plates standing singly on their edges against the back so as to give a more conspicuous display, while around the room were scattered a few splint-bottom or Windsor chairs and two or three stools. In the erection of this cabin the neighbors would come for miles around to help him and give him a fair start in the world. They gave him a warm welcome, the right hand of fellowship was extended, and the new settler felt at home att once. The latch-string hungon the outside, and what the cabin held was at the command of the traveler or neighbor. Corn was their principle article of food, and the wild game furnished the meat for their families. A cow was generally secured, and the pioneer was then happy as well as rich. Store goods were not often seen or worn.
The bed was very often made by fixing posts in the floor about six feet from the one wall and four feet from the adjoining wall, and fastening a stick to this post about two feet from the floor, on each of two sides, so that the other end of each sticks could be fastened in the opposite wall; clapboards were laid across these, and thus the bed was complete. Guests were given this bed, while the family disposed themselves in another corner of the room, or in the "loft." When several guests or travelers were on hand, many ingenious ways were resorted to for their accommodation. The clearing of the woodland was no idle pastime to even the rugged pioneer. Years of toil, of hardship and privation fell to his lot; but for the toil of the then present, he expected and did reap, in almost all cases, an abundant future. Still the old pioneer believed in labor. It was not necessary to provide for the present and future, but it gave strength to the muscles, and health to the entire system.
The pioneer women had very few conveniences which now adorn the kitchens of today. The range or stove was then unknown, but the large fire-place was fitted with a crane and a supply of hooks of different lengths, and from one to four post could be hung over the fire at once. Then the long-handled frying-pan, the bake pan, the Dutch-oven, and along about 1830 came the tin bake-oven. With these the pioneer women did their hot, laborious work. But they knew how to cook. The bread and biscuit of those days have not been improved upon.
A better article for baking batter-cakes was the cast-iron spider or Dutch skillet. The best thing for baking bread in those days, and possibly even yet in these latter days, was the flat-bottomed bake-kettle, of greater depth, with closely fitting cast-iron cover, and commonly known as the "Dutch-oven." With coals over and under it, bread and biscuit would quickly and nicely bake. Turkey an spareribs were sometimes roasted before the fire, suspended by a string, a dish being placed underneath to catch the drippings.
Hominy and samp were very much used. The hominy, however, was generally hulled corn-boiled corn from which the hull, or bran, had been taken by hot lye; hence sometimes called "lye hominy." True hominy and samp were made of pounded corn. A popular method of making this, as well as real meal for bread, was to cut out or burn a large hole in the top of a huge stamp, in the shape of a mortar, and pounded the corn in this by a maul or beetle suspended on the end of a swing- pole, like a well-sweep. This and the well-sweep. This and the well-sweep consisted of a pole twenty to thirty feet long fixed in an upright fork so that it could be worked "teeter" fashion. It was a rapid and simple way of drawing water. When the samp was sufficiently pounded it was taken out, the bran floated off, and the delicious grain boiled like rice.
The chief articles of diet in early day were corn bread, hominy or samp, venison, pork, honey, beans, pumpkin (dried pumpkin for more than half the year), turkey, prairie chicken, squirrel and some other game, with a few additional vegetables a portion of the year. Wheat bread, tea, coffee and fruit were luxuries not to be indulged in exception special occasions, as when visitors were present.
At the table hot drinks were made with sassafras root, spicewood, or sycamore bark. Genuine tea and coffee were sometimes to be had but not often. Parched grains of rye or corn were sometimes pounded up and made a substitute for coffee. Corn-meal was converted into bread in various ways. The simplest method was to mix the meal with salt and water into a stiff dough and bake it on the hot stones of the fire-place-this was the original and only genuine "johnny- cake." The mixture thinly spread and baked on a board or in a pan set upright before the fire made "hoe-cake," and if mixed with eggs and baked in a Dutch- oven, it was "pone." "Corn-dodger" was another variety of the ancient nourishment made of about the same ingredients. Hominy was prepared by soaking the corn in strong lye of wood ashes to remove the outside covering and then washing thoroughly in clean water. Corn-meal was often made into mush and eaten from wooden bowls. If fried with the jelly of meat liquor it was called, by the Dutch, "suppawn," and was a favorite dish. Now and then a cup of coffee, sweetened with honey, the product of a lucky find in the shape of a bee tree, a juicy venison steak of a piece of turkey, and corn-bread made of mashed corn pounded in a mortar or ground in a hand mill, composed the steady week day and Sunday diet of the old pioneer.
Venison could be found in great abundance, and in the forests large flocks of wild turkeys were frequently seen. Bears were still to be seen occasionally, and at times an odd buffalo in the Ohio Valley were the grassy regions of Kentucky. Turkeys were seldom shot as the ammunition was too valuable to waste upon them. They were generally caught in traps, or rather pens, with the lower part of one side left open. Corn was strewn around and inside the pen, and the foolish birds seeing no escape at the top and never thinking to escape the way they came, became easy prisoners. In this way they were caught by the score. If the turkey was young it was sometimes prepared by skinning and roasting before the fire on a spit, the grease being caught with a dripping pan. Stoves were then unknown, and all cooking was done on the hearth or at fires kindled out of doors. In the scarcity of other game, opossums were used occasionally for food-a dish in especial favor among the colored people. Quails were not numerous as they seem to follow civilization rather than precede it. Fish were plentiful in the streams and were caught in different ways, generally on a troll-line on a single hook, or by piercing them with a gig. This was game for the boys.
The skins of the wild beasts were brought to the cabins by hunters, and there prepared for use. Deer skins were tanned. The hair was first removed by ashes and water and the skins were then rubbed with soft-soap, lye, and the brains of the deer. As all these substances contain alkali, they were useful in removing the fat and tissue. Then after lying for two or three days in a steeping vat or trough, the skins were stretched over a smooth round log, from which the bark had been removed, and scraped with a graining-knife. Such a dressing rendered the skins soft and pliable, and many of the settlers became skillful curriers. Bear-skins were dressed with the hair on, and used for robes, carpets or for bed-clothing. Wolves were numerous in some sections, and occasionally a panther's scream pierced the still forest, but domestic animals were seldom destroyed by them.
The dress, habits, etc., of a people throw so much light upon their condition and limitations, that in order to better show the circumstances surrounding the people, a short exposition of life at different epochs is here given. The Indians themselves are credited by Charlevoix with being "very laborious"- raising poultry, spinning the wool of the buffalo and manufacturing garments therefrom. These must have been, however, more than usually favorable representatives of their race.
Dressed deer-skins and blue cloth were commonly in the winter for pantaloons. The blue handkerchief and the deer-skin moccasins covered the head and feet generally. In 1800 scarcely a man thought himself clothed unless he had a belt tied round his blanket coat, and on one side was hung the dressed skin of a pole-cat filled with tobacco, pipe, flint and steel. On the other side was fastened, under the belt, the butcher knife.
Among the American home-made wool hats were common wear. Fur hats were not common, and scarcely a boot was seen. The covering of the feet in winter was chiefly moccasins made of deer-skins and shoe-packs of tanned leather. Some wore shoes, but not common in very early times. In the summer the greater portion of the young people, male and female, and many of the old, went barefoot. The substantial and universal outside wear was the blue linsey hunting shirt. This was an excellent garment. It was made with wide sleeves, open before, of ample size so as to envelop the body almost twice around. Sometimes it had a large cape, which answered well to save the shoulders from the rain. A belt was mostly used to keep the garment close around the person, and, nevertheless, there was nothing tight about it to hamper the body. It was often fringed, and at times the fringe was composed of red and other gay colors. The belt, frequently, was sewed to the hunting shirt. The vest was mostly made with alum, copperas and madder, boiled with the bark of trees, in such manner and proportions as the old ladies prescribed.
The pioneer's wife, without whom a pioneer's life would have been a wretched failure, made the men's clothing and moccasins of dressed deer-skins, and spun and wove the home-made cotton for herself and daughters. Eight yards were sufficient, and a dress would last a year or two. Sometimes ginghams and calico were purchased, but it was only the rich that could indulge in such costly goods in which to array their wives and daughters. An extra quality and a brighter color of homespun was the general Sunday meeting dress of the women of that day, and when the men wanted to put on style they purchased an article of cloth called Kentucky jeans. But durability and not style was the forte of the old pioneer, and the dress of deer-skin and the coon-skin cap were really the rage for solid wear. A bonnet, composed of calico or some gay goods, was worn on the head when they were in the open air. Jewelry on the pioneer ladies was uncommon; a gold ring was an ornament only now and then seen.
The advent of steam, of railroads and telegraph, and the rapid advance in manufactures have driven home manufactures from the household by lower-priced fabrics of distant mills.
One of the greatest troubles that the pioneers had to contend with was the extreme scarcity of salt, and the high price of that essential article often caused severe privation. At the time of the first settlement of the Scioto Valley, it was sold for $6 to $8 a bushel, and had to be packed on horseback a great distance. As early as 1788, when the first colony arrived at Marietta, it had been rumored that salt springs existed on a stream, since called Salt Creek, which flows into the Muskingum River, near Duncan's Falls, Muskingum County, and even during the Indian war a party was sent up the river from Marietta to search for them. The exploration was made at great risk, but the springs were not found. White men, held as prisoners by the Indians, had seen them make salt at these springs, and had noted their locality. An accurate description of the country having been gained from these persons, another exploring party of hunters and experienced woodsmen were sent out, a year or two later, to find the springs. This time they were successful, and brought back with them a small supply of the precious supply of the precious article. In 1796 a joint stock company was formed of fifty shareholders, at $1.50 each, making a capital of $75, with the object of buying castings, erecting a furnace, and manufacturing salt. Twenty-four kettles were bought at Pittsburg, and transported by water to Duncan's Falls, and thence, on pack-horses, to the salt springs, seven miles further. A well was dug, near the edge of the stream, about fifteen feet deep, to the bed rock, through the crevices of which the salt water oozed and rose, though not very abundantly. The trunk of a hollow sycamore tree was fixed in the well to exclude the fresh water. A furnace was built, of two ranges with twelve kettles each. The water was raised from the well by a sweep and pole. The company was divided into ten sections of five men each, who worked in turns for two weeks at a time, and the works were thus kept in operation day and night, the men standing regular watches. They were thus able to make about 100 pounds of salt in twenty-four hours, using about 1,600 gallons of water. This was the first attempt to manufacture salt in Ohio, and the product was a very inferior and costly article. For several years all of the salt used by the pioneers of the valley was brought from these works, and from the Scioto salt licks, in Jackson County, on pack-horses, of which an extended notice will be found in the Jackson County department of this work. Yet time changes all things, and the primitive modes of early days gave way to the inventive genius of the people, but those days were full of incidents in the struggle of life, and the progress of civilization at the hands of the pioneers was slow, but still onward.
In one respect the early settlers had a few advantages not possessed to-day, or by those of a generation back. While they endured the privations with which they were encompassed with heroic fortitude and a patience which exalted them, these old-time heroes and heroines could get the necessaries of life at a good deal less cost than their favored children and grandchildren of this day; and not only that, but there was any quantity of land lying around loose at Government price, $1.25 per acre, and excellent swamp land, all but the swamp, at 25 cents per acre-twelve months' time and county warrants taken at par- anxious to be tickled with a hoe, that it might laugh with a harvest. The financial crash of 1837 had completely demoralized values; property shrank to such amazing smallness that many people were in doubt as to whether they possessed anything except their lives and their families. The wildcat banks rapidly climbed the golden stairs, and their assets went glimmering. The necessaries of life were cheap, and those who suffered most in those days were of the class called wealthy, excepting, perhaps, the managers of the wildcat banks above spoken of. The farmer and mechanic here in the West had little to complain of. Their wants were few and supplies cheap; if corn was at a low figure, tea, coffee, sugar and whisky were also cheap. The business depression brought on by the financial collapse referred to continued for several years, and still hovered over the land as late as 1842. In 1839 and 1840 prices of goods still ruled very low, and the prospect of an early rise seemed far from encouraging.
Cows sold from $5 to $10, and payable, perhaps, in trade at that. Horses brought for the best about $40, but could be bought from about $25 up for a fair animal. Working oxen were from $25 to $30 per yoke, and considered down to almost nothing. Hogs, dressed, sold from $1.25 to $1.50 each. Garnered wheat brought from 35 to 40 cents a bushel; corn 50 cents per barrel, delivered, and a good veal calf 75 cents. You could go to the woods and cut down a bee-tree, gather the honey, bring it to market and get 25 cents a gallon for it. And such honey, so clear and transparent that even the bee-keeper of to-day, with his patent hive and Italian swarms, would have had a look of envy covering his face on beholding it. The wild deer came forward and gave up his hams at 25 cents each, and the settler generally clinched the bargain by taking the skin also, and when not cut up into strings or used for patches brought another quarter, cash or trade, as demanded. It was a habit in those days for farmers to help each other, and their sons to work in the harvest field or help do the logging to prepare for the seedling of new land. This was a source of wealth to the sons of the early settlers and to those farmers who were unable to purchase a home. They received from 25 to 50 cents per day and their board. That was wealth, the foundation of their future prosperity. It was the first egg laid to hatch them a farm, and it was guarded with scrupulous care. Economy was often whittled down to a very fine point before they could be induced to touch that nest egg, the incipient acre of the first farm.
This covers a good deal of what the old pioneer had or received for labor and farm produce.
As the settlers increased country stores began to make their appearance at crossroads, followed by the necessary concomitant, the blacksmith shop. Portsmouth and Chillicothe became somewhat of trade centers, and Piketon also had a local habitation and a name as early as 1814, and Jackson C. H., a few years later, but the country stores flourished outside of these points, because they were as much a convenience as a necessity. Their stocks consisted of salt, tea, tobacco, cotton, yarns, iron for horseshoes, nails, etc., powder, lead, shot, and steel points, for plows. Added to these and considered staple articles, there was kept a moderate supply of calico, ginghams, domestic cotton, Kentucky jeans, boots and shoes, etc., with a fair article of corn whisky.
These country stores were strongly built, and the logs of which they were composed hewed flat on the inside. The goods were placed in the most convenient places to get at. Boxes were utilized as counters, and while there was but little display in those good old times, little was desired. If the goods they wanted weren't there, it didn't make much difference to the people whether they were on shelves, or even had shelves. The smaller merchants purchased the goods at Pittsburg or Marietta, while these in their turn ran flat-boats down the river to New Orleans.
Settlers flowed in. The early years of the present century gave life and progress to the Scioto Valley. New arrivals made the woods echo with the sound of their axes, and cabins sprang up as if by magic. The miles which had been between cabins had become reduced so that once in awhile neighbors would be within a mile, or even half a mile, of each other, and "raising bees" became common, and were really enjoyed. A new comer would cut the logs for his cabin, haul them to the ground ready to be put up, and then announce a "raising bee." The neighbors came from miles around, and the way that cabin went up into a square shape, capped with weight poles, was a "caution to slow coaches." And they sang at their work:
The floors are made of puncheon,
The roof is held by weighted poles,
And then we 'hang off' for luncheon."
This would be followed by a swig from the little brown jug, kept especially for the occasion, and then with a hearty shake of the hand and a "wish you well," the neighbors left the new comer to put the finishing touches to his cabin. And this was a "raising bee" of ye olden times.
The pioneers were very few who had any kind of stock when they settled in this valley. Horses were brought by a good many and oxen for work, but of cattle, sheep and hogs there were but few, except, perhaps, cows. Some were soon brought in as it was found they could subsist almost entirely on mast, or other wild food. They were slaughtered in early winter and what was not needed for present use was salted down for use in the hot months when venison was not fit for use.
Cattle were also introduced, but the pioneers experienced very little trouble in providing for them. The forests were filled with budding sprouts while the low and open lands were densely covered with long grass which furnished splendid provender till late in the winter. Toward spring, when the early buds began to swell, they were preferable, and if the under-brush became stripped, large beech trees were frequently felled for the cattle to trim up. The winters at this date were, however, much milder than at present, as is definitely known. Snows scarcely ever remained longer than three days, and the record of the weather kept at Ludlow Station, in the southwest corner of the State, shows a vast difference in the variation of temperature of the winters from 1804 to 1811, as shown by these records, was bout 40 (degrees) Fahr., while the lowest temperature was 8 (degrees) below zero. Later experiences show a great difference in the variations of the weather, from the heat of summer to the cold of winter, brought about evidently by the clearing of forests, draining of swamps and other changes incident to advanced civilization.
The traveler always found a welcome at the pioneer's cabin. It was never full. Although there might be already a guest for every puncheon, there was still "room for one more," and a wider circle would be made for the newcomer at the log fire. If the stranger was in search of land he was doubly welcome, and his host would volunteer to show him all the "first-rate claims in this neck of woods," going with him for days, showing the corners and advantages of every "Congress tract" within a dozen miles of his cabin.
To his neighbors the pioneer was equally liberal. If a deer was killed, the choicest bits were sent to his nearest neighbor, a half dozen miles away, perhaps. When a "shoat" was butchered, the same custom prevailed. If a new comer came in too late for "cropping," the neighbors would supply his table with just the same luxuries they themselves enjoyed, and in as liberal quantity, until a crop could be raised. When a new-comer had located his claim, the neighbors for miles around would assemble at the site for his proposed cabin and aid him in "gittin'" it up. One party with axes would cut down the trees and hew the logs; another with teams would haul the logs to the ground; another party would "raise" the cabin; while several of the old men would "rive the clapboards" for the roof. By night the little forest domicile would be up and ready for a "house-warming," which was the dedicatory occupation of the house, when music and dancing and festivity would be enjoyed at full height. The next day the new arrival would be as well situated as his neighbors.
This wild recreation was, in some respects, a peculiar one, and many sturdy backwoods. Men gloried in this art. He would carefully watch, as it filled itself with the product of some flower and notice the direction taken by it as it struck a "bee-line" for its home, which, when found, would generally be high up in the hollow of a tree. This tree would then be marked, and in September, or a little later, the tree would be cut and the honey secured, and pretty active work was required to save it from wasting, as sometimes the tree would be shattered in its fall. Several gallons have been known to have been taken from a single tree. Thus by a very little work, pleasant at that, the early settlers could keep themselves in honey the year round, and thus save buying sugar at the store. By the time the honey was a year old, and sometimes sooner, it would granulate, but this did not interfere with its quality.
Not the least of the hardships of pioneer life was the procuring of bread. The first settlers had to be supplied the first year from other sources than their own lands, and the first crop, however abundant, gave only partial relief, there being no mills at hand to grind the grain. Hence the necessity of grinding by hand power, and very many families were very poorly provided with means for doing this. The old grater and the wooden mortar burned in the end of a log did duty for many months ere either a hand-mill or horse-mill was found in the country. Soon after the country became more generally settled enterprising men embarked in the milling business, selecting sites on streams that were large and rapid enough to furnish the power. Mills were considered a public necessity, and were permitted to be erected wherever a desirable water-power could be secured. Those who lived contiguous to the rivers or streams did not have far to go, but those who located in the country back had many hard days' travel "going to the mill." When it became a day's journey or more, it was considered quite a job, and sometimes swollen streams, without ferries or bridges would keep them several days on their journey. Not only did the old settler go to mill, but he managed to lay in some supplies at the store which was generally near at hand.
The principal wild animals found in the State were the deer, wolves, bear, wild cat, fox, raccoon, woodchuck, or ground hog, skunk, mink, weasel, muskrat, opossom, rabbit and squirrel; and the principal feathered game were the quail, wild turkey, hawk, turkey buzzard, crow and blackbird, while the woods would be filled by smaller songsters who made the hills and vales resound with the music of their voices. Some of these animals and birds were the only meat of the early settlers, but they gave way at last to the hog and the chicken, and the unerring aim of the woodsman's rifle. The wolf was the most troublesome animal, it being the common enemy of the sheep, and sometimes attacking other domestic animals and even human beings. Their hideous howling at night was so constant and terrifying that they seemed, almost, to do more mischief by that annoyance then by direct attack. To effect the destruction of these animals the authorities offered a bounty for their scalps, and this brought about a
The "circular wolf hunt," in which all the men and boys would turn out on the appointed day, was generally considered the most effectual as also the most exciting method to get rid of these pests and depredators. The band of hunters would form in a circle comprising several miles square of territory, and then with their horses and dogs close up gradually toward a common center of the field of operation, gathering in not only wolves, but also deer and other animals. Five and sometimes ten wolves were captured and killed in a single day. The men were organized in true army regulation style, and posted in the meaning of every signal and the rule to follow. Guns were seldom allowed on such occasions, as their use, while dangerous in a formed circle, was also likely to frighten and excite the animals to a more dangerous degree. The dogs, which were held by their keepers until the proper time arrived, were depended upon in the final slaughter, and when the signal came they were turned loose, when they rushed to the center of battle, followed and cheered by the excited hunters. They would fight and hold the animals until the men got a chance to get in their work. The scene which would then transpire in the center of the battle could not easily be described, but it was exciting and dangerous enough to satisfy the most reckless.
In pioneer times snakes were numerous, such as the rattlesnake, adder, blood snake and many varieties of large blue and green snakes, milk snake, garter and water snakes, etc., etc. If, on meeting some of these, you would retreat, they would chase you very fiercely; but if you would turn and give them battle, they would immediately crawl away with all possible speed, hide in the grass and weeds, and wait for a "greener" customer. These really harmless snakes served to put people on their guard against the more dangerous and venomous kinds.
It was the practice in some sections of the country to turn out in companies, with spades, mattocks and crow-bars, attack the principal snake dens and slay large numbers of them. In early spring the snakes were somewhat torpid and easily captured. Scores of rattlesnakes were sometimes frightened out of a single den, which, as soon as they showed their heads through the crevices of the rocks, were dispatched, and left to be devoured by the numerous wild hogs of that day. Some of the fattest of these snakes were taken to the house and oil extracted from them, and their glittering skins were saved as specifics for rheumatism.
Another method was to fix a heavy stick over the door of their dens, with a long grapevine attached, that one at a distance could plug the entrance to the den when the snakes were all out sunning themselves. Then a large company of citizens, on hand by appointment, could kill scores of the reptiles in a few minutes.
These implements as used by the pioneer farmers of the State would in this age of improvement be great curiosities. The plow used was called the "barshare" plow; the iron point consisted of a bar of iron about two feet long, and a broad share of iron welded to it. Sometimes they were made shorter to suit the ground in which they were to be used. At the extreme point was a coulter that passed through a beam six or seven feet long, to which were attached handles of the required length. The mold-bard was a wooden one split out of winding or cross- grained timber, or hewed into shape, in order to turn the soil over. Sown seed was dragged in by drawing over the ground saplings with bushy tops. Instead of reapers and mowers for harvesting, the sickle and cradle were used, and the wooden rake. The grain was threshed out with a flail, or trodden out by horses or oxen.
Hogs were always dressed before they were taken to market. The farmer, if forehanded, would call in his neighbors some bright fall or winter morning to help "kill hogs." Immense kettles of water were heated; a sled or tow covered with loose boards or plank, constituted the platform on which the hog was cleaned, and was placed near an inclined hogshead in which the scalding was done; a quilt was thrown over the top of the latter to retain the heat; from the crotch of some convenient tree a projecting pole was rigged, to hold the animals for disemboweling and thoroughly cleaning. When everything was arranged, the best shot of the neighborhood loaded his rifle, and the work of killing was commenced. It was considered a disgrace to make a hog "squeal" by bad shooting or by a "shoulder-stick," that is, running the point of the butcher-knife into the shoulder instead of the cavity of the breast. As each hog fell, the "sticker"" mounted him and plunged thebutcher-knife into his throat; two persons would then catch him by the hind legs, drew him up to the scalding tub, which had just been filled with boiling hot water with a shovelful of good green-wood ashes thrown in; in this the carcass was plunged and moved round a minute or so until the hair would slip off easily, then placed on the platform where the cleaner would take hold of him and clean him as quickly as possible, with knives and other sharp-edged implements; then two stout men would take him up between them, and a third man to manage the gambrel (which was a stout stick about two feet long, sharpened at both ends, to be inserted between the muscles of the hind legs at or near the hock joint), the animal would be elevated to the pole, where the work of cleaning was finished.
After the slaughter was over and the hogs had had time to cool, such as were intended for domestic use were cut up, the lard "tried" out by the women of the household, and the surplus hogs taken to market, while the weather was cold, if possible. In those days almost every merchant had, at the rear end of his place of business or at some convenient building, a "pork-house," and would buy the pork of his customers and of such others as would sell to him, and cut it for the market. This gave employment to a large number of hands in every village, who could cut and pack pork all winter. The hauling of all this to the river would also give employment to a large number of teams, and the manufacture of pork barrels would keep many coopers employed.
There was one feature in this method of packing and marketing pork that made the country in the fall and winter a paradise for the poor man. Spare ribs, tenderloins, pigs' heads and pigs' feet were not considered of much value, and were freely given to all who would take them. If a barrel was taken to any pork house and salt furnished, the barrel was filled and salted down gratuitously. So great in many cases was the quantity of spare ribs, etc., to be disposed of, that they were hauled away in wagon loads and dumped in the woods out of town or some convenient ravine.
Money was a scarce article, and was not seen in large quantities, often, among the settlers. Indeed, unless to pay for their land or invest in a yoke of oxen, they had little use for it, as they could transact most all their business about as well without it, on the "barter" system, wherein a good deal of tact in making exchanges was often displayed. When it failed in any instance, long credits contributed to the convenience of the citizens. But for taxes and postage neither the barter nor the credit system would answer, and often letters were suffered to remain a long time in the postoffice for the want of the 25 cents demanded by the Government.
Peltries came neared being money than anything else, as it came to be custom to estimate the value of everything in peltries. Such an article was worth so many peltries. Even some tax collectors and postmasters were known to take peltries and exchange them for the money required by the Government.
When the settlers first came into the wilderness, some supposed that their hard struggle would be principally over after the first year; but alas! They often looked for "easier times next year" for many years before realizing them, and then they came in so slyly as to be almost imperceptible. The sturdy pioneer thus learned to bear hardships, privations and hard living, as good soldiers do. As the facilities for making money were not great, they lived pretty well satisfied in an atmosphere of good, social, friendly feeling. But among the early settlers who came to this State were many who, accustomed to the advantages of an older civilization, to churches, schools and society, became speedily home-sick and dissatisfied. They would remain perhaps one summer, or at most two, then selling whatever claim with its improvements they had made, would return to the older States, spreading reports of the hardships endured by the settlers here and the disadvantages which they had found, or imagined they had found, in the country. The slight improvements they had made were sold to men of sterner stuff, who were the sooner able to surround themselves with the necessities of life, while their unfavorable report deterred other weaklings from coming. The men who stayed and were willing to endure privations belonged to a different guild; they were heroes every one-men to whom hardships were things to be overcome, and privations endured for the sake of posterity, and they never shrank from this duty. It is to those hardy pioneers who could endure that the people of to-day own the wonderful improvements made, and the developments, almost miraculous, that have brought this commonwealth in the past eighty years from a wilderness to the front rank among the States of this great nation.
Though struggling through the pressure of poverty and privation, the early settlers planted among them the school-house at the earliest practical period. So important an object as the education of their children they did not defer until they could build more comely and convenient houses. They were for a time content with such as corresponded with their rude dwellings, but soon better buildings and accommodations were provided. As may be readily supposed, the accommodations of the earliest schools were not good. Sometimes school was taught in a room of a large or double built log cabin, but oftener in a log house built for the purpose. A mud-and-stick chimney in one end of the building, with earthen hearth and a fire-place wide and deep enough to receive a four to six foot backlog, and smaller wood to match, served for warning purposes in winter and a kind of conservatory in summer. For windows, part of a log was cut out in two sides of the building, and may be a few lights of eight by ten glass set in, or the aperture might be covered over with greased paper. Writing desks consisted of heavy oak plank or a hewed slab laid upon wooden pins driven into the wall. The four-legged slab benches were in front of these, and the pupils when not writing would sit with their backs against the front of these, sharp edge of the writing-desks. The floor was also made out of these slabs or "puncheons," laid upon log sleepers. Everything was rude and plain; but many of America's greatest men have gone out from just such schoolhouses to grapple with the world, and make names for themselves and reflect honor upon their country. So with many of the most eloquent and efficient preachers.
The chief public evening entertainment for the first thirty or forty years of pioneer existence was the celebrated "spelling-school." Both young people and old looked forward to the next spelling-school with as much anticipation and anxiety as we nowadays look forward to a general Fourth-of-July celebration; and when the time arrived the whole neighborhood, yea, and sometimes several neighborhoods, would flock together to the scene of academical combat, where the excitement was often more intense than had been experienced. It was far better, of course, when there was good sleighing; then the young folks would turn out in high glee and be fairly beside themselves. The jollity is scarcely equaled at the present day by anything in vogue.
Next to the night spelling-school the singing-school was aan occasion for much jollity,wherein it was difficult for the average singing-master to preserve order, as many went more for fun than for music. This species of evening entertainment, in its introduction to the West, was later than the spelling- school, and served, as it were, as the second step toward the more modern civilization. Good sleighing weather was of course almost a necessity for the success of these schools, but how many of them have been prevented by mud and rain. Perhaps a greater part of the time from November to April the roads would be muddy and often half frozen, which would have a very dampening effect upon the souls as well as the bodies of the young people who longed for a good time on such occasions.
As an illustration of the painstaking which characterized pioneer life, we quote the following remark of an old setter: "The manner in which I used to work in those perilous times was as follows: On all occasions I carried my rifle, tomahawk and butcher-knife, with a loaded pistol in my belt. When I went to plow I laid my gun on the plowed ground, and stuck a stick by it for a mark, so that I could get it quick in case it was wanted. I had two good dogs; I took one into the house leaving the other out. The one outside was expected to give the alarm, which would cause the one inside to bark, by which I was awakened, having my arms always loaded. I kept my horse in a stable close to the house, having a port-hold so that I could shoot to the stable door. During two years I never went from home with any certainty of returning, not knowing the minute I might receive a ball from an unknown hand."
The history of pioneer life generally presents the dark side of the picture; but the toils and privations of the early settlers were not a series of unmitigated sufferings. No; for while the fathers and mothers toiled hard, they were not averse to a little relaxation, and had their seasons of fun and enjoyment. They contrived to do something to break the monotony of their daily life and furnish them a good hearty laugh. Among the more general forms of amusements were the "quilting-bee," "corn-husking," "apple-paring," "log- rolling," and "house-raising." Our young readers will doubtless be interested in a description of these forms of amusement, when labor was made to afford fun and enjoyment to all participating. The "quilting-bee," as its name implies, was when the industrious qualities of the busy little insect that "improves each shining hour" were exemplified in the manufacture of quilts for the household. In the afternoon ladies for miles around gathered at an appointed place, and while their tongues would cease to play, the hand was busily engaged in making the quilt, the desire being always manifested to get it out as quickly as possible, for then the fun would begin. In the evening the gentlemen came and the hours would then pass swiftly by in playing games or dancing. "Corn- huskings" were when both sexes united in the work. They usually assembled in a large barn which was arranged for the occasion; and when each gentleman had selected a lady partner the husking began. When a lady found a red ear she was subject to a kiss from her partner; when a gentleman found one he was allowed to kiss his lady partner. After the corn was all husked a good supper was served; then the "old folks" would leave, and the remainder of the evening was spent in the dance and in having a general good time. The recreation afforded to the young people on the annual recurrence of these festive occasions was as highly enjoyed, and quite as innocent, as the amusements of the present boasted age of refinement and culture.
Ohio is a grand State, in many respects second to none in the Union, and in almost everything that goes to make a live, prosperous community, not far behind the best. Beneath her fertile soil is coal enough to supply State for generations; her harvests are bountiful; she has a medium climate, and many other things that make her people contented, prosperous and happy; but she owes much to those who opened up these avenues that have led to her present condition and happy surroundings. Unremitting toil and labor have driven off the sickly miasmas that brooded over swampy prairies. Energy and perseverance have peopled every section of her wild lands, and changed them from wastes and deserts to gardens of beauty and profit. Where but a few years ago the barking wolves made the night hideous with their wild shrieks and howls, now is heard only the lowing and bleating of domestic animals. Only a half century ago the wild whoop of the Indian rent the air where now are heard the engine and rumbling trains of cars, bearing away to markets the products of our labor and soil. Then the savage built his rude hut on the spot where now rise the dwellings and school- houses and church spires of civilized life. How great the transformation? This change has been brought about by the incessant toil and aggregated labor of thousands of tired hands and anxious hearts, and the noble aspirations of such men and women as make any century great. What will another half century accomplish? There were few, very few, of these old pioneers yet lingering on the shores of time as connecting links of the past with the present. What must their thoughts be as with their dim eyes they view the scenes that surround them? We often hear people talk about the old-fogy ideas and fogy ways and want of enterprise on the part of the old men who have gone through the experiences of pioneer life. Sometimes, perhaps, such remarks are just, but, considering the experiences, education, and entire life of such men, such remarks are better unsaid. They have had their trials, misfortunes, hardships and adventures, and shall we now, as they are passing far down the western declivity of life, and many of them gone, point to them the finger of derision and laugh and sneer at the simplicity of their ways? Let us rather cheer them up, revere and respect them, for beneath those rough exteriors beat hearts as noble as ever throbbed in the human breast. These veterans have been compelled to live for weeks upon hominy and, if bread at all, it was bread made from corn ground in hand-mills, or poounded up with mortars. Their children have been destitute of shoes during the winter; their families had no clothing except what was carded, spun, woven and made into garments with their own hands; schools they had none; afflicted with sickness incident to all new countries, sometimes the entire family at once; luxuries of life they had none; the auxiliaries, improvements, inventions and labor-saving machinery of to-day they had not; and what they possessed they obtained by the hardest labor and individual exertions, yet they bore these hardships and privations without murmuring, hoping for better times to come, and often, too, with but little prospect of realization.
As before mentioned, the changes written on every hand are most wonderful. It has been but forescore years since the white man began to exercise dominion over this region, erst the home of the red man, yet the visitor of to-day, ignorant of the past of the country, could scarcely be made to realize that within these years there has grown up a population of over 3,000,000 people, who in all the accomplishments of life are as far advanced as are the inhabitants of the older States. Schools, churches, colleges, palatial dwellings, beautiful grounds, large, well-cultivated and productive farms, as well as cities, towns, and busy manufactories, have grown up, and occupy the hunting grounds and camping places of the Indians, and in every direction there are evidences of wealth, comfort and luxury. There is but little left of the old landmarks. Advanced civilization and the progressive demands of revolving years have obliterated all traces of Indian occupancy, until they are only remembered in name.
In closing this section it would be well to impress on the minds of the reader the fact that a debt of gratitude is due to those who pioneered this State, which can be but partially repaid. Never grow unmindful of the peril and adventure, fortitude, self-sacrifice and heroic devotion so prominently displayed in their lives. As time sweeps on in its ceaseless flight, may the cherished memory of them lose none of its greenness, but may future generations alike cherish and perpetuate them with just devotion and gratitude.
Thus far the pioneer has been referred to as of the sterner sex, but were they the only pioneers in these once uncivilized regions? Was man the only one who suffered privation and want, who worked that a generation, then verging on manhood, might find the way "blazed" to the light of a higher civilization, and that a generation yet unborn might find the fruit of struggle in well-tilled fields, a full granary, and a home blessed with all the art and progress that a new era gave them? Was it in the culture and refinement of the people of a later day, who had received not only wealth descended from their forefathers, but those benefits which science had discovered hidden in the deep and dark mysteries of nature, and were they to thank men alone for the blessings around them? No! but high on the scroll of fame should the pioneer women of our land have their names emblazoned that generations yet to come, and for all time, may honor and bless the memory of the heroic women who gave themselves to the duties of a pioneer's life, and who proudly and uncomplainingly did the work which came before them, as only women could do it, smoothing their rugged lives with the light of an undying love, and proving in every way the equal of man in carrying forward the work of making a wilderness take upon itself the garb of civilization, and barren plains the wealth of fruitful fields and abundant harvests. Thus have the pioneer women worked and struggled, and the rude cabin to them was a home of love and happiness.
Rude and primitive as that cabin might be, with a floor of mother earth, simple and unadorned, there was found within its walls many a heroine of early days. Not in the palaces of the rich of what is called this enlightened era was more true life-like happiness found than in those lowly cabins. There was no waiting in those days for a home of splendor before man found his mate, but the heroes and heroines of those days joined hands and hearts, and helped each other down the rugged pathway of life. He went into the field to work, that he might supply the food necessary for life, while she worked on in her own sphere, furnishing her husband's cabin with smiles of a loving heart, greeting her partner with the evident work of willing hands, keeping her true and womanly talents in full play, not only in preparing the food for the family meal, but in spinning and weaving, cutting and making, not only her own clothing, but the garments of those who were of her household and under her loving care. Much has been written of the "old pioneer" and his struggles in the early years of his life, heavy trials, misfortunes, and ultimately his success, but little has been recorded of his noble companion, the light of his cabin, who cheered him in his misfortune, nursed him in sickness, and in health gave her whole strength to labor for their future welfare and happiness. There was little luxury or ease for the pioneer's wife of those early days, but whatever her destiny might be, it was met with a firm faith and a willingness to do her whole duty, living in the love of her husband and children and trusting in Providence to receive her final reward for the unceasing labor of years, well and nobly performed. Yes, there was something decidedly primitive in the building and furniture of those cabins of old. They were built one and a half stories high, in many cases, that they might have a "loft" to store away things, and sometimes to sleep in. The windows were covered by a light quilt to keep the wind and rain out; the puncheon floor was laid, the stick-and-mud chimney set up, a table and a chair or two, or stools made of split logs, with auger holes bored to put in the legs; some shelves made of the same material, holes bored and pins put in to hang up their clothes and other things, and that pioneer heroine was ready to meet her friends and neighbors and the world at large in a roomy and comfortable house.
Then it was discovered that woman's work was never done. The household was asleep. The tired husband and father was resting his weary limbs in dreamland; the children were tossing here and there on their beds, as restless children always do. Nature itself had gone to rest and the outer world was wrapped in darkness and gloom, but the nearly exhausted mother sewed on and on, and the midnight candle was still shedding its pale light over the work or the vigils of the loved and loving mother. And this is the record of the thousands of noble women, the female pioneers, whose daily presence, loving hearts, earnest work and keen judgment made the work of civilization and progress one of success. And the question has often been asked, "What would the men of olden times have done if the women of olden times had not been with them?" And the reply comes back, "Ah! Yes, what would they have done?"
These were the kind of women who made civilization a success, and brightened the pathway of material progress with the promise of a glorious future. There are a few yet living of that glorious pioneer band of women who gave their lives to the hard fate of a pioneer's wife. They bore their share of the trials, troubles, and labor of the times. They are deserving the love and veneration of all, and may their pathway to the unknown river be brightened by kind words and loving hearts. Let them glide softly and pleasantly down the river of Time, and let no regrets come from them of neglect or coldness. Their young days were days of hardship; let the evening of their life be bereft of care, peaceful and joyous.
Of those who are now sleeping the sleep that knows no waking, they did their duty nobly and well, and while their allotted time on earth has passed they have gone to a better world, a reward to all those whose life's pilgrimage had been worthily performed. And thus the pioneer women pass away. May they be ever blessed while living. One and all, living or dead, deserve a high and honored place in our country's history, and the compiler of the "History of the Lower Scioto Valley" gives this short tribute to their memory. Not that it is much, but that the lives of those who have done so much to bring this once wild valley to a land of civilization and Christianity has the veneration of the writer and of those he has met. And of those who have done before will he hold a cherished memory until he, too, joins the throng on the golden shore, where time ceases and eternity begins the endless round.
This and much more could be written, yet it is more or less familiar to all. The old pioneer in many cases, has departed to his long home; even the children of those days have passed their threescore years and then, yet with memories tenacious they have told of their childhood days until it has become an open book to all. Yet these pages are gathered together that with the future onward march of time, when memory has ceased and the last link broken that unites the present with the early days, then this work will be treasured as the missing link that should forever unite the pioneer of early history with the men and women of to-day.
The country grew and prospered under the strength of the brawny arm and endurance of her noble old pioneers. Civilization advanced, and material progress could be seen on every hand. School-houses were built; education and Christianity went hand in hand, for the school-house was also the church, and thus the pioneer sough enlightenment, and bowed before his Maker.
Such has been, in a measure, the history of the early pioneers of this beautiful country, and those who are living can look back with unabated interest to the days which tried the nerve, the muscle and the indomitable will of the fathers and mothers who had the infancy of the Lower Scioto Valley in their keeping.
In closing this part of our history, covering a little less than a quarter of a century of time, there has been something written founded upon tradition, but little of it in comparison with the vast array of facts gathered and compiled within its pages. The early pioneer made history, but knew little how to preserve it. This is a sad loss to the country. Those years and the lives and actions of the heroes and patriots then living, were of the greatest importance. Then it was that the foundation was laid upon which a noble and enduring superstructure was to be reared, and upon which the moral, physical and political future of the country was to rest.
There were no great stirring events or remarkable happenings, but it was a time of self-reliance, of persevering toil, of privations and of suffering that was endured with heroic fortitude. They believed in a future reward of successful labor and of the good time coming when the wooded hills and open prairies should resolve themselves into well-cultivated farms, their humble cabins into residences that would be fitting their improved financial condition and the advanced era in which they would live. They had come into the boundless wilderness poor in purse, but rich in faith, powerful in endurance, and their future was before them.