HISTORY OF RICHLAND COUNTY
Source: "Counties of Cumberland, Jasper and Richland, Illinois: Historical and Biographical"
F.A. Battey & Co, 1884
Submitted by B. Ziegenmeyer
THE EARLY SETTLEMENT
The immigration of southeastern Illinois pressed close upon the retreating savages. Under the treaty by which this region was ceded to the whites, the Indians held it as their hunting grounds until it was opened for settlement by the general government. Before this could be done the land must be surveyed, and although this was begun as early as 1814, it was four years later before the territory of Richland County was staked out.
The natives had no villages within the territory under consideration, but the game that found food and shelter here for years, attracted the native hunters. The Winnebagos, the Miamis, the Pottawatomies, and the Shawnees, were represented by roaming bands until the early part of 1818, when they departed never to return in any considerable numbers. The country within the present boundaries of Richland County, was well calculated to attract a people accustomed to frontier life, and no sooner was it open for pre-emption, than considerable numbers gathered here from the surrounding country. In the absence of well established lines of travel, the rivers formed the easiest means of transportation, and it was along these, that the early population gathered. The " Wabash country," which included the margin of that stream both in Indiana and Illinois, was noted far and near. The volunteers who had taken part in Clarke's campaigns, spread the reports of its fertility and beauty far and near, and caused a large inflow of population from the south, as rapidly as the Indian title could be extinguished. The war of 1812 checked this flow of immigration for a short time, but even the dangers to which pioneers at that time were exposed, did not prevent their coming on to this debatable ground. Thus it was, that in 1814, the Lower Wabash was found so generally in possession of the whites, that the counties of White and Edwards were formed and organized. In the same year, Palmyra was laid out, and the seat of justice for all this region of the State extending to the Lake, established there. The projectors of this village were enterprising men, and so stimulated and attracted immigration, that the town took on a rapid growth. In 1820, the town was one of the most noted places in the West. It had stores, shops, a bank, and a jail, beside a number of professional men. All these evidences of thrift attracted settlers to this region of country. Up to about 1816 the principal settlements in Edwards County were the Compton settlement, composed of six or eight families, located in the heavy timber about three miles above Palmyra, the French settlement at Saint Francisville, on the Wabash, some families at Bowman's Hill, on the west bank of the Wabash, opposite to Vincennes, some seventy five persons on La Motte Prairie, a half dozen families near York, a few at McAuley's on the Little Wabash, fourteen miles west of Olney, and others at Mount Carmel, Fort Barney, Decker's Prairie, Round Prairie, at McClary's Bluff and Coffee Island. These settlements, it will be observed, were in the territory now embraced by the limits of Wabash, Lawrence, Crawford, Clark, Clay and Edwards counties, and along the Wabash River, principally, or on some stream then navigable for flatboats, or hoped to be so. Richland County was thus left untouched, because it presented less attractions, rather than any respect for the rights the Indians might claim under their treaties. Many of these settlements were made as early as 1810 or 1812, but there was no disposition to venture into the interior until the pacification of the Indians after the war of 1812-14.
THE PIONEERS OF RICHLAND COUNTY
With all this vigorous development to the south and east of the territory of Richland County, it was not to be expected that the tide of immigration setting toward the West, would long be restricted to such narrow bounds. Many of the first comers were already feeling crowded, and the hunters were beginning to make longer and longer excursions to the interior, and the reports of the numerous streams, the fine timber, the small prairies and rolling character of the land, began to create a desire to take possession of the land. This territory was pleasantly divided between prairie and timber land in nearly equal proportions, the larger part, perhaps, being in timber. The prairies were generally small, the timber skirting the streams sent out spurs in such a way as to completely encircle them, and afforded the most desirable location for a home that could be imagined in the mind of a pioneer. Fox Prairie, extending through the county between the Big Muddy and the Fox River timbers, was the largest one in the county, and was circumscribed on either end in adjoining counties. In the northeast corner of Preston Township, was a spur of the Grand Prairie, from which a line of open country extended to the Lake. Stringto Prairie was found in the northeast corner of German Township and the adjoining county of Lawrence, and had an area of some thirty square miles. In Claremont Township a strip of prairie is formed by the Bugaboo Creek, the head waters of the Bonpas and Fox rivers, which extends in an irregular direction southwesterly through Claremont and Madison townships, and is essentially one, though sufficiently divided by sparse timber to acquire three names, Christy, Calhoun and Sugar Creek, beginning with its northern terminus. It was on the edge of these several prairies that the first settlements gathered.
It is difficult to learn who was the first permanent settler in Richland County. It is the belief of some, that Thaddeus Morehouse came in 1815, and William Dummet about 1816, and they may have been the first, but it is probable that if the date of each family's coming was accurately known, so closely did they come in about this time, that several would be in the front rank. Lloyd Rawlings came when a lad of thirteen to Lawrence County, in 1815, but his residence in what is now Richland, does not date earlier than 1828. He was longer in this region than any man now living in the county, but at this writing he has just passed away, and it may not be inappropriate to add a short sketch of his career as it appears in the papers.
Mr. Rawlings was born in the State of Ohio, in Greauga County, in the year 1802. He emigrated to Lawrence County, Ill., which at that time comprehended the eastern half of Richland County. He was married to Matilda Ruark, in 1828. In April, 1849, he, with eleven others from Richland County, went the overland route to California, and there, whilst with one O. Haye s, deer hunting, was attacked by a grizzly bear. He and Hayes had separated at the head of a small chaparral, to meet at the other extremity. The bear retreating from Hayes encountered Mr. Rawlings. So close were they, that before Mr. Rawlings could bring his gun to his shoulder to fire, the bear, rearing on his hind feet, struck Mr. Rawlings' gun from his shoulder with a blow of his paw, at the same time prostrating Mr. Rawlings, who only had time to say, " Oh! Hayes!" when the bear, placing one foot on his breast, took his whole face within his extended jaws, the upper teeth closing on the top of the skull, and the lower teeth beneath the lower jaw, but being old and the teeth blunt, whilst Mr. Rawlings ' lower jaw and cheek bone were broken, the blunt upper tusks slipped over the skull down his forehead and face, scraping the bone. Hayes had heard the cry, and rushing up, the noise of his approach caused the bear to raise his head and turn towards Hayes, who fired on the bear, shooting him through the neck. The bear fell, as Hayes supposed, dead. Mr. Rawlings raised his gory face, with one protruding eyeball, and remarked to Hayes, " You have killed the bear, but the bear has killed me." Hayes placed his friend on one of their mules, and escorted him to camp, where, after careful treatment, he recovered, to outlive by twenty years, his rescuer. The bear was an enormous brute, weighing upwards of 1,000 pounds. He bore the marks of this accident to the day of his death.
While a few may have reached Richland County in 1816 or 1817, the larger number of the earlier families came in 1818. It appears that the Indian right to this territory expired at this time, though there is no reason to believe that it was any consideration of this sort that restrained the pioneers from settling here. At this time the Evans family, consisting of several boys and a widowed mother, settled on the east side of Fox Prairie. This family was from Kentucky originally, and had located on Allison Prairie opposite Vincennes, some years before.
Here the father died, and the family consisting of several boys began to feel that they must have more room, where each could make a farm for himself. The land had not then been surveyed, but they chose a site on the old trace near Sugar Creek, a branch of the Fox River, and began their improvements. A striking incident illustrative of the close succession of the whites to the rights of the savage, was the first home of the Evans family. They followed the old trail from Vincennes to Saint Louis, till it merged in the old trace from Louisville, with no clear idea of where they would permanently locate, but at this point they found an Indian wigwam so recently abandoned that the fire had not yet died out, and, rekindling the expiring blaze, they took possession of the camp and prepared to build a permanent home. In the following winter, the surveyors reached this point, and established the southwest corner of Section 1, Township 3, Range 9, east of the third meridian, right in the midst of their improvements. The lines thus established did not suit their plans, and in the following year the boys separated, taking other lands within the limits of Noble Township.
The general survey of the county seems to have been the signal for a considerable immigration of the unsettled portions of surrounding communities. There was a natural hesitation before, to begin improvements which cost a good deal of labor, when there was a risk that the survey would show that the results of their labor could only be secured by a larger purchase than they were able to make,. and hence when this doubt was removed by fixed lines, there was a general movement on the part of those who had been waiting only for this consummation. It is difficult to definitely fix upon the date when the various settlements were begun at the different points, but most of them were begun in 1818 or 1819. The old trace road was largely instrumental in determining the location on of many. Money was a difficult thing to get, and the pioneer took advantage of every circumstance that promised to bring it within his reach. To the earliest settlers, the entertainment of travelers was the surest resource, and at the same time the most profitable method. Coon hunting and trapping brought reasonably sure returns, but involved an expenditure of time which was needed upon the farm. The tavern made demands only upon such supplies as the frontier farm abundantly furnished, and was conducted at an early day largely by the women. It was such considerations that brought the early settlement along the trace road. Others were drawn here from the fact that land thus placed was more valuable from its nearness to an outlet to market. Among the earliest to settle on the line of the " trace road " was Thaddeus Morehouse . He was a native of Vermont, from whence he emigrated to Ohio, and thence to Indiana, finally reaching this section about 1818, and settling on Section 31, in Olney Township, where he kept tavern for a number of years. Benjamin Bogart was another early settler; a native of East Tennessee, who fixed his residence just west of Morehouse about the same time. Bryant Bullard , a native of North Carolina, settled on Section 6, in Claremont, on this road, with John and Amos . The latter was the second blacksmith in the county, purchasing the tools of Thomas Gardner , who opened the first shop in the county. James Elliot , a native of the same State, settled east of Claremont village, but subsequently came to the site of Olney, and entered land, where he lived and died. Lot Basden was another pioneer from North Carolina, and located on Section 2, in Claremont Township.
On Sugar Creek Prairie, Sections 23, 24, 25 and 26, Robert and Neal Carpenter , James and Charles Hensley , Daniel Williams , John Clark , William Hughs , George Cross , John Crawford and Marcus Wilson settled in 1818, and in the following year this settlement was increased by the addition of James Parker and Abraham Morrell , and in 1820 by Thomas Mason , William Nash and his brother. East of this settlement, was another in the timber of Bonpas Township, about two miles and a half southeast of Spencer's old mill. This consisted of the families of and William George Higgins , of New England, Reason Ruark , of Ohio, and Spencer . James Richards , of Virginia, settled on Calhoun Prairie. When a lad of sixteen years he ran away from home, and joined General Wayne's army in 1794. While with the army, he cut the first tree for the block-house built on the site of Cincinnati. He subsequently came to Edwards County and settled here, where he died a short time after 1840. On Calhoun Prairie, in the southwest corner of Claremont Township, a settlement was formed about 1818 by Hugh Calhoun , Sr. , and H. Calhoun, Jr . , T homas Gardnes , George Cunningham and Joshua Johnson , sons-in-law of Calhoun. The Calhouns were natives of South Carolina, and neighbors and relatives of the famous statesman, John C. Calhoun . Gardner was a native of Georgia, and the first blacksmith in the county. John and Richard Philips , from Indiana, were in the settlement, and some years later the influential family of Reed s, from Ohio, were residents here. Stringtown Prairie numbered among the early settlements of this county, as well as that of Jasper. Here were the Crabtrees and Mattinglys , Samuel Butler and Charles Studerville.
On the west side of Fox River, in Section 5 of Olney Township, William Dummet was an early settler, and in 1820, Elijah Nelson . The latter was a native of South Carolina, but came with his father to Tennessee, and thence to Indiana. He was quite a bee hunter, and made one or two trips into this region in quest of his special game. In the fall of 1819, with his father and some neighbors, he made a trip and fixed on the site of Sailor's springs, in Clay County, for a new home. In the following year the family, consisting of Elijah, his sister, and father and mother, started for the site chosen, but the river being up they were forced to stop short of their destination, and with that adaptability to circumstances so characteristic of the pioneer, he decided to settle near the old trace road" on Section 5. Here, in 1821, he built his home, which was one of the most pretentious in the county at the time. He found the frame standing; this he covered on three sides with split clapboards, jointed and smoothed like modern siding; on the remaining side he sawed out plank with a whip saw, and finished it in the highest style of the art. Here for years he kept a tavern, which, with that of Morehouse, did a thriving business. For a long time this was the end of a division of the stage line from Vincennes to Saint Louis, and every night, save two, in the week, two stages with their passengers found lodging here. In addition to these names should be added those of Cornelius Delong , James Gilmore and Willis Blanchard , who settled on the "trace road," west of the village of Claremont; John Jeffers and John Mathis , early settlers near the Watertown settlement; William Walls , John Kogers and Matthew Duckery , on the Sugar Creek Prairie.
With all the information which may be gathered of the early settlement, it is impossible to accurately locate the place and time of all the early pioneers. In 1820, there were some thirty families in the territory now known as Richland County, all of whom, with few exceptions, had come in from 1818 to 1820. But with all these accessions, the country was by no means densely settled. From the Sugar Creek Prairie settlement to Albion, the present county seat of Edwards County, there was in 1820 no house to be seen, and northward to the house of Willis Blanchar d, there were only the cabins of the two Calhouns and Johnson. With so vigorous, a beginning, however, accessions were certain and rapid for a new country. James Laws , a native of North Carolina, was an early accession. He lived some time in Lawrence County, on or near the county line east of Claremont village. Lewis and William Laws lived in the same neighborhood, and John near Bugaboo Creek. The Stewarts , of South Carolina, and Cheeks, of Georgia, were early families in this vicinity. The Snyders , of Kentucky, settled at Hickoiy Point in Claremont Township, about 1825, and the Lowrys, from the same place, settled here about the same time. On Grand Prairie, were the families of John Bush , the Glenns and Harrises, and in 1829 Elijah Utterback and Joshua Cotterel , both natives of Kentucky. Shadrack Ruark was one of the advance of the second immigration. He was an itinerant Methodist minister in Ohio. About 1836 or 1837, he made a visit to his brother, settled in Bonpas, and became enamored with the country here. On his return to Ohio, he spread the fame of this fair territory far and near as he traveled his circuit, and many were induced to come here about 1840. About this time also came a large number of German families, who settled principally in the northern range of townships. Among them were the Grinders , the Schneiders , the Cletfers , the Kusters , the Spitts , the Weilers , the Evers , the Sterchies , the Swallens and the Balmers , most of whom were from Stark County, Ohio. Up to this second immigration, the larger proportion of the county was open to pre-emption, and even in 1850 there was a considerable area of public land. From this date to 1853, there was a keen demand for government lands, and the last acre was taken in this latter year. The final location of the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad made the location an especially desirable one, and a large number of actual settlers and speculators took advantage of the opportunity offered. There has been little change in the character of the population since. It has grown denser, and since 1860 a large portion of the lands held by speculators has passed into the hands of actual residents, but the main increase is made up of the descendants of the early settlement, and few family names familiar to the early record, are lost entirely now.
The first families were marked by an unusual amount of enterprise and culture. There were two good frame houses in the county as early as 1821, and brick houses followed with scarcely an interval. James Laws and Lot Basden united and put up a brick kiln, and each built a one story brick house from it. Laws erected his soonest, but Basden's still remains a specimen of pioneer luxury. The great mass of the houses, however, were the usual round log cabins, many of them giving up the whole side to the fire-place. The earliest stores were at Vincennes, though the settlers of Richland found trading places at Lawrenceville and Evansville. The latter point was the great trading point for the early merchant, from whence the goods were brought over tedious roads by wagon. The earliest store in this county was one opened by Jacob May at Stringtown about 1825. Somewhat later, Alfred Gross and Willis Snyder had a small store on the "trace road," about a mile west of the village of Claremont. Some goods were kept also at Prairieton, just over the line in Lawrence County. These stores were simply log cabins, where the owner, with a view to making an odd shilling, bought a few pieces of dry goods, a small stock of groceries and whisky, and offered them for sale. Their custom was chiefly derived from the community in which they were situated. Most of the settlers bad no money to buy with, and these storekeepers could profitably handle nothing but coon skins in exchange for their wares. Saint Louis was the great market for the surplus product of this region, and hundreds of teams were to be seen on the "trace road," bound for the western terminus of the road. These, with the regular emigrants and travelers, furnished the patronage of the taverns that were found about every ten miles along the road. This afforded also a good sale for the surplus corn along the thoroughfare. The chief export of this county in the early day was stock and skins. The country abounded in game, and wagon loads of venison hams were hauled to Saint Louis or Vincennes, and disposed of at 25 cents apiece. Deer skins, well cured, brought no more. Hogs, fatted on mast, and sometimes fed a little corn, were slaughtered and sold at Vincennes for $1.50 per hundred. Live hogs were driven to York and Darwin, in Clark County, or Vincennes, and were there slaughtered for the New Orleans market. Grain was not shipped much. The aggregate growth was not large, and it was found more profitable to sell it to new settlers and travelers, or feed it. The usual substitutes for mills were found here as elsewhere. The first mill was Beadle's mill, on the Wabash, about three miles above Palmyra. This was too far for many to go, and if this had not been true its capacity would not have accommodated one third of its patrons. The hominy block was found at every cabin, while a few had a hand mill or a large coffee mill, which was pressed into the service. The first mill within the limits of the county was a "horse mill," established by Wm. Walls on the edge of Sugar Creek prairie, eight miles south of Olney. This was started as early as 1824. Ten years later, Jarvis Dale started another "horse mill" on the "trace road," near the "Antioch" Church, east of Olney. This subsequently passed into the hands of Samuel Lowry , and then to Malone, who run it on his farm south of Olney. The first water mill was built on the Bonpas River, a little below Kimmel's mill in that township. A second was built by Matthews at Fransonia, on the Fox River.
The Harman mill was another early mill, built on the same river, but further up its course, near the site of old Waterton. After the organization of the county, the records show frequent juries to assess ad quod damnun the dams of various milling enterprises could be carried on. The substitutes for the saw-mills involved more labor, and were generally unused, as the comfort of the hardy pioneer did not demand them. Puncheons, shakes and clapboards were riven or hewed out of the timber. A few, as in the case of Elijah Nelso n and Thaddeus Morehouse , were willing to give the necessary exertion to secure a fine appearing as well as comfortable home. This was accomplished with the whip saw. The timber was squared with an ax, and drawn near a shallow pit dug in the ground. The timber was then placed upon forked stakes, which extended it over the pit, and after lining it on both sides, the sawyers went to work. The under sawyer, with his eyes protected from the dust by a veil, took his place in the pit, and with his companion on the timber they plied the saw somewhat after the laborious fashion of the modern "cross-cut." In this way two men would saw out some 200 feet in a day, and there were some who did not count the superior elegance of their homes expensive even at this cost of labor. The first water mill combined both saw and grist machinery, and were both in demand.
The first cabins were all built in the edge of the timber, and it is probable that Lemuel Truitt was the first to venture out into the open prairie near the site of the village of Noble. At first thought, this clinging to the timber where the labor of securing a crop would seem greatly increased in comparison with the open country, was a great mistake on the part of the early settler, but there are considerations which are overlooked in such a view of the matter. The farmers generally came from a wooded country and were not prepared for the problem presented by the prairie, while the open country in this county was generally rolling, and thus free from the excessive moisture found in many places; the sod, when dry enough to plow, presented a solid mass of tough roots which defied the team power possessed by the pioneers. Beside when it was worked it was found that two or more years were required to tame it and produce all crops. The timber soil was found much easier to cultivate, and one team with a Cary plow did excellent service. It so happened that the smaller prairies were surrounded by settlements, the character of the clearings giving the expressive name of Stringtown to the community and prairie in the northeastern corner of the county. It was not until about 1840 that the prairie began to be invaded.
Farmers had then secured a farm that would support the family, and had provided themselves with teams and tools for the undertaking. The plow used was a heavy machine which every farmer manufactured a greater or less portion himself. The mold board was so arranged that a large wooden mold board was attached, and to this formidable engine of agriculture from two to eight yoke of cattle were attached. The furrow was cut about fourteen inches wide, and the unskillful plowman occasionally had the misfortune to have rods of this leathery sod turn back to its original position. There was no other way but to turn it back by hand, and so tenacious was the soil that it was a laborious undertaking. When once subdued the prairie became the favorite resort for farming, though it has not been until recent years that good wheat or clover could be grown here. The cultivation of the prairie was productive of considerable sickness. The decaying of so much vegetation gave rise to a miasma, that showed itself in the general prevalence of the ague. It was a common phrase to indicate an early settler by saying that he came before the "shakes." Another disease prevalent in a new country had its rage here, and was known as milk sickness. Its characteristics vary in different localities, being most prevalent in some communities during the wet seasons, and in others quite the reverse. Cattle, and even game are affected by the plague, the carcasses of animals dying with it spreading the infection. The people were supposed to contract the disease by the use of the milk from cows in the early stages of the trouble. It is not altogether unknown now in the county, and is especially dreaded, as there seems to be no effectual remedy.
THE EARLY SOCIAL CUSTOMS
(written by J.M. Wilson, Esq.)
The early settlements were made in the woods or on the borders of the prairie groves. The first dwellings were the log cabins, constructed of small trees from six to ten inches in diameter, the building from twelve to eighteen feet in width and eighteen or twenty four feet in length, the foundation being a block of wood, or big stone if convenient, on which were laid the sills lengthwise of the building, flattened with the chopping ax; on the upper side of these were laid the sleepers, also leveled on top to receive and support the puncheon floor. The puncheons were split timber five feet in length, a foot or eighteen inches in width and two or three inches in thickness, one side hewed as smooth as possible to constitute the floor. These were laid as close as possible, making a very uneven and open floor. The raising of a cabin was a great event. For a dozen miles around the squatters assembled, selected four experienced men to carry up the corners, that is to cut a notch in the end of the log to put on the sloping saddle cut on the, log beneath it. There was always a jug of whisky on hand to cheer the laborers. At about six and one half feet above the puncheon floor joists were inserted, being simply counterparts of the sleepers, but of lighter timber. From the joists the end logs were shortened at each end to form the roof, the poles or ribs supporting the roof, being about two feet apart. The roof was composed of clapboards, made of a large three or four feet in diameter white or black oak tree. The boards were made by sawing the log into four foot lengths, then splitting into blocks and riving them into clapboards six or seven inches wide and one half or three fourths inch thick. The top log of each end of the building projected eighteen inches on each side to support the butting pole, a piece of hewed timber against which the first course of boards placed on the ribs butted or rested to prevent their slipping off. The boards were laid close together on the ribs, and the joints broken by another board, making a double roof. After the first course was laid, a weight pole was used to keep the boards in proper place, sustained in its place by a piece of timber about two thirds the length of the boards at each end, this weight pole serving as a butting pole to the next course of boards. The chimney was made by cutting out of the middle of one end of the house a part of the end logs, about six feet in length and four or five feet in height, and building a projection about four feet in depth, notched into the sawed ends of the building logs. The sides and ends of the chimney were built up with clay or stone a foot in thickness. This was the fireplace. The chimney was built of cat and clay, or split timber, filled in between and covered inside and out with clay mortar, tapering from the fireplace upward until it was reduced to a diameter of about eighteen inches, when it was run straight up until about two feet above the roof, and being built straight on the outer side it left a space of two feet between the roof and the chimney as a safeguard from fire. Clapboards were laid on the joists to form the loft floor, reached by a ladder. Clapboards formed the door; they were pinned to long wooden hinges and hung on wooden supports, and this door was the only opening inlet or outlet to the building. There were no windows; all the light came down the wide chimneys or through the door, which was generally open winter or summer.
A big fire of logs kept one from freezing in the winter. The interstices between the logs of the building were filled with pieces of split timber and clay mortar. The furniture consisted generally of a bedstead for the heads of the family, made by two pieces of a sapling sharpened at one end and driven in between the logs of the wall, the other end supported by forks driven into the ground between the puncheons. On this frame were laid clapboards, covered with deer or bear skins, on which was placed the bedding. Wooden stools and benches were used to sit on, and the table was fashioned like the bed. At night the young folk spread skins on the floor before the fire and placed their bedding on them. Such an house would be put up in one day by a dozen men, and the family take possession the next. The cooking utensils were generally an iron oven or a skillet with a long handle and a coffee-pot. Corn meal pounded in a wooden mortar made the bread. Venison, bear meat, pork and turkeys constituted the eatables. To get a meal, first some corn meal was browned or scorched in the skillet to make the coffee. Then the meal was mixed into dough in a wooden tray and placed into the oven or skillet, on which an iron lid was put and covered with coals. In half an hour the corn pone or dodgers were cooked, taken out and set before the fire, and the pork or venison cooked in the skillet. This, when cooked,, with generally a plentiful supply of milk, and often wild honey, constituted the eatables; and in one of those cabins a family of half a dozen children or more and their parents lived and slept, with room besides for sometimes two or three strangers, always welcome.
The settlements were made in the timber for several reasons. Backwoodsmen seldom had more than one horse. He neither had team nor plows qualified to break the thick prairie sod. By cutting and grubbing out the brush and deadening the bigger timber he could, in a short time, prepare four or five acres for corn. An iron shear or point, with a wooden mold board, with one horse, would enable him to so scratch the surface of the earth as to produce plenty of corn for bread; whilst the hogs fattened and wintered on the abundant mast, i. e., acorns, hickory nuts, etc., whilst the corn fodder kept his horse and two or the cows with the grazing in the woods. When a winter was unusually hard he could cut down in the early spring maple and other trees for browse. The man's work was comparatively easy. His corn patch did not require more than three months' attention. He raised but few or no vegetables; hunting was his principal vocation and amusement. Deer and turkeys by hundreds filled the woods; deer hams and skins and coon skins formed his source of income to buy his ammunition and, when to be had, the indispensable coffee. The sugar maple furnished sugar and molasses, and the spice brush and sassafras the tea. Dressed buckskin made him crackers and hunting shirt, a substitute for pantaloons and coat, whilst his cap or hat was made of coon skin; this, with a cotton shirt raised, picked, spun and wove by his wife and daughters, clothed him. After the little farming was done and the corn crop laid by, the horse was used to bring in the game and carry his owner to log rollings, house raisings and to the county seat where whisky drinking (plenty at twenty five cents a gallon; every store kept it), carousing and fighting, were his amusements.
The women led hard lives. Their clothing was made of the cotton raised on their little clearing. At night, after gathering, it was spread before the fire, heated, and the seed picked out by hand, then carded in a pair of cards, spun on a big wheel, colored with copperas, or indigo, or walnut bark, and woven on an home-made loom, and cut and made up by her into clothing for herself and children. She did all the cooking and washing, and for weeks, and often months, would see the face of no living soul except the members of her own family. A log rolling or quilting brought the boys and girls together, where, after the logs were all piled up and the quilt finished, supper over and the floor cleared, the young folk would dance or play at different games. Fifty years ago common calico, coarse prints, sold for thirty and forty cents a yard; six yards of three fourths wide made a dress, and the owner was as proud of it as a fashionable lady now is of her silks and satins. The every day garb of females was striped cotton; feet shod in buckskin moccasins. And yet it was a joyous life; no jealousies, no striving for wealth, generous and liberal. The traveler was always welcome, and no one thought of charging for food or lodging. Ignorant and coarse as many were, there was less licentiousness than now. Preaching was rare; now and then, about once in two months, an itinerant would preach, when all the settlement would assemble. A baptizing was a great event; for twenty miles the people assembled, when the old preacher, clad in homespun and leather, with pantaloons rolled above his knees and a long stick in hand, waded and felt about in the pond or creek until he found sufficient depth of water to immerse the neophyte, or generally two or three of them. These old preachers of the Baptist persuasion were generally farmers, and received no pay or compensation for their services. Frequently illiterate, they were earnest and sincere.
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