ANCEDOTES AND INCIDENTS CONNECTED WITH THE EARLY HISTORY AND SETTLEMENT OF HARRISON COUNTY, MISSOURI

SOURCE:
BETHANY WATCHMAN
D.J. HEASTON, EDITOR
BETHANY, MO.
THURSDAY, NOV. 28, 1871



TAYLOR GROVE-GRIST MILL-ORGANIZATION OF BETHANY CHRISTIAN CHURCH THIRTY YEARS AGO-SCARCITY OF AMMUNITION-AN INDIAN BOYS TRICK-SKUTIPO-LOST IN THE WOODS

Taylor Grove, in the north part of the county, was first called Whiteoak Grove by the bee hunters, but about the year 1842 old Mr. John Taylor removed from Illinois and settled in that grove, where he died the following year.  The grove took his name and is so called to this day.  Shortly after Mr. Taylor's death Uncle Isaac Hammer came on from Illinois, bought the improvement made by the former and to the great satisfaction of the settlers, he erected a horse grist mill so that when the "watermill" would not go the "horsemill" would and that put a stop to the gritting operation.

Reader, did you ever in cold weather, go twenty miles to a horsemill and "swing around a circle" until you ground a two horse load of corn?  If so you have some idea of circular work.  To spin around that circle four long hours of a cold dreary night, punching up the team, is no small matter.  You might despair were it not for the cheering words "Your grist is out!"  which the miller finally haloos through a chink in the logs.  These words would bring renewed strength and send a thrill of ecstatic joy to the heart.

Though in a wild country, the settlers did not neglect their moral and religious obligations.  Meetings were held as often as practicable and in the year of 1841 the denomination known at present as the Bethany Christian Church was organized on Big Creek by Elder J.S. Allen and Ephriam Stewart.  There was another church organization in the southwestern part of the territory at that time.  A body of free will Baptists who met in Daviess County.  It was friendship in those days.  We had no bickerings, backbitings, or litigations, etc.  The settlers thought it no hardship to go eight or ten miles to go to church to worship God on Sunday.  Even the women would walk three or four miles to church.  There was but very little unnecessary pride among the people.  They would ride to church in an ox wagon and the women wore no hoops, chignons or other such superfluities.   Mind is more important than dress,k although many women think differently and have more dress than mind.  The moral man is sadly neglected.

The settlers were sometimes in quite a strait for ammunition, which was quite a serious matter, as we depend in a great degree upon wild meat for the first year or two, especially in the fall of the season, but this want was partially supplied by the Indians, who were generally well supplied with powder and lead by the government.  When the indians were hunting in our vicinity the whites would barter with them, and "swap" various articles for ammunition.  In this game of exchange the noble red man showed great shrewdness and sometimes outwitted his white brother as an incident in our own neighborhood once illustrated.  In the fall of 1841 a white man visited an Indian camp, having some turnips in his wagon.  Being unable to converse in indian tongue, he improvised a language of his own- a sort of a cross between English and the Ethiopian dialects.  Said he, "Me come a longy way, me stally, me packy dis up de hill"  But all this made no impression, nor moved the sympathy of the Indians worth a cent.  They did not seem disposed to barter.  Finally, however, an Indian boy, about ten years of age, came up and offered to trade the man some powder for wauaches (turnips).  It was now growing dark and the lad, having secured the turnips, made signs to the white man to follow him.  They entered the wigwam where the boy got out his powder and wrapped up some in a rag in exchange for the turnips.   The man would have taken it to the firelight in the wigwam for examination but the boy made desperate signs, crying, "Shu! Shu!" as much to say, "You must not go near the fire with the powder!"  The man took the powder and started back to his team, but suspecting the boy of an attempt to trick him, he tasted the powder, when it proved to be nothing more than debris which the urchin had scraped from under the fire and beat it up to "powder" sure enough.  He hastened back to the wigwam, but the innocent member of the Lo family had vanished.

The Indians would gather vast quantities of wild meat, which they dried and packed away to their towns.  If they could barter any of this meat for skutipo (whiskey) they would get on a big drunk; then you would want to get away, though they never disturbed anything but the game in the settlements.

In those days there was not much fear of wild animals in the country, nevertheless, as it was well known that there were panthers, lynx, and a few bears, with plenty of wolves prowling about, a fellow away from home at night would naturally feel a little timid-especially if he were alone.   The writer remembers being in that fix himself on one occasion.  We set out rather late one evening to go to the three forks of Grand River, west of the present site of Albany, in Gentry County, and intended to travel that night as far as John Bedfords, near the head of Sampson Creek, but darkness overtook us before we reached the timber, and dark it was, there being no moon.  There was no road, the roads not yet being laid out in this county, but we took our course and after a long time came to the timber, but knew not where we were.   However, being near Bedfords, as we supposed, we concluded to call and Bedford would answer or his dogs would bark.  We halooed with great vehemence and listened with both ears open.  But there was no response; all was still as death.  Just then we thought-----PANTHER!!!!!




LOST AND FOUND-NO POSTOFFICE-PATTONSBURG LAID OUT IN 1842-
LYNCH LAW-BOGUS BEESWAX-"RAIL ROADS"

We remembered that Wright Stephens had killed a panther on that creek a short time before.  We sat upon our horse and meditated a while, for we would have not dismounted then for five cents.  There we were for all night, without anything to eat, and nothing to it in.  John Verdun was "keeping bach" on his improvement a few miles below, but we could not tell the direction in the dark.  We had strong notions of trying a turkey roost that night, especially when we remembered seeing the mangled carcass of a deer, on Polecat a few days before, which a panther had supped from and covered up the remainder.  But we concluded to halloo again, and again, a little louder and we suppose we never did shout so loudly before nor since, for we thought "panther!" every time and that they could hear us almost ten miles.  At last we heard a dog bark but it seemed a long way off.  This was but slight comfort, for the dog might belong to Indian hunters.  We looked around for a tree to camp in, feeling confident at the same time that a panther could not out  climb us.  It was an unpromising prospect truly, but before yielding to fate or giving up in despair, we resolved to do as the Israelites did in their last journey around the walls of Jericho, give one more loud long blast, which we did and Oh how joyfully we heard Bedfords voice in response, not more than a quarter of a mile distant.  We steered our course toward him, though it was the worst brush thicket we ever got into, and doubt whether we could have got through it at all in daylight; but brush and briars were nothing to camping out in the woods by ones self, with the terror of a momentary vist from the panthers.  You may be assured that we felt happy that night in our friends cabin.  Indeed...If you called on a settler in those bygone days, He would treat you kindly in his friendly ways, Though the cabin was short, and not very wide, The string on the door-latch hung on the outside.

We had no post office in the territory and received and mailed letters at Cravensville, in Daviess county.  Pattonsburg, in the same county, was laid out about the year 1842 and became some what noted for whiskey drinking and fighting.  Many a free fight occurred there in those days.  A crowd would assemble and begin "liquoring" as they called it and about three o'clock in the afternoon someone sould announce that fighting would commence in fifteen minutes and generally it did.  But we are glad to learn that the place is greatly reformed since Dr. Pyle located there and a man can pass throught now without being molested.

We have said elsewhere that occasionally a horse thief would pass through the territory and it was law by common consent that no one could harbor one of this class.  There was one fellow, however, that disregarded this law and he was made to suffer the penalty, which was "linting".  We never endorsed lynching but in this case it made a man of the fellow.  In a new country such extreme measures have to be resorted to for the protection of the people.  The settlers have to encounter hardships enough without having their horses stolen and run off.

With this exception we had no disturbance.  All was quiet and peace untile the case of the coutnerfeiting came up.  Our beeswax always passed current and in the market was always regarded as the genuine article until an attempt to counterfeit was made by a settler and it sent the whole country in an uproar.  It was looked upon as an attempt to injure the Grand River currency because it subjected to suspicion all beeswax sent to market from this part of the country.  The man mixed tallow with his beeswax, the greater part being tallow.  It was a seven-dollar cake and when it became hard it was to white, so he put a strip of cloth around it and completely galvanized it with pure wax.  One of the settlers being about to start to Liberty with a load of the precious stuff, the man put his counterfeit cake in and directed the settler to pass it off.  The teamster, who was ignorant of any attempt at fraud, arrived at Liberty and disposed of his load.  Then he handed over the spurious cake and told the dealer a neighbor had sent it along.  On examinaing it the merchant a piece had flaked off and he pronounced the cake bogus and it was regarded as the most remarkable cake of wax on record.  The cake was returned to the owner and thereafter no settler would carry the counterfeiters currency to market.  The latter tried to explain the matter by saying he had been advised to add a little tallow to make the wax stick together (being cold weather) and he got to much tallow.  However, he was never known to repeat the attempt, as he discovered the settlers were down on such proceedings, "like a thousand of brick".

The branch on which he lived was for a long time called the "Yallow for of Beeswax".

About this time Col. Benton made a speech in Missouri on the financial prospects of this county.  He said the opening of the great west to the white man, and expecially California, would result in the shipping of the "yellow boys" (meaning gold currency) up the Missouri river.  Some condluded, however, that he was mistaken; that it was the yellow cakes of beeswax shipped down the river.  Yet he was a far seeing statesman and his predicitons were well founded.

At the present time we have a great deal of excitement about railroads, but it was not so with the early settlers of the county, for when they were in need of a "rail" road they went to work and made one.  Almost evry settler had a "rail" road on which to haul rails to fence his farm.  Moreover, when the question arose of building a railroad through the county, for the general accommodation of the people, the settlers were all willing to contribute liberally- some even willing to contribute a thousand rails apiece towards the project!.  A man who had seen an "iron railroad" visited the neighborhood and began to explain all about the matter and before he got half through they saw where they had missed it.



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