THE FIRST WHITE SETTLERS - THEIR PRIVATIONS, CUSTOMS, AND MANNERS - GENERAL ACCOUNT OF PIONEER LIFE IN CLERMONT. WITH A LIST OF EARLY MARRIAGES AND INTERESTING REMINISCENCES.
"That heart, one thinks, Were of strange mould which kept no cherished print Of earlier, happier times."
CLERMONT is a county rich in wild, sweet romance, full of the picturesque of the old pioneer life and of a certain individuality of beauty unequaled by any other locality in the Ohio Valley. Here, too, is all the fine wild flavor of poetic legend and Indian lore, clinging about hill, creek, and upland, and one could wander for days in the realms of song and story in drives among its quiet hills, lying low in the prophetic shadows of a beautiful autumn. It is not difficult to conjure up a picture of what Clermont was fourscore years and more ago, and in the rhythmic outpouring of pioneer life we see how the beauty of the outlying country and its lovely streams sank deep into the hearts of the hardy emigrants in their ever-loving mention of
"Our green old forest-home, Whose pleasant memories freshly yet Across the bosom come."
The people of Clermont are especially and particularly interested in its history. The Past is the mother of the Present, and all that has gone before us is the cause of all that is now, and it is undoubtedly a truth in philosophy that the experience of the past is the wisdom of the present; so that it well becomes us once in a while to look back at the past and gather strength and encouragement for the present, and, we may add, hope and faith for the future.
The county has a grand history from its settlement, in 1795, till the present, and we hesitate not to say that one more full of incident, scene, character, and, indeed, everything pertaining to historic drama, has never been witnessed by sequential and progressive generations. Such a delightful location as Clermont-noted for its scenic beauty and atmospheric purity, its scenery being of the most varied description, and representing within its confines a gradual transition from the graceful and picturesque to the rugged and sublime, and abounding in fertile valleys and rich, inviting uplands-could not long escape the attention of the lovers of the beautiful in nature and of the emigrant seeking a new Western home, especially as it wore the appearance of buoyant health and ultimate utility in addition to its magnificent natural beauty, and the chief elements of complete landscapes-hill and dale, wood and water, knolls and mounts--existed in luxuriant abundance.
Not the least among its many attractions, the salubrious location of Clermont, its lying on the great Ohio River, and its many level and well-wooded sites of majestic oak, stately beech, towering poplar, and beautiful sugar-tree, early invited the attention and struck with rapture the Revolutionary soldiers of the Continental establishment on the Virginia line who located their surveys in its territory, as well as of their immediate successors, who first actually occupied its area in the rich bottoms of its swiftly-flowing streams. The first settlers were identified with and associated by common interests, and were more equal in fortune, in birth and education, and as a neighborhood assimilated in manners, customs, habits, and tastes to a greater degree than any other of the Ohio settlements. They came originally from the best families of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky, with abundant energy and physical vigor, were practical agriculturists, unambitious of professional or political promotion or individual notoriety. They were singularly straightforward in their objects, and generally prompt in all their duties and in meeting all their obligations. The days in which they lived and the circumstances surrounding them rendered them self-reliant in thought, action, and purpose, and by the help of God and in their own strength, by the help of good constitutions and their own common sense, they gained the respect and confidence of all with whom they came in contact.
The pioneer fathers in the county were men of large person and spirit and well constituted to endure the privations of frontier life, and their commanding physiques and noble minds fitted them as worthy companions in life for those sainted mothers of Israel who at the dear family hearthstone laid broad the happy foundations of domestic love and enkindled and kept a perpetual fire of incense and devotion to the great Architect of their happiness, whose praises and goodness were daily mingled and remembered in their constant prayers and religious duties. The pioneers in this county were emphatically a religious people and served the Lord in their profession and daily walk and conversation, and were not, like subsequent early settlers in other regions of the West, a rough, profane, or wicked class, perverse to religion and its attendant sway of social and educational blessings. They came at a time when the blessings we now enjoy were not enjoyed by them, when the facilities for their enjoyment were limited, and when hardest toil and eternal vigilance were their lot in life.
In all organized armies they have a pioneer corps, usually volunteers, who are sent to the front armed with axes as well as guns,-with axes to make roads and a pathway for the army behind them, and with guns because it is a point of danger to be a pioneer in the army, as they are constantly in danger of ambush, always in fear that the enemy in an unpenetrated country may assault them at any moment. Hence it is that those men put to the front are invariably volunteers and fearless men, like those who go to the front voluntarily to make a path for the army of civilization,-men who are willing to take their lives in their own hands. The pioneers of Clermont were pioneers of a greater army, and came into her valleys and on her hills at a time when it was a common wilderness fresh from the hands of God, aud they brought with them their axes and their guns, and they hewed and fought a way for those who should come after them. They swept away the obstacles to comfort and civilization, turned the wilderness into blooming fields, made plenty spring from a land that was a comparative desert, and established the broad and strong foundations of a Christian county full of noble men and pious women. The unbroken forest of the county under their hands gave way in time to the beautiful farms, comfortable homesteads, enterprising towns, pretty villages, good roads, cosy houses, elegant churches, fine school- structures, and busy manufactories that dot and skirt the county, - perpetual mementoes of the active industry and Saxon management of the old pioneers and their children arid grandchildren reared and schooled under their beneficent auspices.
It was happily said by an eminent writer of the past, "Let me write the songs of a land, and I care not who makes its laws ;" and, in contrasting the contemporary poetry of the West with that of the East, one is struck with the fact that, while that of the East is full of the fire of thought and the stirrings of purely mental life, that of the West is the interpretation of nature, dewy as the valleys and streams whose beauty has inspired it. While Whittier was writing his " Voices of Freedom" and Lowell penning his calm philosophy into rhythmic periods, the Western poets were translating the meaning of river, hill, and sunset sky, and the early poetry of Ohio mirrors the serenity of mind and the purity of the moral atmosphere out of which it sprang, and more than all details of history will it embalm the fair loveliness of the scenery and the simple beauty of the early life of the pioneers. A thousand pleasant memories will rush over our aged readers as we recall old times, and our reminiscences will touch many tender chords of a half-forgotten melody, sacred and sweet to them in the hallowed associations of the olden days of long-ago.
The first settlements in the country were made in the years 1795 and 1796, immediately following the Greenville Treaty with the Indians, made by General Anthony Wayne after his decisive defeat of the savages in battle, and were made in Miami, Williamsburgh, Washington, and Pierce townships, --in Miami by Col. Thomas Paxton* and Thomas Beck (born 1764, and who while a boy of sixteen gallantly served under the Continental Congress on the ship 'Ranger' until victory crowned the Revolutionary fathers and perched upon the young republic, and who a few years after coming to Clermont moved to Caldwell Co., Ky., where he died in 1854); in Williamsburgh by Gen. William Lytle,* James Kain, wife, three sons (David, John, and Thomas), three daughters (Elizabeth, Mary, and Sarah), and Archibald McLean; in Washington by John, David, and Jeriah Wood (with families), and John, Nathan, and Elisha Manning, --three brothers who had all married Wood girls, ---William Buchanan and wife, and John Gregg; and in Pierce (then Ohio) by Isaac Ferguson and his three sons.* Other emigrants the same or succeeding four years came into these townships, and that of Ohio and Pleasant, the latter now in Brown County, so that by the year 1800 there were settlements on the Little Miami and Ohio Rivers, and on Stonelick, East Fork, Bullskin, Indian, Bear, and Twelve-Mile Creeks, besides on many smaller streams or runs tributary to them.
From the first year of the century emigrants poured in from different parts. Cabins were put up in every direction, and women, children, and goods tumbled into them, as it were, in the haste to enter land and get a start in the new 'Ohio Eldorado'. The tide of emigration began to increase, and flowed like water through a breach in a mill-dam, and everything was bustle and confusion, and each and every member of the settlements was busy in his or her sphere, and ready for duty in beginning the journey of life fresh in the clearings.
*See sketches of their lives in another part of this book.
The first dwellings were built of round logs, just as they were found in the primeval forests; but occasionally a settler would construct a palatial residence by hewing the logs on the outside. They were notched near the ends with an axe, for the double purpose of holding them firmly and bringing them nearer together, and the spaces were filled with split sticks and clay. When the logs were cut in proper lengths they were dragged to the spot selected for the cabin, and the neighbors for miles around were invited to the "house- raising", and with handspikes and skid-poles the logs were raised to their position, and a man with his axe, on each corner, prepared the notches, in which way a cabin one story high was soon erected. The gables were formed by leveling each end of the logs, making them shorter and shorter until the ridge-pole was laid on, the logs in the gable being held in place by poles extending across the house from end to end, which also served as rafters on which to lay the clapboard roof. These clapboards were riveted out of a straight-grained white- or black-oak or ash, sawed into lengths of five or six feet, and were laid beside each other and the joints covered with another, so as to effectually keep out the rain. Logs were laid upon these shingles to keep them in place, blocks of wood between them keeping them in position. The cross-cut saw was put in requisition to make openings for the doors, windows, and fireplace, and the logs, where cut off, were held in place by priming split sticks on the ends, which served as lintels. The doors were made of clapboards fastened with wrought nails upon cross-pieces, which, being bored near the end, constituted the hinges, and were hung upon wooden pins fastened upon the lintels. The door was fastened by a wooden latch on the inside, and was opened from without by a string passing through a gimlet-hole in the door and hanging outside,-- from which originated the old saying when hospitality is tendered: "You will find the latchstring always out", -- but at night the door was securely locked by pulling in the string. The loft above was reached by inserting one's toes in the openings between the logs in one corner of the house, or on a rude ladder made of a straight sapling of linden-wood or poplar, split into halves, with rungs for steps, making it convenient to draw up or for its removal from the cabin, the rounds or rungs passing through auger-holes in the sides and made secure by wooden wedges. A small hatchway was left in the upper floor or a window cut in the gable for ingress and egress. The process of mounting the ladder was called, "cooning it to bed", as the children usually slept there and also company when visitors came, as the lower room answered the purpose of kitchen, sitting-room, parlor, and bed-chamber. The cabin fireplace was always ample, often extending more than halfway across the house. The chimney was built on the outside, sometimes of stone and mortar, but more commonly of split-sticks laid crossways and then daubed with "eat and clay", an admixture of mud and straw. The large green back-log and the ample log-fire heap imparted both light and warmth to the family group about the old hearthstone not equaled in solid comfort by the stoves, furnaces, and grates of the present age. The site of the cabin was chosen with reference to the accessibility to water; and if there was no spring, a well was often dug before the building-site was determined.
Sometimes two cabins were built near together and connected by a rude hallway between them, which was called a double cabin, only owned by a few of the wealthier settlers.
The furniture was simple and easily inventoried. The bedstead sometimes consisted of dogwood forks passing through the puncheon floor into the ground; small saplings were placed in the forks for a bed-rail, and upon these clapboards were laid for a bottom. The pots and kettles usually were placed opposite the window (old paper pasted over the hole, and on which hog's lard had been applied,-- a kind of glazing which shed a most beautiful and mellow light across the cabin when the sun shone, as all other light entered at the doors, cracks, and chimneys), and the gun hung on the hooks over the door. These, with a few split-bottom chairs, three-legged stools, a clumsy shovel and aged pair of tongs, and a small looking-glass sloping from the wall over a large towel and comb-case, about comprised the list, save the spinning-wheels,-- the pianos of the pioneers. The large one was used for spinning the woolen rolls, and the small one for the flax, and their music was heard through the day, and often far into the night. A woman spinning upon a large wheel, stepping backward as she drew and twisted the thread from the roll, and forward as she wound it upon the spindle, placed her in a more graceful and charming attitude than was ever exhibited in a ball- or drawing-room. It may be that her feet were bare and her dress of "linsey-woolsey", but her symmetry of form and her graceful motion were better shown than when clothed in costly and fashionable attire. When the spindle was filled the reel was put into requisition, and with what exultation the good woman tied the knot when the snapping of the reel announced that the last twelve cuts (a good day's work) were ready for the loom! We can appreciate the beauty of Solomon's description of a virtuous woman when he says, "She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands; she layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff."
In one corner of the cabin stood the loom for weaving the cloth for shirts, pantaloons, frocks, sheets, and blankets, and the outer walls of the cabin were often nearly covered with the skins of rabbits, raccoons, minks, bears, deer, wolves, panthers, and foxes, stretched to dry, to be converted into articles of dress or exchanged for "store-tea", calico, or "boughten goods". A green handspike rested against the side of the chimney, with which to roll in and adjust the logs. A similar stick passed through the chimney above the blazing fire, called a "lug-pole", and suspended on which was a forked stick, having a wooden peg in the lower end, which served as a crane to hang on the pot or kettle. The andirons were large stones. Stoves were unknown, and cooking utensils few. The beef or mutton roast, the pig, the opossum, or the turkey was suspended by a string fastened to a wooden peg over the fireplace and cooked before the blazing fire. The gravy as it oozed from the meat was caught in an iron pan resting on the hearth, and ever and anon the attendant turned the meat around, basting it with the dripping fat. In the corner near by was the covered skillet, filled with biscuit, with the glowing embers above and beneath, or a corn-pone upon a clapboard at an angle of forty-five degrees. Persons may boast of their stoves and cooking appliances and fancy dishes, but give us the corn-bread baked upon a board before the cabin-fire and the barbecued opossum or pig in preference to all the scientific cookery of modern times.
The best table-dishes were of pewter, and the bowls and spoons, of that material, were kept as bright as the polished silver of the modern kitchen. "The old oaken bucket that hung in the well", fastened to the well-sweep by a wild grape-vine, and the gourd, tied to the curb, were among the pleasant recollections of our early homes.
Our inventory of furniture would be incomplete did we omit to mention the flint-lock rifle or musket, with powder-horn, shot- or bullet-pouch, all of which were placed upon wooden forks fastened to the joists, and generally over the door.
In the loft, and around its walls of logs and pendent from the roof, in sacks and bunches, were sarsaparilla, ginseng, snakeroot, catnip, tansy, garlic, sage, dog-fennel, pennyroyal, wormwood, elecampane, and boneset, gathered in their season. These constituted the material medica of the pioneer, and apothecary's medicine was not in much demand, and patent medicines of rich quack advertisers had not come in vogue to deplete the pioneer's pocket or blood. Strings of dried apples, peaches, and pumpkins hung in graceful festoons from the rude rafters, while the winter's store of hickory, hazel, walnuts, and butternuts covered the upper floor. To guard against the ague, a jug of bitters composed of dogwood-bark and prickly-ash berries was provided, and to ward off attacks of worms among the children tansy and wormwood bitters were regularly administered.
The clothing was mostly of domestic manufacture, and the early settlers were clad in home-spun and home-made linen and woolen apparel. The flax-patches were the places where half the courting used to be done, and when the flax got ripe all the boys and girls far and near gathered and pulled and spread it. It was called a frolic, and often ended with a regular "hoe-down, double shuffle dance".
After the fibre was softened by the dews and rains, ---which was called "rotting the flax",---it was taken up and bound, and either stacked, or broken on a machine called a brake, then spun on a wheel and run off on a reel and woven on a loom. Many yet remember the new tow shirt with its pricking "shives", and there are old Clemonters yet living who as boys and girls raised the flax, broke and swingled it, and the hetcheled, spun, and wove and made it up into garments of pantaloons, frocks and aprons, and shirts, and into toweling, tablecloths, and bed-linen.
The winter garments of both sexes and all ages were made generally of wool shorn from the settlers' sheep, carded, spun, colored, and then woven on their own looms. The mother who could not take care of her children, do the cooking, washing, ironing, and attend to other household duties, and spin twelve cuts of yarn per day was not considered extra smart. After the yarn had been spun it had to be dyed and prepared for the loom. Some they would dye a copperas color, and some blue, brown, green, and red, and the more fastidious and tasteful wore checks and stripes. Our Clermont pioneer mothers and daughters, like their maternal ancestor, Eve, had a taste for a variety of colors and beauty of combination, and yet they attired themselves in dresses of their own spinning, weaving, coloring, and making, and used but six yards of linen or linsey, instead of from fifteen to thirty as in the present day.
In the manufacture of cloth the ladies, at a later date, were much assisted by the carding-machine, before the introduction of which they carded all the wool by hand. After placing a small lock of wool between the cards and drawing them briskly backwards and forwards until it was properly carded, they would make the rolls on the backs of the cards. The spinning-jenny was invented and came along, which spun one hundred threads to the woman's one. Soon the daughters of Eve began to talk about it at little gatherings, the gossip goes, and resolved that Miss Jenny was a trump-card, and that it was cheaper to buy than to run the old wheel; and so woman's spinning days were over. The old wheel was carried out and the piano carried in, the music of which is perhaps sweeter, but it brings less wealth, health, and happiness to the household.
DOMESTIC LIFE OF THE PIONEERS
Spring-time brought work, hard and steady, to the woman of the cabin, spinning and weaving the summer linen. Rising in the morning at four, she built the fires, made up her own beds, awoke and dressed the children, made up the trundle-bed, shoved it under the "big bed", put on the tea-kettle, and mixed the Indian meal for the johnny-cakes and corn-dodgers. This done, she prepared the frugal meal and set the table; after which she blew a merry peal on the tin horn to call the men to breakfast. Next she nursed the baby, but that could be done while she was knitting the socks and stockings. The men came in, and springing up, she laid the sweet smiling little baby in the trough-cradle, and with one loving kiss she set the victuals on the rude table, and jogged the cradle with her foot each time she passed to keep the baby calm.
Breakfast over, the rustic dishes put away, the children sent to school or out to play, she sprinkled the linen on the grass, and now spinning is resumed. She takes the wheel out on the puncheon floor, takes her darling babe from the cradle, and while her foot is busy with the treadle, it serves as a motion to quiet the little beauty, while singing and musing. She can sing might merrily too: "Home, sweet home", ---my own home, be it ever so poor, is home.
But it is time to prepare dinner, and greens must be pickled, potatoes washed, meat put on to boil, and venison or bear-meat to be broiled or baked; and if the husband is a good shot, a turkey is swung up before the large fireplace to broil. Then down to the wheel or into the loom, banging away as she sends the swiftly-flying shuttle through the double-threaded web. The horn is blown again, the victuals taken up, and the meal is eaten with the baby on the lap. The pewter dishes washed and put away, the floor must be scrubbed---for she has no carpet---and the bleaching cloth is to be watered again. Then back to the wheel till time for supper; which over, she goes to the pasture to milk the cows, puts the children to bed, and takes again to the ever-busy wheel until the husband retires to the couch. She must stop now, for he does not like the buzzing noise, but no bed comes to her relief yet, for the children's clothes are to be mended and stockings darned; and thus she toils on until late in the night.
Such was the life led by most of Clermont's pioneer mothers. But few of the grandmothers remain who participated in such life, and in a few short years they will have become pioneers to another country, to be followed by a ceaseless stream of emigrants as time rolls its changes in our fleeting world.
Among the common articles of food which the pioneers had, mush and milk was greatly esteemed, and the methods of eating the same were various. Some would sit around the pot and every one take there from for himself; some would set a table and each have his tin cup of milk, and with a pewter spoon take just as much mush from the dish or pot, if it was on the table, as he thought would fill his mouth, then lowering it into the milk, would take some to wash it down. This method kept the milk cool, and by frequent repetitions the pioneer would contact the faculty of correctly estimating the proper amount of each; but others would mix the mush and milk together.
The earliest settlers had no candles, and cared little about them, except for summer use. Sometimes seasoned sticks, then again the bark of shelly hickory, was used for light, and the common rag-dips of cloth in grease and the various like styles were always at hand.
Salt was a luxury,--- very scarce and at a high price,---and sold from three to four dollars per bushel up to 1808. Whisky-toddy was considered luxury enough for any party, the woods furnished abundance of venison, and corn-pone supplied the place of every variety of pastry.
MANNERS AND CUSTOMS
In the early period of the country's history the people were in a condition of complete social equality. No aristocratic distinctions were thought of in society, and the first line of demarkation was to separate the very bad from the general mass. The rich and the poor were costumed alike, many of the men being dressed in buckskin pants, and the women of all families wearing coarse fabrics, produced by their own hands. Some of the men wore coonskin caps with the fur on the outside and the tail dangling down the back of the wearer. Sometimes the material of the buckskin pants was not well tanned, and when dried after being thoroughly soaked became hard and inflexible. When thrown on the floor they bounded and rattled like tin kettles, and the pioneer, on a cold morning, in drawing on a pair, was about as comfortable as if thrusting his limbs into a couple of frosty stovepipes.
The settlers subsisted principally on corn-bread and wild meats. Flour, tea, and coffee were scarcely to be had, except at prices which placed them beyond the reach of very many. At weddings a puncheon formed like a bench, bare of a cloth, was covered with refreshments of a plain nature. Wild turkeys that but a few days before gobbled in their own native woods, coon that had grown on the creek-flats, pone as wedding-cake, with metheglin and whisky, comprised the bill of fare. A dance was the finale of the wedding festivities, and they made merry on the puncheon floor to the music of the fiddle in jigs, four-handed reels, and the old-style double-shuffle and breakdown. The next day the party repaired to the house of the groom for the "infair", where the mirth was kept up with renewed feasting and dancing.
Almost all of the first inhabitants of the county were of upright character, bold, daring, somewhat restless, but generous-minded. Although often enduring great privations and living in primitive simplicity, they always entertained an unbounded hospitality. They did not observe the heartless formalities of modern society, but their welcome was plain and outspoken. "Bring your knitting and stay a week" was an oft-expressed invitation; and when one did come, he was expected to feel perfectly at home and help himself. Were an unexpected visit made, the hostess was still pleased to see her neighbors, and immediately began the preparations for giving them the ordinary treat, serving them a meal of the best the house afforded, including, if possible, a cup of tea. As she had but one fireproof vessel in the cabin,---the conventional bake-kettle,---some time must be consumed in preparing the meal. First, some meat had to be tried in the kitchen to get lard; second, some cakes were made and fried in it; third, some short-cakes were made in it; fourth, it was used as a bucket to draw water; fifth, the water was put in, and a very sociable cup of tea they had indeed.
The pioneers were self-reliant and comparatively independent. Every family did a little of everything, and made their own garments out of their own raw material, manufactured their own soap, and dipped their own candles. When they killed a sheep or calf they sent pieces to their neighbors; and they, in the future, performed the same kind office in return. In this way the settlers had a full supply of this kind of meat without the aid of a professional butcher and without the outlay of money. The shoemaker and tailor, with their kits of tools, made their semi-annual rounds to make or mend boots, shoes, and clothing, the material for which had been provided beforehand by the head of the family.
Manners, customs, and habits have changed, but the memory will cling with fondness to those of other days. It gratifies our pride to have all the adventitious aids in preparing and serving our food and securing our clothing; it is pleasant to have a house of eight or ten rooms, each supplied with its own appropriate furniture and adornments; but we have very much doubt whether these things make us happier, or contribute more to our family or social enjoyment, than the plain simplicity and surroundings of three-quarters of a century ago.
Those who suppose that pioneer life was one of continual hardship---"all work and no play"---are very greatly mistaken. They had their amusements, which, if not as refined as those in modern times, were as exciting and enjoyable. The pursuit of game with the faithful dog and trusty gun relieved the monotony of daily toil, and the forests abounded with squirrels, wild turkeys, and deer. They trapped the rabbits, quails, and other small game; and at night "coon and 'possum-hunting" were favorite diversions.
There were elements of a pleasing nature in the life of an early settler not found in the dull routine of ordinary work on improved farms. Visions of bear, panther, deer-and raccoon-hunts, corn-huskings, monster log-rollings, house-raisings, wrestling-matches, and fishing-parties, and last, but not least in true sport and enjoyment, the ancient fox-chase. The recollections of the gay dance and the wild frolic come softly over the aged pioneer's memory like the low whisperings of the summer breeze, like the gentle murmurings of the rolling waters as the long swell breaks upon the shore, like the far-off sound of church-bells mellowed by time, softened by distance, but also hallowed by many a pleasant thought and fond remembrance.
Pleasure was often combined with business, resulting in house-raisings, log-rollings, and corn-huskings, frequent and attended by young and old, especially the latter. In the fall the ears of corn were torn from the stalk unhusked and deposited in a long row upon a plat of grass; and when the company assembled in the evening, captains were chosen, who divided the heap as near the middle as possible. They selected their men alternately, and being arrayed under their respective leaders, the contest began. The husks were thrown backward and the ears of corn forward, and the company that finished first was the winner, and had the first swig at the bottle and the chief seats at the royal feast that followed. Oftentimes daylight revealed the fact that the unhusked corn was found both among the shucks and in the corn-heap.
Young people in the fall and winter evenings were often assembled at a quilting or apple-cutting party. Ehen the quilt was finished or the apples peeled, quartered, and cored, and a sumptuous feast was disposed of, all united in a dance or some play. The old pioneer who reads this chapter will remember with what spirit and enthusiasm they marched with their partner and sang:
"oh, sister Phebe, how merry were we
The night we sat under the juniper-tree,
Hei oh!" etc., etc.
"We are marching forward to Quebec;
The drums are loudly beating;
America has gained the day.
The British are retreating."
And then, reversing the order, with the arms crossed, sing:
"The war is o'er, and we'll turn back
To the place from which we started;
So open the ring and take on in
Which you think will prove true-hearted," etc.
Seldom were those joyous occasions marred by any unpleasant incidents or by excesses in eating or drinking, but at an early hour in the morning each young man went home with his girl, only to repeat the enjoyment at some other cabin on the next moonlight night.
Horse-racing, turkey-raffling, and many other kindred sports that obtained in many settlements, found few votaries in Clermont, whose pioneers were a type of settlers not addicted to gambling and other vices that beset so many frontier localities. Some twenty years after the settlement of the county a few rough, coarse, and vicious characters came in, ---principally as adventurers,---but they were soon weeded out, and the county arose rapidly to great numbers in population, owing, in a great degree, to the industry and good character of the hardy settlers.
As illustrating the character and social status of the good old days, Judge Reed said that there was not a single case on the Clermont docket where a divorce was asked for or granted where the courting was done in a flax-patch, sugar-camp, quilting, or corn-husking. The pioneer girls, dressed in their linseys, made the young men bow as low and smile as sweetly as do the ladies of our day in the cities, with their rustling silks, satins, or muslins. Then the young lady could ride to a quilting on an ox-sled or a "sapling-jumper" and dance merrily to the music of a single violin; and such dancing!---a real double-shuffle, in which there grace, activity, life, spirit, and the genuine poetry of action, with none of your sliding, languishing, die-away motions of the belle of the fashionable ball-room at this date.
When the dance was over the girls could walk home---a distance of five or ten miles,---unless their beaux (and they all had beaux, and some of them a score or more) had a horse with saddle and pillion, when they would mount a stump or climb upon the fence and spring on the horse behind the rider and ride home. If they were engaged to be married and the day fixed, she would clasp her plump, well-muscled arm around him, he clasping one hand in hers. There was one great objection a beau had to his lady-love riding behind him---it was difficult to kiss her in that position, though it could be done. How all the young men enjoyed riding over hills and rough places! as it made their sweethearts clasp them tightly; and how their hearts swelled and beat as they felt the electric squeeze of the angelic creatures by starry moonlight!
Girls were in demand; they were scarce, and the young men outnumbered them two to one. We fear the gentler sex has not improved in health and true unalloyed happiness since those days of innocent romps and jollity, though they may have extended their home-spun skirts of two yards to twelve yards of silks and furbelows; and we are of the opinion that the sleep of modern girls is no sounder nor their dreams more pleasant than were those of their rustic grandmothers.
A bevy of young damsels on their way to a spinning and log-rolling, on coming to a creek, would pull off their yarn stockings and shoes, and, with spinning-wheels on their shoulders, wade the stream, regardless of snakes, and with a determined air that would put to the blush the sickly, canting, and insipid conventionalities of the present day. We remember, as though it was but last autumn, a rosy, sweet, angelic girl that came and spun on the big wheel each day in a certain neighborhood in the county. Her laughter was sweeter and more musical than the songs of the birds. She had been reared in the depths of poverty---a sweet, wild flower of the forest, and the artist could have painted her on canvas true to life would have been worshipped. Here was a picture a fit feast for the artist's eye---a wonderful and happy combination of ease, grace, and elasticity of step at once to be distinguished from anything bordering a plebeian birth. In our mind's eye we see her as she appeared, her head slightly in shadow, her body lighted up, all beaming with beauty and grace. She was of medium height, but beautifully symmetrical in form. Her shoulders were exquisitely rounded, her hips developed, her foot incomparably fine, and what a beautiful head on this handsome body! Large soft eyes of dark blue; dark chestnut hair, silky and naturally wavy; the nose of perfect form, with open nostrils always in motion; a small mouth, with red lips, and teeth fine, closely set, and pearly. One was perfectly conquered by the expression of this beautiful face,---its distinction, its brilliancy, the supreme charm that emanated from it,---and so was subsequent Governor of Missouri, to whom afterwards this pearl of Clermont was married, and reigned in the West as the "Belle of the Mississippi."
We give below the official lists of marriages in the county for the first seven years after its organization, by whom solemnized, and the dates thereof:
1801.---September 20th, John Earhart and Sally Wood, by William Hunter, J.P.; October 25th, James Irvin and Cinthy Anna Dilliner, by William Hunter, J.P.; September 5th, Michael Hildebrand and Mary Ann Harper, by Moses Frazee, M.G.;* October 20th, William South and Phebe Frazee, by Moses Frazee, M.G.; December 9th, Archibald Hosbrook and Phebe Osborn, by Moses Frazee, M.G.; December 6th, Stephen Frazee and Hannah Beck, by Moses Frazee, M.G.; October 29th, Tobias Hunter and Barbara Sheak, by Owen Todd, J.P.; December 24th, Isaac Manning and Christena McColin, by Moses Frazee, M.G.; December 24th, John York and Betsey Murfey, by Alexander Martin, J.P.
1802,---January 4th, Jonathan Bragdon and Sally Bradberry, by Moses Frazee, M.G.; January 11th, Benjamin Sills and Katuren Baum, by Houton Clarke, J.P.; January 16th, John Dimmitt and Lydia Gist, by Phillip Gatch, M.G.; January 30th, Arthur St. Clair (son of the Governor of the Territory of the Northwest) and Frances Stall, by William Hunter, J.P.; May 21st, Joseph Moor and Mary Mefford, by Amos Ellis, J.P.; May 24th, Samuel Kinnett and Elizabeth Rogers, by Amos Ellis, J.P.; March 7th, John Ross and Rebeckah Frazee, by Moses Frazee, M.G.; April 4th, Aaron Leonard and Sarah Rounds, by Moses Frazee, M.G.; April 17th, Moses Bradberry and Agnes Hunt, by Moses Frazee, M.G.; May 23rd, Aaron Osborn and Elonor Musgrove, by Moses Frazee, M.G.; May 1st, James Boothby and Abigail Rounds, by Moses Frazee, M.G.; June 3rd, Elijah Strong and Submit Miller, by Phillip Gatch, M.G.; April 8th, Timothy Conner and Mary Dickinson, by William Buchanon, J.P.; August 5th, Charles Steward and Mary Tate by, William Buchanon, J.P.; September 3rd, Josiah Boothby and Mary Rounds, by David Loofbourrow, M.G.; October 19th, John Read and Jane Simonton, by Phillip Gatch, M.G.; Christy Apple and Katuren Polender (date not given of the month and day), by Houton Clarke, J.P.; November 19th, Peter Emery and Elizabeth Apple, by John Hunter, J.P.; November 22nd, Robert Bradley and Elizabetn Lytle, by Sylvester Hutchinson, M.G.
1803,---January 2nd, Daniel Kidd and Mary Buntin, by William Hunter, J.P.; February 18th, Roger W. Waring and Martha McClellan, by William Hunter, J.P.; April 23rd, Levi Fryberger and Rachel Custard by, Owen Todd, J.P.; March 29th, William Smith and Susannah Light, by Elisha Bowman, M.G.; February 4th, John Gest and Martha Gatch, by Elisha Bowman, M.G.; February 19th, Edward Tatman and Amy Mills, by Houton Clarke, J.P.; April 19th, James Arthur and Anne Osbourn, by Phillip Gatch, M.G.; April 21st, John Vanneton and Mary McDonna, by Phillip Gatch, M.G.; July 12th, John Williams and Anna Teegarden, by Morris Witham, M.G.; November 1st, Andrew and Ann Perine, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.
1804,---January 24th, John Lucas and Peggy Harp, by Alexander Martin, J.P.; January 24th, Isaac Lucas and Phemy Harp, by Alexander Martin, J.P.; January 28th, Reuben Leacock and Sarah Jordan, by Alexander Martin, J.P.; February 19th, John Vanner and Catherine Spence, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.; April 3rd, James Bunting and Sally Doughty, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.; July 4th, James Perine and Polly Kain, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.; September 4th, John Hill and Elizabeth Monahan, by Alexander Martin, J.P.; December 2nd, Ezekiel Howard and Betsey Shinkle, by William Fee, J.P.
1805,---March 4th, Robert Allen and Martha Work, by Alexander Martin, J.P.; October 4th, Thomas Glaze and Rebecca Jones, by Alexander Martin, J.P.; October 4th, John Lytle and Dorcas Waring, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.; June 14th, Solomon Hedges and Polly Jenkins by, William Fee, J.P.; July 6th, James Hunt and Nancy Shotwell, by Moses Frazee, M.G.; September 15th, Isaac Coulthar and Mary Holmes, by Moses Frazee, M.G.; September 23rd, James Thompson and Margaret Burget, by Henry Chapman, J.P.; September 24th, John Smith and Jane Wishard, by Jacob Slight, M.G.; September 22nd, Benjamin Clark and Lucusso Garland, by Francis McCormack, M.G.; April 25th, John Pollock and Polly Stillow, by Phillip Gatch, M.G.; January 1st, Joseph Calvin and Jane Wardlow, by William Hunter, J.P.; November 21st, John South and Nancy Burnet, by (name too defaced to be made out); November 7th, Reuben Fights and Sally Waits, by William Hunter, J.P.; November 5th, Edward Sargent and Anna Sargent, by George Brown, M.G. (Mrs. Sargent was living in 1880, and resided on the same farm, and in part of the same house, where she went three-quarters of a century ago on her wedding-day, and her wedding was one of the grandest in the county for an early day); November 7th, Josiah Warton and Peggy Utter, by George Brown, M.G.; November 17th, John McGraw and Susan Miller, by William Fee, J.P.; August 14th, Samuel Wood and Alice Richey, by William Fee, J.P.; November 13th, John Shinkle and Barbara Skinkle, by William Fee, J.P.; November 28th, John Day and Catharine Hendrix, by William Fee, J.P.; March 14th, John Pitser and Catharine Leeferry, by Henry Chapman, J.P.; March 7th, Thomas Jennings and Polly Parker, by Henry Chapman, J.P.; June 6th, James Kirkpatrick and Hannah Pullance, by Henry Chapman, J.P.; June 20th, Joseph Wood and Poly Hodges, by George Brown, M.G.; July 16th, Absalom Brooks and Isabel Coulthar, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.; July 4th, James Fox and Peggy Berry, by Francis McCormick, M.G.; July 7th, John Armstrong and Sarah Sly, by Francis McCormick, M.G.; November 28th, John White and Veighty Church, by Henry Willis, J.P.; September 19th, John Knott and Nancy Dumford, by Francis McCormick, M.G.; September 19th, Joseph Brunk and Polly South, by Francis McCormick, M.G.; December 1st, Daniel Kain and Nelly Foster, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.; November 29th, Hugh Ferguson and Mary Arthus, by Fancis McCormick, M.G.; November 17th, Samuel Beck and Hannah Morris, by John Morris, J.P.
1806,---March 19th, Benjamin Osburn and Ruth Dusket, by Moses Frazee, M.G.; March 24th, Stacy Brown and Betsey Wilson, by Levi Rogers, M.G.; June 5th, Robert Lain and Martha Witham, by John Hunter, J.P.; January 21st, Hutson Marter and Martha Leacock, by Alexander Martin, J.P.; ; June 5th, William Fletcher and Ann Williams, by William Hunter, J.P.; March 20th, Mr. Vanosdol and Amy McCollum, by Henry Willis, J.P.; April 3rd, William Gold and Mevarcum Rounds, by Henry Willis, J.P.; June 5th, Frederick Councilman and Leah Roderme,l by Henry Willis, J.P.; April 10th, Andrew Gray and Elizabeth Logan by, Morris Witham, M.G.; September 18th, George Jones and Elizabeth Hamilton, by William Fee, J.P.; September 20th, William Smith and Mary Richardson, by William Fee, J.P.; October 21st, James Dye and Nancy Ellis, by Bernard Thompson, J.P.; October 28th, William Collerham and Rachel Smith, by Bernard Thompson, J.P.; October 6th, Jesse Hill and Fanny Miller, by Jacob Light, M.G.; November 16th, Perry Garland and Margaret Davis, by Phillip Gatch, M.G.; December 19th, Michael Swing and Ruth Gatch, by John Collins, M.G.; December 4th, Jonathan Wier and Liza Bottinghouf, by George Grown, M.G.; December 13th, Benjamin Rue and ______Geats, by John Pollock, J.P.; August 20th, Josiah McKinney and Eleanor Thom, by Wiliam Hunter, J.P.; January 2nd, Nicholas Christ and Barbara Teagarden, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.; January 4th, Thomas Foster and Abigail Davis, by Francis McCormick, M.G.; January 2nd, William Richey and Sophia Miller, by William Fee, J.P.; January 6th, Michael Baum and Elizabeth Richey, by William Fee, J.P.; December 5th, John Woodruff and Polly Harper, by Henry Chapman, J.P.; December 25th, James Foster and Elizabeth Burget, by Henry Chapman, J.P.; February 27th, John Cancade and Mary Johnston, by George Brown, M.G.; February 15th, Hugh Rankin and Betsey Light, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.; March 1st, Joseph Davis and Rachel Fowler, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.; February 6th, William Mastin and Barbara Shikely, by Phillip Gatch, M.G.; March 6th, Ebenezer Osburn and Fanny Elston, by Phillip Gatch, M.G.
1807,---January 15th, Thomas Berry and Mary Wright, by Henry Chapman, J.P.; March 20th, Thomas McIlroy and Sarah Christy, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.; March 23rd, John Chambers and Mary Miller, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.; March 27th, William Ackles and Mary Long, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.; March 27th, John Hall or Hill and Hannah Moore, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.; March 7th, Abraham Myre and Polly Miller, by James Sargent, J.P.; Sears Crane and Anna Nuth (day and month blank), by Moses Hutchings, M.G.; March 23rd, Isaac South and Deborah Hutchings, by Moses Hutchings, M.G.; the following three couples were married by John Pollock, J.P. but date of days and moths not given: Joseph Clements and Mary Wiggons, Jonathan Eldridge and Mary Ramsay, William Donnels and Magdaline Simonton; July 8th, Jacob Borstler and Sarah Robbins, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.; January 5th, John McCollum and Assigning Winning, by John Collins, M.G.; January 16th, William Bartlett and Betsy Evans, by James Gilliland, M.G.; January 22nd, Christian Husong and Elizabeth Chapman, by Morris Witham, M.G.; January 22nd, William McKibben and Susannah Prather, by William Fee, J.P.; February 2nd, Conduce Gatch and Margaret McGrue, by Benjamin Lakin, M.G.; February 28th, Ambrose Ramsom and Susan Roye, by Benjamin Lakin, M.G.; March 20th, Joseph Lemming and Margaret Lambert, by Levi Rogers, M.G.; March 10th, John Lattimore and Margaret Homer, by Phillip Gatch, M.G.; April ___, Samuel Shumard and Elizabeth Conrod, by Phillip Gatch, M.G.; May 14th, Jonathan McGrew and Ruth Crawford, by Phillip Gatch, M.G.; March 19th, Abel Frazee and Elizabeth Brown, John Morris, J.P.; April 30th, Isaac Hartman and Polly Daughters, by Levi Rogers, M.G.; March 12th, John Wilson and Betsey Leeds, by Roger W. Waring, J.P.
[* M.G., minister of the gospel.]
The foregoing list embraces all marriages from the organization of Clermont, in December, 1800, to the year 1808, that were returned to the clerk of the court by the ministers and justices solemnizing them, and, of course, many returns of licenses issued and marriages performed were never returned. It will be seen that Roger W. Waring, the clerk of the court, who issued marriage licenses, was also a justice of the peace, and thus was able to do a large business in the marriage line.
LIBRARIES AND SCHOOLS
The library of the intelligent pioneer consisted of the Bible and hymn-book, Bunyan's "Pilgrim Progress", Fox's "Book of Martyrs", Baxter's "Saint's Rest", Hervey's "Meditations", Aesop's "Fables", William Riley's "Narrative", "Gulliver's Travels" and "Robinson Crusoe". The school-books were very few, and none were illustrated; that for beginners was a paddle, with the alphabet and words of two letters pasted on one side, and "baker', "brier", "cider", etc., on the other, which answered the double purpose of instruction and punishment. The school-house, like the dwelling, was built of logs, with a window, one pane of glass wide, extending the whole length of the house but generally, in place of glass, paper greased with hog's fat afforded the light, and slabs or "puncheons" served as seats for the pupils.
Steel pens were unknown, and one of the chief qualifications of the teacher was to be a good penman and expert in making quill pens. Sometimes, in later days, the log school-house was so constructed that openings were left in the logs to serve as windows, and in summer they were left without sash, in winter sized newspapers subserved the double purpose of sash and window-glass. A mode of punishment, equally primitive, called for another opening of six inches in the rude door, and into this offenders were required to thrust a bare foot and keep it there till released by the stern pedagogue of harsh aspect; and, as snakes were numerous in summer and the ground under the house open, the discipline was amazingly effective.
The schools were sustained by subscription, and the teachers, learned in knowledge, dexterous with the old-fashioned goose quill pen and expert---particularly so---with the heavy ferule and Solomon's rod, received from eight to twelve dollars per month for their services, and "boarded 'round" with their patrons. On certain festive days, especially Christmas, the custom prevailed---as positive as the common law and immutable as the laws of Medes and Persians---of "barring out" the teacher, the scholars not permitting him to enter the school-room until he treated to cider, apples, gingerbread, or candy; and sometimes, on the pedagogue's refusal, he was taken to the nearest creek and immersed in its flowing waters or ducked in the snow till he succumbed and complied with the terms dictated by his pupils, usually led on by the biggest and most rawboned boy,---one often superior in size to the teacher.
The old-fashioned schools were excellent in many respects, and the boys and girls obtained a good, practical primary education and a wholesome discipline specially adapted to those early times. On account of the sparseness of the population and the work to be done at home, in which the young of both sexes had to lead a helping hand, there were usually but "two quarters" of a school per year.
In the early days of pioneer life religion assumed a dramatic form, and the out-door meetings were the natural result, both as accessories of scenery and also because "God's first temples" were the only temples our worthy relatives were able to secure. Then here and there a rude structure was put up, like the "Old Bethel Meeting-House", "Hopewell", and Ten-Mile Creeks churches, and soon many log houses were erected in the county for the preaching of the Lord's word. Services, too, were often held in the residences of zealous members of the church, and very frequently in the woods, where large camp-meetings attracted hundreds and thousands from many miles around. It was near fourscore years ago that "the voice of one crying in the wilderness" first began to be heard in Clermont, into which poured preachers on the circuit; and they were men who were not graduated with the honors of their class at a fashionable divinity school. They were as guiltless as original Greek as they claimed it was possible to become of original sin, and they came among an honest, impulsive, uncultured (in a collegiate sense) people, knowing how to touch the strings of every heart; and the work they did was gradual, formative, but enduring in its happy results, as we find in our excellent churches and Christian families the fruits of these first fathers' teachings.
CLEARING THE LANDS
To the robust and hardy pioneers of Clermont there was a certain kind of fascination---a species of romance---about the clearing of their heavily-timbered lands. Their trials were severe, their privations great; but it was gratification to see the lofty trees that had withstood the storms and fierce howlings of the mighty tempest for hundreds of years bow before the strong arm of man. It was grand to see the heavy volume of smoke roll-up by day, and at night to watch the curling red flame lighting up the dense, mysterious forests. It was hard work, but healthy and exciting, amid the winter's snow, to go into the silent woods to draw the logs to mill and split out rails to build fences. It was pleasing, year by year, to see how steadily the field of vision around the old log cabin was enlarged and new prospects opened, until, at length, the eye could glance over miles, of clearings and behold large, well-filled barns and granaries, a comfortable home full of happy and contented boys and girls, with a loved wife in charge of the domestic duties, while the head of the family was wielding the axe in the woods or burning brush or log-heaps preparatory to the cultivation of a new field the ensuing season.
The farming implements were few and simple. The axe was in constant use, and was always kept in good order. Its inseparable companions were a maul and a few iron wedges, which were supplemented with others made of green dogwood, and were much used in making rails. A wooden mould-board plow; a harrow with iron, and very often wooden, teeth; log cabins; a wagon and sled; a crosscut saw; a few augers of different sizes and a gimlet; hose and grubbing-hoe; rakes; a flax-brake and swinging board; a couple of flails for thrashing grain, made by fastening together two pieces of wood with a string of raw hide, constituted the principal outfit. The grain was at first cut with a sickle or heavy Dutch scythe, at the rate of about an acre per day; then came the cradle, and still later the modern reaper. For thrashing grain, besides the flail, horses were very often used to tramp it out, being driven round and round on a circular bed, which was kept in condition by a man following with a shaking-fork. It was cleaned first by hand, but later the neighbors combined to purchase a winnowing-machine for general use, and still later every farm was supplied with improved and labor-saving appliances.
DOMESTIC AND WILD ANIMALS
Nearly every farmer had a team of horses, and some were supplied with a yoke of oxen, which were preferred in drawing logs in a clearing and breaking up new ground. A cow or two was indispensible, and droves of hogs of all ages, gathered the mast, filled the woods. Sometimes they were allowed to roam at large such a length of time that they became wild, and it afforded much sport to hunt them. A small flock of sheep was of great service to furnish wool from which the winter clothing was made, and shearing-time was looked upon as a great occasion by the farmers' sons, who enjoyed the sport of washing the sheep in the creek a few days beforehand. Geese were kept principally for their feathers, as a feather-bed in an open cabin was a great luxury in a winter's night. A great variety of dogs abounded, sometimes as many as six claiming the same master and having a common kennel under the cabin-floor. To protect the sheep and cattle from the wolves which prowled about, the settlers were compelled to "corral" them in a rail pen about the house; the stealthy and vagrant pests were afraid to venture near the light of the cabin-fire. The fowls were often captured by the minx, the opossum, or the raccoon, while the sheep-folds were sometimes invaded by hungry dogs, the ravening whelk and the half-starved yellow dog alike playing havoc with the farmers' flocks, and incurring the death penalty, which was bestowed in such cases if the enraged settler overtook them.
In some places it was found difficult to raise hogs and sheep, on account of the wolves, which committed many mischievous depredations. A reward for their scalps had the effect of stimulating those who engaged in hunting them, which formed quite a lucrative business. Many expedients were resorted to by the hunters to more successfully capture their game. Some of them would take the ovary of a female wolf at a particular time and rub it on the soles of their boots; then, circling through the forest where the wolves were most plentiful, the male wolves would follow the track of the hunter, who had secreted himself in some suitable place, and as soon as they came within reach of his rifle he would dispatch them. This method, while very effective in alluring the wolves, had also the effect of maddening them, and the upmost caution had to be observed to prevent them from attacking the hunter. On one occasion, while Charles Waits was thus hunting in Williamsburgh township, he was so closely pursued that he with difficulty reached a low tree, into the branches of which he sprang, and it was not until he killed four of the enraged animals that they fell back. Many of the first settlers for several years paid their taxes with the funds they received as bounties for scalps, paid for their ammunition, and laid in a stock of store-goods besides.
To better elude the watchful eyes of the wild animals, especially those of the deer and the turkey, hunting-shirts were colored to suit the season. In the fall the shirt most resembled dead leaves; in the winter they used a garment whose color resembled the bark of trees; and when snow was on the ground they frequently drew on a white shirt over their other garments. Many of the most noted hunters of Clermont County are named in the chapter pertaining to the proceedings of the county commissions.
It is curious to follow in the track of the early settlement of a country and notice how it advances---feeble in the beginning, as a child in the cradle, but time and care develops the maturity of manhood; so, at first, the early settler had to grind his corn by pounding it in a mortar, or hominy-block, as it was called, which was made by burning a hole into the end of a block of wood. He pounded it in these mortars with a pestle, which was made by driving an iron wedge into a stick of suitable size. After the corn was sufficiently pounded it was sieved, and the finer portion thereof taken for meal to make bread and mush, and the coarser part boiled for hominy. Next came the hand-mill, and for this convenience most of the settlers had to go miles through the woods to some neighbor who was able to furnish himself with such an article.
William and John Brown, who came from Kentucky and settled about a mile north of Bethel, brought with them one of these hand-mills, which they and their neighbors used until something better could be had. It was one of the first in Clermont, and was made of some hard stone---perhaps limestone only. The bed-stone was fastened in a frame about three feet high, and was dressed after the manner of mill-stones, with furrows, the runner or top-stone being kept in its place by a rim, and a stick let into a hole in one edge gave the handle, by which it was seized and forced around upon the nether-stone, with the grains of corn between them, and thus ground into meal. One strong man could grind very well, and two persons could make it perform with ease.
Next came the "sweep horse-mill",---a great improvement upon the mortar and the hand-mill, its two predecessors,--- and soon every considerable neighborhood had its own "horse-mill". They have all gone out of use, and hence we will describe them: A large square frame, say forty feet square, was erected of pretty stout timbers, sometimes the posts let into the ground two or three feet, with plates framed into them to support the roof and well braced. In the centre a driving-wheel was placed, with a large shaft passing through it having an iron gudgeon or pinion at each end, the lower end set in a block firmly planted below, and the upper one secured by a framework ahead. So this shaft stood perfectly upright, and the wheel branching out from it by arms mortised into it, and extended about eight or ten; or even twelve, feet from the shaft, thus giving the driving-wheel a diameter of twenty to twenty-four feet. On the outer edge or rim of this wheel were cogs, set sometimes on the top, sometimes below, and not infrequently in the front or tread of the wheel, as we say of a wagon wheel, just to suit the plan of the mill. From this shaft, at about two and a half feet from the ground, projected two long levers, as long as the building would admit, and at the outer end of these levers was a place for hitching a span of horses; and when in motion the horses would describe a circle of about forty feet diameter, being about the full capacity of the building or shed. The wheel, thus moved by the horses, worked its teeth or cogs into another wheel; and so by other wheels, properly arranged, the power finally reached the runner-stone and performed the grinding process. Another building, adjoining the shed, was constructed for the mill, and was large or small as the wants of the business required. Being all under cover, the milling could be done comfortably in all kinds of weather, and two teams, one to each lever---or sweep, as they called,---would give abundant power and enable the miller to expedite the work readily and satisfactorily. Each person bringing his grist brought also his team, and generally two would splice, as the saying was, and run out their grists in that way.
Bethel was the centre of an early and numerous settlement, and the milling-business their required two mills, both located on Main Street. For the privilege of a ride boys would sit upon the end of one of the sweeps, behind the horses, and drive them through the grinding of the grist.
In those early days everybody drank whisky, and all regarded it as harmless indulgence, except in cases of great abuse, and these were not matters of any special concern to any save the unfortunates themselves. Taverns were plenty, and liquor pretty good and cheap, and the farmers, by the use of a little copper-distilled whisky while waiting at the mill for their turns, could make the time pass off pleasantly and rapidly. Sometimes a song or a story helped to relieve the tediousness of the waiting, and sometimes a wrestle, a foot-race, jumping, pitching quoits, a game of checkers, and not unfrequently a regular old-fashioned fight, added to the interest of the occasion. At night a fire would be kindles in a sheltered place, and, sitting around it, smoking, chewing tobacco, and drinking, would cluster all who were waiting their turns. Then was the time of telling marvelous stories of bears, wolves, and panthers,---how they depredated on the stock of the farmers; how the farmer hunted them in great peril, running them up trees, into caves, thickets, finally overhauling them with dogs, and then the fight, escape, or death. Many a little boy would sit and listen to those wonderful, and to him terrible, stories, night after night, until his brain would be so full of them that he was afraid to go home, expecting a panther or a bear to come upon him at every step he had to take, and which, when he did go, was taken at high speed, and his dreams, of course, would be full of the same awful stories the rest of the night. The mother of such a boy would could not see, of course, what should interest him at the mill, with a parcel of old men, to stay till late at night, as was often the case, and would threaten him with severe correction, or, what was more alarming, to inform his father; but still a bear-story or a wolf-hunt was too much a charm for the average pioneer boy to lose through fear of corporeal chastisement.
The sweep horse-mill gave way to the tread-wheel, which is still in use,--- not so much for grinding as for carding wool. The water-courses not affording reliable water-power for all seasons of the year, steam has become the great agent in moving machinery for all purposes. Such is the program made in Clermont in eighty years: from the old mortar to the hand; then horse-sweep; then tread-wheel; then the water-mills on the little streams; and now the fine stream-mills in full operation all over the county.
The first stores were not in brick, stone, or iron-front buildings, as stern history tells us they were in log houses and had a rough bench counter, on each end of which it was the common practice to set a decanter or bottle of whisky for customers to help themselves gratuitously to liberalize their minds and enable them to purchase advantageously.
Flour could not, for several years, be obtained nearer than Cincinnati or Washington, Ky., and other goods were very high, and none but the commonest kind were bought into the county. Tea retailed at from two to three dollars per pound; coffee, seventy-five cents; salt, four and five dollars per bushel; the coarsest calicoes were one dollar a yard; whisky, from one to two dollars a gallon, and as much as the latter was sold as of all other articles. Spices and pepper were worth a dollar per pound; domestic shirtings, sixty-two and one half cents per yard; brown sugar, from twenty-five to thirty cents per pound; loaf sugar, from forty to fifty; butter, twenty-five; corn, a dollar per bushel; and, as to wheat, there was scarcely a price known for three years till the completion of the mill at Lytlestown (Williamsburgh).
There was no market for several years, beyond the wants of the settlers, which were sufficient to swallow up all the surplus products of the farmer; but when such an outlet was found, it was through the Ohio Rover by keel-boats to the Southern States. From 1825 to 1830 there were opened many large stores all over the county, doing a large business; and, glancing over a daily journal (day-book) of the business done, we get and present a view of the markets, customs, and exchange of that period in Williamsburgh: Wool-cards were in good and frequent demand at sixty-two and a half cents apiece. Then the nimble fingers of winsome lasses handled those more zealously than do their granddaughters their piano, organ, or guitar. Stern necessity, not frivolous fashion, dictated the exercise, for their calicoes, of not over-neat patterns, closed scarce at thirty-seven and a half cents a yard, while butter ruled from five and a quarter to eight cents per pound; so that a gown of one was a fair exchange for forty or fifty pounds of the other. Honey was preserved in half-gallon jars, at twenty-five cents each. Powder, at fifty cents a pound, and lead at twelve and a half, were in constant demand, for your hunter of that day was a great executioner of the denizens of the forest. Young spend-thrifts were curbed in extravagance by the ruinous rates of twelve and a half cents per hundred for cigars. Shirting that was neither white nor fine was firm at eighteen and three-quarter cents per yard, and washings were cleared with indigo at twenty-five cents per ounce. Our ancestors of that day drank their coffee at twenty-five to twenty-eight cents per pound, and occasionally sipped tea at one dollar and fifty cents, and chewed tobacco unceasingly at twelve and a half cents per pound. Their pepper cost them fifty cents a pound, and their salt one dollar and a half per bushel. Corn sold for twenty cents, oats twenty-five, and potatoes fifty cents a bushel, while nails were twelve and a half and iron eight cents per pound. The girls, for one momentous occasion in life, deemed two hundred and forty-six eggs a fair barter for one pair of white cotton stockings,---an extravagance as reckless as their simplicity was admirable.
Very frequent charges, such as "Dr." to cash loaned six and one-quarter cents, "Dr." to cash loaned twelve and one half or eighteen and three-quarters, and sometimes as much as thirty-seven and one-half cents, teach us that even then there was a stringency in the money circulation. And, alas for human credit! Not all these charges are balanced. One item that commands attention, if not respect, is "Cr. by twelve hundred gallons of whisky, at twelve and one-half cents per gallon", and the same book shows where it went, and more too. The exceptions are rare when in a bill of goods the item, "Dr. to whisky" does not occur. Nor was the vendor without his profit, for the charges on sales are at the rate of twelve and one-half cents per quart (the same bought at that figure per gallon), and seems to have been the one thing needful. Often, the item stands, like Napoleon, "solitary and alone", but generally it heads the list, proving that it was first in war, first in peace, and first in the mouths of our countrymen. The demand appears to have been regular, subject to occasional violent expansions, which we firmly presume to have been caused by the exigencies of harvest, log-rollings, house-raisings, corn-huskings, sheep-shearings, and (there is no disputing the fact: the day-book shows it) quiltings:
Dr. to ½ gal.whisky 25
" " ½ lb. tobacco ..6 ¼
" " salt .. 6 ¼==37 ½
is a fair specimen of hundreds of similar entries
The effects in the town where the store was kept (Williamsburgh, now the banner temperance town of Clermont) were obvious, and it is idle to deny them. No wonder that we have momentarily to rescue from oblivion the fate of a little girl in that town,---a tender little girl whose mangled form and crushed and broken bones long since mouldered away in a forgotten grave, whither she was sent by her father's drunken frenzy; nor need we feel surprised that the jury gave the wretch an acquittal, for drunkenness was very common, and "a fellow-feeling makes us wonderous kind".
The day- book and journal from whose pages we have gleaned is quite as noteworthy in what is not shown. Silks have no notice, the perfumes and powders of the modern toilet are not mentioned, and embroideries were absent, as our grandmothers won their suitors without such superstitious aid. "Our best respects to thee, Old Ledger, with thy faded letters and yellowed leaves! For we feel thou that hast taught us a lesson; and, however much men may sigh for the 'good days of old', we know for a truth that our farms are better tilled, and our homes are better filled; but that our wives are better willed stands for argument". *
The village store was a grand theatre in which to study human nature, for there centred the voluminous "chimney-corner law", expounded by the solemn but constitutionally lazy wiseacres who loafed and talked, discussed politics and gossip, and attended to everybody's business and affairs but their own. The heads of many barrels have been worn through by everlasting sitting of these persevering gentry, who wore out the patience of the good storekeeper, his customers, and the underpinning of their trousers in solving great constitutional questions of government or finance and tariff, and in retailing the faults and foibles of people "the latches of whose shoes they were unworthy to unloose".
" Prof. Byron Williams.
The first hotels in the county were quaint hostelries, generally double log cabins, called taverns, and kept by generous-hearted landlords and presided over in the culinary department by the best cooks in the country, the landlord's wife, a tidy woman who kept every nook and corner of the rustic inn in perfect order, and with her own hands prepared all the viands for the table. The first was opened in Williamsburgh; then at Bethel; near Batavia; then at Milford; then at New Richmond; then at Point Pleasant; and then at Felicity. They had to pay annually a license-fund into the county treasury, regulated according to their rank and business; and the landlords in those days were notable personages and men of consequence, distinguished for their good cheer and ability to tell a story, and, in short, knew how to keep a hotel. The taverns then all had a "bar", and the signs read "entertainment for man and beast", and not unfrequently the entertainment of the bar was so good and extensive that the former was turned into the latter. All the roads were bad,---hardly roads, but "traces" and "blazed ways",---most of the traveling was done on horseback, and even the judges and the lawyers traveled thus from county to county, and at these old-time taverns many a spree occurred and great were the yarns told by those collected in after a long day's ride, fording creeks and swamp-lands.
Many of our readers will remember the musterings under the old system that prevailed in Ohio, the township trainings, and the general musters by counties or military districts, and what screaming farces they were in a military sense. They were great days for the captains, majors, colonels, and brigadiers who had never smelled powder and were barely versed in the manual of arms to give orders and perform the simplest evolutions. It was a big sight to see, though, when a multitude of farmers and boys assembled in a big meadow, some barefooted, some in tow breeches and straw hats, some with old flint-lock muskets and smooth-bore rifles or shot-guns, and some with hoe-handles or sticks, cut in the most convenient patch of woods, going through the evolutions and marching and countermarching around the field. But the greatest sight was when a hollow square was formed, and the gauntleted brigadier, with vast and shining epaulets and chapeau with plumes a foot long, rode haughtily and stately in to harangue the men on their duties before dismissing them. The picture of one of these gorgeously gotten-up brigadiers is photographed in the memories of thousands as the most impressive and ponderous military figure they ever saw or ever will see.
In olden times it was the custom to bind out by letters of indenture such boys or young men as desired, or their parents or guardians wished to learn some trade or occupation. Then, in order to be a good workman or mechanic in any department of industry, one had to serve a term of years, and the result was the country had No.1 workmen and men of good character. It was not considered degrading to be thus bound out or to thus be apprenticed to a master, and many of the best men in after years were, when boys, indentured to some one to learn their trade by serving a long period as an apprentice. Sometimes a boy would be apprenticed to learn the art and mystery of farming or husbandry for a term (depending on his age when he began) of ten, twelve, or fourteen years, and the articles of indenture would stipulate "that his said master he should faithfully serve, his lawful commands everywhere readily obey, and should not absent himself from his said master's service without leave. And further, that he would not play at cards, dice, or other unlawful games, and should not waste his master's goods, neither commit fornication or intermarry during his apprenticeship". Then, on his part, the master agreed in solemn instrument, under seal, that "he would furnish his apprentice good and sufficient meat, drink, lodging, and clothes, and that he would teach, or cause him to be taught, the art of husbandry, and also to read, write, and cipher so far and quite through what in arithmetic was commonly called "The Single Rule of Three". And often the master agreed to give the apprentice, on his arrival at his majority (twenty-one years of age), a certain amount of land by a deed of general warranty, and invariably it was one of the terms in the original stipulation to give him, at the termination of his apprenticeship, a good suit of clothes, a saddle, or a horse. Frequently the agreement called for the master to train the apprentice in habits of obedience, industry, and morality, and at the close of service give him two good suits of wearing-apparel,---one of which should be suitable for Sundays and the other for working-days,---and also a new Bible.
It was very common, up to the year 1840, to bind out boys to learn the trades of blacksmithing, carpentering, boot-and- shoe making, and other branches of industry so honorable and necessary in all countries, and particularly in our land. In the articles of indenture to a carpenter the apprentice agreed, or it was stipulated by his parent or guardian for him, "to learn the trade, art, mystery, or occupation of a house carpenter and joiner, and to dwell with and serve his said master in all such lawful business as he should be put to the best of his abilities and powers". The master in turn agreed to teach and instruct him, or cause the same to be done, in all the arts and mysteries of the occupation to which he had been bound, "and to furnish him with meat, drink, washing, lodging, and apparel for summer and winter, and all other necessaries proper and convenient for such apprentice during the term of his apprenticeship, and when he arrived at twenty-one give him two suits of wearing apparel, one of which should be new, one hand-saw, one hammer, one jack-plane, one fore-plane, one smoothing-plane, and a new Bible",---a book all received when they had finished their trades and started out in life.
No better index can be found to the tone and culture of a country than is discovered in the wills of its dying heads of families, and the musty volumes of the county and the antique parchments of the last wills and testaments of the pioneers show the high religious sentiment that existed in the early days. They most invariably point to humanity's brightest side, though occasionally the testator has cut off a wayward daughter with a shilling or a willful and wicked son with a dollar, and his curse.
The first wills on record usually begin something like this:
" In the name of God, amen. I, A.B., being in a sick and low condition, but of perfect mind and memory, thanks be to God for his mercies, calling to mind the mortality of my body, and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last will and testament; and, principally, and first of all, I recommend my soul to the hands of Almighty God that gave it, and my body I recommend to the earth, to be decently buried in a Christian manner; and as touching such worldly estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me in this life, I give, dismiss, and dispose of the same in the following manner."
Then follows the distribution of his real and personal property. What volumes of sound theology and deep-hearted piety, of Christian philanthropy and noble manhood, are contained in these simple but kind words! Again, another would begin and continue till the distributing clauses were reached something like the foregoing, in these words:
" In the name of the Almighty Father, amen. I, A.B., being very weak in body, but in sound mind and memory, and knowing it is appointed for all men once to die, and being desirous to settle up my worldly affairs, and thereby be the better prepared to leave this world when it shall please the Lord to call me from it, do make and publish this my last will and testament, and desire that it may be received as such by all whom it may concern. And first, I commit my soul into the hands of Almighty God, and my body to the earth, to be interred in a decent Christian burial at the discretion of my executors, hereinafter named, and so on."
To perfect the titles and pass the fee, certified copies of all wills of non-residents of the county who had lands in its limits had to be admitted to record in the county and spread upon its records. Hence there are many wills of Virginians and Kentuckians recorded to pass the title to real estate entered by them, at an early date, on land-warrants issued to them or their fathers for services in the Revolutionary war in the Virginia line, on the Continental Establishment. Of these is the curious will of Joseph Carrington, who entered and owned Carrington's survey, No. 631, including the present town of Loveland, made and signed April 2, 1802, by the testator, in the county of Cumberland, State of Virginia. In this instrument, Carrington willed and directed that his faithful negro woman "Tiller" be emancipated after his death, and that his executors convey to her, to become her attribute and indefeasible property, her husband, his (Carrington's) negro man York, and her two female children, Betty and Chloe, and, whenever it should be her desire, to assist her in the emancipation of the above York, Betty, and Chloe. Carrington further devised to her during her natural life one of his best tracts of land in his home county, ordered his executors to pay her £20 English sterling, give her a good feather-bed, some furniture, a fine bay horse, a saddle and bridle, three good milch cows, and small cattle to make the number seven, one good brood-sow, and other hogs to make the number ten. Then the residue of his slaves---a very large number---he divided equally among his children.
Samuel J. Cabell, of Nelson Co., Va., died, leaving a will dated June 4, 1818, and a codicil thereto attached of the 6th of July following. He owned two surveys, each of eighteen hundred and thirty-three and one-third acres, Nos. 5229 and 5230, in Clermont (Wayne township), Brown, and Clinton Cos., and which he devised to his daughter, Mildred M. Cartwright, and he further ordered his executors to purchase two male slaves between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three, and one female slave about the same age, whom he devised to the aforesaid daughter. The executors were directed to select sixty-four of his (testator's) most valuable slaves, out of which (?) his daughter Paulina was to have ten; his daughter Peggy, ten; his daughter Emmeline, twelve; the residue of the said sixty-four, as also all his other slaves, were to be equally divided between his three sons,---George Washington Cabell, Patrick Henry Cabell, and Samuel J. Cabell, Jr., except that the latter was to get and have "Old Simeon", "Old Tom", and "Old Harry", over and above the equal division as to the rest, for which he was to pay a reasonable value.
These two are but slight specimens of many of the old slave-code wills of men who once owned large possessions in the county. But, thanks to kind Heaven! The traffic in human flesh is among the things of the past in our country, now happily relieved of the accursed system that disgraced our flag and brought our boasted free institutions into disrepute.
But the old pioneers---veteran patriarchs and sainted mothers---are fast passing away. Death is striking them down one by one like deer from the herd, and soon we must feel the force of the poet's beautiful lines:
"Where are the hardy yeoman
Who battled for the land?
Oh, know ye where they slumber?
No monument appears
For Freedom's pilgrims to draw nigh
And hallow with their tears;
Or were no works of glory
Done in the olden time?
And has the West no story
Of deathless deeds sublime?"
Yes, the everlasting monuments of our sympathies with the pioneers are reared in our beautiful towns and villages, our fine farms and cozy residences, our manifold improvements, schools, and churches, secured by their valor and labors, we, their descendants, can hardly turn our eyes without being reminded of the good works of our forefathers, whose strong arms and honest hearts gave us this rich heritage. Then let us be true to their memory and transmit to our successors the noble institutions which their patriotism, endurance, and virtues have given us, and hope, as one generation passes away and another comes, that each succeeding one may attain to a higher degree of excellence, become wiser, better, and happier in all that constitutes a State, founded on the broad basis of justice, equality, truth, and virtue.