Portage County History
(Source: "History of Portage County, Ohio" Chicago Warner, Beers & Company 1885)
Transcribed by: G.T. Transcription Team
Altitudes in Portage County above Lake Erie
Railroad Summit ...603
Topographical Summit; north....685
Cuyahoga River Bridge ...........474
Charlestown Center .................575
The Pre-Historic Races--Mound-Builders-Their Great Antiquity--Occupation of the Country--The Wonderful Monuments Which they left behind them--Some Evidence of their Existence in Portage County--The North American Indians--Their Supposed Origin--Brief Sketch of them--Indians of Portage County--The Great Trail--The Indian Chiefs Bigson, Stignish and Big Cayuga--Extracts from the Reminiscences of Christian Cackler on the Indians of this Section.
That a very numerous race of people occupied that portion of the North American Continent now known as the United States, long anterior to its occupancy by the present Indians, is beyond proof, but of this people nothing is now known, more than can be gleaned or conjectured from the multiplicity of massive works left by them throughout, almost the entire extent of the country. These works exist to-day as mounds, varying in size and character, and scattered either in groups or singly, from the sources of the Allegheny to the headwaters of the Missouri, and, extending southward, stretch from the Appalachians in the Carolinas to Texas. There are three grand divisions of these elevations, but they all bear the same general characteristics, being either mounds in the true sense, or circumvallations of earth and stone, the State of Ohio, alone, it is computed, containing no less than10,000 of the former and 1,500 of the latter, some of which are of a very marked and extraordinary character. These mysterious dwellers of a long-forgotten age, called Mound-Builders, in lieu of a more accurate designation, evidently possessed a civilization distinctive of themselves, and that they used a written language appears entirely probable, from some peculiar hieroglyphic characters discovered upon their pottery ware and stone implements. But, beyond their almost imperishable monuments, the archaeologist seeks in vain for a further solution of the grand problem of the coming, the life, and the exodus or decay of this mysterious race. On opening a mound, he finds only moldering skeletons, scattered and shattered remnants of vessels of earthenware, rude weapons of warfare, axes of stone, flint drills, spear-heads, and bottles of irregular, yet finished workmanship, cut and polished from extremely hard stone, never, or rarely, indigenous to the spot where found, showing the owners of them to have been an essentially migratory people, or a conquering nation, shifting about from place to place, yet leaving monuments behind them whose imperishability is not inferior to that of Cheops.
A thousand interesting queries arise respecting them, but the most searching investigations only give us vague and unsatisfactory speculations as an answer. If we knock at their tombs no spirit reposing within responds to the summons, but a sepulchral echo comes ringing down the ages, reminding us how fruitless the search into that inscrutable past over which the curtain of oblivion seems to have been irrevocably drawn. Whence came these people; who and what were they, and whither did they go? Some writers have discovered evidences, convincing, apparently, to themselves, that this pre-historic race came form the other side of the globe, and that their advent was made at different times and form different points of a general hive in the supposed cradle of humanity--Central Asia. Others think them to have been the forgotten ancestors of the degenerate and now decaying American Indians, who, having no preservative written language, the memory of their ancestors has gradually slipped from them. Still others fancy them to have been the original indigenous, spontaneous products of the soil. Regardless, however, of the origin, progress and destiny of this curious people, the fact of their having been here is certain; therefore the best that can be done by the archaeologist is to examine their works and draw from them the conclusions that seem the most probable.
The mounds vary in height from about five feet to thirty feet, with several notable exceptions, when they reach an altitude of eighty to ninety feet. The erections consist of villages, altars, temples, idols, cemeteries, monuments, camps, fortifications and pleasure grounds. They are chiefly of some symmetrical figure, as circle, ellipse, rectangular parallelogram, or regular polygon, and inclose from one or two acres to as high as fifty acres. The circumvallations generally contain the mounds, although there are many of the latter to be found standing isolated on the banks of a stream or in the midst of a broad plateau, being evidently thus placed as outposts of offense or defense, for the fact that they were a very warlike and even conquering race, is fully attested by the numerous fortifications to be met with wherever any trace of them is found.
The works of the Mound-Builders in the United States are divided into three groups: the first group extends from the upper sources of the Allegheny River to the headwaters of the Missouri; the second occupies the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys, and the third stretches across the country, with very little interruptions, from South Carolina to the western limits of Texas. These groups are sub-divided into three varieties of elevations, mounds, inclosures and effigies, which are designated as mounds of sepulture, sacrifice, worship, observation, commemoration and defense. Mounds of sepulture are more numerous than the others, are conical in shape, and range from three to fifty feet in height. They usually contain the bones of one or more skeletons, accompanied by ornaments and implements of stone, mica, slate, shell or obsidian, besides pottery, whole and fragmentary, bone and copper beads, and the bones of animals. Mounds of sacrifice are recognized by their stratification, being convex and constructed of clay and sand on the normal level of the soil, on top of which can be found a layer of ashes, charcoal and calcined bones, which in time has a layer of clay and sand, followed by more ashes charcoal, etc., till the gradual up building resulted in the manner we now see. These mounds also often contain beads, stone implements, pottery and rude sculpture, and occasionally a skeleton, showing that they may have been used as burial places. Mounds of worship, which are comparatively few, have generally a large base and low elevation, and are in some instances terraced and having inclined ways to the top. Their size and character have led to the inference that these flat-topped mounds originally were crowned with temples of wood, for had they been stone, traces of that material would be found. Mounds of observation, or beacon or signal mounds, are generally found upon elevated positions, and apparently could have sub served no other purpose than as "look-out" stations, or beacon points, and as confirmatory of the latter purpose, ashes and charcoal have been found imbedded in their summits. These mounds occur on the line of what are considered the outposts of these pre-historic conquerors. Mounds of commemoration of some important event or character are here and there to be found, and they are thus classed because from their composition, position and character they are neither sepulchral, sacrificial, temple, defensive nor observation mounds. They are generally constructed of earth, but in some instances in Ohio, where they are stone erections, they are considered to be monumental. Mounds of defense, however, with the exception possibly of one or two effigies in Ohio, are the most remarkable. These mounds in some instances give evidence that their builders were acquainted with all the peculiarities in the construction of the best defensive earth and stone-works. They are always upon high ground, on precipitous bluffs and in positions that would now be selected by the accomplished strategist. The gateways to these forts are narrow and are defended by the usual wall in front of them, whilst the double angle at the corners and projecting walls along the sides for enfilading attack show a knowledge of warfare that is phenomenal in so rude a people as their implements would indicate. Moats are often noticed around these fortifications, and cisterns are to be found within the inclosures.
When the first settlers arrived at the sites of Marietta and Circleville, Ohio, a number of these earthworks were discovered, some of which yet exist; and at Newark when the circumvallation known as the "fort" was first seen by those who settled there in the early years of the century, a large tree, whose age was possibly not less than six hundred years, stood upon one of the embankments over twenty feet above the general level, thus giving great antiquity to the erection. Ohio contains many curious forms of these works, two of the most being in Licking County and known respectively as the "Eagle" and "Alligator" effigies. The first is a bird with outstretched wings raised about three or four feet above the ground in the same manner as a bas-relief of the sculptors; the other is an animal closely resembling an alligator. They are supposed to have been idols, or in some way connected with the religion of the people who built them.
In Ross County a defensive inclosure occupies the summit of a lofty, detached hill, twelve miles east of Chillicothe. This hill is not far from 400 feet in perpendicular height, and some of its sides are actually inaccessible, all of them being abrupt. The defenses consisted originally of a stone wall carried around the hill a little below the brow, the remains of this wall existing now only in a line of detached stones, but showing plainly their evident purpose and position. The area inclosed embraced about 140 acres, and the wall itself was two and one-quarter miles in length. Trees of the largest size now grow upon the ruins of this fortification. About six miles east of Lebanon, Warren County, on the Little Miami River, is another extensive fortification,. Called "Fort Ancient." It stands on a plain, nearly horizontal, about 236 feet above the level of the river, between two branches with very steep banks. The extreme length of these works in a direct line is nearly a mile, although following their angles, retreating and salient, they probably reach a distance of six miles. Another of those inclosures is located in the southeastern part of Highland County, on an eminence 500 feet above the level of Brush Creek, which washes its base. The walls of the fortification are over half a mile long, and the works are locally called "Fort Hill." The remains of an inclosure may yet be seen near Carrollton, a few miles south of Dayton, Montgomery County. All of those inclosures were evidently constructed for defensive purposes, and give signal proofs of the military knowledge of their builders.
Burial mounds are very numerous in this State, and there are few counties that have not a greater or less number of these tumuli. The most remarkable of this class was a mound opened by John S. B. Matson, in Hardin County, in which over 300 human skeletons were found. Some antiquarians, however, entertain the belief that they were not all the remains of Mound-Builders, but many of them Indian remains, as it is well known that the latter often interred their dead in those monuments of their predecessors. When the first bank of pioneers to the Western Reserve arrived at the mouth of Conneaut Creek, July 4, 1796, they discovered several mounds, and could easily trace the outline of a large cemetery then overgrown with forest. Explorations were subsequently made, and some gigantic skeletons exhumed from mounds which stood on the site of Conneaut, Ashtabula County. The frames and jaw-bones were those of giants, and could have not belonged to the race of Indians then inhabiting any portion of this country. Several years ago a burial mound was opened in Logan County, from which three skeletons were taken. The frame of one was in an excellent state of preservation, and measured nearly seven feet from the top of the skull to the lower part of the heel. In 1850 a mound lying on the north bank of Big Darby about one mile northwest of Plain City in Union County, was opened and several massive skeletons taken therefrom. The lower jaw-bones, like those found at Conneaut, could be easily fitted over the jaw of a very large man, outside the flesh. These bones-and they are usually large wherever found--indicate that the Mound-Builders were a gigantic race fo being, fully according in size with the colossal remains they have left behind them.
The largest mound in Ohio, called the "Great Mound," is located on the east bank of the Miami River, a short distance southeast of Miamisburg, Montgomery County. The surface elevation at this point is more than 150 feet above the level of the stream. The mound measures 800 feet around the base, and about sixty-five feet in height, though archaeologists claim that it was originally more than eighty feet high. Explorations and the wear and tear of the elements have worn off the summit about fifteen feet. At the time of the pioneers first came to the Miami Valley this mound was covered with trees, a large maple crowning the top, from which, it is said, the few cabins then constituting Dayton were plainly visible. In 1869 a shaft was sunk from the top of the mound to a distance of two feet below the base, and about eight feet from the surface a human skeleton was found in a sitting posture facing due east. A deposit of vegetable matter, bones of small animals, also wood and stone surrounded the skeleton, while a layer of clay, ashes and charcoal seems to have been the mode of burial.
There are few traces left of the Mound-Builders in Portage County, although at an early day in the settlement of this section, many small tumuli were observed, which the plow has long since almost entirely obliterated. Still, there are eminences in various sections in the northern and southeastern portions of the county which seemingly owe their origin more to the labors of man than nature. In Randolph Township, we have been informed a mound was opened some years ago which disclosed the bones of a skeleton, together with some fragments of pottery and rude stone implements, To the northeast of Hiram Center the writer noticed an elevation that bears the almost unmistakable marks of artificial workmanship, and it is believed that if excavations were made into it the usual pre-historic "finds" would be the reward. In the townships of Suffield and Streetsboro are several tumuli which resemble the works of the Mound-Builders, but as no scientific examination has been made into them they are still held in doubt. In Palmyra Township, a little northwest of the Center, about one mile therefrom, is a low but well defined series of mounds, almost unnoticeable to the untrained eye, that have all the characteristics of the true mound. They are not far from where there was, in the early days of the county, an Indian camp or small village, the spot being pointed out to us by Mr. Alva Baldwin. But all these indications, until they have some actual foundation given them by examination, must be taken with a grain of allowance. The remains of this strange people are usually found near the larger water courses and lakes, and as Portage County lies somewhat out of the course of these by-ways of navigation, many evidences of their presence cannot be looked for here. Yet, that they passed over those very hills is beyond all reasonable doubt, for their mounds are to be seen eastward and westward of this section.
The question of the origin of the North American Indians has long interested archaeologists, and is one of the most difficult they have been called upon to answer. The commonly accepted opinion is that they are a derivative race, and sprang from one or more of the ancient peoples of Asia. Some writers have put forward the theory that the Indians, from their tribal organization, faint similarity of language and religion, land the high cheekbone in the well developed specimen of the race, are the descendants of the two lost tribes of Israel. Others contend that they descended from the Hindoos, and that they Brahmin idea which uses the sun to symbolize the Creator has its counterpart in the sun-worship of some Indian tribes. They have lived for centuries without much apparent progress--purely a hunter race--while the Caucasians, under the transforming power of Christianity--the parent of art, science and civil government--has made the most rapid advancement. Under the influences of the church, however, the Indian has often shown a commendable capability for accepting the teachings of civilization; but the earnest efforts of her devoted missionaries have often been nullified or totally destroyed by the unwise policy pursued by the governing power, or the dishonesty and selfishness of the officials in charge. Stung to madness at our injustice and usurpation of his hunting-grounds, he has remained a savage, and his career in the upward march of man is forever stunted. The Indian race is in the position of a half-grown giant cut down before reaching manhood. There never has been a savage people who could compare with them in their best estate. Splendid in physique, with intense shrewdness and common sense, and possessed of a bravery unexcelled, there never was a race of uncivilized people who had within them so much to make them great as the red man. Whatever he has been or is, he was never charged with being a coward or a fool, and as compared to the barbarians of other portions of the globe, he is as "Hyperion to a Satyr."
The advent of the whites upon the shores of the Western continent engendered in the bosom of the aborigines a spark of jealousy, which, by the impolitic course of the former, was soon fanned into a blaze, and a contest was thereby inaugurated that sooner or later must end in the extermination of the latter. The struggle has been long and bitter; many a campaign has been planned by warriors worthy and able to command armies, for the destruction of the pale-faced invaders. When Philip struck the blow which he hoped would forever crush the growing power of the white man, both sides recognized the supreme importance of the contest, and the courage and resources of the New England colonists were taxed to the utmost to avoid a defeat, which meant final destruction. The fierce resistance of later days, as the Indians were driven farther and farther toward the setting sun, are historic facts with which the student is already familiar. The conspiracy of Pontiac, the famous Ottawa chieftan, in 1763, failed in its object of extermination, and the bravery and sagacity of the celebrated Indian leaders, Brandt, Red Jacket, Cornplanter, Cornstalk, Logan, Black Hoof, Tarhe, Little Turtle and Blue Jacket, could not prevail against the heroes of the Revolution, and the triumph of Wayne in 1794 closed a long series of bloody Indian wars. A few years passed by, when Tecumseh flashed out like a brilliant meteor in the firmament of great Indian leaders, and organized the Western tribes for a last desperate effort to hold their own against the advancing tide of civilization. But he too went down in defeat and death before the prowess of Harrison's legions. When the Creeks, in 1813, through the intrigue of Tecumseh, challenged the people of the South to mortal combat, it required the genius of Jackson, and soldiers worthy of such a chief, to avert a serious calamity. But since the decisive battle of Tohopeka, March 27, 1814, there has been but one Indian war of any considerable magnitude, viz.: the Seminole war in Florida. The Black Hawk outbreak in Illinois in 1832 required but a few weeks' service of raw militia to quell, but the Seminoles of Florida, led by the indomitable Osceola, a half-breed of great talents, carried on a bitter struggle from 1835 to 1839, when their power was completely crushed, and they were soon after removed beyond the Mississippi. Since then campaigns have dwindled into mere raids, and battles into skirmishes. The massacre of Custer's command in Montana must be regarded as an accident of no permanent importance, and a dozen such melancholy events would not in the least alarm the country. Indian fighting, though not free from peril, now serves a useful purpose for the army graduates of West Point, who might otherwise go to their graves without ever having smelled hostile gunpowder.
Two hundred years ago the white man lived in America only by the red man's consent, and within that period the combined strength of the red man might have driven the white into the sea. Along the Atlantic coast are still to be seen the remains of the rude fortifications which the early settlers built to protect themselves form the host of enemies around; but to find the need of such protection now, one must go beyond the Mississippi to a few widely scattered points in Arizona, New Mexico and Oregon. The enemy that once camped in sight of the Atlantic has retreated toward the slope fo the Pacific, and from that long retreat there can be no returning. East of the stream which he called the Father of Waters, nothing is left of the Indian except the beautiful names he gave and the graves of his dead, save here and there the remnants of once powerful tribes, living on reservations by the sufferance of their conquerors. The Indian has resisted and will continue to resist every effort to civilize him by coercion--every attempt to force at the point of the bayonet the white man's ideas into his brain. He does not want and will not have our manners or our code of morals forced upon him. The greatest redeeming feature in the Indian character and career is that he has always preferred the worst sort of freedom to the best sort of slavery. Whether his choice was a wise one or not the reader can determine; but it is impossible not to feel some admiration for the indomitable spirit that has never bowed to the yoke--never called any man "master." The Indian is a savage, but he never was, never will be, a slave. We have treated him like a dog and are surprised that he bites. In a speech in New York City, not long before his death, Gen. Sam Houston, indisputable authority on such matters, declared with solemn emphasis, that "there never was an Indian war in which the white man was not the aggressor." Aggression leading to war is not our heaviest sin against the Indian. He has been deceived, cheated and robbed to such an extent that he looks upon most of the white race as villains to whom he should show no quarter. A very decided feeling of justice to the abused red man is gaining ground of late years, and numerous able pens have been engaged in defending him, among whom are Joaquin Miller, the poet, and Hon. A. B. Meacham. But we can well afford, after getting all is land and nearly exterminating him, to extend to him a little cheap sympathy.
The Indians of this continent were never so numerous as has generally been supposed, although they were spread over a vast extent of country. Continual wars prevented any great increase, and their mode of life was not calculated to promote longevity or numbers. The great body of them originally were along the Atlantic seaboard, and most of the Indian tribes had traditions that their forefathers lived in splendid hunting grounds far to the westward. The best authorities affirm that on the discovery of this country the number of the scattered aborigines of the territory now forming the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan could not have exceeded 18,000.
The earliest date of any authentic knowledge of the Indian in this section is 1650, when the Eries held possession of the northern portion of what is now Ohio. They lived along the southern borders of the lake which bears their name, but when their domains were invaded by the Iroquois, about 1655,most of them fell before their relentless foes, whilst the remainder became incorporated with other tribes, were driven farther southward, or adopted into those of their conquerors. During the first half of the seventeenth century the Shawnees were living along the valley of the Ohio, but they too, were dispersed by the Five Nations or Iroquois, land dispossessed of their lands, though they subsequently returned to their early hunting grounds. For many years before and after 1700 this entire territory was occupied by the remnants of defeated tribes. In 1750, however, something like permanent occupation had again taken place, and we find in what is now Ohio the Wyandotts, Delawares, Shawanees, Miamis, Munsees, Chippewas, Ottawas, Senecas, Cayugas, Mohawks, Oneidas and Onondagas, the last five being known in history as the Mingoes of Ohio. They were settled mostly along the larger streams and on the southern shore of Lake Erie.
When the first settlers reached what is now Portage County, the then unbroken wilderness was filled with wild animals and nearly as wild men. There were members of several tribes, as this county was among the best of the hunting grounds of the red man. In the northwestern section there were representatives of three tribes: the Senecas, who had their headquarters near the Cuyahoga River, in Streetsboro Township, on land now owned by Samuel Olin, and whose chief was Bigson; the Ottawas, who had their village near the mouth of the Little Cuyahoga River, whose chief was Stignish, and the Chippewas, who lived further west in Medina County, about Chippewa Lake, but who occupied a portion of this section in summer, where they hunted. These tribes had their hunting grounds as well defined as the boundaries of a modern farm, and every Indian knew where the limits of his "range" was as well as if it had been surveyed.
Bigson, the Seneca chief, was about six feet in height, of a powerful and muscular frame, well proportioned, with keen black eyes, a stern and dignified look, honest and upright in all his dealings with the whites, a firm friend, or an implacable enemy. His family consisted of four sons and three daughters, only two of the sons being with him: John Amur and John Mohawk, the latter the one who shot Diver in Deerfield Township. The husbands of the daughters were George Wilson, Nickshaw and Wobmung. These Indians did most of their trading with Capt. Heman Oviatt, who kept a little Indian store about one mile south of Hudson. They named the old trader "Coppaqua," from the fact that he was so badly cheated in a trade on one occasion that he cried--the term Coppaqua meaning "to shed tears." This, also, was the Seneca name for Cuyahoga Falls.
In what is now Windham Township there was a village of Indians up to about 1807 or 1808, a short distance northwest of where now stands the depot of the Mahoning Branch of the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad. There were small clearings and a few decaying wigwams still to be seen when the first settlers arrived in that section. There was, also, an old orchard, set out by the red men, and form the old trees, one of the sons of those first settlers informed the writer he had eaten apples. An Indian trail ran along the northern border, and at various points the pioneers discovered the remains of villages. What are now Nelson and Hiram Townships was a favorite hunting resort of the Indians, and members of several tribes periodically visited this section, among whom were Senecas, Ottawas, Onondagas, and a few Oneidas, but mostly Cayugas, with their chief Big Cayuga, and his nephew, Snipnose Cayuga, who succeeded him, after the redoubtable Capt. Delaun Mills had killed the former. The "ledges" in the upper part of Nelson afforded excellent shelter for the red skins and a few wigwams could always be seen under them. Many thrilling tales are told of the adventures, hair-breadth escapes and dreadful vengeance of the early settlers, and particularly of Capt. Mills, the most of which, however, has been summed up in the sketch of Nelson Township.
When the first settlers came into Palmyra Township, and for several years afterward, a number of families belonging to the Onondaga and Oneida tribes were living in that locality. The Onondagas had their village about one mile west of the Center, a little to the northeast of the residence of Mr. Alva Baldwin, and one of the trees under which they used to congregate is still standing on the spot. This settlement was on the line of the "Great Trail," which extended from Fort McIntosh, where Beaver, Penn., now is, to Sandusky and Detroit. From the Big Beaver the trail passed up the left branch of the Mahoning, crossing it about three miles above Youngstown; thence by way of the Salt Springs in Trumbull County, through Milton and on through the upper portion of Palmyra; thence through Edinburg, after crossing Silver Creek one mile and a half north of the Center road; thence through Ravenna and Franklin, crossing the Cuyahoga at Standing Rock, about a mile from the city of Kent, where the waters enter the narrow gorge made so famous by the "Leap" of Capt. Brady; the trail then passed in a northwesterly direction to Sandusky. Along this great thoroughfare parties of Indians frequently passed for many years, even after the whites had taken possession of the country. There were several large piles of stones in Palmyra Township, along this trail, under which human skeletons were found, supposed to be the remains of Indians slain in war, or murdered enemies, and as it was the custom of the red men to cast stones upon the graves of their dead foes, they each, in passing, helped to form the piles. In 1814, near where the trail crosses Silver Creek, several devices were found carved upon trees. The bark had been carefully shaved off, and in one instance seven Indian figures carved thereon, one of which was without a head, the inference being that seven of the red skins had started out on one of their forays, and that one of the band had been slain; hence the memorial.
The Indians living in Deerfield at the time Diver was shot were, according to Christian Clacker, who knew them well, Senecas, and not Mohawks, as Howe, in his "Historical Collections" makes them, nor were they permanent dwellers in that portion of the county, their camp being in Streets-boro Township, where they would erect, in the winter-time, a large wigwam, spacious enough to contain the whole remnant of their tribe in this section. Nickshaw, who traded horses with Diver, was a son-in-law of the Seneca chief, John Bigson, and John Mohawk, who shot the unfortunate man, was a son of the chief. A detailed account of this affair will be found in the chapter on Deerfield Township. In the summer of 1809 Bigson lost his squaw by death, at their head-quarters on the Cuyahoga River. She was a large, stout woman, and very good looking, having, like her husband, a very dignified, not to say stoical appearance. She was said to be very kind and friendly for an Indian. Her age was between fifty and sixty years. They made a new calico frock for her after she was dead, and placing it on the corpse, literally covered the arms and ankles with silver beads and broaches. She was buried in a coffin made of bark, in a grave three feet deep, being first rolled up in a large blanket, the covering being so arranged that a hole was left that she might see out of it when she was summoned to arise again and enjoy the happy grounds in the domain of the Great Spirit.
This chapter can have no more appropriate closing than to give a few extracts from the recollections of the late Christian Cackler, who was an eye witness to what he relates. Speaking of the head-quarters of John Bigson, the Seneca chief, whom he knew personally for many years, the old gentleman writes in the following quaint style: "I have been there a great many times when they lived there, and if they had anything to bestow upon you in the way of eatables, it was as free as water. They thought it a privilege to give, for they thought it was a token of friendship, and if they gave one they gave all present. Their wigwam was about twenty-five feet long or more, and they had their fire through the middle, and had it so constructed as to leave room for a tier of them to lie down on each side of the fire so as to have their feet to the fire, for they laid on their skins and furs, and were covered over with their blankets. They had a space left open on the ridge of their camp to let the smoke pass out. They had their wigwam thatched with bark, so that it was tight and warm, and had a door in each end so that they could haul in their wood without much chopping. They laid there as warm and comfortable as a king in his palace. The Seneca chief used to gather in all his family connections and lay there all winter. In the spring they would scatter out over their hunting grounds, each family by themselves, and build their wigwams for the summer. They were as careful of their game as we are of our cattle, and would kill nothing unless wanted for present use. * * * They had no government expenses, no taxes to pay, no jails to build, no locks to buy. I think the Indian is the happiest man in the world, in the wilderness. * * * I never knew they had any language in which to swear. He will eat all kinds of animals and fish and horses, or anything that a dog will eat, and sometimes I have thought what a dog would not eat. They often paint their faces in streaks; that denotes peace and friendship. They love whisky and get drunk often."
Describing one of their drunken frolics, Mr. Cackler says: "They got their whisky and had a suit made like a little boy's suit, all whole, but open before so they could stick their arms and legs in. It was fringed all around, and had claws of several kinds--deer, bear, turkey, coon, etc. The one that was dancing would jump, hop and kick around the floor, * * * and when he got tired he would take a drink and another would try his hand. But when they got perfectly drunk, the claws rattling looked more like the devil than anything I ever saw. * * * Then the squaws went into it and got as drunk as could be, and went tumbling around the ground. But after they got through they looked as they had lost their best friends."
The Pioneers of Portage County--Their Heroic Perseverance and Privations--New England Transplanted on the Connecticut Western Reserve--The First Settlement made within the limits of Portage County--First Settlers of Mantua, Ravenna, Aurora and Atwater Townships--Atwater Hall, the First White Child born in the County--First Settlers of Palmyra, Deerfield, Nelson, Rootstown, Randolph, Suffield, Charlestown, Hiram, Franklin, Shalersville, Edinburg, Windham, Paris, Brimfield, Freedom, Streetsboro and Garrettsville Townships--The Portage-Summit Pioneer Association.
Less than one hundred years ago there was not a single white inhabitant a permanent settler throughout the length and breadth of the State of Ohio; less than eighty-seven years ago there was not a single white person in Portage County. Could those who only see this country as it now is, borrow the eyes of those who helped make the transformation, their amazement could not be depicted by words. In place of the now smiling fields and comfortable homes, naught but a vast wilderness of forest would greet the sight. The true story of the first settlement of Portage County has never been told. Those early pioneers were not seeking fortunes, nor fame; they were intent only on making a home for their children, and from that laudable impelling motive has arisen the splendid structure of Western civilization we see all around us. It is astonishing how rapidly accurate and reliable information concerning the pioneer days is perishing. The traditions of those early times have been very carelessly kept, and whoever seeks to collect them finds much difficulty in doing so. Yet, what does remain has been carefully and cautiously collated, keeping ever in view the unreliability of certain sources, but gleaning the rich kernels from out of the debris of shells. The present generation can form no just conception of the trials, tireless labors, sacrifices and privations to which the first settlers heroically submitted. These men whose industry, enterprise and perseverance wrought from out nature's wilds the great prosperity which in to-day's sunlight, from every hillside and glen, looks up to smile upon us, have, in the benefactions they have bestowed upon their children, by leaving this to them for an inheritance, proved themselves greater heroes, because their achievements were nobler and better, than if they had laid the trophies of a blood-sought conquest upon their escutcheons. Courage upon [more coming]
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