"Being subject to diverse inconveniences
want of distinction, I add to my name Shoebridge, in the 22nd of the
month, 1820. John S. Williams."
This is a record from the Bible of John Shoebridge Williams, showing that at the age of 30 he required a distinguishing name and therefore took the middle name, Shoebridge.
[rest is by John S. Williams in "American Pioneer," 1843]
ROBERT WILLIAMS OF RUTHIN, WALES
"My father's name was Robert. He was
born in the town of Ruthin, in Denbighshire just 120 years ago. A
love of novelty soon led him to England, and thence to America.
opened two mercantile establishments in Newbern and Beaufort,
In 1767 he married Elizabeth Dearman, an English lady, and by way of a
honeymoon excursion, brought his wife to America, with the prospect of
a speedy return for settlement. She invited Anne Shoebridge,
Essex, or London, my mother, then a young lady of 19, to visit America,
as her companion. The invitation was accepted. When we
that to cross the Atlantic it then required to be tumbled and tossed on
the waves from eight to twelve weeks at a time, it will be seen that
visit heads most of the honeymoon trips now in fashion.
Twice they were ready to return, once packed up, but a wise Providence ordered that the children of these women should be born Americans.
By his first wife, Elizabeth, he had but one child, Richard, now living in Massillon, or near Massillon, in the sate of Ohio. She, Robert Williams' first wife, died in 1773, and he, Robert Williams, married my mother October 1st, 1774, by whom he had eight children, three only of whom lived to be known by name: Elizabeth Garretson, Samuel Williams, and myself, J.S.Williams. I mention the time of my mother's marriage with some degree of pride. It took place very near, if not the very day that Logan made his celebrated speech, and not far from the time the Bostonians made their great dish of cold water tea.
ROBERT WILLIAMS' BUSINESS REVERSES
"My father is said to have been wealthy, but several causes contributed to lessen his fortune, until at the time of his death, in 1790, a few weeks after my birth, his estate was considerably embarrassed. A great storm at sea seemed, as I have heard, to put the first check to his success. Then the failure of an extensive house in London, then the Revolutionary war, and the reception of continental money. This he kept, in dependence on the Government, until it was nearly worthless. The breaking out of the Revolution (1771), which was concluded in 1775, added to other considerations, determined him to retire from mercantile pursuits, which he did, to a fine estate in Carteret County, N.C., chosen with reference to its value for timber and water power.
ROBERT WILLIAMS' MILL DAM
"He built a fine milling establishment,
flouring and sawing, breasting against a dam, which held an
supply of water in a pond of from six to ten miles in circuit.
was this done till the whole dam and all went down stream into tide
which flowed up the mill-tail. The vast quantity of water which rushed
through the breach in the alluvians of Carolina left a hole of 90 feet
in depth from the top of the dam. This it was necessary to repair
before water could again be accumulated.
"He, my father, was not to be outdone in that way, but mills were built separate at each end of the dam, which are standing yet for all I know. His benevolence, a characteristic of his nation, grew upon him with age: and 'tis said he carried this very far. He also at one time set his whole plantation of slaves free, probably in or about 1780, when the Society of Friends (of which he was a member) manumitted theirs. Several of these stayed about us until we left Carolina, and two, an ancient man named Quam, lived in our house until his death in 1794: and a female named Jenney followed us to Ohio in 1802, and died in our house in 1804. From what was known of these native Africans, it was believed they were nearly, if not quite, 100 years of age at their deaths. If there is a Heaven for the good, which I doubt not, these two must be in it.
"My father's estate, being somewhat embarrassed, and, as is understood, mismanaged by his executors, left my mother little except our homestead of 1100 acres of fine land and part of the personal property. She was still in comfortable, but not by any means in affluent circumstances. It may now be seen that we were neither born with a silver spoon in our mouths nor a very good prospect of having one placed there to remain, and until we shall be satisfied that such things are of real advantage to youth we shall not suffer regrets to arise on account of the darkening of our youthful sky.
EARLY LIFE OF JOHN SHOEBRIDGE WILLIAMS
"In one thing we count ourselves most fortunate. As is customary in the South, aged blacks take care of the children. Old Quam was appointed my guardian, and a more faithful one never protected a ward. There is something surprising about blacks, as well as Indians, that attach them to children, and children to them, more firmly than can, under similar circumstances bind whites. It is an undeniable fact that blacks are more faithful nurses than whites, or at least children seem to think so. I thought nobody equal to old Quam: he thought there never was such a fine, black-haired, curly headed, blue-eyed boy before born, as I was, although I kept him running after me in daytime, like a hen after one chicken. I had a deal of Welsh blood about me, and would go when I pleased, and Quam would not cross me, not he; and thus he was perpetually in a stew to keep me out of every danger, both real and imaginary. He loved my mother as if she were his own, and he knew besides the loss I would be to him; my death would almost kill her, as I was by more than ten her youngest living child. Old Quam escaped from a deal of anxious concern at his death.
"My being so much the youngest, and living in a slave country, which makes white children scarce, my only companion during my first four years was old Quam. He was eminently pious and pre-eminently innocent. He was just such a nurse as was calculated to have a good effect upon me. I remember him well and very vividly the time of his death, by which, at four years, I lost my friend. Previously he had taught me many of the essentials of religion. He had most firmly impressed on my mind that there was a Great Good Man who made everything. That he lived away up in the sky. That he could see all we did. That when we did good he loved and smiled at us, but when we hurt anything or did anybody harm he was sorry, and would frown at us and would not like us. That it was very wrong to displease him. Although Quam knew not a letter, he could repeat whole verses of Scripture, and, as I have heard, some chapters. He use to tell me of wicked people, how they oppressed and destroyed one another, and how the Great Good Man was so angry at some wicked people that he made their country so dark that they could feel the darkness, like grains of corn.
"In this way he would so impress me as to make me cry, till the family would be drawn to know what was the matter. My good mother was eminently pious, too, and always took much pains to impress my mind with love and fear for the Supreme Being, but I could not understand her as I could Quam's simple illustrations.
"I was very much indulged, and had it not been for Quam's pious influence, a boy of my wayward propensities could scarcely have been kept within tolerable bounds. There is no wonder I was indulged when we consider my situation as last in the family and first in the heart of my widowed mother, who, however, never let her feelings overcome her prudence, but kept me within reasonable bounds after Quam's death. While Quam lived, he was not satisfied to be parted from me the whole of any night. He would get up every night in sweet-potato time, and have some roasted by three or four o'clock, and then I was just as regular to wake and my sister must carry me out to Quam in the kitchen. There I would eat potatoes and ask him questions, and we would chat over all our concerns till near daylight, when I would tumble down on his bunk and finish the night in sleeping and he in watching. These things seem to me almost as if they happened last year. Old Quam's great indulgence in satisfying all my inquiries to the best of his ability, and never checking me in asking and inquiring, I have no doubt, the same was of essential service to me. I have not a particle of doubt that it gave me an early memory. I can well remember when two and a half years old, being held one night in a door by my sister to see the sawmill burn, which was say forty rods from the house. I remember the fire that flew towards our house, and their anxiety and precaution in extinguishing sparks on the roof on which was old Quam, and how my teeth chattered with fear and cold. I believe, too, that not only this early and definite memory was the result of his indulging all my inquiries, but that it gave me great facilities in attending to studies and in acquiring knowledge in after life.
"It is miserable treatment to rebuke a child who, from the affection of knowing, will ask a thousand questions. Sometimes burdensome, to be sure, but when we consider that upon that affection of knowing is built all the child's advancement in knowledge afterwards, how cruel it is to rebuke the inquiries of the infant. Many a parent has ruined his child by this kind of discouragement, and afterwards chastised him for not loving and attending to studies and for making slow progress therein, when his own thoughtless course had produced that apathy and inability. All innocent inquiries by infants and children at all proper times should be indulged and encouraged, how pestersome soever they may seem.
EARLY SCHOOLING OF ELIZABETH AND SAMUEL
"Being born among a dense slave population,
and twelve miles from the nearest settlement of friends, white children
were very thinly scattered, so that country schools could not be
White children were sent from home for schooling. I never knew a
school in that country except one quarter (which would be three months)
kept by one Thomas Eceles, when I was four and a half years old.
My sister and brother attended. I, however, under the tuition of
my mother, learned so as to read with ease at the age of seven.
divested of all playmates in childhood, induced a singular turn of
which may be seen to this day, and which I shall never be bereft of,
it desirable. I learned rapidly, never wore out or abused a book
in my life. I kept my first primer, toy books, spelling books,
arithmetic, and without a leaf amiss, until I had a nephew old enough
use them. I have sometimes regretted giving them to him, as I was
grieved to see they were soon gone when placed in other hands.
"Owing to the waywardness of my disposition, and evil propensities of my nature, I do think that had it not been for the early influences of old Quam and my mother, that I could not have been a man that society would have tolerated. They took singular pains to impress my mind with a horror of inflicting pain on even the meanest insect. When a child I would cry to see one wounded. I could not bear to witness the writhings of a conch, boiling to death in its own shell. That seemed to be the only manner of killing them. I could not bear to see fish struggling on the shore for breath, nor clams roasting for dinner. To my early tuition may be attributed the fact that, although in boyhood and youthfulness I was an inhabitant of the woods, in the midst of and often annoyed by wild animals, and I had a gun at command, I never shot at but four living creatures, all of which escaped; and when I considered that some of them might be seriously wounded and suffering in pain, and writhing in death, all thoughts of shooting at animals were abandoned. I always considered it fortunate that my early infancy, in which is laid the foundation of the future man, fell into such hands as old Quam and my mother; but, unfortunately, that while I have lost much of the good infantile education, I have retained much, if not most of that which was erroneous, and added of my own what is wrong. My early seclusion from children induced a singular turn of mind and propensity to be alone. This will show itself frequently in the eyes of others to great disadvantage. Perhaps my voluntary relinquishment of my right among the Friends at the age of 37 may in part be traced to this source.
A BOND HELD BY A TORY
"The most severe stroke that I remember to have fallen on my mother was in 1799. She received information that the heirs of one Sam Connell were coming on us for debt, contracted before the Revolution. At a certain time, as I have heard, my father expected three vessels from England, that he had engaged to reload with naval stores. He had the loading on the wharf, in Newbern, when a long and tempestuous storm set into the mouth of the Neus River until it was so swollen as to float off his loading. Much of it was lost, and before he could collect enough more the vessels came, and of Sam Connell he purchased to the value of seventy pounds, for which he gave his bond. The Revolution commenced soon after. Connell was a Tory and ran off to England with the bond. This prevented its settlement. After Jay's treaty the heirs came upon us, not only for principal and interest but compound interest. Twenty-five or thirty years had swollen it to a considerable sum. However questionable the compulsion of a widow, who had not anything like her third at the final settlement of the estate, might be, mother was never the woman to think that any circumstances could justify debts being left unpaid while anything was remaining. I am proud to say that she never got into the late fashion of believing that the widow of a landholder or speculator ought to be wealthy, whether her husband was ever really worth a cent or not. The executors agreed to take the homestead and let her have all the remaining personal property. She agreed to the proposal, and in order to enable her to remove to the Northwest Territory she sold what the family could spare. Her personal property sold very low, as it was a time of general emigration.
FROM BEAUFORT TO ALEXANDRIA BY SAILING VESSEL
"In April, 1800, we sailed from Beaufort for Alexandria, in company with seventy other emigrants, large and small, say twelve families. We had one storm and were once becalmed in Core Sound, and had to wait about two weeks at Curritue Inlet (now filled up) for a wind to take us to sea. From thence to Alexandria we had a fine run, especially up the Potomac Bay. While cooped up in the vessel a circumstance happened to me that I shall never forget, and was always of use to me. One of the first nights of the voyage I lost my trousers, so that when it was time to dress in the morning my indispensables were non est inventis. There were many of both sexes present, for the schooner had very little loading but emigrants. The mortification felt for half an hour at the accident was never erased from my memory, and from that time to this, I never undress without knowing precisely where my clothing is left. During the storm we were in, the majority on board were seasick, and we had rather a disagreeable time among, say forty or fifty vomiting individuals. Neither that nor the rolling of the vessel affected me, as it happened. This is mentioned as one of the disagreeabilities of emigration that makes settling in the woods feel more comfortable by contrast. At Alexandria we remained several days before we got wagons to bring us out. Here everything was weighed. My weight was just 75 pounds.
THROUGH THE VIRGINIA MOUNTAINS
"We stopped here two weeks, on what I think was called Goose Creek in Virginia, before we could be supplied with a wagon to cross the mountains, in place of the one we occupied which belonged there. We stayed one night at Dinah Besor's Tavern, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was called Dinah Besor's house, because the gray mare was there the better horse. Some of the boys mounted a fine cherry tree, for which the old man gave them a scolding, lest they might break the limb. I noticed the immense number of whippoorwills that were here, and the difference in their note from what I was used to. Here their cry resembled their name, but in Carolina it resembled the words 'whip the widow whitcoak.' The mountain roads (if roads they could be called, for pack horses were still on them), were of the most dangerous and difficult. I have heard an old mountain tavernkeeper say that although the taverns were less than two miles apart, in years after we came, he has known many immigrant families that stopped a night at every tavern on the mountain. I recollect but few of our night stands distinctly, say Dinah Besor's, Goose Creek, old Creeks, near the South Branch, Thomlinson's, Besontown, and Simpkins, and Merritstown. Our company consisted of Joseph Due, Levina Hall, and Jonas Small, with their families.
SOJOURN AT FREDERICKTOWN, PA.
After a tedious journey, we all arrived safe
Fredericktown, Washington county, Pa., where we stopped to await the
of the land office at Steubenville, Ohio. Here we found Horton
and family, who had come on the season previous. Here also the
had the whooping cough. Those whom we left at Alexandria came to
Redstone old fort, ten miles below Fredericktown, where they sojourned
for the same purpose; and although as we thought unfortunately
they were first at their resting place. We regretted much to
them, but considered ourselves fortunate in being the first to start;
like many circumstances in life, where appearances are not realities,
were fortunate in being left for a better and more speedy conveyance.
"Jonas Small, Francis Mace, and several other families from Red Stone, returned to Carolina, dissatisfied with the hills, vales and mud of the Northwest, little dreaming of the level and open prairies of this valley. Horton Howard and family started first from Fredericktown.
THROUGH PENNSYLVANIA MOUNTAINS INTO OHIO
"Joseph Due, Livina Hall and ourselves made
another start in September or early in October. We started in the
afternoon, and lay at Benjamine Townsend's, on Fish Pot Run. We
also at the Blueball, near Washington; at Rice's on the Buffalo; and at
Warren on the Ohio. These are all the night stands I now
in 55 miles. We arrived safe at John Leaf's, in what is now
Concord Settlement. From Warren, Joseph Due and Mrs. Hall
up little Short Creek and stopped near where Mount Pleasant now is, in
what is now called Concord Settlement. Four or five years
five or six persons had squatted and made small improvements. The
Friends, chiefly from Carolina, had taken the land at a clear
Mr. Leaf lived on a tract bought by Horton Howard, since owned by
Potts, and subsequently by William Millhouse. Horton Howard had
in on Mr. Leaf, and we turned in on both.
"If anyone had an idea of the appearance of the remnants of a town that has been nearly destroyed by fire, and the houseless inhabitants turned in upon those who were left, they can form some idea of the squatters' cabins that fall. It was a real harvest for them, however, for they received the rhino for the privileges granted and work done, as well as in aid of the immigrants in getting cabins up, as for their improvements. This settlement is in Belmont County, on Glen's Run, about six miles northwest of Wheeling, and as much northeast of St. Clairsville. Immigrants poured in from different parts, cabins were put up in every different direction, women, children, and goods tumbled into them. The tide of immigration flowed like water through a breach in a milldam. Everything was bustle and confusion, and all at work that could work. In the midst of all this, the mumps, and perhaps one or two other diseases prevailed, and gave us a seasoning. Our cabin had been raised, covered, part of the cracks chinked and part of the floor laid when we moved in on Christmas day. There had not been a stick cut except in building the cabin.
OUR CABIN IN THE WOODS
"We had intended an inside chimney, for we
thought the chimney ought to be in the house. We had a log put
the whole width of the cabin for a mantel, but when the floor was in we
found it so low as not to answer, and removed it. Here was a
change for my mother and sister, as well as the rest, but particularly
my mother. She was raised in the most delicate manner in and near
London, and lived most of her time in affluence, and always
She was now in the wilderness, surrounded by wild animals; in a cabin
about half a floor, no door, no ceiling overhead, not even a tolerable
sign for a fireplace, the light of day and the chilling winds of night
passing between every two logs in the building, the cabin so high from
the ground that a bear, wolf, panther, or any other animal less in size
than a cow, could enter without even a squeeze. Such was our
on Thursday and Thursday night, December 25, 1800, and which was
but by very slow degrees. We got the rest of the floor laid in a
few days, the chinking of the cracks went on slowly, but the daubing
not proceed till weather more suitable, which happened in a few days;
were sawed out and steps made of the logs, and the back of the chimney
was raised up to the mantel, but the funnel of sticks and clay was
"My mother had been weakly on our journey, and at Fredericktown was more seriously ill than I ever knew her before or since. She still lives, a monument of the Lord's mercy, and a bright illustration of the discipline of which the human mind is susceptible. She has been blind about eight years, and to my recollection she never complained of anything, but trusted all to Divine Providence. She now, at the age of ninety-five, waits her change with patience, is little or no trouble to anyone; enjoys good health, a serene and sound mind, and the age of dotage seems never to have overtaken her; never gives unnecessary pain or trouble to anyone, and is pleased when by repeating verses she learned when a girl, she can add to the happiness of the social circle. She has been a woman of strict economy and great industry, but never milked a cow, and perhaps never spun a thread in her life, and scarcely ever cooked, but was a great sewer and knitter. This she does now with great facility, saying that if she could not knit she would be very unhappy. She is very little of her time without her knitting, except on First Days, as she calls the Sabbath. She was always a member of the Society of Friends. She is much delighted with hearing the Word or any religious books read.
OUR PIONEER FAMILY
Our family consisted of my mother, a sister of twenty-two, my brother past twenty-one and very weakly, and myself, in my eleventh year. Two years afterwards, Black Jenny followed us in company with my half-brother, Richard, and his family. She lived two years with us in Ohio, and died in the winter of 1803-4.
"In building our cabin it was set to front the north and south, my brother using my father's pocket compass on the occasion. We had no idea of living in a house that did not stand square with the earth itself. This argued our ignorance of the comforts and conveniences of a pioneer life. The position of the house, end to the hill, necessarily elevated the lower end, and the determination of having both a north and south door added much to the airiness of the domicile, particularly after the green ash puncheons had shrunk so as to have cracks in the floor and doors from one to two inches wide. At both the doors we had high, unsteady, and sometimes icy steps, made by piling up the logs cut out of the wall. We had, as the reader will see, a window, if it could be called a window, when, perhaps, it was the largest spot in the top, bottom, or sides of the cabin at which the wind could not enter. It was made by sawing out a log, placing sticks across, and then, by pasting an old newspaper over the hole, and applying some hog's lard, we had a kind of glazing which shed a most beautiful and mellow light across the cabin when the sun shone on it. All other light entered at the doors, cracks and chimney. Our cabin was twenty-four by eighteen. The west end was occupied by two beds, the center of each side by a door, and here our symmetry had to stop, for on the opposite side of the window, made of clapboards, supported on pins driven into the logs, were our shelves. Upon these shelves my sister displayed, in ample order, a host of pewter plates, basins, and dishes, and spoons, scoured and bright.
PIONEER UTENSILS AND FURNITURE
"It was none of your new-fangled pewter made of
but the best London pewter, which our father himself bought of
the manufacturer. These were the plates upon which you could hold
your meat so as to cut it without slipping and without dulling your
But alas, the days of pewter plates and sharp dinner knives have
passed away never to return. To return to our internal
A ladder of five rounds occupied the corner near the window. By
when we got a floor above, we could ascend. Our chimney occupied
most of the east end; pots and kettles opposite the window under the
a gun on hooks over the north door. Four split-bottom chairs,
three-legged stools, and a small eight by ten looking-glass sloped from
the wall over a large towel-and-comb case. These, with a clumsy shovel
and a pair of tongs, made in Frederick, with one shank straight, as the
best manufacture of pinches and blood-blisters, completed our
except a spinning wheel and such things as were necessary to work
It was absolutely necessary to have three-legged stools, as four legs
anything could not all touch the floor at the same time on account of
unevenness of a puncheon floor.
"The completion of our cabin went on slowly. The season was inclement, we were weak-handed and weak-pocketed; in fact, laborers were not to be had. We got our chimney up breast-high as soon as we could, and got our cabin daubed as high as the joists outside. It never was daubed on the inside, for my sister, who was very nice, could not consent to 'live right next to the mud.' My impression now is that the window was not constructed until spring, for until the sticks and clay were put in the chimney we could possibly have no need of a window; for the flood of light which always poured into the cabin from the fireplace would have extinguished our paper window, in the place of glass, and rendered it as useless as the moon at noonday. We got a floor laid overhead as soon as possible, perhaps in a month; but when it was laid, the reader will readily conceive of its imperviousness to wind or weather, when we mention that it was laid of loose clapboards split from a red oak, the stump of which may be seen beyond the cabin. That tree grew in the night, and so twisted that each board laid on two diagonally opposite corners, and a cat might have shaken every board on our ceiling. It may be well to inform the unlearned reader that clapboards are such lumber as pioneers split with a frow, and resemble barrel staves before they are shaved, but are split longer, wider and thinner; of such our roof and ceiling were composed.
"Puncheons were planks made by
logs to about two and a half or three inches in thickness, and hewing
on one or both sides with a broad-axe. Of course our floor,
tables and stools were manufactured. The eavebearers are those
logs which project over to receive the butting poles, against which the
lower tier of clapboards rest in forming the roof. The trapping
the roof timbers, composing the gable end; and the ribs, the ends of
appear in the drawing, being those logs upon which the clapboards
The trap logs are those of unequal length, above the eavebearers, which
form the gable ends, and upon which the ribs rest. The weight
are those small logs layed on the roof, which weigh down the course of
clapboards on which they lay and against which the next course above is
placed. The knees are pieces of heart timber placed above the
poles successively to prevent the weight poles from rolling off.
To many of our learned readers these explanations will appear
but the Pioneer may be read by persons much less enlightened on these
and to such these explanations may be of real service.
"It was evidently a mistake to put our chimney at the lower end of the house, for as soon as we put the funnel on in the spring we found that the back of our breastwork settled and was likely to topple our chimney down. This we might have remedied by a kind of framework had we thought of it and had tools to make it with. So scarce were our tools that our first pair of bar posts were morticed by pecking them on each side with a common axe and then, blowing coals in the holes, we burned them through so as to admit of the bars. But I do no think the framework to support the chimney was thought of. To prop it with a pole first suggested itself, at the foot of which was a large stake. These remained an incumbrance in the yard for years.
"There never was any unmixed good or unmixed evil that fell to the lot of men in the probationary state. So our fireplace, being at the East end, was much more like our parlor fireplace in Carolina: and besides this, while the chimney was only breast high, we should have been bacon before Candlemas had the chimney been in any other position; but situated as it was, and the prevailing winds that blew inside of the house, as well as outside, being from west to east, most of the smoke was driven off except occasionally an eddy which would bring smoke and flame full in our faces. One change of wind for a few days made our cabin almost uninhabitable. Here is presented an advantage of an open house. Let the wind be which way it would, the smoke and ashes could get out without opening doors and windows, and all that sort of trouble known at the present day whenever a chimney seems to draw best at the wrong end; besides this, a little breeze would not, as now, give us colds.
"We have heard that the position in sleeping makes a material difference in the soundness of it; but which (to lay with the head north or south) produces the sounder sleep we have forgotten. At any rate, my brother and I slept in the southwest corner with our heads to the south, and I remember well that from the time I lay down until I had to get up and go to work only seemed about a half-minute if so long. My mother and sister occupied the northwest corner, but as to the soundness of their sleep I knew little, there being no complaints. My brother and I took it in the healthy open air, while my mother and sister still had a partiality for old fashions and hung some kind of curtains on sticks suspended by strings over the joists. The curtains were very likely partly, if not wholly, of good old furniture check, which, with many other relics of times gone by, were treasured by the family.
PIONEER BED CLOTHES
"There are two modes of keeping warm.
One is to clothe thin, lie on straw or leaves, and let the heart and
be active to keep up the heat. The other, and at present the most
fashionable one, is to clothe very warm, lie on feather beds and let
heart and lungs become lazy and of little account. The former was
our plan, especially that of myself and brother, perhaps not so much
the choice of sound philosophy as from other circumstances. We
found, however, that to make rag carpeting, such as sometimes covers
floors now, and to sew two breadths of proper length together, was a
substitute for blankets, especially if there could be here and there a
rag of red flannel, even if the rest were tow linen rags. These
(for so we called them) were of great help in bed, not so much from any
warming qualities they possessed in themselves as from their great
to press a sheet or blanket close, if we had any under them; and also
their gravitating propensities they very materially aided the
in coming to the conclusion that we were well covered. We would
upon our new cadder, when we were so fortunate as to get one, and
if there were red stripes in it, with the same feeling of delight as a
modern belle does upon her new Brussels carpet and piano.
"I had another source of comfort in cold weather, which I trust I never shall forget. My good old mother (God bless her) never went to bed in winter without seeing that the cadder was tucked close to the back and feet of her John; nor would she suffer him to go out in cold weather without his jacket. This, I sometimes thought, was rather officious interference on her part, but like other giddy children, I did not know, or rather I did not care, properly to appreciate her kindness. If I had taken a cold or had been exposed unusually she would see that my feet were soaked in warm water and that I had a hearty drink of warm pennyroyal tea before going to bed. The simple remedies of some of the pioneer women may be pitted against the shops of the druggists for simple and effective cures, and if their prescriptions were not as fashionable and costly as medicinal ones now, they sometimes did much less harm.
A PIONEER LIBRARY
"The evenings of the first winter did not pass off as pleasantly as evenings afterward. We had raised no tobacco to stem and twist, no corn to shell, no turnips to scrape; we had no tow to spin into rope-yarn, nor straw to plait for hats, and we had come so late we could get but few walnuts to crack. We had, however, the Bible, George Fox's Journal, Barkley's Apology, and a number of books, all better than much of the fashionable reading of the present day, from which, after reading, the reader finds he has gained nothing, while his understanding has been made the dupe of the writer's fancy, that while reading he had given himself up to be led in mazes of fictitious imagination and lost his taste for solid reading, as frothy luxuries destroy the appetite for wholesome food. To our stock of books were soon after added a borrowed copy of the Pilgrim's Progress, which we read twice through without stopping. The first winter our living was truly scanty and hard; but even this winter had its felicities. We had part of a barrel of flour which we had brought from Fredericktown. Besides this, we had part of a jar of hog's lard brought from old Carolina; not the tasteless stuff which now goes by that name, but pure leaf lard, taken from hogs raised on pine roots and fattened on sweet potatoes, and into which, while rendering, were immersed the boughs of the fragrant bay tree that imparted to the lard a rich flavor. Of that flour, shortened with this lard, my sister every Sunday morning, and at no other time, made short biscuit for breakfast--not these greasy gum-elastic biscuit we mostly meet with now, rolled out with a pin or cut out with a cutter; or those that are, perhaps, speckled by or puffed up with refined lye called salaeratus, but made out, one by one, in her fair hands, placed in neat juxtaposition in a skillet or spider, pricked with a fork to prevent blistering, and baked before an open fire, not half-baked and half-stewed in a cooking stove. If all the pleasures and happiness imparted to the inhabitants of Cincinnati for one week, by all the ice creams and other nicknames, could be accumulated in the mind of one individual, I conceive it would hardly equal what I felt between the time the process of making them began in the house and the process of digesting them ended in my stomach.
MY SISTER ELIZABETH'S BISCUITS
"I do not believe that bankers, brokers,
misers could, from the sight of gold, experience such feelings of
as I felt at the sight of the first skillet full, piled on a plate by
fire awaiting the cooking of the second. To attempt to describe
felicity of eating these breakfasts is useless, when I cannot convey
a tolerable idea of the happiness of anticipation. Those
made the Sabbath doubly dear and kept us in good humor all the week,
of the past, and anticipating the future. If there is any way to
enjoy that day that exceeds all others, of a temporal nature, it is to
reserve all the good things to be enjoyed in it, and in idea to be
with it, and for which we thank the Giver of all good things. The
relish of these biscuits was that of real temperance in the use of
AMIDST THE FOREST PRIMEVAL
"The reader is not to suppose from anything we say that a log cabin life in the woods produces unalloyed happiness. This is not to be found in a palace in a crowded city, log cabin, nor yet in a Fourier association. Every advantage seems to bring with it a disadvantage, to give it a relish by contrast. In the ordering of a good Providence, the winter was open but windy. While the wind was of great use in driving the smoke and ashes out of our cabin, it shook terribly the timber standing almost over us. We were sometimes much and needlessly alarmed. We had never seen a dangerous looking tree near a dwelling, but here we were surrounded by tall giants of the forest, waving their boughs and uniting their brows over us, as if in defiance of our disturbing their repose and usurping their long and uncontested pre-emption rights. The beech on the left often shook his bushy head over us as if in absolute disapprobation of our settling there, threatening to crush us if we did not pack up and start. The walnut over the spring branch stood high and straight; no one could tell which way it inclined, but all concluded that if it had a preference it was in favor of quartering on our cabin. We got assistance to cut it down. The axeman doubted his ability to control its direction, by reason that he must necessarily cut it almost off before it would fall. He thought by felling the tree in the direction of the reader [a picture accompanied the article], along near the chimney, and thus favor the little lean it seemed to have, would be the means of saving the cabin. He was successful. Part of the stump still stands. These, and all other dangerous trees, were got down without other damage than many frights and frequent desertions of the premises by the family, while the trees were being cut. The ash beyond the house crossed the scarf and fell on the cabin but without damage.
FORTY-TWO YEARS LATER
"We visited the premises in August, 1842, to take a sketch and found it, as well as the country around, amazingly altered. In place of the towering beech on the left stands a fine brick house, owned and occupied by Joseph Parker. Instead of a view confined to a few rods by a dense forest the tops of ridges and knobs may now be seen for miles, resembling a slanting view across a nest of eggs. Not one of the trees in the drawing now remain. Well do I remember the rude figure of a man which I cut on the beech to the left of, and in the distance beyond the walnut, as well as the stormy night and the tremendous clap of thunder that shivered the ash, seen a little more to the left. The black locust, also, that is seen beyond the cabin leaning to the left is remembered. It was considered to be a valuable tree and was allowed to stand after other trees were cut. Oft have I looked at its slim body and proportionably towering height. At length fire got around it, and as is the case with every hypocrite under persecution, being rotten-hearted, it burned down. I measured its length; it was just ninety feet, and to this day in estimating heights, I refer to the appearance of that locust and a stump of eighty feet which was also measured.
"The little hickory between the house and spring was a mere hoop pole and we saved it. It grew very thriftily, and the last time I saw it the finest shelibarks graced its top; but like many other things, it had but a short life after a promising youthfulness. It, too, is gone as well as the white walnut which stood over the spring, and the sprout on which the spring gourd was wont to hang. But the fine, the clear, the gushing fountain of cold limestone water is still there in the same shallow depression, and there its health giving stream will remain and run long after Miller and his theory of the end of time happening this year will both be consigned to oblivion.
VOICES IN THE NIGHT
"The monotony of the time for several of the first years was broken and enlivened by the howl of wild beasts. The wolves howling around us seemed to moan their inability to drive us from their long and undisputed domain. The bears, panthers and deer seemingly got miffed at our approach or the partiality of the hunters, and but seldom troubled us. We did not hunt for them. The wildcat, raccoon, possum, hornet, yellow-jacket, rattlesnake, copperhead, nettle, and a host of small things which seemed in part to balance the amount of pioneer happiness, held on to their rights until driven out gradually by the united efforts of the pioneers, who, like a band of brothers, mutually aided each other in the great work. These things, as well as getting their bread, kept them too busy for lawsuits, crimes and speculations and made them happy.
OUR DAILY BREAD
"One bag of meal would make a whole family
happy and thankful then, when a loaded East Indiaman will fail to do it
now, and is passed off as a common business transaction without ever
thinking of the Giver, so independent have we become in the short space
of forty years. Having got out of the wilderness in less time
the children of Israel, we seem to be even more forgetful and
"When spring was fully come, and our little patch of corn (three acres) put in among the beech roots, which at every step contended with the shovel and plough for the right of soil, and held it, too, we enlarged our stock of conveniences. As soon as bark would run (peel off) we could make ropes and bark boxes. These we stood in great need of, as such things as bureaus, stands, wardrobes, or even barrels, were not to be had. The manner of making ropes of linnbark was to cut the bark in strips of convenient length, and water-rot it in the same manner as rotting flax hemp.
PIONEER ROPE AND ORNAMENTS
When this was done the inside bark would peel off
and split up so fine as to make a pretty considerably rough and
kind of a rope. Of this, however, we were very glad, and let no
with his grass ropes laugh at us. We made two kinds of boxes for
furniture; one kind was of hickory bark with the outside shaved
This we would take off all around the tree, the size of which would
the caliber of our box. In the one end we would place a flat
of bark or puncheon, cut round to fit in the bark, which stood on end,
the same as when on the tree. There was little need of hooping,
the strength of the bark would keep that all right enough. Its
would make the top unsightly in a parlor nowadays, but then they were
quite an addition to the furniture. A much finer article was made
of slippery elm bark, shaved smooth and with the inside out, bent round
and sewed together where the ends of the hoop or main bark lapped
The length of the bark was around the box and inside out. A
was made of a piece of the same bark dried flat, and a lid like that of
a common band box, made in the same way. This was the finest
in a lady's dressing room; and then, as now with the finest furniture,
the lapped or sewed side was turned to the wall and the prettiest part
to the spectator. They were usually made oval, and while the bark
was green it was easily ornamented with drawings of birds, trees, etc.,
agreeably to the taste and skill of the fair manufacturer. As we
belonged to the Society of Friends, it may be fairly presumed that our
band-boxes were not thus ornamented. Many a shy glance would be
at the new band boxes, and it is hoped that no modern belle will laugh,
because a pioneer Miss might be proud of her new band box. 'For
is just as easy to be proud of such things, and as much sin, too, as to
be proud of a new dressing table, glass, etc.
"On the other hand, it is quite as easy to be happy, and easier to be properly thankful, for the small favors in the woods than it is now for a pampered Miss to be happy with, or thankful for, all the finery of her toilet. The amount of happiness received or acknowledgement to the Giver is by no means regulated by the appearance or cost of the article.
"To the above store of bark ropes and bark boxes must be added a few gums before the farmer considered himself comfortably fixed. It may be well to inform the unlearned reader that gums are hollow trees cut off, with puncheons pinned on or fitted in one end, to answer in the place of barrels.
CHARACTER DEVELOPED BY HARDSHIP
"The privations of a Pioneer life contract
the wants of man almost to total extinction and allow him means of
and benevolence. Sufferings ennoble his feelings, and the
necessity for united effort at house raisings, log rollings, corn
etc., produced in him habitual charity, almost unknown in these days of
luxury, among the many tyrannical wants of artificial tastes and
appetites. We have now but little time left to think of good, and
still less to appreciate it. Our system of action now seems to be
a general scramble for the spoil. From the reverend divine who
upon the fatness of his salary as being the good of his profession,
through all the grades of speculators, swindlers and jockeys, whose
is 'their eyes is their market,' the leading principles are near akin,
if not the very same. Most. If not all, of these, if it were not
for public opinion, would cheat their dim-sighted mothers out of their
good spectacles by giving them empty frames in trading and then brag of
their skill in cheating. There are many honorable exceptions to
too prevalent system of grabbing.
"That system reminds us of the scramble which went on for years among the squirrels, raccoons and groundhogs for our corn crops, and frequently they left us little except the husks, and our path around the field made in our own defense.
GETTING OUT OF THE WOODS
"We settled on beech land, which took much effort to clear. We could do no better than clear out the smaller stuff and burn the brush, etc., around the beeches which, in spite of the girdling and burning we could do to them, would leaf out the first year, and often a little the second. The land, however, was very rich, and would bring better corn than might be expected. We had to tend it principally with the hoe, that is, to chop down the nettles, the water-weed and the touch-me-not grass; earless lamb's quarters and Spanish needles were reserved to pester the better prepared farmer. We cleared a small turnip patch, which we got in about the 10th of August. We sowed in timothy seed, which took well the next year. We had a little hay; besides, the tops and blades of the corn were also carefully saved for our horses, cows, and the two sheep. The turnips were sweet and good, and in the fall we took care to gather walnuts and hickory nuts which were very abundant. These, with the turnips which we scraped, supplied the place of fruit. I have always been partial to scraped turnips, and could now beat any three dandies at scraping them. Johnny-cake, also, when we had meal to make it of, helped to make up our evening's repast. The Sunday morning biscuit had all evaporated, but the loss was partially supplied by the nuts and turnips. Our regular supper was mush and milk, and by the time we had shelled our corn, stemmed tobacco, and plaited straw to make hats, etc., the mush and milk had seemingly decamped from the neighborhood of our ribs.
THE PIONEER'S STAND-BY
"To relieve this difficulty my brother and I
bake a thin Johnny-cake, part of which we would eat, and leave the rest
till the morning. At daylight we would eat the balance as we
from the house to work. The methods of eating mush and milk were
various. Some would sit around the pot, and everyone take
himself. Some would set a table and each have his tincup of milk,
and with a pewter spoon take just as much mush from the dish or the pot
as if it was on the table, as he thought would fill his mouth or
then lowering it into the milk would take some to wash it down.
method kept the milk cool, and by frequent repetitions the pioneers
contract a faculty of correctly estimating the proper amount of
Others would mix mush and milk together. Many an urchin who was
to hit his little brother or sister with a spoon in quarrel around the
mush pot on the floor, in after life learned to quarrel on the floor of
Congress, or to exchange shots on what is sometimes called 'the field
honor.' So quick, if not magical, has been the transition of this
To get grinding done was often a great difficulty by reason of the
of mills, the freezes in winter and droughts in summer. We had
to manufacture meal (when we had corn) in any way we could get the corn
to pieces. We soaked and pounded it, we shaved it, we planed it,
and, at the proper season grated it.
"When one of our neighbors got a hand mill it was thought quite an acquisition to the neighborhood; no need then of steam doctors. We could take hand mill sweats of our own when we pleased, nor of homeopaths, for our stomachs needed larger doses; nor of the professional physicians, for white walnut bark boiled and the decoction stewed down was the fashionable medicine used by those unfashionable ones who chanced to have a qualm. As for dyspepsia and the like, saw mills might as well be suspected of having it. In after years, when in time of freezing or drought, we could get grinding by waiting for our turn no more than one day and a night at a horse-mill we thought ourselves happy.
"To save meal we often made pumpkin bread. When meal was scarce, the pumpkin would so predominate as to render it next to impossible to tell our bread from that article either by taste, looks, or the amount of nutriment it contained. To rise from the table with a good appetite is said to be healthy, and with some is said to be fashionable. What then does it signify to be hungry for a month at a time when it is not only health y but fashionable? Beside all this, the sight of a bag of meal when it was scarce made the family feel more glad and thankful to Heaven than a whole boatload would at the present time.
"Salt was $5.00 per bushel, and we used none in our corn bread, which we soon liked as well without it. Often has sweat ran into my mouth, which tasted as fresh and flat as distilled water. What meat we had at first was fresh, and but little of that; for had we been hunters we had no time to practice it.
LIGHT FOR WINTER EVENINGS
We had no candles, and cared but little about
except for summer use. In Carolina we had the real fat light
not merely pine knots, but the fat straight pine. This, from the
brilliancy of our parlor on winter evenings, might be supposed to put,
not only candles, lamps, camphine, Greenough's chemical oil, but even
itself to blush. In the west we had not this, but my business was
to ramble the woods every evening for season sticks, or the bark of the
shelly hickory for light.
"'Tis true that our light was not even as good as candles, but we got along without fretting, for we depended more upon the goodness of our eyes than we did upon the brilliancy of the light. At that day none but the aged wore glasses. My mother said she injured her eyes by the early use of them. Such a thing as a young dandy of either sex peering through gold frame concaves till their eyes push out like the lumps on calves' heads before the horns appear was not known. The more concaves are indulged in the more the eyes will push out, for the shape of the eye will accommodate itself to the lens. The use of glasses either concave or convex nine times in ten injure both eyes and the sight, and is a species of intemperance. If you physic for every complaint you will soon lose your health. If you never exercise your muscles to fatigue they will soon become weak; so with the eye. Be afraid of fatiguing it, aid it with glasses so as never to put its power to test, and it will soon be useless without them. I am now in my 54th year and have never used a glass and never shall unless accident or disease should set upon my eyes. I write and read no little. My wife had so indulged her eyes by the use of glasses as five years ago to require those of 16-inch focus. My remonstrance became strong and she consented to follow my directions. The consequence is that she has not used a glass for four years, although she sews, reads, threads her needle and often by candle light. Who would not prefer to be a Pioneer and enjoy all his sources of happiness than to be a slave of fashion or indolence and suffer heat, cold, and disease to serve it?
WORK FOR WINTER EVENINGS
"One of my employments in winter evenings,
after we raised flax, was the spinning of rope yarn from the coarsest
tow to make bed cords for sale. Swingling tow is a corruption of
singling tow, as swingle tree is of single tree. The manner of
rope yarn was by means of a drum, which turned on a horizontal shaft,
into a hole in one of the cabin logs near the fire. The yarn was
hitched to a nail on one side of the circumference next to me. By
taking an oblique direction and keeping up a regular jerking or pulling
of the threads the drum was kept in constant motion, and thus the
and pulling out went on regularly and simultaneously until the length
the walk was taken up. Then by winding the yarn first on my
and from that on the drum I was ready to spin another thread. A
improvement of this kind of Pioneer spinning is called political wire
and had I kept pace with the improvements of the age I might at present
have been a most expert political demagogue of wealth and influence.
"The unlearned reader might inquire what we did with the finer kinds of tow. It is well enough to apprize him that next to rope yarn in fineness was filling for trousers and aprons; next finer, warp for the same and filling for shirts and frocks; next finer, of tow thread, warp for shirts and frocks, unless some of the higher grades of society would use flax thread. Linen shirts, especially seven hundred, was counted the very top of the pot, and the one who wore an eight hundred linen shirt was counted a dandy. He was not called a dandy, for the word was unknown, as well as the refined which bears that name. Pioneers found it to their advantage to wear tow linen and eat skim milk and sell their flax, linen and butter.
"Frocks were a short kind of shirt worn
the trousers. We saved our shirts by pulling them off in warm
and wearing nothing in the daytime but our hats made of straw, our
and our trousers. It will be thus perceived that these things
place before the days of suspenders, when every one's trousers lacked
two inches of reaching up to where the waistcoat reached down. It
was counted no extraordinary sight, and no matter of merriment, to see
the shirt work out over all the waistband two or three inches and hang
in a graceful festoon around the waist. Suspenders soon became a
part of the clothing, and were a real improvement in dress. Not
with the underfoot strap of the dandy, the upward strain of which,
with the ascentional power of vanity in the walking balloon, seems
to lift him from the ground.
"The girls had forms without bustles, and rosy cheeks without paint. Those who are thin, lean, and colorless from being slaves to idleness or fashion are, to some extent, excusable for endeavoring to be artificially what the pioneer girls were naturally; who, had they needed lacing, might have used tow strings, and, if bran were used for bustles, might have curtailed their suppers. Those circumstances which frequently occasioned the bran to be eaten after the flour was gone laced tight enough without silk cord or bone-sets, and prevented that state of things which sometimes makes it necessary to eat both flour and bran together as medicine. And requires bran or straw outside to make the shape respectable.
SAVING SHOE LEATHER
"Not only about the farm, but also to meeting, the younger part of families, and even men, went barefoot in summer. The young women carried their shoes and stockings, if they had them, in their hands until they got in sight of the meeting house, where, sitting on a log, they shod themselves for meeting; and at the same place, after meeting, they unshod themselves for a walk home, perhaps one or two miles. Whether shoes, stockings or even bonnets were to be had or not, meeting must be attended. Let those who cannot attend church without a new bonnet, who cannot go two or three square, because it is so cold, or so rainy, or so sunny, not laugh at the zeal of those pioneers for religion. Religion barefoot is as acceptable as religion shod, and as easily come at, too. If those barefoot girls could not knit as fine lace they could knit better stockings. If they could not cut as fine figures in dance, they could make healthier mothers and housewives; and if they could not make as fine music, they could sing lullaby to much better effect. It is to be noted that among the pioneer, all was neither goodness or happiness. It was as easy to go to church for fashion's sake, or to see and be seen, then as now; in fact, the ways of Heaven are equal, but man very unequally acts the part on earth.
EDIBLES FOR WINTER EVENINGS
"Turnips, walnuts and hickory nuts supplied the place of fruit till peaches were raised. In five or six years we sometimes went to Martin's Ferry on the Ohio to pick peaches for the owner, who had them distilled. We got a bushel of apples for each day's work in picking peaches. These were kept for particular eating, as if they had contained seeds of gold. Their extreme scarcity made them seem valuable and stand next to the short biscuit that were so valued in times gone by. Paw-paws were eaten in their season. When we got an abundance of apples they seemed to lose their flavor and relish. It is the same with everything but heaven and virtue, which never fail, but greatly increase in relish with their abundance and stand in direct contact with all sublunary good.
"Mrs. Leaf gave me a beautiful white, black and yellow kitten, which made the best squirrel catcher in the country. Mice and rats there were none. She was worth money and lived fifteen years. We bought a heifer in the same Fall of 1800, which made us a fine cow; she lived about as long as the cat. Pasturage was abundant in summer, being composed mostly of nettles, waist high, which made us fine greens, and thus served for both the cow and her owner, and yet, like everything else on earth, seemed to balance the account by stinging us at every turn. Even the good pasturage of this new country, considered as a pasture, had its balancing properties, for the same rich soil from which sprang nettles and pasture in such abundance brought forth also the ramps of wild garlic, which springing first were devoured by the cows. Cows could not be contained for want of fences, nor dared we neglect milking lest they might go dry; and for two or three weeks cows were milked in pails and the milk thrown out and given to the hogs. We never milked on the ground, as it seemed a pity and some said it was bad luck. We never heard of milk sickness or we might have been less disposed to fret at the ramps, and might have been thankful for being blessed with a disadvantage less frightful. Our axe handles were straight and egg-shaped. Whether the oval form and the quick bulbous ends of the present day is an improvement or not is immaterial here to inquire, but had we used the present form then I should at times have been fixed to the axe. The hand that holds this pen had, before it felt the cold of twelve winters, been so benumbed by chopping in the cold as to have the fingers set to the handle, making it necessary to slip them off at the end, which could not have been done were they of the present shape. After the fingers were off a little rubbing and stretching from the other hand would restore them, but would not dry up the blood nor heal the chaps with which they were covered. These and kindred things are well calculated to make one, by contrast, appreciate the blessings of leisure and ease until they become too common, when we lose our relish of them, and the gratitude we ought to feel for time even to think.
RICHARD WILLIAMS' SCHOOL
"On Saturday, July 31st, 1802, my brother
arrived at our cabin. He had been a sea captain for many years,
at the age of 32 abandoned his seafaring life. I was exactly 12
old to an hour when he arrived. He had left his family at or near
Wheeling. His arrival was greeted as a great acquisition to the
as he had a good education. He was born under auspicious
The neighbors soon had him a cabin up near the meeting house and a
opened. I had never been sent to school. He put me in three
syllables in Dilworth's spelling book. I think the first lesson
with the word 'abandon,' and I abandoned that lesson, and that book,
I swallowed the whole of it very soon. I never did continue my
to a single lesson at school, but must know all the book
The teachers could keep me back in recitation, but not in
I soon found that the head of the class was my place by pre-emption.
"After the quarter was out, sugar making, land clearing, corn planting, etc., put an end to my regular schooling, but not to my progress. Within the hour allowed for rest at noon I used to run a mile over the deepest and steepest kind of a hollow to spell at school. Having missed the evening spellings, I always began foot, but that did not annoy me, nor prevent me from ending head, when the mile must again be run over dinner and I to my work. One spring, while I was hewing the side of a stump to set a flax brake, I was fortunate enough to split the middle toe of my right foot. Although a stiff joint, a large, crooked toe and a bad nail was the consequence, I always counted myself fortunate under the accident, for it gave me a chance of going to school a quarter. It was sore two months and a half, most of which time I never touched the forepart of my foot to the ground but walked to the school, when the bare mention that my foot would be no worse hurt to stay at home would insult me. It was not altogether, and perhaps not half, the love of study that made me love school. There was in my composition a good portion of the love of play and frolic. Subsequently a strained wrist and strained ankle, as well as a disease of one of my heels, which gave me great pain for four months, baffled the skill of Doctor Hamilton of Mount Pleasant, were all, with other wounds and bruises, counted as blessings because they gave me better opportunities for studies.
JOHN MEETS A GAY DECEIVER
"Going home from school one evening, I took
a different route. Upon the hillside above me I saw a most
white and black lively animal with a fine bush. I thought surely
no one had ever before seen so fine a frisk. Agreeably to a
trait in my youthful character, which determined me never to leave any
mystery in a book or on land without knowing something more about it, I
took two clubs in my hand and went to reconnoiter his
On approaching I perceived by the smell that I heard of the animal
but as I never backed out because difficulties were presented, the
was continued unperceived until within a few paces of him. He
discovered me and ran very impertinently towards me and looking me
in the face, seemed to ask what I wanted. Keeping my ground, he
for a retreat, when the temptation to throw became too strong.
last I saw of him was just as the club was about to hit him, when he,
a way peculiarly his own, administered a perfume to my body not so
as Bergamot, but certainly preferable to the breath of a confirmed sop
in the use of tobacco or alcoholic spirits. He also at one and
same operation administered eye water to both eyes. It was for a
few minutes powerful in effect, if not lasting in efficacy. In
respect, however, it was not behind most of the nostrums sold by less
quacks, and in one respect at least very much like many of them, I
the joke and went home laughing about it. It was a lesson.
Had I made the best use of it and taken warning from it never again to
be so much deceived by appearances, it might have saved me some
but I thought more of Blair's maxim that it was better to be imposed
than to foster a suspicious disposition, and have let others impose
me by serious appearances very frequently since. I was not in
as good a humor about it as might be supposed from the face I put on,
I silently vowed vengeance on the next of the race I met with.
vow was faithfully redeemed about five years afterwards without my
the least incommoded. By this time I was 19, and knew much better
how to conduct an affair on the field of honor.
"My faithful and industrious sister did much for us as she did afterwards for her own family by weaving. In the Spring of 1804 she and also my brother got married, the one to Sarah Arnold, and the other to Joseph Garretson, whose autograph our readers have seen. The circumstances of our family very much changed by these movements. The infants, instead of webs and nursing, exchanged for weaving. Change and contrast are both necessary to happiness, and novelty has most frequently a charm independent of things changed.
THE FOLLY OF YOUTH
"On October 24th, 1804, my brother and I
out to the Friends settlement to a corn husking. As was common,
heap was divided. We were chosen on different sides. They
peach brandy, and handed it around freely. I thought that to be a
man I must drink when men drank, and I got most comfortably
The last of the husking I remembered was throwing corn in the
Total abstinence from all remembrance overtook me until they let me
in carrying me to the house. Again I relapsed into total
until three o'clock, when I awoke with the chimney at the wrong end of
the house, my brain turned topsy turvy, and my feelings otherwise much
worse than when I took the quack medicine above described. My
had gone home. I followed him at daylight and joined him at
I expected surely that friends would disown me and was afraid to go to
meeting or see an overseer for months. I marked the day in the
and determined never to be so beastly again, which resolution has not
"About the same time, like other boys of that age, I wanted to be a man or as near like one as possible, so I tried to chew tobacco. This made me most uncommonly sick. When I got over that spree I determined to be a man without it or not at all. To use neither spirits or tobacco is sometimes very uncomfortable, for a person cannot always keep clear of the breath and stench of those who are continued in the use of one or both. In such situation I have been nauseously sick and ready to say:
Oh wad some power the giftie gie us
To smell ourselves as others smell us;
It wad from sie habits frae us
And make us men.
SCHOOLING OBTAINED UNDER DIFFICULTIES
"I went to several teachers, the last of
was the present venerable citizen of Dayton, Aquillia M. Bolton.
After going to school in all thirteen months and eighteen days - three
months of which time was to him - I graduated, not by receiving
in form, but by again taking upon me my usual occupation of
While I was going to his school I walked near two miles, morning and
and chopped wood and fed cattle for my boarding. I often thought
that if I only had the opportunities of some boys, how happy I would
I would then check such a rising complaint by thinking that had I their
chances ten to one I would be just as idle as they.
"Previous to this last quarter I signified to a teacher a wish to learn surveying. He loaned me the books and I gathered some of father's small instruments. We had a large crop in, but I knew I could find time. Surveying was all wrought out that summer and, in the old fashion, written down. In my book I made this memorandum: 'I have in the last three days calculated, plotted and written down 14 pages of Gibson's Surveying, besides plowing 10 acres of corn.' I counted that good work. When I entered Bolton's school I was either well versed in surveying and its kindred mathematics, or else he said what he did not think, or thought what he did not know.
"In my 22nd year I took up school near Barnesville, where the bright blue eyes of one of my pupils, Sarah Patterson by name (the same eyes which don't wear glasses now), together with her rosy cheeks, seemed to monopolize in themselves all that was good, bright or pretty in Euclid, Ferguson, Newton, Bacon, Martin, and a host of other authors that were dear to me. The purpose of my life seemed to be changed. Here let me drop a caution to the fair lasses, not to let their eyes shine too sparkingly around, for they know not what harm they might do. How many good scholars in prospect they might spoil, and how much the course of life might be changed by them?
"In removing to Fredericktown before I was 10, somewhere near Merritstown, Fayette County, I saw a most beautiful valley of meadow. This impression made me determine in after life to live in Pennsylvania, and was the moving cause of my living in that state twelve years.
EXPERIENCE AS A SURVEYOR
"In 1824 I entered Shriver's Brigade as
under the general government in the examinations of the Chesapeake and
Ohio Canal. J. Knight and I were the first two who commenced that
work, and here it might be said I was again in the woods and again a
Two campaigns were spent in those examinations, until the country from
the very head of the Youhagany to Pittsburg, became familiar.
examinations convinced me that a canal from Cumberland to the
never could be constructed, but a railroad throughout the middle
to supply its place could - an opinion I have yet seen no cause to
At that time it was unpopular to mention railroads in any degree of
with canals. General Simon Bernard was chief engineer of our
a man truly distinguished for his industry, as he was for excellent
"In 1826 I became the assistant of C. W. Wever, Esq., in the construction of the National road in Ohio, east of Zanesville. Here it was my fortune again to be a pioneer, for there were then no McAdamized roads in the West, and none in the United States except twelve miles of about half an experiment in Maryland. It was my business to superintend the gradation and McAdamizing for the United States until 1829, when I commenced the Maysville turnpike, which I superintended the whole six years of its construction. That road, together with the engineering of divers roads in Kentucky and several diverging from this city, Cincinnati, and some other roads in this state, will long remain as marks of 17 years' labor, and will be looked upon as starting points from which it may be seen whether the science of road making has advanced or retrograded.
A QUIVER FULL
"Ten fine children in times past sat around
my table. Other kinds of wealth I never was an adept at either
or keeping together. The lack of such a trait of character I
not regret until it is seen that money bestows merit, or that the value
of the man is in direct proportion to the weight of his purse.
seen some men do more good with one dollar than others with their
the conclusion has been forced upon me that riches are more frequently
detriments than blessings. This is, however, not the fault of the
property, but of those who possess it.
"Thus, kind reader, you will see that we have in this article endeavored to connect the past with the present, not only by the direct line of survey, but by frequent offsets from the main line as we proceeded. All we have said was thought either to belong to the history of the country, past or present, or to bear materially upon it until the time we again assumed the task of pioneer in publication by starting the first purely historical periodical that was ever attempted.
JOHN SHOEBRIDGE WILLIAMS,
Of Cincinnati, Ohio, 1843."