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The Ohio Frontier

The Ohio Frontier: An Anthology of Early Writings

EMILY FOSTER Editor
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 248
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130j8tv
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  • Book Info
    The Ohio Frontier
    Book Description:

    Few mementoes remain of what Ohio was like before white people transformed it. The readings in this anthology -- the diaries of a trader and a missionary, the letter of a frontier housewife, the travel account of a wide-eyed young English tourist, the memoir of an escaped slave, and many others -- are eyewitness accounts of the Ohio frontier. They tell what people felt and thought about coming to the very fringes of white civilization -- and what the people thought and did who saw them coming.

    Each succeeding group of newcomers -- hunters, squatters, traders, land speculators, farmers, missionaries, fresh European immigrants -- established a sense of place and community in the wilderness. Their writings tell of war, death, loneliness, and deprivation, as well as courage, ambition, success, and fun. We can see the lust for the land, the struggle for control of it, the terrors and challenges of the forest, and the determination of white settlers to change the land, tame it, "improve" it.

    The new Ohio these settlers created had no room for its native inhabitants. Their dispossession is a defining theme of the book. As the forests receded and the farms expanded, the Indians were pressured to move out. By the time the last tribe, the Wyandots, left in 1843, they were regarded as relics of the romantic past, and the frontier experience came to a close.

    Anyone fascinated by the panorama of America's westward migration will respond to the dramatic stories told in these pages.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5822-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations and Maps
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Series Foreword
    (pp. xi-xii)

    The Ohio River Valley Series, conceived and published by the University Press of Kentucky, is an ongoing series of books that examine and illuminate the Ohio River and its tributaries, the lands drained by these streams, and the peoples who made this fertile and desirable area their place of residence, of refuge, of commerce and industry, of cultural development and, ultimately, of engagement with American democracy. In doing this, the series builds upon an earlier project, “Always a River: The Ohio River and the American Experience,” which was sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the humanities councils...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Ohio. What images does that word bring to mind? To outsiders, perhaps not many. To some coastal dwellers, Ohio is another flyover state somewhere near, say, Chicago. To more sophisticated travelers, it’s part of the great American heartland, with its feet firmly planted in the Midwest. Anything else? Hmmm….

    Even Ohioans often are vague about Ohio. Northern Ohioans look around and see old industrial cities, rich ethnic diversity, Lake Erie, and a few New England church spires. Southern Ohioans are more conscious of Appalachian culture, strip-mining, heavily logged hardwood forests, and the Ohio River. Western Ohioans look out across the...

  7. Part One: Europeans Discover Ohio, 1750-1782

    • [Part One: Introduction]
      (pp. 9-11)

      Before this book opens, in the middle of the eighteenth century, Ohio was a busy place, crisscrossed with Indian trading routes, but it was not home to large numbers of people. By mid-century, however, Indian tribes began drifting into Ohio to take up residence, mainly because they were being crowded out of their homes elsewhere by white settlement. The Delawares moved west from their homes in western Pennsylvania, and the Wyandots drifted south around Lake Erie from their homes on the north shore. The Shawnees were invited to move into the Scioto River valley by the Miamis, or Twigtwees, partly...

    • The First English Journal of the Ohio Country: Christopher Gist’s Journals, 1750-1751
      (pp. 11-15)

      Wednesday Dec. 26.—This Day a Woman, who had been a long Time a Prisoner, and had deserted, & been retaken, and brought into the Town on Christmass Eve, was put to Death in the following manner: They carried her without the Town, and let her loose, and when she attempted to run away, the Persons appointed for that Purpose pursued her, & struck Her on the Ear, on the right Side of her Head, which beat her flat on her Face on the Ground; they then stuck her seyeral Times, thro the Back with a Dart, to the Heart, scalped Her,...

    • The Burning of Pickawillany: Captain William Trent’s Journal of His Trip from Logstown to Pickawillany, 1752
      (pp. 15-18)

      [June] 29th. We got to [the] Muskingum, 150 miles from the Logstown, where we met some white men from Hockhocken [present-day Lancaster], who told us the town [Pickawillany] was taken and all the white men killed, the young Shawanees king having made his escape and brought the news.

      July the 2d. We reached Hockhocken where we met with William Ives, who passed by the Twightwee town [Pickawillany] in the night. He informed us that the white men’s houses were all on fire, and that he heard no noise in the fort, only one gun fired, and two or three hollows....

    • James Smith’s Captivity among the Indians: The Memoirs of James Smith, 1755-1759
      (pp. 18-27)

      As I at that time knew nothing of their mode of adoption, and had seen them put to death all they had taken, and as I never could find that they saved a man alive at Braddock’s defeat, I made no doubt but they were about putting me to death in some cruel manner. The old chief holding me by the hand made a long speech very loud, and when he had done he handed me to three young squaws, who led me by the hand down the bank into the river until the water was up to our middle....

    • The Indians Preach to the Preacher: Charles Beatty’s Missionary Trip to the Ohio Indians, 1766
      (pp. 27-28)

      Brothers, you have spoken to us against getting drunk—What you have said is very agreeable to our minds.—We see it is a thing which is very bad; and it is a great grief to us, that rum, or any kind of strong liquor, should be brought among us, as we with the chain of friendship, which now unites us and our brethren, (meaning the English) together, may remain strong. But,

      Brothers, the fault is not all with us, but begins with our brothers, the white people; for if they will bring out rum some of our people will...

    • A Would-Be Missionary: The Journal of the Reverend David Jones, 1772-1773
      (pp. 28-33)

      Monday [December] 28, … This night was severely cold—the canoe was loaded near eighteen inches above its sides; on this was my lodging. Though well furnished with blankets, was afraid my feet would have been frozen. It may be well supposed that thoughts of sleep in such apparent danger were not the most pleasing; for moving a few inches in sleep, would have made the bottom of Ohio to be my bed….

      Monday [January] 4, set out for the river Siota, and about the middle of the day came to the mouth of it. —the Shawannee Indians formerly lived...

    • Moravian Indians Migrate to Ohio: John Heckewelder’s Diary of the Trip to Gnadenhutten, 1773
      (pp. 34-38)

      The13thof April, we departed together in twenty-two canoes from Langundoutenunk and reached the [Beaver] falls at night. Brother Schebosch, Johannes, and a few more Brethren reached us there too, to take our heaviest things with their horses by land as far as below the falls.

      The14th,the latter turned back because the water was rising and they might have been cut off from journeying overland to Welhik Thuppeek.

      The16th. The Indians found the head of a man close to our camp. The man had apparently been killed in the last war, since his skull had been...

    • The Massacre of Chief Logan’s Family: Henry Jolley’s Account, 1774
      (pp. 38-40)

      I was about sixteen years of age, but I very well recollect what I then saw, and the information that I have since obtained, was derived from (I believe) good authority. In the spring of the year 1774, a party of Indians encamped on the northwest of the Ohio, near the mouth of the Yellow creek. A party of whites, called “Greathouse’s party,” lay on the opposite side of the river. The Indians came over to the white party, consisting, I think, of five men and one woman, with an infant. The whites gave them rum, which three of them...

    • Who Is There to Mourn for Logan?: Chief Logan’s Speech, 1774
      (pp. 40-40)

      I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan’s cabbin hungry and he gave him not meat; if ever he came cold and naked and he cloathed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabbin, an advocate for peace. Nay, such was my affection for the Whites, that my country men hooted as they passed by and said “Logan is the friend of White men.” I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man. Colo[nel] Cresap, the last spring,...

    • Trade and War: A Letter from Governor John Penn to the Shawnees, 1774
      (pp. 41-41)

      When I heard that you had taken Care of our Traders, and had sent some of your young Men to conduct them Home in Safety, it made my Heart glad, because I was satisfied that you kept fast hold of the Chain of Friendship…. But, Brethren, it gives me great concern, and my Heart is grieved to hear of the difference between you and our Brothers, the People of Virginia…. It is a very wicked Thing to kill innocent People, because some of their countrymen have been wicked, and killed some of you.

      Brethren:

      If you continue to act in...

    • An Early Tourist: The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell, 1775
      (pp. 41-48)

      Thursday, May 4th, 1775. In the morning found ourselves opposite Yellow Creek on the W. Very heavy rain for several hours. Very few inhabitants, not a house to be seen in 40 miles, tho’ the land is exceedingly rich, in general. The River is exceedingly crooked, full of small Islands and rapid. If there is high land on one side there is always a rich level bottom on the opposite shore….

      Sunday, May 7th, 1775…. Went ashore on the Big tree Island and measured a large Sycamore tree. It was 51 feet 4 inches in circumference one foot from the...

    • Negotiating with the Indians: The Journal of Colonel Richard Butler, 1775
      (pp. 48-51)

      Aug 30…. Yesterday morning Kayasuta⁴ told old Wingemund⁵ that he thought the Shawnee people had something bad in their hearts as they always cast up the selling of the land to him. And the Corn-stalk⁶ had spoke very ill of him and of the Delawares who Wingemund said he looked on or called dogs or servants of the white people….

      Sept. 1st.Started at 6 o’clock for Pluggy’s [present-day Delaware], it being the nighest way to the Wyandots from Cushockking [Coshocton] & no other road so good, which induced me to go that way. Arrived at the Big Lick [Mount Vernon]...

    • An Official Description of the Ohio Country: Selections from Thomas Pownall, 1776
      (pp. 52-53)

      Muskingum is a fine gentle River, confined within high Banks that prevent its Floods from damaging the surrounding Land. It is 250 Yards wide at its Confluence with the Ohio. It is passable with large Batteaux to the Three Logs, and with small Ones to a little Lake at its Head, without any Obstruction from Falls or Rifts. From hence to Cayahoga is a Portage a Mile long.Cayahoga, the Creek that leads from this Portage to lake Erie, is muddy and middling swift, but no where obstructed with Falls or Rifts. As this has fine Land, wide extended Meadows,...

    • The Rescue of Jane Stoops from the Indians: Three Accounts of Samuel Brady’s Rescue of Jane Stoops, 1780
      (pp. 53-57)

      … The captain at the solicitation of his colonel visited the upper Sandusky town with only eight men. On his near approach to the village he discovered men, women, and children amusing themselves in horse raceing…. As no chance of taking a warrior prisoner presented, he caught two squaws and started for home. That night it commenced raining very hard and continued throughout all the next day, which destroyed their provisions and all the powder but a few charges which the captain had in a priming horn. The weather continued cloudy for several days after…. Having then been two days...

    • An Expedition against the Indians: Henry Wilson’s Account of George Rogers Clark’s Campaign against the Shawnees, 1780
      (pp. 57-61)

      There were 200 men in Col. James Harrod’s reg[imen]t, mostly dressed in hunting shirts & breech clouts, some linen & others buckskin. The mouth of Licking was the place of rendevouz….

      Every man was to furnish his own provisions. In Harrod’s reg[imen]t every six men formed a mess, & had a pack horse, to carry blankets, kettle, the axe, parched corn meal and salt. The boats proceeded up from the Falls along the Kentucky shore, made such a noise that all the game was scared away.

      Some of the men tried to hunt on the north shore of the river, but they ran...

    • The First White Child in Ohio: John Heckewelder’s Memoir of the Birth of His Daughter, 1781
      (pp. 61-65)

      Johanna Maria Heckewelder was born on Easter monday, April 16th, 1781, at Salem, a village of Christian Indians on the Muskingum river. She was baptized on the day following by Rev. William Edwards, minister at Gnadenhutten. A few days after her birth the Indians in that region were thrown into a state of great alarm by the sudden attack of an American army upon a town of the savages, named “Goschachking” [Coshocton], and a number of the latter were killed. About eighty warriors came to our settlements, determined to break up the Indian congregation at Shoenbrun, Gnadenhutten and Salem, or...

    • Colonel Crawford’s Death at the Stake: William Croghan’s Report on the Tragic Aftermath of the Battle of the Olentangy, 1782
      (pp. 65-67)

      Gen. Irvine commands at this post, where he has so few Continental troops (about 200 for duty) that ʹtis not in his power to go from the garrison against the Indians, who are daily comitting murders through this country. The Pennsylvania militia formed an expedition against the Indians about three months ago; but instead of going against the enemies of the country, they turned, their thoughts on a robbing, plundering, murdering scheme, on our well-known friends, the Moravian Indians, all of whom they met they … in the most cool and deliberate manner (after living with them apparently in a...

  8. Part Two: The Tomahawk, the Sword, and the Plough, 1782-1815

    • [Part Two: Introduction]
      (pp. 68-72)

      The Revolutionary War ended in 1783. Soon afterward the floodgates on the frontier opened. What had been a stream of colonists who made their way over the mountains or down the river to Kentucky became a torrent. And they didn’t just stay in Kentucky.

      Squatters often were the first on the scene in Ohio. They settled down where they pleased and stayed until they were driven off by the Indians or the American government or until someone bought them off by paying them for the improvements they had made. Try as it might, the fledgling American government never was very...

    • Rousting the Squatters: Ensign Armstrong’s Report on Destroying Squatters’ Cabins, 1785
      (pp. 72-74)

      Agreeable to your orders, I proceeded with my party early on the 31st of March down the river Ohio. On the 1st instant we crossed little Beaver and dispossessed one family. Four miles from there we found three families living in sheds, but they having no raft to transport their effects, I thought proper to give till the 12th inst., at which time they promised to demolish their sheds and move to the east side of the river.

      At Yellow Creek [near Wellsville, Columbiana County] I disposessed two families and destroyed their buildings. The 2d being stormy, no business could...

    • Marietta in Its Infancy: The Journal of Colonel John May, 1788-1789
      (pp. 74-78)

      Tuesday, [May] 27th. Slept on board last night, and rose early this morning. Have spent the day in reconnoitering the spot where the city is to be laid out, and find it to answer the best descriptions I have ever heard of it. The situation delightfully agreeable, and well calculated for an elegant city….

      As to our surveying, buildings, etc., they are in a very backward way. Little appears to be done, and a great deal of time and money misspent. There are now here about thirty Indians, who appear to be friendly enough; but they are a set of...

    • These Beautiful Shores: Descriptions of Ohio by Manasseh Cutler and St. John de Crèvecoeur, circa 1789
      (pp. 78-79)

      The great level plains which one meets with here and which form natural prairies, have a circumference of from twenty to fifty miles, they are found interspersed almost everywhere along the rivers. These plains have a soil as rich as can be imagined and which with very little labor can be devoted to any species of cultivation which one wishes to give it. They say that in many of these prairies one can cultivate an acre of land per day and prepare it for the plough. There is no undergrowth on them and the trees which grow very high and...

    • Recollections of an Early Cincinnati Settler: A Letter from Luke Foster, 1789
      (pp. 80-81)

      On the 27th. of the (same) month, August, 1789; I met the first party of hostile indians, that ever came with hostile designs, against these settlements…. The party I met was four indians, on the road or rather path, to our cornfield, about 11/4 mile from our fort…. The next day, my self, with eight others, pursued them, when coming on their trail, found they had taken our horses, which made their trail more plain, we followed them on horseback, up the east fork of Little Miami; about 30 miles, (as near as we could guess) when to our surprise...

    • Growing Up Indian: The Memoir of Jonathan Alder, 1786-1805
      (pp. 81-88)

      One incident that I remember and should have spoken of before, and which occurred before I had commenced to hunt, I will now relate. Sometimes one Indian, and sometimes another, would take me out hunting for a single day. One cold winter day, Big Turtle asked me to go with him hunting. We then lived near the Sandusky Plains. I got ready and started. We wandered about for some time, and finally he said we would cross the Plains. After we had crossed over a short distance, he killed a fine deer, skinned it and hung the meat up.

      We...

    • Early Marietta Settlers: Joseph Barker’s Journal, 1795 and After
      (pp. 88-94)

      In January, 1790, a Boat on the Way to Kentuckey put on shore a very sick Man & his family, by the Name of Welch…. Mr Welches disorder proved to be the small pox. As the small pox had not been in Marietta a Town meeting was called, a small house was built not far from where the college now stands, to which he was removed with necessary attendants, but he lived but a few days…. A Town Meeting was called & held in the Northwest Blockhouse at Campus marcus [Martius], at which it was decided that all persons who had not...

    • A Winter Journey Down the Ohio: Francis Baily’s Journal of a Tour to Unsettled Parts, 1796-1797
      (pp. 94-99)

      Only conceive a river near 1,500 miles long, frozen to a prodigious depth (capable of bearing loaded waggons) from its source to its mouth, and this river by a sudden torrent of water breaking those bands by which it had been so long fettered! Conceive this vast body of ice put in motion at the same instant, and carried along with an astonishing rapidity, grating with a most tremendous noise against the sides of the river, and bearing down everything which opposed its progress!—the tallest and the stoutest trees obliged to submit to its destructive fury, and hurried along...

    • A Picnic in Old Chillicothe: From the Diary of the Reverend James Smith, 1797
      (pp. 99-100)

      Thurs. [October] 12th. Mr [Samuel] Heighway after compelling us to take breakfast with him [in Waynesville], accompanied us some distance and put us into the right way to Old Chillecothe.⁶ About 1 o’clock we were saluted with a view of one of those beautiful plains, which are known in this country by the name of pararas [prairies]. Here we could see many miles in a straight direction, and not a tree or bush to obstruct the sight. The grass in the parara, we found higher than our heads on horseback as we rode thro it. After riding about 2 miles...

    • The Pioneer Household: Thomas Ewing’s Childhood Adventures, 1798-1800
      (pp. 100-103)

      At the time of my father’s removal, I was with my aunt, Mrs. Morgan, near West Liberty, Virginia, going to school. I was a few months in my ninth year. Early in the year 1798, I think in May, my uncle brought me home. We descended the Ohio river in a flat boat to the mouth of the Little Hocking, and crossed a bottom and a pine hill along a dim footpath, some ten or fifteen miles, and took quarters for the night at Dailey’s camp. I was tired and slept well on the bearskin bed which the rough old...

    • A Circuit-Riding Preacher in the Western Reserve: A Memoir of the Reverend Joseph Badger, 1801-1803 and After
      (pp. 103-107)

      There was only one road leading from Beaver to the Reserve, and that almost impassable. I was directed to take ablazedpath which led to the Mahoning river, a mile or two east of Poland. When I came to the river the water was high, the current strong, and how deep I could not tell. But there was no alternative; I must pass or sleep in the woods. I ventured in; the water soon came over the tops of my boots, and my horse beat down stream fast toward swimming water; but happily reached the shore in time to...

    • Work and Play in Trumbull County: Leonard Case’s Memoir, 1800 and After
      (pp. 107-110)

      The usual incidents attended the journey until crossing the south line, on 41° N.L. [North Latitude]. From there to Yellow Creek, in Poland, was a very muddy road called “The Swamp.” In Poland, a settlement was begun, Judge Turhand Kirtland and family living on the east side, and Jonathan Fowler and wife, a sister of the Judge, keeping a tavern on the west side. From thence our way was through woods to where was a family by the name of Stevens, who had been there three years or more. The wife’s name was Hannah. With her, our family had been...

    • A Waynesville Quaker: A Letter from Samuel Linton, 1804
      (pp. 110-111)

      Friends Saterthwaites—I am about to visit you with another letter, and inform you it is fine growing weather here at this date after a cold, snowy winter; the northeast wind, about the 10th of the first month [January], made its way around the North Bluff of the mountain, and found us and blowed us up a big snow, above eighteen inches deep, a thing unprecedented in this country—and, also that we are in good health….

      The emigration into this country is so prodigious that, notwithstanding the fertility of the soil, there is scarce enough raised to supply their...

    • A Letter from Worthington: Ruhamah Hays Writes to Friends Back in Connecticut, 1805
      (pp. 111-112)

      Most respected friend,

      Can I withhold my pen from writing to one on whom I so much depend as we have left most of our good neighbours those few that we hope to enjoy seem particularly near & not hearing from you we have had some anxiety on your account fearing you would not come this fall. I assure you Miss Buttles is & the rest of us would be greatly disappointed should you fail. I should be glad to inform you more respecting our journey & present situation than I can at present for want of time. We overtook our team at...

    • Mahoning County Hero: Roswell Grant Remembers James Hillman, circa 1806
      (pp. 112-115)

      Last night I wrote a sketch of James Hillman. The first part is verbatim of what I have heard Hillman and wife speak of many times, but from 1807; and up to the time I left Youngstown, I was an eyewitness of what I have stated. All I have seen or heard I never forget….

      Some two years after the above there was a party of Indians lived near Ravenna, Deerfield, and Atwater, of about four hundred strong, and of all ages and sizes. John Diven lived in Deerfield; he had traded horses with an Indian. The Indian thought he...

    • A German Missionary in Ohio: The Reverend Paul Henkel Preaches at Brush Creek, 1806
      (pp. 115-116)

      Sunday, the 17 [August].

      This morning we leave the household of Friend Roth. He himself goes with us to service. His wife very much lamented her fate that she could not go with us. Within the first three miles all who had promised to go along, besides others, joined us. Our company is composed of 7 persons who are going along to service. We must ride through a forest a distance of 13 miles. It is half past ten by the time we arrive at the place…. Upon our arrival, we find all the Germans assembled, who are living in...

    • A Trip along Zane’s Trace: Selections from Fortescue Cuming’s Travel Book, 1807
      (pp. 116-125)

      This town is finely situated on both banks of the Muskingum, at the confluence of that river with the Ohio. It is principally built on the left bank, where there are ninety-seven houses, including a courthouse, a market-house, an academy, and a post-office. There are about thirty houses on the opposite bank, the former site of Fort Harmar, which was a United States’ garrison during the Indian wars, but of which no vestige now remains….

      The land on which Marietta is built was purchased during the Indian war, from the United States, by some New England land speculators, who named...

    • A Businessman’s Perspective: The Travels of John Melish, 1811
      (pp. 125-130)

      August 26th, [1811] we left Steubenville about 8 o’clock; the morning was foggy; the temperature of the atmosphere 60°. We proceeded down the river three miles, when, Mr. Ward having some inquiries to make, we stopped at a very handsome plantation, situated on the Ohio side, on an extensive bottom, which raised corn, oats, barley, hemp, wheat, and rye, in great abundance; and there was a peach orchard literallyloadedwith fruit….

      We dined by the way on broiled chickens, which we purchased at Steubenville for six and a quarter cents each; and after a very agreeable sail we reached...

    • Some Pioneer Memories: Henry Curtis’s Youth in Licking County, 1809-1815
      (pp. 130-131)

      The war of 1812, occurring as it did in the pioneer day of Ohio, the proximity of the settlers to the Indian villages and the Canada border brought them in direct connection with many of its painful events, and added greatly to their sufferings and privations. There was an Indian village on the upper waters of the Raccoon branch of the Licking, near where the village of Johnstown now stands; another, called Greentown, near Perrysville, in this county; and then the Wyandottes at Upper Sandusky. Although these several IndianPueblosprofessed to be friendly, yet their friendship was unreliable; many...

    • Cleveland in Infancy: Isham Morgan Remembers the Village, 1812-1813
      (pp. 131-133)

      My first distinct recollection of Cleveland dates back to 1812, when I rode behind my father on horseback to Cleveland, which, possibly, then contained twenty families. On the Public Square, near where the lower fount now is, I saw the gallows standing, on which the Indian murderer, John Omic, was hung a few days before.11Then there were many large stumps on the Square, and clumps of bushes which extended to the lake, and all along the bank of the lake, from the summit to the beach, the trees were all standing…. On the south side of Superior street, from...

    • The Maumee Settlement and the War of 1812: Philothe Clark Recalls Her Family’s Flight to Urbana, 1811-1812
      (pp. 133-135)

      They [the Clark family and their fellow travelers] stopped at the Wapakonetta, an Indian village at the head waters of the Auglaise River. There they made two flat-bottomed boats by halving two basswood logs, dug out and securely put together in the middle in a manner that they would not leak. He [Isaac Clark] was a natural mechanic, and could turn his hand to almost any kind of business.

      There was one white man living with the Indians there. We left in our boats, gliding down the Maumee by day, and nights fastened our boats to the shore by a...

    • Early Child Labor: Royal Taylor Works for His Weight in Sugar, circa 1813
      (pp. 135-136)

      We were four days on the road from Warren to Aurora, a distance of less than thirty miles, where our journey of forty-five days [from Massachusetts] terminated, June 22, 1807.

      When we built our first log cabin the nearest neighbor on the north was thirty miles away, on the west, sixty miles, on the east, about eight miles, and on the south of Aurora about ten or eleven miles to a house in Franklin township.

      At that time northern Ohio was a vast wilderness, with but a few inhabitants, except the Indians, who outnumbered the whites two or three to...

    • News from the Frontier: A Letter from Cynthia Barker to Julia Buttles, 1813
      (pp. 136-136)

      Dear friend

      … Noah had a letter this day from his father Griswold…. Emily Griswold is taken again with the fever, Nancy Taylor lay at the point of death; Hezekiah Benedict’s wife is dead; Henry Willcox had moved down from the forks of Whetstone for fear of the Indians; his wife was taken stone blind, and lay at the point of death. Luther Case’s wife sent for the Doctor the day before he wrote—he says that Doctor Wills has more business than he can do—The Indians are getting to be thick very near them; they have come as...

    • Squatters on Indian Land: A Letter from Benjamin Stickney to Major General John Gano, 1813
      (pp. 137-138)

      Upper Sanduskey Decr. 1813

      Sir

      Prior to the present war there being no Officer in this part of the country whose proper business it was, to keep the reserves of land made by the Treaty of Greenville for the purpose of managing Indian affairs, clear from intruders, who had become (at Lower Sanduskey) considerably numerous and a Lawless set indeed. In the bustle of the war, this set of people have had great additions to their numbers, and appear to have lost all ideas of Law or equity (if they ever had any.) Possession in their estimation, is as good...

  9. Part Three: The Passing of the Frontier, 1816-1843

    • [Part Three: Introduction]
      (pp. 139-143)

      After the War of 1812 ended in early 1815, Ohioans returned to the business of populating and taming the wilderness. As settlements turned into cities and forests into farms, a sense of community began to spread over the land. Slowly, people began to leave their isolation in the forest and work and play in groups with their neighbors. The struggle to survive began to give way to the struggle for better conditions.

      The state became divided into two cultures. Where the forests still dominated, pioneer life was almost as tough as it always had been. Livvat Böke describes the hardships...

    • The Hard Life of the Small Farmer: Recollections of William Cooper Howells
      (pp. 143-148)

      Among the glories of the place I remember unlimited crops of peaches that, at that period, grew to great perfection in the new soil of the country…. These orchards were set with apple trees as the principal crop, but the rows were interalternated with peach trees, which grew more rapidly and were expected to die out by the time the apple trees came into good bearing. At this time the peaches had reached their prime, and almost every year they bore abundant crops, of which any one could gather for the asking. Cherries were of slower growth, and had not...

    • John Stewart and James Finley Preach to the Wyandots: A Memoir by William Walker, and the Reverend James Finley’s Accounts of the Upper Sandusky Mission, 1816-1825
      (pp. 148-154)

      The doctrine of repentance was not well received by Jonathan [Pointer], (who at this time and afterwards acted as Stewart’s interpreter,) and supposing as he did, that the congregation would be of the same mind, he would sometimes, whilst interpreting, after stating the substance of Stewart’s discourse, add and say, “so he say, I do not know whether it is so or not, nor do I care; all I care about is to interpret faithfully what he says, to you; you must not think that I care whether you believe it or not….”

      A few white traders who had been...

    • “Ohiomania”: John Stillman Wright’s Cautionary Tale, 1818
      (pp. 154-156)

      Cincinnati, Jan. 6, 1819

      … In certain parts of this country, there are poisonous roots or weeds, which frequently kill the cattle that eat much of any of them: and should a hog, dog or wolf, make a feast of the carcase, it inevitably proves his last. Poisoned milk, too, is quite common, of which, if people eat they sicken immediately, and will need medical aid before they are restored to health. Another of the evils of the “garden of the world,” is what is termedsick wheat:This is most frequently found on the rich bottom lands, and is...

    • An English Farmer Follows his Curiosity: William Faux’s Memorable Days Traveling in Ohio, 1819
      (pp. 157-158)

      At four this morning, on the driver getting down to lock the wheel, the horses started, and instantly struck a stump of a tree, and upset the mail with a crashing fall, which bruised my side, cut my face, and blackened my eyes; the two leaders escaped into the forest, and we saw them no more. The driver went in pursuit of them, and left me to guard and sleep one hour and a half in the damaged vehicle, now nearly bottom upwards. When I awoke it was daylight, and I walked up to a farm log-house, the people of...

    • An Unhappy Visitor: Zerah Hawley Travels from Old to New Connecticut, 1820-1821
      (pp. 158-163)

      Sept. 30[1820]—Crossed the State line and entered Ohio, thefabled regionof the West. I sayfabled region,because more, much more has been said about the State, than has any foundation in truth….

      I was much disappointed upon my arrival in this State, to find it so much more thinly settled, than from all accounts I had heard, I had reason to expect, and to discover so few marks of wealth, and so frequent and great appearances of poverty and distress.

      Austinburgh, Oct. 1st. 1820

      DEAR BROTHER,

      I arrived in this part of the country the last...

    • The Death of Charles Brady: Charity Osborn Tells of Early Widowhood, 1824
      (pp. 163-163)

      Early the morning of the 18th of December, my husband took what proved to be his final leave of our earthly home. He took his gun and after loading it went to the Center, where, joined by my brother Benjamin Kniffin, he started with an ox team to take a load of grain to Washburn’s mill. The track lay through the woods, which then reached the entire distance. When they had passed about one-third of the distance, Charles took hold of his gun which lay upon the load and pulling it towards him, it discharged, killing him instantly.

      Benjamin was...

    • A Quaker Woman on the Frontier: Letter of Anna Briggs Bentley, 1826
      (pp. 164-166)

      The Cabin 8th Mo 17th 1826

      5th day night [Thursday]

      My dear friends

      … This has been a most laborious week to me washing, baking, scouring, cooking & I have been constantly on my feet. I feel very tired now and look forward to tomorrow as atreatfor I have a great pile ofpatchingto do that I can sit down to—and I have 4 and 1/2 loaves baked and pies enough. I have had many calls from neighbors since 1st day [Sunday]…. It is customary here for neighbors to go out and help at what they call...

    • An English Lady in Cincinnati: Fiances Trollope’s Book about Cincinnati, 1828
      (pp. 166-170)

      The greatest difficulty in organising a family establishment in Ohio, is getting servants, or, as it is there called, “getting help”; for it is more than petty treason to the republic to call a free citizen aservant. The whole class of young women whose bread depends upon their labour, are taught to believe that the most abject poverty is preferable to domestic service. Hundreds of half-naked girls work in the paper-mills, or in any other manufactory, for less than half the wages they would receive in service; but they think their equality is compromised by the latter, and nothing...

    • Otto-wau-kee Speaks for His People
      (pp. 170-171)

      After closing his eloquent address, and taking his seat, amid a profound silence throughout the council, all eyes were turned upon the stoical and dignified countenance of Otto-wau-kee (Che-ot-tire-wan-kee), the great O-taw-waw chief, who sat with his gaze riveted upon the earth, seeming unconscious of the wild throbbing of the thousand anxious hearts of the assembled council. Many minutes passed in silent suspense, when he rose to his feet, and with that majestic dignity born to the North American savage, scarcely equaled by the cultured prince or statesman, folded his arms across his breast, his eyes now riveted upon the...

    • Swiss Immigrants on the Ohio Canals: The Diary of Joseph Suppiger, 1831
      (pp. 171-174)

      The prices on this canal are higher than on the New York canal. By the mile one and a half to two cents fare was demanded, for food one-half dollar per day, and freight for the effects, one half dollar per hundredweight. This canal is not yet finished, so far only something over 168 miles.

      There is so little competition here that we could find only one good arrangement. For freight, passage and food for eleven persons, it was $50 to Dresden, 151 miles from here; then we must detour toward Zanesville. At three o’clock at night all our possessions...

    • The Capture of a Fugitive Slave: A Newspaper Report, 1832
      (pp. 174-176)

      A short time ago a negro man, who had lived in this place two or three years under the name of Thomas Mitchell, was arrested by some men from Kentucky, and taken before a justice under a charge of being a slave who had escaped from his master. The magistrate, on hearing the evidence, discharged the black man, not being satisfied with the proof brought by the claimants of their rights to him. A few weeks afterward some men, armed and employed by the master, seized the negro in our main street, and were hurrying him towards the outskirts of...

    • The Escape of a Fugitive Slave: The Memoir of William Wells Brown, 1834
      (pp. 176-182)

      At last the time for action arrived. The boat landed at a point which appeared to me the place of all others to start from. I found that it would be impossible to carry anything with me, but what was upon my person. I had some provisions, and a single suit of clothes, about half worn. When the boat was discharging her cargo, and the passengers engaged carrying their baggage on and off shore, I improved the opportunity to convey myself with my little effects on land. Taking up a trunk, I went up the wharf, and was soon out...

    • Early Oberlin: Marianne Dascomb Arrives at Oberlin College, 1834
      (pp. 182-184)

      … Next morning at five o’clock we took stage for Elyria, which is ten miles from Oberlin—road very bad from ruts and mud. We were in constant danger of overturning. Once when we came to a ditch in the road the gentlemen got out and took down a fence, so that we could turn aside into the adjoining field and ride around the obstacle. At Elyria we dined, and obtained a two-horse wagon to transport us, and two gentlemen from new England going to the Institute as students, to our journey’s end. We found the wagon a very comfortable...

    • Charles Hoffman’s Winter in the West: A New Yorker Goes West, 1834-1835
      (pp. 184-187)

      Awaking with the sun, I found that we were in the midst of new clearings, the road leading through a level country as far as the eye could reach, and having its sides faced beyond the fields with trees, which, with tall stems and interlacing summits, stood like giants locking arms along the highway. I must now be in Ohio, thought I; and I was right. The effect of this magnificent vegetation was striking even at this season; but after riding for half a day along such a wood, with not a valley to break the view, nor a hill...

    • A Young Man’s Travels: The Journal of Cyrus P. Bradley, 1835
      (pp. 188-195)

      [June, 1835] 1. Mon…. Blannerhasset’s splendid mansion is nothing but a heap of ruins; what was once the abode of beauty, taste and hospitality, is now a sad monument of the folly of human ambition. Coming down, I peeped into the place where are stowed the deck passengers. I was astonished at their number—black, and white, men, women and children lolling about on the floor, the trunks, couches, etc. they carry their own supplies with them, and feast or starve as they choose. My throat being quite sore, I applied to the waiter for some ginger tea—no ginge...

    • A German Woman on the Ohio Frontier: The Memoir of Liwwät Böke, 1835 and After
      (pp. 195-200)

      How different I and Natz seem in those first times, how we struggled to overcome the dense, ominous, wet, silent forest, the streamlets, the creeks, the stones, the solitude … just we two against time, need and trees. The trees were strong-limbed and Natz is strong-boned.

      It is indeed an important notion to describe how hard and tedious it was, the time it took to clear the land of all these trees and underbrush. The forest is a vast, attractive, wonderful sight to see and enjoy, but that one cannot eat or wear. Natz and I are thankful about our...

    • Following the Dream: Letters of the Thomson Family in Ohio and Indiana, 1818-1836
      (pp. 200-204)

      Wilksville, Ohio [Vinton County] November the 15, 1818.

      Brother Ziba Thomson

      … I understand you have sold your farm[..] I want you to Come and build Mill on my farm for I have more business than I can attend to[.] I have bought one half of a Still wich is now running and all of a Sawmill in town which Cost me twelve hundred Dollar[.] [W]e run Six Bushel of Grain per Day and expect to run 18 after new year[.] [W]e find reddy Market for all the whiskey we make[.] Mill is wanted the most of any thing in...

    • Disease and Death on the Frontier: Judge Fowler Remembers the Death of His Family, 1836
      (pp. 204-205)

      August 8th, 1836, my third daughter, nearly eight years old, was taken sick. The second day she was prostrated and seemed to be sinking rapidly, but revived by the help of medicine. She was taken vomiting in the evening of the second day and died on the morning of the fifth day, having had medical attendance during her entire sickness. On the 10th of August my second daughter, a remarkably robust girl nearly eleven years old, was taken with vomiting, attended with high fever and the most intense restlessness, that continued for three days, when her case assumed a more...

    • The Battle of the Bridge: Oren Wiley Tells of Early Commercial Competition, 1836
      (pp. 205-207)

      In the course of the fall months of Oct. and Nov. of this year [1836] a controversy arose between Ohio City and Cleveland. The difficulties arrose from a bridge that was built across the Cuyahoga River at the most southerly point of the City of Cleveland, on the principal road leading to the state’s capital, and was every [sic] calculated to take the travel from Ohio City and forward it to Cleveland. This was too much for the infant city to endure.

      It was soon ascertained that fair means was to no purpose. Foul followed next. It was on a...

    • Childhood in Van Wert County: Thaddeus Gilliland’s Boyhood, 1835 and After
      (pp. 207-209)

      Once, while the Wyandot Indians were still here Elmyra Gilliland (now Mrs. M. H. McCoy) and her cousin, Elizabeth Gilliland, were hunting the cows about a mile from home, when they came across an Indian camp and saw smoke coming out of one of the huts. Elizabeth became so frightened that she ran away in terror, lost her bonnet and would not stop to pick it up. Elmyra, who was more inquisitive, went up and threw down one of the slabs of which the huts were constructed, looked in and then drove her cows home. They were not aware that...

    • Ottawa Indians Leave Ohio: Dresden W.H. Howard’s Memoir of the Removal of Ottawas from the Maumee Valley, 1838
      (pp. 209-211)

      No incident in the settlement of the Maumee Valley was fraught with greater interest than the removal of the scattered bands of the last remnant of the Indians in the fall of 1835.

      Their original titles to the land had been extinguished by treaty whereby they had conveyed their land to the U.S. Government, although by stipulation they had the right to remain until the settlement of the country by the whites required their removal. That time had now arrived, and the whole country was over run by land speculators more or less since 1832….

      As one of the men...

    • News from Cleveland: Newspaper Stories from a Growing Industrial City, 1839-1841
      (pp. 211-213)

      Sept. 20, 1838

      Terrible accident—Yesterday the cylinder house connected with the Powder Mill of L. B. Austin & Co., about a mile and a half from this place, was blown up, and we are pained to add, caused the death of Mr John L. Ingram, a worthy and industrious young man, who was at the time employed in the mill. Fortunately, there was no other person with Mr Ingram at the time, although there were injured. There was in the building at the time of the accident, about 1000 lbs. powder, and the explosion, as maybe readily imagined, was terrible—...

    • The Last Good-bye: The Xenia Torch-light Notes the Departure of the Wyandots, 1843
      (pp. 213-214)

      The remains of this once flourishing tribe of Indians passed through our town on Sunday morning last. They encamped about three miles north of town on Saturday evening, where they had intended to remain over the Sabbath, but some person or persons, having injudiciously furnished the intemperate among them with ardent spirits, it was thought best to leave in the morning, for fear that their peace would be seriously disturbed by those few who had become intoxicated. The general appearance of these Indians was truly prepossessing. Every one of them, we believe, without an exception, was decently dressed, a large...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 215-220)
  11. Index
    (pp. 221-230)