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Appendix II – Life in the “Twleve-Mile Purchase,” 1810 to 1814. – The War

             As Judge Hoover’s narrative refers mostly to matters and things in the eastern part of the county, the following account, written by a sister of his, who with her husband was among the first settlers of the “Twelve-Mile Purchase,” may not be devoid of interest.  And besides, it presents a woman’s view of life in those days.  It was written and published in the “Wayne County Journal,” printed at Centreville, in 1854.  I have carefully preserved the quaint style of the original.  Let it be borne in mind that it is no fancy sketch, but comes from one who, during the war, sometimes alone, experienced the trials she describes –   

“Oft-times when night hung o’er the woods,

and snow lay on the ground,

The gaunt wolf ‘howling on the hill,’

The savage prowling round.”

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A SHORT SKETCH OF OUR PILGRIMAGE IN THE FIRST SETTLING OF THE WESTERN SIDE OF THIS COUNTY, NOW FORTY-FIVE YEARS AGO.

             The country around us was an entire wilderness, with here and there a small cabin, containing a small family.  We were nearly all new beginners at that time, and although we had to work almost day and night, we were not discouraged.

            We were in fine spirits until the battle was fought at Tippecanoe by General Harrison and the Indians.  After that, we lived in continual fear, and passed many sleepless nights.  Well do I recollect how I kept my head raised off of my pillow, in listening, expecting the savages to come and take our scalps.  We had every reason to believe that such would be the case, as they were frequently to be seen scouting all around us.  At length the time arrived when two men were stationed at our fort for our protection.  My husband also enlisted and served three months as a soldier, but was not called out from the fort.  We were truly thankful that there was no fighting to be done, as we were then few in number, and completely in the power of the enemy.  But it is evident they intended harming only such persons as they thought hostile to them.  A young man by the name of Shortridge was killed by the Indians about three miles from our fort.  He had on at the time a portion of the dress of another man, who had made threats against them, and it is supposed they mistook him for the latter.  In the spring following, Charles Morgan and his two half-brothers were killed at their sugar-camp, scalped, and one of them thrown into the fire.  This happened about six miles from our residence.  This was quite alarming; we knew not what to do; we gathered ourselves in small groups in order to hold counsel.  Finally, we concluded to leave our new homes; which we did, time after time, for the space of two years.  We were grateful, indeed, to see peace returning, so that we could again enjoy our homes.

            There were many and serious trials in the beginning of this country with those who settled amid the heavy timber, having nothing to depend on for a living but their own industry.  Such was our situation.  However, we were blest with health and strength, and were able to accomplish all that was necessary to be done.  Our husbands cleared the ground, and assisted each other in rolling the logs.  We often went with them on these occasions, to assist in the way of cooking for the hands.  We had first-rate times, just such as hard laboring men and women can appreciate.  We were not what would now be called fashionable cooks; we had no pound cakes, preserved, or jellies; but the substantials, prepared in plain, honest, old-fashioned style.  This is one reason why we were so blessed with health – we had none of your dainties, nick-nacks, and many fixings that are worse than nothing.  There are many diseases that we never even heard of thirty or forty years ago, such as dyspepsia, neuralgia, and many others too tedious to mention.  It was not fashionable at that time to be weakly.  We could take our spinning-wheels and walk two miles to a spinning frolic, do our day’s work, and, after a first-rate supper, join in some innocent amusement for the evening.  We did not take very particular pains to keep our hands white; we knew they were made to use to our advantage; therefore we never thought of having hands just to look at.  Each settler had to go and assist his neighbors ten or fifteen days, or thereabouts, in order to get help again in log-rolling time – this was the only way to get assistance.

            I have thought proper to mention these matters, in order that people now may know what the first settlers had to undergo.  We however did not complain half as much as people do now.  Our diet was plain; our clothing we manufactured ourselves; we lived independent, and were all on an equality.  I look back to those by-gone days with great interest.  Now, how the scene has changed!  Children of these same pioneers know nothing of hardship; they are spoiled by indulgence, and are generally planning ways and means to live without work.

Appendix I    Home    Lines on a Land Warrant