by Scott Powell, 1925
Contributed by Linda Fluharty.
PIONEER LIFE Pages 84-87.
GENERAL WAYNE gave the Indians a severe chastisement at the battle of Fallen Timber in August, 1794, and at the treaty at Greenville the following year they promised to cease hostilities and live in peace with the whites. They were thoroughly frightened and many of them were wise enough to flee the wrath of the old general whom they said never slept and who promised to give them a worse thrashing the next time they commenced scalping settlers. He told them that it would make no difference if he was dead as he would come out of his grave and give them a thrashing that would make most of them permanently good.
Peace brought great joy to the hardy settlers and their families. Captives were released and the living members of many families were once more united. They could now go to their homes in the forest and remain there without fear of painted redskins murdering them or carrying them into captivity. Many had spent, for years, much time in forts and block-houses. Children had grown up and knew little or nothing but life in some stockade or to remain in their cabin home in dread of Indians.
Now children could, for once in their lives, play in the woods in summer and not fear the painted savage. They had lived in dread of the scalping knife and subsisted upon venison and hominy, and not all the time had plenty of that. Now peace had come and with industry they were to have plenty.
While the hunter and scout had been fighting the Indians. and providing for his family as best he could, living in hopes; of better days, the brethren on the east side of the mountains had not been idle. They had fought a successful war against the mother country and gained independence. They had solved the problem of self-government and had a written constitution and had successfully started a government under which they would secure untold blessings. When the old hunter and warriors of the frontier returned to their cabins in the forest they had, brighter prospects than they had ever anticipated. They lived in a government for the people, of the people, by the people. They had liberty. Nothing was sweeter to them than the word LIBERTY. The sky was brighter and the air more balmy. There was to be no more war-whoop of the Indian; the smoke of the burning cabin of the settlers was no more to be seen. Sounds were to be heard and smoke to be seen, but the smoke was that from burning logs in the clearing and the sound that of the ax of the settler as he felled the trees and cut them so they could be piled in heaps and burned as he cleared the land to cultivate. He now engaged in removing the forest and preparing the soil for cultivation.
It might well be said, "All work at our house." Father worked also. He was the leader of the work. He and the larger boys cut down the trees and cut them into logs so they could be handled, and the children gathered the brush and piled it up and spent many pleasant evenings burning it. The rifle was hung up in the cabin for future hunting and the tomahawk and scalping knife were made implements of industry, no more to be used as weapons of war. They were now at work to make pleasant homes. Early and late the sound of the ax could be heard as they labored to remove the forest to convert the ground into fields. The smoke of the burning log heaps started on its way toward the sky; they were happy and contented with their lot. It was not a life of ease but of contentment and neighborly feelings which leveled many bumps and removed many difficulties. They were ready to enter upon the full enjoyment of life and of the many good things that go with a life of industry and good fellowship.
The little spots of cleared land soon grew to be large tracts with fences and fields. Trees were cut down and all things made ready for a log-rolling, not a political one.
The hardy settlers and their grown sons gathered at the neighbors' clearing at an early hour and the work and fun commenced. It was fun because they enjoyed it. The day was spent in piling the logs into heaps ready to burn. Night came and the work for the day ended. As night, sabel goddess, dropped her curtain o'er a slumbering world, the old folks began to leave for their homes while girls who had remained at home began to arrive.
A log-rolling without a dance was not thought of; it was out of reason. At an early hour the sound of the fiddle was heard and the dance commenced. There was not much time wasted and the dance went merrily on and often continued till daylight as many of the roads were not adapted to night traveling as there were yet many wild animals that no one cared to meet after night and would avoid them in the day.
There was often a scarcity of chairs and the beds around the cabin walls were utilized for seats and were generally taken up and then all were not seated. Boys were not expected to get up and offer their seats to girls but were expected to offer her a seat on his lap and it was not expected to be refused but the offer accepted.
Young men were not accustomed to make unbecoming remarks about young women and start slanderous reports, as is often the case in the days of greater refinement, or if he did, her big brother or someone else would call on him and generally after an interview the face of the slanderer would have somewhat the appearance of having encountered something out of everyday life. Many amusing incidents are related concerning the social gatherings of the pioneer days in this country. One of the amusing incidents is said to have occurred at a back-woods wedding. Many of the guests were young and bashful. The amusement of this occasion was an old-time play party, or what was frequently termed, a kissing party. The young men (boys they were called at that date) were rather shy of the bride and this matter did not escape the notice of the young and gallant groom who was very proud of his wife. After a few instances in which some of them should have kissed the bride but failed to do so, the irate husband became very angry at the slight and could stand it no longer and as the party progressed the matter became worse instead of better and the boys became more shy. He stopped the play and loosening his garments to give his arms more freedom he interrupted the hilarity by calling out, "Say, the next cuss that refuses to kiss my wife when her turn comes will be thrashed out of his hide. I'll stand this no longer. She isn't to be slighted by any cuss here." That ended it; she was soon as popular as the other girls and the proud husband as well pleased with the young men as a boy with red-topped boots.
Life was not all fun. They had really very hard work of the hardest kind. They were free to plant and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Orchards were planted, meadows were sown, the forest disappeared and fruitful fields took the place thereof. Bears and wolves were numerous and destructive to sheep and hogs and the hunter found opportunity to exercise his skill in the use of the old rifle in getting rid of them.
County courts offered bounty for scalps of wolves or their heads. Some counties offered larger bounties than others and there was due attention given to the county in which higher bounty was offered and county lines were a matter of some interest to the hunter in catching and killing wolves and it has been stated that wolves when caught near a county line were taken across it and killed in the one offering the higher bounty. For many years Ohio county offered fifteen shillings for the scalp or head of an old wolf and half that amount for a young one. Among the names of persons from Grave Creek receiving bounties for wolf scalps were Nathan Masters, Robert Carpenter and Mrs. Elizabeth Tomlinson.
The famous Wolf Spring, on the banks of Parr's Run, received its name from the catching of a wolf near it, by a man by the name of Abijah McClean. Wolf trapping was interesting from a financial standpoint and at the same time afforded the hunter and trapper no little amusement.
People endeavored to meet as often as possible and hunting parties were common and much benefit was derived from hunting as wild game afforded no small gain in the matter of supplying the table with meat.
Selfishness was not so common in the pioneer days as at a later period and the early settler came as near obeying the commandment, "Love thy neighbor as thyself," as is done at the present day. They helped each other in almost all kinds of work. If a settler was sick and could not gather his harvest the neighbors were not backward in lending a helping hand and joined together and gathered it for him. The log-rolling, grubbing, corn-husking and many other things of the kind, afforded opportunity for gatherings and all were attended with social features.
Education was not neglected. The log schoolhouses appeared whenever there were enough families within a radius of four miles or about that, a schoolhouse was erected and a teacher employed and a school opened and the usual three months of school was taught in the winter and some very good work was done both by teachers and pupils and a foundation laid for future generations and better schools.
It will be seen that the work of clearing the forest away and converting the ground upon which it stood into fields was not the work of a few months but that of many years of hard work and many privations, yet these hardy people, full of industry and determination to succeed, have cleared it up and left it for future generations to cultivate the fertile soil and enjoy the prosperity in their happy homes.