A Very Old Story: 1818

A story from long ago.. The following is from The Sketches of Thomas White of Ohio by L.P. Allen.

Far Guys Great, Great, Great Grandfather James H H. ( born in 1783) from New Jersey and Grandmother Mary (born in 1787) from Ohio, were married on Jan 01, 1808 in Ohio. They began an adventure in May 1818.. They took a keel boat on the Ohio, then cordeling (twisting) the boat up the Mississippi, via St Louis, landing at the mouth of the Wood River. In June they made their home in the hills of the Piasas ( a area in Madison County, Illinois). In August in the company of others they made a tour of inspection to the fertile lands northward, of which they had heard glowing descriptions. Crossing Apple Creek the first day, they camped on the bank of a small stream that bore his name for a number of years. He laid the first claim north of Apple Creek. In 1819 they reached their wilderness home, although privations* and hardships ended not for many years. Not having cotton or flax they resorted to nettle for their clothing. In August of 1819, James thought that a little wheat flour would go well with turkey, venison and hominy, he took the cart and the oxen to St. Louis, Missouri to obtain some. He was absent about three weeks.
This occurred while he was gone….
A former acquaintance was visiting them as usual, accompanied by the backwoodsman’s friend, the rifle; himself must take his own true gun, the friend promised to stay with the lone family, the oldest child not eleven years of age. One night as the family lay in the new camp, without a door or shutter, the screams of a huge panther woke them as he came leaping on the branches of the lately fallen trees near the hut. The cautious Mary called " Aaron do you hear that?" "yes" "Well what is it?" "It’s a painter, and don’t make any noise or it will come into camp and kill us all." "If I get you the gun can’t you shoot it?" "No; be still." "Well, if it comes in I will have you killed first." She got up and made a trick of bark and clap-boards and moved it up and down till the shocking blood sucker retired.

A Note of interest: Mary’s mothers maiden name was McGhee, whose father and two brothers were in the Revolutionary War, one of them seven years, and composed one of General Washington’s body-guard, and rendered important service at the battle of Brandywine.

There is another note: Furniture was homemade, cooking was done in an open fireplace, their first cooking stove was purchased in 1848 cost 60 dollars..the value of four cows.
In these writings it is noted that Mary was a woman of strong mind, and was sympathetic to the afflicted. James was noted for his strong love for morality and temperance: he was energetic and had the interest of schools at heart.

* Privations I had to look it up..it means the state of being deprived.

Far Side notes: They were 31 and 35 years old when they began their adventure, and 61 and 65 when they got their first stove. James died the next year in 1849. The wilderness that they settled in was later called Greene, Illinois. Far Guys Great Great Grandfather James White H. was born in 1817 ..so he was just a tiny baby when they began their adventure, he was the sixth child born to them. Marys last child was born in 1828..she was 41 years old then..she had eleven children..and no real stove. I cannot even begin to imagine how very difficult her day to day life was. The story above was taken from The Sketches of Thomas White, I found it on the Internet years ago, I would have linked to it but the site is no longer in existence. :)

East Side did a blog awhile back that ties in with this one very nicely.. Graves of a Family Name.

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5 Responses to A Very Old Story: 1818

  1. Avatar of abra la mente says:

    That was very interesting. I love old history sketches, especially when they include family. I have found a few of my family stories online, as well. Of course, curious me, I wasn’t content with the fact it is no longer available, and did a little searching. Did you keep copies of it? Do you have the entire history? If you don’t, I can get the whole publication for you through my ancestry.com subscription. Just let me know.

  2. PrairieWoman says:

    I could not imagine not having a stove to cook on. I wouldn’t know where to begin. Mary sounds like a very strong woman. I only wish I were as strong as the women of the 1800s; physically and emotionally.

  3. Far Side of Fifty says:

    Abra, No , I just have a few pages..one of which had this story. Nothing else. I would love to have read more. You can email me..do you still have my email? eugeneh@eot.com Thanks you are a doll! :)

  4. Avatar of abra la mente says:

    I sent some pages via emai, but if you don’t receive, or can’t open, let me know…I didn’t check the size of the attachment before I sent, then realized it was quite large…oops!

  5. Avatar of homd homd says:

    I remember hearing family stories about people WALKING from one place to another — we’re talking long distances! But they thought nothing of it. Yow, those pioneers were a sturdy bunch!