Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Rambles of a Day – The Thoughts of a Lifetime

The Marietta Register (semi-weekly), August 5, 1887

‘Tis the morning of the 30th of July and with diligence I am to seek the ground on Bear Run, Lawrence Township, chosen for to-day’s gathering. The circumstances made it natural that I should, as I drove along, think of the past dwellers by the road side.

As I enter my buggy I look across the way. Four brothers once were mine. The grave has them all. The playmates of my youth, our neighbors’ children, one by one have dropped by the wayside, and gone out of my sight.

I turn a corner. There lived my early school teacher, Wm. Slocomb, and just beyond, on the other side of the way, my Latin instructor and spiritual teacher, the Rev. L. G. Bingham. Across the square lived Royal Prentiss, the editor of the American Friend and Marietta Gazette of long years ago. Further on and yet within the corporation, were Michael Deterly and Robt. Williamson, both sturdy, trusted men. Outside the city limits and yet near my starting point, were the homes of Dr. Jonas Moore, Samuel Gates, Ebenezer Gates and such like men – all gone. Beyond the creek, the first house was the home of Isaac Maxon, for many years the editor of the Whig paper of early days. Then Stephen Hildreth’s and his son Calvin’s. Then the old homes of O. L. Recard and Zebulon Jennings. Each one of all these, receiving from me now but a passing remark, deserves at the hand of the historian each a chapter. Next we come to Rose’s Mill, on Little Muskingum. Who that ever knew them has forgotten Elisha Rose and his wife Rebecca? This mill, the second from the mouth of the creek, was one of the six that ground the grain and cut the logs of the early comers here.

Soon we find ourselves in Lawrence Township, the history of the erection of which is as follows: At the June session, in the year 1815, of the County Commissioners (the board consisted of the following members: Nathaniel Hamilton, Daniel Goodno and Henry Jolly, Esq.), on the petition of Nathaniel Mitchell, John Mitchell, Elisha Rose, John Sharp, and sundry other inhabitants of the Township of Newport, praying that a new town may be laid out and set off from the Township of Newport, it was:

Resolved by the board, that the tract of country contained within the following limits, viz: the whole of the original surveyed township number three in the 7th range, together with sections numbered 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, and 36 in the second township of the 7th range, be and the same is hereby established into an incorporated town, to be called and denominated Lawrence, and the inhabitants residing within said district are declared to be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of incorporated towns within this State. The electors within said town will meet at the house of John Mitchell on the second Saturday of July next, at 10 o’clock A.M., to elect township officers according to law.”

At the March (1816) session of the Commissioners, a petition to throw back all the above named territory except section 3, into Newport Township, signed by William Hill, Mathew Miner, Jasher Taylor, John Hill and others, was presented. A remonstrance, signed by Samuel Dye, James Mitchell, Ezekiel Dye and sundry other inhabitants of the town of Lawrence, was also considered and by vote of the Commissioners the lines of the town remained unchanged.

At a subsequent date, the territory south of the east and west line of section 3 was restored to Newport Township. The road which passes by Peter Becker’s (whose house is in Newport Township) soon crosses the west, north and south line of Lawrence Township and you find yourself among the citizens of that good old township, named after Commodore Lawrence, of deserved fame, acquired during the war with Great Britain in 1812. When the war of the Rebellion was upon us this grandly named old township was not forgetful of duty, but furnished two hundred men for the Union army. Of these, many went to return no more. The bodies of a few of the dead were sent home , but many were buried in far off fields. May ministering angels watch over their sleeping dust.

Lawrence Township, as now organized, embraces 36 sections of 640 acres each and consequently has within its limits twenty-three thousand and forty acres of land. I can distinctly remember when not one-third of this area was in the hands of the inhabitants, but was owned by the Government. I believe that now every forty acres has its owner and they chiefly residents of the township.

The wealth of the coal and oil in the bowels of the earth within the limits of the township no one can estimate. Millions of dollars have followed the search for oil alone, and new wells are constantly rewarding those who search.

Soon we pass the home of Joseph Caywood – one of nature’s noblemen. Thence to the place of Esq. Samuel Dye, the father of James H. and Jonathan Dye, of Marietta. I could write pages about his goodness and kindness as a neighbor. Everybody loved him. For years, without opposition, he was elected a Justice of the Peace. His kind heart often controlled his actions. I remember once when, as a magistrate, he held a claim against a neighbor for collection, he came to town and sold his last cow to raise money to pay it rather than, as he said, to take from his neighbor’s children the milk that nourished them. I care not what theologians say, but it seems to me “that such are of the kingdom of heaven.”

I could linger just here and beginning with this old man call around me the spirits of a large number of those who in early days lived in the cabins of Lawrence – but I must away. I reach the mouth of Bear Run, cross the bridge and find myself among improvements without number, where but a few years ago the wilderness was.

Derricks, many in number, tell the story of oil search. At no distant day I propose, with the excellent aid of my friend, Archie Dye, to write up the “Oil Excitement” of 1861 – ’62 – ’63 – ’64. And if he gives me in perfection all he knows of this, as his good wife and daughter did in the preparation of one of the best dinners I ever sat down to, the world will be amazed as well as amused. I must not dwell on this dinner, but I may be allowed to say who with me sat at the table. Forty or more years ago, Marietta had a Mechanic’s Lyceum – the membership made up chiefly of mechanics, but allowing a few who had not the good fortune to have a trade to enjoy its privileges. One of the active, useful members of that club was Thomas Clogston. I remember him well. Outside of the Lyceum and the trade bench, he was a power; his example, his life, pure and noble, aided in building up good morals and intelligence. In the midst of his great influence for good he was cut down, and in the Mound Cemetery at Marietta you read: “J. Thomas Clogston, died June 28, 1846, aged 35 years, 1 month and 21 days.”

I often met and took council with him, but death separated us and I soon, in the hurry of life, lost sight of his family. At this dinner table, after the lapse of 40 years, I once more saw his good wife, and two ladies whom I here met proved to be the little girls that I oft-times saw seated upon their father’s knee.

Pic-nics, harvest homes, of this day, take the place of log rollings and corn husking of other days. They are all much alike, made up chiefly of the young who mean to have a good time. The gathering this day was like all others of the kind. Everybody enjoyed it.

The drive from Archie’s Dye’s to Marietta up the hill along the ridge and down to Eight Mile, brings you in sight of the knobs of East Lawrence and West Independence and of the homes chiefly on high airy places of the dwellers in this the most beautifully picturesque part of Washington county.

I can’t dwell to tell you of the clever fellows I met and what they are all about. Gracy, McGee, Gilbert, Noland, and a host of others living hereabouts are not living in vain. I left them all feeling to cry out: “Let fate do her worst, there are relics of joy, Bright dreams of the past which she cannot destroy.

G. M. W. [George Morgan Woodbridge]

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