Letter from Elisha Allen to Dr. Samuel P. Hildreth.
In answer to your letter, I will now give a short relation of my father's emigration to this country.
In May, 1791, my father with four other families left the County of York, Township of Wells, in the now State of Maine, for the Ohio Company's purchase and arrived at Westmoreland County in the State of Pennsylvania the following Autumn. Because of the Indian hostilities at Marietta they concluded to stay there until the close of the war. Nothing particular came under my observation until the Summer of 1794 when the insurrection broke out called the "Whiskey Boys" one company of which marched past my father's going and coming from burning Mr. Wells, the excise master's house. In the Autumn an army of United States troops marched through to quell the insurrection and consumed the greater part of the provisions near their route which created a great scarcity of provisions and also of the greater part of the inhabitants who took flight for Kentucky. My father became dissatisfied and hearing of Wayne's treaty with the Indians concluded to move and having heard Marietta highly spoken of concluded to remove there.
Early in March, 1795, he joined with a neighbor and built a boat and arrived, I think, at Marietta, April 6th. You may surmise with what consternation he was seized as soon as he ascended the bank, expecting to find Marietta a thriving, industrious, enterprising town, to find a few log cabins and block houses, surrounded with palisades 15 or 16 feet high, with almost every room occupied and numbers preparing to remove to their farms in the country, which many did that Spring. And now, dear sir, think of Marietta more than half of the houses empty going to decay, with but a few men of any enterprise, schools and but very little respect paid to the Sabbath. No society but down at the point and that was protracted society, meeting night and day at the tavern and returning often with wounded heads and bloody noses. However, this dark picture did not [last] long. There were some seeds of Puritans here and others frequently arriving. In the Summer of 1795 a man by the name of Daniel Gurley taught three months, the first school we had after our arrival. I went to his school and now believe he was an excellent teacher.
The next school was taught by _____ Little who practiced law as States' attorney at Marietta and had to leave for misconduct which was as follows:
An action of criminal law was pending in the court. The defendant being an avaricious man and Little a lover of money, he (Little) received a fee on both sides. The case was called and Mr. State's attorney pleaded "not prepared." The Judge told him that the State must always be ready and called on the defendant if he was ready. He answered, "yes." Who is your attorney, in quired the judge. Mr. Little, sir, replied the defendant. Have you paid him, said the Judge. I have answered the defendant. Have you his receipt, inquired the Judge. I have, was the reply. The Judge ordered the court to be cleared. Shortly after the Deputy Sheriff came out of the Court with Mr. Little followed by a crowd to his lodgings. There he took his trunk and proceeded to the river, put Mr. Little and his trunk in a small canoe and in another took him to the middle of the river, and there left him without a pole or paddle. He begged for some time for either pole or paddle but being denied took off his cocked hat, these being then fashionable, and began to paddle with it. Not being a waterman he soon gave up, sat down in the canoe and so floated out of sight. I heard afterward that he was taken up at Parkersburg.
There were by that time considerable additions to the town by the return of a number of citizens who had been absent with Wayne's army. They began to pull down the old buildings and build new ones. The next school was in the academy taught by Mr. David Putnam, Esq., where I received the most of my education and from the knowledge I have had of the scholars taught by him, in their after life, great praise is due to Mr. Putnam for his stability and perseverance while connected with the school. You will perhaps inquire how persons of every grade and from almost every clime, lodged in that lone spot in the wilderness, could keep up their spirits. But there are always some in every society full of chicanery and others to act the Mountebank. Of such I will give one or two specimens.
The first I shall name is Edward Moulton, who was the butt of all the humorous. To detail all the pastime had with him would exceed my limits. One, however, I will relate as a specimen. The family consisted of his mother, two sisters and himself. They kept a respectable boarding house for the time. A certain Dr. _____ came on with a small allotment of cheese (which was a rare thing) and took up his lodging with Widow Moulton, who was rather parsimonious and who set a table for the Dr., herself and the daughters, in the dining room but Edward had to eat in the kitchen. They had their tea, coffee, butter and cheese and he had to eat hasty pudding and milk. This he thought rather humiliating. However he soon found an opportunity to convey one of the doctor's cheeses away and secreted it in the barn. The Doctor soon missed the cheese, suspected Edward, and got a warrant to apprehend him. The Sheriff found him hoeing corn and read his warrant, and as soon as read told Edward he must go with him. His answer was, "I will not go for Doctor loves cheese, Marm loves cheese and Dr. b[e]ds with Anna and I won't go." This was nuts for the Sheriff. Away he went to the Esquire returning his warrant. (The house was crowded.) "Where is your prisoner?" asked the Esquire? He says "Doctor loves cheese, Marm loves cheese, Anna loves cheese and Doctor b[e]ds with Anna and I won't go." A burst of laughter arose all over the house. The Doctor arose and said, "I will pay the cost; let him go."
Not long after this another Doctor arrived from England, known about as much as a curiosity as Moulton for his chicanery. He was a very small man, merely skin and bones, without a spire of hair on his head but covered with a large wig finely powdered with old-fashioned shad-body coat, vest with flapped pockets, breeches and stockings, large shoes with silver buckles.