Reminiscences of Marietta, and Its Surroundings as it Appeared to a Boy Sixty Years Ago.
Magalia, Butte Co., Cal.
March 25, 1887
A stray number of your paper fell into my hands a month since, from which I discover the Washington County Pioneer Association, and citizens generally are making preparations for a grand Centennial celebration of the first authorized settlement in the Territory of the Northwest, under the ordinance of 1787. To commence on the 7th, of April proximo, and continue three days.
In the long list of names as permanent members of the association, I recognize quite a number, that I knew when a boy sixty years ago. Of course, the greater number of the generation living at that date, having long since passed from earth, while a few still linger upon the shores of time. It has occurred to me, that a few notes, from one who has wandered far from his native town, might not be wholly uninteresting to your many readers.
My father, a native of Northfield, N. H. came to, and settled in Marietta in 1802. My eldest brother, whose name appears as Vice President of the association, according to the record in our old family bible (published in 1809) was born in Marietta, Nov. 12th, 1806; and the writer of this was born July 19th, 1815. My earliest school-boy days, were under the tuition of William Slocum, who taught for a number of years in the "Old Academy" near the large Presbyterian Church, fronting the Muskingum bottom.
Among my school mates were, Dudley and George Morgan Woodbridge, S. P. and George Hildreth, Guss and Jacob Cram, William, Charles, and George Emerson, William Wood, Noah L. Wilson, Furd. Buell, and William Putnam, of Harmar. Among the girls I remember, Julia Holden, Maria Buck, Martha Wilson, Isabella Green, Mary, Wing, Dodge, and the Ward girls, whose christian names I have forgotten.
Among the old people of the town, I remember, Gen. Rufus Putnam, Gov. Meigs, Henry P. Wilcox, Dudley Woodbridge, Sen., Joseph Holden (Merchant), James Dunn, Samuel P. Hildreth, M.D., John T. Cotton, M.D., Robert Crawford (Merchant), Nahum Ward (Land Agent), John Mills (Banker), Silas Cook (Jailor), and others too numerous to mention. In Harmar - James M. Whitney (the great steam boat builder), Judge Warner (Court of Common Pleas), and many others that I simply knew by sight.
Great changes are wrought by the ravages of time; not a face among a thousand, that I then knew, would I recognize now. There are, however, land marks about the town, that time will never change. There stands the Wilcox Hill, overlooking the "Point" or lower portion of the town. There is the "Covert Way" - the "Elevated Square," the great high "Mound," with its beautiful ring in the middle of the Old Cemetery - where lies the remains of Gen. Putnam, Commodore Whipple, Gov. Meigs, and many others of the honored dead. These localities will stand the ravages of time.
Here it was, on the plains of the "Stockaid," where I met my little school mates, and roamed over the play grounds of my childhood; and though sixty years have passed away, the pleasing reminiscences of those happy days still cling to fond memory like the fading shadows of a golden dream.
Allow me to mention a few more names, connected with some incidents that I call to mind, and I will close this letter already too long.
In 1824, on the occasion of the visit of Gen. La Fayette, of Revolutionary memory, to the United States, on his way from New Orleans to Pittsburg, he made a short call at Marietta, which roused the whole town to enthusiasm. One feature of the visit was to form the Sunday school children in a double column on the green lawn in front of Nahum Ward's palatial residence, while the great General passed down the center of the column, and shook hands with all the children - I remember his grip.
The "Marietta Gazette and American Friend" was the title of a paper published, and edited by Royal Prentiss, at an early day. I remember the old fashioned puff balls, with which they put the ink on the type, and the great lever which brought down the press. Another paper entitled The "Minerva Pilot" published, and edited by A. V. D. Joline, was run in opposition to the Gazette; and though the editors were bitter, the devils in each office were friendly, and often exchanged visits. Jack Brough, who afterwards became Gov. of the State, was then devil, in the Gazette office; and on a visit at the Minerva office, one evening while the paper was being put to press, and the employees absent at supper, he changed two letters in the title of the paper. So that the entire edition came out the next morning as the "MINERVA LIPOT." This was more than human nature could bear, and the wrath, and thunders hurled at the Gazette Office for the next few weeks was indeed terrific.
Young Brough, however, kept his distance, and soon went to the Athens College, where the Woodbridge boys, with many others from Marietta finished their education.
Dr. A. K. Stearns, now a resident with his family in Magalia, also received his education at Athens, and is one of the Pioneers of that section.
Wishing all who attend the Centennial a pleasant time, I am,