Thursday, January 12, 2012

Old Time Marietta

Unidentified, undated newspaper clippings, ca. 1902

Reminiscences of the City Sixty Years ago, By Matilda.

On Sixth street, just above Mound cemetery, is where the first corn and wheat were raised in the first settlement of this state.  Mr. George Hovey has a corn knife in his possession which was used at that time to cut this corn.  In front of his residence, part of which stood there sixty years ago, there stands a wild cherry tree.  As teams pass this tree in the road a hollow sound is given out, which has been noticed for many years.  It has been surmised there might have been an underground passage connected with the ancient works, but never having been investigated, the sound remains a mystery.

A low house stood above this, in which Rev. Mr. Barnes once lived, long ago.  Going around the corner of Wooster and Sixth, we come to the house once occupied by Caleb Emerson, editor of the "Western Spectator" and later of the "Marietta Gazette."  He was one of the first trustees of the College, a lawyer of note and an active member in the Baptist church.  His daughter, Mrs. Bailey, at an advanced age, still lives on the same lot.

A few years ago, an old resident of Marietta living in Ross county, returned.  Looking around he said, "I just want to see that chinquapin patch where I gathered nuts when a boy."  With a boyish gait he made his way to the end of Wooster street, expecting to see a deep hollow, the sides covered with chinquapin (a species of chestnut) bushes, but lo!  No hollow, no bushes; a disappointed old boy was he.  At this time "Oak Grove" had not become a cemetery and was called the "Nye woods."  The Fourth of July was once celebrated on the north side of the hill; the Stars and Stripes floating among the trees, a brass band (a new institution) called forth the echoes from hill to hill; a speech by Judge Arius Nye, a procession, a dinner, and the "Fourth" was a success.

Our city once boasted a market house at the foot of Second street.  There were no meat shops, very few groceries, no delivery wagons.  Why is it since we have made such progress in civilization we do not need a market house?

There were about half a dozen stores at that time, among them that of Nathaniel Holden, John Mills, the Holden brothers, Dudley Woodbridge and the Shipman brothers.  The demand for imported goods was small.

To have seen a lady in church, or walking on the street in the habiliments of the time would be a great surprise to the girls of this generation.  Scoop bonnets were worn, which must come beyond the nose of the modest dame, or the green calash, a construction of berage and rattans, which would let down behind the head like a buggy top.  Her dress was of scant dimensions, two or three inches waists, did not sweep the pavement.  (There were no pavements to sweep.)  Her hands were encased in silk net mits in summer, in winter with mittens carded, spun and knit by herself.  Her shoes were of stout calf skin in winter, Morrocco in summer.

About this time the rubber overshoes were invented.  When the first installment reached Marietta they were regarded critically by the buyers, as you would have done.  They came with the clay moulds inclosed over which they were made; these had to be broken out, then you beheld a rather shapeless quivering rubber affair, but very acceptable on the muddy streets.  No gentleman wore them, that was too feminine.  Now he can get them on quicker than any lady.  The umbrellas and parasols carried had the genuine whale bone ribs and the cloth of many colors, green predominating.  One of this color is shown in a Chicago museum, said to have been carried by Washington.  The bandanna was the handkerchief for gentleman and carried generally in their hats.

As the streets were not lighted at night in any way, sixty years ago, every family had its tin lantern, perforated with holes, as indispensable as the tea kettle to the household.  In a socket within was inserted a "tallow dip" to light the wayfarer.  "What was a tallow dip?" you say.  It was the kind of candle our great-grandmothers made, by the quantity, in the fall (before the era of candle moulds) for winter use.  This consisted in taking pieces of candle-wicking twice as long as the candle was intended to be, doubling it and slipping the loops, of a great number of these, on sticks two or three feet long, then arranging these on bars.  The housewife would take each stick, insert the wicks in melted tallow, hang up to cool, when through the number, commence and dip over again and so on until each was the required size of a candle, the dipping was done and all were packed away for use.  One of these was supposed to light a room for a household, inserted in the old brass candlesticks (now cherished as relics) with the accompanying tray and snuffers, the snuffers being used every few minutes.

When lard oil lamps came in use the family would stand at a distance while the wick was lighted for fear of an explosion, later the kerosene lamp caused greater fear, but was used on the street corners, a wonderful improvement on the lanterns.  Now we use two kinds of gas and electricity and fear nothing.

Another custom of the housewife was the making of soft soap in the spring.  The bar soap of the one hundred and one brands now in use were unknown, only small quantities of Castile soap in cakes were seen.

The large fire places, large enough for children to walk into, with cranes to swing out, covered with hooks for kettles, were built in every house.  A cooking stove was unknown and when many years later a few were brought to Marietta, they were looked upon with distrust, pronounced a fraud, taking all the flavor from anything baked therein.  Long sticks of wood chopped with an ax, andirons to hold them up, a backlog, a bellows, the bake kettle, spiders and hanging griddle completed the arrangements for cooking and housewarming.  Woe to that family who let their fire go out.  Lucifer matches were not invented until after 1830, so if so unfortunate as to lose fire there was a hurrying to a neighbors for the live coals and hurrying back, before they died out, this short stay originating the expression, "Have you come for fire?" to visitors making short calls.  A flint and steel was used in emergencies to strike fire by the pioneers.  To wind the clock and cover the fire were the last duties of the day at bed time.  A foot stove was a luxury, sometimes used in churches, by individuals, before the time of heating churches.

It was not uncommon for girls of that period, if papa was away from home, to go to the wood yard and wield the ax (without cutting a foot off) either in cutting wood for the fire.  She had not heard of the drudgery of the modern fashionable gymnasium, or she might still have preferred the ax.  She had not one hundred and fourteen years old and Marietta in that time has laid aside most of the old time customs and devices, yet it took nearly a hundred years of drowsiness before it awoke to its present vigor, push and hustle.  We have over fifteen churches, as many Sabbath schools, and schools, home missions, a jail, Court House, banks, many plants for manufacturing this and that.  Many good things have come to us as the years rolled on.

Sprightly new suburbs as Norwood, Fairview Heights, Emerson Heights, Putnam Place, Sunnyside, Riverside and others, have seemed to arise out of the ground before we realized it.  With all the good things have come the evil.  There are "dark corners" and dens in alleys, basements, back rooms, second stories, which are not classed in the category of churches and we hold our breath while we think of all the young men (and older ones) and girls from some of our best families who frequent these places unknown to their parents.

We look for the "Good Government League" to come to the rescue.


Reminiscences of Marietta Sixty Years Ago - Second Street

To stand at the south corner of Second and Putnam streets and look at the paved thoroughfares in all directions, one can hardly realize that sixty years ago, the people of Marietta had no more idea of paved streets of brick and asphalt than of the streets paved with gold they read about in their New Testaments.  One was as much beyond their ken as the other.  The Union Depot, just in sight from this corner, we had no use for then.  Not a railroad entered the town.  Telegraphy and telephone service had not been invented.  The mail and travelers were carried mostly by stage coach.  The great lumbering vehicle, with its black "boot" behind in which was stored the baggage of the passengers, was a welcome sight to the children as it came in from Zanesville in the evening.  The driver blew long blasts on his horn, then the shout went up "The stage is coming" the stage is coming!" thus breaking the monotony where steam whistles and screechers had not invaded.  Just above the present depot stood the first jail, its dungeons being secured by a lock and key now in existence, weighing 17 pounds, the key alone weighing two pounds.  When this dungeon was empty, the sheriff would sometimes lock in the children playing around just to see how it felt to them.  They did feel the grating of that key to the bone, and were as frightened as if they were all murderers.

On the south corner stood a female Seminary, superintended and taught by Lionel Tenny, wife and assistants.  The girls of seventy to-day remember the good, also the adverse times that came to them within those walls.  The graduates of that institution and the teachers have mostly passed away.

Across from this corner stood the residence of Nahum Ward, one of Marietta's oldest citizens.  This house was set back from Putnam street, perhaps 200 feet, a large house for those days, and shaded in front by locust trees.  The lawn in width extended from the bank corner to the alley.  Beautiful shrubbery, fanciful trimmed evergreens and flowers along the paved walk to the house, delighted the school children as they gazed through the pickets, and seniors enjoyed it as well.  Those daffodils and johnquils!  I seem to see them still, nodding their heads in the springtime.  Giant sycamores stood on Putnam street, a joy to the citizens.  They have all been razed against the protests and moist eyes of the girls in their sixties.  Nahum Ward's little land office stood some distance up Second street, demolished only within a few years.

The court house on the north corner had been re-modeled a number of times till finally to-day we behold an entirely new and magnificent Court House on the same site.  Above the Court House stood the old Wilson home.  Next came the Skinner house and a dwelling owned by three maiden sisters by the name of Stone.  The last two houses still stand.

The old Academy, which had been removed from Front in very early times, stood on the ground where the Patterson house now stands.  A stately elm marks the spot now, which has survived the skinnings of the boys of long ago, to procure the delectable "slippery elm" bark.  Above the Ward land office, stood a building one story high, which was used for Episcopal services before a church was built, afterward for select schools.  Beside this stood a house with a great window of diamond-shaped panes, said to have been an Episcopal parsonage.

The next building as you walked up the street was the small Methodist church, the first of that denomination built in Marietta.  It's evening meetings were held at "early candle lighting."  Woe to any bonnets under those sputtering candles on the wall.  They had to be snuffed about every fifteen minutes.  The "Easter bonnet" was unknown to our grandmothers.  None of these church members were allowed to wear a bow of ribbon or an artificial flower, no amusements indulged in "which were not for the glory of God."  Imagine their consternation should they behold the flower beds carried on hats to-day.

Next to the church lived Joseph Kelly.  Grandpa Kelly was a staunch Methodist and held several offices in the church.  He and his wife were entertainers and helpers of the itinerant preachers of that time.  When only seven years old he was stolen from his parents by the Indians and kept until he was eleven.  Little Joseph had a hard time among them, was tortured by the Indian lads by making him run the gauntlet (a long board) and each in a long row giving him a stroke with a whip as he passed.  For some reason his ears were cut in slits, which marks he retained through life.  This little story was published a great many years ago by Doctor Samuel Hildreth, in pamphlet form.  Mrs. Barber, a daughter, and a number of grandchildren still reside in Marietta.

An old parsonage stood next Mr. Kelly's, was removed to north Fourth street, and is now re-modeled and occupied by Amon Huff.

From Wooster street to the Franks property was an immense pond covered with skaters in the winter.  These boys have exchanged their skates for spectacles, crutches, canes and rolling chairs, and call themselves "grandpa" to wee men and women.  Where the Franks residence now stands, a small frame called the Adams house, stood, where religious services were sometimes held.  There were no houses on the other side from Wooster up to Washington.  On the other corner there was a great hill, resembling a mound, for some reason called "Liberty hill."  It has been carted away.  The front enclosure reached to Second street.  Therein were shops, where making and repairing of all articles the pioneer needed was done.  Some of the account books kept at that time, yellow with age, kept in pounds, shillings and pence are now extant.

Dates in 1796-7 show the names of Return Jonathan Meigs, who had knee buckles repaired; Blennerhasset, who had a great deal of work done; Commodore Whipple, Fearing, Tupper, Nye and scores of others.  Spoons were made from coins, gold beads for the ladies, also thimbles, guns, axes, plows, shovels, door latches, nails, everything made by hand.

There were no houses above this sixty years ago.


Reminiscences of Marietta Sixty Years Ago - Third Street

This was considered a back street at that period.  There were only four buildings on it, from Putnam street to "Putnam Place" at the other end.  The most important of these was the Morris house, corner of Washington and Third, remodeled now, and occupied by the Otto family.  This was a harbor to many flood sufferers in '32.  Just above this was the long building called, I think, the Wheeler Wagon works.  The residence of Joseph Morris was at the other end.  He and his wife rode to the Congregational church every Sunday morning in a green wagon, common in those days, but which would be a curiosity now.  Few of his descendants are living.

From Putnam to Wooster a wagon track was seldom seen, being mostly a swamp, and where the cows pastured themselves as on many another street.  During the summer and fall, great quantities of mushrooms could be gathered in the morning dew on this street, immense in size, not like the tiny canned goods of our time, when epicures would revel in such morning harvests.

Some years before this, the whole block, on the corner of which stands the German M. E. church, and Dr. Gear's on the opposite corner was a sheep pasture.  From the backs of these sheep the wool was sheared, picked (famous for fun were the "wool pickings"), carded into rolls by hand, spun and woven by the pioneer mothers into fabrics for winter wear of their households, and the flax fields in the vicinity after the long labor of planting, cutting, rotting, hatcheling, spinning and weaving, were converted into cloth for household linen and summer wear.  In 1796 a young girl, Sarah Nye, living in this neighborhood, was soon to be married and the flax was stored in the attic of her father's house (Ebenezer Nye), which when converted into cloth would make her wedding outfit.  The house caught fire, and burned down, flax and all.  Bitter tears were shed by Sarah, as she had to wait another year till another crop of flax was raised.  Time rolled on and in 1797 she became Mrs. Azariah Pratt.  Her descendants of 70 and 80 live to tell the tale.  Calico then was 50 cts per yard (eight yards only being required by our grandmothers for a dress) and other dry goods and groceries ranged accordingly.  The wages for out of town, good school teachers was one dollar and twenty-five cents per week, one fourth to be paid in money, the other three-fourths in flax, rolls or wool. 

As late as '84 the north corner of Wooster and Third was a sand bank.  One summer afternoon two men sat on the ground here talking excitedly.  A lady acquaintance passing by said, "What in the world are you doing in this sand?"  "We are going to build a church here," was the reply, to the astonishment of the listener, and soon after there loomed up the First M. E. church of brick, in which the first service was held in the basement, Thanksgiving day, 1885.  It does not seem very long ago that Wooster hill from Third, and Third from Wooster, could not be ascended by a team.  Behold the transformation.  There is no more desirable locality for a home than just this neighborhood.

The home of Dr. Samuel Hildreth still stands on Putnam beside the new Court House.  A three-story residence was a wonderful sight; the constructing of from sixteen to twenty-four story buildings, skyward, had not yet been achieved by Americans, and now, perhaps, no other nation has succeeded in getting as near the stars.  Doctors Hildreth and Cotton were the two who had the widest reputation (not half a dozen of them), and were appreciated and loved in the long ago.

The "Pool" house still stands next the Hildreth residence, said to be over a hundred years old, and now occupied by members of Anselm T. Nye's family.  The Woodbridge homestead, similar in construction to the Wards, stood back from the street, on the corner of Putnam and Third.  Immense trees decorated the yard, giving such a quiet cool look to the surroundings.  The late G. M. Woodbridge was the last of a large family to pass away, children of this genial old gentleman, Dudley Woodbridge, who lived and died in this lovely home, as we remember it.


Sixty Years Ago - Fourth Street as it Was.

The College grounds were not as extensive as now, and only one of the four buildings, the old Dormitory, had been built at that time.  Fronting on Fourth street was the President's residence (Lindsley).  The district school children stood as much in awe of a College President as of the President of the United States.  One was equal to the other in their eyes.  If he passed a group of these young scientists, they would huddle together and whisper "Yes, its the President."  Good father Woodruff, who was called Marietta's polite man, so courteous to all and a great cultivator of flowers, lived in a cottage also fronting Fourth and had many apple trees in the rear from which the students (did not steal, of course) helped themselves secretly after night.  Being observed by the owner, he would call out, "Boys, you can have as many apples as you wish."

Fronting Putnam, stood the old Academy, plastered on the out side, a dismal looking affair, but from which many a young man started in the ways of knowledge.  A little lower on Fourth lived John and "uncle Bill Slocomb," who kept a shoe store, and where they also cut and made the yellow envelopes, a new "fad" of the day, and sold them readily to their customers.  First above Putnam stood the district school house, two stories high, now remodeled into a dwelling house and occupied by Mrs. Gates.  Here the three R's were taught, also grammar and Watts on the mind" year after year, mostly by male teachers.  Here also were enacted pugilistic feats to the consternation of the scholars, between the teacher and some of the big boys, excelled only by "Corbett."  Sometimes the teacher had the upper hand, oftener the big boy, first one prone on the floor, then the other.  Time has leveled all differences, as to who should rule; all the teachers and nearly all of the scholars have passed away.

On the other side of the street, up to Scammel, were vacant lots, most of the year covered with water from the hill, making a long pond, a fine sliding place for the school children in winter, and thereby making custom for the local shoe maker.

A two story house came next, stairs on the out side.  Next that the residence of Mr. Jones, father of Charles Jones, the merchant, and where Charlie spent his boyhood days, and still sticks to this street, noting all the improvements as the years go by.  A brother of the first Mr. Jones lived in a cottage next.  This completes the number to Scammel.  As you crossed Scammel, the hill rose up in front of you and pedestrians had to climb at one side by the fence.  At this corner a large orchard yielded its yearly crop of natural fruit, being also the corner of the "sheep pasture."

Just over the brow of the hill stood quite a large brick house, the residence of Nathaniel Clark, the "potter," who supplied the town people with jars, pans and jugs, made in a very laborious and primitive style.  North of this Mr. Clark owned a large orchard reaching from Fourth to Fifth street, where Sabbath school picnics were held on the Fourth of July and addressed by G. M. Woodbridge and others.  After this came a long stretch of grassy street equal to a lawn, only one small brick house thereon, the home of grandfather Shaw.

This desolate locality was said to be inhabited by ghosts, dark nights, and so believed by the school children, who would not venture through this avenue even in daylight.  The ghosts proved generally to be belated drunken men, trying slyly in their dazed condition to locate their homes.

There was another little district school house standing on the site now occupied by the large Washington street school house.  Theodore Scott, a successful teacher in many parts of Marietta, taught here at the time of his marriage to Miss Sarah Booth.  Union Sabbath schools were also held in this building and occasionally a sermon delivered; one by Rev. John Woodbridge will be remembered by some, from the text, "I am the vine, ye are the branches."  Just above this on the other side of Fourth on the corner, lived Barker Devol and wife (called the "odd women") and two daughters, Sally and Abby, and son, George.  The oblong square, with its approaches on the four sides, a part of the ancient works, all are familiar with.  It was named Camp Tupper in time of the Civil war, when soldiers encamped there.  Beyond this there was a large extent of woods on the premises of Morris and Putnam.

What a hush there was among those trees; not a sound could be heard, save the clatter of falling beech nuts and hickory nuts, or the scurrying of a frightened squirrel up a tree with its winter stores.  Not a locomotive whistle had ever been heard in this vicinity.  A few steamboats plied the Ohio; two or three the Muskingum river, but no whistle sounded their coming; their distant puffing, seldom heard, was listened to with such interest and awe as we can hardly imagine now.


Fifth Street, as Seen By Matilda, Fifty Years Ago.

If the Marietta friends are not tired of these old-time streets, will start again up Fifth street, beginning at the Deterly house.  There are three houses only, to Putnam, Deterly, Preston and Darrow, the latter named from a minister living there at the above date, and it still stands on the corner.  On the west corner of Putnam and Fifth stood and now stands, the beautiful residence and the grounds called the Mills property, reaching to the alley on Putnam and quite a distance up the other street.

This place was the envy of our grandmothers, and as it becomes more and more improved by present owners, the grandchildren gaze with admiration on all that has been done.  "Jack Mills" was a fun loving fellow and many are the pranks that the daughters of the pioneers have told us that he perpetrated in his younger days.  Later, he was the stately, sedate Colonel Mills who occupied this house, respected by all.  On the other side of Fifth stood the Henry Armstrong house.

Next Came "Mound Cemetery."  As you pass in the gates and up the walk at the present time, you are struck with the great number of slabs and monuments, which are in view in this small inclosure, but when we consider that the unmarked graves are greater in number than the marked, how densely populated it seems, neighbor crowding upon neighbor.  People generally feel that they are familiar with this city of the dead, yet how few know how many noted men and lovable women connected with Marietta's early history lie beneath this sod.

They made Marietta politically and financially and in church and college gave their brain work to this small community.  One is surprised, in examining their life records, to see what they accomplished.  One of these, Colonel Ebenezer Sproat, was six feet four, called by the Indians "Big Buckeye."  Some think this gave the name "Buckeye," to our State.  Others as Col. Ichabod Nye, Major Anselm Tupper, Gov. R. J. Meigs (who was also the first postmaster in Marietta), his father, R. J. Meigs, Sr., represented Washington county in the first Territorial Legislature, General Buell, Commodore Abraham Whipple, Nahum Ward, Joseph Holdren, Dr. Hildreth, Dr. John Cotton, Caleb Emerson, John Mills, Nathaniel Dodge and Oliver Cram.  Any of these should make the grounds as sacred to Marietta as Mt. Vernon to the United States.

It is wonderful how many ministers of the Gospel have their last resting place here.  Among them Rev. Daniel Story (the first pioneer minister), Samuel Robbins, Luther Bingham, Thomas Wickes, Greenbury Jones and Hiram Gear.

Colonels, Majors, Captains, Lieutenants and privates, volunteers in the Civil war, from Marietta homes, have their graves marked on Decoration Day to the proud satisfaction of our community.  Perhaps a hundred years from now this ground will be regarded with greater interest than now.  Ascending the forty-five steps to the summit of the "mound," one is led to inquire, "What is this on which I stand, an altar, a sepulchre, a fortress, a look out, or place of amusement?  What kind of tools and instruments were used in its construction?  What race of people and color lived here?  What is the age of this structure?"  These whats? might be asked all over Ohio, a good part of the United States and Mexico; surmises and conjectures are many, but we still remain in a mystery.

Opposite the cemetery stands the Cram house, now as then.

At the corner of Fifth and Scammel a few will remember, there stood a one-roomed house in the sand, occupied by different parties as the years went by, but at that time by "Old Mother Ellis," a very quaint character, who, when living on lower ground during the '32 flood, sought to pray down the high water while it was coming through her hearth and around her, insisting it would not touch her.  She would not move out of her chair and had to be carried out.  In this small house on the hill she died alone, her hymn book before her, her finger on a hymn, also a chapter marked in her bible, lying open, both of which were used at her funeral.

On the corner of fifth and Wooster stood an old brick house, built in primitive style, with an oven bulging out at the end, like many another in those days.  This has given place to the "Ranger Block."

Above Wooster, there now stands a house owned by Mrs. Kingsbury, which was a very odd looking house before being remodeled and quite commodious for the time.  A one story cottage came next on the same side.  On the other side of fifth the older house owned by Mrs. Berry has quite a little history.  Tradition said this building was made from parts of the "Blockhouse" or fort, which stood on Washington, from Front to Second.  Mr. G. M. Woodbridge, to satisfy himself whether this were true or not, a number of years ago, when the house was being re-roofed, climbed up in the attic to investigate, when behold! there were the port holes through the beams, where guns were used by the pioneers to ward off the Indians, in early times.  Services were held here by the Methodists, who had no church then and had a hard time to get a foothold in Marietta.  The house was stoned, the windows broken, boards put on the chimney, smoking out the worshippers.

This house has been occupied and owned by quite a number of persons.  Mrs. Bliss and daughters, Caroline and Mary, lived here at one time.  (Mary is Mrs. Dr. Parker, of West Marietta).  It was called the Stephens' property, the Grosvenor home and finally passing from one to another, Mrs. Berry is now the fortunate owner.  Next comes the Martin Sinclair house, now occupied by J. W. Sturgiss.  This ends the number of houses on Fifth street.

As you walked across Washington ahead of you might have been seen some ridges by the roadside, some small mounds and excavations, a part of the ancient works, all obliterated now, except the elevated square which is mutilated considerable on the west side of it.  It formerly had approaches on three sides and a large indenture on the fourth.  It had no trees upon it until latter years, unlike the "Mound" which had all over its sides oak and hickory, of very large growth, but have been mostly cut down.  Again we come to the pawpaw bushes and the woods and I bid you "good-night."


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