By Benjamin F. Palmer, Late of Barlow, Ohio
In giving this brief history of early life, we will state that the ancestor of our family, Walter Palmer, came from Nottinghamshire, England, to Charlestown, Mass., in 1629, and finally settled at Stonington, Ct., in 1653, where he died in 1661, and in the language of Moses, we will say, Walter begat Jonah, and Jonah, Samuel; and Samuel, Seth; and Seth, Joseph; and Joseph my father.
Joseph Palmer, born January 13th, 1761, at Scotland, Windham county, Ct., was the oldest member of a large family of children. At the commencement of the Revolution he volunteered and performed a tour of duty, being 16 years old at the time of his enlistment; he served out his time, and was discharged ten days before New London was burnt by the British. A short time after his return home a fever sore broke out on his leg, extending from his knee to his ankle, which rendered him a cripple for life.
At the age of twenty-one he went up to Poltny, Rutland county, Vt., and after some little acquaintance went into partnership with Elisha Hibbard, and engaged in merchandising, and was quite successful. In 1785 he returned to Windham, Ct., and married Miss Hannah Fox, February 7, 1785, and immediately returned to Poltny and commenced housekeeping.
Business prospered with them, and they were getting along so well that Mr. Hibbard, against father's consent, contracted to furnish a forge, owned by Hon. Matthew Lyon, with charcoal for one year, which proved disastrous to them. When the year was half up, Mr. Hibbard left between two days for father to get out the best way he could. He labored hard, and finally fulfilled the contract to the satisfaction of the firm, but it left him penniless and homeless. He then by hard labor and frugality secured a piece of land, and commenced farming. When he got business in shape so that he could begin to enjoy life, the house was burnt with all its contents, save one chest, which did not exceed in value five dollars. The house was soon rebuilt and the family once more had a home to protect them.
Their oldest child, Joseph, was born November 24, 1785, at Poltny; the second, Jabish Fox, August 31, 1788, at Poltny; the third, Benjamin Franklin, Nov. 10, 1791, at Poltny; the fourth Jerusha Perkins, August 12, 1795, at Poltny; the fifth, Isaac Lazel, January 11, 1797, at Poltny; the sixth, Ephram, August 4, 1799, at Poltny; the 7th, Betsey, February 4, 1803, at Brown's Mills, Ohio.
During John Adams' administration the alien and sedition act was passed, and Col. Matthew Lyon, the Representative from the Rutland county district, took a very active part against it, for which crime he was arrested by the administration and confined in prison at Virgeness, Vt., and was fined heavily. His friends were so indignant that they would have torn the prison down but for the solemn protest of Col. Lyon, that he would never leave the soil till he was legally discharged by the administration. After his trial his friends met at my father's to make arrangements to go and pay Col. Lyon's fine and bring him home, Mrs. Lyon being one of the party. It was fine sleighing at the time, and the friends of Col. Lyon made up a company of thirteen pair of Irish gray horses to represent the thirteen states, and drove down in procession to bring the Colonel home. The fine was a heavy one, and had to be paid in gold and silver. Mrs. Lyon carried the coin in her apron by the assistance of two of the party, and laid it down to the proper officer. After paying the fine, Mrs. Lyon very tantalizingly told the officers that they still had enough left to buy out their old town. Col. Lyon was immediately returned to Congress, which office he filled to the entire satisfaction of his constituency. Col. Lyon and family afterwards moved to Kentucky.
Some time near 1795 Mr. Hibbard returned and made father a visit, and promised him if he would come to Grand Isle to see him, he would do something for him. He made the visit, but received nothing. On his return home he told us that as soon as he could make satisfactory arrangements that he should remove to Ohio. Accordingly, in the spring of 1801, he sold his farm to Joseph and Ezra Smith. Joseph was the father of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons who built the temple at Nauvo, Ill.
The business was all settled up and we were ready to emigrate by the first of September. We started in company with Peter Howe, Esq. Prowty, Elijah and Thaddeus Pond, brothers - five families in all. We called and took dinner with Dr. Walker, who came on and settled at Amestown, Athens county, shortly after. After bidding them farewell, we joined the balance of the Company. Next morning, just over the state line in New York, our company consisted of thirty persons, sixteen horses, and five wagons. Uncle Peter Howe's family consisted of himself and wife and two children, Mrs. Prowty, Mrs. Howe's eldest daughter, eight daughters and two sons, the Pond brothers had two children each. Stephen Oatis came out with us; he was in the employ of Mr. Howe, driving one of his teams for him, and finally settled on the Muskingum river, near Lowell, this county. Our family consisted of father, mother, Joseph, Jabish, Franklin, Jerusha, Isaac and Ephram.
Our first day's drive brought us to Fort Ann. Our course was by way of a place called the Painted Post, and from that point to Pittsburgh, on the Ohio river. We left Fort Ann and arrived at Cuyahoga Lake without any mishaps. We crossed Cuyahoga Lake on a bridge that was over one mile in length - two years later this bridge was swept away. At this point Mr. Pond broke the axle to his wagon, and we stopped for repairs, which were soon made. The next point was Seneca Lake. From Seneca Lake we made a point on the Mohawk river and followed up that stream for some distance.
Our next point was Dike's Settlement. At Dike's Settlement my mother sent me to a cabin to get some milk. A young man there asked me by name and where we were from. I told him, and he happened to be an acquaintance of our family. His name was Olds. He came over and made us a visit, and immediately packed up his budget and came to Ohio with us. We met 2 other young men at this cabin, Elisha and Elijah Alderman, who afterwards came out and settled on Sharp's Fork of Federal Creek, Athens county. The lady that furnished us the milk was Mrs. Phillips, who came out at an early day and settled near Amesville, in Athens county. Between Seneca lake and Dike's Settlement we passed Saratoga Springs, and all hands must have a drink of the all healing waters.
From Dike's Settlement we made for King's Settlement, a distance of forty miles, through the wilderness. We had to cut our road through. Father wrote to Mr. King and he came with some hands and assisted usin getting through. Our first day in the woods was a very pleasant one, and we made some seven or eight miles. The second was also very pleasant, and we got along finely. On the evening of the second day everything was so lovely that Uncle Peter Howe decided we must have a dance. Elijah Pond was requested to get out his violin and make ready. The dance was commenced and kept up till a late hour of the night. When the clouds were noticed gathering up the dancers retired for the night. Shortly after the storm came and the rain poured down in torrents till morning. Here we had to take off our wagon covers to get under the brush.
From this time on to King's Settlement we had more or less rain. We crossed the Genesee river before coming to King's Settlement. The third evening we cut a tall dry pine which soon made us a bright light for quite a distance. As soon as our fire was burning brightly the wolves opened up their music which was kept up the entire night. The fourth day got along finely. On the evening of the fifth Mr. King, with help, met us, and by his assistance we got safely through to King's Settlement. At this place we put up with a man by the name of Smea, who was engaged in making canoes. (This station was on Oswego Creek, a tributary of the Allegheny river.) Father and the Pond brothers made two large canoes, which carried our two wagons, the goods and the three families. Mr. Howe and Esquire prowty built four canoes, which carried their wagons, families and all their goods. Our canoes were run single till we reached the Allegheny river, then they were lashed together two, two and two just far enough apart to let the end of the hub rest on the edge of the canoe.
Elijah Pond, Stephen Otis and my brother Joseph, 16 years old, Mr. Otis in his seventeenth year, with an Indian for a guide, who was recommended by Mr. King, took the horses across to Pittsburg. When we started down the Allegheny, the water was very low and there was no one of our company that had had any experience with boating, and we were put to a great deal of trouble to get our boats over the riffles. We came to a Quaker Missionary Station, and the women and children were permitted to sleep in the school house, which we regarded as a great favor. One of the Pond brothers had a sick child, that they had doctored for some time before they left Vermont and so far on this way, and they despaired ever saving it till they could get to Ohio.
At this station they asked the old Friend if they had a doctor. The old Friend replied, yes, a very good one, and he would have him call in the morning and see the child.
In the morning the old Indian and his squaw called and examined the child, untied a little bundle and took out a root three inches long and three-fourths in diameter, told Mrs. Pond to steep it and give to the babe, and it would relieve it. The doctor charged five dollars for it, but the old Friend told him that would not do, so he consented to take fifty cents. The medicine was given as directed. The child was relieved of an incredible amount of worms in a few hours, and it soon became a healthy, robust child.
After leaving the missionary station, we came to an old Indian by the name of Corn Planter. He had considerable improvement and a very good house. We next came to an Indian village. We landed and built a fire, and prepared our dinner. After dinner we boarded our boats and started out. Father remarked that we were too close together and if we should get in a riffle we would have trouble. No sooner said than done. Our canoes grounded and the end of Uncle Peter's ran in between ours and separated them and left most of our goods, women and children in the river. The water was from two to three feet deep. But very fortunately we were all gathered up safely, the most of them on the point of an island a short distance below, while the balance made the main shore. (No evil resulted from this mishap save a good ducking, and what time it took to gather up our goods.) There were six children under four years old. Every old lady caught a child as they were floating. My sister, Jerusha, was the only one that came near being drowned. It was some time before she recovered. Jabish caught brother Isaac in his arms and managed to catch a piece of a canoe and climb on it and floated down and stranded on a rock in the middle of the river. Father and Mr. Pond managed to get to them and brought them safely to shore.
One canoe was ruined, the other we managed to repair, and a short distance below we bought a good canoe of Mr. Galin, and hired him to pilot us down to Pittsburg. We were detained two or three days by this mishap. Mr. Pond had twenty dollars tied up in a awahite cloth, which was lost, and we had given up finding it. After we had started, Mr. Galin said it would not do to leave it, he would go back once more and look for it. He got a canoe of the Indians, and in company with Mr. Pond, Esq. Prowty, and father, they rowed out into the river just below where we were shipwrecked and the first thing they found was the lost money. They soon returned, greatly elated with their success and we boarded our boats once more for Pittsburg.
Arriving at Fort Franklin, our supplies were nearly exhausted, but we could get but very little here. Several times Mr. Galin landed and put the women and children on shore in passing dangerous places. They told us when we got to Parker's Mills we could get provisions. It was on a stream that emptied into the Allegheny. When we got to Parker's Mills we got a good supply of flour and they butchered a beef for us and we had plenty to last us till we got to Pittsburg. Here was Parker's falls, which was quite dangerous, but Mr. Galin managed to get our boats all safely over. We all started once more on our way.
We had not gone far till we saw a boat coming up the river, and it proved to be a company of soldiers going up to Fort Franklin. They had the old flag floating at masthead. Uncle Peter's girls did not intend to be outdone. They soon had all their handkerchiefs floating in the breeze. The soldiers was playing Yankee Doodle as they passed us. Father had an old French musket in the bow of his canoe that was heavily loaded, and he reached down and fired it off. The soldiers gave us three cheers and the captain said there was a man for the times.
We were very fortunate from this time on till we landed in Pittsburg, where we met the balance of our company, that had gone on with the horses, awaiting us. Elijah Pond, Stephen Oatis, and brother Jabish, brought the horses overland from Pittsburg to Marietta. From Pittsburg we had no misfortunes with our boats and landed safely at Marietta on thee 12th day of November, 1801. The parties with the horses was equally as fortunate and came on and joined us in two or three days after our arrival with the boats. The canoe father bought of Mr. Galin for twenty dollars, he sold to William Skinner for eighteen. The other was so injured in our shipwreck, that we did not get but three or four dollars for it.
Father got a house of Dudley Woodbridge that stood near the mouth of Duck Creek where we lived till father could get a house. He came up to the old Wolf Creek mills and found a house near the mills, but a few rods from where Moses Malster now lives. Father then went out to Amesville to see Ephraim Cutler, and here he found uncle Jason Rice. Father and Mr. Rice bought one half section of land of Mr. Cutler, the lot that father settled on and the one south of it, that was afterwards owned by the Corner family.
Father came back to Marietta and we soon packed up and started for the Wolf Creek Mills. The first day we drove to Col. Deming's, the next brought us safely to the Mills. We found our house in rather a hard shape. A flock of sheep had made it their headquarters a part of the summer. Mother, like most good housewives under such circumstances, expressed herself. Father told her the house would soon be all right. He turned the plank over, which gave it a better appearance. We soon got our house arranged and were living at home once more. At the time we came here Col. John Sharp and Josiah Hart were rebuilding the Mills. Uncle Samuel Brown was an apprentice under Col. Sharp, learning to be a millwright.
Major Haphel [Haffield] White, Robert Oliver, and Mr. Dodge at the same time, owned a saw mill, on South Branch, near where Moses Malster now lives. The mills built by Col. Sharp and Hart, were swept away in the spring of 1813 or 14. Father sold one horse, and we got Mr. White's crop of wheat to thresh for every tenth bushel, which was a great help to us in getting through the winter.
We were all blessed with good health and early in the spring we moved to our new possession. Elisha Maloy had built a cabin, 10 by 12 ft., he lived in while making tar. Father, Joseph and Jabish, lived in the Malboy cabin, while building our house which they had ready for us to move in by the middle of March, 1802. Mr. Rice moved in with us, while building his house. We cut and burnt over 7 or 8 acres of land and planted to corn without plowing or furrowing; part of it was harrowed with a wooden tooth harrow; it was tended altogether with hoes. We had a good crop of corn and potatoes. Father set out 20 apple trees that grew finely. The second field we cleared extended from the house where A. F. Breckenridge now lives, up to the South line, and extended west far enough to contain 15 acres. This lost was sowed to wheat and harrowed in, one half the first of October, and the balance, the first of November 1802, (it was not plowed) we had a fine crop of wheat and we now thought that we could take care of ourselves.
In the spring of 1803 uncle John Danly bought and moved in, and joined our settlement. In the fall of 1803, Cornelius Gard bought out Mr. Rice; Mr. Rice going back to Amesville where he lived, and died. John and William Corns moved in in 1806. Henry Corns, their father, bought out Mr. Gard but did not move in till 1807; John and William Corns tended the farm in 1806. Timothy and David Gard, sons of Cornelius. Timothy moved up to Licking County and David bought 80 acres of Mr. Danly, and settled with us. John Corns bought the half of two lots, Atkinson getting the other half in 1810. William Corns commenced on the lot now owned by John Breckinridge (at present the homestead of Robert Breckenridge) and died there, he and his wife. Atkinson moved in in 1813. In the fall of 1802, Joseph Wood came to our house and staid all night. He was taking the census of the Territory, to see if we did not have population enough to be admitted as a state. Timothy Hiatt moved into the settlement in the spring of 1815, and commenced building a mill on Wolf creek. The winter following he sold out his mill to Samuel Brown, who finished it, a very good saw and grist mill.
The first school we had in the settlement was taught by Russell Darrow. He commenced in the fall of 1804. The school consisted of our family and Benjamin Danly. (He died when about 21; he was the second person buried in the Gard cemetery.) Russell Darrow was a nephew of Jason Rice; he married a daughter of Mr. Eavelling, that lived in the Proctor settlement in Watertown, and moved up to Bald Eagle, where he died a short time after. The second term was taught by Brother Jabish. Cannot give the exact date. The third term was taught by James Ashcroft, who commenced in the fall of 1809. John Treat Deming taught the fourth school, a term of four months, commencing in the fall of 1811. He gave good satisfaction to all concerned.
When we settled here, Waterford extended over all this section. Roxbury Township was set off in 1805, and not long after, Wooster, now known by the name of Watertown. Brother Joseph was married in the fall of 1808.
The famous pigeon roost covered 100 acres or more and was confined mostly between the head waters of Danly's Run and the old Lancaster road. Large timber was bent to the ground in many places.
Father caught large numbers of them in a net. They were made of different sizes covering from one to two hundred square feet. Father would select a smooth piece of ground, sufficiently large and clear every thing off smooth and clean. The net was set in an upright position on one side, with a cord extending to a cover, where he placed me to spring it. Father set a stake at the center of ground, that the net would cover, with a pulley attached. He had a stool pigeon for a decoy. Its eyelids were closed with a fine silk thread to bind it. A small cord was tied to its legs passed through the pulley and then to a place where he was secreted. He would slacken the cord and let the pigeon rise some five or six feet, then he would draw it down slowly. Its fluttering as it rose and settled would soon attract the attention of the pigeons. He covered the ground with wheat, and it would be but a short time until the decoy would have a large number with it picking up the wheat; when a sufficient number had settled I would spring the net and then we would have lively times until we got our birds bagged. The pigeons proved a great help to us, as their flesh was very good and the feathers answered for filling our pillows and bedticks.
August 1st, 1813, under a call of the Governor, Return J. Meigs, for volunteers, brother Jabish and I volunteered, joined a company of mounted militia, Timothy Buell, captain, and belonged to the 1st Regiment, 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, Ohio Militia. We found our own horses and arms. Jabish had a very fine rifle which he carried. Our gun was a French musket that had been through the old French War, also the Revolutionary War. The man that carried it through the Revolution, brought it home with him to Poltney, Vermont, and father bought it of him and brought it out with us to Ohio. We left home August 3rd and were in active service until the close of the war, when we were discharged, September 7th, being out thirty-eight days.
During the summer of 1815 we assisted Samuel Brown in getting out the timber, and building the mill for Timothy Hiatt, which he soon after bought, and it has borne the name of "Brown's Mills." At the raising of this mill, we had the basement story up and were putting up the second, when a heavy stick of timber slipped and knocked my brother Jabish over backwards, into the creek; he fell nearly twenty feet and the stick of timber on top of him. The hands removed the stick as quick as possible, expecting to find him dead, but fortunately he was not seriously injured. A block that had been sawed off of one of the mud sills was so heavy that it sank. Jabish fell close to it and the stick of timber happened to fall on the block, which saved his life. In the summer of 1816, we bought a lot in Barlow, built a cabin and kept bachelor's hall (Aunt Sally Pugh living on an adjoining lot, baked my bread for me) until the fall of 1817. November 28th I was married to Miss Margaret Houghland, of Barlow, and immediately moved into my cabin, and commenced to keeping house, where I have lived ever since. I have been out of the county but twice. Once I had some business that called me to Parkersburg, W. Va., and once to visit some old friends in Athens county.