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hesitation, and with as much alacrity, as though they were all members of the same family, and bound together by ties of blood. One man's interest was every other man's interest also. Now this general state of feeling among the pioneers was by no means peculiar to this country, although it was strongly illustrated here. It prevailed generally throughout the West during the time of the early settlement. The very nature of things taught the settlers the necessity of dwelling together in this spirit. It was their only protection. They had come far away from the well-established reign of law and entered a new country where the civil authority was still feeble, and totally unable to afford protection and redress grievances. Here in Marion county the settlers lived for quite a time before there was a single officer of the law in the county. Each man's protection was in the goodwill and friendship of those about him, and the thing any man might well dread was the ill-will of the community. It was more terrible than the law. It was no common thing in the early times for hardened men, who had no fears of jails or penitentiaries, to stand in great fear of the indignation of a pioneer community. Such were some of the characteristics of the early settlers of Marion county.
HOUSES AND HOME COMFORTS.
The first buildings in the county were not just like the log cabins that immediately succeeded them. These latter required some help and a good deal of labor to build. The very first buildings constructed were a cross between hoop cabins " and Indian bark huts. As soon as enough men could be got together for a "cabin raising" then log cabins were in style. Many a pioneer can remember the happiest time of his life as that when he lived in one of these homely but comfortable and profitable old cabins.
A window with sash and glass was a rarity, and was an evidence of wealth and aristocracy which but few could support. They were often made with greased paper put over the window, which admitted a little light, but more often there was nothing whatever over it, or the cracks between the logs, without either chinking or daubing, was the dependence for light and air.
The doors were fastened with old-fashioned wooden latches, and for a friend or neighbor or traveler the string always hung out, for the pioneers of the West were hospitable, and entertained visitors to the best of their ability.
It is noticeable with what affection the pioneers speak of their old log cabins. It may be doubted whether palaces ever sheltered happier hearts than those homely cabins. The following is a good description of these old land-marks, but few of which now remain:
"These were of round logs notched together at the corners, ribbed with poles and covered with boards split from a tree. A puncheon floor was then laid down, a hole cut in the end and a stick chimney run up. A clapboard door was made, a window opened by cutting out a hole in the side or end about two feet square, and finished without glass or transparency. The house was then 'chinked' and 'daubed' with mud made of the top Boil.
"The cabin was now ready to go into. The household and kitchen furniture adjusted, and life on the frontier begun in earnest.
"The one-legged bedstead, now a piece of furniture of the past, was made by cutting a stick the proper length, boring holes at one end one and a half inches in diameter, at right angles, and the same-sized holes corresponding with these in the logs of the cabin the length and breadth desired for the bed, in which were inserted poles.
"Upon these poles clapboards were laid, or lind bark interwoven consecutively from pole to pole. Upon this primitive structure the bed was laid. The convenience of a cook-stove was not thought of then, but instead the cooking was done by the faithful housewife in pots, kettles and skillets, on and about the big fire-place, and very frequently over and around, too, the distended pedal extremeties of the legal sovereigns of the household, who were indulging in the luxuries of a cob-pipe, and discussing the probable results of a contemplated elk-hunt up and about Walled Lake." These log cabins were really not so bad, after all.
The people of to-day, familiarized with " Charter Oak cooking-stoves" and ranges, would be ill at home were they compelled to prepare a meal with no other conveniences than those provided in a pioneer cabin. Rude fire-places were built in chimneys composed of mud and sticks, or at best, of undressed stone. These fire-places served for heating and cooking purposes; also for ventilation. Around the cheerful blaze of this fire the meal was prepared, and these meals were not so bad either. As elsewhere remarked they were not such as would tempt the epicure, but such as afforded the most healthy nourishment for a race of people who were driven to the exposure and hardships which were their lot; we hear of few dyspeptics in those days. Another advantage of these cooking arrangements was that the stove pipe never fell down and the pioneer was spared being subjected to the most trying of ordeals, and one probably more productive of profanity than any other.
Before the country became supplied with mills which were of easy access, and even in some instances afterward, hominy-blocks were used. These exist now only in the memory of the oldest settlers, but as relics of the "long ago" a description of them will not be uninteresting:
A tree of suitable size, say from eighteen inches to two feet in diameter, was selected in the forest and felled to the ground. If a cross-cut saw happened to be convenient, the tree was "butted"- that is, the kerf end was sawed off so that it would stand steady when ready for use. If there were
no cross-cut saw in the neighborhood, strong arms and sharp axes were ready to do the work. Then the proper length, from four to five feet, was measured off, and sawed or cut square. When this was done the block was raised on end, and the work of cutting out a hollow in one of the ends was commenced. This was generally done with a common chopping axe. Sometimes a smaller one was used. When the cavity was judged to be large enough, a fire was lighted in it and carefully watched till the ragged edges were burned away. When completed the hominy-block somewhat resembled a druggist's mortar. Then a pestle or something to crush the corn was necessary. This was usually made from a suitably sized piece of timber with an iron wedge attached, the large end down. This completed the machinery, and the block was ready for use. Sometimes one hominyblock accommodated an entire neighborhood, and was the means of staying the hunger of many mouths.
During the first two or three years after the first settlements were made
the wheat crop was never good, smnt and rust being the chief cause of the failure. After the harvest, what there was of it, had been gathered, the question was how shall it be threshed and cleaned, as there were no threshing-machines or wind-mills in the country. The following plan was usually adopted: A portion of ground near the house was cleared of all rubbish, and this answered for a threshing-floor, where the sheaves were placed and the grain was tramped out with horses or oxen. When the grain was tramped out the straw was raked off. The wheat was then separated from the chaff by throwing it up in the air and permitting the wind to blow the chaff away. If there was no wind going a fan was extemporized and a blast of wind made by artificial means. This was the good old Bible plan, and the settlers deserve no credit for inventing it. In resorting to this mode of threshing and cleaning wheat it frequently happened that a large quantity of black soil became mixed with the wheat and this unavoidably went into the composition of the bread together with the grain and the smut, as the mills were few in number and not provided with the modern appliances for cleansing the grain, such as smut-machines, etc. Loaves made from such flour were often so black as to resemble mud cakes made from the rich soil of the prairie, more than bread. Upon such diet those who pioneered their way to the home of the Sacs and Foxes were compelled to subsist, and it cannot be doubted that they received more than the usual peck of dirt which is currently reported to be the average allowance of each simple son of Adam.
In giving the bill of fare above we should have added meat, for of this they had plenty. Deer would be seen daily trooping over the prairie in droves of from twelve to twenty, and sometimes as many as fifty would be seen grazing together. Elk were also found, and wild turkeys and prairie chickens without number. Bears were not unknown. Music of the natural order was not wanting, and every night the pioneers were lulled to rest by the screeching of panthers and the howling of wolves. When the dogs ventured too far out from the cabins at night they would be driven back by the wolves chasing them up to the very cabin doors. Trapping wolves became quite a profitable business after the State began to pay a bounty for wolf scalps.
All the streams of water also abounded in fish, and a good supply of the very best could be procured by the expense of a little time and labor. Those who years ago improved the fishing advantages of the county never tire telling of the dainty meals which the streams afforded. Sometimes large parties would get together, and, having been provided with cooking utensils and facilities for camping out, would go off some distance and spend weeks together. No danger then of being ordered off a man's premises or arrested for trespass.
One of the peculiar circumstances that surrounded the early life of the pioneers was a strange loneliness. The solitude seemed almost to oppress thein. Months would pass during which they would see scarcely a human face outside their own families. The isolation of these early days worked upon some of the settlers au effect that has never passed away. Some of them say that they lived in such a lonely way when they first came here that afterward, when the county began to fill up, they always found themselves bashful and constrained in the presence of strangers. But when the people were once started in this way the long pent-up feelings of joviality and sociability fairly boiled over, and their meetings frequently became
enthusiastic and jovial in the highest degree. It seems singular to note bashfulness as one of the characteristics of the strong, stalwart settlere, but we are assured by the old settlers themslves that this was a prominent characteristic of the pioneers. And some of them declare that this feeling became so strong during the early years of isolation and loneliness that they have never since been able to shake it off.
But there were certainly some occasions when the settlers were not in the least degree affected by anything in the nature of bashfulness. When their rights were threatened or invaded they had "muscles of iron and hearts of flint." It was only when brought together for merely social purposes that they seemed ill at ease. If any emergency arose, or any business was to be attended to, they were always equal to the occasion.
On occasions of special interest, such as elections, holiday celebrations or camp-meetings, it was nothing unusual for a few settlers who lived in the immediate neighborhood of the meeting to entertain scores of those who had come from a distance.
Rough and rude though the surroundings may have been, the pioneers were none the less honest, sincere, hospitable and kind in their relations. It is true as a rule, and of universal application, that there is a greater degree of real humanity among the pioneers of any country than there is when the country becomes older and richer. If there is an absence of refinement that absence is more than compensated in the presence of generous hearts and truthful lives. They are bold, courageous, industrious, enterprising and energetic. Generally speaking, they are earnest thinkers and possessed of a diversified fund of useful, practical information. As a rule they do not arrive at a conclusion by means of a course of rational reasoning, but nevertheless have a queer way of getting at the facts. They hate cowards and shams of every kind, and above all things falsehood and deception, and cultivate an integrity which seldom permits them to prostitute themselves to a narrow policy of imposture.
Such were the characteristics of the men and women who pioneered the way to the country of the Sac and Fox Indians. Many of them yet remain and, although as a general thing they are among the wealthiest and most substantial of the people of the county, they have not forgotten their oldtime hospitality and free and easy ways. In contrasting the present social affairs with pioneer times, one has well-said:
"Then, if a house was to be raised every man "turned out," and often the women too, and while the men piled up the logs that fashioned the primitive dwelling-place the women prepared the dinner. Sometimes it was cooked by big log fires near the site where the cabin was building; in other cases it was prepared at the nearest cabin, and at the proper hour was carried to where the men were at work. If one man in the neighborhood killed a beef, a pig, or a deer, every other family in the neighborhood was sure to receive a piece. We were all on an equality. Aristocratic feelings were unknown and would not have been tolerated. What one had we all had, and that was the happiest period of my life. But to-day, if you lean against a neighbor's shade-tree he will charge you for it. If you are poor and fall sick you may lie and suffer almost unnoticed and unattended, and probably go the poor-house; and just and just as like as not the man who would report you to the authorities as a subject of county care would charge the county for making the report.'
Of the old settlers some are still living in the county, in the enjoyment