HISTORY OF THE PAN-HANDLE; BEING HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS OF THE COUNTIES OF OHIO, BROOKE, MARSHALL AND HANCOCK WEST VIRGINIA
COMPILED AND WRITTEN BY
J. H. NEWTON, G. G. NICHOLS AND A. G. SPRANKLE EDITED BY J. H. NEWTON WHEELING, W. VA.
PUBLISHED BY J. A. CALDWELL.
CHAPTER LVI HISTORY OF HANCOCK COUNTY EARLY HISTORY
PIONEERS AND THEIR SETTLEMENTS
The land lying along the Ohio in this immediate section of the Pan-Handle was not settled upon quite as early as the middle and southern portions. There were, however, but a few intervening years. Soon after the people began to settle about Wellsburg, Wheeling and Grave Creek, emigration commenced here.
The introduction of settlements was made in the year 17--, and from that time on for many years it continued until all the land was taken up. People came from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and other parts. They were not confined to any nationality, but among them were found English, Irish, Scotch, Germans and others.
It is hardly important here to mention the fact of the early condition of the land, covered with its dense timbers, and the home and habitation of the Indian, ravenous beasts and poisonous reptiles, for this is recounted in other portions of the history.
But when the woodman’s ax was heard echoing and re-echoing through the wild retreats and desolate caverns of the immense forests, and the sound of the hunter’s rifle, as it fell on the game that so plentifully abounded in the valleys and on the hills, it only incensed the more the barbarous inhabitant thereof.
The Indian became at once so inured to the settlers that they (the whites) were unable to make them believe they would treat them kindly were they willing to be kind to them. His suspicion bars him against any favorable conclusion.
By gradation the light of civilization shed its refulgent rays westward driving the Indian by its brilliancy into the darker recesses of the forests. He at first thought he might chase or kill the pale face as they undertook to settle upon his hunting ground and home. Whilst he committed many crimes upon the early people he was finally obliged to recede from these lands, and did although very reluctantly. His indignation was doubly aroused and his thoughts were evilly disposed toward what he considered his intruder.
Under these circumstances the pioneers were in great danger continually. The Indian laid in wait for him; prowled about his home at night; watching for an opportunity when he could seize upon them without incurring any mishap to himself. For some time after the first settlements the pioneers were often greatly annoyed by these treacherous fellows.
It became necessary for them, whether at home or in the clearing, to have in readiness their gun, for they could not tell at what moment the Indian would make his appearance. He sulked about, and did many things to decoy the settler. Sometimes he has been known to drop valuable trinkets upon the ground that the paleface might pause to pick up, and while thus engaged in the act, fire upon him and, if possible, secure his scalp.
Every period of this seems to produce its men for such things that come to pass. They are fitted for the certain duties set before them. And like the pioneer acquit themselves nobly. The present generation are very unlike those of their forefathers. A pioneer life is the last life they would choose, nor is it necessary even that they should. But the contrast is so observable. Yet, again, on the other hand, what has been the change—the advancement from that period to this? Would they be prepared to cope with the present improvements? Most certainly not.
Owing to the perilous condition in which the frontiersmen were exposed buildings were often erected that they might protect themselves from the invasion of their foe. Many private residences were built in the shape of block houses. There was one built on the farm of Alfred Chapman by is grandfather, besides others and more substantial ones were built by the government for the protection of the whites against the raids of the Indians. These were sought by them for refuge during the night.
One of these forts stood on the bank of the Ohio river, a short distance below Hamilton town, and another one was built above where the same village is now situated. The ground upon which the lower block house stood has been used for a graveyard many years, and quite a number of persons are buried there. Above the resting place of Nicholas Dawson, who was buried there in the year 1795, there has grown a white oak tree nearly three feet in circumference.
An effort has been made to obtain, as accurately as possible, a list of the first settlers in what is now Hancock county. The early heroes herewith appended are given from tradition by a few of the older people yet living in the different districts of the county, and it is thought by them to be nearly correct in most every given date:
John Eaton settled on King’s creek in the yare 1792.
John Cameron settled on the north fork of King’s creek in 1794.
A Mr. Butler settled near King’s creek in 1790.
Oliver Brown settled in the Cove in the year 1790, and was driven out by the Indians .
John Harden settled on Harden’s run in about 1797.
John Wiley settled in 1795.
James Campbell settled on King’s creek, three miles from its mouth in 1797.
Alexander Morrow settled in what is now known as Butler district in 1798.
Robert Campbell settled not far from the mouth of King’s creek in 1797.
Joseph Ralston settled in Butler district in 1788.
William Ledlie settled in the county in 1784 and his conveyance of land was from Patrick Henry, governor of Virginia.
William Hamilton settled in 1795 and laid out Hamilton town.
Samuel Baxter settled in now Grant district in 1798.
John Neslerode settled about 1795.
Jacob Nessly, near Tomlinson’s run in 1785.
John Spivy settled on the farm now owned by his son, Nichols Spivy, in about 1794, and about the same time came the Cochrans, Jesse Ellis, Thomas Philson, John Gratehouse, Robert Grafton, the Hamiltons, William Ryon, The Pattersons, who built the first grist mill in the county.
And in 1800, or near that time, George Baxter, old Mr. Corey and George Wilhelm migrated to the country.
Alexander Scott settled on the farm now owned by J. C. Scott in 1802.
W. W. Evans settled on the farm now owned by Jeremiah C. Evans.
McCoys’ settled in 1804 near New Cumberland.
William Hutson settled near Hamilton town in 1808.
William Chapman settled near New Cumberland in 1785.
Samuel Williams settled in Holiday’s Cove in 1800.
William Murry settled where Murry’s mill now stands in 1818.
William Mercer settled in what is now Grant district in 1823.
Robert Glass settled in 1813, on mile east of Fairview.
John Huff settled on the farm now owned by is son, Wm Huff, in 1802
Hosea Geer settled in 1808.
John Gallagher settled in 1801.
James Allison settled in 1780.
R. Rodgers settled in 1819.
Samuel E. Marks settled on the farm now owned by Alfred B. Marks in the year 1827.
George Chapman settled on the farm now owned by his son, Alfred, in 1782.
Samuel Carson settled on King’s creek, in 1797.
Hugh Pugh settled on a four hundred acre tract where Fairview is situated, in 1800.
James Allison settled on the farm now owned by Jonathan Allison, the grandson of James, on the road leading from Fairview to East Liverpool, in about 1800.
Samuel Allison settled on the Wellsburg road, in about 1800.
John Johnson settled on the north branch of Tomlinson’s run, in 1802. At this time there were a number of settlers located here.
James Danlins settled in 1800.
Samuel Caruthers settled on the head-waters of Tomlinson’s run, in 1800, and there erected among the first still-houses in what is now Hancock county. David Pugh also had a small still-house the same run, from 1804 to 1812.
J. Bailey settled on the north branch of Tomlinson’s run, in 1800.
Mr. --. Pittenger located here in 1798, settling on the road from Fairview to East Liverpool.
James Goddard and Jacob Neicewanger settled near Fairview, in 1800.
W. Rodgers settled in 1795.
Tomas Bailey, John A. Johnson, John Lowe, David Work and Richard Fowler were early settlers, whose dates of settlement are unknown.
Christian Braneman settled in 1806.
W. Hewitt settled in 1801.
Samuel Banting settled in 1828.
Wm. Langfitt settled in 1812.
John Crawford settled on the farm now owned by W. L. Crawford, in 1819.
Andrew Young settled in 1809.
Peter Tarr settled in about 1798. He was a partner in the Old Brooke Furnace, located on King’s creek. William Griffith settled in the cove on the farm now owned by Benjamin Griffith, in about 1782. He built a stone house in 1793, which is occupied as a dwelling. He kept government ammunition in the building for the use of the settlers.
Col. George Stewart settled in 1790, on the farm now owned by Franklin Stewart.
Roland Rogers settled in 1819.
John Edie, a soldier of the War of 1776, settled in now Butler district, in about 1792 or 1793. he was engaged in making nearly all the surveys for the government that were made in this section of the country for a number of years.
Abraham Croxon settled on the farm now owned by Alexander Edie, sr., in about 1779 or 1780.
A Mr. Holliday settled, in about 1776, in what is now known as Holliday’s Cove.
Samuel and Joseph Ralston, with their father Joseph Ralston, sr., settled on King’s creek, near where the old Ralston mill stands, in about 1783 or 1784.
In 1775, Philip Bell patented 1.000 acres, including a part of the Cove, and extending back to King’s creek. The land is now owned by thirteen different parties.
William Logan settled on King’s creek in about 1785.
William Brice settled in Hancock in 1818.
Jacob Nessly settled on Tomlinson’s run in 1785, and owned all the land along the Ohio river for a mile back, and extending as far up as opposite Wellsville, a distance of five miles. His first improvement was on the farm now owned by Jacob N. Brown. The fight between Andy Poe and Big Foot was on Nessly’s land at the mouth of Tomlinson’s run. Nessly built a block house on his land for protection against the Indians. The government’s block house was built on his grounds, which was used as headquarters for the guards and spies who were engaged in watching the movements of the Indians. Isaac Mills, James Downing and George Folks, the latter of whom was captured and held captive by the Indians for a number of years and then made his escape, and with the above named two persons acted as spies. When Mr. Nessly made his settlement on the said tract, he improved it as fast as possible, at different places along the river, and planted orchards. A number of the fruit trees then planted by him, bear fruit nearly every season. He erected a distillery on his property in about the year 1803. The stone building used for his malthouse is still standing.
Jacob J. Tope settled in Holliday’s Cove in 1818.
William Ledlie purchased a tract of land containing 719 acres from Abraham Edie, in 1784. Said tract is now owned by three different parties, namely James M. Crawford, William S. Crawford and Thomas Anderson. It is located on King’s creek. The creek derived its name from one King who was the first settler on said stream. It was formerly known and called Indian creek, when in Youghiogheny county.
POE AND BIG FOOT
The famous fight between Andrew Poe, and his brother Adam, and the Indian known as “Big Foot, “ familiar to every school boy throughout the land, occurred at the mouth of Tomlinson’s run, in Hancock County. It will be found fully described in the chapter on “Events and Noted Characters of the Border Warfare.”
WILLIAM RODGERS KILLED BY INDIANS
Along in the year 1795, a man by the name of William Rodgers, settled in what is now known as Grant District, Hancock county, on the land at present in the possession of a Mr. Allison.
He had erected a small cabin in the woods, and was endeavoring to clear enough land about him to raise a few articles for food, as were also those of his neighbors who had located some little distance from him. He owned several cows that were permitted to graze upon the grass that might be found through the dense forests. Often these cattle strayed off so far that they could not or did not come home when they were needed. It was no uncommon occurrence, and frequently Mr. Rodgers was obliged to search for them through the woods until night overtook him, and sometimes returned to his home without the cows, but he had never met with any accidents or molestations. He had time and again seen the Indians prowling around the neighborhood, but he and his family gave them little concern. He had occupied his premises nearly a year, during which time he lived undisturbed. Indians occasionally stopped to beg something to eat, but never manifested the least hostility towards them. Although mean and dastardly tricks were being done to many of the settlers in other localities by the Indians of various tribes, his house and family, and even the immediate community had passed along, undisturbed. But the sneaking, thieving, lazy and unprincipled red skins were only decoying him. They were wanting him to feel secure, that they might have the better opportunity to obtain his scalp. Rodgers, however, was not at all cowardly, in fact that was an unknown principle in the pioneers of that day, but his bravery in this instance was rather derogatory to himself, for had he been a little cowardly he evidently would have taken the precaution to turn his footsteps homeward when the luminary of day declined behind the western slopes, instead of roaming around through the dense timbers, in search of his cows, as was his practice.
One evening in the fall of 1796, the cows failed to put in an appearance and it was growing late. He being somewhat fearful of their return, started in pursuit of them. Whilst searching through the woods, least expecting to be attacked by Indians, as it is supposed, he was discovered by them, who were just out on a stealing and massacreing expedition. He was shot, scalped and his body left lying in a terribly mutilated condition. He not returning that night as soon as was expected by is family, they were suspicious and considerably alarmed, feeling that something dreadful had taken place. As soon as possible (the neighbors being apprised of his disappearance), an effort to ascertain his whereabouts was made, and after a short search along an Indian trail, the body was found scalped and otherwise mutilated. Near the place where he met with his death, the neighbors interred the remains. The Indians who perpetrated the deed went undiscovered, and were presumed to have crossed the Ohio at the mouth of Yellow creek, they being tracked to that point. It is supposed that the object in crossing at this time was to steal and plunder from the sparsely settled whites and return over the river with their spoils. This was no uncommon trick for the red skins to play upon the first settlers of the country. No doubt other stories similar to this one could be related by those who witnessed and experienced the hard and dangerous times of pioneer life, were they still living.
The above is given nearly as the author has received it from some of the older citizens of the county, who vouch for its authenticity.
THE MURDER OF THOMAS CAMPBELL AND CHILD BY THE INDIANS
When the Indians were driven back across the Ohio river by the rapid emigration of the whites, it made them still more savage toward their pale-faced foe. The red man would cross the river, at convenient points along its meanderings into sparsely settled localities, bent upon the intent of stealing and scalping the men, women and children that were unprotected.
In the spring of 1782 a man by the mane of Thomas Campbell, who resided in a long cabin on the bank of King’s creek, near where Ralston’s grist mill now stands, one day, during sugar-making season, returned from a small camp he had over the brow of a hill with a vessel containing the syrup, and being considerably fatigued from performing the labor attending saccharine camps, concluded that he would take charge of the child whilst his wife might go and bring to the house a remaining vessel of molasses. She had not gone far from the cabin, however, merely reaching the top of the hiss, when she heard Indians in the direction of her home. As she turned to look back an Indian, noticed her from the foot of the hill, fired a shot at her which, luckily, unharmed her. Observing the perilous situation she and her family were in, she ran with all speed to the nearest neighbors, the farm now owned by James Gardner, to inform them of the presence of Indians and the expected murder of her husband and child. A posse of men proceeded at once in the direction of the log cabin, but before they could possibly have reached the place the murder and thieving had been committed by the red-skins. The neighbors, upon reaching the spot, found the man lying dead within the doorway and the child, from appearances, had been caught by the heels and its brains knocked out against the side of the log cabin. Mr. Campbell had evidently reached for his gun, for it lay where he fell. He and the child were both scalped. The Indians were pursued, but were not overtaken. Their foul deed was perpetrated in this instance without retribution.
WILLIAM LANGFITT’S NARROW ESCAPE.
In the year 1785 or 1790, a respectable gentleman by the name of William Langfitt, settled near where Hookstown, Pa., is now situated, and erected a cabin and cleared a small portion of ground for the purpose of raising corn. He remained there but a short time, owing to the rumored hostilities of the Indians and their inhuman actions upon the settlers in or near that neighborhood. As he felt somewhat insecure, he concluded to remove his wife to her folks (Mr. Campbell) on King’s creek, near the river. After having raised a small crop of corn and safely stowing it away, then arranged their household, taking with them such articles as were most valuable and started for his wife’s people to remain during the winter. Their destination was reached in safety. Early the next spring Mr. Langfitt concluded to go back and get his corn, of which there still remained four sacks full. In company with a Mr. John Garren, he setout on horseback on his journey for his home in the woods. In due season the place was found and the corn discovered undisturbed. The horses were each loaded with two sacks of corn a piece and then their heads turned homeward by their drivers. They had not proceeded far, however, having reached the land now owned by Swearingen, when a number of shots were fired at them. They were riding along in single file, and Mr. Langfitt was considerably in advance of Garren. Some Indians had concealed themselves near the foot path, and when they had gone a short distance past them, raised up and all took dead aim at the two whites and fired upon them. Three bullets passed through the lobe of Mr. Langfitt’s left lung, and one of the bullets struck his left arm, breaking it, after having passed through his body. All three struck a small hickory tree near by, and so close were the bullet holes that they could be covered with one hand.
Mr. Langfitt heard the screams of his companion, but was fainting way so rapidly that he merely had presence of mind enough to lay close to his horse’s mane as it sped through the narrow road. He was discovered and picked up near the old fort not far from Frankfort Springs, about four miles from where he was shot. His horse carried him there. When found he was still clinging to his faithful animal. He lay there for a number of months, but finally recovered entirely from his wounds and died at the age of ninety-six years. His companion was never heard from after that. A number of years later, when the land there was cleared, a gun barrel was found, which was thought by some as being his.
THE FURNACE OF THE LAST CENTURY AND THE IRON FORGE OF
THE YEAR 1800
In an early day, somewhere between 1790 and 1800, there was erected a furnace on King’s creek, now Butler district, where the manufacture of iron was continued for a number of years. It was built by a man named Grant, and, it appears, was run by a company of which Grant was a partner. The firm, however, failed, and then it was operated by Connell, Tarr & Co., who likewise failed. In the immediate neighborhood of where this furnace stood, iron ore is more plentiful. The old ruins of this building can still be seen. It may seem strange to the people of this day that the coal, abundant as it is, was not then used at all, but that the immediate vicinity was stripped of its wood, the bulk of which was first charred, for use in the furnace. The lining of the furnace was composed of a kind of stone which seems to have increased in durability and hardness as the heat was intense. The interior is so well preserved that nothing but the removal of the support will cause it to fall. Most of the metal there produced was moulded on the ground into skillets, kettles, grates, &c., which found a market at the furnace, the purchasers being from the sparsely settled region for twenty-five miles in all directions. Many of these articles that were manufactured there are yet preserved and still in use. The residue of the metal, crude and manufactured, was transported over the hills to Wellsburg, the home and business place of John Connell and Peter Tarr, owners of the manufactory. The furnace ceased operations along in 1812 or 1815.
THE IRON FORGE
On King’s creek, below where the Campbell’s bridge spans the creek, William Griffith erected an iron forge in 1800, which was operated for a number of years. The principal part of the iron malleated here was boated down from the furnaces locate on the Cheat river, a branch of the Monongahela, through the same to the Ohio and thence to the mouth of King’s creek, where it was loaded on wagons and hauled up the creek to the forge. Metal was also used from the King’s creek furnace. It is said that the best quality malleable iron was made here.
THE MANUFACTURE OF GUNPOWDER
About the year 1795 a small gunpowder manufactory was started on the farm now in the possession of George Baxter by a man named Nesselroad, who had emigrated somewhere from the east and located, about the year alluded to, on that place. Here he built a log cabin and followed making gunpowder for nearly six years. At that early date powder and lead were very scarce, being of course in great demand by the settlers they brought a nice round price. Game abounded in the forests in large quantities, and in order to secure it ammunition must be had by them. Besides, to have none, placed the frontiersmen in a bad and dangerous position—no defence against the momentary attack of the Indian or wild animals that then inhabited the country. This Nessleroad thought to accommodate the pioneers as well as for his own pecuniary benefit manufactured powder and supplied those in that neighborhood with the article at a dollar per pound. His process for making it was a very slow one, as he was compelled to make his own ingredients—saltpeter, charcoal and sulphur. The process in which it was manufactured was without the requisition of machinery, being confined to hand-made altogether. The charcoal was ground fine by friction caused by the rubbing of two stones with flat surfaces together. Similar to what was well known by the early settlers as the hand-mills, which was used for the pulverizing of corn into meal. The other ingredients received like treatment. This was rather slow work, but the refining, which immediately followed the grinding, must have been still slower. The mill, if it can be so called, continued for nearly six years. A few years ago evidences of this establishment could yet be seen, but now there remains no marks where it stood.
THE TEUTONS’ VOTES.
When this county formed part of Brooke, in the early days, it was customary for the voters who wished to vote, to go to Wellsburg, that being the only place of voting within the county. Alone in 1815, there was an election coming off, which was expected by the politicians to be very close. Under these circumstances, all the citizens entitled to a vote, were earnestly urged to the polls. There were three candidates in the field, and each one had his political tricksters out electioneering. They rode over the length and breadth of the county, hailing every one whom they might meet to go to the pools and vote for so-and-so. At this time there lived in the northern extremity of Brooke, two Germans, named respectively Neicewnager and Goddard, who never attended elections, and by the way very little acquainted with the laws of the land, and were easily made to believe anything that might be told them. The politicians called on them, and attempted to electioneer. But neither could be made interested in the affair. About all that they said was to shake their heads, and in their own tongue, uttered “Nein.” One of them said, “ I no don’t care for some of dese bolitical matters what you speaks,” and the other said, “des mox nix ouse.” Finally they were made to believe that in case they failed to go and vote, a fine would be imposed upon them. With such positiveness was this told them, that they thought it must be true. At once they became frightened, and saddled their horses and off to Wellsburg they went. But when they reached the voting place, they were informed that they could vote or let it alone. No fine would subject them to perform this act. When this was ascertained, the Teutons got very angry to know that they had been deceived in that way. Stubbornness seized them at once, and all that the candidates could do to get them to vote, proved to no avail.
Voting then was conducted on the viva voce plan, and the polls were kept open for three successive days. Neicewanger and his neighbor Goddard concluded, as they had traveled thirty-one miles to vote, they would vote for each other.
“Well” said the judge, “Mr. Neicewanger, who do you want to vote for?”
“Ov dese candidates I no like some, und I wotes for Jim Gottard.”
He was imformed by the judge that Goddard was not a candidate.
“I wotes for Jim Gottard anyhow,” he replied.
The folks tried to reason with him, but it was no use; he only said:
“I wotes for Jim Gottard every dimes.”
And when Goddard was asked the same question, he said:
“Me wotes for Neicewanger.”
This was so good a joke that the laugh which followed by the listening crowd almost brought the house down.
PRIMITIVE SCHOOLS, SCHOOL HOUSES AND TEACHERS.
Little opportunity was afforded the children of the early settlers for obtaining an education. There was no law providing for schools, no tax levied for that purpose, or any other funds set apart for the payment of teachers in that day. The only alternative, under the circumstances, was resorted to by the citizens, and that was to raise by voluntary contributions sufficient means to employ some respectable person I whom could be place implicit confidence to teach their offspring, because they fully realized the necessity and usefulness of even the limited knowledge the children might secure. Reading, writing and arithmetic comprised the studies then. When one received an inkling of these branches and got along pretty well, he was considered, it is said; a scholar among them.
Log cabin school houses were built here and there where the settlements occurred more numerous, by the people meeting on a certain day, understood by them, for the purpose of erecting cabins. This was done repeatedly. The cabins, as we are informed. were usually about 18x22 feet, and from seven to eight feet high; and constructed of round logs. A description of a log cabin in this connection will not be amiss, and to give the youthful reader an idea of some of the peculiarities of such cabins. They were built of round logs, the size being suited to the peculiar wants or notions of the builders. When raised to a sufficient height to prepare for the roof a log was laid across each end o the building, projection on each side of the house about eighteen inches; these logs being three feet longer than those below, and were intended to support logs laid on them, called “butting pole,” against which the first row of clapboards were made to rest. The building is then ready for “cobbing off,” as it was called, which is done by putting a long on each side, perpendicularly with the main building; then a log on each end, and on them again one on each side, but far enough from the outside of the building to form a sufficient slope for the roof, and on which the boards used for a covering were laid, (and in the absence of boards, logs and bark off of trees, and moss and leaves often furnished the covering,) then another log on each end, these being necessarily about four feet shorter than those immediately below them, and on these end logs another pair of side logs, laid still farther in toward the middle of the building, and ranging with those below them, and so on until it is finished off with a single log on top and middle of the building. Then it is ready for covering, which is done with boards, split out of different kinds of wood, about four feet long, from eight to twelve inches wide, and about one and a half inches in thickness. These are laid on without nailing, but confined to their places by small logs laid on each course. To stop the crevices between the logs pieces of wood were driven in, called “daubing,” this was sometimes done inside and out. The inside finish was, in all respects, as rough as the outside appearance. The floors were laid with timbers, called “puncheon,” which was usually from eight to ten feet long, and made as broad as the logs would admit, and about four inches thick. The door was also made of these same “puncheons,” and hung on wooden hinges, and fastened with a wooden latch.
To those familiar with the days of log cabins, the phrase so often used, “the latch string is out,” is clearly understood. This latch or fastening was made of wood, and in order to enable those from without to enter the dwelling, a small string was attached to the latch (which was always on the inside) and passed through the door to the outside, and hence to prevent the entrance of any person, the inmates would pull in the latch string, so that when it was not seen on the outside of the door, it was evidence that no one could be admitted. Two windows were usually all that was considered necessary in a log cabin. This was made by cutting out one log on either side of the room nearly the length of the building and then closing up by putting in small sticks, in the form of sash, and pasting greased paper over them to cause it to admit the light more readily. A fire place was used instead of stoves which were then almost unknown. These fire places were made by cutting out a hole in one end of the building, in some cases large enough to pass a two horse wagon through the cavity. On the outside of the house, and connected with this, the chimney was built of wood and mortar, sometimes lined on the inside with stone and mortar immediately adjoining the fire place. In front of the fire place was a large space left in the floor, called the hearth, and was usually covered with flat stone, and hence the old phrase “hearth stone.” The seats were made out of split timber, with legs in them so long that very few feet were able, after being properly seated, to touch the floor. One object at least was attained by this arrangement of seats, viz: the pupils were so elevated above the floor as to be unable to make any noise with their feet, but whatever good was attained by this was counteracted by causing the scholars to sit in this
unpleasant posture during school hours.
As nearly as can be ascertained from the older settlers still living the first school within their recollection in now Hancock County, was started in a log house built for that purpose, and stood where Smith’s mill now stands, by W. H. Grafton 1811 or1812.
D. Pentecost taught a term of school in a house that stood near where Robert Morrow now lives, in Butler district, in about 1813, and he was succeeded the following year by John McMinner, who only taught one term also.
Henry Holmes taught in an old school house near the Flats church in 1822. Thomas Bambrick taught in the same school house commencing in the latter part of the year 1822, and continued for several winters. A log cabin school house stood near the Paws spring, on the farm now owned by J. C. Evans, and used for school purposes a number of years. It was built in 1820, or about that date. Children went two and three miles to attend school. The first teachers were John McConn, Thomas Dill, Bambrick Claton, and Miss Philena Fair.
In an early day there was a school house stood on the farm in the possession of Robert Prosser, and one on the Alex Bunting farm.
William Ledlie taught in a log house situated on a piece of ground now owned by I. N. Young: He taught a number of terms between the years 1784 and 1815. He taught surveying in connection with the common school branches.
James Rainey taught between the years 1810 and 1820 in a school house, located near William Wyles, which was soon afterward destroyed by fire.
For a great many years a log house occupied the site where the Jefferson school is situated. William Lang, B. S. Forbs, L. W. Beall and Samuel Wilcoxon, taught here along in 1827, 1828 and 1829. This house was used until 1850.
Hugh Laird taught for a number of terms in Holliday’s Cove and vicinity in the years 1790 to 1815 or 1820.
David Goorley was one of the early teachers in the Jefferson school house. He taught in 1825.
On the site of the Liberty schoolhouse stood a log school building that was erected in about 1808, and Hugh Laird taught here a short time, soon after it was built. 1838 the house was torn away and a hewed log house took its place, and used until 1848, then a brick house was erected, which remained until 1860, and then replaced by the present frame building.
Charles Stewart taught a school in a log cabin that stood near Nessley’s mill, along in 1825 or 1826.
Mark McGarven taught in 1811, in a cabin on a branch of Tomlinson’s run.
Mark McGovern taught a term of school in a log cabin, located about one mile down the run from where Allison’s present residence is standing, in Grant district, in about 1811. Among the scholars were James and Robert Hewitt, a Miss Kirk, Samuel and Sarah Micks, Charles Allison. A Mr. Martin, Isaac Bailey and Thomas Thompson, also taught in that neighborhood in an early day.
James Daubins taught a term of school in now Grant district in 1819.
In the year 1820, David Edie taught a term in an old log school house that stood on the farm now owned by George Chambers. And in the following year David Cameron taught a term in the same house. The Camerons, Pittengers, Swearingens, Harts, Carsons and others attended.
Mr. Brandon, an Irishman, taught where the Fairview Presbyterian Church now stands in 1818.
McCoy followed Brandon in about the year 1820, and taught a few years in the town of Fairview. On the holidays, one year, the scholars demanded a treat and closed the doors and windows of the house against their teacher until he would promise to treat. The wages teachers received in that early day did not justify a luxury of this sort, and of course he absolutely refused to countenance anything of the kind, and insisted upon coming in the building, which the children, who were all within the house, refused absolutely his admission without their wishes were gratified. It was a cold blustery day, and the teacher was getting cold standing around outside. He had made every effort imaginable to gain an entrance, but had been outwitted in every attempt. Finally a new idea seemed to take a hold. It was to crawl down the large chimney, which he proceeded to do. This caused great commotion below, for they perceived at once what was going on, and they immediately placed more fuel on the fire, and the master gladly retreated up the chimney, almost choked to death. He saw that all efforts were futile and concluded lastly to settle the affair by treating, which he did.
The first preaching done in now Hancock county, dates back to 1798. Rev’s Marquis, Hughes, and Macurdy, were the earliest ministers in this section. Along in those days, the people came a great distance to preaching. Services were held in the open air. Accommodations for seating the folks resembled in many respects those of the modern camp-meeting style. Only, instead of being made out of sawed boards, they were split timber, with pins driven in for legs. The costume of the people would not compare with the elegance of dress now seen on the campgrounds. They came, carrying their loaded guns, with moccasins and hunting dress on. During the preaching of the Word of God, some four or five persons would be stationed around some little distance from the rest, guarding against the Indians, for fear they might unexpectedly slip upon them and massacare the whole party. The assemblages were usually small. They would gather in from ten and eleven miles distant. These meetings were held alternately in different localities throughout the summer season. This was of holding meetings was practiced until the country became more thickly populated and then log churches were erected.
These exercises lasted during the greater portion of the day, and on the Sabbath only. The settlers carried their food with them to these meetings. It is said that they were