Besides ministerial duties, accident had placed Mr. McMECHAN for a few weeks at the head of a large educational institution, during the temporary absence of the principal. This vocation accorded so well with his taste that he resolved to adopt it, and after his return to Newry he established such a school and conducted it successfully, achieving distinction as an educator. Through the persuasions of a brother, who had come to the new world, Mr. McMECHAN was induced to emigrate with his family in 1817, landing in Baltimore October 6th of that year. Coming West as soon a practicable in those days of difficult and hazardous traveling, they arrived in Hamilton after a wearisome journey of six weeks, frequently consuming an entire day in gaining three miles. The discomforts of early Western life to one entirely unaccustomed to it and the marked difference of climate, proved unfavorable to the husband and father, who survived the change but two years. Left a "stranger in a strange land," the sole guide of a young family in the "straight and narrow way," Mrs. McMECHAN devoted herself to her great charge with a fidelity and energy that were characteristic. The children were Eleanor A., afterwards married to Charles K. SMITH; William; Jane, who became the wife of Jesse CORWIN, and James, who lived with their mother at Hamilton, and John, a merchant of Eastport, Mississippi. Sara, the youngest, died during the passage to America.
Agreeable in conversation, with a retentive memory, Mrs. McMECHAN's reminiscences of her early life were many and interesting. When the rebellion of 1798 occurred in Ireland, she was eighteen years of age, and a participant in many of its perils. The relation of one ordeal to which herself and friends were subjected will bear repetition. A young sister being in failing health, a change of air and scene was advised. Mrs. HUDSON, taking her daughters, Margery and the invalid, left her home and went to that of a relative, in another part of Ireland, Mr. Ephraim BOAKE, of Boakefield, near Ballitore, a wealthy Quaker, who lived up to the principles of the sect to which he belonged, and took no part in the tumult that was agitating Ireland. He permitted the king's troops, during marches, to quarter on his estate of Boakefield, and this, with his difference in religious views, was a ground sufficient to render him most obnoxious to the insurgents. Shortly after the ladies arrived at what they hoped would prove a haven of rest, the house was surrounded by an armed force of masked men, who peremptorily demanded admittance, which was refused as decidedly. They succeeded, however, in effecting an opening and immediately commenced firing into the hall and stairway. Not less than sixty shots went tearing through this beautiful home, the inmates barely escaping with their lives. The subject of this sketch was forced to make her exit down the fated stairway, which she did almost miraculously only a few moments before it was entirely demolished.
On another occasion, when the strife was carried into her own home, the sister already mentioned, a zealous young Protestant, was an object of dislike and vengeance, one of the gang singling her out for a murderous assault. Mrs. McMECHAN's mother was a woman of great nerve and self-possession, and seeing her daughter's peril, seized the nearest available weapon and dealt the invader a blow which rendered him helpless and gave freedom to his intended victim, a circumstance of which she was not slow to take advantage. She ran up the stairs and into the nearest apartment, followed quickly by another rebel, who finding the window open and the room apparently unoccupied, abandoned the idea of killing Miss HUDSON, thinking she had already lost her life by a suicidal leap. Driven almost to madness, by an extremity so appalling, the young girl had speedily found a hiding-place on the framework at the top of a bed, such as were in use in those days, a feat she never have accomplished with her mind in its tranquil state, and was resting securely on this novel elevation when her assailant entered. This lady, after her marriage, lived in America, and was the mother of the late Dr. John McMECHAN, who practiced medicine for many years in Butler County. More than sixty years after these events, Mrs. McMECHAN was doomed to witness the horrors of another rebellion, being over eighty years old when the civil war in her adopted country took place.
Shortly after the family located in Hamilton Mrs. McMECHAN became a member of the Associate Reformed Church, of which the Rev. David MacDILL was pastor, and was throughout her life a consistent Christian, enduring with fortitude and patience the feebleness incident to age, and waiting uncomplainingly and with entire submission for the divine summons. Her life ended peacefully, in Hamilton, the sixth day of January, 1869 in the eight-ninth year of her age.
William COOPER, in the public prints, gives notice that, having lately taken the tavern stand on High Street, opposite the court-house, formerly occupied by George F. GLASSFORD, he begged leave to notify his friends that he had opened a house of entertainment, and solicits a share of public patronage. This was in 1822.
In 1824 Hiram WRIGHT respectfully informed his friends, and the public in general, that he had lately opened a public house on the corner of Dayton and Main streets, in Hamilton, where he was ready to accommodate those who gave him a call. Liquors would be sold 50 per cent lower than heretofore in this place, if cash were paid down, otherwise the customary price. "Shoemaking carried on as usual. Butchering to commence on the third day of August next, where beef can be had of the best quality and in the neatest manner, on Tuesday and Saturday mornings."
Somewhat later, George VANDEGRIFF took the establishment formerly occupied by William COOPER, "in the brick row opposite the court-house, where he is now keeping a house of entertainment for the accommodation of traveling gentlemen and ladies, and solicits a share of public patronage." The bill of prices is as follows:
Horse fare per night, supper and lodging, 56 ¼ cts. Breakfast and horse feed, 31 ¼ " Lodging, per night, 6 ¼ " Board by the week 1 50 Victuals—single meal, 18 ¾ cts.
"N.B. Gentlemen and ladies can be accommodated with private rooms. He had repaired the house in good style and his accommodations are as good as any in the county."
The advertising art was not unknown in 1823. A professor of the tonsorial
art thus makes known his qualifications:
Having taken a permanent residence in this place, tenders his professional services to the gentlemen of Hamilton, Rossville, and their respective vicinities. He may be found at any time at his office, where all business intrusted to his care will be diligently and faithfully attended to. He does not wish to make any great profession of his knowledge, or to speak in is own praise, neither does he wish to "anticipate the pleasure which gentlemen must necessarily and inevitably feel while undergoing the operation of his dexterous performance, but will merely state that he has heretofore never failed to give universal and unbounded satisfaction to his friends.
The peculiar situation in which he has fortunately located himself is strikingly singular. On one side of him is a law office, on the other a tavern, the court-house in his front, Stable Street in his rear, and a printing office immediately above him. Possessing so many superior advantages, in point of locality, political principles, and acquirements over his predecessor (Benj. TOLLIVER), who came before the public under arbitrary colors, Green BRIGGS flatters himself that his services will be duly appreciated, and that he will meet with the support and approbation of an enlightened community.
Notwithstanding the head prefixed to this notice appear somewhat shocking,
still there is no harm whatever intended. He merely wishes to convey the
idea that he will
Shave and Cut Hair
On the most reasonable terms, in the best possible manner, and in the most superior style of Eastern elegance.
Hamilton, November 24, 1823.
In 1826 a calamity occurred that sent a thrill throughout the community. A house in this town occupied by Mr. James BOAL, was struck by lightning, and the electric fluid caused the death of no less than four persons, thus bereaving Mr. BOAL of an affectionate wife and two lovely children, one about five and the other about three years of age, and a widowed mother, Mrs. PERRINE, of a daughter in the bloom of life. Four other persons were in the room at the time, three of Mrs. BOAL's children, and a daughter of Mrs. McCARRON, who providentially escaped with but slight injury.
Fashionable gentlemen now may be interested in knowing what kinds of clothes were worn in those days. Mrs. BASEY's house had been broken into, and he had been robbed. He was a well-known saloon-keeper of the town. He thus advertises his loss:
"About nine o'clock last evening from the residence of the subscriber in Hamilton, the following articles of clothing; A drab double-milled Newmarket coat lined with silk; a blue close-bodied coat with a few small slits in the tail of it; two silk velvet vests, one a black and the other a crimson color. Two pair of blue pantaloons, of the same quality as the close-bodied coat; one pair ribbed cassimere; one pair of fine blue cazinett; one pair sky-blue ribbed cazinett."
"The american museum of wax figure," exhibited here in 1825 at Colonel VANDEGRIFF's hotel. The museum consisted of nineteen figure, General JACKSON, Commodore PORTER, John Q. ADAMS, General MARAT, and Charlotte CORDAY, Lorenzo DOW, Catharine, the empress of Russia, Harriet NEWELL and her infant, the American beauty, two beautiful children, the fair sleeping Desedemona, and and infant child, Paul CUFFEE, Turner the Hermit, two Lilliputian, and an African boy.
During the freshet in April, 1825, twenty-five boats descended the Miami River, laden with pork, flour, and whiskey, destined for New Orleans. One or two accidents occurred. One boat struck the pier of the Hamilton bridge, and sunk a few miles below. Another was wrecked a short distance above town, and a Mr. JOHNSON, of Rossville, was drowned in assisting the owner to save the cargo.
The forty-eighth anniversary of our national independence was celebrated in 1824 by the citizens of Hamilton and Rossville. At half past 8 o'clock, A. M., a procession was formed in front of BLAIR's Hotel and proceeded to the Presbyterian Church, where (after other exercises by some of Mr. WATKIN's pupils) Taylor WEBSTER pronounced a highly interesting and appropriate oration. At 11 A. M., the citizens assembled at the court-house. The Declaration of Independence was read by James McBride, and the oration delivered by Mr. John L. WATKINS; after which those citizens who wished to partake of the entertainment prepared by Mr. L. P. SAYRE, in Rossville, were directed to form a procession at the east door of the court-house, which was accordingly done, and preceded by a band of musicians, playing suitable martial airs, they moved to the place of destination. Great cordiality prevailed throughout, and nothing occurred to mar the festivity of the day, which was ended in a very happy way.
The anniversary of Washington's birthday was celebrated in a very becoming manner by the citizens of Hamilton and Rossville, on Wednesday, February 22, 1826. At 2 o'clock P.M. the farewell address of Washington was read by Mr. Charles K. SMITH before a large and highly respectable audience of both sexes, assembled at the court-house, after which Mr. Jesse CORWIN pronounced an oration, the whole being much enlivened by the performance of several appropriate airs by a band of music.
The Hamilton Free and Easy Club met in February, 1825, at early candle-light, to discuss at Mr. BLAIR's Assembly Room, the following question" "Were the Allied Powers, justifiable in confining Napoleon Bonaparte on the Island of S. Helena?"
In 1825 the Cincinnati and Dayton mail stage ran once a week between Cincinnati and Dayton. It left Cincinnati every Monday at 4 A. M., and arrived at Hamilton the same day by 6 P. M. It left Hamilton every Tuesday at 4 A. M., and arrived at Dayton the same day at 6 P. M. From Dayton it left every Friday at 4 A. M., reaching Hamilton the same day by 6 P. M. It departed from Hamilton every Saturday at 4 A.M. and arrived at Cincinnati the same day by 6 P. M.
The stage offices were kept at Cincinnati by Hezekiah FOX, at Hamilton by Thomas BLAIR, and at Dayton by Timothy SQUIRES.
As an instance of rapid traveling, the newspaper says that the President's message, in 1829, was delivered at the city of Washington on the 8th inst., and "we, at this distance, publish it on the 11th—only three days after!! This is truly 'going the whole—' and stands unparalleled in our backwoods annals of transportation."
In 1827, it was stated on the authority of Platt EVANS, of Cincinnati, that goods were transported from New York by the canal at the following prices per hundred weight:
|From the city to Portland, Ohio, nine days|
From Portland to Cincinnati, fourteen days
From the same city, by way of Philadelphia and Pittsburg, Mr. BARD, also of Cincinnati, said it cost him five dollars per hundred weight and required several day longer. It was, therefore, much cheaper, and equally safe, to take goods purchased in Philadelphia, for the western market, by the way of New York.
Advertisements for runaway apprentices were common in early days. We find the following in the Intelligencer:
Among the deaths recorded at an early date, we have Matthew Winton, in the seventy-eighth year of his age, in 1830; Moses CONNER, in 1829; Sarah WRIGHT, in the eightieth year of her age, in 1828; George CHESTERSON, an aged citizen, in 1825, and John BLACKHALL, in 1824.
The mayor's docket of 1834, when James McBRIDE filled that position, has been preserved. It is full of interesting reading. The first case we notice bears date of October 28, 1834, and was the State vs. Ruber MEEKER, on the charge of running a horse through the streets of Hamilton. The charge was made by Samuel BAYLESS, and the witnesses were John S.GORDON, John M. MILLIKIN, George P. BELL, and John WOODS. The docket shows a clear case against the defendant, and a fine of five dollars was annexed against him.
On the same day, and on the same charge, and proved by the same witnesses, John MEEKER paid a similar fine; but John Meeker, must have been indulging in something stronger than spring water, for the next case on the docket is that in which on a charge of assault and battery on Matthias DUNGAN he pleaded guilty, and was again fined five dollars and costs.
There are a number of cases against sundry parties for "keeping a grocery and retailing spirits without a license." Henry AMSDEN, John JENKINS, Benjamin TALBERT, James ELLIOTT, James WARD, Charley SNYDER, Billy LOHMANN, and others, were so arraigned, and when they could not produce, and generally they did not, the permit of the Common Pleas Court to sell liquor, they submitted to a fine of thirty dollars and costs.
The 21st of February, 1836, was a good day for the marshal of Hamilton. The weather had been unusually cold, and on that bright Sunday morning the basin was frozen over as smooth as glass, and as solid as a rock. Mr. BAYLESS had his hands full of warrants for the arrest of William B. CAMERON, Ira M. COLLYER, John BLACKALL, Alex. RICHARDSON, William EAST, a boy of color; William HARRISON, James MOORE, Benjamin VAN HOOK, and a half dozen other, "engaged in the sport or amusement of skating on the Hamilton Basin on the Sabbath day." They were called upon to pay fines and costs ranging from one to two dollars.
Shortly after this Henry SWAIN, commonly called "Dutch Henry," was fined three dollars and costs for riding his horse at a gallop through the streets. The witnesses were Henry S. EARHART, George W. TAPSCOTT, and Robert HARPER.
But on Sunday, February 28, 1836, Michael DELORAC, instigated, doubtless, by the devil and an inordinate greed of gain, sold a grindstone for the sum of one dollar and fifty cents. He was arrested "for being found on the first day of the wee, commonly called Sunday, sporting and at common labor in violation of the statues," etc., and fined one dollar and costs.
On the same day John B. WELLER, John WOODS, and William BEBB were arrested
on similar warrant for Sabbath breaking. The facts in these cases are as
"The said defendant (WELLER) on Sunday, the 28th of February last, in company with others, left Hamilton on horseback for Eaton, in Preble County, with the avowed intention of attending the Court of Common Pleas in that county, which commenced its session on the ensuing Monday. "The defendant, John B. WELLER, moved the court to be discharged, upon the grounds that the facts, as proved do not bring the case within the section of law under which he is arraigned, to wit, the first section of an act entitled, 'An act for the prevention of immoral practices' because the charge, as proved, is no violation of the laws of Ohio, and not recognized as an offense. Which motion was overruled by the mayor, who refused to discharge the defendant on the grounds above stated, whereupon the said defendant tendered his bill of exception, which was signed by the mayor, and the mayor assessed a fine of one dollar for the offense and costs of suit."
Daniel SKINNER, who had the temerity to engage in the sport or amusement of sleigh-riding on the Sunday of February 28, 1836, was summarily arrested, and, on the testimony of W. H. BARTLETT, Jesse CORWIN, John EICHELBERGER, Israel GREGG, and John G. RITTER, vindicated his reputation and succeeded in obtaining a verdict of not guilty.
The anniversary of our national independence was appropriately celebrated by the citizens in 1830. An impressive address to the throne of grace was offered up by the Rev. Mr. J. BRADLEY, of Middletown. The Declaration of Independence was read by W. MURRAY, Jr., and an eloquent oration pronounced by James REILY. The procession was again formed and marched to Rossville, where an elegant dinner was prepared by Mr. INGERSOL, for which the company appeared to have excellent appetites.
The political contest between General JACKSON, Henry CLAY, and John Q. ADAMS for the Presidency produced great excitement in the county of Butler, dividing the people into parties, which opposed and assailed each other with all the violence of party rancor. On the success of General JACKSON, in the Fall of 1828, great rejoicing was made by the successful party. A celebration was had, and barbecue made in Rossville on the 4th of March, 1829, being the day on which General JACKSON was inaugurated. A fatted ox was furnished by Jacob WEHR, which was roasted whole, on the common on the river bank, in the lower part of Rossville, which, with bread furnished from the bakery, formed the bill of fare. Two or three hundred persons were present, who, with their knives, each cut off such part of the ox as suited their taste. This, with bread and an abundance of whisky, obtained from the neighboring groceries, constituted the repast. The day was somewhat rainy and the ground muddy, and the liberal potations of whiskey used at the feast rendered the appearance of the assemblage in the evening like any thing else than a temperance meeting.
In July, 1830, Henry CLAY, of Kentucky, paid a visit to Hamilton, in accordance with an invitation received from the citizens of the place, communicated through a committee who had been appointed to wait on him for that purpose. He arrived at Hamilton on Thursday, the 29th of July, and on the next day partook of a public dinner provided on the occasion. The dinner was prepared by Thomas BLAIR and served up in elegant style under the shade of the locust trees in the public square, on the east side of the court-house, about two o'clock, at which two hundred and eleven persons sat down, being all that the table would accommodate. John BIGGER, of Warren County, officiated as president of the day. After the dinner was over toasts were given and drank with great glee. After the toast complimentary to Mr. CLAY had been given and drank, he addressed the assembled multitude from the east door of the court-house in a speech of great eloquence and effect, which occupied about two hours in the delivery. There were about one thousand persons present to hear him.
In the evening a brilliant party was given in honor of Mr. CLAY, at the house of John WOODS, then member of Congress from this district.
The house and yard were brilliantly illuminated and crowded to overflowing, and all the beauty and elegance of the town and neighborhood were present to welcome and take by the hand their celebrated guest. On Saturday Mr. Clay bade farewell to Hamilton, and proceeded to Cincinnati, on his way to Ashland.