Monroe County Pages

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Early Settlements

The first permanent settlement of which there is an authentic record was in 1791. Settlements were made across the Ohio River at Sistersville, West Virginia, and at this point, a ferry was established in 1804.

Philip Witten, a brother-in-law of the noted scouts and Indian fighters, Kinsey and Vachel Dickenson (having married their sister), settled along the Ohio River in what is now Jackson Township.

Robert McEldowney made a settlement on Buckhill Bottom in 1794, and was soon followed by Jacob Ullom and others. Settlements were made at and near the mouth of Sunfish and Opossum Creeks by the Vandevanters, Henthorns, Atkinsons, and others at about 1798-1799. The site of present day Calais was settled in 1802.

A settlement was made at about the same time by Michael Crow and others on Clear Fork Creek. Cline's settlement on the Little Muskingum River was begun about the year 1805. The settlement where Beallsville now stands and Dye's settlement in Perry Township were made at about the same time.

Few of its present inhabitants can imagine the hardships endured by the early settlers of the county. Without mills they were compelled to resort to grating corn for bread in the early fall and, when too hard for that, to hominy, pounding it in large wooden mortars called "hominy blocks" with iron wedges on the ends of round sticks of wood for a pestle. "Hog and hominy", "johnny cake", wild game, mush, and milk constituted their chief diet.

When hand mills were introduced they were an improvement, but even greater was the introduction of the horse mills.

At that time, every farmer had his own flock of sheep and a patch of flax. The flax was pulled, spread out in rows on the ground, "rotted", and then "broken and swingled" -- thus preparing it for combing and the "little wheel" as the machine was called on which the flax was spun to distinguish it from the larger machine for spinning wool. It was woven into cloth for table covers, toweling, sheeting, and shirting.

The wool was carded with hand-cards, spun and woven at home, and made into garments. Nice suits were made of "fulled cloth" and nice gowns for women were made of "pressed flannel".