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Transcription contributed by Leah L. Furnas 1 May 2005


The History of Warren County Ohio
Part IV Township Histories
Washington Township by Samuel Harris
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)


Hunting was a favorite pastime with the early settlers, and they sometimes had regularly organized bear and deer hunts. The country was notified of the day the hunt was to take place, and of the different stations at which each settlement would meet. The hunters would form a circle and advance toward the center, driving the game before them by making a general rush for the center and a brisk firing began, which usually resulted in more hilarity than game.

Another favorite pastime was the squirrel hunt. When this was determined upon, a meeting was called, Captains elected, Judges chosen to assure a fair count, and the men divided into two companies. A day was then sent, usually about a month ahead, on which they would meet to count scalps, and, in the intervening time, each man would hunt as much, and secure as many scalps, as possible. The hunters usually staked a bushel of corn or its equivalent on their prowess, and, when the scalps were counted, the winning side took all the grain wagered. The squirrel scalps included both ears and in the score counted one; hawks and owls each counted two, and others birds, one.

Another favorite and successful mode of killing was by watching the licks, which were moist or boggy places and sometimes springs, possessed of strong saline qualities. To these places game of all kinds would repair nightly to lick the salty banks, and the hunter, lying in ambush, could shoot them down at pleasure.

Wild turkeys were trapped in well-baited pens, erected for the purpose, with a neatly constructed trap-door in the bottom.

The social games of the pioneers were such as combined pleasure with profit. Among these were the log-rollings, for which the men were divided into two sections, and each tried to excel the other in the number of logs cut and rolled from the land. The last one of these held in this section was in 1867, on the farm of the writer, at Springhill. For this there were seventeen acres ready cut into lengths of from twelve to sixteen feet; and forty-two men, old and young, worked faithfully and cheerfully, though the day was showery and uncomfortable. Not finishing the clearing on the first day, twenty-four of the men returned the next day and completed the work. The writer will ever retain a grateful remembrance of the kindness of his neighbors on that occasion.

In pioneer days, there being no inclosed fields, except those devoted to raising crops, the domestic animals were allowed to run at large. Hogs lived on the mast of the forest and fattened rapidly. When the killing season rolled around, the settlers, with employed help, would hunt down and kill their hogs in the woods, drag or haul them home, and there scald, scrape and cut them up for winter use.

An account is given us of two children, aged five and three years, who were lost at different times, about 1808 or 1809. Both were found by rousing the settlements and making an organized search. One of these was named Nicholas Burns; the other was a child of Nebo Gaunt’s.

Many of the emigrants from Virginia had full faith in witchcraft, and, when the writer was quite a small boy, he listened to their stories about the operations of witches at Wizzard Clip until his hair stood erect and he clung to them for protection. A respectable old settler was so far imposed upon by

his fun-loving neighbors as to believe that his premises were haunted, and even requested Capt. James Harris, of Clinton County, to call out the militia for his protection from the evil spirits. The Captain volunteered his personal services, but declined to call out a military guard.

In the early settlements there were but few regularly educated physicians, and the settlers relied, to a great extent, on those versed in the medical properties of roots and herbs. Bleeding was thought to be efficacious in almost every case, and quite a number who were not physicians or surgeons were initiated into the art of phlebotomy.

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This page created 1 May 2005 and last updated 27 October, 2005
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