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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Historian Tells Story Of Waynesville Resident Allen Brown

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 28 July 2004
Source:
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page 245
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Allen Brown was born four miles north of Waynesville, near Lytle, in 1808. He was the son of Asher Brown who had emigrated from New Jersey to the Waynesville area in 1804. Asher and his family moved into a log cabin, which had been occupied as a dwelling for hogs during nights; it had no floor and no doors. A new puncheon floor and other improvements were realized and it was later transformed into a desirable home.
Asher Brown later purchased 500 acres in Clearcreek Township. To pay for the new property, he bought a large number of hogs, drove them to Philadelphia, and sold them at a large profit.
Allen lived on the land originally purchased by his father. He declared that he was born in a sheep-house, his brother John, in a hog-house, and his brother Asher in a hen house. Allen's explanation of this was that "the increases in the family census occurred in detached portions of the house, which were afterward appropriated to shelter the several creatures by whose names they were thenceforward known."
The population of the area was slight to say the least. The closest mill at this time was three or four day's ride, the only paths being bridle paths through the forests; the horse had to carry grist and rider. Sometimes events popped up that prevented the families from going to the mill. When the meal barrels became exhausted, makeshift mills were held in a hollowed out stump. The corn would be placed in the stump and be treated with a wooden pestle. The finest of the meal was sifted through a sieve, and what would not pass through the sieve would be served to the chickens.

A reporter interviewed Mr. Brown in 1884. I shall now transcribe the discussion. It goes as such:


"Mr. Brown was asked what they did for clothing. He said: "We raised our flax, and, when spun, took it to the weaver's, a man named Thomas Stephenson, who lived some distance southwest of our place. Most of our small spinning-wheels have disappeared, but I believe the large one is still in existence out at the old place."
"And as to Schools."
"We only went to school in the winter. There was an old log school near Aaron Chandler's, which we used to attend. George Ward and Owen Evans were teachers when I was a student there.
"By the way, Maria Ohio Ward, Aaron Chandler's second wife, was given her middle name because of her having been born on the Ohio River, near Wheeling, [West] Virginia, while her parents were coming down the Ohio in an ark."
"Do you mean something which looked like an ark, or one of the flatboats used in those days."
"No; arks were arks, and flatboats, flatboats. One was used for traveling and the other for freight, lumber, stock, etc. Maria Ward was born on an ark."
"The old meeting-house we had was a log building which stood on the present site of the Orthodox Friends' meeting-house in Waynesville.
"This was, of course, before the separation when all the Friends hereabouts were Hicksites, or followers of Elias Hicks.
"But, speaking of mills, John Jennings built a mill down here on the Little Miami, I think just about where Wright Brothers saw mill now stands.
"That was a great convenience, saving my father many long and wearisome journeys, not to say dangerous ones, for there were plenty of bears and wolves in those days. The latter would often come into the yard, and make night hideous and our blood would run cold with their howlings, and my father would not shoot at them, because of the difficulty in procuring ammunition, which could not be got nearer than Cincinnati.
"They were dreadfully destructive to hogs and sheep, and, of course, we could ill afford to lose any of them, for meat was scarce, especially fresh meat. I remember, once, my father bought a cow with a calf by her side, and when he brought them home my mother was very anxious to raise the calf, it being a heifer.
"But father objected. He said the men were working hard, and he thought the calf would make nice meat, which they ought to have. It was very hard for mother to forego her pet scheme, but she would have been compelled to had it not been for a fortunate interposition of luck.
"My father went into the woods for some purpose, and three deer made their appearance before him. He had his trusty flintlock gun, an inseparable backwoods companion, with him, and, stationing himself behind a tree, he made a careful aim, pulled the trigger, there was report, and he saw a fine buck give a few plunges, and then stretch himself prone upon the ground.
"Father could not, of course, shoulder Mr. Buck, and carry him to the house, so, making a slit in the deer's hamstring, and bending down a strong young hickory sapling, he hung the deer to the tree top, and swung it back to its former altitude, placing the venison far out of reach of bear or wolf.
"Then he started for home, making his way by breaking and bending down twigs and branches of the trees, so he might be able to find his meat again.
"Finally reaching home, he returned on horseback, and supplied our larder for many a day with venison which would make the modern epicurean's mouth water.
"My mother, however, was the one most gratified, because now there was no obstacle in the way of her keeping the little calf.
"Stoves were unknown then, and our cooking was all done by the great fire on the hearth. The crane and the Dutch ovens were the nearest approaches of stoves, and there never was any sweeter bread or any better meat than my mother used to cook in those days.
"I still have an old Dutch oven, which is now used as a whitewash kettle.
"People would not so nowadays, but to my mind there is no comfort like that of the old fireplace, with the immense logs throwing out their heat over all the room. The fireplaces were very large, and the back-logs, of which you have record or heard, were usually brought into the room in this way; if there were two doors, one opposite the other, and opening out-doors, the log would be brought up to one door, outside of which would be a horse, to which the rope would be attached, and the horse, well acquainted with his business, would pull the log into the room, and it would be rolled to its place in the cavernous chimney. We used the tinder-box to strike fire with when we had them, but it has often happened that the fire went out, and there was no other way to start it again but by sending across woods and clearing to one of the neighbors to procure a pan of coals."
"What were the wages paid in those days for farm labor, Mr. Brown?"
"Thirty-seven and a half cents a day was considered good pay, and when people got fifty cents a day they thought they were coining money.
"By the month, eight and nine dollars was the general price paid for farm hands. And we didn't saunter into the field at 7 o'clock, and hasten out at 6, either.
"In those good old days it was from dawn till dark. We were up when the birds were just beginning to rustle their wings and whisper their first waking notes; had breakfast before sunrise, and were up and away to the field or woods.
"And, after supper, out we went again, and worked generally until bed-time. Oh, I tell you people worked in those days, and, as far as I can judge, they were healthier, if not happier, than people now, who do not work so hard or so long.
"Of course, we had not the facilities then for doing work, either; just think of the mold-board plows of those days, and compare them with the riding plows of the present.
"They were made of almost any kind of hard wood, such as hickory or oak, and hewed out into shape with an ax. This is what we had to plow the ground with.
"How many farmers of Warren County now would be content to till the soil the old way? Not many, I guess."


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This page created 28 July 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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