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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Travels Of The Early Pioneers

Dallas Bogan on 14 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The travels of the first Spaniards into the new land of North America found the only domesticated animal belonging to the American Indians was the dog. The horse was unheard of. These strange animals that the armies of Cortez and DeSoto rode inflicted complete amazement on the locals. DeSoto abandoned several horses near the Texas border and these were the forerunner of the wild horses of North America.

The first horses in Ohio were obtained by the Indians, not from the tribes of the western plains, but from French Canadians and English colonists. The early traders probably exhibited these first horses, upon which the Redman gazed. Indians were allowed to obtain horses legally although many thefts occurred. The horse thievery caused much commotion among the early settlers. Horses were the most likely of all the commodities to be stolen. Since horses were rare even among the settlers this act of thievery amongst the Indians allowed the use of oxen to suffice the predicament. The first settler of Lebanon, Ichabod Corwin, in 1796, had his horses stolen from him and oxen replaced them.

Josiah Morrow, in his story in the Western Star, dated December 8, 1910, relates a story of Simon Kenton and his adventure of stealing horses from the Indians, which had been stolen from the early settlements of Kentucky. It says:

"During the Revolution the Indian towns on the Miamis and the Scioto had obtained a considerable number of horses, many of which had been captured from the Kentucky settlements. In 1778, Simon Kenton, then living in Kentucky, with two companions went off for the avowed purpose of taking horses from one of the several Indian towns called Chillicothe. They were provided with salt and halters. At night they went into a prairie near the town in which a drove of horses were feeding. With some difficulty they captured seven and set off rapidly for Kentucky. They reached the Ohio near the mouth of Eagle Creek in Brown County. The wind blew violently and the waters were rough and it was found impossible to get the horses to take to the water. They encamped in the hills and the next day after the wind had subsided again attempted to get the horses across the river; and again were unsuccessful. While at the riverbank, a pursuing party of Indians on horseback discovered them, shot and scalped one of Kenton's companions and made Kenton a prisoner. The Indians recovered all the seven horses. The third white man in the party escaped and arrived in Kentucky safely."

"LONG RIDES AND SMALL FEES--The pioneer physicians of the Miami valley were of necessity country practitioners, whether they established themselves in the new towns or on farms. For several years some of the townships had only one resident physician and sometimes none. A ride of twelve or fifteen miles at night was not unusual. Sometimes rides of twenty or even thirty miles were made on horseback on roads over which no kind of carriage could be drawn. The pioneer physician, who became noted in his profession in Warren County, was called on to make journeys in the saddle to distant parts of the county and to adjoining counties in the most inclement seasons; to endanger his life in crossing the flooded Miami when it was bridgeless, and in times of epidemics to pass successive days and nights without sleep.
"Dr. Daniel Drake, the most distinguished of the early physicians of Cincinnati, says the ordinary charges by the physician for his long rides was twenty-five cents a mile, "one-half being deducted, and the other half paid in provender for his horse or produce for his family.
"These pioneers in their profession were not only physicians and surgeons, but bleeders, cuppers, leechers, bone-setters and tooth-pullers. They sometimes plugged teeth, using tin foil instead of gold-leaf. For extracting a single tooth the charge was twenty-five cents, a deduction being made if two or more were drawn at the same time. For ordinary professional services the charges seem to us low; for bleeding, 25 cents; for sitting up all night, $1; for an ordinary visit, from 25 cents to 50 cents, according to the circumstances of the patient. These are the figures given by Dr. Drake. It should be borne in mind that the purchasing value of a dollar was far greater then than now.
"The early physicians were of the heroic school and in their practice made frequent use of the lancet and large doses of calomel. They relied on purging, vomiting, bleeding, blistering and salivation. The amount of calomel purchased by a single physician in the first quarter of the last century, as shown by druggists account books still in existence would strike the modern man of science with amazement."

Much can be said about the transportation of the pioneers in the early stages of the development of the country, but travel by horseback definitely was the only means of travel, other than walking, because of the nonexistence of roads.

"Lawyers and judges made the circuits of their courts, physicians visited their patients and preachers attended their preaching stations on horseback. All professional men wore leggins extending from the ankles to the knees, as a protection against cold and mud. The assemblies for public worship were in the forest or a log meeting house with saddled horses hitched to the surrounding trees.

"The longest journeys were made in the saddle. The saddle-bags contained the rider's rations for an entire day. Francis Asbury, the first Methodist Bishop ordained in America, during his ministry traveled chiefly on horseback more than 270,000 miles, visiting every part of the country, preaching more than 16,000 sermons, ordaining over 4,000 ministers and presiding at 224 conferences.

"Preachers probably rode more on horseback than the lawyers or doctors. The Methodist circuits extended a hundred miles, and Presbyterian and Baptist pastors had charge of two, three or more congregations in different counties. Some pioneer preachers literally spent one-half their waking hours in the saddle. In 1807, Rev. Adair of the Associate-Reformed Church in Virginia, resigned one of his pastoral charges because of `the one hundred miles, three mountains and six rivers' between his two churches.

"Also in this article is a diary written by Isaac Burr living in Delaware County, New York, written in the autumn of 1805. This diary tells of a 700 mile journey on horseback from his home through New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland and nearly across Virginia, a total distance of nearly 700 miles. His intention was to document his every expense. The article reads as such:
"One of the hardships of his journey came from the failure of the fruit crop. On September 27, he wrote: `Find little fruit yet. Have not drank a drop of cider since I started.'
"Isaac Burr, in his diary, notes the condition of the roads over which he traveled as sometimes good, sometimes tolerable, and sometimes very bad. He was 26 days in making his journey southward of 692 miles, but there were four of these days on which he did not travel on account of sickness or rain. The average distance he rode on the 22 days he traveled was about 31 1/2 miles.
"Mr. Burr gives an itemized account of his daily expenses both going and returning. His traveling expenses included the tavern bills for himself and horse, tolls (tho no mention is made of toll) and ferriage and varied greatly in different parts of the country. His average traveling expenses per day of his southward journey (including four days on which he did not travel) was $1.25; on his northward journey when he traveled every day, $1.35.
"He gives the totals of his southward journey: days, 26, miles traveled 692, expenses $31.65. Of his northward journey: days, 22; miles traveled 687, expenses, $29.74."
Rev. Francis Asbury was perhaps the foremost roving evangelist of olden times. The Reverend traversed the lands of Warren County in the year 1807, passing down the Little Miami. At this time there was no place to preach in the county.
"1807--Late in August the bishop with one or two companions passed from Virginia into Ohio and rode from St. Clairsville to Chillicothe. At the latter place he attended a conference which continued from Monday, September 14, until the next Friday. Says the Journal:
"Finding my work done and my carriage sold, I ventured once more to take my horse with a determination to visit the frontier settlements on the Great Miami River. We came away leaving fifty or sixty preachers at the camp meeting near the seat of the conference and got to Brother Waugh's for the night. Saturday we reached Hinckston's to dine, and thence by riding late got into Caesarsville and stopped with Peter Pelham. We have made sixty-five miles from Chillicothe. A great runner is abroad of an expected war, and many have fled the country, but the report was idle wind.
"At Frederick Bonner's I preached upon Heb. IV, 1, 2,. It was an open meeting.
"Monday, 20--I rested at John Sale's. Busy writing. On Tuesday we started away and came to Samuel Hilt's, (Hitt's?) dined, prayed, talked and came away to Lebanon; we found the court in session. We lodged at Jeremiah Lawson's. There is now a great talk about the Shakers; they are said to consist of two hundred people; three Presbyterian ministers have joined them--a heavy decision.
"Wednesday, 22--We bent our course down the Little Miami; there are many fine situations for mills on this stream and the land appears to be generally very fertile. We found lodging with Andrew McGraw, lately from Baltimore County, Maryland. I preached on Friday at Philip Gatch's on Heb. IV, 2. On Friday we stopped in Cincinnati.
"1808--In August the bishop crossed from Wheeling into Ohio and rode westward thru Chillicothe.
"Sabbath, August 21--At Xenia court house I preached from Colos. 1, 28. We had about five hundred souls to hear; it was a searching season. On Tuesday left Peter Pelham's and came to Samuel Hilt's.
"Wednesday, 24--I preached at Widow Smith's.
On Thursday we passed Lebanon, journeying down the Little Miami, calling at Clark's to escape the rain. It cleared away and we came in haste by Waldsmith's mill to McGrue's. Camp meeting commenced at Philip Gatch's on Friday; here I saw many whom I had not seen for years. How delightful to see our old friends after a separation and to find them still on the Lord's side.
"Sabbath, Sept. 22 (1811), I preached in the court house at Dayton, We may have had one thousand people to hear us. Dinnerless, we came in the evening to Nathan Horner's and supped and lodged.
"Monday I preached in a store house at Franklin; I was not at home. I came away with George Harnesberger.
"Tuesday, at Lebanon, I preached and called the society together. We devised the building of a chapel of brick, forty by sixty feet, and one story high. We lodged with McGreeve's (name possibly could have been written McGuire's). We were hungry and weary and he was sick. Bad enough.
"Sabbath, Sept. 4 (1814)--I made a feeble attempt at Lebanon on 2 Pet. III, 14. I also spake last night. Tuesday we arrived in Cincinnati. There is distress everywhere in the church and abroad in the United States."

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This page created 14 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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