By Rev. Merle C. Rummel
VIII. New Lands West
IX The Modern Farmers
X The Housewife
XI. Four Mile: The Later Days
VIII. New Lands West
The Four Mile was the frontier and families moved to it from Virginia. They were large families. Some of the children had married before they moved to these new lands on the frontier, some were youth who came and worked and found families and land for themselves. But the younger children, who got older and grew up, found their husbands or wives among the neighbors or more distant kin, and looked for their own farm to start on. New families arrived from the east, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The land soon was all taken.
The Indian Road led west across the Four Mile, there were more good lands along it, so westward they went. The Greenville Treaty Line ran down the Whitewater River Valley some six miles west of the Four Mile. Records say that in 1802, Daniel Fiant and family came to the ford where the Indian Road crossed the Whitewater. It used to be called Fiant's Ford. Daniel Fiant was from the Oley church in Chester County, PA. His wife was Susannah Gaby, youngest daughter of Elder Martin Gaby of that church. They had a large family and made quite a settlement on the west bank of the Whitewater. They built a mill on a creek there. John and Hannah Gaby soon arrived and settled west of them up the creek. They had a large family also. Another Dunker arrived there in Daniel Fosher, who had married Marillis Eckel of Virginia. The Whitewater Church was established in their midst, served from the Four Mile. Some of these children began to move west into Fayette County. By the 1830's, many of them are there. Elder John Moyer moved there from the Four Mile before moving on west to Carroll Co. The move was only four miles, a church was established there, the New Bethel Church. The building is still standing, although it no longer serves as a church. It was built on the corner of Daniel Fiant's land. There is a small collection of gravestones on the back of Daniel Fiant's land.
To the south in the fertile Whitewater Valley, at the corner of newly formed Union County, Franklin County and Fayette County, other Four Mile families settled. Several of the children of Isaac Miller, who had stopped with the Webbs in Greene Co. OH (his wife's family) came with the Webbs and Hatfields to the valley bottomland (now flooded by the Brookville Reservoir) and are buried in Sims Cemetary. Michael Kingery had married Elizabeth Webb, they moved out with their family to this area. John Moss moved there after he married Elizabeth (Peckleshimer), widow of David Landis. Blooming Grove is the nearby town.
The Indian Road continued on westward, and northward. In 1809, as a result of the Treaty of Ft. Wayne, the Federal Government made a purchase from the Indians (at least of some, to the dismay of Tecumsah and others). It was called the 12 Mile Purchase. It drew a new line twelve miles west of the Greenville Treaty Line. This included John Conner's Trading Post on the West Branch of the Whitewater (now Connersville) and much of Fayette County. Farther north, along the Indian Road, it ran just east of the West Branch river valley. The settlers did not stop as they saw the fertile valley ahead. They spilled over into the Nettle Creek. This is Hagerstown IN and the Nettle Creek Church.
Tecumsah strove against the encrouching settlers. The frontier was tense for years, through the War of 1812 and beyond. In 1811, William Henry Harrison, governor of Indiana Territory, defeated the Prophet, Tecumsah's brother, in a major battle at Prophet's Town on the Tippecanoe River. The death of Tecumsah at the Battle of the Thames in the War of 1812, finished the Indian threat in Indiana. Indians still traveled through settler lands, but they were no longer a threat to the isolated cabin. In 1818, the Treaty of St. Marys gave most of the Indian Territory to the settlers. Indiana became a state.
There were fertile lands to the west. Young families on the Four Mile had seen these new lands. It was called Wabash Country. They moved there. Tobias Miller, son of Potter John, moved west acrossed the state to Raccoon Creek in Parke County. Then a younger brother was bound out to him, and a sister and her family moved there. Soon all of Potter John's children were in Parke Co. except Minister Daniel and Abraham, who had married a Lybrook girl. Potter John sold his big brick house, and moved to Parke Co. in 1825. (He returned, to Daniel's home, about 20 years later and John and Phoebe are buried in the Kingery Cemetary here.) There must have been a trace from the Four Mile to Parke Co., we have not been able to find it. From Brookville, through Laurel, south of Connersville, Wetzel ran a trace to his lands near Indianapolis, (close to US 52). This may have been their route, but there would still need to be a trace from Indianapolis on to Parke Co. It could have been along the Raccoon in Putnam County, because others from the Four Mile settled there. John Fosher and family moved in 1822. The brothers, Henry Moss (in 1826) and Francis Moss (a few years later), both moved there. The older Elder Daniel Miller moved there in 1830. Thomas Miller, son of Col. John, moved there in 1832. He was elected to the ministry there. This was organized as the Raccoon church, but later became the Ladoga Churches, there were four congregations.*
The major settlement in Wabash Country was farther north. The Indian Road went to Muncytown of the Delawares, several roads went out of Muncytown. One major path went northwest to two main Delaware villages: one near Lafayette, where the Tippecanoe joins the Wabash; the other near Peru, where the Mississenewa joins the Wabash. The paths are together to Kokomo, where the Wild Cat heads due west, and Peru is due north. In the triangle thus formed (Kokomo down the Wild Cat to near Lafayette [Delphi], up the Wabash to Peru, back down to Kokomo), a large number of younger families from the Four Mile were early settlers. Straight north from Muncytown were the Mississinewa and Salamonie Rivers, or Huntington and Wabash towns, next east from Peru on the Wabash River. Other families from the Four Mile settled in this area. Essentially, a large segment of the central Wabash Valley received the younger families of the old Virginia colony. Elder William Moss answered the call from these families, traveling up the Indian Road and making the circle of the triangle, he was their circuit preacher. He could do this since he had a large family with many boys to do the farmwork while he was gone from home. In the process, Elder William Moss helped move families to the area, buying good lands he saw in his travels. His own children bought them from him and moved. Then he moved.
The areas of settlement were first on the Wild Cat, the Bachelor Run church just west of Burlington, and northwest to Flora and Delphi. Elder John Moyer, now calling himself, John Myers, came there in 1834. The church first met in the home of Edmon Moss, Elder William's son. Edmon had gone there in 1832. Benjamin Eikenberry married Catherine Moss and came that year, as did Philip and Sarah Kingery. The list of known families to Carroll County from the Four Mile are: Abraham Kingery, Joseph and Elizabeth Kingery, Jacob and Hannah Kingery, William and Mary Kingery, Christian and Sarah Kingery, Philip and Barbara Moss (1845), Jacob and Elizabeth Moss, Daniel and Eleanor Witter (1852), Benjamin Baltzar and Fanny Witter (1854), Samuel and Nancy Eikenberry, Aaron and Mary Eikenberry, Isaac and Sarah Eikenberry, Joseph and Nancy Eikenberry, John and Delilah Eikenberry, Jacob B and Hannah Landis (1846), Alston and Elizabeth Wyatt, Joseph and Mary Clark, Lewis and Catherine Harter, Lewis and Diana Shideler (1839).
Close by in Howard County were: David and Fanny Lybrook, Daniel and Sarah Brower, Elder Hiel and Nancy Hamilton (1846), Lewis and Diana Shideler (1848). Just east along the Deer Creek in Cass County were: Daniel and Magdalene Lybrook (MD), Joseph and Fanny Ellis, David and Mary Moss, Abraham and Elizabeth Rinehart (1847), David and Magdalene Rinehart (1863), Robert and Sarah Rhea (1854), Canada and Mary Gard (1854), Elder William Smith and Mary Toney, with his elderly parents, James and Sarah Toney, Squire Toney (1866). In 1839 Elder William Moss and his second wife, Mary (Eikenberry) Lybrook, with the Lybrook girls (Elder Baltzar's), moved to Mexico, Miami County. This was up on the Eel River, above the Wabash. Farther east in the Wabash Valley, Daniel and Mary Leedy came in 1841. Following them were: Joseph and Lydia Leedy (1853), Minister John and Lucy Whiteneck (1847), John Morgan and family (wife Barbara Miller was deceased) 1857, and Willis and Sarah McKinny.
About this same time, lands became available in northwest Indiana and adjacent Michigan (it was called Michigan Territory, the Treaty of Chicago). The earliest settlers, Jacob Huston and Squire Thompson, had gone north on the Quaker trace to Ft. Wayne then through the woods to the St. Joseph River. Most of the later settlers went from Miami County on an old Indian path that went north to the Lake, it was called the Michigan Road, going east of the marshes on the Kankakee.
The open prairie land of Michigan Territory made farming much easier for the new settler, he didn't have to clear forest trees off his land. The Portage Prairie Church was established among these families in St. Joseph and LaPorte Counties. Known families that went there were: Jacob and Catherine Huston (c1823), Jacob and Elizabeth Ritter (c1828), Joseph and Susannah Pagin (1829), Elder Aaron Miller (1830), Elder David Miller (1831, both brothers were the ministers of the Nettle Creek Church), William and Mary Miller (1833, see letters ‑Appendix I), Elder Jacob and Sarah Miller (1833), Tobias Miller and family (c1833 -he was a Universalist minister), Jacob and Ann Miller, James and Mary Miller, Daniel and Molly Miller, David and Louisa Miller, Russell and Fanny McCoy, John and Malinda Kingery, James and Nancy Wilson, Jesse Toney and family, Samuel and Catherine Witter (1831), John and Anna Witter (1833), Jacob and Agnes Witter, Samuel and Margaret Ritter, Jacob and Sally Ritter (1832), Thomas and Sarah Cunningham, William and Anna Stanton. North acrossed the state line in Michigan, several local families went to Berrian and Cass Counties, MI: Squire and Charity Thompson (1823 to the old French Fort in Niles, as first settlers), Henry and Hannah Lybrook (1825), John and Sally Ritter (1828), John and Catherine Moss, Benjamin and Elizabeth Price, Jacob and Letitia Ridenour (1832).
There are many more, some left records, many more are unknown. Several of the Kingery's went to the Hamilton/Hancock County area on the Indian path from Muncie down the White River. The Quaker Trace north from Richmond took some families up into Randolph County. Several Toney families went to Illinois. Two sons of Tobias Miller went to Chicago: Samuel and James, were early there and first trustees of the village. After his wife died, Samuel moved to Michigan City, where he went big into the grain shipping business (and for protection of his shipping, he built the historic Michigan City Lighthouse). Edmund Toney's son, John, went first to Missouri, then in 1847 he took the Oregon Trail to the Willemette Valley OR. His young son, William, as an elderly man was interviewed in the newspaper, telling his story (see Appendix II). Squire Thompson was a 49er, but died of Cholera at San Francisco. Samuel and Martha Eikenberry went to Danville IA (1837). He was a 49er. Then they settled in Plattsburg, Nebraska, where Samuel served on the state Constitutional Convention and first legislature. Daniel and Mary Leedy went to Oregon in 1854, he was the first Dunker Minister in the far west. Jesse Toney started out for California as a 49er, but his only son died in southwest Missouri, and he just settled. (His big claim to fame was that he split rails with Abe Lincoln, while he lived in Fulton Co. IL.)
The next major migration of the children of the Four Mile families went to Iowa. In 1855, Elder Daniel and Elizabeth Miller led a settlement to Monroe County, Iowa. It included most of their children. Also in 1855, another migration went to Butler County, Iowa, led by Elder Philip Moss. Some of these went directly from the Four Mile to Iowa, most were already living in Putnam Co., Carroll Co. or St. Joseph Co. Those known to have gone to Monroe County include: David M and Elizabeth Kingery, Reuben and Sarah Moss, David and Elizabeth Moss, Francis and Nancy Moss, John and Mary Moss, Lot and Margaret Moss, Aaron and Elizabeth Moss (?1853), John D and Martha Moss, Martin and Sylvia Eikenberry. Those who went to Butler County were: William and Mary Miller, David and Mary Flora, David and Maria Moss, Aaron and Margaret Moss, Benjamin Baltzar and Fanny Witter, John F and Elizabeth Eikenberry, Benjamin and Catherine Eikenberry. Daniel and Mary Leedy went to Jefferson County in 1849 before going on to Oregon in 1854. Sebert and Jane Toney, and Stephen and Eveline Toney went to Cedar County. David H and Elizabeth Miller (1861) and Martin W and Elizabeth Miller went to Fort Des Moines, and David and Elizabeth Fosher went to nearby Madison County. Several of the Witters just scattered: John and Sally Witter to Council Bluffs, Jacob and Rebecca Witter (1855) to Decatur County, Abraham and Elizabeth Witter (1855) to Delaware County. Other families known to have gone to Iowa, but destination unknown were: Aaron and Evaline Miller (who eventually went to Kansas), Baltzer and Cassandra Eikenberry, Wilson and Maria Cline. There certainly were others, these are the ones we have record about.
The Four Mile families moved out to four major geographic areas: Putnam and Parke Counties in west central Indiana, on the Raccoon Creek; Carroll, Howard, Cass, Miami, Wabash and Huntington Counties in the Wabash Valley of north central Indiana; Michigan Territory: St. Joseph, LaPorte Counties, Indiana, and Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan; then to Monroe and Butler Counties, Iowa. There seems to have been an amazing amount of regular communications between these areas, with hand carried letters and the travel of individuals. This is especially true when it is remembered that railroads were only beginning to connect these areas at the end of the time of this study. All transportation previous to that was by foot, horseback and spring wagon, or moving with the heavy Conestoga style wagons. When Jesse Toney left to go to Fulton County, IL, it is recorded that he had two wagons, with the dog trotting under the back one. The 1851 letter by Clark Miller seems to indicate that it took 3 days to travel from South Bend to the Four Mile. They came by way of Indianapolis, and had "improved roads". Today, with modern cars and pavement it takes about 3 1/2 hours (or less if one speeds).
* There are still many young families unaccounted for, who may have gone to the Raccoon, Wabash Country, Michigan Territory or even Missouri, but moved on before existing records name them. They are currently unlocated.
U. S. Census, 1830 ‑ 1870 (State of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri)
History of the Church of the Brethren in Indiana, 1917, Brethren Press
Correspondence with families!
IX. The Modern Farmers
From the late 1820's to 1860, the Four Mile community was a stable farm community. There was a slow improvement in farming equipment and practices. Home-making practices similarly changed only slightly with some improvements becoming available. There was no sudden explosion of new ideas, people still worked in the same old way.
The typical house was still a log building, but it often was two stories tall, with an enclosed lean-to or even the old cabin on the rear. It was a house, no longer a cabin. It would have three to five rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs. The bigger house would have a main stair case up from the center front door. There would be downstairs and upstairs fireplaces on each end of the front portion of the house. The fireplaces and chimney were laid with stone or fired brick. Specific measurement ratios for the fireplaces made for better heat and cooking. The basic T or L shape architecture was common, the room back of the main front section would be the kitchen, with a large fireplace in back for cooking. There might be a wash room, summer kitchen, behind it, with its own fireplace. The center of the houselife was in the kitchen, from the first activities in the morning, the meals, to the closing of the day. The upstairs rooms were bedrooms: one for the boys, the other for the girls, one of the downstairs rooms would be a bedroom for the parents, the other would be a parlor, or sitting room. It would be the large room that would be used when church services came there. The windows were double sashed, glass. There were shutters to protect the glass from storms. There would be no front porch, although the rear cabin room might have its roof extended as a side porch. Some of these houses were of brick. Potter John's was only the first (of stone). Tobias Miller amd Col John Miller had theirs. Jacob Lybrook had built a smaller brick cabin, before his son-in-law, John Hart, built the big brick house.
Out the back door was the springhouse, where a cool flow of water was guided down troughs in either side, usually deep enough to set a pail of milk and crock of meat, to keep it from spoiling so fast. A flat rock made a shallow place where a dish of butter could rest, and other foods for the kitchen table. The spring-house was the storage for the kitchen, and the cool water was used, since ice was available normally only in the winter. (The old log cabin at Harmon Toney's was insulated with sawdust and made into ice storage for summer use.) Close by was the wood house, where theykept logs and split wood cut for the fireplaces, to keep them dry. (There was no sense in trying to burn wet wood, most of the heat of the fire would be used to driving the moisture out of the wood so it would burn.) Also out back was the necessary. There were chamber pots in each bedroom, but out back was where a person went. It was a long walk at night for a little child, and there were livid visions of all the horror stories that were told: of black widow spiders down in those dark holes, of each creak and crack of noise in the dark outdoors clothed in wild monster skins, of bats that drank blood. Somewhere close by was a buried room, called a fruit cellar or storm cellar. This was covered over with dirt for at least 4 feet, to get it below the ground freezing level. It faced east, with a solid slanting door and steps, the back protected against winter winds. It was dirt floored and stone or log walled with heavy timbers for the ceiling to hold the dirt overhead. A tile lined hole from above allowed fresh air into the room and aided the respiration of the potato spuds in flat bins along one or both walls.
To the side or out back of the house was the barn. The Dunkers were Germans and such were known for their barns, which often outclassed the house. In the barn were horse stalls, one for each horse and likely a couple extra besides. The stall fronted on a walkway, so the farmer could turn to each stall and fill the manger with feed, grain and hay. The stall was bedded with straw kept from the oats and wheat. In back was the gutter, and behind it was a walk space to bring the horses in. The stalls were separated with heavy wood board walls more than head high. A huge Belgian stallion weighed nearly a ton and could throw some frightful force in a lunge at a gelding or mare he wanted to chase. Hanging from the wall behind the stall would be the harness for that particular animal. He would be harnessed in the stall before being led to his work. The harness was made of leather kept supple by regular oiling. The bridle would fit over the head, having a strap behind the ears connecting to straps going over the nose and under the mouth. It held the metal bit. Normally there would be leather flaps called blinders at the eyes to keep the horse from being distracted by motions to the side of it, including other horses. THe reins fastened to the rings at the bit and turned the horse by turning its head. Around its neck at its shoulders was the collar. This was heavy U shaped leather collar which fastened to the traces. The work of the horse was against the collar and pulling through the traces to the single tree (or double tree, if a team was hitched together) of the wagon, plow or work tool. The rest of the harness was formed to permit the horse to pull backward or to hold the traces free, so they would not get tangled in the horse's feet. The collar had to fit correctly and the harness had to be put on right, or it would rub sores, galls, and interfer with work.
The cattle stanchions were across from the horse stalls. Next to the walkway would be a manger for the cattle. Fastened in the edge of the manger would be a chain with rings and a catch. The chain would be looped around a cow's horns to hold her in her place. Each cow learned her own place and normally went to it placidly. There was the occasions when one old bossy decided to tease the boy driving her in, or the other cow, and would stick her head in at another cow's stanchion. It was not infrequent that the offended cow would then turn her large soulful eyes on the master and silently plead for help against the offender. Cattle were not separated by stalls, since normally there were no serious problems between them. This allowed room for the man or boy (sometimes the women) to sit down on a three legged stool (some few balanced on one leg) and milk the cows. Caution, you milk on the cow's right side -or something terrible will happen! A cow can be terribly offended when you do something wrong. She might deliberately place ad dirty hoof in the milk pail (and the pail half full of milk) or even kick you. At some remote location to the cows would be the bull pen. It was a heavy box stall made with timbers, for again, a bull weighed half a ton and more, and he could kill a man. There would be one or more box stalls for calves and young heifers, and another for colts. Taking care of the livestock took up the whole ground floor area. Above was the haymow, it was high, with lots of room for over winter food for the horses and cows (and to let the hay insulate the animals against the cold). One or two shoots opened through from the mow into the walkway below for ease in pitching hay down to the animals. A sloped drive up to big doors allowed hay wagons to be pulled up into the mow (pronounced as in "how") for easy mowing-back of the hay. Enough hay had to be stored to feed the animals all winter. Outside strawstacks were common and some made outside haystacks, but much feed would be lost due to rain causing mold and rot. A good farmer mowed his hay. Mowed hay had to be dry in the field before it was brought in. Moisture in hay caused it get hot and even smoke, and barns were burned from the fires that ensued. Letting the hay dry in the field had its hazards, rain on cut hay caused loss of nutrition. Please Lord -No more than one rain on good hay.
While earlier sheds had been log buildings, these used pegged beams with sawmill siding. (Iron nails were not that plentiful, and too costly when they could be had.) Somewhere close was a corncrib, just a log building built with saplings, spaced apart for air flow. Corn fed the family and the hogs.
The horses were important to the farm. There were the huge draft horses, which did the heavy work, one team, maybe two, and some even had three. One farmer worked out a smart system with his three teams. One team plowed the length of the field, then he fastened them to the fence to blow, while he hitched up a team he had already brought there to plow back the length of the field. Again, he fastened them to the fence to rest and blow, while he hitched up the third team to plow back the length of the field. At that end the first team had had enough time, so a trade was again made, back and forth acrossed the field till it was done, or the day was done, which ever came first. This was an improvement over the normal plowing, which had to allow the team to rest at each end of the field and went considerably slower. These horses were big. It was according to personal preference, but the Toneys talked of Belgians, and the Mosses remember their Percheons. Then, those that could, there were the riding horses, often a team to pull the spring wagon or surrey. These were lighter horses, lots of people liked the Morgan, and it could work, like harrowing.
In the earlier days the cattle were for milk. A farmer might have as many as 5 cows for milk, cream and butter, and cheese. A couple steers might be trained to yoke as oxen, if heavy pulling were necessary. A team of horses will not pull as much as a yoke of oxen. The ox will just lay himself into the work, slow and steady and unstoppable. A horse will jerk and heave if it is too heavy. Pulling logs out of the woods was work for a yoke of oxen. The oxen could pull a heavy conestoga wagon west far longer than teams of horses. They pulled slower, however. The trains that crossed the plains were at ox speed, and even children could walk that fast.
Hogs were the thing. They roamed the woods, eating the beech mast, acorns, and rooting food out of the ground. Hogs were cash when driven to Cincinnati, or now, often butchered and packed in barrels: hams, sides and slabs of bacon. For Cincinnati and down the river to New Orleans, or for the family at home. Elizabeth Miller's letter tells how hogs were driven past their place all summer, for Cincinnati. Brother Benjamin made many trips with his hogs, buying hogs to drive. The Boston Pike was a regular route for the Upper Four Mile. The Inn at Fair Haven was built with the drovers in mind. The Middle Four Mile was spanned by a double covered bridge there. A drover would gate off the far end of the one span, drive on his herd, and gate off the near end. Then spend the night at the Inn. Travelers could use the other span. As mentioned previously, the towns were spaced down the pike about a days drive apart. Jacob Ridenour was one destination in Cincinnati. He ran a butchershop, fresh meat from upcountry. The kin knew they could get a fair price from him. There was variety to his meat, driven with the hogs were geese and turkeys. (No chickens are mentioned, guess they are just too dumb.)
Barnyard fowl nested in the trees; guinea hens, chickens, geese, turkeys and ducks, all the common barn fowl. Later special buildings were built for them, after the family got tired of chasing down the almost wild birds to search for eggs, or to catch one for the pot. Then wings were clipped so they couldn't fly the coop, and they had to be fed and shut up for the night, because a weasel or skunk or other varmits found a liking for these accessible meals. There were cats to keep out the mice and rats, and dogs for protection and hunting and watching the little children.
Work still went by the seasons. For the men, winter was a time to get into the woods to cut next year's firewood, and to get out timbers to season and cut for lumber to build and repair. This might be planned to clear more farmland, for a new field. The ax, crosscut saw and mattock were the main tools, men and boys down to about 10 or 12 could handle these. Snow melted and soaked through gloves, fingers and toes got cold, so cold you couldn't feel them. But hard work took care of that, it stirred up the circulation and even kept your hands warm. Firewood warmed you twice, once while you cut it, and once again while you burned it. It took a lot of firewood to heat the house and cook. Cooking went on year round, so firewood was used even in the summer, and was cut in the winter. A lot of sweetening came from maple syrup, and that took days of constant outdoor fire or in the sugar house, during February. That meant days of firewood. A team of horses, or yoke of oxen, would snake in the logs from the woods. It would slide in the snow easier than on bare dirt. Once up to the house, it could be left for later cutting to fireplace lengths and split and corded. Corded wood is wood stacked in a row. A cord of wood is still considered to be 4 feet high, 8 feet long, and 4 feet deep (the length of a typical fireplace log; a rick is stove wood, about 16 inches long, three ricks to a cord). That work could be done when it was too bad out to do anything else. Winter was also the time to repair harness, and any broken tools. A good farmer had a wood working shop and a small blacksmithy which he knew how to use. These were hand tools, saw, planes, augers and drills, draws, and chisels for wood, an anvil with its various hammers and pliars, and the forge for metal. Winter was a good time to cut fence rails for the snake fences in common use. A man alone could cut to length and split about 150 rails a day, two men with a cross cut saw could get about 400 a day. These were smaller logs, cut to about 12 feet and split to 4 rails, or such, from each log. Again, they were stacked and allowed to season before use.
February brought the first warmer winds and maybe even a thaw. Then maple sap would run, and everything had to be ready. Trees were tapped by augering a hole through the trunk into the sapwood and a hollowed elderberry branch would be pounded into it, and stick out 4 to 6 inches. A pail of about 2 gallons would hang on this spout and the maple sap would drip into the bucket. Sap would be collected every morning in a barrel or tank hauled around on a sled by the horse. It was very thin and watery, it needed to be boiled down to make maple syrup and even farther to make maple sugar. The sugar house was roofed over a large fireplace sometimes with walls, with one or more pans above the fire. These pans were relatively shallow, maybe up to one foot deep and the fire under them was kept even and low, so it did not scorch or burn the sugar or syrup. For the same reason it took constant stirring. Thirty gallons of water had to be boiled off to get one gallon of syrup. (Caution: DON'T do it inside ones house!) A scum forms on top of the sugar water, of trash and foreign materials, it is skimmed off and discarded. Children thrilled to go to the sugar bush. Occasionally theres a special treat, someone would intentionally throw some sugar water out onto the snow, where it would freeze into candy for the children. Maple Syrup season signaled the start of the summer work year.
During the winter the farmer had readied the ground. The garden and fields received a covering of manure (fertilizer). The stables in the barn had to be cleaned out daily. The gutter caught most of the liquid manure, with the straw bedding soaking up the rest. During the bad days, manure and bedding from the horse stalls, cattle stanchions and pens were pitched outside the barn (on the side away from the house) onto a pile. There it was allowed to compost into a topdressing fertilizer. (At the bottom of the manure pile, could be found white nodules of saltpeter, or potasium nitrate, the basis of black gunpowder.) When the weather became suitable, the manure pile was hauled out to the field and scattered. A team of horses would pull a box wagon that was solely dedicated to hauling manure. In the winter it might have sled runners replacing the wheels. A manure fork was made with four or five tangs, instead of the three used in the hay fork. Horse and cattle manure could be applied directly to the fields, hog dung was not as available since they usually roamed free in the woods, when it was used lime and gypsum needed to be added. Wood ashes were added to sandy soil, but there wasn't much of that around here. Bone dust helped make good fertility and was scattered acrossed the field before harrowing.
Planting could be started while the snow was still on the ground. Red Clover seed would be broadcast on the wheat ground so that the repeated thaw and freeze would help plant it. Timothy seed might be mixed with the clover so that a more bulky feed would be obtained and to help hold the ground after the wheat was cut. Timothy-clover hay was a good horse feed. Clover alone would do for cattle.
The garden was plowed as soon as the ground was dry enough. The oats field had been plowed the fall before and left lay fallow over winter, it was planted (broadcast by hand) as soon as the ground was dry enough to walk on.
The corn field was next. It was the previous year's hay field, or more often, the hay field had been left one year as a pasture, now the pasture was plowed under. Turning plows were used, as opposed to the shovel plow, or breaking plow. A turning plow cut the soil loose in a furrow and turned it nearly upside down, putting manure, the old hay stubble, weeds and trash under ground, where they would decompose and seeds not grow. The shovel plow, or breaking plow, was more crude, simply being a V shaped blade pulled through the ground. It loosened the soil and broke it up. At first there was only the choice between two turning plows in this area. The Old Colony Strong Plow had an iron share to cut down into the ground and an iron bar (coulter) that was sharp in front of the wooden molboard to cut the soil. Iron straps covered the molboard to give it longer life. The share and coulter had to be sharpened each winter before spring plowing, and in the heavy clay soil of the Four Mile, might need resharpening during the plowing season. The Old Colony Strong Plow was heavy. It had a 10 ft. beam and the landside of the share was 4 ft. long. It weighed about 300 lbs. It took a man's full strength to guide it behind a team of horses, and to lift it out of the soil in order to make the return across the field. The Carey Plow was lighter built and much easier to handle. It had a wrought iron share with the coulter combined with the share, running up the front of the molboard. The molboard was still wood, with iron straps to protect it and give it some lifetime of use. Both plows were made of wood, with iron added, except for the share and coulter. There was some hesitancy to use these plows among some people, since it was considered that cast iron poisoned the soil. Plowing was a slow and hard job. It was hard on the ribs, back, and neck, and on the team. This was where the heavy weight of the Clydsdales, Belgians and Percheons was needed. The fields were not as large as today, normally only 10 to 20 acres in size. Even with this, a team could only pull a plow once acrossed the field before they needed to rest. With the Old Colony Strong Plow, the farmer needed the rest as bad as his team. Once both caught their breath, then a return trip was made. The plow share turned the soil to the right, so plowing was done in such fashion that the turned soil fell into the furrow of the previous trip. The first crossing of the field was in the middle of the chosen area to be plowed and threw the turned dirt onto bare ground, and the return to it was clockwise, to the right, across the freshly turned soil and back toward it. Further trips simply moved a furrow-width to the left and threw into the previous furrow. Usually a field was divided into several lands, areas of plowing, so that the ends were not so long to have to cross. This did leave some dead furrows in the field, where harrowing still left as dips. It also left an unplowed strip at the edge of each field. This became a sanctuary for wild birds and animals, for nesting and burrows. There grew the wild raspberries or blackberries, for summer fruit and refreshment. About 1840, the Peacock Plow was developed and built at Cincinnati. It had a wrought iron share, and a cast iron molboard. Wrought iron does not rust, or at least very slowly, cast iron does not have any protection so the Peacock Plow had a painted molboard. The paint scaped off during plowing and it had to be continually repainted. In 1845 the Richmond Steel plow was manufactured. (Richmond is just 8-10 miles north of the Upper Four Mile.) This made a much lighter plow and considerably stronger, for those willing to plow with iron and steel. ("Iron will poison the soil!")
Plowing left the field rough and bumpy. It had to be harrowed. The early harrows were simply a forked branch of a tree with the limbs cut off so that they projected downwards about 10 inches. A single horse could pull this across the field, so it was a faster job. It leveled the soil and broke it up finer. Of course, pulling the wood limbs through the soil quickly wore them out and left short stubs in many places. A branch harrow only lasted one season, or maybe one field. Soon the A-frame harrow was developed. It was a timber V, pointed together at one end with a cross brace to hold it apart at the other. Holes were augered in it and hickory spikes were driven through the timbers reaching into the ground below. The hickory spikes could more easily be replaced. Seasoned hickory was very hard and did not wear fast. The timbered A-frame also allowed the farmer to stand on the harrow and ride, and not have to walk behind. And that put more weight on the harrow which did more leveling and worked the soil better. Later iron spikes were used in the A-frame. These were crafted by a blacksmith and were normally an inch or so thick and a foot long.
With the field plowed and harrowed, corn could be planted. Corn planting started about the middle of May. First the field was cross checked. A horse pulled sled had runners at 42 inches. The sled was pulled acrossed the field with a marker riding out to the side where the return should be. This left even marked rows acrossed the field, every 42 inches, two rows at a time since the sled had two runners. Then the sled was pulled the length of the field, or vice versa, giving a cross-hatched pattern to the field. Corn was planted at each crossing. A dibble stick was used to punch a hole in the ground and usually 5 grains of corn were dropped in the hole.
"One for the blackbird, one for the crow,
One for the cut-worm, two left to grow."
This was done by the girls and women, who were followed by the boys with hoes to cover up the hole. A crew of 5 could plant about 8 acres a day (One man and horse to mark, two droppers and two coverers). During the 1850's a wooden corn planter was developed, basically similar to those still in use today. Two hoppers for seed corn were mounted, each with a tube down to a metal shovel. The shovels were spaced 42 inches apart, as were the wheels behind, which were made to throw dirt and cover the seed as they rolled over it. The apparatus was mounted like a cart and pulled by a horse. A man or boy rode the planter and as each cross-check was crossed, he threw a hand lever which allowed 3 to 5 grains of corn to drop into the ground at that point. He had to be alert or his cross-checked corn rows would wiggle acrossed the field, and the man later cultivating would have problems keeping out of the row of corn. When the corn was up about 6 inches, it would be dragged with the harrow, with the center spike removed, to straddle the corn row. This knocked out most starting weeds. Then a half forkful of composted manure would be layed around each hill. Cultivating was done about every 10 days to 2 weeks all summer, with hoeing in between. The cultivator was pulled by a single horse, between the rows. The cultivator was a multiple shovel plow, either three shovels or five of small size, each about 4-6 inches acrossed. They were mounted on an A-frame similar to the harrow, but much smaller and lighter. The cultivator had a pair of handles for the farmer to use to quide it. The farmer or his son, walked behind and swung the cultivator to get all the weeds. The corn was cross-checked so that once through cultivating in one direction, it could be cultivated at right angles, to get even more of the weeds.
Once the corn was in and up, maybe even having its first cultivation, the hay field was ready to cut. It was June. Hay cutting was done with the scythe. It was tiresome work, since the mowing scythe required the farmer to bend over so it would make the cut level with the ground. He would swing the scythe blade and cut a swath about 6 feet wide. One man could cut about one acre a day of Timothy and Red Clover. He would get about one ton of hay per acre. He would need twenty to thirty tons of hay to feed his cattle and horses over winter. Even then he needed to suppliment their feed with turnips and corn fodder. A man needed grown sons to help in haying or neighbors worked together. One man would take lead, then the another would cut the next swath some 15 feet behind him and the next, etc. A young son would carry cold spring water to the hot and sweaty men. But many hands make light work. (See why Baltzer Lybrook was died young, with only daughters?) The mowed hay was allowed to lay and dry in the field. It needed to be raked at least once, so it would be turned over to dry the underneath side. Then it was forked into shocks or doodles and pitched onto a wagon and hauled to the barn, hopefully with no rain falling on it. In the barn, the hay was mowed back to the far corners of the haymow, by the time haying was finished it would fill the haymow to the roof. Mowing back hay was a hot sweaty job, seemingly always done by young boys. A minimum of climbing over already mowed hay was demanded, since compacting it by stepping on it caused it to heat up more. Sometimes a second cutting of the hay field was done later in the summer, although the Red Clover had to be allowed to go to seed, to obtain seed to plant next spring. The familiar horse drawn, sickle cutter bar mower was developed in its original form in the 1850's. Whether it was used by some of the progressive farmers on the Four Mile is unknown.
The end of June brought the Wheat harvest. The crop was golden and the heads hung over. It was ripe. This was a community job. Again farmers worked together from one farm to the next, according to whose field was ripe first. The wheat was cut with a cradle scythe or grain cradle. Five to twelve men worked as a team. Two men with cradles needed two binders and one shocker. The cradle scythe was a scythe which caught the cut grain and its straw on a cradle of sticks. Then he dumped on the ground at the end of a swing. As the harvester walked on cutting his swath of wheat, his binder followed behind, picking up the small bundles of wheat and collecting them together with all heads the same direction. Then a few stalks of wheat would be twisted together into a rope and bound around the bundle of wheat to hold it together. The next harvester would pass and his binder, then a shocker would follow, picking up the bundles of wheat and stacking them together in a shock, heads up. A final bundle would be laid over top of the shock to protect it against possible rain. At each end of the field, a young boy brought cool water to the working men. A good harvester could cut about 3 acres a day. A team of 5 men could cut and shock about 5 acres a day. Wheat harvest was about 10 days long, beyond that a storm could be expected, or the grain would drop to the ground, there would be considerable loss. The average yield was about 18 to 20 bushels per acre. Wheat Harvest usually brought the women and families together as much as the men. The women would cook at home, bring their food and load the dinner table for their hungry husbands. Morning and mid-afternoon snacks could be pies and buttermilk.
Mid July and into August was the Oats harvest, done similarly to the Wheat. Once the cutting, binding and shocking was done, then thrashing took place. Mostly the grain was trodden out on a clean floor by the horses feet, some of course was lost, but the grain was knocked out of its head. Then the straw was separated out and pitched on a stack for winter bedding. The grain and chaff, the remnants of the head and broken straw, dirt and other trash, was winnowed. The normal way was for the grain and chaff to the pitched up into the air and let a breeze blow the lighter chaff away from the grain, which would fall directly down. Several winnowings would result in fairly clean grain. It was not normal for God in Heaven to give the farmer a breeze when he needed it for winnowing his grain, so an artificial breeze was created by the women whipping a blanket up and down to blow away the chaff. By the 1840's, several mechanical devices became available to help harvest the wheat. One was called the Groundhog Thresher, which was a mechanical flail, or multiple whips which whirled around and beat the shocks of wheat. The grain would fall through a grating or sieve and be practically free from chaff. It was driven by a horse powered belt. A horse would be driven in a circle, pulling the far end of a sapling stick. The near end was fastened to a pulley which was belted to the Thresher. A similar horse driven Separator was developed. It consisted of a rotating fan with the grain poured in a hopper on top and as it fell through the sieves, the wind created by the fan blew the chaff away. The harvested grain would be stored in a grainery, lead lined wooden bins, with hinged lids that rats and mice could not get into.
Clover is a perennial, and even though it was earlier cut for hay, it grows back up and forms a full plant again. Sometimes this gave a second hay cutting, a reduced crop would be accepted the second time. Normally the farmer allowed the Red Clover to bloom and go to seed. The seed would be harvested by cutting the hay and letting it dry in the field, but this time treating it somewhat as the grain crops, by knocking the minute clover seeds out of the dried blossoms and storing them for next years planting. The clover plant, now dry, did form a reasonable hay crop, but far from equal to the first crop. This harvest came in early September.
Once the oats was harvested its field would be plowed to plant winter wheat. Winter Wheat would be planted in the fall and would grow to about 3-5 inches tall before freeze and snow would arrive. It would then sit dormant during the winter, until the spring thaw let it start growing again. Colder winters farther north did not allow this approach. This permitted the farmer to do plowing in both the spring and the fall, instead of all his plowing in the limited springtime work season. Wheat planting was late in the fall, after the first freeze killed the flies. If it was planted too early, so that the plants were up before the flies were killed, they would lay their eggs in the young wheat stalk and their weavels would infest the future wheat plants and crop. Since Squaw Winter came right near the end of September, and Indian Summer followed during early October, that was a good time to plant, just at Squaw Winter, so the plant would come up in time to get good growth during Indian Summer. As long as the season followed the normal pattern, a farmer was allright. Sowing was done broadcast. Once the ground was prepared: plowed and harrowed, then the farmer walked his field, carrying a sack of seed, out of which he dipped handfulls of the seed and slung them across the ground such that they fell uniformally over the field. Then the field was harrowed to plant the seeds. A later improvement on this placed a tube out of the bottom of the sack which the farmer swung back and forth, broadcasting the seed as it fell from the sack into the tube. The tube was shaped so that it would cast a uniform fall of seed, and some control was available for the amount of seed that would fall into the tube.
Late September and October was corn harvest. The ears of corn were harvested for their grain, and the partially dried stalk and leaves were cut to make fodder. The corn stalks were cut near the ground and bound into bundles which leaned against each other to form shocks. These were massive enough that they could stay in the field until snow if necessary. Since pumpkins were frequently planted on the edges of the corn field, the familiar picture of fall harvest of the corn shocks with pumpkins laying by is seen here. The shocks of corn were hauled into the barn by wagon, there the ears were shucked off the stalks and the stalks layed aside as fodder. The ears were stored in a corn crib. This was an open air shed, made with saplings or small logs, with the spaces between the logs left open to allow the air to dry out the ears of corn. This could store the corn all winter. The husks would hide weavels and worms which would destroy the ear. If the husks were removed, the open ear would store easily. So following the shucking of the corn a husking bee would follow with fun and ribaldry for the youth. It was said that if you found a red ear of corn, you could kiss the fair maiden seated beside you. Both sexes were choosy as where they sat at the husking bee. At the husking bee, a husking peg let you strip the husks off the ear of corn without too considerable damage to fingers. The dry leaves of corn and husks of the ear were very sharp and will quickly cut a finger or hand. By 1840 there were horse driven mechanical corn shellers.
A four year rotation of crops was followed on many farms. Calling the Corn crop as the first year, it was plowed or harrowed in the fall for planting to Oats as soon as spring thaw would allow planting. This was the second year crop harvested in July. It was plowed and planted to Winter Wheat late that fall, which became the third year crop the next year. Snow might still be on the ground when Red Clover and Timothy were seeded in the Wheat. After the wheat was cut, the clover might be pastured some, but it was allowed to grow overwinter as the fourth year crop of Hay and then Clover Seed. This was plowed the following spring for planting to Corn.
The farmer's work consisted of more than crop planting and harvest. Potter John Miller had brought the starts of a whole orchard with him which grew around his brick house clear to the end of the 19th century. Records do not tell exactly what he brought, but the common orchards of this area included several kinds of apples, apricots, cherries, plums, grapes and mulberries. Early apples made pies and butter. These included Early Harvests, Summer Greens, Red & Yellow Junes, and Sweet Bows. Late season apples could be stored in the apple barrel or apple cellar. (Apples must be stored in open air, away from other stored fruit and vegetables, especially potatoes, or they rot fast.) These included the Winesap, Baldwin, Russet, and Northern Spy. Other apples were the Grimes Golden Pippen and Myers Nonpareil. Cherries included the Knights Early Black. THe Downings Everbearing Mulberry was common. Slips from the branches of Potter John's fruit trees were undoubtedly force rooted and became the beginnings of other orchards around, as would those from others who brought fruit starts with them. Wild grapes, blackberries and raspberries could be found in the forest and along the fencerows. Fruit was readily available and a vital ingrediant of the normal diet.
To pollinate the fruit and clover, the Toney's tell of hives of bees kept back in the orchard. Bees meant honey. Hives stand for smokers to get the honeycomb out of the hives, without getting stung too bad, and extractors to get the honey out of the honeycomb. Some honey must be left in the hive to allow the bees to live overwinter and produce another year, so only part is removed. These were not our modern box hives, but the old basket hive, which is much harder to access since the hive is all one unit inside the up-turned basket.
When cold weather had arrived, by November, came butchering. The large families required considerable meat, and hogs were a ready source. About 12 hogs were butchered for the winter, on occasion a family would butcher a beef cow. Getting a hog ready for butchering started about 2 to 3 weeks ahead of the planned time. The hogs would be driven in out of the woods to a barn lot where they would be fattened some with corn. The day of butchering started early and everyone was involved, lots of hot water would be required and kettles of water were sat over outdoor fires. Wood tripods were made, standing about 8 feet tall, each having a pair of hooks. The hogs were normally shot in the head to kill them and immediately hung up on the hooks by their rear feet (tendon). Their necks would be cut to drain the blood out of the meat. The blood was saved to make bloodworst, which was packed in the cleansed stomach sack. The hog carcus would then be lowered into a barrel of boiling water, the barrel was tilted some to be more accessible. Once the hog was scalded, the skin was scraped with knives to remove the tough hairs. The hog was then raised back up on the tripod and gutted. The heart and liver meats were set aside. The guts were washed clean and laid aside to later be stuffed as sausage. The head was cut off, and all meat was scraped off the skull along with neck meat to make head pudding. This was cooked in a crock and sealed with lard, it would keep a long time. Jowl meat and the lower legs made souse, which was preserved similarly. The shoulders, hams and sausage were hickory smoked in the smoke house. Some was sugar cured and hung up in the attic for weeks before it was fully preserved. The middlings became bacon and chops which were sometimes smoked or salt cured. Sausage was made by grinding together all the trimmings and miscellaneous meats left over from everything else. It was stuffed in the cleaned guts and smoked. All fat was kept to be rendered into lard. The knuckles, back, ribs and soup bones were used immediately, although the soup bones might be readied for cooking with soup beans out of the garden. Everything in the hog was used.
Heifer calves were kept to increase the herd, or sold to a neighbor. Bull calves might be kept for a yoke of oxen, but often were castrated and raised for meat. If they were raised for veal, they would be allowed to milk feed all summer, long past normal weaning. They were not fed over winter, but grass fed and butchered late in the fall at hog butchering time. Sometimes an old cow might be butchered, because she was no longer productive. On occasion there might be a cow that was injured and needed to be killed, and so was butchered. Beef was not a normal table meat. The calf or cow was skinned before cutting it up. There were only a few of the steak cuts made, because storage was a problem. Liver, brains, mountain oysters, and other delicacies were quickly used. Bones were cooked to get the marrow and gelatin out of them, which was stored in crocks. Some beef was dried. Some was cut into slices which were fried down into crocks and preserved with a tallow covering. The trimmings were ground with seasonings and stuffed into the cleaned guts to make summer sausage. It was kept in a cool place without smoking, and the longer it kept, the more its seasoning worked on the meat for better taste. Beef tallow might be used in soap making, but some was kept to grease wagon wheels, since it was coarser fibred than hog lard.
There was always some work that needed done. From preparing the land, to planting it, to weeding, to harvest, one job would be scarcely done, and the next was ready to start. In between there was repair of damaged and broken tools, and building of new ones. A rainy day only meant that the planned activities were delay, and there were all kinds of little jobs that had been put off before, that now was the ideal time to work on them. The farmer's work was hand labor, with the help of old Dobbin. It was hard physical work and when the day was done, he was tired. He knew what he had accomplished and could feel pride in his work, but he knew that the next day was coming fast.
X. The Housewife
The houses of the mid 1800's were considerably improved over those of their parents. They were larger, made more comfortable and tighter. Log houses still were caulked, but some of them were sawmill sided, which tightened up the outside so wind cracks were nearly eliminated. Potter John Miller and Baltzer Lybrook were not the only ones with brick houses. A brick house was nearly wind proof, if cracks around doors and windows were sealed correctly, and they were. They were lighter inside with more windows and good glass in the windows. The doors were hung with metal hinges and in door frames. They closed easily and tightly. They had metal latches frequently with door knobs and key locks. The floors were finished oak or poplar, and could be polished to a shine. There were inside staircases, with banisters in finished walnut. Much inside finished lumber was walnut, including built-in cabinets. The furniture was much improved. Nice furniture had been brought out from the east by some of the families, but local cabinetmakers made good furniture, and even better could be obtained at Cincinnati. There were cherry, oak and walnut beds, clothes closets and chests of drawers, kitchen cabinets, pie safes, tables, chairs and benches. It was finished work, varnished or at least hand waxed. There were other improvements, as noted in Elizabeth Miller's letter to Mary Miller on September 15, 1846, that they had gotten a cooking stove, since the new fireplace smoked too badly. Commonly all cooking was done in the kitchen fireplace with its heat from the open fire and the inconvenience of cranes and pot hangers. The cook stove had a flat cooking surface at a normal standing level. The heat could be adjusted by placing pots farther acrossed the stove from the firebox or adjusting the damper to reduce the flame. It had a built in oven with the flame going around the outside for more even heat and cooking. If a pot needed to be set directly on the flame, a lid could be removed and its opening would fit the rounded bottom of dutch oven or the old kettles. Cast iron skillets could sit directly on top of the cook stove. Most homes had fired china to eat from, with the same or "company" china for guests. Potter John had only been the first, now good chinaware could be obtained from Cincinnati at a reasonable cost. There were tableware, metal knives, forks and spoons, often a matched pattern with a black wooden handle.
Despite the improvements, women's work had not changed much. Women were responsible for preparing the food for the family and providing them with their clothing, tending the house. If "man worked from sun to sun, women's work was never done"! It was a never ending process, even if one discounted the regularly arriving baby in the family, and sickness and injury, and young children that took regular tending.
Monday was wash day. Kettles of water were heated, outdoors, or maybe in a back room in the house. They might hang on a crane in the fireplace, or stand over the open outdoor fire, or there might be a modern stove in that back room just for wash water. One kettle received shavings of soap (lye soap) which were stirred into the water for washing. There might only be a stone or tree trunk for scrubbing the wash against to try to get rid of the dirt. But some had a new-fangled washboard that husband had made for them that could be used inside the house and not make much mess. (The "antique washboard" of today was far in the future for these women. Although it was a manufactured version of what was already in use in their home.) It took a lot of pounding and rubbing to get the dirt out, then rinsing and washing and pounding and rubbing some more. There were many loads of wash with the many members of the family, and the men's clothing was normally filthy with dirt and sweat. Also, lye water did not help keep ones hands soft and pretty. Evening of washday, the hands of the women were nearly as red as their tempers. A load was washed clean and rinsed clean of the lye soap, it was hung up to dry. Pray that wash day was sunny out, so clothes could be hung outdoors to dry, even if it was freezing out there. When storm clouds rolled, wash was hung on ropes strung all over the kitchen, and back room, and upstairs, and on the banisters, and even on the edge of the table. That made a hot mess, because the fires had to be heated up so that the clothes could all dry before the men came in from their work, or there would be no place for them. After they were dry, the clothes were folded up for ironing the next day.
Tuesday was ironing day. There was no such thing as "drip-dry", these were lindsey-woolsey, and they had to be ironed, even the towels and washrags. It was another hot day, since the flat irons were heated in the fireplace, or on the stove. The handles were nearly as hot as the irons, and even through hot pads they burnt your hands. You couldn't just stop when it hurt, because a hot iron would scorch a shirt or even burn a hole in it. A scorched spot would wear through fast. The iron had to be hot, or it didn't iron the clothe, so when it cooled down some, it had to be put back in the fire to reheat, and to keep busy, there was another flat iron already hot and waiting. There were short-legged ironing boards which sat on top of the kitchen table. Some had to lay clothes down on the kitchen table and iron directly on it, but the shaped ironing board was readily available, even if homemade. Once the clothes were ironed, they could be folded and put away.
Wednesday was mending day. The biggest constant job was keeping the family in clothes. An immediate part was repairing the holes in useable clothes. That could be sewing patches over holes in the knees of pants or elbows of shirts. Patching cloth came from older discarded clothes, (nothing was thrown away until there was no use left in it), or it could come from small remnants of new material, pieces small enough that nothing whole could be made out of it. These same pieces were saved to be cut up for quilts and comforters. Holes in socks were darned over a darning last, since it was usually the heels or toes that went out. The major job in clothing was making new clothes. This started with the raw hemp for the linen and shearing the sheep for the wool.
Flax or hemp was broken between rollers at the first business where College Corner eventually was built. A horse pulled a pole around a circle, which tuned a log roller, another pair of rollers pressed against it and were turned by it. They were both on the same side of the driven roller so any rigid reeds put into it were broken passing around the driven roller. (This same method pressed the molassas out sorghum plants.) The broken flax was then soaked in water until it rotted. The thin fibres that did not rot were removed (called scrutching), cleaned (hackling) and spun into flax and linen thread. The small spinning wheel was for flax and linen. Coarse fibres were the flax and made tow, fine fibers made a thin white thread and were linen. The thread was wound up on bobbins. It was quite a skill to spin the thread to a constant size, but for weaving cloth, it was a basic requirement.
The sheep were sheared in the spring, to get their heavy coat off them for the summer, it would fall out anyway, and to get wool for cloth. Shearing was done with a heavy hand cutter, a type of sissors (not everyone owned wool shears). A good shearer could cut the whole wool coat off in one piece, and shear as many as 20 or even 30 a day. The sheep seemed very happy to be free of their heavy winter coat, even the old ewes frisked around like little lambs. It was funny to watch a big old ram, with his long horns, gamboling over the barnyard pasture. Then really started the work. The oil in the wool was washed out down by the creekbank. Then all the trash had to be hand picked out of it, the burrs and twigs. Then it was carded. Two hand paddles, with many small nails in each, were pulled against each other, with snatches of wool in between, forcing all the hairs to line up together, it would end up as long fluffy rolls, all nearly even in size. This was an endless task. The big spinning wheel was used to make wool yarn or finer wool thread, and this seemed endless, also. A spinning wheel consisted of a large (or smaller) wheel that was kept running by pumping a treadle below. A cord or belt from it drove a small spinnerett wheel, the axle of which came to a point. It was this point that caught the wool and twisted it into thread. When one length of thread was spun, it was wound on the spinnerett bobbin and brought back to the point to twist the next length of thread. The spinnerett spun very fast, being so much smaller than the driving wheel, so it was an exacting art to make the even thread that most matrons produced. The yarn was dyed and wound off the reel into skeins or hanks or balls. It was used for knitting and weaving.
Every house had its spinning wheels, and its loom. A loom is a frame, on which the bobbins are threaded to form a parallel warp. Two (or more) frames of eyelets are mounted so that each even thread goes through the eyelets of one frame, the odd threads go between the eyelets of the first frame, and through the eyelets of the second (the even similarly go between the eyelets of the second). These frames are mounted so that one will raise while the other lowers, controlled by foot treads. Thus alternate threads are raised, forming a space between them, through which a bobbin of thread or yarn is passed leaving a thread at right angles to the warp (called the woof). A heavy bar with a grill mounted on it so each thread goes through its own slot in the grill, then is swung so that it pounds this new thread against those previously woven into the new cloth. The frames are switched so the opposite threads are raised and lowered, the bobbin is pushed through in the reverse direction, and another thread is laid, pounded against the cloth, and repeated again for each thread in the cloth, for every garment made in the house. The new cloth is wound around a roller as more is made, until the desired amount is woven. Then the individual threads of the warp are tied off and cut loose from their bobbins. Care must be taken to keep the edges of the new cloth tight, but not so tight that it pulls the edge out of line. Care must also be taken to keep the threads pounded to about the same tightness, not looser once and tighter again another.
Several types of cloth were woven according to the need. Men's work clothes, pants and shirts, were woven of coarse flax tow. They were tougher against wear in the hard outdoor work. A combination of linen and wool, linsey-woolsey, made a warm durable everyday fabric for the family. The warp threads were linen and the woof was wool. The heavy coats and good clothes were made entirely of wool, wool flannel. A dye pot, with a heavy lid, made a stool for the children. A family might only dye their cloth one or two main colors. Whole cloth was dyed a solid color, there was no reasonable way to make patterns. Common colors were a medium or dark blue, a grey, a chestnut or dark brown. Bright colors took extra time and special dyeing. The family didn't have the time. The woven cloth was good, fairly heavy and lasted well, it had too, because the chores of the home were heavy on the women, so what they did, they did good enough it did not have to be repeated soon. It was common sense, but it later was called the Christian Work Ethic. It was because of the work of cloth weaving that rugs and curtains were considered to take excess labor and thus were frivolous, and in later years were forbidden by the church as worldly. The same held true for men's neckties, collars on shirts and blouses, any extra fringes and lace, and bright colors or patterns in cloth.
The men normally made the shoes, around the fire on winter evenings. They were made of cowhide, with cut soles and shaping the uppers on a wooden last. The uppers were sewn together, then sewn to the soles. Moccasins were made of tanned hides, cut and sewn together. When the weather was reasonable the children, and frequently adults, went barefoot. When the cows had been out in the pasture overnight, and frost was on the ground, it was then that a barefoot boy would stand in the warm spots where the cows had lain, to watch the cows head barnward, before he would chase after them again.
The rural church Thursday Ladies Aid with its quilting, came directly from the custom of setting some Thursdays aside, especially in the winter, for a group of the women and older girls, neighbors, kin, church friends, to work on the quilting frames. A quilting frame is a pair of rounded pieces of wood, some 6 ft. long, mounted on a cross frame so they could be adjusted tight, and held up by saw horses or special supports on each corner. The women sat around it, each working on that section nearby. The scraps of cloth were cut into a pattern shape and sewn together in a color pattern into blocks about a foot to a side. These blocks were sewn together, again in a color pattern, into a quilt or comforter top, the size needed for a bed. Several to many layers of cloth were placed below the top, to give it the desired thickness for warmth, wrapped around one quilting roller and fastened to the other. These then stretched the bedding acrossed the frame. The backing might be knotted onto the top to hold the layers together. The knots were fitted into the block pattern. Colored yarn was used for the knotting. This was normal on a comforter, which was very thick and kept the sleeper warm even when snow drifted onto the bed. Other times, especially for quilts, the layers were sewn together with fancy patterns of fine sewing. As one section of the bedding was quilted, the frame would scroll that section on one roller and expose a new section to do from the other roller. A section for quilting might be 24 to 30 inches wide for one or a couple ladies, up to 4 - 5 feet for many. When the quilting was done, the edges would be finished off and another started, maybe at someone else's house.
Friday was cleaning day. It was easier to clean the house now that floors and furniture were waxed and polished. Dirt still was hauled in from outdoors on peoples' shoes or bare feet. The ashes had to be hauled out of the fireplaces, which were in each room of the house. The floors were mopped and as necessary rewaxed. Dusting was done all over the house. The children were responsible to clean up their own rooms. (Usually there was a boy's room and a girl's room, upstairs.) The stove had to have cooking spills cleaned off it and be blacked and polished on occasion and the oven cleaned, to keep rust off. (Once a year the chimneys all had to be cleaned, the creosote built up and could make a pyranic chimney fire, which burnt some houses down. The suet dust would billow out into each room and entail a massive cleaning. This was normally done in the early fall.) Once a year there was a total house, Spring Cleaning. It could take several days.
Saturday was baking day. Yeast grew in a small crock of flour, in later days, out west, it was called "sour-dough". Maybe it wasn't quite the same thing, but it was the same approach. On Friday evening, yeast was removed from the crock, leaving only enough to be a starter for the fresh flour that was added to replace it. The yeast was mixed thoroughly with a freshly mixed batch of bread dough, or maybe also potatoe donut dough, or cookie dough, but especially bread dough. It was placed into loaf sized pans to rise overnight, covered by a dampened cloth. On Saturday the oven was heated hot. Some ovens were built into the wall of the fireplace. Some were dutch ovens, iron kettles with lids, some were in the new stoves. Batches of loaves were baked a golden crusty brown. Baking day made enough bread for the whole week. Freshly baked bread, just out of the oven was a treat in itself, the children had to be watched so they didn't stuff themselves sick. Since the stoves were hot already, and since the next day was Sunday, the Holy Day, enough food was cooked on Saturday to feed the whole family all day Sunday, whether they went to church and ate pot luck, or didn't go that Sunday.
"Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh is the Lord's Day." Even the Lord knew that the cattle needed milked on Sunday, and horses and cattle fed or let out to pasture, and the chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese fed and the eggs gathered. The milk needed to be set away in the spring house, so it wouldn't sour. Children needed to be gotten ready for church. The horses needed to be harnessed and hitched to the spring wagon, or the surrey. Dinner needed to be packed in the hamper or basket to take with you to church. There were chores that needed done, even on the Sabboth, but that wasn't work. It might be one hour or even two hours drive to church - horses only traveled at a good walking speed, and church started about 10 o'clock in the morning. A family didn't want to be late, you had to walk in right past the preachers up front to get to the pews. So you started in plenty of time, and all these other chores had to be done before you could get ready to go. After services were over, and dinner at church or with family or friends, there was still the trip home, sleepy children to be gotten to bed, and horses tended and cattle milked again, and the milk set away, the chickens chased into the hen house and shut away from skunks, possums, coons and weasels. Then you could sit down and reflect if there was any time left. Sunday was a day of rest, - well, at least it was a day that you only had to do the regular chores and didn't have to work.
Food preservation was primarily in the domain of the housewife. A butchering was a shared responsibility, with the whole family involved, and frequently several families, kin, butchering together. The men were primarily doing the killing and cutting up of the meat and rendered the lard, the women made the headmeat, souse and bloodworst, stuffed the sausage, and cooked out the bone jelly.
Cans of food on the grocery shelves were not even dreamed of in that day. The remembered childhood canning of quart and pint jars and the pressure cooker were still far in the future. The primary storage container was the crock, sealed by a covering of lard, another was a tightly covered basket or dried gourds. The several types of beans: soup beans, lima beans, kidney beans, could be picked when dry and stored in baskets. Potatoes wanted to stay cool so they were stored underground in storm cellars or fruit cellars, in flat bins. Apples wanted a cool place, but not in the same room with potatoes. Carrots were stored in barrels, in sand. Onions and beets were hung in bunches, their tops tied together. Bins, frequently lined, or at least bottomed by lead sheets, held corn and wheat in the grain. These were ground into meal and flour at the nearby mill, in smaller quantities, since once they were ground, weavels got into them if stored too long. Apples stored far into the winter, and dried apples (sliced) were available till next summer. (There was a lot of apple pie.) Dried Apricot slices were stored all winter.
Making saurkraut was a whole day job for the whole family. The cabbages were left in the field until before frost. They were pulled up and loaded into a wagon and hauled to the house. The roots were cut off (headed) and the loose leaves were removed from the bottom, all worms were knocked out. Then they were cut into slaw with a kraut knife and packed into crocks and covered with a cloth to keep the flies out. They were let sit until they fermented, for kraut is fermented cabbage. (It stinks!) Then they were stored in crocks or barrels and sealed. A dutch family might use 4 to 8 barrels of kraut a winter, and most of the Four Mile people were Pennsylvania Dutch, even if they did come by way of Virginia.
Pickles or Cucumbers made a major seasoning food on the table. It was harvested small as pickles and large as cucumbers, which were then sliced. Several different types of pickle and relish recipes were common, each having its own flavor and tartness. All were based on apple cider vinegar. Several other vegetables were also pickled, including red beets, and accordingly, hard boiled eggs in red beet juice. Mixtures of pickled vegetables could form relishes which were served as their own dish on the table, or as a garnish to meats. Tomatoes were originally considered to be only a colorful plant, and any eating of it was quite askance, "it was a poison". Late during this time some usages of it are found, not so much as a raw vegetable, but in cooking it down into juice and tomato sauce.
Apple butter was made by cooking the apples down in a big kettle. The apples had to be peeled and cored, and usually sliced. As they cooked down they were constantly stirred with large wooden spatulas, any special seasonings were added during the cooking. The apple butter was cooked to a much thicker consistancy than today, more resembling butter than today's sauce. As such, it was poured into heated crocks where it formed a skim surface while hot that protected it from spoilage. A square wooden lid was made to cover the crocks, to help prevent foreign materials from falling down into them. This permitted crocks to be stacked on top of each other.
Jams were made of the different fruits, in season. A natural pectin came from either apple or grape skins, which was necessary to form jam. As with apples, the hot jam formed a surface that helped preserve it over winter. Jam was stored in smaller crocks. When mold did form on the surface of the jam, the lady of the house would simply dip underneath it. The orchard, grape arbor, strawberry patch and wild fruits from the fencerow and forest were the source of jams and jellys. Jellys were strained forms of the fruit juice. They were similarly stored in smaller crocks.
The cows were milked every morning and every night. The milk was strained and set in crocks in the springhouse where it cooled. As it cooled the cream rose, and was skimmed off to the cream crock. When enough cream was collected, usually about once a week, it was churned into butter. Churning in those days was done with a special type of keg, that had a plunger through a hole in the lid. It was the work of a younger child to run the plunger, and keep it running steadily, until eventually the butter would begin to form. When it became stiff enough, the buttermilk was poured off (back into a crock in the springhouse, for later drinking when it got cold) and the butter was pressed and patted until it became solid. Sometimes it was pressed into a butter mold (made of wood with a carving that would impress on the butter). It was then stored in the springhouse to keep it as long as possible before it got rancid. The skimmed milk was used for cooking, drinking and breakfast cereal with much of what was left made into cheese.
Little Miss Muffet, sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey.
Cheese is made by heating the milk to a warm temperature. It was then poured into a kettle or wooden tank, where special bacteria were stirred into the milk to make it curd. Different bacteria are used for different types of cheese (also depending on the amount of cream allowed to remain in the milk). The milk and curd was stirred until it became fairly stiff and it was allowed to set. The combined curds and whey were dipped into a stiff cloth (usually linen), the ends of the cloth were gathered together and tied to force the curds into the center. The tied ends were then hung up to some study beam since there was considerable weight in the cloth sack so formed. The weight of the cheese curds helped to press out more of the whey, which was drained into a container. The remaining whey was given to the family to drink (it is fairly sweet). What was left over was given to the chickens, and as slop to the hogs. The cheese curds were then placed in a wooden box which had holes in it to allow further draining as a press was fitted in the box, stones were used to give the press weight. It would take ten gallons of milk to make one gallon of cheese. The resulting cheese was softer than our current cheese, but could be removed from the cheese box, wrapped in a light cloth and stored until use. The use of vinegar soaked cloths kept molds off the cheese. A hard surface would form on the surface of the cheese and would retard spoilage. Some cheeses could be stored for considerable periods of time. It is very probable that there was a dish of curds and whey given to the children as a delicacy at that stage of the preparation.
The meals in the home were prepared for working men. Breakfast was normally about sunup. If the weather was nice for outside work, the morning chores would already be done by lantern, feeding the horses and cows and milking. It was a full meal, and might consist of ham and eggs, or bacon and eggs with toast, and pancakes or fried mush with molasses or maple syrup, and some people even had fried potatoes. There was a common homemade cereal of a variety of grains made into a cake, dried till nearly hard and ground, soaked in milk, with honey. (Grape Nuts is the modern commercial form of this home cereal.) There would be fruit in season. Breakfast had to last at least til the middle of the day. The men might come in for dinner, which meant cooking a full meal for them, or they might take a lunch box out with them. The family at home, women and children, required feeding in any case. An exception to this came during special days when the families gathered to work or worship and shared their meal, then the noon meal was a fabulous feast. The evening meal, supper, was the big meal in most farm families. It was served when the men came in from the field, normally about dusk. It consisted of a meat, pork or chicken or maybe wild game, with potatoes, and vegetables. A fruit pie was common for desert, according to what fruit was in season. Evening chores were finished by lantern, or a son or daughter might be sent to milk the cows earlier, while it was still light.
The garden was the women's province. The men would manure it over winter and plow it in early spring, with a harrowing. Then it became the responsibility of the women. (Mom might draft some occasional help for hard labor.) The women planted the garden, weeded it and harvested it. Most of the common vegetables were grown in the garden, including such spices and seasonings that the family might use. There might be another larger plot for bulk food growing, like potatoes and cabbages, bush and soup beans, and green beans or snap beans, sometimes called a "truck patch". This was a joint responsibility, with the men doing most of the work, except possibly for hoeing the weeds, and the women the preservation. By desire and preference the women beautified their home and yard with flower beds and borders.
The women (girls) tended the chickens and gathered the eggs. This included watching the setting hens and young chicks when they hatched. The same with ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea fowl. When a chicken house with yard were built, the fowls' wings had to be clipped so they could not "fly the coop". The large wing feathers on one wing would be cut back some, this made any attempt to fly futile, as one wing had no lift and made them out of balance. Then they had to be shut away at night to keep out predators. If the men were especially busy, or there were too few brothers, milking of the cows might be tended out to the girls. It was not an unlady-like duty, and the act of milking the cow usually ended up with a cheek or forehead resting against her flank, the skin oil of the cow tended to make for fairer skin of the girl.
Lye soap was made in the home, it was the only type of soap known. The action of water running through wood ashes was a source of lye. Hog lard or beef tallow was cooked in a kettle over an outdoor fire until it was hot, then a small amount of lye was mixed with the hot lard. When it had cooled, a layer of soap was floating on the top of liquid underneath. This soap was cut into bars and stored for use. An old kettle was used, because the action of lye would tend to pit the metal. Some people did add tansy or mint, to give the soap a pleasant odor. Mixing a cup of lye to several gallons of milk gave a milk soap, but the author is unfamiliar of its use.
Natural remedies were used for treatment of sickness and disease. Some of it were effective, some weren't. There were many deaths that we now would know how to treat. Many children died, especially before they were five years old. Medicinal plant lore was passed down from mother to daughter. Some took naturally to it and were called by their neighbors regularly. The gathering of these wild plants took place from spring to late fall. Many were hung in bunches in the attic where they dried. Leaves or flowers were plucked and dried and stored in closed containers. Roots were dried and closed away. These were the same plants used by their grandmothers on the frontier, only now some of them were transplanted and growing in the herb garden. There were almost no trained doctors, and most of the ones around were viewed with great skepticism. The wife and mother had most of the answers in her attic, and if she didn't, and the wise neighbor lady didn't, a child died, or husband. Many wives died, many from problems in childbirth. Experienced neighbors who knew what to do in childbirth, were called as "midwives". But there were times that there was no answer to a problem they faced, not in their day.
Women's work seemed to be never done. There was always plenty waiting to be done and not enough time to do it. When all other choirs were completed, there was still spinning and weaving. Then also, while the men could come in at dark knowing they could do no more, the women were working by the fireplace which still gave out light to work by, so they couldn't just stop but had to finish the current task. As noted earlier, a baby doesn't just go to sleep, but demands momma during the night too. Daytime tending of the children devolved on the younger girls, but only momma sufficed at night. And when a baby was sick, even an exhausted momma wanted to be with the little one.
The author has long had an interest in medicinal plants and survival foods. A childhood in the late years of the Depression and during World War II, on a farm, included many of these farm and household duties and food preparations. Life had not yet changed from the older ways of home responsibility for food preparation and storage. Some of the methods were more modern, but the foods were still the same. The author has cranked a butter churn, chopped the head off a chicken, ground the home-made grape-nuts in a sausage grinder, stirred the cooking mush, run wheat through a mill to get flour (actually, run it through a couple times to get it finer), milked the cow, frozen my fingers and toes getting firewood cut in the winter. My mother made my shirts from flour sacks and darned my socks. I remember the old black iron kitchen range and the summer kitchen where we had a kerosene stove.
The early methods for storage of their foods became an interesting challenge. A special trip was made to Bern IN (which included a meal at an Amish restaurant). The question was asked "How did they used to make and store jams and jellies, in the early days?" The waitress referred me to her grandmother, who was in the kitchen. This little tiny Amish lady finally came up to the restaurant -"Why they had glass jars!" "No, before there were glass jars." -"I wasn't alive then!" "I wasn't either!" She was paid to work, so she couldn't stand around talking, she went over to the salad bar and arranged some of the food stuffs, finally she came back: "Grandma said -that they used to use crocks." And she told how the hot jam or jelly could be poured into a Hot Crock, and when they both cooled, there was the scum surface on the fruit, which protected it from spoilage. "But you had to have a wood cover for the crock, so nothing would fall down inside it!" Following that came the trip over to the cheese factory in Bern. One of the elderly men took me on a tour of the factory, explaining how cheese was made now, then he explained the older home method of making the various cheeses. That was much like my mother made Cottage Cheese at home when I was little. I had a wonderful day!
XI. Four Mile: The Later Days
Following the Cholera Epidemic of 1830, and the emigration of that decade, the farmers of the Four Mile began a steady improvement of their community. Four Mile land is heavy clay loam. It was very swampy under the forest and the soggy ground made poor farming. About 1840, the farmers began to tile their farms. They augered long holes through a small log or sapling, the length of the log, (Sumac was easy because it is a monocot and has a soft center, ash made longer lasting tiles, but is a harder wood). They buried these wooden pipes end to end through their fields to some nearby creek. Later, clay tile replaced these early wooden pipes, but the result was the same. The ground was drier and worked earlier and easier. It was fertile ground and began to produce large crops. The increased wealth began to show in improved buildings and better horses and cattle. These in turn brought increased wealth. This was the time that the log cabin became a log house, that the log house was sawmill sided with boards, then the log house became a brick house. Finally, during the 1850's the log and brick houses on the Moss, Lybrook and Hart farms were rebuilt with the large Brick Houses that still stand on the Boston Pike, east of the State Line. The architectural plan of the three houses standing there, is identical, except it is mirror reversed in the Lybrook house. This same plan is said to be that of some of the old houses of the kin in the Wabash Valley. The barn recently standing at the Isaac Hart farm (on Nine Mile Road) was a type of the large barns of these German farmers. The farms were about half cleared and half forested. The cleared fields were all fenced, with rail fences, many being snake fences, others post and rail.
Early in the 1850's, the old road on the west bank of Four Mile Creek, and the corresponding one about about 1/2 mile west of it were discarded in favor of a road on the state line and the Nine Mile Road, both on the mile divisions. This date is conjectured from several data, the most important being the construction of the two church buildings, Lower Four Mile Church was built soon after 1840, on the banks of Four Mile Creek, hence on the original road. In 1857, Upper Four Mile Church was built on the corner of Nine Mile Road and the Kitchel road. On both sides of Nine Mile Road, especially in its southern stretch, the old farmsites are back off the road, along the old road. The log cabin attached to the Elder Baltzer Lybrook House (replaced near the turn of the century by a frame building facing west) was said to have faced the opposite direction, toward the east, with the old road between it and the creek. One of the Witter houses is said to have been changed in its orientation, after it was built facing the west or the road on that side. Those farmsites sit back long lanes off Nine Mile Road now. A shed on the Robert Stevens farm was a log house (probably Jacob Kingery's) moved up from back the lane near the woods to the west. The extension of the Nine Mile Road north of the Boston Pike is not in existance any longer, but in the first part of this century was a lane at the edge of the fields, called the Coon Path. Coon Path School was near the north end of this extension (it has only recently been finally demolished). The old road past the Philip and Baltzar Lybrook houses, still is there, but has been nearly unused for years. It twists down to a ford over the Four Mile creek and on to the state line, in the last several years this east end has become a bare lane between fields. It is impassible by car. This east side is the only decent access to the Lybrook (now Railsback) Cemetary.
The Boston Pike, the Liberty Pike and Nine Mile Road were Turn Pikes, or Toll Roads. They were graveled roads, compared to most of the roads being still dirt (and often mud). They were wider, allowing room for two wagons to pass without getting off the gravel. Fords over the streams were paved with rock in the bottom so that the heavy wagons wouldn't sink down. Covered Bridges were built over the large streams. A double span covered bridge, allowing two way traffic, was over the Middle Four Mile at Fairhaven. Another covered bridge seems to have been over Indian Creek, at Contraras. The roads were maintained, when washouts occurred they were repaired, and at least once a year they were "metal surfaced" (or graded smooth). Since this cost money, the user paid. At regular intervals were pay stations. The local farmer was paid to collect the tariff, so much per animal, so much per wheel. A gate blocked the road. If the gate was on a pivot and turned out of the way, it was a Turn Pike, if the gate was counterbalanced and raised up, it was a Toll Gate.
Several small towns were in existance for the community, two are gone, three are still present. To the far south, Contraras is remembered only in the Contraras Road. It was at the bridge over Indian Creek, on the state line. Farther north, Samuel Ridenour built College Corner as a small town on the state line. The pike from Oxford went through it to Liberty, IN., now is US 27. Some two miles west on the pike, where it contacted the Salem Quaker Community, is the town of Cottage Grove. This gained importance around the turn of the century as a crossing of two railroads, but since the decline of the railroads, is returning to be a normal small rural town. In the north, just to the west of the State Line on the Boston Pike (Richmond - Hamilton Pike, now Indiana 227) was the small town of Beechy Mire (there are still springs underground there) and about two miles due west of it, the road going in front of the Upper Four Mile Church, is the little town of Kitchel, on the railroad. Beechy Mire is now a field where hogs are run. The miry ground makes a good hog wallow. Considerably past the time of this study, at the turn of the century, the railroad going to Richmond (through Cottage Grove, Kitchel and Boston) was built. Just west of Five Points on the Boston Pike, a coaling station was built on the railroad and for many years was a loading station for the railroad, it was called "Witt Station", all that remains of it is the old coaling tower. Boston is some 1 or 2 miles north of the Upper Four Mile Community, in Wayne County, again a rural town on the road to Richmond. It was where the road from Dayton, through Eaton, came before it angled southwest to Brownsville and Connersville.
Howe Tavern was built in 1832 on the Oxford road. It was the first building in what became College Corner. It was a stagecoach inn on the Oxford-Liberty-Brownsville Pike, although at the time of its building that pike was a pair of ruts through the woods, past settlers' farms to the new town of Liberty on to the old county seat of Brownsville, on the Whitewater River. Going due west out of College Corner is Velocipede Pike, it goes to Dunlapsville on the Whitewater River, from there it and the Contraras Road follow the old Indian path on to Connersville. In the earlier days this seems to have been a major route west from the Lower Four Mile, and from Hamilton through Oxford. The early stagecoach was essentially a spring wagon with flat board seats for passengers. It had a roof against the weather and leather curtains on sides and rear to shut off rain. When such were lowered the inside was dark, close and stuffy. When such were
up, the dust of the dry road and mud of the wet road, slung by wheels or horse hoofs, plastered the passenger. The back of the wagon carried baggage, mail and such merchandise that might find this method of transit. In the mid to late 1830's the Concord Coach was first built in New England. This is the stagecoach of the later west and was probably not seen on the Four Mile.
The 1840's brought a rapid growth of canal building to this country, and the Four Mile area was not exempt. The canal provided a smooth and quick method of transportation, in comparison to the rugged roads that were its alternative. The canal was a near level ditch, some 12 to 15 feet acrossed. It followed the edge of a river bottom, keeping a very exact contour to keep a near level water bed. The one side, normally the downhill slope toward the river, received the dirt dug out of the canal bottom, and formed a dike to hold the water. The top of this dike became the towpath for the canal. The canal received its water from the feeder dams on the Whitewater River. It followed the slope of the river going through locks as necessary to raise or lower the canal boat traffic to the new levels. Since the canal followed the river, it had to cross streams that flowed into the river from its side (the north bank of the Whitewater). This included the east fork coming down from Richmond. A canal bridge or aquaduct would be built to carry the canal water across the ingressing stream. Since the aquaduct was constructed of wood, it does leak water into the stream below. Such can be seen at the tourist attraction at Metamora. Traffic on the canal could be fairly heavy. Canal boats were long double ended boats. They were about 8 feet wide and 30 to 40 ft long. They carried freight up and down the canal, and had provision to carry passengers as well. This was a great boon to the farmers of areas close to the canal, and villages sprang up along the canal as trade centers. The canal boat was pulled by one or two horses, who trod the towpath. The horses were driven, or more normally ridden, by a boy who kept them moving. They would be hitched in tandem if two, and pulled the heavy rope connected to a davit on the near side of the canal boat. There were occasional wide areas in the canal where boats could pass. It was an easy, comfortable passage for travelers, although recognizably slow. No canals came up the Four Mile Creek, but a main canal followed the Whitewater River from Cincinnati and Harrison in Ohio to Brookville, south of our area. There it followed the West Branch of the Whitewater River through Metamora to Connersville and on to Hagerstown. There were numerous dams on the river to supply water to the canal. The Whitewater River is accurately named. It is one of the primary national "white water" rivers for canoeing, being a very rugged flow. This was rough on the canal, since it sustained repeated damage from flooding and washouts due to the floods. It was never financially successful as a canal, and as many major canals, was bought out by the railroads, and its towpath converted into a railroad track. The tourist village of Metamora, west of Brookville is a relic of this canal and the connected trading site. It contains a rebuilt section of the old canal, with rides on a canal boat. A lock is in the town with another just below, and an aquaduct is traversed on the boat trip. A mill was operated out of the canal flow and is open to tourists. The narrow guage railroad that replaced the old towpath is operated as an excusion train from Connersville. The old stores sell specialties to the tourist trade and the whole town is quite delightful. Some of the descendents of Isaac Miller moved on to Metamora from Blooming Grove.
Under the spreading chestnut tree,
the village smithy stands,
The smith a mighty man is he,
with strong and sinuy hands.
The chestnut tree setting may not be correct, but the image of the smith was very accurate. Abraham Miller brought the first smith, Thomas Bright, out with him when he came about 1804. Originally Abraham's farm was on the Four Mile, between Peter Ridenour and Joseph Kingery. He moved to near Bath, in Franklin Co. IN. Bright moved his smithy to the corner of Butler County, in what later became College Corner. John Allen came to Harrison Township in 1834. His smithy was on the north side of the Boston Pike right where Nine Mile Road goes south. His farm buildings are still standing on the south side of the Pike, west of Nine
The smithy was a building which housed a forge and had work space for the smith. The smith had an anvil, maybe several of different sizes. Several tools worked on the anvil, hammers of several sizes and with different shaped heads, for different kinds of results, chisels that mounted on the anvil and cut the metal when hammered on them, rods to bend metal around and variously to shape the hot metal. He also had various large pliars to hold the metal. The iron was worked while it was hot. The iron used was more malleable then modern irons. The iron used in this early time was wrought iron. It did not rust like modern high carbon iron and steel. (A wrought iron fence was put up around the Lybrook Cemetary soon after 1890, and is still in quite good shape, with almost no maintenance during the past 50 years.) He did some work with copper. The smith was an expert craftsman. He not only knew how to shape metal, but how to weld it together using only the forge and anvil. Some pieces needed to be tempered to hold their edge or give it springiness. Using the anvil, he could cut the metal, punch holes in it, and shape it as desired.
The forge used charcoal as its fuel. This was obtained by burning hardwood trees, under limited air conditions. A pile of wood, stacked together tightly, would be covered by dirt, leaving only a chimney hole. When lit it would burn slowly, and very imcompletely. The result was charcoal. Fairly large amounts of charcoal were used, not as much as by the eastern furnaces, which actually cleared large tracts of forest, but still enough for a going business to those who cooked charcoal.
One of the main jobs of the smith was shoeing horses and oxen. This is today called a farrier. He had to be expert to correctly shape the shoe and place the nails in the hoof such that they held but did not hurt the animal. Another job was repair of tools or build them new. These could be farm tools, like shares of a plow, hoes, axes, adzes, scythes and cradles, chains and saws. It might be for the housewife, her knives, kettles, the andiron for the fireplaces or its cranes and hooks. Later it could include the iron stove, skillets, pots and pans. Around the house it meant the door latches and window catches, the hinges for doors, window shutters, and gates. There were some few needs for spikes and nails, when there was nothing else around to do, he could always make more of these. Another craft of the smith was called the wheel wright, he made the iron tire for the spoke wheels of wagon and cart. It had to be made perfectly round and the ends welded together. It had to be heated all around to the same heat at the same time, which caused it to expand slightly, then fit onto the wood wheel exactly. As it cooled, it burnt itself into the wood rim so it didn't loosen as easily, and also tightened the spokes into the hub, making the wheel a much more substantial piece. The smith also made the axletrees and spindles for the wheels of the wagons. He made the rings, hooks and chains used in the harness of the horses and for the double and single trees which enabled them to pull wagon, plow and cultivator.
Possibly during the last years of this study, Frederic Greggerson set up a shop building wagons at Beechy Mire. He seems to have built mostly grain wagons and spring wagons. His trademark was a chalky blue paint that he used. Ansel Toney once said that he was nearly grown before he found that a wagon could be other colors than blue. The Greggerson house was moved acrossed the road, and is still in use as a residence.