Louisa Fosdick Bunting
In the autumn of 1831, when I was nine years old, Uncle Aaron Stanton come to visit us. He lived in LaPorte Country in the northern part of our state, where he owned a good deal of land. He l thought we could do better there than here, so he persuaded father and some of the other folks to accompany him back to LaPorte.
We started about the first of December. There were fourteen in our party: Uncle Aaron, Uncle Timothy Fosdick and Aunt Martha and their two sons James and John, Cousin John Hughes and his wife, Father, Mother, myself, sister Mary Ann aged seven, brother Thaddeus aged five and a baby sister two months old. There was also John Pettigrew, the boy who drove the cattle, two cows and two calves.
We had three covered wagons with a big kettle full of live coals in each to keep us warm. Traveling was quite good the first two or three days. There were plenty of settlements until we had gone about a days journey north of Richmond, after that we only occasionally passed a rude hut in a clearing.
We would encamp at night near a large tree or two. Three if they were smaller. The men would make a big fire. The fires were started with flint-lock gust and tinder. For our beds they would gather piles of brush on these lay several strips of hickory bark and on these place our beds.
At the end of the third day we passed into a region of wilderness and swamps. After we had gone about two days journey in the wilderness we came upon a little log hut in which lived a man name Smith Mastison, with his wife and four or five small children. They were about thirty miles from any other habitation. They looked to us almost as wild as the animals around them, but seemed content and happy.
(Note: Smith F. Mastenson - Mastinson - Martenson - Masterson lived White River Township, Randolph County 1830 census: 2-0-0-0-1 0-0-0-0-1 Smith G. Masterson abt. 1805 Ohio married Margaret Reed 3 August 1806 Darke County, Ohio. Children were, Charles, Lewis, George, James R., William, John, Esther, Nancy, Lorania, Margaret, Sylvester, Rebecca, Mary and Sarah)
What interested me most was a half-grown black bear with which the children played as if it were a dog. While here our dog, Watch, caught a porcupine, and as a result he left the quills in his mouth until Father extracted them with the bullet mold. The woods were full of porcupines, wild cats, wolves and other animals. The howling of wolves and screaming of wild cats kept me awake many a night.
A little beyond this we came to the swamps which were covered in ice. We traveled through this for three days, going eight miles a day. The ice would cut the horses legs, so the men went ahead and broke it with flails made of saplings. At night we would seek a rise in the ground on which to place our beds and if this could not be found, we would put them on the ice. Here my little brother was taken sick with scarlet fever.
The morning of the second day after we left the swamps, we passed through Ft. Wayne, which consisted of only two or three dozen houses, mostly log. On the evening of this day we arrived at Eel River, Twelve miles from Ft. Wayne. Here on account of sickness, father and mother stayed two weeks at the home of Adam Hull. (Note: Adam Hull lived Allen County, Cull River (1840 Census) ) The rest of the folks, except John Pettigrew (who remained with us) proceeded on their journey. Mr. Hull and his family were very kind to us. They had three sons, Adam, Rufus and Harvey, and three daughters, Barbara, Jane and Katie. The morning after we arrived there, Father sent back to Ft Wayne for a Physician and provision.
Jane Hull and I often went down through the cane break along the river to get the bark of white sassafras to chew. Jane also dried and smoked it. One day Jane could not go with me so I ventured out alone. After getting the bark, I wandered on through the cane break until I came to a place where several canes were broken about two feet from the roots, the tops slanting down to the ground. Through this had grown tall grass. As I was standing by it, thinking what a nice home it would make for some animal, out jumped a big, red fox brushing almost against me and ran off as fast as his legs could carry. I stood for a moment, then thinking it was high time I was getting out of that place I made a hasty departure.
The next day Jane said to me ďLetís go to the riverĒ. There had been a fresh inlet and the ice was broken up. We each took a pole and getting upon a large cake of ice pushed onto the stream. It seemed to me about a half mile wide. When we got out into the current, several yards for the shore, our ice began to sink, and we were in water to our waists. We quickly stuck our poles into the mud, Jane getting on the lower edge of the ice to prevent it going down stream and bearing our weights on the poles the ice raised under us and we made quickly for shore. That was my only ride on ice. I have often wondered since then how we ever came out alive.
The weather was now turning cold rapidly and by the time we reached the house, a quarter of a mile away, our clothes were frozen stiff. That night sister Mary Ann and I were taken sick. The next day my brother died and Mary Ann followed him two days later.
They were buried on a beautiful little knoll which seemed to us as if God made it for this purpose. It was not far from the house and was covered in summer with wild strawberries and wild roses. Little sister and brother were buried in rough board boxes and log pens were built over their graves to keep the wolves away. O, the howling of those wolves! I could hear it for years afterward, and even now sometimes when I go to bed it rings in my ears as plain as I heard it then.
When I grew better, the men put the wagon bed on sled runners and we resumed our journey through the snowy forest. I remember passing two towns, Goshen and South Bend, at the latter town was a place that interested me much. It was where the St. Joseph River makes its southern bend. Here the cliff rose a great may feet, it seemed to me almost perpendicular, and extending just a little above this cliff was the top a large cedar tree which grew away down on a shelf which projected out of the cliff a few feet above the water.
In one month from the time we left our home in Union County, nearly three hundred miles away, we reached our destination in the western part of St. Joseph County. Here lived Uncle Aaronís son-in-law, Charles Vail. Our house stood in the same yard. They were rough log houses with clapboard roofs and ďStick and MudĒ Chimneys. The rest of our party had gone on the LaPorte County a few miles west and about fifteen miles from Lake Michigan where Uncle Aaron lived.
Our new home was on the western edge of Terracopa Prairie. Extending like an arm around the northern part of the farm was a grove of scrub oaks and in the frosty winter mornings these trees were full of prairie chickens, cackling, singing and crowing.
The Indians came to our houses frequently. I remembered especially one ugly old Indian who came often to grind his tomahawk. He would beg food which we never refused him for we were afraid of him. He was drunk nearly all the time. (There was a large still in operation a few miles away).
The Indiana carried his food in a corner of his blanket. One day mother had given him all the scraps she could collect, he turned away and attempted to climb the high rail fence which surrounded the yard, just as he reached the top, down he tumbled backward into the yard. I was afraid he would be so enraged he would murder us, but he rose quietly, carefully gathered up all his food and then succeeded in getting over the fence.
At last spring came and I could play out of doors. Each Sunday morning two little Indiana girls would dress in their nice, clean hunting shirts and come to play with me. They were about my size. I admired their hunting shirts neatly made of brown calico with green, red and white flowers in it. One day I traded them some eggs for their silver earrings. I gave the rings to two of my cousins. I wish now I had kept them.
In the spring we visited Uncle Aaron near LaPorte. The chief attraction for me there was a beautiful little lake called Lake Porte. The water was so clear and the sand so white and clean. I tried hard to get some lilies that grew on the water, but could not. On the bank of this lake, under a spreading oak, lived two women in a tent. They were sisters and did washings for people of the town near by. I have since heard that they saved enough money to buy a good eighty acre farm.
Many a time I would go out to gather the wild flowers and strawberries which grew so plentiful around our home when pretty soon I would hear rattle snakes in the grass near me. Then I would run to the fence upon which I would climb and remain until all was quite when I would steal quietly back to get some more flowers. It is a wonder to me that I escaped being bitten by those snakes.
The ground was covered with larkspurs, lady slippers, foxgloves, roses ect. There was also a plant called devilís shoestrings. It had a small and beautiful top, but no flowers and long strong roots. One day father just for a novelty of the thing pulled up two of those roots and used them for lines while plowing!
One day I saved Cousin Charlesí house as well as our own from being destroyed by fire. I donít remember why, but I was left at home alone that day. Perhaps it was to get dinner for the men. Mother and Olive Vail had gone to visit a neighbor and the men were at work in the fields. Some time during the day I noticed the roof of Charlesí house was on fire. I ran and called to the men but they didnít hear me. Then I got the trumpet and blew it until my jaws ached, still no one seemed to hear me. I didnít know what to do next. Suddenly a thought struck me. I climbed up the corner of the house where the logs projected out and threw down all the clapboards that were on fire.
Our stay at St. Joseph was brief, for at the beginning of wheat harvest we departed for our old home in Union County. Mother had been sick most of the time and she and father were both dissatisfied. We were only a week coming back. On the way we stopped at Hullís and saw the childrenís graves. Iíve never seen them since.
When we got to the Wabash River, it was greatly swollen by recent rain. We crossed it in a canoe made of Poplar log. The fourth day we arrived at Richmond where we tarried two days. Then went on and were very glad when we were once more at our old home in little Union.
There is an interesting sequel to Grandmaís story. In the summer of 1909 Grandma journey once more to the place on Eel River where she had spent two weeks with the Hull family more than 77 years before. On this occasion she was accompanied by a daughter and grandson. The trip was made by rail to Ft. Wayne and automobile and took only a few hours time. Adam Hullís youngest daughter, Katie Gordon now an old woman was located in Ft. Wayne and accompanied the party to the old home on Eel River. Together they sough the place where Grandmotherís little sister and brother were buried so many years before. Nothing but the little knoll was left to mark the spot which they located as near as they cold in the edge of a cornfield. Here grandmother, now 87 years old placed some flowers which she had grown and brought with here for this purpose. A little more than ten years later on January 3 1920, Grandmother Bunting passed away at her home in Liberty Indiana having lived 97 years 5 months and 5 days.
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