Those earlier days
We are as a country heading for hardships, we are told, and perhaps now is a good time for a tonic from the past to remind ourselves of the hearty stock from which we emerged. The Wolfe Family History published in 1964 includes inspiring tales of early pioneers into southeast Ohio and beyond to Indiana and Wisconsin.
The story I like best began back in Westmoreland County, Pa., with George Wolfe and his wife Jane Pisor Wolfe and their neighbors, Christopher Harrold, his wife and two young sons. They arrived in Pittsburgh, boarded a flat boat, floated down the Monongahela River to the Ohio, landing in Marietta in the spring of 1800. From there the two men loaded barrels of flour and some household goods into two canoes, along with the toddler whom they strapped in with a bed cord.
The two young women, Jane, my 17-year-old ancestor, and her friend, who was 17 years as well, with her second son, only 6 months, went overland with one ox (a horse having died that winter on their way to Pittsburgh), two cows, two sheep, a colt and a few garments — quilts, clothing and diapers.
The Greenville Treaty signed in 1797 had moved the Indians farther west to Wabash country lessened that threat to their travels from Marietta to what is now Ames Township on the Athens/Morgan County line in southeast Ohio. However, 50 miles through thick forests full of bear, wildcats and wolves with only notched trees every 100 yards to guide them was not easy.
Their first night on the trail, each cow calved along with the two ewes. The young women did not panic but rather took out needle and thread and sewed pockets into one of the quilts, threw it over the ox’s back and stuffed a calf into each side. Then they took Harrold’s Sunday best suit coat, sewed up the ends of the sleeves, put a lamb in each sleeve and hung it over one of the cows. They met up with their husbands who in their canoes had paddled down the Ohio from Marietta to the Hocking River to the Federal Creek to Amesville such as it was then. Together again, they walked to their 100 acres purchased three years earlier from the Ohio Company.
Now that’s a reality show! Was it a hardship? Of course and life is, contrary to much cant we hear otherwise and are so loudly warned against. I say, start sewing.
Sylvia Zimmerman is the owner of Fulton Creek Jersey Cheese in Richwood. She holds two graduate degrees and, when not working on her farm or pursuing her interest in sustainable agriculture, writes her own blog.