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 Little Home Histories, Part 07 -- Early Times in Barnesville, Ohio (1805).

by Bundy, Jonathan.

See previous entry: Little Home Histories, Part 06 -- David Ball.

The following was written by Jonathan Bundy, an old-time resident of Barnesville, Ohio. It was printed in the Enterprise of 3rd month 13th 1884.

Descendants of Mr. Bundy have furnished us with a copy of the paper in which it was published, and believing it will be of interest to many of the readers of today, we again print it.

(Taken from the Barnesville Enterprise 3rd month 16th 1911.)

--Editor, Enterprise;

Some months ago there was a notice in your paper to the effect that I had passed through the place where Barnesville is now situated, at an earlier date than any one else now living near there. Since then I have been repeatedly asked to write out some account of those early days, for publication, and as variety is sometimes pleasant and useful, it may not be amiss to compare the present flourishing condition of this town and vicinity with the difficulties and hardships with which the earlier settlers had to contend, though I am aware it must be a very crude article which my aged hand can produce.

As my father's family were the little company of pioneers who passed through Barnesville, in 1805, and settled one mile west, I remember well the beginning of the town, and many incidents occurring among ourselves and neighbors, and when I enter the Barnesville of today, with its turnpike, railroads, telegraphs, telephones, gaslights, glassworks with its large mills and magnificent houses, with schools and lawyers, doctors, and preachers, with its banks and stores and pleasant homes a vision rises up before me of the broken wilderness, where we hastily threw up our log cabins without aid of carpenter or mason.

Our fireplaces were made of sticks and clay, our floors of puncheon, our door shutters of clapboard pinned to wooden hinges, and never a nail or screw or pane of glass in the whole structure. We had an unbroken forest to subdue before we could raise our provisions, and the first object was to obtain something to live on, while felling the great trees and clearing away the underbrush and rubbish so that the land could be tilled. For no matter what a man had at his old home, he could not get it here because there were no roads.

This provision was furnished in a greet measure by killing or capturing the wild animals with which the woods abounded. Powder and lead were high priced, so the smaller game was mostly taken by stratagem. To catch the wild turkey, we built a pen about ten feet square and three or four feet high and covered with rails. A little ditch was dug in the ground terminating on the inside near the center of the pen and covered near the wall. The bait was then placed so as to be seen from the outside hut only reached by going in the ditch. When they have entered, helped themselves and wished to escape, they walk round and round trying every crack, and even over the cover of the ditch, but never think of getting down into it and go out as they came in.

A good fat bear was our first choice, but they were hard to find and take so the deer furnished the greater part of our meet. We also saved for food every quail, squirrel and bird we could trap or capture in any way, for when the gun had to be resorted to, to obtain meat it took a good hand from his work of preparing the new fields, and land had to be cleared and corn raised before we could have hogs or cattle and when we did get hogs, it was hard to keep them for the bears were very fond of fresh pork. We let them run in the woods in the daytime, but they came to their beds at night and we were obliged to keep one or two old ones with long tusks to fight off the bears from the smaller ones.

I well remember a very exciting circumstance of my boyhood. Mother had gone from home on a visit of three or four days. I stayed at grandfathers and father also worked there, going home mornings and evenings to feed. One night he found his hogs all out and gone. He began calling them but soon saw a large bear between himself and the house which he observed was mad, having been whipped by the hogs, and coming towards him with his bristles raised, all ready for fight.

Father made all the show he could, hoping to scare him but to no purpose. He could not get his gun, which was in the house, so he turned and ran a short distance thinking the bear would not come farther than the fence, but when he looked he beheld Bruin in full chase and gaining on him rapidly. He then, as I have heard him say, let out every link he had in reserve and ran for dear life, but the bear gained on him until he could hear him at every bound, light closer and closer behind him. When he came to a fence, and laying his hands on the top bar and leaped over, he heard bruin light on the fence the moment he touched the ground. It was then uphill to the house and as a bear cannot run up hill well, father gained on him and rushing in took down grandfathers gun and went back to meet him, but grandfather saw the bear run round the house and disappear in the woods while father was inside. He came back that night, however, and took two pet pigs whose bed was under the wagon at the end of the house, eating one and leaving the other dead. The next day they put the dead pig in the end of a hollow log nearby, and set two guns in position so that he could not get the pig without pulling the strings attached to the triggers and thus firing upon himself.

The two bullets did their work that night, and next morning the bear was dressed and made us a good supply of meat. Many bears were taken in this way. Often we would hear the hogs rallying, as we called it and go to see what disturbed them. If it proved to be a bear, we would generally find a dead pig, for he would quickly kill one by biting it through just behind the shoulders, and then leave it till the big hogs were quiet, then he would go and eat it or get shot, as in this instance. But it required great care to go near those angry and frightened hogs for they were but half domesticated breed and quite dangerous.

Two of our neighbors went out for a hunt one morning, taking their dogs with them. They had not gone far before coming onto a lot of these half wild hogs. The dogs ran for their masters, and the men seeing their danger, betook themselves each to his tree. The dogs played round and round the tree keeping out of the way of the hogs but would not leave their masters, thus keeping them in their trees until the hogs went to their beds at night. The wolves also would often take our young stock, if not well protected.

Hearing a stir among his hogs one night, father slipped quietly out to take observations. Soon a wolf appeared at the door of the hog house and the large hogs rushed after it. In a moment it dodged back picked up a pig and ran off with it before the hogs returned. Evidently it had laid a plan and carried it out successfully. Thus it was the cunning of man contriving against the cunning of wild animals for protection of his stock. The wolves would howl around our cabin almost every night and sometimes during the day and the dogs would sit in the yard and bark at them, but let a panther scream out his peculiar wail imitating some fancied, the cry of a woman, and every dog would run under the house trembling and growling.

The wild cats and the catamounts were very plenty and sometimes quite impudent. One of our neighbors having cut some trees down one day after trimming up the tops thought the brush and green leaves made so inviting a bed that he lay down upon them to rest a little and fell asleep. He was rudely awakened by a wild cat springing upon him evidently aiming to get hold of his throat, but he with much difficulty turned him under, crushed and mastered him receiving many deep scratches in the process.

Benaja Parker, who lived near us, hearing a stir among his hogs one dark night, seized a chunk of fire and rushed out, shouting to scare away the intruders. As the bear was black, he did not see him until so close that the bear raised his paw and with one stroke, struck the fire from his hand, leaving him in the darkness, in very uncongenial company. In a moment he turned and fled for life, leaving his hogs to fight for their lives.

Our pathway east ran a little north of where the main cross street now is, and near the cross used to be a muddy place which was a favorite wallowing place for the bears, for they resort to such places the same as hogs do. Father once saw a bear coming down a large tree which stood for many years after the land was cleared, about where the Frasier tavern now stands. He supposed he had been up there hunting bees, as they are great lovers of honey and would often gnaw great places in the tree to get at it. My grandfather was quite a bee man and often found large swarms of wild bees. When he cut the trees down to get the honey, he would save the bees also, if he could and hive them in an old fashioned bee gum made of a cut in a hollow log.

Once when he went to look after a hive of this kind he found that a bear had thrown it down, and he supposed, run his head so far in that he could not withdraw it, and so, dragged off the hive leaving a great track wherever he went. Grandfather, thinking he was sure of that bear, followed on the trail until he came to the hive fast between two trees which had held it fast while bruin pulled out his head.

Thus in toil and privation, adventure and excitement, the days of our early life sped on, and when I began to write of them, such a throng of memories come crowding up for utterance, that I know not where to close.

Nearly all of the first settlers of Barnesville are silent in death and soon none will be left to tell the story of its wild beginning yet all who have been instrumental in bringing about its present flourishing condition, those early pioneers, who broke the first road through the forest and lived in danger and hardship, had the hardest part to bear. The young girls of Barnesville, who flit gracefully about their dainty stoves never think how their great grandmothers cooked and roasted and baked with only an open fireplace, and the young men, who drive their fast horses swiftly along the smooth streets, do not reflect that the very necessities of their ancestors, as salt and powder, were packed laboriously over mountains, through underbrush and fallen logs, and come to us at a very high price. The hand of progress has swept away all trace of the wilderness that was, and it is well, for in its place we behold a fertile and productive country, contributing to the growth and enterprise of a happy and industrious people.

When uncle Jonathan Bundy was 19 years old he was splitting rails out of a log from a large chestnut tree. He split 90 rails to the cut. He was working at the foot of the second hill from my great grandfather Doudna's house. Great grandfather came riding along on horseback with his daughter Achsah, who was 12 years old, on their way to town (Barnesville) and they stopped to talk to Jonathan a little bit and while they were talking Aunt Achsah peeped out from behind her father at him, and he thought then she was to be his future wife.

It so happened, for they were married -- near the last of the 4th month 1824, and lived here in our neighborhood until 25th of 10th month 1830. They got a certificate of removal to Deerfield monthly meeting. Morgan County, Ohio.

They had three children at that time, and six altogether. Later they moved to Iowa, and since I can remember, he came back to Yearly meeting and to visit, he would come to our house to visit and we children just loved to hear him and our grandmother, Asenath Doudna, father's mother tell stories of the olden times such as he told in the above article.

One night when he was at our house there was an owl bothering some of our chickens that were roosting up in the cedar tree at the south end of the house. He was sleeping in the parlor bedroom and the tree was nearby. Along about five o'clock in the morning, he heard the owl fall. He then came out and told our folks about it and said if they would get it right away and cut its head off it would be all right to eat. He would take walks out in the fields to gather the plant called Life everlasting and we children would go with him and help him get it and hear him tell pioneer stories.

Source: The postscript was written by Elma D. Bailey, Barnesville, Ohio.

See next entry: Little Home Histories, Part 08 -- The Bundy Ancestors.

For the table of contents and first entry in this series, please see: Little Home Histories, Part 01 -- Table of Contents and Introduction.

This entry is adapted from Little Home Histories in Our Early Homes, Belmont County, Ohio, which was published in 1942. Its publication was coordinated by Robert D. and Beulah Patten McDonald. This entry has been reedited for inclusion in the Pierian Press Fulltext eBooks database, and is included on the Stratton House Inn Website by special permission. This entry is licensed for use ONLY on this Website. It may be used for educational purposes and personal pleasure under fair-use provisions via this Website. Please note that the Stratton House Inn iteration of this entry does NOT include the subject headings assigned each chapter for use in the Fulltext eBooks database.

CO-AUTHOR: Bailey, Elma D.

DATABASE: Fulltext eBooks: Copyright (c) 2002 The Pierian Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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