|Little Home Histories, Part 37 -- Otho French Home History.|
by Patten, Anna Bailey.
See previous entry: Little Home Histories, Part 36 -- Some Historical Sketches of Friends at the Ridge.
Otho French was among the first pioneers of Warren Township. He was born in Frederick County, Maryland in 1777. He did not have much of an education as his parents were poor but very respectable.
In the year 1800, Robert Plummer, a neighbor, asked him to go "West" with him and assist him in the selection of some land for entry, and he would sell French a part of the land so taken up. They could not in those days, get less than a section of land. Otho accepted the proposition and they started on their journey. At Marietta, Ohio, they heard such glowing accounts of section 10, Warren township, that they got someone to point out the section line that led to it.
Following this line north, they reached section ten and knew as soon as they reached it so vivid had been the description given them at Marietta. They made the entry and returned home. Robert Plummer and his family came at once in 1801. The country was all timber, and with few if any roads. It is said it took the Plummers five days to come from the open road where Morristown now stands, to the present Plummer homestead near Tacoma, Ohio. The way had to be cleared as they came.
Otho French married in a short time after he returned to his home in Maryland, and they came to Warren township in 1802. Robert Plummer, as he had agreed to do, sold him the southwest part of section 10 on easy terms. He at once put up a crude log cabin but soon built a hewn log cabin where they lived for some time. Later he built a brick two-story house, with two large rooms downstairs and two up. It had small windows -- two in the front and two in the back -- with small panes of glass. A well was dug at the front of the house near the northeast corner and water was drawn by windlass. There was a cellar under the entire house. In the northeast corner, an opening was made in the foundation about two by three feet, even with the top of the well. This opening made a deep shelf and here they kept their milk and butter -- in a primitive refrigerator.
There were two or three steps up to the doors on the first floor. Large fireplaces were in the downstairs rooms. Each room, both upstairs and down, had a large closet. Shelves in the downstairs closets were used as cupboards and in the upstairs, there was one shelf the length of the closet and hooks below for clothing. The ceilings were very low and the doors so low that a man had to stoop to pass through. The closed stairway was narrow with only space for one person. The steps were straight and rather steep to a landing, then two more steps to the second floor. Under these steps was the cellar way.
The cellar has never had to be cemented as it has a solid stone floor. So this house "built on a strong foundation" has stood straight and solid all years. It must have been built about 1815, we have not been able to learn the exact date.
There were many wild animals in this new and unsettled country and Otho French was a noted hunter and trapper. The outstanding feature of his whole life was his strong opposition to "spirituous liquors". The State of Maine had passed a temperance law, the first in the United States. Otho French wanted Ohio to adopt the same law and was so strong for it, he had a sign over his front door, "Hold on to the Maine Law forever."
He kept drovers and their flocks over night, and they always were asked the question, "Are your stock fed on Brewers grains?" If they had been, they were never allowed to stay. One evening a drover stopped. He was asked the usual question and replied "No", but in some way Otho had learned he had not been told the truth, and although supper was on the table they were not allowed to stay.
My mother used to tell me, when she was a little girl, she was passing with her father on horseback and she saw Otho standing at the front door gently pushing a drover away and was telling him he could not stay as his stock were fed on Brewers grains.
When he was on his death bed, he asked his family to have engraved on his tombstone, "Hold on to the Maine Law forever," which request was granted and that tombstone can still be found in the "French" or township graveyard, one fourth of a mile southeast of Tacoma, Ohio, across the Baltimore and Ohio railroad tracks.
He died in his 80th year.
Source: Written by: Anna Bailey Patten.
Note: Otho French was not a Friend or a member of Stillwater Quarterly meeting but he was so closely connected with the early history of the Friends of Warren township, we feel his history should be recorded here.
See next entry: Little Home Histories, Part 38 -- The Gibbons Family.
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.
DATABASE: Fulltext eBooks: Copyright (c) 2002 The Pierian Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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