|Little Home Histories, Part 58 -- The Plummer Farm.|
by Hoyle, Laura.
See previous entry: Little Home Histories, Part 57 -- William Pickett.
Back in the last of the 18th century when Friends (Quakers) were freeing their own slaves, but were surrounded and hectored by neighbors who would neither agree with them nor welcome such free thinkers among them, these friends were casting longing eyes to the regions about them for a land where freedom of speech and conscience might still be exercised. At this critical juncture, the great Northwest Territory was opened to settlement. Slavery there was prohibited, and the country was beautiful and rich, full of hills, meadows, rivers and, most of all, forests. It is no wonder the heartsick Quakers thronged towards it willing to face all sorts of heavy labor and privations.
The first Friend, and the fourth person, to settle in Warren Township, Belmont County, Ohio, came from the Plummer family, which traces its ancestry to Wales in the late sixteen hundreds. It's first representative to settle in Ohio was Abraham Plummer, born in 1736 and who married Sarah Ward in 1762, in Calvert County, Maryland. The mother is not mentioned as being in Ohio, but Abraham Plummer accompanied by his son Robert Plummer Sr. and his family, arrived in the region now called Warren Township, in the late spring of 1801. They hired a wagon and teamster to carry their goods to the wilderness, but rode horseback themselves. While debating where to build, the wife stuck her willow riding switch into the ground near a spring saying "This is where our house shall be." Many years later the old willow tree still marked the spot though the little cabin was soon replaced. This certificate of membership among Friends followed them as soon as it could be arranged.
"From the records of Concord Monthly Meeting 11-19-1803, a certificate was produced for Robert Plummer, Rachel his wife, and children, Elizabeth, John and Abraham from Pipe creek monthly meeting dated 13th of 11th month 1802, which was read and received."
Abraham Plummer, then 65 years old, promptly "entered" the land and in 1802 received the patent for same, granted by Thomas Jefferson, President, and James Madison, Secretary of State.
These three adults -- with the children, aged respectively 6, 5, and 2 -- lived as one family. Having arrived late in the spring they built a hurried summer home of logs and poles, cut and placed by Abraham and Robert, and chinked by Rachel, the latter's wife. The roof was made of hickory bark, the first layer being placed with the sap side up, and the second laid so as to break joints of the first, with the bark side up. When exposed to the sun, this green bark became so shrivelled and drawn together that rain could scarcely penetrate it. The floor was dirt, and the door a quilt. The window had greased paper for glass.
They hastily cleared a small space and raised a crop of corn. The nearest to have it ground was Morristown, six miles away, through the wilderness.
By autumn they built a more substantial home of heavy logs. The ambitious builder put a little porch at the front door to sit on which innovation placed this cabin in a class by itself, and Rachel held up her head in pride that her house was the only one in the neighborhood to possess such a feature. This last log house is still on the "Plummer Farm", and has for many years been used as the "shop" -- housing all sorts of carpenters and mechanics tools. It has been boarded over inside and out but a little chipping away of this shell reveals the original logs.
The oldest part of the present dwelling also was built by Robert Plummer Sr. In the big kitchen fireplace, recently re-opened, the cooking was done in pots hanging on the crane, in utensils covered with ashes on the hearth, a reflecting dutch oven, long legged skillets, and so forth.
He dressed the stones and built the spring house and deep stone trough into which the milk crocks were set to be surrounded by the cold water, and erected the log smoke house in the rear of the dwelling, both of which are standing at this writing.
He set aside in 1802, the next year after his arrival, an acre of ground for burial purposes, intending to make it the property of Friends so that a meeting house could be built on it, so rapidly did the settlement fill up. In the meantime, James Vernon built a home in 1805 near the burying ground, and this house was used as a meeting house. This was the first gathering for religious worship in the township. Shortly afterwards, the trend of settlement having moved southward, the first meeting house was erected on the land where now stands the yearly meeting house. Consequently the intention of Robert P. Plummer Sr. was not carried out, but the plot became a township burying grounds and is still known by that name. We do not have the date of the death of Abraham Plummer, but one or the other of these two is buried in this acre donated by Robert Plummer Sr. and we suppose it was the former, as he passed out of the records rather soon. In those days no stones marked the graves of Friends.
After arriving at the new home, two more children were born to Robert and Rachel; Mary C. in 1809 and Robert Jr. born 1813. The latter was just one year old when Robert Sr. died. The widow Rachel, presently married Caleb Engle. In the course of time the farm became the property of Robert Plummer Jr. and his mother again a widow, lived out her space of life with her son's family.
In 1836, Robert Jr. married Jane Bailey (born 1817), the daughter of Micajah and Mary Bailey, They raised eight children out of nine. The house not being commodious enough for such a family, he added more rooms to the old part as can be readily seen.
Part of the original farm was disposed of to the Belmont County Childrens home. The remainder was purchased in 1940 by Charles and Ellen Morlan and were presented to the Friends Boarding School as a gift of love. Both were members of the Boarding School Committee.
A maple sugar camp was operated on the place and also cane was raised for sorghum molasses made for themselves and neighbors. Lye was leached out of wood ashes and home made soap was for a long time the only kind they knew. Flax and wool were both raised and processed at home for wearing apparel. Weaving of cloth, carpets and bed spreads was an almost daily occupation. When trees became scarce, a coal mine was opened "down in the woods" which still is in operation.
The story came by word of mouth that so dense was the forest and undergrowth when the first settlers arrived, that it took them three days (some five) to cut their way from Morristown to their destination, about six miles away. Corn had to be ground at Morristown, flour had to be hauled from St. Clairsville, and the nearest neighbor was a mile away.
The name of Robert Plummer Sr. is seen often in the Stillwater monthly meeting minutes. He was the first recorder of births and deaths being appointed in 1809.
Robert Plummer Jr. used to go once a year to buy shoes in Barnesville for his brood. He guessed at sizes, brought home a big sack full of various kinds, dumped them on the floor and told the children to fit themselves. They were all straight shoes, no rights nor lefts, so that by changing each day from one foot to the other, they wore longer.
When the early trail became a road, it passed immediately in front of the house, dividing the farm. Drovers and tramps were frequent guests and none were ever turned away. But the latter were granted but one room (which frequently had to be de-loused) and to this day it is still called the "tramps room", where they were locked in. The droves of cattle were turned into the fields.
"Aunt Martha Leek", a neighbor, and Rachel (Plummer) Engle, both spent their last years at the old house. As was pretty general in those days both smoked tobacco in pipes. It used to be the duty of the oldest granddaughter to fill and light these pipes. A mischievous tale is told of one of these old ladies. We do not know which.
One night she had a "boy friend" who was apparently staying over night. They sat one on each side of the big fireplace in the living room. It got later and later. Conversation languished and died. Finally she said "I wish thee would go to bed, I want to take my smoke" He replied, "I have been waiting for thee to go to bed so I could take mine." So both lit their pipes, visited as they smoked and puffed the smoke up the chimney so the family would not know how long they sat up.
Once in the earlier days when it was customary for Friends as well as others to use a "home brew" of some sort to regale the harvest hands? little Robert Plummer Jr. was sent to the fields with the jug. His curiosity was aroused, probably more than once on the way and he sampled the contents. They found him in a drunken stupor. Horrified at what had happened, his step father banned forever any intoxicant on the farm.
About three months after Rachel Plummer became a widow, Caleb Engle, who was recently a widower with several children, met her at meeting and expressed some sympathy for her. He also hinted that they might possibly become interested in each other. She was offended at such a suggestion but he added "Oh I know thee isn't thinking of such things yet, but thee's still young and goodlooking, and somebody is going to get thee. I wanted my name in first." He not only got it in first but last also and in two years they married. The families mingled till her youngest child said many years afterwards that there was such harmony they could never have told which parent claimed which children.
Source: Compiled by: Laura Hoyle, Cambridge, Ohio.
See next entry: Little Home Histories, Part 59 -- A Quaker Centennial.
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
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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