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Ohio Vanderfords

On September 4, 1804 a group of some forty persons left Chatham County, North Carolina for the new territory of Ohio. With the Dixons and Ratcliffs came William Vanderford (2012), his wife Sarah, their two very young children, and William's younger brother Eli (2013). William loaded his small family and household effects into a wagon, and he and Eli drove the wagon and livestock from their home on Cedar Creek in North Carolina to Charlestown, West Virginia.

Since there was no wagon road through the forest, the goods were transferred to a keel boat at Charlestown. The wagons were taken apart and loaded on the boat with the women and children, while the animals were driven overland. At Gallipolis the wagons were rebuilt, the goods reloaded and the overland journey resumed.

In October, the new arrivals joined a temporary settlement previously established near Richmondale by friends from North Carolina. From this settlement they choose and entered their claims to this new land. The families settled in the hill land, since the valley was mosquito infested and malaria was rampant. William settled in the rugged western section of Vinton County in the Salt Creek Valley, which was fertile and well-drained.

All the first homes were log cabins, just round logs with the cracks daubed with clay. As time became available the logs were hewn so that they could be better fitted together. Later the cabins were weatherboarded on the outside and ceilinged on the inside. Chimneys were constructed of field stone, and the broad fireplaces burned immense logs that kept a fire going all night in winter. Cooking and baking was done in hot embers or in iron kettles hung on cranes in the fireplace.

In 1837 the first home furnishings of Joel Vanderford (3006) and Emeline Bull were very meager by current standards. Their table was a board laid on the flour barrel and they had half a dozen plates, knives and forks, one kettle, a teakettle and a skillet. For a cupboard, Joel put clapboards on wooden pins in the wall. They started with one good bed and a bedstead, two chairs with splint bottoms and two without bottoms.

The men commonly wore a hunting shirt which was loose and reached to mid-thigh. The shirt was open in front and lapped over upon the chest by a foot. It was worn belted and was made of coarse linen or dressed deer-skin. Breeches were made of heavy cloth or of deer-skin which was comfortable when dry. When wet they were very cold and at the next wearing were almost as stiff as if made of wood. Hats or caps were made of various native furs.

The women learned to spin, weave and sew at an early age. Hannah Dowd had a well-filled hope chest prior to marrying Enos Vanderford (3013) in 1834. Hannah spun the wool and flax produced on her father's farm, and wove enough linsey-woolsey, a mixture of linen and wool, to buy her wedding clothes. She put the roll of many yards of cloth in front of her saddle and rode the forty miles to Chillicothe. There she sold the entire roll for the swiss for her wedding dress, black silk for a good dress and a light, printed cotton for a third dress. Hannah spun the linen thread and wove her own sheets and pillow cases. She made her own blankets from wool grown on her father's farm, pieced her quilts and tied her comforters.

A wedding was the event of most importance in the sparsely settled new land. When a marriage was to be celebrated, all the neighborhood turned out. It was customary for dinner to be served after the ceremony was performed. The dinner would be a substantial backwoods feast of beef, pork, fowls and bear or deer meat, with whatever vegetables were available. After dinner, the dancing began and was usually kept up until the next morning. The new husband and wife were put to bed in the most approved fashion, and with considerable formality, in the middle of the evening's rout.

Prior to Enos (3013) and Hannah's marriage, Enos bought 40 acres about a mile from Raccoon Creek, which he cleared and put under cultivation. Hannah's parents gave her the customary pioneer dowery: A horse, a cow with its calf, a hen and chickens, and a feather bed and pillows.

There was great difficulty in obtaining the commonest goods and they sold at enormous prices. Goods were packed from Detroit, or wagoned from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, thence floated down the Ohio to the mouth of the Scioto, and then brought up the stream in boats, or packed along the banks. Tea sold for two or three dollars a pound. Coffee brought from seventy-five cents to a dollar; salt, five to six dollars per fifty pound bushel, and the commonest kinds of calico were sold for a dollar a yard.

The only mill for a number of years was at Chillicothe, requiring a lengthy journey to obtain flour and meal. Joel Vanderford (3006) purchased two bushels of wheat and had it ground for his hard-earned $2.50. This wheat proved to be worthless and made him sick. So, Joel made a bargain with a miller one mile east of Wolf Lake. He had to drive his ox team sixteen miles and do a hard day's logging for a bushel of corn meal.

The purchasing of land was not always straightforward. There were the land speculators who bought large tracts of land and held them at higher prices. There was another group of swindlers who hung around the land office waiting for an honest farmer to apply to purchase the land he wanted for his home and farm. One of the swindlers would then look up the farmer and say that he wanted the same tract and threaten to bid on the land unless a compromise was made. Frequently considerable sums were thus extracted from the settler.

There were some tough times in Noble County, Indiana, when Joel (3006) first settled there. The spring of 1838 was very wet and the summer very hot. As a consequence, the water in the swamps rapidly evaporated, and the atmosphere became contaminated and poisoned. The whole county was transformed into one vast hospital, filled with suffering patients. The frosts of autumn checked the ravages of disease, and the settlers regained their health.

There was a gang of desperadoes operating in Northern Indiana who were engaged in theft, robbery and passing counterfeit money. They appeared to have a passion for horses and a settler frequently found his log stable empty in the morning. Two horse-thieves were arrested in the Haw Patch when a stolen horse was found nearby. It was blind and easy to identify. After many years the gang was finally broken up, although not all were brought to justice. Many settlers, including Joel, left Noble for a few years and returned when there was a reasonable expectation of maintaining possession of his livestock.


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