Originally scanned and published on the web by Art Steele, and, as it appears now is his copyright please see the story of how he recieved the Narrative and put it online here.��His site seems to be down and this is such an interesting look into pioneer life in Ohio circa 1800 it is a pity not to have it up.�
Grandma Trowbridge's Narrative
MY FATHER was born in New Marlborough, Mass. in 1756, August 1st, and was the son of Nehemiah and Beulah Howe. His name was Peter; he had three brothers Abner, Joel and John, and four sisters - Olive, Candes, Phebe and Beulah. He served a time in the Revolutionary war, I do not know how long, but have often heard him speak of being in the battle of Bunker Hill.
In 1780 he married my mother, Orinda Fuller, daughter of Peter and Submit Fuller. She had four brothers- Alven, Arnon, Miles and Marvin; and six sisters - Dorathy, Eunice, Submit, Lurana, Rachel and Matilda.
�My father purchased land and settled in Poultney, Rutland County, Vermont, and remained there until 1801. During that time they had 13 children; three died when Infants; the six oldest were girls. I was the sixth one, then two boys, and then two girls.
Their names were: Dianthy, Delinda, Vilaty, Minerva, Lorille, Sophronia, Cyrenus, Sylvanus, Orinda and Lucinda. The oldest children being girls, father had no help, and they, as they got old enough, had to help in haying and harvesting. I was not large enough to do much, but I got so I could rake hay, and mow away the hay in the barn.
Father used to make brick in the summer and we smaller children helped him in the brick yard; we could edge and hake the brick. Perhaps some do not know what that is; I can tell them; when the brick are made, they are turned down flat on the ground; when they are partially dry, we turned them upon the edge, so they could dry through; that we called edging them. When they were perfectly dry, we would carry them and pile them up regularly in long rows, which were called hakes; so thus we haked them.
The mode of making brick in those days was quite different, more laborious and slower in progress, than what they have now. Father had a smooth spot of ground, perhaps twenty feet in diameter, and planked around, which he called a bed, he would put the clay, sand and water into it, then he would turn in his oxen and drive them around in there, so as to tramp up the materials and make them into morter; rather a slow process.
Father thought he could invent a better way, so he got a stick of timber that would reach half across the morterbed, large at one end and tapered off to a few inches at the other, then he filled that full of cogs; then he set a post in the center of the bed, and fastened the small end of the timber to it with a swivel, and a handle at the other end to reach beyond the bed, then hitch the team to that and drive them around outside the bed. He found that much easier for the team; rolling that around in the bed, would mix the morter much faster. When he was making his machine, myself and the other young ones wanted to know what he was making; it looked so funny, a log all full of pins. He said it was a horry- co-morry; then we laughed, we thought the name as funny as the machine; so we always called it a horry-co-morry to tread morter. When he had got brick enough to make a kiln then he would burn them. I think it would take about a week to burn them; it was fun for us to go and sit in his little shanty and see the fires burn in the arches; for he had to keep it a burning day and night. We would often stay till bed-time.
We (when I say we, I mean the family), raised our own flax and wool, which made the principal part of our clothing, (for we seldom bought any foreign goods), and worked it all up by hand; carded, spun and wove the wool, hackled and spun the flax, carded and spun the tow, and wove it all; machinery was unknown in those days. We would make from fifty to eighty yards each yearly. I don't know what the girls would think at the present time, if they had to work up fifty or a hundred weight of wool and flax in a year; but then they thought it fun; were happy and contented; much more so, I think, than they are at the present time, doing nothing. They would try sometimes and see which could spin the most in a day; the one that could spin the most would have to brag a little over the others; but they did not care for that, but would try again.
I was not large enough to spin and weave at this time, but I could pool, and quill, and do chores, and wait on the older ones while they done the carding, spinning and weaving; but I was one to help. The wool made our winter clothing, the flax our summer, bed-clothes and all. Mother and the girls would have one calico dress each; they would wear it only to meeting or on particular occasions, and when they came home, would take it off and lay it away ready for the next occasion. They made diaper for table-cloths and towels; but we did not use tablecloths every day, but ate on bare table, which saved a good deal of labor and expense.
�For breakfast, we generally had some kind of warm drink; would scorch a crust of bread, or an ear of corn, or a little meal or flour and make coffee, or a sometimes have sage or thyme tea, sometimes brown some rye for coffee; we had tea cups and saucers for our drink; we would fry our meat, then cut it up into mouthfuls, and put it on a dish - for we used no plates for breakfast - our vituals was all cut up and each one helped themselves with their fork out of the same dish.
For, dinner we had boiled vituals; would put on a large dinner- pot, hung on a crane in the fireplace, then put a piece of meat, then put in a corn meal pudding in a bag, then when it was time, put in the sauce, potatoes, turnips, cabbage, beets, parsnips, or whatever we had; when it was done, the pudding was turned out on a platter, and the rest of the vituals on another platter; we had large pewter platters that would hold a good deal, and pewter plates or wooden trenchers to eat on; we generally had beer to drink for dinner; had a quart pewter mug, filled it and set it on the table, and every one drank out of the same mug; now, each one must have a glass by himself - it won't do for two to drink out of the same glass.
For supper, we had hasty pudding and milk, bread and milk, milk porrige, or bean soup, which we ate in pewter basins; mother would fill a two-quart basin. and set it on a bench, or stool, and three or four children would get around it, with each a spoon, and thus ate their suppers. It was a general custom to brew and bake every Saturday; we would brew a keg of beer and bake bread enough to last a week. We had a brick oven in the chimney, by the side of the fire-place, that would hold five or six loaves; when they were done, would heat the oven again, (the way we heat the oven was to fill it with fire wood and burn it.; when it was burned down, then shovel out the coals and sweep out the ashes with an oven broom), and fill it with a corn meal pudding, an iron basin full of meat and beans, pies and cakes, and anything else we wished for the next week. The greatest share of our bread was made of corn and rye meal, mixed, raised, and baked in loaves; the best bread there is made, I think, and the healthiest. I don't see any such bread in these days.
We had plenty of snow in Vermont; sometimes it was two feet deep on a level; it would settle and become crusted, so we could run all over the fields on the crust; sometimes we would break through, that was not so funny; but that did not prevent our running again. In time of going to school, we all had fun, sliding down hill on hand sleds. There was a hill, of a gentle slope, across the road from the schoolhouse, so we could slide down the hill and go straight into the schoolhouse door, whack against the chimney. We used to build snow houses, roll up large snow-balls and lay up a wall around and arch it over, leaving a door to go in; it would be quite warm in those houses.
Going home from school one night, we saw a track in the snow, that appeared to come down the hill, cross the road, and go off across the meadow. It was such as none of the children ever saw before; there were several scholars along, but none of them ever saw such a track before! We thought it must be some wild animal, and concluded it must be a bear that had been along. When we got home, we told our parents that we saw a track across the road that we thought must be a bear track; they asked what kind of a track it was, so we described it the best we could. We said it was ten or twelve inches long, and not as wide as it was long, and run out to a point at the heel, and was all in checks. Oh, la! they said, there had been some person along there with snow-shoes on. We had heard of snow shoes, but never thought they made such a track, so I always remembered the snow-shoe track. We made all the sugar and molasses we wanted from sugar-trees; scarcely ever saw any other kind. Sometimes we would try a loaf of white sugar, but very seldom, it cost too much.
Young folks were not afraid to walk any reasonable distance, say two or three miles, those days, and when it was too far to walk, and more than one wanted to go, they would ride two on a horse. Nearly every one that owned a horse and saddle, had a pillion also, that was a cushion to put on behind the saddle, and fasten to it with a strip of board suspended in front by a couple of straps to rest their feet on, so they could sit there, the same as sitting in a chair, but in the winter, we had excellent sleighing; nearly all traveling was done in sIeighs. When father and mother went visiting to our grandfathers, or any of our uncles, they would generally take some of us children with them. I enjoyed such a trip very much; five or six miles' ride in a sleigh was fun.
In 1799 and 1800 some of father's acquaintances moved to Ohio, (the far West) and wrote back such glowing accounts of the country, how very rich the soil, how much easier one could get a living there, that father and mother, concluded they had better sell out there and go to Ohio; so in 1801 he sold his place and made preparations for moving. My oldest sister being married, she and her husband concluded to go along, and three other families made up their minds to bear us company; so our company numbered thirty persons.