David Short was born 1809 on the family farm in Bourbon County, Kentucky. David's parents had only recently moved here from Botetourt County, Virginia. David was our first direct Short ancestor to have been born in the newly formed United States of America.
James Madison was president and the population of the United States had risen to 7,239,000 while the world's population was approaching an incredible one billion.
When David was about two, the 1811 earthquake centered in the New Madrid fault of Missouri was so strong it caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards and rang church bells as far away as Philadelphia.
In 1812, our nation again went to war against England and lasted until 1815, culminating with the Battle of New Orleans. Following this war, David's parents moved to Indiana. Crossing the Ohio River at the foot of the Ohio's falls, which was a natural portage at Louisville, the family moved into Indiana and settled in Washington County near the town of Salem.
Washington County was still wild frontier country at this time. Although by now there was little danger from Indians, herds of wild hogs roamed the country, wolves scoured the forest and hills, and under any rock or fallen timber might be a deadly rattlesnake lurking.
David grew strong in this wilderness and eventually grew to six and a half feet in height. He was a man of great strength and stamina. He enjoyed impressing the girls with his feats of strength, such as lifting logs unaided, or pitting himself against other men in friendly competitions.
David finally impressed one girl enough to marry him. Hannah Magdaline Carleton was a girl of mixed English and German heritage. She was born July 17, 1812 in Botetourt County, Virginia, the daughter of William Carleton and Magdaline Prince. Her family had also moved to Washington County following the War of 1812.
David and Hannah were married December 13, 1832. The following year, in the autumn of the year, everyone in Washington County beheld a remarkable sight. A march of squirrels, reportedly in the countless millions crossed the county from the north. They marched through houses and barns, filled every tree, covered fences, and it was impossible to keep them out of the crops. Many people lost their entire crop for the year, with nothing to lay up for winter. Many thought God had sent the plague, while others knew it must mean the end of the world. From where the squirrels came or where they went, no one ever knew.
To enforce the belief that they had lost favor with God or that indeed the world was about to end, another very remarkable event occurred the next year. It was a massive meteor shower, unlike any had ever seen before. Meteors "fell like rain drops," it was reported, and "left a stream of fire behind like a sizzling roman candle." People fell to their knees and prayed, for surely it was the end of the world, many believed.
However, the world did not end and life returned to normal. David's father died around this time and it was up to David and his younger brothers to manage the family farm, planting crops, hunting, seeing tot he livestock, and all the dozens of other things that were required.
David and Hannah's first child was born in 1835, the same year his father died. They named her Sarah. Sarah was followed by Louisa in 1836, William Carleton in 1838, James Madison in 1840, and Elizabeth Ellen in 1841.
David had the common fever of the time, the fever of moving west and taking up new lands. He had been thinking about this for years, and some time after Elizabeth's birth and before 1845 he moved his family westward to Missouri.
Missouri had been a state since 1821, but western Missouri was still frontier country. David settled his family in Henry County, near the small town of Leesville. Some of the Carleton clan had moved here in 1840, including Hannah's mother, so they knew what it was like in this new land.
Four more children were born to David and Hannah in Missouri, all daughters: Mary Ann in 1845, Esther in 1846, Hannah in 1847, and Rebecca Ann in 1851.
Life was hard on the frontier and it took its toll. Two of David and Hannah's daughters, Esther and Hannah, died in childhood. David's wife, Hannah, also died while still quite young. At age 41, Hannah died March 21, 1854 and was laid to rest in the Carleton family cemetery near Leesville. It was then left to the older girls to take on the responsibility of raising the younger children and see the running of the household.
David didn't remarry, at least for several years. As the 1850's were closing and the 1860's opening, there was talk of the South seceding from the Union and the possibility of war. When the Civil War came, Missouri was a border state and its people were torn between loyalty for the Union and the Confederacy. David, being from Indiana, was in sympathy witht he Union, and worked supplying them with sheep. In fact, he was once driving a herd of sheep for the Union Army when it was stampeded and captured by a Confederate force. And two of David's sons joined the Union army, William and James, serving from 1862 until April 7, 1865.
Shortly before the war ended, and after more than ten years as a bachelor, David married Nancy Ann Mizer on January 15, 1865. Nancy, who was born in 1844 was 35 years younger than David, but at 55 David was still a strong and handsome man.
David and his 20 year-old bride moved to McDonald County in southwestern Missouri, settling a homestead at Bear Hollow. There, David and Nancy had four children: Kathryn in 1866, Andrew in 1870, George in 1871 and Thomas in 1875.
Tragedy struck in 1879. David was clearing land when a tree fell the wrong way and struck his hand. The injury brought about his death and he was laid to rest on his homestead near Caverna in McDonald County.
Nancy, who was the daughter of Henry C. Mizer and Elizabeth Wolfe, married Daniel Hamlin after David's death. Nancy died September 17, 1895 in Caverna, McDonald County, Missouri. She had been born 1844 in Cleveland, Bradley County, Tennessee.
Also see the story of how our Short family gave Indiana its nickname, "Hoosier".
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