Excerpts from Various Books on Ohio and Michigan History

The costume of the woman deserves a passing notice. The pioneers proper, of course, brought with them something to wear like that in use where they came from; but this could not last always, and new apparel, such as the new country afforded, had to be provided. Besides, the little girls sprang up into womanhood with the rapidity of the native butterweed, and they must be made both decent and attractive, and what is more, they were willing to aid in making themselves so. The flax patch, therefore, became a thing of as prime necessity as the truck patch. On the aide next to the woods the flax grew tall, slender and delicate, and was carefully pulled by the girls, and kept by itself, to make finery of. The stronger growth did well enough for clothing for the men, and warp for the linsey-wolsey, and everyday dresses for the women, but for Sundays, when everybody went to "meeting," the girls, especially, wanted something nice, just as they do to-day. This fine flax, therefore, was carefully pulled ,carefully rotted, carefully broken, carefully scutched, carefully heckled, carefully spun, carefully dyed in divers colors, and carefully woven in cross-barred figures, tastefully diversified, straining a point to get turkey-red enough to put a single thread between the duller colors, to mark their outline like the circle around a dove's eye. Of such goods the rustic beauty made her Sunday gown, and then with her vandyke of snow-white homespun linen, her snow-white home-knit stockings, and possibly white kid slippers, she was a sight for sore eyes and often for sore hearts. No paint or arsenic was needed, for active exercise in the open air, under a sun-bonnet, or a broad-brimmed hat, to made by her mother out of rye straw, gave her a cheek an honest, healthful glow, and to her eyes the brightness and the beauty of the fawn's. Possibly those white kid slippers have caused a nod of skepticism. This is the way it was done: Her brother, or lover, shot six fine squirrels; she tanned the skins herself in a sugar-trough, and had them done up, at a considerable expense and trouble, to wear on Sundays and state occasions. Possibly it may be wondered how the slippers would look after walking five or ten miles through the mud to church, as was frequently done. There were ways of doing these things that were only whispered among the girls, but have leaked out and the same process was indulged in more or less by young men, who were fortunate enough to own a pair of fine boots—and that was to wear the everyday shoes or boots, or go barefoot to within a few rods of the "meeting-house," and then step into the woods and take the wraps from the precious shoes and put them on.

From "History of Coshocton County, Ohio, 1740-1881," compiled by N. N. Hill, Jr., A. A. Graham & Co., publishers (1881): Chapter XXVII, Pioneer Times, pp. 273-274. Also in "History of Knox County, Ohio, Its Past and Present," compiled by N. N. Hill, Jr., A. A. Graham & Co., publishers (1881): Chapter XXII, PIONEER TIMES, p. 215. Also in "History of Licking County, Ohio, Its Past and Present," compiled by N. N. Hill, Jr., A. A. Graham & Co., publishers (1881): Chapter XXVI, PIONEER TIMES, p. 230-231.

Soon after the war of 1812 James Nail Esq., was in Richland County: his father's was the seventh family in the county. Mr. Nail was born in Somerset County, Penn., November 9, 1797; he left his father in 1819 and came to Sandusky Township, and bought 160 acres of land (called Congress land), two miles north of Galion. In 1821, he married and settled on his land. When he first came, he knew of no neighbors but the Leveredges and his brother-in-law, Lewis Leiberger, with whom he lived till married. The next year, Leiberger moved away. Bee-trees were plenty at this time, and Mr. Nail and his brother-in-law started one morning on a bee hunt, taking a southwest course. They camped the first night on Sandusky Plains, half-way between Galion and Bucyrus, at a small stream; the next day they hunted till evening, and camped on Sandusky River, two miles west of Bucyrus; they saw many deer and turkeys, many bee-trees, but not a human being or a settlement. By the year 1821, John Brown, Benjamin Sharrock, Nathaniel Story and Mr. Hosford had moved into the neighborhood. For a long time, the Indians had been in the habit of taking large quantities of cranberries to Richland County; they would sometimes be seen with eight or ten horses loaded down with bark boxes filled with cranberries; these boxes were slung over the back of the horses and each one led by an Indian, single file. They traded the cranberries for meal, etc.; the Indians kept secret the place of their growth, but Mr. Nail, his father-in-law, Samuel Brown, Michael Brown and Jacob Miller, determined to find the place where they were procured. They went southwest till they struck the Pennsylvania army road, and followed it for several miles, which was easily distinguished; after going some distance they thought they had better go farther north; this they did till they struck the Sandusky River, east of Bucyrus. As they came to the stream, they heard a man chopping a little above; Mr. Nail told his companions that Indians were around. or else some white man had got in: they rode up and found Mr. Daniel McMichael, a man they had never seen before; he seemed much alarmed, but was re-assured when Mr. Nail rode up close to him. This man gave them directions, and went with them a distance, showing them the Indian trail that led to the cranberry marsh. They camped out that night, and saw the camp-fires of several parties of Indians, but were not molested. The next morning, they gathered as many cranberries as their horses could carry. They reached home that evening; in passing over the military road, the weeds were as high as their horses' heads. They saw but one man during the trip. Mr. Nail states that their food, when he was young, consisted of bear's meat, venison, turkey, corn-meal, potatoes and hominy. Their clothing was generally buckskin and linsey-woolsey; the children mostly went bareheaded and barefooted nearly all the year. They made some kind of linen from the nettles. Some time after Mr Nail and his brother-in-law had hunted and marked their bee-trees, they went after the honey. After it was all collected. they lacked a little of two barrels; Mr. Christian Snyder had moved to the neighborhood a little while before, and was about going hock for his goods: he offered to take the honey to Jefferson County for nothing, saying, it would there sell for $1 a gallon.

From "History of Crawford County and Ohio," Baskin & Battey, Historical Publishers (1881): Chapter XI, pp. 426-427.

A devout Christian, Deacon Monroe is still remembered in the community as a very pious man. One day he was lecturing some of his neighbors about not attending church, when they remarked, "Well, but Deacon, you have shoes to wear, and we would have to go barefooted." "Why," said he, "if that is all, I will go barefooted too." So the next church day, the delinquent brothers went to meeting " to see if Deacon Monroe would keep his word." Sure enough the Deacon was there barefooted, and had taken a seat just inside of the door with his feet so displayed that any one on the outside could not avoid seeing them. As each man came up to the door and caught sight of the Deacon's naked feet, he walked in and took his seat. Thus, by adapting himself to circumstances, he largely increased the attendance at church; on this particular Sunday at least. But whether they were drawn thither for the benefit of divine worship, or to see whether Deacon Monroe would attend church barefooted is somewhat problematical.

From "History of Delaware County and Ohio," O. L. Baskin's Co., Historical Publishers (1880): Chapter XIV, p. 418.

About the same time the Indians were removed from Greentown, Levi Jones was killed, near Mansfield. On the thirteenth of August, 1812, John Wallace and a man by the name of Reed went out a half-mile east of town to clear off a places for a brickyard. In the afternoon, Levi Jones, who kept a grocery in the cabin on the Sturgis corner, went out where they were at work and remained with them some time. In returning, he took a different route from the one by which he went out, it being a trail through the woods. When he reached the vicinity of the brick block lately known as the Friendly Inn, and near the foot of the hill on the east side of North Main street, he was fired upon by a party of Indians in ambush. It is supposed this was a party of the Greentown Indians. They probably had some grudge against Jones, who sold whisky, and had trouble with them at different times on this account. One shot took effect, the ball entering the back of the left hand, passing through the hand and entering the right breast. The hand through which the ball passed was confined at his breast by a sling, in consequence of a felon on his thumb. Jones did not fall immediately, but, giving a yell of pain and alarm, started on a run for the block-house. He might have reached it, but unfortunately came in contact with a brush across the path, which threw him backward upon the ground. Before he could regain his feet, the Indians were upon him, and finished their work by stabbing him several times in the back. They then scalped him, and, having secured his hat and handkerchief, gave the scalp yell and left.

John Pugh and Mr. Westfall were working a few rods from the place, and hearing the yell, ran into town and gave the alarm. They returned, and found Jones lying dead in the trail, but, fearing an ambush, left him there and returned to the block-house. In a very few minutes everybody in the vicinity heard the news, and all immediately took shelter in the block-house. The excitement was very great; they momentarily expected an attack. During all this time, the supposition was that Reed and Wallace, who were clearing the brickyard in that direction, had also been killed by the Indians, and that the latter were still lurking in the neighborhood. The wives of Reed and Wallace were almost frantic, thinking their husbands had been murdered. It was now about sundown, and, as it seems there were no soldiers in the block-house at that time, it was determined to send immediately to Mount Vernon for help. Who would volunteer to go, was the question. It was a hazardous journey; whoever volunteered would stand a fair chance of losing his scalp. It happened that, just at that time, the eccentric but brave Johnny Appleseed was present. He immediately volunteered to undertake the hazardous journey, and started about dark, bareheaded and barefooted, through the wilderness. He reached Mount Vernon in safety, and with such expedition that Captain Garey, with a party of soldiers, was at the block-house by sunrise the next morning.

On this journey Johnny Appleseed gave a warning cry at every cabin he passed, informing the inmates that Reed, Wallace, and Jones were killed, and that the Indians were passing south. There was something awful, it is said, in Johnny's warning cry, as he pounded at the door of each cabin he passed, and shouted to the inmates: "Flee! flee! for your lives! The Indians are upon you," and, before they could open the door, or fairly comprehend his meaning, this angel of mercy had disappeared in the darkness and night, on his way with the fleetness of a deer to the next cabin and, pressing forward like the wind, left pallor and surprise behind. Shortly after Johnny left, Reed and Wallace made their appearance at the block-house, safe and sound, to the great joy of all.

From "History of Knox County, Ohio, Its Past and Present," compiled by N. N. Hill, Jr., A. A. Graham & Co., publishers (1881): Chapter XIX, INDIANS, p. 184.

One of the "queer" characters around Newark in an early day was John Sparks. He was generally seen barefooted, walking along the streets and alleys with a fishing pole on his shoulder, for he was a true disciple of Isaac Walton. He had an overpowering repugnance to labor, and irresistible vagabondizing proclivities. He was born on the South branch of the Potomac in 1758, and when, in 1803, President Jefferson organized an exploring expedition to cross the continent, he joined it, and thus became a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition; from this fact, alone, he acquired his importance. The expedition started in the spring of 1804, and from their next winter's quarters, on the Missouri river, sent John Sparks back to Washington with dispatches, where he arrived late in the summer, and was honorably discharged.

Sparks was vigorous, robust, and adapted to a life of hardship and adventure. He had no family, and lived a sort of haphazard, precarious, hard life, dying in 1846.

From "History of Licking County, Ohio, Its Past and Present," compiled by N. N. Hill, Jr., A. A. Graham & Co., publishers (1881): Chapter LXIII, NEWARK TOWNSHIP AND CITY CONTINUED, p. 546.

"I have seen Springer's two boys—Tom and Silas—without shoes at Christmas. Tom was a great hunter, and frequently went with me on such occasions. One morning we started out early and crossed Little Darby and the Spring Fork. Late in the evening, Tom killed a fine buck, and by the time it was dressed it was dark. Tom wanted to know what we would do. I told him we would have to camp out, and he seemed very well pleased at the idea. We made a fire and roasted some of our venison for supper. Tom was rather industrious, and did most of the drudgery, getting the wood and water. Late at night, we began to talk about sleeping. Tom said as he had no blanket he would have to sleep with me. I told him that two grown-up Indians never slept together; they are like two male bears, never found in the same hole or tree, for, if they should happen to get together, they would fight. and one or the other would have to leave. 'Well,' said he, 'what am I to do; I have no blanket.' I told him he ought to have thought of that before he started, and that he never saw an Indian go out without his gun, knife, tomahawk and blanket. 'Well,' said he. 'I do not know what I shall do if you will not let me sleep with you.' I told him we would fix our beds and he could sleep in his buckskin. I had only been teasing him, as the deerskin was, after all, the warmest thing he could sleep in. I had looked out an old tree before dark, and so I went and got a lot of bark to keep us off the ground. Tom stretched himself out, wrapped in his deerskin, and was soon snoring. I woke up in the night and found it was snowing very first, but as Tom was still snoring I did not disturb him. When we awoke in the morning there was about six inches of snow on the ground. When Tom opened out his buckskin to get up, the snow fell on his face and scared him some, for he declared that he knew nothing of the snow until he woke up. Taking all together, Tom had the better night's rest of the two. We built a fire and roasted some of our venison, and then packed the remainder and started for home. Tom never got tired telling about that hunting trip. One morning, I went out before day coon hunting, a year or so before our deer hunt. There was a heavy frost. Just after daylight, I met Silas and Tom Springer. Tom was barefooted, and I asked him if his feet were not cold. 'No,' said he, `not much.' How the fellow could stand it and go through such a frost and not freeze his feet. I never could understand. After Tom grew up to be a man, he went out West, and I saw no more of him.

From "History of Madison County, Ohio," W. H. Beers & Co. (1883): Chapter IV, PIONEERS PRIOR TO 1800, p. 289.

Samuel Hayden's cabin in Harmony was built on the hill, where the later residence was built. His wife was quite timid about the trees failing on the house, and was given due notice when one was about to fall near the cabin. Game was plenty, and, by removing the chinking between the logs, he frequently supplied his table with wild turkey or venison. In the year following his settlement here, it is said that Mr. Hayden walked barefooted to Mount Vernon and back, a distance of thirty-four miles, in one day, carrying a pail of butter, which he exchanged, at five cents per pound, for powder and lead. This was the ordinary price for this article, and eggs sold for two cents a dozen, with no demand at that.

From "History of Morrow County and Ohio," O. L. Baskin & Co., Historical Publishers (1880): Chapter XVII, p. 467-468.

Dr. George W. Sampson settled in Tymochtee Township in the spring of 1828, and at once commenced the practice of medicine. In January, 1880, he removed to and settled at McCutchenville, where he has resided ever since. At the time of his arrival, the road from Upper Sandusky to Tiffin was the only one laid out in this part of the county. All traveling was accomplished by following the Indian trails. His practice extended to Melmore on the east, Little Sandusky on the south, ten miles beyond Find lay on the west, and to Tiffin on the north. Owing to the absence of bridges, he was compelled to ford or swim all streams, and often rode seventy and seventy-five miles in a day and night during the sickly seasons. There are now more than fifty physicians in the same territory.

His first patient was a Mr. Crane, who then lived upon lands now occupied by the town of Carey. A son, about eighteen years of age, came for him on foot, bareheaded, barefooted, and with only enough clothing to cover about one-half of his person. He led the way to where they lived, and it required fast riding, the doctor says, to keep in sight of him.

From "The History of Wyandot County, Ohio," Leggett, Conaway & Co. (1884): Chapter VIII, THE MEDICAL PROFESSION, p. 377.


David Hopkins was born in Washington County, New York, in the year 1794, where he lived until 1816, when he removed to Cayuga County, remaining there until 1834, when he came to Michigan. He first settled on the river below Niles, where he lived two years, then moving to Volinia, where he died on the 7th of April, 1850, at the age of fifty-six, his wife surviving him but two days.

He was a man of many peculiarities, especially in dress, frequently going bare-headed and bare-footed, when other required heavy winter clothing; a great hunter and trapper, at home in the woods wherever night overtook him. His special forte was bee hunting, and it is said that not unfrequently every available vessel about the house would be filled with honey from the woods. He was a man of considerable native ability and shrewdness, and served a number of terms as Supervisor and one term as County Commissioner.

From "History of Cass County, From 1825 to 1875," by Howard S. Rogers; W. H. Mansfield, Vigilant Book and Job Print, Cassopolis, Mich. (1875), pp. 359-360.


Religious services were held in cabins and school houses till "meeting houses" (for they had no use for "'churches") could be built. In the summer they walked to "meeting" barefoot, for shoes were hard to obtain. Lads and lassies, who sustained the delightful relation of lovers, would pair off into the bushes just before they arrived at the house of worship and, seated on the same log, put on the shoes and stockings, which had been carried in the hand. Then, when church was out, the foot coverings were removed and the church goers plodded home as they had come. On one occasion the preacher, a magnificent specimen of physical manhood, was delivering his discourse in his bare feet, one of which was placed on the split-bottomed chair, belonging to the pulpit—the only chair in the house. He became very earnest, and, finally, an emphatic stamp of his foot sent it through the bottom of the chair. The removal of the limb was not so easy and several of the pillars of the church came to his rescue, amid the subdued tittering of the giddy young people. The release being accomplished, the preacher cast the chair violently behind him with the muttered command: "Get thee behind me, Satan."

From "History of Fairfield and Perry Counties, Ohio," compiled by A. A. Graham; Chicago: W. H. Beers & Co. 1883, p. 58.