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Full text of "Circleville reminisences : a description of Circleville, Ohio (1825-1840) ; also an account of the 115-year old sister of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry"



OLBOLEYXLLE BBMINISCBNCBS, 
mi X IBSCHIPTION OP CiaGLBYILLB, 
* I * OHIO (1825-1340) 



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UNIVERSITY 
OF PITTSBURGH 



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LIBRARY 





3 1735 060 759 051 



CIRCIEVILLE, OHIO 

REMINISCENCES 



CIRCLEVILLE 
Reminiscences 



A Description of Orcleville, Ohio 
(1825-1840) 

Also an Account of the 

115-year-old sister of 

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry 



Published By 

DAVID KNOWLTON WEBB 

Chillicothe, Ohio 

1944 



PUBLISHER'S NOTE 

All of the material in this book is 
taken from a scrap book left by 
the late G. F. Wittich of Circleville 
and has been edited with the help 
of corrections made by Mr. Wittich 
in his annotations. 



CIRCLEVILLE 



AN OLD CITIZEN WRITES UP 
THE PAST 



And Revels In Thoughts Of 
Old Time Situations 



Banning, Cal., Oct. 3d, 1887. 

Editor Union-Herald: — Fifty years ago 
this night I landed from the canal boat, 
Circleville, Captain, John H. Sunderman 
at the foot of Main street, with my father's 
family, and were taken to old National 
House then kept by Mr. Darst, the father 
of Mrs. Henry M. Hedges, Sr. 

The circle was then complete, and nearly 
all the business was done in it, Jacob Lutz 
and Messrs. Gregg and Wolfley had moved 
on Main street the winter before. In go- 
ing up Main street from the canal, we 
passed Samuel Briner's grocery and bak- 
ery, on the corner canal and Main, then 
the McArthur block, which was just up 



to the second story, then came Lutz's 
store, in the room now occupied by Lynch 
& Son, then Gregg and Wolfley, Wm. and 
Hugh Bell. Wm. J. Pyle, M. S. Butler and 
Israel Gregg and Lenant, all in the block 
then known as commercial row, the next 
was the Market House, where Messrs. 
Clark, Steele, and Jones block now stands, 
I do not recollect what was on the site 
where the next block stands. The next 
house that I remember was Mr. Jacolb 
Leiby (saddler), a two story frame, where 
the Second National Bank now stands; the 
upstairs he occupied as a workshop, and 
the lower room as a salesroom, an"d justice 
of peace office, adjoining that was another 
two story frame, occupied by Major Bright 
and Capt. S. Swindell as a tin shop, from 
then on to the Circle was a row of wooden 
buildings, two of them are still remaining, 
those occupied by T. J. Epps and Caddy 
Miller, on the corner of Main and the 
Circle, was a one story frame grocery,* 
kept by William Hamilton, next to him on 
the Circle going south, was John Hedges' 
cabinet shop next to him, and cornered on 
Bastile Avenue was a two story frame 
house, one half occupied by Isaac Darst as 
a store, an<d the other half as a dwelling. 
The next house was Dick Jenkens' saloon 

6 



(in '42 and '43 used by Mr. French as a 
girls' seminary; in 1844 Wittich's confec- 
tionery), the next was a little one story 
frame, occupied by Henry Sage as jeweler 
and watch maker, then came Thomas 
Moore's grocery, the Masonic Temple, now 
occupies the ground. After crossing South 
Main street, the only business houses I 
recollect between that and the Avenue was 
Samuel Diffenderfer's grocery, then came 
the Avenue leading to the old stone jail. 
On the east side of this Avenue were the 
county offices, and where the elections 
were held. On the corner of East Main 
and the Circle, was a drug store, I believe 
kept by Dr. E. B. Olds, the Star Saloon 
now occupies the site. On the opposite 
corner was the old Circleville House kept 
by Jacob Gossler, a part of the old tavern 
is now occupied by James Harsha as a 
Marble shop. As the old man was a very 
clever and social Dutchman (German), 
and had two very nice girls and kept an 
excellent table he was well patronized by 
the young men. The next building was 
Matthew McCrea's dwelling, a two story 
frame on the corner of the Avenue leading 
to the old Academy building, and the old 
Methodist church, which afterwards burned 
down. On the opposite corner was a frame 



building, occupied by the Widow Jackson 
and three Bell girls, one of them married 
William Entrekin, and is still living, an- 
other one married a Presbyterian minister, 
by the name of Wells, the other I do not 
know whom she married nor do I know 
whether they are living or not. The next 
was a two story frame, one part occupied 
by Francis Kinnear, as a dwelling, and 
the room on the corner of North Main 
street as a store; in the rear and fronting 
on North Main street was the residence of 
old Joseph Johnson; immediately north 
was a tavern kept by Gen. John E. Mor- 
gan, the site now occupied by Wm. Baud- 
er's carriage shop. On the North West 
corner of North Main and the Circle, stood 
an old yellow frame building then occupied 
toy Matt Whitesell as a grocery. I cannot 
call to mind now who occupied the premises 
frpm there to the Avenue. On the west 
corner of the avenue, was the two story 
brick residence of Samuel Rodgers, and 
adjoining was the store of Rodgers and 
Martin. In the rear of the store, and front- 
ing on the Avenue, was an old red frame 
building occupied by Rock & Rutter as a 
tailor shop, Mr. Rutter is still living and 
occupies the same house on Scioto street 
that he did when we first came to Circle- 
8 



ville. Next was the store room of Renick 
& Hurst, it fronted on the circle, and in 
squaring that quarter of the town it was 
turned around to front on West Main 
street, and is the same building now oc- 
cupied by Joseph Richardson. On the cor- 
ner was the store room of Joseph Johnson, 
a one story frame, which was also turned 
around on Main street. I have now com- 
pleted the Circle, and the only brick build- 
ings on the north side of Main street was 
the grocery of Harvey and Samuel Littler, 
now occupied by Snyder. The building 
now occupied by the Union-Herald office, 
was a store kept by Z. R. Martin and 
Henry Sunderman. The next was a build- 
ing occupied as the bank of Circleville, 
Hoel Lawrence, President, and Mr. Gillette 
Cashier, and I am glad to know that Mrs. 
Gillette is still living, and remarkably ac- 
tive for one of her age. Adjoining the 
bank on the east, was the harness and 
sadler shop of John A. Wolf ley; the next 
was a two story ibrick building occupied 
by Geo. E. Wolfley as a dwelling now 
turned into a hotel, and on the canal was 
the large brick ware-house belonging to 
Rogers & Martin. The block which is 
Benford's hardware store, was built in 
the summer of 1838, arid when finished 



Rogers & Martin and Renick & Hurst 
moved from the circle into it, the former 
parties occupying the corner room,, and 
the other the room east; I do not now re- 
member who occupied the east room. 

The old circular embankment was per- 
fect then except where the streets crossed 
it, which were cut down. The old square 
fortification was nearly whole, and a part 
of it was used . annually by the Militia as 
muster grounds. South of that, and what 
was familiarly known as "Darlin's" lake 
were corn fields farmed by John O'Day, 
who lived in a log cabin, somewhere near 
the residence of Mrs. William McCrum. I 
recollect going to his house once to buy 
some corn, and he gave me three half 
(bushels of ears for a bushel. I thought he 
was cheating himself, but I found out 
different afterwards. 

There was not a turnpike in the county, 
the Maysville and Zanesville, was not built 
for three years after; there was no bridge 
across the Scioto then, although there had 
previously been a floating bridge, all the 
crossing was done in a ferry boat just 
above the aqueduct kept by a old man by 
the name of Richardson. The piers of the 
old bridge that was burnetii a few years 

10 



ago were laid the summer before we came 
and the wood work the same fall and 
winter. The contractor was a Mr. Day. 
I believe he was from New York and re- 
port said he lost money on the contract, 
but I am certain there never was a better 
bridge erected in the State, and if it had 
not burned it would have lasted for fifty 
years longer. At that tiate there was not 
a railroad in Ohio, all the produce was 
shipped by canal, and all the goods were 
brought here by the canal or by wagon. 
All the traveling was done by stage. It 
took two days and night to go from Co- 
lumbus to Cleveland, and then often the 
passengers had to get out and pry the 
stage out of the mud. After the National 
road was built, our merchants went East 
by that route, goods were generally sent 
by rail to Cumberland, and from thence to 
Wheeling by wagon; if there was plenty 
of water in the Ohio river, they were put 
on a steamboat to Portsmouth and from 
thence to Circleville by canal. If the Ohio 
river was low they usually wheeled them 
clear through. I recollect one spring D. 
Peirce, the veteran merchant had his 
goods wagoned from Cumberland, one 
wagon carried ninety-six hundred pounds. 
It was a large Conestoga wagon, four inch 

11 



tire, six horses, bells on each horse, driven 
by a single line, and the driver rode the 
off horse, and when the wagon was backed 
up to the pavement in front of his store, 
the team reached across the street. The 
merchants carried everything, hardware, 
glassware, queensware, earthenware, boots 
and shoes, hats and caps, groceries and 
liquors. It was a very common thing but 
it was thought no disgrace then to get 
drunk, everybody drank, and if you went 
to a farmer's house, the first thing he 
would do, would be to hand out the bottle, 
and if you did not take some he would con- 
sider it an insult. Whisky was cheap. I 
have sold many a barrel, when they were 
building the Washington turnpike, of Dick 
Ward's fine corn juice for five dollars, and 
used to retail M. and A. M. Ashbrook's 
best rectified fine whisky and not doctored 
for twenty cents per gallon. Money was 
very scarce and not much in circulation, 
and what was in circulation was paper 
money. There were plenty of banks 
throughout the state which issued their 
paper freely, and their standing was not 
the best. Most all the business was done 
by trading. If any body wanted to go to 
house-keeping, the merchant would give 
them orders to the furniture store, to the 
12 



stove and tin shop, or if he wanted a 
saddle or a set of harness, the merchant 
would send a clerk or an order and get 
them and the manufactors would pay his 
employees by giving them orders on the 
store. Every thing in the produce line, 
or every thing that the farmer manufac- 
tured was very low, and as he could not 
sell it for cash he had to trade it out. I 
have bought wheat when I was with Dod- 
dridge & Co. at forty and fifty cents per 
bushel, corn at twelve and a half cents, 
oats ten cents. Good fat hogs would only 
bring two and a half cents per pound 
dressed, and one season Messrs. Gregg and 
Wolfley packed pork at that price, shipped 
it to New York via New Orleans, and lost 
money on it. Could buy good beef at three 
cents per pound, chickens seventy-five 
cents per dozen, turkies from twenty-five 
to thirty cents each, butter in the summer 
six and a quarter cents, eggs two to three 
cents a dozen, and I have seen barrels 
carted away and dumped in the bottoms, 
could not sell them and they spoiled on 
their hands. I remember Doddridge and 
Co. shipping thirty barrels of dried apples 
to Cleveland, which they only paid thirty- 
seven cents per bushel for and when they 
got return of sales they did not realize 
13 



first cost. Common homemade blue jeans 
brought fifty cents per yard in trade, lin- 
sey twenty-five cents, plaid flannels fifty 
cents, homemade linen thirty to forty 
cents. Wages were exceedingly low; good 
mechanics got from one dollar to a dollar 
and a quarter per day, and common labor- 
ers from fifty to sixty-five cents, while 
farm hands were working for eight to 
twelve dollars per month arid board, and 
they did not stop at ten hours for a days 
work either, nor did they go to town every 
Saturday afternoon, as most of them do 
now. The farmer boys all wore homespun, 
staid at home, and worked for the best 
interest of his employees, but what a 
change has taken place in the last half 
century. Now, he must wear the best of 
store clothes, have a horse and often a 
buggy, and come to town every Saturday 
afternoon; in fact I have known young 
America plowing in twelve dollar (doeskin 
pants and ten dollar boots. 

There was not a (bookstore in town. I 
had to go to Chillicothe to get my school 
books. The first bookstore was opened by 
William McAthur, on the corner, in a one 
story frame house, now covered by the 
Odd Fellows block. The first regular hard- 
ware store was opened by Samuel Mar- 

14 



field in the room adjoining the Third Na- 
i tonal Bank. The squaring of the circle 
was commenced by Dr. E. B. Olds in 1839 
by erecting the large three story brick 
known as the Olds block; the corner room 
was completed early in the year of 1840, 
and occupied by Olds and Baker as a dry 
goods store. I do not now remember who 
did the excavations, but Dick Wilson and 
Joe Carr did the stone work, W. C. Joseph 
and Jacob Taylor did the brick work and 
Stanly Cook and Sons did the wood work. 
That fall was the great campaign when 
Harrison ran against Van Buren for pres- 
ident. Dr. Olds being a strong Democrat, 
and believing that Van Buren would be 
elected he offered to sell, and did sell, 
quite an amount of goods, at double price 
if Van Buren was elected or nothing if 
Harrison was elected. The result was that 
he supplied a good many Whigs with dry 
goods for nothing. I shall never forget 
the exciting times during that campaign. 
The political meetings were immense, with 
their long processions. Everybody seemed 
to be fully aroused and excited and to see 
the log cabins, coonskins, strings of buck- 

15 



eyes, and hard cider, was wonderful. On 
one occasion I remember of seeing a very 
large wagon made for the express purpose, 
filled with men, drawn by thirty-six yoke 
of oxen. General Harrison came here one 
evening, the people built a temporary plat- 
form around the sign post that stood in 
front of the ("Ohio House" I think it was 
called then) and he made a speech from it. 
During that season we had some of the 
most able and talented speakers in the 
state, such as Thomas Ewing Sen., the old 
salt boiler, Thomas Corwin the waggoner 
boy, Henry Stansbury and others. The 
meetings were generally held in the woods, 
which is now built up and known as Briar- 
town. The evening meetings were held in 
the old court house which was not torn 
down till the next year (1841). The south- 
east quarter of the Circle was next squared 
by Olds and Cradlebaugh, and a row of 
one story frame buildings were erected on 
Main street . Two of them are still stand- 
ing one occupied by Acker King and the 
ibarber shop next to it. On the grounds 
now occupied by the Wagner block the 
Old School Presbyterians erected a frame 
church, which was moved over to the 
north-east quarter of the Circle and now 
occupied by Ensworth & Brunner as a 

16 



hardware store. The north-east quarter 
was next squared by the same parties. 
The south-west quarter was to be squared, 
but was not for several years afterwards, 
by W. W. Beirce. In this quarter was 
"Ba c tile Avenue." It was the most popular 
Avenue in town, and* the most populous. 
A short reminiscence of one of its residents 
by "Lex" was published a few weeks ago 
in your paper, which was perfectly fa- 
miliar to me, as we lived on the Avenue, 
and scarcely a stone's throw from the 
place. The first residence on the Avenue 
was Isaac Darst, which was sold to John 
Conn and moved on Mound street opposite 
Mrs. Dr. Stribling'.s house. On the rear 
end of the same lot, was a story and a 
half frame, formerly used by Darst as a 
warehouse, afterwards converted into a 
dwelling, and my recollection is that Dr. 
Terry and wife were the first to occupy it. 
Afterward S. D. Turney lived in it. In 
squaring that quarter it was moved to 
Franklin street, an*d now owned by the 
Londsberry heirs. Directly opposite was 
the residence of Dick Jenkins, who died 
there and whose widow married George 
Dalton, and who a short time afterward- 
moved to southern California near Los 
Angeles. When I came to California near- 
17 






ly three years ago. I went out to see the 
old gentleman, and found him hale and 
hearty, and very spry for one over eighty 
years of age. His wife hafl died the year 
before. Mr. Isaac Myers (who is a brother 
to Mrs. Dalton) and his wife both formerly 
lived in Circleville, are keeping house for 
him. He seemed quite pleased to see me, 
and inquired- very particularly about his 
old acquaintances in Circleville. He has 
about fifty acres in orange trees, and is 
quite wealthy. Next to that was a one 
story frame. I do not recollect who lived 
m it when we came here, but it was where 
Doctor Griswold and wife went to house 
keeping after they moved to Circleville. 
On the other side of the Avenue was a 
one story frame used by George Gephart 
as a tailor shop, until Mr. Diffentierler 
built his store on West Main, when he 
moved into the second story of that. After 
the General moved, the room was occupied 
toy James Civils and John Butler, as a 
paint shop. Mrs. Butler is still living at 
Circleville. On the same lot farther west 
was the two story residence of George 
Gephart. now owned and occupied by Mrs 
Alice D. Hawkes. General Gephart raised 
a large family, and moved west many years 
ago, and lived to be quite old, and has only 

18 



been dead a few years. Next to this on the 
west was the one story brick cottage of 
Dr. Gibson, the residence of the belles of 
Bastile Avenue mentioned by your cor- 
respondent "Lex," who is mistaken, when 
he said the Doctor left two children. He 
left three, Hannah, Susan and George. 
Hannah married a Mr. Stiner. Susan mar- 
ried Peter Bonn, George died quite young, 
wa<3 about eleven or twelve years old 
from white swelling of the knee. 

Opposite ten. Gephart's lived Colonel 
Henry Sage in a two story frame. He also 
had a large family. My impression is 
that the children are all dead except the 
youngest boy Harleigh. who is living at 
Dayton. The youngest daughter married 
a Mr. Cherry who died. She afterwards 
married a Doctor Sharp, who became no- 
torious for his fighting proclivities during 
the late war, but always backed down 
whenever anybody wanted to fight him. 
They moved from Circleville and I don't 
know whether she is living or not. Next 
was the residence of Dr. Wm. N. Luckey 
and wife, a more generous, clever whole- 
souled couple never lived in Circleville. 
Aunt Lucky was the personification of 
generousity and goodness, as every one 
that lived by her could testify. They never 
19 



had any children. One peculiarity the 
Dr. had, you could never get him to go on 
the ice, no difference how thick it was, 
he said it had no joist underneath. 

The next building was the Lutheran 
church, which stood back a little of the 
present church. The pastor was Joseph A. 
Roof. Although he left Circleville quite a 
number .of years ago, I believe he is still 
living. There never was a preacher in 
Circleville that was more highly esteemedi 
by everybody than he. He was very gen- 
erous to the poor, although his salary was 
small. He did a great deal of good, during 
the cholera season of 1850. He was on the 
board of health. He was one of the most 
active men on the board; he was taking 
care of the sick, helping bury the dead, and 
urging the living to prepare for death. He 
was one of the most useful ministers Cir- 
cleville ever had. Opposite the church was 
a one story frame, occupied by Abram, 
Emanuel, John and David Gephart, four 
brothers, as a carpenter shop. Emanuel is 
the only one of them now living in Circle- 
ville, and I think the others are dead, can- 
not say positively. The next residence was 
that of George W. Downs, a man univers- 
ally known throughout the county. He had 

20 



some very peculiar traits, was rather rough 
in his language, but had a heart in him as 
big as an ox, a more liberal and generous 
man coul'd not be found anywhere; the 
latch string always hung outside, and he 
never turned any away if they needed help. 
I speak from personal knowledge, for we 
lived beside him for several years. He was 
a hatter by trade and had a shop on the 
public grounds in the rear of the market 
house, his hats were very heavy and dur- 
able, and have heartf of them lasting as 
long as seven years. On the other side of 
the Avenue next to the church was Jacob* 
F. Mader's grocery and bakery. The house 
was built on the side of the Mount Gilboa 
the basement being used as a bakery, while 
the upper rooms were used as a grocery 
and dwelling. He moved to Chillicothe and 
lived there quite a number of years, but 
moved back to Circleville. where he is now 
living, a very hale, hearty old man. The 
next house was owned an<d built by Henry 
Sunderman, into which we moved when we 
came to Circleville; it was a one and a half 
story frame, and in squaring that quarter, 
it was moved around to front on Mound 
street, and is still standing. There were 
no other houses for several years. At that 
time Mount Gilboa was almost complete. 
21 



A road had- been cut through it, the old 
Episcopal church was built on the mound 
on the south side of the roa^ on the same 
grounds of the present church building, but 
at a greater elevation; the floor of the old 
building would be as high as the roof of 
the present one. The north part of the 
mound was a great place for bonfires and 
holding rejoicings success of elections etc. 
I recollect on one occasion the Demo- 
crats had achieved a victory and they were 
having a big demonstration on the mound. 
They were all pretty full, and felt happy, 
when one Wm. Strevay got too near the 
edge of the bank and fell off, down to the 
road. They thought he was killed, when 
old Anthony Bowsher hollowed out "cover 
him up, cover him up so these d — d Whigs 
won't find him." It happened that the man 
was not hurt at all. There was no foundry 
then, all the plows and castings sold here 
were brought from Columbus. In the year 
1838 my father entered into partnership 
with Isaac Darst and they put up a foun- 
dry on the land [belonging to Mr. Darst 
nearly on the site where the Gas works 
stands. It was literally a one horse con- 
cern, for the power was produced by a 
large bay horse walking on a large hori- 
zontal wheel. It was quite a novety to all 

22 



the young- folks and a large number of 
the older people, who used to come down 
there by the score every time they took a 
cast. It was sold after the death of Mr. 
Darst to Judge Beirce, who had it removed 
to the old Cradlebaugh tavern stand where, 
it has remained ever since, and is now 
known as the "Scioto Machine works." 
There was another foundry started by a 
Mr. Jones on the south side of the canal 
near the aqueduct, but it soon fizzled out. 
There were three furniture shops, John 
Hedges, Solomon Hedges and Michael Pon- 
tious, two chair shops, Mathias Myers and 
Emmet & McLain, the last named did all 
their turning by dog power, two large and 
heavy dogs travelling in a large wheel 
about thirty feet in diameter. There was 
also a wood turning shop owned by Jona- 
than Moore, on the race from the mill near 
the aqueduct. There were two carding 
machines, one over the turn ng shop just 
mentioned and one just above Groce's 
slaughter house, run by Jacob Deffen- 
baugh, who also had a , c aw mill in connec- 
tion with it, was turned by water from 
Hargus creek. There was also a saw mill 
on the same creek near where Pickaway 
street crosses the creek, and another on 
the basin close by the old Doddridge mill. 

23 



The canal did a large business, as it was 
the only way to get rid of the surplus corn, 
wheat, flour, pork and lard. During the 
dry summer and fall of 1841 all the coun- 
try mills were stopped on account of the 
creek drying up, and the farmers from 
Clinton, Fayette, Madison and part of 
Highland counties used to come here to 
get their wheat ground, and have known 
them to wait three days for their grist, 
and have seen as many as fifty wagons 
camped out near the mill at one time. 
There were three tannerys, James Bell's 
near the Academy, Robert Hayes on the 
street between George Gearhart and Daniel 
Demuth, and Andrew Cradlebaugh's on 
the lot owned by the Scioto Machine works. 
There were three cooper shops, James 
Sapp and George Burgett's on Water alley, 
and a very large one on mill race, run ex- 
clusively on flour barrels for the mill, car- 
ried on by William and John Maiden. 
There was only one flouring mill, owned toy 
J. D. Doddridge and turned out one hun- 
dred barrels every twenty-four hours, and 
which is still standing. 

Now after saying so much about the 
town let me say a word of the inhabitants 
at that time. There is barely a dozen per- 
sons who were men grown that are living 

24 



there now. All I can call to mind are 
Samuel A. Moore, Jerome Wolf ley. George 
Gearhart, Jacob Rutter, Michael Pontious, 
George Pontious, Acker King, Benjamin 
Myers, Bentley Groce, Emanuel Gephart, 
Jacob F. Mader and Joseph Richardson. 
There are a few others that are living but 
have moved away, J. G. Doddridge, Hugh 
Bell, Daniel Pontious, Harvey Johns and 
Joseph A. Roof. There may be others but 
I cannot call them to mirid. 

There is not a single man in business 
now, that was doing business when we 
came to Circleville. D. Pierce, the oldest 
in business, came the next year after, as 
did Samuel Ruggles. 

In the summer of 1840 I attended a select 
school (there was no free school then) in 
the Academy, and out of a school of forty 
boys there are but four of them still living, 
George Doane, of Omaha; W. K. Rodgers, 
of Columbus; William McCrea, of Illinois, 
and the writer, and the time will not be 
long when we too will be numbered with 
many that have gone on before. 

There is a great deal more I could say 
about Circleville. but as I have already 
spun my letter out to such a great length 
I will stop, an*d perhaps at some future 
time I may say something more. Read my 

25 



communication of "Lex" published in your 
paper, the letter of Jas. Haswell, of Ken- 
tucky, a Circleville boy, and later still the 
letter of J. D. Doddridge, who formerly 
lived in Circleville, incited within me a de- 
sire to write what I remembered about 
Circleville fifty years ago. These things 
will not be new to many of the old inhab- 
itants, but may be interesting to the young 
generation that are growing up. 
Yours Respectfully, 

W. H. Yerington. 



26 



VOL. I— NO. 17. 

Circleville Daily Press, Oct. 16, 1885. 

SIXTY YEARS AGO 



Reminiscences Of The Circleville 
Boys At That Time 

Appearance Of The City And Surroundings 



Sixty years ago the east corporation 
line was the alley between the dwellings 
of Mack Parrett and Henry Pfennig, then 
called a lane. 

Then the quarter-mile race-track was 
from this line east through the farm of 
Samuel Watt, the farm house being the 
house in which George H. Fickhardt now 
lives, and the termination of the quarter 
mile track was opposite the McCrea prop- 
erty. At the termination of every race 
the regular fist fights took place, as 
then about every other man wanted to 
be counted a bully. There were at that 
time regular training days for the militia 
which comprised all men between the ages 
of 18 and 45. The training day for com- 

27 



panies was the first Friday in September 
of each year, and the general musters were 
on the Monday following, when all the 
companies of the county came to town to 
muster, the arms 'being generally corn- 
stalks. It was a great time for us boys, 
as there were plenty of fist fights, keeping 
the boys running from one side of the circle 
to the other to witness the fights. 

In those days every family raised their 
own hogs for their meat, the hogs being 
slaughtered in their own yards, in winter, 
neighbors helping neighbors. The hogs 
were cut and sausages made in the eve- 
ning, and generally all cleaned up in one 
day. Numbers of families also kept a 
flock of sheep running at large over the 
then open country. The sheep were shear- 
ed in the spring the wool washed, picked 
and carded by hand, and spun on the big 
spinning wheel, and woven into cloth on 
hand looms for winter clothing for both 
men and women. Wool picking was Gone 
by inviting the women to spend the eve- 
ning, which took the place of the party of 
to-day. Refreshments or a regular supper 
of flannel cakes, stewed chicken, store cof- 
fee, store tea, warm ginger cakes, &c, 
were served. No angel food or pound cakes 
were to be found in those times. Flax was 
28 



also raised toy numbers of citizens of the 
town, who had their flax pullings. When 
ripe the flax was hauled in, and when the 
husks were sufficiently rotted, broken on 
a regular flax brake. It was then hackled 
on long iron prongs set in a piece of wood, 
put up in bunches an<d spun on the small 
wheel and afterwards woven into cloth for 
summer wear for men and women. 

There were at that time two spinning 
wheels in the town, one owned by Isaac 
Warren, and the other by Mathias Myers, 
grandfather of Allen O. Myers, the states- 
man. 

For hats for men and boys we depended 
on the hat manufactories of the town. We 
had fur hats for the men and wool for the 
boys. The measure of the head was taken 
and we waited for the hat to be made. For 
shoes (no boots in those times), the leather 
owned by the head of the family was taken 
to the shoe shop, where each member of 
the family, boys and girls alike, went to 
have their feet measured to have shoes 
made for the winter. No shoes were worn 
in summer by boys particularly; usually 
only the girls had shoes in summer. 

Clothing, such as it was, was also made 
at home. There were no clothing stores, 
no hat stores, no shoe stores, no stores to 
29 



sell groceries exclusively, no queensware 
stores, no furniture stores, no stores for 
hardware exclusively. The so-called stores 
then kept groceries, queensware, and a 
general assortment of goods with usually 
a bottle of whi c key on the counter for such 
customers that wished to help themselves. 

There was more manufacturing in Cir- 
cleville then than now. Shoes, hats, cloth- 
ing and furniture were all manufactured 
here, and we had a nail factory here then. 

Wagons were sent to Zanesville for loads 
of salt to be distributed through town and 
country. All dry goods and articles brought 
from the east were hauled over the moun- 
tains in large wagons drawn by six large 
horses, which were generally provided with 
bells. There were no railroads anywhere 
in this country at that iday. No cooking 
stoves in those days. In their place were 
the large fire places in the kitchen with 
cranes for pots, and the tin reflector to 
set before the fire to bake bread. Wood 
only was used for heating purposes and 
cooking, the fire being covered at night to 
be rekindled in the morning, and if the 
fire went out some one was sent to the 
neighbors for a coal. Failing in this, the 
steel and flint to strike a fire were resort- 
ed to. We had no matches in those days. 
30 



The culinary "department of a household 
was not then as now. No fruit was put up 
in cans in their season, but fruits of all 
kinds were dried and preserved. Tomatoes 
were not known as an article of food, but 
were known as Jerusalem apples and were 
set on mantle-pieces as ornaments only. 

The schools of those times would not at 
all compare with those of the present day. 
For school books we had Webster's spell- 
ing- book, Murray's grammar, Smiley & 
Pike's arithmetic, Olney's geography, and 
the Bible and New Eestament were used 
as readers. For books to read at home by 
the firesMe in winter we had Scottish 
Chiefs, Thaddeus of Warsaw, Children of 
the Abbey, Alonzo and Molise. Charlotte 
Temple, Robinson Crusoe, Lives of Wash- 
ington and Marion, &c. We had no news- 
papers, except the one printed in Circle- 
ville, a small weekly sheet by the name of 
the Olive Branch, the grandfather of the 
Union-Herald and Daily Pre. c s. 

We had no gas or coal oil for lights in 
those days, but instead we used the candle 
flips, which each family made for itself, 
just as they made their own soap for wash- 
ing. Laborers received fifty cents per day 
in those times, and worked from sunrise 

31 



to sund'own; no talk about eight hours for 
a day's work. By the month they got 
seven or eight dollars per month and board. 
Female help was then seventy-five cents 
per week. 

As store coffee was then high, and but 
little money was to be had, rye coffee was 
used through the week, and store coffee 
Sunday morning. 

The boys' then ha"d no glass or stone 
marbles to play with, but instead we would 
go to the brick yard, make mud marbles, 
and have them burned like bricks. 

For currency there were six and a fourth 
cent pieces, called fips, twelve and a half 
cent pieces, called nine pence, and quarter, 
half, and whole dollars. We had no five 
or ten cent pieces. Money of all kinds was 
so scarce that a half 'dollar looked to al- 
most any one as large as a cart-wheel. In 
those days a large part of the mechanics 
of the town would go to the country in 
harvest time to help the farmers reap 
their wheat, as nothing but sickles were 
used for cutting. We had no wheat cradles 
and no reapers and binders in those days. 
Fifty cents per day was paid for a day's 
work, for a full hand, twenty-five for a 
half hand. The writer then made a half 
han'd, coming home from a full week's 
32 



work Saturday evening with six bright 
quarter dollars jingling in his pocket. 

We had no buggies or carriages, no 
livery stables. We all went horse back 
or in common road; wagons. On Christmas 
our stocking was hung up with the prongs 
of a fork and filled with gingerbread, mint 
candy and nuts. An occasional concert 
was given with such songs as Pretty Polly 
Hopkins, How do You do. My Long-tailed 
Blue, Jim Crow, Coal Black Rose. Barbara 
Allen, etc. Men worth from five to ten 
thousand dollars were considered very 
wealthy, and a family with an income of 
two to three hundred dollars per year 
well to do. 

There were no high-priced undertakers 
in those days. Coffins for an adult person 
cost from five to eight dollars. There were 
no hearses. The coffin was carried on a 
bier borne by the pall-bearers to the village 
grave yard. There were no envelopes for 
letters. The paper was folded and sealed 
with wax. We had no steel or gold pens. 
We used the goose quill for pens. We had 
no blotting paper, but black sand for blot- 
ting. 

We had what we then regarded as com- 
fortable houses, but not elegant or costly 

33 



ones. Plumbing wjls an unknown art. We 
had no water or gas-pipes in our walls, no 
water closets in our houses, no fixed bath- 
tubs, and no door-bells. 

Boys were modest, girls virtuous, and 
old age respected in those days. Finally 
things in general were not then as now. 



34 



From Daily Evening Herald, April 14, 1885, 

Oldest Woman Living! 



Once A Resident Of Circleville 



The Lafayette, Ind., correspondent of the 
Cincinnati Enquirer says that there arriv- 
ed in that city on Wednesday evening, Mrs. 
Mary Beneman, from Ames, Iowa; Mrs. 
Beneman is 112 years old, she having been 
born at Lewiston, Delaware, March 14, 
1773. 

The aged lady is the guest of relatives 
in Lafayette. The correspondent says; 
"Mrs. Beneman's maiden name was Mary 
Perry, as is gleaned from her relatives. 
She is a daughter of Captain Christopher 
R. Perry of Revolutionary fame, and sister 
of Commodore Oliver Perry, one of our 
noted naval commanders. Another brother 
was Matthew Colbreth Perry, who framed 
the treaty with Japan. 

35 



"On arrival at womanhood Miss Perry 
married Wm. Colter. In 1806, with their 
two sons, they started for Ciroleville, Ohio. 
Their journey was long and tedious, but 
they arrived there and began farming. 
Four sons were born to them. Three still 
living — Peter Colter, wh» resides at Rens- 
selaer, this State, aged eighty-one years, 
and Charles and James Colter, living at 
Booneville, Mo. Taken altogether, it is 
said she now has 120 children, grandchil- 
dren, great-grandchildren and great-great- 
grandchildren living. At Circleville Mr. 
Colter died, and Mrs. C. afterward became 
Mrs. John Beneman. He lived tout a short 
time. 

"Of Circleville, and their trip to Ohio, 
the old lady says they started with a 
horse and- wagon, but the horse died about 
sixty miles from Circleville. They put the 
two children in a wheelbarrow and wheeled 
them to Circleville. At that time there 
was but one house there and that was a 
log cabin. The Indians did not trouble 
them there, but the wolves and wildcats 
were very numerous, and they had to night- 
ly encircle their house with fire. 

"Asked if she had ever seen General 
Washington, she answered: 'Oh, yes; I 
have seen him, and remember him very 

36 



well. He was tall and fine looking, and 
was a great friend of my father. He has 
been where we lived, and everybody turned 
out to see and shake hands with him. 

"Brother Oliver, she said, was a sailor, 
and he had been to sea a good many times. 
Once they were from home when his ship 
came in and he had only time to write his 
name in chalk on the door of the house. 
She never saw him again. Soon after his 
ship was wrecked, and the family heard he 
was drowned. It was after she went to 
Ohio that she heard that Oliver was saved 
and was a great officer." 

Of the aged lady's appearance the cor- 
respondent says; "Her form much ibent 
with age. was clad in black and wrapped in 
a heavy shawl, her head partly hidden in 
a snowy cap of the old style of architec- 
ture. The face, elongated by age, is tra- 
versed by countless wrinkles and of a 
sallow yellow hue. Her mouth is sunken, 
and her lips tightly drawn and puckered. 
Her brows are heavily overhanging, and 
from beneath them gleam eyes that are 
still sharp and bright. The face remains 
an expression of shrewdness, and there are 
yet evidences of a powerful mind. A few 
locks of hair as thick, white and soft as 



37 



wool, were visible beneath the cap, and 
Mrs. B. sai<J that about two decades ago 
a new growth of hair came out, and so 
vigorously did it grow that repeated cut- 
tings were necessary. 



NOTE — Mrs. Beneman is reputed to 
have lived to the age of one hundred and 
fifteen years. 



38 



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