Tag Archives: ohio history

Recalling the Great Snow of ’94

It’s hard to believe that events I remember from my childhood are already reaching the “20 years ago” mark, but it’s true. And one of the biggest large-scale  (and by that, I mean, not specific to myself or my family) memories I have from childhood is what I’ve always thought of as “the Great Snow of ’94.”

That was 20 years ago this weekend. I’ve always remembered that it was the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day holiday weekend. I was 11 years old and in the fifth grade. We all knew when we left school on Friday that we were in for a holiday (MLK Monday is a holiday most places), but little did we know that a blizzard was about to turn our 3-day weekend into a 2-week vacation!

Great Snow of '94 #5

That’s me sitting on a swing in our back yard during the Great Snow of ’94. As an archivist, I cringe at the thought/speech bubble sticker, but I also know that somewhere at my parents’ house, the negative for this picture is safe (and unmarred) in a cabinet, waiting for me to scan it someday.

Great Snow of '94 #1

A portion of our back yard (that’s a trampoline, the net of which was at least 2 feet off the ground), during the Great Snow of ’94.

As I did not remember to research this at the local library when I was home for Christmas (which is really too bad, since I was there over a week and had plenty of time to do so!)   And I really wanted to include some true historical details about the storm, rather than just my own recollections.

I have had little luck finding information about this snowstorm on the Internet, at least not specifically pertaining to my hometown of Portsmouth, Ohio (on the Ohio River). I have found several links to information about northern Ohio and Louisville, KY (to which I will link at the end). I was just about to give up, when I finally came across Thunder in the Heartland on Google Books. (I knew of this book, and I even own a copy, but unfortunately it’s packed away somewhere.) Thomas Schmidlin’s Thunder in the Heartland: A Chronicle of Outstanding Weather Events in Ohio (Kent State University Press, 1996) is a fantastic source if you want a short overview of any remotely notable weather event from Ohio’s history. And that’s just what I needed!  (I was beginning to fear that my memory of “about 2 feet of snow” was a figment of my imagination until I found Schmidlin’s description.)

Here’s an excerpt of what Schmidlin had to say about (what I call) the Great Snow of ’94 (from pages 76-77):

January 1994 was an “old-fashioned” winter month in the upper Ohio Valley, with two exceptionally deep snowfalls followed by record cold on 19 January. Snowfall on Tuesday, 4 January totaled twelve to twenty inches from Marietta to Steubenville…

A greater snowfall arrived on Monday 17 January. This storm left six to ten inches across nearly all of Ohio but, again, the deepest snow was along the Ohio River. Portsmouth received twenty inches of snow, and thirty inches was reported at Lucasville. Twenty-two to twenty-four inches fell in Adams County, with fifteen inches reported in Piketon and Jackson. Snowfall intensities of five inches an hour were measured at Chillicothe.

Highways were closed Monday by deep drifts and abandoned cars in extreme southern Ohio. Nine south-central counties declared snow emergencies Monday morning, banning all but emergency travel and essentially shutting down the region. Temperatuers were cold, so the snow did [p. 77] not stick to trees and there was no widespread disruption of phone and electric service. Businesses assisted residents who could not get out in the deep snow. The pharmacy at Kroger’s in Portsmouth delivered medicine to customers who were unable to travel, according to the Portsmouth Daily Times. Southern Ohio Medical Center [the hospital in Portsmouth] employees were picked up and delivered to the hospital in four-wheel-drive trucks and rescue squads.

Major roads were reopened Tuesday, but rural highways of southern Ohio were blocked and families remained snowbound. The effort to clear side roads continued into Wednesday. Schools were scheduled to be closed Monday for Martin Luther King Day and remained shut all week in southeastern counties by the deep snow and temperatures below -25 degrees…

Snowfall during January totaled 45.5 inches at Newport and 33.3 inches at Marietta. These were among the heaviest snowfalls ever recorded in Ohio outside the Lake Erie snowbelt. At the Parkersburg Airport, five miles south of Marietta, snowfall totaled 40 inches during January 1994. This was a record for any month, exceeding the old record of 35 inches in November 1950. The January snowfall was more than had fallen in the entire past two winters combined in southeastern Ohio.

Wow, after all that detail, the comparatively small amount that my 11-year-old brain saw fit to commit to permanence seems pretty weak. Nevertheless, here are my recollections (and some photos, throughout this entry, which I was thrilled to realize I had on hand at my house, rather than being inaccessible—and possibly difficult to locate—at my parents’ house):

We actually lived in Minford, Ohio, a smaller rural town outside of Portsmouth; it was closer to Lucasville (7 miles away, mentioned in the excerpt as having 30 inches of snow!) than Portsmouth (14 miles away).

I remember that there seemed to be about 2 feet of snow (which is substantiated by the above excerpt); it was over my knees (as illustrated in the included photos!). I remember that simply walking through the snow (which was no easy feat) left these trailing paths like you were in some sort of a maze, because the snow was so high it almost felt like maze walls (maybe I made this association because I always loved doing mazes in those activity books when I was a kid).

Great Snow of '94 #7

As you can see, the snow was over my knees. I was 11. We had about 2 feet of snow in Minford, Ohio.

Great Snow of '94 #6

My younger sister, then 9 years old, wading through the snow.

When I asked Mom what she remembered about the snowstorms, those paths were the thing that stuck out in her mind, because my youngest sister was only 4 at the time, and following us in the paths we made was the only way she could get through the snow at all!

Great Snow of '94 #4

My youngest sister, age 4, diving into a snow drift.

Another snippet that Mom remembered was how concerned we were about our pet rabbit, a Californian bunny named Pretty (seriously) who lived in a pen (which I think had a wooden house part also) in the backyard. Dad was worried, so he went (er, waded) out to the rabbit house, expecting to find a dead rabbit, but when he finally unburied enough of the thing to see inside, she was just fine in there; the deep snow had created a sort of igloo!

When I read in that excerpt (above) that there were NOT widespread power outages from heavy snow and ice causing downed trees to break the lines, I realized that this was not something I had ever thought about before with relation to that particular snowstorm. I suppose if we HAD experienced a power outage, I would have remembered, as school was out for….two weeks, I think…and that would have been a long damn time to be without electricity when the temperatures were so cold. We had a gas furnace, but if the electric blower isn’t working, it’s still not much use; my parents do have 1 fireplace in the part of the house that we were living in at the time—it was still a work in progress—but I don’t recall if the fireplace itself was installed and working yet! A power outage certainly would have been a disaster in that storm!

Great Snow of '94 #3

Well it looks like there was plenty of snow on the trees in this picture of our back field, and yes, I’m fairly certain it was from the same storm. But yay for no downed power lines!

We did eventually want to go to the grocery store—and this is the only other particularly vivid memory I have from that storm—but the driveway, like everything else, was covered in 2 feet of snow. I remember my father plowing the driveway with the front-loader on his tractor. (I am thrilled to have a photo of this, which appears to have been taken by my aunt, who lived next-door, as I can see the metal porch supports from their house in the shot.)

Great Snow of '94 #8

Dad plowing the driveway with his tractor—my favorite photo of this event!

Great Snow of '94 #2

Believe it or not, there is a Dodge Caravan (left) and a Toyota Corolla (right) under all that snow.

Eventually, once the driveway—and the car—was cleared off, I remember getting into my Dad’s old Toyota Corolla and puttering down the highway to the local grocery store (about 1 mile away), only to (if I recall correctly) find that it was still closed due to the snow—I guess the employees couldn’t get there. So much for bread and milk!

I asked my husband what he remembered about the snowstorm, as he was also an 11-year-old in southern Ohio at the time—he actually lived in Lucasville. He seems to recall that he was at the local Boy Scout camp, Camp Oyo, that weekend for a winter camp-out (now known as Okpik, though he says they weren’t calling them that at the time). They were scheduled to go home on Sunday, and they actually did so, although they briefly considered staying another day…which would have had them stranded, as the majority of the snow fell on Monday. Thank goodness they went home when they did!   He said he remembers sticking a yard stick into the snow at their house in Lucasville and measuring almost 3 feet of snow (which again meshes with what the book said).

Pitiful selection of relevant items I found online:

What are your memories of the Great Snow of ’94?  I’d love to hear them! (Please include at least an approximation of where you lived at the time, since geography is important here.)

1913 Flood Centennial

What kind of Miami Valley archivist would I be if I didn’t acknowledge the centennial of the 1913 flood on my history/archives blog?

This week marks 100 years since flood waters ravaged the Miami Valley, bringing widespread devastation to cities like Dayton, Piqua, Troy, and Hamilton, as well as many other parts of Ohio (including my hometown of Portsmouth). This particular flood was so severe in the Dayton area (which was rather used to floods) that area residents finally said, “We’re not going to just sit back and take this from anymore, Great Miami River!” Within months, a fundraising campaign generated over $2 million towards the creation what is now the Miami Conservancy District, a system of dams and other mechanisms that control the rivers and have successfully prevented flooding since its completion. (Hooray!)

I’ve worked in Dayton-area archives long enough to know that the 1913 flood has been remembered on many days and in many ways ever since, as an important event in our area’s history. But we do love anniversaries—and the 100th is a very special one, after all, since it’s such a nice, round number!

There’s been a lot going on to commemorate the 1913 flood this year. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve already been involved in so much of it that I damn-near forgot to even mention it here, because I feel like my “1913 flood commemorating” mojo is virtually exhausted by now! But like I said, what kind of Miami Valley archivist would I be if I didn’t say something on my own blog as well?

So…well…to avoid re-inventing the wheel here, I think I’ll just point you to some of the things that I and others have been working on…

Most of the 1913 flood commemoration activities that I was personally aware of are mentioned in an article I wrote for the Spring 2013 issue of the Ohio Archivist (the newsletter of the Society of Ohio Archivists- see page 28). But I certainly want to point your attention to the official commemoration web site 1913flood.com.

We’ve done some cool things where I work at Wright State, too—so much so that we’ve even dedicated an entire section of the WSU Special Collections & Archives web page to the 1913 flood. There are a couple of exhibits listed, one of which is a web exhibit done a few years back called The Flood Menace. There is also info about the 1913 flood traveling exhibit a couple of my colleagues created–what it is, pictures, how to borrow it, etc. There’s also a lengthy Resource List detailing what research materials about the flood can be found at WSU and other area archives. (Don’t forget to check out the neat flood stuff we’ve got on our Campus Repositoryinterviews with flood survivors, for instance!) Oh, and there’s also an in-real-life flood exhibit (that I just happened to make) on the first floor of the Dunbar Library from now until about June.

I think one of my favorite projects I’ve personally done to remember the flood is the transcriptions of flood diaries and letters that will be on the WSU Special Collections & Archives blog Out of the Box this week. (I just love letters and diaries; I can get lost in them so easily.) We’ll be following flood survivors Margaret Smell, J.G.C. Schenck Sr., Edward and Nellie Neukom, and Milton Wright (yes, that Milton Wright- father of the famous Wright brothers!), through their flood experiences, reading about those experiences in their own words. Where applicable, I’ve added some small explanations, and I also hunted up some great photos from our collection to help illustrate their stories. I recommend checking out this intro to the diary/letter series, and there will be daily updates from the writers from today through early April.

As you may recall, I have written about the flood here before. I wrote a blog post about it a couple of years ago: “Remembering the 1913 Flood” (March 24, 2011). Then there are those super-cool geo-tagged maps I made using Flickr and Geo-Slideshow [May 9, 2011], for the flood photos and postcards at the Dayton Metro Library (where I used to work). And don’t forget the 1913 flood before-and-after exhibit at the Dayton Art Institute, which, although mentioned in my SOA article and on the 1913flood.com web site, bears repeating because I was privileged to see it in February, and it is super-awesome.

Obviously, there’s plenty more out there besides what I’ve mentioned here. (And let’s face it, I’m going to be a little biased towards the projects that I’ve personally worked so hard on—certainly not to undercut how hard everyone else has worked on their projects, but this is my blog, so why wouldn’t I toot my own horn a bit?) There have been tons of really great articles about the flood and the commemoration activities in the Dayton Daily News (and I’m sure many other area papers) lately.

DDN writer Meredith Moss did a great spread about the flood in last Sunday’s newspaper (over one whole page in the print edition); you can read the online version here, and you might just see a few quotes from yours truly in it. (Normally, my supervisor and head of the archives Dawne Dewey answers the press inquiries, but a combination of circumstances—one being that Dawne was out that day and another being that someone told the reporter to ask me because I’d been doing a lot of flood activities lately—led to my name being the one in the paper this time.)

Well, I think that’s about all I have to say about the flood for now. I hope anyone with an interest in this particular part of Dayton’s history takes notice of all these projects and events going on this spring, because there’s lots of great stuff to experience and absorb….and it might be another nice-round-number-of-years (25? 50? 100?) before there’s so much terrific culture being dedicated to the 1913 flood once again.

Bio Sketch: Horton Howard (1770-1833), Quaker leader, Ohio pioneer, federal land agent, doctor, & cholera victim

Horton Howard was born January 22, 1770, in either Carteret or Craven County, North Carolina, the eldest son of Bartholomew Howard and Ruth Stanton. Horton’s namesake was his father’s step-father, Parmenas Horton.[1]

Signature of Horton Howard, 1799

Signature of Horton Howard, 1799 (Dayton Metro Library, FPW, Box 34, Folder 9)

The other children of Bartholomew and Ruth Howard were: Mary Howard (1773-?), who married Aaron Brown and lived in Logan County, Ohio; Henry Howard (1775-?); Avis Howard (1777-?); and John Howard (1779-about 1836), who married Cherry Dew and then Hannah Raley, and had several children, most of whom lived in eastern Ohio.[2]

Horton’s parents were members of the Society of Friends (also known as Quakers), but they were also slaveholders. The family owned about 26 slaves, according to the 1790 census for Craven County.[3]

Slave-holding was technically contradictory to Quaker beliefs, but freeing one’s slaves was discouraged in North Carolina, with a law actually forbidding it by 1796. As a way of getting around the problem, a Quaker could transfer ownership of his slaves to the Meeting to which he belonged, thus relieving the individual from owning slaves, and the slaves were often freed through colonization in places like Haiti or Liberia.[4]

Horton apparently used this method to free the slaves he had inherited from his father, according to his daughter Sarah:

Left by his father in possession of slaves, who might have made him wealthy, he freed them all at the age of 21… He left them in the care of the yearly meeting of Friends, who have since sent them to Hayti [sic], I have heard. He said he was much affected the morning he became of age…for he being the eldest had the first choice. After parting with his slaves Carolina was no place for him, and he determined to move to that part of the N.W. Territory now known as the State of Ohio…[5]

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 created the Northwest Territory, where slavery was prohibited. This was attractive to southern Quakers, including Horton Howard, who wished to rid themselves of any local ties to slavery. The availability of good, relatively inexpensive land was surely alluring also.[6]

In 1799, the Contentnea Quarterly Meeting of eastern North Carolina decided to send a few men to investigate the lands and resources in the Northwest Territory, for a possible settlement by members of their community.

Borden Stanton later wrote about how this decision had evolved:

…for some years Friends have had some distant view of moving out of that oppressive part of the land, but did not know where until the year 1799, when we had an acceptable visit from some traveling Friends from the western part of Pennsylvania. They thought proper to propose to Friends for consideration, whether it would not be agreeable to best wisdom for us unitedly to remove northwest of the Ohio River—to a place where there were no slaves held, being a free country. This proposal made a deep impression on our minds… there were three of them who went to view the country…[7]

Those three men were Horton Howard and his father-in-law Joseph Dew, of the Core Sound Monthly Meeting, and Horton’s brother-in-law Aaron Brown, of the Trent Monthly Meeting. The three traveled first to the Quaker communities of Redstone and Westland in southwestern Pennsylvania (near Fredericktown), using these as a jumping off point to eastern Ohio.[8]

During their journey, Horton wrote the following to his wife Mary:

…We are now at Winchester in Virginia having crossed the Blue Ridge of Mountains and are between it and the Alligany [sic] Mountain about four Hundred and fifty Miles from Home and One Hundred and thirty six from Redstone. We have been favoured [sic] to get along so far with less Difficulty and fatigue than we expected but we have travailed [sic] slow…and now we all go Comfortably on Horseback being pretty well seasoned thereto.

Father seems considerably Heartyer [sic] than when he left home but has nothing at Present to write.

It hath so fell out that after leaving Contentney [sic], we have attended Meetings as they as they [sic] came of Course at all the settlements of Friends where we have come Viz. Jack swamp 1st day, Wayn Oak 4th day and Last of the Yearly meeting, 5th day at Curls, 1st day at Ceder Creek, 4th day at south Land Mo. Meeting, 7th at Crooked Runn Mo. Meeting over the Mountain and this being 1st day at Center Meeting within a Mile of this place; some of which have been seasons of refreshment…[9]

Check out these images of the original 1799 letter (click to view full resolution):

Horton Howard to Mary (Dew) Howard, 1799, pg 1 of 2

Horton Howard to Mary (Dew) Howard, 1799, pg 1 of 2 (Dayton Metro Library, FPW, Box 34, Folder 9)

.

Horton Howard to Mary (Dew) Howard, 1799, pg. 2 of 2

Horton Howard to Mary (Dew) Howard, 1799, pg. 2 of 2

By mid-June, the three had safely crossed the mountains and reached the Westland Monthly Meeting, as evidenced by Westland’s meeting minutes for June 22, 1799:

Our esteemed friends, Joseph Dew and Horton Howard, attended this meeting and produced certificates from a Monthly Meeting at Coresound, in Carteret County, North Carolina, expressive of Friends’ unity with their viewing this part of the country and other parts adjacent, with a prospect of removing and settling within the verge of this, if way should open, and our friend, Aaron Brown, also attended…[10]

From Pennsylvania, the three men set off into Ohio to explore further:

They traveled on till they came to this part of the western country [near present-day Colerain, Belmont County, Ohio], where they were stopped in their minds, believing it was the place for Friends to settle. So they turned back and informed us of the same in a solemn meeting… This information, in the way it was delivered to us much tendered our spirits, and strengthened us in the belief that it was right. So we undertook the work…[11]

When the trio of explorers returned to North Carolina, they reported favorably on what they had seen in the new territory. Core Sound MM sent many families to the northwest, and the response from Trent MM was so overwhelming that all the families removed, with Trent MM actually ceasing to exist afterwards.[12]

Although most of these families did not begin the journey north until January 1800, Horton Howard was granted a certificate to Westland MM on September 1, 1799, and was received there on October 26, 1799.[13]

The Howards and the other Quaker families remained near Fredericktown, Pennsylvania, through several months of 1800, waiting for the opening of a new federal land office in the Northwest Territory, which would grant deeds for property in Ohio.[14]

On May 2, 1800, Congress passed the Harrison Land Act, which authorized four new federal land offices in the Northwest Territory, the first of which opened for business at Steubenville on July 2. Lands could be purchased in tracts of 320 acres each (a half section) for $2.00 per acre.[15]

Horton Howard’s family was among the first to leave Fredericktown. On September 16, 1800, he purchased a tract of land in what is now Colerain Township in Belmont County, near what would soon be known as Concord (now Colerain). By the end of the year 1800, approximately 800 Quakers had moved to Ohio.[16]

In December 1801, a new Quaker congregation—the Concord Monthly Meeting—opened in Belmont County, Ohio. This was the first Monthly Meeting of Friends in the Northwest Territory, and Horton Howard was among its charter members.[17]

Horton was appointed the first men’s clerk of the Concord Monthly Meeting in 1801. He was later the first clerk of the Short Creek Quarterly Meeting in 1807 and the first men’s Ohio Yearly Meeting from 1813-1815.[18]

Although Horton was much devoted to his work within the Society of Friends, he also needed a means of supporting his growing family. Horton became employed by the federal land office in Steubenville. He worked as a land agent, helping thousands of people locate and acquire suitable property in eastern Ohio.[19]

In April 1815, the Howard family joined the nearby Plainfield Monthly Meeting, which was also located in Belmont County.[20]

The family remained in Belmont County for another five years, until the summer of 1820, when the Horton was appointed as a land agent at one of the newly opened federal land offices further west.[21]

In April 1820, Horton wrote to his friend Thomas Rotch about his feelings in regards to his new assignment:

…it will require a great deal of dilligence [sic] and Industry to arrange my affairs and remove to Delaware on the Whetstone fork of scioto [sic] in Ohio to be ready to open the public sales of Land, as the Law contemplates as I suppose that is to be my residence for a time unless the President should think it would do to run the Risque [sic] of further displeasing the People of Indiana by giving appointment to a nonresident of the State of Indiana as he did last year in appointing General Harrison’s son to the Office of Vincennes. I believe this is all that prevents my getting the Brookville Office in that state which on account of the Great body of friends there &c. &c. I should have preferred.—But it is clearly an unequivocally settled that I get one of them and if in Ohio I get my Choice…[22]

Horton did not get the appointment in Indiana, and so he moved his family to Delaware, Ohio, as expected. In July 1820, Horton and his family were granted certificates to the Alum Creek Monthly Meeting in Delaware County, Ohio, and they were received by that congregation on August 31 of the same year. (The family would later be disowned from the Alum Creek Monthly Meeting in 1829 for joining the Hicksite faction of Quakers.)[23]

Probably in connection with his duties as a federal land agent, Horton Howard was apparently involved in surveying and mapmaking, his signature appearing on several early 19th century Ohio and Quaker maps.[24] As a matter of fact, when Horton sent his daughter Sarah to school in Cincinnati in the fall of 1825, he particularly encouraged her to learn “the art of painting or shading maps,” which surely would have been a useful skill to have in the family.[25]

The year 1828 had more changes in store for the Howard family. Horton wrote to his wife Hannah in February 1828:

…I expect to be at home in time to prepare for the new appointment as Receiver—But as there may be an order to remove the office at an earlier period, Joseph [Gest] must be prepared to be in readiness accordingly, and as soon as he shall be informed of the time fixed for the removal he should write to Neal McGaffy to make provisions for Joseph to take possession of the House I rented in Tiffin by the time the office must be there…[26]

The federal land office at Delaware did indeed remove to Tiffin in 1828, but the Howard family did not go with it. Instead, they moved slightly south to Columbus, Ohio, where Horton and his wife Hannah lived until their deaths.[27]

Although he was born in the pre-Civil War South, Horton Howard did not agree with slavery. In 1791, he freed all the slaves left to him by his father. His daughter Sarah later wrote of her father’s feelings towards his (former) slaves:

And when I tell you that his property consisted chiefly of slaves, you will agree with me that he acted from principle. He chose a life of comparative poverty, rather than live in affluence on the produce of slave labour, and yet he was not the abolitionist of our day [1851]. I have often heard him say that he could feel for the master as well as for the slave, that it is difficult to know what course to pursue… I suppose my Father would as soon have thought of selling his Children as his negroes

He told the poor blacks, if they would go with him to the new country he would do the best he could for them… He gave a small piece of land to each of the men who came with him—they had labored for him and the land was given for that—that they might provide for themselves. They were much attached to us and we to them… [One man] came every year while we lived in the eastern part of the state, and brought his family to see us, when mother dear, king good mother collected all of Father’s old clothes for him, and her own, and ours for his wife and children, and when dear father died, there was a complete suit of his old master’s clothes sent to the poor old freedman…[28]

Although Sarah wrote that her father “was not the abolitionist of our day,” records show that Horton Howard was inclined towards abolition. In 1818, he wrote a letter to his friend and fellow Quaker Thomas Rotch, asking Rotch to assist with presenting an anti-slavery statement to Congress.[29]

In addition to being a leading Quaker pioneer in Ohio, a federal land agent, and a low-key abolitionist, Horton Howard was also trained in medicine, though he did not formally practice it. In 1832, he published a two-volume set entitled An Improved System of Botanic Medicine, giving an explanation of his medical background in the Preface:

From exposure in early youth, my health became much impaired, and my constitution weakened by sickness; insomuch that from the age of thirteen to twenty-one, I was a constant prey to disease, and all its concomitant ills—its pain and anxiety—its gloomy forebodings, and the repulsive prospect of a slow decay. During this period, I not only applied for medical aid to the best physicians of my native state (North Carolina), but I devoted a portion of my time to the study of medicine, in the hope not only of finding something to mitigate my sufferings, but also of acquiring the knowledge of a useful and honorable avocation for life. Stimulated by these earnest hopes and sentiments, I prosecuted my book studies, aided by the best physicians of my acquaintance, until I had acquired a competent knowledge of the practice of medicine.—But alas! My fondest anticipations were but idle dreams: neither my books, nor my physicians, brought that relief—that grateful solace to my sick-worn frame, which I so ardently desired, and so anxiously sought from their aid!

…Moreover, I became acquainted with the appalling fact, that with all the knowledge which I, or the best medical practitioner possessed, and with the use of such remedies as were generally relied upon in the treatment of disease, it would be a matter of uncertainly whether I should cure or kill! With these sentiments indelibly impressed upon my mind, I abandoned the idea of following a practice, which could only be pursued at the hazard of destroying life… My health was finally restored by a peculiar kind of regimen [botanic medicine] which will be particularly described in my medical work.

From these considerations, and from these alone, I abandoned the idea, of following the practice of medicine as a profession; although I have practiced very considerably among my immediate neighbors, more especially in sickly seasons; but for which I have never charged, nor have I ever received, any compensation.

In the summer of 1825, the bilious fever prevailed epidemically, which swept off numbers of my acquaintances, amongst whom I lost a lovely daughter [Hannah]… Other branches of my family, as well as several of my neighbors, suffered by the same epidemic, all of whom recovered by the assistance of such medical aid as I was then capable of affording them; which indeed I had reason to believe was at least equal to any that could have been derived from any other source.

About the time of which I am now speaking, or soon after, I heard much talk of the botanic physicians, usually styled steam, or patent doctors; and as prejudice in the mind of the multitude, often goes in advance of almost every great and good work, so it was in this instance; and myself with the rest, and particularly with the medical faculty, imbibed prejudices the most hostile, and feelings the most contemptuous, towards this infant institution of rational medicine…[30]

However, in the winter after the bilious fever epidemic of 1825, Horton changed his mind about botanic medicine after observing its use in healing an extremely sick neighbor.

I had seen the effects of the new medicines in but one case; but that was one of virulent character, and it yielded to the means employed, as if they acted by a charm: I came to the conclusion that it was my duty as a man, and as a Christian, to forego all my prejudices, and avail myself of the knowledge of these botanic medicines, for the benefit of my own family.[31]

Horton then studied Dr. Samuel Thomson’s system of herbal medicine and became convinced of its effectiveness:

Sickness in my own family, as well as amongst my neighbors, and friends in distant parts of the country, soon afforded opportunities which confirmed my highest opinions of the new practice; and I commenced, with zeal and energy, proclaiming my convictions to the world. I pursued this course because I believed that mankind would be benefitted by the new system, and that it was my duty to encourage its promulgation.[32]

Horton soon became an agent for Thomson directly. However, Horton eventually found Dr. Thomson’s original system to be imperfect, broke with Thomson, and improved upon the botanic system. Knowing that Dr. Thomson would resent the publication of a “revised” version of his original book, Horton published his own book on the subject—An Improved System of Botanic Medicine—in 1832.[33]

After the publication of the first volume of the work, Thomson filed suit against Horton Howard, but Horton apparently won the case, because the second volume of An Improved System of Botanic Medicine was published the same year. Horton published a third and final volume, specifically focusing on women’s medicine—A Treatise on the Complaints Peculiar to Females: Embracing a System of Midwifery; the Whole in Conformity with the Improved System of Botanic Medicine—which was also published in 1832.[34]

Unfortunately, Horton Howard’s botanic remedies were no match for the cholera epidemic that struck Columbus in the summer of 1833. Horton Howard’s immediate family lost six members during that epidemic, including Horton himself, his wife Hannah, a daughter Ann, a son-in-law, and two grandchildren.[35]

Horton Howard died on August 14, 1833, of cholera, at his home in Columbus, Ohio; he was 63 years old. He was buried the following morning in Columbus. His wife Hannah (Hastings) Howard died August 20, 1833, of cholera, at home; she was 59 years old. She was presumably buried near her husband in Columbus. The remains of both Horton and Hannah Howard were eventually moved to Woodland Cemetery in Dayton in 1851.[36]

Tombstone of Horton and Hannah Howard, Woodland Cemetery

Tombstone of Horton and Hannah Howard, Woodland Cemetery (Photo by the author, 29 Oct. 2011)

Horton Howard was married three times and had 11 children.

Horton’s first wife was Anna Mace. They were married August 7, 1791, at the Clubfoot Creek Meeting House, which was near the Neuse River in Craven County, North Carolina. Anna was born about 1769 and died of tuberculosis on March 12, 1797, in North Carolina; she was 27 years old.[37]

Horton and Anna had two children, both of whom were born in North Carolina:

  1. Henry Howard was born June 13, 1792, and died August 30, 1840.[38]
  2. Ruth Howard was born December 15, 1794, and died of croup on April 15, 1796.[39]

Horton’s second wife was Mary Dew, daughter of Joseph and Vylee Dew. They were married February 25, 1798, at the Clubfoot Creek Meeting House in Craven County, North Carolina. Mary was born February 24, 1771, and died of “inward decay” on September 5, 1804, probably in Belmont County, Ohio; she was 33 years old.[40]

Horton and Mary had three children:

  1. Joseph Howard was born December 20, 1798, in North Carolina, and died about April 1856, probably in Ohio. He married Pharaby J. Patterson in 1821.[41]
  2. Rachel Howard was born May 15, 1802, in Belmont County, Ohio, and died of bilious fever in August 1829. She was unmarried.[42]
  3. Horton J. Howard was born March 23, 1804, in Belmont County, Ohio, and died July 21, 1883, in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. He was a newspaperman and printer at St. Clairsville. He married Mary M. Bates in 1825, then later Eliza W.[43]

Horton’s third wife was Hannah Hastings, daughter of John and Sarah Hastings. Hannah was born February 24, 1774, in Wilmington, Delaware. Horton and Hannah were married December 5, 1806, at a public meeting of Quakers in Wilmington, Delaware.[44]

Signature of Hannah Hastings (later Mrs. Horton Howard), 1804

Signature of Hannah Hastings (later Mrs. Horton Howard), 1804 (Dayton Metro Library, Box 34, Folder 21)

Horton and Hannah had six children, all of whom were born in Belmont County, Ohio:

  1. Sarah Hastings Howard was born December 27, 1807, and died December 11, 1887. She married Samuel Forrer in 1826.[45]
  2. Mary Howard was born March 6, 1809, and died April 24, 1891. She married Harvey Little in 1827, then Dr. John Gladstone Affleck in 1837.[46]
  3. Ann Howard was born June 11, 1811, and died of cholera on August 9, 1833, in Columbus, Ohio. In 1851, her remains were removed to Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[47]
  4. Hannah Howard was born March 7, 1812, and died of bilious fever on August 6, 1825, in Columbus, Ohio. In 1851, her remains were removed to Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[48]
  5. John H. Howard was born October 5, 1813, and died May 8, 1878, in Dayton, Ohio. He married Ann E. Loury in 1841.[49]
  6. Jane Howard was born February 2, 1816, and died August 6, 1819, probably in Belmont County, Ohio. In 1851, her remains were removed to Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[50]

*****

This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in April 2012 for the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018) finding aid at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, Ohio, 45402; phone (937) 496-8654.

Additional information about the sketch’s subject can be found in that collection. For more information about the manuscript collection’s contents, please see the original PDF finding aid available in the Local History Room of the Dayton Metro Library, the OhioLINK EAD Repository entry, or the WorldCat record.

Please contact the Dayton Metro Library or this blog’s author for more information about how to access the original finding aid or the manuscript collection.


[1] Howard Genealogical Information, Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), 36:20, Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio; Sarah Forrer to Dewitt Clinton Howard, 15 Mar. 1851, FPW, 4:12; William Wade Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy (Ann Arbor, MI: Edwards Bros., 1936), 1:271-272.

[2] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; Sarah Forrer to Dewitt Clinton Howard, 15 Mar. 1851, FPW, 4:12.

[3] Sarah Forrer to Dewitt Clinton Howard, 15 Mar. 1851, FPW, 4:12; 1790 U.S. Federal Census, Ancestry Library Edition.

[4] H. E. Smith, “The Quakers, their Migration to the Upper Ohio, their Customs and Discipline,” Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society Quarterly 37 (1928): 39-41.

[5] Sarah Forrer to Dewitt Clinton Howard, 15 Mar. 1851, FPW, 4:12.

[6] Smith, “The Quakers…,” 41; Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 4:137.

[7] Borden Stanton to friends, 25 May 1802, quoted in Smith, “The Quakers…,” 45-46.

[8] Smith, “The Quakers…,” 41-42; “Horton Howard,” Quakerpedia, last modified 29 Aug. 2007, accessed 1 Mar. 2012, http://www.quakerpedia.org/index.php?title=Horton_Howard.

[9] Horton Howard to his wife Mary (Dew) Howard, [no date] 1799, FPW, 34:9.

[10] Smith, “The Quakers…,” 42.

[11] Borden Stanton to friends, 25 May 1802, quoted in Smith, “The Quakers…,” 46.

[12] Smith, “The Quakers…,” 42-43.

[13] Smith, “The Quakers…,” 42-43; Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 1:272, 4:40.

[14] “Horton Howard,” Quakerpedia; Smith, “The Quakers…,” 42-43; John S. Williams, “Our Cabin, or Life in the Woods,” American Pioneer 2 (1843), accessed 29 Feb. 2012, http://vault.hanover.edu/~smith/w11comphist.htm.

[15] Carol Willsey Bell, Ohio Lands: Steubenville Land Office, 1800-1820 (Youngstown, OH: Carol Willsey Bell, 1983), i, v; “Horton Howard,” Quakerpedia.

[16] Bell, Ohio Lands, 7; Smith, “The Quakers…,” 43-45; Williams, “Our Cabin, or Life in the Woods”;

[17] Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 4:[7], 4:137; “Horton Howard,” Quakerpedia; J. A. Caldwell, Hisory of Belmont and Jefferson Counties, Ohio (Wheeling, WV: Historical Publishing Co., 1880), 186.

[18] “Horton Howard,” Quakerpedia.

[19] “Horton Howard,” Quakerpedia; Bell, Ohio Lands, 172; Horton Howard to Thomas Rotch, [several letters dated 1811-1823], Thomas and Charity Rotch Papers, Massillon Public Library, Massillon, Ohio, accessed 29 Dec. 2011, http://www.massillonmemory.org.

[20] Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 4:338.

[21] Horton Howard to Thomas Rotch, 16 Dec. 1819 and 28 Apr. 1820, Thomas and Charity Rotch Papers, Massillon Public Library, Massillon, Ohio, accessed 1 Mar. 2012, http://www.ohiomemory.org; “Horton Howard,” Quakerpedia.

[22] Horton Howard to Thomas Rotch, 28 Apr. 1820, Thomas and Charity Rotch Papers, B-95-10, accessed 1 Mar. 2012, http://www.ohiomemory.org/u?/p15005coll39,1400.

[23] Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 4:338, 4:1166.

[24] “Horton Howard,” Quakerpedia; “Topographical Map of the State of Ohio” Map (1828), http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/29048990; “Map of Meetings in the Contiguous Parts of Pennsylvania, Virginia, & Ohio” (1813-1828), http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/697639491. Horton also mentions mapmaking in some of his correspondence (FPW).

[25] Horton Howard to Sarah Howard, 23 Nov. 1825, FPW, 34:13.

[26] Horton Howard to his wife Hannah (Hastings) Howard, 14 Feb. 1828, FPW, 34:10.

[27] Horton Howard to his wife Hannah (Hastings) Howard, 14 Feb. 1828 and 11 Aug. 1828, FPW, 34:10.

[28] Sarah Forrer to Dewitt Clinton Howard, 15 Mar. 1851, FPW, 4:12.

[29] Horton Howard to Thomas Rotch, 30 Oct. 1818, Thomas and Charity Rotch Papers, B-95-7, accessed 1 Mar. 2012, http://www.ohiomemory.org/u?/p15005coll39,1436.

[30] Horton Howard, An Improved System of Botanic Medicine; Founded upon Correct Physiological Principles; Embracing a Concise View of Anatomy and Physiology; Together with an Illustration of the New Theory of Medicine (Columbus, OH: Horton Howard, 1832), accessed 1 Mar. 2012, http://www.archive.org/details/improvedsystemof01howa, 1:3-4.

[31] Howard, An Improved System of Botanic Medicine, 1:5.

[32] Howard, An Improved System of Botanic Medicine, 1:5-6.

[33] Howard, An Improved System of Botanic Medicine, 1:6-7; Christopher Hoolihan, “Horton Howard,” An Annotated Catalogue of the Edward C. Atwater Collection of American Popular Medicine and Health Reform (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2008), accessed 1 Mar. 2012, http://books.google.com/books?id=nGcDUS7WUqYC, 3:371-372; Alex Berman and Michael A. Flannery, America’s Botanico-Medical Movements: Vox Populi (New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 2001), accessed 8 Oct. 2011, http://books.google.com/books?id=gIWWi3HZU8oC, 47-48.

[34] Hoolihan, “Horton Howard,” 3:372.

[35] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; Ebenezer Thomas to Samuel Forrer, 9-20 Aug. 1833 [four letters], FPW, 1:15; Samuel Forrer to Horton Howard, 12 Aug. 1833 [two letters], FPW, 1:13; William T. Martin, History of Franklin County, Ohio (Columbus : Follett, Forster & Co., 1858), 305-306; Ohio State Journal, 9 Aug. 1833, 17 Aug. 1833, 24 Aug. 1833, 7 Sept. 1833, 2 Nov. 1833; Berman and Flannery, America’s Botanico-Medical Movements, 48.

[36] Ebenezer Thomas to Samuel Forrer, 15 Aug. 1833 and 20 Aug. 1833, FPW, 1:15; Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; Ohio State Journal, 17 Aug. 1833, 24 Aug. 1833, 2 Nov. 1833; Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 4:1166; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org. Horton and Hannah Howard are buried in Section 66, Lot 125.

[37] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; Sarah Forrer to Dewitt Clinton Howard, 15 Mar. 1851, FPW, 4:12; Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 1:271-272.

[38] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; Sarah Forrer to Dewitt Clinton Howard, 15 Mar. 1851, FPW, 4:12.

[39] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; Sarah Forrer to Dewitt Clinton Howard, 15 Mar. 1851, FPW, 4:12.

[40] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; Sarah Forrer to Dewitt Clinton Howard, 15 Mar. 1851, FPW, 4:12; Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 1:272.

[41] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; Sarah Forrer to Dewitt Clinton Howard, 15 Mar. 1851, FPW, 4:12.

[42] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; Sarah Forrer to Dewitt Clinton Howard, 15 Mar. 1851, FPW, 4:12.

[43] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; Sarah Forrer to Dewitt Clinton Howard, 15 Mar. 1851, FPW, 4:12; Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 4:224.; Find A Grave, accessed 29 Feb. 2012, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=78237126.

[44] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; Sarah Forrer to Dewitt Clinton Howard, 15 Mar. 1851, FPW, 4:12; Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 4:150.

[45] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; Forrer Genealogical Data, FPW, 7:12. See also FPW, Series I: Samuel Forrer Family.

[46] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20.

[47] Ebenezer Thomas to Samuel Forrer, 9 Aug. 1833, FPW, 1:15; Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; Ohio State Journal, 17 Aug 1833, 7 Sep 1833, 2 Nov 1833; Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 4:1166; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 26 Oct. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[48] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; Howard, An Improved System of Botanic Medicine, 1:4; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 26 Oct. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[49] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20.

[50] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 26 Oct. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

A Tale of Two Howards, Part 7 – The Squirrel Hunters

…in these stirring times I suppose it would be too much to ask of a young man of spirit to sit in the house teaching…while most of his companions are in the field…[1]

-Sarah Forrer to her daughter Mary, 3 Sept. 1862

 Note: This article is not intended as a history of the Squirrel Hunters but as a framework for sharing the stories of two particular Squirrel Hunters from Dayton, Ohio: Howard Forrer and Eugene Parrott. For more general history of this episode, check out Panic on the Ohio! from Blue & Gray Magazine (Apr/May 1986).

On September 1, 1862—the same day that Howard Forrer reluctantly returned to teaching a classroom full of students at the Second District School after his efforts to join the army had so far failed—a meeting was called at Dayton’s Armory Hall to discuss the city’s defense needs, in light of recent intelligence that a portion of Kirby Smith’s army under Brig. Gen. Henry Heth was advancing through northern Kentucky to threaten Ohio, following a victory at Richmond, Kentucky.[2]

As a result of the September 1 meeting, it was resolved that

in view of the impending danger of invasion of the State, all able-bodied men should enroll themselves for military discipline and drill, and hold themselves in readiness to go to the front at the call of the governor…[3]

The call of the governor did indeed come, the very next day. On September 2, Ohio Governor David Tod issued the following call for men to defend Ohio’s borders:

Our southern border is threatened with invasion. I have therefore to recommend that all the loyal men of your counties at once form themselves into military companies and regiments to beat back the enemy at any and all points he may attempt to invade our State. Gather up all the arms in the country, and furnish yourselves with ammunition for the same. The service will be but a few days. The soil of Ohio must not be invaded by the enemies of our glorious government.[4]

H. Eugene Parrott, a 23-year-old bachelor who would later marry into the Forrer/Peirce family, wrote of the excitement in his diary on September 2:

Our city has been a state of excitem’t today on account of the proximity of the rebel army in Ky. Our forces were compelled to evacuate Lexingtonby Gen. Kirby Smith with 20 men, & there apparently nothing to prevent him from advancing to Covington& into Ohio. Cincinnatiis under martial law & in a great panic. At a meeting of citizens this eve’g, “to prepare for the defense of the MiamiValley,” it was resolved that all able bodied men should hereafter close their places of business at 4 P.M. & spend 2 hours in drilling. We are to meet at the polls of the several wards tomorrow & organize into companies & regiments…[5]

On the evening of September 2, Howard Forrer informed his parents that he would be answering the governor’s call. His mother Sarah wrote:

[Howard] told me this evening that he has the place of Post Adjutant at Camp Dayton. Since he will go, I suppose it is best he should have some place…[6]

The next morning, Howard’s cousin William Howard departed for Cincinnati with the 17th Ohio Battery (see Part 5), and Howard himself reported to Camp Dayton. Howard’s mother Sarah wrote to her daughter that morning:

Howard goes to Camp Dayton this morning to take the place of Adjutant. I do not know whether it is anything that will last long, but he is resolved at all [illegible] to go from the school… Howard goes to Columbus tonight with a recommendation from Col. [Tr.?] to the Gov, for the place of Post Adjutant. He may not [receive?] it, and may not keep it long if he does. It is uncertain whether there will be a Military Post there long. But Howard thinks it would be a stepping stone to something else perhaps the Adjutancy of the 112th.[7]

In her diary entry for the same day, Sarah wrote:

…it is very hard for me to feel willing to give up my only son, even for the defence of the country… He feels so injured by my continual opposition to his wishes that I must be silent… I suppose it is too much to ask of a young man of spirit to sit in the house and teach, in these stirring times, when most of his friends are in the field.[8]

According to Eugene Parrott, the men who turned up for the defense of Dayton on September 3 constituted “a disorganized mess,” as he wrote later that day:

Our city has been in a state of great excitement today. All the stores were closed at 4 P.M. & every body turned out to form ward companies & drill, a disorganized mess that would be little value as soldiers I think for a long time but it was encouraging to see the willing spirit manifested by such a wholesale turn-out. The news is better this eve’g; it is even said that Kirby Smith is south of the Ky river, & the story of his advance on Cin was only invented in order to have the city entrenched & fortified as it ought to be.[9]

On September 4, 1862, the following address, imploring men to volunteer to defend Dayton and indeed the state from Confederate invaders, appeared in the Dayton Daily Journal on September 4, 1862:

"The Enemy at Our Front Door," Dayton Daily Journal, Sept. 4, 1862

"The Enemy at Our Front Door," Dayton Daily Journal, Sept. 4, 1862

The result of the governor’s call, the “Enemy at Our Door” article and similar efforts throughout the state, was that

from all parts of the State, men came to the front with all kinds of arms, shot-guns, rifles, pistols, anything that came handy, and dressed in any kind of attire that happened to suit the occasion. So variously were they dressed, and so variously were they armed, that they received the name of ‘Squirrel Hunters’…[10]

On the afternoon of the September 4, there was quite a bit of excitement, as Sarah Forrer wrote in her diary on the day afterward:

Yesterday there was an alarm. All the bells in the city rang violently. I was writing. On going out I learned all who were able were expected to go to Cincinnati. The rebels are said to be coming in force. The city is all excitement. In a few minutes a very fine-looking young man gave me a note from Brother John [Howard] saying, “Give this man, Mr. J___, your rifle.” Mr. J___ said Mr. Forrer would be at home soon and would mould some bullets. I gave him the Rifle and he left, saying he would return. Husband [Samuel Forrer] came and began to mould bullets, and I to mend the old shot pouch to carry them in, and some other things, as patches, bullet moulds, etc. Husband quit his work, saying there was enough. I thought not and moulded more. Then Betty came and moulded till Mr. F. insisted she should stop. We put the old rifle in good condition. After an hour Mr. J___ came and said he did not need it, that Mr. Howard would lend him an army gun. I saw him afterwards with his outfit. The old rifle is in my chamber. It came very near seeing two wars. It was in the war of 1812…[11]

Howard Forrer was still in Columbus when the alarm was sounded on September 4. However, he had seen similar excitement during his time in Columbus. “You ought to have seen the men going with [their] squirrel guns[,] old long rifles,” he told his mother upon his return to Dayton on the 5th. She replied, “Oh, I said, I brushed up one myself today.” He asked, “Were you frightened here too?” [12]

In recounting her answer to Howard in a letter to her daughters, Sarah added a few more details than what she had written in her journal:

I said while I sat writing, about three o’clock the all bells in the City rang violently, and on inquiry I found there was a dispatch from the Gov. telling us to send everybody down that we could arm, and all were to assemble at the Court House to make arrangements. I heard the door bell ring, and on going to the door was met by a good honest working young man, with a note from Brother John, saying give this man your Rifle. I went immediately gave it to him, but told him, there were no bullets. He said he would be back in a minute or two and Mr. Howard said Mr. Forrer would come soon and mould bullets. In a moment Father [Samuel Forrer] came with some lead. As soon as he opened the door, he asked was not that my Rifle. I met out here, I told him, yes, I supposed thee told John to send the men here for it. He said to me, I told him Howard and I would want it. I said Howard would not use the Old Rifle if he was here, and thee can’t go, there is no use in talking about it; it is better the young man go, let him have it, so he went to moulding bullets…[13]

Samuel Forrer was then 69 years old, so it was probably well that his wife forbade him to join the Squirrel Hunters!

After the alarm on September 4, Eugene Parrott resolved that he too must answer the call to arms, despite his father’s wishes that he remain at home. (Eugene’s older brother, Edwin A. Parrott was already gone with the First Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and his father wished his youngest son to stay at home and help with the business.) Eugene wrote of the day’s excitement and his decision:

The enemy is reported today 16 miles fr Cinti & nearly every young man in town went down tonight with a gun. I have this afternoon endured agony in yieldg to my father’s entreats, but I cannot stay, my country calls, tomorrow I go.[14]

Sarah wrote in her diary September 5 that many troops had departed for Cincinnati:

Yesterday [Sept. 4] and today [Sept. 5] the troops and farmers, mostly the latter, pass by carloads, and many thousands have gone down. Part of a regiment in CampDaytonleft. Howard went as adjutant. I scarce allowed myself to think he was going, but made ready for him with as little delay as possible. After he was gone and evening came on I was quite exhausted. All were out and gone home, and I sat alone on the little back porch to rest my weary self. But I dared not think of Howard.[15]

She wrote of Howard’s departure in slightly more detail in a letter to her daughters on September 7:

Howard had the Post Adjutancy here ‘till further orders.’ And he was detailed with Hunter Odlin as Capt. To take 500 troops to Cin[cinnati]. They went Friday evening [Sept. 5]. Some think they will not be needed, and will be sent back, as they are raw troops, to drill here inCampDayton. I hope so…

I was prepared to see Howard go when he returned from Colum[bus]. And I think he was very much relieved to find me composed, and manifesting no great excitement…

I feel as great dislike to his going as ever I did, and to his being connected with the Army in any way, but there seemed a necessity, just now, and I could not prevent him if I would. I think too he felt better that I bade him fare well quietly and without manifesting much emosion [sic]. Nothing else would serve him, I hope and trust I shall soon see him again for they are quite green, and if they can be spared I think they will be sent home to prepare themselves better for service. I try not to think much about it. And I want you to do the same. It is a matter beyond our control…[16]

In her diary that same day, she added a note of describing how she already missed her beloved only son: “It is even worse than I had anticipated. I go into Howard’s room and everything tells me he is gone…”[17]

A few days later, Sarah was pleased to receive word that, so far, Howard was safe:

Received a short note from Howard, written in great haste at Camp King, three miles below Cincinnati on the Ohio river, on the Kentucky side. He is well. For this I am thankful. I knew they had no tents, and I feared the exposure would be too much for him, unaccustomed as he is to that kind of life…[18]

Eugene Parrott was among the many Daytonians, including Howard Forrer, who headed to Cincinnati on September 5, to join a force of about several thousand so-called Squirrel Hunters.[19]

Eugene’s diary entries for those days help bring the experience to life:

September 5, 1862:

Left home after a hasty tea armed & equipped, a soldier of the Union. As soon as I got away & felt I was certainly going I felt I was in the right course, pursuing my highest duty. Our train got off amid the cheers of the people, at 8 P.M.; reported at Chamber of Commerce at midnight; were marched to 5th St. market space for supper, & returning turned in on the floor at 3 o’clock.[20]

September 6, 1862:

At 5 A.M. having got about an hour & a half’s sleep there was a noise commenced enough to awake the seven sleepers, so rose feeling pretty well on short rest. Breakfasted at Burnet with Charlie Clegg. Everybody said the call was a ‘hum,’ so got a discharge, but heard about dinner the attack was about to commence, so reported again at Mer Exch. My company had been ordered off so I fell in with a Dayton squad and we were detailed for Harrison’s Body Guard, & ordered to North Bend, where the enemy was expected to cross the river. Didn’t get a train till six P.M. Got to North Bend& found no enemy, apparently a false alarm. [Illegible] tonight by the river side.[21]

September 7, 1862:

Rose at 5 A.M. quite refreshed by my first night’s sleep on the ground. [Illegible] out with part of the squad foraging for breakfast. Fared pretty well at the Thirteen Mile House. We went into camp today on our regimental parade ground, which is on Gen Harrison’s homestead, just in front of where his house stood. There was board yard here on the river which the men used for putting up very comfortable quarters.[22]

September 8, 1862:

Rose at 6 A.M. after a broken night’s rest—waked up at midnight by mosquitoes & kept up by the fun of the [squad?] until 2, then on guard until 4. The Guard made a forced march onCleves, about a mile distant where we had ordered breakfast, & a good one we got from mine host Kennedy. The impression seems to be that the danger is about over now, & as my business is too imperative to admit of my staying to play soldier I got a pass fromCol.Harrison & leftNorth Bendat 2:50 P.M. Reached home at 8, went to the office & looked over the business. Home at Ten. Our Guard was ordered down to the river on a scouting expedition this morning—going down on one of the river gun boats, & taking a [train?] intoKentucky, the enemy’s country. When we got orders, Young & I who were going home, determined to go on the scout, even if we missed our train, but having to go back to camp after my ammunition, from Hd Qrs, I found on my return our Guard was about a quarter of a mile down the river, I went after them ‘double quick,’ but when I got within about a hundred yards of the boat she shoved off, leaving me very much discomfited.

Last night about 5 o’clock, it was telegraphed to Hd. Qrs. from CampTippecanoe, 5 miles below here, that the enemy was in sight, & for a short time, we confidently expected a fight. We were ordered under arms ready to march, & supplied with ammunition. The Col.went down to see about the matters & returning in a few hours informed us that it was a party of our own men who had been foraging in Ky & were returning, which caused the alarm. Our boys seemed quite cool at the prospect of a fight, for myself I felt no apprehension, for I knew I had come out to fight & led by high & conscientious motives & if I fell it would be in a sacred cause. My greatest anxiety was for father, who I knew would sorely miss me in the business if I should fall.[23]

(Ouch! He thought his father would only miss him in the business if he were killed? Perhaps Thomas Parrott was not the most affectionate dad.)

Howard Forrer wrote his version of the events of September 7 and 8 to his mother, which she summarized briefly in a letter to her daughters a few days later:

I received both of your letters today, and one from Howard this morning. I had a short note yesterday, and a letter of 8 pages today. The first was dated Sept. 7th, Camp King, Ky., 3 miles below Ci—i [Cincinnati]. The one today at Camp 13 miles beyond Covington dated 8 Sept. In his first he said they had two calls to arms soon after entering the encampment, but they both proved false. They were ordered to march, and had a long hot march to their present camp. Some of the men dropped with fatigue and heat. Howard said he was well, and pretty near rested when he wrote…[24]

On September 9, Eugene Parrott was back in Dayton, according to his diary:

Busy in the office part of the day, the other part fighting my battles (?) o’er on the street & telling about that ‘gay & festiverous’ corps, the ‘Body Guard.’ Slept at Aunt Margaret’s tonight, the family wanting a protector during Charlie’s absence.[25]

However, on September 10, all the Squirrel Hunters were called back to Cincinnati. (This was probably in response to a skirmish that took place at Fort Mitchel that day; the skirmish was the closest the Squirrel Hunters actually got to any real action.[26]) Eugene wrote of the call back:

Another alarm from Cinti today. The Governor calls all the minute men back. As soon as we got the news I came home & got ready to go back, feeling if there should be a fight, I ought by all means to be with my company. We had a dispatch the eve from Joe, say’g that the enemy was in sight & they expected to hear their guns every minute, but having had some experience in Cinti scares, & not being in a condition to leave home except in a great emergency, I concluded to wait until tomorrow.[27]

Also on September 10, Sarah shared some additional Squirrel Hunter news with her daughter:

Did I tell you Fin Harrison has command of a Regiment or in some way, I do not know how he has got to be a Brigadier, and is in command of our Dayton volunteers, and I suppose some others, at ‘North Bend’, his grandfather’s old home. Joe Peirce and Brit Darst went to join his command today…[28]

Apparently, Joe Peirce and Brit Darst were also friends of Eugene Parrott, because the three went to Cincinnati together, but on September 11, not the 10th:

I woke this morning uncertain whether I ought to go back to North Bend or not, but Munger & Joe Peirce came into the office about eleven o’clock, & said they would go if I would, & not feeling willing to keep three men from the field when possibly we were much needed I consented to go. Left at 4 P.M. with Peirce & Brit Darst. Munger couldn’t get ready. Reached Ludlow about six, & got off intending to go across the country to the river, & thereby avoid red tape in Cin, as we feared if a fight was in progress we should have difficulty in getting out on the O&M Rd. Couldn’t get a horse for love or money, & couldn’t learn that there was any road except through Cin, so we laid around until the next down train, nearly midnight. Darst and I took possession of a bench at the depot with our knapsacks for pillows, got two or three hours of very comfortable sleep. Went to bed at the Burnet House at 1:30 A.M.[29]

A “great battle” was apparently expected to take place on September 12, Eugene wrote:

Rose at 4 & took the 5 o’clock train for Camp Harrison. The morning papers say that Kirby Smith was last night reinforced by 10,000 of Bragg’s troops & there will certainly be a great battle today. Got to camp in time to go with the ‘Guard’ for one of Kennedy’s good breakfasts. Fell easily into the routine of camp life, slept, smoked, eat, & speculated on the approach of the enemy. Our scouts inform us there were 300 rebel cavalry last night at FrancisvilleKy.2 miles only from our Hd. Qrs., but they don’t show themselves on the river. The news comes to us from Cin that Smith is retreating this afternoon, & Col.Harrison talks of taking his Brig tomorrow across the river, to hang on the enemy’s rear & pick up stragglers.[30]

No great battle between Kirby Smith’s army and the Squirrel Hunters ever took place:

…whether Kirby Smith’s soldiers would have been as easily brought down at the crack of their [the Squirrel Hunters’] rifles and shot-guns as squirrels had frequently been on previous occasions, was never demonstrated, as they [the Confederates] retreated southward without testing the valor of the Squirrel Hunters.[31]

On September 13, Eugene Parrott and many of the other Squirrel Hunters returned to their homes. The men returning to Dayton were apparently met with much fanfare, despite the fact that they had not participated in any actual combat:

Today we end our bloodless campaign. The Cin papers & the Gov’s proclamation say the danger is over & the minute men will be discharged. Tho’ we have done nothing in the way of fighting, we came with willing hearts to do it, & probably after all it is the militia have saved Cin. The hosts of them that lined the banks of the Ohiowould have made the crossing of the river a very severe undertaking. It has been a glorious sight to see; almost worth a man’s life time, the great outpouring of the citizen soldiery, politicians & legislators in the ranks, & stout yeomanry from all quarters of the state with their squirrel rifles & blankets over their shoulders have been pouring into Cin by thousands & tens of thousands. It has not been so seen since Bunker Hill. Got home at eight o’clock—found a crowd at the depot & as much fuss made over us as if we were really blood stained heroes.[32]

 *****

Howard Forrer was not among those returning to Dayton on September 13, however. He stayed in northern Kentucky with his newfound regiment, the 112th. On the 15th, Samuel Forrer traveled down to Kentucky to visit his son at camp. In one of the few surviving letters written by Howard Forrer himself, he tells his sister Elizabeth how pleased he was by the visit:

Father came to see me yesterday and besides the delightful surprise of his own presence he brought his carpet sack full of good things from home, good in themselves and doubly good as reminders that I am not forgotten by the loved ones at home…[33]

Howard was stationed at Camp Shaler, one of the fortifications built up on the Kentucky side for the defense of Cincinnati. (Camp Shaler, or Shaler Battery, is now part of Evergreen Cemetery in Southgate, Ky – see photo.) Sarah conveyed news of Howard’s activates at Camp Shaler, as well as his regiment’s recruitment situation, to her daughters on September 21:

I had a very kind and pleasant letter from Howard from Camp Shaler or Taylor as they sometimes call it. He was well and seemed to enjoy his situation, since they are settled in this Camp, which is a pleasant place, in the Cemetery, only a few miles over the river. I did not mean to say he endured all the privations and hardships of a private. He has a horse, and was not so fatigued with the long, hot, unnecessary march as the poor men were, but he felt indignant on their account, and he too was much fatigued. We are trying to get them home to finish recruiting the regiment, but Gen. [Horatio G.] Wright says he has been sending so many away, that at present he cannot spare them. Mr. Odlin is making [exertions?] for them, in the way of recruiting, having obtained authority from the Gov. He intends to have Hunter for Lieutenant Col. Who they will have for Col. I do not know. They wish to get some one who will give [character?] to the Regiment and in this way aid in enlisting. Father says he does not think they will succeed[,] the time is so short. If they do, he thinks Howard will be the Adjutant. For my part, if the want of success is the means of disgusting Howard with the service, I hope they will not succeed… I hope he will be disgusted and leave…[34]

Unfortunately, Sarah did not get her wish.


[1] Sarah Forrer to Mary Forrer, 3 Sept. 1862, Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), 4:5, Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio.

[2] History of Dayton, Ohio (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1889), 296; David E. Roth, “Squirrel Hunters to the Rescue,” Blue and Gray Magazine 3, no 5 (Apr./May 1986), http://www.cincinnaticwrt.org/data/ohio%20in%20the%20war/1862%20Defense%20of%20Cincinnati/iii_squirrel.pdf.

[3] History of Dayton, Ohio, 296.

[4] David Tod, 2 Sept. 1862, quoted in Roth.

[5] H. Eugene Parrott’s diary, 2 Sept. 1862, FPW, 31:1.

[6] Sarah Forrer’s diary, [2 Sept. 1862], quoted in Frances I. Parrott, “Sons and Mothers,” [undated], FPW, 32:4.

[7] Sarah Forrer to Mary Forrer, 3 Sept. 1862, FPW, 4:5.

[8] Sarah Forrer’s diary, [3 Sept. 1862], quoted in F. I. Parrott, FPW, 32:4.

[9] H. Eugene Parrott’s diary, 3 Sept. 1862, FPW, 31:1.

[10] History of Dayton, Ohio, 297.

[11] Sarah Forrer’s diary, 5 Sept. 1862, quoted in F. I. Parrott, FPW, 32:4.

[12] Sarah Forrer to Mary Forrer and Augusta Bruen, 7 Sept. 1862, FPW, 4:5.

[13] Sarah Forrer to Mary Forrer and Augusta Bruen, 7 Sept. 1862, FPW, 4:5.

[14] H. Eugene Parrott’s diary, 4 Sept. 1862, FPW, 31:1.

[15] Sarah Forrer’s diary, 5 Sept. 1862, quoted in F. I. Parrott, FPW, 32:4.

[16] Sarah Forrer to Mary Forrer and Augusta Bruen, 7 Sept. 1862, FPW, 4:5.

[17] Sarah Forrer’s diary, 7 Sept. 1862, quoted in F. I. Parrott, FPW, 32:4.

[18] Sarah Forrer’s diary, [?] Sept. 1862, quoted in F. I. Parrott, FPW, 32:4.

[19] H. Eugene Parrott’s diary, 5 Sept. 1862, FPW, 31:1.

[20] H. Eugene Parrott’s diary, 5 Sept. 1862, FPW, 31:1.

[21] H. Eugene Parrott’s diary, 6 Sept. 1862, FPW, 31:1.

[22] H. Eugene Parrott’s diary, 7 Sept. 1862, FPW, 31:1.

[23] H. Eugene Parrott’s diary, 8 Sept. 1862, FPW, 31:1.

[24] Sarah Forrer to Mary Forrer and Augusta Bruen, 10 Sept. 1862, FPW, 4:5.

[25] H. Eugene Parrott’s diary, 9 Sept. 1862, FPW, 31:1.

[26] Roth.

[27] H. Eugene Parrott’s diary, 10 Sept. 1862, FPW, 31:1.

[28] Sarah Forrer to Mary Forrer and Augusta Bruen, 10 Sept. 1862, FPW, 4:5.

[29] H. Eugene Parrott’s diary, 11 Sept. 1862, FPW, 31:1.

[30] H. Eugene Parrott’s diary, 12 Sept. 1862, FPW, 31:1.

[31] History of Dayton, Ohio, 297.

[32] H. Eugene Parrott’s diary, 13 Sept. 1862, FPW, 31:1.

[33] Howard Forrer to Elizabeth (Forrer) Peirce, 16 Sept. 1862, FPW, 6:8.

[34] Sarah Forrer to Mary Forrer and Augusta Bruen, 21 Sept. 1862, FPW, 4:5.

Remembering the 1937 Flood

When I was a kid, I remember my grandparents and others of their generation talking about the 1937 flood that had affected our town, Portsmouth, Ohio.

1937 Flood in Portsmouth, Near Waller Street (note N&W Train Depot in back ground)

1937 Flood in Portsmouth, Near Waller Street (note N&W Train Depot in back ground) (from my Grandpa P.'s collection)

As a child, I only thought about “the flood” as being in Portsmouth. It did not occur to me that if the Ohio River was flooded at Portsmouth, it was probably high everywhere else (or at least everywhere else downstream), by the very nature of rivers. But when I got older and more interested and did a little research on it — okay,  a lot of research (I wrote my 2005 history honors thesis on the 1937 flood) — I quickly learned that it was definitely not a localized incident but an extremely widespread disaster. It affected pretty much every community along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers from Pittsburgh to New Orleans, breaking previous flood records in many of them.

For example, Portsmouth had long bragged that it was “flood-proof” thanks to a floodwall that would protect against a river height of 62 feet — which never quite made sense to me since the 1913 flood at Portsmouth reached over 68 feet. (So why brag about a 62-foot floodwall?) However, on January 27, the Ohio River crested at over 74 feet at Portsmouth, 12 feet higher than the floodwall. Thankfully, since then, a new 77 foot wall has been built, and so far, so good.

77-foot floodwall at Portsmouth, Ohio

77-foot floodwall at Portsmouth, Ohio

But back to the 1937 Flood… This year is the 75th anniversary of the 1937 Flood, and I couldn’t just let it pass without saying a word — not when I spent the better part of my senior year of college reading and writing about it.

I know that a lot of the affected communities are holding commemorative events this month to remember the flood. Unfortunately, I will be missing them, since I no longer live along the Ohio River, but if you have a chance, check them out some of the 1937 Flood commemorative events in cities like Cincinnati (library event list) and Portsmouth (event list).

If photos are what you’re interested in — and who isn’t? — you should definitely check these out:

Here are some great non-web resources on the flood:

I have noticed in recent years that there have been some new books published on the flood. (Where the heck were these when I was writing my paper in ’05?!)

  • James E. Casto, The Great Ohio River flood of 1937 (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2009). Hey, love the title! I haven’t seen this (it’s on my wishlist), but it looks like mostly pictures — a great way to tell the story, flood photos make a huge impact! (Mr. Casto will be speaking on Jan. 26, 2012, at the Portsmouth Public Library.)
  • David Welky, The thousand-year flood : the Ohio-Mississippi disaster of 1937 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011). This is also on my “list” — hooray for a university-press history of this event! Hey, I just realized that we have this book at the library where I work…going to have to request it…okay, just did!

One of the librarians at the Portsmouth Public Library gives a nice review of some of these materials in this YouTube video. The PPL also has some oral history interviews with 1937 flood survivors (including Alberta Parker, whose mother Bessie Tomlin died in the ’37 flood), as well as a video about the River Voices video on their YouTube page, so check it out.

And finally, since I have mentioned it at least three times — just in case you are interested in reading a copy of my 2005 senior history thesis “The Great Ohio River Flood of 1937”, you should be able to find a copy at : Columbus Metro Library and Shawnee State University’s Clark Library (both have cataloged it so it is listed on WorldCat); Portsmouth Public Library’s Local History Room and Greene County Public Library (not on WorldCat but I remember giving them each a copy).

Five Oaks

Before it was a neighborhood…or even a park…it was a house. Five Oaks was the name that Jeremiah H. Peirce, a local lard oil manufacturer and later lumber dealer, gave to his 1854 home, apparently naming the estate after “five stately oak trees” situated on the four-acre property (Dayton History; Burroughs; FONIA).

I thought I would share some photos and information about the Five Oaks estate, as a nice, light entry for around the holidays.

This annotated map shows the location of the J. H. Peirce and boundaries estate in 1875. A lot of these old maps don’t show street names, so I’ve added the (current) street names to help you get your bearings in the map:

Location of Five Oaks, 1875

Location of Five Oaks, 1875

(You can view a high resolution version of the original Harrison Township map on Dayton Remembers, Dayton Metro Library’s digital images collection.)

Charles Sullivan, well-known in the Montgomery County Historical Society (now Dayton History) many decades ago, reminisced about the area in the late 19th century, mentioning two homes in particular that were off the west side of Forest Avenue (or, Tate’s Mill Road, in early accounts):

Opposite Shaw ave. a lane ran up to the home of Samuel Forrer, a two story brick, still standing. He was a well known civil engineer… He had six children and the descendants are still [1943] in the locality.

Opposite Neal ave. was the lane running up the hill to “Five Oaks” the residence of J. H. Peirce, a son-in-law of Samuel Forrer. He had 8 children and was in the lumber industry at the corner of Wayne and State now a railroad yard.

Here is a current Google Map showing the area now known as Five Oaks. The little green splotch of Five Oaks Park (northwest corner of 5 Oaks Avenue and Squirrel Road) is where the Five Oaks estate was originally. Samuel Forrer’s home was located on part of the Grandview Medical Center property.

And now for the really good stuff: pictures!

Since many of us probably have gingerbread on the brain right now, I thought it might be fun to share a different kind of “gingerbread house” — gingerbread in the sense of Victorian architectural embellishments. The Five Oaks house had some really neat “gingerbread” around its eaves, as you will see.

This photo, probably from the late 1860s or early 1870s — I suspect those two little boys are Jeremiah’s two youngest children, J. Elliot and Howard; the woman, probably his wife Elizabeth (who died in 1874) — shows what the Five Oaks mansion looked like in its early days:

Five Oaks, before the tower was built

Five Oaks, before the tower was built (Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection)

About 1890, an addition, including a tower, was built on the north end of the house:

Peirce Homestead [Five Oaks]

Peirce Homestead (Lutzenberger Collection)

Here’s a wonderful cyanotypephotograph, showing roughly the same view but from a little further back, so you can see the trees:

Five Oaks cyanotype

Five Oaks (Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection)

After the tower was added, people sometimes referred to the Peirce house as “The Castle on the Hill” (Dayton History).

In a 1980 article about the Five Oaks neighborhood, long-time resident George Loney had this to say about the Peirce homestead (quoted from Burroughs):

There was still a lot of open land around here when I was a kid, and I sure remember that old Peirce castle. It really was a castle. The stones had been imported from Europe, there was a turret and what looked like a dungeon underneath. It was all hidden in the woods and surrounded by three ponds. Mr. Peirce used to hang a rope with a noose on it in the woods to scare us off. I guess we did get on his nerves–all the kids in the neighborhood used to sneak around there. Of course, the castle’s gone now…

The “Mr. Peirce” of this anecdote must refer to J. Elliot Peirce, the only “Mr. Peirce” that Loney could have known in his childhood. J. H. Peirce died in 1889; J. Elliot was his son. Members of the Peirce family lived at Five Oaks until the 1930s: J. H.’s second wife Mary lived there until 1929 along with two of J. H.’s unmarried daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth, both of whom died in 1930. I don’t think J. Elliot actually lived at Five Oaks with his family — Mary, Sarah, and Elizabeth lived there — but according to city directories, he did live very nearby  for a while, at 551 N. Old Orchard Ave., according to a 1919-20 directory; that same directory lists the others at “nec [northeast corner] Five Oaks and Old Orchard Ave.”

In 1946, the four-acre was purchased by the city for a park, and the house was razed (Burroughs; Dayton History). Five Oaks Park now occupies the land.

For more information on Five Oaks or the Peirce family, come see us at the Dayton Metro Library, Local History Room (basement of Main); or feel free to leave a comment on this blog. If photos are what you’re after, check out our Flickr set about the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection.

This post was written in advance on Dec. 17, 2011.

*****

Bibliography

Burroughs, Virginia. “Diversity helps keep Five Oaks neighborhood vital.” Dayton Daily News, 8 Aug. 1980, p. Z6-15. Available in Dayton Local History Room, Clippings File #3908 (Neighborhoods–Five Oaks).

Dayton City Directories. Available at the Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio.

Dayton History. “Five Oaks.” Accessed 15 Dec. 2011.  http://www.daytonhistory.org/archives/who_fiveoaks.htm.

Everts, L. H. Combination Atlas Map of Montgomery County, Ohio. Philadelphia : Hunter Press, 1875. Dayton Remembers: Preserving the History of the Miami Valley. Accessed 17 Dec. 2011 through Dayton Remembers: http://content.daytonmetrolibrary.org/cdm/; or, find in a library.

Five Oaks Neighborhood Improvement Association (FONIA). “Five Oaks History.” Accessed 3 Dec. 2011. http://www.fiveoaksdayton.com/credits.html.

Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018), Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio. This collection is publicly available for research at the Dayton Metro Library, Main Library, Local History Room, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402. Many photos from the collection can be seen at the DML Flickr site, http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmlhistory/.

Lutzenberger, William. “The Peirce Homestead.” Photo #0541. Lutzenberger Collection (MS-024), Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio. Photo available online: http://content.daytonmetrolibrary.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/lutzenberge/id/630.

Sullivan, Charles F. “The Covington Pike” (15 Sept. 1943). In Sullivan’s Papers, 425-437. Dayton, OH: Dayton & Montgomery County Public Library, 1995?. Available at the Dayton Metro Library, call no. 977.173 S949S. Transcription accessed, 15 Dec. 2011, at: http://www.daytonhistorybooks.com/covington_pike.html.

A little Quaker love story, Revisited (Part 6)

I intend this to be the true final installment in my story of how Samuel Forrer and Sarah Howard met in 1825 and married in 1826 without her parents’ consent, but you just never can tell. I keep finding things!

In my last entry, I attempted to riddle out the school Sarah was attending in Cincinnati when she met Samuel. I had to concluded that it was probably one or the other of two schools, but unfortunately I couldn’t make a clear decision between them. No matter…

I included a transcription of an interesting letter from Horton Howard to his daughter Sarah, discussing her schooling, from 23 Nov. 1825. It seems that sometime between Nov. 23 and Dec. 11, when he wrote his daughter another, very differently toned letter, Horton had probably caught wind of Sarah’s blooming relationship with Samuel. The Dec. 11, 1825, letter gives general news, mentions little about school, and offers the following parental admonishments:

Mother says…[for me to tell Sarah] ‘to keep to meetings, to be careful of the company she keeps and not throw herself away.’ This is the earnest solicitude of thy tenderly affectionate parents. It is the Counsel of the giver of every good and perfect gift. If thou art attentive thereto the blessings of everlasting preservation will be afforded and no good thing will be withheld from thee. We are anxiously expecting a letter from thee. Micajah [Williams] is here and in good health, says he rec’d a letter from [his wife] Hannah telling that you were well and that thou wast pleased with the School, all of which is very satisfactory… I intreat [sic] thee my dear Child, write frequently, and freely withhold nothing from us which would be interesting to us or interesting or desirable or useful or relieving to thy self…

Given that Micajah Williams knew Samuel, Sarah, and Sarah’s father (see Part 4, Aug. 14, 2011) — and that Horton mentions Micajah has paid him a visit — it makes me wonder if he (Williams) was the one to tip off Sarah’s parents. In any event, it does sound like they heard about it.

To me, Horton’s letter sounds like the 1825 equivalent of: Watch out for boys [or in this case, men]. Don’t forget about church [especially since your new beau is not of our same religion]. You like your new school; remember how we sent you to school to get an education, not to meet boys [er, men]. And, of course, the classic: Is there something you want to tell us? [We already know, so spill it.]

I don’t know exactly whether Sarah ‘fessed up herself. I can only really go by the correspondence that I actually have.

I know that at some point Samuel asked for Horton’s permission to marry Sarah (see Part 1, Aug. 9, 2011) — which, although what I have is an undated draft, could not have been written very long after Horton’s Dec. 11th letter, because Samuel and Sarah did get married on Feb. 13, 1826 — apparently “without the consent of her much loved parents” (according to Samuel’s Feb. 13, 1826, letter to his new father-in-law Horton, informing him of his and Sarah’s marriage; see Part 3, Aug. 11, 2011).

At the time that I wrote Part 3, I had not yet finished processing the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection of manuscripts (from which all of these letters originated), so I did not know exactly how Sarah’s father reacted but speculated about how he seemed to have taken the news (see Part 3B, Aug. 13, 2011).

Since then, however, I came across a letter from Horton to Sarah and Samuel, dated 21 Feb. 1826, that I had not yet found when I wrote Parts 1-4. This letter, addressed to “My dear children” includes the following [brackets mine]:

I have just time to acknowledge the receipt of Samuel’s letter of the 13th instant  [the one informing Horton of the marriage] and say we shall always be glad to hear of your welfare and to see you as often as we can and wish you to come and see us whenever you can conveniently but considering the distance [between Columbus and Cincinnati] and Samuel’s engagements [as canal engineer, which involved frequent travel] we do not wish to press you to come sooner nor oftener than you reasonably can. I think it probable that in a month or six weeks I shall come to Cincinnati and possibly may bring some one or more of my family to see you, but do not expect it with too much certainty, as we may be disappointed. I wish you to let us hear from [you] as often as one at least in two weeks or at most every month. Give my love to Micajah [Williams] and Joseph Gest and their wives and all inquiring friends, not forgetting Judge Bates and the whole Corps of Engineers. I should be glad to hear how the engraver is getting on with respect to my map, how you are progressing with the Canal, when you expect to let out more to contractors, how much, &c…

Is it just me, or does that come across a little cold? We’d love to see you, IF we have time, and if all our schedules are not too busy. We might come in six weeks, but don’t get your hopes up. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it. Then again, he also obviously (as we can tell from the document) did not gush with excitement and congratulations either.

I suppose it probably was a shock. He sent his 18-year-old daughter away to college, apparently only just in September (or so it sounded from the Nov. 23 letter; see Part 5, Dec. 13, 2011), and in a matter of just a few short months (literally could not have been more than 5 months!), she has gotten married, and to a much older man her father disapproves of, no less, and won’t be coming back home! Really, when you put it that way, it sounds like Horton took the news pretty well!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tangent of history. I know I’ve enjoyed piecing it together (or at least trying to!). And what fun is a sleuthing out a story if you don’t share it?

Note: This post was written in advance, on Dec. 17, 2011.

*****

Bibliography

Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018), Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio. This collection is publicly available for research at the Dayton Metro Library, Main Library, Local History Room, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402.

For more information on Sarah Howard and Samuel Forrer, contact the Dayton Metro Library, or feel free to leave a comment on this blog.