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Orleans County New York

Myths and Legends of Central U.S. and Great Lakes
Early History Ionia Michigan
Captured by The Indians Mrs. Mary Rowlandson
Centennial History Muskegon Michigan
Life In The Copper Mines of Lake Superior
Campbell County Tennessee
Auglaize County Ohio
Ottawa County Kansas
Carroll County Tennessee
Among the Arapahoe Indians
Aborigines and Explorers of Butler County Pennsylvania
Indian Boyhood Life and Adventures
History of White Earth Indian Reservation in Minnesota
Captivitiy Among the Sioux 1862
Early Settlers of Clark County Illinois
Ellis County Kansas
Inkpaduta Indian Massacre
Ute Indian Massacre 1879
Carter County Tennessee
Sioux Indian Massacre New Ulm Minnesota
Indians of Genesee County Michigan
Indians of Long Island New York
Coffee County Tennessee
Lorain County Ohio
Traditions of Blackfeet Indians
Indian Massacre Cherry Valley New York
Goodhue County Minnesota History
Wellsboro Pennsylvania History
Woodbury County Iowa
Pioneer Life Genesee County Michigan
Columbus Ohio Flood 1913
Giles County Tennessee
Decatur County Tennessee
Jewell County Kansas
Farmington Maine
Jefferson County Nebraska
Pioneer Life Near Dearborn Michigan
Holyoke Massachusetts
Orleans County New York
Hamilton County Ohio
Greenwood County Kansas


Historical and Biographical Sketches

 of Orleans County New York –1871

Written by Arand Thomas and originally published 1871.

First section is Historical Sketches of Towns. - 124 pages.

Second section is Biographical sketches of about 138 early settlers – 216 pages..


...begin sample pages...

The first white winter was a hard time for the pioneer to keep his cattle, on account of the scarcity of fodder. It took several years to clear the trees, and get a crops of hay grown in their places; and a year or two was required before cornstalks, or straw could be produced. If nobody in the neighborhood had fodder to sell, the new settler must cut down trees for his cattle to browse, or feed upon the boughs, a work of immense labor, especially in severe cold weather, and deep snows; and a sad time the poor cattle had, compelled to lie out exposed to all storms, and feeding on such diet.

Especial care had to taken to keep fire from going out in their dwelling, it was so difficult to recover it again. An instance is given of such a loss in the house of widow Gilbert, in Gaines, who returning from the funeral of her husband, found the fire was out, and no means at hand to kindle it. Fire had to be procured from the nearest neighbor, then several miles off. The tinder box and powder horn, were the usual resort in such cases, but these might be out as well as the fire. Friction matches had not then been invented. And it was an inconvenience at least, to be deprived of soft water, the bark roof of a log cabin being a poor contrivance for collecting it, when there was no snow to melt. The hard water from the ground was prepared for washing clothes by "cleansing," as they called it, by putting in wood ashes enough to form a weak lye.

The Holland Company commonly sold their land for s mall payment down; and gave a contract, extending payments for the balance, from five to ten years; with interest annually after about two years.

This seemed to be a good bargain to the settler at first; for, although he was poor, he felt hopeful and strong, and went into the woods to begin his clearing, sanguine in the belief that he could meet his payments as they fell due, from the produce of his land; beside spaying the necessary expenses of his living, and his improvements. But, after a year or two, a part must be paid; stock, team, tools, furniture, d provisions must be bought. He may have cleared a few acres, built a log cabin, and raised some crops, more than was needed for home consumption; but the surplus he could not sell. The road to a market was impassable for teams; and, if the road had been opened, it was hard work at best to pay for land by raising a bushel. Is it surprising that under circumstances like these, some of the earlier settlers of this county, after toiling several years, and finding themselves constantly running behind land, got discouraged, and wanted to sellout, and go away. And many would have sold their claims, and left the country, or gone any way, whether they sold or not, if the Land company had enforced their legal rights on their Articles as they fell due. But the Company were lenient.--they gave off interest due them, and sometimes principal, in cases of great hardship to the settler. Many times, when he went to the Land Office to say he could not make his payments, and must give it up; the agents of the Company finding him industrious and frugal, trying to do the best he could, would meet him with such words of kindness, generous encouragement and cheer, that he would go back to his home with fresh courage, to renew his battle with the musketos, the ague, and the bears; and wait a little longer for the good time coming. But few were able to take deeds of their lands, and pay for them, until after the Erie Canal was navigable. They kept on clearing land, and enlarging their fields; and between the years 1830 and 1836, good crops of wheat were raised, and sold at the canal, for about a dollar a bushel.--Then the clouds of gloom began to lift from the face of the country. Prosperity had verily come; no more "hardships, privations and sufferings" after that; and more deeds of land were taken from the Holland Company, in this county, in those years, than were given in all others together.

Notwithstanding so many and so great discouragements, surrounded the pioneers, they never yielded to the gloom of the present, or suffered their great hope in the future to die. They had their joys as well as griefs, running along their pathway together. Social amusements, conviviality, fun and good feeling, were intermingled with their sadder experiences.

They visited together, labored for, and with each other. The exchanged work in chopping, logging, and in heavy toil on their lands where several together could work at better advantage then alone.

They were "given to hospitality." They aided, assisted, and helped one another; with a liberality and kindness, that seems remarkable in contrast with the selfishness of older society.

If a family came in, who had not in advance built themselves a cabin for their residence, they had no difficulty in finding a stopping place with almost any settler, who had got a house, until a log house could be built. And the best of it was, all the men in the neighborhood assembled at a "bee," and built a log house gratis, for their new friends, if it was necessary.

If a man fell sick in seed time, or harvest, and could not do his work, his neighbors would turn in and sow his seed, or gather his crop for him. If a family was out of provisions, everybody, who had a stock, shared with the needy ones.


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