History of Grant County

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The following is the story told by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Druckemiller, born February 20, 1849, and October 22, 1852, respectively:

In pioneer days the church services were nearly always held in school houses. In conducting Sunday school some one would read a chapter from the Bible and explain it. The preacher or “circuit rider” only preached about every two weeks. He would travel from one place to another on horseback. On the Sunday when he wasn’t there, there would be prayer meeting after Sunday school. In the church the men, women, boys and girls sat in separate groups. Services were held only in the summer because the roads were so bad in winter.

The early school houses were built of logs. The windows were holes cut in the 1ogs, and greased paper served as the window pane. There was a large box in the rear of the school room which had a slanting lid on it and served as a writing desk. The larger pupils were permitted to use this during the day when they had writing to do. Before they left of an evening all the pupils would put their books in this box to keep the rats and mice from them.

The pupils sat on backless benches made of split logs, and there were no desks at all. They used to get very tired sitting on these benches all day long.

The teacher was almost always a farmer also, teaching alone would not make a living. School only lasted three months and the wages were very small. The teacher would carry his broom from home to sweep the school house. His wife would use it before he started to school and then do without it until the returned at night. The teacher had the larger boys to cut wood at the noon hour.

The pioneer homes were built of logs, and were heated by a fireplace over which all the cooking was done.

Parents were somewhat strict. When they told children to do anything it was done, without a second telling.

The roads were mostly corduroy. Men would cover the logs with dirt so they would not be so rough riding over them, but they were very rough even with the covering.

The Roseburg pike, just south of Roseburg, near Pipe Creek, would often flow over. The water would wash the logs loose and it would be dangerous to drive over it. People would travel at the side of the road in order to avoid traveling on the logs. The water and mud would come up to the horse’s side. The only way one had of traveling was by going in a big wagon, on horseback, or walking. In walking to church or school one often went across the’ fields so it would not be so far.

The clothing worn by people was very plain. It was mostly homespun. The trousers were all home-spun and made of different kinds of materials, either linen, cotton or wool, according to the weather at the time of wearing. The best suits that were homespun were “four-leaf” jeans. One could make “two or three” leaf jeans if he wanted to. The suits were mostly two or three leaf jeans. The dresses were mostly home-spun and made very plain with plain waists and gathered shirts. They were opened down the back. A linen dress was considered very fine, for it lasted a long time and new dresses were hard to get.

There were not many amusements. There was hunting and apple-butter making and in the fall folks would collect and play games and have a good time. They would take turns in stirring the apple butter. When they hunted the game consisted of deer, bears, ‘oppossums, foxes, coons, porcupines, rabbits and squirrels.

They did not embalm when a person died. The friends or neighbors would take a stick and measure the dead person, then take the measurement to a man that made caskets. At the grave the casket was lowered into the grave with the lines from the horses harness. They would pile the dirt on the grave about a foot and a half high and make it into the form of a body.

People raised corn, oats, wheat, a little rye and much buckwheat. The wheat and oats were cut at first with a sickle in swaths, and then some one would follow and bind it into sheaves. Later the cradle was used and as years passed on better harvesters came into use. Tie wheat, oats and corn were stored in the barn, then in the winters the neighbors would gather and shuck the corn and thresh the oats and wheat. (One way of threshing was to pile it on the barn floor and load a horse over it until the grain was scattered out. Another way was flailng, which was done by piling the grain and beating it out with a flail. The flail was a stick about five or six feet long, having holes bored in one end, and another stick about half as long strapped or tied to this one. A person using the flail had to be careful that the end did not come back and hit him. After the grain was beat out it was picked up, chaff and all, as you could not separate it, and then went to a wind mill where it was cleaned. Later threshing machines came into use; not those run by steam engines, as they are now, but by horses going ‘round and ‘round. These were followed by better machines.

There were no railroads in Marion in those days so all the grain had to he hauled to Wabash. It took two days to make the trip--one day to go, and one day to return.

When I (Mrs. Drukemiller) was about five or six years old. an old Indian lived about a quarter of a mile back of us. We all called him 'Injun Jim.’ He used to come over to our house often and he has held me run his lap many times. Once I got sick and he told my parents what to do. His medicine was found in the woods. I kept getting worse and he got alarmed and said that he expected my parents should call a doctor.

“Injun Jim’ was very fond of hunting. He had a pet deer that he caught when it was little. It ran in the field with the cows and when they would come to the barn in the evening for milking the deer came with them. He killed many deer in the woods but he was very careful that no one killed his pet.

“I remember of the Indian squaws coming to our house once in a while hut they never stayed very long. The pappoose was tied to a board which stood outside the door while the squaws were inside the house. “A neighbor of ours used to come to our house once in a while in the evening. He was an old man and. always delighted in telling stories. I don’t remember any of the stories but they were always about ghosts, goblins and witches. We children always hated to see him come because we were always afraid to go to bed after he left. When we went to bed we imagined we saw all kinds of things.

—Compiled by Geneva Druckemiller, 1920.