A Family to Love, Part 3
Michael and I were blissfully happy with our baby, Michael Junior. We felt that nothing could make our lives better. We spent our evenings talking and playing with him. He thrived and we could almost see him grow.
Michael’s best friend, Adam, finally asked Papa for Cleo’s hand and the wedding plans were made for them. Cleo wanted to wear the dress that had been made for our wedding and it was handed over. Hopes for their marriage to be as happy as ours were passed over as well. They were to be married in one year, in the Spring. This would give Adam time to get a good home built.
Their wedding went off without a problem and they settled down on Adam’s Papa’s farm. He was an only son and would be getting it when they were gone. A house was built for them by the time that they got married. There had been a couple of work parties held to get the things done for it. The first work party had been just the men, in the early spring. All of the men had gone out in the woods to cut trees for the house. The logs were pulled into the farmyard by the work horses and laid to dry on wood blocks. They would be dry for an early Spring house raising.
When the logs had finished drying, there was another work party set up to get the house built. They had a nice tight log cabin built in just two days, with the help of their friends. Adam had been working on the fireplace and chimney. He had gathered a huge pile of rocks from the edges of the fields, where they threw them when they were plowing. We always had plenty of good sized rocks. Then he stacked them with mortar so that they would stay put. Every cabin was no stronger than the fireplace and chimney. Then, he built a foundation with stones and mortar.
The men built the walls, and when they were done the older children chinked the logs. Chinking is always fun and a good excuse to get dirty. They got buckets of clay from the creek banks and mixed it with grass and straw. Then they stuffed this sticky mess in between the logs. Stuffing every crack between the logs will block the drafts and weather from coming in. The clay hardened to keep it in place. The cabin will be warm and draft free. This needed to be redone occasionally but not too often. Every five to ten years, if the cabin was sheltered by the roof properly.
Food was provided for the work party by all the women, at the site. A large breakfast and filling lunch were consumed by the men while they rested. They were scattered all around the yard, sitting on logs. The women were rushing around with pots of coffee and pitchers of icy cold water. Plates and bowls of food were also circulating for refills. We did not want any of these men to be hungry. They went back to work with comments of being too full to move. We all enjoyed barn raisings and house raisings. They were our chance to socialize with each other.
A floor was laid with some large, flat slate that Adam had found in one of the creeks. Mortar was used to fit these together also. Smaller pieces were used in between the larger ones. Their house would be dry and easy to keep clean. Plain dirt floors were hard to keep clean.
The house had a bedroom and two lofts, one at each end. Ladders were used to get into the lofts. These would be used for the children when they arrived. Until then, they would be used for overnight guests and storage. Around the fireplace were shelves and cupboards for the food and dishes. There was room for a table on one side; on the other side and in front of the fireplace, were a couple of settles that Adam made. I made cushions for the settles as a wedding present. Mama made curtains and quilts for their wedding present. Mama kept saying that Adam should be a furniture maker, because his furniture was so decorative. I think she even tried to get him to make some for her.
Eighteen Mile House
Eighteen Mile house was built by Michael’s uncle, Thomas, in 1810. It was a tavern about two miles from Harrison, on the road to Cincinnati. It also had several rooms for people to stay in. It was one of the few places to stay in the area. We would ride out in the buggy about once a month to visit Thomas and his wife, Hilda. They were lovely people and we always enjoyed the trip. The countryside is beautiful and when the weather was fine, we would make a picnic lunch and stop to picnic on the side of the road. When we would get to the tavern, we would have lunch and then tea with them, we would have so much fun. Many famous people stayed there over the years.
Governor Othniel Looker was the Governor of Ohio in 1814. He had lived in Harrison since 1804. He was Speaker of the Ohio State Senate when Return J. Meigs Jr., our Governor, was elevated to Postmaster General. Mr. Looker became Governor Looker in March 1814. He had many important visitors to his home while he was in office. He was not elected to return as Governor and was replaced by Thomas Worthington in December of 1814. He still had many important visitors until Mr. Looker’s lovely wife died. Then he went to live with his dear daughter Rachel in Illinois. He did not care to be alone. Up until he moved, people would come to visit him and stop at Eighteen Mile House to rest a bit and get refreshments. Hilda always told me about the people who stopped. She made such droll comments about them that I had a terrible time to keep from making a fool of myself laughing.
Hilda and I would trade recipes and discuss the latest fashions, books, and she would tell me about the plays and theatre that they had gone to Cincinnati to see. They were always going to see the latest plays. Cincinnati had so much traffic going up and down the river and it was a bustling city. Traveling shows would stop and rent one of the Theaters so that they could put shows on. People would sing and they put plays on. Some would lecture on the latest styles, and oddments that were invented.
Michael and Thomas always discussed the Railroad and how far it had gotten on its way across the country. They thought it would make it to Ohio in another ten or fifteen years. It was making its way up and down the Eastern Seaboard now. They also discussed the canal projects that were bringing such prosperity to our area. There was one on its way to Harrison from Cincinnati. It would meet up with the canal through Indiana at Harrison and we should be quite a shipping hub. It was definitely an exciting time.
In April 1842, I discovered that I was going to have another baby.
I was not sick with this baby. In fact, I never felt better in my life. This was an extremely easy pregnancy and it passed quickly. I was busy making baby clothes and working in the store. We had the new tin ceilings installed in the store. They looked so nice and I could see that they would be very popular. We noticed that it was warmer in the store almost immediately. The tin ceiling panels would heat up and take a bit to cool off. It was nice when the temperature was really cold and the snow was deep. They are so decorative also. I think we will get some for upstairs too.
Our second child arrived on December 22, 1842. We named her Jennifer Anne. She had beautiful red hair and green eyes. Papa David (Michael's Papa), says that she got her coloring from his grandmother. She was Austrian and a real beauty.The history of this family is wondrous. I feel that I will never know it all.
Mama, Cleo and Rosemary all came in to sit with me and Hilda came from Eighteen Mile House also. The joking in that room was so much fun. The men must have thought we were daft with the peals of laughter during my confinement. Hilda has such a wonderful sense of humor and can tell a story so well. Some of the silly things that people do when they stop at a tavern is just amazing.