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Weston Wagons West - Episode F3 - Ferrell Learned More About His Community

Updated on May 28, 2019
DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

Ferrel and Joseph Barker Discussed Ornamental Iron Products

An example of ornamental iron
An example of ornamental iron

Ferrell Met Both Joseph Barker and Ephraim Cutler

During 1801, the first year that Ferrell and Julia were in the Marietta, Ohio, area, Ferrell found many opportunities to work at his blacksmithing trade. There was work available in a variety of places providing many chances to see the many parts of this growing community. Ferrell was careful that first year to take on only short term work so that he could meet many people and experience many relationships that would be useful in the future. He was especially fascinated to find that there was an active boat and ship building industry in the area already that was growing rapidly. He came across the name Joseph Barker regularly as an architect and ship builder.

In a few months he had the opportunity to meet Joseph Barker. He was very pleased that Mr. Barker was interested in seeing the particular hinges and brackets that one of Ferrell’s uncles had taught him to make. He was also mildly surprised that Mr. Barker was also interested in some of the ornamental and decorative iron pieces that his other uncle had taught him to make that some people thought were useless and superfluous. Mr. Barker said he was also the architect and designer for many new homes in the area that might very well be interested in those kinds of pieces. In a few more months, Ferrell found himself being asked to make a number of these pieces for Mr. Barker and his various projects, both at the ship yard and for his home design clients. This was when Ferrell realized it was time buy to his own place and set up his own shop so that he could more efficiently meet this order demand.

Ferrell had heard that Ephraim Cutler, a son of one of the founders of Marietta and a principle in the Ohio Company, was the man to see to acquire prime land. Ferrell liked several things about this one particular farm, on the south side of the river, including the price. It was within a mile of the well-established ferry boat. It was only a few miles from Mr. Barker’s home and shipyard upriver. It was just a few miles downriver to Marietta itself. It was also on the edge of a growing community that went by the name of Ames where Cutler himself lived. There was not yet either a farrier or a blacksmith located in that community. Ferrell was also pleased that this land had already been worked a bit, but not overworked, and had a lot of potential. It even had a rough cabin that could be lived in immediately. He and Julia decided it was too good to pass up, so Ferrell closed the deal.

Ferrell joint his local militia in Ohio

An Ohio Volunteer Militia Belt Buckle
An Ohio Volunteer Militia Belt Buckle

Ferrell Joined The Volunteer Militia In The Community

They did not actually take formal possession of the farm until March 1, officially. But, since it was currently unoccupied, Ferrell obtained permission to do some work at the farm over the winter. He framed up a shop and moved in his own tools so that he could begin to do some of his custom work there rather than in other rented or loaned facilities. Ferrell knew that he and Julia could and would live in the cabin at first. However, he quickly decided that getting a new and better house would be high priority as they expected to start their family fairly soon. This was something that could not be put off long. He was also able to spend some time getting around the community to let the local folks know he would be there and the kinds of services he would have available.

One way that Ferrell got to know his neighbors was by joining the local volunteer militia. While there seemed to be no current danger of Indian attacks locally, being prepared was still a practice being carried out in the Washington County area that included both Marietta and the Ames community. The militia was under the direction of General Rufus Putnam and all the volunteers met each week to drill and learn to work closely together. For most of the men, this weekly time with their militia groups was also a social time during breaks in their drills. Perhaps the officers had other social outlets, but for most of the men in the ranks, the weekly drills were their only chance to meet with their counterparts across the community to exchange ideas and learn about the activities in other parts of the community.

The militia meetings also gave all the men in the community an opportunity to know each other so that after a few months of meetings, they each knew most of the others pretty well. This was especially true be men like Ferrell who wanted to be know by others. By the time they actually took possession of the farm on March 1, 1802, there were practically customers waiting in line for his services.

The Library Chose a Selection of Books

Books on a shelf
Books on a shelf

Ferrell Learned Education Was A High Priority In Ohio

Ephraim Cutler, at age thirty-four, was elected as a delegate from Washington County to Ohio’s territorial legislature. Rufus Putnam was the other delegate from Washington County. The town of Chillicothe, about 100 miles away, was by order of Congress the capital of the Northwest Territory. Rufus and Ephraim were appointed a committee to plot a route through the woods to Chillicothe from Marietta. It took them about two weeks. During 1802 much of the work of the legislature was to create a constitution for the new state of Ohio.

At the legislature, Cutler and Putnam had two priorities that reflected the general thinking in the community as well as their own deeply held beliefs. There should be no slavery allowed in the Northwest Territory and education should be a very high priority, from basic education at the local level to the early founding of universities. Each was strongly committed to these two principles.

Locally, the community of Ames now had a population of 161 persons. Ephraim, along with others, believed one way to show support for local education was to establish a public library. A library society of some twenty-five members was organized, each of whom was assessed $2.50. The first name on the list was that of Ephraim Cutler, and the library was to be located in his house. To cover the cost of the books, it was decided to collect raccoon skins and proceeds from the sale of these back in Boston made possible the purchase of some fifty “choice books” selected appropriately by Manasseh Cutler. This library became known as the “Coonskin Library.” It became know far and wide. Ferrell was able to become a member, and used the library regularly.

Note by the author

The Fx and Hx series of historical fiction family saga stories consist primarily of characters that are fictional. Any real persons, Barker, Cutler, and Putnam, for example, are used here fictitiously. Activities and events are consistent with known historical facts, but are entirely fictitious. Cousins of these characters, the Jacob and Levi Weston characters were first created as a part of “The Homeplace Saga” stories. The first 20+ episodes of this Lx series filled in the early years of the lives of Levi, Jacob and their family, also descendants of Thomas and Fred Weston. The author first created the characters Joe, Jake and Hank Weston in 1998 (they have not been published prior to this hub series).

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Video Book Trailer

Video Book Trailer

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    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      10 months ago from Hollister, MO

      I actually think the settlers of Marietta knew more than most of the settlers of the time. But, as you suggest, probably not on the top of their minds. Thanks for visit and comment. Happy Memorial Day, to you, as well!!! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I wonder if they knew, back then, what an important part in history they were playing? Probably not, but they were.

      Happy Memorial Day!

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