Weston Wagons West - Episode F5 - Ferrell Worked Around the Community and Beyond
Blennerhassett Island Played a Role in Marietta History
Ferrell Experienced Aaron Burr in Marietta
One distinctive product made for his friend Joseph Barker was an ornamental iron piece for a particular client of Barker that was indeed unique. That client was Harman Blennerhassett who had built a elaborate mansion on a private island, Blennerhassett Island, in the Ohio River just south of Marietta. Ferrell never was able to visit the mansion or the island, but they were both the subject of many conversations over the years in the region. This eccentric gentleman became infamous in 1805-1806 when he became involved with Aaron Burr, the former Vice-President of the United States.
National news was regularly discussed among the folks of Marietta, of course. Everyone knew of Burr killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel in July of 1804. In May of 1805, Colonel Aaron Burr appeared on the Ohio River in a “floating house.” It was a luxurious flatboat, built to his specifications in Pittsburgh, sixty feet in length, fourteen feet wide, flat-bottomed, squared-off, roofed from stem to stern. It included a dining room, kitchen with fireplace, two bedrooms, and windows of glass. It had a slender stairway that led to the rooftop which served as a promenade for enjoying the passing river scenery or evening air. Hardly anything else like it had been seen on the river.
On landing in Marietta, Burr visited the Marietta shipyards and the ancient Mound (a local historical site). But, it seemed that Burr’s primary site of interest was Blennerhassett Island and its eccentric owner. Little was ever known of the actual visit there, except that Blennerhassett became embroiled in the Burr Conspiracy - which eventually cost Blennerhassett his Island, his way-of-life, and his reputation.
Ferrell and William brought back ten horses from Virginia
Ferrell Finally Was Able to Retrieve His Horses from Virginia
By the summer of 1805, Ferrell had been able to complete his plans for laying out his crop land and pastures the way he had long hoped he could. With this accomplished, he was ready to return to Virginia and bring back the rest of his horse herd that he had left in the care of his grandfather and his uncles. He had maintained regular correspondence by mail with them since his departure, and looked forward to a return visit to his ‘family’ as well as to retrieving his horses. He would, of course, turn over ownership of some of the horses he would leave, in exchange for the keeping and maintenance of the herd for these several years.
His neighbor, William Dolan, offered to go with Ferrell to get the horses. Ferrell readily accepted the offer which he knew would make the trip much more pleasant. The hope was to return with nine or ten horses. That final decision would be made once Ferrell laid eyes on his remaining horses himself. He also realized that having one more set of eyes to do that would by useful. He respected Dolan’s eye for horses, and his long experience could not help but be useful. They went on horseback, taking the ferry across the river and then across the several miles of Virginia country and mountains to the Weston home farm. Ferrell noted that most of the roads had improved some, but not a lot, in certain areas. It had not been that many years since he had crossed them going west, of course. Ferrell was glad they were not in a wagon this time.
Rueben and his sons and their families were happy to see Ferrell, of course. As expected, the horse herd was in fine shape. They had separated out Ferrell’s horses so that William and Ferrell could look them over and decide which to take and which to leave. The uncles had their say, too, of course, as they worked through the process. Mostly, they ended up leaving the older and younger ones of the herd. They ended up deciding on ten horses that could be managed for the trip back to the Marietta area. Everyone seemed happy with the decision, and the trip back was generally uneventful. Upon arrival back in Marietta, Ferrell insisted that William choose one of the horses for his own as repayment for his valuable assistance. William at first refused, but Ferrell convinced him it was only fair. Ferrell had noticed that William had favored one particular mare, all along, and was pleased when William chose that one. Ferrell was pleased to now have a full pasture of horses.
Their second child was a girl; they named her Rosetta
Ferrell Learned His Family Would Be Expanding As Well as his Horse Herd
Later that fall, Julia let Ferrell know that she was pregnant again. They were pleased and hopeful, looking forward to growing their family. Baby girl, Rosetta, was born on February 15, 1806. Her brother, Joe, was a burly two-year-old by this time, of course, and loved his new little sister as much as his parents did. They were a happy family.
A few months after Rosetta was born, Catherine Dolan let Julia know that she was pregnant again. They enjoyed sharing their good news. In October, Catherine gave birth to a second son. They named him James A. Dolan. William and Catherine were now a happy family of six.
Meanwhile, Ferrell had been able to carry out his plan to sell four of the horses from his pasture to build a little nest egg for the future. Otherwise, business had continued to be good for Ferrell. He had a steady number of farrier customers who depended on him to keep their horses healthy. His blacksmith work for Joseph Barker and others was steady but not overwhelming. Three of his mares would add to his horse herd the following spring. As pleasing as each these things in his life was, Ferrell was also a realist and was certain his good fortune would not last forever, as much as he hoped it would. Planning for the unexpected is always difficult, easy to put off, but Ferrell had the good sense to overcome that temptation. One decision he had made was not to add more land. His current farm met all of his needs. He continued to cut some timber and clear a bit more each year, but no more than just to meet their needs.
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, Dolan, Barker, Cutler, and Putnam, for example, are used here fictitiously. The Dolan family in Marietta were actual direct ancestors of the author’s wife. Two of the Dolan sons, John and James, were her third great-grandfathers. She and I have visited the area doing family history research. Activities and events are consistent with known historical facts, but are entirely fictitious. Cousins of these Weston 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 had not been published prior to this hub series).