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Title: Early Day Manners and Customs
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When the early settler came into Warren county, the first few days, possibly weeks, the family had to live in the covered wagon. When the cabin was finished all moved in, feeling happy in that they had the good fortune to have a rood over their head. In cases, they moved in long before the good husband and father could provide a floor or even a suitable door and quilts and blankets were then brought into use. Greased paper served for glass in a number of Warren county cabin homes in the twenties and thirties. Finally the chimney and the puncheon floor were made and if in the autumn time the great backlogs were rolled in and the dry wood placed in shape on the andirons. The family were then comfortable and the light of the cheerful fire made the children and parents supremely happy. To draw the string of the latch inside, was a signal that no one was "at home," at least that no one must try to enter. Hence the saying, "the latch string is out." Next came the clearing of a patch of timber land, so that a crop might be raised. Men would cut timber all day, and way into the night when the moon and stars would light up the heavens sufficient. The women and older children would burn the brush and smaller trees. Those were actually happy sunshine days in their long lives, and as the twilight of age came swiftly on, it was joy to hear the fathers and grandfathers relate these experiences to children and grandchildren. They tell of the frosty evenings when all hands would bundle up and walk two or three miles to a neighbor's place and there spend the evening hours and of a late supper served in a style fit for a king or queen to partake of, yet served on the rudest kind of dishes and cooked without a "cook book" to refer to, as nowadays.

Indeed there is an inspiration in the thought of those pioneer days. We see the pioneers building their log cabins hard by some babbling brook or ceaseless flowing spring. We hear the axmen felling the giant trees of the early forests of the county. We see the blazing fire from burning brush and the sky filled with the glare of burning heaps of logs, and the sun is darkened with blinding smoke; we hear the sturdy pioneers shouting to their oxen as they roll the logs or turn the tough sod of the virgin soil. We seem to again hear the sound of the maul's blow as the rails were split; we see men and women planting corn with hoes and weeding pumpkins and potatoes among the roots and stumps. Autumn comes and the ripened corn is husked and the large potatoes dug and planted away in the nearby cave. The evening comes and with it the ding-dong of the cow-bells-for the cows have returned from the outlying prairie land and stand down at the bars, with distended sides, waiting to be milked. The chores are done and night had thrown her curtain upon the peaceful earth, and the long drawn, mournful howl of the hungry wolf, and the weird hootings of the owl are heard down by the swamp. Now the scene is changed. The crops are gathered, the corn is cribbed, the potatoes are buried and the great yellow pumpkins are covered with hay and vines to protect them from the frost, the prairie hay is cut and stacked and great heaps of logs have been hauled into the door-yard for winter use. The boys and girls have bright new suits of home-made linsey, or the old faded ones have been nicely patched by a kind, thoughtful mother's hands. Each child, with a new pair of cowhide boots or shoes, which "must last you a year," is getting ready for the winter school term in the new log school house. The windows are made with insertions of greased paper; the benches are plank or slabs; the floor is mother earth and the fire-place is a large one. There is the sedate, dignified school master with hickory rod in hand. There stand the larger scholars toed up to a mark, with hands folded and the master is pronouncing words from the old Speller. Noon comes-all are hungry and the pails and baskets are well filled with Johnny cake and venison, and a large piece of pumpkin pie, "such as mother used to make." What fires! How they roared and snapped those cold winter nights! There sits father smoking his pipe of clay, while mother is knitting socks for the family, as the girls are making music on the spinning wheel. Some of the boys are "working sums" hard to solve in their arithmetics, while others are cracking hickory nuts and popping corn.

Now it is the fall of the year. The poison of the undrained swamps has made all to shake with fever and ague, or lay for weeks with a burning fever, without well ones enough in the household to wait on the ill ones. There comes the old family doctor trudging along, picking his way through log heaps and stumps, on his trusty horse, on the old Indian trail, his saddle-bags dangling at either side of his horse. Think of the awful doses of sickening medicines he required the sick ones to take. Calomel, jalap, ipecac, Dover's powders, Peruvian bark, snake root, and pills as large as cow peas grown in Canada! The patient must be bled and purged, and after weeks of shaking and burning fever, he pulls through a skeleton, ready to go through the same tussle for life the following season. Such was the fate of many of the first pioneers in Warren county in the long ago days when the country was being developed.


[Page 213-214.]

Date: 1/1/1913
Origin: Past and Present of Fountain and Warren Counties Indiana
Author: Thomas A. Clifton, Editor
Record ID: 00001523
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Collection: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Entered By: Leslie J. Rice

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