Elnathan Corrington Gavitt.

Crumbs from my saddle bags : or, reminiscences of pioneer life and biographical sketches online

. (page 9 of 17)
Online LibraryElnathan Corrington GavittCrumbs from my saddle bags : or, reminiscences of pioneer life and biographical sketches → online text (page 9 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


He said this was the first time he had visited
the mission, " I learn, since I arrived, that Mr.
Thompson, the missionary, is not at home. The
young man that is here with him has gone over to the
other house."

" I presume, Bishop, I am the person to whom you

" Are you the young man I saw at the gate with
the ox team ?"

" I am the person you conversed with there."

"Are you one of the missionaries at this place?"

" That is what the Indians called me : the petit
missionary — the small man, but not the small

" Well, I am surprised ; you do not appear like the
same person."

u I presume not, Bishop ; dress has much to do with
personal appearance, and I hope you are now satis-
fied I am not an Indian, or a Wyandotte." The
Bishop smiled.

" If this is missionary life I propose to remain with
you awhile, until I become better acquainted with
your work. I did not suppose the missionaries had
to do manual labor as well as superintend the mis-
sion. They should not be required to do this."

" The missionary appropriation at this station is
very small, and the expenses are great, and if all did
not work, the mission could not be sustained."


" I admire your devotion and interest in the work,
and hope it will not be long before you will be better
provided for."

The Bishop remained with us two weeks, preach-
ing and visiting the membership, and made many
warm personal friends ; and left for the seat of his
Conference in the southern part of the State, with a
much better opinion of the young missionary than
when he first met him at the gate with John G-rayeye's
Indian costume. And I must say, Rev. John Emory,
D.D., with his sweet disposition, companionable spirit,
and superior ministerial ability, was a favorite Bishop
with me. He came all the way from Baltimore,
Maryland, on horseback, and had a perfect under-
standing of what was meant by the early itineracy.
Such was the Episcopacy in 1831. Though dead be
yet speaketh, and peace be to his honored memory.

I muse on his kindness shown,
And wish I'd love him more.


The first convert at Upper Sandusky, under the
efficient labors of Mr. Stewart, was Sum-mun de-
wat, who afterwards became an eminent native local
preacher, and a very useful ordained minister in his
nation. He was a consistent Christian, and was
highly respected by the white inhabitants, as well as
by the Indians. A_yery interesting circumstance as


to his kindness and Christian character is perhaps
worthy of a place in this sketch. This excellent
brother, returning home to his camp from one of his
hunting expeditions, met the young itinerant minis-
ter, who inquired if he could talk any English, and
asked direction for his way. I give the rest of the
story in Sum-mun-de-wat's own broken English: il He
then asked me how far it was to a house. I said, 'I
don't know ; may be ten miles, may be eight miles.' "
"Is there a path leading to that house ?" " No ; by
and by that path go out, then all woods." I said,
" You go home with me, sleep me, get some to eat,
and I go show you to-morrow." Then he come to
my camp, so I take his horse, give him some corn
and brush, then my wife gave him some supper.
He ask me, "Where I come?" I say, "Sandusky."
He say, " You know Thompson?" I say, " Yes, much ;
he is my brother." Then he say, " He is my brother,
too." Then I feel something in my breast. I say,
" You preacher?" He say, " Yes." Then I shake
hands and say, " You my brother." Then me try to
talk with him much. I say, " You sing and pray
with us." Then he say, "You sing and pray for me
so much more." Then I cry and no pray much very
good, and I now go no much to sleep, my heart so
full of love for some preacher stop with me and
sleep in my tent, it be so good for me. Next morn-
ing soon came, and he want to go his journey. Then


I go with him, show him through the woods till we
come to the big road. Then he take me by the hand
and say, " Farewell, brother, by and by we meet up
in Heaven." Then me cry much and say, " You pray
for me and my wife, it be so good." So I now go
hunting all day ; I see no deer. Then I go and pray
by some log, my heart so full of joy I cannot hunt
much. Some times 1 sing, then jump up and spat
my hands, and look up to my Heavenly Father.
Then the love come so in my heart I can no hardly
stand still. So I went home and said to my wife :
" This be my happiest day of all my life. The Lord
so good sent me preacher to sleep in my tent and
pray for me. We must be so good and meet him in
Heaven. The Lord is good to us poor Indians. We
no more fight and kill white man, and white man no
more hurt and kill poor Indian. It be so good for

Such was the testimon} 7 and religious experience
of this good man, who was afterwards murdered in
Hancock county, Ohio, in 1845, in the forty-sixth
year of his age. He and his wife were on a hunting
expedition, and were camped in the woods some
distance from any white settlement. Late in the
evening three white men appeared at his tent, and
asked the privilege of remaining with him over
night, and with his usual hospitality they were
kindly received and provided for. Having attended


to their devotions, their family prayers, they all
retired for the night, confiding in their usual safety.
About midnight, while this kind family were sound
asleep, these three inhuman wretches arose and
murdered this Christian family, knocking them in
the head with their axes. They then robbed their
tent of what money they had and a large amount
of furs, and threw the dead bodies into a hole made
by a tree turning up, covered them up with leaves
and brush, and departed. Their remains would not
have been found perhaps for some length of time
had it not been for their little dog still remaining
by the side of their dead bodies.

Soon after, these inhuman beings were arrested
and committed to jail, but were afterwards permitted
to escape and were never brought to justice. Had
three Indians under like circumstances murdered a
white family, and especially a minister of the gospel,
the whole country would have been aroused and the
last Indian would have been compelled to suffer th e
penalty of his crime. But this was nothing more
than an Indian family.

But Divine justice in due time will be executed.
" Yengence is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay."
This excellent brother and his wife were reinterred,
and now sleep in the Indian graveyard at Upper
Sandusky. In the same graveyard many others of
precious memory are buried, and we may say the


principal part of the older members of the mission.
Of this number was especially Rev. Harry-hoot, the
most eloquent native minister there was at the
mission. Such was my attachment for this brother,
I supplied him for several years with all of his
wearing apparel until the da}^ of his death, and soon
after had a monument erected to his memory.

The Wyandottes ceded their reservation at Upper
Sandusky to the United States in 1842, and left for
their new home in the far West in July, 1843.
When I first became acquainted with them they
numbered about five thousand ; but when they left
Ohio there were but seven hundred ; and they are
now reduced to a mere handful. The last account
I received from Hon. William Walker, their agent,
he stated there were then some less than one hun-

The Wyandottes were the bravest Indians that
ever inhabited Ohio, and many among them were of
a high moral character. May a kind God pity these
sons of the forest, and at last give them a happy
home and their long sought for hunting ground,
where the "wicked will cease to trouble and the
weary are forever at rest."



1 was assigned to this charge in company with
Rev. Thomas Thompson. The policy of the Church
at that day was to hunt up all the white settlements
and carry the Gospel to all classes of human beings
who were destitute of the means of grace. Immigra-
tion into Northwestern Ohio had commenced, and
the Maumee Valley was fast filling up, and hence
our missionary work was not confined exclusively
to the Indian mission, but extended over a large
territory, including about one-half of what is now
in the Central Ohio Conference ; and also extended
into Canada and the Michigan territory. These two
Indian stations had to be visited every four weeks
during the Conference year. The missionary spent
about two weeks at the Wyandotte mission in Upper
Canada, and about the same length of time at the
Upper Sandusky mission, as it was first called in
Church history, upon the Huron river, near what is
now called Flat Rock, in Michigan. This required
the travel on horseback of about five hundred
miles, all of which had to be accomplished in from
four to six weeks, so as to reach the mission at


Upper Sandusky in Ohio by Saturday night. Here
one of the missionaries had to be on hand all the
time, to attend to the mission and farm, as there
were from sixty to eighty Indian children at school,
all of whom had to be provided for, clothed and fed,
and the religious services kept up at the Church
on Sabbath.

The country being new, and but partially inhabit-
ed, we were subjected to many inconveniences and
hardships, traveled without any well defined roads,
often through the wilderness, marking the route
from one settlement to another by splitting the tops
of small trees and turning the top to the right hand
as a sufficient guide on the returning route. Yet even
then, with all of this precaution, we would some-
times miss the trail and were compelled to remain
in the forest over night. This we would spend in a
tree top to avoid the wolves, which at that day were
very numerous ; or sometimes build a large fire
and camp out, as we always carried with us a flint
steel and tinder box.


During the spring and fall such rivers as the San-
dusky, Tyemochte, Blanchard, Portage, Auglaize,
and Maumee were often too full to ford. I would
then take off all my clothes and tie them up, with
my saddle bags, on the pummel of my saddle to keep


them dry. My horse was used to swimming, and
would seldom sink below his fore shoulders. Turn-
ing him into the stream, I would take hold of his
tail, and when I could no longer touch bottom with
my feet I would float upon the surface until we
reached the opposite shore. When I found myself
safe, or at least could touch bottom, if the bank was
steep, I would hunt a suitable place for my horse to
land. Then putting on my clothes, I would start on
my journey. Sometimes this would have to be re-
peated two or three times a day before reaching the
place for the night appointment. There was no ex-
cuse or apology for a disappointment, as there were
but few to attend, and perhaps some of these would
come quite a distance, and if once disappointed they
would be missing the next time. The highest com-
mendation of a young minister at that day was for
his Presiding Elder to say in Conference, " He is al-
ways punctual, and never disappoints his congrega-
tion." And I must say, withal we were amply re-
paid for our perseverance by the kind reception and
hospitality which we received. And yet, where is
the young man at this day who would be disposed
to make the sacrifice and endure all the hardships of
a new country ? Perhaps in the very coldest weather
in the winter one would be compelled to ascend
a ladder to the upper story of a log house, to
sleep upon a straw bed, with no other covering


to protect him from a snow storm raging without
than his overcoat, Indian blanket, and a few other
tattered garments, and in the morning find himself
in a snow drift which during the night had forced
its way through the clap-board roof or broken win-
dows and accumulated on his bed. All this was
cheerfully borne on a salary of one hundred dollars,
which covered everything, clothes, books and trav-
eling expenses. And sometimes the most of the
salary was paid in good will, or such things as could
be obtained from the forest — red-root, blood-root,
crow-foot, crane's bill, star-root, yellow-root, prickly
ash buds, and dried slippery elm bark, all of which
were the next thing to money, and could be disposed
of at any large drug store, as they were in general
use by all steam doctors, or Thompsonian physicians.


On the Scioto river, near where the Pisgah Church
now stands, was a log tavern kept by a friend, not a
member of the Church. This was one of our
preaching places where we remained over night
with the landlord ; and in the morning when we
called for our bill he said he would prefer settling
with us at the close of the year. This being the
best we could do, we had to trust to his liberality in
the final settlement, though with our limited means
we could have wished it otherwise. However, as he


was a friend to the cause of Christianity, we hoped
for the best. At the close of the year we called for
a final settlement. He said, as there was some credits
in our favor, he would have to look over our account.
This was a mistake, as we had not paid him anything
during the year, but he insisted that he had kept a
correct account, and knew more about it than we
did. His account against us was quite reason-
able, and somewhat better than we had expected;
and now the next thing was to see for what we
could have credit. Turning over the next page,
he showed that he had credited us with every sermon
preached, with every instance of worship, and with
every blessing asked at the table. For a long sermon
the credit was twenty-five cents ; for a short sermon,
fifty cents ; long family service, twelve and one-half
cents; short prayer and chapter, twenty-five cents,
and the same in proportion for grace at the table.
Being young and often embarrassed, all my services
had received his approbation, and he now fell in my
debt. My colleague being older and more prolific,
fell in his debt. However, considering the benefit
the community had received, as well as his family,
and allowing something for good company, he would
balance the account and call it all settled, provided
we would call on him another year, if we were re-
turned to the same charge ; he then presented each
of us with five dollars.


Mr. Wheeler remained in this neighborhood until
he had accumulated a handsome property, and at
last settled in Kenton, Hardin county, Ohio, where
he lived and died loved and respected by all who
knew him. Peace be to his honored memory.


Fort McArthur was built during the war of 1812,
on the line of Hull's march, and was located in a
dense forest not far from the Scioto river, and near
the present city of Kenton, Hardin county. This
was rather a weak stockade, enclosing about half an
acre, with two block houses, one in the northeast and
the other in the southwest corner. Seventy or eighty
feet of this enclosure was composed of a row of log
corn cribs, covered with a shed roof sloping inside.
A part of the pickets were of split timber and lapped
at the edges ; others were round logs set up endwise
and touching each other. The row of huts for the
garrison were a few feet from the walls. It was a
post of much danger, and liable at any moment to
be attacked. There was but little communication
with other settlements, and no person could go from
one neighborhood to another without danger, as the
woods were infested with hostile Indians. The first
commander of this post was Colonel John Hardin,
after whom the county was named in 1 820.

I will here make mention of an excellent Metho-


dist family named McCloud, who were residing at
the fort in 1831. This brother and his family
had emigrated from the southern part of the
State and settled on a tract of land which included
this fortress, obtained at government price, and paid
for with the money they received for wolf scalps.
So numerous and destructive were these animals at
that early day that a reward of from $1 to $8 was
paid for the scalp of a wolf. And in no section of
the country in Ohio were they more numerous than
in and around the Hog Creek marsh and the low-
lands of Northwestern Ohio. The art of destroying
these wild animals with strychnine had not been
brought into use, and they had to be captured either
by hunting or trapping.

We had commenced preaching at Mr. McCloud's
in the early part of the conference year, and I had
formed a class of some six members. There were but
three families in the neighborhood, and the member-
ship consisted of the McClouds and a family by the
name of Bates. This was our third appointment on
the white part of the mission, and to reach it required
about twenty miles ride through the wilderness.

Starting out from Upper Sandusky on a dark and
rainy day, 1 failed in taking the right trail. Reach-
ing the Scioto river, I followed up the stream. The
sun [had gone down, night was fast approaching,
and knowing the woods to be full of wild animals, I


now made for the bill or high land on the east side
of the river, and prepared for the night. Having se-
lected a suitable location, I fastened ray horse to the
limb of a small beech tree and climbed into the top,
taking my horse blanket with me to cover my head,
as it was still raining. I made myself fast among
the branches, weaving the limbs around me, that I
might not fall if I should go to sleep, being wet, cold
and hungry. However, I soon found there were no
fears of my going to sleep. My horse became uneasy,
and my attention was occupied to keep him quiet, or
I might be minus of any conveyance in the morning.
About midnight we were surrounded by a gang of
wolves apparently without number, howling at a
fearful rate. ^Notwithstanding all my efforts to calm
my horse's excitement, he was constantly pawing,
not in the least admiring his new acquaintances or
their near approach ; and when silence with him was
no longer a virtue he would give a fearful snort,
which would produce a general stampede among
them. Yet, not disposed to surrender their rights
or abandon their hope of supplying their wants, they
would soon return in full force, and still nearer, until
they were again routed by Charley's musical notes,
adapted to high pressure; and thus did they continue
to advance and retreat until morning light.

Having landed from my roost, my faithful ani-
mal appeared to appreciate the change and enjoy

fort m'arthur. 157

the pleasure of leaving the field, and surrendering
his rights to all such midnight serenading. Starting
once more on my river route, I had not gone far
before I heard the report of a gun and the blowing
of a horn. My friends readily inferred that as I had
not reached my appointment at night, I must be in
the woods, and this was their signal to bring me out.
And now I soon arrived at the fort and found com-
fortable quarters for myself and horse.

The hill on which I had remained over night was
about a mile or so from the fort, and is now occupied
by the city of Kenton, Hardin county, Ohio. It has
been reported that Mrs. McCloud, being the first
emigrant then living and having resided the longest
in the county, had the honor conferred upon her of
naming this town, aud she called it Kenton after
Simon Kenton, the noted spy and Indian warrior,
who contributed so largely to the defense of the
American cause, and, like myself, had often enjoyed
the kindness and hospitality of Mr. McCloud and his
excellent lady. Like many others of pioneer fame,
Brother McCloud and his family have principally
passed away, the wife of Dr. Lord being among the
last. And here I may say that Dr. Lord was one of
the early settlers in this county, where he accumu-
lated a handsome property by his profession ; and
now makes his home with his eldest daughter, the
wife of Mr. L. Moore, my nephew, who are living


on a farm near Belief on taine, Logan county, Ohio.
I had the pleasure of spending a short time with the
doctor a few years ago, and of talking over the early
scenes of the northwest. Physicians, like ministers,
at that day were not so numerous as at present ; and
a wonderful change has taken place during the
last half century. In those olden days, when the doc-
tor and the writer met in the woods, I on my way to
some appointment and the doctor on his route to visit
some patient, he remarked that his circuit was nearly
as large as mine, extending over a part of three or
four counties, and sometimes required him to travel
from ten to twenty miles to reach his patient. The
wilderness through which we then had to pass is
now converted into fruitful fields, and growing vil-
lages, and commercial cities ; and when we speak of
the past with the hardships and inconveniences of
that early day, it is hard for young America to fully
comprehend these things, and they imagine that
such statements must be somewhat exaggerated or
imaginary. Our only reply is that God, through
human instrumentality, moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform.


Starting on Monday morning from Upper Sandus-
ky, with seven Indians as my traveling companions,.


three of whom were local ministers, I found on
reaching the Maumee river, that it was more diffi-
cult and dangerous to cross than I had expected.
However, we concluded to ford the river at the
Rapids. We had not proceeded far before all had
turned back excepting Harry-hoot and myself.
With care we were in hopes of making the opposite
shore in safety, and all went well until we had
reached about the middle of the stream, when
Harry-hoot's Indian pony, being frightened at some
white foam passing by, suddenly reared up and threw
him off into the swift current. Although, like most
Indians, he was a good swimmer, but he soon be-
came entangled in his long-fringed Indian frock coat
and commenced sinking. I called to some men who
were fishing with a canoe, to save him and I would
compensate them. They were soon by his side and
caught him by his flowing coat, as he was about to
sink for the last time. Having turned back I was
now waiting for the final result, when they brought
him to shore. There was at first but little hopes of
his being restored ; I requested the Indians to set him
upon a log and by blowing gently in his mouth, he
soon gave evidence of life. We then prepared a litter
out of one of the blankets and conveyed him down to
Hubbell's landing, and all crossed over in a canoe,
leaving our horses to be conveyed over the next day.
We were all kindly provided for by Mr. Hubbell, the


landlord. Brother Harry-hoot suffered some during
the night, but by the aid of stimulants and a thorough
sweating with pennyroyal tea, the second day he was
enabled to accompany us on our journey. We re-
mained at the Indian mission one week, preaching
and visiting the membership. The Sabbath before we
left we held a sacramental service, which was both
interesting and profitable.

On Monday morning we started for the mission in
Canada, crossing the Detroit river from Brownstown
to Maiden in a lumber boat. On Sabbath our excel-
lent brother Harry-hoot related the circumstance of
his being spared and having the privilege of preach-
ing to them once more, producing a wonderful
effect. The indications being favorable, we contin-
ued the meeting two weeks, which resulted in the
conversion of several prominent Indians and some
twenty -three accessions to the Church. Among this
number was a white family living on the Indian
Reservation, by the name of Spring, who afterwards
moved and settled at Delta, Fulton county, Ohio,
and were well known by the inhabitants of that place.
Mr. Spring died a few years since, and was buried in
the old cemetery at Delta. His funeral sermon was
preached by myself.


Having provided for our journey, and taken seven


Indians with me as ray traveling companions, we
started about the middle of July, in 1832. In view

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryElnathan Corrington GavittCrumbs from my saddle bags : or, reminiscences of pioneer life and biographical sketches → online text (page 9 of 17)