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History of Darke County, Ohio, from its earliest settlement to the present time .. (Volume 1) online

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wear them. Mohair garters are always in style — so that those
who can't get coppertoe shoes should wear garters with rub-
ber stretchers on each side. The "boys" should come bare-
footed, if possible, but in case thev ha\-e bunions they should
wear red top boots.

^^'hen the spelling class is called every one should be pre-
pared for it. There will be some jaw-breaking words, I know,
such as Lat-i-tu-di-na-ti-on, In-com-pat-i-bil-i-ty. In-com-pre-
hen-si-bil-i-ty, O-pom-po-noo-sol. Con-sti-tu-ti-on-al-i-ty, and
Ir-re-spon-si-bil-i-ty.

Dancing.

^^'hen I was a boy everyliody knew what a fiddle was, but
nowadays they call them violins — a name that was too hi-fa-
loo-tin for the pioneer dances in Darke county. It was a com-
mon thing in early days at a countrv dance for one fellow to
lead as chief fiddler and one or two others to play "second
fiddle." Later on the big bass fiddle was added, as was also
a horn, and then the outfit was called the "orchestra." The
orchestra business killed off the old country fiddlers, and as a
feature at country dances they have passed into history.

I don't know where the folks kick up their heels in Green-
ville of late years, but when I lived there, Weston & Ullery's
hall was the most popular assembly room in the town. It was
as cold as a barn in the winter, although two stoves were kept
red hot all the time. Still, everybody enjoyed themselves,
whether the ocasion was a dance, church festival or magic lan-
tern exhibition. I was most interested in the dances, for my
girl was always there — about six of her. But I couldn't dance
at all compared to "Yune" Bowman, Bill Studabaker and Jim
Devor (Big Jim"). Taylor Fitts was an excellent dancer, and



DARKE COUNTY ^r"/

SO was Alf Hyde, John Deardourff, Pete Lavin, Lew Elliott.
Tip King and several others. Among the girl dancers were
Mollie King, "Node" Craig, Susan Minser, Mary Scribner,
Julia Burge, Susan Gorsuch, Nettie Martin and Molly Sebring.
Of course there were many others, but I name the above as
the constantly "engaged" set.

Then take the dances in Ullery & Emrick's hall. Those were
the jolliest dances ever held anywhere. The Greenville
"Crumrine Club" v/as composed of men of mark, viz. : Moses
Hart, Michael Spayd, Ed Putnam, Charley Calkins, Eli Helm,
Jack Sweitzer, Eli Hickox, Henry Horning, Dan King, John
King, Enos Shade and General Spiece. Soup for everybody.
Toasts and speeches. Frogs' legs and catfish. "Yum, yum." T
wasn't old enough to be a member, but I was old enough to
eat at many of their feasts.

Circus Lore

Nearly every circus that came to Greenville in those daj's
came from Winchester, Ind-., and we boys would get up early
in the morning to see the elephant. Sun-up generally found a
dozen or more of us (no breakfast, mind you, for boys in those
days hadn't time to eat on circus day) out on the pike by John
H. Martin's setting on the fence waiting for the procession to
form. We followed close to the elephant and when he got to
the Mud Creek bridge he would refuse to cross it, but pre-
ferred to wade through the water instead. When he got in
the middle of the stream he would stop and squirt water for
several minutes and then meander up the bank and into the
procession. We boys would trail after the elephant or band
wagon all over town and then hurry back to the show ground
and ride the horses to water. This would insure us admis-
sion to the show. We all "belonged to the show" for that day
at least. The next morning we would be on the ground bright
and earh^ hunting for money, which we never found. I have
never found any since.

The Buckeye Hotel burned down in 1856. The following
year Spalding & Rogers' circus and \^an Amburgh's menagerie
exhibited in Greenville on the same day. The circus was
given on the corner of Main and Elm streets, on the corner
where the late Michael Miller erected his residence. The
menagerie canvass was stretched on the ground where the
high school stands on Fourth street.
(17)



258 DARKE COUNTV

With one of these shows was a side-show that opened on
the lot where the Buckeye Hotel had stood and on the present
site of William Kipp's Sons' drug store, Broadway and Public
Square. The first Japanese I ever saw was with this show.
His "Skit" was to throw a number of daggers and stick them
into a board close to the neck and head of a man who stood
up in front of the board.

The man had his back to the board and the Jap would take
up a dagger and throw it and stick it "Ker chuck" close to one
side of the man's neck. .Another dagger was stuck into the
board close to the other side of the man's neck. .-K third and
fourth dagger was fastened into the board above the man's
ears, while the fifth dagger was driven into the board close to
the top of the man's head. Eli Bowman, the legless man. was
another feature of the show, and the third one was John .Allen,
the armless man who wrote with his toes.

Rowdyism.

.-\nother important event took place in Greenville, a year or
two after the completion of the Greenville & Miami Railroad.
A crowd of Dayton roughs came up to Greenville for the pur-
pose of licking the "backwoodsmen" of Darke county. In-
stead of licking them they got most beautifully pummelled
themselves. Theodore Be-ers, Ed. Potter and Bill Dewire
licked about 16 apiece and sent them back to Dayton with
black eyes and sore bones, .\bout 17 or 18 years later the
"Dayton Rounders," headed by Lum Cathcart, came up to
get revenge. Cathcart got shot in the neck, and a stray shot
hit Dave Wise (proprietor King's Hotel) in the neck also.

A third important event took place when several soldiers
were at home on a furlough, and taking umbrage at the atti-
tude of the Darke County Democrat on the war question,
threw the material of that ofifice out of the window on to the
sidewalk in front of Weston & Ullery's hardware store, corner
Third and Broadway.

Still another "important event" might be mentioned. The
old "Butternut Corner," a building on the corner where Weis-
enberger's drug store now is, was the rendezvous of the Darke
County "Copperheads." A lot of .soldiers went out "skvlark-
ing" one night when it occurred to them that it would be a
good idea to "bombard the fort." Preliminary to the attack a
line of boxes was extended across Broadway, from Jim Sum-



DARKE COUNTY



259



nierville's corner (now Koester's block. Third and Broadway)
to Moore's corner. The sharpshooters crouched behind the
boxes and at the word of command the fusilade began. Brick-
bats, stones, clubs, and tin cans were fired at the "fort" until
those on the inside began to escape by twos and threes. An
occasional shot was fired into the air by some fellow for pure
devilment, and some cuss had the audacity to scalp wound Bill
Barwise with a half spent bullet. It was fun for the soldiers
but it was a close call for Barwise.

Fall Pastimes.

In the fall of the year we hunted red and black haws, hick-
ory and walnuts, yes, and hazelnuts galore. The roof of our
kitchen was covered with nuts laid out to dry. The walnut
stain stuck to our hands tmtil the "cows came home" and
longer.

Cider making time was here, and often we would walk out
to Billy Bishop's and suck cider through a straw. Then came
applebutter making and more cider to drink. When corn cut-
ting season was over and the pumpkins were gathered, we
would go to the woods with our little wagon and gather hick-
ory bark for morning kindling. I yet can hear it cracking
under the back-logs. Soon the apples, potatoes, cabbage and
turnips would be unloaded in my father's garden, and us boys
were put to work burying them for winter. But when we
saw load after load of wood being corded up in the lane we
would become seriously afiflicted with mental rheumatism.
Oh ! the excuses we did make ! The sawbuck was always
broke and the saw needed filing. New saws, new bucks and
new axes every fall, and still it was a difficult job to get us to
saw enough wood at one time to cook breakfast and to keep
the family warm during the day.

Cabbage enough was always saved out to make a barrel of
sourkraut, and the man that made ours was "Old Dutch
Thomas," as we boys knew him. That work done, "Pap" as
we called our father, was ready to kill his hogs. He never
failed to kill from two to four every year, ^^^hen the butch-
ering was over then came sausage making and the salting
down of a barrel or two of meat. The hams were "smoked" in
the smoke house near the well. We boys who helped (?)
do so much (?) work scrambled hard for the pig tails. These
we roasted on the stove and the feast of eating them was



260 DARKE COUNTY

most enjoyable. \Mien there wasn't pig tails enough to go
around, the thought would come to me that if ever I became
a farmer I wouldn't raise any pigs but two-tailed kind.

Butchering time was when mother saved up fat for soap.
We had an ashhopper in our yard and a big iron kettle to
boil the fat out of the meat. Then came the "cracklings." I
am not so fond of them as I once was, but many is the crack-
ling I have "scratched," as mother used to say. Soft soap
was all the go in those days and our folks always made
enough to last a year.

Children's Pastimes.

The children in those early days who were too small to at-
tend the revivals were left at home sitting in front of the old
fireplace, cracking nuts and eating apples.

Methinks I can hear those little tads singing at times :

"\Mien the north winds do blow.

Then we shall have snow.

Oh! what wnll the pour roliin do then, poor thing?

It will sit in a barn

To keep itself warm." etc., etc.

Or they may sing :

"I want to be an angel
And with the angels stand ;
A crown upon my forehead.
And a harp within my hand."

That was about the onlv religious song children knew in
those days.

When we got tired of singing we'd play "Button, l)utton.
who's got the button," or we'd recite some pieces. "Mary had
a little lamb" wa.-^ a good one. "Albert Ross and his dcg
'Dash' '' never failed to bring down the house. "Jack and
Gill went up the hill" was never lost sight of.

Another one of our "classics" was:

"I wish I had a little dog,
I'd pat him on the head.
And so merrily he'd wag his tail
Whenever he was fed."



DARKE COUNTY



261



Next a boy and girl would stand out on the floor facing
the others and the boy would take a sugar kiss (3 for a cent)
out of his pocket and slowly unwrap the paper and pick out
the little verse and read to his girl this beautiful two-line
stanza :

"As the vine grows 'round the stump,
You are my darling sugar lump."

Then the little girl would blush and wiggle her body a bit
and take a verse from her sugar kiss and read it :

"If you love me as I love you —
No knife can cut our love in two."

That was a clincher. Every boy in the room was envious
of that one boy.

Then would come this, that and the other until bedtime.
The other would be:

"^Monkey, monkey, barrel of beer,
How many monkeys are there here?
One, two three — out goes he!"

Then this:

"Hick-o-ry, Dick-o-ry, Dock
The mouse ran up the clock,
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down,
Hick-o-ry, Dick-o-ry, Dock."

Of course larger boys and girls — girls who were big enough
to have beaus — would sing one or more of the following: Ben
Bolt, Suwanee River, Nellie Gray, Mocking Bird, Annie
Laurie, Comin' Through the Rye. Little Brown Jug, The Last
Rose of Summer, Willie, We Have Missed You, Paddle Your
Own Canoe, Swinging in the Lane, The Girl I Left Behind
Me, Wait for the Wagon, etc., etc.

When it came to recitations the big boys and girls could
beat us little folks every time. Their favorite pieces were : The
Burial of Sir John Moore, Cassabianca, Old Grimes is Dead,
That Good Old Soul, Charles D. Moore's Remorse, Lord
Ullom's Daughter, etc., etc.



262 DARKE COUNTY

Sunday Observance.

What a quiet town Greenville used to be on Sunday ! There
was nothing to do but drink whisky, play poker, fight roosters,
go fishing, swimming or skating (according to weather), run
horses, pitch horse shoes, or — go to church. I almost forgot
the latter. And yet the churches were well filled — more so
than they are today, considering population. After the roads
were graveled there was considerable buggy riding. In the
spring, Sunday was a great day to gather "greens," and at
other seasons of the year go to the woods for haws and wild
plums.

Sassafras diggers were also plentiful at times. I suppose
that the mania toda}^ is auto-riding.

Games.

Townball used to be a great game. The "commons" was the
ball ground. "Anthony" over was another game, the "mumb-
bly" peg, quoits, seven-up in the hay mows, matching big cop-
per cents, plump for keeps, hully gull, hop-scotch, and jumping
the rope. At school it was "Ring around the rosy," "Black-
man," "King William was King James' Son," and "Come Fil-
ander."

I pine for just one minute of those old days again.

Drinking.

\Miisky in the '50s was very cheap — only twelve and one-
half cents a gallon — good whisky at that. Farmers bought it
by the barrel — especially in harvest or log rolling time. The
best of whisky cost from $5.25 to $8 a barrel.

In those days Darke county had a large crop of drunkards.
For ten cents a man could stay drunk a whole week, but now
a "week's drunk" would cost from $25 up. I don't think there
were as many "crazy" drunkards in early days as there are
now, because whisky in those days was pure, while the whisky
of today never saw a still house.

The Old Band.

There are some things about Greenville that I never fail to
recall with a recollection born of boyhood sentiment. Take
the old band, for instance : There was none better in Ohio.
Henrv Tomlinson was the leader — great big-hearted, noble



DARKE COUNTY 263

man. Alf Hyde, his assistant — good as they made cornet
players in those days; Tip King, Major Hickox, Dan Zimmer-
man, Isaac Leonard, Ike Lynch, Billy Waggoner, Ed Tonilin-
son, John Deardourff, Les Ries, John Fryberger, Dave Vantil-
burgh, Abe Huffman and the writer. Ah, me, but those were
happy days ! Sometimes Jack .Sweitzer and Colonel Frizell
would meet with lis in the room over Hufnagle's store, and
then out would go the big water-can over to King's Hotel (now
the Wagner House) and when it came back we would sing,
"Sliould Auld Acquaintance be Forgot," etc.

Early Fairs.

It hardly seems a fact, but it is, that the first "Darke
county fair" was held forty years ago. What an insignificant
thing it was then, compared with the exhibits of the present
day! Then a few hundred people made up the attendance;
now they come by thousands. Then the sheds, halls, stables
and fences were made of wide pine board and sold to the high-
est bidder after the fair ; now everything in that line is of a
permanent nature, and in some instances the buildings are
substantial and becoming. Then the cattle were of the "old
brindle cow" stripe ; now the exhibit contains the finest in the
land — Shorthorns, Herefords, Jerseys, Gallaways, Polled An-
gus, Holsteins, Durhams, etc. The old elm-peeler hog has
been superseded by the Poland-China, the Berkshire, Ches-
ter White, Victorias, Duroc Jerseys, Essex, Suffolk and other
breeds. Sheep likewise have been wonderfully improved
since the days of 1855. The chicken flocks have undergone
wonderful changes, especially in varieties, but it is doubtful
whether any of the new breeds surpass the old "dunghill" for
eggs and good meat. The rest of the fowl creation has kept
pace with the improvement spirit in other lines, and contrasts
most admirably with the "bloods" of forty years back.

In farm implements the advance has been astonishing.
From the old man-killing cradle mode of harvesting advance
was made to the reaper without a rake-off; then came the auto-
matic rake-off, followed by the wonderful self-binder. The
sulky corn plow, the revolving and various other styles of har-
row, corn planter, hay baler, hay carrier, hay loader, and many
other like improvements for the farmer. The improvements
in grain, in fruits, in potatoes, etc., have been as great, but in
nothing has improvement and genius been so extensive and so
surprising as in farm implements and machinery.



264 DARKE COUNTY

With all this for the present day, the people enjoyed the
"Darke county fair" of forty years ago quite keenly. Twas
the best they had ever witnessed, and the exhibits were up to
the times — better, perhaps, considering the comparative ad-
vantages, than those of today. The two-forty trotter was a
wonderful nag in those days, and he was groomed and praised
as must as the two-ten horse is of today. .

The forty years have not diminished the ambition among'
the people for county fairs in the least. The season is one of
recreation and pleasure to farmers especially, and they enjoy
these annual exhibitions, and thev come, regardless of the
weather. They have kept pace with the world of improvement,
and their lands, their crops, stock, farm implements and build-
ings evidence the universal ambition to keep up with the pro-
cession.

Log Rollings and Hooppoles.

It won't lie many years before the timber will be thinned
out so that the wild game will be scarce. Go into the country
in any direction and you will see gangs of men at work burn-
ing down trees so as to get them out of the way. Timber is
an awful nuisance in this county, and it's so thick down around
Arcanum that cattle and hogs get lost for days at a time. Then
it's awful muddy down there, too, but they will have good
roads one o' these days, for I understand they are cutting
down all the small trees and making corduroy roads with
them. There is some talk of the sawmill at Sampson doing
nothing but saw heavy boards to pin down along the roads,
and then there will be nothing but plank roads all over the
county. There is a nice corduroy road between Dallas and
Lightsville. It was thought here at a time that there was
plenty of gravel to be had in this county, but it was all they
could do to get enough to build the Winchester and Gettys-
burg pikes. There is timber enough in this county to make
plank roads everywhere. They will be much ''smoother" and
cheaper than gravel.

Was you ever at a log rolling? Well you ought to go once
and see what an amount of work neighbors will do for one
another. When a settler gets hold of a quarter section, or
even forty acres of timber land and wants to build a house
or a barn, or both, all he has to do is to let his neighbors know
it, and they will come even ten miles to help him.



DARKE COUNTY 265

Xearly all the log houses in Darke county were built in that
way — neighbor helping neighbor.

Look yonder! There comes a half dozen teams down the hill
over there by "Squire Doty's, every wagon loaded with hoop-
poles. They are taking them to Cincinnati to the big cooper-
shops where they make the pork barrels for the big packing
houses there. Those hooppoles come from away up in Mis-
sissinawa and Allen townships, where young hickory trees are
so thick that a deer can't get through them. Those teams will
all be driven into Mark's barnyard, corner of Fourth and
Broadway, and rest up tonight, and early tomorrow morning
resume their journey. They will drive to Eaton tomorrow, and
the next day to Hamilton, and the following day they wmII land
in Cincinnati. They could easily make the trip in two days if
they could travel on corduroy roads, and if on plank roads
they could do it in less time. I expect to see the day when
there will be a plank road from Greenville clear to Cincinnati.
There is timber enough in Darke county to do it, and it
wouldn't be missed. A good plank road from Greenville to
Cincinnati would bust up that railroad that was built from
Dayton up here a few years ago. Railroads will never amount
to much in this country. They are very unpopular and ex-
travagant ; besides the whistle on the engine scares all the
horses, and not long ago the engine ran into a drove of cattle
belonging to the Studabakers and killed about $100 worth of
steers.

An Old Huckster.

You see if we had plank roads in this county, Huggins'
huckster wagon (he has four oi 'em) could travel all over
Darke county and gather in eggs, tallow, beeswax, calamus
root, coon skins, deer hides, sassafras bark, and leave with the
settlers coiifee, tea, sugar, thread, pepper, salt, calico, and
other store goods in exchange. With plank roads running all
over the county we won't have any use for railroads.

There comes a four-horse team down Main street. The
wagon is loaded with lumber. It came all the way from Spar-
tansburg, Indiana. The fellow sitting on the saddle horse
jerking the rein is J. Wesley Clemens, from near Tampico out
in the colored settlement. He is hauling that lumber down to
the fair ground ("you can see it yonder in that bunch of oak
trees on the Jefiferson road) to build the fence. Allen LaMotte
has the job of building the fence, and when the fair is over



266 DARKE COUNTY '

they sell the lumber to Xick Kuntz who has that saw mill you
see yonder on the banks of Green^■ille creek.

Kerosene and Telegraph.

Did you see that stuff they had at Burtch's grocery the other
night for making light? It's a fluid of some kind that soaks
into a wick and you get it afire and it burns very bright ; but it
is dangerous and expensive stuff. There has been a great im-
provement on candles here of late. They've got candle moulds
down at Carter's candle factory in Huntertovv^n that will turn
out twelve candles at a pop. I understand the Studabakers
and other rich people have moulds of the same size. They cost
about $2.50 and poor folks who are unable to own even a four
candle mould can get along very well with the tallow dip. A
person can buy a dip at Allen's tin store for twenty cents that
has a spout on it for the wick to come through and a handle
on it the same as some tea cups have. There is an oil used in
some of the big cities that is called kerosene, but it blows up
and kills people. There ought to be a law against selling such
dangerous stuff. I heard Thomas P. Turpen say that when he
stopped in New York city on his way home from South Amer-
ica that he saw lights on the corners of the streets that were
made out of some kind of gas, and even some of the big hotels
had it to light the dining rooms.

Have 3'OU ever been to that telegraph office over Workman's
and Daily's dry goods store? There's a machine up there that
a long strip of paper runs through and it has a lot of dots and
dashes on it that take the place of letters. They are getting
pretty hard up when they have to use signs instead of the plain
a, b, c's. I heard Dan R. Davis say that when he was in Day-
ton not long ago he saw a man that could tell what message
was coming over the wire just by the sound it made; he did
not have to look at the strip of paper at all. Well, when they
get to doing that it will be pretty near time for the world to
come to an end.

An Old Fiddler.

One of the old "land marks" of Greenville yet remains in a
log cabin standing at the extreme south end of Euclid avenue,
a little to the east. The writer first saw the cabin forty-five
years ago, and it was then an old structure in appearance. A



DARKE COUNTY



267



family by the name of Quick lived in it, the father and two
sons earning a livelihood by cutting cord wood and splitting
rails for the farmers nearby, this part of the country being
then a comparative wilderness. Nine-tenths of Greenville of
today was at that time "in the woods." One of the Quicks,
Aaron, was a "fiddler" (called violinists now), and he made
the "wild west" resound with "Old Dan Tucker," "Old Rosin
the Bow,". "Jennie Put the Kettle On," and the Arkansaw
Traveler. Aaron was a cripple, and he done little else but play
the fiddle in a genuine old backwoodsman style. He had no
fiddle "larnin." but nevertheless he could find an audience of
considerable size whenever he would come up to town —
Greenville was then a "town." Aaron made many a quarter
playing to a street audience and was in great demand at the
numerous country dances of those days. The old cabin ought
to be photographed as a relic before it gives way to "fate." It
is not improbable that the structure is nearly, if not quite, sixty
years old, as that part of Greenville is quite "aged," and was
"organized" by a Mr. George Hunter, an Englishman, house
painter by trade, that part of the town bearing his name to this
da}', as "Huntertown."

"Coonskin" Brown.

While we are sitting here in this belfry, we might as well