Folklore of Highland County
by Violet Morgan
Greenfield Publishing Company
Pages 76 – 78
…Unbelievers and trouble-makers in the congregation would shout, guffaw, and challenge the preacher to such an extent that he often had to descend among them and engage in battle with the offenders [Peter] Cartwright and James B. Finley, another evangelist often were obliged to do this before they could continue with their meetings. However, strange though it was, Finley himself when a youth, had been one of the worst offenders at camp meetings and revivals as a young, drunken ruffian, he has gone down in local history as "the New Market devil.” James B. Finley, who came to the Ohio country with his parents when he was fifteen years old, became the guiding light of Methodism in Highland county. He is regarded by historians as Ohio's greatest circuit rider, Indian missionary, an itinerant evangelist. There is a monument erected to his memory at Eaton, Ohio. His father, Robert W. Finley, a Presbyterian minister said to have been the first preacher in New Market and believed to have been the first who preached (1801) within the confines of Highland county. He had been educated at Princeton University When he came with his family to New Market, he opened what was called a classical school in his cabin on the banks of the Whiteoak creek. He educated his son, John, regarded as the most intellectual of all his sons, who became a licensed preacher of the Methodist church and afterwards Professor of Languages in Augusta, Kentucky.
James, assisted by his brother, John, built a cabin near New Market to which he brought his young bride and sole worldly possessions of gun, dog, and axe. His bride had nothing for her father, displeased with her choice of a husband, had forbidden her to take her clothes with her.
The resourceful bridegroom set to work to make the cabin as comfortable as possible. He made a bedstead of forks driven into the cabin floor, laid poles across them, and on top he laid elm bark and a tick of leaves he had dried in the sun.
He went to New Market, six miles away, and cut and split 100 rails for a bushel of potatoes which he carried home on his back. Once he worked a day for a hen and three chickens which he carried home in his hunting shirt. With his axe he cleared off about an acre and a half of plum bottom, dug holes, and, an planted corn, and its harvest brought him nearly a hundred bushels.
The Finley boys were bear hunters. One severe winter, when the food was scarce, they tracked down and killed eleven bears the largest one weighing over 400 pounds. James spent one who whole winter tracking bears to repay a financial loss he had sustained by going security for a friend at Chillicothe. He killed a number of bears and sold their skins from three to seven dollars each.
After attending a camp meeting at his father's former congregation at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, James was converted to the Methodist religion and felt the call to preach. He left his home and family and started on his mission as a circuit rider, a journey of 470 miles. For 40 years he pursued his calling. He preached to prisoners. He taught the Wyandotte Indians. He finally presided over the eight circuits of the Ohio district and is credited with having "saved 500 souls."
A very human story told about James Finley is the one when, as a young scamp, he came to the cabin of an Irishman named Joseph Eakins, near New Market The Eakins family had come to the United States in 1801. Wealthy and unprepared for the hardships of wilderness life, they were at a loss to know what to do when the supply of groceries Mr. Eakins had brought from Pittsburgh, and the barrel of flour from Manchester ran out. Mrs. Eakins was in tears.
James Finley, “rough, ragged, dirty, and a little drunk.” walked into the cabin ans asked what was the matter. He told them to cheer up, he would make the some bread. Washing his hands, he cut a piece of lard from a fresh-killed hog that Mr. Eakins had just bought from Samuel Evans, rendered it, and put it in a dish of meal. He added salt and mixed it all with water. Then he spread the down on a smooth Johnny-cake board and the entire countryside learned of it. As “Jim Finleys,” this bread was New Market’s favorite pastry…
Historical Collections of Ohio
By Henry Howe
FATHER FINLEY, THE ITINERANT.
On entering the Old Mound Cemetery, at Eaton, I was surprised to find there the monument to my old friend, Father FINLEY. I had not until then known the spot of his burial. To copy the inscription was a labor of love. On the north side it was: “Rev. Jas. B. FINLEY, died September 6, 1857, aged 76 years, 1 month and 20 days;” on the south side,” To the memory of Hannah, his wife, born in 1783; died in 1861.”On the west side is an open Bible with the words: “There is rest in Heaven.” The monument is a single shaft mounted on a pedestal and about twelve feet in height., The young of this generation may ask, “Who was Father FINLEY? “We reply,” One of the greatest of the itinerant Methodist ministers.” He began his itinerant ministry in 1809, when 28 years of age. The scene of his labors was the then wilderness of eastern and northern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and western New York; and during his over forty years of service he personally received 5,000 members into the service of the Methodist Episcopal church. Daniels, in his “History of Methodism,” thus sums up his life-work: “Finley was eight times elected a member of the General Conference. He also served three years as chaplain of the Ohio Penitentiary. He was a man of great energy of character, of burning zeal, a powerful preacher, a popular manager of camp meetings and other great assemblies, at which, by the power of his eloquence as well as his tact and knowledge of human nature, he swayed the masses, and calmed the rage of mobs and ruffians.
“To his other labors he added, from his own experiences, those of an author. ‘An Account of the Wyandot Mission,’ ‘Sketches of Western Methodism,’ ‘Life Among the Indians,’ ‘Memorials of Prison Life,’ and his own ‘Biography,’—book abounding in wild adventure, hair-breadth escapes, backwoods wanderings, and such other wild experiences as appertained to the Western itinerants of that day.”
I said Father FINLEY was an old friend. Yes, I was in prison and he comforted me. In 1846 he was chaplain of the Ohio Penitentiary, when he took me under his wing. I had arrived with a severe cold, and he cured me after the manner of the Wyandots, those simple people of the woods, among whom he had lived, prayed and sung. He brought out a heavy buffalo robe, and spreading it.
before the fire of his room, I laid on my back and toasted my feet for about two days; thus the cure was effected, and so well that scarcely a single other has since invaded my premises. Those two days with the hunter were a rare social treat.
Wrote Donn Piatt: “A mean sinner makes a mean saint;” this was more than forty years ago, but Donn never put in any claim for it as an original discovery. Father FINLEY was formed on a generous scale, and when he threw that strong, sympathetic spirit of his into the service of Christianity, there was enough of him to make one of the biggest sort of Christians. He was short, but strongly built, with a heavy, sonorous voice that went to the utmost verge of many a camp-meeting, stirring the emotions of multitudes to their inmost depths. He was frank, simple as a child, outspoken, fearless in denunciation of wrong, and when rowdies disturbed any meeting where he was, he was quick and effective in muscular demonstrations.
His autobiography is a valuable contribution to the knowledge of Western life in the beginning of this century, and gives an experience nowhere else so well told. From it we derive the following:
The FINLEYS were Presbyterians of Pennsylvania. James’ father, Robert W. FINLEY, was graduated at Princeton, studied for the ministry, and then sent as a missionary into the settlements of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, preaching and planting churches in destitute places. Here he married Miss Rebecca BRADLEY, whose father had lately removed from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, and the year after, in 1781, James was born at his father’s home in North Carolina.
Horrors of Civil War.—James was cradled and reared in war until well advanced in life. At the time of his birth the horrors of civil war raged with great fury; neighbor was massacred by neighbor. The Tories urged by the British, tried to exterminate the Whigs. All of his mother’s brothers, says FINLEY, were killed in this deadly strife. One fell at Gates’ defeat; another was murdered by four Tories near his own door—was shot with his own rifle; another died on a prison ship. His father and congregation were waylaid and shot at on their way to church; one member was killed by a shot through a window of his house while at prayer. His father received a ball through the clothes of his breast, just as he stepped out of his own door.
A Tory Major of the neighborhood by stratagem collected all the wives of the Whigs in one house, and hanged them by the neck until almost dead, in the vain attempt to extort from them the places of their husbands’ concealment. At the close of the war he returned to the neighborhood, when their sons took him out one night to a swamp, and gave him twenty lashes for each of their mothers whom he had hanged. Then they tarred and feathered him, ducked him in the swamp and threatened if he did not leave the country in a month they would draw every drop of Tory blood out of his body.
Kentucky Experiences.—In 1786 the FINLEY family removed to the Redstone country, near the headwaters of the Potomac, Virginia, where his father preached for two years; but Kentucky was the land of promise, and in the fall of 1788 they embarked with a party of others on the Ohio, and arrived at Maysville, when Mr. FINLEY removed his family to Washington, Ky., for the winter. James was then a lad of 7 years, and saw for the first time that great adventurer. Simon Kenton, a child of Providence, raised for the protection of the scattered families in the wilderness.”
That winter the Indians made great depredations and stole almost all the horses, so that the farmers were scarcely able to carry on their business. It was only a few years before that Kenton, going in pursuit with a party, was taken prisoner, and but for the intervention of Simon Girty, would have been burned at the stake.
The Finleys Help to Found Chillicothe.—The depredations of the Indians were so great that the family again removed, and to Cane Ridge, in Bourbon county. Mr. Finley bought part of an unbroken canebrake, cleared it, and opened up a farm, which he cultivated with the work of his slaves. He preached to two congregations—Cane Ridge and Concord—and started a high-school, the first of the kind in Kentucky, in which the dead languages were taught. Several of his pupils became Presbyterian ministers. In the spring of 1796 Mr. FINLEY emigrated with a large part of his two congregations to the Scioto valley, and was a great factor in laying the foundations of Chillicothe (see Ross County), and James was thenceforth “ an Ohio boy.” He says in his early days they had to depend for their daily living upon the hunters and what they could kill themselves of the wild game. This gave him an early love for the chase, so that before the age of 16 he had almost become an Indian in his habits and feelings.
In his father’s academy he had studied the Greek, Latin and mathematics, and finally, by his request, studied medicine, and in the fall of 1800 took his degree, but with no design to practise it. “My recreations,” said he, “were with the gun in the woods, and I passed several months in the forest
surveying Congress lands for Thomas Worthington, afterwards Governor of the State. “
FINLEY ADOPTS THE PROFESSION OF A HUN-
TER, AND SEEKS FOR A WIFE A WOMAN
ADAPTED TO THAT SITUATION.
Having passed the winter of 1800-1801 in hunting, he was so enamored with its peaceful enjoyments that he resolved on adopting a hunter’s life, and by the adviee of his mother chose a wife suited to that mode of living. The happy woman was Hannah STANE, and she proved a prize in that perilous venture which may rum or save a man—marriage ! “On the 3d day of March 1801,” he says, “I was accordingly married.” How Not on he thus relates:
My father having bought the land in what is now Highland county, I resolved to move and take possession. This section of the country was then a dense wilderness, with only here and there a human” habitation. My father-in-law, being dissatisfied with his daughter’s choice, did not even allow her to take her clothes, so we started out without any patrimony, on our simple matrimonial stock, to make our fortune in the woods.
Builds a Cabin.—With the aid of my brother John I built a cabin in the forest, my nearest neighbor being three miles off. Into this we moved without horse or cow, bed or bedding, bag or baggage. We gathered up leaves and dried them in the sun; then, picking out all the sticks, we put them into a bed-tick. For a bedstead, we drove forks into the ground, and laid sticks across, over which we placed elm bark. On this we placed our bed of leaves and had comfortable lodging.
The next thing was to procure something to eat. Of meat we had an abundance, supplied by my rifle, but we wanted some bread flied and split one hundred rails for a bushel of potatoes, which I carried home on my back, a distance of six miles. At the same place I worked a day for a hen and three chickens, which I put into my hunting shirt-bosom and carried home as a great prize. Our cabin was covered with bark, and lined and floored with the same material. One end of the cabin was left open for a fireplace. In this we lived comfortably all summer. Having no horse or plough, I went into a plum bottom near the house, and, with my age, grubbed and cleared off an acre and a half, in which I dug holes with my hoe, and planted my corn without any fence around it.
I cultivated this patch as well as I could with my hoe, and Providence blessed my labor with a good crop of over one hundred bushels. Besides, during the summer, with the help of my wife, I put up a neat cabin, and finished it for our winter’s lodgings. For the purpose of making the cabin warm, I put my corn in the loft, and now, if we could not get bread, we had always, as a good substitute, plenty of hominy. We had also plenty of bear meat and venison, and no couple on earth lived happier or more contented. Our Indian friends often called and stayed all night, and I paid them, in return, occasional visits.
During the season several families settled in the neighborhood, and, when we were together, we enjoyed life without gossip and those often fatal bickerings and backbitings which destroy the peace ace of whole communities. Though we had but little, our wants were few, and we enjoyed our simple and homely possessions with a relish the purse-proud aristocrat never enjoyed. A generous hospitality characterized every neighbor, and what we had we divided to the last with each other. When any one wanted help all were ready to aid. I spent the greater part of the winter in hunting and laying up a store of provisions for the summer, so that I might give my undivided attention to farming. As we had no stock to kill, and could not conveniently raise hogs; on account of the wild animals, which would carry them off, we were obliged to depend upon the product of the woods. As the bear was the most valuable, we always hunted for this animal. This fall there was a good mast, and bears were so plentiful that it was not necessary to go from home to hunt them. About Christmas we made our turkey-hunt. At that season of the year they are very fat, and we killed them in great abundance. To preserve them, we cleaned them, cut them in two, and after salting them in troughs, we hung them up to dry. They served a valuable purpose to cook, in the spring and summer, with our bear, bacon, and venison hams. Being dry, we would stew them in bear’s oil, and they answered a good substitute for bread, which, in those days, was hard to be obtained, the nearest mill being thirty miles distant. Another great difficulty was to procure salt, which sold enormously high—at the rate of four dollars for fifty pounds. In backwoods currency, it would require four buckskins, or a large bear skin, or sixteen coon skins, to make the purchase. Often it could not be had at any price, and the only way we had to procure it was by packing a load of kettles on our horses to the Scioto salt lick, now the site of Jackson Court-house, and boiling the water ourselves. Otherwise we had to dispense with it entirely. I have known meat cured with strong hickory ashes.
Happy Times.—I imagine I hear the reader saying this was hard living and hard times. So they would have been to the present race of men; but those who lived at that time enjoyed life with a greater zest, and were more healthy and happy than the present race. We had not then sickly, hysterical wives, with poor, puny, sickly, dying children, and no dyspeptic men constantly swallowing the nostrums of quacks. When we became sick unto death we died at once, and did not keep the neighborhood in a constant state of alarm for several weeks by daily bulletins of our dying. Our young women were beautiful without rouge, color de rose, meen fun, or any other cosmetic, and blithesome
without wine and fruit-cake. There was then no curvature of the spine, but the lasses were straight and fine-looking, without corsets or whalebone. They were neat in their appearance and fresh as the morning.
When the spring opened I was better prepared to go to farming than I was the last season, having procured horses and plough. Instead of the laborious and tedious process of working the land with a hoe; I now commenced ploughing. Providence crowned my labors with abundant success, and we had plenty to eat and wear. Of course, our wants were few and exceedingly simple, and the products of the soil and hunting yielded a rich supply. Thus we lived within ourselves on our own industry, our only dependence being upon the favor of an over-ruling bountiful Benefactor. We spun and wove our own fabrics for clothing, and had no tag, no muster, no court, no justices, no lawyers, no constables, and no doctors, and, consequently had no exorbitant fees to pay to professional gentlemen. The law of kindness governed our social walks; and if such a disastrous thing as a quarrel should break out, the only way to settle the difficulty was by a strong dish of fisticuffs. No man was permitted to insult another without resentment; and if an insult was permitted to pass unrevenged, the insulted party lost his standing and caste in society any a muss or spree was gotten up, in which the beat of friends quarrelled and fought, through the sole influence of the brown jug.
It was seldom we had any preaching, but if a travelling minister should come along and make an appointment, all would go out to preaching. If the preaching was on a week day, the men would go in their hunting-shirts, with their guns. On Sabbath, the gun was left at home, but the belt and knife were never forgotten.
Misfortune Met Philosophically.—After two or three seasons had passed he met with a great misfortune; lost all his property, one hundred acres of good military land, with all the improvements, by going security for a man who had run away. He took it philosophically. “I consoled my wife,” says he, “as well as I could, and told her we were young, and had begun the world with nothing, and would do it again. I requested her to stay at home and keep house, and I would take to the woods and hunt.” Bear-skins commanded a good price; from three to seven dollars, according to size and quality. I spent the winter mostly in the woods, and suffered much from lying out at night without bedclothes or bed only as I could make one out of dry bark. I wrapped skins about me and laid by the fire. It was a prosperous winter, and success the most sanguine, crowned my days and nights of toil and privation. From the proceeds of my winter campaign, I was enabled to purchase as good a home as that from which the law had ejected me.
Thus I passed seven years, farming in the summer and hunting in the winter, and adding to my resources till I had a comfortable home, with everything necessary to make the backwoodsman happy.
The Grand Old Woods.—But my neighbors became too numerous, and my hunting-grounds were broken in upon by the hard of civilization; game became scarce and hard to take; my ranges were broken up, and I had about come to the conclusion to go to a new country. It seemed as though my happiness depended upon a life in the woods,” the grand old woods, “where Nature had erected her throne, and where she swayed her sceptre.
Alone in the deep solitude of the wilderness man can commune with himself and Nature and her God, and realize emotions and thoughts that the crowded city never can produce. To be sure, one has said, “A great city is a great desert,” but it is a desert of depraved humanity, where every one is wrapped up in selfishness, and guards himself against his neighbor while his heart rankles with envy at his prosperity, or his wild unbridled ambition urges him on the reckless course of outstripping all his competitors. Not so in the woods. There pride, envy, selfishness, and ambition have no abode. The only evil spirit that haunts the woods is Melancholy. This will often steal upon the heart of those who have not found the satisfying portion that religion imparts.
Mr. FINLEY’S account of his conversion and final entrance into the ministry of the Methodist Church is vividly told. “He was,” he says, “raised by Presbyterian parents, and taught the catechism.” From this he learned that God from all eternity had elected some men and angels to everlasting life and passed by the remainder, ordaining them to eternal death. This doctrine seemed to him unjust. There was no use in prayer. That would not convert him unless he was one of the elect, and if so, he would be saved anyway. “This doctrine,” he says, “well nigh ruined me. I thought if God had brought me into the world without my consent for his own purposes, it was no concern of mine, and all I had to do was to be honest, enjoy life, and perform the errand of my destiny.” So he entered freely into pleasure, took a hand at cards, but never gambled; was passionately fond of dancing; sometimes went on a spree; would swear when angry, and fight when insulted. “Backwoods boys were brought up to the trade of knock down and drag out.” The people called him the “New Market Devil,” so wild was he.
In the midst of all this mirth and revelry he dare not think of death and eternity. About this time a great revival of religion broke out in Kentucky, accompanied by that alarming phenomena called the jerks. In August, 1801, learning there was to be a great meeting at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, in his father’s old congregation, he left, with some companions, his woody retreat in Highland county, near what is now New Market, and went down to visit the scenes of his boyhood.
CAMP MEETING SCENES.
When he arrived on the camp-ground he found an awful scene. A vast crowd was collected, estimated at 25,000. The noise was like the roar of Niagara. The vast sea of human beings were agitated as if by a storm. He counted seven ministers all preaching at once from stumps, fallen trees, and wagons. Some were singing, others praying; some piteously crying for mercy and others shouting most vociferously. He became weak as a kitten at the sight and fled to the woods. “After some time,” he says, “I returned to the scene of excitement, the waves of which, if possible, had risen still higher. The same awfulness of feeling came over me. I stepped up on to a log, where I could have a better view of the surging sea of humanity. The scene that presented itself to my mind was indescribable. At one time I saw at least five hundred swept down in a moment, as if a battery of a thousand guns had been opened upon them; and then immediately followed shrieks and shouts that rent the very heavens. My hair rose up on my head; my whole frame trembled; the blood ran cold in my veins; and I fled for the woods a second time, and wished I had stayed at home. While I remained here my feelings became intense and insupportable. A sense of suffocation and blindness seemed to come over me, and I thought I was going to die.
A Drunken Revelry.—There being a tavern about half a mile off, I concluded to go and get some brandy, and see if it would not strengthen my nerves. When I arrived there I was disgusted with the sight that met my eyes. Here I saw about one hundred men engaged in a drunken revelry, playing cards, trading horses, quarrelling, and fighting. After some time I got to the bar, and took a dram and left; feeling that I was as near hell as I wished to be, either in this or the world to come. The brandy had no effect in allaying my feelings, but, if anything, made me worse.
Convicted of Sin.—Night at length came on, and I was afraid to see any of my companions. I cautiously avoided them, fearing lest they should discover something the matter with me. In this state I wandered about from place to place, in and around the encampment. At times it seemed as if all the sins I had ever committed in my life were vividly brought up in array before my terrified imagination; and under their awful pressure I felt that I must die if I did not get relief. Then it was that I saw clearly through the thin vail of Universaliam, and this refuge of lies was swept away by the Spirit of God. Then fell the scales from my sin-blinded eyes, and I realized, in all its force and power, the awful truth; and that if I died in my sins, I was a lost man forever.
Notwithstanding all this, my heart was so proud and hard that I would not have fallen to the ground for the whole State of Kentucky. I felt that such an event would have been an everlasting disgrace, and put a final quietus on my boasted manhood and courage. At night I went to a barn in the neighborhood, and, creeping under the hay spent amost dismal night. I resolved in the morning to start for home, for I felt that I was a ruined man. Finding one of the friends who came over with me, I said, “Captain, let us be off; I wilt stay no longer.” He assented, and getting our horses’ we started for home.
A Struggle—Conversion—Joy.—The next night they reached the Blue Lick Knobs, when, says FINLEY, “I broke the silence which reigned mutually between us, and exclaimed to my companion, Captain, if you and I don’t stop our wickedness, the devil will get us both.” Then both commenced crying and weeping. The next morning he went into the woods to pray. His shouts attracted the neighbors, who gathered around, and among them a Swiss German who had experienced religion. He understood his case; had him carried to his house, and put on his bed. The old Dutch saint directed me to look right away to the Saviour. He then kneeled at the bedside, and prayed for my salvation most fervently in Dutch and broken English. He then rose and sung in the same manner, and continued singing and praying alternately till nine o’clock, when suddenly my load was gone, my guilt removed, and presently the direct witness from heaven shone full upon my soul. Then there flowed such copious streams of love into the hitherto waste and desolate places of my soul, that I thought I should die with excess of joy. I cried, I laughed, I shouted; and so strangely did I appear to all but my Dutch brother that they thought me deranged. After a time I returned to my companion, and we started on our journey. O what a day it was to my soul!
I told the captain how happy I was, and was often interrupted, in a recital of my experience by involuntary shouts of praise. I felt a love for all mankind, and reproached myself for having been such a fool as to live so long in sin and misery when there was so much mercy for me.
Becomes a Circuit Rider.—Soon after his arrival at home, FINLEY joined the Methodists, developed extraordinary eloquence, and eventually was appointed to the wills creek circuit. He sent for his family, put them into a cabin; their entire earthly possessions being nothing but a bed and some wearing apparel, and then he says, “My funds being all exhausted, I sold my boots off my feet to pur-
chase provisions with. Then he started on his circuit, to be absent four weeks.
Wills Creek Circuit was computed to be 475 miles round. Its route was as follows: Beginning at Zanesville and running east, it embraced all the settlements on each side of the Wheeling road, on to Salt creek and the Buffalo fork of Wills creek; thence down to Cambridge and Leatherwood, on Stillwater; thence to Barnesville and Morristown; thence down Stillwater, including all the branches on. which [there] were settlements, to the mouth; thence up the Tuscarawas, through New Philadelphia, to One-leg Nimishilling thence up Sandy to Canton, and on to Carter’s; thence to Sugar creek, and down said creek to the mouth; thence down the Tuscarawas to William Butt’s, and thence down to the mouth of Whitewoman; thence, after crossing the river, including all the settlements of the Wapatomica, down to Zanesville, the place of beginning.
Many were his difficulties and perils. The country was wild; the people generally ignorant and inexperienced. They often interrupted him in his preaching by mookings and curses and threats’ of punishment, and sometimes he felt it his duty to “go in” on his muscle; and he was strong as an ox. They used to tell a story of his thrashing a notorious bully, and then bringing him within the fold.
While on the Wills circuit one man, whose wife had been in great distress of mind from the sense of sin, declared FINLEY was a wizard and had bewitched her. He loaded his rifle with a charmed bullet, and went two miles into the woods to waylay him. Soon his mind was filled with dreadful thoughts; horrid visions floated in the air; demon faces gibbered before his vision, when he took to his heels for his home in as much distress as his poor wife. In the result both became converts.
As he journeyed his place of study was the forest and his text-books the Bible, Discipline, doctrinal tracts, and the works of Wesley and Fletcher. The influence of the circuit riders in that day in saving the people of the wilderness from degenerating into savagery was beyond all computation. Such a body of self-denying moral heroes as they were have seldom been known. Generally poverty loomed up to them drearily in the distance. They lived poor and died poor, and left their families in poverty. “Some I know,” said FINLEY, “have spent a fortune for the privilege of travelling circuits, at a salary of twenty-five dollars a year, while their wives lived in log cabins and rocked their children in sugar-troughs.”
Eventually FINLEY was put in charge of the “Ohio district,” which included eight circuits, ten travelling preachers, and over 4,000 members. It embraced all Eastern and Northern Ohio, part of Western New York and all Western Pennsylvania; and he rode through the woods all around it four times a year, holding quarterly meetings. We close with an anecdote related by him as having occurred at St. Clairsville, wherein the later eminent Charles HAMMOND illustrated his muse:
“I was,” writes Finley, “called on by brother YOUNG to exhort. Being much blessed, I suppose I raised my voice to the highest pitch and struck the book-board with my hand. At this a young lawyer, Charles HAMMOND, who had a considerable reputation for talents, became alarmed, and, urging his way through the crowd to the door, fled for his life. On my next round, the sexton found in the pulpit a very neatly turned maul, with a slip of paper wrapped around the handle, which was directed to me. After meeting it was presented, and on the paper were the following verses:
“ ‘Lift up your voice, and loudly call
On sinners all around,
And if you cannot make them here
Take up this maul and POUND !’ ”
Historical Collections of Ohio
By Henry Howe
EARLY EXPERIENCES IN THE SCIOTO VALLEY.
The Rev. J. B. FINLEY, who came with his father to Chillicothe in the year 1796, in his very interesting and instructive autobiography, writes of “the richness of the country, the beauty of its birds and flowers, the softness of the climate, the fragrance of the atmosphere, redolent as Eden.” He then goes on to describe the sufferings through the prevalence of bilious fevers, the symptoms of which often resembled those of yellow-fever. “Often there was not one member of the family able to help the others; and instances occurred in which the dead lay unburied for days because no one could report. The extensive prevalence of sickness, however, did not deter immigration. A desire to possess the rich lands overcame all fear of sickness, and the living tide rolled on, heedless of death.”
In the summer of 1798 the bloody flux raged as an epidemic with great violence, and for a time threatened to depopulate the whole town of Chillicothe and its vicinity. Medical skill was exerted to its utmost, but all to no purpose, as but few who were attacked recovered. From eight to ten were buried per day. At length a French trader by the name of DROUILLARD [Peter DRUYER, or Drouillard, who interceded with the Indians to save the life of Simon Kenton], came and administered to the sick with great success, giving relief in a few hours, and in almost every case effecting a permanent cure.
The first Legislature met on the bank of the Scioto river, near the foot of Mulberry street, under a large sycamore tree. This was entirely democratic, as the people represented themselves. The principal matter which occupied the attention of this Legislature was the enaction of a law for the suppression of drunkenness.
In the fall of 1796 my father set all his slaves free. He had been for years convinced that it was wrong to hold his fellow-men in bondage. Preparations being made for their removal from their Kentucky home to Ohio, about the lst of December, twelve of the emancipated negroes were mounted on packhorses and started for Ohio. My father placed me in charge of the company, though a lad but 16 years of age. We were accompanied with parts of three families, with a great drove of hogs, cows and sheep. We carried with us clothes, bed-clothes, provisions and cooking utensils.
After we crossed the Ohio river it became intensely cold, and it was with difficulty some of the colored people were kept from freezing. Some days we were under the necessity of lying by, it was so intensely cold. After sixteen days of toil and hardship we reached our place of destination on the banks of the Scioto below Chillicothe. Here we built our winter camps, making them as warm as we could. Our bread was made of pounded hominy and corn-meal, and we lived on this, together with what we could find in the woods. Fortunately for us, game was plenty, and we caught opossums by the score. The colored people lived well on this food, and were as sleek and black as ravens. In the spring my father and the rest of the family moved out, and as soon as we could erect a cabin all hands went to work to put in a crop of corn.
it was necessary to fence in the prairie, and every one had to enclose with a fence as much ground as he had planted. The work of fencing fell to my lot. Myself and another lad built a camp, in which we lodged at night and cooked our provisions. We frequently killed turkeys and wild ducks, with which we supplied our larder, and with our johnny-cake, baked on a board before the fire, we had a good supply for a vigorous appetite. After our corn was gathered and laid by the immigrants came pouring into the country. From that time to the beginning of March I travelled over the trace from Chillicothe to Manchester sixteen times. On one of these visits my brother John accompanied me, father having sent us by that route to Kentucky for seed-wheat. The wheat which we brought back was, I believe, the first sown in the Scioto valley.
This year our horses ran away, and my father sent me, in company with an Indian, whom he had employed for that purpose, to go and hunt them. We had not gone four miles from the settlement before the Indian was bitten by a rattlesnake on the ankle, between his leggin and moccasin. It was one of the large yellow kind, full of poison. As soon as the Indian had killed his enemy, he took his knife, went a few paces, and dug up a root, the stalk of which resembled very much the stalk of flag, about nine inches long. The root was yellow and very slender, being no thicker than a knitting-needle. This root he chewed and swallowed. He then put more in his mouth, and after chewing it, put it upon the wound. Soon after he became deathly sick and vomited. He repeated the dose three times with the same result, and then, putting some fresh root on the bite, we travelled on. The place where he was bitten after a while became swollen, but it did not extend far and soon subsided. This root is undoubtedly the most effectual cure for poison in the world—a specific antidote.
I frequently hunted with JOHN CUSHON, an Indian of the Tuscarora tribe, and had good living and much fine sport. I became so passionately fond of the gun and the woods, and Indian life, that my parents feared I would go off with the Indians and become connected with them. They were as fondly attached to me as I to them; and notwithstanding I had heard so much of their treachery and savage barbarity, I felt that I could repose the most implicit confidence in them. The mode of living and manner of life, which consisted in hunting the buffalo, bear and deer in the wild woods and glens, free from care and the restraints of civilization, made Indian life to me most desirable; and so powerfully had these things taken hold of my youthful mind, that the advice and entreaties of my beloved parents could scarcely restrain me from following it. Let it not be supposed that, though I was a backwoods boy, I had not tasted the sweets of classical literature. In my father’s academy I enjoyed the advantages of a thorough drilling in Latin and Greek, and even now I can repeat whole books of the “Æneid” of Virgil and the “Iliad” of Homer. I could scan Latin or Greek verse with as much fluency as I can now sing a Methodist hymn; and I could find the square root of a given number with as much precision in my youthful days as I could drive a centre with my rifle.
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