Chapter Five in this series covers some of the more interesting parts of the county’s earliest history. In 1874, a book was written by Christian Cackler, one of the very first settlers, titled Recollections of an Old Settler. The chapters are my divisions and most of what I include is taken word for word though some has been changed for ease of reading. You will find the previous chapter links below.
The writer came into this county on the 10th day of May,1804, then a vast, unbroken wilderness, filled with wild men and wild beasts. At this period there were forty Indians to every white man and not a house in Franklin township. Aaron Olmsted of Hartford, CT, purchased 16,000 acres in 1798 for 12 and ½ cents per acre. The township has been a rather unlucky one. In the summer of 1807, Mr. Olmsted and Mr. John Campbell came here to find a suitable spot for the county seat. They selected a rise of ground a little north of the upper cemetery for the county seat and Olmsted committed to bearing the cost of building the court house on this parcel of land. Unfortunately, he took ill when he arrived home and died. Had it not been for this circumstance, the seat would undoubtedly have been located here and we would today be reaping the benefits of thereof.
The first mill was built in 1807 and began running the following year. In 1811, a millwright named Powers was employed by the owner. He was genteel looking and full of manners but he soon found out that it would not do to wait for manners so much. Provisions were scarce and hard to get, and when meal time came, every one pitched in and helped himself. One day, my brother-in-law George Nighman killed a deer and brought it in. A good mess of it was cooked. The call was given; all came with a quick step, sat down and began to help themselves. It was not long before the millwright got choked, became black in the face, and got up gagging and strangling as if for dear life. The rest of the company set to help him by pounding him on the back, and some got hold of his throat and tried to force the meat up, but all in vain. They began to think they were going to lose their millwright. Finally, as a last resort, they got him out of doors on a big stump and had him jump from it. The third jump brought up the meat and saved the man.
The first lawsuit in the place was between Christian Cackler Sr. and David Lilly. They both lived near Sandy Lake. Lilly had a piece of oats adjoining the lake which was not fenced on the lake side. The said Cackler’s geese got into the oats, whereupon Lilly killed a number of them. He claimed there was no law for geese. Cackler claimed that geese were property and he must pay for them. Lilly refused. A lawsuit ensued before Esquire Haymaker. Lilly stood out for some time, but finally settled by paying two shillings a head and costs.
In the summer of 1817, a school house was built by the inhabitants on the east side of the river. It was used as a school and meeting house by all parties and sects for some time until a man by the name of Elliott came along and preached a sermon. He was a very smart man and well educated. All liked his preaching except Deacon Andrews, and to sound him a little closer, he gave him a text to preach from when he came again. It was the 8th chapter of Romans and part of the 9th. It was soon noised about that Deacon Andrews had given Elliott a text to preach from, and there was a large gathering to hear him. He commenced to explain his text when the Deacon arose and disputed him. Elliott told him if he would sit down till he got through, he would answer any question he might ask, so the Deacon sat down again. After meeting, he started off without asking any question. The next Sabbath they gathered as usual, but the house was locked. They sent for Deacon Andrews or the key, but he would not go or let the key go. He said he would not have such abominable preaching in the house of God. He had been the leading deacon previous to that time, and it created a feeling that was not soon forgotten. It became a fearful warfare, but finally the Deacon compromised by paying back all that the others had paid towards building the house.
This town was noted for its pious streaks in the early days. In 1825, I think, there was a man by the name of Brown who worked in the mill. He went out one Sunday on the east side of the river near Cherry Hill. It was in the fall of the year when chestnuts were ripe and he went to picking them up. One Loomis Andrews – a son of the Deacon before mentioned – saw him and entered complaint for Sabbath breaking. A summons was issued and Brown was brought before the court, which could do no less than fine him $1.00 and costs. It was generally supposed that young Loomis was out in the woods for the purpose of getting chestnuts himself.
Next week = Interesting Highlights of the History of Franklin County Part II