Marriage and Farming and Bears – OH MY!

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This is Chapter Nine in the series Recollections of an Old Settler written by Christian Cackler, one of the first settlers in Portage County, which I have kept in first person. See bottom of page for Chapter Eight.

 In 1807 I was bound out to remain until twenty-one that I might help earn provisions for the family. The War of 1812 having broken out about the time I finished my servitude, I enlisted on the 22nd day of August, 1812, and remained in the service till Perry’s victory on the 10th of September, 1813, a period of one year and twelve days. I was married soon after my return, and lived on Darrow Street during the following winter. In the spring of 1815, I cut my foot so badly that I did but very little work that summer.

On the first day of January 1816, we moved to the place where I now live. In moving, our furniture proved no inconvenience; my wife had a bed, I had an axe. I added to this three white cups and saucers, costing seventy-five cents, three knives and forks, and a wooden pail. These were the first things I ever purchased. The woman who lived with us gave three wooden plates and a kettle to cook our victuals in. My wife’s father also gave us a table, which completed our ‘set out.’

cutting tree

I ran in debt for 50 acres of land, at $3.50 per acre, a deed of which I did not get for seventeen years, and the interest was therefore greater than the principal. I did not have a hoof on the place for three years. I went to clearing my land by cutting out the small timber, which, together with the old logs, I burned, after which I girdled the standing timber, and split my rails. I had no team to haul them with, so I backed them to the line of my fences. Having thus cleared and fenced my farm, I got Alexander Stewart to do my plowing. I planted corn and worked it entirely with the hoe. The birds and animals were so numerous that it required constant vigilance to save any of it. It was a constant warfare, and at best, I could get but the smallest half. It was trying to a man’s patience and courage to work that way. We depended on the woods for our meats and got our bread wherever we could.

wildhogs_tnIn the summer of 1817, I bought two hogs which we watched closely most of the time, in order to prevent their being devoured by bears. One day, I was away from home and the hogs had the liberty to stray farther away from home than usual. My wife heard them coming as if some one was after them, and on looking out, saw a bear close to their heels, doing his best to catch them. They came into the dooryard, closely followed by the bear, and my wife ran out and hallooed at them as loud as she could (she could rival an Indian), but the bear did not abandon his chase.

Bear-BlackIt so happened that one of my neighbor’s hogs got in with mine, and the bear picked him up and carried him off, the porker kicking and squealing with a vengeance. He did not seem to like the noise made by my wife, but he did like the pork. He carried the hog about fifty rods, when he laid it down and killed it and then dragged it into a swamp and ate what he wanted. When I came home I took my gun and followed after, but only found the remains of his meal.

My wife and I were married in 1814 and lived and toiled together fifty-five years. After my wife’s death, I made a will and the estimated value of our property was $30,000. We had 12 children, all of whom grew up to be men and women save one – he died when two years old. There are now (in 1870) eight of them living.

Next Week: An Unfortunate Indian Incident or What Happens When Crossing the Line Of Honesty

Previous Chapter: A Boy, A Shanty, and A Gun

 

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