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The Days of the Pioneers in Fairfield and Pickaway

Brobst Family Records, The Brobst History Copied June 14, 1938. By Anna Brobst Town. Gift of Mrs. Howard L. Town - 2/58.

The following newspaper article was copied from an old newspaper, which was loaned me by my cousin, Clara Crumley Christy, whose mother was my father's sister, Aunt Ella Brobst Crumley. The article was written by my Grandfather Brobst who was born in Berks Co. Penn., a son of Jacob and Catharine Brobst. When a small child they moved from Penn. in two covered wagons to settle in Bloom Twp. Fairfield Co., O. The article tells of the pioneers in Fairfield and Pickaway Counties during the early times of Ohio. It is titled: "The Days of the Pioneers in Fairfield and Pickaway." by Peter Brobst, Esq.

Peter Brobst, Esq. of Madison Twp. This county, came to Bloom Twp., Fairfield Co., near the line of Pickaway, when a small boy, grew up with the country, and is perfectly familiar with the trials and triumphs of the Pioneer settlers. In a recent interview with him, we gathered the following personal reminiscences;

"My Father Jacob Brobst was born in Berne Twp., Berks Co. PA, March 22 1783; and was married on the 15 day of January 1804, to Katharine Glick, daughter of Daniel Glick, who was born in the same locality, Oct. 2,1873. They were the parents of eight children, four of whom are now living. My father died March 24,1830 at the age of 47, Mother surviving until April 29,1861 in her 78th year.

In the year 1807, Father and Mother and three children, Sally, Jacob and myself emigrated from their native heath in Berks Co., Pa. to Ohio, and located upon a tract of 160 acres of land in Bloom Twp., Fairfield Co., where the village of Marcy is now situated, part of the land now in the possession of my brother, David Brobst. My maternal Grandfather, Daniel Glick, having come out the previous year and brought the land at $2.50 per acre. We moved into a cabin on the premises built by a settler named Mix. It was constructed of round logs, with puncheon floor, wooden chimney, etc. Father made bedsteads of poles. Some fifteen or twenty families also removed to the same locality, from the same neighborhood in Berks Co., Pa. about the same time, viz. The Glicks, Swanders, Curts, Woodrings, Halls, Nothstines, Runkles, Beerys and others, the ancestry of persons bearing those names in Fairfield, Pickaway and other counties.

They raised a little corn the first season, but no wheat, as deer were too plentiful for wheat raising; but as soon as wheat could be grown successfully, it was made a specialty. They first pounded their grain into meal, on a hominy block, with iron wedges, and sifted it through a buck-skin, in which holes were cut for the purpose.

In 1813, David Wright made a corn crusher of two stones, about 18 inches in diameter, one fastened to a frame and the other turned by a crank, on which I helped to grind corn when a mere boy, and found it hard work. There were mills on streams, but it was not always possible to get to them, and by grinding ourselves it saved us the toll, which was quite an item.

About 1814, we began raising considerable wheat and my father and uncles, Daniel and Solomon Glick built a flat bottom boat, near Foresman's Mill, near the present town of Ashville, loaded it with 300 barrels of flour and rafted it down to News Orleans. The water had to be high before they could cross the dam below Circleville. They only realized $1.05 per barrel. The next year they shipped with Dick Hooker, but did no better. In 1817, they secured a contract to supply the Old Penitentiary at Columbus, O., with flour, and hauled flour there for a number of years. G Young's and father Glick, at the same time, furnished the Penitentiary with meat. In 1816, Grandfather Glick built a mill on Little Walnut, on the site where Young's now have a flouring mill. My father also hauled wheat to Sandusky City and lower Sandusky, now Fremont O., on sleds in winter about 1819. We had to go to Zanesville for our salt, exchanging a four-horse load of wheat to Lancaster, to trade for leather, but it would not buy a whole side of sole leather, and as we had neither money nor anything else to pay the difference, the leather was cut to the amount. Our wheat was all reaped with a hook, and it was not unusual to see thirty hands together reaping.

My father was called out in the war of 1812, but was gone only a few days when it closed. My Uncles, Daniel and Solomon Glick, were in this War, under General Harrison, the former as Drum Major.

We had much trouble with the wild hogs, which then abounded. When pork was needed, Father would go out and kill one, but if a vicious hog was near, it was advisable to climb a tree with the greatest alacrity.

For some years we boys wore buck-skin breeches and rounda-bouts, and in winter, moccasins also of buck-skins. Father was a tailor by trade and made our clothing. He also tailored for the neighbors, charging $l.50 for making an overcoat.

Mother made frequent trips to Lancaster on horseback, with the chickens strung by the legs and thrown across the horse, and generally sold her load to Straub & Steinman, tavern keepers, at five cents for the chickens, five cents per pound for the butter and three cents a dozen for the eggs.

Myself and a neighbor boy, both then about fifteen years of age had an encounter with a wild cat near our house. We had a dog with us, but the cat all most got the best of him first, and attacked my companion, seized him by the leg, lacerating it very badly. I hastened and procured an iron spike when our dog again came to the rescue, and we succeeded in releasing the other boy from his perilous position, and killed the animal.

When my father built a better tenement than the rude log cabin, there were yet no saw mills near, and two men were employed to saw out the boards for flooring, with a common cross-cut saw, called a hooksaw. A scaffold was built, the logs were rolled upon it, one man standing above and the other beneath it and in this manner the boards were sawed, at 25 cents per hundred feet.

In 1825, Father and Uncles drove about 900 head of hogs to Baltimore, which they bought at $l.25 and $1.50 per hundred. The hogs were swung into heavy straps and weighed with steel-yards, one at a time. They were on the road sixty days and sold the hogs in Baltimore, at $2.70 per hundred, except about one hundred which became crippled and unable to travel, and were sold on the route. I went along as a hand and received $20.00 for the trip. It took eleven days to walk home. While in Baltimore, we ascended Washington's Monument, 300 feet.

After returning from this trip my Father's health was so impaired that he was not again able for active pursuits and necessary duties, most of which devolved upon me.

In 1828, Father bought the farm on which I now live, in Madison Twp., Pickaway Co., then comprising 160 acres, for $1500, which brother Daniel and myself paid for. About this time, I commenced furnishing flour and provisions to Heyl Russell and Armstrong, who kept the principal taverns in Columbus, and continued to do so every two weeks, during the Winter for fifteen years, receiving $1.25 and $1.35 per hundred for flour. Columbus then had a small market house on High St. near where is the present State House, but not much system of marketing connected with it.

In the Winter of 1829, I hauled to Columbus 400 bushels of wheat, which Father had contracted to M.L. Sullivant, at 50 cents a bushel. His mill was on the west side and the bridge across the river was made of plank laid on trestle work, with no protection on the sides.

There were no bridges across the creeks in those days, and frequently when the streams were up, I ran narrow chances several times swimming the stream. In 1831 or '32, I had a close escape in crossing Bib Belly or Big Walnut, with a load of flour, drawn by five horses. There were two fords, and I nearly missed both of them as the creek was much swollen. At the time, the ice got loose and came against the horses, almost producing a disaster. On one trip, my younger brother, David, then a boy, accompanied me. When we came to Big Walnut, it was high and David said he would not go across. The wagon had a high bed with English sides. I got rails and placed on top of the wagon, piled flour thereon, told my brother to get on top and look straight ahead, which he did, and we rode the swift stream in safety to the other side.

When father died in 1830 there was a debt of $l000.00 on the farm which I succeeded in removing by many "hard knocks." I performed various kinds of labor, making thousands of rails for 25 cents per hundred, splitting as many as 516 in one day. For ordinary work, we received 25 cents per day. I helped to build probably forty or more log cabins, and assisted in other buildings. Have participated in log-rolling, etc., innumerable.

During eight to ten years I made one or two trips a year to Sandusky City and Lower Sandusky, now Fremont, with flour and liquor, the latter distilled from rye of our own raising, receiving money for the articles. I generally stopped at Armstrong's Tavern, near Lower Sandusky, said to have been built by the Indians, which is still standing, and now owned by Thomas Reber. On one occasion while there, at Walker's Tavern, Upper Sandusky, about 500 Indians, from the reservation came suddenly into the town. They drove a stake in the ground, placed a young Indian in kneeling position by it ,and tied him to the stake. Seven Indians were then given guns, all loaded but one, and at the command of the leader, fired at the Indian, killing him instantly, a ball entering his breast. Then taking the dead body, the entire crowd disappeared in a few moments. The young Indian, who was not more than 16 years of age, had brained an Indian boy with a tomahawk, killing him. I was an eye witness of the execution, standing not more than ten steps distant, with Walker, who was on the most friendly terms with the Indians, and had an Indian Squaw wife.

When enroute on these trips I frequently passed close by the spot where Crawford was burned by the Indians in Wyandotte Co., seven or eight miles from Upper Sandusky. In the fall of 1882 I was at the Centennial celebration held in commemoration of Crawford's memory and there met four of the eldest citizens of the locality and had a discussion as to the exact place where the burning occurred, two of them agreeing with me, that the burning was on the opposite side of the road from the monument erected.

I had but limited educational advantages, my entire schooling only a few months at a German School. The first schoolhouse in our neighborhood was a wooden structure, built near the center of the settlement, embracing an area of about three miles square, in Pickaway Co., about one mile North of Marcy, the first schools were all German. The teacher was paid by those who sent their children, at 25 cents per scholar, never realizing more than about $8.00 per month to the teacher. About 1832, we had the first English school, near where the Glick church now stands, in Bloom Twp., Fairfield Co.

The first church in our neighborhood was erected in 1809, by the Lutherans and built of logs, the organization then arid now known as the Glick Church, and from this society, two other churches sprang, St. John's at Lithopolis, and Trinity at Marcy, all three under one pastoral charge. Our first minister, or missionary was Rev. Foster and the succeeding pastors as follows: Revs. Henkle, Jacob Leist, also missionaries Stake, Wagenhals, (now living at Lancaster at an advanced age) Mogel, Eirich, Harter, and J. Becker, present pastor.

In 1823 I joined the Light Horse Company, in Fairfield, and in 1832, joined a similar military organization composed of citizens of Madison, Walnut, Washington, and Saltcreek Twp., in Pickaway Co., and was commissioned officer, in the company as follows: Second Lieutenant, Commission dated February 1, 1836, signed by Robert Lucas, Governor of Ohio; First Lieutenant, Commission dated Sept. 4, 1837, signed by Joseph Vance, Governor; Captain, Commission dated April 26, 1841, signed by Thomas Corwin, Governor."

The life of Mr. Brobst has been an active and busy one, and even now at his age he is possessed of more life and energy than many persons of not more than half his years. We can say without exaggeration, that he has discharged fully his duty to his family, his friends, to the community, and his country. His character has stood the test of long years, and bears no strain. Believing in what was true, he has practiced that which is just, generous and kind, he has rendered assistance to the needy and distressed. Endowed with excellent common sense, he has been decidedly and eminently a practical man. A careful and safe counsellor, his advice and experience have been often sought by neighbors and acquaintances, his good sense and conciliatory measures saving many troubles and disputes.

He has frequently served as a juryman in our Courts, and more just and impartial juryman never sat in the box. He was Foreman of the Grand Jury, nearly thirty years ago, when for some sinister purposes, an effort was made by some of the jury, aided by outside pressure, to indict the County Treasurer, for alleged unlawful use of the funds (before the present stringent law was enacted), and Mr. Brobst was largely instrumental in defeating the vindictive scheme.

He served eleven years successfully as Trustee of Madison Twp., and held other local positions of honor and trust.

In politics, he has ever been a staunch, unwavering, earnest Democrat from the good old Jackson days, often a Delegate in convention, and exerting an effective influence in every campaign. In 1881, he was urged to become a candidate for the nomination of County Commissioner, but declined the use of his name in the convention.

He has been from youth a zealous, consistent member of the Lutheran Denomination, honored by the church in an official and representative capacity.

These records are in the library of the Western Reserve Historical Society. Gift of Mrs. Howard L. Town, Feb. 1958.

This article appeared in Volume 1, Number 3, Third Quarter 1992, Brobst Genealogy News.


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