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A REMINISCENCE

by

Julia A. Mauk

June 10, 1922




Four-score years, and more, have passed

Since first I saw the light;

It was early spring when the grass was green,

And the sun shone warm and bright.

The journey has been long and uneven the way,

And heavy affliction's load

But flowers have bloomed, birds have sung,

And friends have cheered along the road.

Now it is evening time,

The sun sinks low in the west.

The journey's end is just over the hill--

It will be sweet to get home and rest.

When overtaken by affliction or old age, and all shut in, not able to work or read but little, and in a measure out off from outside associations and with nothing to do but think, it is then that memory carries us back to the.......

Gold, halcyon, dreaming days,

When life was young and fair,

When all around seemed pure and good,

E'er doubts had centered there.

When growing up from childhood to mature years, and even to old age, it is well to take close observation of things about us, and always look for the things which are best, pure, good, and beautiful along life's journey, and lay up a goodly store in memory's storehouse, to draw upon for pastime, when the lonely days come to us, and we feel that we are all down and out.

By request, I will try to write a little pioneer reminiscence of the Fairview Community, and the little log church in the southern part of Hocking County, Ohio.

When my parents, George and Mary Mauk, were young, they ran a whiskey distillery for a few years in Morgan County, Ohio. They said they were making lots of easy money and might have become rich by sticking to the business, but they had learned the nefariousness of the business and said "We will quit and go into the wilderness, and build a home on an honorable foundation."

Therefore, in the spring of 1838, they, with four small children, moved from Morgan County to Hocking County. They bought forty acres of land from Uncle Sam, one mile east of Cedar Falls. They had a cabin home built, and a stable for their horses and cows, right in the heart of the great forest. When they came, there was no road, not even a footpath leading to their home. From Logan, Ohio, they had to search out the way and cut their roadway as they drove across the hills and valleys.

Oh, the beauty and grandeur of the mystic woods before the woodsmen came with their axes and saws to cut and slay! There were great oaks which required so many years to grow; white oaks, black oaks, chestnut oaks, and pine oaks; maples, hickory, walnuts, chestnuts, cherry, and the majestic poplars which grew so straight, smooth and tall above the other trees, and so many kinds of pretty trees and shrubbery, too numerous to name; so many kinds of pretty vines, flowers, grasses, and the great climbing and spreading grapevine with its clusters of delicious fruit.

In the springtime the woodland hills were pretty, clothed in new green with here and there a dogwood, a wild plum, and a May cherry clothed in pure white, and the crab apple in red, white, and pink. The whole air was redolent with the odor of bloom and new growth all about.

The woods seemed all alive with the chatter and songs of birds, and the drumming of the pretty little pheasant, which sounded like distant thunder. One had to wonder how such a pretty little fowl could make such a loud sound. Later in the summer the whole woods were alive with wild pigeons. They would fly in such large flocks it was like a black cloud passing over, and the swish of their wings sounded like a heavy windstorm.

A childhood and youthful ramble among the big trees and bushes, over the hills and along the babbling brooks and down the gorge around the Cedar Falls, gives a thrill of joy to the close observer, which always stays, even down to old age. I found a trailing arbutus in a secluded place, under the shade of the evergreen trees. I simply absorbed its fragrance and beauty until it became a part of me, and I have it stored away as a memento right from the hand of the Creator. There was another little beauty, which I fell greatly in love with-- the little myrtle which grows among the rocks, with its pretty green leaves and scarlet berries, trailing so gracefully over the rock. I just wanted to take it home with me and keep it forever, but it could not live out of its native soils and shady nook. But with a backward look, I can still see it growing there.

When the shades of night had shut out the light of day, it was grand to sit in the cabin door, or on the woodpile outside, and listen to the barking of the fox, and the yowl of the wildcat on the distant hills, the song of the whippoorwill and the hoo! hoo! of the big horned owl near by. It was their nature to sleep in the day and prowl around at night. The moon and stars were shining and twinkling down, casting a beautiful sheen over all around, making a pretty landscape picture after night. Then the wonder was, from whence cometh all this life-giving energy? A still small voice seemed to say "It was God above who formed them all." By his creative powers he made the moon, the stars, the earth, and the little fragrant flowers.

There is beauty in the woodland hills;

There is grandeur in the plains;

There is music in the rippling rills,

And mystery in the mountain chains.

When we can rise up out of self,

And hear God's low sweet voice,

And see his greatness in his works,

It bids our souls rejoice.

"Eye hath not seen, ear hath no heard,"

And nothing on earth can compare

With the beauty and glory of the upper world,

Then what must it be to be there?

Our house was built on the south side of a hill, near the top, with a good view of surrounding hills. There was no dwelling near, or none in sight. It was built of round logs, and was eighteen feet square. It had one window, one door, a puncheon floor, and an open fireplace in one side, which was built outside to give more space inside. The chimney was topped out with sticks and mud, with a lugpole run through, and a chain attached to it with a hook on the lower end to hang pots and kettles on, in which to boil and cook things. This was the only room for all household use, accepting the attic, where the boys slept. They like Jacob's angels, which he saw in his dreams, ascended and descended upon a ladder. From the boy's sleeping attic there grew four honorable and useful citizens. The first was a blacksmith, a carpenter, and farmer, and a natural genius. The second was a doctor. The third was a druggist, and the fourth a preacher. Three of them were soldiers of the Civil War. One lost a foot in the Battle of Chickamauga.

Matches were not in style among the first pioneers. Each household aimed to keep the home fire burning all the time. If it happened to go out, they took some pine silvers, flax tow, or punk, a flint and a piece of steel a struck a fire from a spark. It was not so quickly done as with a match, but was more interesting.

There were no fenced-in pasture fields in those days. The owners of stock marked their cattle, sheep, and hogs, and turned them into the free-for-all woods pasture. Each owner had his mark recorded at the county seat. Father's mark was a swallow-fork in the left ear. Some of the poor animals had both ears pretty much cut away by the mark of their owner. They put a bell on the best leader of the sheep, and that kept the flock together. They put a loud sounding bell on the cow, so if she did not come home at evening time, they could more easily find her. In the fall the hogs fattened themselves, ready for butchering, on acorns.

The early settlers mostly lived quite a distance apart, but were closely united by the bond of a common brotherhood and sisterhood, and the spirit of helpfulness. As soon as possible they united together and built a little log schoolhouse, where they sent their children to get book learning, that they might grow up to be more intelligent and useful citizens.

There was a community doctor, a German, by the name of Flaxbeard. He was a good surgeon and a pretty good doctor. There was also a community lady doctor, Mrs. Katie Haas, who looked after the women and babies when they needed help. Henry Bainter was the "Tooth Doctor." He pulled teeth by the cant hook method. When anyone had a tooth which became an unbearable burden, he could lift it out, root and all, free of charge.

William Large was the first undertaker in that community. He made the coffins to order as needed, of the best cherry or walnut lumber he had. There were no showy caskets, or fine hearses to bear them to the tomb, but the departed ones all received respectable burial. They received kindly remembrances and flowers while living, when they could appreciate them, rather than having them heaped upon their coffins, and spread upon their newly made mounds in the graveyard. Aaron Hainesworth, Jr., gave the lot for the cemetery, joining the church lot. His child was the first one buried there, and his wife was next. A few years later, his father, Aaron Hainesworth, Sr., was laid away there in September of 1849, at the age of 76 years. His works do follow him. He sowed the good seed from which others have gathered a rich harvest. "How blest the righteous when he dies." In the year 1855 his wife, at the age of 78, was laid by his side. On a beautiful Thanksgiving Day in the year 1888, William Large, after a long and useful life of 99 years and 9 months, was laid away in the Fairview Cemetery, beside his estimable wife, who preceded him thirty years.

The young people were always cheerful and glad. They seemed to get the thrill of joy from living so near to nature, with its great beauty and mystery. They helped to clear the fields, cultivate the crops, and gather in the harvest. By honest labor, they were casting their mite into the foundation on which our great nation is built. They had their seasons of recreation, and good social times at each others homes. They had spelling schools where they met to spell, and singing schools where they learned to sing. There were community dances, but church members and the refined class of people never attended them.

In our home, the long winter evenings mostly found us all at home having a pleasant time together with books, slates, pencils, copy books, and goose quill pens, working out the problem of things about us and planning for improvements. Sometimes Father would play the fife soft and low, and Mother would keep time with the buzz of her little spinning wheel. When bedtime came, Father would read a portion of scripture, or lead in singing some good inspiring hymn, and he or Mother would offer up a prayer of thanksgiving for past blessings, and a petition for future protection and guidance.

All the people, old and young, were then learning the gospel of labor, thrift and self-reliance, but were lacking, and needing Christ's gospel of the golden rule, the only thing which would lift men and women up to their best selves and make a community, a state, or a nation a safe and desirable place in which to live.

Aaron Hainesworth, Sr., then living in the community, and filled with a Christian and missionary spirit, went to my parents and asked if he could hold a religious meeting at their home, to which they willingly consented, although they were not Christians or members of any church, and had very little house room. So he held meetings, and quite a number attended them. He sang and prayed and read the Scriptures and exhorted them to follow its teachings. As the people took quite an interest in the work, he sent for a preacher to come and help him. One by the name of Brock came and preached for them, and organized a class of six members-- Aaron Hainesworth, Sr., and wife; James Reed and wife, and George Mauk and wife. This constituted the members of Perry Circuit, Scioto Conference, of the United Brethren Church, and they were entitled to the services of the circuit preacher. The first who came was Reverend McCabe who preached once in four weeks, part of the time on week days. The people then took time to quit work for a few hours and attend the meetings. Occasionally, they would hold the meetings in the schoolhouse, then school was not in session. Our house was the regular meeting place for about twelve years-- six years in the cabin. Then Father bought more land and built a larger house of hewed logs, so then we had more room for ourselves and the meeting folks, too. About that time Barney Eidson moved into the community from North Carolina, and united with the church and they were willing workers, and had the preaching at their house part of the time.

There was a nice little grove only a few rods from his house, where the meetings were held in summer when the weather was fair. Sometimes they would hold a two or three day meeting. At night, they hung their candles and lamps on the bushes to give light to the audience. Those meetings were mostly true love feasts, and times of rejoicing and spiritual uplift.

Father had the gift of song, and was chosen leader of the singing, which place he filled until he passed away at the age of 73.

The church people had been talking for quite awhile about building a meeting house, and the time had come when something more must be done. So they met at our house and organized a board of trustees and planned for building. Mr. Hainesworth gave the church lot, the land owners gave the time, and Mr. William Large, who was running a sawmill at Cedar Falls, sawed and finished the lumber. Mr. Stuckey made the shingles for the roof.

They chopped down some of those beautiful, and majestic poplar trees, sawed them into logs for the house. Then they scored and hewed them, and hitched their ox teams to them and dragged them to the place of building. They set a day when they all met and raised the house. The men did the building and the women prepared the dinner on a rustic table in the woods nearby.

After a time, they secured carpenters to do the roofing, lay the floor, put in the door and windows, make the seats and a stand for the preacher. While they were at work, their wives cooked and carried many dinners one and one-half miles to feed them. They built a little stone fireplace, where they boiled water and made coffee. Mr. Eidson lived near the church and the workmen went there for dinner part of the time. Much of the work was donated, and all the dinners.

The church was lighted by tallow candles, four on each side, set in blocks nailed to the wall, and two in candlesticks set on the preacher's stand. The janitor went around and snuffed the candles a time or two during services. The evening services always began at "early candle lighting." The seats were benches made of slabs, without backs, yet no one complained of uncomfortable seats. The pioneers were made up of courage and endurance. While they were trying to make things for the better, they were also trying to make the best of what they had, and cheer the neighbor by the way.

The church was named "Fairview" on account of its location upon a pretty table land.

Before the church house was ready for services, one night some drunken hunters set the woods on fire nearby and the men and women had to go out and fight fire all night to keep the church from being all burned up. A great forest fire after night is a fearfully grand sight.

In the spring of 1852, the house was near enough finished to hold meetings in it. The chinks in the wall were not closed up, but the weather was warm, and they could get along very well. We were a happy set. Reverend Cocklin and Reverend Perkins were the preachers then. In June there was a great spiritual revival and ingathering, and a Sunday School was started up. There was a good attendance at all the services. Some walked, some rode on horseback, and some came in their farm wagons. There were no buggies or spring wagons. In winter they went in sleds and sleighs. In that age of the world, there were from four to six weeks of good sleighing snow nearly every year. When there was no snow and the nights were dark, the people lighted themselves on their way with pine torches. It was a pretty sight to see dozens of them bobbing along in the darkness across fields, along footpaths through the woods and along the roads. They looked like so many "will-o'- The-Wisps." In summer time a little song wren went in through the chinks in the wall and built herself a nest up under the rafters, and one day when we met for worship, she came out and sat on the cross beam and sang the sweetest song I ever heard in a church. She sang a solo first, and then joined in with the congregational singing.

Our home was the weary itinerant's stopping and resting place. They stopped quite often, and were always welcome. They came with a good cheer, whether sunshine or rain and left with a "God Bless You" till we meet again. They got a share of the best at hand. The corn pone and biscuits which mother baked by the fire, and the bread and pies baked in the Dutch oven built in the yard, along with the good butter and milk, eggs, fruit, and vegetables, was a meal good and wholesome enough to set before a king or good Queen Victoria.

I remember one time a preacher by the name of Joe Fink stopped with us for a rest. I was about eight years old. In the evening, we were all sitting in front of a bright hickory wood fire in the open fireplace. I was sitting at one side listening to the older people talk. The preacher took notice that I had a severe cold on my eyes and nose and said to me, "Sis, I have something here that will help your cold." He took a small bottle from his vest pocket, removed the cork, and held the bottle to my nose. I took a big whiff. It took my breath and I fell off my chair onto the floor and gave my head a hard bump. Then he laughed and made fun of my big nose, which I did not like, but said nothing, but learned right then that preachers are just human like other folks. It is well that they can see the funny side of things, to help them over the serious and difficult problems which they have to meet. When I was quite small and would see the preacher coming, I always knew he was a preacher by his traveling equipment. They all good horses and saddles, leather saddle-bags thrown across the seat of the saddle, and an umbrella strapped to the back part of it. They had cloth leggings buttoned and gartered around over their trousers to keep them clean, and a rough and ready coat, hat, and gloves. It took over a month to ride around the circuit and fill all the appointments. There were generally two of them--the preacher in charge and his colleague. The preacher in charge got three hundred dollars a year salary, and his colleague, one hundred dollars. He was always a single man. They and their horses got their lodging and boarding free, as they traveled around the circuit. Those times nearly all the preachers had a little home of their own somewhere in the hills or on the plains, which they visited occasionally.

Some of the first preachers whom I remember were Reverend Lewis Ambrosia, Reverend Conking, Reverend Perkins, Reverend Waters, Reverend Thorny, Reverend Price, Reverend McDaniel, Reverend Brundage, Reverend John Deaver, Reverend Abe Shessler, Reverend Romig, and Reverend Barges.

When the Civil War Broke out, so many of the best men an boys went to the rescue. It was very discouraging for those at home. We still had regular preaching and a few optimists kept the fire lighted on the prayer meeting altar.

When the war closed and the men and boys returned home, the people took new courage. But so many never came home, and some came in their caskets. They died for their country, true, loyal, and brave, that all might be free, and none be made slave. Reverend Noah Lohr came to us fresh from the war, as full of zeal for the salvation of souls as he was for the salvation of our country. We had some great revivals and ingatherings into the church, so that our congregation outgrew the little log house. Then it was torn away and a new frame built in its place. It was dedicated in the spring of 1868, by Bishop David Edwards.

When memory's vision carries me back

To the happy scenes of childhood,

No place more sacred appears to my view,

Than the little log church in the wildwood.

Where the pioneer families met together,

To worship Jehovah, above,

And tell the sweet story, how Jesus came,

To redeem them from sin, by his love.

They toiled in the field when laborers were few,

And the work was humble and hard;

But they strove with a purpose, strong and true,

To build up the cause of the Lord.

How many of them sleep in the churchyard nearby

Their mortal forms moundering to dust.

Their spirits have gone to the haven of rest,

To the home prepared for the just.

At the end of life's journey there's a home for the soul,

Which the Saviour has gone to prepare,

But those only who strive, and are pure in heart,

Are worthy to enter in there.

 

 

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Thomas' Birds of a Feather 2007 Last Modified August 20, 2007