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That is precisely my condition to-day. I do not know that I am able to utter a single sentence here that will be worth your listening to. There is one thing, however, I wish to state distinctly, that I am a pioneer in the veriest sense of that word. And yet I am told that I have no right to associate with the pioneers that are assembled here to-day. I have been told
that I was a kind of an outside barbarian.
I have been here, however, fifty years. I was in the country
as early as 1830, and can say a few things in relation to life
as it existed here at that time. It was the most interesting period of my life. I had nothing, and was not looking for anything in this world, and have not been very much disappointed in that respect (laughter), but there was a life there that was interesting to me. I was in Portage county, and it seems to me that I have rarely in my later experience seen a better order of men than those that inhabited the then wilderness of
that country. There was no money. I recollect when wheat sold for three shillings a bushel. There were certain articles that they could buy by paying barter. Muskrat skins! skunk skins! yes, probably skunk skins were currency at that time (laughter), but when it came to tea and leather, I recollect
that we had to scrape around and get the money for those
There never was a more accomodating, kind-hearted set of men and women in the world than inhabited the country at that time, and I am rejoiced that we are having this kind of associations as a kind of souvenir and a remembrancer of that
class of men and women to whom this Western Reserve is so
largely indebted for that refined and cultivated civilization it enjoys to-day. There were very few privileges. Everything was plain. If a neighbor was in trouble, wanted a barn raised, they would come five and ten miles to help him. If there was to be a logging, to gather together the logs, why, all the neighborhood would turn out and cheerfully assist a neighbor in performing his work. It cultivated a spirit of kindness, prohably springing from the fact that every man felt that he was dependent upon his neighbor for a living. All was simple. I recollect how they used to kindle tires. They had no loco-foco matches in those days. I recollect I went to see an uncle of mine, and he started a fire in the morning-I guess that is a little ahead, maybe, of you pioneers who had a village here to start with.
We hitched the old mare on the log; there were two doors in the log cabin, and the fire-place extended across the cabin; the old mare drew on the back log; then the forestick was drawn and put on the fire, and a fire was built that lasted for three or four days.
Well, we had religion then. I think I was more pious in
those days than I have been since. (Laughter.) I know that
those old Methodist preachers, who came round with their leggings all covered with mud, used to meet at the school
house, and there was a kind of earnestness about them, a force
and incisiveness in their talk that made a very deep and power
ful impression upon my young mind at that time, more so than since. (Laughter). There was no ostentation, no display; everything plain and straightforward. I recollect that there was a period during that early history when religion was the main topic of conversation. Every old farmer who was interested in religious matters, had a rusty old book in his pocket, and there was a controversy between my Brother Hayden's sect, called Campbellites at that time, and the Orthodox, and many a long, tedious struggle have I heard between them. Every man was gifted upon that subject. They would quote the text of scripture, fire and fire back, and it was entertaining and instructive, and cultivated a very high moral feeling in all classes of the community. Well, that was one
time. We had no particular excitements. There were plenty
of deer and plenty of bears and plenty of wolves. I think I never shall forget while I live when I came in from Connecticut, and from the civilized portion of the world, to stay with my grandfather. I recollect one night of hearing the wolves howl, and I would have given the whole United States if I could have gotten out of Ohio. (Laughter.) It was the most heart-sinking sound that I ever heard in my life. Now you will see, my friends, that I am a pioneer, and I don't under
stand, my friend Rice, why I should be shut out from this society of yours.
I recollect that first time I came to Cleveland. It looked about as large to me, coming out of the woods, as it does today. Judge Spaulding was with me, and I will tell the story for the purpose mainly of illustrating how hard it was to have a little money in one's pocket, in those days. The Judge came along to me and said he, “I wish you would come to Cleveland with me.
I sprang at once at the offer to see Cleveland, We journeyed along all day and finally reached Cleveland late, in the evening. I think we stayed one night. Said the Judge to me: “Don't you want some oysters?" "Why, yes.” I had not seen an oyster since I was a small boy. (Laughter.) Said I, "Yes, I will be glad of it." I took it that he had plenty of
So we went over, I think, to a man by the name of Cozzens who kept a sort of saloon, and asked him if he had oysters. He said he had. He gave each of us a dish of oysters, and we ate them, and by that time I began to feel very well. (Laughter.) He came around and said he, “Won't you have some more?" Said I: Yes, I will have some more." (Laughter.) I looked across the table to the Judge, and I saw that his head fell, and I took the hint in a moment that the funds were out. (Laughter.) Said I: “No, I think I have had enough. I won't take any more." (Laughter.) Afterwards I inquired of the Judge what it was that made his
countenance fall as it did. “Why,” said he, “ I had made my calculations and had paid the bill, and had got just exactly enough to get those two dishes of oysters and get home, and I hadn't a cent left, and when you called for another dish of oysters I was broke." (Laughter.)
I recollect the hardships which the farmers had to endure. There were no carriages-in fact, no roads. I have seen in those days a man load his family on a stone-boat, and when
it came Sunday start off to the school-house. They would
hitch the horses on to the stone-boat.
You know what that
is; they used to call them drags in Connecticut. The whole
family, on account of the mud, would get on to that stone-boat and ride to church. That is one of the hardships they had to
endure at that time.
Well, now, gentlemen, I am not going to talk here any longer. I can see and feel myself that I am not getting ahead much. (Laughter.) But I can assure you of one thing: That there is no organization that has interested me more than this one that you are here to-day for the purpose of strenghtening
and perpetuating. These old pioneers should be remembered.
We are as much indebted to them as to any class of men that have lived upon the face of the earth, and I rejoice with you that there is a spirit at last awakening by which their memory is to be preserved and perpetuated. Thanking you
for your patience, I leave you.