Early experiences with Indians in county

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.

 

By R.L. HEMINGER

 

The Job Chamberlin reminiscences of early days in Findlay and Hancock County tell much about the Indians whom the settlers encountered.

“Some of the Indians had their ears cut from ear-lap about half way around the rim, but not cut loose at either end,” he wrote. “The flesh would heal and hang in a cord in which they would place their rings.

“They wore moccasins on their feet, made of well-dressed deer skin, handsomely ornamented with beads cut from porcupine quills, colored green, red, etc., and beautifully arranged around the ankle and over the top of the moccasins. Some wore a silver tube 3 or 4 inches long and about 1 inch in diameter, on the top of their head, held erect by drawing the hair firmly through it.

“The warriors would occasionally paint their cheeks red, with a red stripe over each eyebrow, one down the bridge of the nose and one on the chin. The whites thought these marks significant of war and that the Indians thus marked were the allies of some warring tribes of the past. Some of the whites were fearful that they would be victims but they were never molested except in a few personal encounters.”

Mr. Chamberlin then told of one such encounter brought on by a white man taunting an Indian who had a little too much fire water.

The writer recalled that in the summer of 1832, many of the citizens of Hancock County became alarmed on account of the letter “B” on the oat leaves.

“As it was the summer of the Black Hawk war on the Mississippi River, conjecture ran high,” wrote Mr. Chamberlin. “Some of the more superstitious thought that as the letter ‘B’ was the initial letter of Black Hawk, it might have been given as a warning of danger by ‘Him through whom all things are.’ They conjectured that the Indians were contemplating massacre of the whites, who were so sparsely settled throughout northern Ohio. Others thought it was just one of nature’s freaks and were not alarmed.”

One farmer even took his family and a horse and fled to other territory, according to Mr. Chamberlin.

The problem of water was a major one for the early settlers. When they first came, the Chamberlins had to go to Eagle Creek, a distance of a half mile, to get a supply of water.

Mr. Chamberlin said his father got a well drilled the second year after he came. He found an opening in the rock near his house. It was about a foot wide. He commenced his well by breaking the stone on each side of the opening until he got the proper size for a well hollowed out. He eventually blasted and finally struck water at 20 feet. The water was excellent, Mr. Chamberlin said.

Fish were plentiful in the streams, according to the account. There were small suckers, “red horse,” sturgeon, white and black bass, pickerel, catheads, gars and catch. A sturgeon the father caught once weighed 49 pounds. Others caught in other areas weighed as high as 70 pounds.

Mr. Chamberlin in the first of his reminiscences tells of the pioneer methods of providing clothing.

“The first settling on the hill and for years afterwards, the pioneers were under the necessity of making their own clothing by raising wool and flax and reducing them to cloth,” he wrote. “Instead of the music of the pianoforte and organ, which is so common nowadays throughout the county, was heard the music of the spinning wheel as it was constantly humming the notes of industry and usefulness. The matrons would sit day by day spinning the little wheel which was adapted to spinning flax. The young girls would operate the big wheel which spun the wool, which was brought into rolls by hard cards.”

Medicines used for cure of sicknesses were chiefly garden herbs, according to Mr. Chamberlin, who went on to say:

“The castor bean was raised and made into oil by mashing the beans well and then putting them into a kettle of hot water and boiling them. The oil would rise to the top and was then skimmed off and boiled until the water was all out of it. Our mothers managed the sicknesses until the coming of Dr. Bass Rawson, who was the first regular physician to practice in Findlay.”

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