Excerpt From Samuel Moore's Memoirs
Samuel Henry Moore (1864 - 11/1/1951) - G-Grandfather Joseph Moore (1765 - 4/28/1859), Grandfather Samuel Moore (1805 - 1/16/1883), father James H. Moore (1836 -1919). Samuel, James and Samuel Henry where born around Scotch Ridge. Samuel Moore moved with 5 children and families to Brimfield Twp. Peoria Co., IL about 1866. Samuel Henry Moore grew up around Brimfield IL, then moved to Corvallis OR. He was a farmer, politician and writer. This article is about his 1884 trip from Brimfield IL to Martins Ferry to visit his Mother's (Elizabeth Lewis 6/27/1842 - 12/9/1909) family.
Author’s note: Nearly 60 years ago I made the following trip and if you have never visited any of the manufacturing districts at that date----1884, you can hardly believe the conditions that existed at that time among the workmen and their families. It was hard for my young mind to believe that one human being could be so cruel to another. The worst of it was that some of my mother’s brothers were among the sufferers and there was practically no charity then. Get this in your mind. Whose fault was it that there was none? This was the reason that labor was forced to organize. I will say---labor you are in power as the organized capital was, now, don’t abuse your power as they did.
As we stand in the United States today is two per cent of it is capital, three per cent organized labor and 95 per cent “what,” I say play ball fair with one another and both capital and labor with the 95 per cent.
When labor organized, power was felt by both political parties and soon they put a stop to contract imported labor. I believe I aged 10 years at what my inexperienced mind saw on this trip. It was so impressed on my mind that I wrote this story 54 years afterward without notes.)
In the year of 1884, my grandmother became ill, and my father and mother went back from our home in Illinois to Martins’ Ferry, Ohio, to be at her bedside. While there, father priced grain, finding it to be over 30 cents difference on the bushel in price, than at home. Upon return home after my grandmother’s death, my father went to the grain dealers and found that we could ship grain back there and make a good profit. He concluded to send me to start a feed store, both wholesale and retail in Martins’ Ferry or Wheeling, W. Va.
It was decided that I was to go to Niagara Falls on one of the big excursion trips at $7.50 round trip from Peoria, Ill., 25 miles from our own station. I was to buy a ticket from Niagara Falls then to my destination. In that way it would be cheaper and I would get to see the great falls, which was considered the grandest sight in the United States. If you had not seen the “Falls,” you had not been any place. I made arrangements to go on the following week’s excursion. On hearing of my going, my uncle, his wife and two children decided to go along.
We went down to Peoria on the C. B. & Q. R. R. and there took the excursion train. Peoria is a town built on the river bottom and extending back on the bluff is picturesque. It fronts on the Illinois River in which is a wide place called Peoria Lake. It is the greatest distillery city in the United States. At one time there were 18 of those distilleries making millions of gallons of old corn whiskey. Over one hundred thousand head of cattle in the city boundary were fed on the distillery slop.
Peoria was quite a shipping point in the early days when the rivers and steamboats were depended upon for transportation. Goods were brought from New Orleans up the Mississippi river, thence up the Illinois River to Peoria, also up the Ohio or continued up the Mississippi. At the time I was there, Peoria was a prominent railroad center.
We went down to the Union dept where hundreds of people were gathered to go on these excursion trains. There were clans going. Many took baskets of lunch and their blankets and pillows. Uncle John and Aunt Susie had theirs and my mother had put up a big box for me. Everyone seemed to have a good time. They would fill up what was called sections---so many cars to the train and ours in four sections or trains. I believe they said our section had about 800 people on it. Some said there were from 700 to 1000 passengers. These trains had very few sleepers on them. This trip was a vacation for most and considering the cheap fare, which included the site of Lake Erie and the great falls, it was very worth-while outing.
Our train was stalled several times, and while waiting, we would get off and rob orchards and melon patches. When the train was ready to start, it would whistle and ring the bell and we would come running. When we would all get aboard again, the engine would start up puffing and snorting as it climbed the grades. We stopped eight times altogether and lost so much time, another train was made up by taking a few cars from each section. This lightened the pulling so we didn’t have to stop anymore and we missed getting any more apples and melons. Some times the owners came out and helped us to get the best and ripest as the ground at many places was covered with the fruit for which there was no sale. This was in Indiana. The next morning we were in northwestern Ohio. It was called the Northwest Reserve in early days, for miles it was just like a prairie. The houses and barns were large and the later seemed to be well stocked and looked prosperous. The railroad ran along Lake Erie for a long distance.
As we entered New York state the farmers were cutting oats. As this was farther north than where we lived, the seasons were later. We had all of our harvesting and threshing done and this was our leisure season.
We were all getting anxious to get to the great falls. When the train stopped 10 miles away at a little station, we could hear the roar of the falls, which was very much like the roar of the ocean. Being evening when we arrived we looked up a hotel at once. Rooms were hard to find, as there were thousands of people there on excursions the same as we were, from the South, East and West. Those who had taken sleepers remained on them, as the trains laid over for the return trip. Had it not been for the sleeping sections, hundreds of people would have had to walk the streets.
My impression of the falls was beyond words. To see what mighty amount of water came down the river and the nearer it came to the falls, the greater was the speed. A big rock divided the current, half going on the Canadian side and the other half on the American, then seemingly it jumped off into space, or it appeared to, seen from above. The roar was almost deafening as it struck the rocks below. We crossed over to the Canadian side on the big suspension bridge. The guide showed us where a man had crossed over the falls on a tight rope. How anyone dared to do such a thing is beyond my comprehension. It made me dizzy just to look at the falls from the bridge and to think that a number of men had allowed themselves to be fastened in a barrel and thrown into the river above the falls and when reaching them made the big drop. Some came out alive and some did not. It was unbelievable the amount of suicides that were probably a result of being overcome with the wonderful sight; it being just too much for their mental capacity. A path led to the back of the falls where there was a cave. From the inside of the cave, we looked out and directly in front of us the water gushed out in torrents and was beautiful to see.
It was then the custom for newlyweds to go to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon. There were lots of them when we were there. You could tell them on sight and they certainly helped to amuse the rest of us.
The falls were so immense and grand that a person could not describe it nor do it justice in telling of it. To say they are stupendous might come nearer the truth. The two days came to a close too soon.
As I said before, there were excursions from all points of the compass. I hunted up a ticket scalper’s office. This was a place where they dealt in unexpired railroad tickets, buying and selling them. Say! If you had ridden part of the ticket out, you could go to these brokers or scalpers as they were called and sell your ticket for part of its value and in turn they would sell it to someone going that way for less than he could buy the ticket from the railway company. I inquired if the they a ticket going to Martins’ Ferry, Ohio, and was told they had one within a few miles of that station, but for me just to remain on the train and ride on down and it would be all right. So I traded my ticket even up for this one, bade my uncle and family goodbye and took the train for my destination where I arrived without further cost to me. I immediately started to look up my parents’ people and found them without any difficulty.
The day following my arrival, I went out to look up the grain situation and found to my sorrow that the grain dealers of Chicago, Ill., had gotten on to it and already several carloads of oats and corn in there and were selling it out. I had looked up a building for a feed store before I found out about this. Therefore, our dream was knocked in the head.
With what business plans I had finished I concluded I’d see that part of the country and visit my relatives. I was stopping at the home of my mother’s oldest brother, John Lewis, who had been a splendid mechanic in his day. He said to me, “Do you want to walk up to the blast furnace?” It was a huge furnace where they dumped coal, iron and lime rock in at the top and melted iron ran out at the bottom. We went and I was with him when he bid on the contract to remodel this furnace. The big-feeling man in the office with whom he consulted said to my uncle, “Do you think you know enough to repair this big furnace?” and he smiled as though making fun of him.
My uncle explained to him. The man exclaimed “John Lewis!. So you are John Lewis.” Without hesitation he was told to begin work the following morning and wasn’t questioned as to the price. The man certainly had the wind taken out of him.
On the way back my uncle told me how many of the factories he had built, completing them and handing the owners the keys. His job was running the larger steam engine in the factory but this was closed for the time being. While at the furnace he said, “They hoist all the iron ore, coal and lime rock up 50 feet and dump it into the top of the furnace.” One day one of the workmen stubbed his toe and fell into that blast furnace of melted iron. He was dead before he reached the bottom. The owners held a consultation and decided that there was no way to get him out and if there were, there wouldn’t be a pants’ button left, so they ordered more coal dumped in and went on with their work.
When the coal was dumped into the top it would blaze out so high that at night the light was bright enough for us to see to pick up a pin where we were standing on the porch of a farm house where I was born, a mile and a half away.
Martins’ Ferry had more than one industry. The largest nail mill in the world was located in this little town. There were two blast furnaces, three glass manufacturing plants, paper mill, threshing-machine factories and several other industries. The glass houses were of greatest interest to me. Four of my women cousins were working in the largest, the Buckeye. One was head of the packing and shipping room, one decorating flowers, birds, etc., the other painting objects on the glass. The glass was then run through an oven and baked to make the painting permanent. The fourth cousin was a grinder or finisher. She ground the edges smooth on dishes, glasses and goblets.
I could have put in hours watching these processes. The one in the shipping room had to know her onions as she had to take orders, call out all the different places and see that they were put in a pile together, starting women wrapping and packing them. She then took up another order and proceeded as before. These orders came from all over the country. Some beautiful sets were constructed. I watched them make them from sand and gravel to the finished product. I was permitted in that department in the daytime while the girls worked there, but one was not allowed in the glass running rooms in the evening.
My cousins told me that no spectators could get in and not to try to. I told them I was going in. So I went down to the factory and stood around the door. In a few minutes a boy came along with his father’s dinner bucket. I said, “Kid, here is a dime if you will let me take that pail in.” He said, “All right; it goes to my father. He is the man who is blowing the colored glass right behind the furnace.” I gave him the dime and took the bucket. The door was open. The kid said, “Stranger, I will stand out here and see that you take it around to father. He is the short man, and see that you don’t hook it.”
I told him, “All tight,” and hurried right in and took the man his lunch and explained to him what I had done. He told me we both had made a good bargain and laughed explaining what to do and said no one would say anything to me. I did as he directed, getting back out of the way where I could see the whole show. It was a real show too. In the middle of this large room which was 150x150 feet, there stood a large pot about 20 feet through, with doors or little holes all around and at every hole there were from one to three workmen. This pit was a mass of molten glass. A glass blower, he was called, would reach in through that small hole with an iron pipe about six feet long, rake up a wad of glass and put it into a mold, then blow on this pipe. This then filled the mold, making the shape desired such as vases, bottles, bowls and dishes.
You should have seen those men’s faces as they leaned back and blew on that blow pipe. It was a warm evening and they were all stripped to the waist and were wet with sweat. When the blower stopped blowing a boy opened the molds and stuck an iron rod to the bottom of the bottle and carried it over to the tempering oven where they were gradually cooled off.
A large number of boys worked there. This child labor was certainly a curse on those young boys, but those big businesses had to have dividends even if it had to be taken out of the body and soul of children as well as men. The pay was small in comparison to the hard work they did. These few lines I saw in a newspaper are fitting for what I observed.
“No fledgling feeds the father bird!
We are the wisest, strongest race --
Keeping close to the wall I went clear around, watching them do their work. Everything went like clockwork; everyone knew his part and did it well. It looked as though there were a hundred boys running here and there carrying glass on rods and returning. It was some sight for a prairie boy like me.
Most of the workmen seemed to be foreigners. At that time “Big Business” got a high tariff to protect them so they were able to give good wages but had at the same time, agents contracting cheap European labor by the thousands. It was called contract labor. Big business got the rake-off and the American public paid the bill. Remember this was 1884, 59 years ago. This was before labor was well organized as it is today. Now organized labor must not miss-use its power, as did the manufacturers of those early days.
I stayed four hours and did hate to leave. It was a brilliant sight yet a gruesome one to see human beings worked worse than slaves; lashed on by the thought that it was either work or starve, they took their punishment. It made me glad I had been reared on a farm was going back. When I returned to my uncle’s my cousins wanted to know if I got in. I told them that I had and how I worked it. They were surprised. Now I will say that years after I was there, these men struck for higher wages and in the mix-up the big plant was burned down and never rebuilt. This is the strangest part of the story. The owner had made enough to retire on, built a fine mansion on the island in the Ohio river and married my cousin, the shipping clerk. The last I heard of them he was in retirement and they lived happily ever afterward.
Poverty, poverty, just wasn’t cruel enough to express how some of the laborers were forced to live. (This was under the administration of President Arthur, rep.) However, the conditions existed in both parties alike, though in different guise. I saw as high as six people living in a one-room house that had no sewer, only outside closets where there were flies by the millions.
I noticed a small boy buy a quarter of a gallon of meat fryings from a “huckster.” He paid ten cents for it. I asked him what he intended to do with it and he said it was to spread on their bread instead of butter. He said he had never tasted butter in his life and the doctor had told them to eat something greasy as there was a siege of typhoid fever in town and that grease in the food would help ward it off. I asked him what he had to eat and he said black bread with the fryings and on top of this, the cheapest of black molasses (black strap).
I had the same yearning as I now have, to want to dig right down into the bottom of things, so I walked home with the kid and saw for myself how conditions were. I saw a sight never to be forgotten. In broken language that I could not recognize, a foreign woman came to the door and asked if I was an officer. I said no, that I was there on a visit from the West and just looking around to see how people lived. She said, “We don’t live, we just exist.” I asked if they were better off here in America than they had been in the country they had came from. She threw up her hands and screamed, “Oh God, Oh God, No! If only we had never seen these dirty liars of agents who told us that we would get big wages and steady employment! As soon as they got us over here they paid us less than half of what they had promised and have been cutting ever since on both wages and time. Back there we raised a little garden and the food stuffs we bought were very cheap; we lived well for our class.”
They could not have raised a garden here because there was no ground and the soil was all rock and gravel. Well, I will say that calico was from five to seven cents a yard and a dress cost about thirty cents. I believe that the clothing of the entire family had not cost them more than two dollars and fifty cents. They all went barefooted. The fryings the boy brought were bought from one of my uncles who was running a “huckster” wagon.
My mother’s folks were natural mechanics and engineers, both steam and mechanical for four generations. She had seven brothers, the two youngest, West and Joseph, were running steam engines in large mills, getting fair wages when these foreigners filled their plates at one-fourth of what they were receiving. Their search for work was in vain so they created a job. They bought two teams and wagons and established two huckster routes, making one long and one short trip each week. They bought anything that the farmers had to sell or trade for goods and they took orders for the following week. It worked well for both. Farmers wives had a market for what they really needed without asking their men for the money as they most likely never would have gotten them at all that way. These Lewis brothers made money hand over fist. With their self made job they had bought two small apartment houses, paying cash for them.
Then something happened. “Big Business” saw that they were doing well so started wagons in opposition against them, soon had their trade and broke them and then skinned the farmers, just as today with all small businesses that have pioneered and built up the country and business in general. It was just pure criminal greed. Each of the brothers had to move on small farms and eke out an existence. This occurred in “Free America”---free for the rich to crush the life out of anyone else in the way. A law has been passed stopping contract labor and I believe both parties agreed to it.
The following day I went down to the ferry to cross over to Wheeling, West Virginia. There I met another uncle, James Lewis, whose father-in-law was the founder of Martins’ Ferry. The town was named for him and that was how my uncle got his job running the engine and collecting fares on this ferry. The boat was large enough to take on several teams and wagons and hundreds of passengers. It did a big business and landed at the upper end, or Wheeling. Wheeling was an old pioneer town built around the old for where, when a young man George Washington called on the French with a letter from the governor of Virginia, regarding the French possession of their country. The French general told the English to go “jump in the lake,” or words to that effect, then trouble started and quite a war resulted before the dispute was settled.
As I landed I could see the creek where Captain McCullough was trapped by the Indians and where he jumped his horse over the high bluff and got away. This was the real home of the Whitgels, [sic] the great Indian fighters. It lay along the Ohio river. The river bottom was narrow and the town was long and narrow, built well back on the hill or bluff. I went to the market. I had never seen as much variety. There was everything that man would think of to eat and things I didn’t know grew and others I wouldn’t eat. But all the same it was a very interesting place and so many different nationalities were in charge of the various booths or stalls.
I then went down where the old fort had stood that an elderly man I had talked to told me to look up. It was all walled in with rock. This man said that this was the fort where Simon Gidy [sic] was a renegade white man who was more cruel towards the whites than an Indian would have been. The French had ordered him to take along enough Indians to take the forts and to kill all the white people in the Ohio river valley. They made a complete failure of it, however.
It was here that the Zanze [sic] girl was remembered for her bravery. There happened to be but very few men at the fort when the attack was made. They had forgotten to carry the powder in from a small building, a storehouse about a hundred feet from the fort. They soon ran out and one of the men volunteered to go out and get a supply. But one of the girls by the name of Zanze [sic] told the men that every one of them was needed and that if she were killed it would make no difference, so ran out under fire of Indians, got her apron full of powder and returned with it to the fort. This man said to me, “My father was there. He was about 18 years old at the time. Say, stranger, if you don’t believe it look at any of the old histories.” I did and found that he had told the truth. I had also heard my father tell the same story. The Zanzes [sic] afterward went west and founded Zanzeville [sic], Ohio.
The old town of Wheeling was interesting. Across from the center of the town was a large island where the Virginia state fair was held for years. West Virginia pulled off from old Virginia as the war broke out, and the military headquarters were there. There was a suspension bridge to the island high enough to permit the boats to pass under and a low wooden bridge to Bridgeport, the other half of the river and below Bridgeport was Bellaire, quite a railway city.
Writing about the suspension bridge put me in mind of a story my father told. This was long before the parachute was ever thought of. He said one day a woman took a notion that she wanted to depart to one of the other worlds, so she jumped off this high bridge, about 50 feet into the river. That was in the day of hoop skirts and she had one on. As she leaped, the hoop skirt opened and the woman just sailed down to the water like a parachute and it did not let her sink. She was rescued with no harm done to her except wetting her legs. Also, father said that this cable bridge was one of the first of its kind in the United States, and it had not been up long when a high wind came up the river and started the bridge to swinging. It went higher and higher, when suddenly the wind stopped blowing and the bridge came down, smashing the cables and went down into the river. A new bridge was put up with guy cables on it to stay it from swinging and this was still there when I was in the city.
Some fine residences had been built on this island. I returned over the beautiful Ohio river on the ferry. I was told the way it came to get this name. An explorer and an Indian came out on the bluff overlooking the river. The Indian exclaimed: “Ohio, Ohio,” meaning beautiful. When the white man returned to the colonies he told about the river and the Indian’s description of it. As it was thought ideal, the name stuck.
There was bottom land between the Ohio and the bluffs, which were level on top except where creeks had cut great hollows, or as we would call it out here in the west, canyons. From the top of one bluff you could see across to the other bluff. The next morning I went up the river to see another of mother’s brothers. He lived at Portland, Ohio thirty miles up the river. The town was about a hundred population. My uncle was at that time an engineer at the big coal works at Rush Run. It was several hundred feet deep and the coal was being taken out from under the river bottom. That way they did not have to pay royalty on coal taken out. My uncle told me some good stories, one of which I will always remember.
“One cold, chilly night,” he said, “I was sitting by my boiler when I heard two tramps talking. They had boards and blankets and grain sacks laid a couple of feet above the boiler, where it was nice and warm. We always allowed them to sleep there as they did not disturb anything. One set of tramps passed word along to the other and it was always occupied. This particular night one said to the other, ‘Bill, it is raining’, and he moved a board on the roof and looked out. The other replied, ‘Well, I would a damn sight rather it would rain than snow.’
“At that moment the mine blew up. The gas had caught fire and exploded the whole engine house to pieces. When I came to, I was a way down by the river lying in some pawpaw bushes and my first thought was, ‘I wonder what the tramps were thinking about and where they were,’ but I never saw them again. There was no loss of life in the shaft as luckily, one shift had and the other was about to go on.”
However, all the mules were killed that were used to haul coal cars to the hoisting shaft. These mules were kept in there for years without seeing daylight. The accident was caused by not having enough ventilation and it would have killed 300 workmen if the explosion had come an hour before or an hour later. It seems that human life is worth nothing when big dividends have to be made. Safety inspection laws have since been made.
On the way back we passed a man who my uncle said was an ex-steamboat captain. Long ago one of his men hit him with a club, breaking his jaw and it grew back crooked. The captain told him that one time when he was in New Orleans eating at a restaurant he happened to be eating an ear of corn. He looked across the table and saw another man gnawing corn off a cob. This man’s jaw twisted around the opposite way. The captain jumped up and threw his corn cob hitting the other man between the eyes. The one who was struck, jumped to his feet, upset the table out of his way and the fight was on. They scrapped about ten minutes when the captain shouted, “Stop!” He asked, “Has your jaw been broken?” When the other said “Yes,” the captain said, “Excuse me, I thought you were making fun of me.” The other hastened to say, “I thought the same thing about you.” They turned the table back up and ordered another meal. During their talk they found out the other man was also a steamboat captain, so they went out and celebrated together. This uncle was also a very strong man and was never licked in a fight. He never gave an insult yet never took one. In after years he started a coal works himself.
On our return home his son, Elsworth Lewis, showed me two inventions that he was working on. One was an instant release on the air brake, it made the present air brake practical, the other was a hydraulic steam gear for large and heavily loaded vessels. Both inventions afterwards proved a success but he realized only a few hundred dollars out of them himself. In other words, he was beaten out of his inventions. His instant release was adopted and he got six hundred dollars and a trip around the world and was given a job on the railroad as passenger engineer. The steam gear was great on the big tug boats on the Ohio river where they had large barges and deep-filled with coal. They would be down eight or ten feet under water and eighteen inches above. There would be fleets of those coal boats covering acres of water and only a small tug boat pushing and steering them. It all depended on the rudder of that small tug boat and it took a good man to turn the helm. By this method it could be turned with two fingers.
I did not stay long at this place for every few years their place would overflow from the Ohio river and water would come up five feet in the lower story; then when it went down they would try to dry it out. It was a large brick house and three years before, four of their children took the diphtheria and died. The river swept down the valley something terrible.
The following day I returned to Martins’ Ferry and went down to see them load a steamboat. The deck hands were all Italians and as they carried the freight on the boat they chanted a song. The mate walked back and forth with a big oak lath about five feet long and gave one of the men a lick to hurry him along. They went on a half walk and half trot. One of the men dropped a case of eggs and as he stopped t pick them up, he was struck a lick over the seat of the overalls, enough to have cut them through; he swore like a regular mate on a steamboat would. Slaves could not have been used any worse. They loaded everything by hand in those days. There was always something interesting about a steamboat to me.
A big republican rally was held the next day. I went with an uncle on my father’s side of the family. It was 1884. James C. Blain and John A. Logan were running against Grover Cleveland. It was a huge parade. At the last of the parade was a large number of negroes. They had the worst old crowbates of horses I ever saw. Where they ever scraped up as many old boneracks is beyond me. They cut up all kinds of monkey shines and it was so comical they just killed the effect of the parade. Anyway, when the republicans blamed the democrats for hiring them, we got a good laugh out of it and later went down to the island in the Ohio river to hear John A. Logan speak. He had long, black hair, a big long mustache and was said to be part Indian and looked it. He was one of those old style speakers that I always like to hear. But it did no good as James G. Blain said the democrats stood for “Rum, Romanism and Rebellion,” which cooked his goose.
(Ed. Note: Bain did not coin that phrase---one of his speakers did.)
In every mill I visited while in the East were bills stuck all around saying, “Vote the republican ticket or you will be discharged.” I took some of these bills back to Illinois with me and I when showed them to people, they could hardly believe it was true.
That evening after I returned to my Uncle John Lewis, he told me about inventing the automatic cardboard so it would run itself and how it had been stolen from him just as those other instances I mentioned.
With an old maid second cousin, I went the next day out in the country to see an uncle of father’s. His family had been 15 years down in southern Virginia and their style of clothes was 50 years back. The girls of 10 and 12 years wore those big notched panties that reached down to their ankles. I just felt sorry for those kids.
The next morning we walked across two miles to another uncle’s, James Johnson. It was a real pretty walk through old fashioned lanes. As we came near a fine looking farm, we heard some unearthly howls that would make your hair stand. It was one continual yough, yough. We came in sight of the orchard; there were five idiots doing that terrible howling. My cousin said there were six children, the oldest of which, a daughter, was extra smart and got all the high grades in school and college---just a freak in smartness. My uncle said she seemed to have all the brains in the family and the other five had none at all. They didn’t even be as smart as animals and just had slips on for clothes. Two were walking in circles and the others were standing still hollering. These people were well-to-do. When I later asked my uncle if he knew what was the real cause for this freak family. He said that he was told by a specialist that he believed the father’s and mother’s blood did not blend. He said both were intelligent people, well educated, and were not related to each other so it could not be laid to kinship, I never heard what became of them afterwards. The night stuck with me for days, too terrible to think about.
We new arrived at our uncle’s. He had a fine home with big buildings. Everything on this farm was right in place. Two sons, who were married, lived near them. They were all very religious. When they sat around and talked there was no joking---they were sober-faced and religious. The next morning they had family prayer. Afterward they got ready to take a buggy load of eggs, butter, etc., to their special customers in Wheeling, West Virginia. I went along and returned to Martins’ Ferry.
The next day I went up a mile and a half to our own home. As I was going through a gate, it flew back and struck a large pin that was in my coat and drove it into my breast so far that it was a hard pull to get it out. I don’t believe that it would have had to go much farther to have struck my heart. It hurt so much that it spoiled my visit to some extent to the home place. A brick house stood on the bluff overlooking the Ohio river. While my folks lived there they could see the boats for a mile and a half from the porch. Before the war my people could see, by the aid of field glasses, the negro slaves working there. Now willows have grown up along the bank and they hinder a full view of the steamboats.
This river in its day was the main artery of travel and transportation to and from the West and New Orleans, where were received goods from all parts of the world and all kinds of people passed up and down this river.
I went down to the barn and looked in. It was large and what was called a bank barn, with a lower story that opened out on the ground below the barn. The upper story opened out on the yard above and loads of hay or grain could be driven in and unloaded. I saw while in the barn the first separator threshing machine that was ever built. It was brought out here to be tried out and my grandfather bought it. It was made by Spence’s Machine Shop at Martins’ Ferry. (more here) As I went around the old Moore homestead I lived over the different things that my father had told occurred about the farm. I went alone, as I wanted to think and imagine things as they were when I was born there, and I surely did enjoy myself every minute except that the pin prod hurt me terribly. I went through the old orchard and was surprised at the varieties of apples that grew there. They must have been up on horticulture in those days. The orchard had been set out by my grandfather when my father was a small boy and held the trees while he filled in the dirt. It must have been at least 50 years old and that would make it close to a hundred years ago.
I went out six miles to Scotch Ridge to visit my Uncle Joe. He was the youngest brother of my grandfather and he lived on the old Moore homestead. A big stone in the gable of the old brick house said, “Built in the year of 1820.” Uncle Joe was quite a young appearing man for his years. He was an old bachelor and had a housekeeper; his home was noted for the good meals he set and the victuals were nearly all raised on the farm. The old home had been left to him. There were two hundred and forty acres. The house was built of brick that were made on the farm acres. At one end of the house was built a room for holding religious meetings. My great grandfather and great grandmother were Presbyterians and he had this room fixed so as they grew old the meetings could come to them instead of there going to the meetings, which they could not do. A few years before this a law was made that if a room was used for religious purposes, it could not be used for anything else. When this law was repealed it still stayed a custom.
My great grandfather had come to this section in 1788, a well educated man from the north of Ireland. His ancestors had formerly come from Scotland. His folks for generations rented their land from the English landlords. They in turn rented it to the natives in subdivisions. He had come here, taken his coat off and cleared and grubbed this land out of the forest. He built this house and immense barn by raising grain, cutting it with a sickle, letting the stock tramp it out and it was winnowed by the wind. The buildings were made entirely of materials that were made on the farm. There was a large pear tree that stood not far from the kitchen door and near the old milk house. It was then over 80 years old and I should judge it was at least 40 feet high. Fruit did well as the soil was a heavy limestone. I stayed a couple days. He was an interesting man to talk to as he knew all about the country and its people as he was born and raised there. He brought up a large family, five of them boys. Four of the boys formed a joint corporation and pooled their money. They worked together and each bought a farm of 240 acres. The youngest got the homestead. (This is being written in a book---“The Moore Family and what we did in those times.”)
My next visit was to my great uncle, Clark Moore. His brother sent him to Canonsburg, Pa. College for seven years. He was graduated to be a Presbyterian preacher but he had advance ideas about Hell and a lot of other things so he was refused a license. In other words he was just too far ahead of his time. He was about a hundred years advanced. I found him in the garden working. He was a man of six feet four inches, weighing 220 pounds and had been a giant of strength. I talked some time before I told him who I was. He took me right indoors and plied me for an hour with questions about our folks. We had never corresponded although my father was his favorite nephew.
Upon my return to Martins’ Ferry to my uncles, I began getting ready to go home. I went to the woods and got some paw paws to take home with me. After supper I heard one of the girls say there was a large negro camp meeting up in the grove, so I hiked up there. I found a beautiful black walnut grove about two blocks in size. These trees were the original forest. They averaged about two feet through, some slightly larger. In the middle of the grove was a mound builders’ mound about 12 feet high and 60 feet through the bottom. This was located on the second bottom or bench.
It was an ideal place to holds meetings of different kinds. There were in that town in all others, some people who would rather have a little “loot” or profit that they could get out of anything than have something of real value and pleasure to the city. They wanted to run a street through this location and sell the plot off into lots. The fight was on and at its height, when the elements of nature took a hand in it. A cyclone dipped down into the park and twisted practically all those beautiful black walnut trees, threw them in a pile and then raised up over the town, then let down into the river. People who saw it said that it drew water up hundreds of feet into the clouds. I never heard whether it was divided up or not.
There were about 400 negroes at the camp meeting---negroes of all ages and almost as many white. They opened the meeting with a song, then prayer. The preacher made a very good sermon. After the sermon, he commenced urging them to be converted and then there were more songs. The more they sang the wilder and louder they got. They swayed their bodies back and forward. As the seats had no backs on them they could give full sway to their bodies. Then they called upon members of the congregation for their religious experiences. That was where the real fun came in. I only wish that I could remember some of those testimonies.
The singing was good with a few really beautiful voices. It seems a negro is a natural singer; he puts expression into his songs that we white people cannot or do not do. There singing became louder still. “Glory, glory, hallelujah!” Hundreds shouting this at one time just filled the air. This negro camp meeting was the climax of the whole trip. Maybe I am a bit partial to negro songs and singing. They get next to me someway. I enjoyed every minute of it. A young man who sat next to me started talking with me after the meeting was over. He said he was from Tennessee and had come up on a steamboat looking for a job. I asked him if they had many negroes in his country and he said yes and that just before he left home he and some other fellow played a joke on hundreds of them. “It was this way,” he told me.
“There was an old abandoned tobacco warehouse that stood above the railroad track. One side was on the ground, the other side (next to the railroad) was on high posts. The negroes in this vicinity used the warehouse for a dance hall. This night there were hundreds in there having a real time as only negroes can, when we boys got out heads together and plotted. We went down to the wharf and got several pieces of boat cable and tied one piece to each of the upright posts, then tied all of them to a main cable and in turn tied this main cable to a freight car that was to be picked up by the midnight freight. We hid and waited. The train was a little late and backed in and hooked onto the loaded car and started out in a rush when the cable got into action. Out came one prop, then another and another until they were all out and the middle row came with the others. Over came the warehouse upside down on the railroad track. The negroes crawled out of windows and every place they could get out and ran for their lives as they thought the world had come to an end. Apparently no one was hurt. The railroad company has not found out yet who did it,” said the lad, but it was my surmise that this boy was sort of hiding out until it blew over.
“Another instance which shows,” he said, “that the negro is very superstitious, was this. One rainy Sunday, a Dunkard preacher got off the train. As he passed a negro church it was raining very hard. He thought he would step inside until it was over. He said his second thought was to up and sit down by the preacher. You know the Dunkards let their hair and whiskers grow real long. As he stopped inside, the negro preacher was praying in a loud voice, ‘Oh Lord, oh Lord, send Christ right up this aisle this minute. Step, step, step came footsteps up the aisle. With a jerk, the negro preacher raised his head and looked up. There came what he thought was Christ in answer to his prayer. He jumped up, gave one more look to make certain. Tramp, tramp---on came the Dunkard toward him. The negro gave a yell and went right through the window, sash and all with him. The congregation saw what it thought was an answer to prayer and all piled out the door and windows, scattering in all directions. I dare say in three minutes there was not a darkey in sight and it took a lot of explaining before they would believe that the Dunkard was not Christ. In his sermon that evening, the Dunkard preacher said to his own congregation, after telling of his visit to the negro church, ‘The moral of this is, don’t pray for something you are not ready to receive’.”
My mother’s home came next in my trip. Her mother’s father died when she was quite young leaving her mother with seven children, six boys and a girl. She had 20 acres of ground, a house and barn. She reared a splendid family as all the boys were excellent mechanics and grew up to be a help and honor to their mother.
After that I went to see another of the brothers, Henry, of Rush Run, about 30 miles up the river. He lived on a 20-acre farm and it was interesting to me to hear him talk. When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted in the Northern army and went clear through the war. He was captured by General Mosby, of a guerilla army and stripped naked and turned loose in the woods. He was paroled by Mosby and had to drive a team when he got back to the army. He told me wonderful stories of his experiences during the war.
The following morning I started home and had a very fine return trip. This was my first trip away from home and I learned many things. First, I learned how hundreds of families can go on a pleasure trip and really enjoy themselves with out spending a large sum of money. I learned that thousands of people from all over the country could mingle together and all seem to have a good time without drinking or having a quarrel. I saw the falls that are the greatest wonders of nature. I learned the ins and outs of traveling on the train. I visited big factories in operation. I learned how big business manipulated the labor question and how they put the smaller man out of business. Remember, this was 59 years ago. In addition to all this, I saw how my pious relatives lived, the beautiful Ohio river and the big steamboats on it; I saw sand converted into beautiful vessels, and the house that my grandfather built which is a story in itself. The best of all, I came away feeling proud of my relatives, both men and women, on both sides of the house. Such a trip is an education that could not be learned in any other way, but to go and see for one’s self.
Sam Moore's poem:
corrections, or suggestions
would be deeply appreciated!
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