Harrison County, Missouri
Part of the American History and Genealogy Project

A. J. Tucker

 

I came to Cainsville about the middle of June, 1858, having migrated from Scioto County, Ohio, with my brother of the half-blood, A. J. Tucker, who had bought a farm about a mile north of the town the year before. The family of A. J. Tucker at that time consisted of himself, his wife, Keturah F.; a son, David E., then an infant; a sister-in-law, Esther J. Woodruff, and myself. Cainsville was then a small village that had grown up around Peter Cain's water mill, which had been erected some years before at that point on Grand River. Grand River was a crooked, sluggish, muddy stream, so small in comparison to other rivers with which the early settlers had been familiar that they were disposed to belittle it by calling it a creek.

Cainsville is located in the northeastern part of Harrison County, Missouri, in a part of the state which was but sparsely settled in 1858. The adjacent country was fertile and beautiful. It was sufficiently rolling to be attractive without being hilly. The sui-face of the ground was made up of prairie and timber; the timber predominating. Much of the so called timber land was covered with a growth of shrubs, such as hazel, stool oak, alder and shumack. This shrub covered land was always designated as "brush" land. In summer the prairie, covered with tall grass of two or three varieties, which was interspersed with many wild flowers, was a thing of beauty. Probably three-fifths of the territory around Cainsville was unenclosed and unbroken. The country had not been manhandled. The unenclosed portion belonged for the most part to nonresidents of the state, and was free pasturage for anyone who wanted to use it. None of the timber was so large as that found in states further east, nor was there so great a variety. Oak, elm, hickory, walnut, ash, basswood, cottonwood and maple were the principal varieties. No beech, popular or chestnut were to be found. The country was well watered; many small streams furnishing water in abundance for livestock, and water of good quality for domestic use could usually be secured by sinking wells to a depth of from twenty to forty feet.

I do not know whether the town built the mill, or the mill built the town. I think the latter is the correct supposition. I have made some effort to determine just how large, or better said, just how small the town was in 1858, but have failed to do so. The census of 1860 throws no light on the question, as towns having less than 1,000 inhabitants were not given a separate enumeration, but were included with the municipal township in which they happened to be located. I do not believe there were over 100 souls in the town the day I arrived. There were perhaps thirty children attending the summer school that year in Cainsville, about one-fourth of whom did not live in the town. Hannibal Harrison was the teacher. I think 100 is a liberal estimate of the population of Cainsville in 1858.

The name Cainsville, literally Cain's town, was derived, as everyone knows, from Cain's mill, being an adaptation and euphony of the latter name. In the year 1858 there was still standing one finger board that I recall, directing the traveler to Cain's mill. The name is sometimes erroneously written "Cainesville." I believe it is spelled that way in the United States Postal Guide, so that the post office at Cainsville is "Cainesville."

As before stated, the town had grown up around Cain's mill. The first reason for the town was the necessity for houses in which the employees of the mill could live, the owner, Peter Cain, living five or six miles south in the country. A post office, blacksmith shop and trading post were necessary at that point, as well as a mill. These necessitated people, and the people built houses. Princeton was at that time the nearest trading post to Cainsville, being a little nearer than Eagleville. Peter Cain's mill was a saw and grist mill of rather crude construction, but good for that time and place. A dam had been constructed across Grand River at that point to get a head of water, a mill race built in connection, and the power furnished by passing the water through the mill race and over an overshot wheel. The sawing was done by a single upright saw, set in a frame, and the machinery for making flour and meal was imperfect. However, both the flour and meal produced were probably more suitable for human food than the same articles now offered to the public by our grocers. Especially was this true of the meal, which was far better than the present day highly pulverized product sold under that name. The buckwheat flour was a unique article of food. The mill did not have the proper machinery to separate the hull of the buckwheat from the flour, so that this flour resembled the ordinary flour with a plentiful mixture of iron filings. The weakness of the machinery was demonstrated on one occasion when the mill suddenly stopped, and an investigation showed that a large catfish had lodged in the water wheel! This is not intended as a fish story.

The people came a distance of thirty or forty miles to this mill and camped while waiting to have their grists ground. There was a large room on the east side of the mill on the first floor which was set apart as a sleeping room for the people waiting for their grists. I do not know why the people did not exchange their grain for flour and meal, and thus avoid the long delay. Perhaps the mill owners were not prepared to make the exchange.

During the winter the people in the vicinity of the mill, say within five or six miles, hauled in logs, usually on sleds or log wagons, and filled the mill yard with them. The mill yard was a large lot on the east side of the mill, and south of Cain & Bailey's store, which was located where the Cainsville Bani now stands. The timber furnished was for the most part walnut, oak, basswood and cottonwood. In the spring when water was plenty in the river this timber was sawed into lumber, which was used in the construction of houses, barns and fences.

A. J. Tucker built a house on his farm north of Cainsville which is now occupied by Calvin Cain and family. It was nothing remarkable that a man should build a house, but the remarkable thing about the Tucker house was that it was constructed largely of the very best quality of walnut and white oak lumber. The frame and roof were of oak and the siding and finishing of the best walnut. The shingles for this house were hand made. They were rived from blocks of red oak timber with a froe and shaved into shape with a drawing knife. Not only was the finest of lumber used for building houses and barns, but fences also. That was the day of worm fences, and many oak and walnut rails were used in their construction. It was a saying that the walnut rails would last until they were used up by the wasps, hornets and yellow jackets for the purpose of building their nests. The settlers needed clear ground upon which to grow crops, and the destruction of the growing timber went on every day in the year. Fifty years afterward the timber so destroyed would have been almost as valuable as the land. The common way to get rid of forests was to make a "deadening." All the trees in a tract of land were girdled when the sap was up and left standing. As the trees thus treated soon died, root and branch, the ground ceased to be shaded by foliage and corn and other crops could be grown among the standing trees. In many instances these dead trees were felled, rolled into great heaps and burned.

At first the houses of the people were naturally built of logs, usually of one large room, serving like the Roman atrium as a place for all household operations. It was at once parlor, kitchen, dining room and bed room. Bath rooms were not dreamed of. Even the White House had no bath room until 1851, when one was installed by Millard Fillmore. The laundry work was done in the yard by the side of the well, or if there were no well, as was frequently the case, then by the side of some creek where wood and water were abundant. The houses in Cainsville, thanks to Peter Cain's mill, were for the most part built of plank and other sawed timber. The houses in the country were almost wholly of logs. There was a recognition of two classes of log houses among the people, the hewn log houses and the log cabin. The hewn log house was built, as the name indicates, of logs that had been hewn flat with a broad axe on one or two sides. The cracks between the logs were chinked with short pieces of wood, and plastered over with lime mortar. The floor was of plank, the roof of shingles and the chimney and fireplace of brick. This hewn log house usually had doors of dressed lumber, fastened with lock and key, and the windows were glazed. Sometimes these houses were double; that is, had two rooms with a hall or corridor between. Occasionally such a house had two stories with a ladder for a stairway between them. The hewn log house was in fact the ne plus ultra of log houses, and was considered good enough for the most prosperous citizen.

The log cabin was built in the most primitive manner. No nails were used in its construction. For the walls round logs, having the bark on them, were used. The chinks between the logs were daubed or plastered with a mortar, whose principal ingredient was the tough yellow clay subsoil found in that part of Missouri. It had a clapboard roof, the boards being held in place by weight poles instead of nails. These clapboards were rived from small logs of some straight grained timber that could be easily split, and were remarkably smooth and regular to have been made in such a manner. The floor was of puncheon. Such a floor is necessarily rough, uneven and open, but very substantial. The clapboard roof of the cabin turned rain tolerably well, but did not always keep out snow, especially when the snow was accompanied by a strong wind. The boards not being nailed, the wind would drive the snow through them into the cabin, and it was no uncommon thing in winter for the occupants of a cabin to find their bed covered with snow on a winter morning.

The log cabin had a "stick" chimney, that is, a chimney built of logs and lath. The base of the chimney was built of split logs, laid up in the form of a parallelogram, notched and locked at the corners so as to make a fireplace. The upper part of the chimney was built of clapboards split into narrow strips like lath. The whole inside of the chimney was then plastered with a heavy coating of yellow clay mortar. The action of the heat on this mortar hardened it so that it was almost equal to fire brick. There were usually no windows, and the doors, which were of clapboards, were left open winter and summer to afford light. The door had a latch inside instead of a lock, and for a key there was a latchstring, which was pulled in to lock the door. An old expression of hospitality was, "My latchstring is always out."

The fireplace was very large, and great logs could be used in it for building a fire. The method of building a fire was to roll a large log of some slow-burning green timber, like buckeye, cottonwood or water elm, in the back part of the fireplace. Against this log the andirons or dog irons, as they were commonly called, were placed. On these andirons another log of considerably smaller size than the back log was laid. This log was called the forestick. Between the back log and forestick was placed a quantity of combustible wood, which was lighted, and thus the fire-making was completed. This method of heating was a great success in the matter of ventilation, but measurably a failure in other respects. On a cold day people sitting close to the fire burned, and those farther away froze.

The people of Cainsville and vicinity at the time of which I write were pioneers of the most hardy variety, nearly all of them being under forty. They had come from the states east and south of Missouri; most of them from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. Very few of them were from the New England states. Many motives no doubt prompted them to make the change, but the principal one was the desire to get more and better land. The northern element predominated. The slaveholders of the South considered that part of Missouri too close to Iowa to be a safe place to bring their slaves. I believe there never were but twenty-five slaves in Harrison County. There were practically no distinctions of class or cast among the people. They were substantially on the same level, there were no millionaires and no paupers, no "four hundred" and no slums.

The people for the most part were uneducated so far as books and schools were concerned. Very few of them had so much as a high school education, and some of them were entirely illiterate, being unable either to read or write. While this was true they were by nature intellectually keen and observing and could not be easily deceived by evil disposed or dishonest people. They were usually well inclined toward their neighbors and surroundings and seldom missed an opportunity to do a kind act. These early settlers were Arabian in their hospitality. Houses of entertainment were infrequent; the farmers were often comparatively isolated, and though scant of cash they usually had enough and to spare of plain provisions for man and beast, and as a general rule the chance traveler found welcome and shelter for himself and horse if he knocked at any door which he chanced to approach toward nightfall. Payment commonly offered was almost always refused. Of course the very highest degree of refinement is not usually found among pioneers. Their intentions are better than their practices. It was not unusual for a party of men talking among themselves to indulge in ribald jokes and stories, and coarse repartee.

The various families were independent and nearly self-supporting. Every family produced about all of its needs except salt, sugar, coffee, tea, a few articles of clothing and farm implements. Much of the material for clothing was produced by the women of the family in the shape of linsey-woolsey and jeans. The machinery for making this cloth was comparatively simple; two spinning wheels, one a small one, or flax wheel, and the other a larger woolen wheel, a reel and a loom. The flax wheel was run by the action of the foot of the operator on a treadle. The larger wheel was operated by a woman standing and turning the wheel with her hand while walking backward to draw out into a thread the roll of wool attached to the spindle. From this work of spinning came the word "spinster" applied in law to an unmarried woman. When a girl was old enough to spin sixteen "cuts" (skeins) of yam in a day she was considered a woman. All of the homemade cloth had either a flax or cotton warp and a wool woof, and was woven in a loom of rather rough construction, but effective in doing the work for which it was built. About 1858, or soon thereafter, the spinning of flax was generally abandoned, and a cotton thread prepared somewhere in the East was used for the warp. The woolen rolls from which the yarn used in cloth making was spun were sometimes carded at home with hand cards, and sometimes by carding machines run by steam or water power. The dyes used were not made in Germany, but were entirely homemade, the colors being usually blue and brown. The blue dye was made by combining indigo, salt and water with yeast, and the brown by the use of the bark of the black walnut tree and the hulls of the walnuts.

With the exception of some men who worked in the mill and a few merchants, all the people in Cainsville and vicinity were engaged in farming and stock raising. There were no scientific farmers or stockmen in the country. They did not use scientific methods in farm management; there was no rotation of crops, no fertilization, and no attempt to preserve the fertility of the soil. There was no blooded or pedigreed stock. It took two years to develop a hog suitable for market. There was really little necessity for scientific farming; the land was so new, rich and productive that a very common farmer could produce enough on forty acres to support a family of three or four persons, with the necessary livestock, by working about four months during the year. The other eight months he could spend for the most part in Cainsville at one of her many forums discussing politics and religion and swapping horses.

The principal, and practically the only crops grown, were corn, oats, potatoes and cabbage, with some garden vegetables. Corn was the universal crop. It furnished food for both man and beast. Cornbread, mush and hominy, with pork, was the principal food of the people; "hog and hominy" in the expressive language of the pioneer. There were no com planters so the com was dropped by hand and covered with hoes. Seven was the magic number of grains to a hill. This number was sanctioned by an old couplet which said:

"One for the black bird, one for the crow. Two for the cut worm, three for to grow."

Very little wheat was grown. It was not considered a safe crop.

Farm implements were scarce, and those that were used were very simple in character. The most complicated was the double-shovel plow. Reaping the grain was done largely with an old fashioned grain cradle, and sometimes with a sickle. The modern reaper and mower had not come into general use, and the binder did not appear for many years.

There were no threshing machines in the country, and the grain was thrashed for the most part by making a circular threshing floor on the ground, spreading the sheaves of wheat over the floor and tramping it out with horses. In a few cases the old fashioned flail was still used. The flail was two hickory sticks, one somewhat longer than the other, fastened together with a piece of buckskin or raw hide. After the wheat was threshed, by whatever method, it became necessary to clean it by using a fanning mill, which was run by man power.

While, as I have before stated, there were practically no distinctions of cast or class among the people, family distinctions were preserved. The names of some of the families in that section of the country at that time were as follows: Booth, Baker, Browning, Bailey, Burns, Chambers, Cain, Clark, Cornwell, Downey, Enloe, Fullerton, Frazee, Glaze, Harrison, Hart, Kennedy, Lay, Moss, McAfee, McElfish, Mullins, Oxford, Pierce, Reeves, Ristine, Smothers, Twedell, Willis and Woodward.

The names of some of the most prominent residents and business men of Cainsville and vicinity were:

John Bailey
Peter Cain
William T. Browning
William Burns
Andrew Clark
James Clark
T. M. Fullerton
William C. Frazee
Samuel H. Glaze
Marcellus (Dick) Moss
C. B. McAfee
William McElfish
Jacob B. Oxford
Joseph H. Pierce
William C. Reaves
John Ristine
Lewis R. Twedell
John Woodward
Chesley Woodward
Hannibal Harrison
Lafayette Cornwell

A number of men who have played an important part in the business, social and religious affairs of Cainsville came there after 1858. Conspicuous among these men were T. G. Rogers and John M. Rogers, who came in 1859, J. H. Burrows in 1862 and L. M. Wickersham about 1870. The two most prominent men who had at some time in their lives called Cainsville their home were C. B. McAfee and J. H. Burrows.

Of the citizens above named John Bailey, in connection with Peter Cain, was building a storehouse for the purpose of carrying on a mercantile business. This house was being erected on the lot where the Cainsville bank now stands. I cannot forbear mentioning an incident in connection with this store building. A political meeting was held in its lower story sometime in August, 1858. This was the first political meeting I ever attended. It was held for the purpose of giving the candidates for the Legislature an opportunity to speak to the people in order to present their claims for their suffrage. The men who spoke on this occasion were Stephen C. Allen, Henry O. Neville and J. A. Hubbard, called "Big Hubbard" to distinguish him from another prominent citizen, E. L. Hubbard, who was little. Allen was the Democratic candidate, Neville the Whig candidate, but I do not know what party Hubbard represented. Browning and McAfee were setting up and selling fanning mills. Their business house or shop stood two or three rods south of Cain & Bailey's store. Andrew Clark had a general store on the southwest corner of Washington and Lafayette Streets. C. B. McAfee, Browning's partner, was also an attorney, having been admitted to practice in 1854. James Clark was a clerk in the store of his father, Andrew Clark. T. M. Fullerton was the principal doctor in the town. Doctors Perriman, Enloe and Bryant came later. Lafayette Cornwell was also a doctor. He was a heavy drinker, quite unreliable, and knew less about more things than any other person in the community. Dick Moss was the leading merchant. His store stood on Main Street, looking south on Washington. William McElfish was a cabinet maker, and afterward became the postmaster. Frazee and Twedell were farmers living in town. Joseph H. Pierce was a blacksmith, also the maker and mender of plows, wagons and other farm machinery. Jacob B. Oxford had the only hostelry the town afforded. This was his residence, situated at the southeast corner of Washington and Main Streets, about where the Estep furniture store is now located. The somewhat unique sign on his house read:

"J. B. Oxford,
Travelers' Rest."

Hannibal Harrison was a farmer and teacher. He was a good teacher for that time, somewhat eccentric, and much addicted to mathematics, so much so that later he became one of the best mathematicians in the state. In religion he was an agnostic without knowing it, as Huxley had not yet invented and defined that term. Chesley and John Woodward, father and son, were farmers and local ministers of the Missionary Baptist Church. They were men of the very highest standing in the community. William C. Reeves had a grocery store on Washington Street, facing west, from which he distributed groceries, and also sold liquor, both wholesale and retail. He had a sign tacked on the front of the store printed on white canvas, which said:

"Whiskey 50c. Per Gal
All groceries very cheap."

This sign was neatly printed and must have been done in Saint Louis, as there were no sign painters in Cainsville at that time. The part relating to whiskey was in letters three inches high, while that relating to groceries was in small letters. This sign may have indicated by the size of the letters the relative value placed upon whiskey and groceries in Cainsville at that time.

There was very little crime among the people and practically no divorces or elopements. The overtopping vice among them was the drink habit. At the very inception it may be well to say that at the time and in the place of which I write, liquor selling and liquor using were a matter of course. During the three decades from 1830 to 1860 the liquor traffic flourished in the United States like the proverbial green bay tree. The manufacture, sale and use of intoxicating liquor was almost universal. Anybody sold liquor who was able to pay a small fee for license to do so, and everybody drank it who felt so inclined. The greatest American of the ages, Abraham Lincoln, was selling liquor in New Salem, Illinois, in 1831. He was a clerk in a general store kept by a man named Denton Orfutt. In this store was kept all kind§ of merchandise, including liquors, or at least whiskey, which was the principal liquor used at that time. Lincoln in performing his duties as clerk sold liquor whenever it was called for. Orfutt did not keep a saloon, but a general store, so that the charge which has been made against Lincoln that he was a saloon-keeper at one time is not true. In the great debates between Lincoln and Douglass in 1858, Douglass in one of them charged Lincoln with having been a liquor seller. Lincoln in reply admitted the charge, but said that while he was on the inside of the counter selling liquor Judge Douglass was on the outside buying and drinking it. It was a common practice at that time for grocery stores to dispense liquor either by wholesale or retail, and sometimes by both methods. The people did not seem to recognize any moral quality in the act of selling or using liquor. Liquor dealers were not socially ostracized, or even criticized, and a drunkard was pitied but not despised. The economical aspect of the traffic was apparently not considered. The cost of liquor to the consumer was nominal, there being no internal revenue tax upon it. In the year 1914 the nation's liquor bill had reached the astounding figure of something over three billions of dollars. In 1858 it was probably not one-hundredth of that amount.

A large majority of the adult males in that section of the country used liquor to some extent. Not all the men who habitually used liquor visited the public drinking places. A very considerable number of them did, and others bought liquor in quantities of from one to five gallons and carried it home in jugs, kegs and demijohns. This liquor so taken home was dignified by calling it "bitters" after they had put in it some mild drug or substance, such as spikenard, calamus or wild cherry bark, and tried to convince themselves it was necessary to drink the concoction for their health, as there was a great deal of malaria in that country at that time. A few put quinine in the whiskey, and the quinine probably had some merit in warding off chills and fever. Practically all of the liquors consumed in that day were of the strong variety, whiskey being the principal one, and in addition to it gin and brandy. Very few drank beer or any of the light wines.

The women did not drink. They may not have considered it good form for them to do so, but probably a stronger reason was because they were disgusted with the drink habits of their male relatives. They knew by observation that liquor made the men who used it to excess drunkards and loafers; so the women did not drink and were unfriendly to the liquor traffic. But there were other reasons why the women did not use liquor; even if they had had the inclination, they did not have the time.

It appears to be true in all new settlements that the burdens rest more heavily upon the women. Because of pioneer conditions they must do much work that would not be required of them in older countries, and this was true in Missouri. In addition to the usual household duties they did spinning, knitting, weaving and tailoring. But this was not all; the dairy work, garden making and tending, and poultry raising also devolved upon them. Because there were no cook stoves, perforce they cooked by the fireplace, and as most of the fireplaces had no cranes much stooping was necessary to gather live coals to put under the skillets, and on and under the ovens. The crane was an iron bar attached by a hinge to the side of the fireplace, permitting a horizontal motion, and was used for hanging pots, kettles and other vessels over the fire. The heat faced in cooking at a fireplace is quite unpleasant at any time, and especially so in summer. If anything used in household work got out of order it was usually left so, as the men folks always thought themselves too busy to make repairs. I knew one woman who dipped water out of an iron teakettle with a tin cup for ten years because the accumulation of lime from the water had closed the spout. A few minutes' work by the man of the house would have relieved her of this trouble. The lives of these pioneer women convince us, if we need to be convinced, that notwithstanding cold or thirst, or hunger, or any kind or degree of physical suffering, a woman can outlast a man. Some of the older women smoked pipes, and possibly a few of them dipped snuff, but they were very hard working and humble. As wives they were at all times faithful and thrifty, and had all of the virtues but none of the vices of their husbands.

The principal diversions of the people were dancing, hunting, card playing, social or play parties, horse races and shooting matches. There was an old stanza of doggerel that I have heard men repeat, while playing cards, which indicated the trend of sentiment in regard to sports in that section. It ran like this:

"The deuce of hearts, the Jack of spades,
I trump no ace, my partner leads;
The fastest hoss, the truest gun.
The best old coon dog ever run."

There were some functions that might be called quasi-diversions, for they had the double nature of work and play. Among these were house raisings, husking bees, quilting parties and log rolling. Somewhat akin to amusements were the protracted meetings or revivals, and the spelling and singing schools in the winter, and the camp meetings and basket meetings in the summer. These latter had some stronger social attractions than the others. Of all these functions, probably the most important in the estimation of the people were the house raising and the shooting match. House raising was not what would come under that name at the present time, the mere lifting in place of the frame work of a house, but it meant the building entire of a house or cabin out of logs. When a pioneer decided to build, he went into the forest, cut the logs and hewed them, if the house was to be a hewn log house, and if not he simply cut and trimmed them. After doing this the logs were assembled at the point where the house was to be erected. Ten or twelve neighbors were then invited to the "raising." Four men were selected as corner-men.

These men had to be excellent ax-men, as it was their duty, when each log was handed up to them, to cut a "hip and saddle" at the ends so that the logs would lay solidly together. I presume there are not four men now in Harrison County who could carry up the corners of a log cabin. The business of the men, other than the corner-men, was to skid the logs up and put them in place, one by one, as they were needed. In connection with the house raising was a most excellent farm dinner, prepared and served by the wife of the builder, aided by the wives of some of the men acting as helpers.

The horse races were generally run for a small wager, and the same was true of the card playing. The horses used were what are known as "quarter horses," that is, their endurance only enabled them to run a quarter of a mile.

The shooting matches were usually for beef. A number of men who were to engage in the match contributed the price of a beef, and each one was allotted a certain number of shots in proportion to the amount he contributed. The beef was killed and divided into six parts, the quarters and the hide and tallow. There was no modem system used in these matches, as there would be today, in the way of steel targets and target rifles. The targets used were boards having a piece of white paper tacked on them, upon which there were drawn with a heavy pencil two straight lines intersecting each other. The point where the lines intersected was the center of the target. From the practice of using boards for targets came the expression, "your board is up." With such targets there was sometimes considerable difficulty in telling who had done the best shooting, as the center would frequently be shot away before the match was finished. The men who engaged in these matches were usually most excellent marksmen, and many of them afterwards served in the armies in the Civil War as riflemen and sharpshooters. The judges selected by the marksman would ascertain as best they could with regard to the skill of the various contestants, and render a decision accordingly. The distances were usually ten yards off hand, twenty yards standing with a rest, and thirty yards lying down with a rest. The shooting was done with muzzle-loading rifles altogether, and as these rifles had been made by gunsmiths in various parts of the country, they might be called homemade. They were not manufactured by any of the arms companies of that day. Tallow was a very important article of commerce, as well as for home use. It was used in making candles, which were the principal and in fact almost the only means of lighting the houses at that time. It was also used in connection with beeswax and other non-perishable things as something to be exchanged in the towns and cities for goods. Beeswax and tallow were considered a part of the currency of the realm, and legal tender in the matter of exchange for other products.

Any account of the pioneer people and conditions which left out the subject of marriage, the most sacred contract, and its attendant incidents would be incomplete. Early marriage has always been the rule among pioneers, and has been encouraged. The young people had the greatest freedom of social intercourse; parents were not inclined to be strict, and the word "chaperon" was not in the lexicons of that day. As a consequence marriages were contracted without the intervention of parents or other relatives. It can truthfully be said that most of them were "love matches," untarnished by commercialism or convenience. It is true a few of the young people found it easier to fall in love with one of the opposite sex whose father had a thousand acres of land than with one whose father had only eighty acres, but such cases were rare.

Marriage ceremonies were frequently brief almost to the point of being rude. There were no ring services, no giving away of the bride and seldom any music, as organs and pianos had not yet come into the homes of the people. At well-ordered weddings the ceremony was solemnized by a minister of the bride's church, or by a minister of some other church, as agreed upon by the contracting parties. As a rule the marriage took place at the home of the bride, there being very few church weddings. There were many customs occurring at weddings, wise and unwise. Some of these were uncouth, and almost barbaric, "more honored in the breach than in the observance." Happily all these customs did not accompany each wedding. No banns were ever published, and no marriage license was required. Persons contemplating marriage were supposed to be of lawful age; the man twenty-one years old and the woman eighteen. It was the custom for the minister or officer officiating to call for objections before commencing the ceremony. He would explain the intention of the couple before him to be married, giving their names, and say, "If any person now present knows of any reason why this couple should not be joined in the holy bonds of matrimony, let him now state his objections, or forever after hold his peace." Sometimes at the conclusion of the ceremony the preacher would kiss the bride, when all the men guests would feel privileged by this example to do the same, and in the meantime the bridegroom went about kissing all the women in attendance. The germ theory of disease had not yet been promulgated.

The wedding dinner way the very best that could be prepared by the bride's family. The bill of fare included two or three kinds of meat, such as roast turkey or chicken, with most delicious and savory sauce and dressing, with sage flavoring; also roast pig and some kind of game when it could be procured. With these meats were all the accessories that went to make us a sumptuous meal. There was cake a plenty. In addition to the bride's cake there was jelly cake, fruit cake, pound cake, sweet cakes, "twister" doughnuts and ginger bread; there were pumpkin pies, mince pies and custard pies, and the most toothsome preserves of wild plums, crabapples, tomatoes and watermelon rinds; jam and jellies of various kinds, with oceans of milk and cream; also pickles of all sorts. Plenty of strong coffee crowned the feast. There were no courses, a part of everything prepared for the spread was put on the table, leaving a reserve for the second table. "There was always some mush m the pot." There were no waiters, the guests helped themselves and one another. There was no dessert, no napkins and no finger bowls.

On the day following the wedding came the infair. That was a party and dinner given by the parents of the groom, as a sort of welcome to the bride and her relatives. At this dinner practically the same guests were invited and in attendance as at the wedding.

A decidedly outlandish custom was that of "bedding" the bride and groom. Soon after the wedding dinner, then styled "supper," was over the young women took the bride and put her to bed in the room prepared for the couple. Some of the young men would then do the same with the groom. This being accomplished the unmarried guests of both sexes would repair together to the bridal chamber and exchange jokes and badinage with the newlyweds. Another custom somewhat barbaric in its nature was the charivari (shivaree), which generally came on the night of the wedding. A charivari was a big, unmitigated noise, a wild tumult and uproar produced by every noise-making contraption imaginable; guns, pistols, cowbells, tin pans, tin horns, conch-shells, whistles, rattle-traps, horse-fiddlers and dumb-bulls. Sometimes these numerous instruments of sound were accompanied by the yells of the operators. The perpetrators of a charavari generally held no malice against anyone. Their first purpose was hilarity and fun, and after that a desire to annoy the bride and groom sufficiently to bring from the groom a treat. It was not usually intended to insult or harass the couples, or to express any dislike for them, or to indicate disapproval because of any incongruity in the marriage, such as disparity in age, or because one or both of the contracting parties had formerly been married, or that the bride was a divorcee. The youngest and most normal couples were chivaried the same as others.

The honeymoon was usually of the George Washington variety. It is historic that when Washington married Martha Custis they spent their honeymoon visiting relatives and friends who lived in a comparatively short distance from the Custis home in Virginia. The young people in the section of the country of which I write generally did something of that kind. They did not go on long journeys as is the fashion today. I presume there were several reasons why they did not do so. One was the matter of expense, and another the want of any comfortable or rapid means of transportation, practically the only method of traveling at that time being on horseback or in wagons.

The Nimrod of that day did not often return empty handed from his hunting excursions. There were still remaining some deer and occasional wild geese. Wild Turkeys, quails, ducks, prairie chickens, wood pheasants and pigeons were plentiful. Quails, ducks, prairie chickens and pigeons especially abounded. The passenger or wild pigeon visited the country in immense flocks almost countless in numbers. If they alighted to roost in a grove of small timber, so great was their number that many limbs would be broken by their weight. Hunters, visiting their roosting places by night with a torch, could kill thousands of them in a short time. It is said they could frequently be killed with clubs when they roosted low. This bird is now extinct. Quails were trapped in large numbers; they also afforded the hunter with dog and gun great sport. Wood pheasants were often found by the peculiar drumming sound they were want to make, and when driven to tree by a dog they would sit quietly to be shot by the hunter. The veriest pot-hunter could take an indifferent gun and a meal sack, go out into the fields in the morning of a fall or winter day, and in a few hours return with a sack full of prairie chickens. Usually only the breasts of these birds were used for food. There were also numerous rabbits which were hunted and killed, and sometimes eaten, but the killing of them was more for the sport than the food. Squirrels were quite numerous, both gray and fox, and were considered quite a delicacy. The flesh of the quail was more highly prized than that of any other game bird.

Quail on toast was relished alike in the log cabin of the pioneer, and in the Delmonico Restaurant of New York City.

It was not difficult for a family of two persons to live well on $400 per annum, this including the cost of clothing and house rent as well as food. The cost of amusements, upon which so much is spent by the people now, was practically nothing; a circus once a year, costing the family two or three dollars if they attended, was about the limit. There were no theaters or "movies" to call for money; there would occasionally be a magic-lantern show, the grandfather of the "movies"; a sleight-of-hand performance, or a lecture on phrenology for which a small admission was usually charged. The automobile and its up-keep was not then a feature of expense.

With the exception of chills and fever the people were as a rule quite healthy. They lived an active out-door life, giving them plenty of exercise, and their food was of the very simplest. The local doctors charged $1.00 a visit. There were no $35. Per week nurses; the sick were nursed by members of their own family, with a little aid from the neighbors. There were 110 high-priced surgeons and no money-grabbing hospitals. The most prominent citizen in the community, upon his death, was given a funeral costing the family from $15 to $25. Two men were sometimes employed to dig the grave at a cost of $5.00; the coffin would be made by the village carpenter or cabinet maker for $10 or $15; a common farm wagon was the hearse, and friends and neighbors were the undertakers.

The people at that time were handicapped to a considerable extent by financial conditions in the country. There had been a serious panic in 1857, and the country had not yet recovered from its effects. The panic was believed to have been the result of a bad currency system, wild speculation in land and over-construction of railroads. The banking affairs of the country were in a chaotic condition. Each state created its own banking system, and in some of them the laws were imperfect or not perfectly enforced. Banks of issue had been organized all over the country under the state laws, and were issuing bills without having the necessary, or, in fact, very often any gold reserve behind their notes. On this account banks were continually suspending specie payment all over the United States, and this was usually equivalent to failure; at least it made their bills almost valueless. It was the day of "wildcat" money. The money received this name for the reason that among the first banks that failed were some that had printed on their bills a picture of a wildcat. This bad currency caused great inconvenience in business. Bank bills that were good in the neighborhood of the issuing bank declined in value as they were carried father away. With such money in circulation the citizens never knew when they sold property for paper money whether they had real money, or only worthless promises to pay money. There was a periodical called "The Detector" which claimed to give the value of all the paper money in circulation and the standing of all the banks of issue then doing business in the United States. This periodical was published monthly, and upon receipt of money the first thing the recipient did was to consult The Detector to ascertain the value of what he had received. This system of banking continued until the passage of the National Bank Act in 1864. There were some banks that at all times redeemed their bills in coin. One of them, as I remember, was the State Bank of Ohio.

As before stated there had been great speculation in land and town lots in 1857; prices rose rapidly, but the lands were usually heavily mortgaged. There was a crisis in the fall of 1857, and the speculative house of cards fell. Many banks failed, merchants were ruined, railroads went into bankruptcy and the financial disaster seemed complete. This condition led to some noticeable results. Banks were not being organized in new territory, and were therefore very infrequent in Northern Missouri; the nearest bank to Cainsville being at St. Joseph, Missouri. For want of safe banks, checks and bills of exchange could not be used. People coming to Missouri from some point in a distant state could not carry exchange, letters of credit or traveler's checks, as they do today, because there would frequently be no bank near the point to which they were coming to cash them. So the people who found it necessary to carry money for a considerable distance would often convert their property into gold, put the gold in a buckskin belt made for that purpose, which was then buckled around their bodies beneath their clothing; thus they became their own express. The want of a stable and abundant currency also led too much barter. It was a practice of some of the merchants to gather large quantities of beeswax, tallow, dry hides, the pelts of fur-bearing animals, such as the mink, raccoon and skunk, and send the accumulation to St. Joseph by wagon and there exchange it for goods of whatever character they needed. There was also much barter among the farmers because of the scarcity of money.

I write almost wholly from memory, and may, therefore, be excused if I make some mistakes regarding people and events of over half a century ago. A Pepys would have kept a dairy, but I neglected to do so.

The adult population of Cainsville and vicinity in 1858 are nearly all dead, but they live again in their descendants, who abound. Even the boys and girls from ten to fifteen years of age, who were my school mates, are almost all gone. Among the first acquaintances I made after reaching Cainsville were Lilbum H. and Millard F. Oxford, familiarly known by their nicknames of "Bud" and "Polk" Oxford; James M. Moss, Jr., a son of Dick Moss, and John Robinett. Later I became acquainted with John M. Rogers and T. G. Rogers, Chesley B. Woodward, Alex Cain, Ralph O. Woodward and others. Only two of these mentioned are now living, Millard F. Oxford and Ralph O. Woodward. As far as I know, Millard F. Oxford, who has long been a prominent citizen of Cainsville, is now (October, 1921) the only person living in the town who was there when I came. Ralph O. Woodward lived on a farm adjoining the town. He is now an old and honored citizen of that section of the country, a man of excellent parts, who has stood all the tests imposed upon him.

In January, 1873, I left Cainsville, going to Bethany, and never returned except as a visitor. After living in Bethany twenty-six years, I heeded the call of the West and removed to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where I have since lived.

The men of Cainsville and the country adjacent, at the time under consideration, while not by any means perfect, having as they did many of the foibles, vices and defects incident of frontier life and a pioneer people, yet they were in spite of all drawbacks quite well fitted by reason of their determination, endurance and adaptability to be, and were, efficient units in a population intent upon developing and maintaining a great commonwealth like Missouri. For this they deserve much credit. In the affairs of everyday life they labored under many difficulties and were compelled to go forward as best they could without the help of needed business and social conveniences, such as money, credit, banking facilities, means of easy communication and rapid transportation. There was little money, even less credit, no bank near enough to be of any use, and the mails were carried weekly on horseback. There were no automobiles, no telephones, and no railroad or telegraph nearer than Chillicothe, a distance of forty miles, to which point all goods consigned to Cainsville were shipped. The most abundant thing in the country was land. The business of the people primarily, and almost exclusively, was farming and stock raising, yet they were destitute of effective means for carrying on that business, such means as almost every farmer has at his disposal today. Considering their surroundings, their success in accomplishing as much as they did is commendable, even remarkable. With a slight modification of language we may say of these Knights of the Plow, as the poet has said of the ancient Knights of the Sword:

"Their bones are dust.
Their plowshares rust,
Their souls are with the Saints we trust."

 Harrison County| AHGP Missouri

Source: History of Harrison County, Missouri, by Geo. W. Wanamaker, Historical Publishing Company, Topeka, 1921

 

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