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yet a British colony, and at the time of its adoption had been repealed so far as it related to the English statutes.
The other laws of 1795 were principally derived from the statute book of Pennsylvania. The system thus adopted, was not without many imperfections and blemishes, but it may be doubted whether any colony, at so early a period after its first establishment, ever had one so good.
And how gratifying is the retrospect, how cheering the prospect which even this sketch, brief and partial as it is, presents! On a surface, covered less than balf a century ago by the trees of the primeval forest, a State has grown up from colonial infancy to freedom, independence and strength. But thirty years lave elapsed since that State, with hardly sixty thousand inhabitants, was admitted into the American Union. Of the twenty-four States which form that I'nion, she is now the fourth in respect to population. In other respects, her rank is even higher. Already her resources have been adequate, not only to the expense of government and instruction, but to the construction of long lines of canals. Iler enterprise has realized the startling prediction of the poet, who, in 1787, when Ohio was yet a wilderness, foretold the future connection of the Iludson with the Ohio.
And these results are attributable mainly to her institutions. The spirit of the ordinance of 1787 prevades them all. Who can estimate the benefits which have flowed from the interdiction by that instrument of slavery and of legislative interference with private contracts ? One consequence is, that the soil of Ohio bears up none but freemen; another, that a stern and honorable regarıl to private rights and public morals characterizes her legislation. There is hardly a page in the statute book of which her sons need be ashamed. The great doctrine of equal rights is everywhere recognized in her constitution and her laws. Almost every father of a family in this State has a freehold interest in the soil, but this interest is not necessary to entitle him to a voice in the concerns of government. Every man may vote; every man is eligible to any office. And this unlimited extension of the elective franchise, so far from producing any evil, has ever constituted a safe and sufficient check upon injurious legislation. Other causes of her prosperity may be found in her fertile soil, in her felicitous position, and especially in her connection with the union of the States. All these springs of growth and advancement are permanent, and upon a most gratifying prospect of the future. They promise an advance in population, wealth, intelligence and moral worth as permanent as the existence of the State itself. They promise to the future citizens of Ohio the blessings of good government, wise legislation and universal instruction. More than all, they are pledges that in all future, as in all past circumstances, Ohio will cleave fast to the national constitution and the national Union, and that her growing energies will on no occasion, be more willingly or powerfully put forth, than in the support and maintenance of both in unimpaired vigor and strength.
HISTORY OF WILLIAMS COUNTY.
BY H. S. KNAPP.
" To gather from still living witnesses, and preserve for the future annalist the important records of the past; to seize, while yet warm and glowing, and inscribe upon the page which shall be sought hereafter the bright visions of song, and the fair images of story which gild the gloom and brighten the sorrows of the ever-fleeting present; to search all history with a steady eye, sound all philosophy with a careful hand, question all experience with a fearless pen, and thence draw lessons to fit us for, and light to guide us through the shadowed but unknown future."-WILLIAN D. GALLAGHER. It may
not be out of place to note, in commencing, some landmarks that indicate changes which time and circumstances have wrought in the habits and customs of the people—to draw contrasts, and then deduce whether old or modern conditions confer the largest sum of happiness upon mankind. Among the pioneer settlers there existed very little distinction in worldly circumstances and modes of life; and disparities in condition only developed themselves gradually, as the wild lands became subdued and reduced to a condition fit for tillage. In the Eastern States, and particularly the State of New York, of which most of the early settlers of Williams County were native, it was neither the indolent nor the opu lent, nor indeed, as a general fact, families possessing even a competence, who would seek homes in the West, to encounter the hazards and privations which attended life in the wilderness. They exchanged a prosperous and healthy for an inhospitable and malarious climate, and they quite well understood, before their resolution became formed to seek a Western residence, that they were sacrificing many home comforts which they could not hope to recover until they had endured years of probationary toil; but their courage, faith and hope impelled them to face all hazards that might offer. In the “old settlements ” as they were designated, many of the new emigrants had been tenants, as were their ancestry. Large portions of the most fertile districts of Eastern and Western New York were owned by a few proprietors—the former section chiefly by the Van Rensselaer families, and the the Western quarter of the State
by the Ilolland Land Company and the Wadsworths and other aristocratic lordlings; and the lands, of course, were cultivated by their tenants, at will, and it was their firm resolve to put forth every manly effort to emancipate themselves from a condition of semi-vassalage which threatened a doom of servitude for themselves and children scarcely less obnoxious than the landlord system, which for centuries had so oppresseul the toiling millions of some portions of Europe ; and they could only escape these evils in removal to the cheap but wild lands of the West, where time, toil and patience would ultimately secure them good homes. It was from the land monopoly ridden sections of the State of New York that a larger number of the early settlers of Williams County principally came. The immigrant would always bring with him a sufficient amount of money to enter a tract of land at Government price, and a little surplus to provide for necessary subsistance and emergencies that might occur. It soon became a feature and a habit among the new settlers to avail themselves of opportunities to interchange with each other acts of neighborly kindness. It was indispensable that neighbors combine their labor when log houses or barns were to be raised, or heavy timber that had been cut or “niggered” into suitable lengths for “logging” were to be stacked together for purposes of burning. In this and some other work, combination of effort in “pulling together" would be advantageous and almost indispensable. No neighbor, whose services were required on occasions like these, would ever fail, except disabled by sickness, to respond to calls made upon him. When one would slaughter a domestic animal, or return from a successful hunt of wild game, all the near fami- . lies would share alike the food. Friendships thus begun and cemented by common privations, perils and associations were among the most lasting and indissoluble that any condition of human society could call into existence, and their beneficent results are visible among remote descendants of the pioneer families of to-day.
EARLY SOCIAL CONDITIONS, It is not necessary to inform the historical student that France held dominion over the immense region west of the Alleghany Mountains, as against all Europeans of other nationalities, and that Frenchmen established military, missionary and trading posts on the Maumee and Auglaize Rivers more than two centuries ago. It would seem probable, therefore, that they also may have had similar posts on the St. Joseph and Bean Creek streams, but no authentic evidence exists to establish such theory. It has, however, been historically demonstrated that at the head and near the foot of the Maumee River French settlements were made, and it was not until after the close of the French war by which the right of eminent domain was transferred from the French to the English monarchy, and not even then, and until after the close of the American Revolution, that the Anglo-Saxon race undertook colonization projects in the region of the Maumee Valley. Looking at the geographical position of Williams County, the inference is a reasonable and almost irresistible one, that, while under the dominion of France, and during many years subsequent to the American Revolution, the French had trails leading through the territory embraced within the present limits of the county, as their often traveled route between the Wabash, Maumee, Detroit and St. Lawrence Rivers would place this county upon their direct line of travel.
The usual homes of all families were in rude log cabins. When the emigrant would reach the wild land he had previously entered (and before he had moved moved upon it) the parents and children would camp near the place selected for the site of their cabin—build fires over which their simple food would be cooked, and the constantly burning fires would also secure them from night attacks by wolves and other forest beasts, as wild animals instinctively dreaıl night fires. At night they lodged in the wagon beds that had been their inn during their journey, and under the canvas tents that had covered and protected them against storms, heat and cold during their wearisome travels. In this way they lived until timber was cut down and logs of proper size and length made with which to erect a a cabin. Then the husband and father would sally forth in search of white neighbors to assist him in raising the rough walls and placing the roof upon his cabin ; and after this first wilderness trial, the family would soon be happily quartered in their new Western home. On many plantations thus commenced, are now reared as expensive and elegant mansions as may be found in cities.
TIIEN AND NOW.
The contrast between the furniture of the cabins and farm dwellings of the present day is no less marked. Upon leaving his Eastern home, the emigrant discovered that, after he had found places in his wagons for such members of his family as were unable to travel on foot, and for necessary bedding, a few cooking utensils and light farm implements, the family Bible and a few testaments and hymn books, only very small space remained. And so the furniture of the cabin consisted of improvised tables, seats, shelving, etc., made of puncheons, and the library was limited very closely to the books above enumerated. Even the coffins that inclosed the bodies of dead persons were made of puncheons, as there was no sawed lumber in the country. Newspapers and other current literature were scarcely attainable, because, generally, there were no post roads and no post offices, except such as were located
at remote distances, and the demands for labor, immediately about the home, were so imperative, and the journey to the post office so tedious, and not infrequently dangerous, that it was not often undertaken.
And now mark the change wrought in a comparatively brief space of time in the social and material condition of the people! On the same acres, so recently covered by a wilderness, where the Indian and wild animal met with scarcely any interference from civilized man, are prosperous commercial towns, and commodious church edifices and schoolhouses. The log dwelling is no longer used; but stately mansions, equal in style of outside and inside architecture, and possessing all home conveniences to the average which the larger cities of the State are enabled to point to.
The religious, literary, educational and benevolent organizations of the county are of a high order. Nearly every town and farm house is well supplied with standard books and current periodical and newspaper literature. In the households of the farmers may be discovered people whose education and refined behavior will favorably compare with those who dwell in cities; while their moral views are probably more elevated. Twenty-four post offices in the county afford mail facilities within the reach of every farmhouse, much more ample than those enjoyed forty-five years ago by the inhabitants of even the chief cities and towns in Northwestern Ohio. Then, and for many years later, not a daily mail route traversed any part of Williams County. The few mails were weekly and semi-weekly, and the most frequent semi-weekly, and all carried on horseback or on foot. There were no bridges over the rivers or crecks. The mail carrier, when he encountered a stream that he was unable to ford, would either plunge his horse into the flood and swim it, or, if a pirogue could be obtained, secure the services of a man, woman or boy to manage it, and placing himself, mail-bag and saddle in this water craft, would swim his horse beside it, aiding the animal to elevate his nose above the water by use of the bridle reins. The contents of the bags would often reach the post office so saturated with water accumulated in crossing streams, as above explained, and often in exposure to rain-storms, that the conglomerated mass would be reduced to a condition nearly resembling pulp. Letters and printed matter often employed the work of tedious hours to separate and dry out, so that the superscriptions could be read; but by exercise of the most patient and judicious care, portions of the matter did not escape utter ruin. These were among the disappointments and privations endured by the pioneers in mail receipts and transmissions. Even after the county became considerably settled, and bridges spanned some of the streams, the stage-coach, familiar in the older settlements of the State, was unknown in Williams County,