John W. Stevens Letter, Jan. 30, 1879

Jan 30, 1879  Dear Sir: My last article closed with my moving to Persimmon Grove.  That place was then a wilderness for five or six miles above me.  There was plenty of wild game.  About the beginning of 1825 there fell a deep snow that laid on the ground until some time in February, but with the assistance for one month of a hired hand I cleared and fenced ten acres of land and planted it in corn in good time.  That spring I had bought me a horse on credit, as soon as I had my crop laid by.  I went on the Ohio River near where Bellmont now stands, buying standing poplar timber, and shantying out.  This timber I sawed into lumber.  This I followed for several years in the fall, either on the Ohio or the Licking Rivers, often leaving my wife alone with one or two children.  I would frequently, after sundown, walk homne to see how my family was doing and would walk back to my work by sunrise the next morning.  The wolves were very numerous at that time; some times of a night they would come into the yard and run the dog against the door.  Each winter I cleared ten acres of land until I had my farm all cleared of timber.  There were a great many squirrels, but they did not do any damage the first spring, but the second and the third they seemed to know what was in the newly cleared land and would dig out the corn before it came through the ground.  I went to my neighbor, Robert Shaw, and got his son James, who lives near this place.  He killed I think one-hundred in one day.  His gun would become so hot that he would have to go to a spring of water to cool and wash it out.  I write this to show the young himrods of the present time what the young himrods did fifty years ago. [I don't know if he means "nimrods," whether "himrods" is an earlier usage, or just a typo.  At any rate, "himrods" is the word he's using.]  After this I bought a rifle and soon knew how to use it.  In the fall of 1827 I sowed a field of wheat that yielded a good crop, but the price was only fifty cents per bushel in Cincinnati.  In 1828 I purchased 200 acres of land adjoining me, and in 1830 purchased my cousin White's 110 acres.  This land being good for corn and wheat, I put my attention to raising them, taking my wheat to market, and feeding the corn to my stock.  In 1833 I purchased 350 acres more from Southgate.  This land joined what I then owned.  The reader must not think that I paid cash for this land.  I had certain payments to make before I could get a deed.  Of this land, I sold between two and three hundred acres.  About 1839, I bought one hundred acres that still joined me with about 25 or 30 acres cleared.  This, with what I had cleared, made a good farm for my force.  I generally put in from 30 to 60 acres of wheat, the price advancing some enabled me to meet all my contracts.  About 1840 the land above me was being settled fast.  The Germans now on Twelve-Mile Creek, now with their fine farms and vineyards, were some of those settlers.  In the last named year we built a schoolhouse of hewed logs, with glass windows, and put a stove in it.  This house stood where Persimmon Grove Church now stands.  This is where my children got most of their learning.  (to  be continued)  John Stevens


from the Newport Local, January 30, 1879