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Washington County, Ohio
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History of Belpre, Washington Co., Ohio
By C. E. Dickinson, D. D.
Formerly Pastor of Congregational Church
Author of the History of First Congregational Church
Marietta, Ohio
Published for the Author by
Globe Printing & Binding Company
Parkersburg, West Virginia


Page 43

     MANY families who had been brought up on the frontiers depended entirely on the skins of animals for clothing.  Whole households from the oldest to the youngest were clad in dressed deer skins. Some of them possessed great skill in making them soft and pliable, equal to the finest cloth.  Before the introduction of sheep, buckskin pantaloons were in general use by all the farmers boys.  The New England settlers with most of the frontier inhabitants made cloth of various materials.  For the first two or three years, hemp was raised in small quantities; water rotted and made into cloth by the industrious females of the garrison.  Flax was also raised.  "In the year 1790, Captain Dana sowed a piece of flax, pulled it early in June, while it was in the blossom, water rotted it in a swamp near the river, had it dressed out and spun in the family, and woven into substantial cloth by his son William.  It was made into shirts and trousers for the boys and worn at the celebration of July 4th in Belpre, showing an activity and dispatch which few in this day can equal."  Nearly every family had their spinning wheels, and looms.  With these the girls and young women used to congregate in companies of ten or fifteen in the spacious rooms of the block houses and cheer each other in their labors with song and sprightly conversation.  They used also to stir up their ambition with trial of skill in spinning the largest number of skeins in a given time.  For the first few years cotton was raised in small quantities and manufactured into stockings or cloth, with hemp or flax.  The rich virgin soil of the bottoms, and the long warm summers of this climate caused it to flourish and be nearly as productive as it now is in Tennessee.  After a few years the early frosts of Autumn destroyed much of it before the floss was formed and taught them that this was not the proper climate for cotton.

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Capt. Devoll invented a machine with rollers which separated the seeds from the cotton in quite an admirable manner but not quite equal to Whitney's celebrated gin.  He also constructed a mill with wooden rollers, worked by oxen, for crushing the green stalks of Indian corn, from the juice of which a rich syrup or molasses was made in considerable quantities.  When carefully purified it answered well for sweetening puddings, pies, etc.
     About the year 1800 Dr. Spencer of Vienna, Wood County, Va. raised in his garden cotton the stems of which were eight or ten feet high and produced forty pounds of long, fine cotton in the seed on three square rods of ground.  It was planted early in April by a colored woman who had been familiar with the culture in the South.  It must be recollected that cotton at that period was worth forty or fifty cents a pound, and was just coming into cultivation as a staple in the Southern states.  Rice, of the variety called upland, was also raised in small quantities, during the early years of the settlements; showing that this climate could produce several articles, now brought from abroad, should the necessities of the people ever require it.  Silk worms were raised by the females in Gen. Putnams family and the cocoons reeled and spun into strong sewing thread as early as 1800.  They were fed on the leaves of the white mulberry, raised from seeds brought from Conn.  Sheep were not introduced until after the war, in 1797 or 98; the first came from Pennsylvania.  For more than twenty years nearly all the clothes worn in the families of farmers, and many in town for every day dresses, were made in the houses of the wearers by their wives and daughters.


     Early in the Spring of 1793 the large community in Farmer's Castle found themselves so much straitened for room and withal it was so inconvenient cultivating their lands at such a distance from their dwellings that they concluded to divide their forces and erect two additional garrisons, to be occupied by the families whose lands lay in the vicinity.  Accordingly one containing two block houses was built a mile below, inclosed with palisades and called "Goodale's garrison," and one on the bank of the Ohio two miles above, called "Stone's garrison," and the families

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moved into them that Spring.  The upper one contained four block houses, a school house, and several log cabins accommodating about ten families, and the lower one six.  Wayne's army was now beginning to assemble on the frontier, and the inhabitants were cheered by the numerous boats, almost daily descending the river with provisions and detachments of troops, whose martial music enlivened the solitary banks of the Ohio, and removed their apprehentions of a general attack from the Indians, so depressing after the defeat of Gen. St. Clair the previous year.


     On March 1st, 1793, the colony met with the most serious loss it had yet felt from their Indian enemies, in the kidnapping and ultimate death of Maj. Goodale.  On that day he was at work in a new clearing on his farm distant about forty rods from the garrison, hauling rail timber with a yoke of oxen from the edge of the woods bordering the new field. It lay back of the first bottom in open view of the station.  An Irish man, John Magee was at work grubbing or digging the roots of the bushes and small saplings on the slope of the plain as it descends to the bottom, but out of sight of Maj. Goodale.  The Indians made so little noise in their assault that John did not hear them.  The first notice of the disaster was the view of the oxen seen from the garrison, standing quietly in the field with no one near them.  After an hour or more they were observed still in the same place, when suspicion arose that some disaster had happened to Mr. Goodale.  One of the men was called and sent up to learn what had happened.  John was still busy at his work unconscious of any alarm.  In the edge of the woods there was a thin layer of snow, on which he soon saw moccasin tracks.  It was now evident that Indians had been there and had taken Maj. Goodale prisoner, as no blood was seen on the ground.  They followed the trail some distance but soon lost it.  The next day a party of rangers went out, but returned after a fruitless search.  The river was at that time nearly at full banks and less danger was apprehended on that ac- count.  It was also early in the season for Indians to approach the settlements.  The uncertainty of his condition left room for the imagination to fancy everything horrible in his fate; more terrible to bear than the actual knowledge

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of his death.  The distress of Mrs. Goodale and the children was great.  His loss threw a deep gloom over the whole community, as no man was more highly valued; neither was there any one whose counsels and influence were equally prized by the settlement.  He was in fact the life and soul of this isolated community and his loss left a vacancy that no other man could fill.  His memory was for many years fresh and green in the hearts of his contemporary pioneers.  At the treaty of 1795, when the captives were given up by the Indians some intelligence was obtained of nearly all the persons from this part of Ohio, but none of the fate of Maj. Goodale.  About the year 1799 Col. Forrest Meeker, afterwards a citizen of Delaware County, and well acquainted with the family of Maj. Goodale, and the circumstances of his capture, when at Detroit on business fell in Company with three Indians, who related to him the particulars of their taking a man prisoner in Belpre in the Spring of 1793.  Their description of his personal appearance left no doubt in the mind of Col. Meeker that it was Maj. Goodale.  They stated that a party of eight Indians were watching the settlement for mischief; and as they lay concealed on the side of the hill back of the plain, they heard a man driving or "talking" to his oxen.  After carefully examining his movements they saw him leave his work and go to the garrison, in the middle of the day.  Knowing that he would soon return they secreted themselves in the edge of the woods, and while he was occupied with his work, sprang out and seized upon him before he was aware of their presence, or could make any defense, and threatened him with death if he made a noise or resisted.  After securing him with thongs, they commenced a hasty retreat, intending to take him to Detroit and get a large ransom.  Some where on the Miami or at Sandusky, he fell sick and could not travel, and that he finally died.  A Mrs. Whittaker, the wife of a man who had a store and traded with the Indians at Sandusky, has since related the same account.  That the Indians left him at her house where he died of a disease like pleurisy without having received any very ill usage from his captors, other than the means necessary to prevent his escape.  This probably is a correct account of his fate; and although his death was a melancholy one, among strangers, and far

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away from the sympathy and care of his friends, yet it was a relief to know that he did not perish at the stake or by the tomahawk of savages.



Manuscript Notes of Judge Barker.

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