Reminiscences of Bygone Years
~Zachariah Van hoose~
Far back in the dim shadows past, my mind wanders, reviving
the memory of persons, places, objects, events, thoughts, sayings, customs,
fashions and a thousand other little matters that appear on the tablets
of memory, some of which are indelibly fixed thereon, whilst others are of
fainter lines, and still others appear to come and go -- according to the light
thrown upon them, appearing quite distinct at one moment and then again becoming
exceedingly dim and shadowy-- changing, dissolving, assuming new shapes and
forms, as often takes place in one's dreams at night.
I first see myself a little child, not more than 3 or 4
years old of age. Father, mother, sisters and brothers all at one large hewed
log house, kitchen with great chimneys, fireplaces to them, bright
crackling fires burning in those fireplaces. The house is on a public road and
among the hills in far-off Kentucky. Our home with its surroundings was a world
within itself. I knew nothing far beyond it. People came and went, stopped at
our house, were entertained, talked, laughed, ate and drank, and went off again.
I knew not whither.
I can remember that I had white or flaxen colored hair;
wore little coats of linsey, colored blue, and made like those worn by small
girls. Sometimes wore long shirts made of flax, coming down to my
ankles, and no other clothing but this for summer weather! I can see my eldest
sister Rachel as a girl of 11 or 12 years doing house work, spinning on a
"big wheel" and mother spinning flax on a "little wheel".
Rachel also looked after me a good deal, washed my dirty face and hands, and
often took me off with Mary and brother Pete into the woods after berries,
grapes, papaws, plums and red haws, walnuts, hickory nuts, hazel nuts and
chestnuts. Often saw snakes, squirrels and many birds on those
jaunts. I can remember a colored woman named "Junie" or
"June" and a colored man named "Danl" or Daniel, who lived
with us about that time and both of whom I greatly loved and who loved and cared
for me a good deal.
I can also remember being sick and of Father nursing me in
his arms, and seeming to be much concerned over me. Of Mother, too, dosing me
with does of raw Garlick, tansy, worm seed and other nauseous things. Not long
after this, I can remember of seeing Mother holding a baby brother on her lap,
in our main sitting room, and of seeing a man called Dr Hopkins, feeling the
pulse of "little George" (as we called him) and all hands were very
much concerned over the affair, as baby was quite sick and getting his breath
with great seeming difficulty. Can now see the old Dr. take a sharp lancet from
its case, bare the baby's arm and stick the glittering instrument in the flesh,
which caused a little flow of blood. This was caught in a vessel of some kind
and the Dr. took a spoonful of this blood and caused the sufferer to swallow it.
That made a lasting impression on me! Poor baby died soon after. I was not able
to realize the fact, as I had never before, seen a dead person. I felt of its
face and found it cold, its eyes closed as in sleep, but not breathing and
panting, nor wheezing, and I was dumbfounded in wonder and amazement. They told
me that my little brother was dead and that we would have to cover him up in the
ground and that I would see him no more.
All this seemed very strange to me. He was buried near the
house, on an eminence, and spot what held with a kind of sacred veneration and
we were ever filled with awe and solemnity on passing or viewing the spot where
the first human being was covered up in the earth, that we had seen dead and
Time passed on for a year or so, and a young man named
Tolton Leek, one of Father's work hands, sickened and died at out house and on
his death bed requested to be laid away beside little George, which was
accordingly done. That was the second dead person seen by us, and there today
slumbers the inanimate dust of those bodies, side by side, awaiting the
Resurrection of the departed.
After the death of this infant brother, another boy was
added to our family and was named James. The same is J. H. VanHoose of
Fayetteville, Ark. Still another boy in due time was added to the household and
he was christened George Washington, and is now living in Arkansas.
About the time of this event, I was confined to bed with
synuvitis of the ankle joint and with the Bloody Flux (which prevailed at that
time - 1832) and came near "passing in my cheeks"! Grandmother V______
died of same malady that year and so did many of the old and young, in Floyd
County, Ky, that same season, of the dread scourge named above.
All of our family suffered more or less from it, James was
at the point of death for days and weeks. I too was like to die from the
combined effects of that and the terrible condition of my ankle. Lost several
pieces of bone from the region of the join of right ankle &c. For a year or
more I was forced to go on crutches after the worst was over.
Prior to this (at 4 or 5 years of age), Old Billy Smith of
Prestonsburg, the County seat of Floyd County, came along one evening and took
me home with him (10 miles up the River above where we lived) and there I stayed
for a week or more. That was my first visit to Town that I can remember! It was
quite an adventure in my life! Thought I had seen nearly all the world! Town (as
we called it) contained about 200 inhabitants! Possibly not near so many. There
I formed a number of acquaintances -- little boys and girls and several older
Old Dr. Tolbert was one of these. I remember of going
upstairs in his building and there finding about a half bushel of worm seed,
cleaned and lying in a pile on the floor in a corner of the room, and knowing
that Mother gave them to us chaps, for a worm remedy, I therefore filled my
breeches pocket with the fragrant seed for future use!
Some years subsequent to this (when 9 years old), I was
again taken to Prestonsburg, there to be treated by Dr. Herriford, for my
diseased ankle (spoken of before), and was boarded at the house of Philip
Strother, a good old Methodist Preacher. Remained there 3 or 4 months. Went
around on crutches, attended school part of the year and was treated by Dr.
H____ who was a descendant of Pocahontas! or was said to be! He extracted quite
a number of splinters and pieces of bone from the region of my ankle joint (the
right one). No one can tell how I suffered from that foot and the mental
suffering caused by being away from home and friends, though kindly treated by
Mrs Strother and all the family. The family at that time consisted of the old
Preacher and wife, daughters Frances, Deborah and sons Joseph and
Anthony. They also had a married daughter Hannah, who lived in the same town.
Here I made the acquaintance of the Mayo's, the Friends,
Everels, Harrises, Mays, Derossetts, Whittens, Waldeck and Wallace, Davises,
Strattons, Halems, Lanes, and many others. Sandy River bounded the town on one
side, and the town was in the river bottom. I remember the old "Gum
Spring" near the edge of the river, under a high bank. Did not have good,
cold, bold running springs like we are blessed with here in the
"West"! I had returned from there and was at home when the "stars
fell" (here is inserted the date 1822, unknown source-mkg) and, as it
happened, not one of our family witnessed the great henomenon. Many people were
alarmed, thinking the Last Day was at hand. Old Prestonsburg was terribly
stirred up. The people prayed and screeched and groaned and wailed. Old Mrs.
Strother shouted and took on, expecting every moment to hear Gabriel's Trump
sounded (so 'twas said) while Frances and Deborah, who were pretty wild gals,
screeched, raved and wrung their hands, held on to their Ma and besought her to
pray for them, but she just shouted away and told them it was too late to pray
now, that she had often warned them of this, but that they would not take heed,
and that now she could do nothing for them. It was too late, too late now!
When I returned home from Prestonsburg, father carried me
in his lap on horseback so as to keep from hurting my lame foot. I was very
anxious to get home to see all the family and the other chaps were as anxious to
see me. James was then only 3 years old, and hearing them say that father had
gone after me and would be home with me that evening, he slipped off, ran away
and met us half a mile from home on the road to town, and some distance out in
the dark woods. I can see yet, how he looked and acted when he saw us meeting
him. He was waddling along, running and tired, almost to fainting, and crying
out, "Dack, Dack! I see Dack!" Not far behind him was some of the
family in pursuit of him, on the hunt of him rather. Paintsville, now the County
seat of Johnson County, was then in Floyd County, and was only 3 miles, or
perhaps a little more from our farm. We used to attend school at that place.
Brother John, who was 4 1/2 years older than me, used to ride (in winter time)
and take me behind him, both riding in the same saddle. In this way I could keep
warm, and John served as a North Breaker to me. At that time I was only 5 years
old, James Franklin was our teacher. On Christmas 1828, at that school, the
large boys "barred the teacher out" and made him treat. I got too much
of it. And I remember that John left me all night at old Billy Ramey's, the old
miller, and there and then I sang "Leather Breeches" for the benefit
of one Hiram Leathers, a sweetheart of Miss Millie Ramey, the miller's daughter.
Along about this period Father ran a Distillery and made
barrels of whiskey! Thought it was all right and proper! Fed large numbers of
hogs on still slop, as it fattened hogs very fast. After a time he
became convinced that he was doing wrong and quit that business altogether. Old
Judge Robbins of Mt. Sterling, the Circuit Judge of our district, was a strong
temperance man and made the first temperance speech (said to be) that was every
made in the country. That speech decided Father in his convictions or wrongdoing
and caused him to quit making and vending ardent spirits. He lost a large amount
of money in the operation, taken as a whole, as he had made quite an out-lay to
get the thing in full operation. Jack Beck, his old distiller, was much grieved
at being thrown out of business and left for other pastures wherein to pursue
his avocation. So much for that.
After the recovery from my sore foot, I was left with a
stiff ankle joint and walked on the ball of my foot and walked with some
difficulty. At 10 1/2 or before 11 years old, I was put to plowing and did
constant service in that way whenever plowing was done, and that was fro March
till August. It was an uphill business for me at first, but after a time I got
along much better and was said to be a very good plow-boy. At any rate, I got
lots of it to do and plenty of other work besides!
While crippled, on account of my diseased ankle and having
been confined for a long time at home (3 months or more), in order to gratify my
desire to be out of doors, my Father would take me astride of his neck, support
my diseased and painful foot in his hands, and in this way would carry me all
over the farm, to my great delight.
On one occasion, I remember we visited a turkey pen at the
lower end of our "old field" on Jennie's Creek, a mile from the house,
and found a wild turkey caught in the pen! I was much excited over this and
wanted to crawl into the turkey trap through the trench leading in, but Father
would not let me, as he said the turkey would hurt me with its wings. So Father
went in himself and broke its neck and we took it and went on our way, the
turkey being added to Father's burden.
A few years prior to this event, some wild bears invaded
this same field and made havoc among the roasting ears growing therein. They
would visit the field at night and kept hidden in daylight. Several attempts
were made to start them with dogs, but it so happened that they did not come on
those nights when the hunters were looking for them. They were cunning bears and
not easily taken in.
After ceasing to search for them, Old Uncle Levi VanHoose
was looking for squirrels one day not far from this same field and very
unexpectedly came across old Madam Bruin and her dusky children, probably
waiting for night to come so as to slip into the corn again. He fired on them
with a squirrel shot and killed on the Mrs. B's children, whereupon she
emigrated and was never heard of in those parts afterwards. So we had good bear
meat to eat, in compensation for the stolen roasting ears.
Raccoons, also, were accustomed to invade our cornfields
and we generally caught and killed a lot of them to pay for it. We had good dogs
and they often caught game of various kinds--treed foxes and wildcats, coons and
possums. Some of these were shot and killed with a gun, and others caught by
cutting down the trees and letting the dogs on them.
Jennie's Creek ran through our farm and it was there I
caught my first fish, and in its waters learned the art of swimming. Trapping
for patridges and hunting rabbits was pleasant past-time in winter. Pheasants
were very plentiful there and were excellent to eat. They resemble our prairie
chickens of this country (Arkansas-mkg)
We had a good peach orchard and also a pretty good lot of
apple trees, all of which bore fruit in great abundance about every 2d or 3d
year. That was rather a poor wheat County; we raised but little of it and what
we did raise had to be cut with the reap-hook or the old scythe-cradle. Then we
had to tramp it out with horses or thresh it out with flails by hand power! We
then took it (a bag full at a time) to the water mill or horse mill, had it
ground. Then the women folks had to "sarch" each mess as 'twas used.
Our "sarches" (as people called them) were made something like a sieve
-- only the hoop contained a bottom of muslin instead of wire or horse-hair.
I can remember when there were no bolting machines in all
the region. One was finally put up in the "Big Paint" mill, 3 miles
from us, and then Old Henry Dixon added on to his horse mill, 3 1/2 miles off.
These were at first turned by hand, but after a little while were geared to the
other mill works and run by the same power that turned the mill.
We used to wear a good deal of home-made cloth,
"Kentucky jeans", linsy woolsey and flax and also cotton. Tow-cloth
was also worn by a good many. We kept a flock of sheep and mother and the girls
spun the wool and wove it into cloth for clothing and made many blankets and
coverlets. They also made some sheets out of flax. Mother was a great flax
spinner and made a large amount of that into cloth. I have worn flax shirts and
pants of her make, when a little boy. People did not buy so many store goods in
those days. Even our winter shoes were home tanned and home made. We had to make
out with 1 pair a year -- that is we boys. Sometimes the girls would be favored
with a store pair for summer wear.
While I was only a small child, not large enought to do any
farm work, father took a family of Negroes to keep and feed, for their help.
This family consisted of Old Anthony and Rose, his wife, some large and som
small girls and several boys, some larger, some smaller, making 8 to 12 in all.
Father furnished them a house on the "burnt Cabin" end of our land and
kept them all for one or two years, but the expense of keeping them so far
over-ran the profits from the small amount of labor gotten out of them that he
(father) was glad to get rid of them again. Then we hired "Patsy" and
her brother "Macy" whom we kept for a long period. They have been set
free by a "will", Patsy to be freed at 21 and "acy" as 25.
Prior to these times they were to be hired out for cash. Last I heard of them
they were free and doing well, out at Mt. Sterling, Ky. Several other darkies
were hired and lived with us from time to time, but father never tried to own
any of them as he looked upon slavery as a curse and always said it would
________ perhaps in a dissolution of the Union, or at any rate a great evil to
country and people.
In those days we had great fun and good times making maple
sugar and molasses. There was a large number of those trees on our place and we
made shugar in the latter part of winter and early spring, almost every year.
Those were time to be remembered, as we had a great deal of fun mixed with ourt
labor and enjoyed the time hugely. We had a camp erected in the woods, a furnace
built filled with kettles, large poplar trough dug out to hold water in, at camp
-- small trough to catch the water at eeach tree tapped and horses and barrels
and halfsleds to haul in the shugar -water to camp. And then at night we stayed
in camp, boiled down the water, told stories, listened to the hooting owls,
dried off syrup in a skillet and ate hot shugar with paddles of clean wood, and
drank spice-wood tea made with the shugar water, ate cold lunch &c &c
Happy were we then.
Our old home, of which I have already spoken was situated on the main road leading up the Sandy River country. It was 9 or 10 miles below Prestonsburg (the County sear) and was 3 or 3/12 miles above Paintsville, which was then in Floyd County but since then has been cut off by a new division of counties and belongs. Johnson County and is County seat of that new County.
Father bought and located on this old farm soon after he
and mother married, which event happened in 1812 or 1813 (am not exactly certain
which one of those dates). Nearly all of my brothers and sisters were born
there, only two of them being born in the far West, as this country and Arkansas
were then called. I was the first one born in the big new house situated on the
road just mentioned a few lines back. Brother Peter was next to me, then George
(who died when an infant) the James H., next another named G. W. VanHoose, next
one called Jacob Monroe, then a sister called Elizabeth, H.B., and Narcissia
were born in Arkansas. Rachel, John and Mary were all older than myself.
The house referred to was built of hewed poplar logs, was
two stories high, had large brick chimney, a huge fireplace below and a smaller
one upstairs. House cealed, had good pine floors and was furnished with several
glass windows. The "upstairs" was the most pleasant part of the house.
There was also a large kitchen built at the southwest corner of our dwellings
and to it was built a large stone chimney and a fireplace adapted to cooking in
those days. A large swinging iron crane was fixed in the jam of this fireplace,
to hang pots and kettles on. Our house has a long porch on the front or east
side and one also one the west, that extended up against the kitchen and made a
very convenient passway into that department.
We had smoke house, stables and other outhouses, a good
paled-in garden, in which we used to pick up scores of Indian arrow points made
of very hard reddish-colored flint. The spot had once been an Indian Village, or
at least a noted camping ground for them. This whole region was at one time
their grand hunting ground and must have been a perfect Indian heaven! as it
abounded in all kinds of game when new and its streams were full of fishes and
the woods full of nuts, fruits, berries &c &c, all in lavish profusion.
The climate was also mild and the whole face of the country was covered with
heavy forests. The surface of the country was uneven, there being hills, ridges,
hollows, valleys and many undulations and uneven places.
The hills, many of them, had pine trees on the tops,
sometimes spruce and there were lots of cedar trees along the river bluffs.
Beech and poplar grew in profusion and many large chestnut trees were found on
the mountain sides and sometimes in the vales. Many other trees and
shrubs grew there, that are not to be found in the western states, or at least
west of the Mississippi River.
The whole country was full of fine timber, a great deal of
which was cut and floated down the river to market. We also used to cut, saw and
make thousands of barrel and hogshead staves and peel cords of tan bark, all of
which we shipped in flat boarts built for the purpose, to Cincinnati and other
markets. Some of my early lessons in sawing were taken, sawing logs for staves.
That was hard work for a boy. We cut white oak trees that were 3 feet diameter
and worked them into staves, one tree sometimes making over a 1,000 of them.
This lumber business was carried on there to a very considerable extent at that
time and still more afterward. The saw-log business became all the rage nearby
in after years, tens of thousands being cut, hauled to the river, rafted or
floated down to market at different points along the Ohio River.
About 1828 Grandfather Mankins, Uncle George Lewis, Uncle
John Mankins and others of our relatives on the mother's side and all of whom
have a place in my early recollections, sold out their lands in Kentucky and
emigrated to Illinois, going in old blue-colored wagons, drawn by fine horses. I
can well remember the grief of friends, various scenes of the starting -- Mother
and Granmother and Mother's younger sisters parting -- they going to wilds of
the Far West and we and others of the conexion remaining behind. It was almost
like being parted by death itself, as we supposed the separation was probably to
be one of forever as to the present life.
Several of us camped with them the first night, at a place
called "The Dopp Hole" in Big Paint Creek, which was 3 1/2 miles below
where we lived and was only 2 to 3 miles from where they all started, which was
"Long Horn Bottom", 6 miles from where we lived. The starting road led
up the stream called Big Paint and was west in direction.
After staying a while in Illinois, some of them returned to
Kentucky ans some stayed longer in Illinois. "Old Uncle Wat" Mankins,
a brother to old Grandfather Peter Mankins, was one of this number of first
emigrants from that region and he did not return. Those that returned to
Kentucky soon became dissatisfied with Kentucky and again struck out for the
Illinois and settled in Vermillion County of that state.
The "Milk Sick" and the extreme weather soon made
them seek a more congenial clime and they all sold out there and come out here
through Missouri. Passing right throught the little settlement in this region
now called Springfield, and wandered on down into Arkansas Territory,and settled
in Washington County, Middle Fork of White River. This was about 1833 or 1834.
They were well pleased with Arkansas and now believed they
had at last found the "promised land", flowing with milk and honey!
They all either bought claims that had been laid on lands, or settled new
places. In this way they became permanently settled and all seemed perfectly
satisfied with the new country, its climate and everything else. It was truly a
desirable place at that period for pioneers and those who were fond of hunting.
Game was in great abundance and of almost every variety. The woods were full of
wild bees, bears, deed, turkeys, coons, panthers and a hundred varieties of
animals and fowls, with a handsome sprinkling of snakes and lizards. Wild fruits
and nuts were found in profusion. The lands were fertile, water excellent, and
timber good and in greatest abundance. There were also a few scattering stones
to be found in many places!
Grandfather and Grandmother Mankins now had most of their
children settled in the new country, close to them -- those of them that were
married -- for they still had 2 boys and 4 girls single and with them. And now
they resolved to have the others left in Ky., namely Bracken Lewis and Mother.
Uncle William Mankins (one of their sons) a married man had also remain in Ky.,
but he had been killed at Paintsville about 1833 or 4 by a horst stunning his
head against the corner of a house. Henry Mankins, another son of theirs, had
been killed in Ky. prior to their leaving for Ill., was killed with a prisn pole
in opening a large board cut.
So these two old people, Grandfather M and Grandmother M
paid us a visit in the early springtime of the year A.D. 1836, with the
intention of getting us off for the newly found Canaan of the Far West. We were
all rejoiced to see them and early listened to their account of Arkansas and
their many adverntures and ups and downs since we had parted with them years
Uncle B. Lewis (who was Mother's own brother) soon sold
out, land and everything that could not be taken along and emigrated along with
the old folks as the returned home to Arkansas. All traveled by steamboat, after
reaching the mouth of Sandy, the same way that Granfather and Grandmother had
gone back there. Wagons were not in the move now. Father sold his land while
they remained with us but we could not get off that spring, much to the regret
of all concerned. We had too much business to settle up to get away on such
About this time, or not far from this, Old Griffith
Dickerson and family and his son-in-law A. Steele came into our part of Ky. and
settled on John's Creek 4 or 5 miles miles above us in Floyd Co. Mr. D and wife
had 4 sons, Thomas, the eldest, who was a man of 30 years perhaps, was rather
weak-minded, from a spell of fever which injured him severely when a small boy.
Two other sons, Silas and James, were young men, about grown, and were bright
and intelligent boys, Silas being the older one. There was a young boy named
John, 10 or 12 years old, being the youngest member of the family. There were
three single daughters, Martha, Jane and Nancy, the latter not grown. They had 2
or 3 daughters married before coming to our country, Steele's wife, a Mrs.
Gillis and one (don't now remember the name). They were a good and very
interesting family and we neighbors with them and became warmly attached. John, the boy, finally sickened an died. James and Silas were industrious
and skillful at any and all kinds of labor and often helped father in boat
building to carry of lumber and tan bark in, and by that means and on account of
his jovial disposition became a great favorite in our family. Silas also was
greatly liked by all of us. He was the elder of the two and was then about 20
years of age (1836). More of them hereafter. Time passes on.
I will now speak of father's brothers, of whom he had
several, and 2 sisters. Uncle James V____ was older than father by 2 years. He
and Aunt Betsy, as we called her, had 11 boys and 1 girl! Felty was next to
father (no, I mistake, it was Levi that came next to Father, and then Felty)!
Uncle Reuben was next, Jesse next and Thomas was youngest. Aunt Betsy and Sally
were along between the boys. Both of them married men named Price. Richard and
Moses. Aunt Betsy married Richard, who was uncle to Moses, the husband of
Sallie. The two girls, the ones named, were alive at last accounts, and only one
of my uncles, Uncle Jesse. A numerous progeny followed in the wake of all those
named, and are scattered over a good deal of territory.
I remember that when a small boy it used to afford me great
pleasure to get off a visit to Uncle Feltie's or to Uncle Jim's! Feltie's good
wife was named "Jemima", a very good and kind woman was she. Her
maiden name was Borders and her folks lived below us on the Sandy River and were
among the good old pioneers of that region. They only had one son John and one
girl (I believe). Uncle Levi had several sons and daughters. John and William
were two of these, the older of the boys, born to his first wife who was a Miss
Clark. He also had 4 daughters by this wife and several sons and daughters by a
John and Bill, as we called the boys named, were playmates
of brother John and myself and often worked with us and fished and played a
great deal with us. They lived very close neighbors to us for a long period of
time. I loved them as well as my own brothers, I believe. They would fight for
John or myself at the drop of a hat and drop the hat themselves if the other
fellows were imposing on us. I remember many interesting things connected with
them and us but too tedious to mention and would be uninteresting to others who
may read these lines. Poor fellows, we would like to see them if still alive, or
to hear from them, which we have not for many long years.
The grave hath swallowed up most of those I have named long since and in a few brief years there will be none of them left to tell the story of their youthful days of any of the events connected with former years, neither theirs nor mine. Time works wonderful changes and soon lays us all away, to await the grand reunion that will ultimately take place, no doubt.
Father sold his farm to old Billy Harris, a neighbor of ours, as before stated, in 1836, before Grandfather M___ and uncle B. left for Arkansas. But we still remained on the place for a year, made a crop, and in selling out we reserved the right of getting out a large board-load of barrel staves and another boat-load of tan-bark and stacked it in the woods to cure. This work and the hauling of the stuff to the river bank occupied most of the spare time from crops, for the years '37 and '38.
In '37 we deserted our old and long occupied home and moved to the River a mile or so away, so as to be handy to our hauling and boat building, for we had two big boats to build to carry off the lumber. This we proceeded to do. We cut our gunwale trees, poplars, one of which furnished us a pair of gunwales 84 feet in length, 7 inches thick, 2 feet 2 in at the bow-rake and about 20 in. at the stern-rake. Of these, with the other timbers necessary, with 2 in. plank for bottom and sides, we constructed the larger boat. We built the smaller one, in which we carried the tan-bark, 60 ft. long and 18 ft. wide and sided up 6 ft. high from the bottom of the boat inside. The larger one was sided up the same way. In this one, when ready, we placed 53,000 staves and heading; in the other about 30 cords of bark. It was very serious job to do all this work, as we had to haul the bark off of the mountain top, a mile or two away, and the staves from many a hollow and branch bottom, 1 to 3 miles away from the River .
About a year, perhaps not so long as that, before getting ready to move, our oldest sister Rachel was married to James P. Dickerson, one of those young men spoken of a little back. Before this, however, or about that time, as I remember, Old Father Griffith Dickerson and his son Silas went on exploring expedition to find some goodly land to which they and other friends would emigrate provided they found a place to suit.
They made their way into the far-off Missouri, visited various points and determined on it as their future home. Old Uncle G_______ returned and left Silas on Gasconade River, where he engaged at work in a saw mill and told his father he would remain there until he, the father, returned to Kentucky and moved their folks all out to Missouri and then rejoin them where they expected to settle. But, poor fellow, he sickened and died there and none of us or his own folks ever saw him again. This was a sad stroke to his parents and the family.
After Dickerson's return home we all set to, in order to get off to the west. They and their son-in-law, Alexander Steele, all sold off their immovable property. We did so, too. We built a small boat in partnership, I believe; covered it and had it made comfortable, for all of us to ride in and carry what household goods we wanted to carry along. There were 4 families to occupy it - Dickersons, Steeles, our own family and James D and sister R., who had not been long married as stated before.
We went ahead in getting our large lumber boats ready for their loading and getting it all collected on the banks of Sandy convenient to load. The spring of A. D. 1839, was now come and this spring was to see us off, make or break. Our boats were loaded, the oars made and hung, the moving boat was also finished and equipped -- all in readiness to receive its precious cargo of anxious children and many an older one not much less anxious. There were about 25 souls altogether, to occupy the little moving boat bound for the Far West.
This was indeed one of the most exciting and interesting periods of all our past history, the late War not excepted! I had been once to the Ohio River two and a half years prior to this. Father and I took our wool to a carding machine over on Twelve Pole, in West Virginia, 60 or 65 miles from home; and we then went over from there, 15 miles or more, to the mouth of Guyan River at Guyandotte -- there to see an old gentleman named Thomas Buffington, with who father lived for a long period when a boy and who he loved and venerated as a father.
That was my first view of the great beautiful Ohio. The River happened to be very full at the time; the driftwood running, the waters muddy and foaming so as to make it quite a sight to me. The River looked to be a mile in width and run with a very strong current. Then and there I saw my first steamboat. 'Twas in the Fall of 1837. Saw 4 boats while there and stayed one day and night. The city of Guyandotte, opposite to Buffington's was a sight to me, truly. 'Twas a very handsome town and larger by far than all the other towns and villages put together than I had ever seen! Had then see only Prestonsburg, Paintsville, Louisa (at the forks of Sandy)
Buffington was very glad to see father, who he had never seen since father was a boy, perhaps not older than I then was (14 years). He also and so did his wife, take on over me a good deal. We enjoyed that visity greatly. The old folks shed tears she we bade them adieu, telling father that they would meet him in the good world to follow this life. We never saw them more from that day to this.
We went back to the carding factory, got our rolls and when we reached the forks of Sandy River, at Louisa, where we crossed on our horses, going to the Ohio -- we now had to ferry over, as the backwaters from the Ohio River had reached that point, 35 miles above the mouth of Sandy. There was at least 6 or 8 feet plumb water of the back waters at this place.
I had much to tell on reaching home, of my adventures and what had been seen by myself and father. I felt that I was a muchly traveled individual, had seen most of the enlightened world, Arkansas excepted, which we hoped to see too before a very great while! Other members of our family had not been so fortunate as myself in the way of travels and sightseeing. John had been to Cincinnati once with father and Rachel had been to Mt. Sterling when almost a grown young lady, but I had seen the majestic Ohio River, steamboats, and a city of some size and many other interesting things and important personages. Oh, how I could now interest the younger boys with stories of my travels and adventures connected therewith. This about 1 1/2 years prior to the interesting preparations for our move the the western country, mentioned some distance back.
Our preparations were now nearly completed. Boats loaded, tied up, moving boat ready to be filled when needed. Only waiting for a rise in Sandy, of depth sufficient to float our heavily laden lumber boats over the shoals in safety. Oh! the anxiety, the dread for fear the required water would not come till the spring would be too far advanced to make the journey before the hot weather to be encountered down on the Mississippi and on the Arkansas Rivers.
We had a great deal of hot weather and sickness (at least some of them had) but I cared for none of these provided we could only get started. The novelty of a move, seeing the sights, seeing new countries, big rivers, steam boats, great cities, new people, and our kindred and friends in Arkansas -- the idea of getting to a land full of wild animals, game, honey and a thousand other interesting things (to say nothing of Indians). All these things made the younger ones of our colony stand on tiptoe of expectation and become exceedingly impatient of delay.
Finally the river began to rise -- 1, 2, 3 ft. and still crawling slowly up the banks. It was now the 3d day of May, 1839. Next day was set for the grand start. The long looked for event was come at last and we were actually on the even of starting. It was 3 to 4 miles up the River to Dickerson's where the moving boat was moored to the bank and where were Old Father Dickerson and family, Sister Rachel and James D., and Steel and his family. I was dispatched up there in the evening, to stir them up and to appraise them of the fact that next day we expected to loose the cables of our large lumber boats and set them afloat on the rolling waters of the Big Sandy, just above "Hell's Gate" and plough through that dangerous pass as a start to Arkansas! and that we wanted them all to be aboard the boat in due time and come floating down the tide and join the starting flotilla on its western journey.
I stayed up there that night, May 3d, but cannot say that I slept, for I was too much excited and too anxious for that. Next morning we got everything ready in good time, and loosed cable and floated down to wher our large boats were tied up and there we landed to get our family aboard. The River bank at this point, the upper end of Hell's Gate shoal, was lined with people, our many friends and relatives gathered to see us off and bid us a last adieu, a long farewell. Many were the tears shed that day and many hearts were sad. We finally took our leave, loosed the cables of our boats, and at 1 or 2, perhaps as late as 3 p.m. we were sailing down the stream to never more return. Z. V. H.
Story Submitted and Courtesy of
~ William "Bill" Liddle ~
ZACHARIAH VANHOOSE the son of JOHN B. and LYDIA LEWIS VANHOOSE was born August 13, 1823 in Floyd Co., Kentucky, and died May 23, 1887 in Dade Co., Mo. He married MILDRED R BARRETT May 05, 1867 in Washington Co., Ar.. She was born December 04, 1836 in Washington Co., Ar. He was a Surgeon during the Civil War and according to Charles Parson's "The Van Hoose Family of Eastern Kentucky" book, he was educated for medicine at Louisville Kentucky, taught at Arkansas College and practiced medicine at Springfield, Mo.
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