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Life during the `homespun years,' the autobiography of Phoebe Loretta Farr

Arriving at Cleveland
The Indians
Learning to spin
A fire

MennoTy46@aol.com wrote:

Came across this written back in the late 1800's and would love to share it with the group.

It will be posted at the cemetery site regarding the general history of the area - as long as I need to type it, I thought I would pass it on to you.

``Mrs. Phoebe L. Farr has been a resident of Lorain county for the past three-quarters of a century, and has been an eyewitness to its full development.

She is a native of New York State, born in 1812 in the town of Ovid, a daughter of Henry and Eliza (Glazier) Halford, who were married in New York State.

In 1817 the family set out with a team on a journey to the then "Far West", arriving in Lorain county, Ohio, in February, 1818, and settling in what is now Carlisle township, where they followed agriculture. The father died in Carlisle township in 1859, the mother in in 1862, in her eightieth year.

This autobiography of Phoebe Loretta Farr, written about 1890, was brought to the Chronicle-Telegram news office by the author's grandson.''

This account of life in early Lorain County is shown just as Mrs. Farr wrote it, with some minor punctuation changes. Please see http://mennoty.com/bios/farr-phoebe.htm for the original text.

``Phoebe Holford was born in the year 1812 July the 13th in the town of Ovid, York State.

My father was drafted. The neighbors told him he was drafted, and not too stay and be notified, but to leav, so he left. Nowone new his whereabouts, he left befor i was born.

I never see my father till I was a year and 10 mos. old, then he came home, then he moved to Homer from ther to Virgil, from ther to Genoa, from ther to Lionstown, from ther to Phelphstown, then I was three years old.

Ther I had unkles and aunts. They took lots of pains to learn me to read, and our nearist neightbor taught school and she always wood stop for me and my brother Rheuben and we went to school.

My aunts used to cut callicos and bast them for me to sew. They learnt me to knit and peast calicos before I was five years old had knit me a pare of stokins, and I peast a bed quilt.

There was a man that came to fathers, that had been to Ohio. He praised the country up so much it give my father the Ohio fever. I can never forget how he praised up the country. Well all that, ther was nothing to do but he must and wood come to Ohio.

All that mother could say was of no use, so he bargened with a man to take his place and let him hav a span of horses harnes and a wagon and take his home providing he likt it when he rote bak, so I remember one morin early father took his pak on his back, and started for Ohio.

He had been gon only won week when mother got a letter from father. It was a solum day to mother. he wrote to mother get redy as soon as posabel and come on for the ferther he went the better he likt the plases.

I remember well how sad we felt when mother parted with all her brothers and sisters, but won sister she came with us. It was hard to leav all our aunts and unkels and all our cousins and school maits and neighbors. It was a solum day to us all.

Well it was jest as winter set in. Ther was a man by the name of Ealy drove the team till we met father. He was intending to come out to Ohio to look and see for him self how he liket it.

He put fathers wach in his poket. He told mother he wood giv it to father when they should meat, but when he got wher father was he was home sik so he went back and sed nothing a bout the wach, and he took a box of provisions.

By this time it was geting cold, and my brother Jereymiah was very sik. We drove on with the wagon till the sno got so deep that it was to deep to go with a wagon, then father stopt and maid some runers and set the whels on them so we came on.

Our wagon was covered with linen cloth that mother wove, we was very comfortabel only the babe was very sik till the first of January then it was a very cold and stormy day.

I was sik all day and the snow blew so that we could not see that horses. Father drove only six mils. He drove up to a tavern, and ask for entertanement. The landlord sed he was prety full but he wood try to acomodate us. Well we all got and went in.

Soon the hosler came in to see if he should take care of the team and it was an awfull great black Negro. My brother an I was nearly fritend to deth. I thought it was the devel. We caught hold of mother and screamd too the top of our vois.

Mother told father wee could not stay ther so we all got in to the wagon and wen a mild ferther and put up for the nite. It was the first Negro I ever saw and mother had alwase told us if wee don eny thing rong the black man wood cary us of se wee thought he had come after us shure.

Wee told her wee hadent don eny thing and she tried the very best she could too make us beiev that he was only a colerd man but it fritend us so wee never could get over it.

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Wee then came on day after day till we came to Cleveland. It was a small villeg. Wee stayd ther too days. Mother washt and don some cooking then we started on our jorney.

The rode was throu the woods. It came rite up over the hog back. Wee all had too come up it a foot. Aunt Maby went behind the sled and bloket the runers then we came on till we got to Rokey river.

Ther we stopt. Father ses let us go bak. We hav gone far enof, but mother sed no, wee hav nothin too go bak too nor enything too go with and I never put my hand to the plow then look bak.

It was then father set down and gave vent to grief. He cried like a littel child but all he could say mother woold never giv her consent too go bak so we came on too rigville senter. There we staid all night. There was a few inhabitents.

The sno begun too melt. We stayd all nite. The next day wee came to Elyria. There was a little log hut stood down at the east end of main street on the bank of the river. wee stopt there and mother got dinner.

There was Mister Eley and another man. They took dinner with us. Then wee came up too wher the county house is now. Mister Bacon lived near ther. wee stopt there, the snow was gone. It was the 14th of febuary in 1817 John Bacon came. The fourteenth of the next year 1818 wee came.

The snow had all gone. Mister Bacon perswaded father too stay so he went too work a choping logs to bild a house too liv in or what is called the county farm.

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They soon got logs enough for a house. They was redy too rais the house. It was a wildernes but ther was lots of indiens lived hear. It was ther hunting grounds. When father raised his house the indiens came and ther squas. They all helpt rais the house.

They had a lot of fun. They wood hoop and hollow and laugh. Mother had a three part kettel and she maid it full pot pie out of venison. They all eat supper. It was fun for us children too hear the indians talk in ther one language. When they got don eatin the indians wood say it is so good. Every nite the wolve howld.

There was no mills short rokey river and it was very wet. The woods was full of water and wee had not had any bred for a month or more. So Mister Bacon and my father took each of them a bag of corn on ther back and went to Rokey river to mill. At noon it comenst to rain. It raind all nite, an the river was up full banks.

There was no raft nor brig too cros the west branch so ther was no other way but too swim so they puld of ther cloths and put ther cloths on their sholders and ther bag of meal on top of them then they swam a crost the river.

Father got hold of some booshes and clim out then uncle John Bacon sed he never could get out of the river but father got hold of his hand and helpt him out. They put on ther cloths and came home.

The woolvs wer howling all over the woods. Us children had gon too bed but wee all got up and mother soon sifted som meal and stired up a cake and put it too bake. When it was don it was cut in peases like you woold cut a pie then us children could hav a peas.

I tell you it was good as long as that meal lasted it was baket and servd round like a pi then unkel John sed he never woold go ther too mill any more.

There was a big oak stump rite before his dore so he went to work and dug it out hollow like a larg bole and he then put up a sweep with a larg mall on the end. Then he could pound corn fine enough to make bred so then wee usd too go ther and pound corn so we had bred.

When we got the land cleard so he could rase corn wee had green corn and when it begam to be hard wee usd to jount it of of a plane and mother wood boil it in a kettel all day then eat it with milk. Wee used to call it hominy. Wee maid lots of shugar.

Ther was lots of cramburreys and grape fox and frost grapes and the big blew grapes, wild plumbs and about a mild and a half west of us there was a family lived. They chopt down a lot of trees and burnt the brush

And one mornin Mrs. Beach went too get the tea kettel and ther was a big rattel snake coild round the kettel. A night or two after she woke up and she sed to Mister Beach ther is something by my bak that is cold as ise. He ses lie still. He got the shears and cut her nite cloths of then he took her out of bed. It was a big yellow rattel snake. so they left the plase. It grew up to briers. Wee ust too go ther and pik lots of blak berries and often wee wod kill three or fore a day.

One time my brother and I was pikin beris and wee herd the stiks snap. Wee lookt and ther was a big black bear. We screamd the bear run then we went a littel ferther there was a big rattel snake. Ther was lots of rattel snakes woolvs and bear, wild cats and heg hogs coons posums and deer.

I hav seen 8 or ten deer running throu the wood too gether. the cattel ust too run in the woods, the horsflies was terabel bad for them and musketos nats was bad.

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The spring after I was seven mother lernt me to spin tow. I wasent tall enough to turn the wheal so they layd down a big bloc, one at the hed of the wheal and the other at bak and then she layd a punchion bord for me to walk on. That raisd me up so I could turn the rim. Then I ust too hav too spin four nots of yarn a day.

It wood take me all day at first. Mother used too card the roles in the evening and after I got so I wood get my [task] don early then mother wood ad too nots more and before the spring was gon I could spin ten nots and get it of in good seson.

Then she lernt mee how to card tow and make my own rowls and when I had any leshur time I us to hav to was the dishes and sweep and tend the babe.

Ther was an indian baby born on the rige. It used to be cald punkin rige then and the littel one was taken sik and it died.

The old indien came after mother and she went over too the tent and father and mother brought the little won too our house and mother drest it for the grave and Mister John Bacon maid the coffin and mother laid the littel wone in the coffin.

There was a lot of indians, Mister Bacon and his family and ther was the Farr family came ther too see the littel wone and the old indien and the squa. They neald by the coffin and mother prayd then the poor indien shook hands with all in the house. And he strapt the coffin on his bak and he started for Sinduskey with a basket of provishon in his hand.

It was a solum day. the mother and littel boy stayd with us till the old indien returned. It was a solum day as I ever saw. It was the first deth that had ben in Carlisle.

When the old indien returned he sed he travild on til night then he set the littel coffin down and laid him self down, his bed clost by the coffin and rested till morning then he went on. He sed ther was indiens ther that dug the grave and burid his littel babe.

I can never forget how they wept when they met. When he got back they stayd too our house all night then they went too ther tents, it was a lonesome day.

The indiens use too go rite by our house in the spring when they went to Cleveland in drovs thirty or forty in a drove one rite after the other, the young indiens was stropt on the poneys bak.

Ther was an old squaw had a littel babe on a bord. She carid it on her back/ when she got to Cleveland she set the littel on up by the dore of the store and went in. Ther was an old sow took the child and run and before they could get too her she had killed it and torn it to peases.

They tied it up in a blanket and carid it too Sinduskey for buriel. The hole tribe went. It was bout the time they went for the sumer too plant corn. They stayd there till fall then they would come bak.

It wasent long before the white peopel began too settel in too town of Elyria. Mister Ely and Mister Sylvester Cooly bilt a small store. Mister A. Beebe came and he bilt a tavern.

Ther was lots of travel. Peopel going west. I think it was in 1821 that Mister Musey came. He had three sons. He had taken up the tract of land now cald Carlile and ther was three plases improved. It was John Bacon and father's and Burton Wate. They had maid some improvements.

Musey wanted the plases for his three sons so he gave them ther chois any wher they likt on his reserv so they all went in too the woods agane. Whilst we lived on our first plase wee hav had meny moore as stay at our house as wee was awa from the rod [road].

The rods was just the underbrush cut and the small trees cut so that they could go throu with a wagon or sled.

Father us too pull of his corn when it was ripe and put it in a wagon and draw it in the barn then the indiens wood come in the evening and help husk it out and when he was clearing land when he got the brush burnt he usto make a bee and the indiens wood come and help role the logs intoo piles so he could burn it up. They never was a hard word.

It was all peas till the white setlers began to settel in pretty fast then some of the men from rigevill and Elyria came and told them that they must leav or ther was a armey of men coming to kill all ther horses and them too if they dident go.

Ther was an old indien and his squaw and ther boy that lost ther babie came to our house. His name was walis. They stayd all night, they bid us good by shook hands with us and left. They never came bak eny more. Wee mis them for wee usto go up too ther tents and see them dres ther skins and make mogisons and mittins. They usto trim ther mogisons with heg hogs quills but they all left. Wee never see them eny more. It dident seem rit too drive them of.

I remember whilst they was hear one nite it raind awful hard. The fier blased up. It wok mother up. She look too see what it was and mother wok father. She sees there is some won on the herth an father lookt. He ses John is that you. He ses ha ha. He ses it rains the wig wam leaks, befour monin ther was a dosen or more that com in. They eat brekfast then they all left.

They was kind. They never offerd too hurt eny wone. They had the best rite and it seemed hard that the white peopel should drive them of.

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Wee had been hear fore years before ther was a chool. Then father swapt his plase for wone on the laport rode. Ther was a chool over the river wher the White mill is.

Harriet How taught the sumer and Elishew Cooley taught the winter chool. Wee had too go too mils too chool. It was a treat too me too go to chool for I hadent ben too chool since wee left our home in York State and I was nine years old.

When it got very cold wee had to stay at home so wee dident get much choolin. When I was eleven ther was a chool started in Carlile. It was not far from wher the chool house is now and teacher borded at our house. His name was John Northrum.

Then wee us too have too miles and a half. Then we us too hav to cros the river on the ise. The next spring my brother henry and I was going home from chool and as was going throu the woods ther was too big gray woolvs came intoo the path before us.

Wee thought it was Abel Farrs dogs. He had won he kept a bras ring round his nek. Wee thought he had got another gest lik his so he had taken the ring of so as too have them look alike. Wee was pleased. Wee thought that Mister Farr was at our hous so we cald them and whiseld for bose, we offered them som of our dinner. They woold cros the path before us -- first won way then bak a number of times. Wee still thought they was dogs.

When wee came near the fence they went out a littel ways and wee got over the fence and we cald them they came up too the fence put ther feet up on the fens they stuk ther nose up and howld. It was then that wee new what they was.

I tell you if our feet ever done us any good it was then. Mother herd them howl. It fritened her. She was shure they had caut us. She run out too see and she see us coming. She set down on the ground with a thankful heart.

When wee came up mother put her arms a round us and she sees I thought I never should see you eny more. And when we told her that we cald them and that wee ofered them some of our dinner she sed if wee had ben afraid of them they woold shurly of kild us but mother sed the lord be blest he is wise in all his purposes.

Well the next fall father had too take his old plase in Carlile back but the fall befour wee moved my oldest sister and I wee came over too Mister Frost too see ther girl.

Wee stayd till the sun was nearly down then wee started for home and it grew dark fast for it was all the way woods an wee hurid along and the rode had only ben run out and some of the small trees cut out and the larg wons was what they cald blasd. The bark was hewd of a spot on won side so they could tell wher to go then it was left.

Ther had ben some larg trees fell acrost the rode and it had grown up too weeds, the path that wee had out too hav taken turnd of on just as wee rased the hill from the fuley, but in our hurey wee mist it and followed the rode wee us to call the girdell rode.

When I found that I had mist the path I derst not go bak too look for it. The woolvs began to howl and sister louisa began to cry but I told her too stop the woolvs wood hear her and come after us. And it got so dark. When i came too a big log I set her on the log and went too the root of the tree then come wher sister was then take her on my bak and go on.

I was nearly fritend too deth but wee came out rite wher they was bilding a cort house, ther wasent but a few families lived in Elyria then but I went intoo a mister porters too see if I could get a lantern but they dident hav eny.

She sed I could get won too Doctor Butlers so wee went ther and wee went in. The doctor set ther and his wife too. The doctor laft and ses you are out late but it was some time befire I could tell what I wanted but when I ask too borow the lantern he sed that he could not sparit for he might hav to go a wa and he wood want too go and get his horse.

He sed that they wood nothing toch us. He had ben throu ther lots of times and nothine hurt him. His wife wonted him to go with us but he sed they wont anything toch you. We went.

The woolvs was howlin all throu the woods. It was a mild an a half but wee got home and the doctor woold laf at mee for being a frade all ways.

Whilst wee lived on the county farm John Bacon and father went too the falls wone hot sumer day to shoot rattel snakes. They sed they lay ther in piles as big as a half bushel.

I don't remember how many they sed they kild but it was a big number and Mister Ely told the Farr boys if they would cach a rattel snake and not have it bite him self and bring it too him alive he wood give them a half doller so Abel Farr caught the snake and took it too Mister Eley

And he took the snake and laid it out strate on a big log fasten his tale and his hed so he could not stur then Mister Ely got down on his nees and bit the snake from his hed to the tale along the bak too pre serv his teeth, he sed some won told him that it wood keep them from decayin but I could not say whether it did or not.

Well father mooved bak on the old farm it is now calld the squiers farm too liv. Ther wee had the fever and ago [ague], it was all I could doo too stand on my feet.

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The winter after I was twelv fathers house was burnt and when wee all got out of dors began to snow. They carid water from the crik and trid ther very best too put out the fier but was of no use.

And when it was all burnt down then mother told father he had better take the flax out of the crib so she could put the beds in ther so the children could go to bed but old Mister Obed Gibbs sed no you wont. You will go to my house. You wood all fres too deth.

Then they lookt for my cloths but they must have been dropt when they carid out the beds and they was burnt so i had not eny thing too put on and wee dident have nite dresis too sleep in as they doo now. I had nothing by my shirt on so mother took a littel yard blanket that she had round the babe and pind it round my wast. Then the snow was ankel deep. I had no shoes nor stokin.

I took my sister on my bak and went over too Mister Gibbses. And Mis Ransom Gibs sed mother had better let me go over too her house and stay for ther wasent so meney comin in at her house so I went and ther I set for three weeks in the corner without any cloths on and took care of mothers babe whilst she went up too Mister Bacsons too weave som cloth too make me a dres on.

Father was cutting logs too bild us a house too liv in. As soon as he got it rasd the rof on and floor laid down wee went intoo it and mother got cloth enough wove too make mee a dres, the fillin was spun out of blak sheeps wool and wove on too white coten warp. I tell you I was proud of it. I never had a dres that I was so proud of before nor since.

When wee went in our house mother would set up nits till mid nite kep fier too keep us warm, then father woold get up and keep fier. He wood chink up the craks in betwen the logs whilst wee slep. It was very cold.

The next fall father sold his house and he took nots and then he moved on too a farm that he took to work near rigville line and he stayed ther a year and then bought a place in Florance.

I was out too work. Father stayd ther till the man that bout his plase died then father had too take his farm bak and I was too work out all the time unles our folks was sik.

I never lived at fathers nor had a pena's work only what I workt out and earnt. After I was thirteen years old I worket sumers too get my cloths and save money enought to pay my chool bill then I would find a plase too bord wher they woold let me work for my bord and go too chool.

Father had a larg family with out mee. I usto get seventy five cents a week. That was all that eny girl could get a week for dooing hous work and had to pay forty sents for a yard of white cotten cloth or calico.

If I spun tow fillin I usto have too card and spin thirty nots for a rols so as too gane time then I could spin too run. Then I could gane one day in three if I spun linen.

I had too spin thirty nots for a day's work. And if I spun wool roles I had too spin too run of fillin or thirty nots of warp and they wood bord mee.

I only got sevnty five sents a week and wee thought wee was dooing well. Sometimes by working early and late i could mak ten shillings a week but wee had too work hard and stedy. I had a chance too see a great differance in folks for I workt out for seven years.

I met with a great meny difrent dispotions too get along with but I found that evry won had some faling or other too get along with. Well I thought if others have ther faling i must have some too. And it mite be that it was wors for them too get along with than thers was for mee, so I would let it go and try too bear it as well as I could.

Sometimes when I woold go home too see mother I woold tell mother that no girl of my age had too work so hard as I did but mother always wood hav some good advise for me. But as years rold on I could see that every won rich or poor had ther throubels.

Time past on, when I was seventeen I was too work for Mister Ebineser Griffith in the bording house in Elyria. There was a camp meting and I went. It was ther that I was convinst that wee was not our own keepers and learnt too trust the lord for he noes best what is for our good. And from that day as time past I have found the lord a presant help in evry time of need.

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In 1830 that winter I went too chool and in spring it was April the 11 in the year 1831 I was marid to Loell Farr. Then I stayd at fathers two weeks then we went to his unkels. Ther wee stayd too months then wee hiered a room of his cosin and went to keeping house.

My brother made me a bed sted and wee got three kichin chairs a set of plats, six was called a set and six cups and sausers, 6 nives and forks, 6 tee spoons and three larg spoons and 3 bole and two or three dishes too put vituals on and a tea citel a dish ketel a spider and som pans and a stone churn. It al cost us 12 dollars.

And ther was a man had a peas of land he sold my husband. He sold us and took Mister Farrs nots and gave him a deed of the land.

Wee bought us a cow. Mister Farr had a yoke of oxen, we went rite intoo the woods and went too work and cut logs too bild a house on, and the last day of August wee had got our house up and the roof on and a hole cut for the dore and windo and half of the under floer laid. And wee moved in too it with out any dore or windo or chimney but wee had our health.

I took in washing and sowing. My husband was choping and he cleard of and sowd three akers of wheat. I sowed and bought three hens. I raised 30 chickens and I raisd a calf. The next spring I got some gees eggs set them under a hen. I rasd then nine goslins.

January 27 Eliza C. Farr was born. The woolvs yous too howl all most evry nite. Mister Farr youse to set traps and he caught lots of them. And he kild lots of dear and rack coon and foxes, squirels and wild cats and blak bear.

He chopt and cleard of four or five akers that winter for corn. It was the happyest day of our life. I had a curly chest that I took the lid and lay it on a salt beril that served for a tabel. Wee bord holes in the logs and we laid bords on them too put our dishes on and wee had a water bench the saim way.

I use too milk the cow and feed the hog. Well when Mister Farr got his log heeps burnt then he yous too scrape up the ashes intoo heeps then in the eavning I wold get the babe too sleep and I wold go and help him carey them too the ash house.

And when he got a hundred or two bushels then he wood put them in too a leach and when he got them wet down a and got the caldron ketel full and got it too boiling then I woold take my baby and my work and go and stay ther and put water on the leach and bild up the fier whilst I got his diner.

And then I could ten it til night whilst Mister Farr was choping down the big trees too clear the land. When wee had got 6 or 7 hundred pounds of blak salts he woold cary too Elyria and get 3 or 4 dolars a hundred for it. The money was saved too pay for the land.

And there was a bounty on woolvs, a state bounty 8 dolars and a county bounty was 12 dolars. And throu the winter he yous to trap for woolvs. He wood cach som three or four in the winter and the money saved for too pay for our home. The wheat he yous to cradel it and bind it by hand and mow his gras with a sithe and rake it with a hand rake.

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In 1837 we lost wone of our children. She was shokt by litning. It was a hevy blow too us. Time past along not without cares and hard labor till in 1840 then Mister Farr had just got his hayin and harvistin don when he was taken sik with the sinken tipos feever and he came very near dying.

Wee had three littel girls and wee was three quarters of a mile from a neighbor. It was hard for me. For five weeks i never layd down on the bed. I usto set by the bed and hold his hand in mine.

If he mooved it woold wake me then I would give his medison. I thout he woold die. Tell you it was a terabel time.

My sister stayd with me nits but she wasent abel too set up nits and I darsent trust enywon too set up alone with my husband he was so sik. One nite my sister told her husband he must set up.

He sed if I wod go to bed he wood. And he promis too wach him carful and not let him over sleep. He took the directions too giv the medison and he took the wach and set down. I got on the bak side of the bed. I took my husbands hand in mine and I soon was a sleep.

In a short time he maid a stranglin nois. I sprung on too the floor and he was gone to all apearance but I put some brandy in his mouth and rubed him. After a while he catt his breth and with care he got well.

I tell you I dident leav him agane till the doctor sed he was out of danger. And when he got so that he could walk out of the doer with a cane he sed the little girl mite cary a chare out too a shok of corn. He could husk a half of a bushel for too feed the hogs and he did but he blistered his hands so that he could not do enything for some days.

And the 3 of October wee had another girl and she was all ways a littel sikley child till she was a woman grown. Sins then her health is better. ''

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