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CLEVELAND'S GOLDEN STORY
They came years before Lincoln. Measured in terms of turmoil and suffering, they preceded the Emancipator by ages. And yet they were the type of men and women whom the minstrel of democracy, Vachel Lindsay, sings:
"We must have many
Lorenzo Carter, James Kingsbury, Nathaniel Doan and Abram Hickox kept at bay the wilderness attempting to re-invade the city projected by Moses Cleaveland, In recording their courageous frontier struggles, let us not forget the women who contributed to "the winning of the West." A new England woman once wrote
in a letter to a friend, "We speak of the hardships of the Puritan fathers. But, mark you, the Puritan mothers had to endure the Puritan fathers." Aside from such domestic problems, the women of the Western Reserve met genuine affliction with a smiling bravery.
The good wife of Lorenzo Carter stared westward with her stalwart husband from Vermont. Reaching Buffalo in the late fall, they decided to spend the winter months in a more advanced settlement on the Canadian side. But before they crossed the rushing Niagara, Mrs. Carter gave birth to a child. Her baby's attendant was Chloe Inches, a young Canadian girl. Here was this untaught maid in Kipling's lines:" Who stands beside the Gates of Birth, herself a child- a child unborn."
Whether it be her name or the circumstance, something makes Chloe a fascinating figure in this story. Her name signifies in the Greek, "verdant or blooming." Chloe, named for a heroine of Greek romance, a shepherdess in Sidney's "Arcadia," the wife in a homely Ben Jonson comedy, the wanton shepherdess in Fletcher's allegory; this girl coming from parents who had a touch of Old World culture, witnessed life in one of its most uncompromising aspects.
The Carters went on to Cleveland in the spring. A spot on West Second Street was the
location of their first Cleveland home. There was no going to market for provisions in those days- not even a "cash and carry" system obtained. Carter and his faithful dog made for the woods and returned with venison and other game. They came back with provender in plenty because the mighty man had tiny and precious mouths to fill. the meats were roasted on a spit before an open fire. The way of living was elemental and Carter's children sorely missed the little refinements of the home back east.
Misfortunes visited the family often and severely. the children set fire to the new house. Carter stoically set out to hew new logs for a new and larger one, which he made into a tavern to entertain infrequent strangers and to form a social centre for the village. Much to Mrs. Carter's dismay, the Indians would come into the tavern, group themselves about the fire and sleep through the day, indifferent to household routine.
During this period, Lorenzo Carter was growing in strength and wisdom. He became, by common consent, the administrator of the unwritten law of the new country. It is recorded that the first settlers of Cleveland were never seriously discommoded by the Indians. There were no massacres and no ambush warfare. The Indians fought among themselves and called in Lorenzo Carter as a mediator.
Carter learned the Indian dialects and the ways of the council-fire. In a historical personal battle,
Big Sun and Menompsy, a medicine man, had carved each other had carved each other with knives. Lorenzo Cater was able to avert war between the Chippewas and the Senecas over this incident. the medicine man had attended to the wife of Big Sun. The claim was made that his medicine had killed her. Carter held that the medicine man acted in good faith and the Indians accepted his judgement.
Carter knew little law but based his decisions on common sense. He realized the value of sociability as a community lubricant. He considered baked pork and beans, plum cake and doughnuts, as potent pacifiers and means of inducing friendship. The banquet board then, no less than now, was the peace table.
Gilman Bryant charmingly described a social affair at Carter's tavern. He tells of his own fastidious preparation for the event; how he dressed his hair with candle-grease and a coat of flour in lieu if an aristocratic wig. In addition to this, he employed a yard and a half of black ribbon to tie the queue. Attired in a gingham suit, a wool hat, and heavy shoes, Bryant gallantly took Miss Nancy Doan, who lived four miles east of town. There was the lavender of romance about going to an old-time
party, which eludes the more elaborate social functions of today.
Gilman Bryant wrote: "I took the old horse 'Tib' for Miss Doan who mounted behind me from a stump in front of the Doan cabin. She spread her petticoat over the horse's back, and held up her calico dress to keep it clean. It was along four mile ride through the woods to the Carter tavern, but the thought of Major Jones fiddling 'Hie Betty Martin' and the 'Sailor's Hornpipe' kept us in good spirits."
This winsome girl will serve to introduce her illustrious father, Nathaniel Doan, the first blacksmith of the Western Reserve. The Connecticut Land Company had decided that the settlers might do their settling without the services of a lawyer, be born and die without succor from a doctor and without consolation from a preacher, but a blacksmith was indispensable. So they sent Nathaniel Doan as the official smith, presenting him with a city lot.
Doan had served with the surveying companies. His family joined him from Haddam, traveling almost entirely by water via the Connecticut River, Long Island Sound, the Hudson, the Mohawk and its branches, completing the journey along the shores of the Lakes Ontario and Erie.
Doan, too, became a tavern keeper, establishing a noted place, "Doan's Tavern on the Euclid
Road." Doan seems to have possessed much of the expansive commercial ability of the present day packer. He operated a saleratus or baking soda factory to supply a substitute for the lye then used in cooking. He operated a shop, tavern, factory, a general store, and became the a road builder, the postmaster, justice of the peace and religious mentor, conducting services in his own home.
When Doan retired from blacksmithing, he was succeeded by Abram Hickox who arrived in 1808, walking all the way to Cleveland from Connecticut. His wife and five children rode in the wagon drawn by oxen, Father Abram keeping abreast the team. Hickox operated a shop near the present site of the Rockefeller building. He was a philosopher of the Eben Holden type, and there is recorded a gracious picture of the fine old "uncle to all the children" decorating the village schoolhouse with evergreens and candles in preparation of the Yuletide festivities.
The fourth of the quartette of Lincoln-hearted men was James Kingsbury who founded Newburg. Kingsbury and his three children came from New Hampshire. Pathos played its fateful part in their lives. Mr. Kingsbury found it necessary to return to New Hampshire, leaving his family on the frontier. On reaching his old home in the east, he was taken ill. The family, then at Conneaut, was in peril. Their cabin was
about buried beneath the snow and the wolf came sniffing at their door. The scant food supply was daily diminishing. Kindly Indians replenished the larder. But the storms became too severe for even the Redskins
The children cried from the cold. Another baby came. Kingsbury, with the aid of a faithful Indian guide, arrived home on Christmas day. The tiny life of the new baby hovered a day or so, as if awaiting the father, and was gone. Mrs. Kingsbury became distressingly ill. The family cow, which supplied the beneficent nourishment of the children, was poisoned by eating oak leaves and died. Finally Kingsbury was able to make a trip to Erie and return with food. Sustenance gave a renewed bouyancy of sprits, and the Kingsburys were victors in the battle with the wilderness.
These pioneer men and women did what they found necessary to do without complaint. Lorenzo Carter, for instance, though sorely tried by the experience, conducted an execution without flinching from the ordeal. An Indian by the comic opera name of O'Mic was found guilty of murdering two trappers near Sandusky. The Indians assenting, he paid the penalty according the law of the white man.
A small group of men armed with flint-lock guns formed a guard around O'Mic. He was drawn to the place of execution seated on his
coffin, in a wagon which had been freshly painted for the occasion. The gallows were erected on the Public Square. O'Mic approached the gallows with great anxiety, affirming that he would show white men how a brave Indian could die. When the party reached the gallows, Major Carter and the sheriff adjusted the rope around O'Mic's neck. A black cap was drawn over his head. The Indian lost his bravado and struggled to escape.
The Indians, congregated, showed signs of emotion. Carter addressed O'Mic in the native tongue. O'Mic agreed to die bravely if he were given a pint of whiskey. Major Carter considered this fair and right and, in the name of the law, quickly procured a pint of pint of the courage-inducing liquid. O'Mic was satisfied. The rope was again adjusted and the cap lowered.
This time O'Mic was more terrified than before and pleaded for more whiskey. After another parley in the dialect, Carter acquiesced. And while the Indian was consuming this second draft, the wagon was driven out from under him. And the law had followed its course.
The attending Indians were well imbued with the white man's law. An eyewitness of this execution tells us that the flint-lock guns in the hands of the guards were so damp that the Indians might easily have rescued O'Mic.
Dr. Long, Cleveland's first physician, utilized the skeleton of O'Mic for clinical purposes. And gossip affirmed that Captain Sholes, a patient of Dr. Long's, became panic-stricken at the sight of O'Mic's frame in the doctor's pioneer hospital. The fright of the captain was set down by a wit as the last public appearance of the terrible O'Mic.
And the bizarre tale of O'Mic is here set forth not because of any distinction on his part but because of any distinction on his part but he represented but one of the factors with which Lincoln-hearted men of the Western Reserve contended, without compromise or favor.