WILLIAM G. SIBLEY
Printed by The Gallia County
FOREWORDS are usually the condescensions of experts. But I trust this little intrusion of mine will not be so considered. Anything William G. Sibley writes needs no preface. It stands superbly on a foundation of excellence.
He has used his vigorous pen as an Alpenstock and scaled the Matterhorn. I hail him as a beloved friend and kindly teacher who knows more about the business of writing than I shall ever know.
You will find him at his best in this anniversary edition of "The French Five Hundred" because it deals with a locale in which he is firmly rooted and a people he loves.
The response to Dr. Charles E. Holzer's happy bravura to convert the "Our House" into a museum attained the enthusiasm one could assuredly expect from the citizens of Gallipolis.
Only those of us attached to so placid a commune know how it has gripped our emotions with hooks of steel. It was Morley, visiting a
6 - Preface
humble little Friends' meeting house in Oxford, who wrote of a shy homely girl who suddenly got up in the silent meeting.
It was a clear spring morning with that moist English savor in the air. In a voice trembling with terror she managed to say: "I'm thinking of the sky and the trees and the shadows of the trees, and the wind, the hills, the river, and the smell of everything."
The author tells how she as suddenly sat down, subsiding into a shaken privacy of tears. Those of us who have lived in Gallipolis understand. We become mute and faltering—and a foreword becomes something quite difficult to write.
So much of living in this sudden debacle of the world has become inconsequential. Fine homes, motor cars, country clubs and whatnot seem so much impedimenta while a universe that suddenly stopped and turned over seeks order out of chaos.
It is such a time that institutions like the "Our House"—and how appropriately named! —become especially treasured, the sylvestered background of our native pride. The innocent things we so long overlooked in our mad scramble for nowhere loom as old friends.
Preface - 7
Many of us from Gallipolis whose lives are cast in other strata again long to rest an elbow on the park cannon and watch the Lizzie Bay round the shimmer of the Ohio River bend. Like a flash, the gnarled old buckeye on Court Street has become far more beautiful than the Euclidean silver criss-cross of the stately Empire Building.
The falling flukes of mapleseeds in the courthouse yard are more dazzling than an exquisite Urban snow scene at the Follies and we would rather lean back in a chair with the gang along Lawyer's Row than occupy a box in the Metropolitan's Horseshoe Circle.
The longer one lives the more one realizes a sense of peace is the greatest thing a world offers. Giving the "Our House" the historical significance it deserves is symbolical of that consolation.
O. O. MCINTYRE.
Sept. 21, 1933
THE FRENCH FIVE HUNDRED
OF THE DRYNESS AND NAKEDNESS OF THE OLD WRITINGS ABOUT GALLIPOLIS; THE DULLNESS OF MANY LOCAL HISTORIES; THE PURPOSE OF THIS, ITS CHEERFUL CHARACTER, AND ITS TIMELY CREATION.
History fades into fable; fact becomes clouded with doubt and controversy; the inscription moulders from the tablet: the statue falls from the pedestal. Columns, arches, pyramids, what are they but heaps of sand; and their epitaphs, but characters written in the dust?
Historical imagination will endeavor mentally to restore a picture of a past age of which the colors have faded with time. It will not neglect details, for details are a great part of life. It will endeavor to restore the special character, the movement and the stir, which drier annals have failed to preserve.
—Lord Rector GEORGE JOACHIM GOSCHEN.
SEVERAL solemn, learned, painstaking, and eminently worthy and respectable historians of early years undertook the task of setting forth in papers, books and pamphlets the facts
10 - The French Five Hundred
that clustered about the settlement of Gallipolis by The French Five Hundred in the year 1790, when the northern bank of the Ohio River, at a point now geographically described as latitude 38̊ 48' 5" north, and longitude 5̊ 11' 39" west from Washington, became for the first time a permanent abiding place for white people. In all the annals of those venerable scribes, whose thoughts found slow vent through the primitive agency of goose-quills and India ink, and who dried their quaint and ornamental chirography with sand, are found stiffness of style, disregard for minor detail, and absence of rhetorical embellishment which are surprising in view of the richness of material furnished for their chronicles by the adventurous and sprightly French folk who sought, found and established a home for themselves far from their native land. Much of an entertaining character concerning persons and events must have been omitted by those sedate and discreet authors. It is fortunate that the knowledge of many things which occurred has endured unto this day, having been transmitted by word of mouth, in French and broken English, from generation to generation, despite their neglect by the writers of long ago, who
The French Five Hundred - 11
were content to record bare facts, and leave for posterity only the dry bones of events, without the blood, flesh and garments of narrative upon them. It is the purpose of these pages not only to preserve the hitherto unpublished town-talk that has come chattering down from the Eighteenth century, but also to clothe and adorn the nakedness of existing histories of the pioneer days of Gallipolis with such comely habiliments of explanation, opinion and anecdote as were in vogue during the decade which they commemorate, with a touch of fancy here and there which readily may be detected and will not detract from the authenticity of the whole.
The constant temptation to give the imagination free play, and picture things which might have happened, along with those which did occur, while writing of the communal affairs of the dainty women and fine-fibered men whose inland colony presented phases so romantic and unique, and whose enthusiasm led them to believe they might easily found an ideal French city on American soil, will be resisted; but at the same time every opportunity which may be noticed, to give life and vivacity to the subjects under consideration, will be grasped.
The realms of boredom are full of histories of
12 - The French Five Hundred
towns and counties—books read between yawns and naps, and then laid away forever, leaving behind naught but a sense of time wasted and mind lumbered—books whose only effect has been to create a desire to forget that they exist —books which exhibit the Past as a rigid cadaver, with its hair neatly parted, its eyelids flattened, its shroud precisely adjusted, the musty odors of the tomb clinging to it, and all embalmed in tedious triteness.
A departure from its staid old-time style of historical composition, with intent to put color into the lips and cheeks, and action into the body, of pioneer Gallipolis, may be entertaining to its later generations. While it is not possible for imagination to rival established truth in usefulness, yet an honest and prudent admixture of fact and fancy has ever been agreeable and diverting in the rehearsal of events. The human intellect grasps and holds truth readily when it is associated with amusing incidents or sayings. There was no scarcity of
"Jest and youthful Jollity,
Quips, and cranks, and wanton wiles,
Nods, and becks, and wreathed smiles"
in the long gone days of Gallipolis, whose traditions run largely to frolicsome happenings.
The French Five Hundred - 13
To recall, not as an iconoclast, but in a spirit of tender guardianship, the merriment that brightened the gloom of trying years, may make an acceptable contrast with the unvarying gravity of former writings.
The descendants of the old French families, whose originally pure Gallic stock has been intermingled with strains of English, Dutch, Indian, and other bloods, are now scattered far and wide like those recanting ones of old sent to search for one who was missing—three east, three west, three north, and three south. So few of them remain in Gallipolis in this initial year of the Twentieth century, whose information would justify them in vouching for the truth of all the statements made here, that before many years the opulence of their recollections, diaries, manuscripts and scrap-books would be forever lost, without key or substitute with which to enlighten future generations, but for this essentially faithful and punctiliously accurate record of the causes and circumstances of the genesis of Gallipolis, and of the adventures and idiosyncrasies of the individuals conspicuous in the colony.
WHEREIN THE MOTIVES WHICH INDUCED THE FRENCH FIVE HUNDRED TO
EMIGRATE ARE CONTRASTED WITH THOSE WHICH ANIMATED THE PILGRIM FATHERS, AND THE TRICKERY OF PLAYFAIR, THE AGENT, WITH JOEL BAR-LOW'S PART THEREIN, IS RELATED.
The Puritan hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators. —MACAULEY.
Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agent.
THE migration of The French Five Hundred to Virginia, and thence to the now physically and socially attractive spot called Gallipolis, cannot justly be attributed to the lofty motives and heroic determination which animated the rugged New England pioneers who found firm foothold on bleak Plymouth Rock, and according to a distinguished pulpit orator carried their religion so far that before one of them kissed his wife he would ask a blessing, and
The French Five Hundred - 15
afterward say: "Having received another favor from the Lord, let us return thanks." The Pilgrim Fathers came to America with two distinct purposes in view, which they were resolved to accomplish, or perish in the attempt. One was to discover a place where they might worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, unannoyed and untrammeled by the antagonistic laws, edicts or prejudices of any man or government; the other was to enrage the Devil and promote piety by compelling any person who happened to be in their immediate vicinity either to reverence Deity in their own particular way, yield meekly to their theological doctrines, and sit silent and prim under edifying sermons three hours long, or else move to Rhode Island. They delighted in the solemnities and severities of a most uncompromising construction of Biblical texts, of which the following hymn sung by them frequently and fervently, affords a fair example:
"For in the deep where darkness dwells,
The lands of heaven and despair,
Justice hath built a dismal hell
And laid her stores of vengeance there.
Eternal plagues and heavy chains,
Tormenting rocks and fiery coals,
16 - The French Five Hundred
And darts to inflict mortal pain,
Dyed in the blood of damned souls."
No such gloomy thoughts or solicitude for the spiritual welfare of themselves, or of the strangers who might stray within their gates, can be claimed for the French immigrants. They came over the rough Atlantic for wholly different reasons, their interest being centered on feasts, balls, gay music and other forms of amusement and indulgence which do not contemplate self-denial or the employment of time in religious service. They wished to enjoy life wholly uninfluenced by sombre beliefs or spiritual alarms. The "meddatations" of the Quakeress Ann Whitall, in which she said: "I often thinks if I could be so fixt as never to Laugh nor to smil I shud be won step better; it fills me with sorrow when I see people so full of laf and of prate," would have found no more acceptance among The French Five Hundred than her objections to banquets and the flowing bowl, wherein she declared: "I find sum freedom to right whot a tarable thing this eating of to much is, and has been to me many times; I think I can say of a truth it is the worst sin that ever I did. I du believe it is as bad as drinking too much, eating too much is the root
The French Five Hundred - 17
of all evil in me." Weary of the distracting uproar in their native land, they believed a merrymaking existence awaited them in the western world, with a dance at least twice every week, and a buffet inexhaustibly stocked with the ambrosial nectars of a flowery paradise.
The story of the deception of these people by American land speculators is of touching interest. The Bastile had been destroyed, and with it much insect life and public confidence in the stability of the existing government of France. The tri-colored cockade was worn everywhere in Paris, misrule and misery prevailed, Louis XVI and his consort were under the shadow of the sharp blade of their unhappy fate, and the dark menace of the bloodiest revolution the world has ever known loomed high above the horizon, clouding every fair prospect. At this most propitious of times for advancing schemes designed to swindle distressed, discouraged and peace-loving people, an American land syndicate opened "with great parade" an office in Paris, professing to own a vast tract that would afford an ideal refuge for gentlemen and gentlewomen who were discontented with the conditions existing in France.
Col. William Duer, a New York politician,
18 - The French Five Hundred
and Joel Barlow, a young poet and politicin, afterward Minister to France, were partners in this unholy enterprise, the latter perhaps not being directly responsible for all the sins of its more active agents. Colonel Duer was a Congressman who had used his public office for the promotion of large undertakings in which he was deeply involved financially, as many another official like him has done since. He remained in America, while Barlow undertook to manage the office of The Scioto Company, as it was called, in Paris; the appointment promising to better his business affairs, then in poor condition, and insuring him opportunity for travel and desirable acquaintance. The Scioto Company was born in a fog, through which at first loomed only the figure of Colonel Duer, but on its borders soon appeared Colonel Richard Pratt and Joel Barlow. There was never any organization of the company in America, and the other partners in the speculation were never publicly known, although the peculiar circumstances of its birth lead to the conclusion that they were men of influence in the American Congress. When The Ohio Company desired an ordinance for the purchase of a tract of land northwest of the Ohio River,
The French Five Hundred - 19
Colonel Duer made it clear to Dr. Manasseh Cutler that if the ordinance were made to include five million acres instead of the million and a half desired by The Ohio Company, the additional acres to be purchased by a group of men whose names he did not disclose, the ordinance would go through, otherwise not. The New Englander needed Duer's assistance in Congress, the amendment was accepted, and the ordinance passed. The Ohio Company closed its contract with the Government in October, 1787, and secured possession of its million and a half acres. The Scioto Company, whose object was speculation alone, expected to pay for its tract in depreciated paper currency at the rate of eight or ten cents an acre, but the adoption of the National Constitution and the establishment of the Federal government so raised the credit of its paper that the speculators were never able to pay for the lands.
Mr. Barlow went to Paris, but met for a year with indifferent success in his new employment, perhaps because his habits of thought were not adapted to the land-office business, which at that time seemed to require the same combination of pushing self-assertion, lack of
20 - The French Five Hundred
principle and disdain for truth found so frequently in these days in similar lines of speculative adventure. Or it may have been that the hasty-pudding poet's lucubrations, and time occupied as a social lion in dining out and receiving the eminent men of letters who thronged his apartments, left him unfit during business hours. Certainly his "morning incense" and his "evening meal," of this pudding, the sweets of whose "dear bowl" he knew, and whose charms he felt and sung, was not the diet of a natural scamp. In an unlucky hour he made the acquaintance of one William Play-fair, an Englishman of vast assurance, who was familiar with the French language, and the Gallic temperament as well, and was pleased to turn over to him the management of a venture that had not proved to be to his taste. Barlow described Playfair as "an Englishman of a bold and enterprising spirit," and "a good imagination," and in entrusting the land sales to him, showed himself as either a singularly poor judge of character, or utterly regardless of the methods that might be used in disposing of the lands. With Colonel Duer's power of attorney in his possession, Barlow sold the three million acres to a "Company of the Scioto" in
The French Five Hundred - 21
Paris, composed of a number of Frenchmen, Playfair and himself. It was this company, which came into existence through a gross excess of authority illegally assumed by Barlow, that went into business under the management of the English adventurer.
Playfair had a genius for rascality, was a most accomplished liar, and also the direct antithesis of his name, as his works, which live after him, amply demonstrate. His inventive mind, unrestrained by moral principle, and thoroughly conversant with the characteristics of the French people, quickly mastered the problem which stood between him and success in his new employment. He realized that the essential thing was to stir the emotions of the better class of Parisians, and set them to thinking and talking of escape from the existing discomforts and threatening future of France, by directing their minds toward America, the home of political freedom. So he contrived his snare in the shape of a prospectus of the plans of The Scioto Company that did credit to his fertile imagination, and at the same time aroused intense enthusiasm among the volatile French. Enough of this rare treatise on Ohio lands is extant to entitle its author to a
22 - The French Five Hundred
past master's degree in the evil art of misrepresentation.
The territory on which Gallipolis now smiles, high, dry and serene, upon her neighboring cities in the famous Ohio Valley, was then part of a mighty and heavily wooded primeval wilderness, which abounded in poisonous snakes, bears, wolves, panthers and other wild beasts, and was traversed by roving bands of crafty, treacherous and blood-thirsty savages, who bitterly resented every advance made by white men upon their hunting grounds. It was far from civilization, covered by deep snows in winter, and was swampy and malarial in summer, during which season it swarmed with countless millions of pestiferous insects possessed of even more power to irritate the human skin than the French flea, which grows to a most vigorous maturity, as all travelers in France are made aware. Hundreds of miles from the Atlantic shore, from which it was separated by an extended range of lofty mountains, it was almost the last place to which any humane person would direct men and women of Parisian tastes, habits and occupations.
But according to Playfair's highly colored prospectus, a delightful little boat ride from
The French Five Hundred - 23
Havre de Grace, with refreshing ocean zephyrs as a tonic incident, would bring one to the lovely plain between the Muskingum and the Scioto rivers, where would be found a salubrious climate in which frost, even in winter, was almost unknown. The great river skirting it, destined in a few years to become the leading channel of territorial commerce, was called "The Beautiful," and was so crowded by large and deliciously edible fish that they struggled in piscine rivalry first to swallow the baited hook or achieve entanglement in the fatal meshes of the net. The native trees produced spontaneously great quantities of delicately flavored sugar, a peculiar plant yielded ready-made candles (cat-tails), coal, iron, lead, silver and gold were jutting out of every stony ledge, and "a single boar and sow in the course of three years would produce three hundred pigs without the least care being taken of them."
There is no reason to suppose this precious romancer would have hesitated to declare, had it occurred to him, that the bees filled every cave, hollow tree and rocky crevice with honey, that custard apples (pawpaws) littered the ground throughout the year, that huckleberries, gooseberries, blackberries and cherries, by
24 - The French Five Hundred
force of gravitation formed jams and marmalades on the velvety turf, that pears, peaches and plums hung temptingly in every bower, that deer, hogs, and tender pigs roamed the woods, that chestnuts, walnuts and hickorynuts carpeted the earth, that luscious persimmons yielded a novel and exquisite sensation to formerly unpuckered palates, that wild turkeys, geese, ducks, squirrels and pheasants burdened the branches of the forests, that rice and cotton grew without cultivation, that fragrant grapes turned the cool, sparkling springs and brooks into wine, and that the Indians were peaceable, friendly, submissive, fond of work in the fields, and would toil long and willingly at menial labor for a few colored glass beads with which to be amused in their childlike simplicity. All that was needed to accomplish the manifest destiny of this American Eden was a few hundred dainty and well-born French men and women to purchase it, sail gladly across the sea to it, and have dominion over its enchanting delectations, with headquarters in a little city already named Gallipolis by the company promoting the enterprise. Life was to be one long, sweet Arcadian dream on this marvelously bountiful land, where sickness, except from over-
The French Five Hundred - 25
eating, was unknown, and death came only as the result of fabulously old age.
In spirit, and largely in substance, this was the alluring tale of the scoundrel Playfair, told in Paris in 1789. It had immediate effect. The Frenchmen were profoundly moved, and land sales became numerous. The great new world was a mystery to the Parisians, and the grossly exaggerated stories of its physical character completely captivated them. The Count de Volney, at that time an author of distinction residing in Paris, said "nothing was talked of in every social circle but the paradise that was opened for Frenchmen in the western wilderness, the free and happy life to be led on the blissful banks of the Scioto." At theatres, receptions, dinners and other social functions the poet Barlow stood sponsor for this fraudulent earthly elysium, and sick as they were of battles, blood, riots, executions, taxation, terror, and the impending menace of revolt and revolution, about five hundred French people of the better classes swallowed Playfair's bait, bought the lands worth about three pence, at five shillings an acre, received worthless deeds in return for their money, and with hearts full of thankfulness and great expectations, bade
26 - The French Five Hundred
farewell to their tumultuous native land. In half a dozen vessels they sailed for Alexandria, Virginia, the largest number embarking early in February, 1790.
WHICH TELLS OF THE VOYAGE TO AMERICA, BAR-LOW'S APPREHENSIONS, AND THE DISHEARTENING DISCOVERY OF PLAYFAIR'S RASCALITY.
The land is dearer for the sea,
The ocean for the shore.
'T is writ on Paradise's gate,
"Woe to the dupe that yields to Fate."
WITH the departure of The French Five Hundred from the land of their birth the work of the Company of the Scioto, which its members thought had only begun, was in fact substantially finished. Playfair was left behind to complete the disgraceful record of his life by robbing his partners after plucking the emigrants. Joel Barlow remained also, and although receiving the highest social courtesies from Jefferson, the American minister, from the Marquis de Lafayette and other noblemen, lived in constant apprehension of a misadventure to his hazard beyond the Alleghenies. He
28 - The French Five Hundred
wrote to Colonel Duer entreating him to make every exertion in his power to fulfill the wild promises that had been made by Playfair, and to see to it that the voyagers were properly received at Alexandria and speedily taken to the Ohio. That his anxiety was felt more for his individual profit than for the permanent welfare of Playfair's dupes, is made clear in his letter to Duer, in which he says:
"They who lead the way trust their lives and fortunes to the representations that I make to them. The evidence is slight; it will be strengthened or destroyed in the minds of those who are still to be engaged by the testimony of those who first arrive. If the first one hundred persons should find things easy and agreeable as it is in our power to make them with a little attention, the stream of emigration will be irresistible—twenty thousand people will be on those lands in eighteen months. Whenever you shall know the complication of difficulties I have struggled with in bringing the unwieldly business thus far, you will excuse the warmth of my entreaties."
But it was not to be as Barlow so ardently desired. While Duer did not know Barlow's difficulties in France, the latter was unaware of Duer's desperate straits in America. The speculation was doomed to end in disreputable disaster, and Colonel Duer to die broken-hearted, and bankrupt both in fortune and reputation, while Barlow, who, as St. Clair McKelway
The French Five Hundred - 29
said, "lightened the woes of the Revolution by the touch of nature that makes the whole world grin," was to shrink and suffer from the odium cast upon him as a partner and agent of the dishonored company.
Among The French Five Hundred were many men and women of wealth and title. Few of them were poor. Scarcely a dozen common laborers were included in their number. The remainder were carvers and gilders to His Majesty, peruke- and coach-makers, friseurs, doctors, artists, lawyers, jewelers, dancing masters, boot-makers, confectioners, waiters, bartenders, milliners, shop-keepers, clerks, ladies and gentlemen, and one penniless stowaway, Monsieur Francis Valodin, who cast his lot with the others without a sou in his pocket or change of linen in his possession. They were a miniature Paris in diversity of occupation, ebullient spirits and aesthetic tastes, all but a very few of them being accustomed to luxury either by position, property, or association with people of independent means. There were no thieves or dissolute persons among them, and the majority, both male and female, were possessed of fine education and courtly manners. Their intention was to found an ideal little
30 - The French Five Hundred
French city on their continental Utopia, to be called Gallipolis, as soon as their disembarcation was effected. Then and there, as they imagined, nature was to provide them with food and drink fit for epicures, and they were to be forever free from care and anxiety. It was a despicably wicked thing to set these deluded people afloat for America, ill-prepared as they were by habit and training to overcome the disheartening trials they must necessarijy encounter in the dangerous wilds of the west, where even then the land they had purchased was encircled by the camp-fires of hostile Indians who prevented its survey.
The voyage was far from pleasant. The dull routine of life on shipboard wearied the French, habituated to the life, movement and variety of Paris. The fare was coarse, and within a few days palled upon all of them but one, Monsieur Valodin, who, compelled by hunger and thirst, came from his hiding place and was taken in charge by the crew, who were by no means tenderly disposed toward stowaways. Storms and baffling winds tried their courage and patience, And full three months passed to the doleful music of creaking rigging, groaning timbers, wind and wave, before the voyagers
The French Five Hundred - 31
set foot on the soil of Virginia. There the change from the cramped quarters and salt diet on board ship, to the strawberries and cream and beauties of May on the shore of the Potomac at Alexandria, filled them all with delight, and their hospital reception by the Virginians intensified their exultation over their safe deliverance from the uncertainties and perils of the sea. The first hours on land they spent in ridding themselves of certain forms of parasitic life that infested the ships, praising the substantial blessings of terra firma, listening to the songs of the birds, adjusting the sartorial creations they had brought fresh from the center of European fashion, and assorting their possessions preparatory to entering the promised land which they supposed was near by. But soon they learned from their new and sympathetic friends how cruelly they had been imposed upon, that their deeds were worthless, that the tract they had paid for was in the heart of a solemn, cheerless, unbroken wilderness that laid far to the north and west beyond rugged mountains, and that months of weary travel would be required in order to reach it. Then there gushed forth such an outpouring of the French tongue, and such a wild storm of
32 - The French Five Hundred
French gesticulation, as never was heard or seen on American soil before or since. It was well for Playfair then that an ocean rolled between him and his excited victims. Poor Monsieur Valodin was the only one not deeply concerned, for he had been sold to a hotel-keeper for one year to work out the price of his passage, under a provision of marine law then in force.
OF THE EFFORTS OF THE VIRGINIANS IN BEHALF OF THE FRENCH, AND OF COLONEL ROBERT SAFFORD'S THOUGHTFUL STROKE FOR FAME.
Pity and need
Make all flesh kin. There is no caste in blood.
What shall I do to be forever known,
And make the age to come my own?
PITY for the unfortunate newcomers was general among the Virginians, who had not forgotten the distinguished services of D'Estaing, De Grasse, Rochambeau, and that "princely hero who was the embodiment of gallantry, of liberty, of chivalry, the immortal Lafayette," to the young Republic, and were willing to assist the defrauded countrymen of those gallant gentlemen and soldiers by all means in their power. Efforts which had the hearty support of President Washington were made to bring The Scioto Company to account.
34 - The French Five Hundred
He assured the French "of all that countenance and protection from the General Government of the United States which the constitution and laws" enabled "the executive to afford under existing circumstances." The Scioto Company had been making desperate efforts to secure a title to the lands sold by its agents, but had failed because of ugly rumors that gained currency and belief in Congress, as to the ultimate designs of its members. An agreement was made, however, between The Ohio Company and The Scioto Company whereby the latter got possession of about 200,000 acres of the former's purchase, and on this territory, instead of on "the blissful banks of the Scioto," the colony was finally planted. After a discussion prolonged through several days a treaty was entered into between the colonists and The Scioto Company, by the provisions of which each landholder among the French secured a title, subject to The Ohio Company's claim on The Scioto Company, for one town lot and one out lot in Gallipolis, for indemnity, and abandoned all claims to the tracts they had bought in Paris. The Scioto Company contracting further to furnish at once wagons and provisions for the journey of the homeseekers
The French Five Hundred - 35
over the mountains to the settlement at Pittsburg, and there to have boats ready to transport them to Gallipolis. It was decided that the town should be laid out opposite the mouth of the Great Kanawha River, but because the banks there were subject to overflow, it was in fact located four miles farther down.
The Scioto Company, after the unlucky colony's affairs were patched up at Alexandria, arranged to have a public square cleared and a log block-house and cabins erected at Gallipolis for the French. In March, 179o, General Rufus Putnam employed Major John Burnham of Essex, Massachusetts, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, to enlist in New England fifty young men, expert woodmen, for a period of six months, to do this work. Only forty were secured, and when the lusty company reached Marietta they were instructed by General Putnam to proceed to a place on the Ohio River "next Chickamaga Creek," and there to erect four block-houses and a number of log huts. He informed them that they were not to "lay any floors" except for their own convenience, and "not put in any sleeper or joice for the lower floors." The plank for the doors was to be "split and hewed and the doors
36 - The French Five Hundred
to be hung with wooden hinges." The chimneys were to be made of clay, "moulded in tile and dried." In clearing the land, whatever timber was useful for building was to be saved, the rest "cleared and burned entirely off." The clearing, said General Putnam, "must be in one continued body and extended up and down the river equally from your work as well as from the river."
The party reached the spot June 8, 1790, and erected eighty log cabins, twenty in a row, and a high stockade fence. Among the forty was Colonel Robert Safford of Woodstock, Vermont, marker and chainman for the surveyor. While the latter's instrument was being adjusted the Colonel attacked and felled a sapling with his woodman's axe for the deliberate purpose of immortalizing himself by striking the first blow to win the site of Gallipolis for scenes of civilization, and so announced when the job was completed. The square having been cleared and the habitations built, the Colonel was pleased by the noble elevation of the river bank, which yet stands above the maximum high-water mark, and concluded to settle there. He \was much beloved by the French, living among them a life of the strictest
The French Five Hundred - 37
integrity, was a magistrate in 1798, the first junior warden of the first Masonic lodge in Gallipolis, the chairman of the first board of township trustees, and a soldier in the war of 1812. He was remarkable for his personal pulchritude, married a French maiden, and kept the confidence of all his associates throughout his long life. When eighty-six years of age he visited Philadelphia, and became so absorbed in sight-seeing and the theaters that his traveling companion, a man in the prime of life, found himself unable to endure the fatigue of the late hours and long tramps undertaken by the hale old man. He finally rounded out his honorable career by celebrating the Fourth of July, 1863, and died twenty-two days later, in his ninety-sixth year. The lustre of his fame has never been dimmed in the old French City, where worthy descendants keep green the memory of his virtues. He was of rugged stock, and a fine specimen of the stalwart and forceful New England pioneers who long ago made Ohio the greatest state in the west, living to
"A green old age unconscious of decays,
That proves the hero born in better days."
CONTAINING THE CONTENTS OF A LETTER WRITTEN BY PLAYFAIR ON THE
AFFAIRS OF THE SCIOTO COMPANY.
Every day brings a ship,
Every ship brings a word;
Well for those who have no fear,
Looking seaward well assured
That the word the vessel brings
Is the word they wish to hear.
DURING the late summer and fall of 1790 the agent Playfair was in Paris in a fever of anxiety. In November he could no longer restrain his impatience and annoyance over the unsatisfactory conduct of the American promoters of the land syndicate, and wrote a letter* to Colonel Duer which throws much light on the business already done in the French capital, the difficulties under which Playfair consummated it, his fears of a scandal, the embarrassment caused by bad news from the emigrants
*In the collection of autograph letters owned by Mr. Charles G. Slack, of Marietta, Ohio.
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at Alexandria, the disturbed condition of public affairs in France, and the prospects of the syndicate as they appeared at that time. The original of this letter is in an excellent state of preservation, and bears the signature of its author in bold characters, which contrast strongly with the cramped handwriting and autograph of Joel Barlow, by whom it is endorsed. The text is here reproduced, with the addition of such punctuation marks as are necessary to make it readily understood:
"PARIS 20 Novembre 1790
"As the want of a well followed correspondence has almost Ruined the Sale of the Scioto lands in France I hope you will excuse the length of this letter; to this Request Permitt me to add one other which is that as in this affair is comprehended the Interests of such numbers of Individuals that it is liable to great details and various contrarieties, long and distinct letters & letters directly to the point are absolutely necessary from those persons who are entrusted with the conduct of it in America. Without these we can scarcely expect to get through with it and at any Rate that alone will
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prevent numberless Errors & Endless Expenses. In July last I wrote a pretty long letter to Colonel Franks in which I request him to write details & I hope that he will do it: that we should know the Real State of Matters is quite necessary as we have not any intention to deceive and are liable to do it without ample instructions.
"I find it necessary for the sake of distinctness to divide this letter into 4 Parts-1st the actual State of Matters & Prospects here in France viewing the affair in general 2d as it Relates to Mr. de Barth & Coquet with whom a conditioned Sale has been made-3d as it Relates to your company in America and lastly the manner in which it will probably be necessary to carry it on.
"1st The Efforts that have been made here to give a Consistence and a Begining to the affair by facilitating in various ways the first Emigrants has brought it to Such a State that if we have good accounts from those who are gone after their arrival on the Scioto there is the Strongest Reasons to Expect a Most Rapid Sale and on good conditions, it being no longer Necessary to favour Persons to induce them to go over; and as the Scioto will be a more agree-
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able & in the fact a more advantageous Place for Settling on to the French than any other in America. If these Good letters do not come then it is impossible that the sale should continue. I do not found my hopes of Success in a Rapid Sale from conjectures but upon Solid Reasons, as it is a fact that great numbers of Persons wait only for news in order to purchase & Every day brings new causes for Emigration. Supposing the Revolution to be the most successfull possible and to finish well, I believe I speak within bounds when I say that directly and indirectly one Million of Persons will be deprived of their former means of Existence, and if the Revolution finishes badly one can only tremble at the consequences with venturing to Estimate their Extent; added to this the Creation of Six hundred millions of Paper money destined to Reimburse the changes & Employments which are abolished will Give the means of Purchasing lands to those very persons whose interest and whose disposition it will be to Emigrate. If therefore fortunately for us the Good News arrive from the Scioto before or in the course of the month of January, 6 or 8 months more may go a great way to finish the affair and at any Rate the Success will
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be Great. If the Accounts do not arrive nearly by that time they Run a Risque of being too late to afford the Great Success that may in the other case be expected.
"2d With Regard then to those persons (de Barth & Coquet) to whom a conditional Sale has been made, Mr. Barlow will probably write to you more completely than it is necessary that I should do, therefore I shall not enter into particulars only that as these persons will not fulfill any one condition & have not fulfilled any one the necessity of Endeavoring to undo their Bargain is past a doubt, and it luckily appears that will not be difficult to do. They have refused so much as to advance their Share of Money for the Postage of letters or any other object whatever & their clear and declared intention is to advance none; besides they have none to advance. By the Memoire enclosed, which is in French as there is not time to write copies in English, as we have nobody here to do it, you will see the Necessity which that and other circumstances lays us under of DEPOSING all the money Received untill possession is given in America—a method of acting which seems to be absolutely necessary; and it is only upon the Supposition that it is to be done that
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we can count upon considerable Sales. That Manner of Selling cannot certainly be but pleasing to you as the Sales will controul themselves, the delivery & the payment being made at the Same instant, for as Mr. Barlow very wisely proposed the money will be lodged with Mr. Grand the Banker, who is known in America and Mandats upon him which carry on their Face an evidence that the money is Lodged will certainly be as good as money in America or any where Else & by that means you will be paid quickly & Surely for all that you deliver, which is the object to be desired.
"The 3d article, which should treat of the Business as it Relates to the Speculation in General with Regard to your company & interests in America, should begin with the calculation on which we have founded our actions and which has in a measure served us for guide. There are about 140 thousand acres Sold, the whole quantity to Sell being 3,000,000 (It is evident that there are not 3,000,000 Saleable acres; it ought perhaps to be put at 2,500,000. This will change the Numeric Results certainly but will not certainly destroy the force of the argument) which is an object we never lost sight of. There is one twentieth
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nearly Sold; this land has been only half Sold as there are obligations upon it for ½ its value so that it is reduced to 1/40 th in place of 1/20 th. Upon this 4oth, all Expences paid in Europe, there will still remain Good values for 150,000 French livres at least, which reduces this 40th to nearly 1/60 th or pr Cent. on the whole land, say 2 per cent on the Whole, that the operations in France will this moment have cost. Now if Possession is given & tranquillity from the Savages assured—that is if the Base of the affair is a Real one—we shall have procured a Solid begining & insured almost the Success of the Whole Sale, in which case the sacrifice made will have been a very Small one indeed & you cannot but be well pleased. If on the contrary the Scioto cannot be inhabited or that there is bad news (which Supposition I only make for the Sake of Reasoning as it is necessary) then there will be a Loss indeed, but then it will be on this side of the Water that we shall have a Right to complain, as we Shall participate in the Loss & in the disgrace without having been in the Fault. I shew this calculation in order to prove that what we have done here has not been done at hazard, lightly or without design. Since at this moment
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calculating the affair as a good affair it has been done with Reason & cause, & if the affair is a bad one there is but one fault which Supersedes every other, that is, to have begun it at all. This calculation I shall only take the liberty to observe is made in the most unfavourable way for us here because if we calculate after the original price of these lands as paid or to be paid to Congress, there is upon what we have done a GAIN & not a Loss even supposing the Paper dollar at 6o which it is not. This affair to Express it in one word has been viewed in Great, that is in its Whole Extent. It was justifiable to view it so & so viewed what has been done has in general been well done. As to me if I had not thought it would go on in great, & that the Emigrants would be satisfied, I call to witness God & all those that know me or have seen my manner of acting, I would never have meddled in it and therefore I could not have Seen it otherwise than I have done.
"There is yet one thing to which I should answer. You may imagine that if we had not sent over so many people at a time & so many in but poor circumstances it would still have been the same. I can only answer by Saying
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that it is very firmly my opinion that it would not, & I believe all those who are acquainted with the proceedings have more or less that belief, & those who know it best are entirely of that opinion. Mons'r Chaise de Soissons in particular, whose zeal in the affair cannot be too much commended, and who has been in the whole of it & Seen the whole of it, is of that opinion, and of all other persons he has had the best opportunity to see how the Example of one produced an Effect upon the minds of others.
"The Last division of this letter respecting the manner of carrying on the business in future is supplied by the Memoire enclosed in French which I hope will meet with & merit your aprobation.
"I have too much at heart that you should be Satisfied with our conduct here to let any article pass unnoticed.
"The Bill of 100,000 francs which was returned arrived here at a Moment when all was in a State of Stagnation occasioned by the bad news received from Alexandria, news occasioned by their not being any person there to receive the Emigrants on their arrival as we Expected from General Putnam's letter of the
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8th of March—at that time there were 8 Persons Returned. We feared the Return of More & the treaty was made with those persons who have not fulfilled their agreement which if they had done the Bill would have been paid. There have been Reclamations made & we have been obliged to Reimburse those that made them, not having had letters from America to prove the Real state of the case.
"There are 2 duplicates of this letter in French as I have nobody to copy it in English & am very bad at writing from a copy myself, besides I own that I am not a little anxious that in an affair where so many people are concerned my motives of action should be explained in the language spoken by the Proprietors and the Purchasers of these lands & that at a time and tho' I hope matters will never turn out so that it may be necessary to make them public, I am not sorry to Embrace the occasion of putting them upon Paper at a moment when the ultimate Event of the affair is yet unknown or uncertain.
"I cannot finish this letter without repeating that want of letters from America, whatever the cause may have been, has contributed greatly to agravate all the Evils for these 4
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months past, and has occasioned to me in particular a State of Uneasiness that I never before experienced, tho' I have not lived a life free from unquietude. Yet I had no Idea of such Unremitting Vexation as these 4 last months has produced which has been greatly increased by the want of Law & Police in Paris that gives neither protection to the Innocent nor Punishment to the Guilty.
"As there is a Possibility that letters to this company are stopt or intercepted I should think it a good precaution if you would direct those with which you may favor me—and give orders to the others to do the same, To the Care of Mr. I. Playfair, Architect, Russel Place, London,
who will enclose them as if they were English letters—
"I am Sir
"Your Most obedient
"& Most humble Servant
"I have read this letter & approve generally of the facts & the reasoning therein contained-J
"TO WILLIAM DEWER, ESQR."
HOW THE JOURNEY OVERLAND TO GALLIPOLIS WAS MADE; THE ARRIVAL THERE AND THE DANCE THAT FOLLOWED; THE CARELESSNESS OF THE COLONISTS FOR RELIGION.
They change their sky not their mind who cross the sea. We seek a happy life with ships and carriages; the object of our search is present with us.
The Frenchman, easy, debonair and brisk,
Give him his lass, his fiddle, and his frisk,
Is always happy, reign whoever may,
And laughs the sense of mis'ry far away.
How sad our state by nature is!
Our sin, how deep it stains!
And Satan binds our captive souls
Fast in his slavish chains.
IT was not until Sunday, October 17, 1790, more than eight months after their departure from France, that the first boat load of The French Five Hundred reached their destination, for their wayfaring experiences were long
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before the period of either steamboat or railway travel, being in the good old days when the sturdy patriots of the new Nation went to mill on horseback, with the grain in one end of the sack and a peck of boulders in the other. The journey from Alexandria to Pittsburg was tedious and laborious. The hearts of the women and children were set fluttering by occasional glimpses between the trees of impassive copper-colored faces surmounted by fantastic feathered headdresses, and the mercurial spirits of the travelers fluctuated between despondency and mirth. Sickness, fatigue, almost impassable roads, swollen streams, meagre food supplies and several skirmishes with the Indians, made it a distressing journey, with few pleasurable incidents. Their rude and clumsy conveyances jarred and jolted over the primitive roads and trails week after week until Pittsburg, then the home of only a few hundred hardy pioneers, was reached. There they and their goods were transferred to flatboats on the Ohio River, at that time a much deeper and narrower stream than now, with banks overhung by the spreading branches of great oaks, sycamores and elms. Down the river they floated, in sunlight and moonlight, until at
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last they arrived at Gallipolis. Scrambling up the high, steep bank their gaze fell on the rectangular clearing in which stood the eighty log cabins that were to be their homes, and the block-houses on the corners designed for their refuge in times of peril. Surrounding all sides except the river front stood the lofty trees of the virgin forest, mute and impressive sentinels of unviolated creation. Back of all were the massive hills, whose forests, touched by early frosts, had turned into exquisitely tinted shades of brown, yellow and scarlet, the signs of that fatal malady which soon changes the soft, living leaves into dead, stiff and crackling fugitives, scurrying before the wintry winds.
Ere the early dusk of the season the cabins were inspected, the stores carried up from the boat, a dancing place selected, and informal invitations issued to all—men, women and children—for the first semi-weekly French ball ever given in the Northwest Territory. When evening came rouge, curling irons, powder, patches, satin slippers and other accessories of the toilet were brought into action, hastily prepared refreshments were served, and the violins and lutes tenderly unwrapped and carefully tuned.
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"Swift rode the rosin o'er the horse's hair,"
and by seven o'clock the scraping of the bows inaugurated the social courtesies and gallantries for which Gallipolis has ever since been famous. On this impromptu occasion in honor of their long sought home, as at all subsequent balls in the colony, there was observed the beautiful and stately etiquette of Saint Cloud, that magnificent park and palace where Marie Antoinette, Napoleon I, Louis XVIII, Charles X, Louis Phillipe and Napoleon III successively resided and made celebrated on the continent for its sumptuous entertainments, polite graces, and royal ostentation. The leaves of the surrounding forest were stirred by sweet musical vibrations never before known in that region, and the Indians who lurked in its dusky recesses felt for the first time, in exquisite manifestation, the charm that soothes the savage breast, while they gazed in amazement upon a scene of gaiety unparalleled in the history of pioneer America.
This ball was typical of the character of The French Five Hundred, to whom the movement and music of the dance were ever preferable to the prayers and psalms of the Puritans. Doubtless there were sighs that night for the
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scenes of Paris. The rosy dreams of months had been dissipated by ugly realities. Bright eyes dimmed at thoughts of the home land far away, and the pangs of loneliness and regret were felt in many a heart of oak when deep silence fell upon the little colony after the festivities were concluded. But such has ever been the portion of those who leave their native land to carve out new fortunes in unsettled countries. Comforts, conveniences, and luxuries are left behind by them, and hardship, danger and self-denial must take their place.
The morrow brought its activities, but there was no hunting for sugar on trees, nor for candles in the swamps. The experiences since the landing in Virginia has destroyed all belief in Playfair's tales of edible treasure. A matter that did press upon the colony, however, as it does upon the founders of all new communities in a wild territory, was the assignment of public duties upon the individuals composing it, particularly those relating to defense and the disposition to be made of the Sabbath. The observance of that day, in a religious sense, had been lax in Paris for several years, and the greater number of the Gallipolis settlers cared little for it except as a day of recreation, rest
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and feasting. But there was a Roman Catholic priest among them, Monsieur Didur, and the few who had religious convictions rallied about him and made some impression on the whole body, as is shown by the fact that after the practice of military drills on Sunday mornings had been assigned to the men, provision was made for brief divine services in the forenoons, to which all were invited. The afternoons were given over to various forms of amusement, the most popular indoors being cards and dice, with fishing, swimming, boating, and skating, when the season permitted, outdoors.
The evenings were occupied by receptions, visits, private dances, and in all human probability, courting, the latter a pastime at which the French ever have been adepts. Thus the observance of the Sabbath was left to the conscience and judgment of each individual, except in the matter of military drills, which were made compulsory for all able-bodied men. Father Didur performed divine services, sang vespers, celebrated mass, baptized children, and married those who presented themselves for that important rite, during a short period, and then left the town. Various conclusions might be drawn from his early departure,
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reflecting either upon his own devotion to his sacred profession, or upon the support given him by the colony. If he was seriously missed after his exit, or if any concern was shown for their spiritual welfare by those he left behind, it does not appear in any of the old manuscripts, while the indisputable evidence that a quarter of a century passed into eternity after Father Didur's departure before any organized society for religious purposes was formed in Gallipolis, leads irresistibly to the conclusion that the French were more busily occupied with the affairs of this world than of those of the life which is to come, during that period. This view is strongly supported by documentary proof that when the first religious association was formed in the town its leaders bore English names. The colonists were different from those Englishmen of whom Paul Blouet tells, who at church declared themselves miserable sinners but would knock down on the spot any one who would take them at their word when their religious services were concluded.
Yet The French Five Hundred had one faithful Christian among them, the record of whose piety has survived the disintegrating
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influences of a century. He was Monsieur Jean Baptiste Bertrand, a conscientious man who rigidly observed all the ordinances and fast days of the Roman church, taught his children to say their prayers, and drank his peach brandy in moderation. It is related that one of his sons, on his near approach to man's estate, was encouraged by the disregard of his young companions for religious concerns to inform his father that he "couldn't see any use in saying his prayers so often." Thereupon Monsieur Bertrand, shocked and indignant at such a display of irreverence, led his erring son to a retired place and inflicted upon him bodily chastisement of so severe a character that the prayers were said thereafter with scrupulous regularity, if not with unction. Monsieur Bertrand was the last of the original male settlers to die, surviving to the great age of ninety-four, when his end came in the year 1855.
In connection with these matters of religion there is the noteworthy fact that Gallipolis, at the time of its settlement, was seriously considered at Rome as the seat of Roman Catholic episcopal authority for America, outranking both Baltimore and Philadelphia, in the esti-
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mation of Pope Pius VI and his advisers, as a suitable locality for so great an ecclesiastical dignity. The Abbe Boisnautier, a canon of St. Denys, in Paris, was actually appointed Bishop of Gallipolis, but these plans of the papal government were abandoned soon after, either because the defective titles held by the French checked emigration or for some other reason known only to the church authorities.
In 1818 another Roman priest, named La Font, arrived at Gallipolis. He was an energetic person, shrewd, and of good address. Observing the absence of any structure consecrated to the worship of Deity, he urged the people to join in building a church, but was unable to persuade them to appropriate funds for such a purpose. Perhaps they believed the undevout lines which follow:
"Whenever God erects a house of prayer
The devil always builds a chapel there;
And 't will be found, upon examination,
The latter has the larger congregation."
Appreciating the situation, La Font, who was a man of fine education, engaged in school teaching. His penmanship was beautiful, and his skill at card playing and fondness for wine made him a general favorite. He remained in
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Gallipolis one year, journeying thence to New Orleans, where an investment of five dollars in a lottery ticket brought him a prize of twenty thousand dollars. What effect this signal favor of fortune had on his subsequent career as a priest is unknown.
The confidence of the French in their ability to conduct themselves properly in secular affairs, was apparently as complete as in religious matters, for there is no evidence of any especial restrictions having been placed upon them other than those which obtained by virtue of polite breeding and a few minor regulations adopted at a public meeting. This is so different from the careful supervision at Marietta in 1788, that one section of the restrictive resolutions in force there is quoted here in contrast with the total absence of recorded moral injunction at Gallipolis:
"Whereas, idle, vain and obscene conversation, profane cursing and swearing, and more especially the irreverently mentioning, calling upon, or invoking the Sacred and Supreme Being by any of the divine characters in which he hath graciously condescended to reveal his infinitely beneficent purposes to mankind, are repugnant to every moral sentiment, subversive of every civil obligation, inconsistent with the ornaments of polished life, and abhorrent to the principles of the most
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benevolent religion, it is expected, therefore, if crimes of this kind should exist, they will not find encouragement, countenance, or approbation in this territory. It is strickly enjoined upon all officers and ministers of justice, upon parents, and others, heads of families, and upon others of every description, that they abstain from practices so vile and irrational."
The moral and religious censors of the Marietta colony also sternly forbade all service labor on the Sabbath, enjoining upon all, as conducive to civilization, morality and piety, the consecration of that day to "the public adoration and worship of the common Parent of the universe." A pillory, whipping post and stocks, conveniently located, inspired great respect for these and other moral virtues in the Puritan Marietta colony, where there existed unwavering belief in the propriety of a strict surveillance over the conduct of individuals that would now be resented as an intolerable infringement on personal rights. Yet this puritanism, "believing itself quick with the seed of religious liberty, laid, without knowing it, the egg of democracy."
OF THE FIRST WINTER IN GALLIPOLIS, AND ITS SOLACES; THE REVELATION OF FROGS IN THE SPRING, AND THE FONDNESS OF THE CHILDREN OF THE FOREST FOR PERFUMED HAIR.
O the long and dreary Winter!
O the cold and cruel Winter!
Ever thicker, thicker, thicker
Froze the ice on lake and river,
Ever deeper, deeper, deeper
Fell the snow o'er all the landscape,
Fell the covering snow, and drifted
Through the forest, round the village.
THE first winter in Gallipolis was long and severe, and but for supplies brought with them, the French would have suffered from famine. But, as Monsieur Mentelle, who was at the settlement in 1791, said, "notwithstanding the great difficulties, the difference of tempers, education and professions, the inhabitants lived in harmony," and they were free from the horrors then being enacted in France. There was no guillotine within thousands of
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miles, no imprisonments for suspected disloyalty, no houses of arrest, no official searchings and seizures of property, no prejudiced tribunals, no regicide, no commune, no sansculottism, no revolutions and no riots. Notwithstanding wind, ice and snow, colds, coughs and croup the dancing masters were kept actively employed, and there was more merriment and pleasure in Gallipolis than there were prayers and sermons in both Marietta and Cincinnati, then the only other established settlements in what is now the commonwealth of Ohio. There was little wine and coffee to stimulate wit and gaiety, or lure to late hours, but there were substitutes for the latter made of parched wheat and rye, and an abundance of table beverages made of sassafras, spicewood, sage and sycamore bark. The rustling leaves and falling rains of November were succeeded by snow storms and sleet. Often the sun, "God's crest upon His azure shield the heavens," rising in clear skies, touched into glorious life the gaunt trees coated with sparkling crystal, transforming them into a vision of diamonds glinting on every stiffened twig and branch, a marvel of infinite design fresh from the abyss of eternal cold. Then expressions of
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rapture broke from all lips. At other times, under leaden skies, the days dragged wearily along, until the bluster of March was succeeded by the showers of April.
With the spring of 1791 came seed time, and with it ludicrous attempts at garden making by the former Parisians. If they peeled their potatoes before planting them, if they used for seed cooked peas and corn preserved in glass jars, if they dug holes and trenches two feet deep for the deposit of the germs from which they expected a crop to spring, history may pass over their ignorance of agriculture lightly. It is sufficient to say that but for the gutteral utterances of a friendly old Indian, whose stern features broke into an involuntary smile for the first and only time in his life when he beheld their preparations for planting, there would have been no harvest that year. He instructed them how to plant and cultivate corn, and they reasoned from that the depth to which other seeds should be covered. And yet the germ life of many a grain perished in holes surreptitiously sunk so deep that their tender shoots could never penetrate the mass of earth above them.
The early spring rains formed a large pond
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near the public square that soon developed into a delight to the whole population, for on the first warm evening the air was filled with sonorous evidence that frogs were indigenous to the new world. Even Playfair's prospectus did not contain a hint of that joyous revelation of gust, in all its extraordinary tissue of inventions. Fried frog legs speedily became the prevailing table delicacy, and the wholesale slaughter of the amphibious creatures caused no perceptible diminution in the mighty volume of croaks that filled the soft airs of evening. At this late day it is impossible to determine which preponderated over the other in the opposing aggregates of joy and woe attributable to this pond, the delights of frog on the dining tables, or the malaria its stagnant waters spread around. Certain it is that for many a year the pond remained, feeding the French with frogs and the graveyard with French. Another discovery of minor epicurean importance was that snails were to be found in moist places, and many of the little animals went to flavor soups or to make toothsome morsels for the colonists.
From the advent of these enthusiastic, clever people from beyond the seas, who brought with them the modish vagaries, vanities and
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frivolities of the French Capital, the watchful red men in the forests developed a passionate fondness for well greased, curly and perfumed hair. The highly scented locks of the first scalp taken from a member of the Gallipolis colony by a young brave were "so perfumed," it is said, "that the winds were love-sick," and it created a sensation in the village of his tribe. The chief sniffed at it with undisguised pleasure; it afforded satisfaction not only to the old men, but also to the squaws and the bewitching young copper-colored maidens, whose admiring glances at the proud warrior who possessed it were observed by the other unmated braves, and fired them with the ambition to secure similar pomatumed trophies with which to decorate their wigwams and weave love's spell on the gentler sex. Thus it happened that hunting French scalps became a fashionable fad among the untutored denizens of the woods, who had never before known the fascinating properties of French perfumes. The straight, unkempt capillary growths of the New Englanders, jerked reeking from unlucky heads on the outskirts of Marietta, where the scenting and curling of hair were not in vogue among the men, greatly depreciated in the estimation
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of the savages. One consequence of this was a notable increase in the number of bald-headed men, dead and alive, in and about Gallipolis, where a deficiency in hirsute adornment is noticeable to this day among the descendants of the original settlers.
The process by which the ringleted prizes made way for the incurable baldness of those from whom they were snatched has been vividly described in Long's Travels, a publication more than a century old. After twenty years spent among savages Long wrote: "When an Indian strikes a person on the temple with a tomahawk, the victim instantly drops: he then seizes his hair with one hand, twisting it very tight together, to separate the skin from the head, and placing his knee on the breast, with the other he draws the scalping knife from the sheath, and cuts the skin round the forehead, pulling it off with his teeth. As he is very dexterous, the operation is generally performed in two minutes. The scalp is then extended on three hoops, dried in the sun, and rubbed over with vermilion." It is pleasant to know just how the operation was performed, now that it has forever passed away as an incident of warfare, and a bald pate has come to be, by the
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cogent arguments of those whose evanescent hair has gone "to mix forever with the elements," an indication of profound wisdom.
But despite these and other vicissitudes of pioneer life, The French Five Hundred managed to have a dance twice every week, increased the suppleness of their joints, perfected the education of their heels, and cultivated the social amenities of the ball-room, regardless of the scarcity of food, the ravages of malaria and rheumatism, or the dimmed colors and threadbare appearance of much of the fancy raiment with which they left Paris. While their countrymen at home were singing the Marseillaise, sacking the Tuileries, mutilating the dead bodies of aristocrats, enduring the frightful deeds of a Robespierre and a Marat, and marveling at the courage and resolution of a Charlotte Corday, they were making watches, silverware, areometers, thermometers, barometers and confections, and becoming accustomed to felling trees, grubbing up roots, raising crops, milking cows, hunting, making soap from old bones and grease, manufacturing garments from the skins of wild animals, and a hundred other tasks by which a new country is brought into the domain of civilization.
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Of all their new employments, none attracted more attention from the whole community than that of felling the great trees which covered the land needed for planting. It was a thrilling sight when one of these monarchs, hundreds of years old, wounded to the heart by the axe, would topple to its fall. As the moment of dissolution drew nigh, groups of French gathered about to witness the fall and hear the crash of breaking branches. Unfortunately, owing to excusable lack of skill and inexperience on the part of the choppers, they were on several occasions unable to control the direction of the fall, and as a result several persons were caught by trees and severely hurt, and two or three killed. Because of this the French at Gallipolis have been held up to ridicule by a score of historians, no account of their early struggles being considered complete without a picture representing a few of them sprawling under a fallen tree.
HOW AND WHY PEACH BRANDY CAME TO BE MADE AND USED BY THE FRENCH FIVE HUNDRED; THE VIEWS OF THEM WRITTEN BY HECKEWELDER AND BRACKENRIDGE ; JEDEDIAH MORSE'S OBSERVATIONS; THE FRENCH GRANT.
Claret is the liquor for boys; port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy.
In man's most dark extremity
Oft succour dawns from Heaven.
AN industry which the colonists learned and engaged in with singular unanimity when their young orchards began to bear, was the manufacture and consumption of apple and peach brandy. As an aged print says, what was to be done with the superabundance of apples and peaches that fell to the ground in such quantities that they were gathered easiest with a shovel? Tin, although known and utilized in the time of Moses, and a staple article of trade with the Phoenicians, had not then reached
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Gallipolis in the form of fruit cans: glass- and stone-ware were almost as scarce. It would be an insult to Providence to allow
"—the sap that turns to nectar, in the velvet of the peach"
to go to waste. There was no satisfactory way to save its flavor and aroma except by distillation. Money was scarce and brandy was always accepted as a standard medium of exchange, therefore the French went to making what Robert Hall called "liquid fire and distilled damnation" with an ardor born both of hope of profit, and appetite. Soon every cellar was occupied by one or more casks of the ardent liquor, and a large flask of it, with a glass conveniently near by, became a common sight on the side-boards. In order to ward off fevers, agues and fits of indigestion, as well as those physical evils which frequently follow fogs, rains, extreme heat and cold, snow, and other unwholesome kinds of weather, the flasks were often replenished. Hosts and guests alike readily learned to believe that a glass of pure, sparkling peach brandy promoted good fellowship, facilitated business, minimized sickness, prevented disputes, and inculcated the
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virtues of charity and benevolence. Therefore the use of the stuff became general and habitual, rounding out into pink and purple plumpness many faces that had been sallow and shrunken. Every one felt rich after a glass or two of brandy, and when several had been swallowed neither kings nor princes were envied by the tipplers.
The entire community fully coincided with the famous encomium of brandy by the reverend prelate Theoricus Episcopus Hermenensis in Romanula juxta Bononiam. He, it will be remembered, advised the use of brandy before and after meals, because "it sloweth age, it strengtheneth youth, it helpeth digestion, it cutteth phlegm, it abandoneth melancholy, it relisheth the heart, it lighteneth the mind, it quickeneth the spirits, it cureth the hydropsy, it healeth the strangulary, it pounceth the stone, it expelleth gravel, it puffeth away all ventosity, it keepeth and preserveth the head from whirling, the eyes from dazzling, the tongue from lisping, the mouth from maffling, the teeth from chattering, and the throat from rattling; it keepeth the weason from stifling, the stomach from wambling, and the heart from swelling; the belly from wirtching, the guts
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from rumbling, the hands from shivering, the veins from crampling, the bones from aching, and the marrow from soking."
The liking of the French for strong liquors, their addiction to late hours, the earnestness with which they thought of their dinners, their constant desire to be "quite full inside," as Charles Lamb said was his condition after "that last piece of pudding at Mr. Gilman's," their balls, and even their methods of courting, cannot fairly make them odious in comparison with the other colonies existing at that time in America. The Rev. Dr. Talmage has spoken of these matters—not, however, with reference to the settlement at Gallipolis, but in a general way of the colonies on the Atlantic coast—and said:
"Many of the familiar drinks of today were unknown to them, but their hard cider, mint juleps, metheglin, hot toddy, and lemonade in which the lemon was not at all prominent, sometimes made lively work for the broad-brimmed hats and silver knee-buckles. Talk of dissipating parties of today and keeping of late hours! Why, did they not have their 'bees' and sausage-stuffings and tea-parties and dances, that for heartiness and uproar utterly eclipsed all the waltzes, lanciers, redowas, and breakdowns of the nineteenth century, and they never went home till morning. And as to the old time courtships, oh, my! Washington Irving describes them."
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A pleasant, instructive, and truthful picture of the industries which were occupying the attention of The French Five Hundred in 1792, after they had accomplished the rougher part of the necessary labor of clearing their lands, and were able to employ a portion of their time at work which was to their taste, has been drawn by John Heckewelder, who, with General Putnam, was in Gallipolis that year. "Here," said he, "we spent the whole of the following day in visiting the skilled workmen and the gardens laid out in European style. The most interesting shops of the workmen were those of goldsmiths and watchmakers. They showed us work on watches, compasses and sun-dials finer than any I had ever beheld. Next in interest were the sculptors and stonecutters. These latter had two finished mantels, most artistically carved. General Putnam at once purchased one of them for twelve guineas, the other was intended for a rich Dutch gentleman who has built a two-story house here, fifty feet long. The upper part of a mantel was lying there, ordered by a Spanish gentleman in New Orleans, which, because of the fine workmanship upon it, was to cost twenty or twenty-two guineas. The worker in glass
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seemed to be a born artist. He made us a thermometer, a barometer, a glass tobacco pipe, a small bottle (which could contain about a thimble full), and a most diminutive stopper, and a number of works of art besides. He also manufactured precious medicine, nitric acid, etc. As we were on a journey, and were in daily need of light and fire, he presented us with a glass of dry stuff, which burns as soon as a match is applied. This stuff, he told us, was manufactured from bones. Concerning the fine gardens, I must add the following: that in them were to be found the most beautiful flowers, artichokes, and almond trees, and besides many vineyards and some rice fields. At a distance of about one hundred steps from the Ohio there is a round hill, which probably dates its origin from the former inhabitants of this land. The hill, about thirty feet high, has been improved as a beautiful pleasure garden, with a pretty summer house on top. The town of Gallipolis consists of one hundred and fifty dwellings. At noon we dined with the most prominent French gentleman of the place, at the house of the judge and doctor, Mr. Petit."
Not so cheerful is the story of Gallipolis two years later, as written by H. M. Brackenridge
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of Fort Pitt, who was detained in the French town for some months by a severe attack of the ague. He stated that "Gallipolis, with the exception of a few straggling log houses, consisted of two long rows of barracks built of logs, and partitioned off into rooms of sixteen or twenty feet wide, with what is called a cabin roof and wooden chimneys. At one end there was a larger room than the rest, which served as a council chamber and ball room. The Gallipolitans did not pretend to cultivate anything more than small garden spots, depending for their supply of provisions on the boats. They still assembled at the ball room twice a week; it was evident, however, that they felt disappointment, and were no longer happy.
"Toward the latter part of the summer, the inhabitants suffered severely from sickness and want of provisions. The situation was truly wretched. The swamp in the rear, now exposed by the clearing between it and the river, became the cause of a frightful epidemic from which few escaped, and many became its victims."
That was a gloomy period with few gleams of sunshine breaking through the clouds to brighten the lives of the colonists. In 1796
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there was another discouraging outbreak of disease. An autumnal fever, of the kind often prevalent in newly cleared country, which was long suspected to have been Yellow Jack, because of the similarity of some of its symptoms with those of the dread tropical plague, hurried seventeen of the settlers to that narrow bed
"Where sets the orb of being, sets
To rise, ascend, and culminate above
Eternity's horizon evermore."
This fever the physicians were utterly unable to control. It died away as quickly as it came, and not only in Gallipolis, but in other and later settlements, its ravages were great for several years. Few indeed were the pioneer families who did not carry one or more of their home circle to the grave because of it at some season during the ten years after settlement in which conditions favored its spread.
Medication in those days was crude compared with its modern development, and some of the remedies then taken with entire faith in their curative properties, would be spurned with contempt by the medical profession today. For the ear-ache, that organ was rubbed roughly for fifteen minutes, and then treated
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to a hot roasted onion which was tied tightly in it. If that failed to cure, strong tobacco smoke was blown into it. For asthma, apple water, made by pouring boiling water on sliced apples, was the popular remedy, being taken in copious swallows at frequent intervals. Consumption was treated with cold baths, no food being allowed the patient but white bread and buttermilk. To relieve and destroy cancer, the warts that grow on the inside of a horse's fore legs were dried, powdered, and swallowed in ale. For sprained muscles and tendons, and stiff joints, earthworm oil, made by simmering heat applied to worms in bottles, is said to have been almost miraculous in its good effects.
In 1796 Jedediah Morse, D. D., "minister of the congregation in Charlestown," published at Boston the second edition of his "View of the Present State of all the Empires, Kingdoms, States and Republics in the known World"—a comprehensive volume full of valuable information, in which one short chapter is devoted to the "Territory N. W. of the Ohio." He puts the population of "Galliopolis" at one thousand souls in 1792, and quotes with his endorsement several paragraphs from an anony-
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mous pamphlet, which touch on the natural advantages of the Ohio country.
"The undisguised terms of admiration," says one of these paragraphs, "that are commonly used in speaking of the natural fertility of the country on the western waters of the United States, would render it difficult, without accurate attention in the surveys, to ascribe a preference to any particular part; or to give a just description of the territory under consideration, without the hazard of being suspected of exaggeration: but in this we have the united opinion of the geographer, the surveyors, and every traveler that has been intimately acquainted with the country, and marked every natural object with the most scrupulous exactness—That no part of the federal territory unites so many advantages, in point of health, fertility, variety of production, and foreign intercourse, as that tract which stretches from the Muskingum to the Scioto and the Great Miami rivers."
Of the timber to be found there, the pamphlet said: "The prevailing growth of timber and useful trees are maple or sugar tree, sycamore, black and white mulberry, black and white walnut, butternut, chestnut; white,
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black, Spanish, and chestnut oaks, hiccory, cherry, buckwood or horse chestnut, honey locust, elm, cucumber tree, lynn tree, gum tree, iron wood, ash, aspin, sassafras, crabapple tree, pawpaw or custard apple, a variety of plum trees, nine bark spice, and leather wood bushes. General Parsons measured a black walnut tree, near the Muskingum, whose circumference, at five feet from the ground, was 22 feet. A sycamore, near the same place, measured 44 feet in circumference, at some distance from the ground."
The description given of the game in this favored country is sufficient to start a Nimrod's blood to jumping. "No country," says the pamphlet, "is better stocked with wild game of every kind. Innumerable herds of deer and wild cattle are sheltered in the groves. Turkies, geese, ducks, swans, teal, pheasants, partridges, &c. are, from observation, believed to be in greater plenty here, than the tame poultry are in any part of the old settlements in America."
Dr. Morse adds to this rosy view the following statement of his own regarding the troubles with the Indians: "The settlement of this country has been checked, for several years
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past, by the unhappy Indian war, an amicable termination of which took place on the 3d of August, 1795, when a treaty was formed between major general Anthony Wayne, on the part of the United States, and the Chiefs of the following tribes of Indians, viz. the Wyandots, Delawares, Shawanoes, Ottawas, Chippewas, Putawatimes, Miamis, Eelriver, Weeas, Kickapoos, Pian-Kashaws and Kaskaskias."
The settlement of the most serious difficulties with the savages gave the French at Gallipolis, who in 1796 had dwindled in number to about three hundred, an opportunity to take an inventory of their woes and wrongs. They had suffered grievously from disease. Many had abandoned Gallipolis and sought fairer fields in other portions of America, while a few had returned to France utterly disgusted with the new world. They had all felt a sense of injury ever since the discovery at Alexandria that their deeds to the Scioto lands were worthless, and those who yet remained at Gallipolis determined to ask Congress for relief. A town meeting was called, and unanimously decided to take immediate action. A memorial, in which their sufferings and grievances since their arrival in America were related, and the
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wrongs imposed upon them by the bankrupt Scioto Company clearly set forth, was prepared, addressed to Congress, and properly certified. In it, without claiming any consideration as a matter of legal right, they prayed for relief.
Monsieur Jean G. Gervais undertook to make the long journey to Philadelphia and look after the matter at the National Capital. He was successful. Congress was touched by the evident sincerity of the memorial, and without the political influence, delays, or lobbying necessary in these later days to win attention at Washington, promptly passed an act setting apart for the use and benefit of the original settlers at Gallipolis twenty-four thousand acres of land on the Ohio River, opposite the mouth of the Little Sandy River, in what is now Green township, Scioto county.
This tract, ever since called the French Grant, was surveyed and divided into equal portions of 217 ½ acres, which were distributed by lot to those entitled to them at a public drawing in the public square at Gallipolis. The names of those interested were placed in one box, and the numbers of the lots in another, each written on a separate piece of
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paper. The boxes were shaken, and while the names were drawn one by one from the first box, Colonel Safford drew the numbers of the lots from the other, each drawing being announced and recorded.
Not long before this distribution the failure of The Scioto Company had made it necessary for the French to purchase the second time the land in and about Gallipolis, paying The Ohio Company $1.25 an acre for it. This hardship was greatly softened by the generosity of the French Grant, which gave to each of the victims of The Scioto Company who still remained at Gallipolis an unincumbered tract of wild land. But the Grant had one provision annexed that was difficult for the colonists to comply with; it required that each lot should be occupied for three years before the owner's title was made perfect. Many of the beneficiaries, after their experiences at Gallipolis, were unwilling or unable to face again the difficulties, labors, and perils of invading a wild territory. These either sent tenants, while they themselves remained at Gallipolis, or sold their claims to others.
WHEREIN TWO VISITS TO GALLIPOLIS, ONE BY THE COUNT DE VOLNEY, WHOSE OBSERVATIONS WERE SOMBER, AND THE OTHER BY LOUIS PIIILLIPE, AFTERWARDS KING OF FRANCE, ARE MENTIONED.
Desolate—Life is so dreary and desolate,—
Women and men in the crowd meet and mingle,
Yet with itself every soul standeth single.
Born but to banquet, and to drain the bowl.
THE Count de Volney of France came to America in 1795, and spent three years traveling through the country. Upon his return to Paris he published a book entitled "A View of the Soil and Climate of the United States of America," in which he devoted a chapter to The French Five Hundred, whom he visited in 1796. Speaking of the surroundings of the colonists on their arrival, he says: "Though there be no bears or tygers, in the neighbor-. hood, there are wild beasts infinitely more cun-
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ning and ferocious, in the shape of men, who were at that time at open and cruel war with the whites. On my arrival in America, in October, 1795, I made some enquiry after these people, but could only hear a vague story that they were buried somewhere in the western wilds and had not prospered."
The gloomy aspect of affairs when the Count reached the town is fully revealed in his words, which, however, may carry a degree of exaggeration because of his recent sojourn in the prosperous and established cities on the coast, where comforts and luxuries were abundant. Or it may have been that his recollection of the attire and surroundings of his countrymen as they were in Paris, when contrasted by him with their condition as it was then in Gallipolis, influenced his mind to the conclusion that they had been unfortunate in their change of country, and were doomed to lives of sadness and discontent.
"It was nightfall," said he, "before I reached the village, and I could perceive nothing but a double row of small white houses, built on the flat top of the bank of the Ohio, which here laves the foot of a cliff fifty feet high. Next day I took a view of the place, and was struck with its forlorn appearance; with the thin, pale
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faces, sickly looks, and anxious air of its inhabitants. The village forms an oblong quadrangle of two rows of contiguous buildings, which a spark would consume altogether. Their dwellings, though made externally cheerful by whitewash, were only log huts, patched with clay, and roofed with shingles, consequently damp, unwholesome and uncomfortable. Southeast lies the broad expanse of the river, but in front and to the north there appear nothing but interminable forests.
"The situation of the colonists was far from being agreeable. All the labors of clearing and tillage were imposed on the family itself of the proprietor. It may easily be imagined how severe a hardship it was, on men brought up in the ease and indolence of Paris, to chop trees, to plough, to sow, to reap, to labor in the field or the barn, in a heat of 85 or 95 degrees. It is true, the soil was fertile, and the season propitious. In autumn and winter, venizon was a cent or two a pound, and bread was two or three cents; but money was extremely scarce. The maple, tapped in February, afforded those who attended to the produce perhaps a hundred pounds of coarse dark sugar, frequently injured in the boiling, and extremely impure."
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The Count de Volney may have been at fault in declaring the maple sugar impure. Its darkness possibly influenced him to that opinion. After a century, the sugar from the maple has become a luxury, and complaints of its impurity are still frequent, but are made for different reasons, the chief one being that it is now mixed with other sugars which the Count would doubtless have regarded as most excellent. He concludes his observations of Gallipolis by saying: "Such is the condition of the Scioto colony, which does not altogether realize the pictures of the inland paradise given by American farmers, nor the glories of the future capital of the Ohio and its realms, predicted by a certain writer. If such encomiasts could hear their praises as they are rehearsed on the spot, they would grow disgusted with that trite, idle, and inflated rhetoric, which has condemned five hundred meritorious families to hardship and misery.
"I wished to leave this settlement with a persuasion that they were doing well and would prosper: but, besides the original and incurable error in the choice of situation, I am afraid that their despondency will never be entirely removed, since there will always be some cause
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for it, and since the French nation are less qualified for settling a new country than the
emigrants from England, Ireland, or Germany."
Two years after this dismal prediction, during which the colony had made fair progress in conquering the wilderness with which it was surrounded, and had added much to the general comfort and pleasure of their lives, there happened (in January, 1798) an event which set all Gallipolis in a flurry of pleasant excitement. Louis Philippe, exile son of the Duke of Orleans, and traveled man of the world, visited The French Five Hundred, being at the time twenty-five years of age, handsome, accomplished, and gracious as when in later years he occupied the throne of France. Being en route to New Orleans by boat, he gladly seized the opportunity to meet his countrymen who had come to America to build a French city. They greeted him with royal honors, and elaborate preparations were at once set on foot for a formal reception, banquet and ball in celebration of his presence. His first, and as it happened, only night in Gallipolis, he spent "sipping brandy and water gayly," in conversation, and in rest.
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The next day the old chests brought across the sea were overhauled by the ladies for such finery as they had been able to save from the moths for use on notable occasions. The Parisian fashions for the winter of 1797-8 had not reached the colony, which is not surprising, as Volney observed that the Paris modes of 1793 did not reach Philadelphia until 1795, first having been stamped with English approval before their adoption in America. Consequently the styles of 1790 were of necessity still in vogue among the fair sex of Gallipolis, and there is no reason to doubt that they were quite as attractive and winsome as the latest creations of the Paris modistes, when skillfully adjusted to forms which tradition declares to have been simply perfect. The regular occupations of the community were dropped in order that all might engage in suitably decorating the ball room, and in applying those arts of cookery of which the French are masters, to the materials for the banquet. In the midst of the hurry and agitation of the day, word reached Louis that heavy ice, which he had escaped at Marietta, was coming down the river, and that his boat must depart within the hour in order to keep ahead of it. Hasty farewells were said, and the
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gallant young sprig of royalty departed, taking with him the blessings of all, and many pressing invitations to return during the frog season.
An unpleasant story has been printed in several books, pamphlets and magazines, to the effect that Louis Philippe stopped at Gallipolis only to get a supply of fresh bread for his voyage, and not because of any particular desire to meet The French Five Hundred. That is a distressing error. Louis Philippe stopped at Marietta for stores. There he gave an order to Francis Thierry, a French baker who had settled at that point in order to check by his skill at the oven the inroads of dyspepsia and melancholy caused by sour and "salt-rising" New England bread, and to modify somewhat with his cakes and confections the unalluring dining tables of his patrons. While waiting for the loaves to be baked Louis strolled over the town, and on his return to the landing place found the Muskingum River about to empty a vast quantity of heavy floating ice into the Ohio. The loaves were not yet on board, but the French baker hurried them upon the boat, which was pushed off from shore before he could dispose of them. He was greatly concerned over his enforced absence from his wife,
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for reasons which he did not fully explain, but was set ashore in a canoe several miles down the river, to find his way back to Marietta as best he could, and there by his prompt return assure Mrs. Thierry that he had no intention to desert her.
Many years after the foregoing incident, as related by General Lewis Cass in his book entitled "France: Its King, Court and Government," an American gentleman, a resident of Southern Ohio, was presented to King Louis Philippe, who, upon learning that his visitor was from southern Ohio, astonished him by asking if he knew a French baker in Marietta named Thierry. It happened that the gentleman was well acquainted with him, and he so answered. Thereupon the King remarked: "I once ran away with him," and related what has already been told, and with it a number of other interesting incidents connected with his travels in America, which amused and delighted his visitor, and revealed the retentiveness and accuracy of his memory.
OF THE ADVENTURES OF MEN OF MARK IN THE COLONY, AND OF THE SPEEDY CONSOLATION BY THE UNMARRIED OF THOSE ROBBED OF THEIR CONSORTS BY DEATH.
Scarcely two hundred years back can Fame recollect articulately at all; and there she but maunders and mumbles. -CARLYLE.
All are not taken! there are left behind
Living Beloveds, tender looks to bring,
And make the daylight still a happy thing,
And tender voices, to make soft the wind.
—E. B. BROWNING.
A NUMBER of the French who came to Gallipolis in 1790, or in the decade immediately following, and two or three of their associates of other nationalities, are conspicuous in records and traditions because of their idiosyncrasies, relations to events, or peculiar personal experiences. Note is therefore taken of them here.
Monsieur Guillaume Duduit, who was a corporal at the storming of the Bastile, won
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the reputation in many a formidable test involving courage and eyesight, of being the most expert marksman in the colony. He was a government spy for several years, and a brave soldier in the War of 1812. When a boy at school in Paris he often came home with coagulated blood under his finger nails, in testimony of the vigor with which his impatient tutor used the ferule. He was one of the first to leave Gallipolis for the Grant, where he engaged in distilling peach brandy, and was not so sure a shot afterward.
Monsieur Joseph Devacht was believed to be the finest watchmaker in the United States, and always carried two timekeepers, one in each vest pocket. His father was inspector of the market in Amsterdam, and Joseph wrote copies of manuscripts in convents during his youth, removed later to Paris, and from there embarked for America in the ship La Patrie on February 3, 179o. He accumulated much property in his adopted country, had a fine orchard, and always sold his peaches at the rate of three barrels for a gallon and a half of brandy—a true indication of the relative value at that time of peaches and their distilled product. His private residence cost nine thou-
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sand dollars, a very large expenditure for such a purpose at the time it was built.
Lieutenant Francis D'Hebecourt was educated in a military school in France, where he made the acquaintance and won the friendship of Napoleon Bonaparte, his fellow-student. After their graduation, the story runs that the two decided to found an empire in America. D'Hebecourt came with the colonists, and was the first postmaster of Gallipolis, but Napoleon was persuaded by his family to remain in Europe. How the current of history might have been changed if the Little Corporal had adopted America as the scene of his career, and found opportunity to exercise his military genius in building up a despotism in the new world!
Joseph Vandenbemden reached Gallipolis in 1792, aged five years. He was the leader of those who volunteered from the French colony for the War of 1812, and was intimate with Daniel Boone, who trapped at least one whole season on Raccoon Creek near Gallipolis. The Dutch were better treated at Gallipolis than in New England. Isaac Hill Bromley said at a dinner of the New England Society in New York, that when the pioneers moved inland from the Bay country in 1637, "they found
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some very early Dutch at Hartford, but, the hint being conveyed to them that they were a trifle too early, they retired in good order, leaving only an odor of profanity."
Monsieur Francis Valodin, the stowaway, after working out his year's penalty in Virginia, found his way to Gallipolis, where by adroitness and untiring industry he accumulated wealth, finally becoming the richest man on the Grant. He developed from a peach raiser into a brandy distiller, fond of his fiery product and greatly interested in games of cards. He could neither read nor write, but his deficiencies in education were counterbalanced by rare originality of mind and sound judgment. When one of his sons returned from boarding school, and was observed by him to be much concerned over the niceties of toilet common to the adolescent period, he remarked:
"Hem! Sacre Dieu! No use send D school more; got gal in de head." A correct diagnosis, in all probability, and one applicable to many cases of later origin.
Monsieur Jean Gabriel Gervais won fame by the softness of his hands, which were so velvety to the touch that sensitive young women, when they clasped hands with him in the
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dance, blushed at the consciousness of the roughness of theirs as compared with his. He once very successfully masqueraded in full lady's costume at a ball, and was an accomplished dancer, artist and violinist. As mentioned on another page, Monsieur Gervais engineered the movement that led Congress to make the French Grant, and was given four thousand acres thereof for his able services. By common consent he was acknowledged to be the most perfect gentleman in Gallipolis. Paris-born, he had been in Cuba before joining the expedition of The French Five Hundred, and was fond of telling stories of his thrilling adventures and indiscreet pleasures in the society of Havana beauties. Of the poetic temperament, physically delicate, he was nevertheless a great pedestrian, and spent much of his time pacing along the public streets swinging his silver-headed cane. He never was married, and in 1817 sold his large holdings in the French Grant, and returned with a competence to his beloved Paris, where he lived the life of a gentleman until his death at the age of sixty.
Monsieur Claudius Cadot was the first male child born in Gallipolis, so far as the records
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disclose, the notable event occurring February 17, 1793. His sister Marie Louise was undoubtedly the first child born in the settlement, January 28, 1791, being the date of her birth. Both were children of Claudius and Jane Bastine Cadot, who were married in Paris in 1790. The father died in 1796, a victim of malaria, and three months thereafter the widow was again a bride. When the younger Claudius grew up he worked in a brandy distillery, and later, as a soldier in the War of 1812, was surrendered by Hull at Detroit. Of all in his company at the time of that surrender, he was the last to die.
The life of Adaline Susannah Le Clerq was almost synchronous with that of the first century of the colony. Born March 26, 1787, she arrived at Gallipolis in 1792, married Anthony Rene Maguet in 1806, and died March 8, 1887, lacking only eighteen days of having lived a century, and being the last survivor of all who resided in Gallipolis in its first decade.
Monsieur Antoine Claude Vincent was educated in Paris in the French, Latin and Greek languages, his parents intending him for the priesthood; but on reaching manhood he could not embrace the Roman Catholic faith, and
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joined the French emigrants in 179o. He studied English during the long voyage over the Atlantic with such assiduity that on his arrival he was able to write it fairly well, although he could not speak it at all. At Gallipolis he raised poultry and taught school, but desiring to learn the English tongue, went to Marietta for that purpose. While there he met Louis Philippe, who was so charmed by his person, manners and attainments that he invited him to journey with him to New Orleans and become attached to his fortunes. This flattering proposal Monsieur Vincent declined, and in his later years much regretted that he had done so, especially after two terrible afflictions came upon him. One of these was the bite of a copperhead snake, his agony from the poison being so great that he actually chewed to pieces the blanket with which he was covered, and laid helpless for three weeks. The other was a narrow escape from freezing to death on a trip from Marietta to Belpre. He was caught in a bitterly cold storm, and his hands and feet so badly frozen that the flesh came off, leaving the bones of the first joints of both fingers and toes bare. For six weeks he was not expected to live, and suffered in-
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describably. The earthquakes in January and February of 1812 unsettled his wife's reason. Monsieur Vincent was a skillful musician, and after the loss of portions of his fingers was able to play his violin only in reversed position, but it was a sweet beguilement, even under such difficulties, in the weary hours of his latter years. It is said that he was never unemployed, going immediately from his regular work to enjoy the charm of his books. He had no faith in rites, fasts, forms or ceremonies of a religious character, but believed—using his own words—"a blameless life the surest passport to future felicity."
Monsieur Augustin Le Clercq was the first justice of the peace in Gallipolis, deriving his authority from a commission dated May 6, 1791, issued by Winthrop Sargent, secretary of The Ohio Company, who was vested with the power of governor in the Northwest Territory. This document, the first issued for the government of The French Five Hundred, is now in the possession of his descendants, and in an excellent state of preservation. Augustin's son, Peter Francis Augustin Le Clercq, was seventeen years old when he arrived with his father and the colony at Gallipolis. He was a
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man of superior education, and nine months after the death of his first wife in 1809, married Marie Louise Cadot. He was a useful citizen, a Freemason, and held for many years the offices of clerk of the courts and postmaster.
Monsieur Andrew Lacroix, Latin scholar and obstetrician, reached Gallipolis in 1791. His profession requiring only his occasional attention, and his income from assisting at births being slender, he was forced to adopt what an old writer calls "employment not quite so poetical," in order to make ends meet. He married the widow Serot in 1797, and when he received his lot in the French Grant, went to distilling brandy. His wedding was one of many colonial matrimonial alliances between widows, widowers, and persons previously unmarried. Few of those bereaved early in life were obliged to wait long to resume the joys of wedded life, and the instances in which amatory overtures were rejected after the first partner's remains had been given brief time to molder in the grave, were rare. When a husband dies in Sumatra, it is said to be the custom for the widow to erect a flag over her hut, and as soon as the wind frays or slits the fluttering emblem of woe, the bereaved one may
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with propriety again receive matrimonial attentions. The flags used are of cheap, flimsy stuff, unhemmed, and on that windy island, frequently visited by severe storms, soon become weather-beaten. There is no evidence of any such flag signals being used in the first decade of Gallipolis, but those flown on blushing cheeks or darted from glowing eyes, evidently were quite as effective in shortening the periods of mourning. Monsieur Lacroix had two startling adventures, leaving out of consideration his marriage to the widow Serot. One was with a bear whom he engaged in a struggle at close quarters, and finally killed with his knife. The other was his fall at midnight, while on the way home from his distillery, into a well thirty-six feet deep, from which he emerged panting and exhausted, but not seriously hurt, after clawing his way from the bottom by desperate efforts. The pleasures derived from reading solaced his declining years.
Monsieur John Peter Romaine Bureau arrived at Gallipolis with the colony, and seven years later wedded Madelaine Francoise Charlotte Marret, thus combining eight names in one. The ceremony was performed at Point Pleasant, the bride and groom standing in a
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boat on the river in order to be under the jurisdiction of Virginia. Monsieur Bureau was much admired by the young women when in the first bloom of his manhood, and in later years was highly distinguished for his intelligent labors to build up Gallipolis. He filled many responsible positions, among them those of postmaster, justice of the peace, clerk of the courts, and member of both branches of the state legislature. He retained the entire confidence of his people during his long life.
Dr. Antoine Francis Saugrain, physician, chemist, and natural philosopher, was an active and plucky little Frenchman four and a half feet in height, full of vitality, vivacity and imperturbable good nature. His was a highbred and wonderfully attractive countenance, with full, lustrous eyes and exquisite profile, all stamped by natural nobility of character. A handsome reproduction of his features still exists in Gallipolis.
Dr. Saugrain was once descending the Ohio River with two scholarly French gentlemen who believed the Indians were not so bad as they were painted, and that no white man who treated them kindly would ever be abused by them. The Doctor did not coincide with their
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trustful views, and when his companions invited a number of savages aboard the boat near the mouth of the Sandy River, in order to demonstrate their theory, he kept a sharp lookout. When the visitors stepped aboard, instead of clasping the outstretched hands of their confident white advocates, they sunk their tomahawks into their skulls, and attempted to serve Dr. Saugrain in the same treacherous manner, but the wiry little Doctor killed two of them with his pistols, leaped into the water, and succeeded in reaching the opposite shore, with several severe wounds, but alive and able to make his way home to Gallipolis. He was fond of chemical experiment, familiar with the properties of phosphorus, and took great pleasure in mystifying the Indians who came into Gallipolis, by chemical tricks that filled them with awe.
A high-minded and honorable man was Claudius R. Menager, merchant, baker, and entertainer of travelers, whose industry, coupled with that of his wife, to whom he was married a month after the colony arrived, made him the richest man in the town, and one of the most respected. The tenor of his life was even.
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Louis Victor Vonschriltz, of noble German stock, came over with the French immediately after his marriage in Paris in 179o. He was a Roman Catholic priest when he fell in love with the woman who became his wife. His infatuation for her was so complete that he renounced his clerical orders, married her secretly, and fled with her to America, where he would not be compelled to face the persecutions his act would have led to had he remained in France. Amid all the hardships he encountered in the early years of Gallipolis, he never regretted his marriage, and his children's children preserve the memory of his romantic alliance and flight to a land where love was the passport to undisturbed bliss.
There were several men who won distinction in Gallipolis early in the nineteenth century, some of them French and some English, but they are not within the scope of these pages, which are intended to treat only of the original French Five Hundred of the first decade of Gallipolis, and of those who were thrown into direct relations with them during that period. Consequently many names intimately and honorably related to the history of Gallipolis after the year 1800 are of necessity omitted.
CONTAINING REFLECTIONS ON THE FRENCH FIVE HUNDRED AS THE NUCLEUS OF GALLIPOLIS, AND ON THE PUBLIC SQUARE WHERE THEIR LOG HOMES STOOD.
The flood of time is rolling on;
We stand upon its brink, whilst they are gone
To glide in peace down death's mysterious stream.
The French undertook to colonize, and as they were when they landed at Quebec, so they are today. They have not sprouted, nor has one branch grown from that day to this. They went West through Indiana and Ohio, and it is perfectly ludicrous to hear how they took saws and cut down trees, taking four days to cut down one good-sized tree. They hacked and hewed all day and fiddled and danced all night. They tried it in Florida and Louisiana, and they were swallowed up at one mouthful. But no harm came of it, there was no violence done them, for there was no resistance. We took them, married their daughters, and so subdued them.—HENRY WARD BEECHER, on "The Glory of New England."
THE French Five Hundred, at least that portion of them who survived the pond near the Public Square, and remained in Gallipolis or
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on the Grant a few miles down the Ohio River, multiplied and replenished the earth so as fully to meet the requirements of the scriptural injunction, and transmitted to succeeding generations a generous heritage of the vivacity, agility, enthusiasm, and fondness for frogs and dancing which distinguished them even under the most depressing conditions of disease, poverty and disappointment. Their bones repose in "the lone couches of their everlasting sleep," at Gallipolis, and in the several burying places on the Grant, with crumbling tombstones above them, whose almost illegible inscriptions have long since ceased to interest any but their immediate descendants, and the few who find a melancholy satisfaction, while studying the beginnings of civilization in the great Northwest Territory, in drawing near to the hallowed dust of those whose patience and perseverance conquered the wilderness and made it blossom for their progeny.
If The French Five Hundred founded no theological seminaries or colleges of learning, if they were not renowned for piety, if the beauties and pleasures of this world, rather than of the next, were their chief concern, if their amusements and the quality of their peach
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brandy appealed to them with more force than church bells, it must be remembered, in justice to them, that in their veins flowed the blood of a people little given to the strict observance of orthodox tenets. They lived the life that might have been expected to follow their early training and environment.
A quarter of a century saw them outnumbered in their own City of the Gauls, and marriage with alien bloods infused into their children's children many of the characteristics of their adopted country. Yet they are remembered as adepts in the arts of social intercourse and gallantry, and as generous, loyal, lovable people, who saw the world and its experiences through the glasses of optimism, worrying little, and extracting sunshine from clouds. Having left France in pursuit of happiness, they did not permit disappointment and ill treatment to embitter their lives. They found pleasure in the diversions to which they had been accustomed in their native land, even while in the very pocket of peril or privation. That they had faults has been disclosed—gently and sympathetically—but as the Professor at the Breakfast Table remarks, "we must have a weak spot or two in a character
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before we can love it much. People that do not laugh or cry, or take more of anything than is good for them, or use anything but dictionary words, are admirable subjects for biographies. But we don't care most for those flat pattern flowers that press best in the herbarium."
The city founded by The French Five Hundred has kept its French flavor for an hundred years—long after the currents of purely French influence ceased to flow in it—although its legislative body of I go I refused to honor the memory of its founders by giving its streets a nomenclature of historic significance.
The Public Square, on which stood the rude homes of the colonists, in which their children were born and bred, on which their ambitions were gratified or their sorrows endured, and under whose turf the dust of many of them awaits the Resurrection, has been transformed into a beautiful little park, the summer evening resort of multitudes who enjoy its sod, walks, trees, and splendid river prospect. Babes coo to its dancing leaves and twittering birds, children scamper and romp over its greensward, weary laborers sprawl on its cooling grass, men and womenfind refreshment and recreation
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within its borders, and the aged sit in its shades and recall dead, coffined faces.
It is a place of rest, this spot where dwelt the nucleus of the present prosperous city, and is visited by many who muse over the comedies and tragedies and romantic escapades of which it has been the scene. They listen to the music —without the dancing of a century past—and by its stirring suggestions and gentle inspirations, and the wholesome charm and loveliness of this Public Square, pregnant with tender memories of gallant men and adorable women, are made better and stronger and happier.
The generations which have dwelt in the vicinity of this historic spot since the disappearance of The French Five Hundred from the face of the earth, have builded their fortunes and enjoyed the comforts of peace, the conveniences of civilization, and the luxuries of wealth, upon the foundation of pioneer trial, privation and suffering undergone by those faithful men and women from a far country, who wore out their busy lives in loyal efforts for the commercial and social advancement of Gallipolis. Their memory is altogether pleasant, and their annals have a value justly
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appraised in Woodrow Wilson's statement that—
"A spot of local history is like an inn upon a highway: it is a stage upon a far journey: it is a place the national history has passed through. There mankind has stopped and lodged by the way. Local history is thus less than national history only as the part is less than the whole. Local history is subordinate to national only in the sense in which each leaf of a book is subordinate to the volume itself."
OF THIS BOOK, SIX HUNDRED COPIES
HAVE BEEN PRINTED AT THE LAKESIDE
PRESS, R. R. DONNELLEY
& SONS COMPANY, CHICAGO
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