The local Oakland settlement: Part 2


Beth Mitchell - Contributing columnist



Last month I began the story of the settlement of Oakland as told by Mr. John Harlan, who came from North Carolina.

Today we read the remainder of Mr. Harlan’s story. The original story was in The Wilmington Journal published August 22, 1872:

The settlers from New York and Pennsylvania had better farm tools such as they were. They also had sturdy wagons, horses, and harness. There was very little iron being used, and plows, cultivators, mowers, reapers, etc. were not known at that time.

The crops producing best were corn, wheat, potatoes, beans, and pumpkins.

Orchards, as such, were not known but grapes, crab apples, and plums were in large supply. Nathan Linton was responsible for attention to fruit culture and production of same.

The wheat had to be harvested by using sickles. The cradle had not yet gotten to the frontier. There were not mechanical threshers.

If the settlers produced more wheat than needed it was almost impossible to get it to market. Tax on the land must be addressed and the “going rate” was 50 to 75 cents per acre.

Men became builders, cabinetmakers, tanners, shoemakers, hatters, wheelwrights, and millwrights.

Robert Eachus had learned carriage and wagon making in Philadelphia. Jacob Hale made wagons, did masonry, and carried on distilling. Nathan Mendenhall was a blacksmith and James Birdsall was a hatter.

The Lintons were weavers and the Farquhars were cabinetmakers. Nathan Linton was a surveyor and William Hobson repaired guns.

Mahlon Mendenhall and Robert Eachus each had a small mill on the creek. These produced meal and flour. Milling was also done in Waynesville but the produce must be carried on horses as there were no roads for wagons.

Flax, tow linen, furs, and money were exchanged for groceries.

John McLean and Francis Dunley [Dunlevy ?] attended to any legal business in Lebanon. Dr. Joseph Canby was the nearest physician and practiced in Lebanon.

Mr. Harlan states, “In the log cabins nestled within thick woods along the creek vanity and arrogance had no abiding place. Jealousy and detraction had no existence in the mind or heart of the pioneer. It was in their new homes in the forest that the wants and comforts of civilization were truly realized.”

In the Winter of 1807-1808, school was taught by Warren Sabin and James Dakin.

The first house erected for holding religious services was at Springfield. It was built in a quiet grove on the edge of the creek.

In the fall of 1807 there was a visit from a group of Shawnees. “They spent their time hunting and fishing and though we occupied their old lands, they were friendly towards us.”

“The variety of eatables was not so great as it is now.” There were deer, turkey, wild fowl, and fish. There was an abundance of milk. Tea was made from the spice bush and the bark of the sassafras root. Sugar and molasses were made from the sugartree [sugar maple].

Salt was procured from Chillicothe or Cincinnati. It took eight to 10 days for the wagon to come from Cincinnati.

Mr. Harlan gave the following information about his own family:

There were eight brothers and three sisters of the Harlan family. Nathaniel was the first to come North and settled in Kentucky in 1803. William, Nathan, and Jonathan soon followed Nathaniel. William and Nathan remained in Kentucky until 1805 and then came to the settlement on Todd’s Fork. In 1806 Mrs. Harlan, Enoch, and the author, John, came to Ohio, spent the Winter in Highland County, and then completed the journey to Warren County. David and Solomon were the last to come and arrived in 1811. Mr. Harlan stated: “They are all gone now. There is no one left but me.”

It is wonderful articles such as this that provide family information and a look at the pioneer families who came to our area.

Do you have a pioneer in your family history? Would you like to learn more about your ancestors?

Contact the Clinton County Genealogical Society and we can help you begin or continue your journey.

Beth Mitchell is a longtime Clinton County History Center volunteer. She writes articles for its quarterly newsletter about a variety of past Clinton Countians and genealogy subjects.

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Beth Mitchell

Contributing columnist