History of Hamilton County, Ohio – Squatter Life

History of Hamilton County Ohio

Squatter life was marked with great sociability, independence, with many privations and hardships. The furniture of their log-cabin homes was made with an axe, a drawing-knife, and an auger. Nails and glass were unknown in the construction of their humble but happy homes. Their doom were hung with wooden hinges, and oiled paper answered for glass. A mush-pot and a skillet served for kitchen utensils; the knives, forks, and spoons brought from the old settlements, with cups made by hand or gathered from the gourd vines adorned their tables.

Their subsistence was secured from the rivers and the forests, and the truck patch cultivated with a hoe, producing an abundant crop of corn, potatoes, beans and pumpkins. In the spring of the year they luxuriated on wild onions fried in opossum fat and omelets made of wild turkey eggs, accompanied by delicious beverage known as spice-wood tea. The sugar-tree supplied them with sap; but for the want of kettles they manufactured but limited supplies of sugar and molasses. When ket: ties were obtained (brought to the North Bend on fiat-boats from Redstone, Old Fort, and bartered for buckskins, venison and peltries), the sugar and molasses made in the spring supplies them through the year, and the surplus was exchanged for goods at the traders’ stores at the Bend, or Fort Washington. In these squatter times when kettles had been obtained, salt, a very scarce and necessary article, was manufactured at the “lick” a mile west of where Elizabethtown now stands. The well was sixteen feet deep and the supply of salt water enabled the boilers to produce a bushel a day, which could be sold at four dollars, hot from the kettles.



When the stock brought from the old settlments was worn out, necessity compelled the hardy pioneers to depend on their wit, invention and skill in producing the clothing needed. The skins and furs of wild animals, especially the deer and raccoon, supplied the men with caps, pants, and fringed hunting shirts, and both sexes with moccasins. Cotton seed obtained from Kentucky and planted in their truck patches, afforded a valuable fiber manufactured by the use of hand-cards, spinning-wheels and the loom, furnished, with the help of flax, the material to replenish the wardrobe of these noble wives and daughters. In these early times the wild nettle, which grew luxuriantly and abundantly in the river bottoms, whose fiber was almost equal to hemp, was utilized and manufactured into a coarse linen suitable for use. The nettle, five to seven feet high, falling to the earth, would rot the stock during the winter and in the spring would be gathered and prepared for the spinning-wheel and the loom. Mrs. GUARD, the wife of Alexander GUARD, during one season manufactured two hundred yards of this nettle cloth, which answered a very good purpose in meeting the wants of her large family. At the pioneer meeting, in Hunt’s Grove in 1869, Dr. Walter Clark exhibited a well preserved specimen of this nettie cloth.

In 1799 Rev. M. Lower, an itinerant preacher, found his way to these squatter homes, and for several years visited the locality–a welcome servant of God, laboring earnestly for the moral and religious interests of the people. The first regularly appointed circuit rider who preached, and in 1806 organized a class, was Rev. W. Oglesby. The house of Alexander GUARD was the preaching place, and there the first religious society in the township was formed.


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