Tag Archives: Alexander Guard

A Mother Finds a Way

In Tales of Old Cincinnati, a book compiled by Workers of the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Ohio in 1940, there is a story about my 6th Great-Grandma Hannah Keen Guard, wife of Alexander Guard. This is her story, one of the many  adventures they experienced moving from New Jersey to Dearborn County, Indiana after the Revolutionary War. The Guard family were one of the founding pioneer families that settle the area of the Miami River.


The River Upsets A Boat

Early on a spring morning in 1793 there was much excitement in the family of Alexander Guard. The children clapped their hands and danced around. Mrs. Guard herself was more quiet, but she, too, was happy. They had lived for three years beside the Great Miami River near North Bend. Mr. Guard had just finished building a new log cabin farther down the river. Today they were moving. A clumsy, home-made boat six or seven feet wide and more than 40 feet long was drawn up on the river bank below their home. Mr. and Mrs. Guard, together with the children large enough to help, were carrying all their furniture and household goods to the boat. Mrs. Guard sometimes glanced at the Great Miami. She had a worried look in her eye. Spring rains had filled the river with swift water. She wished the big canoe were a flatboat. A big canoe, which was called a pirogue, could go quickly through the water, but it was not so safe as a flatboat. The sharp, narrow bottom of the pirogue made it easy to tip over. But there was no flatboat, nor could they carry their household goods down the river. So they had to use their canoe.

At last the boat was loaded with everything the Guard family had, and they were ready to start on their trip. Mrs. Guard and the children walked along the bank of the river. Mr. Guard got in the middle of the boat and paddled it downstream. Mrs. Guard and the children could hardly keep up with Mr. Guard. The river was even more dangerous than they had thought. They watched Mr. Guard as he struggled to keep the boat straight in the water. Soon the current carried him to a bend in the river. The water swirled fast. The long boat was thrown around and overturned. Mr. Guard and all the family goods fell into the wild water. Mrs. Guard and her children screamed, and ran toward him along the stream. They could see nothing except the pirogue whirling upside down in the muddy river. After what seemed a long time, Mr. Guard’s head bobbed up out of the water. Mr. Guard knew how to keep from being drowned. He did not struggle. He relaxed and swam until he reached his family on the shore. He stood there tired and dirty and dripping with water as they kissed him.

Mrs. Guard has a problem

Mrs. Guard and the children were glad that he was alive and safe with them. They hardly gave a thought to their furniture and clothing lost in the river. “We have one another, our new home, our land, and our farm animals, ” they said. They walked on down the river to their new cabin. As they went, Mrs. Guard looked at her husband and children and wondered what she would do. They did not have enough money to buy new furniture. Even if they had, there was no furniture store in the wilderness. But Mr. Guard could make rough beds, tables, and three-legged stools from wood. He could gouge out bowls and whittle spoons, and could even make a spinning wheel and loom. Mrs. Guard was not worried about furniture. She wondered how she would get clothes for her family. She had no cotton or wool or flax to spin. Her children could wear coonskin caps and deerskin moccasins. They might even sleep on skins, and use bear or buffalo robes for blankets. But Mr. Guard could not kill enough animals to get skins for the clothing of the whole family.

Mrs. Guard kept thinking about the problem of clothes for her family even after they had reached the new cabin. She kept worrying about it all through the days that she spent getting her house in order. She even wondered what to do about it as she planted corn, beans, pumpkins, and potatoes, and as she pulled weeds from the garden. She had a real problem to solve. The children did not know that Mrs. Guard was worried. She smiled at them as they helped in the hard work of destroying the weeds. Some plants, such as pokeweeds, were easy to pluck, but others were tough to cut and hard to pull. The toughest and hardest weeds to kill were the nettles. Their scratchy stems and prickly leaves stung the children’s hands.

All through the spring and summer Mrs. Guard pulled nettles and kept worrying about winter clothing for her children. One day she found some nettles that seemed especially tough. She stopped her work in the garden and looked at them carefully. She saw there were strong fibers in the stem. She pulled the fibers apart. Then she stood a long time trying to work out something in her mind. The next morning her children were surprised when she told them to gather the nettles and bring them to her. “I want all I can get,” she said. The boys and girls found many nettles all around. They cut the rough plants and brought them to their mother. They wondered what she would do with them, and watched her as she began to work out her idea with the plants.

She Solves it

She told them to bring fresh nettles to her.

Mrs. Guard cut away the leaves and pounded the stems until the pulp was loosened. Then she soaked the bruised stems in water. She left them in the water for several days. When she took them out, the bark and softer parts of the stems were ready to fall away. Mrs. Guard then dried and combed the stems with a wire brush until nothing was left but the strong fibers. Then she spread out the fibers on the grass to bleach. Next Mrs. Guard began spinning the fibers into thread as she would have spun flax for linen. Soon she had a good deal of thread. It was coarse and yellowish brown, but strong enough to be woven into cloth.

Mr. Guard built a loom, and Mrs. Guard began weaving. The work went slowly. She liked the cloth she wove, and asked the children to gather more nettles. They ran out eagerly, and came back with their arms full of nettles. Their mother wove more cloth. When she thought she had enough cloth, Mrs. Guard made it up into dresses and coats and trousers. When winter came, the children put on heavy clothes. And as they played in them and were warm, they were thankful that they had such a wise mother.


History of Hamilton County, Ohio – Alexander Guard

History of Hamilton County Ohio
page 407

Alexander GUARD, of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, with his family, came to North Bend in 1793, and in 1796 to this township. His family consisted of five sons Timothy, David, Ezra, Bailey and Chalen, with three daughters–Sarah, Betsy and Hannah. Many of the descendants of this pioneer family are honored citizens of the township at this time. [p.407]


History of Hamilton County Ohio

The first was an Episcopal Methodist church, the formation of a class in the log cabin of Alexander GUARD, in 1803, by an itinerant minister, whose name cannot be ascertained. In early days the camp-meeting in Scroggin’s grove, near Elizabethtown, was an occasion of great interest and spiritual profit to the multitudes that attended. In due time a meeting-house was built, and, in accordance with the Methodist economy, supplied with the ministry of the Gospel, exciting a wide spread and beneficent influence over the community. The MILLER, GUARD, HAYES, MILLS, DUNN, and SCROGGIN families were identified with this church, and many of their posterity are found walking in the ways of their godly ancestors.


History of Hamilton County, Ohio – Bailey Guard

History of Hamilton County Ohio

Bailey GUARD, son of Alexander GUARD, was born in New Jersey. His child life was spent amid the scattered cabins surrounding the block-house at North Bend, where painted Indians, uniformed soldiers, and adventurous hunters filled his young mind with horror, amazement, and delight. When fifteen years of age, having spent most of these years cultivating the truck patches, fishing and hunting, he went to mill with two bushels of corn. His conveyance was a canoe paddled with his own arms down the Miami to the Ohio, then up the great river to the mouth of Mill creek to where Cum-insville now stands, where a corn cracking mill was found. The trip, and waiting for his grist required two days of toil and exposure. His school days were few and irregular, in which he mastered Dilworth’s spelling book and learned to read his Bible. He was a man of good natural understanding and a true Christian. Under the preaching of Rev. W. Ellinger, an eminent Methodist pioneer herald of the cross, in 1809 Bailey GUARD professed religion and made a public profession by uniting with the Methodist Episcopal church at Elizabeth-town. Mr. GUARD died on the 5th of June, 1869, at the advanced age of eighty-two years, and left a good name as a precious inheritance to his numerous descendants.

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.

History of Hamilton County, Ohio

History of Hamilton County Ohio

From 1790 to 1795 the block-house and garrison at North Bend afforded protection to the adventurous pioneers seeking homes in the Northwestern territory. The land west of the Great Miami river had been ceded to the United States, but not yet conveyed. The Shawnees and Wyandots, reluctant to leave their favorite hunting grounds and the graves of their sires, still remained the occasion of danger and alarm to the squatter population at North Bend.

The Indians gradually disappeared, and in 1795 the Nimrods of North Bend, attracted by the abundance of game in the unbroken forests beyond the Miami and Whitewater rivers, built their cabins, and with their families squatted on Government land. Jeremiah Chandler, from South Carolina, a soldier of the Revolutionary army, a bold, daring man, tired of the pent-up Utica at the North Bend settlement, built the first cabin in what is now Whitewater township. Its location was near the west end of the suspension bridge. A spring of pure water and the “salt lick” a mile away, where his sure rifle could almost any day bring down a fat buck, determined the site of this first civilized habitation in the bounds of the township.

During the spring of 1795 the following families squatted south of the cabin Jeremiah Chandler had built: John Burham, James Dugan, John White, and Joseph Brown. In 1796 Alexander GUARD, Thomas MILLER, Joseph Rolf, Joseph HAYES, James Buckelow and John McNutt; in 1798 Isaac Mills, Hugh Dunn, John Phillips and Daniel Perrine. From 1796 to 1800 the following squatters built cabins on the west side of the Miami; The first was built by Stephen Goble on land afterwards bought by Ezekiel Hughes; Hugh Karr, from Ireland, built near the Cleves bridge; Joseph Grey, Joseph Raingweather, John and Andrew Hill, I. Ingersol, E. Eades, Benjamin Welch and Hugh Bucknell.

When the land was sold many of these families left, but, after the lapse of eighty-five years, descendants of John Benham, A. GUARD, Thomas MILLER, Joseph HAYES, Hugh Karr, Andrew Hill and I. Ingersol, who purchased land, are to be found, honored and useful citizens of the township.



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