A Full House

In 1804, Hannah Hastings of Wilmington, Delaware, visited the Howard’s community and struck up a friendship and correspondence with Horton.  Hannah’s letters were filled with admiration for Horton. I have wondered whether this admiration and friendship naturally blossomed into something warmer, or whether 30 year old Hannah suspected that Horton would soon be widowed again.

In September, 1804, Horton’s second wife, Mary Dew, died of “internal damage,” leaving Horton with his 12 year old son, Henry by his first wife, and with three children that he and Mary shared. Joseph was 6 years old, Rachel was 2, and Horton Jefferson Howard was 6 months.

When Horton’s obligatory one year mourning period ended, Hannah was caring for a  dying mother, and then helping to settle her estate, all while writing to Horton about their plans to marry. With the pressure of changing season and difficulty in travel, Horton convinced Hannah that waiting had disadvantages, and they were married on December 5, 1806. Hannah was 32 and Horton was 36. Over the course of the following 10 years, they added 6 more children to their family.

Moving Westward

Horton and his family were among the first to leave Carteret County, travelling to Fredericktown, Washington County, PA. Many others, including Horton’s father-in-law, Joseph Dew, Levina Hall, Jonas Small and sailed from Beaufort NC to Alexandria VA. From there, they travelled by wagon to Fredericktown, PA where they found Horton Howard and his family breaking their travels as their children recovered from whooping cough. Among the Friends leaving North Carolina, was Abigail Stanton, a widow with several young children. Once they received word that the land office in Steubenville was open, they continued their journey, settling on land near the Ohio River.

Shelters were hurriedly built – little more than squatter’s cabins made with log walls and roofs, chinked with mud, which shrank as it dried, allowing light and wind through the cracks.  Crude doors were made and partial floors were laid. Cooking was done outside until a chimney and fireplace was added. With these practicalities addressed, they could turn to improving their houses. Windows were added by cutting holes in the wall, and covered by pasting layers of newspaper, greased with hogs’ lard. These windows allowed a warm mellow light to shine through on sunny days. Rough hewn floors were laid, and additional chinking of cracks made the cabins cozier. Lofts, reached by ladder, were built to create sleeping areas.

This cabin, in Mt Pleasant, Ohio shows an early log cabin. Windows were added later to create a store front and an addition for living space had clapboard siding. This view gives an idea of the early settler’s homes.

Log cabin - Mt Pleasant

An early Mode of Travel

1799- late summer or early fall

Horton Howard, his father-in-law Joseph Dew, and widowed brother-in-law, Aaron Brown travelled from Carteret and Jones Counties, North Carolina to explore the Northwest Territory just across the Ohio River. Horton wrote home to his wife, Mary, with a progress report from Winchester, VA:

    “Dear and Loving Wife … we are all in Tolerable Health at present and have been mostly so since we came from home … and I hope if best these will find you all in health. We are now at Winchester in Virginia having crossed the Blue Ridge of Mountains and are between it and the Allegheny Mountain about Four Hundred and Fifty Miles from Home and One Hundred and thirty six from Redstone. We have been favoured to get along so far with less Difficulty and fatigue than we expected, but we have travailed slower and found after getting in the Hilly Land that our Chair would not answer so we left it at the House of our Friend Clark Moorman at Cedar Creek in Virginia 326 miles from Home, where I purchased for 100 Dollars a pleasant going Mair and now we all go comfortably on Horseback”

I was puzzled by the reference to the chair, until I found pictures from the Carriage Association of America (credit to http://theslowerroad.com/2012/01/14/our-free-afternoon/)

I can fully understand why this was not a comfortable mode of travel over hills and rough terrain