Starting the First Draft

I recently started my third journey through the letters and life of Horton Howard. First pass was to transcribe the 150 or so letters written by him, to him, or that mentioned him.  The second pass was to condense the material in these letters and add material from other historical sources. While working on the first and second pass, I shared anecdotes and thoughts about Horton and his family with my readers.

In this third pass, the work gets more serious as I create the first draft of Horton’s story. My task is to weave together the threads of loving and losing loved ones; walking away from wealth for the sake of integrity; ¬†exploring opportunities to recreate wealth; and the developing economy and politics of a young nation.

I’ll continue to share bits and pieces as I work, and hope that you will subscribe to my blog and post questions or comments as the story develops.

A Matter of Priorities

Now that I’ve taken a second pass through all the letters and research I’ve accumulated, I notice something interesting about the priorities held by those who settled that part of the Northwest Territory that became Ohio.

I’ve mentioned before that Horton Howard led a group of Quakers (or Friends, as members of the Society of Friends called each other) to the Northwest territory in early 1800. The first task was to build shelter – rough hewn lumber chinked with mud, and newspaper pasted together and greased with hog lard for windows.

Small monthly meeting houses were built in Concord, Stillwater, Short Creek, and other places in 1801 through 1807, but the first Yearly Meeting house west of the Allegheny was not built until 1814 in Mt Pleasant.

While the spiritual needs were being met gradually, other, more temporal concerns were being addressed. In 1802 the first distillery in the area was built. In that year Horton was investigating the possibility of a salt refinery, and in 1803 the first grist mill, to grind flour, was built.