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The First Great Settlements
by [?]

General Rufus Putnam, a brave officer of the Revolutionary war, was the first to call the attention of the Eastern States to the rich territory opened to settlement west of the Ohio by the peace with Great Britain, and he was one of the earliest band of pioneers which landed on the shores of the Muskingum. In 1787 Rev. Manasseh Cutler of Ipswich, Massachusetts, published a description of the Ohio country, which left little to the liveliest imagination. If anything was naturally lacking for the wants of man in a land abounding in wild fruits, “herds of deer, elk, buffalo, and bear,” and flocks of “turkeys, geese, ducks, swans, teal, pheasants, partridges, etc.,… in greater plenty than the tame poultry are in any part of the old settlements of America,” and in rivers “stored with fish, especially catfish, the largest, and of a delicious flavor,” which “weighs from thirty to eighty pounds,” it could be easily supplied by art. “The advantages of every climate,” Dr. Cutler told his readers, “are here blended together,” and the rich soil, everywhere underlain with valuable minerals, and covered with timber waiting to be built into ships and floated down the rivers to the sea, would produce not only “wheat, rye, Indian corn, buckwheat, oats, barley, flax, hemp, tobacco,” but even “indigo, silk, wine, and cotton.”

It is no wonder that the Ohio Company found the New Englanders eager to come out and possess this goodly heritage, and that the first band should have started from Dr. Cutler’s own village. At dawn, on the 30th of December, 1787, they paraded before his church and parsonage, twenty-two men with their families. After listening to a short speech from him, they fired a salute, and set off, as the lettering on their leading wagon made known, “For the Ohio Country.” It was eight weeks before they reached the headwaters of the Beautiful River, and began to build boats to float down its current to the mouth of the Muskingum. In the meantime, on the 1st of January, 1788, another company left Hartford, Connecticut, and in four weeks joined the first. They could not embark on their voyage together until April 2d, but in five days they arrived at Fort Harmar, beside the Muskingum, and were at their journey’s end. They did not find the shores waving with indigo, silk, and cotton, but they saw that the soil could produce almost any crop, and the weather was so mild and lovely that they must have been confirmed in their belief of all that Dr. Cutler had told them of the climate. Captain Pipe, the Delaware chief who had brought Crawford to his death of cruel torment a few years before, was encamped for trade near the military post, and with seventy other Indians he welcomed the newcomers to the Muskingum, where they wisely built a stockade as soon as they could for defense against their red friends. They settled down at once to hew their fields out of the forest, and the very next year they had a school for their children. Bathsheba Rouse taught this first Ohio school, and Ohio women may well be proud that she taught it a whole year before a man taught the next Ohio school. The settlers called their town Adelphia, but soon changed its name to Marietta, which they made up from the name of the French queen Marie Antoinette, though Marietta was a common enough name in Italian before their invention of it.

They built mills on the streams, and in the streams, where the current turned their wheels, and after a first summer of rejoicing they quieted down to the serious business of clearing farms, having ague, and saving their scalps from the hospitable Delawares and their allies. The very year after their arrival the wonderful climate behaved so ungratefully that the corn crop was cut off by an early frost; and something like a famine followed; but still the year of the settlement was one of high hopes and sober jollity. The pioneers celebrated the Fourth of July, 1788, with a grand banquet of “venison barbecued, buffalo steaks, bear meat, wild fowl, and a little pork, as the choicest luxury of all;” and at least “one fish, a great pike, weighing one hundred pounds, and over six feet long,” which could easily be “the largest ever taken by white men in the waters of the Muskingum.” Several of the Indians, who were always ready for eating and drinking, took part in the celebration, and the settlers saw with pleasure that they did not like the sound of the cannon. They all “kept it up till after twelve o’clock at night, and then went home and slept till daylight.”