Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

When we bought “Whip-Poor-Will Hill” f...

When we bought “Whip-Poor-Will Hill” farm in 1952 we had no intention of ever living here. The 160 acres included a fairly new, one-room dwelling, an outdoor “john” and a falling down log cabin. The water supply, a cistern near the old cabin, was about half full of ground water, but the gutters from the cabin were long gone. The cabin roof also was almost gone.

The last residents left four years before we looked at this place. They had carried water from the cistern, up a hill, to the tiny residence. The rural electric line came across the pasture, but the telephone line and the mail route were almost two miles away. The dependable gravel road ended at the neighbor’s driveway west of here, and the rest was mostly mud. Why would we consider such an acreage as this? Chub had returned from three years in the service, and we wanted some land of our own. My dad, O.D. Meyers, said, “With a lot of hard work you can make the west 80 acres produce enough to pay interest and taxes on both 80s.” Enthusiastically he added, “And I’ll help.”

Dad and Chub cleaned out old fence rows, plowed in the gullies and ditches, burned trash and cut sprouts enough to put in a corn crop. About 11 o’clock each day, the two toddlers and I came with a basket lunch, and we fell in love with the serenity, beauty and challenges that this cheap land offered. We soon related to the pioneers who first bought this land from the government. What courage they must have had!

They cut trees and dragged the logs from their own woods; they chopped a special kind of interlocking notch in the log ends to make the structure especially strong. Imagine splitting pink granite mill stones and using the four halves on the ground to support the first rows of logs. That granite was indigenous to Ohio, not to Boone County, and Duly’s Mill was south of here by a few miles.

Imagine burning limestone rocks to make a sort of chinking between the logs to keep winter’s fury out of their home. One fireplace heated the ground level and the mezzanine where sleeping bunks were warmed because heat rises. Imagine digging the deep cistern with picks and shovels and pulling rock and muck from the ground with buckets and ropes! These courageous people and their neighbors worshiped together under trees in summer and at homes when weather was bad. They dug graves and buried their dead nearby.

We plowed up the metal head of a broad ax, shaped flat on one side and convex on the other, used for trimming those logs. One early owner willed: “to my crippled daughter, for her lifetime, the female slave...”

When we first bought the place, neighbors said, “Oh, now you own that wonderful spring. In the drought years of the ’30s, farmers came every evening with barrels in their wagons and dipped water for their cows, hogs and horses, and that spring was never dipped dry!” Thirty years later, a fellow who studies the home life of American Indians in this area visited us and said, “Indians probably used that living water two or three hundred years before Europeans came.”

Is it any wonder that we felt a special kind of kinship with those pioneers -- and built our own home here three years later?

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