In keeping with the optional themes in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Challenge, as soon as I read that this week’s suggestion was “Tough Woman”, I thought of my maternal 2nd great-grandmother Mary Amna MYERS. I have long been more than a little obsessed with pioneer women and have read scads of books and diaries of, and authored by, pioneer women. You can probably imagine my delight at having a copy of an oral history that was dictated by Elizabeth Jane (Jennie) HACKATHORN BROTHERS, daughter of Mary MYERS, to a third cousin of mine, Susan MORGAN ACERBI. Susan has graciously allowed me to quote from that history for this blog post.
Mary Amna MYERS was born 29 December 1831, first-born daughter to Lambert L. MYERS and Susannah CRAWFORD. Although no proof has been found to the place that she was born, it is reasonable to believe that she was born in or near what is now East Township of Carroll County, Ohio since both the MYERS and CRAWFORD families lived in this area during that time. At the time of her birth, this area would have been Columbiana County.
Mary married Jacob A. HACKATHORN on 27 October 1849 in Norristown, Carroll County, Ohio. He was the son of Christian HACKATHORN and Catherine PHILLIS, early residents to this area from Beaver County, Pennsylvania. At the time of the 1850 census, Mary was enumerated twice. First, with her husband, Jacob, and six month old first born, Susannah F., on September 18th in Tallmadge, Summit County, living nearby Jacob’s brother James, and then in the home of her parents, Lambert and Susannah, in East Township of Carroll County on September 24th. Mary’s young daughter is not enumerated with her in the home of her parents. We know that Susannah died in infancy and although the death date has not been found as of yet, it is reasonable to assume that it could have been in this time period. Mary, herself, was pregnant again at the time of the census and due to give birth in December. These two things could have been a reason for her to show up in her parents’ household at the end of September. There would be 12 children born to Mary and Jacob. Besides Susannah, a son also died in infancy, and their youngest born son, George, died at the age of two. The other children were Christian Charles, Jacob P., James L., Silas Myers, William A., Thomas John, Crawford Matthew, Elizabeth Jane, and Katherine Amanda. Although I did find an entry on the 1900 census in Medina County, Ohio listing a Mary HACKATHORN living with her daughter, Amanda of the correct ages, I really have no information about Amanda and am not sure if these are my Hackathorns. I do know that she is not present in the following photograph of those siblings.
At the time of the next census in June of 1860, we can find Mary and Jacob living in Liverpool Township of Columbiana County with their four young sons; Christian, James, Jacob, and Silas. “Jacob seemed to be a jack-of-all-trades. He farmed, mined coal, did some blacksmithing and various other work. Jacob and Mary thought with their family of growing boys they could do better in the west. So in 1866 they travelled west.” The thought was probably on their minds because of The Homestead Act of 1862 that was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862. Because of their near proximity to The National Road and the areas where we find them along their journey, it’s safe to assume that this is the route that they took in their covered wagons.
We know that Crawford Matthew was born 21 May 1868 near Batavia, Jefferson County, Iowa and that Jane was also born in Iowa 29 November 1871 so they must have moved to Kansas sometime between the end of 1871 and 1873. “In ’73 and ’74 the hot winds and the grasshoppers took all of the crops, so they decided that was enough of the West and they started back East in covered wagons. They got as far as Indiana and met an old farmer who needed help on his farm. He made them a good proposition and Jacob, with his sons James, Jacob, and Silas; the three who were large enough to work (Christian having married and stayed in Kansas) decided to work for the farmer.”
Back in Kansas, Christian had married Harriet GLENN on 16 April 1874 in Greenwood County. On the 1875 State Census of Kansas, we find Christian and his young family living in Osage County, Kansas. I don’t know if this is the area in which the Hackathorn family originally settled in Kansas, but in all probability it was.
“Their big difficulty was no house to live in. With the help of the good neighbors, they built a two room house, one room up and one room down. They cut the logs and went to work on the house and in the meantime they lived in the two covered wagons. Luckily, it was summertime. This farm was in the Wabash bottom and they burned dry toadstools to smoke the mosquitos away. On their way back East, Jane being between three and four years old, has a vivid recollection of seeing a large herd of buffalo. She said they looked like a large body of waving water. They (the buffalo) were crossing the trail and the wagons had to wait until they had passed. Jane said they could not see either end of the herd. They did not see any Indians, but were always on the lookout for them. Water was very scarce, but when they came to the Mississippi River, Jane thought that was too much water. They had to cross on a ferry boat and the noise of the engines frightened the team of mules and the boys jumped from the wagons to hold the mules and, in doing so, had to pay extra fares. They got as far as Indiana where they built the log house. The crops were doing nicely and everything was going fine, when in August they had a torrential downpour. The levee broke and that lowland was soon flooded and everything was washed away. They had no time to rescue the animals so waded to the stable and loosened them so they could take care of themselves as best they could. The family moved everything to the second floor and waited to be rescued. They were taken out in a john boat and traveled at least seven miles before they hit dry land. Then they stayed in a blacksmith shop overnight and were chased from there before daylight as the water was still rising. Jane does not remember just how they got out of the predicament, but she does remember that after the water went down, the men folks went to look for the animals. They found the team of mules, one on each side of the river. They found the horses, one was dead, but they still had one team left. This seemed like the end of everything for they had lost three crops three years in succession and they were still destined for still more bad luck.”
The Hackathorns were probably living just west of Terre Haute, Indiana at the time of this flooding of the Wabash River in August of 1875. This area is convenient to The National Road and we find them in this area for a few years. The newspapers of that time are full of reports of the flooding and I did find this article that mentions a destructive tornado that went through a county just north of this area at that same time.
“They then found a place to live near Saline City and still kept the family together. Jacob and the boys worked at whatever they could find to do until June of 1876 when Jacob, the father, contracted smallpox and died.” Historic Note: This is the same month and year of Custer’s Last Stand. “They all had smallpox except for James who was working away from home. Mother Mary and the children were vaccinated as soon as they knew the father had the disease and, of course, it was not so severe with them. There was at this time a real epidemic of smallpox in that territory and no one would go near a house that had sickness, for everyone was afraid of the dreaded disease. This made a hardship on the family for no one would give them work even after the quarantine was lifted. Jane remembers that while they were sick they lived on tea and crackers which the county sent them. One family of good neighbors by the name of ICKES gave them milk but would not go near the house. One of the boys would set a pail out in a field and the neighbors would pour milk into the pail and then raise a flag to let them know it was there. The neighbors dug the grave for father Jacob and the casket was brought to the yard and left there. The boys then carried it into the house and Mother Mary and the boys placed him in it and took him to a county cemetery they called the Skee Cemetery and buried him. The daughter of the ICKES family afterward married James HACKATHORN. Her name was Lyde.”
In the 1880 census, we find Mary and her sons, Jacob and William, living in Sugar Creek, Vigo County, Indiana, west of Terre Haute. Not so far away, is the farm of James SKEE and family. I have not found a cemetery by the name of Skee Cemetery in searches and in letters written to historical societies in Indiana. It is reasonable to assume that Jacob was buried in a family cemetery on James SKEE’s farm. I have no idea where the younger children are on the 1880 census since they were not enumerated with Mary and the two boys and I have not found them living with known family members, nor could they be found with neighbors; however, the family eventually migrates down to and meet in Bergholz in Jefferson County, Ohio where the children marry and start families. This includes Christian, who left Kansas and brought his young son along with him after his wife died in 1887. This did not include James who remained in Indiana with his wife and daughter, Lillian. Mary died in Bergholz on 30 December 1896 at the age of 65 years old and is buried in the Bergholz Cemetery. A pioneer woman in every sense.
Special thanks to Susan Acerbi who had the forethought to record this oral history of the Hackathorn journey to the west with Elizabeth Jane Hackathorn (Jennie Brothers) and for giving me permission to reproduce parts of it. Thanks, Susan!
Year: 1860; Census Place: Liverpool, Columbiana, Ohio; Roll: M653_948; Page: 161; Image: 326; Family History Library Film: 803948
Year: 1850; Census Place: Tallmadge, Summit, Ohio; Roll: M432_732; Page: 483B; Image: 439
Database online. Year: 1850; Census Place: East, Carroll, Ohio; Roll: M432_664; Page: 154B; Image: .
Year: 1880; Census Place: Sugar Creek, Vigo, Indiana; Roll: 318; Family History Film: 1254318; Page: 184A; Enumeration District: 199; Image: 0370
com, Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925, (Provo, Utah, USA)
“Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997,” index and images,FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18084-100791-52?cc=1614804 : accessed 18 January 2015), Jefferson > Marriage index and records 1896-1899 vol 14 > image 293 of 432; county courthouses, Ohio
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Conestoga_wagon_on_Oregon_Trail_-_NARA_-_286056_crop.jpgBy Conestoga_wagon_on_Oregon_Trail_-_NARA_-_286056.jpg: Department of the Interior. National Park Service. Scotts Bluffs National Monument. derivative work: Crisco 1492 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Indiana State Sentinel., August 05, 1875, Page 6, Image 6