And Now We Hunt the Doe

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And now We roam in Sovreign Woods –
And now We hunt the Doe
Emily Dickinson

 

White-tailed Deer

White-tail Deer [1]

In my last post, Forest Primeval, I wrote that Native Americans would set fires in the forests of the Firelands. Today, we’ll find out why they did this.

Indians in canoes

Indians in Canoes [2]

Native Americans did not live permanently in the Firelands at the time the first pioneers arrived. Instead, Canadian tribes would cross the lake in autumn to hunt. To make it easier for them to spot game from a distance, they would start fires and burn off the underbrush that had grown up over the summer.

Why did they want to see prey from a distance? Can’t the animals see the hunter too, and run away? They can, but although we humans are not as fast as our prey, we can travel farther. In a technique that goes back to a form of hunting first practiced by our earliest ancestors on the plains of Africa, we can use our stamina to advantage, running or walking long distances to exhaust prey. Called “persistence hunting,” this strategy involves hunters keeping an animal, or herd of animals, in sight, pushing them along until they can go no farther. The hunters then can approach and kill their prey at close range. [3]

Settlers picked up this technique from Native Americans. According to pioneer John Niles “It was a maxim among deer hunters, that if a man could follow a deer at the rate of forty miles per day, the deer would tire out before night and lay down.” [4]

Forty miles a day seems a fast rate to maintain all day, but “a day” most likely meant from dawn to dusk. While hiking here in Colorado, I have on occasion kept up that rate for nine hours in fairly rugged terrain, so I can imagine maintaining that pace even longer on the flat-lands of northern Ohio.

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As settlers arrived and pushed the Native Americans out of their traditional winter hunting grounds, these annual fires did not occur, and the forest soon became choked with underbrush, much as we see it today. [5]

 

Footnotes:

[1] “Whitetail doe,” Wikimedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 29 June 2008. Web. 2 May, 2018, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Whitetail_doe.jpg

[2] Rusler, William, A Standard History of Allen County, Volume I; The American Historical Society, Chicago, IL and New York, NY; 1921; page 12.

[3] “Persitence hunting,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 28 March, 2018. Web. 3 May, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persistence_hunting

[4] John H. Niles, “Memoirs of Richmond,” The Firelands Pioneer, Old Series, Volume V; The Firelands Historical Society, June 1864; pp. 68-69.

[5] Marcus E. Mead, “Memoirs of Greenwich,” The Firelands Pioneer, Old Series, Volume V; The Firelands Historical Society, June 1864; p. 75.

 

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Sufferers’ Land – Post 26 – To Canada and Back Again

Sufferers’ Land

To Canada and Back Again

by Dave Barton

Lucy and her family were overjoyed to see their relatives after a long separation. The trip from New Hampshire had been long and arduous, but they had finally arrived in the Firelands. Time would tell how they would adapt to life on the frontier.

They did not adapt well at all.

Walk in the Water

The Walk-in-the-Water Steamship. Illustration by Samuel Ward Stanton, American Steam Vessels, (1895), 24.

Samuel Preston became homesick for the east, and by spring of 1820, he had had enough. Once again, Lucy had to leave familiar people, in this case her grandparents, aunt and uncle. She and her brother followed their parents north to Sandusky where they boarded the Walk-in-the-Water, the first steamboat on Lake Erie, bound for Buffalo. The trip to Buffalo was uneventful. Upon arriving, they crossed into Canada and went to Waterloo, Ontario.

Lucy’s parents enrolled her in the local school. The other children made fun of her, calling her a Yankee. She became so upset that she refused to go to school. Instead, she and Charles spent the summer playing in an old fort, where they found cannon balls and other military things, and picking raspberries.

Lucy’s father found work as a carpenter, but he was no happier to be in Canada than she was. In the fall, he and Esther packed the family’s belongings and returned with Lucy and Charles to Black Rock, where they again boarded the Walk-in-the-Water and sailed to Sandusky.

After staying in Sandusky a few weeks, they returned to Uncle Benjamin’s farm and stayed through the winter. The quarters were tight, with three families crammed together in a little cabin. Lucy and the other children slept in a loft accessible by a ladder. One night, a big storm came up and tore the shingles off the roof and the rain poured in. The children were soaked, not to mention being scared half to death by the violence of the storm.

That winter, to give their families more room, Lucy’s father and her Uncle Benjamin built a new cabin. Come spring, Uncle Benjamin’s family moved into this new house, leaving the old one to the Prestons and Grandma and Grandsire Taylor.

The summer of 1821, Lucy’s father secured work as a carpenter in Norwalk. He lived in a boarding house in the village during the week, coming home on Saturday night to spend the remainder of the weekend with his family.

Lucy was seven now, and started school in an old log house near the Norwalk and Ridgefield township line, the same school Jonas and Eliza Ann Benedict had attended when they first arrived in Norwalk. Her teachers at this school were Tamia Palmer and Ann Boalt, daughter of John and Ruth Boalt. Mary Ann Morse was still a student there, and she and Lucy became friends. Lucy often rode home with her, riding behind her on her horse.

In the fall of 1821, Lucy’s father moved the family into Norwalk. They lived in a house at 11 West Main Street, and later moved a short distance down Main Street to Number 50. Finally, life appeared to have returned to normal. However, this would not last. In a few short years, Lucy would be shocked into adulthood by a series of terrible tragedies. [1]

 

 

Footnotes:
[1] The Story of the Preston family’s journey to the Firelands and first years living there are from the “Memoir of Mrs. Lucy Preston Wickham,” The Firelands Pioneer, New Series, Volume XXI; The Firelands Historical Society; January 1920; pp. 2394-2399.

 

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This post was first published on this blog in 2009.

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“Sufferers’ Land” Post #26 – To Canada and Back Again

They did not adapt well at all.

Samuel Preston became homesick for the east, and by spring of 1820, he had had enough. Once again, Lucy had to leave familiar people, in this case her grandparents, aunt and uncle. She and her brother followed their parents north to Sandusky where they boarded the Walk-in-the-Water, the first steamboat on Lake Erie, bound for Buffalo. The trip to Buffalo was uneventful. Upon arriving, they crossed into Canada and went to Waterloo, Ontario.

Lucy’s parents enrolled her in the local school. The other children made fun of her, calling her a Yankee. She became so upset that she refused to go to school. Instead, she and Charles spent the summer playing in an old fort, where they found cannon balls and other military things, and picking raspberries.

Lucy’s father found work as a carpenter, but he was no happier to be in Canada than she was. In the fall, he and Esther packed the family’s belongings and returned with Lucy and Charles to Black Rock, where they again boarded the Walk-in-the-Water and sailed to Sandusky.

After staying in Sandusky a few weeks, they returned to Uncle Benjamin’s farm and stayed through the winter. The quarters were tight, with three families crammed together in a little cabin. Lucy and the other children slept in a loft accessible by a ladder. One night, a big storm came up and tore the shingles off the roof and the rain poured in. The children were soaked, not to mention being scared half to death by the violence of the storm.

That winter, to give their families more room, Lucy’s father and her Uncle Benjamin built a new cabin. Come spring, Uncle Benjamin’s family moved into this new house, leaving the old one to the Prestons and Grandma and Grandsire Taylor.

The summer of 1821, Lucy’s father secured work as a carpenter in Norwalk. He lived in a boarding house in the village during the week, coming home on Saturday night to spend the remainder of the weekend with his family.

Lucy was seven now, and started school in an old log house near the Norwalk and Ridgefield township line, the same school Jonas and Eliza Ann Benedict had attended when they first arrived in Norwalk. Her teachers at this school were Tamia Palmer and Ann Boalt, daughter of John and Ruth Boalt. Mary Ann Morse was still a student there, and she and Lucy became friends. Lucy often rode home with her, riding behind her on her horse.

In the fall of 1821, Lucy’s father moved the family into Norwalk. They lived in a house at 11 West Main Street, and later moved a short distance down Main Street to Number 50. Finally, life appeared to have returned to normal. However, this would not last. In a few short years, Lucy would be shocked into adulthood by a series of terrible tragedies. [1]

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Footnotes:
[1] The Story of the Preston family’s journey to the Firelands and first years living there are from the “Memoir of Mrs. Lucy Preston Wickham,” The Firelands Pioneer, January 1920, pp. 2394-2399.

© 2009 by David W. Barton. All rights reserved

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