(a letter by Jacob A Hinshaw to Mrs. Lynch)
Lynn, Ind., May 15, 1896
Mrs. A. S. Lynch, Decatur, Ind.:--As per agreement I will write "just a little."
I was born in Randolph County, North Carolina, September 27th, 1826. My father having died about five or six years after my birth, mother, with nine of us, seven boys and two girls, I the youngest, moved to Randolph County, Ind., in the spring of 1831, and I live now on the land she entered from the government, (I having since bought it of her) and built a log house on it. In the fall her and I, with a man to show the land to us, came to hunt a place for the house, the woods was so thick we could not ride on horse-back, but had to hitch and walk it was so very heavy timber and thick of underbrush, and now at this time there is not a sick of timber on I, only as I have grown them since 1850. Oh but we had fun cutting the lareg trees and digging the small ones up by the roots, called grubbing. I have picked and burned brush many nights till 10 o'clock and thought it good sport, etc. Well, after a while I began to think I was a man; got married in 1845, and being pretty well off in the world (having a yearling colt and $6.50 in money, all my wealth) when married, so concluded to get good property to start with, viz.: my first bedstead,had but one post, and needed no more, as the house was made of round logs and I had only to bore holes in the logs in one corner of the house, which met in one post from the corner; then small poles were put in the holes in the logs and laid on the side rails to use for cord or slats, as is now used, but we split first-rate after a hard day's work in the woods. The floor of the house was split instead of sawed lumber; it was called a puncheon floor; the roof was slit or rove clapboards, and the roof was the ceiling or loft floor; and in the winter I have walked from the bed to the fire place of a morning ankle deep in snow. Boys, how would you like to get up out of bed in snow ankle deep to build fires now, eh? Was but one door hung, and to open outside, and a big crack between two logs for a window. I found a muskrat under our bed one day helping himself to a water melon. I got the gun and shot him while he was stealing my melon; so look out, boys, when you think of stealing melons, and think of the fate of the muskrat. Our diet was all kinds of bread that could be made of corn, from mush to ask cake, etc. Our meat was wild game and none a general rule. Well, you will see by my writing, spelling and grammar that I had some schooling. To illustrate and give some idea of it, I will say the school house was a log house, puncheon floor, puncheon benches, stick and clay chimney in one of the house big enough for log fires; house in the woods, not fenced in! hogs could get under the floor. An incident, one day when cold, the hogs got under the floor as near the fire as they could, and in their scuffle to keep warm, the tail of one hog suck up through a crack in the floor; a mischievous boy, rich enough to carry a jack-knife, slipped his knife out and taking hold of the hog's tail with one hand, knife in the other hand, cut the tail off and threw it on the live coals, where it curled about as if yet alive, which mad a little girl (who is now my sister-in-law; she is now older) laugh out loud, which caused the teacher to investigate, with switch in hand. I will not now say the boy ever cut another pig's tail off in time off in time of school to cook for his dinner. So you see how schools were then. I could fill a book with similar incidents of school and farm life in early times, &c. One incident of church life in early times: Mother was a Quakeress and consequently we all had birthrights in that society, and as their meetings are very different now and then, I will say we never had music of any kind in church, and occasionally reaching; we went to meeting twice each week, to sit still and quiet and think. The older ones in secret worship if so disposed, and some to sleep and nod, and us boys to think in some cases of mischief. The house of logs and the south doorstep was about two feet to the floor from the ground, and the door shut from the outside of the house, and there was a young man, a tall, gangling fellow, always sitting in the summer, on the end of a bench at the door, with his head in his hands, elbows on his knees, facing the door to get the cool air; and to show you how evil the writer was, I one day saw him begin to nod, and a wish or prayer instantly went through my evil brain that his elbows might slip off his knees, and the next instant my wish was fully answered and he went head foremost to the ground with his bare 10-inch feet and legs to his knees sticking up at about 45 degrees inside. He could not get up until he crawled out on all fours, which he did, and then returned to himself, but not sleep any more that meeting. The old friends did not tell me to laugh. I did so without any telling; so did some others. Well, that was at old Quaker Lynn, many years ago. Not many living now that were there that day, and that young man has since got old and died a good Christian, and I have no doubt is now happy. He has some children and grandchildren here yet; and now have a new Quaker Lynn that no one could well go to sleep in time of worship, as it is lively with song and prayer. As there is now six recorded ministers that belongs to that class and they know how to sing praises as well as preach, and it is probably one of the best and most lively class in the county at present. Quite a change since my boyhood days. (I am an old boy, now). But one more incident of the old Quaker Lynn; (pardon me for telling such) it was in the first frame house; it had a raised gallery of three benches, then raised floor back to the door, where the raise of each part began, were two benches, where people sat facing each other; the old friends sat there and sometimes twirled their thumbs until nodding. One time I sat watching two old brothers with their hats off until the got to nodding with their heads very close to each other, and as in the other case, my evil thought said how I desired to see their heads come together, as I had seen sleeers do, and I did not have to wait over one minute until the bald spots hit each other. They waked without any one shaking them, and as I did before, laughed without any telling. Enough, I am old now, and do not make such prayers as I did then, but still attend Quaker Lynn meeting, not as it used to be, but as it is now; and I humbly ask all that reads this, if passing this way in Quaker meeting time, to spend one hour at meeting, and I assure you sleeping, &c., will not be seen now, but you will have to say, surely the Lord has done great things for Quaker Lynn; and if religiously inclined you will say it is good to be there. You will not be treated to any such freaks as I have stated happened at old Quaker Lynn, for this is now one of the best meetings for life in reach of Lynn, and but very few of us that were young sixty years ago will be seen there now. I am trying to live right, &c. As I think my note is lone enough I will let some one else tell of the fun and games of brogue, &c., we had at log rollings, raisings, &c. I had the honor of killing the last wild deer that passed through our township. That has been many years ago.
You will have to curtail and add to make this grammatically fit to read, &c., as I know nothing of grammar, &c.
Respectfully, Jacob A. Hinshaw
Reminiscences of Adams, Jay and Randolph Counties, Fort Wayne, Lipes, Nelson & Singmaster, 1897.
Transcribed by Andrea Long
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