Early Day Courtship
Mrs. Martha Hart, of Angola, Related To a Representative of the
Incidents of Her Early Life.
I was born in Westmoreland County, Penn., Dec. 22, 1812. I hardly
know what to tell you unless it is how we commenced housekeeping when I
was a girl.
Well, in 1821 I went with my parents to Wayne County, Ohio, where we
lived until 1828, when we moved to Stark County. We did not come
to this county until after war times. My husband was in the Union
Army, and after the war, we concluded to move to Steuben County where I
have lived for 36 years; so I think it will be more interesting to tell
you of things that happened when I was a girl.
I met Christopher Hart in 1828, and he courted me until 1832. You
see in those days we did not have fine carriages and railroads and
telephones and all that sort of thing. He had to come many miles
through the woods to see me, so he only came once in two weeks.
He would come on horseback, stay all night and go home the next
day. He proposed to marry me and I agreed. I don’t know how
the young folks do now days, but I expect courting is about the same as
it used to be.
Well, after we were engaged he got a small piece of woodland and built
a house during the summer. You want to know what kind of a house
it was? Well I will tell you; it was as good as they had in those
days. He built it of logs with chinking between the logs.
We had a stick chimney in one end and a fireplace mudded up. We
had just one room with a puncheon floor, two windows with four small
panes of glass in them. Then he made two bedsteads and put shakes
across them for springs; you must remember this was in 1832. We
had no stoves then; I had never seen a stove, for we did our cooking on
I expect I could tell you about my wedding outfit: I had an
old-fashioned white dress made of cambrie, white stockings, morocco
slippers and a cap trimmed in white ribbon, for we wore caps for nice
in those days. I had a silk ribbon around my neck and a pair of
silk mitts on my hands. This was my wedding outfit.
Mr. Hart was dressed in a home made suit. I remember he had a
pair of fine calf shoes and a fur hat to be married in, and just two
days before I was twenty, on Dec. 20, 1832, he and I were
married. We went right to keeping house in the log cabin, and
this is the kind of a setting out we had, and it was good for those
days. My mother gave me three cups and three saucers, three
knives and forks and a crock of pumpkin butter with a little apple in
it. There were just a few apples then, so this was better than
most girls got. My mother also gave me a kettle to bake bread in,
and one to cook in; this was a camp kettle, which had been used by the
governor of the state through the Revolutionary War. I have the
kettle yet and when I am gone I want it preserved. Mr. Hart’s
mother gave him two crocks, two stools and two chairs. We had two pigs
and some corn meal. This is the way we began. I helped my husband
in clearing and burning brush.
I baked Johnnycake, cooked game, spun and wove, for in those days our
every day apparel was linsey and woolsey, and we wore heavy cowhide
shoes. We were young and full of hope, and no one in a palace
could have been more happy than we in our hovel. We lived
together 64 years and were always happy. Now I am old and feeble;
he is gone, but I rejoice in a well spent life and the hope of meeting
him in the bright hereafter.
Submitted by Kay Lash
Source: Steuben Republican Newspaper, 26 August
Note: Martha Hart died 21 Nov 1906 and is buried in Circle Hill
Cemetery, Angola, IN.
Source: Audree Lewis, Cemeteries of Steuben County, IN (1990)