Early Day Courtship

Mrs. Martha Hart, of Angola, Related To a Representative of the Republican
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 a fireplace.
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 1899        

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)