Fayette County History & Genealogy

History of Fayette County


From R. S. Dills' History of Fayette County

THE PIONEER

The pioneers were limited in learning, but instructed in their experiences, stern in their virtues, sturdy in their independence, marked in their individuality, frank in their intercourse, hospitable in their homes, fearless in danger.

Hospitality was a leading feature of the pioneer. The sick and needy were as well cared for as they have been since. Faith, Hope and Charity were organized. Indeed, these Christian graces did exist at that early day, and were made manifest in the good deeds of the people towards one another, but the process of combination came at a later period. There was a community of social feeling, and nothing like aristocracy or assumed superiority on account of the possession of a few more acres or higher birth showed itself. Nothing of caste to mar the free intercourse of all on the common platform of equality. It can not be disguised, however, that there were persons who gained precedence on account of superior intelligence, and who were looked upon as a kind of oracle in the management of the social, moral and financial affairs of the community in which they resided.

The social intercourse among the young people was of the most pleasing nature. Though they met "on the level and parted on the square," there were some of the young men more than others cavaliers, and some of the ladies aspired to reign as belles of society, yet there was no feeling of envy or jealousy ever engendered. Modern balls and parties had not been introduced: indeed the time was all too nearly occupied, both in the field and in the house, to indulge in amusements.

There was meeting on Sunday, and the young people would always attend, either walking or going on horseback. The young man would take his sweetheart up behind him on his horse, and all parties would enjoy this mode of travel exceedingly. Young gentlemen were then called boys, and the young ladies were called girls.

The means of transportation within the reach of the pioneer were most simple and laborious. The ox-wagon, or possibly four horses, when able to have them, conveyed the effects, while the long journey from Virginia, Pennsylvania, or Kentucky, was performed on foot; sleeping by the camp-fire or the wagon at night; depending on the rifle oftimes for food; burying themselves in a dense forest; cleaving by slow and laborious degrees a little spot for a rude log cabin; surrounded by wild beasts and still wilder Indians. Emerging from his cabin with his ax on his shoulder, the sturdy woodsman might be seen. With keen eye he surveys the forest round about in search of lurking danger, then —

"Loud sounds the ax, redoubling strokes on strokes;
On all sides round the forest hurls her oaks;
Headlong, deep-echoing groan the thickets brown.
Then rustling, crackling, crashing thunder down,"


The trunks were trimmed, the brush piled, and with the help of neighbors the log-rolling took place; and night was turned into day when the surrounding forests were lit up by the leaping blaze of the huge brush heap and the piles of logs.