Migration Westward

Excerpt from "The Wilderness Road"
The advanced guard headed by Captain James Trimble reached the river and found it greatly swollen by recent rains.  Realizing it was impossible to cross at the usual ford, Captain Trimble took his men to a big bend above the ford to cross.  Because he believed that Col. Knox would be in advance party of the women, Trimble did not leave a guide at the main ford.  When Mrs. Trimble arrived, on her horse with little William at her back and baby Allen in her arms, she saw some of the guards on the other side.  She supposed they had crossed at that place and immediately plunged into the river.  Captain Trimble, sensing danger, shouted to them not to attempt it but his voice was drowned by the rushing waters.

The horses of the two women were soon swimming in the current and Mrs. Erwin's horse was sashed against a ledge of rocks.  With great difficulty, the animal struggled to get a footing and managed to clamber back to the bank.  A huge wallet thrown across her horse in which two Negro children were carried was washed off into the current.  A man coming up at the time plunged into the stream and managed to save the children and the bags.

Mrs. Trimble's horse continued to struggle against the current with his head turned toward the opposite shore.  Firmly grasping the bridle and mane with her right hand, clinging to her baby with the left and calling to William behind her to hold fast, she urged her swimming horse forward and at least managed to reach the opposite bank.  Frightened and anxious, the men lifted her and her children from the exhausted horse.  She sank to the ground, uttering a broken prayer, completely spent. 

Knowing the ford well, Col. Knox supervised the party one by one without further incident and gave orders for the company to fix tents for an overnight stay.  Sentinels posted, the tired and exhausted women slept unmolested through the night.

Next morning, dawn with rain was threatening.  Eight horsemen rode past in a hurry to be on their way.  Knox warned them that Indians might kill them and that they should attach themselves to his party but the men clattered off and were soon out of sight.

Before the company had proceeded many miles, they came upon the mangled remains of the eight horsemen who had passed their camp at the river.  The bodies had been stripped, tomahawked and scalped by Indians and torn and eaten by wolves.  Knox paused to bury the remains, and fearful of an ambush ahead, decided to camp for the night.  The travelers' sleep was disturbed during the night by the excessive howling of wolves.  Since Indians were known to be in the neighborhood, it was believed that much of the terrifying noise was made by the savages.  But there was no attack, and the company marched on the next day.

From George W. Ranck, The Travelling Church (1910); MS of Dr.Thomas D. Clark, Lexington, Ky.

Mud was the worst!

In his fascinating book "Snow Hill Remembered" Richard E Stevens (Heritage Press) quotes Ripley Ohio: Its History and Families:

"Grandmother Maddox was a pioneer woman born in Maryland in 1797.  Coming to Adams County Ohio as a little girl, she remembers there was a pike out of Baltimore for twenty miles, then 400 rough miles of wilderness to Pittsburgh which she never forgot.  The roads across the mountains were so bad, she said, her father and other men walked along the mountainside pulling on ropes tied to the wagons to prevent them from upsetting. The everlasting mud made a lasting impression on her youthful mind, as she had walked most of the way. She said Allegheny Mountain mud was known to every settler because there was so much of it, especially in the grassy glades, where it was kept churned into a batter by the numerous wagons."