Life of LORANCIE SCHELLHOUS
Written by him in March, 1873
Harrison Edward Schellhous (1885-1969), grandson of Lorancie's younger brother Cyrus, transcribed the original manuscript. In a correspondence (circa 1963-1965) to the Niendorf family, Harrison Edward Schellhous describes a 24 page manuscript that he received in 1962 from Ellis L. Schellhous, a grandson of Lorancie. The description read... "in long-hand, old, brittle, hard to decipher, with run-on sentences and no capitals...". Harrison then transcribed the manuscript onto type-written pages, double-spaced, and subsequently sent copies to numerous descendants. - Thanks to Dana Niendorf, a direct descendant of Lorancie SCHELLHOUS, for providing this history of the original manuscript transcription.
|By request of my children I will try to give a short
history sketch of my life. I was born in the state of Vermont
and county of Addison, township of Ferrisburgh in A.D. 1793 May
the tenth. My father, Martin Schellhous settled in that township
soon after the Revolutionary War with Great Britain. He made
large improvements before my remembrance, was by trade a tanner and
curer. The first of my remembrance to labor was grinding bark
with an old fashioned cog wheel, when rolling around and around
with a horse which I had to perform the task of following around
with a rake, to keep the bark under the wheel.
As I grew older
I was put to harder work. Sometimes on the farm and in the tanyard,
and was brought up to hard labor. My chance for education was
quite limited. Our folks often called me an unlucky boy. I had
broken one of my legs, a few years after was driving some sheep
from the orchard, fell on a sharp stone which cut the flesh from
the bone, which laid me up for a long time. The Doctor at one
time thought I should have to have it taken off, and it caused
me to be lame for a long time. This was just before the war with Great Britain in A.D. 1812.
I was at that
time nearly eighteen years old. A draft was to
take place to raise an army. I was examined by a surgeon of the
regiment, and he gave me a certificate pronouncing me not a fit
subject for military service, which cleared me from the war.
Just before the trouble with Britain my father had bought a tract of land in addition to his farm which involved him in debt, he was dependent on Canada market to sell his leather but the imbargo between the U.S. and England stopped all trade. Father was obliged to sell at quite a
Here I must tell a little circumstance which happened before we got to Buffalo. Those of the children that could walk some times went on foot ahead of the others, which I was driving and was close behind. The forward team came to a large mud hole, undertook to shun it, run the wheels on a sidling rock which turned the wagon over in the mud hole, had to pull the little ones out of the puckering string, then there was trouble in good earnest, had to unload, right up the wagon, load up the best we could, started on again. But to Buffalo. There we had the Privilege of seeing Commodore Perry and most of the British Prisoners, was bound about a week, had to leave a part of our goods on the account of bad roads and heavy loads. Father still kept failing yet we keep moving, gained a little every day. Got to Euclid, had a chance to trade one of our horses for a yoke of oxen, then got to Cleveland. There we met our Uncle Stephen Cable, and he helped us to our journey's end. Arrived in Bridgeville (Ridgeville) the 17, day of November and on the 27th day our father died. After attending the funeral services obtained a small log house which answered for a shelter for the family. Then returned to eighteen mile Creek for the goods which we left there. Got back in about two weeks. Now the next thing was to prepare for winter. Provisions were scarce and hard to be got. Got some corn by paying one dollar per bushel, had to husk it ourselves, then take it to mill on horse back about 8 or 10 miles through woods and swamp, which would take two days. Could get but little wheat flour. My uncle was a good hunter and taught me to hunt deer, raccoon, turkey and honey bees, which was plenty. There were also plenty of excellent fish in the river at the mouth of the rivers in the spring. By that means the family were supplied with food.
The next thing was to find a piece of land for a house. Could not get any that was suitable so we stayed in Ridgeville until the next winter. Brother Martin was left behind in Vermont to Settle up the business. He had not yet come to Ohio, yet did not expect him under a year and a half or two years. Mother got quite uneasy about a place for a home. We had heard that there was a good chance to buy land in the Township of Florence about eighteen miles west, farms that some people had left in time of war. Then I got Mr. Cable, my uncle to go with me to see what we could see. We took our rifles and started one morning through the wilderness, with no signs of the Black river and the Vermilion, got through to the settlement that night, found the agent of the land, got a description of a lot, got the papers the next morning. Mother was much pleased with the description. There was on it about ten acres of improvements. It was then about the middle of December, the next winter after we arrived in Ridgeville. At that time the snow was about eight or ten inches deep. We had kept the ox team. Then we had concluded to try the woods, to go around by the way of the lake road. It would be about fifty miles, so I hired a man with his ox team to take a load of our goods, got two young men to go with us to cut a road. We finally got ready, started one morning, got to one branch of the Black river where the city of Elyria now stands, then all wilderness, got across both branches in safety, took a bee line west, got about half way the first day, camped out and the next morning started on again. We got through the same afternoon in time to unload and make preparation for the night. Mother was well pleased with the situation, and felt at home once more. Then I took a job of clearing a piece of land which supplied in part for that winter's provisions.
Brother Martin returned or came to Ohio, stopped in Ridgeville. He married a wife in Vermont after we left that state, and finally he came to Florence to see how the family got along, paid for the land that I had agreed for. He finally concluded to settle in Florence. By that time I concluded to try to do something for myself. I had heard that a man by the name of Parks on the Huron River wanted to hire a hand to work in a tan yard. I went to see him, hired out to him for twenty five dollars per month. After working two or three month's he offered to sell the yard and forty acres of land to me and a man that worked for said Parks, if we would tan 400 hides which he had on hand. The yard was well stocked with tools, a bood bark mill, quite a lot of bark on hand. The man's name was Barker, I finally agreed to go in partnership with him. I was to have one half of the premises. We had quite a large quantity of the hides worked into the bark. I had been some time from home, took a notion to visit a few days in Florence and Ridgeville so I left expecting to return in a few days. I had formed an acquaintance with my first wife when I was in Ridgeville. A young man asked me to take a ride to the P.O. at Dover on the lake shore. I got a horse to take of my Brother Martin, started, got about one and a half miles stopped for a few minutes, then I went to get on my horse as I put my foot in the stirrup, gave a spring to get on, the horse wheeled right towards me (not being on my guard as I ought to have been) and ptiched me over the horses' back. I struck on my shoulder, broke my arm above the elbow. I was then in a bad fix. My partner left alone with a double task to perform. I was laid up two or three months. What to do it was hard to tell, as soon as I was able went back to see how my partner got along I found myself so far behind with no means to help. I told him I should be obliged to give up not being able to use my arm. I could not work. Finally we came to a settlement. He turned me out a horse called about $70 and about $60 dollars worth of leather. I sold the horse for shock fed pork, took the leather and pork, went back to Florence where mother lived, went to work and built a small log shop for a shoe shop. I had some experience in shoe making, and went to work that winter. That winter made up my leather for provisions for the family.
That was the end of my first years labor for myself. Martin had lost his wife while in Ridgeville, had moved his goods to Florence, and he told me I had better go to work at tanning. He would let me have sixteen acres of his land where my shop stood, and start a tannery, as there was plenty of hides in the country. After thinking the matter over I made up my mind to do so, accordingly went to work. Martin had brought some tools with him for that purpose from Vermont. He said he would help me start. This I think was in the month of March 1816. Lumber was scarce so I took some large white wood logs, dug them out for vats, then made me a bark wheel ful of cogs, got all ready for work. The inhabitants found out what I was doing, brought in all I could ask for, and when the bark would peel I went to Peeling bark, got quite a quantity on hand. The next thing was a housekeeper, then went to Ridgeville, and married my wife, brought her home (if you could call that home) on horse back with all the goods she possessed, we were quite destitute.
The road I had cut through the woods, by this time was quite a traveled road. Martin seeing our situation told me he would lend us bed and bedding until I could furnish myself, also some dishes, so we went to keeping house on that scale. I continued my tanning business through the season. My wife got dissatisfied living away from her friends, which made me somewhat discouraged, provisions scarce, leather not tanned enought to finish off. I finally got quite discouraged, told Martin I should have to go at something that would realize sooner that the business that I was then in. Finally he told me that he would give me (if I was determined to quit) a yoke of steers and a cart, the hind wheels of a wagon and the bed and bedding and what other articles I had borrowed worth in thos days, about $125 or $130. Then it was quite late in the season and I had not any preparation for winter. Concluded to accept the offer. I went and fixed a box on my cart, packed our duds on the same, hitched my cattle on, got my wife on top of said treasures, and started back to Ridgeville to my wife's father. Left her there that winter then I went to Medina County to one of our old Vermont neighbors', by the name of Rufus Ferris who was employed to make improvements at the county seat. of that county. Took a job of chopping not much used to chopping, but soon it came handy. I chopped or winrowed twelve acres or about that, bought me a cow and some iron ware and several articles for house-keeping. Returned to where my wife was, much pleased with my winter's work.
Then in the month of April I had an addition to my family. My daughter Martha was born, after I had returned from my winter's work. I and my brother-in-law took a job of chopping one acre of heavy timber where the city of Elyrea stands, had to cut all the stumps level with the ground. I got half a bl. of pork, got some other necessaries, then prepared to go somewhere to find a place to make a home. So I gathered up my whole treasures consisting of my wife, one child, one cow, and one cow yoke of oxen and my cart, started west to the town of Black River was called afterwards Amherst. Contracted a piece of land, got the privilege of staying in a house with a family by the name of Webster until I could build a house. Then I went to work, cut logs, cleared a spot large enough to set my house all alone. We had a good spring of water close by. After working making what improvements I could alone, the next winter I was taken with the rheumatism so bad I could hardly help myself, knees were swelled as large again as usual which continued all winter, in the spring I told my wife I was going to the mouth of Balck (Black) River a fishing. She told me I had better stay at home. I could not fish if I were there. I made up my mind to try it at any rate. All the way I could walk was to place my hands on my legs above me knees and in that situation hobble along. In that situation I got my oxen hitched to my cart, took my lunch and started for the mouth of the river, got there in season to prepare for fishing. I found quite a number of fisherman on the ground; and they seeing my helpless condition, assisted me with torch bark, when it was dark enough we lit up our bark torches. I hobbled into the river or water, spear in one hand, torch in the other, waded around, did not venture into very deep water. The water seemed cold at first. I caught two or three pike, fish came out of the river where we had a nice fire, stood around it, got warm then in the river again, continued all night. I had caught quite a lot of fish that night. In the morning found to my great joy that the swelling of my knees was almost gone. I could stand up quite straight, then loaded up, went home rejoicing. My wife was as much surprised as myself. My health grew better, and I was soon able to work again. I had a great liking for hunting deer. They were plenty so in the first of Oct. I commenced hunting, hunted until the first of January had killed seventy two deer, sold most of the hides. I dressed some having learned the art of indian smoke dress. After dressing some good skins I cut and made me some leather overalls, which answered a good purpose for me. In those days of hard time.
I have not space or patience to tell all the trials we had to pass through; but I must tell a story about snakes on that place was often found rattlesnakes about us. One morning our daughter Martha, about one year and a half old was playing by the side of the house; as I passed by where she sat, I discovered a large yellow rattlesnake not more than three or four feet from her lay couled in a ring I tell you I sprang for the child more scared than hurt. The snake did not live long, I assure you. The neighbors and myself had discovered where they had a den on the banks of a creek nearly half a mile off, so we agreed to visit the place daily by taking turns, one at a time. So the next spring when it became warm they would crawl from the den and lay in the sun to warm themselves. So we commenced our warfare, took our regular turns after the first meeting, only four of five of us agreed to cut a notch on a sapling for every snake we killed. So we continued as long as we could find a snake, came to count up the notches, found it to be sixty odd. Now to tell all the trials we had it would take too long.
I had made quite a good improvement. There was a Railroad layed out through the center of my place, by this time I was to make a payment on the place, money was scarce but kept at work. Several families had moved into the neighborhood with the rest Jesse Webster and family, (this is now my wife). About this time I had another addition to my family. Leonard Schellhous was born. My wife was telling not long since, that she was the one that put on him the first shirt he ever wore. Finally to cut the story short there was an old Quaker came along, offered to buy my place. I thought to better myself, and sold out to him. Then my brother Martin in Florence offered me fifty acres of land joining his with a log house on it and a small clearing. I bought it and had money enough to pay for it. Then once more packed up, and moved back to Florence; then I concluded I had a home of my own. I went to work in earnest. In the meanwhile the road was altered that ran by my house, which left me some ways from the road. After a while I built another quite good log house. Made quite a good many improvements. Built a frame barn, was doing as well as I could. About that time my wife was taken sick with consumption, was not able to do but little, began to feel dissatisfied with living away from all her friends, was anxious to once more return back to Elyria, So I had a chance to sell if I would take my pay in stock. I told him if I could turn the stock to pay for another place, I would trade. Money was scarce, hard to get then. I went to see what I could do. Herman Ely was the owner of the township Elyria, and I soon found a piece of land that suited me. He agreed to take the stock if I would pay it in oxen, one yoke a year. I then sold out on those conditions. Closed both bargains then had to begin on a new farm again, in the woods.
Continue to Part 2
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The content of these pages is courtesy of Cheryl Thrams, a direct
descendant of Lorancie SCHELLHOUS and Joe Ganger, President of the Colon Community Historical Society.
The above picture of Mr. Lorancie SCHELLHOUS was taken in 1867 by his son, L. W. SCHELLHOUS in Coldwater, Michigan when Lorancie was 74 years old.
Many thanks to both!
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