Deardurff History

This if an excerpt from the Franklin County Centennial Biographical History R977.156 – C333
Lewis Publishing Co. 1901 Found at: Ohio Historical Society Columbus, Ohio

The Deardurffs, 1798 to 1901

When Franklinton was but a yearling of the forest. Abraham Deardurff, of Southeastern Pennsylvania, came by wagon, over mountain-trail, trough forest, following the blazed trees to the wild little settlement. Having started “out west” early in March of that year and arriving at the west banks of the Scioto about April 13, 1798, accompanied by his eldest son David.

It was partly a trading expedition, as the wagon was laden with desirable goods obtained in Philadelphia, consisting of axes, plowshares, nails, spikes, augers, gimlets, awls, knives, scissors and such articles as would be in demand by the white settlers; then about eight or twelve in number. But there were in the load also, gay glass beads, bright colored chintz, and a variety of bells, sleigh-bells, cow-bells, a couple of hand bells and one larger than the others that might have answered for a meeting house.

These were to be exchanged with the natives for whatever might be obtained of them, principally baskets, jerked venison, bear-skin, wild honey, buckskin, and hides; these later the Indians cured in a superior manner never attained by the whites.

Apropos of the large bell, there exists an old family tradition related to the writer (then a child) by the widow of David Deardurff many years ago, beside the great fireplace with its brass andirons, hickory backlog and black crane, amid the sweet sound of crackling flames. This tale was later corroborated by William Deardurff, Sr., her stepson, in December, 1890.

He had often heard his father tell about it as follows: Some Indians whose wigwams were down the Scioto river near Salt Lick southwest of the present court house site, took a fancy to the bells, and bartered with Abraham Deardurff for several of them, and before nightfall, is said that every Indian squaw, pony and dog about the camp had a bell on. One very tall old redskin whom the nicknamed “Deerlegs,” was out hunting, and being attracted by strange new sounds, the tinkling of the bells, he crept through the tall grass, up near the clearing, and there, lying flat on the ground, peering
out through the hazel sassafras bushes, he spied the large bell suspended on a pole near the camp fire surrounded by a number of braves, squaws, papooses and two white lads, who were delightedly ringing the bells.

Deerlegs, in his lurking place, was no less pleased. He lay watching and waiting for a long time, when he finally saw the party disperse in the evening shadows. As the last Indian departed, or fell asleep, he stealthily crawled to the pole and quietly made off with the bell to his own camp, near Alum creek. Next day search brought to the hunters’ ears sweet peals from Deerlegs.

Upon being detected he is said to have snatched the bell and quickly springing upon his pony, clinging by in hand its mane and grasping with the other the precious bell, his long legs dragging in the underbrush, he disappeared into the woods, a ludicrous figure. Some days later a white man, aiming at squirrel spied a shinning object in a tall oak tree. This proved to be the stolen bell, which he secured and returned to Franklinton.

Abraham Deardurff soon finished his trading, procured by barter ten acres of rich bottom land, planted this in corn, and left his son David. A lad
of about fourteen year, to tend the crop, and left his son David. A lad of about the fourteen years, to tend the crop, and work in the clearing. He camped near the white settlers, then eight or ten in number. Returning to Pennsylvania Mr. Deardurff, who was a railmaker by trade, soon made a sale, told his eastern friends of the fertile Ohio valley, turned part of his property into money,

And then set out for Ohio. He was accompanied by his family, consisting of his wife, Katherine Deardurff, who was born in north Germany, his three sons Samuel, Daniel and Joseph, and daughters, Elizabeth and Polly or Pauline. A stout ox team brought the great wagon over the mountains in the fall of 1798; the family traveling by day and camping by a spring or stream by night, as Indians were lurking near the trail. Bears, panthers and wild cats were numerous and wolves prowled about.

In the wagon there were large walnut chests (“kiesters”) from Germany, well filled with homespun linen, bedding, and some favorite pieces of china; there were the necessary three-legged kettles, the crane and the spider or Dutch oven with its iron lid for cooking corn doggers. Several pieces brought to Franklin County at that time are yet in the possession of the family.

A small china tea set, three pieces of Britannia ware, a pair of sheep shears, a tailor’s goose and shears, a large and a small spinning
wheel, a reel, some brass candlesticks, candle molds, some good strong linen and “coverlets” in colors, some wearing apparel of those times, and some very fine needlework, are highly prized, and carefully kept by the great-grandchildren. They speak eloquently of ye olden days.

On a bright spring morning, in ninety-seven,
As the sun shone out in the eastern heaven,
Lending the rose her brightest hue,
Tinting the hilltops with diamond dew,

There rose, in the rude log hut, a wail,
A strange new sound, from where did it hail?
In the fireplace corner, away from the damp,
In a hewed out log from the “Sugar Camp”

On a mossy pillow, in coonskin wrap,
In a “dimity” slip and “bobinet” cap,
A sweet girl babe in this cradle lay,
Her blue eyes wide with the open day.

Her garments had come from that home in the east,
Snugly stowed in the till of the old walnut chest,
To the new forest home in Ohio so wild,
Where our pioneers cherished their first born child.

Comely and strong grew this maiden fair;
Learned to spin, weave sew with greatest care.
Linsey, counterpane, coverlet, wove she without fears,
That they would wear out in a hundred years;

So strong, so pretty, and so well made,
That they cast our goods of to-day in the shade;
They are dear to our eyes, our hands, and our hearts
For thy attest Great-grandmother’s houswifely arts.
Lapse of 50 years

As the sun steals low o’er the western plain,
Great Grand Dame nods at us rogues again,
As we beg for a tale she has thrice told,
That is ever new, nor will it grow old,

Of the dear old pioneer day long gone,
Of the conquests made, and the hard tasks done.
The dear far-away days, when she was young,
Of the games they played, and the songs they sung,

Of the swift wild deer in the forest path,
Or the howling wolves, and the panther’s breath,
Of the sly fox lairs, skulking Indians’ trail;
Thus she spins us many an old tale.

As she patiently turns to poke up the fire,
And softly smiles at our white grandsire,
While we silently wonder how
With her toilworn hands and wrinkled brow,
Her trembling voice and tottering knee
Was she ever so young and supple as we.

(The above was dedicated to and written for the Old ladies’ Quilting, Knitting and Spinning Bee, at the Franklinton Centennial, at Columbus,
Ohio, September 4, 1897, by Alice Gillespie (Deardurff) Allen, M.D.)

The movers arrived in Franklinton on the 3rd day of October 1798. All hands fell to work. David had got some of the settlers to fell a number of trees; these he had trimmed and hewed himself; and with the ever-ready aid of the men already sheltered, there was soon a good log house built with its outside chimney, puncheon floor and clapboard roof. On the 28th day of November, “while the first snowflakes flew,” this became the first Buckeye home of the Deardurffs.

The father continued to take trips east semi-annually for the purpose of carrying various articles of merchandise and mail; later a stage line was established; a toll gate erected on the west bank of the Scioto, near where the national pike was soon built, and this was kept by Daniel and his mother for some time.

Joseph Deardurff mover farther west upon attaining his majority, and after a few years all trace of him was lost, he failing in time to write home.
In a few years Daniel Deardurff moved to a settlement near Urbana and bought and cleared a tract of government land, which he farmed for years He also kept up a trading business with the Indians from Sandusky, who still stuck to their old trail through his “Big Woods” across his well tilled farm. He made regularly each year a trip clear to Baltimore.

Spring and fall brought always a string of Indians over the trail. One fall “Big Medicine Man” found Uncle Daniel flat on his back with “shakin’ ager,” or malaria, then prevalent in all the new country. As he was a favorite with the friendly Indians, this one at once volunteered to “sweat” him, as he often afterward described to his grandchildren; “White man heap sick, eat much salt, me give him corn sweat, me make him well.” Accordingly he asked for ripe corn in the ear.

Placing a bushel of this in the large iron kettle outside, over a bright wood fire, just covering it with water, he soon had this boiling; removing it, he then poured off the water into wooden keeler or tub over a double handful of red pepper pods, broken in this water.

When some cooler he placed Mr.Deardurff ‘s feet in this for about ten minutes, until they were quite red; he then placed him on a feather bed, rolled in a warm homespun blanket; he next placed the steaming ears of corn around his body, covering him with a second feather bed. He then gave him to drink a large “noggin” of hot spice bud tea. In less than an hour he was covered with great beads of perspiration; his headache and nausea gone; and he was hungry as a bear. That ended his ague.

About 1820 he returned to Columbus with a two-horse wagon to remove his mother, Katherine Deardurff, to his home. As she was very old
and daily called for “Dan’l,” she gladly went with him, but insisted upon having her own house. This he built of logs, near his own, and here she lived in peace, with her ash floor sanded, shinning and white, her old Dutch Bible, she spent many an hour reading the “Gutes Buch” or counting her “Geld”, as she called her little hoard of gold pieces.

In 1884 she died, at the age of 94, and was buried on the farm. Her Bible, brought by her husband Abraham Deardurff, from Germany, 1780, was kept by Daniel. At his death, about 1850, it was given to the eldest daughter, Katherine, who in turn gave it to her youngest brother, Daniel, who went in 1876 to the Black Hills. As he died there among strangers, it is lost. It contained in German the old records of four generations. The old lady had feared the Indians, and used to say that once while she was washing her boiled corn grains, in the old-fashioned hulling process for what was called dye or witch hominy, stooping over her tub she saw a shadow.

Raising her head, she was confronted by a red face with two black, hungry eyes watching her. With one scream she made a dash for her door, and, being alone that day, she barred it and waited in terror for the return of her “men folks,” which was an hour later. They eagerly looked in the woodshed for her visitor, but found instead and empty tub, a fine large deer, and some muskrat hides; these the hungry but harmless redskin had left in exchange for a large “mess” of half hulled hominy.

Samuel Deardurff, the second son of Abraham and Katherine Deardurff, married Betsey Barker, of Charleston, Virginia. He purchased and kept a tavern at the old house now standing at the southeast corner of Skidmore and Broad streets; its quaint woodwork and outside plastered walls attest its age. The smithy, just opposite, was kept by him, and the little brick store just west was conducted as a bakery by his wife.

They had one child, Percival, who married Sarah Davidison. He was for several years on the Little Miami Railroad. He died in 1874. His widow and daughters, Clara, Lucy and Anna, with their brother Orrin, still occupy the old homestead. One son, Irving, is dead; the others, George, William, and Gustave, are living on the west side in good homes.

Abraham Deardurff, in the spring of 1815,mounted on his trusty riding horse, started east on a business trip to dispose of the rest of his property,
amounting to considerable. Several weeks passed, when some newcomers led into the town his riderless horse, picked up near the border of Virginia. The saddlebags, supposed to have contained a goodly sum in gold, were slit open and empty. It was afterwards learned that his dead body, with a dirk-knife thrust in his side, had been found and interred in the woods by travelers. His sons, David and Samuel, identified a few articles found on his person.

David Deardurff’s numerous progeny still occupy some of the old town property, now grown valuable. One piece, costing but fifty dollars in 1815, is now valued at ten thousand dollars. The old family bible now owned by William Deardurff, of Newark, Ohio, (lost sight for many years, but recovered in 1891), shows the following recorded in the early days of the old town: David Deardurff, born February 6, 1785, died February 12, 1844. Elan King, born April 28, 1783, married in October 1807.

Our first born, a son, Daniel David, August 7, 1808; Elias King, born August 7, 1809; John, born September 16, 1811; Andrew Person, September 12, 1812; Eliza, March 16, 1817; Margaret, February 26, 1819; William, March 27, 1821; and Griffin, November 24, 1822. John, Eliza, and Daniel died in youth. Elias King grew up, married and lived in his grandmother’s house, at the corner of Gift and Culbertson streets, Franklinton. During the cholera Siege of 1848 his last wife, Charity Clowson, himself, and two sons all succumbed to the plague in one week.

Mrs. Katherine Deardurff, after the death of her husband Abraham, lived alone in the above named house, built by her son David, who had a log raising about 1816. It was on one of the old Sullivant plat lots on South Gift Street. This old relic was pulled down by boys in 1896. Then William Deardurff, the III, only survivor of Elias, who had kept up the taxes for over twenty-five years, had the court to make him a deed: then he sold it at a round sum to the Columbus Dash Company.

They erected a large factory thereon. David’s house, on the opposite corner, still stands in good condition. It was built by him in 1807,
of heavy walnut logs, cut along the “run” just east of it (later used as a mill-race, now Seward and Mill streets proper). These
logs, carefully hewed, fitted, “chunked and daubed,” formed a wall that is to-day as intact as when put up in the woods, ninety-four years ago; the woodwork is of oak, dovetail in; the fireplaces, high mantel-pieces, and heavy doorways, held up by huge wooden pins, show the old care-taking and lined, for milk crocks.

The old folks say it once held sweet, cool spring water. As the front room was used for the first postoffice ever kept in the old settlement, the broad oak and ash floorboards show the imprint of many a long-forgotten foot. The heavy hand-hewed sills are in perfect preservation. David’s son William was “bound out” to a tailor. When his “time” was up he married Miss Lizzie Smith, who died early.

He afterward married Mrs. Martha Hanger, nee Hancock, of Logan county, Ohio. He lived for over thirty years in Franklinton in the employ of the Little Miami Railroad.

In 1889 he removed to a fine farm near Urbana, but his new cares proved too much for his toilworn old man, and soon he laid aside his burden to rest in the “Land Ahead.” His widow, now almost blind, survives to mourn the absence of that calm, peaceful life of his that shed sunshine on all who knew the noble man. His sister Margaret went to Colorado in 1840 and died there, leaving a daughter at Storm Lake, Iowa.

Andrew Person moved to Monticello, Ill., and conducted a grocery. He died in 1882, leaving one son, David now a farmer in Ross county, Ohio. David
Deardurff’s first wife, Elan, died in 1822. The following fall he found himself and his business, “postmaster and squire,” hampered by so many little ones. He then married Elizabeth Griffin, a beautiful but frail young lady. With the advent of her pretty babe her sweet life went out, and she was tenderly placed beside Elan in the old Franklinton graveyard, where twenty-six Deardurff’s lie in a row.

To Darby Creek settlement about this time there came two brothers, Joshua and Benjamin Ford, also their sister Rachel, a tall, handsome, robust southern girl, originally from North Carolina and later from Maryland. She had been reared on her father’s plantation, where blacks were numerous, but she, having Methodist ideas, freed her twenty-five slaves for which she was disinherited. After this she came north with her brothers. Coming to town to trade, the family became acquainted with the Deardurffs, and Rachel, who had been taught by her old slave “mammy” to spin, knit, sew, bake, and brew, was selected by Squire David for his last helmeet, in 1823.

Thus follows the last record: Rachel ford, born at Ford Plantation, Maryland, January 1798, granddaughter of Benjamin Ford, of England, and Elizabeth Benjamin, of Wales; daughter of Frederic and Margaret Ford, of Maryland. Harvey Broderic Deardurff, born March 12, 1824; Mary Jane, April, 1826; Matilda Angeline, February, 1828; Eli Gwynne, July, 1830; Sammuel, September, 1832; Malinda (three pounds) and Clarinda (five pounds), twins, August 6, 1834; and Elizabeth, September 8, 1839.

Harvey Broderic Deardurff married Elizabeth Youn g about 1852. His was the lot to leave the old family name in the old town. He was a railroader for years, and after an accident he became a grocer. He was an active member of the city council. Thrifty and industrious, by his energy he accumulated considerable real estate. He died in 1881, leaving a family of eight children. His son and two daughters; James D., has six sons and one daughter, Christina Sands, of Milwaukee, Wis,; Katherine, Mrs. Albert Rickenbacher, has two sons and five daughters. Charlotte, Mrs. John Frank, has two daughters.

The men mentioned above are sturdy workers and homeowners in Franklinton. Mary Jane, David’s eldest daughter, married Joseph Davidson and
died in 1868, leaving eight children. Her eldest son, George, is a successful business man. His fine bearing and Christian character, perseverance and energy are but some traits of the old stock cropping out. His popular store is but one square south of the old postoffice on South Gift Street, corner State Street – his mother’s homestead. He is an active member of the Gift Street Methodist Episcopal church, the outgrowth of Heath Chapel, where old “Daddy” heath preached to his grandparents.

Matilda Angeline married Jacob Bauman, M.D. of Bellefontaine, Ohio, in 1844. Two sons and two daughters were theirs, but they have all passed over
Time’s threshold, and are no more.

Eli Gwynne married Martha Gautz, of Grove city, in 1851. He was a carpenter by trade, migrated to Burlington, Iowa, became a railroad bridge
contractor and is now retired comfortably at seventy-one years of age. He has a daughter, Frances Barcus, and a son, Jeremiah, of Fairfield, Iowa. Samuel D. died of typhus fever in 1853.

Elizabeth Deardurff died in peritonitis in 1859.

The twins were Malinda and Clarinda. The latter lives at North Columbus, or near by, and is hale and active. She married Johnathan Moats in 1853, and is the mother of five living sons and three daughters. Malinda Deardurff married George Davidson Sr., and aided him in raising his four sons. He was a noble, upright man, descended from an old Virginia family who settled here early in 1800. A stroke of apoplexy ended his busy life in 1881.

He was missed in the Methodist Episcopal church and Magnolia Lodge, I.O.O.F. Malinda, who resided in the city with her husband, then returned to the old place, which held for her peculiar charms. Strange to say, she was the last of David’s children to live on the old street; she purchased a cottage on the north end of it, and there in comfort spent the last eighteen years of her life with her daughter Alice, now a prominent physician, and her two grandchildren, Carol and Bernice Gillespie. Here she pieced her two beautiful centennial quilts that created so much comment at the one-hundredth anniversary of the settling of Franklin county, in September 1897 pieced to commemorate the date of her grandfather’s arriving in the new country.

One is a double compass of one hundred points to the block; the other “Eastern Star,” one hundred and twenty pieces to the block, joined accurately, quilted feather pattern and neatly done. She was always noted for her fine needlework and excellent cooking. She and Clarinda were counted the belles of the place when girls, and two finer, handsomer, healthier women were not to be found at sixty-five. They were the finest looking old ladies of their class. By an unexpected attack of kidney trouble, on April 3, 1899, she breathed her last, bravely crossed from the dear old scenes where the passing years changes had come and gone, changing a wild forest to a thriving city of one hundred thousand within sight of her first home. Thus went out the life of the last one of the old family left on the old site.