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Indiana O'Hair Reunion

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Excerpts from the Secretary's Book of the Putnam County, Indiana O'Hair Family

The O'Hair family of Putnam County, Indiana have held an Annual Family Reunion continuously since 1873. The first few were held on Christmas Day and as the family grew it was changed to the summer time when everyone could be outdoors. A secretary's book (a record of the meetings, births, deaths, and marriages) has been kept from the first meeting. James E. M. O'Hair told the first secretary of his childhood, and early married life, this was recorded in the Secretary's book and in part is given below.

"....The O'Hair family is one of long life and great vitality. And many have lived out their three score years and ten. The family has been known as men and women of iron frame and strong constitution all being among the first settlers of Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Texas. In the community where they have lived they have all been respected by their neighbors for their honest and upright manner of doing business and the word of an O'Hair was considered as good as his bond. As a family they have had but little sickness to contend with during their long lives. They ever have been very kind and affectionate to their families and to the weak and a perfect terror to evil doers.

Michael O'Hair died when James E. M. O'Hair was but 8 or 9 years of age leaving his widow with a large family of small children in then the almost wilderness of Kentucky. Of the history of her hardships we know but little, but being a woman of will and do her children are all the monument of

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the success she had in raising them. She lived to see them all settled in life and then peacefully passed away October 1, 1839. And now lies buried in the Montgomery Chapel (now called Brick Chapel) burying grounds. (In Putnam County, Indiana).

(In 1930 a five ton boulder was placed on her grave and bronze tablets attached for Elizabeth Tribbett O'Hair, our pioneer mother and below the one for her is one to Michael O'Hair. This monument was dedicated October 26, 1930. A picture of this monument will be found elsewhere in this book.)

James E. M. O'Hair was born in Montgomery County, Kentucky, July 5, 1804. His childhood being passed in the mountains of Kentucky where he had the privilege of six or eight months schooling until he went to live with James or more commonly known as, Father Montgomery when about fifteen years of age and, where he had the privilege of going to school in the winter where he had all the privileges of a thorough education for those days. His studies consisted of reading in the Bible, Webster's Spelling Book, and in figures to the single rule of three which when mastered made it a thorough education for the boy and for the girl.

He lived with Father Montgomery until he was 20 years of age when he married Margaret Montgomery and moved to the mountains on the Kentucky River in Estill County. He took all he had on one horse with a pack saddle on it; his wife rode another carrying all the clothing they had in her lap, he walking and driving their cow a distance of seventy miles. When arriving at their new home he traded one of the horses to a man for his interest in a claim leaving him quite wealthy, with one horse, one colt, one cow, two beds, and out of debt. Here he paid his first tax which was five cents. (A photograph of this receipt will be found elsewhere in this book.)

They then went to housekeeping in one of the most fashionable houses at that time on the Kentucky river. It was a cabin 18 feet square with two clap board doors and no windows. The furniture consisted of two beds steads made by boring into the logs of the house for one end of the rail and setting a forked limb under the other for a support and laying a board from pole to wall to lay the bed on. They had two stools made by splitting open a log and boring three holes in the round part for legs. The stools answered the double purpose of stools and tables to eat from. After a while he made an

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addition to this furniture by making a table about four feet long by splitting a log and putting in four legs cut from the limbs of an adjoining tree. His table answered the purpose for which it was made as long as he stayed on the place.

The kitchen furniture consisted of one skillet with long handle and one stew pot. The table furniture consisted of one set of plates, three or four knives and forks and a tin cup and several gourds, with which outfit they kept house and lived four or five of the happiest years of their lives. In this house two children were born to them, William Asbury, and James Ellsberry.

He stayed there and tended five crops of corn with no other tools than one shovel plow and one hoe. All the harness he used was of his own manufacture. The tugs were made of raw hide and the collars of shucks. He raised some cotton which his wife carded and spun mixing some wool with it which she wove into cloth, in this way making all their clothing.

He left there in the fall of 1829 selling out his stock of cattle and hogs for about $450.00. He left the state of Kentucky with the intention of settling in Edgar County, Illinois. After remaining there, a few months he came to Putnam County, Indiana and settled on the home farm where be now lives and where the following children were born: Greenberry Montgomery; John Tribbett; Eliza Jane; Bascom; Sarah Elizabeth; Robert Simpson; Celina Gibson; Sylvester Greenville; and Leroy Taylor.

His wife was taken sick and in a few days on August 11, 1849 was called away to that better land.

On the fifteenth of September 1852 he married Permelia Lockridge and had two children born to them, Robert Leroy on June 30, 1853 and Margaret Permelia, July 23, 1855. Then his wife was taken sick and on the 2nd of March 1856 was called to that better home where there is no sickness or parting of friends. Since her death Father O'Hair has lived with his children at home devoting himself to them and their education.

Right here Father O'Hair thinks a short history of his business life would not be out of place. His first remark has more in it than you would at first suppose. But take it and study it over. And then follow it and in years to come you will know its true meaning. "Do all of your business

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with men of known good character and never deviate from it for the purpose of a good trade."

Father O'Hair says, "I went to work with the intention of living on land of my own. I worked in a manner day and night and made every edge out that I could honorably to accomplish that end. After being comfortably situated in housekeeping on the Kentucky River my first effort was to make a crop of corn. I put in about ten acres of corn, breaking my ground with a shovel plow and tending in with a plow and a hoe making a very fair crop. I, then, bought of Jesse Ogden on credit ten sows and pigs making in all 48 head which I fed green corn until the next fall when I just fed them enough to make them gentle, as a hog in the mountains if not fed any will become as wild as a bear and almost as dangerous and when attacked by dogs will almost invariably kill them. I kept the hogs until they were two and three years old and then sold them at a dollar and a dollar and a quarter per hundred pounds.

My evenings or rather nights of the first two winters in the mountains I put in hunting coons for the hides which I cured and took them and with my overcoat, sold for thirty dollars which money I took to Jesse Ogden to pay him for the sows and pigs. He would not take it and advised me to buy calves with it, which I did. I bought the calves in Montgomery County driving them about sixty miles. They lived that summer and winter on young cane and pea vine. I fed them but little until I sold them to come to Indiana. I want to say here that I attribute a great portion of my success in life to the advice given me by Jesse Ogden to buy young stock and let it grow."[1]



[1]Secretary's Book of the O'Hair Family Reunion In Putnam County, Indiana.