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James E.M. O'Hair

Excerpts From Jesse Weik's History of Putnam County, Indiana

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James E. M. O'Hair

From Jesse Weik's History of Putnam County, Indiana we learn more about James E. M. O'Hair. Part of it is similar to that recorded in the O'Hair Secretary Book but I will give it to you anyway.

".... The subject (James E. M. O'Hair) of this sketch was the fifth (should read sixth) child by the second marriage and was born July

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5, 1804. In the year 1812 when he was eight years old, his father died. His mother survived her husband many years, her death occurring October 1, 1839, and at the home of her son in Putnam County, six miles from Greencastle. At the age of fifteen the boy went to live with James Montgomery near Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, and worked for his board and clothing for five years. During this time he went to school about three months each winter for four winters, obtaining thus all the school education he ever received. The schoolhouse was built of hewed logs with a large fireplace in one end, having split saplings with wooden legs for benches and greased paper for windowpanes.

At the age of twenty years, on March 5, 1825 the subject of this sketch was married to Miss Margaret Montgomery. In a few days thereafter, having loaded on a pack saddle all their household goods, consisting of two beds, three plates, two teacups, two knives, two forks, a gourd, a stew kettle and a skillet, the wife riding another horse and carrying with her all their wearing apparel and leading the pack-horse, and the husband following on foot, driving a cow and a colt which his father-in-law had given him, the young couple started for their new home in the wilds of Estill County, Kentucky, on the Kentucky river seventy-five miles away. They took two days for the journey. Arriving at his destination, the young farmer traded one horse for a claim of about twenty-five acres. This trade left him one mare, a colt, one cow, a young wife and not a dollar in his pocket. He at once determined to better his condition and own a large farm. The first year he cleared five acres of ground. He raised five crops on this place. All the iron he had for tending these crops was the point of his shovel plow and the bit in his horse's mouth. After he had raised one crop, his brother-in-law sold him eleven sows and pigs on credit for thirty dollars. He drove them home eighteen miles and turned them out on mast in the mountains, feeding them occasionally to keep them from running wild. That thirty dollars of debt worried him day and night and he was determined to pay it. In order to do this he hunted coons on winter nights for their hides, which he sold for ten dollars, his wife spun yarn, wove cloth and made him an overcoat, which he concluded to do without in order that he might sell it for twenty dollars to pay his debt. He now had the thirty dollars he owed his brother-in-law and walked eighteen miles to pay it. He felt chagrined when on reaching the latter's house he refused to take the money, saying, "Now, James, I don't need that money and you

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do. You take it and buy some calves to take home with you." He did so, buying ten head, driving them home and turning them into the cane-brakes.