"The first thing
was to build him a log house in about the thickest woods he had ever seen.
By spring he was ready to move into the cabin. He at once went to
work deadening timber, rolling logs and burning brush by night. The
first spring he succeeded in clearing three acres, among the stumps of
which, planting in June, he raised a good crop of corn. The second
year he cleared ten acres. After cutting all the timber down and
trimming it ready for rolling he called in his neighbors and thirty of
them came to help him. The next day he and his thirty assistants
went to another neighbor and helped him, and so on from clearing to clearing.
And so from year to year the sturdy early settlers toiled until they finally
succeeded in clearing and fencing their farms. James Montgomery O'Hair
says that off of the farm on which he settled when he came to Putnam County
he has sold twelve thousand dollars worth of walnut and poplar timber and
he is satisfied that he destroyed and made into rails an amount that if
it were standing today (1910) would be valued at not less than twenty-thousand
"The early settlers
were all poor and dependent upon selling what little they had to spare
to newcomers into the county. At one time at a Fourth of July celebration
they were very much discouraged by the Judge declaring that the country
would soon be filled up with inhabitants and they would have no one to
whom they could sell their surplus; but as the country became settled their
markets opened and the Judge's problem was solved.
"The first church
in the neighborhood was built of logs. The prominent contributors to the
erection of this building were the subject of this sketch, his father-in-law
and others in the neighborhood. Not having any money to donate, the
first mentioned on the above list subscribed a cow which was sold for eight
dollars, the money thus obtained being used in the construction of the
church. The inhabitants attended church by families in wagons drawn
by oxen some of the men walking and leading the oxen.
"In due course
of time James Montgomery O'Hair began to accumulate some money and ere
long had bought forty acres of land adjoining his home farm for one hundred
dollars. His next purchase was eighty acres for five hundred dollars.
And as he could spare the money he kept adding to his farm until he had
increased it to five hundred and fifty acres; this was in the year 1847.
He had always made it a rule never to buy land until he could make a partial
payment and see his way to pay the balance, giving his note for deferred
payments; and he never failed to meet the notes when due. He was
never asked to give an endorser or make a mortgage.
"..... Mr. O'Hair
has assisted his eight Sons in buying more than three thousand acres of
land, though all the money for this purpose or for any other purpose advanced
to them has, with the exception of eight hundred dollars each, been returned
to him. He preferred to let them pay for their own homes that they
might better appreciate them. He attributes his financial success
largely to keeping out of debt and avoiding speculation and has tried to
impress the same rule of life upon his sons."
from Weik's History of Putnam County, Indiana by Jesse W. Weik. Published
by B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis,