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Clearing Land



"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 dollars.

"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."[1]


[1]Extract from Weik's History of Putnam County, Indiana by Jesse W. Weik. Published by B. F. Bowen & Company, India­napolis, 1910.