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100 Years Ago

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Written by Henry B. Sherman, printed by Jim Sayre in Feb., 1999



From: Biographies of Prominent Citizens of Sidney and Shelby County, compiled by Paul Sherman, n.d.

In the beginning of September 1835, after the real and personal property of our homestead had been sold, we made preparations to immigrate to North America. For that purpose we selected the State of Ohio.

We left our home in Oestbeyern, near Muenster, in Westphalia in the beginning of September 1835, and then we rented a large teamster’s wagon that had been taking merchandise from Bremen to Muenster. We, with our family, were taken to Bremen. Our family consisted of father, mother and five boys: Joseph, Henry B., Bernard, John and William. Three families of our neighborhood left with us and we all went in this wagon to Bremen. The names of these families were Henry Hoelscher, Henry Stollbehn and John Stockman.

September 11, 1835, we all arrived at Bremen and were taken to the ship’s agent. Our ship passage cost twenty-two thalers in gold and that included our board for each person for the whole passage. In Bremen we were all put in one boat that had one mast and one sail. On that boat we were all transported down the river Weser to Bremen Haven. The boat left Bremen the same day at 11 o’clock that morning and the next morning at day-break we landed at Bremen Haven. It was ebb-tide and the boat could not enter the haven until flood-tide. Flood-tide set in at noon and then ran into the haven along a three-masted ship, and we all boarded the ship.

The ship was called "The Pilot." The vessel had not as yet taken on board her cargo and passengers, therefore we had to remain on board about ten days, before it was fully laden and it was not until the 22nd day of September 1835, that the ship left the Bremen Haven and took down the Weser into the North Sea, a six hour journey. Coming into the North Sea the wind was not favorable to pass the English Channel. It was blowing from the south. So the officers of the ship concluded to go around by way of Scotland. To accomplish that purpose, they sailed further to the north, to the sixtieth degree of latitude, in order to get around the northern part of Scotland.

The sea at that degree of latitude was very rough and very cold, so much so, that some of the passengers had to ascend into the hold of the ship to keep from freezing. After the ship passed the northern extremity of Scotland, the ship sailing south, leaving England and Ireland on our left. As the ship neared the Irish Coast, we could see its shores and lighthouse. From this point we left the rough, stormy North Sea and sailing to a more congenial place south to the Azores Islands, lying due west one thousand miles from the Straits of Gibraltar and from either continent of Europe and Africa. The group consisted of nine islands and belonged to Portugal and were noted for their fertility, the chief crop being grapes.

From this point the ship took a northerly route to the North American Coast. In nearing the American shores the ship passed through the Gulf Stream, running out of the Gulf of Mexico, between Cuba and Florida and running along the North American coast. The warm water comes from the south and forces the cold water to the shores of New Foundland. From thence it crosses the Atlantic Ocean (to) Norway. It is said the water in the stream runs in its narrowest places at five miles an hour.

After passing the greenish waters of the gulf stream, we came in sight of land. It was the coast near the capes of Charles and Henry, at the entrance of Chesapeake Bay. In nearing shore a pilot was taken aboard who took complete charge of the ship. There are two lighthouses at the entrance of the bay, one on Cape Charles on the Maryland side and one on Cape Henry, on the Virginia side. The bay is one hundred and seventy miles long and so wide that land could scarcely be seen from either side. On the evening of Oct. 31, 1835, we landed safe at Baltimore, after a pleasant journey from our former home from across the Atlantic Ocean.

After landing at Baltimore, our goods and effects were unloaded from the ship, and also the goods and effects of our neighbors. These goods were loaded on a dray and taken farther into the city into a large warehouse. Baltimore is a fine city and has many fine buildings, one in honor of George Washington, and many fine churches. The largest church is the Catholic Cathedral.

There are many teamsters who had large, heavy freight wagons, drawn with six horses who made it their business to carry goods across the Allegheny Mountains to Wheeling in West Virginia on the banks of the Ohio River. On one of these wagons our goods and effects were loaded and some women and their children who could not make the journey on foot, were seated on top of the wagon a distance of three hundred miles which took us seventeen days to travel. Along the road we passed through many towns, among these were West Minster, Cumberland, Somerset, Union, Little Washington and Brownsville. At the last named town we crossed the Monongahela River.

The road from Baltimore to Wheeling is very mountainous and hilly, and much of the land can never be cultivated. There are rich, fertile valleys with good farms and on every farm the traveler finds large orchards with good apple trees on them. The trees were so full of apples, as much as trees could bear, that the people could not make good use of their apples.

At Wheeling we took passage on a steam boat down the Ohio River for Cincinnati, leaving Wheeling on the steamboat at 11 o’clock in the morning and arriving at midnight at the wharf at Cincinnati. The river was up high, in a good shipping condition. Remaining in that city for two days our goods were hauled on a canal boat and we took passage to Dayton. The canal from Cincinnati to Dayton had been finished one year or two and in good shipping condition. The canal to Piqua they had not commenced to work at and was not finished until two years after this, in the year 1837.

Leaving the Stollbehn family in Cincinnati, we and the Hoelscher family traveled on to that new settlement of Stallotown (Minster). Coming to Dayton on the canal boat we rented a teamster wagon, which took us on to Stallotown for twenty dollars. Arriving there we rented an old house for one month and moved into it. We then went to Piqua to the land office and entered eighty acres of land for one dollar and a quarter per acre.

After we bought the land, we could not find it and got a surveyor who showed us the land and the lines. The next day we took our oxen, a bed and provisions to make improvements and build a house on it. In going to the land, we got lost in the wild woods, wandering nearly the whole day before we found our land. About one hour before sunset we came upon the land.

Now the first thing we had to do, we built a fire and made us a supper. Water for coffee we found ready in a pond. After we had taken our supper, we made ready for a sleeping place. For that we selected a big white tree, putting sticks and poles against that and covering it with prairie grass, putting grass and leaves into the hut and spreading it on the ground and spread our beds on it. We slept comfortable for we were very tired. We had a fire built near the opening of the hut, near the white oak tree. After we had been sound asleep, the fire climbed up at the tree and had set the hut on fire. Good luck that someone had awakened.

The next day we went to work in earnest to put up a small house or shanty as we may call it, about twenty feet square with a clapboard roof on it, daubing up the crevices with clay and made a door and chimney on it. The house was finished up and ready to move into which we did in a few days after.  Then we went to clear some ground for us for a summer crop, such as corn, potatoes and all sort of vegetables. During winter and part of spring we had cleared up over seven acres of land.

Then we bought us two milk cows and several hogs. Hogs will fatten in the woods, for there is plenty of mast for hogs to fatten on, as acorns, hickory nuts, beech nuts and others; and for cows and cattle there is plenty of pasture more than they need and enough left over from summer to do them over next winter; for there were no cattle to eat it over summer.  Land bought at one dollar and one quarter was not taxed before five years. Tax on cattle was twelve and one half cent each, on horses fifty cents each. Eggs cost five to six cents per dozen and butter cost from five to eight cents per pound, coffee from ten to twenty cents. Dry-goods and clothing were dear.

The woods and country around were full of game of all kinds and turkeys were so plentiful they could be seen almost any time when going into the woods. Many hunters made a living by hunting; the hindquarters of a deer brought from sixty to seventy-five cents, the forequarters of a deer twenty-five cents and the hide sixty cents.

In the summer of 1836, we two oldest boys went to work on the canal below Piqua. The wages were twenty-six dollars per month for twenty-six working days. We also worked on the canal in the spring of 1837 at the same pay, when the canal below was finished. In 1838, work commenced north of Piqua and was completed in 1841.

Henry B. Sherman, Sr.
History of Shelby County, Ohio, and Representative Citizens
A.B.C. Hitchcock, 1913, page 511

Henry B. Sherman was born in Germany and when nineteen years of age (another account says fifteen years old) came to the United States with his parents in 1835, who settled in what is now McLean township, all this cultivated and improved locality being at that time a wilderness. The Shermans were progressive and intelligent...and the Sherman schoolhouse was built on Grandfather Sherman’s farm, that property being owned at present by John Siegel.

Henry B. Sherman was a somewhat unusual man for his day and opportunity, possessing great mental gifts and these were made valuable to those with whom he lived and associated. For twenty-two winters he taught school, attending to his farm industries in the summers, and served in many local offices, being township clerk and a justice of the peace for many years, always giving his political support to the democratic party. In his youth he frequently carried corn as far as Piqua to have it ground.

He was an earnest Catholic and first attended church at Minster and later was one of the founders of St. Michael’s church (Ft. Loramie), and on account of his many activities this neighborhood was called the Sherman Settlement and when the turnpike road was completed his name was given it to honor his memory and reflect credit on his sons.

His long and useful life was extended to eighty-six years. He married a young woman who was also a native of Germany and she accompanied her parents to Shelby county when sixteen years of age and lived here into her eighty-first year. To them were born three children: John J., Louis and Adolph F.


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