History of Jackson Township, Greene County, Pa.
From: History of Greene County, Pennsylvania
By: Samuel P. Bates.
Nelson, Ruchforth & Co., Chicago. 1888.


THIS township was one of the later settled, but is at present under a good state of cultivation. The surface is broken and highly picturesque, but the soil is deep and very fertile. Large flocks of sheep are kept in the upper end of the township, nearly all of fine wool. Some years ago a few sheep died from some disease peculiar to the flock, since which more attention has been given to the cultivation of cattle. The short horn Durham breed is most in demand though some Holsteins are kept. The forests of this township were the favorite gathering place of wild turkeys, and the inhabitants raise large flocks of these birds. A few years ago a disease seized upon the flocks of turkeys and many died, which has had the effect to greatly decrease the interest felt in breeding them. Winter wheat is largely cultivated, rarely or never spring wheat. Dent corn is cultivated, yellow, rarely white. Lime is found in abundance, and is used for fertilizing. Formerly large quantities of poultry, eggs, beef, pork and grain were shipped by the Baltimore and Ohio railroad; but latterly by Washington and Waynesburg road, which is more convenient for the Pittsburg market. Hay is also an important article and is sold in large quantities, movable hay presses being employed to prepare it for transportation. Oak, chestnut, poplar, sugar maple, locust, are the home product used in building and fencing, the coarse lumber for timber, joists, studding and roof is commonly of the different oaks. The red oak, which is now coming into use for fine work for expensive finishing, and takes a polish in, carved work that rivals mahogany and satin wood, is common here. Timothy, blue grass and clover are abundant on hill and valley, and though the hills are everywhere and of enormous proportions, the mower and reaper is almost exclusively used, and the strain of human muscle avoided. There is in every part a clay and lime subsoil and springs of pure water are copious and abundant. Swine are largely bred, Chester white, Poland-China, and Berkshire being the most numerously kept, though a cross between the Poland and Chester is considered in all respects the best.

There are no considerable villages, though White Cottage, near the center of the township, is the location of the principal postofflee, and will probably in time develop into a thriving place of business. The intelligence and morality of the people are conspicuous, and an air of thrift and contentment is everywhere observable. The dwellings are commodious and kept in a good state of repair, and the highways in most parts well wrought. A road machine, very simple of construction, is used to great advantage. Nine schools are reported in 1854 by Mr. Black, who was then Secretary of State, with 404 pupils. In 1850 the Superintendent says: "This district is much behind the times in point of education." But a quarter of a century has wrought great changes here. The present board of directors is thus constituted: J. F. Morris, President; M. C. Hull, Secretary; James Meeks, H. Hughes, A. J. Mitchell, Homer Fordyce.

Of the condition and habits of the people among the earliest settlers little can now be recalled. It would be interesting, if any were now living whose mature lives reached back to those early times, to listen to their recital. As a matter of historical record, in these days when the whirl and excitement of life is so rapidly obliterating every trace of the old time, nothing could be more important. Dr. Doddridge, who has left many interesting details of the early settlers in this section, gives the following graphic account of the habits and peculiarities of our ancestors:

"A pair of moccasins answered much better for the feet than shoes. These were made of dressed deerskins. They were mostly made of a single piece, with gathered seams along the top of the foot, and another from the bottom of the heel, without gathers, as high as the ankle joint, or a little higher. Flaps were left on each side, to reach some distance up the legs. These were nicely adapted to the ankles, and lower part of the leg by thongs of deerskin, so that no dust, gravel nor snow could get within the moccasin. The moccasins in ordinary use cost but a few hours labor to make them. In cold weather the moccasins were stuffed with deer's hair, or dry leaves, so as to keep the feet comfortably warm. * * * The linsey woolsey petticoat and bedgown, which were the universal dress of the women in early times, would make a very singular figure in our days. They went barefooted in warm weather, and in cold, their feet were covered with moccasins, overshoes or shoe packs. * * * The coats and bedgowns of the women, as well as the hunting shirts of the men, were hung in full display on wooden pegs round the walls of their cabins; so that while they answered, in some degree, the place of paper hangings or tapestry, they announced to the stranger, as well as neighbor, the wealth or poverty of the family in the articles of clothing. This practice prevailed for a long time.

The ladies handled the distaff, shuttle, sickle, weeding hoe, scutching knife, hackle, and were contented if they could obtain their linsey woolsey clothing, and covered their heads with sunbonnets made of 600 or 700 linen. * * * Flax was universally cultivated. When ripe, it was usually pulled by the women and boys, as this operation always occurred in harvest, when the men were occupied with their grain or hay And those who pulled' it, after the seed was threshed out of it, perhaps towards the heels of harvest, by the men, then spread it out to rot' for some weeks, on some green pasture fields; and after a number of weeks it was taken up, ready for the application of the brake' and swingling knife.' The former instrument required the muscular arms of stout men. The latter was often, perhaps most generally, wielded by the women. Scutching frolics, or gatherings of neighbors to scutch or swinale flax, were very common, and afforded much innocent amusement and recreation to the young people, blended with pretty hard work. The old ladies generally took charge of the hackling' of the flax. Hackling and goose picking days required much patient toil. * * One important pastime of our boys was that of imitating the notes or noise of every bird and beast in the woods. This faculty was not merely a pastime, but a very necessary part of education, on account of its utility in certain circumstances. The imitations of the goblers, and other sounds of wild turkeys, often brought the keen eyed and ever watchful tenants of the forest within the reach of the rifle. The bleating of the fawn brought its dam to her death in the same way. The hunter often collected a company of mopish owls on the trees about his camp, and amused himself with their hoarse screaming; his howl would raise and obtain responses from a pack of wolves, so as to inform him of their neighborhood, as well as guard him against their depredations. This imitative faculty was sometimes requisite as a measure of precaution in war. The Indians, when scattered about in a neighborhood, often collected together by imitating turkeys by day, and wolves or owls by night. In similar situations, our people did the same. I have often witnessed the consternation of a whole neighborhood in consequence of a few screeches of owls.

"Throwing the tomahawk was another boyish sport, in which many acquired considerable skill. The tomahawk, with its handle of a certain length, will make a given number of turns in a given distance. Say in five steps, it will strike with the edge, with the handle downward; at the distance of seven and a half; it will strike with the edge, the handle upwards, and so on. A little experience enabled the boy to measure the distance with his eye, when walking through the woods, and strike a tree with his tomahawk in any way he chose."

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