Archiver > OH-FOOTSTEPS > 1999-10 > 0941248437

From: Gina Reasoner <>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1999 21:53:57 -0400

Historical Collections of Ohio By Henry Howe LL.D.


JOSHUA STOW was from Middlesex county, Connecticut, and was born in 1762.
He was a proprietor of the township of Stow, surveyed in 1804, under his
personal supervision, by Joseph Darrow, of Hudson. In our first edition it
was stated Stow was a member of the first party of surveyors of the Western
Reserve, who landed at Conneaut, July 4, 1796. *See V.I., p. 252.) Augustus
Porter, Esq., the principal surveyor, in his history of the survey, in the
Barr manuscripts, gives the following anecdote of Mr. Stow, who was the
commissary of the party:
A GENUINE SNAKE STORY. -In making the traverse of the lake shore, Mr. Stow
acted as flag-man; he, of course, was always in advance of the party;
rattlesnakes were plenty, and he coming first upon those in our track
killed them. I had mentioned to him a circumstance that happened to me in
1789. Being with two or three other persons three days in the wood without
food, we had killed a rattlesnake, dressed and cooked it, and whether from
the savory quality of the flesh or the particular state of our stomachs, I
could not say which, had eaten it with a high relish. Mr. Stow was a
healthy, active man, fond of wood-life, and determined to adopt all its
practices, even to the eating of snakes; and during almost any day while on
the lake shore, he killed and swung over his shoulders and around his body
from two to six or eight large rattlesnakes, and at night a part were
dressed, cooked and eaten by the party with a good relish, probably
increased by the circumstance of their being fresh while all our other meat
was salt.
A REMINISCENCE. -Joshua Stow became a noted character in Connecticut to
which he returned after his Ohio experiences. he was a strong old-style
Democrat, and one of the first in the State to start to cry, "Hurrah for
Jackson!" which he did so lustily that Old Hickory made him postmaster of
the little town of Middletown.
In the summer of 1835 I was a rod-man in the party who made the first
survey for a railroad in Connecticut. The country people over whose farms
we ran our lines were greatly excited at our advent. They left their work
and came around us, and looked on with wondering eyes, calling us the
"Ingun-neers." But few had been one hundred miles from home; scarce any had
seen a railroad; had but a faint idea of what a railroad looked like. Our
operations were a mystery, especially the taking of the levels. A dignified
gentleman, the head of the party, Prof. Alex C. Twining, peering through a
telescope, and calling out to the roadman, "Higher!" "lower!" "higher!" "a
tenth higher!" "one hundredth higher!" "a thousandth lower!" "all right!"
accompanied by a gyration of the arm, which meant screwing up tight the
target; then came the reading of the rod, "Four-nine-seven-two." Remember
these were old times, indeed, when letters cost from ten to twenty-five
cents postage; before prepaid stamps on letters were known, and then when
they did come into use the mucilage was so poor that sometimes, they were
lost, which led to a profane wag of the time writing under one, "Paid, if
the darned thing sticks!"
One of our lines of exploration, was made three miles west of Middletown.
One morning there approached us, as a looker-on, a queer-looking old man.
He had come from his farm perhaps a mile away. He was short and stout; had
a most determined expression of countenance; was attired in gray from head
to foot; wore a gray roundabout jacket, and a shot-gun was hanging by the
middle from his hand. This sort of Rip Van Winkle figure was bent over and
dripping with water. Just before reaching us, while crossing a brook on a
rail, the rail turned and he tumbled in. This was Joshua Stow, or, as
called by the people at the time, "Josh Stow." He was then just
seventy-three years of age; a man who had found rattlesnakes a savory diet,
hurrahed for Gen. Jackson, and gave his name to one of the prettiest and
most romantic spots of land in Summit county.
It is a remarkable fact that the very township which Mr. Stow purchased
and named after himself to show to posterity that such a man as Joshua Stow
once lived should prove to have been about the most prolific in Ohio in its
snake product. The County History thus states:
Rattlesnakes were very numerous, and a great pest to the first settlers of
Stow township. The "Gulf" at Stow's Corners was filled with these reptiles,
and it was many years before they were killed off. So numerous were they
and so dangerous, that the settlers took turns in watching the rocks to
kill all that came forth. This was done on sunny days in early spring, when
the snakes first came from their holes to bask in the sun.
WATCHING FOR SNAKES. -It fell upon Mr. Baker to watch the gulf one Sunday,
when Deacon Butler was holding a class-meeting in a log-cabin close by.
While looking down into the gulf. Mr. Baker saw a large number of
rattlesnakes crawl from a crevice in the rocks and coil themselves in the
sun. When it seemed that all had come forth, Mr. Baker dropped his coat
near the crevice, and with a long pole prepared for the purpose, pushed the
garment into the opening. He then descended to the rock, and killed
sixty-five of the venomous reptiles.
DAD'S ACHIEVEMENT. -The first intimation that the worshippers had of what
had taken place was made known by a son, of Mr. Baker, who ran to the log
meeting-house at the top of his speed, crying out with a loud voice: "Oh,
dad's killed a pile of snakes! dad's killed a pile of snakes!" This
adjourned the meeting, and the members repaired to the gulf, to continue
their thanks for the victory over the ancient enemy of mankind.
A MOTHER'S TERROR. -One day, when John Campbell was away from home, his
wife placed her little child on the floor, with a cup of milk and a spoon,
and closing the door went a short distance to one of the neighbors' on an
errand. She soon returned and, stepping up to the little window, looked in
to see what her baby was doing. there sat the child upon the floor, while
close at its side was coiled up a large yellow, repulsive rattlesnake. It
had crawled up through the crack of the floor, and, when first seen by Mrs.
Campbell, was lapping or drinking the milk, which had been spilled by the
child. Just as the mother was taking her first lightning survey of the
fearful sight the child reached out its spoon, either to give the reptile
some milk or to touch its shining body with the spoon. The mother gave a
piercing scream, and the snake slid down a crack and disappeared. Mr.
Campbell came in soon afterward, and raising a plank of the floor, killed
the snake.
From the dawn of history the snake has had the first place as the symbol
of deceit and subtilty, finding his first victim in our common mother.
Nothing good in the common estimation has come from this reptile. It will
therefore be new to many that the snake idea should have been pressed into
patriotic service among the heroes of the American Revolution.
In 1844, when traveling over Virginia for my work upon that State, I
called upon Capt. Philip Slaughter, at his home in Culpeper county, on the
eastern slope, of the Blue Ridge. He was then some eighty-six years of age,
and about the last surviving officer of the Virginia line of Continentals.
When the war broke out, Patrick Henry, the commander of the Virginia
troops, received 150 men from Culpeper; among them was Slaughter, then
seventeen years of age, who enlisted as a private. The flag used by the
Culpeper men I drew from his description, as depicted in the annexed
engraving with a rattlesnake in the centre. The head of the snake was
intended for Virginia, and the twelve rattles for the other twelve States.
The corps were dressed green hunting shirts, with the words "LIBERTY OR
DEATH" in large white letters on their bosoms. They wore in their hats
buck-tails, and in their belts tomahawks and scalping-knives, making a
terrific appearance.
As illustrating the chivalrous feelings among the Virginia officers, the
old hero told me that when he received his commission as captain, he then
being but nineteen years of age, he indorsed upon it the name of the lady
to whom he was engaged, at the same time declaring it never should be
disgraced; and he added, with commendable pride, "it never was disgraced."
The prominent villages in Summit county are TWINSBURG, having, in 1890,
821 inhabitants; PENINSULA, 562; and these others with less: Copley,
Centre, Clinton, Manchester, Mogadore, Richfield, Tallmadge, and Western Star.

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