Clearing Forests & Outlaws – Wm. King, 4 of 28

The Ohio and Mississippi Rivers
The Ohio and Mississippi Rivers

The spring of 1834 William King was reunited with his family on the 634 acres of newly purchased bush 12 miles from the Maumee River in Ohio. For the next 1 ½ years he labored clearing the land of the stands of massive oak, sycamore and walnut trees. He reports in his autobiography, “At the end of two months I could work all day without feeling tired, and could cut down a tree, and take cut about with my companion in cutting up the body of the tree.”(20) This skill was to serve him well years later when clearing for the settlement at Buxton, Canada West. But he wanted to move on. In his words: “I was determined to teach a few years before I would study theology, to be no longer a burden to the family but to support myself and paddle my own canoe.” (21)He had been told he could get a job in southern USA, so he headed down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The further south he went, the more he could see that the country was in a “disturbed state.” (27)

Bands of outlaws were making their way through the slave states, often posing as land speculators. Accompanied by a “body servant” they had stolen from another plantation they would wine and dine at their new host’s expense and, if possible, “sell” their servant who was instructed to steal a horse in the night and meet up with the outlaw some miles down the road. “In this way the master would travel selling his “body servant” perhaps two or three times and then the master, in travelling through a long stretch of forest would shoot the servant and cast him into some pool where he would never be found and never tell tales on his master, who had already received two thousand dollars by the sales that he had made.” (23)

This is a long post and I can’t think of a good question. Feel free to post one!

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