SEE AMERICA FIRST
BY ORVILLE O. HIESTAND
IN COLLABORATION WITH CHAS. J. HERR
To Mr. and Mrs. Chas. J. Herr whose kind beneficence and interest in the Great Out-of-Doors made this book possible; these Wayside Sketches are affectionately dedicated
"I see the spectacle of morning from the hill tops over against my house, from daybreak to sunrise, with emotions which an angel might share. The long, slender bars of cloud float like golden fishes in the crimson light. From the earth, as from a shore, I look out into the silent sea. I seem to partake its rapid transformations; the active enchantment reaches my dust, and I dilate and conspire with the morning wind. Give me health and a day and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous.
"To the body and mind which have been cramped by anxious work or company, Nature is medicinal and restores their tone. The tradesman, the attorney, comes out of the din and craft of the street and sees the sky and the woods, and is a man again. In the eternal calm he finds himself. The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough."
Scenery, as well as "the prophet," is "not without honor" save in its own country. Therefore thousands of travellers are in Europe today, gazing in open mouthed wonder at the Swiss Alps or floating down the Rhine pretending to be enraptured, who never gave a passing thought to the Adirondacks, or the incomparable beauty of the Hudson, which perhaps lie at their very doors.
It is not our purpose to make the reader appreciate European scenery less but American scenery more. "America first" should be our slogan, whether in regard to political relations or to travel. Many Americans do not know how to appreciate their own natural scenery. Much has been written about the marvelous scenery of western North America, but few have spoken a word of praise in regard to the beauty of our eastern highlands.
The pleasure we take in travel as well as in literature is enhanced by a knowledge of Nature. Thoreau, Burroughs, Bryant and Muir—how much you would miss from their glowing pages without some knowledge of the plants and birds. Truly did the Indian say, "White man heap much book, little know."
To one who is at least partially familiar with the plant and bird world, travel holds so much more of interest and enthusiasm than it does to one who cannot tell mint from skunk cabbage, or a sparrow from a thrush. Having made acquaintance with the flowers and the birds, every journey will take on an added interest because always there are unnumbered scenes to attract our attention; which although observed many times, grow more lovely at each new meeting.
We remember, in crossing the ocean, how few there were who found little or no delight in the ever changing sea with its rich dawns and sunsets or abundance of strange animal life. It is well to have one or more hobbies if you know when to leave off riding them, and you may thus turn to account many spare moments. In the lovely meadows of the Meuse; along the historic banks of the scenic Rhine; where the warm waters of the Mediterranean lave the mountainous coast of sunny Italy; in the fertile lowlands of Belgium; or out where the Alps rear their snowy summits, we felt ourselves less alien when we could detect kinship between European and American plants.
But to visit foreign lands is not our real need, for if we fail to see the common beauty everywhere about us how much can we hope to find in a strange land?
Most people take their cares along with them to the woods and hills, but there is little use of going to the woods, lakes, or mountains without going there in spirit. We must, like real travelers, get rid of our excess baggage, as did the boys who went over the top, if we would really get anywhere.
So many people consider it a waste of time to learn of some of the wonders God has placed about them, yet, God loved beauty or never would He have been so prodigal of it. If we really try, we too can see wherein it is good. "Consider the lilies of the field," for their consideration will in no way hinder your true success.
Thoreau said: "If the day and night are such as you, greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet scented herbs; is more elastic, more starry, more immortal—that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself."
If the reader finds anything of merit in this rambling book of travel it will be due to the various quotations interspersed throughout it. If he is inspired to a greater love for the beauty of God's creation, to be found in his own immediate environment, or feels a deeper pleasure in listening to the music of singing bird or rippling stream, we shall be truly grateful.
In beginning on our journey we disregarded Horace Greeley's advice and went east. True, the course of empires has ever been Westward and the richest gold fields lie in that direction. But the glamour which surrounds this land of "flowing gold" has caused vast numbers to lose their interest in both worlds, until they missed the joys in this and the radiant hope of that to come.
"All that glitters is not gold, Gilded tombs do worms infold."
The land of the rising sun is not less lovely than that of its setting. There is a freshness and a parity in the early dawn not found in the evening time, and the birds greet the purpling east with their sweetest songs. No one may know how cheerful, how far reaching, how thrilling the singing of birds may be unless he has listened to them telling the gladness of the morning while the last star melts in the glowing east.
Then, too, what a journey is this when we look forward to the glad meeting with friends who knew the horrors of the World War and whom a kind Providence permitted to return to their native land. During those awful days spent in the halls of suffering and death near Verdun there were found many golden chains of friendship, and we thought—
"Better than grandeur, better than gold, Than rank or title a hundred-fold, Is a healthy body and a mind at ease, And simple pleasures that always please, A heart that can feel for a neighbor's woe, And share in his joy with a friendly glow, With sympathies large enough to infold All men as brothers, is better than gold."
Gold has no power to purchase true friendship and only eternal things are given away. So, what matters it whether we travel east or west as long as our souls retain the freshness and fragrance of the early morning's hours? We can be our own alchemists, and through the gray vapors of our poor lives transmute them into golden flowers of character that shall gleam and sparkle as the evening of our closing days draw near, like coruscating stars in the violet dusk of our twilight sky.
Nature seemed to have adorned herself richly for our departure; no sky could have been more blue, no grass more green and no trees more full of glistening leaves and singing birds. There was an indescribable freshness and glory on the sunny hills and shining sky. The breeze sifted through the trees and over the rim of the circling slopes, causing the maple leaves to show silver and wafting fragrance from a thousand fountains of sweetness. At brief intervals the loud, rich notes of the Maryland Yellow Throat and the high pitched song of the indigo bunting resounded from the bushes near Glen-Miller park of Richmond, Ind. A cardinal shot across the road like a burning arrow, and his ringing challenge was answered by the softly warbled notes of a bluebird; while down by the spring came the liquid song of the wood thrush, pure, clear, and serene, speaking the soul of the dewy morn.
We did not say our prayers, but paused reverently beneath the broad leaved maple in the park to listen to the thrushes' matin and knelt at the crystal flowing spring to fill our water bottles. As we were thus employed a red squirrel, who had the idea that the whole park was his, crossed and recrossed our path to see what strange creatures dare intrude at his drinking fountain. Coming nearer, chattering and scolding as only a red squirrel can, he began a speculation as to our character in rapid broken coughs and sniffs, pouring forth a torrent of threatening abuse in his snickering wheezy manner; "but, like some people you may know, his defiance was mostly bluster—he loves to make a noise." Yet, unlike his human brother (while being a busybody and prying into the affairs of his neighbors), he is a most provident creature, laying up ample stores for winter days of need.
Leaving the squirrel in undisputed possession of the park, we followed the winding road past glowing beds of flowers, which are worth considering like "the lilies of the field, for they preach to us if we but can hear." Before God created man He placed all necessary things for the development of that greatest of undeveloped resources in the world, the human soul, and beauty is not the least of these:
"All ground is hallowed ground, And every bush afire with God, But only he who sees takes off his shoes."
At all seasons there is a harvest of beauty for him who is willing to pay the price. But "nature and art are veiled goddesses, and only love and humility draw the curtains."
We turned away reluctantly from a scene so fair as that of the charming homes of Richmond, with their well-kept lawns amid their settings of vines, flowers and shrubs, doubly picturesque, lying broad and warm amid their encircling hills. It was a happy fortune for the city that White Water river, with its sinuous course crowned with sycamore trees, passes it. If we are a part of all we have ever met then our lives shall be richer for having contemplated those lovely homes, among the lovelier hills. If our environment helps make our character, then give us more parks and quiet retreats among the hills, where from the breezy uplands we get broader, clearer views.
What a contrast is here in this clean, well-kept American city to European cities! There, ofttimes, we find narrow, crooked and dirty streets, and what is worse thousands of children who never knew the meaning of the word "home." Instead of filthy alleys filled with smoke and foul smelling gases and profanity and unclean jests from vagrant lips they should have, as the children here, the benefits of grassy lawns, running brooks and singing birds, the natural birthrights of every child. Oh! For more great hearted men who are more considerate of the sorrows and cares of others and less considerate of self, as that self exists for others' good! We thought of the wonderful parks of Antwerp, Belgium, where the land is so thickly populated, yet where the love for the beautiful in Art and Nature is so universal as to perpetuate these lovely parks, thus enriching the lives of all who see them.
It is pitiful to see in the many smoky cities the little done for this thirst for beauty, inherent in all. Even in the poorest sections where many foreigners dwell one sees a broken pitcher with its stunted geranium, a window box with ferns and vines or a canary in a rude cage. As soon as a movement is on foot for parks the seekers after gain will be there howling "the poor must be fed!" Of course they must, but the body sometimes is the least part of man that needs nourishment; the soul hungers and thirsts for the beautiful. Nothing seems useless whereby we can gratify that insatiable thirst for all that is pure, beautiful and true in Nature, which draws us a little nearer the Master of all truth.
We did not mean to preach a sermon this July day for we are not ordained and therefore our discourse might not be accepted as orthodox. We heard a few cannon fire-crackers, popping and sputtering like distant machine guns, the last faint echoes of the noisy demonstration that filled the streets the day before. The noise soon died away and we thought how like the politician's marvelous speeches and outward demonstrations! True patriotism consists in something vastly more than the waving of flags and eloquence, which the trying days of 1917 and '18 revealed. The orations were hot ones, and needed no fiery remarks or burning glances from the eye to make them such, as the mercury stood high in the nineties; yet some said they enjoyed them. Perhaps they did, but as a fish might enjoy dry land or an Esquimo the Sahara. Gladly we left it all for the grand amphitheaters of the hills where Nature each day holds her jubilees, filled with calm, serene enthusiasm that falls on one as gentle as purple shades that linger about her wooded heights, giving them that strange enchantment that is a part of their real glory.
The sweeping hills were dotted with shocks of rye and wheat or were covered with standing grain, and their acres shone like gold in the level rays of the morning sun. Far and near the farmers worked in their fields of corn and other grain, giving vent to their joy by short snatches of song or loud, clear whistling, as full and flute-like as the notes of the red birds that sang in the trees which bordered them. The drought and extreme heat had forced grain into premature ripeness and the yield thereby was somewhat diminished. We passed men and boys on the road going to some distant grainfield. They bade us good morning with pleasant smiles. In like spirit we went to reap our harvest. Theirs would feed the hungry, and they could at least make out its value as so many bushels worth so many dollars and cents. They saw in their vast yellow acres not the hungry their grain could feed, but only a very small pile of gold. Watching the mellow colors of the broadening landscape as we climbed the long waves of earth we saw the yellow bundles of grain gleaming like heaps of gold, and we seemed to hear Ruth singing as she gleaned in the fields of Boaz and the lark carolling in the sky above as sweetly as when we listened enraptured along the lovely meadows of the Meuse or on the battle grounds of Waterloo. The value of our harvest only Eternity may gauge.
As we watched the grain falling like phalanxes of soldiers cut down in battle a nameless sadness filled our souls as we thought:
"Though every summer green the plain This harvest cannot bloom again."
Out where the land was broken by ravines and the woodbine hung its long green ladders from the ironwood tree or made pillars of Corinthian design of the gleaming sycamores which stood along the banks of a stream, two boys were fishing. It was hard to decide which made the more radiant picture: the softly sculptured landscape or the glow of joy that beamed from those shining boyish faces. How often had streams like this lured and detained many well meaning lads who had only a bent pin for a fishing hook and fish worms for bait, yet who had better luck than many an older person you may know, for they baited their hooks with their happy hearts.
Well do we recall how the siren songs of a little brook in early spring, or it may have been the golden willows filled with gurgling red wings, caused a court scene at school. The teacher was one of that type who study the stars by night but never his boys by day. He knew the golden willow not from the fragrance of its early blossoms or the gurgling melodies of the red-winged blackbird's song, but from the fact that they make excellent switches which cut keenly, bend but do not break. The only time he ever visited the brook was when he needed a new bundle of switches. With a jury like that, little wonder the case went clean against Willie.
Now Willie had missed school; that much was evident. So the teacher called him up to his desk behind which he sat in his revolving chair. Willie's face had been red, unusually so, and glowed all morning like sumac seed against its green setting. Willie came forward slowly. With downcast face he eyed a crack in the floor near the teacher's desk while his right hand rested tremblingly against his flushed forehead. "Willie, what makes you tremble so?" asked the teacher in a gruff voice. "I-I'm sick," came the feeble reply.
"Why did you miss school yesterday?" he repeated sternly.
"I-I fell into the creek on my way to school and got my feet wet." As if to bring proof of what he said, he wiggled the toe that the hole in his boot showed to best advantage. By this time death-like silence reigned in the usually very noisy schoolroom. Only the shrieking sound of a pencil toiling slowly up the steep incline of a slate like an ungreased wagon up the Alleghanies broke the silence. Strange it was that this sound, so noticeable at other times, no one heard. Like a piece of grand opera music this formed a sort of a musical prelude before the villain appeared. But mark you the villain was not in front of the desk but back of it, revolving like a pin wheel in an autumn gale. Suddenly there was a wild waving of hands.
"John, what is it," roared a loud voice. "I can't get the fifth example on page thirty-six." Now John had never worked so many as that before and the rest of the class looked amazed. Lily, remembering yesterday's lecture on cleanliness, washed her slate three times with her hand and mopped it up with the sleeve of her dress and yet it was far from clean.
Looking at Johnny now, it would not have taken a physician to tell that something was seriously wrong with him. He was sick, without doubt, and yesterday it was a double ailment he had. Any diagnosis would have revealed spring fever incipient and trout fever acute. Willie was perhaps thinking of the old saw mills where cascades fall and the phoebe-bird sings and the high banks, which the stream had worn deeply because it had some obstacle to get around. Poor scared Willie! He, too, had an obstacle to get around, so he said, "I slipped off of the foot log and got my feet wet and had to go home."
Now, as every teacher knows, wet feet never daunted any boy from achieving a purpose. The revolving chair swung around once more, the teacher arose from his comfortable perch and stooped very low in order to strike the trembling little boy who had heard the phoebe-bird prophesying spring, and had found the first hepaticas among the withered leaves and listened to the rippling song of the brook.
Could the one in the revolving chair have known what he did toward crushing the love of the true and the beautiful out of the life before him, the chair would not have been at once reoccupied. What had he to give the eager growing soul hungering and thirsting for the beauty and freedom of Nature? Had he more of the beauty and fragrance of the willow, so redolent of spring, in his heart there were less need of willows above his desk. A few of the fragrant buds in a vase would have had more effect upon Willie and the whole school than the scattered bits of golden pieces lying on the floor. Which is the greater knowledge—to be able to feel spring open in your heart on hearing the phoebe-bird, or to glibly repeat six times eight?
Our attention was drawn to a crowd of young and middle aged men idly leaning against posts or sitting on benches in the shade of trees at the famous roque court at a village in Ohio. The topic of their conversation was probably government inefficiency, hard times, lack of work, and perhaps many an hour was spent in discussing capital and labor by those who have had no personal acquaintance with either. How many are experts at various games, yet how poorly they play the great game of life! Many have failed to reach first base, and greater numbers have not yet entered but still occupy the bleachers and side lines. Go to the homes of those who clamor there is no work to be had and, without trying, you will see where at least a few days could be better spent than down at the rogue court.
Well has Holland said, "Idleness is the sepulchre of a living man." Though a man has the wealth of Croesus he has no right to be idle, if he can get work to do. A man who will not work is not only a burden to society, but he buries his talents, destroys his own happiness and becomes a nuisance. There are always good, wholesome books to be had and "temptation flies from the earnest, contented laborer, and preys upon the brain and heart of the idler."
Greenville never appeared so marvellously beautiful as she did in her holiday attire on that morning of July. We were thrilled anew with the beauty of our flag as we gazed at its lovely folds rippling in the breeze o'er the grand old men of the G. A. R. Our hearts went out in gratitude to those noble veterans whose loyalty, devotion and sacrifice made this great nation of ours possible. We thought, how many of these heroes we beheld, had defended the Old Flag at Gettysburg and Chickamauga, offering their life blood, if need be, for the future welfare of a nation. Alas! how many comrades they left upon the ghastly field of battle. Right fitting it was for the hands of children to bring the fairest blossoms to show their love and honor to those who made it possible for our glorious banner to still wave o'er a land from which had been removed the black stain of slavery.
Greenville, O., has the honor of being the home of Brigadier General Siegerfoos, the highest commissioned officer from the United States to make the supreme sacrifice. "He answered the call of his country in the defense of Liberty, Humanity and the cause of democracy." Branch of service, 56th Brigade, 28th Division. He was wounded at Mount Blainville, near the Argonne Forest and died at Souilly, France, October 7, 1918.
As if to join in this glorious celebration Nature unfurled many a banner of rarest beauty. There was the deep red of the crimson rambler, the blue of larkspur and clematis forming a wonderful background for the golden stars of the daisy that nodded and gleamed in the warm, clear light. For the white stripes of her emblem she chose the hydrangeas and elderberry. True, they were not arranged in order, like the colors of our lovely banner, but seeing them singly brings out their meaning more clearly, for there is much to contemplate in Old Glory, and we must analyze one color at a time. (Again we thought of the G. A. R. encampment in June.)
Among the many worthy veterans who honored Greenville with their presence was the proud father of Warren G. Harding, of Marion, Ohio. All were delighted with the lovely St. Clair Memorial Hall, whose classic beauty makes it an elevating and refining influence in the community. Then, too, the well kept library, with its fine museum containing the old original treaty of the Indians and many other interesting relics, will repay anyone who visits it.
As we journeyed through the beautiful agricultural region of Darke county we took a just pride in the well-kept homes with their broad and sunny acres, stretching away in one vast expanse of billowy grain or corn fields lying green and fair beneath the summer sky. We found a restful charm in these pleasant rural homes that recalled "A Song," written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
Is anyone sad in the world, I wonder? Does anyone weep on a day like this, With the sun above, and the green earth under? Why, what is life but a dream of bliss?
With the sun, and the skies, and the birds above me, Birds that sing as they wheel and fly— With the winds to follow and say they love me— Who could be lonely? O-ho, not I!
Somebody said, in the street this morning, As I opened my window to let in the light, That the darkest day of the world was dawning; But I looked and the East was a gorgeous sight.
One who claims that he knows about it Tells me the earth is a vale of sin; But I and the bees and the birds, we doubt it, And think it a world worth living in.
Someone says that hearts are fickle, That love is sorrow, that life is care; And the reaper Death, with its shining sickle, Gathers whatever is bright and fair.
I told the thrush, and we laughed together, Laughed till the woods were all a-ring ; And he said to me as he plumed each feather, "Well, people must croak, if they cannot sing."
Up he flew, but his song, remaining, Rang like a bell in my heart all day, And silenced the voices of weak complaining, That pipe like insects along the way.
O world of light, O world of beauty! Where are there pleasures so sweet as thine? Yes, life is love, and love is duty; And what heart sorrows? 0 no, not mine!
A NOBLE LIFE
In the northern part of Greene county, near the Little Miami river, lies Yellow Springs. As we neared the quiet town with its pleasant avenues of trees that sheltered peaceful, well-kept homes we thought of the noble spirit of him who toiled so arduously here that life might be richer and happier for all humanity. Here for five years dwelt one of America's most illustrious sons, who from a humble beginning of pitiful struggle and nearly wageless toil evolved such a noble life. We are told that he earned his first school books by braiding straw. "I believe in rugged and nourishing toil," he said, "but she nourishes me too much." Industry and diligence were the noble keys with which this beneficent soul was constantly unlocking rare treasure rooms of knowledge. The ruling passion of his life was to do something worthy for mankind. The theme he chose for his commencement oration at Brown University was: "The Advancement of the Human Species in Dignity and Labor." With such a motive, how beautiful the harvest of life: "This wonderful man's diary revealed that during his time as a lawyer he was unable for a period of months to buy a dinner on half the days and lay ill for weeks from hunger and exhaustion by reason of having assumed the debts of a relative." His was the Herculean task of revising and regenerating the school system of Massachusetts, and by so doing the whole U. S. The influence was not confined to this country alone, but spread to Europe.
"In 1852, while a member of the U. S. Congress, Horace Mann, received on the same day the nomination by a political party for governor of Massachusetts and president of Antioch College." He could not refuse a position that gave him such an opportunity to help those seeking after knowledge. His advice to his students was: "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." In his last illness he asked his doctor how long he had to live. On being told three hours, he replied, "I still have something to do." As we left the town of Yellow Springs, slumbering beneath her aged trees, we thought of these significant words of this great man: "Lost somewhere between sunrise and sunset two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever."
Suddenly from its lofty station in the tower the clock chimed the hours as if admonishing us to use them rightly. To some our journey along the road that afternoon in July may have seemed but idleness, yet we lost few of those golden moments, and every change in the foreground gave us a new picture. Now it was a wooded hillside with numbers of deciduous trees crowning its low swelling top, with a faint radiance deepening into dreamy halftones on their eastern slopes; now several giant chestnuts lifting their proud crests of bloom above the valley; again it was an emerald meadow in which cattle were grazing. The rich old gold of ripening wheat and the blue haze hanging over the distant hills all lent an atmosphere of tranquillity which the notes of the thrush only emphasized.
Now we felt a soft breeze that stole from the forest, deliciously tempering the oppressive air and bringing to us the spicy fragrance of mints, basswood flowers and elder. The country seemed to grow just a little more rugged as we proceeded over the widening high-ways. Soon we saw several machines at the side of the road on a grassy plot. Here we heard exclamations of delight from the people who were gazing in admiration over the bank of a stream at the gorge below. We soon learned that they had ample reason for their exclamations, to which we added our own. Below us was a chasm worn by the little Miami, ninety feet in depth. The ground on each side of the stream was a very garden of wild bloom. The sumac made a low border of glowing color; back of this flaming mass grew dogwood and Judas trees; while walnut, maple and linden, overrun with wild grape and woodbine, made mounds of bright green foliage, from which the ringing notes of the cardinal came to us above the song of the water.
Every rock and ledge was cushioned with moss and ferns, intermingled with long green ropes of woodbine, Here were vast hanging gardens of many gradations of green, softened by gleams of pale light from the afternoon sun. The rays falling among these fern beds made rare masses of delicate mosaics, giving them that indescribable charm which the level beams produced. Perhaps thirty feet below us we saw a phoebe perched on a dead twig that grew from a cleft in the rock. His notes sounded full and clear, telling the joy of his admirable home. The path of the stream betrayed itself by a long line of moss and waving fern. The sweet breath of the summer woods floated around us. We gazed under a canopy of trees and saw a blossoming jungle of shrubs and flowers that seemed to have been awakened by some more potent force than that of the sun.
Near the gorge lies the quaint old town of Clifton. The gray old buildings never knew the use of paint. Nature was trying her best to make them a part of the landscape. But why use artificial means to create beauty, when Nature all around was so prodigal? How one loves to contemplate architecture like this, where the gray of the buildings blends with the gray of the rocks.
With a feast of beauty spread above as well as beneath us, we found ourselves repeating these words of an Ohio poet:
"Around me here rise up majestic trees That centuries have nurtured: graceful elms. Which interlock their limbs among the clouds; Dark columned walnuts, from whose liberal store The nut-brown Indian maids their baskets fill'd Ere the first pilgrims knelt on Plymouth Rock; Gigantic sycamores, whose mighty arms Sheltered the Redman in his wigwam prone, What time the Norsemen roamed our chartless seas; And towering oaks, that from the subject plain Sprang when the builders of the tumulis First disappeared, and to the conquering hordes Left these, the dim traditions of their race That rise around, in many a form of earth Tracing the plain, but shrouded in the gloom Of dark, impenetrable shades, that fall From the far centuries."
Within hearing of the waters of the Little Miami dwelt an old man all alone in a brown frame house. Thinking us to be pilgrims who had lost our way, he came to give us directions to Yellow Springs or any nearby point. He said he had lived here many years and that his companion had died eight years before, leaving him very lonely. His eyesight was failing, and he told us that he had neither horses nor cows, pigs nor chickens, dogs nor cats, to keep him company. "Mentally, physically and financially, I don't amount to very much any more," he said. As we looked at his bending, tottering form and noted his failing vision, we saw that physically he was not one of Nature's successes; while the mossy shingles thatching his humble dwelling proclaimed that he had not much of this world's goods. "Here," said he, "I have dwelt many years, telling strangers how to get to Yellow Springs and others the way to go to the devil, which is just to keep on the wrong road and keep disregarding the sign-posts in God's Word."
Then, thought we, how necessary it is early in life to have some objective to reach and keep on the straight road, never turning to the right or left although siren voices call to easier and fairer ways or gates of idleness swing open to lure the careless wayfarer on the road of life and steal from him unawares its golden opportunities. Thanks, dear old man, for the lesson you have taught. May you live many more years, if only to warn the sojourner upon the thorny road of life to set his face toward the distant city, that is only reached by the main highway of noble aims and self denial. May the rippling music of the Little Miami be to you a friendly voice of comfort; may the golden notes of the thrush and the fragrant perfume of the flowers console you, until you hear the chanting of the angelic choir and breathe the perfume from flowers that never fade and die!
The sun, still seen above the western hills, turned the moist evening haze to lustrous pearl that one often sees on the ocean. Broad stretches of gently undulating land opened before us. Below in the subdued light shone the houses from whose chimneys ascended pale blue wreaths of smoke. The peaceful village lit up by the sun's level rays seemed the one bright spot in the whole landscape, the rest having been veiled in a soft tint of transparent gray. It was remarkably silent. Only the wood-thrush poured forth her serene notes, seeming miles away. No sound of lowing cattle or bleating sheep came from the pasture lands; no shout of farmer lads doing their evening chores. Over all the land brooded an atmosphere of rest, of calm serenity, of perpetual peace. Sitting there in the warm twilight and gazing out over this charming Ohio landscape was in itself "more refreshing than slumber to tired eyes." "The restless yearning and longing that reigns in the mind of all was quieted for a time," and we let our fancy roam until higher ideals floated before us and we experienced that exaltation of spirit that comes at rare intervals in times like this.
A cooing dove (just one) murmured her dreamy threnody and then was silent. Far in the distance a wood thrush was sounding his vesper bell softly—the "Angelus" of the wildwood. Whether it be morning, and they are clearer and more liquid heard through the misty aisles of the forest, or evening when quiet pervades the atmosphere, giving a more fitting back-ground for their pure notes, they are alike full of rarest melody. How often we have paused, deep in some lonely forest glen, to listen to those clear golden notes, following one another at rare intervals so melodiously, thrilling with their ethereal sweetness the weary heart, and floating away through dark, gloomy aisles and faint purple shadows till our ears seem to catch the more remote echo of some spirit message of the wood.
Leaving the land to its peerless vocalist and quiet repose we made our way toward Highland county. The road wound among green pasture slopes, from the summits of which a wide sweep of rolling country was visible. On reaching these heights, almost invariably new and surprising vistas opened before us. The hill roads dropped down to peaceful valleys over which we looked for many miles. Northward the hills sank into gentle undulations, robed with golden wheat fields, orchards, and meadows, and now and then we beheld old villages. Westward they towered into higher ridges which stretched away until their green faded and stood gray against the horizon. How amply spread were the numerous valleys with many trees to diversify them and how grandly planted were the higher hills with forest!
It was dusk before we reached the town of Hillsborough, where we spent the night. Hillsborough is Ohio's Rome, for like that Imperial City, it stands on seven hills. The quaint old mansion home of Allen Trimble, one of Ohio's early governors, is located here. It later became the home of his daughter, Eliza Jane Thompson, who is known the world over as the Mother of the Woman's Crusade, one of the most remarkable temperance movements of history, which had its origin here in 1873.
"Hillsborough is reached by two macadamized roads, which pass through a section of the state unrivaled in picturesque beauty. It is just in the fringe of hills which in the direction of the Ohio become almost mountainous."
We left our modern Rome in the morning swathed in its dreamy charm. What could be more beautiful than to pass through the country in July when every turn on the highway discloses a picture of rarest beauty? What a vast volume of divine verse, of sonnets, lyrics, and idyls, is opened before you, wrought out of meadows, groves and sparkling streams! The valleys with their broad green meadows, fields waving with golden grain or dark green corn that bent and tossed in the morning wind, was an inexhaustible delight. A few exquisitely white fleecy clouds, pushed across the deep blue sky by a southern breeze, made running shadows of rhythmical motion.
At Wilmington we were greatly impressed with the charming, well- kept homes and the fine class of people. As we noted the noble bearing, the fine, intellectual countenances and strong physique of these people, we thought of the early temperance movement here, and realized we were beholding the fruits of that early sowing.
We passed along the graded way near Piketon, where the ancient people of an unknown race laid out a graded ascent some ten hundred and eighty feet long by two hundred and ten feet in width. From the left hand embankment, passing up to a third terrace, there could be traced a former low embankment running for fifteen hundred feet, and connected with mounds and other walls at its extremity. It was evidently built in connection with the obliterated works on the third terrace.
Here many a passing traveler goes unawares over one of the most ancient highways in the world. Our trip over it was more memorable than any journey over a Roman road could have been. We paused awhile to speculate who these ancient people were who passed this way centuries before us. What ceremonious processions may have moved over this ancient causeway! From the branch of a maple that sent its roots into the more defined grade came the dreamy notes of a mourning dove, from a walnut tree a cuckoo uttered his queer song that perhaps was the same as these strange people listened to; indigo buntings sent their high pitched breezy song from the tops of the trees, while the warbling vireo seemed to be saying, "who were they?" and the clear, melodious call of a quail rang from the highest part of the embankment, with just enough querulousness in it to appear as if he too were trying to recall this lost race. The grassy slopes were still used by the meadow lark for nesting sites whose "spring of the year" still resounds among the hills speaking of the eternal freshness and youth of Nature. It appeared to be a work of defense where the people may have congregated for protection in times of danger. A hole in the side of one of the embankments told that it was still used as such, for a woodchuck had burrowed in under the roots of a maple where he was safe not only from his enemies but from winter itself. Thus we left this memento of a vanished race, thinking that, beginning our journey over a road so romantic, the day would hold much in store for us.
ON THE ROAD TO BAINBRIDGE
Whoever wishes to spend a few hours of unalloyed delight amid the most charming and picturesque scenery of Ohio, should visit Highland county. Here both Nature and history have done everything to make this a journey never to be forgotten. The round browed hills lift themselves in "bold bastions" and parapets of green that seem to beckon to you to come up higher. Sometimes you see a wide plain with its far flashing stream and homes here and there, or clusters of wooded heights with now and then a single pointed summit rising above and behind the rest. The roads are made up of innumerable loops and curves, every twist and turn of which unfolds a picture worthy of an Innes or a Rembrandt.
The morning of our journey was as fair as a July morning could be. Near the western horizon a few pearl-colored clouds hung motionless, as though the wind had been withdrawn to other skies. There was always that mysterious blue haze over the higher ridges and that soft light that fills the atmosphere and creates the sense of lovely "unimaginable spaces." It overhung the far rolling landscape of wheat fields, pastures and wood, crowning with a soft radiance the remoter low swelling hilltops and deepened into dreamy half shadows on their western slopes. Nearer, it fell on the rich gold of ripening wheat that lay in the valley or gleamed like golden crowns on the level space at the very summits of high hills; nearer still it touched with spring-like brilliancy the level green of meadows that clothed other uplands, where groups of Jersey cattle grazed beneath the shade of graceful elms; yet nearer it caught the rich foliage of blossoming chestnut trees and lit them up like crowns of ermine. In the immediate foreground it fell on the road that made continual windings along the edge of a steep ravine. How we rejoiced at the prospect and the warm, glowing sunshine! Right at the road's edge grew Christmas lady, sensitive and woodsia ferns, mealy-bell-wort, true and false Solomon's Seal, ground ginger, greenbrier, smilax and flaming cardinal flowers which were lit up with flying gleams of sunshine, forming great masses of tremulous shifting mosaic of rarer and older designs than any that Persia or India yet know. This Ohio of ours is indeed a fair land; and this morning, of all mornings of our lives, we seemed to hear "the ever-lasting poetry of the race." We thanked our lucky stars that our lot fell in such a pleasant place, and were justly proud that from Ohio's farms have come so many worthy souls.
We found enough to admire in every farmhouse, however humble, to repay us for our climb. Now and then we saw some narrow valleys and rough hillsides, where corn and potatoes were engaged in a struggle with countless stones. Without the aid of the energetic Ohio farmers they had well-nigh been driven from the field. The rows of pale thin corn (the stunted reward of necessitous husbandry) "showed that these people possess that spirit of labor, which, however undervalued by some unthinking mortals, is the germ from which all good mast spring." One cannot but notice with what patient industry these sturdy sons of the soil turn these rocky hillsides into fields of growing grain; how the apple trees were made to acquire health and productiveness; and how the wheat stood like vast billows of gold under the rays of the forenoon sun. We soon forgot their seeming hardships and gave our hearty admiration to the sturdy reapers of Ohio.
These men, spending as much toil and energy upon their log cabins and small barns, prize them just as highly as the people of a more favored section value their more luxurious abodes. We were glad to note the whitewashed cabins, well kept yards with roses at the gate, patches of marigolds under the window, and the ever present birdhouse and adjacent orchard. How at the sight one's memory goes back to other days with a wealth of emotion as refreshing as falling dew to thirsty flowers. One considers how to these people their humble homes may be priceless in their wealth of associations. They may be indeed far richer than the owner of some palatial residence where every luxury abounds and love is not. How often these tillers of the soil must sit beneath their doorway, watching the outlines of far hills clothed in dim blue haze; how often, too, they must have watched the sinking sun as they ate their evening meal of bread and milk and looked far away over the rolling landscape with the air of a king. The old home has grown into their lives, giving them more than wealth. If the soil is not adapted for the finest crops it may produce better thinkers.
As we journeyed on we thought of John Dyer's lines on Gronger Hill:
Ever charming, ever new, When will the landscape tire the view?
We answered his question by saying, "Never." A quiet seemed to creep over the hot landscape. The great chestnut and basswood trees seemed to be taking their noon rest; only the buzzing of myriads of bees filled the air with their sound; a robin settled near us with open mouth and drooping wings; the maple leaves hung limp and silent, showing their silver linings; only the warbling vireo sang her medley among its branches. The hills shimmered. Not far away were masses of dark clouds which stretched across a valley and seemed to rest on the opposite hills and sink in a dense mass into a farther valley. Presently we saw a white sheet of rain drifting rapidly toward us. We drew out to the side of the road beneath some small hickory trees and quickly put on the curtains and proceeded to eat our luncheon during the storm. The rain came down in torrents, but was soon over. We unfastened the curtains that we might have a better view of the birds that emerged from their leafy coverts and sang all about us. The noon sun was lighting up a million gleaming tears that hung to the leaves, so quiet was the atmosphere. The storm was still rumbling not far away across the hills, where a lovely bow spanned the sky. Vapors hung just above the tree tops, seething like smoke from hidden chimneys.
How the birds rejoiced after the shower! Two cardinals woke the echoes with their wild, ringing calls. Indigo buntings, using the telephone wires as a point from which to start messages, sent them out in all directions. These, if not so important as those of men, were more pleasant to hear. The summery call of a turtle dove came dreamily through the forest; while nearer, towhees filled the place with their "fine explosive trills." Down in the ravine chats were uttering their strange notes, so weird that they won from the Indians the name of "ghost bird." Vireos and tanagers vied with each other in persistent singing. The vireo sang more constantly but the notes of the tanager were more wild and possessed greater resonance of tone. The call of a quail came clear and sweet from a distant wheat field and, like a glorious soloist, Ohio's finest songster, the woodthrush, was casting her "liquid pearls" on the air.
We were loathe to leave a song carnival so fine, but Kinkaid Spring and Rockyfork Caves were some distance away and the recent rains made the dirt read very slippery and traveling uncertain. We had to climb a three-mile hill. The road had innumerable turns, and in many places ran very near the edge of steep ravines, which were often covered with almost virgin forest. There may have been some elasticity in the auto, but we didn't seem to notice it. It seemed, in spite of shock absorbers, a perfect conductor, and the shock it received in passing over deep ruts and rough boulders was immediately communicated to the lowest vertebra of our spines to pass instantly along all the others, discharging itself in our teeth. One of the party, not having traveled over many rough roads, seemed to be enjoying the scenery in much the same manner as a drowning man might enjoy the Rhine. Whenever the machine skidded dangerously near a steep ravine, he was seen to cling in alarm to the seat. He was informed, however, that this was not even A B C of what the rest of the party were used to, and his fears somewhat subsided.
This way and that ran wavering lines of low rail fences—some recently builded, others rotting beneath and thickly covered with wild roses, blackberry vines and numerous shrubs, forming an almost impenetrable hedge. Now and then distant hills rose, clothed with dark green woods. On nearer hilltops the wheat shimmered in the light, and all around grew green forests which gave them the appearance of a lake of gold in a setting of emerald. The blue green of the oats with the brighter green of meadows, blending imperceptibly together, made a rare picture enhanced by the blue haze of distance.
Kinkaid Spring is well worthy of a visit, for here is a spring whose water would be sufficient to run a grist mill. It is situated in charming woods, where grow fine old walnut, maple and tulip trees. A gentleman told us that the man on whose farm the spring is located dammed up its water, only to find that he had lost his spring. He tore away the dam and recovered it.
So many fine old trees were passed that someone remarked of the wondrous beauty these woods present at autumn-time. He did not repeat the words of the poem we shall quote, but he meant it all.
"Now all the woodlands round, and these fair vales, And broad plains that from their borders stretch Away to the blue Unica, and run Along the Ozark range, and far beyond Find the still groves that shut Itasca in, But more than all, these old Miami Woods, Are robed in golden exhalations, dim As half-remembered dreams, and beautiful As aught or Valambrosa, or the plains Of Arcady, by fabling poets sung. The night is fill'd with murmurs and the day Distills a subtle atmosphere that lulls The senses to a half repose, and hangs A rosy twilight over nature, like The night of Norway summers, when the sun Skims the horizon through the tedious months."
—From Poets of Ohio.
It is not strange that you do not find yourself recalling fair mornings spent among the far-famed Alps. True, you do not feel that awe-inspiring sublimity that their snow-clad peaks produce, but as you joyfully gaze out over the quiet beauty of these fair Ohio hills and vales clothed in magnificent stretches of golden harvest field and green forest, through which lead winding roads and sinuous streams, you ask yourself this perplexing question: Where have I ever beheld a more lovely or more quiet landscape than this? To be sure it is not thrilling, but sweet and soothing, like the view you get at Intervale, above North Conway in New Hampshire. This fair picture brought to our memory the scenery among the hills and valleys of the Meuse, as seen from Fort Regret. Here the view discloses vast stretches of upland meadows, orchards of cherry and plum trees, old stone highways that lose themselves in the valleys to appear again like slender paths where they cross some distant hill. Old stone farm houses, clusters of ruined villages, and as many as seven forts may be seen from this commanding position. A few miles distant rises the almost impregnable fortress of Verdun whose round Roman towers look down on the devastated region and seem to say, "They shall not pass." Nature has given just as picturesque a setting to many of her ancient fortified hills of the Western World, whose crowning battlements speak of a different age and architecture.
To the lofty parapets scattered throughout the southern part of Ohio, the ferocious warrior of another age came for refuge or lighted fires on their signal mounds to warn their people of an approaching enemy. Here are forest trees growing upon their sides said to be six hundred years old and rising from the decomposed remains of others perhaps just as old. How long these forts were used before the forests again reclothed them we have no means of knowing. We cannot but wonder over the fate of this forgotten race. What starving sieges, deeds of noble daring and brave sorties these ancient walls must have known!
Here we found growing great masses of purple spiked loose- strife. The deep purple flowers that closely cluster on the long spikes give a rich glow to the lowlands. This flower we found growing in abundance in New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. It is an importation from England. It is remarkable as an example of trimorphism, the two sets of stamens and pistil being of different lengths in the same flower. Every pistil, in order to affect fertilization, must receive the pollen from the same length in another flower. Professor Darwin experimented with these flowers and wrote about them to Dr. Gray "I am almost stark, staring mad over Lythrum. If I can prove what I really believe, it is a grand case of trimorphism, with three different pollens and three stigmas. I have fertilized above ninety flowers, trying all the eighteen distinct crosses which are possible within the limits of this one species. For the love of heaven, have a look at some of your species, and if you can get me some seed, do."
Here in one of the most charming spots that Nature gave to this scenic Ohio region dwelt a being—a wretch—by the name of McKinney, the tales of whose terrible deeds recall the gruesome acts of the days of the Inquisition or the horrible tortures of the fierce Iroquois. In one of the caves embowered in this leafy wilderness, where the rays of the noonday sun scarce ever fall and there reigns perpetually a cavernous gloom, dwelt this bold robber. Only the complaining water of a brook as it slipped over the polished stones or the song of the birds broke the silence of this solitude. Here we listened to a thrilling story, told by a middle-aged lady, of one of the many horrid deeds committed by this Ohio robber.
In the near vicinity lived two old people, who represented that worthy class of pioneers whose strength of character and noble self-sacrifice formed a fit corner stone upon which to build such a glorious state. The old gentleman was a stock buyer, and on the morning of that particular day of which our tale relates he had received a large sum of money (large for those times) and returned to his home late that afternoon. It was too near night to distribute the money among the various farmers. After consulting his good wife as to the best place for secreting it he decided to bury the money in the ground beneath the puncheon floor. Raising one or two of the huge planks, while his wife kept watch from the doorway of their cabin, the old gentleman dug a small hole in the ground and deposited the pouch which held the money. Smoothing over the place he carefully relaid the rough-hewn puncheon and, with an air of satisfaction in a work well performed, he left the cabin to do his evening chores, while the good housewife busied herself in preparing their frugal meal.
The work being done the old man returned to the house where in the twilight they ate their corn bread and potatoes with a relish that only those who labor may know. The last faint notes of the woodthrush came softly from the shadowy ravine, robins caroled in chorus, then they, too, became silent.
Late in the afternoon from his leafy covert (one of the numerous places found in this region, overlooking the road) peered the treacherous eyes of this bold highwayman. Here he awaited the coming of the twilight, patiently, silently, for he knew that the old man was alone, and like a fierce wild beast, he did not stir from his retreat until the gleam of light from the cabin door announced his hour had come. Leaving his hiding-place, he gazed through the deepening dusk and ever and anon glanced over his shoulder, as might a criminal who is fleeing from his pursuers.
Stealthily he approached the cabin, where the two old people were made plainly visible by the lamp and the warm, ruddy glow of the fireplace. With silent tread he entered the peaceful abode, and drew a pistol on the old couple, who stood up speechless and horror stricken before him. He demanded the money, which he very well knew the old man had received, but neither the man nor his wife would inform him of its whereabouts; whereupon he seized the old man and bound and gagged him. Then threatening the old lady with vile oaths, he tried to frighten her into revealing the secret hiding place, but to no avail. Seizing her, he securely bound her, with a horrible threat of pushing her into the glowing fireplace, but to no purpose.
Having the two forms prostrate upon the floor, he shoved their feet into the fire, removing the gags now and then so they could speak and disclose the secret he so vainly strove to force from theist. Removing the gag from the old man for the second time he found that he had fainted. He gave him a toss and a rude kick, leaving him to lie lifeless, as he thought, upon the floor. Turning again to the old lady, he pulled her lack from the fire and removed her gag, threatening to again torture her if she persisted in refusing to reveal the secret. Although her feet were horribly burned by the coals and her suffering was so intense that her whole frame shook convulsively with the inexpressible pain she endured, she remained silent. His barbarous attempts proved of no avail.
Unbinding the old lady he left her alone with the still form of the old man lying as dead before her. Painfully she hobbled to the well after releasing his bonds and brought water, with the aid of which she revived him. The old man lived only a short time, but his wife recovered to tell of that thrilling night to her grand children.
"Those people were my grand parents," continued the lady who related the story.
At Chillicothe still stands the magnificent old elm under which Logan, that gentle, noble Mingo chief sat, "while he told the story of his wrongs in language which cannot be forgotten as long as men have hearts to thrill for other's sorrows."
"I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan's cabin and I gave him not meat; if ever he came cold and naked and I gave him not clothing. During the course of the last long and bloody war Logan remained in his tent, an advocate of peace. Nay, such was my love for the whites that those of my own country pointed at me as they passed and said, 'Logan is the friend of the white man.' I had even thought to live with you but for the injuries of one man, Colonel Cresap, who last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, cut off all the relatives of Logan, not sparing even my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any human creature. This called upon me for revenge. I have sought it. I have killed many. I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country I rejoice at the beams of peace, yet do not harbor the thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is thereto mourn for Logan? Not one."
THE MOUND BUILDERS
Thou unrelenting Past! Strong are the barriers round thy dark domain, And fetters sure and fast Hold all that enter thy unbreathing reign.
Far in thy realm, withdrawn Old empires sit in sullenness and gloom; And glorious ages gone, Lie deep within the shadows of thy womb.
Full many a mighty name Lurks in thy depths, unuttered, unrevered. With thee are silent fame, Forgotten arts, and wisdom.
—W. C. Bryant.
"Who can read the history of the past? Who is there who can tell the story of creation's morn? It is not written in history, neither does it live in tradition. There is mystery here, but it is hid by the darkness of bygone ages."
"There is a true history here, but we have not learned well the alphabet used. Here are doubtless wondrous scenes, but our standpoint is removed by time so vast that only the rude outlines can be determined. The delicate tracery, the body of the picture, are hidden from our eye. The question as to the antiquity and primitive history of man is full of interest in proportion as the solution is set with difficulties. We question the past, but only here and there a response is heard. Surely bold is he who would attempt, from the few data at hand, to reconstruct the history of times and people so far removed. We quickly become convinced that many centuries and tens of centuries have rolled away since man's first appearance on the earth. We become impressed with the fact that multitudes of people have moved over the surface of the earth and sunk into the night of oblivion without leaving a trace of their existence, without a memorial through which we might have at least learned their names."
"In Egypt we find the seat of an ancient civilization which was in its power many centuries before Christ. The changes that have passed over the earth are far more wonderful than any ascribed to the wand of the magician. Nations have come and gone, and the land of the Pharaohs has become an inheritance for strangers; new sciences have enriched human life, and the fair structure has arisen on the ruins of the past. Many centuries, with their burden of human hopes and fears, have sped away into the past, since 'Hundred-gated Thebes' sheltered her teeming population, where now are but a mournful group of ruins. Yet today, far below the remorseless sands of her desert, we find the rude flint-flakes that require us to carry back the time of man's first appearance in Egypt to a past so remote that her stately ruins become a thing of yesterday in comparison to them." (footnote Von Hellwald: Smithsonian Report, 1836.)
Europe, in the minds of some travelers, seems to have a monopoly on all fair landscapes and ancient civilization, to hear their overdrawn descriptions gleaned from many books of travel. But, in the socalled New World we find mysterious mounds and gigantic earthworks, also deserted mines, where we can trace the sites of ancient camps and fortifications, showing that the Indians of America's unbounded primeval forests and vast flowery prairies were intruders on an earlier, fairer civilization. Here we find evidence of a teeming population. No one viewing the imposing ruins scattered about the Mississippi valley and especially the wonderful work of Fort Ancient can help but marvel at these crumbling walls of an ancient, forgotten race.
One writer has stated that America has no hoary legends or traditions that lend an ever-increasing interest to the scenes of other lands. It will never have any ancient history, nor any old institutions. This writer surely never stood on those ancient mounds of Ohio and elsewhere which tell us that there were people here ten thousand years ago, when the glaciers began to melt and the land became inhabitable once more. "Even before the ice came creeping southwestwardly from the region of Niagara and passed over two-thirds of our state, from Lake Erie to the Ohio River there were people here of an older race than the hills, as the hills now are; for the glaciers ground away the hills as they once were and made new ones, with new valleys between them, and new channels for the streams to run where there had never been water courses before. The earliest Ohioans must have been the same as the Ohioans of the Ice Age, and when they fled southward before the glaciers they mast have followed the retreat of the melting ice, back into Ohio again. No one knows how long they dwelt here along its edges in a climate like that of Greenland, where the glaciers are now to be seen as they once were in the region of Cincinnati. But it is believed that these Ice Folk, as we may call them, were of the race which still roams the Arctic snows.
"All they have left to prove that they were able to cope with the fierce brute life and terrible climate of their day are axes of chipped stone and similar tools and weapons dropped on the gravelly banks of new rivers which the glaciers upheaved. Such an ax was dug up out of the glacier terrace, as the bank of this drift is called, in the valley of the Tuscarawas in Mississippi.
"For the next four or five thousand years the early Ohio men kept very quiet; but we need not suppose for that reason that there were none. Our Ice Folk who dropped their stone axes in the river banks may have passed away with the Ice Age, or they may have remained in Ohio, and begun slowly to take on some faint likeness of civilization. There is nothing to prove that they stayed; but Ohio must always have been a pleasant place to live in after the great thaw, and it seems reasonable that the Ice Folk lingered, in part at least, and changed with the changing climate, and became at last the people who left the signs of their presence in almost every part of the state." (footnote Howell's History of Ohio.)
The great masterpiece of the Mound Builders is known as Fort Ancient. Its colossal size, ingenuity in design and perfection in construction give it first rack in interest among all prehistoric fortifications, and it represents the highest point attained by this lost race in their earth-work structures. Why make a journey to Europe to see the old forts when we have in Ohio one so old we have no record of its building? Truly we were more impressed while rambling over this old fort than we were when we entered the passages that led through Douamont and Verdian or stood on the ramparts of Mighty Ehrenbreitstein and gazed at the wonderful panorama spread out before us.
The works of these ancient people are said to be two or three thousand years old. Some seem to think they were a race of red men like those the whites found here. Only an agricultural people who were settled in their habits could have produced such wonderful works as we find scattered about the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. It is stated that every Indian requires fifty thousand acres to live upon. If this be true this country in which we find these vast mounds could not have provided food enough for the vast number of laborers required for such stupendous works. It is estimated that the white men found only two or three thousand Indians in the whole Ohio Valley.
We find forts that were skilfully planned, showing a knowledge far superior to that of the savage race. Some of them contained hundreds of acres which were enclosed with high walls of earth rising to ten or twelve feet from the ground. The largest and most interesting ruins we find in Warren county, "where on a level terrace above the Little Miami river, five miles of wall, which can still be easily traced, shut in a hundred acres." This was not only a fort but was probably used as a village site, and has some features about it which are regarded as of a religious nature. The hill on which it stands is in most cases very steep towards the river. A ravine starts from near the upper end on the eastern side, gradually deepening towards the south, and finally turns abruptly towards the west of the river. By this means nearly the whole work occupies the summit of a detached hill, having in most places very steep sides. To this naturally strong position fortifications were added, consisting of an embankment of earth of unusual height, which follows close around the very brow of the hill. This embankment is still in a very fine state of preservation, and is now, thanks to the State of Ohio, no longer exposed to cultivation and other inroads so that it will not be marred by domestic animals and will be preserved for future generations.
"This wall is, of course, the highest in just those places where the sides of the hill are less steep than usual. In some places it still has a height of twenty feet. For most of the distance the grading of the walls resembles the heavy grading of a railway embankment. Only one who has examined the walls can realize the amount of labor they represent for a people destitute of metallic tools, beasts of burden, and other facilities to construct it. We notice that the wall has numerous breaks in it; some of these, where it crossed the ravines, leading down the sides of a hill. In a few cases the embankment may still be traced to within a few feet of a rivulet."
Considerable discussion has ensued as to the origin and use of these numerous gateways. Mr. Squier thinks that these openings were occupied by timber work in the nature of block-houses, which have long since decayed. Others, however, think that the wall was originally entire except in a few instances, and that the breaks now apparent were formed by natural causes, such as water gathering in pools, and muskrats burrowing through the walls, and we are told that such an opening was seen forming in the year 1847. No regular ditch exists inside the wall, the material apparently being obtained from numerous dug holes.
"It will be seen that the works could be naturally divided into two parts, connected by the isthmus. In relation to the wall across the isthmus it has been thought to have been the means of defending one part of the work, should an enemy gain entrance to the other. It has also been supposed that at first the fort was only built to the cross wall on the isthmus, and afterward the rest of the inclosure was added to the work."
The late Dr. Edward Orton, president (1898) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and one of the foremost scientists this country has produced, gave an address before the Ohio State Legislature (March, 1898) upon Fort Ancient in which he said:
"The first point that I wish to make is that the builders of Fort Ancient selected this site for their work with a wide and accurate knowledge of this part of the country. You all know of the picturesque location, in the beautiful and fertile valley of the Little Miami, on the table land that bounds and in places almost overhangs the river, and which is from two hundred to two hundred and fifty feet above the river level. Availing themselves of spurs of the old table land which were almost entirely cut off by the gorges tributary to the river, they ran their earth walls with infinite toil in a tortuous, crenulated line along the margins of the declivities. Where the latter was sharp and precepitous the earth walls were left lighter. Where it became necessary to cross the table land, or where the slopes were gradual, the walls were made especially high and strong. The eye and brain of a military engineer, a Vauban of the olden time, is clearly seen in all this. We cannot be mistaken in regard to it when we thus find the weak places made strong, and the strong places left as far as possible to their own natural defenses. The openings from the fort, also, lead out in every case to points easily made defensible and that command views from several directions.
"In the second place we cannot be mistaken in seeing in the work of Fort Ancient striking evidences of an organized society, of intelligent leadership, in a word, of strong government. A vast deal of labor was done here and it was done methodically, systematically and with continuity. Here again you must think of the conditions under which the work was accomplished. There were no beasts of burden to share the labor of their owners; the work was all done by human muscles. Buckets full of earth, each containing from a peck to a half bushel, borne on the backs of men or women, slowly built up these walls, which are nearly five miles in length and which have a maximum height of not less than twenty feet. Reduced to more familiar measurements the earth used in the walls was about 172,000,000 cubic feet."
"Can we be wrong in further concluding that this work was done under a strong and efficient government? Men have always shown that they do not love hard work, and yet hard work was done persistently here. Are there not evidences on the face of the facts that they were held to their tasks by some strong control?
"It is said that the Roman legion required only a square of seven hundred yards to effect the strongest encampment known to the ancients of Europe or Asia, but within these formidable lines there might be congregated at a moment's notice, fifty or sixty thousand men, with all their materials of war, women, children, and household goods."
"There are two mounds seen just outside of the walls at the upper end. From these mounds two low parallel walls extended in a northeasterly direction some thirteen hundred and fifty feet, their distant ends joining around a small mound. As this mound was not well situated for signal purposes, inasmuch as it did not command a very extensive view, and as the embankments would afford very little protection unless provided with palisades, it seems as if the most satisfactory explanation we have is that it was in the nature of a religious work.
"Mr. Hosea thinks he has found satisfactory evidence that between these walls there was a paved street, as he discovered in one place, about two feet below the present surface, a pavement of flat stones. From this as a hint he eloquently says: 'Imagination was not slow to conjure up the scene which was once doubtless familiar to the dwellers of Fort Ancient. A train of worshippers, led by priests clad in their sacred robes and bearing aloft the holy utensils, pass in the early morning ere yet the mists have arisen in the valley below, on the gently swelling ridge on which the ancient roadway lies. They near the mound, and a solemn stillness succeeds their chanting songs; the priests ascend the hill of sacrifice and prepare the sacred fire. Now the first beams of the rising sun shoot up athwart the ruddy sky, gilding the topmost boughs of the trees. The holy flame is kindled, a curling wreath of smoke arises to greet the coming god; the tremulous hush which was upon all nature breaks into vocal joy, and the songs of gladness burst from the throats of the waiting multitude as the glorious luminary arises in majesty and beams upon his adoring people, a promise of renewed life and happiness. Vain promise, since his rays cannot penetrate the utter darkness which for ages has settled over this people.' Thus imagination suggests, and enthusiasm paints, a scene, but from positive knowledge we can neither affirm nor deny its truth."
The largest of the burial mounds is situated at the junction of Grave Creels and the Ohio river, twelve miles below Wheeling, West Virginia. It measures seventy feet in height and is nearly one thousand feet in circumference. An excavation made from the top downward, and from one side of the base to the center disclosed the fact that the mound contained two sepulchres, one at the base and one near the center of the mound. These chambers had been constructed of logs, and covered with stone. The lower chamber contained two skeletons, one of which is supposed to have been a female. The upper chamber contained but one skeleton. In addition to these, there were found a great number of shell beads, ornaments of mica, and bracelets of copper.
It mast have been indeed a great work for people who had neither metallic tools nor domestic animals to have erected such a great mound. The earth for its construction was probably scraped from the surface and carried to the mound in baskets. A people who could erect such a monument as this, with such scanty means at their command, must have possessed those qualities which would sooner or later have brought them civilization.
Charles Dickens, when visiting America, gives this impression that the Big Grave made upon him "...the host of Indians who lie buried in a great mound yonder—so old that mighty oaks and other forest trees have struck their roots into the earth, and so high that it is a hill, even among the hills that Nature planted around it. The very river, as though it shared one's feelings of compassion for the extinct tribes who lived so pleasantly here in their blessed ignorance of white existence hundreds of years ago, steals out of its way to ripple near this mound, and there are few places where the Ohio sparkles more brightly than in the Big Grave Creek."
Standing here in this lovely region, chosen by a vanished race as their last resting place, we recalled the words of an Ohio poet:
"Lonely and sad it stands The trace of ruthless hands Is on its sides and summit, and around, The dwellings of the white man pile the ground, And curling in the air, The smoke of thrice a thousand hearths is there: Without, all speaks of life; within, Deaf to the city's echoing din, Sleep well the tenants of that silent Mound, Their names forgot, their memories unrenown'd.
Upon its top I tread, And see around me spread Temples and mansions, and the hoary hills, Bleak with the labor that the coffer fills, But mars their bloom the while, And steals from nature's face its joyous smile: And here and there, below, The stream's meandering flow Breaks on the view; and westward in the sky The gorgeous clouds in crimson masses lie. The hammer's clang rings out, Where late the Indian's shout Startled the wild fowl from its sedgy nest, And broke the wild deer's and the panther's rest. The lordly oaks went down Before the ax—the canebrake is a town: The bark canoe no more Glides noiseless from the shore; And, sole memorial of a nation's doom, Amid the works of art rises this lonely tomb.
—Chas. A. Jones.
It is a well known fact that these ancient people chose the most fertile spots along river bottoms for their settlements. The Cahokia Mound is such a stupendous example of the work of the Mound Builders that it well deserves mention here. It is located in one of the most fertile sections in Illinois. It is well watered, and not often overflowed by the Mississippi. It is such a fertile and valuable tract that it has received the name of the "Great American Bottom."
"Dr. Patrick has stated that the area of the base is over fifteen acres. This base is larger than that of the Great Pyramid, which was counted as one of the seven wonders of the world, and we must not lose sight of the fact that the earth for its construction was scraped up and brought thither without the aid of metallic tools or beasts of burden, and yet the earth was obtained somewhere and piled up over an area of fifteen acres, in one place to a height of one hundred feet, and even the lowest platform is fifty feet above the plain. Some have suggested that it might be partly a natural elevation. There seems to be, however, no good reasons for such suggestions.
"Near the site of Hughes High School in Cincinnati stood this prehistoric earthwork. It was originally more than thirty-five feet high, but was entirely levelled in 1841." (footnote Chas. A. Jones.)
The first platform is reached at the height of about fifty feet. This platform has an area of not far from two and four-fifths acres-large enough for quite a number of houses, if such was the purpose for which this mound was erected. The second platform is reached at about the height of seventy-five feet, and contains about one and three-fourths acres. The third platform is elevated ninety-six or ninety-seven feet, while the last one is not far from one hundred feet above the plain. We require to dwell on these facts a moment before we realize what a stupendous piece of work this is.
Why need we go to Egypt to see the Great Pyramid when we know who built it and for what it was used; while we have this great work in our own country by a vanished race whose purpose in erecting it is still unknown? Some writers think that this huge piece of work was performed so that their tribe would have an elevation upon which to place their village, as an elevated site has always been an important factor in defenses. Other writers consider it a temple mound, and it resembles those that the ancient Mexicans raised for both religions purposes and town sites. Others believe that it may have been used to elevate their homes above the level valley in case of floods.
At Miamisburg we have a great mound, rising to a height of sixty- eight feet, which is regarded as one of a chain by which signals were transmitted along the valley. In the Scioto valley, from Columbus to Chillicothe, a distance of about forty miles, twenty mounds may be selected, so placed in respect to each other that it is believed if the country was cleared of forests, signals of fire might be transmitted in a few minutes along the whole line. They may have been used as signal stations by the red man centuries after the disappearance of their original builders.
Several examples of effigy mounds are found in Ohio. The most notable is that known as "Great Serpent Mound," in Adams County. It is the largest and most distinct of this class of mounds in the United States if not in the whole world. Other important Ohio points are the Eagle Mound at Newark and the Alligator or Opossum Mound at Granville.
The morning of our arrival at this remarkable effigy—how shall we describe it? The time was June, and as Lowell phrased it, "What is so rare as a day in June?" We wound among picturesque scenes that were softened by the hazy clouds and reveled in the unsurprising riches of the charming landscape. The road led through thick forests of oaks, linden and maple, through smiling vales and to the crests of hills overlooking long open valleys with wooded heights beyond. Everything seemed to break forth into singing. Even the rippling streams chimed merrily in with the glad exultant songs of red wing black birds and fluting cardinals.
As we entered the park we were greeted by the cheery piping of the Baltimore oriole-a warm, rich welcome from this brilliantly colored bird as he fluttered about the elm like a dash of southern sunshine. Try as we would we found our thoughts straying from the dim days of the dead past to the ever living present, for bees and birds were busy everywhere, telling their joy in melodious and ecstatic notes.
European travelers say that our woods are nearly devoid of birds, and that the songs of such as we have are not to be compared with those about which their poets have written so charmingly. They never were out among our blossoming wilderness while the sun poured his first rays through delicate green leaves and mounds of flowers or they never would have written that way.
When from a rising eminence of land we let our eyes rove over the vast undulating country around us, only the more prominent features impress themselves on our view. The lesser details, the waving grain, the blossoming sumac, the small brooklet, which attract the immediate passerby, are lost in the distance, but the range of forest clad hills, the wide expanse of fertile plain, or the purpling hills in the distance, determine the landscape and claim our attention. So in the light of the present century let us note what we can of these ancient and forgotten people. "Distance lends enchantment to the view," and this is true of distance in time, or culture as well as in space.
In memory we live over again those scenes, when a strange race met in this very spot to worship. In fancy we see again vast multitudes of people who assembled at the head of a victorious warrior-king who returned from the field of battle, to offer sacrifice upon the altar in the center of the oval. The casting off of the old skin of the serpent may have been to these primitive people typical of immortality. "Then a kite, by producing death, would be to them the working of some powerful spirit through that serpent. Its power to destroy life no doubt caused it to be held in great veneration by many primitive tribes. Likewise any striking object in Nature, such as a river, lake, precipitous cliff, with singular shaped stone such as we have here on the crescent shaped plateau rising from Brush Creek, would have been regarded as the abode of some spirit and would be worshipped accordingly. That such objects are worshipped the world over we have abundant testimony, and it will be found in all such cases that there is some peculiarity about the contour of the land on which are placed these objects, that would be sure to catch the eye of a superstitious race."
There has been another serpent mound discovered in Warren County, but space forbids a description of it. Not far from the city of Toronto, Canada, we also find another.
"The Great Serpent Mound" in Adams County has a counterpart in the Old World. In Scotland there is a very remarkable and distinct serpent, constructed of stone. This work has so much in common with the Ohio serpent that we reproduce the description as given by Miss Gordon Cummin in Good Words for March, 1872.
"The mound is situated upon a grassy plain. The tail of the serpent rests near the shore of Loch Nell, and the mound gradually rises seventeen to twenty feet in height and is continued for three hundred feet, forming a double curve like the letter S, and wonderfully perfect in anatomical outline. This we perceive the more perfect on reaching the head, which lies at the western end... The head forms a circular cairn, on which, at the time of a visit there in 1871, there still remained some trace of an altar, which has since wholly disappeared. On excavating the circular cairn, or circle of stones forming the head, a chamber containing burnt bones, charcoal and burnt hazelnuts, and an implement of flint were found. The removal of peat, moss and heather from the back of the reptile showed that the whole length of the spine was carefully constructed, with regularly and symmetrically placed stones at such angles as to throw off rain... The spine is, in fact, a long narrow causeway made of large stones, set like the vertebrae of some huge animal. They form a ridge, sloping off at each side, which is continued downward with an arrangement of smaller stones suggestive of ribs. The mound has been formed in such a position that the worshippers standing at the altar would naturally look eastward, directly along the whole length of the great reptile and across the dark lake to the triple peaks of Ben Cruachan. This position must have been carefully selected, as from no other point are the three peaks visible. General Forlong, in commenting on this, says