Early Settlers of New York State: Shaw Family

Early settlers of New York state were in the "wild west," if they just went a little ways west.

| Good Old Days

My great-great-grandparents were early settlers of New York state. They were both born in New York state in 1791, and decided to go to a new country after they were married and had a baby boy.

They hitched the oxen to a cart loaded with clothing, bedding, plow, spinning wheel-and the root of a sweetbriar rose.

They started "out west," but were still in "York" state when they found a lovely rich spot in the depths of thick forest with a fine spring, and decided this place would be their new home. They lived in the wagon while felling trees and hewing logs to make a cabin. Rocks around a fire were a place to set the spider for frying game and fish and for the coffeepot.

There were good friendly Indian neighbors, but no white people. The couple's seven-year-old son grew accustomed to seeing Indian women in blankets and feathers, and one day called to his mother, "Come, see, here is something which looks like you." Sure enough, he had seen a white woman wearing a dress and bonnet.

Wild game was plentiful, as was wild fruit. Bears, when they smelled honey in the house, would climb on the roof trying to find a way inside the cabin.

The young couple raised flax and harvested it by hand. The stems were retted, then flailed to separate the fibers which were cleaned, spun, and woven into cloth. After it was woven the cloth had to be bleached by being dipped in water and spread on the grass in sunshine until it was white as snow. Great-great-grandfather's summer suits were made of linen as was just about everything else for which white cloth was suitable.

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