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Early settlers blazed the trail in Loudon Township

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By Linda Hanabarger

In 1908, the editor of The Vandalia Union asked readers to submit their Fayette County memories from an earlier time. Several old-timers responded to the request, among them, Miles R. Beck, who wrote of the early days in Loudon.
Miles was born in Fayette County in 1846, a son of Joseph and Lydia Bankson Beck. Joseph Beck was born in Washington Township, in Wayne (later Holmes County) Ohio, in 1820, and was a widower with four children when he came to Fayette County with the Ohio migration. He was also a school teacher and taught at the first school in the township.
“Loudon Township was organized some time in the latter part of the 1850s, and was named for the only town in the township at that time.
“This township was settled up largely by Ohioans: the Watsons, Millers, Becks, Durbins, Horns, Smiths and Dials, who commenced settling here as early as 1835-1840, but they were preceded by a hardy and industrious class of people from Tennessee, the Holmans, Ammermanns and Brazzles being among their number.
“Our young people will naturally ask: Where were their mills for grinding the grain? Who were their carpenters? Where were their tanners for making leather? Their tailors? Cabinet workers? Shoe makers?  Weavers?
“The answer is that those manufacturers did not exist, nor did they have any tradesmen who were professedly such. Every family was under the necessity of doing everything for themselves, as well as they could.
“In the fall of the year, while the Indian corn was soft, a simple machine called a grater did pretty well for making meal for Johnny cakes and mush. This, to be sure, was a slow way of making a meal, but necessity has no law.
“Our first water mill was built on Big Creek sometime in the 1830s by Robert Holms, which indeed was a grand improvement over the hominy block and grater. For bolting flour, he used a simple contrivance called a search, and we will say in this connection that the flour made on these mills was very dark and contained a good deal of grit, on account that nearly every farmer would thresh his wheat on the barn floor with a simple contrivance called a flail, and then would fan the dirt and chaff out of it the best he could with a sheet, before taking it to the mill.
“Our clothing was all of domestic manufacture. We had no other resources for clothing, and this indeed was a poor one. We made our linen of flax and wool – the former the chain and the latter the filling – was the warmest and most substantial cloth we could make. Almost every house contained a loom and almost every woman was a weaver.
“In those days, all the people used tallow candles and the grease lamp for lighting their cabins by night.
“It was nothing uncommon for people to go afoot three or four miles to church of a night; and when the nights were dark, they would use a torch made of the scales of the shellback hickory for a light.
“In those days, game was very abundant,  and nearly every pioneer depended on his trusty rifle to furnish his family in meat.
“But times have changed, and those dear old fathers and mothers have long passed away. Let us not forget to give them all the praise due them for blazing the way for generations to follow.”