Wellsville Daily Reporter - December 8, 1894 -- Transcribed by Mary Rhodes
REMINISCENCES OF WELLSVILLE - Part II
Job Straights Log Cabin Was the First House in Corporate Wellsville
November 13th, 1889, Mrs. Straight called upon me on business for a lady at Stannard’s Corners and in conversation with her, I drew out the following interesting statement which will, no doubt, be new to many. She said that she and her husband came to Wellsville in 1839. Then there were no roads. Her home was a humble log house located where the Grand Stand of Wellsville trotting grounds now (1894) is. At the time I saw her she was 77 years of age and could tell the time on a clock easily, said she had never worn spectacles, her hearing was so good that she could understand ordinary conversations easily, walked smartly and had walked from Stannard’s Corners and expected to return the same day and in the same way. Her house was the first settlement in Wellsville village. This section of country was then a dense wilderness, no good roads, no near neighbors and of course the mode of living somewhat simple.
She said the nearest grist mill was at Middaugh settlement, what was then called the Wilcox mill, below Scio. Necessity, the mother of invention, induced her husband to construct a home mill, in the following primitive manner. A large maple tree stood near their cottage. This was cut down. The stump did not sliver much when the tree fell, so it required but little work to smooth off the top of the stump with an ax, so as to make it ready for future operations. Then with a two inch auger, a series of holes were bored and by patient labor a cavity of proper size and smoothness was formed, so that this was a nether mill stone, or mortar. The next thing desired was a pestle. This was constructed by cutting off a section of the fallen tree and forming it into a cone, the base of which was a trifle smaller than the mortar. Through a hole near the apex of this cone a piece of a small sapling was fitted and the mill was complete.
The corn was put into this novel millstone to be ground, two persons by grasping either end of the handle and by raising and dropping the pestle, the corn was ground, making real good meal from which first rate samp or Johnny cake was made.
Said Mrs. Straight; “That samp and cake tasted good.” “Another thing,” she continued., “we ground lots of corn for customers”. “Did you take toll, Mrs. Straight?” “On No, we made them do the grinding themselves; they had the use of the mill, free.” Few, if any of our Wellsville people will remember Mrs. Straight. More will call to mind Uncle Billy Weed who lived in a log house on the lower side of the road from where the Stillman greenhouses now (1894) are.
Phillipsville, that Uncle Billy referred to in my first letter, is now Belmont, and the DePeyster place is the present residence of E. V. Sheerar at Riverside. The Haunted House, often alluded to, once stood near the home of Mrs. Robertson, Riverside. But I learn from good authority that the “Haunted” business is a foolish rumor without any foundation, in fact.
H. M. Sheerar