Historical Accounts of Trees in Northeastern Ohio

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edfrank
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Historical Accounts of Trees in Northeastern Ohio

Post by edfrank » Sat Aug 06, 2011 8:35 pm

Historical Accounts of Trees in Northeastern Ohio

Ohio in 1788.
A Description of the Soil, Productions, Etc., of
THAT Portion of the United States Situated
Between Pennsylvania, the Rivers Ohio
and Scioto and Lake Erie.
Translated from the French
with notes and introduction by
John Henry James.

COLUMBUS, O. :
A. H. SMYTH E. J888,

http://www.archive.org/details/ohioin1788descri00cutl

...The great level plains which one meets with here and which form natural prairies, have a circumference of from twenty to fifty miles, they are found interspersed almost everywhere along the rivers. These plains have a soil as rich as can be imagined and which with very little labor can be devoted to any species of cultivation which one wishes to give it. They say that in many of these prairies one can cultivate an acre of land per day and prepare it for the plough. There is no undergrowth on them and the trees which grow very high and become very large "only need to be deprived of their bark in order to become fit for use. The kinds of timber fit for the purposes of the joiner which grow most abundantly in this country and the most useful of trees which are found here are the sugar-maple, the sycamore, black and white mulberry, black and white walnut, the chestnut, oaks of every kind, the cherry tree, beech tree, the elm, the cucumber tree, ironwood, the ash tree, the aspen, the sassafras, the wild apple tree, and a great number of other trees of which it is impossible to express the names in French.

General Parsons has measured a black walnut near the Muskingum, of which the circumference, five feet above the ground, was twenty-two feet. A sycamore measured in the same way had a circumference of fortyfour feet. One finds on the heights white and black oaks as well as the chestnut, and nearly all the trees we have just named, which grow there, very large and to a proportionate height. One finds both on the hills and on the plains a great quantity of grapes growing wild, and of which the inhabitants make a red wine, which suffices for their own consumption. They have tried the experiment of pressing these grapes at the settlement of "" Saint Vincent,^* and the result is a wine which, by keeping a little while, becomes preferable to many of the wines of Europe. Cotton of an excellent quality is also a product of the country.

The sugar-maple is of great value to a region situated as this is in the interior of the country. It furnishes enough sugar for the use of a large number of people, and for this purpose a small number of trees are usually kept by each family. A maple tree will produce about ten pounds of sugar per year, and it is produced with little difficulty. The sap of the tree flows in the months of February and March ; it becomes crystalized after being boiled, and the sugar is equal in flavor and whiteness to the best Muscavado.

All parts of this country are abundantly supplied with excellent springs, and one finds everywhere both small and large creeks, on which mills may be established.' These brooks, useful for so many purposes, have the appearance of being disposed by the hand of art in such a manner as to contribute towards procuring every advantage which can make life desirable.



Map and Description Northeastern Ohio
Rev. John Heckewelder.
1796.
Reprintedfrom the Magazine of Western History, Cleveland, Ohio.,
CLEVELAND, O.
William W. Williams, 145 St. Clair Street,
1884.

MAP AND DESCRIPTION OF NORTHEASTERN OHIO, BY
REV. JOHN HECKEWELDER, IN 1796.

http://www.archive.org/details/mapdescriptionof00heck

Among the many manuscript treasures of the Historical Society at Cleveland is a description of Northeastern Ohio, by Rev. John Heckewelder, the famous Moravian missionary, accompanied by a map also drawn by him. They were presented to the society by the daughter of General Moses Cleaveland. Father Heckewelder was born in England in 1743. His father was born in Moravia, and went to England in 1734 as an exile in the service of the Moravian Church.
heck_map.JPG
I will now endeavor to give an account of the Quality of the Soil of this Country : and will begin with the Land on the Cujahaga River itself. Next to the Lake the Lands in general lay in this part of the Country, pretty high, (say from 30 to 60 feet high) except where there is an opening by a River or Stream. These banks are generally pretty level on the top, & continue so to a great distance into the Country. The Soil is good and the Land well Timbered either with Oaks & Hickory, or or with lofty Chestnuts. On the Cujahaga River are, I verily believe, as rich Bottoms, or intervals, as in any part of the Western Country. The Timber in these are either Black Walnut, or White Thorn Trees, intermixed with various other Trees as Cherry, Mulberry, &c. The ground entirely covered with high Nettles. In such Bottoms, somewhat inferior to the above, the Timber is principally lofty Oaks, Poplar, or Tulip tree. Elm, Hickory, Sugar Maple yet intermixed with Black Walnut, Cherry, Mulberry, Grape Vines, White Thorn, Haw-bush &c &c Ash &c Wild Hops of an excellent quality grow also plentifully on this River.

The richest Land on this River lieth from where the road crosseth at the old Town downwards. Within 8 or 10 miles of the Lake the Bottoms are but small, yet the Land rich, from here upwards they are larger & richer. At the old Moravian Town as marked on my Map, they are exceedingly rich. Some low bottoms are covered with very lofty Sycamore Trees. The Land adjoining those Bottoms within 10 or 15 Miles of the Lake, is generally ridgy, yet level & good on the top, excellently Timbered. Thro' these ridges run numbers of small Streams, & sometimes large Brooks ; the water always clear and with a brisk current. I have traced small Streams to their Sources, where I have found a variety of excellent Springs lying off in various directions, (see the run at the Moravian Town).

From these Lands upwards towards the old Town, & along the path towards the Salt Spring ; the Country is in general pretty level ; just so much broken as to give the Water liberty to pass gently off. There is a remarkable fine Situation for a Town, at the old Cujahaga Town ; & there can be no doubt of a large Trading Town being established here, as both a Road to Sandusky & Detroit crosses here : as also the carrying place between the two Rivers Cujahaga & Muskingum must be at this place. Some miles above this Old Town there is a fall in the River. The Rock which runs across may be about between 20 & 30 feet high. No Fish can ascend higher up, or get over this Fall, tho there are Fish above it. Just under the Falls the Fish crowd together in vast numbers, & may be taken here the whole year round. At the more Easterly Crossing of this River as the Path runs ; (the distance of which I do not exactly recollect, but think it between 15 & 20 miles) there is a most remarkable large Square Rock in the Middle of the Stream, which may at a future day, well answer the Pier of a Bridge, (see A this mark on the map) at this place there is a pretty large Plain on the Northwest Side of the River and in several other places in this Country there are similar Plains or Flatts. On these the Iand is rather thin in comparison to the other: yet not so that it would not bear good (irain. There are also some Swamps in this Country, yet I have not seen one, which might not be cultivated, and make good Meadows.

Here and there I observed small groves of Pine, but never went to see of what kind they were. I supposed them only to border on some small Lake or Pond. There are some beautiful small Lakes in this Country, with water as clear as Chrystall, & alive with Fish. In these Lakes as well as in Cujahaga River Water Fowl resort in abundance in Spring & Fall. Between the head Waters of Beaver Creek & the head Waters of Cujahaga, the Country is rather more broken, yet not too much for tillage. The Land is good.

From the big Deer Lick on Beaver Creek to the Salt Springs (a distance of about 16 miles) the Country is rather of a colder Nature ; but thinly Timbered, & much of a wet Clay ground. A comp'y of gentlemen have obtained some Years ago a Title to this Tract of Country comprehending the Salt Spring. I cannot leave Cujahaga without mentioning one Circumstance, viz. That when I left the Moravian Town on that River which was the Eighth day of October 1786, we had not then had one Frost yet, whereas all the Weeds & bushes had been killed by the Frost some Weeks before, on the dividing Ridge. Ind'n Corn, this year planted at the above mentioned place on the 20th day of June ripened before the Frost set in. The Cujahaga Country abounds in Game, such as Elk, Deer, Turkey, Raccoons &c In the Year 1785, a Trader purchased 23 Horseload of Peltry, from the few Indians then Hunting on this River Of the Country to the Southward of Cujahaga & between the dividing Ridge & Tuscorawas. where the line strikes across, I cannot give a precise description, having only seen this Country in part, yet what I have seen has been pretty generally good, except it be some barren Plains, and large Cranberry grounds. Otherwise off the River, and on the path from thence to Mahoning Old Towns, I saw vast bodies of very rich Upland, well Timbered, sometimes level Land, & then broken, especially the latter on the head Waters of the Beaver Creek towards Mahony.

From Tuscorawas Northerly for 12 or 15 Miles I thought the Land very good, & observed extensive Meadows on the Banks of the Muskingum. But I think near the dividing Ridge the Country is rather Colder. The Country is in some places off the River interspersed with round Nobs or Hills, with short yet thick Trees upon them. The water of this Country is also clear & good. I will insert the description the late Geographer to the United States gives to this part of the Country, copied from a Pamphlet he had printed in London in the Year 1778, which runs thus :

" The Muskingum is Navigable with large Batteaux or Barges to three Legs and by small ones to a
"Lake at its head. From thence, (namely from three Legs) to Cujahaga, (the Creek that leads, to
" Lake Erie) the Muskingum is muddy, and not very swift, but no where obstructed with Falls or Rifts.
"Here are fine uplands, extensive Meadows, Oak and Mulberry Trees fit for Ship building, and Walnut,
"Chestnut, & Poplar Trees suitable for domestic service Cujahaga furnishes the best portage be-
"tween Ohio and Lake Erie : at its mouth it is wide enough to receive large Sloops from the Lake. It
"will hereafter be a place of great importance."

John Heckewelder.
Bethlehem Jany. 12th 1796.
Mr. John McNair Esqr.

.
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Steve Galehouse
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Re: Historical Accounts of Trees in Northeastern Ohio

Post by Steve Galehouse » Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:16 pm

Ed-

Very interesting. The area described is the same area where Rand and I have found exceptional trees of of many species, so even 200+ years ago it was recognized as such. It's interesting that there was mention of "black and white mulberry"---only red mulberry is native here, and rather infrequent---I wonder if one of these "mulberries" was really basswood.

Steve
every plant is native somewhere

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edfrank
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Re: Historical Accounts of Trees in Northeastern Ohio

Post by edfrank » Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:32 pm

I am wondering about the reference to white thorn tree by Heckewelder. What species do you think he was talking about? Honey Locust? Is it native?

Ed
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Steve Galehouse
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Re: Historical Accounts of Trees in Northeastern Ohio

Post by Steve Galehouse » Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:51 pm

Ed-

Yes, honeylocust is native here, but very infrequent now---perhaps it was more common back then. Not sure how the appellation "white" would come into play.

Steve
every plant is native somewhere

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edfrank
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Re: Historical Accounts of Trees in Northeastern Ohio

Post by edfrank » Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:25 am

Steve,

I don't know. I was just trying to think of trees with thorns. Honey Locust and Hawthorn came to mind. Do you have any other suggestions? There is a a whitethorn tree, a variety of hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. Reverend Heckwelder was from England, but left when he was just 10 years old to Bethlehem PA. He first studied to be a cooper, then a missionary. We don't know how well he knew his trees.

One source dealing with druid customs http://www.whitedragon.org.uk/articles/hawthorn.htm talks about hawthorns in England:
The most common folk name we have for the Hawthorn is the May Tree. The may blossom appears on the tree at the beginning of May in the south of England, at the time of the Beltane or May Day celebrations, when people and houses were decked with may blossoms ("bringing home the May"). The popular rhyme "Here we go gathering nuts in May" is thought to have been sung by the young men, gathering not "nuts" (which do not grow in May) but "knots" of may blossoms for the May Day Celebrations.
Ed
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Steve Galehouse
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Re: Historical Accounts of Trees in Northeastern Ohio

Post by Steve Galehouse » Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:12 pm

Ed-

I think "white thorn" likely is a Crataegus species---there are quite a few native to the area, some with smaller fruit. I imagine the ''haw-bush'' he mentions is a larger fruited form more similar to the European species. "White thorn" could also possibly be one of the native plums, which have spiny branches and white flowers.

Steve
every plant is native somewhere

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tsharp
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Re: Historical Accounts of Trees in Northeastern Ohio

Post by tsharp » Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:13 pm

Ed, NTS: The South Branch of Potomac drainage in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia has a Thorn Creek which is formed at the confluence of the Whitethorn and Blackthorn Creeks. I will try to find out how/what/why they are so named.
Turner Sharp

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