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MRS. MARY SLAVENS, 90 YEARS OF AGE, TO IOWA IN 1866

Resident of Cincinnati Tells Story of Her Life, Starting In Her Ohio Home

Mrs. Mary Slavens, 90 years old, of Cincinnati, has contributed the following interesting history of her life.

I was born in Jackson county, Ohio in 1844. Mother's maiden name was Mary Hayth. She was born in Old Virginia. Later her parents moved to Ohio where in 1840 she married William Maybee. Their ages at that time were 15 and 36 respectively. To this union eleven children were born. I was next to the oldest child.

My parents lived on a farm adjoining Jackson town when I was born. When I was seven years of age we moved to another farm. Here I started to school in a frame building at the age of 7. I was the youngest student; many were of age. We had a man for our teacher. I lived one-fourth mile from school. There were 3-month terms a years; one in summer and one in winter. The climate was mild. It might snow one day but would melt the next. When I was 10 we moved to Sciota county where we had a fine apple orchard. We lived here two years. We next moved to a farm on a cross-roads in Jackson county. Here father built a hotel, store and livery stable. He had a bar in the store, over which he sold wine, whiskey, and brandy. Later a postoffice was added. The postoffice still goes by the name Maybee's postoffice. The above was a good investment but father got to drinking a little more each day in handling the liquor. He decided he must move or become a habitual drunkard. He sold out; we moved on a small farm which he soon sold for a supply of groceries and dry goods. Then, we moved back to Sciota county on a peach farm where we raised over three hundred bushels of peaches a year. We hauled them to Portsmouth, Ohio, and received a dollar a bushel for them. I lived here until I was married.

Met Husband

I first met my husband when I was only seven. He was twelve. My father and his father had been friends when they were younger. Father and mother and the three oldest children were out looking at a farm one day. We stopped at the Slavens farm for dinner. Dinner was over before "Joe" returned from hunting stray cattle. When he came in, I was standing at the back of mother's chair, one arm resting on her. He later told me he thought I was the prettiest girl he had ever seen. We didn't meet again until I was sixteen. It was at an apple paring. The boys peeled the apples and the girls cored them. When I came in, the man of the house who was sitting next to Joe got up and said, "I have been saving a place for you." Joe said, "Yes, I need some one to core my apples." After the paring we had refreshments of pie, cookies, and sweet cider. Then we played games and sang songs. We walked home by couples. It was two miles. Then he had to walk four miles to his home. I had walked home from church with young men before, but from then on I never went with anyone else. I didn't see him for two weeks. One Sunday he and some other couples stopped to get a drink. (They were very dry.) He came to the house to get a cup. I got him a cup, went to the well and got them a drink. When I started back with my cup he said, "Miss MAYBEE, can't you go to church tonight?" I replied I hadn't thought about it but if these other folk were going father and mother wouldn't care. So we went to church together. When we came home he left me at the door but he made a date for the second following Sunday. From this time on he came every other Sunday until the last six months of our engagement when he came every Sunday. He would come about four o'clock and stay for supper.

Married 1862

At the age of 18 and 23 we were married at my father's home in 1862, just two years after we started going together. It was customary for the father to build a house on his farm for his sons to bring their brides to until they could get a place of their own. This was called the weaning house. My mother gave me my bedding, a new bed, and part of my dishes. My father bought us a new bureau with a mirror in it which cost twelve dollars. My father bought us a set of silverware and my father-inlaw a set. My mother-in-law gave me a part of my dishes and a bed from her home. My husband bought a safe, cookstove, 40 piece cooking set, table and six chairs. My father-in-law gave Joe a team of oxen, a cow and a few hogs. My father gave us a cow and some chickens. A neighbor had given me a setting of turkey eggs that spring, so I had some half-grown turkeys.

The weaning house had only one large room. There were two doors and three windows in it. There was a fireplace at one end. We raised fruit, peaches, strawberries, apples, corn, oats, and hay. We lived here until Joe went to war. We had been married one year and one-half when a bonus of three hundred dollars was offered to volunteers for the Civil War.

Husband to Army

Joe joined the army. I sold our stock and lived with both our folk. Joe drew thirteen dollars a month. He sent it all home to me and I saved it. When he came home we had nine hundred dollars. I got a letter from him every week. He wasn't sick or wounded during service. Joe was in the 1st. Ohio Light Artillery Battery L. He rode the middle horse on a cannon wagon. He had one horse shot from under him. One time he and six other men were around a campsite cooking supper when a shell lit in the fire. Two men lost one leg and another had an arm shot off. In 1865 Joe came home. We moved back into the weaning house.

Then to Iowa

It was one year later that we came to Iowa. Three families came with us whom we had known a long time; James Galford John Peters, and Mr. Spraggling. We traveled in covered wagons, starting the 15th of September and arriving the 15th of October. We started leading a cow, but she wore out the first day so we sold her. We saw no Indians or highwaymen along the way. We forded many rivers but crossed the larger ones on ferry boats. It rained on us a part of the way. At Keokuk we crossed the river on a steam ferry. Joe had bought our farm in Wayne County before we started. There was a frame house and twelve acres of broken land on this 160 acre farm. We got one-third the corn crop that fall and Joe put up some slough grass for our winter's feed. We bought three hogs at three cents a pound for our winter's wheat. We bought a cow and six head of sheep. It was a hard winter; Joe cut wood for our fuel. The next year we hired a man with a yoke of oxen to break and fence 80 acres of sod. From then on we had regular farm work.

In a few years my husband bought an adjoining 80 acres and started feeding cattle. In 1870 the railroad was built through Seymour. Then we shipped our cattle to Chicago every fall. We prepared our own wool to weave our cloth. We sheared our sheep, took the wool to the creek, washed it and dried it on the grass. Some times people would have a "picking party." Just invite in all the neighbors, have them stay for dinner and pick the year's supply of wool. Then we took it to Genoa to be carded by a machine. Then I would spin the wool on a wheel and reel it into skeins. Then I would die the wool.Blue and black were the usual colors, but red was not uncommon. I would twist the wool and knit the stockings, gloves, and mittens for the family. We wore wool stockings the year round except on Sunday in the summer. We had a neighbor who had a loom. She wove flannel material for dresses, shirts, etc. Twill material for blankets, jean cloth for the men's trousers. The jean was woven with a cotton chain which was bought in town.

Adopted Son

I had lived in Iowa one year when we took a boy three and one-half years old to raise. Green's father was dead and his mother worked out. I had been here six years when I received word that my sister was critically ill in Ohio. We got our mail from Genoa, usually once a week. I went to Ohio on the train from Seymour, accompanied by my brother-in-law, John Peters and family. Two days and one night later I arrived home to find Jeanette was dead. They were having her funeral which I went to immediately. I remained in Ohio four weeks, during which time I persuaded my folk to return to Iowa with me. My sister who had died left a baby girl two years old. She came west with my folk. My father bought a farm near ours which my brothers tended.

I had been married eight years when a girl was born to us who died in a few hours. Six years later a second girl was born on October 25, 1876. She was named Clara Frances. We had just completed a new eight-room house. Dr. Hollingsworth, of Seymour, was our doctor at that time. In two years another girl was born, dying at birth. In the spring of 1878 my father and mother died two weeks apart. I had two sisters and two brothers who continued to operate the farm until one died and the other married, but my sister's daughter Delia, came to live with me. In 1884 John Green was married to Nancy Harris, a neighbor's daughter. Also in 1884 my son William Blame was born.

Antioch Church

In 1883 we gave an acre of ground and three hundred dollars toward the building of the Antioch Church, which still stands five and one-half miles south and west of Seymour. It stood just across the road from our house. My husband took up the subscriptions which amounted to over fifteen hundred dollars. I had joined the church while in Ohio at the age of 14. My husband was rather proud that our names were the same as the Savior's parents names, Mary and Joseph. When our son was three and one-half years old my husband died of pneumonia. He was sick one week. Burial was made in the Tharp cemetery near Seymour.

In the spring I had a sale which netted me $2,000. I lived on the farm three years, then sold it for $23 an acre. I moved to Allerton with $900. At that time I received a back pension of $300 and $12.50 a month for me and my children. I lived here six years. My daughter Clara married Fred Mathers. One child was born to them named Reva. I sold my place in Allerton and moved to Niffin. I bought a home and there I attended the depot and hung a warning light on the railroad track. For this I received $10 a month. I stayed there six years, sold this place and bought a farm four miles northwest of Cincinnati. I remained there until William was 20. My daughter and her child lived with me. We traded our farm for two houses and lots in Cincinnati, one which I still own. We kept one cow and one team which William used to haul coal with. We had lived here one year when William went to barber school in Kansas City, Mo. He traded his team and wagon for a barber shop in Cincinnati where he still lives.

When William was 27 he and Rhoda Bowen were united in marriage. Their children were six boys, Joe, William, Charles, Kenneth, Thomas, and Donald. My daughter died in 1920. I lived in the same house in Cincinnati until I became disabled in 1931. I now live with my son, grandson and granddaughter by turns. I draw a pension of $45 a month, and am enjoying comparatively good health though I am in a wheel chair because of a broken hip suffered January a year ago.

Centerville (Iowa) Daily Iowegian, February 17, 1934.