Autobiography of a Pioneer Woman

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This autobiography of Mary Cary was published by the Henry County Historical Society in 1996. I don’t know where they got it.

This brief autobiography speaks for itself. Waitsel Munson Cary, Mary’s father, was the founder of Knightstown, and Mary’s marriage to Asa Heaton on February 11, 1830, was the first one to take place in the town. Asa Heaton, born in 1797 near Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Ebenezer and Joanna (Sutton) Heaton, was, with his brother Daniel, one of the first settlers on the site of Knightstown. One account says that they were there trading with the Indians as early as 1818. The sketch is given just as Mary wrote it.

Mary Cary
“Mary M. Cary, daughter of Waitsel M. Cary and Nancy Rock Cary, was born Nov. 7, 1811 in Springfield, Ohio in Clark County. Urbana was the county seat, but said county was divided when I was quite small. I was about 14 years old when we started West. (This was in the month of May, and arrived at West Liberty. We was one week on the road and it rained most all the time. When near Richmond, Ind. we went in (……????)

May 27th, 1825, we left Springfield, Ohio. First day we traveled to Fairfield 14 miles. 2nd day we came 16 miles and staid at Mr. Harter’s. (or Hattons) 3rd day came 12 miles. On the fourth day came 5 miles. Staid at (….????) 5th day came to Centerville, and the 6th day came to Mr. Goddard’s 23 miles. 7th day arrived at West Liberty, Ind. 18 miles. This is on the line between Henry and Rush Counties.
It rained most all the time. When near Richmond, Ind. lightning struck a tree and shattered it so large limbs fell all around us. We had two wagons and one small one that was called a Dandy wagon. We had our cows and horses and small stock with us. My mother was shocked but not scarcely hurt. Sister near by had an umbrella handle broken which she was holding over her. The people from the village, now Richmond, came running to us expecting to find us badly hurt. Maybe some killed, but the Lord had his protecting arm over us, which we praised him for it. When we arrived at the farthest (or fortieth) mile we could go no farther and had to send for my Uncle Samuel Cary to come and help us. He came with his ox team and got us through the mud which was very deep. Oxen was our sure engines for heavy loads. They hardly ever failed.
We was six days on the road, coming about 88 miles. There was rejoicing when we walked in the town of West Liberty, even among strangers. We was very tired, nearly worn out, but after a day or two, having in the meantime washed and cleaned up, we felt more like our selves and was ready for work.
We moved in a log cabin in Rush County. In this cabin (sic;) thair was a (sic;) flore about 16 inches above the ground, so that acted as chairs. No fire place. Made our fire (sic;) wheare the chimney ought to be, and waited for the unloading of our wagons. Uncle Sam Cary let Father have one of his fields east of Montgomery Creek. We all went to work, soon got our garden in and in six weeks time we had plenty of beans. We raised a fine garden, potatoes, pumpkins and such truck as was raised in gardens. We raised a splendid crop this season. Our family was mostly girls, only one boy, so you see we girls had to do a great deal of out door work. It was either work or go without something to eat in the winter time. Oct. 1, 1827 we moved to the village of Knightstown. Father put up a frame building about (sic;) whear Gid (Sid) Bass Barber shop was or afterward was or just west of the Shipman Hotel is now. After the roof and siding and flooring was down, we moved to our house, and opened our hotel in 1836. Father sold out to Humphry Scillon (?). I was married to Asa Heaton Feb. 11th, 1830, Judge Anderson officiating. We went to housekeeping in a room 12 by 12. This was a kitchen. The other part of the house was not finished. You see it did not take much room to live in. We had no piano or sideboards. Simply had one bed, two chairs, one table and a bench. Cooked in a fireplace. When we had company part of them would sit on the bed and some on the bench and I would do the cooking. We often had company. People was more social then than now. Does the housewife of today think she could entertain in a room 12 by 12 as we did? I am afraid not. Think she would faint at first thought of it. But we was happy and healthy, wasn’t running after a doctor every few days for (sic;)amangery sickness.

We fixed up two more rooms by the next spring. The first chair we ever owned, Asa bought of a man of the name of Cook. He was a Quaker and lived about Walnut Ridge in Rush County. He was on his way to Greensborow to attend a Quaker Meeting and was on horseback and earring this chair on his back so he would have something to sit on. Asa asked him if he would sell it. He said yes and they soon struck up a bargain. So that was our first chair. A Mr. Leonard started a chair shop where Swain now lives. After they got to making chairs we soon had plenty. I think Sammy Charles and brother bought Mr. Leonard out and they manufactured chairs and I think bedsteads.
Samuel Cary built in 1825 first sawmill in West Liberty. Was killed in mill supposed by something falling on him. Was found in short time afterwards by Mrs. Tribbet. He was made a Mason at Connersville, Ind. Don’t remember what year. The Lodge was notified of his death two weeks afterwards. The came from Connersville and went through with the burial ceremony. They carried a bed the shape of a coffin so to represent a funeral.
First saw-mill and grist mill was built by Abram Heaton 1825 on Blue River located now what is known of the Cal White Mill, north of Raysville.

First preacher at West Liberty Mr. Rice, came in 1825. Next preacher, Stephen R. Biggs, came in fall of 1825, left in fall 1826. I joined church in spring 1826 at West Liberty. Preaching in Sammy Brouris house, Methodist. I was converted short time after this at a camp meeting held now on the farm of James Nails. Same year meetings first held at Samuel Barrett’s, next at old man Janus. (Thomas Janus father) Next at Allen Jones’, next at a small school house, 1832, located on Mrs. Hellers lot corner of Jefferson and Jackson Streets. School house was built by Asa Heaton. This school house now became a home for the (sic;) Methodis and (sic;) Presbertons. Bro Fraley, local minister, organized first Methodists Prayer Meeting in this same school house. There was a classes formed at this time, Leader was Bro, Wright, and a man of God. We had splendid meetings and much good done. One had to have a ticket to get in the room where Love Feast was held. A person that did not belong to church could not attend more than twice unless they joined the church. But this was done away with after awhile and anyone could go. Bro. Biggs only got $25.00 per year.

Ebenezer Heaton — b. June 22, 1750 — died Jan. 12, 1837.
Joanah (Sutton) Heaton — b. May 21, 1761 — died Jan. 4, 1837.
Children of above couple:
1. Asa — d. Mar. 18, 1857, m. Mary M. Cary, Feb. 11, 1830, d. Apr. 31, 1904.
Children of Asa and Mary Heaton:
1. Abe C. Heaton — m. Laving G. Byrkett Aug. 22, 1860.
2. J.M. White Heaton, m. Sue B. Anderson on May 31, 1865.
3. Waitsel M. Heaton — b. 1840, lived to be 95 yrs. old. M. Viola Scott.”

Asa Heaton died in Knightstown in 1857. Mary remained a widow almost thirty years, until March 26, 1885, when she married Robert Woods (1806-1892), a prominent Knightstown resident whose first wife, Hannah Heaton, was Asa’s sister. Mary died in Knightstown in 1904. She and both husbands are buried in the old section of Glen Cove Cemetery in Knightstown.

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