Evan & Elizabeth Davis
Add this to
n.a., 'Hewitt's Fork, Jackson Co., O', The Cambrian, Vol. I, No. 6 (1881), pp. 221-6.
Hewitt's Fork by one of its boys
This neighborhood is in Jackson Co., Ohio, and is a portion of the larger neighborhood of Horeb. It gets it name from a small creek which runs in a narrow valley and empties into the "Black Fork of Symmes Creek."
This narrow valley, with its green meadows and their serpentine hedge of willow and white birch, which betray the whereabouts of the brook; the hillside grain fields, pastures and groves; and the cosy homes nestling among the orchard trees, formed twenty years ago, an enchanting and picturesque landscape.
Tradition says that the creek was named after a famous hunter by the name of Hewitt.
The people who lived in this valley, when the Welsh first came in, said that Hewitt's cabin stood on the Joshua Evans homestead, a few rods to the east of the house.
The history of the Welsh in this valley begins with 1837. At that time, emigrants from Virginia had settled along the creek and cleared some of the land. In the summer of 1837, David Edwards (Gellyhir), bought a farm on the creek - the farm owned now by the heir of his son-in-law John E. Evans. Later in the same year, Joshua Evans, his father, the venerable David Evans (Y Wern), and his brother-in-law, George Morgan, arrived. The day after their arrival, Joshua bought the S.W. of S. E. of Sect. 17. In a few days he bought, for his father, the N.W. of N.E. of Sect. 20. These lots are now owned by Jenkin D. Davies. This was the first Welsh settlement made on what is known as "Hewitt's Fork." The following year, 1838, T. T. Jones, so well-known from his connection with Jefferson furnace, being its Agent for many years, bought land adjoining David Evans on the west.
The next year after that 1839, the old patriarch, Moses Morgan, bought land adjoining Joshua's on the west. His son, Daniel Morgan, and his son-in-law, John J. Davies, bought north and south, joining their father - Daniel buying out Thomas Jones. Daniel E. Morgan another son-in-law, bought land, I think, in Sect. 8, directly north of John J. Davies's; and north of him, in 1841, Peter Morgan, who had married Mrs Joshua Evans' sister, bought land. About the same time, John Hughes settled east of David Evans.
Joshua Evans' sister Margaret married John Thomas, and they settled south of Daniel Morgan. Joshua's other sister married, and with her husband made her home with her father.
Thos T. Jones, after selling to Daniel Morgan, bought land east and north joining Joshua Evans.
These are the families which have a claim to be regarded as the first settlers of the Hewitt's Fork neighborhood. This sketch will be limited to their history.
At first there was no place of worship nearer than Moriah, a chapel eight miles to the east; but it was not long before the old log chapel of Horeb church was erected. These families, on Sabbath forenoons, attended at preaching in this chapel; and Sabbath School in their own vicinity on Sabbath afternoons.
No sketch of the neighborhood will be complete without something more than a mere mention of this school. It has been the alma mater of the young people whose parents settled in he place, and its fostered children, though scattered far and wide, and attached to other interests, yet revert with pride, and with tears to the lessons, the admonitions, and the instruction of this grand old Sunday School.
It was at first held at the house of Joshua Evans, but in 1845 the neighbors erected a log-house which they tacitly dedicated and consecrated to Sabbath school and prayer meetings. For more than thirty years Sunday school was held in it on Sabbath afternoons, and prayer meeting on Wednesday evenings, summer and winter, "seed time and harvest," unless meetings of greater importance were held elsewhere. To be of greater importance, they must needs be very important.
It is well known that Welsh children learn to read their native language in the Sunday school, as outside of he Sabbath school very little opportunity for knowing the Welsh literature was presented, thirty years ago, to the people who were settled on Hewitt's Fork. Therefore, the School in the old log building was an infant class, a literary institution, and a theological seminary, all at the same time. In it the children were taught to decipher the hieroglyphics of the Welsh alphabet. In it the mature minded studied the "atonement," "foreordination," "original sin," "effectual calling," and "perseverance in grace," and diligently "searched the Scriptures if these things were so."
In it the youth were made familiar with God's doings in the olden time, and stimulated to store away precious truths, whose hidden influences, silent and gentle as the dew, in after years imparted strength, vigor and vitality to mind and soul.
The Bible was the text book from which history, philosophy, and theology were taught. The interestingness of the teaching, especially in the history, was not marred by attaching a "moral for us" after each episode.
My experience and observation, in ten years of almost uninterrupted S.S. teaching, lead me to believe that the little boy was correct when he said, that a story with a "moral" is like a spoonful of sugar with medicine in it.
The manner of teaching in most classes was Socratic, and each pupil was made to feel that the interestingness of the lesson depended largely upon his asking questions. This created, among the most active minded of the boys and girls, just enough sensation to lead them to read inquisitively whatever they did read, and to extend their information. The older people did not seem to fear free and independent investigation, on the contrary, I can recall many instances in which were encouraged to do our own thinking and to draw our own conclusions. However, we were admonished to search disinterestedly for the truth.
I am inclined to think that our fathers did not foresee the result; yet their teaching created in the young a thirst for knowledge. In after years, this thirst became obvious from the large number that attended colleges and other schools of high grade.
The classes were graded according to the ability, or, sometimes, the ages of these scholars. None were permitted to enter a higher class without passing a rigid examination. Each class had its separate lesson. Only the classes composed of older pupils studied all of the Bible. The younger were confined to its history, and especially to the Gospels. Pupils, on promotion from the infant class, were put to study the first chapter of the Gospel according to John."
Soon after the school was organized, it was discovered that some were specially adapted to teach certain classes. Therefore Daniel Morgan was for years the teacher of the first class; Thomas Jones, of young ladies; Thomas Morgan, of young boys; and Joshua Evans was the drill-master of little boys and girls whose problem of life it was to solve the mystery of letters and words. Moses Morgan was the Superintendent and John J. Davies the Secretary of the School.
A programme of the exercises may not be very interesting to the general reader; but to many, who have been absent for years, but still look back, with eyes suffused, to their sweet childhood days on Hewitt's Fork, and to the happy hours spent in the old school house, it can not fail to be of intense interest. The school as opened by the teacher of the class which, on the preceding Sunday, had repeated the Ten Commandments. He would repeat a stanza and "line" it - two verses at a time - for the school to sing. Then he would read a portion of Scripture and lead in prayer. Some had the pretty custom of selecting from the Scripture, which they read, a portion of the chapter that contained the text of the morning sermon. Scarcely had the prayer been finished when the hum of the school began as the pupils commenced the lesson. This hum, as the pupils became more deeply engaged in their work, would increase in intensity as the hum of bees when they begin o swarm from the hive. At the end of an hour from the opening of the school, Moses Morgan, the Superintendent would rise, and strike a seat with his Bible, and call out that the time for study must cease. What he really said was "Haner yr Ysgol" (half of the school), meaning that half of the time allotted for the session had elapsed. A stanza, or a song selected by the young people, would be sung. After the singing, the hum would again begin, as the classes recited their psalms and chapters. No record of verses was made, except in the infant class. There was, often, among the different classes of younger pupils, quite a competition as to the number of chapters recited. Everything to teach the Bible seemed to have been adopted, and put into practice by teachers and parents.
When all were through with this reciting of psalms and chapters, Moses would again call out "Darllen heibio," meaning that the reading would entirely cease, for some of the adult classes would resume their study after "Hanner yr Ysgol."
Promptly one of the classes would rise and repeat the "Commandments." Then all the children of the three younger classes would circle around the stove to recite a chapter of an elementary catechism called "Rhodd y fam" (The Mother's Gift). The recitation consisted of questions and answers, some one, usually T. T. Jones, or "Joshua," was appointed to ask the questions that were in the book, and also as many outside the book as he could form to puzzle the children and other pupils.
Frequently, this exercise was very enjoyable, and always profitable. The tact of these two men was very great, and the children strained every intellectual fibre to gather from memory and imagination pertinent and plausible answers to these questions.
The next exercise was dull, except to those who were deeply interested in theology. It was a chapter of a higher catechism called, from its author, "Hyfforddwr Charles," (Charles' Instructor), recited by some family of the school. If there be any one of Welsh descent, who does not know the nature of this catechism, let me inform him that it was of "Calvin Blue" from first to last, and it was in that school reverenced second after the Bible, Charles' Bible Dictionary being the first.
The last exercises marred, for many a young man, the enjoyment of all the rest. If he were interested in the lesson, a recollection that this last ordeal was to come chilled his enthusiasm. Was he charmed with the music? - the consciousness that he was to close the school with prayer disenchanted him as the visit of the son of Maia disenchanted Æneas.
The older people, zealous to cultivate piety in the young, made the closing prayer the occasion to "break them in" to pray in public.
As soon as a young man or a boy was received into full church membership, he was importuned to make this prayer. The blessed old people would coax and urge and plead until he would comply. After the first time, he would be expected to take his turn with the others, in closing school. There was no opportunity for one to miss his turn, for all other young men were, on account of the task this prayer was to them, jealous guardians of their turns. Stay away he could not, for, it must be remembered, that it was a disgrace to stay home, unless detained by one's own sickness, or the serious illness or death of one of the family.
Closely connected with the Sabbath School was the "Teachers' Class," which the teachers, and older boys and girls held in the long summer Sunday afternoons, after the school was dismissed. In this class, some portion of the Bible was critically studied. The Epistle to the Romans was a favourite subject. Sometimes, however, some point of doctrine was selected, and then discussed in all its bearings, from its centre to its extremest ramifications. The members of the class, especially if any doctrine happened to be a cause of difference in opinion, made very careful and extensive preparation. The next meeting would witness a hot discussion and often become the scene of a fierce logomachy. But, the Bible was studied, and the validity of the different doctrines was examined with the minutest scrutiny, and the stronghold of the Calvinist theology bombarded with the hardest logic. Sometimes the young men felt that there was a breach made in the walls, but all being friends, besiegers as well as defenders, the breach was again built up, and the old citadel presented a solid front once more. All this was educating the minds of the young by sharpening the perceptions and storing the memory.
Before concluding this sketch, I shall add a brief mention of each one who attended college from these families, beginning with the family of Daniel Morgan. His eldest son is Moses, who is well known in Jackson and parts of the adjacent counties as a teacher of high merit, and for a long time as school examiner in Jackson county. During the war he served as orderly sergeant and afterwards as second Lieutenant.
He has also been the Ass't Manager of Jackson furnace, and the Manager of Hope Salt Works, Mason City, W. Va. He is now a successful coal operator near Jackson, O.
His brother, Elias, is the courteous and accommodating ticket agent and telegraph operator in Oak Hill. Both brothers attended college and have been successful teachers.
John J. Davies as the father of Daniel Jewett Davies, an alumnus of Marietta College and of Lane Seminary.
Of the family of D. E. Morgan, Moses E. is the lone survivor. He and two brothers attended college and were very successful teachers.
Peter Morgan was the father of the Rev. Jno. P. Morgan, Van Wert, Ohio, and of D. P. Morgan, Middleport, Ohio. Both were good teachers. D. P. attended college at Athens. While John was a member of the Hewitt's Fork S.S., he was the oracle and pride of the school. Many a young man points to him as the beau ideal who created in him reverence and love for education.
Joshua Evans' son David is an alumnus of the Ohio University, and is a professional teacher. For seven years he has been professor in Merom College, Ind., and its president ad interim. At present, he is principal of the Putnam Collegiate Institue, Zanesville, O.
Two of Thomas T. Jones' sons attended college, - Eben and John. Eben, during the latter part of the war, was First Lieutenant, and acted as Captain of his company, the Captain being a staff officer. He is now a rich stockholder, living in Jackson, Ohio.
Stephen Morgan, the son of Thos. Morgan, is one of the present school examiners of Jackson county.
Though the sisters of Joshua Evans moved away from the neighborhood before their children had grown, yet a brief mention of them in this connection will not be out of place. One of the sisters is the mother of Rev. Daniel Thomas, pastor of the Welsh C. M. Church of Radnor, O.. He is an alumus of Marietta College and of Lane Seminary. His brother David also attended college. The son of Joshua's other sister is D. Davis Evans of Horeb, well known in "Jackson and Gallia" as a successful contestant and critic in the literary contests of that settlement.
Thus it will be seen, that, with one exception, each of the original families sent one or more sons to college, and of these, three became alumni, viz.: D. J. Davis, D. J. Evans, and Daniel Thomas. I doubt if any rural neighborhood, of any nationality, in the country, can boast of as great percentage of educated young men, as this obscure spot on the Hewitt's Fork can boast.
The farms on which two graduates and nine others who acquired superior education were reared, lay adjacent to each other, and amounted in the aggregate to less than one section of land. Such a remarkable fact was not fortuitous, and, to see that it was the fruitage of what was done in the modest old log school-house by such men as "Joshua," and Thos. Jones, and Daniel Morgan, takes but little penetration on the part of any one, who has been under the influence of the encouraging words, the enthusiasm, and the discipline of these men.