The Letters of Fannie Robinson Swayne

Fannie Swayne wrote several letters to William McClintock, a Chillicothe Journalist compiling information for the Centennial of Chillicothe in 1898.  Her letters were written to him in 1896 in response to his requests in the Chillicothe newspaper.

From the archives of the Ross County Historical Society
Margins, tabs, abbreviations, spellings, spacing, etc. all duplicated from original letter, but paragraphs have been added for ease of reading.

Springfield, Mo. March 3, 1896

Hon. Wm. F. McClintock

Dear Sir:

I saw in the Chillicothe Leader/G. where you request the Daughters of the Revolution to turn their attention to the early history of the city.  With your permission, I being an ex-Chillicothe girl, and a grandaughter of a Revolutionary soldier, will include myself in the invitation thinking perhaps I can give some very interesting reminiscences of “ye olden tymes.”

As my mother Mrs. Kate Hutt Robinson, widow of the late John J. Robinson, who held office in Chillicothe over forty years, and was one of the oldest members of the Walnut Street Methodist Church when he left, is still living with a memory as bright as a girls.  She was born there May 1st, 1809 in a large two story brick which stood on the south side of Water Street, on the ground now occupied by Reeds Lumber yard.  Her father John Hutt moved there from Westmoreland Co. Virginia in 1801.  Dr. Edward Tiffen and her father were great friends in Virginia.  After Dr. Tiffen had been West some time he went back to Virginia on a visit and persuaded grandfather to sell out, and move to Ohio, which he did, going in company with Dr. Tiffen on his return.

Dr. Tiffen afterwards was elected Governor of Ohio, he was a local preacher in the Methodist Church, as my grandfather was also, being licensed to preach in 1794 by Bishop Francis Asbury.  We still have the Parchment with his, the Bishop’s, seal on it.  During the conference of the Bishops in Kansas City, Mo., several years ago, my mother was offered a hundred dollars for it, but she declined the offer as we prize it highly as a family relic.
Mother received the most of her education from Mrs. Thurman, mother of the late Allen G. Thurman and can remember him as a little boy, as she was four or five years older than he was.  She saw him the last time in 1888, in Columbus, when she was on a visit to Ohio to her sister Mrs. Mary C. Madeira, Mother of the late John D. Madeira.  They used quill pens in those days and Mrs. Thurman made all of them for her sixty scholars.

She, my mother, can remember when the late Senator Wm. Allen came to Chillicothe from Lynchburg, Va. with his freedom suit of clothes in a bundle, he had walked all the way from Lynchburg, and before calling on his sister, he went into a tailor shop just below my grandmothers (Mrs. John Hutt) to change his clothes.  The tailor went into my grandmother’s (Mrs. John Hutt) and borrowed a wash bowl, towel, and comb for him to make his toilet; she says a crowd of children waited to see him as he came out.  Mrs. Thurman was a highly educated woman and helped him (William Allen) with his studies, while he studied law in Colonel Kings Office.

Mr. Watson kept Tavern just below my Grandmothers, Mrs. Hutt, and my mother can remember when Henry Clay stopped there.  Many of the old Chillicotheans can remember the Old Tall Pumps with long iron handles that were in use in those days.
 There was one in Mr. Watson’s yard with a trough under the spout, where his guests would wash, and then wipe their faces and hands on a long roller towel on the porch.  Mr. Watson thought it would never do for Henry Clay to wash at the pump, so he went to Grandmothers and borrowed a bowl and pitcher, towels, comb and a feather bed for Mr. Clay’s room.

Grandfather had a general store and kept the first stock of Queensware ever in Chillicothe.  He was elected Magistrate, or Justice of the Peace, and sold his store in order to attend to his office. She can remember the opening of the Canal; she thinks it was in 1832-33, and the first boat run up as far as Adams Mill, and she and father went on it.  The Late Hon. Wm. Allen was Capt. Of the Independent Blues at that time and was on the boat.  At night, the banks of the canal were illuminated with tallow candles on each side.  She can remember when Mr. Phillips had a quarrel and threw the man he was quarreling with, into the canal.  Then jumped in and helped him out.

At one time, a boat load of Indians landed in front of their house.  My sister Eliza was about four years old, her head covered with golden curls.  Some one told her the Indians would cut them off.  She suddenly disappeared, and her absence frightened them all, as they thought the Indians had stolen her.  When they found her, she was up in the third story room, with her head all tied up with an old rag to keep the Indians from seeing her curls.  “Woman’s vanity developed early.”

She can remember when the Scioto Gazette was first printed down in the Old Pickens House on Water Street.  Also when the M.E. church was built on 2nd St., with its high pulpit.  We have one of Father John Collins silhouettes, a picture cut out of paper. He was one of the old Ohio Preachers.

No doubt many of the Chillicotheans can remember the Harrison Campaign of 1840.  My mothers says they do not have any demonstrations now equal to that.  Father had just built the large three story brick house on Water St.  The third story was all in one large room, not having been divided off as yet.  The citizens all threw their houses open to entertain the crowds of visitors and country people.  My father bought several bolts of sheeting and put straw on the floor; then tacked the sheeting over the straw; then tore off some of the muslin and made them into sheet lengths and ran them together to be filled with straw and thus made into bolsters.

After the crowd were all in bed, father went up and counted 120 sleepers.  For that occasion, mother had a twenty gallon kettle in which she made coffee.  She had three hundred pies, and several hundred ginger cakes baked in the bakery.  She says they would roast whole quarters of beef, a sheep, and a hog at a time in the bake oven.  She says that in the great marching process they had boys and girls to represent the States of the Union, dressed in white, with red, white and blue sashes.  My brother John and sister Mary were with them, and sister still has the badge they pinned on her.  It is very interesting to hear Mother tell of the stirring times they had then.

As every thing pertaining to the Revolutionary War seems to be the most interesting subject now, I will give you a little of Grandfathers History as he lived there so long and is buried there.  His father moved from England in 1760 and bought the Plantation adjoining General Washingtons in Westmoreland County, Virginia.  Grandfather John Hutt was born there, Sept. 5th, 1763.  When the call was made for soldiers, he went with threst, a boy of only 15 years.  He was too small and too young to join the Militia, so he joined Capt. John Mazaret’s Artillery Co. and remained with him three years.  When he was discharged at Richmond.

Afterwards he enlisted in the militia and was promoted to 1st Sergt.  He was near and within a days march of the disaster of Col. Beauford by Col. Tarltonl he was in the reserve guard when Gen. Gates was defeated by Lord Cornwallis near Camden.  They retreated under the command of Genl. Green from the Pee Dee into Virginia.  He was discharged by Capt. Christopher Roan in the city of Richmond in 1781.  Among the most conspicious and memorable events connected with his campaign was the surrender of Lord Cornwallis in Yorktown.  His colonels were Porterfield and Nelson of Virginia.

After his return home his father employed an English tutor as his teacher and he was a finely educated man.  He was given a cerftificate for Pension by C. W. Byrd of Chillicothe, April 16th , 1813.   He died Aug. 25, 1833 and was buried down in the old Cemetery but a few years since cousin J. D. Madeira had the remains of all the friends removed to Grandview Cemetery.  Hoping you will find something interesting in all this for your Centennial History,

      I remain yours,

       Mrs. Fannie Swayne
       875 South St.
       Springfield, Mo

They say here, my mother is the only Revolutionary Soldiers daughter now living here.  If she lives until May 1st, next, she will be 87 years old.

Uploaded on April 8, 2000