William Lowing in Vermont
In the fall of 1779, William went "west" to Vermont, which was virgin territory, to look for a home site. He was then 21 years old. About a year after this on December 24 1780, he married Anna Haight. He was 22 and his bride 16. She was the daughter of a strict Quaker, a reader in the Friends Church which served the people of Danby and Tinmouth Townships in Vermont. They were married by a Minister outside of the Quaker faith and when Anna's father was told of it, he protested that no one could be rightfully married outside the Friends ceremony. William then, to placate his father-in-law, took Anna to Danby and they were again married, this time by a Baptist minister, the later date, being December 24, 1780. At his time a certificate was given, which was burned in the Lewis fire. After marriage, William bought a 40 acre tract of land from the original Hensdale allotment. Here he built a log house with barn and out buildings, late in 1780 or early 1781. Mary was born here (2nd child). He sold this place to James Armstrong about 6 months after he returned from the war.
The story of the furniture of this first home, showed William to be a genius. There was little factory made furniture. That brought from England, people would not buy because of its source and the colonists had little money, so they made their own. William selected for theirs a second growth of hickory. When cut, it was straight and of even grain. The greater part of this furniture, was made from one tree. The wood was smooth and white, and even later when it was washed with soap and water, it would take on its original whiteness. For a table he split out slabs about 3 inches thick and dressed them down to two inche s. He made two tables, two beds, stools, benches, and chests to pack things away. These were of cedar. Then he began the harder work of making chairs and bric-a-brac shelves. Two chairs of the Windsor type passed down from son to great grandson, being finally destroyed by descendants who did not appreciate their worth as heirlooms. Both William and his wife were large and these chairs were made to fit them. They were comfortable and had only to be washed and they shown like polished ivory.
Though William had always intended to return to see his mother in Jamaica - the revolution, his marriage and growing family, kept him from doing so and as he never heard from her he supposed that the Captain had reported him as dead. He died in the fall of 1802, leaving a wife and nine children.
Several stories of his death seem to disagree, but the one most agreed upon says that he died of Typhoid fever. He had worked in the Lowlands near the mill, where the swamps with their stagnant water and gasses, caused Malaria laden mists to rise. His home was a fame structure, to be built on a hillside to be out of reach of flood water from the river. The old well is still to be seen and it is within this century (1915) that the last of the fruit trees were cut and burned. The old house was sold and the timbers used in building a house on the main street in Peru, New York.
William had planted many fruit trees after moving to New York State, the scions of which were brought from New Hampshire, and it was from these trees that scions were brought to Michigan later, in 1850, by his two sons Isaac and Stephen. Pearmins, Spitzbergens-Winesaps and large Pippins were the varieties.
Anna Haight Lowing was a big woman- a descendant of Simon Haight who arrived at Salem, on the "Abigail" in 1628. Joseph G. Haight, was a member of the Artillery Company formed by Alexander Hamilton and Samuel and Joseph signed the Declaration, calling for a mass meeting at Deerfield New Hampshire, April 2, 1776, calling for armed resistance to England. Simon Haight was made a Freeman at Dorchester Massachusetts in 1633.
September 13, 1797 William Lowing articled 105 acres of land to Elisha Sherman, for 230, but payment was not made until winter. William remained in possession until fully paid. He then moved to Peru, New York were we find him paying taxes at the fall collection. He with other Quaker families had been invited to make their homes at Peru. Most of the Danby pioneers had come from Rhode Island and these were the families invited to settle at Peru.
The earliest churches were Friends - followed by Congregational and Methodist churches.
Robert Taylor opened a "Select" school and charged $1.50 per pupil for a term of three months, and it was to him that the Lowing children went for their first instruction. The Friends made the trip from Danby, Vermont to Peru, New York, by ox team over very rough roads, just wide enough for an ox team to pass - deep ruts left from the previous summer were now frozen hard. There were few bridges and what there were, of the crudest, while most of the streams had to be forded.
There were few horses in the cavalcade - the majority of the teams were oxen, and in many cases carts took the place of more convenient wagons. Some oxen carried loads on their backs and often when a stream was deeper than usual from the spring freshets,
the wagons had to be carried over on the backs of the oxen -- having been taken apart for the purpose. When all were across, the wagons were assembled and loaded. The people had crossed on trees-felled across the streams.
This trip-by making a bit over ten miles a day, took ten days. Most everyone preferred walking, to bumping over the rough roads. The days progress was slowed by quagmires, where the wagons sunk to deep that other teams had to be used to pull them out. Also the pioneers drove their sheep and cattle, which had to be driven slowly. To most of the children, this trip was a lark, - James, William's oldest son and Mary his eldest daughter, were 16 and 15 respectfully. Deborah was 11 and Santon 9.
Even the 7 year old Susan, remembered parts of the trip. Isaac was 3 years old, and while he walked some, he bounced along on the luggage, mostly. To many of the women, this trip was a hardship. The season was early and some weren't dressed warm enough to stand the exposure of ten days in the open.
After arriving in Peru, William bought 100 acres of land, a short distance from the "Paper City". which people had laid out for the Village. It was well located, and soon north and south, as well as east and west roads were surveyed with a road on each side of his land. The land also abutted the Little Sauble River. William had learned, during the time he was "bound out" to the lumberman, a good deal about the advantages and operations of a saw mill. He erected a saw-mill on this river and also placed in it stones so it could be used as a grist mill.
This mill must have made money, for he soon paid for his 100 acres and bought 156 acres east of his farm. At his death in 1802 (6 years later, he only owed $30,00 [sic] on the mortgage on this 156 acres.
William's mill was the first in Peru, but later a man by the name of Harrington built a saw-mill directly across the small river from it. The nature of the land along the river was such that after Harrington had used his water right there remained 2 feet of water for the Lowing mill, which made the Lowing right more valuable and this mill was free of debt at the time of William's death.
At the first election after he moved to Peru, he as elected assessor, an office he held for six years, or until his death. .
In those days most of the land was unfenced and unbroken and was used for grazing, by the pioneers. Their crops had to be fenced against cattle and these fences were often makeshifts and were easily broken down by cattle. So --"Fence-viewers" were appointed to pass upon what was and what was not a fence. William was made head of the Fence-viewers, on April 2, 1799, which office he held until his death.
In those days a road builder was called a "Path Master". As a road bounded his property on four sides, with a ford crossing one of them and another road leading to his grist mill, he was made Path-master and spent much time keeping the roads in passable condition.
Schools as well as homes were built of logs or rough boards, with few windows and were usually heated by fireplaces. The desks were home made, with backless benches.
There were few schools to a county as there were often not enough children to form a school. Some person, in the district would open a private school in his home, and it was such a school that the Lowing children attended. The early teacher had, little more than a Fifth Grade education. Only a small percentage of settlers could read or write. William had had enough education before leaving Jamaica, to be able to do both. They had no pencils, but used quill pens and ink, made from berries. Few letters were written, but William assisted in making deeds and in their recording.
Men teachers were more successful than women, for the pupils were often big, strapping fellows of seventeen or older, and it was necessary to subdue the pupil before he could be taught. Tales are told of pupils carrying the teacher out and locking him in an outside privy, thereby causing his dismissal. Land was cheap and cultivating it was easier than teaching, so that many good teachers became farmers instead.
There were so few schools in Peru County, that one Board had supervision over the whole county and they were looked to for every means of operating the schools. Money to pay the teachers was the most difficult to find, so that teachers boarded with the families of the children, living a set time with each family. Married men were usually furnished their food and little else. Sometimes no payment except crops.
In 1800, William Lowing, Elisha Arnold, and Elmer Lott, were chosen Peru County School Board. They held this office during the years until William's death.
posted by Trevor Lowing