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The Bark Covered House
Chapter 26. How I Commenced for Myself—Father's old Farm in 1843

WHEN I commenced for myself, father gave me a strip across the two lots on the south end of his farm, south of the Ecorse, containing forty-two acres and lying on the town line between Dearborn and Taylor, thus fulfilling (as far as I was concerned) what he had said long before; he wanted land for his children. I supposed, at the time, I should build a house, live there and make it my home. I had a chance to trade it off even, for eighty acres of land lying half a mile west of it, subject to a mortgage of one hundred and fifty dollars. I made the trade, paid the mortgage and afterward built on the place, the house in which I now live. [This house (now demolished) stood at the junction of Academy and Eton Streets, near the center of Section 33, Dearborn Township. The site is perhaps three- quarters of a mile west of the original bark-covered house of 1834.]

Father bought back the forty-two acres which he had given me, and he easily paid for it—two hundred and fifty dollars. Then he had the old farm together again, with money left, which he had saved by his frugality and industry. He made up his mind that he would buy another place, which was offered for sale, out one mile toward Dearbornville, beyond the clay road. It had a good barn on it and a comfortable farm house. He moved there in 1848 and lived on one of the most beautiful building places in the town of Dearborn and on the corner where three roads met.

About this time, my second sister became acquainted with a young man, by the name of Michael Nowlin, and married him. She was more lucky than most young ladies; she did not have to change her name, only from Miss to Mrs. Nowlin. She went with her husband to live near Romeo, Macomb County, Michigan. He was a farmer there. Father did not like to have one of his children so far away. I told him it would be well for him to let my brother- in-law and sister have ninety acres of the old farm, which would make them a good home. So he offered it to them, and they came and settled on it, and lived where I had lived so long before, with my father and mother, brother and sisters, in the woods of Michigan.

Father let them have it on easy terms, and gave Sarah what he considered was her portion as far as he was able. My brother- in-law easily met the payments, paid for his place and had a good farm. He, being a good business man, soon had his farm clear and things comfortable around him. But he was not entirely satisfied with the place, though it was the best of land, and he was a man capable of knowing and appreciating it. He thought he was laboring under some disadvantages. In the spring of the year the clay road was very bad and he had hard work to get out and in. School privileges were also poor, not such as he desired for his children, and he made up his mind to sell his place. He sold it in two parts, at a good advantage. The last piece for over a hundred dollars an acre. He bought him a nice house and lot in the city of Ypsilanti, is nicely situated there and has given his children a liberal education. So ninety acres, of what was once my father's old farm, were disposed of.

After I had left home, a few years passed and my brother, John Smith Nowlin, was married and started out in life for himself. Father let him have the west seventy acres of the old farm. He, being the youngest son, father desired to see him settled comfortably in life near him. He gave him the place so cheap and on such easy terms that he was able to pay for it in a short time, right off of the place, with the exception of what father gave him as his portion. Father said he gave him his part. He soon had as nice a little farm as any one need wish to own in the State of Michigan, and he had it clear from debt. After my brother-in-law moved away my brother became lonesome, dissatisfied and was not contented with so good a place. He sold it in two pieces and bought a farm out within half a mile of Dearbornville, beyond father's. He moved on to it and lives there now right in sight of the village.

It is not my intention to delineate, at any length, the circumstances of any of the family unless in connection, with my father and mother, or the old place where we first settled in the wilderness, where I labored so hard, in my young life, and took so much interest in my father's getting along during his trying days in the woods of Michigan.

I was along there, by what was father's old place, one day this winter, 187$. I looked at the barn and saw that it was getting old. I noticed the two little orchards, some of the trees had disappeared and others looked as if they were dying, with old age. I saw young orchards on the place, which were set out by other hands, those who knew but little of us. I thought things looked strange; that there was not one of the Nowlin name who owned a foot of the old farm. I suppose to this day no part of it, nor the whole of it, could be bought for less than one hundred dollars an acre, probably not for that.

I counted the dwelling houses that have been built on it, there are five of them; three very good frame houses, well painted and built in good style, the other two houses are not so nice. I noticed there were four good frame barns on it. The old place is inhabited by an industrious race of men. It is divided up into German farms,

Men may cover mother earth with deeds and mortgages, call her their own and live upon her bounty, little thinking of the hardships, toils and privations, that were endured by those who preceded them. How they labored, toiled and sweat, sometimes without enough to eat and not knowing where the next meal was coming from. I know this was the case with some of the first settlers.

In view of the hardships and sufferings of the pioneer and his passing away, I exclaim in the language of another, "This earth is but a great inn, evacuated and replenished by troops of succeeding pilgrims."

"One generation passeth away and another generation cometh, and man here hath no continuing city."

NOTE.—Since this was written, I have learned that I made a slight mistake in regard to the forty-two acres, of the old farm, which father gave me, as it passed through other hands before my brother and brother-in-law came in possession of it; but it was finally divided as I have stated.


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