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The Bark Covered House
Prefatory Note, Key and Preface

Prefatory Note

I LITTLE thought when I left my farm yards, horses and cattle in the care of other men, and began to write, that I should spend nearly all the winter of 1875 in writing; much less, that I should offer the product of such labor to the public, in the Centennial Year. But I have been urged to do so by many friends, both learned and unlearned, who have read the manuscript, or listened to parts of it. They think the work, although written by a farmer, should see the light and live for the information of others. One of these is Levi Bishop, [Levi Bishop came to Detroit from Massachusetts in 1835 to follow his trade of shoemaker. On July 4, 1839, fate intervened in his career in the guise of an exploding cannon, which blew off his right hand. He thereupon deserted the last for the law, and eventually became a leading member of the Detroit bar. He devoted much time to public education, and the Bishop Union School was named in recognition of this service. As regent of the University of Michigan he was influential in procuring the dismissal of President Tappan, one of the ablest presidents in the history of the University. Bishop manifested much interest in historical subjects, and in poetical composition. In 1870 he published Teuchsa Grondie, a 10,000-line composition which he himself believed to be "the longest and most elaborate epic poem ever yet produced by an American author." A few years later he published another poem of 8co verses dealing with the recent Civil War. He was an able lawyer, a useful and successful citizen, and a less than mediocre poet.] of Detroit, who was long a personal friend of my father and his family, and has recently read the manuscript. He is now President of the "Wayne County Pioneer Society," and is widely known as a literary man, poet and author.

W. N.


SKETCH of the lives of John and Melinda Nowlin; of their journeying and settlement in Michigan. Thrilling scenes and incidents of pioneer life, of hopes and fears, of ups and downs, of a life in the woods; continuing until the gloom and darkness of the forest were chased away, by the light of civilization, and the long battle for a home had been fought by the pioneer soldiers and they had gained a signal victory over nature herself.

Hope never forsook them in the darkest hours, but beckoned and cheered them on to the conquest of the wilderness. When that was consummated hope hovered and sat upon her pedestal of realization. For better days had come for the pioneers in the country they had found. Then was heard the joyful, enchanting "Harvest Home;" songs of "Peace and Plenty."

Crowned with honor, prosperity and happiness—for a time.


I HAVE delineated the scenes of this narrative, from time to time, as they took place. I thought at the time when they occurred that some of them were against me.

I do not place this volume before its readers that I may gain any applause; I have sought to say no more of myself than was necessary.

This is a labor of love, written to perpetuate the memory of some most noble lives, among whom were my father and mother who sought a home in the forests of Michigan at an early day. Being then quite young, I kept no record of dates or occurrences, and this book is mostly sketched from memory.

It is a history of my parents' struggles and triumphs in the wilderness. It ought to encourage all who read it, since not many begin life in a new country with fewer advantages than they.

It is said that "Truth is stranger than fiction." In this I have detailed the walks of ordinary life in the woods. In these pictures there is truth. All and more than I have said have been realized. My observations have been drawn from my own knowledge, in the main, but I am indebted to my sisters for some incidents related. Together, with our brother, we often sat around the clay hearth and listened to father's stories, words of encouragement and counsel. Together we shared and endured the fears, trials and hardships of a pioneer life.

This work cannot fail to be of deep interest to all persons of similar experience; and to their descendants for ages to come who can never too fully appreciate the blessings earned for them by their parents and others amid hardships, privations and sufferings (in a new country) the half of which can never be told.


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