The article concerning the Bliss family’s trip from New York to Michigan, as related by Henry Bliss, continues:
We settled on the northwest quarter of section nine, Riley Township, Clinton County. When we got here we had no money to buy any food with and nothing to live on. The country was new and wild. Lots of wild animals and game. Where we made our mistake was when we brought no gun with us. None of us were hunters. We could have had plenty of game and deer for meat if we had a gun and ammunition. No one had told us about it. We knew nothing about the country that we were going to. Most of our neighbors here were as hard up as we were. Morris Boughton was the only one who had anything to sell and all he had was potatoes. We bought potatoes of him for 25¢ a bushel and paid for them by chopping cord wood at 25¢ a cord. We had to have some money so we took road jobs, that is, cut the trees in the road and built causeways of logs through the low places. Competition was strong and we had to bid low to get the job. We also burned logs and gathered the ashes and made black salts and sold it for $2.50 a hundred. And when you got the money you were not sure that it was worth anything. It might be worth something today and tomorrow be worthless.
We made a lot of sap troughs out of split logs. The winter was mild and we made sugar nearly all winter. This gave us some money to use and all the sugar we needed for the family. There was no house on the land that we bought, so we moved in with Philo Peck. We had one room and boarded ourselves. Some of us slept on the floor in Bill Peck’s house. Just six weeks from the time that we came here, we had a house up made of logs and moved into it. It was 20 by 30. We cut a nice white oak and split out shakes for the roof, and plank for the floors, both up and down stairs, all out of this one tree. We had no cow the first winter that we were here. The next summer Horatio and Augustus worked for a big farmer near Portland for $13 a month. As soon as they had earned enough they bought a cow of this man that they were working for. They also bought grain and potatoes of him until we could raise some ourselves. That gave us something to live on. They also bought and paid for a yoke of oxen in the fall of 1849. That gave us our first team to work with. We would chop in the winter and clear it off in the summer and sow it to wheat in the fall. The first clearing we did by hand, as we had no team. In that way we cleared a few acres and sowed to wheat in the fall of 1849. The first wheat we raised we took to Dewitt to mill for flour for our own use. [Note: David Pitney Bliss married Amanda, daughter of Philip Philo Peck, five years after staying in the Peck home.]
David [Note: our ancestor] was a good mechanic. He made bob sleighs out of roots of oak stumps that had the right crook for sleigh runners, ironed them off, and we had something to go with. The first wheat that we sold Horatio took to Detroit on these sleighs. On his last trip he sold the sleighs. That gave us more money to make a payment on our place. The first summer that we lived here we rented ten acres of land of Morris Boughton. We planted it to corn and potatoes. Mr. Boughton let us use his team to do the work and we got half of the crop for our share.
We had six years to pay for the place, so after we had land enough cleared we raised wheat and sold it. There was no railroad here, and Horatio had to haul it to Detroit. When the railroad was built to Jackson, we hauled it there. Later the Grand Trunk was built to St. Johns, and then we hauled our stuff to St. Johns and Fowler. The second year that we raised wheat to sell, there was a wet harvest in the eastern part of the state, so the farmers from there came her and bought our wheat. We got $1.50 a bushel at home.
Watch for the installment in the next post.