Pioneer History by Richard C. Schmal

Paul Hathaway

(from the Apr. 29, 1981, Lowell Tribune, page 9)

Pioneer Paul Hathaway came from Ulster County, New York, and homesteaded in Illinois, just across the line from West Creek area in Indiana. He pioneered in Illinois, with many ties in the south part of Lake County, Ind. He was a descendant of Arthur Hathaway I, who came to America in 1630.

Paul Hathaway was born in 1788 in Fairhaven, Mass., across the river from New Bedford. He died in Yellowhead Twp., Kankakee County, Ill. in 1883.

His mother, Esther Toby (1763-1847), when a young girl of fourteen, fled from New Bedford when it was attacked and burned by the British in 1778. She took with her a small child which had been left in her care. His father, Arthur Hathaway III (1756-1833), served in the army and Paul and his brother were soldiers in the War of 1812.

After the war, Paul married Melissa Landon and settled in Shandaken, New York. Following are the names of their ten children: Ashsah (1819-1836), Adeline (1824-1826), William N. (1820-1906), Edwin (1822-1840), Marilla (1826-1915), Lucy Jane (1828-1876), Eliza Ann (1830-1910), Heman L. (1831-1894), Emeline (1834-1903), and Melissa (1836-1915), all born in New York, Melissa Landon Hathaway died in 1836.

In 1837, Paul married Sally Cornell. The following spring they started overland for Illinois, arriving in June 1838, a time of severe drought in this area. With them were eight of their children, Ashsah and Adeline having died in New York.

The following story of their trip from New York to Illinois is taken from one written by daughter Marilla (Seager) in August of 1907, at the age of 81: "So packing what they could in a covered wagon, started the third day of May, 1838. On getting up in the morning found the ground covered with snow. Father (Paul) thought he would wait until the next A.M., but we started after dinner and overtook the others the next day.

"We had three horses to draw our wagon. Had a chest with provisions in the front end, as long as the box was wide. In the back end a cupboard for clothing. The children in between. The chest in front served a double purpose for provisions and a seat for the driver.

"In that way we traveled until we got to Buffalo, then loaded all on a boat and crossed Lake Erie to Detroit. It was rather a rough time and we were nearly all seasick. We were on the boat two days and nights. The road we had to travel after landing ran thru a low marshy country, with corduroy bridges. Often the men would have to straighten the logs before we could cross.

"We children would get tired of riding and would get out and walk a while. Sometimes the older ones would carry the younger ones. Mr. Morrison, of the family that came with us, would carry his youngest a good deal. Father would get the privilege of staying in houses nights, making our beds on the floor. Mother would do some cooking in the A.M.

"I remember our staying over Sunday in Michigan City (Indiana) with a family that came from near where we lived in New York. I remember some places, such as Door Prairie, White Pigeon, and Pleasant Grove. The next I remember is crossing West Creek."

The man she mentioned was Archibald Morrison, who arrived in Illinois June 7, 1838, with the Hathaways.

Paul Hathaway's first home was a log building started for a school, but unfinished. The settlers who were there had raised nothing up to that time, depending on supplies from the Wabash country, and the mill at LaPorte. Marilla mentioned that her father brought the first stove to the area, buying it at Michigan City on the way to the mill.

Continuing with her story, Marilla says, "Father failed to get his house on account of sickness that was common to new settlers (ague, acute chills and fever) probably owing to the poor water and food. The water was from a pond nearby, and when that dried up we went to the creek, a half mile away, where there were springs on the bank.

"Our meat for the summer was bacon, and poor at that. That hogs ran wild an feasted on the mast (fruit of forest trees) and nuts."

The Hathaway family lived in the log school house until February, 1839, when the settlers again wanted it for a school. One of the settlers decided to go back South, so the Hathaways rented their cabin until they could build.

Later they built a log cabin about 18 x 24, with bedroom and recess below; chamber in two rooms, bed in recess with a trundle bed underneath. Their principal crops were wheat, oats and corn, with some failures caused by hard winters or frost. Wild geese and ducks became plentiful some times of the year.
Prairie chickens were available most of the time.

In 1839 the first school in their area was the log building which had been used by the Hathaway family for their first home. The teacher was Merib Johnson, a young lady who came west with her parents the fall before. The next school was at Yellowhead Grove, near an Indian burial ground, in early days marked by a flag an staff. Chief Yellowhead is said to be buried there. When the weather was warm students had class outside, using the Indian Mound for seats.

The third summer, in 1840, after a mild rainy winter, Paul began to raise flax, which he did for several years. He built a machine for dressing it, his wife using a wheel for spinning and making cloth for dresses for summer wear. The cloth was also used for grain sacks. That same year they erected a small log building a few feet from the cabin, to be used as a kitchen, with fireplace and brick oven.

Last updated on February 29, 2012.

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