Pliny A. Durant (ed.), The History of Union County
Ohio (Chicago: W.H. Beers, 1883) presents the following biographical
sketch of Otway Curry with some of his poetry:
It is impossible, in this volume, to give an adequate
sketch of Mr. Carry, for the thousamd particulars which might be
included can only be dwelt upon in an extended account of his life,
such am only he who is most intimately acquainted with his character
and career is competent to prepare.
Otway Curry was born March 26, 1804, on the site of
what is now Greenfield, Highland County, Ohio. and was the son of
Col. James Curry, a veteran officer of the Revolution, who came
with his family to the territory now included in Union County in
1811. Otway Carry was a pupil in the log schoolhouse near the home
of his boyhood, and also received much instruction from his parents,
of a higher order than that imparted by the half-educated teachers
whose services were in demand among the pioneers-even though they
performed a good work in their way. The father was summoned to Chillicothe,
a member of the Legislature, in 1812; the eldest son went out with
the army to do battle for his country, and the rest of the family
remained upon the farm under the superintendence of the prudent
and patriotic mother. Alone in the wilderness, surrounded by savages,
they were never molested, though often alarmed. On one occasion
their horses showed every indication of fear; their dogs barked
furiously, now rushing into the cornfield, and then retreating with
bristling hair, as if driven. The family, concluding that Indiana
were near, prepared to fight as well as pray. The mother, in marshaling
her forces, stationed young Otway and his brother Stephenson on
guard, Otway at the house corner, and Stephenson at the bars, with
loaded guns at a rest, and charged them to take aim and fire as
soon as they saw an Indian. Fortunately, there was no attack made
upon the domestic fort.
As the boy grow to man's estate, he read the small
but choice collection of books in his father's library; and, before
he came of age, he attended a select school in the neighborhood
taught by Mr. C., a farmer of good education. In 1823, being determined
to learn a trade, he went to Lebanon, Ohio, and there learned the
art of carpentry. He was subsequently located a short time each
at Cincinnati and Detroit, and later at Marion, Ohio. In company
with Henry Mason, both possessed of a romantic nature, he made and
launched a skiff at Millville, a small village on the Scioto River,
and descended that stream to it its mouth, proceeding thence down
the Ohio to Cincinnati. At the latter point he engaged passage for
himself and a box of tools, on a flatboat, and voyaged slowly down
the Ohio and Mississippi to Port Gibson, where he spent one year.
About this time he summoned courage to offer anonymously some verses
to the newspapers, among which were his sweet poems, "My Mother,"
and "Kingdom Come." His lines won for him admiration at
the outset, and it never diminished in degree during all the subsequent
years. Returning to Cincinnati, he contributed more freely to the
press, over the signature of "Abdallah," and at this time
formed the acquaintance of William D. Gallagher, who was induced
to seek, upon perusal of his stanzas, "The Minstrel's Home." This acquaintance was improved by time, and unbroken by jealousy,
envy, or serious misunderstanding.
On leaving Cincinnati, Mr. Curry returned to his father's
house, in Union County, where he passed the winter of 1828-29, dividing
his time between the muse and the young lady. Miss Mary Noteman,
who was about to and did, in December, become his wife. In 1829,
he again visited the South, and spent four or five months at Baton
Rouge, contributing, meanwhile, poetical productions both to the
Cincinnati Mirror and the Cincinnati Chronicle. Upon his return,
he settled in Union County and engaged in agricultural pursuits,
which he prosecuted with industry until 1839. While on his farm, he
courted the muses as opportunity offered, and issued some of his
best verses from his rural home. He first appeared in public life
in 1836, as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, to which
he was re-elected in 1837 and 1842. While serving his lost term,
he purchased the newspaper known as the Greene County Torch Light,
and removed to Xenia; he changed the name of the paper to Xenia
Torch Light, and conducted it in an able manDer for two years, when
he sold out and returned to Marysville He had previously, in 1888,
associated himself with William D. Gallagher in the publication,
at Columbus, of a literary monthly magazine called the Hesperian.
It was of a high order, but not being adequately sustained, was
discontinued at the end of the third volume.
Mr. Curry had studied law before his removal to Xenia,
but had practiced little up to that time. He became master of his
profession, and one of his ablest competitors said of him that, "although he entered the law late in life, and practiced it
scarcely ten years, yet he had no superior as a sound lawyer, within
the range of his practice, and bade fair, if his life had been spared
a few years longer, to become an eminent legal mind." In 1850,
he was elected a member of the second Ohio Constitutional Convention,
and with manly firmness and dignity he resisted some of the principles
of the Instrument which that able body elaborated. In 1858, he purchased
the Scioto Gazette, a daily paper published at Chillicothe, whither
he removed. He continued to edit this paper with characteristic
ability about one year, at the expiration of which time, owing to
the failing health of his wife, he sold out and returned to Marysville,
where he resumed the practice of his profession. In January, 1854,
he was President of the Ohio Editorial Convention, at Cincinnati,
and made many friends among the members, who had before known him
only by his writings. He became a member of the Methodist Episcopal
Church in 1848, and continued in that relation until his death,
which occurred February 16, 1855, after a severe illness of two
weeks' duration. A well-known biographer (the late Bishop Thomson)
wrote of him:
"Mr. Curry's name is without a spot. In early
life he labored with his hands, in later years with his mind-always
rendering either moral or material benefit for all that he received.
When called to office, it was by unsolicited suffrages, and, when
placed in power, he was no tool of party. No speeches for sinister
ends, no motion for faction purposes, no empty declamations or busy
demonstrations or crafty schemes disgraced his political career.
Guided by a sense of duty to his country, he walked heedless alike
of private threats and popular clamor. At the bar he was the shield
of innocence, the terror of guilt and the moderator of Justice.
Though liable, like other men, to be deceived by his client and
influenced by his passions, he would not enforce what he deemed
an unjust claim or prosecute a just one in an unjust mode. As an
editor, he manifested the same integrity, though sorely tried. Once
determined on his course, he stopped at no obstacles, heeded no
persecution, and declined no conflict. He was, however, too modest,
unambitious and averse to public life for a leader. He was a man
of great social and domestic virtue. As a neighbor, he was considerate,
peaceful, obliging and hospitable; looking with patience upon the
weakness, and with silence upon the wrongs of others, he cherished
no malignity, fomented no disputes, flattered no patron, and pierced
no victim. Though not insensible to in meanness and injury, he was
too respectful of himself and too charitable toward others to indulge
in any utterances that would give pain, unless they were necessary
to a prudent maintenance of right. He was as far from being a cynic
as a parasite. * * I a his home he found a paradise. Thither his
steps tended when the toils of the day were over ; there, among
his little ones, he talked as a child, he thought as a child, be
played as a child; there, too, he rejoiced with the wife of his
youth, and found in her smiles a recompense for his labors and a
refuge from his cares. He was a man of fervent and unostentatious
piety, and he delighted in simplicity of worship. * * * * Mr. Curry's
chief characteristic was his taste. His mind was in harmony with
nature; he had a relish for all beauty. To him it was not in vain
that God painted the landscape green, cast the channels of the streams
in graceful curves, light ed up the arch of night, and turned the
gates of the day on golden hinges amid the anthems of a grateful
world. No thirst for wealth, no conflict for honor, no lust for
meaner pleasures destroyed his sensibility to the harmonies and
proportions of the universe. From a child, he was fond of nature
and solitude; as he grew up poets were his companions; with them
he sympathized; with them be sat, side by side, in the enchanted
land of song; to see, to enjoy what the idle, the worldly and the
profane cannot-this was not merely his pastime, but his living.
A luxurious melancholy chastened his spirit and mellowed the light
which it reflected. * * * * The love of beauty is usually associated
with the capacity to reproduce it; that is taste, this is art. Mr.
Curry's art was not proportionate to his taste ; it manifested itself
in the sweet music of his flute and the sweeter strains of his verse
; the former is lost in the empty air, the latter will float down
the river of time. His poetry will not be relished by the masses;
it has no paeans of battle, no provocations of mirth, no mockery
of misery, no strokes of malice. It is the song of a religious soul;
faith is the bond which links its stanzas, a faith that brings heaven
near to earth and man into fellowship with angels. Like wine, it
will be pronounced better as it grows older; not because it will
improve, but because the world's taste will. What he uttered we
may suppose was little compared with what he bore away with 'him
into heaven, where he will take up the harp that he laid down too
early on earth."
Rebecca S. Nichols, herself a gifted poetess, and
a friend of Mr. Curry, speaks thus us eloquently of him: "Within
the holy fire of poesy burned clear and bright, refining the material
man and lifting the more ethereal element of our twofold nature
up to the realms of love and faith and peace, where the indwelling
soul preludes the feast of immortal joys. No petty ambitions, no
goading desires for name and fame among the great of earth ever
soiled the bosom of our friend. To more quietly in his accustomed
round of prescribed duties-to enjoy the communion of chosen and
congenial minds-to yield himself up to the manifold enchantments
of inspiring nature—to utter in verse, smooth and musical as his
favorite streams, the live thoughts of the passing moments, made
up the sum of his daily happiness ; and if a shade of Badness, as
of some secret 'and acknowledged sorrow, bordered the placid beauty
of existence, it only added tenderness to the hearts of those who
knew and loved him, and made them more eager to minister to his
simple and unadulterated pleasures."
Mr. Curry was a man of fine form, tall and well proportioned,
possessed a broad, lofty brow, and an open countenance. He wore
no beard and was seen always in office and street freshly and cleanly
shaven. His taste was unacceptionable in dress, in language, in
reading, and, indeed in all things. He was extremely cautious and
careful, both in his speech and his writings, and nothing from his
pen was ever permitted to go to the press until it had first been
scrutinized, word by word, for the sake of correctness and improvement.
From this fact, the criticism which his poems will bear is easily
explained. He was, in all respects, a man which any community could
ill afford to lose, and the sorrow of his friends and relatives
at his untimely taking away wag profuse and most sincere.
Mr. Curry was married December 17, 1828, in the identical
great frame house in which Zachariah Noteman now lives, to Mary,
daughter of Andrew Noteman, of Jerome Township, on Darby Creek.
Miss Noteman, born August 13, 1806, was a very handsome woman, and
was known far and near as the "Darby Beauty." She had
large, lustrous, dark eyes, dark brown hair, and was of a quiet,
engaging disposition. She was for many Years a member of the Methodist
Church, an unassuming Christian woman, and a devoted wife and mother.
Her father, it is said, was opposed to the marriage, because of
young Curry's too great fondness for books, and the improbability
of his ever, in consequence, becoming a thrifty farmer. But the
old gentlemen soon became reconciled and was, until the day of his
death, a devoted friend of his son-in-law. Soon after the marriage,
he gave his daughter and her husband a fine farm on Darby Creek,
adjoining Plain City, at present known as the Jones farm. Mrs. Curry
died at Marysville, Ohio, April 21, 1856, following her husband
to the old Marysville churchyard in just one year two months and
six days. By this marriage there was born to Mr. and Mrs. Curry
but two children, a daughter and a son. The eldest. Mary Aletha,
was born September 21, 1829, and the son, Llewellyn, November, 28,
1831. Mary was married at her father's house in Marysville, June
24, 1846, to William Cooper, merchant, of Xenia, Ohio (deceased
in 1849). She died at her home in Marysville March 18, 1872. Llewellyn
studied law with his father and Hon. J. W. Robinson, and in the
year 1857 he removed to Chicago, where, as successively lawyer,
journalist and broker, he has since resided.
The following are some of Mr. Curry's choicest poems:
TO MY MOTHER.
My mother! though in darkness now
The slumber of the grave is passed,
Its gloom will soon be o'er, and thou
Wilt break away at last,
And dwell where neither grief nor pain
Can ever reach thy heart again.
Sleep on-the cold and heavy hand
Of death has stilled thy gentle breast;
No rude sound of this stormy land
Shall mar thy peaceful rest:
Undying guardians round thee close,
To count the years of thy repose.
A day of the far years will break
On every sea and every shore,
In whose bright morning thou shalt wake
And rise, to sleep no more—
No more to molder in the gloom
And coldness of the dreary tomb.
I saw thy fleeting life decay,
Even as a frail and withering flower,
And vainly strove to while away
Its swiftly closing hour:
It came, with many a thronging thought
Of anguish ne'er again forgot.
In life's proud dreams I have no part,
No share in its resounding glee;
The musings of my weary heart
Are in the grave with thee.
There have been bitter tears of mine
Above that lowly bed of thine.
It Seems to my fond memory now,
As it had been but yesterday,
When I was but a child, and thou
Didst cheer me in my play;
And in the evenings, still and lone,
Didst lull me with thy music-tone.
And when the twilight hours begun,
And shning constellations came,
Thou bad'st me know each nightly sun,
And con its ancient name;
For thou had'st learned their lore and light
With watchings in the tranquil night.
And then, when leaning on thy knee,
I saw them in their grandeur rise,
It was a joy, in Booth, to me
But now the starry skies
Seem holier grown and doubly fair,
Since thou art with the angels there.
The stream of life, with hurrying flow,
Its course may bear me swiftly thro'
I grieve not, for I soon Shall go,
And by thy side renew
The love which here for thee I bore,
And never leave thy presence more.
THE BLOSSOMS OF LIFE.
Life is like a sweeping river,
Ceaseless in its seaward flow-
On whose waves quick sunbeams quiver,
On whose banks sweet blossoms grow-
Blossoms quick to grow and perish;
Swift to bloom and swift to fall;
Those we earliest learn to cherish
Soonest pass beyond recall.
Shall we lose them all forever?
Leave them on this earthly strand?
Shall their joyous radiance never
Reach us in the spirit land?
Soon the tide of life up-flowing
Buoyantly from time's dim shore,
Where supernal flowers are growing,
Shall meander ever more,
There the hopes that long have told us
Of the climes beyond the tomb,
While superber skies enfold us,
Shall renew their starry bloom.
And the bloom that here in sadness
Faded from the flowers of love,
Shall with its immortal gladness
Crown us in the world above.
'Tis autumn. Many and many a fleeting age
Hath faded since the primal morn of Time;
And silently the slowly journeying years,
All redolent of countless seasons pass.
The spring-time wakes in beauty, and is fraught
With power to thrill the leaping pulse of joy,
And urge the footsteps of ideal hope
With Flowery lightness on. In peerless day
Resplendent summer garlandeth the world;
And contemplation through her sky serene
Ascends unwearied, emulous to lead,
To marshal, and to proudly panoply
The votaries of ambition as they rise.
These, with their gilded pageants, disappear,
And vestal Truth leads on the silent hours
Of autumn's lonely reign. The weary plea
Creep o'er the waters, and the sun-brown plain
Oft whispering as they pass a long farewell
To the frail emblems of the waning year,
The drooping foliage, and the dying leaves.
This is the time for care; to break the spell
Of ever-fading fancy; to contrast
The evanescent beams of earthly bliss
With the long, dread array of deepening ill.
The ills of life are twofold those which fall
With lead-like weight upon the mortal clay
Are transient in their kind; for the frail dust
Erelong shall blend with the innumerous sands,
And atoms of the boundless universe,
Absorbed in the unfelt, unconscious rest
Of lifeless, soulless matter, without change.
Save when the far-off period shall arrive
Of shadowy nothingness.
The deadlier ills
That tinge existence with unbroken gloom
Are lost to melioration, for they hold
The ever-during spirit in their grasp,
And in their kind a withering permanence.
To linger in unrest- to be endowed
With high aspiring, endless, limitless!
On thought's unshackled pinions to outrideThe air-borne eagles of
To pierce the surging depths of endless space;
To revel in the stalwart fervidness
Of its careering formal to sweep sublime
Through the far regions of immensity,
Then fall astounded front the dreaming height,
And wake in wildering durance: these are thin
That well may dim the sleepless eyes of care.
And thou, too, Friendship, pilgrim-child of heaven!
The balm that brings the spirit sweet relief
From the keen stings of sorrow and despair,
'Tie thine to give; yet the deep quietude
Of the bereaving tomb bath shrouded oft
The morning prime of beings formed for thee.
THE GREAT HEREAFTER.
'Tie sweet to think, when struggling
The goal of life to win,
That just beyond the shores of time
The better days begin.
When through the nameless ages
I cast my longing eyes,
Before me, like a boundless sea,
The Great Hereafter lies.
Along its brimming bosom
Perpetual summer smiles
And gathers like a golden robe,
Around the emerald isles.
There in the long blue distance,
By lulling breezes fanned,
I seem to see the flowering groves
Of old Beulah's land.
And far beyond the islands
That gem the wave serene,
The image of the cloudless shore
Of holy Heaven is seen.
Unto the Great Hereafter
Aforetime dim and dark
I freely now, and gladly, give
Of life the wandering bark.
And in the far-off haven,
When shadowy seas are passed,
By angel hands its quivering sails
Shall all be furled at last.
THE CLOSING YEAR.
The year has reached its evening time,
And well its closing gloom
May warn us of the lonely night
That gathers round the tomb.
But many a distant year and age
May slowly come and go,
Before the sleepers of the grave
Another spring-time know.
And yet, beyond the gloomy Yale,
Where death's dark river flows,
On sunniest shores our faith is fixed
Our deathless hopes repose.
We trust that when the night of time
Shall into morning break,
We shall, from long and heavy sleep,
With song and gladness wake.
THE TIME TO DIE
Part not when the sleepers wake
At the young day's glimmering break
Part not in the golden light
When the early morn is bright,
And the mist-clouds dark and dim
All around thee sweep and swim;
Through the radiance of the dawn
Let thy spirit linger on.
Part not in the fervid noon,
When the worlds where, swift and soon,
Thou with plumy wing shalt stray,
Seem so far, so fallen away.
Part not in the balmy eve,
When the passing sunbeams leave
Wavering crimson all around,
And the free wind's lulling sound
And the tones of human mirth
Bind thee to the homes of earth.
Rest thee, till the light and power
Of the waning twilight hour
Leave thee, girt with shadows dread
Gathering darkness round thee spread.
Linger till the stars outshine,
With their long and silent line,
Winding up the solemn sky,
To the zenith steep and high;
Then along the fearful track
Let thy spirit wander back,
Where the times eternal came,
Ages without end or name.
Muse upon the millions vast
Of the unremembered past—
Older than the hills their birth,
Changing with the changing earth;
Countless host succeeding host,
Order after order lost;
Planted in existence bright,
On the verge of endless night,
In this flickering life of pain
But a moment to remain;
Hurrying to eternal sleep
In their rocky mansions deep.
Muse upon the coming time,
When the ancient hills sublime
Shall be desolate and sere,
And the seas shall disappear.
All shall be one mighty tomb,
In whose overwhelming gloom
Every form of life shall bow;
And of all that greet thee now,
Many a loved and loving one,
Not a whisper, not a tone,
On the wave or on the shore,
Shall be heard, forevermore.
Musing in the feeble light
Of the still and starry night,
Soon shall thy sad spirit yearn
For the time to part, and turn
From the shadowy things of naught
To the land of life, thy thought
From the things of lowly dust
To the far-off Heaven, thy trust.
Then upon the closing eye
Heavy shall the midnight lie
Then shall be the hour of doom;
Gird thee for its fear and gloom
Calmly from thy cumbering clay
In the silence pass away.
It is said by one who saw Mr. Curry dying, that his
dissolution was even as described in the last lines of the above
poem—calmly and in the silence his spirit left the cumbering clay
and the poet's heart was still.
The following "Fourth of July Ode" was written
by Otway Curry, ["The song as here given is found in The Hesperian
for July, 1838"] and was first song at a celebration held at
Bigelow's Grove, Pleasant Valley, Madison County, Ohio, July 4,
1833, under the leadership of Nelson Cone. The same gentleman led
in singing it forty-five years later—September 27, 1878, at a re-union
of the Curry family on Mr. Cone's farm in Jerome Township:
God of the high and boundless heaven,
We call upon Thy name;
We tread the soil that Thou beat given
To freedom and to fame.
Around us, on the ocean waves,
Our starry banners sweep ;
Around us, in their lowly groves,
Our patriot fathers sleep.
With fearless hearts and stalwart hands,
They bore their eagles high
O'er serried arms and battle brands,
Careering in the sky;
For freedom, in her darkest day,
Their life-blood bathed the plain;
Their moldering tombs may pass away,
Their glories shall remain.
God of the free! Thy children bless,
With joy their labor crown;
Let their domain be limitless,
And endless their renown.
Proclaim the morn of freedom's birth
O'er every land and sea,
Till her pure spirit from the earth,
Even as the heavens are free.
THE GOINGS FORTH OF GOD
God walketh on the earth. The purling rills
And mightier streams before Him glance away,
Rejoicing in His presence. On the plains
And spangled fields, and in the mazy vales,
The living throngs of earth before him fall
With thankful hymns, receiving from His hand
Immortal life and gladness. Clothed upon
With burning crowns the mountain-heralds stand,
Proclaiming to the blooming wilderness
The brightness of His coming, and the power
Of Him who ever liveth, all in all I
God walketh on the ocean. Brilliantly
The glassy waters mirror back His smiles,
The surging billows and the gamboling storms
Come crouching to His feet. The hoary deep
And the green, gorgeous islands offer up
The tribute of their treasures-pearls and shells
And crown-like drapery of the dashing foam.
And solemnly the tesselated hills,
And coral domes of mansions in the depths,
And gardens of the golden sanded sea,
B'end, with the anthems of the chiming waves,
Their alleluias unto Him who rules
The invisible armies of eternity.
God journeyeth in the sky. From sun to sun,
From star to star, the living lightnings flash,
And pealing thunders through all space proclaim
The goings forth of Him whose potent arm
Perpetuates existence, or destroys
From depths unknown, unsearchable, profound,
Forth rush the wandering comets: girt with flames
They blend, in order true, with marshaling hosts
Of starry worshipers. The unhallowed orbs
Of earth-born fire, that cleave the hazy air,
Blanched by the flood of uncreated light,
Fly with the fleeting winds and misty clouds
Back to their homes, and deep in darkness lie.
God journeyeth in the heavens. Refulgent stars,
And glittering crowns of prostrate Seraphim
Emboss His burning path. Around Him fall
Dread powers, dominions, hosts and kingly thrones.
Angels of God-adoring millions—join
With spirits pure, redeemed from distant worlds,
In choral songs of praise: "Thee we adore,
For Thou art mighty. Everlasting spheres
Of light and glory in Thy presence wait.
Time, space, life, light, dominion, majesty,
Truth, wisdom—all are thine, Jehovah I Thou
First, last, supreme, eternal Potentate I"
The following is the famous "Log Cabin Song."
written by Mr. Carry in 1840, and sung at the great Columbus Convention,
on the 22d of February, in that year; tune, " Highland Laddie:"
Oh, where, tell me where, was your buckeye cabin made?
Oh, where, tell me where, was your buckeye cabin made?
'Twas built among the merry boys that wield the plow and spade,
Where the log cabins stand in the bonnie buckeye shade.
'Twas built, etc.
Oh, what, tell me what, is to be your cabin's fate?
Oh, what, tell me what, is to be your cabin's fate ?
We'll wheel it to the Capital, and place it there elate,
For a token and a sign of the bonnie Buckeye State.
We'll wheel, etc.
Oh, why, tell we why, does your buckeye cabin go?
Oh, why, tell me why, does your buckeye cabin go?
It goes against the spoilsmen, for well its builders know
It was Harrison that fought for the cabins long ago.
It goes, etc.
Oh, who fell before him in battle, tell me who?
Oh, who fell before him in battle, tell me who?
He drove the savage legions, and British armies, too,
At the Rapids and the Thames, and old Tippecanoe.
He drove, etc.
By whom, tell me whom, will the battle next be won?
By whom, tell me whom, will the battle next be won?
The spoilemen and leg-treasurers will soon begin to ran,
And the log - cabin candidate will march to Washington.
The spoilsmen, etc.
O what, tell me what, then, will little Martin do?
O what, tell me what, then, will little Martin do?
He'll "follow in the footsteps " of Price and Swartwout,
While the log-cabins ring spin with Tippecanoe.
He'll follow, etc.
Calvin W. McLain, of Jacksonville, Ill.. in a letter,
dated January 81, 1888, mentioning the foregoing popular song, and
the moving of the campaign log cabin from Marysville to Columbus,
I was then but fifteen years old, and of course cannot give as
good & history as one who passed through it at mature age.
The first I knew of the song, 'O where, tell me where was your
buckeye cabin made,' was a short time before the Columbus Convention
of February 22, 1840, in my father's* [Stephen McLain] office
in the court house at Marysville; he was then County Auditor I
think. Otway Curry had written the song, and he had his flute
playing, and my father singing. There may have been others present,
I cannot say; at any rate, that was the first rehearsal, and they
were all wild over it. I was then the printer's devil for the
paper called Our Freedom, and at once secured a copy of the song,
went to work printing it, and was the first to put it in type
and print it without help. The log cabin was then being built;
I cannot recollect about the dedication speeches, etc. When the
start was made for Columbus, it was before daybreak. I had not
obtained permission to go, but secreted myself in one corner of
the cabin until we were well out of town, and then showed my big
bundle of the song; consent was given me to go. In addition to
yourself, I believe one of the Winget boys was along, but think
he did not go through. Well I remember the muddy and toilsome
drive until we struck the pike near Jefferson ; then all was excitement
in that cabin, preparing. for the first grand entry. There we
met the delegation from the west, and the town was full of people
to remain overnight. The song was sung as we drove through the
streets to the hotel, and there was a rush of people from every
direction. On arriving at the hotel the crowd closed in on us
and demanded the song again; once more was not enough, it had
to be repeated, and each verse was followed by such shouts as
roused the country round about. This first public rendering of
the song I cannot better describe than by telling the experience
of a relative of mine from near Urbana. He was a stanch Presbyterian
of the Scottish type. He told me afterward that at this time,
while we were singing the song, he was approaching the town on
his way to Columbus; he heard these shouts at intervals, and,
as he rode along, came to the conclusion that his party (he was
a strong Whig) was going crazy, and he then and there decided
that he would not take any part, or in any manner have anything
to do with such wild operations. But he approached slowly, and
arrived in time to bear the last verse, when he joined with the
crowd an I yelled as loudly, threw his hat as high, and out as
many antics as any one; farther than that, he did not stop it
nor sober down until he got home again. As for myself, in looking
back over forty-three years, I have made music a study in all
conditions of society -social, religious, political and national—and
have engaged wit It a thousand soldier voices in 'Shouting the
battle-cry of Freedom,' during the war, but have never seen anything
to excel the effect produced by this song.
After the song was finished the second time, everybody wanted
a copy of it. I was seated in front with the driver, and handed
out my bill songs; my hands were cold and numb; I could not handle
the money as it rolled in, but by the assistance of all on board,
in a short time the songs were all gone, and until late at night
I was in demand to teach the tune to the purchasers. At Jefferson
we met another log cabin, I think from Springfield, Ohio, but,
it had been built after ours. I claim that the Marysville cabin
was the first built for that campaign. I was in the printing office
at the time and had access to all the exchanges, and this fact
was impressed on my memory. The next day on to Columbus, the Springfield
party singing the questions, and the Marysville cabin boys the
replies. I cannot describe the scenes at Columbus; suffice it
to say that by the time we got there every one of the party was
on the roof of the cabin. Crowds swayed from street to street
to hear that song again; when the procession was over, the jam
around us was so great it was impossible to move, and sing we
had to as long as there was anybody on board. We finally wound
up by driving in front of the Statesman office; the first verse
brought Sam Medary to the window, when we gave him some items
for his next issue. Several printing offices published and sold
the song. The State Journal office, learning I was the first typo,
gave me free all the songs I could saki, and my pockets were well
filled when I got home. I cannot now recollect the persons who
composed the party, except Mr. Curry and my father. One more incident
and I am done: Some years ago, while visiting at Urbana, Ohio,
I called at Ab Jennings', then living there, but since moved to
Springfield, Ohio, While talking with Mrs. Jennings about Marysville,
she excitedly arose and left the room; she soon returned with
a flute in her hand, and with a flourish announced, "that
is the identical flute used by Otway Curry in playing while your
father sang the log cabin song!" Of course I did reverence
Yours truly, CALVIN W. McLAIN."