This Day in Dayton, 27 February

In February 1823 James Paige and his three sons, Charles, age 18, Edward, age 11, and Phineas, age 9, left their home of three years in Strawtown, Indiana, and headed west with a wagon and four yoke of oxen. Paige was leaving because he had lost his land when it was bought out from under him at the government sale. He had squatted there since coming to Hamilton County from Springfield, Clarke County, Ohio, in November 1819, and now that he had been unsuccessful at buying the land, he would get nothing for the improvements he had made. His wife, Hannah, three younger boys, and two daughters waited in Strawtown until he could return for them. The family had spent six years in Ohio, where Paige had rented a small carding and fulling mill. Before that they had lived in Rutland, Vermont, Hannah’s hometown, where they had been married in 1801. Paige himself was a native of Massachusetts. He had been well educated, and studied for the Presbyterian ministry. However, he had become interested in the Universalist faith and abandoned the idea of becoming a minister.

Paige was now headed for a spot in the New Purchase that he may have scouted out ahead of time. The land had not yet been offered for sale and he hoped to get a head start by "squatting" until the land became available for purchase. Pushing west from Strawtown, Paige and his young sons surely followed the Strawtown Trace, and then perhaps turned onto a path that today is Newcastle Road. Coming through the black swamp in Boone County, the wagon became mired in mud and it was necessary to unload part of their belongings temporarily. Since he had to lead the way with compass and ax, and Charles was needed to drive the team, Paige decided to leave Edward and Phineas to guard the items left behind. These consisted of pork, meal, corn, beds, and bedding. Although these two young boys were apparently left alone thirty miles from a white family in a country inhabited by wild animals and perhaps unfriendly Native Americans, all went well. There may have been another family traveling with them who also stayed. Four days and three nights later Paige and son Charles returned for the boys and the supplies and all traveled on together to Wyandott, where there was a trading post.

Susan ClawsonComment