“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” — Ancient proverb
This story begins in 1853 with the birth of a baby girl, born to a large family of newly settled Ohioans. Elizabeth Kelley’s birth into a family of 12 made cramped quarters for the family living in a small cabin.
Just a few miles away was a childless uncle and aunt who made an offer to raise this newborn as their own. And so Elizabeth Kelley was given away to be raised by the brother of Elizabeth’s mother, George Wolf, and his wife, Elizabeth.
They agreed to care for and provide well for Elizabeth, with the promise that they would will her the farm upon their death.
Samuel Young’s parents had also been early Ohio settlers, bringing eleven children into the world. As a child, Samuel witnessed the cruel fate of losing seven brothers and sisters, four of whom died over the short span of four days in 1859, from scarlet fever and diphtheria.
I visit their graves in a small, lovely country cemetery and wonder at this unspeakable loss of innocent children ages 3 to 8. The harsh reality is it truly was a time when only the strong survived.
Read Part I: Love of land runs deep at family farms
Read Part III: Treasured farm ripped from family
Read Part IV: Surviving the threat of catastrophe
Read Part V: Enduring one catastrophe after another
Samuel had lost his older brother and sister, one in infancy, the other at age 7, leaving him the oldest of this family,
The brother closest to Samuel died in 1866 at age 20. Samuel learned farming and carpentry, and in 1863, he left home for the first time to join in the Civil War, serving as a member of the U.S. government commissary department in Tennessee and Georgia.
He returned home to the small family farm in 1865, and would be there when his father died in 1869. It appears he may have been working as an apprentice in the carpentry trade while also farming.
In November,1870, Samuel, age 27, married 17-year-old Elizabeth Kelley, the pretty girl who had been raised as an only child.
With her home and future farm in mind, Samuel purchased adjoining land in 1876, near the people Elizabeth considered her parents, 100 years after Samuel’s grandfather, Mathias Young, had fought in the War for Independence.
Together they built a log cabin and a family of three: Herbert, their oldest, would become my great-grandfather; George, who would later take his own life, and Stella, who saw her share of sorrow as her physician husband died very young.
Creating their home
Logging out woods Samuel had purchased north of Elizabeth’s childhood home, they began the long task of creating their home south of it, while also purchasing other land as it became available.
Samuel was a keen businessman with incredible drive to provide well for his family. He knew that one day, when Elizabeth inherited the farm from her adoptive parents, all of their land would unite in to a large square.
In Bauchman’s History of Ashland County, the house that Samuel built in 1883 is described as “commodious and modern, which indicate his progressive spirit.”
He was also wise: of the two sections he now owned, he built the house on the east side of a lane that marked the boundary, because he had that part paid in full.
(Next week: an unexpected turn of events.)
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