How does one go about explaining a connection to the land? It has seemed impossible for me to explain why I care about the land on which my father was born and raised. Perhaps it would offer more of an explanation if, in the telling, I could find a better way to go back in time, to the very beginning of this land and my connection to it.
My great-great-great-great grandfather originally came to this country and settled somewhere on Manhattan Island, right in the middle of where New York City now thrives.
The story is, after taking up ownership of that land, he decided to move to Pennsylvania and traded the land for $24 worth of trinkets and beads. His son, Mathias Young, fought in the Revolutionary War. It is his son, Michael, who came to Ohio with his parents at age 20 and remained here all of his life.
Michael and Catherine brought 11 children in to the world, but only four lived to adulthood. Samuel, their third child, was my great-great grandfather.
It is Samuel who settled the farm on which my father would later be born.
Log cabin start. Through years of listening to the story from my own father, I can walk right to the plot of land where the original Young family log cabin was built.
In the 1880s, my great-great grandfather began harvesting timber from that original woodland area to build the beautiful Victorian home that would later be the place of my father’s birth and a host to a million memories.
This man, Samuel Young, was also a man of great ambition, drive and foresight. My forefather Young knew that acquiring land would be his muscle in the world, even then. Through hard work, he managed to acquire a square of land, 600 acres, a considerable undertaking for the mid-1800s.
In Bauchman’s History of Ashland County, Samuel Young’s homestead buildings are described as “structures commodious and modern, which indicate his progressive spirit.”
It is said that he donated $300 to bring the railroad to this area, knowing it would benefit all area farmers.
My father often noted that Samuel grieved the loss of seven siblings, four of whom all died of scarlet fever within four days’ time. My dad assumed that Samuel felt blessed to have been spared, and vowed to make something of himself.
Impressive home. The Victorian home that Samuel built for his family was incredibly large, it seemed to me. I remember the ornate double doors on the front of the house that opened to a large hallway with an impressive open stairway, a dining room with bay windows.
There was a very large kitchen with a front and back porch, a pantry off of the kitchen with built-in cupboards and a dumb waiter – a shelf that was operated by pulleys. It served as a small elevator to take milk and butter to and from the basement.
My sisters and I were fascinated by this contraption when we were little, and sent all sorts of interesting things to the basement on that little moving shelf.
The hand-carved woodwork and the doors of the home were fancy, the exterior dressed with gingerbread under the eaves and on the porches.
While people in the community raved about the beautiful home that could be seen for miles around, it is easy to imagine that this must have been a moment of triumph for Samuel as he moved his wife and three children from the log cabin in to this pretty home which they had painted yellow and dressed it up with green shutters and black doors.