A Mill and a New Year
Excerpt from The Legend of Jesse Halliday
It was New Year’s Day. Jesse was proud of the cozy cabin that he had built for his wife and young family. But today, it really felt small. The kids had more energy than he could tolerate. And Sarah was bustling about – in charge and in control. A baby in one arm, she was putting ingredients in the stew pot with the other. This morning, Jesse was a square peg in a round hole – a little out-of-place – under-foot. There was a proven cure. It was time for a morning walk.
With no particular destination in mind, Jesse strolled ¼ mile to the river and then another 1/8 mile up the Mahoning (Indian for salt lick) River to his favorite fishing hole. It was a little cold this morning to make another run at ‘Big Tom’. Jesse only caught the occasional glimpse of that 3 foot cat fish through the clear river waters. Jesse had been after him off and on for the past 2 ½ years. He named him after Tom Jefferson – Jesse’s favorite politician.
As he wandered mindlessly through the cool morning air towards ‘The Mill’, Jesse thought of Colonel Boquet’s expedition in 1764 that first started to open up the Ohio frontier. Boquet found numerous Indians – most notably the Wyandots, Chippewa, Delaware and Sac that laid claim to the land he was walking on. Marvelling – it was amazing how far we’d come in about 50 years. In fact, it was only 20 years ago that the Fort McIntosh treaty resulted in these Indian tribes giving up their claims to Eastern Ohio land.
Jesse wished he had come to the region with the money that some others had. Yes, there’s a lot of money to be made in opening up a new state. It would be nice if he could have afforded to buy land like Joseph Howland, Ephraim Quinby, Elijah Boardman, Henry Champion, Moses Cleveland, Nehemiah Hubbard, Jr. and Aaron Olmstead. But, history had chosen another path for Jesse. He played the hand he was dealt.
Jesse looked up at the mill that he had finally opened this year. He thought: ‘I may not have much money in my pocket – but I know how to deliver on my dreams.’ Then, he smiled at the thought of an expression his father had taught him: ‘The poorest of all men is not the man without a cent – but the man without a dream.’
The walk had turned the trick. Jesse started back to the treasure he had waiting for him in his log cabin – ready for a bowl of Sarah’s stew.