Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Town Meetings

Town Meetings have always been a vehicle by which the local folks controlled their environment. As we saw in the last post, ordinary people had their gardens and crops uprooted one too many times by a free-range hog or ram, and so made a rule to limit that from happening again.
Scipio in 1799 was much different than Scipio today. The only clearing was one created by brute labor; to chop down the enormous trees from the virgin forest, using them to build barns and homes, uproot the stumps using an axe and maybe a team of horses if you were lucky so you could then clear the rock and stone away and plant the crops that would sustain your family through the year. After doing all that, I imagine looking out the door and seeing neighbor John's pigs feasting on the garden was just not acceptable.

1 comment:

Roger A. Post said...

Sandie, my grandfather, Otto W. Post, wrote in his little booklet, "Postscripts," ca. 1969, about clearing virgin forest along Owasco Lake. These events in what is now the Town of Fleming probably occurred in 1796-1797 and give a feeling for the clearing process faced by the early settlers of the Town of Scipio, just to the south. Here is the quote.

"When the Post and Peterson families arrived on the west side of Owasco Lake the land was covered with a heavy growth of timber, partly oak. First they built log cabins to live in and then began to cut off the timber and clear the land for cultivation. They would cut the large straight trees and cause them to fall up hill away from the lake and trim them off as smooth as possible for a skidway then built a big fire at the lower end. As fast as they cut the logs they would draw them up and roll them down the skidway on the fire. They kept the fire burning all winter and by spring had land cleared to raise corn and other crops."