We moved from there across the ridge to the other side of Tussey’s Mountain. There my father stilled for a Mr. House. While working there my father was crippled by a draw knife falling on his leg and cutting his knee. His wages were small, only 50 cents a day or a bushel of wheat. So I concluded I must earn my own clothes and board. The year was 1836 and I was eleven years old.
That first year I hired out to a Mr. Abraham Solloday to work and chore on his farm. The next year I worked for a Mr. Spang, carting ore out of the drift for their furnace about 10 miles from Hollidaysburg. I worked there two years and while I was there I had my first and last drunk. I was made drunk by an Irishman, an old toper. He got on a jag once every two or three months.
God pity the drunkard. And I think that if there is a hotter place than others in Hell, the man who deals out intoxicating liquors to get another man drunk on the infernal stuff ought to be put in the hottest part.
My next adventure was as a boatman on the Juniatta and Susquehanna rivers and the Tidewater Canal down to Havre de Grace, Maryland. We would be towed from Havre de Grace across to Chesapeake Bay. Then we had 14 miles of canal to Deliver City. After that we were towed up to Philadelphia by steamer. I followed that pattern for two or three years, day and night. [ILLUS: Map of boating route]
On one trip coming in to Deliver City the drawbridge wasn’t open. But we didn’t see it soon enough and there wasn’t time to stop. So instead, I gave directions to the stearsman and he struck the bridge in the center and knocked it clear of its bearings. The next morning there were some men going around trying to find out who had done it. But no one seemed to know…
The next year I worked on a farm for one of my uncles. I was 16 or 17 years old. That fall I got my first fine calfskin shoes to wear. I always gave my father all of my wages except for what clothes I needed to buy.
In 1843, in the fall of my 18th year, I left Pennsylvania for Ohio. I came with two others, John Obenour and John Beels. Beels was on horseback and Obenour and myself were afoot. That was the usual way of going anywhere in those days, with a gun or stick across our shoulders and our clothes tied up in a handkerchief.