Ohio History Journal

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At this time of celebrating the one hundred and fiftieth an-

niversary of the Ordinance of 1787, which act of Congress was

the official opening of the Northwest Territory, much thought is

being given to pioneer days. The early settlers took life in gen-

eral, and their own existences in particular, very seriously. This

is somewhat amusing unless considered with an understanding

of the conditions under which these people lived. These con-

ditions cannot possibly be thoroughly comprehended, but enough

may be learned to awaken feelings of deep respect for the people.

The people who established homes in the newly opened

Northwest Territory wasted nothing. They carefully preserved

papers the value of which seems trivial. Receipts were re-

quired for the payment of insignificant sums. Settlements of

charge accounts were not acknowledged by merely marking the

bills "paid." Usually the person to whom a bill was presented

wrote across the bottom or on the back, explaining just when and

how payment was made, and this the merchant signed. If a

citizen had the money or an article of exchange with which to

pay for a purchase, he had a statement to that effect ready for

the merchant to sign. This would be on a scrap of paper no

larger than necessary to contain the required wording. When

properly receipted, the scrap was filed away with other precious

documents. As these accumulated, they were gathered together

according to the years. Business and social correspondence was

preserved in like manner.

Printed matter was highly valued. Each printing establish-

ment had its own book bindery, or arrangements made with those

who did such work. Newspapers were published weekly, the

weather permitting. When it rained very hard or was severely

cold, the roads were impassable, and paper on which to do the

printing could not be secured. In time of drouth, the streams

did not furnish enough water to turn the mill wheels, and paper