Family traveled in covered wagon to Highland


Last week I said I would start on the dairy of Elizabeth Edwards in honor of her upcoming return for the Ghost Walk in the village of Highland on Aug. 27. I realized it would be better to give some background on Elizabeth first. Ponder this: Would you be willing to place four small children and all you own into a two-horse covered wagon to travel from Pennsylvania to Highland County, Ohio in 1837?

It would be a daring journey taking about a month. Robert and Elizabeth Edwards took the challenge and they became lifelong residents of Highland County. Janet Larkin of Hillsboro provided the information and photos on her Edwards ancestors. Elizabeth Edwards was Larkin’s great-great-grandmother.

The Edwardses left their home in Chester County, Pa. on May 14, 1837. Their destination was the home of an aged uncle of Elizabeth’s, William Chalfant, who lived in Highland County. In 1807, Chalfant and his wife Ruth left Grayson County, Va. with a land warrant for about 500 acres. They settled near Leesburg.

The two-horse covered wagon carried the Edwards family over the National Road through Pittsburg, Pa., Wheeling, W.Va., and Circleville, Ohio. The Ohio Canal had been built and the 4-year-old son remembered, “Being taken by his father to see the aquaduct over the Scioto River. The sight of one big stream crossed by another struck his boyish mind as something very remarkable.” During the journey, the two eldest children got lost among the hills one morning while gathering honeysuckle. After several hours, the children were found and the anxious mother relieved. On June 16, 1837, the Edwards family finally arrived at Uncle Chalfant’s. The Edwardses owned only a few possessions and $18,000 in cash. They remained with their uncle six months and then rented a cabin located three-quarters of a mile east of Leesburg.

The cabin and farm belonged to Asa Ladd. The Edwards family stayed in the cabin for six months and then leased a farm from Mr. Calhoun. This farm was between Leesburg and Centerfield. The Edwards family stayed two years on the Calhoun farm. Then at last they purchased a 103-acre farm from Elijah Wilkerson, located near the railroad between the Lexington (the former name of Highland) depot and Leesburg. The family moved into the log house during the crisp autumn days of 1839.

In the log cabin, four more children were born to Robert and Elizabeth. Their children then totaled eight – Susanne, C.B., Lydia, John, William also known as Willie, Maria, Abbie and Jessie.

In 1852, the family moved into a newly built brick home. The Edwardses were Quakers and “their new home became a focal point for the entire community,” according to the family history. Robert raised cattle and added acreage to the farm. He owned a total of 360 acres. Robert also became the first agent in the area for the Dorsey Reaper & Mower and Moore’s Grain Drill. He also sold the Oliver Chilled Plow. As Robert aged, he rented part of his land to his youngest son, Jesse Edwards, and to his sons-in-law, Jessie Larkin and Elwood Brabson.

Next week, I will start on part of Elizabeth Edwards’ diary.

Sources: Janet Larkin of Hillsboro and “Time Travels: 200 Years of Highland County History” by Charlotte Pack.

Charlotte Pack is a local author and historian. She calls her column Time Travels.

The Elizabeth and Robert Edwards family is pictured at their home on Underground Road near Highland during the mid to late 1800s. Elizabeth and Robert Edwards family is pictured at their home on Underground Road near Highland during the mid to late 1800s.

By Charlotte Pack

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