Port Indepence,Conn.,Western Reserve------
Weak from lack of food, Eunice Waldo Kingsbury walked slowly toward the door of her tiny log cabin.Frozen, powdery
snow,driven inside through cracks in the ill-fitted wooden
door by the frigid,searching, December wind,lay in a pile at its jamb.
Drawing her shawl more closely around her neck, Mrs. Kingsbury opened the door slightly to see outside.A winter storm had left three feet of snow on the ground. In places, drifts reached as high as the eaves of the cabin.
She latched the door and turned to look at her four listless
children--4-year-old Abigail,3-year-old Amos,1 year-old Almon,and Albert,newly born that fall, all clustered around the fireplace for warmth.
The oxen and cow,their only animals, had died,leaving the children without milk.Mrs. Kingsbury and her 13 year-old nephew had fed the younger children from the carcasses of the animals while they lasted.
But now Mrs. Kingsbury knew they all were starving,and would die if she didn't do something, and quickly.
It was Christmas Eve, 1796.
The frail, frightened young woman spent the day planning for
what would be a tortuous, on-foot,30-mile trek through snow and forest to Fort Erie,where she hoped to get help for
herself and her family.
Mrs. Kingsbury, her husband,James,and the children had arrived at Port Independence seven months earlier. With the help of a surveying crew led by Moses Cleveland,they had cleared some land and had grown a modest wheat crop,said to be the first harvested in the Western Reserve. Game and fish were plentiful,and food had not been a problem.
However,Kingsbury,for some unexplained reason, except to say it was "urgent business," left his family that fall to return to his native New Hampshire.He expected to return within six weeks.
Historians differ on what happened to Kingsbury on that trip which caused him to be away more than twice as long as
he originally planned.Some accounts say the novice woodsman was robbed of his horse,compass and supplies by a guide.
Others believe he was stricken with fever when he reached
New England and was sick in bed for some weeks before he could travel.
Whatever the case,while he was gone food supplies at the Kingsbury's homestead dwindled to nothing.Late in November
Albert had been born with the help of the Kingsbury's only
neighbors at Port Independence,Elijah and Anna Gun.
Christmas Day morning,1796, Mrs. Kingsbury opened the door to leave for Fort Erie.But this time she saw more than snow . Within sight was her husband,carrying provisions on his back. It might be a happy Christmas after all.
However, by this time , she was seriously ill. Knowing the
meager provisions he brought would soon be gone, Kingsbury immediately returned to Fort Erie for a bushel of wheat,which he pulled on foot back through the difficult snow to the cabin.
With nourishment,the older children regained their health. But because Mrs. Kingsbury was ill and could not nurse Albert, and there was no milk from the cow, the baby died of starvation.The first white child born in the Western Reserve,he became the first white to die there.
The Kingsburys later moved to Cleveland,where they had eight more children and became prominent citizens. Kingsbury
lived until 1847,long enoughto see Christmas become a much more secular event.
This is a dramatized account of an account onpg.349 in the Waldo Books. Eunice was the daughter of Daniel (Shubael,
Edward, John,Cornelius Waldo).
The Connecticut Western Reserve was a strip of land 120 miles west of Pennsylvania's western border, bounded on the
north by Lake Erie, and going south to include all of Trumbull County and about half of Mahoning County. The town of Independence was near Conneaut.
This Christmas story appeared in an old issue of the Youngstown Vindicator some twenty or thirty years ago.
It certainly shows us what our ancestors went through to
strengthen and preserve our heritage.For those who are new to this story, hope you enjoy it and to all of the Waldo cousins and families out there "Have a blessed ,happy,and holy holiday season and may the New Year really bring us
Peace on Earth. Olive (Waldo) Wittenauer Blumer.