Early Life in Monroe County

The people in the early history of Monroe county took no care to preserve history -they were too busily engaged in making it. Historically speaking, those were the most important years of the county, for it was then the foundation and corner stones of all the county's history and prosperity were laid. Yet this history was not remarkable for stirring events. It was, however, a time of self-reliance and brave, persevering toil; of privations cheerfully endured through faith in a good time coming. The experience of one settler was just about the same as that of others. Nearly all of the settlers were poor; they faced the same hardships and stood generally on an equal footing. All the experience of the early pioneers of this county goes far to confirm the theory that, after all, happiness is pretty evenly balanced in this world. They had their privations and hardships, but they had also their own peculiar joys. If they were poor, they were free from the burden of pride and vanity; free also from the anxiety and care that always attends the possession of wealth. Other people's eyes cost them nothing. If they had few neighbors, they were on the best of terms with those they had. Envy, jealousy and strife had not crept in. A common interest and a common sympathy bound them together with the strongest ties. They were a little world to themselves, and the good feeling that prevailed was all the stronger because they were so far removed from the great world of the East. Among these pioneers there was realized such a community of interest that there existed a community of feeling. There were no castes, except an aristocracy of benevolence, and no nobility, except a nobility of generosity. They were bound together with such a strong bond of sympathy, inspired by the consciousness of common hardship, that they were practically communists.

Neighbors did not even wait for an invitation or request to help one another. Was a settler's cabin burned or blown down? No sooner was the fact known throughout the neighborhood than the settlers assembled to assist the unfortunate one to rebuild his home. They came with as little hesitation, and with as much alacrity, as though they were all members of the same family and bound together by ties of blood. One man's interest was every other man's interest. Now, this general state of feeling among the pioneers was by no means peculiar to these counties, although it was strongly illustrated here. It prevailed generally throughout the West during the time of the early settlement. The very nature of things taught the settlers the necessity of dwelling together in this spirit. It was their only protection. They had come far away from the well established reign of law, and entered a new country, where civil authority was still feeble and totally unable to afford protection and redress grievances. Here the settlers lived some little time before there was an officer of the law in the county. Each man's protection was in the good will and friendship of those about him, and the thing that any man might well dread was the ill will of the community. It was more terrible than the law. It was no uncommon thing in the early times for hardened men, who had no fears of jails or penitentiaries, to stand in great fear of the indignation of a pioneer community. Such were some of the characteristics of Monroe county.