Ohio Biographies

Isaac Stansell

Isaac Stansell, farmer, P. O. Centerville. Isaac Stansell, son of Henry and Elizabeth, was born December 27, 1810, in Washington Township, Montgomery County, Ohio, where has always resided; received his education in his boyhood in the pioneer log schoolhouse; schools then taught by subscription; teacher boarding with his patrons; branches most commonly taught were reading, writing and arithmetic; wearing apparel manufactured at home, very plain, as the material was not very fine; housemade flax linen for shirts and pants; thread shirt-buttons almost exclusively. For winter wear, linsey and fulled cloth; the linsey was of many colors. Instead of coats, a garment called a wampus was worn, that was most generally made out of red flannel; women wore same materials, but sometimes striped or barred. A boy generally received one pair of shoes yearly; living was just as plain as the wearing apparel. At the breakfast table was generally coffee made from corn, wheat, rye and flour; it was called flour chocolate; tea from spice, sassafras or sage; wheat bread occasionally; corn bread was the standard, that made different ways; there was the dodger, the johnny-cake, and for extra a pone would be made, one that would last a family many days; wild meats abundant, and obtained with little labor; going to mill is generally done on horseback. The first mill Mr. Stansell patronized was one on Sugar Creek, near the county line. Sugar was made every spring in large quantities, and used freely; wood was no object. Mr. Stansell’s parents emigrated from Kentucky; his father came here in 1801, built his cabin, returned to Kentucky, and moved his family out on horseback to their future home in 1802, right in the woods; neighbors two to three miles distant. Both parents were members of the Baptist Church, and regular attendants at the log meeting-house, half-mile north of Centerville, being the first one built in the township. John Mason was among the first preachers at this house. A minister’s pay then was just what the members felt like giving freely. Henry Stansell and wife died in 1833. The way of attending church at this time was on foot or horseback, the rider taking two or three children with him. Mr. Stansell being raised on a farm, he has work at everything to be done there, even to plowing with the wood mold-board plow drawn by oxen. Mr. Stansell was married February 4, 1834, to Miss Eleanor Shehan. From this union were eleven children, nine of whom are living. Mrs. Stansell died February 22, 1866. The father of the subject of the is sketch was born October 1, 1765; married to Elizabeth Allen April, 1793. From this union were eleven children, four of whom are now living (July, 1881). Henry Stansell, at the age of thirteen, was captured by the Indians in the State of New York, with whom he remained five years, undergoing all the hardships of a captive’s life. So far as a separation from home and friends are concerned, a portion of the time the Indians tried to make his life agreeable, but was an Indian’s life after all. His release was brought about in this way. The Indian who claimed him as his property, while they were encamped in the neighborhood of a British Fort on Lake Ontario, when drunk, sold him for a trifle to a British officer, received his pay and departed, but soon as he became sober, returned to the fort, and demanded the return of Henry, but the officers secreted him, and told the Indian that Henry was gone. Young Stansell was soon exchanged and sent home to his parents. He was so changed in appearance that (although dressed in civilized clothing), none of the family (except his mother) knew him, having given him up as dead; the mother, so long bereft of him, instantly recognized him by a scar on his face. A few years after peace was declared, Henry Stansell married and removed to Kentucky, and then to Ohio as above state.


From History of Montgomery County, Ohio, W. H. Beers & Co., Chicago, 1882