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Biography of John Holdren

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John Holdren, now living in Lee township, was born in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, October 15, 1777, and came to Athens county in 1798 accompanied by another young man named John Konker. Soon after reaching Athens they took up land in the south part of Alexander township and made a temporary settlement on the waters of Margaret’s creek.. Their neighbors, at intervals of several miles, were the Hanings, the Brooks family, Joseph Long, Esquire Merritt, and Henry Cassel. Mr. Cassel built a grist mill soon afterward in Lee township on the place now owned by William Minear. Mr. Holdren was engaged during six or seven years working at the Scioto salt works at the site of the present town of Jackson, and “could then cut his six cords of wood in a day and help load it.” He went out there the second year after salt was discovered by the whites. Previous to this the Indians had produced scanty supplies of salt by drilling holes into the rocks fifteen or eighteen inches deep, when the cavity would gradually fill up with the brinish water which, evaporated by the heat of the sun, would produce salt. The whites bored wells to some depth, built furnaces, and for many years furnished salt for the surrounding settlements to the distance of seventy-five or eighty miles. Mr. Holdren settled permanently in Lee township in 1820. His nearest neighbors were James McGonnegal, Israel Bobo, and George Canney, and soon afterward came David Doughty, James Luckey, Thomas Jones, John Havner, John and Ephraim Martin, Daniel Knowlton, Jacob Lentner, and the Robinetts. When a young man Mr. Holdren was a successful hunter. He and John Jones (a brother-inlaw of Judge Isaac Barker), killed forty-six bears in six weeks’ hunting on the head waters of Sunday, Monday, and Rush creeks. They sometimes killed in a fall season forty to fifty deer for their winter’s stock of provisions and turkeys beyond count. Mr. Holdren once killed four deer in one day, and he and two of his boys in a hunt of two weeks killed thirty. On one hunting expedition, having shot and wounded a large black bear, his dog ran in to seize the animal, but bruin, though hurt, was full of life, and was making quick work of the dog when Holdren rushed in, knife in hand, to finish him. The bear released the dog and sprang on the man, at the first dash tearing his large blanket entirely from his body; Holdren plunged his knife hilt deep into the animal and then turned to run. He made his escape, but says it was the narrowest he ever had. The bear got away. At that time the skins of bears brought from three to five dollars each, and good hunters often made it profitable. Mr. Holdren served in the war of 18i2. Among those who entered the army at that time he remembers Barnet Brice, John Wood, Reuben Reeves, David. Vaughn, Ira Foster, Joel Stroud, Jehiel Gregory, Nehemiah Gregory, and William McNichol. Mr. Holdren is the oldest person in the county, being now ninety-one years old. He and his aged wife live with a married daughter on a comfortable farm about two miles from Albany, and the old man, aided by a ‘staff in each hand, sometimes walks to the village.

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