Saturday, December 27, 2008

Derastus Lee & Mary E. (Vallance) Lee

This information was found at Wood County, Ohio 1895 History, pages 565-566. I've read it before, but never seen the photos. This document was the clue to my Grandmother Elizabeth Vallance's maiden name, BRUBAKER. A photo of her daughter gives me a glimpse into what my "proven" Vallance line looks like. I think we stem from Adam Vallance. Thank you, thank you, whoever put these photos and information online! If anyone knows these faces PLEASE email me!

DERASTUS LEE. It is an undisputed fact that Bloom township contains some of the leading farmers of Wood county, and among the foremost of these is the gentleman whose name introduces this sketch. He is the representative of one of our pioneer families, those who endured the hardships, privations and difficulties attending a settlement in the ` ` Black Swamp " in the early -forties," and whose labor transformed the heavily timbered wilderness into productive fields. He passed his youth in the midst of the most primitive surroundings.


His grandfather, Lemuel Lee, was born in Connecticut. He was compelled to make his own way in the world from an early age, owing to the death of his father and the scattering of the family, and when a young man he came to Ohio, locating in Columbiana county. At that time Ohio had not yet been admitted as a State; within its limits was to be found much land upon which no "pale-face " had ever set foot, and in fact it was only along the eastern border that it was safe for a white man to take up his abode. Lemuel Lee married a Miss Jackson, and they had a large family, of whom six sons and two daughters lived to adult age. He was not a man to accumulate property, and in his circumstances there was but little opportunity to do so, but he made an honest living. He died about 1854.

George J. Lee, one of the older sons, born in 18o6, was our subject's father. Reared on a frontier farm, his schooling was very limited; indeed, to use his own expression, he was "educated with the grubbing hoe." During his boyhood but few schools were to be found, and they were the subscription schools patronized by the well-to-do classes. He was a large boy before he ever attended one, and then the humiliation of reciting in classes composed of children much smaller than he almost drove him to leave school, which he would have done had it not been for the encouragement of the teacher, his uncle, James Gordon. This one term of three months was the limit of his educational advantages. On February 4, 183o, he married Miss Hannah Wollam, a native of the same county, born in 1805. Her father, Henry Wollam, was a well-to-do farmer of that neighborhood, owning an excellent farm which he had redeemed from its primitive state, and improved with some unusually good buildings for that time. Before his marriage George Lee had learned the tanner's trade; but an attempt to engage in it met with little success, and he settled upon a farm on Beaver creek, where our subject first saw the light. As time passed, and the future of his children became an important problem, he decided to go farther west where land was cheaper, and September 25, 1841, he started for Wood county with his household goods in a large wagon, on which his wife rode with the younger members of the family, which then included six children. This conveyance was drawn by two oxen, with two horses as leaders. Ten days later they arrived in Montgomery township, having made a short visit in Richland county with friends, and a temporary home was made with John Vosburg until a suitable location was found. Mr. Lee entered 16o acres of land, which was in its primitive condition-not one tree having been cut upon it-and his first work was to clear a spot for the building of his log cabin. His brother, Henry, had accompanied the party, and he entered eighty acres adjoining, then returned home, where he died a few years afterward, having no direct heirs, and a onethird interest fell to our subject's father, who later bought the remaining two-thirds. He also bought another tract of forty acres, and at the time of his death owned 280 acres. He was a man of influence in his community, Democrat of the "Jacksonian stripe," and he took great interest in public affiairs. For many years he and his wife were members of the Protestant Methodist Church. This venerable pioneer couple lived several years beyond their " Golden Wedding Anniversary"; they died within two and one-half years of each other, both having passed fourscore years, and their remains rest in West Millgrove cemetery.

Ten children were born to them as follows: Henry, January 10, 1831, living in Jerry City; Derastus, April 27, 1832; Samuel, August 29, 1833, died in Bloom township, May 16, 1855, of consumption; Mary J., April 7, 1835, married Adam Graham, of Montgomery township; Jackson, June 19, 1837, enlisted August 15, 1861, in Company H, 49th O. V. I., was wounded at






Chickamauga, September 19, 1863, and died the next day, his body never being recovered; Milo, March 15, 1839, died in Bloom township, April 30, 1858, of consumption; Sarah A., October 18, 1840, married Philip Brubaker, of Bloom township; Susanna, May 9, 1842, is the wife of Benton Musser, of Gratiot county, Mich.; John H., September 11, 1844, died of consumption, January 13, 1862, in Bloom township; and Benjamin F., October 27, 1846, died March 23, 1847.

Derastus Lee was about nine years old when he came to this county, but there was plenty of work upon his father's farm, and even at that age he could "pick brush " in the clearing. With no modern machinery and but few tools, and those of the rudest sort, the work of the farm and household required the help of all, and schools were but little thought of, so that his educational opportunities were very limited. After he attained his majority he for one term attended the select school taught by Alfred Kelley, the pioneer teacher of West Millgrove. His own experience has given Mr. Lee a great desire to see facilities for education brought within the reach of everyone, and he is the ardent supporter of any improvement in the schools of to-day. On September 25, 1858, he married Miss Mary E. Vallance, a native of Ashland county, born June 22, 1837. Her parents, James and Elizabeth (Brubaker) Vallance, came to Wood county in September, 1849, settling in Perry township. She had fared no better than her husband in educational advantages, attending the schools of her day for about three months. At the time of his marriage Mr. Lee had by work and " dickering" secured a team of horses, a wagon, a plow, and a harrow, the first horse, which he bought of his uncle, Lemuel Lee, being paid for by $30 in money and the chopping of ten acres of timber. With this outfit he started in business on his own account, taking the old homestead on shares. His residence for the first eleven years was in an old log school house which he had fitted up. There were many days of toil and but few of recreation in those years; but he and his wife were young, strong and ambitious, and their mutual affection made their. old cabin a happy home. During this period Mr. Lee bought 16o acres of timber land in Section 12, Bloom township, which he still owns although he has never lived there. In the spring of 1871, he purchased eighty acres in Section 10, to which he moved. For twenty years he was engaged in threshing, in addition to farming, sometimes with a partner, sometimes without. His work was always faithfully done, and while thus employed he gained a wide circle of friends in different parts of the county. He did not spare himself over his tasks, and frequently when he had been busy up to a late hour of the night, he has crawled up to the side of a straw stack to sleep till morning. He has added to his land at various times until he now has nearly Boo acres, making him one of the largest landowners in Wood county, and most of his property is good farming land, which can not be said of some other extensive holders. Probably there is not another instance in Wood county of a poor boy becoming, through his own efforts, the owner of so large an estate. Industry, wise and economical management, and shrewd bargaining have made this progress possible, his estimable wife deserving, also, a large share of credit.

Of their ten children, eight are now living in Bloom township. The names of all, with dates of birth, are as follows: James W., February 17, 1860, is a prosperous young farmer; Laura E., March 3, 1861, married Abraham Loe; John F., September 25, 1862, is a well-to-do farmer; Jacob E., July 31, 1864, is at home; Charles W., October 11, 1867, died February 2, 1868; Hattie E., February 6, 1869, married Samuel Dennis, of Bloom Center; Perry M., March 12, 1871, is a progressive young farmer; Florence, June 4, 1873, married Elza Wright, of Bloom township; Mary Ettie, October 1, 1875, died March 21, 1876; and Rhoda V., December 25, 1878, is at home. Among the foundation stones of Mr. Lee's tasteful and commodius residence is a relic of pioneer times-the top stone of an old handmill once belonging to his father's neighbor, Peter Painter, and many a time during his boyhood did Mr. Lee walk through the woods which lay between the two farms, carrying corn which he converted into meal with the aid of that stone.

Coming from a family in which consumption has claimed several members, Mr. Lee's death has been often predicted, yet he is hale and hearty, and bids fair to live many years. At the age of sixty-four he can perform a day's work which would do credit to one twenty years his junior. In October, 1894, he met with a serious injury. While nailing a board on a fence the nail broke and a flying piece struck him in the left eye, entirely destroying the sight. He is a good neighbor, kind-hearted, out-spoken, and a man of strict integrity. In politics Mr. Lee is a Democrat, and he is one of the chief counselors of the party in his locality. He formerly attended conventions and caucuses with great regularity, but he has never been an office seeker, and, although he has served creditably as trustee of his township, he has often declined to become a candidate for other positions. He once led the "forlorn hope " against the overwhelming Republican majority in the county, having been selected by his party as the candidate for county commissioner, and he succeeded in reducing the majority-a notable achievement, as things stood.

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