My grandmother told me about this story during one of my visits to Wellsville, Ohio in the mid-1970’s. She had the piece from the newspaper cut out and framed. I wish now that I had taken it to the library and gotten a copy of it. Instead I have a transcription. One thing I have learned since starting on my genealogy quest is regret. I regret all of those clippings I let slip through my fingers. I regret the many conversations that I did not record. The only thing I can do it recover as much of the information as I can and pass the stories along.
This is the story of my grandmother’s family and the many rocks on their farm. I have to give a big thank you to “The Roamin’ Gard” for recording this story for me and a thank you to my Aunt Nancy for giving me the transcript.
The Roamin’ Gard
The Stone Fence Riddle Solved
By R. Max Gard
(the following story was published in a local newspaper)
A few months ago, a story in this column told of some mysterious, long stone fences, and at that time, I had not met anyone who could tell me of their origin. Then one morning, Mrs. Ed (Edna) DeVille, a neighbor who lives about 200 yards from us, called up and told us who built the fences and it is quite a story. Herewith, in her words, is the story of the great stone fences which stand in the Southwest Quarter of Section 30, Franklin Twp. Columbiana Co., Ohio.
“My Grandmother, Jennie O’Rourke Gillespie, and her three children, Mary, Rose, (My Mother) and Lawrence and two of my grandmother’s unmarried brothers moved to the farm about 1900. It had been purchased by my great uncle, James O’Rourke from a family by the name of MacMahon. My Grandmother, being a widow brought her children and her mother (my Great Grandmother Bridget O’Rourke) from County Meath, Ireland in 1899.
The first thing they had to do was to clear the stones from the fields. My Aunt Mary said, “It seemed like the Lord had picked up all the stones in the area and dumped them on their farm.”
Where they had lived in Ireland the fences were made of stone, so that is what they did. None of the stone fences, corral, or anything made of the stones were there when they moved there. My Grandmother would go out in the fields and pick up all the stones she could carry in her apron, and the ones that were too large were moved to where they were on a sled-like drag pulled by horses. Some of the fences were built on top of the stones that were too large to move. There was one big flat stone that looked as big as a house to me when I was small that was located over by the barn. My great uncle use to put salt on it for the farm animals to lick. After much hard work they had some fields on top of the hill cleared. They planted regular farm crops, made hay and did well.
They raised cows, horses, sheep and pigs, also turkey, ducks and chickens. There were quite a few black snakes around, and they would raid the chicken houses eating the eggs and baby chicks. My Grandmother use to have her vegetable garden in the corral. I suppose she planted it in the corral to keep rabbits and other small animals away from it.
The last of the family to live there was my Great Uncle James O’Rourke and my Aunt Sara, whom my grandmother adopted in 1913. They left the farm in 1928 and my Great Uncle Tom died in 1918 during the flu epidemic. My Grandmother died in 1921.
My Aunts Mary Pomplin and Sara Patterson who were raised on the farm, now live in Wellsville.”
We thank you very much, Mrs. DeVille, for solving the mystery of the stone fences and contributing this interesting addition to Columbiana County History.