Family Newsletter

Issue Number 9 Winter 1997
Dear Cousins and other Relatives,

Welcome back to the Hitch Family Newsletter (HFN)! This is the ninth issue of this well-received publication. Thanks to you all for the feedback I have received about your specific areas of the HITCH family, and a special thanks to Donovan Hitch of Covington, KY who has sent me no less than 250 pages of Hitch information. It includes very valuable ORIGINAL correspondences, pictures and documents dating back to 1807! I am in the process of scanning the documents and making copies of the pictures so that I can get the originals back to Don in a week or two.

This issue includes two extra pages of material in smaller type so that I was sure to cover everything. The main story here concerns Robert Hamilton Hitch, son of Joseph Hitch who had moved to Pendleton County, Kentucky from Worcester Co., Maryland in the Spring of 1807. Joseph Hitch was a son of Benjamin (of Samuel of Adam) of Maryland covered in Issue 3. Most of the information covered comes from the Donovan Hitch collection mentioned above and provides a unique look into life in the mid 19th century. I believe the readership will enjoy this article as it intertwines the history of our own family directly into America's history in the tumultuous times surrounding the Civil War.

Finally, as a filler on the last page, I add a little story related to a recollection of my own from bygone days.

One final note - the next issue of HFN will be Issue No. 10. I am thinking about doing something special by putting all ten issues together on quality paper, bound and indexed, to place into various libraries around the country. There has been quite a bit of interest raised in the readership to provide a similar offer to individuals. I would be glad to do just that, but I would need to recover my costs since it could get quite expensive. I would estimate materials to bind the book and the quality paper, covers, etc. required would cost somewhere between $15 and $20. Please send me a postcard if you would be interested in purchasing such a memento. If the interest level is high enough, I could begin to offer them soon after the next issue is published in April 1997.

I hope you enjoy this issue and please continue to write to me with your thoughts, suggestions or comments about the HFN. Also, don't forget to send me your pictures and information so that I can make copies and include them into future issues of the newsletter. Thank you and happy reading,

Mike Hitch

Robert Hamilton Hitch of Pendleton Co., Kentucky
In the third issue of this publication (Volume 2, No. 2), we covered the story of Benjamin Hitch (1739/40-1814) of Maryland. He had a farm of 150 acres just on thw Worcester Co. Side of the road that divided Worcester from Somerset Counties and just south of the present-day Wicomico County line. Benjamin was to have three wives in his life: Mary Pitts, Mary ? (whose maiden name I now believe to be Brown) and Leah Taylor. Mr. Hitch had children by his first two wives only - four are known by each. It is said that the second wife was not too friendly with the children of the first wife (who died probably in the late 1770s) which caused a lot of family animosity. Three of those children Polly, Joseph and Thomas Hitch decided to move west and ended up in northern Kentucky and southern Ohio in the counties of Pendleton and Clermont, respectively. In this article, we will focus on Joseph Hitch and, in particular, one of his offspring Robert Hamilton Hitch.

Joseph Hitch was born on July 4, 1765 and was but a teenage boy when his mother died (1). Beginning in about 1792, Joseph crossed the mountains and worked on a flatboat for a time near Wheeling, West Virginia supplying hay for the horses of General Anthony Wayne's Army. He then went to Cincinnati and traveled throughout the northern lands of the new state of Kentucky. He went back to Maryland for a time and then, longing for the fertile western soil, returned to Bracken Co., Kentucky where he purchased a small tract of land from William Bradford.

Again growing weary of the lonely pioneer life, Joseph Hitch again returned to Maryland in the late 1790s where he married Sarah (Sallie) Muir, who was born April 22, 1782, the daughter of Thomas Muir, blacksmith, on September 26, 1799 (2). Joseph and Sarah Hitch had three children in Maryland, the first Henry Pitts Hitch was born on December 20, 1801; the second a son of unknown name born in about 1802 and died as an infant; and the third Jane Harrison Hitch was born on April 5, 1805.

On May 13, 1803, Joseph Hitch purchased 50 acres of his father's 150 acre Worcester Co., Maryland tract called "Mount Pleasant" for 5 current money, presumably with the intention of settling down there with his new family. However, in the spring of 1807, Joseph Hitch once again heard the call of the west and decided to head for Kentucky for good. Along with the family recollections, two very interesting and surviving documents (the originals of which were sent to me to copy by Donovan Hitch of Kentucky to whom I am extremely grateful) proves the 1807 timeframe for Joseph's departure from Maryland.

The first document is pictured below as Figure 1 and is a confirmation of Joseph and Sallie Hitch's membership in the church. It reads, "These are to certify to all to whom they come - that the bearers the Joseph Hitch and Sarah his wife are of fair & unblemished character in the full communion (of) the Church. The therefore commend them to the grace afforded unto the care, notice & esteem of any sister Church to which god in his gracious providence may direct them. April 4th 1807. Jno. B. Slemons Minister of the United Congregatious of Monokin & Wicomico." This script was evidently saved and carried by Joseph Hitch from the minister in his church in Maryland to permit his family to join a similar (sister) church in Kentucky.

The second document is a survey dated November 28, 1807 for Joseph Hitch and his property in Kentucky (See below as Figure 2). This proves Joseph Hitch's leaving Maryland for Kentucky sometime between April and November of 1807 and, when coupled with Robert H. Hitch's account of 1873 (see footnote 1), seems to verify a "spring of 1807" move.

In the Worcester Co., Maryland land records, there appears a transaction dated September 30, 1809 between "Joseph Hitch of Penttletion (sic) County in the State of Kaintucky (sic)" and John Hitch of Somerset Co. where the former sold the latter his 50 acres of "Mount Pleasant" that he had formerly bought from Benjamin Hitch in 1803 (3). This John Hitch was Joseph's brother and this seems to be Joseph's last formal tie with the state of Maryland.

After settling in Pendleton Co., Joseph and Sallie Hitch commenced raising a large family that eventually looked like the following:

1. Henry Pitts Hitch (12/20/1801-7/25/1878)

2. (Unknown) Hitch (1802-1802)

3. Jane Harrison Hitch (4/5/1805-7/13/1809)

4. George Jackson Hitch (7/12/1808-8/5/1892)

5. Luther Muir Hitch (10/23/1811-9/8/1873)

6. Robert Hamilton Hitch (2/26/1815-8/23/1877)

7. Mary Ann Hitch (6/25/1818-12/17/1905)

8. Rebecca Jane Hitch (6/20/1821-3/11/1874)

9. Sallie Elizabeth Hitch (2/16/1825-1825)

10. Rachel Shiles Hitch (3/13/1828-8/18/1861)

The subject of this article is Robert Hamilton Hitch who, you will see, was a man of unparallelled dignity and character in his time.

Robert Hamilton Hitch was born on February 26, 1815 on the old Hitch farm near the Licking River in Pendleton County, Kentucky. His father Joseph Hitch died on his farm on September 28, 1847 and his mother Sallie passed on on June 15, 1852. In a letter dated March 23, 1848 from AF. Boggs to Robert Hitch (4), it says of the death of Joseph Hitch, "You all have lost a kind Father and your Mother a devoted husband but you must have been in a measure prepared for his decease - and I have no doubt he was fully prepared to meet his judge . . ."

Robert H. Hitch married shortly after his father's death to Abigail Charlotte Sherwin on July 2, 1849. Abigail was born on April 23, 1832 in Point Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio, the daughter of William Baker Sherwin and Martha Mulloy. She was the granddaughter of Elnathan Sherwin of Wales who served in the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Robert and Abigail Hitch raised a large family including:

1. William Shakespeare Hitch (9/9/1850-10/23/1927)

2. Martha Muir Hitch (3/2/1853-1/4/1938)

3. James Henry (Harry) Hitch (9/7/1855-6/28/1941)

4. Chelcarra (Carra) Stewart Hitch (4/13/1858-4/27/1939)

5. Susanna Jane Hitch (1/23/1861-8/5/1897)

6. Thomas Tull Hitch (8/11/1863-5/23/1924)

7. Mary Ruby Hitch (2/1/1866-1968) [Age 102!]

8. Nalbro O'Neal Hitch (4/24/1869-3/3/1936)

9. Annie Sherwin hitch (1/5/1871-9/11/1896)

10. Robert Hugh Hitch (3/14/1873-6/19/1948)

11. Arthur Eugene Hitch (2/25/1876-1960)

Robert Hitch was a grand father and man taken with the poetry and love of life. He seemed to reflect great insight into his time here on earth. This is depicted in several of his writings and correspondences he left behind. The following is a letter dated March 22, 1863 from R.H. Hitch to his cousin Charlotte Vickers at a time when she had lost two beloved members of her family:

Poplar Grove, Ky March 22nd 63

My dear Cousin Lottie:

Time after time have we thought of answering your letter, but did not know what would most console you. I am now seated this calm sabbath evening for the purpose of pening some thoughts to you. Abbie is sitting near me reading the New York Observer, the children are out at play, but I hear little Susie fretting for she is quite indisposed. Josephus and Sarah Hitch were here today have left a short time since; their folks at home are well. Edgar Moore is here, they all moved down to the Pepper farm last Monday, and are there settled for the present year. They are all well. Henry & Luther's families are well also. Mary and family with the exception of Sallie Wright were well at last account. We have passed through a very disagreeable winter as regards to the weather but it is more rather springlike and our (f)ields begin to look green. What a blessing (it is) that the lovely spring time succeeds (the co)ld cheerles winter. In the language of Pollok "The seasons came and went; And went and came to teach us gratitude." Truly nature is a good & great teacher and the lessons taught us should cheer us in this world of affliction. Our American poet Longfellow says something like the following, "Be still sad heart and cease thy pining, Behind the clouds the sun is shining. Some days must be dark and dreary." And what a happy thing it is to think that the darkest day will pass away.

Lottie we were so glad to hear through Will's letter that you had a friend with you to cheer you amid the dark hours of affliction. Thus it is that God will never suffer his children to be afflicted more than they are able to bear.

We anticipate a visit from you when the season becomes agreeable to travel and I assure you we will be glad to see you and converse face to face. O how often I have thought of your sainted mother, & your beloved uncle in the last two months.

Yes I have thought by night & by (day) of the excellency of their char(acter). And once in particular in my dreams I saw your uncle Thos. visiting our old homested as he often did in bygone days. He appeared to me in all the vigor and bloom of youth. And how delightful was our meeting. And I could but wonder if the good Being had not permitted him to visit the friends of his kindred who loved him so much. I am not a Spiritualist but I do think that the Bible clearly teaches that there are guardian Angels & ministering spirits permitted to encamp around about those who fear Him. And it is presumptuous in us to suppose that they are not composed of our friends while upon earth. Be that as it may it is pleasant to think of them, and to live in hope of meeting them when these mortal evils are shuffled off. Dear Lot be of good cheer notwithstanding all the troubles and trials we are passing through. God will sustain us if we trust Him. All of your relatives here take or feel an interest in your welfare and love to hear from you. And as I take pleasure in giving them all the information I can in reference to you all I hope you will (wr)ite. And excuse me for my tardiness (. . .) I will try to write to him soon.

(Be)st regards to yourself & all. Your friend, R.H. Hitch (5)

The Figure below is a photograph of Robert H. Hitch taken circa 1860.

This letter presents a unique insight into the personality and spirituality of a man who lived and died more than 120 years ago. Such insight is usually lost with the passing of time and we today are lucky that such correspondences have survived over the years to give us the benefit of this window into the past.

For his 35th birthday, on February 26, 1860, Robert H. Hitch's sister, Rachel Shiles Hitch bought him a journal. She meant for him to keep a daily accounting of his life through that same journal which he did faithfully until his death in 1877. In a letter dated February 26, 1860, Rachel tells Robert of the journal:

February 26, 1860

Dear Robert

I tried hard to get to Concord today but have failed, owing to two visitors, Alice Thomason and Henry Hitch. You must commence tonight with your journal. It takes but little time to keep one and I think they are very interesting and useful. My love to all. Come when you can, all of you.

Your sister,


Donovan Hitch of Covington, KY, a grandson of Robert H. Hitch, has been so kind to provide me with excerpts from the diary of the man. While much of the journal referred to the weather and other sundry things, there are also many references to the family and political climate of the country that was enthralled in the Civil War throughout the first five years of the 1860s. I leave it to the reader to glean the events of this tumultuous time through the eyes of a Hitch family member:

Excerpts from the Diary of Robert Hamilton Hitch:

Feb 28 1861

During the present month political excitement has been unusual but perhaps not as great throughout the country as in last month. The prospect on this last day of the month is some better for compromise than has been.

March 12 1861

Political affairs interesting.

March 25 1861

Cloudy forenoon, rainy evening. Ploughed today. The wind blew down a dead tree which came near killing my two plough nags which were in the harness near the tree. Providential escape. Not a sparrow falls without God's notice.

March 28 1861

Martins appeared on the 25th of the present month.

Apr 1 1861

Went to Falmouth county court day today. Stevenson and Hogan made speechs (sic); did not hear much.

Apr 7 1861

Abba (wife) joined the Presbyterian Church.

Apr 8 1861

Swallows appeared on the first of the month.

Apr 12 1861

Ft. Sumter attacked by South Carolina today.

Apr 15 1861

Great political excitement. Ft. Sumter taken by the Southern Conf.

Apr 18 1861

Political excitement continuing.

Apr 19 1861

Virginia seceded. Ky occupied neutral position.

Apr 22 1861

Troops left Cynthiana (KY) for the Southern Conf today.

Apr 26 1861

Went to Catawba, got a paper, war news plenty.

Apr 30 1861

The political excitement general, north and south. God alone knows the final destiny of our once happy country.

May 4 1861

Election day today. Union sentiment strong in our precinct.

May 6 1861

Union vote in Ky carried in this county.

May 11 1861

Great excitement last night about negro mobs.

May 14 1861

Political excitement continues, north and south.

May 16 1861

Great concern is expressed by every good citizen for the welfare of our country.

July 24 1861

Great battle last Sunday at Manassas, Va.

Aug 5 1861

Election day. Union ticket elected in this county.

Aug 13 1861

Cloudy and cool. Went to see Rachel (this is his sister Rachel Shiles Hitch, the person that gave him this journal), She is quite sick of cholera morbus. The boys made rails. P.D. Rush and family visitors this evening.

Aug 14 1861

Fair and pleasant. Dug potatoes and prepared the ground for turnips. The boys made rails. Went at night to see Rachel. Stopped all night. She is very ill of fever.

Aug 15 1861

Continues fine weather for growing crops. Continued rail making. Went after supper to see Rachel; fear she is dangerously ill. Returned after 10 o'clock.

Aug 16 1861

Fine day. Went with Abbie in the forenoon to see Rachel who is quite sick. Repaired fence in the evening. Slept all night at C.A.W.'s (this is C.A. Wanderlohr, husband of Rachel S. Hitch who see married on November 30, 1857).

Aug 17 1861

Little warmer today. At Rachel's in the forenoon and afternoon. Symptoms a little favorable. Hope she will get well.

Aug 18 1861

Called up at 4 o'clock to see poor sister Rachel. Found her dying. But thanks to God who gave her the victory. She died after one o'clock P.M. Rainy evening.

Aug 19 1861

Rainy forenoon and part of the evening. Sister Rachel was buried this afternoon. A large number of friends and relatives attended the burial. Feel sad.

Aug 22 1861

Shower in the morning, heavy rain at noon. Hauled some rails and attended to other matters. Evening cloudy. SAD DAYS.

Aug 31 1861

A slight earthquake this morning near five o'clock.

Sept 7 1861

A fine autumn day. Went to Catawba with mutton. Received a message of A.D. Moore's (his brother-in-law) sudden departure to the Southern Army.

Sept 9 1861

A very fine day. Went in the evening to Covington, Ky. Stopped at Drovers Inn. Politics and stock were the subject @f the night.

Sept 24 1861

Curt (slave) went to Falmouth to cook for the union encampment.

Sept 27 1861

Soldiers are going to the railroad by the thousand.

Oct 3 1861

Got a letter from A.D. Moore to Rebecca Moore (his sister). Conveyed it to her today. Learn from it that he is in the Southern Army in Tenn.

Oct 4 1861

Mefford and others sent to Ft. Lafayette for rebelling against the Government of the U.S.

Oct 6 1861

Much excitement in politics.

Jan 11 1862

Went to Rebecca's to a tobacco stripping today, several there.

Feb 8 1862

Went to R.J. Moore's and made some arrangements to sell her farm.

Feb 21 1862

Hauled some wood for Rebecca. Went to look at some land and returned home in the evening.

Feb 22 1862

Went to Falmouth on business for R.J. Moore.

Feb 24 1862

Was at Miss Ringo's in the evening on business for R.J.M.

Feb 25 1862

Uncle Thomas Hitch died last Saturday, Feb 22 1862. [Thomas Hitch was the brother of Joseph Hitch]

Mar 1 1862

Received two letters, one from Thomas Tull, the other from W.B. Vickers informing us A.D. Moore was a prisoner at Indianapolis, also took a letter from the office to Rebecca from A.D.M. giving an account of his capture at Ft. Donaldson.

Mar 3 1862

Cold rain this morning, river very high. Was to see Rachel's little babe at G.J. Hitch's. She is very sick, will probably die tonight. Abbie remained all night to help nurse her.

Mar 4 1862

Little Mary Wanderlohr died last night about 8 o'clock. Was buried this evening beside her mother.

Mar 11 1862

Fine day; tramped rye and went to Gabriel's to eat sugar. Manassas surrendered by the rebels.

Apr 7 1862

Rained the entire day, river rose at night. My old canoe escaped.

Apr 8 1862

Followed my canoe and found it at Matthew Wright's. Titus W. charged 75 cents for stopping the canoe.

Apr 9 1862

Rained vilently (sic) most of the day and snowed hard in the evening, late. Read Shakespeare's tragedy of Hamlet to Abbie and Exira.

Apr 12 1862

Troubles in the country continue.

April 16 1862

Black Hawk twenty-seven years old today. (Black Hawk was Joseph Hitch's faithful dog)

May 5 1862

Went to R.J. Moore s and sheared her sheep.

May 8 1862

Planted corn in Rebecca's field.

May 28 1862

Fine rain last night, cloudy today. Went to R.J. Moore's to attend a Sheriff s sale.

June 30 1862

Fighting at Richmond, Va.

July 4 1862

Continues fair and warm. Went to Flour Creek to a celebration. Very fine time.

July 14 1862

Great political or war trouble in Ky now.

July 18 1862

Morgan, the rebel guerrilla took Cynthiana yesterday. Ben Hitch (his nephew, son of brother George Jackson Hitch) and others from here were taken prisoners but were released today.

July 19 1862

Great excitement in the country. Ben Hitch returned home this P.M.

Aug 7 1862

Ben Hitch left for the army today.

Aug 8 1862

Soldiers took possession of D. Rush's and L.M.H.'s (his brother Luther Muir Hitch) guns.

Aug 9 1862

Morgan reported in Kentucky again.

Aug 12 1862

Mary Moore came today.

Aug 13 1,862

Went with Mary Moore to Rebecca's, from there to A.L. Pepper's.

Aug 30 1862

Very warm. Finished my business at Covington. Met A.D. Moore who was taken prisoner at Ft. Donaldson last Feb. and is now out on oath of allegiance. We shook hands as Union brothers and came home in his company.

Sept 1 1862

A.D. Moore still at our house (probably dog house). Our Union forces had a battle with the Confederate forces near Richmond, Ky. Many of our men killed, wounded and taken prisoners.

Sept 2 1862

A.D. Moore had a chill this evening.

Sept 4 1862

Went to Falmouth, great excitement. Lexington, Paris and Cynthiana abandoned by the Union forces.

Sept 5 1862

Curt hauled a load of soldiers to Poe's and hauled some peaches and a cane mill back for January. Some troops taken up to Falmouth. Great excitement.

Sept 6 1862

No papers this week since Monday, nor no mail ..... (Saturday)

Sept 8 1862

A.D. Moore and L.M. Hitch visitors.

Sept 9 1862

Went to H. Anderson's on business for Moore. Falmouth was taken by the Confederates yesterday.

Sept 15 1862

Saw a company of Union Cavalry.

Sept 17 1862

Falmouth bridge burned by rebels.

Sept 18 1862

Great war excitement in Ky generally.

Sept 23 1862

Rebel soldiers at Falmouth.

Sept 24 1862

Heard cannon in a southern direction.

Sept 27 1862

Part of the rebels at Falmouth left today for Bracken.

Sept 29 1862

Augusta partly burned and taken by the rebels on last Saturday.

Oct 11 1862

Large Union force in Falmouth.

Oct 16 1862

A train of cars up today as far as Falmouth.

Oct 20 1862

Soldiers pressed my team to haul timber.

Oct 22 1862

Sixty wagons of army stores passed L.M.H.'s.

Oct 24 1862

Went to Falmouth with Willie & Harrie to see the soldiers. All left but one regiment.

Nov 7 1862

Two wagons hauled by six mules each, came down to D. Rush's for loads of hay for the Govt.

Dec 24 1862

A.D. Moore arrived from Indianapolis.

Dec 31 1862

Thus has passed away 1862 and with it thousands of our fellow citizens. And tonight the voice of mourning is heard around the firesides that one year ago were joyful. Such is the horror of war. It removes not the old and decrepit but the youth and those who are in the prime of manhood. It is strange, then that the voice of lamentation is heard in the land, like Rachel of old, weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are not. And who can tell what the end will be? Before another year closes thousands more must perish unless God in His goodness should let the cup pass away. For we feel that vain is the help of man. May God grant that the cup of bitterness may soon be removed and may there be a general outpouring of His spirit upon all the land until there will be a general shout heard, "Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."

Jan 13 1863

Letter from W.B. Vickers giving the painful news of the death of Thomas Tull and Col. Richard O'Neil.

Feb 23 1863

Rebel raid in Ky.

Feb 25 1863

Frogs commenced hallowing.

Feb 28 1863

Doves began to coo.

Mch 25 1863

Soldiers are pressing all the colored men to work at Lexington.

Apr 9 1863

Went with T.C. Houston to Callansville to try the efficiency of a mad stone.

Apr 13 1863

Chopped and rolled logs. Moore let the fire get to the fence.

Apr 16 1863

Repaired fence in forenoon; went to L.M. Hitch's and A.D. Moores. Black Hawk 28 years old today.

June 3 1863

Cool and cloudy, went to Covington, attended to considerable business. Stopped all night.

June 4 1863

Warm today, cool evening. No passenger cars today and I came up the Ohio River to Foster and walked home by 10 o'clock.

June 6 1863

Pleasant day. Was very sick last night and today with cholera morbus.

June 17 1863

Went with Abbie to L.M.H.'s in the evening to see Rebecca Hitch.

June 25 1863

Rebecca Hitch was buried this evening. Fannie Ringo died this PM.

June 26 1863

Went to Falmouth today to get materials for burying F. Ringo.

July 4 1863

Went to Boston to a picnic. Am tired.

Aug 3 1863

Went to the election and voted for all the Union candidates. Quiet election.

Aug 5 1863

Favorable election news.

Dec 8 1863

Cloudy and cool. Went with H.P. Hitch to Falmouth to assist in getting marriage license for P. Sullivan and Sallie Wright (his niece). We failed and the party took the evening train for Cincinnati.

Dec 9 1863

Cloudy. Three of the wedding party returned on the morning train from Cincinnati and report no success. I went with them to A.L. Pepper's (his brother-in-law) and obtained certificate for license for Sullivan and Sallie Wright who were married tonight at William Sullivan's.

Dec 17 1863

Showery forenoon, cold and windy evening and night. J. Houston and Mary Moore married today.

Dec 21 1863

Fair and warmer than yesterday. Found a canoe and killed a wild turkey in forenoon. Slaughtered four hogs in PM.

Dec 25 1863

Fine bright day. Willie and Jas Wandelohr came down on the cars from Falmouth. Had a wild turkey for dinner. Hunted some with the boys.

Dec 28 1863

Cool and cloudy with some rain. Licking River high. Crossed Licking sixteen times during the day. A number of persons here today.

Dec 29 1863

Cloudy forenoon, fair evening. Went to Catawba in the morning. Went with Abbie and Will to G.J. Hitch's at night to attend an oyster supper. Not many present.

Feb 12 1864

Fair and pleasant. Mrs. Harrington, Garrard McKee and Rush visitors. Went to Joe Hitch's at night to doctor a sick ox.

Feb 15 1864

Another fine day. Shucked some corn in forenoon and split 58 rails.

Feb 16 1864

Snowed some last night and turned suddenly cold and windy. Tis too cold for any work if it could be avoided.

Feb 18 1864

Still continues cold. Crossed Licking on the ice this morning.

March 16 1864

Snowed considerable last night and also today. Sowed more seed. Vaccinated D. Rush's children, Al Purdy and lady visitors.

March 17 1864

Another stormy March day. Hauled wood in forenoon. A.L. Burke here enrolling the names of negroes for soldiers.

Apr 4 1864

Rained last night and showery today. Was at Falmouth at a large Union convention.

Apr 16 1864

Changeable with some rain. Worked road and ploughed some. Black Hawk 29 years old today.

May 10 1864

Rained a little last night and some hard showers today some in forenoon. A hard battle was fought in Virginia between Grant's and Lee's forces last Thursday and Friday. Union gain.

May 13 1864

Fair and pleasant. Ploughed corn ground. General Grant gained a victory in Virginia.

June 9 1864

Rebel raid in Ky, two or three bridges burned.

July 4 1864

Fair and pleasant. Shot poor old Black Hawk as an act of mercy toward him. Cradled rye and went to Ash Run, etc.

July 30 1864

Warm and very dry, pastures drying up and corn suffering for rain. Hoed potatoes and sowed turnip seed. Exira M. Waggaman here, borrowed ten dollars of me for three months. Went to Catawba in the afternoon. Bradford and Mullins threatening each other's lives.

Aug 11 1864

Went with three of the children to Covington and got their pictures taken. Children returned.

Aug 12 1864

Warm, a little sprinkle of rain. Came home from Covington, got our cloth, etc.

Aug 17 1864

Heavy shower of rain today. Helped raise a kitchen for A.D. Moore.

Aug 22 1864

Dark and smoky. Prepared for covering house and repairing an ox yoke, Union soldiers pressing horses.

Aug 23 1864

Clear but very smoky. Went to Falmouth in the morning, was at L.M. & Geo. Hitch's ... L. Hitch's Jake joined the Union Army.

Sept 4 1864

Terrible storm last night, Licking arose high, my old canoe departed.

Nov 2 1864

Showery day. Stripped broom corn and chopped wood in the AM, went to A.L. Pepper's in the evening and heard a Union speech.

Nov 4 1864

Cool, cloudy day with some rain. Went with Rebecca Moore to Butler station, got glass etc.

Nov 8 1864

Heavy showers of rain. Went to the election and voted for Lincoln and Johnson for President and Vice President of the U.S.

Dec 3 1864

Rained hard last night, faired up this morning. Went to Falmouth, chopped wood, gathered corn, etc.- Bought a sewing machine for $18.00.

Dec 22 1864

Very cold. Cut and hauled wood. Four raftmen with us tonight.

Dec 23 1864

A very cold forenoon. Helped row a raft across the river.

Dec 30 1864

Cloudy day, commenced snowing in the evening, continued most of the night. Shucked corn in the forenoon, went to the school exhibition in the evening. Was at the children's party at A.D.M.'s at night.

Dec 31 1864

The deepest snow of the winter and quite cold. Chopped and hauled up drags of wood. Feel depressed in spirits.

Jan 23 1865

Snowed considerable last night and forenoon today. Went to ESQ Fields and engaged in a fox chase.

Feb 1 1865

Fair bright day. Went to A.G. Fields for the purpose of engaging in a fox chase, but could find no fox.

Feb 11 1865

Another fair day. Sugar water ran some today. Willie and I hunted some in the afternoon, killed one squirrel.

Sunday Feb 26 1865

Cloudy and cool. Several of our friends dined with us, it being my fiftieth birthday. Very pleasant time.

Apr 7 1865

Showery day. Took one box of vegetables to Catawba to send on to the sick and wounded soldiers.

Apr 11 1865

Rainy day. Shelled corn and went to G.J. Hitch's. Lee's Army surrendered to Grant about the 3rd.

Apr 15 1865

Cloudy day with a little rain. President Lincoln and Secretary Seward were assassinated last night in Washington. Was at T.C. Houstons and Boston today.

Apr 17 1865

Another fine day. Went to Falmouth and conveyed land to Garvey. Seward is not dead.

Dec 31 1865

A dark cloudy day. At home today. Thanks be to God the war has ceased and we are yet alive to enjoy peace ........

Robert Hamilton Hitch died on August 23, 1877 at the age of 62. His wife Abigail lived for another 46 years when she passed on on January 10, 1923 at age 91. Both are buried in the old Hitch family graveyard on the old Joseph Hitch farm in Pendleton Co., Kentucky. Verifying what we know of the great character of this man what we have seen herein with his writings, are two obituaries: one written in the Falmouth Independent (Falmouth, KY) shortly after his death and one written nearly six months later by his dear friend William B. Vickers. Read them for yourself as a fitting closing to this article:
The Falmouth Independent, Thursday, November 26, 1877:

"It has been suggested that an obituary notice, embracing a fuller statement of the life and character of our esteemed friend, the late Robert H. Hitch, than has been written, would be acceptable, and would be only an act of justice to a very worthy and excellent citizen.

He had a poetic element in his nature which led him in early life to delight in the beauties of nature and also to read and diligently study the English and American poets. As a friend he was true, sincere and constant and was not willing that the ties of friendship once formed should ever be broken.

As a father he loved to see the peculiar traits of their character and watch their development. As a husband, he was considerate, tender and loving. He remarked when ill, at the rate I am now failing and have been for a few days, I shall die in about two weeks! This came to pass very near the time he had named. His last words spoken to his brother George A. Hitch, Esq.; - "Happy, Happy, perfectly happy"

He was ill for twelve years, as he lived the life of a Christian, he died the death of an saint. He has left to his children the patrimony of an honest and pious life, a noble inheritance for his children, better than the riches of earth."


To the Editor of the Independent

Sir: Reading quite recently for the first time various tributes to the memory of my dear deceased friend, whose name heads this article, I am impelled even at this late day to add my testimony to his worth and the many excellent social qualities which endeared him not only to his family and to his immediate circle of friends but to all with whom he came in contact, however slightly. I appreciate and fully endorse all that has been said of his high religious character and his unusual worth as a citizen. He was indeed a manly man in all the relations of life. He went to the grave at a ripe age, without a single spot upon his reputation, and his blameless life was and is a noble inheritance for his children. But his life was eminently and pre-eminently a useful one, not only as an example but in its practical everyday influence upon those around him. The world was better because he lived in it, and happier too. It was a pleasure to know him. even casually. I well remember an incident illustrative of this fact. During my residence at Indianapolis Mr. Hitch visited me occasionally, and at such times it was my privilege and pleasure to introduce him to many of our best citizens, some of them eminent in the world of letters and others prominent in the field of politics or in business. All these, from the highest to the lowest, were pleased and glad to know such a man, and would have showered him with many attentions had not his quiet, modest retiring nature led him to avoid the very appearance of courting such compliments. One day pressing duties prevented me from attending him as usual as he started out for walk alone. A few hours later he returned in a carriage accompanied by a wealthy and rather blue-blooded" citizen, who showed so much interest In Mr. H. and parted from him so reluctantly that I at once concluded they had discovered some tie of blood or consanguinity or possibly that they had been boys together. It appeared however, that Mr. H. did not even know the stranger's name. He had fallen in with him on the street somewhere, had "struck up" an acquaintance, and in a very short time had made such a favorably impression on his new acquaintance that the latter invited him not only to ride in his carriage but to visit him at the house and remain there as long as he pleased. The hospitable offer was declined but those who knew Mr. H. as I did will bear me out in the assertion that he would have honored the stately mansion by becoming its guest, and that would have been, as Mr. Thompson wrote of him, as much at home in the abodes of the wealthy and refined as in his own plain farm house where he was born and where be died. He was a gentleman by instinct; a better, braver, truer, nobler gentleman than many a sprig of nobility or wealth on whom fortunes have been lavished in a vain attempt to supply by education and breeding and travel those finer graces of character which Robert Hitch held by inheritance and which more than supplied his lack of learning and his ignorance of fashionable follies.

Green be the grave and the memory of this nobleman of nature; this friend of friends; this prince of manhood. I count among the noblest gifts of time to me his influence upon my life and the many happy hours spent in his sweet society. I have traveled far to stand beside his grave; would that I could bring a worthier tribute to his memory.

W.B. Vickers

Poplar Grove, Ky., April 29, 1878.


This is the story about a tree. Not just any tree, but a very SPECIAL tree. Back in about 1910, this tree was about six or seven years old and living content in a wooded area on a farm on the southern Eastern Shore of Maryland. The tree was a maple, common to the area, and being springtime, it was just displaying its new green leaves that would take through the summer until they turned a brilliant shade of crimson in the autumn. This was a truly fine existence for a tree that might well live over one hundred years within the shelter of this little patch of woods.

However, that was not to be. For on this spring day, a man approached and cut the tree down flush with the earth and quickly rid the trunk of its leaves and branches. It was then hauled one quarter of a mile across a freshly tilled field to a spot at the back end of a yard in front of a newly-built barn. You see, this man was a farmer and he needed a sturdy post to which he would hitch his mules and horses between chores. A hole was dug and the trunk of the tree was placed within and securely backfilled with dirt until the once majestic tree was now a perfectly set post in an open yard. The farmer then drove an inch-square piece of solid iron about three feet in length deep into the eight-inch post.

Over the years that followed, the post served its purpose well as a convenient parking spot for all types of farm animals. It also became a favorite spot to play for the children of the family to climb on and around in the imagination of their games. The former tree, while not living a majestic life within the woods as it started out, was getting lots of attention in this small farmyard.

This is when the magic began to occur. That tree, which was reduced to nothing more that a slim post about eight inches in diameter and eight feet in length, began to grow! First one root ventured into the surrounding earth, then another and another. Also, slim shoots tipped with tender buds began to pop out of the trunk and these sported tiny leaves in a very short time. The tree began to live again!

Over the years that followed, the tree not only lived - it thrived. The farmer who planted the post back in 1910 was my great grandfather, Samuel Clarence Hitch. Five years before, he had cut many other trees in that very same woods to build a house in which to shelter his new wife, Vergie, and begin to raise a family and make a living on the farm. In 1908, my grandfather, George Carroll Hitch, was born in that farmhouse.

I grew up in that very same house. I also played around and in that post-turned-tree. As a boy in the early 1970s, my brother and I, with other boys in the neighborhood built a large fort high up in the branches of that tree. The iron rod that was driven into it in 1910 served as the first step for a ladder which elevated us young ones into the first level of branches that was the foundation of our fort.

Today, that "post" stands about eighty feet tall with about an equal breadth to cast a huge summertime shadow and transcends into a brilliant panorama of red and yellow in the mid-Atlantic autumn. The trunk that was about eight inches in diameter when placed in its current location is now a good four feet in diameter. The iron rod that once served as a hitching post now protrudes only about 4 inches from the trunk that has literally swallowed it up over the past 87 years and now it serves as a curious artifact to my children - a fifth generation of the family to explore and make use of these grounds.

The tree on this old Hitch farm shows me many parallels with the Hitch family and other families in this country. All are survivors and show great adaptability when faced with problems in life, even those that may be catastrophic in nature.

I think of our ancestors in the old world who dared to venture to a new country in search of work, religious freedom, or other goals. They were just like our tree - cut down flush with the earth - and relocated elsewhere with an unknown chance of survival. And, also just like our tree - these people sprouted roots and branches and grew strong in their new environs over many years.

I also think of our ancestors, several generations descended from the original immigrants, who chose to venture westward in a new country in search of fame and fortune or just a piece of land to call their own. These folks also were "cut flush with the earth" and transposed to a new existence somewhere very distant from their original roots.

Finally, I think of the modern-day descendants of these people who face their own personal life successes and tragedies. There are times where, physically or emotionally, their lives may be "cut down" but they find ways to sprout roots and branches anew to go on with life. The same resiliency shown by our tree in 1910 is alive and well in the great American family tree of the 1990s. We can all learn well from the story of our tree and encourage the grow of buds and tender leaves in the springtime of our lives, provide the comfort and security of the shade to our young ones in our summer, and continue to shine with the brilliance of bright colors in our autumn. - Mike Hitch

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Mike Hitch

12310 Backus Drive

Bowie, MD 20720

Telephone: (301) 805-9855

1. Most of the account of Joseph Hitch comes from a "History of the Hitch Family" prepared by Robert Hamilton Hitch (son of Joseph) and read at a picnic on the Pendleton Co. Hitch Farm in 1873. This account was sent to me by several sources, the first being Donovan Hitch of Covington, KY (grandson of Robert H. Hitch)

2. Somerset Co., Maryland Marriage Records

3. Worcester Co., Maryland Land Records, Liber AA, Folio 338.

4. This letter is also in the collection of Donovan Hitch of Covington, Kentucky which he sent me to copy.

5. This original letter was sent to me to copy by Donovan Hitch of Covington, KY. Note that all grammar and spelling remains as written. Text in parenthesis indicate supposed text where a small corner of the letter had been ripped away.