Reflections: Norval Heskett’s memories

By Evelyn Long - Contributing Columnist

Several months ago I shared some of the interview made with Norval Heskett on his 90th birthday. I want to share more of that interview when he described the history of his ancestors and his experiences.

At the time of his 90th birthday, he lived four miles south of Mount Gilead on State Route 61. Interviewed by the Morrow County Sentinel, Norval said he was born Feb. 22, 1857, north of Bethel in Morrow County. He was a resident of Morrow County his entire life with the exception of seven years when he lived just over the county line north of Centerburg.

He shared that his great grandmother, Mrs. Sarah Nichols, had been an Ohio pioneer driving through with her twelve children from Lauden County, West Virginia, in a covered wagon. Her husband had arrived in Ohio earlier and had secured land east of Mt Gilead but shortly after his return to get his family, he died.

He said that one of the early things he recalled was the weekly arrival of the Sentinel. It always came to his house and he had an old copy dated 1851 still in his possession. (Note: This was just three years after the paper, then called “The Whig Sentinel, was founded).

Norval recalled when wheat was thrashed by the tramping of horses hooves on the barn floor. The grain ends were put in the center of a large circle and horses trained for the job would circle around until the grain was separated from the straw. Farmers would then wait until a windy day when they would open the barn doors, shovel up the wheat and let the wind carry off the chaff.

He said the wheat was cut with a cradle in those days and it was not until 1880 that “Jersey” John Smith, who lived south of Edison, bought the first grain binder.

He said he was eight years old when his family moved from their home north of Cardington to a home southeast of Fulton. Fulton had not been established as a village until 1880 when the railroad track was laid.

His father, G. W. Heskett, made a trip to Cardington once a week to pick up the mail and get the carefully drawn list of staples. The trip required a full day and was made over mud and corduroy roads.

Corn was his favorite crop and the previous August he had taken ten ears of corn to the Morrow County Fair where they took first place. He had earned many prizes at the county fair through the years and had entries in the Chicago Exposition.

Many things had changed during his lifetime but he thought the most inspiring, important, awe inspiring development in his lifetime was the radio.

During the previous 60 years he had been forced to bed two short times because of illness. He attributed his good health to the fact that he never chewed tobacco, smoked or taken a drink of liquor.

Mr Heskett died March 13, 1950, at the age of 93 years. He is buried in the Bethel Cemetery.

By Evelyn Long

Contributing Columnist