It is hard to find illustrations from Kentucky's harsh winter, but this is a photo of a snowy cabin at Valley Forge from History.com
Severe snow and cold from November 1779 until the middle of March 1780 had harsh effects on the settlers. Deer coats grew thick, the buffalo turned weak very early, and geese flew over cabins and forts in long Vs. The Ohio River froze over and the Kentucky River had ice two feet thick on it. Cattle died and wolves, beavers, and otters froze to death in the woods; streams froze and fish died. Cane offered protection and winter fodder for buffalos, but when the canebrakes sleeted over, buffalo couldn’t eat the tall grass and they starved. Turkeys froze to death roosting in trees with their nose slits frozen over. “The hogs were frozen to death, the deer, not able to get water or food, were found dead in great numbers.”
Maple trees cracked as their sap froze until they burst open. Water was so scarce that a single Johnny cake would be divided into a dozen portions and distributed out to make two meals. This finally failed and the settlers survived on emaciated wild game; some people ate cows and horses that perished in the lots. Many settlers roasted buffalo skins to eat and others died for want of provisions and lack of solid food.
Nearly everyone was sick and many settlers developed frostbite and some died from the cold. Harrod, normally a very healthy man, developed rheumatism caused by wearing porous deerskin moccasins and leggings. Colonel Fleming noted the number of illnesses, especially fever and dysentery, in Harrodsburg was because the spring below the fort was washing down putrefied flesh, dead dogs, horse, cow and hog excrements into it, along with the ashes and sweepings of filthy cabins He noted they steeped skins and washed “every sort of dirty rags and clothes in the spring,” poisoning the water and making it “the most filthy, nauseous potation imaginable.”
Margaret was named for Ann’s mother, Margaret Coburn. Because of her interest in education, Ann opened the Harrod Latin School in 1786 at their home. A Latin teacher, Mr. Worley, was imported to the station for the education of Harrod’s stepson James as well as other students who came from the surrounding fortifications to dwell with Harrod. Another of the students was John Fauntleroy, then eight years of age, who would later marry Margaret and become Harrod’s son-in-law. In November 1787, young James McDonald wandered off into the woods where he was taken by Native Americans and burned at the stake. Harrod’s grievous mourning was inconsolable at the tragic loss of his adored stepson, and unable to bear the sight and sounds of the dead boy’s classmates, he closed the Latin School. The widow Fauntleroy sent her son to Lexington to finish his schooling. He would return later and marry Margaret Harrod.
Of all the twelve Harrod children, James Harrod appears to be the one most devoted to family. His wife Ann and daughter Margaret (seven years old when James disappeared) waited a year before giving up hope. Harrod’s will was made on November 28, 1791, before the fateful trip. It was probated December 1793. Harrod willed his entire estate to Ann and Margaret. An inventory showed personal items valued at more than 400 pounds.
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