This photograph of Ransom Osborn was found in the family bible of Buenos Ayres. Ransom married Sarah Hurd, and their first child, Sarah Ann Osborn, married Orlando Ayres in 1815 in Kirtland, Geauga County, Ohio. According to the 18?? U.S. Census, Ransom lived in the Ayres household in Defiance County, Ohio.
A significant even in Ransom’s life is recorded in the story below. As well, the story is recounted in a letter from A to B, which follows.
A MAN FREEZING IN THE WOODS
The Students Series Third Reading Book, Lesson 27
J. S. Drenman; New York, Pratt, Woodford, 1851
Late in the autumn of eighteen hundred thirty six. A western pioneer let his home is the little village a Hicksville in Williams County Ohio; and with his ox team and a load of grain, bent his course toward Fort Wayne in the state of Indiana, for the purpose of having his grain manufactured into flour and meal for the use of his family.
The distance was about 25 miles; the country was new; and his road lay through a dense forest, along a winding path, from which a few bushes had been cut to enable teams to pass. Eighteen miles of the distance was an unbroken wilderness, in which the timid deer roamed by day, and the dismal howl of the prowling wolf was heard by night.
About three o’clock in the afternoon of the day following the one on which he left home, he entered the long woods homeward bound, with a load of flour and meal. It is a level country through which he had to pass; and the heavy rains, which had recently fallen, had covered the lower portion of the road with water. The weather had been mild, but on the day of his return it suddenly changed and became intensely cold. When he entered the woods it was freezing, and the ice was fast collecting on the water, which covered much of the ground over which he had to pass.
His team soon grew weary; and as the ice through which they were constantly treading, cut their legs and made them shy, they refused to quicken their pace, notwithstanding he urged the forward with all the skill of a western teamster. The day was fast waning, and the shades of night hung around. The cold still increased; and a night came on the poor man trembled for his safety. The earth was at length shrouded in darkness; and as he moved slowly onward, feeling his way, and guided by his team, the water froze on his pantaloons as he broke through the ice, and his feet became very cold. For a long time he continued to urge his team forward, through the thick darkness, but at length they halted and refused to go.
He unyoked them; and turning them loose in the woods, left his load and hastened onward; hoping to reach some human habitation, and be relieved from his sufferings by the warmth of some hospitable fire, and the hearty welcome of some western pioneer. On, on, he went; but his limbs were soon weary and his heart grew sad, for the ice continued to collect on his pantaloons, and his feet became extremely cold. Ere long his feet were numb; and it was with great difficulty he could raise them from the ground. He could no longer walk without support; but raising his hands above his head, he took hold of the projecting branches and swung himself forward from tree to tree, often supporting himself for a long time against the trunk of an aged birch or elm, while he sent forth hi loud cries of sorrow and distress and listened for an answer, but no answer came.
His wife, the partner of his cares was far away; where the blazing fire and supper table were awaiting his return; but he came not. The clock struck eight, and the anxious wife stood in the door to listen. The cold winds roared through the forest but she heard no approaching team; and with a sad heart she closed the door and sat beside the fire. Again she listened but no one appeared; and in silence she sat beside the supper table with her children. One seat was vacant; and as she gazed upon it a shade of sadness rested on on her brow. She heard a noise; and with mingled feelings of hope and fear, again she listened at the door. It was the wind. No other sound greeted her ear.
The children’s meal was finished and the dishes set beside the fire; for she said to herself “He will surely come yet”. The plates were left upon the table, and she sat alone by the fire, for the children were all in bed. Again she listened at the door; but the dismal sound of the cold roaring wind was all she heard. The clock struck ten eleven- twelve, and still she sat bed\side the fire, or listened at the door. He came not; but in her mind’s eye she saw him in the woods and heard him urging on his team. She hears the crackling ice- the team stands still- the winds are driving past; she hears the falling trees – a crash – a shriek – a groan. She starts and walks the floor. She knows it is imagination; but she weeps.
The clock strikes one, and with a heavy heart she goes to bed. She sleeps; and in her dreams she hears her freezing husband’s cries. She sees him lying on the ground sleeping a frozen sleep, and hears the prowling wolves as they approach the tear his flesh. She starts. She wakes – tis morning – and she knows it a dream, but the tears trickle down her cheeks for still he does not come.
At midnight, when she was waiting his return he stood beside some aged tree, calling for help; but the distant howl of the wolf, as rolled along through the forest, and his own cry of distress, which echoed right back to him, were the only answers he received. There was no human being within the sound of his voice, and as its sharp tones echoed and reechoed through the forest, the timid deer listened in silence or bounded away from suspected dangers; while the wolf howled more fiercely than ever, and the dismal sound struck dolefully upon the ear of the suffering man.
As he dragged his stiffened limbs slowly from tree to tree; the thought of his family filled his mind with sadness; for his heart yearned over his beloved children and he wept bitterly when the thought of their helpless condition, if he should see them no more. He thought of death, of the grave, and of the future state; and as he constantly became more and more exhausted, his hopes of temporal life faded and grew dim, and despair crept slowly upon him.
Just before the dawn of day when his heart was fast sinking within him and despair was about to make him its victim, the distant barking of a dog saluted his ears. He heard the sound with raptures of delight. Reviving hope gave strength to his freezing limbs, despair forsook him and he felt that life was his. With increased effort he drew his body onward, even and anon sending forth his loud and piercing cries, until the forest rang with the echoes.
Soon a voice, a human voice, was heard upon the wind, it reached his ears. He listened. It came again, and with a cry, louder and shriller than any he had before uttered, he answered it. The voice proceeded from a man who lived where the sufferer had heard the barking of the dog. He came, and with him was the faithful animal. The poor man was taken from the woods so badly frozen that it was found necessary to amputate both of his legs just below the knee joint.
His life was spared, and he soon met with his family, but it would be unnecessary to attempt a description of the affecting scene which then took place.