[Source: "A History of Belpre, Washington County, Ohio" by Cornelius Evarts Dickinson, Samuel Prescott Hildreth - Belpre (Ohio) - 1920]
In the winter following the landing of the first pioneers at Marietta, the directors of the Ohio Company sent out exploring parties to examine their purchase, which was as yet a terra incognito. The main object of these committees was to select suitable places for the formation of their first settlements. Among the earliest and most desirable locations reported was a tract on the right bank of the Ohio river, commencing a short distance above the mouth of the Little Kanawha, and extending down the Ohio four or five miles, terminating at the narrows two miles above the Little Hocking. About one mile below the outlet of the latter stream, the river again bent to the south enclosing a rich alluvions extending two or three miles in length and one mile wide, where was formed another settlement called Newbury, or the lower colony, but included within the boundaries of Belpre. The main body of the New Colony's tract was divided into two portions known as upper and middle settlements. The lands on the river were of the richest quality; rising as they recede from the Ohio on to an elevated plain thirty or forty feet higher than the low bottoms, and extending back to the base of the hills. The plain was in some places more than half a mile in width, forming, with the bottoms, alluvions nearly a mile in extent. The soil on the plains was in some places a fertile loamy sand; in others inclined to gravel but everywhere covered with a rich growth of forest trees, and producing fine crops of small grains. About one mile below the Little Kanawha this plain came into the river presenting a lofty mural front of eighty or one hundred feet, above the surface of the water. This precipitous bank is continued for half a mile and on its brow and for some distance back isstocked with evergreens, chiefly different varieties of cedar. That portion of the plain is known as the bluffand is located near the head of Blennerhassett's Island, close by the landing and the crossing place to the mansion erected a few years later by this celebrated man. The bluff divides the upper settlement from that below. The upper lay on a beautiful curve of the river which formed nearly a semicircle, the periphery of which was about one and one-half miles, and rose gradually from the banks of the river on to the second bottom by a natural glacis, the grade and beauty of which no art of man could excel. From the lower end of the bluff the plain gradually receded from the river leaving a strip of rich bottom land about three miles in length and from one-fourth to one-third of a mile in width. This distance, like the preceding, was laid off into farms about forty rods wide, and extending back to the hills, which rise by a moderate slope to an elevation of one hundred feet above the surface of the plain and were clothed with oak and hickory to the top. This charming location was named Belle Prairie, or Beautiful Meadow, but is now generally written Belpre. The settlement was composed of about forty associates, who formed themselves into a Company and drew their lots, after they were surveyed, and platted in the winter of 1788-9.
CHARACTER OF THE SETTLERS
The larger portion of the individuals who formed this association had served as officers in the Revolution, andwhen the army was disbanded retired with a brevet promotion. To a stranger it seemed very curious that every house he passed should be occupied by a commissioned officer.No settlement ever formed west of the mountains contained so many men of real merit, sound practical sense, and refined manners. They had been in the School of Washington and were nearly or quite all personally acquainted with that great and good man. A contemporary writes : "In this little community were found those sterling qualities which should ever form the basis of the social and civil edifice, and are best calculated to perpetuate and cherish our republican institutions. Some of them had been liberally educated, and all had received the advantage of common New England schools in early life. They were habituated to industry and economy, and brought up under the influences of morality and religion. These men had been selected to lead their countrymen in battle and todefend their rights, not for their physical strength as of old, but for their moral standing and superior intellect. In old, but for their moral standing and superior intellect. In addition to these advantages they had also received a second education in the army of the revolution where they heard the precepts of wisdom and witnessed the examples of bravery and fortitude; learning at the same time the necessity of subordination to law and good order, in promoting the happiness and prosperity of mankind."
The Belpre associates who had passed the winter in Marietta commenced moving on to their farms early in April ; several families however did not occupy their farms until the following year. Log houses, mostly small, were built near the bank of the river, for the convenience of water and a free circulation of air; into these the families moved.
Then commenced the cutting down and girdling the immense forest trees which covered the rich bottoms and lifted their lofty heads towards the clouds. A fence of rails was built on the back side of their fields, next the woods to protect their crops from the cattle, but the grounds were left open on the river bank. Paths between the neighboring houses ran through their fields or on the outside ofthe fence in the margin of the woods. In several places springs of pure water gushed out under the banks of the river and ran in gentle rills to the Ohio, affording a rich treat to the fortunate neighbor in the heat of summer, when compared with the warm and often turbid water of the "Belle Riviere."
CAPT. ZEBULON KING KILLED.
Soon after the pioneers had commenced laboring on their lands their ardor was for a while paralyzed, and their hope of undisturbed and quiet possession of their new homes greatly weakened, by the murder of Capt. King by the Indians. His land lay in the middle settlement and while he was busily engaged in chopping on May 1st he was shot and scalped by two Indians. It was thought at the time they were Indians who had escaped from confinement in Fort Harmar, where they had been detained since the outrage, at Duncan's Falls the previous summer. Captain King was from Rhode Island, where his family yet remained. He intended to move them after he had prepared a house and raised a crop for their support. He had been an officer in the United States Army and was a most excellent man. His loss was deeply felt and lamented by all his fellow pioneers.
Owing to the laborious task in preparing and fencing the land, it was past the middle of June before all the cornwas planted. Though late, if the sun could have penetratedthe thick branches of the girdled trees and thoroughly warmed the earth, pushing forward the growth of the corn,as it does in an open sunny exposure, there might have been a tolerable crop, but while the tender ears were stillin the milk, a frost, early in October, destroyed the hopes of the husbandmen, leaving them with a scanty allowance for the Winter, and the prospect of great suffering before another crop could be raised; and although two or three hundred acres had been planted in the settlement theamount fit for use was very small. The calamity was general throughout the region west of the mountains and was the more severely felt as Indian corn was their only source for bread. In the earlier settlements at head water there was a tolerable crop of wheat, and on the older and early planted fields the corn had ripened before the frost, so that those who had money could purchase bread for their families, but few of the new settlers had the means of doing this, their cash having been spent on the journey and for provision since their arrival. By the middle of February scarcity of bread stuff began to be seriously felt. Many families had no other meal for their bread than that made from moldy corn and were sometimes destitute even of this for several days in succession.
Such portions of the damaged grain as could be selected hard enough for meal sold for nine Shillings (or$1.50) a bushel; and when ground in hand mills and made into bread, few stomachs were able to digest it or even toretain it for a few minutes. It produced sickness and vomiting. The late Charles Devoll, Esq., one of the earlysettlers, then a small boy, used to relate with much feeling his gastronomic trials with this moldy meal, made into a dish called sap porridge, which, when composed of soundcorn meal and fresh saccharine juice of maple afforded both a nourishing and savory food. The family had been both a nourishing and savory food. The family had been without bread for two days when the father returned from Marietta just at evening with a supply of moldy corn. The hand mill was put into immediate operation and the meal cooked into sap porridge, as it was then the season of sugar making. The famished children eagerly swallowedthe unsavory mess, which was almost immediately rejected, reminding us of the deadly pottage of the childrenof the Prophet, but lacked the healing power of an Elijah to render it salutary and nourishing. Disappointed of expected relief, the poor children went supper less to bed, to dream of savory food and plenteous meals unrealized in their waking hours.
It was during this period that Isaac Williams, a plainhearted honest backwoodsman, who had been brought up on the frontiers, and lived on the Virginia side opposite the mouth of the Muskingum, displayed his benevolent feeling for the suffering colonists. He had opened an extensivetract for corn land three years before, and being enabled to plant early, had raised, in 1789 a large crop of severalhundred bushels of sound corn. With a liberality whichshould ever make his name dear to the descendants of the pioneers, and to all who admire generous deeds, he now intheir most pressing necessity, distributed this corn among the inhabitants, at the low rate of three shillings, or fiftycents a bushel, the common price in plenteous years; when at the same time he was offered, and urged to take, a dollar and a quarter by speculators, for his whole crop; for manhas ever been disposed to fatten on the distress of his fellowman . Turning from them with a blunt but decided refusal,he not only parted with his corn at the moderate rate, but also prudently proportioned the number of bushels, according to the number of individuals in a family. An empty purse was no bar to his generosity or the wants ofthe needy applicant, but he was equally supplied with him who had money; and a credit given until a more favorable season should enable him to pay the debt. Such deeds are rare in a highly civilized community, and were more numerous in the early settlement of the country than since.The coarse hunting shirt and rough bear skin cap often enclosed a tender benevolent heart and covered a wise thoughtful head. Hospitality was one of the cardinal virtueswith the early settler and no people ever practiced it more heartily and constantly than the pioneers along the borders more heartily and constantly than the pioneers along the borders of the Ohio. The corn of this good man supplied their wants for a season, but was all expended long beforethe crop of 1790 was fit for use. Articles of food were found in the natural productions of the earth which necessityalone could have discovered. Only a small portion ofthe inhabitants had salted any meat in the precedingautumn; there being but a few hogs or cattle in thecountry, except here and there a cow or a yoke of oxen, brought on by the colonists from New England. Their animal food, therefore, was mainly procured from the woods and consisted of venison, with now and then the flesh of abear. The wild animals were scarce however in all thesurrounding country, as the Indians had killed them, as they said to keep them from the whites. (In the Spring the wild deer are very thin and poor and their flesh of an inferior quality.) The river afforded an abundant supply of fish; but it so happened that but few of the inhabitants were skilled in the art of taking them. Salt wasalso so scarce and dear, being eight dollars a bushel, thatit could hardly be afforded to cure them, so that what were caught one day must not be kept longer than the next.Fortunate was the family that had been able to save a few pounds of salt pork or bacon to boil with the native growthof esculent plants that began early in the spring to appear in the woods. Of these the nettle furnished the earliestsupply, which in some places grew in large patches andwhose tops were palatable and nutritious. The young juicy plants of the Celandine afforded also a nourishingand pleasant dish. It sprang up about the old logs andfences around the clearing, especially where brush had been burned the year before, with astonishing luxuriance; and being early in its growth, afforded a valuable article of food before the purslane was of sufficient size for boiling.This later vegetable, however, was their main dependence at a later period.
Wherever the soil had been broken by the planters andexposed to the sunshine, a luxuriant crop of this nutritious plant sprang up from the virgin soil where the seeds hadbeen scattered ages before by the Creator of all things, and lain dormant in the earth. In spots where not a singleplant of purslane was seen while covered with the forest, and probably not a shoot had grown for ages, it now sprang up as by magic. When boiled with a small sprang up as by magic. When boiled with a small pieceof venison and a little salt, it furnished the principal food of the inhabitants for six or eight weeks, although many lived on it without any meat for many a day. Toward the close of their suffering so great was the scarcity that,in one of the most respectable and intelligent families which happened to be rather numerous, the smaller children werekept on one boiled potato a day and finally were reduced to half of one. The head of the family had held the office of Major in the army of the United States, and was one of the most worthy and excellent men in the Colony.
His children, with their descendants, now rank among the first for influence and wealth in the state of Ohio. The mother of these half starved children did all she could forthe comfort of those around her. Among her other multifariousengagements, she had consented to cook for a youngman who owned a lot adjacent to that of her husband, tho he ate in his own cabin. The bread was made of poor, musty meal, and while it was baking she always sent the children away to play and immediately locked it up in the young mans chest lest they should see it, and cry for apiece of that she had no right to give them. (This young man was from Boston and educated at Cambridge.) Whena few kernels of corn were dropped in grinding, in the hand mill, the children picked them up like chickens and ate them raw. A few of the inhabitants had cows for which the forest, in summer, afforded ample supplies of food. Their milk assisted greatly in the support of their owners and especially their children. In the latter part of the Winter the Sap of the sugar tree, boiled down with meal, made a rich, nourishing food. This tree was so abundant that great quantities of sugar could have been made to enlargetheir scanty store of food ; but the want of kettles preventedtheir profiting from this prolific magazine which the God of nature has stored up for His children. By the middle of July the new corn was in the milk and fit for roasting and boiling; this with the squashes and beans ended their fears of actual starvation. So urgent was their necessity, however, that they could not wait for the vegetables toattain their usual size before they were deemed fit for eating,but the beans, as soon as the pods were set, and the grains of corn formed in the ear, were gathered and boiled with a little salt and meal, if they had any, into a kind of vegetable soup, which was eaten with great relish by the vegetable soup, which was eaten with great relish by the half starved children and their parents. As the season was remarkably favorable the sight of the rich crop of corn was hailed as a jubilee not only by man, but by the domestic animals, some of which had suffered equally with their masters. Even the dogs fell upon the young and tender corn at night and devoured it with eagerness. It was some time before they could discover this depredator of their crops. By watching they caught the dogs in the act of pulling down and eating the corn, and were compelled to tie themup at night until it became too hard for them. During the whole Summer a great scarcity of animal food was felt. In August the family of one of the most enterprising and worthy men of that suffering community had been without any meat for several days. Having one of those long barreled fowling pieces which he had been accustomed to use along the shore and inlets of Rhode Island,he walked out into the woods with little hope of success.Directly he came across a fawn, or half grown deer,and at the first shot brought it to the ground. While in the act of cutting its throat, and he felt sure that all the meat was his own, he said his heart and affections ran up in a glow of gratitude to the Almighty, such as he had never felt before for this unexpected and striking interposition of his Providence in this time of need. This man had beenseveral times in battle, and escaped without a wound ; and yetno event in his previous life had awakened his gratitude like this. It was the first and only deer he ever killed. The meat served to supply their wants for several days.
ABUNDANCE OF FOOD
The bountiful crop of the following Autumn soon made amends for their long lent, of more than three times forty days continuance. The deer and turkey, that now camearound their fields in numerous flocks, supplied them with the greatest abundance of animal food, causing them to forget the sufferings of the past and lift their hearts in gratitude to that God, who had thus bountifully spread atable for them in the wilderness. Like the quails about the camp of the Israelites, the turkeys came up to their very doors in such multitudes, that none but the most skepticalcould fail of seeing the hand of a Kind Providence, driving them from their coverts in the forest so near their them from their coverts in the forest so near their dwellingsthat they could be killed or taken within their fields. They were so abundant and so little accustomed to the sight ofman, that the boys killed many of them with clubs and the aid of their dogs. This year terminated their trials and sufferings from the want of food. All the subsequent years were crowned with abundant crops and their greatest troubles were from the danger of being killed by the Indianswhile cultivating their fields. But habit soon inured them to trials of this kind, and they went forth to their labors with the consciousness that they were better able to contend with and overcome the savages than to strive against the allotments of Providence.
TWO BOYS KILLED AT NEILS STATION.
In August the settlement was alarmed by the killing of two boys by the Indians, at Neils Station, a small stockade on the Little Kanawha a mile from its mouth and in the immediate vicinity of Belpre. It was alarming as it manifested the hostility of the Indians, who might at any time fall upon and kill the inhabitants when they least expected it, and for which they were not prepared, as they pretended to be at peace with the whites. The boys weretwelve and fifteen years of age, and belonged to a German family that lived in a small cabin about forty rods above Neils blockhouse. They had been down to the Station, Saturday afternoon, and just at night, on their way home, went into the edge of the woods on the outside of a corn field to look for the cows. The Indians were lying in ambush near the path and killed them with tomahawks without firing a gun. The bodies were not found until the next morning, but as they did not come home, their parents were fearful of their fate. That night the Indians attempted to set fire to the block house by enclosing a brand of fire in dry poplar bark and pushing it through a port hole. It was discovered and extinguished by a woman who lay in bed near the port hole, before it communicated to the house. In the morning the alarm was given, and a party of armed men went out from Belpre and assisted in burying the two boys. The Indians departed without doing any other damage.
MILL AT LITTLE HOCKING.
In the Spring of 1790, the necessity of building a grist mill became so apparent that some of the enterprising inhabitants, among them Griffin Green, Esq. and Robert Bradford, entered into the laborious and expensive undertaking of building a mill. Their bread stuff thus far had been ground in the hand mills. Two mill wrights from Red Stone by the name of Baldwin and Applegate, who had assisted at the mill on Wolf Creek were employed as builders. The Ohio Company made a donation of one hundred and sixty acres of land at the mill site to encourage the work. The dam was erected and the timbers prepared for the mill by January 1st following, when the Indian war broke out, and the work was suspended, and not again resumed until after its close. The spot chosen was on a southern bend of the stream where it approaches within a mile and a half of the Ohio. A broad low gap in the river hills made it easy of access from the settlements. The check put to the work by the war was a sad disappointment to the inhabitants who had still to labor at the hand mill, until the autumn of the following year when the floating mill built by Captain Devoll relieved them of one of their most grievous burdens. At the close of the war the work was completed, and the site has been occupied by a mill to this day, (1848).
INDIAN WAR 1791
OUTBREAK OF THE WAR.
The suffering and distress attendant on a famine had no sooner disappeared, than they were assailed by a new calamity. The County Court of quarter sessions met at Marietta on the first Monday in January 1791. A considerable number of the most active men were called there to attend as jurors, witnesses etc. As it was a laborious task to get there by water in canoes, many of them went up on Saturday and Sunday preceeding.
The Court had barely opened on Monday, when word was brought of the sacking and slaughter at Big Bottom. It was immediately adjourned, and the men returned to their homes full of anxiety for the fate of their own families. Notice had been sent to the settlers at Belpre from Wolf Creek mills at the same time it was sent to Marietta. The women and children suffered much from fear, expecting every hour that the Indians would attack them. The inhabitants were scattered along on the river bank, living in their log cabins, without any preparation for defense, not expecting an Indian war, as a treaty had been made only two years before. Captain Jonathan Stone, at the upper settlement had built a small block house for his dwelling, and into this the women and children were gathered on Monday night. On Tuesday there was a general gathering of all the heads of families, to consult on what was best to be done.
They decided that all, about thirty families, should be collected at the middle settlement where Col. Cushing andCol. Battelle had already built two large log houses, anderect a spacious, strong, and well arranged garrison, sufficient for the accommodation of all the inhabitants. Thespot selected was on the bank of the river, about half a mile below the bluff, and nearly against the center of Back-us Island. A swamp about six rods back from the Ohio protected the rear, while the river protected the front.
The upper and lower ends opened into a smooth level bottom, suitable for a road by which to enter or depart from the garrison. The work was commenced the first week in January, and prosecuted with the utmost energy. As fastas the block houses were built the families moved into them. These were thirteen in number arranged in two rows with a wide street between. The basement storywas in general twenty feet square, and the upper abouttwenty-two feet, thus projecting over the lower one andforming a defense from which to protect the doors andwindows below, in an attack. They were built of round logs a foot in diameter, and the intersitives nicely chinked and pointed with mortar. The doors and windowshutters were made of thick oak planks, or puncheon, and secured with stout bars of wood on the inside.*** The pickets were made of quartered oak timber growing on the plain back of the garrison, formed from trees about a foot in diameter, fourteen feet long, and set four feet in the groundleaving them ten feet high, over which no enemy could mount without a ladder. The smooth side was set outward; and the palisades strengthened and kept in their places by stout ribbons, or wall pieces, pinned to them with inch tree nails, on the inside. The spaces between the houses were filled up with pickets, and occupied three or four times the width of the houses, forming a continuous wall, or inclosure about eighty rods in length and sixrods wide. The palisades on the river side filled the whole space and projected over the edge of the bank, leaning onrails and posts set to support them. They were sloped in this manner for the admission of air during the heat of summer. Gates of stout timbers were placed in the Eastand West ends of the garrison, openincr in the middle, ten feet wide, for the ingress and egress of teams, and to take in the cattle in case of an attack. A still wider gate opened near the center of the back wall for hauling in wood, and all were secured with strong heavy bars. Two or three smaller ones, called water gates, were placed on the river side, as all their water was procured from the Ohio. When sicms of Indians were discovered by the spies, the domestic animals were driven within the gates at night. At sunset all the avenues were closed. Every house was filled with families and as new settlers arrived occasionally during the war families and as new settlers arrived occasionally during the war some houses contained several families.
The corner block houses on the back side of the garrisonwere provided with watch towers running up eight feet above the roof, where a sentry was constantly kept. When the whole was completed, the inmates of the station called it "Farmers Castle" a name very appropriate, as it was built and occupied by farmers. The directors of the Ohio Company, with their characteristic beneficience, paid the expense of erecting three of the block houses, and the money was distributed among the laborers. The view of the Castle from the Ohio river was very picturesque and imposing; looking like a small fortified city amidst the surrounding wilderness. During the war there were about seventy able bodied men mustered on the roll for military duty, and the police within assumed that of a regularly besieged fort, as in fact it was a great portion of the time, the Indians watching in small parties, more or less constantly, for a chance to kill or capture the inhabitants when they least expected it. At sunrise the roll was called by the orderly sergeant, and if any man had overslept in the morning, or neglected to answer to his name, the penalty was fixed as the cutting out the stump of a tree level with the ground, stumps being thickly scattered over the surface within the Castle. This penalty was so rigidly exacted that but few stumps remained at the close of the war. A regular commander was appointed with suitable subalterns.
Maj. Nathan Goodale was the first Captain, and held that office until he removed into his own garrison in 1793, when Colonel Cushing took the command. The flagstaff stood a few yards west of the back gate near the house of Colonel Cushing on which floated the stars and stripes. Near the staff was a large howitzer, or swivel gun, mountedon a platform incased in wood, hooped with iron bands and painted to resemble a six pounder. It was so adjusted as to revolve on a socket, and thus point to any part of the works. During the Spring and Summer months, when there was any probability of Indians, it was fired regularly morning and evening. It could be distinctly heard for several miles around, especially up and down the river; the banks and hills, re-echoing the report. This practice no doubt kept the Indians in awe, and warned them not doubt kept the Indians in awe, and warned them not to approach a post whose inmates were habitually watchful, and so well prepared to defend themselves. Around this spot it was customary for loungers and news mongers to assemble, to discuss the concerns of the Castle and tell the news of the day. It was also the rallying point in case of an assault and the spot where the muster roll was called morning and evening. The spies and rangers here madereports of their discoveries to the Commandant; in short it was "place d'armes" of Farmers Castle.
In the upper room of every house was kept a largecask or hogshead constantly filled with water to be used in case of fire. It was a part of the duty of the Officer of theday to inspect every house, and see that the cask was wellfilled. Another duty was to prevent any stack of grain or fodder being placed so near the Castle as to endanger thesafety of the buildings should the Indians set them on fire or to shelter them in case of an assault.
They also inspected the gates, pickets, and houses, tosee that all were in repair and well secured at night. They received dispatches from abroad, or sent out expresses to the other stations. Their authority was absolute and the government strictly military. The greatest and principaldanger to the settlers arose from their exposure to attackswhen engaged during the Spring and Summer months in working in their fields. The clearings of some of the inhabitantslay at the distance of three miles, while others were within rifle shot of the garrison. Those could onlybe visited in companies of fifteen or twenty men. Their exposure was not confined to their actual engagement in their fields, but chiefly in going to and returning from their labors. While at their work, sentries were constantly placed in the edge of the adjoining forest; and flankingparties examined the ground when marching through the wood between the upper and lower settlements. It was agreat labor to transport their crops for so long a distance after they were harvested, although it was chiefly done bywater. For these reasons, in the second year of the war,it was decided as best for them to divide into smaller communities. Accordingly, a strong stockade garrison wasbuilt three miles above called "Stones Garrison," and one below called "Goodales Garrison." To these several families, whose lands adjoined, removed and continued to occupy them lies , whose lands adjoined, removed and continued to occupy them until the close of the war. Fresh emigrants howevercontinually arrived so that Farmers Castle remained crowded.
A list of families in Farmers Castle at Belpre in 1792.
No. 1 - Colonel Ebenezer Battelle, wife, and four children: Cornelius, Ebenezer, Thomas and Louisa.
No. 2 - Captain William James, wife, and ten children : Susan, Anna, Esther, Hannah, Abigal and Polly; William, John, Thomas, and Simeon. Also Isaac Barker, wife, and eight children: Michael, Isaac, Joseph, William and Timothy; Anna, Rhoda, and Nancy. Also Daniel Cogswell,wife and five children : John, Abigal, Peleg, Job and Daniel.
No. 3. - Captain Jonathan Stone wife and three children: Benjamin Franklin, Samuel, and Rufus Putnam.
No. 4 - Colonel Nathaniel Cushing, wife, and six children:Nathaniel, Henry, Varnum, Thomas, Sally and Elizabeth. Also Captain Jonathan Devoll, wife, and six children:Henry, Charles, Barker, Francis, Sally and Nancy, with a nephew, Christopher Devoll.
No. 5 - Isaac Pierce, wife, and three children: Samuel, Joseph and Phebe. Also Nathaniel Little, wife, and one child. Also Joseph Barker, wife and one Child, Joseph,born in Belpre.
No. 6 - Maj. Nathan Goodale, wife, and seven children : Betsy, Cynthia, Sally, Susan, Henrietta, Timothy, and Lincoln.
No. 7 - In the South west corner of the garrison, A. W.Putnam, wife, and one child, William Pitt born in the garrison. Also D. Loring, wife, and seven children: Israel,Rice and Jesse ; Luba, Bathsheba, Charlotte and Polly. Major Oliver Rice lived in the family of Mr. Loring. AlsoCaptain Benjamin Miles, wife, and five children: Benjamin,Buckmaster and Hubbard, (twins), William, Tappan and Polly.
No. 8 - Griffin Green, Esq., wife, and four children, Richard, Philip, Griffin and Susan.
No. 9 - John Rouse, wife, and eight children : Michael, Bathsheba, Cynthia, Betsy, Ruth, Stephen, Robert and Barker, twins. Also Maj. Robert Bradford wife and three or her, twins. Also Maj. Robert Bradford wife and three or four children. Several of these died of scarlet fever, others were born after the war.
No. 10 - Captain John Leavens, wife, and six children;Joseph, and John, Nancy, Fanny, Esther and Matilda.Also Captain William Dana, wife, and eight children;Luther, William, (young men) Edmond, Stephen, John Charles and Augustus; Betsy, Mary and Fanny.
Between 10 and 11 there was a long low building, called the barracks in which a small detachment of United States troops were quartered.
No. 11. - Mrs. Dunham widow of Daniel Dunham, who died in 1791, one son and two daughters. Also Captain Israel, Jasper, Augustus, B. Franklin, and Columbus; Betsy,Matilda, Lydia and Harriet, born in the Castle.
No. 12. - Benjamin Patterson, wife and six children;three of the rangers, or spies, who were single men, boarded with him, viz: John Shepherd, George Kerr, and Matthew Kerr. Patterson served as a spy three years for the settlement at Belpre and then moved down the river. Also Benoni Hurlburt, wife and four children.
No. 13. - Colonel Alexander Oliver, wife and eleven children: Launcelot, a young man, Alexander, John and David, Lucretia, Betsy, Sally, Mehala, Electa, Mary. Also Colonel Daniel Bent, wife and four children; Nathan, Daniel,Dorcas, and daughter who married Joel Oaks. Also Silas Bent, Esq., oldest son of the Colonel, wife and two or three children.
Several other families lived in Farmers Castle for a short time and then proceeded down the river but the above list contains nearly all the permanent and substantial heads of families who settled in Belpre in 1789 and 1790.
Joshua Fleehart, wife, and four children, lived in a small cabin east of block house No. 3. He was a noted hunter and supplied the garrison with fresh meat. Soon after the war closed he removed nearer to the frontier where he could follow trapping and hunting to better advantage. One of his hunting adventures will be related later.
Unmarried men in Farmers Castle: Jonathan Waldo, Daniel Mayo, Jonathan Baldwin, Cornelius Delano, Joel Oaks, James Caldwell, Wanton Casey, Stephen Guthrie, Truman Guthrie, Captain Ingersol, Ezra Phillips, Stephen Smith, Howell Bull, Samuel Cushing, William and John Smith, Jonas Davis, Dr. Samuel Barnes.
Within the walls of Farmers Castle there were assembled about two hundred and twenty souls, twenty-eight of these were heads of families. A number of those enumerated as children were males above sixteen years and enrolled for military duty. Others were young women from sixteen to twenty years of age.
Among the inmates of the garrison the name of Christopher Putnam or Kitt as he was familiarly called, must not be forgotten. He was a colored boy of sixteen or eighteen years of age, who had been the personal or body servant of General Israel Putnam, during the latter years of his life, and after his death lived with his son Col. Israel Putnam. In the fall of 1789, Colonel Putnam came out to Marietta with his son Aaron Waldo, and brought Kitt with him. In the Autumn of 1790 the Colonel returned to Connecticut for his family. That winter the war broke out and he did not move them until 1795. Kitt remained at Belpre with Mr. Putnam in the garrison and was a great favorite with the boys. He was their chosen leader in all their athletic sports, for his wonderful activity, and much beloved for his kind and cheerful disposition. When abroad in the fields cultivating or planting their crops, he was one of their best hands, either for work or to stand as a sentry. On these occasions he sometimes took his station in the lower branches of a tree where he could have a wider range of vision and give early notice of the approach of danger. Under the watchful vigilance of Kitt, all felt safe at their work. After he was twenty-one years of age and became a free man he lived with Captain Devoll, on the Muskingum and assisting in tending the floating mill and clearing the land on the farm. At the election for delegates, under the territory, to form a constitution for Ohio, Kitt was a voter and was probably the first and only black who ever exercised the elective franchise in Washington County as after the adoption of that article all colored men were disfranchised. (Later they were allowed the franchise.) He died about the year 1802 much lamented for his many personal good qualities and industrious habits.
The crops of the settlers were confined chiefly to Indian corn, beans, potatoes, turnips, and pumpkins, with a little wheat and rye. They also raised hemp and flax for domestic use. Until the erection of a floating mill in the fall of 1791, a noted era in the annals of Belpre, their meal was all ground in the primitive hand mill. But little wheat was raised until after the close of the war, when mills were built on the creeks. By the aid of a bolting machine, turned by hand in the garrison, the floating mill furnished the flour for many a noble loaf of bread, and the crusts of numerous pumpkin pies, the only fruit afforded for this use in that day.
The winter following the first occupation of Farmers Castle was one of severe privation in the article of meat. Late in the fall of 1791, the fat hogs were all collected and slaughtered in company, and hung up in an outhouse near the garrison to cool and dry through the night. During this period it accidentally took fire and burnt up all their winter stock of meat, to their great loss and disappointment. A number of other hogs which had been left at their outlots and fattened in pens were also killed by the Indians. These were visited by their owners once in three or four days, and fed with corn left in the field for that purpose.
YOUNG MEN SENT TO RED STONE
Under these discouraging circumstances the inhabitants contributed all the money they could gather, which was but a small sum, and dispatched two active young men to "Red Stone" to purchase a supply of salt meat and a few barrels of flour. It was a hazardous journey, not only in danger from the Indians, who, since St. Clairs defeat, were still more harassing to the inhabitants, but also from the inclemency of the season, it being the first part of December. They, however reached head waters unmolested, made their purchases, and were ready to descend the river when it closed with ice. In the mean time nothing was heard from the two messengers by the inhabitants and winter wore away in uncertainty of their fate. Some thought they had decamped with the money, and others that they had been killed by the Indians, as the news of St. Clairs defeat had reached them soon after their departure ; while the more reflecting were firm in their confidence of the integrity of the young men and attributed their silence to a want of opportunity to send them a letter, as the river was closed, and no regular mail was then established. The last of February the ice broke up in the Ohio, with a flood of water that covered the banks and inundated the ground on which the garrison was built. Early in March the young men arrived with a small Kentucky boat with provisions, and entering the garrison by the upper gate, moored their ark at the door of the commandant, to the great joy and relief of the inhabitants. After the disastrous events of the Campaign of 1791, a small guard of United States troops were stationed at Belpre, usually consisting of a corporal and five men. Their principal duty was to watch the garrison, while the inhabitants were abroad in their fields, or at any other employment.
They also served in rotation with the inhabitants in standing sentry in the watch towers. John L. Shaw, well known in Marietta, for many years after the war, as an eccentric character, of great wit and power of mimicry, was corporal of the guard for a time and a great favorite with the inmates of the Castle. He was subsequently a Sergeant in Captain Haskells Company from Rochester, Mass. During Wayne's Campaign, while stationed at Fort Recovery he had a narrow escape from the Indians. In October, 1793, contrary to orders, he ventured out into the forest near the fort to gather hickory nuts and had set his musket against a tree. While busily engaged, with his head near the ground, he heard a slight rustling in the leaves close to him. Rising suddenly from his stooping posture, he saw an Indian within a few yards, his tomahawk raised ready for a throw, while at the same time he called out in broken English "Prisoner, Prisoner!" Shaw having no relish for captivity sprang to his gun, cocked it and faced round just as the Indian hurled his hatchet. It was aimed at his head but by a rapid inclination of the body, it head but by a rapid inclination of the body, it missed its destination and lodged the whole length of the blade in the muscles of the loin. By the time he had gained an erect position his enemy was within two steps of him with his scalping knife. Shaw now fired his gun with such effect as to kill him on the spot, and its muzzle was so near as to set his calico hunting shirt on fire. Before he could reload, another Indian rushed upon him, and he was obliged to trust his heels in flight. He ran in the direction of the fort, but a fresh Indian started up before him, and he was obliged to take to the woods. Being in the prime of life and a very active runner he distanced all his pursuers, leaping logs and other obstructions which the Indians had to climb over or go around. After fifteen or twenty minutes of hot pursuit, which the shrill yells of the Indians served to quicken, he reached within a short distance of the fort, and met a party of men coming out to his rescue. They had heard the shot and at once divined the cause, as no firing was allowed near the fort, except at the enemy or in self defense. Shaws life was saved from the rifles of the Savages only by their desire of taking a prisoner to learn the intentions of General Wayne.
The first actual demonstration of hostility, after the inhabitants had taken possession of their new garrison, was on March 12th by some of the same party who had attacked the settlement at Waterford, and killed Captain Rogers at Marietta. The settlers who had evacuated their farms, of necessity left a part of their cattle and fodder on the premises ; while those near the castle were visited daily to feed and milk their cows. On this morning Waldo Putnam, a son of Colonel Israel Putnam, and grandson of the old veteran General, in company with Nathaniel Little, visited the possession of the former, half a mile below, to feed and milk the cows. While Waldo was in the posture of milking, Little, who kept guard, discovered an Indian leveling his gun at him. He instantly cried out "Indians, Indians!" Just as the gun cracked Waldo sprang to one side, and the ball struck the ground under the cow where he was sitting. They instantly ran for the garrison, when three Indians sprang out from the edge of the woods and joined in the pursuit, firing their rifles at the fugitives as they ran, but happily without effect. They were soon with- in a short distance of the garrison, when a party in a short distance of the garrison, when a party of men rushed out to their rescue and the Indians retreated, after killing several of the cattle, and among them a yoke of oxen belonging to Captain Benjamin Miles, which were noted for their size, being fifteen inches high and large in proportion. In the subsequent year, while Putnam and Little were at the same place, very early in the morning, a small dog that was a few rods in advance gave notice of danger by barking violently at some hidden object which his manner led them to suspect must be Indians. Thus warned they began slowly to retreat, and look carefully for their enemy. The Indians, three or four in number, watching them from their covert behind a brush fence, now jumped from their hiding place and gave chase. The two white men quickened their speed and crossed a deep gully which lay in their path on a log, barely in time to prevent the Indians from cutting off their retreat. They had examined the ground and expected to take them prisoners or kill them at this place. Seeing them past the defile they now commenced firing at them, but missed their object. In the ardor of pursuit they rushed up within a short distance of the Castle, when Harlow Bull, a fierce little warrior, who had just arisen from bed, and was only partly dressed heard the firing and rushed out at the gate with his rifle and discharged it at the Indians at the same time returning their war whoop with a yell nearly as terrible as their own. Several of the soldiers soon after appeared in the field, when the Indians retreated to the forest, greatly disappointed in their expected victims.
After the fugitives were safe within the wall considerable alarm was for time felt for Major Bradford who had gone out with them but fell a good way behind his company on account of a lame foot, from a recent wound. He had nearly reached the gully or defile when the Indians began the pursuit, and, knowing he could not keep pace with the others, he jumped down the bank of the river, near which he was hobbling along, before he was seen by the Indians, and keeping under shelter he reached the garrison unnoticed and came in at one of the water gates. For a few minutes his family were fully persuaded that he was killed as his companions could give no account of him.
MURDER OF BENONI HULBERT BY INDIANS.
On September 28th, 1791 Joshua Fleehart and Benomi Hulbert left the garrison in a canoe to hunt and to visit their traps near the mouth of the Little Hocking. Fleehart was a celebrated hunter and trapper. Like many other backwoodsmen he preferred following the chase for a living to that of cultivating the earth. Numbers of them depended on the woods for their clothing as well as their food. Hulberts family from the oldest to the youngest were clothed in dressed deer skins. These men had hunted a good deal together and supplied the garrison with fresh meat. As they passed the narrows above the mouth of the creek they were strongly inclined to land and shoot some turkeys which they heard gobbling on the side of the hill, a few rods from the river. It was a common practice with the Indians, when in the vicinity of the whites, to imitate the note of these birds, to call some of the unwary settlers within reach of their rifles. After listening a few moments the nice, discriminating ear of Fleehart satisfied him that they were made by Indians. Hulbert did not believe it but was finally induced not to land. They proceeded on and entered the month of the creek, where his companion landed and traveled along on the edge of the woods in search of game, while Fleehart paddled the canoe further up the stream. As they had seen no more signs of Indians, they concluded that the gobbling this time was done by the turkeys themselves. In a short time after Hulbert had left the canoe, the report of a rifle was heard, which Fleehart at once knew was not that of his companion and concluded was the shot of an Indian. He landed the canoe on the ormosite shore, and running up the bank secreted himself in a favorable spot to fire on the Indians should they approach to examine the creek for the canoe. He directly heard a little dog belonging to his companion in fierce contest with the Indians trying to defend the body of his master; but they soon silenced him with a stroke of a tomahawk. After watching more than an hour, so near that he could hear the Indians converse and the groans of the dying man, but out of his sight and the reach of his rifle, the Indians being too cautious to approach where they expected danger, he entered his canoe and returned to the garrison, which he reached a little after dark and reported the fate of his companion. The next morning a party of men, conducted by Fleehart, went down by water, and found him dead and scalped on the ground where he fell, with the body of his faithful dog by his side. They brought him to the Castle where he was buried.
Mr. Hulbert was over sixty years old, and had moved into the country from Pennsylvania in the fall of 1788 and lived for a time at Marietta. He served as hunter to a party of Ohio Company Surveyors in 1789 and was esteemed an honest, worthy man. He was the first man killed by the Indians in Belpre after the war broke out.
The death of Mr. Hulbert was a source of additional terror and dread to the elderly females in the garrison, whose fears of the Indians kept them in constant alarm, lest their own husbands or sons should fall a prey to the rifle or tomahawk of the Savages. They had but little quiet except in the winter, during which period the Indians rarely made inroads, or lay watching about the garrison.
But as soon as the Spring began to open and the wild geese were seen in flocks steering their course to the north,and the frogs heard peeping in the swamp, they might invariably be expected lurking in the vicinity. So constantly was this the case, that the elder females and mothers with the more timid part of the community, never greeted this season with the hilarity and welcome so common in all parts of the world, and so desirable as releasing us from the gloom and storms of winter. They preferred that season to any other, as they then felt that their children and themselves were in a manner safe from the attack of their dreaded foe. They therefore regretted its departure, and viewed the budding of the trees and the opening of the wild flowers with saddened feelings, as the harbingers of evil; listening to the song of the blue bird and the martin with cheerless hearts, as preludes to the war cry of the Savage. Much of our comfort and happiness depends on association : and though surrounded with all the heart may crave, or our tastes desire, yet the constant dread of some expected evil will destroy all peace of mind, and turn what otherwise might be joy into sorrow. The barking of the watch dog at night was another source of terror as it was associated with the thought that some savage foe was lurking in with the thought that some savage foe was lurking in the vicinity. The more timid females when thus awakened in the night would rise upon the elbow and listen with anxious care for the sound of the war whoop or the report of the rifle of the watchful sentry; and when they again fell into a disturbed slumber, the nervous excitement led them to dream of some murderous deeds or appalling danger. Several amusing incidents are related of the alarms in the garrison from the screams of persons when asleep and dreaming that they were attacked by Indians. Amid the peace and quiet of our happy times, we can hardly realize the mental suffering of that disastrous period.
The following letters written to her father by Mrs. Mary Bancroft Dana give us an inside view of conditions during those trying years.
Belpre, June 24th, 1790.
I have an opportunity to send a few lines by General Putnam which I gladly embrace to inform you that we allstill exist, and have the addition of another son whom I shall call George. A fine little boy he is. We are as usual, sometimes sick and sometimes well. All of us at work for life to get in a way to be comfortable. We got through the Winter as well as I expected. We are more put to our trumps than I ever expected for bread. There is no corn nor flour of any kind to be had. We at present live entirely without it, as many of our neighbors do. There were very few potatoes raised for want of seed. Our whole family have not eaten two bushels since we came here. We have a plenty of corn and potatoes planted so that I expect to live in a short time, things look promising. Mr. Dana has worked himself almost to death to get things as forward as he has ; he is poor and pale, as are all our family, but he is perfectly satisfied with what he has done and depends on reaping the good of his labor. I have passed through many scenes since I left you and am still the same contented being without fear from the natives. Great God! grant that I may still be protected and carried through every changing scene of life with fortitude and behave as becomes a Christian. I have not received a line from any of my friends but Mr. Atherton and Captain Blanchard. Mr. Atherton informed me that sister Sparrow had lost her little girl. What a distribution of Providence, there was enough to feed and clothe, still they must be afflicted. Infinite Wisdom no doubt thought it best. What ever is, is right, but we all mourn the loss of so sweet a child. My blood thrilled in my veins and though at so great a distance have very sympathetic feelings for the parents. I wish you would write me the manner of her death, and how you all are and everything that concerns my family. It would seem like a feast. Be assured now I have begun to write it seems like a visit. The hurry in which I have lived has kept me from almost every duty; and care for the safety of my own in the new world has kept me continually busy ; there seemed not a moment to spare. The attention of a family that has but one cow and that wants everything is great and but one woman to do the whole, but I have not lost my spirits. It is now eleven at night, all are at rest and it rains very fast, and has for this thirty hours as fast as I ever knew it. The river rises and falls at an amazing rate. Everything grows as fast as we could wish but I fear we will still have to grind in a hand mill. As it grows late and our house is very wet must bid you adieu.
Your affectionate daughter, Mary Dana.
The next letter was written two years later and indicates the changed conditions.
September 8, 1792.
I once more give myself the satisfaction to inform you and all my friends that we are all alive and in as good health as it is common for us to be. Various have been the scenes I have passed through since I left your peaceful dwelling. We lived in peace and safety as we thought for one year without a guard for selves or family.
At length an army was sent out against that injured nation for cruelties they were often committing upon persons or families.
A year ago last February three small settlements moved together. A garrison was created and block houses built. We continued there with two families in every house, one above and one below, three miles from our usual dwelling. We continued there nine months but before the defeat of the army we returned and lived in our own house all winter.
In the course of the winter Mr. Dana built a decent block house nigh a quarter of a mile from our other. I now live in a snug garrison where there are seven families.! Nobody pretends to walk any distance without an instrument of death on his shoulder, continually looking for danger and trial. All necessary business is performed with alacrity and fortitude. Everything around us is flourishing and we are supported and prospered beyond our expectations. This letter I send by Mrs. Battelle who is about to set out for Boston. She has been in this country nigh four years and is now going to visit her friends. Me thinks it would add to my happiness to hear from every branch of my family; their situation, their prosperities, their adversities, although at so great a distance I should share every adversity, and partake of the prosperity. Not a single line have I received from any of you since I left you, and this wretched writing I hope will put you in mind, or one of my brothers, to write the first opportunity. I must conclude with sending duty and respects and love for myself and family. Your dutiful daughter,
These letters reveal many of the privations of settlers in a new country with no public means of travel, and no mails, the only means of transporting letters being in the knapsacks of travelers, and sometimes years passed before they heard from friends in the old home.
Mrs. Dana was daughter of Capt. Edmond Bancroft, of Pepperell, Mass. She brought up a family of eleven children and did her full share in promoting the welfare of Belpre. The pioneer wives and mothers deserve more honors than we can express for the perseverance and heroism with which they endured the privations of those early years.
MUTUAL INSURANCE SOCIETY
Soon after the commencement of the war, the inhabitants who owned cattle and hogs, formed themselves into a Society for the mutual insurance of each others stock against the depredations of the Indians ; and also for carrying on their agricultural labors. Each one was accountable for any loss in proportion to the amount he owned. For this purpose the animals were appraised at their cash value, and recorded in a book by the Secretary. Quite a number of cattle and hogs were killed or driven away by the Savages during the war, the value of which was directly made up to the owners by the company. Horses they did not attempt to keep during the war as they were sure to be stolen, and were a means of inviting the Indians into the settlement. It was a wise and salutary arrangement and found to be very useful in equalizing like burdens and losses of a community who had located themselves in a wilderness and had to encounter not only the toil and privations of reclaiming their new lands from the forest but also to contend with one of the most subtle, revengeful, and wily enemies the world ever produced. The leading men in Belpre had been acquainted during their service in the Army, at a time which tried mens souls, and they felt a degree of kindness and interest in each others welfare not to be found in any other community. Their mutual dangers and suffering bound them still closer together in the bonds of friendship. There was also an amount of intelligence and good sense rarely found in so small a number, as will be more distinctly shown in the biographical sketches (See Chapter VIII.)
Early in the summer of 1791, the settlers, being disappointed by the Indian war in completing the mill, commenced on the Little Hocking, concluded to build what might be called a floating mill. This could be anchored out in the river and be safe from destruction by Indians. The labor of grinding corn on a hand mill for a community of more than one hundred and fifty persons was a task only known to those who have tried it.
Griffin Greene, Esq., one of the Ohio Company directors, and also an associate in Farmers Castle, had traveled in France and Holland three or four years before, and in the latter country had seen a mill erected on boats and the machinery moved by the current. He mentioned the fact to Captain Jonathan Devoll, an ingenious mechanic, of ardent temperament and resolute to accomplish anything that would benefit his fellow men; and although Mr. Greene had not inspected the foreign mill so as to give any definite description, yet the bare suggestion of such a fact was sufficient for Captain Devoll, whose mechanical turn of mind immediately devised the machinery required to put it in operation. A company was formed and the stock divided into twelve shares of which Captain Devoll took one-third, and Mr. Greene about one-fourth; the rest was divided among five other persons. When finished it cost fifty-one pounds eight shillings, Massachusetts currency, according to the old bill of expenditures. The mill was erected on two boats one of them five and the other ten feet wide and forty-five feet long. The smaller one was made of the trunk of a hollow Sycamore tree and the larger of timber and plank like a flat boat. They were placed eight feet apart and fastened firmly together by beams, running across the boats.
The smaller on the outside supported one end of the shaft of the water wheel and the larger the other; in this was placed the mill stones and running gear, covered with a tight frame building for the protection of the grain and meal and the comfort of the miller. The space between the boats was covered with planks forming a deck fore and aft of the water wheel. It was turned by the natural current of the water, and was put in motion or checked by pulling up or setting down a set of boards, similar to a gate in front of the wheel. It could grind from twenty- five to fifty bushels of grain in twenty-four hours, according to the strength of the current. The larger boat was fastened by a chain cable to an anchor made of timbers and filled with stones, and the smaller one by a grape vine to the same anchor. The mill was placed in a rapid portion of the Ohio a few rods from the shore and in sight of the Castle. The current here was strong, and the position safeguarded from Indians. With the aid of a bolting cloth in the garrison, turned by hand, very good flour was made, when they had any wheat. The day of the completion was a kind of jubilee to the inmates of the Castle, as it relieved them from the slavish labor of the handmill, which literally fulfilled the prediction to Adam: "In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat thy bread." The floating mill was a great relief, and was visited by all the settlers on both sides of the Ohio for a distance of twenty miles, in their canoes, the only mode of transportation at a period when there were neither roads nor bridges in the country.
MURDERS AT NEWBURY.
This settlement was begun at the same time with that at Belpre, considered a part of it and called the "Lower Settlement." The location was six miles below Farmers Castle and was commenced by about fourteen associates. On the breaking out of hostilities, Jan. 2nd, 1791, they left their new clearing and joined the garrison at Belpre. Finding it out of their power to cultivate their land at so great a distance, early in the Spring of 1792, the men returned and built two blockhouses, with a few cabins and enclosed the whole with a Stockade on the bank of the river opposite a spot called "Newbury bar," and moved back their effects. There were now four or five families and eight single men ; in all about twenty souls. A man by the name of Brown, from headwaters, with his wife and four children, had recently joined the settlement, and commenced clearing a piece of land about eighty rods from the garrison. On Sunday, March 15th, a mild and pleasant day, his wife went out to see him set some fruit trees they had brought with them. Not apprehending any danger from the Indians so near the garrison, she took along with her the children, carrying an infant in her arms, and leading another child of two years old by the hand, while Persis Dunham, a girl of fourteen, the daughter of widow Dunham, and a great favorite with the settlers, for her pleasant disposition, kind consiliating manners, and beautiful person, led another child, and the fourth loitered some distance son, led another child, and the fourth loitered some distance behind them. When they arrived within a short space of Mr. Brown, two Indians sprang out from their concealment; one seized Mrs. Brown by the arm and sunk his tomahawk in her head. As she fell he aimed a blow at the infant which cut a large gash in the side of the forehead and nearly severed one ear. He next dashed his hatchet into the head of the child she was leading, and with his knife tore off their scalps. The other Indian fell upon Persis and the remaining child, sinking his tomahawk into their heads and tearing off their scalps with the remorseless fury of a demon.
The men in the garrison, hearing their screams, rushed out to their rescue; but only saved the little fellow who loitered behind, and commenced firing at the Indians. Brown, whom they had not discovered before, now came in sight but being without arms could render no assistance. The Indians immediately gave chase to him but he escaped and reached the garrison. As the men were not familiar with Indian warfare, no effective pursuit was made; whereas had there been several backswoodsmen among them they would doubtless have been followed and killed. When the bodies of the slain were removed to the garrison, the poor little infant was found in a state of insensibility lying by the side of its dead mother. It finally revived and was nursed with great tenderness by the females at Farmers Castle, where the child was soon after brought, whose deepest sympathies were awakened by its motherless condition and ghastly wound which had nearly deprived it of all its blood. By great care it was restored to health, and the father, with his two remaining children, returned to his relations. Newbury was again deserted and so remained until the end of the war.
In the summer of 1792, in addition to their other calamities, the inhabitants of Farmers Castle were assailed with Scarlet Fever and putrid sore throat. It commenced without any known cause or exposure to contagion. The disease was sudden and violent in its attacks and very fatal, some of the children died within twenty-four hours. It was of a very putrid type and the seat of the disease confined chiefly to the faces and throat, many having no confined chiefly to the faces and throat, many having no scarlet efflorescence on the skin. It continued for several weeks and overwhelmed this little isolated community with consternation and grief. Medicine seemed to have little or no effect in arresting the progress or checking the fatal termination of the disease.
It gradually subsided after carrying off ten or fifteen children. Like many other epidemics it was most fatal in the first few days of its appearance. It was confined to Belpre, while Marietta and the other settlements escaped its ravages. In the Summer and autumn the inhabitants were more or less affected with intermittent fevers of a mild type, to the production of which, no doubt, the swamp back of the garrison afforded a large share of the malaria. Bilious fever also occasionally attacked the new settlers but the disease was seldom fatal and gave way to simple remedies.
No people ever paid more attention to the education of their children than the descendants of the Puritans. One of the first things done by the settlers of Belpre, after they had erected their own log dwellings, was to make provision for teaching their children the rudiments of learning, reading writing and arithmetic.
Bathsheba Rouse, the daughter of John Rouse, one of the emigrants from near New Bedford Mass, was employed in the summer of 1789 to teach the small children, and for several subsequent summers she taught a school in Farmers Castle. She is believed to have been the first female who taught a school within the present bounds of Ohio. During the winter months a male teacher was employed for the larger boys and young women. Daniel Mayo was the first male teacher in Farmers Castle. He came, a young man from Boston, with the family of Col. Battelle, in the Fall of 1788, and was a graduate of Cambridge University. The school was held in a large room of Col. Battelle's block house. He was a teacher for several winters, and during the Summer worked at clearing and cultivating his lot of land. He married a daughter of Col. Israel Putnam and after the war settled in Newport, Ky. Jonathan Baldwin, another educated man, also taught school a part of the time of their confinement in school a part of the time of their confinement in the garrison. These schools had no public funds as at this day to aid them but were supported from the hard earnings of the honest pioneers. (They received a small sum from the Ohio Company.)
The larger portion of the time during the war religious services were held on the Sabbath in Farmers Castle by Col. E. L. Battelle. The people assembled in the large lower room in his block house which was provided with seats. Notice was given of the time to commence the exercises by his son Ebenezer, then a lad of fifteen or sixteen years, and a drummer to the garrison, marching up and down beating the drum. The inmates understood the call as readily from the "tattoo" as from the sound of a bell, and they attended very regularly. The meeting was opened with prayer, sometimes read from the church service and sometimes delivered extempore, followed by singing, at which all the New Englanders were more or less proficient. A sermon was then read from the writings of some standard divine and the meeting closed with singing and prayer. Occasionally, during the war, Rev. Daniel Story visited them and preached on the Sabbath, but these calls were rare, owing to the danger from Indians of intercourse between the settlements. After the war his attendance was more regular, about once a month ; on the other three Sundays religious services were continued by Col. Battelle, at a house erected on the Bluff, which accommodated both the upper and middle settlements until the time when they were able to build another and more convenient place of worship. The holy day was generally observed and honored by the inhabitants but not with the strictness common in New England. Very few of the leading men of that day were members of any church ; yet all supported religion, morality and good order.
OF THE SPIES AND RANGERS.
To the vigilance and courage of the men engaged as spies and rangers may in part be attributed the fact, that so few losses were sustained by the inhabitants during the Indian war, compared with that of most other border settlements. This species of troops were early employed by the Ohio Company at the suggestion of Gen. Rufus Putnam, who Ohio Company at the suggestion of Gen. Rufus Putnam, who had been familiar with their use in the old French war and subsequently taken into the service of the United States. The duty of the spies was to scour the country every day the distance of eight or ten miles around the garrisons, making a circuit of twenty-five or thirty miles and accomplishing their task generally by three or four o'clock in the afternoon. They left the garrison at daylight, always two in company, traveling rapidly over the hills and stopping to examine more carefully such places as it was probable the Indians would pass over, in making their approach to the settlements, guided in this respect by the direction of the ridges or the water courses. The circuit in Belpre was over on to the waters of the Little Hocking river, and up the easterly branches across to the Ohio, striking this stream a few miles above the entrance of the Little Kanawha and thence by the deserted farms down to the garrison. The spies from Waterford made a traverse that intersected or joined their trail, forming a cordon across which the enemy could rarely pass without their signs being discovered. While they were abroad the inhabitants, at work in their fields or traveling between stations, felt a degree of safety they could not have done, but for their confidence in the sagacity and faithfulness of the spies. Their dress in summer was similar to that worn by Indians. Their pay was five shillings, or eighty cents a day as appears from the old pay roll. They were amenable to the commanding officer of the station but under the direct control of Col. Sproat, who was employed by the United States. They had signs known to themselves, by which they recognized a ranger from an Indian even when painted like one.
The men who served at Belpre, but not all at the same time, two or three being a proportion for each garrison, were Cornelius Delano, Joel Oaks, Benjamin Patterson, Joshua Fleehart, George Kerr, John Shepherd, and James Caldwell. The first two were New England men; the other five had been brought up on the frontiers.
In September, 1793, the small pox was introduced within Farmers Castle, whose walls could not protect them from this insidious foe, by Benjamin Patterson one of the spies. He was at Marietta where it prevailed and thinking spies. He was at Marietta where it prevailed and thinking himself exposed to the contagion was inoculated by Dr. Barnes who was then there, and engaged him to inoculate the rest of the family.
Great was the consternation of the married females and children when the news of the Small Pox being among them was known. Their sufferings and losses from the Scarletina were still fresh in their minds, and the dreaded name of Small Pox seemed like the final sealing of their calamities. Few, if any of the inhabitants, except the officers and soldiers of the army had gone through with the disease, and as there was no chance of escaping it, a meeting of the inhabitants was directly called. It was voted to send for Dr. True to come down and inoculate them in their own dwellings. The Doctor accepted the invitation and Farmers Castle became one great hospital, containing beneath each roof more or less persons sick with this loathsome disease. The treatment of Dr. True was very successful, and out of nearly one hundred patients not one died.
Of those under the care of Dr. Barnes in Major Goodales garrison, a colony which moved out of Farmers Castle in the spring, two or three died; among them was a child of Mr. Patterson. The cause of its fatality was the failure of those first inoculated to take the disease, probably from deteriorated matter ; and several took it in the natural way, so that on the whole they got through with this pest very favorably.
[Source: "A History of Belpre, Washington County, Ohio" by Cornelius Evarts Dickinson, Samuel Prescott Hildreth - Belpre (Ohio) - 1920; Submitted & Transcribed by Barb Ziegenmeyer]
History of Belpre Township
[Source: History of Marietta and Washington County, by Martin R. Andrews, MA, 1902, Transcribed by C. Anthony]
Belpre township - It was created by resolution of the Court of Quarter Sessions, December 20, 1790, as is shown by the following record:
Resolved, That townships No. 1 and 2, in the tenth range and No. 1, in the ninth range, be, and they hereby are incorporated, and to be included in one township, by the name of Belpre.
The first town officers were: Col. E. Battelle, town clerk: Winton Casey, overseer of poor; Col. Nathaniel Cushing, constable. The location of the settlements is thus described by Dr. S. P. Hildreth: "The main body of the new colony tract was divided into two portions, known as the 'Uppe' and 'Middle' settlements. The lands on the river were of the richest quality; rising as they receded from the Ohio on to an elevated plain, 30 or 40 feet higher than the low bottoms, and extending back to the base of the hills. This plain was in some places more than half a mile in width, forming with the bottoms alluvions of nearly a mile in extent. The soil on the plain was in some places fertile, loamy sand; and in others inclined to gravel, but everywhere covered with a rich growth of forest trees, and producing fine crops of small grain. About a mile below the Little Kenawha, this plain came into the river, presenting a lofty mural front of eighty or a hundred feet above the surface of the water. This precipitous bank is continued for half a mile, and on its brow, and for some distance back, is clothed with evergreens, being chiefly different varieties of the cedar. That portion of the plain is known by the name of 'the Bluff,' and is located near the head of Blennerhassett's Island, close to the landing and crossing place to the mansion erected a few years after by this celebrated man. 'The Bluff' divided the 'Upper settlement from those below. The 'Upper' lay in a beautiful curve of the river, which formed nearly a semi-circle, the periphery of which was about a mile and a half, and rose gradually from the bank of the river on to the second bottom by a natural glacis, the grade and beauty of which no art of man could exrel. From the lower end of 'the Bluff,' the plain gradually receded from the river, leaving a strip of rich bottom land, about three miles in length, and from a quarter to a third of a mile in width. This distance, like that portion above, was laid off into farms, about 40 rods wide and extending back to the hills, which rose by a moderate slope to an elevation of an hundred feet above the surface of the plain, and were clothed with oak and hickory, to their tops. This charming location was well named 'Belle-prairie,' (or beautiful meadow), but is now generally written 'Belpre.' "
THE TOWN OF BELPRE IN 1902.
(Incorporated in 1901.)
The Belpre of today reflects creditably the intellectual and cultured characteristics of the stalwart pioneer of the "block-house" days. There still remains some traces of the old pioneer blood, and a few of the historic points made famous during the days of the first settlers are cherished and protected by the present inhabitants.
The geographical limits of Belpre have been encroached upon, from time to time, until now Belpre proper represents an incorporated village about one mile long and one-half wide, directly opposite Parkersburg, West Virginia. Though the settlement of Belpre is one of the oldest in the county and hence in the State, and for many years the most popular community in the county, outside the present Marietta, yet it was not until July 22, 1901, that it was voted to incorporate it. The following January (1902) the charter was received, and on the 13th day of the same month, the election of the first officers of the corporation was held.
The estimated population is 900, - no census has as yet been taken since the incorporation.
The valley in which Belpre is located is still one of the most productive along the Ohio River, being especially adapted to truck-gardening, and yet retains the pristine beauty, which gave to it its poetic name. Belpre is essentially a residence village, its commercial and industrial interests having been greatly damaged by the 1884 Ohio River freshet, from which it has only partially recovered. However, in a retail way, it has a number of institutions which do a thriving business. It depends upon Parkershurg, West Virginia, for its banking facilities. A building and loan company was incorporated January 8, 1902, with an authorized capital of $500,000.
Belpre has ever taken a front rank in its interest in education. Its public schools are noted for their excellence, and have an enrollment of 300 pupils, with eight teachers. The school building is a well-equipped brick structure of eight rooms, erected in 1876. Connected with the schools is a circulating library of 650 volumes, to which additions are made each year.
The churches of the village are four, viz.: The Methodist Episcopal, a direct descendant of the first organization of Methodism in Belpre township, effected by Rev. Mr. Morris in 1816. Their present place of worship - Lewis Chapel - was dedicated February 24, 1867, and was remodeled in 1896. The present membership is 200.
The Congregational Church - with 120 members - tracing its origin to a mission of the First Congregational Church of Marietta, was organized in 1802, at what is now Rockland. The first service held in the village limits was in 1858. The church building, in which thev still worship, was erected in 1869.
The Catholic Church, for many years an outer mission of the Marietta Church, and later assigned to the Little Hocking Church, always holding its services once a month at the home of some of its members, now worships in a little church of its own - St. Ambrose Church - donated by P. W. O'Connor of Columbus, Ohio, in 1901, with 35 communicants.
The A. M. E. Church with 20 members dates back to 1877.
Politically, Belpre has always been Republican.
--- Bertha G. Ballard.
[Source: History of Marietta and Washington County, by Martin R. Andrews, MA, 1902, Transcribed by C. Anthony]
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