"July 21, 1774.
"Captain John Logan."
Both the matter and the language of this letter are so like those of Logan's famous speech, that it is clear he must often have thought his wrongs over in the same terms, brooding upon them with an aching heart, but not with hate so much as grief. The speech was made at the Chillicothe town where Lord Dunmore treated with the Ohio tribes for peace in the August after Logan had written his letter, but it was not spoken in the council. Logan held aloof from the council, and Dunmore sent to his cabin for him. It is said by some that his messenger was the great renegade Simon Girty, who had not yet turned against his own people, and was then, with his friend Simon Kenton, a scout in Dunmore's service. Others say that the messenger was a young man named Gibson, but whoever he was, Logan met him at the door, and coming out into the woods sat down under a tree which was long known as Logan's Elm. Here, with a burst of tears, he told the story of his wrongs in language which cannot be forgotten as long as men have hearts to thrill for others' sorrows.
"I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan's cabin and I gave him not meat; if ever he came cold and naked and I gave him not clothing. During the course of the last long and bloody war Logan remained in his tent an advocate of peace. Nay, such was my love for the whites that those of my own country pointed at me as they passed, and said, 'Logan is the friend of the white man.' I had even thought to live with you but for the injuries of one man. Colonel Cresap, the last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, cut off all the relatives of Logan, not sparing even my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any human creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it. I have killed many. I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country I rejoice at the beams of peace. Yet do not harbor the thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one."
This speech, or rather this message, which Logan sent to Lord Dunmore, has come down to us in two forms, one which Dunmore's officers wrote out from the report of the message, and one which Thomas Jefferson framed upon it. They do not differ greatly, and I have given Jefferson's version here, because it best expresses the noble mind of a noble man, a savage, indeed, but far less savage than many of the white men of that day or any day. A pioneer of Western Pennsylvania, William Brown, who afterwards became a judge of the Mifflin County courts, calls him "the best specimen of humanity he ever met with, white or red," He first saw him in the woods, while stooping to drink at a spring. The figure of a tall Indian showed itself to him in the water, and he sprang for his rifle, but the Indian knocked the priming out of his own gun, and offered his hand. It was Logan, and he guided Brown to the hunting camp of another white man, with whom he afterwards visited Logan's camp. There they all shot at a mark for a dollar each round, and Logan lost. A deerskin was worth a dollar, and Logan offered five skins for his five failures. Brown's friend refused them, saying they were his guests and had shot with him merely for a trial of skill. Logan answered with dignity, "Me try to make you shoot your best; me gentlemen, and me take your dollar if me beat," and he would not allow the victor even to give him a horn of powder in return.
A lovely story was told by the daughter of Judge Brown concerning Logan, who was one day at her father's camp when her mother happened to regret that she had no shoes for her little one then just beginning to walk. Logan said nothing, but shortly after he came and asked the mother to let the child spend the day with him at his camp. The mother trembled, but she knew the delicacy of Logan, and she would not wound him by showing fear of him. He took the child away, and the long hours passed till nightfall. Then she saw the great chief coming with his tiny guest through the woods, and the next moment the child bounded into the mother's arms, proud and glad to show her feet in the moccasins which Logan had made for her.
In his old age Logan wandered from place to place, broken by the misfortunes of his people, and homeless in his own land. He fell a prey to drink, the enemy of all his race, and he was at last murdered near Detroit, where, as the story goes, he was sitting by his camp fire, with his blanket over his head, and lost in gloomy thought, when an Indian whom he had offended stole upon him and sank his tomahawk in Logan's skull.
Of all the Indians he seems to me the grandest because he was the kindest. Tecaughretanego was wise and good. He had a thoughtful mind and a serene spirit; he could be just and loving to the white man whom he had taken for his brother, but he had not so noble an ideal of conduct as Logan. This chief grasped the notion of friendship with all the whites; he was more than a tribesman; he imagined what it was to be a citizen. Among the Ohio men of the past there is no nature more beautiful, no memory worthier than his. He was a savage, and his thirst for vengeance, or rather the smoldering thought of his wrongs, lowered him for a time to the level of the white and red men about him. Yet he was framed for gentleness, and he surpassed another great Ohio Indian as much in breadth of character, as he surpassed Tecaughretanego in an ideal of conduct.
Tecumseh, the famous war chief of the Shawnees, was born at the ancient town of Piqua on Mad River, not far from the present city of Springfield, in Clark County. His name means Shooting Star, and he was indeed the meteoric light of his people while he lived. He was of a high Indian, family of the Turtle Tribe, and his father had come with his clan to Ohio from their home in Florida, about the middle of the last century. Tecumseh was born, as nearly as can be reckoned, in the year 1768, and from his earliest childhood he showed the passion for war which ruled him through life. He led his playmates in their mimic fights, and at seventeen he went on his first war party against the Kentuckians. The Indians attacked some boats on the Ohio River, and killed all the boatmen but one, whom they brought back and burned at the stake. Tecumseh was present, and though he said nothing, the sight of the torture filled him with such horror, that he used his power with the Indians to put a stop forever to the burning of prisoners. He was such a hater of our race that, as he once confessed, the mere presence of a white man made the flesh of his face creep; but he hated cruelty more, and in the bloody events which he spent all his power in bringing about, he could always be trusted to keep the captives from torture, and to save the lives of women and children.
In spite of his hatred of white men, it is said that he was once in love with a white woman, the daughter of a settler in Greene County. He offered her fifty silver brooches if she would marry him; but she refused, saying that she did not wish to be a wild woman and drudge like a squaw; and she would not be tempted even when he promised her that she should not work, but should be a great squaw.
He was not always terrible, even with white men, and it is told of him that once meeting in a settler's cabin a stranger who showed alarm at sight of him, Tecumseh went up and amiably shook him, saying, "Big baby, Big baby." But he could be fierce and arrogant when he chose, and he delighted to make the Americans bend to him. At one of their parleys, General Harrison asked him to sit on his veranda with him. Tecumseh haughtily refused, and forced the general to come out and meet him under the trees, on the breast of the earth, who was, he said, the Indian's mother.
He was in every fight with the Americans before Wayne's victory, but he was not made a chief until the year following that battle. Then, though he seemed resigned to the fate of his people, he became the leader in their discontent, and in the parts of Ohio and Indiana where he lived he kept it alive. In this he had the help of his brother Elkskuatawa, the Prophet, who pretended to have dreams and revelations favorable to Tecumseh's designs. In 1806, while they were at Greenville, the Prophet somehow learned that there was to be an eclipse of the sun; he foretold the coming miracle, and excited the savages through their superstitions so dangerously that Governor Harrison urged them to banish the Prophet. They made evasive answers, and kept the Prophet with them, while Tecumseh amused the governor with meetings and parleys, and went and came upon his errands among the Southern tribes stirring them up to join the Northern nations in a revolt against the Americans. He used all his eloquence and reason in trying to form this union of the red men, and when these would not avail, he did not scruple to employ the arts of his brother. In exhorting one of the Southern tribes he rebuked their coldness, and told them that when he reached Detroit, he would stamp his foot, and they should feel the earth tremble as a sign of his divine authority for his work. About the time it would have taken him to reach Detroit, the great earthquake of 1810 shook the Seminoles with terror of the man whose arguments they had rejected.
In fact, Tecumseh and the Prophet constantly played into each other's hands, but in one of Tecumseh's absences the Prophet made the mistake of attacking General Harrison at Tippecanoe, and the savages were severely beaten. The Prophet had also made the mistake of promising them a victory, and after the defeat he lost his power over them.
This was in 1811, but the next year the war between the United States and Great Britain broke out, and then Tecumseh seized his chance for renewing the war against the Americans. He served so faithfully against them that the king made him brigadier general, and Tecumseh tried to fight according to the laws of civilized warfare. At the attack on Fort Meigs in Wood County, he stopped, at the risk of his own life, the massacre of the American prisoners, and he bade the British commandant, who declared that the Indians could not be controlled, go and put on petticoats. An American who saw him at this time says, "This celebrated chief was a noble, dignified personage. His face was finely proportioned, his nose inclined to be aquiline, and his eye displayed none of that savage and ferocious triumph common to the other Indians on that occasion."
Tecumseh with his Indians witnessed the battle of Lake Erie at Put-in-Bay, where Perry defeated the English fleet, and he was not deceived by the pretense of General Proctor that the Americans were beaten and the English ships were merely putting in there for repairs. Proctor was then preparing to retreat into Canada from Detroit, and Tecumseh demanded to be heard in the name of the Indians. He had some very bitter words to say: "The war before this our British father gave the hatchet to his red children.... In that war our father was thrown upon his back by the Americans, and our father took them by the hand without our knowledge, and we are afraid our father will do so again at this time.... Our ships have gone away, and we are much astonished to see our father tying up everything and preparing to run away.... We are sorry to see our father doing so without seeing the enemy. We must compare our father's conduct to a fat dog that carries his tail on his back, and when affrighted drops it between his legs and runs off.
"Father, you have got the arms and ammunition which our great father sent for his children. If you have an idea of going away, give them to us, and you may go and welcome. Our lives are in the hands of the Great Spirit. We are determined to defend our lands, and if it be his will, we wish to leave our bones upon them."
But the British retreated, and the Indians had to follow them into Canada. There in the battle of the Thames the Americans defeated them and their savage allies with great slaughter, and Tecumseh, whose war-cry had been heard above the tumult of the onset, was among the slain. He is supposed to have been killed by a pistol shot fired by Colonel Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky, and it is said that the body of this generous enemy did not escape barbarous usage at the hands of Johnson's men, who literally flayed it and bore portions of their ghastly trophy home with them in triumph.
Tecumseh played at a later day the part which Pontiac attempted at the end of the old French War. He tried to unite the Indians in a general uprising against the Americans as Pontiac had united them against the English. He used the same arts, and he showed himself shrewd and skillful in paltering with our leaders till he was ready to strike his blow against them, for he managed to remain in the Ohio country unmolested while he was getting ready to drive the Americans out of it. When the war with Great Britain began, he might very well have believed that his hopes were about to be fulfilled; but he seems, though a brave warrior, never to have shown such generalship as that of Little Turtle at St. Clair's defeat. He was a great orator, of such a fiery eloquence that the interpreters often declared it impossible for them to give the full sense of his words; but none of his many recorded speeches have the pathos of Logan's. He was, on the savage lines, a statesman and a patriot, but unlike the wiser and gentler Logan he never could rise to the wisdom of living in peace with the whites. He was always an Indian; even at his best he was a savage, just as the backwoodsman was a savage at his worst. Yet his memory remains honored in tradition beyond that of any other Ohio Indian, and his name was given to one of the most heroic Ohio Americans, William Tecumseh Sherman. Such as he was, and such as Logan was, it must be owned that they seem now of a far nobler mold than any white men in early Ohio history.
The Prophet outlived his brother many years, and died dishonored, and stripped of all the great power he had once wielded. At one time he wrought so strongly upon the Indians through their superstition of witchcraft, that they put many to death at his accusal. One of the victims was the Wyandot chief Leatherlips, whom six Wyandot warriors came from Tippecanoe to try where he lived near the site of Columbus. They found him guilty and sentenced him to death, of course upon no evidence. A white man who wished to save him asked what he had done, and was answered, "Very bad Indian; make good Indian sick; make horse sick; make die; very bad chief." When he heard his sentence, Leatherlips ate a hearty dinner, dressed himself in his finest clothes, painted his face, and at the hour fixed for his death walked from his lodge to his grave, chanting his death song while he went. Then as he knelt in prayer beside the shallow pit, one of the six Wyandots tomahawked him.
The persecutions for witchcraft under the Prophet continued until at last a young warrior, whose sister was accused in the council, had the courage to rise and lead her out of the house. He came back and said to the council, pointing at the Prophet, "The Devil has come amongst us, and we are killing each other." This bold good sense brought the Indians to a pause in a frenzy which has raged among every people in times past.
XVI. LIFE IN THE BACKWOODS.
Amidst all this tomahawking and scalping, this shooting and stabbing, this shedding of blood and of tears, this heartbreak of captivity, this torture, this peril by day and by night, the flower of home was springing up wherever the ax let the sun into the woods. It would be a great pity if the stories of cruelty and suffering which seem, while we read them, to form the whole history of the Ohio country, should be left without the relief of facts quite as true as these sad tales. Life was hard in those days, but it was sweet too, and it was often gay and glad. In times of constant danger, and even while the merciless savages were beleaguering the lonely clusters of cabins, there was frolicking among the young people in the forts, and the old people looked on at their joys in sympathy as well as wonder. The savages themselves had their harmless pleasures, and their wild life was so free that those who once knew it did not willingly forsake it. They were not bad-hearted so much as wrong-headed, and they were mostly what they were, because they knew no better. More than once we read how the lurking hunter heard them joking and laughing when off their guard in the wood; and in their towns, on the Miamis or the Muskingum or the Sandusky, they had their own games, and feasts, and merrymakings. Much that was beautiful and kindly and noble was possible to them, but they belonged to the past, and the white men belonged to the future; and the war between the two races had to be. Our race had outgrown the order which theirs clung to helplessly as well as willfully, and it was fated that we must found our homes upon their graves.
These homes were at first of the rude and simple sort, which a thousand narratives and legends have made familiar, and which every Ohio boy and girl has heard of. It would not be easy to say where or when the first log cabin was built, but it is safe to say that it was somewhere in the English colonies of North America, and it is certain that it became the type of the settler's house throughout the whole middle west. It may be called the American house, the Western house, the Ohio house. Hardly any other house was built for a hundred years by the men who were clearing the land for the stately mansions of our day. As long as the primeval forests stood, the log cabin remained the woodsman's home; and not fifty years ago, I saw log cabins newly built in one of the richest and most prosperous regions of Ohio. They were, to be sure, log cabins of a finer pattern than the first settler reared. They were of logs handsomely shaped with the broadax; the joints between the logs were plastered with mortar; the chimney at the end was of stone; the roof was shingled, the windows were of glass, and the door was solid and well hung. They were such cabins as the Christian Indians dwelt in at Gnadenhutten, and such as were the homes of the well-to-do settlers in all the older parts of the West. But throughout that region there were many log cabins, mostly sunk to the uses of stables and corn cribs, of the kind that the borderers built in the times of the Indian War, from 1750 to 1800. They were framed of the round logs, untouched by the ax except for the notches at the ends where they were fitted into one another; the chimney was of small sticks stuck together with mud, and was as frail as a barn swallow's nest; the walls were stuffed with moss, plastered with clay; the floor was of rough boards called puncheons, riven from the block with a heavy knife; the roof was of clapboards split from logs and laid loosely on the rafters, and held in place with logs fastened athwart them.
There is a delightful account of such a log cabin by John S. Williams, whose father settled in the woods of Belmont County in 1800. "Our cabin," he says, "had been raised, covered, part of the cracks chinked, and part of the floor laid, when we moved in on Christmas day. There had not been a stick cut except in building the cabin, which was so high from the ground that a bear, wolf, panther, or any animal less in size than a cow could enter without even a squeeze.... The green ash puncheons had shrunk so as to leave cracks in the floor and doors from one to two inches wide. At both the doors we had high, unsteady, and sometimes icy steps, made by piling the logs cut out of the walls, for the doors and the window, if it could be called a window, when perhaps it was the largest spot in the top, bottom, or sides of the cabin where the wind could not enter. It was made by sawing out a log, and placing sticks across, and then by pasting an old newspaper over the hole, and applying hog's lard, we had a kind of glazing which shed a most beautiful and mellow light across the cabin when the sun shone on it. All other light entered at the doors, cracks, and chimneys. Our cabin was twenty-four by eighteen. The west end was occupied by two beds, the center of each side by a door.... On the opposite side of the window, made of clapboards, supported on pins driven into the walls, were our shelves. On these shelves my sister displayed in simple order, a host of pewter plates, and dishes and spoons, scoured and bright.... Our chimney occupied most of the east end; with pots and kettles opposite the window, under the shelves, a gun on hooks over the north door, four split-bottomed chairs, three three-legged stools, and a small eight by ten looking glass sloped from the wall over a large towel and comb case.... We got a roof laid over head as soon as possible, but it was laid of loose clapboards split from a red-oak, and a cat might have shaken every board in our ceiling.... We made two kinds of furniture. One kind was of hickory bark, with the outside shaved off. This we would take off all around the tree, the size of which would determine the caliber of our box. Into one end we would place a flat piece of bark or puncheon, cut round to fit in the bark, which stood on end the same as when on the tree.... A much finer article was made of slippery-elm bark, shaved smooth, with the inside out, bent round and sewed together, where the end of the hoop or main bark lapped over.... This was the finest furniture in a lady's dressing room," and such a cabin and its appointments were splendor and luxury beside those of the very earliest pioneers, and many of the latest. The Williamses were Quakers, and the mother was recently from England; they were of far gentler breeding and finer tastes than most of their neighbors, who had been backwoodsmen for generations.
When the first settlers broke the silence of the woods with the stroke of their axes, and hewed out a space for their cabins and their fields, they inclosed their homes with a high stockade of logs, for defense against the Indians; or if they built their cabins outside the wooden walls of their stronghold, they always expected to flee to it at the first alarm, and to stand siege within it. The Indians had no cannon, and the logs of the stockade were proof against their rifles; if a breach was made, there was still the blockhouse left, the citadel of every little fort. This was heavily built, and pierced with loopholes for the riflemen within, whose wives ran bullets for them at its mighty hearth, and who kept the savage foe from its sides by firing down upon them through the projecting timbers of its upper story; but in many a fearful siege the Indians set the roof ablaze with arrows wrapped in burning tow, and then the fight became desperate indeed. After the Indian War ended, the stockade was no longer needed, and the settlers had only the wild beasts to contend with, and those constant enemies of the poor in all ages and conditions,—hunger and cold.
Winter after winter, the Williamses heard the wolves howling round them in the woods, and this music was familiar to the ears of all the Ohio pioneers, who trusted their rifles for both the safety and support of their families. They deadened the trees around them by girdling them with the ax, and planted the spaces between the leafless trunks with corn and beans and pumpkins. These were their necessaries, but they had an occasional luxury in the wild honey from the hollow of a bee tree when the bears had not got at it. In its season, there was an abundance of wild fruit, plums and cherries, haws and grapes, berries, and nuts of every kind, and the maples yielded all the sugar they chose to make from them. But it was long before they had, at any time, the profusion which our modern arts enable us to enjoy the whole year round, and in the hard beginnings the orchard and the garden were forgotten for the fields. Their harvests must pay for the acres bought of the government, or from some speculator who had never seen the land; and the settler must be prompt in paying, or else see his home pass from him after all his toil into the hands of strangers. He worked hard and he fared hard, and if he was safer when peace came, it is doubtful if he were otherwise more fortunate. As the game grew scarcer, it was no longer so easy to provide food for his family, the change from venison and wild turkey to the pork, which early began to prevail in his diet, was hardly a wholesome one. Besides, in cutting down the trees, he opened spaces to the sun which had been harmless enough in the shadow of the woods, but which now sent up their ague-breeding miasms. Ague was the scourge of the whole region, and it was hard to know whether the pestilence was worse on the rich levels beside the rivers, or on the stony hills where the settlers sometimes built to escape it. Fevers of several kinds prevailed, and consumption was common in the climates that ague spared. There was little knowledge of the rules of health, and little medical skill for those who lost it; most of the remedies for disease and accident were such only as home nursing and home treatment could supply.
When once the settler was housed against the weather, he had the conditions of a certain rude comfort indoors. If his cabin was not proof against the wind and rain or snow, its vast fireplace formed the means of heating, while the forest was an inexhaustible store of fuel. At first he dressed in the skins and pelts of the deer and fox and wolf, and his costume could have varied little from that of the red savage about him, for we often read how' he mistook Indians for white men at first sight, and how the Indians in their turn mistook white men for their own people. The whole family went barefoot in the summer, but in winter the pioneer wore moccasins of buckskin, and buckskin leggins or trousers; his coat was a hunting shirt belted at the waist and fringed where it fell to his knees. It was of homespun, a mixture of wool and flax called linsey-woolsey, and out of this the dresses of his wife and daughters were made; the wool was shorn from the sheep, which were so scarce that they were never killed for their flesh, except by the wolves, which were very fond of mutton, but had no use for wool. For a wedding dress a cotton check was thought superb, and it really cost a dollar a yard; silks, satins, laces, were unknown. A man never left his house without his rifle; the gun was a part of his dress, and in his belt he carried a hunting knife and a hatchet; on his head he wore a cap of squirrel skin, often with the plumelike tail dangling from it.
The furniture of the cabins was, like the clothing of the pioneers, homemade. A bedstead was contrived by stretching poles from forked sticks driven into the ground, and laying clapboards across them; the bedclothes were bearskins. Stools, benches, and tables were roughed out with auger and broadax; the puncheon floor was left bare, and if the earth formed the floor, no rug ever replaced the grass which was its first carpet. The cabin had but one room where the whole of life went on by day; the father and mother slept there at night, and the children mounted to their chamber in the loft by means of a ladder.
The food was what has been already named. The meat was venison, bear, raccoon, wild turkey, wild duck, and pheasant; the drink was water, or rye coffee, or whisky which the little stills everywhere supplied only too abundantly. Wheat bread was long unknown, and corn cakes of various makings and bakings supplied its place. The most delicious morsel of all was corn grated while still in the milk and fashioned into round cakes eaten hot from the clapboard before the fire, or from the mysterious depths of the Dutch oven, buried in coals and ashes on the hearth. There was soon a great flow of milk from the kine that multiplied in the pastures in the woods, and there was sweetening enough from the maple tree and the bee tree, but salt was very scarce and very dear, and long journeys were made through the perilous woods to and from the licks, or salt springs, which the deer had discovered before the white man or the red man knew them.
The bees which hived their honey in the hollow trees were tame bees gone wild, and with the coming of the settlers, some of the wild things increased so much that they became a pest. Such were the crows which literally blackened the fields after the settlers plowed, and which the whole family had to fight from the corn when it was planted. Such were the rabbits, and such, above all, were the squirrels which overran the farms, and devoured every green thing till the people combined in great squirrel hunts and destroyed them by tens of thousands. The larger game had meanwhile disappeared. The buffalo and the elk went first; the deer followed, and the bear, and even the useless wolf. But long after these the poisonous reptiles lingered, the rattlesnake, the moccasin, and the yet deadlier copperhead; and it was only when the whole country was cleared that they ceased to be a very common danger.
For a long time there were no mills to grind the corn, and it was pounded into meal for bread with a heavy wooden pestle in a mortar made by hollowing out some tough-grained log. The first mills were horse power; then small water-power mills were put up on the streams, and in the larger rivers boats were anchored, with mill wheels which the rapid current turned. But the stills were plentier than the mills, and as much corn was made into whisky as into bread. Men drank hard to soften their hard life, to lighten its heaviness, to drown its cares, to heighten its few pleasures. Drink was free and common not only at every shooting match, where men met alone, but at every log rolling or cabin raising, where the women met with them, to cook for them, and then to dance away the night that followed the toilsome day.
There were no rich people then, but all were poor together, and there were no classes. They were so helpless without one another that people were kindlier and friendlier as well as freer then than now, and they made the most of the corn huskings and quilting bees that brought old and young together in harmless frolics. The greatest frolic of all was a wedding; the guests gathered from twenty miles around, and the frolic did not end with the dancing at night. Next day came the infair at the house of the bridegroom, and all set off together. When they were within a mile or two, they raced for the bottle which was always waiting for them at the house, and the guest whose horse was fleetest brought it back, and made all drink from it, beginning with the bride and groom.
Religion soon tempered the ruder pleasures of the backwoods, but the dancing ceased before the drinking. Camp meetings were frolics of a soberer sort, where whole neighborhoods gathered and dwelt in tents for days in the beautiful autumn weather, and spent the nights in prayer and song. Little log churches were built at the crossroads, and these served the purpose of schoolhouses on week days. But there was more religion than learning in the backwoods, and the preacher came before the teacher.
He was often a very rude, unlearned man himself, and the teacher was sometimes a rude man, harsh and severe, when he was learned. Often he was a Scotch-Irishman, whose race gave schoolmasters to the West before New England began to send her lettered legions to the frontier.
Such a teacher was Francis Glass, who was born in Dublin in 1790, and came to Ohio in 1817, to teach the children of the backwoods. One of these afterwards remembered a log-cabin schoolhouse where Glass taught, in the twilight let through the windows of oiled paper. The seats were of hewn blocks, so heavy that the boys could not upset them; in the midst was a great stove; and against the wall stood the teacher's desk, of un-planed plank. But as Glass used to say to his pupils, "The temple of the Delphian god was originally a laurel hut, and the muses deign to dwell accordingly in very rustic abodes." His labors in the school were not suffered to keep him from higher aims: he wrote a life of Washington in Latin, which was used for a time as a text-book in the Ohio schools.
In the early days all books were costly, and they were even fewer than they were costly; but those who longed for them got them somehow, and many a boy who studied them by the cabin fire became afterwards a great statesman, a great lawyer, or a great preacher. In fact, almost every distinguished Ohioan of the past generations seems to have begun life in a log cabin, and to have found his way out of the dark of ignorance by the light of its great hearth fire. Their stories are such as kindle the fancy and touch the heart; but now they are tales that are told.
Among the stories of life in the backwoods, none are more affecting than those of lost children. In the forests which hemmed in the homes and fields of the settlers, the little ones often strayed away, or in their bewilderment failed to find a path back to the cabin they had left among the stumps of the clearing, or the leafless trunks of the deadening. In 1804, two children, Lydia and Matilda Osborn, eleven and seven years old, went to fetch the cows from their pasture a mile from their home in Williamsburg, Clermont County. Lydia, the elder of the sisters, left the younger in a certain spot while she tried to head off the wandering cows. It is supposed that she failed, and came back to get Matilda. Then it is supposed that, after searching for her, Lydia gave up in despair and started homeward, but found that she no longer knew the way. In the meantime the cows had left their pasture, and the younger girl had followed the sound of their bells and got safely back to the village. Night came, but no Lydia, and now the neighborhood turned out and helped the hopeless father to search for the lost child. They carried torches, and rang bells, and blew horns, and fired guns, so that she might see and hear and come to them, and before them all, day and night, ran the father calling, "Lydia, Lydia." Five hundred men, a thousand men at last, joined in the quest, and on the fifteenth morning, they found in the heart of the woods a tiny hut, such as a child might build, of sticks and moss, with a bed of leaves inside; a path which led from it to a blackberry patch near by was beaten hard by the little feet of the wanderer. The rough backwoodsmen broke into tears when the father came up and at sight of the poor shelter called out, "Oh, Lydia, Lydia, my dear child, are you yet alive?"
They never found her. A mile or two from the hut they found her bonnet, and a few miles further on an Indian camp. They could only guess that the Indians had carried her away, and go back to their homes without her. The father never gave up, but as long as he lived he searched for her among the Indians. It was thought afterwards that the very means, the lights and the noises, used to attract the child, might have frightened her from her rescuers; for a strange craze would come upon lost people after a time, and they would hide from those who were looking for them. Others became hopelessly bewildered, and it is told of a pioneer, Samuel Davy, who was lost near Galion, that he wandered about till he reached a log cabin in a clearing. There he asked of the woman at the door if she knew where Samuel Davy lived. She laughed and bade him come in and see. Then he knew that it was his own wife speaking to him from his own threshold.
Whenever a lost child could not be found, the Indians were naturally suspected of stealing it; and this was probably the fate of a little one whom her mother lifted over the fence into the dooryard of her cabin, near Galion, and then went back to her work of making sugar in the woods. When she came home at nightfall, the child was not there, and no search afterwards availed to find her, though the whole neighborhood searched the woods for days and nights. It was known only that a party of Indians had lately camped near, and that they might have taken the child and brought it up as their own; but the mother never heard of her again.
Galion is rather famous for lost people, but at least one of them was found again. This was a little girl of the name of Bashford, who was sent to bring home the cows. In trying to return she became confused, and she wisely decided to keep with the cattle. When they lay down for the night, she sheltered herself against the warm back of a motherly old cow, and then followed them about in the morning till the neighbors found her.
She was none the worse for the night's adventure except for her fright at the howling of the wolves, and from the pain of her slightly frost-bitten feet. But the fate of a little boy who wandered from home in Williams County was of a singular pathos. He was found dead after a three-days search, when the poor little body, which was half clad, was still warm. It was supposed that he had undressed each night when he lay down to sleep, as he was used to do at home, and that the third night he had been so chilled by the October cold that he could not put on all his clothes again, and so strayed feebly about till he lay down and died just before rescue came.
Encounters with wolves and bears were not so common as these animals were, by any means; but now and then the settlers came in conflict with them. In Crawford County so lately as 1826, a young man named Enoch Baker, in coming home from rather a late call on a young lady, fought a running fight with wolves, which left him only when he reached the clearing where his father's cabin stood; then they fell back into the woods. Daniel Cloe, a boy of the same neighborhood, was attacked by a pack of eleven wolves one morning before daybreak, but was saved by his bulldog, which seized the foremost wolf by the throat, and gave the boy time to climb a tree.
A brother of this boy found his dogs one morning in ferocious clamor about some animal which they seemed afraid to grapple with. He came up and found that it was a bear. He had no gun, but he caught up a club, and when he had contrived to catch the bear by one of his hind legs, and to throw him over, he beat him about the head with his bludgeon and killed him.
This was pretty well for a boy of sixteen, but the reader must not award the palm to him without first knowing the adventure of John Gillett of Williams County, who clambered down a hollow tree to get some bear cubs. While he was securing them, the opening overhead was darkened by the body of the mother bear. There was only one thing to do, and Gillett drove his knife into the haunch of the bear, which scrambled out in surprise and terror, and pulled him and the cubs out with her. She did not stay to look after her family, and Gillett took the cubs to the next town, and got five dollars apiece for them. As he told this story himself, I suppose it must have been true.
There are some stories of wolves and bears in Ashtabula County which are by no means bad. Not the worst of these is told of Elijah Thompson, who was hunting in the woods near Geneva, when a pack of seven wolves fell upon his dog. He clubbed his rifle and beat them off; then when the last had slunk away, he gathered up his wounded dog under his arm, and walked away with the barrel, which was all that was left of his rifle, on his shoulder.
Bears were very common, and very fond of pork. One night two ladies who were alone in their cabin, were alarmed by wild appeals from the pigpen, and found it invaded by a bear. They tried to frighten the intruder away with firebrands, but failed. Then they loaded the family rifle, which they had heard the men folks say took two fingers of powder. They therefore poured in the powder to the depth of six inches, and drove home the bullet. One held a light while the other pulled the trigger. Both were knocked down by the recoil of the gun, which flew into the bushes. What became of the bear was never known; but it was probably blown to atoms.
Other pioneer women were effective with firearms, and Mrs. Sarah Thorp of Ashtabula County was one of these. The family fell short of food in their first year in the backwoods, and in June, 1799, the husband started to Pennsylvania, twenty miles away, to get supplies. Before he could return, his wife and little girls had begun to live upon roots and the few grains of wheat which she found in the straw of her bed. When these were all gone, and she was in despair, a wild turkey one day alighted near the cabin. She found that there was barely powder enough left in the house for the lightest charge; but she loaded her husband's rifle and crept on her hands and knees from bush to bush and log to log, till she was close upon the bird, wallowing in the loose plowed earth. Then she fired and killed it, and her children were saved.
Starvation was one of the horrors which often threatened the newcomers in the wilderness, as it had often beset its improvident red children. In the first year of the settlement at Conneaut, James Kingsbury was forced to leave his family and go some distance into New York state. He fell sick, and was unable to return before winter set in. Then he hurried homeward as fast as he could with a sack of flour on horseback. His horse became disabled, and then he carried the flour on his shoulders. He reached home one day at nightfall, and found his older children starving; his wife, wasted with famine, lay on the floor, and near her the little one born in his absence, already dead for want of the nourishment which the poor mother could not give it.
XVII. THE FIRST GREAT SETTLEMENTS.
General Rufus Putnam, a brave officer of the Revolutionary war, was the first to call the attention of the Eastern States to the rich territory opened to settlement west of the Ohio by the peace with Great Britain, and he was one of the earliest band of pioneers which landed on the shores of the Muskingum. In 1787 Rev. Manasseh Cutler of Ipswich, Massachusetts, published a description of the Ohio country, which left little to the liveliest imagination. If anything was naturally lacking for the wants of man in a land abounding in wild fruits, "herds of deer, elk, buffalo, and bear," and flocks of "turkeys, geese, ducks, swans, teal, pheasants, partridges, etc.,... in greater plenty than the tame poultry are in any part of the old settlements of America," and in rivers "stored with fish, especially catfish, the largest, and of a delicious flavor," which "weighs from thirty to eighty pounds," it could be easily supplied by art. "The advantages of every climate," Dr. Cutler told his readers, "are here blended together," and the rich soil, everywhere underlain with valuable minerals, and covered with timber waiting to be built into ships and floated down the rivers to the sea, would produce not only "wheat, rye, Indian corn, buckwheat, oats, barley, flax, hemp, tobacco," but even "indigo, silk, wine, and cotton."
It is no wonder that the Ohio Company found the New Englanders eager to come out and possess this goodly heritage, and that the first band should have started from Dr. Cutler's own village. At dawn, on the 30th of December, 1787, they paraded before his church and parsonage, twenty-two men with their families. After listening to a short speech from him, they fired a salute, and set off, as the lettering on their leading wagon made known, "For the Ohio Country." It was eight weeks before they reached the headwaters of the Beautiful River, and began to build boats to float down its current to the mouth of the Muskingum. In the meantime, on the 1st of January, 1788, another company left Hartford, Connecticut, and in four weeks joined the first. They could not embark on their voyage together until April 2d, but in five days they arrived at Fort Harmar, beside the Muskingum, and were at their journey's end. They did not find the shores waving with indigo, silk, and cotton, but they saw that the soil could produce almost any crop, and the weather was so mild and lovely that they must have been confirmed in their belief of all that Dr. Cutler had told them of the climate. Captain Pipe, the Delaware chief who had brought Crawford to his death of cruel torment a few years before, was encamped for trade near the military post, and with seventy other Indians he welcomed the newcomers to the Muskingum, where they wisely built a stockade as soon as they could for defense against their red friends. They settled down at once to hew their fields out of the forest, and the very next year they had a school for their children. Bathsheba Rouse taught this first Ohio school, and Ohio women may well be proud that she taught it a whole year before a man taught the next Ohio school. The settlers called their town Adelphia, but soon changed its name to Marietta, which they made up from the name of the French queen Marie Antoinette, though Marietta was a common enough name in Italian before their invention of it.
They built mills on the streams, and in the streams, where the current turned their wheels, and after a first summer of rejoicing they quieted down to the serious business of clearing farms, having ague, and saving their scalps from the hospitable Delawares and their allies. The very year after their arrival the wonderful climate behaved so ungratefully that the corn crop was cut off by an early frost; and something like a famine followed; but still the year of the settlement was one of high hopes and sober jollity. The pioneers celebrated the Fourth of July, 1788, with a grand banquet of "venison barbecued, buffalo steaks, bear meat, wild fowl, and a little pork, as the choicest luxury of all;" and at least "one fish, a great pike, weighing one hundred pounds, and over six feet long," which could easily be "the largest ever taken by white men in the waters of the Muskingum." Several of the Indians, who were always ready for eating and drinking, took part in the celebration, and the settlers saw with pleasure that they did not like the sound of the cannon. They all "kept it up till after twelve o'clock at night, and then went home and slept till daylight."
The Marietta people knew how to enjoy themselves, but they had not come to Ohio for pastime, and they were soon all hard at work improving themselves as well as their lands. They not only had the first school in Ohio, but the first Sunday school. They had a public library in 1796, and preaching in the blockhouse from the beginning. It was ordered that every one should keep the Sabbath by going to church, and all men between eighteen and forty should do four days of military duty every year, as well as "entertain emigrants, visit the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, attend funerals, cabin raisings, log rollings, huskings; have their latchstrings always out." Perhaps the reader has heard before this of having the latchstring out, but has not known just what the phrase meant. The log cabin door in those days was fastened with a wooden latch on the inside, which could be lifted on the outside by a leathern string passed through a small hole in the door above it. When the string was pulled in, the door was locked; but the free-hearted man always left his latchstring out, so that every comer could enter and share his fireside with him.
The good people of Marietta had soon occasion for all the kindness enjoined by their laws in befriending a hapless colony of Frenchmen, whom certain speculators known as the Scioto Company had lured from their homes in the Old World, and then abandoned to their fate in the heart of the Western wilderness, where they had been promised that they were to find "a climate wholesome and delightful, frost even in winter almost entirely unknown, a river called, by way of eminence, the beautiful and abounding in excellent fish of a vast size; noble forests consisting of trees that spontaneously produce sugar, and a plant that yields ready-made candles; venison in plenty, the pursuit of which is uninterrupted by wolves, foxes, lions, or tigers; no taxes to pay, no military services to be performed."
Some of the adventurers who came to Ohio on these flattering terms were destitute people who agreed to work three years for the company and were then, each to receive from it in reward for their labors fifty acres of land, a house, and a cow. But others were people of means, who joyfully sold their property in the French cities and came out to found new homes in the Western woods, with money in their hands, but with no knowledge of woodcraft, or farming, and able neither to hunt, chop, plow, sow, or reap for themselves. They were often artisans, masters of trades utterly useless in that wild country, for what were carvers and gilders, cloak-makers, wigmakers and hairdressers to do on the banks of the Ohio in 1790? Some ten or twelve peasants came with the rest, but they were helpless too in the strange conditions, and if it had not been for the settlers at Marietta, they would all have fared miserably indeed.
The Scioto Company had so far provided for them as to agree with the Ohio Company for the erection of a little town or village where Gallipolis now stands; and when the first boats arrived with the strangely assorted company, they found a space cut out of the forest, and in the clearing eighty log cabins standing upon four streets fronting the river, with a square inclosed by a high stockade and fortified with blockhouses, where they might take shelter from the Indians. The cabins forming this square were of a better sort than those on the streets, and there was one meant to serve for a council chamber, where the newcomers promptly began to give balls. They arrived late in October, and there was nothing for them to do but to wait for the spring, even if they had known how to farm, and in the meanwhile they had as good a time as they could. They did not yet know that the Scioto Company, which failed to pay the Marietta people for building their village, had no power to give them titles to their land, and they hopefully spent their money in hiring American hunters to supply them with game. They seem to have been rather a light-hearted crew, in spite of their misfortunes and sufferings, and they not only amused themselves, but they amused their neighbors by their gay unfitness for the backwoods. If they went to fell a tree, half a dozen of them set to work on it with their axes at once, and when they had chopped it all round, they pulled it down with a rope, to the great danger of their lives and limbs. When they began to make gardens in the spring they followed the rules laid down in some books on gardening which they had brought with them from France, and they planted the seeds of such vegetables as they were used to at home. In a climate where "frost even in winter was almost unknown," the Ohio River froze solidly over the year after they came, and the hunters brought in little or none of the promised venison, though certainly not molested in the chase "by tigers, lions, or foxes." The colonists were in danger of starving, and many of them were already sick of the fevers bred by the past summer's sun on the swamp lands about them. It was one of their few advantages that the Indians did not trouble them much, but after killing one of them in mistake for an American, contented themselves with stealing the Frenchmen's cattle.
When the colonists found that the Scioto Company could not give them titles to the farms they had bought with their money or their toil, they began to stray away from the settlement. Some went down the rivers to New Orleans, others wandered off elsewhere, perhaps to St. Louis, or to the French towns in Indiana and Illinois; and when Congress at last came to their relief with a grant of twenty-four thousand acres, there were left at Gallipolis only ninety-two persons, out of the original five hundred colonists, to profit by the nation's generosity. In 1807 few or none of them remained on the spot where they had fondly hoped to make peaceful and happy homes for themselves and their children. It was a sad ending to a romantic story, the most romantic of all the Ohio stories that I know, but we must not blame those who deceived the colonists (not quite wittingly, it seems) for all their woes and disasters. These were partly owing to themselves. The New Englanders who settled at Marietta did not find eighty comfortable cabins waiting for them, and they did not hire hunters to provide their food, or begin by giving balls. The able and educated men among the French colonists seem to have cowered under their disasters like the rest; and some were incurable dreamers. One of the best of them used afterwards to tell how he was descending the Ohio with two philosophers who believed so firmly in the natural innocence and goodness of men, that they invited some Indians aboard their boat and were at once tomahawked. Their skeptical companion shot two of the savages and then jumped into the river, where he swam for his life, diving at the flash of their guns, till he got safe to the farther shore.
The Frenchmen at Gallipolis were not the stuff that the founders of great states are made of; but the New Englanders at Marietta were, and so were the New Jerseymen at Cincinnati, who followed next after them in time. These had even a harder struggle in their beginnings than the people at Marietta, for there the emigrants made their settlement under the guns of Fort Harmar, in a region loosely held by the milder Delaware tribe of the Algonquin nation; but the lands between the Great Miami and Little Miami were claimed and held by the fierce Miamis and Shawnees, and they had been so long the battle ground of the Indians and the Kentuckians that the region was called the Shawnee Slaughter House. The great warpath of the tribes ran through it from the Ohio River to Lake Erie, and the first white settlers had to build stations with blockhouses and stockades before they could begin to till the ancient fields, where from time to time immemorial the Indians had planted and gathered their harvests of corn. The first settlers arrived from New Jersey in December, 1788, some eight months after the settlement at Marietta, and in a little more than a year a fort was built at Cincinnati and garrisoned with United States troops; but in 1791 a band of five hundred Indians, led by Simon Girty, attacked Dunlap's Station at Colerain. They were beaten off only after a stubborn fight, though the Americans were armed with the cannon which the savages so much dreaded; and before they raised the siege they burned a white prisoner near the station.
This was a surveyor, and one of those New Jersey men of education and substance who were the earliest settlers in the Symmes Purchase, as the tract between the two Miamis was called. John Cleves Symmes, a prominent citizen of Trenton, had bought the land of the government, and he came himself with his friends to make the place his home. The events of this emigration were not so poetic as those of the New Englanders who settled on the Muskingum, but they resulted in the foundation of our greatest city; and if the first school in Ohio was at Marietta, the first church was built at Cincinnati. The hamlet opposite the mouth of the Licking was first known as Losantiville, a name made up of Greek and Latin words describing its situation, but this was soon changed to Cincinnati. The fort was built in 1790, and called Fort Washington; it was the strongest fort in the Northwest Territory, and to its strength Cincinnati owed her freedom from attacks by the Indians; it was of hewn timber, and was eighty feet square. At Cincinnati, Harmar and St. Clair began their march to defeat; here too the recruits for Wayne's army gathered and encamped before they began their march to victory.
The past of the place is not so rich in legend as that of much humbler localities, but there is at least one Indian story which will bear telling over again. It concerns Jacob Wetzel, the brother of the famous Lewis Wetzel, who was one day returning from a hunt well within the bounds of the present city, and had sat down on a log to rest, when a growl from his dog warned him of danger. He instantly treed, or jumped behind a tree, and then saw an Indian treed behind a neighboring oak. They both fired; the Indian missed, but Wetzel's bullet had broken the savage's arm. They rushed at each other with their drawn hunting knives, and fell in a fearful struggle. Wetzel unhurt was no match for the wounded Indian, who sat astride of him with his knife lifted when Wetzel's dog sprung at his throat. Wetzel now flung him off, and while the dog held him helpless, easily dispatched him. Another story is of the usual ghastliness relieved by a touch of the comic. Colonel Robert Elliott was shot by the Indians near the northern line of Hamilton County. One of them sprang upon him to scalp him, but at a touch the poor man's wig came off in his hand. He lifted it and was heard to say with an oath, "Lie!" while he stared at his trophy in bewilderment.
One of the later captives of the Indians was a boy of eleven named O. M. Spencer, who was seized near Cincinnati in 1792, and carried to a Shawnee village on the Maumee, where he was taken into a family. His case is peculiarly interesting because Washington himself asked his release through the British governor of Canada; and he was at last returned to his friends by canoe to Detroit, by sailing vessel to Erie, by land to Albany, by water to New York, and by land through Pennsylvania to Cincinnati. He was two years in getting back to his friends. .
The next settlement in Ohio, and the first within the Virginia Military District, was at Massie's Station, now Manchester, where Colonel Nathaniel Massie, with thirty families, arrived in 1790. They at once made themselves safe in an inclosure of strong pickets, fortified with blockhouses, and as the woods and rivers abounded in game and fish, they began to lead a life of as much comfort as people could enjoy who were surrounded by a wilderness, with the lurking danger of captivity and death on every hand.
Six years later, Colonel Massie laid out the town of Chillicothe, which became the first capital of Ohio, and in the same year, 1796, the earliest settlers from Connecticut landed at Conneaut in Ashtabula County. They were led by Moses Cleaveland, a lawyer of Canterbury, Connecticut, a man of substance and ability, and they had come from Buffalo, some by land and some by water, but they arrived within a few hours of one another. It was the Fourth of July, and Cleaveland wrote in his journal: "We gave three cheers and christened the place Fort Independence; and, after many difficulties, perplexities, and hardships were surmounted, and we were on the good and promised land, felt that a just tribute of respect to the day ought to be paid. There were in all, including women and children, fifty in number. The men, under Captain Tinker, ranged themselves on the beach and fired a federal salute of fifteen rounds, and then the sixteenth in honor of New Connecticut. Drank several toasts.... Closed with three cheers. Drank several pails of grog. Supped and retired in good order."
This was the order of the four lawful settlements in the Ohio country: first that of the Massachusetts men at Marietta in July, 1788; next, that of the New Jersey men at Cincinnati in December, 1788; then that of the Virginia men at Manchester in 1790; and then that of the Connecticut men at Conneaut in 1796.
XVIII. THE STATE OF OHIO IN THE WAR OF 1812.
We may now begin to speak of the State of Ohio, for with the opening of the present century her borders were defined. The rest of the Northwest Territory was called Indiana Territory, and by 1804, Ohio found herself a state of the Union. There has never since been any doubt of her being there, and if it had not been for the great Ohio generals there might now be no Union for any of the states to be in. But it is nevertheless true that Ohio was never admitted to the Union by act of Congress, and her life as a state dates only from the adoption of her final constitution, or from the meeting of her first legislature at Chillicothe, on the 1st of March, 1803.
The most memorable fact concerning the adoption of this constitution was the great danger there was that it might allow some form of slavery in the new state. Slavery had been forbidden from the beginning in the Northwest Territory, but many of the settlers of the Ohio country were from the slave states of New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky, and there was a strong feeling in favor of allowing women to be held as slaves till they were thirty-five and men till they were twenty-eight years old. But in the end, thanks to one of the Massachusetts men of Marietta, Judge Ephraim Cutler, the friends of slavery were beaten, and it was forbidden in Ohio in the same words which had forbidden it in the Northwest Territory.
It had been a long fight and a narrow chance, and the clause that gave the future to freedom was carried by one vote only. Edward Tiffin was chosen governor, and the new state entered upon a career of peace and comfort if not of great prosperity or rapid progress. The Indians if not crushed were quelled, and the settlers at last lived without fear of them, until Tecumseh began his intrigues. In the mean time there was plenty to eat, and enough to wear for all; there was the shelter of the log cabin, and the fire of its generous hearth. The towns grew, if they did not grow very rapidly; new towns were founded, and the country gradually filled up with settlers, or at least the land was claimed. Immense crops were raised on the fertile soil, and these were mainly fed to hogs and cattle, which more rapidly found a way to market than the grain: they could be driven over the bad roads, and the grain had to be carried. The very richness of the soil when turned to mud forbade good roads in the new country; and the most thriving settlements were on the rivers, which, as in the days of the Mound Builders, formed the natural highways. Many streams were navigable then, which the clearing of the woods from their banks has since turned to shallow pools in the time of drouth and to raging torrents in the time of rain; and one of the most hopeful industries was ship building. The trees turned to masts where they grew, and many a stately vessel slid into the waters that had washed its living fibers and glided down the Ohio into the Mississippi to the sea.
The Ohio people toiled and waited for the inventions of the future to open ways out into the world for them with the great riches to which they were shut up in their own borders; but it must have been with a growing uneasiness. Great Britain, as we know, had long held the forts in the West which she had agreed to give up to the United States, and after she surrendered them, her agents and subjects in Canada abetted the Indians in their rising against the Americans under Tecumseh and the Prophet. The trouble with the Indians would probably have ended at Tippecanoe, if it had not been for the outbreak of war between the two countries; yet this outbreak must have been a kind of relief to the Ohio people. The English insisted upon the right of searching our vessels on the high seas, and pressing into their navy any sailors whom they decided to be British subjects, and though the Ohio people could not feel the injury of this, as it was felt in the seaboard states whose citizens were forced into the English service by thousands, they could feel the insult. They were used to fighting, and they welcomed the war which at least unmasked their enemies. Their ardor was chilled, however, by one of its first events, which was the surrender of Detroit by General Hull. This threw the state open to invasion by the British and Indians, and the danger was felt in every part of it. The militia were called out, troops poured in from Kentucky, and General Harrison marched into the northwest to recapture Detroit. A detachment of his army was beaten in the first action, which took place beyond the Ohio limits, and after yielding to the British was butchered in cold blood by their Indian allies. The next spring Harrison built Fort Meigs on the Maumee; from this point he hoped to strike a severe blow at the enemy in Canada, but he was himself attacked here by General Proctor, who marched down from Maiden with a large force of British regulars, Canadian militia, and Indians led by Tecumseh.
Proctor planted batteries on the shore of the river, and Tecumseh's Indians climbed trees and poured down a galling fire on the besieged. The British commander then summoned the fort to surrender, but Harrison answered his messenger, "As General Proctor did not send me a summons on his first arrival, I had supposed that he believed me determined to do my duty," and he dismissed the envoy with the assurance that if the post fell into Proctor's hands it would be in a manner to do him more honor than any surrender could do. The fight then continued until the British general found his fickle savage friends deserting him, and on the 12th day raised the siege.
It is probable that the Indians were following their old custom of leaving off fighting to enjoy a sense of victory when they had won it. A large body of Kentucky horse had by Harrison's orders attacked one of the British positions, and carried it. After spiking the enemy's guns they pursued the flying British, and suddenly fell into an ambush of Indians. Out of eight hundred only one hundred escaped, and the work of murdering the prisoners at once began. It was on this occasion that Tecumseh tried to save the lives of the helpless Americans, appealing to the British general to support him, and even tomahawking with his own hatchet a disobedient chief who would not give up the work of death.
The allies made a second attempt on Fort Meigs, but they were foiled in this too, and then they turned their attention to Fort Sandusky, where the town of Fremont now stands. General Harrison held a council of war, and it was decided that Fort Sandusky could not resist an attack and must be abandoned. But when the order to retire reached the gallant young officer in command it was too late, for the Indians were already in force around the post. Major Croghan therefore wrote a reply which he thought might fall into the enemy's hands, and which he worded for their eyes rather than his general's. "Sir, I have just received yours of yesterday, 10 o'clock p.m., ordering me to destroy this place and make good my retreat, which was received too late to be carried into execution. We have determined to maintain this place, and by heavens we can!"
This answer got safely through to General Harrison, who promptly resented what he thought its presumption and sent to remove Major Croghan from his command. Croghan went to explain in person and was allowed to return to his post. The British and Indians appeared in force the next day, July 31st, and on the 2d of August made their first and last assault. Colonel Short of the British regulars led a force of 350 men against the fort, and set them the example of leaping into the ditch before it. When the ditch was full, Croghan opened upon them from a masked porthole with a six pounder, and raked them from the distance of thirty-feet. Colonel Short, who had ordered his men to give the Americans no quarter, fell mortally wounded; he tied his handkerchief to his sword and waved it in prayer for mercy, and not in vain. Croghan did all in his power to relieve his disabled foes; he passed buckets of water to them over the pickets, he opened a space under the pickets that those who could might creep through into the fort out of their comrades' fire.
That night the whole force of the enemy retreated in such haste that they left many stores and munitions behind them. They were commanded by General Proctor, who had already failed at Fort Meigs against Harrison, and who now dreaded an attack from him. None was made, but Harrison had the pleasure of writing in his report of the victory won by Major Croghan at Fort Stephenson: "It will not be among the least of General Proctor's mortifications that he has been baffled by a youth who had just passed his twenty-first year."
A little more than a month after this repulse the British were defeated in the battle of Lake Erie by Commodore Perry, at Put-in-Bay. The action itself is by no means the most impressive part of the wonderful story of that great victory. Perry had not only to cope with the British in waters where they had been undisputed masters, but he had to create the means of doing so. He brought ship builders, naval stores, guns and ammunition, as well as sailors for his fleet, four hundred miles through the wilderness of New York to the wilderness at Erie, Pennsylvania, and there he hewed out of the forest the stuff which he wrought almost alive into his ships. On the 1st of August he was ready to sail with two large vessels of twenty guns each, and seven smaller craft carrying fourteen guns in all. With these, he met the enemy's force of six vessels carrying sixty-four guns, and on the beautiful sunny morning of the 10th of September the famous fight took place. The Americans at first had the worst of it; the British guns were of longer range, and Perry's flag-ship, the Lawrence, was so badly disabled that he had to abandon it for the Niagara, The Lawrence was in fact an unmanageable wreck; her decks were streaming with blood, but nothing broke the awful order of the carnage. The men fell at their guns; if wounded, they were carried below; if killed, they were left where they dropped, while others took their places.
Perry hauled down his colors with his own hand, and with his flag under his arm was rowed to the Niagara through a storm of musketry. Once on board this vessel, he began to change defeat into victory, and after a fight lasting more than three hours in all, he could send to General Harrison his memorable dispatch, "We have met the enemy and they are ours."
The next day the mournful sequel to this tragedy followed, when the crews of both fleets, victors and vanquished, joined in burying their dead on the shore of the bay. The sailors slain in the battle had been already sunken in the lake, but now to the sound of the minute guns from the ships, with the sad music of funeral marches, the measured dip of oars, and the flutter of half-masted flags, the last sad rites were paid to the fallen officers. Perhaps the Indians under Tecumseh who had seen with stupid dismay the great battle of the rival squadrons, witnessed this pathetic spectacle too, before they sullenly withdrew into Canada after Proctor's army. There Harrison pursued them, and in his victory on the banks of the Thames, their mighty chieftain fell, and their cause perished with him.
XIX. A FOOLISH MAN, A PHILOSOPHER, AND A FANATIC.
"Who is Blennerhassett?" asked William Wirt, at the trial of Aaron Burr for treason, and many a schoolboy since has echoed the question, as many a schoolboy will hereafter, while impassioned oratory is music to the ear and witchery to the breast. The eloquent lawyer went on to answer himself, and painted in glowing colors a character which history sees in a colder light. But though Blennerhassett was not the ideal that Wirt imagined, he was the generous victim of a cold and selfish man's ambition, and the ruin of his happy home and gentle hope is none the less pathetic because his own folly was partly to blame for it.
We must go back of the events which we have been following to an earlier date, if we wish to find Harman Blennerhassett dwelling with his beautiful wife on their fairy island in the Ohio. Their earthly paradise lay in the larger stream at the mouth of the Kanawha, not far from the present town of Belpre, and there in the first year of the century, Blennerhassett built a mansion which became the wonder of the West. The West was not then very well able to judge of the magnificence which it celebrated, but there seems no reason to doubt that Blennerhassett's mansion was fine, and of a grandeur unexampled in that new country where most men lived in log cabins, and where any framed house was a marvel. He was of English birth, but of Irish parentage, and to the ardor of his race he added the refinement of an educated taste. He was a Trinity College man, and one of his classmates at Dublin was the Irish patriot, Emmet, who afterwards suffered death for his country. But it does not appear that Blennerhassett came to America for political reasons, and he seems to have made his home in the West from the impulse of a poetic nature, with the wealth and the leisure to realize the fancies of his dream. "A shrubbery that Shenstone might have envied," says Wirt, "blooms around him. Music that might have charmed Calypso and her nymphs, is his. An extensive library spreads its treasures before him. A philosophical apparatus offers him all the secrets and mysteries of nature. Peace, tranquillity, and innocence shed their mingled delights around him. And to crown the enchantment of the scene, a wife, who is said to be lovely even beyond her sex, and graced with every accomplishment that can render it irresistible, had blessed him with her love."
Whatever may be the facts concerning the home of the Blennerhassetts, the memories of those who knew its mistress bear witness to the truth of these glowing words. They testify that she was not only brilliant, accomplished, exquisite in manner, but good to every one, kind to the poor, and devoted to her husband and children. She was a faultless housewife, as well as a fearless horsewoman, and she was strong in body as she was active in mind. "She could leap a five-rail fence, walk ten miles at a stretch, and ride with the boldest dragoon. Robed in scarlet broadcloth, with a white beaver hat, on a spirited horse, she might be seen dashing through the dark woods, reminding one of the flight and gay plumage of a tropical bird."
To this home and its inmates came Aaron Burr, as bad, brave, and brilliant a man as ever figured in our public life. He had been a gallant officer in the Revolution, he had been Vice President of the United States, he had come within a vote of being President. But he had killed Alexander Hamilton in the duel which he forced upon him, and all his knowledge of the world and men had taught him to worship power and despise virtue. It has not yet been clearly shown what Burr meant or hoped to do, and possibly he could not have very well said himself; but it is certain that in a general way he was trying to separate the West from the East, and to commit the warlike people of the backwoods to a fine scheme for conquering Mexico from Spain, and setting up an imperial throne there for him to sit upon. He was always willing to sell out his fine scheme to France, to England, to any power that would buy, even to Spain herself; and in the mean time he came and went in the West and Southwest and built up a party in his favor, which fell to pieces at the first touch of real adversity. General Wilkinson, of the United States army, who had been plotting and scheming with Burr, arrested him; he was tried for treason, and those who had cast their fortunes with him were carried down in his fall. The most picturesque of the sufferers was Blennerhassett, who was one of the most innocent. Burr had found other Ohio people too plodding, as he said, but the Blennerhassetts took him seriously, and when Burr in his repeated visits tempted the husband, and flattered the wife, who was ambitious only for her husband, he easily beguiled them into a belief in his glorious destiny.
Blennerhassett put all his fortune into the venture. He ordered fifteen large boats built for transporting five hundred men down the Mississippi, he contracted for provisioning them, and pledged himself for the payments of all kinds of debts. His friends tried to reason with his folly in vain. Governor Tiffin called out a company of militia to prevent his boats from leaving the Muskingum; Blennerhassett heard that he was to be arrested, and fled; a troop of Virginians seized his island, pillaged his house and ruined his grounds; and Mrs. Blennerhassett with her children embarked amid the ice-floes of the Ohio on a small flatboat and made her way to her husband in Louisiana. Here he was taken, but discharged after a few weeks' imprisonment. They came back to their island, but they never lived there again, and in 1811 the house was burned. They wandered from place to place, and grew poorer and poorer; in 1831 he died at the house of his sister in the island of Guernsey, and seven years later his wife ended her days in a New York tenement house.
Another picturesque figure of our early times was one who never meant and never imagined harm to any living creature, man or beast, but gave his simple, humble life to doing good, with no thought of his own advantage. Perhaps as the world grows more truly civilized the name of Johnny Apple-seed will be honored above that of some heroes of the Ohio country. Like so many of our distinguished men, he was not born in our state, but he came here in his young manhood from his birthplace in Massachusetts, and began at once to plant the apple seeds which gave him his nickname.
Few knew that his real name was John Chapman, but it did not matter; and Johnny Appleseed became his right name if men are rightly named from their works. Wherever he went he carried a store of apple seeds with him, and when he came to a good clear spot on the bank of a stream, he planted his seeds, fenced the place in, and left them to sprout and grow into trees for the orchards of the neighborhood. He soon had hundreds of these little nurseries throughout Ohio, which he returned year after year to watch and tend, and which no one molested. When the trees were large enough he sold them to the farmers for a trifle, an old coat or an old shirt, and when he needed nothing he gave them for nothing. He went barefoot in the warm weather, and in winter he wore cast-off shoes; when he could get none and the ways were very rough he protected his feet with rude sandals of his own making. His hats were of his own making too, and were usually of pasteboard with a broad brim in front to shield his eyes from the sun; but otherwise he dressed in the second-hand clothing of others, for he thought it wrong to spend upon the vanities of dress. He dwelt close to the heart of nature, whose dumb children he would not wound or kill, even poisonous snakes or noxious insects. The Indians knew him and loved him for the goodness of his life, and they honored him for the courage with which he bore the pain he never would inflict. He could drive pins into his flesh without wincing; if he got hurt he burned the place, and then treated it as a burn; he bore himself in all things, to their thinking, far above other white men.
It was believed that he had come into the backwoods to forget a disappointment in love, but there is no proof that he had ever suffered this. What is certain is that he was a man of beautiful qualities of heart and mind, who could at times be divinely eloquent about the work he had chosen to do in this world. He was a believer in the philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg; he carried books of that doctrine in his bosom, and constantly read them, or shared them with those who cared to know it, even to tearing a volume in two. If his belief was true and we are in this world surrounded by spirits, evil or good, which our evil or good behavior invites to be of our company, then this harmless, loving, uncouth, half-crazy man walked daily with the angels of God.
In those early days when the people were poor and ignorant, and had little hope of bettering themselves in this world, their thoughts turned much to the other world. The country was often swept by storms of religious excitement; at the camp-meetings the devout fell in fits and trances or were convulsed with strange throes called the jerks, and all sorts of superstitions grew up easily among them. The wildest of these perhaps was that of the Leatherwood God which flourished in Guernsey County, about the year 1828. The name of this fanatic or impostor, who was indeed both one and the other, was Joseph C. Dylks, and his title was given him because of his claim to be the Supreme Being, and because he first appeared to his worshipers on Leather-wood Creek at the town of Salesville. The leatherwood tree which gave this creek its name had a soft and pliable bark, which could be easily tied into knots, and was used as cordage by the pioneers; and the dwellers on Leatherwood Creek had a faith of much the same easy texture. Yet they were of rather more than the average intelligence, and they were so far from bigoted or intolerant that all sects among them worshiped in one sanctuary, a large cabin which they had built in common, and which they called the Temple. Here on a certain night, while they sat listening to one of their preachers, they were thrilled by a loud cry of "Salvation!" followed by a fierce snort, like that of a startled horse, and they discovered in their midst a stranger of a grave and impressive aspect, who had come no one knew whence or how. When he rose he stood nearly six feet high, and showed himself of a perfect figure, with flashing black eyes, a low broad forehead and a fine arched nose; his hair, black and thick, fell in a mass behind his ears over his shoulders; he wore a suit of black broadcloth, a white neckcloth, and a yellow beaver hat. His weird snort and his striking presence seem to have been his sole equipment for swaying the faith of the people; though some of the earliest believers saw a heavenly radiance streaming from his countenance at times, and when he rode, they beheld above his head a ring of light which hung in the air over the saddle if he dismounted. But he soon began to make converts, and he had quickly enough, of the best among those good men and women, to gain the sole use of the Temple. At first he claimed merely to be the Lord Jesus Christ, but he presently announced himself God Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth; and his followers readily believed him, though he failed in the simple miracle of making a seamless garment out of a bolt of linsey-woolsey cloth, and kept none of his promises to them. He probably found it sufficient to be the Deity, and his worshipers, among whom were two ministers, were certainly content; but the unbelievers felt the scandal to be too great. They had Dylks arrested, and brought before two justices of the peace, who one after the other decided that there was no law of Ohio which forbade a man to declare himself the Almighty.
The wretched creature was acquitted, but he was thoroughly frightened. He made his escape from his guards, and took to the woods, where he was some time in hiding. When he came back to the believers, he had bated nothing of his claim to divinity, but he was no longer so bold. He now told them that the New Jerusalem would not come down at Leatherwood Creek, but in the city of Philadelphia, and he departed to the scene of his glory. Three of the believers followed him over the rugged mountains and through the pathless woods, finding food and shelter by hardly less than a miracle; but they did not find the New Jerusalem at their journey's end. Dylks had told them that where they should see the heavenly light the brightest, there they should behold the beginning of the New Jerusalem; but they nowhere saw this light, though they walked the streets of the earthly city night and day. Two of them were substantial farmers, and when they had lost all hope, and had lost even Dylks himself (for he soon vanished), they pledged their tobacco crops and so got money enough to come home, where they lived and died in the full faith that Joseph C. Dylks was God Almighty, though he never did anything to prove it but snort like a startled horse, wear long hair on foot and a halo on horseback, and fail in everything else he attempted. The third of this company of his followers, a young minister of the United Brethren, did not return for some years; then he came, well dressed and looking fat and sleek, and preached to the people on Leatherwood Creek the faith in which he had not faltered. He accounted for the disappearance of Dylks from the eyes of his other worshipers in Philadelphia very simply: he had seen him taken up into heaven.
But the people had merely his word for the fact; Dylks never descended to earth again as his apostle promised, and the belief in his divinity died out with those who first accepted him.
XX. WAYS OUT.
In 1893 Jacob S. Coxey, a respectable citizen of Massillon, started a movement in favor of good roads which took the form of a pilgrimage to Washington to petition Congress for its object. Several armies, as they were called, from different parts of the country, met in Massillon, and under Mr. Coxey's leadership, set out on a long and toilsome march over the Alleghanies to the capital, living by charity on the way. Many of the soldiers of these armies might well have been idle and worthless persons; there were doubtless others who were sincere and sane in their hope that the representatives of the people might be persuaded to do something for bettering the highways; but the affair was so managed as to meet with nothing but ridicule, and in trying to force a hearing from Congress Mr. Coxey and some of his followers were arrested for trespassing on the Capitol grounds, and were sentenced to several weeks in jail. This ended the latest crusade for good roads from Ohio; but there is no Ohio idea more fixed than that we ought to have good roads, and this was by no means the first time that Ohio men had asked the nation to lend a hand in making them. The first time they succeeded as signally as they failed the last time; but that was very long ago, and it may surprise some of my readers to know that we have a National Road crossing our whole state, which is still the best road in it.
Almost as soon as the Western people had broken into the backwoods it became their necessity to break out again, to find and to make roads between them and the civilization they had left. The ways of the different emigrations in reaching Ohio were: for the New Engenders, through New York state to Lake Erie, and westwardly along the shore of that water; for the Pennsylvanians, through their own state to the headwaters of the Ohio, and then down the river and inwardly from it; for the Virginians, Marylanders, and Carolinians, the valley of the Shenandoah and the mountain gaps to Kentucky, and so into Southwestern Ohio. At first the white men came by the streets, as the pioneers called the trails that the buffalo and deer had made; but they soon cut traces through the woods, and later these traces became wagon roads. Of course they used the rivers wherever they could and traveled by canoe, by flatboat, by keelboat, and by ark; and there grew up on the rivers a wild life which had its adventures and heroes like the Indian warfare. The most famous of the boatmen was Mike Fink, who drank hard and fought hard, and was a miraculous shot with his rifle. He was captain of a keelboat, which was the craft mostly used in ascending the river. The flatboats were broken up and sold as lumber when they had drifted down to their points of destination on the lower rivers, but the keelboat could make a return trip by dint of pushing with a long pole on the shore side and rowing on the other; sometimes even sails were used, and then the keelboat sped up stream at the rate of fifty miles instead of twelve miles a day.
But these means of traffic and travel soon ceased to suffice. Then the Ohio people felt the need of getting out with their increasing crops, their multiplying flocks and herds, and they made their need known to the nation, to which they were everywhere akin, and the nation answered through Congress by beginning, in 1806, the National Road, which was finished by 1838, from Baltimore as far as Indiana. This road first opened the East to Ohio; then in 1811 a steamboat made its appearance on the Beautiful River, and after that steam commanded all the Southern and Southwestern waters for us, as well as those of the inland seas on the North. Then, that all these waters might be united, the state began in 1825 to build a system of canals, from Cleveland to Portsmouth and from Toledo to Cincinnati. When these canals were completed, with their branches, they gave the people some nine hundred miles of navigable waters within their own borders. The main lines were built, not by companies for private profit as the railroads have since been built, but by the people for the people, and it may be said that the great prosperity of Ohio began with them. Wherever they ran they drained the swamps and made the land not only habitable but beautiful. They were dug by Ohio people, and the sixteen millions of dollars that they cost came back into the hands of the men who gladly taxed themselves for the outlay. The towns along their course grew, and new towns rose out of the forests and prairies.