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Ohio archæological and historical quarterly (Volume 21) online

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Tablet presented by the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society.

[South Face]
Old French War — Pontiac Conspiracy — Revolutionary War

"Northern terminus of the old Indian water way and land trail,
Sandusky-Scioto Route from Lake Erie to the Ohio River, used from
the earliest records by Indian and French hunters, explorers, mission-
aries and war parties, in passing from the St. Lawrence and the Great
Lakes to the Ohio and Mississippi, and later known as the Harrison
Trail of the War of 1812. On landing near this spot their light water
craft were portaged fifty-seven arpents from Lake Erie across to Lac
Sandoski, up the Sandusky River, across the Sandusky-Scioto portage
and down the Scioto to the Ohio and Mississippi.

"The Sandusky-Scioto trail along the banks of these rivers was the
common battle ground of the French from Detroit and the British from
Fort Pitt during the old French War, prior to the surrender of French
sovereignty in America to Great Britain in 1760.

"Colonel John Bradstreet's expedition for the recovery of the nine
British posts captured in Pontiac's conspiracy sailed their larger water
craft — sixty long boats, with 1,400 men — into Sandusky Bay, up to
the lower falls of the Sandusky (Fremont), where they encamped Sept.
20, 1704, the westernmost point reached. Returning, camped near where
the old fort stood on the carrying place between Lakes Sandusky and
Erie, where Major Israel Putnam began 'clearing the ground to construct
a fort,' but October 18 whole decamped and embarked for Niagara."

"During the Revolutionary War Major de Peystcr, the British
Commandant, sent Butler's rangers with cannon from Detroit up to
the lower falls of the Sandusky, where they supported the Indians in
the repulse of Crawford's expedition in 1782, which culminated in the
burning of Colonel Crawford at the stake.

"Later the British established a post at Lower Sandusky (Fremont).

"Erected by the Ohio Society, Daughters of the American Revolu-

[West Face.]

War of 1812.

"Captain Barclay's British fleet transporting General Proctor's
British Army sailed up the Sandusky River to make their assault on
Fort Stephenson, Aug. 1 and 2, 1813, of which General Sherman wrote:

'"The defense of Fort Stephenson by Croghan and his gallant
little band was the necessary precursor to Perry's victory oil the lakes
and of General Harrison's triumphant victory at the battle of the
Thames. These assured to our immediate ancestors the mastery of the

378 Ohio Arch, and Hist. Society Publications.

great West, and from that day to this the West has been the bulwark
of this nation.'

"General Harrison sent expert riflemen from his army to help
serve the guns on Commodore Perry's ships in the naval battle with
the British fleet off this landing, from which on Sept. 10, 1813, Perry
sent the following laconic note : 'We have met the enemy and they are
ours, two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.'

"General Harrison immediately marched his troops over the old
Sandusky-Scioto trail to this landing, but transported the stores down
the Sandusky River and dragged the boats across the de Lery portage
from Sandusky Bay to Lake Erie. The troops constructed a strong
fence of brush and fallen timber across from Portage River to Sandusky
River. Within this inclosure their horses were turned loose. General
Harrison's army embarked on Commodore Perry's ships Sept. 20, stopped
at Put-in-Bay and Middle Sister Island and landed in Canada Sept.
27, where Proctor with his British regulars was defeated and Tecumseh
with many of his Indians killed in the battle of the Thames, Oct. 5, 1813.

"The returning Ohio and Kentucky volunteers with their British
prisoners collected their horses here, marched to their home over the
old Sandusky-Scioto trail, which has since been known as the Har-
rison trail of the war of 1812.

"Erected by the National Society of the United States Daughters
of 1812, State of Ohio."

Monuments of boulders from the Marblehead Peninsula, ten feet
in height by 5 feet square at the base, erected by the Business Men's
Association of Port Clinton. Inscriptions prepared by Colonel Hayes,
and tablets manufactured at the Rock Island (111.) Arsenal.



Sept. 15, 1912, the day of the centennial of the Copus Battle
was a very gloomy day, with rain from early morning until
evening. But despite the inclement weather ahout 1,000 people
gathered in Milligan's grove, near the Copus monument situated
near Mifflin, ten miles east of Mansfield.

At 11 o'clock Prof. G. F. Wright, of Oberlin, called the meet-
ing to order and after singing America, Rev. Eugene E. Williams
offered prayer. Prof. Wright then gave an address regarding the
geology and early history of the country near which the battle
was fought. Hon. W. S. Kerr, of Mansfield, then gave an inter-
esting historical address in which he showed the honor that
belonged to the early settlers and especially those who fell dur-
ing the Indian massacres. Mr. P. C. Cowen, of Perrysville,
read an historical paper recounting the names and deeds of the
pioneers of the immediate community.

After the addresses a sumptuous basket dinner was eaten
by those present. The rain still persisted in a steady down-
pour, the crowd began to disperse and the exercises of the day
came to an end. Had the weather been favorable there would,
no doubt, have been 12 to 15 thousand people present, because
extensive preparations had been made by people for miles

The publicity that the Centennial gave to matters of local
history was of great value in getting before the people the value
of preserving these historical events and landmarks. It also
brought the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society
before the people in a favorable manner. Prof. Wright, our
president, won interest in the society.

The local committee, Mr. A. J. Baughman and Rev. Eugene
E. Williams, both life members of the Society, had arranged an
excellent program and had spent considerable time and effort in


380 Old Fort Sandoski and the De Lcry Portage.

getting the centennial well planned and advertised. They had
the co-operation of the best citizens of the community.

In May, 1782, the ill-fated expedition under command of
Col. Wm. Crawford, the friend of George Washington, passed
thru Wayne, Holmes, Ashland, Richmond and Crawford counties
on its way to the Indian settlements on the Sandusky River. On
the banks of the Clearfork, in what is now Ashland County, he
stopped at an Indian village called "Helltown," a German name
meaning village by the clear stream. "This village was the home
of Thomas Lyon, Billy Montour, Thomas Jelloway, Billy Dowdy,
Thomas Armstrong, and other leading Delawares ; and the occa-
sional residence of the noted Captain Pipe, who aided in the
execution of the unfortunate Col. Wm. Crawford." 1 The next
year the village was abandoned, most of the inhabitants going to
the north bank of the Blackfork where they founded the village of
Greentown. This village was named for Thomas Green, a Con-
necticut Tory and renegade. It was composed of Delaware,
Mingo, and Mohawk Indians, with Captain Thomas Armstrong
as chief, and was situated three miles north of Perrysville on a
farm now owned by Pierce Royer or Martin W'eirick. It con-
sisted of about four acres, and was nearly surrounded by alder
marshes, making it almost impregnable from an attack by the
enemy. The huts numbered about 150, with a council-house
and a cemetery ; the cemetery is supposed to contain the remains
of Thomas Green, the founder. "From 1783 to 1795 this village
was a point on the route from Upper Sandusky to Fort Pitt, and
many trembling captives passed thru it on their way to Detroit or
other points in the Indian country." 1 "The cabins comprising
the village stood principally upon the rolling plateau-like summit
of the hill, each Indian selecting a site to suit himself, with but
little regard for streets or regularity. A sycamore tree, which
in the olden time cast its shade over the council-house of the
tribe, still stands like a monument from the past, grim and white,
stretching its branches like skeleton arms, in the attitude of a
benediction. A wild-cherrv tree stands several rods northeast,

'History of Ashland County, Ohio, by G. W. Hill, M. D., 34.

The Copus Battle Centennial


around which was formerly a circular mound."- It was the
burning of this Indian village in August, 1812, that caused the
Indian uprising which led to the death of Martin Ruffner. the
Seymour family, and the Copus battle.


The Copus Monument. In memory of the Copus Family massacred
by the Indians, September 15, 1812. Situated near Mifflin, ten miles
east of Mansfield.

'A. J. Baughman, in appendix to Philip Seymour, by Rev. James F.

382 Ohio Arch, and Hist. Society Publications.

It was in the first decade of the nineteenth century that the
first white settlements were made in what are now Richland and
Ashland Counties. The first permanent settler in Richland County
was Jacob Newman, who settled on the banks of the Rockyfork
in the spring of 1807. He built his cabin near a spring. Xot long
after the erection of his cabin he began the erection of a grist-
mill on the Rockyfork, which was purchased and completed by
Jacob Beam, and became widely known as Beam's Mill. In 181 2,
Mr. Beam built a block-house near his mill, and it was here that
soldiers under Captain Abraham Martin and Captain Simon
Beymer of the 3rd (Bay's) Regiment, were stationed.

In March, 1809, Rev. James Copus, a hatter by trade, moved
with his family of nine children near the banks of the Blackfork
where he erected a temporary cabin. This cabin was located
about three-fourths of a mile northeast of what is now called
Charles' mill, on what is called Zimmer's Run. "The cabin was
constructed by planting two forks in the ground about twenty
feet apart, and placing a ridge pole on them, and then leaning split
timber against the pole, making a sort of shed roof, the base being
about twelve feet wide, leaving a small opening at the top for the
escape of smoke. The ends were closed by setting poles in the
ground, leaving a door at one end. The cracks were carefully
closed with moss gathered from old logs. The floor consisted of
the smooth, well packed earth. In this rude structure James Copus
and family resided for a period of about eighteen months." 3 In
the spring of 1810 he erected a cabin about three-fourths of a
mile from the Blackfork, where he was living at the time of the
battle in which he lost his life. It was located at, or near, where
the Copus monument now stands. Mr. Copus was born in Greene
Co., Pa., in 1775, and married in 1796. He was of German
descent, a man of firm convictions and upright character. He
was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and frequently
preached to the Indians, by whom he was respected as a man of
integrity. His permanent cabin was built near an excellent spring
which gushed out of the ground, at the foot of the hill, furnishing
water for the family and stock. A ridge of ground about 75

3 History of Ashland County, by Hill.

The Copus Battle Centennial. 383

feet high was on one side of the cabin, and on the other side
was a valley of rich and beautiful land. Mr. Copus had cleared
about twenty acres of the land and enclosed it with a rail fence.
It was here that he resided when the War of 1812 began.

Dr. G. W. Hill, in his History of Ashland County, gives the
following account of an Indian feast that Air. Copus attended.
"In the fall of 1809 he attended an Indian feast at Greentown,

where he met James Cunningham and other new settlers

The refreshments ( ?) consisted of boiled venison and bear meat,
somewhat tainted, and not very palatable to the white guests.
The ceremonies took place in the council house, a building com-
posed of clap-boards and poles, some thirty feet wide, and per-
haps fifty feet long. When the Indians entered the council
house, the squaws seated themselves on one side and the men
on the other. There was a small elevation of earth in the cen-
ter, eight or ten feet in diameter, which seemed to be a sort of
sacrifice mound. The ceremonies were opened by a rude sort of
music, made by beating upon a -small copper kettle, and pots,
over the mouths of which dried skins had been stretched. This
was accompanied by a sort of song, which, as -near as could be
understood, ran ; 'Tiny, tiny, tiny, ho, ha, ho, ha, ho !' — accenting
the last syllables. Then a tall chief arose and addressed them.
During the delivery of his speech, a profound silence prevailed.
The whole audience observed the speaker, and seemed to 'be
deeply moved by the oration. The speaker seemed to be about
seventy years of age. He was tall and graceful. His eyes had
the fire of youth, and blazed with emotion while he was speak-
ing. The audience frequently sobbed, and seemed deeply 'af-
fected. Mr. Copus could not understand the language of the
address, but presumed the speaker was giving a summary his-
tory of the Delawares, two tribes of which, the 'Wolf and the
'Turtle,' were represented at the feast. Mr. Copus learned that
the distinguished chief who had addressed the meeting, was 'Old
Captain Pipe,' of Mohican Johnstown, the executioner of the
lamented Col. Crawford. At the close of the address dancing
commenced. The Indians were neatly clothed in deer skin and
English blankets. Deer hoofs and bear claws were strung along
the seams of their leggins, and when the dance commenced, the

384 Ohio Arch, and Hist. Society Publications.

jingling of the hoofs and claws gave a rude sort of harmony to
Lhe wild music made upon the pots 'and kettles. The men danced
in files or lines, by themselves around the central mound, and the
squaws followed in a company by 'themselves. In the dance
there seemed to be a proper sense of modesty between the
sexes. In fact, 'the Greentown Indians were always noted for
being extremely scrupulous and modest in the presence of others.
After the dance, the refreshments were handed around. Not rel-
ishing the appearance of the food, Air. Copus and the other
whites present, carefully concealed the portions handed them
until they left the wigwam, and then threw them away. No
greater insult could 'be offered an Indian, than to refuse to ac-
cept the food proffered by him. So those present had to use a
little deception to evade the censure of the Indians."'

Among other settlers at the beginning of the War of 1812
were the following: David Hill who, 'in 1809, made the first
settlement in what is now Lucas, on the lot now owned by Silas
Rummell ; Captain James Cunningham, James Smith, John 'and
David Davis, Abraham Baughman, Peter Kinney, Martin Ruff-
ner, Frederick Zimmer (Zeimer or Seymour), Samuel Lewis,
Henry McCart, Archibald Gardner, Andrew Craig, John Lam-
bright, John and Thomas Coulter, Allen Oliver, Calvin and
Joseph Hill, Ebenezer Rice, Joseph Jones, Charles and Melzer
Tannyhill, Jeremiah Conine, George Crawford, 'Edward Haley,
Lewis and Solomon Hill, Moses Adzit, Sylvester Fisher, Otho
Simmons, Simon Rowland, Richard Hughes, and Henry Smith.
These settlers were mostly on the banks of the Blackfork, Rocky-
fork or Clearfork rivers.

When war between England and the United States was de-
clared, June 18, 1812, Ohio became at once the theater of some
of the most important incidents of the war. At almost the be-
ginning, August 16, Gen. Wm. Hull ingloriously surrendered
Detroit to General Brock. This act of cowardice rendered the
Ohio country almost defenseless against the Indians. The first
engagement with the Indians is said to have been on Marble-
head peninsula in Ottawa County. 4 From this time many battles

'Ohio Arch. & Hist. Soc. Pub., XIV., 97.

The Copus Battle Centennial. 385

and skirmishes between the whites and Indians caused the
ground to be red with blood.

At the "outbreak of hostilities Col. Samuel Kratzer, of Knox
County, arrived at Mansfield and took command of the soldiers
stationed at the various blockhouses. One blockhouse at Mans-
field was under Captain Shaffer of Fairfield County, and the
other under Captain Williams of Coshocton County. The soldiers
at Beam's blockhouse were under the command of Captain Abra-
ham Martin and Captain Simon Beymer. Early in September,
Col. Kratzer sent Captain Douglass to Greentown to bring the
Indians to Mansfield for the purpose of sending them to Piqua,
or Urbana, fearing that Tecumseh would influence them to join
him in hostilities against the white settlers. Greentown was
beautifully and strategically located and they hesitated to leave
the place that had been their home for thirty years, and where
many of their relatives were buried. When Captain Douglass
requested the Indians to vacate their homes and remove to a
distant place he did not meet with a hearty response. It was a
delicate and dangerous mission he had to perform. To insist
was to meet with resistance ; to fail in the enterprise was to be
reprimanded by his commanding officer. In his dilemma he
found his way to the cabin of the friend and adviser of the In-
dians — James Copus — and solicited his aid in the undertaking.
In this he acted wisely, for Captain Armstrong, the chief, had
about eighty warriors and could maintain his position with great
loss to the whites. So Captain Douglass went to the man whom
he thought could render him assistance and thus avert blood-
shed. But James Copus was not a man to do a thing he thought
to be wrong. He had lived neighbor to these Indians 'for three
years and had found them peaceable. He had preached to them
the principles of Christianity and did not want to do anything
that would belie his teaching. He, therefore, refused to do as
Captain Douglas desired. He endeavored to show that the In-
dians had certain rights which must be respected ; that it was
wrong to take them from their homes; and that if they should
be removed he would be blamed as being responsible for it. But
all 'of this was of no avail. The Captain not only urged, but
Vol. XXI — 25.


Ohio Arch, and Hist. Society Publications.

commanded him to do as requested. Mr. Copus, fearing that
Douglass would expel the Indians by force, finally consented to
accompany him on condition that the property of the Indians
should not be molested. He was given this assurance by Captain
Douglass, who, doubtless, intended to keep his word. Mr.
Copus took with him his three sons, Henry, James and Wesley,

Powder Horn and Ammunition Box used in the Copus Battle,
September 15, 1812.

and accompanied Douglass to Greentown, about three miles dis-
tant. Upon arriving at the village they found the Indians greatly
excited at the prospect of being driven from their homes. Cap-
tain Thomas Armstrong, the chief, was a small, dignified man
about sixty-five years old. His Indian name was Pamoxet. He
Avas not a full-blooded Indian, but had lived so long with them
that he had become one of them. He and Mr. Copus were very

The Copus Battle Centennial. 387

good friends. He had often visited the Copns cabin, and one
season had made sugar there. They had often enjoyed the back-
woods sports together. Xo wonder, therefore, that Mr. Copus
did not want to ask the Indians to leave. When Douglass ap-
proached the chief the second time he found him trembling with
emotion and excitement. He asked Air. Copus if the property
of the Indians would be protected, and upon being told that
Captain Douglass had promised that not only the Indians them-
selves should be protected, but that their property also should
remain intact, the chief reluctantly consented to accompany the
soldiers to the blockhouse at Mansfield. With feelings of re-
gret and sorrow the Indians prepared to leave their homes. It
was a sad sight to see them start on the journey. Many of
them kept looking back to get the last glimpse of the place that
had been their camping-ground for thirty years. Finally some
one detected what looked like smoke arising from their late
homes, and before they had proceeded much further their fears
were confirmed. A few straggling soldiers had tarried behind
and had wantonly applied the torch to the Indian village and
Greentown was disappearing in smoke. This was done, they
claimed, in revenge for their relatives who had been slain by In-
dians. Some of the Indians swore vengence, and subsequent
events proved that they found it. Mr. Copus was chagrined
at finding that the pledges given to the Indians had not been
kept, and feared that he might be in danger from their desire for
revenge, since he had advised them to leave their homes under
promise of protection. But he soon found composure and went
on his usual rounds of back-woods duties. Before leaving the
village an inventory of their property was taken by Captain
James Cunningham and Peter Kinney. The Indians were taken
across the Blackfork to the new State road, on thru Lucas, and
finally encamped in the ravine southwest of what is now the pub-
lic square in Mansfield. After being joined by Indians from
jeromeville, they were taken by Col. Kratzer to Piqua.

In the spring of 1812, Martin Ruffner, a native of Shenan-
doah County, Ya., settled on Staman's Run, half a mile northwest
of what is now Miffln, i;i Ashland County, Ohio. Here he built
a cabin on the brow of a hill not far from the Blackfork. He,

388 Ohio Arch, and Hist. Society Publications.

and a boy named Levi Berkinhizer (Bargahiser), lived at the
cabin and proceeded to clear some land preparatory to the arival
of his family. Near his cabin was the cabin of his brother-in-law,
Richard Hughes, with whom Mr. Ruffner's mother and nineteen
year old brother, Michael, lived. Mr. Ruffner's wife and child
arrived later in the summer, but upon hearing of the surrender of
Hull at Detroit he had sent them to Licking County. Several of
his relatives had been killed by the Indians and he had conse-
quently become the unconquerable foe of the Red-man.

About two and one-half miles southeast of the Ruffner cabin
Frederick Zimmer (Zeimer or Seymour), a native of Germany,
but who had resided in Pickaway County, erected a cabin for his
family consisting of his wife, daughter Catherine, and son Philip,
aged nineteen. Mr. Zimmer was a man of some means and had
purchased land in Pickaway County, where he had left some of
his married sons. He at once began to improve his recently
acquired home in Richland (now Ashland) County. Being an
old man and unable to work but little, he hired Michael Ruffner
to assist in preparing about fifteen acres for corn.

On the afternoon of September ioth, 1812, this young man,
Michael Ruffner, was on his way along the trail leading to the
cabin of his brother, when he met two (perhaps more) Indians
carrying guns, knives and tomahawks, and who seemed very
friendly. They inquired if the Zimmers were at home, and upon
being informed that they were the Indians passed on into the
forest and disappeared. Michael hastened to tell his brother
Martin what he had seen and heard. Martin at once became
suspicious and mounting a fleet horse hastened down the trail
to warn the Zimmers of the suspected danger. Arriving before
the Indians had put in an appearance, the pioneers sqon decided
to sent Philip Zimmer to warn the other settlers of the impending
danger. He first went to the cabin of James Copus, who lived
about two miles further down the trail. From there he went to
John Lambright's who had erected a cabin two miles further
south on the Blackfork. Lambright, Copus and Philip Zimmer
hastened to the Zimmer cabin arriving there early in the evening.
Everything was as silent as midnight and finding no light in the
cabin grave fears were entertained that the occupants had met

The Copus Battle Centennial. 389

a terrible fate. Air. Copus went cautiously to the window and
listened, but no sound greeted his ears. He then went to the
door, which he found ajar, but upon pressing against it he found
that it did not move. He then felt on the floor, when, to his
horror, his hand was wet with blood. There was no longer any
uncertainty as to the fate of the inmates of the cabin. Hastening
to where Philip and Lambright were stationed he told them what
he had found. Young Zimmer became frantic at the thought of the
death of his aged parents and sister. He rushed to the cabin to
see for himself, but was restrained from entering for fear that

Online LibraryOhio State Archaeological and Historical SocietyOhio archæological and historical quarterly (Volume 21) → online text (page 33 of 44)