William Lang.

History of Seneca county, from the close of the revolutionary war to July, 1880 : embracing many personal sketches of pioneers, anecdotes, and faithful descriptions of events pertaining to the organization of the county and its progress online

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Online LibraryWilliam LangHistory of Seneca county, from the close of the revolutionary war to July, 1880 : embracing many personal sketches of pioneers, anecdotes, and faithful descriptions of events pertaining to the organization of the county and its progress → online text (page 17 of 72)
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William McCulloch a section of six hundred and forty acres, lying just
north of and adjoining the Armstrong reserve. McCulloch was killed
by a cannon ball at the siege of Fort Meigs, while sitting in General
Harrison's tent, and was at that time employed by the United States
as interpreter.

Ely Dresbach, from Circleville, a graduate of the Ohio Medical Col-
lege, also settled in Fort Ball, on the 17th of February, 1823.

Rodolphus Dickinson, from New York, the first lawyer in Seneca
county, also settled in Fort Ball in 1824.

Abel Rawson, from Massachusetts, arrived on the 15th of February,
1826, and settled in Fort Ball.

A Mr. Jesse Spencer, the proprietor of Fort Ball, and Mr. Josiah
Hedges, the proprietor of Tiffin, two towns adjoining on the river,
were each striving to secure the location of the county seat in their
respective towns. Other people became interested, and for a long
time there was a very bitter conflict between these rival parties for suc-
cess. They sometimes came to blows about it. The brush dam was
also a bone of contention, and one time, even after the county seat
was located in Tiffin and Mr. Hedges had the two story frame building
put up, (which will be further described,) for a court house, he knocked
Mr. Spencer down, for which Hedges was arrested and for a short time
imprisoned in this court house. Finally Mr. Hedges bought out
Jesse Spencer, and became the owner of Fort Ball. Thereupon Mr.
Hedges had additions surveyed and platted by James Durbin, re-num-
bering the lots and extending the limits of Fort Ball, which from that
time forward was known by the name of New Fort Ball, until it was
finally merged into, and became a part of, the city of Tiffin.

The open square across the street, south of and opposite McNeal's


Store, was the place intended for the location of the court house. New-
Fort Ball was surveyed and platted in 1837. It is situated upon the
eastern portion of the Armstrong section, and contained six hundred
and twenty in-lots, together with several additions that had then al-
ready been made to Tiffin, "Pan Yan'' among them, which was situated
between the iron bridge and the tunnel.

In 1821 Josiah Hedges entered the land where the old town of Tiffin
was afterwards located, at the Delaware land office. The town was
surveyed and platted by the brother of the proprietor. General James
Hedges, of Mansfield. The first stick was cut upon the town plat in
March, 1822, and soon thereafter Henry Welch, of Kden township,
John Mim and two other men, Wetz and Drennon, had each a lot given
to them, with the condition that each should build a cabin on his lot
and move into it with his family, which was done accordingly.

James Spink, of Wooster, came here in the same month, and brought
with him a stock of goods. In the following winter his store was bro-
ken open and robbed of nearly all its contents. This so discouraged
Mr. Spink that he left in disgust.

Simeon B. Howard, from the eastern part of Ohio, also located in
Tiffin about that time.

Finally the day arrived when the great trouble about locating the
county seat was to come to an end. The legislature, during the winter
session of 1822, had appointed three commissioners to locate the county
seat for Seneca county, viz : Messrs. Herford, Miner and Cyrus Spink.
These gentlemen arrived here on the 2Sth of March, 1822, and located
the seat of justice for Seneca county at Tiffin, where it has ever since
remained. The Fort Ballites were very much chagrined and put out
about it, but finally came down.

Very soon thereafter Mr. Hedges built a mill on the right bank of
the river, immediately north of Tiffin, where the present brick mill now
stands, the dam of which is still flowing back the water of the river
throughout the whole extent of the city along the river. The mill was
known by the name of the '-Hunter mill," because Mr. Samuel Hunter,
the oldest son-in-law of Mr. Hedges, had charge of it. To show how
great a spite the principal inhabitants on the Fort Ball side of the river
entertained against Mr. Hedges, they influenced Mr. Spencer to bring
an action against Mr. Hedges, for flowing Spencer's land by the dam.
They also decried the mill, and said all the hard things of Mr. Hedges
and his mill they could. Soon the patronage of the mill fell off, and
the enterprise seemed to fail, however necessary and scarce the mills


Then Mr. Hedges resorted to a stratagem, which soon proved to
have the desired efifect. Hedges sent out word to all his customers and
the people far and near, that he would likely be compelled to take his
mill away, and that if they wished their grinding done they must hurry
up, etc. This notice raised such general indignation in the country
against the enemies of Mr. Hedges that it turned the tide in his favor,
and Hunter's mill became the most popular mill on the river. Mr.
Hedges bought Spencer's Fort Ball, and peace was restored to the
border. At the time the commissioners located the county seat at
Tiffin, there were but six cabins in it. The greater number of the early
settlers were on the Fort Ball side, and the lawyers, doctors, merchants
and all, were in unison in their fight upon Mr. Hedges, but he outgen-
eraled them all.

Tiffin was named after Governor Edward Tiffin, the first governor
of Ohio, who was a particular friend of Mr. Hedges. At this writing
three daughters of Governor Tiffin are still living — two in the town
of Chillicothe, Ross county, and Mrs. Dr. Comegys, in Cincinnati —
the only surviving members of the governor's family.

The location of the county seat took place two years before Seneca
county was really organized and clothed with judicial or municipal

During the latter part of the year 1819, and during 1820, the beauty
of the "oak openings" and the richness of the soil attracted quite a
number of people to Thompson, and the Whitneys, Underhills, Purdys,
Clarks, Demicks, Twisses and others became squatters, awaiting the
land sales.

About the same time the towering oaks, soil and scenery along the
banks of Honey creek and Rocky creek, made the immigrants say, with
the disciples of old: " It is good for us to be here ; let us make here
three tabernacles ; one for thee, one for Moses, and one for EUas."^

Here came the Welches, the Clarks, the Sponables, the Browns, the
Bakers, the Searleses, the Pratts, the. Craws, the Knapps, the Cornells,
the Houghs, the Bretses, the Downses, the Jaquas, the Gibsons, the Bun-
dages, the Kagys, the Penningtons, the Fleets, the Watsons, the Rol-
lers, the Eastmans, the Omsteds, etc.

With the exception of a few early settlers in Fort Ball and near
Fort Seneca, all the early settlements were made on the east side of
the river, especially along Honey creek and Rocky creek. West of
the river was nearly all forest and water, sometimes badly mixed, av, 1
there were no settlements at all.


Col. Kilbourn, also a pioneer surveyor in Seneca county, took a very
active part in its organization. He surveyed the state road already
described and known by his name; also the towns of Melmore and
Caroline in this county.

Among my first acquaintances in America, was my friend James M.
Stevens, of Melmore. He and I were apprentices and learned our
trades at the same time, in the same shop, in Tiffin. James is a great
singer — was at that time — and among the many songs he sang was the
poem composed by Col. Kilbourn on Melmore. James used to sing it
to the tune of "How tedious and tasteless the hours."

Friend Stevens — well, I don't like to say much of the living — but
James is a very clever man. He lost an arm in the war of the rebel-
lion, and is now familiarly known as Colonel Stevens. The poetry on
Melmore is recorded here, not so much for its poetic excellence, but
because James used to sing it.


V\'here honey-dews from the mild heaven,

Distil on the foliage below —
^Vhe^e Honey creek's waters are given

T' enrich the sweet vales as they flow;—
Where playful the heart-cheering breeze

Sweeps o'er the sweet bosom of flowers —
There Jlelmore is seen through the trees,

With fragrance and liealtli in her bowers.

This countrj and village to prove,

Of jileasure and hesilth the abode,
Kind Nature has found in her, love,

And on her good c-hiklren bestowed.
The fees to her agents are small.

For titles in form which they give ;
Then come, men of enterprise— all

Accept, and in happiness live.

Merchants and laborers come,

A fortune is offered you near ;
Here m;ike it your permane)it liome,

The country will cherish you here.
Come taste the Melmorian springs,

Possess the Melmorian lands,
Wpalth, honor and pleasure they'll bring,

To strengthen your hearts and your hands.



So healthy the country is, 'round.

That doctors have little to do ;
So moral the people are found,

They live without ministers, too ;
So honest our neighbors we call.

So peaceful and happy at home ,
They've need of no lawyers at all.

And none are desired to come.

On the sth of April, 1822, Noah Seits, from Fairfield county, settled
upon the north-east quarter of section twenty, in what is now Bloom
township. This was the first settlement within its limits. Thomas
Boyd came with his sister, Mrs. Mary Donnel, in the spring of the same
year, and also settled here. Mr. Boyd was a native of Pennsylvania,
much esteemed among his neighbors.

In the same year, Joseph McClelland and James Boyd settled upon
Honey Creek, in Bloom, and were soon followed by Abraham Kagg,
Lowell Robinson and Nehemiah Hadley. The following year John
Seitz, George Free and Jacob Bretz became citizens of this township.
John Seitz passed through this county during the late war, in company
with twenty others, with wagons loaded with clothing for the soldiers
at Fort Stephenson, where they arrived three weeks after the battle.

Harry Blackman, from Genesee county, New York, settled here in
Bloom, on a farm that became afterwards very familiarly known as
"Blackman's Corners." After residing here sixteen years, he removed
into Eden township, where his place was again called "Blackman's
Corners." The town that was afterwards laid out here by Dr. James
Fisher, and surveyed by James Durbin, in 1830, called Elizabethtown,
(after the name of the doctor's wife, Elizabeth, who was a daughter of
Dr. Boyer, of Tiffin), never flourished, and at this time there is no
trace of it left. At one time it had a blacksmith shop, a wagon shop,
some dwellings and a tavern.

William Anway, soon after the land sales at Delaware, in 182 1, came-
from the town of Scipio, in Cayuga county, New York, and settled in
what now constitutes Scipio township. This township was so named
at the request of Mr. Anway. He was the first settler in this neighbor-
hood. Mr. Timothy P. Roberts came in 1824, and erected the first
frame dwelling house in the county, in which he resided to the time of
his death.

William Anway built a log house at the corners where the South
Tiffin road and the Marion State road cross each other. The spot
where the house stood is now covered with a circle of evergreens that
were planted there in memory of the Anway family.


Moses Smith put up a small frame building across the road from
Anway's house, in which he kept a store for awhile. Robert Dutton
was the first man that died in the township, and was buried on his farm,
which is now owned by Frederick Fox. William Pierce, a colored
man, put up and carried on the first blacksmith shop in the township.
Mary, daughter of John Anway, was the first child that was born in
the township. She is the wife of Mr. John Wilcox, of Republic. A
Mr. Langley was also among the first settlers.

These names, with a few others, made up the white population of
Seneca county to about the time of the land sales.

This Col. Kilbourn, the surveyor above spoken of, was a man about
five feet eight inches high; he had a nose somewhat Roman shaped.
In 1843, he was bald and gray; he had blue eyes, prominent features
and expressive countenance. He was a great talker, and very inter-
esting in conversation. He lived in Columbus, where he associated
with the best society, and was highly esteemed. He was a great singer,
and often produced his own poetry, adapted to some familiar tune.
The widow of one of his sons became the wife of Mr. Reber, a lawyer
in Sandusky City. This son was a phrenologist of some note, in

Honey creek is the largest affluent of the Sandusky river at its right
bank. It rises near New Haven, in Huron county, in the marshes, and
near the point where Richland, Huron, Crawford and Seneca counties
corner. It enters Venice township immediately after it leaves the
marshes, and taking a northwesterly direction through Venice, it enters
Bloom near its northeast corner. Then, taking a westerly direction
through Bloom, it flows into Eden township, and making a large curve
in Eden, it cuts across the southwest corner of Clinton and enters
Hopewell in section thirty-six, and there the Sandusky river at the
right bank.

To people who were born and raised along this stream, and to those
who have lived here a long time, the present beauty and scenery, the
splendid farms in high state of cultivation, the beautiful farm houses,
large barns, and every improvement calculated to add to the comfort
and enjoyment of life, may have very little attraction; but to people
from abroad, strangers that visit this valley, there is not in all this
northwestern Ohio anything equal to it.

There is an excellent spring near the left bank of Honey creek, about
sixty rods below Roller's mill, in section nine. Bloom township.
.\liout one hundred and fifty yards from this spring, and in a direction
v.vst of south, the early settlers found ruins of ancient fortifications of


very singular construction and workmanship. There was nothing about
the works that would indicate the Indian, and the fort must have
belonged to a people who preceded the Indians, and of whom the
Indians themselves had no knowledge. The work was constructed of
stone, some of which were dressed. The main buildings were in a
circular form, about one hundred feet in diameter. At the side towards
Honey creek there was attached to each of these circular walls a stone
appendage of about twelve feet square, with an opening towards the
spring. There was a space of about three hundred yards between these
circular walls. Both buildings seemed to have been alike. As late as
1838, the walls were about five feet high, but crumbling down.

There was no sign of any mortar having been used in the erection
of the buildings, and yet it seemed that the stones had once been held
together by some cement, from the manner in which they rested upon
each other. The stones had fallen down on both sides of the wall, and
the piles on each side were as high as the wall itself.


The father of Richard Jaqua was a citizen of the state of Connecticut.
.Soon after the revolutionary war the family moved into Columbia
county, in the state of New York, where, on the 9th day of April, 1787,
Richard jaqua was born. Some time thereafter the family moved to
Canada West, and settled near Brockville.

On the 9th day of October, Richard Jaqua was married to Elizabeth
Wilsee, a young Canadienne. When the war between England and the
United States broke out, Jaqua was the owner of two hundred acres of
land, and considerable personal property.

When he was drafted as a soldier to join the British army, his Amer-
ican pride was stronger than the laws of Canada, and he at once
determined that he would not take up arms against his native land,
and that he would make his escape to it at the first opportunity. Soon
after the draft, and on the last day of the year 1812, he and nine others
crossed the St. Lawrence, about forty miles below Kingston.

One of these others was his friend, Ezra Brown, who, also, afterwards
became one of the first settlers of Seneca county. Jaqua carried a
small feather-bed and bed-clothes, and Brown carried the clothing for
both. When the party arrived on American soil, they traveled on foot
through the snow, and reached an American picket-fort late in the
night. The next morning the whole party of run-aways were sent,
under guard, to Ogdensburgh, in the state of New York, where Major


Forsythe was in command. The Major examined each man separately,
and being fully satisfied of the truth of their statements, gave each
man a pass.

Jaqua then went over to his native county of Columbia, and on the
3d day of April, 1813, started back for Ogdensburgh. On his way he
met his friend Brown at Morristown, New York. They were both
experienced in the use of small boats, and intimately acquainted with
the dangerous places in the channel of the St. Lawrence. Here they
came to the conclusion that they would help other deserters to get
over to the American side, and for that purpose procured a craft, by
the means of which they helped a goodly number of the fugitives to
get across the river to the American side.

This sort of employment was exceedingly dangerous, inasmuch as
no crafts of any sort were allowed to touch the Canadian shore; yet
these friends followed up this work during all the summer and fall of
1813. The Canadian authorities became fully informed of these
operations, and sent a squad of men to a small island opposite Gibway
Point, with instructions to capture both Jaqua and Brown as they were
passing to and fro.

One night Jaqua, Brown, Patterson, and five others crossed over to
Gibway Point and secreted themselves until morning. Patterson
walked along the beach to attract the attention of the guard. Imme-
diately three men were seen putting out from the island in a punt-boat,
and landing on Gibway Point, pulled their boat on shore, and then
made for Patterson. These men and Patterson, getting into sharp
conversation, Patterson receded from the British and the shore, and
when they were far enough away to be considered safe, Jaqua, Brown,
and the other men, who were secreted with them, jumped up, and with
cocked guns and the help of Patterson, took the men prisoners and
handed them over to a militia captain at Rawsee. This captain
detailed a guard, consisting of Sergeant Whipple, Jaqua, Brown, and
several others, to take the prisoners to Sackett's Harbor, which they did.

In the fall of the same year, 18] 3, the American army, under Gen.
Wilkerson, was in camp on the American side of the St. Lawrence, a
short distance below Gravelly Point. Gen. Hamlin, with his troops,
was also stationed at a point on the same side called French Mills.
Hamlin was very anxious to have Wilkerson, with his men, join him,
but to bring this about, it would require a long and tedious march by
land, or to embark the whole force in boats and proceed down the St.
Lawrence, through the Thousand Isles, which, all knew, was a dangerous


Hamlin sent two messengers with his orders for Wilkerson, and when
these arrived at Morristown, where Jaqua and Brown then were, one •
of the messengers was taken sick, and became unable to proceed
further. The other messenger employed Jaqua and Brown to take him
to Gen. Wilkerson's headquarters. They took the punt-boat, and,
traveling by night only, they reached Gen. Wilkerson's camp in two
weeks after they left Morristown. In a few days thereafter, Brown and
Jaqua were engaged by Gen. Wilkerson to pilot him and his forces
down the river to Gen. Hamlin, through the Thousand Isles. Jaqua
and Brown, with their punt-boat and a flag, took the lead, and the
fleet, with Gen. Wilkerson and his forces, passed safely through the
Thousand Isles, and reached a point about four miles above Fort
Prescott, called Hog Point, where they landed. Here the army
remained a few days, and then crossed the river into Canada. For
about four weeks thereafter, Jaqua and Brown were constantly busy
piloting parties down the river. For fear of trouble from the Canadian
authorities, Mr. Jaqua kept his name, and the fact that he was drafted
in Canada, a profound secret during all the time he was associated with
the movements of the American troops along the St. Lawrence.

On the 14th day of May, 1814, Mr. Jaqua enrolled his name as a
private in a company of minute men under Capt. Ellis, at Houndsfield,
about five miles above Sackett's Harbor. During his service in that
company, one Wolsey was in charge of a fleet of small boats loaded
with stores belonging to the United States, and vessels then in process
of construction. When the company arrived at a point off Big Sandy
creek, near Sackett's Harbor, they were noticed by the British fleet,
and Wolsey, to save his fleet, ran it into the mouth of Big Sandy. The
bar at the mouth of the creek prevented the British vessels from passing
in. Thereupon the British immediately embarked in small boats, and
followed Wolsey. The alarm was given to the minute men, who
arrived very soon at the scene, and, joining with a company already
there on duty, gave the British battle. After a sharp fight for a short
time, the British retreated, leaving ninety-six of their men dead on the
field. Mr. Jaqua succeeded in having his family brought across in the
fall of 1813, and now joined them. In 1815 he was engaged in hauling
timber and lumber to Sackett's Harbor, where some seventy-four
vessels were being built.

He moved to the western part of the state of New York, where he
lived six years, and then moved to this county, in 1822, and settled in
Eden township, where he lived to the time of his death. His friend
Brown had preceded him as a pioneer to this county.


Colonel Jaqua, as he was familiarly called, received neither com-
pensation nor pension from the government for all his valuable services,
until 1872. His property in Canada was all confiscated by the British
authorities. Upon his petition to Congress, the Hon. C. Foster
representing this district in Washington, Congress generously acknowl-
edged and recognized Mr. Jaqua's merits, and granted him a pension,
by special act, that tended very materially to gladden the few remaining
years of the Colonel's life.

Col. Jaqua was a little more than six feet high, and well proportioned.
He was blessed with an iron constitution, and great force of character.
In his boyhood days his chances for education were not very good;
but whatever he lacked in book-learning, he made up by his sound
sense and clear judgment. In stature and personal appearance, in
his movements and tone of voice, he resembled Josiah Hedges, the
proprietor of Tiffin, very much. He had a noble bearing, an open,
frank, but sincere countenance; heavy lower jaw, clenched lips, dark
eyes, nose not very large and a little of the Roman shape, and a fine
forehead. His very looks would say: "I'll do as I agree, sir." He
took a very active part in public affairs in Seneca county, and contrib-
uted largely to the development of her resources, having lived here
more than half a century. He was social in his nature, hospitable,
generous, kind. He was a good neighbor, a good citizen, a good
husband and father, and, above all, an honest man. He died, without
a struggle, in peace with God and mankind, on the 26th of September,
1878, aged ninety-one years, five months and seventeen days. His
wife had preceded him to the other world on the 7th of May, 1877,
aged eighty-six years, seven months and four days. This venerable
couple lived in happy wedlock nearly seventy years — more than two
generations of time. The Colonel was buried with the plain, but
impressive ritual of Masonry, having been an honored member of the
order during the greater part of his life. Reqiiicsce in pace.



HITHERTO, the cabins of the early settlers were near the forts
of Seneca and Ball, with a few scattered along Rocky creek,
Honey creek, Silver creek and in Thompson. The " Black Swamp "

Online LibraryWilliam LangHistory of Seneca county, from the close of the revolutionary war to July, 1880 : embracing many personal sketches of pioneers, anecdotes, and faithful descriptions of events pertaining to the organization of the county and its progress → online text (page 17 of 72)