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

. (page 6 of 72)
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 6 of 72)
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campaign of 1840, will also remember how hard the Democrats tried
to prove that Col. Johnson himself killed Tecumseh, and how equally
hard the AVhigs tried to prove that it was not true. The cjuestion is
still an unsettled one. Mr.» Abbott, in his history of ( )hio, proves the


Utter falsity of the assertion that Johnson killed Tecumseh, while Mr.
Knapp, in his history of the .Maumee \'alle)', is so well convinced of
the fact that he proves it, even by affida\its, beyond all question of





RECURRING again to the incidents of the battle of lake Erie,
the author hopjes that a description of subsequent events, inaug-
urated to erect a suitable monument to the memory of Commodore
Perry and his braves, on Put-in-Bay, may not be considered out of
jjlace here. Fearing that the occurrences I am about to describe may
become lost to history, and conscious of the fact that the reader will
find, in the addresses of the Hon. Elutherus Cook and Dr. Parsons,
the best description of that eventful scene, I have no apology for giving
them a place in these pages, and especially because certain citizens
from Seneca county took a very active part in the movement.

An effort was put on foot amongst very many distinguished and
patriotic men, in a number of counties bordering on lake Erie, to erect
a monument on Gibraltar rock, Put-in-Bay, to the memory of Commo-
dore Perry.

In the year 1852, five companies of the Ohio volunteer militia
decided to celebrate the anniversary of American Independence by
holding a three days' encampment on the renowned and beautiful
islantl of Put-in-Bay.

The following finely equipped and disciplined companies assembled
on the island on the evening of July 3, 1852:

Hay City Guards, Capt. R. R. McMeens, of Sandusky.

Sandusky Va5gers, Capt. Louis Traub, of Sandusky.

Sandusky Artillery, Capt. L. A. Silva, of Sandusky.

Washington Guards, Capt. William Lang, of Tiffin.

Tiffin Artillery, Capt. T. H. Bagley, of Tiffin.

Capt. McMeens was chosen commander for the occasion. The
weather was delightful. The green and rocky fringe around the bay;
the broad, blue lake; the presence of a host of happy men, women
and children; the imposing martial appearance and strict discipline of
the military; "the army" passing in grand review before Gen. Isaac A.


Mills, and his aid, Col. A. A. Camp, and the eloquent sermon delivered
by the Rev. E. R. Jewett made that Fourth of July Sunday on Put-in-
Bay a fixture in the memory of all who were there.

This was the first military celebration ever held on the island. In
the evening of the third day, when the camp was about to break up,
the tents being struck and everything packed to get on board, the
artillery under Capt. Bagley, were firing their farewell- gun. As the
last shot was being fired, and Frederick Roller was "sending home"
the last cartridge, it exploded and threw Mr. Roller a great distance.
He fell near the edge of the water, being badly burnt in the face, losing
one eye and having a crippled hand for life. He, however, gradually
recovered, and is still amongst the living. This sad occurrence was
the only circumstance that marred the pleasures of that ever-memorable
Fourth of July celebration.

During the first trip of the steamer Arrow from Sandusky to the
island, a preliminary meeting was held on board for the purpose of
organizing a monumental association, and with a view of erecting, at
some suitable place on the island, a monument to the memory of Com-
modore Perry.

The Rev. Dr. Bronson was chosen chairman, and Mr. Henry D.
Cooke secretary. On motion of Pitt Cooke a committee of five was
appointed to draft resolutions expressive of the sense of the meeting
in reference to the erection of a "monument on Gibraltar rock, Put-
in-Bay, commemorative of Perry's victory on lake Erie, and in honor
of the dead who fell in that memorable engagement."

Messrs. 1 A. Camp, W. F. Stone, Wm. S. Mills, H. D. Cooke and
Rev. W. Pitkin, were appointed such committee. Mr. Stone was
appointed to lay the proceedings of the meeting and the resolutions
before the assembled crowd at Put-in-Ray.

When, on Monday afternoon, the masses assembled, the proceedings
and resolutions of the preliminary meeting were approved, and a com-
mittee appointed to draft a constitution for the organization. Rev.
lewett in the chair. The committee having withdrawn, returned and
"reported a short constitution. It provided that any person paying one
dollar to the treasurer should thereby become a member. A board of
managers was appointed, and an executive committee.

(ien. Lewis Cass was chosen President.

Col. J. J. Abert, U. S. Topographical Engineer, Washington City:
Hon. Elisha Whittlesey, Commodore R. F. Stockton, Gen. Cadwalader,
Philadelphia; Hon. Reuben Wood, Ohio; Mayor John G. Camp, San-
dusky; Capt. Stephen Chamberlain, Buffalo; J. A. Harris, Cleveland,


and Judge Burnett, of Cincinnati, were appointed vice-presidents. iM>
lamented tViend Dr. R. R. McMeens was secretary, and took a very
active part in the movement. Some funds were collected, and so the
matter rested until 1858, when the executive committee, consisting ol
K. Cook. Wm. S. Pierson, F. S. Thorpe, J. A. Camp and R. R. McMeens
issued a card dated Sandusky, Ohio, September i, 1858, calling a mass
meeting for the loth of September, 1858, to renew the proceedings
instituted on the 4th of July, 1852. "This was the most glorious and
thrilling spectacle witnessed on lake Erie since the da\' ot Perry's
victory. The cities and towns along the shores of the lake poured out
large delegations of people. The bay itself presented a most grand
and glorious pageant, crowded with, a fleet of magnificent steamers,
sail vessels and yachts, all decorated \N'ith gaily colored banners,
streamers and pendants, while a battery of fourteen brass cannon
waked the echoes of old Erie with a welcome that made the old rocks
of Gibraltar tremble with their reverberation," says Dr. McMeens.

Some of Perry's old veterans were there, old men who had heard
the firing during the battle, statesmen, soldiers, women, children — all
animated and inspired with the soul-stirring scene.

Ten steamers, three _\-achts, and twent}- other sailing \essels anchored
in the bay.

Eight thousand people gathered in groups about the shore,
(ioxernor Chase was chosen president of the day. A number ol
vice-presidents and secretaries were appointed; also, a committee on
exercises. Gen. J. W. Fitch, of C'leveland, (now [,ieutenant-(rOvernor)
was marshal of the day. Mr. Elutherus Cooke, of Sandusky, delivered
the oration. t

Four of the sur\i\ors of the battle were present: (Captain Stephen
Champlin, who fired the first and last gun in the conflict; William Blair,
of Lexington, Richland countv, Ohio; Thomas Brownell, of Newport.
Rhode Island, who was second in command of the schooner .Ariel, and
Dr. Usher I^irsons, of Pro\-idence, R. I., the surgeon of the flag-ship
Lawrence at the time of the battle, were introduced to the vast assem-
blage in the order named, and were greeted with wild applause. They
each made short speeches, expressing their gratitude for their kind
reception, and Dr. Parsons ga\e a highly interesting description of the
battle, the treatment of the wounded, and incidents of the surrender
of the enejuy. It is a pity that the odes, poems and songs that were
read and sung can not find room here. ( )ne — only one of these gems
— must not be o\erlooked, however. It is the production of my old,
lamented friend. Dr. R. R. McMeens. the secretar\' of the monumental



association, whose friendship is cherished still, though he has long since
passed away. A short sketch of the life of the doctor will be found in


Bv R. R. McMeens, M. D.

Tilt' Isliuuls of Erie amiyed in full dress,
Ennihe the lake scene with strange lovehness.
As gorgeously decked in bright verdure they lie.
In the soft mellow haze of the still autumn sky.
No more brilliant gems, though lauded they lie.
Ever gleamed 'mid the groups of the old Grec'ian spa.
They circle the storm-brewing gates of the west
T(i soothe the "mad spirit" of Erie to rest.
And lend their slight forms to the rage of the sea
To shelter the storm-tossed in succoring lee ;
Or, like sentinels, seem to be pointing the way
To the harboring arms of bold "Put-in-Bay.''

When the winds breathless sleep in their cuAerns nf ])eai'e.

How sylph-like they sit on the lake's lucent face.

Or mirrored in beauty on crimson dyed wave

When the sun silent sinks in her gold-tuited grave.

And the purple horizon depends as a shroud.

Of a tapestried mantle, in folds of ri(di cloud.

Theji deep'ning so gently upon the pale glow.

So sombre and sad, scarcely seeming to know

When the last flitting ray of fading twilight

Merges in darkness and death gloom of night.

Oh! Islands of Erie, how many a scene
Of shipwreck and battle around you have been !
How many a gallant young hero went down
When Perry and sailors won glorious renown !
You stand as proud monuments over the dead.
Who sleep at your feet in theii- coffinless bed.
While the winds shriek or whisper a re(|uiem sigli.
And the waves join in murmuring a fond lullaby.
And the mariner, gliding along by your .side.
Recounts all their deeds with emotions of pi-ide.

Oh ! Islands of beauty, on Erie's broad breast
That smile in the sunshine like havens t)f rest :
Or when the storm-god in his w^i-ath wildly j-a
Like "sisters" of mercy haTig over the waves.
E'er bloom in your freshness as lovely as now
To enra)iture the eye and make the heart ghm



(.loYernor Chase, the chairman, opened the meeting \vith a few brief
remarks of welcome. Thereupon, Mr. W. S. Pierson, chairman of the
committee, reported the following list of permanent officers of the
association, y\/.:

President — Hon. Lewis Cass, of ^lichigan.

Vice-Presidents — Hon. Isaac Toucey. of Connecticut; Dr. Usher
Parsons, of Rhode Island; Sidney Brooks, of Rhode Island; Thomas
Brownell, U. S. N.; Gov. Elisha Dyer, Rhode Island; Wm. Wetmore,
l-!!sq., Rhode Island: Hon. Edward Kverett, Massachusetts; Hon. \\'.
H. Seward, New York; August Belmont, P>sq., New York; Hon. Millard
Fillmore, New York; Capt. Stephen Champlin, New York; Gov. ^V. F.
Packer, Penn^\l\ania: ^V'm. G. Moorehead, Esq., Penns\ hania; Gov.
S. P. Chase, Ohio; S. Starkweather, Cle\eland, Ohio; IMutherus Cook,
Sandusky, Ohio; L. Collins, Toledo, Ohio; Ross \\'ilkins, Detroit,
Michigan; John ( )wen, Detroit, Michigan; Col. Todd, Kentucky; Col.
John (J'Fallon, St. Louis, Mo.; J. Y. Scammer, P^sq., Chicago, Illinois;
Plon. fohn ^Ventworth, Chicago, Illinois; Capt. J. P. McKinstry, U. S.
.\.. Commodore Jos. I.anman, U. S. N.; Lieut. -Cien. Winfield Scott,
U. S. A.

C)n motion, Wm. S. Pierson, of Sandusky, was chosen treasurer, and
Dr. R. R. McMeens, of Sandusky, corresponding secretary.

A committee of management was then also appointed. The following
letters were then read by Mr. Pierson:

AVashinoton City, Sept. G, isrj.s.

Deak Sik: — Yiuu- invitation to me, to form one of tlie numerous assem-
lilai?e which will meet at l^ut-in-Bay on the lOtli inst., has just been received,
an, I, while I thank you for remembering me in connection with that
iut resting occasion, I regret tlutt it will be out of my power to avail myself
of your kindness, as I shall tie necessarily detained liere by my puhilic duties.
But though absent, I shall not the less pai-ticipate in the feelings of gratitude
aihl exultation which the event, you propose to commemorate, is so well
i-alculateil to inspire in every American breast. Tlie victory of Perry upon
Lake Erie, not far from the place of your convocation, on the 10th of
S-ptember, ISl:!. was one of the most glorious, as well as one of the most
important achievements recorded in our military annals.

I was with the army, then encamped in your region of country duriiiy-
tliat hard-fonght battle, where we were all awaiting, with anxicuis solicitude,
the (jperatious of the tleets, as the command of the lake was essential to our
movements, ami now. after the elapse of almost half a century, it wouhl
rejoice me to hear my fellow citizens to recall and i-ecount the glories of that
memorable day, "mid the scenes where they were gained, and winch they
will ever illustrate. It is good for the American people to asseniljle togethei-
in the time of their strength to commemorate the deeds of patriotism and
valor which, in the time of their weakness, enabled our country to pass


safely through the trials to which she was exposed. Such a tribute of

departed worth is tlie object of the proposed convocation, and I beg leave

to express my deep sympathy with the feelings which have prompted it.

With much regard I am, dear sir,

Yoiirs truly,

,, „„-,,. LEWIS CASS.

Dr. R. R. Mc^Ikens.

Navy Department, Sept. G, 18-')S.
Dear Sir:— I have tlie honor to acknowledge the invitation through you,
of the executive committee, to be present on the 10th inst. , at the inauguration
of layhig of the corner stone of a monument to be erected on (;il)raltar
Rock, Put-in-Bay Island, in commemoration of Perry's victory.

I regret to state that my engagements will deprive me of tlie pleasure of
participating with you on the interesting occasion.
I am with much respect

Your obedient servant.

R. R. McMekns, M. D.

PoKTS.MOUTH, Va., Sept. 3, LS-^jy.

My Dear Sir : — I have received your esteemed favor of the iJYth ult.,
reiiuesting my presence and participation in the ceremonies at tlie contem-
plated inauguration of the monument on Gibraltar Rock, in commemoration
of our glorious naval triumph under the gallant Perry on the 10th September,

As one of the live surviving officers whose fortune it was. togetlier witli
our brave tars, to be present on tliat glorious occasion, I thank you for your
kind remembrance of me.

I regret that present indisposition precludes tlie pleasure of being with
you, to join you in doing honor to whom honor is due— the lirave dead— and
renders imprudent at this time an absence from home.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

H. N . PAGE,
R. R. McMeens, M. D. Captain U. S. Navy.

Cincinnati. O.. Sept. 9. 1S.5S.
L'sHER Parsons, M. D.:

My Dear Doctor:— Yours of the 1st inst. arrived before my retui-n from
tlie "Yellow Springs,"' which afforded me no little pleasure to hear you
intend to be at the glorious celebration at Put-iii-llay. I am denied the
pleasure of participating with you in consequence of sickness. I coiitidently
Hattered myself, twelve days ago, I would be enabled to l)e present and unite
with the few survivors in celebrating the most brilliant acliievenient of tlie
memorable battle of Lake Erie, on the 10th of September, 181.^, in whicli
battle I was. Shortly after Col. Croghan's victory wliere I was on tlie
morning after the British made good their retreat, I viilunteered at Camp
Seneca, and was lead by Gen. Wm. Henry Harrison to Perry's fleet.

I pray the good people who have been instrumental in promoting the
celebration may continue it annually for all time to come.


>[ay tlie blessing of Heaven guide and preserve all who attend the celebra-
tion, truly and sincerely is my prayer.

Most sincerely yonr friend,


New YdHK, August :2s. ]8o8.


My- Deak Sir:— In answer to your favor of the 21st ult., on the suliject of
the erection of a nionianent on the little Island of Gibraltar, I have to say:
That if said monument he to the memory of Commodore Perry, as I suppose
it is. 1 will be too happy to contribute to it, not only by the free gift of the
laud recpiisite. but liy procuring s\ibscriptions in ^ew Vork and one or two
other places, which I think I can do. I accordingly hereby i-onfer upon you
and my friend. Simon Fox. power to grant a sutHcient pail of said Island of
(xibraltar, in perpetuity, for tlie erection of said monument, with such
reser\'ation as you ma\" deem necessary to pre^'ent any sort of injury to my
l)roperty in the group of islands. It would please me if I and my successors
after me were appointed keejiers of the gi-ound ceded, and of the monument.

Respectfully yours.

RIVFRA ST. .rA(40.

After the reading of these letters, (lov. Chase introduced Hon. K.
Cooke, of Sandusky, who spoke as follows:

l^ii(Jir.'<. (ti alleiiii 11. Frll<iir-< '(inntri/iiirn:

1 I'ise as the organ of the executive committee to bid you welcome to these
classic sliores. immortalized liy .Vmerican valor and I'ich in the associations
of a nation's gloi-y. But how can I find language suita))ly to express my
congratidations of the assembled thousands who surround me, and whose
presence this day gives the lie to the reproach that "'Reptdilics know not
how to be gi-atefuiy If I could hojie to be heard by an audieiice .so
immense. I would thank you in the name of our common country for having
come up in such Aast numliers from the beautifid cities of the lake ami the
interior, to this piitriotic cousecration. Ikit with a voice im])aii-ed b\ the
wasting jiower of many years. I lioi)e to say but little else than to offer 11 ji
my fervent thanksgiving to Almighty (tud for those evidences of eutliusj-
astic gratitude and patriotic devotion which the occasion lias inspired, and
which your iiivsence this day procliiims.

We have met to c-ommem<irate one of those rare and .signal exents. which,
considering the vast interest it in\iil\ed. the glory it achieved and the
lienefits c(Uiferred, has few parallels in history. We .shall find it difficult,
lioweve)-. justly to appreciate the importance of Pen-y"s vict(n-y, without
calling to mind, for a moment, the jieculiar condition of oiir country which
preceded and followed its achievements. A sanguinary war had for more
tlian a \ear lieeii raging lietween (Treat Tiritain and the fJuited States. How
it was sustained on the land and on the ocean, history has recorded. Jt
must lie admitted. ho\ve\er. that its commencement on the Niagara and in
the north-west was (diaracterized by defeat, disasterand disgrace. Whetlier
the inglorious surrender of the fortress of Detroit and the conseijuent
uncontrolled possession of the vast north-western territoi-y by the enemy,
were chargeable t^i treachery orcowardii'e. it is not now necessary to incpiire.


Tlie event smote the heart of the nation with dismay and (-overed tlie whole
land with conscious humiliation. Our whole vast frontier, from Buffalo to
Arkansas, was at once thrown open to the stroke of the tomahawk, and
exposed bare and defenseless to the merciless incursions of the savage foe
Tlie authority and protection of the United States had ceased within its
borders. The course of the enemy, leagued with tlieir savage ally, was
everywhere marked with rapine, massacre and devastation. The heart-
rending and bloody traged>- of the rivei- Rasin, and other doomed localities,
followed in siu'cession. Consternation and alarm everywhere prevailed.
Thousands -'without distinction of age or sex'' were expelled from their
peaceful abodes by the invading foe, and the face of Heaven was insulted
by the murder of men, women and childien.aud by the wanton couHagration
of defenceless cabins and villages. The flower and chivalry of the land were
i-ut off in their glory, and tlieir bones whitened the fare of the wilderness.
Deeds of cruelty and luiutterable horror were enacted, which lilled the whole
hind with lamentation and wrung drops of agony from tlie iieart of the
nation. A dark cloud hung over our devoted coxuitry. throwing down from
its frowning armoiy the paleness of death upon her cheek, and its colduess
upon lier bosom. True the assaults upon the defences of Harrison and
Ci-oghan on the .Maumee and Sandusky had been gallantly and glorioush'
expelled, but these exploits, brilliant as they were, availed little to the relief
()f the frontiers, while the entire possession of the lake, by a well-manned
Heet of veterans, remained in the undisputed contiiil of the foe, with powei-
to descend at any moment with their combined forces upon any portion of
our exposed frontier. The crisis demanded action, vigorous action, com-
bined with valor and talent to direct it. The command of the lake had
l)ecome to us indispensable, tn view of this, tlie creation of an Amei'ican
Heet, the timber foi' which was then growing in the ^^■ilderlless, was ordei'ed
by our government, as well for the imrposes of protection as inx-asion. In
March, LSI:!, the charge of its construction and command was assigned to
Oliver M. Ferry, of Rliode Island, who. in spite of almost superhuman
obstacles and difficulties, in less than three months completed his woi-k and
launched his vessels at the harbor of Erie. But although he frec]uentl\
sought to engage the enemy he was unable to bring them into action until
the evei'-memorable and ever-glorious da\' we meet to commemorate.

Of the battle and its tlirilling incidents I have no time to speak. 1 iuii
not here with a tongue of tire to relight and emblazon the splendors of the
achievement. That office must be left for a more chdxirate iiddi'ess, and t(>
others better litted foi- the task. And 1 rejoice to say that some of its
louching details will lie given you to-da\-, in bui-ning words, from ,1 living-
and hon(n-ed actor in the scene. On tliis iKiint. theiefore, 1 need only add.
that although lietween single ships on tlie ocean, the trial had been before
signally giorioiis to our flag, yet this was the first American s(iiiadron that
ever made liattle with an enemy, and this "was the first English Heet. since
England had a navy, that ever had been captured." And if any thing-
further were wanting to heighten the brilliancy and achievement, it may lie
found in the fact that our fleet was inadequately and uneijually provided
with men and cannon — manned mostly by raw recruits nninured to battle,
and commanded by young men without experience in naval warfare. While


•on the other hand, that of the British was fully armed— furnished with men
who had encountered many conflicts on the ocean, and commanded hy the
experienced and veteran Commander Barclay, who had won rich laurels
under Nelson, at the immortal battle of Trafalgar.

Such was the tremendous contrast between the opposing forces. Shut
now the vohmie that records the event, and tell me, thou man of naval and
military science, upon what principle of liuman probability can the triumph
i)t our arms, in a conflict so unequal, be predictedV

The contrast was great, but to the dauntless Perr> by no means appalling.
After the line of battle had been set and all was made ready, an hour — a
silent hour— was occupied in advancing to the conflict; an hour in which
the lives of the siiuadroii. tlie fate of the nortli-west and the honor of the
nation were suspended upon the talents and collected valor of one man.
How appalling the responsibility! IIow terrible the probation! How vast
the interest involved! How intense tlie gaze of millions upon the issue!
At .sui-li a moment, men of the present generation, picture to yourselves the
solemn spectacle, the sublime pageantry of two hostile armies watching the
movements from the opposite slioi'es of the lake; of defenceless thousands
throughout the unprotected region of the north-west, wliose lives and homes
were at stake; yea. of millions of two great nations, wliose final triumph
hung upon the issue— all, all awaiting with breathless anxiety, the result of
the conflict, and tell me if it was not an hour in which the stoutest heart of
tlie hero, charged with such a l)attle, might have .justly trembled. Yet the
heroic Perry remained unagitated, unshaken and invincible. He liad no
fear but for the safety and honor of his country; no ambiti(m but to conquer
or die in her defence.

A (luarter before 12 o'clock the solemn suspense was broken and tlie
conflict began. At :-> o'clock the battle ended. Its thunders wei'e hushed.

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 6 of 72)