EXCITING EVENTS OF 1812
In this third decade of the twentieth century it is difficult for us to realize the condition of North Central
Ohio at the time of the War of 1812. Mansfield was a rude hamlet on the frontier. Indians were numerous and though
the Indians along the Blackfork and Jeromefork appeared to be friendly it was known that the British were trying
to influence them as well as all the other Ohio tribes of Indians to become active allies of Britain.
An emissary of Tecumseh had visited chief Armstrong at Greentown and Captain Pipe at Jerometown insisting that
they use every effort to induce the tribes to join the British. The late Daniel Carter, Jr., father in law of the
late United States Senator William B. Allison of Iowa, was not yet ten years old when on Feb. 12, 1812, he came
with his father's family and settled in the wilderness a mile northeast of where Uniontown, now Ashland, was laid
out a little over three years later. He was probably the only surviving pioneer of the Jeromefork, when more than
fifty five years ago he wrote reminiscences of the days of 1812 in the present Ashland County.
"I was just the age for these events to make a deep and lasting impression on my memory," said Pioneer
Carter. "My father's place was six miles beyond the then frontier settler. In the spring of 1812 Benjamin
Cuppy, Jacob Fry, Mrs. Sage and family, and Stephen Trickle moved into the neighborhood. All built cabins, cleared
land, planted corn and potatoes. The Indians from Greentown and Jerometown came to our house frequently. They were
always peaceable and friendly. Father and mother always treated them kindly, fed them when they were hungry, lodged
them as best they could and it had its effect when they made their raids on the frontier. When the emissary of
Tecumseh came to Greentowii and Jerometown and urged the tribes to become allied with the British, Pipe and Armstrong
decided to call a council to talk it over. The council was held and the Indians of both villages decided to remain
neutral. I had been sent to Odell's Mill with a sack of corn and the trail led through Jerometown. The Indians
were holding their war dance when I returned in the evening. They invited me to stay so I hitched my horse and
remained until the dance was over, then rode home nine miles through the wilderness arriving at our cabin about
two o'clock in the morning. This council at Jerometown was about the last of June, 1812. Where a tribe consented
to join the British the chief would be given a red stick in token of blood. Had there been no more done after the
Greentown and Jerometown Indians had decided to remain neutral, all would have been well, I believe. But after
Hull's surrender Aug. 16, 1812, the government thought best to remove them, not so much for fear of their making
trouble but to keep them from harboring unfriendly Indians.
"When Captain Douglas informed them that he came with orders to remove them, they were greatly excited and
refused to go. Captain Douglas called on Rev. James Copus to go with him and use his influence to obtain their
consent. When Captain Douglas found Copus was reluctant to urge the Indians to go against their will he threatened
to arrest Copus, who finally consented to go on condition that the Indians' villages and property should be respected.
On the strength of Copus' promise they decided to go but had not gone more than a couple of miles when from Mohawk
Hill they looked back and saw Greentown in flames, some of Douglas' soldier having applied the fatal torch. I am
of the opinion that if the Indians had been well treated and permitted to remain in their towns the Blackfork Valley
massacres would never have occurred nor the Newell, Cuppy and Fry cabins burned."
Among the North Central Ohio settlers who were soldiers in the War of 1812, were considerable number who had been
soldiers in the Revolutionary War. The graves of many of the Revolutionary soldiers buried in the seven counties
of North Central Ohio have been marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution and efforts are still being
made to locate and mark graves of other Revolutionary War soldiers. On the 18th of June, 1812, the same day that
the United States declared war on Great Britain, the capital city of Columbus, was laid out in an unbroken forest
across the river from Franklinton, a village of several hundred population which during the war was a rendezvous
of troops and a depot of supplies. Franklinton is now a part of Columbus.
"Mt. Vernon was a small collection of log houses within the thick forests when war was declared in 1812,"
says A. Banning Norton, Knox County historian. "The underbrush had not been fairly cleared from the few laid
out streets. Yet Mt. Vernon became the rendezvous for volunteers; two or more companies being raised in the vicinity.
Col. Samuel Kratzer, prominent man in the village and interested in the militia, was placed in command of militiamen
and he with his men marched to the defense of Mansfield. He came to Mt. Vernon early in 1805 as a tavern keeper.
He was a fine large man and wore buckskin breeches. He became major of the regiment of militia of which Alexander
Enos was colonel.
"Captain Joe Walker, who built the first cabin on what came to be platted as Mt. Vernon, having come from
Pennsylvania in 1804, had a part in the war. Major Jeremiah Munson of near Granville, who had been named to recruit
for the war, arrived in Mt. Vernon July 8, 1812, when the militia was to assemble for general muster. All of Captain
Walker's company, forty two men, volunteered. Capt. John Greer raised a company in the eastern part of Knox County
with Daniel Sapp as lieutenant and George Sapp, ensign. Not a few of the brave men of Knox went to the defense
of Ft. Meigs but the decisive battle was over before they got there."
It is said that when Governor Meigs in obedience to the call of President Madison for militiamen of the State of
Ohio, ordered the quotas furnished, volunteers were collected from every part of the state with a rapidity never
equalled in a new country. The President's requisition was in April; the troops rendezvoused at Dayton. Duncan
McArthur, who eighteen years later became Governor of Ohio, became colonel of the First Regiment; James Finley,
of the Second; and Lewis Cass, afterward Governor of Michigan, Secretary of War, United States Senator, Secretary
of State in Buchanan's Cabinet, became colonel of the Third Regiment. The troops were placed in command of Brig.
Gen. William Hull, a soldier of the Revolutionary War, and marched to Detroit, taking possession of the fort. When
on August 16th, General Hull surrendered the fort, together with 2,500 men, the same number of arms, fixed ammunition,
sixty barrels of powder, 150 tons of lead, twenty five pieces of iron ordnance, eight brass field pieces, besides
food supplies and 300 head of cattle, the act blasted the prospects of the campaign and opened the frontiers of
Ohio to savage invasion. And all this without the least resistance. No wonder the court martial held two years
later found Hull guilty of treason and sentenced him to be shot, but his Revolutionary record caused President
Madison to remit the sentence. Kentucky riflemen, under Col. R. M. Johnson, halted the tide of savage invasion
and General Harrison, having been placed in command of the army of the Northwest, marched to the relief of Ft.
Wayne from which the British and Indians fled at his approach.
Numerous blockhouses were erected by settlers in North Central Ohio. "They sprang up, like mushrooms, almost
in a single night," one writer has said. The two blockhouses on the Mansfield public square were erected by
Captain Shaeffer's company from Fairfield County and Captain Williams' company from Coshocton. A company commanded
by Captain Martin of Tuscarawas County was stationed at Beam's blockhouse southeast of Mansfield, on the Rocky
Fork. It was to Beam's blockhouse that terrified settlers of the Blackfork Valley fled after the Ruffner Zeimer
and Copus massacres in September, 1812. It was to Mansfield that Johnny Appleseed in a journey on foot to Mt. Vernon
and return, brought Colonel Kratzer and his troops to protect the settlers of the region. There were a number of
other blockhouses erected at this time and to which we will refer later.
At the time the War of 1812 broke out there were not over twelve families in the Mansfield settlement. The blockhouses
on the square were garrisoned until after the Battle of the Thames in Canada, Oct. 5, 1813, when Tecumseh was slain.
Late in 1812 troops on their way to the northwest camped on the square.
Two tribes of Ottawa Indians, who lived at the site of Sandusky, were among the tribes that did not become allies
of the British, though before the war began they joined some of their kinsfolk in Canada. Chief Ogontz, who had
been found by Catholic priests in the far north and taken to Quebec where he was educated for the priesthood, was
at first the spiritual advisor of these Ottawas but later became a tribal chief. He disliked the Canadian provincial
officers, was friendly to the Americans but believed that the Indians were foolish to take part in white people's
wars, so when he saw that war was inevitable he led the Sandusky Bay Indians to Canada to remain until the struggle
Facts seem to justify the belief of Daniel Carter, Jr., that the tragedies in the Blackfork Valley in September,
1812, would have been averted if the Jerometown and Greentown Indians, instead of being removed to the Piqua reservation,
had been permitted to remain in their villages. The burning of Greentown in violation of the promise that their
village and property would be protected until their return kindled their wrath against the whites and particularly
against Rev. James Copus whom they wrongfully blamed for bad faith. As so often happens innocent people suffered.
The scene of the Ruffner Zeimer massacre of Sept. 10, 1812, was on the Culler farm a mile and a half south of Mifflin.
Martin Ruffner, who lived a short distance northwest of the site of Mifflin and about two and a half miles north
of the Zeimer cabin, perished in a heroic attempt to save the lives of the aged Frederick Zeimer, his wife and
daughter, Kate. A party of the Indians who had been taken to Piqua, having obtained permission to go to Upper Sandusky,
made their way to the vicinity of Greentown. Ruffner having learned that five Indians had inquired of his helper,
young Levi Bargahiser, whether Ruffner was at home and where young Philip Zeimer was, suspected trouble and hurried
to the Zeimer cabin. Philip Zeimer departed to the Copus cabin for help. While he was gone the Indians attacked
Ruffner, who shot his foremost assailant, felled another with his clubbed rifle and struck at a third one but the
stock of his rifle hit a joist whereupon he was slain, removed from the cabin and scalped. The two old people and
their daughter, Kate were then killed. That evening after Philip Zeimer returned to the cabin with Rev. James Copus
and John Lambright, the Corpus family, Philip Zeimer, Lambright and other settlers of the region fled to Beam's
blockhouse from which, four days later, Copus, his wife and their seven children, with nine soldiers, returned
to the Copus cabin about a mile and a half south of the Zeimer home. Captain Martin with some other soldiers continued
search for the Indians and planned to be at the Copus home that night but failed to arrive until after the battle
the next day, September 15, when Rev. Copus and three soldiers, John Tedrick, George Shipley and William Warnock
were killed. From the wooded hill, east of the cabin, forty five Indians swooped down while some of the soldiers
were at the spring washing for breakfast, their guns left on the side of the cabin. Three soldiers were shot down,
another was wounded but reached the cabin door just as Rev. Copus fired at an Indian, fatally wounding him, but
was himself mortally wounded, dying an hour later. The remaining soldiers, with the aid of Henry and Wesley Copus,
aged ten and nine respectively, successfully defended the little group in the cabin in a siege of five hours. Giving
up the attack, the Indians made their way to the Newell, Cuppy and Fry cabins, which they found deserted, and burned.
The terror inspired by Hull's surrender was intensified by the tragedies in the Blackfork Valley and settlers fled
from their isolated cabins to the nearest blockhouse. Blockhouses in this region, in addition to those previously
mentioned, were James Loudon Priest's on the Lakefork, Fort Stidger at Wooster, and one on the site of Jeromesville.
Allen Oliver and Thomas Coulter in Green Township transformed their cabins into blockhouses, there was one on the
Warner farm west of Wooster and in various other places cabins were fortified against attack.
Settlements on the shores of Lake Erie, late in the summer of 1812, were alarmed when word came that British troops
had landed at Huron. The settlers at Ridgeville, on reaching Columbia, Lorain County, found that nearly all the
settlers had fled. They were greatly relieved a little later when Levi Bronson, returning from Cleveland, brought
the news that the people who had landed at Huron were American soldiers whom General Hull had surrendered to the
British at Detroit. Joining with the settlers at Columbia, residents of Middlebury and Eaton erected a blockhouse
a short distance south of Columbia. A company was organized to garrison it and Captain Hadley was in command.
In order to furnish protection to the border settlers of Richland and Wayne counties and to assist General Harrison
in repelling the British invasion, a brigade of soldiers was raised in the vicinity of New Lisbon (Lisbon), Canton
and Wooster under the direction of Reasin Beall, about 2,000 men being recruited. This work began the latter part
of September and early in October, General Beall with two regiments advanced from Canton to Wooster. Before this,
detached companies and parts of companies had been sent on ahead to guard settlers' blockhouses. At Wooster General
Beall's forces were augmented by several new companies.
In obedience to instructions from the United States War Department at Washington, to the governors of Pennsylvania
and Virginia, each to send 2,000 men to aid General Harrison further reinforcements were provided for. Brigadier
General Crooks, placed in command of the Pennsylvania troops, rendezvoused at Pittsburgh. With his army, he was
ordered to proceed as quickly as possible to Mansfield by way of New Lisbon, Canton and Wooster and remain at Mansfield
until the artillery and army stores should arrive. About the middle of October, 1812, Crooks' army started westward
and after encountering many difficulties by reason of bad roads, mere trails through the forest, reached Wooster
about three weeks after the departure of General Beall's troops from Wooster to the blockhouse on the site of Jeromesville.
The further progress of the Beall and Crooks expeditions will be narrated in the next chapter.
History of North Central Ohio
Embracing Richland, Ashland, Wayne,
Medina, Lorin, Huron and Knox Counties
BY: William A. Duff
Historical Publishing Company
North Central Ohio Biographies
Names A to C
Names D to G
Names H to K
Names L to P
Names Q to S
Names T to Z
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