Exciting Events of 1812
North Central Ohio Biographies

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 was over.

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
Topeka-Indianapolis 1931

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