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Western Pioneers chiefly Revolutionary characters.-Colony from New Eng
land in 1787.-Formed by Cutler, Sargent & Co.-Arrive at the Yoghigany in the fall of 1787. Encamped for the winter.-Reach Marietta in April 1788-Block-house erected.--A school and a church established.Gen. R. Putnam leader of the party. His character.-His appointment to office.-Poverty of Revolutionary officers drove them to emigrate.- Their sufferings.-Settlement under Major Stites, at Columbia.-Under Denman & Co. at Cincinnati.—Under Judge Symmes, at North Bend.-Losanteville, intended name of a town never laid out.-Troops sent by Gen. Harmar, to the Miami settlements.—Where stationed.—Their behavior.-Attacked by the Indians at North Bend.-Major Mills severely wounded.–Villages laid out.- Donation lots.--Interview of Symmes with the Indians. Settlement at Columbia plundered.-Captain Flinn taken prisoner.-Made his escape.-Comparative strength of the settlements at the Miamies.-Fort Washington built by Major Doughty.-Judicial Courts first established. Anterior arrangements for administering Justice.-Indian hostilities.-Complaints of Judge Symmes against Gen. Harmar for withholding protection-Temerity of the Pioneers and the Troops.
The early adventurers to the North-western Territory, were generally men who had spent the prime of their lives in the war of Independence. Many of them had exhausted their fortunes in maintaining the desperate struggle; and retired to the wilderness to conceal their poverty, and avoid companions mortifying to their pride, while struggling to maintain their families, and improve their condition. Some of them were young men, descended from revolutionary patriots, who had fallen in the contest, or become too feeble to endure the fatigue of settling a wilderness. Others were adventurous spirits, to whom any change might be for the better; and who, anticipating a successful result, united in the enterprise. Such a colony as this left New England in 1787, for the purpose of occupying the grant made to Sargent, Cutler & Company, on the Muskingum river; most of whom had served in the war of the Revolution, either as officers or soldiers. In their journey west they struck the Monongahela river, near the mouth of the Yoghigany, so late in the season, that it was deemed imprudent to descend the Ohio; they therefore encamped for the winter, and built a substantial row-galley, covered with a deck, which was an effectual protection against the rifles of the Indians, while on their passage down the river. After their arrival at the place of their destination, it was found to be of great use for the safe transportation of persons and property from place to place. The party landed at the mouth of the Muskingum, in April, 1788, with a good supply of provisions, and began their improvements.
Their first object was to erect a block-house and stockade, for defence; after which, they surveyed the town of Marietta, on the Ohio river, east of the Muskingum, and at the same time, village lots were laid out, west of that river, contiguous to Fort Harmar, then recently built, and garrisoned by United States' troops. Although many of those emigrants were men of distinction and energy, and subsequently filled the most important stations in the country, yet General Putnam, by common consent, seemed to be regarded as their principal chief and leader. He had been one of the veterans of the Revolution, and was much respected, as may be inferred from the many confidential appointments he received from government; chiefly on the nomination of President Washington. After his elevation to the bench, he was appointed a Brigadier General, in 1792. In the year following, he was commissioned to negotiate a treaty with the Indians, at Vincennes; in which he succeeded, and accomplished the object which the Government had in view, to their entire satisfaction.
In 1796 he was appointed Surveyor General, there being then but one office of that grade, in the United States. His residence was on the east side of the Muskingum, about half a mile from the Ohio, where he constructed a large block-house of logs, enclosed by heavy pickets. In that rough, but comfortable residence he received his friends, and whoever saw proper to call on him, and entertained them with the simplicity and hospitality of an ancient patriarch.
During the sitting of the general court in October, 1796, shortly before he resigned his seat on the bench, a party of thirty or forty, including the court and bar, dined at his table in his humble but spacious cabin—while the blockhouse and stockade were yet standing. He entertained the party with a simple but dignified deportment, altogether natural. It was without ostentation, but with much good sense, mingled with wit and pleasantry. He recited anecdotes of the Revolution, and of the Indian war, which had then just terminated; in the hazards of both of which, he had participated. Some of his recitals were of a serious and distressing character-others were repeated with such comments as rendered them interesting and amusing.
The individuals composing the Marietta colony were principally descendants of the Puritan fathers, who commenced the settlement of Massachusetts in the winter of 1620. They retained a portion of the good old customs and steady habits of their pilgrim ancestors; and also of their veneration for the institutions of religion, literature and morality. Hence it was, that, as soon as they had provided shelter for themselves and their families, they directed their attention to the organization of a church. A convenient place for public worship was provided, and a pastor procured. A school was also organized at the same time. These were the first institutions of the kind got up within the North-western Territory; and the inhabitants of the colony, without distinction, contributed, with great good will, to sustain them.
Nothing can better establish the fact, that the officers of the revolution were illy compensated for their services and sufferings, in the long and distressing struggle for national liberty, than the destitute, dependent condition in which they found themselves, at the close of the war. After having spent the most valuable period of their lives in the army-enduring every species of exposure, fatigue, and suffering — they were dismissed and sent to their homes, if they were so fortunate as to have any, with nothing but empty promises, which have never been realized — and most of them with broken or impaired constitutions. War had been their trade, and most of them were destitute of any other profession.
The certificates they received, as evidence of the sums due them from the country, were almost valueless. They were bought and sold in the market, at two shillings and sixpence for twenty shillings: and so late as 1788, they were worth only five shillings in the pound; at which ruinous rates those meritorious men were driven by necessity to sell them, or to starve. These circumstances are here introduced, chiefly to account for the fact, that a large proportion of the early adventurers to the western wilderness, had been officers or soldiers in the revolutionary war. They were honorable, high-minded men, whose feelings rebelled at the thought of living in poverty, among people of comparative wealth, for the protection of which, their own poverty had been incurred.
Under the influence of that noble feeling, hundreds of those brave men left their friends and sought retirement on the frontiers, where no invidious comparisons could be drawn between wealth and poverty, and where they became again involved in the hazardous conflicts of another
Though the writer cannot refer to any register of the names of the persons who composed the colony of the Ohio Company, yet the fact that a large proportion of them had
served in the war of independence will be corroborated by stating the names of Putnam, Sargent, Whipple, Tupper, Sproat, Oliver, Greene, Cutler, Parsons, Nye, and Meigs — being a portion of those of them whom he knew and still recollects. It is also a fact, leading to the same conclusion, that three-fourths of the persons who formed the Miami Company, and advanced the first instalment of the purchase money, had served in the revolutionary war.
Soon after the settlement was commenced at Marietta, three parties were formed to occupy and improve separate portions of Judge Symmes' purchase, between the Miami rivers. The first, led by Major Benjamin Stites, consisted of eighteen or twenty, who landed in November, 1788, at the mouth of the Little Miami river, within the limits of a tract of ten thousand acres, purchased by Major Stites, from Judge Symmes. They constructed a log fort, and laid out the town of Columbia, which soon became a promising village. Among them were Colonel Spencer, Major Gano, Judge Goforth, Francis Dunlavy, Major Kibbey, Reverend John Smith, Judge Foster, Colonel Brown, Mr. Hubbell, Captain Flinn, Jacob White, and John Riley.
They were all men of energy and enterprise, and were more numerous than either of the parties who commenced their settlements below them on the Ohio. Their village was also more flourishing, and for two or three years contained a larger number of inhabitants than any other in the Miami purchase. This superiority, however, did not continue, as will appear from the sequel.
The second party destined for the Miami, was formed at Limestone, under Matthias Denman and Robert Patterson, amounting to twelve or fifteen in number. After much difficulty and danger, caused by floating ice in the river, they landed on the north bank of the Ohio, opposite the mouth of Licking, on the 24th of December, 1788. Their purpose was to establish a station, and lay out a town according to a plan agreed on, before they left Limestone.