History of Belpre, Washington Co., Ohio
By C. E. Dickinson, D. D.
Formerly Pastor of Congregational Church
Author of the History of First Congregational Church
Published for the Author by
Globe Printing & Binding Company
Parkersburg, West Virginia
CHAPTER II -
Indian War 1791 - 1795
Beginning of the War - Farmers Castle built and occupied - A
list of Families and Persons in Farmers Castle.
OUTBREAK OF THE WAR
and distress attendant on a famine had no sooner disappeared,
than they were assailed by a new calamity. The County
Court of quarter sessions met at Marietta on the first Monday in
January 1791. A considerable number of the most active men
were called there to attend as jurors, witnesses etc. As
it was a laborious task to get there by water in canoes, many of
them went up on Saturday and Sunday preceding.
The Court had barely opened on Monday, when word was
brought of the sacking and slaughter of Big Bottom. It was
immediately adjourned, and the men returned to their homes full
of anxiety for the fate of their own families. Notice had
been sent to the settlers at Belpre from Wolf Creek mills at the
same time it was sent to Marietta. The women and children
suffered much from fear, expecting every hour that the Indians
would attack them. The inhabitants were scattered along on
the river bank, living in their log cabins, without any
preparation for defense, not expecting an Indian war, as a
treaty had been made only two years before. Captain
Jonathan Stone, at the upper settlement had built a small
block house for his dwelling, and into this the women and
children were gathered on Monday night. On Tuesday there
was a general gathering of all the heads of families, to consult
on what was best to be done.
FARMERS CASTLE BUILT AND OCCUPIED
They decided that all,
about thirty families, should be collected at the middle
settlement where Col. Cushing and Col. Battelle
had already built two large log houses, and erect a spacious,
strong, and well arranged garrison, sufficient for the
accommodation of all the inhabitants. The spot selected
was on the bank of the river, about half a mile below the bluff,
and nearly against the center of Back-
Island. A swamp about six rods back from the Ohio
protected the rear, while the river protected the front.
The upper and lower ends opened into a smooth level bottom,
suitable for a road by which to enter or depart fro the
garrison. The work was commenced the first week in
January, and prosecuted with the utmost energy. As fast as
the block houses were built the families moved into them.
These were thirteen in number arranged in two rows with a wide
street between. The basement story was in general twenty
feet square, and the upper about twenty-two feet, thus
projecting over the lower one and forming a defense from which
to protect the doors and windows below, in an attack. They
were built of round logs a foot in diameter, and the
intersitives nicely chinked and pointed with mortar. The
doors and window shutters were made of thick oak planks, or
puncheon, and secured with stout bars of wood on the inside. ***
*The pickets were made of quartered oak timber growing on the
plain back of the garrison, formed from trees about a foot in
diameter, fourteen feet long, and set four feet in the ground
leaving them ten feet high, over which no enemy could mount
without a ladder. The smooth side was set out- ward; and
the palisades strengthened and kept in their places by stout
ribbons, or wall pieces, pinned to them with inch tree nails, on
the inside. The spaces between the houses were filled up
with pickets, and occupied three or four times the width of the
houses, forming a continuous wall, or inclosure about eighty
rods in length and six rods wide. The palisades on the
river side filled the whole space and projected over the edge of
the bank, leaning on rails and posts set to support them.
They were sloped in this manner for the admission of air during
the heat of summer. Gates of stout timbers were placed in
the East and West ends of the garrison, opening in the middle,
ten feet wide, for the ingress and egress of teams, and to take
in the cattle in case of an attack. A still wider gate opened
near the center of the back wall for hauling in wood, and all
were secured with strong heavy bars. Two or three smaller
ones, called water gates, were placed on the river side, as all
their water was procured from the Ohio. When signs of
Indians were discovered by the spies, the domestic animals were
driven within the gates at night. At sunset all the avenues were
closed. Every house was filled with
families and as new settlers arrived occasionally during the war
some houses contained several families.
The corner block houses on the back side of the
garrison were provided with watch towers running up eight feet
above the roof, where a sentry was constantly kept. When
the whole was completed, the inmates of the station called it
“Farmers Castle” a name very appropriate, as it was built and
occupied by farmers. The directors of the Ohio Company,
with their characteristic beneficience, paid the expense of
erecting three of the block houses, and the money was
distributed among the laborers. The view of the Castle
from the Ohio river was very picturesque and imposing; looking
like a small fortified city amidst the surrounding wilderness.
During the war there were about seventy able bodied men mustered
on the roll for military duty, and the police within assumed
that of a regularly besieged fort, as in fact it was a great
portion of the time, the Indians watching in small parties, more
or less constantly, for a chance to kill or capture the
inhabitants when they least expected it. At sunrise the
roll was called by the orderly sergeant, and if any man had
overslept in the morning, or neglected to answer to his name,
the penalty was fixed as the cutting out the stump of a tree
level with the ground, stumps being thickly scattered over the
surface within the Castle. This penalty was so rigidly
exacted that but few stumps remained at the close of the war.
A regular commander was appointed with suitable subalterns.
Maj. Nathan Goodale was the first Captain, and
held that office until he removed into his own garrison in 1793,
when Colonel Cushing took the command. The
flagstaff stood a few yards west of the back gate near the house
of Colonel Cushing on which floated the stars and
stripes. Near the staff was a large howitzer, or swivel
gun, mounted on a platform incased in wood, hooped with iron
bands and painted to resemble a six pounder. It was so adjusted
as to revolve on a socket, and thus point to any part of the
works. During the Spring and Summer months, when there was
any probability of Indians, it was fired regularly morning and
evening. It could be distinctly heard for several miles
around, especially up and down the river; the banks and hills,
re-echoing the report. This practice no
doubt kept the Indians in awe, and warned them not to approach a
post whose inmates were habitually watchful, and so well
prepared to defend themselves. Around this spot it was
customary for loungers and news mongers to assemble, to discuss
the concerns of the Castle and tell the news of the day.
It was also the rallying point in case of an assault and the
spot where the muster roll was called morning and evening.
The spies and rangers here made reports of their discoveries to
the Commandant; in short it was “place d’armes” of Farmers
In the upper room of every house was kept a large cask
or hogshead constantly filled with water to be used in case of
fire. It was a part of the duty of the Officer of the day to
inspect every house, and see that the cask was well filled.
Another duty was to prevent any stack of grain or fodder being
placed so near the Castle as to endanger the safety of the
buildings should the Indians set them on fire or to shelter them
in case of an assault.
They also inspected the gates, pickets, and houses, to
see that all were in repair and well secured at night.
They received dispatches from abroad, or sent out expresses to
the other stations. Their authority was absolute and the
government strictly military. The greatest and principal
danger to the settlers arose from their exposure to attacks when
engaged during the Spring and Summer months in working in their
fields. The clearings of some of the inhabitants lay at
the distance of three miles, while others were within rifle shot
of the garrison. Those could only be visited in companies
of fifteen or twenty men. Their exposure was not confined
to their actual engagement in their fields, but chiefly in going
to and returning from their labors. While at their work,
sentries were constantly placed in the edge of the adjoining
forest; and flanking parties examined the ground when marching
through the wood between the upper and lower settlements.
It was a great labor to transport their crops for so long a
distance after they were harvested, although it was chiefly done
by water. For these reasons, in the second year of the
war, it was decided as best for them to divide into smaller
communities. Accordingly, a strong stockade garrison was
built three miles above called “Stones Garrison,” and one below
called “Goodales Garrison.” To these several fami-
lies, whose lands adjoined, removed and continued to occupy them
until the close of the war. Fresh emigrants however
continually arrived so that Farmers Castle remained crowded.
A list of families
in Farmers Castle at Belpre in 1792.
No. 1 - Colonel Ebenezer
Battelle, wife, and four children: Cornelius,
Ebenezer, Thomas and Louisa
No. 2 - Captain William James, wife, and
ten children: Susan, Anna, Esther,
Hannah, Abigal and Polly; William
John, Thomas and Simeon. Also Isaac
Barker, wife, and eight children: Michael,
Isaac, Joseph, William and Timothy;
Anna, Rhoda, and Nancy. Also Daniel
Cogswell, wife and five children: John, Abigal,
Peleg, Job and Daniel.
No. 3 - Captain Jonathan Stone wife and three children:
Benjamin Franklin, Samuel, and Rufus Putnam.
No. 4 - Colonel Nathaniel Cushing, wife,
and six children: Nathaniel, Henry, Varnum, Thomas, Sally
and Elizabeth. Also Captain Jonathan Devoll,
wife, and six children: Henry, Charles, Barker,
Francis, Sally and Nancy, with a nephew,
No. 5 - Isaac Pierce, wife, and three children:
Samuel, Joseph and Phebe. Also
Nathaniel Little, wife, and one child. Also
Joseph Barker, wife and one Child, Joseph,
born in Belpre.
No. 6 - Maj. Nathan Goodale, wife, and seven children:
Betsey, Cynthia, Sally, Susan,
Henrietta, Timothy, and Lincoln.
No. 7 - In the South west corner of the garrison, A. W.
Putnam, wife, and one child, William Pitt born
in the garrison. Also D. Loring, wife, and seven
children: Israel, Rice and Jesse; Lulba,
Bathsheba, Charlotte and Polly. Major
Oliver Rice lived in the family of Mr.
Loring. Also Captain Benjamin Miles,
wife, and five children: Benjamin, Buckmaster and
Hubbard, (twins), William, Tappan and Polly.
No. 8 - Griffin Green, Esq., wife, and four children,
Richard, Philip, Griffn and Susan.
No. 9 - John Rouse, wife, and eight children:
Michael, Bathsheba, Cynthia, Betsy, Ruth, Stephen, Robert and
-ker, twins. Also Maj. Robert Bradford wife
and three or four children. Several of these children died
of scarlet fever, others were born after the war.
No. 10 - Captain John Leavens, wife, and
six children: Joseph, and John, Nancy,
Fanny, Esther and Matilda. Also
Captain William Dana, wife, and eight children: Luther,
William, (young men) Edmond, Stephen, John, Charles and
Augustus; Betsy Mary and Fanny.
Between 10 and 11 there was a long low building, called
the barracks in which a small detachment of United States troops
No. 11 - Mrs. Dunham widow of Daniel Dunham, who
died in 1791, one son and two daughters. Also Captain
Israel Stone, wife, and ten children: Sardine, a
young man, Israel, Jasper, Augustus, B. Franklin,
and Columbus; Betsy, Matilda, Lydia and Harriet,
born in the Castle.
No. 12 - Benjamin Patterson, wife, and six
children: three of the rangers, or spies who were single men,
boarded with him, viz: John Shepherd, George Kerr, and
Matthew Kerr. Patterson served as a spy three years
for the settlement at Belpre and then moved down the river.
Also Benoni Hurlburt, wife, and four children.
No. 13 - Colonel Alexander Oliver, wife,
and eleven children: Launcelot, a young man,
Alexander, John and David, Lucretia, Betsy, Sally, Mehala,
Electa, Mary. Also Colonel Daniel Bent, wife
and four children: Nathan, Daniel, Dorcas,
and daughter who married Joel Oaks. Also
Silas Bent, Esq., oldest son of the Colonel,
wife and two or three children.
Several other families lived in Farmers Castle for a
short time and then proceeded down the river but the above list
contains nearly all the permanent and substantial heads of
families who settled in Belpre in 1789 and 1790.
Joshua Fleehart, wife, and four children,
lived in a small cabin east of block house No. 3. He was a
noted hunter and supplied the garrison with fresh meat.
Soon after the war closed he removed nearer to the frontier
where he could follow trapping and hunting to better advantage.
One of his hunting adventures will be related later.
Unmarried men in Farmers Castle: Jonathan Waldo,
Daniel Mayo, Jonathan Baldwin, Cornelius Delano, Joel Oaks,
James Caldwell, Wanton Casey, Stephen Guthrie, Truman
Guthrie, Captain Ingersol, Ezra
Phillips, Stephen Smith, Howell Bull, Samuel
Cushing, William and John Smith, Jonas Davis, Dr. Samuel Barnes.
Within the walls of Farmers Castle there were assembled
about two hundred and twenty souls, twenty-eight of these were
heads of families. A number of those enumerated as
children were males above sixteen years and enrolled for
military duty. Others were young women from sixteen to
twenty years of age.
Among the inmates of the garrison the name of
Christopher Putnam or Kitt as he was familiarly
called, must not be forgotten. He was a colored boy of
sixteen or eighteen years of age, who had been the personal or
body servant of General Israel Putnam, during the latter
years of his life, and after his death lived with his son
Col. Israel PUtnam. In the fall of 1789, Colonel
Putnam came out to Marietta with his son Aaron Waldo,
and brought Kitt with him. In the Autumn of 1790
the Colonel returned to Connecticut for his family. That
winter the war broke out and he did not move them until 1795.
Kitt remained at Belpre with Mr. Putnam in the
garrison and was a great favorite with the boys. He was
their chosen leader in all their athletic sports, for his
wonderful activity, and much beloved for his kind and cheerful
disposition. When abroad in the fields cultivating or
planting their crops, he was one of their best hands, either for
work or to stand as a sentry. On these occasions he
sometimes took his station in the lower branches of a tree where
he could have a wider range of vision and give early notice of
the approach of danger. Under the watchful vigilance of
Kitt, all felt safe at their work. After he was
twenty-one years of age and became a free man he lived the
Captain Devoll, on the Muskingum and assisting in tending
the floating mill and clearing the land on the farm. At
the election for delegates, under the territory, to form a
constitution for Ohio, Kitt was a voter and was probably
the first and only black who ever exercised the elective
franchise in Washington County as after the adoption of that
article all colored men were dis
franchised. (Later they
were allowed the franchise.) He died about the year 1802
much lamented for his many personal good qualities and
END OF CHAPTER II. -