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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
Marietta, Ohio
Published for the Author by
Globe Printing & Binding Company
Parkersburg, West Virginia


Page 26

     THE crops of the settlers were confined chiefly to Indian corn, beans, potatoes, turnips, and pumpkins, with a little wheat and rye.  They also raised hemp and flax for domestic use.  Until the erection of a floating mill in the fall of 1791, a noted era in the annals of Belpre, their meal was all ground in the primitive hand mill.  But little wheat was raised until after the close of the war, when mills were built on the creeks.  By the aid of a bolting machine, turned by hand in the garrison, the floating mill furnished the flour for many a noble loaf of bread, and the crusts of numerous pumpkin pies, the only fruit afforded for this use in that day.
     The winter following the first occupation of Farmers Castle was one of severe privation in the article of meat.  Late in the fall of 1791, the fat hogs were all collected and slaughtered in company, and hung up in an outhouse near the garrison to cool and dry through the night.  During this period it accidentally took fire and burnt up all their winter stock of meat, to their great loss and disappointment.  A number of other hogs which had been left at their outlots and fattened in pens were also killed by the Indians.  These were visited by their owners once in three or four days, and fed with corn left in the field for that purpose.


     Under these discouraging circumstances the inhabitants contributed all the money they could gather, which was but a small sum, and dispatched two active young men to "Red Stone" to purchase a supply of salt meat and a few barrels of flour.  It was a hazardous journey, not only in danger from the Indians, who, since St. Clairs defeat, were still more harassing to the inhabitants, but also from the inclemency of the season, it being the first part of De-

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cember.  They, however reached head waters unmolested, made their purchases, and were ready to descend the river when it closed with ice.  In the meantime nothing was heard from the two messengers by the inhabitants and winter wore away in uncertainty of their fate.  Some thought they had decamped with the money, and others that they had been killed by the Indians, as the news of St. Clairs defeat had reached them soon after their departure; while the more reflecting were firm in their confidence of the integrity of the young men and attributed their silence to a want of opportunity to send them a letter, as the river was closed, and no regular mail was then established.  The last of February  the ice broke up in the Ohio, with a flood of water that covered the banks and inundated the ground on which the garrison was built.  Early in March the young men arrived with a small Kentucky boat with provisions, and entering the garrison by the upper gate, moored their ark at the door of the commandant, to the great joy and relief of the inhabitants.  After the disastrous events of the Campaign of 1791, a small guard of United States troops were stationed at Belpre, usually consisting of a corporal and five men.  Their principal duty was to watch the garrison, while the inhabitants were abroad in their fields, or at any other employment.  They also served in rotation with the inhabitants in standing sentry in the watch towers.  John L. Shaw, well known in Marietta, for many years after the war, as an eccentric character, of great wit and power of mimicry, was corporal of the guard for a time and a great favorite with the inmates of the Castle.  He was subsequently a Sergeant in Captain Haskells Company from Rochester, Mass.  During Wayne's Campaign, while stationed at Fort Recovery he had a narrow escape from the Indians.  In October, 1793, contrary to orders, he ventured out into the forest near the fort to gather hickory nuts and had set his musket against a tree.  While busily engaged, with his head near the ground, he heard a slight rustling in the leaves close to him.  Rising suddenly from his stooping posture, he saw an Indian within a few yards, his tomahawk raised ready for a throw, while at the same time he called out in broken English "Prisoner, Prisoner!"  Shaw having no relish for captivity sprang to his gun, cocked it and faced round just as the Indian hurled his hatchet.  It was aimed at his

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head but by a rapid inclination of the body, it missed its destination and lodged the whole length of the blade in the muscles of the loin.  By the time he had gained an erect position his enemy was within two steps of him with his scalping knife.  Shaw now fired his gun with such effect as to kill him on the spot, and its muzzle was so near as to set his calico hunting shirt on fire.  Before he could reload, another Indian rushed upon him, and he was obliged to trust his heels in flight.  He ran in the direction of the fort, but a fresh Indian started up before him, and he was obliged to take to the woods.  Being in the prime of life and a very active runner he distanced all his pursuers, leaping logs and other obstructions which the Indians had to climb over or go around.  After fifteen or twenty minutes of hot pursuit, which the shrill yells of the Indians served to quicken, he reached within a short distance of the fort, and met a party of men coming out to his rescue.  They had heard the shot and at once divined the cause, as no firing was allowed near the fort, except at the enemy or in self defense.  Shaws life was saved from the rifles of the Savages only by their desire of taking a prisoner to learn the intentions of General Wayne.
The first actual demonstration of hostility, after the inhabitants had taken possession of their new garrison, was on March 12ath by some of the same party who had attacked the settlement at Waterford, and killed Captain Rogers at Marietta.  The settlers who had evacuated their farms, of necessity left a part of their cattle and fodder on the premises; while those near the castle were visited daily to feed and milk their cows.  On this morning Waldo Putnam, a son of Colonel Israel Putnam, and grandson of the old veteran General, in company with Nathaniel Little, visited the possession of the former, half a mile below, to feed and milk the cows.  While Waldo was in the posture of milking, Little, who kept guard, discovered an Indian leveling his gun at him.  He instantly cried out "Indians, Indians!"  Just as the gun cracked Waldo sprang to one side, and the ball struck the ground under the cow where he was sitting.  They instantly ran for the garrison, when three Indians sprang out from the edge of the woods and joined in the pursuit, firing their rifles at the fugitives as they ran, but happily without effect.  They were soon with-

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in a short distance of the garrison, when a party of men rushed out to their rescue and the Indians retreated, after killing several of the cattle, and among them a yoke of oxen belonging to Captain Benjamin Miles, which were noted for their size, being fifteen inches high and large in proportion.  In the subsequent year, while Putnam and Little were at the same place, very early in the morning, a small dog that was a few rods in advance gave notice of danger by barking violently at some hidden object which his manner led them to suspect must be Indians.  Thus warned they began slowly to retreat, and look carefully for their enemy.  The Indians, three or four in number, watching them from their covert behind a brush fence, now jumped from their hiding place and gave chase.  The two white men quickened their speed and crossed a deep gully which lay in their path on a log, barely in time to prevent the Indians from cutting off their retreat.  They had examined the ground and expected to take them prisoners or kill them at this place.  Seeing them past the defile they now commenced firing at them , but missed their object.  In the ardor of pursuit they rushed up within a short distance of the Castle, when Harlow Bull, a fierce little warrior, who had just arisen from bed, and was only partly dressed heard the firing and rushed out at the gate with his rifle and discharged it at the Indians at the same time returning their war whoop with a yell nearly as terrible as their own.  Several of the soldiers soon after appeared in the field, when the Indians retreated to the forest, greatly disappointed in their expected victims.
     After the fugutives were safe within the wall considerable alarm was for time felt for Major Bradford who had gone out with them but fell a good way behind his company on account of a lame foot, from a recent wound.  He had nearly reached the gully or defile when the Indians began the pursuit, and, knowing he could not keep pace with the others, he jumped down the bank of the river, near which he was hobbling along, before he was seen by the Indians, and keeping under shelter he reached the garrison unnoticed and came in at one of the water gates.  For a few minutes his family were fully persuaded that he was killed as his companions could give no account of him.

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     On September 28th, 1791 Joshua Fleehart and Benomi Hulbert left the garrison in a canoe to hunt and to visit their traps near the mouth of the Little Hocking. Fleehart was a celebrated hunter and trapper.  Like many other backwoodsmen he preferred following the chase for a living to that of cultivating the earth.  Numbers of them depended on the woods for their clothing as well as their food.  Hulberts family from the oldest and youngest were clothed in dressed deer skins.  These men had hunted a good deal together and supplied the garrison with fresh meat.  As they passed the narrows above the mouth of the creek they were strongly inclined to land and shoot some turkeys which they heard gobbling on the side of the hill, a few rods from the river.  It was a common practice with the Indians, when in the vicinity of the whites, to imitate the note of these birds, to call some of the unwary settlers within reach of their rifles.  After listening a few moments the nice, discriminating ear of Fleehart satisfied him that they were made by Indians.  Hulbert did not believe it but was finally induced not to land.  They proceeded on and entered the mouth of the creek, where his companion landed and traveled along on the edge of the woods in search of game, while Fleehart paddled the canoe further up the stream.  As they had seen no more signs of Indians, they concluded that the gobbling this time was done by the turkeys themselves.  In a short time after Hulbert had left the canoe, the report of a rifle was heard, which Fleehart at once knew was not that of his companion and concluded was the shot of an Indian.  He landed the canoe on the opposite shore, and running up the bank should they approach to examine the creek for the canoe.  He directly heard a little dog belonging to his companion in fierce contest with the Indians trying to defend the body of his master; but they soon silenced him with the stroke of a tomahawk.  After watching more than an hour, so near that he could hear the Indians converse and the groans of the dying man, but out of his sight and the reach of his rifle the Indians being too cautious to approach where they expected danger, he entered his canoe and returned to the garrison, which he reached a little after dark and reported

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the fate of his companion.  The next morning a party of men, conducted by Fleehart, went down by water, and found him dead and scalped on the ground where he fell, with the body of his faithful dog by his side.  They brought him to the Castle where he was buried.
     Mr. Hulbert was over sixty years old, and had moved into the country from Pennsylvania in the fall of 1788 and lived for a time at Marietta.  He served as hunter to a party of Ohio Company Surveyors in 1789 and was esteemed an honest, worthy man.
     He was the first man killed by Indians in Belpre after the war broke out.
     The death of Mr. Hulbert was a source of additional terror and dread to the elderly females in the garrison, whose fears of the Indians kept them in constant alarm, lest their own husbands or sons should fall prey to the rifle or tomahawk of the Savages.  They had but little quiet except in the winter, during which period the Indians rarely made inroads, or lay watching about the garrison.
     But as soon as the Spring began to open and the wild geese were seen in flocks steering their course to the north, and the grogs heard peeping in the swamp, they might invariably be expected lurking in the vicinity.   So constantly was his the case, that the elder females and mothers with the more timid part of the community, never greeted this season with the hilarity and welcome so common in all parts of the world, and so desirable as releasing us from the gloom and storms of winter.  They preferred that season to any other, as they then felt that their children and themselves were in a manner safe from the attack of their dreaded foe.  They therefore regretted its departure, and viewed the budding of the trees and the opening of the wild flowers with saddened feelings, as the harbingers of evil; listening to the song of the blue bird and the martin with cheerless hearts, as preludes to the war cry of the Savage.  Much of our comfort and happiness depends on association; and through surrounded with all the heart may crave, or our tastes desire, yet the constant dread of some expected evil will destroy all peace of mind, and turn what otherwise might be joy into sorrow.  The barking of the watch dog at night was anther source of terror as it was associated

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with the thought that some savage foe was lurking in the vicinity.  The more timid females when thus awakened in the night would rise upon the elbow and listen with anxious care for the sound of the war whoop or the report of the rifle of the watchful sentry; and when they again fell into a disturbed slumber, the nervous excitement led them to dream of some murderous deeds or appalling danger.  Several amusing incidents are related of the alarms in the garrison from the screams of persons when asleep and dreaming that they were attacked by Indians.  Amid the peace and quiet of our happy times, we can hardly realize the mental suffering of that disastrous period.

NOVEMBER 28, 1770.



     The following letters written to her father by Mrs. Mary Bancroft Dana give us an inside view of conditions during those trying years.

  Belpre, June 24th, 1790.
Honored sir,
     I have an opportunity to send a few lines by General Putnam which I gladly embrace to inform you that we al still exist, and have the addition of another son whom I shall call George.  A fine little boy he is.  We are as usual, sometimes sick and sometimes well.  All of us at work for life to get in a way to be comfortable.  We got through the Winter as well as I expected.  We are more put to our trumps than I ever expected for bread.  There is no corn nor flour of any kind to be had.  We at present live entirely without it, as many of our neighbors do.  There were very few potatoes raised for want of seed.  Our whole family have not eaten two bushels since we came here.  We have a plenty of corn and potatoes planted so that I expect to live in a short time, things look promising.  Mr. Dana has worked himself almost to death to get things as forward as he has; he is poor and pale, as are all our family, but he is perfectly satisfied with what he has done and depends on reaping the good of his labor.  I have passed through many scenes since I left you and am still the same contented being without fear from the natives.  Great God!  grant that I may still be protected and carried through every changing scene of life with fortitude and behave as becomes a Christian.  I have not received a line from any of my

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friends but Mr. Atherton and Captain Blanchard.  Mr. Atherton informed me that sister Sparrow had lost her little girl.  What a distribution of Providence, there was enough to feed and clothe, still they must be afflicted.  Infinite Wisdom no doubt thought it best.  What ever is, is right, but we all mourn the loss of so sweet a child.  My blood thrilled in my veins and though at so great a distance have very sympathetic feelings for the parents.  I wish you would write me the manner of her death, and how you all are and everything that concerns my family.  It would seem like a feast.  Be assured now I have begun to write it seems like a visit.  The hurry in which I have lived has kept me from almost every duty; and care for the safety of my own in the new world has kept me continually busy; there seemed not a moment to spare.  The attention of a family that has but one cow and that wants everything is great and but one woman to do the whole, but I have not lost my spirits.  It is now eleven at night, all are at rest and it rains very fast, and has for this thirty hours as fast as I ever knew it.  The river rises and falls at an amazing rate.  Everything grows as fast as we could wish but I fear we will still have to grind in a hand mill.  As it grows late and our house is very wet must bid you adieu. 

  Your affectionate daughter,
     Mary Dana.
     The next letter was written two yeasr later and indicates the changed conditions.
  September 8, 1792.
Honored Sir:
     I once more give my self the satisfaction to inform you and all my friends that we are all alive and in as good health as it is common for us to be.  Various have been the scenes I have passed through since I left your peaceful dwelling.  We lived in peace and safety as we thought for one eyar without a guard for selves or family.
     At length an army was sent out against that injured nation for cruelties they were often committing upon persons or families.
     A year ago last February three small settlements moved together.  A garrison was created and block houses

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built.  We continued there with two families in every house, one above and one below, three miles from our usual dwelling.  We continued there nine months but before the defeat of the army we returned and lived in our own house all winter.
     In the course of the winter Mr. Dana built a decent block house nigh a quarter of a mile from our other.  I now live in a snug garrison where there are seven families.  Nobody pretends to walk any distance without an instrument of death on hiss shoulder, continually looking for danger and trial.  All necessary business is performed with alacrity and fortitude.  Everything around us is flourishing and we are supported and prospered beyond our expectations.  This letter I send by Mrs. Battele who is about to set out for Boston.  She has been in this country nigh four years and is now going to visit her friends.  Me things it would add to my happiness to hear from every branch of my family; their situation, their prosperities, their adversities, although at so great a distance I should share every adversity, and partake of the prosperity.  Not a single line have I received from any of you since I left you, and this wretched writing I hope will put you in mind, or one of my brothers, to write the first opportunity.  I must conclude with sending duty and respects and love for myself and family

  Your dutiful daughter,
      MARY DANA.

     These letters reveal many of the privations of settlers in a new country with no public means of travel, and no mails, the only means of transporting letters being in the knapsacks of travelers, and sometimes years passed before they heard from friends in the old home.
     Mrs. Dana was a daughter of Capt. Edmond Bancroft, of Pepperell, Mass.  She brought up a family of eleven children and did her full share in promoting the welfare of Belpre.
     The pioneer wives and mothers deserve more honors than we can express for the perseverance and heroism with which they endured the privations of those early years.



Doubtless Stone's Garrison

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