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Washington County, Ohio
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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 56

     AFTER the division of the settlers into smaller communities, their farming operations were carried on with much less trouble and labor, and also to a larger extent.  Familiarity with danger had removed a part of its dread, and new lands were cleared in addition to those opened before the war, so that some of the stronger handed began to have produce for sale, especially Indian corn which was now in demand as an article of forage for the numerous teams of oxen and pack horses employed in the transport of provisions and munitions of war for the army assembled at the frontiers.  The threatened invasion of their country occupied the thoughts and attention of the Indians more than usual and their war parties did not harass the settlements on the Ohio so frequently as in past years.  A regular system of defense, and constant watchfulness, was kept up by the whites, under the direction of the old veterans who were at the head of the settlements.  They had no horses for them to steal, and the savage who receives no pay from his tribe for military services, always aims to make his attack where he can get some plunder as well as scalps, being as avaricious as the white man.  In addition to the constant care required for the sustenance and defense of their families, provision was also made for their future comfort.  Nurseries of apples and peaches were planted, from seeds obtained east of the mountains, or at head waters; and scions of the finest apples to be found in New England, were sent out by Israel Putnam during the war, and ingrafted ready for the use of the inhabitants as soon as it should close, which they hoped would be before long, as the army of General Wayne was sufficient to defeat any body of warriors the Indians could assemble.  In the course of the Summer of 1794 their hopes were realized, and the savages so completely routed that further fears of their hospitality ceased to alarm them.

[Pg. 57]


     John Armstrong and Peter Mixner, with their families, spent the winter of 1793-4 in the block house of Isaac Barker in the upper settlement of Belpre.  These men were interested in a floating mill on the Virginia shore a little above the head of Blennerhassett Island.  Early in the Spring of 1794 they built cabins and removed their families to the Virginia side of the river in order to be near their work.  This was considered at the time a hazardous enterprise as it proved to be.  On the night of April 24th an attack was made on the cabin of Mr. Armstrong where Mrs. Armstrong and two young children were tomahawked and scalped.  Three other children were taken into captivity and restored after the war.  The other family, hearing the alarm, fled to their canoe and escaped before the Indians reached their cabin.  Mr. Armstrong retreated to the mill where his two oldest boys were sleeping and all escaped.  As soon as the alarm could be given in the morning a party from Stone's Garrison crossed the river but the Indians had retreated beyond their reach.  The dead bodies were taken across the river and buried.
     The pursuing party found by their trail where the Indians had raised their sunken canoes and crossed the Ohio to the Big Hocking up which they pushed their boats several miles when they left them and traveled by land.  By the prints of the children's feet in the mud they ascertained that the prisoners were yet alive; and lest they would kill them if they were overtaken by the whites, they gave up the pursuit, and returned down stream and across the Ohio in the bark canoe left by the Indians.
     On their arrival at the Wyandot towns the children were adopted into different families.  Jeremiah the youngest, whose life was saved by the kind offices of a youngest, whose life was saved by the kind offices of a young warrior, was taken by the celebrated Chief Crane, who is represented to have been a kind hearted humane man and used him well.  All were given up at the close of the war.


     The last of February, 1795, about ten months after the massacre of the Armstrong family, Jonas Davis, a young man from Massachusetts and an inmate of Stone's Garrison, discovered an old skiff in a pile of drift wood on

[Pg. 58]
the banks of the Ohio, about three miles above Belpre.  He went up in a skiff to secure the nails, from this old boat, which were quite valuable at that time.  While busily at work he was discovered by a hunting party consisting of two Indians and a negro who had been adopted into the tribe.  They murdered and scalped him and left his body beside his skiff.  As he did not return a party went up from the garrison, discovered his body and took it back for burial.  The death of Davis was specially distressing because he was very soon to be married to a daughter of Isaac Baker, and his wedding suit was already prepared.  The next day after the death of Davis a party of four young men headed by John James, proceeded down the Ohio in a canoe in pursuit of the murderers.  They made quite a long circuit and had some adventures but returned without finding the object of their pursuit.  The murder of Jonas Davis and that of Sherman Waterman, near Waterford, were the last tragedies of the Indian War in these settlements.
     In the Spring of 1795, following the treaty of peace at Greenville, the inhabitants were released from their five years imprisonment in garrisons and issuing forth began to spread themselves up and down the land.  Many fresh emigrants also arrived and increased their numbers.  In a few years large farms were cleared and buildings erected; roads were opened and bridges built over many of the small streams so that wheel carriages could be partially used.  Large orchards were planted out of the finest ingrafted varieties of fruit, by the inhabitants of Belpre, who, for many years in advance of other parts of the country sent boat loads of fruit to the settlements on the Mississippi river.  For a number of years while the Connecticut men were preparing the "Western Reserve" for the immense dairies that afterwards enriched them, the people of Belpre furnished more cheese for the down river trade than any other district west of the mountains and was at that period as famous for its cheese as the "Reserve" became at a later period.  After that time the farmers turned their attention to other branches of agriculture more profitable to them, especially the growth of fruit.  For many yeas sixteen cents a pound was the price paid for cheese, sold to the trading boas at their dairy doors.

[Pg. 59]
     The farmers in this settlement for quite a long time stood at the head of all others in the south east quarter of Ohio, for intelligence, neatness of agriculture, and comfortable dwelling houses; and even at this day of wealth and improvement in all the older portions of the State, would not fall much in the background.  In the stormy period of political strife which attended and followed the elevation of Jefferson to the presidency of the United States, they remained firm in the principals of Washington; and as he had been their model in the camp, they remained true to his precepts at the ballot box.



  1848, and even in 1918 these words are not far from the truth.


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