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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 83

     THERE is always a glamour of romance about the commencement of a new enterprise, as for example, the construction of a railway.  There is the scouring of a charter, the survey, the grading, the laying of the first rail, and the running of the first train; every specific event is full of interest, to all concerned but when the road is complete and trains run on regular schedules the romance gives place to reality, and the history of a passing year is very nearly like that of the preceeding years.  This illustrates the experience of one who attempts to gather material for the history of a new settlement like that of Belpre.  The beginnings of this history are full of romantic interest; there was the survey, and the discovery of this locality specially adapted to agriculture, the forming of an Association and decision to take up their claims and establish their homes here, the clearing of a few acres of land, the building of temporary cabins, raising the first crops, the building of a garrison for defense, the Indian war with constant danger of attack, every event was full of interest to all the people, and was preserved in journals and letters, which are available to the historian.  But when the danger of attack by Indians had passed and families could leave the garrison and all could live in safety on their own farms, their experiences were very similar from year to year, for the romance had given place to a routine which made history of each year little more than a repetition of the past, and it became more difficult to discover and record items of special interest. 
     We have already seen that the pioneers of Belpre were characterized by intelligence, enterprise, and industry.  They were not in search of easy lives or soft snaps.  They were accustomed to hard work and expected to continue active.  They had selected Belpre as the place for their homes because it was adapted to agriculture, and it was their purpose to develop an agricultural community.  It was not their intention to establish manufacturing beyond

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what was needed for their own convenience.  The years which followed the return of families to their farms were years of great activity. T hey cut down the giant forest trees, removed the stumps, and prepared the land for cultivation.  They built larger and more permanent homes and such buildings as were required for their more extensive farming.  They were also obliged to increase their stock raising which had been neglected by the danger of Indian attacks, also to raise horses of which there were very few in the town at the close of the war.  There was also the necessity of building roads and bridges, where they had previously traveled in trails and forded the streams.  Such employments as these occupied the men during the two decades after the Indian war. The women were equally occupied, besides the increased labor in the performance of domestic duties, from the smallness of their cabins and lack of utensils and conveniences there was the spinning of wool and flax, weaving it into cloth and making garments for their increasing families.  They must also provide woolen blankets and linen sheets for beds and perform the many and constant duties of the household besides giving constant encouragement, hopefulness and good cheer to fathers, husbands, sons and brothers.  In the construction of their buildings there was no machine work.  Everything was hand make even to the nails hinges and door latches.  We are able to give a copy of a contract for the construction of one of the earliest houses in what is now Belpre Village.

Belpre, March 1, 1797.

     Know all men by these presents: I, Johnson Cook, carpenter and joiner, of Marietta do engage to cut and hew the timber, and frame a house of forty-two feet in length and thirty-feet in width, the lower story to be nine, ye upper eight feet between joists and with a stoop all round the house six feet wide, to finish the outside of the house compleat, make and hang all the doors in the lower story, put up the petitions, lay the lower and chamber floors, case the windows, make the sashes and set the glass, and to lath and plaster all the lower part of the house,—for Israel Putnam of Bellepree, who is to find the materials for finishing the house at the spot, and vittle the people while doing it and for the labor to pay to Johnson, three hundred and

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ninety-five dollars, the work to be done in six months, and fifty dollars to be paid by the first of May, and one hundred dollars by the first of July, and the remainder when the work is done.

In witness whereof we have herein set our hands,

     This was long known as the Benedict house and stood on the river bank in front of the Cook house  It was very much injured by the flood of 1884, and soon after demolished.
     During these years the farmers tested a considerable variety of products such as cotton, upland rice and silk worms.  Considerable quantities of hemp and flax were raised during those years.  The hemp was used in the rope works at Mareitta and the flax made into cloth as shown by the record given by Dr. Hildreth in a previous chapter.
     Quite a number of pioneers brought their families and goods from the east by ox teams, and also drove some other stock. Colonel Israel Putnam, Major Nathan Goodale, and Benjamin Miles brought some choice varieties of stock. Some of these were killed or stolen by Indians but what remained were increased and valued for many years.
     In a letter written to Dr. Hildreth several years later Colonel Battelle says:
     "I think sheep were introduced into Belpre by Grifiin Greene Esq., who had a small flock given him by a friend in Charlestown, Virginia in 1792 or 3.   Cotton was raised in very small quantities in our gardens, and was picked by hand and spun into stocking yarn.  Upland rice was also planted in drills in our gardens but the red birds came in for a large share of it.  In 1795 a good cow could be purchased for $25.00 though there were but few to be had," (We do not read that the price was raised on account of the scarcity.) 
     "Merino Sheep were brought to Zanesville by Seth Adams in the summer of 1805 and I think by Messrs. Fearing and Oilman the same year."
     The fruit trees planted in the early years grew rapidly

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in the fertile soil and were grafted by scions from the choicest varieties known in the eastern states."
     Mr. Thaddeus M. Harris made a tour into the territory west of the Alleghany mountains in 1805, and writes in his journal concerning Belpre and its orchards as follows:
     "The situation of Belpre is pleasant and beautiful.  The houses are built upon the high banks of the river which opens a fine prospect.  The upper settlement is opposite the mouth of the Little Kanawha and a small town on the Virginia shore.  The middle settlement commands a view of the elegant mansion and buildings of Mr. Blennerhassett on an island of more than one hundred acres possessing all the beauty of a well cultivated garden.  In the upper and lower settlements are some of the largest peach and apple orchards I saw in the country.  They flourish luxuriantly and are already in bearing order. Interspersed among the well inclosed and highly cultivated plains back of this charming town they contribute to decorate and enrich the landscape."
     The soil on these river terraces was fertile and crops as well as fruit trees grew luxuriantly and before many years the farms produced grain, vegetables, and fruit beyond what was needed for home consumption.  At first a market was found for this surplus on the passing boats; as these products increased flat boats were loaded and floated down the river sometimes as far as New Orleans. 
     The peach trees began bearing within a very few years and the fruit was larger and more abundant than in later years.  As this fruit was perishable and there were no fast freight trains or cold storage warehouses, most of the peaches were sent to market in a liquid state.  Many of the leading farmers had stills on their premises; they were not moonshiners, for the era of high tariff on luxuries, and prohibition laws had not arrived. "Belpre Peach Brandy" became known and prized in the towns down the river. Some of it also was consumed at home.  At that time nearly all classes of people used some form of alcholic beverages.  Even Clergymen had "refreshments" at ecclesiastical gatherings, and in naming these luxuries Peach Brandy was a little more refined than whisky.  We do not find accounts of excessive intoxication in Belpre in those

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days, and in later years Belpre has become one of the most emphatically prohibition towns in the state.
     In 1795 Peregrene Foster established a ferry opposite the mouth of the Little Kanawha, having obtained a franchise from the State of Virginia.
     This ferry continued under a succession of owners until the autumn of 1918 and was a large asset to the business and prosperity of Belpre and the farmers who did business in Belpre and Parkersburg.  The owners have always served the interests of their patrons.  After the construction of the suspension bridge the ferry continued business for several months until the Bridge Corporation purchased the franchise and abandoned the ferry.
     Only a few years after the building of the Benedict house it was occupied as "Cook's Tavern" which for many years was a stopping place for travelers who crossed the ferry and were on their way to settlements farther west.
     Belpre villages not only did not exist during these early years; it was not even forseen as a future probability.
     The subject of slavery was an important one, even in those early years.  A considerable number of the settlers in that portion of southern Ohio, west of the Ohio Companies purchase, were from slave states and desired to bring slavery with them into Ohio.
     When the Constitutional Convention met at Chillicothe in 1802, notwithstanding the prohibition of slavery in the northwest territory by the Ordinance of 1787, many of the delegates desired to allow slavery in the new state at least for a limited time, and President Jefferson was known to favor that admission.   The man who did more than any other member of the Convention to defeat that movement was Judge Ephraim Cutler of Washington County, the son of Rev. Manassah Cutler, who secured the clause in the Ordinance of 1787 prohibiting slavery.  He labored faithfully on Committee claiming that the prohibition was a condition on which the land was purchased and the settlement made and ought to be considered a perpetual compact, and he succeeded in making this prohibition a part of the constitution of Ohio.  Had he failed in this effort and Ohio been recognized as a slave state, even with a time limit, it is

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probable the condition of slavery would have been continued. Had that been true no one can now tell what would have been the result of the Civil War or the present condition of the country.  We should not forget the work of men who served our state so faithfully in those formative years.
     Judge Cutler was in the State Legislature for several succeeding year and always an advocate of efficient school laws and such legislation as promoted public improvements.  It is an interesting fact to be remembered that Judge Cutlers home on the Ohio river was within the limits of Belpre township until the organization of Warren township in 1810 the latter township was named in honor of Gen. Joseph Warren who perished in the memorable battle of Bunker Hill.
     These were active years in the political history of the Country.  Conditions were changing from colonial governments, owing allegiance to the mother country, to those of an independent republic.  The amount of self control which had been exercised by the colonies had in a measure prepared them for a government of the people, for the people, and by the people, and yet there were many things respecting the new government which could only be learned by experience.
     The whole people were studying and discussing the principles which were crystalizing into the platforms of the great parties which have alternated, irregularly, according to the decisions of the people, in controlling the nation.  The citizens of Belpre were intelligent students of principles and current events and like their fellow citizens in other places were divided in sentiment; though a majority were Federalists, the party of Washington and Hamilton.


     It may be interesting to us and gratifying to our curiosity to institute a comparison between the implements and conveniences of the pioneers and those enjoyed at the present time.  Each of the men who landed at the mouth of the Muskingum, April 7th, 1788, had an axe and a hoe transported in the Company's wagons.  There is no mention of other tools, though other things were doubtless

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brought by them and those who followed them during the summer.  It is probable each of the forty eight men brought with him that universal yankee implement a pocket knife in addition to his gun and a limited amount of ammunition.  Nearly all the farming tools at that time were made by carpenters and blacksmiths and were comely or clumsy according to the skill of these important mechanics.  The axes came into immediate use in cutting the forest trees and a large portion of the land on which the first crop was raised, was mellowed by hoes only, as plows could not be conveniently used among the stumps and roots.
     The first plows were rude wooden instruments, the shares shaped by axes to which beams and handles were fastened with wooden pins.  It required the full strength of the holder to keep these plowshares in the ground, and often it was necessary for another to ride on the beam.  The soil was turned very imperfectly but the ground was partly stirred and if they succeeded in making it look "dirty" it was considered successful plowing.  The harrow was a triangular instrument in the form of the letter A, with eleven teeth. At first these were made of hard wood Most of the farm work was done by oxen and clumsy two wheeled carts.  In some cases the wheels were sections of large logs or hewn into shape from wide planks.  When the soil had been stirred by plows or hoes, and imperfectly mellowed by these rude harrows grain was sown broadcast by hand.  When matured it was reaped with hand sickles, threshed with flails, winnowed by the wind, ground in hand mills, later between milstones, baked before the open fire, later in brick ovens, and hard work created an appetite.
     At the present time a farmer rides over his field on a buggy plow, mellows the soil with quite a variety of improved cultivators and harrows, the drill sows the seed, with the fertilizer evenly in rows; the reaping and binding are done by harvesters; it is threshed and winnowed by steam power, ground between patent rollers and masticated with artificial teeth.
     In those days the farmer sheared the wool from the sheep.  His wife carded the wool by hand and spun it on the old spinning wheel, by the music of which many of the children of that day were lured to sleep.  After this yarn had been carefully dyed it was knit into honest woolen stock-

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ings, or woven into the homespun web.  This web was cut and made into garments by the neighborhood tayloress who went from house to house plying her trade, and even with such garments the active boys often wore patches to cover the rents.  Flax and tow were spun by frugal housewives and woven into linen for sheets, towels, and kerchiefs which furnished the bridal outfit for many of our fore-mothers.
     Now after shearing his sheep the farmer stores his wool until he thinks there will be no increase in price when it passes into the hands of "middle men."  If these can command sufficient money or influence, and are skillful in pulling wool over other peoples eyes, they will create "a corner" to increase the price.  The wool finally reaches the factory, where it is carded, spun and woven by the busy fingers of ingenious machines.  The cloth is taken to other establishments where it is cut into a great variety of garments which are stitched together amid the clatter of scores of sewing machines.  The garments are distributed to retailers by means of "drummers" and finally reach the men and boys, who may not wear as many patches as the boys of a century ago, but the cause of this is not because the cloth is stronger or more endurable or the garments better made than in the days of the pioneers.
     Hides taken from domestic animals were tanned for them by the nearest tanner and made into boots and shoes by the itinerating shoe maker.  Now by the aid of improved machinery 100 men in a factory can make as many shoes in a day as 500 could by the old hand process.
     Friction matches were not in general use until well into the nineteenth century.  The pioneer housewife preserved her fire through the night by burying coals in the ashes.  If these were found to be entirely extinguished in the morning the best way to build her fire was to secure a pot of coals from a neighbor.  If for any reason this was impracticable fire was produced by what was called a tinder box in which sparks, produced by the contact of steel and flint, were dropped into highly inflammable matter.  In other cases a tow string was laid across the pan of a flint lock musket, this string was ignited by the flashing of powder and the string was used to kindle inflammable matter. If the matrons of the present day could spend a week in one

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of those pioneer kitchens they would realize how much we owe to so small a thing as a friction match.
     The first fires of the settlers were bonfires in the open, where they heated water and cooked their first meals.  When their log cabins were built they were provided with fire places and a few years later these were furnished with iron cranes on which were hung the pots and kettles.  Wood was plenty and could be easily supplied in abundance.  Their bread, pines, beans, and meat were roasted before the fire or in the ashes.
     After cabins were erected they were usually provided with brick ovens in which "fireless cookers" our fore-mothers did their baking for half a century or until cook-stoves came into general use.  Only a very limited amount of furniture was brought here by the settlers.  Many of the tables were made of a wide board or plank in which three legs were inserted.  Their chairs were stools made in a similar way, with or without backs.  Bed steads were at first the ground, then elevated by slats extending from a post to two sides of the room.  Later a great improvement was made in the rope bed stead of which the present generation know very little.  Some very nice crockery was brought on by pioneer of which a few specimens are still preserved, but this was very limited.  Wooden plates and even spoons and forks were frequently used, though many brought with them pewter spoons and iron forks.  While using the primative articles our ancestors were thankful that they had so many comforts.  As soon as they were provided with tallow, candles (tallow dips) were their best lights when these could not be secured pine knots were used to give them cheer during the winter evenings, and many an enterprising youth studied his lessons, or read books from the library, lying prone before the fire place perhaps often replenishing the fire with a fresh knot to increase the light.  In some of the first cabins oiled paper was used instead of glass in the windows.  Skins of animals were often used for bed covers during the cold winter nights and dressed deer skins were made into clothing for quite a number of years. At the time which we are describing and for a number of years later the people of Ohio had no gold or steel pens, no iron safes, safe cabinets, or yale locks, no circular, jig, or band saws,—no com shellers, butter work-

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ers or sausage grinders, no automatic apple parers, cherry pitters, or egg beaters,—no clothes wringers, incubators, or fruit evaporators,—no condensed milk, canned goods, or sugar trust,—no buterine, oleomargarine, or Standard Oil Company,—no umbrellas, rubber goods, or vacuum cleaners, no daily newspapers, dime novels; or natural gas,—steam was just beginning to be known as a power and had hardly commenced to be made useful, and a knowledge of electricity was confined to experiments in a very few laboratories.  Travel was performed on foot, horseback, or in very rude vehicles.  Carriages with springs were unknown.  In the summer of 1788 two homesick young men walked from Marietta to Boston in twenty-six days, which was considered a very quick trip ; the same summer Dr. Manassah Cutler made a journey from Boston to Marietta most of the way with horse and sulky and a month was required for the journey each way.  Now a person can eat dinner in Belpre and dine in Boston on the evening of the following day.  As late as 1835 a Boston paper stated that a person could travel from Boston to St. Louis, a distance of nineteen hundred miles, all the way in a public conveyance, in fifteen days.  This was then considered a remarkable achievement in the matter of travel.  Now (1918) a person can travel from Boston to St. Louis in thirty-six hours and enjoy the conveniences of a first class hotel all the way without leaving the train.  A century ago we had no steamboats, railways, or locomotives,—no ocean steamships, dreadnaughts, or submarines,—no telegraphs, telephones, or wireless telegraph,—no photographs, phonographs or pullman cars,—no bicycles, automobiles, or aeroplanes,—no electric lighting, trolley cars, or twenty story sky scrapers.  There might be added a multitude of improvements and conveniences which the minds of men had not even conceived a century ago.  A writer about the beginning of the nineteenth century stated that so great improvements had been made in inventions during the eighteenth century that there seemed but little to be left for future advance, and yet at the close of the nineteenth century there was scarcely a machine in use which was used at the beginning of the century.  We may now think that we have reached about the acme of inventions and improvements but our descendants a century hence will wonder as much at the crudeness

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of our present civilization as we now do at the imperfections of our ancestors of one hundred years ago.


     In 1797, an Irish nobleman, by the name of Harman Blennerhassett, settled on what has since been known as Blennerhassett's Island.  He was a gentleman of wealth and culture who had married his niece, Miss Margaret Agnew, a beautiful and refined lady.  The relatives were not pleased with this marriage and to remain in their native country meant for them family ostracism, which is supposed to have been the reason for their emigration to America.  After visiting some of the eastern states they crossed the Alleghany mountains to Pittsburg and sailed down the Ohio river to Marietta.  They were so much pleased with the country and the people that they decided to locate in the vicinity.  After examining some of the neighboring hills with a view of erecting a castle on a hill top, like so many in the Rhine valley, they finally abandoned that plan and purchased the eastern half of the beautiful island opposite Belpre.  Here they erected a stately mansion with an appropriate group of outbuildings, laid out pleasant lawns and flower gardens, planted a large variety of fruit and ornamental trees and prepared the land for cultivation.  They brought with them an extensive library with apparatus for scientific experiments.  Also musical instruments and works of art.  They soon made their home and grounds the most beautiful and costly in the valley.  They found their neighbors in Belpre both enterprising and intelligent and very intimate social associations grew up between them, which continued for about eight years.  This was in the early and formative period of our political history.  Aaron Burr was one of the most talented and ambitious men of that period, and desired to reach the Presidency. In 1801 he and Thomas Jefferson each had seventy-three electoral votes.  This threw the election into the House of Representatives and on the thirtieth ballot Thomas Jefferson was chosen president and Burr, Vice-President.  In 1804 he was democratic candidate for governor of New York, but was defeated and the same year he mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton in a duel which brought to him the most intense hatred from the friends of that gifted Statesman. Though a dissapointed man he was still am-

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bitious.  In the Spring of 1805 after the close of his term as Vice-President he made a tour down the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers the object of which is given by Judge William H. Safford as follows :
     (1) To ascertain the sentiment of the people of the west upon the subject of a separation from the Atlantic States.
     (2) To enlist recruits, and make arrangements for a private expedition against Mexico and the Spanish provinces in the event of a war between the United States and Spain, which at that time seemed inevitable.
     (3) In the event of a failure of both of these measures, to purchase a tract of land of Baron Bastrop lying in Louisiana on the Washita river.  Upon this he contemplated the establishment of a colony of intelligent and wealthy individuals where he might rear around him a society remarkable for its refinement in civil and social life. 
     That each of these stupendous enterprises was determined on, is clearly inferable from the evidence afterwards adduced against him." 
     He examined the ancient monuments at Marietta and, in company with a friend, passed through the grounds of the Island estate, although the family were absent at the time. 
     A correspondence followed between Mr. Burr and Mr. Blennerhassett and this resulted in another visit of Mr. Burr to the island in August, 1805.   At that visit Mr. Burr laid before his host plans for an expedition which must have embraced some at least of the specifications already quoted.  Mr. Blennerhassett had sufficient confidence in his distinguished guest to enlist himself and invest at least a considerable part of his fortune in the enterprise, but it also created the hope of large honor and wealth in the future and it is also evident that Mrs. Blennerhassett entered very heartily into the plan.  The ostensible object of the enterprise as given to the public, was the establishment of a colony on the Washita river though at least some of the adventurers enlisted with the understanding that it embraced a campaign against Mexico. 
     Almost immediately a contract was made with Joseph

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Barker to construct, at his ship yard on the Muskingum, fifteen large batteaux, with a total capacity of carrying five hundred men.  One of these was to be fitted with several rooms to accommodate Mr. Blennerhassett's family; also a keel boat sixty feet long to be loaded with munitions, provisions, flour, whiskey, pork, and com meal which was to be kiln dried so that it would be preserved in a warm and moist climate.  For these boats and provisions Mr. Blennerhassett became responsible and he was to go down the river with these boats in December.  Other men and supplies had already been provided for in Penn. and Mr. Burr proceeded down the river to secure volunteers and supplies in Kentucky.
     The preparations were to embrace fifteen hundred or two thousand armed men with corresponding supplies of provisions.
     December 7 Comfort Tyler and Israel Taylor, in the employ of Col. Burr, arrived at the island from Beaver, Penn. with four boats and about thirty-two men.  Only eleven of the boats ordered at Marietta were completed but orders were given to have these and the provisions sent immediately and if any of the covers of boats were not complete that work might be done as they floated down the river.
     Meanwhile President Jefferson had been informed that a military expedition was in preparation against the dominions of Spain, and on Nov. 27th he issued a message warning all persons against participating in such criminal enterprises and commanding all officers, civil and military, to bring the offending persons to punishment.  The matter was also considered by Governor Tiffin of Ohio and the Legislature, then in Session at Chillicothe, immediately passed an act entitled "An act to prevent certain acts hostile to the peace and tranquility of the United States within the jurisdiction of the State of Ohio." 
     Under this act Governor Tiffin ordered out the militia in the adjoining territory, under command of Major General Buell with instruction to take possession of the boats and stores not only in the Muskingum but also of all of a suspicious character descending the Ohio.  Under this order the boats and provisions on the Muskingum and at Mar-

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ietta were placed under the guard of the militia.  Owing to these orders a considerable number of volunteers abandoned the enterprise.  Several young men at Belpre, who desired to participate in the expedition and were ambitious for adventure, resolved to make an effort to secure these boats.  One dark night they went to Marietta for that purpose.  While loosening the boats from the banks of the Muskingum they were discovered by the militia and a somewhat ludicrous but bloodless scrimage followed in the darkness; as a result the young men succeeded in getting one of the boats into the Ohio river in which they floated down to the island.  Under the authority of the proclamation of President Jefferson the Militia of Wood County, Virginia was called out and Dec. 10th Mr. Blennerhassett was informed that Colonel Hugh Phelps was expected to proceed to the island on the next day to take possession of the persons, as well as of boats and stores.  Alarmed by these reports Mr. Blennerhassett and his followers resolved to leave the island that night.  Hasty preparations were made and although the cold was intense, the flotilla with about forty men and a considerable supply of arms and provisions cut loose from the island about midnight and floated down the river, expecting to receive additional recruits at the mouth of the Cumberland river and to be led forward in the enterprise by Aaron Burr.  The Governor of Kentucky had also been aroused by the proclamation of the President and Mr. Burr was compelled to hasten his departure so that the flotillas, when united, consisted of only four boats.  This flotilla proceeded down the Ohio and also a considerable distance down the Mississippi but in the end proved a complete failure.  The men were scattered, Mr. Burr and Mr. Blennerhassett were both arrested for treason and a trial was held the next year before the Supreme Court of the United States at Richmond, Virginia.  The trial was one of the most celebrated in the annals of that Court.  The result was an acquittal as the evidence was not considered sufficient to convict them.  Both men however suffered severely in the loss of property and reputation.  The Blennerhassett family never returned to their island home.  Later the property was sold to pay debts and the buildings were destroyed by fire.  It seems to be the verdict of historians that Mr. and Mrs. Blennerhassett were captivated by the allurements of Aaron Burr.  They were

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made to believe that their endowments fitted them for much larger things, than could be realized on their island home, but that a state might be created in which they would be leaders.  Their property was involved and the enterprise inaugurated to gratify that ambition with no real intention of any treasonable purposes against the government.
     As before stated the ostensible object of the expedition, as given to the public, was the establishment of a colony on the Washita river.
     It has been the opinion of historians from that time to the present that something much more extensive than this was contemplated by Aaron Burr.  The reasons for this opinion certainly seem very conclusive.  One of these is that the plan of preparation involved the enlistment of fifteen hundred or two thousand men, armed and equipped with implements of war, and provisions for a considerable campaign in a warm, moist climate, with no preparations for surveying, clearing, or cultivating land or for removing or settling families.
     Again Colonel Burr was a man of so large and so selfish ambitions it is not thought likely that he would make so large preparations for an enterprise which did not promise larger emoluments either of honor or wealth than could be expected from a colony in a wilderness.  Then, when they feared arrest by the civil authorities, they did not attempt to explain their real object, but hastened away secretly.  It was well known that the representatives of Spain had put forth strenuous efforts for nearly a score of years to prevail upon the states bordering on the Mississippi river to secede from the union and become a part of the Spanish province of Florida.  Many public men in these states were in favor of that movement.  Among these was General James Wilkinson who, while holding a position in the United States Army, had been for many years an agent for Spain and received an annual stipend from that government.  Subsequent revelations have provided abundant evidence of the extent of his treason.  It is known that Burr was in secret consultation with Wilkinson on each of his trips down the valley, and that he also held a cypher correspondence with him.  General Wilkinson so far turned States evidence that he was one of the principal witnesses against Burr on the trial for treason.

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     No one will doubt that in giving his testimony he would avoid all statements which would criminate himself.  This fact connected with the well known sentiment of many western politicians at that time may be one reason why the verdict of "not guilty" was rendered at the trial of Colonel Burr.
     In a letter written by Mr. Blennerhassett a few years later to Governor Alston, a son-in-law of Colonel Burr, and a partner in the enterprise he speaks of making known the facts "relative to Mr. Burrs designs against New Orleans and Mexico."  These words so far confirm the evidence already mentioned that they seem to justify the conclusion that Col. Burr contemplated a conquest of the Spanish Floridas, or uniting with them the western States in a new nation, or a conquest of Mexico, or perhaps in case of a war with Spain, which was at that time thought imminent, the accomplishment of both schemes and the founding of a great Southern Empire under the leadership of Burr, Blennerhassett, and Wilkinson.  While this enterprise and its results are only remotely related to the history of Belpre a considerable number of young men from Belpre enlisted in the expedition and, owing to the locality, the mere mention of Belpre suggests to many minds the account of Mr. Blennerhassett
     At the time there was a ludicrous as well as a serious side to the affair which gave rise to certain parodies in the newspapers as well as practical jokes on the militia.  Thinking other boats laden with men, arms, or provisions might come down the river a guard was stationed at the foot of Greene Street in Marietta with a loaded cannon.  One dark night, when the river was nearly closed with ice, a light was seen slowly moving down the river among the ice cakes.  This was carefully watched and when opposite the guard house a challenge was given in most approved nautical terms. This was repeated three times and no response having been made a torch was applied to the six pounder and immediately the surrounding hills reechoed the sound.  This arroused the sleeping citizens in all the region, who supposed the war was actually begun, and rushed out in all conditions of dress to learn what was the occasion for the alarm.  Next morning an old boat was found lodged in the ice in which were the remains of a fire which had been kindled in it the previous night.



Blennerhassett Papers Page 105.


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