Sufferers’ Land – Post 23 – The Preston and Taylor Families

Sufferers’ Land

The Preston and Taylor Families

by Dave Barton

Like the Benedicts, Lucy’s family traced its ancestry to the early days of the colonies. Her father’s family first came to America in 1672. In 1728, Captain Samuel Preston, the fourth generation of Prestons in America, settled in Littleton Massachusetts. He was an influential man in the community, serving as Town Treasurer and in other offices. In 1755, he participated in the Crown Point Expedition during the French and Indian War.

Captain Preston’s son was Doctor John Preston, who also fought in the French and Indian War. He was in his father’s company in 1756, then, in 1759, served as surgeon’s mate in another unit. In 1760, he settled in New Ipswich, New Hampshire where he practiced medicine. On November 29, 1764, he married Rebecca Farrar, and together they raised eleven children.

Like his father, Doctor Preston had an active public life. He served on the first board of selectmen of New Ipswich, and often represented the town in the General Court, or state legislature. In 1782, he was a member of the Convention that drew up the State Constitution. He had a good sense of humor and a quick wit. Lucy never knew her Grandfather Preston. He died in 1803, eleven years before she was born. [1]

Lucy’s father, Samuel Preston, the seventh child of Doctor John and Rebecca, was born on June 24, 1778 in New Ipswich, New Hampshire. He was not a soldier like his father and grandfather — or a physician, either. Instead, he entered the printing trade early in life, starting as a boy working for the Palladium in Boston, then continuing in the business back in New Hampshire.

In 1796, when he was not yet eighteen, he began his own newspaper, the Village Messenger, in Amherst, New Hampshire. In 1801, he sold the business and moved to Nashua, New Hampshire, where, in 1804, he married Esther Taylor, daughter of Timothy and Esther. The remainder of his life, his affairs were intertwined with that of his wife’s family. [2]

The Taylor family came to New England before 1700 and resided in New Hampshire. Lucy’s Grandsire, Timothy Taylor, was born in 1754 in Merrimac, New Hampshire and was a soldier in the American Revolution. In 1776, he married a widow, Mrs. Esther Toothaker, who had lost her husband the year before. Esther was the daughter of Benjamin and Molly French. The French family was also a distinguished old New England family. [3]

Timothy and Esther had four children, Gilpin, Benjamin, Fannie and Esther. After the children were born, they moved to Nashua, New Hampshire, where they lived for many years. Now they were moving again, off to the wilds of the Ohio frontier.

 

 

Footnotes:
[1] History of the Preston family is from the Family History: Wickham, Benedict, Preston & Deaver, by Agnes & Harriott Wickham, edited by Dave Barton, 2006 pp. 36-38.

[2] Early life of Samuel Preston is from his obituary in The Firelands Pioneer, December 1918, pp. 2187-8.

[3] History of the Taylor family is from the Family History: Wickham, Benedict, Preston & Deaver, by Agnes & Harriott Wickham, edited by Dave Barton, 2006 p. 40.

NOTE; Please see the Preston, Taylor, French, Farrer, Hassell, Lovewell, Converse, Blanchard, Prescott, and Sawyer genealogy pages on this site for more information about those families.

 

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Sufferers’ Land – Post 22 – Lucy Preston

Sufferers’ Land

Lucy Preston

by Dave Barton

In 1819, five-year-old Lucy Preston lived in Nashua, New Hampshire with her parents Samuel and Esther Preston, her brother Charles, her grandparents Grandsire Timothy Taylor and Grandma Esther Taylor, and her little dog Nero. Lucy had lived in Nassau all her life and had probably never thought about leaving. However, leave she would.

Lucy was precious to Esther and Samuel. She was the fourth of five children born to Esther, but the eldest still living. Several years previously, her parents had lost two children to disease within four days, George Preston on January 14, 1815 at age ten and Charles Preston [1] four days later at the age of two. Lucy did not remember these brothers, but she did remember her older sister Catherine, who had died the year before at the age of eight. [2]

Early in 1819, Lucy’s parents began talking about opportunities in Ohio. They were disappointed with their situation in the east, and hearing stories about the richness of the soil and the moderate climate in Ohio, they decided to move there.

Unbroken Forest

The Ohio Wilderness

When Lucy told her friends where she was going, they were horrified, and feared for her life. They told her fanciful stories about the wilderness and described the Indians living there as four-legged creatures, like bears and wolves, which would devour her. Lucy believed these stories and begged her parents not to take her. However, she had no choice. The entire extended family — her parents, grandparents, and her Uncle Benjamin and Aunt Juliet Taylor — were all going. In the summer of 1816, they sold their homes and household goods and left Nashua.

They did not go west together. Lucy and her parents, her grandmother and her brother Charles moved just down the road to Pepperell, Massachusetts to stay with friends. Grandsire Taylor, Uncle Benjamin and Aunt Juliet, who was pregnant, continued on west to prepare a home for them in the wilds of Ohio. [3]

 

Footnotes:
[1] Lucy’s younger brother was also named Charles. In those days of high infant mortality, the name of a child who died young was often given to another child born later.
[2] Information about the deaths of Lucy Preston’s elder siblings is from the Family History: Wickham, Benedict, Preston & Deaver, by Agnes and Harriott Wickham, edited by Dave Barton, 2006, pp. 37-38.
[3] The story of the Preston family’s journey to the Firelands are from the “Memoir of Mrs. Lucy Preston Wickham,” The Firelands Pioneer, January 1920, pp. 2394-2399.

The image of the Ohio Wilderness is from from Rusler, William, A Standard History of Allen County, Volume I; The American Historical Society, Chicago, IL and New York, NY; 1921; page 227.

 

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Sufferers’ Land – Post 21 – Trial and Punishment

Sufferers’ Land

Trial and Punishment

by Dave Barton

The Huron County Court of Common Pleas convened on Tuesday, May 18 at the Court House in Norwalk. A Grand Jury met the same day. Two days later, they indicted the three Indians for first-degree murder.

The trial began the day after the indictment. A crowd assembled, so many that a large number had to stand outside in the yard. Being a prominent member of the community, Platt secured a seat inside, and later gave Sally a first hand account.

He seemed to have witnessed a fair trial. After hearing only a portion of the evidence, the prosecutor dropped the charge against the boy Negossum and released him, to the applause of the audience.

The evidence against the other two Indians was compelling, however, and after a short deliberation, the jury found them guilty. The judge asked if they had anything to say before he passed sentence, but they refused to speak. He sentenced them to be hanged on Friday, July first, and had them led back to jail to await execution.

Sally and the other settlers were curious how the Indians were taking their impending deaths. They learned that the two men were particularly concerned about hanging, which they considered an ignominious death. To discover what it felt like, they practiced choking each other until they almost passed out. The results disturbed them and they became so depressed that the sheriff, in sympathy, gave them whisky to dull their anguish.

The day of execution dawned warm and sultry. Early that morning, settlers from all over the county assembled around the gallows, erected on a knoll behind where St. Paul’s Episcopal Church now stands. Seven or eight Indians from the condemned men’s tribe arrived to witness the execution, including several who had assisted in recapturing the prisoners after their escape.

At the appointed time, the condemned men approached the knoll, escorted by a rifle company commanded by Captain Burt. They were dressed in shrouds and were intoxicated, having begged for whisky earlier that morning. After mounting the gallows and having nooses placed around their necks, the men were asked if they wished to say anything. Negosheek mumbled a few words. The men dropped to their deaths and several women turned away and began to cry.

After they were dead, the authorities took down their bodies, placed them in coffins, and buried them on the knoll. The Rifle Company and civil officials marched to Captain Boalt’s house. He treated them to a big dinner, and they listened to a funeral discourse, a rather macabre scene to us, but probably considered appropriate at the time.

For months afterwards, the settlers of the Firelands worried that friends of the executed Indians would exact revenge. Platt, not having a gun, kept a sharpened hoe hanging near his front door against such an eventuality. However, perhaps because the court had found the boy Negossum innocent, the Indians felt that justice had been done. They never attacked.

As time went on, settlers cleared the forests and farms replaced the Native American’s traditional hunting grounds. In 1843, the remaining tribes departed Ohio for reservations further west. Their time had passed. [1]

Goodbye to Old Hunting Grounds

Rusler, William, A Standard History of Allen County, Volume I; The American Historical Society, Chicago, IL and New York, NY; 1921; page 137.

 

 

Footnotes:
[1] The account of the murders of John Wood and George Bishop and the capture, trial and execution of their killers is from an article by W.C. Allen in The Firelands Pioneer, Old Series, Volume VI, The Firelands Historical Society, June 1865, pp. 43-52, and from Baughman, A.J., History of Huron County Ohio: Its Progress and Development, Volume I, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, IL, 1909; pp. 144-145. Platt Benedict’s reaction to this incident is described by him in “Memoirs of Townships – Norwalk,” The Firelands Pioneer, Old Series, Volume I, Number 4, The Firelands Historical Society, May 1859, p. 21.

 

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A Terrible Harmony

Armistice RailcarIn Compiègne, France, at 5 a.m. ninety-nine years ago today, the allies signed an armistice with Germany that was to take effect in six hours – “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” How many men died in those next six hours to achieve that numeric harmony?

Today, let us remember those men – and all others who have died in this thing we call war.

 

Note: Photo is of the rail car where the Armistice was signed. From Wikimedia Commons. In the public domain.

Sufferers’ Land – Post 20 – Recapture

Sufferers’ Land

Recapture

by Dave Barton

A day or two after the return of Negonaba, Sally and the other townspeople were relieved when Captain Burt, accompanied by Constable Charles Tupper of Danbury Township and several other men, walked into town, leading Negosheek by a rope tied around him.

Before putting him back into custody, the men searched the Indian and found a small knife secreted in his clothes. Captain Burt told them he had searched the Indian at the time of his capture, but that Negosheek’s squaw must have slipped him the knife before they departed the Indian’s village.

Pioneers and Indians

Rusler, William, A Standard History of Allen County, Volume I; The American Historical Society, Chicago, IL and New York, NY; 1921; page 139.

After returning Negosheek to the makeshift jail with the wounded Negonaba, Captain Burt told his story to the assembled populace of the village. Arriving on the Miami River, the three men went to the Indian camp where Negosheek and Negossum lived. John Flemmond introduced Captain Burt, who had dressed in an impressive military uniform, as Governor of Ohio, and demanded that the chief turn over Negosheek and Negossum to him.

This ruse worked, and the chief brought Negosheek to them. The chief promised that he would have the boy Negossum brought to Norwalk in a few days, but also told them that Negossum was not guilty. Through the interpreter, the two captains assured the chief that the boy would receive a fair trial, and if the court found him innocent, they would release him.

Leaving Captain Boalt and John Flemmond behind to wait for the boy Negossum, Captain Burt led Negosheek north toward Lake Erie accompanied by a party of Indians. The weather had turned rainy, and the men slogged through the wilderness, cold, wet and miserable. After a day’s travel, the party stopped for the night and Captain Burt tried unsuccessfully to start a fire. He used sign language to ask the Indians accompanying him to do it, promising them a quart of whisky if they did. An Indian poured gunpowder on the wood, and used flint and steel to try to start a fire. The powder ignited suddenly in the Indian’s face causing him to jump several feet into the air.

When they reached the shore of Lake Erie, the Indians accompanying him turned back, and Captain Burt continued alone through the forest with his captive. Once, Negosheek tried to break away, but Captain Burt, who was a large man, grabbed him and shook him harshly. After that, he had no more trouble with him.

After going nine or ten miles along the lakeshore, Captain Burt arrived at Constable Charles Tupper’s cabin at the mouth of the Portage River. Charles was relieved to see him and his prisoner, and after hearing Captain Burt’s story, agreed to accompany him the rest of the way to Norwalk.

A day or two after Captain Burt returned to Norwalk with Negosheek, Captain John Boalt and John Flemmond arrived with Negossum, whom the chief of the tribe had turned over to them as promised. They put the boy into jail with his companions to await trial. [1]

 

 

Footnotes:
[1] The account of the murders of John Wood and George Bishop and the capture, trial and execution of their killers is from an article by W.C. Allen in The Firelands Pioneer, June 1865, pp. 43-52, and from Baughman, A.J., History of Huron County Ohio: Its Progress and Development, Volume I, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, IL, 1909; pp. 144-145.

 

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Sufferers’ Land – Post 19 – A Grim Comedy of Errors

Sufferers’ Land

A Grim Comedy of Errors

by Dave Barton

One night, a week after the prisoners came to Norwalk, gunshots and cries of alarm awakened the village. Platt Benedict rushed from his home, leaving Sally and the children to huddle in the cabin, wondering what was going on. When he returned, he had frightening news — the Indians had escaped.

It had been a comedy of errors. After midnight, Negonaba asked Charles Soules, who was on guard at the time, to remove his shackles and allow him to go outside to relieve himself. Charles did so, not realizing that somehow Negosheek and Negossum had managed to slip out of their shackles earlier in the evening. When Soules and Negonaba left the cabin, the other two Indians made their escape. Soules saw them and raised the alarm. Negonaba ran away and Soules shot at him, which woke the town. Although he could not be sure, he told the townspeople that he thought he had hit his target.

Platt and the other men of the village searched for the escaped prisoners, but they were gone. For the next several days, the inhabitants of the county were terrified, wondering where the suspected murderers might turn up. Then, several days later, an old hunter named Pumphrey came into town leading Negonaba, who had wounds to his hip and shoulder. Charles Soules had hit his mark.

Unbroken Forest

“Unbroken Allen County Forest,” Rusler, William, A Standard History of Allen County, Volume I; The American Historical Society, Chicago, IL and New York, NY; 1921; page 227

Pumphrey told the assembled villagers that a young man named John Hawk, who was hunting on the western boundary of the county, saw a wounded Indian drinking from a pool of water. He captured him and turned him over to Pumphrey who brought him to Norwalk.

The townspeople placed Negonaba back in shackles in Daniel Raitt’s cabin, and sent for a Doctor Tilden to treat his wounds. When the doctor finished treating Negonaba, Daniel Raitt took charge of nursing him back to health, a task he performed so well that his neighbors from then on referred to him as “Doctor Raitt.”

Sally and the rest of the town were relieved that one of the murderers was back in custody, but were concerned that the other two were still at large. Immediately after the escape, Captain John Boalt, who had settled in Norwalk Township just before the Benedicts, started for the Miami River in company with Captain Henry Burt of Monroeville and the interpreter John Flemmond. However, so far, they had not returned.

Sally and Platt worried for their friend off on such a hazardous mission. Sally was also concerned about how Ruth Boalt was handling this. They were together often, and Sally and the other women of the village helped Ruth the best they could.

She and the rest of the villagers prayed that he would return safely. [1]

 

 

Footnotes:
[1] The account of the murders of John Wood and George Bishop and the capture, trial and execution of their killers is from an article by W.C. Allen in The Firelands Pioneer, June 1865, pp. 43-52, and from Baughman, A.J., History of Huron County Ohio: Its Progress and Development, Volume I, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, IL, 1909; pp. 144-145.

 

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Sufferers’ Land – Post 18 – Crime and Capture

Sufferers’ Land

Crime and Capture

by Dave Barton

The Portage River was a traditional passage for Indians traveling from the Maumee River to Lake Erie. Around the middle of April, three Indians, Negosheek (Ne-go-sheek), Negonaba (Ne-gon-a-ba) and Negossum (Ne-gos-sum), passed by John Wood and George Bishop’s cabin on their way down the river.

Negosheek was the eldest and the leader of the group. He had the reputation of not being able to handle liquor. Negonaba, also an adult, was easily influenced by his friend when drunk. Negossum, being only sixteen or eighteen, was afraid of his older companions, and inclined to do whatever they told him.

The three Indians continued to the mouth of the Portage River where they stayed for several days. They bought whiskey and started back up the river toward their homes. On the way, Negosheek decided they should attack and kill John Wood and George Bishop and steal their furs and other belongings.

log-cabin-imageJust before dawn on Wednesday, April twenty-first, while the boy Negossum waited outside, the two elder Indians crept into the trappers’ cabin and murdered them in their sleep with tomahawks. When the men were dead, Negosheek called Negossum into the cabin and had him strike one of the bodies on the leg with a hatchet so the boy would feel he had participated in the murders.

The Indians looted the cabin, and after hiding some of the murdered trappers’ possessions along a nearby creek and selling their furs, they started for home. On the way, they encountered a half-breed Indian named Chazee traveling down the river, and told him what they had done. Chazee stopped at Bishop and Wood’s cabin and found their bodies. He continued to the mouth of the river and told Charles Tupper, a constable who lived there, about the murders.

Judge Truman Pettibone, the Justice of the Peace in Danbury Township, issued a warrant of arrest for the Indians, and Charles raised a posse to pursue them. The posse tracked them to a village on the Miami River and the Indians living there turned the three suspects over to them.

The posse returned to Danbury Township, where Judge Pettibone questioned the Indians with the assistance of an interpreter named John Flemmond. Convinced of their guilt, he sent them on to the County Seat in Norwalk to stand trial.

The arrival of the Indians created quite a stir among the inhabitants of Norwalk and the surrounding vicinity. One can imagine Platt and other men of the village visiting the jail to see the prisoners. Seeing face to face these men who had committed murder raised fears of further raids, and enhanced the terror that Sally Benedict had felt when visited by an Indian late at night.

It is a testimony to the sense of fairness and the importance of the rule of law to the Connecticut pioneers that they did not attempt to lynch the three Indians. Many conflicts between Native Americans and settlers ended when mobs of angry men took the law into their own hands. In this case, however, the record is clear that the settlers were determined to give the prisoners a fair trial. There was no rush to judgment, and guilt and innocence was determined after careful consideration of the facts. However, before that could happen, the Benedicts, along with the rest of their neighbors, were in for a scare. [1]

 

 

Footnotes:
[1] The account of the murders of John Wood and George Bishop and the capture, trial and execution of their killers is from an article by W.C. Allen in The Firelands Pioneer, June 1865, pp. 43-52, and from Baughman, A.J., History of Huron County Ohio: Its Progress and Development, Volume I, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, IL, 1909; pp. 144-145.

 

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