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 16 – Native Americans

Sufferers’ Land

Native Americans

by Dave Barton

When the Benedict family arrived in Norwalk, open warfare with Native Americans had ceased, but tension remained. Hunting parties of Indians visited the area frequently. Often they supplied the settlers, who for the most part did not hunt, with deer and other game. Sometimes these natives would wander into homes, scaring settlers half to death. In later years, Sally Benedict described a late night intrusion of her home.

Techumseh

Rusler, William, A Standard History of Allen County, Volume I; The American Historical Society, Chicago, IL and New York, NY; 1921; page 91

One night the loud barking of our dog attracted our attention, followed by a knock at the door; on opening which, in stalked a large Indian, dressed in furs and blanket, and fully armed. The children huddled close to me, as he came near and asked for “Daddy.” He was evidently intoxicated, and I did not dare let him know that “Daddy” was not at home. I asked him to sit down, but he preferred to stretch himself before the fire, where he soon fell asleep.

When he awoke, he was nearly sober, and quite inclined to be talkative. He told me of the many wrongs the Indians had suffered; that the white man had planted corn over his father’s bones, and the poor old Indian wept. Finally, he started up, exclaiming, “Daddy no come. You go sleep. I go to my brother’s,” and he went away. Sleep was a stranger to our eyes that night. We kept ourselves in readiness for flight, for we expected the “red-face” would return with his brothers, and murder us all. The riches of a Kingdom would not repay me for another such night of anxiety. [1]

Sally’s concern about her late night visitor may seem humorous now. But only a few years previously, Indian raids during the War of 1812 had resulted in many deaths and the flight of settlers out of the Firelands. In 1819, Sally and the other residents of Norwalk were witness to an event that made them wonder if those days of war were about to return.

 

Footnotes:
[1] Quote of Sarah Benedict’s description of a visit to her home by a Native American is from Family, by Ian Frazier, p. 58, & History of the Firelands, by W.W. Williams, 1879, p. 175.

 

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Sufferers’ Land – Post 15 – The Episcopal Church in Norwalk

Sufferers’ Land

The Episcopal Church in Norwalk

by Dave Barton

As with everything else in the early days of the village of Norwalk, Platt and Sally Benedict were involved in the religious life of the community. Although they were not baptized when they arrived, they saw the need for a church in Norwalk, and decided to establish one.

In 1818, they hosted the first Episcopal service in their cabin, consisting of the reading of the Episcopal Church service, and a sermon by a layman. These lay meetings continued for years, first in private homes, and later in the Court House.

In 1820, Platt and Sally organized the first Sabbath School in the Court House. Most of the children of the town attended this non-denominational school. It would be years before a minister arrived in the village, but in the meantime, thanks to Platt and Sally’s initiative, a vibrant religious community developed.

Sunday, January 20, 1821, a minister named Reverend Searle visited the village for the first time and called a meeting to organize a new parish. Seventeen men attended, with Platt, of course, taking the lead. They decided to call the new parish, Saint Paul’s, and elected wardens and vestrymen. They elected Platt vestryman, and selected him to be a representative of the new parish to the fourth annual Diocesan Convention.

Reverend Searle could not stay in the parish, so he selected lay readers to carry out services in his absence. Platt, as usual, was one of those selected. Services continued every Sunday, with Reverend Searle occasionally attending to give Holy Communion and perform baptisms. The Bishop also visited the parish from time to time, so often that Sally’s son David ran away from home once because he was tired of polishing the bishop’s boots. [1]

During one visit, Sunday, February 17, 1822, Reverend Searle baptized Platt Benedict into the church. The next day, he held a meeting of the vestry in the Benedict home. He selected Rufus Murray to perform divine service in the parish once he became qualified. Reverend Searle continued to visit St. Paul’s parish occasionally, his last visit coming in 1826. [2]

During this time, a deacon by the name of S.A. Bronson also served the parish. He later recalled the religious life in Norwalk at the time. My first visit to this place was in 1825, to supply as far as a layman could, the place of a clergyman. No settled minister of any name had ever resided here, and only the Episcopal Church had attempted to keep up regular services. When, subsequently, a clergyman did become resident here, the regularity of the services depended upon the established forms of religion, as conducted by laymen. Many of you, no doubt, remember the old white court house, and cousin Ami Keeler with his tin horn, with which he used to call the people to worship — a horn more truly spiritual than some of more recent date. [3]

By this time, the parish conducted weekly services and had a strong Sunday school program for the religious education of all the children of the village, not just those of families in the parish. If not for Sally and Platt Benedict, none of this would have happened.

 

 

Footnotes:
[1] Story of David Benedict running away from home is from the undated text of an address given by Eleanor Wickham to the Sally DeForest chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
[2] First religious services in Norwalk and the early history of St. Paul’s Parish are described in detail by C.E. Newman in The Firelands Pioneer, Sept. 1876, pp. 45-47. The establishment of the Sabbath School is described in the above article and in The Firelands Pioneer, June 1867, p. 84.
[3] “Address of Rev. S.A. Bronson, D.D.” The Firelands Pioneer, November 1859, p. 7.

Note: Mary L. Stewart of Norwalk, a parishioner at St.Paul’s Episcopal Church, kindly assisted with this post.

 

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Sufferers’ Land – Post 14 – The Gallup Family in Norwalk

Sufferers’ Land

The Gallup Family in Norwalk

by Dave Barton

In 1818, the Gallup brothers, William and Hallet, came from Avery to Norwalk when the County Seat moved there. They were cabinetmakers, originally from Pennsylvania. The brothers lost their father in 1807 when Hallet was only ten years old. He lived with an uncle in Philadelphia for six years and then joined the army during the War of 1812,

Battle of Put in Bay

Perry transferring from the Lawrence to the Niagara. In the Public Domain. From Wikipedia Commons

serving under Harrison in the artillery on an expedition through Northern Ohio. From shore, he heard the sound of guns during Perry’s victory over the British in the Battle of Put-in-Bay and afterwards saw wrecks of British vessels along the shore.

Hallet liked what he saw in Northern Ohio. After the war, he moved with his brother to Avery, determined to make his fortune.
After moving to Norwalk from Avery in 1818, Hallet quickly became involved in the life of the village and the county. In 1819, he became County Collector of Taxes, a thankless and dangerous job, especially in the northwest part of the county.

Because of his involvement in the political and social life of the village of Norwalk, he became acquainted with the Benedict family. He took a fancy to Clarissa, and in the end won her heart. In 1820, they married and built a house on the corner of Foster and East Main where they raised eight children. [1]

Hallet used his experience as a carpenter to go into the construction business, erecting many of the public buildings in Norwalk. He was an inventive man, constructing many useful machines and becoming involved in various manufacturing ventures, to include one producing chairs in a barn on Foster Avenue. [2]

Clarissa remained devoted to her parents. She spent much of her time in their home, and her children were born there. Clarissa became a pillar of the community, especially in her support of the Episcopal Church, which her parents founded soon after arriving in Norwalk.

 

 

Footnotes:
[1] Descriptions of the birth, early life and marriage of Hallet & Clarissa Gallup are from their obituaries in The Firelands Pioneer, July 1878, pp. 103-4. Other details are from “Norwalk, Its Men and Women, and Some of the Girls I have Met,” by William Wickham, The Firelands Pioneer, December 1918, pp. 2110-11.
[2] From “Did You Know,” by James H. Williams, The Firelands Pioneer, June 1937, p. 172.

 

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Sufferers’ Land – Post 13 – Clarissa Benedict

Sufferers’ Land

Clarissa Benedict

by Dave Barton

Clarissa Benedict came to Norwalk at the age of twenty. She was born in North Salem, New York in 1796, and although she spent much of her childhood and youth in Danbury,

clarissa-benedict-firelands-pioneer

Clarissa Bendict

Connecticut, she and her family also lived for a time in New York City.

A photograph taken later in life shows a woman with regular features and a kindly expression. [1] Contemporary accounts described her as comely and compassionate.

Mary Ann Morse, who attended school with Jonas and Eliza Ann Benedict, recalled that Clarissa Benedict came down to watch with and take care of my mother, who was very sick. I looked upon her as some superior being, for I had never seen young ladies much, and she was so gentle and lovely that she won my heart at once. [2]

After moving so much as a child, the trek into the wilderness probably was not as wrenching for Clarissa as we might expect; certainly better than it was for young women like Laura Denton, who left lifelong friends, as well as family. Still, the adventure must have been trying for someone Clarissa’s age.

Life on the frontier differed greatly from that in settled communities of Connecticut. The first winter must have been especially hard, alone with her family on the sand ridge more than a mile from the nearest neighbor. However, starting in the spring of 1818, a community began to take shape on the sand ridge and opportunities for entertainment became available. Young men indulged in skating and swimming-races, foot races, huskings and shooting matches; gallantly accompanying the pretty girls in spring to the sugar camp, or in autumn along the river banks and hills to gather in the yearly supply of nuts and wild fruits. The more advanced and dignified indulged in hunting, fishing, cabin raisings, chopping matches, and rolling bees.

Women, young and old, found diversion and companionship while participating in the more elevated pastime of quilting, sewing bees, pumpkin pearings, singing schools and sleigh riding. [3]

Young men and women found these meetings a good place to get acquainted, and many of these liaisons blossomed into romance. Perhaps it was at one of these events that Clarissa Benedict met her beau.

 

 

Footnotes:
[1] Photograph of Clarissa Benedict is in The Firelands Pioneer, December 1899, p. 541.
[2] Description of Clarissa Benedict as a young woman are from “Recollections of Northern Ohio,” by Mrs. John Kennan, The Firelands Pioneer, October 1896, p. 85.
[3] Diversions for men and women on the frontier are described in The Firelands Pioneer, June 1858, p. 6

 

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Sufferers’ Land – Post 10 – A Village is Born on the Sand Ridge

Sufferers’ Land

A Village is Born on the Sand Ridge

by Dave Barton

That fall, Captain Enos Gilbert and his family arrived in Norwalk. They bought the unfinished house started by Amos Abbott, and, until it was finished, lived in a shanty workers had constructed while making bricks for Platt. The court met while the Gilberts were still in the shanty, and they boarded several members of the court there. The rest of the court stayed with the Benedicts or with David and Mary Underhill in their house a few miles to the west in Ridgefield Township. The Benedict house was so crowded that the boarders lay spoon fashion on the floor. Even then, there was not enough room for everyone and one of the lawyers slept sitting in a chair.

Soon after the court met, Enos Gilbert finished his house and several other settlers moved onto the ridge. In October, a young woman passing through the village on her way to David and Laura Underhill’s homestead saw but a few buildings – one store, two or three dwelling houses, an unfinished court house, and a tavern, consisting of three or four rooms below, and a place to dance above. It was kept by Enos Gilbert. [1]

The rest of that year and early in 1819, new settlers moved onto the sand ridge, building houses and stores in the settlement.

Businesses also started on the outskirts of town. A gristmill was erected on Reed’s Creek, one and three-quarters miles south of the village, and Platt and a settler named Obadiah Jenney built a sawmill a half mile south of town. Captain Peter Tice started a distillery just south of where the Courthouse is now. These three industries were essential to the new settlement. The sawmill made lumber out of logs and the gristmill and distillery turned corn into a marketable commodity.

That summer, Platt built a two story house in front of the cabin, using the brick he had had made the previous year. In July, he became Postmaster for Norwalk, and established the Post Office in his new home. The first mailbag he received contained only a single letter. [2]

Now the Benedict home would be the center of the social and business life of the community, the place where settlers in the village and nearby farms would stop for mail and news of the village and the outside world.

The town continued to grow. All the trades and businesses required to support the court and those who worked in it arrived — Druggist, Jeweler, Tavern Keeper, Baker, Carpenters and Joiners, Master Masons, Tanners, Couriers, Shoemaker, Cabinet maker, Hatter, Saddler and Harness maker. [3]

Around 1820, the first school in the village of Norwalk began in the shanty on Platt and Sally’s property, built two years before by the workers who made bricks for their new house. Eight or ten students attended, including Jonas and Eliza Ann Benedict. [4]

That same year, a man passing through town reported that Norwalk village was small, but appeared thriving, with one or two stores doing a fair business. Enos Gilbert, afterwards Sheriff, kept tavern in the frame building since occupied as a hotel by Obadiah Jenney, and now standing next west of Whittlesey block. – There was no church building. The houses were all on Main Street, and north of that was low, marshy ground with no settlers on it. Natural trees, chiefly oaks, were growing in Main Street, and after passing the center of the village the track became very narrow, worming among the trees. [5]

Norwalk had become a thriving village, but the level of growth Platt and Sally dreamed of had not materialized. After the initial burst of immigration, the flow of settlers dwindled as people bypassed the Firelands for lands further west.

Years later, an early settler explained what happened. About the time of the first settlements in this vicinity, in consequence of the favorable reports which the few who had got into the country made to their friends east to encourage them hither, the land owners got the impression that there was a great speculation to be made in their lands, they at once put them up to about double the price of government lands, and the result was to push the tide of emigration still farther West, where they could get lands for the sum of ten shillings per acre; this could be done by crossing the county line West into Seneca and Sandusky counties, yet the crowd was for Michigan. [6]

Norwalk would not grow as fast as Platt and Sally had hoped, at least not yet. For the time being, they would continue to grow their businesses as best they could, adapting to life on the frontier, and turning the little village on the sand ridge into a civilized town.

 

 

Footnotes:
[1] “Scattered Sheaves – No. 4, by Ruth – Maj. Underhill”, The Firelands Pioneer, September, 1860, p. 43.
[2] Descriptions of the first few years in Norwalk are from “Memoirs of Townships – Norwalk,” by Platt Benedict, The Firelands Pioneer, May 1859, p. 20.
[3] “Memoirs of Townships – Portland,” by F.D. Parish, The Firelands Pioneer, March 1859, p. 21.
[4] “Memoirs of Townships – Norwalk,” by Platt Benedict, The Firelands Pioneer, May 1859, p. 21.
[5] “A Journey from New England to the Firelands 55 Years Ago,” The Firelands Pioneer, October 1874, p. 88.
[6] “Memoirs of Townships – Fitchville, by J.C. Curtis, Esq., The Firelands Pioneer, May 1859, p. 33.

 

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