The history of every member of the surveying parties of 1796-7, has a deep interest for their descendants, a large number of whom reside in the country, of which they were the first thorough explorers. They pursued their toilsome way, during those years, over all at that part of the Reserve, east of the Cuyahoga, leaving perpetual evidence of their track through the forest, in measured lines, marked upon the trees.
Only a few of the hands employed by the company on the surveys of 1796, returned to the work in 1797. Of those who passed that year in the field, but a small portion became settlers. The formal compact of Sept. 30, 1796, in reference to the settlement in Euclid, was carried out, by not more than two. Probably the severe labors of the survey, cooled their admiration of the new country. Many of them underwent the ordeal of fever and ague, which was abundantly sufficient to damage their faith in the "promised land."
A courageous man, who might be willing to encounter this miserable disease, which prostrates every form and grade of ambition, would not willingly expose his family to it. They saw that no civil government existed, or was likely to exist. Some of the surveyors, like Spafford and Atwater, determined to take their chances, and spend their days in New Connecticut. Doan, Gun and Clark, also became settlers. Of those who returned to New England, very few were again heard of here.
At the recent pioneer meetings, the private history of a small number of them has reached us. Sanford, Culver and Morley, survived long enough to hear of those movements, to rescue from oblivion the enterprises of their youthful days.
By Alfred Morley
Kirtland, Ohio, June 7, 1858.
Mr. Whittlesey:-In reply to your enquiries in regard to Ezekiel Morley, I will answer as nearly as I can. He was an uncle of mine, not my father. He was born in Glastenbury, Connecticut, in 1758; died in Chester, Geauga County, Ohio, August 6th, 1852, lacking nine days of ninety-three years.
Emigrated for Genesee county, New York, to Chester, Ohio, in 1832. He was a Revolutionary
soldier, and drew a pension of ninety-six dollars a year. Was one of the surveying party in running the lines of the Western Reserve in 1796-'97, and assisted in erecting the first log cabin that was built in Cleveland. He supposed himself to be the first white man that saw Chagrin Falls. Enclosed you will find his signature.
My father was seventeen months older than uncle Ezekiel, and was a Revolutionary soldier. He died where I now live, aged eighty-six years and six months, having lived with the wife of his youth sixty-three years.
Statement of A.W. Perry, his son-in-law, and of R.W.
Perry, a grandson.
Shoreham, Vt., November 21, 1859.
We have consulted with Lot Sandford, who was not in the surveying party of 1796, but in that of 1797.
He was born September 5th, 1773, and was one of the party who went out to survey the Western Reserve. Amos Spafford was the chief surveyor of this party. No particular incident happened on the outward journey, except the accidental death of David Eldridge. He undertook to swim his horse
across Grand river, although strongly advised to the contrary, and the animal proving unequal to the task, Eldridge was drowned and his body carried on to Cleveland, and buried on the banks of the Cuyahoga. Sanford assisted in digging his grave, thus performing the office of sexton to the first white man who was buried in Cleveland.
The company arrived and established their head quarters, building a log house, and enclosing a garden for the purpose of raising their vegetables. Sanford laid a fence around this garden, being the first fence ever built in the town.
There had been a log hut built at this place the year previous, by the same party.
Seth Hart, the agent of the company, was left in charge of the head quarters. No incidents are mentioned while the party was out surveying except the death of Minor Bicknell, who was taken sick with fever, and was carried through the woods fifty miles before he died. He was buried near the Cuyahoga, probably about thirty miles from the present site of Cleveland.
Soon after arriving at head quarters, two more of the party-Andrews and Washburn-died, and were buried by the side of Eldridge. Several members of the company are mentioned, among whom are Samuel Spafford,(son of Amos,) and Oliver Culver, who were chainmen; Andrews was flagman, and Sanford-the subject of this sketch-went as
axman. He, with eleven others, left Cleveland the 12th of September, 1797, and returned to Orwell, Vermont, where he then lived, arriving the 3d of December. In April, 1804, he removed to a farm which he had purchased in Shoreham, Vermont, where he has since lived, being now in his eighty-sixth year.
The two Barkers, Alpheus Choat, David Clark, Oliver Culver, the two Nyes and Amos and Samuel Spafford were from Vermont; the two Giddings were from Connecticut. Sanford and Samuel Spafford chopped four acres of timber in Euclid, the first ever chopped for settlement duties.
About eight or ten years ago Job Stiles died in the town of Leicester, Addison county, Vermont. My brother has heard Stiles boast of putting up the first house in Cleveland. Sanford retains his mental faculties in a good degree, but is infirm from a paralytic stroke he had about two years since, and therefore he cannot write you, but I send you his autograph, written before. He feels a lively interest in the historical articles published in Cleveland, which are read to him. You cannot better compensate him and his wife, who still lives, than by sending him such articles."
Mr. Sanford died at Shoreham, April 20, 1860, on the farm he had cultivated since 1804, being eighty-six years and seven months of age. He there acquired a competence, living for more than fifty
years in communion with the Congregation church, of which he was a liberal supporter. His wife died in June, 1865, at the age of eighty-two.
At the pioneer celebration of October, 1858, Oliver Culver, of New York, one of the surveying party of 1797, was present, supposed to be the only survivor. Lot Sanford was, however, then alive.
The following letter gives a brief history of Culver, who may still be living.
Rochester, July 29, 1860.
John Barr, Esq.-Mr. Oliver Culver, of Brighton, today called on me, and handed me your letter on March 27th, 1860, in which you request him to state the date and place of his birth, and to send his autograph, for the Pioneer society of Cleveland. Mr. Culver would willingly send his autograph, but he can not, because for some time past, his sight his so much failed that he does not write, even his own name. In all other respects, his health continues robust and good. Mr. Culver was born at East Windsor, Hartford county, Connecticut, September 24th, 1778; and will be eighty-two years old on the 24th of September next.
When he was five years of age, soon after the peace of 1783, his father removed from
East Windsor, to Ticonderoga, N.Y. After a short residence there, he removed to Orwell, Vermont, where Mr. Culver remained with his parents, until the spring of 1797, returning home, occasionally, until 1805. In February, 1797, he hired, with his father's consent, to Amos Spafford, to accompany him with a party of surveyors to the Connecticut Company's Lands.
Early in March, 1797, he was sent by Amos Spafford, with his son Samuel Spafford, on foot, from Orwell, Vermont, to Schenectady, New York, to arrange for boats, and ascertain when they would be ready to carry the party on, from there up the Mohawk. Samuel Spafford wrote back to his father, that the Mohawk would not be clear of ice, and the boats ready to start, before the first of April: and that he and Mr. Culver would go on to Ironduquoit bay, and there camp, and hunt, until the surveying party arrived. They did so, traveling by land, on foot, well provided with arms, ammunition and provisions. At Ironduquoit bay, they camped, and boarded with Asa Dunbar, and family, a trapper, who was a mulatto man, from the Mohawk country, of whose location they were informed at Schenectady. They remained there hunting, and curing the skins taken, about six or seven weeks, until the surveying party under Mr. Spafford arrived, about the last of April.
At Queenstown their boats were drawn over land, on carriages, with teams, by some Canadians, and
launched at Chippeway, from whence they crossed to the mouth of Buffalo creek, and coasted up from there along the south shore of lake Erie. At Cleveland the party erected a log house. Mr. Culver was a chain bearer, that season at twelve dollars a month.
When cold weather arrived, the party returned to Vermont. Mr. Culver, and Samuel Spafford stopped a few weeks at Dunbar's, and continue their hunt, with the object of collecting peltries.
Late in December, after the snow became too deep for hunting, they traveled on foot to Orwell. In 1798, Mr. Culver went to Cleveland, in a party of eighteen men, employed as before, to assist in cutting out to road, to the Pennsylvania line, on which they worked that season. In 1800, he bought his present farm in Brighton, Monroe county, New York, cleared seven acres, and sowed it to wheat, and got a good crop.
Up to 1804 he was employed three years at Ironduquoit landing, by Augustus Griswold; superintending an ashery. In 1804 he went to Cleveland, with a boat load of salt, dry goods, liquors, and tobacco, &c., and opened a store. The vessel was loaded at Black Rock, freight paid, three dollars per barrel. She was built at Erie, by Seth Reed, and commended by Capt. Dobbin. In 1805, Mr. Culver, married and settled on his farm. His wife died a few weeks since. I write this by his direction.
Respectfully, yours, &c.,
When Culver, re-visited the city fifty-four years after his mercantile trip, its identity with the sickly and scattered town of 1804, could scarcely be traced. He was conveyed through long and compactly built streets, covering nearly all the ample space allotted by the surveyors for city and out-lots. When he last saw them, they were not distinguishable from the surrounding forest, except by an occasional horse trail, and by blazed lines upon the trees.
The personal history of Mr. Pease, the most prominent of the surveyors, of the Land Company, is but imperfectly transmitted to us. According to Mr. Atwater, he "was above medium height, slender and fair, with black, penetrating eyes. In his movements he was very active, and preserving in his designs, with a reflecting and thoughtful air. He was a very thorough mathematician."
FROM A LETTER OF RALPH GRANGER.
Fairport, Lake Co., O., Sept. 27, 1843.
"Seth Pease was my uncle. He was very precise in his business. Besides the minutes necessarily returned to the Company, he kept a full private journal. This I have seen, containing records of personal adventures with colored landscapes, one of which is the first residence of the surveyors at Conneaught. He also brought to Connecticut,
from Ohio, specimens of minerals, which I have seen, among them some beautiful alabaster from Sandusky. He died at Philadelphia. His wife died in Connecticut. The only children now living are Mrs. Noah A. Fletcher, of Washington City, and Alfred Pease, his youngest son, at Dayton, Montgomery county, Ohio. This journal may have been lost or mislaid."
His journals, of which a portion for the years 1795 to 1799, inclusive, are before me, show excellent penmanship, and precise business habits. In 1795 he surveyed for the State of Massachusetts, in the province of Maine. After the close of the surveys east of the Cuyahoga, in 1797, Mr. Pease, engaged with Porter, Atwater, and others of this enterprising old friends of the woods, in the allotment of the "Holland Purchase," in western New York. This service occupied two years, '98 and '99. The elections of the year 1800, resulted in the success of the "Republican," or Jefferson party, over that of the Federalists. Under Jefferson's administration, Gideon Granger, became Post Master General, and Mr. Pease, who was a brother-in-law, was made Assistant Post Master General. Judge Calvin Pease, of Warren, Trumbull county, Ohio, was his brother. In 1806, when the Indian title to that part of the Reserve west of the Cuyahoga, was extinguished, Seth Pease, was directed by the Government, to extend the southern boundary along the
41st parallel, west of the river, which he did. There is still hope of recovering more of the memoranda, to which the Hon. Ralph Granger refers. His skill as a draftsman and sketcher, and his facility in description will give them great interest.
Nathaniel Doan, was one of those of the first surveying party, who volunteered for the second year's work. He was so well pleased with the new country, that the emigrated with his family in 1798, and became one of the permanent settlers. In 1799, they fled from the miasma of the river bank, like the majority of the early residents, and settled on the Euclid road, four miles from the Cuyahoga, at the corners; where the road from Newburg intersects Euclid street. This gave rise to a hamlet, which has increased to a village, and which, until recently, was known as "Doan's Corners."
Mr. Doan was the blacksmith of the Land Company, whose business it was, during the progress of the survey, to keep their pack horses well shod. In 1798 he erected a rude a shop on the south side of Superior street.
A blacksmith is a very important member of a pioneer settlement. He is soon brought into personal settlement. He is soon brought into personal acquaintance, with all the neighboring people. His shop becomes a central point for gossip, and for more serious discussions upon public affairs.
Mr. Doan appears to have been an useful smith, and a good citizen. His name appears frequently, in the proceedings at elections and town meetings. In 1804, he was made a lieutenant in the first militia company organized here. Nathan Chapman, who was not personally connected with the surveyors, but who appears to have been on the Reserve, from the year 1796, as a surveyor of beef, and a trader, was a friend of Doan. Chapman had no family, and died at Doan's Corners in 1814. Doan died at the same place, in 1815. The widow of the late Edward Baldwin, of Cleveland, once the sheriff and treasurer of Cuyahoga county, is the daughter Nathaniel Doan.
The late Seth Doan, who was his nephew, in a statement made to James S. Clark, Esq., in January, 1841, remarks, "that a boat was dispatched in the fall of '98, down the lake, to a mill ten miles west of Erie, at Walnut creek, for flour; but it was beached and destroyed, at Euclid Point. They had occasional communications with Detroit, through straggling Frenchmen and Indians. There was, as yet, no settlement at Buffalo or Black Rock, nor any between Cleveland and the Ohio River. The one at Presque Isle, or Erie being the nearest. When we arrived, there were three or four clearings, of about two acres each. One between Water street and bluff, just north of St. Clair street; another near Stiles; house, on Bank street, and one near Hawley's
at the end of Superior street, where the "Central Buildings," (Atwater Block,) are now standing."
Although Gun, like Stiles, came to Ohio with the surveyors, and spent a large part of his life in the vicinity of Cleveland, his personal history has not been well preserved. On the approach of old age, he left the pioneer homestead, in Newburg, and removed to the Maumee river, to the residence of his son, near Napoleon, Ohio. Little has come down to us, of his occupations, and of his trials at Conneaut during the winter of 1796-'7. Both himself and his wife, appear to have endured the hardships of those days better than many of their contemporaries. His cabin, at Conneaut, was about a mile above Stow Castle, on the creek. He reached a very advanced age, nearly or quite, four score and ten, dying among his kindred, on the banks of the Maumee.
Although Augustus Porter survived all the other surveyors, and lived on the shore of lake Erie; his personal history is here imperfectly known. He appears to have attached much value, to the water power at Niagara Falls, and at the head of Niagara river, where the navigable waters of the lake terminate. After spending about ten years in the woods
as a surveyor and explorer, principally in the western part of New York, he established himself for life on the Niagara river. One reason why we are not better informed in regard to him, is given in the following extract from his letter to Judge Barr, dated at Niagara Falls, Jan. 10th, 1843.
"Had I all my original papers connected with the subject above named, such as my journal, original field notes of the survey taken on the ground, calculations on contents, geographical remarks, of persons employed, &c., &c., I should be able to give you such information, and it would give me much pleasure to do so. But unfortunately all these documents were lost in my dwelling house at this place, destroyed in 1813 by British troops."
This letter is quite lengthy, going over in much detail, the operations of 1796 in the field, which he conducted. I have made less use of it than other writers upon the pioneer times, because, being entirely a production of the memory, after the lapse of forty-seven years, it is occasionally contradicted by written evidence of the same date. Of what relates to himself he should be the best authority. He says:
"That in the early part of the year 1789, being the next year after Messrs. Gorham & Phelps, had made their great purchase of the State of Massachusetts of about six millions of acres of land, lying in the western part of the State of New York,
then known as the Genesee country, I being in the twentieth year of my age, went into the country a surveyor, and continued in the business until the winter of 1796, most of the time in the employ of Oliver Phelps. During the time from 1789 to 1796, my business led me to become particularly acquainted with the most of that section of country, the navigable streams and small lakes, and the south shores of lake Ontario, and lake Erie as far west as Presque Isle, (now Erie) in Pennsylvania, and I had had considerable experience in the navigation of those streams, and the shores of lakes Ontario and Erie, in small boats."
"In running up the first four meridians, Pease had delivered his provisions to other surveyors, excepting a small quantity sufficient to subsist on until I should meet them, which was now all exhausted, and of course we had nothing but the flour I had procured. I returned to the point where Mr. Pease had run the line, and took the direction of the survey, and continued the line to the lake. On the evening of the first day, we very fortunately, discovered one of the finest bee trees I ever saw. We encamped, cut down the tree, ate to our satisfaction, each man filled his canteen, and the residue we put in the bags of flour. Excepting for two or three days, while our honey lasted we lived on bread alone. On our arrival at the lake, we took, the beach and went east to our camp at Conneaut;
and what was remarkable, on our way there, we fell in with all three of the parties, who had each finished their lines, and joined our party."
"All things being thus arranged, and about to muster our men for a start, we found some disposition in camp to mutiny, or, what would now be called a strike for higher wages. For the purpose of settling this difficulty, Gen. Cleaveland agreed that before the close of the season, and after some of the township lines should have been run, a township should be selected and set apart, to be surveyed into lots of one hundred and sixty acres each, and each individual of the party who should choose, might have the privilege of purchasing a lot on a long credit, and at a stipulated price named, what that price was, I do not recollect. This settled the matter, and all became satisfied. The township during the season was set apart, and called Euclid; and as I am informed, still retains that name."
"On the north side of Sandusky bay, about opposite where the City of Sandusky now stands, there was a Frenchman residing with his family, and also several Indian families. On our first arrival at the bay we went to this place, remained a short time, then returned to the mouth of the bay, and resumed our traverse. Before we had reached the upper end of the beach, or sand bar, lying between the lake and bay, we fell in with a party of Indians whose actions and looks we did not much like, yet they
offered us no injury, and we passed on and concluded our traverse."
"Having returned from Sandusky bay to Cuyahoga, I remained there some time, perhaps two or three weeks, and surveyed the outlines of a piece of land designed for the town. Its dimensions I do not recollect-probably equal to about a mile square, bounding west on the river and north on the lake. I made a plat of this ground and laid it off into streets and lots. Most or all the streets I surveyed myself, when I left it in charge of Mr. Holley to complete the survey of the lots."
Mr. Holley's minutes, as far as we have them, make no reference to surveys by him on the city lots. On the fly leaf of one of the field books, in Mr. Pease's hand writing, are brief minutes of the lots, their position on the streets, and their contents. As yet these are the only original notes discovered, and they may have been transcribed by Pease, from the work of some of the other surveyors. Mr. Porter mentions the loss of a boatman belonging to his party, at Spraker's rift, on the Mohawk, killed by a fall from the mast, while he was adjusting a sail. This accident is not referred to in the journals of Pease or Holley.
"Immediately after this I commenced the traverse of the Cuyahoga river, with the intention of pursuing the whole line of boundary, as described in Wayne's treaty with the Indians, as far as the south line of the Reserve.
This line began at the mouth of the Cuyahoga, thence up the same to the portage, thence across the portage to the Tuscarawas branch of the Muskingum, thence down the same, &c. I accordingly traversed the Cuyahoga up, until it began to lead me off to the north; having kept two or three men, looking out continually along the west side of the river for the portage road, but without discovering it. The leaves having fallen and obscured the path it could not be found, and I returned to the mouth of the river."
Mr. Porter lived to a very advanced age, and died on the banks of the Niagara. He was a prominent citizen on the frontier, as most of the old surveyors were. The intelligence and energy, which are necessary to make a good surveyor in the western wilds, furnish an excellent foundation for an influential character. A large number of the leading men in the new States, and in the Indian wars, belonged to this profession, which then not only required knowledge and sense, but a reasonable stock of warlike skill and courage, to deal successfully with the aborigines. Gen. Peter B. Porter was a brother of Augustus. I regret not being able to do better justice, to the eventful life of the man who determined upon the plan of this city, and who must have surveyed some portion of it. Neither his name, or that of any of the first surveyors, has been perpetuated, in any street or place within our limits.
According to his contemporary, Atwater; Porter "was full middling in height, stout built, with a full face, and dark or rather brown complexion. In a woodman's dress, any one would see by his appearance that he was capable, and determine to go through thick and thin, in whatever business he was engaged. By the bursting of a gun, he had lost the entire thumb of his left hand."
Mr. Porter received for his services as principal surveyor, in 1796, five dollars per day, and Mr. Pease for the same services, in 1797, three and one-half.
BY THE LATE ASHBEL W WALWORTH. --- 1842.
Major Carter was a friend of liberty to the utmost. He was always found on the side of the weak and oppressed. His language was, "I hate negroes and do not want them about me." But for all that, he did have them about him, most generally those that did him the least good. He used them as well as he did other people, if they were civil and decent.
To illustrate his goodness of heart, I will relate the following facts:
Early in the spring of 1806, a canoe containing a white man, his wife and some children, and a colored man, were coming down the lake. The canoe was upset and all drowned but the colored man, called Ben, between this place and Rocky river.
Ben was a large man, and reached the iron bound shore, where there was an old tree which had tumbled down the rocks; he climbed up it so far as to be clear of the water, and then stayed until he was discovered by some boatmen. When taken off he was almost insensible, his feet and limbs were much frozen, and he was brought to Major Carter's house in that situation. He had no money, and all the clothes he had were not worth three dollars. The Major took care of him, as he would one of his children, all summer. The rheumatism drew his limbs out of shape, and I think his toes were frozen off. Although he hobbled about a little in the fall, I do not think he was able to render the least assistance to the Major.
Some time in October, 1806, there came to Cleveland two Kentucky gentlemen, well mounted, and stopped at Major Spafford's, who lived where the Merwin, or Mansion House used to stand. They stated that one of them was the lawful owner of Ben. The Kentuckians walked over to Carter's and made their business known. He told them of Ben's misfortunes, and also what he had done for him ; said he did not believe in slavery, and he did not like negroes. The owner said he wanted to Ben, and if he did not want to go back, he might stay where he was ; that Ben would say that his master was kind to him, and that he could say that Ben was a good boy, but had been enticed away.
The Major told him that Ben was away, and he did not know where he was, but at all events you can never see Ben, without he wants to see you. The Kentuckians agreed to that, and told the Major to see Ben, and he might have his choice to stay or go at his option, but wanted to see him face to face. The owner and the Major had a number of interviews, and finally it was agreed that the owner and Ben, should see each other near enough to converse. Ben was to stand on the west side of the river, on a piece of land now owned by Mr. Scranton, covered with the heaviest kind of timber, the owner to be on the east side, a little below where the widow Colahan now lives, near the end of Huron street. At the time they were in conversation, I was passing along the top of the bluff, and heard them converse. The owner said, "Ben, have I not always used you well, and treated you as well as the rest of my family?" Ben answered in the affirmative. Many inquires and answers passed, but the conversation was marked by good feeling on both sides. Nothing further occurred to my knowledge until the next morning, or the next but one, when I saw Ben mounted on one of the Kentuckians horses, with holster and pistols, &c., and the man on foot on the road to Hudson, about a mile from Major Carter's, talking in the most friendly manner.
Now comes the most inexplicable part of the story. It would seem that the Major showed no dissatisfaction
to Ben's going with his master; but two white men, one called John Thompson, and the other Jas. Geer, hangers on at the Major's tavern, and nearly as useless as Ben had been to him, proceeded, or followed and passed the Kentuckians; for when they had got about three miles from Newburg Mills, (then called Cleveland Mills,) on the old "Carter road," they appeared, one on each side of the road, each with a rifle; and as the Kentuckians and Ben were passing, Ben still mounted; one of the men says, "Ben, you d---d fool, jump off of that horse and take to the woods." Ben obeyed, the hunters also ran, and it may be supposed, though not known, that the Kentuckians were somewhat astonished. However, they never returned to tell of their bad luck. The men and the Major kept the secret, but it was found out in this way. In the winter, a son of Major Spafford, and a younger brother of Nathan Perry, Esq., of this place, were out on the west side of the river hunting. They got lost, and wandered around till nearly worn out. At last they struck a horse's track, and followed it until it brought them to a hut, and who did they meet but poor Ben, who told them the story and enjoined secrecy, which they kept as long as was necessary. There was not at that time any road on the west side of the Cuyahoga, not a white person living east of Huron or north of Wooster, and perhaps none there. Ben's hut must have been in Brecksville or Independence.
What became of Ben is not known by me, but he was probably sent to Canada.
In the spring of 1807, ( I think it was,) a man, perhaps forty-five years old, talkative, forward and rather singular, came into the place, stopped with Major Spafford and worked for him two or three months. One morning Major Spafford came to Major Carter's and inquired about the man. He said he was at his house last night, and was not now to be found, and he did not know but he might have walked over to Carter's house. Major Carter had not seen him, but says he, "the rascal has run away." Major Spafford says, " I think not; he brought nothing with him to my house, and I do not know as he has carried anything away; and further, I think I must owe about four dollars." "Well," says Major Carter, "there shall nobody run away from this place, and I'll go after him, I can track him out."
He immediately started down what is now Water street, to the lake. There was then a number of log and brush fences across the street. When he got to the lake he found the track, and followed it down about two miles, when it turned off towards the road that leads to Euclid. The Major followed to the road, and thence toward Euclid, to near where Mr. J.K. Curtis now lives, (Willson Avenue,) where he overtook the man. The Major told him he must go back to Cleveland. He said, "he would
not go, that he did not owe anybody there, and had not stolen anything, and the Major had nothing to do with him."
The Major told him "did not care whether he went back or not, but one of two things you shall do, either you must go with me peaceably, or be killed and thrown into this cat swamp, to be eaten by the wolves and turkey buzzards." The Major had a peculiar manner of suiting actions and looks, to words. "Oh!" says the man, "if you are in earnest, I don't care if I go back." The Major brought him to Major Spafford, who asked him "What made him go off in such a manner; you know I owe you something." He answered, "I suppose you owe me a little, but I will tell you how it is with me. I have been a roving character, and don't stay but a little while in a place. I have been in the habit when I left a place to run away." Major Spafford told him "it was a bad one, and that he had better give it up; besides, you cannot run away from this place." The man said "he saw it would not do here, and he thought he would not try it again." Major Spafford told him "to eat his breakfast, and he would see in the meantime how much he owed him, and then he might go when and where he pleased." The man said "he had about given up the idea of going, and if the Major would let him work he would stay," which was agreed to, and he stayed two or three months.
Sometime in the fall of 1798, Major Carter said to me, "When I was living in my old log house under the hill, I saw an Indian coming up the river in a canoe. He landed opposite my house, fastened his canoe, and with paddle walked up to where I stood. After the usual salutation, he asked, 'What stream do you call this?" The Major replied, "the Cuyahoga." "No, no. this is not the Cuyahoga. I was here when a boy so high, (placing his hand about the height of a boy ten or a dozen years old,) and the Cuyahoga was like this," making a plan with his paddle on the ground, which corresponded with what we call the old river bed. [It must be kept in mind, that from the point where the parties stood, they could not have a view of the old river bed as we can now, on account of the forest.] The Major said he had not any doubt, that the river used to empty itself at the west end of the pond. The Indian appeared to Major Carter to be seventy or seventy-five years old.
Subsequently I learned that in the year 1798, an old Oneida Indian, whose name was Scanodewan, who had been a faithful friend to the Americans during their struggle for independence, and was much attached to the Harpers, of Harperstown, State of New York, followed Col. Alex. Harper and family to Harpersfield, in this State.
Scanodewan made himself useful to the Colonel,
by hunting and procuring game for the support of his family and others.
Col. Harper died in the fall of 1798, and soon after Scanodewan became uneasy, and told the family of Col. Harper that he would go the lake, build a canoe and go up the lake. He returned to the widow Harper's, and reported to them the changes that had been made since he had been there before, more especially the alternation of the mouth of the Cuyahoga river. There can be little doubt that Scanodewan, was the same man who conversed with Major Carter on the subject.
The facts relating to the Indian, I have recently obtained from Mrs. Tappen and her brother, Col. Robert Harper, of Harpersfield, Ohio, who is the youngest child of the late Col. Alex. Harper, and who was eight years old when his father died.
Major Carter was far from a quarrelsome man. I never heard of his fighting unless he was grossly insulted, and as he would say, "driven to it." It was a common saying in this region, that Major Carter was all the law Cleveland had, and I think he often gave out well measured justice. It was not unfrequent, that strangers traveling through the place, who had heard of the Major's success in whipping his man, who believed themselves smart fighters, thought they may gain laurels by having it said that they whipped him. I never heard it
asserted by any one, and never heard of any one boasting, that such an act had been performed.
He was kind and generous to the poor and unfortunate, hospitable to the stranger, would put himself to great inconvenience to oblige a neighbor, and was always at the service of an individual or the public, when a wrong had been perpetrated. In all domestic relations he was kind and affectionate.
In the year 1812 he was afflicted with a cancer on his face, and went to Virginia in 1813 for medical aid, which proved useless. He died February 8th, 1814, aged forty-seven, after enduring the most excruciating sufferings for months, previous to his death. Mrs. Carter survived him till October 18th, 1827, aged sixty-one.
BY JUDGE HOSMER
Perrysburg April 11th, 1843.
My Dear Sir:-Of Major Amos Spafford I have been able to lean but little. He emigrated from Vermont to Cleveland in 1800 of 1801. He received the appointment of Collector for the District of Miami, and of Postmaster, in 1810, at the commencement of which year he moved from Cleveland to the foot of the rapids, and built a small log house under the table of land, which forms the present site of Fort Meigs.
His first return to the Government shows that the amount of exports from this district, at the expiration of the first quarter, was three thousand and thirty dollars. It consisted of three thousand dollars worth of coon, bear and mink skins, and thirty dollars worth of bear's oil. Major Spafford cultivated a piece of land, including Fort Meigs, built several out houses, and acquired considerable property here previous to the war. He was a man very much esteemed by the American and French inhabitants, was indeed an adviser and friend to all the early settlers.
At the time the war broke out, there were sixty-seven white families living on the twelve mile square Reserve, and some nine or ten families in the immediate neighborhood. The first actual notice the settlers had, that hostilities had commenced after Hull's troops had marched through to Detroit, was the appearance of about forty Delaware Indians and as many British, at the foot of the rapids one bright morning in July, 1812. The Indians, under command of their war chief Sacamanc, by direction of the British, entered every house on the north side of the river, and after a friendly salutation, took all articles of any value which they could find, loaded them into the canoes, pirogues and flats belonging to the settlers, and then passed over to the south side. They met Major Spafford in his cornfield, and were about to subject his house to pillage,
but were prevented by a salvo of twenty dollars, paid them by the Major, which was all the money he had.
With the exception of their chief, Sacamanc, and four other Indians, they together with the British, left with their plunder by water, for Malden. The Maumee river was in those days inhabited by a species of hybrid, half human, half animal, better known at the present time by the name of Canadian French. These creatures united in their character the cunning of an Indian, and the sagacity of the white. They were principally friends to the British interest. One among them, who had long been an Indian trader, was, however, a true American in feeling. His name, Peter Manor, should ever be remembered, for he was a true friend of the Americans. He knew Sacamanc, pretend a friendship for him and for the British, and learned from him that in the space of eight or ten days, it was the intention of the confederated tribes in the British interest to hold a council near Malden, and in six days thereafter to make a general descent upon Monroe, Maumee and the other places on their trail to Fort Wayne, whither they were going, with about fifteen hundred British, to aid the besiegers of that fort, for the purpose of pillage, massacre and rapine.
Sacamanc and his four men left for the interior of our State, the day after the others had gone to Malden.
Manor visited Major Spafford the next day, asked him what he intended to do; and was informed the he intended to remain on the river and attend to his business. Manor then told him of the conversation he had with Sacamanc, at which the Major took alarm, and concluded to make preparations to go down the lake. As the contemplated attack was some two or three weeks distant, he was no hurry. About five days after this, at or near ten o'clock in the morning, a man, who was brought up among the Indians, and who had been befriended by Major Spafford, came running to his house in breathless haste, with the astounding information, that a party of some fifty Pottawatomies were within six miles of the foot of the rapids, and that they were massacring every Yankee they met with. The Major spread the news among his neighbors. They immediately launched an old barge, which was built by the army a year previous at Fort Wayne, and used by Col. Undermick and other officers, to come down the river on their way to Detroit.
Having put on board of this crazy hulk, what few articles of provisions and furniture they could, the little party consisting of the Major's family and three other families, set sail for Milan, in Huron county. Scarcely had they got under cover of the point, below the amphitheatre at the foot of the rapids, ere the Pottawatomies made their appearance.
They inquired after the Yankees, and were told by Manor that they had gone a week. The Indians stole what money and other property the fugitives had left, and started for Malden. Meantime, the little barge, favored by prosperous gales, reached Milan in safety. Major Spafford established his office as collector there until after the war, at the close of which he and his old companions returned to old Fort Meigs. When they left they had dwellings, horses, fine corn-fields, and comfortable homes. On their return they found their fields destroyed, and their horses and cattle stolen by the Indians. Government promised redress for the injuries committed by our army. Their families obtained a small compensation, for the supposed quantity of corn taken from the fields by Gen. Harrison's army.
This small sum was obtained through the energy of Major Spafford, who, on behalf of himself and neighbors, made two trips to Washington, and spent much time there before aught could be accomplished. Nothing disheartened he commenced repairing his ruined homestead. Of the old arks that were used to transport provisions to our army during the war, from Fort Amanda and other places on the Auglaize and St. Mary's rivers, he constructed a comfortable farm house and office, both of which are still standing in front of Fort Meigs. He received a grant from Government of a tract of land next above and adjoining the Fort, which is now owned by his son,
Judge Aurora Spafford, of this place. He retained his office of Collector until 1818, when he died at his residence. Major Spafford took an active part in all the early affairs of this county. He named our town Perrysburg, in honor of the hero of lake Erie. I have several letters of his in my possession, one to General Harrison and one to President Madison, setting forth in the most graphic language, the losses to which he and his neighbors had been subjected by the war, and asking for redress. He was a sound headed, pure hearted man, as all say who knew him, and as his papers abundantly prove.
Hez. L. Hosmer.
In Judge Atwater's description of the personal appearance of the surveyors, he says of Spafford, "he was more than medium in height, very straight, broad in the forehead, with a sober, serious countenance ; rather slow in his motions, and on the whole was an excellent man."
For further reading: Encyclopedia of Cleveland History