I live in the northwest corner of Ohio, on a tiny little finger of land that sticks out into Lake Erie and points back East. Now it’s called “Vacationland”, because we have large selection of Tourist Traps and a great Amusement Park called “Cedar Point”. But 200 years ago, this area had another name, “the Northwest Frontier”, and we were the outer limits of civilization and sanity. Sometimes I’ll find myself reading up on research of the area’s history because I want to write a book about a battle that took place up here on the Marblehead Peninsula in Ohio, in 1812. The first land battle of the War of 1812. But then I’ll get so throughly upset or discouraged at Man, by the events of 200 years ago that led up to the War that I have to let it go again. Here are some of these tracings of notes that leave me defeated…
Spring of 1812; Two men killed by Indians, just outside the present day Sandusky area. Michael Gibbs and Mr. Buel killed at Pipe creek. Indians “Omic” and “Seemo” accused. Seemo committed suicide and Omic was hung at Cleveland’s Public Square July 29th 1812.
August of 1812, General Hull (formerly a pretty respectable Officer who served during the Revolution) does the unthinkable, and surrenders at Detroit his portion of the American Army to the British with their promise by the British , to hold the Indians back from Massacring the entire crowd, (Hull’s daughter is in the group) and I believe now being an old man he didn’t have the gromits to see his daughter torn limb from limb during torture by the Indians. Or maybe finally that old soldiers soul had grown large enough to see what war really was, a battle to the death (everyone’s )for power for the wealthy.He did not discuss this action with his officers he simply took it. He would be alive years later to be tried for Treason (as would his daughter and any number of those soldiers he surrendered). But it goes without saying he saved a lot of lives that day, and also put many lives in jeopardy by making the choice he made and leaving the entire “Northwest Frontier” undefended. And when the soldiers were released by the British to find their way home they were given “Redcoats” and as they were let off the boats along the shore of Lake Erie, it was reported that the “British were coming, with the Indians to massacre us and all ran in front of this terror. Why, they ran all the way back to Newburg Heights and points east and some of them all the way back to Connecticut. Enough for the “Wild West”, a lot of people suffered the loss of their children and spouses during this terror, and all held General Hull accountable.
November 1812; Seymour (Scout) killed and Pixley boy abducted and taken to Detroit. They were 3 miles above Milan (just outside present day Sandusky, Ohio) Fort Avery cutting down a “Bee Tree”, as reported in the “Firelands Pioneer” magazine of July 1878.
June 1813; Massacre at Castailia, (that’s present day Castailia, Ohio). Killing five persons and carrying off 8 prisoners.
And keep in mind the pioneers and our frontiersmen (and women) and Army guys had been willfully killing and slaughtering Indians for years. This had been going on since those first people stepped off the Mayflower. Does “Gnadenhutten” ring any bells? Or how about the burning of Indian Corn Fields and pillaging of Indian Villages along the Sandusky River… this was a very very dangerous place no matter what color or tribe you belonged to.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on what life was like around here 2oo years ago, and I have never been so glad to be in a certain time and place as I am here and NOW.