Archiver > OH-FOOTSTEPS > 1999-10 > 0940192414

From: Gina Reasoner <>
Date: Sun, 17 Oct 1999 16:33:34 -0400



In 1807 the improvement of the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas rivers was the
great idea of Northwestern Ohio. Col. Charles Whittlesey gives the
following interesting description of a scheme to this end:
"It was thought that if $12,000 could by some means be raised the channels
of those streams could be cleared of logs and trees and the portage path
made passable for loaded wagons. Thus, good might ascend the Cuyahoga in
boats to Old Portage, be hauled seven miles to the Tuscarawas, near New
Portage, and thence descend that stream in bateaux. This great object
excited so much attention that the Legislature authorized a lottery to
raise the money."
The tickets were headed "Cuyahoga and Muskingum Navigation Lottery." They
were issued in May, 1807, the drawing to take place at Cleveland, the first
Monday in January, 1808, or as soon as three-fourths of the tickets were
sold. There were 12,800 tickets at $5 each. There were to be 3568 prizes,
ranging from one capital prize of $5000; two second prizes of $2500 each,
down to 3400 at $10. The drawing never came off. Many years after, those
who had purchased tickets received their money back, without interest.
On the 20th of October, 1837, there passed through Stow township a tornado
of great destructive power. It occurred about three o'clock in the morning,
struck the western part of the township, passed north of east, and
exhausted itself near the center of the township. Its roar was terrific,
its force tremendous; in its course through heavy timber, every tree within
a path forty rods wide was snapped like a pipe-stem. It was accompanied by
vivid flashes of lightning, roaring thunder, and downpouring rain. It
passed over Cochran pond. The residence of Frederick Sandford was torn to
fragments, killing his two sons and mother-in-law outright, injuring Mr.
Sanford so that he died within a few hours, while Mrs. Sandford and her
daughter escaped severe injury. Other houses were struck and felled or
damaged, but no other deaths resulted. Farm utensils were twisted and torn
to pieces. Domestic animals killed, as well as fowls and birds; the latter
being plucked clean of feathers.

One of the most remarkable cases of circumstantial evidence occurred in
Northfield township. It came near resulting in the conviction for murder of
an innocent man. The circumstances are quoted from Gen. L.V. Bierce's
"History of Summit County," a work valuable for its preservation of pioneer
"An Englishman, named Rupert Charlesworth, who was boarding with Dorsey
Viers in 1826, suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. He was traced to the
cabin of Viers on the night of the 23d of July, but on the following
morning when a constable went there to arrest him, he was gone and no trace
of him could be found. On the arrival of the constable, Mrs. Viers was
found mopping up the floor. Questions were asked, but Mrs. Viers told
contradictory stories as to the disappearance of the man alleging in one
instance that he jumped out of the window and ran off and could not be
caught; and in another, that he left when Viers was asleep, and the latter
knew nothing of his whereabouts. A few days later some one announced having
heard the report of a rifle at Viers cabin the night of the man's
disappearance, and of having seen blood on a pair of bars which led from
the cabin to the woods. Years rolled on, and the excitement grew stronger
with age, until, on the 8th of January, 1831, complaint was entered before
George Y. Wallace, Justice of the Peace, that Viers had murdered
Charlesworth. Viers was arrested, and a trial of eight days followed. Not
only were the circumstances above narrated proved, but a hired girl who was
working for Viers at the time of the man's disappearance, swore that a bed
blanket used by Charlesworth was missing from the cabin on the day of his
departure, and that it was afterward found concealed under a haystack, with
large, black spots on it, resembling dried and clotted blood. It was also
proved that Charlesworth had a large amount of money, and that Viers was,
previous to the disappearance of the man, comparatively poor, but
immediately afterward was flush of money. To complete the chain of
circumstantial evidence, a human skeleton had been found under a log in the
woods, beyond the bars already mentioned. Matters were in this shape when
two men from Sandusky unexpectedly appeared and swore that they had seen
Charlesworth alive and well after the time of the supposed murder, though
when seen he was passing under an assumed name. On this testimony Viers was
acquitted; but his acquittal did not change public sentiment as to his
guilt. It was generally believed that the witnesses had been induced to
perjure themselves. Viers, however, did not let the matter rest at this
stage. He began a vigorous and protracted search for the missing man, and
continued it with unwavering perseverance.
He visited all parts of the Union, and, after a search of years, he one
day went into a tavern at Detroit, and in the presence of a large
assemblage of men, inquired if any one knew of a man named Charlesworth.
All replied no. Just as he was about to leave a man stepped up to him, and
taking him to one side, inquired if his name was Viers, from Northfield.
Viers replied that it was. The stranger then said, "I am Rupert
Charlesworth, but I pass here under an assumed name." Charlesworth was
informed of all that had taken place, and he immediately volunteered to go
to Northfield and have the matter cleared up. On their arrival a meet of
the township was called, and after a thorough investigation it was the
unanimous vote, with one exception that the man alleged to have been
murdered now stood alive before them. It appears that he had passed a
counterfeit ten-dollar bill on Deacon Hudson, and fearing an arrest, he
left the cabin of Viers suddenly, and soon afterward went to England, where
he remained two years, at the end of which time he returned to the United
States under an assumed name, and went into the backwoods of Michigan,
where his real name, former residence and history were unknown. The name of
the family was thus, almost by accident, cleared of infamy and shame. This
remarkable case is rivalled only by the celebrated case of the bournes in

Rev. David Bacon, the founder of Tallmadge, was born in Woodstock, Conn.,
in 1771, and died in Hartford in 1817, at the early age of forty-six years,
worn out by excessive labors, privations and mental sufferings, largely
consequent upon his financial failure with his colony. He was the first
missionary sent to the Western Indians from Connecticut. His means were
pitifully inadequate; but with a stout heart reliant upon God he started,
August 8, 1800, from Hartford, afoot and alone through the wilderness, with
no outfit but what he could carry on his back. At Buffalo creek, now the
site of the city of Buffalo, took vessel for Detroit, which he reached
September 11, thirty-four days after leaving Hartford, where he was
hospitably received by Major Hunt, commandant of the United States garrison
there. After a preliminary survey he returned to Connecticut, and on the
24th of December was married at Lebanon to Alice Parks, then under eighteen
years of age; a week later, on the last day of the last year of the last
century, December 31, 1800, he was ordained regularly to the specific work
of a missionary to the heathen, the first ever sent out from Connecticut.
On the 11th of February, 1801, with his young wife, he started for
Detroit, going through the wilderness of New York and Canada by sleigh, and
arrived there Saturday, May 9. The bride, before she got out of
Connecticut, had a new and painful experience. They stopped at a noisy
country tavern at Canaan. They were a large company altogether; some
drinking, some talking, and some swearing; and this they found was common
at all the public-houses.
Detroit at this time was the great emporium of the fur trade. The Indian
traders were men of great wealth and highly cultivated minds. Many of them
were educated in England and Scotland at the universities, a class to-day
in Britain termed "university men." They generally spent the winter there,
and in the spring returned with new goods brought by vessels through the
lakes. The only Americans in the place were the officers and soldiers of
the garrison, consisting of an infantry regiment and an artillery company,
the officers of which treated Mr. Bacon and family with kindness and
respect. The inhabitants were English, Scotch, Irish and French, all of
whom hated the Yankees. The town was enclosed by cedar pickets about twelve
feet high and six inches in diameter, and so close together one could not
see through. At each side were strong gages which were closed and guarded,
and no Indians were allowed to come in after sundown or to remain overnight.
Up to his arrival in Detroit the Missionary Society paid him in all $400;
then, until September, 1803, he did not get a cent. He began his support
teaching school at first with some success; but he was a Yankee, and the
four Catholic priests used their influence in opposition. His young wife
assisted him. They studied the Indian language, but made slow progress, and
their prospect for usefulness in Detroit seemed waning.
On the 19th of February, 1802, his first child was born at Detroit -the
afterwards eminent Dr. Leonard Bacon. In the May following he went down
into the Maumee country, with a view to establish a mission among the
Indians. The Indians were largely drunk, and he was an unwilling witness to
their drunken orgies. Little Otter, their chief, received him courteously,
called a council of the tribe, and then, to his talk through an
interpreter, gave him their decision that they wouldn't have him. It was to
this effect:
Your religion is very good, but only for white people; it will not do for
Indians. When the great Spirit made white people, he put them on another
island, gave them farms, tools to work with, horses, horned cattle, and
sheep and hogs for them, that they might get their living in that way, and
he taught them to read, and gave them their religion in a book. But when he
made Indians he made them wild, and put them on this island in the woods,
and gave them the wild game that they may live by hunting. We formerly had
a religion very much like yours, but we found it would not do for us, and
we have discovered a much better way.
Seeing he could not succeed he returned to Detroit. He had been with them
several days, and twice narrowly escaped assassination from the intoxicated
ones. His son, Leonard, in his memoirs of his father, published in the
Congregational Quarterly for 1876, and from which this article is derived,
Something more than ordinary courage was necessary in the presence of so
many drunken and half-drunken Indians, any one of whom might suddenly shoot
or tomahawk the missionary at the slightest provocation or at none. The two
instances mentioned by him, in which he was enabled to baffle the malice of
savages ready to murder him, remind me of another incident.
It was while my parents were living at Detroit, and when I was an infant
of less than four months, two Indians came as if for a friendly visit; one
of them a tall and stalwart young man, the other shorter and older. As they
entered my father met them, gave his hand to the old man, and was just
extending it to the other, when my mother, quick to discern the danger
exclaimed, "See! he has a knife." At the word my father saw that, while the
Indian's right hand was ready for the salute,a gleaming knife in his left
hand was partly concealed under his blanket.
An Indian, intending to assassinate, waits until his intended victim is
looking away from him and then strikes. My father's keen eye was fixed upon
the murderer and watched him eye to eye. The Indian found himself strangely
disconcerted. In vain did the old man talk to my father in angry and
chiding tones -that keen black eye was watching the would-be assassin. The
time seemed long. My mother took the baby (himself) from the birch-bark
cradle, and was going to call for help, but when she reached the door she
dared not leave her husband. At last the old man became weary of chiding:
the young man had given up his purpose for a time and they retired.
Failing on the Maumee, Mr. Bacon soon after sailed with his little family
to Mackinaw. This was at the beginning of the summer, 1802. Mackinaw was
then one of the remotest outposts of the fur trade and garrisoned by a
company of United States troops. His object was to establish a mission at
Abrecroche, about twenty miles distant, a large settlement of Chippewa
Indians, but they were no less determined than those on the Maumee that no
missionary should live in their villages. Like those, also, they were a
large part of the time drunk from whiskey supplied in abundance by the fur
traders in exchange for the proceeds of their hunting excursions. They had
at one time no less than 900 gallon kegs on hand.
His work was obstructed from the impossibility of finding an interpreter,
so he took into his family an Indian lad, through whom to learn the
language -his name Singenog. He remained at Mackinaw about two years, but
the Indians would never allow him to go among them. Like the Indians
generally they regarded ministers as another sort of conjurors, with power
to bring sickness and disease upon them.

-continued in part 7

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