A brief history of the early settlement of Fairfield county, Ohio

The foregoing Lecture was published in the Lancaster papers soon after its delivery. James Percival, Esq., the then editor of the Lancaster Gazette and Express, introduced it to his readers in the following approbatory and truthful remarks:

"Our paper of this week, as will be seen, contains nothing like its usual variety, but is mostly filled with a Lecture of our fellow-townsman, Gen. Geo. Sanderson, on the early settlement of this town and its vicinity. This, it is presumed, no one will regret, for there can be no subject more interesting to the present inhabitants of this county, than a faithful history of the incidents and events connected with the first settlement of the American wilds, and more particularly with those that occurred on the spot where we now dwell in peace and undisturbed tranquility, surrounded by all the comforts and plenty found in the older settled portions of the east. In the recital of the facts here recorded, the present and succeeding generations are made acquainted with the perils and hardships which the first settlers endured for their sakes; for it is not often that the father of a family undertakes the dangers and sufferings of a frontier life for his own benefit, but for the sake of his children and their descendants.

"The actors in the scenes so well described in the history under consideration, have mostly passed away; and had not the man, to whom we are indebted for this Lecture, undertaken the task of embodying, and giving to the public so many interesting facts, many of them would have been lost forever; for he is now almost the only living witness of the scenes and times spoken of we will venture to say, the only one who is competent to the task of collecting and arranging them for public use. As the manners that prevail, and the customs observed are nearly the same in all new settlements, we can say from much experience and personal observation, that the Lecturer has confined his descriptions to simple facts nothing has been added by way of embellishment. In all new settlements the inhabitants are remarkably kind and neighborly, though they may have previously been entire strangers to each other. Knowing their mutual dependence they live almost like one family, each rendering to his neighbor all the kind offices in his power. Articles of food, in particular, are divided with a generous hand, and the owner never reserves any portion to himself while a neighbor is destitute. As it respects kindness to each other and mutual dependence, the denizens of the woods seem to have escaped the curse of Adam's fall."

 

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The present generation can form no just conceptions of the wild and wilderness appearance of the country in which we now dwell, previous to its settlement by white people; it was, in short, a country,

"Where nothing dwelt but beasts of prey, And men more wild and fierce than they."

The lands watered by the sources of the Hockhocking river, and now comprehended within the present limits of the county of Fairfield, were, when first discovered by some of the early settlers at Marietta, owned and occupied by the Wyandotte tribe of Indians, and were highly prized by the occupants as a valuable hunting ground, being well filled by almost all kinds of game, and animals of fur. The principal town of the nation stood along the margin of the prairie between the south end of Broad street and Thomas E wing's canal basin of the present town of Lancaster, and extending back to the base of the hill south of the Methodist Episcopal church. It is said that the town contained in 1790 about one hundred wigwams, and a population of five hundred souls. It was called Tarhe, or, in English, the Cranetown, and derived its name from that of the principal chief of the tribe. The chief's wigwam in Tarhe, stood upon the bank of the prairie, near where the fourth lock is built on the Hocking canal, and near where a beautiful spring of water flowed into the Hockhocking river. The wigwams were built of the bark of trees, set on poles in the fonn of a sugar camp, with one square open, fronting a fire, and about the height of a man. The Wyandotte tribe numbered at that day about five hundred warriors, and were a ferocious and savage people. They made frequent attacks on the white settlements along the Ohio river killing, scalping and capturing the settlers without regard to age, sex, or condition. War parties, on various occasions, attacked flat boats descending the river, containing emigrants from the middle States, seeking new homes in Kentucky, by which, in many instances, whole families become victims to the scalping knife and tomahawk. By the treaty of Greenville, in 1795, the Wyandottes ceded all their possessions on the Hockhocking river to the General Government, and since that time have kept up a friendly intercourse with the white people. The Crane chief, soon after the treaty, with many of the tribe, removed and settled at Upper Sandusky others remained behind for four or five years after the settlement of the county, as if unable, or unwilling to tear themselves away from the graves of their forefathers, and their favorite hunting grounds. They were, however, so peaceably disposed towards the settlers that no one felt willing to drive them away. In process of time the game and fur become scarce and the lingering Indian, unwilling to labor for a living, was forced by stern necessity to quit the country and take up his abode with those of his tribe that had preceded him at Upper Sandusky. The Crane chief had a white wife in his old age. She was Indian in every sense of the word, except her fair skin, and red hair. Her brief history, as far as I have been able to learn, was this: Taehe in one of his predatory excursions against the early settlers, on the east side of the Ohio river, near Wheeling, had taken her prisoner, and brought her to his town on the Hockhocking river she was then about eight years of age, and never having been reclaimed by her relatives or friends, remained with the nation, and afterwards become the wife of her captor.