From the book of-Stories of Guernsey County by William Wolfe Page 19-29

Chapter 1

Indian and Pioneer Days

The Mound Builders

THE Mound Builders may not have been the first inhabitants of Ohio, as there is evidence that a people lived here before the Glacial Age. However, the evidence is purely circumstantial, and the Mound Builders are usually spoken of as the race that first lived in our state.

A Mysterious Race.—The mystery of the Mound Builder has never been satisfactorily solved. He left works of various kinds, but no written records as to time and purpose. The Indians who were here when the white men came, knew nothing of these people before them. Their mounds and works have been excavated and discoveries studied by archaeologists in an effort to learn something about them, but so far there has been little excepting that which the imagination supplies.

While the Mound Builder displayed his activities throughout a great part of North America, especially between the Allegheny and Rocky Mountains, the territory now embraced within the boundaries of Ohio seemed to be his favorite haunt. He left his testimonials in more than twelve thousand places in this state. These are mounds, enclosures, cemeteries and village sites. They evidently were int4ended as places of worship, as means of defense, or as burial grounds.

Few Evidences in Guernsey County.—Some counties of Southeastern Ohio are rich in prehistoric remains; as Licking, Muskingum and Washington. In Guernsey there are but few evidences of this mysterious race. The Archaeological Atlas of Ohio has this to say: Guernsey county, with its rugged topography, its few streams and narrow valleys, did not offer very favorable conditions for a original settlement and therefore is sparse in number of earthworks. Eleven mounds have been recorded in the county, besides an enclosure, a cemetery and a village site. Monroe township leads with six mounds; Millwood has three and Liberty one. Despite the relative scarcity of earthworks many fine archaeological specimens of flint, stone and other materials have been found in the county, showing at least a temporary occupation of considerable importance. Washington township has one enclosure, and Oxford, a village site. The totals are: mounds, eleven; and enclosures, village sites and cemeteries, one each.”

While only eleven mounds have been recorded, there are doubtless many others. There are mounds in several townships not reported in the Archaeological Atlas of Ohio. Some of these have been excavated and the usual stone implements found.

Flint arrowheads and stone implements have been found, and are yet occasionally found in many parts of the county, usually on the flat tops of hills and ridges. Their numbers in some spots would indicate that battles may have been fought or villages located there. Perhaps some of the arrowheads were dropped by the Indians. There is evidence that the Mound Builders once occupied Guernsey county, but not as extensively as they did some of our neighboring counties.

Indians in Guernsey County

Guernsey county has very little Indian history, although Indians were here before the white man came. Here and there, in almost every part of the county, evidences of Indian occupancy have been discovered. However, there is little to indicate that Guernsey county was ever more than a hunting ground for tribes whose permanent headquarters were elsewhere.

White Settlers Found Indians Here.—Six Indian tribes—the Chippewa, Wyandotte, Miami, Delaware, Shawnee and Mingo—occupied Ohio before the advent of the white man. It is probable that hunting and war parties of the Mingoes, Delawares and Shawnees often came into this section, as their tribal headquarters were in the eastern and southern parts of Ohio. There were Indian towns of considerable size in Tuscarawas and Muskingum counties.

Indians remained here several years after the coming of the white settlers. They had camps or towns and engaged in hunting and fishing. Near the mouth of Trail run in Jackson township was an Indian village called Old Town. Two stories pertaining to this village—“Legend of the Lead Mine” and “Hole-in-the-Ear”—may be found in the chapter on Jackson township. Four miles north of Cambridge was another Indian town, over whose inhabitants an Indian chief, Doughty, had much influence. The following incidents have been related concerning this chief and Isaac Oldham who settled near the Indian camp:

Oldham’s Narrow Escape.—One morning as Isaac Oldham was endeavoring to kindle the fire in his cabin, whilst upon his knees blowing the few remaining embers, an old Indian named Doughty crept stealthily in upon him, caught him by the neck, and raised his tomahawk ready to deal the fatal blow, but after holding Mr. Oldham in that position for some time he released his hold and remarked, “Ingen let white man go, white man no let Ingen go,” and left the cabin. This occurred just before the War of 1812, and after the larger part of the Indians had removed further to the westward. It was always supposed that Doughty intended to kill Mr. Oldham before he left, for the loss of his hunting ground which Mr. Oldham had entered and was occupying, but fear of being caught before he could overtake the rest of the tribe, it was thought, deterred him.

The Sabbath Respected.—Another incident in Isaac Oldham’s career, peculiar to those early times, when the first settlements were made in the Ohio wilderness, is well worthy of being preserved by its insertion here. When he first came here, in 1806, forty warriors and several squaws and children had a camp a little east of his cabin. He never killed any game while they remained, but gave mild and vegetables for wild game which they brought to him. He thereby never incurred their displeasure. One Sunday morning while Mr. Oldham was reading aloud from the Scriptures an Indian came with a quarter of venison, and after listening awhile set his venison behind the door. When Mr. Oldham had finished the Indian said: “You worship the great Spirit above?” “Yes,” said Mr. Oldham, “every seventh day we do no work but give the entire day to His worship.” After that the Indians never came on the Sabbath, nor ever fired a gun within his hearing on that day.

Other Indian towns.—There were Indian towns on Indian Camp run in Knox township, near the mouth of Bird’s run in Wheeling township, and on Salt Fork creek in the southeastern part of Jefferson township. It was here that Chief Doughty spent most of his time.

Two Indians, Jim and Bill Lyons, had huts northeast of Cambridge. Joseph Sky and another Indian named Hunter lived near the mouth of Brushy Fork creek. Jim Lyons’ wife was a white woman. His father had taken her a prisoner when she was a girl and adopted her. She was described as looking much like an Indian and could not have been distinguished from one had it not been for her hair which was light and wavy.

The First White Man

Who was the first white man to set foot within the boundaries of the present Guernsey county? It was some Indian fighter, perhaps, form one of the forts or settlements east of the Ohio River. Such men as the Wetzels, the Zanes and the McCulloughs are known to have made hunting and scouting trips from Ft. Henry (Wheeling), as far west as the Muskingum River. They doubtless crossed the territory that is now included within Guernsey county.

First Survey in 1786.—The first surveys in Guernsey county were made in the eastern part of it. Under the directions of Thomas Hutchison, the first geographer of the United States, the first survey of public lands west of the Ohio River was begun in 1786. Seven ranges, extending west forty-two miles from the Pennsylvania line, were cut off. From the point where the Ohio River crosses the western boundary of Pennsylvania, a line was run due west for forty-two miles. From the western extremity of this forty-two-mile base line (known as the Geographer’s line), another line was run due south to the Ohio River. At Six-mile intervals other lines were run south from the base line, parallel to the first. These were then crossed by lines six miles apart, running east and west, parallel to the base line. The tract, thus divided into townships six miles square, is known as the Seven Ranges. This land was offered for sale to settlers, at two dollars an acre. It was provided, however, that a tract of not less than a section could be purchased. A land office was opened at Steubenville several years after the survey had been made.

Three of Guernsey county’s townships—Londonderry, Oxford and Millwood—were included in this survey. We know form this that white men engaged in official work in Guernsey county as early, perhaps, as 1786.

Survey of the Military District.—Nearly all of Guernsey county lying west of the Seven Ranges was cut from the Military district which was surveyed between 1795 and 1804. It is believed that the part of the Military district now included in Guernsey county was surveyed in 1797 or 1798. An office for the sale of this land was opened at Zanesville.

It will be noted that the western part of Guernsey county was not surveyed for several years after the eastern. Land in the Seven Ranges did not sell readily. Two dollars an acre seemed a high price to pay. Most of the settlers did not need 640 acres, The minimum number the government would sell. They could do better than this in Kentucky and in other parts of Ohio. As there was but little demand for the land in the Seven Ranges, it was not deemed necessary to make further surveys.

Broadhead’s Expedition.—An army of 300 soldiers under the command of Gen. Daniel Broadhead and Col. David Shepherd crossed Guernsey county in 1781, the last year of the Revolutionary War. These men were the first, of whom we have any authentic record, to enter what is now Guernsey county.

At the forks of the Muskingum River, where Coshocton now stands, was a Delaware Indian village. During the revolutionary War several settlements in Western Pennsylvania and Virginia were attacked by Indians. Although the Delawares had pledged their loyalty to the Americans in the war, it was believed that they had been incited by the British to commit these depredations and outrages upon the settlers. A feeling of antipathy towards the Indians arose. An attack upon their village at the forks of the Muskingum was planned.

Three hundred men assembled at Wheeling. One hundred sixty-six of them were regular soldiers whom Gen. Broadhead had brought down from Ft. Pitt (Pittsburgh), and 134 were frontiersmen like Lewis Wetzel and Jonathan Zane. Col. David Shepherd, who lived in Wheeling, commanded the frontiersmen. All were under the general command of Broadhead, from whom the expedition has taken its name.

To reach the forks of the Muskingum from Wheeling required a march of seventy-five miles through an unbroken forest. To move the army and supplies it was necessary to cut a road through the under brush. General Broadhead passed through parts of what are now Londonderry, Madison, Jefferson, Monroe and Wheeling townships in Guernsey county. For several years after Madison township had been settled, Broadhead’s trail showed plainly at Antrim.

General Broadhead reached the Indian village on April 19. He found the inhabitants living on both the east and west side of the river whose waters were high from recent rains. Without firing a gun he captured all on the east side. Sixteen of the prisoners, who, by a friendly Delaware in Broadhead’s army, were pointed out as being especially hostile, were taken below the town and killed with tomahawks and spears.

On the following day an Indian called across from the west side, asking for peace. “Send over your chief’s,” answered Broadhead, “and I shall treat with them.” Maybe you kill,” replied the Indian. Broadhead called back, “They shall not be killed.”

Promised safety, a chief came over and engaged in conversation with Broadhead on the street of the village. While thus engaged, the chief was struck on the back of the head with a tomahawk. He fell to the ground and instantly expired. It is said that the fatal blow was made by one of the frontiersmen, Lewis Wetzel, who had stealthily approached with a tomahawk concealed in the bosom of his hunting-shirt.

About noon the army began its retreat from Coshocton. The prisoners were committed to the care of the frontiersmen. Before they had marched a mile, they began killing the Indians. All were dispatched, except a few women and children. These were taken to Ft. Pitt and afterwards exchanged for white captives held by the Indians.

Had it not been for the pleas of Colonel Shepherd, the army, before its return, would probably have attacked the Indian towns of Gnadenhutten, Schoenbrunn and Salem. The greatest stain on the pioneer history of Ohio was made a year later. This was the murder of the Moravian Indians at Gnadenhutten by an army under col. David Williamson.

White Men before 1800.—We here list the authentic and traditional accounts of white men in Guernsey county before 1800:

Indian scouts and hunters from east of the Ohio river, perhaps as early as Revolutionary War days. (This is a supposition.)

General Broadhead’s army crossed a part of the county in 1781.

Survey of the present Londonderry, Oxford and Millwood townships was made by government surveyors in 1786.

In 1791 troops crossed the southern part of Guernsey county on their way from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati, where they joined General St. Clair’s army. (See Chapter XXXIV)

In 1791 or 1792 a party of seven white men camped one night on wills creek, near Cambridge. (See story in this chapter.)

It is said that Levi Williams settled as a squatter on the site of the present Old Washington in 1796. (This is traditional.)

Claim has been made that a Reuben Atchison settled near the present site of Cumberland in 1795 or 1796. (This is tradition.)

The greater part of Guernsey county was surveyed by white men in 1797 or 1798. (Approximate date.)

Zane’s Trace was cut through Guernsey county in 1797 or 1798, by a party of men under the leadership of Jonathan Zane.

In 1798 Ezra Graham built a cabin and established a ferry at the Wills creek crossing. A traditional John Mahoney is said to have figured in this.

At the coming of George Beymer in 1800 a clearer history of the county begins.

An Indian Attack

One of the earliest mentions of any part of that which is now Guernsey county was made by John McDonald in a small volume of pioneer stories, entitled “McDonald’s Sketches,” written many years ago. In it is the story of an Indian attack near the present site of Cambridge. This story has been published many times.

There has been much controversy as to the exact spot on Wills creek where the attack was made. At that time two Indian trails crossed the stream near the present site of Cambridge. One of these was just above the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad bridge; the other on the Morrison farm, just above the Pennsylvania Railroad bridge, the crossing being known in early times as Holley’s ford. If the party of white men crossed at Holley’s ford, their encampment would have been along the run through what was afterwards known as the Taylor farm; if they crossed at the upper ford, the camp would have been along the Gordon Lofland run. The burial place of the white men has ever been a matter of speculation.

McDonald’s story follows:

In the year 1791 or ’92, the Indians having made frequent incursions into the settlements along the Ohio River, between Wheeling and Mingo bottom, sometimes killing or capturing whole families, at other times stealing all the horses belonging to a station or fort, a company consisting of seven men rendezvoused at a place called the Beech bottom, on the Ohio River, a few miles below where Wellsburg has been erected. This company were John Whetzel, William McCullough, John Hough, Thomas Biggs, Joseph Hedges, Kinzie Dickerson and a Mr. Linn. Their avowed object was to go to the Indian towns to steal horses. This was then considered a legal, honorable business, as we were then at open war with the Indians. It would only be retaliating upon them in their own way.

These seven men were all trained to Indian warfare and a life in the woods from their youth. Perhaps the western frontier at no time could furnish seven men whose souls were better fitted, and whose nerves and sinews were better strung to perform any enterprise which required resolution and firmness.

They crossed the Ohio, and proceeded, with cautious steps and vigilant glances, on their way though the cheerless, dark and almost impervious forest, in the Indian country, till they came to an Indian town, near where the headwaters of the Sandusky and Muskingum rivers interlock. Here they made a fine haul, and set off homeward with fifteen horses. They traveled rapidly, only making short halts to let their horses graze and breathe a short time to recruit their energy and activity. In the evening of the second day of their rapid retreat they arrived at Wills creek, not far from where the town of Cambridge has since been erected.

Here Mr. Linn was taken violently sick, and they must stop their march or leave him alone to perish in the dark and lonely woods. Our frontiersmen, notwithstanding their rough and unpolished manners, had too much of my Uncle Toby’s “sympathy for suffering humanity,” to forsake a comrade in distress. They halted, and placed sentinels on their back trail, who remained thee until late in the night, without seeing any signs of being pursued. The sentinels on the back trail returned to the camp, Mr. Linn still lying in excruciating pain. All the simple remedies in their power were administered to the sick man, without producing any effect.

Being late in the night, they all lay down to rest, except one who was placed as guard. Their camp was on the bank of a small branch. Just before daybreak the guard took a small bucket and dipped some water out of the stream; on carrying it to the fire he discovered the water to be muddy. The muddy water waked his suspicion that the enemy might be approaching them, and were walking down in the stream, as their footsteps would be noiseless in the water. He waked his companions and communicated his suspicion. They arose, examined the branch a little distance, and listened attentively for some time; but neither saw nor heard anything, and then concluded it must have been raccoons, or some other animals, puddling in the stream.

After this conclusion, the company all lay down to rest, except the sentinel, who was stationed just outside of the light. Happily for them the fire was burned down, and only a few coals afforded a dim light to pint out where they lay.

The enemy had come silently down the creek, as the sentinel suspected, to within ten or twelve feet of the place where they lay, and fired several guns over the bank.

Mr. Linn, the sick man, was lying with his side towards the bank, and received nearly all the balls which were at first fired. The Indians then, with tremendous yells, mounted the bank with loaded rifles, war-clubs and tomahawks, rushed upon our men, who fled barefooted and without arms. Mr. Linn, Thomas Biggs and Joseph Hedges were killed in and near the camp. William McCullough had run but a short distance when he was fired at by the enemy. At the instant fire was given, he jumped into a quagmire and fell; the Indians, supposing that they killed him, ran past in pursuit of others. He soon extricated himself out of the mire, and so made his escape. He fell in with John Hough, and came into Wheeling.

John Whetzel and Kinzie Dickerson met in their retreat, and returned together. Those who made their escape were without arms, without clothing or provisions. Their sufferings were great, but this they bore with stoical indifference, as it was the fortune of war.

Whether the Indians who defeated our heroes followed in pursuit from their towns, or were a party of warriors who accidentally happened to fall in with them, has never been ascertained. From the place they had stolen the horses they had traveled two nights and almost two entire days, without halting, except just a few minutes at a time, to let the horses graze. From the circumstances of their rapid retreat with the horses it was supposed that no pursuit could possible have overtaken them, but fate had decreed that this party of Indians should meet and defeat them.

As soon as the stragglers arrived at Wheeling, Capt. John McCullough collected a party of men, and went to wills creek and buried the unfortunate men who fell in and near the camp. The Indians had mangled the dead bodies at a most barbarous rate. Thus was closed the horse-stealing tragedy.

An Indian Story

A story written by Col. C. P. B. Sarchet and published in The Jeffersonian several years ago, is one of the few concerning Guernsey county Indians. It should be preserved. Colonel Sarchet stated that the story was frequently told when he was a boy, at a time when some of the persons named in it wore still living, and he could vouch for its authenticity.

Indian Killed by John Chapman.—As one of the pioneers, John Chapman came into Guernsey county and settled in a cabin up the run which the National Road now crosses on the east side of the Four-mile hill, near the present Elm Tree mine. While out hunting one day, he killed a deer, dressed it and hung it in a tree, intending to return for it the next morning. The following day, as he came near the place where he had left the deer, he saw two Indians taking the deer down from the tree, evidently intending to carry it away. Neither of them had a gun, but each carried a tomahawk and a knife. Chapman stealthily crept forward and fired from behind a tree, killing one of the Indians. The other fled. Placing the deer upon his shoulder, he returned to his cabin.

Near the place where Trail run empties into Wills creek above Byesville was an Indian village called Old Town, and Chapman surmised that the two Indians had come from there. Fearing that he would be attacked when a report of the killing was carried to Old town by the Indian who escaped, he was on the alert and kept close to the cabin. During the afternoon he saw four Indians going towards the place where the Indian lay dead. A little later he saw them retuning, carrying the body. They did not stop but passed on towards Old Town.

Peace Made at Old Town.—The next morning he was called out by two Indians, who made known to him by means of signs that he must accompany them to their town. Realizing that resistance would be useless he started with them, marching single file over the hills to the mouth of Trail run, one Indian in front, the other behind him.

Chapman had some acquaintance with the chief, and he probably expected leniency after he had explained the reason for the shooting. The chief told him that the two Indians were not members of his tribe, but were Miamis who lived on the Miami River near the place where Piqua now stands. Vengeance, if such were wrought, would have to come from the dead Indian’s comrade. The chief further advised him that if he would bestow a gift of powder and whisky upon the Indian he would probably be satisfied. Chapman readily consented to do this and was permitted to return to his home for the gifts. The next day he took the powder and whisky to Old Town and peace was made.

Child Stolen by Indians.—A short time after this John Chapman entered four hundred acres of land on Wills creek, just southeast of Cambridge, and began cutting away the forest. His oldest child, a daughter, was about three or four years of age. As she played in front of the cabin one day, three Indians came along the path, picked her up and carried her away. If she made any outcry it was not heard. Having missed the child a little later and having searched in vain for her, the mother called the father. After a further search in the forest had been made by both, Chapman went to Old Town, thinking some of the Indians there might have taken her. He was assured that they knew nothing about it.

There was much grief in the home when he returned that night. The thought occurred to him that she might have been taken by the Miamis in revenge for his killing one of their tribe. The next morning he made preparations for a journey to their village, nearly two hundred miles away. Late in the evening of the third day out he overtook the three Indians who were just preparing camp for the night. His little daughter was with them and uninjured. They told him they did not intend to keep her, but were taking her to their town to show her to the squaws who had never seen a little white girl. They did not protest when Chapman took his child from them, and three days later he reached home with her.

It was never known just what their real motive was for taking the girl. Having frown to womanhood she married Daniel Burton and lived on Wills creek, at what was known as Burton’s bend, between Cambridge and Byesville. John Chapman and his wife are buried in the old graveyard in Cambridge.

Fish Basket

Wills creek makes a bend to the right a short distance north of the city limits of Cambridge and almost touches the Newcomerstown road, Route 21. Except in time of flood the water here has little depth and runs more swiftly than it does above or below. This bend in the creek is known as Fish Basket, a name that was given to it by the Indians. Many who know the place may not know why it was so named or that some of Guernsey county’s early history was connected with it.

Description of a Fish Basket.—As a device for catching fish in great quantities and with little effort the Indians would construct a fish basket. They would locate it at a wide place in a stream where the water was shallow, and usually where there was a riffle. From opposite points on the shores two walls of loose stone would be built towards the center of the stream, each leaving the shore at an angle of forty-five degrees. The walls would be pointed down stream, and if continued would come together at the center, thus forming an apex. But when brought to a distance of three or four feet from each other they were terminated, leaving a gap instead of an apex. Below this gap, or mouth as it was called, a “close” was built. This was an enclosure several feet in diameter, made by driving large stakes into the bed of the stream so close together that the big fish could not get through.

We can now see how easy it was to catch fish. Swimming down the stream, they would come to the wall, between the loose stones of which the water could flow but the fish could not pass. They would nose along the wall, seeking a place to get through, until they came to the gap through which they would pass into the “close”. Here their progress down steam would be obstructed by the stakes. They could turn around and swim out through the opening they came in, but that was neither their nature nor the way they wanted to go. At certain seasons of the year the fish would fill the enclosure within a very short time. The owners of a fish basket would empty it at frequent intervals.

The stone walls were built two or three feet higher than the normal stage of water and would remain intact in time of flood. It was often necessary to replace the stakes. A fish basket became a permanent fishing place and, if a good one, an Indian town would be located near by.

An Indian Town.—As told in another story in this chapter there was an Indian town four miles north of Cambridge. It was located on the farm of the late U. G. Campbell, in the field south of the residence and west of route 21. The fish basket above may have been a factor in determining its location. At any rate it was the town’s source of fish supply.

When the first settlers came here they found the Indian town apparently prospering and the Indians making use of the fish basket. The population consisted of about forty warriors and their squaws and children. They were friendly to their white neighbors and often gave them fish and game. Their chief was doughty who spent only a part of is time at this town. He seemed to hold a ruling power over several Indian towns and camps in this section–one of which was located at the juncture of Brushy Fork and Salt Fork creeks in what is now Jefferson township, one on Indian Camp run in Knox township, and one near the mouth of Bird’s run in Wheeling township.

It was only when chief Doughty visited the town that the settlers would become uneasy. He seemed to resent the encroachment of the white men on the Indians’ hunting and fishing ground. That he had an influence over the Indians near Fish Basket was indicated by their attitude toward the settlers at the time of his visits, which was always less friendly. After he would leave, however, they would become friendly again.

Indians continued to live below Fish Basket until the War of 1812. In this war the most of the Ohio Indians took sides with the British, having been aroused to war by emissaries who led them to believe that if the British were successful their lands would be restored. (The reader is referred to the story, “Indians in Guernsey County,” this chapter; also to “Last Indian of Jefferson Township,” Chapter XXV.)

Pioneers Make Use of Fish Basket.—For many years after the departure of the Indians the pioneers kept the Indian fish basket in repair. Wills creek was full of fish in those days. There were pike, perch, suckers and catfish. The carp, that has proven to be a nuisance, is not a native fish; it was introduced about sixty years ago. Wills creek carried less mud in early days than at the present time. From the ploughed hillsides mud is washed into the stream which, on account of its sluggishness, does not carry it away. When the hills were covered with trees the water was less muddy and a better place for fish.

When Wills creek became polluted the fish became less plentiful. No longer was it profitable to keep the walls of the fish basket repaired and the stakes set. Frequent floods over a long period of years have removed every trace of walls and enclosure. As in the past, however, this bend in the creek will always be known as Fish Basket.