History of Ashtabula County, Ohio

Sketch of the Early Settlement of Conneaut Township
by Harvey Nettleton, Esq.

Transcribed by Sharon Wick

The following article was found at Conneaut Public Library
It was taken from the Geneva Times Newspaper

     Conneaut is situated in the Northeast corner of the State of Ohio, and is bounded north by Lake Erie, East by the Pennsylvania line, South by Monroe and West by Kingsville.  Two miles of its territory has been run off from the south side of the township and annexed to Monroe, but it has a large gore or fractional township attached on the North, and is supposed at present to contain an area equal to a full township, or five miles square.  The face of the ground is agreeably diversified, and the soil principally adapted to fruit and grain culture, although many portions produce excellent grass.  It is abundantly watered by the Conneaut (creek) and its tributary rills, and likewise by numerous springs, which afford supplies of the best quality.

     The original proprietors of this township, as appeares by deeds executed as far back as 1806, were Benjamin Tallmadge, Frederick Wolcott, Uriah Holmes, Jr., Rodger Skinner, Ezra Wadsworth and Col. Storrs.  The latter owned the whole, or a principal part, of the gore situated West and North of the Conneaut Creek.

     Conneaut is said to be a Seneca word, signifying, literally, the river of many fish.

     At what time it first became known to the whites is not certain, but it is evident that the location had long been favorably known to the Indians.  The number and extent of their mounds and burying places afford evidence that it had been inhabited for ages, and that at some remote period of population had been numerous.  The place itself seemed to combine many of the advantages which are deemed desirable by uncivilized man.  The forest afforded plenty of game, the stream that flowed at their feet, as its name signifies, produced an abundant supply of fish, while the alluvial lands along the bottoms furnished a soil well adapted to their rude method of cultivation.  But their numbers were diminished by the encroachments of the whites, they were despoiled of their hunting grounds, which had been wrested from them by the treaty of Greenville, and were ultimately compelled to evacuate the country.  The last of the people who have resided permanently at Conneaut was a remnant of the Massasauga tribe, under the Chief of the name of Macqua Medah, or Bear's Oil.  His village was situated about the head of the spring immediately in the rear of the spot where the Conneaut House now stands, and consisted of some thirty or forty families.  This fountain affords a supply of pure water, and produces a little rill, which empties into the main stream at the foot of the hill, near the bridge.

     On the arrival of the first settlers their cabins to the number of thirty or forty were still standing, and it is said presented an appearance of neatness and comfort seldom seen among the Indians.  They were of rude structure from twelve to fifteen feet square, built of logs and covered with bark.  Their door casings and partitions were likewise of bark, displaying a good degree of skill and ingenuity in their construction.

     The settlers, not being very deeply impressed with the dignity of their public edifices, converted their council house into a barn, and their king's palace into an aviary, or hen roost.

     They found a square post eight or ten feet high and painted red, which was planted in the ground on the margin of the creek, near where the bridge now stands, that was supposed to indicate that the lands between it and the mouth of the creek, where their cornfields were situated, were not to be intruded upon by the whites.

     They found a square post eight or ten feet high and painted red, which was planted in the ground on the margin of the creek, near where the bridge now stands, that was supposed to indicate that the lands between it and the mouth of the creek, where their cornfields were situated, were not to be intruded upon by the whites.

     Bear's Oil, on leaving the country, threatened that if the settlers intruded on these lands, or disturbed the grave of his mother, he would return and scalp the inhabitants as far as he could pole a canoe up the creek.

     The immediate cause of the expulsion of Bear's Oil and his tribe from Conneaut, was a murder committed by one of his party on a white man by the name of Williams.  This individual, in trafficing with the Indians, had sold one of them a rifle, for which he agreed to trust him for a specified time, and receive his pay in peltries.  After the delivery of the rifle, Bear's Oil, either from motives of friendship or from a desire to involve Williams in difficulty, told him the Indian was bad and that he would never get his pay, whereupon Williams went to the Indian, demanded the return of his rifle, and compelled him to give it up.  Incensed at this procedure, on Williams leaving the village the Indian waylaid his path as he was passing down the beach and shot him, a few miles below the mouth of the Conneaut, and again possessed himself of the rifle.  As soon as the circumstance was known to the commanding officer of the military post at Presque Isle, he sent to Bear's Oil and demanded the murderer.  Bear's Oil, after some hesitation, agreed that if an officer and a suitable number as guard was sent forward to take charge of the prisoner, he should be given up.  On the arrival of the guard therefore, they were invited by Bear's Oil to remain until morning.  The invitation was accepted, but when morning came they were gravely informed by him that they had deliberated upon the subject, and had decided that they should not yield up the prisoner, at the same time making a show of his force, which consisted of thirty or forty warriors, armed and painted in a warlike manner.  The guard, unable to contend with so large a force, retired to their bateau7, which had been left at the head of the dead water, descended the creek, not, however, without apprehensions of a salute from the Indians' rifles as they passed some of the close thickets which covered the shore.  No interruption of the kind, however, occurred, and they returned with all possible expedition to Presque Isle.

     On the receipt of the intelligence the troops at the garrison, with as many volunteers as could be suddenly collected, were embarked in bateaux, with orders to proceed to Conneaut, secure the murderer, and inflict the requisite chastisement on the whole party.  But, arrived at the expected scene of action, they found the village solitary and alone.  The enemy had fled, and left them nothing on which to expend their valor; no war cry nor other sound of hostility could be heard.  Their scouts and flanking parties beat the bush to discover an ambush, but no ambush could be found.  Old Macqua Medah understood the nature of the call that was likely to be made upon him after what had transpired, and not desiring an interchange of such civilities, had launched his canoes and paddled them up the lake as far as Sandusky.

     It is said he afterwards located himself on the Wabash; however that may be, he has never returned to prosecute his claims to the Conneaut lands.

     Another village of more ancient date, said to have belonged to the Senecas, was situated on the East side of the creek on the farm now owned by Nathaniel B. Harmon.  Some of its ruins were remaining at the arrival of the first settlers.  They had a large field cleared on the bottoms, which gave evidence of having been cultivated for many years, and on which a flourishing apple tree was growing.

     Their burying place was near the bank, on the spot where Harmon's house now stands.  In digging his cellar and grading about the premises, a quantity of human bones were discovered, together with various utensils supposed to have been buried with their owners, among which was a copper kettle, believed to have been buried in the grave with Bears Oil's mother.  The kettle was in a good state of preservation, and is now in Mr. Harmon's family for domestic purposes.  Beneath the roots of a large stump, three feet in diameter, which was dug up by Mr. Harmon, was found the entire skeleton of a man above the common size, who had been buried on his face and a root of nearly the thickness of a man's leg growing directly across his neck.

     Two young men who were taken at St. Clair's defeat, on the Miami, Nov. 4th, 1792, are said to have been prisoners a considerable time among the Indians at this village.

     One of these individuals was Edmund Fitz Jeralds, who afterwards resided many years in the county; the name of his companion is not now remembered.

     They were among the number that survived the massacre of that day and were included in a company of prisoners claimed by different tribes, and afterwards marched towards the lakes.  They were detached at different points on the road as their owners separated, until on arriving at Conneaut two only were remaining.

     The arrival was celebrated by the usual ceremonies practised on like occasions.  The prisoners were subjected to the ordeal of running the gauntlet, and received the orthodox amount of kicks and blows on entering the village.  In the further disposition of the prisoners it was resolved, in solemn council, that the life of Fitz Jerald should be spared, but being desirous to initiate their young warriors in the sublime art of torturing the enemy, his companion was doomed to be burned.

     Preparations were accordingly made to carry the sentence into execution.  He was tied to a tree, a large quantity of hickory barks were collected, tied up into faggots, and piled around him.  But from the horrors of this condition and the immediate prospect of the most painful of all deaths, he was saved by the interposition of a young squaw belonging to the tribe, who touched with sympathy for the distress of the prisoner, interceded in his behalf, and by her expostulations, backed by several packages or bucks of fur, and a small purse of money, succeeded in effecting his deliverance - an act in the lowly Indian maid which entitles her name to be honorably recorded with that of Pocahontas, among the good and virtuous of every age.

     The circumstances here detailed were derived from the individual himself, who visited Conneaut in 1800, on his way up the lake, and pointed out the spot and the red oak tree to which he was tied.  The tree was easily identified by certain significant signs cut upon the bark with a tomahawk, among which was the figure of a scalp, etc., sufficiently explaining the purpose to which it had been appropriated.  After the events recorded, he continued to reside with the Indians, and was at length so far honored with their confidence as to be employed as an agent in the transaction of their business.  In this capacity he was finally dispatched to Detroit with a quantity of furs, for the purpose of obtaining some necessary supplies for their tribe which he was improved the opportunity and effected his escape.

     Meantime Fitz Jerald was employed in assisting to cultivate their fields with a wooden hoe, and in watching their horses to prevent them from destroying their corn.  Being thus engaged on one occasion in company with a young son of his Indian master, they were excessively annoyed by a certain gray horse that was so much bent on mischief he would not be prevented from getting into the field.  The young Indian at length became exasperated, drew his rifle and shot the animal dead on the spot.

    The father is said to have been highly pleased with the spirited conduct of his son.

    How long Fitz Jerald remained with the Indians, or by what means he obtained his freedom, is not known.

     The mounds that were situated in the Eastern part of what is now the village of Conneaut, and the extensive burying ground near the Presbyterian Church, appear to have had no connection with the burying places of the Indians.  They doubtless refer to a more remote period, and are the relics of an extinct race, of whom the Indians had no knowledge.  These mounds were of comparatively small size, and of the same general character of those that are widely scattered over the country.  What is most remarkable concerning them, is, that among the quantity of human bones they contain, there are found specimens belonging to men of large stature, and who must have been nearly allied to a race of giants.  Skulls were taken from these mounds the cavities of which were of sufficient capacity to admit the head of an ordinary man, and jaw-bones that might be fitted on over the face with equal facility.  The bones of the arms and lower limbs were of the same proportions, exhibiting occular proof of the degeneracy of the human race since the period in which these men occupied the soil which we now inhabit.  These mounds were, doubtless, held in great veneration in the ages to which they refer, not only as the depositories of their dead, but probably as the altars where their religious rites and sacrifices were performed which may account for the origin of the custom which so universally prevails among Christian nations, of burying their dead under or in the immediate vicinity of the churches.  It is certain that, on opening the mounds, they are found to contain a quantity of charcoal, which may be the remains of the sacrificial wood, and fragments of a strong earthen ware, which may be the remnants of the vessels in which their incense was offered.

     The ancient burying grounds referred to, situated a little West of the site where the brick church now stands, presents an object of deeper interest perhaps  than any other relic remaining in the neighborhood.  It occupied an area of about four acres of land, extending northward from the bank of the creek, near the brick church, to Main street, and westward to the present residence of Mr. Horatio Thurber, and presenting, with the exception of an angle in the south line, in compliance with the course of the bank, the form of an oblong square.  It appeared to have been accurately surveyed into lots, running from north to south, and exhibited all the order of propriety or arrangement deemed requisite to constitute Christian burial.

     If the observation be just that the character of a people may be estimated by the order and taste displayed in their places of sepulchre, we shall be led to judge favorably of that people whose remains have long mouldered beneath these graves.

     On the first examination of the ground by the settlers they found it covered with trees not distinguishable from the surrounding forest, except an opening near at the center containing a single butternut, which still remains to mark the spot.  The graves were distinguished by slight depressions in the surface of the earth disposed in straight rows, which, with the intervening spaces, or alleys, covered the whole area within the boundaries before specified, which was estimated to contained two to three thousand graves.  These depressions, on a thorough examination made by Esq. Aaron Wright, as early as 1800, were found invariably to contain human bones, blackened with time, which on exposure to the air soon crumbled to dust.

     The imagination is pained in endeavoring to penetrate the mystery in which the history of the people is shrouded.  That the multitude whose mortal remains people these mansions of the dead, once existed, that they lived, died and were buried, is sufficiently obvious; but, of their origin, language, religion, or political and social condition, we can know absolutely nothing.

     It will naturally be inferred that a burying ground of the character above described, must have been located amidst a populous district, and that the surrounding country has once been filed with a multitude of human inhabitants.

     Evidence in confirmation of this fact is likewise obtained from the traces of ancient cultivation observed by the first settlers on the lands in the vicinity, which although covered with forest, exhibited signs of having once been thrown up into squares and terraces, and laid out into gardens.

     Some idea of the changes produced within the last half century, may be formed from the vague notions entertained at the time, of the country situated on the borders of Lake Erie.  The man is now living who recollects having heard the question asked, in presence of a number of intelligent men in a town of Connecticut, what lake lay immediately West of Lake Ontario, and there was not an individual present who could give the desired information.  One man observed however, that he believed it was Lake Erie.  It was regarded as distant, solitary lake, situated far toward the setting sun, and its name intimately associated with that of the West Sea.  It was represented as being surrounded with dark forests, and its shores infested with dangerous serpents, and bests of prey.  Among the latter was the porcupine, which, according to popular belief, was a formidable animal, armed at all points with sharp jagged spears, which could be projected to a distance with the most deadly precision.  But the explorations of the Connecticut Land Company, and their subsequent purchase of the territory comprised within the limits of the Western Reserve, served to dispel these illusions, and to afford the public an opportunity of becoming better acquainted with the country.  The purchase was made in 1795, subject to the Indian claim, although it appears that, at the time, the lands lying East of the Cuyahoga river, had been ceded to the United States by Wayne's treaty.

     As the objects contemplated by the company were the immediate occupation and settlement of the country, flattering representations were made of the many advantages it possessed, the luxuriance of its soil, and the beauty of magnificence of its forests, and New Connecticut, the name by which it was then known, obtained a popularity equal to that of the most favored regions of the "far west" at the present day.

     Early in the spring of 1706 a party of men were despatched by the company for the purpose of making a survey of the country.  On their arrival at Schenectady they procured three batteaux,  which being freighted with necessary supplies for the expedition, proceeded by the way of Oswego, Niagara and Queenston to Buffalo.  Here they were joined by their friends, who had traveled by land, and had an interview with the Indians for the purpose of explaining to them the object of their expedition, and of conciliating their favor by distributing presents among them.  The occasion, it is said, was attended with considerable display, the principal agent on the part of the company being dressed in scarlet broadcloth, for the purpose of enhancing his own consequence, and producing an imposing effect on the minds of the Indians.  Brandt, who was present at the time, informed them that the Indians with whom he was connected, had claims on the land in question, and advised them that it would be unsafe to enter upon them until those claims should be satisfied.

     It was urged that inasmuch as the lands had been unconditionally ceded to the United States, no claims of the kind could be considered as valid; but Brandt professed himself not sufficiently enlightened to be able to discover by what rule or code of morals the western tribes had inheritance of his people.  Not having words to waste on an unenlightened man, and discovering that an answer to the reasoning might be attended with a little inconvenience, they concluded to accede to the terms, and gave assurance that his claims should be satisfied.

     From this point, as appears from the communication of Judge Porter? to whom the writer acknowledges himself indebted, the expedition proceeded, a part by land, with pack horses; and a part by water, and arrived at the mouth of Conneaut creek on the 4th day July, 1796, and celebrated the day.  The party then pitched their tents on the east side of the creek, in a beautiful grove of young maples and other forest trees which occupied the space between the high bank and the water's edge, a spot well remembered by the early settlers, but which has long since been swept away by the encroachments of the lake.  Under this delicious shade they regaled themselves and evinced their patriotism in full bumpers - drank to the success of home, friends, country and the enterprise in which they were engaged, and that no part of the associations connected with the occasion should be wanting.  It is said they succeeded in getting up a fight, which was stoutly contested by the combatants wand concluded in the most amicable manner by drinking health, and wishing each other every possible happiness.

     Near the same spot, and on ground since covered by the waters of the lake, they afterwards erected a house, a substantial log building, from thirty to forty feet in length, and of proportionable width, designed as a residence, and as a depository for their stores.  It is said to have been fitted up with a reasonable attention to convenience, having a well shingled roof, and the floors, partitions, doors, etc., made from boards sawed out by a whip saw.

     In this building Judge Kingsbury, who was attached to the company of surveyors, continued to reside with his family through the succeeding winter, being the first white family that is known to have wintered on the Reserve.

     The story of the suffering of this family during that severe winter, ahs often been told, but in the midst of plenty, when want is unknown, can with difficulty be appreciated.

     The surveyors, in the prosecution of their labors, in running out the lands into townships, had, during the season, made considerable progress westerly, consequently their stores had been principally removed to Cleveland, whilst the family of Judge Kingsbury remained at Conneaut.

     Circumstances rendering it necessary during the fall for him to make a journey to the State of New York, he left his family in expectation of a speedy return, but in his absence was attacked by a severe fit of illness which confined him to his bed until the setting in of winter.  As soon as he was able to travel he started on his return, and proceeded to Buffalo, where he hired an Indian guide to conduct him through the wilderness.  At Presque Isle, anticipating the wants of his family, he purchased twenty pounds of flour, and continued his route.  In crossing Elk Creek on the ice, he disabled his horse, where he left him in the snow, and mounting the flour on his own back, pursued his way toward home, filled with the most gloomy forebodings in relation to the fate of his family.

     On his arrival, which was late in the evening, he found his worst apprehensions more than realized, and was presented with a scene well calculated to agonize the breast of the husband and father.  Stretched on her cot he beheld the partner of his cares, who ha cheerfully followed his footsteps through all the dangers and hardships of the wilderness without repining, pale and emaciated, reduced by meagre famine to the last stages in which life can endure; and near the mother, placed on his little pallet, were the remains of his youngest child, born in his absence, and who had just expired for want of that nourishment which the mother, deprived herself of sustenance, was unable to afford.  Shut up by a gloomy wilderness, far distant from the aid and sympathy of friends, filled with anxiety for an absent husband, suffering with want, destitute of necessary assistance, and seeing her children expiring around her with hunger.  Such is the picture presented, by the contemplation of which our excellent wives and daughters may form some estimate of the hardships endured by the pioneers of this beautiful country of ours.

     It appears that Judge Kingsbury, in order to supply the wants of his family, was under the necessity of transporting his provisions on  the ice from Cleveland on a hand sled, and that himself and hired man drew a barrel of beef the whole distance at a single load.

     Such an operation performed at this day, would be an effectual antidote to the complaints so often reiterated in our country of the abundance and cheapness of provisions.

     The first white man known to have resided in the township was an individual by the name of Halsted, sometimes called the Conneaut hermit.  This man, for some cause unknown, had become disgusted with the world, and retiring beyond the boundaries of civilization, had taken up his solitary abode in the wilds of Conneaut.  He was discovered by the surveyors soon after their arrival, who in tracing the State line southerly from the lakeshore, were guided to his retreat by the sound of his axe.  His cabin was situated in East Conneaut, on the farm now owned by Daniel Baldwin, about one mile south from the ridge road, and one forth of a mile west from the State line.  He had, from his own statement, resided on the spot for three or four years, subsisted by hunting and cultivating a few vegetables on a patch he had cleared around his hut.  In addition to this clearing he had girdled or deadened the timber on a few acres around him, apparently with the design of extending his improvements and making a permanent residence.

     He was a man in the prime of his life, and notwithstanding his hermit dress, of respectable appearance.  He stated that he was a native of Old Bay State, but of the particulars of his own history and the motives that had induced his voluntary banishment from home, kindred and the blessings of social life - whether 'twas

Friendship unreturned
Or unrequitted love -

he would give no satisfactory account.  He had chosen the wilderness for a home, and was evidently displeased at the presence of the surveyors in the neighborhood, judging, doubtless, that they were only the precursors of a tribe of emigrants, who, like the locusts of Egypt, were destined to fill the land.

     He soon left his cabin and disappeared from the country, probably in search of some retirement more remote from human habitation.

     The first permanent settlers in Conneaut were Robert Montgomery and Thomas, his son, who removed from Harpersfield, in the State of New York, with their families, and settled in the township in 1798.  They came up the lake in batteaux, and were designing to settle in Harpersfield, but on landing at Conneaut they were so well pleased with the appearance of the country and the facilities it afforded for getting in crops, that they were induced to remain.  They found the house built by the surveyors, unoccupied, which, together with another building situated further up the creek, and erected by Judge Kingsbury, accommodated both families with the convenient dwelling.

     The old Indian corn-fields which were lying waste, seemed to invite the hand of industry to till the soil and reap the fruit of their labors.  The result fully realized their expectations, and furnished an abundant supply for the wants of their families.

     Here secluded from the world and freed from the collisions which agitate communities, with nature smiling around them, they enjoyed that contentment which is not to be obtained from the artificial refinements of modern society.

     The next year, 1790, Samuel Bemus arrived with his family from the Genessee.  He had visited the country the year previous, and made a location on the creek bottoms, about three miles from its mouth, it being a part of the farm on which he still resides, and built his cabin on the east side of the creek, nearly opposite to his present residence.

     He was the individual who first introduced the culture of tobacco into Northern Ohio, an important event to the consumers of that article, as it was a rare and subtle weed and difficult to be obtained.

     The first birth and death in the township, with the exception of the young child of Judge Kinsbury alluded to happened in his family.

     Amelia Bemus died September 17th, 1799, aged three years and ten months.

     Aaron Wright and Nathan King, two young men, arrived in the country the same year, who afterwards married and settled in the township.

     In the spring of 1800, Capt. James Harper and James Montgomery from Harpersfield, New York, came on with their families and settled at the mouth of the creek, Capt. Harper on the east, on the farm now owned by the Messrs. Gilberts, and Montgomery on the west, on the Ford farm.

     Two young men, Daniel Baldwin2 and James Laughlin, arrived the same year, and who subsequently became permanent settlers in the townships.  From this period, as the tide of emigration began to flow more strongly, yearly accessions were made to the settlement, cabins were soon to be seen to rise in many parts of the township, and the forests were being converted into fruitful fields.

     The names of David Gould, Elisha King, John King, Hannaniah Brooks, John Harper and John Montgomery are likewise entitled to be recorded among the first settlers of the township.  But, for more full and accurate details under the head of early settlement, reference as here made to the report of Aaron Wright, Esq., already on the records of the Society, to which this is supplementary.

       The first wheat grown in Conneaut was raised by Robert Montgomery on a field situated in the east part of Conneaut village, and the spot where the Mansion House now stands, the underwood only having been cleared away, and the larger trees girdled while in full leaf, the withered leaves still adhering to the branches and waving above the rich grain, is said to have presented a novel appearance.

     This wheat, when harvested, was stowed in the old Council House, and some of the grain was carried to Niagara Falls for the purpose of being ground.

     The Indians continued to frequent the country during the hunting season and appeared to experience a melancholy pleasure in revisiting their old accustomed haunts, amidst the graves of their fathers, and in roaming the same forests through which their ancestors from time immemorial had followed the chase of the bear and the elk.

     They are known to have realized considerable profits from taking their game, and their canoes annually descended the Conneaut richly laden with the product of the winter's hunt.  They were sometimes followed by the traders and visited in their encampments, and received from them goods and considerable sums in specie, in exchange for their furs.

     Rufus S. Reed, at his first commencement in Erie, Pa., was for several years engaged in this traffic with the Indians, and was in the habit of traversing the woods through snows with the pack of goods on his back, or otherwise on the back of a French pony that sometimes accompanied him, visiting the different encampments for the purpose of trade.  Engaged in one of these expeditions, he left Conneaut on a severe wintry day with his pony, with the design of reaching the station of old Philip, a Seneca Indian well known to the early settlers, who was supposed to be encamped at the time somewhere in the township of Denmark.

     As the pony on this occasion had no other incumbrance than a sack of dollars, which was firmly attached to his saddle, it was supposed that he could, occasionally, well afford to endure the weight of his master.  Mr. Reed accordingly mounted on his back and pursued his way very industriously, following a trail which the Indians had made through the snow, until discovering that he was beginning to experience the effects of the cold, he alighted and continued his route on foot, driving his pony before him.  Whether or not there was some secret consciousness in the mind of the intelligent brute in relation to the value attached to the dollars, cannot be determined; but it is certain, that on Mr. Reed approaching him for the purpose of remounting, he most peremptorily refused any such interference with his liberty.  The hitherto docile animal rejected all terms of accommodation, and with the utmost cunning and perseverance eluded every attempt to entrap him into submission.  In this pursuit the trail was soon lost, and Mr. Reed, after wandering many hours, found  his strength nearly exhausted.  At this juncture he was so fortunate as to fall in with Seth Harrington, a resident of Conneaut, who had been out on a hunting expedition, and was then directly from Philip's camp.  Him he hired to pursue and shoot the animal and bring in the money, while he, by taking Harrington's back track, made his way toward the encampment.  Harrington soon overtook the pony, and by driving him into a narrow point of land in a bend of the Ashtabula Creek, succeeded in capturing and bringing in both horse and money in triumph.

     The early settlers labored under great embarrassment in preserving their domestic animals from the ravages of the wild beasts.

     Messrs. Morgan and Murran, of Springfield, Pa., who, with their wives, occupied the same cabin, had with difficulty procured a swine, which, with her progeny, were entrenched in a strong pen contiguous to the house.  During the dark night, their husbands being necessarily absent, the repose of the ladies was disturbed by a very shrill sernade, which seemed to proceed from the precincts of the pen aforesaid, and rousing themselves to ascertain the cause, they discovered that a large bear had made an assault on the swine in question, and was endeavoring to carry them off.  They made every exertion, by uttering loud screams and throwing firebrands, to terrify the animal, but he did not seem disposed to relinquish his prey.  As a last resource they took down the rifle that was hanging on the beam, but found it uncharged.  One of the ladies observed that she thought that she could load the gun, for she had heard her husband say that it required just two fingers of powder.  They accordingly poured liberally into the muzzle, one of them meantime measuring lenthwise of her fingers until the full amount was ascertained, then driving down a ball they sallied out to the attack.

     One lady held the light while the other fired off the gun.  Such another report from the tube of equal capacity, will probably never be heard.  The ladies both fell prostrate and insensible and the gun flew into the bushes.  The bear was doubtless alarmed, but not materially injured.

     Among the early settlers of the township was James Ferguson, a native of Pennsylvania, who built a log house on the corner opposite the Mansion House, now occupied by Messrs. Reed & Gould's store, and was for a considerable time the only occupant and possessor of the lands on which the principal part of the village of Conneaut is now located.  Some circumstances in the previous history of this family, are worthy of special notice.

     It carries us back to the Revolution and introduces us to the scenes of Indian atrocity enacted on the frontiers of New York and Pennsylvania.  The wife of Ferguson, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Fulton, at the time a child of eight or nine years of age, resided with her father, John Fulton, on the west branch of the Susquehanna.  The family consisted of the father and mother, Francis, the elder brother, aged 17 or 18, Elizabeth, two twin brothers, aged four or five years, and an infant at the breast.

     The continued state of apprehension occasioned by the frequent incursions of the Indians into the neighborhood, had induced the inhabitants to construct a place of defence to which they might retire in case of danger.  For this purpose they had converted the house of Fulton, a strong log dwelling, into a garrison, and surrounded it with such defences as their means would allow, until it was deemed of sufficient strength to enable them to repel the assaults of the Indians.

     Whenever the inhabitants were relieved from apprehension of immediate attack, they retired to their farms, leaving a suitable guard under arms to keep the fort and act as spies on the enemy.  Such was the state of things when the incidents alluded to, and which proved so disastrous to the Fulton family, transpired.

     Having discovered no traces of the enemy for some time, the families which had been collected in the fort had retired to their respective habitations, and were pursuing their ordinary business, leaving the guard and the family of Fulton the only occupants of the garrison.  Provisions becoming scarce, the main part of the guard were despatched early in the morning to bring in a supply, leaving but two of their number to take charge in their absence.  Fulton and his son still fearing that the Indians might be lurking in the neighborhood, and that they would avail themselves of absence of the guard to attack the fort, determined to remain within until the return of the guard.  This prudent determination, however, so far as the elder Fulton was concerned, was defeated by an officious neighbor, who came in for the purpose of getting a set of plough irons sharpened.  Fulton, who was a blacksmith, objected to going to the shop until the return of the guard, for the causes above stated, and said he believed the Indians were lurking in the Laurel Swamp.  The neighbor was inclined to think lightly of the subject, and by persisting in his purpose, finally prevailed.  The shop was situated some distance from the house and near the edge of the woods.  They entered it however, and while busily employed at the forge, were surprised by the entrance of three powerful looking savages who instantly assailed them with their knives and tomahawks, while Fulton and his friend defended themselves with sledge hammers and such other weapons as were at hand.  They were soon engaged in a desperate conflict, in which the Indians were put to the worst.  Two of them were already prostrate by the sweep of Fulton's hammer, and was raising it for the finishing stroke, when glancing his eyes to the door he saw a company of twenty to thirty Indians with their weapons raised, running to the rescue of their friends.  Fulton saw that further resistance was vain, and speaking to his friend, who was still engaged in a contest with the other savage, requested him to desist and yield himself a prisoner, but declaring that he would not be taken alive, he made a furious charge upon the door as the Indians were entering, and being a man of powerful muscle, succeeded in forcing a passage through, overturning all that came in his way.  But his efforts could not avail, for he had no sooner cleared the press and started for the woods, than a dozen rifles were pointed at him, and in attempting to leap a fence that obstructed his way, he fell dead pierced with many bullets.  Fulton was secured, with his arms closely pinioned, when the Indians proceeded cautiously toward the fort.  Those within, who had been alarmed at the report of firearms, were filled with consternation on perceiving Fulton already a prisoner and the enemy advancing in such numbers to attack the fort.

     Young Fulton, with admirable presence of mind, proposed that as they had plenty of arms and ammunition, they should defend the fort to the last extremity, but in this manly resolution he was not sustained by his two companions.  These miscreants, on the approach of the Indians, consulted their own safety by throwing open the doors and escaping to the woods, leaving the family to their fate.  The Indians, observing the movement and perceiving their advantage, raised a yell and rushed into the fort, bearing their prisoner along with them.  Young Fulton, betrayed and deserted by his companions, lingered until the enemy had almost reached the door, when, instructed by his mother to provide for his own safety, he sprang swiftly past them and succeeded in making his escape.

     On the first alarm, the mother was ironing at a table.  She immediately left her work and caught up her infant, who was sleeping in the cradle, while the little boys instinctively fled to her side for protection; in the meantime Elizabeth was no where to be found.

     The scene that followed the entrance of the Indians is almost too painful to admit of minute description.  The little boys, on perceiving their father standing near the door ran towards him, but before they could reach the spot where he stood, they were met, and one of them struck down by the tomahawk of a savage.  The other succeeded in reaching his father, when laying hold of his clothes he pleaded with all the beseaching eloquence of childhood and innocence that he would save him from the Indians.  While thus pleading for his life, a savage stept up behind him and buried a tomahawk in his head.  The feelings of the father, thus manacled and unable to stretch out a hand for the protection of his child, are only known to that God in whose hands are the destinies of all his creatures.  An Indian then snatched the babe from the arms of its mother and by his motions seemed to threaten its instant destruction, bu8t paused as if wavering in his purpose, and after examining the child attentively for a few moments returned it to his mother.

     After their thirst for blood had been thus in some measure satisfied, they loaded themselves with as much plunder as they could carry, and setting fire to the house, departed hastily with their prisoners.  They had proceeded but a short distance when their attention was arrested by the barking of their dogs near a clump of bushes.  Returning to ascertain the cause, they discovered Elizabeth secreted in the thicket, whither she had crept on the first alarm being given, and where, had it not been for the sagacity of their dogs, she might still have remained in safety.

     She was added to the number of prisoners, which now consisted of father and mother, Elizabeth and the infant.  The Indians now led the way to a large laurel swamp which lay in the vicinity of the settlement where, concealed in the dense laurel thicket, they lay consealed the remainder of the day and the succeeding night without kindling a fire, and taking special care to prevent the escape of their prisoners.

     They here learned that their captors were a ware party of the Senecas, consisting of twenty-five Indians an done negro.  Early the next morning they commenced their route through the wilderness to Niagara.  The Indians being apprehensive of pursuit, urged the prisoners rapidly forward through the day, until exhausted by fatigue and faint with hunger, at the approach of night they arrived at a deserted cabin, where they encamped, and for the first time the Indians ventured to kindle a fire.  Their supper was soon prepared, which their captives were invited to share.  But our limits will not admit of  minute detail, and the story of Indian captivity has been too often told to require repetition in this place.  It is sufficient to say, that after a journey of two weeks through the wilderness and the endurance of much suffering and privation, they arrived at Niagara, the place of their destination.  Here Elizabeth was separated from her parents and adopted into an Indian family to supply the place of a young daughter they had lost.  She was subsequently purchased by Col. Butler, a British officer, and taken into his family to wait on his sister, who was in a declining state of health.

     After a captivity of two years and four months, she, together with her parents and infant brother, was redeemed, and returned with them by the way of Quebec, New York and Philadeophia, to her home on the Susquehanna, where she had the happiness of again meeting her brother Francis.

"Written in 1844-5."

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2. Buried in East Conneaut Cemetery which is also known as Furnace Road Cemetery & Lakeville Cemetery.

 

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