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Ebenezer Battelle Account


[This account was written by Ebenezer Battelle. The spelling is as was written. There were no common spelling rules as we know them. Many educated men misspelled words.]

My Father, Cob Ebenr Battelle, was one of the first Settlers of Belpre’ on the 11th April 97  [1789] and was joind by his famiiy.a short timeafter from Marietta where they had, arrived, the Year: before. from Boston, Ms.

My Father was the only Son of, Ebenr. Battelle a farmer, in Dedham, MS, and was Educated at Cambridge University; He resided in Boston; Six Years previous to his emegrating to this Country. and while a resident of Boston keept the second Book Store in the town. To the first keept by MrGuile was a Circulating Library, to assist, or help sutain the Book Store. On the sixth day of April ‘88, or the day before the Ohio Company landed at Marietta, My Father in company with Cob John May & others, saild from Boston to Baltimore, and after voyage & Journey of six weeks, landed at Marietta, having sometimes to unload their heavy wagons & double team to assend the Mountain. In October of the Same Year my Father meet his Family in Baltimore accompanied by Daniel Mayo Esqr from Boston, now Post Master Newport and after a long & tedious Journey over the Mountain arrived at the forks of Yough, or Simmerals—Ferry. Here the Emigrants meet with several Famileys, Charles Greene, J Peirce, Capt King, and many others bound to Marietta, and often remaining at this place several days, preparing a boat. Eight families stow’d into a Kentucky boat, in a few days in the Month of Deer landed at Marietta and wer heartily greeted by the few famileis & Freinds who had, arrived at Campus Martius the s Aug & Sept previous.

The first Settlers of Belprie were, principally those who came to Marietta with the Ohio Company Soon after they commenc’d clearing land. Capt. Zebulon King, from Rhode Island) a worthy and highly esteem’d Citizen, while at in preparing for the reception of his familey, was murder’d and most bruthially mangled by the Indians, who had untill this time been at peace with the Settlers. The day after this had event, Col E, Battelle with a\Part of his family, Griffin Greene Esqr, and others in a large canoe with provisions, plows, axes & hoes etc on our way for Belpre wer call’d to the shore by to Marietta with the report of the death of Capn ?? and the savage circumstances with which it was attended, caused much painful senaation to those who were about to commence a Settlement in the wilderness and no security against a savage foe. Some on board the canoe wer anxious to return, not willing to risk their lives surounded by Indians to settle a new Country. After some consultation it was thought best to go on. Col Battelle had just put up a small house nearly opposite the middle of Blennerhassett Island at which place, those who wer near came together and kept guard through the Night, and in the old Continental stile the sentana woud sing out every 15 minuets all’s well, affording a fine opportunity to let the enemy know where he was.

The alarm soon past away, and we remain’d in peace more than a year. But in the summer of ‘90 the Inhabittans of Belpre wer threatened with a more sererns affliction if possible than the Savage foe. The New Settlers wer anxious to clear as much land as they could with a view to obtain bread or grain for their families and wer late in planting, together with an early or untimely frost in autum destroyed the greater part of the corn, beans, etc then growing’ for the insuing season; many of the Inhabitants having but little bread or meat, till the wheat woud do to grind on the hand mi1l.  this was hastened before harvest by cutting & drying, and ?uhing out the wheat by hand to grind the hand mill. The frequent depradations of the Indians in the winter of 1791, so alarmd the Inhabants of Belpre, that it was thought best to unite in one settlement, and build fort, to guard against  supprise by the enemy The Settler from the and lower Settlements came with their families and a part of their stock, cattle & Hogs, & such articles as cou’d be removed to save from distruction, (ofwhat remain’d, some wer kill’d & some driven that wer left in pens off. Hogs kill’d or shot by the Indians. the hog left, to fatten on corn fed once in three or four days.

In January of this Year, more than twenty Familes came together at the dwellings of Col Battelle Coi Cushing, and Griffin Greene Esqr and immediately comenced building Block Houses, which wer put up with round logs, 20 feet long, the upper story progesting over the lower with port holes, that the enemy might be reach’d, in case they shou’d attempt to fire the buildings, or force their way in at the door or windows, which wer double plank’d a bullet proof. These buildings, say ten, wer occupied by two & some thre families each, some two & others one room on a floor. They wer arranged the line of fortication between the dwelling prviously built.

The Block-houses wer not yet finish’d when a report reach’d Castle, that the Indians wer preparing for an attack upon the Inhabitants, and wer determined not to leave a smoke on the North West side of the Ohio River. Ever effort war now made to compleat the Fort, by a range of Pickets, from House to house. The timber for which was obtain in the following manner, A meeting was call’d, five teems of two Yoak Oxen each, four or five men to each teem,, A lively competition was excited, who should cut and draw the most timber. On that day (Sunday) the way the rail cut for Pickets. wer dropt, or drawn, allong the line was a caution to the Lazy. The timber was split into what might be call’d large rails or Picket plac’d 2 feet in the ground, and nine feet above ground. The Garrison was 70 rods in length, 70 wide. The Gates, on the East, West & North, wer 9 feet high, 10 feet wide, made of thick, hew oak plank, with heavy bars.

On the South wer smaller -call water Gates, leading to the River. two on the W, three on the S and one Gate at each end. About seventy Mon wer enroi’d & muster’d in the Fort, which was commanded by Col. Nath Cushing a part of the time, but in times of alarm or greater danger six others wer chosen by the Garrison called Officers of the day, and wer on duty alternately through the week. Guards or Sentanals wer kept day & Night, notwithstanding frequent alarms and threatening danger, no direct attack was made by the Indians on the Garrison.

A part of time during the Indian war, a small guard a Sargent & four men, United States soldiers, wer detach’d from a Company, Commanded by Capt Jas Haskell, than station’d at Marietta, wer sent to Farmers Castle to aid in its defense, and in turn with a small company of the Settlers who wer inlisted and drew pay from the war department mounted guard daily, Co. Dillanano, Joel Oaks, John Shephard, Patterson, Joshu Freeheart and some others wer imployed as spys or rangers, only two imployed at one time; These men, ‘thvö’ the day, wer constantly ranging the woods on the lopk out for the enemy, ‘tho’ but seldom meeting with them. Yet often giving information of their trail & damage done by them. In the Summer wer dresst in the Indian costome, The small company Com’d by Col Cushing, mustered daily, at Sun rise by beat of drum and the guard releive’d. A common school was taught in the winter season by Daniel Mayo. At this time there was no relelgeous Society, or Minester in the place, and but few profeson of the Christian Religian. It was however the custom of the people to meet on the Sabath, and hear a sermon read by Col Battelle from Dr Blair, Dr Clark or sometimes writen by himself, 

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Prayers read or extempor by the same attended with singing. The Sabath ‘tho’ considered as day of rest, was not strictly regarded as a holy day. During the first Summer that the inmates of the Castle wer together, an association mutially formed, to bear the loss of (stock) Cattle or hogs kill’d or driven off by Indians, or other damages if loss of property. also for the cultivation of land distant from the Garrison, in order that this might be done with greater safety, parties, from thirty to forty well arm’d men, wou’d labor in one field, in putting in, or tending the crop, with guard around them. Thus they labour’d with the plow or hoe in one hand and the Rifle or Musket in the other.

Small forraging parties were sometimes attacked by the Indians, a short distance from the Garrison as the spring advancd. Majr Robt Bradford, Majr Waldo Putnam, and Nathl Little Esqr wer attending to their cattle, half mile from the fort, their fathful Dog gave notice of an enemy at hand, while one of the party exclaim’d “Indians”. the party ran, and wer closly persued within a short distance of the Gates of the Castle and on being fired on by ye fort, retreated. A similar circumstance occur’d with the same party on the same ground not long afterwards.

Frequent allarms wer given by small parties of Indians, but few lives lost and not many prison ers taken from us. One of the spies John Shephard was remarkable for his activity, in walking on his hands with his feet above his head, thus he woud walk on a pleasant evening the length of the Garrison to the no small amusment of the Girls & boys around Him. An other of Spies John Hollibout, while on a tour of duty, on the look out for Indians was supprised by a party of the savage foe that scaipt on the waters of Little Hochocking. A party of arm’d men, convey’d his remains to the burrying ground where he was decently inter’d. In the summer following the building the Castle, the Inhabitants became quite tired of Grinding corn and wheat on the hand mill, their main dependance for bread, as it was not often tha flour or meal could be had. Capt Js Devol and others built the first floating mill in North West Territory placed on two boats anchor’d in the swift current of the Ohio. and w’d grind from twenty to fifty bushiel corn or wheat in 24 hours & with a hand boalt on shore, quite good flour war obtained. The boats on which the mill ran wer 45 feet in length, five or six feet wide the one nine, the other five feet wide, eight feet between the boats for the boats for wheel, moord by a stone anchor framed in wood, with Chain cable, above the Center of Blenner Island. Just as the mill was ready to leave the landing where it was built, many persons wer ready to assist & in taking the mill to her anchorage, as the was about putting out, one of the inmates of the Castle a Dr. B(arns) made his appearance with a mill boys coat & hat, with a small bag of corn on his back earnestly desiring that his Grist might be ground before the Mill left there, as he dare not venture with such a machine into the streem, and his poor family wer hungry for bread. It was immediately concluded to turn the wheel by hand and grind the poor man’s corn, as the grist was small and the first put in the mill, the greater part of the meal was required to fill up the Hoop around the ston, and but little left to go into the bag. For this he made great complaint, saying that had kept the grist and only gave him the ? which wou’d distress his poor wife & ten children, for “they had not got no bread to eat at hum” but after some amusement of this kind the ballence of the meal was found and received with much gratitude.

Capn Js Devol, Eb Jr & others tended this mill alternately. The Island opposite the Casten, then owned by Elijar Backus, and was Inhabited by the Holliboat family, who wer cloathed in dear skins from the oldest to the Youngest, then and these own’d the only mill within ten miles of them, and this turn’d by hand, to which a person then liven on Little Hocking walk’d cheerfully with a Bushiel of corn on his back, pay’d a small tole, ground his corn by hand Y packed it home. The Garrison built by Majr Gooale & others, nearly opposite the foot of the Island was about fifty Yards in length and twenty wide four or five block houses, was built the second Year of the war. The fields cultivated with corn, potatoes etc in the middle settlement, wer near the Garrison those in the Upper and lower Settlement wer from two to three miles distance, from these fields we rec’d the most of our supplies of provision without sending a distance for them. Our ration of pork was much shortned the first Year of the war, by a very unfortunate circumstance, a number of the people who had hogs to kill, agreed to use as slaughter house, a vacated building, half mile from the fort, and as many hogs as cou’d be dress’d were hung up in the fornoon, and while the butchers wer at home at the house containing the port, was on fire and the pork roasting rapidly. Much alarm, and fears that the Indians had set the house in flames to draw out the people from the Castle, but it was soon assertaind that the fire caught by accident; attempts wer made to save their Bacon, but it was too late, all was lost.

Much pleasure was injoyed by the Young people in the Summer Evenings in walks with the Garrison, At other seasons the old fashion’d plays, and sometimes the Social Dance, wou’d occupy the time. On one occasion, the fourth of July was cellebrated, on the Island by the Young folks by a dance, if not on the Green, was on the ground where the Sun had not shone for Centuries Much was enjoyed by the Girls & boys in that on this beautiful Island, in search of Paw—paws, Grapes, Nuts, etc. Before the close the war, a family by the Name of Armstrong, residing near the head of the Island, in Virginia, was attack’d at dawn of day by the Indians, the mother and three children kill’d two taken prisoners, the Father made his escape. The alarm was give at the Castle at sunrise the alarm Guns fired, all hand call’d to Quarters an attack on the fort was expected, as the party of Indians more numerous than any that had been arround us. Two lads were sent in a Canoe down the River to give Notice to the forts below & to Belville, soon after we reach’d Belville, 20 men from a block—house, where Parkersburgh now stands came on to Belville and stated that the Indians about twenty, had just raised their Canoes and had cross’d the 0 River near the Mouth of Big Hocking. Twenty five men & a few lads persued the Indians several miles up the Big Hockhocing, found their Canoes sunk in a small Creek, and the prints of the little prisoners feet in the mud as they left their Canoes a few hours before, it was thought to be two late to pursue, we raised their Canoes took them with us & returned home.

In the Spring after the fort was built at the foot of the Island by Majr. Goodale & others, at a time of extrem high water when it was thought there was no enemy near, Majr. Goodale  was a short distance from the Garrison,  attending his stock etc, and not returning at Night, the alarm was given, and search made next day, it was ascertained that he was taken prisoner by the Indians, and as he was not afterwards heard was from, it was believed that he had fallen a victim to savage barbarity.

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Joshy. Freeheart, or as he was ca1l’d ?eaheart,  an old Hunter, who sometimes assisted as a spy, during the war, with war the Indians near the close of the Freeheart left the Castle in a small Canoe, for a hunt & trapping for fur, fifty miles up the Big Thenhaway. He there saw an. indian with-in gun shot, whom he immediately brought down with Riffle. And while in the act of taking from the slain trophies of victory, bracelets from the arm etc, the crack of the Riffle, the ball passing through his bullet—pouch and the sight of three Indians near him, warn’d him of his danger and drove him from the scene of action, Freeheart was closely pursued for several hours, in the chase the Indians wou’d gain on him in runing up hill, but as he was a large heavy Man, he wou’d outrun them in desending the hills, as Night came on Fleeheart distanced the enemy swan the stream, proceeded cautiously, to opposite where he had left his canoe, then carefully watched untill convinced that he was not way laid by the Indians, he again swam the River boarded his Canoe and returnd safe home.

In the Summer of ‘93 a Wm. Brown with a small familey came to Newburg, a small fort at the lower end of Beipre’ a when out with his wife and Young Child a small distance from the fort, the Indians came upon them, and the Father, tho’ but short distance from them, not being armd cou’d render them no assistance, and remaind out of their sight, and witness’d the murdur of his wife & child. Reflecting that by discovering himself he wou’d only expose his own life and however painful his situation he cou’d only remain and behold the agonizing sight.

From Ebenr. Battelle -

of Newport — 1841