Ohio History Journal

52 Ohio Arch

52         Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


The name Croghansville, for the village, was probably first suggested

by Josiah Meigs, Commissioner of the General Land Office, in a letter

from Washington City, April 12, 1816, in which, among other words

are these: "If it were left to me to name the town at Lower Sandusky

I should name it in honor of the gallant youth, Col. Croghan -and should

say it should be Croghansville.

The name is still preserved in that of the school on the hill on the

East Side, known as Croghansville School, as well as in the street

abutting on Fort Stephenson.



I was born in Pennsylvania in 1829 and brought to the Black

Swamp in, 1834. All my older brothers attended the Croghan celebra-

tion at Lower Sandusky in 1839 and I have been

present at every celebration since that time.

My early associations in Lower Sandusky and

Fremont were with such men as Thomas L. Haw-

kins, dramatist, poet and preacher; David Gal-

lagher, a narrator of early history; David Deal,

a hotel keeper, who saw service at Fort Meigs, all

soldiers of the war of 1812. Also Israel Harring-

ton, a neighbor in Sandusky county. James Kirk

and a man named Figley, both of whom worked

on the old fort before the battle of August 2, 1813,

have visited me here in Fremont and while visiting

the fort and going over the ground in its vicinity

have graphically described to me the location and

construction of the fort and many incidents connected with its building

and its defense against the British and Indians.

The late David Deal, who was a member of Col. James Stephen-

son's regiment of Ohio militia, told me that Col. Stephenson left them

at Fort Meigs in January, 1813, to go to Lower Sandusky to build the

fort which has ever since been called Fort Stephenson.

I had always supposed that the first fort constructed on this site

was built by Col. Stephenson's soldiers in January, 1813, but Col. Hayes

has shown me a number of official records and a copy of an order

issued by Brig. General William Irvine dated at Fort Pitt (now Pitts-

burg) November 11, 1782, during the Revolutionary War, to Major Craig

as follows: "Sir. I have received intelligence through various channels

that the British have established a post at Lower Sandusky, etc., etc.,

also a copy of the treaty by which the reservation (present corporation

limits of Fremont), two miles square, of which Fort Stephenson is

about the center, was established by the treaty of Fort McIntosh as

early as 1785 and continued in all subsequent treaties. Also an order

from Governor Meigs of Ohio to Captain John Campbell dated Zanes-

The Croghan Celebration

The Croghan Celebration.                    53


ville, June 11, 1812. "You will take with you the necessary tools for

building two blockhouses at Sandusky." * * *. "You will build two

blockhouses and piquet them so as to protect the United States trading

house and store at the place." * * * "I expect you will meet at San-

dusky Major Butler, from Delaware with a company to assist you."

Governor Meigs' letter shows that the fort was built in 1812, but

the official record also shows that it was abandoned for a short time

after Hull's surrender.

The old soldier Figley, of Columbiana county, came here early in

February, 1813, and worked on the fort until mustered out at Cleveland

on June 1st of that year. He related to me how the pickets were drawn

by oxen from the vicinity of Stony Prairie to the fort and points sharp-

ened and the posts set in the ground close up one against the other.

Many of the oxen engaged in drawing them died of starvation or were

devoured by the wolves howling around the fort.

The company to which James Kirk belonged came to the fort June

1, 1813, and worked here until the arrival of the British and Indians

the day before the battle. James Kirk himself had been detailed to carry

dispatches to Fort Seneca the day before the battle so that he was not

present but came down early on the morning of August 3 and helped

bury the British dead. He distinctly heard the firing of the British can-

non and howitzers and noticed that some discharges were louder than


Kirk was 25 years old at that time and after his discharge opened

a blacksmith shop in Lower Sandusky in 1818 and in 1828 went to Port

Clinton. He said that the well in the fort was not a good one, so that

the garrison got their water from a spring at the foot of Garrison

street, bringing it through a small gate on the east side of the fort,

for which gate Kirk made the hinges.

I sent my son Theodore to visit James Kirk in 188- and get a

description of the fort. Kirk said "Mark off a square plat of ground

containing half an acre with a block house on the northeast corner and

one in the northwest corner, this was the original fort. In June, 1813,

when we came here the fort was found to be too small. He said, "mark

off another square on the west side of the old square and this you will

see will place the northwest blockhouse in the center of the north line

of the enlarged fort. This was the blockhouse from which "Old Betsy"

cleared the ditch when it was filled with Col. Shortt's men. There was

a sealed log house in the new part filled with biscuit for Perry's fleet.

This house was knocked down level with the pickets by the British

cannon balls. The northeast blockhouse was in the center of Croghan

and Arch streets. The center blockhouse was about opposite the monu-

ment. The northwest angle of the fort extended out about 15 feet into

High street. There were many extra guns in the fort, as a company

of Pennsylvania soldiers had deposited their guns there a few days be-

54 Ohio Arch

54         Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


fore the battle on their way here from Fort Meigs. Their time being

out, they were on their way home to be mustered out.

The walls of the fort were made of logs, some round, some smooth

on one side, half of the other logs averaging about 18 inches in thick-

ness, all set firmly in the earth, each picket crowded closely against the

other and all about ten feet high, sharpened at the top. The walls

enclosed about one acre of ground. After Major Croghan took com-

mand July 15, 1813, he had a ditch dug six feet deep and nine feet

wide around the outside, throwing about one-half of the earth against

the foot of the pickets and graded down to the bottom of the ditch;

the rest of the earth was thrown on the outer bank and the depth of

the ditch thus increased.

Major Croghan had large logs placed on top of the wall of the

fort, so adjusted that an inconsiderable weight would cause them to

fall from their position and crush any who might be below.

When the British landed opposite Brady's Island they sent a flag

of truce under Col. Elliott who was met by Ensign Shipp on the ridge

where the parsonage of St. John's Lutheran Church (which was for-

merly the court house), now stands. This was eloquently described to

me by Thomas L. Hawkins, the poet, preacher and orator.

A ravine ran up from the river north of the fort through Justice

street across the pike in a southwestern direction near the court house,

The Croghan Celebration

The Croghan Celebration.                    55


the British brought their cannon up this ravine. They would load

their cannon and then run them up out of the ravine and after dis-

charging them, back them down again to reload out of range of the

guns of the fort. The next ravine south of this ran up Croghan street,

turning to the southwest at High street, thence northwest through the

northwest corner of the Presbyterian church lot. This ravine formed

the north boundary of the plateau or ridge on which Fort Stephens on

was located and on which ridge ran the Harrison trail to the southwest

up through Spiegel Grove and on to Fort Seneca. The next ravine

south of this extended between Birchard avenue and Garrison street,

one branch ran towards the Methodist church through the Dorr and

McCulloch property. It was from this last named ravine that the British

Grenadiers made a feint against Capt. Hunter's company just before Col.

Shortt made his assault on the northwest corner of the fort.

Lieut. Col. Short and Lieut. J. G. Gordon, of the 41st Regt. were

buried near the south entrance of the high school building.



Following the exercises of the afternoon at Fort Stephenson, an

informal reception was held at Spiegel Grove, to the out-of-town guests

of the city and the citizens at large. Col. Webb C. Hayes, the prime

mover of the whole celebration, Mr. and Mrs. Birchard A. Hayes and

Mrs. Fanny Hayes Smith cordially received the guests on the great

piazza, where the Vice-President, the Governor, the Governor's Staff

and the staff and line officers of the Sixth Regiment were guests of

honor. Great numbers of persons moved about through the beautiful

grounds, enjoying the music by the Light Guard Band stationed in

front of the house, the superb weather and the gay spectacle. The week

having been observed as Old Home Week, many former residents of

Fremont were at hand to renew old acquaintances and assist in doing

the honors of the place to the crowds of strangers.




With the falling of dusk the immense crowds commenced to assemble

to witness the glories of as realistic a Venetian night as was possible

to produce, following the plans originated by Dr. Stamm, who has

several times viewed these spectacles in Venice.

The river banks between the L. E. & W. and State street bridges

were thronged with crowds, while the special guests and those, by whose

efforts the day was a success, occupied the guests' stand, built on the

water just north of the bridge.

More than a hundred boats and launches, gaily decorated and illum-

inated, approached the reviewing stand, presenting a beautiful sight

with their swaying colored lights on a background of dark sky,