Ohio History Journal






[On Saturday, September 10, 1910, the anniversary of Perry's

Victory on Lake Erie, 1813, two of the most important historical sites

on the route of the Harrison Trail through Sandusky County were

marked with bronze tablets and appropriate unveiling exercises by the

ladies of the Colonel George Croghan Chapter, Daughters of the Ameri-

can Revolution. We publish the report of the proceedings as appeared

in The Fremont Daily News-EDITOR.]

The two sites recognized in the anniversary proceedings were

those of Ball's battlefield, near the resience of Birchard Hav-

ens in Ballville, and the rock known as the Harrison mess table,

located on the crossroad about six miles from Fremont, south of

the Greensburg pike, near the residences of Hugh Havens and

Webb C. Smith.

The exercises Saturday were not only a tribute to the

heroes of nearly a century ago, but also commemorated Perry's

victory, which occurred September 10, 1813.

The tablets are of bronze, about two feet in length and a

foot wide, and bear the following inscriptions:

"General Harrison's mess table on the Indian trail leading

from the headquarters of Major General Harrison at Ft. Seneca

on the Sandusky river to Ft. Meigs on the Maumee river. War

of 1812. Erected by Colonel George Croghan chapter, Daugh-

ters of the American Revolution."

"Ball's Battlefield, Major Ball's squadron 2nd Light Dra-

goons U. S. army while escorting Col. Wells' 71th U. S. infantry

from Major General Harrison's headquarters at Fort Seneca to

relieve Major Croghan of the command of Ft. Stephenson for

alleged insubordination in refusing to evacuate the fort, was

ambushed by Indians near this spot, but gallantly charging them,

killed seventeen with the sabre, 30th July, 1813.  Erected by

Col. Geo. Croghan chapter, D. A. R."


The Harrison Table Rock and Ball's Battlefield

The Harrison Table Rock and Ball's Battlefield.  361

Under the old elm in front of the Havens residence in

Ballville has been placed the hugh boulder on which the bronze

tablet was unveiled in commemoration of Ball's battle. The

exercises began at 10:30 and were most imposing and appro-

priate, the presence of a squad from Co. K, under the command

of Lieut. R. B. H. Corey, giving an added spirit of patriotism to

the affair.

A blast from the bugle announced the opening of the pro-

gram, which began with the singing of America and a prayer by

Father Jenkins of St. Paul's parish church.




Mrs. Louis A. Dickinson, Regent of Colonel George Croghan Chapter,

presided and her address of welcome was as follows:

In behalf of Colonel George Croghan Chapter I have the pleasure

of extending to each one present, to the members of the Daughters of

the American Revolution, to our state regent and state chairman of

historic sites, to the members of the Sandusky County Historical Asso-

ciation, to our county and townspeople, a most cordial welcome to these

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362        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


dedicatory exercises in honor of the battle which occurred near this

spot on July 30, 1813, when Major Ball's squadron, Second Light

Dragoons, U. S. Army, while escorting Colonel Wells of the Seventeenth

U. S. Infantry, from Major General Harrison's headquarters at Fort

Seneca to relieve Major Croghan of the command of Fort Stephenson

for alleged insubordination in refusing to evacuate the fort, was ambushed

by Indians, but gallantly charged them and killed seventeen with the


It is a source of much gratification to know that so many are

interested in this work and to know that the deeds of the men of nearly

a century ago are not forgotten in the hearts of the people. It is one

of the objects of the D. A. R. to perpetuate the memory of the spirit

of the men who helped to achieve American independence by the

acquisition and protection of historical spots and by the erection of

markers. In dedicating this marker we are endeavoring to place before

this generation and the generations to come, a memorial which will

ever call to mind the great deeds performed by the men of those early

days which aided in determining the fate of the Northwest, and the

great debt of gratitude we shall ever owe to them. And as this stone,

which we hope will endure for ages, is unveiled, may there be planted

in the hearts of each one present seeds of patriotism, civic pride, hope

and love which will grow and blossom, not only in our hearts, but

also in the hearts of those who will follow after us.

Mrs. Clayton R. Truesdall, state regent of the D. A. R.,

spoke for the state society and her first appearance before her

own chapter in such an office was greeted enthusiastically by the

members of the chapter. Her remarks were most excellent and

given in her usual attractive and charming manner.



Several years ago in conversation with a friend on literary style,

Mathew Arnold said: "People think I can teach them style. What stuff

it all is! Have something to say and say it as clearly as you can.

That is the only secret of style." So this morning is no time for any

special oratory but an occasion while many are forced to stand, to speak

briefly as ambassador of the Daughters of the Revolution in Ohio.

Our state has been one of the greatest battlegrounds in history.

Here the contest took place between the Indians and the advancing

civilization of Europe. Here was the scene of the last bitter encounter

between the two races, the Anglo-Saxon or British, and the Latin, or

French. Then came the reckoning between the divisions of the Anglo-

Saxon, the English, and Americans. Its inhabitants have listened to the

war-whoop of many savage nations, and been subservient to the banner

of France, England and the United States.

The Harrison Table Rock and Ball's Battlefield

The Harrison Table Rock and Ball's Battlefield.        363


No other county in the state is so rich in early history as Sandusky.

A British post was established here during the Revolutionary War. Here

the first permanent white settlers located and the first marriage between

whites was performed. Especially during the War of 1812 was it a

famous battleground.

In marking, one by one, these historical places, we, as an organi-

zation, are not only showing patriotism in one of the truest forms--

reverencing the memory and brave deeds of our heroes--but we are

reminding the present and future generations of our dearly won liberties,

for very truly has some one said: "Every spot in a land that marks

the achievement of an heroic deed is to that land a perpetual fountain

from which flows influences to strengthen the patriotism of its people."

In imagination we can see Major Ball's dragons gallantly riding

down this road. They obeyed the order to charge with bayonets when-

ever smoke was seen and thus in a hand-to-hand encounter killed

seventeen of the eighteen Indians.

Bravery in battle requires the same courage, whether the fighting

is on Ball's battlefield with a small squadron, at Fort Stephenson with

160 men defending the fort, or with the thousands at Gettysburg. So

today we honor the memory of the men who won the battle which pre-

ceded Croghan's victory by two days.

From here we will go on to the Harrison Mess Rock located on

Harrison Trail. It is well known in this part of the state on account

of its great size and because the general and his staff lunched from its

spacious board.

As your state regent, I am delighted to congratulate you on the

placing of these markers, for as the Fort Kearney Chapter in Nebraska

was the first to erect a tablet on the Old Oregon Trail in that state,

so you, members of my own chapter, are the first to place markers on the

General Harrison Military Trail in Ohio.

Mrs. John T. Mack, of Sandusky, state chairman of the his-

torical sites committee, was next introduced by the local regent

and gave an interesting account of what has been done through-

out the state in the marking and commemoration of historic sites.

A part of her paper was as follows:




The committee on historic sites of the Daughters of the American

Revolution of Ohio wish to congratulate the Colonel Croghan Chapter

upon the unveiling of two more tablets, thus adding more laurels to the

wreath you have won in the marking of historic spots. It was in the year

of 1901-02, under the state regency of Mrs. John A. Murphy that the

committee on marking Revolutionary soldiers' graves was formed. A

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little later, locating and marking historic sites was added to the work of

this committee. At that time we were uncertain just how to proceed to

locate such graves. The committee realized that absolute accuracy was

essential and our early historic sites seemed few. We did not know how

rich Ohio is in historic associations. We know now that this beloved

commonwealth, dear to us all, is exceedingly rich in her history, not only

of the mound builders, her Indian wars, Revolutionary War and the

War of 1812, in her portages and trails, but also is she rich in her colonial

history brought forcibly to mind by old Fort Sandusky, but recently

located, which was built in 1745 on the northern bank of Sandusky Bay

and destroyed in 1764, long before Fort Laurens was built in 1778.

It is said that Lord Dunmore's war was the first struggle in the

War of the Revolution. Lord Dunmore with his army came from

Fort Pitt down the Ohio to the mouth of the Hock-Hocking River,

where he built Fort Gower. From thence he came to the Scioto River

to an Indian camp called Camp Charlotte, now in Pickaway County near

Circleville. It was about this time that the battle of Point Pleasant was

fought and the Indians were defeated by General Andrew Lewis. A

peace conference followed, the Indians surrendering their claims to

the lands south of the Ohio River. It was this event which inspired

Chief Logan's famous speech and the elm tree still stands under which

he uttered those eloquent words that will be read while American history

is written. The conflicts under General George Rogers Clark in 1780-82,

against the Shawnees were successful. To commemorate Clark's victory,

Simon Kenton, having successfully run the gauntlet there, the Catherine

Green Chapter of Xenia on June 14, 1906, unveiled a granite boulder on

the site of that old Indian village. One of the first chapters to mark

a historic site in Ohio was the Nathaniel Massie Chapter, of Chillicothe,

which joined with the women's clubs and placed upon a pilaster of the

court house in Chillicothe a bronze tablet commemorative of the fact

that upon this site stood the first state house of Ohio, wherein was

adopted the original constitution of the commonwealth. This tablet

was unveiled on the 100th anniversary of the settlement of Chillicothe.

The D. A. R. of Cincinnati with other patriotic societies, erected a mon-

ument to mark the location of Fort Washington, one of the earliest

historic spots in the Northwest Territory.

Twenty-five miles up the Miami River General St. Clair built a

fort which he named after Alexander Hamilton. A powder magazine

was erected at the south end of the fort. The building on the fort

was presented by the estate of John Milliken to the John Reily Chapter,

D. A. R.

The Columbus Chapter has celebrated the marking of a historic

spot by placing a boulder in Martin Avenue, on which a bronze tablet

tells its own story: "Near this spot, June 21, 1813, was held a council

between General William Henry Harrison and the Indian tribes com-

The Harrison Table Rock and Ball's Battlefield

The Harrison Table Rock and Ball's Battlefield.        365


prising the Wyandots, Delawares, Shawnees and Senecas, with Tarhe,

the Crane, as spokesman, resulting in the permanent peace with the

Indians of Ohio."

The Dolly Todd Madison Chapter of Tiffin, on October 21, 1906,

placed a tablet commemorative of Fort Ball which was built by General

Harrison in 1812, as a small stockade and was used as a depot for


In 1899 the Piqua Chapter bought a triangle of ground on which

they erected a monument in commemoration of one of the French and

Indian wars. On Flag day, 1906, the Piqua Chapter unveiled a tablet of

bronze on the house, known as the Colonel Johnston Indian Agency


On June 25, 1909, the New Connecticut Chapter of Painesville

unveiled two bronze tablets on the new court house there. One to the

memory of President James A. Garfield, who was a citizen of Lake

County, and one to Samuel Huntington, Governor of Ohio in 1808,

whose early home in Painesville Township is still standing.

The Old Northwest Chapter at Ravenna has marked the spot

where Captain Samuel Brady immortalized the little lake which bears

his name, by erecting a granite marker there.

Last fall at the conference, when it was suggested that the D. A. R.

of Ohio, mark historic trails through the state, especially the old Indian

trail along the Sandusky and Scioto Rivers from the lake to the Ohio,

and that they place a tablet on a monument to be erected at Port Clinton

on the north side of the peninsula on the shore of Lake Erie, to

commemorate the embarkation of General Harrison and his army for

Maiden and Detroit, and the battle of the Thames, the Daughters were

enthusiastic over the suggestion and the money for such a tablet was

pledged then and there. And now, Daughters of the Colonel George

Croghan Chapter, you have the satisfaction and the high honor of erecting

the first monument and the first tablet on this famous trail. I indeed

congratulate you for having accomplished the most work of any of our

chapters in this direction.

Following the formal presentation of the tablet to the

county by Mrs. Dickinson, the flag veiling the tablet was re-

moved by several children under the direction of Miss Char-

lotte Dillon, secretary of the local chapter, and Miss Nelle

Gast, state secretary of the D. A. R., and the firing of the

national salute by the Co. K squad completed the formal un-

veiling exercises.

Capt. E. C. Sayles, in behalf of the county, accepted the

tablet and his remarks were most appropriate. He congratu-

lated especially the D. A. R. in their efforts to perpetuate the

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memory of heroic deeds and he urged each citizen to appreciate

the value of such a gift and let it be an inspiration to learn

more of the history of the county and this locality.

The singing of the Star Spangled Banner concluded the

exercises at the site of Ball's battlefield.

The children who participated in the program were: little

Misses Gertrude Hafford, Betsy Bell Brown, Jessie and Alice

Childs, Mary Elizabeth Truesdall, Jane Phillips and Helen Wrig-

ley, Masters Harold Fangboner, Hiram Moe Datesman, Richard

Thatcher, William Haynes and John Walters.

The exercises which followed at the rock known as the

Harrison mess table, six miles west of Fremont on the Greens-

burg pike, were equally as imposing and patriotic.

Miss Lucy Keeler spoke briefly on the history of the stone,

and in closing her remarks invited the two guests of the chapter,

Mrs. Kellogg. of Toledo, regent of the Ursula Wolcott chapter,

and Mrs. John Mack, of Sandusky, to remove the table cloth

of red, white and blue, which covered the stone.

Mr. Basil Meek, whose knowledge of local history is so ex-

tensive, gave the following interesting paper on the history and

traditions connected with the Harrison mess table.




The story of the lives and deeds of the soldiers of the war of 1812,

in their relation to our Lower Sandusky Valley, is more than a "twice-

told tale," for it has been told and retold many times, by the pioneer and

historian, but seems not to grow old or stale by repetition as the years

go by, and, as is believed, interest in local history increases. It is,

therefore, no new story that is brought before us today, but acts to

commemorate the old in order that the same may be preserved and

handed down to succeeding generations.

Commodore Perry's victory on Lake Erie September 10, 1813, was

a notable event in the War of 1812. While the British held control of

the waters of the lakes no successful advance of our army into the

enemy's territory, in Canada, could be made to attack and destroy the

army of Proctor. The Americans must submit to be on the defensive.

The gallant and successful defense of Fort Stephenson by the brave

Major Croghan and his comrades on August 2, was the preparatory step

to Perry's naval battle. It cleared the landway to the lakes and the

brilliant achievement of Perry opened the waterway to Canada and

made possible its invasion, which soon followed, resulting, as we know,

The Harrison Table Rock and Ball's Battlefield

The Harrison Table Rock and Ball's Battlefield.       367


in the disastrous defeat and flight of Proctor at the Battle of the Thames

and death of the warrior Tecumseh, the ruling spirit in the great

uprising of the Indian savages against our people in the Northwest.

The power of our enemies, both British and Indian, was now broken

and permanent peace to our harassed frontier inhabitants assured.

The famous message from Commodore Perry to General Harrison,

at Fort Seneca, announcing his victory: "We have met the enemy

and they are ours--two ships, two brigs, one schooner and a sloop,"

was, on its way, read at Lower Sandusky, and Captain McAfee in his

history says: "This exhilarating news set Lower Sandusky and Camp

Seneca in an uproar of tumultuous joy." He further relates that Gen-

eral Harrison immediately proceeded to Lower Sandusky and issued

orders for the movement of troops and transportation of military stores

to the margin of the lake preparatory to their embarkation for Canada.

It is, therefore, fitting that the patriotic women of Colonel George

Croghan Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution,, residents of

the immediate locality, of events occurring therein or directly associated

therewith or near by, should, on this 97th anniversary day and year,

of these events, permanently mark some of the spots connected with

such events, or with the history of the heroes of the same.

The large boulder before us known as "Harrison Rock," and thus

appropriately named, by permission of the Havens family, is in the

north and south public road dividing the farms of Hugh Havens and

the late W. J. Havens, on the line between sections 14 and 15 in Jackson

Township, about seven miles southwesterly from the City of Fremont.

The size of the boulder is nearly 13 feet long, 10 feet average width,

and 31/2 feet out of ground and about the same beneath the surface,

making it about 7 feet thick, which would make it contain about 1000

cubic feet and weigh about 80 tons, as estimated by Prof. Wright, the

eminent geologist, who, by request of the Secretary of the Sandusky

County Pioneer and Historical Association, visited it two years ago.

There is a generally accepted and well founded tradition, that on

one occasion and probably others during his campaigns in the Sandusky

and Maumee River Valleys, in the War of 1812, General William Henry

Harrison with his military staff partook of a meal on the surface of

this boulder as a mess-table. That he must have frequently passed

along by the same is very certain, we believe. There was an Indian

trail leading from Lower Sandusky, southwesterly, passing through what

is now Spiegel Grove, the home of the late President Rutherford B.

Hayes, passing thence southwesterly on the west side of the Sandusky

River, and at a point about two miles southeast of the boulder, inter-

secting a similar trail leading from the site of Fort Seneca, on the

Sandusky River. The two trails here seem to have united, forming one

continuous trail to Fort Meigs, on the Maumee River. This became

known as the "Harrison Trail" for the reason that General Harrison,

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in his military movements between Lower Sandusky, Fort Seneca and

Fort Meigs, traveled this route, as his military road between the points


These farms on either side of the rock have been in the Havens

family for 55 years; the venerable Hugh Havens says that he well

remembers traces of this trail known then as the Harrison Trail,

by the strip of timber cut out to form a passageway for military

vehicles, and that these traces were plainly to be seen near to the spot

where the boulder lies.

In the field notes of the government survey in the year 1820

this trail is noted as a "road to Fort Meigs," in the surveyors' division

of section 14 and 15, the notation placing the same at a point bringing

the trail or "road to Fort Meigs," near to the spot where the rock lies,

and therefore making the same a convenient and certainly a most sub-

stantial mess-table for the brave general and staff in the then dreary wild-

erness, abounding as it did with the savage enemy. We may say that it

was to him really something more than the "shadow of a great rock in a

weary land;" it was more literally a "table prepared for him in the

presence of his enemies."

Our boulder is certainly not native to Sandusky County. It is

undoubtedly what we may call an "immigrant" from some other region.

There is nowhere in Ohio where any outcrop of bed rock of the forma-

tion like our boulder, can be found. Prof. Orton says that no drill has

ever penetrated deep enough in Ohio to reach down to such granitic

bed rock. Where did it and others of its kind, called hardheads or nigger-

heads, which lie thickly scattered in portions of the county, come from?

Their generally rounded and smoothed surface would indicate that

they have been transported from a distance and been rolled (bowled)

and polished in their transportation hither. The nearest ledges to this

region of outcrops of granitic bed rock are in northern New York and

Canada. From one of these regions, most likely Canada, this boulder

came, that region being more directly north from us. How and when

did it reach this, to it, a foreign land? Geology furnishes the only true

answer. Many thousands of years ago, there was a great ice period,

during which this entire northern region was covered with glacial ice

to a very great depth, having its origin in and moving down from the

far north, southward at the very slow rate of but a few feet each day,

but with such resistless force as to change the whole surface of the

earth over which it passed, filling valleys, piling up ridges, damming

up and changing water courses, forming lakes, creating water falls,

even that of the stupendous Niagara.

It is reasonable, from geological authority to state that this rock

was taken from its native ledge in the north and being clasped in the

frozen embrace of this mighty glacial ice stream was transported in its

tedious and dreary voyage of hundreds of miles to its present position,

The Harrison Table Rock and Ball's Battlefield

The Harrison Table Rock and Ball's Battlefield.      369


probably requiring more than a century of years to accomplish the

journey; and finally when the springtime to this long glacial winter of

thousands of years came, the ice melted, the waters ran off and our

large boulder was dumped and left a stranger in a strange land, where

it now lies, a monumental evidence of the great ice period claimed by

geologists to have once existed.

Could this rock audibly speak to us today what a romantic story

it could tell! It might speak of its native home in the far north, of

the interminable snows there falling, which shoved it therefrom; of

its journey to its present and final abiding place; of the vicissitudes

attending its passage thither; of the long glacial winter, lasting here,

before any summer came; of the final change of seasons and coming

of summertime and growth of the great forests; of the abounding wild

animal life, of the coming of man, the red man first who in his roaming

life probably found at times a resting place on this very rock; of the

coming of the white man and what we all see about the spot today, the

wilderness subdued, the beautiful farms surrounding it on all sides, and

the homes of a happy and prosperous people.

The rock by natural phenomena is a monument to the glacial age,

and now it is by the act of today, dedicated a monument to the heroes

who availed themselves of its ample surface for refreshment in their

toilsome march in the service of their country.

The tablet was then dedicated by the national salute fired by

the Company K squad.

Vol. XIX.- 24.