Ohio History Journal

366 Ohio Arch

366        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


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,

368 Ohio Arch

368        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


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.