Ohio History Journal



Archaeological and Historical









A preliminary word to the writing of this document is not

unlike that which I wrote to the last article furnished for pub-

lication in this historical record.

In the sketch of Isaac N. Walter, printed in the April num-

ber of 1915, I dwelt at some length on the story of the Chris-

tian denomination with which he labored for many years as a

minister. My own personal connection with that people through

the early portion of my life made me familiar with the men and

women who were prominent in it from the beginning and up to

very recent years.

Among their leaders was Joseph Badger. The biography

of this man fell into my hands while I was yet a boy, and I read

it with great interest. It consisted largely of his autobiography,

which made it all the more lively and impressive to a boy seeking

knowledge and susceptible to inspiration from the personal ex-

periences of youth and manhood that had gone before. E. G.

Holland, a writer of considerable note in the middle of the last

century, prepared the volume, and in addition to the story told

by Mr. Badger himself, presents a history of the man and his

work that makes the book worthy a place in the choicest library.


The childhood of Mr. Badger was lived in the midst of

scenes and circumstances characteristic of New England in the

Vol. XXVI-1            (1)

2 Ohio Arch

2        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

years from 1792 to 1802. His grandlfather was General Joseph

Badger, who won fame in the Revolutionary War. The father

of General Badger bore the name of Joseph also and was a

wealthy and influential citizen of Haverhill, Mass.

Joseph Badger of this partial sketch was born at Gilmanton,

New Hampshire, forty-five miles from Portsmouth, sixteen from

Concord and about eighty from Boston. His father was Major

Peasly Badger, who removed from Gilmanton in 1801 to occupy

a tract of land in Lower Canada. Here, in the wilderness, the

boy grew toward manhood finding favor with all who came to

know him. He was of a religious bent of mind, and in his own

story tells of his struggle to reach some reasonable conception

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary.  3


of the Christian teaching that would eliminate the unnecessary

formal requirements and put emphasis on the fundamentals. He

thought if this could be done the divisions that obtain among

Christians might be avoided. At this task he wrought all his

life, only to find that no one mind is able to do complete sifting

and that when all is done by that one mind it still finds itself in

a narrow and more or less biased position.

The Christians had launched their propaganda throughout

the East and middle West, and these people, coming nearest to

his idea of what the church ought to stand for, led him to

cast in his lot with them and to give himself to the ministry in

that order for the remainder of his life, which ended in 1852.

Most of his work was done in New England, New York

and Pennsylvania. But in 1825 he came into Ohio and held many

meetings in the churches already established and aided in estab-

lishing many others. His greatest and most helpful work was

done as an editor and writer. This found the public ear through

the periodical known as the Christian Palladium, which was first

published in Rochester, New York, and afterward at Unionville.

Mr. Badger had a prominent part in the controversy which

centered about Alexander Campbell, founder of the denomination

known as "Disciples of Christ," and nicknamed "Campbellites."

Strange to relate, these two bodies of Christians, with almost

identical views theologically, should be the most antagonistic of

any in that time, whereas, if they had put aside their little differ-

ences, they might have achieved unbounded success in moulding

the thought of the age and in bringing about a state of unity

among the followers of Christ.

Coming from a family of distinction and being identified

with people of note throughout his lifetime, it is not to be won-

dered at that one or more of his progeny should be of some

consequence. One of his sons, Henry Clay Badger, won fame as

a scholar and preacher. He was an instructor in Antioch Col-

lege during the administration of Horace Mann, and was the

close friend of that noted educator as he was of his eminent

successor in that office, Dr. Thomas Hill, who went from there

to become President of Harvard.

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Henry Clay Badger married Addie Shepard, sister of the

wife of Thomas Hill. Before her marriage to Mr. Badger, Miss

Shepard went to England in the capacity of Governess with the

family of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and became the original charac-

ter of Hilda in "Marble Faun," one of the famous Hawthorne


1While attending school at Antioch in the eighties, the writer had

the privilege of hearing Henry Badger in an address before the stu-

dents, reminiscent of the great men he had known. The volume used

in collecting these notes was the property of Henry Clay Badger up

to his death, and was secured by the writer from his son, Frederick

Badger, now living in Boston.

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary.  5


It would be interesting to follow this man's career through

all its varied circumstances to the close, giving in detail the inci-

dents that make its comedies and tragedies; but this paper can

not do that for the reason that the matter collected for the

Historical Society must, in the main, confine itself to the story

of Ohio.

The introduction of this much is to reveal a strange coinci-

dence, linking up this life with that of another of the same name

whose life story is closely identified with Ohio from her beginning

on into the midst of her progress as a great commonwealth.

In 1904 the writer became pastor of the First Congregational

Church of Ashtabula, Ohio. On the occasion of his first visit

to the church he was introduced to a deacon of the church by the

name of Badger. Curiosity was awakened immediately, and

when questioned as to whether he was related to Joseph Badger,

the preacher whose biography I had read when a boy, he re-

plied: "I presume I am his grandson, since my grandfather

was a missionary in an early day." He also stated that he had a

volume of his biography that I might have to read if I so

desired. In a few days I visited the home and secured the

book, but found on looking at it that it was not the book I had

read before and that I was to read an entirely different story.

While writing the sketch of Isaac N. Walter, I thought

again of the two Joseph Badgers and felt their stories might

be linked together in a way that would be interesting to the

readers of Ohio history. The books before mentioned were

secured after considerable effort; one, as stated, from Frederick

Badger of Boston, the other from Mrs. E. E. Taylor of Ashta-

bula, the great-grand-daughter of the one known as Priest

Badger throughout the Western Reserve. To my surprise some-

what the two stories enabled me to easily trace the two men

back to a common ancestor, Giles Badger; one removed six

generations and the other four.

Giles Badger came from England to New England in the

year 1635 and settled in Newbury, now Newburyport, Massa-

chusetts. John Badger, the son of Giles Badger, had two wives.

By the first wife he was the father of four children, three of

whom   lived to maturity,-John, Sarah and James.     John

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6        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

Badger, Jr., became a merchant in Newburyport. In 1691 he

was married to Miss Rebecca Brown. Seven children were born

to this union, -John, James, Elizabeth, Stephen, Joseph, Benja-

min and Dorothy.

Joseph Badger was a wealthy merchant in Haverhill, Massa-

chusetts, and married Hannah Peasly, daughter of Colonel

Nathaniel Peasly. To this pair were born seven children also;

among whom was General Joseph Badger, one of the most noted

men of New England in his time. His son, Major Peasly

Badger, one of a family of twelve children, was the father of

the Joseph Badger I first read about, thus placing him in the

sixth generation from Giles Badger, the head of the family in

the New World and who came to Newbury in 1635.2

The second wife of John Badger, first removed from Giles,

was Hannah Swett, to whom he was married on the 23rd of

February, 1671. Their children were Stephen, Hannah, Na-

thaniel, Mary, Elizabeth, Ruth, Joseph, Daniel, Abigail and


Nathaniel of this family married Mary Lunt and settled in

the town of Norwich, Connecticut. This union was blessed with

nine children;- John, Daniel, Edmund, Nathaniel, Samuel,

Enoch Mehitable, Mary and Henry. The last named was the

father of the Joseph Badger, whose life sketch is attempted in

this document.

Henry Badger married Mary Langdon and settled in

Bethlehem in New Jersey, but afterward returned to Wilbraham,

Massachusetts, where the subject of this sketch was born in


I have followed in detail these lines of descent in order that

the relation of these two men may be shown to any one who may

in the future desire to trace it, since it is apparent that neither

of these families have been aware of the near relationship ex-



2In 1912, the Centennial of the founding of the City of Columbus,

the State Journal gave an account of an old plat of the city, and the

names of owners of property. Among them is Giles Badger of near

Philadelphia. This Giles Badger no doubt, was the son of Edmund,

uncle of the subject of this sketch.

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary.  7

Joseph Badger, known in the history of the Western Re-

serve as "Priest Badger," lived an eventful life. As eventful,

perhaps, as that of any person whose story has been told in the

annals of Ohio. The autobiography is as interesting as any

narrative the fiction writer has given us of the times when the

Indian roved her forests or rowed their bark canoes along her

beautiful rivers. The stories of Boone or Kenton or Wetsel are

no more thrilling nor were they fraught with more of the ele-

mental stuff essential to the pioneer achievement in the building

of commonwealths.   Before he saw the western wilderness

in the role of missionary he had helped George Washington and

his generals fight the battles of the Revolutionary War. He

helped to establish a nation and then gave himself to the sort

of preparation that would enable him to impart the teachings in

the wilderness regions of that country that would eventually

make that wilderness blossom as a rose.

8 Ohio Arch

8        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

The aim of the following sketch will be to present some of

the outstanding incidents in this useful and patient life as gath-

ered from the story told by himself, and which is now in pos-

session of the Historical Society. The memoir and autobiography

were first published by Sawyer, Ingersoll and Company, at Hud-

son, Ohio, in 1851. In addition to information gained from this

volume, the writer, as before intimated, had the privilege of

being associated with a grandson and a great-grand-daughter for

some years, and of visiting the scenes of his labors in the state

of Ohio.

The birthplace and early home of Joseph Badger was Wil-

braham, Hampden County, Massachusetts. When he was nine

years of age his parents removed to Partridgeville, now Peru,

in Berkshire County, in the midst of the Green Mountains. At

that time the region afforded very meager opportunity for secur-

ing an education, so that about all he received as a youth was in

the home. Being of an observing mind, however, he took in

the information that the nature-world about him and the on-

moving of current events afforded.

The part he was to play in these events was to have its

active expression at an early period. He was eighteen years of

age in the memorable year of 1775, when the colonies of America

threw off the yoke of English sovereignty. He entered the

Revolutionary army about three weeks after the battle of Lex-

ington. His regiment was headed by Colonel John Patterson

and his company by Captain Nathan Watkins.

At the battle of Bunker Hill, fought on Breed's Hill, Pat-

terson's regiment was stationed on Cobble Hill. From this point,

the narrative states, they could see the firing along the whole

line. The British rank and file was broken several times, but

would as often return. On the final return they carried the

works at the point of the bayonet. Two months later he was

with his company at Litchmore's Point, and records in his

memoir that at close range he made good use of his rifle, which

proved fatal to more than one British soldier;-"the tragedy of

war" 'was his thought about it. He was taken ill and returned

to his home where he was compelled to remain over a brief time,

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary.  9

when he returned to the ranks. He was then enrolled in another

company under Captain Moses Ashley, same regiment as before.

The British, having evacuated Boston in March of '76, his

regiment was sent to New York, and from thence to take part

in the campaign on the Canadian border. They were provisioned

for a period of five days at Ticonderoga and took to the boats

on Lake Champlain. When they reached Crown Point the snow

covered the ground to a depth of several inches. Here they were

delayed, but finally, in the midst of the storm, they embarked

again, with Captain Sawyer, an experienced seaman, piloting

the boats. After a stormy passage they arrived at St. John and

went on to La Prairie, in sight of Montreal. Hunger and cold

caused great suffering and made the march difficult. But there

was a fort at the Rapids, which was being bravely defended by

a small band of Americans against an attack made by five hun-

dred Indians under Joseph Brant, and a company of British

soldiers under Captain Foster. The American regiment was

headed by Major Henry Sherbourn, and pushed rapidly to re-

inforce the soldiers at the fort. As they approached in the early

twilight they were met by Foster's company and his Indian allies.

For an hour the contest was sharp and furious, with the Amer-

icans getting the better of the engagement. All at once Foster

raised the white flag and asked for a parley. This was granted.

In the conference which followed Foster deceived Sherbourn

into believing that the fort had been surrendered already by

Major Butterfield and that it would be folly to sacrifice more

lives in its relief. Then Foster made demand for the surrender

of Sherbourn and his men, but it seems that the surrender

affected but a small portion of the regiment. The others were

able to get away. The company to which Mr. Badger belonged

was among those of the regiment who were not caught in the

trap. These fell back to Lachine, a French village above Mon-

treal. Here the order was to stand till reinforced. General

Arnold arrived with reinforcements in a short time. But it was

deemed prudent to make a hasty removal from the position

taken. Boats were provided at St. Anns, on Bacon Lake, and

at this point they arrived the following day, although menaced

by the Indians. The boats were ordered to push to a point three

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10       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

miles up the river. But as the boats were landing Foster's men

and their Indian allies made a fierce attack, bringing two small

field pieces into action. A volley of bullets poured into the

flotilla, but did small damage. General Arnold ordered a retreat

and spent the night making greater preparation for what he

predicted would be a severe contest at the break of day. But it

was not to be as expected. Toward morning Captain Foster, in

company with Major Sherbourn and Captain McKinstry, who

had been shot through the thigh the preceding day, came across

the lagoons in a canoe and an arrangement was entered into by

which six captains and subaltern officers should be held as

hostages in exchange for prisoners. Three days were spent in

carrying out this plan and getting the men back into the American

ranks. Careful parole duty was now observed, and learning that

Montreal had been evacuated, the troops crossed the St.

Lawrence and marched to St. Johns. Smallpox broke out and

it was necessary to send many of the men on to Crown Point.

The boats carrying these men were piloted by Mr. Badger

and Captain Ashley, and as many as could be stowed into the

boats were taken. Three days were consumed in the journey

up the lake, but the return trip was much easier and more rapidly

covered. Three days afterward the entire army embarked under

orders to proceed to Cumberland Head, where they rested for

a day and then proceeded to Crown Point.

Here smallpox was carrying off the soldiers almost as

swiftly as bullets did in battle. In the short period of two days

sixty-four were buried in two vaults. This was done because there

were not sufficient well men to dig separate graves for the victims.

Buildings were erected at Fort George to receive the convalescent

and they were conveyed to that place for treatment. The others

were sent to Mt. Independence, opposite Ticonderoga, to occupy

themselves in erecting defences. Note is made in the memoir

at this point of the deleterious effect of liquor on the men taken

with disease. Nearly all the cases addicted to strong drink suc-

cumbed to the disease, while those who were not, recovered.

The retreat was a sorry affair, in that the men lost their

wearing apparel except that which they had on. Mr. Badger

says he went a period of six weeks without a change of shirts

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 11

and was much incommoded with vermin. Frequently took a

garment off, washed it without soap, wrung it out and put it on

again. "Was greatly distressed with cutaneous diseases until

August. Built a fire beside a large log, a little out of camp, and

roasted myself with brimstone and grease, which cured the itch,

but boils and sores followed for some time."

The chaplain of the regiment was taken sick about this time

and Mr. Badger was assigned the task of nursing and waiting

on him until he could be sent to Albany.

For some time after this Mr. Badger remained with Colonel

Buel, who was commandant at the post, giving his time to various

things, among which was the preparation of wooden dishes out

of the aspen wood plentiful in that region. This supplied a

distressing need, as there was no kind of vessel in the camp

which could be used for serving food or for drinking purposes.

He soon had orders to go back to his company, which he

rejoined in November. Following Arnold's defeat his company

marched to Albany, where they arrived in six days. From thence

they marched through the settlements and over mountains to

Sussex Court House in New Jersey. Orders had been given

to join Lee's army on the east side of the Delaware, but on their

arrival they discovered that Lee had been taken by the British.

So after they had tarried the night and until sunset the following

day, they hastened to join Washington on the other side of the

river. This was in December and the cold was growing intense.

The language of the memoir is very interesting here:

"It was now December and the cold was severe, but we

marched most of the night and towards morning began to pass

over to the farther side. The river was full of floating ice

which loaded the flat-boat almost to sinking. Toward night of

that day we all got over and marched into a little Moravian

village called Nazareth. The next day we marched to Bethlehem.

Here we had orders to wait until Lee's division under General

Sullivan joined us."

Mr. Badger says nothing in the narrative about the crossing

of the Delaware by Washington and the victory at Trenton, but

this stirring event was but a day or two removed from the time

of his own crossing about fifty miles to the north of Trenton,

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12       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

The condition of the river was the same as we have often read

about in the story of Washington's great accomplishment on

Christmas night 1776. There are only thirteen days elapsing

between the date of the capture of General Lee and the crossing

of the Delaware by Washington. During these days the march-

ing and the waitings would bring this remnant of Arnold's army

to which Mr. Badger belonged into the region of Trenton just

about the time of Christmas.

The narrative discloses, however, that Mr. Badger was not

in the company that went with Washington. For, after leaving

Bethlehem and crossing the Lehigh, the discovery was made that

six of their men were missing. A sergeant and a small body of

soldiers were sent back to find what was the matter. On their

return they reported them sick with fever. Mr. Badger was

ordered back to care for them and remained with them until late

in January. Here he mentions a little detail that calls to mind a

very interesting episode at this period of the Revolutionary con-


Many of the soldiers who were in the army at this time

had enlisted to January first of 1777. He speaks of these sick

men as being among that number and that on their recovery they

returned to their homes. This was true not only of those who

ought to have gone home to recuperate, but it was also true of

many others. It became a peril to the army, and Washington

was put to his wits' end to know how to continue their services.

A victory had been won to be sure, but now came the necessary

task of following it up, and here were great numbers of men

getting ready to leave the army at the end of their enlistment

period, and that, too, at a time when they could least be spared.

What was he to do? It was decided to offer the men ten dollars

apiece to remain another six weeks. But where was he to get

the money with which to pay them? Washington pledged his

own fortune and made the well-remembered appeal to Robert

Morris of Philadelphia. The story of the patriotic service of

Robert Morris in response to Washington's appeal at this critical

hour of the fortunes of the American army is known to every

school boy. It is interesting, however, to be able to link the

important detail with this narrative.

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 13

As said, they were on their way to Trenton from the north

when, because of the sickness of the men as above mentioned,

Mr. Badger was prevented from joining the troops under the

direct leading of Washington. He took control of the general

hospital service at Bethlehem on condition that he might choose

his own assistants, turning off all former nurses and attendants.

This was done because of the wretched service they had ren-

dered. Here he and his chosen attendants labored faithfully till

the last of February, when he was taken seriously ill and was in

delirium most of the time until the last of March, when he

began to recover. During this sickness he was taken care of in

a private family of German Moravians. After he had sufficiently

recovered, he was given a discharge and started for his home,

arriving in New Milford the day before Danbury was destroyed

by the British under General Tryon in April, 1777.

This event fired the young soldier and he re-joined the

Americans under General Wooster, who pursued the enemy, en-

gaging them at Ridgeville. The enemy retreated, but the life

of General Wooster was sacrificed in the encounter. The Ameri-

cans followed their advantage, and the next day overtook the red-

coats on Wilton Hills as they were descending into the valley.

I prefer to quote Mr. Badger's own story of this scene of battle:

"We charged their rear guard on the top of the hill, they

firing upon us with two field pieces and with small arms. Here

the man at my left side was shot down; a Captain Revel, of

Litchfield, had both of his thighs broken, and many others were

badly wounded. They soon ran down the hill to the main body,

which was passing the meeting house, and entered a road to

the south, which ascended a hill and formed nearly a right angle

towards the west, in which Arnold had taken a stand a few

minutes before, with a few regular troops and a field piece.

While yet on the ground from which we had just driven them,

looking at the enemy entering and filling the pass up the hill, we

saw the smoke of Arnold's cannon pouring down upon them,

they retreating to another road leading to Campo bridge; but

Arnold reached the bridge and compelled them to ford some dis-

tance above. Here the action was sharp, but a reinforcement

was landed from their ship, which enabled them, after a severe

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14       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

contest, to get on board their fleet. The loss on both sides was


Mr. Badger then returned to his home and rested awhile,

but there was another urgent call for men and he enlisted as an

Orderly Sergeant and served until January, 1778, having served

his country as a soldier of the Revolution over a period of nearly

three years. In commenting on this service, he wrote:

"When I entered the army it was from principles in defence

of the civil and religious rights of our country. The "tea" affair

was well known and the design of introducing taxation and of

prohibiting domestic manufacturing were well understood; and

the apprehension of being governed by laws which we had no

voice in making, with other grievances, determined the people

generally to defend themselves against what appeared to be

tyrannical and oppressive government."

He speaks of the terrible privation and the great danger that

threatened him many times and closes with this statement:

"On my return from the army I received about two hundred

dollars in paper currency, with the whole of which I could not

get cloth for a decent coat. This was all the compensation I

received for almost three years of hard service until 1818, when

Congress began to think of the old soldiers."

For six months following this he took up weaving for a

livelihood and recounts that he wove during that period sixteen

hundred yards of plain cloth. Along with this work he spent

much time in study under a Rev. Mr. Day as tutor. The common

branches and Latin were pursued diligently. This fitted him to

take charge of a school and he taught through the years of 1780

and 1781. During this time the subject of religion grew in in-

terest with him, and under the urgent persuasion of Rev. Day,

supplementing a conscious self-propulsion, his thought was di-

rected toward the calling of the ministry. Mr. Day persuaded

him to accompany him to the commencement at New Haven in

this year. When he arrived there he learned that a few young

men were being examined for entrance to the college. Mr. Day

encouraged him to join the company, about thirty in all. He

passed the examination and entered Yale College. Teaching

common school, singing school and engaging in various other

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 15

kinds of labor and studying with the same energy shown in his

patriotic defense of his country, he won his way and graduated

in September, 1785.

During 1786 he taught school and pursued the study of

theology under the direction of Mr. Leavenworth in Waterbury.

In the Spring of 1787 he was invited to a charge in Vermont,

but on account of the excitement occasioned by Shay's Insur-

rection he did not go, but accepted an invitation to preach in

Blandford, Massachusetts. Here he was ordained on the 24th

of October, 1800.

November 15, 1800, under the call of the Connecticut Mis-

sionary Society, he took up his first journey to the Connecticut

Western Reserve. From this time for forty-seven years his life

was to be spent upon the soil of what is now the state of Ohio.

From 1780 to 1800, while the student life of Joseph Badger

was passing in New England, and while he was getting ready

for his task in the Ohio country, events of epochal importance

were taking place in that vast region. Following the Revolu-

tionary struggle the pioneers began to push toward the new land,

where the young Washington had gone as a surveyor of the

Virginia Company and about which Christopher Gist had reported

to the Ohio Company in Connecticut. Tales of wonderful and

bewildering character had found their way back along the forests'

paths and had set on fire the enthusiastic ambitions of young

men and women with their budding families, so that pilgrims

were seeking new homes in the shadows of mighty trees and on

the banks of winding, beautiful rivers; only to be participants in

the dark and bloody scenes which marked the pioneer days of

Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, and the Ohio

land, which comprised vastly more than what is now known as


In 1778, when Joseph Badger, worn and exhausted, returned

to his home in Connecticut, after rendering faithful service of

incalculable value at Bethlehem and Nazareth, as an attendant

upon the sick soldiers, he little thought that from these villages

would go the simple-hearted Moravians that had shown such

friendship to him and the men under his care, to be the center

of events and circumstances that have made Salem, Gnaden-

16 Ohio Arch

16       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

hutten and other settlements synonymous with martyrdom in

which Christian red men and white men were both innocent

victims of the cruelty of red and white savages.

The stories of those years in the West have been told by

the men who had part in them and are among the heirlooms of

our Western annals and have been collected by diligent students

of that period, and, though the narratives make our blood course

violently, we are mindful that the deeds of those early men and

women are immortal and laid the superstructure of the common-

wealths which are the pride of a mighty nation.

The pioneer work, however, was not all done in the year

1800, else the missionary societies had not seen the necessity of

sending others to take up further tasks at the beginning of the

new century. States were yet to be cut out of the magnificent

territory that was just beginning to reveal its splendor and pro-

ductivity. Ohio the Beautiful had not at this time been set apart

by itself to develop an individuality of its own that has given it

one of the proudest positions among the sisterhood of states.

Here and there, separated by long stretches of forest, were

single families or little groups, brave to encounter the difficulties

that stood in the way of productive effort or to defend themselves

against the wild life in man and beast which endangered them

on every hand. The making of a great state from what was on

the ground in the way of civilizing material in the first year of

the nineteenth century was a tremendous task. It was to this

that the young missionary came with his family in that beginning

year, at the age of forty-three, and there he was to labor through

all the vicissitudes of pioneer life during another period as long

as that over which he had already come.

The decision of the Connecticut Missionary Society to send

Mr. Badger to the Western Reserve followed a call to him to

take up work among the Black River settlements. He consented

to their final plan, and, leaving his family, started on his western

journey of between 600 and 700 miles on November 15, 1800.

Crossing the Hudson at Newburg, he traveled through Goshen,

Sussex Court House, N. J., and across the Delaware into Penn-

sylvania. He crossed the Alleghany Mountains amidst raging

snow storms and reached Pittsburgh the middle of December.

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 17

Leaving there on the 14th, he preached along the way and came

to Youngstown, within the bounds of the Reserve, on the last

Sunday of the year.

The narrative of the difficulties met and overcome in this

journey is thrilling indeed. Climbing mountain passes; swim-

ming his horse through dangerous fords in rivers; journeying

for miles without looking into a human countenance or seeing a

dwelling place of man. Tired and hungry most of the time, he

went his way rejoicing that he could be a message bearer to a

new world and a pioneer in the work that would preserve the

new civilization from the influences that bring degeneration. The

settlements he mentions as having visited after Youngstown are

Hopewell, Neshannoc, Vienna, Hartford, Vernon, Warren, Can-

field, Deerfield, Boardman, Atwater, Poland, Mesopotamia,

Windsor, Mantua, Aurora, Hudson, Ravenna, Newburg, Paines-

ville and Cleveland. Chagrin, Mentor and Euclid are mentioned

as on the way from Cleveland to Painesville. In Cleveland at

this time there were two families, in Euclid one, in Chagrin one,

in Mentor four, in Painesville two. The last two places men-

tioned in connection with this tour are Harpersfield and Austin-

burg, in each of which there were ten families. To the last

named of these settlements, Austinburg, he was eventually to

bring his family in April, 1802, and there he founded the first

Church in the Western Reserve and the second Congregational

church founded in the state of Ohio, on the 24th of October,

1801; the first being founded in Marietta thirteen years before.

This completed tour of the settlements brought him to the

month of August, 1801, when he says: "I have now visited

and preached the gospel to all the families on the Reserve."

A journey full of incidents worth recounting is mentioned

as occurring in September of this year. Mr. Badger had prom-

ised George Blue Jacket, son of a Shawnee Indian chieftain, to

go with him on a visit to his father. In company with the Indian

and Rev. Thomas Hughes, they started September 2nd. The

home of Blue Jacket was about three miles from Brownstown

and in the region of the Maumee. The journey is described in

a graphic way and relates some stirring adventures. The first

night they swam the Cuyahoga River with their horses and slept

Vol. XXVI-2

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18       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

in their wet garments. On the morning following they followed

the Indian path along the lake, reaching Rocky River. Here

they forded the river, and while cutting a path up a steep bank

to afford a road for their horses they heard the salute of a

rattle snake. They pursued their way along the high, rocky

shore of the lake to Black River, where they encamped. The

following morning they crossed the river in a bark canoe, swim-

ming their horses. They came to the Huron about 3:00 P. M.

They were entertained over night in an Indian cabin, and the

following day being Sunday, Mr. Badger preached in the Indian

village. He says they were treated kindly and given the very

best to be had in the way of eatables and entertainment.

On Monday, supplied bountifully with food, they pursued

their way to the Portage River and encamped for the night. He

writes as follows of the following day:

"Rode through the swamp to the Shawnee village on the

Maumee. George, our Indian boy, took us on to the island just

below the rapids to see his aunt. Soon after we were seated we

were presented with a bowl of boiled corn, buttered with bear's

grease. As the corn was presented, the old Indian woman said,

'Friends eat; it is good, it is such as God gives to Indians.' This

gave opportunity to preach Christ to her and her two daughters,

the only ones present.

"We crossed the river afterwards and lodged with a brother

of George. He had a good bed and blankets, all clean and whole-


Two days afterward they reached the home of Captain

Blue Jacket and were received with great cordiality. This Indian

family lived in a "comfortable cabin well furnished with mat-

tresses, bedding and blankets; and for the table, crock-

ery and silver spoons, and their cooking was equal to that of

white people." Mention is made of a trip taken to Detroit with

this notation: "There was not one Christian to be found in all

this region excepting a black man who appeared pious."

Returning to Blue Jacket's home, the matter of schools was

discussed with a company of Indians who had been invited to be

present. This talk had much to do with the future work Mr.

Badger was destined to do among them.

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 19

On the return from this visit they passed by Lower San-

dusky. Mr. Badger was taken ill with fever and ague and the

return was much retarded. Notwithstanding his very weak con-

dition, he persisted in preaching on the Sabbath. Mention is

made of a seventeen-year-old white boy among the Indians who

became greatly interested and who was inclined to listen and

showed a desire to learn to read. He acted on advice, to go to

the settlement. "He soon learned to read the Bible and became

hopefully pious." The last two days of this return trip were

spent without anything to eat except chestnuts.

Following immediately on the return from this sojourn

among the Indians, he came to Austinburg, and on the 24th of

October, 1801, the church before mentioned was organized. On

the following day he set out for Massachusetts in company with

Eliphalet Austin, after whom Austinburg was named. The mis-

sion of Mr. Austin was to secure a pastor for the new church.

Mr. Badger had suffered greatly from the year's pioneering

and the journey back to New England was one that taxed all

his reserve energy. On the 15th of December, when near Bloom-

field, New York, one side became paralyzed. This detained him

until the 26th. He then proceeded to his home and family,

from which he had been absent nearly fourteen months, arriving

January 1, 1802.

On January 3rd his report was made to the Missionary So-

ciety at Hartford and a new commission was issued for his return

to take up the work as a full-fledged missionary at the princely

emolument of seven dollars per week. Having exchanged his

small piece of land in Blandford for a parcel of land in the

Western Reserve, he loaded his belongings in the way of house-

hold goods and on Washington's birthday, 1802, started with

his wife and family of six children to brave the hardships and

inconveniences of the then very sparsely populated Ohio country.

The story of this journey is most thrilling. Almost every kind

of adventure was encountered on the way. A great snow storm

was sweeping the region through which they were compelled

to travel, so that many miles of the way they were obliged to

shovel paths for their passage through heavy drifts of snow,

On the second of March they came to Troy, New York, and

20 Ohio Arch

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Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 21

experienced a perilous crossing of the Hudson. Through many

other difficulties they passed, reaching Buffalo the first Sunday

of April. Here in a poorly contrived boat they were enabled

to convey the wagon and horses across Buffalo Creek, though in

mid-stream Mr. Badger was thrown from the boat and compelled

to swim ashore. The narrative notes at this point that this was

the first team of horses known to have crossed this stream.

They were now among the Indians and received much help

from them in their further progress westward. Corn was pur-

chased at the price of one dollar per bushel. Cutting roads for

the passage of horses and wagon and moving as rapidly as pos-

sible, they arrived at the first house in the state of Pennsylvania

on the following Friday. Here they remained several days and

then proceeded, reaching Moulton Station, recorded as the first

habitation reached in the bounds of the Western Reserve.

On the last Thursday in April they came to their future

home at the settlement of Austinburg.

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In May began the labor of erecting a cabin for the shelter

of the family, and some time in June they were under their

own roof and the work of the pioneer missionary was begun in

earnest. The cabin home is described as being built of round

logs without chinks, a floor covering but one-half of the floor

space and made of split stuff, partly roofed with boards from

Austin's mill and with no chimney.

Having provided this much of a home and with provisions

to last over two or three months, Priest Badger took up once

more the itinerary of the settlements which he had formerly

visited. He mentions being in the home of Mr. Burke in Euclid.

Mr. Burke had come to that region with Moses Cleveland, the

surveyor, and the man after whom the metropolis of Ohio is

named. The Burke family had been living in this lonely place

for three years, and Mrs. Burke related that she had been com-

pelled to spin and weave cattle's hair to make coverings for her

children's beds.

On the next Sunday he was in Hudson, where he organized

the church that has been memorable in the history of Christian

progress throughout the Reserve, and where were sown the

educational seeds that blossomed and fruited in the Western

Reserve University. Many noted people afterward had their

membership in this church, among them John Brown whose

"body lies mouldering in the grave, but whose soul goes march-

ing on."

The settlements were all visited, and in September, 1802, he

notes a visit to the north part of Trumbull County, where the

voters were assembled to elect a representative to the proposed

convention at Chillicothe for the purpose of shaping a State

Constitution. Samuel Huntington, six years later elected Gov-

ernor of Ohio, was the man elected as this representative.

From this place he returned home for a few days, but was

called to Pennsylvania to attend a meeting of the synod at Pitts-

burgh, which had supervision jointly with the Connecticut society

over the missionary enterprises in the West. After a few days'

labor in a revival meeting following the visit to Pittsburgh he

returned to his home, having been absent, except for a day or

two, over a period of almost three months. He now devoted

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 23

himself to putting their home in a better condition of protection

from the storms of another winter, preaching the while in four

or five settlements not far away.

Late in December of this year he began again his round

of visits to the churches already organized and to the settlements

in which efforts were making toward organization. The record

of this work continues with little variation in the character of

incidents narrated. There is note of the fact that while there

were a great many Methodists settled in the Reserve at this

date, there had as yet no Methodist missionary arrived on

the ground. He speaks of Watt's hymns being used for the first

time west of the Alleghany Mountains in the year 1801 and

gives an account of a revival meeting on this tour that typifies

the revival of the time. I quote here his own description.

"I preached in the afternoon to about three thousand people,

the largest worshipping assembly I ever saw collected. They

were conveniently seated in a grove, with a stand for the speak-

ers raised about four feet above the congregation. In the time

of preaching there were many who cried out and fell into a

perfectly helpless condition. There remained a slight respiration,

the only sign of remaining life. In this situation many lay from

two to six hours without strength to move or speak. Others

were taken with trembling and loss of strength, and yet could

talk freely. I could not learn from any with whom I conversed

that their views of sin and their danger and criminality were

any wise different from what was common in revivals in New

England, with which I had been conversant. But the effects

on the system, so different and alarming, were totally inexplicable

by any. The exercises of singing, exhortation and prayer were

continued until after midnight, when the ministers retired, but

the great body of the assembly continued on the ground through

the night."

Just following this meeting and while traveling to another

appointment, he had an adventure with a bear that compares in

the thrill of it to any told in the famous stories of adventure

among the wilds of the western or tropical forests.

The work of the missionary during the year of 1803 took

on, in addition to that of preaching and organizing churches,

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24       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

the task of the colporteur. The association saw the need, as

did he, of the circulation of good books among the people. So

many volumes were put at his disposal, and as he went from

settlement to settlement he carried in his portmanteau all that

might be easily transported in that way and saw to it that the

people were put in possession of them either by gift or purchase.

Thus information of the richest sort was distributed throughout

communities. The roadways through the wilderness were in a

very imperfect condition. He mentions riding to Conneaut from

Austinburg and marking out his own path. He also speaks of

the organization of the first school in that settlement about this

time. On his trip he visited Chautauqua to officiate at the funeral

of a Mr. McHenry, who was drowned in the lake, and mentions

that it was the first sermon ever preached in the place that has

now become the mecca of religion and education during certain

months of the year for hundreds of thousands of the best and

most enlightened people of the world.

The year 1803 was spent in this active work among the set-

tlements and resulted in his growing influence all over the Re-


With the beginning of the activities of 1804 the Missionary

Society at Hartford decided that it would be necessary to cut

down his salary to the sum of six dollars per week. Up to this

time he had been receiving the sum of seven dollars, which was

one dollar more than they were paying the missionaries in New

England. The society had come to the conclusion that with the

increasing population on the Reserve the living expenses would

grow proportionately less, or that there would be means of earn-

ing a livelihood more easily on the outside of his regular work

as a missionary. He sent in his protest, but it was of no avail.

For two years more he continued this work of an itinerary,

attending faithfully to every detail of the requirements placed

upon him and reported the same to the society which was paying

him his royal salary. In June of 1804 he makes note of the

following as having occurred on Sunday, the 10th of that month.

I quote this because of the appearance of so many names that

have since become notable or whose children have kept the

names familiar to a succeeding generation.

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 25

26 Ohio Arch

26       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

"People met in Judge Austin's barn. Mr. Patterson

preached. After the sermon forty-one persons were admitted to

church membership; four were baptized. The Lord's Supper

was then administered to sixty-two communicants. It was a

refreshing time. The assembly consisted of about one hundred

and seventy souls, more than half over fifteen years of age were

professors. Lois Badger, John Wright and Sarah, his wife;

Nathan Gillett and Lucy, his wife; Salome Gillett, Timothy R.

Hawley, Robert Montgomery and Mary, his wife; and the

widow Betsy Harper were from other churches. Eliphalet Aus-

tin, Thomas Montgomery and Rebecca, his wife; Elisha Ward,

Louis Cowles, Quintas F. Atkins and Calvin Stone were bap-


Ira Blanchard, Henry Langdon Badger, Lydia Case, Florilla

Austin, Julianna Badger, Benjamin Morse, Thomas Dunbar and

Ruth, his wife; William Harper, Betsey Harper, Abraham

Bartholomew, Zera Cowles, Erastus Austin, Sally Atkins, John

Wright, Jr., David Wright, Moses Wilcox, Alexander Harper,

George W. Hawley, Lydia Battle, James Montgomery and Mary,

his wife; Edmund Strong and Anna, his wife, are the names of

the persons admitted to fellowship in the church at Austin-


In June, 1805, according to plans arranged some time before,

he visited the River Raisin in Michigan territory, the home at

that time of the Wyandot Indians. His absence from home was

planned to cover a period of two months. He left home on the

9th of June and returned on August 20th. This visit was prelimi-

nary to a more extended service to be rendered among the Indian

tribes during the years 1806 and 1807 and intermittently over

a decade of years.

Mr. Badger, now a man fifty years of age, offers himself

to the service of his country in the capacity of an all-round

servant of the people who were friends or foes to the white race,


3Ashtabula County today is made up of the people who have de-

scended from these families. The Harpers mentioned are of the family

whose history is recorded in a former sketch prepared by the writer

and published two years ago under the title, "A Grave in the Wilder-


Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 27


just as the white people were minded to make them. And if

all the white men who had to do with the Indians had treated

them as Priest Badger treated them much of shame and anguish

that marked the time might have been avoided. He went among

them as their friend and they learned to know him as such, and

during the years of his service among them he had their con-

fidence and respect.

As before said, he left his home June 9th and at Cleveland

fell in with Captain Parish of Canandaigua and Mr. Knaggs

of Detroit, interpreters, on their way to attend the treaty at

Swan Creek. This treaty was one involving the methods and

compensations regarding the sale and purchase of lands belonging

to the Indians. Mr. Jewett, the Indian Agent, and the commis-

sioners of the Connecticut Fire Land Company met in council

with the chiefs of eight different tribes, to discuss the land

problem, a subject that has been under discussion through all the

ages, and grows no less difficult as the centuries proceed.

The journey from Cleveland to Sandusky extended from the

11th of June to the 14th and was fraught with varied experiences.

Mr. Badger relates that just as they were starting from the

Black River on the morning of the 11th they looked up the lake

toward Detroit and saw the smoke of the burning town which

was that morning consumed by fire. Swimming their horses,

losing their way, and meeting with other unfortunate circum-

stances, they finally came to Sandusky, where Mr. Badger was

entertained by Rev. James Hughes, who was doing the preaching

in that place.

The chiefs from the upper town had arrived on their way

to the place of treaty. In conversation with Crane (Tarhe) and

Walk-in-the-water, Mr. Badger made arrangements for a season

of prayer and preaching with the Indians at the council house

on the following day, which was Saturday. He here mentions

for the first time a man by the name of Barnett and a woman

by the name of Whitaker. These names appear frequently in

the subsequent parts of his narrative. Barnett seems to have

been a white man brought up among the Wyandot Indians

from childhood and bore the Indian name of Eunonqu. He was

an early convert to Christianity and was one of Badger's chief

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28       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

lieutenants in his work among these people. He seems to have

gone back to Pennsylvania for some years and reared a family

there, but subsequently returned to the old life. Mrs. Whitaker

was a white woman. Whether her husband was living or not

dos not appear. The home of Mrs. Whitaker was always open

to the missionaries and she had the respect and confidence of

the Indians. A quotation from the story of the proceedings of

the Saturday meeting is very interesting. This meeting was

held in the council house of the Indian village three miles from

Sandusky. Saturday morning, June 15, 1805.- "We went up to

the council house, found the chiefs gathered and others coming

in to the number of about sixty or seventy. Others stayed away,

making noises, sometimes coming in and going out again. One

came in looking very ugly with his gun and went through the

house twice, singing the war whoop while Mr. Hughes was

preaching.  Being engaged in another discourse after Mr.

Hughes, the same Indian came in again with his war club and

sang and whooped as before. The chiefs were much displeased

with his conduct, and early Sabbath morning called the dis-

turbers together and gave them sharp reproof. On the following

day, Sabbath, we both preached again without any disturbance,

and they all appeared to listen with solemnity. Barnett appears

with the meekness of a Christian and is indeed an amiable man.

After the sermons, Tarhe, or Crane, consulted with the chiefs

and thanked us for what we had said, and expressed his belief

in the truth of our words, that it was God's work, and he hoped

they might remember and mind it."

On the following Monday morning Mr. Badger discovered

that his horse was gone, and after some search it was found at

Spicer's, in the Mohawk village, twenty-six miles away. This

village was at Honey Creek, where the chief's name was Beauty.

Mr. Badger speaks of having him as an auditor at a previous

time, where he had listened with great interest and solemnity.

He made request at this time for a visit from both Mr. Badger

and Mr. Hughes and that they should preach to his people. On

the next day, Tuesday, they accompanied the Indian and the in-

terpreter to the Upper town to attend the treaty council, putting

up at the home of Chief Tarhe.

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 29

Very little is said about the treaty proceedings here, but he

attends another session of it the latter part of the month at Fort

Industry4 where eight different tribes met with the commission

of the Connecticut Land Company. Here his main object was

to get opportunity to preach.

Two or three days of the week were spent at Honey Creek

when he returned to the Lower town. On Friday he went out

4Fort Industry, over which there has been much discussion among

Ohio historians is here referred to as the place of the treaty and shows

that there was a fort known by that name that existed at that time.

30 Ohio Arch

30       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

to the village again and was the guest of Barnett, in whose home

the Indians congregated to hear an address on civic improvement,

the subject of education - reading, writing and figuring was the

main theme. The address presented the great advantage of

being able to cultivate the lands more extensively and in a way

more intensively; of raising cattle and making cloth, saying to

them that this was the only way in which they could increase

their population and live happily.

At Swan Creek late in the month, when the proceedings

were being continued, he had another opportunity to get before

the great body of Indians out of eight tribes. Tarhe again is

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 31

intercessor to obtain this privilege. So the next day he talked

to them on the subject of the disastrous effects of the ardent

spirits on them as a people. He said:

"In the first place, after drinking a little you get drunk and

lose your reason, and then you quarrel and abuse one another;

sometimes one friend kills another, and you abuse your women.

This is one reason why you are wasting away and have few chil-

dren that grow to be men. But when you are sober there are

none more friendly. Secondly, when you get drunk you lie out

in the wet and the cold and contract disease which unfits you

for hunting or hoeing corn or doing anything for your support.

Look at that man, a son of the head chief, he is shaking all over

and can scarecly walk with his staff. This he has contracted by

drinking to excess. He must soon die, although a young man.

They all cried out-  Entooh! Entooh!, true! true!

"Thirdly, by reason of your drinking the traders impose upon

you and cheat you and get away your property for almost nothing.

When you have been out hunting or have made a good quantity

of sugar, the traders will visit you on your hunting-ground

with kegs of whiskey and a few goods and get you to drinking

and get away from you all your winter's hunt for a mere trifle,

and you go home and have nothing with which to make your

families comfortable." To all these sayings the assembly would

shout: "Entooh! Entooh !"

The old chief then addressed them, and at the close he

turned to Mr. Badger and said: "Father you have told us the

truth. We thank you Father. We have all agreed to use no

more ardent spirits."

Mr. Badger further states that during the years in which

he dwelt among them afterwards he never saw but one Indian

in a state of intoxication. As a result it broke up the gang of

traders and they no longer molested them.

The Wednesday following the address mentioned above he

went to Brownstown and walked out about five miles to the

home of an Indian that he mentions as the Black Chief, who

had just lost his wife. To him he tries to bring the comfort

of the Christian faith. During the conversation the chief ex-

pressed surprise that so many bad people were among the French,

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32       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

English and Americans when they had the same God and the

same Bible.

He told the chief that the people who brought them whiskey

and goods and tried to cheat them out of their property did not

believe in the Word of God, and therefore were deceiving the

Indians and despoiling them by not only cheating them in

trade, but by putting into their hands the means of destruction

of life and manhood. The chief said, "Our Father, the President,

has sent word to us asking why we are diminishing in number,"

and that he had requested Mr. Jewett, the Indian agent, to tell

the President that diseases were being sent to them in their

goods and annuities, but the most destructive thing was spirits

of various kinds, especially whiskey. It destroyed their stom-

achs, brought on decay, made them drunk, and frequently made

them quarrel and kill each other and do many other bad things.

He said that when the French first came they were better and

did not bring fire-water, and that they were better off than now.

He wished their Father, the President, would take pity on his

children and wholly prevent the bringing of spirits among his


Mr. Badger convinced him, however, of his and the Govern-

ment's friendship by getting it before him that there was a law

regulating the matter, by which he and those of his people who

wanted could destroy all the liquor that came into their midst

without any recourse on the part of the owners.

In may be mentioned in this connection and from the vantage

ground of more than a century of history made since then, that

there never has been provision made such as the Government

should have made in regulating this matter. In fact, the Gov-

ernment, as such, has been very slow through all the years in

doing the deed that is fundamental to protection of her weaker

subjects from the ravages, not only of the liquor traffic, but of

many other devilish contrivances by means of which the strong

and knowing have been enabled to make spoil of the weak. The

Government itself has been mean and unscrupulous and has en-

couraged these qualities in men and combinations of men who

have cared to be despoilers of their fellow men.

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 33

Thus far what has been written has had to do mainly with

getting ready for the regular missionary work among the people

to whom he was an appointed minister. From 1806 to 1808 the

mission work was to be continuous, and while very interesting,

the daily accounts of details of preparation will not be gone into

here. The removal of his household to the Wyandot country

took place early in May.

The difficulties encountered in getting by boat along Grand

River to Lake Erie appalls one who thinks of the ease of trans-

portation in these later days. With their hand-constructed boat

they sailed along the lake, close to shore, from Painesville past

where Cleveland now stands, and on past Rocky River, and Ver-

milion, to the Huron, where, on account of a rough sea they

had to sail into the river to escape the danger of shipwreck.

Here they were joined by several companies of Indians in canoes

who were helpful through the remainder of their journey. These

Indians were of the Ottawa and Ojibwa peoples and seemed

deeply interested in the coming of this minister into their midst.

On the 12th day of May, 1806, their boat sailed into San-

dusky Bay. They went up the river a distance of ten miles

while a thunder storm was raging and missed their way, landing

the vessel at the edge of an extensive marsh. Here, the nar-

rative relates: "We spread our sail over our boat and slept under

it very wet and there being nothing on shore for fuel, we had

patience for supper."

The next morning he was met by his sons who had preceded

the others and rowed back into the Sandusky and a short dis-

tance on to the home of Mrs. Whitaker. Information was

brought here that the chiefs had gathered in the village in re-

sponse to the call of the Shawnee prophet. Word was sent to

the Indians assembled that the new missionary had arrived.

Barnett received the word and seemed very much distressed and

sent back word that the chiefs were gathered to counsel to-

gether about the proposed execution of four witches and Barnett

had been designated as one of the executioners. He (Barnett)

had not so far given his consent and was anxious to get the

advice of the minister. Mr. Badger told him to have nothing

Vol. XXVI-3

34 Ohio Arch

34       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

to do with them but to go to the chiefs and tell them to desist

from such a thing until the interpreter could be brought into the

council. A runner was then sent to the upper town and Arm-

strong, the interpreter, arrived on the following day. Four of

the best women in the nation had been picked out by the Prophet

as deserving death as witches and had been condemned to be

executed. Crane, or Tarhe, was the leading chief in the council

gathered and Badger's appeal reached him and through his influ-

ence the prophet's plan was not carried out.

A comment on this proceeding found in connection with the

narrative reads as wollows:  "It appears as though Satan had

come down to fight against the Redeemer's kingdom with great

violence and has many supporters; particularly the French and

English traders."

A day or two after his arrival and settlement, the chiefs

and young men came to visit the missionary and he laid his

plans before them and after the meal and the usual custom of

smoking their pipes they considered the matter together and

accepted these plans as good for them and expressed themselves

very favorable to the project. They gave free consent to the

erection of a building anywhere west of the river but stipulated

that no land should be improved beyond the reserve land and

no other white people should be brought in except those neces-

sary to the carrying on of the mission.

Mention is made of a company of black people at the Upper

town living together in the Black Village. There were seven

heads of families and many children. A white man by the name

of Wright, a silver-smith, married to a colored woman was a

member of this community. He afterward left his wife, who

is spoken of as being a very estimable woman of careful and

industrious habits. These people were eager listeners to the

preaching that was provided them from time to time and be-

came deeply interested in all that the missionary attempted to

do for them. The result was that they learned to read and to

do things about the house and in the fields that brought them

real prosperity as prosperity was rated in that time and place.

Priest Badger's labors among the Wyandots from Upper

Sandusky to Maguago, six miles below Detroit, was very ar-

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 35


duous and fatiguing. He was exposed to inclement weather

and the annoyances of camping out in disagreeable places and

traveling over rough and dangerous grounds, but the opportu-

nities afforded for doing good among a simple minded people

were very great and gratifying. The opposition to this work

was not found among the Indians themselves except as they were

deceived and bewildered by the traders who came among them

to despoil them of their belongings. The wonderful influence

gained over them by the generous, unselfish treatment they had

at the hands of Priest Badger and others who lived among them

as he did, brought marvelous results in their conduct and

manner of dealing with one another. Persuaded to abstain

from intoxicating liquor, as mentioned in forewords, brought

them to a state of mind where they could see for themselves

that they were being robbed by these deceivers so they made it

so uncomfortable for them that they ceased to visit them. Gov.

Hull was visited in Detroit, and he gave sanction to the work

Mr. Badger was doing.

This sort of work, educational and religious, was the daily

task through the years of 1806 and 1807. The educational work

branching from teaching them how to read and write and

calculate in figures to the practical tasks which they would per-

form in the getting of their sustenance under a constantly chang-

ing order of things.

The record contains evidences that the circuit over which

Mr. Badger traveled stretched from Detroit as far south as

Franklin on the Scioto; that he had intimate acquaintance with

all the noted chiefs of the time; and that he was their constant

advisor in times of emergency. Two or three visits to Franklin

and the home of Tarhe on the Scioto are referred to. He men-

tions the Whetstone, now known as the Olentangy River. He

says in one place that his preaching places were more than one

hundred miles apart. This would indicate that he followed

these wanderers about from place to place and ministered to

their needs not only as a spiritual guide but also as a physician

and teacher in the books as well as in the art of agriculture.

On one of his visits to Franklin he speaks of preaching on

the Sabbath in Worthington and twice in Franklin. This was in

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February of 1808. At that time he also carried a message to

Crane who was at that time growing old and was seriously ill.

He speaks of him as being very ill and feeble, but he lived ten

years after this.

In the autumn of 1808 he took his wife and journeyed to

the New England region where he told the story of his work

to the churches and collected several hundred dollars for its

prosecution. He remained there till late in the Spring of 1809

and then returned to his field of labor. In that year the rum-

blings of war terminating in what is known in history as the

"War of '12" were heard all over the country and the final

battles of that war were to be fought on the very territory over

which he was doing his work for the native tribes.

As mentioned early in the narrative, Mr. Badger was bit-

terly opposed to war, but he, like most men who have had the

Christian Missionary spirit, was caught in the maelstrom of

militant forces, where to utter protest was to invite the con-

tumely of the multitude and the powers that rule. Nevertheless

he withheld no word that he felt needed to be uttered as expres-

sive of his prophet office as a messenger of peace to all the world.

His counsel to the Indian tribes was always on the side of peace.

On the other hand the malevolent influences of designing poli-

ticians and greedy exploiters were leading these people into the

paths of recklessness that meant their final undoing.

An incident showing his characteristics in this particular

is related a little further on in the narrative. The incident oc-

curred while his family was in Ashtabula and where he was at

intervals. Buffalo had been set on fire and intelligence had been

carried up the lake that the British were going to march on

Erie to destroy the vessels that were then in process of build-

ing and then to proceed farther west along the lake shore. The

people of the village were in consternation. Men and women

were flying about getting their belongings together, to flee they

knew not where. It was the man that they had called chicken-

hearted because he hated war that became the man of the hour

in the trying experience. The company who had shown so well

on dress parade a few hours before, with the exception of the

captain refused to turn out in the face of danger. Mr. Badger

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 37

made fun of them and turned the tables on them by arraigning

them as chicken-hearted and mounting his horse he dared them

to follow him. "You have called me an old Tory but let us now

see who is willing to give himself in defense of his country

when a real call comes." The result of this action spurred many

of them to march toward Erie but they had not gone far till

the order was countermanded.

In October 1809, while his family was yet living in Austin-

burg, a disastrous night fire destroyed their home. This was not

only a great loss to them but it inconvenienced Mr. Badger for

the time very seriously. A few months afterward the family

removed to Ashtabula where he erected a house, a part of which

is still standing.

In June of 1810 he was among the Indians again helping

them to work out plans for their own advancement and preser-


Mention is made again of great excitement among the In-

dians over the subject of Witchcraft. Their chieftains had des-

ignated several of their number as guilty of the crime as they

thought of it. A peaceful Indian, known as Leatherlips, was

one of those accused and he was made to suffer the penalty

imposed on all such. The story of Leatherlips is known to all

the readers of Ohio historical papers. This year of 1916 the

writer, in company with the Daughters of the Revolution, visited

the spot where he was executed, or as Mr. Badger says, mur-

dered, and where on the banks of the Scioto River, fourteen

miles north of Columbus a beautiful monument marks his grave.

There is little doubt that Priest Badger was near at hand when

this tragedy occurred. It was only a part of the greater tragedy

which involved all the tribes who were then inhabiting the beauti-

ful Ohio country and whose action resulted in just what the

white prophet foretold. His language in an address to a large

assembly gathered in council will bear quoting:

"I hope war will not take place. It will be a great calamity

both to the red man and the white. I have some advice to give

you as to the course you should take in case war should come.

Listen my children! You are now living very happily on the

lands occupied for many years by your fathers who now lie in

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their graves near you. This is a good land, well fitted for your

support. Here you can hunt and fish and cultivate your fields

and raise an abundance of corn. You are under no obligation

to sell it and while you remain at peace with the government at

Washington you will not be driven from it. If war should break

out between the British and the United States and you should

join the British, many of you will be killed in the contest and

you will forfeit your favor and rights with the rulers at Wash-

ington, and they will doubtless feel illy disposed toward you as a


"The Americans laid the British on their back in a former

war and will do it again, for America is much stronger now than

it was then. If this comes to pass your land will be taken from

you and you will be driven still farther away from the home of

your fathers. This is good land and many people would like

to have it, and war begets a spirit that forages on those who

become its victim. My advice is that you stay out of the war,

taking part with neither the British nor the Americans. The

Americans are not asking you to fight for them, but they do

expect that you will not help the other side. If the war reaches

you here go back to some of the settlements farther south till

after it is over. Then you can return to your homes and take

up your pursuits as before. Thus your women and your chil-

dren will be safe and you will all be happy."

Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet of the Shawnees,

were doing all they could to keep the Indians in a state of hos-

tility toward the Americans. These men felt personal grievances,

no doubt, but there is reason to believe that they were well paid

by the British for their influence lent in behalf of that govern-

ment during those troublous years. Few men even among the

white race stand out more prominently in the annals of the West

than do these two strong members of the Indian race. St. Clair,

Wayne and Harrison found in these men foes to be dreaded

not only because of their sometimes cruel methods of warfare,

but for their genuine ability in the art and strategy of war.

They were real marshals and would have graced high station

among the leaders of men anywhere.

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 39

While Mr. Badger makes no mention of having met these

warriors he does speak of many of their compeers with whom

he was on friendly terms.

With his home and family in Ashtabula he spent the years

of 1810 to 1812 preaching everywhere and doing a little business

in the book trade. This did not prove a very profitable venture

because of the difficulty in getting anything in the way of freight

or luggage transported west from Buffalo.  We are forcibly

reminded at the time this is written of the condition then not at

all unlike conditions now over a widely extended territory, where

with embargoes and merchant ship interference and foreign de-

mand, the prices at home have been soaring. He speaks of salt

being from twelve to twenty-three dollars per barrel, and all

other merchandise in proportion. The result of this was to

check the increase in population for the time being.

About the first of October 1812, the troops began to be called

upon to move in the direction of hostilities. The grounds over

which they were to move covered the region in which the mis-

sionary had done his work.

"A scout, passing over the outlet of the Sandusky to the

peninsula, had a brush with the Indians and a number were

severely injured, others were soon taken sick. Several officers

wrote me urging me to come to the scene of the trouble."

In response to this call as recorded in the diary, Mr. Badger

went to the region of the Sandusky and the Maumee purposing

to stay about three weeks. He says further: "Found both the

sick and the wounded in a bad condition. I secured help and

made the block-house comfortable and provided bunks and regu-

lar attendants. In a few days General Harrison came."

Without being consulted he was appointed chaplain to the

brigade and postmaster to the army. A chaplain's commission

soon came and so he felt constrained to remain. In November

they were ordered to march to Sandusky. There was no one

in the camp who had ever gone over the road but the chaplain.

I quote here the language of the diary once more:

"I observed to the General, that to pass through on the

Indian path with teams would be wholly impracticable on ac-

count of the deep mire and swampy ground. He replied, 'Can

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you find a better route?' I told him I could and mostly on dry

ground. He proposed that I should take a guard of about

twenty men and several axemen and mark through where I

thought the army could pass with heavy teams and wagons. I

went through in five days, marked out the road and returned.

On the last day there was a heavy snow storm. I then piloted

the army through in three days. The Indians were on every

hand. They killed one man just a mile below the fort on the

day we arrived."

In February of the following year, 1813, the army proceeded

to the Maumee country, and Fort Meigs was erected. Soon after

this Major Whittlesey was taken ill and Mr. Badger took him

into his own tent and tended to his wants; his past experience

in the war of the Revolution and among the Indians standing

him in good stead. The illness was of a severe type and except

for the fine ability of Dr. Stonard of the Virginia line and the

faithful nursing of the chaplain the career of the Major had

ended at that time. The Major had just begun his convalescence

when word came of the serious illness of Mr. Badger's two

sons. One of these bearing the name of his father, died and

was buried in the old cemetery at Ashtabula. Mr. Badger had

turned over the Army postal service to another, but in May word

reached him at his home that the siege of the Fort had begun

with General Proctor leading the British and Indians. He was

at Sandusky when General Harrison returned from the siege.

On the next day he was sent to the Fort with the mail and re-

mained with the soldiers until in the month of July when he went

back to his family, and to preaching in the churches.

In August 1818, he was called to endure the sorrowful

affliction of another death in his family and this time it was as

severe an affliction as falls to the lot of man. His good and

faithful wife was taken ill suddenly and lived but a short time.

He had reached the age of 61 and felt at the time that his

work was almost done. Already he had accomplished what few

men are able to do in a long lifetime. But his physical strength

had not abated and for seventeen years more he was to preach

the Gospel and help organize churches, and then ten more years

he was to suffer in silence, his voice having failed him entirely.

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary

Joseph Badger, the First Western Reserve Missionary. 41

But what he could not do through his voice he attempted to do

by means of his pen, and a volume might be filled with the let-

ters and communications that were found after his death.

He continued to fill pastorates in the Western Reserve,

mostly in Ashtabula and Trumbull counties. The last ten years

were lived at Maumee and Perrysburg, towns famous because of

their proximity to the battlefields of the War of 1812 in which

he had a conspicuous part.

If at three o'clock on an August afternoon the shadow of the

Fort Meigs Monument could extend the length of a half mile

its point would rest on the grave where has rested his dust in

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42       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

the Perrysburg cemetery since 1846. The stone slab which

marks the grave was erected by the Northwest Synod of Ohio,

and bears the inscription



First Missionary

to the

Western Reserve.

Born in Massachusetts in 1757.

Died in Perrysburg, Ohio, 1846.




In reading "Life among the Indians" by Rev. James Finley,

the Methodist Missionary, who worked among the Wyandot

Indians after 1815, I have been curious to know why no men-

tion is made of the work done by Mr. Badger and one or two

other ministers who antedated his coming by at least ten years.

In the chapter in which he tells about John Stewart, the

Mulatto revivalist, he says: "While they (the Indians) were in

this degraded condition, God remembered them, and sent them

the word of eternal life. Not by the learned missionary, but

by John Stewart, a colored man, of no learning, 'that the ex-

cellency might be of God and not of man!' "

The degraded condition here mentioned, Finlay credits to

the character of the religious instruction imparted by the Roman

Catholics through many years. He seems to have heard nothing

about Badger or else was the victim of a prejudice which pre-

vailed universally at that time which banished from notice any

commendable work other than that done by one's own denom-


We are loth to feel at this date, that any such spirit could

ever control the followers of Christ, but it has proven true in

so many instances more recent than then, that we can imagine,

at least, that it might have had something to do with the omis-

sion. Without doubt credit must be given to Joseph Badger

as the first missionary in the Western Reserve and among the

Wyandot Indians of Ohio.