Ohio History Journal


Editorialana.                       467


stimulation of his firm assurance that all is well here below and all will

be better in the world beyond. His life was above reproach, his career

an inspiration. None knew him but to love him, none named him but to


No organization with which he was connected seemed to give

him greater pleasure than the Archaeological and Historical Society.

Its field of investigation, its province of collecting and preserving the

records of the past and its work of storing the same for future gen-

erations of students, particularly appealed to his intellectual activities

and his fondness for knowledge of what has been, what is and what may

be. In the pantheon of those who have been most potent in the origin

and growth of this Society-the memory of no one will be more per-

manent or more revered than that of Roeliff Brinkerhoff.




An interesting and informing volume could be written on Little

Journeys to Historic Sites in Ohio, and it is one of the dreams of the

Editor of the Quarterly to some day put forth such a volume. Mean-

while, as time permits such "little journeys" are being made. It was

on a brilliant day last August (1911) that the Editor "tripped" to what

in some respects is one of the most historic sites in Ohio. Many articles

have been penned and published on the pioneer forts of Ohio. No

state in the Northwest Territory can boast of as many stockades in

the early days as can the Buckeye commonwealth. Romantic, dramatic

and patriotic are the records of many of them. The French fort of

1745 at the mouth of the Sandusky, the scene of Nicholas' conspiracy;

the stockade defense at Loramie's on the Pickawillany, the scene of

the prelude of the contest between the French and the British for the

Northwest Territory; the first fort built by the Americans, in the

American Revolution, the famous Fort Laurens near the present site

of Bolivar; Fort Stephenson (Fremont) on the Sandusky, the scene of

the siege of Croghan's little band attacked by Proctor and his British

veterans aided by Tecumseh and his horde of western savages, in the

War of 1812; there are few stories in warfare equal to it for display of

bravery and patriotism. But the fort least known to general history

-for it is not mentioned by any of the leading historians-and yet

most significant in western annals, for an event connected therewith,

is Fort Gower at the mouth of the Hocking, or Hockhocking, as it was

once called from the Indian name "Hockin-hockin."

It was the year 1774 in the month of June that the English Parlia-

ment passed the detested Quebec Act-an affirmation of the previous

so-called Quebec Act of 1763. This act of 1774, provided a government

for the Province of Quebec, embracing the territorial domain west

and north of the Ohio River-known later as the Northwest Territory.

468 Ohio Arch

468        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


This arbitrary and oppressive jurisdiction covered the scattered western

traders' posts and more firmly than ever excluded any control over it or

interest in it by the sea-board colonies. Settlements from the American

colonies were forbidden in this territory. The Pennsylvanians did not so

seriously protest at this Quebec Act as the Pennsylvanians desired that

the Indians be left in undisputed and undisturbed possession of the trans-

Ohio empire, to the end that the fur trade, extensive and lucrative

to the Quaker provincials, might be undiminished. But with the Vir-

ginians it was different. They claimed, by right of their charter, that

a large part of the Ohio country belonged to Virginia. They claimed

the right to invade the Ohio country and make settlements therein. This

is not the place to enter upon a discussion of the motives and pur-

poses of Dunmore's War-so-called-which followed on the heels of

the Quebec Act.  Suffice it to say, Lord Dunmore, the royal governor

of Virginia, decided upon a hostile expedition across the Ohio, the

main ostensible purpose being to chastise the Ohio Indians for their

aggressive incursions across the Ohio River. We cannot follow the

details of this so-called war. They will be found in an article by the

writer in the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society Quar

terly for October, 1902. Dunmore raised an army of some three thousand

Virginia soldiers. This force was divided into two divisions, fifteen hun-

dred of the contingent were placed under General Andrew Lewis, and

following down the Kanawha reached Point Pleasant October 6th, where

four days later the battle was fought in which Cornstalk, the head

of the Shawnee Confederacy, with over a thousand Indian braves,

was defeated and driven back across the Ohio. Lewis then, in accord-

ance with instructions received from Lord Dunmore, crossed the Ohio

and began his march to the Pickaway Plains, there to unite with Dun-

more's division which was encamped on Sippo Creek. It is the Ohio

invasion of Dunmore's troops that has to do with Fort Gower. While

Andrew Lewis was pursuing the course mapped out for him by Dun-

more, the latter had rendezvoused his division at Pittsburg, whence he

embarked on the Ohio in a flotilla of a hundred canoes, besides keel boats

and pirogues, with George Rogers Clark, Michael Cresap, Simon Girty

and Simon Kenton-then known as Simon Butler-as scouts and guides.

The army moved down the river until it reached the mouth of the

Hocking, at which point the soldiers left the flotilla and built a stockade

which Dunmore called Fort Gower, after Earl Gower, a personal friend

of Dunmore in the British House of Lords. Leaving a garrison of one

hundred men to guard the fort, on October 11th, with White Eyes.

the Delaware chief as an extra guide, Dunmore began his march up

the Hocking Valley, which he followed by way of the present sites of

Athens and Logan, thence he struck a little south of west to the Pick-

away Plains, finally establishing his camp, called Charlotte, on the north

bank of the Sippo. Here took place the famous conference between the


Editorialana.                      469


Virginia general and Cornstalk and his accompanying chiefs, the Mingo

Logan refusing to participate. The treaty of Charlotte was the result.

The "war" was over and Dunmore, breaking camp on October 31st,

proceeded on his return march to the Ohio. He reached Fort Gower

on the 5th of November. Here the soldiers learned, for the first time,

of the action taken by the first Continental Congress, which had assem-

bled at Philadelphia, September 5, 1774. The officers of the army

thereupon held a meeting and passed resolutions which we here insert in

full from the American Archives, 4th Series, Vol. 1, p. 962:

"GENTLEMEN:-Having now concluded the campaign, by the assist-

ance of Providence, with honor and advantage to the colony and our-

selves, it only remains that we should give our country the strongest

assurance that we are ready, at all times, to the utmost of our power,

to maintain and defend her just rights and privileges. We have lived

about three months in the woods without any intelligence from Boston,

or from the delegates at Philadelphia. It is possible, from the groundless

reports of designing men, that our countrymen may be jealous of the use

such a body would make of arms in their hands at this critical juncture.

That we are a respectable body is certain, when it is considered that we

can live weeks without bread or salt; that we can sleep in the open air

without any covering but that of the canopy of heaven; and that our

men can march and shoot with any in the known world. Blessed with

these talents, let us solemnly engage to one another, and our country in

particular, that we will use them to no purpose but for the honor and

advantage of America in general, and of Virginia in particular.  It

behooves us then, for the satisfaction of our country, that we should

give them our real sentiments, by way of resolves, at this very alarming


"Whereupon the meeting made choice of a committee to draw up

and prepare resolves for their consideration, who immediately with-

drew, and after some time spent therein, reported that they had agreed

to and prepared the following resolves, which were read, maturely con-

sidered and, agreed to, nemine contradicente, by the meeting, and on

dered to be published in the Virginia Gazette:

"Resolved, That we will bear the most faithful allegiance to His

Majesty, King George the Third, whilst His Majesty delights to reign

over a brave and free people; that we will, at the expense of life, and

everything dear and valuable, exert ourselves in support of his crown,

and the dignity of the British Empire. But as the love of liberty, and

attachment to the real interests and just rights of America outweigh

every other consideration, we resolve that we will exert every power

within us for the defense of American liberty, and for the support of

her just rights and privileges; not in any precipitate, riotous or tumul-

tuous manner, but when regularly called forth by the unanimous voice

of our countrymen.

470 Ohio Arch

470        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


"Resolved, That we entertain the greatest respect for His Excellency.

the Right Honorable Lord Dunmore, who commanded the expedition

against the Shawnese; and who, we are confident, underwent the great

fatigue of this singular campaign from no other motive than the true

interest of this country.

"Signed by order and in behalf of the whole corps.



These resolutions were virtually a Declaration of Independence on

Ohio soil, by Virginian backwoodsmen, six months before the shot was

fired at Concord that was "heard 'round the world," and more than a year

and a half before the Liberty Bell of Independence Hall pealed forth

the freedom of the Colonies. Is there a spot in Ohio or in the North-

west so deserving of a monument as this historic site of Fort Gower?

Hockingport, to-day, is indeed an "out of the way" place. It is on no

highway of travel, either of steam or electric conveyance. It can only be

reached by ferry across the Ohio from the almost houseless Harris

Station in West Virginia or by a drive or auto whisk from the little

station of Coolville on the south-western division of the B. & O. The

drive from Coolville, a distance of some six miles, is through a most

picturesque country of hill, dale and river, for the route lies along the

north bank of the Hocking river. It was early on the August morning

that we pulled into the little cluster of houses that the inmates designate

as Hockingport. The Ohio at this point takes a plunge due south.

which the Hockhocking, or Hocking, as it is generally known, enters the

Ohio by a curve from the west. The exact location of the almost for

gotten stockade enclosure, as determined by the best traditionary lone

obtainable, "on the spot," by the present writer, was upon the east or

north side of the Hocking, on the elevated bank of the Ohio, from

which its garrison could overlook the broad, placid sweep of the

majestic river, which is here flanked on the Virginia side by a chain

of graceful hills, the tip land of a spur of the Alleghany range. Our

pilot, a scholarly gentleman of many years residence in the town, led

us into the midst of a field covered with tall corn stalks and pointed

out a few heavy stones, which, it is verily believed, were portions of the

magazine receptacle of the fort. The palisaded earthworks, long since

ploughed away, lay on the outskirts of the present burg, a little sleepy

hamlet of only a score and a half scattered dwellings, in which abide

some six score inhabitants, who live the simple life "far away from the

madding crowd's ignoble strife."  Surely Hockingport awaits a just

renown, when it shall be the mecca of historical students, for within its

precincts assembled the Virginia frontiersmen who, of all the Colonists,

were the first to declare their willingness, if called upon, to unsheathe

their swords "for the defense of American liberty."