Searchable Complete Text of Newspaper Columns by Jim Blount|
Published in the Hamilton Journal-News from 1988- the present
Supplied by Jim Blount for use by anyone interested, through the World Wide Web and maintained by The Lane Libraries Hamilton, Fairfield, Oxford, Ohio
Note: Microfilm of the Journal-News containing the complete columns is available at Hamilton Lane Library, 300 N3rd St. Call (513) 894-7158 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details. Complete copies of many of these columns are also available at the Smith Library of Regional History in Oxford (513) 523-3035.
Journal-News , Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2001
Dunlap Station besieged by Indians
By Jim Blount
Life was precarious for settlers in the Symmes Purchase in January 1791, about nine months before the building of Fort Hamilton. Starting in November 1788, three communities had been built on the north bank of the Ohio River between the Little Miami and Great Miami rivers. In October 1790, Indians had repulsed a U. S. military expedition threatening to destroy Native American crops and villages.
The danger didn't stop about two dozen men, women and children from venturing away from the relatively secure riverside settlements of Columbia, Losantiville and North Bend. Their intent was to select a place to plant crops and establish a new community. They were led by John Dunlap, formerly a surveyor for John Cleves Symmes, who had agreed to buy a million acres of the Miami lands from Congress in 1788.
The group chose a site where the Great Miami River formed an oxbow, leaving an inviting flat lowland of about 1,000 acres. The tract -- considered fertile for farming -- was about 17 miles from Losantiville (later renamed Cincinnati) and Fort Washington.
Dunlap Station was on the east bank of the Great Miami River, about eight to nine miles southwest of the future site of Fort Hamilton. Today the location -- which also was known as Coleraine, Fort Dunlap and Fort Coleraine -- is along East Miami River Road near Dunlap Road in Colerain Township in Hamilton County. Dunlap called it Coleraine in honor of his home area in Ireland. (Later, the last e was dropped in naming the township.)
In 1790, about six families, some individuals and a dozen soldiers built cabins and one or more blockhouses on the riverside clearing. It was surrounded by pickets on three sides and open to the river.
Saturday morning, Jan. 8, 1791, four men were about to resume their inspection of the land west of the river opposite the station. They were heading north toward what would become Ross Township in Butler County when they were surprised by Indians.
The first shots killed one of the men and caused another to be thrown off his horse and captured. The others rushed across the river to the crude fort and warned of the approach of the Indians. About 30 people crowded into the log enclosure in anticipation of an attack. Nothing happened the remainder of the day or overnight as rain turned to snow, accumulating to at least five inches.
The morning of Sunday, Jan. 9, some men crossed the river, recovered the body of the dead man and buried it without challenge.
The calm ended near dawn Monday, Jan. 10, when some Indians approached the station and sent their prisoner, Abner Hunt, forward as their messenger and interpreter. Through Hunt, they demanded surrender.
Firing erupted while negotiations were in progress. After exchanging shots for about two hours, the Indians renewed their demand and warned that their hostage would be killed if Dunlap occupants refused to surrender.
When that demand was ignored, the Indians proceeded to torture Hunt. During the night, his colleagues at Dunlap Station heard his cries and moans until he died.
Fighting resumed at daylight Tuesday, Jan. 11, and continued until the appearance at 10 a.m. of a relief force from Fort Washington. Despite a numerical advantage -- estimated as high as 350 to 500 -- the Indians ended the siege and disappeared into the woods.
Unknown to those surrounded at Dunlap Station, some hunters near the settlement heard the start of the siege and alerted soldiers at Fort Washington. Thirty-eight soldiers and 33 volunteers from Columbia and Losantiville responded. About six miles from the fort, they met two men from Dunlap Station who had escaped in the darkness to seek help.
Despite the rescue, Dunlap Station or Coleraine -- the first attempt at settlement in the interior of the Symmes Purchase -- was abandoned.
# # #
Journal-News Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2007
Daniel Doty's Little Prairie became Middletown
By Jim Blount
In the winter of 1791-92, Daniel Doty found an inviting opening on the western edge of the heavily-forested Northwest Territory. He believed the tract on the east bank of the Great Miami River would be an ideal farm site. Despite its isolation and the constant threat of Indian reprisal, the 26-year-old Doty built a crude log cabin on the land he called Little Prairie. His cabin didn't last long. It washed away in a 1793 flood. But the determined Doty came back a few years later and lived to see his Little Prairie become Middletown, Ohio.
The Middletown pioneer was born March 23, 1765, in Essex County, N. J. At age 25, he headed west Sept. 10, 1790. From Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh), he traveled by flatboat down the Ohio River to the easternmost of the three settlements in the Symmes Purchase.
Oct. 23, 1790, Doty landed at Columbia, about a mile west of where the Little Miami River empties into the Ohio River. Columbia had started nearly two years earlier, Nov. 18, 1788, when 26 people established the first settlement in the Symmes Purchase. It was on land Benjamin Stites had bought from John Cleves Symmes
A few days after Doty arrived at the riverside settlement, he witnessed the danger of frontier living. That's when survivors of Gen. Josiah Harmar's failed 1790 expedition against the Indians returned to Fort Washington (Cincinnati), a few miles east of Columbia.
Harmar's 320 regulars and about 1,100 militia had left Fort Washington Sept. 26. His orders were to destroy Indian crops, food supplies and villages near present Fort Wayne, Ind. The poorly-trained, poorly-equipped expedition ran into an Indian ambush Oct. 19 and lost an Oct. 21 encounter before retreating. Harmar's shattered force reached Fort Washington Nov. 3.
Indian-fighting was a duty assumed by Doty and other men living along the Ohio River at Columbia, Losantiville and North Bend. They supplemented the small garrison of soldiers stationed at Fort Washington. The defenders were in a constant state of alarm.
In January 1791, Doty was among the 33 volunteers from Columbia and Losantiville who joined 38 soldiers in marching to the relief of Dunlap Station, a settlement of about 30 people, when it was besieged by an Indian force estimated to number as high as 350 to 500 men.
Dunlap Station -- also known as Coleraine, Fort Coleraine and Fort Dunlap -- was on an oxbow of the Great Miami River, about 17 miles from Fort Washington and eight to nine miles southwest of the future site of Fort Hamilton. The Indian siege ended Jan. 11, 1791, when Doty and others came to the rescue of Dunlap Station.
Later that year, Doty -- convinced he wanted to farm the fertile soil in the Symmes Purchase -- began his search for land. He explored up the Little Miami River into present Warren County before heading west toward the Great Miami River. His quest brought him to the grassy tract north of Dick's Creek, the spot he called Little Prairie.
April 24, 1792, Doty was back in New Jersey after a prolonged trip that started with a flatboat journey to New Orleans.
He returned to the Northwest Territory in 1796 with his wife, Betsy, and their children. Doty moved his family to Little Prairie, where he had built a cabin in the winter of 1791-92. (That original cabin, according to Middletown historian George Crout, "stood on the east bank of the Miami, almost opposite the site of Barnitz Field.")
Doty arrived too late to raise a crop and there were no neighbors to share the harvest. The area was abundant in wild game, but Doty had to buy provisions in Cincinnati in 1796 to sustain his family.
Doty and his wife raised 10 children in the 52 years they resided on their farm near Middletown. "He became a man of wealth and of influence," said the 1882 county history. The Butler County pioneer was 83 years old when he died May 8, 1848, in Middletown. The city he initiated had 1,087 inhabitants two years later when the 1850 census was completed.
# # #
Journal-News Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007
Simon Girty controversial figure on Ohio frontier
By Jim Blount
Simon Girty is not a familiar name, unless you're a student of the Ohio frontier and late 18th century Indian wars. Histories of the early 1790s -- when Fort Hamilton was an army supply post in the wilderness -- depict Girty in many Indian raids and battles in the region.
From an American view, terms describing Girty's actions include brutal, cruel, savage, murderer, massacre, torture, atrocity, inhumane, villain, turncoat, traitor and "the Great Renegade." From an Indian, British and Canadian perspective, he was a soldier, scout, guide, interpreter, diplomat and hero.
The controversial frontiersman was born in 1741 in eastern Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg. In 1755, at the start of the French and Indian War, the Girty family sought protection in Fort Granville. French soldiers and Indians captured the fort and Simon Girty was taken by Delaware Indians.
Later, he was adopted by Senecas and learned their customs and language. In 1759, after British troops had defeated the French and captured Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh), the Senecas agreed to return their white captives, including Girty. He became a farmer and an interpreter for American colonists involved in the fur trade with Indians in western Pennsylvania.
Because of his experience and relationship with Native Americans, the British also utilized Girty as a scout, interpreter and treaty negotiator in the 1760s and 1770s.
Girty -- sought by both sides when the American Revolution began -- aided the colonial cause in seeking Shawnee, Seneca, Delaware and Wyandot cooperation in western Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Some accounts say Girty was a lieutenant in a company of colonial troops in 1777, but saw no combat. He was dismissed later that year and charged, but never convicted of treason. He was alleged to have been part of a plot to seize Fort Pitt, kill its occupants and relinquish that strategic Ohio River gateway to the British.
In March 1778, Girty switched allegiance, fleeing to Fort Detroit, a British stronghold. He served the British, Iroquois and later Ohio tribes as a scout and interpreter.
The most damning brutality involving Girty was the torture and execution of Colonel William Crawford, his friend. Crawford was commanding Pennsylvania militia in 1782 when captured by Delawares at the Battle of Upper Sandusky. Witnesses said Girty failed to intercede or end the suffering of his friend during prolonged torture.
Girty was reported to have fought on the British side in the 1779 siege of Fort Laurens in Ohio and raids into Kentucky, including 1782 encounters at Bryan's State and Blue Licks. He seems to have been everywhere -- which was impossible -- and was blamed for actions of others, including his brothers.
In the 1783 treaty ending the revolution, the British yielded the area south of the Great Lakes, east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio River to the United States. But British troops and officials didn't leave all the forts within that area. Girty remained in the region, encouraging and aiding Indians in their resistance to American settlement above the Ohio River.
He was more than an adviser to the Indians, as shown in the Jan. 9-11, 1791, attack on Dunlap Station, about 10 miles south of the future site of Hamilton. The blockhouse had been built to protect a few civilians who had settled on the east bank of the Great Miami River in what is now Colerain Twp. in Hamilton County.
"The Indians numbered about 350 and their leader was a renegade white man, infamously notorious as Simon Girty," wrote Stephen D. Cone, a Hamilton historian. "The little garrison, though but a handful compared with their assailants," said Cone, held out until relief arrived. During the siege, Girty ordered or condoned the torture of a captive.
Girty was accused of leading attacks on other civilian targets, and directing or refusing to stop the torture an0d massacre of survivors, including women and children. Girty also is reputed to have scouted and participated in attacks on the U. S. armies that built and manned Fort Hamilton, 1791-1794. That includes the Nov. 4, 1791, defeat of Gen. Arthur St. Clair's army and the Aug. 20, 1794, Battle of Fallen Timbers, won by forces led by Gen. Anthony Wayne.
After Wayne's victory and the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, Girty found refuge with British forces at Fort Detroit and later in Canada, where he died.
# # #