Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The City of Seven (Three) Hills (Ridges)

Apparently #513Day is a thing now. In case you didn't know today is 5/13 and Cincinnati's area code is 513. So Happy 513 Day Cincinnati.
Now pardon me while I pull out my wet blanket.
Cincinnati is often referred to as the City of Seven Hills. No one can agree on a definitive list. What is the origin of this nickname? I'm sorry to report that there is no such thing. It's made up. Sorry.

1938 Cincinnati book
Let's review some geology! 
Cincinnati doesn't even have hills. Technically they are ridges.
The city of Cincinnati is in a peneplain, a plain carved out by the ancient Teays River millions of  years ago. This plain is surrounded by three ridges. The high points of these ridges are nearly all the same height and seem like hills from downtown Cincinnati. The city is actually in a valley. The Ohio River Valley. They just look like hills when viewed from the lower elevation of the Downtown area.

Let's review some history!
Northwest Territory Governor Arthur St. Clair re-named Losantiville to Cincinnati in 1790 after the Society of the Cincinnati, a veterans club tribute to George Washington named after the Roman farmer-leader-farmer Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus. By the early 19th century Cincinnati was a growing metropolis, eager to draw new citizens and business. The steamboat era was in full swing and the Miami & Erie Canal had just been completed. The city was the gateway to the Mississippi and all points beyond. Cincinnati's location made it a major thoroughfare for commerce and travel. The population of Cincinnati went from 2,500 in 1810 to over 100,000 by 1850. In short, it was a boom-town. It seems likely that someone decided Cincinnati had Seven Hills just like Rome simply as a nod to the origin of the city's name. This reference didn't even show up until June 1853 in a periodical called Bickley's West American Review. By 1860 the population was at 160,000.

Now back to the "seven hills" themselves...
The Cincinnati area now has over a dozen places with the term "Mount", "Heights" or "Hill" but it wasn't always this way. Some "hills" have changed names over the years or have been combined into one name.
An obvious thing to do is go back to the original list. As I said before, no one mentioned "Seven Hills" until 1853 over a half century after Cincinnati's founding. This 1853 list is also strange because it includes College Hill way to the North. In 1881, someone came up with a new list. By then there were different hill names as the city expanded even more. Oddly the 1881 list replaces College Hill with Mount Lookout way over to the East. By the 20th and 21st century we had updated lists.
Six basic "hills" seem to be common in all of the era's but if you ask me the best list is from the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1958. That list hugs around those three ridges just perfectly. They can all be easily observed from the point of view of the downtown area.

  1. Mount Adams
  2. Walnut Hills
  3. Mount Auburn
  4. Clifton Heights
  5. Fairview Heights
  6. Fairmount
  7. Price Hill
A terrain map makes this more apparent:



On the terrain map you can see the flat plain at the bend north of the Ohio River and the three ridges to the Northeast, North and Northwest. (click on the icon in the upper left of the map to see the different layers with the different hills mentioned in 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.)
I'll agree that the City of Three Ridges doesn't have the same panache as the Romanesque sounding City of Seven Hills and this myth will never die. That's OK. We know the truth.
Now feel free to make your own list and argue with a lifelong resident about it.

other sources:
-Digging Cincinnati History
-Cincinnati Enquirer March 18 2012
-Cincinnati Magazine May 1985


Friday, April 17, 2015

I Red The News Today Oh Boy

Pete, you scoundrel!
In 1960 a band from Liverpool England formed and called themselves The Beatles. By 1970 The Beatles were finished. The members went their separate ways playing music under various other names.
In an alternate history, by 1981 another group of lads from Liverpool decided to form a new band and called it The Beetles. They have been recording music for the last 33 years. That makes The Beetles the longest running rock band in history!
The Beetles est.1960.

Stay with me. This post is about something sacred and holy to Cincinnatians. A topic you won't see much of here.
It's not politics.
It's not religion.
this sign skips from 1869 to 1876
It's not even chili.
It's sports. Namely, the Cincinnati Reds.
Now it's no secret to my friends that I'm not a sports fanatic but I do like history and I like debunking historical myths. In other words, I like the truth.

I'm sure you've heard the Cincinnati Reds referred to as the oldest professional baseball team, "established in 1869". Some Cincinnati Reds shirts and merchandise say "est. 1869". A big sign at the stadium even states this. It just isn't true.
It is certainly a fact that the first professional baseball team was the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. This was a baseball team from Cincinnati with "Reds" in the name, but this was a different team with a different genealogy. Let me explain how that happened...

you wear a t-shirt of lies!
The original 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings folded after a short run. The end.
In 1871 several players from that folded team moved to Boston and formed the Boston Red Stockings. There were several name changes in bean-town like my personal favorite, the 1893 Boston Beaneaters.
In 1913 they became the Boston Braves. This team then moved to Milwaukee in 1953 as the Braves and then moved once more to Atlanta in 1966 again as the Braves.
This is the modern Atlanta Braves, the oldest professional baseball team, est. 1871. Sorry.
I hear you screaming "Lies! Sacrilege! Heretic!".

There's more...


Cincinnati had no professional baseball team from 1871-1875. None. Zip.

There WAS a second Red Stockings team that formed in Cincinnati in 1876, but they folded in 1880. The end. Again.
A third Red Stockings team started in 1881.  This team dropped "Stockings" from the name when joining the National League in 1889. This is the same Cincinnati Reds franchise that exists today.

In the 1940s the idea began to appear that the Cincinnati Reds was the oldest team in professional baseball. I'm not sure of the reason behind this. Perhaps nostalgia or hometown pride. We did have that war going on. The point is, the notion did not exist prior to that time. It certainly didn't exist in 1883. Here is a excerpt from a Cincinnati Commercial Gazette article on 09/13/1883
"The Cincinnatis have played remarkable games during their career since 1882, but never did they accomplish such a feat as that of this game. Never was there such batting done in this city - in fact the slugging has not been equaled in this country in late years. From the time the first Red Stocking went to the bat up to the last one was extinguished (the NL Reds 1876-1880), it was a continuous larruping picnic"
(Larrupping means a "thrashing")
While the Reds Major League Baseball site does not make this claim directly, they do skimp on the timeline a bit much like Ohio Historical Marker #54-31 in front of the Great American Stadium . They both refer to the original Cincinnati Red Stockings as being the oldest team but omit the folding, subsequent franchise moves, and name changes. Keep in mind no one associated with the original 1869 Red Stockings had anything to do with the 1881 Red Stockings.
Here is another analogy for you. If Pete Rose lived at 1414 Main Street, Cincinnati OH, sells his house and moves away to let's just say... Philadelphia, then another man moves into 1414 Main Street and changes his name to Pete Rose, is that the same Pete Rose? I don't think anyone would say it was. It's a different man with the same name living in the same house.
angry revisionist history Reds fans
Apparently this topic gets debated from time to time so this is nothing new to the hardcore fan but to the casual rabid fan this is religious doctrine.

1881! Someone got it right!
Need more proof?
Baseball folks are all about stats right? Take a look look at the MLB Reds statistics page. Let's see, where is 1869.... Oh! They begin in 1882 for the 3rd Cincinnati Reds Stockings. Look at the Braves MLB site, their stats begin in...drum roll...1871. Yeah yeah, I know it says Boston Braves but almost all other online sources list them as the Boston Red Stockings for the years 1871-1875. Here is one source.
Atlanta Braves win by 11 years.

It's fair to say that Cincinnati's baseball tradition dates back to 1869. BUT the Cincinnati Reds franchise per the MLB stats began in 1881, 11 years after the Atlanta Braves and thus is not the oldest pro team.

Cincinnati Reds est. 1881

The next thing you know, I'll be telling you that the Wright Brothers from Ohio didn't fly the first airplane in 1903 but rather it was a German immigrant in Connecticut named Gustav Whitehead two years earlier. That's another topic for later.

Should I hire a bodyguard now?...er uh, play ball and good luck in 2015! Huzzah.

other sources: 
-the biggest Reds fan I've ever known: James L. Farmer Sr. of the Society for Cincinnati Sports Research
-Major League Baseball


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March Ohio History Madness!

March is rich in Ohio history goodness. 
OK, not all of it is good. Some of it is bad and downright shameful. It is interesting nonetheless and makes us who we are. Are we learning yet?


I've written up some things on most of the following items. The link will take you to that post.

Tecumseh was born in 1768 somewhere in SW Ohio. Historians don't agree on the exact day or place (probably Xenia) but the date is likely sometime in March based on conversations with a white man named Stephen Ruddell who grew up as his adopted brother.

The month also marks Ohio Statehood Day when Ohio became the 17th state March 1st 1803. So happy belated birthday.

Adopted son of Ohio, war hero, Tecumseh adversary and shortest term President William Henry Harrison gave that long speech on March 4th 1841. It contributed to his early demise one month later. March really sucked for him. You can follow him on Twitter.

A terrible scar...
"Adopt our religion and our ways, be farmers and everything will be fine"...that's basically what the Americans said to the Indians.
It made little difference when they complied.
The Gnadenhutten Massacre took place March 8 1782. Ninety farming Christianized Delaware Indians were slain by militiamen in Ohio as revenge for raids carried out by other Indians. They were even praying as men, women and children were executed en masse. This escalated tensions greatly in the area and led to years of bloody conflict and distrust.

Onto something more positive...
Ohio produced 24 astronauts including Neil Armstrong. March 16th 1962 marks his first trip to space aboard Gemini 8. He would later of course be the first man to walk on the Moon.

Back to bummersville...
Many Wyandot, like Leatherlips and Tarhe, sided with Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries but it didn't matter. Their reward? They were the last Indians get booted from Ohio to "Indian Country" upon the signing of the Treaty with the Wyandot on March 17th 1842. The last sentence of the treaty may as well have been "Thanks for the help with the British and other Indians, we'll take all the land now."

Time for some music!
March 21st 1951 was the first rock concert, Allan Freed's Moondog Coronation Ball in Cleveland OH. 20,000 people showed up to a venue that held half that. Pandemonium ensued. Headlining was Paul Williams and his Hucklebuckers. Tickets cost $1.50. The fact that it was interracial was a big big deal too.

Ah well back to terrible good old days...
On March 27th 1884 a mob in Cincinnati, Ohio, attacked members of a jury who had returned a verdict of manslaughter in a clear case of murder, and then over the next few days would riot and destroy the Hamilton County Courthouse. This would become known as the Cincinnati Courthouse Riots. One of the worst riots in American history. 50 people died and many important historical documents and court records were lost in that melee.

Arthur St Clair, governor of the Northwest Territories was born in Scotland on March 27 1737. He was infamous for his major Indian defeat as well as naming Cincinnati.

March 31st 1933 marks the completion of Union Terminal which now houses the Cincinnati Museum Center. The citizens just passed a levy to save this fantastic building that needs plenty of work. Thanks for that! I no longer volunteer but my heart is there.

And last but not least, I acknowledge March 21st 2010 as my Ohio History Epiphany Day. This is when the local history lightbulb went off for me. Read all about it here if you like.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ship's Sensors Detect A Day of Birth

Nurse Chapel

Ohio has produced 24 NASA astronauts including Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, Jim Lovell and Judith Resnik. Resnik was even recruited into the astronaut program in 1978 by Star Trek actress Nichelle "Uhura" Nichols who headed a project to attract women and minorities to the agency.
Ohio is also the birthplace of Cleveland native Majel Barrett on February 23rd 1932. So happy birthday!
Who?
Spock denies Nurse Chapel's interface attempts
While not having the direct influence or notoriety as Nichols, Majel was involved in nearly every single incarnation of the Star Trek franchise. Nicknamed "the First Lady of Star Trek" she is best known as the iconic female computer voice in five Star Trek series' and several of the movies including the 2009 reboot. She also portrayed several recurring onscreen TV characters such as Nurse Christine Chapel in the original series (promoted to Dr. Chapel in the movies) and lusty Betazoid Ambassador Lwaxana Troi in The Next Generation and Deep Space 9.

Hello Nurse!
Thanks to Gene Roddenberry's progressive visions of the future, her first Star Trek gig was in the 1964 pilot The Cage as Number One, the ship's first officer. NBC network executives thought Mr. Spock the alien science officer was too demonic looking and they didn't care for a woman playing such an uppity lead role. In 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act, Americans weren't quite ready for strong female roles on TV or in real life. Roddenberry was pressured to give the first officer spot to the now half alien, less demonic looking man and demote the Earth woman to a more suitable role for the 23rd century. A sexy blonde nurse. Because it was really 1964 America. I suppose the show would have been much different without the misogyny but...wow. It wasn't that long ago. Interestingly, Chapel's unrequited love for the mostly emotionless alien Mr. Spock would become a plot subject in the series. I guess by the end of the 60s, the network censors were okay with a little inter-species mind noodling, and Chapel even carried Spock's essence once.  I've learned this relationship has become the subject of some tawdry fan-fiction. Google it. I try to keep it PG-13 here.

Gene and Majel in the 80s on set
When the first series ended in 1969, Majel married Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Besides her Star Trek work she produced and played roles in other science fiction shows such as Andromeda and Babylon 5 as well as doing voice overs for animation and video games.
Gene died in 1991, Majel in 2008 and their ashes will be launched into space by the company Celestis in 2016. The space burial will include among others, fellow Star Trek co-star James "Scotty" Doohan who died in 2005.
Not a bad legacy for someone who's college dream was to become a legal clerk.

other sources:
-Majel Barrett Bio on roddenberry.com
- IMDB.com
-MemoryAlpha

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Yeatman's Cove. All Cincinnati folks know what this is. I'll bet most have no idea who this Yeatman person is.
For those unfamiliar, Sawyer Point Park & Yeatman's Cove is an outdoor recreational area along the Cincinnati Riverfront. It's popular for many outdoor events like the annual Riverfest Fireworks, Party in the Park and other large community events. The area has a spectacular view of the Ohio River and the bridges from many places including the sprawling Serpentine Wall. You can almost always catch a barge or a steamboat chugging down the river. There are playgrounds, tennis courts, and trails to enjoy. It's very nice place to bring a family, maybe catch some live music or just walk around on a nice day.
1869 sketch of Cincinnati in 1802. The tavern would have been just above the boats by the tree.

illustration of the Square and Compass
of unknown
 date/origin but it seems old ;-)
Griffin Yeatman, a Virginian born lawyer built the first public house in Cincinnati OH in 1793. Yeatman, a Freemason, called his 2 story log tavern the "Square & Compass", no doubt a nod to the symbol of Freemasonry. Located at Front and Sycamore (where the left field of Great American Ballpark is now) this became the center of social and political activity in the fledgling city with around 800 citizens. A "Who's who?" of the Old Northwest such as Marquis de Lafayette, George Rogers Clark, Andrew Jackson, Aaron Burr, William Henry Harrison, Arthur St. Clair, and Mad Anthony Wayne frequented the tavern. Over time the country became more partisan and so did the Tavern. By 1800 only old Federalists (who tended to be Freemasons) hung out at Yeatman's while the new up and coming Democratic-Republicans (who tended not to be Freemasons) started going to future first Cincinnati Mayor, David Ziegler’s general store next door. Things never change. The new generation always wants their own stuff, new ideas and cool places to hang out.

1936 marker on building prior to the
baseball stadium being built at the location.
Griffin Yeatman wasn't just some attorney turned bar owner. He was a real big shot. For 27 years Griffin served as the Hamilton County Recorder, County Clerk, and Justice of the Peace. Don't be fooled by the word "tavern" either.  Oh sure you could get a pint of ale and a meal at the "Square and Compass" but it wasn't the chicken wing, burger and craft beer type place we know today. Many taverns of that time served as multi-functional community spaces, much like the modern public park that bears his name. The "Square and Compass" also acted as a hospital, post office, court and town council. By 1819 Cincinnati,  now at 9,000 citizens, had 70 other taverns but I suspect they were more along the lines of our modern notions.

It is difficult to come up with much else on the man or his tavern. I can't find a single image of Griffin or his bustling public house. It's a bit surprising that no period sketches of this high profile spot seem to exist and one would think a man of such prominence would have sat for a portrait or two. Griffin died at age 79 in 1849 of "rush of blood to heart" (?) and like many Cincinnati VIPs is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.
It is worth noting that even though Griffin Yeatman's full story seems to be lost to time, there are attempts to honor his name with an annual Griffin Yeatman Award. The award recognizes people who work to help others understand historic preservation and promote public interest in the topic. <ahem>

sources:
FindAGrave.com - Griffin Yeatman
University of Cincinnati Historical Maps
Cincinnati Cemeteries: The Queen City Underground 
BeerMumbo - Yeatman's Tavern
OhioPix - Ohio Historical Society managed repository of Ohio images
- Cincinnati, a Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors (1943)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Finney & Sprong - Forgotten Pioneers, Forgotten Cemetery


The first Gehio post of 2015! I'll try to get some more non-cemetery traditional posts together for the new year so this doesn't turn into just a graveyard blog! Eh. Mebbe.

Finneytown OH was founded by Ebenezer Ward Finney and his son-in-law David Sprong in 1798. The area of land had been acquired by their families after the Revolutionary War from John Cleves Symmes.  Personally, I wish they called it Sprongtown! I do like the sound of that! "Finney & Sprong" also sounds like a fine bluegrass duo.

Pvts. Finney and Sprong are buried in what is now a hidden little cemetery that's had several names over the years. The Old Wesleyan or Old Finneytown Cemetery was also known as Winton Ridge Lane Cemetery and God's Half Acre Cemetery. Ironically, per Google Maps, the 1802 cemetery sits just outside the border of Finneytown in what is now College Hill.
The six foot tall by fifty foot wide mound in the center is a c.800 BCE Adena Indian burial mound. Seen in the last two photo, next to the graveyard, is the top of the immense 1930s era  Winton Road Water ReservoirI believe it is unused now but I wasn't able to find additional information.  You can clearly see it in the overhead and street view maps in the link above. If anyone knows anything more about the reservoir I'd love to know! I'd hate to see it torn down. Maybe it can be a skate park!

For a great deal of time no one knew who who owned the old cemetery and as a consequence became overgrown and run down. This actually happens quite a bit. It is especially sad here not only because the founders of the community are buried here but also because 59 other early settlers and several veterans of  the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 vets are interred here as well. Then of course there are the prehistoric Adena Indians buried in the mound. So much history in this half acre!

Finney and Sprong with their consorts
In 1935, President Roosevelt started the Work Project Administration or WPA to create jobs during the Great Depression. By then many old cemeteries, especially veteran cemeteries, were in sorry shape due to neglect. One WPA project was to record all the graves nationwide of those who served in all the US wars up until then. This cemetery and its occupants were recorded at that time along with the "old Indian Mound". I have a feeling that this place would have been lost forever without the WPAs involvement.

Since it still had no official caretaker or owner, the burial ground was pretty much forgotten about again for 50 more years.
In 1982, the Adena mound was rediscovered and partially excavated, but then was once again forgotten. We never seem to learn do we?

Over the years, such as in 1995 and 2004 Boy Scouts and other civic groups have cleaned up the cemetery grounds. They have replaced or fixed some of the stones and even rededicated it.

the grounds with the Indian mound
and the reservoir to the right
Unfortunately, in early 2009 the grounds became associated with a heinous crime. The burned body of murdered teenager Esme Kenney was found near here.

The current state of the grounds seems to depend on when you visit as it relies on volunteer help. I had been here on two occasions in the last several years. On one visit it was nearly impossible to see the mound because the weeds were so high. By the second visit I could clearly see the mound and the gravestones.
I don't believe in curses and am not typically creeped out by graveyards. However, seeing this mostly rundown cemetery with its nearly forgotten pioneers and ancient people, resting in the shadow of the hulking unused reservoir and then knowing about the horrible crime here certainly gave me pause and a major case of the willies.

A special thanks to the Prell Geneology Website for all the research of this property!

Sources:
- FindAGrave
History of Finneytown 
2012 Cincinnati Enquirer article 
Genealogical information and article on the cemetery re-dedication. (Includes maps,photos and archaeological information by a descendant of Finney and Sprong.)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pvt. Issac F. Cosbey - Typos and Typhoid


“We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.....In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free--honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth.” 
- Abraham Lincoln's State of the Union message December 1st 1862


While geocaching I see the graves of many soldiers. This one caught my eye since a new plaque was placed in front of it and I noticed that Pvt. Issac F. Cosbey died during the Civil War. Many times the soldiers that died during the Civil War were buried near where they died, typically far from Ohio, so this one seemed unusual.

Researching Private Coseby was difficult at first. I thought he was in the 82nd because it says so on the newer plaque but I wasn't coming up with much.


The older original stone reads:
PVT CO A, 83rd REG OHIO INFANTRY CIVIL WAR
Aged 19y, 4m, & 8d
Died in the service of his country at Memphis, Tennessee.

The newer marker reads:
PVT CO A 82 REGT OHIO INF

The 83rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry roster shows that an Isaac E Crosby age 18, was a member of the 83rd Co A. Issac entered the service on August 13th 1862 and died on December 1st 1862 at a hospital in Memphis TN. It then states Issac T Cosby as the name in the hospital. Aside from some typos on the middle initial and last name this all seemed to fit.

I did some more checking on the 83rds movements to make sure things matched up.
Camp Dennison, six miles East of the grave
The 83rd was made up of seven companies and organized at Camp Dennison near Cincinnati OH August - September 1862. The 83rd left Camp Dennison September 3rd for the Defense of Cincinnati. After relocating to support other units and participating in minor skirmishes the 83rd was moved via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers from Louisville KY to Memphis TN on November 23 1862. Since Issac died December 1st, this fits in well with his whereabouts at the time of his death in Memphis. I have to assume at this point that the "82nd" in the newer plaque is a mistake since none of the 82nd history matched up with Issac.

So here we have this kid who volunteers for the Union cause, doesn't really take on any action, likely acquired some awful disease like dysentery or typhoid while being transported on the river journey and then died 110 days after joining up. His fate was not the exception either. The reality is 2/3rds of casualties in the Civil War were due to disease instead of glorious movie-like battle. In fact, during the 83rds service, 56 men died in battle while 163 men died of disease or accidents. A reminder of the grim reality of war in those older times.

sources:
Sycamore Township Memorial Cemetery
FindAGrave
83rd Regiment Ohio Infantry History


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Price Thompson - First veteran of America's first war

Price Thompson 1756-1842
I tend to make note of Revolutionary War veterans graves when I am out and about. It's amazing what hardships they faced, before, during and after the war.
I was in Carpenters Run Cemetery looking for some of my pioneer Denman ancestors when I spotted Price Thompson's gravestone with an old flag and new plaque attached to it. Not only did I later uncover some interesting history, it turns out I am likely related to Price Thompson since he married a distant Denman relative of mine named Molly Denman.
Born in New Jersey on March 20th 1756, Price Thompson was 20 when he saw his first Revolutionary War action at the Battle of White Plains, October 1776, a British victory. Over the next six years he fought in several important battles.
Price enlisted for the duration of the war on December 18, 1776 with the 4th New Jersey Regiment. A week later, the day after Christmas, he fought at the Battle of Trenton against the Hessians, a force of Germans hired by the British. This was the first major American victory in the war. Most people recall this battle from history class because of the famous Washington Crossing the Delaware event that preceded the battle.
Private Thompson was also at the Battle of Brandywine September 1777. This was an American loss that forced a retreat resulting in the British capture of Philadelphia that lasted until 1778
Price then spent the harsh winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge where 2,500 of the 10,000 Americans camped there died of starvation, disease and exposure.
In June 1777, the 4th New Jersey Regiment took part in the Battle of Monmouth, an American-British draw.
By March 1779, Price transferred to the 1st New Jersey Regiment commanded by Colonel Matthias Ogden.
Americans tend think of warfare from this period as relatively honorable European style affairs where opposing forces square off neatly and engage in battle. That was generally true, but messy lesser known activities such as Sullivan's Expedition took place. Thompson's new regiment participated in this retaliatory campaign over the Summer of 1779. It was a scorched earth style of war against the Loyalists and British allied Iroquois that destroyed over 40 Indian villages and their food supplies. This led to a terrible winter with a death tolls numbering in the thousands from exposure and starvation.
Thompson survived all of this. He eventually made it all the way to the Siege of Yorktown and the surrender of Lord Cornwallis in 1781, which would end the war. That hard life doesn't end here.

Molly ThomPson 1763-1823
Notice the typo in the last same.
He was discharged from the army in 1783 as a corporal.
Thompson then married his first wife Mary (Molly) Denman in 1783 and had thirteen children.
As a reward for his service , he received Bounty Land Warrant #8788 for 100 acres on July 31st 1789 from the Symmes Purchase in what would become Sycamore Township OH. This was just two weeks after the newly acquired Northwest Territory was formed by Governor Arthur St. Clair. In those days this part of Ohio was a violent and dangerous place due to ongoing hostilities with the British allied American Indians who still lived there. They didn't call it the Miami Bloodbath for nothing. Cincinnati/Losantiville was a brand new settlement, Ohio was not yet a state and the Treaty of Greenville was still six years away.
I never did discover Price's occupation but I found that sometime prior to 1824 he donated this acre of land to be used for a cemetery. In 1828 at age 72 he applied for his pension. He stated he served as a Drummer and a Corporal in the 1st NJ Line under Captain Holmes. US Pension Laws provided that every indigent person who had served to the war's close, or for nine months or longer, would receive a pension. Whatever his occupation was, he was unable to work at this point since the pension was essentially disability pay. Thompson being an enlisted man received $8 per month which equates to $200 in 2014 money. I thought it was worth pointing out that per the VA website, the amount of basic benefit paid in 2014 ranges from $127 to over $3,100 per month. Thompson would have received this meager pay with no other benefits in those days, until his death on March 1, 1842 at the age of 85. He served through nearly the entire Revolutionary War, into the 19th century, watched the US double from 13 to 26 states and lived through the first 10 US Presidencies!
There are thousands of "Price Thompson's" in old cemeteries across the US whose story is buried along with them. Remember their sacrifices and their stories, especially on Veterans Day.

other sources:
Battles of the American War of Independence - interesting site from the British perspective
Price Thompson at FindAGrave
Pension and land warrant information on Price Thompson
General info on Revolutionary War Pensions

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Battle of the Pumpkin Fields

Little Turtle overlooking the Ohio
Today marks the anniversary of the end of a failed US campaign against Indians in the Northwest Territory. The goal was, as usual, to destroy villages and demoralize the Native Americans in the area to make way for white settlement. You may be thinking it was the infamous St Clair's Defeat but there was one before that. On this date October 22nd 1790 a final battle in Harmar's Campaign occurred in present day Fort Wayne Indiana. Referred to as Harmars Defeat by Americans, the Miami called it the Battle of the Pumpkin Fields. This was due to the steam rising off all the scalped skulls left on the riverbank. It reminded them of squash steaming in the autumn air. Just in time for Halloween.


General Josiah Harmar, commander of the U.S. army in the Northwest Territory, lost half of his 360 man force. Harmar was court-martialed for incompetence and acquitted. Indian casualty estimates vary from 40 to less than 200 out of 1000 men. There is no doubt this was a large Indian force but it is well known that when a US commander saw one Indian, he saw ten. In other words the military liked to inflate the numbers of the enemy to look better. By November 3rd 1790, the remaining Americans, some never firing a shot, fell back to Fort Washington in Cincinnati.  Up until then this was the worst defeat by the US against the Indians. Lucky for Harmar, St. Clair's overwhelming loss one year later in Ohio eclipsed this military blunder. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me...The US would eventually rethink their tactics of frontier warfare. Several years later The Battle of Fallen Timbers would more or less drive Indians from the area.

sources:
-Saving Private Boone
-Lane Library - Butler County Place Names 
-Ohio History Central  - Harmar's Defeat
-Journal of the Indian Wars Volume 1, Number 2

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Life of Reily - The Deneen Family Pioneers

Father (background) and Son
It's a real thrill finding these old cemeteries when I geocache. There always seems to be a history lesson waiting to be uncovered. On a beautiful March day in 2012 I found a marker at Bunker Hill Pioneer Cemetery in Reily Township OH that caught my attention.
It was for Samuel Deneen, a Private in the War of 1812. I noticed that his his father James Deneen, who fought in the Revolutionary War as a Private (Hunterdon Co NJ Militia), and several other Deneen's were nearby.

I wasn't able to find much more about younger Pvt Deneen's unit, Samuel Ashton's Co. of Ohio Militia but I did find an online roster. It confirms Sam Deneen served from February - August 1814. He is listed along with his brother Corp. Elijah Deneen (also buried here) and Private John M. Deneen another brother.
I also attempted to cross reference their service with known War of 1812 battles but I wasn't able to come up with anything solid. By 1814 most of the American Northwest land battles were occurring around Lake Erie on the Canadian side. Based on what I've seen they didn't keep or retain good militia service records from this period. These Deneens all survived the war and ended up here to start new lives in Reily Township.

This property was once all owned by the Deneen Family who I found were Huguenots that first fled religious persecution in France in the late 17th century. They later settled in Northern Ireland, eventually emigrating to the US in the early 18th century. They were one of the first pioneer families to settle in Butler County OH, The area around the cemetery is now Pater Wildlife Area.
In further research of the Deneen Family I found some other interesting but tragic history unrelated to their military service. Samuel had another brother named Alexander who also lived on this land. In 1826 while building a house he threw a wood plank out of the 2nd story which accidentally landed on their 2 year old daughter Mary and killed her instantly. Alexander became so distraught he never finished the house and eventually moved, selling the one acre cemetery to the local Universalist Church. Mary, along with Alexander are buried in nearby Springdale Cemetery.

sources: 
-James Deneen at Waymarking.com
-Deneen Family Document at Ancestry.com
-Ohio Genealogy Express
-FindAGrave.com
-Butler County MetroParks