Monday, July 29, 2013

NCH, the city formerly known as Clovernook (Part 1 of 2)

Part One of my two-part series on North College Hill OH history...

I don’t actually live in Cincinnati. I live in an older one square mile suburb directly to the north of Cincinnati called North College Hill or NCH for short.

There is a bit of 18th and early 19th Century history in NCH that seems unlikely at first glance...and most of it very well hidden and mostly only mentioned in old obscure books or an out of the way sign.

NCH wasn't even incorporated as a city until 1916, no significant body of water, creek or river runs through it which was a preferable amenity to have in those days before there were roads or plumbing. So what existed in this area that made a community grow up around it? If you go back to the beginning, it was a centuries-old buffalo trail that was later used by the local pre-Columbian Indians. It was easier to use these well worn traveled paths rather than clear new ones. So, in the 18th century, the US Army followed that tradition and used this same trail as a military road up from Cincinnati's Fort Washington through present day NCH to Fort Hamilton and up past Greenville OH to carry supplies, soldiers, build forts and supporting posts as the US expanded into hostile territory. Most people now know this old road as Hamilton Avenue or Route 127

Keen’s Station, 1791 was located in present-day NCH and was one the 40 or so fortified settlements that peppered the Cincinnati area in that time period. It has no sign or marker and no one knows specifically where it was located but a lot can be deduced from various sources and records.

I first learned about Keen's Station in a book called "Stockades in the Wilderness" by Richard Scamyhorn which only stated that this station was located in NCH with no further info given. These stations were not meant to be permanent and were typically torn down and the wood re-used when the area was deemed safe for the settlers. Since there is hardly a mention of this station anywhere in any other historical documents it is assumed that it was never attacked and was only here for a very brief time. Even so, it's very existence makes it noteworthy since this is the first record of any European-American living here.
This station was built by an early pioneer named Captain Peter Keen born in 1761. The Keen family had arrived from New Jersey in the late 1770's. According to a College Hill Historical Society publication, this station was located somewhere near the intersection of  Hamilton and Galbraith Avenues.
Peter Keen and his wife Jemima Gard were married in 1781 by none other than Judge John Cleves Symmes himself, had a daughter Angeline, who is reported to have been the first recorded white child born between the Miami Rivers.
After Keen moved on to Illinois, this section of land was passed around many times until Ephriam Brown acquired it and sold half in 1804 to Peter LaBoiteaux. This land would have been in the vicinity of the present NCH High School at Hamilton and Galbraith, close to the old cemetery that bears Laboiteaux's name. 

Peter Laboiteaux (1737-1813)
Laboiteaux-Cary Cemetery, est. 1805, sits at the corner of Galbraith and Hamilton Avenues and was originally a burial plot for the Laboiteaux family. Peter LaBoiteaux, a Revolutionary War Veteran is buried here. He laid out the town of Mt. Healthy, OH in 1804 one mile north of this location.
In 1813, William Cary purchased most of what is now College Hill to the south. Later that year his nephew Robert Cary laid-out a community called Clovernook, which became North College Hill.
There are many members of these pioneer families buried here including many Carys, Laboiteaux's and at least two other Revolutionary War veterans, Henry Deats and James Kenniston. Also resting here are John and Jemina Runyan, who lived in the nearby Dunlap Station during it's significant and well-documented attack by the Shawnee Chief Blue Jacket and "white renegade" Simon Girty in 1791. I'll have a nice write-up on that important event soon! Jemina was the daughter of Peter Laboiteaux. The last burial in this cemetery was in 1860 and was a bit larger back in those days. When Hamilton Ave was widened in the 20th century, some of the graves were moved to Spring Grove Cemetery. Recently, a nice stone facade was added to the concrete retaining wall that faces the intersection which makes this well-kept pioneer cemetery appear even nicer.

Continue to Part Two...