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Mercer County was formed from old Indian Territory April 1, 1820.  The land is one great flat plain, and while in the forest state wet, when cleared and drained is very fertile and well adapted to grass, small grain and Indian corn, which is its great production.  Area about 470 square miles.  In 1887 the acres cultivated were 140,633; in pasture, 12,023; woodland, 73,384; lying waste, 4,154; produced in wheat, 364,235 bushels; rye, 2,733; buckwheat, 667; oats, 632,537; barley, 12,881; corn, 1,287,610; meadow hay, 15,343 tons; clover hay, 8,334; flaxseed, 726 bushels; potatoes, 51,636; tobacco, 1,000 lbs.; butter, 415,750; cheese, 150; sorghum, 14,110 gallons; maple syrup, 121; honey 4,806 lbs;  eggs 634,737 dozen; grapes, 8,300 lbs.; wine, 1,387 gallons; sweet potatoes, 42 bushels; apples, 14,558; peaches, 20; pears, 145; wool, 29,184 lbs.; milch cows owned, 6,931.—Ohio State Report, 1888.


School census, 1888, 9,269; teachers, 183.  Miles of railroad track, 86.




And Census




And Census



Black Creek,

































St. Mary’s
























Population of Mercer in 1830, 1,737; 1840, 8,277; 1860, 14,104; 1880, 21,808, of whom 17,882 were born in Ohio; 586, Indiana; 451, Pennsylvania; 154, Virginia; 93, Kentucky; 87, New York; 1,733, German Empire; 105, Ireland; 62, France; 42, England and Wales; 27, British America, and 19 in Scotland.  Census, 1890, 27,220.



This county was named from General Hugh Mercer, who fell at the battle of Princeton, fought January 3, 1777.  He was born in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland, about the year 1720; he was educated there at the University; he held the position of assistant surgeon in the army of Prince Charles Edward in the year 1745; in 1747 settled near what is now Mercersburg, Pa.; was wounded in Braddock’s expedition; at the outbreak of the Revolution was practising medicine at Fredericksburg, Va.; in 1776, by request of Washington, was made brigadier-general; led the column of attack at Trenton; while rallying his men at Princeton was felled by a




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blow from a musket, and, refusing to surrender, was bayonetted five times, and died some days afterwards in great agony.  His funeral in the city of Philadelphia was attended by 30,000 people.  Congress provided for the education of his youngest son, and the St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia reared to his memory a monument on Laurel Hill.


St. Clair’s Defeat.


This county has been the theatre of a most important event in the early history of the West—St. Clair’s defeat.  It took place on the southwest corner of the county, within two or three miles of the Indiana line.


The great object of St. Clair’s campaign was to establish a military post at the Miami village, at the junction of the St. Mary and St. Joseph, at what is now Fort Wayne, Ind., with intermediate posts of communication between it and Fort Washington, to awe and curb the Indians in that quarter, as the only preventive of future hostilities.


Acting under his instructions, St. Clair proceeded to organize his army.  At the close of April (1791) he was at Pittsburg, to which point troops and munitions of war were being forwarded.  On the 15th of May he reached Fort Washington, but owing to various hindrances, among which was the mismanagement of the quartermaster’s department, the troops, instead of being in readiness to start upon the expedition by the 1st of August, as was anticipated, were not prepared until many weeks later.  From Fort Washington the troops were advanced to Ludlow’s station, six miles distant.  Here the army continued until September 17th, when, being 2,300 strong, exclusive of militia, they moved forward to a point upon the Great Miami, where they built Fort Hamilton.  From thence they moved forty-four miles farther, and built Fort Jefferson, which they left on the 24th of October, and began their toilsome march through the wilderness.  We copy below from the notes of Judge Burnet:


During this time a body of the militia, amounting to 300, deserted and returned to their homes.  The supplies for the army being still in the rear, and the general entertaining fears that the deserters might meet and seize them for their own use, determined, very reluctantly, to send back the first regiment for the double purpose of bringing up the provisions and, if possible, or overtaking and arresting some of the deserters.


Having made that arrangement, the army resumed its march, and, on the 3d of November, arrived at a creek running to the southwest, which was supposed to be the St. Mary’s, one of the principal branches of the Maumee, but was afterwards ascertained to be a branch of the Wabash.  It being then late in the afternoon, and the army much fatigued by a laborious march, they were encamped on a commanding piece of ground, having the creek in front.


It was the intention of the general to occupy that position till the first regiment, with the provisions, should come up.  He proposed on the next day to commence a work of defence, agreeably to a plan concerted between himself and Major Ferguson, but he was not permitted to do either; for, on the next morning, November 4th, half an hour before sunrise, the men having been just dismissed from parade, an attack was made on the militia posted in front, who gave way and rushed back into camp, throwing the army into a state of disorder, from which it could not be recovered, as the Indians followed close at their heels.  They were, however, checked a short time by the fire of the first line, but immediately a very heavy fire was commenced on that line, and in a few minutes it was extended to the second.


In each case the great weight of the fire was directed to the centre, where the artillery was placed, from which the men were frequently driven with great slaughter.  In that emergency resort was had to the bayonet.  Colonel Darke was ordered to make the charge with a part of the second line, which order was executed with great spirit.  The Indians instantly gave way, and were driven back several hundred yards, but for want of a sufficient number of riflemen to preserve the advantage gained, the enemy soon renewed their attack, and the American troops in turn were forced to give way.


At that instant the Indians entered the American camp on the left, having forced back the troops stationed at that point.  Another charge was then ordered and made by the battalions of Majors Butler and Clark with great success.  Several other charges were afterwards made, and always with equal effect.  These attacks, however, were attended with a heavy lost of men, and particularly of officers.  In the charge made by the second regiment Major Butler was dangerously wounded, and every officer of that regiment


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fell, except three, one of whom was shot through the body.  The artillery being silenced, and all the officers belonging to it killed, but Captain Ford, who was dangerously wounded, and half the army having fallen, it became necessary to gain the road, if possible, and make a retreat.


For that purpose a successful charge was made on the enemy, as if to turn their right flank, but in reality to gain the road, which was effected.  The militia then commenced a retreat, followed by the United States troops, Major Clark with his battalion covering the rear.  The retreat, as might be expected, soon became a flight.  The camp was abandoned, and so was the artillery, for the want of horses to remove it.  The men threw away their arms and accoutrements, even after the pursuit had ceased, which was not continued for more than four miles.  The road was almost covered with these articles for a great distance.


All the horses of the general were killed and he was mounted on a broken-down pack-horse that could scarcely be forced out of a walk.  It was, therefore, impossible for him to get forward in person, to command a halt, till regularity could be restored, and the orders which he dispatched by others for that purpose where wholly unattended to.  The rout continued to Fort Jefferson, where they arrived about dark, twenty-seven miles from the battle-ground.  The retreat began at half-past nine in the morning, and as the battle commenced half an hour before sunrise, it mush have lasted three hours, during which time, with only one exception, the troops behaved with great bravery.  This fact accounts for the immense slaughter which took place.


Among the killed were Major-General Butler, Colonel Oldham, Major Ferguson, Major Hart and Major Clark.  Among the wounded were Colonel Sargeant, the adjutant-general, Colonel Darke, Colonel Gibson, Major Butler and Viscount Malartie, who served in the character of an aid.  In addition to these, the list of officers killed contained the names of Captains Bradford, Phelon, Kirkwood, Price, Van Swearingen, Tipton, Purdy, Smith, Piatt, Gaither, Crebbs and Newman; Lieutenants Spear, Warren, Boyd, McMath, Burgess, Kelson, Read, Little, Hopper and Lickings; also, Ensigns Cobb, Baleh, Chase, Turner, Wilson, Brooks, Beatty and Purdy; also, Quartermasters Reynolds and Ward, Adjt. Anderson and Doc. Grasson.  And in addition to the wounded officers whose names are mentioned above the official list contains the names of Captains Doyle, Truman, Ford, Buchanan, Darke, and Hough; also of Lieutenants Greaton, Davidson, DeButts, Price, Morgan, McCrea, Lysle and Thompson; also Adjutants Whistler and Crawford, and Ensign Bines.


The melancholy result of that disastrous day was felt and lamented by all who had sympathy for private distress or public misfortune.


The only charge alleged by the general against his army was want of discipline, which they could not have acquired during the short time they had been in the service.  That defect rendered it impossible, when they were thrown into confusion to restore them again to order, and is the chief reason why the loss fell so heavily on the officers.  They were compelled to expose themselves in an unusual degree in their efforts to rally the men and remedy the want of discipline.  In that duty the general set the example, though worn down by sickness and suffering under a painful disease.  It was alleged by the officers that the Indians far outnumbered the American troops.  That conclusion was drawn, in part, from the fact that they outflanked and attacked the American lines with great force, at the same time, on every side.


When the fugitives arrived at Fort Jefferson, they found the first regiment, which was just returning from the service on which it had been sent, without either overtaking the deserters or meeting the convoy of provision.  The absence of that regiment at the time of the battle was believed by some to be the cause of the defeat.  They supposed that had it been present the Indians would have been defeated, or would not have ventured an attack at the time they made it; but General St. Clair expressed great doubt on that subject.  He seemed to think it uncertain, judging from the superior number of the enemy, whether he ought to consider the absence of that corps from the field of action as fortunate or otherwise.  On the whole, he seemed to think it fortunate, as he very much doubted whether, if it had been in the action, the fortune of the day would have been changed; and if it had not, the triumph of the enemy would have been more complete, and the country would have been left destitute of the means of defence.


As soon as the troops reached Fort Jefferson, it became a question whether they ought to continue at that place of return to Fort Washington.  For the purpose of determining that question, the general called on the surviving field officers, to wit: Col. Darke, Major Hamtramck, Maj. Zeigler, and Maj. Gaither, and also the Adjutant-General, Col. Sargeant, for their advice, as to what would be the proper course to be pursued under existing circumstances.  After discussing the subject they reported it to be their unanimous opinion, that the troops could not be accommodated in the fort; that they could not be supplied with provisions at that place; and as it was known that there were provision on the road, at the distance of one or two marches, it would be proper, without loss of time, to proceed and meet them.  That advice was adopted, and the army put in motion at ten o’clock and marched all night.  On the succeeding day they met a quantity of flour, and on the day after a drove of cattle, which having been disposed of as the wants of the troops required, the march was continued to Fort Washington.


The loss sustained by the country from the fall of so many gallant officers and men was most seriously regretted.  Gen. Butler and


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Maj. Ferguson were spoken of with peculiar interest.  The public feeling was, however, in some measure alleviated by the fact that those brave men, officers and privates, fell covered with honor, in defending the cause of their country.


The principal complaint made by the commander-in-chief was, that some of his orders, of great consequence, given to Col. Oldham over night, were not executed; and that some very material intelligence, communicated by Capt. Hough to Gen. Butler, in the course of the night before the action, was not imparted to him; and that he did not hear of it till his arrival at Fort Washington.


It is important to the fame of the commanding general that in consequence of the almost treasonable negligence of the agents of the government, whose duty it was to furnish supplies, the army had been for many days on short allowance, and were so at the time of the battle.  That fact had made it indispensably necessary either to retreat or send back the first regiment, which was the flower of the army, to bring up the provisions and military stores.  The latter alternative was chosen, and in the absence of that corps the attack was made.


In regard to the negligence charged on the War Department, it is a well-authenticated fact, that boxes and packages were so carelessly put up and marked, that during the action a box was opened marked “flints,” which was found to contain gun-locks.  Several mistakes of the same character were discovered as for example, a keg of powder marked “for the infantry” was found to be damaged canon-powder, that could scarcely be ignited.


Under all these disadvantages it was generally believed by candid, intelligent men that the commanding general was not justly liable to much censure, if any.  With one exception, at the commencement of the action, the troops behaved with great bravery.  They maintained their ground for three tedious hours, in one uninterrupted conflict with a superior force; nor did they attempt to leave the field till it was covered with the bodies of their companions, not until further efforts were unavailing and a retreat was ordered.


The general, less anxious for himself than for others, was the last to leave the ground after the retreat had been ordered.  For some time after the disaster he was universally censured, but when a thorough investigation had been made by a committee of Congress, of which Mr. Giles, of Virginia, was the chairman, it was found that the campaign had been conducted with skill and personal bravery; and that the defeat was chiefly owing to the want of discipline in the militia, and to the negligence of those whose duty it was to procure and forward the provisions and military stores necessary for the expedition.


After the publication of that report, the Secretary of War, believing himself to be injured, addressed a letter to Congress, complaining that injustice had been done him by the committee; in consequence of which the report was recommitted to the same committee, who, after hearing the statements and explanations of the Secretary and reconsidering the whole matter, reaffirmed their first report.


This defeat of St. Clair drew upon his head, from one part of the country to the other “one loud and merciless outcry of abuse and even detestation.”  Many a general, with far less bravery and military skill, has, when successful, been applauded by the unthinking multitude with vehement acclamations.  The following, derived from the narrative of his campaign, shows that he deserved a better fate:


During the engagement Gen. St. Clair and Gen. Butler were continually going up and down the lines; as one went up one, the other went down the opposite.  St. Clair was so severely afflicted with the gout as to be unable to mount or dismount a horse without assistance.  He had four horses for his use; they had been turned out to feed over night and were brought in before the action.  The first he attempted to mount was a young horse, and the firing alarmed him so much that he was unable to accomplish it, although there were three or four people assisting him.  He had just moved him to a place where he could have some advantage of the ground, when the horse was shot through the head, and the boy holding him through the arm.  A second horse was brought and the furniture of the first disengaged and put on him; but at the moment it was done the horse and servant who held him were killed.  The general ordered the third horse to be got ready and follow him to the left of the front line, which by that time was warmly engaged, and set off on foot to the point designated.  However, the man and horse were never heard of afterward, and were supposed to have both been killed.  Gen. St. Clair’s fourth horse was killed under the Count de Malartie, one of his aids, whose horse had died on the march.


On the day of the battle St. Clair was not in his uniform, he wore a coarse cappo coat and a three-cornered hat.  He had a long queue and large locks, very gray, flowing beneath his beaver.  Early in the action, when near the artillery, a ball grazed the side of his face and cut off a portion of one of his locks.  It is said that during the action eight balls passed through his clothes and hat.  After.


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his horses were killed he exerted himself on foot for a considerable time during the action with a degree of alertness that surprised everybody who saw him.  After being on foot some time, and when nearly exhausted, a pack horse was brought to him.  This he rode during the remainder of the day, although he could scarcely prick him out of a walk.  Had he not been furnished with a horse, although unhurt, he must have remained on the field.


During the action Gen. St. Clair exerted himself with courage and presence of mind worthy of the best fortune.  He was personally present at the first charge made upon the enemy with the bayonet and gave the order to Col. Darke.  When the enemy first entered the camp by the left flank, he led the troops that drove them back, and when a retreat became indispensable, he put himself at the head of the troops which broke through the enemy and opened the way for the rest and then remained in the rear, making every exertion in his power to obtain a party to cover the retreat; but the panic was so great that his exertions were of but little avail.  In the height of the action a few of the men crowded around the fires in the centre of the camp.  St. Clair was seen drawing his pistols and threatening some of them, and ordering them to turn out and repel the enemy.


Fowler’s Story of the Battle.


In commenting upon his honorable acquittal of all blame by the committee of Congress appointed to inquire into the causes of the failure of the expedition, Judge Marshall, in his Life of Washington, remarks, with his usual felicity of manner, “More satisfactory testimony in favor of St. Clair is furnished by the circumstance that he still retained the undiminished esteem and good opinion of President Washington.”


To the foregoing description of the battle we extracted from the narrative of Major Jacob Fowler, now (1846) living in Covington, Ky., his own personal experience in the events of that fatal day.  Mr. Cist, in his Advertiser, in which it was published, says: “There was hardly a battle fought in the early struggles with the Indians in which Mr. Fowler did not participate.  He is now (July, 1844) at the age of eighty—his eye has not waxed dim, nor his natural force abated.  He can still pick off a squirrel with his rifle at one hundred yards distance.  He can walk as firmly and as fast as most men at fifty, and I cannot perceive a gray hair in his head.  His mind and memory are as vigorous as his physical functions.”


Excepting in a single instance, St. Clair kept out no scouting parties during his march, and we should have been completely surprised by the attack when it was made, if it had not been that volunteer scouting parties from the militia were out on the evening before and the constant discharge of rifles throughout the night warned us to prepare for the event.  The militia were encamped about a quarter of a mile in front of the residue of the army, so as to receive, as they did, the first shock of the attack, which was made a little after daybreak.  The camp was on the bank of a small creek, one of the heads of the Wabash river, the ground nearly level and covered with a heavy growth of timber.  As surveyor, I drew the pay and rations of a subaltern, but, as an old hunter, was not disposed to trust myself among the Indians without my rifle.  Indeed, I found it very serviceable during the march, the army being upon not more than half rations the whole campaign.


My stock of bullets becoming pretty low from hunting, as soon as it was daylight that morning I started for the militia camp to get a ladle for running some more, when I found that the battle had begun, and met the militia running in to the main body of troops.  I hailed one of the Kentuckians, who I found had been disabled in the right wrist by a bullet, asking him if he had balls to spare.  He told me to take out his pouch and divide with him.  I poured out a double handful and put back what I supposed way the half, and was about to leave him, when he said, “Stop, you had better count them.”  It was no time for laughing, but I could hardly resist the impulse to laugh, the idea was so ludicrous of counting a handful of bullets when they were about to be so plenty as to be had for the picking up by those who should be lucky enough to escape with their lives.  “If we get through this day’s scrape, my dear fellow,” said I, “I will return to you twice as many.”  But I never saw him again, and suppose he shared the fate that befell many a gallant spirit on that day.  I owe the bullets, at any rate, at this moment.


On returning to the lines I found the engagement begun.  One of Capt. Piatt’s men lay near the spot I had left, shot through the belly.  I saw an Indian behind a small tree, not twenty steps off, just outside the regular lines.  He was loading his piece, squatting down as much as possible to screen himself.  I drew sigh at his butt and shot him through; he dropped, and as soon as I


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had fired I retreated into our lines to reload my rifle.  Finding the fire had really ceased at this point, I ran to the rear line, where I met Col. Darke leading his men to a charge.  These were of the six months levies.  I followed with my rifle.  The Indians were driven by this movement clear out of sight, and the colonel called a halt and rallied his men, who were about three hundred in number.  As an experienced woodsman and hunter, I claimed the privilege of suggesting to the colonel that were we then stood—there being a pile of trees blown out of root—would form an excellent breastwork, being of length sufficient to protect the whole force, and that we might yet need it; I judged by the shouting and firing that the Indians behind us had closed up the gap we had made in charging, and told the colonel so.  “Now, if we return and charge on these Indians on our rear, we shall have them with their backs on us, and will no doubt be able to give a good account of them.”


“Lead the way, then,” said he, and rode to the rear to march the whole body forward.  We then charged on the Indians, but they were so thick we could do nothing with them.  In a few minutes they were around us and we found ourselves alongside of the army baggage and the artillery, which they had been taking possession of.  I then took a tree and after firing twelve or fourteen times, two or three rods being my farthest shot, I discovered that many of those I had struck were not brought down, as I had not sufficient experience to know I must shoot them in the hip to bring them down.  As to the regulars, with their muskets, and in their unprotected state, it was little better than firing at random.


By this time there were about thirty men of Col. Darke’s command left standing, the rest being all shot down and lying around us, either killed or wounded.  I ran to the colonel, who was in the thickest of it, waving his sword to encourage his men, and told him we should all be down in five minutes more if we did not charge on them.  “Charge, then!” said he to the little line that remained, and they did so.  Fortunately, the army had charged on the other side at the same time, which put the Indians, for the moment, to flight.  I had been partially sheltered by a small tree, but a couple of Indians, who had taken a larger one, both fired at me once, and felling the steam of their guns at my belly, I supposed myself cut to pieces.  But no harm had been done, and I brought my piece to my side and fired, without aiming at the one that stood his ground, the fellow being so close to me that I could hardly miss him.  I shot him through the hips, and while he was crawling way on all fours Col. Darke, who had dismounted and stood close by me, made at him with his sword and struck his head off.  By this time the cock of my riflelock had worn loose and gave me much trouble; meeting with an acquaintance from Cincinnati, named McClure, who had no gun of his own, but picked up one from a militia man, I told him my difficulty.  “There is a first-rate rifle,” said he, pointing to one at a distance.  I ran and got it, having ascertained that my bullets would fit it.


Here I met Captain J. S. Gano, who was unarmed, and handing to him the rifle I went into battle with, I observed to him that we were defeated, and would have to make our own escape as speedily as possible; that if we got off, we should need the rifles for subsistence in the woods.  The battle still raged, and at one spot might be seen a party of soldiers gathered together, having nothing to do but present mere marks for the enemy.  They appeared stupefied and bewildered with the danger.  At another spot the soldiers had broken into the marquees of the officers, eating the breakfast from which those had been called into the battle.  It must be remembered that neither officers nor men had eaten anything the whole morning.  Some of the men were shot down in the very act of eating.  Just where I stood there were no Indians visible, although their rifle-balls were striking all around.  At last I saw an Indian break for a tree about forty yards off, behind which he leaded and fired four times, bringing down his man at every fire, and with such quickness as to give me no chance to take sight in the intervals of his firing.  At length I got a range of two inches inside his backbone, and blazed away; down he fell, and I saw no more of him.


A short time after I heard the cry given by St. Clair and his adjutant-sergeant to charge to the road, which was accordingly done.  I ran across the army to where I had left my relative, Captain Piatt, and told him that the army was broken up and in full retreat.  “Don’t say so,” he replied: “you will discourage my men, and I can’t believe it.”  I persisted a short time, when, finding him obstinate, I said, “If you will rush on your fate, in God’s name do it.”  I then ran off towards the rear of the army, which was making off rapidly.


Piatt called after me, saying “Wait for me.”  It was of no use to stop, for by this time the savages were in full chase and hardly twenty yards behind me.  Being uncommonly active in those days, I soon got from the rear to front of the troops, although I had great trouble to avoid the bayonets which the men had thrown off in the retreat, with the sharp points towards their pursuers.


It has been stated that the Indians followed us thirty miles; but this is not true, and my duty as surveyor having led me to mark the miles every day as we proceeded on our march out, it was easy to ascertain how far we were pursued.  The Indians, after every other fire, fell back to lead their rifles, and gained lost time by running on afresh.


Even during the last charge of Colonel Darke, the bodies of the dead and dying were around us, and the freshly-scalped heads were reeking with smoke, and in the heavy morning frost looked like so many pumpkins through a cornfield in December.  It was on the 4th of November, and the day was severely cold for the season.  My fingers became so


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benumbed at times that I had to take the bullets in my mouth and load from it, while I had the wiping-stick in my hand to force them down.




References.—A. High ground, on which the militia were encamped at the commencement of the action.  B. C. Encampment of the main army.  D. Retreat of the militia at the beginning of the battle.  E. St. Clair’s trace, on which the defeated army retreated.  F. Place where General Butler and other officers were buried.  G. Trail to Girty’s Town, on the river St. Mary’s, at what is now the village of St. Mary’s.  H. Site of Fort Recovery, built by Wayne; the line of Darke and Mercer runs within a few rods of the site of the fort.  I. Place where a brass cannon was found buried in 1830; it is on the bottom where the Indians were three times driven to the highland with the bayonet.


McDowell’s Story.


The map of the battle-ground is from the survey of Mr. John S. Houston, of Celina.  The localities* were pointed out to him by Mr. McDowell, who was in the action, and is now living near Recovery.  In a letter dated Celina, March 20, 1847, Mr. Houston gives me some notes of a conversation with Mr. McDowell:


Mr. McDowell states that on the morning of the battle he and several others had just gone out to look after and guard their horses, when suddenly they heard the most hideous yells from the opposite side of the river, with discharges of musketry.  He instantly rushed to camp, found his regiment preparing for action, joined them, and was with the party who so gallantly charged the enemy in the bottom.  On the retreat he was among those who defended the rear, and kept the enemy in check for several miles.  The ground was covered with a slushy snow, which much retarded their progress; and, after a while, many of them were so dispirited and hungry—having eaten no breakfast—that they threw down their arms and made the best of their way, pell-mell, among the retreating crowd.  About this time, Mr. McDowell saw a female carrying her infant, a year old.  She was so tired that she was about to fall by the wayside, when he took the child and carried it



*The reference A. and D were not on the map; neither was the high ground on the east side of the river, which we have placed on it from personal recollection.—H. H.



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some distance.  Afterwards, to save her own life, the woman threw away the child in the snow.  The Indians took it up, carried it to the Sandusky towns, and raised it.*  Soon after this McDowell overtook a youth, some eighteen years old, wounded in the leg, hobbling along, and dispirited.  He gave him a drink of spirits and a little bread (he himself had not had time to eat), which refreshed and encouraged him.  Soon after a pony came dashing by.  This McDowell caught, and mounting the youth upon it, he safely reached the fort.


At Stillwater creek, twelve miles from the battle-ground, the Indians, who were no longer numerous, left them and returned to share their booty.  “Oh!” said an old squaw who died many years ago on the St. Mary’s, “my arm that night was weary scalping white man.”


Some years ago—said the old man to me—and here his cheeks were moistened with tears—I was traveling in Kentucky to visit a sister I had not seen in many years, when I arrived at Georgetown, and entered my name on the ledger with the place of my residence—Recovery, O.


After I had been sitting some time at ease before a comfortable fire, a gentleman who had noticed the entry of my name and residence, opened a friendly conversation about the place and country.  He soon remarked that he was at the defeat of St. Clair, and that if it had not been for the assistance of a young man of Butler’s regiment, he would have been there yet.


After a few more questions and replies both parties recognized each other.  The gentleman was the youth who had been shot, on the retreat, and whose life—as previously stated—was saved by the interposition of McDowell.  At this discovery their surprise and consequent mutual attachment may be imagined.  The gentleman insisted upon taking him to his house and introducing him to his wife and daughters.  He had become wealthy by merchandising, and on parting with McDowell, gave him a new suit of clothes and other presents, which he has carefully preserved to this day.


Heroism and Agility of Kennan.


McClung, in his “Sketches of Western Adventure,” relates some anecdotes, showing the heroism and activity of a young man who was in this action:


The late William Kennan, of Fleming county, at that time a young man of eighteen, was attached to the corps of rangers who accompanied the regular force.  He had long been remarkable for strength and activity.  In the course of the march from Fort Washington he had repeated opportunities of testing his astonishing powers in that respect, and was universally admitted to be the swiftest runner of the light corps.  On the evening preceding the action his corps had been advanced, as already observed, a few hundred yards in front of the first line of infantry, in order to give seasonable notice of the enemy’s approach.  Just as day was dawning he observed about thirty Indians within100 yards of the guards’ fire, advancing cautiously toward the spot where he stood, together with about twenty rangers, the rest being considerably in the rear.


Supposing it to be a mere scouting party, as usual, and not superior in number to the rangers, he sprang forward a few paces in order to shelter himself in a spot of peculiarly rank grass, and firing with a quick aim upon the foremost Indian, he instantly fell flat upon his face, and proceeded with all possible rapidity to reload his gun, not doubting for a moment but that the rangers would maintain their position and support him.  The Indians, however, rushed forward in such overwhelming masses that the rangers were compelled to fly with precipitation, leaving young Kennan in total ignorance of his danger.  Fortunately the captain of this company had observed him when he threw himself into the grass, and suddenly shouted aloud, “Run, Kennan! or you are a dead man!”  He instantly sprang to his feet and beheld Indians within ten feet of him, while his company was already more than 100 yards in front.


Not a moment was to be lost.  He darted off with every muscle strained to its utmost, and was pursued by a dozen of the enemy with loud yells.  He at first pressed straight forward to the usual fording-place in the creek, which ran between the rangers and the main army; but several Indians who had passed him before he rose from the grass cut him off from the rest.  By the most powerful exertions he had thrown the whole body of pursuers behind him, with the exception of one chief (probably Messhawa), who displayed a swiftness and perseverance equal to his own.  In the circuit which Kennan was obliged to take the race continued for more than 400 yards.  The distance between them was about eighteen feet, which Kennan could not increase nor his adversary diminish.  Each for the time put his whole soul into the race.


Kennan, as far as he was able, kept his eye upon the motions of his pursuer, lest he should throw the tomahawk, which he held aloft in a menacing attitude, and at length, finding that no other Indian was immediately at hand, he determined to try to mettle of



* It is stated in some accounts that about fifty, and in other, that nearly 200 women were killed in the action and fight.—H. H.



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his pursuer in a different manner, and felt for his tomahawk in order to turn at bay.  It had escaped from its sheath, however, while he lay in the grass, and his hair had almost lifted the cap from his head when he saw himself totally disarmed.  As he had slackened his pace for a moment the Indian was almost in reach of him when he commenced the race; but the idea of being without arms lent wings to his feet, and, for the first time, he was himself gaining ground.  He had watched the motions of his pursuer too closely, however, to pay proper attention to the nature of the ground before him, and he suddenly found himself in front of a large tree which had been blown down, and upon which brush and other impediments lay to the height of eight or nine feet.


The Indian (who heretofore had not uttered the slightest sound) now gave a short, quick yell, as if secure of his victim.  Kennan had not a moment to deliberate.  He must clear the impediment at a leap of perish.  Putting his whole soul into the effort, he bounded into the air with a power which astonished himself, and clearing limbs, brush and everything else, alighted imperfect safety upon the other side.  A loud yell of astonishment burst from the band of pursuers, not one of whom had the hardihood to attempt the same feat.  Kennan, as may be readily imagined, had no leisure to enjoy his triumph, but dashing into the bed of the creek (upon the banks of which his feat had been performed), where the high banks would shield him from the fire of the enemy, he ran up the stream until a convenient place offered for crossing, and rejoined the rangers in the rear of the encampment, panting from the fatigue of exertions which have seldom been surpassed.  No breathing time was allowed him, however.  The attack instantly commenced, and, as we have already observed, was maintained for three hours with unabated fury.


When the retreat commenced, Kennan was attached to Maj. Clarke’s battalion, and had the dangerous service of protecting the rear.  This corps quickly lost its commander, and was completely disorganized.  Kennan was among the hindmost when the fight commenced, but exerting those same powers which had saved him in the morning, he quickly gained the front, passing several horsemen in flight.  Here he beheld a private in his own company, and intimate acquaintance, lying upon the ground with his thigh broken, and in tones of the most piercing distress, implored each horseman who hurried by to take him up behind him.  As soon as he beheld Kennan coming up on food, he stretched out his arms and called aloud upon him to save him.  Notwithstanding the imminent peril of the moment, he friend could not reject so passionate an appeal, but seizing him in his arms he placed him upon his back and ran in that manner for several hundred yards.  Horseman after horseman passed them, all of whom refused to relieve him of his burden.


At length the enemy was gaining upon him so fast that Kennan saw their death certain unless he relinquished his burden.  He accordingly told his friend that he had used every possible exertion to save his life, but in vain; that he must relax his hold around his neck or they would both perish.  The unhappy wretch, heedless of every remonstrance, still clung convulsively to his back, and impeded his exertions until the foremost of the enemy (armed with tomahawks alone) were within twenty yards of them.  Kennan then drew his knife from its sheath and cut the fingers of his companion, thus compelling him to relinquish his hold.  The unhappy man rolled upon the ground in utter helplessness, and Kennan beheld him tomahawked before he had gone thirty yards.  Relieved from his burden, he darted forward with an activity which once more brought him to the van.  Here again he was compelled to neglect his own safety in order to attend to that others. 


The late Governor Madison, of Kentucky, who afterwards commanded the corps which defended themselves so honorably at Raisin, a man who united the most amiable temper to the most unconquerable courage, was at that time a subaltern in St. Clair’s army, and being a man of infirm constitution, was totally exhausted by the exertions of the morning and was now sitting down calmly upon a log, awaiting the approach of his enemies.  Kennan hastily accosted him and inquired the cause of his delay.  Madison, pointing to a wound which had bled profusely, replied that he was unable to walk any further, and had no horse.  Kennan instantly ran back to a spot where he had seen an exhausted horse grazing, caught him without difficulty, and having assisted Madison to mount, walked by his side until they were out of danger.  Fortunately, the pursuit soon ceased, as the plunder of the camp presented irresistible attractions to the enemy.  The friendship thus formed between these two young men endured without interruption through life.  Mr. Kennan never entirely recovered from the immense exertions which he was compelled to make during this unfortunate expedition.  He settled in Fleming county, and continued for many years a leading member of the Baptist church.  He died in 1827.


The number of Indians engaged in this action can never be ascertained with any degree of certainty.  They have been variously estimated from 1,000 to 3,000.


Col. John Johnston, long an Indian agent in this region, and whose opportunities for forming a correct opinion on this subject are worthy of consideration, in a communication


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to us (1846), says: “The number of Indians at the defeat of St. Clair, must have been large.  At that time game was plenty and any number could be conveniently subsisted.  Wells, one of our interpreters, was there with and fought for the enemy.  To use his own language, he tomahawked and scalped the wounded, dying and dead, until he was unable to raise his arm.  The principal tribes in the battle were the Delawares, Shawanese, Wyandots, Miamies, and Ottawas, with some Chippewas and Putawatimes.  The precise number of the whole I had no accurate means of knowing; it could not be less than 2000.”


The following song is not the best of poetry, but it has frequently been sung with sad emotion, and is worthy of preservation as a relic of olden time:


Saint Claire’s Defeat.


Twas November the fourth, in the year of ninety-one.

We had a sore engagement, near to Fort Jefferson;

Sinclaire was our commander, which may remembered be

            For there we left nine hundred men in t’ West’n Ter’tory.


At Bunker’s Hill and Quebeck, where many a hero fell,

Likewise at Long Island, (it is I the truth can tell,)

But such a dreadful carnage may I never see again

As hap’ned near St. Mary’s, upon the river plain.


Onr army was attacked just as the day did dawn,

And soon were overpowered and driven from the lawn.

They killed Major Ouldham, Levin and Briggs likewise,

And horrid yells of sav’ges resounded through the skies.


Major Butler was wounded in the very second fire;

His manly bosom swell’d with rage when forc’d to retire;

And as he lay in anguish, nor scarcely could he see,

Exclaim’d, “Ye hounds of hell, O! revenged I will be.”


We had not been long broken when General Butler found

Himself so badly wounded, was forced to quit the ground.

“My God!” says he, “what shall we do, we’re wounded every man?

Go charge the, valiant heroes, and beat them if you can.”


He leaned his back against a tree, and there resigned his breath,

And like a valiant soldier sunk in the arms of death;

When blessed angels did await, his spirit to convey;

And unto the celestial field he quickly bent his way.


We charg’d again with courage firm, but soon again gave ground,

The war-whoop then redoubled, as did the foes around.

They killed Major Ferguson, which caused his men to cry,

“Our only safety is in flight, or fighting here to die.”


“Stand to you guns,” says valiant Ford, “let’s die upon them here

Before we let the sav’ges know we ever harbored fear.”

Our cannon-balls exhausted, and artill’ry-men all slain,

Obliged were our musketmen the en’my to sustain.


Yet three hours more we fought them, and then were forc’d to yield,

When three hundred bloody warriors lay stretch’d upon the field.

Says Colonel Gibson to his men, “My boys, be not dismay’d;

I’m sure that true Virginians were never yet afraid.


Ten thousand deaths I’d rather die, than they should gain the field!”

With that he got a fatal shot, which caused him to yield.

Says Major Clark, “My heroes, I can here no longer stand,

We’ll strive to form in order, and retreat the best we can.”


The word, Retreat, being pass’d around, there was a dismal cry,

Then helter-skelter through the woods, like wolves and sheep they fly.

This well-appointed army, who but a day before,

Defied and braved all danger, had like a cloud pass’d o’er.




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Alas! the dying and wounded, how dreadful was the thought,

To the tomahawk and scalping-knife, in mis’ry are brought.

Some had a thigh and some an arm broke on the field that day,

Who writhed in torments at the stake, to close the dire affray.


To mention our brave officers, is what I wish to do;

No sons of Mars e’er fought more brave, or with more courage true.

To Captain Bradford I belonged, in his artillery.

He fell that day amongst the slain; a valiant man was he.



Some time after the defeat of St. Clair, Wilkinson, who had succeeded him in the command of Fort Washington, ordered an expedition to visit the battle-ground.  Capt. Buntin, who was with the party, afterwards addressed a letter to St. Clair, from which we make an extract:


In my opinion, those unfortunate men who fell into the enemy’s hands with life were used with the greatest torture, having their limbs torn off; and the women have been treated with the most indecent cruelty, having stakes as thick as a person’s arm driven through their bodies.  The first I observed when burying the dead; and the latter was discovered by Col. Sargent and Dr. Brown.  We found three whole carriages; the other five were so much damaged that they were rendered useless.  By the general’s orders pits were dug in different places, and all the dead bodies that were exposed to view or could be conveniently found (the snow being very deep) were buried.  During this time there were sundry parties detached, some for our safety and others in examining the course of the creek; and some distance in advance of the ground occupied by the militia, they found a large camp, not less than three-quarters of a mile long, which was supposed to be that of the Indians the night before the action.  We remained on the field that night, and next morning fixed geared horses to the carriages and moved for Fort Jefferson…. As there is little reason to believe that the enemy have carried off the cannon, it is the received opinion that they were either buried or thrown into the creek, and I think the latter the most probable; but as it was frozen over with thick ice, and that covered with a deep snow, it was impossible to make a search with any prospect of success.  In a former part of this letter I have mentioned the camp occupied by the enemy the night before the action; had Col. Oldham been able to have complied with your orders on that evening things at this day might have worn a different aspect.


Mr. McDowell, previously mentioned, was one of those who visited the battleground.


He states that although the bodies were much abused and stripped of all of value they recognized and interred them in four large graves.  Gen. Butler was found in the shattered remains of his tent.  After he was wounded he was borne to the tent, and while two surgeons were dressing his wounds a ball struck one of them in the hip.  At this instant, and Indian, who was determined to have the scalp of Butler, rushed in and while attempting to scalp him, was shot by the dying surgeon.


In December, 1793, Gen. Wayne, having arrived with his army at Greenville, sent forward a detachment to the spot of St. Clair’s defeat.


They arrived on the ground on Christmas day and pitched their tents on the battleground.  When the men went to lie down in their tents at night they had to scrape the bones together and carry them out to make their beds.  The next day holes were dug and the bones remaining above ground were buried, six hundred skulls being found among them.  The flesh was entirely off the bones, and in many cases the sinews yet held them together.  After this melancholy duty was performed a fortification was built and named FORT RECOVERY, in commemoration of its being recovered from the Indians, who had possession of the ground in 1791.  On the completion of the fort one company of artillery and one of riflemen were left, while the rest returned to Greenville.



Attack on Fort Recovery.


The site of St. Clair’s battle became the scene of a sanguinary affair in the summer of 1794, while Wayne’s army was encamped at Greenville, of which Burnet’s Notes give the best description we have seen


Pg. 233


On the 30th of June a very severe and bloody battle was fought under the walls of Fort Recovery between a detachment of American troops, consisting of ninety riflemen and fifty dragoons, commanded by Major McMahon, and a very numerous body of Indians and British, who at the same instant rushed on the detachment, and assailed the fort on every side with great fury.  They were repulsed with a heavy loss, but again rallied and renewed the attack, keeping up a heavy and constant fire during the whole day, which was returned with spirit and effect by the garrison


The succeeding night was foggy and dark and gave the Indians an opportunity of carrying off their dead by torch-light, which occasionally drew a fire from the garrison.  They, however, succeeded so well that there were but eight or ten bodies left on the ground, which were too near the garrison to be approached.  On the next morning, McMahon’s detachment having entered the fort, the enemy renewed the attack and continued it with great desperation during the day, but were ultimately compelled to retreat from the same field on which they had been proudly victorious on the 4th day of November, 1791.


The expectation of the assailants must have been to surprise the post, and carry it by storm, for they could not possibly have received intelligence of the movement of the escort under Major McMahon, which only marched from Greenville on the morning preceding, and on the same evening deposited in Fort Recovery the supplies it had convoyed.  That occurrence could not, therefore, have led to the movement of the savages.


Judging from the extent of their encampment, and their line of march, in seventeen columns, forming a wide and extended front, and from other circumstances, it was believed their numbers could not have been less than from 1,500 to 2,000 warriors.  It was also believed that they were in want of provisions, as they had killed and eaten a number of pack-horses in their encampment the evening after the assault, and also at their encampment on their return, seven miles from Recovery, where they remained two nights, having been much encumbered with their dead and wounded.


From the official return of Major Mills, adjutant-general of the army, it appears that twenty-two officers and non-commissioned officers were killed, and thirty wounded.  Among the former were Major McMahon, Capt. Hartshorn and Lieut. Craig: and among the wounded, Capt. Taylor of the dragoons and Lieut. Darke of the legion.  Capt. Gibson, who commanded the fort, behaved with great gallantry, and received the thanks of the commander-in-chief, as did every officer and soldier of the garrison and the escort who were engaged in that most gallant and successful defence.


Immediately after the enemy had retreated it was ascertained that their loss had been very heavy; but the full extent of it was not known till it was disclosed at the treaty of Greenville.  References were made to that battle by several of the chiefs in council, from which it was manifest that they had not even then ceased to mourn the distressing losses sustained on that occasion.  Having made the attack with a determination to carry the fort or perish in the attempt, they exposed their persons in an unusual degree, and of course a large number of the bravest of their chiefs and warriors perished before they abandoned the enterprise.


From the facts afterwards communicated to the general it was satisfactorily ascertained that there were a considerable number of British soldiers and Detroit militia engaged with the savages on that occasion.  A few days previous to that affair the general had sent out three small parties of Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians, to take prisoners for the purpose of obtaining information.  One of those parties returned to Greenville on the 28th, and reported that they had fallen in with a large body of Indians at Girty’s Town (crossing of the St. Mary’s) on the evening of the 27th of June, apparently bending their course towards Chillicothe, on the Miami; and that there were a great many white men with them.  The two other parties followed the trail of the hostile Indians, and were in sight when the assault on the post commenced.  They affirm, one and all, that there were a large number of armed white men, with painted faces, whom they frequently heard conversing in English, and encouraging the Indians to persevere; and that there were also three British officers, dressed in scarlet, who appeared to be men of distinction from the great attention and respect which were paid to them.  These persons kept at a distance in the rear of the assailants.  Another strong, corroborating proof that there were British soldiers and militia in the assault, is that a number of ounce-balls and buckshot were found lodged in the block-houses and stockades of the fort; and that others were picked up on the ground, fired at such a distance as not to have momentum sufficient to enter the logs.


It was supposed that the British engaged in the attack expected to find the artillery that was lost on the fatal 4th of November, which had been hid in the ground and covered with logs by the Indians in the vicinity of the battle-field.  This inference was supported by the fact that during the conflict they were seen turning over logs and examining different places in the neighborhood, as if searching for something.  There were many reasons for believing that they depended on that artillery to aid in the reduction of the fort; but fortunately most of it had been previously found by its legitimate owners, and was then employed in its defence.


James Neill, a pack-horse man in the American service, who was taken prisoner by the Indians during the attack, and tied to a stump about half a mile from the fort, after


Pg. 234

his return stated to the general that the enemy lost a great number in killed and wounded; that while he was at the stump he saw about twenty of their dead and a great many wounded carried off.  He understood there were 1,500 Indians and white men in the attack; and on their return to the Miami the Indians stated that no men ever fought better than they did at Recovery; and that their party lost twice as many men in that attack as they did at St. Clair’s defeat.


Jonathan Alder, who was then living with the Indians, gives in his manuscript autobiography an account of the attack on the fort.  He states that Simon Girty was in the action, and that one of the American officers was killed by Thomas McKee, a son of the British agent, Col. Alexander McKee.  We have room but for a single extract, showing the risk the Indians encountered to bring off their wounded.


In the morning, when we arose, an old Indian addressed us, saying, “We last night went out to take the fort by surprise, and lost several of our men killed and wounded.  There is one wounded man lying near the fort who must be brought away, for it would be an eternal shame and scandal to the tribe to allow him to fall into the hands of the whites to be massacred.  I wish to know who will volunteer to go and bring him away.”  Big Turtle, who knew where he lay, answered that he would go; but as no one else volunteered, the old Indian pointed out several of us successively, myself among the number, saying that we must accompany Big Turtle.  Upon this we rose up without a word and started.  As soon as we came into the edge of the cleared ground those in the fort began shooting at us.  We then ran crooked, from one tree to another, the bullets in the meanwhile flying about us like hail.  At length, while standing behind a big tree, Big Turtle ordered us not to stop any more, but run in a straight line, as we were only giving them more time to lead—that those foremost in going should have the liberty of first returning.  He then pointed out the wounded man, and we started in a straight line through a shower of bullets.  When we reached him we were within sixty yards of the fort.  We all seized him and retreated for our lives, first dodging from one side and then to the other, until out of danger.  None of us were wounded but Big Turtle.  A ball grazed his thigh and a number of bullets passed through his hunting shirt that hung loose.  When we picked up the wounded man his shirt flew up, and I saw that he was shot in the belly.  It was green all around the bullet holes, and I concluded that we were risking our lives for a dead man.


A small village, now (1846) containing a few house only, was laid off on the site of St. Clair’s defeat, in 1836, by Larkin and McDaniels.  It is twenty-three miles north of Greenville.  Many relics of the battle have been discovered—muskets, swords, tomahawks, scalping knives, cannon balls, grape and musket shot, etc.  Among the bones found is that of a skull, now in possession of Mr. William McDaniels, showing the marks of a bullet, a tomahawk and a scalping knife.  St. Clair lost several cannon, all of which but one were subsequently recovered by Wayne.  This was long known to be missing, and about a dozen years since was discovered buried in the mud near the mouth of the creek.  It is now in possession of an artillery company in Cincinnati.  When the low ground in the valley of the river was cleared, several years since, a large quantity of bullets and grape shot were found in the bodies of trees, from twenty to thirty feet above the ground, from which it seems that the troops and artillery, having been stationed on high ground, fired over the enemy.  On burning the trees the lead melting rand down their trunks, discoloring them so much as to be perceived at a considerable distance.


The remains of Major McMahon and his companions, who fell at the time of the attack on the fort, were buried within its walls.  Some years since their bones were disinterred and reburied with the honors of war, in one coffin, in the village graveyard.  McMahon was known from the size of his bones.  He was about 6 feet 6 inches in height.  A bullet hole was in his skull, the ball having entered his temple and come out at the back of his head.  He was originally from near the Mingo bottom, just below Steubenville.  He was a famous Indian fighter and captain, and classed by the borderers on the upper Ohio with Brady and the Wetzels.—Old Edition.


Pg. 235


Top Picture

Drawn by Henry Howe in 1846.


Said to be the largest artificial lake on the globe.


Bottom Picture

Ford  Lewis, Photo., Celina, 1890.



A church in course of construction is shown on the left,  the Court-House on the right, the Reservoir in the distance.



Pg. 236


CELINA, county-seat of Mercer, on the Wabash river, 100 miles southwest of Toledo, about 100 miles north of Cincinnati, and about ninety miles northwest of Columbus, in on the L. E. & W., C. J. & M., and T., St. L. & K. C. Railroads; is also on the Grand Reservoir, ten miles long—the largest artificial lake in the United States, covering 17,000 acres with an average depth of ten feet.  County officers, 1888: Auditor, Theophilus G. TOUVELL; Clerk, Henry LENNARTZ; Commissioners, John H. SIEBERT, Peter HAUBERT, Christian FANGER; Coroner, Theodore G. McDONALD; Infirmary Directors, Charles F. LUTZ, Philip HEIBY, David OVERLY; Probate Judge, Stafford S. SCRANTON; Prosecuting Attorney, Byron M. CLENDERING; Recorder, William C. SNYDER; Sheriff, James F. TIMMONDS; Surveyor, Justin M. DeFORD; Treasurer, Samuel A. NICKERSON.  City officers, 1888: Joseph MAY, Mayor; Charles GABLE, Clerk; H. F. JUNEMAN, Treasurer; George H. HOUSER, Marshal.  Newspapers: Der Mercer County Bote, German, Democratic, William STELZER, editor and publisher; Mercer County Observer, Republican, JAMESON & ROSS, editors and publishers; Mercer County Standard, Democratic, A. P. SNYDER, editor and publisher.  Churches: one Catholic, one Lutheran, one Presbyterian, one United Brethren, one Methodist.  Banks: Citizens’, Chr. SCHUNCK, president, J. W. DeFORD, cashier; Godfrey & Milligan.


Manufactures and Employees.Krenning Woollen Mills, blankets, etc., 10 hands; Celina Machine Works, machine shop, 7; W. B. Nimmons, barrel heads, 45; W. H. Beery, flour and feed, 4; Timmonds & Estry, doors, sash, etc., 6; A. Wykoff & Son, carriages, etc., 10; Celina City Mills, flour, etc., 3.—Ohio State Report, 1888.  Population, 1880, 1,346.  School census, 1888, 752; George S. Harter, school superintendent.  Capital invested in industrial establishments, $79,525.  Value of annual products, $132,500.—Ohio Labor Statistics, 1888.  Census, 1890, 2,684.


Celina is steadily prospering; its manufactures are chiefly wood, as are those of northwestern Ohio generally.  The centre and south part of the county is a rich gas field, while north of Celina extends the oil territory.  Celina is a Democratic stronghold.  It has furnished the Ohio Legislature with two Democratic speakers of the House in the persons of ex-Congressman F. C. LeBlond and Hon. A. D. Marsh, while Hon. Thomas Jefferson Godfrey in 1868 was president of the Senate, and in 1869 was on the Democratic ticket for lieutenant-governor, with George H. Pendleton as candidate for governor; he was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1873-1874, and on the judiciary committee.  He takes much interest in education, and had for years been a trustee of the State University.  The German Catholic element is strong in Celina, and, indeed, in the new northwest of Ohio generally, and it makes a thrifty, upright, industrious body of pioneers, intensely patriotic and well adapted to cope with a wilderness condition.


The old county-seat was St. Mary’s, described on page 302, where stood the old fort St. Mary’s, built by Wayne.  Col. John Johnston gave us this account of the last commander of that fort, Capt. John Whistler, who appears to have been a remarkable man.


He was a soldier from his youth, came to American in Burgoyne’s army, and was taken prisoner at Saratoga.  He remained afterwards in the United States, entered the Western army under St. Clair, and survived the disastrous defeat of November, 1791, at which he acted as sergeant.  In 1793 an order came from the war office, purporting that any non-commissioned officer who should raise twenty-five recruits would receive the commission of an ensign.  He succeeded in this way in obtaining the office, from which he rose to a captaincy, and commanded in succession Forts St. Mary’s, Wayne and Dearborn, at Chicago.  He built the latter without the aid of a horse or ox; the timber and materials were all hauled by the labor of soldiers, their commander always at their head assisting.  He could recruit more men and perform more labor than any other officer in the army.  Age and hard service at length broke him down.  He retired from the line of the army and received the appointment of military shopkeeper at St. Louis, where he died about 1826.


Pg. 237

By the formation of Auglaise county in 1848, St. Mary’s was embodied in it, although Celina, then as now, was the county-seat.  It had but few inhabitants.  Celina was surveyed and laid out by James Watson RILEY, for himself, Rufus W. STEARNES, Robert LINZER, 2d, and Peter AUGHENBAUGH, join proprietors of the land, and the plat recorded September 8, 1834.  The name Celina was given after that of Salina, N. Y., because, like that place it stood at the head of a lake.  The name was changed in spelling from “Sa” to “Ce,” to prevent confusion of post-offices.  The town slowly got a start, and when the Harrison campaign ensued in 1840, the county officers had removed here from St. Mary’s, and go domiciled in log huts, and the court-house had received its roof.


After the excitement of the Harrison campaign was over, a chopping frolic or “bee” was held to cut down the timber on the town site, and give the sun a chance to dry up the mud.  So, on a beautiful Indian summer day about seventy experienced choppers from all the country round came to Celina with their sharp, glistening axes; women, too, came with them to do their cooking; and, after a great day of work, they partook of a generous supper of substantials, and then ensued a grand dance, kept up by many until daylight did appear.  When they cleared the woods they adopted the method described on page 468.


Travelling Notes.


This is Thursday evening, December 9, and I am in Celina, county-seat of Mercer, and the southernmost of the wild counties of Ohio on the Indiana line.  I got here by rail from Paulding near sunset, in a freight train with a caboose attached, and through the woods nearly all the way.  This entire wild region of woods and swamps of Northwestern Ohio fill one with an indescribable emotion of coming greatness from its great fertility when cleared and drained.  In the meanwhile its wood crop yields full reward for manly toil.


Celina, with its effeminate, soft-sounding name, is small and has the aspect of newness as though the place itself was but newly arrived.  From its name we should look for a refined and gentle population.  Its main street is very broad, and I walked in the beautiful crisp air and in the bright moon to its foot where lies the great artificial lake.  Boys and girls were there skating—their glad voices rang on the air.


Lines of fish-houses are on the banks.  The old picture which I took in 1846 of the lake was at the St. Mary’s end, ten miles east.  In it are shown dead forests standing in the water.  These now have disappeared everywhere and in their places stand decayed and decaying stumps, projecting a few inches above the water, their many miles of black heads showing where the forests had been a singular appearance for the surface of the lake.  Under the water the wood is preserved from decay by its continuous immersion.  By the rise and fall of the water the exposed part of the stumps decay.  The decayed vegetable matter when the water is low fills the air with a horrible odor, which I am told is some summers so sickening as to almost drive the people away.  In time this will be remedied by a systematic clearing away of the stumps, or sawing them off below the lowest water-line.


Several small islands are in the lake, one of which—Eagle’s Island—is the abode of a professional fisherman; another is a pleasure resort for pic-nic parties, hunting and fishing, which is reached by a small steamer and various other boats.  The fish are largely caught by nets, as black and rock bass, catfish, roach, bull heads, ring perch, etc.  During the spring and autumn of each year wild fowl gather here in large and incredible numbers, and as a fishing and hunting resort it is very attractive, and large parties come here for that purpose from all parts of the State.


It is now nine o’clock and I am in the depot at Celina, and make this note: “In a few minutes shall start South.”  It has been a clear, glorious, sunny winter day; no overcoat wanted.  Mere existence has been joyous.  The sun has set bright over a dead level forest country and the full moon risen huge in the East.  But the train is approaching; its big head-light looms up in the distance, seeming to say, “I’m coming to bear you on your way.”  Slow, stumbling “Old Pomp” has had his day.


The father of Celina was James Watson RILEY.  He was the son of Captain


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James RILEY, the once Arab captive, whose history is given in Van Wert county.  The son was born in 1804, in Middletown, Connecticut, and came with his family to Ohio when quite young.  The inscription on his monument in Celina is annexed:




In Heaven Rest,


Sacred to the Memory of our Father






January, 1870,




65 years, 10 months, and 11 days.


There never lived a better husband, a kinder father,


a truer friend.



He was a somewhat tall, wiry man of great energy and push, whom I gratefully remember, he having supplied me with valuable material for my original edition.  The inscription on his monument is a model.  One feels it is true; an emanation from a loving heart.  Better than all titles, and all honors, and all material possessions, is it, to deserve such an epitaph.


His life, was, however, great, because given to developing the swamp region of the State, and he was the proprietor of the towns of Van Wert, Paulding and Celina, all county-seats, which he surveyed and founded.  His ambition was to enter the wilderness, carve out villages which should serve as centres for young prospering communities.  To have been the creator of three county-seats is an extraordinary honor, not, we think, paralleled anywhere.


Public office sought him; at one time he was Register of the United States Land Office.  He was an ardent Whig in the old Tippecanoe times and made a strong contest for Congress in opposition to Hon. Wm. SAWYER.  The district was hopelessly Democratic, but by stumping it he reduced Mr. SAWYER’S majority from 2,500 to 1,000.


SAWYER represented this Congressional district from 1845 to 1849, and he got fastened upon him the epithet of “Sausage.”  And this was the way of it: Wm. E. Robinson, the waggish reporter “Richelieu,” of the New York Tribune, had given a comic description of the Hon. Wm. SAWYER’S bringing on to the floor of Congress a cold lunch, and spreading it on his desk and partaking of it with a gusto in the presence of his fellow-members while in session.


Cold sausage, as described, was the principle article of the menu.  The Democratic majority expelled Mr. ROBINSON, but he came back some years later and took his seat, not this time in the reporter’s gallery, but on the floor of the House, right among the Democrats, as the Democratic member from the


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Brooklyn, New York, district.  Mr. SAWYER was ever after known as “Sausage Sawyer.”  It was a cruel epithet to apply to a worthy man.


ROBINSON was a red-headed North of Ireland man, educated in this country; his college mates called him “Jack.”  He oozed with fun; couldn’t help it; was born that way.  This made him, in his youthful days, a favorite on the Whig platform, to which he was always called with vociferous yells and stampings.  We once saw him mount the orating stage, throw his hat, an old soft, white hat which he had under him arm, at his feet and make a comic apostrophe to it as an opening to more fun.  Jack we believe and hope is yet living, and if living must have opened this very day with a good joke, possibly may have lunched on cold sausage.  The last we saw of Jack was fourteen years ago; he was on a public platform as a companion to Dr. John G. Holland, the poet.  His red hair had bleached to a dull white and stood out huge and bushy in all directions, which gave to him a sage and venerable aspect.


Slang epithets and fancy names, we believe, are universal.  Public men are especially favored.  Napoleon the First was dubbed by his soldiers “Little Corporal,” and Wellington traveled as the “Iron Duke.”  Coming to our own country, Andrew Jackson was “Old Hickory;” Martin Van Buren, the “Little Magician;” Thomas Benton, “Old Bullion;” John Quincy Adams, the “Old Man Eloquent;” Daniel Webster, the “God-like Webster” and “Black Dan;” General Winfield Scott, “Fuss and Feathers;” Henry Clay, “Mill Boy of the Slashes” and “Cooney;” Mr. Blaine, the “Plumed Knight;” and General Butler, “Spoons.”


Coming to Ohio we find General W. H. Harrison was a “Granny;” Thomas Corwin, a “Wagon Boy;” Gov. Wood, “Tall Chief of the Cuyahogas;” Hon. Samuel Medary, “War Horse of the Democracy;” Gov. Allen, “Chinese Gong” and “Fog Horn,” from his tremendous voice, and then having used in a speech the sentence, “Earthquake of indignation,” became “Earthquake Allen;” Mr. Ewing was “Solitude Ewing,” from a speech in the Senate when, speaking of the disastrous effects of the removal of the deposits from the United States Bank by General Jackson, he had said: “Our canals have become a solitude, and the lake a desert waste of waters.”  This term solitude is poetical, having in it the element of pleasing melancholy.  Possibly, in using it Mr. Ewing may have been reading “Zimmerman on Solitude.”  If he had lived to our time it might have been Algers’ “Genius of Solitude,” which last we can commend to all thoughtful souls who have aspirations for indulgence in “pleasing melancholy.”


Coming to the war period and later, “Old Stars” stood for the astronomer, General Ormsby Knight Mitchell.  He had pointed his telescope so much aloft to see what Jupiter and its traveling moons were doing, his soldiers thought “Old Stars” was a good fit.  “Uncle Billy” is a term of endearment for Sherman.  As they use it the old veterans feel drawn closer to the General, their hearts beating in unison.  They realize in the time of trouble he had a brother’s love, was ready to share his last cracker with them as he is now to welcome them and their wives and daughters, greeting the latter sometimes with the fraternal kiss; “for of such is,” etc.  “Little Breeches” for a while was Mr. Foraker’s designation, growing out of his youthful experience; like the breeches it had no permanence, soon was worn out and cast away; but Judge Thurman remains “Honest,” while “King Bob” yet wears the crown.


In private life nicknames are endless.  Our Indians appear to have none other.  “Fool Dog: designated a Sioux chief.  Said a department commander of the army to us: “Fool Dog was as good a man as I ever knew; he was exceedingly fond of me.  Yes, I think Fool Dog would have died for me.”  Every reader must remember some of his schoolmates that had eccentric appellations.  One I had was known as “Scoopendiver Bill.”  How he got it I never knew; but I did of another, “Boots.”  His father had sent him with his boots for the mending; the lad drew them over his own boots, and shuffling past the school-house when his mates were out at play, they filled the air with the cry of “Boots! boots! boots!”  The epithet “Boots” became a permanent fixture.  His real name passed into oblivion, his school-mates never using any other than “Boots.”  He is yet living, but being aged it must be as “Old Boots.”


The Mercer County Reservoir.


The largest artificial lake, it is said, on the globe, is formed by the reservoir supplying the St. Mary’s feeder of the Miami extension canal, from which it is situated three miles west.  The reservoir is about nine miles long and from two to four broad.  It is on the summit, between the Ohio and the lakes.  About one-half in its natural state was a prairie, and the remainder a forest.  It was formed by raising two wall of earth, from ten to twenty-five feet high, called respectively the East and West embankment, the first of which is about two miles and the last near four in length.  These walls, with the elevation of the ground to the north and south, form a huge basin to retain the water.


Pg. 240


The reservoir was commenced in 1837 and completed in 1845, at an expense of several hundred thousand dollars.  The west embankment was completed in 1843.  The water filled in at the upper end to the depth of several feet, but as the ground rose gradually to the east it overflowed for several miles to the depth of a few inches only.  This vast body of water thus exposed to the powerful rays of the sun, would, if allowed to have remained, have bred pestilence through the adjacent country.  Moreover, whole farms that belonged to individuals, yet unpaid for by the State, were completely submerged.  Under these circumstances, about one hundred and fifty residents of the county turned out with spades and shovels and by two days of industry tore a passage for the water through the embankment.  It cost several thousand dollars to repair the damage.  Among those concerned in this affair were persons high in official station and respectability, some of whom here for the first time blistered their hands at manual labor.  They were all liable to the State law making the despoiling of public works a penitentiary offence, but a grand jury could not be found in Mercer to find a bill of indictment.


The Legislature, by a joint resolution, passed in 1837, resolved that no reservoir should be made for public canals without the timber being first cleared; it was unheeded by officers in charge of this work.  The trees were only girdled and thus thousands of acres of most valuable timber that would have been of great value to the Commonwealth in building of bridges and other constructions on the public works wantonly wasted.


The view of the reservoir was taken from the east embankment, and presents a singular scene.  In front are dead trees and stumps scattered about, and roofs of deserted cabins rising from the water.  Beyond a cluster of green prairie grass waves in the rippling waters, while to the right and left thousands of acres of dead forest trees, with no sign of life but a few scattered willows bending in the water, combine to give an air of wintry desolation to the scene.  The reservoir abounds in fish and wild fowl, while innumerable frogs make the air vocal with their bellowings.  The water is only a few feet deep, and in storms the waves dash up six or eight feet and foam like an ocean in miniature.  A few years since a steamer twenty-five feet in length, called the “Seventy-six.” With a boiler of seventy gallons capacity, a pipe four feet in height, and commanded by Captain Gustavus Darnold, plied on its waters.


The foregoing account of the reservoir is from our original edition.  The Mercer County Standard of April, 1871, has a fuller description, from which we take some items:


Justin HAMILTON, of Mercer county, introduced a resolution into the Legislature, which was unanimously adopted: “That no water should be let into the reservoir before the same should be cleared of timber and the parties paid for this land.”  The Legislature appropriated $20,000 for this purpose, but it was squandered by the officers and land speculators.


When the water was let in, growing crops of wheat belonging to various owners and other farm property were submerged.  The people, indignant, held a public meeting at Celina, May 3, 1843; chose Samuel RUCKMAN, County Commissioner, President, and sent Benjamin LINZEE to Piqua to lay their grievances, with an address, before the head of the Board of Public Works, Messrs. Spencer and Ramsey, etc., who returned the sneering answer, “Help yourself if you can.”


On the 12th the meeting returned Mr. LINZEE to Piqua with the answer, that if they did not pay for the land and let off the water, they would cut the bank on the 15th.  The reply came back, “The Piqua Guards will be with you and rout you on that day.”


At seven o’clock on the morning of the 15th more than one hundred citizens, with shovels, spades and wheel-barrows, were on the spot.  The place selected was the strongest on the bank in the old Beaver channel, and careful not to damage the State, the dirt was wheeled back on the bank on each side.  Next day at noon the cutting was complete, and was dug six feet below the level of the lake with a flimsy breastwork to hold back the water.


When the tools were taken out and all ready, Samuel RUCKMAN said, “Who will start the water?”  “I,” said John Sunday;” “I,” said Henry LINZEE, and in a moment the meandering waters were hurling down fifty yards below the bank.  It was six weeks before the water subsided.


Warrants were issued for all engaged in the work, and this included all the county officers, judges, sheriffs, clerks, auditor, etc.  As stated the grand jury refused to find a bill and it cost the State $17,000 to repair the damage.


John W. ERWIN, the old canal engineer, in a recent newspaper publication, states: This reservoir often feeds sixty miles or more of canal and discharges into he Maumee, at Defiance, 3,000 cubic feet of water per minute, after having been used over a fall of thirty-five feet for hydraulic purpose.  The water which escapes at the west bank of the Grand Reservoir (by the Wabash river) finds its


Pg. 241


way into the Gulf of Mexico, and that which escapes at the east finds its way into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.


In our original edition we made the following statement in regard to a colony of colored people which amounted to several hundred persons: They live principally by agriculture, and own extensive tracts of land in the townships of Granville, Franklin, and Mercer.  They bear a good reputation for morality, and manifest a laudable desire for mental improvement.  This settlement was founded by the exertions of Mr. Augustus Wattles, a native of Connecticut, who, instead


Drawn by Henry Howe in 1846.



of merely theorizing upon the evils which prevent the moral and mental advancement of the colored race, has acted in their behalf with a philanthropic, Christian-like zeal that evinces he has their real good at heart.  The history of this settlement is given in the annexed extract of a letter from him.


My early education, as you well know, would naturally lead me to look upon learning and good morals as of infinite importance in a land of liberty.  In the winter of 1833-4 I providentially became acquainted with the colored population of Cincinnati, and found about 4,000 totally ignorant of everything calculated to make good citizens.  Most of them had been slaves, shut out from every avenue of moral and mental improvement.  I started a school for them and kept it up with two hundred pupils for two years.  I then proposed to the colored people to move into the country and purchase land, and remove from these contaminating influences which had so long crushed them in our cities and villages.  They promised to do so, provided I would accompany them and teach school.  I traveled through Canada, Michigan and Indiana looking for a suitable location, and finally settled here, thinking this place contained more natural advantages than any other unoccupied country within my knowledge.  In 1835 I made the first purchase for colored people in this county.  In about three years they owned not far from 30,000 acres.  I had traveled into almost every neighborhood of colored people in the State and laid before them the benefits of a permanent home for themselves and of education for their children.  In my first journey through the State I established, by the assistance and cooperation of abolitionists, twenty-five schools for colored children.  I collected of the colored people such money as they had to spare and entered land for them.  Many, who had no money, afterwards succeeded in raising some and brought it to me.  With this I bought land for them.


I purchased for myself one hundred and ninety acres of land to establish a manual labor school for colored boys.  I had sustained a school on it, as my own expense, till the 11th of November, 1842.  Being in Philadelphia the winter before I became acquainted with the trustees of the late Samuel Emlen, of New Jersey, a Friend.  He left by his will $20,000 for the “support and education in school learning and the mechanic arts and agriculture such colored boys, of African and Indian descent, whose parents would give them up to the institute.”  We united our means and they purchased my farm and appointed me the superintendent of the establishment, which they call the Emlen Institute.


Pg. 242


In 1846 Judge LEIGH, of Virginia, purchased 3,200 acres of land in this settlement for the freed slaves of John RANDOLPH, of Roanoke.  These arrived in the summer of 1846 to the number of about four hundred, but were forcibly prevented from making a settlement by a portion of the inhabitants of the county.  Since then acts of hostility have been commenced against the people of this settlement, and threats of greater held out if they do not abandon their lands and homes.—Old Edition.


From a statement in the county history issued in 1882 we see that a part of the Randolph negroes succeeded in effecting a settlement at Montezuma, Franklin township, just south of the reservoir.


FORT RECOVERY is on the south bank of the Wabash river, one and a half miles east of the Indiana State line, fifteen miles southwest of Celina, on the L. E. & W. R. R.  Newspapers: News, Independent, Charles L. PATCHELL, editor and publisher; Times, Democratic, A. Sutherland, editor and publisher.  Churches: one catholic, one Methodist, one Congregational, one Christian, one Lutheran.  Bank: G. R. McDANIEL.  School census, 1888, 347; D. W. K. Martin, school superintendent.


Fort Recovery is in the midst of a great gas field.  On Wednesday, March 28, 1887, the first well was struck.  It was well names “Mad Anthony.”  It came with a mighty roar at only a depth of five hundred and ten feet.  “Hats went up, cheers rang out” and, writes one, “the glad light of happiness, enthusiasm and prosperity shone in the eyes of our people.  The test shows two millions of cubic feet daily from this well alone.”


The great event at this place was the defeat of St. Clair, already largely detailed.  Since the issue of our original account in 1847, Fort Recovery has been the scene of a reminder of that sad day, here detailed.


Burial of the Remains of the Slain.


In July, 1851, after heavy rains had washed off the earth, a discovery of a human skull in the streets of Recovery near the site of the old fort led to a further search, when the skeletons of some sixty persons were exhumed well preserved.  It was resolved to reinter them with suitable ceremonies.  They were placed in thirteen different coffins, representing the thirteen States of the Union at the time of the battle.  The bones showed variously marks of the bullet, tomahawk and scalping-knife.


On a fine day, September 10, ensued the ceremony of the burial of the slain of St. Clair’s army.  The crowd was immense, and the procession was formed under charge of General James Watson Riley and aids.  One hundred and four pall-bearers from different counties headed the procession in charge of the coffins, and were followed by soldiers, ladies and citizens generally, forming a column a mile long, while marching to the stand, in full view of the battle-ground, when Judge Bellamy Storer delivered an eloquent address in his fervid, patriotic style.  On the close of the proceedings the procession moved to the village burying-ground, and the thirteen coffins deposited in one grave just sixty years after the battle.


SHANE’S CROSSING is eleven miles north of Celina, on the southern division of the T. D. & B. and C. J. & M. Railroads.  Newspaper: Free Press, D. C. KINDER, editor and publisher.  Bank: Farmers’.  Population, 1880, 404.  School census, 1888, 308.


Historically this is an interesting spot.  It is on the south bank of St. Mary’s river.  Originally it was on or near the site of the Indian village Old Town.  This was an old trading post held and conducted by the Indians prior to the war of 1812, and named from Anthony Shane, a half-breed Indian trader.  At this spot Wayne’s army crossed going north, and the spot eventually became known as Shane’s Crossing.  The United States granted a reservation here to Shane and he laid out a town on his land June 23, 1820; it was recorded at Greenville under the name of Shanesville, which it retained until 1866, when it was incorporated and took its original name as Shane’s Crossing.  When the Shawnese left Ohio for Kansas, Shane, then a very old man, went with them.


Shanesville, St. Mary’s and “Coil Town” were the early contestants for the seat of justice for the county.  Coil Town passed away becoming a cultivated field.  The first term of court was held at Shanesville, Judge LOW presiding; but St. Mary’s won the prize, and then it later passed to Celina.


Anthony SHANE appears in a snake story.


Pg. 243


Mr. John SUTTON, an early settler, while hunting medicinal herbs for a sick horse, was bitten on the foot by a spotted rattlesnake, when, as a remedy, his bitten foot was buried in the ground.  Anthony SHANE was then sent for, who asked if they had any black cats, saying he could shortly with them cure the foot.  Being answered in the negative he killed some black chickens, dressed and applied them to the foot and on the third application pronounced it cured.


MENDON is eleven miles northeast of Celina, on the D. Ft. W.  & C. R. R. Population, 1880, 242.  School census, 1888, 144.


COLDWATER is five miles southwest of Celina, on the L. E. & W. and C. J. & M. Railroads.  School census, 1888, 269.


MERCER is eight miles north of Celina, on the D. Ft. W. & C. R. R.  School census, 1888, 129.


ST. HENRY is twelve miles southwest of Celina, on the C. J. & M. R. R. School census, 1888, 218.


First paper, the Western Standard, Celina, by Hunter & Barrington, 1848.  The name was changed to the Mercer County Standard in 1866 when A. P. SNYDER was the sole proprietor.  The paper, which has been owned by the Snyders for 80 years, is now published as a daily by F. A. SNYDER, and is the only paper in Celina.  The Western Democrat came in 1874.  Later it was called the Observer and was published in 1889 by L. S. Jameson & Co.  Another extinct paper was the Independent, published for some years by J. E. BLIZZARD.


Rockford, formerly called Shane’s Crossing, has long been a publishing center, D. C. KINDER having begun there in 1883 the publication of the Press now published by George B. KINDER.   The Ft. Recovery Journal (1891) is now published by E. T. HSTINGS.  Other papers of the county are the Coldwater Chronicle by N. F. FAHNESTOCK, and the Mendon Herald by O. F. GEIGER.


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