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The Wrights & the Indians

by Sharon Myers

Capt. John Wright and his family, exchanged their farm in Litchfield Co., Conn., for lands owned in the Western Reserve and loaded up a wagon drawn by four oxen and an extra horse and a cow for milk in the wilderness and proceeded on toward Ohio in 1802.

Their three sons, all served in Major George Darrow's Odd Battalion, attached to the 4th Division Ohio Militia under General Elijah Wadsworth in the War of 1812. The youngest, Ensign Alpha Wright was born Dec. 26, 1788 in Winsted, Conn. (as were all three brothers). He was 14 when his parents moved to Ohio with their family in 1802.

In 1809 the Wrights came, from Morgan, Ohio with a load of household goods and moved into their log house in Tallmadge. They are said to be the first settlers in Tallmadge. Alpha married Lucy Foster in 1811 and they had 12 children. For nearly 40 years he was a member of the church and the choir. He helped organize a school for deaf mutes in 1827. Alpha died March 1, 1856.

Amos Case Wright was born on Sept. 5, 1781. He married Lydia Avery and they moved to Tallmadge in 1808. He practiced medicine in Trumbull County from 1802 until moving to Tallmadge. He erected the first frame building in the township in 1810 and the first brick house in 1816. He served as an assistant surgeon during the War of 1812. He died May 19, 1845.

John Wright, Jr. was born Jan. 11, 1780. He married Salona Gillett and they had 11 children. He died July 30, 1844. All are buried in Tallmadge Cemetery.

On Aug. 17, 1812, General William Hull was moving the U.S. Northwestern Army north from Dayton to reinforce Detroit and be ready to invade Canada, but he surrendered to General Proctor and left all of Ohio without military protection and open to the British and the Indians. Terror was immense in Northeast Ohio after Hull's surrender. General Wadsworth received this news on Aug. 22 at Canfield and issued an order for his 4th Division State Militia to assemble at Cleveland to defend the frontier. On Aug. 23 he was at Ravenna with the 4th Brigade marching through Hudson and Bedford to Cleveland on the 26th.

Hull was court-martialed and convicted of neglect of duty and sentenced to death. He was reprieved due to his Revolutionary services and advanced age of 59.

Hull's surrender left a large frontier entirely unprotected. Our whole area was thrown into a fever of excitement. Women and children were put in safe places and the militias were summoned. General Simon Perkins and 300 men were immediately ordered from Cleveland to the Huron River to protect the frontier. Another 100 men under Rial McArthur and George Darrow soon joined them.

After the declaration of the War of 1812 a report came from Canton, that the Greentown Indians were in arms and that they had butchered a number of families to the southwest of Tallmadge and would most likely be upon that township in the morning. Capt. John Wright's house was deemed best for a fort. Wright's sons and Jotham Blakely's (also a veteran of the War of 1812 under Capt. Samuel Hale) family gathered together for the expected attack. Only three out of 18 people were fit for duty. They set guard for the night. All were safe in the morning. Ephraim Clark patrolled the street all night. The next day they discovered that the alarm was caused by two deserters who were magnified into a party of Indians. Shortly after, came the surrender of Hull's army and another threat that the British troops would make a descent on the unprotected frontier. This alarm reached Tallmadge when the people were in church. The service instantly closed and muskets were taken up. Before nightfall they were relieved to find out that the supposed enemies were their fellow citizens returning from Detroit where they had been betrayed by General Hull.

During September 1812 evidence of the presence of hostile Indians accumulated daily. Before the 15th a small detachment went from Huron to Kelley's Island and on the way home, one soldier from Warren was found dead and scalped and another was shot. Four whites were killed and scalped near the crossing of Black Fork, a tributary of the Mohican River.

The growth of Northampton was seriously affected until after the war because of the warlike dispositions of the Ottawa Indians living there. The Ottawa Indian leader, Seneca, was tall and dignified, but he loved "fire water." In one of his drunken stupors he attempted to kill his squaw; but the blow killed his favorite papoose. He was so affected by this that it made him a temperate drinker for the rest of his life. He joined the British in the War of 1812 and was dressed in a British uniform in Detroit after Hull's surrender.

An Indian settlement near the northern border of Boston Township was a celebrated place for war parties. The Indians erected a wooden "God" or totem, to which they made their offerings before starting on the war path.

The Old Portage Indian path cuts through Coventry Township and was important for the Delaware Indians and their chief, Hopocan. His village was where Young's Restaurant was on Turkeyfoot Lake. He boasted that he tomahawked white men until his arm ached. He joined the British upon the breaking out of the War of 1812.

The threat of Indian attacks was a constant problem in Summit County until the end of the War of 1812.

Contact Sharon Myers, President of the William Wetmore Chapter Daughters of 1812, at 330-794-5099.

 

 

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