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We have many of us, in our school-boy days, admired the eloquent strains of the youthful declaimer, as he recited the plaintive speech of Logan, the Indian Chief, made before Lord Dunmore, in the war of 1794:
“I appeal to any white man to say if he ever entered Logan's cabin hungry and he gave him no meat; if he came naked and cold and I clothed him not. * * * Col. Cressup, last spring, in cold blood, and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not sparing even my women and children. There runs not one drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature.” Etc., etc.
It is not generally known that the famous speech was read to Governor Dunmore under an oak tree, upon the soil of Ohio, some seven miles from Circleville. In the winter of 1818 I visited Caleb Atwater, at Circleville, and he asserts this fact in his History of Ohio, page 116.
In 1799 the settlement of Deerfield, in Portage county, commenced; Lewis Ely and family moved in in July of that year. On the 7th of November, 1800, the first marriage in the county took place between John Campbell and Sarah Ely. They were joined in wedlock by Capt. Austin, Esq., a Justice of the Peace, of Warren, in Trumbull county. He came through the woods, on foot, a distance of twenty-seven miles, accompanied by a young lawyer of the name of Calvin Pease, who instructed the justice in regard to the formulary, while on the road.
In February, 1819, this same John Campbell, then a State Senator, accompanied me in my journey on horseback, from Columbus to the Western Réserve, on my first visit to this section of the State, and I have ever felt indebted to him for many courtesies. In October, 1821, Calvin Pease, then Chief Justice of Ohio, admitted me to the practice of the law.
But I am transcending my limits, and must make my bow. RESPONSE BY GEORGE H. ELY, ESQ.
MR. PRESIDENT: The story of the Western Reserve has been often told. Again have its great events and its thrilling scenes been rehearsed by surviving actors, who can say concerning them, “ All of which I saw and part of which I was."
This is a theme which will never grow old. To you, at least, venerable fathers and mothers, whose eyes have followed the sun, almost to its setting, and to whom, looking now into the West, the glow of evening brings peace; it contains the fruitage of character and earthly life. The significance of these events and your relations to them will only deepen with the passage of your remaining years.
The settlement and the advancement of the Reserve constitute one of the finest passages of recent American history. Here is a conspicuous instance of the successful transplanting of ideas, principles and habits of a people, and the making of them a positive force in the subjugation of the wilderness, and the rearing of a new community.
This was not done to any large extent by organization and combined effort for the movement of population. There was no exodus from New England for the planting of its counterpart west of the Alleghanies. Individual emigrants with wife and children, joined, perhaps, by a neighbor, took the path through the wilderness to the “Far West," and they gathered here upon the principle of natural selection. It is true that the Reserve attracted settlers also from other sections of the country, but the majority came from New England, and to reach their future home they passed the falls of the Genesee and crossed the garden of the Empire State. It followed that New England ideas and principles had a controlling influence in molding social and political conditions here.
The party sent out by the Connecticut Land Company to survey its newly acquired domain, arrived at Conneaut Creek July 4th, 1796. From that point the work was immediately begun, one party running the line of its eastern boundary southward and another going northward. The mouth of the Cuyahoga was laid out, and honored with the name of the leader of the expedition—General Moses Cleaveland.
But the arrival at Conneaut Creek is worthy of mention. General Cleaveland made of this the following record: “On this creek (Conneaut), in New Connecticut land, July 4, 1796, under General Moses Cleaveland, the surveyors and men sent out by the Connecticut Land Company to survey and settle the Connecticut Reserve, were the first English people who took possession of it."
He further says: “We gave three cheers and christened the place Fort Independence, and after many difficulties, perplexities, and hardships were surmounted, and we were on the good and promised land, felt that a just tribute of respect to the day ought to be paid. There were in all, including women and children, fifty in number. The men under Captain Tinker ranged themselves on the beach and fired a federal salute of fifteen rounds, and then the sixteenth, in honor of New Connecticut; drank several toasts, closed with three cheers, drank several pails of grog, supped and retired in good order.”
Notice in this record the claim to first English occupation, and the loyalty that would not let them forget in the wilderness the birthday of the Republic, and that quaint but honest declaration, that “after several pails of grog, they supped and retired in good order."
The arrival of this party on the shore of Lake Erie, and contemporaneous events, mark an important epoch in the history of the new nation.
During the two and a half centuries previous to this time the continent had been penetrated by Spanish and French explorers from different points on the Atlantic coast. In the south Ponce de Leon and De Soto had sought gold and the “Fountain of Perpetual Youth," and in the north French missionaries and explorers had ascended through the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes to the far northwest. But the object was discovery, with a view to military occupation and religious propagandism. One hundred and seventeen years before the event at Conneaut Creek (in 1679), a solitary sail had passed that spot, but it bore no intending settler. It carried cannon. It was La Salle seeking the pathway to China across the continent, and to plant the arms and the faith of France in the valley and at the mouth of the Mississippi. This he accomplished in the following year.
There had been a long and doubtful struggle between the French and the English for supremacy in the new world, but long before this it had ended in favor of the English. This and the final subjection of the Indian tribes prepared the way for the new nation of the new world. The issue of the Revolutionary war afterwards settled the further question of infinite importance, that the control of this continent by the Englishspeaking race was to be administered under the highest conditions for success—free institutions.
With the close of the Revolutionary war came rapidly on the settlement of many questions preliminary to the growth and expansion of the national life westward.
Several of the seaboard States had claims, through royal grants, to extensive territory west of the existing State boundaries. The extinguishment or adjustment of these claims, often conflicting, was among the first duties of the new Federal Government. A few years saw this mainly accomplished.
The claims of Connecticut to land in the new northwest territory, however, were measureably defined, at least on three sides. The royal charter in 1662 gave to her a strip of land, bounded on the east by Naragansett river, on the north by Massachusetts, and on the south by Long Island Sound, and extending westward between the parallels 41° and 42° 2'' north latitude to the mythical “ South Sea.”
That portion of the charter lying immediately west she could not obtain, it having been previously granted to New York and in possession. The “South Sea” she could never find, and that portion of her charter lying between it and the Reserve, we suppose, she rather reluctantly abandoned. In 1786 Connecticut relinquished to the United States all claims to territory outside of a line one hundred and twenty miles west of the boundary line of Pennsylvania and parallel with it. ' In 1792 she granted five hundred thousand acres (the Fire Lands) from the western side of this Reserve to citizens whose property had been burned in the war. The remainder of her lands she sold in 1795 to the Connecticut Land Company for twelve hundred thousand dollars.
This, I believe, was the final transaction which brought the entire domain of the new northwest territory under the jurisdiction of the United States. But I must not detain you with even these brief allusions to the events and influences which prepared the way for the Western Reserve of to-day. Here she is in her glory and strength, a beautiful creation. Your lifework, my friends, has been done upon it, and I know that now, at last, with the whitened hair and the trembling step, there has also come into your hearts the joy and the pride of successful achievement. The Reserve that we see might well have been predicted from the happy confluence of so many favoring elements in its origin and progress.
The location central, and at the foot of the Great Lakes, was a guarantee of future commercial influence. The climate was good, the soil was fertile and the country well watered, while the heavy forest with which it was covered, evoked and challenged, as no prairie land bright with flowers could ever do, those sturdy qualities of manhood that are essential to the building of a state. These high material advantages have been pushed to their highest utility, it is needless to say, in the hands of a sober, industrious, intelligent and God-fearing people, and so they have been made tributary to the highest objects of social and political organization. Naturally, the first endeavor was to utilize to the fullest extent the water commu