Saturday, September 21, 2013

Wyandot ~ the last county in more ways than one!

Wyandot County Courthouse

This is it. The last Ohio County. Since early August I have researched, written up a brief history and blogged about the experience. Wyandot is #19.  And, after looking at 19 (21.5%) of the 88 counties in Ohio I think I have a pretty good grasp of the history and character of the state. It was a good sampling. I have certainly learned a great deal about an area that was once just a turnpike to me. Thanks to writers such as Conrad Richter and Helen Hooven Santmyer I have some idea of Ohio’s rich history; and I’ve learned so much about the westward pioneering movement in which Ohio played a key role.
I now have a good idea of where I need to go as a genealogist to complete my records and visit the farms and homes of our ancestors . . . but more than that, I have developed a love for beautiful Ohio. Modern day Ohio is a cornucopia of possibilities for vacationers. My list of ‘fun things to do’ is very long and I didn’t even look at the whole state.
At the onset of this project I wrote to the Genealogy/Historical Societies in each county and the Ohio Genealogical Society to ask for any input they might volunteer about their area – after all I was doing this long-distance – well over 2,000 miles. Any home-grown insight was welcomed. I heard from only a few, and those few were much appreciated. I received an informative note from Betsy representing the Wyandot Tracers in Wyandot County. It being the last county I’d cover I tucked her notes away until I could work my way through the alphabet. Betsy, thank you so much! (Wyandot was not only my last county - in 1845 it was the last Ohio County to be established - and it is the last county alphabetically.
If it weren’t for Betsy I could have looked at Wyandot as a rather dull, agricultural backwater that is, well, boring. That was my first impression. Our ancestor Joseph Rowland lived near the tiny village of Kirby in Mifflin Township.  Kirby is still tiny with a populations of 117 in 2010 – but then, it isn’t a ghost town – it’s still there and worthy of a visit. Upper Sandusky, county seat and the ‘big city' in Wyandot, has less than 7,000 citizens. With those figures you can imagine a pretty, rural setting. Currently I’m reading Santmyer’s memoir of the town of Xenia, called Ohio Town. With that history in mind I can picture the development of Upper Sandusky.  Betsy writes, “We have a wonderful town here with tree lined streets and many churches. Big houses set along South Sandusky Ave.”  After reading Helen’s book I can see it growing up around me. (A note, Upper Sandusky is not connected to the larger city of Sandusky, Ohio which is a ways to the north along Lake Erie and is the county seat for Erie County.

John Stewart
Betsy’s notes lead me to John Stewart, that remarkable son of free blacks who labored as a missionary among the Wyandot Tribe in the early 1800s, and there built a mission church.  After that up-lifting information I was plunged down when learning about one of the darkest moments in our history – the Gnadenhutten Massacre of the Moravian Indians by American militia near the end of the Revolution (this did not happen in Wyandot County). It was an unspeakable tragedy; and makes Stewart’s success in converting Indians to Christianity even more remarkable. Col William Crawford was burned at the stake, in what would become Wyandot County, in retaliation for this horrible deed – but he was just a token. How many of our stalwart pioneers participated in this horror?

Col William Crawford

It is no wonder that settlers had trouble keeping their scalps after the massacre.

There are 10 National Historic sites to visit in Wyandot County. The two I don’t want to miss is Stewart’s Mission Church and the Monument where Col. Crawford was burned at the stake. I'd like to see where Congressman Darius Hare put out his shingle as an attorney after his two terms as a U.S. Congressman.  And, I don't want to miss the scenic river route along the Sandusky River.
Sandusky River in Wyandot County
Photos: Wyandot County Courthouse - Wikipedia
Ohio Town -
Col. William Crawford - Wikipedia
Sandusky River - Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources

John Stewart - Love, N. B. C. John Stewart, Missionary to the Wyandots (1900) as reprinted in Ohio History by Ohio Historical Society in 1908.
Additional Notes:  Betsy Bowen

1 comment:

  1. You're more than welcome to use it!!! [a link to the Upper Sandusky website] Good luck with everything Sandy


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