Early Dayton
Chapter Two: Early Settlers

Chapter II: Early Settlers

 

Daniel C. Cooper- Newcom’s Tavern- Cooper Park- Mr. Cooper Becomes Titular Proprietor of the Town- His Improvements and Liberality- Indians Frequent Visitors- Playing Marbles at Midnight- Robert Edgar- First Store in Dayton- Henry Brown- First Flatboat- Furniture of the Nine Cabins Constituting Dayton- Food- Game- Hogs Introduced- Fish- Blockhouses for Defense Against Indians Built at Dayton- First School in Dayton- Benjamin Van Cleve’s Autobiography- Early Life of Van Cleve- Battle of Monmouth- Wagon Journey of the Van Cleves Across the Mountains- Murder of John Van Cleve at Cincinnati by Indians- Benjamin Van Cleve Supports his Father’s Family- Self-Educated- Employed in Quartermaster’s Department of Western Army- St. Clair’s Defeat- Employed in Flatboating by Army Contractors- In Charge of Army Horses and Cattle- Sent Express to Philadelphia by Quartermaster’s Department- Sent by General Knox from Philadelphia to Conduct Pair of Horses to Indian Chief Brant- Quarrel with General Knox- Meets Brant in New York- Studious Life After Return to Philadelphia- Sent West with Dispatches to General Wayne- Journey by Boat from Wheeling, Accompanied by Officers and Recruits- Cheated Out of His Pay- Flatboating to Kentucky- Sutler at Fort Greenville- Sent by Army Contractor to Fort Massac with Major, Called “King,” Doyle- Returning, Visits Red Banks, a Resort of Thieves and Cutthroats- Drives Cattle to Greenville, Fort Wayne, and Fort Washington- Accompanies Captain Dunlap to Make the Survey of Dayton Settlement- Adventures as a Surveyor- Keeps Field-Notes During Rain on Blocks of Wood- Settles in Dayton- Surveying, Writing, and Farming- Trials.

 

            Now that the approach of the Dayton Centennial is exciting a special interest in the settlers and founders of the town, it should not be forgotten that Daniel C. Cooper is the pioneer who should be made most prominent and given the highest honors at our celebration.  He was born in Morris County, New Jersey, in 1773.  About 1803 he married Mrs. Sophia Greene Burnet, of Dayton.  From the time that a settlement here was first planned by St. Clair, Wilkinson, Dayton, and Ludlow, he was acquainted with the project and inclined, it is probable, to make the new town his home.  He accompanied the surveying parties led by Colonel Israel Ludlow through the Miami Valley in 1794 and 1795, and in September, 1795, by direction of the proprietors, marked out and cut through the brush from Fort Hamilton to the mouth of Mad River the wagon-road by which the pioneers ended their journey.  That fall and winter he located one thousand acres of land in and near Dayton.  He settled here permanently in the summer of 1796, building a cabin on the southeast corner of Monument Avenue and Jefferson Street.  In 1798 he moved onto the farm, south of Dayton, afterwards the home of Colonel Patterson and General Brown, who distinguished himself in the War of 1812, and was afterwards commander-in-chief of the United States Army.  He kept bachelor’s hall in his Monument Avenue cabin for a time.

            It would have been a disgrace not to have preserved Newcom’s Tavern, which, when built in 1799, was the pride of all this region on account of its superiority to any other house north of Hamilton.  We know that round it cluster nearly all the most interesting historical associations of the earliest period of the history of Dayton, and that it was the first tavern, store, church, court-house, and jail of the town or county.  There is great propriety in naming the little pioneer landing for the Van Cleves.  But it is also eminently that the square in which the library building stands should be called Cooper Park, for the generous, public-spirited man who gave it and other valuable lots to the town.  Our citizens seem not to know, or to have forgotten, that several years ago the City Council voted to name this square Cooper Park, so that it is improper, whether law, gratitude, or sentiment is concerned, to call it Library Park.  Cooper Park let it be henceforth and forever.

            In 1801 the original proprietors of Dayton began discouraged and Mr. Cooper became titular proprietor of the town by the purchase of preemption rights, agreement with settlers, and friendly Congressional legislation.  He showed his intelligence and breadth of view by the size of lots and the width of streets and sidewalks on his new plat of the town, and by his liberal donations of lots and money for schools, churches, a graveyard, market-house, and for county buildings, and to desirable settlers whom he induced to come here.  He built the only mills erected in Dayton during the first ten years of its history- flour-, fulling-, and sawmills, and one for grinding corn.  For several years at different periods he served as justice of the peace, president of Council, and member of both branches of the Legislature, and in every way in his power labored for the prosperity of the town, county, and State.  His residence, built in 1805 on the southwest corner of Ludlow and First streets, was described as an “elegant mansion of hewn logs, lined inside, instead of plastering, with cherry boards.”  To his enlarged views, foresight, broad plans, liberality, integrity, and business capacity much of the present advancement of our city is due.  The impress of his wise, moderate, prudent, yet progressive spirit, laid upon the town in its infancy, has never been lost.

            Indians were frequent visitors to the village of Dayton, and even when friendly their curiosity and thieving habits made them unwelcome.  They generally came to exchange skins, maple sugar, etc., for articles carried about the country by traders.  Robert Edgar, one of the earliest settlers and a valuable citizen, many of whose descendants live in Dayton, built himself a lonely home on the little prairie now the site of the Water Works.  Sometimes at night Indians, with whom he must have been inconveniently popular, would stop in front of his cabin and call, “Lobit! Lobit!” (Indian for Robert) till he awoke and admitted them.  They came for amusement, and were not satisfied till they had persuaded their host to get down on the floor and play marbles with them.  When they had enjoyed the game to their hearts’ content, they departed in great good humor, and their relieved and weary entertainer went back to bed.  His associations with the Indians were not all of a laughable character.  In 1792, at Wheeling, his father was, on Good Friday evening, attacked, killed, and scalped by nine Indians, while on the way to warn a neighbor of their approach.

             Robert Edgar first visited Dayton in 1795 as one of the surveying party led by Mr. Cooper, and settled here in 1796.  Though a farmer, he was also a good mechanic, and built and ran mills for Mr. Cooper at Dayton, and for Mr. Robinson upon Mad River.  He was a soldier in the War of 1812 in one of the companies of mounted rangers from this county, and his sword is now in possession of his son, John F. Edgar.  Robert Edgar was born in Staunton, Virginia, in 1770, and emigrated to Ohio before 1795.  At Cincinnati, September 27, 1798, he married Mrs. Margaret Kirkwood.  Mr. and Mrs. Edgar had a large family, but only five lived past childhood.  Jan Allen, born November 24, 1800, married Augustus George, December 4, 1817, and died in 1824; descendants in Dayton, the children of the late George H. Phillips.  Robert A., born October 10, 1803, married Catherine Iddings; died in 1833.  Samuel D., born March 26, 1806 married Minerva A. Jones, August 5, 1845; died October 1, 1874.  He has a number of grandchildren, the children of two daughters and a son.  Mary, born April 8, 1811, married, May 10, 1831, Stephen Johnston; died July 25, 1849.  John F., born October 29, 1814, alone survives.  He married, April 20, 1843, Effie A. Rogers.  He has three daughters- Jeanne, Isabel, and Elizabeth Edgar. 

            In the fall of 1800 the first store in Dayton was opened in a room of the second story of Newcom’s Tavern by a Mr. McDougal from Detroit.  Though this store was a great convenience to the villagers and the country for forty miles around, McDougal’s chief trade was with Indians, who came here for that purpose.

            In 1804 Henry Brown, prominent in the early history of our city, built on Main Street, near the High School, a frame building for a store- the first house erected here specially for business purposes.  Since 1795 he had been engaged in the Indian trade, having stores at Fort Hamilton and Fort Laramie, and, as stated, in 1804 at Dayton, in partnership with Mr. Sunderland.  Three generations of his descendants have been well known in our city.   The agents of his firm were camped on all the streams for many miles in every direction from Dayton, wherever Indians could be reached.  Traders, accompanied by packhorses laden with goods, took long, lonely, dangerous journeys through the wilderness, lasting several months, to Indian villages.  Some of their goods were shipped in flatboats or pirogues down the rivers to Cincinnati and New Orleans.

            Henry Brown was born near Lexington, Virginia, about 1770.  In 1793 he came to the Northwest Territory as military secretary for Colonel Preston, who was in command of a regiment in Wayne’s army.  February 19, 1811, he married Katherine, daughter of Colonel Robert Patterson.  Mr. Brown died in 1825.  Mr. and Mrs. Brown had three children: R. P. Brown, born December 6, 1811, married Sarah Galloway, October 31, 1837; died May 4, 1879.  Henry L. Brown, born December 3, 1814, married Sarah Belle Browning, February 7, 1837; died November 25, 1878.  Eliza J. Brown, born in Dayton, October 30, 1816, married Charles Anderson, September 16, 1835.  R. P. and Henry L. Brown were men of the finest character, influential in many directions, and held in the highest regard by their fellow-citizens.

            The first flatboat that left Dayton was owned by David Lowry.  It started on the two months’ trip to New Orleans during the spring freshet of 1799, and was loaded with grain, pelts, and 500 venison hams.

            The nine cabins which in 1799 constituted Dayton, contained only a few home-made benches, stools, beds, tables, and cupboards, often of buckeye and beechwood.  Doddridge in his “Notes” says that a pioneer’s table furniture consisted of “some old pewter dishes and plates; the rest, wooden bowls or trenchers, or gourds, and hard-shelled squashes.  A few pewter spoons, much battered about the edges, were to be seen on some tables.  The rest were made of horn.  If knives were scarce, the deficiency was made up by the scalping-knives, which were carried in sheaths suspended from the belt of the hunting-shirt.”  The cabin was warmed and lighted wholly by the huge open hickory fire, over which, in pots suspended from cranes or on the coals or in the ashes, the cooking was done.  At an early date the pioneers raised flax, hemp, and wool, and the women spun, wove, and dyed, with colors made from walnut and butternut hulls or wild roots, the fabrics from which they made the clothes of the family.  Every cabin had its spinning-wheel and loom, the latter built by the ingenious pioneer weaver, Abraham Glassmire.  One wonders whether pioneer women were really harder worked than their granddaughters.  They had little to occupy or amuse them outside their own homes- no benevolent societies, clubs, receptions, calls, concerts, or lectures, and only occasional church services.  They had only one or two rooms to keep in order, and no pictures, books, curtains, carpets, rugs, table- and bed-linen, bric-a-brac, china, glass, or silver to take care of.  Their wardrobes were scanty, and the weekly washing must have been small.  Wheat flour could not be obtained; corn hoe-cake, ash-cake, Johnny-cake, dodgers, pone, hominy, and mush and milk were principal articles of diet.  Meal was slowly and laboriously ground in handmills.  Wild plums, crab-apples, blackberries and strawberries, sweetened with maple sugar, furnished with jellies and preserves.  There was an abundance of wild honey, and of wild goose and turkey and duck eggs.  They often tired of venison, bears’ meat, rabbits, squirrels, wild turkeys, ducks, geese, quail, and pheasants, and longed for pork.  There was great rejoicing, no doubt, when, in 1799, Mr. Cooper introduced hogs.  In 1800 sheep were first brought here.  The rivers were full of bass, catfish, pickerel, pike, eels, and sunfish. 

            Benjamin Van Cleve says in his autobiography that, in July and August, 1799, “the Indians were counseling and evinced an unfriendly disposition.  The British traders and French among them had made them dissatisfied with the cession of their lands and with the boundaries, and blockhouses were built at Dayton and all through the country, and the people became considerably alarmed.”  The Dayton blockhouse stood on the present site of the soldiers’ monument, and was built of round logs, with a projecting upper story.  The men in town and surrounding country kept strict watch, and were all armed and ready to take refuge, if necessary, with their families, in the blockhouse.  But it was never used for protection against Indians.  For a short time it was the village church and school-house.  In the first story, the year it was built, the Presbyterians held their Sunday services, and the same year Benjamin Van Cleve taught there the first school ever opened in Dayton- another reason why the park which the High School overlooks should be named for him.  In his journal for 1799-1800, he says: “On the 1st of September I commenced teaching a small school.  I had reserved time to gather my corn, and kept school until the last of October.”  He harvested a fine crop by the first week in November.  Vacation lasted part of December; for, after harvest, he went to Cincinnati to assist the clerk of the House of Representatives of the first Territorial Legislature.  He was well suited to such work.  He held the office of clerk of the Montgomery Court of Common Pleas from 1802 till his death in 1821, and was postmaster from 1804 to 1821, being the first to hold either office in Dayton.

            After Mr. Van Cleve’s return from Cincinnati, he “kept school about three months longer.”  It is said that, as books were difficult to procure, he taught the alphabet and spelling from charts prepared by himself.  They were, no doubt, beautifully written and colored, for his penmanship was remarkable for elegance and legibility, and his diary or autobiography is illustrated by plans and maps neatly executed in India ink and water colors.  He was a skillful surveyor and engineer, and like those of General W. C. Schenck (father of Admiral and General R. C. Schenck) and other contemporaries of his profession, the papers and accounts which descendants of people for whom he did business still preserve are not only correct in form and substance, but beautiful pieces of work, and often ornamented by a large and artistic monogram of the employer.

            In 1801 Mr. Van Cleve was appointed county surveyor.  In 1812 the President of the United States appointed him and two other commissioners “to explore, survey, and mark a road by the most eligible course from the foot of the rapids of the Miami of Lake Erie to the western line of the Connecticut Reserve, and a road to run southwardly from Lower Sandusky to the boundary line established by the treaty of Greenville.”

            Mr. Van Cleve’s autobiography or “Memoranda,” as he styled it, now in the possession of Mrs. Thomas Dover, widow of a grandson, is a very curious and valuable book.  It has never been printed in full.  This sturdy little manuscript volume, written in a hand as graceful and legible as the best type, and bound in strong, square leather covers, which, like the heavy paper within, are dark with age, has, though studied by several historians, and read by many others, been so carefully guarded by the appreciative descendants of the writer that time and use have injured it very little.

            Mr. Van Cleve’s life after 1796 is so much a part of the history of Dayton that it seems more appropriate and interesting to describe the incidents that occurred during that period under the proper dates in our story, than to give them in a continuous biography.  His childhood and youth, while not spent in Dayton, were filled with hardship as well as romantic adventure of a kind that made him master of all his faculties, and this severe discipline developed the character that rendered him one of the most useful and progressive founders an citizens of the struggling village in the Mad River country.  Therefore, a somewhat detailed account of his early years will be both interesting and profitable.  He is worthy of being held up as an example to the boys in our public schools.  Some of his traits are of the kind that appeal most strongly to boy nature.

            In his Memoranda, which he states was written for the instruction and amusement of his children, Mr. Van Cleve sets down for their guidance the rules by which he regulated his own valuable life.  He tells them that he made it a point to be polite and obliging to all with whom he was connected in business, whether he stood to them in the relation of employer or employee.  And in his obituary it is stated that he “recommended himself to esteem by his agreeable manner of doing business.”  He regarded justice, honor, and integrity as the best policy, though it was not this inferior motive but a higher one that led to him to pursue that upright and public-spirited career which won the respect and admiration of his fellow-citizens.  He was a religious man and a member of the Presbyterian Church.  He took an active part in promoting the best interests of his town and State, and was a trustee of several literary institutions.  In the Memoranda he dwells upon the fact that he always had a place for everything and a set time for the performance of each duty, and he exhorted his children above all to form similar systematic, accurate, and methodical habits.

            Benjamin Van Cleve began to keep a diary at a very early age, and not long before his death in 1821 he condensed and revised his journals, copying them into the volume from which the material for his biography is drawn.  His Memoranda contains, perhaps, the most accurate and graphic description of St. Clair’s defeat that has been written; and from the Memoranda has also been obtained the only reliable account of the settlement of Dayton.  The Memoranda, supplemented by the files of early newspapers which he preserved, constitutes him literally the historian of Dayton from 1795 to 1821. 

            Benjamin Van Cleve’s ancestors came to Flatbush, Long Island, from Amsterdam, Holland, in the seventeenth century, and from thence removed to Staten Island, and finally settled in New Jersey.  He was born February 24, 1773, in Monmouth County, New Jersey, and was the eldest child of John and Catherine Benham Van Cleve.  He had three brothers and five sisters.  His father was a blacksmith.

            Mr. Van Cleve’s earliest recollection was of the battle of Monmouth, on the 28th of June, 1778.  Late in life he could well remember the confusion of women and children, and their flight to the pine swamps just before the engagement, though he was only five years old at the time.  When about a mile from home the refugees came in sight of the enemy, and paused to consult what course to pursue.  The Monmouth men went in search of the American army, and Benjamin Van Cleve, “becoming separated from the rest of his family, aimed,” he tells us in the Memoranda, “to return home.”  When within a short distance of the enemy, the bugles drove the child, who in the confusion had not been missed, back to the place where his relatives were collected.  The refugees could hear the firing distinctly, and judge from the sound which side was advancing or receding.  “When our army was retreating, many of the men were melted to tears; when it was advancing, there was every demonstration of joy and exultation.”  The next day John Van Cleve and his brothers “acted as guides to separate companies of Colonel Morgan’s riflemen, and reconnoitered the British right flank, took a number of prisoners, and took and recaptured a great deal of property.”

            When, on the retreat of the British, John Van Cleve brought his family back from the pine swamps, he found nothing to mark the site of his home but a naked and blackened chimney, stumps of apple trees, and the bodies of animals killed by the British.  He “had,” his son says, “neither a shelter for his family, nor bread for them, nor clothing to cover them excepting what they had on.  He saved a bed and a looking-glass, which we carted with us.  A yearling heifer had escaped the enemy, and a sow, with a back broken by a sword, lived.  My father’s anvil remained, I believe, amidst the rubbish and ruins of the shop.  Several wagons and an artillery carriage were burnt in the shop; the pieces of artillery had been thrown into a pool of muddy water in the middle of the road, and were not found by the enemy.”  The Tories committed depredations both by land and by sea on the Monmouth County people, and for this reason the militia were till the end of the war almost constantly on duty.  John Van Cleve was “from home on this service a great part of the time, and he was in some skirmishes with the Tories and British.  He was also under General Forman at the battle of Germantown.”

            In November, 1785, John Van Cleve removed with his family and several relatives and friends from Freehold, New Jersey, to Pennsylvania.  The party traveled with three wagons, two of which contained Van Cleve’s blacksmith tools, provisions, and household furniture.  The emigrants had an uncomfortable and fatiguing journey up and down the icy or snowy Alleghany Mountain roads, which, “being only opened sufficient for wagons to pass, and neither dug nor leveled, also winding in both ascent and descent,” there was constant danger of upsetting.  “To undertake the crossing,” Benjamin Van Cleve wrote, “with loaded wagons required a considerable degree of resolution and fortitude.”  The horses were soon nearly exhausted from the hard pulling through the deep snow, which balled in their feet.  Sometimes the wagons stuck in the mud or broke down.  The women and children suffered very much from cold and exposure.  Benjamin Van Cleve writes on November 17: “Tarried to repair our wagons, and the women were employed in baking and booking.”  November 18: “Froze considerable last night.  The roads are filled with ice.  Came this day to Mr. McShay’s on Sideling Hill.  The House was so crowded with travelers that, notwithstanding the cold, we were obliged to encamp in the woods.  The horses and men are very much fatigued, having spent near half the day getting up this hill, which is steep and stony, and the road winds back and forth to gain the summit.  We had to put six horses to a wagon and bring one up at a time.”  They reached their journey’s end on the 8th of December. 

            The greater part of the time between 1786 and 1789 the Van Cleves spent on a farm near Washington, Pennsylvania.  In December, 1789, the family emigrated to Cincinnati, making the journey by water, and arriving the day after General St. Clair changed the name of the town, which had previously been called Losantiville.  Benjamin Van Cleve settled on land on the east bank of the Licking River, belonging to Major Leech, who, wishing to open a farm for himself, offered a hundred acres of unimproved ground for each ten-acre field cleared by a settler, with the use for three years of the improved land. 

            Benjamin Van Cleve hoped, with the assistance of his father’s labor, to secure at least one hundred acres, but the latter’s death prevented the fulfillment of their expectations.  A fortified station was built on Leech’s land, and four families and four single men went out to the place to live.  The Indians were very troublesome and daring in 1791, skulking through the streets of Cincinnati and the gardens near Fort Washington at night.  On the 21st of May they fired on John Van Cleve while he was at work in his field near the village and captured a man named Cutter, who was standing within a few yards of him.  “The alarm was given by halloing from lot to lot, until it reached the town.”  Benjamin Van Cleve came in from Leech’s Station just as the news of the attack was received at Cincinnati, and saw the villagers running to the public grounds.  He followed them, and there met with a man who had seen the Indians firing on his father.  He asked if any would go to the rescue with him, “and pushed on without halting.”  After running a short distance the party met John Van Cleve.  “While we were finding the trail of the Indians on their retreat,” Benjamin writes, “perhaps forty persons had arrived, most of whom joined in the pursuit; but by the time we gained the top of the river hills, we had only eight.”  They kept the Indians “on the full run till dark,” but were obliged to return to Cincinnati at night without recapturing Cutter.  A few days later, on the 1st of June, John Van Cleve was again attacked by Indians while working in his own lot.  “A naked Indian,” Benjamin says, “sprang upon him; my father was seen to throw him, but at this time the Indian was plunging his knife into his heart.  He took a small scalp off and ran.  The men behind came up immediately, but my father was already dead.”

            One of John Van Cleve’s daughters was married, but he left four younger children, who were not old enough to support themselves.  “I immediately resolved,” Benjamin Van Cleve says, “to supply the place of father to them to the utmost of my ability, and I feel a consolation in having fulfilled my duty towards them as well as my mother.  My father had not many debts or engagements to fulfill.  I paid some debts by my labor (all that he owed) as a day-laborer, and my brother-in-law assisted me in building a house he had undertook, and received the pay for my mother.”  “After the funeral of my father, I returned and planted my corn, but was obliged to divide my time and bestow the greater part at Cincinnati for the benefit of the family.  I settled my father’s books, fulfilled his engagements, and sold his blacksmith’s tools to the quartermaster-general.” 

            For a number of years Benjamin Van Cleve was burdened with the support of his mother and the family, and had a hard struggle with poverty.  He was young and ignorant of the world, and felt the need of counsel.  Many depended on him, and there was no one to whom he could turn for help, or with whom he could share his responsibilities.  “Happy he who has, at this period of life,” he wrote years afterwards, at a date when his own carefully nurtured son had recently graduated with honor from Ohio University, “a father or friend whose experience will afford him a chart; whose kind advice will serve as a compass to direct him.”

            Benjamin Van Cleve was all his life a lover of good books and good men, and though he enjoyed very limited educational advantages, he became noted for intelligence, information, and elevation of character.  Vice seems to have had but slight charm for him; but no doubt the thought of his helpless family would have restrained one of his affectionate nature and spurred him to exert himself to the uttermost had he been tempted to fall into idle and dissipated habits.  He was obliged to seek work wherever he could find it, and could not afford to be nice in his choice of associates.  “Had my fortitude and resolution,” he says, “been weaker, they might have been overcome, for my companions for several years were of the most profane and dissipated, such as followers of the army and mostly discharged soldiers.”

            In the summer of 1791 he obtained employment in the quartermaster’s department, and on the 8th of August set off for Kentucky, where his uncle, Captain Benham, was commissioned by the Government to buy artillery horses for St. Clair’s army.  Van Cleve received the purchased horses at Lexington, branded them, and pastured them in the neighborhood of the town.  In about two weeks a drove was collected and taken to Cincinnati.  Captain Benham was very ill on their return from Kentucky, and his nephew was obliged to do all his writing, keep his accounts, and attend to his other business.

            On the 3d of September Benham and Van Cleve left Fort Washington, Cincinnati, for the army, with three or four brigades of packhorses, loaded with armorer’s and artificer’s tools.  The armorers were armed and marched with the brigades, but would have proved a weak escort had the Indians attacked them.  Benham’s party overtook the troops at a place thirty or forty miles beyond Fort Hamilton, and marched with them to Fort Jefferson, which was not completed.  At the end of five days Benham and Van Cleve returned with six brigades, leaving five at Hamilton and taking one on to Fort Washington.  They were ordered back to transport provisions from Cincinnati to the army, which was reduced to short allowance, the failure of the Colonel Duer, the contractor, having thrown all military arrangements into confusion.  The packhorsemen returned as soon as possible with their loads, and overtook the army on the 31st of October twenty-two miles beyond Fort Jefferson.  They found poor St. Clair so ill with the gout as to be carried in a litter.  The Kentucky militia had just deserted in a body, and the evening of the day that Benham’s party arrived in camp the first regiment was dispatched to bring the deserters back, and also to escort in provisions that were then on the way.

            Benjamin Van Cleve had been entered on the pay-roll of the army as a packhorseman, at fifteen dollars pay per month.  He worked hard to earn his wages.  Each brigade of packhorse drew its rations separately.  As he kept the accounts and also communicated orders, he had a great deal of writing to do.  In addition to his ordinary duties, he was often obliged to take care of his own and his uncle’s horses.  Sometimes it was necessary to carry part of the stores or provisions lashed on the back of the animal he was accustomed to ride, and foot it himself through the mud in the roughest manner.  Captain Benham had a large marquee, or horseman’s tent, which, as it was very roomy, he occasionally asked officers to share.  “Having sometimes to be in the company of officers and sometimes in the mud,” Van Cleve was induced on his expeditions to the army to take all his clothes with him, and they made a heavy and unwieldly pack.

            At daybreak on the 2d of November, while, in obedience to orders, packing his cumbersome luggage on his horse in preparation for the return to Cincinnati, he heard firing and was soon witnessing his first battle.  It was not long till his horse was shot down, and instead of lamenting the accident he was glad of it; for he now felt at liberty to share in the engagement, expecting much pleasure from the turmoil and excitement of the battle, which, in his ignorance of the condition of the army and of the uncertainties of Indian warfare, hw was confident would end victoriously for our troops.  In a few moments he provided himself with a gun obtained from a man who was wounded in the arm, began firing, and till the retreat was commenced was in the thick of the fight.  He escaped unhurt, though he lost his horse and all his clothes; but Captain Benham and Daniel Bonham, a young man brought up by Benham, and whom Van Cleve regarded as a brother, were both wounded.

            The ground was soon “literally covered with dead and dying men, and the commander gave orders to take the way,” that is, to retreat.  Van Cleve joined a party of eight or nine men whom he saw start on a run a little to the left of where he was.  When they had gone about two miles, a boy, who had been thrown or fell off a horse, begged Van Cleve’s assistance, and he ran, pulling the boy along, about two miles farther, until both had become nearly exhausted.  Seeing two horses approaching, one of which carried three men and the other two, Van Cleve managed to throw the lad up behind the two men.  Though afterwards thrown off, the boy escaped and got safely home. Van Cleve did not see Bonham on the retreat, but understood that his body was found in the winter on the battlefield and buried. 

            Van Cleve was taken with cramp during the retreat and could hardly walk, “till he got within a hundred yards of the rear, where the Indians were tomahawking the old and wounded men.”  Here he stopped to “tie his pocket-handkerchief around a man’s wounded knee.”  The Indians were close in pursuit at this time and he almost despaired of escaping.  He threw off his shoes and the coolness of the ground revived him.  “I again,” he says, “began a trot, and recollect that when a bend in the road offered, and I got before half a dozen persons, I thought it would occupy some time for the enemy to massacre them before my turn would come.  By the time I had got to Stillwater, about eleven miles, I had gained the center of the flying troops, and, like them, came to a walk.  I fell in with Lieutenant Shaumberg, who I think was the only officer of artillery that got away unhurt, with Corporal Mott and a woman who was called ‘Redheaded Nance.’  The latter two were crying.  Mott was lamenting the loss of his wife, and Nance that of an infant child.  Shaumberg was nearly exhausted, and hung on Mott’s arm.  I carried his fusee and accouterments and led Nance; and in this sociable way we arrived at Fort Jefferson a little after sunset.”

            Benham and Van Cleve immediately went on with Colonel Drake and others, who were ordered forward to dispatch provisions to the troops.  After marching a few miles the party was so overcome with fatigue that they halted.  A packhorseman “had stolen at Fort Jefferson one pocketful of flour and the other full of beef.”  Another of the men had a kettle.  Benjamin Van Cleve groped about in the dark until he found some water in a hole, out of which a tree had been blown by the root.  They then made a kettle of soup, of which each of the party got a little.  After supping they marched four or fives miles farther, when a sentinel was set and they lay down and slept.  They were worn out with fatigue, and their feet knocked to pieces against the roots in the night and by splashing through the ice without shoes, for “the ground was covered with snow and the flats filled with water frozen over, the ice as thick as a knife-blade.”  On the 6th of November they reached Hamilton and were out of danger. 

            On the 25th of November Benham and his nephew were paid off and discharged at Fort Washington.  A week later Van Cleve entered the service of the new army contractors, Elliot & Williams, and started the same day for the Falls of the Ohio to bring up a boat-load of salt.  When he returned he was employed by the contractors to feed and take charge of a herd of cattle through the winter.  In the spring, when the cattle were turned out to pasture near Cincinnati, he went on a twelve days’ trip by boat to Fort Hamilton.  Afterwards for a short time he was in charge or horses belonging to the quartermaster at a camp three miles up the Licking River. 

            The evening of the 10th of May, 1792, he was expected at Cincinnati to draw provisions.  He arrived about dark and found that the quartermaster had determined to send him express to Philadelphia, and had been to his mother’s, had his clothes packed, a horse saddled, and everything ready for the journey.  He received his instructions from the quartermaster and commandant, and started before midnight accompanied by Captain Kimberland.  Forty dollars were given to him, which were expected to be “equal to his expenses” and he was ordered to take the most direct route to Philadelphia, which at that day was via Lexington, Kentucky, and Crab Orchard, Cumberland Mountains, Powell’s Valley, Abingdon, Bolecourt, Lexington, Stauton, Martinsburg, Louisa, Hagerstown, Maryland, York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  He traveled with as little delay as possible by day or by night.  On reaching Crab Orchard eighteen persons joined him.  The party was armed with five guns and five pistols.  The trip, on account of the Indian alarms and rainy weather, was very disagreeable. 

            Van Cleve reached Philadephia June 7, 1792, and delivered his dispatches next day.  He went to the War Department every morning at ten o’clock to see if there were any commands for him, and at last General Knox ordered him to go to New York to conduct thither a pair of fine horses which the heads of the department had presented to Captain Joseph Brant, chief of the Six Nations.  Van Cleve was directed to leave the horses in the care of Mr. Edward Bardin, of the City Tavern, taking his receipt and requesting him to deliver them to Captain Brant on the latter’s arrival in New York.  Mr. Van Cleve replied that he would be glad to go to New York, but that, if he went, money to pay his expenses must be furnished him by the Government.  General Knox was much excited by this answer, swore at the young man, and declared that it took more for his expenses than would support the Duke of Mecklenburg!  Whereupon Van Cleve waxed wroth.  “I suppose,” he says, “he was in jest, but I felt nettled, and observed that I ate three times a day, as I was accustomed to do at home, and my horse had to have hay and oats; that I had been on expense for forty or fifty days and on forty dollars; and that I was a small matter behind with my landlord.”  Knox made no further objections, but ordered the necessary money to be paid to Van Cleve. 

            Captain Brant arrived by stage at the City Tavern on June 29, just as his horses stopped at the door, so that he gave his own receipt for the animals.  It is stated in the Memoranda that the chief was “quite intelligent and communicative, wrote a decent hand, and was dressed more than half in the fashion of the whites.”

            Mr. Van Cleve returned to Philadelphia on the 30th of June.  Knox gave him leave of absence until the 11th of July to visit relatives in New Jersey.  During his stay in Philadelphia he amused himself visiting friends, attending the play, drawing a plan of President Washington’s new house, which was then building, and reading all the books he could get hold of.  He purchased twenty-five volumes.  He boarded with a Quaker family, and found profit and pleasure in attending the Friends’ meeting and in reading Barclay’s “Apology” and others of their books.  “The landlord and landlady,” he says, “assumed the exercise of parental authority over me, the same as over their own son.  I believe I was more obedient to them, and a considerable share of mutual attachment took place.  I felt regret at parting from them, and my good mother shed tears on the occasion.”

            He left Philadelphia on the 25th of July with dispatches for General Wayne, who was at Wheeling, and for Colonel Cushing, the commandant at Fort Washington.  On his return journey he followed the route over the Alleghanies he had traveled when emigrating from New Jersey in 1789, and found the roads much improved.  On the way he turned aside to visit relatives, and was slightly reprimanded by General Wayne for his delay in delivering the dispatches.  The journey from Wheeling to Cincinnati was made by river.  The party occupied two boats, commanded by Ensign Hunter, a sergeant, and corporal, who were conducting to Ohio twenty-one recruits enlisted in New Jersey.  One boat was loaded with oats and corn, and the other had onboard a quantity of cannon-ball, two pieces of artillery, and a few boxes of shoes.  Four recruits deserted at Wheeling, and Van Cleve turned out with a party of soldiers to search for them, but the men escaped capture.  A good deal of whisky was drunk on board the boats, and the soldiers were “mellow” during nearly the whole voyage.  One of the men entertained his companions by singing for half a day at a time.  Ensign Hunter and his wife frequently visited Van Cleve’s boat, and when alone with the soldiers he amused himself reading the twenty-five books he had bought at Philadelphia, finishing nearly all of them before he reached Cincinnati on the 3d of August, 1792.  One day he and the sergeant and another person landed for a deer hunt, overtaking the boats further down the river.

            Van Cleve’s expenses during his absence of one hundred and fourteen days were $114.56 2/3.  He served a month in the quartermaster’s department after his return.  Through some misunderstanding, he did not receive his pay for his services as express till the 15th of March, 1793.  “I became tired and disgusted,” he says, “with their arrogant and ungenerous treatment, and in want of the money I begged that they would pay me something- anything that they thought I merited.  There was no mail nor way for me to make it known or get redress at Philadelphia, and they were so good as to pay me five shillings per day.”  Yet the quartermaster professed to be satisfied with the manner in which he had discharged his duties, and with the bills of expense.  “Paid Israel Ludlow for my lots in Cincinnati,” he says, after concluding his account of the trip to Philadelphia, “got bills of sale for them, and cleared and fenced them.  I labored intolerably hard, so as to injure my health, and raised a fine crop of corn.”

            In the winter of 1793 Van Cleve and Stacey McDonough engaged with the army contractors, Elliott & Williams, to bring up salt and other articles from the Falls of the Ohio to Cincinnati.  The contractors furnished a board and one hundred-weight of flour for each trip, and paid six shillings sixpence freight per barrel.  Van Cleve and his companions took the boat down themselves, but engaged hands at five dollars per week in Kentucky (where the farmers, when their summer work was over, were glad to get employment in the public service), who agreed to be ready, on certain days when the cargo for the return voyage was collected, to assist in loading the boat.  They brought up one boat-load of salt and two of corn.  By the 1st of December Van Cleve cleared seventy-five dollars.  They then reëngaged with the contractors at fifteen dollars per month and went for a boat-load of salt, but did not receive their freight till January 1, 1794.  The river was almost frozen over and they had a tedious return trip, not reaching Cincinnati till January 25.

            In February, 1794, Captain Benham employed Benjamin Van Cleve to open a sutler’s store at Fort Greenville, the headquarters at this date of Wayne’s legion.  He took six packhorses to Greenville, loaded with stores and liquors, and in March returned to Cincinnati for another six-horse load.  This was an unfortunate undertaking.  He was twice robbed while at the fort, losing over fifty dollars in money, all his clothes, and some small articles.  He also got into trouble at headquarters through a misunderstanding, sold the sutler’s store, and left Fort Greenville penniless. 

            On the 16th of May he again engaged in the contractors’ employ, and on the 24th was sent down the Ohio to Fort Massac with two boats loaded with provisions.  A detachment of infantry and artillery commanded by Major Doyle and Captain Guion, and eight Chickasaw Indians, accompanied them.  There were ten boats in the little fleet, which were directed to proceed in exact order.  Van Cleve’s boat, number seven, was heavily loaded and weak in hands, so that when all were rowing it could not keep up, and when all were drifting it outwent the other boats.  As the major had the reputation of being haughty, arbitrary, and imperious, and had been nicknamed “King Doyle,” Van Cleve thought it useless to explain matters to him.  Sometimes number seven would be ten miles ahead in the morning, and it would take the others with hard rowing half the day to overtake it.  “The men,” the Memoranda relates, “by that time would be pretty much fatigued, and we could managed to keep our place until night.  We generally received a hearty volley of execrations for our disobedience of his orders.  We returned mild excuses and determined to repeat the offense.”

            At Saline, on June 11, “I observed,” Van Cleve says, “a fire on shore, and hailed, when two Canadian French hunters came to use with their canoes loaded with skins, bears’ oil, and dogs.  One of them had passed twenty-six years in the wilderness between Vincennes and the Illinois River.  Before morning we found three others, who went along with us to hunt for us.”  The boats reached Fort Massac June 12.  On the 26th of June “King Doyle” unjustly ordered the arrest of Van Cleve and his comrades.  That day there arrived at Fort Massac a number of men who had been enlisted in Tennessee by officers who had received commissions from Citizen Genêt, ambassador from the French Republic to the United States.  The real object of the visit of these French recruits was probably to examine the place, and ascertain the strength of the force assembled there; but they stated that, having nothing else to do, they had volunteered to escort some salt-boats to Nashville, and had stopped out of curiosity to see the soldiers.  They invited Van Cleve and his companions to take passage in their boat, and as the former was anxious to return home the offer was accepted.  Neither Van Cleve nor his associates were interested in Genêt’s projects.   One of Van Cleve’s party who had a public rifle went up to restore it to the major, who, angry at his departure, cursed and struck him, and ordered him and his friends, who were in the boat but heard the command, to be taken to the guard-house.  “The Major,” Van Cleve states, “was walking backward and forward on top of the bank.  With my gun in one hand and tomahawk in the other, and a knife eighteen inches long hanging at my side, dressed in a hunting-frock, breechcloth, and leggings, my countenance probably manifesting my excitement, I leaped out of the boat, and with a very quick step went up to the Major.  I looked like a savage, and the Major, mistaking my intention, was alarmed and retired as I advanced.”  Finally, matters were explained to the satisfaction of both, and Van Cleve consented to remain till the 3d of July, when the Major intended to send a boat to the Falls of the Ohio.  Van Cleve and his friends left on the appointed day, but growing tired of the society of the soldiers, determined on the 9th, at Red Banks, to make the remainder of the journey by land.

            Red Banks was on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky, and, as it was unknown as yet to which the place belonged, it was a lawless region and a refuge for thieves and rogues of all kinds who had “been able to effect their escape from justice in the neighboring States.”  At Red Banks our travelers saw a fellow named Kuykendall, who “always carried in his waistcoat pockets ‘devil’s claws,’ or rather weapons that he could slip his fingers in, and with which he would take off the whole side of a man’s face at one claw.”  Kuykendall had just been married and a close of which festivities the bridegroom was murdered by some of the guests. 

            On July 11 the travelers reached Green River.  They each made a raft with an armful of wood and a grapevine to carry their gun and clothes “and then taking the vines in their mouth swan the river, dragging their rafts after them.”  During the four succeeding days they passed through an uninhabited wilderness.  July 26 they arrived at Cincinnati.  Spies employed by Wayne’s army had just come in for ammunition and were going to return on foot.  They invited Van Cleve to join them, and he regretted that his feet and clothes were both almost worn out, and as he was unable to stand the journey he was obliged to decline the offer.

            On the 28th of July he was employed by the contractors to drive a drove of cattle to Fort Greenville.  Nearly the whole of August he was very ill at Cincinnati.  On his recovery, after paying doctor’s and board bills and for some clothes, he had but a dollar left.  Accordingly, though so weak that he could hardly walk, he engaged with the contractors to drive cattle to the army then at Fort Wayne, and was occupied with this business till December.  In January, 1795, he entered into partnership at Cincinnati with his brother-in-law, Jerome Holt, and Captain John Schooley.  They farmed and also hauled quartermaster’s supplies to Fort Washington and the outposts in their six-horse wagon.  Van Cleve “worked hard, lived poor, and was very economical, and had about as much when he quit as when he began.”

            In the fall of 1795 he accompanied Captain Dunlap to make the survey of the land purchased for the Dayton settlement.  Surveyors endured much hardship.  A hunter and a spy always accompanied surveying parties, for they were obliged to supply themselves with food from the woods, and to be on the watch against attacks from wandering bands of Indians.  On the 26th of September Van Cleve records that their horse was missing, though he had been well secured when they camped for the night.  Indians had probably stolen him.  They hunted for him all day, but did not find him; and were thenceforth obliged to carry the baggage themselves, though traveling on foot.  When they arrived at the mouth of the Mad River, the site of Dayton, they found six Wyandot Indians camped there.  At first both the white and the red men were a little alarmed; but they talked together, and discussed mutual grievances.  Van Cleve’s father had been killed by Indians, and the Wyandots had suffered in like manner from the white man.  They admitted that both sides had reason for complaint, and that both were to blame, and they soon became friends and exchanged presents.  “They gave us,” Van Cleve says, “some venison jerk, and we in return gave them a little flour, tobacco, and other small articles.  At the request of one of them, I exchanged knives, giving him a very large one, scabbard, and belt that I carried for several years, for his, which was not so valuable, with a worsted belt and a deerskin to boot.”

            The 1st of October their hunter and another man were sent forward to hunt and cook, and when, after a day of fasting and hard work, they surveyors reached camp they found that some Indians had robbed their men of most of the provisions, and “menaced their lives.”  On another occasion the surveyors fasted thirty-four hours, laboring and traveling most of the time, and the Memoranda describes the gusto with which they ate the big pot of mush and milk which was all they had for supper when at last they reached a cabin.  “October 3,” Van Cleve writes, “it rained very hard, and the surveyor got his papers all wet and was about stopping.  We had about a pound of meat, and, though we had nearly done our business, were thinking of setting off for home.  I undertook to keep the field-notes, and hit on the expedient of taking them down on tablets of wood with the point of my knife, so I could understand them and take them off again on paper.”  They returned to Cincinnati on the 4th of October. 

            On the 1st of November Van Cleve went again to Mad River.  A lottery was held, and he drew lots in and near Dayton for himself and others, and “engaged to become a settler in the spring.”  This winter, when not surveying, Benjamin Van Cleve wrote in the recorder’s office at Cincinnati.  In March, 1796, as already related, he accompanied his mother and several others to Dayton. In his diary he made this simple and characteristic record of their arrival at their new home: “April 1, 1796.  Landed at Dayton, after a passage of ten days, William Gahagan and myself having come with Thompson’s and McClure’s families in a large pirogue.”

            Van Cleve raised a very good crop of corn at Dayton this year, but most of it was destroyed.  He sold his possessions in Cincinnati, but “sunk the price of his lots.”  He gave eighty dollars for a yoke of oxen and one of them was shot, and twenty dollars for a cow and it died; so that at the close of 1796 he was about forty dollars in debt.  The next year his farming was also unsuccessful, and he lost $16.17 and gained nothing.  In the fall of 1796 he accompanied Israel Ludlow and W. C. Schenck to survey the United States military lands between the Scioto and Muskingum rivers.  “We had deep snow,” he says, “covered with crust.  The weather was cold and still, so that he could kill but little game, and we were twenty-nine days without bread, and nearly all that time without salt, and sometimes very little to eat.  We were five days- seven in company- on four meals, and they, except the last, scanty.  They consisted of a turkey, two young raccoon, and the last day some rabbits and venison, which we got from some Indians.”  In February, 1798, he began the study of surveying in Cincinnati, boarding at Captain Benham’s.  He was promised a district in the United States lands by Israel Ludlow, who had the power of filling blank commissions from the Surveyor-General, but who, as on the former occasion, never fulfilled his promise.  After completing his studies, he “assisted Avery in his tavern during the sitting of court, and for some time afterwards posted books for several persons, and wrote for a short time in the quartermaster’s department at Fort Washington.”  He had been waiting in Cincinnati all summer, hoping to be employed as a surveyor, and was now again put off.  He therefore returned to Dayton.  On his arrival, having nothing else to do, he dug a sawmill pit for D. C. Cooper, proprietor of the town.  From working in so damp and chilly a place he caught a violent cold, and had rheumatism and fever, succeeded by pleurisy.  He had been forced to sell his preemption rights and outlots in Dayton, but in 1799 rented some ground and raised an excellent crop of corn.

            In the winter of 1793 Van Cleve and Stacey McDonough engaged with the army contractors, Elliott & Williams, to bring up salt and other articles from the Falls of the Ohio to Cincinnati.  The contractors furnished a board and one hundred-weight of flour for each trip, and paid six shillings sixpence freight per barrel.  Van Cleve and his companions took the boat down themselves, but engaged hands at five dollars per week in Kentucky (where the farmers, when their summer work was over, were glad to get employment in the public service), who agreed to be ready, on certain days when the cargo for the return voyage was collected, to assist in loading the boat.  They brought up one boat-load of salt and two of corn.  By the 1st of December Van Cleve cleared seventy-five dollars.  They then reëngaged with the contractors at fifteen dollars per month and went for a boat-load of salt, but did not receive their freight till January 1, 1794.  The river was almost frozen over and they had a tedious return trip, not reaching Cincinnati till January 25.

            In February, 1794, Captain Benham employed Benjamin Van Cleve to open a sutler’s store at Fort Greenville, the headquarters at this date of Wayne’s legion.  He took six packhorses to Greenville, loaded with stores and liquors, and in March returned to Cincinnati for another six-horse load.  This was an unfortunate undertaking.  He was twice robbed while at the fort, losing over fifty dollars in money, all his clothes, and some small articles.  He also got into trouble at headquarters through a misunderstanding, sold the sutler’s store, and left Fort Greenville penniless. 

            On the 16th of May he again engaged in the contractors’ employ, and on the 24th was sent down the Ohio to Fort Massac with two boats loaded with provisions.  A detachment of infantry and artillery commanded by Major Doyle and Captain Guion, and eight Chickasaw Indians, accompanied them.  There were ten boats in the little fleet, which were directed to proceed in exact order.  Van Cleve’s boat, number seven, was heavily loaded and weak in hands, so that when all were rowing it could not keep up, and when all were drifting it outwent the other boats.  As the major had the reputation of being haughty, arbitrary, and imperious, and had been nicknamed “King Doyle,” Van Cleve thought it useless to explain matters to him.  Sometimes number seven would be ten miles ahead in the morning, and it would take the others with hard rowing half the day to overtake it.  “The men,” the Memoranda relates, “by that time would be pretty much fatigued, and we could managed to keep our place until night.  We generally received a hearty volley of execrations for our disobedience of his orders.  We returned mild excuses and determined to repeat the offense.”

            At Saline, on June 11, “I observed,” Van Cleve says, “a fire on shore, and hailed, when two Canadian French hunters came to use with their canoes loaded with skins, bears’ oil, and dogs.  One of them had passed twenty-six years in the wilderness between Vincennes and the Illinois River.  Before morning we found three others, who went along with us to hunt for us.”  The boats reached Fort Massac June 12.  On the 26th of June “King Doyle” unjustly ordered the arrest of Van Cleve and his comrades.  That day there arrived at Fort Massac a number of men who had been enlisted in Tennessee by officers who had received commissions from Citizen Genêt, ambassador from the French Republic to the United States.  The real object of the visit of these French recruits was probably to examine the place, and ascertain the strength of the force assembled there; but they stated that, having nothing else to do, they had volunteered to escort some salt-boats to Nashville, and had stopped out of curiosity to see the soldiers.  They invited Van Cleve and his companions to take passage in their boat, and as the former was anxious to return home the offer was accepted.  Neither Van Cleve nor his associates were interested in Genêt’s projects.   One of Van Cleve’s party who had a public rifle went up to restore it to the major, who, angry at his departure, cursed and struck him, and ordered him and his friends, who were in the boat but heard the command, to be taken to the guard-house.  “The Major,” Van Cleve states, “was walking backward and forward on top of the bank.  With my gun in one hand and tomahawk in the other, and a knife eighteen inches long hanging at my side, dressed in a hunting-frock, breechcloth, and leggings, my countenance probably manifesting my excitement, I leaped out of the boat, and with a very quick step went up to the Major.  I looked like a savage, and the Major, mistaking my intention, was alarmed and retired as I advanced.”  Finally, matters were explained to the satisfaction of both, and Van Cleve consented to remain till the 3d of July, when the Major intended to send a boat to the Falls of the Ohio.  Van Cleve and his friends left on the appointed day, but growing tired of the society of the soldiers, determined on the 9th, at Red Banks, to make the remainder of the journey by land.

            Red Banks was on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky, and, as it was unknown as yet to which the place belonged, it was a lawless region and a refuge for thieves and rogues of all kinds who had “been able to effect their escape from justice in the neighboring States.”  At Red Banks our travelers saw a fellow named Kuykendall, who “always carried in his waistcoat pockets ‘devil’s claws,’ or rather weapons that he could slip his fingers in, and with which he would take off the whole side of a man’s face at one claw.”  Kuykendall had just been married and a close of which festivities the bridegroom was murdered by some of the guests. 

            On July 11 the travelers reached Green River.  They each made a raft with an armful of wood and a grapevine to carry their gun and clothes “and then taking the vines in their mouth swan the river, dragging their rafts after them.”  During the four succeeding days they passed through an uninhabited wilderness.  July 26 they arrived at Cincinnati.  Spies employed by Wayne’s army had just come in for ammunition and were going to return on foot.  They invited Van Cleve to join them, and he regretted that his feet and clothes were both almost worn out, and as he was unable to stand the journey he was obliged to decline the offer.

            On the 28th of July he was employed by the contractors to drive a drove of cattle to Fort Greenville.  Nearly the whole of August he was very ill at Cincinnati.  On his recovery, after paying doctor’s and board bills and for some clothes, he had but a dollar left.  Accordingly, though so weak that he could hardly walk, he engaged with the contractors to drive cattle to the army then at Fort Wayne, and was occupied with this business till December.  In January, 1795, he entered into partnership at Cincinnati with his brother-in-law, Jerome Holt, and Captain John Schooley.  They farmed and also hauled quartermaster’s supplies to Fort Washington and the outposts in their six-horse wagon.  Van Cleve “worked hard, lived poor, and was very economical, and had about as much when he quit as when he began.”

            In the fall of 1795 he accompanied Captain Dunlap to make the survey of the land purchased for the Dayton settlement.  Surveyors endured much hardship.  A hunter and a spy always accompanied surveying parties, for they were obliged to supply themselves with food from the woods, and to be on the watch against attacks from wandering bands of Indians.  On the 26th of September Van Cleve records that their horse was missing, though he had been well secured when they camped for the night.  Indians had probably stolen him.  They hunted for him all day, but did not find him; and were thenceforth obliged to carry the baggage themselves, though traveling on foot.  When they arrived at the mouth of the Mad River, the site of Dayton, they found six Wyandot Indians camped there.  At first both the white and the red men were a little alarmed; but they talked together, and discussed mutual grievances.  Van Cleve’s father had been killed by Indians, and the Wyandots had suffered in like manner from the white man.  They admitted that both sides had reason for complaint, and that both were to blame, and they soon became friends and exchanged presents.  “They gave us,” Van Cleve says, “some venison jerk, and we in return gave them a little flour, tobacco, and other small articles.  At the request of one of them, I exchanged knives, giving him a very large one, scabbard, and belt that I carried for several years, for his, which was not so valuable, with a worsted belt and a deerskin to boot.”

            The 1st of October their hunter and another man were sent forward to hunt and cook, and when, after a day of fasting and hard work, they surveyors reached camp they found that some Indians had robbed their men of most of the provisions, and “menaced their lives.”  On another occasion the surveyors fasted thirty-four hours, laboring and traveling most of the time, and the Memoranda describes the gusto with which they ate the big pot of mush and milk which was all they had for supper when at last they reached a cabin.  “October 3,” Van Cleve writes, “it rained very hard, and the surveyor got his papers all wet and was about stopping.  We had about a pound of meat, and, though we had nearly done our business, were thinking of setting off for home.  I undertook to keep the field-notes, and hit on the expedient of taking them down on tablets of wood with the point of my knife, so I could understand them and take them off again on paper.”  They returned to Cincinnati on the 4th of October. 

            On the 1st of November Van Cleve went again to Mad River.  A lottery was held, and he drew lots in and near Dayton for himself and others, and “engaged to become a settler in the spring.”  This winter, when not surveying, Benjamin Van Cleve wrote in the recorder’s office at Cincinnati.  In March, 1796, as already related, he accompanied his mother and several others to Dayton. In his diary he made this simple and characteristic record of their arrival at their new home: “April 1, 1796.  Landed at Dayton, after a passage of ten days, William Gahagan and myself having come with Thompson’s and McClure’s families in a large pirogue.”

            Van Cleve raised a very good crop of corn at Dayton this year, but most of it was destroyed.  He sold his possessions in Cincinnati, but “sunk the price of his lots.”  He gave eighty dollars for a yoke of oxen and one of them was shot, and twenty dollars for a cow and it died; so that at the close of 1796 he was about forty dollars in debt.  The next year his farming was also unsuccessful, and he lost $16.17 and gained nothing.  In the fall of 1796 he accompanied Israel Ludlow and W. C. Schenck to survey the United States military lands between the Scioto and Muskingum rivers.  “We had deep snow,” he says, “covered with crust.  The weather was cold and still, so that he could kill but little game, and we were twenty-nine days without bread, and nearly all that time without salt, and sometimes very little to eat.  We were five days- seven in company- on four meals, and they, except the last, scanty.  They consisted of a turkey, two young raccoon, and the last day some rabbits and venison, which we got from some Indians.”  In February, 1798, he began the study of surveying in Cincinnati, boarding at Captain Benham’s.  He was promised a district in the United States lands by Israel Ludlow, who had the power of filling blank commissions from the Surveyor-General, but who, as on the former occasion, never fulfilled his promise.  After completing his studies, he “assisted Avery in his tavern during the sitting of court, and for some time afterwards posted books for several persons, and wrote for a short time in the quartermaster’s department at Fort Washington.”  He had been waiting in Cincinnati all summer, hoping to be employed as a surveyor, and was now again put off.  He therefore returned to Dayton.  On his arrival, having nothing else to do, he dug a sawmill pit for D. C. Cooper, proprietor of the town.  From working in so damp and chilly a place he caught a violent cold, and had rheumatism and fever, succeeded by pleurisy.  He had been forced to sell his preëmption rights and outlots in Dayton, but in 1799 rented some ground and raised an excellent crop of corn.

 
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