THE ADVENTURES OF A PIONEER
by Charles F. Sullivan
You folks have come here today from your homes, some upon bicycles, some in busses, and some walked, but all of you used paved streets and sidewalks, some passed factories making ammunition or war goods for our country or possibly some things to be used by ourselves for comfort or convenience. Some of you passed large buildings and stores, containing much goods in readiness for us when we have need for them. Our streets are filled with automobiles, trucks and busses both electric and gasoline driven, and in cases of trouble, we have a Police Department ready to help us at any time. Also a Fire Department all equipped for fire fighting which will be on the road in a few seconds after they are called. Many miles of streets are in this city, with houses and building upon them and these are all for our use and good. Many churches of many denominations, where we may go and worship our God in any way we desire, without any objection being raised by another. We can go to a faucet and by a turn can get plenty of water pure and cold and clean, no better can be found any where.
By pressing a button, we can get electricity to make light or power as we desire. Railroads, telephones, radios and many other conveniences are at hand for our use, is this not wonderful?
One Hundred and forty seven years ago, this city was a wilderness with wolves, deer and many other animals running wild and the only human beings to be seen were the Indians and an occasional explorer or civil engineer planning to locate a settlement here, and make this a civilized community. Does this seem possible to you? Can you see any reason for such a wonderful change in such a short time?
The reason is that many people, your grand fathers and grand mothers and their fathers and mothers back to the fourth generation, worked hard all their lives, suffering untold agony from sickness and accident risking their lives to come here and settle.
When there was danger from wild animals and Indians and in case of sickness and accident, it would not be possible to get a doctor to relieve the pain.
There is a family that has been quite influential here for four generations. Many of them have been very well to do and frequently have been slurred without reason, and I am going to show you what some of them have done and how they suffered in order to make Dayton what it is.
Col Robert Patterson was born of Scotch-Irish ancestry in Bedford county Pennsylvania March 23 1753. Since his father was called to fight in the French and Indian War and probably other Indian campaigns, this would give a warlike tendency to the son, for every boy thinks his father is just right in every way. Being raised among the mountains, gave him plenty of fresh air, good exercise and plenty to eat, so he grew up strong and healthy. He had a gun and went out hunting frequently and so became a good marksman and horseman, and learned how to get around in mountainous country. At the age of 19 he went with a party of engineers into Ohio, which gave him a little experience surveying. He enlisted with Governor Dunmore of Virginia in the war which Theodore Roosevelt said was “The opening act of the drama that closed at Yorktown.”
In the spring of 1775, Robert Patterson, then aged 22 made a definite start in pioneer life. His clothes, horse and gun were all he had.
He went to Fort Pitt, which is now Pittsburgh with three other young men, all with the same intention of settling in the new country of Kentucky. They stayed at Fort Pitt all summer and in the fall added a few others to their number and bought a boat to float themselves and their horses and cattle down the Ohio. One end of the boat was covered over to protect the people and provisions for the trip, from the weather. They tied up every evening along the Virginia and Kentucky side of the river, for the Indians did not often cross the Ohio river, so it was much safer on that side. They disembarked at Limestone, now called Maysville, (Kentuckee in the Shawanoese language means “At the head of the river”.) Taking the cattle for the party, they went up the creek and across the high land to what is now Georgetown Ky. where they stopped. Some of the party decided to settle there, so all stopped and helped to get a house built there. It was now November 1775, but Robert Patterson and James Sterritt went on further.
Night caught them where Lexington is now situated and the next morning they were so well pleased with their surroundings that they each went out and blazed trees to mark the land they were claiming for themselves.
There was a fine spring there which was a necessity for a home, and here Patterson built a cabin which served him as a home for many years. Later they called this place Lexington in 1779.
They had a few brushes with Indians at the new location. These skirmishes were incited by the British at Detroit who were backing the Indians to make war upon the colonists wherever they could be found. Many of the settlers lost their lives in this way.
Here I will quote from a book written by Mrs. Charlotte Reeve Conover, called “Concerning the Forefathers.”
“Early in October, 1776, the supply of powder and other supplies at Royal Springs Fort being nearly exhausted it became necessary for some of the unmarried men to go to Pittsburgh to procure supplies before winter should set in. Robert Patterson, then a boy of only twenty three was selected among the rest for this expedition; he was looked upon by the others and by himself, probably, as entirely able to cope with the fatigues and dangers necessary to such an enterprise. The start was made about the first of the month, the party going first to Blue Lick Springs, where they spent several days curing buffalo jerk and tallow. There were seven in the party – Robert Patterson, Joseph McNutt, David Perry, James Wernock, James Templeton, Edward Mitchell and Isaac Greer. They procured a canoe at Limestone and commenced their journey, arriving at Point Pleasant at the mouth of the Kanawha with no serious adventure. At Point Pleasant was a Fort commanded by a Captain Arbuckle, being the only white settlement between McClellan’s Fort and Grove Creek, a few miles below the present Wheeling. From this military post the young men carried dispatches for the commandant at Wheeling.
Aware that Indians were lurking all along the banks of the river, the party proceeded with the utmost care, making no fire after dark, but cooking their suppers before sunset and going on again quietly until time to seek the shore for a night’s rest. They agreed upon starting, that if any disaster should happen to them each should stand by the other, and we shall see how faithfully the compact was observed. A single narrative from the pen of Robert Patterson himself remains to us.”
“We quote the narrative entire as follows: “At length the memorable twelfth of October arrived. During the day we passed several new improvements, which occasioned us to be less watchful and careful than we had been before. Late in the evening, we landed opposite the island on the Ohio side of the river (in what is now Athens county) then called the Hock-hocking, and were beginning to flatter ourselves that we should reach some inhabitants the next day.
Having eaten nothing that day, contrary to our usual practice, we kindled a fire and cooked supper. After we had eaten and made the last of our flour into a loaf of bread, and put it into an old brass kettle to bake so that we might be ready to start again in the morning at day break, we lay down to rest, keeping the same clothes at night that we wore during the day.
For want of a better, I had on a hunting shirt and britch clout (so called) and flannel leggings. I had my powder horn and shot pouch on my side and placed the butt of my gun under my head.
Five of our company lay on the east side of the fire and James Templeton and myself on the west. We were lying on our left sides, my self in front, with my right hand hold of my gun. Templeton was lying close behind me. This was our position and asleep, when we were fired upon by a party of Indians. Immediately after the fire, they rushed upon us with tomahawks as if determined to finish the work of death they had begun. It appeared that one Indian had shot on my side of the fire. I saw the flash of the gun and felt the ball pass through me, but where I could not tell, nor was it a first painful.
I sprang to take up my gun, but my right shoulder came to the ground.
I made another effort and was half bent in getting up, when an Indian sprang past the fire with savage fierceness and struck me with his tomahawk. From the position I was in, it went between two ribs just behind the back bone, a little below the kidney, and penetrated the cavity of the body. He then immediately turned to Templeton (who had by this time gotten to his feet with his gun in hand) and seized his gun. A desperate scuffle ensued, but Templeton held on and finally bore off the gun.
In the mean time, I made from the light and in my attempt to get out of sight, I was delayed for a moment by getting my right arm fast between a tree and a sampling, but having gotten clear and away from the light of the fire, and finding that I had lost the use of my right arm, I made a shift to keep it up by drawing it through the straps of the shot pouch. I could see the crowd about the fire, but firing had ceased and the strife seemed to be over. I had reason to believe that the others were all shot and tomahawked. Hearing no one coming towards me, I resolved to go to the river, and, if possible, to get into the canoe and float down, thinking by that means I might possibly reach Point Pleasant, supposed to be about one hundred miles distant.
Just as I got on the beach a little below the canoe, an Indian in the canoe gave a whoop, which gave me to understand that it was best to withdraw. I did so, and with much difficulty, got to an old log and being very thirsty and faint and exhausted, I was glad to sit down.
I felt the blood running and heard it dropping on the dry leaves all around me. Presently, I heard the Indians board the canoe and float past me. All was silent and I felt myself in a most forlorn condition.
I could not see the fire, but determined to find it and see if any of my comrades were alive. I steered the course towards which I supposed the fire to be and having reached it found Templeton alive, but wounded in nearly the same manner that I was. James Wernock was also dangerously wounded, two balls having passed through his body.
Joseph McNutt was dead and scalped: David Perry was wounded but not badly and Isaac Greer was missing. The miseries of the hour cannot well be described.
When daylight appeared, we held a council and concluded that inasmuch as one gun and some ammunition was saved, Perry would furnish us with meat and we would proceed up the river by slow marches to the nearest settlement, supposed to be one hundred miles. A small quantity of provisions which were found scattered around the fire, was picked up and distributed among us, and a piece of blanket which was saved from the fire was given to me to cover a wound on my back. On examination, it was found that two balls had passed through my right arm and that the bone was broken; to dress this, splinters were taken from a tree near the fire that had been shivered by lightning, and placed on the outside of my hunting shirt and bound with a string. And now being in readiness to move, Perry took the gun and ammunition and we all got to our feet except Wernock who, on attempting to get up, fell back to the ground.
He refused to try again, said that he could not live, and at the same time desired us to do the best we could for ourselves. Perry then took hold of his arm and told him if he would get up he would carry him; upon this, he made another effort to get up, but falling back as before, he begged us in the most solemn manner to leave him. At his request, the old kettle was filled with water and placed at his side, which he said was the last and only favor required of us, and then conjured us to leave him and try to save ourselves, assuring us that should he live to see us again, he would cast no reflections of unkindness upon us. Thus we left him. When we had gotten a little distance, I looked back and, distressed and hopeless as Wernock’s condition really was, I felt to envy him. After going about one hundred poles, we were obliged to stop and rest, and found ourselves too sick and weak to proceed. Another consultation being held, it was agreed that Templeton and myself should remain there with Edward Mitchell and Perry should take the gun and go to the nearest settlement and seek relief. Perry promised that if he could not procure assistance, he would be back in four days. He then returned to the camp and found Wernock in the same state of mind as when we left, perfectly rational and sensible of his condition, replenished his kettle with water, brought us some fire and started for the settlement.
Alike unable to go back or forward, and being very thirsty, we set about getting water from a small stream that happened to be near us, our only drinking vessel being an old wool hat which was so broken that it was with some difficulty made to hold water, but by stuffing leaves in it, we made it hold so that each one could drink from once filling it. Nothing could have been a greater luxury to us than a drink of water from the old hat. Just at night Mitchell returned to see if Wernock was still living, intending, if he was dead, to get the kettle for us. He arrived just in time to see him expire; but not choosing to leave him until he should be certain that he was dead, he stayed with him until darkness came on, and when he attempted to return to us, he got lost and lay from us all night. We suffered much that night from want of fire and through fear that he was either killed or that he had run off; but happily for us, our fears were groundless, for next morning at sunrise he found his way to our camp.
That day we moved about two hundred yards farther up a deep ravine and farther up the river. The weather, which had been cold and frosty, now became a little warmer and commenced raining. Those that were with me could sit up, but I had no alternative but to lie on my back on the ground with my right arm over my body. The rain continuing the next day, Mitchell took an excursion to examine the hills, and not far distant he found a projection from the cliff sufficient to shelter us from the rain, to which we place we were very gladly removed.
He also gathered pawpaws for us, which were our only food, except perhaps a few grapes.
Time moved slowly on until Saturday. In the meantime, we talked over the dangers to which Perry was exposed, the distance he had to go and the improbability of his returning. When the time he had allowed himself had expired, we would, if alive, wait for him until Monday, and if he did not come then, and no relief should be afforded, we would attempt to travel to Point Pleasant. The third day after our defeat, my arm became very painful. The splinters and leaves and my shirt were cemented together with blood, and stuck so fast to my arm that it required the application of warm water for nearly a whole day to loosen them so that they could be taken off; when this was done, I had my arm dressed with white oak leaves, which had a very good effect. On Saturday, about twelve o’clock, Mitchell came with his bosom full of pawpaws and placed them convenient to us, and returned to his station on the river. He had been gone about an hour when, to our great joy, we beheld him coming with a company of men.
When they approached us, we found that our trusty friend and companion, David Perry, had returned to our assistance with Captain John Walls, his officers and most of his company. Our feelings of gratitude may possibly be conceived, but words can never describe them. Suffice it to say that these eyes flowed plenteously with tears and I was so completely overwhelmed with joy that I fell to the ground.
On my recovery, we were taken to the river and refreshed plentifully with provisions which the captain had brought, and our wounds dressed by an experienced man, who came for that purpose. We were afterwards described by the Captain to be in a most forlorn and pitiable condition, more like corpses beginning to putrify, then living beings.
Wounded and suffering, Robert Patterson was taken in care of an Army Surgeon to Grove Creek and was soon sent to the hospital at Fort Pitt for treatment. Continuing his narrative, he says “I lay in the hospital at Fort Pitt half of the winter, then by easy stages made the trip to our home in Bedford, where by Mother’s nursing I began to mend. Arm and back continued running sores and painful.”
Robert had been much interested in a neighbor, Miss Elisabeth Lindsay, and of course saw her while recuperating from wounds at home and before he went back to Kentucky, they were engaged.
In 1776, there was danger of the British overrunning state of New York and Robert helped to organize companies for that duty. He was not able to continue this long but to again go to the hospital at Fort Pitt for treatments. To protect his land at Lexington, Ky. he sent his brother William to the place to raise a crop upon it as that was one of the requirements of the government to gain the land.
Robert followed to Kentucky toward fall in 1777, visiting all his old friends who had helped him when wounded, and when he arrived he found everything upset by an Indian raid. He met George Rogers Clark who was planning a campaign into Illinois, and Robert and a number of his friends agreed to go along on this trip, when Clark was ready to start. For about ten years they were receiving raids in Kentucky from the Indians, and in return making raids on the Indians who were located near Clifton, Old Chillicothe (now Oldtown) and Piqua, Ohio.
Robert was fighting during the most of this time, while his brother was looking after the land and raising the crops.
Robert went with Clark upon the Illinois campaign which was very successful and did much to quiet the Indians in the Northwest territory.
After his return, there were several bushes with the Indians sometimes resulting in favor of the Indians but more often in favor of the whites. In February, 1780 he took time to make a horse back trip back home, with the intention of bringing back “Elizabeth Lindsay” as his wife. She lived just a short distance from the Patterson home in Pennsylvania so he could court her as well as visit his parents.
The wedding was held at the Lindsay home March 29, 1780, the bride being just twenty and the groom seven years older.
After the wedding festivities were over, the party of eleven people started back to Kentucky. They were ten days reaching Fort Pitt, lodging in taverns and cabins when possible, but one night was spent in the open. At Fort Pitt, they bought a house boat and floated down the river to Limestone. Can you imagine the feelings of a bride travelling so many miles under such conditions, and then to live in a one room log cabin with only a few neighbors and those not close by.
The furniture they used in the cabin was “the cradle” which was simply a hollow log with a hood left at the top to keep off draughts from a door or window. The dishes were bowls made out of dogwood. Two pronged forks of iron and pewter spoons were luxuries found upon a few tables. The cooking was done over the open fire, with what back-breaking efforts the housekeeper of today can hardly conceive.”
The boys had the farm work to do and in a new country there was lots of it to do. The girls had to milk the cows, churn the butter, and all other house work so that Mother could spin the thread and make the clothes. For a few years, Col. Patterson was often called to go on a raid against the Indians, and how his wife must have felt to have him go away upon this kind of an errand, leaving her to carry on in his absence, not knowing if he would ever come back or if he did how badly wounded he might be? In 1794, quite a settlement existed at Lexington and Col. Patterson and others urged and organized a Presbyterian church to which he was elected trustee, and was an influential member.
In 1788, John Cleves Symmes received a grant of a large tract of land north of the Ohio river and between the Great and Little Miami rivers. He sold a square mile of this land, opposite to the mouth of the Licking river, to Mathias Denman, a civil engineer from New Jersey and he sold a third interest in it to John Filson, a civil engineer and another third to Col. Robert Patterson. They named the town Losantiville, which was coined by John Filson as follows – L for Licking river, the latin word “os” meaning mouth, the greek word “anti” meaning opposite, and the French word “ville” meaning the city.
Soon after this FIlson disappeared and it was thought he was killed by the Indians, and Israel Ludlow bought his third of the new city now Cincinnati. In 1789, Fort Washington was built and in that fall Gen. Harmar with three hundred men came to protect it from the Indians. Col. Patterson was a very busy man with his many interests so far apart -- Cincinnati, Indian fighting in Kentucky and Ohio, and his own town of Lexington, and his family.
At his wife’s request he sold his interest in Cincinnati November, 1794 and this relieved him of much traveling and worry.
His daughter, Mrs. H. L. Brown says of the farm, “On the farm we had cattle, horses and mules in droves, besides small stock and raised hemp, grain and vegetables.” Col. Patterson obtained quite a large tract of land from the government with practically no outlay expect building a house and raising crops, and in cutting it up and selling it to others, he made quite a sum of money. He was thought to be well-do-do and was an influential citizen helping to build up the town in every possible way. But, one of his neighbors asked him to go on his bond to the United States, which he did. Then this man was unable to meet his bills and thus Mr. Patterson was held to pay $6,000 a great deal of money in those times. To do this he had to sell out at Lexington. He then made up his mind to leave Lexington.
When he sold his Cincinnati rights, he used the money to buy a farm and mill site at Clifton, Ohio, and as he had visited the Miami Valley several times, he naturally thought of this country for a new home.
He owned a tract of land south of Dayton and when he went to Clifton where he had expected to settle, he heard that D.C. Cooper of Dayton wanted to sell his mill south of town. Mr. Patterson bought the mill and all the land where the N. C. R. stands at this time. The mills stood near where Main street and Stonemill and Sawmill roads cross, and that is what gave those roads these names.
This changed his plans for a home and he decided to come to Dayton instead of Clifton. At first Mrs. Patterson was not willing to leave Lexington, where all her friends lived, but in 1803 she gave in to her husband and the announcement of their moving was made at a banquet given for Mr. Patterson’s 50th birthday. The move was made in 1804, and it must have made quite a procession. There were two wagons, to haul their goods, many saddle horses, some pack horses, loaded with more goods, besides other farm animals. There were nine children ranging from three to twenty years of age, in the Patterson family and many of their friends came with them, to see if they would like to settle in this new country. Then there were servants and farm laborers and mill hands, so it was a large company.
From this time the Patterson family became a part of Dayton and we shall hear more from them later on.
Chas. F. Sullivan September 28, 1942
40 Glenwood Dayton, Ohio