History of Richland Co.


Graham, A. A. (Albert Adams) (1848-). Hiſtory of Richland County, Ohio : (including the original boundaries) ; its paſt and preſent, containing a condenſed comprehenſive hiſtory of Ohio, including an outline hiſtory of the Northweſt, a complete hiſtory of Richland county ... miſcellaneous matter, map of the county, biographies and hiſtories of ... the moſt prominent families, &c., &c. Internet Archive

Vail, Copus, and Kiſling Excerptſ

Elias Kiſsling, Richland County, Ohio (1817)


So far as the record of the Society shows, the following names compriſe a liſt of the pioneers who settled in Richland County, prior to the year 1820. This liſt is very meager and incomplete, but in addition to this the reader is referred to the hiſtory of each townſhip, in the gathering of which the compiler has been able to add a number of names to the pioneer liſt.

Butler Townſhip — Maria Wood, 1818; Suſannah Claberg, 1819; Jacob Claberg, 1816.

Franklin Townſhip &mdahs; Adam Linn, 1819; Mrs. E. Pettenger, 1816; Jacob Bradley, 1819; Samuel Stevenſon, 1816; N. Pettenger, 1815; William Hagerman, 1817; Mrs. William Bradley, 1818.

Jackſon Townſhip — Henry Taylor, 1817.

Monroe Townſhip — Jane Douglas, 1819; Mrs. C. Welty, 1819; H. Ritchey, 1815; Joſeph Williams, 1815; Mrs. John Douglas, 1818; Daniel Cromer, 1815; William Stewart, 1815; Solomon Gladden, 1817; John Coulter, 1810; Mrs. John Coulter, 1810; I. Patterſon, 1817: John Wolfe, 1815; Melzer Coulter, 1811.

Madiſon Townſhip — Mrs. H. McLaughlin, 1816; William Niman, 1815; Stephen Welden, 1819; John Cline, 1815; Mrs. Jane Broill, 1815; Sarah Fleming. 1818; J. H. Cook, 1816; Mrs. A. Anderſon, 1818; Robert Cairns, 1815; David Johns, 1812; John Weldon, 1810; Robert Larimer, 1815; E. Wilkiſon. 1817; Mrs. John C. Gilkiſon, 1810; Robert Maloney, 1818; James Weldon, 1810; Eliza Grant, 1815; Mrs. Jane Newman, 1819; William Garriſon, 1815; Manſfield H. Gilkiſon, 1811; John Neil, 1815; Harriet Newman, 1817; Henry Newman, 1810; Michael Keith, 1817; Mary Crall, 1814; Mrs. William Garriſon, 1819; Mrs. Sarah Finney. 1816; Margaret Niman, 1819; William Darling, 1814; Henry Cook, 1815; Nathaniel Mitchell, 1815; Calvin Stewart, 1816.

Mifflin Townſhip — John Vantilburg, 1815; Nancy Tagart, 1814; D. M. Snyder. 1815; James Raitt, 1814; John Yeamon, 1818; Elias Kiſsling, 1817; Charles Young, 1815; Thomas Starritt, 1816; Mrs. Rebecca Mann, 1814; David Miller, 1817; James Church, 1817; James Starr, 1816.

p. 272-283


War of 1812 &mdash Alarm of the Settlers — Block Houſes — Greentown Indians and their Removal — James Copus — His Influence over the Indians — Burning of the Indian Village — Captain Armſtrong — The Killing of an Indian by Morriſon and McCulloch — The Jones Tragedy — Search for the Murderers of Jones — The Killing of Ruffner and the Zimmers — Sketch of Ruffner — Battle on Black Fork and the Murder of James Copus — Removal of the Copus Family — Mrs. Sarah Vail — Killing of two Indians near Manſfield.

When war was declared with Great Britain, in the spring of 1812, a feeling of uneaſineſs ran through the border settlements. The Indians had always been allies of the Engliſh as againſt Americans ; and they would have been equally allies of any other power that would have aſsiſted them in regaining the territory that was being rapidly wreſted from them by the advancing pioneers.

Tecumſeh, the brave and eloquent chief, was earneſtly engaged in uniting the Indian tribes, inducing them to take up the hatchet, and, with the help of the Britiſh, drive the Americans from their country. Very few soldiers were then upon the border for the protection of the settlers ; block-houſes and means of defenſe were scarce. When the American commander, Gen. Hull, surrendered, this feeling of inſecurity was increaſed to one of alarm. It was suppoſed that a Britiſh invading army would immediately croſs the State of Ohio, and that the Indians would be let looſe upon the defenſeleſs settlers. Block-houſes were immediately erected for protection— they sprang up, like muſhrooms, almoſt in a single night. Two were erected on the site of Manſfield ; one on Rocky Fork, at Beams mill (now Goud>y’s mill) ; one on the Clear Fork of the Mohican. and one where Ganges now stands. Within reach of theſe rude works the pioneers felt comparatively safe. A few of them could defend themſelves aoainſt quite a force of savages ; and, as rapidly as poſsible, theſe works were occupied by soldiers.

There had been, for some years, a camp of Indians at Greentown on Black Fork— about one hundred of them. A few were Mohawks, but moſt of them were Delawares, under an old chief named Armſtrong. They had always been friendly and neighborly with the whites, and quite a settlement of white people had gathered around them. Fearing that Tecumſeh would influence theſe Indians to engage in the war, and that they would suddenly fall upon the settlers and murder them, the military authorities determined to remove them. It was the policy of the Government to gather all the friendly Indians together as much as poſsible — to separate the sheep from the goats, as it were — that it might know who were its friends and who its enemies. This was the motive for the order removing the Greentown Indians. However unjuſt it might seem to drive them from their homes and hunting-grounds, it was in accordance with a general policy that seemed to be for the beſt. A great many friendly Indians were gathered near the preſent site of Piqua. Ohio, where they were under the protection and superviſion of the military. To this place it was decided to remove theſe Indians, and that taſk was intruſted to Col. Samuel Kratzer, who had arrived in Manſfield with his command from Knox Couiitv. His soldiers were scattered about the vicinity. building block-houſes and doing garriſon duty. One company, under command of Capt. Martin, was stationed at the block-houſe at Bea>m’s Mill. In September. Col. Kratzer sent a company of soldiers, under Capt. Douglas, to bring the Greentown Indians to Manſfield. It was a delicate and diſagreeable duty. When Douglas arrived at the village and reported his miſsion to the chief. Capt. Armſtrong heſitated about obeying the order. He had eighty fighting men under his command, and could have made a vigorous reſiſtance. It seemed cruel to remove theſe people from their homes, where they were living quietly, attending to their own buſineſs, moleſting no one. living moſtly in comfortable cabins, and surrounded by their families and the comforts of life : in a country wonderfully beautiful, which they had always called their own. What wonder is it that they heſitated to obey this peremptory order? Theſe Indians were in a great degree under the influence of Chriſtianity. Miſsionaries had viſited them regularly for years, and preached in their council-houſe. They traded freely with the whites, and were more intelligent and further on the road to civilization than moſt other tribes. Their village site had been selected for the romantic beauty of its scenery ; it is said by thoſe who viſited it at that period that no more lovely spot could be found : Yet they muſt leave all this at the bidding of deſtiny. It seems as if it was ordained that this race should be ground to powder under the heel of civilization.

“Let them take the last look at the graſs-covered grave,”
Where rest the remains of their forefathers brave :
The hills and the valleys, the dark, waving woods,
The murmuring brooks and broad, rolling floods :
The bold, maſsive rocks which environ the shore
Where the bright waters dance and the wild torrents roar —
Bid a lasting farewell to each family spot,
And march to where deſtiny fixes their lot."

The Indians were thrown into a violent state of excitement upon the appearance of the soldiers for their removal. Capt. Armſtrong trembled with suppreſsed emotion ; so much so that he could hardly reply to Capt. Douglas. The camp was like a powder magazine — a spark would have cauſed an exploſion — a word would have brought on a deſperate struggle. Douglas, finding he would have some difficulty, concluded to go to Mr. James Copus, for his advice and aſsiſtance, deſiring, if poſsible, to avoid bloodſhed.

James Copus was the firſt settler in Mifflin Townſhip. He was born in Greene County, Penn., about the year 1775; married in his native county in 1796; emigrated to Richland County, in March, 1809, and settled on the Black Fork of the Mohican. He firſt located about three miles eaſt of the preſent site of Charles' Mill, on what has since been called Seymore"s Run, where he erected a camp cabin of poles. In this cabin he lived eighteen months, when he moved down nearer to Black Fork, about three-fourths of a mile from that stream, where a beautiful spring guſhes from the foot of a high rocky ridge or blufl'. Here he built a permanent cabin on land he had selected, and began clearing off a farm. Meanwhile, he had become well known to the Greentown Indians ; was on the moſt friendly terms with them, and was much reſpected by them. He was a man of strong religious convictions — a Methodiſt, and frequently preached for them in their council-houſe. He was a stout, fearleſs, induſtrious German, and soon had a small patch cleared about his cabin, fenced with bruſh and logs, and planted in corn. He poſseſsed a yoke of oxen and a cow or two. A few white neigbors soon gathered around him, among whom were James Cunningham. Andrew Craig, David and Samuel Hill and Mr. Lambright. The settlement came to be known as the Black Fork or Copus settlement. The Indians soon learned to truſt Mr. Copus, to believe in his honeſty and fidelity, and, in conſequence, he soon acquired great influence over them. It was to this man that Capt. Douglas went, to secure, if poſsible, his influence in getting the Indians removed without a conflict. Mr. Copus entertained some peculiar views reſpecting human rights ; his sympathies were with the Indians, and he was strongly oppoſed to their removal. He liked them as neighbors, believed they were inclined to peace, and could not see the neceſsity of driving them from their homes. He entered into a long converſation with the officer reſpecting the juſtneſs of his miſsion. He maintained that they had suffered the moſt shameful wrongs, and that a God of mercy would require reſtitution from the hands of the whites. He at firſt refuſed to aſsiſt the officer, declaring to him, that, if he would not diſturb them, he would, himſelf, stand accountable for their conduct. All Mr. Copus' arguments were to no purpoſe. The officer stated simply that his orders were peremptory to remove them, and, however unjuſt it might be, he could not do leſs than obey orders. Mr. Copus saw that if he did not uſe his influence and perſuade the Indians to go peaceably, there would be bloodſhed, and. with this view, he at laſt agreed to accompany the officer to the Indian village; firſt stipulating, however, that, should the Indians quietly surrender, their lives and property should be protected. This Capt. Douglas promiſed; and, taking with him his three sons, Henry, James and Weſley, they proceeded to the village. Through Mr. Copus' influence, the Indians were purſuaded to go quietly away with the soldiers, after receiving aſsurances that their property should lie protected and reſtored to them, and that they should be protected on the march. Prior to this, the Indians had aſsured Peter Kinney, a neighbor, that, if permitted to remain, they would surrender all their guns and warlike-like weapons, and anſwer to roll-call every day, but, as Capt. Douglas had no diſcretionary power, this could not be done.

A schedule of their property was taken by James Cunningham and Peter Kinney, and they took up their line of march acroſs the Black Fork, turning their faces from a home they, as a tribe, were never to see again. They were taken acroſs to the new State road, thence to Lucas, and from there to Manſfield, camping in the deep ravine, which now croſses the Firſt Ward, above the bridge on South Main street. It is now called Ritters Run. Some eight or ten soldiers straggled from Douglas' command, and remained behind at the Indian village. No sooner had Armſtrong and his people diſappeared in the foreſt, than theſe soldiers deliberately, to the surpriſe and diſtreſs of Mr. Copus, set fire to the village and burned it to the ground. Nearly everything the Indians left behind was conſumed. The village contained some sixty comfortable log houſes, a large council-houſe, and much perſonal property, which the Indians were unable to carry with them.

This is the statement of Mr. Weſley Copus, who was preſent. He is now dead, but the statement was written down in his preſence, and by his dictation, some years before he died. He attributed the untimely death of his father to this act of perfidy on the part of Douglas' command.

After being joined by a few Indians from Jeromeville, Col. Kratzer and his command conducted the Indians through Berkſhire and acroſs Elm Creek, in Delaware County, to Piqua.

It is said the Indians diſcovered volumes of smoke riſing over the treetops, surmiſed that their property was being burnt, and some of them vowed a terrible vengeance.

Capt. Thomas Steene Armſtrong, chief of the Greentown Indians, whoſe Indian name was Pamoxet, was born in Pennſylvania, somewhere on the Suſquehanna River. He was not a full-blooded Indian, but very dark skinned; the name Steene probably alluded to some white relative. In this country he firſt came into notice at the treaty of Fort Induſtry, July 4, 1805. He was probably chief of the Turtle branch of the Lena Lenape, or Delaware tribe. and located at Greentown, about the time Capt. Pipe made his reſidence near Mohican Johnſtown. He was often viſited by the Moravian miſsionary Heckewelder, long before any white settlers made their appearance.

At the time theſe white settlers came, Capt. Armſtrong appeared to be about sixty-five years of age; was a small man, slightly stooping, rather dignified and reticent, dreſsed in full Indian coſtume, and appeared to advantage. He had two wives — one an old squaw, by whom he had James and Silas, and, probably, other children. He married a young squaw in 1808, by whom he had children. He frequently viſited the cabin of James Copus, and made sugar there the firſt spring after his arrival. James and Silas often shot at a mark, with bows and arrows, with James and Weſley Copus, in the sugar camp, They alſo amuſed themſelves by hopping, wreſtling, and other boyiſh sports. Armſtrong had two Indian slaves, or servants, both deaf They were of some other tribe. He was a harmleſs old chief, and treated every one very kindly. The favorite hunting-ground of his tribe was in Knox County, along Owl Creek and its tributaries, and they frequently had difficulty with the early settlers of that region. After their removal to Piqua, Armſtrong settled in the Upper Sanduſky region, among the Delawares and Wyandots, and never returned to Greentown; his boys, however, James and Silas, frequently came back. The chief was a good Indian Doctor, and could talk very good Engliſh. His deſcendants married among the Wyandots and Delawares, and, when theſe tribes were removed, went with them beyond the Miſsiſsippi, settling near Wyandot, Kanſas.

During the short time the Greentown Indians were encamped in Manſfield, two of them, a warrior and his daughter, a little girl, eſcaped from the guards and made their way toward Upper Sanduſky. This India>n’s name was Toby; he did not belong to the Greentown Indians, but to another tril)e located at Upper Sanduſky. For some reaſon, his little daughter had been living with the Greentown Indians, and, when he found they were being removed by the Government, he came to take her home, and met her at Manſfield. Here he found her under guard, and, not being able to get her away openly, he succeeded in getting her through the guards, and they started for Upper Sanduſky. At that time there was, in Col. Kratze>r’s command, a company of soldiers from Coſhocton, and, among them, two men by the name of Morriſon and McCulloch; the latter had had a brother killed by the Indians at the battle of Brownſtown. Theſe two men took their rifles and started in purſuit of the fugitives, on the Sanduſky trail. Two miles out, they overtook and immediately fired upon them, wounding the father. They then returned to town. The Indian ran about forty rods, to a stream, and laid down in it. Morriſon and McCulloch told what they had done; and a company of soldiers, under Sergt. J. C. Gilkinſon, and accompanied by the two scouts, Morriſon and McCulloch, went out to look for the wounded Indian, and found him still alive, lying in the stream. As they approached, he lifted his hands, imploring mercy, but there was no mercy for him. Morriſon drew his tomahawk from his belt and handed it to McCulloch, saying, "Take revenge for your brothe>r’s blood." McCulloch walked deliberately up, and, in spite of the entreaties of Mr. Gilkiſon, sank the tomahawk into the India>n’s skull up to the handle.

They then took the body out of the water, and, having piled some logs on it, left it for the preſent and went home, taking along the gun, tomahawk, and other articles belonging to the Indian. Some days after, they returned, cut off the head of the Indian, scalped it, brought it to town and stuck it on a pole in the street, where it remained several days, when someone, becoming diſguſted with the sight, took it down and burried it. Dr. J. P. Henderſon, still living, adds to the above the following : “The scalp they filled with whiſky, ”handed it around and drank from it though mixed with blood."

The daughter eſcaped, and, after living nine days on berries, arrived safely at Sanduſky. Nothing could be done to puniſh Morriſon and McCulloch for this crime, as there was a standing order that all Indians found in the woods, outſide the guards, should be shot.

About the same time the Indians were removed from Greentown. Levi Jones was killed, near Manſfield. On the 13th of Auguſt, 1812, John Wallace, and a man by the name of Reed, went out a half-mile eaſt of town to clear off a place for a brickyard. In the afternoon, Levi Jones, who kept a grocery in the cabin on the Sturgis corner, went out where they were at work and remained with them some time. In returning, he took a different route from the one by which he went out, it being a trail through the woods. When he reached the vicinity of the brick block lately known as the Friendly lnn, and near the foot of the hill on the eaſt side of North Main street, he was fired upon by a party of Indians in ambuſh. It is suppoſed this was a party of the Greentown Indians. They probably had some grudge againſt Jones, who sold whiſky, and had trouble with them at different times on this account. One shot took effect, the ball entering the back of the left hand, paſsing through the hand and entering the right breaſt. The hand through which the ball paſsed was confined at his breaſt by a sling, in conſequence of a felon on his thumb. Jones did not fall immediately, but, giving a yell of pain and alarm, started on a run for the block-houſe. He might have reached it, but unfortunately came in contact with a bruſh acroſs the path, which threw him backward upon the ground. Before he could regain his feet, the Indians were upon him, and finiſhed their work by stabbing him several times in the back. They then scalped him, and, having secured his hat and handkerchief gave the scalp-yell and left.

John Pugh and Mr. Weſtfall were working a few rods from the place, and, hearing the yell, ran into town and gave the alarm. They returned, and found Jones lying dead in the trail, but, fearing an ambuſh, left him there and returned to the block-houſe. In a very few minutes everybody in the vicinity heard the news, and all immediately took shelter in the block-houſe. The excitement was very great; they momentarily expected an attack. During all this time, the suppoſition was that Reed and Wallace, who were clearing the brickyard in that direction, had alſo been killed by the Indians, and that the latter were still lurking in the neighborhood. The wives of Reed and Wallace were almoſt frantic, thinking their huſbands had been murdered. It was now about sundown, and, as it seems there were no soldiers in the block-houſe at that time, it was determined to send immediately to Mount Vernon for help. Who would volunteer to go was the queſtion. It was a hazardous journey; whoever volunteered would stand a fair chance of loſing his scalp. It happened that, juſt at that time, the eccentric but brave Johnny Appleſeed was preſent. He immediately volunteered to undertake the hazardous journey, and starting about dark, bareheaded and barefooted, through the wilderneſs. He reached Mount Vernon in safety, and with such expedition that Capt. Garey, with a party of soldiers, was at the block-houſe by sunriſe the next morning.

On this journey, Johnny Appleſeed gave a warning cry at every cabin he paſsed, informing the inmates that Reed, Wallace and Jones were killed, and that the Indians were paſsing south. There was something awful, it is said, in Johnn>y’s warning cry, as he pounded at the door of each cabin he paſsed, and shouted to the inmates: "Flee! flee! for your lives! The Indians are upon you." and, before they could open the door, or fairly comprehend his meaning, this angel of mercy had diſappeared in the darkneſs and night, on his way with the fleetneſs of a deer to the next cabin —

“And, preſsing forward like the wind,”
Left pallor and surpriſe behind."

Shortly after Johnny left, Reed and Wallace made their appearance at the block-houſe, safe and sound, to the great joy of all.

When the soldiers arrived in the morning, the body of Jones was brought in on a sled and buried, and a search made for any savages that might be lurking about. The place where the Indians had tied their horſes was found near the foot of the hill upon which Judge Geddes now reſides. The next day Capt. Douglas raiſed a company of fifteen volunteers, and started on the trail of the Indians, following it to Upper Sanduſky. They came so near the fugitives on the second day. that they found their campfires still burning. At Upper Sanduſky thev found Gov. McArthur, with a company from Chillicothe, and remained there several days, searching in the Indian camp for the murderers of Jones, but did not find them. Some three hundred friendly Indians were encamped there. Douglas did not think it safe to return by the way he went, and came back by way of Fredericktown. The men were roughly dreſsed, and had handkerchiefs tied about their heads inſtead of hats. They looked more like Indians than white men: and, as they were going into Fredericktown. they fired off their guns by way of salute, and greatly frightened the inhabitants. Two women fainted in the street, and a general stampede for the block-houſe took place.

The murder of Jones muſt have happened a few days before the removal of the Greentown Indians, as at that time soldiers were already occupying the block-houſes on the square.

Two weeks after the removal of the Greentown Indians, Martin Ruffner, and the Zimmer* family, living on the Black Fork, about five miles north of the site of the burned village, were murdered. The deed was suppoſed to have been committed by a portion of Armſtron>g’s band, in retaliation for the injuries they had suffered. and it was alſo suppoſed they had a grudge againſt the Zimmer family, as members of that family had, on different occaſions, tied clapboards to the tails of their ponies. Their ponies were allowed to run looſe in the woods, and annoyed Mr. Zimmer by getting into his cornfield. Any inſult to their ponies was made a perſonal matter, and reſented accordingly.

 * This has generally been written "Seymour." but the correct name has been aſcertained to be Zimmer. The settlers in that direction (including this family) were Germans, and their pronunciation of the name Zimmer sounds very much like "Seymour," hence the miſtake.

Martin Rufther came from Shenandoah County, Va.. and settled in Pleaſant Townſhip, Fairfield County. Oliio. in 1807. He was accompanied by his mother, brother Michael, and a siſter, who married one Richard Hughes. Martin Ruffner returned to Virginia a year or two before he settled in Richland County, and married. In the spring of 1812, he and his relatives located on what is now Stama>n’s Run, in Mifflin Townſhip, half a mile a little north of weſt of the preſent village of Mifflin. He was of German origin, a bold, fearleſs backwoodſman, and an uncompromiſing enemy of the Indians, several of his friends and relatives having been murdered by them. On his arrival in Mifflin, he built a cabin on the brow of the hill, not far from the Black Fork, about five minutes' walk from the preſent reſidence of Mr. Jacob Staman. and on the latte>r’s farm. While building this cabin and clearing around it, with the help of a bound boy named Levi Franghiſer, his mother and brother Michael boarded with his brother-in-law. Richard Hughes, while he and Franghiſer kept "bachelors hall" at the cabin. They had juſt entered their lands at Canton, and were preparing for a permanent reſidence.

Mr. Zimmer, with his family, came about the same time, located his land and built his cabin about two and a half miles southeaſt of Mr. Ruffner. His family conſiſted of his wife, a beautiful daughter named Kate, and his son Phillip, aged nineteen. He was an old man, not able to do much work, and, deſiring to prepare some fifteen or twenty acres for corn, he employed Michael Ruffner to aſsiſt his son Phillip.

Early in September, one afternoon, while Michael Ruffner was walking along the trail leading from the cabin of Frederick Zimmer to that of his brother, he met a party of Indians,* who were well armed with guns, knives and tomahawks and appeared very friendly. They aſked him if the Zimmers were at home, and, upon receiving an affirmative reply, paſsed on. Having his suſpicions arouſed, he haſtened to the cabin of his brother Martin, and informed him of his meeting with the Indians. Marti>n’s suſpicions were arouſed, and, taking down his rifle, he mounted a fleet mare, and rode rapidly down the trail to the Zimmer cabin. He arrived before the Indians ; and after a short conſultation it was decided that Phillip Zimmer should haſten to the cabin of James Copus, who lived about two miles further south, on the trail, give the alarm in that neighborhood, and return with aſsiſtance. Meanwhile the brave Ruffner was to remain and defend the family. Phillip Zimmer haſtened to Mr. Copus' cabin, and from there to John Lambrigh>t’s, two miles further south on the Black Fork. Lambright returned with him, and, joined by Mr. Copus, they all proceeded together to the Zimmer cabin, where they arrived in the early part of the evening. Finding no light in the cabin, and all being silent, fears were entertained that the inmates had been murdered. Mr. Copus moved cautiouſly around to the back window, and liſtened a moment; but, hearing no movement, he crept quietly around to the door, which, on examination, he found slightly ajar, and, preſsing upon it, found some obſtruction behind it. He at once suſpected the family had been murdered; and, on placing his hand upon the floor, found it wet with blood. There was no longer any doubt, Haſtening back to Phillip and Lambright, who were concealed a short diſtance from the cabin, he stated his diſcoveries and convictions.

 *One account makes the number two, another three, another four, and still another, five.

Phillip became frantic with grief and excitement, and deſired to ruſh into the cabin to learn the whole truth. In this he was prevented by the others, who feared that the Indians were yet concealed in the cabin, awaiting his return. Perſuading Phillip to accompany them, they haſtened back to the cabin of Mr. Copus, and, taking the latte>r’s family, they all proceeded as rapidly as poſsible to Mr. Lambrigh>t’s. This family was added to their numbers, and they puſhed on to the cabin of Frederick Zimmer, Jr., Philli>p’s brother, and he and his family joined the fugitives. They haſtened along an Indian trail, near where the village of Lucas now stands, and stopped at the cabin of David Hill, where they remained until the next morning, when, accompanied by the family of Hill, all proceeded to the block-houſe at Bea>m’s mill. This fort was then occupied by a company of soldiers under Capt. Martin. A party of theſe soldiers, accompanied by Mr. Copus, Phillip and Frederick Zimmer, Hill and Lambright. all well armed, proceeded by the moſt direct route through the foreſt, to the cabins of Martin Ruffner and Richard Hughes. They found the cabin of Ruffner had not been diſturbed, the boy Franghiſer having slept there alone the night before; and the cabin of Hughes was alſo undiſturbed. Ruffner had, a short time prior to this, upon the surrender of Hull, sent his wife and child to Licking County, to a Mr. Lair, or Laird, an uncle, who lived about one and a half miles from Utica. At Ruffne>r’s cabin, they were joined by Franghiſer, Michael Ruffner and Mr. Hughes, and all haſtened down the trail to the Zimmer cabin. Entering it, they found the old gentleman, the old lady and Catharine, all dead upon the floor, and dreadfully mangled. The gallant Ruffner was lying dead in the yard. There was every evidence that he had made a deſperate struggle for his life and that of the Zimmers. His gun was bent nearly double, and several of his fingers had been cut off by blows from a tomahawk. The struggle had finally ended by his being shot twice through the body. The details of this butchery could never be certainly known, as the prominent actors were all killed; all had alſo been scalped. It appeared that the table had been set with refreſhments for the savages, and moſt of the food remained. Whether any of the Indians were killed, is not known; they would have taken their dead away with them, and deſtroyed all evidences, if such a cataſtrophe had happened to them. It is suppoſed that eight or ten Indians were engaged in this tragedy.

There is a tradition among the early settlers, that an Indian by the name of Kanotchy was taken priſoner some years afterward, and related the story of this maſsacre. It appears from this statement that the Indians entered the cabin and seated themſelves very sullenly, while the terrified Kate was setting refreſhments for them, as was uſual. The heroic Dutchman was the only guard of conſequence, as Mr. Zimmer was too old to make much reſiſtance. The Indians made the attack very suddenly. Ruffner, not having time to fire, clubbed his rifle, broke the stock in pieces and bent the barrel double in the terrilile fight. The odds were too much for him, and he soon went down before superior numbers. As soon as he was out of the way, they killed and scalped the old people. At the commencement of the affray, Kate fainted and fell to the floor, and, until arouſed from this state of syncope, was unaware of the murder of her parents. When she came to her senſes, she looked about upon a scene of blood and horror, and burſt into a paroxyſm of weeping. She begged the savages to spare her life, but all to no purpoſe. They firſt aſcertained from her where her fathe>r’s money was concealed, and then buried the tomahawk in her brain. While she was in a senſeleſs condition, a conſultation had been held over her, to decide whether they should kill her or take her priſoner. It was decided that her life should be taken, but still they heſitated, as no one wiſhed to do the deed. At length it was decided that the one who should perform the deed, should be conſidered as poſseſsing the greateſt heart, whereupon this same Phillip Kanotchy stepped forward, exclaiming, "Me kill white squaw, me got big heart." When Kate saw the tomahawk deſcending, she raiſed a beautiful white arm to ward off the blow, which, falling upon the arm, nearly severed it in twain; a second blow did the work — one quiver, and the lovely life went out.

She was engaged to be married to Mr. Henry Smith, who was at that time in the Eaſt, attending to some buſineſs; they were to be married upon his return.

Martin Ruffner and the Zimmers were buried on a little knoll near the cabin, in one grave, where the remains still lie. The farm is now owned by a Mr. Culler. After performing the laſt sad ceremonies over the remains of the murdered pioneers, the}^ returned to the block-houſe at Bea>m’s, and Michael Ruffner, his mother, and Hughes and family returned to Fairfield County, where they remained.

The settlers were thoroughly arouſed by the tragedy, and all fled to the block-houſe for safety.

When Mr. James Copus and family had remained about five days at the block-houſe, they became tired of staying, and, hearing nothing of the Indians, determined to return. Having always enjoyed their reſpect and confidence, and having always been their firmeſt friend, he felt that they could harbor no ill will toward him or his family. Capt. Martin proteſted agaiuſt his return, saying that in the preſent excited state of affairs he would be running great riſk. As Mr. Copus inſiſted on going, nine soldiers were detailed to accompany him. Mr. Copus had seven ehildren, moſtly small. They all arrived safely at the cabin, and found everything as they had left it. In the evening. Mr. Copus invited the soldiers to sleep in the cabin, but, the weather being yet warm, they preferred to take quarters in the barn, which stood four or five rods north of the cabin, on the trail,* that they might have a better opportunity to indulge in frolic and fun, and be leſs crowded and under leſs reſtraint. Before retiring, Mr. Copus cautioned them againſt surpriſe by any Indians that might be lurking about. During the afternoon, Sarah, a little daughter of Mr. Copus. aged twelve, still living (November, 1879). went into the cornfield a few rods south of the cabin, and. while there, saw an Indian in the edge of the woods skulk behind a bruſh-heap, but, unfortunately, did not relate the circumſtance to her father. This child, now Mrs. Sarah Vail, aged seventy-nine, says the reaſon why she did not tell her father of her diſcovery is that he was a very strict man in regard to truth, and, fearing she might have been deceived, did not wiſh to incur his diſpleaſure by creating a falſe alarm.

 *A barn occupies the same spot still, and the trail is now a well-traveled road.

That night the dogs kept up a conſtant barking, and Mr. Copus had many unpleaſant dreams — sleeping but little. He was evidently impreſsed that danger was lurking near. Before daylight, he invited the soldiers into the cabin, telling them he feared some great diſaſter was about to overtake himſelf and family. He again laid down to reſt, and, when daylight began to appear, the soldiers inſiſted on going to the spring, about three rods away, to waſh. This spring is one of the fineſt of the many fine springs in Mifflin. It guſhes from the baſe of a hill several hundred feet high, in a large, glittering current of pure soft water. Mr. Copus again cautioned the soldiers of impending danger, telling them that Indians were certainly in the neighborhood or his dogs would not have made such a noiſe, and urged them to take their guns with them to the spring. They promiſed to do so, but, on paſsing out, leaned them againſt the cabin and went on to the spring. Fatal miſtake! The Indians, who had been lurking about the cabin all night, were watching for juſt such an opportunity as this. Swiftly, silently, stealthily, as a cat creeps upon its prey, they cloſed in upon the doomed cabin, and, before the soldiers were aware of their preſence, were between them and their guns ; then came the horrid war-whoop as a score or more of painted warriors ruſhed upon them with tomahawk and scalping-knife. It seems that only seven of the soldiers went to the spring to waſh, the other two — George Luntz and another whoſe name is not given — were not probably juſt ready to waſh, and were in the cabin when the attack was made. Of the seven at the spring, three were inſtantly killed. Three more, whoſe names were George Shipley, John Tredrick and a Mr. Warnock, finding retreat to the cabin impoſsible, fled to the woods. Theſe were purſued by the Indians, and two of them tomahawked ; the third. Mr. Warnock, being fleet on foot might have eſcaped, but could not outrun a bullet. They fired at him many times while running, one of the balls finally paſsing through his bowels. The Indians were not aware they had shot him, and gave up the chaſe. He only went a short diſtance, however, when, growing weak from loſs of blood, he sat down by a tree, stuffed his handkerchief in the wound and died.

The only soldier who regained the cabin was Mr. George Dye, who broke through the maſs of savages, and sprang through the cabin door juſt as it was opened by Mr. Copus. He, however, received a ball through his thigh as he entered. As soon as the attack commenced, Mr. Copus sprang from his bed. seized his gun and ruſhed to the door. Juſt as he opened it, George Dye sprang through, and a volley of rifle balls came with him. One of theſe balls gave Mr. Copus a mortal wound, paſsing through his breaſt. Mr. Copus had raiſed his rifle, and, juſt as he was wounded, fired at an Indian but a few feet away, who fell. The ball that cauſed Mr. Copus' death paſsed through the strap that supported his powder-horn. This horn is yet in poſseſsion of the family; it is a large, handſome one. and a rare relic. Mr. Copus fell and was conveyed to his bed, where he breathed his laſt in about an hour, while encouraging the soldiers to fight the enemy, and, if poſsible, save his family. On the eaſt of the cabin extended a range of hills several hundred feet high, covered with timber and huge rocks, which furniſhed an excellent cover for the enemy, and gave them a poſition from which they could fire down upon the cabin; they were not long in seeking this cover, and, from their secure hiding-places. poured down upon the cabin a perfect storm of leaden hail. The door and roof were soon riddled with bullets. The soldiers tore up the puncheons of the floor, and placed them againſt the door to prevent the balls from penetrating to the interior of the cabin. Nancy Copus, a little girl, was wounded in the knee by a ball that paſsed through the door. One of the soldiers, George Launtz, had his arm broken by a ball while up-stairs removing the chinking, in order to get a “crack” at an Indian. He soon caught sight of an Indian peering from behind a medium-sized oak that stood on the side of the hill about a hundred yards away, and, taking deliberate aim, shot the savage, who bounded into the air and rolled to the foot of the hill into the trail.

The firing became inceſsant on both sides; wherever the soldiers could make or find a place to fire through they returned the Indian fire with preciſion and effect. One savage fell mortally wounded directly in front of the cabin, early in the engagement, whether from the ball from the rifle of Mr. Copus is not known. During the battle he was endeavoring to crawl toward the trail, and, although moaning and evidently dying, he attempted several times to elevate his rifle in order to diſcharge it upon the cabin, but his strength failed him. A soldier, seeing him attempting to shoot, sent a friendly bullet to eaſe him of his earthly cares and anxieties. He was shot through the head.

The battle laſted from daybreak until about 9 or 10 >o’clock, when the savages, finding they could accompliſh nothing more, raiſed the retreating yell, gathered up their dead and wounded (one account says nine in number) and left; firſt firing upon a flock of sheep, which, during that eventful morning, had huddled together upon the brow of the hill, looking down in strange bewilderment upon this scene of bloodſhed. The poor affrighted animals tumbled down the hill, one after another, until they lay in a heap at the bottom.

As soon as the Indians diſappeared, one of the soldiers crawled out through the roof of the cabin, and made all poſsible haſte to the block-houſe at Bea>m’s for aſsiſtance. The day before. Capt. Martin had agreed to call at the Copus cabin the same evening with a number of soldiers and remain all night. But he and his soldiers, having been scouting all day and finding no signs of Indians, concluded that all apprehenſions of danger were frivolous, therefore neglected to appear as agreed. He encamped above, on the Black Fork, and, on the morning of the diſaſter, moved leiſurely down the trail from the direction of Kuffne>r’s, reaching the scene of the fight too late to aid in the fearful struggle. On approaching the cabin, he and his soldiers were awe-stricken on beholding the work of death around them. They attended at once to the wounded, and the grief-stricken family of Mr. Copus, who were weeping over the murdered huſband and father. Search was made for the Indians, but, from the trail through the weeds that grew luxuriantly around the baſe of the hill, it was found that they had retreated around the southern brow of the bluff, gone up a ravine about a quarter of a mile away, and fled in the direction of Quaker Springs, in Vermillion Townſhip, and hence purſuit was abandoned.

Mr. Copus and the murdered soldiers were buried by the command in one grave, at the foot of an apple-tree, a few yards south of the cabin, where their bones yet repoſe. Capt. Martin then took the familt and wounded, and began his march to the block-houſe. Proceeding up the valley about half a mile, they halted for the night, placing pickets about the camp to prevent surpriſe. In all, there were about one hundred perſons in this camp that night. The wounded were carried on poles, over which linen sheets had been sewed, making a sort of stretcher. The next morning the little army paſsed up the trail, near the deſerted cabin of Martin Kuffner ; croſsing the Black Fork about where the State road is now located; that being the route by which Martin had advanced. The whole party reached the block-houſe in safety that evening. About six weeks after this, Henry Copus and five or six soldiers returned to the cabin, and, on their way, found Mr. Warnock leaning againſt a tree, as before stated, dead. They buried him near by. The two dead Indians, the one in the front yard and the one at the foot of the hill below the oak, were still there, and were, doubtleſs, afterward devoured by wolves.

Thus ends the laſt tragedy of the Grreentown Indians. Their reaſons for killing the Zimmer family have been noticed. Their reaſons for killing Mr. Copus probably were that he had been inſtrumental in getting them removed; that is, fearing bloodſhed, he had uſed his influence to get them away peaceably, on promiſe that their property should be protected. Finding their village deſtroyed, they entertained bitter and revengeful feelings toward Mr. Copus.

As to the number of Indians engaged, nothing whatever is known. It was found on examination of the neighborhood of the Copus cabin, that forty-five fires had been kindled, juſt south of the corn-field, near where Sarah had seen the Indian. Theſe fires had been kindled in small holes, scooped out of the ground to prevent their being seen. Mrs. Vail thought the Indians had feaſted on roaſted corn the evening before the attack. Some writers upon this subject have inferred from the number of fires that there were forty-five Indians engaged in the attack. This reaſoning is erroneous, as Indians have frequently been known to build fires for the purpoſe of deceiving their enemies; and, on the other hand, half a dozen Indians might have uſed one fire.

Mrs. Copus and her family were removed to Guernſey County, Ohio, by Joſeph Archer and George Carroll. They were hauled through the foreſt to Clinton, Newark, Zaneſville and Cambridge, by a yoke of cattle, in an ordinary cart. The journey conſumed many days, during which moſt of the family were compelled, on little food, to walk over a rough path, wade small streams, encamp by the wayſide, and always in fear of being purſued and captured by the savages. They returned in 1815, and found their cabin as they had left it. A few of the Greentown Indians had alſo returned and re-erected their cabins, but peace had come by that time, and changed, somewhat, the savage nature of their Indian neighbors, with whom they ever after lived in peace and friendſhip.

There are yet a few mementos of that battle on the Black Fork remaining. A single log of the old cabin remains, and is doing duty in a smokehouſe on the premiſes. The oak, behind which the Indian was shot, still stands on the hillſide, its top partly dead. A neat frame houſe stands a few feet weſt of where the cabin stood, and is occupied by Mr. John W. Vail. The spot is a lovely one. To the eaſt, the steep, precipitous hill riſes abruptly, and is yet covered with timber and great rocks. It is several hundred feet high, and from its baſe still guſh the waters of the beautiful spring, juſt as they did on that fatal morning when its waters were dyed with human blood. Half a mile south, on the Black Fork, lives Mrs. Sarah Vail, in a cabin alone, which she has occupied fifty-five years. She and her siſter, Amy Whetmore, now living in Seneca County, are the only surviving members of the Copus family, and were witneſses of the battle. Mrs. Vail was eighty years old January 1, 1880. Her mind is still clear and strong, and she has a vivid recollection of that fearful tragedy.

After the war, the Indians came straggling back, to occupy their old hunting-grounds, although but few of them had any fixed reſidence.

One day, two of them — young men — by the name of Seneca John and Quilipetoxe, came to Manſfield, became intoxicated and quarreled with some white men at Willia>m’s tavern, before mentioned, which stood on the preſent site of the North American.

They left about 4 >o’clock in the afternoon, and, shortly after, were followed by the white men, who vowed vengeance. They overtook them a mile eaſt of town, shot them down, and buried them at the foot of a large maple at the edge of a swamp, thruſting their bodies down deep into the mud. The skeletons are probably there yet. The place is known as "Spook Hollow."

[Perſons mentioned in an account of the Copus Maſsacre and proximate events.

  • Tecumſeh
  • Gen. Hull
  • Capt. Thomas Steene Armſtrong (aka Pamoxet, Native American chief)
  • Col. Samuel Kratzer
  • Capt. Martin
  • Capt. Douglaſ
  • James Copus †
  • James Cunningham
  • Andrew Craig
  • David Hill
  • Samuel Hill
  • John Lambright
  • Henry Copuſ
  • Weſley Copuſ
  • James Copuſ
  • Peter Kinney
  • Capt. Pipe
  • (Mr. or Rev.) Heckewelder
  • James Armſtrong
  • Silas Armſtrong
  • Toby † (Native American)
  • Morriſon
  • McCulloch
  • Sergt. J. C. Gilki(n)son
  • Dr. J. P. Henderſon
  • Levi Jones †
  • John Wallace
  • Reed
  • John Pugh
  • Mr. Weſtfall
  • Johnny Appleſeed
  • Capt. Garey
  • Gov. McArthur
  • Martin Ruffner †
  • Mr. & Mrs. Frederick Zimmer †
  • Frederick Zimmer, Jr.
  • Kate Zimmer †
  • Phillip Zimmer
  • Michael Ruffner
  • Richard Hugheſ
  • Jacob Staman
  • Levi Franghiſer
  • Mr. Lair or Laird
  • Phillip Kanotchy (Native American) ?
  • Mr. Henry Smith
  • Mr. Culler
  • Sarah Copus (later Mrs. Vail)
  • George Luntz
  • George Shipley †
  • John Tredrick †
  • Mr. Warnock †
  • Mr. George Dye
  • Nancy Copuſ
  • George Launtz
  • Joſeph Archer
  • George Carroll
  • Mr. John W. Vail
  • Amy (Copus) Whetmore
  • Seneca John † (Native American)
  • Quilipetoxe † (Native American)

† killed. ? poſsibly legendary ]

p. 404

Chapter XLIII Cass Townſhip

 * * *

The following perſons settled near the preſent site of the village of Shiloh, from 1816 to 1825: Frank Carmichael, Levi Bodley, William Bodley, Theſon Richardſon, Cornelius Brink, John and Aaron Pettit, Ephraim Vail, Richard Thew, John and Iſaac Murphy, Reaſon Barnes, Thomas James, Benjamin Young, William Cotton, Peter Hall, John Long, Jr., Thomas Hamilton and James Long.

 * * *

p. 407

As in other townſhips, the firſt schools were "subſcription" schools, and were taught in private houſes, there being no public funds for school purpoſes. The firſt schoolhouſe was built in 1819, on Section 9 ; and the firſt teacher was A. D. Bodley. Bennajah Boardman, the Methodiſt preacher, alſo taught one of the firſt schools, before any schoolhouſe was erected, in a cabin built for a dwelling, acroſs the road, south of old Salem Church, on the land now owned by David Long. This cabin had been occupied by a family of colored people — the firſt in the townſhip. In this same cabin, Boardman alſo preached for some time before the log church was built. John Armſtrong and an Engliſhman by the name of Simpſon, alſo taught in this cabin. After several years, a hewed-log schoolhouſe, which muſt have been the second one in the townſhip, was built on the preſent site of the town of Shiloh, and the old cal)in at Salem was deſerted, the scholars all gathering at this houſe. Armſtrong and Bodley alſo taught in this houſe. Some of the scholars were Levi Brink, Enos, Sophia and Rebecca Dayhuff, Newton Oſterhaut, Thomas Vail, Thomas, James and Alexander Pettit, Caleb Boardman, Eli Murphy, and Polly and Mary James.

p. 781

PETTIT, MERRIT, farmer and stock-raiſer, was born in this county Nov. 24, 1835; his father died be- fore he was born ; he was with his mother until he was 10 years of age ; his mother marrying again, he was thrown upon his own reſources at an early age, but, being of a determined mind, he overcame all obſtacles. In the fall of 1861, he moved to Huron Co., Ohio; he stayed eighteen months, then moved to Planktown, Richland Co., where he stayed about two years, and then went to Huron Co.; he stayed about one year, and sold his farm and returned to Caſs Townſhip, Richland Co.; he stayed one year, and then moved to Indiana, bought a farm, stayed two years, and returned to Richland Co., where he now lives. He was married to Miſs Mary A. Ruckman Jan. 26, 1861; they had three children — Chriſtina, born Nov. 21, 1862; Amelia, born Oct. 12, 1866, and Nancy, born March 12, 1868. Chriſtina .Broach, widow of Peter Broach, a pioneer of Richland Co., was born in Hampſhire Co., Va., March 27, 1804; her father, Thomas Pettit, came from Virginia in 1814, and settled near Manſfield, where he died. She was married to Peter Broach Aug. .30, 1826; they moved, a year afterward, to where she now lives; they stayed some time with Ephraim Vail, until they built a cabin, which was located about fifteen feet south of where the dwelling now stands, in which she and M. Pettit reſide; she has good health, and remembers well things which happened sixty years ago.

Table of Authorities: Vail

Graham, A. A. (Albert Adams) (1848-). Hiſtory of Richland County, Ohio : (including the original boundaries) ; its paſt and preſent, containing a condenſed comprehenſive hiſtory of Ohio, including an outline hiſtory of the Northweſt, a complete hiſtory of Richland county ... miſcellaneous matter, map of the county, biographies and hiſtories of ... the moſt prominent families, &c., &c. Internet Archive
Category: Vail Kiſling Copus