Native Americans of Ohio played an important role in the War of 1812
Pioneer surveyor Lucas Sullivant arrived in what is now central Ohio in 1795.
It came in the wake of the Treaty of Greenville, which opened the southern two-thirds of what would soon be Ohio to settlement. Sullivant and his multi-man survey team were tasked with surveying for sale and settlement of the northern level of the Military District of Virginia between the Scioto and Miami rivers.
In 1797 he created a town on the site of the west bank of the Scioto and called it Franklinton.
Sullivant built a beautiful new brick house in the center of his new town, and in 1801 brought his wife, Sarah Starling Sullivant, to live in Franklinton. The Sullivants would raise three sons in the house, which was something of a showcase in the community and attracted the attention of people – natives and newcomers alike.
A later local history described the beginning of Franklinton and its visitors.
“After the Treaty of Greenville, the Indians mostly disappeared from the neighborhood, but a few still lingered.”
During the War of 1812, General William Henry Harrison used Franklinton as one of his main bases of operations. To ensure the success of his campaign against the British, he needed the support of “neutral” Native Americans who had not joined the Shawnee chief Tecumseh and the British army at Detroit.
A later account describes the conference of June 21, 1813: “The Delaware, Shawnee, Wyandot, and Seneca tribes were represented by about 50 chiefs and warriors. General Harrison represented the government, and with him were his staff and a brilliant array of uniformed officers. Behind was a detachment of soldiers.
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“The general began to speak in a calm and measured tone befitting the grave circumstance, but an indefinite oppression seemed to hold everything in suspense. … At length the persuasive voice of the great commander struck a delicate chord, and when Tarhe, the Crane, the great Wyandot chief, slowly rose to his feet, and stood for a moment in a graceful and authoritative attitude, made a curt reply, and then with others hurrying to grasp Harrison’s hand, as a sign, not only of friendship in accord, but to stand as a barrier on our exposed frontier, a terrible doubt and apprehension was lifted from everyone’s heart.
The large elm tree where the conference was held stood for many years near Hawkes Hospital at West Street and Davis Avenue. When the tree was removed due to age and disease, a stone marker with a plaque was placed to mark its location.
“After Harrison’s victory on the Thames, Canada (in 1813), bands of Indians from villages up the Scioto came to Franklinton to trade with Lincoln Goodale, Starling and Delashmutt, RW McCoy, Henry Brown, Samuel Barr and other storekeepers as merchants were then called.
“These Indians brought furs, skins, baskets, maple sugar, cranberries, dried venison and other items for which they would only pay in silver. After getting the coin, they bought ammunition, tobacco, knives, axes, cloth, tattoo pigment, blankets, brightly colored banners, and finally a supply of whiskey…for the “drunkard.” with which they concluded their commercial transactions.
“During one of these trading expeditions, a hulking Indian named Bill Zane… took offense to Mrs. Lucas Sullivant because of the accidental detachment of one of her packs left at her residence and (was brandishing) her hunting knife when Mr. Sullivant rushed in, seized (it) and threw it out.
“The marks of Zane’s hunting knife, with which he had angrily scratched the measure of a piece of calico on the chair top, have long been preserved as family memories of the episode.”
With the War of 1812, a family tragedy struck the Sullivants. A family story tells this story.
“Franklinton was the rendezvous of the Second Army under Harrison, assembled after the surrender of Hull, and the Kentucky troops under the command of the valiant and venerable Governor (Isaac) Shelby were encamped in Mr. Sullivant’s quarters, and his house was the welcome vacation spot of officers and men, many of whom were personal acquaintances of himself and his wife.
“She was a spirit at the service of sick soldiers, in the camp and in the hospital, ministering to their needs from her own table and stores. In 1814 a malignant and contagious typhus, or cold plague, as it was called, broke out in the camp, and she contracted the disease, of which she died on April 28 of that year… to the poor and needy, to the sick or the afflicted, she was indeed a ‘Lady Bountiful’, and the memory of her gentle manners, good deeds and bountiful charities long survived her.
Sarah Starling Sullivant was 32 years old. Lucas Sullivant never remarried. He raised his three sons in the large house at the southwest corner of Franklinton’s public square. He, Sarah and many other family members and loyal acquaintances are buried together in Green Lawn Cemetery.
Local historian and author Ed Lentz writes the As It Were column for Community news this week and The Despatch of Columbus.