Monday, November 3, 2014

The Assassination of President Garfield

Most American schoolchildren can tell you all about the dastardly John Wilkes Booth and the fatal shot he inflicted upon President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theater... but what do most Americans know about the assassination of President James Garfield? "Not much" is probably a pretty common answer, so I'll share some of the basic facts:

-President Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteau, a delusional man who felt as though Garfield owed him an appointment to a consulship in Paris because of a speech he wrote in support of Garfield during the 1880 election (The speech was never actually given; Guiteau printed copies and handed them out). 

-Guiteau put off his shooting of President Garfield at least once because he did not want Mrs. Garfield to witness the shooting, which would further upset her after a recent bout with malaria. 

-The shooting took place on July 2nd, 1881, at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station (The National Gallery of Art stands here now) in Washington D.C. 

-In a heartbreaking turn of events, Secretary of War Robert Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln, was at the station to see the President off. The shooting made him think of his father, and he is quoted as saying "How many hours of sorrow I have passed in this town".

-President Garfield was shot from behind at point blank range in the waiting room at the station. One bullet nicked his shoulder, and the other missed his spine and lodged behind his pancreas. 

-Although the shooting happened on July 2nd, the President did not pass away until September 19th. During that two and a half month period, the President was bedridden and suffered a great deal. An autopsy revealed that his body was filled with pus, thanks in part to doctors sticking their dirty fingers in his bullet wound; doctors weren't yet aware of the link between cleanliness and infection prevention. 

-The trial of Charles Guiteau was a complete spectacle. During the trial, Guiteau: Sang songs, recited poems, passed notes with people in the audience, posted an ad in the New York Herald looking for a wife, and tried to claim he wasn't responsible for the President's death because of the doctor's malpractice towards him. Nevertheless, Guiteau was hanged on June 30, 1882. 

-Garfield and his wife Lucretia rest in a crypt under the Garfield Memorial in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, OH. 

The Garfield Memorial

 Dedication plaque

Statue of President Garfield (Interior of the Memorial)

 Statue from the side

 Caskets of the President and his wife, Lucretia (The urns in the background contain the ashes of their daughter and son-in-law)

Friday, October 10, 2014

First White Child Born in Ohio - John Lewis Roth

The permanent presence of Europeans/whites in Ohio can be traced back to present day Tuscarawas County. On July 4th, 1773, John Lewis Roth's birth in the mission house at Gnadenhutten marked the first time a white child had been born in Ohio. His father was Johann Roth, and his mother was Maria Agnes Roth. Johann was a clergyman who served whites and natives in Ohio and Pennsylvania from roughly 1756 until his death in 1791. Maria served alongside him and gave birth to three or four children (I am confused as to how many children they had because they were all sons, and although they were all given a distinct middle name, they were all given the first name 'John'...). It's hard to imagine how perilous it must have been for a woman to live in relative wilderness while heavily pregnant, never knowing if her survival or that of her child was guaranteed. 

Plaque reads:

This tablet marks the birthplace of the
first white child born in the Moravian
mission house at Gnadenhutten

John Lewis Roth

Born July 4, 1773 - Died Sept. 25, 1842
Buried at Bath, PA

Erected by the Ohio Society Daughters of the American Colonists

The reconstructed mission house in the background is the same location where, in 1782, native Christian converts would be massacred. It is hard to consider European/white colonization of the Americas as a triumph when their presence brought such great suffering to the natives they encountered. 

Mother and Father of John Lewis Roth on Find a Grave:

Monday, October 6, 2014

Massacre at Gnadenhutten

Alas! alas! for treachery! the boasting white man came
With weapons of destruction - the sword of lurid flame;
And while the poor defenseless ones together bowed in prayer.
Unpitying they smote them all while kneeling meekly there.
The cry of slaughtered innocence went loudly up to heaven;
And can ye hope, ye murdering bands, ever to be forgiven?
We know not - yet we ween for you the latest lingering prayer
That trembled on your victims lips was, 'God, forgive and spare!'

Taken from a collected history of the Gnadenhutten Massacre, compiled by the Gnadenhutten Monument and Cemetery Association, founded on October 7th, 1843

Obelisk memorial erected on the 100th anniversary of the massacre 

The Gnadenhutten Massacre was one of the darkest days in Ohio's history. On March 8th, 1782, nearly 100 Delaware natives, who were Christian converts, were massacred by Pennsylvania militiamen. These men, women, and children had committed no crime; their only fault was to belong to the same tribe as other natives who had committed raids and murders against white settlers in Pennsylvania. 

The natives who were massacred had returned to their former village at Gnadenhutten (Meaning "Huts of Grace" in German) for food supplies. The Continental Army had forced the natives living at Gnadenhutten to relocate to the banks of the Sandusky River, for fear that they may conspire with the British. After the natives began to starve at their new settlement, they begged the Continental Army to allow them to return to Gnadenhutten to retrieve the corn crops they had been forced to leave in the fields months earlier when they were relocated. Natives were permitted to return to former settlements in Gnadenhutten, Salem, and Schoenbrunn, to collect food only. 

Raids had been perpetrated by other bands of Delaware natives in Pennsylvania during this time. These natives were aligned with the British, and committed horrible crimes towards innocent civilians. The Christian Delaware natives aligned themselves with peace, but supported the Continental Army. However, Pennsylvania militiamen who saw the deaths of their friends and family members were hungry for revenge, and their judgement was severely impacted by their grief (Afterwards, some of the militiamen regretted their involvement, as the slaying did nothing to ease the loss of their loved ones). 

The militiamen first came upon Gnadenhutten under the guise of peace. They pretended to offer the struggling natives protection, so as long as they surrendered their weapons and allowed the militiamen to take them to safety in Pennsylvania. The natives did not hesitate to give up their weapons and accept the protection of the militia, under Col. Williamson. What the natives did not know was that other lone natives in the town and surrounding area had already been murdered on sight, so they would not warn others of the militia's coming. As the natives left the fields they had been harvesting to re-enter the town, believing themselves to be rescued of the hunger and upheaval they had been through recently, they did not notice the disorder and blood spatter until it was too late. All of the natives were seized by the relatively few militiamen, who now had an advantage, having taken all of the weapons from the natives earlier. 

A reconstruction of the cooper's cabin, one of the "Slaughter Houses", on its original site

Cooper cabin marker

The militiamen voted in the night to kill all of the natives, rather than take them prisoner. The natives had been confined to separate cabins, one for men, the other for women and children. During the last night of their lives, the Christian natives prayed and sang, preparing themselves for death. 

On the morning of March 8th, 1782, their prayers were interrupted by militiamen asking them if they were ready to die. This was how the brutal events commenced. The natives were led in pairs to "Slaughter Houses", where they were bludgeoned and scalped in rapid succession. Two teenage boys were able to escape and hide under one of the killing cabins. It was through their survival that the events of this terrible day were made known to others. 

Rear view of memorial obelisk and reconstruction of the mission house, where it is believed that the bodies of the natives were burned

View of the obelisk memorial from the corner of the mission house

After the natives had all been killed, their bodies were thrown into the mission house, and the entire town was set ablaze. The bodies of the slain were left in the ruins of their village for nearly 20 years until friendly, loving souls laid them to rest in a burial mound in the village. 

Burial site of the slain Delaware natives 

Burial mound marker

Historical marker

A visit to Gnadenhutten is a humbling experience. I visited on a rainy day, with little sun and lots of chill in the air. Maybe the weather added to my mood, but the entire area filled me with a great deal of melancholy. Explaining the feeling is difficult, but walking around the cabins and burial area filled me with this unusual heavy feeling, and I was very aware of my surroundings and the state of mind of all of the parties involved, however odd that may sound. As I moved on to the adjoining cemetery, the feeling lifted. When I came back to the murder site, the feeling returned. It was not an overbearing or unpleasant feeling, but it made me appreciate the gravity of this event and the impact it had on history. 

Natives who lived in Ohio tortured white captives extensively after Gnadenhutten. Many years later, the great Tecumseh would even remember this event as a day when innocent natives begged for mercy and found none. Natives were wronged and pushed farther and farther from the life they knew, until they lost almost everything that had once been theirs; villages, farmland, hunting ground, culture, etc. 

If you get a chance to visit, I highly recommend it. There is a small museum, but it was not open when I visited. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The World of David Zeisberger

David Zeisberger is by no means a name many people recognize from their history books. Unfortunately, his important role in the founding of Ohio goes largely unnoticed. The late 18th century brought unjust bloodshed to the Native Americans who converted to Christianity and attempted to live peacefully in Ohio. Ohio was considered the frontier at this time, with land ideal for farming and natural resources in abundance. However, the peaceful Christian settlements, consisting of both Native American and European inhabitants, saw little peace or permanence. Zeisberger founded the first settlement in Ohio, and unfortunately had to see the great horrors that came upon the Native Americans he tried to help...

Zeisberger was born in Moravia (Which is now a part of the present day Czech Republic) on April 11th, 1721, and came to the British colonies in the 1730s. Moravian Christians began establishing settlements on the frontier in Pennsylvania, in order to preach to Native Americans in places untouched by Europeans. It was here that Zeisberger found his calling. Before coming to Ohio, he lived with Delaware, Mohawk, Iroquois, and other Native American groups in Pennsylvania. The rights of Native Americans were argued through Zeisberger's tongue, as he became fluent in the languages of different tribes.

Delaware natives and Moravian missionaries first came to Ohio in 1772, due to weakening relations with colonists in Pennsylvania. Colonists were beginning to assert their independence from Britain, and their were also asserting claims on lands that had belonged to tribes for generations. Pennsylvania was becoming more divided, as natives took sides, and it became a dangerous place to live, with frequent raids and conflict. The first Moravian/Delaware settlement in Ohio was Schoenbrunn, meaning 'beautiful spring' in German. Schoenbrunn was home to the first school and church in Ohio, and it began to thrive. At its most populous point, Schoenbrunn was home to nearly 400 men, women, and children. As the American Revolution began, and many Native Americans sided with the British, the soon-to-be Americans began to wonder if the Moravians were plotting against them in their settlement, alongside the Delaware natives they considered their neighbors. Zeisberger and his fellow missionaries and converts left Schoenbrunn in 1777, moving closer to present day Coshocton, in order to quell suspicion that they were conspiring with the British. The British arrested Zeisberger in 1782 at Fort Detroit in Michigan and held him for treason, since he often reported the movements of the British to colonial forces, It seemed that the strife in Pennsylvania had followed them to Ohio, and it was during this time that the Gnadenhutten Massacre occured.

Colonists grew even more suspicious of the Delaware natives Zeisberger converted and lived alongside. Delaware natives who did not live alongside Moravian missionaries often fought against the colonists, and too often there was no differentiation between the Christian natives and other Delaware groups. The Christian Delaware natives were accused of leading raids against settlers in Pennsylvania, which they vehemently denied. Pennsylvania militiamen, angry over the raid led by another group, wanted revenge. They voted to kill the Christian natives (It is rumored that a bloody dress was planted in one of the cabins of the Christian natives, so a guilty verdict could be jusified and achieved). The Delaware natives spent the night before their execution in prayer and sang hymns to soothe their children.

On March 8th, 1782, the Delaware natives were led to their deaths in present day Gnadenhutten. Two "killing cabins" had been set aside; one for men, and one for women and children. Death was brought to nearly 100 natives by means of blunt force trauma and scalping. After the murders, their corpses were piled in the cabins and set on fire. Relations between natives and Europeans was never the same, with much killing taking place on both sides.

After Zeisberger was released from British custody, he took many of his native converts to Michigan to start new settlements, since Ohio was now a place of massacre and fear. Ohio continued to call to Zeisberger, and he eventually came back and established a new mission near present day New Philadephia/Goshen Township. It was here that Zeisberger died, on November 17th, 1808. As he lay on his death bed, witnesses stated in their diaries that native converts sang hymns to Zeisberger, bringing him comfort in his final hours. He was laid to rest by European and native settlers who had a feast in his honor after his death.

The cemetery in which David Zeisberger was laid to rest is modest and peaceful. Delawares and Europeans rest side by side, and Zeisberger himself rests next to Chief Killbuck, who has a small town in Holmes County named after him.

Schoenbrunn Village is just a few miles away from the cemetery, as is Gnadenhutten. I encourage you to learn more about this incredibly interesting and perilous time in our history!

David Zeisberger:

Schoenbrunn Village:

Gnadenhutten Massacre:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 19, 1692

August 19, 1692: 5 innocent people were hung during one of the most horrific days of the Salem Witch Trials. John Willard, George Jacobs, Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, and John Proctor were swept up in the hysteria and hanged for their supposed status as a witch compacted with Satan. 

John Willard
A constable in Salem village, responsible for ensuring that the accused were brought before court. When he expressed doubts about those he brought to trial, he himself was implicated, convicted, and hanged.

George Jacobs, Sr.
Was around 72 years of age when his trial began. One of his accusers was his granddaughter, Margaret Jacobs. His body was reclaimed by family after his hanging and buried on their farm. In the 1860s, a skeleton was discovered in the area where he was rumored to have been buried. When the 300th anniversary of the trials came about in 1992, this body was moved to the Rebecca Nurse Homestead and a headstone was erected in his memory.

Martha Carrier
Cotton Mather referred to her as "Queen of Hell". She was unafraid to challenge the accusers, by claiming they were "out of their wits" when they said she had a "black man" whispering in her ear during her interrogation. Having conceived a child before her marriage to her husband, Thomas, and being accused of using witchcraft to spread a smallpox epidemic to family and neighbors, her fate was sealed.

George Burroughs
As a former minister of Salem village, he was a seemingly very unlikely target for the charge of witchcraft. However, financial woes between he and the Putnam family were not forgotten when Ann Putnam was "bewitched" and unleashing accusations. Many accusers said Burroughs was the leader of the Salem area witches, presiding over their dark work. His ability to correctly recite the Lord's prayer before his hanging led many to doubt his guilt (Since it was thought a witch was unable to recite the Lord's prayer correctly), but Cotton Mather urged the crowd not to doubt his guilt, and his hanging went on as scheduled.

 John Proctor
A respected businessman and neighbor about Salem. Initially, the charges were only against his wife, Elizabeth. As he questioned the validity of spectral evidence (The evidence that a person's spirit left their body and caused harm to other and their property) and its role in the trials, he also found himself accused.

There are many aspects of the turmoil in Salem that I am sure I have neglected to mention. A complex web of financial, religious, land-based, and incredibly personal issues were at play, which caused neighbor to turn against neighbor. 

We can say that if we had been there, none of this would have happened... but how can we be so sure? With our 21st century methods and reasoning, we find ourselves to be above the now laughable spectral evidence. However, if we were given the knowledge and approach of a 17th century dweller of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, would we have seen through the hysteria? Or would we have been caught up in it? 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Wounded at Shiloh

Shiloh was one of the most bloody, devastating battles fought during a civil war encapsulated by an unprecedented loss of life and carnage. On April 6th and 7th, 1862, battle raged near a country church named Shiloh, the Hebrew word for "peace". Casualties at Shiloh alone proved to be greater than all previous American wars combined. At the tender age of 23, this young man was wounded during the battle, languished for a month, and later died in Newport, Kentucky. As a member of the 15th, Shiloh was the first major battle seen by the regiment. The 15th arrived at Shiloh on April 7th as a member The Army of the Ohio, Second Division, Sixth Brigade. They emerged into battle in the early morning hours, and engaged in battle with Confederate forces near the Corinth Road and Sherman's headquarters. Young Joseph received his mortal wound in this area of the battlefield, and was no doubt subjected to the unclean methods of 19th century battlefield medicine. No attention was paid to sanitation or disinfection. Wounds were prodded with dirty hands, left uncovered to fester in the hot sun, and men died slowly and in agony. I can only hope this young man found peace and rests easily. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June 2nd, 1692: A Guilty Verdict for Bridget Bishop

On June 2nd, 1692, the Court of Oyer and Terminer (From French, meaning to "hear and determine") convened in Salem to decide the fates of those who were suspected of witchcraft. Bridget Bishop was the first to receive a guilty verdict. Bishop was seen as less Puritanical than the rest of those in the community, as she was outspoken and frequently quarreled with her husband. 12 years before, she had been tried and acquitted of witchcraft. This made her an easy, obvious target for the "afflicted" to accuse her of tormenting them. As she was questioned in front of the court, the girls who accused her squirmed and screamed, claiming to be tormented by her spectre. Spectral evidence, or proof that the spirit left the body to seek out new victims to torment by various means, so they would become conscripts to Satan, was taken seriously by the court until very late in the trials. As more and more were executed or left to languish in prison, officials began to consider that Satan was using the form of Godly people to do his work, without them being in line with the Satan (It is important to note that those presiding over the trial did not cease to believe that spectres existed; they simply came to the conclusion that Satan could be creating the spectres in the form of those they knew and trusted, without their knowledge, in order to delude the community and drive them away from God). A confession was never given by Bishop, who maintained her innocence until the moment she died. After she was found guilty, she was hanged on June 10th, 1692. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cawnpore Massacre

Rev. D. E. Campbell,
Maria Irvine Bigham, 
His Wife,
Fanny and William,
Their Children, 
Were Slain By The Sepoys,
At Cawnpore, India,
June A.D. 1857.


Rev. E.D. Campbell,
Only Survivor Of The Family,
From The Massacre At Cawnpore,
Died At Monmouth, Illinois, 
Aug. 15th A.D. 1885, Aged 32 Years,
Rev. v11 14th. 

     The bloody events that occurred in Cawnpore, India were a result of tumultuous relations between the British and native Indians. Nearly all of the men, women, and children who were situated in this town with The East India Company, which controlled trade relations with India, perished. The following newspaper article from the period states that Rev. Campbell and his family were acting with others as Presbyterian missionaries to the Indian people. Fanny and William Campbell were only 4 and 2 at the time of their deaths. The entire account is quite bloody and horrible...

Presumably, their final resting place is in India. On Wikipedia, it states that many of the bodies were thrown down a dry well after death, but this is disputable. The event gave fervor to the British in their treatment of Indians, with chants of "Remember Cawnpore!" being used in future clashes and battles. 

Their memorial is located in Oak Hill Cemetery in Millersburg, OH.