Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Revolutionary War’

Fort Laurens – Only Revolutionary War Fort in Ohio Country

Fort Laurens Entrance

Fort Laurens is in Bolivar Ohio just minutes off I-77.

   Add a little history to your summer fun by visiting Fort Laurens near Bolivar. A Revolutionary War fort was built in Ohio back in 1778 by General Lachlan McIntosh on the banks of the Tuscarawas River. Fort Laurens was the only Revolutionary War fort built in the Ohio Country by the Continental Congress.

Fort Laurens Original Fort

This drawing captures the design of the original fort.

   Fort Laurens was named after Henry Laurens, the fifth president of the Continental Congress. The Americans built Fort Laurens with three purposes in mind.

Fort Laurens rifleman

Riflemen dressed in linen shirt and overalls helped build Fort Laurens.

   First, they hoped to use it as a base to attack the British garrison at Detroit Second, they hoped it would keep the American Indians, who were loyal to the British, from conducting raids against American settlers in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Finally, by offering protection to the neutral Christian Delawares, the Americans might convince them to forsake their neutrality and join the patriots’ cause.

Fort Laurens Men suffering in winter

That cold winter, men suffered at Fort Laurens in cold huts with little food.

   However, conditions were so cold during that first winter that most of the men were moved to Fort Pitt. Learning of the terrible conditions inside the fort, the British and a couple of hundred Indian warriors laid siege to the fort. The men inside the fort were reportedly reduced to making a soup broth of boiled moccasins. Two men snuck out and returned with a deer carcass. It is said that the men were so hungry they ate it raw.

   General Brodhead reported to General George Washington that the fort was too far from Detroit to stage an attack and not close enough to the Delaware Indians to offer protection. General Washington ordered the fort abandoned in August 1779.

Fort Laurens Picnic Shelters

Picnic shelters provide a great place for family gatherings.

   In July of 1887, Christian L Baatz visited the fort and became interested in preserving its history. Baazt with his friends Ed Pease and William Lowe became acquainted with landowner David Gibler. David and his brother had leveled the fort in 1853 for farming. 

   After much promotion on their part, in 1908 Ohio Archaeologists and Historical Society indicated they would like to purchase the land and create a state park. DAR and SAR also wanted to preserve the location for historical purposes.

Fort Laurens School Group

School groups participate in demonstrations to learn more about the history of our country.

   When nothing had been done for several years by these three organizations, Baazt, Pease, and Lowe drew up a petition to gather signatures to present to the Ohio State Legislature to create a proper memorial on the site. In 1915, legislation was passed to preserve the Fort Laurens site.

   It had only served as a fort for one year before it was abandoned in 1779. Part of the fort was destroyed during the building of the Ohio and Erie Canal. None of the original fort remains above ground, but the outline of the fort is still highly visible. The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, an 80-mile long recreational trail, goes through the site today.

Fort Laurens Museum

The outline of the original fort can be seen in the vicinity of the museum.

   A museum tells the story of soldiers on the frontier. There is an informative video that you won’t want to miss telling the fort’s history. A display of archaeological items discovered during excavation is displayed in the museum.

Fort Laurens soldiers guarding tomb

Uniformed soldiers were present at the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Patriot.

   There is a Tomb of the Unknown Patriot of the American Revolution paying tribute to the unknown defenders of the fort. In 1976, the year of the bicentennial of the American Revolution, a special military ceremony was held to bury the remains of the first soldier excavated in 1973. Twenty-one men lost their lives there in the year it served as a fort and the remains of some of those men are in a crypt in the museum wall. 

Fort Laurens crypt

This crypt in the museum wall contains the remains of some of the men who lost their lives here.

   Events are held here throughout the year from February through December. Check their website for up-to-date events at www.fortlaurens.org . Almost every month they have an interesting speaker. In July, they will be talking about “Women of the Revolution” presented by Sharon Snowden of Ohio First Ladies Museum.

Fort Laurens Reenactment

Reenactments bring to life the conflict of Revolutionary War days.

   Revolution on the Tuscarawas: Revolutionary War Encampment and Reenactment takes place on July 18-19. Explore British and Continental camps to meet soldiers from both sides of the conflict. Children can enjoy musket drills, colonial America games and crafts throughout the day. Tickets must be purchased ahead of time for this event.

Fort Laurens Towpath Trail

This shady Towpath Trailhead leads to the Ohio & Erie Canal after a walk through an enclosed walkway over the interstate.

   Today Fort Laurens is managed by the Zoar Community Association and remains a special memorial to those who died during the Revolutionary War. While there, bring a picnic and enjoy a relaxing walk on The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. The trail goes through a shady woods before crossing the interstate on an enclosed walkway. On the other side is part of that original Ohio and Erie Canal. You can walk the three miles to Zoar Village on the towpath trail if you have the time and energy.

   Add history to your summer adventures!

Fort Laurens is easy to reach off I-77 in Ohio. Take exit 93 for OH-212 W, then turn left on Mulberry Steet. Fort Laurens is on the left hand side. There is no admission fee to the grounds but a small fee for the museum.

The Old Mansion House Museum at Tu-Endie-Wei State Park

The Mansion House at Tu-Endie-Wei State Park in Point Pleasant, WV

The Mansion House at Tu-Endie-Wei State Park in Point Pleasant, WV

A promise of “I will build you a mansion” resulted in the construction of this Mansion House at Point Pleasant, WV at the site of the first battle of the Revolutionary War. Back in1796,  Walter Newman built this log-hewn house – the first in the Kanawha Valley – so his wife would have a beautiful Mansion House when she arrived in Virginia.

While he waited for the arrival of his wife, the house was used as a tavern and also had rooms for weary travelers.  The cost for a room per night was fifty cents, which most considered highway robbery.

As you enter through the back door of the house, the gift shop and information center are right inside the door. There are helpful people inside to tell you information regarding the house and the people who used to live there.

Square Grant Piano

Square Grant Piano

Don’t let the appearance of the house fool you. Inside there are more floors and rooms than you might imagine. Four levels in all are present in this old house: basement, first floor, second floor, and attic. The side of the house where the gift shop is located was the original tavern.   As you go up a few stairs and down a few more, you arrive at the side where the family lived. This has been restored to its original nature with colonial and early American furnishings. Included in the parlor is a square baby grand piano, which was one of the cherished treasures early Americans brought over the Alleghenies. It seems likely that Walter Newman thought this was a necessity for his wife’s mansion.

Parlor where Daughters of American Revolution meet today

Parlor where Daughters of American Revolution meet today

Their former sitting room is today the place where the regular meetings of the Colonel Charles Lewis Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution are held. Colonel Charles Lewis and his brother,General Andrew Lewis, were both heroes of that long ago battle of Point Pleasant. In 1901 a branch of the Daughters of the American Revolution restored the house to its original style with the assistance of the citizens of Point Pleasant. Their goal was to preserve the way of life that was prevalent in the 1790’s on the Ohio and Grand Kanawha Rivers.  Today this Old Mansion is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Basement kitchen at The Mansion House

Basement kitchen at The Mansion House

Heading to the basement, you discover the kitchen! In high-status families, food was often prepared in the lowly kitchen, often located in the basement of the house. The fireplace for the kitchen located at this low level, most likely kept the rest of the house warm during the winter. A handmade braided rug rests in front of the fireplace with kitchen pans and tools hung nearby. The wooden rocking chair was placed near enough to gather warmth from the fire, and would have been used by visitors or the man of the house, as the women didn’t have much time to sit and rock. Then the food would be carried up to the first floor to be served in a more dignified room.

Four-poster bed over 150 years old

Four-poster bed over 150 years old

On the second floor were several bedrooms, probably those earlier used as the rooms rented to travelers, and later used by the family.  Here were small rooms for the children as well as a beautiful four poster bed, which is over 150 years old. An old-fashioned spinning wheel is displayed near the window.

Still going upward on even narrower steps now, you arrive at the attic where there is a large display of Indian artifacts, books and clothes from that era, plus other interesting objects. It is definitely worth the climb!

Today the Mansion House remains along the Ohio River as part of the Tu-Endie-Wei State Park. Daughters of the American Revolution are frequently on hand in colonial dress to give informative tours.

Mothman Hug

Mothman Hug

While in Point Pleasant, don’t forget to visit some of the area’s other interesting places. This is the place of the famous Silver Bridge Collapse in 1967. You will find a monument marking the spot of the original bridge as you walk the artistic Riverwalk with floodwalls painted with scenes of Point Pleasant history. Don’t forget to visit the Mothman statue and the Mothman Museum to learn more of the unusual and unexplained happenings in this town years ago.  You might even get a hug from the Mothman himself.

The Mansion House is located at Tu-Endie-Wie State Park in Point Pleasant, WV at the end of Main Street where the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers meet. The Mansion House Museum is opened May through October. Hours are Mon-Sat. 10:00-4:30, and Sun. 1:00-4:30. There is no cost, but donations are accepted.

“The Point Between Two Waters” Tu-Endie-Wei State Park

Bridge over Kanawha River where it joins the Ohio River.

View of bridge over Kanawha River while relaxing on the banks of the Ohio RIver.

Located at the junction of the Ohio River and Kanawha River, Tu-Endie-Wei State Park in Mount Pleasant, West Virginia  marks the spot where the Battle of Point Pleasant was fought during the Revolutionary War. Here in 1774 the Virginia militia, led by General Andrew Lewis, fought hand-to-hand with warriors from the Northwestern Confederated Tribes under the leadership of renowned Indian Shawnee chief, Cornstalk.

The Congressional Declaration states:  “This plan, however, as the world now knows, was thwarted as to the place of conflict, when the traitorous Dunmore failed to join Lewis at the mouth of the Kanawha River and they to march together into the enemy’s country.” The original plan called for Governor Dunmore and General Lewis to have the two wings of their Virginia militia meet at the mouth of the Kanawha and pursue the Indians back into their own country, north of the Ohio River. Some feel perhaps Dunmore purposely didn’t arrive in hopes that the Shawnee would defeat the militia, since Dunmore soon became a prominent leader of the British War effort during the Revolutionary War.

This 84' granite oblisk commemorates the Birginia militiamen who gave their lives during the battle.

This 84′ granite obelisk commemorates the Virginia militiamen who gave their lives during the battle.

An 84-foot tall granite obelisk stands in the center of the park in remembrance of the Virginia militiamen, who lost their lives during the battle. At the base of this statue is a figure of a frontiersman. The importance of this battle stretches far beyond that one day encounter as it put to rest Indian wars on the frontier and prevented an Indian alliance with the British.

Throughout the park, several smaller memorials have been placed dedicated to some of the main heroes in this battle that many claim was the first battle of the Revolutionary War.

Chief Cornstalk Monument

Chief Cornstalk Monument

Keigh-tugh-qua, better known as Chief Cornstalk, was a well respected leader in the Ohio Valley. Both Indians and white men knew Chief Cornstalk as a man who wanted peace with the white men.  But he felt forced to defend his people on this spot at Point Pleasant, against who he called “Long Knives”, the colonists of Virginia. At that point he wanted to turn the frontier red with the Long Knives’ blood.  Although the Indians were defeated, Chief Cornstalk did survive this battle.

In 1777, Cornstalk returned to Point Pleasant to warn the settlers that the British were trying to incite his tribesmen to attack.  Fearing an unpleasant encounter, Cornstalk and companions were imprisoned at Fort Randolph, where he was killed by a dozen rifle shots while standing at the doorway of his room. After moving his burial place several times, his remains were brought back here for their final resting place near the field of his most famous battle.

Statue of Mad Anne Bailey along the Ohio River

Statue of Mad Anne Bailey along the Ohio River

One interesting monument marks the burial spot of Mad Anne Bailey, whose husband, Richard Trotter, was killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant. This statue along the Ohio River shows frontier scout Mad Anne dressed in buckskins as she delivered messages to remote places throughout the Virginia area to avenge her husband’s death. “Mad” escapades in fighting the red savages on the frontier earned her the nickname of “Mad Anne”. Later she married John Bailey, who was stationed at Fort Lee (Charleston). Mad Anne has been given credit for saving Fort Lee from destruction as she rode alone at nearly fifty years of age for gunpower to Fort Savannah (Lewisburg), which was a two hundred mile trip. Her reward ? The black horse she rode. At the age of seventy, Mad Anne lived in a cave until her son William, who she left with friends at the age of seven, found her and took her to Gallipolis to live in a tiny cabin near his family.

Mural on floodwall along the Ohio River

Mural on floodwall along the Ohio River

Murals depicting the meeting of the tribes and various battlefield scenes line the floodwalls of the Riverwalk along the Ohio River. Painted by artist, Robert Dafford, these scenes bring to life the memory of that one-day battle so long ago that changed the course of history. The inscription above one of those murals explains: Each was fighting for his own way of life.

Today, like in times throughout history, we each continue to fight for what we believe. May your battles be a little less severe.

Tu-Endie-Wei State Park is located at Point Pleasant, West Virginia  at the end of Main Street where the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers meet. Take a stroll down the Riverwalk to enjoy the beautiful Ohio River, the floodwall murals, and many statues along the way. Frequent festivals throughout the year are held here and it is often a stopping point for riverboats. 

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