Make a Mark: History Enthusiasts Can Find Many Signs of Belpre’s Proud Past | News, Sports, Jobs


The Near Border War Ohio historical marker is one of many in Belpre. (Photo by Michèle Newbanks)

BELPRE – Much has been said about Marietta’s historic past as the Northwest Territory’s first settlement, but just down the river in Belpre there are markers of the town’s own history.

A monument for the Farmers’ Castle sits in front of Belpre Church of Christ on Washington Boulevard. It marks a site where, in the late 1700s, 13 block houses were built in two rows with a wide street between them. It was built to protect 30 farming families from Indian attacks.

Bill Reynolds, a historian at the Campus Martius Museum, said the Farmers’ Castle was near the Ohio River in the middle of Blennerhassett Island, then called Backus Island.

He said he liked the name of the fortification.

“I like the name of the fence. Farmers’ castle. It was really their defense. said Reynolds. “What are the castles for? They are for defense. I don’t know who named it Château des Fermiers. Maybe it was a nickname that caught on. It gives the impression that it is great.

Cedarville Cemetery is pictured with its historical marker. (Photo by Michèle Newbanks)

Another marker in Belpre, for the Devol boom is located in Civitan Park, but the actual mill was within sight of the palisade, he said.

About 220 people were staying at the Farmers’ Castle, including 28 heads of families, according to Cornelius Evarts Dickinson in his 1920 book. “A History of Belpre, Washington County, Ohio.”

Other monuments and markers include:

* Belpre’s First Universalist Society – The marker indicates the site of the oldest congregation of the Ohio Universalist Church. It was founded on May 25, 1823. The marker was dedicated to the eternal honor of all whose lives and works reveal God to man in 1948. It is located in the 500 block of Middle Street.

* Bathsheba Rouse – Born September 28, 1769 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Bathsheba Rouse is recognized as the first woman to teach in the Northwest Territories. Rouse arrived in the area with other pioneers in 1788. The following year the community of Belpre employed Rouse to teach young children in the Farmers’ Castle near the Ohio River. The teaching of reading, writing and sewing was reserved for girls, while boys were taught reading, writing and arithmetic. Bathsheba Rouse Greene died on February 27, 1843 at the age of 73 and is buried alongside her husband in Marietta’s Mound Cemetery.

Ohio’s first artists honored with historic marker. (Photo by Michèle Newbanks)

The marker was erected in 1999 and is located in Howes Grove Park.

* Belpre and the Ohio River – The inscription notes that the history of Belpre and the Ohio River are inextricably linked. New England settlers, including farmers and Revolutionary War veterans, arrived by flat boats to “Belle Prairie” (beautiful prairie) in 1789. Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery made a keelboat tour in 1803 as it began its epic voyage to the Pacific.

Until around 1914, Belpre ferries carried travelers across the river. In the mid-1900s, industry replaced agriculture in the region’s economy, and Belpre became a center of polymer production. Meanwhile, a system of locks and dams placed Belpre in what became a 42-mile-long Ohio River. “Lake” where tugs sailed with barges up to 1,200 feet long and loads of up to 300,000 tons. An additional 35 miles of navigable tributaries to the area attracted those who used the mighty Ohio River for fishing and water recreation.

The marker was erected in 2003 and is located in Civitan Park, approximately 500 feet southeast of the bandstand.

* Cedarville Cemetery – According to the listing, Cedarville Cemetery contains the graves of 14 Revolutionary War soldiers – some of the graves overran the bank of the Ohio River as the level rose and the graves fell below the water. The property is maintained by the Trustees of the Township of Belpre. As early as the early 2000s, the Rotary Club of Belpre restored the property and noticed the graves.

Belpre’s Church of Christ is the site of a historical marker of the location of the Farmer’s Castle. (Photo by Michèle Newbanks)

The marker is on Cemetery Drive, just east of West Street.

* Early Ohio Artists – the marker was erected in 2003 in honor of several artists who made their debut in the area.

Born in Massachusetts in 1805, Sala Bosworth spent almost 19 of his 85 years in Washington County. After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, he returned to the county to paint numerous life-size and miniature portraits of prominent Washington County citizens.

His historical drawings were used in Samuel P. Hildreth’s Pioneer History. He is also known for his mural in what is now the Unitarian Universalist Church in Marietta.

Charles Sullivan became a friend of Bosworth’s after arriving in Washington County in 1833. Although he also painted portraits, he excelled in landscapes, including views of Blennerhassett Island, Blennerhassett Mansion, and Mounds of Marietta. Sullivan died in Marietta in 1867.

Civitan Park is the site of one of Belpre’s historic Ohio markers. (Photo by Michèle Newbanks)

Lily Martin Spencer arrived in Washington County with her parents at the age of 11 in 1833. Her artistry was already recognized and she decorated the walls of her new home with charcoal sketches. A pupil of Bosworth and Sullivan, she began working with oils and had her first exhibition in the county in 1841.

Most of his paintings showed life from a woman’s domestic perspective, while aiming for moral improvement. She was one of the main genre artists of the time. She died in New York in 1902.

The marker is about 50 feet southeast of the boat launch at River Access Park, off Blennerhassett Avenue, just west of Civitan Park.

* Putnam Family Library / Belpre Farmers’ Library – The registration notes as a shareholder of the United Library Association in Pomfret, Connecticut, General Israel Putnam amassed a large collection of books, which was called the Putnam Family Library. The collection was shared between his heirs after his death in 1790.

His son, Colonel Israel Putnam, brought part of this collection with him to Washington County in 1795. Education was a major concern of settlers in the Ohio Country and was reinforced by Section 3 of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.

The Belpre Library is one of the many historic Ohio sites in the city. (Photo by Michèle Newbanks)

As a result, the Putnam family collection circulated among the neighbors and provided the means of education for the inhabitants of Belpre and the surrounding communities. In 1796, a group of subscribers, paying $ 10 per share, fully organized a public library. Later known as the Belpre Farmers’ Library, it was the first library established in the Northwest Territory. The library operated under the direction of the shareholders until 1815.

The marker is located in front of the Belpre Public Library on Washington Boulevard.

* Underground Railroad Crossings / War Near the Border – Erected in 2008 in front of the Belpre Historical Society, 509 Ridge St., one side of the marker bears an Underground Railroad inscription, while the other depicts a war near the border. frontier.

Railroad crossings, agents and drivers were common along the Ohio River between Washington County and Wood County. At Constitution, 6 miles upriver from Belpre, Judge Ephraim Cutler listened to the cries of boos signaling that a boat full of fleeing slaves was passing from Virginia to the Ohio coast. “Aunt Jenny,” a female slave in Virginia, used a horn signal to alert abolitionist John Stone in Belpre when runaway slaves were crossing.

At Little Hocking, 8 miles downstream from Belpre, slaves crossing from Virginia looked for a lantern signal to guide them to the Horace Curtis station on the bank of the Ohio River. The runaway slaves were also aided by Thomas Vickers at Twin Bridges, James Lawton at Barlow and others as they traveled north by various routes through Morgan County to Putnam in Muskingum County where the Underground Railroad merged with the Muskingum River Corridor.

The border war inscription notes that an incident in July 1845 at Belpre almost led to a war between Ohio and Virginia when armed slave hunters from Virginia intercepted six runaway slaves exiting a boat on the Ohio coast.

Ohio citizens Peter M. Garner, Crayton J. Lorraine and Mordicai Thomas were arrested by Virginians, jailed in Parkersburg, and held without bond for violating Virginia’s runaway slave laws, laws not applicable in Ohio where slavery was illegal.

Jurisdictional questions regarding the dividing lines of states have been raised. The question was whether the prisoners had been apprehended in Ohio or Virginia. Tensions increased when the governor of Ohio threatened to use militias to enter Virginia and free the prisoners.

After six months, the courts in Virginia finally released the prisoners on their own recognizance, the jurisdictional issue never being resolved.

* Devol Floating Mill – According to the entry, in 1791 Captain Jonathan Devol, on a proposal from Griffin Greene, designed and built a floating grain mill, which was erected on two boats and anchored several meters from the shore of the Ohio River near this marker. Oak planks tied the boats together and formed a bridge over which stood a frame building that enclosed the undercarriages and millstones of the mill.

The mill’s position in a rapid stretch of the river and its proximity to the Farmers Castle, a fortification of 13 blockhouses, built by local farmers at the start of the Indian Wars, protected it from Indian raids.

The current of the river spun the wheel of the mill, and depending on the strength of the current, between 25 and 50 bushels of grain were processed in 24 hours. The Devol floating mill replaced the hand mill, which had become too laborious to operate. The mill supplied flour to settlers along the Ohio River for a distance of nearly 30 miles.

The marker was erected in 2002 and is located in Civitan Park, approximately 150 feet southwest of the bandstand.

Michele Newbanks can be contacted at [email protected]

The Ohio River has a historic marker in Civitan Park. (Photo by Michèle Newbanks)

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