Celebrating 225-year birthday

About one half mile south of Beverly is a run that passes under Route 60 just before the big turn at Lakeside Motel. Apparently whoever was in charge of placing signs along this road did not think that it was important to identify the streams. Just to cite three examples, Olive Green Creek, Big Run and Bear Creek have no identifying signs. It is not surprising that the little stream below Beverly, Tuttle’s Run, has no sign clearly visible to motorists.

There was no sign announcing the place when the first permanent settlers landed near the mouth of Tuttle’s Run on April 20, 1789. The settlement was made by some of the thirty-nine members of the Second Association (also called Wolf Creek Associates). Arriving on that historic day 225 years ago were nineteen men and their families who left Campus Martius in a large pirogue and other canoes packed with essential items necessary to establish a new colony. More came later in the summer. The name of this group was significant. In spreading out from Marietta, the first organized settlement northwest of the Ohio River, Belpre was the first settlement in early April. The settlement at Tuttle’s Run was second, which accounts for the name Second Association.

Northwest of the settlement along the Muskingum River was rich bottom land. This land extended along the river at least one half mile above and below what is now Fort Frye High School. A short distance back from the bottom land was a plain, covered only with briars, small brush and an occasional stump. On a windy day, less than a month after their landing, the settlers set fire to this land and soon it was ready to plant. Getting an early start, the crops were in and were harvested before the early frost in the fall of 1789. Other settlements like Marietta and especially Belpre were not so lucky and were dependent on supplies furnished by members of the Second Association.

The men quickly spread out, built their cabins and began improving their lots. Soon the pioneers who landed at Tuttle’s Run and the ones who later joined them were settled along the bottom and plain (Plainfield), across the river near the mouth of Wolf Creek (Peninsula) and at the rapids where Wolf Creek Mills was built (Millburg). By 1790 all these settlements became part of Waterford Township. Both sides of the river were then referred to as Waterford, but Millburg remained in use for several years.

Soon settlers at Big Bottom were massacred and the lives of the estimated fifty men and their families now settled in the area were threatened. Fort Frye was built between January 3 and March 11, 1791, just in time to repel an Indian attack. The inhabitants were fortified for five years. When Fort Frye became crowded, a new settlement, which included a blockhouse, was started in 1794 near Olive Green Creek. One of their members, Abel Sherman, left the blockhouse in the fall of that year and was murdered and scalped at a little run one-half mile above Beverly. The stream is still referred to as Dead Man’s Run. The next year a colony was started on Wolf Creek near what is now Camp Hervida, but within months Sherman Waterman was killed. About the same time a colony at Kinney’s Garrison was started opposite what is now Lowell. The little group that landed at Tuttle’s Run in the spring of 1789 had withstood the Native Americans, increased in number and established new settlements beyond even their own expectations. They felt they had been touched by divine providence.

Although not often mentioned, these events were more than local events. They were part of our national history. Without these settlements and their successful defense during the Ohio Indian Wars, there would have been no westward expansion in the Northwest Territory. What happened along the banks of the Muskingum River changed the course of United States history. Recognizing the significance of places like Tuttle’s Run, Wolf Creek Mills, Big Bottom, Fort Frye, Kinney’s Garrison, and many others, will be part of a 225 year celebration that is planned for this year. The area included stretches from Lowell to Stockport.

To help inform the public about the places that were important during the early years and other historic places, a Special Edition driving tour will be printed in The Marietta Times on Friday, April 18th, just two days prior to the first settlement anniversary date.

The focus of the celebration will be activities planned by local businesses and organizations. An “Early Settlers’ Day” event will be held on July 4th at the Fifth Street Church of Christ in Beverly. If you have any questions or comments, contact Sue Trotter, chairperson of the 225 Year Celebration Committee, at 740-236-8757 or 984-4037. Local businesses and organizations are encouraged to support this worthwhile endeavor to celebrate our beginnings and the 225 years that have followed.

Phillip L. Crane, a Waterford resident and Marietta history teacher for 32 years, will share stories of historical events in the Lower Muskingum Valley.