Monroe and Monroe County Veterans, Memorial Day

Monroe and Monroe County Veterans, Page One

This is just the first page in many volumes of their stories.

Remember Them on Memorial Day and Every Day…

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They, too, loved the ordinary human things – the soft spring breeze scattering wayward hair, the smell of a woodfire with stew bubbling above it, loving faces reflected in firelight, emerging from a dark physical or mental woods to home, a welcoming square of light and hope. Yet, they left home to fight for reasons of their own and sometimes caught in a government’s twisting arm. Some of them returned home to live out their lives. Others returned home to rest in quiet graveyards and watch the lives of others.

All across the country and the world, they are with us:  in names covered with moss covered stones, in names etched on stone monuments, in the hearts and minds of people who can’t forget. Remember them this Memorial Day and the other days of the year and thank them.

Revolutionary War

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Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samuel Stone. He served in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. He is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Dundee.

War of 1812

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Battle of Frenchtown, Monroe

John Barnett. Died August 11, 1872. Aged 86 years. Served in the War of 1812 through New York State. He is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Dundee.

David Vanpelt. Circa 1788-November 25, 1880. He was a Private in the New Jersey Militia of Captain J. Vorhees in the War of 1812. He died at Dundee and he is buried in Old Petersburg Cemetery.

William Walters. He was born in 1794 in Pennsylvania. He fought in the War of 1812 and he is buried in Port Creek Evergreen Cemetery in Carlton.

Toledo War (1835)

Captain Nelson White. 1808-1899. Nelson White came to Michigan in 1832, locating his farm two miles west of the village of Dundee. He received his deed from President Andrew Jackson and owned the land since then. For many years after he settled in Dundee, Captain White went back east during the summer, commanding a boat on the Erie Canal. In 1838, he married Emily Jenne and they had ten children. He served as first lieutenant in the company recruited in Monroe County to fight the Toledo War. With his men, he “invaded” enemy territory and always enjoyed telling war stories.  He is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Dundee.

Mexican War – 1846-1848

Augustus Glean. Soldier in the Mexican War. He also served in the Civil War in Company D, 7th Michigan Infantry He was wounded twice at the battle of Cold Harbor He is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Dundee.

Edwin F. Mills. Company B., 2nd Ohio Infantry, Mexican War. He is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Dundee.

Civil War

Private Frederick A. Ballen of Company B, 47th Ohio Infantry, received the Civil War Medal of Honor for his bravery at Vicksburg, Mississippi, on May 3, 1863. His citation reads “Was one of a party that volunteered and attempted to run the enemy’s batteries with a steam tug and 2 barges loaded with subsistence stores”. He received his medal on November 6, 1908. He is buried in Carleton Cemetery.

John Banmiller. 1838-February 2, 1925. Civil War Veteran. He enlisted on November 18, 1862, in the First Michigan Light Artillery Battalion K. He is buried in St. Paul Cemetery, Maybee.

 

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Grand Review, Union Troops, Washington D.C., May 1865.

Martin Bela Brockway. Company B, Fourth Michigan Infantry, Civil War. (1835-1905.) He was Wounded in action at New Bridge May 24, 1862. Shot in arm. Taken prisoner at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863. He was held as a prisoner of war for 21 months; most of that time at Andersonville, Georgia. His brother, Oliver of the Eighteenth Michigan Infantry, was also held at Andersonville and died the day after Martin arrived there. He was badly affected with scurvy that his gums bled and swelled. His teeth were all loose, so that he could not eat his rations of corn bread. His leg and foot were much swollen so that he could only walk with great effort. Discharged at Detroit, Michigan, July 13, 1865. He is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg.

Elijah M. Lamkin was born at Raisinville, Michigan on September 5, 1830,attended the district schools, and became a farmer. On August 23, 1861, he enlisted in Co. I of the 11th Michigan Volunteer Infantry. His regiment participated in the Battles of Gallatin, Elk River, Stone River, Chickamauga and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Wounded at the Battle of Stone River, Elijah had also been suffering from inflammation of the eyes which became so severe at Chattanooga that he had to be hospitalized. Later he was transferred to the hospital at Louisville, Kentucky, where he soon took charge of it as steward. He continued as steward for eight months and then received his honorable discharge on September 15, 1864. Elijah returned to Michigan and in 1865, he married Miss Martha D. Sabin. They raised a family of six children. (Talcott Wing, History of Monroe County, Michigan. (New York: Munsell & Company, 1890) p.665. Elijah is buried in London Township Cemetery, London.

John Peter McGill, Sr. was born on October 15, 1829 in Scotland. He served in the Confederate Army in the 1st Louisiana Infantry (Strawbridges), which fought in the Western Theater in the Battle of Shiloh and others. He and his wife Mary Jane McCusick McGill had three children. John died on August 29, 1912 in Toledo, Ohio, and he is buried in Doty Cemetery, Monroe.

Henry Alonzo Stewart, 1838-1906. In 1847, Henry Alonzo Stewart came to Dundee with his parents and until he reached 19 years of age, he lived with Mr. Cady who conducted a hotel in Dundee for many years. Henry learned the blacksmith trade and worked as a blacksmith for five years. In November 1863, he enlisted in Company L of the 2nd Michigan Cavalry. He lost the sight of one eye while serving in the Civil War and he mustered out on August 28, 1865. He was a member of William Bell Post No. 10 of the G.A.R. in Dundee. He married Mary A. Haines on April 15, 1860 and their three children all died in infancy. Henry operated a grocery business in Dundee for many years and was undertaker for two years. He is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery, Dundee.

Irvin Rufus Whipple was born in New York, and raised, educated, and married there.  He came to Ash Township with his wife Sarah shortly after they were married, and eventually they had five children. An ardent supporter of the Union, Irvin Rufus enlisted in Company K of the 24th Michigan Infantry. He was so seriously wounded in the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864, that one of his legs had to be amputated in the field hospital and he died from loss of blood on August 26, 1864.  He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

After her husband’s death, Sarah Whipple fought her own battles with trial and hardship  and the survival of her family, but according to her contemporaries, she met the challenges with fidelity, and endured its privations with a “serene and lofty spirit.” Sarah and her five children lived in Ash Township and Flat Rock, Michigan. )Talcott Wing, History of Monroe County, Michigan. (New York: Munsell & Company, 1890) p.613. Irvin Rufus Whipple is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Jerome Willard was born on April 16, 1835, to George and Elizabeth Rider Willard in Monroe County, Michigan. (There is some confusion about his birth year. His obituary says he was born April 16, 1835; his family genealogy says he was born in 1844, but his tombstone lists his age as 29 years, 9 months.) Jerome enlisted in Company M, Eighth Michigan Cavalry, on August 23, 1864 at Ida. He died of disease at Louisville, Kentucky on January 16, 1865, and he is buried in Neriah Cemetery, Ida Township, Monroe County.

Indian Wars (1873-1878)

Frank McCallum. Frank was born on September 15, 1863 in New York, but later moved to Michigan with his family. Frank served as a private in Company F of the United States 7th Infantry. Colonel John Gibbon was his commanded when Frank arrived at the valley of the Little Big Horn River on June 28, two days after the massacre of General George A. Custer and his men. He probably served on burial detail and prepared wounded troopers to be moved to the riverboat Far West. He died on June 1, 1921 in Marion, Michigan, and he is buried in Ash Center Cemetery, Carleton.

George Augustus Stone. Indian Wars – 1873-1878. PVT 2nd Cavalry-Massachusetts. He is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg.

Spanish American War

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Spanish American War Nurses

John Beyer. Cuba, Spanish American War. He is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg.

Jerome Bentley Galloway. 1876-1945. Company C, 33rd Michigan, Spanish American War. He is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery, Dundee.

Edwin F. Gates. Edwin served in Company I, Ohio Infantry, 7th Regiment, Spanish American War. He is buried in Carleton Cemetery.

Richard Vivian. 1865-1945. Spanish American War. Sgt. 31 Mich. Inf. He is buried in North Side Cemetery, Maybee.

World War I

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Edward Clinton Biccum. 1896-1918. Killed in action in France during World War I. He is buried in North Side Cemetery, Maybee.

Dr. A.H. DeGroot was born on a farm in Vriesland, Michigan, and received his early education in Vriesland, “a widening of the highway about four miles from Zeeland.” Between farming seasons, he worked at a furniture factory in Grand Rapids, and eventually enrolled in the Grand Rapids Veterinary College, graduating with the class of 1917.

During his junior year at college, he had the opportunity to become acquainted with Monroe Country when he went to Ida for several months to take over the practice of Dr. D.M. Hagen who was recovering from an operation. After he graduated, he went to Dundee to set up his veterinary practice. In 1918, he enlisted in World War I and was training as a second lieutenant in the Sixth Co. Veterinary Corps when the war ended. He returned to Dundee and resumed his practice. In 1922, he joined Edward A. Schaap in founding the Dundee Hatchery, but in 1936 he dropped out to concentrate on his veterinary practice. On October 4, 1923, he married Leona M. Schultz and they had one daughter. He served on the Dundee Village Council for three years. He is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery, Dundee.

Henry S. Lewis. Michigan. Pvt. Company M, 26th Infantry. He is buried in St. Patricks Cemetery #2. Carleton.

Andrew Neidermeier, Michigan. Pvt. Co. C 121 Infantry, World War I. He is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg.

World War II

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Female Pilot

Leland L. Abel. 1925-2014. Leland served in World War II as a corporal in the United States Marine Corps, fighting in the Pacific Theater from 1944-1946. He participated in the Iwo Jima Campaign and the occupation of Japan. He is buried in McIntyre Cemetery, Monroe.

Paul J. Benore. U.S. Army, World War II. Paul served in the United States Army during World War II, from March 2, 1943 to January 10, 1946. Paul fought in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and Central Europe. He received the American Theater Ribbon, the EAME Theater Ribbon with four Bronze Battle Stars, the Good Conduct Medal and the Victory Medal. He is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg.

Lewis Vernon Esper. 1925-April 19, 1944. Seaman 1st Class, USNR. Killed in action. Lost at Sea. Listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Hawaii Punchbowl Cemetery. Memorial in St. Patricks Cemetery, Carleton.

Genevieve E. “Gen” Niemann Gramlich. She worked at the Ypsilanti Bomber Plant during WWII. She is buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, Maybee.

Henry Phillip “Hank” Karen. 1915-2016. He worked for the Karner Brothers Elevator in Dundee, the family business, and during World War II, he was a test pilot and member of the flight crew that flew B-24’s at Willow Run. He ran the Ann Arbor Airport, was a flight instructor and charter pilot, and then a corporate pilot for Hoover Ball Bearing. He retired as Chief Pilot in 1964. After he retired, he joined the Boyne Highlands professional ski patrol.  He loved to hunt and fish and shot a bear at age 91. He is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery, Dundee.

Corporal Hiram Davis Wilkinson. CPL, U.S. Army Air Forces, World War II. Corporal Wilkinson was the flight engineer on B-17E #41-2635, assigned to the 5th Air Force, 19th Bombardment Group, 30th Bombardment Squadron. They were one of a group of six planes that took off in 1942 from Seven Mile aerodrome near Port Moresby on a night mission to bomb Japanese shipping in Tonolei Harbor, but Wilkinson’s plane disappeared on the way to the target and the crew was officially declared dead in 1945. Because of that he is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.

In 1999, the plane’s wreckage was discovered where it struck a mountain near Alotau, Papua New Guinea. The crew’s remains were recovered and what could be identified of Wilkinson via DNA is interred in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg. There is also a group burial in Arlington National Cemetery. He received the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.

Korea

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WAC Company Marching

Edgar T. Crawley, Sr. SK G3 U.S. Navy. World War II, Korea. He is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery, Dundee.

Lawrence S. “Larry” Esper. U.S. Navy, Korea. He is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Carleton.

Clyde E. Knaggs . CPL Co. B 32 Infantry 7 Inf. Div. Korea PH. 1932-1950. His casualty date is December 2, 1950, and he is listed as declared dead – missing in action or captured. He was a light weapons infantryman. He is buried in North Side Cemetery, Maybee.

Clinton J. Strouse, Michigan. PFC 35 INF 25 INF DIV, Korea. He was killed in Korea and he is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg.

Vietnam

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Vietnam Nurses

James LaVern Bowman. Vietnam. E3, Private First Class, U.S. Army. C CO, 2ND BN, 3RD INFANTRY, 199TH INFANTRY BDE, USARV. PFC Bowman, 20, was killed on March 28, 1968, in Long An Province, South Vietnam. He us buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Dundee.

Spec Vincent Michael La Rocca. SP4, U.S. Army, Vietnam. He was born October 1, 1949 and he died on February 11, 1970 in Thua Thien-Hue, Vietnam. On 11 February 1970, Specialist Four Vincent Michael La Rocca was serving with B Company, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, in Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam. On that day, SP4 La Rocca was killed in action when he sustained wounds from small arms fire. His body was recovered. Badge and Medals: Combat Infantryman Badge; Purple Heart; National Defense Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal; Vietnam Campaign Medal. Vincent Michael La Rocca’s name is located on Panel W14 Line 126 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. SPC4 Vincent M. La Rocca has Honoree Record 210069 at MilitaryHallofHonor.com. He is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg.

Ronald Frederick Parish, Sr. Michigan. A03 U.S. Navy, Vietnam. 1943-1970. He is buried in Ash Center Cemetery, Carleton.

Frank Anthony Uhlik, Jr. Frank Anthony Uhlik, Jr. Airman First Class, 388th MM SQDN, 388th CBT SPT GRP, 388thTFW, 7th AF United states Air Force. Vietnam. Ground casualty on March 15, 1968. He is buried in North Side Cemetery, Maybee.

Grenada

Lloyd Thomas Harris, Jr. Naval officer for 35 years in WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, and Grenada wars and conflicts. He is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Dundee.

Persian Gulf

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Todd Allen Prajzner. 1972-1999. PFC U.S. Army. Persian Gulf. He is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery, Dundee.

Iraq

Sgt. Christopher P. Messer. Army, Polar Bears, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Fort Drum, N.Y. He participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom from February 2004 to March 2005 He died December 27, 2006 in Baghdad, Iraq. His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal with ‘V’ device, Valorous Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge and the Driver Badge. He is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg.

More Veterans Voices

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Arlington National Cemetery

This PDF features more Dundee cemeteries.

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This PDF features more Petersburg veterans.

Petersburg Veterans

This list features a few Veterans in Carleton Cemeteries     a-few-veterans-buried-in-carleton-cemeteries

This list is a link  to the list: maybee-veterans

Veterans Voices, South Rockwood

 

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Two Convicts, Two State Troopers, Tragedy on a Monroe County Road- Remembering Michigan State Trooper Richards F. Hammond

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Monroe and Monroe County Michigan are celebrating their 200th anniversary in 2017.  The Michigan State Troopers celebrated the 100th anniversary of their founding on April 19, 2017 with a Michigan State Troopers Day included in the celebrations. Fallen State Trooper Richards F. Hammond was killed in the line of duty 80 years ago on January 20, 1937. From its beginnings as a cavalry of 300 men to its growth to a police agency of more than 2,900 members, the Michigan State Police have a proven tradition of service and leadership in law enforcement. Along the way, more than 50 Michigan State Troopers have died in the line of duty. State Trooper Richards F. Hammond was the 10th  of more than 50 Michigan State Troopers to sacrifice their lives for their state and community.

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Like history, tragedies have a timelessness that transcend time and place. At first 2017 glance, the story of Michigan State trooper Richards Hammond and his assassin Alcide Benoit seems to be a 1937 tragedy that has faded into history except in the memories of immediate and descendant family members- a regrettable, but light years distant episode in a universe of galactic events.

But even though 80 years have passed, the Hammond-Benoit story underlines questions we still face today in the criminal justice system, questions about capital punishment and prison sentences, possibilities of rehabilitation, and the continuing social effects of violence. We face historical choices about the stories we retrieve and which we allow to disappear through disinterest, politics, or fear about the effect of the events on the families and descendants of the people involved. The story of Richards Hammond, Alcide Benoit, the Balogs, and the people of Monroe gathering in a mob at the Monroe jail is a story of human action and reaction – a story that is part of the entire historical picture and a reminder that Trooper Hammond’s service and sacrifice will not be forgotten.

Stumbling for Help Down a Country Road

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Her heart pounding with fear and exertion, Anna Balog stumbled along the sleet-slick road in Federman, Michigan in the early evening of January 20, 1937. She curled her fingers tightly around the lantern she was holding, squared her shoulders, and pushed her way up the road toward the Irving Karns farmhouse and help. The stranger who had appeared at their farm and told them he needed help getting his car out of a ditch had seemed furtive and desperate to her, but her father Paul Balog and her brother Steve had driven away with him in their farm truck. Although her mother Rose had begged and then ordered her not to go, Anna hurried out into the rain-sleet storm with the goal of reaching the Karns farmhouse and help.  She had to let the police know that her father and brother had driven away with a strange man who gave her an uneasy feeling in her stomach .  Telling her story later to the state police and family and friends, Anna said, “When they drove away, I grabbed a lantern and started up the road to the Karn’s place.” [1]

The lives of the Balog family, Alcide Benoit, Richards Hammond, and many others in Monroe County and Monroe converged in January 1937 to produce events that had a lasting impact.

 Alcide Benoit

The 1930 United States Federal Census records that Alcide “Frenchy” Benoit, 16 years old in 1930, was born in Toronto, Canada about 1916 to William and Regina Benoit. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1920, and the 1930 Census shows Alcide living in Detroit with his mother, father, and siblings.

According to state police identification records, Alcide Benoit, also known as Frenchy, first collided with the law in Nashville, Tennessee on November 7, 1930, when he was charged with transporting a stolen automobile across state lines. Because he was just 16, Alcide Benoit was committed to the Michigan Boy’s Vocational School in Lansing for two years. In 1933, he was sentenced to the Michigan State Reformatory at Ionia after he was convicted in Detroit for carrying concealed weapons and receiving stolen property. He was released on parole on January 2, 1936.

Two Fugitives from Justice

During his stay at the Ionia Reformatory, Frenchy met John H. Smith, aliases Mike Delberto and Smitty, from Flint, who had been sentenced to serve 2 ½ to 7 ½ years in the reformatory for robbery. A year later, in January 1937, Alcide Benoit who had adopted the alias Joe LaRue and Frenchy became friends. They continued their lives on the wrong side of the law when they were released from prison and living in Detroit.  On January 19, 1937 they kidnapped a Detroit used car salesman, Fred Williams, took him to Toledo, Ohio, and left him there tied to a tree. They stole his $88.00 and his car and drove back into Michigan toward Detroit. Michigan State troopers and local police established roadblocks around Monroe and two Michigan State Troopers, Richards F. Hammond and Sam S. Sineni, stopped the two fugitives shortly before midnight on January 19, 1937.

Two Michigan State Troopers

Michigan State Trooper Richards F. Hammond and Michigan State Trooper Sam S. Sineni’s World:

Part I – Michigan State Troopers, 1937- You Tube Video, Michigan State Troopers Website

Part II- Michigan State Troopers, 1937- You Tube Video, Michigan State Troopers Website  

Michigan State Trooper Richards F. Hammond was born November 5, 1911 in Hanover, Michigan the only child of Dora Richards and Frank Hammond. The 1930 United States Federal Census lists Richards as living with his parents on their Hanover farm. In 1937, he had been a Michigan State Trooper for 18 months and he was engaged to be married.

Michigan State Trooper Sam S. Sineni, was born in Chicago on January 30, 1911 to Frank and Josephine Sineni. After being discharged from the U.S. Naval Reserves, he enrolled in and graduated from the Michigan State Police Recruit School in East Lansing, Michigan. In 1935 he was assigned to the Michigan State Police Post in Rockwood. In 1937 he was a newly-wed.[2]

A Fugitive From Justice  Brags His Story

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While waiting in the Monroe County jail for his arraignment, Frenchy bragged about his skill as a kidnapper and told Monroe County Sheriff Joseph Bairley how the state and local police captured him and his accomplice “Smitty.” Frenchy bragged that since his release from the Ionia Reformatory, he had made his living kidnapping people, taking them for a ride, stealing their money, and other types of robberies. “Why say, I’ve done holdups in almost every city in this country…Chicago, Detroit, Toledo, Grand Rapids, Cleveland. O, I can’t remember where they are were. Detroit was easy.” [3]

Still in a talkative mood, Frenchy told Captain Lawrence (Laurence).A. Lyon of the Michigan State Troopers that he and Smitty left Toledo and headed for Detroit. They stopped at a gas station in Monroe and the two troopers in their scout car came over and questioned them. “One of them put Smitty in our car and Hammond put me in the police car,” Frenchy said. “He frisked me, but I had my gun dropped through a hole in my coat. I had bought the .44 in Chicago.”

Frenchy said that he and Trooper Hammond were behind Smitty and Trooper Sineni and just as soon as Trooper Hammond started the car, he pulled his gun and told Trooper Hammond to hand over his gun.  As Trooper Hammond gave Frenchy his gun, he began to speed up.  Frenchy continued his story.  “I socked him and told him to do as I said. Then he drove like the devil and tried to wreck the car, but I made him turn around.”[4]

Trooper Sam Sineni shot at the car, but Frenchy and Trooper Hammond had a head start. Frenchy knew the other trooper and his backup were following closely because he had turned on the police radio. “The trooper and I argued and he kept trying to pull the car into the ditch. I could see the other car coming toward us and I tried to make Hammond turn around. That’s where we almost got stuck. “[5]

Now about ten miles from Monroe, Trooper Sam Sineni following in the stolen car with Smitty, approached the police car blocking the highway. Frenchy and Trooper Sineni exchanged shots. Frenchy turned off on the first road he could see and he stopped the car, near Erie, Michigan. He put the handcuffs on one of Trooper Hammond’s wrists and pulled him out of the car. Fighting furiously, the two men rolled around in the dirt. Frenchy said,  “That was when I shot him, because he was getting the best of me.  I didn’t fasten him up to the mailbox and then shoot him. After I shot, I looked up and somehow his handcuffs had got around the post. I could hear the police radio going full blast about them hunting me, so I got back in the car and drove like the devil.”[6]

Turning down a slippery country road, Frenchy couldn’t prevent the stolen police car from sliding into a ditch. He turned off his lights and hunkered down to wait for awhile. Three hours before state troopers found Trooper Hammond’s body, two Monroe county deputies Joe Dansard, and Robert Navarre came upon the hunted car near Lulu, Michigan, and again a gun battle ensued with Frenchy finally abandoning the patrol car.  He escaped on foot into the nearby woods.  The two deputies found Trooper Hammond’s blood saturated uniform coat inside of the abandoned patrol car which also was stained with blood. At 5:00 a.m., the officers patrolling roads in the area came upon the body of the missing trooper who had been shot through the head. His body was slumped against a rural mailbox, and his wrists were shackled with his own handcuffs to a steel post.

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In the meantime, Frenchy hid in a barn and lay there for hours. Eventually he got up and found a farmhouse, demanding a car from its occupants. The people told him they didn’t have a car, so he moved on to the village of Federman where he found the farm of Paul Balog. Frenchy forced Paul and his son Steve into the Balog farm truck. He drove down the slippery roads, trying to run the extensive police barricades.

“Well, I guess you know the rest,” he told Captain Lyon. [7]

Hunting a Policeman’s Killer

Michigan State Police Captain Lawrence (Laurence) A. Lyon knew the rest and he knew what to do. He identified Alcide Frenchy Benoit as the killer of Trooper Richards Hammond. He said Trooper Sineni brought Smith to the Erie Barracks after the gun battle and then joined the search for the former convict. Paul Stear, another farmer, had witnessed the two Balogs being captured and reported their abduction to the police and reported seeing Frenchy force Paul Balog to drive him westward. Warrants charging Frenchy Benoit with murder and with violating the Lindbergh Kidnap Law were issued at Monroe and at Detroit. Frenchy’s accomplice, John Smith, was also charged with kidnapping.

Captain Lyon directed a posse of 300 officers from Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan and city and country police throughout southeastern Michigan to capture Frenchy Benoit, ordering them to “shoot to kill,” because Frenchy had two pistols, one belonging to Trooper Hammond. Detroit and Indiana State police joined the search and Michigan State police issued radio appeals for farmers to arm themselves and search their outbuildings for the fugitive. Sleet covered highways hampered the search and grounded airplanes which were to have assisted in locating the fugitives. Newspapers and law enforcement officials called the manhunt one of the most extensive in Michigan history.

Harold H. Reinecke, head of the Detroit office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, reported that his agents had also joined the investigation because of the information that Frenchy and his companion John H. Smith, Smitty, had kidnapped a Detroit salesman and driven his car across the state line into Ohio.

Taking Hostages and Capturing a Wanted Man

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Several newspapers across the country reported the capture of Alcide Frenchy Benoit  with varying details. One story read that Frenchy found a deserted barn about three miles from the road in Lulu where he had shot State Trooper Hammond , hiding there all day while posses searched the area. That night he decided to attempt another escape and he made his way to the farmhouse of Paul Balog, south of Lulu in Federman village. He told Paul Balog and his son Steve that he needed help to start his car which had been stalled on a nearby road. Paul and Steve Balog offered to go with him in their small truck. As they started to leave, Frenchy drew a gun, poked it into Paul Blog’s ribs and said, “I’m a gangster and have been for 15 years. You’re going to drive me to Monroe.”

Depending on the version of the story, Paul Balog’s daughter Anna either telephoned the police from her home or slid down the slippery road to the neighboring Irving Karns farm to let the police know that her father and brother had been kidnapped. The police assigned more than 50 patrol cars to scour the highways. Four officers encountered the Balog truck at the intersection of State Highway 50 and Telegraph Road about three miles southwest of Monroe. The state troopers ordered Frenchy to surrender. One version of the story said that Frenchy ordered the Balogs out of the truck at gunpoint, trying to use them as shields to escape, but when he saw how many policemen had guns trained on him, he put his arms above his head and surrendered. The state troopers found that he carried two guns, one of his own and the other that he had taken from Trooper Hammond.

After he and his father Paul were safe, Steve Balog commented on Frenchy’s capture. “I was scared. The state police seemed to be all around the car. They pulled him out and, boy was I glad!”[8]

Later, in the Monroe County jail,  Frenchy told police that he didn’t think he had killed Trooper Hammond, but had reasoned that handcuffing him to the mailbox would keep him from getting help. “After shooting him, I took his gun,” Frenchy said.

A Chicago Daily Tribune Story noted that “The capture once again demonstrates the efficiency of the Michigan State police force which constitutes a law enforcement body second to none in the country. Its famous highway blockade system was put into effect so quickly that Benoit was prevented from leaving the vicinity of his savage crime.”[9]

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Surviving a Monroe County Jail Mob and Two Trials

More than 100 policemen and state troopers guarded the Monroe County jail after Alcide Frenchy Benoit’s capture and imprisonment on January 20,1937. A crowd estimated at more than 2,000 men and women surrounded the jail after Benoit’s capture, muttering threats against the young gunman. Frenchy confessed to firing one shot into Hammond’s brain, and then handcuffing his body to a rural mailbox. The crowd had thinned out early on the morning of January 21, but police took precautions to prevent any demonstrations when Frenchy appeared at his arraignment in municipal court later in the day on a first degree murder charge.

Escorted to court by heavily armed officers guarding him from an angry crowd incensed at the brutal murder of officer Hammond, Alcide Frenchy Benoit, accused of having murdered State Trooper Richards Hammond pleaded “not guilty” in his arraignment at municipal court. The 24-year-old paroled convict waived preliminary examination and was held for trial.

John H. Smith, alias Mike Delberto, 29, of Detroit, pleaded guilty to the charge of carrying a revolver. He also was bound over to Circuit Court under a bail of $10,000.[10]

At his trial on January 22, 1937, Alcide Benoit changed his plea to guilty and the trail lasted only 40 minutes. During the trial he confessed to about 40 robberies and the murder of Michigan State Trooper Richards F. Hammond and he received a life sentence at hard labor. The life sentence saved him from facing many federal charges, including one involving the death penalty.

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After Frenchy Benoit had served ten years in Marquette Prison, Judge Clayton C. Golden awarded him a new trial, because he “did not have counsel and he was not advised of his constitutional rights” before sentencing. Judge Golden based his ruling on a U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring that a confessed murderer must have counsel before being sentenced and that a quick trial where a defendant pleads guilty without benefit of counsel is unconstitutional. Once again a jury found Frenchy Benoit guilty of first degree murder and he was sent back to prison.[11]

The Final Chase and Capture

On March 10, 1950, about three years after his second trial, the prison doctors at Marquette told Alcide Frenchy Benoit, 36, that despite an operation to attempt to stop its progress, he was dying of cancer. They recommended that he be transferred to the penitentiary at Jackson, Michigan, for further treatment.

Doctors heavily drugged Frenchy with morphine to manage his pain during the trip and law enforcement officials placed him in the rear seat of a passenger car with two guards, more to monitor his condition than any anticipated dangerous behavior. Two other guards rode with a busload of prisoners who were also being transferred. The caravan stopped for a light meal near Gaylord, Michigan. The guards left Frenchy handcuffed in the back seat and by all appearances unconscious from the sedation the doctors had given him, and stepped outside to refuel the car.

As soon as they had gotten out of the car, Frenchy revived. Despite his weakened body and his handcuffs, he managed to crawl into the front seat, ease himself behind the wheel, and speed away. Later, he explained his actions. “I said to myself, Frenchy, this is your out, so I got out. I knew I was going to Jackson to die. It was a funny feeling. I had not been at the wheel for 14 years.”

Frenchy drove a wild ride over Northern Michigan back roads at speeds up to 80 miles an hour, handling the car as coolly and carefully as if he were in the best of health and not impended by morphine and cancer. He even managed to stop, break into a shed, and steal two axes that policemen later found in the car.

The police guard radioed the news of Frenchy’s escape, and state troopers from other posts converged on the area and set up the blockade system. After an hour and a half chase, State Troopers Casimer Szocinski and Lambert Rayner recaptured Frenchy without incident on U.S. Highway 27. They quoted him as saying, “Shoot me coppers. I know you want to. Go ahead and shoot me. I’m going to die anyway.”[12]

Alcide Benoit died July 9, 1951 at age 37 of abdominal cancer.

Remembering

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Michigan State Trooper Richards F. Hammond is buried in Hanover Cemetery, Hanover, Michigan.

His Civil War veteran grandfather, Alpheus and his grandmother Esther are buried with him in Hanover Cemetery and so are his father Frank and his mother Dora.

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Fallen Troopers Memorial, Lansing, Michigan

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Click here to view Names on the Fallen Troopers Memorial  

Notes

[1] The Daily Mail, (Hagerstown, MD), Jan. 21, 1937, Pages 1, 2.; The Balog family name is spelled differently in the Census Records, Paul and Rose Balogh’s tombstones where it is spelled Balogh, and in the newspaper accounts of the time where it is mostly spelled Balog.; Irving Karns, Ida, Michigan. Irving Karns is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg.

[2] Sam S. Sineni was a Michigan State Trooper for 25 years, serving as the Post Commander in Erie, Michigan. He retired in July of 1959 as a Detective Sergeant at the Jackson State Police Post. He is buried in St. Joseph Cemetery in Monroe.

[3] Indiana Evening Gazette, Thursday, January 21, p. 1

[4] The Daily Mail, (Hagerstown, MD), Jan. 21, 1937, Pages 1, 2

[5] The Daily Mail, (Hagerstown, MD), Jan. 21, 1937, Pages 1, 2

[6] The Daily Mail, (Hagerstown, MD), Jan. 21, 1937, Pages 1, 2

[7] Chicago Daily Tribune, Friday January 22, 1937, p. 5

[8] The Daily Mail, Hagerstown, MD, Jan. 21, 1937, Pages 1, 2

[9] Chicago Daily tribune, Thursday, January 21, 1937, p. 2

[10] Middletown Times, Middletown, New York, January 21, 1937, p.1

[11]Record-Eagle, Traverse City, Michigan, March 10, 1950,p1

[12] Long Beach Independent, Long Beach, California. March 11, 1950, p. 1

The Petersburg Constable, Monroe County Deputy Sheriff, and the Monroe Chicken Thief

Tragedy sometimes strikes as quickly as a chicken gulping a grasshopper, and its effects can be as jarring as a rooster crowing at 3 a.m. Gunshots shattered the stillness of a chilly October night in rural Monroe County and decades later families still work to deaden their echoes.

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Old barn on Hickory Road in Milan, Michigan.

On the night of October 28, 1929, Petersburg, Michigan Constable Frank William Miller, said goodbye to his devoted wife Alice, and their children. Monroe County Deputy Sheriff James Van Vleet picked him up in the police car, and they sped off into the night pursuing a gang of armed chicken thieves on what they likely considered routine police business. On the same night, Ralph Aldrich of Monroe helped steal some chickens, and made a fateful decision.

 Three Men Meet on a Country Road

Frank William Miller married Alice Emiline Quigley in Blissfield, Michigan, in 1911 .  They had seven children in 12 years.

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Miller Family Photograph

Frank William Miller

Frank William Miller was born on April 15, 1889, in Lenawee County. On his draft registration he listed his occupation as a carpenter and the 1920 Census also showed his occupation as a carpenter.

005251406_00132The 1920s Census also showed Frank W. Miller, 32, living on Carey Street in Deerfield with his wife Alice, 32, and their children Marjorie, Doris, and Mary.

James Van Vleet

James Van Vleet was born on February 10, 1884, and he identified his occupation on his 1918 draft registration as a farmer, the same occupation he listed on the 1920 census. James, 36, lived on Railroad Road in Summerfield in 1920, with his wife Beatrice,34, and their children Charles, Maud, Alvin, and Eston.

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Ralph Aldrich

Ralph Aldrich was born on July 25, 1889, and he wrote on his 1919 draft registration that he worked as a laborer. In the 1920 Census Ralph, age 30, said that he was a fireman at an RR Paper Mill. Ralph and his wife Estelle, 30, lived 1232 East Elm Avenue in Monroe with their children Raymond, Beth, and Virginia.

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Chicken Thieves Were No Cackling Matter

On the cool fall night of October 28, 1929, three days before Halloween, a gang of armed chicken thieves of the human instead of fox, dog, or hawk persuasion raided the chicken coops on the Lawrence Keller farm on the outskirts of Petersburg, Michigan and they fled the scene in a speeding sedan.

Chicken thieves were a serious threat in Monroe County farm country in 1929. Reports of professional gangs of chicken thieves circulated in the area and rumor had it that the thieves chloroformed the chickens to keep them quiet enough to be stolen and then carted them off to markets in Detroit, Toledo, or Lansing.  One story even had it that the young wife of a chicken thief gang member had smuggled a hack saw into the prison at Jackson and helped him escape, receiving two years of Probation for her trouble. There were tales of shootouts between chicken thieves and outraged, armed farmers protecting their poultry.

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A story in the Saline Observer reported that Mrs. Ethel Hofstetler of Route 2, Tecumseh, had discovered a way to offset her losses when chicken thieves visited her poultry house making off with 30 ready-to-lay pullets. Mrs. Hofstetler had the foresight to insure her chickens against theft through the Poultryman’s Mutual Protective Association. When the thieves came for her chickens, she eventually received a check for her losses,  the second person ever to receive an insurance check for stolen poultry and the second claim that the Poultryman’s Mutual Protective Association had ever paid.[1]

 Chicken Thieves Clash with a  Constable and Deputy Sheriff

Chicken thieves were taken seriously in Petersburg and the police heard of this latest chicken theft at the Keller farm, they sent Monroe County Sheriff Deputy James Van Vleet to chase them down. Deputy Van Vleet didn’t waste any time driving to Petersburg to pick up Village Constable Frank Monroe and the officers quickly located the the sedan with its chicken thief drivers and captive chickens.

Monroe County Sheriffs Deputy Van Vleet told what happened next in a Monroe Evening News story dated October 29, 1929. He said when the chicken thieves shot at them,” one bullet came through the glass in the back of the car and struck in front of me just above my head. I had the gun, so I gave it to Frank and told him he had better use it. We had fired a couple of shots in the air before that to try to halt the fellows, but it hadn’t done any good.”

Deputy Van Vleet continued telling his story to the Monroe Evening News Reporter. He said that he stopped the car and Constable Miller started to get out.  Just as he stepped onto the running board of the police car, a shot rang out and a 38 caliber bullet hit Constable Miller in the back and plowed through his body, killing him instantly. The chicken thieves sped away, dumping the chickens on the side of the road as they made their escape.[2]

Additional Monroe Evening News articles tell the next chapter in the story. Immediately after Constable Miller’s shooting, dozens of officers, farmers, and citizens scoured the countryside around Petersburg searching for the chicken thieves turned murderers. The searchers rounded up several suspects and the police arrested some of them. Police found several suspects in a Garden City home, cleaning chickens. They admitted to stealing the chickens, but they denied shooting Constable Miller.

Two months ticked by while Constable Miller’s wife and children tried to deal with the daily reality of his death and officers, farmers, and citizens continued to hunt for the person who shot him. The police didn’t find any new suspects and the case remained unsolved for the next two months.

In the meantime, Ohio police had imprisoned Ralph Aldrich on charges of breaking into an Ohio chicken coop. During police questioning, he confessed to shooting Constable Miller, but he didn’t explain why he had found it necessary to kill the law officer. A judge sentenced Ralph Aldrich to life in prison in Michigan State Prison in Blackman Township, Jackson, Michigan. According to her family, Constable Frank W. Miller’s widow Alice was so traumatized by his murder that she refused to discuss it with her family or outside of the family.

A Family Remembers Constable Miller’s Story

The story doesn’t end there  to be remembered as a sad part of Monroe County Depression-Era history and gradually forgotten as the decades rolled on toward the 21st Century.  More than six decades after Constable Miller’s murder, his children and grandchildren worked to have his named included on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. which honors 20,267 U.S. law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty throughout American history.

Constable Miller’s grandson, Lehr LaVoy, a retired police officer from the Tempe, Arizona police department, visited the memorial on a trip to Washington D.C. and he wondered why his grandfather’s name wasn’t included on the memorial. Lehr knew that his grandfather had been killed on duty, but he didn’t know the circumstances of his death. He and his sister Bonnie Damon had been born in Petersburg, Michigan, but had moved away as adults. Constable Miller’s grandchildren decided that they needed to gather the information they needed to have his name added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

Bonnie Damon and other family members spent hours and shoe and tire leather and telephone time gathering the data that they needed to prove that her grandfather had been killed in the line of duty so many years ago. They located a coroner’s report and other documentation, including numerous newspaper articles about the circumstances of Constable Miller’s death, enough to prove that his name should be included on the Memorial.

Constable Frank William Miller- End of Watch

Finally, Constable Miller’s son and grandchildren witnessed his name being added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial and participated in the ceremonies honoring the addition of his name.

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Constable Frank William Miller

Petersburg Police Department, Michigan

End of Watch: Monday, October 28, 1929

Constable Miller was shot and killed during a traffic stop which he conducted while investigating the theft of poultry from a local farmer.

Resting in Blissfield, Petersburg, and Monroe

Alice Miller survived her husband Constable Frank Miller by 34 years, dying on January 7, 1963 in Toledo. She is buried alongside him in Pleasantview Cemetery in Blissfield, Michigan.

James Van Vleet died in 1939 and he is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery in Petersburg.

The 1930 Census showed that Ralph was a prison inmate at Michigan State Prison, Blackmon in Lansing, Michigan. Ralph E. Aldrich died on April 8, 1955 in Dundee and he is buried in Woodland Cemetery, Monroe.

 Notes

[1] Saline Observer, November 7, 1929, p. 2

[2] Monroe Evening News, October 29, 1929, p. 1

 

Petersburg: A “Good Live Town” and a Tree City, USA

 

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Summerfield, Petersburg with an “H”, and Finally, Petersburg

Summerfield, then Petersburgh with an h, and finally Petersburg with a began as a dream in the mind and ambition of New York native, Richard Peters. His dream of a town with compatible residents grew into Petersburg, a thriving picturesque small Michigan city that map maker and historian George Lang called “a good, live town.”

The Michigan State Gazetteer recorded that people first came to Summerfield (later Petersburgh) in 1824 and established homes and farms with a post office in 1834. By 1860, Summerfield (Petersburg village) had become a post village of Monroe County located on the River Raisin, about 57 miles from Detroit. The Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana Railroads had established branches in Summerfield and post office with W.H. Heath as postmaster served the community. Methodist and Presbyterian Churches addressed the religious needs of the citizens and a 518-volume library helped them improve their minds.

Commercial establishments included three general stores, a hotel, a saw, two flouring and one planning mill and a variety of mechanical trades and professions. The 1860 population was 1,000 people. The 1860 Township officers included Supervisor, George Peters. Clerk, M. B. Davis. (buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg) Treasurer, John J. Ellis. Justices of the Peace, W. Corbin, J. Frennain, W. E. Burton, A. C. Lefford. School Inspectors, Jonas Brown, N. D. Curtis. Constables, J. J.Ellis, James Reynolds.[1]

Petersburg was incorporated in 1869 and by 1877, the Michigan State Gazetteer noted a population of 1,500 people and the railroad connections had changed to the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad and the Toledo & Petersburgh Narrow Gauge Railroad. The Gazetteer reported that the country around Petersburg was suitable for raising a variety of farm produce and the River Raisin provided good water power. The commercial concerns included a flouring mill, a woolen factory, a handle factor, a planing mill, a saw mill, a shingle mill, and a cheese factory. There were Methodist and Presbyterian Churches and a school house.[2]

In 1917, George Earl Lang wrote about Petersburg  in his Pocket Road Map, Monroe County, Michigan, noting that Petersburg, named after Richard Peters, one of the early pioneers, was originally platted on August 1, 1836. According to Lang, the pioneer settlement began in 1824, when John N. Wadsworth, Richard Peters, and Elihu Ward first surveyed and settled in Summerfield Township. On March 17, 1826, Charles Peters became the first white child born in Summerfield Township.

According to George Lang, Petersburg was incorporated on March 19, 1869 and reincorporated on February 25, 1895, with a population of 490 people. Located on the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad and the Toledo and Detroit Railroad, Petersburg had recently built stone roads that crossed the western end of the county. The city featured “fine residences, electric lights, four churches, a high school on the Normal list, good state bank, good hotel, restaurant, two garages, confectionary store, grocery stores, dry goods store, clothing store, drug store, shoe store, meat market, a furniture store. A good live town with a weekly newspaper.”[3]

Petersburg’s 2010 population numbered 1,146 according to the 2010 census and it is still in the words of George Lang, “a good live town.”

Richard Peters Transforms Summerfield to Petersburg

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Richard Peters dreamed the same dream of countless pioneers eager to sink their axes into trees to clear their own land and built homes, families, and lives. Moving his dream into reality, Richard Peters bought land from the United States government in Michigan Territory and moved there to clear it and establish a home for his family.

He gradually cleared 500 of the 600 acres he bought and helped other pioneers wrest a town out of the trees.  In 1836,  Richard sold some of his land in Michigan Territory to buyers eager to establish a town. In 1836, the settlers called their new town Summerfield, and appointed Richard Peters the first postmaster. Later, town residents changed the name of Summerfield to Petersburgh, which eventually was shortened to Petersburg.

Born on March 13, 1797, in Stamford, New York, Richard Peters was one of the five children of Richard Peters and Susanna Halstead Peters. On February 10, 1820, Richard married Mary Polly Wilcox in Harpersfield, New York. Their daughter Frances was born in 1821 in Harpersfield, their son George in 1822 in New York, New York, and their son John born in 1823 in New York. Their son Charles was born on March 14, 1826 in Petersburg, their daughter Susan was born in 1828,  their son Richard was born in 1829 in Petersburg, and their daughter Mary was born in 1832 in Petersburg.  Richard’s wife Mary Polly died on January 26, 1834 in Summerfield. After Mary Polly’s death, Richard married Orissa Baker and they had a daughter Emeline who was born in 1838. The 1850 Census shows Richard Peters married to Orissa Baker Peters and their 12 year old daughter, Emeline.

The 1827 Michigan census recorded Richard living in Monroe County and the 1830 Census listed Richard Peters as postmaster of Petersburgh. Richard and his wife and children settled in the Michigan woods and Richard cleared land to build a hut and then a log cabin for his family. They enjoyed the company and comfort of their neighbors Morris and Lewis Wells and their families, two miles away. Richard continued to clear his land and hack a road through the dense woods.

A good farmer and a good neighbor, Richard didn’t actively seek office, but the offices constantly sought him, and he accepted some township offices.. He served for ten years as supervisor of Raisinville which in his time included Summerfield, Dundee,Whiteford, Bedford, Ida, London, and Milan. He died on inflammation of the lungs at age 64 on March 5, 1862.  He and Mary Polly and other family members are buried in Wing Cemetery(Petersburg Village) Cemetery.[4]

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Petersburg Pioneers

Fred Bork

The Petersburg Sun-December 28, 1951

Fred Bork, born on March 14, 1861, in Germany married Minnie Middlestead on January 7, 1883, and they immigrated to the United States shortly after their marriage.  He and Minnie raised a family of two sons and two daughters, and they operated a farm near Petersburg for 57 years. When she died on January 26, 1944, he lived with his daughter until his death on December 21, 1951 at age 90. He is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery.

Mrs. Esther Bragg

The Petersburg Sun-Petersburg, Monroe County Michigan-August 1, 1919

Mrs. Esther Bragg

Esther S. Elder was born in Wood County, Ohio, August 29, 1842, and she died at Battle Creek, Michigan, July 24, 1919 at age 76.

In August 1862, she married William Sawyer who was killed in the Civil War. In the fall of 1864, she came to Michigan to live with her sisters. On January 6, 1870,, she married Ezra Franklin Bragg, who had also fought in the Civil War , first in Company I of the 14th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and then in the 1st Michigan cavalry.  They had three children: Viola C.; Irving W.; and Ezra. Esther’s husband Ezra died on October 26, 1889 and he is buried in Leib Cemetery, Monroe County. She is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg.

Calvin Burnham

Talcott Wing wrote a brief biography of Calvin Burnham in his History of Monroe County, Michigan.  Calvin Burnham was born on November 13, 1793 in Montague, Massachusetts.  In 1817, Israel Bliss and his friend Calvin Burnham came to Michigan from Massachusetts. Israel settled in Macon, Michigan and lived there with his family until he died on October 23, 1819. Calvin returned to Massachusetts and married Israel’s sister Lucinda K. on September 26, 1820 at Royalston, Massachusetts. They had three children together before Lucinda died at Montague, Massachusetts on April 7, 1825. Calvin married his second wife Mary Ann Bruce in October 1826 and they had at least nine children together. Calvin brought his family to Blissfield, Michigan in 1839, and the next year they moved to Summerfield where he lived for the rest of his life.  He died in 1874 and he is buried in Burnham Cemetery in Petersburg.[5]

A paragraph in The Monroe Commercial summarized the life of Calvin Burnham of Summerfield in western Monroe County. Calvin Burnham, one of the early pioneers of Monroe County, had recently died at age 81 years. He taught the first English school in Monroe County in 1816. He traveled to Monroe County from Massachusetts on foot, and several years later when he returned to Massachusetts to obtain a wife, he again made the trip on foot. In 1837, he returned with his wife, “and we believe, has lived in the county ever since.”[6]

John J. Ellis- Petersburg Blacksmith and Monroe County Sheriff

Born in Essex County, New York on June 24, 1829, John J. Ellis arrived in Summerfield Township from New York in 1842 with his mother and two younger brothers. At an early age, he had to work to help support his family, so he learned the blacksmithing trade and operated a blacksmith shop in the village of Petersburg. He married Jane Green and they had four children.  In 1876, John Ellis won the election for Monroe County Sheriff and he moved to Monroe. He proved himself to be such a capable sheriff, popular and painstaking, that he won re-election for a second term. People liked him and his work so much that any time a vacancy occurred in a county office, they nominated John Ellis. For years at various times he served as deputy sheriff, constable, and township treasurer. Monroe and Monroe County citizens appreciated John’s care and compassion for others and his willingness to help people in need.

On December 19, 1894, John fell from a load of cornstalks, injuring his spine.  He died on April 4, 1895 and the Blanchard Lodge of Petersburg where he had been a member for 37 years,  helped bury him with Masonic honors. His wife and four children survived him and his two brothers and scores of friends deeply mourned him. He is buried in Woodland Cemetery in Monroe.

Ezra L. Lockwood 

Born in Watertown, Connecticut on June 16, 1831 to Jacob and Maria Scovill Lockwood, Ezra had to rely on himself from the age of 13 when he mother died.  He came to Michigan in the fall of 1850 and worked for Dundee Township and from 1853-1855 he worked in the state of Illinois. On December 29, 1859, Ezra married Jennie Hall and they raised a family of three boys and two girls.

After returning to Michigan in 1855, Ezra formed a partnership with Morgan Parker and purchased the water power and mills in Petersburgh. The two partners operated these mills until 1861 when they ended the partnership. With no capital but their resolve and willingness to work, Ezra and Jennie Lockwood made their first forty-dollar payment on 80 acres of land in Summerfield Township. Ezra and his family were isolated with no neighbors for two miles and trees, brush, and water covering their land. Ezra had to clear the land by hand, cutting the timber from a small parcel to build a house. Water covered many parts of his land and saturated the soil enough so that Ezra had to drain thousands of acres and cut many ditches and drains for the water to find its way to Lake Erie and leave the soil suitable for planting. The largest drain that Ezra created is his namesake Lockwood Drain extending from Western Monroe County to Lake Erie and in some places thirteen feet deep and forty feet wide. His system of drains transformed acres of land that had been covered by water most of the year into productive farms providing good land and a good living for many people.

As he created his vital system of drains, Ezra purchased land from time to time until by 1875 he owned 3,020 acres of land that his hard work transformed from wilderness to a profitable farm. He was the largest cattle breeder in Monroe County, keeping about 200 head on the farm with a butter dairy of 80 cows and he also kept and bred horses and hogs.

Besides maintaining their family and their farm, Ezra and Jenny Lockwood were active in many farmer’s clubs, institutes and conventions at the county and state level and farmers from the county and state congregated to hear their informative talks about farming.

Ezra died in 1909 and he is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg.[7]

 John Otto Zabel

John Otto Zabel, attorney and counselor at law from Petersburgh, was born on October 29, 1856 in Poestenkill, New York to John and Sophia Zabel. His parents moved from Poestenkill to Dundee in 1860 and after that to Summerfield. John worked on the farm during the summer and attended the union school at Petersburgh for two winters. He enrolled in the law program at Michigan University in October 1877 and graduated on March 26, 1879. He was admitted to the Bar in 1879 and opened up his law practice in Petersburgh.

He married Mate Swick Zabel on October 20, 1880 and they had two sons, John Golden and Allen. His son Allen died of tuberculosis at age 21 while he was a law student. The 1900 Census shows his other son,  John Golden Zabel, 18, who listed his occupation as a teacher. John Golden lived to be 87 years old and he is buried in Woodland Cemetery in Monroe.

John Zabel served as president of Petersburgh Village for the years 1883,1887, and 1888 and attorney of the village of Petersburgh for 1884 and 1889. He served on the school board and was chairman of the county committee of the Greenback Party for six years. According to the Adrian Times and Attorney Fred Wood of Tecumseh, John O. Zabel promoted the electric road from Toledo raised $4,500,000 for the new road which would run from Petersburg to Jackson, and from Petersburg to Ypsilanti or Ann Arbor. The contract for building the two roads was let to a New York firm.[8]

John died on April 13, 1935 in Petersburg and he is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg with his wife Mary and son Allen.[9]

Pioneer Petersburg Journalists

As Petersburg grew in population and became more prosperous, its citizens felt the need for a newspaper to spread the village news and publish business and personal transactions. Henry F. Gage & Company established Petersburg’s first newspaper, the Avalanche, in 1871. A year and a half later, fire destroyed the paper. In 1876, J.W. Seeley started the River Raisin Clarion which lasted only six months.  Editor I.D. Boardman introduced The Petersburgh Bulletin on May 1, 1880 and  in 1881 it folded. In 1883 the Weekly Journal debuted but lasted for only four months before it burned. In 1884, O.C. Bacon & Brother reestablished the Weekly Journal, published it for two years, and then sold it to E.A. Gilbert. A.P. Faling began publishing the Petersburgh Sun on October 9, 1891, but around 1898 it merged with the Dundee Reporter to form the Reporter-Sun published in Dundee. Courier Printing Company began publishing the Farmers & Merchants Courier around 1948[10]

Marlin Oscar Hydal

Born on August 31, 1920 in St. Paul Minnesota, Marlin attended Concordia College and married Sylvia Triplett in October 1939 in Hastings, Minnesota. He worked as a printer for the Toledo Blade for 28 years as well as for the Petersburg Sun. He died in 2006 and he is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg.

A Few Petersburg Businesses and Professions, Then and Now

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A 21st Century Petersburg Business

Michigan State Gazetteer – 1856-1857

Petersburg. A station in Monroe county, situated on the line of the Michigan Southern Rail Road and on the south side of the Raisin river. It is 20 miles west from Monroe.

Petersburgh Business-1856-1857

Thomas S. Dingman, general dealer. Herkimer & Dingman – general merchandise

Dr. Nelson Dunham, physician.

Dr. Nelson Dunham obituary: (1803-1866), (Deacon John, Joseph, Eleazer, Israel, Ebenezer, Sylvanus), Obituary appeared in the Monroe, MI Monitor on May 2, 1866: Death of Dr. Nelson Dunham. We regret to Announce the death of Dr. Dunham, which occurred at Petersburgh on the 30th ___, in the 63rd year of his age. He came to Monroe county about 30 years ago and settled in Dundee, where he obtained a successful practice as a physician. For several years past he has resided at Petersburgh, but has been much impaired in health. Dr. Dunham has been a prominent and leading democrat, has represented the county in both branches of the legislature and occupied other positions of honor and trust, discharging all his duties as became a faithful and public officer. He has been for many years a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and died in the Christian’s faith, leaving a wife and one son and many relatives and friends to mourn his death.

Christian Gradolf, hardware and groceries.

Arthur C. Gradolph, one of Petersburgh’s most prominent businessmen passed away at his home here at 11:00 A.m. Wednesday, April 10, 1935, after an illness of five days. Death was due to heart failure. Mr. Gradolph, although in poor health for the past two years had been feeling fairly well lately and was down town several times the first of last week. His death came as a shock, not only to the family, but to the entire community as well.

He was born in Petersburg on May 3, 1871, and aside from seven years spent in the jewelry business in Chicago, had resided here his entire lifetime Mr. Gradolph started in the hardware business in Petersburg in partnership with the late O.H. Russell in 1898. This partnership was dissolved in 1919, the business being conducted under the name of A.C. Gradolph until 1922, at which time Mr. Gradolph’s son assumed partnership.

From that time on the firm name has been A.C. Gradolph & Son.

Mr. Gradolph was united in marriage on June 15, 1895, to Miss Julia Plumadore, and all but four years of their married life has been spent in Petersburg. He is survived by his wife and one son, C.C. Gradolph; one brother, Fred W. Gradolph, of West Palm Beach, Florida; a half-brother, Elmore Zibbell, of Petersburg; one grandson, Robert Gradoph, and one granddaughter, Vivian Gradolph. His only sister, Arvilla E. Ellis, passed away in 1928.

Mr. Gradoph was a member of Blanchard Lodge, F &A.M., No. 102, Russell chapter No 208, O.E.S., the Maccabees and the Michigan Retail Hardware Association. He is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery.

Henry Herkimer of Herkimer and Dingman- He is buried in McIntyre Cemetery, Monroe

Lockwood, saw mill

Morris Parks, saw mill

Oliver T. Rose, general dealer- He is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Petersburg

This PDF features more Petersburg businesses and professions:  Petersburg Businesses Then and Now

Some Petersburg Veterans

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War memorial Perry Park, Saline and East Walnut Streets, Petersburg.  Dwight Burdette

GAR Comrades

Horace Breningstall, broom handle manufacturer of Petersburgh, was born in Dundee on July 18, 1843 to Seth and Lucy Hobart Breningstall. Horace lived in Dundee until 1852, when he moved to Raisinville Township.

When the Civil War broke out, Horace enlisted on May 20, 1861 in Company A of the 4th Michigan Infantry as a corporal. After he was mustered out in June 30, 1864, he reenlisted on March 212, 1865 in Co. I, 5th U.S. Veteran Volunteers as a private and served until March 1866. He participated in the battles of New Bridge, Hanover Court House, Mechanicsville, Gaines Mill, Savage’s Station, Antulaus, White Oak Swamp, Gainesville, Second Bull Run, Malvern Hill, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spottsylvania, and several others. He developed rheumatism during his Civil War Service because of the hardships of soldiering in the field.

When he returned from the Civil War, he joined the Morgan Parker Post, No. 281 of the Grand Army of the Republic and later became commander. [11]

On July 11, 1868, Horace married Elizabeth Main and they had three children:  Reuben, Susan A., and Phila Addie.

A Republican in politics, he held several Summerfield Township offices and served as postmaster of Petersburg. [12]

Another Petersburg Civil War veteran, Josiah Elder also commanded the Morgan Parker GAR Post for many years. Born in Portage, Ohio in Wood County on January 1, 1848, he enlisted at age 16  in the 179th Ohio Volunteer Infantry at Sandusky. He fought at Franklin, Chattanooga, and several other battles and didn’t receive any wounds in battle.  He did develop erysipelas which affected him the rest of his life and finally destroyed his eyesight by 1926.

In 1867, Josiah moved to Petersburg in 1867 and made his living as a clothier and farmer. On July 4, 1868, he married Miss Emily A. Trombley of Deerfield  and after she died he married Miss Mary A. Lister of Petersburg on September 25, 1890. He had seven children:  four sons and three daughters.

Josiah Elder was one of the charter members of the Morgan Parker GAR Post in Petersburg, a post which once had 45-50 members, and he commanded the post for its last 15 years of active organization. Two GAR members, Cerenus Dewey and John Spaulding survived him.

He died at age 83 on December 23, 1931. He is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery.[13]

Fighting in France – World War II

Harold E. Brockway, was born on August 22, 1925, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Forest Brockway of Petersburg, Michigan. On November 20, 1943, at age 19, he enlisted in the United States Army, 101st Infantry Regiment, 26th Division and joined the fighting in France with his regiment.

On June 22,1944, Harold wrote a poem and sent it to his parents. They trimmed and burnt the edges of the paper, placed it on blue paper on an oak board, sealed it with varnish and hung it on the dining room wall of their house.

Harold’s poem:

Sunset In The Army

Just A dream for the weary and tired,
To see those lights go out at night,
After A day of toil in the field,
With dusty sweat dripping from our brow,

With never A care for the wiler,
We crawl back to bed at night,
With only one thought in mind,
To sleep off the weariness of the day,

And As I look out Over the sleeping,
No greater story has artist ever told,
Than this picture of quiet rest,
For men who know best what it means,

How It stirs my heart inside me,
Until tears well up and nearly would fall,
And a lump rises up in my throat,
To suffocate all of my every thoughts,

There’s A beautiful sunset in the Army,
When All those lights flicker and die away,
And then you hear those forlorn notes of the bugler,
As he signs off for the night.

The Petersburg Sun, Petersburg, Monroe County, Michigan published this story on Sunday December 29, 1944.

KILLED IN ACTION

Harold E. Brockway

Pvt. Harold E. Brockway, 19 year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Forest Brockway, was killed in action in France, November 21, according to a telegram received by his parents from the War Department.

Harold attended Hogel school and Petersburg High School.

Pvt. Brockway leaves besides his parents, two brothers, Sgt. Wayne Brockway of Fort Lewis, Washington, and Lewis at home, three sisters, Lillian, Ruby and Betty, all at home. He is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery.

Harold Brockway’s poem hung on the wall of his parent’s dining room  from 1944 until 1996, and it now hangs in his nephew’s house on the family farm.

This PDF features more Petersburg veterans.

Petersburg Veterans

Petersburg Is A Tree City USA

tree city USA

Petersburg is a farming community whose earliest pioneers appreciated and nurtured trees and forests even as they chopped many of them down to coax a living from the soil. The Tree City USA program began in 1976 as a nationwide movement to provide the necessary framework for communities to manage and grow their public trees.

More than 3,400 communities are committed to becoming a Tree City, USA and meet the criteria of the four core standards necessary to maintain sound urban forestry management. These standards are:  maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry, and celebrating Arbor Day.

Petersburg with a 2015 population of 1,157 has been a Tree City USA for eight years and one of Michigan’s green farming communities for nearly two centuries.

Notes

[1] Michigan State Gazetteer – 1860,

[2] Michigan Gazetteer – 1877

[3] George E. Lang. Pocket Road Map, Monroe County, Mich. Monroe County Briefly. Monroe, Michigan:  McMillan Printing Co., Geo. E Lang Publications, 1917. p. 32.

[4] Talcott Wing, History of Monroe County, Michigan. New York: Munsell & Company, 1890, p. 484.

[5] Talcott Wing, History of Monroe County, Michigan. New York: Munsell & Company, 1890, p. 127.

[6] Monroe Commercial, Thursday, August 20, 1874

[7] [7] Talcott Wing, History of Monroe County, Michigan. New York: Munsell & Company, 1890, p. 484-485.

[8] Adrian Times, May 2, 1904.

[9] Talcott Wing, History of Monroe County, Michigan. New York: Munsell & Company, 1890, p. 465. Talcott Wing mentions two sons, age 7 and 3 in his biography of John Zabel..

[10] Talcott Wing, History of Monroe County, Michigan. New York: Munsell & Company, 1890, p 495.

[11] Morgan Parker is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Dundee, Michigan.

[12] Talcott E. Wind, History of Monroe County, Michigan. New York:  Munsell & Company, Publishers, 1890, p. 45.

[13] Monroe Evening News, December 23, 1931, Page One, Column Two

The French Colony at Fort Stephenson During the War of 1812: Francis “Hutro” Navarre Emerges from the Shadows

Guest blogger Patrick M. Tucker sheds further light on the role of the Navarre family on the Battle of Frenchtown and its aftermath. This article originally appeared in Northwest Ohio History, vol. 83, no. 1 (Autumn 2015).

by Patrick M. Tucker

Department of Sociology and Anthropology,

University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio

 

Fremont,_Ohio1812

The French colony at Fort Stephenson, now Fremont (Ohio), on the Sandusky River during the War of 1812 was originally from the mixed Odawa (Ottawa) and French village of Presque Isle (now Oregon, Ohio) at the mouth of the Maumee River established in 1807 or 1808 and abandoned in 1836. After 1836, most of the Odawa were removed by the U.S. government to Kansas Territory. Some took the initiative to travel to Walpole Island in Canada to join relatives.[1] And a few, who refused to go to Kansas or Walpole Island, remained in northwest Ohio having moved east to the marshy, wetlands of the Lucas County – Ottawa County border area, out of the path of white settlement. Those French who settled at Presque Isle came predominantly from Frenchtown on the River Raisin and a few from Detroit in the Michigan Territory.

 

The French colony that moved to Fort Stephenson in the winter of 1813 did so to escape the violence and military action of the War of 1812 in the western basin of Lake Erie between Great Britain in Canada, their Indian allies, and the United States. So it is somewhat ironic that during their stay at the fort, their welfare was threatened by Indian hostilities while under the protection of the American government and the Ohio militia stationed at the fort. It is also ironic that they were rescued, not by the Ohio militia, but by Francis “Hutro” Navarre (1759-1840+),[2] a fellow Frenchman, who emerged from the shadows of the fort to save the day. After the war, some of these French families returned to the Maumee River including Francis “Hutro” Navarre and his family, but many others settled below Fort Stephenson to become the first, permanent, white settlers of Sandusky County, Ohio. Navarre and his family who reoccupied their land at Presque Isle became the most famous of the early French pioneers of Toledo, Ohio.

American settlers, both English and French-speaking, living in the Maumee rapids region of Ohio found themselves in a terrible dilemma when Detroit fell to the British and Indians on August 16 during the War of 1812. Faced with fight or take flight most fled the region while few remained. Frenchtown (now Monroe, Michigan) on the River Raisin surrendered to a detachment of British and Indians on August 20, 1812 followed by Port Miami the next day on August 21.[3] While many Canadiens of Frenchtown and Port Miami remained, most of the English-speaking, American settlers, and some Canadiens, managed to escape east to the Quaker settlement on the Huron River (now Milan, Ohio) and Fort Stephenson on the Sandusky River (now Fremont, Ohio), and south to Urbana, Ohio.[4]

riverraisinbattlefield
River Raisin Battlefield, Monroe, Michigan

For those few settlers and traders who remained, the situation became desperate when the battles and massacre at Frenchtown on the River Raisin, from January 18 to 23 in 1813, resulted in the loss of Major-General William H. Harrison’s left wing of the Northwest Army.[5] Some 880 Kentucky regulars and militia under command of Brigadier-General James Winchester met a vastly, superior British and Indian force of 1,800. Some 800 American soldiers (522 captured, 148 killed and missing, 65 seriously wounded, and 33 who escaped) were lost compared to British losses of 24 killed and 158 wounded of some 522 British soldiers and unknown Indian losses.[6] After this battle, civilian non-combatants evacuated the region in record numbers.

One particular evacuation of civilian inhabitants was that of Presque’ Isle, a mixed Odawa and Canadien village, at the mouth of the Maumee River. This was the Indian village of Pontiac’s followers who moved from Missionary Island (Indianola Island) after 1769 and settled at the mouth of the Maumee River by 1795. In 1808, the village situated on a grassy plat contained some 60 log houses (cabins), hewed and white-washed, laid-out in two rows which presented a “cheerful and pleasant appearance” according to Hutro’s son Peter Navarre (1790-1874), the famous War of 1812 scout.[7] The French families, many related by marriage, migrated south from Frenchtown (now Monroe, Michigan) to the Maumee River about 1807 or 1808. Among those fur traders who resided in the village were those of the Navarre, Cavalier, O’Dett de La Point, DeMars, Bissonet, three Momeny (Mominee), Minor (Menard), Gagnier, Druyor (Droulliard), Fountaine (LaFontaine) families, five Devoir brothers, the widow of Steven Jacob and her daughters Julie, Ann, and Monique.[8] Others probably at Presque Isle in January of 1813 were the Jocks or Jacks (Jaquot) and Jeremy (Jereaume) families.[9] Hutro Navarre had moved his family in 1799 from Frenchtown to Presque Isle.[10]

fort stephenson

(Fort Stephenson in 1813 (Created by John Hibbler of Fremont, Ohio. In “Ohio in the War of 1812,” Past Times, vol. 12, March, Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center 2013).

Shortly after the American disaster at Frenchtown, about twenty French families at Presque Isle packed their belongings and formed a train of horse sleighs with wooden runners, sleds, and some wagons and headed for Fort Stephenson on the lower Sandusky River some 30-35 miles away.[11] The party was led by Peter Malosh or Maltosh, an Indian trader and American army scout, who knew the Sandusky River territory well, which is now Ottawa and Sandusky Counties (Ohio).[12] While Hutro and his family joined the French migrants to Lower Sandusky; his sons Peter, Robert, James, and Alexis had already joined Winchester’s Kentucky brigade as spies (scouts). Having managed to escape the battles of Frenchtown, the boys joined General Harrison’s Northwest Army, assigned to Captain Gratiot’s company of spies.

The ground well covered with heavy ice and snow made easy and excellent traveling conditions for the sleighs and sleds to avoid the woods and Indians, but not for the wagons. Their first stop on the journey was Locust Point which they made the first day. The following day was particularly hard on the horses as the snow was very deep. The train kept close together with the order of sleighs being frequently changed so that the lead horses that became weary, breaking the way, were rested in the rear. Upon arrival at the Portage (now Port Clinton, Ohio), the horses were exhausted. The following morning Malosh directed the train to follow his tracks, as he pushed on ahead to Lower Sandusky to procure fresh horses for his party. Meanwhile the train proceeded on its third day with reluctant horses stiffened by two days of travel through deep snow crossing the head of Sandusky Bay and entering the river. The weary travelers, and no doubt horses, were delighted to meet Malosh with fresh horses at the mouth of Muskellunge Creek. From here, the French colony made the rapids of Lower Sandusky and the safety of Fort Stephenson. The French families settled in the government barracks at Fort Stephenson, later moving into cabins outside of, but near the fort in the spring of 1813 to plant corn and potatoes on the rich bottomlands of the Sandusky River and adjoining creeks.[13]

During the spring and summer of 1813, the forest and woods near Fort Stephenson were full of hostile Indians. A signal from the fort had been arranged to warn French and English farm families of impending Indian attacks so they could retreat into the picketed garrison for protection by the Ohio militia stationed there.[14]

A war party of Indians lead by an Ottawa chief departed British Fort Malden on the north shore of Lake Erie in bark canoes and landed at the mouth of the Portage River in Ohio on June 1, 1813. They traveled across Marblehead Peninsula and Sandusky Bay to American settlements on Cold Creek in Erie County, Ohio. After traveling a short distance by land up the creek, they attacked three cabins of white families whose men were off working in the fields on June 2. They captured one man and twelve women and children. Traveling back to the canoes it was discovered that one of the women could not keep up due to pregnancy. She was tomahawked, stripped naked, and her womb ripped open and the child taken out. Additionally, three of the children were also butchered for not keeping up with the war party. Upon arrival back at Fort Malden, two or three of the prisoners were ransomed to Colonel Matthew Elliott, and the others by the citizens of Detroit.[15]

John E. Hunt recalled this Ottawa war party returning to Detroit, where he was residing at his brother’s place at the time. He stated:

…one morning I was standing on the porch of his house, when I heard the scalp whoop of Indians coming up the river bank. It proved to be a party of Ottawa Indians. They came up to where I was standing, and to my horror, I saw they had with them a whole family of children from the age of two years to eighteen, the two eldest were girls, in all nine of them. And the scalp they had upon a pole was that of the mother of these children. Owing to her being in a delicate situation, she was unable to travel and keep pace with them, and two young Indians were chosen by Parchan, the Chief of the party, to kill her; which they did, leaving the body stretched upon a log in a horridly mutilated state, when it was afterwards so found by a party of white men, about five miles from Cole Creek [Cold Creek], in Huron County, Ohio, not far from Clyde.[16]

Hunt also recalled, after Harrison’s army reoccupied Detroit, these Native Americans made their appearance with a flag of truce to sue for peace. Parchan, their leader, was with them and among the spectators was a Mr. Snow, the father of the captive family, who joined the army to avenge the death of his pregnant wife. Some soldiers were placed as a guard around Snow to prevent his killing some of the Indians.[17]

greer farm
Geer Farm

Another Indian war party was sent later in June of that year from Fort Malden, this time to the lower Sandusky River near Fort Stephenson . Here, they murdered a white, farm family of four, possibly the Geer family, which consisted of a husband, wife, son, and daughter.[18] Albert R. Cavalier (1806-1895),[19] who made the winter trip with his family as part of the French colony, was in Fort Stephenson at the time as a young boy, when this second war party searched the woods for isolated, American farm families and gathered intelligence on Fort Stephenson for the British. While there Cavalier’s father and mother died and were buried on a farm known today as “The French Burial Grounds,” which was located down the hill from Fort Stephenson in.[20] His recollection of the Indian hostilities adds amazing details not found in Harrison’s letter to British General Vincent in November of 1813, and the whimsical item reported in the Historical Register of the United States.[21]

On that day, June 29th or 30th in 1813, George Shannon, the son-in-law of Elizabeth Whitaker, and a man named Pomeroy were at work on the flats below the fort gathering some vegetables. Isaac Futy kept guard as a lookout for Indians. The work party was startled when they heard the crack of two rifle shots, fired almost as one, by Indians which wounded both Shannon and Pomeroy. Instantly, Futy returned fire as the three made for cover on the Sandusky River bank. The Indians then proceeded to a house near the place, where an American family named Geer resided. This family consisted of two elderly people and a son and daughter. On hearing the alarm, the son and daughter fled into a cornfield nearby to hide, but were met and killed by the Indians. The Indians then followed the father and mother to the river and killed them just as they were getting into a small boat or scow to escape by crossing over the river.[22]

Francis Navarre, after hearing the first shot by the Indians, scaled the pickets of Fort Stephenson, rifle in hand, and ran down the river toward the scene of the trouble. Navarre discovered two Indians chasing an Ohio militia soldier who was running for the fort. He fired and killed the closest Indian, squatted out of sight, reloaded and shot the other Indian. Upon returning to the Fort, Navarre, who was familiar with Indian habits and culture, told the Ohio militia detachment and other spectators that if they would send a party down the river, they would not find the bodies of the Indians. Instead, the packs of the two Indians would be found with his rifle balls in them. Navarre shot them in such a manner that the balls passed through their breasts and lodged in the blankets they carried on their backs. He further stated that the military detachment would find that the farm family had all been killed.[23]

The detachment sent from the fort found Navarre’s words to be true. They found the family and two soldiers murdered and scalped. Shannon, Pomeroy, and Futy were discovered in their hiding places under the river bank which was then bordered by thick brush. Shannon survived, but it appeared that Pomeroy and Futy died of their wounds, as their bodies were brought back to the Fort. Cavalier learned these facts at the time by talk among the men and women in the fort. He saw six persons killed and scalped when they were brought into the fort. The alarm and sight of the mutilated bodies made an indelible impression on Cavalier that he could never forget.

One week before the battle at Fort Stephenson on August 01-02, 1813, the French colony and other civilians were moved by government wagons to Upper Sandusky, and remained there until peace was declared in 1814, then returned to Fort Stephenson and the lower Sandusky River. The French families who did not return to the Maumee River after the War of 1812 settled below the fort in what would become Rice Township, Sandusky County, Ohio. Many of their descendants still live in Sandusky and Ottawa Counties of Ohio today.[24]

peter navarre
Peter Navarre, famous scout, and one of Francois Navarre’s sons. Monroe County Historical Society

François “Hutro” Navarre was a most extraordinary, French, fur trader and hunter in Upper Canada and the American Old Northwest Territory of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He is little known in the region’s history, unlike his son Peter Navarre the famous War of 1812 scout, who is proclaimed the founding-father of Toledo (Ohio) and the first president of the Maumee Valley Pioneer and Historical Association.[25] He witnessed the transition of the frontier during colonial, territorial, and state periods of history in his eight decades of life. He chose, or was forced to choose, the life of a frontier trader, hunter, and trapper despite his birth in a wealthy and politically-important French Catholic family of Detroit, whose fortune steadily declined under British rule after 1760. Navarre was a tough, frontier back-woodsman. His actions at Fort Stephenson and with the assault and battery of a Monroe County deputy sheriff in 1820, almost killing him, suggests he was a man not to be trifled with.[26] His disposing of dead Indian bodies after shooting them in a specific and precise manner leaving a musket ball in their back-packs was his signature and warning on the frontier, at least to Native Americans, that he was in the area and they should leave immediately or suffer the consequences.

The few historical records on Hutro suggest he was illiterate and spoke only the French language and various Algonquian-Indian dialects. A loner unto himself and his family, Navarre left one of the faintest footprints traceable in the history of the region. He was truly a shadowy figure occasionally fading-in and fading-out of the historical record. His life is like a kaleidoscope of still pictures leaving those who encounter him wondering who he was. Navarre was part of that great mass of humanity called the “common man” (including woman) who lacked historicity, the ability to become immortal via the historical record.

Acknowledgments

Special thanks and appreciation to Nan Card, Archivist, Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential

Center, Fremont, Ohio and G. William Cutcher and his son Glenn Cutcher both of Vermilion, Ohio. The Cutchers are descendants of the Couture family on their father’s side and the Rivard dit Lacourière family on their mother’s side originally from Frenchtown on the River Raisin.

Endnotes

[1] The Ottawa relinquished their last two land reserves at the mouth of the Maumee River with the Treaty of February 18, 1833 at the mouth of the Maumee River. Several individual allotments or grants were made to individual Ottawa who decided to remain and become part of the local white population. By 1836, these individuals were selling their land grants and moving to Kansas Territory. Charles J. Kappler, “Treaty with the Ottawa, February 18, 1833,” in Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties. 2 vols. Senate Document 319, 58th Congress, 2nd Session (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1904), vol. 2, 392-94; William E. Peters, Ohio Lands and Their Subdivisions. 3rd Edition (Athens, OH: The Lawhead Press, 1930), 336-37. 

[2] Hutro was born François-Marie Navarre, one of nine children of Robert Navarre (1701-1791) and Marie Lothman-Barrois (1719-1799), and reportedly a descendant of Anthony of Bourbon, Duke of Vendome, who became King of Navarre in 1554. Anthony’s son, Henry III of Navarre, was crowned Henry IV, King of France. Robert Navarre was born in the parish of Villeroy, diocese of Meaux, and province of Brittany in France, and was the first French Sub-Intendant and Royal Notary of Fort Ponchartrain (Detroit) in New France appointed in 1729. Hutro married either Marie-Louise Gouet or Godet dit Marentette born in Sandwich (Windsor, Canada) or Marie-Louise Panât Campeau born in Vincennes, Indiana on February 26, 1781. Together they had twelve children between 1782 and 1806. See Christian Denissen, Genealogy of the French Families of the Detroit River Region, 1701-1936, ed. By Harold Frederic Powell and Robert L. Pilon, 2 vols. (Detroit: Detroit Society for Genealogical Research, 1987), vol. 1, 845-46; Christian Denissen, comp., Navarre, or Researches After the Descendants of Robert Navarre, Whose Ancestors are the Noble Bourbons of France and Some Historical Notes on the Families Who Intermarried with Navarres (Detroit: F. Ebry & Co., 1897), 9-10; Cyprien Tanguay, Dictionaire généalogique des familles canadiennes depuis de la foundation de la colonie jusqu’ã nos jours (Québec, Canada: Eusèbe Senécal, 1871-1890), vol. 6, sect. 1, 141; Peter Navarre, Peter Navarre Memoirs, small manuscripts collection no. 16, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Toledo, Ohio; and Dennis M. Au (personal communication, December 31, 2008).

[3] “Extract from an Original Journal of Charles Askin in the Canadian Archives,” in Documents Related to the Invasion of Canada and the Surrender of Detroit 1812, ed. by E. A. Cruikshank, (Ottawa, Canada: Government Printing Bureau, 1912), 243-47; “Return of Arms and Stores found at the River au Raisin, August 20, 1812,” in Cruikshank, Documents Related to the Invasion of Canada, 176; “Deposition of Antoine Saintecomb, February 22, 1858,” “Deposition of Antoine Saintcomb, February 22, 1858, Frenchtown, Monroe County, Michigan,” Alexander D. Anderson, Administrator of John Anderson vs. The United States, in Reports of the Court of Claims, Submitted to the House of Representatives, During the Second Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress 1861-62, 2 vols. (Washington City: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1862), vol. 1, Report no. 278, 3-4. ; Sandy Antal, A Wampum Denied: Procter’s War of 1812 (Ottawa, Canada: Carleton University Press, 1998), 112-13, 140; “Lewis Bond’s Journal of the War of 1812,” in Document Transcriptions of the War of 1812 in the Northwest, ed. by Richard C. Knopf, 10 vols. (Columbus, OH: Anthony Wayne Parkway Board, 1957-1962), vol. 10, part 1, 188.

[4] John Anderson, A Short History of the Life of John Anderson, transcribed from the Michigan Historical Collections by Richard C. Knopf (Columbus, OH: The Anthony Wayne Parkway Board, n.d.), 35; Hezekiel L. Hosmer, “Amos Spafford, Perrysburg, April 11th, 1843.” in Early History of Cleveland, Ohio with Biographical Notices of the Pioneers and Surveyors, by Col. Charles Whittlesey (Cleveland: Fairbanks, Benedict & Co., 1867), 347-352; Hezekiel L. Hosmer, Early History of the Maumee Valley (Toledo: Hosmer and Harris, 1850), 26-27; Emily Foster, ed., The Ohio Frontier: An Anthology of Early Writings (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1996), 133-35.

[5] “Battle of Frenchtown,” Weekly Register 4, no. 83 (April 3, 1813): 81; Antal, A Wampum Denied, 161-83; Ralph Naveaux, Invaded on All Sides (Marceline, MO: Walsworth Publishing Company, 2008), 106-259; G. Glenn Clift, Remember the Rasin! (Baltimore: Reprinted by Clearfield Co., Inc., 2002 [1961], 62-91; Dennis M. Au, War on the Raisin: A Narrative Account of the War of 1812 in the River Raisin Settlement, Michigan Territory (Monroe, MI: Monroe County Historical Commission, 1999[1981]), 46-112.

[6] “Winchester to the Secretary of War, Malden, January 23, 1813,” and “British Official Account, Adjutant General’s Office, Quebec, February 8, 1813,” both in  Weekly Register 4, no. 79 (March 6, 1813): 9; Weekly Register 4, no. 83 (April 3, 1813): 81. Only fifty-eight names of dead Kentucky soldiers are recorded for January 22 in claims filed against the U.S. government for various reasons by their heirs (“Kentucky Troops Killed at the River Raisin, Jan. 22, 1813,” Manning Collection Series, Record Group 217).

[7] Hosmer, Early History of the Maumee Valley, 4.

[8] C. W. Evers and M. A. Leeson, Commemorative, Historical and Biographical Record of Wood County, Ohio. 2 vols. (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1897), vol. 1, 363; Ottawa County Genealogical Society (Ohio), The History of Ottawa County, Ohio and Its Families (Marceline, MO: Wadsworth Press, Inc., 1985), 230; François LaFontaine, Detroit to Jean-Baptiste Beaugrand, Foot of the Rapids [Maumee River], June 21, 1810,” Beaugrand Family Papers, box 1, folder 1, Rawson Family Collection LH 115, Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, Fremont, Ohio. Don Sorby, Sorby/Simmons and Relevant Families, at <RootsWeb, Ancestry.com> accessed October 18, 2014.

Both Hutro Navarre and his sons received 800 acres and Albert R. Cavalier and Joseph Le Cavalier dit Ranjard (deceased) received 80 acres as individual allotments of land at the mouth of the Maumee River based on the Treaty of February 18, 1833.

[9] G. William Cutcher, 1812-1813 Refugees from Frenchtown, n.d.; Mrs. A. D. Elwell, History of Erie Township [Ottawa County, Ohio], read before the Ottawa County (Ohio) Horticultural Society, n.d.

[10] Martin Nadauts [Nadeau], Monroe, Michigan to Lewis Cass, Secretary of War, Washington City, December 24, 1833,” in Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs (1824-1881), Microcopy 234, Michigan Superintendency (1824-1851), Roll 421 (1832-1835) (U.S. National Archives, Washington, DC, 1959). Frames 0272-0274.

[11] The Two Miles Square Reserve, located on both sides of the Sandusky River at the rapids and now within the city limits of Fremont (Ohio), was a strategic location reserved to the United States at the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. During the War of 1812, Americans built Fort Stephenson in June of 1812 on an acre of land on the river’s west side. In August of 1813, a youthful Major George Croghan and his badly outnumbered troops successfully defended the fort against a British and Indian force of about 1,300 men. See George W. Knepper, The Official Ohio Lands Book (Columbus, OH: The Auditor of State, 2002), 55; Fort Stephenson,” Touring Ohio at <http://www.touring-ohio.com/history/fort-stephenson.html> accessed Nov. 1, 2014.

[12] Paul Cavalier, personal communication, July 13, 2000. Peter Malosh or Maltosh was probably Pierre Meloche, a member of the Jean-Baptiste Meloche (1741-1820) family of Detroit and Sandwich (now Windsor, Canada).

[13] “Narrative of Albert Cavalier, Sept. 5, 1878,” Rutherford B. Hayes Papers (2 vols,), vol. 1 – Lower Sandusky (1810-1814), 4 pp., Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, Fremont, Ohio; “Narrative of Albert Cavalier, Sept. 6, 1878,” in History of Sandusky County, Ohio with Portraits and Biographies, by Homer Everett (Cleveland, OH: H. Z. Williams & Bro., 1882), 119-20, 569-70; “The French Train and Its Harrowing Journey Across Frozen Lake Erie,” Local History of Northwest Ohio Research Files, Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, Fremont, Ohio; and Evers and Leeson, 363.

[14] “Narrative of Albert Cavalier, September 5, 1878,” 1; Everett, History of Sandusky County, Ohio, 119-20, 569-70.

[15] “General [William H.] Harrison, Headquarters, Fort George to Maj. Gen. Vincent, Commanding the British Forces at Burlington Heights, November 3, 1813,” in Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 40 vols. (Lansing, MI: Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co. State Printers, 1874-1929), vol. 15, 437; Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin, “An Ethnohistorical Report on the Wyandot, Potawatomi, Ottawa, and Chippewa of Northwest Ohio.” in Indians of Northwest Ohio, comp. and ed. by David A. Horr, (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1974), 305; W. W. Williams, ed., History of the Firelands (Cleveland: Leader Printing Co., 1879), 492-93. The cabins were located on Pickerel Creek where access was gained through Cold Creek. The pregnant woman tomahawked was a Mrs. Snow.

[16] Thomas Dunlap, “General John E. Hunt’s Reminiscences,” Transactions at the Annual Meeting  of the Maumee Valley Pioneer and Historical Association, held at Toledo, February 22, 1877 (Toledo, OH: Blade Printers and Paper Co., 1877), 33; Richard J. Wright, ed., The John Hunt Memoirs, Early Years of the Maumee Basin, 1812-1835 (Maumee, OH: Maumee Valley Historical Society, [1978]), 26-27.

[17] Dunlap, General John E. Hunt’s Reminiscences, 33; Wright, The John Hunt Memoirs, 27. According to Hunt, Parchan died a most miserable death, having fallen into a fire in a “drunken scrape”, and burned his right arm so badly that he died a lingering death at Tonedoganie’s Village, about 12 miles above Maumee City (Ohio).

[18] “Annals of America, Part 6,” The Historical Register of the United States (1812-1814), vol. 2 (August 1, 1813):113; Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, vol. 15 (1909):437.

[19] Albert R. Cavalier was born October 8, 1806 on the River Raisin in the Michigan Territory. His parents were Joseph Le Cavalier dit Ranjard/Rangeard (ca. 1782-1813) and Marie-Louise DeMars (ca.1785-1813). He was christened February 25, 1807 at St. Antoine Church. After the death of his parents in 1813, Albert lived with Mrs. Jacob or Jaco, an aunt, at Fort Seneca until he was 15 years old, when she married Jacob-Gabriel O’Dett de La Point, who settled on a farm eight miles below Fremont, Ohio. He then lived with Thomas DeMars, Sr., until he was age 19. Albert married November 24, 1828 to Mary-Louisa (Eliza) Momeny (1811-1881) in Portage Township, Sandusky County, Ohio. They lived along Big Mud Creek north of Fremont, Ohio, where they raised ten children – six sons and four daughters. Eliza died in 1881 and Albert remarried to Mary Ziegler Alpool and lived in Oak Harbor, Ohio. Later they moved to Bowling Green, Ohio. Albert died Aug 23, 1895 at Bowling Green, Wood County, Ohio, and his funeral service was in Oak Harbor (Ohio) and burial was August 25, 1895, in the family plot in Brier Hill Cemetery, Rice Township, Sandusky County, Ohio. See “Narrative of Albert Cavalier, Sept. 5, 1878,” 1; Paul Cavalier, Les Cavaliers: The Genealogy of the Cavaliers and Their Related Families 1600-1984 (Unpublished manuscript, Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library, Fremont, Ohio, n.d.), 7; “Albert R. Cavalier,” Ancestry.com, Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database online], Provo, Utah, USA.).

[20] Don Sorby, “Sorby, Simmons, and Relevant Families: Pierre Momeny (1785-1836), June 25, 2012, at <http://www.ancestry.com&gt;.

[21] This incident was told by Cavalier in a written statement on September 5, 1878, found in the archives of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio. Cavalier’s interview with local historian Homer Everett is dated September 6, 1878 and reprinted in his History of Sandusky County, Ohio published in 1882. Both versions are essentially the same with the exception of some minor editing by Everett in the published version.

[22] “Narrative of Albert Cavalier, September 5, 1878,“2; Indian Murders in the Vicinity of Fort Stephenson Previous to the Battle, which Demonstrates the Dangers to the Early Settlers Along the Sandusky River, at the Time,” Sept. 6, 1878,” in Everett, History of Sandusky County, Ohio, 119-20. The location of the farm was where the Lake Erie & Louisville Railroad shops stood in 1882. In 1821, Shannon was a grand juror for the May term of the Sandusky County Court in Ohio, and in 1822 appeared on a tax duplicate for Sandusky Township.

James Whitaker (1756-1804) was made a white prisoner of the Indians in 1774 or 1778 in western Pennsylvania and Elizabeth (Foulke or Foulkes) Whitaker was captured in 1776 or 1780 near Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), both were brought to the Wyandot Town at Sandusky where they remained living as adopted Wyandot. James bought Elizabeth from the Wyandot for a keg of rum and they were married in 1781 at Detroit. Upon their return to Sandusky, they were given 1,200 acres on the Sandusky River below Fremont, Ohio, as a wedding present. The Whitakers established a chain of trade stores or trade posts throughout northwest Ohio. James Whitaker died of accidental poisoning in 1804 at Upper Sandusky (Ohio). See the Sandusky Star-Journal (Sandusky, Ohio), vol. 12., no. 15, p. 2, December 15, 1920; The Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin), Mar. 23, 1967, p. 20.

[23] Ibid.

[24] At Mud Creek, north of Fremont in Ottawa County, La Prairie Church was built and some French from this colony are buried in the church cemetery. In later years, La Prairie Cemetery was abandoned, and to this day Bay Township has no cemetery (Ottawa County Genealogical Society, The History of Ottawa County, Ohio, 230.

[25] On the notoriety and fame of Peter Navarre, see Alfred A. Cave, “Pierre Navarre,” American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 1999), N:B251-A252; William Bridgewater, “Pierre Navarre,” Dictionary of American Biography, vol. 6, ed. by Dumas Malone (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1933), 395-96; Dan L. Thrapp, “Pierre Navarre,” Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography (Glendale, CA: The Arthur H. Clark Co., 1988); John Sugden, Tecumseh’s Last Stand (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985); Au, War on the Raisin; Ralph Naveaux, Invaded on All Sides: The Story of Michigan’s Greatest Battlefield Scene of the Engagements at Frenchtown and the River Raisin in the War of 1812 (Marceline, MO: Walsworth Publishing Co., 2008); Maumee Valley Pioneer and Historical Association, Prospectus of the Maumee Valley (Toledo, OH: Vrooman and Anderson Printers, 1905); Benson J. Lossing, Pictorial Field Book of War of 1812 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1868); Larry R. Michaels and Robyn Hage, Peter Navarre, War of 1812 Scout: The Man Behind the Legend (Toledo, OH: Bihl House Publishing, 2002); Hosmer, Early History of the Maumee Valley; John M. Bulkley, History of Monroe County, Michigan: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People, and its Principal Interest (New York: Lewis Publishing Co., 1913); and Clark Waggoner, History of the City of Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio (New York: Munsell & Co., 1888).

[26] Patrick M. Tucker, “Criminal Cases of the Michigan Territorial Courts, 1796-1836: The United States of America v. Francis “Hutro” Navarre in 1820,” Northwest Ohio History 81(1) (Fall 2013):40-52.