Sunday, August 3, 2003

Descendants to share stories of Fort Laurens

Ohio Bicentennial Notebook

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

For the first time in 225 years, descendants of frontiersmen and Indians - famous and infamous - will meet at Fort Laurens to share stories and keep alive their family histories.

The Frontier Family Reunion is an Ohio bicentennial event.

Descendants of the notorious Simon Girty will assemble Aug. 16 at Fort Laurens State Memorial in Bolivar, Ohio, with the descendants of frontiersmen Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, Lewis Wetzel, William Crawford, Alexander McKeek and representatives of various Indian tribes.

At some point in the past, said historian Scott Fisher of Clermont County, these pioneers' lives intertwined. Wetzel and Crawford served at Fort Laurens, which was built in Delaware Indian territory. Kenton saved Boone's life during an attack on Boonesboro, Ky. And Girty saved Kenton from burning at the stake when Indians wanted to kill him, Fisher said.

"Some of these frontiersmen helped defend Fort Laurens while others tried to destroy the fortification," said Fisher, a trustee of the Friends of Fort Laurens Foundation. "We are excited to have them all return to this site, not to celebrate victory or defeat, but to celebrate history and the role their family ancestors played in the state and nation."

Fisher said although Girty was a notorious frontier renegade and a British ally, he saved Kenton from burning at the stake by Indians in Ohio. During the American Revolution, Fisher said, Fort Laurens became the first official American military site attacked by Girty after he sided with the British.

Built in 1778 along the Tuscarawas River, Fort Laurens was a stronghold of the new Republic. At least 21 American soldiers were killed defending the fort. Fisher said Capt. Abraham Lincoln, grandfather of the president, and Major Richard Taylor, father of President Zachary Taylor, served at Fort Laurens.

On Aug. 16-17, the Brigade of the American Revolution's annual encampment and re-enactment will be held at Fort Laurens, featuring mock battles, military drills and discussions on frontier life. The events are open to the public.

Fisher's group is trying to raise money to rebuild the fort. Information:

Fort Laurens State Memorial, 11067 Fort Laurens Road, Bolivar, is about 10 miles south of Canton, just west of I-77. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: $3, $2 for children. The fee includes admission to the museum.

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Morgan's Raid re-enactment will be held Sept. 3-7 in Vinton and Meigs counties in southern Ohio. It is billed as one of the largest gatherings of cavalry re-enactors.

Visitors will see the Battle of Buffington Island - on land where the battle actually took place.

Union forces and local militia stopped Morgan's Confederate raiders on their long ride that started in Kentucky.

The event is free but parking costs $5. For times and other information, see Web site or call (877) 634-4726.

The All-Ohio Bicentennial Quilt Show, called one of the largest quilt shows in North America, will run through Aug. 17 at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus.

About 1,000 handmade quilts will be displayed. They come from each of Ohio's 88 counties and represent 200 years of Buckeye history.

The free display will be held in the Buckeye building at the Ohio State Fairgrounds.

Information: Web site.

The Wright Brothers were Buckeyes, but Wilbur is also claimed by the Hoosiers. The Wilbur Wright Birthplace and Interpretative Center is in Millville, Ind. ("where aviation history was born").

Information: Web site.

Bicentennial Notebook runs periodically. Send news to Randy McNutt at the Enquirer, 7700 Service Center Drive, West Chester OH 45069. Telephone: 755-4158. Fax: 755-4150. E-mail:

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