Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Daniel Boone was a man...with two graves



Grave #1 in Missouri

Daniel Boone died on this day September 26th 1820 at the age of 85 in Missouri.
Everyone knows who Daniel Boone was right? He was that big buckskin clad, coonskin cap wearing Indian killer, right?
Not quite. Boone dressed like a regular 18th century gentleman, he never wore a coonskin cap and was of an average build for his day. He also told his son he only knowingly killed three Indians and he felt bad about it too. Boone was an actual complicated human being, not some frontier superhero it turns out. So thank you very much TV and movies and bad biographers. While the TV series that ran from 1964-1970 reinforced many of the folktales, this wasn't solely a modern fable, it started when he was alive in hugely popular 1787 biography by John Filson. Boone once humbly stated later: "Many heroic actions and chivalrous adventures are related of me which exist only in the regions of fancy. With me the world has taken great liberties, and yet I have been but a common man." 

Boone was of course a longtime resident of Kentucky. They named a lot of stuff after him in the state he left when it got "too crowded" as the legends say. In reality, while he was skilled frontiersman and hunter he was a very bad land surveyor and businessman. He was also nearly convicted of treason at one point. Most of his KY property was sold off to settle lawsuits and he left for MO on bad terms. He said he would never return to Kentucky. It turned out he did. Maybe. I can't go into his whole story here. If you want that I highly recommend the 2007 book, "Boone: A Biography" by Robert Morgan. This post is really about what happened to his body after he died. It turns out to be just as interesting and unique as his real life story.

Grave #2 in Kentucky
Daniel Boone has two graves, not two monuments but two actual grave sites that claim to contain his body. Or parts of his body at least. There is one in MO and another in KY.
It seems that 25 years after he died, the people of KY wanted their hero back so they had Boone exhumed from Marthasville MO and reburied in Frankfort KY. The problem is they didn't, at least not all of him...or maybe none of him. The whole issue was in great dispute for years. MO even claimed that KY dug up the wrong body because the grave was improperly marked (a common issue in those days). Meanwhile KY said they had the right bones the whole time. This went on and on with different variances until 2010 when the Friends of Daniel Boone's Burial Site in Missouri conceded that only some of Boone's bones were removed. Now that wasn't very scientific and didn't really settle the issue. If you want to pay your respects, to be safe, just visit them both, it's only a 6.5 hour drive between the two.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Congressman White Eyes from the State of Ohio has the floor...

1950s Bonded Oil tumbler
featuring Ohio Indian White Eyes

The title of this blog post are words that could have been heard had history turned a different corner. Unlikely, but possible.

On  September 17th 1778, the first formal treaty with Native Americans was signed between the newly formed United States and the Delaware (Lenape) Indians in the Treaty of Fort Pitt in present day Pittsburgh PA.

Representing the Delaware was Chief White Eyes or Koquethagechton in Lenape. Thomas Lewis signed for the Americans.
Instead of claiming land like most treaties we've come to know, the intention of this treaty was to secure safe passage and have the Delaware provide assistance if needed to American troops through the Ohio Country against the British in Detroit, thus becoming somewhat neutral allies with the US. This was supposed to also guarantee that they would not ally themselves with the British.

Interestingly, there was a section in the treaty regarding the sovereignty of the Delaware and their territory in which they were encouraged to have other Indian tribes join. It stated "...to form a state whereof the Delaware nation shall be the head, and have a representation in Congress" (Article VI). This meant an Indian led territory in most of present day Ohio could have become the 14th US State after the original 13 colonies had ratified the new US Constitution. I'm sure they all had a good chuckle when they wrote that one. Of course this likely never would have happened for many reasons. Alliances and treaties were never observed long. Historians speculate that the US really had no intention of ever fulfilling this portion of the treaty since it was subject to such vague conditions just as the land grab treaties were. It didn't really matter anyway. Less than a year later in 1788, this new alliance fell apart after Chief White Eyes was murdered by American militia. Meanwhile it was clear that the new American forts and settlers in the Ohio Valley were being used offensively and not defensively per the terms of the treaty. The Delaware and other tribes finally turned their allegiance to the British for the remainder of the war as their best hope for survival.

Also noteworthy was the fact that the first US State was Delaware, however "Delaware" was just the English designated name for the Lenape people who once lived along the Delaware River. The name Delaware actually comes from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, an English nobleman and Virginia's first colonial governor. The 14th US State ended up being Vermont and most of the Ohio Valley became Ohio, the 17th US State in 1803.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Soy un perdedor, I'm a Leuser baby...


The Miller-Leuser Log House is dated at being built in 1796 by Ichabod Benton Miller, one of the first settlers to what is now the Anderson Township area East of Cincinnati.  The way the deed is worded, the house may actually pre-date 1796 by a few years.
The Miller's lived here for nearly 40 years. Ichabod also happened to be the son-in-law of Captain Aaron Mercer who founded the nearby town Mercerburgh OH, the first settlement in Anderson Township which is now called Newtown OH.

The only log house remaining in its original location in Hamilton County OH is also the area's oldest continually occupied house at 170 years. Lawrence and Emma Leuser were the last residents who lived there for nearly 60 of those years until 1968. It's been added onto and modified to suit the needs of the various occupants and now has two additional rooms on the main floor so it's much more spacious than the original.


Log homes back then generally had just a front door and a one window that could be barricaded to keep the owners safe from hostilities. This house was built shortly after the Treaty of Greenville ceded most of Ohio to the US so this was at a time when there were only about 5000 white settlers in Ohio. Even though some Indian tribes signed the treaty, not all bands of these tribes recognized their validity. The settlers were trespassers as far as they were concerned.

In 1971 the Miller-Leuser Log House and the land surrounding it was purchased by the Anderson Township Historical Society (ATHS) who had it restored and furnished with period pieces. In 1974 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

2 seater outhouse on the right
In June 2011 I was happy to see an Ohio Historical Marker was placed here which can be seen in the first photo along with my daughter on our visit one Sunday last October on one of the last tours for the year given by the ATHS.

I learned a few new things on the tour. For one, I had been pronouncing "Leuser" as "Loser". The actual pronunciation is LOY-ser. Also, the difference between a log cabin and a log house is that a log cabin has one floor and a log home has two.
The tour guides were very nice and made a special effort to engage the children that were on the tour. Besides the period furniture there were also some nice pictures that showed what the house looked like over the years as well as some photos of it's residents.

What really makes this structure more unique is that not very many buildings from the 18th century are still standing in the Cincinnati area. In fact, I can only think of one other standing cabin that predates this one. The 1795 Dunn Cabin in Shawnee Lookout Park which has near it, a stone Spring House where the 1786 Treaty of Fort Finney was supposedly signed. However both of these structures have been moved from their original nearby locations.

Cincinnati is very lucky to have this well preserved and well maintained exhibit of local history thanks to the efforts the Anderson Township Historical Society.

The  Miller-Leuser log house is open for tours on the 1st and 3rd Sunday, June through October 1-4PM.

For more information about the log house and the ATHS, please visit their website.