Archiver > OH-NW-HERITAGE > 2002-01 > 1010366979

From: Bill Oliver <>
Subject: Black Swamp Heritage Articles Vol 1 #1
Date: Sun, 06 Jan 2002 20:29:39 -0500

Black Swamp Heritage Articles
Bill Oliver

Vol. 1, Issue: #1
ISSN: pending
6 January 2002

Good Evening from the Black Swamp of NWoHIo,

The name for these articles was selected because the
Black Swamp
of Northwestern Ohio touches most of the counties
formed by the
Act of Ohio Legislature, February 12, 1820. There were
counties formed by this act. These pages deal with
nine of the most
northwestern ones, to wit: Wood, Hancock, Henry,
Paulding, Williams, Lucas, Fulton and Defiance. The
first county
named and organized within these nine counties was Wood

On April 1st, 1820, Daniel Hubbell, of Miami; Samuel H.
Ewing, of
Orleans, and John Pray, of Waterville, met in the
second story of
Almon Gibbs' store in Maumee, and organized by electing
Hubbell clerk of the board. Then the board appointed
William Pratt
county treasurer. And, the board purchased a record
book [on
credit] at a price of $4.50. Thus was Wood County
organized, with
boundaries and a name, and officers in place. The only
element was the court.

The boundaries of Wood County are the same now as then,
the exception that the northern boundary was Michigan's
boundary. In the year 1835, Lucas County was formed.
Maumee River then became the northern boundary of Wood

It has been written that Wood County "had no safes, no
vaults, no tax duplicate, no money, no jail, no county
roads, no
ditches, no bridges -- hardly anything, except the
anticipation of her projectors." (1) How different it
was from

"In the beginning" [to use a familiar phrase], there
were rugged
forest trees and thick brush. River crossings were
made by sluggish
ferry, canoes or skiffs. Shipping could only make it
as far as Fort
Miami on the north side of the river. Three
communities struggled
for dominance. Maumee on the north side of the river
about two miles along the river banks. Orleans, on the
south side,
was laid out on the flats below Fort Meigs. Perrysburg
was a few
cabins along what is now Front Street. At that point
in time it was
not much more than a path through the heavy timbered

In fact all along the some 120 miles of swamp, there
were no roads.
There were only "blazed" trails. Due to the abundance
of trees, log
cabins were quickly raised. They consisted mainly of
one room
with a stone fireplace. Usually there was a loft with
a ladder and
puncheon floors [split log]. Corduroy roads were built
finally in the

Until logs were needed for roads, most of the timber
was burned,
even then much of it was burned. This due to necessity
to clear the
land to raise food, for man and beast. Until stumps
were removed,
farming was done around them. The land was so rich
that even a
small acreage planted would be extremely productive.

These people were hard working and industrious. as were
who followed them into the area. But they would almost
take a day off and go hunting or fishing. This, of
course, provided
supplemental food supply, but really provided a
pleasant recreation.
One can imagine why hunting is a "sport" even in this
modern age.

The settlers of the Black Swamp were pioneers who were
workers, who could and did overcome the many obstacles
to live and produce in this wilderness. Well, this
series of articles is
about these people, those who chose to come and change
"face of this earth".

Suffice it to say, change brings loss. And, no matter
what we think,
change doesn't always mean better, for often the loss
can be greater
than the gain.

There is a poem though, written by that most famous
poet, "Author
unknown", which goes something like this:

We are the Chosen.
In every family there is one called
To tell the story
To flesh out the bones
Tis not a cold gathering of facts,
But, rather, breathing life into all
That went before.
We are the story tellers.
[My humble apologies; I know that this not exact as
I've read
it, though I'm sure it is the essence of what I

I loved to listen to my Father tell his "old, old
stories". He is now telling them elsewhere in this

1. Commemorative Historical and Biographical Record of
County, Ohio; Its Past and Present, Chicago, J.H. Beers
& Co.,
1897, p 56
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This article is dedicated to John Henry RUESINK, 12
January 1908 -- 15 December 2001, tinkerer and inventor
extraordinare. If John couldn't fix it, he would
invent a part that would make it work again. John,
after more than ninety years of service to his
brothers, sisters and community, has gone to a
new fishing spot. I'm sure he is teaching the angels
how to use some of his inventions such as his electric
fish scaler.
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&copy Bill Oliver 2002 All Rights Reserved

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