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War of 1812 becomes personal for Silver Lake woman

By Jim Carney
Beacon Journal staff writer

 

Published: January 19, 2014 - 08:07 PM
myers20cut_2
Sharon Myers, a local expert on the War of 1812, stands next to the grave of her great, great, great grandfather, Jacob Houser, at the Lakewood Cemetery on Thursday in Akron. Houser was a veteran of the war. (Ed Suba Jr./Akron Beacon Journal)

The War of 1812 holds personal meaning for Sharon Myers.

With nine family members having served in the war, including her great-great-great-grandfather Jacob Houser, Myers has become deeply involved in researching local stories of the war, which marks several key bicentennial moments this year.

Houser, who lived to be 90 years old, is buried at Akron’s Lakewood Cemetery on West Waterloo Road.

The war which began in 1812 ended on Christmas Eve in 1814.

The Silver Lake woman, president of the William Wetmore Chapter of Daughters of 1812, has given 30 speeches in the past two years at libraries and clubs about the war. She spoke to the Beacon Journal about the war that has consumed so much of her time and energy.

Q: How did you become so interested in the War of 1812?

A: They say that the War of 1812 is the most forgotten war, and that might be why I was attracted to it. But it also is the first war that was actually fought on Ohio soil. And considering that Ohio was only a state since 1803, and nearly 20,000 of our men participated in it, that made it even more enticing. Ohio wouldn’t have been settled as soon as it was if it wasn’t for the War of 1812. The Battle of the Thames ended the Native American alliance with the British, and the Native Americans left Ohio. The pioneers could then settle here without the fear of Indian raids.

Q: What fascinates you about this war?

A: American ingenuity. It is everywhere! The dashing Oliver Hazard Perry beating Her Majesty’s Royal Navy in the Battle of Lake Erie. Col. George Croghan fighting off 700 British Regulars and 2,000 Indians at the Battle of Fort Stephenson with only one cannon — Old Betsy — from the Revolutionary War. He kept moving the cannon around the fort so it looked like he had more. And then the Battle of Fort McHenry; we buried 20 ships in Baltimore Harbor so the British couldn’t get close enough to the fort to do damage. They bombarded the fort for 25 hours using 1,500 shells. They ceased fire due to lack of ammunition.

Q: How big of a role did Northeast Ohio play in the war?

A: Considering that the Battle of Lake Erie changed the path of the war, I would say a big part early on. Whoever controlled the Great Lakes controlled the war during the early part of the war. We were the old Northwest. Everyone wanted to take Detroit and then Canada, and they had to come through us to accomplish it.

Q: Were boats built for Commodore Perry in Summit County?

A: We finally found a concrete answer to that question that has been baffling us for 200 years. Proof has been found that the Army, not the Navy, ordered that three gun boats be built at Old Portage for use in the Battle of the Thames in October 1813. The Battle of the Thames is where we chased the British and their Indian allies up the Thames River, and we needed gun boats suitable for navigating a river to do that. And, the Cuyahoga River was a much different river 200 years ago than it is now. Dams have allowed silt to build up. It was said to have been a federally mandated navigable river during the era of the War of 1812. I think that people in the 1800s clumped the Battle of Lake Erie together with the Battle of the Thames, and that’s how that mistake has been repeated in history books throughout the years. America really needed a hero when Perry won the Battle of Lake Erie, and it was probably hard for them to see much of anything else during that time period other than a wonderful win by a young man.

Q: What is your own family’s history in the war?

A: I have nine ancestors that I have proven for the War of 1812 and none of them has anything exciting to report on. They fought from Pennsylvania and Virginia. I have no Oliver Hazard Perry in my genes. Darn!

Q: Can you talk about the experience of finding graves of War of 1812 vets and getting grave markers for 100 of these veterans?

A: It truly has been a fulfilling experience to know that all 365 1812 veterans buried in Summit County are now in marked graves and people now know more about these men than they ever did. It was a shame that so many were in unmarked graves and no one knew they were veterans. Many of the cemeteries didn’t know what they had, even if the graves had a marker. People didn’t know they were a veteran of the War of 1812. We even have one buried in Twinsburg who fought for the other side. John Chapman is said to have fired the first cannon at Perry’s ship, the [USS] Lawrence, in the Battle of Lake Erie. He eventually settled in Twinsburg and became a U.S. citizen before he died.

Q: What is the best book you know of on the War of 1812?

A: Wow, that’s hard. It’s usually the last one that I’ve read. And there have been many new ones printed during the bicentennial. I guess it would be Perry’s Lake Erie Fleet-After the Glory by David Frew, published in 2012. But I am a big fan of Perry so ...

Q: Are there any important figures from the war buried in any of our cemeteries that most folks ought to know about?

A: Aside from the British chap in Twinsburg, we have Maj. Minor Spicer buried in Glendale. Spicer guarded the line from Old Portage to New Portage and part way to Cleveland. He was a major in the Ohio militia. He also saw that Smith Road was kept open for troops and supplies to pass through, mostly at his own expense.

William Wetmore is buried in Stow Cemetery. He was commissary for the Ohio militia and kept supplies moving through our area. He is noted for founding the village of Cuyahoga Falls in 1812. ... William Stow, buried in Stow, was a sailor on Lake Erie and commanded one of the ships in the War of 1812 — or so it is said. William Cogswell is buried at Montrose Cemetery, and he helped float the three ships built at Old Portage down the river to Lake Erie. ... There are so many interesting stories to tell.

Community News

Fairlawn to celebrate Croghan with events, park rededication

2/20/2014 - West Side Leader
      permalink bookmark

By Kathleen Folkerth

The marker that notes the significance of Col. George Croghan in the Fairlawn area will be set up again at Croghan Park when work there is completed this summer, according to Fairlawn officials.
Photo courtesy of city of Fairlawn
FAIRLAWN — Col. George Croghan slept here — or did he?

The namesake of Croghan Park in Fairlawn has long been considered to have spent a night in the vicinity of Smith Road in Fairlawn in 1813 on the way to Fort Stephenson during the War of 1812.

But Sharon Myers, president of the William Wetmore Chapter Daughters of 1812, who has been researching local involvement in the War of 1812, said it’s most likely Croghan’s detachment came through the area, but he wasn’t with them.

“Smith Road was extremely important,” Myers said. “It was the main east-west route for troops and supplies. That’s where Croghan comes into our area. But he was not going for supplies. A detachment of his company was camped out at [what is now] Macy’s.”

Fairlawn Mayor William Roth said he’s not heard that Croghan wasn’t with his troops before.

“It’s our understanding that they camped roughly where Croghan Park is, and the assumption is that he camped with them,” he said. “We’re honored to name the park after him.”

Regardless of whether or not the war hero rested his head in Fairlawn, Kentucky-born Croghan was one of the nation’s finest during the war between the U.S. and Britain 200 years ago. Myers, who said Croghan is one of her favorite historical figures from the war, along with Oliver Hazard Perry, will share information about Croghan at a presentation Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Fairlawn-Kiwanis Community Center, 3486 S. Smith Road.

Myers said Croghan was just 21 when he won the Battle of Fort Stephenson, in Fremont, and defeated the British and thousands of Native American warriors with a single cannon.

The event is the first leading up to a planned rededication of Croghan Park, which is 40 years old this year.

“We’re pretty excited,” Roth said. “It’s the 40th anniversary of the park, and we’re going to be doing a lot this year.”

Since Fairlawn is in the midst of improvements to the park that bears Croghan’s name, it seemed like a great time to celebrate the man and provide the opportunity to learn more about him, said Laurie Beisecker, director of the Fairlawn Parks and Recreation Department.

She added, however, the city only came to realize the significance of the anniversary by accident. Former Councilman Jim Swartz was cleaning out an office when he came upon a shovel that was used in the groundbreaking for the park. It was marked with the date, which prompted city officials to realize this year was a big anniversary for the park.

Beisecker also came to see residents are interested in Croghan and his history after a memorial to Croghan located at the corner of Sand Run Parkway and Miller Road was removed.

“Once the memorial came down, because of the work there, we started getting calls from people asking ‘What are you doing?’” Beisecker said.

Plans are still coming together for the summer rededication of the park, but Beisecker said the date is set for July 19.

“It’s going to be really neat,” she said.

Local dignitaries and elected officials will be on hand, and there will be activities for families, Beisecker said. Plans also call for military re-enactors to be at the site.

As for the park’s improvements, Beisecker said the pedestrian bridge is being replaced and a new rain garden will be installed. A pump system will help keep rainwater out of the park’s playing field, she added, directing it instead to the rain garden.

Roth said work has been on hold because of the weather, but if temperatures warm up in the coming weeks as predicted, the foundation will be prepared for the new bridge.

And of course, the Croghan memorial will be placed back at the corner.

Myers said the memorial also has an interesting history. It was originally on Smith Road at the current site of Summit Mall, but it was moved when the mall was built, she said.

The marker, dated 1954, was a project of the Portage Trail Chapter Daughters of 1812, Myers said.

Beisecker said she’s not sure what was at the park site before it became a park. The condition of the soil there is not suitable for building, which is why it was used for a park, she added.

Other monthly presentations highlighting local history and the War of 1812 will take place in the months leading up to this summer’s park dedication. On March 25, John Burke will speak on Capt. Wolf and Smith Road.

For more information, call 330-668-9515.

CUYAHOGA FALLS NEWS-PRESS, FEBRUARY 24, 2014

Colonel from War of 1812 profiled

Have you ever wondered how Croghan Park in Fairlawn got its name? In honor of the upcoming rededication of Croghan Park and 1812 Living History Encampment on July 19, by the city of Fairlawn, local historian Sharon Myers, President of the William Wetmore Chapter Daughters of 1812, will present a program on Col. George Croghan at 7 p.m. on Feb. 25 at the Fairlawn Community Center at 3486 S. Smith Road.

Learn how 21-year old Col. George Croghan won the Battle of Ft. Stephenson, in Fremont, and amazingly defeated the British Army and thousands of Indians under Tecumseh with only one cannon, Old Betsy.

Prior to this, two unsuccessful attacks on Ft. Meigs, near Toledo, were made by the British and the Indians before focusing on Ft. Stephenson.

A company from Hudson is said to have helped build Ft. Meigs in January of 1813.

A detachment of Croghan's Company camped on Smith Road, near present-day Macys, on their way to Ft. Stephenson with supplies from Pittsburg. One of these men was Jonah Turner who thought that the land was so beautiful, he promised he would come back and settle after the War. And he did. Purchasing 350 acres, he is credited for being the founder of Copley Township.

This is a PowerPoint presentation with a short video on Ft. Meigs. For more information, contact Sharon Myers 330-794-5099.

 

CEREMONY BY WILLIAM WETMORE CHAPTER
HONORING 375 1812 VETERANS BURIED IN SUMMIT COUNTY
SEPTEMBER 20, 2013
submitted by Sharon Myers, chapter president.


August 6, 2013 Newspaper Article Summit County Ohio Post

Christian Yerrick who died in 1851, Holland Brown, born in 1768 and died in 1841, a member of the U.S. Army, Sumner Brown of the N.Y. Militia, and Gideon Hewitt of the N.Y. Militia, all have headstones thanks to the efforts of the William Wetmore Chapter Daughters of 1812.

William Wetmore Chapter Daughters of 1812 was founded in 2009 by Organizing President Sharon Myers. Being a lineage society, anyone who can document that they are a direct descendant of a patriot of the War of 1812 is eligible to become a member. The National Society was founded in 1892 with the goals of promoting patriotism, preserving the history of the era and increasing knowledge of the history of the war to the American people.

In the fall of 2010, in preparation for the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, Myers attempted to find and photograph the graves of all of the veterans of the War of 1812 buried in Summit County.

“This was not an easy task,” Myers said. “And little did I know there would be 365 of these men scattered all over the county!”

Cemetery records, census records, pension records, militia rosters, obituaries, county histories, and death records are a sample of the various records used to find and prove these veterans. While photographing the graves, Myers became aware that approximately 100 of them had no headstone and about 98 percent of them had nothing to indicate that they were a veteran of any war.

In the case of the Norton veterans, Christian Yerrick has a marker at the very back of the Norton Center Cemetery. It is illegible and is broken into two pieces. A Works Progress Administration map was consulted to find the grave’s exact location. A rubbing done on special paper designed not to damage older headstones also verified the grave.

The WPA was implemented under then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 and provided almost 8 million jobs between 1935 and 1943. One of these jobs was to document all the graves of United States veterans.

Gideon Hewitt and the Browns had no headstone. The WPA map shows the location of Holland Brown but the other two are not listed. Through the remarkable achievement of the Daughters of 1812, we now have four men buried in Norton cemeteries now honored for their service. Four men who fought for our country, who were lost and now have been found.

Myers filled out forms for military headstones from the Department of Veterans Affairs, attached the necessary documentation and asked the cemetery representatives to sign the forms. Approximately 50 headstones were procured by this method in 2012. Some cemeteries did not participate. During late summer of 2012 the VA decided to enforce their ruling that only next of kin can sign for military headstones. With nearly 60 stones to go, finding next of kin would be nearly impossible.

During this time, Myers also worked with the Summit County Veterans Services Commission to acquire War of 1812 flag holders for each veteran’s grave in Summit County. These flag holders were delivered the week before Memorial Day 2012. Myers and her members delivered the flag holders to the cemeteries that had veterans and also installed about 75 of them in cemeteries that had no one to do so. Memorial Day 2012 was the first day since the War of 1812 that most of these veterans had a flag flying at their grave. Norton Center and Western Star Cemeteries were among them. Each veteran’s grave that could be identified has a flag holder next to the marker and each holiday, when appropriate, a flag is placed to recognize the service of each and every one.

With 60 veterans left that had no grave marker, Myers went to County Executive Russ Pry, asking if the county could provide the funds for the remaining grave markers. The county granted the necessary funds.

For the past two years, Myers has gone around the county presenting various programs on the War of 1812 and she and the Wetmore Chapter have done Memorial Programs for the veterans buried in various communities. On Sept. 21 at 2 p.m., a memorial ceremony for all of the veterans of the War of 1812 buried in Summit County will be held at the Summit County Historical Society. This will be a free event and open to the public.

Because of all of her efforts, Myers was asked to speak at the Salute to the Troops Ceremony at Perry’s Monument in Put-in-Bay on Memorial Day weekend of this year. She was also awarded the Spirit of 1812 Award from the Ohio Society Daughters of 1812 at their Spring Conference this year for everything that she has done to promote the history of the War of 1812.

Newspaper Article Summit County Veterans Click Here

The Wetmore Chapter Web site is http://sharonmyers1.tripod.com/ or call Myers

Guest Column: Star-Spangled Banner celebrates its Bicentennial

by Sharon Myers Published: January 5, 2014 12:00AM Cuyahoga Falls News Press

As we enter 2014, let us remember that this year marks yet another Bicentennial -- that being "The Star-Spangled Banner," our national anthem, which was written during the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore by Francis Scott Key during the last year of the War of 1812.

British troops had attacked Washington, D.C., setting fire to many important government buildings, including the White House and the U.S. Capital in late August 1814 and marched toward Baltimore, the third largest city in the U.S. and the center for shipping and boat building. If the British took Baltimore, they could destroy American ships and without ships, the U.S. would have little hope of winning the war.

The British raided American farms and houses and broke into the home of Dr. William Beanes looking for food and drink and valuables. Beane and his friends were able to round up the thieves and place them under arrest. One soldier escaped and reached British General Robert Ross and told him what had happened. Ross sent the troops to arrest Dr. Beanes, who was then jailed in Ross's warship the Tonnant.

Although Beanes was an American, his captors thought he was British, charged him with treason and threatened to hang him. Francis Scott Key, a well-respected lawyer, heard about his friend's capture and got permission from President Madison to negotiate with the British on Beane's behalf. Key arranged to have an American agent for prisoner exchange accompany him. They found and boarded the Tonnant.

Key and Skinner pleaded their case to General Ross showing him letters from British soldiers who had been wounded and Dr. Beanes had treated the men with kindness. After conferring with the British, they relented but would not release the doctor or Key immediately because they had seen and heard too much of the preparations for the attack on Baltimore. They were placed under guard and were forced to wait out the battle behind the British fleet.

On Sept. 13, 1814 the British attacked Baltimore's Fort McHenry. British warships continuously bombarded the fort for 25 hours. 1,500 shells were used. They ceased fire due to a lack of ammunition.

Prior to this, Maj. George Armistead, Commander of Fort McHenry, asked seamstress Mary Pickersgill to create a flag to fly over Fort McHenry prior to the battle. This flag was to be so large that the British troops would easily identify Armistead's position from afar. Pickersgill spent six weeks making the 30 x 42 foot flag.

Key watched the bombs bursting in air as the British attacked the fort throughout the night. Unknown to Key, the battle was actually going badly for the British. They had underestimated the American forces. American officers had sunk more than 20 ships in Baltimore Harbor before the battle which created an underwater wall that kept the British ships too far away to seriously damage the fort.

The next morning by the dawn's early light Key saw the broad stripes and bright stars of the U.S. flag still waving in the distance over Fort McHenry, sending a big message: the United States had not surrendered. Key wrote a patriotic poem called "The Defense of Fort McHenry."

True to their word, the British freed Key, Skinner and Beanes after the battle. Copies of Key's poem were given to soldiers and in November it was set to music by publisher Thomas Carr. The United States has used it as the national song since the 1880s. It was made the official national anthem by Congress in 1931 under President Herbert Hoover, replacing Hail Columbia.

The flag remained in the possession of Major Armistead for some time. Pieces of it were given to the fort's soldiers or their wives. It is now 8 feet shorter than it was originally. It has been permanently housed at the Smithsonian since 1912 and has undergone multiple restoration efforts.

The flag had 15 stripes, not 13. The stars are 2 feet by 2 feet tip to tip. The flag will not unfurl in winds less than 5 mph. At least 3 to 5 people are required to raise and lower the flag as it weighs 45 pounds.

The Bicentennial of the War of 1812 has brought much enthusiasm and interest in this forgotten war and many researchers have delved deeper to discover answers to some of the controversies that have lived on through the past 200 years. One of these controversies that occurred right here in Summit County has been solved! I am speaking of the controversy of the three gunboats that were built here on the Cuyahoga River. We have discovered that they were, indeed, built here and ordered by the Army and not the Navy. They were used in the Battle of the Thames which was just a few weeks after the Battle of Lake Erie. They were indeed gunboats and not Schenectady boats as some have speculated. There is evidence that the Schenectady boats (flat boats similar to barges) were built in Cleveland and not Summit County. And yes, the Cuyahoga River was a navigable river and deemed so by the Federal Government during the early 1800's.

Contact Sharon Myers, President, William Wetmore Chapter Daughters of 1812, 330-794-5099.

Are you related to any of these Stow pioneers? Daughters of 1812 plans July 20 service

Published: June 30, 2013 12:00AM

Daughters of 1812

The William Wetmore Chapter Daughters of 1812 will conduct a Memorial Service for the Veterans of the War of 1812 buried in Stow and Maple Lawn Cemeteries July 20 at 10:30 a.m. in the veterans section of Stow Cemetery on Route 59 in honor of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812.

The Chapter is looking for descendants of the veterans listed below. Anyone who is related to any of the following men, is asked to let Chapter President Sharon Myers know at 330-794-5099 or armshome@aol.com. The Chapter would love to include descendants in the ceremony. The veterans are:

Thomas Bowen, Alden Bucklin, William Burnham, Henry Butler, John Campbell, Col. George Darrow, Clerk Joseph Darrow, Aaron Flanders, Samuel Flanders, Sgt. Jonathan Gaylord Jr., Stewart Gaylord, Fifer Thomas Gaylord, Oscar Harvey, Francis Kelsey, William Mcclelland, Moses Miller Jr., Charles Powers, John Powers, Assistant Surgeon Lewis Rice, Constant Rogers, Ambrose Roswell, Henry Shuman, Drum Major Josiah Starr, Teamster William Stow, Miles Thompson, Orson Thompson, Commissary William Wetmore, Col. Henry Wilcox, Isaac Wilcox, and Samuel Young.

 

 

Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013 3:00 am

William Wetmore Chapter Daughters of 1812 to complete grave projecT

William Wetmore Chapter Daughters of 1812 to complete grave project

The William Wetmore Chapter Daughters of 1812 is thrilled to announce that they have recently received a grant from the County of Summit to purchase 60 headstones for the unmarked graves of veterans of the War of 1812 buried in Summit County. Thanks to Russ Pry, county executive, and members of the Summit County Council, the grave project for these veterans should be completed during the bicentennial of the war.

Ken Noon, of Summit Memorials, a veterans’ advocate, has contracted with the chapter to provide the granite headstones at a very competitive price.

In honor of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the Wetmore Chapter found, photographed and researched the 365 veterans buried in our county. The chapter acquired flag holders from the Summit County Veterans Administration for each grave in 2012. These flag holders were inscribed with “War of 1812” on them.

Cemeteries with unmarked graves of veterans of the War of 1812 are located all over the county, from Northfield to Greensburg and from Middlebury to Copley.

Photos of all of graves along with information on the veterans are included in the Ohio Society Daughters of 1812 Veterans Grave Index at www.ohio

daughters1812.org/ohio1812/graveindex/.

The Wetmore Chapter is planning memorial ceremonies for veterans buried in Peninsula on May 18, veterans buried in Stow on July 20 and veterans buried in the entire county on Sept. 21 at the Summit County Historical Society. The SCHS is also planning a trolley tour of the veterans of 1812 graves in Glendale Cemetery on July 9. More activities will be added as the year moves forward. To stay up-to-date on events in our area, visit the chapter’s Web site at

sharonmyers1.tripod.com/ and click on the “Bicentennial Events” link, or call Sharon Myers at 330-794-5099.

Membership in the Daughters of 1812 is available to women age 18 and over who can offer satisfactory proof that they are lineal descendants of an ancestor who, during the period of 1784-1815 inclusive, rendered civil, military or naval service to our country; rendered material aid to the U.S. Army or Navy; or who participated in the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Contact Myers for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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