Sunday, April 24, 2011

Stull #13

I’ve lived in Stull my whole life. I’ve studied extensively the history of Stanton County and the state of Ohio in general. I will always consider Stanton County my home and I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way.

For years I have run the Rock Creek Township Historical Society out of the old Stull Library at 7th and Ohio Streets. My goal is to create the most extensive history of Stanton County and so far, I’ve done what I think is a wonderful job but I can’t do it all on my own. My staff does a spectacular job and the citizens of the county who allow us to wander around on their properties and fields also deserve mention.

For the last few months the Society has been investigating the founding of Stull. We were told the founding of Stull was like that of any other Ohio town but as we’ve come to find out, it was a lot more violent. Before the 1830s, all of Rock Creek Township was a reservation for the Comchau Indians. Nearby was Fort Bradshaw which was in operation from 1817 until 1832. It was asked that the fort be closed because of the End Road Massacre.

As of now, we have yet to find any additional information on the End Road Massacre. We’re assuming it was a battle between the military at the fort and the Comchau. In the last 1800s, a book was published—possibly self-published—that told, in detail, how Stull and Rock Creek Township was founded. The book is now lost but there has to be a copy out there or someone who knows what the book contained. If anyone knows where a copy of this book can be obtained please contact the Rock Creek Township Historical Society at (937)555-8967 or stop by the Society 645 Ohio Street in Stull. It is important that we keep our past and our heritage alive, no matter the circumstances.

“The Article”

“Hey, Matt, check out this rebuttal to the letter I wrote to the Tontzville paper a couple days ago,” Frank folded up the paper and flipped it around toward Matt and pointed at the title of the letter.

“’The Past Is Past’,” Matt read. “That is clever. ‘I am tired of having history, most of which does not pertain to us, shoved down our throats. Mr. York’s previous letter talking about a book and some sort of massacre that happened 180 plus years ago. Why should we keep guilting the American people about things that happened before they were born and had no control over? Maybe I would feel a bit different if our county had a more extensive history like the East Coast cities or even Gettysburg but compared to other areas of the country, the history involving Stanton County is pretty boring.’ You know, he has a point,” Matt chuckled.

“Yeah, but that’s why I want to know more about this massacre thing. What if this is our big historic moment? I don’t want to ignore it,” Frank explained. “I’ve also gotten a couple phone calls telling me to ignore it which then makes me want to find out everything.”

“Did the people who called you have any idea what the massacre was?” Matt asked.

“No, they were just prank calls because one of them asked me if I…fellate myself.” Frank smiled. “That’s what happens when you publish your phone number in a newspaper.”

The bells above the front door jingled and Jen could be heard speaking to the person who came in. “How can I help you?” she asked.

“Is Frank York in?”

“Just a moment,” Jen said and came into the office. “Are you available?”

“Yes, Jen. I’m always available. We’ve been through this,” Frank sighed.

“How am I supposed to be a gatekeeper if there’s no gate to keep?” Jen wondered as she left the office.

The man walked into the office, holding his hat and a cane. He was an elderly man and walked slowly. “Mr. York?” he asked.

“Yes? And please, call me Frank,” Frank said standing up. Matt moved off to the side.

“My name is Jarvis Houk, my grandfather was stationed at Fort Bradshaw and was the namesake for Houk Township,” Jarvis began.

“Where Irving is located,” Frank acknowledged. “I’ve ran across Charles Houk’s name numerous times. Fine man.”

“Thank you. I’ve come to ask you about the book on the massacre.”

“Do you have a copy of the book?” Frank exclaimed.

“I’m here to tell you that you will ruin the honor of many great men if you reveal what happened during the massacre, including my grandfather and his great-grandfather,” Jarvis pointed at Matt.

“Sir, I respect the things that those men did but it’s a piece of our history and it needs to be remembered so we can learn from it. Lincoln wanted to abolish slavery but he still felt like blacks were not equal to whites and wanted to send them all back to Africa but that hasn’t changed people’s opinions about him,” Frank said.

“True but Lincoln was an extraordinary man. The men at Fort Bradshaw were ordinary men and a bad reputation can destroy an ordinary man,” Jarvis said.

“I don’t believe there are extraordinary men. I believe there are ordinary men who do extraordinary things. You’re not the only detractor I’ve had over the last few days and I don’t understand this aversion to history but I am not going to back down.”

“Okay. Have it your way. I hope you find what you are looking for,” Jarvis sighed and turned to leave the office. “I do hope you find the book so you will know what you are dealing with.”

Jarvis left the Society and Frank and Matt looked at each other. “Do you think he knows what the massacre is?” Frank asked Matt.

“I think so. Probably should’ve asked him,” Matt nodded. “Although what Mr. Houk said makes me think, even more certainly, that something really bad during the massacre. He mentioned that it could ruin the men at the fort.”

“History has already judged them. Nothing more can help or hurt them,” Frank said, sitting back down.

“Hope you’re right,” Matt said.

John and Katie arrived at Stanton State Lake in Palmyra Township. Palmyra Township had no towns or communities. John and Katie were out there to find the graves of Ludwig and Wilhemina Kaeckell. The Kaeckells homesteaded on most of the acreage that would become Stanton State Lake. Ludwig died in 1901 and Wilhemina passed in 1912. Their heirs took ownership of the property but like it fall into ruins. When the WPA began constructing the dam, the original plan was to move the graves to Pleasant Valley Cemetery, the only other cemetery in Palmyra Township. The Kaeckells demanded that the graves remain. It was difficult to get to the graves, they were located off the path down the Overlook hill. John and Katie exited the car and began walking the path toward the top of the Overlook where a bench had been placed that looked out across the lake.

“I find it hard to believe that Frank doesn’t have a picture of these graves,” John said. “I’ve seen his cemetery scrapbook. He has hundreds, possibly thousands of pictures of cemeteries and graves.”

“Well he doesn’t. He’s never been able to get out here with one of us and he doesn’t want to go alone.”

“At least it’s a nice day. Could use a bit more cloud cover though,” John said as he glanced at the sun.

They walked in silence most of the way to the bench at the top of the hill. As they reached the top, they noticed that someone was sitting in the bench. The reached the top of the hill and saw that the person was sitting slumped over, wearing a trenchcoat and hat.

“That’s odd,” John whispered toward Katie. John approached the man and tapped his shoulder. “Sir? Are you okay?”

The man did not move. John removed the man’s hat and knelt down to look closer at his face. Katie took a couple steps back. “John? Is he okay?”

“Do you have your cell phone?” John asked. Katie nodded. “Call 911.”

To be continued...