Howard Family in Gilead, Ohio
along the Maumee River now known as
Grand Rapids, Ohio
In 1822 Thomas Howard, a Revolutionary War veteran, came by boat
across Lake Erie from the East to the head of the rapids. He became the
first settler of our village. His family walked through the woods of both
Pennsylvania and Ohio to join him here. Others came, too, and the town of
Gilead was plotted in 1833.
Thomas Howard was a
surveyor and came from New York to the Maumee Valley to the then an unbroken
wilderness with his wife and three sons and their wives and two children. In
1822 they built homes at the Head of the Rapids and became the first
settlers of the village. One son, Edward, who fought in the War of 1812,
had two children - Dresden and Anjanette. Dresden W. H. Howard became
a great friend of the Indians. Anjanette married George Laskey, Jr.
In 1835 when many of the Ottawa Indians were moved west by government order.
Colonel Dresden Howard accompanied them. One Indian, Tee Na Beck, remained
behind and is buried in the Howard Cemetery at the corner of Front Street
and Wapakoneta Road.
Before Thomas Howard arrived,
Peter Manor, a man of French descent from Detroit, had an established home
across the river. He was a good friend of the Indians and they granted him a
large plot: of land. On that plot the town Providence was platted in 1835
and it thrived with the canal business. Providence met bad fortune with a
terrible fire in 1846 and was completely devastated by a cholera epidemic in
1854. The most: important structure remaining is St. Patrick's Catholic
Church, one of the oldest churches in the Toledo diocese. St. Patrick's is
an active church today.
Bridge to what is now
called Grand Rapids, OH,
a town that was settled
in 1822 and known as
Grand Rapids, Ohio
Just across the
railroad bridge over the Maumee River into Grand Rapids you see the
Howard Cemetery. , on your left.
click on picture to
of the Howard family who in 1821 became the first white settlers
on the south bank. Thomas Howard is buried here in this cemetery and was Revolutionary War soldier. Tee-Na-Beek,
who is believed to be
the last Ottawa Indian
left in the Maumee Valley is also buried there. Losing their land to
the White Man, the widow had no burial spot, so his friend, Dresden Howard
allowed the Indian's body to be placed among his relatives. Wrapped in
a fine blanket, his grave is located outside the iron fence.
Click here for additional pictures of
Dresden Winfield Huston
Click her for additional
picture of the Howard House
one of the least known stops on the Underground Railroad was this Maumee
Valley village of several hundred men, women and children, located across the river from present day Grand Rapids. Why was it necessary for escaping slaves to hide so far north of the Ohio River? Fugitive Slave Laws allowed slave catchers to enter free states such as Ohio in pursuit of
slaves fleeing northward to Canada.
According to early pioneer Dresden Howard, slave catchers were present
even here in the Maumee Valley. A Kentuckian named Richardson lived
along the river and made a practice of apprehending fleeing slaves to
collect the rewards. But thanks to the residents of this village and to
local abolitionists like Howard, the slaves were conducted safely during the
night, past Richardson's farm, and on towards freedom in Canada. In
Dresden Howard's letter to Professor W. H. Siebert he wrote,
"My mother, (God bless her)
baked the cornbread and roasted or
boiled venison and pork for
their onward trip to Canada and my
father piloted the poor blacks
on the road to freedom."
The village was called Kinjoino's Town and the anti-slave residents were the
Ottawa Indians of the Maumee Valley.
Dresden Howard and the Underground
Col. D. W. H. Howard,
of Wauseon, Ohio, the only survivor of this branch, a gentlemen, over eighty
years of age, thinks its period of operation is fairly described by the years
1816 to 1835 or '40. He traces the route as follows: "I think the main and
principal route crossed the Ohio river near Northbend; thence on a direct line
(following the streams practicable) to the upper Auglaize, and the Blanchard's
fork of the Auglaize, passing near the Shawnee village where is now the city
of Wapakoneta, and to Ocquenesies town on the Blanchard, where is now the
village of Ottawa; thence to the Grand Rapids of the Maumee (where the river
could be easily forded most of the year), and at the Ottawa village of Chief
Kinjeino where all were friendly, and the poor slave was treated kindly;
thence a plain trail north to Malden, Canada."
I want to tell here an incident which Col. Howard relates, by way of
illustrating the methods used, the obstacles overcome, and the presence of
mind needed by Underground Railroaders, from the beginning to the close of the
Mr. Howard's story runs
mainly as follows: "Ten miles below the Rapids at Roche Teboult or Standing
Rock, lived one Richardson, a Kentuckian, who made a living by catching
slaves. At one time my father, Edward Howard, was piloting a party of slaves
north, and the trail passed only three miles west of Richardson's. In order to
avoid being surprised by this man it was necessary to keep a close lookout;
and for greater safety the trip north from my father's was always performed in
the night. We had a whisper from an Indian friend that this party, which we
had kept concealed in the thick swampy forest near our cabin for some time,
was being watched and would be ambushed on the way. The night they moved out
on the trail, we (I was but a boy, but often accompanied my father) took a
circuitous route, hoping to elude pursuit. After veering to our right and
reentering the old trail, my father left a boy to guard and bring up the rear.
We had not advanced more than three miles, when we plainly heard the beat of
horses' hoofs behind us; the guard was posted near the trail, with orders to
shoot the horse, if necessary; in a few minutes two horsemen approached the
ambuscade and in a second more, the sharp crack of a rifle echoed through the
forest, and the horse with a groan plunged to the ground. This checked the
pursuing party, and gave stimulus and speed to the feet of the fugitives. The
slave-catchers were now afraid to advance, and retreated over the trail, and
the fugitives, though badly frightened, were permitted to continue their march
to freedom unmolested. "
We have seen that the line of road on which this incident occurred was
probably the oldest in Ohio. It did not long remain the only route. The
earnest teaching of Lundy and Rankin was imparted to minds open to truth.
Indeed the Quaker grounded in abolition sentiments.
Colonel Howard’s eulogy by
Judge Hamilton of Toledo hauntingly mentions Colonel Dresden Howard’s love of
the Indians and how he and his father led the fugitives to freedom in the dark
of the night. The agents of the Underground in Ms. Eicher’s family usually
took the route north from West Barre to Winameg. Her family also took their
‘charges’ to the King farm as it was a site close to the Michigan border.
Robert McClarren, Colonel Howard’s grandson, comments that Winameg is a day’s
ride from the Maumee River going north and rescue parties would have untilized
the Winameg camp at it sat directly on the crossroads of several of the Indian
trails. The terminus of the northern route would have been Malden in Canada.
Click Here to View Eulogy
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