Indian scout looking at tracks at the edge of Lake Loretta in Alley Park during a performance of Frontier Spirit 1799 presented by the Frontier Players Associaton, Lancaster, Ohio Indian scout looking at tracks at the edge of Lake Loretta in Alley Park during a performance of Frontier Spirit 1799 presented by the Frontier Players Associaton, Lancaster, Ohio Frontier Spirit celebrates it's 25 anniversary performance during Ohio's bi-centennial during 2003 at Alley Park, Lancaster, Ohio
Frontier Players Association presents Frontier Spirit 1799, Alley Park, Lancaster, Ohio last Sat. and Sun in September. Frontier Players Association presents Frontier Spirit 1799, Alley Park, Lancaster, Ohio last Sat. and Sun in September.


A Brief History: Early Settlement of Fairfield County
By George Sanderson, Esq.

Mt Pleasant 1799
Mt. Pleasant 1799

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Frontier Spirit 1799 presented each year in Alley Park, Lancaster Ohio in September by the Frontier Players Association


By George Sanderson, Esq.

On the 17th of May, 1796, Congress, with a view, no doubt, to the early settlement of their acquired possessions by the Treaty of Greenville, Passed an act, granting to Ebenezer Zane three tracts of land, not exceeding one mile square each, in consideration that he would open a road on the most eligible route between Wheeling, Virginia and Limestone, (now Maysville) Kentucky. Zane performed his part of the contract in the same year, and selected one of the grants on the Hockhocking River, where the town of Lancaster now stands. The road was opened by only blazing the trees and cutting out the underbrush, which gave it more the appearance of an Indian path or trace than a road, and from that circumstance it took the name “Zane’s Trace,” a name it bore for many years after the settlement of the county. It passed through the present county of Fairfield, crossing the Hockhocking River at a ripple or fording about three hundred yards below the turnpike bridge, west of the present town of Lancaster, and was called the “Crossings of the Hockhocking.” This was the first attempt to open a public highway through the interior of the North Western Territory.

In 1797, Zane’s trace having opened a communication between the eastern States and Kentucky, many individuals, from both directions, wishing to better their condition in life, by emigrating and settling in the “back woods,” then so called, visited the Hockhocking Valley for the purpose and finding the country surpassingly fertile-abounding in fine springs of the purest water, determined to make it their own home.

In April, 1798, Captain Joseph Hunter, a bold and enterprising man, with his family, emigrated from Kentucky and settled on Zane’s Trace, upon the bank of the prairie, west of the crossings, and about one hundred and fifty yards northwest of the present turnpike road, and was called “Hunter’s Settlement.” Here Captain Hunter cleared off the underbrush, felled the forest trees, and erected a cabin, at a time when he had not a neighbor nearer than the Muskingum or Scioto rivers. This was the commencement of the first settlement in the Upper Hockhocking Valley - and Captain Hunter is regarded as the founder of this flourishing and populous county of Fairfield. He lived to see the country densely settled, and in a high state of improvement - and paid the debt of nature about fifteen years ago. His aged companion, Mrs. Dorothy Hunter, yet lives, enjoying the kind and affectionate attentions of her family, and the respect and esteem of her acquaintance. She was the first white woman that settled in the Valley, and shared with her late husband all the toils, sufferings, hardships, and privations incident to the formation of the new settlement, without a murmur or word of complaint. During the spring of the same year, Nathaniel Wilson, the elder John Green, Allen Green, John and Joseph M’Mullen, Robert Cooper, Isaac Silkffer, and a few others reached the valley-erected cabins and put out a crop of corn.

In 1799, Levi Moore, Abraham Bright, Major Bright, Ishmael Due, and Jesse Spurgeon emigrated with their families from Allegheny country, Maryland, and settled near where Lancaster now stands. Part Of the company came through by land from Pittsburgh, with their horses, and part, with their wagons and other goods, descended the Ohio in boats to the mouth of the Hockhocking, and thence ascended the latter stream in canoes to the mouth of the Rushcreek.

The trace from Wheeling to the Hockhocking at that time was, in almost its entire length, a wilderness, and did not admit of the passage of wagons. The land party of men, on reaching the Valley, went down to the mouth of the Hockhocking and assisted the water party up. They were ten days In ascending the river, having upset their canoes several times and damaged their goods. Levi Moore settled, with Jesse Spurgeon, these miles below Lancaster. The Brights and Due also settled in the neighborhood. These pioneers are all dead, except Mr. Moore. He resides near Winchester, in Fairfield County, blessed with all this world can give to make him happy.

In 1799, the tide of emigration set in with great force. In the spring of this year two settlements were made in the present township of Greenfield. Each settlement contained twenty or thirty families - one was called the Forks of the Hockhocking, and the other Yankee Town. Settlements were also made along the river below Hunter’s, on Rushcreek, Raccoon and Indian Creeks - Pleasant Run, Fetters’ Run, at Tobeytown, Muddy Prairie, and on Clearcreek.

In the fall of 1799, Joseph Loveland and Hezekiah Smith erected a grist-mill at the upper falls of the Hockhocking, now called the Rock Mill. This was the first gristmill built on the Hockhocking River. They also erected at the same place, the first distillery, (then called a “still-house.”) This, however, after a few years, proved a heavy curse to the neighborhood, by destroying the peace and happiness of many respectable families, (as all still houses do, ) broke up both of its projectors, and finally drove them out of the country.

David and Henry Shallenberger built a log grist-mill on the river three miles below Hunter’s settlement.

In April of 1799, Samuel Coates, sen., and Samuel Coates, jr., from England, built a cabin on the prairie, at the “Crossings of the Hockhocking,” kept bachelor’s haIl and raised a crop of corn. In the latter part of the year a mail route was established along Zane’s Trace from Wheeling to Limestone. The mail was carried on horseback, and was transported through at first, once a week. Samuel Coates, sen., was appointed Postmaster and kept his office at the Crossings. This was the first established mail route through the interior of the Territory, and Samuel Coates was the first Postmaster in the new Settlement

James Converse, in 1799, brought from Marietta, by way of the Ohio and Hocking rivers, nearly a canoe load of merchandise, and opened a very large and general assortment of dry goods and groceries, in a cabin at Hunters Settlement. He displayed his specimen goods on the corners of the cabin and upon the stumps and limbs of the trees before his door, dispensing with the use of flags altogether - he of course, was a modest man.

A Brief History: Early Settlement of Fairfield County
Tarhe “The Crane”: Noblest of All Indians
Captain Joseph Hunter


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* NOTE: Pictures show scenes from former "Frontier Spirit 1799 productions"
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