FORT RECOVERY lies in both Recovery and Gibson
townships, the dividing line being the Greenville treaty line, which marked the southern boundary of Mercer
County, and the northern boundary of Darke County until 1849.
The village derives its name from the fort established here, on the site of St. Clair's defeat, by Gen. Anthony
Wayne, in December, 1793. "It is historic ground, and the village stands at once a monument to the defeat
of St. Clair and the victory of Wayne. Small though it is, it occupies a prominent place in American history, for
with its name is associated the memory of that terrible, crushing defeat, which endangered the whole frontier,
but rendered sacred the ground baptized in patriotic blood. It marks also the site of Fort Recovery, built by the
army of General. Wayne as a waymaric along that trail, which led to crowning victory."
After Harman's disastrous expedition into the Indian country, Congress conceived the idea of establishing a chain
of posts in the Indian country between Fort Wayne and Fort Washington (Cincinnati), so as to awe and curb the Indians,
as the only preventative of future hostilities. The command of the expedition was given to Gen. Arthur St. Clair,
under whom was Maj.Gen. Richard Butler. The army left Fort Washington in September, 1791, and proceeded to Ludlow's
Station, six miles distant, where it remained until the 17th, when, being 2,300 strong, exclusive of militia, it
moved northward and built Fort Hamilton on the Great Miami. The march was then continued to a point about 65 miles
from Fort Washington, where Fort Jefferson was erected. On the 24th of October Fort Jefferson was left behind and
the toilsome march through the wilderness begun. The succeeding events of this ill starred expedition we will quote
in the words of Judge Burnet, of Cincinnati:
"During this time a body of the militia, amounting to 300, deserted and returned to their homes. The supplies
for the army being still in the rear, and the General entertaining fears that the deserters might meet and seize
them for their own use, determined, very reluctantly, to send back the First Regiment for the double purpose of
bringing up the provisions and, if possible of overtaking the arresting some of the deserters.
"Having made that arrangement, the army resumed its march, and, on the 3rd of November, arrived at a creek
running to the southwest, which was supposed to be the St. Mary's, one of the principal branches of the Maumee,
but was afterwards ascertained to be a branch of the Wabash. It being then late in the afternoon, and the army
much fatigued by a laborious march, they were encamped on a commanding piece of ground, having the creek in front.
"It was the intention of the General to occupy that position till the First Regiment, with the provisions,
should come up. He proposed on the next clay to commence a work of defence, agreeably to a plan concerted between
himself and Major Ferguson, but he was not permitted to do either; for, on the next morning, November 4th, half
an hour before sunrise, the men having been just dismissed from parade, an attack was made on the militia posted
in front, who gave way and rushed back into camp, throwing the army into a state of disorder, from which it could
not be recovered, as the Indians followed close at their heels. They were, however, checked a short time by the
fire of the first line, but immediately a very heavy fire was commenced on that line, and in a few minutes it was
extended to the second.
"In each case the great weight of the fire was directed to the center, where the artillery was placed, from
which the men were frequently driven with great slaughter. In that emergency resort was had to the bayonet. Colonel
Darke was ordered to make the charge with a part of the second line, which order was executed with spirit. The
Indians instanty gave way, and were driven back several hundred yards, but for want of a sufficient number of riflemen
to preserve the advantage gained, the enemy soon renewed their attack, and the American troops in turns were forced
to give way.
"At that instant the Indians entered the American camp on the left, having forced back the troops stationed
at that point. Another charge was then ordered and made by the battalions of Majors Butler and Clark with great
success. Several other charges were afterwards made, and always with equal effect. These attacks, however, were
attended with a heavy loss of men, and particularly of officers. In the charge made by the Second Regiment Major
Butler was dangerously wounded, and every officer of that regiment fell, except three, one of whom was shot through
the body. The artillery being silenced, and all the officers belonging to it killed, but Captain Ford, who was
dangerously wounded, and half the army having fallen, it became necessary to gain the road, if possible, and make
"For that purpose a successful charge was made on the enemy, as if to turn their right flank, but in reality
to gain the road, which was effected. The militia then commenced to retreat, followed by the United States troops,
Major Clark with his battalion covering the rear. The retreat, as might be expected, soon became a flight. The
camp was abandoned, and so was the artillery, for the want of horses to remove it. The men threw away their arms
and accoutrements, even after the pursuit had ceased, which was not continued for more than four miles. The road
was almost covered with these articles for a great distance.
"All the horses of the General were killed and he was mounted on a broken down pack horse that could scarcely
be forced out of a walk. It was, therefore, impossible for him to get forward in person, to command a halt, till
regularity could be restored, and the orders which he dispatched by others for that purpose were wholly unattended
to. The rout continued to Fort Jefferson, where they arrived about dark, 27 miles from the battleground. The retreat
began at half past 9 in the morning, and as the battle commenced half an hour before sunrise, it must have lasted
three hours, during which time, with only one exception, the troops behaved with great bravery. This fact accounts
for the immense slaughter which took place.
"Among the killed were Major General Butler, Colonel Oldham, Major Ferguson, Major Hart and Major Clark. Among
the wounded were Colonel Sargeant, the adjutant general, Colonel Darke, Colonel Gibson, Major Butler and Viscount
Malartie, who served in the character of an aid. In addition to these, the list of officers killed contained the
names of Captains Bradford, Phelon, Kirkwood, Price, Van Swearingen, Tipton, Purdy, Smith, Piatt, Gaither, Crebbs
and Newman; Lieutenants Spear, Warren, Boyd, McMath, Burgess, Kelso, Read, Little, Hopper and Lickins; also, Ensigns
Cobb, Balch, Chase, Turner, Wilson, Brooks, Beatty and Purdy; also, Quartermasters Reynolds and Ward, Adjt. Anderson
and Doc. Grasson. And in addition to the wounded officers whose names are mentioned above the official list contains
the names of Captains Doyle, Truman, Ford, Buchanan, Darke and Hough; also of Lieutenants Greatoi, Davidson, DeButts,
Price, Morgan, McCrea, Lysle and Thompson; also Adjutants Whistler and Crawford, and Ensign Bines.
"The melancholy result of that disastrous day was felt and lamented by all who had sympathy for private distress
or public misfortune.
"The only charge alleged by the General against his army was want of discipline, which they could not have
acquired during the short time they had been in the service. That defect rendered it impossible, when they were
thrown into confusion to restore them again to order, and is the chief reason why the loss fell so heavily one
the officers. They were compelled to expose themselves in an unusual degree in their efforts to rally the men and
remedy the want of discipline. In that duty the General set the example, though worn down by sickness and suffering
under a painful disease. It was alleged by the officers that the Indians far outnumbered the American troops; That
conclusion was drawn; in part, from the fact that they outflanked and attacked the American lines with great force,
at the same time, on every side.
"When the fugitives arrived at Fort Jefferson, they found the First Regiment, which was just returning from
the service on which it had been sent, without either overtaking the deserters or meeting the convoy of provisions.
The absence of that regiment at the time of battle was believed by some to be the cause of defeat. They supposed
that had it been present the Indians would have been defeated, or would not have ventured an attack at the time
they made it; but General St. Clair expressed great doubt on that subject. He seemed to think it uncertain, judging
from the superior number of the enemy, whether he ought to consider the absence of that corps from the field of
action as fortunate or otherwise. On the whole, he seemed to think it fortunate, as he very much doubted whether,
if it had been in the action, the fortune of the day would have been changed; and if it had not, the triumph of
the enemy would have been left destitute of the means of defence."
Another account of the battle, more graphic than the foregoing, is the one written by Major Denny, an officer of
St. Clair's army, in his journal, which is as follows:
"The troops paraded this morning at the usual time, and had been dismissed from the lines but a few minutes,
the sun not yet up, when the woods in front rung with the yells and fire of the savages. The poor militia, who
were but 30o yards in front, had hardly time to return a shotthey fled into our camp. The troops were under arms
in an instant, and a smart fire from the front line met the enemy. It was but a few minutes, however, until the
men were engaged in every quarter. The enemy from the front filed off to the right and left, and completely surrounded
the camp, killed and cut off nearly all the guards, and approached close to the lines. They advanced from one tree,
log or stump, to another, under cover of the smoke of our fire. The artillery and musketry made a tremendous noise,
but did little execution. The Indians seemed to brave everything, and when fairly fixed around us, they made no
noise other than their fire, which they kept up very constant and which seldom failed to tell, although scarcely
heard. Our left flank, probably from the nature of the ground, gave way first; the enemy got possession of that
part of the encampment, but it being pretty clear ground, they were too much exposed and were soon repulsed. Was
at this time with the General engaged toward the right; he was on foot and led the party himself that drove the
enemy and regained our ground on the left. The battalions in the rear charged several times and forced the savages
from their shelter, but they always turned with the battalions and fired upon them back; indeed they seemed. not
to fear anything we could do. They could skip out of reach of the bayonet and return, as they pleased. They were
visible only when raised by a charge. The ground was literally covered with the dead. The wounded were taken to
the center, where it was thought most safe, and where a great many, who had quit their posts unhurt, had crowded
together. The General, with other officers, endeavored to rally these men, and twice they were taken out to the
lines. It appeared as if the officers had been singled out, a very great proportion fell, or were wounded and obliged
to retire from the lines early in the action. General Butler was among the latter, as well as several others of
the most experienced officers. The men, being thus left with few officers, became fearful, despaired of success,
gave up the fight, and, to save themselves for the moment, abandoned entirely their duty and ground, and crowded
in toward the center of the field, and no exertions could put them in any order even for defense; perfectly ungovernable.
The enemy at length got possession of the artillery, though not until the officers were all killed but one, and
he badly wounded, and the men almost all cut off, and not until the pieces were spiked. As our lines were deserted,
the Indians contracted theirs until their shot centered from all points, and now meeting with little opposition,
took more deliberate aim and did great execution. Exposed to a cross fire, men and officers were seen falling in
every direction; the distress too of the wounded made the scene such as can scarcely be conceived; a few minutes
longer, and a retreat would have been impracticable. The only hope left was, that perhaps the savages would be
so taken up with the camp as not to follow. Delay was death; no preparation could be made; numbers of brave men
must be left at a sacrifice; there was no alternative. It was past 9 o'clock when repeated orders were given to
charge toward the road. The action had continued between two and three hours. Both officers and men seemed confounded,
incapable of doing anything; they could not move until it was told that a retreat was intended. A few officers
put themselves in front, the men followed, the enemy gave way, and perhaps not being aware of the design, we were
for a few minutes left undisturbed. The stoutest and most active now took the lead, and:those who were foremost
in breaking the enemy's line were soon left behind. At the moment of the retreat, one of the few horses saved had
been procured for the General; he was on foot until then; I kept by him, and he delayed to see the rear. The enemy
soon discovered the movement and pursued, though not for more than four or five miles, and but few so far; they
turned to share the spoil. Soon after the firing ceased, I was directed to endeavor to gain the front, and, if
possible, to cause a short halt that the rear might get up had been on horseback from the first alarm, and well
mounted; pushed forward, but met with so many difficulties and interruptions from the people, that I was two hours
at least laboring. to reach the fronts. With the assistance of two or three officers I caused a short halt, but
the men grew impatient and would move on. I got Lieutenants Seam and Morgan, with half a dozen stout men, to fill
up the road and move slowly, I halted myself until the General came up. By this time the remains of the army had
got somewhat compact, but in the most miserable and defenseless state. The wounded who came off left their arms
in the field, and one half the others threw theirs away on the retreat. The road for miles was covered with fire
locks, cartridge boxes and regimentals. How fortunate that the pursuit was discontinued; a single Indian might
have followed with safety upon either flank. Such a panic had seized the men, that I believe it would not have
been possible to have brought any of them to engage again. In the afternoon Lieutenant Kearsey, with a detachment
of the First Regiment, met us. This regiment, the only complete and best disciplined portion of the army, had been
ordered back upon the road on the 31st of October. They were 30 miles from the battleground when they heard distinctly
the firing of the cannon, were hastening forward and marched about nine miles, when met by some of the militia,
who informed Major Hamtramck, the commanding officer, that the army was totally destroyed. The Major judged it
best to send a subaltern to obtain some knowledge of things, and to return himself with the regiment to Fort Jefferson,
eight miles back, and to secure at all events that post. He had made some arrangements, and, as we arrived in the
evening found him preparing again to meet us. Stragglers continued to come in for hours after we reached the fort."
Denny states that the whole loss was 37 officers and 593 privates killed and missing; 3 officers and 252 privates
From Fort Jefferson the retreat was continue4 to Fort Washington, as it was not considered possible to accommodate
the army at the former place. The defeat of St. Clair drew upon his head "one loud and merciless outcry of
abuse and even detestation" from all parts of the country.
* * *
In January, 1792, an expedition was sent from Fort Washington under General Wilkinson to bury the dead on the
battleground and to bring off the valuable public property, which was reported to be still on the spot. Captain
Buntin, a member of this party, afterwards addressed a letter to St. Clair, of which the following is an extract:
"In my opinion those unfortunate men who fell into the enemy's hands with life were used with the greatest
torture, having their limbs torn off; and the women have been treated with the most indecent cruelty, having stakes
as thick as a person's arm driven through their bodies. The first I observed when burying the dead; and the latter
was discovered by Colonel Sargeant and Dr. Brown. We found three whole carriages; the other five were so much damaged
that they were rendered useless. By the General's orders pits were dug in different places, and all the dead bodies
that were exposed to view or could be conveniently found (the snow being very deep) were buried."
* * *
St. Clair's battlefield was next visited in December, 1793, when Gen. Anthony Wayne, who had been appointed
to the command of the American troops, to retrieve the disaster of November 4, 1791, and break the power of the
Indians, sent forward a detachment of troops to the battlefield froin Fort Greenville, where he had arrived. The
troops arrived on Christmas Day and pitched their tents on the battlefield. When the men went to lie down in their
tents at night, they had to scrape the bones together and carry them out before they could make their beds. The
next day holes were dug and the bones remaining above ground were buried; it is said that as many as 600 skulls
were found among them. After this melancholy duty was performed, a fortification was built and named Fort Recovery.
On its completion a company of artillery and one of riflemen were left as a garrison.
* * *
On the last day of June, 1794, a severe and bloody battle was fought under the walls of Fort Recovery between
a detachment of American troops, consisting of go riflemen and 5o dragoons, under the command of Major McMahon,
and a very numerous body of Indians and British, who at the same instant rushed on the detachment and assailed
the fort on every side with great fury. They were repulsed with a heavy loss, but again rallied and renewed the
attack, keeping up a heavy and constant fire during the whole day, which was returned with spirit and effect by
the garrison. The next morning, McMahon's detachment having entered the fort after sustaining a severe loss, the
enemy renewed the attack and continued it with great desperation during the day, but were ultimately compelled
to retreat from the field. In this engagement, 22 officers and non commissioned officers of the American forces
were killed, while 30 were wounded. The losses of the Indians, of whom, there were present from 1,500 to 2,000,
were very heavy. Captain Gibson, who commanded the fort, and after whom the township of Gibson took its name, behaved
with great gallantry. It was supposed that the British engaged in the attack expected to find the artillery that
was lost on the fatal 4th of November, which had been hid in the ground and Hovered with logs by the Indians in
the vicinity of the battlefield. Fortunately, most of it had been previously found by its legitimate owners, and
was then employed in the defense of the fort.
* * *
All of St. Clair's cannon were subsequently recovered by Wayne but one, which was found, some 4o years after
the battle, buried in the mud near the mouth of the creek. This piece, a 6 pounder, was sold to a volunteer artillery
company at Cincinnati for $60.
The remains of Major McMahon and his companions, who fell at the time of the attack on the fort, were buried within
its walls. In 1838, soon after the town of Fort Recovery was laid out, Robert G. Blake discovered their remains.
The bones were disinterred and reburied in the village cemetery. In this work Mr. Blake was assisted by Dr. J.
S. Fair, D. Freeman, David Beardslee, Henry Lipps and others.
The fort stood in the northwest part of the town. All that remains of it to perpetuate its memory is a portion
of the flag staff, which was exhumed about 1880 and some years later sent to Columbus, where it now reposes in
the relic room of the Capitol Building.
* * *
On July 7, 1851, John S. Rhodes and David J. Roop, while searching for bullets on the site of the old battlefield,
discovered a human skull, partly covered, in one of the streets of the town, adjacent to the ground upon which
the fort stood. Recent, heavy rains had washed off the earth. The discovery induced a search, which resulted in
the skeletons of some 6o persons being exhumed in a good state of preservation. The citizens of Fort Recovery held
a meeting the next day, and resolved to reinter the bones, a committee being appointed to make suitable arrangements
for the occasion.
This committee, consisting of William McDowell, Henry Lipps, Benjamin Cummins, Thomas Roop and David Beardslee
selected Wednesday, September 10, 1851, as a suitable time and public notice of this action was duly given.
On Saturday, August 3o, 1851, a mass meeting of the citizens of Mercer and adjoining counties, who felt disposed
to participate in the solemnities of the reinterment of the remains of those who fell on the battleground of Fort
Recovery, was held at the Court House in Celina, to make suitable arrangements to join their fellow citizens of
Fort Recovery on that occasion. The meeting organized by appointing Benjamin Linzee, chairman, and A. P. J. Snyder,
secretary. Upon the object of the meeting being stated, F. C. Le Blond, William L. Blocher and John S. Brown were
appointed a committee to draft resolutions; which in due time were reported by them and were as follows:
That the recent discovery of the remains of those brave worthies who fell in defense of their country at Fort Recovery,
on the 4th of November, 1791, call loudly for some act of gratitude on the part of Amer ican citizens that will
perpetuate their memory in the hearts of the present and future generations; therefore
Resolved, That we highly approve the course pursued by our fellow citizens of Fort Recovery in the prompt arrangements
they have commenced to reinter those remains.
Resolved, That all of us who can possibly go will attend and participate in the ceremonies of that occasion.
Resolved, That, in the opinion of this meeting, it would not only be an act of justice to the departed, but an
act of duty on the part of the American Congress, to appropriate a sum of money sufficient to erect a suitable
monument, in honor of the heroes of that memorable battle.
Resolved, That, for the purpose of carrying out the above resolutions, we hereby earnestly request our Senators
and Members of Congress from this State to use their best exertions in procuring such an appropriation.
A committee of 11 was appointed to make suitable arrangements for the conveyance of those who wished to participate
in the ceremonies at Fort Recovery.
The morning of the loth of September, 1851, was clear, bright and warm and as the sun rose and cast his beams over
the plain, made sacred by the blood of that brave band, every avenue leading to the village was so crowded that
by 10 o'clock the concourse of citizens from Mercer, Darke, Preble and other counties in Ohio, and Jay, Adams,
Wells, Randolph, and other counties in Indiana, assembled on the battleground was not less than 5,000.
The forepart of the day was occupied in placing the bones in 13 large, black walnut coffins, provided by the committee,
which had been made by Robert G. Blake and John S. Rhodes; a large box containing io bushels was also filled. The
number of coffins was set at 13, because there were 13 States in the Union at the time the battle was fought, and
in all human probability every State was represented in that battle. While the coffins were being filled, the people
were permitted to examine the bones, many of which bore marks of the bullet and tomahawk.
Officers of the day having been appointed by the committee on arrangements, a procession was formed at 10 o'clock
under the direction of the marshal, James Watson Riley, and his aids, as follows:
I. Martial music.
II. Soldiers of the Revolutionary and subsequent wars.
III. One hundred and four pall bearers, in charge of the 13 coffins containing the bones of the deceased of St.
IV. The ladies.
V. The orator of the day.
VI. The officers of the day president, vice presidents and secretaries.
VII. Citizens and visitors who were willing to join the procession.
The procession thus formed, constituting a column a mile long, passed through the streets of. the village to a
grove southeast of the battle ground, where an oration was pronounced by Hon. Bellamy Storer, of Cincinnati, who
had been invited for the occasion. At the conclusion of the address, Hiram Bell, of Darke County, president of
the day, spoke, being followed by Abner Haines, of Preble County, of the committee on resolutions, who reported
a series of resolutions, urging Congress to appropriate money to erect a monument at Fort Recovery and one at Fort
Greenville. The report was received and unanimously adopted. Committees composed of citizens of the different counties
represented were appointed to solicit subscriptions for the furtherance of that object. Benjamin Linzee, James
Watson Riley, H. F. Juneman and two others were appointed on the part of Mercer County.
The procession was then reformed in the order that it came to the stand, and moved to the burying ground on the
south sick of the village, where the remains were returned to the earth with proper ceremonies, the coffins being.
deposited in one grave. The last act being performed, the people left the graveyard, each satisfied that he had
done nothing more than his duty, willing to do more if possible. It is true they could not benefit those dry bones,
but their history is the foundation of our history; their destruction kindled afresh the patriotic fire that burned
in the bosoms of our fathers, and incited a Wayne to deeds. of noble daring in the Northwest.
Gen. Lewis Cass, General Butler and George E. Pugh, Esq., had also been invited to speak on the occasion, but none
of them was able to be present.
* * *
In 1891 a centennial celebration was held at Fort Recovery in commemoration of the battle of November 4, 1791.
The following was invited to be present to address the people but not all were present: Hon. John Sherman, Hon.
Calvin S. Brice, Hon. F. S. Sessions, Hon. J. E. Campbell, Hon. William McKinley, Hon. John Brown (Governor of
Kentucky), Hon. C. M. Anderson, Hon. D. J. Ryan, Hon. M. D. Shaw, Hon. M. K. Gantz, Hon, Samuel F. Hunt and Gens.
William Gibson, E. B. Findlay and J. P. S. Shank. Of those present, Hon, James E. Campbell, Governor of Ohio, Hon.
Samuel F. Hunt, of Cincinnati and Gen. E. B. Findlay, of Bucyrus, Ohio, addressed the gathering, as well as some
others. At this centennial celebration the remains of the soldiers, which had been buried in the old cemetery in
the southwest part of town in 1851, were taken up and removed to a plat of ground that was purchased for the purpose
of erecting a monument thereon, should Congress ever make an appropriation for such purpose. Here the bones were
reinterred and a temporary wooden monument erected thereon, which stood for a number of years and was then torn
clown and destroyed.
* * *
The part of the town of Fort Recovery lying north of the Greenville treaty line was laid out by David Beardslee
in 1836, the plat being recorded on July 3oth. At a later date Larkin & McDaniel laid out the part of the town
south of the treaty line. The town was incorporated June 15, 1858, under the name of Recovery, 50 citizens signing
the petition for incorporation. It is the oldest village corporation in the county. The Wabash River flows through
the northern part of the village; from east to west. The town has one railroad, the Lake Erie & Western.
Among the earliest residents of Fort Recovery were John Simison and family, who in the spring of 1817 came here
and moved into the trading house, which had been built by David Conner. Mr. Simison farmed the ground upon which
the town is built, while his sons provided meat by hunting. His daughter Mary married Peter Stuclabaker, on February
15, 1821, at Fort Recovery. Mr. Studabaker farmed here about 12 years and then removed to Adams County, Ohio.
David and Obed Beardsley were pioneers at Fort Recovery; the former laid out the town north of the treaty line.
Henry Lipps, who came to the county in 1830 and helped lay out the town, was the first hotelkeeper here and a leading
light of the town; he was a member of the Ohio Legislature in 1849. John Lipps came to the county in 1832 and associated
himself with the growth of the village. William McDaniel came here at an early date and with Mr. Larkin laid out
that part of the town south of the treaty line. His son, George R. McDaniel, is still a resident of the town, where
he has lived all his life and for many years has been engaged in the banking business. Thomas Roop tobk up his
residence at Fort Recovery at a very early date. John Blake and family were pioneers here. The family consisted
of Robert G., John G., David F., Perry W., Samuel, Rebecca, Mary Jane and Margaret Ann. Perry W. Blake, who resides
in Paulding County, Ohio, is the only one of the boys now living. Margaret Ann resides at present at Celina. The
Blakes were prominent in all that pertained to the early history of the town. Dr. J. S. Fair, who came here in
pioneer days, was the first physician ever in practice at Fort Recovery. Dr. John Conant Richardson, one of the
town's first doctors, settled here in 1843. The entire period of the practice of his profession was spent at Fort
Recovery. Dr. D. Milligan came to Fort Recovery at an early day when a young man in years; he was considered one
of the best physicians the towns ever had; he also became interested in banking. Capt. John Stafford Rhodes came
to Fort Recovery April 12, 1844, and is still a resident, being now in his 81st year. Jacob Morningstar was the
town's first blacksmith; he settled here in 1848. Anthony Sonderman, the pioneer wagon maker of the village, located
here with his family about 1850; the Sondermans have ever since been identified with the town's business' affairs.
A tannery was established here in 1864 by William Koch, now president of the Fort Recovery Stirrup Company. John,
Lewis and George Oswald were all merchants of the town in early times.
The first gas well at Fort Recovery was struck on Mareh 28, 1887, and was appropriately named "Mad Anthony."
The bore was 510 feet deep, when the flow commenced.
The present village officials of Fort Recovery are as follows: Mayor, John A. Hunter; clerk, B. B. Wilson; treasurer,
Adam Beach; marshal, Joseph Sutherland; council Edward Koch, George H. Lord, Edward Hoke, O. E. Denny, Charles
Schneider and James Hedrick; Board of Public Affairs M. W. Birkheimer (president); William J. Reichard and Nicholas
Money James Ross, clerk. I. N. Medford is postmaster. John Clark, John Isenhart and E. T. Hastings are the trustees
of Green Mound and Spring Hill cemeteries, the last named being secretary. The Town Hall, a two story, brick building,
erected in 1879, stands near where the old fort was located. The village has a public park, set aside for this
purpose some years ago. Three large cannons and a number of shells, presented to the village shortly after the
late war with Spain, have been placed here. The village had a population of 802 in 1880; 1,186 in 1890; and 1,097
The churches of Fort Recovery have been noticed earlier in this chapter. In 1854 Robert G. Blake built the first
schoolhouse; an addition to this, 25 feet square, was built in 1859. On May 28, 1868, the citizens voted an appropriation
of $5,000 for building a new schoolhouse. The structure was located at Broadway and Elm streets, and cost when
completed $8,000. The present public school building was erected in 1888-89 at a'cost of $25,000. It is a two story,
eight room brick structure. Eight teachers are employed. James Ross has been superintendent of the village schools
since 1898. Mrs. J. A., Hunter is principal of the High School, which has an enrollment of 57 pupils and ranks
as first grade. Fort Recovery also has an excellent Catholic paroehial school.
Fort Recovery ranks as one of the most progressive towns in the county and its business interests are worthy of
mention. The leading manufacturing establishment is the factory of the Fort Recovery Stirrup Company, the largest
exclusive manufacturers of wood stirrups in the world. The company was organized in 1899; William Koch is president
and Edward Koch, secretary and manager. Other wood working establishments are the Rimel spoke works, the planing
mill of William E. Wilson (dealer in lumber, building materials and coal), the band sawmill of George A. Reuter
and the excelsior factory of Noah P. Huntwork. The town has two gristmills, the St. Clair mill and the mill conducted
by John Remanklus; the Jay grain elevator; and the flour exchange of William Herby. Will Hull operates a brickyard.
John Schindler has a large blacksmithing business and also builds wagons and carriages. The town has two livery
barns, run by John Isenhart and William Lowry. Charles Schneider is proprietor of the Wayne Hotel. A. A. Kolp is
publisher and editor of the Fort Recovery Journal, a weekly, independent newspaper, which was established in 1890.
The private banking business conducted for many years by George P. McDaniel was incorporated January I, 1907, as
the Fort Recovery Banking Company. The Fort Recovery Building and Loan Association is a prosperous concern; George
A. Reuter is secretary. The Fort Recovery Telephone Company is owned and controlled by Fort Recovery business men.
The leading mercantile establishments are those of Russell M. Morvelius and Krenning & Son, dry goods; Frank
J. Sonderman & Company, dry goods and clothing; August Stelzer, dry goods and groceries; George Gagle (successor
to W. F. Pausch), John Fisher, Roesner & Lenhart and Jacob Anthony, groceries; Joseph. A. Meinerding, hardware
and farming implements; Michael Velten, hardware and harness; Adam Beach, boots and shoes; Edward Hoke, jewelry;
John Adams, drugs; and E. T. Adams, who conducts a variety store. W. H. Lowry is an extensive buyer and shipper
of live stock, and is also engaged in road contracting. Fort Recovery has one attorney, J. A. Hunter, who is serving
his second term as mayor; five physicians, Drs. J. V. Richardson, W. C. Robeson, William R. Taylor, Martyn Taylor
and J. M. Buchannan; one dentist, Dr. C. A. Brown; and one veterinary surgeon; Frederick Miller.
Fort Recovery has two Masonic bodies, two Odd Fellow bodies and a G. A. R. post. Fort Recovery Lodge, No. 539,
Free and Accepted Masons, was granted a charter at a session of the Grand Lodge held at Cincinnati; October 21,
1885. The charter members of the lodge were 19 in number, as follows: John S. Rhodes, J. S. Clump, Jacob Dumbaulcl,
James Thompson, Charles L. Townsend, Samuel A. Nickerson, Joshua Armstrong, Charles Armstrong, Isaac N. Hanna,
James H. Johnson, W. K. Kember, J. E. Gooding, William B. Doner, J. A. Doner, W. J. Reichard, T. J. Godfrey, D.
S. Skinner, William F. McDaniel and A. G. Clark. The officers named at the time of the granting of the charter
were: T. J. Godfrey, W. M.; John S. Rhodes, S. W.; and James H. Johnson, J. W. The first elected officers, for
the year 1886, were: John S. Rhodes, W. M.; James H. Johnson, S. W.; and Isaac N. Hanna, J. W. Isaac N. Hanna was
worshipful master in 1887 and 1891; J. S. Clum, in 1888, 1889, 1890 and 1892; W. P. McDaniel, 1893; George A. Reuter,
from 1894 to 1905, inclusive; and William E. Wilson, in 1906. The present officers are as follows: B. B. Wilson,
W. M.; I. N. Medford, S. W.; James Ross, J. W.; Joshua Armstrong, treasurer; and C. A. Brown, secretary. The lodge
has a membership of 68. Wayne Chapter No. 111, Order of the Eastern Star, was instituted November 7, 1899, with
the following charter members E. L. McDaniel, Minnie McDaniel, O. E. Denny, Tillie Denny, Jennie Denny, Nora Fox,
John S. Rhodes, Jennie Rhodes, Kate Lowry, Fannie Whitesell, Elizabeth Heap, 011ie Clark, William E. Wilson, Ella
Wilson, Nora Taylor, Sallie Louden, Stella Wallingsford, S. E. Saunfman, Lillie Dumbauld, Jennie Rantz and Lizzie
Boesche. The following were the first officers: Tillie Denny, worthy matron; B. L. McDaniel, worthy patron; Nora
Fox, associate matron; Jennie Rhodes, secretary; Kate Lowry, treasurer; Minnie McDaniel, conductress; Fannie Whitesell,
associate conductress; Elizabeth Heap, chaplain; Ollie Clark and O. E. Denny, marshals; Ella Wilson, Ada; Jennie
Denny, Ruth; Nora. Taylor, Esther; Sallie Louden, Martha; Stella Wallingsford, Ejecta; S. E. Sauntman, warden;
and William E. Wilson, sentinel. The chapter has a present membership of 55. The officers for the year 1907 are
as follows: Jennie Denny, worthy matron; B. B. Wilson, worthy patron; Nora Taylor, associate matron; Verna McDaniel,
secretary; Lillie Dumbauld, treasurer; Annie Medford, conductress; Winnie Ross, associate conductress; Tillie Denny,
chaplain; Carrie Young, marshal; Zura Roop, Ada; Ella Wilson, Ruth; Jennie Rhodes, Esther; Ida Denny, Martha; Lizzie
Boesche, Electa; Ollie Clark, warden; and W. E. Wilson, sentinel.
Fort Recovery Lodge, No. 458, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was established in the '70's. The first officers
were Joseph Smith, N. G. J. S. Clum, V. G.; J. W. Blizzard, secretary; and William Snyder, treasurer. The lodge
has a present membership of 93. The officers for 7907 are as follows: Clarence Whitesell, N. G.; Harvey Engle,
V. G.; A. E. Gilbert, treasurer; Harley Brume, recording secretary; and Wesley Schemenaur, financial secretary.
Mystic Union Rebekah Lodge, No. 278, was organized in 7887 with the following charter members: Rusell M. Morvelius,
Minnie Morvelius, L. H. Boesche, Lizzie Boesche, James Thompson, Susie Thompson, John Hedrick, Elizabeth Hedrick,
Mary Hedrick, J. P. Dearworth, Abbe Dearworth, Zora Hanna, R. H. Campbell, Lydia Campbell, Sarah J. Rhodes, W.
H. Robins, Emily Robins, Sam. W. Buck, Emma Buck, Charles H. Lord, Emma Lord, Alonzo Ford, Sol. McGriff and William
L. Lundy. The lodge has 58 members at the present time. The following are the officers for 7907: Ida Howard, N.
G.; Pearl Stoner, V. G.; Elma Rapp, secretary; and Ada Reef, treasurer.
Harrod McDaniel Post, No. 781, Grand Army of the Republic, was organized December 26, 1881, with the following
members: Isaac N. Hanna, John S. Rhodes, George Hedrick, George R. McDaniel, John Jones, Theodore Scheid, James
H. Johnson, Samuel A. Nickerson, J. C. Clum, John Slife, George Lipps, Eli Frazee, John McFarland, H. H. Harrison,
J. E. McDaniel, J. H. Adams, Sam. W. Buck, James Jenkins, William Denny, W. F. McDaniel, I. W. Isenhart, W. W.
Collins, W. I. Latimer, C. P. Dearworth and I. N. O'Neal. The first commander of the post was Capt. John S. Rhodes.
The officers at the present time are: I. N. Medford, commander; Fred Holl, senior vice commander; Theodore Scheid,
junior vice commander; Eli T. Hastings, adjutant; Daniel Kessler, quartermaster; O. S. Greene, chaplain; Frank
Bushard, officer of the day; and Fred Heiss, officer of the guard. The post has 24 members.
* * *
The worst disaster that ever befell a community in Mercer County occurred at Fort Recovery at 17 o'clock A.
M., on Wednesday, October 17, 1906, when a terrific explosion in the rear of Joseph A. Meinerding's hardware store
caused the death of five persons, brought injuries to scores of others and inflicted a property loss of approximately
$50,000. Just after the parade of the annual horse show, then being held here, took place, the whole town was shaken
by a deafening explosion, which entirely wrecked the two story building occupied by Joseph A. Meinerding as a hardware
store, the Journal printing office, the Roop blacksmith shop and a dwelling in the rear of the Opera House. The
wreckage soon caught fire and for a time it looked as though the entire business section would be destroyed. Only
by the hardest work and with the assistance furnished from Portland, Indiana, and Coldwater were the flames subdued.
The fire damaged the Schneider and Setter buildings, the Lowry livery stable, the bank building, the B. W. Roop
dwelling and other surrounding property. All the glass in the business blocks, as well as in nearby dwellings,
was smashed, and not a single window in the Catholic Church, two blocks away, remained unbroken. Five victims of
the explosion were killed outright or died before evening, namely: Miss Cleo Weis, Henry Lammers, Joseph Rosener,
Charles Wagner and John McMillan; the first four were employed in the hardware store and the last named, a farmer,
of Monterey, was in the store with his wife, making purchases; Mrs. McMillan miraculously escaped very serious
injury. A dozen or 15 received serious injuries, and many more were slightly injured or had narrow escapes. While
a quantity of explosives, including 15 to 20 pounds of dynamite, was stored in the rear room of the store, it is
not thought that the dynamite caused the explosion, as its force was upward instead of downward. It may have resulted
from the formation of gas somewhere about the rear of the store. The funerals of the victims were held on Friday,
October 19th, when all places of business were closed, the day being given over to mourning. Four views of the
disaster are shown in this book.