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Rebecca Rouse ~  Ohio


Among the settlers to remove from New England, in 1788, to Ohio, we find the names of John Rouse and Jonathan Duvall. John Rouse's family consisted of a wife and eight children. Mrs. Duvall was the sister of Mrs. Rouse, and he was the "noble architect of the Mayflower," which conveyed the first detachment from Simrels Ferry, on the Yohoghany to the mouth of Muskingum and was among the first settlers to land on the 7th of April, 1788, in the state of Ohio.

The large covered wagons which the settlers used in those days for conveying their families across the country were called schooners and frequently received nautical names. Teams of oxen were frequently preferred to horses by these New England emigrants and pioneers, they being more familiar with their use and, too, they were less likely to be captured by the Indians, as, owing to the slowness of their gait they were not considered desirable possessions by these warrior inhabitants. Thus outfitted, this little band of emigrants made their way from New England through New York, Pennsylvania, and over the mountain ranges to Ohio. As they approached the mountains the rains of November had set in and their progress was filled with the greatest difficulties and hardships particularly to the women and children, who were obliged to walk most of the way over the rocky and steep ascent of the mountain roads. Near the last of November when they reached the point where the Monongahela and the Alleghany meet in the waters of the Ohio, they rested after their terrible struggles through the mountains. The old garrison Fort Pitt was then standing as a protection to the few hundred inhabitants. While their boats in which they had come down the Monongahela were moored the waters rose, and the men rushing to the rescue, the entire party was carried down the river to a point called Fort Mackintosh at the mouth of the Beaver and to the new settlement at Muskingum. Here they embarked for a place known as Buffalo, to which point some of their friends from the East had preceded them.

The following spring a company was formed and a settlement established on the Ohio River called Belpre, and here Captain Duvall, Mr. Rouse, and several other settlers, joined by many from New England, moved their families. In 1790, Bathsheba Rouse opened a school for boys and girls at Belpre, which is believed to be the first school for white children in the state of Ohio. Bathsheba Rouse married Richard Greene, the son of Grifiin Greene, one of the Ohio Company's agents. Cynthia Rouse became the wife of Hon. Paul Fearing, the first delegate to Congress from the Northwest Territory and for many years a judge of the court. Levi Barber, a receiver of public moneys and a member of Congress for two sessions, was the husband of Elizabeth Rouse.

These early settlers were the founders of the state of Ohio. Many of these settlers of the Northwest Territory were men in the prime of life who had exhausted their fortunes in the War of Independence, and being left in the most impoverished condition, had chosen to seek their fortunes in the new country west of the Alleghenies. Many of the young men were the descendants of the Revolutionary patriots who had given their lives for their country. The Moravian school at Bethlehem at this time enjoyed quite a reputation.

We find among these early settlers one Colonel Ebenezer Sproat who had been a distinguished officer of the Revolution. His daughter, Sarah W. Sproat, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on the 28th of January, 1782. Her grandfather was Commodore Abram Whipple, also a distinguished hero of that war, who impoverished himself for his country in fitting out vessels and men for its service. His son-in-law and he, finding their necessities great, joined the emigrants to the new settlement near Marietta. When but ten years of age. Miss Sproat was sent to Bethlehem school, and after three years to Philadelphia to complete her education. In 1797, her father went to Philadelphia to bring her home and brought with them a piano, the first taken west of the Alleghany Mountains. After the establishment of the Northwest Territory, they had what was called a general court, which met alternately at Cincinnati, Detroit, and Marietta.

Among the young lawyers practicing before this court was one Mr. Sibley who had come from Massachusetts to Ohio in 1787, and resided at that time in Detroit. While attending one of the sessions of this court, he met Miss Sproat. Their friendship ripening into love, they were married in October, 1802. At that time the route from Marietta to Detroit was by way of the Ohio River to Pittsburgh, thence to Erie and across the lake to Detroit. This city was largely settled by Southerners and many French who were the descendants of noble families in France, making at that time a society of much refinement and polish.

Colonel Sproat was one of the most distinguished men of that section of the country, and the family have in their possession a miniature of him painted by Kosciuszko, the distinguished Pole and himself having been intimate friends in the Revolution. In February, 1805, Colonel Sproat died, and in June of that year the city of Detroit was entirely destroyed by fire. Mrs. Sibley had been spending the winter with her father and mother, owing to his failing health. Colonel Sibley fitted up as soon as possible a very large old house which was then situated some distance from the town, now the very center of the city opposite the Biddle house, and here they made their home for many years. At the time of the war of 1812, Mrs. Sibley bore herself with great courage and rendered great assistance, making cartridges and scraping lint for the wounded. At the time of the news of the surrender the humiliation felt by these courageous women was shown by an incident of which Mrs. Dyson, a cousin of Mrs. Sibley, was the heroine.

As the American soldiers marched out of the fort, Mrs. Dyson took all the clothing and belongings, tied them up in a bundle, and threw them out of the window, declaring that the British should not have them. Mrs. Sibley applied to General Proctor after the surrender for permission to go to her family in Ohio, and this was finally granted her, and in the spring when Detroit was again given up to the Americans, she returned to her home. On the death of her grandparents. Commodore and Mrs. Whipple, in 1819, Mrs. Sproat was left entirely alone, so Mrs. Sibley made the journey to Marietta most of the way on horseback to remove her mother to Detroit, where she remained until her death in 1832.

Mrs. Sibley's husband, Solomon Sibley, was one of the judges of the Supreme Court of the early territory of Michigan, and on his removal to Detroit he was made one of the first members of the territorial legislature. He was also United States commissioner and helped General Cass to negotiate the treaty with the Indians in which they surrendered a large portion of the peninsula of Michigan. He was a delegate from the territory of Michigan in Congress, District Attorney of the United States, and Judge of the Supreme Court of Michigan. He died on April 4, 1846, one of the most highly respected citizens of Detroit.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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