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.


 

Grand Rapids, Ohio

 

 

 

Bridge to what is now

called Grand Rapids, OH,

a town that  was settled

in 1822 and known as

Gilead, Ohio.

 

 


Grand Rapids, Ohio

 Railroad Bridge

 

 

 

Just across the railroad bridge  over the Maumee River into Grand Rapids you see the Howard Cemetery. , on your left.

 

 

 


Howard Cemetery

click on picture to zoom in

Buried there are members

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 cemetery


Dresden Winfield Huston Howard

Click her for additional picture of the Howard House

 

Underground Railroad

Perhaps 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 Railroad

 

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 Road's activity.

 

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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