Raymond Welsh, Historian, Musician, Timekeeper, Poet, Dedicated Conneaut Citizen

When Raymond Welsh was Young and Old and Contributing to Conneaut

Raymond Welsh, Historian

When Conneaut was Young

The Mail

Twice a day the mail carrier passes the home of Betsy and Jack with his sack of letters, magazines and parcels.  I am wondering if the youngsters knew how differently mail was carried in the early part of the 19th century, so he decided to tell them about the development of the postal service here.

For a few years after Conneaut was settled, there were n0mail deliveries to this part of the county. It was not until 1803 that the first mail route was established, and this did not include delivery to Conneaut. It was five years later, in 1808, that Conneaut was given its first postal service.

How pleased the pioneers were with this service. The mail was carried on foot for several years until a carrier was hired to carry the mail from Ashtabula to Buffalo on horseback. In fair weather he made the round trip in twelve days, and in rainy, muddy weather it took fourteen days.

In spite of the poor roads, the early mail carriers managed to make their trips regularly, arriving at the various stations along the route with remarkable punctuality, although there were times that they had to swim the creeks to get the mail through on time.

In 1817, a change was made to carry the mail by stagecoach and Conneaut then received two mails a day, one from the east and one from the west. This service continued until 1852, when the railroads took over carrying the mail.

On October 12, 1929, the airport north of east Conneaut was dedicated and the first airmail was carried out of Conneaut by airplane.  On April 25, 1932, the new post office was dedicated at the corner of State and Broad Streets.

When Conneaut was Young

Indians and Early Settlers

At last Betsy and Jack were through with their evening work and they rushed in to see if Uncle Lem was ready to give them another story of the days when the pioneers first came to Western Reserve. Sure enough, the old man was seated in bis easy chair beside the fireplace waiting for his evening audience of two.

“One day 70 years ago, an old settler told me what the first white setters had found when they arrived in Conneaut after their long hard journey from the east.  I wounder if you’d like to hear about it. All right, then., I’ll tell you what that man told me long years ago when I was just a small boy.  

Where the business section of our town is now located, the first white men found a small village of Massasauga Indians. The word Massasauga means” mouth of a great river.” Their chief’s name was Macqua Medah which is an Indian word meaning “Bear Oil.” These Indians had built between 30 and 40 rude cabins in which they were living when the white men arrived. These cabins were roughly put together and were made of logs with large chunks of bark for roofs.

Chief Bear Oil came to the white men one day and ordered them to keep off a certain spot of ground under penalty of being scalped. The whites were curious to know why they were forbidden to walk on this particular piece of ground and were informed that it was the place where the Chief’s mother was buried. It was these Massasauga Indians that were found living here in the spring of 1798 when Aaron Wright, Levi and John Montgomery, Nathan and John King, Robert Montgomery and Samuel Bemis, the first permanent white settlers arrived.

One day there came to this white settlement which had been built along Conneaut Creek, a man named Williams who sold a rifle to one of the Indians. Williams was to receive in payment a certain number of pelts and had agreed to wait until the Indian could collect them. After making the bargain with the young red man, Williams changed his mind, returned to the Massasauga village and without the consent of the Indians, took the gun from the young hunter who prized it highly and who had intended to fulfill his part of the agreement. When the rifle was taken away from him in such an unfair manner, the Massasaugan  became very angry with the white man, and one day when Williams was passing along the trail west of the village,  the young Indian murdered him.

A white officer and a few guards from Presque Isle (Erie) came to Chief Bear Oil soon after and demanded that the Chief turn the murderer over to them for punishment. The old Indian refused to do so, and the officer and his men returned to their quarters for more guards as their party was far outnumbered ty the Indians of the village.

After the white men had departed, Chief Bear Oil and his tribe launched their canoes and paddled up Lake Erie to a place where the City of Sandusky now stands. When the officers returned from Presque Isle, they found the Indian village deserted. The Massasauga left Sandusky not long afterward and settled along the Wabash River in Indiana, never returning to their village on Conneaut Creek where they had lived in peace until the arrival of the white men.

(More “When Conneaut Was Young,” features and poems and music by Raymond Walsh to follow.)

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