Marking our path through history

Drive south on River Road from Mason Road and you'll see an orange boulder with a plaque attached to it. The plaque,
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010


Drive south on River Road from Mason Road and you'll see an orange boulder with a plaque attached to it.

The plaque, put up in 1930 by the Martha Pitkin Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, marks the site of Avery, the first county seat of Huron County -- before Erie County split off from Huron County in 1838.

Nearby was a fort, Camp Avery, established in 1811 to protect early settlers from the British and Indians.

On either side of the boulder are headstones for two soldiers -- one a Revolutionary War veteran and the other a member of the Huron Rangers in the War of 1812.

The site is one of the most interesting historical markers mentioned in the "Erie County Historic Markers Travel Guide and Directory," a new pamphlet published by the Erie County Historical Society.

Copies of the pamphlet are available at the Sandusky Library and at other places frequented by tourists and history buffs, such as the visitor's bureau and local museums, said Janet Senne, president of the historical society.

"We're going to distribute them all around the county," she said.

IdaBelle Teasel, a Port Clinton resident who is secretary-treasurer of the historical society, did most of the work on the pamphlet, assisted by Senne.

Teasel said she pored through minutes of the historical society, researched state markers on the Ohio Historical Society Web site, talked to people and drove around in her car to look at locations.

The result is a pamphlet that lists 42 locations for historical markers.

Many of those 42 sites have more than one marker. Downtown Sandusky is awash in historical markers. One location alone, Battery Park, has three transportation-related markers: One about early aviators, one for shipbuilding in Sandusky and one for the first railroad in the area.

The county has markers apparently overlooked by the pamphlet. Second Baptist Church, 315 Decatur St., Sandusky, has a marker noting the church was founded by ex-slaves in 1849 and became a center of resistance to slavery. The marker isn't listed in the pamphlet.

Teasel said the pamphlet generally concentrates on markers put up by historical societies.

"It's probably one that they did themselves," she said, referring to the Second Baptist marker.

The same company makes the markers put up by the state historical society and the county society. State markers, though, are in the shape of Ohio, while county markers are shaped like Erie County, Teasel said.

Many different organizations have put up markers.

For example, the Sandusky Register put up a marker in 1953, the Ohio Sesquicentennial, in Washington Park in downtown Sandusky to give visitors a brief history of Sandusky. Among other points, the marker notes Sandusky is on the site of the early Indian village of Ogontz, was named Portland when it was platted as a town in 1816, and adopted the Sandusky name (from the Indian name "San Dus Tee") in 1818.

Military history buffs have several markers they can visit.

Besides the Camp Avery marker, they can look at the marker for the Jay Cooke birthplace at the intersection of Columbus and Market streets (remembering the businessman who served as the financier for the Civil War) and the Fort Sandusky marker in west Sandusky on Ohio 6 near Ohio 2.

The Fort Sandusky marker, erected in 1979 as a joint venture of the state and county historical societies, says the fort was "erected by the British near this junction in 1761."

"Near" may be a relative term. The Wikipedia entry for Fort Sandusky says the fort "has been variously given as being in present Ottawa County, Sandusky County and Erie County."

The Wikipedia entry says the fort was taken May 16, 1763, by Wyandot Indians who killed the 15-man garrison and took the commander captive. They also killed a "number of British traders," it says. The Ohio History Central Web site, though, says Ottawa Indians captured the fort and killed the garrison.

The historical marker omits most of the bloody details, saying only that the fort was "destroyed during Pontiac's Conspiracy of 1763."

New historical markers continue to be erected in Erie County.

For example, a marker will be put up in west Sandusky this summer marking the early community of Venice, Senne said.

"Venice was a bigger town than Sandusky originally," she said. "It was the earliest settlement."