The latest command of the fort was Major Jonathan CASS, who was born in the year 1753, about fifteen miles from Newburyport, New Hampshire. His ancestors were from Devonshire, England. His remote ancestors were of Norman birth. He was living in Exeter, New Hampshire, when the news reached there of the battle of Lexington. With some half dozen comrades he set off at once, musket in hand, to join the army, marching from his home to Cambridge. He was where the balls flew thickest at the battle of Bunker Hill, and participated in the great battles of Trenton, Princeton, Germantown, Monmouth, and Saratoga, remaining in the army until the close of our great Revolutionary struggle. His accounts as brigade quartermaster were closed June 26, 1783, and a certificate was issued to him for the ballance due of 65 pounds 10s. 4d. Whether the government ever paid this certificate or not, is not now known. It is stated in Appleton's Cyclopedia, under article "Lewis CASS," that Major CASS retired to a 4000 acre tract of land in Muskingum County, Ohio, given to him by the government for services in the Revolutionary army. This is a mistake. He never received an acre of land for his services nor a dollar of pension money, although he died from injuries received while in the discharge of his duties in the public service. After the close of the war he resigned his commission and engaged successfully in the West India trade, living with his famiy at Exeter, New Hampshire. About the close of the year 1781 he married Miss Mary GILMAN, daughter of Nicholas GILMAN. Of this union, three sons and two daughters were born, all at Exeter. The oldest son was General Lewis CASS, and the youngest, Captain Charles Lee CASS, a brave officer of the "War of 1812," distinguishing himself at the battle (sortie) of Fort Erie. All of the children became citizens of Ohio, the last survivor (George W.) reaching the green old age of 87, in 1873.

 

When the regular army was increased, after the defeat of General St.CLAIR, General KNOX, then Secretary of War, sent to Mr. Jonathan CASS, then a private citizen, a commission as major in the army. This commission was wholly unexpected and unsolicited, but was given by General KNOX in recognition of long and faithful military service and soldierly character and bearing of one whom he knew personally. The personal presence of Major CASS was most striking and commanding; he had the look of one born to command. In height he was nearly or quite six feet, of perfect form, without superfluous flesh, black hair and piercing black eyes, and commanding brow. He joined his command at Winchester, VA, taking his family with him, excepting his oldest son, Lewis, who was left at Exeter, that he might continue his studies at "Phillips Academy." From Winchester he was ordered to take command at Fort Franklin, on the Alleghany River, in PA, north of Pittsburg. His route to his new command was via Fort Cumberland, and across the Alleghany Mountains, and along "Braddock's road" to Pittsburg, and thence up the Alleghany River in barges. From Fort Franklin he was ordered to Fort Washington (Cincinnati), to which point he went about the Fall of 1793, taking his family with him excepting son Lewis, who still remained at "Phillips Exeter Academy." He remained in command at Fort Washington nearly all the time that he was with the army of General WAYNE. In 1794 and 1795 he was at Fort Hamilton. While in charge of a rconnoitering part, his horse, in jumping over the trunk of a prostrate tree, fell, and in coming down fell upon and broke one of Major CASS's legs below the knee. In consequence of bad surgery, the wounded leg never healed, and required daily dressing for about 35 years, and was painful all that period. It finally caused premature death, at the age of 77. His widow followed about 5 years later. In consequence of this injury, he was for a time so disabled from military duty that he was granted a leave of absence, and went with his family to Exeter, New Hampshire, traveling by a northern route. He went from Cincinnati to Detroit via Fort Wayne, Indiana (then "Block House No. 10"), descending the river from Fort Wayne to Lake Erie, and coasting thence to Detroit. From Detroit he went by boat to Oswego, and thence to Albany; from Albany to Boston. This was in the year 1795 or 1796. In the year 1799 he was so far relieved from suffering that he applied for "orders," and was sent to Wilmington, Delaware, but was soon after ordered to the command at Winchester, VA, at that time a principal recruiting station.

 

In the year 1800 he tendered his resignation as an officer of the army. The Secretary of War accepted it, to take effect at the end of the year. In the meantime he was granted a "leave of absence" to the date hsi resignation was accepted.

 

The choice of the 4000 acre tracts of land in the United States military district in Ohio (west of the Ohio River, east of the Scioto, north of latitude 40 degrees, and south of the Greenville treaty line), was decided by a lottery, drawn in Philadelphia in 1799 while Major CASS was stationed at Wilmington, Delaware. He drew No. 1. He commissioned Bazaleel WELLS, surveyor, of Steubenville, Ohio, to make a selection for him, and the latter chose the section at the mouth of Walkatomaka Creek, on the Muskingum River, 15 miles due north of Zanesville, Ohio, and for his services received 400 acres off of the north-west cornerof the section selected. No. 2 was drawn by Thomas BACKUS, who "located" the section at the mouth of Whetstone Creek, above Columbus, on the Scioto.

 

As soon as Major CASS received his "leave of absence" he proceeded with his family (excepting his oldest son, Lewis, who was left in Wilmington, Delaware, in charge of a Latin grammar school) to take possession of his purchase of lands in Ohio. The warrants which were given in payment of those lands were purchased in the open market in Philadelphia. He came West by way of Cumberland and Pittsburg, stopping long enough at the last named place to make purchases of furniture, farm implements, supplies, etc., for his new home. He descended the Ohio River to Marietta in a "broad-horn" boat. At Marietta he transferred his family and effects into large canoes, called pirogues, and thus ascended the Muskingum River about 100 miles, disembarking on his own lands. On arriving there he found several families from Maryland and Western Virginia living on the ground, each having a few acres in cultivation. On this farm Major CASS lived the remainder of his days, which terminated in September, 1830, in the 76th year of his age. As before stated, his death was premature, having been caused by 35 years of suffering, occasioned by an injury in the military service of his country.

 

A History and Biographical Cyclopaedia of Butler County Ohio, With Illustrations and Sketches of its Representative Men and Pioneers Cincinnati Ohio. Western Biographical Publishing Company, 1882.