Disclaimer: In this article there are some sections done by myself that are both creative and imaginative. I understand some readers may not be interested in this type of writing and are just interested in knowing the story as it’s told by history. In order to identify the parts that are both creative and imaginative I have placed block quotes and italicized the dialogue within that blockquote. In direct quotes from historic sources I will bold the letters only. This I hope will allow those disinterested in creative writing, an opportunity to skip over these imaginative parts. Thank you all for reading. 🙂
“My creative writing will look like this in dialogue. ” And this outside of dialogue.
“Direct Quotes taken from historic sources will look like this. “
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The Epic Sarchet Family Voyage!
Living on Guernsey Island
It’s the summer of 1806. Just three years have passed since news came of the Louisiana Purchase. Lewis and Clark are in the midst of their famous expedition and have yet to report back to Congress and President Jefferson. Meanwhile on the other side of the world off the coast of Normandy, tucked away in the English Channel between France and England–two superpowers and bitter enemies–sits a tiny little island composed of people who speak both English and Norman French.
Great Britain and France are typically at war with each other and the red coats have decided to use this little island as a base for their military. Much like they did prior to the American Revolution, the British regulars decide to quarter and tax the people of the island to help pay for their supposed protection. Among the regular folks of this European island are four brothers named Thomas, John, Nicholas, and Peter Sarchet. Having heard in the news of Napoleon Bonaparte’s decision to sell off all French assets to the United States the four siblings must have spoke in great detail of the opportunities opening up for pioneers in what has been described by many as the”New World.”
Let’s imagine for a moment:
After a fall day harvesting crops Thomas, John, Nicholas, and Peter are sitting at a table in the evening. The aroma of a meal cooked by their tough talented wives hovers and wafts in the air. The vegetables come from their farm, the meat from local cattle, and it’s all made fully from scratch. The sounds of children running, jumping, and playing fill the background. Thomas the outspoken one of the group releases his frustration in a conversation with his brothers.
He is becoming more and more aggravated by the presence of the British Military. He says (in French of course), “I am so sick and tired of these red coats occupying our land as if they own it!”
“And the taxes!” John is quick to agree, “As if we need them to protect us against an invisible invading army! It is not enough to come here and force themselves into our home, they must take our money as well?”
“What of this New World though? Nicholas brings up the news of the Louisiana Purchase, People have been migrating there for hundreds of years now, and with their open doors, expanding territory and great quality of life is this not the answer to our problems?”
“Nicholas, do you not know of how much such a voyage would cost? Peter is a bit reluctant, “Do you not realize we would have to sell off and risk everything to make such a voyage?”
“But Peter we could do this! If we all sell our assets, the land, the cattle, the crops, and put together the gold we have saved; we could afford to make this journey and buy land where it is cheapest in the world. Thomas continues in a very assertive, inspiring tone, “If we use your skills as a carpenter, John’s experience as a blacksmith; I could get Nicholas to help me on a farm… How could lose? We could transform the wilderness into a home! He slams his hand on the table and says, “We could forever change the lives of our children and their children, giving them a chance to live and prosper in a land where tyranny has been defeated and the people govern themselves!”
After John’s inspiring speech the four brothers decide at the end of winter sometime next spring they will set sail for the United States of America aiming for a growing pioneer city with many opportunities called Cincinnati.
The Journey Begins!
The spring of 1806 arrives; the four brothers, their wives, sons, and daughters–along with the extended Sarchet family (aunts, uncles, cousins etc.)–all decide they are ready for this great voyage and need to commission a sea-captain. In what would seem natural they hire an experienced sailor named William McCrindell for their trip. William is a distant relative–he is Peter’s son-in-law–so they are more comfortable with this decision than they would be with a complete stranger. They feel secure trusting William and his ship “Eliza” to get them to the United States safely. The excitement was somewhat spoiled when “Eliza” floats her way into the dock. As grandson and namesake of Peter, Colonel C.P.B. Sarchet describes Eliza a century later in his book, “History of Guernsey County” he calls the ship a “frail bark”, “not fitted for ocean service.” The idea of landing in America must have gave the people great feelings of inspiration as they made provisions, packed up their belongings and loaded them all onto the dilapidated ship.
The adventure had begun, people playing checkers, mothers reading stories of the Bible, a great view surrounded by water. A couple weeks go bye of good sailing, the wind is carrying them from Europe to the New World as it has millions of others since the days of Christopher Columbus. Everything is good until one day they awake and the ship is not moving. It seems as if the wind has stopped. A stretch of eight days goes by in the middle of the ocean without any waves or wind to push them. People on board must have begun worrying, the thought of running out of food and having to fish desperately in a vast ocean, thoughts of being left on a floating ship to die must have crossed their minds. The situation become so disturbing William McCrindell made orders to tack the sails all the way around the ship so that a breeze from any direction might be caught to move the ship.
Meanwhile, William stereo-typically plays the part of sailor; it seems as if the more dire the situation becomes the more rum William drinks. Finally, the sea came to life, wind and waves begun pushing them in the right direction again. However, it did not take long for them to realize they were being pulled and pushed into a storm. When the rain begins to pour, the people take cover in the middle deck where they find their sea-captain had drank himself delirious. By this time the ship was moving in the wrong direction and the man that was supposed to point it in the right direction had rendered himself incapable of walking and talking correctly; let alone steering a sail ship across thousands and thousands of miles. A meeting was called in the forecastle between the crew and the men of the family. It was decided they would ask him to give up his command of the vessel. Wanting to prove himself worthy of the job he was entrusted and paid to do, he refused to do this; but it was becoming more and more apparent they were headed the wrong way. A second meeting was made and it was decided they would physically overwhelm William, handcuff and chain him to his cabin.
I imagine it going down something like this:
The rain is clamoring down on top the ship above the passengers. On the upper deck there is the sight of waves crashing against one another, the sound of thunder cracking the skies with no echo, while William McCrindell is stumbling around wonderlessly with a rum bottle in his hand, he is screaming incoherent commands at people that do not exist. Most passengers are huddled in the middle deck where the family bunks are located. Some mothers are singing lullabies, others are eating their daily ration of salt-pork and biscuits. The mothers that have infants can be seen feeding them oatmeal. The young children are napping and the older ones bickering over playing cards. In the forecastle–the living quarters for the crew–you find a group of men, some standing some sitting, having a seemingly long-faced conversation. It is the second of it’s kind in just 24 hours.
One man says, “He has gotten completely out of control!” Another man says, “We must take over this ship, we are headed in the wrong direction!” A couple men nod their heads in accord. Peter Sarchet tries to defend his son-in-law in a defenseless debate, “Maybe we shall wait another day to see if he is more sober and agreeable tomorrow?” Thomas quickly snaps at his younger brother, “We already tried that Peter… He is not getting sober.” John, having had some experience as a sailor, volunteers–along with a shipmate from the crew–to command the vessel the rest of the way, after the remainder of the men catch William, drag him to the captain’s chamber and handcuff him there.
The men go up to the top deck where they find William soaking wet from the storm. The small group of men run toward him at once, overwhelming him in a way that he cannot fight back. William slurs at them, “Youuuu know what all yaaa’s problem issss? When yun’s wake up in da morning dats da bessst yun’s areee gunna feel allllllll daaay looong, but me? Nope! I feeel bettter as da daaay goooess onnn! You’s all jealous!” He continues his rant, “I told you’s we’re headdded in the rriiight directtion, but you’s donnn’t wanna belieeve mee.”
Then, the men drag him down the stairs to the middle deck, past all the chatter going on in the family bunks, and finally into the captain’s cabin where they handcuff and chain him in a way he can no longer fight for control of the ship. The children, who were traumatized with fear from the entire debacle, now, feel at ease again.
After they get the captain settled in and calmed down, it’s decided John and a shipmate will do as they volunteered and sail the ship to their target of Virginia. John and his partner are able to safely direct the ship out of the storm into nice weather. From here on out the voyage is smooth sailing and after many days the passengers and crew finally see land.
Reaching the United States of America!
Imagine the relief of the people who had hitherto: overcome getting stuck in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with no wind and waves, they had subdued a drunk captain, and they rode out a long dreadful storm. Imagine the relief they had felt and the emotions flowing through them when they seen land after being on a “frail bark, not fit for service” for two whole months. They had finally reached Norfolk, Virginia. The ship docks, they uncuff and unchain the captain and set him free; they presumably do a lot of stretching no different than we do in modern times when we stop alongside rest stops on a road trip. After getting a short break from the ship, they re-board quickly and make their way up the Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore, Maryland. Many must have felt the difficult part of the journey was done, but they would have been mistaken.
When they reach Baltimore everyone comes off the ship as they have conquered the sailing leg of the adventure. They take some of the savings they brought with them and buy horses, wagons, and other necessary provisions to begin their long land journey through the Appalachian Mountains to Cincinnati. It is Monday, June 16th, 1806 when they reach Maryland and the day must have been a sight to behold as it just so happen that the sun was in total eclipse with the moon. (Colonel C.P.B. Sarchet cites the date as the 14th but this is incorrect, as multiple sources–including NASA–show the famous event known as Tecumseh’s Eclipse happened on the 16th of 1806 not the 14th) Here it was the middle of the day and as they made their way up Howard Street in Baltimore, the town was so dark they had a man go around and light all the street lamps. As they passed houses and businesses they could see where people inside had lit candles as if it were the evening and the sun setting. The Sarchet Family left Baltimore heading for the Old Braddock Road.
Colonel C.P.B. Sarchet describes the event in his book, “History of Guernsey County.”
“Horses and wagons and provisions were procured, and at midday they passed up Howard street, on the
14th(16th) of June, 1806, the sun being in total eclipse and the town in partial darkness, lamps lighted on the streets and candles burning in the houses and places of business.”
Amazing to think that on the same exact day the Sarchet family landed in Baltimore, Lewis and Clark were in the Rocky Mountains well into their return to St.Louis where they were to meet President Jefferson with their reports. Literally, the exact same day the Sarchet family was in Baltimore experiencing an eclipse on their journey, Lewis and Clark were 2,250 miles away in the Rockies fighting falling timber and snow on what’s called the Lolo trail.
Meriwether Lewis Monday June 16th 1806
“We collected our horses very readily this morning, took breakfast and set out at 6 A. M.; proceeded up the creek about 2 miles through some handsom(e) meadows of fine grass abounding with quawmash, here we passed the creek  & ascended a ridge which led us to the N. E. about seven miles when we arrived at a small branch of hungry creek.  the difficulty we met with from the fallen timber detained us untill 11 oC before we reached this place.”
William Clark Monday June 16th 1806
“Collected our horses early and Set out 7 A M proceeded on up the Creek through a gladey Swompy bottom with grass and quawmash Crossed the Creek to the East and proceeded on through most intolerable bad fallen timber over a high Mountain on which great quantity of Snow is yet lying premisquissly through the thick wood, and in maney (many) places the banks of snow is 4 feet deep.”
Flashback to 1755
The Old Braddock Road was an Indian path that just fifty years earlier was made into a road by Major George Washington for the the Ohio Company and the British Military. The Ohio Company was a group of investors that attempted to petition the British King and add Ohio as a colony before the War for Independence. It was thought by the Ohio Company–who Washington and many of his peers were a part of–that the French had begun infringing on land they intended to make into a 14th colony. In 1754, George Washington was sent to a French outpost called Fort Duquesne, later renamed Pittsburgh. His mission was to tell the French they must leave at once as they were getting too close to the American Colonies. After the twenty-one year old Washington and his men failed and were chased out of the area by French and Indian fighters, the British crown decided they would need to send a more experienced General to evacuate the French. The following year in 1755 General Edward Braddock was sent to finish what Washington started, the old Indian path was the last road Braddock would ever travel on alive as he was killed in the conflict. This subsequently escalated into the French and Indian War. Washington gained fame and notoriety throughout the Thirteen Colonies and England when he published his own account of the event, despite having failed to accomplish his mission. This fame and notoriety is thought to have positioned him for the appointment of General of the Continental Army. The Old Braddock road would later give direction for the National Road and U.S. route 40.
Over the Mountains and Through the Woods!
Fast forward fifty years and here is the Sarchet Family traveling towards Pittsburgh and camping alongside the same path that Washington carved a reputation on as a young British Major. As they were passing through the Allegheny part of the Appalachian Mountains, the group come across a young woman sitting alongside the road in ragged clothes crying. When they asked the fourteen or fifteen year old girl what was the matter with her, she responded by saying she had no home or family. She told the group she had run away from a Catholic school somewhere in Pennsylvania and now had nowhere to go. Of course with the rise in Protestantism from the first Great Awakening the century before, and the United States having the perfect constitution for Christians who want to interpret the bible freely, it’s fair to think the Sarchets felt a great deal of sympathy for her concerning her running from the Catholics, a religion etched in orthodox and power. The family felt sorrow and compassion for the young girls apparent suffering and misfortune and they chose to offer her a place on one of their wagons. Her name was Betty Pallet. Remember that name.
The group made their way through the mountains in constant rains and storms until they finally got to Pittsburgh. Here they gave up the wagons and jumped on boats making their way down the Ohio River towards Wheeling, Virginia where they set up camp. When they reached Wheeling they were happy to see the sun was finally shining again.
Col. C.P.B. Sarchet describes this moment in his family history in the book “History of Guernsey County, Ohio.”
They were rejoiced to see the sun shining once more. Now, amid the sunshine, the women began to wash their soiled clothing. If there was any one thing that a Guernsey Woman despised more than another it was dirt. They opened their boxes and dried and aired the contents. They seemed to feel that a new life was before them, and they sang around their campfires the melodies of their far-awav island home. The men and boys of the party assisted the farmers on the Wheeling creek valley to dry out their damaged wheat and get it into ricks and to harvest their oats, much of which had to be cut with a sickle. From the creek valley Thomas Sarchet, on horseback, followed the Zane Trace west as far as Chillicothe. On his return to the camp, preparation was made for their further journey. Their horses were well rested, and had fared finely on the wild pea vines and the rich wild grasses of the valley. When all was in readiness for the start, the horses soon showed that they would rather browse on the Wheeling creek bottoms than haul wagons. In order to get up Wheeling hill, they had to hire an extra team to help.
According to William G. Wolfe’s, “Stories of Guernsey County, Ohio” the group’s goal was to settle somewhere around Cincinnati. It is unknown why they chose to take Zane’s Trace from Wheeling instead of just continuing down the Ohio River via boats. My best guess is that taking boats was either more expensive than horses, they could find no one to purchase the horses they obtained, or there were simply not enough boats or a large enough boat to accommodate an entourage the size of the Sarchet family.
As fate would have it, they got provisions and made their way up Wheeling Hill and then onto Zane’s Trace they went. The rain and the storms proved a difficult obstacle to overcome for the group; as they traveled they were constantly fighting overblown trees on their path. As a result, they ditched most of the wagons and decided they would use packhorses as much as possible, limiting the number of tree’s they had to move to pass a wagon through Zane’s trace. At the end of day they had made it to “Newellstown” which we now know as “St. Clairsville.”
Here there was a tavern ordinarily named “Newell’s Tavern.” On such a journey, anytime you came across a tidbit of civilization it would have been wise to take full advantage. Here they were able to stay the night and when they awoke the next day they were met with a familiar friend outside the windows of the tavern, the rain. Having been exhausted and tired of traveling in the rain they remained at the tavern for another day. In hindsight, this is a decision I’m sure the women played a key role in making. This gave them plenty time to hire another team of four horses and a wagon. The next morning they packed up their stuff and on Zane’s Trace they continued. Not having the luxuries we have today when we stop at a motel, like a local weather forecast on the nightly news, they were discouraged when yet another violent storm impeded their going further. This storm was bad, the wind swept heavily through the forest, the lighting lit up the skies, and the thunder drummed with echoes through the wilderness. The rain showered so heavily an upcoming creek had risen too high for them to pass; so once again the group had no choice but to set up camp until the creek lowered enough for them to travel through.
The Sarchet family continued on the road when they could pass the creek. They had left Wheeling early Monday morning, they had fought the wild and the weather and the wild weather to St. Clairsville where they stayed two days and then began fighting again. After traveling since sunrise it was now Saturday afternoon when they decided it was time to stop and set up camp again. This camp becoming much more significant than they could have ever imagined. What started as just another stop in their journey, wound up being their destiny. The camp was set on what is North Fifth Street in Cambridge. Yea that’s right, the Sarchets had arrived in what some call the “bottoms” today. They had no idea just over a small hill there were two cabins sitting on Wills Creek.
- (Both C.P.B. Sarchet, and William Wolfe locate these cabins on “Main Street” at the Wills Creek Crossing. They both state that Main Street is later renamed Wheeling Avenue. Given this information I suppose the location of these two cabins would have been on the lower end of Wheeling Avenue between the Pavlov’s building and the Viaduct going to Dewey Avenue. There are more specific locations given, but all consist of businesses and/or other places that have since gone-out-business or no longer exist. If anyone can provide more specific, up to date locations I encourage your input.)
Camping in Cambridge!
The Sarchets set up camp, the scene must have been one of exhaustion, as the story goes, it was just afternoon when they stopped. On most days they would have normally traveled until the sun set leaving them just enough light to set a campfire. The people would have been soaked wet, mud all about their clothes. They would have sat around a fire getting warm, eating and rejuvenating their bodies for their trip onward.
When Sunday Morning come, a short distance from the Sarchet camp, people awoke in the cabins by the creek. Being Sunday, it was common for these Cambridge men to take it easy and forfeit work for a day when possible. As they went outside they noticed a smoke stack off in the distance. This likely excited the men, it was either the nuisance of “Indians” or potential suitors for their town. Either way they needed to find out, they had spent the two previous years isolated from civilization as they plotted their town. Three of the them, said to be Jacob Gomber, John Beatty, and Ezra Graham by C.P.B. Sarchet, (the memory and oral history may have been mistaken in this case about Ezra Graham as it’s thought by others that he left the area when he sold his tavern to George and Henry Beymer) decided to go at once and welcome their visitors.
When they reached the Sarchet camp they were surprised to find twenty six people all strangely dressed. The woman–who were busy preparing a very economical meal around the fire– were wearing short dresses and gowns that were belted around the waist, they also wore large frilled caps on their heads. The men–who were hanging out around the wagons speaking a foreign language–were wearing outfits more attuned to the 1700’s then the new century of the 1800’s: they had on small frocks (jackets that flare at the bottom), pants that stopped at knees, with long stockings rising up to them, they had heavy shoes with white broad wool hats. When Thomas Beatty introduced himself and his buddies, John Sarchet–who spoke the best English in the family–told the Cambridge men they were Norman-French from the Island of Guernsey in Europe, and that they had been on their way to Cincinnati seeking a new home. After two parties become acquainted with each other some festivities followed that evening.
Here’s more from the C.P.B.’s book.
On this day of rest and sunshine, August 15, 1806, they sang hymns of thanksgiving and rejoicing, written and compiled by Jean De Caueteville (Quetteville), of the Wesleyan Methodist church. The French hymn book of Thomas Sarchet the writer has in his possession, published in 1785, having on the preface the endorsement of John Wesley. On this Sabbath day, for the first time the strains of a Methodist hymn echoed through the Wilderness at Cambridge, Ohio. During the day, the three resident families of the town visited the camp of those strange looking emigrants.
The Sarchet Family was excited to have come across such friendly strangers, and the Cambridge families were equally pleased to have their first visitors since the town had been settled. On Monday morning the Guernsey woman–having set up camp between two flowing springs, decided to take the opportunity of washing their clothes before they continued onward. It did not take long before they were visited by a third party. To the surprise of everyone a group of Native Americans–Indians as the settlers would have called them–came along to trade with the family. They come with papooses tied to a board swinging on their backs. The European men and woman must have felt much more comfortable with their differences in culture and fashion when these Indians paid visit. And what an amazing time to think of in hindsight. A time when our little city of Cambridge, was a wilderness. A time when major interstates were not the most significant thing meeting here but rather a family of American pioneers, a family of settling European travelers, and friendly Native Americans, coming from different directions to find themselves altogether in Cambridge, Ohio.
We Are Not Going One Step Further!
In the afternoon, the Beatty and Gomber women decided to take their children down to the Sarchet camp to pay another visit. Being elated in the wonderful time they had spent with the Sarchet family the night previous, being tired of living rather isolated lives, aware of many conversations between their husbands of what the future of Cambridge would look like as they plat the town just months prior, and knowing it was the plan of the Sarchet family to find a place they could settle and start an industrious future; the pioneer woman launched an assertive persuasive campaign to get the Sarchet woman to stay and build their future here. At the same time the Cambridge women were buttering up the Guernsey women, the Beatty-Gomber men were also on a mission showing the Sarchet’s how they had spent the summer staking-off lots for a town.
At that time, it wouldn’t have looked like much other than wood sticks in the ground, as only Wheeling Avenue had the wilderness cut out of it. When they returned to camp the European ladies had made up their mind. After four months of traveling across the ocean, through mountains, up and down hills, feeling as if they had been rained on more than not, they were weary of more travel. They were to stay. There journey was over and the American future the men had discussed on the Island of Guernsey, was to begin here. The Sarchet men, were not so sure of this at first. They certainly weren’t impressed or enthusiastic at the potential of the town the Beatty’s and Gomber’s had carved out and having heard great things of Cincinnati they protested the woman to continue forward where they had planned all along to settle. The women, would have none of it. They told the men they were not going to go, one step further.
C.P.B. Sarchet–who was a grandson to both the Sarchet and the Beatty families–describes his grandmother and her sisters.
After their call at the camp, the women held the first Woman’s rights convention perhaps in the state of Ohio, and decided that they would go no further west…
The men protested, but their protest was of no avail. When a Guernsey woman puts her Foot down.. it is there. The dye was cast and Cambridge was to be the Guernsey town, and the name of Guernsey county was to perpetuate their memory.
Becoming Citizens of Guernsey County
So the men had no choice but to call on Beatty and Gomber to again show them the different lots they had for sell in order to begin building their cabins. Among a collection of out-lots (not in downtown) to plant Apple trees, farm, and manufacture products, the brothers wisely bought property in the middle of Cambridge to build homes and businesses. Peter Sarchet chose to buy two lots west of the public square, where U.S. Bank is located today. Thomas Sarchet chose two lots where on each side of the road where 7th Street meets Wheeling Avenue. John Sarchet chose the lots on the other side of the street from Thomas, where Country Bits and Pieces sits today. Nicholas must not have been a wealthy man as there is no record of him buying property at this time.
It was decided John’s lot would be the location for the families first cabin and work commenced immediately. They were in a rush to get this built as they knew winter was just around corner. Tired of living in tents, camping out on the outskirts of the town, the family moved into their new home before it had floors, a chimney, or even a door. It would have been a crammed space for such a large group. On top of many people living in the structure they had brought with them to America many boxes and chests filled with different tools and utensils, which would have been very rare in those days. They made it work through that winter. C.P.B. Sarchet tells of this winter from his family’s oral history.
Near the cabin, where the trees were cut, the brush was piled, and the women raked up the leaves and burned the brush, and in the cleared space they raked and dug in turnip seed. The turnips grew large and afforded all of the vegetables they had during the winter. I have heard my uncles and aunts tell how they sat around the big wood fire in the long winter nights, and scraped turnips, and listened to the fierce winds sweeping through the trees, while packs of wolves howled around the cabin.
By the time work on the second cabin began it was apparent the Sarchet family would become great citizens for the development of the area. The Indian woman they had met at camp frequently paid them visits and other settlers coming to the area came to them for much needed supplies and services. Four years after their arrival, more people traveling west from the first established American states, started to settle the area and yet even more settlers had come from the Isle of Guernsey. With other small towns like Old Washington growing alongside Cambridge the area had enough people around to be considered a county in 1810. When talks began, and petitions made to the State of Ohio, the Sarchet ladies once again inserted themselves in what was typically a matter for men. They insisted the county be named, “Guernsey” after their homeland. They said the area’s rolling hills reminded them of their old home. Then it was decided, the county would be named Guernsey in honor of their excellent, talented, and influential Guernsey citizens.
Shortly after the first cabin was built the Sarchets begun work on the second cabin. In this time something happening that resulted in Guernsey Counties first criminal proceedings. Click here to find out how the Sarchets were involved and what ever happened to Betty Pallet, the estranged Catholic girl they picked up on their voyage through the Appalachia Mountains.
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