Pioneer Spirit

SEPTEMBER 11, better known as 9/11, is a day that lives in history as a result of the cowardly attacks by terrorists in 2001 in the United States and the tragic deaths of nearly 3,000 people, and it also is connected with another historic event more than 200 years earlier in the Ohio Valley.

It was Sept. 11, 1782, when American Indians and some British soldiers attempted to overcome the settlers living in the area of Fort Henry. Unlike the 2001 attacks, there was a warning about the approach of the enemy force, and on their arrival, according to Ebenezer Zane, the enemies “formed their lines around the garrison, paraded British colors and demanded the fort to be surrendered, which was refused.”

The siege of the fort by the enemy forces, which included 260 American Indians along with a British captain and 40 regular soldiers, however, lasted until the morning of Sept. 13, and it resulted in a victory for the pioneers at Fort Henry.

SEVERAL individuals, such as Betty Zane, are known for their heroic actions during the siege, and those three days in 1782 will be recalled at the upcoming 15th installment of Fort Henry Days set for Labor Day weekend at Site One in Oglebay Park, with its encampments open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, Saturday and Sunday.

It will be an event dramatically different from any of the previously offered annual living history battle reenactments shared here, with expansions and additions to the popular offerings enjoyed free of charge by the public via the grand encampment and the always expanding community celebration component of the event.

Emphasis is placed on being historically correct, both in costumes and activities.

As Martins Ferry resident and reenactor Sue Weigand noted, “Walking through this area (of the Fort Henry encampment), people have opportunities to talk with these people about what it is they are doing, and why they are doing something a particular way – a way that is historically correct – rather than using modern day technology and resources to achieve a certain goal.”

FORT HENRY Days participants and reenactors cooperate in presenting the observance, and that cooperation is indicative of how the spirit of the pioneers lives on in our area.