Van Buren’s square designed after Spanish towns

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.

 

By R.L. HEMINGER

 

Nevin O. Winter, of Toledo, wrote a history of northwestern Ohio some years ago and included in his volume articles relating to historical accounts of various counties making up this area of the Buckeye state. Among them was Hancock. Dr. Jacob A. Kimmell, a Findlay physician and former member of the Ohio legislature from Hancock County, as well as the author of a history of Hancock County, contributed the historical article with regard to Hancock.

The doctor-historian included some especially interesting phases of Hancock County history. Among them were these items:

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When the village of Van Buren was laid out in 1833, it was designed after the style of Spanish towns, with its open square and main streets in the form of a cross. Van Buren was the second Hancock County village laid out, only a few years after Mount Blanchard. The third was Williamstown.

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When Jean Jacques Blanchard, the French tailor who lived with the Indians and for whom the Blanchard River is named, died in 1802, he was buried in a grave over which Fort Findlay was later to be built in the War of 1812. This places his grave within the small area bounded by South Main and West Front streets, along the stream which bears Blanchard’s name.

Dr. Kimmell described Blanchard as “tailor by trade, friendly by disposition and non-communicative by choice.” He spoke Parisian French and had an acquaintance with Greek and Latin. He married an Indian squaw, and the couple had a dozen half-breed sons and daughters. One of the sons became a chief of an Indian tribe subsequently.

No “takers” have come forward to take advantage of the offer made by a Paul Shultz, of Otwater, Ohio, recently (1970) in a letter to Roy Carlson, executive vice-president of the Findlay Area Chamber of Commerce, with regard to Blanchard.

The writer said he was convinced Blanchard left a treasure consisting of two brass-bound chests of silver and gold coins along the Blanchard River somewhere in this locality. He wanted the Chamber executive to help him find them. He said he had ultra-sensitive instruments which he could bring to Findlay to help locate the treasure, if an idea could be developed generally as to where Blanchard might have deposited them.

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When the Indians buried one of their number in what is known as Indian Green, west of Findlay along U.S. 224, they deposited jewels of some kind in the grave with the body so that the dead braves would have some means with which to purchase their share of “goodies” in the happy hunting ground. Once a white man robbed one of those graves of its jewels and the Indians discovered what had happened to them and later learned who the culprit was. They chased him out of the area, after making life miserable for him for a while.

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There may have been a battle at Indian Green. Some historians have asserted that Gen. Mad Anthony Wayne gave the Indians a startling surprise on his way to and from the Battle of the Maumee in 1794. But others believe he moved straight north from Greenville to Fort Recovery, thence to the junction of the Maumee and Auglaize at Defiance where he built a fort, and thence down the Maumee to the rapids near Maumee where he defeated the Indians, and then returned to Greenville by the same route.

It is probable, according to Dr. Kimmell, that either Wayne’s entire army or some portion of it came far enough east on their march back from the Battle of the Maumee to reach “Indian Green” and may have had an encounter with the red men, doubtless to the disadvantage of the latter.

Indian Green is located on U.S. 224 just east of the junction with Ohio 186 (McComb Road).

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