The Mansfield, Ohio Blockhouse
Welcome back to Mysterious Ohio. This week we are taking a trip to the town in my children's book, Hoppy's Grave, known as Mansfield, Ohio.
Mansfield is the largest city in the "Mid-Ohio" region of Ohio. This region is made up of Marion, Delaware, Knox, Morrow, Crawford, Ashland and Richland counties to the south and the Firelands area located south of Sandusky.
Mansfield was founded in 1808 by James Hedges, Jacob Newman and Joseph Larwill on a fork of the Mohican River. Mansfield became a great location for farmers due to the fertile soil, despite the hilly landscape. Later, residents of the city would name the establish Mansfield after Jared Mansfield, the Colonel Surveyor General who had directed the planning of the city. The first house was a log cabin built by Samuel Martin. Mr. Martin was the first settler in Mansfield. He made a living by selling whisky to the Native Americans while living in the cabin during the winters months. Yet, his actions were highly illegal. Thus, he fled his cabin and the following year, 1809, James Cunningham moved in. There were less than a dozen settlers in Mansfield when Mr. Cunningham settled in. The lack of settlers in Mansfield was largely due to the fact that Ohio was still largely wilderness.
During the war of 1812, the residents constructed a wooden blockhouse that could be used to protect them in case a battle occurred in their newly established town. It wasn't uncommon for residents throughout Ohio towns to construct blockhouses and stockades to protect them. What makes the one in Mansfield so significant is that it is the only blockhouse from 1812 still erect today in the entire region. The blockhouse was a two story wooden structure built of squared logs. It had several loopholes where men could shoot without being exposed. The blockhouse also had sturdy shutters that were used to close the windows and loopholes.
It's very mysterious how the blockhouse has survived so long. The blockhouse has been renovated in order to preserve this wonder of cultural history in the region.