1. Ferdinand LEHRER. Ferdinand married Barbara CUSTER.
They had one child:
2 i. Mathias (1714-1787)
Family of Ferdinand LEHRER (1) & Barbara CUSTER
2. Mathias LEHRER. Born in 1714 in Germany. Mathias died in Rockingham, Virginia in 1787; he was 73.
Excerpts from Background Of The Lair Family 1738 - 1958, by Maude Ward Lafferty and Helen Lafferty Nisbet
Lexington, Kentucky, 1958
Introduction. Maude Ward Lafferty's and Helen Lafferty Nesbit's essay on the Lair family provides a fascinating history of the origins of Bourbon County, Kentucky. Because of its historical value, I have included the complete history. Researchers of the Lair family will find this an invaluable resource in tracing their family roots. Hopefully, this history will also prove interesting to family researchers whose ancestors are closely linked to the Lairs.--Bob Francis
The story of the Lairs is the story of America. It is the story of a peace-loving people living centuries ago on the banks of the Rhine, tending their vineyards and their flocks until a great religious war shattered that peace. It is the story of their crossing the Atlantic in a sailing vessel; of their landing in Pennsylvania and their home life there; of their moving on into the fertile valley of Virginia and then moving on again over Indian infested trails to the Blue Grass region of Kentucky. From the landing of the first Matthias Lair two hundred and twenty years ago to the present day, this family of ours has spread to the forty-eight states, crossing plains and mountains in covered wagons to Oregon, California, Colorado and Texas, and has played a great part in the building of this country.
The story begins with Matthias Lehrer, or Lair, a sturdy young German born in the Rhineland in 1714, who sailed on "The Nancy," William Wallace Master, landing in Philadelphia in 1738.
On the same ship came Catharina Margaretha Moyer, said to be an heiress, and it was whispered that her father, Will Moyer, was bringing her to this country to avert an undesirable marriage The poor father died on shipboard and was buried at sea, leaving Catharina to face life alone in a strange land.
Immediately after the ship landed, Matthias took the Oath of Allegiance to King George II and fidelity to the Penns, as the English Sovereign required of all male Germans and other foreigners within forty-eight hours of arrival. He also took the Oath of Abjuration which was required in 1729, renouncing the temporal power of the Pope of Rome and the claims of the Pretender and he paid twelve pence and forty shillings for the privilege of entering Pennsylvania. The British authorities required all ship masters to fiat male passengers, giving their birth place and birth date. According to their records Matthias wee twenty-four years old, was born in the Rhineland and landed in 1738. We, his descendants, are grateful for this information as it enables us to follow his footsteps through the intervening years.
It is not surprising that the passengers of "The Nancy" tarried in Philadelphia for a time as it was a pleasant city and was filled to overflowing with Germans, so the late arrivals found friends while studying the country and finding their way about.
Nor is it surprising that our lonely young Germans, Matthias and Catharina, should fall in love and marry in 1744 in their own church, nor that the Register of St. Michaels and Zion Church should record the baptism of the four children born to them during their stay in Philadelphia.
Recorded in German, it is as follows:
September 15, 1745. Johan Juwua Lehrer, son of Matthias and Catharina Margaretha. Born September 12, 1745. Sponsors, Josua Duer and wife Elizabeth, Johannea Ahlgeyer and wife Margretha Catharina.
December 18, 1747. Catharina Margretha Lehrer, daughter of Matthias and Catharina (Reformed). Born November 5, 1747. Sponsors, Jurg Heppele and wife Margretha.
February 18, 1750. Andreas Lehrer, son of Matthias Lehrer, and wife Catharina Margretha. Sponsors, Andreas Beller and wife, Catharina.
April 6, 1752. Matthias Lehrer, son of Matthias and wife, Catharina, born February 15, 1752. Sponsors, Andreas Beller and wife, Catharina.
As they had property in York County, Pennsylvania, it is good to know that Matthias was prospering. The tax list shows that he was possessed of land, cattle and horses in 1779.
As we become interested in them we involuntarily ask: "Who were they? Where did they come from?"
In order to answer these questions we should read a few German histories, such as: Menzel's "History of Germany," "The Thirty Years War" by Schiller, "The Story of the Palatines" by Cobb, "The Book of the Rhine," by S. Baring Gould and Wayland's "History of Rockingham County, Virginia," and should also search court records.
On the base of a famous statue at Bonn is the inscription: "The Rhine is the River, not the Frontier of Germany." It might have been said with equal truth that it is the river of Europe, for no other European river has played so great a part in human destiny. The struggle for its possession is the struggle for supremacy in Europe, which has lasted nearly 2,000 years and is yet unsettled, notwithstanding the price paid in blood in many wars.
As early as 57 B.C., the mighty Caesar built a chain of forts, walls and palasades along its banks to make the Roman Empire impregnable.
From its source in the Julian Alps to its mouth in the North Sea, it measures 750 miles. Its basin contains coal beds and minerals. It waters a region of great fertility and it is not only important from a military and strategic standpoint, but as a channel of commerce. It is the most direct pathway from Italy and the Orient to the British Isles and to Scandinavia and the wines of the Rhineland, the fruits and oils of the Mediterranean, the ivory and spices, Baghdad silks and India shawls that come by way of Cairo.
Its fertility makes the Rhine Valley the garden spot of Europe. The alluvial soil affords fine pasturage and their cattle are held in high esteem. Among their exports are Edam and Limberger cheeses and Rhenish wine is acclaimed the finest on the continent.
The vineyards carpet the steep banks of the river, terrace above terrace, for 350 feet. Some of these have belonged to one family for centuries. A recent article in the New York Times chronicled the death of Germany's oldest grape vine which had produced 75 gallons a year for over 400 years, the great cash crop of the valley is the Rhine wine. It's the "Nectar of the Gods" to the dilettante: The most famous is the Moselle and the Bacharach is made at Dinkelsbuhl where children wearing wreaths of grape leaves in their hair, playing guitars and mandolins, dance through the streets to celebrate the Vine Festival.
The difference in flavor of Rhine wines is due to the quality of the soil and the dampness of the hillsides. The choicest portion of this super-wine is selected from the most exquisite clusters. In early summer when the vine is in flower the busy hands of farmer, wife and children pluck off the superfluous blossoms which are preserved and dried, to be cast into the wine press in the autumn to give aroma to the wine. In order to keep the soil fertile, the people carry the fertilizer up the steep river banks in baskets. Obviously the wine-growers love their vineyards, and we wonder why Matthias and Catharina Lair left them willingly to live in a faraway land. Envious countries sought to destroy these people and to usurp their fertile hillsides. To do so, they instigated The Thirty Years War.
The Thirty Years War was a religious war between Catholics and the Protestants. It originated in Bohemia, reached into Moravia, Austria, Germany, France, as well as Denmark and Scandinavia. It devastated countries, destroyed harvests, reduced villages to ashes and opened graves for thousands of combatants.
Yet, out of this war, Europe came forth free and independent, a community of nations, and this alone reconciles the philosopher to its horrors.
Religion, only, could have made it possible. For the State or the Prince, few nations would have drawn the sword, but for religion the merchant, the artist, the peasant, flew to arms. They became hopeful of success when that good man, Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, took up arms for the cause. He was the only prince in Europe from whom the oppressed could look for protection. He was the hero of the age, the greatest general of his time. Before a battle he knelt in prayer.
Finally at the Battle of Lützen Gustavus Adolphus spurred his charger too near to an exposed point and there received the bullet that took his life.
His men rallied when they beheld his riderless steed and fought more viciously than ever, but the die was cast and when they knew that their great leader was dead, they had no recourse but to sell their homes, salvage what they could and set sail for America.
The Lairs, natives of the principality of Palatine, known to history as Palatines or Palatinates, deeply religious, appreciating freedom in churches and in schools, fled their Rhineland following their participation in The Thirty Years War and made their long and hazardous trek to a new home and a new life in America.
William Penn, an English aristocrat of great learning and vast wealth, had received from his sovereign in payment of a debt, certain lands in the New World, called "Sylvania." His King, with a twinkle in his eye, added the prefix "Penn" making it Pennsylvania. Penn was a Quaker who had the courage of his own convictions. Pennsylvania needed settlers, and he believed the Palatines would make good citizens. In order to be sure, he made a missionary tour of the Rhine which convinced him that he was right and the result of his labor was the great exodus of the Palatines to Pennsylvania. It proved to be an ideal arrangement and between 1730 and 1750, more than thirty thousand Palatines found homes in a free country where they could live in peace and happiness.
It was not long before a second migration followed to Pennsylvania which gave that state the name of Little Germany. Great numbers settled in Philadelphia and Germantown, or Brocks Gap, bringing with them the same fine attributes for which they were known in their native land. They changed their names. Dewitt became Dwight, Groen became Green, Gouldschmidt became Goldsmith, etc., and by this means Americanized their names.
THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY OF VIRGINIA
After the birth of their first children, our immigrant ancestors, Matthias and Catherina, decided to establish their permanent home in the rich Shenandoah Valley. They purchased several extensive tracts of hundreds of acres, each on Linville Creek, near Brocks Gap and Raders Meeting House in Rockingham County. Their neighbors were old friends, the Chrismans, Bowmans, Hites, Kizers, Cassels, Millers and Custers, some of whom were related by marriage. In this ideal community four more children were born to Matthias and Catharina; Elizabeth, Mary, Margaret and John.
In the Shenandoah Valley they reproduced the homes they had enjoyed in the Rhine Valley, building them of stone with tile roofs, a huge chimney in the middle sometimes eight feet in diameter which made fire in every room possible and at minimum cost. Instead of grates, they used quaint stoves of tile, much like those still to be seen in German cities.
Their barns were reproduced from the "Switzer barns" of the Rhineland, They were always built on a hillside with foundation of stone to provide warm stalls for the live stock. The second floor was for hay or grain. On the up-hill level there was always a huge revolving door, wide enough for a team of horses to drive in with a wagon, unload and drive out in turnstile fashion. The barns were of log, put together with wooden pins as there were no iron nails to be had.
Scarcely were the Lairs settled in their new home until they were swept into the current of the Revolutionary War. Matthias and Catharina were too old for service, but according to the Militia vouchers of Rockingham County, 1788, the record shows slaves and horses given by them to help the cause, which designated them as patriots.
Living was difficult during the Revolutionary War but they managed to get along. Catharina's granddaughter stated that she "made frequent trips on horseback to Philadelphia to obtain little luxuries necessary to her comfort," though that city was 260 miles from her stone house in the valley of Virginia. She even worked at the loom, which was the abomination of the pioneer housewives. In these days when we can buy our clothes and household linens from the stores all ready for use, it is difficult for us to realize how those grand old women wove and spun and sewed without machines. But Catharina met her emergencies face forward and played her part, according to the bits of family tradition handed down to us. One of the first household articles set up was the cumbersome old loom. It sometimes found its abiding place in one of the main rooms, but more often in a shed or an attic room. Sometimes there was a "loom house" set apart for it. Weaving, spinning and carding, were duties assigned to the women of the household. The mother usually took the weaving while her daughters did the spinning and spooling. During the spring months the loom was busy with making rag carpets, while in the fall, it was used for making the requisite amount of clothing and linen for the household. Jeans, usually gray, used for suits for men and boys, linsey in chestnut browns, dull blues and scotch plaids, were the materials used for the wearing apparel for the women and girls. Towels and counterpanes were made during the fall. The flax used was grown in a little patch near the house and was harvested by the women. My mother, Helen Lair Ward, who grew up at "Boscobel" at Lair, Kentucky, told me that the flax was so pretty when in flower that her mother (my little grandmother Kittie) would lift her up on the back fence and say: "Helen, dear, look away over there across the Licking River at your grandmother's flax patch. Isn't it the prettiest blue you ever saw? She says that is Rhine blue." When grandmother Kittie was a girl she asked for a flax wheel and as she was left-handed, it had to be made especially to meet her needs. It is now used to hold magazines and newspapers and is handy as well as a cherished keepsake.
Sometimes the loom would turn out "kivvers" or coverlets, that highest form of the weaver's art. Every mother desired that each of her children should have one of these treasures of her skill as a wedding gift, and proud indeed is the housewife who owns one today. The wool blankets were also made on the loom. They were all wool and warm as toast. The one I inherited is light in weight and warmer than any present-day double blanket. These quaint old relics and the old carpets not only taxed the ingenuity but the artistic taste of the weaver and many a mother was famous for her "coloring" secrets. The coloring matter was largely vegetable and had to be boiled for hours before the rags could be immersed and hung on the fence to dry. Someone has calculated that in weaving three yards of close woolen cloth regarded as a day's work, the shuttle was thrown 3,000 times the tredle pressed down and the batten swung the same number of times. Our ancestors loved their home in the Shenandoah Valley and I have heard my mother and Cousin Dink Smith tell how their grandmothers used to sit on the banks of the Licking in the moonlight and talk in undertones of the glories and beauties of the Shenandoah homes and often tears coursed down the furrowed cheeks of Sallie Custer Lair as she sang a plaintive old song in which every verse ended in a wailing refrain "in the Shenandoah Valley."
Some writers contend that the German element was not good for this country generally because it constituted 70% of the entire population and living isolated upon their own farms marrying and intermarrying as they did adhering to their own language publishing their own books writing their songs and conducting their religious services in German, they remained a separate and distinct people. Others however maintain that German thrift and religious zeal set a good example in every section where they located and that they gradually became so noted for their fine farming and staunch morality, that they commanded the respect of all. This was as true of the Holland Dutch who settled New York as of the German element in Pennsylvania Virginia and Kentucky.
Matthias and Catharina Lair had for neighbors in their Shenandoah Valley home the Custers, prosperous store-keepers of Brocks Gap and also the Ruddles, Moyers, Huffmans, Rushes and Newmans. They all lived near their church, Raders Meeting House, which served as church, school and community center. Raders Meeting House, which was remembered by Catharina in her will, was built of logs in 1762. When it was organized, Adam Rader and Alex Painter deeded three acres of land to be used for a church. As that was more ground than was needed for a church building, the presumption is that it was intended for church, school and cemetery for members of the congregation. It was replaced by a more pretentious log building in 1806 and so the members of Raders Meeting House sent their children there to school and when they married, held the wedding ceremony in the same building. The school was taught by the preacher who opened it with prayer at eight o'clock in the morning and dismissed at six o'clock in the evening, allowing one hour for intermission. He taught them reading, spelling, writing, arithmetic, grammar and geography. On Sunday they sat in the same seats while they listened to his sermon. The school had very severe rules. It did not allow games of any sort, nor were any "scholars" allowed to wear ruffles or "powder their hair" but they were allowed to work in the garden for recreation if they so desired.
Matthias Lehrer (or Lair) died in 1787, aged 73, leaving his property to his wife who outlived him about 12 years. Her will, dated July 9, 1799, was probated in January, 1804. It is found among the burnt records of Rockingham County, Virginia, Will Book A, Page 80. After the usual formalities, she left a small sum to her church, Raders Meeting House, made arrangements for the freedom of her body servant, "Rebecca, daughter of Jude," then continued:
"I give and bequeath unto my several sons and daughters, viz; my son, Joseph Lair, my daughter, Catharina Newman, my son, Andrew Lair, my son, Matthias Lair, dec'd or his heirs, my daughter, Elizabeth Trumbo, dec'd or her heirs, my daughter, Mary Ruddle, my daughter, Margaret Custer, and my son, John Lair, all my personal estate to be equally divided among them agreeable to quality and quantity.
"After payment of the lawful debts and funeral expenses, I do hereby constitute and appoint my well-beloved friend, Henry Stolph, executor of this my last will and testament and do hereby disallow all other former testaments, Wills, legacies, bequests, and Executors by me in any way before named, willed or bequeathed, ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament in the presence of us and the presence of such others hereunto subscribed over our names, ninth day of July, 1799.
(Signed) Catherine Lair
Rockingham County. Probated January, 1804
In this document she anglicizes their names for the first time, also writing Lair instead of Lehrer. She even signed her name Catherine Lair. She had indeed become an American.
THE WILDERNESS ROAD
Three sons of Matthias and Catharina Lair, Andrew, Matthias and John, served in the Revolutionary War. There was a great deal of talk about the Wilderness of Kentucky where the rich farm lands were tempting farmers to settle in spite of the Indians on the warpath. Andrew, the oldest of the three brothers, took the lead and prepared to follow Colonel Benjamin Logan over Boone's Wilderness Road to Kentucky which Boone described as "a second Paradise."
The importance of the Wilderness Road cannot be over-estimated. The English speaking colonies stretched like a ribbon along the Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida and the colonials were beginning to need more land. The only available territory unoccupied by Indian tribes was Kentucky, whose fertility and desirability had been heralded by fur traders, The land seekers became obsessed with a desire to possess it. The opening of the Wilderness Road and the Revolutionary War were simultaneous. The pioneers came to Kentucky by tens of thousands over the rough, narrow path. In some places it was necessary to travel single file and even a horse had to pick its way. Creeks had to be crossed, or dry creek beds used for roads and laurel thickets had to be cut away before even a horse could travel through. The pioneers felled the forests, planted crops and played a most conspicuous part in the Revolutionary War by protecting their own interests and the back door of the seaboard colonies at the same time, so that they could give their undivided attention to the British on the eastern shore. With George Rogers Clark, they captured "Hamilton the Hair-buyer," the British commanding general at Detroit and conquered the Northwest Territory, out of which the great states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota were later carved.
Though would-be settlers had striven in vain to gain a foothold in Kentucky, the real settlement came through the Transylvania Company. This group of hard-headed, moneyed men of North Carolina, gathered the Overhill Cherokees at Watauga in 1775 for a powwow that lasted twenty days and finally succeeded in purchasing their claims to Kentucky, including the path," for the nominal sum of $50,000. Looking about for an experienced woodsman to lay out the road, they selected Daniel Boone, who believed himself the instrument of Providence, foreordained for that purpose. It was a wise choice. This natural leader of men, fearless, strong, resourceful, had spent many months in exploring the land and he knew it well. Boone and his party, familiar with the land, crossed the Cumberland River without difficulty, an achievement not attained by any who followed them. The Cumberland, like many mountain streams, became a torrent after a bard rain and the current was swift. Out in the middle of the stream, firmly planted by Divine Providence, was a huge boulder, known to the pioneers as the "Ford Rock." This was their water-gauge. If it could be seen above the swirling water, they knew they could pass over it safely; if, however, the "Ford Rock" could not be located, the settlers dared not attempt to cross, even though they might be pursued by savages pressing hard upon them.
There is no more human study of the Wilderness Rood than that contained in Calk's diary. Minutely he describes the events of each day, telling how "Abram's dog's leg got broke by Drake's dog," how "Daniel Drake bakes bread without washing his hands," how "Abram's mare ran into the river with her load and swam over and he followed her and got on her and made her swim back again," how "at Richland Creek they had to tote their packs over on a tree limb and swim their horses over," how "they turned up a creek that they had crossed about 50 times," etc. But bravely he came along and brought his instruments with which he surveyed Boonesborough.
The first addition to the garrison of Boonesborough was Colonel Richard Henderson and members of the Transylvania Company "to the number of 30 guns," who followed Boone's Wilderness Road.
Coming with them was Benjamin Logan and his party. He left the Transylvanians at the Rockcastle River, however, and followed an older trail to the present site of Stanford, Kentucky, where he established Logan's Fort, eleven miles beyond Crab Orchard. Twenty miles away was Harrod's Fort which was considered "the end of the trail." With Benjamin Logan came Andrew Lair.
Colonel Logan made his first trip to Kentucky in 1775 and, with his friend, William Galaspey and two or three of his slaves, built his fort a mile from the present city of Stanford, Kentucky. He called it Logan's Fort, but some people called it St. Asaphs Fort.
There they raised a crop of corn in 1775. Next year, 1776, he brought his wife and family and the rest of his slaves and his cattle. He placed his wife and family in Harrod's Fort, however, until he could make his fort safer for them.
Logan's Fort filled up quickly with settlers who, less cautious than he, had brought their wives and children along. On May 20, 1777, in the early morning while the women were outside the fort walls milking the cows and their husbands were guarding them with guns loaded, a hundred Indians attacked them and during the attack a man named Burr Harrison was shot and fell. The others succeeded in getting into the fort in safety. The agony of the wounded man, his cries for help and the distress of his wife, were too much for Benjamin Logan and notwithstanding the danger of almost certain death, he dashed out of the fort gate, picked up the wounded man, threw him over his shoulder and ran with him into the fort, while bullets whizzed around his head. That was characteristic of Benjamin Logan who was recognized as one of the bravest and also one of the kindest men in pioneer history. He was a man's man, tall, handsome, courageous, a born leader and Andrew Lair made no mistake in following him.
LIFE IN THE FORTS
The Kentucky forts were built in the form of a parallellogram, their site determined by the location of a good spring. Trees were cut down and the logs neatly picketed and set in a ditch or trench which had been dug the adze and shape desired. When the logs had been rammed tight, they made a solid wall from nine to twelve feet high, impervious to rifle fire and to the arrows of the Indians but not to cannon. The blockhouses, or bastions, built at each of the four corners, were two stories high and extended over the lower story about eighteen inches so that no enemy could make lodgement under the walls without risk of enfilading their fire.
The cabins were built against the inner walls of the fort. They had clapboard roofs and slab doors hung on deer thongs, which served as hinges. The windows were covered with oiled paper or oiled doe skin as there was no glass to be had. All the cabins opened into the enclosure.
The beds in the forts were constructed by forcing forked sticks into the earthen floor, running poles through the forks and between the logs of the wall, and stretching buffalo skins tightly over the frame work. Bedding consisted of homespun sheets and blankets, quilts and coverlets. In very cold weather bear skins or elk skins were added for warmth. The floor coverings were also of animal skins.
Cooking was done at the open fireplace with spits, pothooks and kettles. Tables were made of slabs of wood into which pegs were driven for legs. Noggins, piggies and bowls were neatly turned and pewter plates and horn spoons were considered luxuries.
In these forts friends found friends, neighbors sought former neighbors, kith and kin banded together in pre-empting land and soon built homes of log and stone outside the protecting enclosure of the fort. When danger threatened, a messenger was sent from home to home to warn the settlers to gather their families and a few necessaries and flee to the friendly fort. Not daring to light a candle, they hurried noiselessly through the savage-infested woodland to the friendly fort. Even the dog of the pioneer was trained in silence lest his bark betray his master's whereabouts to the wily savage.
Such were the conditions under which the wives of Benjamin Logan and Andrew Lair, and thousands of others, lived during forting days. Many of the women had been accustomed to comfortable living and were, therefore, able to substitute many items at hand for the things they needed in their daily lives.
At the beginning of the Revolutionary War there were only three forts, Harrod's, Boone's and Logan's, but by its close there were sixty forts, stretched like cities of refuge along the Wilderness Road and the Buffalo Trace, into which settlers "coming in" could spend their nights in safety and then proceed on their journey by day.
The attack on his fort had convinced Benjamin Logan that he did not have sufficient ammunition to withstand Indian warfare. He was needed at his forts but he also knew the fort could not survive without gunpowder. The nearest supply was 200 miles away at the Holston settlement, far beyond the mountains. Selecting two trusty helpers, he slipped out of the fort as soon as it was dark and avoiding the Cumberland Gap and the traveled ways where Indians might intercept him, he went afoot at full speed up the steep mountain sides and down into the dark valleys until he reached the Holston. He procured the gunpowder and lead and left it for his trusty helpers to carry back to Logan's Fort while he hurried homeward alone, reaching there just ten days after he had left.
When Logan built his fort in 1775, what we now know as Kentucky was West Fincastle County, Virginia. It was a vast tract of desirable land with a few scattered forts here and there, too weak to take care of themselves and too far from Williamsburg, Virginia, their seat of government, to secure aid in time of need. Some sort of organized government was urgent and the first step taken was to divide the unwieldy tract into smaller areas and to appoint a reliable officer to be responsible for it. Therefore Fincastle County, Virginia, became Washington, Montgomery and Kentucky counties. In 1780 Kentucky County was divided into Jefferson, Lincoln and Fayette. John Floyd was made Colonel of Jefferson County, Benjamin Logan Colonel of Lincoln County, and John Todd Colonel of Fayette County, while General George Rogers Clark was Commander in Chief, appointed by Virginia.
DESTRUCTION OF RUDDLE'S FORT
As settlers became more numerous, the Indians were more determined than ever to drive them out of their "Happy Hunting Ground" and their atrocities were more severe and terrifying. The Indians were aided by the British who resented George Rogers Clark's conquest of the Northwest Territory and raised an army under Captain Henry Byrd of the Eighth Regiment of His Majesty's forces. This army of 1,000 men, consisting of British Regulars, Canadian Volunteers and Tories, came on June 22, 1780, to capture Ruddle's and Martin's Forts. The British came from Detroit and the Indians from their Ohio towns, they crossed Lake Erie, came down the Miami and the Ohio Rivers, paddled up the Licking and reached Ruddle's Fort just at daybreak and announced their presence by cannon fire. It was the first cannon shot fired south of the Ohio River. The forters were asleep but knew instantly what it meant. Captain Isaac Ruddle protested in vain but the savages dashed into the fort, tore the baby of Mrs. Ruddle from her arms and threw it into the fire, tore wives from their husband's arms, tomahawked and scalped men, women and children and adding the prisoners to those they had captured at Martin's Fort four miles away, drove 470 men, women and children, loaded down with plunder from their cabin homes, to Detroit, a distance of 600 miles. There they were divided among their captors and some were taken 800 miles farther to Mackinac and on to Montreal. The story of their capture, of the separation of families, of hardships endured during the six weeks journey and of the conditions under which they lived during the fourteen years of their captivity is one of the most shocking in the pioneer period of Kentucky's history. Mad Anthony Wayne's Treaty of Greenville set them free. In executing their plan, they waged the War of the American Revolution on Kentucky soil, for they came under the command of a British officer, flying the British flag and demanding surrender in the name of his Britanic Majesty, King George III. Captain Byrd made official report of the expedition to Sir Frederick Haldimand, the British Lieutenant General who was then Governor of Canada.
This battle of the Revolutionary War was fought on land now known as the Matthias Lair farm and is where the Lair Association holds its reunions. Ruddle's Fort stood in the hollow pasture back of the house at "The Cedars" and it was Cousin Eliza Lair who erected the monument that marks its site on the banks of the Licking River. It is fitting that the Lair Association should commemorate the tragic event by holding reunions on June 22, or the first Sunday thereafter.
EXPEDITION AGAINST CHILLIC0THE
By way of retaliation, George Rogers Clark called all fort commanders to collect their troops and rendezvous at the mouth of the Licking, march in a body to the Indian towns of 0ld Chillicothe and Piqua and punish the Indians so severely they would not be able to make forays into Kentucky again. Boatloads of soldiers came from Louisville on the Ohio, others floated down the Ohio and the Licking. Then Clark gave the signal, the largest army of Kentuckians in pioneer history landed on the present site of Cincinnati and marched through the virgin forest to take the Mad River Indians by storm.
Many historians including Collins, McClung, J.F. Smith, Mann Butler and Kerr, have described those battles and disagreed widely. Since Andrew Lair was a soldier under Benjamin Logan and was one of that army of 970 men, it seems advisable to describe it, giving the account by Theodore Roosevelt, the distinguished historian and soldier who had access to the best source material available.
According to him: "Clark realized that he would have trouble raising an army of volunteers and the first thing he did was to close the Land Court and the next was to station armed men at the Crab Orchard, the point from which those returning to Virginia gathered as they were well armed for protection over the dangerous Wilderness Road. The soldiers were ordered to stop all men from leaving the country and to take away their arms, if necessary as four-fifths of all grown men were drafted and needed immediately for the expedition against Chillicothe.
"Logan went with Clark as second in command and carried with him a light three-pound gun on horseback. They began the march on the second of August in a drizzling rate, every night they encamped in a hollow square with the equipment and horses in the middle.
"After their fifty-mile march, they found Chillicothe deserted and burning, so they pushed on to Piqua on the Little Miami, arriving at about 10 o'clock in the morning of August 8.
"Pique-town was strongly built like all French towns. The stout log houses were far apart and the strip of land between them was planted in corn. A blockhouse with loopholed walls stood in the middle. Round about was a woodland.
"Clark divided his army into four divisions, taking command of two of them in person and giving the other two to Logan. He ordered Logan to cross the river above the town and take it in the rear, while he crossed directly below and assailed the town in front.
"Logan did his best to obey the orders but he could not find a ford and marched three miles upstream making repeated and vain attempts to cross, When he finally succeeded, the day was almost done and the fighting was over.
"Meanwhile Clark plunged into the river and crossed it at the head of one of his own two divisions. The other was delayed for a short time. Both Simon Girty and his brother were in the town with several hundred Indian warriors. They were surprised by Clark's swift advance just as a scouting party of warriors were returning to the village. The warning was so short that the squaws and children had barely time to retreat out of the way. As Clark crossed the stream, the warriors left their cabins and formed in some thick timber. A long-range skirmish ensued with the warriors in the timber, but in the approach of Clark's second division the Indians fell back. After a slight running fight of two hours, the whites lost sight of their foes and wondering what had become of Logan's wing, they gathered together and marched back toward the river. The scattered detachments now sat down to listen for the missing wing.
"After half an hour's silent waiting, they suddenly became aware of the presence of a body of Indians that had slipped in between them and the town. The backwoodsmen rushed to the attack, while the Indians whooped and yelled defiance. There was a moment's heavy firing, but as both sides carefully sheltered themselves behind trees, there was very little loss and the Indians steadily gave way until they reached the town about two miles distant from the spot where the whites had halted. They then made a stand and for the first time there occurred some real fighting. The Indians stood stoutly behind the loop-holed walls of the cabins and in the blockhouse. The Americans, advancing cautiously and gaining ground, suffered much more loss than they inflicted. Late in the afternoon Clark managed to bring the three-pounder into action from a point below the town. A few shots from the three-pounder dislodged the defenders of the blockhouse and about sunset the whites closed in, only to find that their foes had escaped and disappeared. A few stragglers exchanged shots with the advance guard of Logan's wing as it at last came down the bank. This was the only part Logan was able to take in the battle. Of the Indians six or eight were slain, whereas the whites lost seventeen and a large number were wounded.
"Clark destroyed all the houses and a large quantity of corn, then the army marched back to the mouth of the Licking and disbanded, most of the volunteers having been out just twenty-five days.
"The Indians were temporarily cowed by their loss and by the damage they had suffered. Especially were they cowed by the moral effect of so formidable a retaliation foray following immediately on the heels of the victory of Byrd's inroad. Therefore, thanks to Clark, the settlements south of the Ohio were but little molested for the remainder of the year."
The first court for Lincoln County was held in 1781 at Harrod's Fort, the earliest and strongest fort in Kentucky. As it did not have the required population, Colonel Benjamin Logan offered ten acres of land at St. Asaph's, or Logan's Fort and fifty acres at Stanford, on condition that a courthouse be built there as a permanent site. His offer was accepted and plans were made at once to build the courthouse.
At the July term it was proven that Benjamin Logan and James Harrod were employed for twenty days, each of theme with one horse to ride and one pack horse, to transport from the Long Island of Holston to the Kentucky country. They were allowed 22 pounds for their services. This is in reference to Logan's 200 mile run to the Holston for ammunition after the Indian attack at Logan's Fort.
Mathias married Catharina Margaretha MOYER, daughter of Will MOYER (~1720-1738). Born in Germany. Catharina Margaretha died after 1787.
They had the following children: