Our Old Bookcase

Mercer County Chronicle

Written by Joyce L. Alig

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

During the War of 1812, the Flagship Niagara was under the command of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.

During the War of 1812, the Flagship Niagara was under the command of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.

Ship cannons from the War of 1812 will be on exhibit, at the Sunday afternoon October 28, 2012 exhibit, 1:00 – 4:00, at the Mercer County Historical Museum, 130 East Market, (a block east of the Courthouse) at Celina.  The public is welcome; there is no charge.
The 13th Annual Antique Military & Gun Exhibit will be hosted by the Museum of the Soldier, Portland, Indiana, and by Local Gun Collectors and private citizens.  This October 28 Display is an exhibit for the Museum of the Soldier, and the Mercer County Historical Society’s celebration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, with other Historians across the United States.  The Mission of the Mercer County Historical Society is To Preserve Mercer County’s History and To Educate the Public about that History.  The Theme for this exhibit, is “To Protect our Military Heritage.”
In the photograph, the Niagara, commanded by Oliver Hazard Perry, was brought into the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813, and helped defeat the British fleet during the War of 1812.  The victory, which saved the Old Northwest Territory and gave control of the upper Great Lakes to the United States, was immortalized by Perry with his now famous line, “We have met the enemy and they are ours!”
With her once-in-a-lifetime restoration, the Niagara is now open to the public.  Her 175th Anniversary celebration was held in 1988.  This Flagship is located on Lake Erie, at Erie, PA.  What was exciting to me, when we visited the Niagara, is that it is a two-masted ship, known as a “brig,” used during the War of 1812.  Captain James Riley’s ship, known as the “Commerce,” was also a two-masted ship, i.e. a brig, which Captain Riley sailed from Connecticut to the Caribbean for trade, and then to Gibraltar and the Canary Islands before returning home, immediately following the War of 1812.  It was on one of these trading voyages that Captain Riley was shipwrecked during a fog, off the coast of Africa, whereby he and his crew were captured by Arabs, held for ransom, and several months later were able to return to the United States.  When I walked on the deck of the Niagara, I thought about the challenges Captain Riley and his crew faced while sailing their brig across the Atlantic Ocean for weeks on a voyage.
Former Judge Carleton Reiser loved military history and collected books and artifacts related to this theme.  He was the historian who donated the War of 1812 ship cannons to the Mercer County Historical Society, which are on exhibit at the Mercer County Historical Museum.  Also on exhibit, at the October 28 Military and Gun Exhibit are items which the Museum of the Soldier from Portland will show for this afternoon.  Military accoutrements from the War of 1812 will complement this exhibit.  Also on display will be muskets from that time period by Gun Collectors.
You will recall that the forts at Fort Recovery and Fort Adams, here in Mercer County, were used as supply forts, for Fort Defiance and Fort Meigs in northwest Ohio, during the War of 1812.  Anthony Shane, from Shanes Crossing (now Rockford) not only was involved in the Indian Wars of the 1790’s, but also was involved in the War of 1812.  The History of Fort Defiance gives references to Anthony Shane not only assisting with Military Intelligence but also hunting deer and delivering the deer to Fort Defiance for feeding the Military.  Many Mercer Countians were involved in the Military in the War of 1812.
History Books from American History, Ohio History and Mercer County History will be on exhibit at this Sunday, October 28 Exhibit at the Mercer County Historical Museum.
The Mercer County Historical Society President Joyce Alig, may be contacted at 3054 Burk-St. Henry Road, Saint Henry, OH 45883,  or histalig@bright.net or 419-678-2614.]

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


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