Bicentennial commission adds new attraction


Jun. 12, 2013
Written by
Daniel Carson
Staff Writer

FREMONT — With less than two months to go before its weekend-long War of 1812 celebration, the Fort Stephenson Bicentennial Commission has added a new attraction to the three-day event.

Katherine Rice, the commission’s chairwoman, said Don Miller, owner of Peninsular Farms, has agreed to open the property up for tours during the three-day festival, which runs Aug. 2-4.

Peninsular Farms is what remains of the 1,288-acre Whitaker Reserve, where early Sandusky County settlers James and Elizabeth Whitaker forged out a homestead.

Elizabeth Whitaker — sometimes spelled Whittaker in documents — played a part in the Battle of Fort Stephenson by rushing to the fort in 1813 and warning Col. George Croghan that the British were advancing on the military installation.

The British suspected Whitaker had warned Croghan and burned down her house and parts of the property, according to documents at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center.

Rice said Miller contacted the Fort Stephenson commission in March about the possibility of holding tours in conjunction with the bicentennial festival.

“It was kind of a mutual thing,” Rice said Tuesday. “We had talked about including the farm in the festival.”

The Peninuslar Farms tour begins at 10 a.m. Aug. 3 and 4, with the last tour on Saturday starting at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. The tours will start at the festival site, with a bus taking visitors out to the Peninsular property.

Rice said the Whitaker grave site had been well maintained and Miller had put a lot of effort into historic preservation at the property, located off Old Port Clinton Road.

She said Miller and a guide dressed in period costume will give visitors information about the property’s historical significance, and Rice added that people will be able to walk around and take photos during the hour-long tour.

“This is a perfect opportunity to give them a behind-the-scenes peek,” Rice said.

The foundation of an on-site trading post will be excavated to allow visitors a closer look at that piece of history.

Peninsular Farm tour tickets cost $5 apiece and go on sale June 24 can be purchased through the Sandusky County Convention and Visitors Bureau or at the Fort Stephenson Bicentennial Commission website.

In addition to the Peninsular tours, Rice said the festival is lining up more vendors in general and veterans for the living military history display.

“The word is getting out that we’re honoring our veterans in a pretty big way,” Rice said.

She said festival organizers are seeking volunteers for set-up, the Peninsular Farms’ tours, to help register people for the encampment, and for cleanup.

Rice said she can be reached at 419-332-4470 for people interested in volunteering or with questions.

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