Old Fort Industry

By S. S. Knabenshue

[Editorial in Toledo Blade, January 24, 1903. - E. O. R.]

Fort Industry existed: that is, there are men still living who can recall its remains. But that is all we know about it. In boyhood, they saw the clay bluff, afterward cut down, which occupied the site of the block bounded by Summit, Water, Monroe and Jefferson streets. On its summit, some six or eight doors north of Monroe street, was an excavation which had apparently been a cellar under a cabin, and at least one citizen recalls that a few of the old uprights of the stockade remained in his boyish days.

The date of its erection, by whom, and for what purpose, have never been determined. The tablet on the Monroe street side of Fort Industry block recites the popular legend; but no historic proof of the statements as ever been found. One of the most persistent searchers for the truth of history in the Maumee Valley is Dr. Charles E. Slocum, of Defiance. Elsewhere in this issue of The Blade, we give a communication from him which recites all the proved historic facts regarding Fort Industry. It is a valuable contribution to local history, which we are glad to present to the people of this city and of Northwestern Ohio.

The conclusion of Dr. Slocum as to the date of and motive for its erection is hypothetical, of course : but it is the only hypothesis yet advanced which fits in with the negative evidence against the popular tradition and the assertions of historical compilers, not investigators, regarding the matter, like Howe and Knapp. Unless a statement can be proved, it should not be written up as a fact, and both these historians committed this error. Legend is not history.

Another fact, to which Dr. Slocum does not refer, is that no authoritative picture of Fort Industry exists. Several years ago the writer endeavored to find out all that he could concerning this point. The frontispiece of Knapp's History of the Maumee Valley is what purports to be a view of Fort Industry. It represents a high clay bluff, rising steeply from the shore of the Maumee, seamed by rains, and crowned, on its summit, by a stockade, at one corner of which is a typical log blockhouse, like the old one still standing on Bois Blanc Island, in the Detroit River, near its mouth.

The engraving bears in one lower corner the name of O. J. Hopkins, better known, perhaps, as the late Colonel Hopkins, whose death by accident occurred in Columbus a few months ago. In his earlier years he was a draughtsman and a wood engraver.

He was asked as to his authority for the picture. His reply was, in effect, that he was asked to make it as a frontispiece for the Knapp book; that he found no picture of it was in existence, nor could he find any description of it, or anyone who had seen it when it was intact; hence, he made a picture of it as he supposed it might be. When asked why he placed a blockhouse in it, he replied that he supposed that was the regular thing at such posts.

It is not at all probable there was any blockhouse. The "fort" was a simple stockade, made of logs planted vertically in the ground, and with one or more log houses in it to serve the purposes of the detachment of soldiers who were here temporarily.

Online Resources | Ohio AHGP

Source: Ohio Archaeological and Historical Publications, Volume XII, 1903.

 



 

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