One in an occasional series
Take a close look at the War of 1812 artifact found while Douglas Pratt was farming one day near Fort Meigs along the Maumee River in Perrysburg.
Those are teeth marks on the musket ball.
Mr. Pratt, whose great-great grandfather William Pratt fought at Fort Meigs, firmly believes that a wounded soldier, receiving medical treatment, was told to “bite the bullet.”
An awful lot of soldiers suffered grave injuries and many died in the war, said Mr. Pratt, who lives on the family’s nearly 200-year-old farm in Perrysburg Township in Wood County.
During the War of 1812’s bicentennial, descendants of veterans hope to raise awareness about what often is called the Forgotten War.
“These folks are more than just a name on a tombstone,” said Melanie Ayers Calevro of Perrysburg. War of 1812 veteran William Pratt was her fourth-great grandfather.
“It all happened here,” she said, referring to the area of northwest Ohio and what was then the Michigan Territory. The war should be properly remembered, she said. “It was so significant in this area. It really was our second struggle for independence.”
She knew Douglas Pratt — “He was my kids’ bus driver” — but didn’t realize they were related until a year ago when she read a family letter that mentioned the Pratt family. She called Mr. Pratt, and they compared family histories, confirming that she, too, is a descendant of a War of 1812 veteran.
Always, Mrs. Calevro said, she’s known her roots run deep in the Black Swamp. How deep she didn’t know. She lives near Fort Meigs, the front line of defense for Americans battling back the British. Captain Pratt, her ancestor, fought there.
A coincidence? She thinks not.
“I always have had an innate sense of being home here,” said Mrs. Calevro, who considers herself as a caretaker of the past, rekindling interest in local history.
“I just get goose bumps. This is about our folks,” she said, seated near Mr. Pratt in his home along Hull Prairie Road.
William Pratt was a New York infantry officer who was sent to northwest Ohio, where he found himself fighting at Fort Meigs in 1813. He remained in this area after Gen. William Henry Harrison’s forces successfully defended the fort during two sieges.
William Pratt was Wood County treasurer and was an associate judge of the county’s common pleas court.
Original Pratt family records, including the congressional land deed signed by President John Quincy Adams, were donated to the Bowling Green State University Center for Archival Collections.
Each time Mrs. Calevro discovers details about her family, history taps her on the shoulder.
“I’m proud of them. I am trying to tell their story,” said Mrs. Calevro, who noted there is a Pratt Lane in Grand Rapids. Likely, she said, people are unaware of the connection to the war.
Roads as well as towns, parks, and schools in the region were named for those who played pivotal roles in the War of 1812.
Peter Navarre, pioneer son of the frontier, was a war scout. He passed messages between Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry at Port Clinton and General Harrison at Fort Seneca in August and September, 1813. On Sept. 9 that year, Peter was sent to Commodore Perry with orders to begin the attack against the British. The Battle of Lake Erie was fought the following day.
Oregon Police Chief Mike Navarre recalls trips to the zoo years ago when relatives would relate war stories about Peter, whose cabin was on display there.
“I remember family telling me about my great-great grandfather. I am not sure if I believed them back then,” said Mr. Navarre, who noted now that he is older, “I have become very interested in my family lineage.”
Chief Navarre said his children don’t yet share his passion for Peter Navarre history, but said that it’s not as though they are descended from War of 1812 “big guns” Commodore Perry or General Harrison.
Still, it’s pretty cool, Mr. Navarre said, to be related to Peter Navarre, War of 1812 hero.
“They named a school and a street and a park after him. He must have been something or he was a good politician,” the chief said, a smile lighting his comment.
Contact Janet Romaker at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6006.