THE SPAFFORD HOUSE MUSEUM
Owned and Operated by
PERRYSBURG AREA HISTORIC MUSEUM, INC.
History of the City of Perrysburg
In August 1794, General "Mad Anthony" Wayne defeated the Indians in the Battle of Fallen Timbers across the river at about the present location of US Route 24 and I-475, and then marched his army downstream to defy a British garrison, Fort Miamis.
In May and August of 1813, a scant mile west of uptown, General William Henry Harrison held off the British and their Indian allies in the two sieges of Fort Meigs that helped end the War of 1812 in the west.
Amos Spafford helped survey the Connecticut Western Reserve in the late 1790s and was one of the first settlers in the Perrysburg area, arriving here in 1810 after accepting a United States government offer of an appointment as the “Collector of the Port of Miami” located on the Miami of the Lake, today known as the Maumee River. He moved with his family (wife Olive and children Samuel, Aurora, Chloe and Anna) from Cleveland to the Foot of the Rapids, where Fort Meigs would later be built on the bluff above in February 1813. Two years later, 67 families lived in the area, but most fled at the outbreak of the War of 1812. Following the war, settlers returned and reconstructed their homes in the town of "Orleans of the North" located on the “flats” just below Fort Meigs The town was wiped out twice by spring floods and ice floes, finally being abandoned for higher ground in 1816.
In 1815 Amos concluded that a town should be located on higher ground and in 1816 the U.S. Congress authorized a survey. About the same time U.S. Land Commissioner Josiah Meigs asked Amos to select a name, suggesting that it would be appropriate to honor Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry who defeated the British naval fleet at Put-in-Bay on Lake Erie in the War of 1812. Amos named it Perrysburgh (the “h” was later dropped), in honor of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, whose victory helped open the way to peaceful development of the Northwest Territory. With the opening of the Northwest Territory, many settlers passed through the area, crossing the river at the first opportunity upstream from Lake Erie, the ford at the Foot of the Rapids, and continuing their journeys north or west into the newly acquired lands of the expanding United States.
During the so-called Toledo War over the Ohio-Michigan boundary dispute in 1835, the Governor of Ohio marched state militia from Columbus to Perrysburg, set up headquarters and drilled in our streets.
Sitting on the northern rim of the Great Black Swamp, early transportation was largely restricted to the river, and the town became a distribution center for goods consigned to the interior in exchange for furs and dried meat. In time Perrysburg became a major lake port and shipbuilding center—second only to Cleveland and Buffalo in goods shipped.
As the swamp was drained, huge forests of virgin timber became available and untold millions of board feet of logs and sawed lumber were floated or shipped down river, across the lake and on to domestic and foreign markets.
A hydraulic canal, taking water from the river several miles upstream, cascaded water to the riverfront powering grist and saw mills, a tannery, furniture factories, a paper mill and a machine shop.
With the coming of canals in the 1840s, connecting the east coast with the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, and the need for deep water ports, Perrysburg's commercial importance waned and it gradually changed to an agricultural market center for the surrounding rich farm lands, and a suburb of Toledo. But the people who came here over the years, many from New England, brought their architectural preferences with them.
Perrysburg possesses over 200 years of important regional and vernacular architecture, which stands as testimony to different strands of tradition as well as to an impressive diversity and creativity of builders who have brought their own unique expressions to individual structures.
Copyright 2013 - 2017
Perrysburg Area Historic Museum, Inc.
PO Box 1294
Perrysburg, OH 43552