Scalawags and Scoundrels
The frontier brought good people looking for a fresh start, to seek their fortune or looking for fresh fertile (and cheap) farmland. There were also a few folks who came because there was no established law and order. Some of these were always looking for ways to make a quick easy buck as we shall see in this series on Scalawags and Scoundrels.
Scoundrel Isaac Richardson was perhaps the earliest white settler in this area. The British and allied hostile Indians during the War of 1812 drove any white settlers in the Maumee River Valley out of the area and new settlers were slow to return. Isaac, however, is reported have been in this area by the spring of 1814. Why he came here is unknown but by 1816 he built a double log cabin on the Fort Defiance to Fort Detroit road along the Maumee River opposite the Roche de Boeuf rock as a tavern and trading post. It is reported that besides entertaining travelers on the road, he sold whiskey to the Indians, made a business of catching fugitive slaves for the bounty money and cheated anyone he thought he could. He prospered as more settlers moved into the area in spite of his known character flaws. These “character flaws” finally led to his downfall. In July of 1830 a simple half-breed named George Porter who worked as handyman for Isaac became so enraged at being constantly cheated that he shot him in the head on the porch of the tavern. Porter was hanged for his crime at Perrysburg, the Wood County seat at that time, in spite of much public sympathy for him. Isaac’s widow Jane Richardson then became the first woman to own property in this area, River tract 39, which she sold and had a house built in town. This house on River Road stands and is included in the WHS walking tour as the “Jane Richardson House.”
Note: Some of the information for this article is taken from Midge Campbell’s book “Watervillore.”