Mendenhalls In The News

Unknown paper, Mt. Vernon, Ohio

Sketch of the Life of Miller Mendenhall

“Mr. Miller Mendenhall of 115 E. Vine Street, this city, reached the allotted age of man on Monday, June 17, 1907, that day being his 70th birthday anniversary, living nearly a generation in one county and on one farm. He came to Knox County, sixty two years ago, when Mt. Vernon was a small place without any railroads, and the county was practically a forest. Six years ago he retired from farming and moved to Mt. Vernon, where he could rest and enjoy the fruits of the labors of former years. Notwithstanding his age he is in fairly good health, and his chances are good for many more years of life. His hair is very little gray, and he does not appear to be more than in his fifties. He had always been temperate in all his habits, and he does not use tobacco in any form.

Early to bed and early to rise is his motto, which he has always kept, even after he moved to Mt. Vernon.

Mr. Mendenhall was born in Greene County, Pa., June 17, 1937, and was the son of one of the five children of Samuel and Phoebe Mendenhall, being of Quaker parentage. He was christened in honor of the Miller family on his mother’s side, who were very wealthy residents of Chester County, Pa.

Mr. Mendenhall moved with his parents to Knox County, Ohio, at the outbreak of the Mexican War in 1845. They moved in wagons and crossed rivers on ferry-boats as there were only a few railroads in those days. The Kremlin building in Mt. Vernon had just been built then. After living at Mt. Vernon nearly a year, his father purchansed a tract of land in Wayne township, in a thickly settled portion called Greene Valley, six miles west of Mt. Vernon, and four miles southwest of Frederickstown, paying $14 per acre for it. It is part of the Mendenhall estate today, and is called Indian Mound farm, on account of a well-made Indian mound on the farm and number of Indian relics found. There are 210 acres, and one-third of it was in timber. It required much hard labor to clear the land and improve it, where it is today. He now owns one of the best farms in the county, well improved in every way and very productive.

There were no railroads in the county, and non nearer than Mansfield, and all hauling had to be done by teams to the nearest shipping points. Mr. Mendenhall remembers of hauling many loads of wheat to Mansfield, making the trip in two days and receiving 75¢ to $1 per bushel for this wheat. Money was very scarce in those days. Eggs sold for 3¢ per dozen and it took a dozen eggs to buy a darning needle.

Mr. Mendenhall can remember very well the old market house in Mt. Vernon, and attended market there many times with his father. He also remembers the old courthouse that was situated on the northwest corner of the Public Square, and had been there many times. 

There were five log houses on the Mendenhall farm. Green Valley as it was then called, was more thickly settled than it is today. There were log houses, dotted all over the community. There was a store and postoffice, and other buisiness was carried out. There were two distilleries near by where whiskey could be gotten by wholesale or retail. many farmers raised corn and traided it for whiskey, and many got it by the barrell. people would come for a number of miles for whiskey. Phillip and Sockman were the owners of the distilleries, and people buying it on credit would book it as follows: Two gallons of Phillips and two gallons of Sockman’s, etc. Timberland was abundant, and farmers let their hogs run wild in the woods to make their own living, feeding on beechnuts, etc. But it was really dangerous to encounter a bunch of wild hogs for they were really wicked.

Mr. Mendenhall’s ancestor came to America with William Penn, 1681. His grandfather, Moses Mendenhall, was a Quaker preacher. By the influence and teachings of his kin, Mr. Mendenhall learned to believe very strongly in the old Quaker doctrine. In an early day the Mendenhalls attended the old Quaker church north of Fredericktown. But the members are scattered and the church is gone. Mr. Mendenhall always finds pleasure in other churches and contributes to them. He helped build the Green Valley Methodist Church in 1855 and still helps to support the church. ‘Honesty’ and ‘Do unto others as you wish to be done by’ is his key to true religion.

Mr. Mendenhall has one brother living, Nicholas Mendenhall, who resides at Eugene on a farm. A brother E. I. Mendenhall of Mt. Vernon, died over a year ago, and two sisters died several years ago.

Mr. Mendenhall has been twice married, first to Miss Emma Alverson of Fredericktown, to whom were born two sons, Eugene W. Mendenhall, of Columbus, and Lamont C. Mendenhall of Plymouth, Ohio, and one daughter, Mrs. B. F. Parmenter, who lives with her husband on the Mendenhall homestead at Eugene. His first wife died Feb. 26th, 1889, and he married for his second wife Mrs. Mary J. Williams, of Levering, Ohio. No children were born to this union. He had four grandchildren living, Emma Estella Mendenhall, Miller Rexford Mendenhall, Ralph Waldo Parmentar, and Francis Eugenia Mendenhall. One grandchild died in infancy.

Mr. and Mrs. Mendenhall reside in a very pleasant home in Mt. Vernon, and enjoy driving out to their old home farm and visiting with their many friends in the county; and his many friends wish him many more years in their midst, to witness the rapid progress of today. He had seen a great change from his boyhood days to the present time.”

The first American flag flown over foreign territory was raised by Thomas Mendenhall, who was born in 1759. The following was written about the event.

“The young man who made the flag without ever having seen one and who hoisted it Mr. Thomas Mendenhall, among whose living descendants is his granddaughter, Mrs. A. W. Carry, of Wenonah, N. J.  The story is thus told in ‘Reminiscences of Wilmington’: ‘In the winter of 1775 Robert Morris, Esq., financer for the Continental Congress, chartered the brig Nancy, of Wilmington, Delaware, owned by Joseph Shallcross, Joseph Tatnall and others, and by Captain Hugh Montgomery, who was the commander. The ensuing March she sailed for Porto Rico, under English colors, and landed at Don Antonio Seronia to procure arms and ammunition by a contract previously made with the Spanish Government. Thence the brig sailed to different islands to avoid suspicion. At St. Croix and St. Thomas she took on produce by day and munitions of war by night; these were sent by small vessels from St. Eustatia, being neutral islands.

When the cargo was nearly complete, information was received that independence was declared, and a description of the colors adopted. This was cheering intelligence to the captain, as it would divest him of acting clandestinely. Now they could show their true colors. The material was at once procured and a young man on board set to work privately to make them. he was well known in Philadelphia in after years as Captain Thomas Mendenhall.

The number of men was increased and the brig armed for defense and all things put in order. The day they sailed the captain and Mr. A. S. had invited the Governor and suite with twenty other gentlemen on board to dine. A sumptuous dinner was cooked and a sea-turtle being prepared gave it the usual name of a turtle feast. As the custom-house barges approached with the company, they were ordered to lay on their oars while a salute of thirteen guns was fired. Amid the firing the young man – Mendenhall – was ordered to haul down the English flag and hoist the first American stars ever seen in a foreign port. ‘Cheers for the National Congress,’ cries of ‘Down with the lion, up with the Stars and Stripes,’ were shouted. 

This novelty caused great excitement to the numberless vessels then laying in the harbor, and to the distinguised guest it was a most animating scene. After the entertainment was hurried over they returned in their boats and the brig was soon under full sail. On her homeward voyage she was often chased, but escaped.

The further fortunes of the little brig and of the flag which was first to fly around were stormy indeed. The brig did escape from the West Indies and made as far north as the Delaware coast, but here was so surrounded by the enemy that in an effort to save the cargo of arms and ammunition it was decided to run her ashore. Such, however, was the activity of the boats sent out from the enemy’s ships in an attempt to board the brig that this was impossible, and for nearly twelve hours and until the little ship was a wreck those on board of her defended her. Some of her stores were landed, but nothing was left of her spars or rigging save one tottering mast, at which the little flag was still flying, and it was resolved ere she was abandoned to explode the ammunition to prevent it, and the other stores, from falling into the enemy’s hands. The plan was arranged so that the men could have time to leave and the captain and the hands were the last to quit. As this boat left the wreck one man, John Hancock, jumped overboard, as he said, ‘to save the beloved banner or perish in the attempt.’ His comrades watched him as he climbed the shivering mast, unfastened the flag, plunged into the sea and bore it safe to shore, where there were Continental soldiers to protect it. The enemy, thinking the taking down of the flag was a token of surrender, swarmed around the sinking brig and many were killed by the explosion. The ship was sunk off the Delaware coast, but the stars and stripes were saved.

The Bryan Times – April 28, 1898

Originally published in The Chicago-Times Herald

“The first American flag that ever floated in a foreign port was hoisted by Captain Thomas Mendenhall, great grandfather of Mrs. Mary Mendenhall Mead, of 2209 Park Avenue, Walnut Hills. This event took place in the spring of 1776 at St. Eustacia, one of the neutral islands during the Revolutionary War.

In the winter of 1775, Robert Morris, Esq., Financier of the Continental Congress, chartered the brig Nancy at Wilmington, Del.  The ensuing year she sailed for Puerto Rico under English colors and landed at Don Antonio Seronia to procure arms and ammunition by a contract previously made with the Spanish Government. From there the brig sailed to different islands.

To Avoid Suspicion

At St. Croix and St. Thomas the brig took in produce by day and munitions of war by night. These were sent from St. Eustacia in small vessels. When the cargo was nearly complete information was received that independence had been declared and a description of the colors adopted. This, of course, was cheering news to the sailors, as they could then show thier true colors and would not have to act clandestinely. The necessary material for the making of the flag was at once procured, and a young man on board set to work privately to make it. The young man was Thomas Mendenhall, who afterwards became a Captain in the navy. The brig was at once armed for defense, and all things put in order ready to weigh anchor. On the day that the brig was to sail the Captain invited the Governor and suit and 20 other gentlemen on board to dine. A sumptious dinner was served. As the customs barges approached with their guests, the rowers were ordered to lay on their oars while a salute of thirteen guns was fired. Amid the firing young Mendenhall, upon orders, hauled down the English flag, and in its stead raised aloft the first flag of this country ever seen in a foreign port. Cheers for the National Congress and cries of “Down with the lion, and up with the Stars and Stripes” accompanied the flag raising. Perhaps it will not be many days before the American flag will be hoisted in the same section of the world.

The ancestors of Captain Thomas Mendenhall were of English stock, and after coming to this country settled at Wilmington, Del. and Philadelphia, Penn.. Captain Mendenhall left seven children. His grandson, J. H. Mendenhall, is still living at Delaware, Ohio. The latter’s daughter, Mrs. Mead, who is in possession of a picture of her illustrious ancestor, is the wife of a well-known local insurance man. They have two children, Margaret and John.”

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