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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Naming Of Caesar's Creek Is Still A Mystery

Dallas Bogan on 14 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The writer was asked by personnel from Pioneer Village to gather some type history on Caesar's Creek. This was done with a great deal of searching.
I lived near Caesar' Creek in New Burlington and Harveysburg until I went to work for Armco in Middletown in 1952. I can well remember the old swimming holes, the one at the old double-iron bridge, just off Buck Run road near New Burlington; Morgan's Hole on the Harveysburg Road north of Harveysburg; and Blue Banks, below the Harveysburg hill.
I can recall many of the fishing along Caesar's creek, Brook's Hole in Harvey burg being a favorite spot for local fishermen.
As a young lad of about 13, I fantasized that a summer away from school, living it up in a boat on Caesar's creek, would be a paradise to me. The writer and one of the Tolle Boys, from New Burlington, negotiated a deal that consisted of an even trade of a pocket-knife and a pocket full of junk for a rubber life raft.
It didn't take long to figure out why our old buddy wanted to get rid of his life raft: it leaked to high heaven! We patched, patched and re-patched, and, after many failures, we traded the dad-blamed thing for a rowboat.
This cumbersome chunk-of-wood was so heavy that it took four of us to carry it down to Caesar's Creek. It too leaked like a sieve and sank.
We gathered enough money to go to Collett's hardware store in New Burlington and buy a gallon bucket of tar and went to work.
Alas! Success! We thought. With the weight of the four of us, and the weight of the affixed tar, the boat again hit bottom.
We bailed for hours. We had to get out and push it over anything and everything.
After a distressful couple of days, we left the craft in the water and "washed" it off as just a bad transaction. So much for the summer of '47.

Our story concerning the origin of Caesar's Creek begins in Ross Twp., Greene County, its most northerly point. The creek slowly gathers momentum from this location and flows into Warren County, where it empties into the Little Miami River in Wayne Twp.
There are five or six small branches in Ross Township that form the most northerly part of Caesar's Creek. The middle branch also has minute watersheds in the prairie-like surroundings of Ross Twp. The combination of these drainages unites to produce a more viable flowing stream.
Caesar's Creek then flows southwest into Silver Creek Twp., passing just north of Jamestown. It then flows into New Jasper Twp., and just north of Hoop Road, the South Branch that was formed in Silver Creek Twp joins it. This triple merger considerably enlarges the creek.
Flowing southwest at this point, it now forms a part of the boundary line between Xenia and Caesar's Creek townships, and then drifts into Spring Valley Twp. Spiraling almost due west at this point for a time, it then shifts almost due south out of Greene into Clinton County.
It next maneuvers through the extinct village of New Burlington, where it joins with Anderson's Fork, another aggressive stream. With this addition, the mighty powers of the combined tributaries were no longer a meandering stream, but at high water, a might force to be reckoned with, until the building of the Caesar's Creek Lake Reservoir.
Before the lake project, an exquisite little valley lay directly to the west beneath the Harveysburg hill. Geologists seem to think that before the last ice age, this area was once the bed of a lake, but the changes that took place at the close of the ice period closed up the original outlet, and caused the accumulated waters to open up a new channel, through which Caesar's Creek flowed.
(In October 1790, General Josiah Harmar and his army made an attack on Old Chillicothe [Oldtown in Greene County] by way of the Little Miami. Simon Kenton was a captain and scout on this trip. Daniel Boone was also a scout. One place of encampment was about two miles up Caesar's Creek from its mouth at the Little Miami, close to the present dam area.)

Caesar's Creek and its Name Origin,

How did Caesar's Creek get its name? If one were to momentarily go back in time, and collaborate with the ones who cleared and developed the lands, the story of a Negro slave called Caesar could possibly be the topic. We shall now review the legends of this "mythical ?" hero of the past.

Legend No. 1

It is written by one source that "Caesar" had escaped from his Southern owners and for years made the banks of Caesar's Creek his peaceful abode. One authority says, "It is not known whether he erected a rude cabin of logs to shield himself in foul weather, or occupied some cave in the Massie Township bluffs."
It is also written that Caesar could have possibly died and was buried by the side of the stream that bears his name. Others claimed that he had heard of the horrendous stories of the runaway slaves, and that he joined them on their route to Canada.
Legend says that the old-timers used to hear the wail of the Negro slave "lift up his rich voice among the hardwoods in; 'Oh mourner, brother, you shall be free, shout to glory, sister, you shall be free.'"

Legend No. 2

This writer has researched the old history books of Greene County, and has found in George F. Robinson's 1902 History, an account of some horses being stolen from the whites, the blame being placed on the Shawnee Indians.
An army was subsequently raised (in 1786) by General Benjamin Logan, which traveled northwesterly by way of Kenton's Trace to destroy the Shawnee village at Old Chillicothe and its inhabitants. (Kenton's Trace was an old trail that was opened by Simon Kenton that extended from Aberdeen, along the Ohio River, to Old Chillicothe.)

According to Robinson, General Logan's troops were to wait until the moon's brightest moment, upon which they were to surprise and destroy the village.
Our story goes that one of the officers had a slave with him named Caesar, who had learned of the plan, and also knew that Kenton's Trace led to the Shawnee Indian town.
When the army had quieted down, Caesar crept away, followed the trace, notified the Indians and fled with them.
The soldiers moved upon Old Chillicothe, destroyed the crops, and burnt the village, but found the Indians had fled. The creek afterwards was known as the creed where Caesar ran away.
The General most certainly had slaves accompanying him, but was Caesar among them?
Robin states in history that Caesar's Creek was named after the slave Caesar, the facts he received from Thomas Coke Wright, who claimed to have gotten his information from Simon Kenton.
Allan Eckert published in his book, Captain Johnny Logan, that the deserter was white and a Frenchman named Willis Chadley, rather than a Negro slave named Caesar.
However, Major James Galloway, in his letters to Lyman C. Draper, in 1846, mentions, "The deserter of Gen. Logan's troops was a Negro man." Caesar's Creek was named that only seven years after Gen. Logan's march.

Legend No. 3

Caesar's Creek Township, located in Greene County, is most assuredly named for the creek, which flows through it.
Broadstone's History of Greene County asserts that the creek took its name from the Negro servant of one of the officers who commanded the expedition of "Gen. George Rogers Clark" against Old Chillicothe on the Little Miami in 1794, a totally different army.
The story of Caesar's involvement is written as virtually the same as in Robinson's account, except his participation in a different army.

Legend No. 4

Another report goes that when Simon Kenton was being held by the Shawnee Indians as a prisoner in Old Chillicothe, he wished to escape. Caesar privately told Kenton that he couldn't help him to escape, but he could tell him where his creek was.
Caesar supposedly told Kenton he could take his (Caesar's) stream to the Little Miami River and on to the Ohio and refuge.
Whether truth or fiction, this writer, while searching through the many sources regarding the Negro slave, Caesar, and the naming of Caesar's Creek, can say with all due respect, that grounds for substantiation "is in the eyes of the beholder."

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This page created 14 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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