By Beverley Bittner, From Steppin’ Out, 1973.
The full title is “Olden Times, or a History of the Settlement of Union Township and Vicinity.” The writer is David Wilson. His parents, Hugh and Hannah Wilson, settled in the Union area in 1797. David’s book was published in 1881 by the Times Steam Printing House in Union City.
The following is a chapter from David Wilson’s book:
“I will now write something about a man who did not live in Union except for a short time, yet he lived near by and was well known by all in the settlement. Michael Hare has had some very absurb (sic) things written about him since his death.
“About a mile north of the city of Corry and a few rods east of Hare’s Creek may be seen a clump of old apple trees which mark the spot where Michael Hare and Betty, his wife, built their cabin in the wilderness about eighty-four years ago (about 1797).
“They came with the first settlers. The creek was named for him, because he lived on its banks. After some years, Michael moved near French Creek, and made several moves in that vicinity before his death. He was a weaver by trade, and if any of the neighbors had a piece of fancy work that ordinary weavers could not do, such as double coverlets or bagging of double thickness, twilled on one side and plain on the other, if they would send for Mr. Hare, he would go, be it far or near, and rig up their loom and show them how to weave it, and charge the sum of two dollars.
“The writer has a bag that will hold three bushels, woven by Mr. Hare. It may rot in time, but we are satisfied it will never wear out. At such times (when he was weaving) he was free to talk of his own history, and what he had passed through, and boys who were present would be deeply impressed with the more thrilling incidents of his life, remembering them long.
“He had been a soldier in the American Revolution, and under Col. Rogers he had been down to New Orleans to bring up boats loaded with provisions, to supply stations along the Ohio River, and on their return, at the mouth of Licking River in Kentucky, the place where the city of Covington now stands, they were attacked by a large body of Indians, and after a desperate fight in which Col. Rogers and about sixty of his men were killed, some of their boats were captured.
“Michael Hare was taken prisoner and marched to northern Ohio, where he became acquainted with Simon Girty, the renegade white man, who was such a terror to all the settlers on the frontier in those days. He said also that he was present when Col. Crawford was burned at Sandusky. We find the date of the battle in which Michael was taken prisoner in 1779, and Col. Crawford was burned in 1782, so Michael must have been a captive at least three years, and probably he did not get out of the Indians’ clutches until the close of the war, which was a year later.
“When asked about his age, Hare said that he had lost the record long ago, and could not tell his age, and this is not strange when we consider the events of his life. But from the date of certain events he knew he was quite old, and before his death said he was more than a hundred years old.
“After his death, however, an Erie newspaper fixed his age at 115, and it stood at that until a year later, when a Buffalo newspaper wanting to make it a little more marvelous, said he was 116 when he died, and that he was proved alive every year until 1843 when he died, and that he was a British soldier all through the Revolutionary War.
“This article was copied in the New York Times and perhaps many other papers, and when we read it, we thought that if Michael could be permitted to come back, perhaps he would like to try his old flint lock on the man who first wrote that he had carried arms under the British flag against the colonies!”
Mr. Wilson concludes his chapter on Michael Hare by stating, “Michael had two sons. James lived in Union and John in Waterford Township, but they are both long since dead. He has grandchildren and great- grandchildren still among us.”
Other facts (and some legends) about Michael Hare:
* He was born June 10, 1727 in Armaugh County, Ireland.
* He had studied for the priesthood.
* He was scalped by Indians but survived.
* At age 100 he taught school, first in his cabin then later in a school built in his vicinity.
* He was given a grant of land as payment for his service in the Revolutionary War.
* At age 80 he was granted a pension of $96 a month and $1, 000 in back pay.
* At age 85 he walked to Erie and offered his services to Captain Forster in the War of 1812.
Beverley Bittner (1930–2006) was born in Dunkirk, NY, a daughter of Paul and Doris Blakeslee. She was raised and educated in Spartansburg, Pennsylvania where she graduated from Spartansburg High School in 1948. She moved to Corry, Pennsylvania in 1960, and resided there until 1979 when she moved to Cleveland, Ohio, for several years. She was the Associate Editor for the Union Gospel Press in Cleveland, and was a free-lance writer for various religious publications. She had a special interest in history, wrote about veterans of World War II, and wrote and published a series of five novels about the history of western Pennsylvania and the origins of the local oil industry. She founded the Writer’s Block in 1999 after moving back to Corry and served as a mentor to other writers until her death in 2006.