Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Information

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source:  The Mansfield News:  Saturday Evening, January 10, 1903


Submitted by Jean and Faye



Statesmen may argue - soldiers must fight.  When arguments failed in 1846 to settle the controversy between the United States and Mexico the question was referred to the arbitration of arms.
In 1819 the United States voluntarily gave Texas to Spain as a bonus for the cession of Florida, for which adequate compensation had already been given.  This act in the end led to the war with Mexico a quarter of a century later.  That war was begun for the re-acquisition of Texas and for enforcing the claim of that state to the territory east of the Rio Grande and for obtaining damages claimed by the citizens of the United States.
That war brought about unforeseen results which changed the history of the continent and added to the United States a territory larger than that of the thirteen American colonies at the time of the war of the revolution.
For that war with Mexico, Ohio furnished four regiments - forty companies - of troops.  There are eight-eight counties in the state and pro rata there would not have been a half company as the quota of each.  But Richland county furnished three companies, for her sons are ever ready to respond to their country's call.  These companies were commanded, respectively, by Capt. William McLaughlin, Capt. Thomas H. Ford and Capt. George Weaver.
And of the three hundred men who went forth to that war from this county more than half a century ago, but four of that number are now living, (if the information obtained for this article is correct), and the names of the survivors are:  Judge M. R. Dickey, of Cleveland; Jesse Ruth, who recently removed from Shelby to Greenville; Joseph McGarvey, an inmate of the Soldiers' Home at Sandusky, and Jacob Oyster, who lives in Washington township, two miles north of Bellville.  Mr. Oyster is the only survivor of the three mentioned companies who resides in Richland county at present.
There are, however, two other survivors of the Mexican war who are residents of Richland county, but they did not enlist from here, and did not become residents of the county until after the close of the war.  Their names are Samuel Frey, of Shelby, and James W. Downing, of Butler.  They served in different companies of the same regiment - the Seventh regulars - the First United States mounted riflemen.  Mr. Frey enlisted at Mr. Vernon in March, 1847.  Mr. Downing enlisted at Charlestown, Jefferson county, Va., July 29, 1846.
Samuel Frey was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, in 1821, and came to Ohio with his parents when he was an infant.  They first located in Muskingum, then in Knox county.  After enlisting at Mr. Vernon, Samuel Frey was sent to the United States barracks at Newport, Ky.  Then to New Orleans and from there to Vera Cruz and joined General Scott at Pueblo.  He was made a non-commissioned officer and before the close of the war became orderly sergeant of his company.  Sergeant Frey was first under fire at Contreas, Aug. 19 and 20, 1847.  Then followed the battle of Churubusco and he was in the command that crossed the Rio Churubusco and held the causeway which lead to the city.  Then came the battle of El Molino del Rey, Sept. 8.
On Sept. 13 the American troops carried the fortress of Chapultepec by storm.  The division of which Sergeant Frey's company was a part, supported the attacking party, then took the lead to the City of Mexico, by the way of the gates of Belen and San Cosme.  Over the Belen gate, General Quitman, after a sharp contest, waved the American flag as a token of victory.  General Worth led the column against the gate of San Cosme and in the fierce fight which ensued carried the last barrier to the Mexican capital.  On the night of Sept. 13, 1847, Santa Anna evacuated the City of Mexico and on the morning of the 14th General Scott's army took possession of the halls of the Montezumas.
Sergeant Frey remained in the City of Mexico for nine months, after which he was discharged, having enlisted for the war.
Samuel Frey has been a resident of Shelby for forty-seven years, twenty-nine of which were passed in railroad employment at the Junction, where, for seventeen years, he was bill clerk.  Although 82 years old Mr. Frey's appearance today is that of a prosperous business man of sixty.  He resides on Second street, Shelby, has a comfortable home and a lovely wife and two daughters.
James W. Downing was born in Virginia, Nov. 23, 1823.  He came to Ohio in 1851 and has been engaged in the mercantile business in Butler for nearly forty years.  He is in comfortable circumstances, financially, but is out of health and feeble.
Hostilities began on the Rio Grande under General Taylor in April, 1846, and Sergeant Downing enlisted on the 20th of July following, and his first engagement was under General Scott at Vera Cruz, where, after seven days' hard fighting, the Mexicans yielded to the inevitable and on the morning of the 20th of March the garrison marched out through the Gate of Mercy and stacked arms on the Plain of Cocos.
General Scott then started on that historical march of two hundred miles to the City of Mexico.  Sergeant Downing participated in all the battles along that long line of march and was one of the assaulting party at Chapultupec.  For this attack a call was made for two men from each company and Mr. Downing volunteered for the hazardous duty and was in the hottest of the fight.  He saw Gen. George E. Pickett tear down the Mexican colors and then plant the American flag in triumph on the summit of the castle.  For distinguished service in this assault, Sergeant Downing received a "Certificate of Merit," engrossed on parchment, signed by James K. Polk, president, and William I. Marcy, secretary of war.
Jacob Oyster was born in Columbiana county, Ohio, Nov. 7, 1825, and was 77 years old on his last birthday anniversary.  He came to Richland county when he was 10 years old.  Enlisted in Co. D, Fourth Ohio infantry under Capt. George Weaver May 16, 1847, and served until July 15, 1848, and was in nearly all the battles of the Mexican war.  He also served in the civil war and is now leading a peaceful, quiet life amid the hills of the gold region north of Bellville, where he owns a farm of eighteen acres.  He has been twice married.  His first wife bore him seven children, his second wife five - twelve children in all.  Although in humble circumstances and surroundings, Mr. Oyster is happy in the love and care given him by his wife and children.
These soldiers of the Mexican war receive the small pittance of $10 a month as a pension from the government, although their services helped to acquire a territory vast in extent, whose treasures surpass the fabled "wealth of Ormus and of Ind."  A. J. Baughman. 

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