|Salmon Peter Swetland|
|Birth: ||Sep. 4, 1792|
|Death: ||1827, USA|
History of the Great Lakes, Vol. 1 by J.B. Mansfield
Chapter XXXIII, Chapter 33
After the War of 1812
An Adventure on Lake Erie. - The adventure of Salmon Sweatland, of Conneaut, who crossed Lake Erie in an open canoe, in September, 1817, is one of unusual interest. He had been accustomed, with the aid of a neighbor, Mr. Cousins, and a few hounds, to drive deer into the lake, where, pursuing them in a canoe, he shot them with but little difficulty. The circumstances which took place at this time, are vividly given in the annexed extract from the records of the Historical society, published in Howe's "Historical Collections of Ohio":
"It was a lovely morning in early autum(sic), and Sweatland, in anticipation of his favorite sport, had risen at the first dawn of light, and without putting on his coat or waistcoat left his cabin, listening in the meantime in expectation of the approach of the dogs. His patience was not put to a severe trial ere his ears were saluted by the deep baying of the hounds, and on arriving at the beach he perceived that the deer had already taken to the lake, and was moving at some distance from the shore. In the enthusiasm of the moment he threw his hat upon the beach, his canoe was put in requisition and shoving from the shore he was soon engaged in rapid and animated pursuit. The wind, which had been fresh from the south during the night and gradually increasing, was now blowing nearly a gale, but intent on securing his prize, Sweatland was not in a situation to yield to the dictates of prudence. The deer, which was a vigorous animal of its kind, hoisted its flag of defiance, and breasting the waves stoutly showed that in a race with a log canoe and a single paddle he was not easily outdone.
"Sweatland had attained a considerable distance from the shore and encountered a heavy sea before overtaking the animal, but was not apprised of the eminent peril of his situation, until, shooting past him, the deer turned towards the shore. He was, however, brought to a full appreciation of his danger when, on tacking his frail vessel and heading towards the land, he found that with his utmost exertions he could make no progress in the desired direction, but was continually drifting further to sea. He had been observed in his outward progress by Mr. Cousins, who had arrived immediately after the hounds, and by his own family, and as he disappeared from sight, considerable apprehensions were entertained for his safety.
"The alarm was soon given in the neighborhood, and it was decided by those competent to judge that his return would be impossible, and that unless help could be afforded he was doomed to perish at sea. Actuated by those generous impulses that often induce men to peril their own lives to preserve those of others, Messrs. Gilbert, Cousins and Belden took a light boat at the mouth of the creek and proceeded in search of the wanderer, with the determination to make every effort for his relief. They met the deer returning toward the shore nearly exhausted, but the man who was the object of their solicitude was nowhere to be seen. They made stretches off shore within probable range of the fugitive for some hours, until they had gained a distance of five or six miles from land, when meeting with a sea in which they judged it impossible for a canoe to live, they abandoned the search, returned with difficulty to the shore, and Sweatland was given up for lost.
"The canoe in which he was embarked was dug from a large white-wood log for a fishing boat; it was about fourteen feet in length and rather wide in proportion, and was considered a superior one of the kind. Sweatland continued to lie off, still heading toward the land, with the faint hope that the wind might abate, or that aid might reach him from the shore. One or two schooners were in sight in course of the day, and he made every signal in his power to attract their attention, but without success.
"Fortunately Sweatland possessed a cool head and a stout heart, which, united with a tolerable share of physical strength and power of endurance, eminently qualified him for the part he was to act in this emergency. He was a good sailor, and as such would not yield to despondency until the last expedient had been exhausted. One only expedient remained, that of putting before the wind and endeavoring to reach the Canadian shore, a distance of about fifty miles. This he resolved to embrace as his forlorn hope.
"It was now blowing a gale, and the sea was increasing as he pro- ceeded from the shore, and yet he was borne onwards over the waters by a power that no human agency could control. He was obliged to stand erect, moving cautiously from one extremity to the other, in order to trim his vessel to the waves, well aware that a single lost stroke of the paddle or tottering movement would swamp his frail bark and bring his adventure to a final close. Much of his attention was likewise required in bailing his canoe from the water, an operation which he was obliged to perform by making use of his shoes, a substantial pair of stoggies, that happened fortunately to be upon his feet.
"Hitherto he had been blessed with the cheerful light of heaven, and amidst all his perils could say, 'The light is sweet, and it is a pleasant thing for the eyes to behold the sun;' but to add to his distress, the shades of night were now gathering around him, and he was soon enveloped in darkness. The sky was overcast, and the light of a few stars that twinkled through the haze alone remained to guide his path over the dark and troubled waters. In this fearful condition, destitute of food and the necessary clothing, his log canoe was rocked upon the billows during that long and terrible night. When morning appeared he was in sight of land, and found that he had made Long Point, on the Canada shore. Here he was met by an adverse wind and a cross sea, but the same providential aid which had guided him thus far still sustained and protected him; and after being buffeted by the winds and waves for nearly thirty hours, he succeeded in reaching the land in safety.
"What were the emotions he experienced on treading once more 'the green and solid earth' we shall not attempt to inquire, but his trials were not yet ended. He found himself faint with hunger and exhausted with fatigue, at the distance of forty miles from any human habitation, whilst the country that intervened was a desert filled with marshes and tangled thickets, from which nothing could be obtained to supply his wants. These difficulties, together with the reduced state of his strength, rendered his progress towards the settlement slow and toilsome. On his way he found a quantity of goods, supposed to have been driven on shore from the wreck of some vessel, which, although they afforded him no immediate relief, were afterwards of material service.
"He ultimately arrived at the settlement and was received and treated with great kindness and hospitality by the people. After his strength was sufficiently recruited, he returned with a boat, accompanied by some of the inhabitants, and brought off the goods. >From this place he proceeded by land to Buffalo, where, with the avails of his treasure, he furnished himself in the garb of a gentle- man, and finding the Traveler, Capt. Charles Brown, from Conneaut, in the harbor, he shipped on board and was soon on his way to rejoin his family. When the packet arrived off his dwelling, they fired guns from the deck, and the crew gave three loud cheers. On landing he found his funeral sermon had been preached, and had the rare privilege of seeing his own widow clothed in the habiliments of mourning."
Betsey Talcott Swetland (1794 - 1871)*
Leonard Swetland (1825 - 1896)*
Specifically: I have never located his grave. Some say he was killed in an accidental explosion on July 4, 1827 in Boston. Others say he died in a farm accident in Bristol, Trumbull County, Ohio
Created by: Robin Wallace Brown
Record added: Aug 16, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 40730677