Fort Laurens is the only Revolutionary War Site in Ohio and was constructed in 1778 as a stepping stone to the West to stage attacks on the British at Fort Detroit during the American Revolution. The soldiers that built Fort Laurens started their journey at Fort Pitt in Pittsburgh made their way down the Ohio River to where they built Fort McIntosh, then crossed Delaware (Lenape) Lands to reach the site of present day Bolivar, Ohio about 20 miles south of Canton and 40 miles west of Pennsylvania.
The British learned of some activity in the area and sent a group of their Native American allies along with Simon Girty, a colonial who was a British sympathizer and liaison with the Lenape tribe. They discovered upon arrival near the site of Ft. Laurens an unsuspecting group of unarmed American Soldiers gathering wood, whom they ambushed and left thirteen dead. They then laid siege to the fort until starvation killed an additional number of soldiers, totaling 21 who lost their lives. The fort was abandoned in 1779 and demolished later as part of the building of the Erie Canal.
Currently, no parts of the original fort remain above ground, but archeology has identified the footprint of the fort and its outline as well as the graves of some of the Patriots who were massacred here. The site is currently listed as a National Revolutionary Memorial and annually ceremonies are held here by the Ohio Society of SAR, Friends of the Fort Laurens Foundation and the Zoar Community Association who are striving to some day re-construct this historically important structure.
On July 29, 2017 nine members of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution (CCSAR) joined over seventy others at a ceremony to honor the Patriots who lost their lives at Fort Laurens in 1778. They are: Donald McGraw; President Ohio Society SAR (OHSSAR); Turner Lee Wilkerson, Secretary OHSSAR; Jack Bredenfoerder, CCSAR President; Paul Wilke, past Vice President General SAR; James D. Schaffer, past OHSSAR President; Michael Gunn, Past CCSAR President; Shaun P. Smith; Connor M. Smith; and John Bradley Jarard.
Michael B. Gunn, Ph.D.
Past President, Patriot Graves Chair Cincinnati Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution
Patriot Biographies, Veterans and
Patriot Index/Rev War Graves Register