Put-In Bay - August 14, 2019

Put-in-Bay History

Put-in-Bay History dates back to the war of 1812 where Put-in-Bay became an important operations headquarters for Oliver Hazard Perry. One of 20 islands located in the western shallow end of Lake Erie, Put-in-Bay harbor served as the launching point from which Perry set sail to defeat the British fleet commanded by Robert H. Barclay in the war of 1812, This historic battle of Lake Erie and the American victory gave the United States Navy and our country the often quoted slogan “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”

Put-in-Bay History includes numerous tales of battles in the western Lake Erie area and the surrounding land areas, The Americans had suffered several embarrassing defeats in the early start of the war. In August of 1812, General William Hull attempted to invade Canada and the mission failed miserably which lead to the surrender of Detroit to the British. In the River Raisin, now known as Monroe Michigan, General James Winchester and his forces were soundly defeated in January of 1813. Later that year in May and August, Fort Meigs in Perrysburg Ohio and Fort Stephenson in Fremont Ohio were successfully defended against British and Indian invasions. September 10, 1813, was the turning point in the war. Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory over the British fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie utilizing the Put-in-Bay Harbor changed the face of the war in a single day. In October of 1813, General William Henry Harrison subsequently invaded Canada and defeated the Indians and the British at the River Thames.

Oliver Hazard Perry sailed the American fleet from Erie, Pennsylvania arriving in the bay of Sandusky Ohio on August 16th. While in Sandusky, Perry met with and strategized with American Generals Lewis Cass and Harrison thus planning the next actions to be taken in the campaign to defeat the British. Commanded by Captain Robert H. Barclay, the British fleet was located off the western horizon by a lookout in the brig Lawrence, Perry’s flagship.

Little did the British command know or to expect a hard charge by Perry and the American fleet hidden behind the Bass Islands. Friday, September 10th of 1813, Put-in-Bay History was made The Lake Erie Battle began at 11:45 in the morning eight miles northwest of Put-in-Bay and shortly after 3:00 pm that same day near West Sister Island the British were defeated and their control of Lake Erie came to a bloody end. The entire British fleet of 6 ships was captured. Oliver Hazard Perry scribed on the back of an old letter a note to William Henry Harrison the following:

U.S. Brig Niagara, Off Western Sister Island head of Lake Erie, Sept. 10, 1813, 4 p.m.
Dear General —
We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop.
Yours with great respect and esteem,
O.H. Perry

Put-in-Bay History was perhaps most notably shaped when in 1854 Joseph De Rivera, a Spanish merchant bought the Bass Islands including South Bass (Put-in-Bay Ohio) Middle Bass, Sugar Island, Gibraltar, Ballast and Stave Island for $44,000. He proceeded to develop the island first building a stave mill and a sawmill in the fall of 1854. De Rivera hired an engineer to survey the area and began to form 10 acre parcels. 42 of these parcels were sold in the first ten years on South and Middle Bass Islands. The current day downtown park at Put-in-Bay is aptly named De Rivera Park in his honor. To this day, a trust manages the park to preserve his wishes. His generosity again impacted Put-in-Bay History when for the sum of $1.00 he sold the South Bass Board of Education a quarter of an acre for the construction of Put-In-Bay’s first school.

For over 100 years Put-in-Bay Ohio has attracted tourists to a quaint but vibrant resort island. Today, over one million tourists annually enjoy the eclectic makeup of fun-filled activities including fishing, boating, caves, winery’s, and a vibrant nightlife. Put-in-Bay Hotels offer travelers comfortable modern accommodations and many with pools and swim up bars. The gem of the island the Put-in-Bay Resort is the island newest and largest full-service resort just a block from the downtown nightlife. The Edgewater Hotel was newly remodeled in 2017 and is the only modern hotel directly on the main strip across from the park and Put-in-Bay Docks. The Bay Lodging Resort has the islands only indoor-outdoor swimming pool just 2 blocks from the main area of town. For those seeking more of a rental home type accommodation, the Put-in-Bay villas offer vacationers 4 and 5 bedroom rentals also just a block from downtown

For more information on the history of Put-in-Bay History, we suggest you read Isolated Splendor by Robert Dodge where some of the information for this brief Put-in-Bay History page was obtained. Come to visit the South Bass Island, or Put-in-Bay as it is better known, and see for yourself!


Butterfly House
Joseph De Rivera

Put-in-Bay Park Tree Carving To Memorialize Founder Tree carving under construction in Put-in-Bay Park —The tree in DeRivera Park began its life an estimated 36 years before the founder of the Bass Islands arrived and purchased South, Middle, Gibralter, Ballast & Starve Island for the sum of $44,000. In 1854 Jose DeRivera, a Hispanic merchant arrived to the islands and completed the purchase. He then parceled off South Bass Island and began selling parcels, many at deeply discounted prices to various organizations. The school was built on land DeRivera sold for $1.00 and St Paul’s Church was constructed on land DeRivera sold for $ 10.00. DeRivera was one of the most influential men in Put-in-Bay History.

The tree carving memorial is expected to last at least at least 25 years and must be sealed annually to protect the exterior from damage. The tree is sure to be one of the most popular Put-in-Bay Attractions.

Joseph De Rivera St. Jurgo, 1813-1889
Entrepreneur and philanthropist Joseph (Jose) de Rivera was born in Barcelona, Spain, and built an import business in New York City. In 1854, he bought six Lake Erie Islands and had South Bass Island surveyed and subdivided into ten-acre lots. De Rivera traveled between New York and South Bass Island, initially turning Put-in-Bay into a sheep farm. He encouraged settlement on the island and its wine industry by helping German immigrants purchase land to plant vineyards. He donated five acres for this waterfront park, the site for the first school, and the land for the first church. To promote travel to the island, de Rivera opened the island's largest cave as a tourist attraction. He is buried in the island's cemetery, which is on land he donated for that purpose.

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