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…bringing our past into the future

Erie County

ByCarol Eddleman

Apr 2, 2011



Erie County was created March 12, 1800, along with Crawford, Mercer, Venango
and Warren Counties, from Allegheny County, but formed as one county, under the
name of Crawford. On the 2nd of April 1803, Erie County was fully organized for
judicial purposes.

The county was named for Lake Erie, which in turn was named for the Indian
tribe of Eries who occupied the southern shore until about 1660 when they were
extirpated by the Iroquois or Five Nations.

Erie, the county seat, was laid out in 1795 on the site of Presque Isle,
a French fort built in 1749, the first of a chain of forts built along the
waters of the Allegheny River and the Ohio River to establish the claim of
France to the possession of the land drained by these rivers. Leaden plates
were buried at various places in 1749 as proof of possession. The French were
driven from the area by the English by the year 1760.

The town of Erie was incorporated as a borough on March 29, 1805 and as a city on April 14, 185the lake and because of its location, it is a noted shipping and manufacturing
center. Commodore Perry had his headquarters here during the War of 1812, and it was here that the fleet with which he defeated the British in the Battle of Put-in-Bay was built.

The most important historical event that has occured at Erie was the
building and equipment of Perry’s victorious fleet. Great Britain through its
possession of Canada maintained forts and ships which controlled the border
and threatened invasion into the United States and destruction of American
towns. To gain control of Lake Erie Captain Oliver Hazard Perry, then only 26 years of age, arrived at Erie on the 27th of February 1813, and immediately
urged on the work of building nine vessels. Several companies of volunteers
from the Juniata Valley were assigned to defend the border and a number of
them assisted to cutting timber and in manning the vessels during the battle
on the 10th of August 1813, which resulted in the capture and destruction of
the entire British fleet.

Among the county histories and biographical records of Erie County, the
following are available from the Hoenstine Rental Library on deposit of the
amount shown on the right:

THE HERO OF ERIE, by James Barnes, 167 pp., 1901.

HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY, by Warner, Beers & Co., 1245 pp., 1884.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE REED FAMILY, by John Elmer Reed, 44pp., 1946.

SOLDIERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, by Mary Knight Crane, 92 pp., 1929.

THE NIAGARA KEEPSAKE, by the Editoral Staff, Journal of American History,
New York, 96 pp., 1913. 

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