Friday, February 9, 2018

The Journal of Robert Lucas -- Founders of Lucasville


Lucasville will celebrate its Bicentennial in 2019. The settlement and town have a storied history rivaling that of any other habitation on the Ohio frontier. Who put the “Lucas” in “Lucasville”? It turns out that a very notable family did so in a very distinguished fashion. Allow me to present just a little about the founders. There is much more to local history than a footnote … much, much more. I hope you explore and find the rewards for yourself.

One of the Lucasville settlers (His brother John is credited as "the" Founding Father of Lucasville.), Robert Lucas (1781-1853), the twelfth governor of Ohio, was born in Shepherdstown, West Virginia on April 1, 1781. He was the son of William Lucas and Susannah Barnes. Lucas came from a Quaker family whose roots stretched back to 1679 in Pennsylvania, though the family had recently relocated to Virginia. His education was attained through private tutors that focused on mathematics and surveying.

According to family legend, Robert's uncle, Joseph Barnes, built a steam-powered boat long before Fulton's invention. Robert received some early schooling in mathematics and surveying, skills which would prove invaluable to his future work. At about the age of 19 Lucas moved to the Scioto Valley of the Northwest Territory, where he was appointed surveyor of Scioto County in 1803. He was preceded by other family members, including two older brothers and a cousin. One brother would later become a general, while his other brother and his cousin would become Ohio legislators. The family bought large parcels of land in Ohio; eventually the nearby town of Lucasville was named for them.

Robert Lucas also joined the state militia, rising in the ranks to brigadier general by the time of the War of 1812. He briefly served under Major General Duncan McArthur before joining General William Hull's campaign against Canada. He also held a rank of captain in the regular army for a short time but resigned from that position in early 1813 to devote his time to his militia duties. Lucas saw no additional combat during the war, although after the war he was promoted to major general and made commander of the Second Militia Division.

During the disastrous Hull campaign in the War of 1812, Robert Lucas was in constant service and in a position which brought him in contact with every phase of the campaign. He kept a daily journal of the events, which is distinctly valuable in that it gives a contemporaneous view of the campaign from the standpoint of an actual participant. It has been carefully preserved by the descendants of Robert Lucas.

In the war, the need for volunteers was urgent, and Lucas threw himself into the enlistment with all his enthusiasm. Instead of waiting for a position as officer, which he could undoubtedly have had after the organization of his own troops into volunteer companies, he enlisted from the first as a private in the companies, which chose his brother John Lucas as Captain. His purpose seems to have been to encourage enlistments among the men of his brigade. His name remained upon the company roll throughout the campaign, but he seems to have preferred the independent duties of a scout, guide, express, and ranger, as the journal clearly shows.

Thus, Robert Lucas was at one and the same time a Captain in the United States Army, a Brigadier General in the Ohio Militia, and a private in a volunteer company.

The volunteer companies started on their march to the rendezvous at Dayton, Ohio, on April 37, 1819; and from this point, the Robert Lucas Journal tells its own story.

The record is entirely in the handwriting of Robert Lucas. It was written in camp and on the march; for he evidently carried the journal with him throughout the campaign. On August 25, as he was leaving Cleveland on his return home he records: "I here got a knapsack and fil[l]ed it with my uniform cloth[e]s hat, my Journal, and Such other aleticles as I did not wish to leave."

Allow me to share Lucas's journal with you. It is available in its entirety online. Perhaps you would like to read this incredible firsthand historical account at

The manuscript online is The Robert Lucas Journal: The War of 1812 During the Campaign Under General Hull by John C. Parish, published in Iowa City, Iowa, in 1906 by the State Historical Society of Iowa.

To whet your appetite, here are the first entries in the Robert Lucas Journal:

“Received orders in Scioto County to march a Company of Volunteers and a Rifle Company from said County to Detroit – Issued orders on the 25th April 1812 Directing Said Companies to march on the 27th, and assemble at Wm Lucas 12 miles up Scioto – Met part of said Companies at Portsmouth on the day appointed and commenc[e]d the march accompanied by a number of the Citizens as a testimony of gratitude for the patriotism manifested in said County –”

[Tuesday, April the Twenty-eighth]

“28th Both Companies having assembled they proceeded to march to Pe Pee (small creek in what is now known as Pike County) and Encamped”

[Wednesday, April the Twenty-ninth]

“on the morning of the 29th the Volunteer Company, having been joined by the Volunteers from Pe Pee, an election was ordered, when John Lucas (younger brother of Robert Lucas) was elected Captain Dennis Murphy Lieutenant, and Joseph Barber Ensign, the Rifle Company having been previously organized David Rupe Capt Tho Arnold Lut and Richard McDougal Ensign – Both of Said Companies thus organized proceeded on their march to Chillicothe, where they Encamped and Drew provisions --”


“Robert Lucas (1781-1853).” Familypedia.

Robert Lucas Journal.

 Robert Lucas House at Friendly Grove

No comments: