In 1850, Daniel Hertzler purchased 315 acres of land Southwest of the County seat of Springfield also formally known as the area of New Boston.
After tearing down the former cabin of Jonathan Donnels, Hertzler built his family home overlooking the Battle of Piqua battle site. Shortly thereafter, Hertzler developed the first private bank in Clark County as well as set up various mills on the banks of Buck Creek. On the crisp night of October 10, 1867, vandals broke into the Hertzler home and shot Daniel twice, once in the leg (severing a major artery, causing Hertzler to bleed to death) and once in the side. His wife, who had fled the home to a safer spot on the grounds after coming into contact with the vandals and with an ill infant child in her arms, meanwhile Daniels body lay on the upstairs bedroom floor until he was found in a pool of blood the following morning when the hired help returned and found his body. That in conjunction with the hundreds of Shawnee and soldiers that lost their life in the Battle of Piqua, make George Rodgers Park and the Hertzler house a spirit filled evening of events.
On the night of Saturday, October 15, the Hertzler house came to life, with a tour of the house and grounds in true historical Halloween fashion. Individuals and families as far as Miamisburg started lining up at the door an hour before the event, just to peek into the haunted history of Clark County. A walk through of the Clark County entrepreneurs home gave a visual reference as to just how Daniel Hertzler and his family lived, while keeping to the theme of Halloween. Greeted at the door, lay a tombstone from the grave of the late Christian Hertzler, the only surviving son of Daniel Hertzler who avoided the war with donated funds by his father and later died of consumption in the family’s home, on September 16, 1835.
A two hundred year old working loom, made to weave winding cloth, a garb made from the linen clothing of family members, and used to bury the dead in uniform fashion, to show that all were equal in Gods eyes. The fireplace where the famous hidden compartment lit with candelabras set the ambiance. Mrs. Hertzler wandered the home looking for her lost husband, while another woman sat in mourning, rocking ever so slightly whispering to those who passed by, as a 19th century organ played eerie sounds into the night, while event goers took in the sights.
Leading out the upper bedroom door and down into the magnificent front yard, continuing past the original site of the Donnels cabin, patrons awaited their wagon ride onto the grounds of the battle site. The first stop, introduced Blackhoof and a Native Shawnee trip member (re-enactors and volunteers Rusty Cottrel and Gary Bayard), told the truth of how the Shawnee Native Americans lost their land and lives to the settlers that came from Kentucky ( James DeMint, Simon Kenton, Daniel Boone and others). Blackhoof spoke in familiarity of the Shawnee language and explained that it was not an agreed upon treaty to pillage the land and its original inhabitants starting in the year 1780.
The next stop on the tour, told the story of young Sally Hertzler, one of four daughters of Daniel, whose young life was cut short of a childhood illness, ledged says that she still wonders the area in search of what she left behind. As the full moon rises to the sky, horse steps are heard and a headless horseman and the tail of his ride fill the air, alongside the distant cries for help as a soldiers wife weeps for her deceased husband.
Cannon and musket fire light the night in collaboration with the traditional Native American battle drums heard throughout the distance gave truth to just how brutal the grounds accepted the lives of the fallen without prejudice. The night continues with the recount of the Salem witch trials that also took place during the same period, along with carpetbaggers peddling their wares of concoctions, promised to ward off evil spirits and those knocking on deaths door.
With the tour of the grounds ending, event goers were offered a sweet treat, warm cider and stories by the fire for those of all ages to enjoy. Donna Lewis, Clark County Parks District programming coordinator, assured that this is always planned as a family fun event, incorporating local history and folklore with a bit of a spooky twist. All of those that took part to make this event happen were volunteers with the community or park district and all of the proceeds will help support future events held at the Daniel Hertzler House Museum located at 930 South Tecumseh Road.