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The Piatts of Piatt Castles

"A History of Ohio in Words of One Syllable" written in 1888 by Annie Cole Cady, pages 137-141
A Noted Pioneer and His Sons

It is too often the case that the history of a place deals with the strife and wars which have torn it from time to time, and so we learn alone of such men as have been brave with sword or gun. Though these should no means be left out, there are others who may not have wielded the sword, yet have done quite as much for our land, and have as much or even more claim on our love and respect.

Of these, those brave men and women who gave up home and friends in the east, and came here to plan and lay out towns in this wild spot, that those who came after them might enjoy the fruits of their work - theirs are the names we should keep bright in our history and our thoughs.

Near the year 1800, Benjamin M. Piatt, then a young man, came with his bride, a Virginian of high birth, to live in Cincinnati. Mr. Piatt was a lawyer, and his sound sense and clear head soon made him the lead in public affairs. In time he was made Judge; and with his law partner, Nicholas Longworth, Esq., did much for the city in its young days. It is said that Mrs. Piatt had the first piano brought to Cincinnati. She did not dream that her taste, and wish to have her children well taught in all the things she had learned in Virginia, would be the first step towards making Cincinnati the music centre of the land; yet such was the case.

In the year 1828, Judge Piatt bought a large farm on the small stream which the Indians called Macochee, and on the spot where the Indian village of that name once stood.

Mrs. Piatt, whose taste was not confined to music alone, had the grounds laid out with great care; a large tract being filled with roses and other fine flowers. The place is still owned by Judge Piatt's sons.

The eighth of these, the well-known scholar and writer, Donn Piatt, was born in Cincinnati, January 29, 1819; he taught at the Athenaeum, now St. Xavier College, and later studied law. While President Pierce ruled our land, Mr. Piatt went to Paris as secretary to Mr. Mason, who was Minister to France. As Mr. Mason soon became too ill to attend to his duties, the whole charge of affairs fell to Mr. Piatt, and for more than a year were left in his hands. During this time, his wife, a bright lady, fair in face and mind, wrote under the name of "Belle Smith" letters to the "New Era" of Washington, then having for its head the well-known Gamaliel Baily. In time Donn Piatt started a paper in Washington called the "Capital" of which he was the head for a long time.

The fine sturdy traits of the judge are seen in this son, who has ever been noted for his firm, free views in the politics of the country and those things which go to make up our everyday life.

At present, Mr. Piatt is the Editor of "Belford's Magazine", one of the leading powers in our land. Like his father, he is fond of the peace and quiet which farm life gives; and when tired and worn by hard brain work, he flees to his home on the Macochee; where, among his friends, his books, and his farm work, he gives the rest and health which only Dame Nature can give.

Two years younger than Donn, is his brother, A. Sanders Piatt, one of the brave sons of Ohio. He was taught at the same college as his brother, and, like him, had the best traits of both parents. When his school life was done, he chose to live on the farm; and went back to his lands in the rich valley of the Macochee, where he wrote or tilled the soil as he liked.

When the war of the Rebellion broke out in our land, he was one of the first to obey his country's call. On April 30, 1861, he was made Colonel of the Thirteenth Ohio Infantry. Later he raised a regiment, and clothed and fed them for a month and six days with his own gold. This was called the first Zouave Regiment, from the fact that the men wore a fine red-legged uniform, which they were soon forced to give up.

As General Piatt did not join the army with the thought of making it his life work, after much brave fighting, he left the field and went back to the Macochee, where a large family of motherless children needed his care. Here he can still be found at work in his fields or in his pleasant study.

J. Wykoff Piatt, the first son of Benjamin, was one of the noted men of Cincinnati, and many years ago did a good deed for that city. As in most towns, when "fire" was cried, men and boys from all points rushed to the scene of the fire, and oft-times, by their wild yells and free use of water and the axe, did more harm than good. Mr. Piatt saw this, and tried long to have the men who were to put out fires ever ready at a call, and paid well for their work.

But the old style had kind of Fourth-of-July fun and frolic in it which most of the young folks did not like to give up. Though Mr. Piatt lost many friends by this course, he at last gained his way; and now his worst foes, if they still live, would not go back to the old style if they could.

Mr. John J. Piatt, a cousin of this family, though not born in the state, is claimed by Ohio people. His poems have made his name known through our land; while that of his wife, Sarah M. B. Piatt, is also known and loved by all who read our magazines."

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