Disasters,  Notable

Patrick Run-Early Settlers and Murder

PLEASE NOTE: This post is a brief overview of the lives of Patrick and Hugh Fitzpatrick.  For a more detailed study of their lives and deaths, check out the book Patrick’s Run  by James McQuiston.

The Fitzpatrick’s came from Ireland to settle on a tract of land acquired from the Holland and North America Land Company (Between Tract 286 and 398)  Their stories are tales of hardship and demonstration of how unfair life can seem.

Patrick was the father and he had been a seaman on Lake Erie before locating in Sparta Township.  When the War of 1812 found its way to Erie and Commodore Perry, Patrick was sought out to pilot a small ship, the Trippe, in Perry’s fleet. During the fighting, like many others, he lost most of his hearing from the cannon shots.  Once the war ended, he was penniless and chose to remain in the Detroit area.  Here he became friends with a Catholic priest and assisted in rebuilding a church that had been burned.  He remained in the Navy until he aged and continued to receive a small salary.  When he separated from the navy, his priest friend started the process of requesting a pension.  After the church was finished and his friend died, he moved across the river into what is now Winsor, Ontario and shared a room in a boarding house with another man.

The daughter of the Boarding House master was molested and Patrick was blamed.  Following what lacked as a fair trial, and even though many who knew his character petitioned for his pardon he was brought to the shore of Lake Erie and hanged so that the people on the US shore could witness it.  Several years later, the man with whom he shared a room admitted on his deathbed that he was the one who had molested the girl.  Patrick is named in documents relating to the rejection of death penalties in Michigan today.

Hugh, Patrick’s son, lived with his wife near Patrick Run as well.  The creek derived its name from the Patrick’s.  The sad, heroic story of Hugh’s murder and his wife’s bravery has been told and printed many times.  Two renditions of the report are available from this post.


Retelling of the story from 1993 article

Story as told by a relative of Mrs. FitzPatrick:

(Based on news articles, recorded memories and the current owner’s comments)

This hillside area is the probable location of the cabin where Hugh FitzPatrick and his family lived at the time of the murder.

This field located just south of Route 77, on “old” route 77 is where Hugh was buried.  In descriptions, the grave was under a tree and marked by a stone bearing the FitzPatrick name.  The tree and stone are gone, but the current owner reports that a rectangular area of clay was visible in the area where he had been told the grave was.  When Hugh’s wife made the trip down to Patrick Run, this peaceful field was likely a forested area.  In mid winter her escape would have been extremely cold and difficult.  She traveled about 2 miles-partially in the freezing water of Patrick Run- to free herself and her child and to seek assistance.