Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Abram Piatt, born May 2, 1821

Abram Sanders Piatt was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of  Benjamin McCullough Piatt of Ohio and Elizabeth Barnett of Virginia. His father was a Federal Circuit Judge and entrepreneur engaged in land development and flat boat trade in Cincinnati.  

Piatt Park in Cincinnati, donated by Abram's father, Benjamin, and uncle, John
Benjamin Piatt moved his family to Logan County, Ohio, in 1828.

Jacob Piatt, Abram's Grandfather
On November 10, 1840, Abram married his Kentucky-born first cousin Hannah Anna Piatt at  the home of his grandfather, Jacob Piatt, in Boone County, Kentucky. Abram and Anna eventually would have eight children. 

He attended the Athenaeum, (now Xavier University) in Cincinnati before returning home to the Mac-a-cheek Valley in Logan County, where he became a prosperous farmer.

He was 40 years old when the Civil War began.

Logan County, Ohio
In 1846, Piatt studied law briefly, and began editing and publishing the local Mac-a-cheek Press newspaper.

Piatt's wife, Anna, died April 10, 1861, in Macochee, Ohio, as the American Civil War was beginning.  A grief-stricken Abram became the colonel of the three-months' 13th Ohio Infantry Regiment on April 30, leaving his children in the care of a servant and his other family members. 

Later that summer, he raised a new three-years' regiment, the 34th Ohio Infantry, and clothed and fed them for a month and six days with his own money. The regiment became known as "Piatt's Zouaves" for their early zouave attire. 

One of "Piatt's Zouaves", 34th Ohio Infantry
Piatt also raised and equipped the 54th Ohio Infantry, which went into the field under the command of Thomas Kilby Smith.

Camp Dennison
On September 1, 1861, Piatt and the 34th moved to Camp Dennison near Cincinnati.  The regiment then was ordered to western Virginia later in the month.  It  saw its first combat action at Chapmanville, Virginia on September 25. 

During the fall and winter months, Piatt's Zouaves were on picket and scouting duty, and engaged in occasional skirmishing. In May 1862, the regiment fought with the Confederates forces under Humphrey Marshall near Princeton.

In 1862, Piatt was promoted to brigadier general and assigned command of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Headquarters, Mountain Department.  Later serving in the Army of the Potomac, he saw action at the Second Battle of Bull Run that August.

Aftermath of Second Bull Run
In the fall of 1862, Piatt and his regiment were detached from the Army of the Potomac and served in the Defenses of Washington, thereby missing the Battle of Antietam in September.

Battle of Fredericksburg
He badly injured his back when his horse stumbled and brought both of them to the ground during the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 12, 1862. As a result of his injury, he resigned from the army on February 17, 1863.

His older brother, Donn Piatt, became a staff officer in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Donn Piatt
Abram married again and resumed farming.  He and his brother both prospered.  After the war, they built a pair of castles near West Liberty, Ohio.  Mac-O-Chee (the home built by Donn) and Mac-A-Cheek (built by Abram) were begun in 1864.   Mac-A-Cheek was completed in 1871, and Mac-O-Chee completed in 1879. The homes were built only about 3/4 of mile apart from each other.

Abram was a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, 1865–66, and was the Washington correspondent of the Cincinnati Commercial from 1868-71.  He established and edited, with George Alfred Townsend, the Capital, a weekly newspaper, at Washington, D.C., 1871–72, and was its editor-in-chief, 1873-80.  He was arrested in 1876 by order of President Ulysses S. Grant on the charge of inciting the people through his paper to rebellion, insurrection and riot. 

Ulysses Grant

Abram retired to his estate Mac-a-cheek in 1880 and devoted himself to literary work. He edited Belford's Magazine from 1888-89.

Abram Piatt on horse at Mac-A-Cheek Castle
He died in 1908 from cancer at the age of 86.  He was buried in the nearby Piatt Cemetery.

Piatt's Tomb
Tours at Mac-A-Cheek began in 1912, four years after the death of Abram. 

When William McCoy Piatt (the fourth son of Abram) inherited the home, he had already amassed a large collection of artifacts and objects of interest. After commissioning a custom cabinet to display his collection, William opened his home to visitors who wished to view his Cabinet of Curiosities
William McCoy Piatt
Thus the family got into the tourist business, though it was a minor industry compared to the farm and grist mill located on the property.  Touring continued with the family living in the home until 1985, when the family moved out of their home. The Piatt family still owns and manages the museums.

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