: This photographic reproduction of an engraving depicts the Blennerhassett Mansion, home of lawyer, planter, and politician Harman Blennerhassett (1765-1831). The artist who created the original pencil sketch in 1804 was an unknown Frenchman. The mansion achieved notoriety for being the headquarters of the so-called Burr Conspiracy, an attempt by Aaron Burr, former vice president of the United States, to aid the establish of a second empire in the Southwest.
As depicted here, the mansion was a two-story structure with a curved, one-story wing extending from both sides. The property is lined with mature trees and fencing. A group of farm animals (cattle) are grazing opposite the walkway that runs parallel to the house. Barely visible in the lower right corner of the illustration is the name of one of New York’s largest engraving firms, Lossing and Barritt.
In 1797, Blennerhassett, a wealthy Irish-born aristocrat, moved with his wife to Marietta, Ohio, where they purchased 174 acres of land on an island in the Ohio River. The land formerly belonged to George Washington. The island is located near Belpre, Ohio, and Parkersburg, West Virginia. The Blennerhassetts intended to make the island their home.
During their first years on the island, the Blennerhassetts lived in a blockhouse. In 1800, they moved into a mansion, where the couple lived the life of the wealthy. The Blennerhasetts were well known for their hospitality, and many travelers down the Ohio River stopped at the couple’s home. Their most famous guest was Burr.
In 1805 and 1806, the Blennerhassetts assisted Burr in his scheme to break away the western part of the United States to form a new country that he would lead. The federal government heard rumors of the uprising and sent a detachment of Virginia militia to seize the Blennerhassetts' island. Harman Blennerhassett was in hiding; his wife was away in Marietta. When she returned, she discovered that the militiamen had ransacked the home, and she fled with her three children. Her husband was arrested a few weeks later, but he quickly gained his release. The Blennerhassetts briefly returned to their mansion, but now destitute, they sought their fortunes in Mississippi. Their former island home, now under new ownership, burned in 1811. During the 1980s the mansion was reconstructed on its original foundations. The island is now a West Virginia state park.
View on Ohio Memory.
: AL05828 Subjects
: Blennerhassett Island (W. Va.); Blennerhassett, Harman, 1765-1831; Burr, Aaron, 1756-1836; Burr Conspiracy, 1805-1807; Ohio History--Settlement and Early Statehood Places
: Blennerhassett Island (West Virginia)