Amy may have been as excited as James to come to their new home. She was a child of the frontier, born in Greene County in southwestern Pennsylvania. Not a delicate flower from the civilized East. She was used to hard work and the dangers of the frontier.
Amy made the trip with James and their six children from Greene County, Pennsylvania to what later became Ashland County, Ohio, mostly traveling on the rivers. The final leg of the trip in March, 1809, was by ox cart on an old Indian trail. They were the first white family to settle there.
Amy and James worked hard that first year. James and their oldest son Henry built a small log cabin with a dirt floor. The whole family worked to clear the land and plant some crops and a garden. Another child, Anna was born during that first year so Amy endured the hardships of the move and setting up housekeeping in their new home while expecting. Now, on top of all she had to do, she had a seventh child, a newborn baby to care for.
Life was good in the valley. More settlers came. The neighbors helped neighbors building cabins and barns, clearing land, and whatever else needed done. The neighbors, both white and Native American, pitched in and were friendly with each other for a few years.
Hostilities began arising throughout the area and the country leading into the War of 1812. By 1812, some of the neighbors and the Natives were no longer friendly and events, which are related in another story, led to Indian attacks on the settlers.
One of the major attacks was on the home of James and Amy Copus. The assault lasted for several hours. Early in the fight, James took a bullet from an Indian, who also received a bullet from the rifle of James. Again, with child, Amy was nursing her wounded husband and fifteen year old daughter Nancy, who had also been struck. All of this, while trying to hide the younger children in the loft and keep them quiet. Two of the soldiers who were supposed to be protecting the family were also wounded and two more lay dead outside the cabin. After an hour, James drew his last breath and Amy was left in the middle of an attack on her home with two wounded soldiers and her children.
When it was over, Amy and the children went to the fort nearby and stayed for a few weeks. One of the soldiers at the fort was her nephew. He took his pregnant aunt and her eight children to Guernsey County to the home of his parents. Amy and the children stayed with her sister’s family for three years until the war was over and it was safe to go home. Amy longed to go home and be where her beloved James had been laid to rest. When they returned to their home, the two story log house James had build after their first year, it was in need of repair after being empty and neglected for three years. The yard and fields had grown up in weeds. No strangers to hard work, Amy and her children set to restoring their home and property.
A neighbor, Joseph “John” Vail had lost his wife not long after Amy’s husband had been killed in the massacre. John and Amy became close and married on April 4, 1816, a year after Amy had returned to Copus Hill, in spite of their thirty-four year age difference. A little over a year following their marriage, on August 8, 1817, a daughter, Elizabeth was born to Amy and John. Amy now was the mother of ten children and the step-mother of fifteen, although John’s children were all adults.
Amy Church Copus Vail was born on September 1, 1775, in Greene County, Pennsylvania, to George and Jane (Gilmore) Church. She married James Copus in 1796 in Greene County. In March, 1809, she and James and their children moved to what became Mifflin Township, Ashland County, Ohio. Except for the three years she spent in the home of her sister, Margaret and her husband, Joseph Archer in Guernsey County, she lived in Mifflin Township until she passed away there on December 8, 1862 at the age of eighty-seven.
Her husband, James is buried at the site where their home was located on Copus Hill. Amy is buried by her second husband, John, across the valley from Copus Hill on the land where she and John had made their home.
See #52 Ancestors, “Lucky”, posted on 4/1/2018 for more of the Copus Massacre story. (April 2018 in Archives on right sidebar).