Peter Sunderland

Samuel Spencer born on April 14th, 1698 in Yorkshire England. Born to the 3rd Earl of Sunderland Charles and his commoner wife Judith, Samuel was not entitled to any inheritance or title due to his mother’s status. This led Samuel and his family to immigrate to the United States in 1737 with his children, including son William. The family all took on the surname Sunderland upon their arrival in the United States. In 1770, William Sunderland married Sarah Barraclough in Burlington County, New Jersey. William and Sarah eventually came to Ohio in 1795 along with their 18-year-old son, Peter.

Peter went on to live a storied life in Centerville.

  • In 1799, Peter Sunderland married Nancy Robbins, the daughter of one of Centerville’s founders, Benjamin Robbins in what was the first wedding ceremony to be performed in Washington Township.
  • In 1802, Peter and his brother Richard bore witness to the first will filed in Montgomery County.
  • In 1803, Peter was the defendant/perpetrator in the first court case in Montgomery County, for assault and battery on a man named Benjamin Scott. The case was held on the upper floor of Newcom’s Tavern. He pled guilt and was fined $6. A year later Scott and Sunderland were back in court, but this time Scott was convicted.
  • Sunderland served in the War of 1812.
  • Around 1820, a stone house was built on Alex-Bell Road (where Fortis College and Cross Pointe Shopping Center are now). The house had a secret hiding place which was used as part of the Underground Railroad.
  • In 1826, a slave from Kentucky known as “Black John” took refuge in the Sunderland house. When a group of men came to “reclaim” John, Peter threatened them and yelled for Black John to escape. Black John ran into the nearby woods and disappeared.
  • After hearing a rumor of an Indian uprising, Peter built a large stone springhouse on his property to protect the area. When the land was being cleared in the early 1980s for development, the spring house was rediscovered and subsequently dismantled and reassembled in Stubb’s Park.

Peter Sunderland died October 2, 1841 at the age of 67 years old. He is buried in the Sugar Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Centerville along with his father, mother, and wife.

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