Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Symmes, John Cleves

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SYMMES, John Cleves, jurist, b. on Long Island, N.Y., 21 July, 1742; d. in Cincinnati, Ohio, 26 Feb., 1814. He was a delegate from Delaware to the Continental congress in 1785 and 1786, a judge of the superior court of New Jersey, and afterward chief justice of the same state. In 1787 he was appointed judge of the Northwest territory. In 1788 he obtained from the government a grant of 1,000,000 acres, bounded south by the Ohio, and west by the Miami, and was the founder of the settlements of North Bend, and Cincinnati thereon. His wife was a daughter of Gov. William Livingston, and his daughter Anna became the wife of William H. Harrison. - His nephew, John Cleves, soldier, b. in New Jersey in 1780; d. in Hamilton, Ohio, 28 May, 1829, entered the army as an ensign in the 1st infantry, 26 March, 1802, was a captain in the war of 1812, and served with credit at the battle of Niagara and in the sortie from Fort Erie. He subsequently resided at Newport, Ky., and devoted himself to philosophical pursuits. In 1818 he promulgated his theory that the earth is a hollow sphere, habitable within, and open at the poles for the admission of light, and containing within it six or seven concentric hollow spheres, also open at the poles. He wrote and spoke on the subject of his singular hypothesis, and petitioned congress in 1822 and 1823 to fit out an expedition to test the truth of his theory. During the winters of 1826-'7 he lectured on it before the students and faculty of Union college; but it was received with general ridicule, and the supposed aperture at the north pole was popularly called “Symmes hole.” He published “Theory of Concentric Spheres” (Cincinnati, 1826). An abstract of Symmes's theory and arguments appeared in the “Atlantic Monthly” for April, 1873. In 1876 Symmes's son AMERICUS VESPUCIUS, revived his theory. - Another nephew of the first John Cleves, Peyton Short, poet, b. in Sussex co., N.J., in 1793; d. in Mount Auburn, near Cincinnati, Ohio, 27 July, 1861, went to Ohio in his childhood as a pioneer, became registrar of the land-office at Cincinnati in 1827, and in 1830-'50 was a member of the board of health of that city. He was one of the trustees of the old Cincinnati college, and a supporter of the Western college of teachers which met annually at Cincinnati from 1833 till 1845. He wrote a life of his uncle, not yet published.