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Fairfield County, Ohio
History & Genealogy



Pioneer Period and Pioneer People of Fairfield Co., Ohio.
by C. M. L. Wiseman
Publ. F. J. Heer Printing Co., Columbus, O.  1901

Transcribed by Sharon Wick

Pg. 30

    FAIRFIELD County, Ohio, was the eighth county in order of time, formed out of territory now within the bounds of Ohio.  Governor St. Clair issued his proclamation for the organization dated Dec. 9, 1800, and named New Lancaster as the county seat.  It was formed out of a portion of Ross and Washington.  The northern boundary was the Indian treaty line, which ran from Fort Laurens on the Tuscarawas river to Ft. Recovery on the Wabash.  The present counties of Perry, Licking, Knox, Delaware and Franklin were within its borders.  The people of Licking County paid taxes at Lancaster as late as 1806.
     The first session of the Court of quarter sessions, the county, was held in Lancaster, Jan. 12, 1801, in a log house.  Emanuel Carpeter Sr., was the presiding judge and Nathaniel Wilson Sr., Samuel Carpenter and Daniel Van Metre were his associates, Samuel Kratzer was the sheriff.
     There were two attorneys who were sworn and authorized to appear before the Court, William Creighton and Alexander White.  Creighton achieved distinction and White died in a year or two.  General Sanderson states that he was a man of ability.
     The first county commissioners appointed by this Court were Nathaniel Wilson Jr., James Denny, and Jacob Van Metre.
     Oct. 12, 1802, Emanuel Carpenter, Sr., and Henry Abrams were chosen to represent Fairfield County in the Constitutional Convention.
     The first Common Pleas Judge to hold court in Fairfield County after the adoption of the State Constitution was , Wyllis Silliman a man of ability and high character.  This was in 1803.  Hugh Boyle was appointed clerk of the Court.  William Creighton, Alexander White, Philemon Beecher, Willialm W. Irvin and Robert F. Slaughter appeared as attorneys.
     A brick court house was built in 1806, General John Williamson and his partner Hampson were the contractors.
     Robert F. Slaughter succeeded Silliman to the Common Pleas bench in 1805.  He was a good lawyer and a good judge, but it has been told of him, that he would adjourn court for a good horse race.  He was a Virginia gentleman and no doubt had a taste for that favorite sport.
     Dr. William Irwin, Henry Abrams, Jacob Burton and Robert Cloud and Elnathan Scofield were early associate judges of the Common Pleas Court, also Emanuel Carpenter appointed in 1809.  David Swayze and John Augustus.  Hon. Leven Belt succeeded Judge Slaughter, March 1807.
     At the May term in 1803, the first Common Pleas Court, Hugh Boyle was appointed clerk.  This position he held for thirty years.  A license was granted Peter Reber to keep hotel or tavern in Lancaster, one to William Trimble to keep tavern on Zane's trace east of Lancaster, one to James Black and one to Samuel Hammil, to keep tavern in Newark, Ohio.
     For the January term 1804, there were forty-three cases on the docket.
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     For the year 1805, there were on the docket 136 civil case.  The docket does not show the names of counsel.  In the early courts the indictments were chiefly for retailing liquor without license or for assault and battery.
     The civil suits were seldom for large amounts and much of the time of the Court was taken up with guardianships and estates.  This latter business was often attended to by the associate judges.
     The records of the Common Pleas Court of Fairfield County sow some matters of unusual interest and new to this generation.  At the March term a prisoner was tried upon an indictment procured at the January term, 1807, Judge Levin Belt on the bench.
     It was the State of Ohio vs. Susan Pealt.
She was tried by a jury of good men, viz: Jacob Beery, Joseph Hunter, Christian Crumley, David Rees, Jeremiah Conway, Edward Strode, Abraham Heistand, David Arnold, John Berry, George W. Selby, Peter Fetter and Christian Foglesong.
The defendant was found guilty, and a motion made for arrest of judgment which was overruled, the Court sentenced the defendant to receive "eight stripes on her naked back," and pay the costs of prosecution.  This conviction was under an old territorial law that was still in force.
     Judge William Wilson succeeded Judge Belt as Common Pleas Judge in 1808, and served continuously until 1820, when he was succeeded by John A. McDowell, who served four years. 
     Gustavus Swan was on the bench from 1824 to 1829.  Frederick Grimke succeeded Swan in 1830.  A H. Keith succeeded Grimke in 1837.
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     Robert F. Slaughter, John B. Orton of Perry County, Richard Douglas of Ross County were early prosecuting attorneys of Fairfield County.  Thomas Ewing was appointed in 1817 and served until 1830.  He was succeeded by Hocking H. Hunter, who served until 1837, without an exception, they became able and distinguished lawyers.  Judges Silliman, Belt, Grimke and Keith lived in Chillicothe, Judges Swan and McDowel in Columbus, and Judge Wilson in Newark.
     In 1806, there were within the bounds of Fairfield County, one thousand five hundred and fifty-one tax payers.  The presumption is that they were nearly all voters.  In that year Edward Tiffin was voted for for governor and received 327 votes in Fairfield County.  A very small vote for so many tax payers.  In 1808 Samuel Huntington received 973 votes, Thomas Worthington 192 and Thomas Kirker 3 votes.   Opposition seems to have brought out the vote.
     David Reece, William Trimble, Philemon Beecher, William W. Irvin, E. B. Merwin, Thomas Ijams, Richard Hooker, Sr., Nathaniel Wilson Sr., Emanuel Carpenter, Jr., John Leist, Ben. Smith, Jacob Claypool, Valentine Reber, George Sanderson, Jacob Burton, Robert F. Slaughter and Elnathan Scofield, represented Fairfield County, in the early history, in the General Assembly of Ohio.
     Philemon Beecher and William W. Irvin, became members of Congress - Irvin first serving as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio.
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     The first meeting houses in the county according to the best information obtainable were built in the townships of Richland, Rush Creek and Bloom.
     There may be some question as to priority.  There is little doubt however, but that Richland Chapel, hewed log structure was built as early, if not before 807.  This building stood on the land of Daniel Stevenson and it was built by the Methodists.  A camp meeting was held in the grove, in that year, near the church, which was attended by Bishop Asbury.  He had preached in the cabins of that neighborhood in 1803 and formed a society.  The Presbyterians built a hewed log church in the same year on Rush Creek south of the present town of West Rushville.  Rev. John Wright of Lancaster had previously preached in the neighborhood.
     The Glick church was built in an early day and was the first in Bloom township.  It was built by the Evangelical Lutherans.  The Methodists society of New Salem, built a hewed log meeting house in 1822, the preachers called it Lewis' Chapel in honor of Tilman Lewis, who gave the land on which it was built.
     The first religious society formed in Fairfield County, Ohio, or in the country before it was a county, was complsed of Methodists who had emigrated from near Baltimore, Maryland.  The members were Edward Teal, the class leader, and wife, Jesse Spurgeon and wife, Ishmael Dew and wife, Nimrod Bright and wife and Elijah Spurgeon and wife, ten in all.
     Rev. James Quinn visited this little band of Christians, in December, 1799, and preached in their cabins, spending one week with them.  This settlement was
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three miles east of Lancaster on Pleasant Run, where Amos Webb now lives.
     The first Methodist quarterly meeting was held at the house of John Murphey, one mile west of West Rushville.  Bishop Asbury and Daniel Hitt were present.  To-day in every township of the county there are numerous Methodist Churches.
     The first funeral in the county was that of William Green, May, 1798, one month after Captain Hunter's settlement.  Nathaniel Wilson and his sons had just arrived in the new settlement and Colonel Robert Wilson was at the funeral.
     The Predestinarian Baptist Church of Pleasant Run was organized in 1806.  Abraham Hite, Rev. John Hite, Aaron Ashbrook, Emanuel Ruffner, Rev. Lewis Sites, Martin Coffman, Eli Ashbrook and Christian Coffman were prominent members.  The society at Walnut Creek was organized in 1816.
     Turkey Run has been a small but respectable society for many years.  The early preachers of this denomination were, Rev. George DeBolt, Rev. John Hite, Rev. Lewis Sites, Rev. Eli Ashbrook, Rev. Cave and Rev. Tunis Peters.
The Evangelican Association is quite strong in Fairfield County.  The churches must exceed twenty in number, all well attended.  Frederick Shower a missionary of this society came to the county in 1816.  He labored with more or less success, but it was not until 1830 that the first church was built.  This was built on the farm of John Bright, on Poplar, in Liberty township.
     The first mill in the county was built by Joseph Loveland and Hezekiah Smith, at the upper falls of Hockhocking in 1799.  It was a grist and saw mill
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combined.  They came from New England and for twenty years were enterprising men of Fairfield County.  Tradition says that they kept a small store at their mill and that the goods were brought on pack horses from Detroit.  They also made and sold whisky, charging one dollar per quart.  They traded with the Indians and their place was often the scene of a drunken row.  Joseph Loveland, so tradition has it, married a Miss Shallenberger, of Berne township.
     The next mill built in the county was by the Carpenters, one mile below the present city of Lancaster, and where the mill of Abraham Deeds now stands.  The next in order was built by Jacob Eckert, who married Sallie Shallenberger.  This was followed by one built by Abraham Ream in 1804.  These mills were all located on the Hockhocking.
     The first tan-yard in the county was owned by Jonathan Lynch, on the Baldwin farm.  This was in 1799.  Gen. Lynch was the first tanner to locate in Lancaster.
     David and Henry Shallenberger built a mill about the time the Carpenter mill was built.  Water mills soon became numerous upon every stream in the county - most of them have gone to decay and steam has taken the place of water.  It is believed that the first steam mill was built by Capt. A. F. Witte, a German, two miles west of Lancaster.  This was built in 1830, a distillery being a part of the equipment.
     Distilleries, small in capacity, were numerous in every township of the county during the first twenty-five years of its history.
     In a later period the most noted establishments of this kind were owned by Judge Chaney, Capt. Joshua
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Clarke, Capt. A. F. Witte, J. M. Ashbrook, Jerry Miller and Rodepouch.  They made high wines which were shipped by canal to be rectified elsewhere.
     The great temperance reform, inaugurated in 1842, created such a public sentiment that the small ones still in existence closed up and in a very few years the larger ones either failed or voluntarily closed up.  The Mithoff distillery of Lockville was the last to wind up - this was in 1862.  The stock on hand made them a small fortune.
     Thomas Cessna, who lived on what is now the Weaver farm, one mile west of Lancaster, was the first to introduce fine wooled sheep into Fairfield County.  This was as early as 1815.
     Darius Tallmadge was the first to introduce fine blooded horses and Durham cattle.  He owned a large farm near town and took great pride in its management and the breeding of fine stock.  John T. Brasee, David Huber and Reber & Kutz a few years later brought Shorthorn cattle from Kentucky.
     Reber and Kutz and John Van Pearse brought fine thoroughbred horses in Lancaster, Trustee belonging to Van Pearse, was a fine animal.
     Reber & Kutz purchased old Fashion, the famous four-mile mare, Lady Canton, and imported Monarch.  With this stock they started a breeding stable.  John Reber soon became the sole owner and purchased Bonnie Scotland, the most famous imported horse of his time.
     He imported Hurrah and Kyrl Daly, both great horses.  The work of the gentlemen named gave Fairfield County a fine reputation among stock men and breeders of the country.  After the death of Mr. Reber
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his horses sold at auction for the handsome sum of $28,000 cash.
     One of the first steam power flouring mills erected in Lancaster was that of R. W. Denning and Joseph Parker.  It stood west of the canal and south of the Main street crossing.  It was destroyed by fire in 1853.
     About the year 1818 George Ring, a Vermonter, built at the foot of Broad Street a large brick woolen mill.  It was operated by water power, drawn from the Hockhocking at a point where Zane's trace crossed the stream.  There are still traces of the old mill race.
     Steam has long since taken the place of water and the old mill is still one of the manufacturing institutions of Lancaster.  In 1825 the Grand Duke of Saxe Weimar spent one week in Lancaster, and among other places of interest he visited Ring & Rice, and complimented the product of the factory.  There were carding and fulling mills at other points in the county, but Ring & Rice were the only manufacturers of cloth.  For forty years Lancaster was full of small shops of every conceivable kind, but nothing more important than a foundry and machine shop of Joel Smith.  Powder was manufactured in the county upon a small scale.  This plant was located where Abbott's store now stand in Madison township.


     There are several ancient fortifications in Fairfield County, once district and handsome, but now despoiled by the plow.
     The most noted one is on the summit of the hill at the upper falls of the Hockhocking.  It is 420 feet square with two circles at the gates; one 210 feet in diameter, and the other 125 feet.  The small one
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contains a mound from the top of which a view can be had of the fort and all approaches and of the country to the east for many miles.  The walls were very light and at this time can barely be traced.  The hill is high and a part of the great sandstone ridge which crops out and ends a mile or two beyond, near the Waverly formation.  The old work is remarkable as being the only perfectly square fortification found and described by Squire and Davis.
     There are four or five other small but unimportant works in the county, and one scarcely to be traced, on the Baugher farm, covering ten or twelve acres of ground.  There is a small one on Rush Creek, on the
Foresman farm.



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