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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. 54

     THE professional men of Lancaster for the first forty years were not numerous, but they were, with few exceptions, very able and brilliant men.
     ROBERT F. SLAUGHTER, a Virginian, came to Lancaster from Kentucky in 1800.  He was the first lawyer to open an office in the new town.
     WILLIAM CREIGHTON and ALEXANDER WHITE were sworn in as attorneys, Jan. 12, 1801.  White died in two or three years and Creighton moved to Chillicothe where he became distinguished.
     PHILEMON BEECHER came here a young man form Litchfield, Connecticut, in 1801, and opened a law office.  He soon married Susan, a daughter of Neil Gillespie, whom he met while she was visiting her sister, Mrs. Hugh Boyle, in Lancaster.  One of the daughter by this marriage married Henry Stanbery, and the other Colonel P. Van Trump.  General Beecher was a good lawyer and an honorable man.  He served as a ember of the Ohio Legislature and as a member of Congress for ten years.  He died in 1839, aged 64 years.
     Referring to Judge Slaughter, he was a man of ability and a good lawyer.  He served one term as judge of the Common Pleas Court, was prosecuting attorney, and for several terms a member of both branches of the Ohio Legislature.
     WILLIAM W. IRVIN came to Lancaster about the same time as General Beecher.  He was a member of the Ohio Legislature and while yet a young man was elected a judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio.  Later in life he succeeded General Beecher as a member of Congress.  He has a long and honorable career, and left behind him a good name.  The wife of Judge Irvin was Elizabeth Gillespie, a sister of Mrs. Boyle and of Mrs. General Beecher.
, mentioned above, was appointed clerk of the Common Pleas Court in 1803, and served as such for 30 years.
     E. B. MERWIN came to Lancaster in 1804 from Vermont.  He was an attorney of prominence and represented Fairfield County in the Legislature.  He married a Miss Reed, a sister of Mrs. Judge Scofield.  In 1815 he moved to Zanesville, Ohio.
     This is a list of the very early attorneys of Lancaster - Lawyers of Chillicothe and Zanesville attended all of the courts, for it was the habit then, and for forty years, for gentlemen of the bar to travel the circuit, following the Court from county to county.
     CHARLES ROBERT SHERMAN came to Lancaster from Norwalk, Connecticut, in the year 1810.  In the winter of 1811 he returned to Connecticut to bring out his wife and infant child.  In the spring of that year he, with his wife and infant son, Charles Taylor, left Connecticut on horseback, and made their way through an almost unbroken wilderness to Lancaster, during hardships and privations that only spirited and courageous people could have endured and overcome.  He opened a law office and soon rose rapidly in his profession and in the estimation of his fellow citizens, and became an eminent lawyer for that period.  In the year 1823, he was elected by the Legislature a judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio.  His associates were eminent men and to sit with them, on the Supreme bench of Ohio, was worthy of the ambition of any man.  While holding court in Lebanon, Ohio, he was taken sick, and died there in July, 1829.  During his life, Judge Sherman was the ablest and most popular man of Lancaster.  He was the father of John and General William T. Sherman, and the two most distinguished brothers the United States has produced.  The career of Judge Sherman and his sons has shed undying luster upon Lancaster.
     In the year 1815 there came to Lancaster a Brilliant and ambitious young man.  He had obtained an education under circumstances of hardship and privations, that would have deterred a less ambitious man or one lacking his thirst for learning.  Thomas Ewing entered the law office of General Beecher in the spring of 1815.  He had previously read Blackstone.  For fourteen months he applied himself to study, sixteen hours each day, and at the end of that time was admitted to the Bar.
     MR. EWING was for eight years prosecuting attorney for the county of Athens, and was for twelve years prosecuting attorney of Fairfield County, Filling both offices at the time In 1831 he was elected a senator of the United States of Ohio.  In 1840 he was Secretary of the Treasury and in 1849 Secretary of the Interior.  Again in 1851 he was appointed United States senator by Governor Ford  This was the last public office held by Mr. Ewing.  He then gave his attention to the law.
     Mr. Ewing was one of the lawyers of his time, or of any time, and in a purely legal argument before a court he was without a rival.
     It is said of him, that he once addressed the Supreme Court at great length, critcising one of their decisions and prevailed upon the judges to reverse it.
     The late Judge Biddle, of Indiana, said or wrote: - Mr. Ewing was one of the great men and great lawyers of this nation, second only to Daniel Webster
     Mr. Ewing was great mentally and physically.  He was a man of splendid form, strong and very active.  He died Oct. 20, 1871.  No man could look upon Thomas Ewing without admiring him, or fail to be impressed with his wonderful presence.  He once entered the Supreme Court room at Washington, in the midst of an important argument.  The attorney ceased to speak, and offered  Mr. Ewing his hand, and one by one, each judge upon the bench shook hands with him before the attorney proceeded with his argument.  We are indebted for this incident to the late Major Johnson, of Piqua, Ohio, who was present in the court room at the time.
     In the year 1825 Henry Stanbery came to Lancaster and formed a partnership with Thomas Ewing, which continued until 1830.
     HENRY STANBERY was an able and popular lawyer, and he was generally opposed to Mr. Ewing on all the great cases of the time.  He was attorney general of Ohio and of the United States.  Mr. Stanbery was a polite and courtly gentleman; he was tall and stately and a man of fine appearance.
     H. H. HUNTER, one of Lancaster's very distinguished lawyers, was born here in 1801.  He came to the bar about the time Stanbery settled here.  He was a hard working patient lawyer and his reputation as an honest capable attorney grew with the years.  During the Civil War he was elected judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio.  He qualified, but for business reasons did not serve.  The office had come to him without solicitation but he could not afford to accept  it.
     In the year 1855 the writer came to Lancaster from the farm to act as deputy sheriff of the county.  Mr. Hunter was then 54 years of age and in the full-tide of prosperity as a lawyer.  He was the leading lawyer at the Lancaster bar, and he was generally classed as one of the ablest lawyers of the state of Ohio.  His business then, and for many years, called him from his home for weeks at a time.  His children were left to the care of his wife at a period when they had most need of his attention and faithful care.
     He met with writer soon after his advent in the town and said to him, "Why did you leave the farm and come to town?  You have made a great mistake, the mistake that hundreds of young men make.  I regret that I did not begin life upon a farm and pursue that calling for a living, like my friend Jacob Beck; I would then have been with my family and have lived a quiet unobtrusive life and would have been a happier man."
     This expression of so distinguished a man as Mr. Hunter on the subject of the choice of a profession, made at a time when he was most capable of giving a calm and dispassionate opinion, is worthy of the thoughtful consideration of every intelligent young man.  In the home and the pursuit of business, in that business in congenial, true happiness is found.
, one of our four great lawyers of Lancaster, came to the bar here about the year 1833, moving from Gallipolis.  He spent some years at Athens educating himself, and in the study of the law.
     Mr. Brasee was an able, pains-taking lawyer, and was always thoroughly prepared when his cases were called.  His recreation was farming and raising stock.  He owned 1,200 acres of good land, and farmed it successfully.  Mr. Brasee was an elegant gentleman, and generally, if not always, appeared upon our streets wearing a silk hat and black swallow-tailed coat.  No better man or fairer man ever lived in Lancaster.  No man was more thoroughly self-made.  The only public office of ever held was that of state senator.
     WM. MEDILL came to Lancaster in the year 1833.  He was a young lawyer of good education, and soon became prominent in the town.  He soon drifted into politics.  Became a member of the legislature, then a member of congress.  He filed positions under Polk and Buchanan in Washington.
     He was both Lieutenant-Governor and Governor of Ohio.
     JOHN BROUGH came to Lancaster in 1834.  He was a lawyer, but preferred to edit a newspaper, the "Ohio Eagle," which he did with great ability.  Brough resided in Lancaster about six years.  His caustic editorials made him both friends and enemies.  He also developed a fine talent for public speaking.  His first fine speech to attract attention was made in Somerset, Ohio.  In the heat of one of his great campaigns his first wife died.  He had been posted for several days to speak at the court house.  He buried his wife, shook hands with the pall bearers, and remarked:  "I have discharged my duty to the dead, I will now discharge it to the living."  He walked to the court house and made an able political speech.  One must read his paper of that period and understand the extraordinary personal campaign, of both parties in 1836 and 1840 otherwise the story of that speech would seem incredible.
     Brough was not seen in Lancaster after 1840 for more than twenty years.  He then was a candidate and a Governor delivered masterly and brilliant speeches.
     JOHN M. CREED, a son of the pioneer merchant, was a fair lawyer and a very brilliant orator.  He represented Fairfield County in the Ohio Legislature, and was chosen speaker of the House.
     He was a delegate to the Harrisburg convention in 1839, and delivered a brilliant speech, nominating Gen. Harrison, of Ohio, for the presidency.
     He carried the convention with him, and there was a scene much like that which greeted Ingersoll when he nominated James G. Blaine, at Cincinnati.  Creed was an apostle of temperance, and was the leading speaker in the great reform of 1841 and 1842.  He was a member of the Methodist Church, and the superintendent of the Sunday school.  He died about the year 1848.
     DARIUS TALLMADGE was identified with Lancaster as early as 1833.  He was manager and part owner of the great stage lines of Neil, Moore & Co. which were operated between Wheeling, Va., and St. Louis, Mo., with numerous branches.  Mr. Tallmadge was one of the most brainy men in the business circles of Lancaster.  A man of wonderful energy and industry endowed with rare common sense and executive talent.  It is hard to name a man to whom the early period of Lancaster is so much indebted as to Darius Tallmadge.
     In 1833 the Union Hotel owned by Col. John Noble, and run by Gottlieb Steinman, was destroyed by fire.  A company of citizens was soon formed and a new brick hotel arose from its ashes, and it was called the PhoenixIn a few years Tallmadge purchased this building, enlarged and improved it and named it the TallmadgeMr. Tallmadge was president of the Hocking Valley Bank, the second bank established in Lancaster, and so continued until it was changed to the Hocking Valley National Bank.  At one time Mr. Tallmadge owned a splendid farm of several hundred acres adjoining town.  This he greatly improved and stocked with thoroughbred horses and cattle.  During his active business career he was a very liberal man, contributing to every useful project for the good of the town, and liberally to the unfortunate.  The career of but few men will be longer remembered in Lancaster than that of
Darius Tallmadge.


     Of the early physicians of Lancaster, Dr. Amasa Delano was one of the first to settle here.  He came here late in the year 1800.  Where he came from or what became of him we cannot state.  He was a brother-in-law of Robert Russell, who was a merchant many years in Franklinton and Columbus, and who late in life moved to Tiffin, Ohio.
     DR. JOHN M. KERR came here and began the practice of medicine in 1801.
     DR. JOHN M. SHAUG came here from Kentucky in 1801, but did not bring his family until 1806.  He lived where the Columbian block now stands.
     DR. EZRA TORRENCE came here from Vermont in 1804.  He lived here in 1815 and kept a tavern.
     DR. ROBERT WILCOX came here, an old man, in 1806.  He had been an army surgeon in the Revolutionary War.  He died in 1812.
     DR. DANIEL SMITH came here from Virginia in the year 1810.  He was a member of the Ohio Legislature in 1817 and 1818.  He returned to Virginia and died there.
     DR. JAMES WILSON came here from Virginia in 1804.  He married the daughter of Thomas Sturgeon.  He died in 1823, and a few years later his widow married John Latta, a prominent merchant.
     DR. WILLIAM IRWIN, was an early resident of Lancaster.
     DR. ROBERT McNEILL, the most prominent of our early physicians, came here at an early day from Delaware.  He married a daughter of Henry Arnold.
came here from Philadelphia about the year 1820.  He became one of the prominent men of Lancaster and an able physician.  He married a niece of Gen. Beecher.
     DR. M. Z. KREIDER
came from Pennsylvania, and settled first in Royalton, Ohio.  He came to Lancaster about the year 1830.  He was a fine surgeon and a man of rare intellect.  He soon became one of the leading citizens, and a man of many accomplishments.  He represented Fairfield County in the Ohio Legislature, was for several years clerk of the Court of Common Pleas; was very prominent in the great temperance reformation.   He was a splendid conversationalist and a fine speaker.  He was an enthusiastic Free Mason, and filled all the prominent or chief offices of that order.  He was the first Grand Eminent Commander of Knights Templar of Ohio, and Grand Master of the order in Ohio at the time of his death in 1852.  
     DR. H. H. WAIT, a Virginian, was a physician of some note in Lancaster prior to 1830, and resided here for several years.


     The first minister to establish himself in Lancaster and gather about him a congregation, was Rev. John Wright, a native of Pennsylvania.  He came first in 1801 as a missionary; later, he in a year or two returned and commenced the work of a pastor, and continued in that relation until the year 1835.
     The first Presbyterian Church was built in 1823, a modest, unpretentious brick building.
     The first Methodist to preach at Lancaster was Bishop Asbury, about 1805, in a school house, and in 1809 in the new court house.
     It is probable that Rev. James B. Findlay preached in Lancaster as early as 1811, as he was on the Fairfield circuit that year.  This was about the time the first society was formed.
     Four sisters, daughters of Frederick Arnold, and their husbands, Peter Reber, Thomas Orr, Geo. Canode and Christopher Weaver, with Jacob D. Deitrich and wife, formed the first society of which we have any account.
     The first church building, a frame structure, was built in 1816.  James Quinn and John McMahon were the preachers then on the Fairfield circuit.
     REV. MICHAEL STECK, of the Lutheran Church, came here in 1816, and took charge of a society that had been preached to occasionally by missionaries.  He at first preached in the Court House, but in 1819 a church building was erected at the foot of Wheeling street.
     An old Lutheran said to the writer a year or two since: "Rev. Steck and Rev. Wright worked together like brothers."
     In 1829 Rev. Steck resigned and returned to his old home in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.  He was succeeded by Rev. John Wagenhals, who had a long and useful career in Lancaster.
     The Baptist Church was organized in Lancaster by the Rev. George Debolt, who resided in Walnut township.  This was in the year 1817.  Isaac Church and wife were among the first members.  Rev. William White, the first members.  Rev. William White, the father of Dr. J. White, succeeded Debolt and he in turn was succeeded by Rev. Samuel Carpenter.
     There were Catholic families among the early pioneers, and they were visited by missionary priests.  The first church building was built and completed in 1822, at the foot of Chestnut Street.
     The Dominion Fathers, of St. Joseph's, Perry County, Ohio, supplied the pastors of this congregation until 1839.


     The schools of Lancaster during the early period of its history were taught by some very good teachers, and paid for by subscription.
     JAMES HUNTER, brother of Amos, and grandfather of Frank and Elmer Hunter, of Lancaster, was in all probability the first teacher of Lancaster.
     MISS BUTLER came here from New York State in 1812 and taught school.  In 1813 she became the wife of Christian King, the merchant.  Her school house (log) stood where Dr. Samson's office is now located.
     WESLEY NEWMAN came here from Oswego, New York, in the early days prior to 1820, and taught school for years in Lancaster.  A daughter of his is a resident of Lancaster.   Joel A. Parsons came to Lancaster from Maine in 1829.  He taught school in Lancaster and was one of the first teachers to be employed by the new school board in 1830.
     In 1830 the public school system of Ohio was inaugurated.  Lancaster organized by electing Gen. Sanderson, Rev. Samuel Carpenter and Henry Dubble, three prominent and representative men, to the school board.  Small houses were builit on Walnut and Chestnut Streets, and perhaps elsewhere.  L. A. Blair was an early teacher in the public schools.  Early in the history of Lancaster an academy was projected, a building erected, and the new school was soon put in operation.  This was in the year 1820.
  A MR. WHITTLESEY was the first principal.  John T. Brasee had charge of it in 1826.  Salmon Shaw was its principal for some time.  Judge Irvin, Judge Sherman, Thomas Ewing, Gen. Beecher, Jude Scofield, Judge Slaughter, Col. John Noble and Gottlieb Steinman were the principal promoters.  Samuel L. and Mark Howe took charge as early as 1830, and managed it a year or two when the owners decided to close the academy.  The Howes then built a frame structure on Mulberry Street, and for many years conducted a first-class school.  The prominent men of Lancaster of later years received the ground work of their education in these two schools.  John Sherman never attended any other place of learning, except when quite a boy, in Mt. Vernon, Ohio.  In this connection, though not within the scope of this sketch, we mention Dr. Williams, the greatest scholar and teacher of Lancaster.  He taught the Greenfield academy at the time Howe's academy flourished in Lancaster.  Dr. Williams was a great educator, and after closing his academy came to Lancaster and was superintendent of the union schools.


     The first financial institution of Lancaster was the Lancaster Bank.  It was organized and commenced business Aug. 30, 1816.  Philimon Beecher was president for one year, when he was succeeded by John Creed, who held the office until the bank closed its doors in 1842.  Michael Garaghty was the cashier during its existence.  The directors who organized and managed the bank during its early years were Peter Reber, Charles R. Sherman, John Wliliamson, Jacob Green, Daniel Van Meter, William King, Richard Hooker, Benjamin Smith and S. F. Maccracken, all able, reputable men.  Hooker, Claypool and Van Meter were large farmers and the leading men of that calling in the county.  Van Meter was associate judge of the court, and Claypool and Hooker were prominent members of the Ohio Legislature.  In 1827 this bank became the financial agent for the State of Ohio.  It handled all the money provided for the construction of the Ohio canals and paid the contractors.  In 1836 but three other banks in Ohio made a better financial exhibit.  For seventeen years this bank declared a dividend of 19 per cent.  But reverses came in 1842 and H. H. Hunter, Judge Stukey and Jacob Green were apointed receivers.       

NOTE:  Names hi-lited in BLUE are for certain researchers to locate them easier. ~ SW



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