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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

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BERNE township was first settled by the Carpenters, Emanuel, Samuel and John.  They were soon followed by the Shallenbergers and Abraham Ream and his sons.  The Carpenters, Shallenbergers and Reams built the first mills and were prominent and useful citizens.
     Joseph Stukey and two brothers were early settlers and reared large families.  Stukey built a good mill at the mouth of Rush creek. Joseph Stukey was a prominent man and an associate judge for this county for one or two terms.  He was appointed by the Court of Common Pleas one of the receivers of the Lancaster bank, when it was would up in 1842.  Levi Moore and Asa Spurgeon were among the first to settle below Lancaster.
     One of the very first settlers in Berne township was Gen. Jonathan Lynch, as early as 1798 or 1799.  He lived on what is now the Baldwin farm.  He operated a small tan-yard, the first in the county.  Here a son was born, December, 1799; one of the first, at least the second, to be born in the county.  Gen. Lynch was a very prominent man.  He commanded a brigade in the war of 1812.  He spent his small fortune in caring for his men, and his children state that he was never reimbursed.


     The early settlers of this township were Edward Teal, Nimrod Bright, Frederick Arnold, Aaron

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Ashbrook, William Trimble, Thomas, Matthew and David Ewing, and James Duncan.  Trimble and Ewing were prominent men and represented this county in the legislature.  Fredk. Harmon, John Miller and Dewalt Macklin came in 1800.


     The early settlers of this township were Martin Landis, Sr., Samuel Spangler, Adam Defenbaugh and Matthew and Robert Young, and the Shaffers, a large family.


     The early settlers of this township were John Murphey, Emanuel Ruffner, Daniel Steenson, Thomas William and Isaac Ijams.  The three brothers reared eight sons who became prominent township men, the most distinguished of whom was Joseph Ijams, a great merchant in his time.  William Wilson and his sons, William, Thomas, Joseph, Isaac and David.  The daughters, also Mrs. James Richie, and Mrs. Col. Wm. Sumner and Mrs. Herron were prominent people; bold and fearless pioneers.  William Coulson was not an early settler, but he was the most able and distinguished man of Rushville, or of Richland township; a great pioneer merchant.  He lived beyond 90 years.


     The first settlers in this township were the Youngs (in 1799), Andrew Ashbaugh, Fredk. Ashbaugh, John Ashbaugh, Sr., John Ashbaught, Jr., Joseph Miller and their wives.
     The McClungs and Larimers came later, William McClung served in the war of 1812, was member of the

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Ohio legislature and an associate judge of the Common Pleas Court.
     In this township the first Presbyterian house of worship was built, of which an account is given in the sketch of the Rowles family.
The Ashbaugh family arrived at the Carpenter settlement on Hock-Hocking the evening of Dec. 31, 1799, and on the morning of Jan. 1, 1800 their son, David,  was born in one of the Carpenter cabins.


     The early settlers of Violet township were H. Donaldson, A. Donaldson, Ed. Rickets, W. Hustand, Dr. Tolbert, Abraham Pickering and M. Fishpaugh.


     Greenfield township was settled in 1798 and 1799- Isaac Meason was one of the very early settlers.  Walter McFarland and his father came about the same time.  Joseph Stuart, Ralph Cherry, Jeremiah Cherry, Joshua Meeks and Samuel Randall were here before MeasonGen. James Wells, a distinguished man, of a very distinguished family, came here about the year 1801 and settled where Hooker station is located.
     Henry Abrams, father-in-law of Gen. Sanderson, was an early settler, as was Loveland and Smith, who built the first ill in the country.
     Jacob Claypool came in 1808, but did not bring his family until 1811.  He became one of the distinguished men of the county; farmer, drover, banker, legislator and an all round good business man.  This township was the seat of the famous Greenfield Academy, where so many young men were educated by that famous scholar and teacher,
Dr. John Williams.

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     Among the other Ohio flouring ills, few are to be found in a better state of preservation than the Rock Mills, shown in the engraving.  It is located at the upper falls of the Hocking river, near the village of Hookers, Fairfield County, about seen miles from Lancaster.  It occupies (nearly) the site of the first mill erected (799) on Hocking river, built by Loveland & Smith.  They located directly below the falls, the grists being taken into the mill at the gable by ropes from the top of the cliff.
     The present building was erected in 1824.  It has the heavy frame timbers of that period and is four stories high.  It was built by a man named Barrett, as a combined grist and woolen mill, but the woolen machinery was never put into the building.  The premises have since been owned successively by Abraham Bookwalter, Christian Morehart, Joseph Knabenshue (father of Samuel Knabenshue, editor of the Toledo Blade), Philip Homrighouse and John Foor, who in the spring of 1899 became a member of the firm of Solt, Alspach Bros. & Foor  They completely remodeled the mill, putting in Nordyke & Marmon Company's machinery and the Swing Sifter System.  It has since been running successfully, doing a comfortable business. the firm is now styled Solt & Alspach.  C. Mingus  is the head miller.
     The waterfall shown in the engraving is located immediately to the right of the penstock.  Below the falls for half a mile or so, the river is confined within a narrow gorge some 50 to 60 feet deep, which is shaded by a heavy growth of timber.  It is a favorite

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resort for searchers for the picturesque in that part of Ohio.   The wide gorge resembles the body of a bottle and the narrow stem above the falls, the neck, hence the name "bottle-river" or Hock-Hocking, Grogan, one of the first white men to visit this valley (1751) records this name. - 
American Miller.


    The Shoemakers, John and Jacob, were undoubtedly the first settlers of this township, as early as 1797, Charley Friend and Michael Nye came in 1800.  In 1807 the men destined to become the leading men of the township settled in Clear Creek.  John Leist was born in 1784, in Northampton county, Penn.  He was a soldier of the war of 1812 and a member of the Ohio Legislature from 1813 to 1820.  He was distinguished for his integrity and rare good common sense.  He reared a large family of children.
     Rev. Jacob Leist, a pioneer Lutheran preacher, was his brother.  Near John Leist's home in Dutch hollow the first church of the township was built.  A flourishing society of Lutherans has worshipped there for ninety years.  Judge John Augustus was a prominent man in Clear Creek.


     The early settlers of Bloom township were Abraham Courtright, Jesse D. Courtright, Z. Drake, C. Merchant, M. Allspaugh, Levi Moore and Christian Crumley Abraham Courtright taught the first school in Bloom township; this was in 1805.  It is claimed that a church was built in this township by Presbyterians in 1807, on the old Columbus road.

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     William Murphey, Sr., and his three sons, William, Benjamin, and Edward, James Holmes and his family of boys, were the earliest settlers of Walnut township.  Rev. John Hite, Samuel Crawford, Samuel Wiseman, Jacob Culp and George DeBolt were early settlers.
     In this township is Buckeye Lake, once a great swamp and cranberry marsh, several miles in length, running from near Millersport to Thornville, a distance of eight miles.  About the center, where the county line crosses, there existed a lake of considerable size on which floated a cranberry marsh.  The marsh still floats there and berries are gathered every year by the daring and fearless natives.  This was the great swamp mentioned by Gist where he camped in 1751.  It was on the old Indian trail leading from Duquesne to the Shawanese town of Old Chillicothe, on the Scioto.  This trail passed Mt. Pleasant - a trading point called the "standing stone."  This trail was the great overland rout from Ft. Pitt to the falls of the Ohio near Louisville.
     John Goldthwait, a Yankee schoolmaster, born in Springfield, Mass., was an early settler in Walnut township.  His farm was on the road half way between Pleasantville and New Salem.  He had previously taught school, in 1801, in Athens, O., an in 1802 in Greenfield township.  By some he is believed to be the first teacher in Fairfield County, but it is claimed that James Hunter, of Virginia, taught school in Hocking township in 1801.
     Goldthwait planted the first apple orchard in the county, on what is now known as the
Levering farm. 

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He brought his trees from Marietta or the Putnam nurseries.  He started the first fruit nursery in this county on his Walnut township farm.  He introduced the Fall Pippin, Rhode Island Greening, Wetherfield Seek No Further, Roxbury, Russett and other well known apples of New England.  He lived a blameless life life and was a devoted Methodist.  His pride was the fine apples he had introduced into the county.  There are but few names among the early pioneers deserving of greater honor than John Goldthwait.  He died in 1829, and was buried in the old church yard at New Salem.  His descendants are prominent people of Grant County, Indiana.


     The first settler of Liberty township came as early as the year 1801.
     Christian Gundy and wife came to Fairfield County in the year of 1800 from Lancaster county, Pennsylvania.  They came as far as Wheeling, Va., where Gundy left his wife and came on by himself.  He cleared a piece of ground and planted it in corn on Walnut creek.  During the summer he went to Wheeling for his wife.  He spent the fall and winter in a rude camp with a blanket for a door.  Robert Wilson, a neighbor of Gundy's came about the same time.
     David Brumbuck came in 1803 and settled one-half a mile south of the present town of Baltimore.  He later moved to Poplar creek, where he died.  His son, Martin, lived a long life upon this farm, where he was a farmer and grape grower.
     Nicholas Rader and Jacob Showley came to the county in 1804 and settled one mile north of the present Baltimore, and there they lived and died.  They were

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natives of Switzerland.  They embarked on board flat-boats at Pittsburg and floated down to the mouth of the Hockhocking and from there pulled their goods in canoes to the falls, or Hockhocking, now Logan.
     Joseph Alt, also a Swiss, came in 1805 over the same route taken by Bader and Showley.  He left his friends at the mouth of Hockhocking, while he and his son, Joseph, made their way on foot to Fairfield to their home of Bader and Showely.  Mr. Alt succeeded in bringing his family and goods up the Hocking, and established them in his cabin in the woods.
     His family has been a prominent and honorable one in Liberty township for ninety-four years.  Emanuel Alt, the breeder of fine cattle two miles north of Baltimore, is a genial son.  Here he owns a fine farm and a lovely home.
     Francis Bibler came from Shenandoah county, Va., in 1805, with four sons and four daughters.  His cabin stood where Basil is now located.  His family was without bread for five weeks.  Bibler went to Chillicothe to obtain a supply of corn and could get but one bushel, for which he paid two dollars.  This corn was ground at Woodring's Mill, five miles west of his home, on Walnut creek.  Their first crop of corn was destroyed by squirrels and crows.  Bibler, in one morning, killed 38 squirrels on one tree with his rifle and the next morning 18 raccoons from one tree.
     At one of the early elections in this township there were but seven ballots cast.
     Jacob Goss, grandfather of Dr. J. H. Goss, of Lancaster, came to the township in 1807.  He also came from Switzerland.  He had two sons and one daughter.  Sebastian Leonard came about the same time.

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     Jacob Goss laid out the town of Basil in 1825.  The plat was made by Jonathan Flattery, an early surveyor.  The neighbors named, or chose the name by ballot and the casting vote was deposited by John Goss, father of the doctor.
     Henry Yanna kept the first tavern in the new village.  He was also a butcher and sold thousands of pounds of beef to workmen on the Ohio Canal at 3 cents per pound.  His sign was an ox.  Peter Darning, a Swiss, also opened up a tavern in probably the same year.  His home was the "William Tell." He sold "stone fence cider" - four gallons of whiskey to one barrel of water.
     Henry D. Bolle, a Frenchman, kept the first store.  His entire stock of goods rested on one shelf twelve feet long.  In 1828 he sold out to Sebastian Leonard, Sr., father of Henry Leonard, and with $150 a new stock was purchased in Lancaster and Henry installed as the new merchant.
     Henry Leonard was born Feb. 14, 1812.  He was a bright boy, but did not succeed in getting much primary education.  He spent a few months in Gen. Maccracken's store in Lancaster, in order, as he said, to get some insight into the business.  He returned to Basil and in a few years was a prosperous merchant.  And the fir of Leonard Bros., Sebastian and Henry, became a large and well known establishment and had a profitable career for nearly forty years.  Henry Leonard was much more than an ordinary man.  He took a leading part in all public matters, was a leader in the church and a sincere Christian.  Rev. George Leonard is his son.
     Mr. Leonard is authority for the statement that at funerals before the people left the house, it was

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customary to hand round the whiskey bottle and other refreshments, and that he was frequently called upon to perform this honorable service.  The writer has good reason to remember Henry Leonard.  He was a noble, generous, gifted man, and his memory will long be green in Liberty township.  HE was a brother-in-law of the late Jacob Beck.  They married sisters.  They were, also, cousins.  Their fathers married sisters, daughters of Jacob Goss.
     Rev. Martin Kauffman
, of the Baptist Church, was the first resident minister.  Rev. John Hite, of Walnut Township, preached in the neighborhood of Basil for many years.  Rev. Benadum, of Bloom township, a United Brethren, preached often at the home of Mr. Showley, on Walnut creek.
     Rev. George Wise, of the German Reform Church, begun to preach at Amspachs', south of Basil, in 1817, now known as St. Michael's Church.
     Men of great strength were numerous and popular among the pioneers.  John Huntwork, not a giant in size, either, was a very strong man.  Once at Zanesville, on a bet made by Mr. Fairchild, he loaded three wagons with alt, picking each barrel, weighing three hundred pounds each, by the chimes and pitching them into the wagons.
     On another occasion he carried eleven bushels of wheat up a pair of steps at o
ne load.  Noah Gundy late of Liberty township, witnessed both astounding feats.
     Henry Leonard is the author's authority for statements in this chapter.



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