Pioneer Period and Pioneer People of
Fairfield Co., Ohio.
by C. M. L. Wiseman
Publ. F. J.
Heer Printing Co., Columbus, O. 1901
village of Rushville was laid out at an early day by a
man named Montgomery and Joseph Turner,
latter being owner of the land. Montgomery
kept a tavern there as early as 1804. A man named
Owens was the first merchant. What became
of him or his family is not known. A man named
Plummer erected the first mill near the village.
The descendants of Turner still reside in the
village or in the county.
Daniel Baker, one of the most prominent men of
the early period, was a native of Maryland. When a
young man he learned the trade of a carpenter with
William Duffield of Lancaster, whose dwelling stood
where the courthouse now stands. He married
Mary McNamee of Walnut township, and lived for a
time on the farm now owned by Mrs. Boyer, on the
Salem pike. There is son Milton was
born Nov. 28, 1815. Daniel Baker moved to
Rushville in the year 1817. Daniel Baker
moved to Rushville in the year 1817, and died there in
the year 1855.
He was during his life a very highly esteemed citizen
and a very zealous member of the Methodist Episcopal
Church. He built their house of worship of
Rushville, but in what year we cannot state.
As late as 1821 the Methodists worshipped at Richland
chapel near Daniel Stevenson's.
Baker was a fine carpenter and built most of the
early homes in and about Rushville. His son,
Milton Baker, a very exemplary citizen, is now in
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year, the oldest man of Rushville, having lived there 82
years. He has had a log life and it has been a
useful and honorable one. A daughter of Daniel
Baker married a McFee of Lancaster,
The wife of Daniel Baker was a daughter of
Thomas McNamee of Walnut township. He owned
the land where Henry Musser now lives.
There were several McNamee brothers; Job
and Adam lived in Walnut, George and
Moses lived and died in Maryland.
The McNamees were
prominent people and the owners of good land. One
of their sisters married a Shane and one of his
daughters was the first wife of James Ashbrook.
Job McNamee of Kankakee, Illinois, is a son of
Job, Sr. A sister of Job was the first
wife of the late John Lamb. The second wife
of John Lamb was the Widow Gafford of
John Baker, a brother of
Daniel, was once county recorder of this county.
His wife was a daughter of Judge Swayze.
Another brother was Rev. Job Baker, who was an
early Methodist preacher in this vicinity, but went
South, and after a long career, died in Texas.
Rev. Henry Baker and
Rev. Samuel Baker, nephews of Daniel Baker,
were Methodist preachers. Rev. Henry Baker
was stationed in Lancaster, Ohio, in the year 1840.
J. H. Baker, son of Rev. Henry Baker, became
a newspaper man and was elected Secretary of State for
Ohio and Minnesota some thirty or more years since.
He now resides at Mankato, Minn.
As has been stated, Owens was the first
merchant. In 1821 there came to Rushville one who
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its distinguished and well known merchant, William
Coulson. He was a native of Pennsylvania, but
came to Rushville from the town of Barnesville. He
was a brother-in-law of Hon. John Davenport, who
at one time was a member of Congress from Ohio.
William Coulson transacted a very large business for
20 years. Sold many goods and dealt largely in
tobacco. When the Ohio Canal was completed in 1831
he formed a partnership with his son-in-law, Michael
Ruffner, and opened a store in Baltimore. He
also built a large warehouse and a flouring mill.
The warehouse is still standing but useless for that
purpose. William Wing was a rival of the
firm, and they made a very disastrous failure in 1841 or
Mr. Coulson never
recovered from this failure, and resorted to teaching
school for a living. He was an effective local
preacher of the Methodist Church. He was a man of
fine presence, of fine mind and well informed. He
lived beyond the age of 90 years.
His children were Louisa, who married Michael
Ruffner, and died in Baltimore, Ohio. Mike
Ruffner, before going to Baltimore, ran a small
store in Pleasantville, Ohio; he had formerly kept a tin
and copper shop in Rushville. After the
death of his wife, he courted and married a girl who
lived with William Wing, and with her moved to
Greenup, Illinois, and set up for a doctor without much
preparation for so responsible a profession. His
body was buried at the cemetery near Casey, Illinois,
along with many other Fairfield County people.
Ann Coulson married Mr. Hyde, the most
prominent man of Rushville, and a very fine scholar.
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Mary Coulson married G. W. Ritchie, who
was a merchant in partnership with his brother-in-law,
Susan married W. B. Lewis, who was a
merchant and justice of the peace; they reared a nice
family. Dr. Lewis and John Lewis,
the merchant, both of Rushville, are their sons.
Lydia Coulson married for her first husband,
Joel Beckwith of Somerset, Ohio. For her
second husband, she married Lewis Peters of
Nebraska, Pickaway County. She is still living,
the widow of Mr. Peters, with her step-son Dr.
Nathaniel Coulson succeeded his father in business,
with G. W. Ritchie as his partner, and later he
was in business for himself. Late in life he moved
to Edina, Missouri, where he died.
Thomas Coulson married for his first wife a
Miss Tallman of Greenfield township. She was
said to be the handsomest young woman in Fairfield
County. For his second wife he married a daughter
of the late Joshua Clarke. He has lived in
the West for over 45 years. For some years he
lived in Trinidad, Colorado, where he died a short time
John Davenport Coulson was a school teacher, and
died while yet a young man.
William Coulson, Jr., died before he had
attained his majority.
The grandchildren of William Coulson are
numerous and highly respected people.
Some years after the coming of Coulson to
Rushville, C. G. Wilson & Co., of Zanesville,
opened a store there. This store was managed by
Gilbert McFadden, who in time became the sole
proprietor. He lived in Rushville many years, an
honest, upright life, and
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after the war, moved to Hillsboro, Ohio. He died
in a few years after settling in Hillsboro.
William Reed of Baltimore, Maryland, came to
Rushville about 1850, and opened a store, which he
operated a few years. He then closed out and
removed to Chicago, Illinois.
W. B. Lewis was a merchant in Rushville for a
number of years. He was a good citizen, but did
not leave much of an estate.
Rev. Henry Fernandes was a pioneer preacher and
a very popular one for many years in Fairfield County.
In his old age he ran a small store in Rushville.
After his death his daughters became teachers of
Mansfield & Kelley were merchants in Rushville
in 1840. Brooke & Lewis were there in 1849
and 1850. Joseph G. Nourse, a well educated
man and a very thorough business man, was a merchant for
several years in Rushville, going there in about the
year 1851. From there he moved to Cincinnati,
where he died of smallpox. He married a daughter
of the late Orren Abbott of this county.
William Hutchinson, Asa Dennison and Bud Kerr
were merchants in later years.
Dr. Simon Hyde and the elder Turner were
the early physicians of Rushville, and Dr. Nathaniel
Wait still earlier in West Rushville. Dr.
Wait was the father-in-law of the late John Van
Rushville is located upon a high bluff, just where
Rush Creek enters the great canyon, which is the wonder
and admiration of all who visit the locality. Here
is the high bridge, 45 feet above the waters of Rush
Creek. It is an interesting old town, one of the
earliest of the county, the home and trading point of
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many famous old pioneers, whose names even will be lost
to history, unless soon gathered up and preserved in
some permanent form.
This generation cannot learn too much of the history of
the prominent people of forty or fifty years ago.
Dr. Simon Hyde, late of Rushville, Ohio, father
of Eber Hyde and Mrs. Dr. Lewis, of this
city, was a giant in intellect, a famous scholar and an
eminent physician of that period. When quite a
young man two of his brothers were sent to college.
Young Simon was not of robust health, and
remained with his parents upon their farm near Norwich,
Connecticut. As his brothers laid aside their
books, he took them up and alone and unaided mastered
the college course. He was a fine Latin, Hebrew
and Greek scholar, and was especially fine in
mathematics. Of the latter, astronomy was his
favorite. During his long life he was a student of
the Bible, and always read it either in the Latin, Greek
or Hebrew. At about the age of twenty-three years,
he left his Connecticut home and made his way the best
he could on foot to Ohio. This was about the year
1815. On leaving home he said to his mother: "You
will find in my trunk some old papers which you may be
interested in after I am gone." Like all mothers
under similar circumstances, she lost no time in
mastering the contents of the trunk. Among other
interesting papers found was a complete almanac,
calculated for twenty years, as perfect as any professor
of astronomy could have made it. His first
stopping place in Ohio was Franklinton, on the Scioto
river. He remained there two years, but was so
afflicted with chills, that he concluded to try the hill
country, and removed to Rushville, where he continued to
reside until his death. There he taught school and
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completed his medical studies. He became a very
popular and successful physician, and his practice
extended over a very large extent of country. He
would call to see a patient ten miles distant, would
then be called upon to go further, and in this way his
trips often extended over two or three days. He
was somewhat eccentric, but possessed a generous heart.
At about the age of forty years he married a daughter of
William Coulson then one of the prominent
merchants of Fairfield County. This union was
blessed with eleven children, four dying in infancy.
The sons were Dr. William Hyde, of Detroit;
Eber, of Lancaster; Solon, of Columbus;
Joseph K., of Rushville, and Rodney, of Adams
county, Ohio. The daughters were Mrs. Dr. Lewis,
of of Lancaster, and Mrs. Harmon, of Columbus,
Ohio. His boys were principally taught by their
father, in which employment he spent his leisure hours,
and in which he took great delight. He was a
strong, rugged-looking man, kind and affectionate to his
family. His daughter Mary (Mrs. Lewis) was
educated at Lee Female College, Massachusetts.
Dr. Hyde was a man of great endurance, and of great
" He never felt fear."
demonstrated on one occasion in a very singular and
dramatic manner. He was called to visit, in great
haste, one of the Wilsons, just west of West
Rushville, and as he approached the old bridge over Rush
Creek, not so high as the present one, he saw a drove of
cattle near the west end. He pushed on, however,
notwithstanding the remonstrances of the drover, who
urged him frantically to stop. Seeing the doctor
determined to cross first, he took off his coat and met
him in the center of the bridge, and caught
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his horse by the bridle. The doctor very cooly
dismounted, and remarking, "I will teach you better than
to stop a doctor in a hurry to visit a patient," picked
up the drover, raised him over the bridge railing, and
dropped him into the water, some ten feet below.
Then, as calmly as he got down, he mounted his horse and
rode off. Dr. Hyde died at the advanced age
of 79 years. His life was pure and honorable,
devoted to his family, and to the good of his fellow
men. The poor and unfortunate always found in him
a friend. The good that he did lives after him.
"Greater is he that easeth men of their pains, than he
that taketh cities. - Oriental Proverb.