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Gallia County, Ohio
History & Genealogy

Walnut Township
Source:  History of Gallia County
Publ: 1882 - H. H. Hardesty & Co., Publishers, Chicago & Toledo


     This township is situated in the geological formation belonging to the carboniferous age.  It contains thirty-eight full sections of land and is the largest township in the county.  The land is very rough, but, for the most part, fertile, and it is cultivated by a thrifty and industrious class of people.  The central part is settled largely by a class of Germans who are noted for their skill in farming.  The timber is of fine quality, but growing scarce.  Sandstone rock abounds along the streams, and immense quantities of limestone and iron ore is found in the hills, but yet undeveloped, excepting in the quarrying of stone to a limited extent.  Veins five to seven feet thick, of the best hard coal in the State, (according to the report of the State Geologist,) are found, underlying thousands of acres.  It is being quite extensively worked in the southwest part of the township, in the vicinity of Waterloo, Lawrence county.  A new railroad is surveyed and soon to be built, from Portsmouth to Gallipolis, through this rich coal country, which will probably be extended from Cincinnati to Pittsburg.  In 1880, the township had a population of 1,892.
     The first actual settler in the township was Henry McDaniel, who came in 1808, and built a cabin in section six, on Symmes creek, near the mouth of Camp creek.  His son, Ephraim McDaniel, was the first child born in the township.  Among other early settlers were John Louis, Giles Herrington, John Carter, Thomas Clark, Walter Neal, John Peoples, J. McDaniel, Charles Neal, John Lounds, William Williams, William Null, W. Long, Samuel Boggs and Alexander McDaniel.
The township was organized April 13, 1819, and the first election was held on Sand Fork creek, when Henry McDaniel and Thomas Clark were elected justices of the peace.
     Symmes creek is a large stream, averaging fifty yards in width, in the township.  It enters section five from Perry township at the north, takes a crooked course southwesterly, across the northwest corner of the township, through section twelve, into Lawrence county, emptying into the Ohio river.  Very fertile bottom lands exist along this stream, which are in a high state of cultivation.  Sand Fork enters the southeast part of the township, in section thirty-five, runs sluggishly northward, through the eastern part, enters Perry township from section three and empties into Symmes creek.  This stream also contains very rich, well cultivated bottom lands, and is noted for being the creek on which most of the old settlers located.
     In 1812, John Cornton erected a grist mill, built of logs, containing one run of stone, which was located upon Symmes creek and run by water.  In 1818, he added to it a saw mill.
     Robert Armstrong, Mr. Petty, Thomas Ray and Jacob Bosworth taught school, commencing in 1818, in a round log building near Henry McDaniel's place.  In 1822, the first building was erected for school purposes, about one mile south of where Sylvester McDaniel now lives.  It was made of round logs, with a puncheon floor and oiled paper windows.  There are at present twelve substantial frame school buildings in the township, and the schools are well attended.
     The first postoffice established was Flag Springs office, kept by Charles Neal.  There are now four located in the township, viz.:  McDaniels, Boggs, Sand Fork and Sprinkle's Mills.
     In 1817, religious services were held at the residence of Walter Neal, on Symmes creek, conducted by William Kent, a Methodist minister.  Also, the same year, at the residence of Charles Neal, sermons were delivered by Rev. John Lee, a Baptist minister..  The first religious society organized was a Methodist Episcopal, at the residence of Benjamin Smith and wife, James McDaniel and wife, and John Ray and wife.  The second  society was organized at Flag Springs.  There are now eight church buildings in the township, which are nearly all frame and in good condition; Methodist, Baptist and the Christian orders predominate.
     The first Sabbath-school in the township was organized in 1825, by John McDaniels.  There are now seven, viz: Flag Springs, Sand Fork, Olive, Bethesda, Mount Zion, Pleasant Valley and Fairview.
     Flag Springs is noted for being the nucleus of the early population, and the center from which they extended to every part of the township.  Representatives from this point are to be found in nearly every State in the Union.
     John Lewis, one of the early settlers, made the first saltpetre, and sold it as an article of merchandise.


    As a matter of historical interest, it is proper to give an account of the terrible visitation of cholera which occurred in 1849.  In the summer of that year, William Martt, of Walnut township, assisted in moving a family in Lawrence county, and returning home was taken sic early in July.  He lingered in his illness for over a week, and his friends and neighbors kindly assisted in the care of him.  It was not until it had spread to the families of all those who had been exposed, that the disease was discovered to be cholera of the most malignant type.  The first victim to the dread disease was William Clark, who died after an illness of about four hours.  The death of his wife and daughter quickly followed.  The local physicians were inexperienced and unable to cope with the fearful epidemic, which spread rapidly.
     To Mr. Middleswarth, a farmer in Clay township, is due the credit of checking and finally subduing the terrible scourge.  Although unskilled in medicine, he had previously obtained a recipe for the cure of the cholera from a physician at New Orleans, and being a skillful nurse, he volunteered and did good service among the sick.
     At one time, eight of Mr. Martt's family, including himself, were lying dead in the house, and five of them were buried in one grave, as assistance could not be obtained to dig a sufficient number.  Owing to the inability to obtain coffins, many were buried without them.  An excitement such as is seldom witnessed in any community for a time prevailed, and all who had been exposed expected to die.  During the space of two weeks there were about one hundred cases in Walnut and the adjoining township of Harrison, thirty-seven of which were fatal, and the agonizing anxiety for the safety of the lives of dear ones in the minds of the people of the little community can be better imagined than described.
     The epidemic was confined to a radius of about four miles.  There is nothing in the locality that should have caused its appearance, only in the manner described, as it is exceedingly healthy, and nothing of the kind had ever occurred before or has been experienced since.



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