was organized on the 8th day of June 1808. It was
formed from Bath and Xenia Townships and derived its name
from the Little Miami River which flows through a
considerable portion of its territory. This township
is one of hte most fertile in the State and contains a
number of streams and considerable timber. Some of the
finest natural scenery in the country is found along the
banks of the Little Miami River and its tributaries.
The township contains officers were elected in 1816.
In the early times there were but few roads and these were
scarcely traversable. The State road from Columbus to
Cincinnati, via Clifton and Yellow Springs and Springfield
was most generally used. In 1820 good land could be
purchased from $3.00 to $6.00 an acre and laborers received
37 cents a day.
Grinnell's Mill is one of the few remaining
landmarks of the
early days and is still in operation by Mr. Frank
Grinnell, Sr. A little farther up the river from
Grinnell's is the famous Riverside Park now owned by
Mr. John Bryan. This park contains over 500
acres of meadow, woods, river, springs and cascades.
The wildest and most beautiful
scenery of the township is located in this park along the
Little Miami River. The largest farm barn in the State
of Ohio is located at Riverside Park. It was built by
Mr. Bryan. It is 206 feet long, 120 feet wide,
high. An L has been joined to the barn and it is about
85 feet by 50 feet. The first story of the barn is
built of stone and is a magnificent piece of masonry.
A part of the building contains five stories. It is
equipped with running water and all modern improvements.
Whitehall, the present residence of Mr. E. S. Kelly,
has been an ideal country home for over half a century, and
its hospitality has always been in keeping with its halls
and numerous spacious rooms and the extensive grounds
surrounding it. It was built in 1846-7 after the
Colonial style of architecture, similar to that of the White
House at Washington. The house stands on high ground
in the midst of a grove of handsome black walnut trees.
From this grove was obtained the only lumber used in the
erection of the house and for this reason the place for many
years was known as Walnut Hall. At present the house
is surrounded by the magnificent grove of young walnut trees
covering a park of about twenty acres in extent. About
350 yards to the west lies a beautiful lake, making a
landscape view as picturesque as can be found anywhere.
The main part of the house is built of brick which were
made in a kiln near by. The house was erected by
Judge Aaron Harlan and he frequently entertained many
distinguished friends and guests. Mr. Kelly has
remodeled it with many improvements. Many acres have
been added to the original farm until it now contains 1100
acres of park and meadow, of woods and fields.
the northern border of the County, near the headwaters of
the Little Miami River, is situated the beautiful and
classical village of YELLOW SPRINGS, which takes its name
from the celebrated yellow spring located in the famous Neff
Grounds park. This spring is strongly impregnated with
iron, magnesia, lime and silicious matter, and the
iron gives a yellow tinge to everything over which it
There is a mystic fascination about the place.
The healing waters of the Yellow spring were known to the
Indians long before the first white settlers came to make
their homes in the
wilderness. The flow of water is nearly 110 gallons a
minute, at a temperature always the same, winter and summer,
and in the language of the Indians, "cool as the morning air
and with the golden tint of the setting sun." A short
distance east of the spring is a mound of stone and earth
which is no doubt the work
THE LITTLE MIAMI
Above Yellow Springs
of a prehistoric race.
It is now crowned with a summer house and always attracts
the attention of visitors. The Indians who succeeded
the Mound Builders evidently set a high value on the spring,
for it was located midway between the two famous settlements
of the Shawnees, namely Oldtown, five miles to the south,
where were located their most valued corn fields; and Mad
River village, six miles to the north, where the famous
born. The trail connecting these two points passed the
spring and was plainly visible to the early settlers.
It passed very near the present site of Antioch College and
descended into the glen by a break in the rocky wall, which
is still used for a foot path.
Lewis Davis was the first white man known to
have lived here. He came from Cincinnati to Dayton on
a trading expedition in the year 1799, and while there he
learned from an Indian of the great yellow spring and the
beautiful country surrounding it. He immediately went
to Old Town and followed the old Indian trail up to Yellow
Springs where he camped for several days. In the fall
of the year he built a log cabin a short distance east of
the spring and surveyed considerable land in the surrounding
territory. He often described the place to be a garden
spot of health and beauty in a vast wilderness. Other
white men hearing of the marvelous grandeur of the place
came and built cabins in this vicinity and the place was
known as Forest Village. About 1820 General
Whiteman laid off a number of lots north of the spring,
which were named Ludlow. A number of log houses and
several frame ones were erected. A sawmill was erected
near the stone bridge. About this time there also
appeared a colony of communists called Owenites, numbering
over two hundred people. They erected a large building
as a common residence, close to the cascade in the Neff
Grounds. They worked in common and divided the
proceeds of their labor equally, and in fact seemed to skim
along in a rosy imagination of a self established
heaven-on-earth, where all things were equal and in fact
seemed to skim along in a rosy imagination of a
self-established heaven-on-earth, where all things were
equal and the luxuries as existing at that time belonged to
the most common as well as the best. This free-for-all
style however did not last long. Consequently, we find
this colony of antitolstoic thinkers scattered to the four
winds, after a residence of only two years. However,
other people came to live in their places and in a short
time there was quite a village built up here.
Among the most prominent of the early settlers were
Elisha Mills and his son, Judge William Mills.
They owned large tracts of land in and around the village of
Yellow Springs. In the year 1809 Elisha Mills
erected a residence on what is now known as the Old Yellow
Springs House ground. It was afterwards
THE GLEN AT YELLOW SPRINGS.
The Yellow Spring. (Photo by Stretcher.)
Pompey's Pillar. (Photo by Earl Richardson.)
The Upper Falls. (Photo by Dr. Hewitt.)
The Lower Falls. (Photo by Robert Swaby.)
enlarged and used as a tavern, a Mr. Gardner being
the first proprietor. Yellow Springs soon gained
national prominence as a health and summer resort and
thousands of people from all over the country came and
visited here annually, to drink from the waters of the great
yellow spring and enjoy the beauty of the cool groves and
picturesque glens near by.
In 1853, Judge William Mills engaged the
services of a surveyor and laid off a tract of land
comprising 350 acres now included within the corporate
limits of Yellow Springs. Lots sold at prices ranging
from $150 to $500. Judge Mills reserved
a tract of land comprising about twenty acres in the center
of Yellow Springs on what is known as the Lawn, now occupied
by William Means and his family. Judge Mills
also donated grounds for schools and churches and he was
called the founder of Yellow Springs. The village was
incorporated in 1856 and Isaac Kersnher was chosen as
the first mayor. The village was laid out on a grand
scale in which are thirty-seven streets, six of which are
over a mile in length. The physical features of the
village are unsurpassed anywhere. The Neff Grounds
Park, Sheldon's Glen, Taylor's Glen, Grinnell's Park, The
Lawn or Means' Park, Glen Forest Cemetery and the Antioch
College campus make Yellow Springs a beauty spot upon the
face of Mother Nature. You will never find a place
more richly endowed with natural beauty and healthful
climate, with beautiful trees, glens, springs, cascades,
cliffs and gorges than Yellow Springs.
It is not surprising that this place has attracted
people from all parts of the country. Just opposite
the village of Yellow Springs, two small streams unite whose
waters a mile away empty into the Little Miami River.
Through beds of limestone, in a deep ravine or glen, lies
the course of these streams, skirted along by high
projecting cliffs and huge disrupted masses of rock
affording an enchanting variety of scenery. One of
these outlying masses is known as Pompey's Pillar.
Being an immense rock weighing fifteen or twenty tons, the
upper surface almost as smooth and level as a table and
easily accommodating twenty people, it affords a popular
resort for visitors desiring a
view of the valley below. This stone is poised upon a
pyramid of rocks about eighteen feet high.
Another curious formation in the Neff Grounds is the
Devil's Wash Basin formed in solid rock in the bed of the
stream a short distance above the "Cascade." It is
twelve inches deep and six
A Bit of Natural Landscape Gardening on the Little
Miami above Yellow Springs.
feet in diameter
with edges as smooth as if carved by hand.
A short distance below this basin is a cascade about
twelve feet in height which affords a very pretty sight as
the water goes leaping over the rocks into the deep ravine
below, sending out a sparkling mist upon the ferns, flowers
and fragrant honeysuckles hanging form the adjacent cliffs.
Below the Cascade is the Magnetic Spring discovered after
the flood of 1886. Further down the gorge is the old
"Indian Silver Mine," which in former years
was worked considerably but never paid very well.
Below this mine two streams unite at a point known as
Lovers' Lane. It consists of a lovely shady walk in
the grove above, overlooking the two streams and affording a
magnificent landscape view.
On Oct. 19, 1878, Messrs, Jesse Taylor and D.
C. Duncan discovered the Antioch bone cave in the Neff
Grounds, a short distance from Pompey's Piller. It
faces south, is about four feet high and three feet wide,
and extends into the cliffs about fifteen feet.
Skeletons of a child and of several kinds of animals were
found therein. The child was supposed to belong to
some prehistoric race.
The Lake in the Neff Grounds covers about ten acres of
ground and is a perfect gem set between high bluffs and
wooded hills and is an attractive place for boating and
The Old Neff House was erected on a bluff near
the Yellow Spring in 1840 and for years was crowded with
visitors from all over the United States. It burned
down in the sixties and a new Neff House was
built in 1869-70. The new building was four and a half
stories high, contained three hundred rooms, and cost over
$100,000. It had quite a run for several seasons.
In 1892 it was torn down and shipped to Cincinnati.
Just south of the Neff Grounds is Sheldon's
Glen in which, in 1848, the Water-Cure Hotel was erected by
Drs. Chaney and Herman. This hotel was a
famous health resort and enjoyed a national reputation for
several years. It burned down in 1856 and was never
In 1850 a convention of ministers of the Christian
denomination assembled at Marion, New York, and after long
deliberation decided to erect a college of high character.
A committee was appointed to secure a location.
Judge William Mills and a few citizens of Yellow Springs
came to the front offering twenty acres of ground and
$30,000 in cash to secure the College here. Their
offer was accepted and the work began in 1852 and was
finished in thirty-seven months. Horace Mann of
Massachusetts was chosen first president and under his
leadership in institution flourished and gained national
prominence. (See the article on Antioch College).
YELLOW SPRINGS. Photos by Stretcher
"Little Antioch" High School
Campus Entrance, Antioch.
Church is on S. Walnut Street betw. Short St. & W.
Limestone St. Still standing in 2019
William Neff, of Cincinnati, purchased "The Glen," now
known as the Neff Grounds in 1811. He brought
with him Mr. Frank Haffner, who acted as manager of
the grounds for a great many years. Mr. Neff
only spending a portion of his time here. The property
has now passed to the Great Beyond. Mr. Samuel Cox,
who was born here 75 years ago, is still living. He
remembers when Yellow Springs was a vast wilderness when
there was not a house between the old Yellow Springs House
and the Currie place south of town. He has witnessed
the growth of the village from a few log huts to a modern
up-to-date town with over four miles of cement sidewalks,
electric railway, two telephone systems, telegraph lines,
railroad, express, bank, modern postoffice with a rural free
delivery, opera house, fine college, good churches, schools,
lodges and societies. There is a good prospect for
natural gas. The streets are large and well shaded,
the home commodious and comfortable and the people kind and
The churches of the village are as follows: The
Methodist Episcopal was organized in 1837 by Mr. and Mrs.
Daniel Pennell. Mrs. Cox and David Potter,
the meetings being held in houses, barns and groves.
The first meetings were conducted by Joseph Hill, Robert
Cheney and others. In 1840 a building was erected
on the northeast corner of Dayton and Corry Streets and
dedicated to Rev. Hammeline. In 1845-6 Judge
William Mills and A. B. Johnson donated lots and
money for a new edifice on Locust Street in exchange for the
old building. A parsonage was built soon after.
The present Presbyterian church located on Walnut
Street was organized upon the request of Judge William
Mills under the direction of the Dayton (New School)
Presbytery by Rev. Samuel D. Smith, Feb. 3, 1855.
The church building was erected in 1859 and dedicated Mar.
3, 1860. The church was legally incorporated as the
Fist Presbyterian Church Jan. 19, 1859. (CLICK
HERE to see present day picture of the Presbyterian
Church located in same place)
The Christian church was organized in 1857-8 by
Elder D. T. Ladleyand a large brick church was erected
on the corner of
CLIFTON. Three upper photos
by Robert Swaby.
The Gorge, in summer and winter
Arch Bridge and Falls
North Street, showing town hall (on right) and schoolhouse
tower - Clay Street.
Davis and Elm Streets. The church has enjoyed great
success in the past, but during the past few years so many
of the leading members have died or moved away, that
meetings have ceased to be held. The trustees a short
time ago sold the church building to the Catholic
denomination. The Catholics have been occupying a
one-story brick church on High Street for a great many
years, and their increasing numbers required a larger
There are two colored churches here, the Baptist and
the Baptist and the African Methodist Episcopal. Both
are well organized and have been in existence for nearly
Yellow Springs is well equipped with societies.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was organized May 21,
1853; the Free and Accepted Masons No. 421 in August, 168;
F. A. A. M. Fountain Lodge 35, in 1872; Grand United Order
of Odd Fellows, No. 1979, in 1881; Grand Army of the
Republic, 1881; Woman's Relief Corps, 1894; Pride of Solomon
Lodge, No. 39, June 27, 1903; Junior Order of United
American Mechanics, 1901; Public Library Association, Mar.
1, 1899. All are active and doing good work in their
Dr. D. E. Spahr.
village of Clifton derives its name from the continuous
beautiful cliffs that constitute the rocky gorge of the
Little Miami River. It is the oldest town in Miami
Township and contains a population of about 300. It
was laid out in 1833 by Robert Watson, surveyor, and
Timothy Bates and Bennett Lewis, original
proprietors. The land was purchased for General
Patterson who at that time owned a mill on the river at
the present site of Clifton. The propelling facilities
were all that could be desired and soon a distillery, saw
mill, and flour mill were in operation. Being located
on the cincinnati, Lebanon & Columbus stage route, the new
town was accessible to the outside world. It was
incorporated in 1835. failing to get the railroad from
Xenia to Springfield was its Waterloo from which it has
never recovered. At one time it bid fair to be the
most prosperous business town in
the county. The most noted pioneer character was
Gen. Benjamin Whiteman, who was a brave soldier, noted
Indian fighter and commissioner, who built the first court
house in Xenia and whose old homestead, the old stone house
at the big spring east of Clifton, is still standing.
Clifton has at this time three churches, a
Presbyterian, a United Presbyterian, and a Methodist
Episcopal. The city building is a much more
pretentious building than is usually found in villages of
this size. It is a brick structure with mayor's office
and lockup downstairs, and J. O. U. A. M. Hall upstairs.
The Opera House, a first-class little theater, has a stage
42 feet wide and a seating capacity of 500 - a first-class
opera seat for every man, woman and child in the village and
200 of their friends. The school house is a commodious
brick structure of two stories, with four teachers.
The churches are commodious and up-to-date. The town
boasts of three general stores, two blacksmith shops, barber
shop, restaurant, notary public, two prosperous physicians,
a flourishing K. of P. lodge, a J. O. U. A. M. with a good
membership, and a Grand Army Post. The village is
properly laid out and is beautiful for situation, and is a
delightful place to pass the simple life. The people
are quiet, intelligent, and hospitable. Many
distinguished people who have been associated with Clifton
scenery in their youthful days are constantly returning to
admire and enjoy the scenes still so dear to their hearts.
THE ROCKY CANYON AT CLIFTON.
To fully appreciate the beauty and grandeur of the
picturesque Rocky Gorge at Clifton we should make at least
two separate visits and explorations. One of these
should be in the depth of winter, when the massive rocks are
stripped of their summer covering and stand out grim, cold,
and silent; when the door of each dark cavern stands open,
when each rock, column and embankment stands rugged and
magnificent before you and your voice echoes and
reverberates throughout the solemn loneliness of this
miniature canyon. Then again we should behold it as we
shall today, in early June, bedecked in summer garb,
array-as we shall today, in early June, bedecked in summer
garb, arrayed in the drapery of green leaves and creeping
vines and flowering
plants that add much to the loveliness but detract from the
apparent depth and breadth and obstruct our observation.
Standing at the at the breast of the mill dam, at the
edge of the village, we observe the winding course of the
river, as it flows peacefully through a comparatively level,
almost flat, country - no rugged mountains or hills in
sight. Yet the peaceful water no sooner drops over the
dam than it falls into a deep gully which deepens and widens
as it advances. Thus it stealthily glides along,
skirting the south and west of the village, secure and
STEAMBOAT ROCK, CLIFTON.
obscured in its
almost subterranean passage. As we follow its winding
course around the village we encounter first the old saw
mill with its water power, a relic of antiquity; then the
arch bridge, the flouring mill, and numerous other scenes
that bring the camera in the crowd into requisition.
At the west of the village the old factory site, with the
spring that issues form a cave under the Yellow Springs
pike, is a subject for investigation. Here the channel
deepens and narrows and the waters, com-
pressed from the sides and standing on edge plunge over the
falls spreading out into a deep dark pool, shaded, cool, and
impressive. Here the "silent old boatman," long since
gone to his reward, piloted his canoe loaded with
appreciative sightseers enraptured with the soul-inspiring
scene of the falls from below. Above these deep
waters, where the towering rocky walls approximate each
other, is the spot where tradition locates that mythical
story of the wonderful leap of Simon Kenton, when to
save his scalp he made the most astonishing jump on record
and so escaped the noble red man.
A little further on a depression in the side of the
wall of the canyon is designated as the Devil's Armchair.
Now we have reached the Cedar Garden, a beautiful grove in
the widened chasm. Here are the twin Arch Bridges.
A painting of the first one adorns the drop curtain in
Xenia's opera house; form beneath the other a little stream
falls over the remains of the Jug Handle famed in story by
Captain Howard many years ago.
Now the Steamboat Rock and Big Spring claim our
admiration. Then the old paper mill location and the
Blue Hole attract us for awhile, but the Brightest and Best,
the ideal camping grounds and cool spring allure us into
resting and refreshments, leaving numerous caves, Brewer's
Springs and Cutlass Hole, and Bryan's Riverside camping
grounds for the afternoon.
In a word, no spot in Ohio has more beauty and
attractiveness for the sightseer, or charm for the
piscatorial sportsman or sentimental lover, or information
for the geologist, botanist, or philosopher. These
delightful cliffs have quietly and unpretentiously won their
fame - a fame that is as substantial and enduring as their
own unalterable rocks.
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