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HANCOCK COUNTY, OHIO
History & Genealogy

HISTORY OF HANCOCK COUNTY, OHIO
By D. B. Beardsley - Findley, O.
Publ. Springfield, O. Republic Printing Co. - 1881.

CHAPTER XXV.
AMANDA TOWNSHIP

pg 194 - 204

T. 1, S. R. 11 E.
AREA 17,380 ACRES.

T. 1, S. R. 12 E.
POPULATION 1,476

     Amanda township borders on the east line of the county, and is bounded north by Marion and Big Lick townships, on the east by Wyandotte county, on the south by Wyandotte county and Delaware township, and on the west by Jackson.
     This township was organized in 1828, and beside Findley and Delaware was the only one organized in the first year of our county existence.  In the year 1830, at the time of the organization of Marion and Liberty townships, we have mention of Amanda township, for the territory included in this and Findley township was so divided up as to form the four townships of Amanda, Marion, Liberty and Findley.  In December, 1831, it was ordered by the Commissioners that "the township of Amanda shall hereafter consist of the original township one south, in Range 12, and sections 34 and 35 in the original surveyed township one north, in the twelfth Range.
     This township at the present time, and ever since the formation of Wyandotte county, sections 34 and 35 having been restored to township one north (Big Lick) by act of the County Commissioners, comprises Sections 1, 12, 13, 24, 25 and 36.in township one south, Range eleven east, and

[Pg. 195]

First Entries of Land.

Sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 28, 29,30, 31, 32 and 33 in township one south, Range twelve east.

     THOMAS THOMPSON made the first entry of land in this township, on the 25th day of February, 1822, being the east half of the north-west quarter of Section three, and on the 278th day of the same month, the west half of the north east quarter of the same section was entered by Henry McWHORTER.  In October, 1823, John BRUNDIGE entered the north-west quarter of Section thirty-six, and John SMITH entered the west half of the south-east quarter of the same section in December of the same year.  In the month of March, 1825, Isaac GIFFORD, of the State of New York, made entry of the east half of the north-west quarter of Section twelve.  In 1826, Ira Baker and John SHOEMAKER made entries.  These were followed in 1827 by John BEARD, Peter GEORGE, Henry GEORGE, Abraham COLE and others, and in 1828 by Jesse GILBERT, John J. HENDRICKS, Andrew Beck and others.
     The first settlement in this township was made by Thomas THOMPSON, in 18254, near the Big Springs, about one mile from the present town of VANLUE, and in 1825 John HUFF and William HACKNEY came.  They were followed soon after by James BEARD, John SHOEMAKER, Henry GEORGE and Thomas COLE.  Very soon after these Peter GEORGE, James GIBSON, John HEWITT and Aquilla GILBERT  settled here.  Judge Abraham HUFF  was also one of the pioneers of this township.
     Thomas THOMPSON was a resident of this township for more than a half century, and was highly esteemed by his neighbors.  He was a farmer, an occupation which he followed to within a few years of his death, when old age and

[Pg. 196]
infirmities compelled him to dentist.  He then moved to the village of VANLUE, where he spent his last days in quiet and died regretted.
     Peter GEORGE, who was known as the "Pioneer land hunter," he having entertained, and guided through the forest of Hancock County, more land hunters and emigrants than any other men in the county perhaps, is still living; And though bent by age and hard labor, is yet cheerful and happy, and loves to recount the experiences of a backwoodsman.  Mr. GEORGE was County Commissioner for six years.
     WILLIAM HACKNEY was one of the first officers of the county, and is spoken of elsewhere.
     Aquilla GILBERT, one of the first settlers of Jackson, as well as of this township, and who taught the first school in this township, still lives here.  Mr. GILBERT has been prominently connected with the affairs of the county almost from its first organization, and has held office in both county and township.  He was six years one of the Commissioners of the county, having been elected in 18347.  He served as Justice of the Peace for five consecutive terms in Jackson township, and for three terms in Amanda township.
     Abraham HUFF, as one of the Associate Judges of the county, has been mentioned heretofore.
     The first election was held in the township in 1828.  The first school house, as stated by Aquilla GILBERT, was built in the Messmore neighborhood, and the first school was taught by Mr. GILBERT.  Another opinion, that of J. M. Von HORN, is that the first school house was built near the center of the township, and that the first school in the township was kept in a house on the farm of Uriah EGBERT, in about the year 1831, and that one George SMITH was teacher.  It is not very material which of these gentlemen is correct, for

[Pg. 197]

Timber and Land

all agree that these two schools were almost, if not quite, cotemperaneous.
     There are now eight sub-districts in the township, each one of which has a comfortable school-room.  The enumeration of youth is 180 males, and 176 females; total 356 in township, and in the village of Vanlue, special school district, the enumeration is 170.
     The first church was built in 1831, in the south part of township, and known as the "Swamp Church,"  The Lutheran denomination owned it, and amongst the first membership we find the names of Fred BRENNER and wife, Adam ALSPOCH and wife, John FENSTENMAKER and wife, and several members of the BECK family.  The first sermon preached in the township was by a Rev. Thompson, an Indian Missionary.  There are now in this township eight church buildings, owned as follows:  One Methodist Episcopal, one Methodist Protestant, two United Brethren, one Baptist, one German Reformed, one Lutheran and one Disciples.
     The timber is principally walnut, ash, oak, elm, ,hickory, beech, sugar.  There were a few places in the township that were but sparsely wooded; notably so a tract in the north-east part known as the fallen timber region, and a portion of the south part known as the swamp.
     In the eastern part of the township the soil is clay, mixed with sand and gravel, and when once properly cultivated is very productive.  As before remarked, in the south part is what the people here call the "Swamp" a strip of land not many rods wide, but extending almost across the township, from east to west, the soil of which is a deep rich vegetable loam, mixed with sand.  This tract at the early settlement of this section, was thought to be almost, if not quite wholly worthless.  But as agricultural science developed

[Pg. 198]
the means by which it might be brought into use, it was found not only possible to reclaim it, but that when so reclaimed, it was unusually productive.  The river bottoms of a sandy, gravelly nature, plentifully mixed with the rich deposits of vegetable matter, made by the overflows of the water of course are easily tilled, and yield most abundantly.  In the northern part, as we have before observed, is a tract of about eight hundred acres, known as the "fallen timber,"  the soil of which is a muck, mixed with portions of clay and sand.  This tract was originally very wet, and it is owing to this fact, perhaps, that so much of the timber, especially the larger, had fallen.
     The Blanchard River enters this township near the south west corner of Section twenty-five, runs east to about the center of the section, and then almost directly north through sections twenty-four, thirteen, twelve, and into section one, when it takes a north-westerly direction, leaving the township near the north-west corner.  This river furnishes an abundance of water, as well as drainage, for the most part of the township, and is of immense value.
     Buck Run, a small and unimportant stream, is the only tributary of the Blanchard, and is important only as a source of drainage.  The Big Spring on the land of David SMITH, in the north-east part of the township, is most valuable on account of the great volume of water discharged, as well as the excellent quality of the same.  This is undoubtedly the largest spring in the county.  Such is the amount of water discharged that an abundance is furnished for the watering of stock in all this part of the township.
     This is one of the most populous townships in the county, and it is fast becoming one of the wealthiest.  Each year sees the better improvement of the older farms, and the re-

[Pg. 199]

Post Offices and Justices of the Peace

claiming of new lands; the erection of a better class of farm buildings, and the introduction of the latest improved farming implements.  The early settlers came principally from the eastern counties, and progressive people.
     There are two flouring mills, and very good ones too, in this township; one a stream, and the other a water mill.
     There have been three Post Offices in this township, but two of them were long since discontinued.  The first established was the "Blanchard Bridge," at the house of Aquilla Gilbert, on the Blanchard River.  Mr. Gilbert was the first and only Post Master.  The office was in existence for many years, and was a great accommodation to the citizens.  But village sprung up in the vicinity, and travel took another route, and the office was discontinued.  Shortly after the establishment of "Blanchard Bridge," another office was established near the Richard Hall farm and called "Ashery."  Joseph Twining was the first and only Post Master here.  This office was long since discontinued for the reason that the necessity for its existence had passed away.  The third office was established at Vanlue, of which we will speak in the proper place.
     The following named persons have held the office of Justice of the Peace.  The date of their election is givne.

     Thomas THOMPSON - 1829
     John J. HENDRICKS - 1829
     Samuel GORDEN - 1831, 1834, 1837, 1840, 1843, 1846
     Abraham KARN - 1836
     John THOMPSON- 1840, 1843
     William VANLUE - 1845, 1848, 1851, 1854
     Aquilla GILBERT - 1849, 1852, 1855
     B. A. ETHERTON- 1857, 1860, 1863, 1866

[Pg. 200]
     John CRAWFORD - 1857, 1860, 1863, 1865, 1868, 1871, 1874, 1877, 1880
     T. B. Gilbert - 1866
     Ira Plotts - 1869, 1872, 1875
     B. F. Burnap - 1878, 1881

CAPERNAUM.

     The town of Capernaum, which was in the township, was laid out by Abraham HUFF in March, 1831, on the west half of the north-east quarter of section three, and comprised in all sixteen lots.  The land on which the town was located, now belongs to John L. SHERIDAN, and aside from the fact that it was platted and recorded, the town has no record.  The site was probably abandoned before any lots were sold.  At least its history is less brief than is that of the city of the plain, for which it was named.  It is exceedingly doubtful if any one in the vicinity is able to even point out the site.

VANLUE

     This town was laid out by William VANLUE, Esq., in whose honor it was named, and is on the north-west part of the north-east quarter, and the north-east part of the north-west quarter of section nine.  It is located on the line of the Findley branch of the Cleveland, Sandusky and Cincinnati Railroad, ten miles a little south of east of Findley.  The town was laid out in May, 1847, and at that time consisted of forty-four lots.  In November of the same year the proprietor laid out an addition of fifty lots more.
     In October, 1853, S. N. BEACH made an addition of fifty-seven lots, and in 1858, he, with others, laid out BEACH's second addition of forty-nine lots.  Charles CR0SS laid out an addition of ten lots in 1870.

[Pg. 201]

Vanlue.

     From the sale of the first lots the town steadily improved, and was a very considerable grain market for a number of years after the completion of the railroad, but of no great importance otherwise.
     There are many tasteful and comfortable dwellings, neat fences, shady streets, all giving the place of home-like appearance.  The streets have never received that attention from the town authorities which they deserve, and consequently they are frequently in a bad condition.  After a few years of great prosperity, the town, as new towns do, slacked up, and stopped progress, came to a stand still, went through a sweat as it were.  Business seemed for a time to have forsaken the place.  Enterprise too, seemed to have taken its leave.  Progress had got stuck somewhere, and everything seemed going to the dogs.  But this state of affairs could not last long.  The town could not stand still.  It must go forward, or must retreat.
     In 1866, upon the petition of fifty of the inhabitants, the village was incorporated under the laws of the State.  Pursuant to the Act of Incorporation, the first election for village officers was held on the 13th day of April, 1867; Peter SHUCK, C. H. HATCH and Jason LEE as Judges, and Ira PLOTTS, B. A. ETHERTON, Charles HATCH and A. S. ROBERTS; Marshal, W. L. PLOTTS.  The following persons have held the offices of Mayor:  Elisha BROWN, Aquilla GILBERT, Fred SHULER, J. H. BROWN, B. F. BURNAP, T. B. GILBERT, H. L. LEE.
    
The population of the village is three hundred and sixty-four, and at present is in the flourishing condition, and promises much improvement.

[Pg. 202]
     There is quite a considerable business done in the village, as a list of its business houses will show.
     There is one dry goods store4, of considerable capital, and in which is kept a supply of the staple articles of merchandise, which are sold at very fair prices.  This branch of trade has always been reasonably well represented, sometimes by three or four rival establishments, at the same time.
     A grocery and provision store has been lately opened, and is meeting with fair encouragement, and promises not only to be one of the fixtures of the town, but to fill a want long felt in its line.
     Daniel GILBERT has for a number of years been engaged in the drug business here, and has an establishment, which for completeness, in everything except extent of stock, is not surpassed by any similar establishment in the county.  Here you may find anything necessary to be kept in a country drug store.  The building is of frame, and was built expressly for this business.
     There are also three saloons, and one hotel, one harness shop, one hardware store, with a general stock of goods in that line.  This establishment was owned and managed by the late Hon. John WESCOTT & Son, and had by a course of fair dealing, reasonable prices, and by keeping an assortment of goods, built up a flourishing trade.  There is one furniture store, one tin shop, three boot and shoe shops, two barber shops, three dress makers and milliner shops, two blackmith shops.
     The steam grist and merchant mill of Fred SHULER, has no superior in the county as a good flour-maker.  This mill was first built about fifteen years ago, and was from the first noted for the fine grand of flour it turned out.  Mr. SHULER

[Pg. 203]
conducted the business for a number of years, when he sold to a Mr. VANSANT, who alter running the mill for a short time, had the misfortune to have it burned down, destroying everything of building and machinery.  Not being able to rebuild, Mr. VANSANT left the place, when Mr. SHULER again came to the front, and built the present building, completing it with the latest, best and most improved machinery, and now can boast of as good a flouring mill as there is in the county, at least.
     There are two steam saw mills, two handle factories, and two planing Mills, none of them very large, but all doing a good business.
     The English Lutherans have quite a comfortable frame church building, and a good congregation.  Some three years ago the United Brethren, who had long had a society here, and a church building, erected a neat frame church, well furnished and comfortable, and have quite a large congregation.
     The Methodist Episcopal, the oldest church organization in the town, not to be outdone by her sister churches, recently completed one of the handsomest frame church buildings  in the county, furnished with bell, organ, beautiful pulpit, and comfortable seats.  They, to, have a large and interested congregation.  All of these societies have flourishing Sabbath Schools attached.
     The village has a frame school building of three rooms, and boasts of one of the best schools in the county.  The enumeration of youth in the district is one hundred and seventy.
     A Post Office was established here in 1849, with Dr. W. P. WILSON as Post Master.  The successive Post Masters

[Pg. 204]
have been as follows:  John WESCOTT, W. P. WILSON, Ira PLOTTS, W. A. SPONSLER and Daniel GILBERT.
    
The Findley branch of the C. S. & C. Railroad passes through this place, and the town being surrounded as it is by a rich agricultural district, there is quite an amount of freighting business done.
     Table exhibiting the number and value of live stock, and acreage and product of grain, as shown by the return of the Township Assessor in 1881.

Horses 693 number $26,400 value
Cattle, 1,221 " 13,110 "
Sheep, 2,572 " 4,670 "
Swine, 2,507 " 5,740 "
Wheat, 3,703 acres 71,162 bushels
Oats, 376 " 13,422 "
Corn, 2,926 " 133,320 "
Hay, 619 " 705 tons
Flax, 78 " 496 bushels

END OF AMANDA TOWNSHIP -

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