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HENRY COUNTY, OHIO
History & Genealogy

HISTORY

Source:
History of Henry & Fulton Counties
edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich - Syracuse NY - Publ. D. Mason & Co.
1888.

 

Chapter XVIII.
pg. 203
HISTORY OF DAMASCUS
TOWNSHIP

     IT would appear that the biography of a middle aged man could be easily written, and the information obtainable from one person.  So should the history of a county, young as that of Henry, be accurately and speedily compiled.  We are, however, confronted with a mountain of difficulties seemingly insurmountable.  The smoke of the element, to the music of which Nero is said to have kept time with his fiddle, has obscured the early foot-prints; ignorance has made no record, and when made carelessness has permitted it to be destroyed.  Unlike an old settled county one generation has not stepped into the tracks of its predecessor, and tradition preserved the record; but like the Toltecs and the Aztecs, the successor has inherited no history of its predecessor, and it is only from a few landmarks and the impaired recollection of a very few of the remaining members of the original tribe of Abraham that we are enabled to gather a few recollections worth preserving and embalming in print.

THREE STAGES OF CIVILIZATION.

     We find three types of civilization as having existed here.  Pioneer is rather a misnomer for the first, as he came not as a settler, removed but a few obstructions, and cleared a very narrow way for those who were to follow; he was rather an adventurer, restless in civilization and happy only in the solitude of wild nature; the rifle and the dog were his companions, and the fruit of the hunt and trap his only means of support.  Very little improvement was made by this type; a small corn and truck patch was cleared, and a rude log cabin erected, but the immense forests remained comparatively undisturbed.  He was followed by the man with the ax, and in his footsteps came the saw-mill.  This was the timbering period, and the giants of the forest fell rapidly before the woodman's ax.  The monster oaks were felled, hewed sleded to the Maumee, rafted to Toledo, thence on vessels to Montreal and Quebec, and then to Liverpool, England, where they were converted into vessels.  The walnut, ash and poplar were converted into lumber and shipped to Eastern markets.  The soft wood has become valuable only in late years and since the advent of the stave factory and hoop maker.  With the lumbermen came many who remained, and accompanied or followed by others in search of cheap homes.  These with their descendants, eastern arrivals and foreign immigration make up the present population and civilization.

CIVIL ORGANIZATION.

     Damascus township was organized as a voting precinct in 1823, included the whole of what was then Henry county; with the voting place at Independence, now in Defiance county.  As time advanced improvements multiplied and population increased, new civil townships were formed, until Damascus is a present limited to the original government-surveyed township No. Five, north of range eight, east, minus so much as lies north of the Maumee River, and forms part of Washington township, being sections 1 and 6, the most of 5 and 7 and parts of three and 4.  It is, of course, bounded on the north by the Maumee, on the east by Wood county, on the south by Richfield, and on the west by Harrison township.  In 1840, when its territory, divided with Richfield and Flat Rock, embraced all of the county south of the river, it has a population of only 489.  In 1860, reduced to its present dimensions, it contained 761 souls, which in 1870 had increased to 1,179, this grew to 1,415 in 1880, and at present, estimating from the voting population and including the village of McClure, which has sprung up since, must number not less than 2,000 persons.

TOPOGRAPHY.

     The township, in common with the county, is very level, or rather flat. It is, however, easily drained into the several natural water courses which run through the township, emptying into the Maumee.
     The south branch of Turkey Foot, the main creek south of the Maumee, enters the township in the southwest of section nineteen, running north-easterly through sections nineteen, eighteen and seventeen and emptying into the river in the west half of section eight.  Lick Creek starts in the southwest corner of section twenty-nine, also running in the northeasterly direction until it reaches the river in the northwest corner of section three, a fragment of which lies south of the river.  The east branch of this creek commences in the south-west corner of section sixteen, uniting with the main creek in the southeast corner of section nine.  Big Creek starts in the southwest quarter of section thirty-four, running south, tending slightly to the east, through sections twenty-seven, twenty-two, fifteen and eleven, reaching the river in the southwest quarter of the latter section.  The channels of these creeks have been greatly improved by widening and deepening, and with the system of artificial drainage, both surface and under-ground tiling, completely drain the township, which is now one of the best improved and most productive in the county, the soil being mainly black alluvium and its fertility seemingly inexaustible.
     The Coldwater, Mansfield, and Lake Michigan Railroad is located through the township, its road commencing at the east side of the southwest quarter of section twenty-five and running in the southwestern direction through sections twenty-five and running in the southwestern direction through sections twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty and nineteen.  The "Narrow Guage," now converted into a standard, and known as the "Clover Leaf" route, also runs through the township, entering on the east line at the northeast corner of section thirteen and running diagonally through the township, southwesterly to the southwest corner of section thirty-one.  It crosses the road bed of the C. M. & L. M. Railroad, in the northeast quarter of section twenty-eight.  The location of the railroads, especially the construction of the narrow guage, gave birth to the......

VILLAGE OF McCLURE.

     This, the only village in the township, was laid out and platted into town lots by John McCLURE, and entered of record in the office of the recorder of Henry County, April 15, 1880, and is situated "in the northeast part of the northeast quarter of section twenty-eight," on the line of the Delphos and Toledo (narrow guage) Railroad.  The original plat was 711 feet square and was divided into twenty-eight lots, including the depot grounds.  On the 7th day of February, 1881, Mr. McCLURE added an addition of thirty-two lots on the south of the town, increasing the number of lots to sixty.  April 7, 1881, David FOLTZ platted an addition of six lots to the east side of the town, and August 26, 1881, added another addition of four lots on the south of the town.  October 19, 1881, J. G. MARKLEY's addition of twenty-four lots was added to the north of the town.  Sept. 23, 1881, Mr. McCLURE added his second addition of twenty-six lots on the west of his first addition.  Sept. 5, 1882, Ammond SMITH, platted an addition of five lots to the west of McClure's second addition.  April 10, 1885, J. G. MARKLEY added a second addition of sixteen lots on the west of his first addition.
     The village was incorporated in 1886, and the plat admitted to record on the 10th day of August of that year.
     The first substantial building erected in the village was in 1880, on lot fifteen on the original plat, by Thomas W. DURBIN, who for a number of years had been merchandising at Texas, in Washington township.  The building is a two-story frame, one hundred and thirty feet deep, and twenty-two feet wide.  A general mercantile business is carried on by the "DURBAN boys" - DICKSON, CHARLES, and CLARK, sons of the proprietor.  The same year Andrew Johnson erected a commodious hotel; the year following the ROWLAND brothers put up an elevator and also a store-room; following were the COUNSELMAN brothers with still another store; then came the stave factory, planing-mill, etc.  The town at present contains a population of five hundred, has a post, express and telegraph office, one church, a large two-story school-house, three general stores, one drug store, a hardware store, saw-mill, stave factory, planing-mill, and the various mechanical artisans.  Gas and oil have lately been struck, mains and pipes have been laid, and the town is now heated and lighted by the natural vapor.

EARLY SETTLERS.

     In 1837 there were but three hundred and eighty-five acres of land in what is now Damascus township, on the duplicate for taxation, and it was a number of years after that date before settlement commenced.  John SAVAGE was, perhaps, one of the very first actual settlers; Abraham SNYDER came from Virginia in 1840, but first settled in Washington, at the time called Myo township; James REID came in 1843; James FISER, also from Virginia, came the same year; Samuel DOMER in 1849, and Solomon DOMER the year following; Milton JENNINGS came in 1851; Jacob BEAVER was one of the early settlers; William BELL, Philip W. COUNSELMAN, the SHEPARD family, John M. McCLURE, John FOLTZ, John C. McLAIN, may be mentioned among the pioneers to whom is due the credit of converting the forests of Damascus into a garden.
     Present Condition - Not less than three-fourths of the lands of this township were under a high state of cultivation, worth from $25 to $85 per acre.  The township is well ditched, ahs good roads on almost every section line; its residences and farm buildings are surpassed by few localities, and it has more churches and school-houses than any other township in the county, or, in fact, in most any other county.  Its population is very moral, sober and industrious, in fact a more desirable community or better county in which to live, will be hard to find.
     Damascus township presents several sad examples from which the farmer and agriculturist should profit.  Several of her pioneer and best to do farmers who purchased government lands at a low price in the early days of the county, settled in the wilderness, and patiently enduring all hardships and deprivations, were in their old age induced by their boys, who had become fascinated with town life, or felt too proud to farm, to sell their hard earned homes, now valuable, and remove to the neighboring town and engage in merchandising, a business of which neither they or their boys knew anything.
     In discussing the reasons why so many of the boys born and bred on farms, become dissatisfied with rural life, and why so few follow the occupation at which their fathers had won success, there is one that is too little considered.  Most of these young men expect some day to marry, and seeing how hard a time their mothers usually have, are properly unwilling to oblige the girls they love to assume such arduous responsibilities.  In fact, they cannot oblige a girl to become a farmer's wife if they would.  The time for such obligation has not yet come, and in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred, ambitious girls, who like a man well enough for himself, suppress their feelings and give him the go-by, if this be the prospect in life that he holds out "for better or for worse."  It is, unfortunately, not altogether a prejudice that thus influences young women against the farm, or rather it is the natural prejudgment of their own fate from the facts in farmers' wives' experiences with which they are themselves familiar.
     Undoubtedly the greatest improvement in farming life now needed consists in greater comforts and conveniences for farmers' wives.  The farmer himself has all sorts of labor-saving machinery.  The wife often has to do with only the same conveniences provided for her mother and grandmother before her.  As social duties become more exacting her time and leisure are less than formerly.  Children on the farm do not "rough it" as much as they used to.  Just all the difference in their appearance marks so much the greater care thrown upon the mother.  It is more difficult than formerly to get good help in the house in the country.  Girls who work in private families prefer city life.  They, too, had rather find a beau among the young men in some city avocation than on a farm.  Now, as far as possible, a farmer should make his wife's work proportionately as easy as his own, or he should quit the business if satisfied that this cannot be done.  Usually the hardest jobs in the house may be saved by a little timely thoughtfulness on the part of the husband and men folks.  Having a good supply of wood or other fuel in the convenient place ought to be a requirement from every housewife.  So, too, should good hard and soft water convenient for use.  Many steps may be saved by constructing sewage drains to convey slops from the house.  This drain should terminate in some receptacle at a distance from the house, which, kept disinfected, will more than pay its way in providing fertilizers for the farm.
     It is presumed that most farmers' wives have sewing machines.  They are as great help in the house as mowers and harvesters are on the farm, and may be used many more days in the year.  The ice-house and creamery should be maintained wherever a cow is kept.  They make a great saving in the labor of caring for milk, and are besides well worth their cost in making more and better butter than by the old laborious methods.  The ice-cold milk from the creamer is an excellent drink for hard working men.  With every particle of cream removed it is as nutritious as it ever was, and its coolness, combined with nutrition, makes it valuable for a drink to men in the hay and harvest fields.  Then, too, with plenty of ice it is easy to have ice cream easily, made cheaply and better than nine-tenths of what is sold in cities.  With beautiful home-grown flowers in the dooryard, and perhaps a green house for them in winter, the farmer's wife need ask no odds of her city sisters with equal wealth in the in the pleasures and refinements of life which each may enjoy.
     The trouble with most farmers is that they do not make the most of little things where they can easily and cheaply increase the comforts and luxuries of life.  Lacking these they look with greater envy on the supposed advantages of city residents, and of course become discontented and unhappy.  If farmers asked the advice of their wives more than they do about household arrangements,  and gave them their way in these, they would find the comforts of their homes greatly increased thereby.  Perhaps then their sons, whom they hope to leave as prosperous farmers, would not be deterred from their father's business by their inability to find lovable and intelligent young women willing to share such a life with them.

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