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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 XXIII
pg. 243
HISTORY OF MARION TOWNSHIP

     MARION is the extreme southern township in the county of range seven, being bounded on the south by township two of that range, the line between the two forming the line between Putnam and Henry counties.
     There is little to distinguish this township from the balance of the county except the south or (as named by the geologists of the State) Belmore Ridge, which runs through it, entering the township near the half section line of section thirty, and running in a winding track eastward through sections twenty-nine, twenty-eight and twenty-seven, when it turns southeasterly through sections twenty-six, thirty five and thirty-six, crossing the township line near the southeast corner of the latter section.  The lands along this ridge are high and dry.  The remainder of the township is, or rather was, very wet, but exceedingly well timbered with burr and white oak, walnut, maple, poplar, ash and the softer woods.
     The settlement of the township has been slow, and even comparatively modern.  Located in a dense forest, no roads, not even "cow paths," and no way to reach market except on foot, it was absolutely inaccessible, except from the ridge, which made a good natural road to Defiance.  The wetness of the soil, the density of the forest and the isolation of the territory from market and civilization, were, however, not the only causes which retarded the settlement and improvement of the township.  In the years 1850-51, before the adoption of the new constitution, Samuel Medary, then editor of the Ohio Statesman, and the Columbus gentlemen and capitalists, conceived the idea of founding a settlement in the "Black Swamp," ad laid out a village, which they named Medary, in township two of this range of land, in Putnam county.  About the same time a scheme was formulated by John M. Palmer, who subsequently became a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, to construct a plank road from the above village, northward, to intersect the Kalida pike in section thirty, Monroe township.  The road is still known as the Medary road.  Palmer, by some process of manipulation in which rascality is ever fruitful, succeeded in getting a board of stupid trustees to issue the bonds of Marion township, which at that time  had scarcely any population, in the sum of five thousand dollars for the ostensible purpose of building this plank road.  Having secured the bonds Palmer negotiated them at once, put the proceeds in his pocket, and the road was never built.  The debt, however, was entailed on the township, and to that extent was a mortgage on all the land.  The lands were valued very low, and the duplicate being small, the tax was correspondingly high, and the debt was not finally paid until 1864.  This aided materially in preserving Marion as the camping and squatting ground of the hunter, and gave it the name of "Big Woods."
     The township was organized in the spring of 1847, at which time there were but ten voters living in it.  The duplicate of that year shows but seven chattel tax payers: John Hamler, Samuel H. Harshberger, Daniel Harshberger, William Bales, William Rayle, S. K. Warnick and W. M. Warner.  The value of the personal property was $680; that of the land, there being but 9,266 acres listed for taxation, was $13,031.15, and the total tax paid was $480.45.  Most of the persons named are either dead or removed.  The descendants of Samuel H. Harshberger and of William Rayle still reside in the township and are the owners of some of the best farms in Marion, well improved, good, and large buildings erected, and the land under a high state of cultivation.  W. M. Warner soon tired of wood life and sold out to Casper Zeirolf, now dead, but the old farm, perhaps in all respects, being situated on the ridge, the best in the township, is owned and occupied by his son William at present one of the commissioners of the county.  Samuel Harshberger, son of Samuel H., was the first white child born in the township, and inherited from his ancestors one of the best farms in the township, upon which he now resides.

  Of these pioneers John Hamler deserves more than a passing notice, although he is elsewhere spoken of in this book.  He was the first settler in the township, having entered land and located in section twenty-one, Sept. 16, 1846.  The forest was dense, and wild beasts and mosquitoes the only inhabitants.  The Indians, a remnant of the Ottawas, were only twenty-six miles east; the nearest house was fourteen miles, twenty miles to the nearest trading point, and thirty miles to mill, may give some idea of the inconveniences and hardships of frontier life.  Yet Mr. Hamler says that his life was not devoid of enjoyment, and that he took almost as much pleasure in the rude and wild life of the woods as he does now surrounded by all the comforts and luxuries of civilization.
    The real improvement and settlement of the township did not commence until 1869, when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was constructed.  This road enters the township at the southeast corner of section twelve and runs northwesterly to the northwest corner of section six.  The construction of this road assisted largely in draining the lands, lead to the erection of saw mills and stave factories; the cleaning out and deepening of the creeks, the main ones of which are Turkey Foot, Beaver, Brush and Lost creeks, and to the location, construction and improvements of roads.  These improvements caused heavy taxation and assessments, and this obliged the non-resident land speculator to dispose of his holdings, which, passing into the hands of those who became permanent settlers, improvements seemed to spring up like Jack's bean pole, in a single night, and makes Marion to-day as good a township as there is in the county.
     The growth of the township may be indicated by the tax duplicate and the census returns.  We have already shown the duplicate of 1847.  That for 1887 shows 22,962 acres of land for taxation valued at $203,035, and personal property to the amount of $130,613, and the amount of taxes paid to be $7,541.17.  The population in 1860 was only 195 souls; in 1870 it amounted to 513; in 1880, to 1,202, and at present may be safely estimated at 1,500.
     The educational interests of the township have been carefully provided for and there are at present, in addition to the graded school at Hamler, nine good and substantial schools-houses erected.  In each of the village and at one or two points in the country, church buildings have also been erected.
     The growth of this township has certainly been phenomenal and is owing largely to foreign immigration, the population outside of the descendants of the pioneers and the few Yankees who have been attracted by the wealth to be made of the great forests of timber, being composed mostly of industrious, sober, quiet and religious classes of Irish and German.  These people mixing and inter-marrying, including the native born, make the progressive and energetic homogeneous American, and indicates that our national motto, e pluribus unum, means not only one State for many States, but one nation from all the nations of the earth, and that the motto has not yet degenerated into a trade mark for the standard dollar, but still deserves a place on the broad standard of human rights and human hopes.  It also indicates a population of healthy sentiment.  No agrarian or communism here.  An honest, industrious people came here into the wild forest, when cheap lands could be obtained, and lands inexhaustible in fertility, which by hard work could be converted into homes where old age might rest in comfort and its descendants live in luxury.  Men like these, who settled and peopled Marion, were present in the mind of the poet when he asked: "What constitutes a State?" and answered:

"Not raised battlement and labored mound,
Thick wall or moated gate;
Not cities proud . . . .
Men, high-minded men, . . . .
Men who their duties know,
But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain -
Prevent the long aimed blow,
And crush the tyrant while they rend the chain -
THESE CONSTITUTE THE STATE!"

EDWARDSVILLE.

Is a triangular tract of land in the northeast corner of the northwest quarter of section twenty-eight, formed by the crossing of the Medary road and the Ridge road.  It consists of seven lots and two out lots, and was laid out by George W. Edwards and John Rayle on the 6th of September, 1863, and recorded on the 7th of the same month.  A post-office was established here as early as 1861 and named Ridgeland.  The post-office still remains, but the hamlet has not grown beyond two or three dwellings.  William P. Young has, however, erected a saw-mill, stave factory and tile manufactory within a stone throw, and is doing a thriving business.

HAMLER.

     This flourishing village, named in honor of John Hamler, is situated in section eleven, where the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad crosses the Turkey Foot road.  It has a population of about five hundred, a post-office, and is a telegraph and express station.  A large and extensive stave factory is located here, affording a good and profitable market for the large quantity of soft wood still growing in the township.  A fine two-story brick building affords excellent accommodation for the graded school held in it.  A new commodious Catholic church, and a Methodist Episcopal furnish places of worship, and indicates the religious leaning of those with enterprise sufficient to erect a building.  The various mechanical trades are represented; three dry goods stores, doing a general business; one hardware store, an agricultural implement warehouse indicate a thrifty business; and a good hotel, two saloons and restaurants furnish accommodations for the stranger.  The Odd Fellows have a lodge here and the Grand Army a post.
     The village was originally platted by Hon. William D. Hill, of Defiance, and his wife, Augusta B., on the 10th of July, 1874, and recorded December 23, 1875.  Five and one-third acres were appropriated to depot grounds; seventy-five lots were platted on the south side of the railroad, and ninety-six on the north; there were gen alleys, and the streets running east and west were named respectively, Green, English, Edgerton, Baltimore, Randolph, Benton and Cowan; and those running north and south were christened White, Main, Lee and Pendleton.  Turkey Foot road, known as Marion street, runs diagonally southwesterly through the village.  The lots are four by eight rods, except those lying west of Marion street, which are eighteen links in width.
     On the 6th of January, 1875, J. W. Sergeant laid out an addition of seventeen lots, which was recorded on the 8th of the same month.  It comprises four acres of land, including streets and alleys, and is the east part of the northeast corner of the north half of the southeast quarter of section ten.
     Mr. Hill and wife added their first addition of three out lots Nov. 28, 1881.  It is triangular, west of Marion street, south of the railroad and east of the west section line of section eleven.
     On the 7th of April, 1887, recorded on the 21st of the same month, Mr. Hill and wife added a second addition of ninety-six regular lots, six irregular, and blocks A and B.  Chestnut, Cleveland, Blaine and Hubbard streets run east and west, and First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth north and south; there are seven alleys.  This addition is in the southwest corner of section eleven and southwest of the original plat.
 

 

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