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


Chapter XXVII.
pg. 270

     THIS was one of the five townships originally organized in the territory at present embraced in Henry county.  We know that it was organized as early as 1837, but the misfortune of the fires makes it impossible to even approximate its limits at that time, it certainly included, as late as 1854, the township of Bartlow, which in that year was detached and given an independent organization.  The township, as now organized, embraces the thirty-six sections of land contained in the government survey of township four, north of range eight, east.  The growth and improvement of these sections were very slow and limited, and became marked only in the last few years, and it remained among the last of the hunting grounds reluctantly surrendered by the professional hunter and the delighted sportsman.  The onward march of progress, however, compelled these men, step by step, like the poor Indian, to turn their footsteps westward, or yield and adopt the habits of civilization and the customs of social life.
     The fragment of the duplicate which remains of the year 1837, shows that at that time there was but one piece of land listed for taxation - the east half of section one- in the name of Dewald Macklin, valued at $321.  Buildings were assessed at $321.  There were four horses, forty-six head of cattle.  The total value of chattel property was $328, and the aggregate tax $6.70.  The personal taxpayers were Angel Arnold, Peter Hewit, Joseph Macklin, John Mason, David Murdock, William Piper, John Rowland, Jacob Sowers and John Sturgeon.  In 1839, came Silas and Robert Rowland.  The duplicate of that year shows 1,281 acres of land valued at $3,042, subject to a tax of $53.23, and chattel property worth $720, taxed with $12.60.  A few of these early comers, a few only hunters, left as civilization and cultivation arrived, the majority, however, died on their first settlements, which are now converted into fine and valuable farms, and occupied by their descendants.  We believe there is not one of the original stock now living.
     A contrast will show the rapid growth and improvement of this township.  In 1860 its population was only 277; this, in 1870, had increased to 396, and in 1880 to 857, and may at present be safely estimated at 1,200.  The duplicate of 1887 shows 23,003 acres of land, valued at $179,870, and $41,190 worth of personal property subject to a tax of $4,194.94.  The township is divided in eight school districts, and contains in each a good, comfortable school building.  There is but one church in the township, and this belongs to the denomination of United Brethren.  The township has no railroads and no villages, except in the northeast corner of section six were the "Clover Leaf" nips.  At this point Peter Brillhart, on the 19th of May, 1881, laid out an addition to the hamlet of Grelleton, platted into twelve lots and four alleys, and four acres for stave factory grounds.  The southeast corner of section sixteen has been named West Hope, and a post-office of that name is established there; there is also a small country store, but no plat has ever been made, nor any division of lots laid out.
     For many years the roads in this township were in a miserable condition, and during the wet seasons of the year ingress and egress  were almost impossible.  This was due mainly to the absence of drainage, the natural facilities for which were not good.  Beaver Creek is the principal, in fact the only, natural water course.  The west branch of this creek enters the township in the center of section thirty-four, running northeasterly to the center of the south side of section twenty-four.  The east branch enters at the center of section thirty-five, winds through sections thirty-five, thirty-six and twenty-five, uniting with the west branch at twenty-four, and then northeasterly through sections twenty-four, thirteen, twelve and one.  The artificial drainage, both surface and sub-soil is now good, and money and labor expended on the roads have made them very fair and passable during the greatest part of the year.  There is yet considerable very good and fertile lands to be obtained in this township at a moderate price.  They are, however, being rapidly taken up by actual settlers, and as the valuable timber is about used up, these lands mu7st be converted into farms, and in a few years Richfield will rank among the best agricultural parts of Henry county.
     When these lands are once improved and brought under cultivation, as many acres already are, the owner and occupant should indeed be a happy and contented man.  There is certainly no happier or more independent life than that lived by the farmer.  No worry of business, no fear of bankruptcy, no bills to meet need disturb his sleep when his day's toil is ended.  He, too, has the consolation of knowing that he is a producer, adding daily to the necessities and comforts of his fellow man and to the substantial wealth of the world.  The soil and the muscle of labor must produce all the wealth that is possessed, and he who cultivates a hill of potatoes, raises a bushel of grain, fashions the product of the mine into a useful implement of husbandry has done more for his fellow than all the millions who ever lived since the accumulation of wealth began.
     And think of the improvements which then and since have been made, and the aid they have rendered to agricultural labor.  Farming has almost ceased to be labor and has become pleasure.  Every day something new is introduced into farming and yet old things are not driven out.  Every one knows that steam is now used on the farm for plowing and threshing and working machinery, and one would have thought that by this time it would have superseded all other motive powers.  But while new things come the old do not go away.  One life is but a summer's day compared with the long cycle of years of agriculture, and yet it seems that a whole storm, as it were, of innovation has burst upon the fields ever since we can recollect.
     The sickle was in use in Roman times and no man knows how long before that.  With it the reaper cut off the ears of the wheat, only leaving the tall straw standing, much as if it had been a pruning knife.  It is the oldest of old implements - very likely it was made of a chip of flint at first, and then of bronze, and then of steel.  Then came, in England, the reaping hook, which is still used there on small farms, and to some extent on large ones, to round off the work of the machine.  The reaping hook is only an enlarged sickle.  The reaper takes the hook in one hand and a bent stick in the other, and instead of drawing the hook toward him, the reaper chops at the straw as he might at an enemy.  In America we had the cradle; then came the reaping machines, which simply cut the wheat and left it lying on the ground.  Now there are the wire and string binders,, that not only cut the grain, but gather it together and bind it in sheaves, a vast saving in labor.
     On the broad page of some ancient illuminated manuscript, centuries old, you may see the churl, or farmer's hired man, knocking away with his flail at the grain on the threshing floor.  The knock, knocking of the flail went on through the reigns of how many kings and queens we do not known (they are all forgotten, God wot), down to the edge of our own times.  The good old days when comets were understood as fate, and witches were drowned or burned - those were the times of the flail.  The flail is made of two stout staves of wood joined with leather.  They had flails of harder make than that in those old times - hunger, necessity, fate, to beat them on the back and thresh them on the floor of the earth.
     There was an old wagon shown at the Royal Agricultural show in London said to be two hundred years old.  Probably it had had so many new wheels and tongues and other parts as to have completely changed its constitution - still there were wagons in those days, and there are wagons now.  Express trains go by in a great hurry, slow wagons gather up the warm hay and the yellow wheat just as they did hundreds of years since.  You may see men sowing broadcast just as they did a thousand years ago on the broad England acres.  Yet the light iron plow, the heavy drill, the steam plow, are manufactured an cast out into the fields and machinery, machinery, machinery, still increases.
     Machinery has not altered the earth, but it has altered the conditions of men's lives.  New styles of hats and jackets, but the same old faces.   The sweet violets bloom afresh every spring on the mounds, the cowslips come, the wild rose of mid-summer and the golden wheat of August.  It is the same beautiful country, always new.  Neither the iron engine nor the wooden plow alter it one iota, and the love of its rises as constantly in our hearts as the coming of the leaves.  The wheat, as it is moved from field to field, like a quarto folded four times, gives us in the mere rotation of crops a fresh garden every year.  You have scented the bean field and seen the slender heads of barley droop.  The useful products of the field are themselves beautiful, while there are pages of flowers that grow at the edge of the plow.




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