THIS township is in
the northwestern corner of the county, and the only one
remaining of range five, being township number six, the
balance of this range having been detached and given to
Defiance at the time of the organization of that county.
The area of the township is the same as that of
Freedom, the two northern tiers of sections having been
taken from Fulton county.
Of the civil organization of the township little is
known, the records having been destroyed in the fire of
1847. However, it is known that it was prior to 1840.
The topography of the township varies slightly from the
balance of the county, inasmuch that through the township,
from north to south, runs the Belmore Ridge, and from this
fact the township derives its name. The Ridge is first
noticeable at or near Lake Ridge, Mich., and then runs in a
semi-circular shape, continues through the northwestern part
of Henry county, touching Defiance county, then back into
Henry county through the southwestern part of the county,
and finally emerging into the Black Swamp. The Ridge
is well defined, being from three to ten feet higher than
the adjoining country. At many places along the upper
part of it are found huge bowlders, which, according to the
theory of Dr. Newberry, were deposited there by
icebergs, at a very remote period, when this locality was
the bed of a lake.
The township is devoid of natural waterways, with the
exception of a couple of small creeks, or rather apologies
for creeks. The bed of the Coldwater and Mansfield
Railroad cuts the farms diagonally in the northeastern part.
The principal thoroughfares are the Bryan and Napoleon
pikes, and what is called the Ridge road. The latter
runs nearly north and traverses the Belmore Ridge. The
first one is merely a continuation of the second one, which
runs from Napoleon to the hamlet of Ridgeville. This
is one of the main roads of the county, and is now one of
the best, owing to the fact that it is being graveled.
It was laid out by one Barton Palmer, at an uncertain
but early date. Previous to this time all travel
between Napoleon and localities northwest, was done by way
of Gilson's Creek (which is about a mile west of Napoleon).
The creek bed was followed up to where the creek branches,
in section nine, town five, north, in Napoleon township,
then along a bridle path which is now the pike.
From the duplicate of 1847 the following names are
found: George and John Tubbs, Joseph Bear, J.
Fenton, George Harmon, Adam Rowe, Lorenzo Higby and
Barton Palmer. These were the oldest settlers in
Ridgeville township. A few of them were here before
Defiance county was organized, and when the county was
organized, land that originally laid in Henry county was
given to it, and thus a few of them live at present in
Defiance county, although they never changed their
residence. They have, however, sons who are now
classed among the best and most thrifty farmers in
Near the southeastern corner of the township is
situated the hamlet of Ridgeville Corners. The place
was originally laid out by Barton Palmer, at a very
early but uncertain date. He was also the projector of
the several roads that lead into the hamlet. At a
certain point in Ridgeville Mr. Palmer owned and
conducted a tavern, and at that time it was the only house
of accommodation for miles around. Mine host Palmer
conceived the brilliant idea of having all the roads of this
immediate section center at his place of accommodation;
(heretofore bridle paths were the only thoroughfares).
He began immediately to set his plan into execution, and, as
a consequence, Ridgeville Corners is one of the main road
centers of Henry county. It is at present a thriving
little place of about one hundred and fifty inhabitants, and
has a furniture and undertaking store, two dry goods stores,
and two groceries, one black-
smith shop, two saw-mills and a tile yard.
Mail is received daily by the somewhat antiquated "overland
mail." There are two churches, a Methodist and a
Congregationalist. The latter was the first church
established in the township, and was in the year 1846.
Previous to this time services were held semi-occasionally,
and at uncertain places. No regular preacher was here,
and some minister from an adjoining settlement would make
"an appointment" at a certain house, and then the settlers
would gather for religious worship and also for a "visit."
Visiting was begun at an early period - in fact in 1836.
In this year George Tubbs and wife moved to this
township, and, as soon as they settled, two ladies from near
Wauseon, having heard of them, came to see them, riding
along what is now the Ridge Road, but then only a bridle
path. On the following Sunday Mr. and Mrs. Tubbs,
- the former on foot and the latter on horse-back, returned
the visit, also expecting to hear a sermon ---------- (this
line is unreadable.)
they visited promised to send him over the
following Sunday. He started but before arriving he
ate some cheese made from sour milk, and was compelled to
turn back, and shortly after reaching the starting place was
gathered to his fathers.
The township is distinguished as the home of a large
denomination of Mennonists, followers of Simon Menno,
their founder in Germany. They have some peculiar
notions, and "believe that the New Testament is the only
true rule of faith, that the terms Person and Trinity ought
not to be applied to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; that
there is no original sin; that infants should not be
baptized; and that Christians ought not to take oath, hold
office, or use physical force." They do not exercise
the elective franchise, and take no part whatever in
politics. They are distinguished for their sterling
honesty and fair dealing, punctually fill every engagement,
respect every promise, and believe in strictly minding their
own business. They have many peculiar customs; are
simple in dress and manner of living; abstain from
litigation; deal cautiously with those not of themselves;
their general business is usually advised and directed by
one man selected for that purpose; they are frugal,
industrious and though exclusive, are, as a rule, good
The township has very strong surface indications of
natural gas, sufficient certainly, to justify more extensive
investigation than has yet been had. In the summer of
1881 Herman A. Meyerholtz commenced boring a well for
water on his farm near the Corners, when reaching the depth
of about one hundred feet, a vein of gas was struck powerful
enough to expel the drilling tools from the well, and
greatly frightened the ignorant and superstitious people
employed in the work; and upon light being applied to the
combustible, a flame of twenty feet shot into the air.
Haste was too slow to enable them to get away in time to
escape the perils of what they supposed to result from a
trespass upon the domain of the prince of darkness.
The terror of the simple and superstitious residing in the
neighborhood was so great as to compel Mr. Meyerholtz
to fill up the well, which he did with considerable
difficulty. Several wells have since been bored with
The township has had some regard for her educational
interest. Its graded school is maintained at
Ridgeville Corners, and the balance of the territory is
divided in six districts, in each of which a first-class
common school is conducted, and where are taught arithmetic,
English grammar, penmanship, geography and American history.
The material condition of the township may be
ascertained by the duplicate of 1887. Then we find
that there were nineteen thousand nine hundred and
eighty-eight acres of land for taxation, valued in 1880 at
$31,840, but which has greatly increased in value. The
chattel property is assessed at $65,140, and the total tax
paid is $6,441,96. The census of 1860 showed a
population of four hundred and twenty-four souls, which in
1870 amounted to seven hundred and sixty-four, and in 1880
had increased to eleven hundred and nineteen. A
proportionate increase has been made since.
The township is fortunate in the recent discovery of
valuable gravel pits, which will enable its citizens to not
only get, at a comparatively trifling cost, the best of
roads, but to contribute materially to the roads of the
whole county, and the township is certainly to be
congratulated on the enterprising character of its electors
who were the first to follow the example of Napoleon
township and vote upon themselves a tax to apply this gravel
"where it will do the most good" - on the roads.
Ridgeville is excellently ditched and drained, its
farms well improved and under high cultivation; its
residences and farm buildings well befitting every
agricultural country, and it will ever rank as one of the
most prosperous and thrifty townships in Henry county.
In addition to the post-office at the Corners, Uncle
Sam has provided another office named Tubbsville, on the
Pettisville road about half way between the Corners and the
latter place. A daily mail is received and the master,
William B. Tubbs, keeps the office at his residence.,
The population of the township is mixed. Besides
the Mennonites already mentioned, there is a large
population of Germans, a few English, and the majority of
those residing at and in the immediate vicinity of the
Corners, have come from the Western Reserve.