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


Chapter XXVIII.
Pg. 273    

     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 Ridgeville township.
     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 citizens.
     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 similar results.
     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.




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