This township is situated in
the southeastern corner of Montgomery County. At
the first it extended seven miles north and south and
from the Green county line to the Miami river. In
1829, it lost the western part of its territory by the
formation of Miami township, the line of division being
the same then as at the present time. In 1841, it
lost a tier of sections on the north, the same being
included in Van Buren township, then formed. The
present area of the township is thirty-six square miles.
From the fact that many of the first settlers of
Montgomery is thirty-six square miles. From the
fact that many of the first settlers of Montgomery
county came by way of the Little Miami river and
Lebanon, Washington township was reached and settled
earlier than other parts of the county, with the
exception of the vicinity of Dayton and a narrow stretch
of territory along the Great Miami. As a matter of
fact, Washington township became settled much more
rapidly and closely than any other part of the county.
About two months
after the settlement was made at Dayton in 1896, a
number of prospectors from
Kentucky are said to have come into the present
territory of Washington township to spy out the land.
Of their number, Benjamin Robbins selected the
southwest quarter of section 25 in township 2, range 6.
Another member of the party, Aaron Nutt, selected
the east half of the same section. Benjamin
Robbins also later purchased land to the south of
his first section. Benjamin Robbins also later
purchased land to the south of his first purchase.
The land immediately to the south of the land purchased
by Nutt was bought by Benjamin Wallingsford.
Centerville is located at the angle where these
different tracts join. Benjamin Archer, a
member of the original party selected a little more than
five hundred and twelve acres in section 19 of township
2, range 6, this land lying just northeast of
Centerville. A considerable part of the land in
Washington township had been sold to original purchasers
by Judge Symmes from 1796 and 1798. When he
forfeited his title to the government, the land thus
purchased was resold, those having contracts with
Judge Symmes having preemption privileges; that is,
they could have the first opportunity to purchase the
land at two dollars per acre. A considerable
amount of land was purchased in Washington township
under these preemption rights in 1801, that being the
earliest time that the land could be bought directly
from the government. Other lands for the sale of
which Judge Symmes had entered into no contracts
were also bought at this same early period. By
1810 or 1812, nearly all the land of the township was
under private ownership.
Dr. John Hole
early purchased large tracts in the township.
December 25, 1801, he purchased three hundred and
sixteen acres and a fraction in township 1, range 6,
section 2, about three miles northwest of Centerville.
At the same time, he purchased sixty acres to the north
of the tract named, thus securing land on both sides of
Hole's creek. These were preempton tracts, it
being thus evident that he was an original purchaser
from Judge Symmes. At the same time that he
made these purchases he purchased the entire section
immediately to the east of these tracts. Dr.
Hole is believed to have settled in the western part
of the tracts named about 1797. Here, on the creek
afterward known as Hole's creek, he continued to reside
until his death in 1813. He erected the first two
sawmills in the township. He practiced medicine
over a wide territory.
December 26, 1801, John Ewing purchased about
six hundred and forty acres in section 33, township 2,
range 6. The following year, he purchased fifty
acres additional in the same section, said section
overrunning the usual size of a section to that extent.
As all of this land consisted of preemption lots, it
must have been previously purchased, probably by Mr.
Ewing, several years before.
The pioneers already named became prominent in the
history of Washington township and of Montgomery county
as well. John Ewing and Benjamin Archer
became associate judges of the common pleas court.
Other citizens of the township likewise rose to
Clearing the land was the first work to be performed by
the first settlers. Down to the present time,
agricultural pursuits have mainly engaged the energies
of the people. Mills and factories, however, in
the early days had a prominence difficult to appreciate
at this time. The History of Montgomery County,
published in 1882, for which Joseph Nutt, the son
of Aaron Nutt, furnished the account of
Washington township, gives a lengthy and minute
description of the flouring mills, sawmills, cotton
mills, woolenmills, tanneries, foundries, and so forth
in operation in the township in an early day. The
most of these mills were on one or the other of the two
branches of Hole's creek. The larger number of
them were on the northern branch, which is called Little
Hole's creek. The Cincinnati directory of 1819
gives an extended account of the woolen mill on Little
Hole's creek at a point where the town of Woodburn was
platted. The account says that in 1819 the value
of the products of the factory for one year was sixty
thousand dollars, that twelve hundred spindles were in
use, that forty hands were employed and that power looms
had been secured which would soon he in operation.
Tradition has it that the main factory building was a
five-story brick building with a stone basement.
In connection with the factory mill, a carding mill, a
foundry, a machine shop and a little later a cotton
printing establishment were in operation.
Samuel Gerard was the genius who was back of
these industries. He brought model machines with
him from England at a time when it was unlawful to
transport them to America, and constructed new machine
for the various forms of manufacture to be carried on.
At first, the most of the factory work was done by hand.
At the time when prospects were the most encouraging, a
change in the tariff laws of the United States led to
the importing of goods from abroad cheaper than they
could be manufactured in America. The result was
that the various enterprises were involved in failure.
The expensive machinery was sold and distributed to
different places, where it became the basis for various
manufacturing enterprises. George McElwee,
who became connected with manufacturing interests at
Miamisburg and later at Dayton, was superintendent of
the foundry. Michael Cassady, who was later
connected with manufacturing at Miamisburg and other
places, was a son-in-law of Gerard, and with some of the
machinery of the dismantled factory laid the foundation
for different manufacturing interests.
A number of the four or five mills at different points
on Little Hole's creek received their water power from
large springs on one side or the other of the creek.
Usually, the water was held back by dams, thus forming
large ponds, which could be drawn on when the water
supply was not so abundant. In some cases, dams
were thrown across the channel of the creek and the
water was led by a race to where the mills or factories
The first election held in the county was June 21,
1803, at which ninety-five votes were cast for governor.
The first plat of Centerville
filed in the records of Montgomery county was made
October 25, 1814, though it is said that plats were made
and lots sold as early as 1805 or even 1803. The
first store in Centerville was kept by Aaron Nutt,
Sr., having been established in 1811. John
Archer is said to have opened the first tavern in
Centerville. The most famous one, however, was
that of Enos Doolittle. John Archer was
appointed first postmaster March 1, 1815. Enos
Doolittle succeeded him in 1823. The town has
been twice incorporated, once in 1830, and again in
1879. The first officers under the earlier
incorporation were: Samuel S. Robbins, Mayor;
Henry W. Reider, marshal; and Robert G. McEwen,
clerk. The first officials under the new
incorporation were: President of the Council, William
Dodd; Trustees, Dr. W. H. Lamme and Dr. S.
G. Stewart, Clerk and Treasurer, Joseph Nutt; and
Marshal, Joseph Loy.
The present village
officers are: Mayor, L. E. Bradford; Clerk,
Elmer Montgomery; Treasurer, Arthur Koon;
Marshal, John Mehan; Members of Council, Harry
Brown, S. M. Davis, B. A. Dill, Milton Sheehan,
D. B. Stansell and Mason Williamson.
The population is estimated at three hundred and fifty.
R. M. Pine is the present postmaster. He
has held that position twenty-four years, with the
exception of the two terms when Cleveland was president.
Centerville is a sightly village. It occupies the
highest point on the Dayton and Lebanon turnpike on the
divide between the two Miamis. It is well supplied
with stores, which meet the wants of the village and the
surrounding country. It has extensive stone
quarries from which large quantities of stone are
shipped to surrounding places. It has the
advantages of two macadamized roads, the Miamisburg and
Centerville and the Dayton and Lebanon. Somewhat
removed from the village is the station on the Dayton,
Lebanon & Cincinnati railroad. A large creamery
stands adjacent to the village.
The village is well provided with schools, the township
high school being located within its limits. The
new township hall, dedicated in July, 1909, is a
commodious and stately building. It was erected at
a cost of fourteen thousand dollars and is an object of
pride and satisfaction to the village and township.
At the dedication of the hall, many memories of earlier
times were revived. It was recalled that in
December, 1822, Samuel Robbins deeded the lot on
which the town hall was built to Enos Doolittle
for the sum of four hundred dollars, and that the south
part of the famous Doolittle tavern was erected
on the lot not long after that time. Enos
Doolittle came to Centerville in 1820. He kept
a store in the building before referred to until 1832,
when he opened the tavern which became noted as one of
the best west of the Alleghenies. He built an
addition to the house in 1839, making a commodious and
convenient house. The dining room was especially
well planned, being a room forty feet long and twenty
feet wide. This rooms was used as a dining room or
ball room, for the tavern was the center of the social
life of the community. Mrs. J. L. Brown of
Centerville, on the occasion of the dedication of the
hall, read an interesting historical paper from which
the following extract is taken:
"Mrs. Bancroft, the only living child of Enos
Doolittle, in a letter of recent date to Mr.
Samuel Nutt says: 'Being a mere child, in my early
teens, when my home was broken up, I cannot remember
much of the early history of that home. Yet I have
with me always the sweet memory of my good father's
cordial welcome to all who came within that hospital
home. Afflicted as he was with an incurable
malady, paralysis, he was ever cheerful and kind, and
the unpretentious inn was known, far and wide, as a
veritable "Traveler's Rest." Many celebrities,
among whom I remember William H. Harrison, Thomas
Corwin and Henry Clay, rested here.
William H. Harrison spent the night of September
9, 1840, in our home. On the morning of September
10th, all was bustle and excitement. It seemed
that all the men, and many women, too, were going to the
whig convention to be held at Dayton that day. In
1842 Henry Clay with a colored servant, a novelty
in Centerville at that time, spent the night with us.
I felt quite honored because I had a cordial hand shake
of those famous men, and very likely I gloated over it,
child like, you know. Before the days of
railroads, many people traveled in their own private
conveyances, and found comfort in our simple home.
I learned that our first home was to give place to a
town hall. So now, that home is no more and I am
all that is left of that happy family. I am eighty
years young - hale and hearty.' "
Rev. Charles McDaniel, a Baptist missionary, was
the first minister in Washington township. It is
said that a church was built in 1799 under the labors of
Elder Daniel Clark. In 1802 the Baptists
built a church out of hewed logs on Sugar creek.
The Baptist congregation on Sugar creek for many years
was a great factor in the religious life of the
community. At present there is a Baptist church in
Centerville. It is not strong. Occasional
services are conducted for the benefit of the
congregation by Dayton Baptist pastors.
The old-school Baptists, formerly strong at
Centerville, have ceased to be. Their church
property was sold in 1909.
The Methodist Episcopal church has a larger number of
adherents in Washington township than any other
denomination. The first Methodist sermon was
preached in a cabin in 1809 by Rev. John Collins.
The first house of worship erected was a log church.
The second house of worship was likewise a log church,
erected three miles south of Centerville about 1814, the
appointment being called Rehobeth. A little later
a log church was erected about three miles southeast of
Centerville on Sugar creek. For a number of years
the Washington township congregations were served by a
succession of zealous preachers. In 1833 the
Methodist congregation erected a stone church in
Centerville, which continued to be sued until 1867, when
a brick church costing twelve thousand dollars took its
place. The congregation, in 1909, numbered three
hundred members. The present pastor is Rev.
The town of Woodburn was
platted April 9, 1817. When the mills along Little
Hole's creek were in operation, it grew to be a thriving
town with large prospects. But with the removal of
the mills, it fell into decay. Now, the passerby
beholds only a lonely church used only for funeral or
like occasions where once the thriving village stood.
The church was erected by the Christian denotation.
An inscription in the gable bears date 1846.
In 1865, Russia sent an agent to the United States to
inquire into the principals and workings of our
government. As a matter of course, he came to
Ohio, and, not finding just what he wanted at Columbus,
he came down to Dayton. At Dayton, he said he
wanted to get at the very bottom of the matter, and
asked what township was the best governed.
"Washington township, of course," responded the county
officials. So he went out, taking a letter of
introduction to the treasurer, and spent some time
examining the township books.
DOCTORS OF WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP.
JOHN HOLE, a direct
descendant of Alfred the Great of England, was
born in Essex count (near Newark), New Jersey, in 1755,
being among the youngest of the family of the eleven
children of Jacob Hole and a grandson of
Daniel Hole, who immigrated to this country from
England in the latter part of the sixteenth century,
locating in New York City. A few years later the
family removed to the new state of New Jersey, where was
destined to be born in laqter years the subject of this
Young Hole received a meagre education up to the
age of eleven years, when he was selected by the Hole
family physician and in 1766 was sent to this
doctor, a very prominent German physician of Newark, New
Jersey to Germany, where he was educated both in a
literary way and also received his medical training.
(History does not give us the name of this noted German
physician, nor is the date of his receiving the medical
degree obtainable.) Immediately upon his return to
America in 1775 he was appointed surgeon's mate to the
Fifth Pennsylvania battalion, commanded by Col.
Robert McGraw, which position he filled with
distinction. He also served as surgeon on the
staff of Gens. Montgomery and Arnold.
He was present at the battles of Bunker Hill, Quebec and
Montmorency. He served during the entire
Dr. Hole was married to Miss Massee Ludlow
of Essex county, New Jersey, August 4, 1778, and to this
union were born four boys and seven girls. His
wife died near Centerville, Ohio, July 25, 1842.
For eight years or till 1786 he practiced medicine in
Essex county, New Jersey, but during the latter part of
this year he came down the Ohio river in a flat-bottomed
boat and located in Mason county, Kentucky, just a few
miles from the present city of Maysville with the
intention of taking up some government land. After
a few months' residence here his wife became
dissatisfied, and they then moved on to a point near
Lexington. He moved to Cincinnati in 17989.
In 1797 he moved to the present territory of Montgomery
county and located on the creek that bears his name
within the present limits of Washington township.
It was probably his influence that named the township
and also the county. Here he practiced medicine
for the next seven or eight years.
He built sawmills, gristmills and incidentally
practiced medicine and surgery. He made frequent
trips far and wide to Hole's station up the Miami
valley as far as Sidney, east as far as Springfield and
Xenia, south to Hamilton and Fort Washington and west to
the Indiana state line.
Socially he had entertained Washington, Jefferson and
the best society of the Revolutionary times in his
Jersey home. He was a Baptist in faith.
A plain sandstone in the old cemetery at Centerville
records "Doctor John Hole, died January 6, 1813,
in the fifty-eighth year of his age."
STRONG, of sturdy English stock, was born
in Northampton, Massachusetts, January 24, 1783.
His medical training was received in New York city and
Heskimur, New York.
He practiced his profession in New York state up to the
outbreak of the War of 1812, and enlisted as surgeon and
serving during the war, then came west and located in
Centerville, Ohio in the spring of 1814. Previous
to his coming to Ohio, Dr. Strong had traveled
quite extensively and made a trip around the world as a
ship's surgeon. Upon his location in Centerville
he at once entered upon his professional career which
proved to be one of the most varied and interesting this
county has ever had.
Dr. Strong was married to Miss Hannah
Davis of Centerville in November 1824 who died in
1833. To this union was born one son who later
became the gallant Col. Hiram Strong who fell
mortally wounded at Chickamauga.
On May 25, 1824, Dr. Strong was elected
treasurer of the newly organized Montgomery and Clark
county Medical association which office he filled for a
number of years. He died October 18, 1867.
The inscription on the stone at his grave in the
Centerville cemetery reads, "A man of high integrity, a
citizen of great usefulness, a physician of eminent
DR. JACOB S.
MULFORD. The parents of the subject
of this sketch came from New Jersey and settled in
Washington township in 1798. Young Mulford
was placed under the instruction of Dr. Mason of
Lebanon, who was a preacher as well as a doctor and also
received the influence of Dr. Hole, and read
medicine under Dr. Strong. In 1817 and 1818
he attended lectures at the old Curtis Medical college,
a botanico-medical institute. While practicing
medicine in Washington township, he also, as a Baptist
minister, did much preaching. In 1836 Dr.
Mulford located in Lebanon and in 1838 in Dayton.
He died May 4, 1844. He was especially noted for
his success in treating epidemic diseases.
JULIUS S. TAYLOR, after graduating at Jefferson
Medical college, and after several years of practice,
came to Centerville, about 1840, and there remained for
three years. He then followed his profession at
West Carrollton, four or five years, and then moved to
Dayton, where he remained until 1864, then removing to
Kankakee, Illinois, where he died in 1891. He was
a man of great a versatility and of high public spirit.
In the science of medicine he had a national reputation.
BOON ELGIN, one of the most successful medical
practitioners that Washington township ever had was born
February 24, 1824. His parents located on a farm,
one mile south of Centerville in 1825. He studied
medicine under Dr. Strong, and completed a course
in Rush Medical college in 1847. After ten years
of practice elsewhere, he located on the old homestead
near Centerville. Here for twenty years his
practice was large and exacting. In 1867 he
removed from the township. He died in Spring
Valley in 1883.
The physicians who came to Washington township and those
who there grew up under the influence of the early
physicians, were men of high order, well equipped for
their profession and of commanding influence in the
community. A summary will be given of leading
facts of physicians not noticed above.
PRICE, born in Washington township in 1803,
apprenticed to Dr. Strong in 1826, completed a
medical course in Cincinnati in 1829, located in
Centerville where he continued to practice for ten
years, afterward practiced elsewhere, died in 1878.
PERRY JAMES, born Feb. 1, 1817, graduated in
medicine 1847, after practicing in various places,
located in Centerville in 1856. remained in practice
here until his death in 1862.
born in 1821 in London, Ontario, graduated in the
Bottanico Medical college in Cincinnati in 1849, at once
began practice in Centerville, removed to Dayton in
1854, died in 1908.
WILLIAM H. LAMB,
born in Washington township, July 26, 1826, studied
medicine under Dr. Strong, completed a regular
course in medicine with some interruptions.
Practiced in Centerville until the time of his death in
JESSOP born March 29, 1829, completed medical
course in 1853, practiced in Centerville from 1855 to
1865; died in 1875.
MOORE, born in Waterford, London county,
Virginia, 1860, graduated in medicine 1886, located in
Centerville and built up a large practice, died in 1891.
STEWART, born October 1, 1845, graduated in
medicine in 1873 and located in Centerville, where he
continued in practice fourteen years; now resides in
ALEXANDER, pioneer doctor, practicing in
Centerville and near Woodburn for nearly forty years,
died in 1862.
Two physicians occupy the medical field in Washington
township at the present time, both residing in
Centerville. Of these
Dr. B. W. DUDLEY KEEFER,
received his medical education at Dartmouth and
Miami medical colleges, graduating from the latter in
1884. in 1890, he took up the practice of medicine
at Centerville, where he is still in active practice.
The other physician located at Centerville, is
C. D. SLAGLE, M.
D., who has an extensive and remunerative
practice. He graduated from Starling Medical
college in March, 1897, and is now in his twelfth year
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