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Van Wert County, Ohio

History & Genealogy


Source: History of Maumee Valley - Publ. Toledo: Blade Mammoth Printing & Pub. House - 1872.

     This county was formed April 1, 1820; and, like Williams and Paulding, named from one of the captors of the unfortunate Andrew - Isaac VAN WERT.  The county, at the time of its formation, had few white inhabitants, and until 1836 was attached to Mercer county for civil purposes.
     The first Court was held at Willshire, October 3, 1837, by Associate Judges Joshua WATKINS, Benjamin GRIFFIN, and Oliver STACEY.
     The first session of the Commissioners was a special one, also convened at Willshire, on the 29th of April, 1836.
     At the time of its organization, Van Wert consisted of twelve townships, only four of which, namely: Pleasant Ridge, Willshire and Jennings, were organized.
"Davis JOHNSON settled in Harrison Township, 5 miles north of the town of Willshire, in April, 1836.  At that time, in Willshire, were the following families: James MAJORS, Sr., and William MAJORS, Jr., (the latter having no family,) and the following sons of the former, part of whom had families: David, Robert, Jonathan, George, James, Jr., and William, Jr.; Charles MOUNT, (merchant,) Henry REICHARD, (merchant.)  Wm. CASE, (the first Co. Treasurer,) Daniel CROSS, (blacksmith,) THORN, HARPER, and Wm. PIRDY.  At this date there was not an inhabitant north of him to the Maumee River.  WILLSON, (first surveyor,) and Ansel BLOSSOM, then the oldest settler resident of the town, who came to Willshire in 1819.  On the St. Mary's ten miles above Willshire, were the families of John JACOB, and Peter BOLENBANCHER, and Solomon HARZACK.  At the Presidential election of 1836, there were 15 votes polled in the township of Willshire, which then embraced all Van Wert county, and Black Creek township, Mercer county.  At the election, held in October, 1837, a ticket was formed, regardless of party the election, held October, 1837, a ticket was formed, regardless of party interests, on the morning of the election, and received the unanimous vote of the electors.
     "The first public sale of lots in the town of Van Wert was made on the 17th of June, 1837.
     Mr. JOHNSON continued on his first homestead, which he yet owns, though having at several elections been chosen to the office of County Surveyor, until 1854?, when he removed to Van Wert, where he continues to reside."
     William JOHNS removed to Harrison township in October, 1837, and in 1839 to Pleasant township, until his death, which occurred December 4, 1871.  In the first years of his residence he was connected with the Indian trade - buying chiefly for the Hollisters, of Perrysburg.
    Jacob GOODWIN removed to the present township of York, in December, 1834.  "Peter and John K. HARTER came to the neighborhood about the same date.  Washington MARK, John RICH, and Benjamin GRIFFIN, had preceded him a few months, and where then the only inhabitants of Jennings Prairie.  The only survivors of those named above are Peter HARTER and myself.  Mr. HARTER is one of the most advanced in years among the early pioneers of Van Wert county.
     JOSEPH GLEASON removed to Pleasant township, Van Wert county, in August, 1837, and in December, 1839, to the town of Van Wert, where he yet resides. "In 1837 there were only two families in Van Wert - those belonging to Daniel COOK and John F. DODDS, with whom came William PARENT.   The families of James G., John, Adam, Thomas, Robert, and Hugh GILLILAND, William, John and James YOUNG, HILL, John POOLE, William PRIDDY, John MARK, Peter WILLS, David KING, and Oliver STACEY, were living east of town, on or near "the Ridge:" and on Jennings Prairie resided Washington MARK, Benjamin GRIFFIN, John K. and Peter HARTER, Jacob GOODWIN and John CASE.  West on the Ridge, were the families of James and Samuel MADDOX, William MILLER, George BANEY, and William BRONSON.
There were no residents in the north part of the county.  On a trip to Defiance as late as 1840 or 1841, he found no settlement between Van Wret and the mouth of the Little Auglaize.
     Dr. P. John HINES, the first physician, and yet living, removed to the town in 1838.  The GILLILANDS, the HILLS, and John MARK, came in the year 1835.  The first named fmaily and Peter WILLS cut 20 miles of the track for the road known as the Bucyrus and Fort Wayne road, commencing about 4 miles west of Van Wert.  The road followed the Indian trail. 
     Elias EVERS removed to the township now known as Union, in October, 1839.
     The following were the inhabitants of the town of Van Wert in 1842:
     J. M. BARR, S. ENGLERIGHT, Wm. PARENT, Joseph GLEASON, Samuel CLARK, E. R. WELLS, Thomas R. MOTT, William THORN, Daniel COOK, David FISHER, Thomas R. KEAR, John W. LOWN, (who removed to Van Wert in June, 1840, ) Isaac DOHERTY, Robert GILLILAND, Dr. P. John HINES, David RICHEY, Jacob THORN, John ROACH, George McManama, Thomas THORN, Samuel PARENT, James GRAVES, William CATON, William and Jacob STRIPE, Joshua and Isaiah SHAFFER, George CRESS, William FRONEFIELD and Reuben FRISBIE.
The nearest water mills were at Fort Wayne and Piqua; though there was a horse mill at which corn and buckwheat were ground on Jennings Prairie, and another Union township, Mercer county.  Little wheat was then raised.  The "arm-strong," or hand-mill - the stones being "nigger heads," and turned by hand - would, by dint of hard labor, turn out a peck of corn meal during the day, and found a place beside a hand-loom in nearly every household.
     Population of Van Wert county in 1830, 49; in 1840, 1,577; in 1850, 4,793; in 1860, 10,238; in 1870, 15,823.
     In 1871, the tax valuation of real and personal property amounted to $5,665,623.
     The first officers elected were, Clerk, Ansel BLOSSOM, Recorder, same; Sheriff, Wm. MAJOR; Recorder, Charles MOUNT; Commissioners, Jesse ATKINSON, Joshua GOODWIN, and William PRIDDY; Assessor, John KUTH.
The following are the county officers in 1872-73: A. W. BAKER, Probate Judge; Julius A. GLEASON, Auditor; George W. DAY, Clerk, James L. PRICE, Prosecuting Attorney; John SEAMAN, Treasurer; Abraham B. GLEASON, Sheriff; P. C. CONN, Recorder; James W. RIMER, Surveyor; A. N. KROUT, Coroner; Samuel MILLER, Abijah GOODWIN, and Abraham BALYEAT, Commissioners.
     The town of Van Wert was laid out on the 30th of March, 1835.  George MARSH, James Watson RILEY, and Peter AUGHINBAUGH being the original proprietors.  The last addition, by Judge Wm. L. HELFENSTEIN, was made on the 29th of August, 1840.
     Population of the town in 1850, 268; in 1860, 1,015; in 1870, 2,625.  Valuation of real and personal estate, in 1871, $866,991.
     The St. Louis and Toledo Railway will cross the P. F. W. and C. R. W. at Van Wert, passing through Kalida to Ottawa.
     An error having occurred in stating the population of Delphos, page 461, it is here re-stated:  In 1850, 374; in 1860, 425; in 1870, 1,667.  The taxable basis in the Van Wert portion of Delphos amounting to about one-third the part included in Allen county, was in 1872, $142,089.
     Willshire is the oldest town in the county, having been founded in 1822 by Capt. RILEY, who was prominently identified with the early history of North Western Ohio, and who made the first survey of United States lands in the Maumee Valley.  In 1872, Willshire had a population of 268.
     In Van Wert there were nine churches - 1. Presbyterian; 1 M. E.; 1 English and one German Lutheran; 1 Baptist; 1 Disciple; 1 Catholic; 1 Evangelical Protestant; and one African M. E.  A new public school building, at a cost exceeding $40,000, has been erected within the last two years, which the State Superintendent of Schools pronounces the best, considering it cost, erected within the last ten years.
     Fully six hundred thousand dollars are invested in the following named manufacturing industries: 5 stave factories; 1 foundry; 2 steam flour mills; 2 planing mills; 1 saw-mill; 4 brick yards; 1 hub and spoke factory; 1 woolen mill; 3 cabinet factories; 2 wagon and 2 carriage factories; 2 harness shops; 2 marble shops; 1 lumber yard, selling pine dressed lumber; 1 broom-handle factory; 1 tile factory; 7 shoe and 3 tailor shops; 1 ashery; 1 brewery; 1 flax mill; 1 cheese factory and 2 cooper shops.  Eighteen steam engines are working within and directly outside the corporation.
     The banking business is in the hands of the First National and the Van Wert County Bank.
     The Van Wert Bulletin, J. H. FOSTER, editor, and Van Wert Times, W. H. CLYMER, editor, are issued from establishments well supplied with material for executing superior job printing.  There are also 4 hotels; six general merchandise stores; 13 grocery and provision stores; 2 produce warehouses; 4 drug stores; 2 clothing stores; 2 hardware stores; 2 tin and stove stores; 3 livery and sale stables; 6 sewing machine depots; 1 fancy furnishing store; 2 tobacco and cigar stores.

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