HISTORY OF VAN WERT
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
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
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
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,
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.