For more than
forty-five years before Vinton County was created
politically, and while its present territory was still
parcelled out among Athens, Gallia, Jackson, Hocking and
Ross counties, its pioneers were making their homes in what
are now Elk, Clinton and Wilkesville townships, in its
southeastern section. McArthur, Hamden, Wilkesville
and the other centers of population, which are now most in
evidence, were the first communities to assume leadership.
PIONEER INDUSTRIAL LIFE.
settlers appear to have adopted a number of the occupations
to support themselves and their families. Most of them
made burr stones for flour mills, there being several quite
valuable deposits of that mineral in the vicinity of what is
now McArthur. The soil was good and readily responded
to cultivation which was even only moderately skillful, so
that the forefathers and mothers of the county managed to
raise the needful grain and vegetables; little mills for the
grinding of household supplies and feed for the livestock
were soon busy, as well as another type of industry not so
desirable. But drinking of liquor, especially by the
heads of households, was quite the rule in those days, and
several distilleries appeared in Southeastern Vinton County
only a few years after its settlement. Still later the
coal and iron deposits of the Valley of Raccoon Creek
attracted a considerable immigration to an area even further
north, and the half a dozen furnaces which were founded in
Vinton County increased her industrial prosperity and her
population for many years.
There is therefore a clear dividing line in the history
of Vinton County, which has determined the scope of this
chapter - that is the period covered by the early
settlements of the territory which was organized into a
county in 1850. In that year came the county
organization and the fixing of McArthur as its seat of
justice, and soon afterward the founding of the iron
industries which were active for many years.
Consequently, any happenings previous to 1850 may
appropriately be termed pioneer.
LEVI KELSEY AND "A MR. MUSSELMAN"
known of the first settler in Elk Township and the county -
Levi Kelsey, who located his homestead in 1802; but,
although more is known of the second adventurer into its
territory, only his family name has come own to us.
The early settlers always speak of him as "a Mr.
Musselman," but give him credit for discovering the
first burr-stone quarry in the county. He located in
1805; was a miller by trade and somewhat of a geologist;
which accounts for his discovery. Mr. Musselman
started the first quarry in 1806, and not a few of the
pioneers in other townships along Raccoon Creek followed his
exception of Swan Township, which it fully equals, Elk is
probably the best agricultural district in the county.
The valleys are fertile, being rich in an alluvial soil.
It is abundantly watered by Little Raccoon Creek, Elk Fork
and Puncheon Fork, the last named just touching the Village
Thus Nature invited man to that locality through many
promises of the comforts and pleasures of life; and her
invitation was accepted.
THOSE WHO RESPOND.
came in 1806 and John Phillips in 1807. A
Mr. Cassill located about the same time on section 26,
and the death of his child, Sarah, was the first in
the township. Levi Johnson became a settler in
1811; built the first horse-mill and the first still
house-and, as the pioneer justice of the peace, performed
the first marriage. In the same year the list of Elk
Township settlers was increased by the addition of the names
of the brothers, Jacob and Paul Shry who located
claims on section 28.
ELK TOWNSHIP FORMED FROM ALEXANDER.
7, 1811, there was no Elk Township even by name, but on that
date the commissioners of Athens County made the following
order: "Ordered, taht all that part of Alexander
township lying west of the 15th range, being townships 10
and 11, range 17, and townships 9 and 10, range 16, be
erected into a new township by the name of Elk." For
nearly forty years Elk Township retained her original size,
which was created in 1850 it became Congressional Township
No. 11, range No. 17, bounded on the north by Swan, east by
Madison, south by Clinton and west by Richland and part of
MRS. BOTHWELL'S REMINISCENCES.
In 1814 the
Bothwell family settled near the present site of
McArthur, and in 1874, when Mrs. Charlotte E. Bothwell,
the mother of the family, was eighty-six years of age, she
wrote about her experiences of those early times in the
following interesting vein:
"McArthur, Ohio, July 5, 1874. - It is just sixty years
this day since my husband and myself with two children,
started to move to Ohio. We had been married four
years, and living at Silveysport, Md., where we had moved
from Fayette County, Pa., where I was born, Jan. 22, 1788.
I was twenty-six years of age; my husband was twenty-nine.
We hired a man with a wagon to move us to Geneva, a town on
the Monongahela River, about thirty miles, where we intended
to go on a flatboat. This was before the discovery of
steam-power. When we got there the river was so low
the boats could not run. We waited ten days, but the
water was still getting lower, and my husband bought a large
pirogue and put our movables in it, and hired a man for a
pilot at $2 per day. My husband's brother came with
us. We started on Thursday. We were not two
hours on the water till both the children were very sick
with vomiting. We stayed the first night in
Brownsville; Saturday we got to Pittsburg, about an hour
before sun-down. As the children were very sick we
intended to stop with a family of old friends by the name of
Brison. My husband and the other men went up
into town, and left me alone with the children.
"We remained in Pittsburg till Wednesday, when, the
children being much better, we started again. As soon
as we were on the water the children got worse. We
arrived at Marietta on Saturday. The youngest child
was very sick. My husband had a sister with her family
that lived there. This sister was the grandmother of
President Scott, of the Ohio University, at Athens.
We stayed there till Wednesday, when we started again.
On Monday morning we arrived at Gallipolis. There came
up a very great storm, and I took my children and hurried up
in town. The first house I came to was a bakery.
I went in, sat down with my children, called for a pint of
beer and six cakes. I did not want them, but I wanted
an excuse to stay. In the afternoon it cleared off,
and my sister's husband, Isaac Pierson, came with his
wagon to move us to our journey's end. They put our
movables in the wagon, and we stayed that night at the
tavern. Tuesday morning we started; Thursday morning
we took breakfast where the town of Jackson now stands.
It was then a salt-works, a number of rough, scattering
cabins and log rows of kettles of boiling salt water.
It was nine miles to Mr. Paine's rows of kettles of
boiling salt water. It was nine miles to Mr.
Paine's' that was the first house after we left the
salt-works. About the middle of the day it commenced
raining very hard and rained all that day; everything was
soaked with water. My youngest child lay in my arms
wet and cold, and looked more like it was dead than alive.
Several times we stopped the wagon to examine the child to
see if it was dead. But we had to go on; there was no
house to stop at till we got to Mr. Paine's. It
was more than an hour after dark when we got there, wet,
cold, and still raining. We found Mrs. Paine
one of the best and kindest of women. If we had got to
mother's or sister's we could not have been more kindly
treated. After breakfast, on the next morning, we
started and got to my brother-in-law's the eveing of the 5th
of August, where, four days afterwards, our child died.
"We were just thirty-two days on the way. The
weather was pleasant enough until we got to Gallipolis.
From there here the weather and the roads were very bad -
the bad roads of today bearing no comparison to them.
In point of fact, there were no roads, but mere paths, and
the men compelled to cut out roads with axes, and drive
along side-hills, where it was all the men could do to keep
the wagon from upsetting.
"My husband had been here the spring previous, entered
160 acres of land - being the farm now owned by David Bay
- and reared the walls of a cabin upon it. When we got
here it had neither floor, door, window, chimney nor roof.
My husband hired two men to make clapboards to cover it and
puncheons for a floor, we remaining with my brother-in-law
until this was done. We then moved into our new house,
to finish it up at our leisure. Isaac Pierson
then 'scutched' down the logs, my husband chincked it, and I
daubed up the cracks with clay. There was no plank to
be had, the nearest saw-mill being Dixon's, on Salt
Creek, twenty miles away, and I hung up a table cloth to
close the hole left for the window, and a bed-quilt for a
door. The back wall of a fireplace occupied nearly one
whole side of the house, but the chimney was not built on
it, and when the wind blew, the smoke in the house would
almost drive me out. We lived in this way five months.
I was not used to backwood's life and the howling of the
wolves, with nothing but a suspended bed-quilt for a door,
coupled with the other discomforts of border life, made me
wish many a time that I was back at my good old home.
"On the 14th day of January, 1815, the chimney was
built; my husband had got some plank and a sash, and made
the door and the window. The hinges and latches were
of wood. Our cabin was the only one in the whole
country around that had a glass window. On the same day,
while the men were working at the house, I finished a suit
of wedding clothes of David Johnson, father of
George and Benjamin Johnson who still live here. I
had the suit all done but a black satin vest when he came.
I didn't know it was a wedding suit, and tried to put him
off, but he would not be put off. The next day my
third child, Catharine, who is the widow of Joseph
Foster, and lives near Sharonville, Ohio, was born.
"My husband was a cabinet-maker and a painter, but
bedsteads and chairs and painting were not in use here at
that day, and his business was confined to making
spinning-wheels and reels. He did not get his shop up
until the first day of May. He had first started out
here the previous May, and not worked for a year, and
consequently our little accumualted earnings were all spent.
However, we were now comfortably fixed. I had got some
pipe clay and white washed the inside of the cabin, and some
of our neighbors regarded us as very rich and very
aristocratic - thought we put on too much style for this
country! I had learned the tailoring business, and found
plenty of work at it. There was not much money in the
settlement, and I was more frequently paid in work than
cash; but we wanted our farm cleared up, and therefore
needed work. It cost us about $10 an acre to clear the
land, besides the fencing. Lands all belonged to the
Government and could be entered in quarter sections, or 160
acres, at $2 per acre, to be paid in four annual payments of
"When we first came here there were perhaps fifty
families in and around this settlement, most of them
quarrying and making millstones. There was no person
making a business of farming. All had their patches of
garden, but making millstones was the principal business.
Isaac Pierson, the father of Sarah Pierson, of
Chillicothe, had the most extensive quarry."
FIRST THINGS AND EVENTS.
marriage in Elk Township was that of Abraham Cassill
to a young lady living with Mr. Jacob Shry, who came
from Virginia. "Squire Levi Johnson was the
officiating person. This was in 1813.
The first horse-mill in Elk Township was erected by
The first death was a child, Sarah Cassill.
The first preaching in the township was by Rev.
The first white settler in Vinton County was
Levi Kelsy, who came in 1801.
The first cemetery was called Calvin's
The first church was one built of logs and was used as
such for about twenty-five years.
schoolhouse was on section 16, in the year 1820. It
was a subscription schoolhouse, being built by Levi Kelsy
and others. William Clark, a son-in-law of
Mr. Kelsey, taught the first school. The following
year another log schoolhouse was erected on section 12, in
which Mr. Clark again taught during the winter of
The United Brethren Church was organized in 1843 with
the following constituent members: George Speed and
wife, Nathan Robinett and wife, David Markwood and wife,
Isaac Wescoat and wife, Charles Dowd and wife, Mr. Sherril
and wife, John Bullard and wife, William Swaim and wife,
Lewis Blackman adn wife, William Matthews, Joseph Caylore,
Sabina Fry and Tena Fry.
OLDEST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
Church was organized with seven members, two men and five
women: John Strong, Henry Le Duc, Lucy Le Duc, Mary Le
Duc, Betsey Davis, Sadai Strong, and Mabel Strong.
Mr. Le Duc and Mr. Strong were ordained elders.
Some facts concerning these original members ought to
Henry Le Duc was the founder of the Town of
Wilkesville. Coming here as there agent of Mr.
Wilkes he laid out the town on the 10th day of June,
1810. He built the brick house afterward occupied by
James Lyons about the year 1816 and in that house
Mr. Gould preached the first Presbyterian sermon and
there the church was organized. He Americanized his
own name, signing it, "Henry Duc," but his children
resumed the French prefix.
In the old graveyard on the hill his epitaph may still
be read on the crumbling stone:
To the Memory of
Who departed this life June 27,
1827, aged 64 years.
He was born in France, came to
America an officer in the French fleet,
was the founder of this town and
endeared to all his acquaintances.
He is now "where the wicked cease from
troubling, and the weary are at rest."
The church was
irregularly supplied by Mr. Gould, Rev. Augustus Pomeroy
and others, until 1832. The first church building, the
old one on the hill, was erected in 1828, and the first
child baptized in it was Quincy Adams Davis.
In 1832 Rev. Hiram R. Howe began his
labors at Wilkesville, and in 1836, while still in charge,
organized the church at Jackson. He retired from the
pastorate in 1837 and was succeeded by Rev. Ellery Bascomin
1839. In 1850 Mr. Howe returned to the field
and remained two years. Rev. Thomas Welch held
the pastorate from 1855 to 1863 and Rev. Warren Taylor
from 1865 to 1876. Largely through his influence
and labors Wilkesville Academy was built in 1866. In
1874 a more commodious church was built by the
Presbyterians, but both church and parsonage were destroyed
by fire in 1888. In the meantime Rev. John Noble,
Rev. J. P. A. Dickey, Rev. T. F. Boyd and others had
succeeded Mr. Taylor as pastors, and in 1895 Rev.
Charles B. Taylor, Ph. D., one of the three sons of
Rev. Warren Taylor who had gone forth from the
Wilkesville Church and entered the ministry, assumed the
charge which his father had so long and faithful held.
Rev. Warren Taylor died in 1890. Both father
and son were soldiers in the Union army.
BEFORE THE EARLY '20s
The year after the
arrival of the Bothwell family, in 1815, James
and William Mysick settled on sections 25 and 26, and
Edward Salts came in 1816 and entered the land upon
which McArthur Junction afterward stood. Some of
the later arrivals, but still falling well within the list of
pioneers, were Thadeus Fuller, David Richmond, Rev. Joshua
Green, Lemuel and Allen Lane, Joseph Gill and
In the meantime quite
a brisk settlement had been started in the extreme
southeastern part of what is now Vinton County named
Wilkesville, and in 1815 a separate township by that name was
organized from Gallia County. The village is now half a
mile from the Meigs County line. The land on which it
stands, as well as a large part of the surrounding country,
was purchased by an eastern gentlemen named Wilkes
HENRY DUC AND OTHERS.
In the year 1810
Henry Duc, the agent of Mr. Wilkes, arrived upon
the ground and on the 10th of June laid out the town.
During that year the families of Isaac Hawk, William
Humphreys, Henry Jones, Rufus Wells and Mr. Terry settled
in the township. The first was that of Mr. Hawk,
which in 1807 had moved from Greenbrier County, Virginia, to
the lower part of Gallia County, and thence, in January, 1810,
to Wilkesville. Mr. Duc offered a land warrant to
the first child born in the new town and it went to Clara
Jones. He himself brought his family to Wilkesville
from Middletown, Connecticut, in the spring of 1812.
About the same time Mr. Chitwood, another eastern man,
moved to the farm afterward owned by Able Wells.
He opened a store in his house and was the first merchant of
into quite a village and naturally its people got together at
an early date in their capacity as religionists. Rev.
Mr. Dixon, a Methodist, held the first services in the
village and was followed by Rev. John Brown, who formed
a class about 1814.
But Henry Duc,
the local founder of the place, was a Presbyterian and in 1821
he headed a movement among the laymen of Wilkesville to
organize a church of his denomination.
In October, 1821, the Presbyterian Church of
Wilkesville was organized by the Rev. William R. Gould,
a man to whom Southeastern Ohio owes much for his earnest
labors in behalf of religion and education. He came to
this region as a missionary of the Connecticut Home Missionary
Society, founded the churches at Gallipolis and Wilkesville,
and was for many years an examiner of teachers for the public
school in Wilkesville was taught by Mrs. Crooker, in
1818. A schoolhouse was built where the present one
stands about 1833. Mrs. Isham, sister of
Doctor Isham, first taught in it. Besides the
public schools there were occasional select schools.
Maj. J. C. H. Cobb taught an excellent school for
some two years, and Mrs. E. D. Shaw also taught for a
time. Just after the close of the war Rev. Warren
Taylor taught for a time. Just after the close of
the war Rev. Warren Taylor taught a select school in
the Presbyterian Church. A number of Returned soldiers
attended. In the spring of 1866, at a meeting of a few
leading citizens, called by Rev. W. Taylor, the
building of Wilkesville Academy was determined upon.
The money was nearly all raised in the vicinity. This
school was of great benefit to Wilkesville, attracting
students from abroad and furnished the surrounding country
with some excellent common-school teachers. The
academy is now merged with the Wilkesville High School,
which has recently received its charter as a first class
high school, Prof. W. H. Durkee being the principal.
Wilkesville was incorporated in August, 1881, but for
the past twenty-five or thirty years has declined in
population from about three hundred to two hundred.
northern part of Wilkesville Township, near Hawk's Station
of the present, was built one of the first mills of the
county - Hartley's. It was built on Raccoon
Creek, probably as early as 1825, by one Houdasheldt,
who, after operating it for twenty years, sold it to
Benjamin Hawk. The Quinn Mill, near what is
now Minerton, is nearly as old as Hartley's.
Among the early settles in the vicinity of Hartley's
Mill were Peter Starr, a relative of Houdasheldt,
who accompanied him to the locality; Isaac Hawk and
his son, Benjamin Hawk, who settled in the northern
part of the township in 1842 (Isaac Hawk died in
1863; Benjamin Hawk, in 1865); Michael Carpenter,
Ivory Thacker, Thomas Thacker, Holman Thacker, James McNeal,
Louis McDowell, Malachi Dorton, Dennis McGinnis and
W. Knapper. The last three were drowned at
Hartley's Mill in 1857 by the upsetting of a canoe in
which they were rowing.
Vinton Township also contained two old mills; the
pioneer was erected by Stephen Aiken in the early
'30s. It was burned and rebuilt in 1864. Vale's
Mill was built by Gabriel Bowen in 1839 and is still
running, owned by J. Q. A. Vale.
CLINTON TOWNSHIP SETTLED.
settlements in what is now Clinton Township were made about
1814 by Nathaniel Richmond, David Paine, Robert Elders,
Downy Read, Robert Ward, Thomas McGrady, Willilam McGrady
and Abraham Wilbur. It was Mr. Richmond
who bought the land upon which the Village of Hamden was
laid out at a later day. But the founding of McArthur
antedates the rise of Hamden.
The site and
central location of what is now the Village of McArthur
pointed to their selection as the best for the seat of
justice when the county was formed in 1850. Its
advantages as a town were evident to the early settlers
thirty-five years before, and all of these features cannot
be better presented than by quoting from the "History of the
Hocking Valley," a publication long since out of print:
"This village, the county seat of Vinton County, is
located nearly in the center of the county and but little
south of the center of Elk Township. Its situation on
a slightly oval surface between the two main branches of Elk
Fork and near their confluence is a pleasant one, rarely
surpassed in modest rural beauty. These streams are
small, mere brooks, but for an inland village, this site is
hardly equaled in all of Southern Ohio. This strip of
land is considerably elevated, forming a small plateau, the
edges of which are in some places deeply carved by the
action of running water. Elk Fork, which has its
beginning at the junction of the two smaller streams
embracing the site of McArthur, is a branch of Raccoon
Creek, into which it flows in the southern part of the
county. Of those two small streams the larger one
comes from the north and the other from the northwest.
"Cabins of early settlers had made their appearance on
this little plateau prior to the year 1815, while nearly all
was yet a forest. But these, so far as can be learned,
were only two in number and occupied by two brothers,
William and Jerry Pierson. About this time some
burrstone quarries in the northern part of the county were
being worked, and the roads over which these stones were
hauled from two of the quarries coming together at this
place made it of some importance as a stopping place.
"Its eligibility for the location of a town
attracted the attention of men of capital who happened to
see it. In 1815 Isaac Pierson, Levi Johnson, Moses
Dawson, George Will, and John Beach - the two
latter from Adelphi - forming a company, purchased the
quarter section on which McArthur is situated, and laid out
the town on the 25to of November in that year. The
situation is the southeast quarter of section 21, of
township11, range 17, and at that time belonged to Athens
County. As laid out at this time it contained 112
in-lots and twenty-five out-lots. These lots were
conveniently provided with streets and alleys crossing each
other at right angles. Main street, running due east
and west, is eighty-two and one-half feet wide, while North,
High, Mill and South streets, all running parallel to Main
are each sixty-six feet wide. Boundary alley, which
was the western boundary of the original plat, is
thirty-three feet wide at the southern end and forty-eight
feet at the northern end. All the alleys within the
in-lots are each sixteen and one-half feet wide. Main,
Market and North streets are each continued through the
"The dimensions of the in-lots are ten poles in length
from north to south and four poles in breadth from east to
west. In-lots Nos. 63 and 64 were allotted for public
ground and reserved for court and market house and jail.
April 10, 1840, the first addition was made to the original
plat by Aaron Lantz and P. and S. H. Brown
of 109 in-lots. In May, 1842 P. and S. H. Brown
made another addition of nine out-lots. August 7 and
8, 1844, David Richmond's addition was surveyed and
laid out. B. P. Hewitt and Robert Sage
made another addition in April, 1854, of eight in-lots, and
Sept. 3, 1858, at the instance of Thomas B. Davis,
another addition of twenty-four in-lots was made.
"The newly laid-out town was named McArthurstown in
honor of Hon. Duncan McArthur, a prominent Ohio
statesman at that time. The lots sold well at first,
six or seven houses going up the first year.
Stanbaugh Stancliff built the first house after the town
was laid out. Stancliff was the grandfather of
Judge Du Hadway. William Green was the
first shoemaker who lived here, and his daughter was the
first child born in the village. She was presented
with a town lot by the town company. A Mr. Washburn
was the first blacksmith to locate here. In 1815, a
Mr. Paffenbarger started a tan-yard just east of the
graveyeard. In 1816 Joel Sage built the first
tavern in the village. His wife died in a year or so
and he rented the tavern to Thomas Wren, who kept it
for several years. It stood on the corner of Main and
Market streets. In the same year the tavern was
started John Phillips and Dr. Windsor started
the first store. The store was owned by Phillips
and Windsor, was managed by Windsor, and
handled general merchandise.
CHURCH IN THE COUNTY.
Methodist Episcopal Church of McArthur was organized in 1814
by Rev. Joel Havens, and is the oldest religious
organization in the County of Vinton. Isaac Pierson's
house was at first selected as the place for holding the
services, but soon after the town was laid out the meeting
house was changed to Rev. Benjamin Keiger's tannery,
known previously as the Paffenbarger Tannery.
The Methodists erected a log church about
1819, and the building was used for some years by other
denominations. Mr. Keiger was followed in the
pastorate by Rev. Jacob Hooper, the first regular
preacher being Rev. David Culverson. The old
log church served its purposes well until 1843, when a small
brick edifice was erected not far from the original house of
In the meantime
various schools had been established in the village.
About the time the old log Methodist Church was built a few
select schools were being taught in private rooms.
Among the pioneer teachers were J. Stanclift, John
Johnson, Anthony Burnside, John Dodds, George W. Shockey
and the woman who afterward became so widely known in
temperance work as Mother Stewart.
The teachers mentioned mostly taught in rented
rooms, but about 1828 lot No. 98 was bought and a very fair
structure was erected thereon, 20 by 24 feet, from funds
raised by subscription. The schoolhouse was used for a
number of years as headquarters for public education, as
well as for a church and a township hall. It was
furnished with plank seats and desks, the teacher general
furnishing his own splint-bottom chair. The district
was not set apart as an independent school until 1853.
was not established in McArthur until 1828. Previously
the few inhabitants obtained their mail from Athens or
Chillicothe. Thomas Wren, the first postmaster,
received the local mail by horseback messenger once a week.
After 1835 the trip was made twice a week.
SHOCKEY ON EARLY TIMES
Shockey, mentioned as one of the early teachers of
McArthur, many years afterward, while a resident of
Washington, District of Columbia, wrote as follows regarding
the pioneers and early events connected with McArthur: "I
was born in Athens County, Ohio, now Vinton County, in the
year 1822, and can recollect many of the first settlers of
Elk Township. My grandfather, Frederic Snyder,
came from Hampshire County, Va., in the year 1821, and
settled on the farm at Vinton Station, three miles east of
McArthur. He was a farmer, and also had learned the
carpenter's trade. Several yeas after, he removed to
Ross County, and died at the rip age of ninety years.
His son, Smith Snyder, came from the same county in
Virginia, and in the same year married Miss Rachel Fry,
and made a settlement on the farm now owned by
Charles Brown. He built a saw and grist ill on
Raccoon Creek near his house, which were run successfully
for many years.
"Jacob Shockey, a pioneer, was a native of
Berkley County, Va., and moved to Vinton County (at that
time Athens) in 1821. He first arrived at Chillicothe,
but in the same year moved to Elk Township, Vinton County,
one and a half miles east of McArthur, on Congress land,
then known as the old Will fild, but now owned by Henry
Robbins. At that time Elk Township was almost a
wilderness, with the exception of one or two acres.
This settlement was a dark, wild forest of heavy timber, in
which many wild beasts of the forest loved to roam at large.
Near by and on this farm were several rock houses and a
saltpeter cave. Not far off was also an alum cave, and
many dear licks and a wild-cat den. I can remember of
seeing a black bear near McArthur. It was treed and
shot by Stephen Martin in sight of the court-house in
McArthur. There were numerous wild animals in and
about McArthur since my recollection, such as bear, deer,
wolves, catamounts, wild-cat, foxes, coon, and other smaller
animals. A few years after, Mr. Shockey bought
a piece of Congress land now known as the Howell
estate, then sold it and purchased another place, known as
the Purkey place, one and a half miles northeast of
McArthur. From there he moved to McArthur, and after
all the hardships of pioneer life - of a new and unsettled
country redeemed from a wilderness, a family of seven
reared, educated and provided for, and after living to see
the march of civilization and modern improvements take the
place of the Indians and wild beasts of the forest - he was
destined, just as peace, prosperity and contentment had
found an abiding-place in his home, to cross the mystic
river and join those who had gone before, leaving an honored
came and an unblemished reputation. He died at the age
"Robert Sage, Hiram Hulbert, Jacob Shry, Rachel
Snyder, James Pilcher, John England, David Evans, Charles
Bevington, David Culbertson, Michael Swaim, Moses Dawson,
Eli and Cyrus Catlin, David Markwood, George Fry (Senior),
Isaac Shry, William Hoffhines, John Wyman, Levi Wyman, James
Robgbins, Philip Kelch, John Winters, John Morrisson, Lewis
Benjamin, Samuel and Jacob Calvin, James Bothwell, Richard
McDougal, Thomas Johnson, and Nathan Horton were among
the early settlers. I think there were never any block
houses in Vinton County. There were two water-mills on
Elk Fork of Raccoon Creek, built by Moses Dawson as
early as 1820. One on the farm now owned by Harvey
Robbins, one and a half miles east of McArthur, the
other, one mile northeast of McArthur on the same stream,
known now as the Gold Mill."
John J. Shockey, a brother of the writer of the
foregoing letter. once served as sheriff of the county, and
another brother, Rev. William M. Shockey, was a
Methodist minister who died in 1860.
EARLY COMERS TO
north to Wilkesville Township, in the southeastern corner of
the county, received an early influx of settlers, the
following locating before 1825: George Entsler,
William Pierce, William Mark, Paul Mas, Royal R. Althas
and James Read. Other early settlers were John
Booth, who came from Harrison County, Virginia, in 1831,
was John Booth, who came from Harrison County,
Virginia, in 1831, was long the oldest living settler in the
township and passed the later years of his life at
Radcliff's Station; Jonathan Radcliff, Jonathan Bloer
and Stephen Aiken, all of whom located either in 1826
or 1827. Mr. Aiken was a miller by trade, and
soon after his arrival he built a mill on Raccoon Creek.
Very soon after the first settlers located in the township, a
Methodist circuit preacher visited them to hold religious
services, and in 1827 the first school was opened on
fractional section 19, near the first cemetery.
which is bounded on the north by Hocking County, is one of the
most productive sections in the county and has always been
noted for its fine farms; so that it acquired a high standing
long before its ore beds commenced to yield. The
settlers began to come as early as 1818, among the first being
David Johnson, Frederick Kaler, David, Peter and
John Kenders, and peter, Jacob and David Haynes.
The first schoolhouse was built by David
Johnson, Mr. Kaler and three brothers by the name of
The first school was taught by a Mr. Hill,
and the second by Harker Shoemaker.
The first mill was built in 1823 by John Rager
on Little Raccoon Creek, although there had been horse-mills
previous to this, but these were considered to slow, so water
power was brought into requisition.
The first child born in Swan Township is believed to
have been Hon. E. H. Moore, now of Athens, Ohio.
The first death was a child of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse
Collins. It was buried in the cemetery near the
residence of David Johnson.
The first justice of the peace was Peter Haynes.
Dr. Jesse Cartlich was the first practicing
The first church was built in 1830 at New Mt. Pleasant,
although there was one commenced but never finished in the
south part of the township at an earlier date.
The first religious society formed was the Methodist
Episcopal, which organized in 1818, at the residence of
The first preacher was Reverend Coston, who
was succeeded by the Reverend Gillruth, familiarly
known as the giant preacher, as he was the strongest man in
this section of the country, his strength being equal to the
combined powers of two ordinary men.
Township is between Swan and Eagle, in the northwestern part
of the county. It was organized from Eagle Township in
1831. It is, like all the mineral country, broken and
hilly, with a few narrow valleys, and well watered. In
the southern part it has the middle fork of Salt Creek, with
several small tributaries, and in the west and north Pretty
Run. Numerous springs are also found, so that both
before and after the Furnace Period it has always been
considered a good country for live stock.
Among the first settlers was John Tilton, Eli Hill,
Isaac Hawks, Enoch DIxon, William Burns, Thomas Colwell,
Archibald Drake, Peter Milton and Jacob and
William Arkson, Frederick Garrick, Joseph Wyatt and
The first church built in this township was the
"Locust Grove" Church, and was first constructed of logs, but
a large frame building now occupies the same foundation.
The first sermon was preached by Rev. N. Redfern.
The first store in the township was opened by
James Ankram on the middle fork of Salt Creek, on section
27. This is the only store ever kept in the township.
The first mill was erected on section 27 by Jacob
Ankram. This is a saw and grist mill combined, and
at the present time does much toward supplying the wants of
the people of Jackson and flour and lumber.
The first township clerk was James Honnold.
The first justice of the peace
was Thomas Colwell.
Township, in the northwestern part of the county, is bounded
on the north by Hocking County and on the west by Ross.
When Hocking County was organized, April 25, 1818, Eagle
Township included the present Township of Jackson and had
quite a number of settlers, who had been coming in during the
previous five or six years. These pioneers all settled
along Salt Creek and Pretty Run, which are the chief drainage
streams of the township, and included Moses Dawson, John
Ratcliff, Lawrence Rains, Jonathan Francis, Joshua
Pickens and William Vanderford, Sr.
Mr. Rains built the first ill on Salt Creek, at the
mouth of Pike Run, about 1813, and shortly afterward
Solomon Cox erected one on Pretty Run.
The first election in Eagle Township was held May 9,
1818, at the house of Moses Dawson.
On June 2, 1834, the commissioners of Hocking County
cut off the north their of sections from Eagle Township and
added them to Salt Creek Township of Hocking County, leaving
Eagle Township but five miles north and south by six east and
west. The following winter what remained of it was
transferred by special act of the General Assembly to Ross
County, where it remained until Vinton County to make up her
required territory. Thus Eagle Township had been some
sixteen years a part of Hocking County and almost sixteen
years a part of Ross.
RICHLAND TOWNSHIP was organized
about 1824, as a portion of Ross County. It was
afterward attached to Jackson County for political and
legislative purposes and in 1850 was incorporated into the
body politic of Vinton County.
The following is a partial list of the old settlers of
Richland Township. Henry, John, Abraham, Job, William
and Joseph Cozad and their families; John A.
Swepston, James and Solomon Redfern, Robert Clark, Levi
Davis, Samuel Darby, Enoch Dixon, John Loving, George
Claypool, Philip Waldron, Geroge Waldron, Nathan Cox, Jeremiah
Cox, Samuel Cox, Samuel Graves, James Graves, William Graves,
Henry Graves, Nathan Graves, Jonathan Graves, Joseph Graves,
Thomas Graves, William Graves, Jr., John Graves, Eli Graves,
William Hutt, Charles Hutt and Lemuel Hutt.
Samuel Darby was a soldier in the War of 1812. His
father, William Darby, was a soldier of the Revolution,
serving under Washington for five yeras as a drummer in a
Pennsylvania regiment commanded by Colonel Patton.
He died in Vinton County and is buried in an old cemetery
near the Morgan Mill.
The first mill in the township - a combined grist and
sawmill - was built about 1843 by Benjamin Rains.
The Allensville and Graves mills followed later.
Richland is the largest township in the county,
comprising forty-two full sections, or 26,880 acres, most of
which is excellent land. It is drained principally by
the middle fork of Salt Creek. The mineral section of
the township is in the southern part.
Harrison Township, to the west of Richland, is bounded
on the west by Ross County, of which it was once a part.
It is watered and broken by Pigion Fork and the middle fork of
Salt Creek, along which the pioneers of the township settled,
viz., James Brady, Morris Humphrey, Solomon Wilkinson,
Joseph and William Dixon, Joseph Baker and John
Cozad, one of the fist to settle in Richland Township,
entered land in Harrison Township, northeast of its central
sections, and in 1837 laid off a town there which he named
Allensville, in honor of William Allen. Mr. Cozad
was the first merchant of the place and became its first
postmaster when an office was established in 1839.
BROWN, MADISON AND KNOX.
Brown, Madison and Knox
townships form the northeastern portion of Vinton County and
are quite noted for the complicated way in which they were
bandied about between Athens and Hocking counties before
they were finally settled at their later home within the
bounds of Vinton County. The original Brown Township
of Athens County comprised all three, but at the
organization of Hocking County, in 1818, it was divided and
the present Brown Township of Vinton County was attached to
Hocking County, while the present Madison and Knox Townships
formed Brown Township of Athens County. In 1850, when
Vinton County was organized, the two Brown Townships were
incorporated into it as North Brown and South Brown.
On December 2, 1850, the county commissioners of the new
County of Vinton ordered that "the two tiers of sections
which formerly belonged to Lee township, Athens county, and
which were now attached to the township of Brown in this
county, and the two tiers of sections which formerly
belonged to the township of Brown in Athens county, forming
originally the east end of that township, be erected into a
new township to be known by the name of Knox." In 1852
the county board changed the name of South Brown Township to
Madison, what was left of the original territory retaining
the name of Brown.
ZALESKI AND NEW PLYMOUTH
The three townships lie in the valley of Raccoon Creek in
the mineral belt of the Hanging Rock Iron Region and were
for many years given over to the iron and coal industries,
the widely known Village of Zaleski being in the
northwestern corner of Madison Township. Little
progress had been made in the way of settling this part of
the county previous to 1850. One of the oldest points
in that region is near the present New Plymouth, John
Wright, Francis Bartlett, Isaac Lash and others locating
in that neighborhood in the early '20s. The first
school was kept in Mr. Bartlett's house, and the
pioneer log schoolhouse erected about half a mile northeast
of New Plymouth about 1824. The town was laid out at
an early day by eastern people, some of them having migrated
from old Plymouth, Massachusetts, and by 1850 the settlement
was granted postoffice privileges.
THE FOSTER AND BOLEN MILLS.
There were a number of pioneer mills which were built in
Knox Township on the banks of Raccoon Creek. The
Foster mills, a grist and sawmill combined, were erected
on section 31 as early as 1830, and forty years after were
thoroughly rebuilt and modernized.
The old Bolen mills were erected in 1845 by
William Bolen, who owned and operated them for over
twenty years. The machinery was originally run by
water power, but later a steam engine was placed in the
building to be used in case of a deficiency of water power.
Having thus in a general and perhaps cursory manner
introduced the chief events and personages, as well as the
early settlements, which prepared the way for the political
and civil organizations of Vinton County, the writer passes
on to those implied features of the history.