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OHIO GENEALOGY EXPRESS

A Part of Genealogy Express
 

Welcome to
VINTON COUNTY,  OHIO
History & Genealogy


Source:  A Standard History of the Hanging Rock Region of Ohio
- Publ. The Lewis Publishing Company - 1916

CHAPTERS:

I II III IV V VI

PIONEER EVENTS AND PEOPLE
Page 567

 

     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.

     The early 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"

     Little is 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 example.

NATURE'S INVITATIONS.

     With the 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 of McArthur.
     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.

     Isaac Phillips 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.

     Until March 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 Jackson townships.

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 $80.
     "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.

     The first 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 Levi Johnson.
    
The first death was a child, Sarah Cassill.
    
The first preaching in the township was by Rev. Jacob Hooper.
    
The first white settler in Vinton County was Levi Kelsy, who came in 1801.
     The first cemetery was called Calvin's Graveyard.
     The first church was one built of logs and was used as such for about twenty-five years.

SCHOOLS.

     The first 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 1821-22.
     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.

     The Wilkesville 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 be preserved. 
     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
HENRY DUC
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 Isaac West.

WILKESVILLE FOUNDED

     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 about 1807.

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 Wilkesville Township.

METHODIST PIONEERS.

     Wilkesville developed 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.

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF WILKESVILLE.

     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 schools.

WILKESVILLE SCHOOLS.

     The first 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.

OLD MILLS

     In the 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.

     The first 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.

MCARTHUR FOUNDED.

     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 out-lots.
     "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 HadwayWilliam 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.

OLDEST CHURCH IN THE COUNTY.

     The 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 TanneryThe 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 worship.

FIRST SCHOOLS AND TEACHERS.

     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.

MCARTHUR POSTOFFICE.

     A postoffice 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.

GEORGE W. SHOCKEY ON EARLY TIMES

     George W. 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 of sixty-eight.
     "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 VINTON TOWNSHIP

     Vinton Township, 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.

SWAN TOWNSHIP

     Swan Township, 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 Hass.
    
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 physician.
     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 David Johnson.
    
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.

JACKSON TOWNSHIP

     Jackson 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 Samuel Darby.
    
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. 

EAGLE TOWNSHIP

     Eagle 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

    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 Nicholas.

ALLENSVILLE

     Henry 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.

 

 

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