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Delaware County, Ohio

History & Genealogy

20th century history of Delaware County, Ohio
and representative citizens
Chicago, Ill. :: Biographical Pub. Co., 1908 by James R. Lytle
Transcribed by Sharon Wick


Settlement and Organization of the Townships - Settlement and Founding of the Towns
Sketches of Ashley, Galena, Sunbury, Ostrander, Lewis Center, Powell, Radnor, and other towns.
Pg. 435



    NOTE:  - In order to avoid the excessive duplication of data, a considerable amount of matter coming naturally under special headings, as Churches, Military History, History of the professions of Law and Medicine, Public Institutions, Banks, the Press, etc., have been omitted from this chapter and will be found in the special chapters devoted to the respective subjects mentioned, or elsewhere in the general history.


Was third among the townships now constituting Delaware county, inhabited by a white man, Col. Moses Bixbe and his small company settling there in the fall of 1804.  It was formed of the United States Military land, known as the United States Military Survey as Township 4, Range 17, and is now five miles square, but during the early existence of Berkshire Township, its boundary lines and area were frequently changed.  Prior to 1806, it was a part of Sharon Township, in Franklin County, but in that year, through the efforts of Major Thomas Brown, on petition, was organized as a separate township to include the fourth section of what is now Brown, the third section of Kingston, the east half of Berlin and Orange Townships, and the west half of Genoa and the present Berkshire Townships.  This township was given the name, Berkshire, in honor of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, from whence had come Major Brown, Colonel Byxbe and other of the prominent early settlers of the community.  As new townships were organized from time to time, section after section of Berkshire was set off until, of the land originally embodied in the township, but the western half of the present Berkshire Township remained and was joined to the eastern half, which had been set off from Sunbury Township.  Sunbury Township had been established at the first session of Commissioners' Court after Delaware County had been separated from Franklin in 1808, and included, originally, the present townships of Harlem, Trenton and Porter, with the east half of the townships of Kingston, Berkshire and Genoa, besides the townships of Bennington, Harmony.  Peru and Lincoln, now in Morrow County.  The surface of Berkshire County is rolling, lies high, and is admirably adapted to farming.  It was covered with a heavy growth of timber, excepting a small prairie northeast of Berkshire Corners which in the early days was noted as a deer lick and the resort of immense flocks of wild pigeons.  The land lying between the Little and Big Walnut Creeks, which afford excellent drainage for the township, was covered almost exclusively with oak, while in other parts was a variety, including maple, walnut, hickory, butternut and elm.  The soil is a light clay, with the exception of the elm swamps and prairie land, which are of a rich, black loam.
     The first settlers in Berkshire Township came from Berkshire County, Massachusetts.  Colonel Moses Byxbe, a man of wealth and standing, kept hotel and conducted a general store in the township of Lenox, in that county, and in the course of business came into possession of a large number of soldiers' land warrants, which he located in section 2 of what is now Berkshire and section I of the present township of Berlin, 8,000 acres in all.  He afterward acquired other land in Brown and Genoa Townships and was the largest land-owner ever resident of Delaware County.  In June, 1804, he fitted out a four-horse team with Orlando Barker as driver, a three-horse team with Witter Stewart as driver, a single-horse wagon in charge of Solomon Smith, and, after loading with his store stock and household goods, started for his new possessions in the West, leading the way with his family in a carriage drawn by two horses.  He was also accompanied by Azariah Root, a surveyor from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and Edwin Potter, a nephew of Colonel Bixbe, thirteen years of age.  After an adventurous journey, he arrived at Worthington in August, and, this being the nearest point to his destination, built a two-story frame house, in which he and his family lived for three months.  During this time he went to his land in Berkshire, and erected cabins for his home and stables on the prairie, on the bank of the Little Walnut.  He also erected a cabin for Mr. Root on the Berkshire Road, a half mile south of Berkshire Corners.  In November, 1804, he moved with his household goods and his family into the new home.  Berkshire Street was surveyed through his land, and farms laid out abutting it, plans being rapidly advanced to bring in new settlers.  The next to join the settlement was a Mr. Curtis, a shoemaker, who came in January, 1805, followed closely by John Kilbourn, Ralph Slack, Elam Vining, Sr., James Harper,, who was a blacksmith, Adonijah Rice, and two colored women, Sarah Brandy and Polly NokoMajor Thomas Brown, who had visited the settlement in 1805, returned to take up his residence in 1806, being accompanied by Davis Prince and John Patterson.  Nathaniel Hall, James Gregory, Solomon Jones, Joseph Patrick, John B. Grist, David Armstrong, Samuel and David Landon, Gideon and William Osterhaus, a Mr. Helt, George Fisher and Joseph Prince also appear on the roster of names for that period.  In 1807, came Ichabod Plumb and Dr. Reuben Lamb, with their families, from Worthington, and in 1808, Hon. Ezekiel Brown.  The first white child born in the township was Albert Root, born in 1807, followed shortly by the birth of Ralph Slack.  The first death recorded was that of the wife of Elam Vining, Sr., in 1806.  Major Brown in 1811, erected the first brick house, which is still standing, in the township, made of brick manufactured near where the house stood, and in 1816 David and Joseph Price built the first frame dwelling.  Thus it is seen brick antedates lumber as a building material in Berkshire Township, an anomalous situation due to the fact that the settlement numbered among its citizens a brickmaster and mason.  The first mill in the community was that of Nathaniel Hall, built in 1808, on Alum Creek in what is now Berlin Township.  Asa Scott was the first township treasurer, and David Prince, one of the first trustees, but the other officers of the township at its inception are unknown.  Major Brown conducted the first store in the township, and probably the first in the county.  Adonijah Rice conducted the first tavern in the township at Berkshire Corners, and was also first post master there.  The early industrial enterprises of Berkshire are treated of in the chapter on manufacturing.
     Berkshire Township lays claim to two healthy, vigorous villages in Sunbury and Galena, and two settlements, Berkshire Corners and Rome, the two latter not fulfilling the promises of future greatness made by their founders.  Colonel Byxbe displayed great ability in interesting a good class of citizens in Berkshire Corners, pointing out its desirable location and its prospects of becoming a county seat, possibly a state capital, but with the disposition of his property there, the death knell of the settlement's pretentions was sounded.  It was without its leader, he having diverted his zeal and energy to the development of Delaware, where e had acquired large interests.  Although it was never platted, nor rose to the dignity of a village, it was not without its prestige in the early days.  Major Brown conducted his store there until his death in 1816, then was succeeded by Flavius Fuller whose business ceased to be a paying enterprise and was discontinued when Sunbury began to boom as a business center.  Mr. S. S. Bennett was an extensive stock dealer at this point, and did much to keep it alive as a center of trade for some years.
     Sunbury located in the east central part of the township, on the Cleveland, Akron & Columbus Railroad, was laid out by William and Lawrence Meyers on land formerly owned by a Mr. Alden, the plat bearing the date of Nov. 9, 1816.  It was well chosen as a townsite, bein located on the Columbus and Mt. Vernon Road and contiguous to a large area of country without a trading point at hand.  The first merchant was a Mr. Whitmore, who had established a store a year before the town was started, but after a short time he was succeeded by Benjamin Webb.  A third store was built and conducted by Steven R. Bennett.  In 1816, the first hotel was started by a Mr. Rogers, who continued until 1820, when the stage began running through the town.  Increase in hotel trade brought a competitor, in the person of Lawrence Meyers, who by erecting a suitable building was able to command the patronage, and Mr. Rogers retired from the field.  B. H. Taylor and B. Chase built a fulling-mill, equipped for carding and pressing, which was conducted with success for many years, drawing patronage from many miles distant, as it was without competition in that vicinity.
     The following is a list of the mayors of Sunbury since its incorporation in 1882: I. A. Ports, 1882; R. D. Robinson, 1883; John Roberts, 1886; I. A. Ports, 1887; R. D. Robinson, 1888; C. C. Brooks, 1890; I. A. Ports, 1894; C. C. Brooks, 1896; W. F. Whittier, 1898; C. C. Brooks, 1902; Miles Gregory, 1906, and Samuel Hopkins, 1908.  The names are given in the order of succession, the dates being those when the duties of hte office were assumed.  The present members of the Council are Dr. T. J. Williams, president; O. F. Etling, J. A. Loar, C. L. Boyd, James Furry and J. W. Longwell.  The following gentlemen are members of the Board of Education: D. H. Davis, George Axline, Robert H. Larrimore, James Cockrell, and Clayton W. Barton.  The Board of Health is composed of the following gentlemen: Dr. J. H. Gerhardt, health officer; Dr. H. B. Kistler, secretary; Dr. T. J. Williams, T. F. Blakely, James Cockrell and H. H. Herlocker.
     Other township officials whose terms began in 1907, are: I. S. Sperry, justice of the peace; Leon Hough, and C. W. Barton, trustees; W. E. Loar, clerk; O. A. Kimball, treasurer; J. W. H. Webster, assessor Sunbury Village; E. H. Furniss, assessor Galena Precinct; John P. Hupp, Sunbury Precinct; Ansel Stanforth, Berkshire Precinct; C. E. Budd, constable.
     Among the principal industrial and business enterprises of Sunbury we may mention The Sunbury Co-Operative Creamery, The Farmers' Bank, Burrer's Flouring mill, a saw mill, a poke factory and a factory where hay-balers are made.  Blakely & Williams and C. B. Morris & Co., are general merchants; Wheaton & Cummons and Benoy & Benoy hardware dealers; W. O. Buckingham & Sons, warehouse and dealers in lumber and farm implements; E. E. Root, bakery and fruit dealer, and Henry Fleckner, fruit; John P. Skeels, grocer; R. P. Anderson, druggist; Mr. Strosnider, undertaker; H. S. Cook, harness-shop; The Delaware County News Item, a live newspaper published by W. F. Whittier; hotel conducted by the present mayor, Samuel Hopkins; two livery stables kept by Hopkins Brothers and Frank Alberry, respectively.
     Located between the Big and Little Walnut Creeks, near the point of junction, is the village of Galena, through the northwest corner of which passes the Cleveland, Akron and Columbus Railroad.  It was platted by William Carpenter, Apr. 3, 1816, and recorded on the 23d day of the same month.  The first building erected was the little log house which served as school and church prior to the inception of Galena.  Gilbert Carpenter, Sr., built a saw mill in 1809, the power being furnished by water in a race constructed by him, joining the Walnut Creek.  About 1818 Benjamin Carpenter, Jr., constructed a second race, just south of the first one, and established a grist mill, which in later years was operated by George Vanfleet.  The first store, started in 1810, by a man named Manter, was in a log cabin near the bridge3.  Soon after, Elias Murray established a store on the southwest corner of the square.  The village was known by the name of Zoar until a postoffice was acquired, and was then named Galena, at the suggestion of Nathan Dustin, as there existed another town of Zoar in Ohio.  The growth of the village was steady, but at nom time rapid, as no effort was ever made to create a boom.  The citizens, however, were men of enterprise, and by subscription the sum of $13,000 was raised to get the old Columbus & Mt. Vernon Railroad to pass through the town, in addition to which they donated three acres for depot purposes.
     Rome was the only village of Berkshire Township incorporated, but this honor added little to its development or welfare.  It was incorporated in 1838, by Almon Price, who had laid off his farm into lots, but as there was nothing to stimulate its growth, the act of incorporation was annulled on petition of the lot holders.



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