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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




     Some of the earliest settlements in this county were made in Berlin Township.  At that time, however, its metes and bounds were not those now shown on the map.  From 1806 to 1820, Township 4, Range 18 of the United States Military lands, was divided between the townships of Liberty, Delaware and Berkshire.  In 1806, Sections 1 and 4, together with what was then the rest of Berkshire Township, were set off as a township.  This was the shape of Berlin when the first settlers came here.  The peculiar division of townships when Berkshire was laid off is probably accounted for by the fact that Col. Moses Byxbe owned Section 1 of the fourth township in Range 18.  Berlin Township as now constituted was set up Jan. 8, 1820.  At that time the 1st and 4th sections were taken from Berkshire, the 2nd section from Delaware and the 3rd section was taken from Liberty.  The township as thus formed is bounded on the North by Brown, on the South by Orange, on the East by Berkshire and on the West by Delaware and Liberty Townships.  Asa Scott started the petition for the new township and suggested its present name.  At that time Scott was treasurer of Berkshire Township, which included Berlin, and in going over the figures, discovered that the population was large enough to justify a separate organization, and so he headed the petition to the Commissioners.  Dr. Loofbourrow was made township clerk; Joseph Eaton was made justice of
the peace, and Scott was continued in his position as treasurer at the first election.
     Alum Creek is the principal stream.  It flows in a southerly direction in a winding course through about the middle of the eastern half of the township.  It drains a wider area on the east than it does on the west.  The eastern bank of the stream is marked by many bluffs, and back of the bluffs the land is more or less broken.  In the southeastern part of the township, the land is less broken and rich bottom lands.  East of the creek the soil in the eastern part is the usual mixture of clays, well adapted to grass and corn.  The lower lands west of the creek are rich, but an immense amount of ditching and tiling has been necessary to make them tillable.  This region was originally covered with vast forests, the hard woods common to this section growing on the high lands, with burr oak, elm, basswood, buckeye, etc., with an underbrush of paw-paw and spice bush, in the swampy portions.  Ever since markets have been fairly accessible, stock-raising and stock-feeding have received considerable attention.
     Joseph Constant, of Peekskill, New York, was the first purchaser of land in this township.  He bought Section 4 from the Government, paying $2 per acre and receiving a deed signed by President John Adams.  He was popularly known as Judge Constant, but whether he ever held any judicial position is not known.  It was claimed that he had been

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a Colonel in the army during the Seminole War in Florida, and that it was there that he contracted the disease from which he died.  Some time before he died, he gave fifty acres of land to David Lewis, Sr., on condition that he would settle upon it.  However, George Cowgill, who in November, 1805, located about a mile north of the Delaware and Sunbury Pike, was the first permanent settler.  He was closely followed by David Lewis, Sr., who was accompanied by his daughter.  Hannah, and suns John and David, Jr.  The latter was married, and on September 29, 1806, had a son born, whom he named Joseph Constant Lewis, for Judge Constant.  This was the first white child born in the township.  Their land was on the west side of Alum Creek, on the hill about opposite the cemetery south of Cheshire.  In the spring of 1806, Joseph Eaton, Sr., and John Johnston brought their families from Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and settled on Olive Creek or Big Run about two miles north of Cheshire.  Others who came into the settlement in that year were David Isaac, Philander Hoadley, and Chester Lewis, with their families from Waterbury, Connecticut.  They settled on Section 4.  In 1807, Philo Hoadley, with his wife, three sons, and Lovell and Lucy Calkins, and Asa Scott came from Connecticut.  Lovell Caulkins began at once to clear land whereon to raise sustenance for his father's family, who were to follow him into the wilderness, and while he was thus engaged, his sister began to teach school.  In 1808, Lovell Caulkins returned to Connecticut and made up a company of emigrants, composed of the families of Roswell Caulkins, Samuel Adams, Jonathan Thompson and John Lewis, forty persons in all, and on Sept. 20, 1809, the little company started for the West.  Capt. John Lewis, of this party, was the first permanent settler in the southeast quarter of the township.  After this, there was a slow but steady increase in the population of the township.
     When the early settlers reached this region they found Indians "as thick as blackbirds," as one of the pioneers expressed it.  For the most part, they were treated fairly and kindly by the settlers, and the Indians, as a rule, responded with similar treatment.  They did not dispute the settler's right to hunt and fish, and they were slow to learn that they were not equally entitled to help themselves to the corn and vegetables which they found in the gardens of the settlement.  During the period covered by the years 1811-13, this community
shared the feeling of fear and anxiety that pervaded the entire Northwest.  The feeling of tranquility awakened by Harrison's brilliant victory over Tecumseh was soon dissipated by the opening of the second war with England.  The settlers knew as well as the British how unprotected they were, and how easy it would be for the enemy to stir the Indians to a fever heat and send them against these almost defenseless frontiers like a devastating cyclone leaving death and destruction in their trail.  It is not strange, therefore, that the settlers were constantly on the "qui vive," and it is easy to understand how Drake's stampede, the story of which is still familiar to everyone in the county, could have happened.  This experience taught the pioneers a well-needed lesson, and they immediately began to make the necessary preparations for defense.  Valuables were buried deep in the ground, care being taken to leave no surface indications that would lead to their discovery.  It was decided to build a block house at once.  The site selected was on the road running along the west bank of Alum Creek, on the rise of ground south of the cross-roads near Cheshire.  A two-story structure, forty feet square was erected.  The upper story projected over the lower one about two feet, affording opportunities for defense against close attacks or attempts to fire the structure.  It was built of hewed logs, a foot square, the ends securely joined so as not to leave the smallest crevice between the logs.  There was no opening in the lower story, except the door, which was made of a double thickness of three-inch planks, barred and cross-barred.  The upper story was furnished with rifle embrazures in the side, and convenient holes in the floor of the projection for purposes of defense in a close attack.  When built, the fort was well

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stocked with provisions and ammunition, so as to be ready at a moment's warning, and signals were arranged that the remoter settlements might learn of their danger.
     It was about this time that a party of settlers were out in the woods, some distance from the "improvements," clearing up a spot to build a cabin for some new arrival.  Among the party were Chester and John Lewis, David Lewis, Sr., and Asa Scott, besides some boys who were there to look on or pile brush.  As w as the custom, each man had his gun, with him, leaning against a tree, and David Lewis, Sr., was on duty as scout to note the approach of Indians.  It was arranged that if he saw any he was to return and report "bears" in the woods.  Some time after noon, he was observed coming rapidly toward the party, and as soon as he got within hearing, he said, "There are bear-tracks in the woods, so fresh that the water has not yet settled in them."  The men quietly ceased their work, took up their guns, and prepared to put things in a state of defense.  The boys were sent home, and, not to alarm the settlement, all but Chester and John Lewis slowly sauntered toward the settlement.  Then the state of the case was explained, and those families which were situated near at hand were escorted by the old men into the block-house.  Blankets were hung up to divide off the space for families, guns were carefully examined, and by nightfall, everything at the fort was in readiness for attack.  But the cabins of some of the party of choppers were too far off to make it wise to try to reach the fort in the dark.  Scott's cabin was some distance to the north of the load crossing, and the cabin of Jacob Aye was still further to the north and east of Scott's.  There was a large family of the Aye boys and girls, and they felt reasonably secure, or had not learned of the discovery.  Late that night, after the boys had gone to bed, one of the sisters, delayed by some household cares, heard the dogs making a disturbance, as though the cattle or hogs were prowling about.  Soon she heard some one trying to quiet the dogs, and she at once concluded it was Indians.  She made every preparation against being taken by surprise, hut did not summon the boys, lest in their foolhardiness they might rush out and be killed.  The dogs finally became quiet, and the Indians, going towards the blockhouse, came upon Scott's cabin.  Here the dogs, who had an instinctive hatred of the savages, commenced rushing out into a cornfield near by and then back again against the cabin, growling, and manifesting symptoms of rage and fear.  Old Mr. Scott knew what such conduct on the part of the dogs meant, and, calling up his two boys, prepared for defense.  The windows were only closed by greased paper, and, stationing one with an axe at each of the two windows, he gave them instructions to split the first head that came through.  Putting out the glowing embers oil the hearth, he barricaded the door with what movable furniture he could reach, and took a position with his rifle commanding all points of entrance.  Here the Indians endeavered to pacify the dogs in wain, and finally passed along.  Soon after, the Scott family heard a rifle-shot, followed by a rapid succession of lighter guns, and then came. one. two, three in measured succession—the warning guns from the blockhouse.  Meanwhile at the fort another scene was enacting.  The little band cooped up in their narrow quarters momentarily expected an attack.  After waiting for some time in such suspense, David Lewis, Sr., accompanied by Philo Hoadley, started cautiously out to reconnoiter.  The night was described as admirable for this purpose.  Clouds heavily veiled the moon, so that an object standing out clear could readily be discerned, while one groping in the shadows and along the ground could be discovered only by close scrutiny.  The land sinks from all points at the road crossing, forming there a sort of basin. South of the east and west road, a tree bad been felled parallel with the road, and, falling down hill, had left some space between the butt of the tree and stump. Across this road was Hoadley's cornfield, divided from other land by a brush fence.  Coming down to the crossing, a suspicious noise was heard in the cornfield, and Lewis remarked to Hoadley that there were either hogs, cattle, or Indians in his field.  Listening attentively for a moment, he exclaimed, "There goes another

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ear; Hoadley, it's Indians!"  Lewis, who was an excellent shot, and an intrepid man. told Hoadley to remain at the crossing, and taking shelter behind the trunk and top of the fallen tree, he would gain the rise of ground by the stump, and scan the cornfield situated across the road and on a little lower ground.  Lewis succeeded in reaching the stump, and ensconcing himself among the shadows between the tree and stump, awaited the issue of events.  Soon he saw a dark body jump upon the brush fence and over, and then another, but his practiced eye had seen the second one over the sights of his gun, the report of which was followed by the heavy falling of the body.  Lewis immediately made for the fort as fast as his feet could carry him, with Hoadley just in advance.  There was a discharge of several guns in rapid succession from the cornfield, and Lewis, striking his knee against the stump of some sapling that had been cut off, went sprawling to the ground.  He imagined himself shot, but, regaining his feet, made for the fort.  Within the fort everybody was on the alert, and Roswell Caulkins stood sentinel at the door.  As Lewis and Hoadley came rushing up to gain entrance, Caulkins hesitated to unbar the door.  David Lewis, Jr., who was celebrated as a keen hunter and woodsman, recognized the steps of his father and Philo and cried to the sentinel, "Roswell, unbar the door!  Those are shoes that are coming.  It's father and Philo!"  And, before the sentinel comprehended the force of what young Lewis was saying, the bars had been taken down by others, and the two men, half out of breath, admitted. The feelings of those in the fort can better be described by one who was there, and we add from a manuscript by Mrs. Ripley: "An attack was every moment expected.  The alarm guns were fired.  The horrid work of the scalping-knife and uplifted tomahawk was, in imagination, ready to be executed.  There was neither shrieking nor fainting, but the women stood at their posts in the upper story, prepared for defense."  Happily their expectations were not realized.  The next morning broke on their anxious hearts calm and bright, and. as no traces of Indians could be discovered from the block-house, a party went out to see if the settlers in isolated cabins had been massacred.  They were found, as we have related, frightened but not harmed.  In the cornfield were found moccasin tracks with considerable traces of blood.  The trail led off to the northwest, and indicated that one of their number had been carried.  Who they were or what was the reason for their visit, was the subject of considerable conjecture, but it never reached a satisfactory explanation.
     While the settlers were kept in a chronic state of fear and dread during the war of 1812, they were not without some compensating benefits.  The necessities of the army created a market where there had been none before for farm produce.  Prior to 1812, the settler's chief ambition was to provide a comfortable home and as good a living as was possible with the conditions under which they lived; but during the war production was stimulated, and the income thus secured was devoted to obtaining some of the commoner comforts which had been theirs before they had turned their backs on civilization.  The closing of the war deprived them of their markets, money again became scarce and a period of hard times set in which added greatly to the hardships they otherwise were called upon to bear.  It was not until about 1830 that business began to revive, and a market worth mentioning was found for the products of the
     At the end of the first ten years there were only about forty families in the township.  Half of these had come from Waterbury, Connecticut, and had located on Judge Constant's land in the southeastern part of the township.  Among these people there had been eight marriages.  The first of these, which was also the first in the township was performed by Rev. Joseph Hughes, Elias Adams and Harriet Lewis being the contracting parties.  Ten families had located on Colonel Byxbe's land.  and there were about eight families in the northwest corner of the township.  The first death in the township was that of Elanson Lewis, which occurred in 1807. He was buried in the first cemetery in the township, which was laid out on the site where a block-house

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had once stood.  The next adult who died was Emma Lewis, who passed away in 1811, and besides these two, four children made up the total number of deaths during the first decade.  One of the early cemeteries was located on the road to Berlin station, near the town hall.  The Nettleton Grove Bank Cemetery Association was organized Oct. 10, 1853.  The first officers were Joel Cleveland, president; Lewis Thompson, clerk; and Vinal Stewart, treasurer.  They laid out a fine cemetery just south of Cheshire.  Roswell Caulkins, who was a carpenter and joiner, was the first mechanic in the township, and worked at his trade while he was clearing up his farm.  He superintended the construction of the block-house and did most of the hewing.  One of his first pieces of work was a hand-loom for Mrs. Chloe Scott.  In 1820, James Eaton and Daniel Nettleby erected the first frame residences.  Both were east of the creek and near Cheshire.  Nathan Sherwood kept the first store in his cabin.  The early mills, schools, churches, etc., are treated in the chapters devoted to those subjects.
     Cheshire, the principal settlement in the township, is located on a barren clay knoll.  Because of this fact, Jesse Hultz gave it the name of "Peth," "for," as he explained, "what don't run away will starve to death."  Samuel Adams owned the farm where the village stands, and it was he who laid it off into lots.  L. R. Ryant kept the first store here in a little room seven feet by nine.  A few years later he added another room, where he sold ready made shoes and made shoes to order.  He was the first postmaster, his commission bearing
date of Aug. 10, 1851.  The "Underground Railway" passed through Cheshire.  From the earliest times there was a strong sentiment in the township in symapthy with the slaveowners, and it was only under cover of the night that the negro seeking liberty could be conducted from Orange along Alum Creek to the Quaker settlement, and then on to Oberlin or some other outlet.
     Berlin township officials were: Clayton A. Breece, justice of the peace; O. B. Furniss and W. H. Hults, trustees; Harry Jaynes, clerk; E. R. Durfey, treasurer; S. P. Dunham, assessor; Charles Evarts and Willard Shank, constables; Willard A. Young and J. T. Sweeney, board of education.  The above began their terms in 1908, according to report to county auditor.



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