A Part of Genealogy Express
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




     Scarcely any record exists of the early settlers of this township, and even after availing ourselves of the labors of those who have preceded us in the field of historical research, there is a paucity of material which is deplorable.  The early settlers who came out here to make for themselves homes in the wilderness were too busy doing with their might what their hands found to do - and there was plenty to be done - to realize that a record of themselves and what they accomplished would be of interest to those yet unborn; to them, sufficient unto the day was the evil thereof.  This township was bounded on the north by Berlin Township; on the south by Franklin County; on the east by Genoa and on the west by Liberty Township.  Originally it was known as Township 3, Range 18 of the United States Military Lands, and when the first settlers came here, the found Sections 2 and 3 to be a part of Liberty Township and Sections 1 and 4 were a part of Birkshire Township.  On September 3, 1816, the county commissioners granted a petition to set off the original survey of Township 3, Range 18, as a separate township.  The prime mover in this matter was Alpha Frisbey.  The township was to be called by the classic name of Virgil, but this was to much for the simple-minded folk of those days, and a petition was presented to the commissioners to change the name to Orange.  This was granted on September 9th, just six days later.  A glance at the map will show that what would naturally be the southwestern corner of the township, on the west side of the Olentangy River, is really in Liberty Township.  As a matter of face, this was originally a part of Orange, and its annexation to Liberty Township was brought about in the following manner:  Ebenezer Goodrich, who lived on this corner, was elected justice of the peace by the people of Liberty Township, about 1824.  It did not occur to him, nor to anyone else, that he was not the citizen of Liberty, and therefore, not eligible to the office.  This fact finally was brought to light, and it became apparent to all the official business transacted up to that time was, consequently, void.  How to remedy this state of affairs was a perplexing problem, until it was suggested that the General Assembly be petitioned to make this tract of land a part of Liberty Township; so in 1826, the Olentangy River was made the boundary of  the township across that corner.
     The ridge along which run the tracks of the "Big Four" and Pennsylvania Railroads forms the water-shed between the Olentangy River and Alum Creek.  The river bottoms are rich, and the ridges, which rise immediately back of these bottoms were originally covered with beech trees, indicating a clayey formation.  The same is to a large extent true of the southern central part of the township.  Extensive elm swamps were originally found in the northern portions of the township, but these have been redeemed by clearing and tilling, the rich black soil producing fine crops.
     In 1807,  Joab Norton, for whom the town of Norton, in Marlborough Township was named, was the first settler in Orange Township,  He built his cabin in Section 2, then a part of Liberty Township.  He was influenced in coming here by his wife, who wanted to be near her father, John Goodrich, who purposed coming to Worthington, Franklin County, where many of his former neighbors of Berlin, Connecticut, had already settled.  They reached Worthington in November, having been on the road since September.  Norton was a tanner and currier by trade, and, not content to be idle, he sunk vats and prepared to engage in the business, which the promises and prospects held out to him before he left the East led him to believe was waiting only to be claimed.  Skins and hides were not to be had and so he started north, and purchased the 150 acres of land where he settled in this township.  After he had provided a home for his family, Mr. Norton sunk vats, so as to be prepared to do a little tanning during the intervals in his work of clearing the land.  He could not content himself with the frontier life, and so, in 1808, he took a trip East on horseback.  Upon his return in the fall, he was attracted by the prospects of business in the new town of Delaware, which Colonel Byxbe was developing, and so he purchased a house on the hill-side just north of where the Edward's gymnasium of Ohio Wesleyan University now stands.  The details of his experience in this venture are covered in the chapter devoted to the manufacturing industries of the county.
     Joab Norton and others made application as early as 1809 for permission to form a rifle company.  This was granted on June 24th of that year, and Norton became third sergeant of the company which was composed of about forty officers and privates, mostly from Liberty township.  Apparently, Norton had a taste and talent for military affairs, and was popular with the members of the company, as well, for his promotions were rapid.  We find that on September 12th of the same year he was commissioned sergeant major, and tow years later, on September 6th, he became lieutenant.  It was not long before he was made captain of the company.
     The company was called out in June 1812, by Gov. Meigs, to defend the frontier settlements against any hostile incursions.  Capt. Norton afterward proceeded with his command to Sandusky, where he was engaged in building a block-house, of which he expected to be given command.  He was here when Hull surrendered in Detroit.  For some reason the Captain was not placed in command of the block-house, and he returned home with his company.  While at Sandusky, the germs of the malarial disease, which finally caused his untimely disease, which finally caused his untimely death on July 17, 1813, were undoubtedly implanted in his system.  He was a man of large executive ability, a devout Christian, and of cheerful disposition.  He was buried with Masonic honors in the first cemetery laid out in the City of Delaware.  He had been commissioned a justice of the peace on January 28, 1812.  Besides a widow, he left four children- Desdemona, who afterwards became Mrs. Colflesh; Edward; Matilda, who married C. P. Elsbre, and  Minerva, who moved to Wisconsin.
     In 1808 Eliphalet Ludington came from Connecticut, and purchased land adjoining Norton's.  Others who came that year were William and Joseph Higgins, with their families, and their mother, who brought the younger members of her family, viz.:  Josiah, Elisha, Irving, David and two daughters.  The older boys had enjoyed unusual educational advantages for their day.  Joseph had exceptional skill as a penman, and he was so clever in imitating the hand-writing of other people, that he was suspected of having signed the counterfeit bills which were issued for the South.  Apparently, there was no just ground for the suspicion, and the family continued to retain the respect of the community.  Later, however, the family left the community under a cloud.  Before the family left Vermont, the father of the boys ran off to Canada with a younger, if not a handsomer, woman than his wife.  He came to Orange about 1812, with the intention of "making up."  However, he brought his paramour with him as far as Berkshire, so that in case his overtures were not favorably received, he would not be left alone.  He knew his wife's weak points, and sent a messenger with his pocket-book to his wife, with the simple instruction, to "hand it to the old woman."  The result was a reconciliation which brought disaster to the family.  Changes in the habits and actions of the family soon aroused the suspicion of the community, and finally, the father and the three younger sons, Josiah, Elisha and Irving, were arrested for counterfeiting.  A large amount of counterfeit coin, some paper money, together with dies and metal were captured.  The boys escaped by means of some technicality, and later, the old man, too, escaped much merited punishment.  The family left the township at once, and have never since been heard of.
     In 1810, the wife of Eliphalet Ludington died, leaving an infant boy a few weeks' old.  This was the first birth and death in the settlement.  Soon after Mr. Ludington took the baby and returned to Connecticut.  The families of Nahum King and Louis Eaton came into the township that year.  The next year James McCumber with his third wife and two sons by his former marriages came into the township.  Collins P. Elsbre, who was then a boy of eleven years of age, accompanied his mother and step-father.  Their fist actual residence was in the cabin which had been abandoned by Mr. Ludington.  They purchased 150 acres of land adjoining Norton from James Kilbourn and immediately began to make a clearing.  A log cabin 12 by 18 feet was erected and occupied in the fall.   In 1825, young Elsbre married Matilda, the third child of Captain Norton.  Elsbre lived until February 16, 1880, when he was gored to death by a bull.  Other early settlers who came into the township prior to the War of 1812, were the Arnolds, Stewarts and Asa and John Gardner.  With the exception of the Gardners, these people remained in the township but a short time.  Soon after the war, Lee Hurlburt settled on the west bank of Alum Creek.  Hurlburt went to the War of 1812 as a substitute for his father, who came into the township with him, bringing his family of twenty-three children.  The first settler on Alum Creek was probably Samuel Ferson, who came from Pennsylvania and settled here about 1819.  His brothers, James, Paul and John, his sister Sallie, and Margaret Patterson, whom John afterwards married, came with him.  In 1824, David Patterson, Cyrus Chambers, Thomas McCloud, and Nelson Skeels settled on the west bank of the creek.  The following year Samuel Patterson, with his father and mother and two sisters, located on the east side of the creek.
     At different times, there has been considerable competition between the different villages in the township, each seeking to become the leading village, in which would be centered the chief interests of the township.  These were Williamsville, on the Columbus and Sandusky Pike, being located at the four corners just west of the present village of Orange; the latter place was the second aspirant for distinction, and Lewis Center, which is today the recognized metropolis of the township.  Africa is a settlement that has not been without influence upon the community.  It was given this name by Leo Hurlburt, who was strongly in favor of slavery, though he took no action to oppose the operations of his neighbors, the Pattersons, who were prominently active in the service of the "Underground Railway."  Much quiet assistance was given to fugitive slaves, but no pursuers ever came to this part of the township.  In 1854, about thirty negroes, having been freed by the will of their deceased mistress, were sent from North Carolina to the Patterson neighborhood to find homes.  Upon their arrival, the friends of the anti-slavery movement provided them with homes.  The negroes remained in this neighborhood, some of them for many years, though the negro settlement has in the course of time disappeared.  One of the Elsbre family in the west part of the township had an interesting experience in connection with a hunt for some runaway slaves.  About Christmas time in the year 1834, a negro boy calling himself John Quincy Adams, came to his cabin, and remained until the following summer.  One day while he was working on the pike, he was recognized by two negroes who had run away from the same neighborhood he came from.  Realizing that they would be pursued, and fearing that he too would be recaptured, he fled that night and was never heard from again.  The pursuers were put on the trail of the boys by a neighbor, Mark Coles, who had previously known their master, and one bright September night, as Mr. Elsbre sat with his little family enjoying a social chat with a neighbor, the door of his cabin was rudely opened, and a burly six-footer strode in, carrying a club big enough to use in killing an ox.  Without saying a word, he proceeded to examine the trundle-bed in which the younger children lay, and, with a glance toward the bed where Mrs. Elsbre lay with a two-weeks-old baby, he started up the ladder toward the loft.  This was too much for Mr. Elsbre's equanimity.  He had repeatedly asked the meaning of the demonstration, but got no answer, and, seizing his gun from its place he ordered the intruder to come down, or he would 'put him on the coon-board in a minute.'  The rifle was unloaded, but the trespasser saw the frightful hole in the end, and deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, he came down.  Still threatening with his gun, Mr. Elsbre drove the ruffian out of the cabin and the enclosure where his companions were waiting.  Of course the negro boys who were sleeping upstairs were awakened, and made their escape through a back window.  When Mr. Elsbre was satisfied that the boys had gone, he satisfied the pursuers that the slaves they were seeking were not there, and he was not disturbed again.
  In 1835, Anson Williams brought 1,000 acres of land in Section No. 3.  At first he settled in the southeastern part of the tract, but the following year he moved to the site of Williamsville, and in December, 1836, he laid out what he expected would soon develop into a thriving village.  There were already two settlers here besides Mr. Williams - William Dutcher, and Mr. William's son-in-law, Isaac BoveeWilliams built a large frame house to be used as a hotel, in one part of which he opened a place of business, for the sale of general merchandise and liquor.  That Mr. Williams' plans were visionary is plain, from the fact that there was already a good hotel farther north, where the stage changed horses, and which continued to do the bulk of the tavern business.  This was a brick structure that had been erected in 1827 by George Gooding.  It is said that a Mr. Saulsbury, who lived nearby, and who was a carpenter by trade, having an eye to business, to say the least, did nothing to discourage Mr. Williams in his ambition.  Mr. Saulsbury served as justice of the peace, and established the first manufactory in the township.  He formed a partnership with Squire Truman Case, and secured permission from the State Penitentiary authorities, who had a monopoly of the business, to manufacture grain cradles.  They made a snath with an artificial bend, which at that time was quite a novelty, and it is said their product was of a high grade.
     Lewis Center dates its birth from the completion of the railroad through that point in 1850.  John Johnson, who built his cabin here in 1823, was the first settler at this point.  The spot is marked by a well he sank.  At that time the locality was a swamp.  The name was given to the place by William L. LewisMcCoy Sellers kept the first store, which stood near the railroad track when it was put through.  The building of the C., D. & M. Railway placed the people of this township within easy reach of Delaware or Columbus, but considerable business is still transacted here.  The leading business men of Lewis Center at the present day are:  Bert Slack, blacksmith; C. A. DeWitt and A. C. Barrows, general store proprietors; John O. Gooding, grain and implements; E. R. Case, hardware and groceries; Frank Slack, glove manufacturer; P. W. Willey, physician.
     Orange station probably would never have any any existence, had not Mr. Lewis for a time objected to the location of the railroad station, so that the company abandoned the site.  Mr. Lewis was afterward influenced by friends to withdraw his objection, but in the meantime, the senior George Gooding had offered the company the use of ten acres of land so long as they would keep a station on the tract.  The company accepted the proposition and kept a station there as well as at Lewis Center, until 1879.  For a time a post office was maintained here.
     The question of locating the Town-house caused a good deal of discussion, there being many conflicting interests.  Some wanted to have it located at the center of the township; the citizens of Lewis Center wanted it built in their village.  Finally, it was built of brick, in its present location at the center of the township, in the year 1871, at a cost of $825.
     The Orange township officials for 1908, as reported to the county auditor, are:  Andrew Bagley and J. S. Gooding, justices of the peace; C. C. Ballenger, C. D. Lehman and F. E. Smith, trustees; Frank B. Ferson, clerk; E. L. Grove, treasurer; W. B. Crumb, assessor.



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