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



Pg. 487

     The name of this township was originally Sunbury.  The present township is but a small portion of the original township of Sunbury, which was the third township to be created after the organization of Delaware County.  It dates back to June 16, 1808. and was originally bounded as follows: Beginning at the northeast corner of Section 2, Township 5 and Range 17, of the United States Military Survey, thence south with said line to the south line of the county, thence east with said county line to the east line of said county, thence north with said county line to the Indian boundary line, thence west by said bundary line, to the east line of Marlborough Township, thence south with said line to the southeast corner of said township, thence west to the place of beginning.  This immense township included the present townships of Harlem, Trenton.  Porter, and half of Berkshire and Genoa in Delaware County, and the following townships in Morrow County: Peru, Bennington, Lincoln and Harmony.  On Sept. 11, 1810, Harlem was set off from Sunbury, and Kingston followed on June 8, 1813.  Three years later Genoa was set off from Harlem, and one half of the new township was taken from the original Sunbury.  One slice after another was cut off this territory until the
present dimensions of Trenton Township were reached, its present name having been given to it sometime in the early '30's.  We quote the following account of the way in which the change of name was brought about: "Messrs. Van Dorn, Leak and Condit, all early settlers and prominent men of the township, were sitting on a log one day talking over general business matters.  Finally, the conversation turned upon the question of the

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village of Sunbury being in Berkshire Township, while their own township bore the name of Sunbury.  It was suggested that the name of the latter be changed in order to avoid confusion, a suggestion that was unanimously agreed to.  Mr. Leak proposed the name of Chester—his native town; Mr. Condit wanted it called Orange, but there was an Orange Township in the county already; so Mr. Van Dorn suggested Trenton, for the capitol of his native State—New Jersey.  The name was agreed to among themselves and sent to the county commissioners, by whom it was adopted.  Thus Sunbury Township became a thing of the past, while its place was filled on the map of Delaware County by Trenton."  This township is now bounded on the north by Porter Township; on the east by Licking County; on the south by Harlem and on the west by Berkshire.  It is five miles square and contains 16,000 acres of land.  The surface of this township, while it is not wholly level, can scarcely be called hilly or broken.  Along the water-courses it is a little rough and uneven, while back from the streams it is somewhat rolling, until striking the table-land, when it becomes rather level.  Van's Valley, as it is called, is somewhat low, as well as the west central part, while the western and northern portions rise to quite an elevation, and incline to an almost rolling surface.  The township is well drained by natural streams.  Big Walnut Creek, which is the principal stream, enters the township near the northwest corner, and runs a little west of south to the township line, where it passes out southeast of Sunbury.  Rattlesnake Run is the next largest stream.  The large number of rattlesnakes that were found in the cliffs and rocks bordering this stream led the early settlers to give it its name.  The North Fork enters the township near the center of the east line, and unites with the South Fork in the south central part of the township, thence it flows in a westerly direction and empties into the Big Walnut near the center of the west line of the township.  Other streams of minor importance are Culver's Run and Perfect's Creek, named for early settlers in the township.  These streams empty into the Big Walnut.  Dry Run empties into Perfect's Creek and Mink Run flows into Rattlesnake near its mouth.  There are many quarries of fine building stone in this township, some of which were opened at an early day.  The township was well timbered with the various hardwoods indigenous to this region.
     William Perfect and Mordecai Thomas were the first settlers in Trenton Township of whom we have any record.  They with their families came here in the spring of 1807 from Kentucky.  Each purchased a hundred acres of military land from Pearson Spinning, who had a tract of 1,000 acres.  At this late date comparatively little that is new can be learned concerning the earliest pioneers of the county, and we have to depend largely upon the researches of earlier historians; for this reason, we will make use of some of the material contributed by Middleton Perfect to the County Atlas published in 1875.  Perfect and Thomas settled near the mouth of the creek that later was named for Mr. Perfect.  His death in 1812 was the first in the township.  In 1810 another Kentuckian, Bartholomew Anderson, settled on a tract of land east of Perfect's.  "Trenton is justly proud of its pioneers.  New Jersey furnished skilled tavern-keepers; the northern part of the township was settled by industrious people from the little Blue State.  A colony from Ithaca, New York, settled in the south part, and another from Pennsylvania in the west part.  One of the early settlers kept two 'asheries,' and supplied Delaware with salt and window-glass for twelve years."  The two latter articles of merchandise were wagoned from Zanesville.  Michael Ely and John Culver settled north of what is now Culver's Creek in 1809, and soon after them a single man named John Williamson came into the settlement and purchased land from Ely, whose daughter Rosanna he married in 1810.  It is claimed that their son, Madison Williamson, was the first white child born in the township.  A man named Pressing, John Ginn and William Ridgway came to the township in 1811 from the State of Delaware. Other early settlers were James and Owen Hough from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

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When Gilbert Van Dorn came here from New Jersey in 1817 , there were only two families living on the road between the Licking County line and the village of Sunbury.  He purchased 1,000 acres of land in a beautiful valley, which has ever since been known as "Van's Valley."  It is claimed that the tavern which he opened here the next year was the first in the township.  He had a gilt sun painted on his sign and underneath it the words, "Center Inn."  At first this pioneer tavern was a rude log structure, but as travel increased and his reputation as a Boniface grew, a second cabin was added to the first, and then another and another, until he had lour log cabins connected together for the accommodation of the traveling public.  At the end of eleven years he put up a brick "hotel," in front of which he hung the same old sign that had cheered the weary traveled with the prospect of entertainment for so many years.  This structure, built in 1829, was the first brick building erected in the township.  It would appear that Van Dorn was a man of some business ability, for we find that he also kept a kind of grocery store at his tavern, and continued it until 1854.  John Leak, who also came from New Jersey, bought land from Van Dorn and settled east of the Inn.  In 1820 Silas Ogden settled on what was known as the State Road and opened the first tannery in the township.
     In 1823 Oliver Gratrax settled in the township.  Mr. Perfect said, "He wore leather breeches full of stitches, a fawnskin vest ana a coonskin cap." A bout 1832 or 1833 Jonathan, Alvin P. and Smith Condit came from New Jersey.  Jonathan settled on Big Walnut Creek.  Alvin settled near him and Smith died about a month after his arrival.  Lyman Hendricks came from Rutland, Vermont, and settled in Berkshire in 1812, but later moved into Trenton.  His brother William was a soldier in the War of 1812.  The first permanent settler on Rattlesnake Run was a man named Roberts.
     Settlers came into this part of the county rapidly after the War of 1812.  The building of the railroad through the township did much to help on its prosperity, making the shipment of timber, stone and livestock an easy matter.  As we have already said, Van Dorn kept a kind of store at his tavern, but the first merchant of importance, so far as we can learn, was George Akerson, who established himself in business a little north of Condit.  The story of the early mills, schools, and churches will be found in the chapters devoted especially to those subjects.
     Township Officials ( 1908)—E. W. Debolt, justice of the peace; S. R. Walke and John T. Geddes, trustees; E. G. Condit, clerk; J. W. Condit, treasurer: E. M. Linnabary, assessor; E. B. Forwood and Frank Spangler, constables.



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