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Pickaway County, Ohio
History & Genealogy


History of Pickaway County
Source:  History of Franklin & Pickaway Counties, Ohio
Illustrations and Biographical Sketches
Published by Williams Bros. 1880



       * INDIANS
       * MILLS
       * FIRST ROAD

     Darby township is situated in the northwest corner of the county, and is bounded on the north by Franklin county, on the east by Scioto township, on the southeast by Muhlenberg, on the south by Monroe, and on the west by Madison county.  Its surface is remarkably level, except along the water-courses, where it is somewhat rolling.  The soil is fertile, consisting largely of corn land, and that cereal is largely produced.  For the last two or three years, however, wheat has been more extensively grown than formerly, the crop being found to do well on land on which corn ahs been heretofore almost exclusively grown.
     The principal original varieties of timber were the oak, in several varieties, the white oak on the higher soil, and burr, jack and post oak (sometimes called pin oak), on the black land.  There was also considerable red and white elm, hickory, hand hard maple.  There was formerly a considerable portion of land in this township called "barrens," which, in its natural state, was more adapted to grazing than to tillage. 
     Much of the land lying back from Darby creek is flat, and before it was drained was too wet for cultivation.  The southwest part of the township, during most of the year, was covered with water, and contained a thick undergrowth of timber, which gave it the name, together with the portion of Monroe township adjoining, of "the brush country."  But when the land was once reclaimed and cultivated, it was found to be the most fertile and productive of the township.  On the farm of F. C. BOSTWICK, is a field, now in corn, which has produced a crop of that cereal every year since 1805, and the growing crop, which is hardly second to any field of corn in the county, is sufficient evidence that the soil ahs lost but little of its fertility.
     But, notwithstanding the fertility of its soil, and the striking contrast which its present condition presents to its appearance when the pioneers first invaded its forests, the township is yet far from being in a high condition of improvement.  The cause is chiefly found in the fact that most of its lands are held in large tracts, and are occupied and cultivated largely by tenants, whose rude log houses, or cabins, with their "stick" chimney, look more out of place, because they stand in the midst of such fertile fields.  When, as will eventually be the case, the land shall be divided up into farms of moderate size, say, of two hundred acres each, and occupied by their owners with neat and attractive dwellings, the appearance of the township will be vastly different from that which it now presents.  The plan of smaller farms better cultivation and improvements, has already been adopted to some extent, and it is easy to predict that a few years more will bring about a great improvement in this respect.  What we have said of Darby, may, in the greater or less degree, be said of all the townships west of the river.


     Indians of the Wyandot tribe, from the region of Upper Sandusky, remained in the township for several years after the first white settlers came.  They had a camp on Darby creek, on the farm now owned by David DAVIS.  The place is still known as "Indian Thicket.," the ground being at that time thickly covered with black-haw.  They buried many of their dead there, and a number of skeletons, with guns and other implements, have been plowed up.  Three Indians, whose names were Wysock, Canoe and Woyathe, remained in the vicinity for some time after the others had left.  They brought  in the skins and meat of wild animals, which they exchanged with the settlers for shoes, stockings, and other articles of wearing apparel.


     Game was quite abundant in the township, in its first settlement.  Deer were very plenty, and some of the early settlers killed large numbers of them.  Venison, and the meat of the wild turkey, were common articles of food with the pioneers.  Wolves, wild-cats, opossums, and other smaller game were also numerous.  Wild hogs were frequently met with, and were more dreaded, perhaps, than any other of the wild beasts.  The genuine wild boar, exasperated by the hunters, was the most terrible creature of the forest, and the hunt was exciting and dangerous.  His attack was too sudden and headlong to be turned aside or avoided, and the snap of his tusks as he sharpened them, in his fury, was something terrible.  Jacob BURGET, and Cornelius and William POULSON, while out hunting wild hogs, on one occasion, surrounded an old boar, with immense tusks.  The hunters were on horseback, and the hog, in his fury, made an attack on thehorse of Cornelius POULSON, cutting his ham-strings.  The horse was ruined, and had to be shot, but the men, after a desperate fight, succeeded in killing the beast.  His tusks are said to have measured over a foot in length.  The wild hogs were not valued for their flesh, but were regarded simply as dangerous pests, and were hunted, mainly to rid the country of them.  Jacob BURGET, above mentioned, was a great hunter.  It is said he wore an Indian suit of deer-skin, and that it was impossible to distinguish him from an Indian, a few rods away.  He killed a great many deer, wolves, wild hogs, and, also, several bears, and made hunting a sort of business.


     The first settlements were made on Darby Creek and Opossum run, and commenced soon after the year 1800.  POULSON - Andrew, Cornelius, John, Elijah and William.  They came from Virginia on pack-horses, in 1800, and located near Chillicothe, on what is known as "big bottom."  Tow years afterward they came to Darby and settled on Darby creek, within a short distance of each other.  They were all unmarried when they arrived, and, at length, found their wives here.  Andrew finally removed to Upper Sandusky.  He was a Methodist preacher, and labored as a missionary among the Indians in that region for some time.  William POULSON was twice married - first to Betsey ENGLAND, and, second, to Nancy TANNER, who survives him and occupies the old homestead.  Five of the eleven children of William POULSON, now living, reside in Darby, viz: Sarah, Andrew, Thomas R., David, Elias, and Phebe.  Andrew POULSON is the oldest native resident of the township; he was born in 1816.  He has been justice of the peace for twenty-seven years, and eight terms in succession.  In 1859 he was elected sheriff of the county, serving two years. 
     One of the first settlers on the Opossum run was Peter LONG, who came from Rockingham county, Virginia, in 1804 or 1805.  He bought, and settled on, the farm now owned by Isaac MANTLES, where he resided until his death, June 1, 1852, aged eighty-one years.  He died in the woods, and was devoured by wild beasts.  Only a fragment of his clothes was afterward discovered.  His grandsons - Peter, Jacob, John - and granddaughter - Mary (Mrs. OGLESBEE) - reside in Madison county.
     Courtney TANNER removed in from Kentucky, about the year 1804 or 1805, and settled where Stephen SELF now lives, on the farm of Abraham ALKIRE.  His wife, Mary Ann (ALKIRE), died soon after their settlement, and he subsequently returned to Kentucky, and married Hannah FRANCIS, who survived him.  His children were seven in number (two being by his first wife), as follows:  Harvey, Betsey (Mrs. WOOD), Rebecca (Mrs. William HEATH), John, Harriet (Mrs. Robert MANLEY)Eliza (Mrs. Wesley McCOLLISTER), and Edward.  John TANNER married Margaret ALKIRE, and after a residence in Pickaway county about eighteen months, settled in Madison county, where Mrs. TANNER still lives.  He died here, March 4, 1868.  Mrs. TANNER is now in her sixty-seventh year, and has three children - Courtney, Abaham and Margaret (Mrs. William TAYLOR).
     Isaac ALKIRE
, born in Kentucky in 1789, came to Ohio with his father, William ALKIRE, in 1804.  William ALKIRE bought a considerable tract of land in Madison county, and settled there, Isaac and John, his sons, settled in Darby.  Isaac, in 1811, married Mary GRAHAM, and located where his daughter, Mrs. BOSTWICK, now lives.  He died May 16, 1877, and his wife, November 14, 1876, aged nearly seventy.  They had four sons and four daughters, all now living.  Forbes and Jackson live in Indiana; William, George and Mrs. Lewis GREEN, in Madison county; Mrs. Aristeus HULSE, in Jackson township; Mrs. F. C. BOSTWICK, in Darbey, and Mrs. V. H. MOORE, in Circleville.  John ALKIRE married Susan MANTLES, and settled on the farm now owned by Abraham ALKIRE, where Courtney TANNER formerly lived.  He afterwards located on Opossum run, in Madison county, and continued to reside there until his death.
     Isaac McHENRY settled in the northwest corner of the township, on Opossum run, about the year 1807, coming from the State of Kentucky.  He was a Baptist preacher, and preached throughout the neighborhood, He eventually lost his land, his claim proving invalid, and he removed to Allen County, Ohio.
     Obediah P. THOMAS, about the same time, settled on the WILSON farm, now occupied by Scott ROBINSON, and resided there until his death.
     A few years subsequently John MANTLES, sr., from Virginia,  settled where his grandson, Duncan MANTLES, now lives.  He was a man of great size, weighing, at his death, November 5, 1831, four hundred and eighty pounds.  He was born in the year 1765.  His wife died October 11, 1846.  Their youngest son, David, married Matilda NOLAND, and resided on the old homestead until his death.  His children - Duncan, Isaac, and John - reside in Darby, and Miranda (wife of W. T. FITZGERALD) in Madison county.  Isaac WOODS, a son-in-law of John MANTLES, was a member of a company, from this neighborhood, which was sent out against the Indians, in the war of 1812.  While returning hoe, at the expiration of his term of service, and in sight of his house, he shot himself accidentally, in the act of getting over a fence.
     In 1812 John GILLILAND came from Jackson county, Ohio, and settled on Opossum run, and his brother Andrew about the same time.  John finally removed to Illinois, but Andrew resided in the township until his death, in 1832.  His son Samuel now occupies the old place.
     Thomas NOLAND joined the settlement on this stream in the year 1815, moving in from Maryland.
     Richard HEATH was an early settler on the place now owned by John MANTLES.  He resided there for six or seven years, taking a lease of John MANTLES, Sr..  He married a sister of Thomas TIPTON, and, afterward, settled on Darby creek.  He eventually moved to Missouri, where he died.
     John BOWMAN was an early settler on the MORGAN farm, east of Darby creek.
     James MORSE settled at an early date, where Joseph CROSSLEY now lives; and Jonas DEYO on the place now occupied by George REED.  MORSE was a mechanic; he had a blacksmith shop, but was principally engaged in the manufacture of plows.  HE came from New England.
     Benjamin DAVIS emigrated from Maryland, in 1802 or 8103.  He first located near Williamsport, Deer Creek township, on the George WOOD farm.  He afterwards moved to Monroe township, and later, to Darby.  He finally removed to Indiana, where he died in March, 1873.  His wife died in Monroe township, Pickaway county.  He had a family of ten children, of whom one son and two daughters are living - John Davis, in Darby, and Mrs. CUTLER and Mrs. CANAHAN, in Indiana.
     Charles BELL came from Virginia, in 1824, and settled in Darby creek, now Muhlenberg township, where he lived until his death, in 1846.  His son, John W. BELL, married, in 1836, Susan Ann HENDERSON, whose father, Charles HENDERSON, was an early settler in the vicinity of Chillicothe.  Mr. BELL located in this township, in 1836, near where his widow now lives.  He died May 3, 1862.  Mrs. BELL has nine children.  A daughter is the wife of J. W. SHEETS, the present township clerk.
     Elisha CORY, an old settler, opened up the farm opposite the residence of Thomas D. RIDGWAY, and lived there until his death.
     Sampson B. SMITH, of Maryland, with his wife, Margaret HILL, came to Darby in 1824, and settled on the farm now owned by Cyrus COMSTOCK, where he continued to reside until his death, in October, 1876.  His wife died in March previous.  Six of the nine children born to them are now living, and in this township, to wit:  Mrs. W. J. SHOCKLEY, William, George W., Mrs. Lewis BALLAH, Mrs. Richard DICK, and Samuel.
In 1826, Joseph DALBY, with his wife, and  four children, arrived from Frederick county, near Winchester, Virginia, and settled where his daughter, Mrs. David HURST now lives, and died there September, 1876.  He was twice married, and was the father of twelve children, who lived to adult age, and were married.  Ten are now living, three of whom reside in this township, as follows:  Mary Jane (widow of Thomas JACKSON); Hannah (wife of Theodore GANTZ); and Mrs. HURST, above mentioned.  A son, Scribner V. DALBY, lives in Harrisburg, Franklin count; and Israel, near London, Madison county.  The other children, except Dr. I. N. DALBY, who lives in Cleveland, reside in the west.
     Seth MORTON came to Ohio from New England in 1832, and located first in Circleville, where he engaged in the manufacture of cigars.  A years or two afterwards he moved to Monroe township, settling at "Five Points," where he resided three years, when he moved to the place now occupied by his widow, on the Circleville pike, in the same township.  He died there in April, 1870.  He was married twice, and had eleven children.  His son, Sidney, who married Mary J. Neff, resides in this township.
     Samuel RIDGEWAY and family came from Bourbon county, Kentucky, in the year 1812, and settled near Chillicothe, where he died, February, 1837.  Thomas D., his son, now living in Darby, aged seventy years, married Eliza MATTSON in October, 1833, who died in the fall of 1842.  In 1845 he removed to this township, and two yeas afterward married Rebecca SMITH, who died March 4, 1878.  Mr. RIDGEWAY has served as trustee of this township for seventeen years.
     Robert McDOWELL came to Ohio from Bucks county, Pennsylvania, in the year 1837.  He worked at blacksmithing for about eighteen months at Harrisburg, Franklin county, and afterwards established a tannery at Palestine, which, in connection with Stacey WALDO, he carried on for several years.  He then purchased fifty-three acres of the farm he now owns and on which he has since resided.  He married, March 7, 1844, Catherine H. NEFF.  They have two children living and one deceased.
     John W. KENNEDY came from Mifflin county, Pennsylvania, in June, 1839.  He had learned the carpenter's trade in Pennsylvania, and worked, on his trip to Ohio, at different points - first at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, then at Wooster, Ohio, and other places.  He finally reached Palestine, in this township, in company with Frederick L. SMITH, where they both decided to remain.  In November, 1840, Mr. KENNEDY married Mrs. Mary E. TAYLOR, since which time he has resided in his present location.  He has three sons, namely, Henry S., living in Madison County; William J., a physician, residing at East Ringgold; and Samuel W., at home.
     Frederick L. SMITH, married, December 25, 1839, Sarah SMITH, and resided in Palestine several years, when he moved to Madison county.  Subsequently he removed to Harrison Mills, Fayette county, where he died.
     Benjamin F. RENICK has been a resident of Darby since 1841.  On the fifteenth of November, of that year, he married Sarah WILLIAMS, by whom he had two children: his wife died March 1, 1854, and December 8, 1856, he was united in marriage to Mary TAYLOR.  The result of this union is eight children, four girls and four boys, all of whom are living.  A sketch of Mr. RENICK's ancestry is given in Jackson township.


     The first religious meetings in Darby were held by Thomas REYNOLDS, a Methodist exhorter, who came from Virginia about the same time that the Poulson Brothers came.  He lived to be eighty years old, and was a zealous and earnest christian.  Robert Finley, a traveling Methodist preacher, was the first regular clergyman in this section.  He had a son, James, who was a missionary among the Indians at Upper Sandusky.  Andrew Poulson says he remembers well the first camp-meeting in the township, held by the Methodists, on Darby creek, in which James Finley and three or four of his Indian converts took an active part.  One of these Indians was the well-known Between-the-Logs, who preached, on this occasion, in his native language, his sermon being interpreted by a negro who traveled with him for that purpose.  Jacob Young, a Methodist, and Isaac McHenry, a Baptist, were among the pioneer preachers of Darby.
     The first church in the township was the log house now used as a dwelling by a tenant of widow Bell.  It was erected by the Methodists in 1844, and was called the Free Will church, any denomination that chose to do so, being allowed to worship in it.  The Methodist society was formed long prior to the erection of a meeting-house, and held their meetings in a barn which then stood on the farm now owned by Mrs. Bell, and, also, at teh house of father Reynolds, and that of John Bowman.  The Reynolds, Bowmans, Poulsons, Tiptons, Rains, and some others, constituted the society.  The organization subsequently disbanded, but, finally, re-organized, and worshiped in the school-house near the old Free Will church, for five years.  The Renick church, so called because of the interest and activity shown in its erection by Mr. Benjamin F. Renick, was built in 1870, costing about two thousand, three hundred dollars.  The present pastor of the church is the Rev. Mr. Callahan of Darbyville.  John W. Sheets is leader of the class.
     A United Brethren class was organized at Palestine, about the year 1844, by Rev. Henry Jones and Rev. Jesse Bright.  The constituent members were: Nimrod Huffman and wife, Jeremiah Deyo and wife, Daniel Alkire and wife.  The meetings were first held at the dwellings of the members, and, subsequently, at a school-house on Deer creek.  A frame meeting-house was erected at Palestine about the year 1850, which, at this writing, is still standing, though it has not been used for several years.  The church flourished for a number of years, and until the war of the Rebellion, when questions of a political nature caused dissension and division amongst members, and the society was finally broken up.
     A new church, to be erected on the site of the old one, is now talked of, for which three or four hundred dollars are already subscribed.  It will be under the control of no one denomination, but will be open, alike, to all churches of orthodox belief.


     The first school in Darby was kept in a rude log cabin, built for a school-house, which stood on cedar-cliff hill, on Darby creek.   The first teacher, or one of the earliest, was John Poulson.  This was probably about the year 1815.  The next school-house was erected in the north part of the township, near Harrisburg.  The first school-house in the Alkire neighborhood stood just above the orchard, on the farm of Abraham Alkire, in which the first term of school was taught by Michael Hornbeck.  Soon after the settlement on Opossum run was commenced, a school-house was built just across the line, in Madison county, on the farm now owned by Samuel Boyd, and here the children, in this neighborhood, first attended school.  The stone - a big "hard head" - which constituted the back of the fire-place, still remains in position.  One of the earliest teachers in this house was Simon Cochran.  He was a Methodist preacher, and, at the time of his death, was the oldest minister of that denomination.  The first school in Palestine was kept by Miss Emmerett Moore, in a building now occupied by John Skinner.


     The first grist-mill on Darby creek, in this township, was the Harrisburg mill, erected by Joseph Chenoweth, as long ago as 1835.  It is now owned by John W. Rush and Owen T. CurryChenoweth built there a short time before, the first saw-mill in the township, which was finally burned down, and the present mill subsequently erected.  A carding machine was established at the same place by Elijah Chenoweth and Alfred Bird.  There have been two other grist mills in the township, on Darby creek - the Kepler mill built by James Kepler, and located about five miles below Harrisburg, near "yellow bank," and, a mile further down, the Garrison mill, erected by John G. Garrison.  This was purchased by John W. McKinley.


     The old "Federal road," opened by the general government, and which ran across the southwest corner of the township, was the first road in Darby.  The original road of the Circleville and London pike, was surveyed and opened under the superintendence of Judge Thomas Renick, of Jackson township.


     The earliest justice of the peace now remembered by the oldest inhabitants, was Humphrey Becket, who was elected about the year 1820.  He lived on Greenbrier run, on what is now the line between Darby and Muhlenberg.   He served a number of years, and was followed successively by John Henderson, William King, John Poulson, John Troutner and Andrew Poulson.  The latter served for twenty-four consecutive years, and was elected for one term subsequently.  The early elections were held, for several years, at the house of Edward Henderson, where George Smith now lives.  The following are the present township officers:  John W. Sheets, clerk; Joseph Davis; Joseph McKinley and J. P. Dick, trustees; Courtney Tanner, treasurer; Edson Deyo, assessor; J. F. Morgan and G. W. Smith, justices of the peace.


      Dr. Olds was the first resident physician in Darby.  He settled at Palestine about 1830, and practiced until his death.  Dr. Harriman came next, from Jefferson, and practiced several years, when he returned to Jefferson, and was followed by Dr. William Wilson.  He came from New Holland, and remained two years, when he removed to Darbyville.  Dr. Roswell Shepherd came from Vermont about the year 1838, and practiced a number of years and until his death.  Dr. George W. House, and Dr. Crumley practiced medicine here a few yeas, coming from Columbus.  The last physician in the township was Dr. W. T. Williman, who came from Logan, Hocking county, in the fall of 1862.  He remained until the spring of 1878, when he removed to Mt. Sterling, where he is now in practice.  All of the physicians above mentioned resided at Palestine.


     For the following facts we are indebted to John Ray and John W. Kennedy.
The little hamlet of Palestine, situated on Darby creek, on the western border of the township, and now consisting of one small store, two or three mechanic shops, and about a dozen dwelling houses, was once a stirring little place.  It was laid out about the year 1829, by Josiah Rush and George Alkire.  The old tavern, built by Mitchell and Pritchard, and now occupied by Thomas Brown, was one of the first buildings erected in the place.  Rush & Alkire opened the first store, on the northwest corner of the crossing of the two pikes, in a little building now standing in the rear of the preset store.  John V. Davis' was the first store kept in the frame building, now vacant, on the southeast corner.  Samuel Diffenderfer brought in a stock of goods from Circleville, but subsequently moved back there.  Thomas Fellows started in trade, and continued for a time, then moved away.  Joseph Tenney, of New Hampshire, a clerk of Fellows, subsequently opened a store where the present store of S. S. Fetherolf now stands, in a building now occupied as a dwelling by Charles KetchumTenney sold goods there many yeas, and acquired a fortune.  He finally sold out to Jerrold Sweatland and returned to New Hampshire.  Sweatland carried on the business with success for several years.  George Neff & Son followed Sweatland.  They moved out the old store and erected the building now occupied by S. S. Fetherolf.  These were the principal early traders in Palestine.  The only post-office in the township was established here in Joseph Tenney's store, with Tenney as postmaster.  The present postmaster is S. S. Fetherolf.





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