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Williams County, Ohio
History & Genealogy



Source: County of Williams, Ohio.
Historical & Biographical
pg. 477

By Weston A. Goodspeed.
     The territory comprising the present Centre Township was at first included within the limits of Delaware Township, which had been created by the County Commissioners June 7, 1824, and which embraced all the land bounded on the north by the Harris State line, east by the line separating Ranges 3 and 4 east , south by the line separating Townships 3 and 4 north, and west by the Indiana line, or the First Principal Meridian.  Centre was known as Township 6 north, Range 2 east, and remained a part of Delaware until Dec. 3, 1833, at which time it was set off and made a part of St. Joseph Township.  The latter was bounded north by the Harris line, east by the line dividing Ranges 2 and 3 east, south by the line dividing Townships 4 and 5 north, and west by the Indiana line.  On the 7th of March 1836, the Commissioners ordered "that the original surveyed Townships 6, 7, and 8 north, in Range 2 east, be erected and incorporated into a township to be called Centre; and further, that the inhabitants of said Centre Township meet on the first Monday of April next, at the house of Jacob Dillman, and proceed to elect, according to law, the necessary officers to organize said township, and that the Auditor advertise the same according to law."  No other change was made with Centre until March, 1839, when Township 7 north, Range 2 east, and fractional Township 8 north, Range 2 east, were set off and created as Superior Township, thus leaving Centre as it is at present.  The names of the first officers who were elected at the residence of Jacob Dillman in April, 1836, are no longer remembered.


     During the summer or autumn of 1833, Mrs. Mary Leonard,  a widowed lady, came with her family to Centre Township.  She was accompanied by James Overleas, Sebastian Frame and John Heckman, all three of whom were her sons-in-law.  The four families located in the south-eastern part of the township, and began to prepare homes from the heavy woods.  Mrs. Leonard had a large family of nearly grown-up children, and with the assistance of her sons and sons-in-law, encountered no serious drawbacks in the creation of a comfortable home.  These families came from Montgomery County, Ohio, when three or four wagons, each drawn by two yoke of oxen, and loaded with such households goods as would be needful in the new home.  Members of the family had come to the township some time before to select and enter suitable tracts of land, upon which they designed to locate; this was very probably done during the spring of 1833, and ere, so far as known, the first tracts entered in the township, though not the only ones entered during the same year.  Sebastian Frame was a man of considerable ability, and had been ordained an Elder in the Dunkard Church.  Unquestionably, the first religious exercises in the township were conducted by him, either at his own cabin, or at the cabin of the mother-in-law, Mrs. Leonard.  The members of the four families often met during the severe winter of 1833-34, to worship, and to talk over the means of meeting successfully the difficult problems of pioneer life.  Upon their arrival in the township, the families had at first lied in their wagons, under the shelter of rude temporary abodes built of poles, brush and blankets, while the men went to work to construct rough cabins of round logs.  Pleasant was the task of removing to these cabins, humble though they were.  These were probably the only persons residing in Centre during the year 1833.  In January, 1834, Joel Kinsey came from Montgomery County, Ohio, entered the northwest quarter of Section 35, erected on the same a small log cabin, and began the destruction of the timber on his land.  Two or three months later, George Skinner appeared, and entered the  east half of the southeast quarter of Section 34.  He likewise built a log house, and made some improvements; but in October of the same year, sold his land to Jacob Dillman, and removed from the township, going no one knew whither.  Mr. Dillman, a man who afterward during his life was very prominent in township affairs, had come from Stark County, Ohio, during the spring of 1834, and had selected a tract of land in the eastern part of the township, upon which were favorable facilities for a fine waterpower.  He returned to Stark County, but the sudden death there of a man whom he expected would operate his prospective mill altered his plans somewhat, and when he again came to Centre Township he purchased the Skinner farm.  A few acres had been under brushed by Mr. Skinner, who had sown thereon what he thought was clover seed, but which soon proved to be Canada Thistle seed.  The ground was soon covered with these pests, which have not been wholly eradicated even to this day.


     On the 1st of January, 1837, there were living in the township the following persons, or their families: Zebulon Britton, S. L. Boughton, Samuel Crocker, Jacob Dillman, Lewis Fritch, Jacob Fetters, Daniel Filson, Sebastian Frame, William Hill, Samuel Hill, Joel Kinsey, Abner Lovejoy, Mary Leonard, Martin Lloyd, Frederick Miser, James Overleas, Banister Pool, Almon Stinson, Horace Stinson, Seth Stinson, Jacob Spangler, Isaac Sufficool, John Heckman, Prescott Sawyer, Daniel Weaver, Abraham Weaver, Phillip Yockey, Mr. Brant, and perhaps a few others.
     In 1837, 1,080 acres, valued at $2,700, were taxed.  The total tax that year for State, canal, county, school and road purposes was $47.25.  A considerable portion of this tax was paid by the proprietors of the village of Centre and Freedom, which had been laid out the year before.  By the 1st of January, 1839, there had come in Alfred Church, M. G. Frock, Lorenzo Garton, John B. Kimmell, Joseph McKean, Isaac Neihart, Jacob Neihart, Thomas Punches, Amasa Shafer, Peter Yockey and others.  A year later, there were in - Jacob Swartzcope, Jacob Bowman, John D. Martin, Robert Baird, John Dinsmore, Stephen Hungerford, John McDowell, William Prouty, Robert Smith, William Sheridan, Sr., Frederick Webber and others.
     In 1839, there were in the township 13 horses and 102 cattle; i 1840, there were 34 horses and 130 cattle; i 1842, there were 59 horses and 177 cattle; in 1843, 72 horses and 228 cattle, and in 1844 80 horses and 252 cattle.


     Perhaps the most successful hunter ever in the township was Frederick Miser, who came from Coshocton County, Ohio, to the township in the spring of 1834.  He was a very large man - possessing enormous strength - and was a dead shot with the rifle.  He loved to hunt, and would often be gone several days at a time, taking with him in his provision bag a plentiful supply of bread and meat.  He would always return loaded down with skins and game.  It is said that he was so strong that he could carry in two or three deer on his back.  He went dressed in a complete suit of buckskin, as did also his boys.  He was one of the few early settlers in the township who succeeded in killing bears.  The night was so dark that Mr. Miser knew it was useless to sally forth.  The swine squealed terribly for some time, and then all became silent.  At daybreak, Mr. Miser and his sons went out where the squealing had occurred; and, after looking around a short time, found the half-eaten carcass of a hog covered with leaves.  Mr. Miser knew enough of the habits of the bear to be aware that the animal would very likely return the following night to gorge itself again with fresh pork; so he resolved to be present on that occasion to act as a reception committee of one.  Accordingly, about two hours before dark, he went to where the carcass lay, dressed in an appropriate fashion for the reception of so distinguished a guest.  He concealed himself behind the roots of a large tree, and patiently waited for the development of events.  A little while before dark, he heard a rustling of leaves, and, peering out, saw, a moment later, a large black bear stepping leisurely along, and approaching the "supper table."  At a favorable moment, the hunter took careful aim and fired, table."  At a favorable moment, the hunter took careful aim and fired, and the animal fell shot through the heart.  A few feeble spasmodic movements - a few feeble kicks - and all was over.  The dead animal was carried to the house, on a handspike, by the boys.  The next morning, the family ate bear steak for breakfast.  The near neighbors were presented with portions and fared likewise.  Bear meat is said to be excellent.  It tastes much like veal, and can be fried in its own fat like pork.


     One morning Mr. Miser started out for a long hunt down in the present townships of Defiance County.  While moving through the woods in Milford Township near the residence of Mr. Mann keeping a careful lookout for game, his attention was attracted to a large opening in the gigantic tree, many feet from the ground.  Closer examination revealed the fact that the trunk of the tree and the opening in the same were scratched by the claws of some large animal.  The hunter resolved to wait awhile and see what transpired; so, without noise, he seated himself at the foot of the tree.  The minutes passed away, and at last a great noise was heard high up in the hollow tree, a scratching and clawing, interspersed with numerous whines and snarls, which, after a few minutes, ceased, and all became stll again.  Mr. Miser immediately started for the cabin of Mr. Mann who, with ax in hand, came back with him.  The tree, though large, was hollow, and was soon cut down.  Mr. Miser, stood near with his rifle ready, and when the tree fell with a great crash, out through the opening came a large bear, with open mouth and eyes of fire.  The animal was instantly shot dead.  The tree was examined, and three cubs about as large as cats were found.  They fought and scratched when taken out, but were too small to do much damage.  Mr. Mann took one of them and Mr. Miser the other two.  The latter were taken home, and became great pets in the family of Mr. Miser. They grew rapidly, and soon became large and a nuisance generally.  They were up to all sorts of capers, and could eat as much corn as swine.  The family kept maple sugar and wild honey in the cabin loft.  The bears were very fond of anything sweet, and could small it if it was anywhere about the house.  They soon became aware of what the loft contained, but were unable to reach it until one day, after they had become quite large, when they climbed upon the cabin roof, knocked off the weight poles, scattered the clapboard shingles and descended into the loft, where they helped themselves to the store of sweets.  Sometimes they would snap and bite the children, but this was done only in sport.  They loved to souse themselves in a tub of water, and were a pest to the women on washing day.  At last they became so troublesome they that were killed.


     Traps were made by fastening across some path a small log, into which many sharp pins were driven.  Above this, much larger and heavier log was partly suspended in such a manner that when the animal steped over the lower log, the trigger was struck and the heavy upper log came down, pinning the animal fast.  Mr. Miser often set these traps.  One stormy night a large bear attacked a hog belonging to Mr. Miser and weighing nearly two hundred pounds, and threw it over an eight rail fence that constituted the pen.  The unfortunate Sus scrofa was dragged off in the woods despite its squeals, where it was killed and partly consumed.  A trap like the one above described was set, but the only thing caught and killed was a valuable dog belonging to the family.  The bear was not seen, but must have been a very large one.  On still another occasion, while Mr. Miser was hunting in the western part of the township, and while he was trying to force his way through a tangled and almost impenetrable swamp, he saw off at some distance to one side a suspicious looking heap of leaves and dried grass.  While standing observing it, he suddenly saw the head of a large bear emerge from the covering, and a pair of small bright eyes peer about, though the animal still remained lying in its next.  Mr. Miser cautiously raised his rifle without being seen, took deliberate aim at the exposed head and fired.  The sharp report was followed by a sudden and tremendous scattering of the leaves and grass of the nest, accompanied by a torrent of growls and snarls, though in a minute or two the death struggles of the animal ceased.  Upon going forward, Mr. Miser found two young cubs sprawling among the grass and leaves.  He took them home, where they were kept some time, but were afterward killed.  One night Mr. Miser  heard the screams of a panther in a swamp west of his house, but, although he went out the next morning, nothing of it could be discovered.


     David Leonard and James Overleas were one day hunting in the woods north of Miser's cabin.  They were walking along some distance apart, when Overleas discovered a fresh deer track.  He followed it a short distance, and soon saw the deer quietly feeding.  He cautiously approached and shot the animal, which fell upon the ground, and the hunter approached and shot the animal, which fell upon the ground, and the hunter went forward to cut its throat.  As he stopped over it with knife in hand, the animal, having been merely stunned by the shot, suddenly leaped to its feet, and with bristles erect along its spine, and antlers lowered, charged furiously upon him, knocking him down and pinning him to the earth like a vise.  He seized the angry animal by the antlers, and endeavored with all his strength to free himself, but without success.  The deer gored him with its sharp-pronged antlers, and struck him with its cutting hoofs, until he was covered with wounds and bruises, and his clothing was torn into ribbons.  At the first of the attack he had began calling loudly to his companion for assistance; but, although the latter heard the cries, he was unable to reach the spot until Overleas had been severely punished for his carelessness.  Leonard came panting up to the scene, and immediately ended the struggle by shooting the enraged animal dead.  Had it not been for his timely arrival, Overleas would have had probably been killed.  He went home a wiser man.


     Daniel Fetters one day killed a doe and two fawns within the space of a few minutes.  While out with his gun, he discovered them feeding, whereupon he shot and killed the mother, and the fawns ran away at the top of their speed, but soon returned and approached their parent.  Mr. Fetters knew they would return, and had concealed himself near the doe.  From behind a tree he shot one of the fawns, and the other ran away; but, when it returned, a few minutes later, it was likewise killed.  John and Jacob Fetters, one autumn, tried to see which could kill the greater number of deer during the time which each could spare from his work.  John killed forty-six, and Jacob forty-nine.  The skins were taken and sold, as were also the better portions of the flesh.  Many of the hams were smoked or salted down like pork.  One day a bear was started in the northeastern part of the township by some one not remembered, and was followed to a swamp in the southwestern part, many joining in the chase.  Jacob Neihart and Michael Frock joined the pursuit with their dogs.  The bear was at last treed in the swamp, and was shot at by Philip Neihart, who gave it only a flesh wound; whereupon another settler tried his hand, and the animal came to the ground dead.  Mr. Miser could dress deer skins as well as an Indian, and after the same fashion.  The suits of buckskin which he and his sons wore were warm and comfortable while they were dry; but after they had become wet and had dried, they were like boards, and about as easily put on as a suit of basswood.  On such occasions the process of the morning dressing was amusing and ridiculous.


     One day in early years, several of the settlers had occasion to go to La Fayette.  As they were going along, one of them discovered a "bee tree," which was immediately cut down.  The men ate what they wanted of the choice honey, and when they were satisfied, they hold Mr. Overleas that he might have the remainder.  The settlers in early days were in the habit, when they left home, of taking with them a "wallet" (usually made of cloth) well filled with substantial food.  These "wallets" were bags about three feet long, closed at both ends, but open at the middle, and were carried over the shoulder or around the neck, food being placed in both ends.  Mr. Overleas had his wallet on the occasion above mentioned, and when he was told that the remainder of the honey was his, being a peculiar man, he resolved to put it all, to the amounts of about three gallons, in his cloth wallet and carry it with him.  The honey was accordingly placed in the wallet, and the men proceeded on their way.  Some of the men had been wiser than Mr. Overleas, and had foreseen the consequences, but they said nothing.  At last, as the honey became warm on the back of Mr. Overleas, it began to strain through the wallet, and before he was aware of the fact his back was covered with the sweet substance.  The other men had been laughing some time at his expense, and when he discovered this, he resolved, as you have done a great many times, dear reader, to stick to his honey as long as it stuck to him, in spite of them.  It was a warm day, and he began to sweat, which greatly aggravated the disaster.  The other men enjoyed the occasion hugely.  The honey was soon dripping from the mortified man's shoulders, but he would not give up, as he naturally dreaded the outburst of merriment and the ominous ridicule that was sure to result from his relinquishment of the honey.  He kept the sweet substance, but was tortured all the way by the suppressed laughter of his companions.  At length, when he reached home, about a gallon had escaped, the most of which covered his entire back.  He was a sweet picture, truly, and his clothing was immediately put in the wash-tub.  It was reasonable to conclude that Mr. Overleas did not eat honey for his supper on the evening of his return. The crab-apple sauce, the vinegar, the pickles, which his wife had prepared, suffered, no doubt, a severe attack.


      One day, in early times, a small boy, about four years old, belonging to a family which lived in the southwestern part of the township, became lost.  The mother had gone to one of the neighbors, and the child had attempted to follow her.  The loss was not discovered until the mother returned, about dark.  The loss was not discovered until the mother returned, about dark.  Search was immediately instituted, the neighborhood was aroused and soon the woods were filled with anxious searchers.  Torches were carried, and the search continued all night; but the morning dawned, and the first day passed without success.  The mother was almost distracted with grief and nervous anxiety.  People came by the score to assist in the search - some as far distant as five or six miles; but, although more than a hundred active searchers were present, no concerted and organized effort was made, strange to say, until the third day.  On this day, a long line was formed, the men and women being stationed about sixty feet apart, and the word was given by the Captain to march.  It was not long before the little boy was found.  He was dead, but his body yet contained warmth, showing that death had occurred only a short time before.  The spot where the little fellow had slept each night was found.  When night overtook him, he had, as was his habit, taken off his clothing, thinking that he must do so in order to go to sleep.  It was October and the nights were quite cold, and the little wanderer could not survive the chilling weather.  When he arose the first morning, he was unable to put on his clothes properly, and thus wandered about half-clad.  Had the search been organized, as it should have been, on the second day, the little boy would have been found alive.  It was the easiest thing in the world even for grown people to get lost in early days.  The sensations on such occasions are described as terrifying.  The mind and senses become wild with bewilderment, see familiar objects under new and strange aspects, and refuse to recognize trees and paths known for years.  Old settlers, lost, have been known to pass within a few yards of their own doors without recognizing a single familiar object.


1. 2.
Zebulon Britton
John Craw
Joshua Conklin
Samuel & Abner Aiken
Jacob Drayer
Seth Stinson
John Ward
Levi Cunningham
Richard Baker
B. L. Mead
Rowland Day
Simon Jennings
Samuel Medary
Charles Butler
Almon & Horace Stinson
C. L. Noble
Abraham Hunsberger
Beniah McGowan
Walter Wimple
James B. Wells
John Flora
Samuel Ross
15. 16. 17.
Joseph Henderson
William & Samuel Hill
Henry Tharp
Joseph McKean
Charles Butler
Eden Neer
Lewis Fritch
Jacob Eberman
Bentley Harman
George Beechler
Jacob Frock
Jacob Neihart
22. 23.
Jacob Neidhardt
Isaac Robbins
Peter Wilhelm
Prescot Sawyer, eastern pt.
Daniel & Abraham Weaver, northern pt.
Philip Yockey, eastern pt.
John Blair
Jacob Bowman
J. S. Marshall
T. L. Punches
Jacob Bowman
Abraham Roon
Joel Kinsey, eastern pt.
Martin Lloyd, southern pt.
Frederick Miser
Frederick Moyer
George Retter
Isaac Wilson
Jacob Fetters
Andrew Dice
Jacob Spangler
J. B. Kimmell
Daniel Kreiger
John Miller
Thomas Smith
W. P. Green
Christian Miller
Albert Mathias
Banister Pool
31. 32.
Joseph Whitehill
Zenas Hinds
Thomas Smith
Jacob Dillman
Samuel Crocker
Sebastian Frame
James Overleas
John McDowell


     In about the year 1845, Fred Miser, Jr., built a saw-mill in the eastern part, on the western branch of Lick Creek.  A dam was construction, and a race dug, and, for some five or six years, during the rainy months, a considerable quantity of lumber was sawed.  It is said that 500 logs were transformed into lumber by this mill, during one spring, while the mill was in operation.  The mill was abandoned because it did not pay sufficiently well to warrant its continuance.  Several years before this mill was built,  Jacob Bowman had constructed a strong dam on Lick Creek, near where the stream is crossed by the Centre and Bryan road, and had, with the help of eight or ten hired men, excavated a long race across the large bend in the stream, on Sections 24 and 25.  Near the terminus of the race he erected a two-storied frame grist-mill, and placed therein two sets of buhrs, one for wheat and the other for corn.  About the same time, he built a saw-mill on the same race.  These mills were conducted quite successfully for many years, and became well known and well patronized.  The grist-mill furnished excellent flour; and the saw-mill furnished lumber that may yet be seen in many a building in the surrounding neighborhood.  In 1836, Mr. Bowman, opened a general store in Centre Village, his stock being valued at about $500.  About the same time, John D. Martin also opened a store at the same place.  The Assessor of 1837 valued his stock at $700.  These stores and mills were very handy to the settlers, as they saved long journeys, through bottomless roads, to distant places.  The stores furnished all sorts of useful articles needed in the backwoods, and almost any kind of produce was taken as payment.  Deer skins were for many years almost legal tender for the payment of obligations.  Money was very scarce, and other mediums of exchange were sought and found. So many yards of calico were worth so many pounds of butter; so many pounds of sugar or coffee were worth so many deer skins or hams, or dozens of eggs; and such a pair of boots was worth such a hog, or such furs.  Estimates of value were thus made from the self-regulated law of supply and demand, with the various articles in the possession of the settlers.  Stores were not opened in villages alone; they were kept in farmers' houses.  Prescott Sawyer, one of the first blacksmiths in the township, placed in his cabin dry goods, groceries, hardware, queensware, etc., valued at about $500.  He also built an ashery, and for several years manufactured the estimated quantity of ten or twelve tons of black-salts and pearl-ash, annually.  He exchanged goods from his store for ashes, and probably opened the store as an adjunct to the ashery.  Here the early settlers could get goods without money; all they had to do was to save the ashes which resulted from their log-heap fires, and haul the same to the ashery.  Henry Ruse purchased the Bowman grist-mill after a number of years, and placed in the same a steam engine.  A few years later, the mill was destroyed by fire, but was soon rebuilt, but after a number of years was again burned, and was then abandoned.  It was customary in early times, in almost every family, to have whisky, at all times, on the mantlepiece; members of the family, old and young, could take a drink whenever they pleased.  This universal custom of consuming liquor led to the construction of many distilleries in the wilderness.  It quite an early day, Jacob Householder constructed a small one in the eastern part of the township, on the old Neidhardt farm.  The small quantity of whisky made was consumed as fast as it came from the still.  The distillery was conducted about three years, and was then abandoned.  Lewis Fritch was a carpenter and cabinet-maker; he made many coffins, tables, stands, etc., for the early settlers.  Jacob Fritz made spinning wheels, large and small, also reeds, shuttles, looms, etc.  He tried his mechanical ingenuity i the construction of a musical instrument known as an "organ;" but, after the lapse of several mentally laborious months, abandoned the project, as he had reached the terminus of his inventive skill.  Philip Neihart manufactured chairs, in an early day.  Specimens of his workmanship may yet be seen in the township.  Sebastian Frame, immediately after his arrival in the township, erected a small building on his farm, i which he placed a small set of "niggerhead" buhrs to be used in "cracking corn."  It was located on a branch of Lick Creek, and was operated by water power, and, later, by horse or ox power.  It was the first "grist-mill" in the township.  William Sheridan, Sr., an excellent man, and one of the first blacksmiths in the county, built a shop on his farm in the eastern part of the township, where, for many years, all manner of work in his line was done.  A man named Clendennen worked at the same trade.  In about the year 1846, Daniel Wirtz erected a building in the eastern part, in which he placed the necessary machinery for carding wool and dressing cloth.  The motor for operating the mill was water from the stream on which the building was situated.  A considerable quantity of wool was taken to his mill, where it was carded, after which it was taken home, spun, woven into cloth, and returned to the mill to be fulled or dressed.  The mill had all it could do during the wet months - the only times it could operate.  It did a paying business for about ten years, and was then discontinued.  It is said that David Leonard afterward transformed it into a saw-mill.  These were the principal early industrial pursuits in teh township, outside of the villages.


     In the month of February, 1836, Montgomery Evans, Nathan Shirley and Thomas Warren, proprietors, employed a surveyor and laid out the above-named town on the southeast quarter of Section 35.  The proprietors were speculators, whose object was to lay out a town that should ultimately become the county seat of Williams County.  At that time Defiance and Williams Counties were one, under the latter name; and, as the geographical center of the county was not far from southeastern Centre Township, the proprietors felt sure of securing the location of the county seat at their village; for the subject of removing the county seat from Defiance to some spot more centrally located, was then being seriously discussed.  The above designated gentlemen, with pretty accurate foresight, laid out Freedom accordingly; but two important obstacles, which, in the nature of things, could not be foretold, lay in the way of the fruition of their hopes.  One was the foundation of Centre (village), and the other was the division of the county into two.  The latter circumstance was sure the defeat the hopes of Freedom, and the former was very likely to do the same, as it was located only the justly celebrated Bellefontaine road.  The result was that Freedom did not grow a particle, and at length, in about 1842, the village was abandoned.


     This village, like Freedom, was designed for the county seat, and would have been but for the division of the county.  It was laid out on the 23d of January, 1836, by John Evans, proprietor, and Miller Arrowsmith, Deputy Surveyor of Williams County.  Four hundred and eighteen lots were laid out on the southwest quarter of Section 35, four lots being reserved for a park, a school-yard and a cemetery.  Within a short time after the village had been founded, it became plainly apparent that Williams County was soon to be divided.  This was a death blow to the anticipated growth and prosperity of Centre.  In 1836, there were two or three families on Centre.  Prescott Sawyer, a blacksmith, was there.  J. B. Kimmell was also there with his store, as was John D. Martin, soon afterward.  A. M. Bateman also lived in the village.  Kimmell was the first Postmaster, and was appointed some time during the year 1838.  It was during the spring of this year that Congress established the mail route from Defiance vial Brunnersburg, Williams Centre, St. Joseph and Denmark, in Ohio, and Perseverance, Steubenville, Little Prairie and Pretty Prairie to Lima, in Indiana.  It is said that Judge Israel Stoddard, who at that time lived at Denmark, St. Joseph Township, was the first mail carrier.  He traversed the route on horseback.  Colin Tharp, who lived at Centre, but just across the line in Defiance County, opened his doors and entertained the traveling public.  Mr. Kimmell also kept a house of entertainment.  He kept liquor for those who wanted it, and their names were legion.  His house became quite a resort for those who looked upon the wine when it was red.  At that early day the subject of total abstinence began to be discussed.  Jacob Dillman came out strongly in opposition to the liquor traffic.  He and Mr. Kimmell were opposing candidates in 1839 or 1840 for the position of Justice of the Peace.  Mr. Kimmell was the successful candidate, and it is stated that his election was largely due to the support of the intemperate element.  Mr. Dillman kept a small store.  Lorenzo Crocker located in Centre in about 1840, and Samuel R. Clendennen, a blacksmith, appeared in about 1842.  John Manon, a tailor, came in 1841, and for some time worked at his trade, but afterward clerked many years in the store of Giles H. Tomlinson.  The land upon which Centre stands was entered by James Overleas, who erected the first building of any kind upon the present town site.  This was a rude log cabin, built in the fall of 1833.  The cabin of Mr. Kimmell  was probably the second; it was erected in 1836.  Crocker was a shoemaker, and worked at his trade.  John Evans, the proprietor of the village, was a physician, who lived at Defiance.  He had considerable means at his command.  Oliver Sawyer was a resident of Centre about the year 1838.  Giles H. Tomlinson first appeared in Centre in 1838, but he did not locate there until about 1848.  Mr. Manon succeeded Kimmell as Uncle Sam's postal agent.  He took the office about 1844, and held the same for nine or ten years, at which time Dr. Dunshee stepped in and remained until J. P. Dodge was appointed, during Buchanan's administration.  After a few years, Daniel Lovejoy took possession of the office.  He was succeeded by his son, who is yet Postmaster.  In about 1844, the most of the village lots of Centre, after having passed through several hands, were purchased by Brown & Phelps, who paid the tax on them a few years; but when the neighborhood was taxed heavily for school purposes at the time the schoolhouse was built, their share of the burden was greater, than they cared to hear, and they neglected the payment of their tax.  Finally the lots were sold by the Sheriff and purchased by G. H. Tomlinson, for $400, or at $2 each, their being two hundred of them.  In January, 1848, Mr. Tomlinson opened a store in Centre with about $1,500 worth of a general stock of goods, which he brought from Bryan, where he had previously been in business.  He continued in the mercantile business until 1862, having in store at certain seasons goods valued at about $6,000.  He packed large quantities of beef and considerable pork, and conducted an ashery from 1848 to 1864.  Often the value of his shipments East considerably exceeded the value of his goods shipped West.  He employed six or eight hands in the fall and winter to pack meat.  Sometimes for months the ashery was conducted day and night, two sets of hands being employed.  An average of about thirty tons of black salts and pearl-ash was manufactured annually.  Freeman & Freedy opened a store soon after 1848, and about the same time Ruse & Tharp did likewise.  The former firm had about $2,500 worth of goods.  Boyd, of Defiance, sent good to be sold at the village.  Bowman & Core opened a store a little later, but finally sold out at auction.  Too many stocks of goods were offered for sale from 1850 to 1860, as several failures resulted.  Garver Brothers began during the war, and for a number of years conducted a fair business.  The brothers were succeeded by Garver & Walker .  The population of Centre in 1840 was about 25; in 1845 was about 40; in 1850 was about 90 or 100, and in 1860 was about 250.  This has been about the population since Centre saw its best days from 1850 to 1865.  Rudolph Roth opened a grocery and saloon about 1853; he made considerable money.  John Manon opened a general store about sixteen years ago, and has continued until the present.  Hugh Mills opened his store in 1861, and continued until about five years ago.  A. H. Ogle began measuring tape and calico about six years ago; and J. M. Shutt brought in a stock of goods in 1881.  Charles Agler conducted a saloon a few years, beginning about 1870.  James McDowell, in 1848, began manufacturing chairs, tables, stands, and large numbers of coffins.  James Ritchie and his brother worked at the cabinet business, and also made quite a number of wagons.


     Jacob Dillman built the first saw-mill in Centre in about 1846, and operated the same with steam.  It passed to several owners, one of them being James McDowell who, in 1866, sold it to Storer & Kittridge.  In January, 1867, the mill was burned down, but was rebuilt the same spring.  Storer bought Kittridge out in the fall of 18690, and in the spring of 1870 the ill again burned down, but was again soon rebuilt.  In October, 1870, Mr. Storer had his left hand, except the thumb, sawed off by an accident.   In 1873, W. S. Wilsey purchased an interest in the mill, but four years later sold out to Storer.  The mill in its day ahs been an excellent one.  Mr. Storer had added a shingle machine, a lath machine, a fork, hoe and broom-handle lathe, a planing machine, and a machine for chopping feed for stock.  Large number of cheese boxes are made at present.   Dr. William Hall came to the village in about 1842.  After him came Drs. Pope, Ensign, Dunshee, Jenkins, Clark and Shutt.  In 1868, Dodge & Young began manufacturing wagons, carriages, buggies, etc., on quite an extensive scale, nine hands being employed, and from $,000 to $5,000 worth of work being done annually.  The sales ran down in 1873, owing to the hard times, and the business was partly abandoned.  This, in brief, sums up the past importance of Centre.


     Williams Centre Circuit was organized at the Central Ohio Annual Conference, held at Fostoria, Ohio, A. D. 1867, when Rev. Henry Boyers was appointed pastor.  It was then in Defiance District, Rev. Elnathen C. Gavitt, Presiding Elder. 
In 1868, Williams Centre Circuit was placed in Toledo District, and Henry Boyers was returned as pastor.  Rev. T. H. Wilson was Presiding Elder in Toledo District at this time. 
1869, T. H. Wilson, Presiding Elder, and Rev. J. McKean was appointed pastor. 
1870, T. H. Wilson, Presiding Elder; J. McKean, pastor. 
1871, Rev. Leroy A. Belt was appointed Presiding Elder of Toledo District, and O. E. Moore, pastor of Williams Centre. 
1872, L. A. Belt, Presiding Elder, and William Littell was appointed pastor
1873, L. A. Belt, Presiding Elder; William Littell, pastor. 
1874, L. A. Belt, Presiding Elder; William Littell, pastor. 
1875, Park S. Donelson was appointed Presiding Elder of Toledo District, and William Littell was returned as pastor of Williams Centre. 
1876, P. S. Donnelson, Presiding Elder, and David Bowers was appointed pastor. 
1877 P. S. Donelson, Presiding Elder, and David Bowers, Pastor. 
1878 P. S. Donelson, Presiding Elder, and S. L. Biler was appointed pastor, who remained two years. 
1879, Wesley G. Waters was appointed Presiding Elder of Toledo District, and Jackson T. Pope as pastor at Williams Centre, who remained two years.
1881, W. G. Waters, Presiding Elder; E. H. Snow was appointed pastor.
The first church was erected many years ago.  The second one was erected during the first year of Rev. William Littell's pastorate, 1872.  President membership and officers, forty-two, and about sixteen will be added soon.  Present pastor, E. H. Snow.  The Sunday school has a regular attendance of seventy-five; present Superintendent, Mrs. Giles H. Tomlinson.


     In the month of August, 1869, John Fritch, John Kendall and Jacob Neihart laid out twenty-three lots on the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 20, and the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 21, Township 6 north, Range 2 east.  The lots were all north of the railroad.  In October, 1871, Eden Neer laid out an addition to Melbern, consisting of three lots on the south side of the railroad and on the west side of the wagon road.  The town came very nearly being called Kansas, but by good luck escaped such a direful fate.  It has had, therefore no grasshoppers nor tornadoes.  The house of John Fritch was the first, it having been built many years before.  Some years before the lots were laid out, Amos Huffman built the brown house near the church.  Dr. John Kendall bought two acres at the village, and became the first Postmaster.  The office was in Philip Neihart's old log house south of the railroad.  David Lovejoy built an early house in which he opened a small grocery; this was about 1866; he became Postmaster.  William Thomas Peter Brakeman and Constantine Beals erected early buildings.  In about 1871, Mr. Thomas opened a general stock of goods in town.  About three years ago Samuel Benn began merchandising in the same room.  William Brown came in some eight or ten years ago.  He is yet in business, and ahs the largest and best stock of goods in Melbern.  Henry Jaques was his partner for a time, but sold out to George BrainerAlexander McCaskey began selling notions about four years ago.  There are in town and usual number of carpenters, blacksmiths, etc.  Henry Beck was the third Postmaster, and Alexander McClaskey the fourth and present one.  Dr. Kendall was the first physician; Dr. Trutton, the second, and Dr. Shutt, the third and last.  None reside in town at present.  Of course, the town has had its saloons.  About the year 1866, Beal & Harris built a steam saw-mill, which they operated about three years, when it was purchased by Brakeman & Son, who yet own and conduct it.  It is a good mill.  "Centre Grange" was instituted at the Miller Schoolhouse in 1874, by the Deputy Grand Master, and at first was filled to overflowing with members.  The first officers were: Master, Theodore Hunt; Secretary, William Weaver; Treasure, Samuel Stauffer.  Two years after the organization, the lodge built the storehouse in which Mr. Brown's stock of goods is now for sale.  The upper story was fitted up for a lodge room, and here the grangers yet assemble to deliberate.  The lodge, though not as strong as at first, numbers, at present, about eighty-five members, and meets on Saturday evenings.  The members, by united action, have done much to reduce the price of various farming implements.  Three of four years ago, George Fox built a cheese factory south of the railroad.  He manufactures per day, during the warmer months, from six to fifteen cheeses, each weighing from twenty-five to forty pounds.







(DIAGRAM  of Schoolhouses and Cemeteries value)





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