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Allen County, Ohio

History and Genealogy

Early History

(Source: A Standard History of Allen County 1921
by William Rusler)

The Daughter, of Allen County
Andrew Russell, who is reputed to have opened the first farm in Allen County, arrived at Fort Amanda in the spring of 1817 from Day-ton. He also found shelter in the blockhouse there. On July 13, 1817, occurred the birth of a daughter whose name-Susannah Russell-will live in history, the Daughter of Allen County. In 1828, Russell died at Fort Amanda. On September 20, 1817, a son was born to the first resi-dent of Fort Amanda, Peter Diltz. He was christened Francis Diltz. In 1821, the Diltz family returned to Dayton. While Susannah Russell is recognized as the first white child born within the limits of Allen County the site of her birth is now in Auglaize County. She became the wife of C C. Marshall, a goverment service man carrying United States mail between Piqua and Fort Defiance; she died in 1871, at the age of fifty-four years, in Delphos. William Van Ausdall was another Dayton man to locate about that time at Fort Amanda.


Centennial Log Cabin in Lima Public Square
In commemoration of the treaty made with the Shawnees at the Rapids of the Maumee which resulted finally in their evacuation of Allen County, and of the first settlement in 1817 at Fort Amanda, a log cabin was constructed 100 years later in the Lima public square, as a monu-ment to the civilization of the past in Allen County. This unique monu-ment was an object of much attention from Lima visitors. On Labor Day, 1917, it was placed on trucks and removed to a permanent place in Lincoln Park where it stands as a voice from the past in Allen County history. The logs were donated by public spirited citizens, the moving spirit in its erection being Dr. George Hall. While this cabin was in the Lima pubic square all visitors saw it, and visitors today hear its history from their friends-a tribute to the citizenship of long ago. Within the bounds of the Allen County of today are some who are descended from the settlers at Fort Amanda, although it was several years before there were white people in what is now Allen County. The great English premier, Disraeli, once said: "Youth is a blunder; man-hood a struggle; old age a regret," and with that thought uppermost, it matters little about who came first in any community. Births, marriages and deaths make up the sum of living, and while a woman always remembers dates by the births of her children, the law of association governing her in such things-unless the barn is burned, or some dreadful fatality overtakes the family, a man seldom remembers anything about it.


The year A. D. 1820, was an unusual season in Allen County agriculture. It was a backward spring and a cold summer, but there never was so much fall pasture. There was more hay in the second than in the first crop on Allen County meadows; it is reported that A. J. Laman of Amanda Township cut fall hay from the spring sowing of grass seed in his oats, and the yield was excellent. It was an unusual thing. The cold spring and late planting exemplified the Bible promise about seed time and harvest, and "When the frost is on the pumpkin and the fodder's in the shock," is an opportune time to note results. With many October is the chosen month in all the changing year, and the orchards and the fields had all been productive; it was an old-time year in Allen County.
On November 11, 1833, was the meteoric shower-the time when the stars fell, and there has never been a repetition of that phenomenon; in 1859, the great comet was visible to Allen County sky-gazers; and June 6, 1859, there was a frost that killed the wheat and other grain; January 1, 1864, is still recounted as the Cold New Year in the annals of Allen County; the eclipse of the sun, August 7, 1869, was almost total and chickens went to roost in the middle of the afternoon, remaining there only a short time; there was cold weather in January, 1918, and that summer there was much injury from frost in different localities. The practical minded settler had a formulae for a short winter-borrow money in the fall that comes due in the spring, in harmony with the Benjamin Franklin philosophy: "Whistle and hoe, sing as you go, Shorten your row by the songs you know," and while some one remarked that Allen County frequently gets summer and winter in the same twenty-four hours, and there was a December gale in 1920 traveling sixty miles an hour-the whole range of climatic conditions frequently visited upon the county, the Sunshine Philosophy of James Whitcomb Riley is:

"Whatever the weather may be, whatever the weather-
It's the song ye sing and the smile ye wear,
That's a makin' the sunshine everywhere."

While there used to be corn shocks standing in some of the fields until corn planting time again, with the silos and the cribs, that rule does not hold in Allen County. A recent writer declares the novelist is sure of the reader's tears when he describes the farmhand who pitches hay all day long under the hot sun, or the woman who is compelled to mend her children's clothes, wash the dishes and make the beds-noth-ing to do but work, but the sentiment wanes when one learns the philosophy : "Grin and bear it." The fact remains that the happiest folk in the world are those who work, and the twentieth century dames who breakfast in bed and work only when they feel like it. are designated by "trouble-shooters" as the bane of society. Few of them live in the rural communities. The pioneers were busy folk-busy all day long, and while there may be advantages in poverty and deceitfulness in riches, most Allen County citizens make some effort to corner the coin of the realm, and it is said that whenever a man is born into the world there is a job awaiting him.
The Bible says: "My Father worketh hitherto and I work," and nature works all of the time. The sunshine and the showers are all in the interest of Allen County agriculture.


"In time of peace prepare for war."
Are not the wars of the past sufficient blot on American civilization ? War is the oldest sin of the nations; it has been styled scientific inter-national suicide; many people accept the trite definition given by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman: "War is hell."
While it is true that war makes heroes, it is not necessarily true that peace makes has-beens, although it has been intimated that war-time i-deals have suffered the loss of their i's, and have become only the worst sort of deals, and that profiteers recognized their golden oppor-tunity; now that the war is over they arc still having their golden harvest, just as it is said that a man asked his wife whether she were talking yet or again, in these days the dogs of war are never certain whether they arc in the early laps of a new war. or a relapse of an old one; the "freedom of the seas" and the freedom of the world, while the United States flag has never trailed in defeat, it has been carried into battle of defense of the whole world. Since Allen is one of the "military group of Ohio counties." all coming into existence on the same day, and bearing the names of Revo-lutionary patriots-since its baptismal ceremony was in honor of Gen. Ethan Allen; since it is in territory lost to the British and their Indian allies through the overthrow and defeat of Gen. Arthur St. Clair; since it is in territory retrieved from the Indians by Gen. Anthony Wayne, and since its boundary was established by Col. James W. Riley who was in "Mad Anthony's army," and since historic Fort Amanda is inseparable from the history of Allen County, why should not the spirit of patriotism assert itself in the community? Who would blush because of the relation of Allen County to the rest of the world? When Alex-ander the Great marched forth to conquer, there was no Allen County. It is said that war does not determine the merit of any question; instead of solving problems it opens up hitherto undreamed of economic questions; the soil has been redeemed by the veterans of the Revolu-tionary war, by the soldiers in the War of 1812, by the boys in blue in the War of the States, and again civilization was in the death grapple when Allen County boys with others went overseas in the War of the Nations, and after all the wars has come the reconstruction period. when the best brains of the world and an unlimited amount of money was necessary; when cost and selling prices are adjusting themselves after such upheavals, it requires soldiers of fortune to stand the test of courage and conviction; when the war is over come the intricate ques-tions of the aftermath; then come the times that try men's souls; it is one thing to inflict a wound, and quite another to recover from it. "In time of peace prepare for war," has long been the slogan, although its teachmg is at cross purposes with the policy of arbitration; the Prophet Isaiah said: "And they shall beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more," and not-withstanding the prophesy Allen County has had its part in a number of mortal conflicts; the soldiers of the different wars talk about "after our war," when discussing the problems of reconstruction, and after every war there is an increased popular interest in ancestors and family trees; it is said that America is already a forest of family trees, even the soldiers returned from overseas in the World war having become interested in Mother Country and Fatherland connecting links in the chains of their own personal relations.


First Burial
An old account of the first burial plot in Allen County, now the site of the H. S. Moulton Lumber Company, written by Robert Bowers of Lima, says: "But still there is an old leaning slab there that marks the spot where Elijah Stites was buried March 6, 1843, his age being eighty-five years; he was a Revolutionary soldier and a color bearer at the surrender of Cornwallis, and afterwards a Baptist minister in Lima. I was orderly sergeant of a company called the Tigers at the time of his death, and helped to bury him with the honors of war. Gen. William Blackburn was out in full' uniform." The above information appeared in a Lima Directory in 1879, but nothing could be learned at the Moul-ton Lumber yard about the "leaning slab" that marked the grave of a Revolutionary soldier. Diligent inquiry failed to gain any further knowledge of the Revolutionary soldier known to have been buried there.
When Peter Sunderland was buried in the military cemetery at Fort Amanda, it was in Allen County. An old account says: "Peter Sunderland, a soldier of the Revolution, came to Allen County in 1820; he died in 1827, and was buried at the fort cemetery." On the grave-stone there is this inscription: "Peter Sunderland, a Revolutionary soldier, fought at Bunker Hill. He died August 1, 1827. aged 90 years," and on another marker: "Catharine, his wife, died September 1, 1831, aged 95 years." Mrs. Isabelle Sunderland Russell, mother of Susannah Russell Marshall, the daughter, of Allen County, was a daughter of Peter Sunderland and the Spencerville Sunderlands are of this line of Sunderlands. In 1917, when Earl Sunderland was leaving for overseas service in the World war, and Sunderland family picnic was held at Fort Amanda, July 13, just 100 years after the birth of Susannah Russell, he placed floral decorations on the grave of this Revolutionary ancestor-a most impressive thing. Peter Sunderland was the fourth son of Samuel Sunderland, who was the third son of John, the fourth Earl of Sunderland, and thus royalty lies buried in the Fort Amanda Military Cemetery, although it is understood that Peter Sunderland was born fourteen days after his parents arrived in the United States of America. Because it is in a military cemetery, more tourists visit this grave than any of the other Revolutionary shrines in Allen County.


County's First Wedding Shown By Old Record

Probate Judge Raymond P. Smith was plunged Tuesday into Allen co folklore and tradition when he received a letter from Ida A. Howell, of Harrod, Route 1, who sought to learn whether the marriage of her great-great grandparents had been recorded in courthouse records. "I read recently in the Lima News of an early marriage license", Mrs. Howell said in her letter, "and it recalled to me that my great-great grandparents were the first white couple to have been married in Allen co. Their names were James and Elizabeth Saxton. Their only neighbors were Indians and an Indian chief performed the ceremony. Checking the records, Judge Smith found the following notation as of April 15, 1832: "I do hereby certify that on April 15, 1832, I joined together as man and wife James Saxton and Haney Jones. (Signed) Lewis Sroufe, justice of the peace". Judge Smith said it was possible that Sroufe also was a Shawnee chieftain, but there were no records to check further into the information of the Saxtons' great-great grand-daughter.
[Lima News May 22, 1934]


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