Ames Township

Township Trustees since 1829
Justices of the Peace

Personal and Biographical

Sylvanus Ames, also known as Judge Ames, was born at Bridgewater, Massachusetts, March 26, 1771. Sylvanus Ames married Nabby Lee Johnson in 1795 and moved to the northwestern territory in 1798. They settled temporarily in Belpre and then moved to Ames Township in May, 1800, and settled on a farm.

Mr. Ames was a trusted man who had good sense and good judgment. He was the second sheriff of the county, colonel of militia, trustee of the Ohio University for many years, and associate judge from 1813 to 1823. He was elected several times as representative to the state legislature.

He was an active and liberal supporter of all educational and religious movements, and an acknowledged leader in the community for several years. He died September 23, 1823.

Judge Ames' house became the favorite stopping place of the political leaders in southern Ohio, when making their long trips between the east and west.

Nabby Lee Ames was named Abigail Lee Johnson when she was born March 15, 1771. She was the eldest daughter of the Reverend Daniel Johnson and his wife, Betsy Lee. Her father was a Harvard graduate, and became pastor of the Christian Church in Harvard, Massachusetts. He later became a Chaplain in the American Army during the Revolutionary War where he died a short time later at the age of 30. Nabby was 6 ½ when her father died. Her mother, Betsy Lee Johnson, also died young and left Nabby Lee an orphan at the age of ten. Nabby lived with her grandmother or aunts in Salem, Marblehead, Newburyport and Boston. Her family and friends were very wealthy, so she was brought up on the finer things in life.

On September 7, 1795 she married Sylvanus Ames. They had a lot in common. They were both born the same month, March 1771. Both of their fathers had graduated from the same class at Harvard, both were ministers, and both had died as Chaplains in the Revolutionary War.

In 1797, their first son Hector Revere was born. Very soon after, they packed the little baby and some of their belongings and went west on horseback. In 1798, they were in Belpre, Ohio. The only place for them to live was in the school house that had been used for a singing school. There was only one room and a loft for storage. But, they had very few belongings so it didn’t matter much. They joked about the walnut beam that leaned against the loft. It had notches cut into it to get to the loft. They wrote back home and told of their black walnut stair case.

Their second child, Elizabeth Johnson Ames, was born March 4, 1800. Two months later they moved to Ames Township. They took their belongings to the mouth of the Hocking River and loaded everything into a small boat and rowed up the Hocking to Federal Creek. They went up-creek until they reached the landing about a quarter of a mile from the home of Judge Ephraim Cutler. The Cutlers welcomed them and invited them to stay until their cabin was built. They unloaded their boat and placed their things a little way from the bank. During the night, a storm came and one of the frequent flash floods took their belongings. They found many of their things, but lost half of a barrel of sugar.

There weren’t many neighbors, but they all helped to build a cabin for the Ames family. The Cutlers, George Ewing’s family, Captain Benjamin Brown’s family and probably others came from several miles away to help. The cabin had one large all purpose room with two little bedrooms, and a loft for storage. It wasn’t what Nabby was used to back East, but it was her own home.

Nabby Lee Ames was not accustomed to the wilderness. Stories tell of her being alone with the children when her husband Sylvanus had to leave. She was scared of the wild animals she saw near her house. She took her children into the loft of her house and stayed there until they went away. She then took her children to the house of Mrs. Cutler to be safe. When she told about the animals, the Cutlers found out that the animals were Mr. Ewing’s cattle. Nabby Lee Ames became a fine pioneer woman. She made the best of the wilderness and plain home she had. Other stories tell that she would, on occasion, wear her fine dresses that she brought from the East.

Nabby Lee and Silvanus Ames had 11 children, 5 boys and six girls. Two died as babies and one daughter died at the age of 16. All four of her living sons went on to become ministers. Bishop Edward Raymond Ames was the most famous of Nabby Lee's children.

Nabby Lee Ames died in Athens at the home of her daughter, Lucy, at the age of 84. She is well remembered as a very influential woman of her time.

In the year 1800, the only mail route in southern Ohio was from Zanesville to Marietta by way of Amesville, Athens and Chillicothe to Cincinnati. James Dickey of Bern Township was the post rider. He would carry the mail on horseback about one hundred miles between Marietta and Chillicothe. His journey was dangerous. He had to cross often-flooded creeks and rivers, he had to be on the lookout for Indians, and had to travel no matter what the weather was like. Mr. Dickey was known for his speed and bravery. He was well respected for his integrity and business sense. In 1815 he married Betsy, daughter of Samuel Brown, and settled in Bern Township on a large farm that is now the Frank Langel farm. He lived there about 34 years and raised a family of three sons and two daughters. He opened his home to travelers and was known for his hospitality and good cheer.

Source:  History of Athens County, Ohio and Incidentally of the Ohio Land Company and the First Settlement of the State at Marietta with personal and biographical sketches of the early Settlers, narratives of pioneer adventures, etc, Charles M. Walker, published in Cincinnati, Ohio by Robert Clarke & Co., 1869

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