LEE township, originally a part of Alexander, was separately organized in November, 1819. Among the earliest settlers here were Capt. John Martin, a revolutionary soldier, Philip Smith, Henry Cassel, Ziba McVey, Daniel Knowlton, George Canny, John Holdren, William Brown, William Graham, Jacob Lentner, James McGonnegal, Francis Thomas, Samuel Luckey, Hiram Howlett, and John Doughty.
The population of the township in 1820 was 341; in 1830 it was 418; in 1840 it was 848; in 1850 it was 961; in 1860 it was 1301. The inhabitants of Lee are principally engaged in agriculture, and her farmers rank among the best. Latterly they have given especial attention to the growing of fine stock.
Previous to the discovery of salt by the whites, the Indians had produced scanty supplies of salt by drilling holes into the rocks fifteen or eighteen inches deep, when the cavity would gradually fill up with the brinish water which, evaporated by the heat of the sun, would produce salt. The whites bored wells to some depth, built furnaces, and for many years firnished salt for the surrounding settlements to the distance of seventy-five or eighty miles.
The center of population in the township is Albany, a neat village and handsomely located
on sections two and three, and was laid out into lots by William Graham, in 1832 or 1833.
The first house in the village was built by Lucius R. Beckley, on the ground now owned by
Atkins & Stanly, and known as the old Brown store. In 1840 John Brown purchased this
property and commenced selling goods here. Albany has a population of about six hundred,
with the usual complement of business men and mechanics. The Free Masons and Sons of
Temperance have each a hall in the village. No liquor is sold within the corporation.
The town was incorporated in 1844. At the first election for town officers John V. Brown was chosen mayor, and J.M. Gorsline recorder. For a number of years afterward there was no election, but since 1855 they have been held regularly.
|1820||Jacob Lentner||James McGonnegal||Ephraim Martin|
|1821||Francis Thomas||James McGonnegal||Elisha Chapman|
|1822||Ephraim Martin||James McGonnegal||Daniel Rowell|
|1823||Joseph Wallace||Francis Thomas||William Brown|
|1824-27||Ephraim Martin||Francis Thomas||James McGonnegal|
|1828||Samuel Martin||Francis Thomas||James McGonnegal|
|1829-30||James Magee||George Reeves||McCowen Bean|
|1831||Wm Graham||Wm Thompson||McCowen Bean|
|1832||Joseph Martin||Wm Thompson||John Havener|
|1833-35||Wm Graham||James McGonnegal||Joseph Martin|
|1836||Joseph Post||Wm Thompson||Nimrod Dailey|
|1837-40||Wm Graham||Michael Canney||Nimrod Dailey|
|1841-42||John T Winn||Joseph Post||Jacob Lentner|
|1843-44||Wm Graham||Wm Henderson||Jacob Lentner|
|1845-46||F.E. Clark||A.G. Henderson||James Greathouse|
|1847||F.E. Clark||Travis Wilson||James Greathouse|
|1848||F.E. Clark||John Brown||George Holdren|
|1849||Andrew Means||John Dewing||George Holdren|
|1850||F.E. Clark||D.M. Ross||A.W. Brown|
|1851||F.E. Clark||Leonard Brown||D.M. Ross|
|1852||James Holmes||B. Goodrich||John T Winn|
|1853-54||James Holmes||A. Enlow||John T Winn|
|1855||James Holmes||Samuel Shuster||John T Winn|
|1856||James Holmes||Jacob McVey||John T Winn|
|1857||James Holmes||James Clements||John T Winn|
|1858||James Holmes||James Clements||Benjamin Rickey|
|1859||James Holmes||James Clements||A.W. Brown|
|1860||James Holmes||W.W. Kurtz||A.W. Brown|
|1861||James Holmes||A. Wilson||A.W. Brown|
|1862-63||James Holmes||J. Jennings||A.W. Brown|
|1864||James Holmes||A. Wilson||A.W. Brown|
|1865||James Holmes||Wm C. Lindley||Robert Dickson|
|1866-67||Lemuel Cline||Jacob McVey||Robert Dickson|
|1868||Albert Vorhes||Jacob McVey||Robert Dickson|
|Justices of the Peace|
|1822||Abner C. Martin|
|1825||McCowen Bean, Michael Canney, James McGee|
|1831||McCowen Bean, Abner C. Martin|
|1834||Abner C. Martin|
|1837||Abner C. Martin|
|1842||John T Winn|
|1843||George Means, Francis E. Clark|
|1845||A.G. Henderson, |
|1846||Francis E. Clark|
|1849||D.M. Ross, Francis E. Clark|
|1852||James Clements, Francis E. Clark|
|1855||James Clements, John Brown, Jacob McVey|
|1856||Harvey L Graham|
|1858||James Clements, Jacob McVey|
|1859||Harvey L Graham|
|1862||James M Gorsline|
|1865||James M Gorsline|
|1867||John Q Mitchell, Isaac Friedlein|
No community in the county has attended more earnestly to the cause of education than the citizens of Albany, and they have several excellent schools. The "Atwood institute," originally founded, and for a few years conducted, as a "manual labor school," is now controlled by the Free-will Baptists, and, under the management of the Rev. Mr. Chase, is proving a successful and useful school. It has at present three teachers — two male and one female —and about eighty scholars. All the branches usually taught in academies of this class are taught here. The colored people have a good school in Albany, conducted by capable teachers, and attended by young colored persons of both sexes from distant parts of the state. The have a handsome school building, conspicuously located, which has been built mainly by the contributions of colored people, and the good management and complete success, thus far, of their enterprise, are highly creditable. The "district school," divided into an upper and lower department—the former superintended by Mr. J.C. Woodyard, and the latter by Miss Mary L. Kerr—is also a well-managed and useful school. And, finally, there is a good public school for colored children.
Albany also possesses an excellent public library, called the "Wells library." It was founded by Mr. Henry Wells, who dying in 1860, bequeathed one thousand dollars for that purpose as a perpetual fund, the interest to be expended in books, and the further sum of two hundred and fifty dollars for an immediate purchase. The money was securely invested in 1861, by Mr. E.H. Moore, of Athens, whom Mr. Wells made his trustee for this purpose, and about seven hundred dollars worth of books have already been purchased by Mr. Leonard Brown, the purchasing committee. For some time the library was kept in a room gratuitously furnished by the Free Masons of Albany, but in March, 1868, Mrs. Mary Weethee, mother of the founder of the library, bequeathed a frame building to be used as a library room, provided the town should keep it in repair and pay the taxes. The library, consisting now of about four hundred volumes, is a settled and very creditable institution. By the rules of the library any family, living within the corporation, may, for one dollar a year, draw out two volumnes at a time for not more than four weeks, and the library is open two hours every Thursday for members. An interesting instance is thus afforded, of the great and perpetual good that may be accomplished by a very small sum well directed. Possibly the excellent example will incite others to similar action and so its usefulness be indefinitely multiplied. Mr. Wells was a grandson of Hiram Howlett, one of the early settlers of Lee.
John Holdren and came to Athens county in 1798 accompanied by another young man John Konker. Soon after reaching Athens they took up land in the south part of Alexander township and made a temporary settlement on the waters of Margaret's creek. Their neighbors, at intervals of several miles, were the Hanings, the Brooks family, Joseph Long, Esquire Merritt, and Henry Cassell.
Mr Cassell built a grist mill soon afterward in Lee township on the place now owned by William Minear.
In 1820, when Mr. Holdren settled permanently in Lee township his nearest neighbors were James McGonnegal, Israel Bobo, and George Canney, and soon afterward came David Doughty, James Luckey, Thomas Jones, John Havner, John and Ephraim Martin, Daniel Knowlton, Jacob Lentner, and the Robinetts.
Among those who entered the army at that the war of 1812, Mr Holdren remembers Barnet Brice, John Wood, Reuben Reeves, David Vaughn, Ira Foster, Joel Stroud, Jehiel Gregory, Nehemiah Gregory, and William McNichol.