PIKE township occupies the southwest corner of the county. It is bounded on the west by Licking county and on the south by Muskingum. Washington township touches it on the east and Perry township on the north. The township was organized in August, 1818, the election for the first officers being held in the house of James Bryan. This and Perry are the only two townships in the county that consist wholly of congress land. It was surveyed in the year 1803, by John Matthews.
The surface is rolling and hilly throughout. It is nearly all tillable, the prevailing soil being a limestone clay. Some sandy grounds are found, however, principally in the western part of the township. The streams are small and unimportant. The largest is Tomica creek, which enters from Licking county, flows southeasterly about a mile and then returns to Licking county. Winding Fork enters the stream, flowing from the northeast. Brushy run rises near the northern line of the township, close to West Carlisle and flows almost directly south through the entire township. West of this, is Five Mile run, so named from its length; it rises near the center of the township and pursues a southwesterly course. Little tributaries to these streams make up the remaining streams of the township. A heavy timber growth was universal, except in one locality. Along the narrow valley of Brushy run, in sections 12 and 19, was a strip of land covered only with saplings when the first settlers entered the township. The opinion among the early settlers regarding it, was that a violent hurricane had spent its force here and uprooted all the large timber growing upon the tract. The little elevations and depressions which such a catastrophe would produce, were numerously scattered through this region.
Little is known of the early schools of the township. Like in all other pioneer settlements, they were irregularly held, meagerly attended, and very inefficient, as compared with the schools of the present day. A school-cabin was built about 1824 on the hill south of Hiram Noland's house, on the southeast quarter of section 12. William Wright was the first teacher in this building. He was a learned teacher, proficient in Latin, it is said, and a thorough mathematician. He remained in charge of the school for a number of years. Later, a school-house was built just south of West Carlisle, where Mr. Timberlick, afterward cashier of the Owl Creek bank of Mt. Vernon, taught the first elements.
There are four churches in the township; three, a Methodist, a Presbyterian and a Lutheran, in West Carlisle, and one about two miles south of this village, near the center of section 12. The latter is a "People's" church, or more commonly called the "Broomstick church." It is the property of no denomination, built nearly forty years ago by the people in this neighborhood, regardless of their church affinities, upon land donated by Hiram Noland. All denominations are permitted to worship here at any time which does not interfere with previous appointments, and several societies of different sects have used the building as their meeting house. Among them was a congregation of Christians, which at one time possessed considerable strength. Nathaniel Emery, Lewis Cheney and many persons from a distance were members. At first preaching was conducted at Mr. Emery's barn, then transferred to the church. There have been no services now for ten years or more. The Disciples held services here for a while. Samuel Cheney was a leading member. The congregation included a large number living in Muskingum county. Rev. White was their last minister. The Presbyterians and Methodist Episcopals hold occasional services. The Methodist Protestants have regular meetings, conducted at present by Rev. William Sampson. This society was organized about 1845, and now has about fifty members. A union Sunday-school is held here.
Of the three churches in West Carlisle, the Presbyterian is probably the oldest. It was incorporated by the legislature in 1823. The incorporators were James McKee, John Lyons, James Gault, James Patten and William Brown. Rev. James Cunningham, of Utica, Licking county, had been preaching occasionally in the neighborhood for some time and continued to preach for the church until 1834. Rev. Jacob Wolf then served the church for about a year, and after he left Mr. Cunningham again supplied the congregation for a year or two. In 1838 and 1839 the church was supplied by Rev. Enoch Bouton and Rev. Nathaniel Conkling. Rev. J. Matthews seems to have been the first pastor, installed November 11, 1840. Until 1846 he gave it half his time and then the whole time until 1853. During his time the church building still in use was erected. In 1853 C. C. Bomberger was ordained and installed pastor. During the war the congregation was greatly distracted on political issues, and finally divided, Mr. Bomberger and a portion of the congregation withdrawing and putting themselves under the Presbytery of Louisville and afterwards under the care of the Presbytery of Central Ohio in connection with the Synod of Kentucky. This congregation found a house of worship in the "People's church" two miles below the village. In the old church after several years of embarrassment, with only occasional supplies, John Foy was ordained and installed in 1870. During his pastorate the church rallied to a considerable extent and the house of worship was repaired and improved at an expense almost equal to its original cost. Mr. Foy removed in 1874 to Martinsburg and the church has since been supplied by Revs. S. Mehaffey, W. D. Wallace, and W. J. Fulton and J. P. Safford. In November, 1880, the two divisions of the church were harmonized and re-united under Mr. Safford's pastorate. At its organization the number of members was twenty-four; in 1860 there were eighty-six; at present it exceeds one hundred. The first elders were Thomas McKee, James Crawford and Adam Gault. Subsequently the following have served: A. H. Lyons, Christopher Crothers, John Lyons, James McKee, Robert Crouch, William Harvey, D. D. Johnson, Lewis Bennett, Thomas McKee, John McKee, John Graham and George McKee. The last three constitute the session at this time.
The Methodist Episcopal congregation at West Carlisle erected its first house of worship in 1832 or 1833. It was a frame building, and occupied the site of the present church, which was built about 1859. The date of the church organization is unknown. It was some time before the erection of the first church. Among the earlier members were William Moffat, John Fulks, James Fulks and William Henderson. Rev. Thomas Dunn was an early minister. The membership is now about sixty. Rev. A. A. McCullough is the pastor. A Sunday-school has been connected with the church for a great number of years, and is in excellent working condition. The school is held through the whole year.
The Evangelical Lutheran church was organized about 1835. The first minister was Jacob Seidle. Rev. S. Kammerer had previously held services in the neighborhood. The leading early members were Henry Billman, Henry Divan, George Sossaman, Henry Keifer and Solomon Exline. The present frame church was built a few years ago, at a cost of about $1,200. The former building was smaller, and built soon after the church was organized. The church had a large following at first, but when the Winding Fork church was organized many members withdrew to unite with it, and the church was left comparatively weak. By removals the membership has become still smaller, and is now quite limited. Rev. John Booker is the pastor.
Several small distilleries were operated in this township in early times to supply the local demand for whisky. James and George Crawford, about 1818, started one and run it for a number of years. Another one was owned by Thomas and John Crawford, of another family. Payne Clark, Samuel Hardesty and Newman Smith were also manufacturers of the article on a small scale. Joshua Lemart began the business at an early day and continued it for many years. He built a little horse-mill for the purpose of grinding his mashes, but it was soon brought into requisition by his neighbors for grinding their corn. Particularly was this so during a dry season, when the mills on the small streams must suspend operations for lack of power, and the settlers were obliged to take their grists up to Owl creek in Knox county, or down to Zanesville, where, from the throng of customers, they often had to wait several days before their wants could be attended to. Lemart's horse-mill was then kept going night and day, turning out a course grade of corn-meal which the settlers labored hard to obtain.
John Taylor built a saw-mill on Winding Fork about 1818. In 1823, he sold it to Albert Seward —still living in Bethlehem township—who had just attained his majority. In 1830, Mr. Seward disposed of it to James Van Winkle, and, a short time afterward, Ebenezer Seward obtained possession of it. He sold it to Mr. Pease, of Dresden, who proposed removing it further down the stream and adding a grist-mill; but he failed in business before carrying out the project, and the property reverted to Mr. Seward. He resold it to Jesse Ryan, and the mill soon after went down.
A saw-mill was built on Tomica creek, by Frederick Zellers, in 1833, and the next year a flour-mill was added. It is still in operation, known as the Gault mill. It has two run of buhrs, a good stone dam, and produces an excellent grade of flour.
Daniel Ashcraft was the first settler in the township, settling upon the southwest quarter of section 22 in 1808. He was from the vicinity of Cheat river, Pennsylvania, and moved West with his son-in-law, Thomas McKee. The journey was made as far as Zanesville by water. Mr. Ashcraft and McKee constructed a large boat about twenty by forty feet in size, freighted it with their families, furniture, teams, iron, etc., and launched it on Cheat river, whence it proceeded safely down the Ohio to Marietta. It was too unwieldy an affair to get up to Zanesville, and Mr. Ashcraft came to that place and engaged three keel-boats to bring up his goods. The teams were brought up by land. From Zanesville he proceeded on the road leading west to the neighborhood of Frazersburg, and leaving his heaviest goods there, packed the most necessary articles on his horses through the wilderness, to his future home. A bark camp was hastily constructed and served as a temporary place of shelter. Mr. Ashcraft was an excellent mechanic, and could turn his hand to almost anything. He had a large family, and his boys, Jonathan, Jacob, Jesse, Elijah and Daniel, were of great service in clearing up the land. He brought over his blacksmith tools as soon as he arrived, and soon had a little, log-cabin built which he occupied several years, then built a larger hewed-log house, a very palace in those days. A whip-saw was brought from Zanesville to prepare the necessary lumber for this building. In connection with his blacksmithing, he carried on a cooper-shop, and soon had a tannery also started on his place. When the Newark road was opened, and the country round about began to be peopled with emigrants, he provided entertainment at his house for those who required it, a meal thus costing the stranger twelve and a half cents, and lodging six and a quarter cents. While the country upon all sides was still one vast wilderness, this farm had already become greatly improved.
Jonathan Ashcraft, still surviving at this writing, in his ninetieth year, turned the first furrow of ground in the township with his rude plow. Seeds for an apple and peach orchard were planted at once, and in a few years fruit was had in abundance. Mr. Ashcraft served on the frontier for a few months in the war of 1812, in a company commanded by Captain Wilson, of Licking county. He continued to reside in this township, engaged in the quiet pursuits of farm life, till he died at a good old age. Thomas McKee, his son-in-law, settled in the vicinity of Mt. Vernon, but years afterward moved to this county.
Very soon after the arrival of Ashcraft, Payne Clark entered the township. He came from Fauquier county, Virginia, and settled upon the southeast quarter of section 12. He was a veritable Nimrod at the chase, and, gun in hand, spent much time in the game-abounding forest. He was also a practical surveyor, and in this capacity was of great service to his neighbors. About 1832 he removed to Greene county, Indiana.
Thomas Hardesty came about 1812, and entered the southwest quarter of section 19. He was from Maryland, and spent his youth upon the sea, where he acquired the hardiness and recklessness of a sailor. In 1811 he emigrated with his brother, Edmund Hardesty, to Washington township. He remained there only a year or two, and came to this township. He remained a resident of the township for a number of years, but never became skilled in the use of his gun. A favorite occupation was the making of maple sugar. He eventually removed to Greene county, Indiana.
It was not until 1814 that settlers began to arrive in any number. In that year Pierce Noland came to the township, and entered the northwest quarter of section 11. He was originally from the Virginia banks of the Potomac, and came to Coshocton county in 1811, living for three years nine miles up the Tuscarawas river from Coshocton, at the mouth of White Eyes creek. In his early days he was a traveling merchant in Virginia, but since he became a resident of this county he followed farming exclusively. He died in 1834, at the age of fifty-seven years.
It was about this year that James and John Bryan, two brothers, settled here. As the name indicates, they were Irish. John was born in Ireland and James on the briny ocean, as his parents were on their way to the new country. The two boys entered the northwest quarter of section 12. James was a noted character in his day, was perhaps best known as the local poet of this community. He possessed an abundance of native Irish wit and was an inveterate rhymer. His caustic verses were an ever-availing weapon against those who incurred his enmity, and were always highly appreciated by those at whom they were not aimed. He was reared a Catholic, but did not hold firm allegiance to any church. He was as fond of whisky as he was of versifying. He was by trade a molder, and during winter was often employed at Moore's furnace, a few miles east of Newark. He finally removed to Indianola, Iowa, where he died.
David Moore, a cooper by trade, from near Hagerstown, Maryland, and James Thompson, from near Cumberland, Maryland, came out in 1814, and entered the southwest quarter of section 12. Mr. Thompson spent the remainder of his life in the township, but Mr. Moore sold his property and removed to Vinton county.
David Knowles, about 1813, settled in the eastern part of section 19. William Clark, a Virginian, about 1816, entered and settled upon the southwest quarter of section 10. About the same time, Joseph Cheney, from Maryland, settled upon the southeast quarter of section 22. About 1814, Joshua Lemart, from Fauquier county, Virginia, settled upon the northeast quarter of section 12. He had lived for a short time previous in Washington township. He died in Muskingum county. Adam Gault, from Pennsylvania, came in about 1816, settling upon the southeast quarter of section 2. He died in 1846.
Eli Seward moved with his family in the fall of 1815 from Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, to the Cass section, in the northern part of Muskingum county, remained there a year, and in February, 1817, settled upon a quarter section in the western part of this township. In the spring of 1816 his brother, Ebenezer Seward, James Chapin and John Taylor, emigrated from the same county in Pennsylvania.
George Lynch, a Pennsylvanian, moved about 1816 to the northwest quarter of section 19. He erected a blacksmith shop here and divided his attention between the shop and field. Years after he removed to Hardin county. Spencer Lake emigrated about the same time from Fauquier county, Virginia, and remained a farmer of this township the rest of his life. William Henderson, a blacksmith and afterward a dealer in stock, came about 1816 from Belmont county. About 1817 Samuel Perkins, from Pennsylvania, entered the tract upon which West Carlisle is now situated. Augustine White came in 1818 from Virginia. Alexander Graham, also from Pennsylvania, came to the township in 1819; he died in July, 1844. About this time John Rine, a Marylander, who had served in the war of 1812, moved in.
The tax duplicate for 1821 shows the following additional names as resident property-holders. As land did not become taxable till after it had been entered five years, some, if not all, of these settlers were probably here as early as 1816: George Crawford, the southeast quarter of section 23, and east half of section 21; Francis Crawford, the northeast quarter of section 24; Richard Goodwin, the north part of the southeast quarter of section 6; John McNabb, the northwest quarter of section 2; John Perdew, the northeast quarter of section 1; Kimble Rakestraw, a Virginian, the northwest quarter of section 17; John Robinson, also a Virginian, the southeast quarter of section 15; Jesse Rine, brother to John Rine, from Frederick county, Maryland, the south part of the southeast quarter of section 5; Asa B. Snyder, the northeast quarter of section 9; William Wright, from Virginia, a local surveyor, and by trade a wheel-wright, the northeast quarter of section 22.
The only vestige of Indian habitation which existed when the early settlers came to the township, was a rickety shanty, which stood near the mouth of Winding Fork, and was known as Slab Camp. It was, a three-sided little hut, one end being entirely open, and about ten by twelve feet in size. It was frequently occupied by hunters, after the Indians had abandoned it, as a sleeping place, and whenever so used, a fire must be built across the open end, to prevent the entrance of wild animals.
Wild game was abundant for a number of years, and many are the bear stories which the few remaining pioneers tell of the times which are now gone forever. There is room for only one. Richard Meek, who settled early on the northwest quarter of section 22, went visiting one day with his wife, leaving Samuel, scarcely fifteen years old, and his younger sisters at home. They amused themselves during their parents' absence by springing saplings in the woods. After a while Sam thought he espied a bear behind a fallen log. He told the little girls to watch the place while he ran to the house for his father's gun. He soon returned with the weapon, which was so heavy he could scarcely carry it, and lying down on the ground, he laid the cumbersome weapon across a log, took deliberate aim, and fired. The ball sped true to the mark, and the bear fell dead. Running up to it, he drew out a butcher knife and stabbed it in old hunter fashion; then went to the stable for horses and sled, and by dint of perseverance managed to get the bear on the sled and home just as his parents returned. It was an unusually large animal, weighing more than 600 pounds.