Washington was one of the townships existing at the time the county was organized. It was named by Mordecai Chalfant. It belongs to the southern tier of townships touching Muskingum county on the south. Bedford township bounds it on the north, Virginia on the east and Pike on the west. That part of it which is congress land—all but, the southwest quarter—was surveyed by John Matthews. The military section was surveyed into 100-acre lots by William Cutbush, in 1808.
The general trend of the streams is southward. Sand fork and Paddy fork flow by irregular courses from north to south through the whole township. They meet near the southern line and a little lower down, though still in this township, they unite with Mill fork, which enters from Virginia township. Lash's run is a tributary of Paddy fork in the southern part of the township from the west. The soil is chiefly of a clayey nature, the surface rough and rolling. Much attention is given to peach culture by the farmers of this township. The land seems admirably adapted for their growth, and a large orchard may be seen on almost every farm in the township.
The early township records have seemingly perished.
A list of the justices of the peace, however, has been preserved, the earliest of whom were as follows:
Chalfant Methodist Episcopal church is the oldest religious society in the county, and it erected the first church building within the limits of the county. It was organized on the Cass section, in Muskingum county, about 1808, by Rev. William Ellington, who became the first pastor. About 1811, it was determined to erect a house of worship, and the site of the present church, in the northwest corner of Mordecai Chalfant's section, was selected as the spot whereon to build it. The contract for building it was let to William Barcus, who afterward removed to Roscoe, then living in this vicinity, and, in 1811, it was begun. Before it was finished, Mr. Barcus was called to serve his country, in the frontier army, and the building remained unfinished, in consequence, until 1815. Mr. Ellington was succeeded as pastor by Revs. James Patterson, James B. Finley, Elisha Bowman and Samuel Parker, successively. Among the earliest members were Mr. Young, Peter Reasoner and wife, Daniel Johnson (colored), Francis Stafford, Peter Camp, Eli McClain and Mordecai Chalfant. Nearly all the original members were from Muskingum «ounty. The old meeting-house, a hewed-log structure, stood until 1849, when it was replaced by the building now in use, which is a frame, thirty by forty feet in size. It was built by Jacob Croy, who took the contract for $500, and, it is said, lost money by the operation. The church was repaired about ten years ago. This society has sent out into the ministry sixteen preachers. The membership is about 125. The present pastor is A. P. Jones.
A Sunday-school was started about 1822 and has been in operation with a fair degree of regularity ever since. During the early period of the church's history preaching was held entirely on "week days " and Sunday was given wholly to the Sunday-school. The members would start to the school early in the morning, taking their dinners with them, and remain in session all day. The present superintendent of the school is Mathias Slaughter. Unlike most country Sunday- schools it is conducted throughout the entire year. The average attendance is about seventy-five.
Tomika Regular Baptist church, situated one fourth mile north of the township center, was organized January 5, 1828, by Elder Amos Mix, at the house of William R. Thompson with but three members—James Brooks, Elizabeth Brooks and John Howell. At this meeting, however, William R. Thompson and Sarah and Mary Thompson were received into the newly-made organization. Several years later a log church was built and in 1845 the present frame building capable of seating from three to four hundred persons, was erected. The membership at that time was seventy-five. At present it is sixty. The pastors who have performed ministerial service for the congregation from its organization to the present are as follows: A. Mix, J. Frey, Sr., William Mears, L. L. Root, L. Gilbert, H. Sampson, J. Frey, Jr., S. West, R. R. Whitaker, B. Allen, E. B. Smith, J. W. Reed, A. W. Odor, E. Frey, J. C. Skinner, S. C. Tussing, John Wright and L. K. Mears.
The present Sunday-school was organized in 1872, with James M. Smith as superintendent. The present superintendent is David Frey. The school is kept open during the whole year. The membership is small, but the school is in good working condition.
The above two churches are the only active societies now in the township. Within a few years the Valley Methodist Protestant church has declined. The house of worship stands in the southwestern part of the township, on the north line of lot 22. The class was organized in the spring of 1859, in the school-house, by Rev. Jeremiah Biddeson. During the autumn of the same year the church was built, and dedicated in December, 1859, by Rev. Israel Thrapp, who was stationed on this circuit with Rev. Biddeson. The building is a frame, thirty by forty feet, and cost $800. Kinzey Fulks, who was the first leader, Cyrus McFarland, Wesley D. Richcreek, John Toothman and John Lash were principal early members. The last regular pastor was Rev. Samuel Scott. The decline of the church was due to removals and deaths. A prosperous Sunday-school was connected with the church.
A congregation of Presbyterians was organized as early as 1825, perhaps some years earlier. Rev. James Cunningham, of Utica, held the first services. A log church was built first, and afterward a frame, which is still standing, nearly two miles northeast of Wakatomica, on the Newark road. Among the early members were John Pollock, Nancy Gibson, John and Joseph Mossman, Daniel McCurdy, John Crawford and John McFarland. The society continued until a short time after the war. Political dissensions was one of the main causes of its decline.
The first school-house stood on the present Lemuel Kinzey place, northeast quarter of section 18. It was a little cabin of the usual primitive style, built without nails or iron of any shape. John Hilliard, a Yankee, was the first teacher. His first term was held in 1811. He is described as an excellent teacher, one who took great pains to instruct his pupils in the rudiments of learning, and they advanced rapidly under his care. He was succeeded by Joseph Harris, another Yankee, whose instruction fell far short of the standard maintained by his predecessor. Schools at this time were held very irregularly. The next one of which there is any knowledge was held by Abraham McClain in a dwelling house about 1816. He was deficient in point of education and little progress was made by the children under him. Then a school house was built on the southwest quarter of section 19 east of the road and within a few rods of Thomas Hardesty's house. Bradley Squires, one of the first settlers, taught the first two quarters here between the years 1815 and 1820. He was well qualified for the position, possessing a good education and the art of communicating knowledge to his scholars. Peter Remington followed him. He was from Rhode Island; taught one term only, was a fair instructor, and prided himself on his mathematical abilities. Robert Reed, a Pennsylvanian, came next. He was something of a fop and succeeded tolerably well in his pedagogical capacity. Soon school-houses began to multiply and the schools were held with more regularity thereafter.
The first road through the township was the Owl creek road, which entered the township from Muskingum county, in section 22, and running northwest through the center of the township, crossed into Bedford township from section 4. Very soon after the Newark road was opened. It crossed the other road at Wakatomica, and the two roads thus cut the township into four nearly equal parts.
The township contains no village and but a single postoffice. This is Wakatomica, situated exactly in the center of the township. Although no village plat was ever made of the land, there is quite a little Chester of houses here, and it, perhaps, deserves the name of a village. A store has been kept at the place for about thirty years. It was started by Charles Houser, who retained it perhaps five or six years, since then it has been owned by a number of men successively. Isaac Piersel purchased it about two years ago and still has possession. The various industrial shops common to a small place like this may be found here. A large building was erected by Darius Wright about 1857, and occupied by him for a blacksmith and wagon shop. The manufacture of wagons was carried on quite extensively for a while, but ten or twelve years ago Mr. Wright removed to Warsaw and the shop was closed. Stewart McGinnis is the postmaster.
The first mill in the township, and one of the first in the county, was built by George Smith, on Paddy run, in lot 4, in the year 1812. It was a little affair, and remained in operation about twelve years, during which time it was patronized by settlers far and near. John Walmesley, from Franklin township, and others equally remote in other directions, were regular customers. Mr. Smith also excavated a race for a saw-mill, but before it reached completion the high waters during a freshet cut so deeply into the banks of the trench as to make it impracticable to restore it, and the project had to be abandoned.
Jacob Croy built the first saw-mill, about 1814, on Mill creek, in the southwest quarter of section 21. The location was a poor one, for the water washed around the dam and destroyed its power. It lasted but a year or two. Many years later he erected another further down the stream on the same quarter. It proved a success and was operated for a long time. James Aikens built the second mill of this kind about 1815. It was situated on Paddy run, northwest quarter of section 22. A few years after, he erected a grist mill at the same place and ran the two in conjunction for a number of years, then sold to Robert Mossman, under whom they were suspended. As the township developed, other mills were started in different localities. William Bell, about 1839, built a grist-mill up Sand Fork, on the southwest quarter of section 10. It had but one run of stone and, soon after it started, acquired an excellent reputation for the quality of its flour. Mr. Stanford and Mr. Parks each owned a saw-mill for a time. Peter Lash built a little mill on lot 9, about 1818, which lasted only a year or two.
William R. Thompson, on the southeast quarter of section 13, built a combined grist, saw and carding-mill. He sold it to Benjamin Slaughter, and he, in turn, to Newman Smith. Uriah Kinzey erected the first carding and fulling-mill in the township, about 1827. It did good work and was highly appreciated by the people, who came a great distance to get their wool carded here. It remained running about fifteen years.
Probably the first still-house was set in operation by William Hunter, about 1815, on the southwest quarter of section 22. It was kept up about thirty years. Somewhat later, William Thompson erected one on the southwest quarter of section eight. He paid a great deal of attention to the distillation of peach brandy, having a large peach orchard on his place, and converting most of the fruit into this beverage. Bradley Squires, about 1824, built himself a little distillery, and, during the ten or twelve ensuing years, manufactured a considerable quantity of rye whisky.
A little Indian camp, consisting of a few wigwams, stood, when the first white men came to the township, in the northeast quarter of section 7, on the Hawthorn place, on the flat a short distance west of Mr. Hawthorn's house, close to Paddy run. Big Horn was the ruling spirit here, and the place was often visited by traders.
The first settler of the tract of country now composing this township, was John Hardesty. He was orginally from Maryland, and about 1804 came from Wheeling, Virginia, and settled on the southeast quarter of section 22, the quarter through which Mill fork flows into Muskingum county. He was a powerful man, physically, and his good dame was by no means diminutive in stature. Their family consisted of sixteen children, ten sons and six daughters, whose aggregate weight, it is said, exceeded 3,200- pounds. Mr. Hardesty was a regular frontiersman, and kept moving with the tide of emigration westward while his years admitted. He sold his farm in this township to William P. Compton, and died some years ago in St. Louis. Most of his family preceded or followed him to the West, Two grand-children still reside in the township, Patrick Hunter and Mrs. Paulina McElwell.
Mordecai Chalfant was the second pioneer of the township. In 1803 he emigrated from Fayette county, Pennsylvania, to what is now Perry county, Ohio. He remained there about four years, and in March, 1808, he moved to this township, settling upon the southwest quarter of section 20. This quarter had been selected by Rev. Ellington, of Muskingum county, with a view to settlement, but in a spirit of accommodation was yielded by him to Mr. Chalfant. His third son, John Chalfant, still occupies a portion of the section, and is the oldest resident in the township. He was born October, 1807, being four months old at the time his father came here. Mr. Chalfant was a prominent citizen of the county in its earliest days. He was one of the first county commissioners, serving in this capacity seven years, and was an associate judge of the county for fourteen years. He died at Columbus in January, 1846, aged sixty-five years.
Jacob Croy, from Wheeling, Virginia, soon after—in the spring of 1808—settled upon the southwest quarter of section 21. His descendants are still represented here.
George Smith, a Virginian, about 1810, settled upon lot 4 of the military section. About the same time, Frederick Woolford and Peter Lash came. The former settled upon lot 2, the latter upon lot 10. Francis Stafford, who had been living in Muskingum county, settled upon the southwest quarter of section 12 about the year 1810. Joseph Harris, a little later, settled on the southeast quarter of section 13. James Williams, settling upon the northwest quarter of section 10, and Bradley Squires, a Vermonter, were both here before 1811. In that year Edward Hardesty came from Maryland and located the south half of section 19. He afterward removed to Illinois, and there died. His son, Thomas Hardesty, still occupies the southwest quarter of this section.
On the tax duplicate for 1820, are the names of quite a number of resident land holders in this township, showing it must have settled up rapidly from 1812 to 1815.
These, with the lands they owned, and date of arrival as nearly as it can be determined, are herewith given, excepting the families previously noticed.
James Aikens, from Pennsylvania, in 1815, settled upon the northwest quarter of section 22;
Noah Cooper, the northeast quarter of the same section.
Peter Camp, from Virginia, first owned this quarter. He emigrated about 1812, but afterward sold to Cooper, and removed elsewhere.
Solomon Exline owned the northwest quarter of section 5;
John Kassner, emigrating about 1812, to the northeast quarter of section 23;
Thomas and William Hunter, the southwest quarter of section 22;
Ulysses Kinzey, the northeast quarter of section 18;
Joseph McMorris, the southeast quarter of section 21;
Robert McLaughlin, the northeast quarter of section 10;
Eli McClain, a Virginian, about 1813, the southwest quarter of section 10;
William McClain, part of the northwest quarter of section 19;
John Mossman, who came from Pennsylvania about 1810, and died some thirty years later, at the age of seventy-two years, the southeast quarter of 20, and northeast, of 21;
James McConnell, the southeast quarter of section 18;
James Pierce, Jr., the northeast quarter of 14;
Jonathan Phillips the southwest quarter of 3;
Henry Rine, the northeast of 5;
Joseph Slaughter, from Virginia, about 1812, northwest quarter of section 19.
On the military section, forming the southwest quarter of the township, were the following:
William Q. Conner, from Virginia, about 1813, parts of lots 2, 3 and 8;
William Downs, lot 23, and part of 37;
Isaac Holloway, about 1813, lot 12;
John Holloway, from North Carolina, lot 19;
Daniel Johnson, a colored man, who had been a slave, and was brought here by his master, lot 28;
David Meek, about 1814, south half of lot 2;
George Meek, lot 24;
Ann Meek, lot 38;
William Ogle, lot 34;
James and William Pierce, lot 7.