LOGAN COUNTY was organized in the year 1818. Its boundaries were upon the north not well defined, and upon the east, also, there were points of uncertainty.
Originally, the county was divided into four townships. These townships were represented by four oblong square portions of territory, extending from the southern limits of the county to the northern. These original four townships of Logan County were called: upon the west, Miami; Lake, farther east; Jefferson, still farther east; and again, at the extreme eastern part of the county, Zane.
Our business here is with Lake Township. The original boundary of Lake Township is thus given: "The Township of Lake to commence at the southeast corner of said Township of Miami; thence eastward with the county line to the southeast corner of Section No. 27, Town. 5, Range 13; thence north to the county line; thence west with the county line, to the northeast corner of Miami Township; thence south to the place of beginning." This township received its name from a beautiful lake that was within its original boundaries. This lake was first called "Blaylock's Lake," afterwards "Spencer's Lake," from a member of the Spencer family who for a time lived upon and owned the surrounding land. It is now known as "Silver Lake." But the time arrived when the lake was to be associated no longer with the township to which it had afforded a name. It is now in Harrison Township, which was taken off of Lake in the year 1832. But the disintegration of Lake Township commenced.
* Contributed by Dr. T. L. Wright.
In the year 1820, Union Township was organized, 18th of April, 1820. Our authority says that the County Commissioners, upon the petition of a number of the residents of the southern part of Lake Township, set off the Township of Union, and ordered an election to be held for choosing Township officers. In the year 1832, Union was itself divided, its eastern border becoming the Township of Liberty. Harrison, also, in the year 1832, was organized, at the expense of Lake Township, from territory being upon the west of that township as it now stands. Anterior to that—March 5, 1823—McArthur Township was taken off of the northern portion of Lake, as Union was previously taken from the southern portion. McArthur was itself subsequently divided; the Township of Richland being formed from its most northerly portion. Thus Lake Township now remains, in point of territorial area, the smallest of the Townships of Logan County. It is bounded on the north by McArthur, on the east by Jefferson, on the south by Liberty, and on the west by Harrison Townships.
Lake Township is about two miles wide east and west, but extends between six and seven miles north and south, and is in shape an oblong square. The surface is diversified. Upon the whole, it may be described as roiling. No broken land is to be found, although it is in some parts hilly, particularly in the northern section. The southern limits of the township begin, especially in the southwestern quarter, to subside into the rich and level lands which characterize Union Township and Champaign County.
The soil varies in character according as the land is hilly or Hat; but it is all productive, no "barren" land existing in Lake Township. The uplands are generally of a yellowish clay, mixed with more or loss debris of disintegrated limestone, and they are good lands for almost any crop, but are peculiarly adapted to the production of wheat and kindred grains. Between the rising lands lie rich valleys of varying extent, of dark vegetable soil, lying upon and near to grand beds of limestone. The soil of these level tracts is remarkably well adapted to the production of Indian corn, hay, potatoes and other succulent growths. All the soil belonging to this township is richly permeated with limestone gravel, or limestone sand, giving to it strength, durability and permanency. The action of the drift era, which left its marks so plainly upon the region of country in which Lake Township is situated, has enriched the surface of these lands, wherever underlaid by slate, with this fine lime sediment, so that such lands form no exception to the general value and productiveness of the soil. In addition to several valuable deposits of magnesium limestone, in Lake and adjoining Townships, affording excellent material for building various structures requiring stone and lime, there are a large number of deposits, some of them extensive, of line, clear gravel. This material is being utilized in making a system of good roads or free turnpikes throughout the township, and, indeed, throughout the county. Often these deposits are found in ridges, or mound-like elevations; but sometimes they lie under level fields, whence the gravel may be taken, after stripping off one or two feet of soil. A very great advantage attending the presence of these gravelly deposits is found in their influence iii equalizing the amount of moisture in seasons of drought, or extreme rain-fall. W hen an excess of rain scalds and ruins crops underlaid with tough and impermeable clay, the water filters down into the gravelly deposits in the region of country now under consideration. When, on the other hand, dry, hot summers parch the crops in a soil placed upon a clayey basis, the same gravelly deposits give up their superabundant moisture. The clay found in some localities is the yellow aluminum clay. It is considerably permeated with limestone pellets, and is not of the best quality for making bricks or tileing, although it is used to some extent in the manufacture of these articles. Several times whispered rumors of the discovery of precious metals, and especially of silver, have been wafted to and fro. "Specimens" have actually been exhibited in a confidential way. Strict examination has failed thus far to materialize any facts. The probable truth is, that all such so-called specimens have been simple amalgamations and alloys coming from the skilful and industrious bauds of the artisan, whose labors were chiefly performed at night, and in out-of-the-way places, and whose productions have a marked resemblance to the metallic currency of the American Republic. Counterfeiting was undoubtedly one of the industries carried on in Lake Township in times past, but the business has been of so recent a date, and the facts concerning it are of so hazy and undefined a character, that it would be inexpedient to pretend to fix and localize its operations. A considerable portion of the surface of this township was covered more or less thickly with bowlders called "nigger heads," granite rocks, varying in weight from several tons to a few pounds. To clean the land of these intruders, dropped by melting icebergs idly floating from the frozen regions of the north, was a task of mi small dimensions. The most successful manner of removing them was first to cut a large forked limb from a tree; then cutting the two blanches off, four or five feet from the point of their junction, there remained a piece of timber, harrow-shaped in its outline, or, as it might be called, V shaped. In the spring time, while the ground was slippery and icy, this implement, only five or six inches in height, and called "lizzard," was hauled by chains fastened to its closed end, alongside of the boulders in the field. By the aid of a lever, the stone was easily rolled upon the sliding vehicle and dragged away to some place of common deposit. These stones laid quite superficially, and they are now very generally cleared away.
The flora of any country is one index of its intrinsic character and value. There are so many agencies at work in building up this element that it may be determined pretty accurately from the flora of a district whether these agencies, seen and unseen, are of a beneficial nature, and whether they are or are not of a sufficiently desirable and permanent kind to be reliable and worthy of confidence as promising continuance. The forests of Lake Township were not only diversified in a remarkable degree, but they were of peculiar luxuriance. Yet this is no more than might be expected, from the sketch already given of the character of the soil and of its substratum. The larger forest trees were the 'White Oak and Black Oak; the Hickory, of several varieties; the Ash, the Beech, commingled with which were the Linden, the Walnut and Maple, and not infrequently, upon the lower lands, the magnificent and towering Elm. These were the larger forest trees. From the Maple was derived an excellent sugar, and from the Linden, aided by various sweet-scented shrubs, came, through the laborious industry of the bees, most delicious honey, for the bloom of the Linden tree is famous for the purity and perfection of its honey-bearing qualities. To the royal company of these trees, not infrequently the Poplar, with its magnificent flowers, lent dignity and taste. Underneath this great forest another growth of trees, scarcely less interesting, sprang up in rich profusion. There were the Dogwood, the Ironwood, the Haw, and the Plum; together with the younger members of the great forest giants, gathering strength and size with each advancing year. And beneath these again were found various vines and bushes, as the Grape, the Gooseberry, the Blackberry, the Raspberry, and the Hazel, almost without limit; and after these came the wild strawberry, and in many lowlands cranberries were found in great abundance.
The larger trees, with the different aspects of their several kinds, with their varying shades of green, and form of leaf, afforded a most pleasing view as they displayed their foliage in the Springtime. In the Autumn, the innumerable tints which glowed amongst the leaves—red, yellow, brown, purple and crimson—gave a charm to forest scenery unknown and unappreciable to those who have not felt the soft, voluptuous breath of Indian Summer. The smaller growth of trees in the forest—the Dogwood, Redbud, Haw and Plum especially—afforded, by their splendid combination of coloring, and their intrinsic beauty while flowering, a most agreeable and alluring appearance. The Wild Grape, Sweet Haw, and Sweet-brier lent delicious odors to the ambient air, and helped to give character, in their way, to the land. But even here there were exceptions. The most beautiful, almost, of the Haw tribe of flowering trees, in respect to visual appearance, was unpleasant in odor. This is a general description of the flora of Lake Township, but in practical fact certain explanations are proper. In the northern portion of the township, the Beech tree predominated, with, of course, admixtures of Hickory, Oak and Ash. In the middle part of the township a mixture of all the prevailing kind of timber takes place, with here and there a predominance of Maple or Sugar tree-. enough to form an occasional sugar camp, which, especially in later times, became a limited center of sugar production. In the southern portion of Lake, Oak is the prevailing forest tree; and this tree is, taking everything into consideration, the lord of the forest.
The productions of the ancient forest of Lake Township were numerous and important. The mast and nuts were the food of innumerable squirrels and various kinds of birds. They served, also, not only for food to man himself, but they offered an abundance of food for the hogs and sheep of the pioneer. Hogs living upon the mast of the oak, the hickory and the beech, afforded a sweeter and more delicately flavored ham, according to the judgment of Thomas Jefferson, than those fattened upon corn. At all events, the products of the forest yielded an abundant supply for the swine of the early settler. Hogs, after receiving some mark by which their ownership could be determined, were turned loose in the woods to shift for themselves. Ere long they became so wild and fierce that wolves were glad to give them a wide berth. Not only were squirrels and many other animals lit for food brought into the country by the products of the native forest, but the pleasant shade, the abundant water, and the multitude of small and secluded prairies, luxuriant with the sweetest grass, invited the deer to take up its abode. The abundance of this species of game, for many years after the white man began to spoil the works of nature and substitute his own, was something wonderful. And Bruin, too, not infrequently came for his feast of wild grapes and plums, whose superabundance was incredible. The sweet tooth of the black bear, like that of the small boy, did not fail of sometimes getting him into trouble, either with the bees, whose treasures he coveted, or with the sturdy pioneer, his rival in the pursuit of sweets.
Mention has several times been made of plums, grapes, wild apples, and several kinds of berries. The plum was of different degrees of excellence. Sometimes one plum orchard,-or "plum thicket," as it was called, would produce several grades of fruit. Some were small, and, toward the pit, quite astringent; others large, yellow, flecked with red spots, and quite sweet and agreeable. These plums were, upon the whole, not equal to most varieties of the cultivated and improved fruit, but they possessed many useful and agreeable properties. The same may be said of the immense crop of wild grapes. There were many varieties of different degrees of excellence, but all inferior to the higher qualities of the improved article. The crab-apple was a fruit that at first sight no one would think of using, but, cooked with honey, it made a most delicious preserve, and was highly prized. So, also, of the intensely acid gooseberry and cranberry. Honey was very abundant. The population for a number of years was sparse, while the forest range was great, and the cabin of the early settler not infrequently boasted of a barrel or more of wild honey. This was copiously used to preserve the several varieties of fruit and berries that the native forest afforded.
In the animal kingdom, or the fauna, associated with the primitive forest of Lake Township, it must not be supposed there were no drawbacks; that everything was perfectly serene. Innocence and helplessness, paradoxical as it may appear, develop craft and savagery, not only amongst the human family, but equally amongst the brute creation. The harmless deer invited the presence and intensified the viciousness of the wolf and panther. Wolves, panthers and wild cats abounded, and the smaller pests, as the fox, weasel and pole-cat, wrought sad havoc in the barn-yard. One of the greatest trials of the early settler was brought upon him by the
mosquito, a most insignificantly appearing insect, but one which has caused more wicked speech than all the elephants and tigers of India. Added to this plague, which was only bearable when enveloped in the strangling smoke of the "smudge," were the horse-fly, a terrible insect, of large proportions, which tormented horses and cattle into a state of frenzy; and serpents of various species, and many other minor pests of great perversity. The "smudge" alluded to consisted of thick smoke given off by damp chips put upon live coals, which was placed in front of the cabin door in the summer evening, and sometimes within the dwelling itself. The remedy was severe, but preferable to the stinging and the singing of the assiduous mosquito. Many of the destructive vermin of the time atoned in some measure for their depredations upon chickens, young pigs, &c, with their pelts. The skin of the muskrat, fox, coon, and other troublesome "varments," as they were called in the vernacular of the time, were eagerly sought, and brought considerable revenue to the trapper. In times a little later than that of the true pioneer, the root of the ginseng was dug from the hill-sides and traded in the local stores for general merchandise. This article, commonly called "sang," found a ready market in the east, but for what specific purpose is not so clear. Several considerable streams of water traverse Lake Township. Upon the north, barely touching the township, in one or two springs or fountains, is found the source of Cherokee Man's Run, commonly called Cherokee Creek. This is a considerable stream, belonging more to McArthur Township than to Lake. It pursues a tortuous, northwesterly course, and empties into the Miami River, just as it emerges from the Lewistown Reservoir. Lower down is the Flat Branch of the Buckongehelas. It takes its rise in the northeastern portion of the Township of Lake, and, taking first a westerly and then a southwesterly course, it becomes, after receiving important additions in the neighborhood of the County Infirmary, the Buckongehelas proper. Farther south, and about the middle of the township, is found Tucker's Run, also a fine stream. It rises in Jefferson Township, and, pursuing a southwesterly course, joins the Buckongehelas about a mile and a quarter below the County Infirmary. Tucker's Run and the Flat Branch may be regarded as the two forks, which, coming together, form the main stream known as the Buckongehelas. About three-quarters of a mile east of Bellefontaine, are the head waters of a large creek, called Blue Jacket. The general direction taken by this stream is also towards the southwest, and it joins Buckongehelas about six miles a little southwest of Bellefontaine. At the southern extremity of the township, a large stream known as McKee's Creek flows through its southeast corner. This water enters into the Miami River a short distance below DeGraff, and below the point where the Buckongehelas enters the same stream. McKee's Creek takes the name of Stony Creek in the latter portion of its course. It will hence be perceived that all the waters of Lake Township tend westward, and find their outlets in the Miami River. These, with the exception of Tucker's Run and Flat Branch, which are merely head waters of the Buckongehelas, are all valuable streams, affording power for a multitude of mills of various kinds, but of late years chiefly grist mills.
Cherokee Creek was named from a solitary Cherokee Indian, who had, it seems, expatriated himself from his home in the South, and dwelt upon its banks. Buckongehelas was a noted Delaware Indian Chief, and gave his name to the stream upon which he lived. Blue Jacket's Town once occupied the site of Bellefontaine. Blue Jacket, himself, was a well known Shawnee Chief, who lived, according to tradition, upon the southwestern declivity of the elevation upon which Bellefontaine is built, His cabin was a few yards northeast of the spot where the C. C. C. & I. Round House now stands, and in the immediate vicinity of several fine springs. Blue Jacket was one of the leaders in the Indian campaign in the northwest, which resulted in the defeat of the Indians at the battle of "The Fallen Timber," in the year 1794. The stream which crosses the West Liberty Pike road, near the Fair Ground, was called from him. McKee's Creek is called from a white man, who, in company with one Elliott, had a trading-post in early times upon its banks; this was established and maintained to further British interests. Besides these streams there are innumerable spring branches running in every direction through the township, making Lake Township one of the most charming and productive portions of the land," which, as a whole, is probably the most lovely and desirable the sun shines on.
It is believed that the first permanent white settler in the present limits of Lake Township was John Tullis. There are others who appear to have settled there shortly after. Major Tullis, as he was called, came to Lake Township about the year 1800, or a little earlier. He emigrated from Kentucky. Tullis entered a quarter section of land, the northern line of which corresponds with the middle of Columbus street, in Bellefontaine, which ran, of course, just north of the Public Square. He had a family of several children; one daughter is now living one mile and a half northwest of Bellefontaine, she being the wife of John Smith, Esq., of Harrison Township. The other children have died, or gene to distant parts, and have disappeared from the scenes of their early history. Major Tullis was a man of importance in his day, and was one of the proprietors of the town of Bellefontaine. Henry Shaw was another of the early pioneers of the Township of Lake. His name appears as clerk in the election held in Zane Township in 1800; but there is reason to believe that his residence was at that time a little below West Liberty, on Mad River. Mr. Shaw next settled on a piece of military land in Lake Township, southeast of the site of Bellefontaine. Being deprived of his land by other claimants, he settled upon a place near the location of Hull's Trace, west of the Fair Grounds about half a mile. This was just before the war of 1812. This gentleman left a family, which is widely represented at the present day amongst the respectable citizens of Logan County, and elsewhere. One of his daughters married Capt. William Watson, another married Dr. B. S. Brown, and another married Abednego Davidson, Esq. An early settler in this township was William McCloud. This gentleman was born in Ireland, but came to this country in his youth. He married, in Philadelphia, Elizabeth Boswell, a lady of education and refinement, the marriage being the end of an elopement. McCloud came to Fairfield, Green County, Ohio, where he remained several years. Subsequently he made his way to Zanesfield, Logan County. His name appears on the poll book above quoted, in 1800. He came to the Township of Lake about 1810, and settled a little northwest of Bellefontaine. He was a scout under Capt. William McColloch, during the war of 1812. McCloud was a great 'hunter, of fine appearance, and excellent social qualities. He had a large family, mostly daughters, whose posterity is numerous and wide-spread, and of eminent respectability. His descendants arc found in Wisconsin, Arkansas and California, as well as Ohio. He was a man of influence and value at the period of time in which he lived. He became one of the Associate Judges of the County Court at a later period.
William Powell was another of the early permanent settlers of Lake Township. Ho purchased a tract of land adjoining that of Tullis, and situated north of the public square, in Bellefontaine. Powell was originally from Pennsylvania. He found his way, with his family, to Ohio before the beginning of the present century. Our first knowledge of him is at North Bend, in Hamilton County, Ohio. Here he was employed as a hunter for Gen. Wayne's army, a part of which was being recruited across the Ohio River, in Kentucky. He remained in that locality several years. We next find him in Salem Township, Champaign Co., Ohio, not far from Urbana. Here he also remained several years. Finally, on the 1st of January, 1812, he settled on his land in and near the present locality of Bellefontaine. Powell had a family of ten living children, three of whom were girls. Sallie married Jackson McClure; Nancy married Samuel Carter, and Rachel married Jack Mays. These were fine women and excellent men. In addition to the families enumerated, James McPherson also one of the earliest pioneers, had a fine family. One very handsome and intelligent daughter married Daniel Workman, a prominent man of his time. The McCloud girls married well also. Sallie married the eldest son of William Powell; Lettitia married Dr. A. H. Lord; Betsy married Isaac Miller, and, after his death, Jacob Krouskop; Eliza married Jonah Seaman, and Maria married a man named Handford. There were two or three families coming on a little later, as that of Maj. Reed and others.
It will, therefore, be perceived that between 1812, the year of the war, and 1820, when Bellefontaine was laid out, there was good material present and maturing for the foundation and superstructure of a good and healthy society. For, ignoring altogether the temptation to exaggerate the persons and things of the past, the fact is, that the people above-named would attract attention and challenge admiration in any age or country. There was not a defective nor an ugly person amongst them all. On the contrary, they were large, healthy, intelligent and industrious people. The boys in these families were bold and honorable, but the girls bore the palm. They were really beautiful, honest and wise. And, retrospecting from this point of time, the sum total of the results of life as it befel to these people, it must be confessed that the girls have had the best of it. These men and their families were the leaders, the brains, and the real workers in these old primeval days. But it must not be imagined that there was not another element at hand, and often troublesome at that time, as there is at all times in society. The verge of civilization was sought by outlawed and turbulent persons, who were driven from better established communities. The horse thief, the counterfeiter, shrewd and plausible; the petty pilferer,and uncouth ruffian were not wanting. The better classes, on more occasions than one, were compelled to resort to the whip, and to dire threats, in order to regulate portions of this element. Several families settled in different localities in the neighborhood, who were suspected, and no doubt correctly, of being associated with bands of horse thieves and lawless persons of various kinds. It was not uncommon to find suspicious parties loitering about these places without any ostensible business. Such characters were merely harbored for a time, it was believed, in order that they might run off a horse or two. For their suppression, a band of citizens was organized, with John Workman for Captain. They would seize the obnoxious person, and, tying him up, whip him severely, after which he was suffered to depart, a permission of which the individual seldom failed to avail himself.
The records show that in the year 1805 John Gunn took out a license in Urbana to keep a house of public entertainment. Accordingly, about that time, or shortly afterwards, Gunn established a tavern stand at a large spring on the farm now owned by Henry C. Miller. The location of this tavern was in the northeastern part of the present Township of Liberty. This spring is about 350 yards from the southern limits of Lake Township. It is one of the finest springs in Logan County. Those who have located this tavern and spring upon the farm of Henry Taylor are in error. Mr. Gunn was a Canadian; his business here was to act as agent for certain holders of real estate situated in the neighborhood of his establishment. During the prevalence of the war of 1812, there was, of course, considerable stir in the vicinity now under notice, for it was in the direct track pursued by the American troops, both going to and coming from the seat of hostilities on the northern frontier.
It was about this time that it became evident that a new county would soon be organized, and it was upon a portion of a tract of land for which Gunn was agent that the first town in Lake Township was laid out. It was called Belleville. An attempt was also made to christen, by usage, the nascent county, "Belleville County." This little town was intended for the future county seat. That it was built, if not under the direction, at least with the approbation of Gunn, and in the interests of his employers, is evident from all the circumstances. This seems to be a fair account of the rise of Belleville, and the reasons for it. The town grew up silently during the turmoil of the war.
The old settlers appear to have no very definite idea of the exact date of its origin, or of the precise moment of its demise. It is known, however, that the first and probably the only tavern built in Belleville was owned by Edwin Mathews. George Krouskop came to this country in 1812 or 1813, and he worked upon that building soon afterwards. It would have been difficult to find a worse place for a town in this township. Water, for a wonder, was difficult to obtain, the wells being deep and the water itself of a poor quality. The whole affair was a matter of eight or ten inferior houses. Mathews kept the first public house, and was followed by Garwood and Ballard. One "Dr." Emanuel Host, from Cincinnati, a foreigner by birth, kept a small store, containing a few groceries and notions. Isaac Miller had a saddler shop at the same place. There was no blacksmith shop, nor, so far as recollected, other place of business in the town.
Belleville had a rather hard reputation, upon the whole, and excepting Gunn's it was the only centre of common congregation in the neighborhood. In its latter days, it was the place of holding county court a few times. There was a great deal of fighting and quarreling, as well as dog-fighting, race-running and other rude pastimes indulged in there. This village dwindled away very soon after Bellefontaine was laid out. A small frame house belonging to Isaac Miller was hauled bodily to Bellefontaine, and the other buildings were deserted and suffered to decay. Belleville was situated about a quarter of a mile south, and a little east of the floral hall on the county fair grounds.
There was very little to boast of in the way of public roads in the period of time anterior to the settlement of Bellefontaine. There was but one main road in the Township of Lake that was worthy of the name, previous to the organization of the county. There were various paths or trails leading from one Indian settlement to another. These trails were worn deeply by much travel. Some traces of them can even yet be discovered, especially leading east from the region of Gunn's old tavern to Zanesfield. The Indians would ride usually about forty feet
apart in strict Indian file. In this way the hindmost Indian would escape the rebound of the bending branches of overhanging trees, after the foremost rider had thrust them forward from him. The principal road came from Urbana, and passed through this county in a northerly direction. Coming into the neighborhood of Lake Township, it crossed MeKee's Creek a few feet west of the point where that stream is spanned by the Cincinnati, Sandusky & Cleveland Railroad bridge. It continued almost directly north till it approached the western side of the Round Prairie. Here it divided. One branch skirted the southern and southeastern edge of that prairie, and continued in a northeasterly direction until it reached Gunn's tavern. It j then made an abrupt turn to the north, a little west, to the town of Belleville.
The other branch of the road continued up the western side of the Round Prairie, and, after pursuing a northerly direction nearly a mile, it turned easterly and joined the former , road in the village of Belleville. The roads being united, proceeded north across the fair j grounds, crossing the Blue Jacket, at the point where Cook's old mill improvement stands. After fairly raising the hill, it turned to the northwest, following the ridge a few yards north of Judge West's house. It continued in that direction until it crossed the C. C. C. & I. R. R., between the houses of John Brunton and John D. Nevin. It then pursued a northerly course until it reached the site of the Irwin stone house; thence it skirted the hills until it reached the vicinity of Menary's Block House, near the buildings on the old Beal farm. From that point it went a little westward to McPherson's Block House, now the site of the County Infirmary. The military road, cut by the army of Gen. Hull, in its advance upon Detroit, passed through the southwestern coiner of Lake Township. "Hull's Trace," as it is called, crossed McKee's Creek at the same point that the old road did. It kept nearly north, passing a little east of "William Burkhart's house. Continuing in a direction a little west of north, it crossed Blue Jacket at the farm of Jacob Good; thence pursuing the same course crossed the Sidney road near the house of Mr. Dillon; thence pursuing a course nearly identical with the former, it arrived at Menary's Block House and joined the old road already described. From there it pursued a direct course to the Block House of James McPherson.
About the time of the establishment of Belleville, three men, foreigners by birth, came to the neighborhood of that town, and built a distillery. That establishment was situated on Blue Jacket Creek, a little way from the railroad bridge crossing that stream. It was not very far from the town of Belleville. Indeed, the merchant, Rost, above mentioned, had some interest in the distillery, also. These parties came from Cincinnati purposely to engage in the business of distilling. The remains of the dam constructed by them can be seen to this day, a short distance west of the railroad bridge. Charles O. Walpers, one Stein, and Galar (probably one John X. Gluer), were the three parties immediately engaged in this still-house business. Walpers is described as a tall, dark man, with brilliant eyes, reticent, and believed to be dangerous. Whispers were sometimes heard of strangers coming into the range of this distillery and never appearing again. One of the sons of Anak, Jerry Stansberry, by name, who had stranded upon the shores of this wilderness, previously to the time under review, indulged in a little flirtation with the muses on the occasion of the establishment of the still by Walpers & Co. One of his flights was as follows:
"There's Charlie O. Walpers, so quiet and still,
He thinks he'll get rich by building a mill;
With his long pistol shanks, around us he'll pace,
And he'll cheat the poor devils digging his race.''
Walpers' mill, grinding corn for the purpose of stilling, was useful also in grinding corn for the general public. He did not grind wheat. In fact, there was no wheat raised here at that time. This distillery was carried on by different parties for a number of years, when, upon the building of other and better establishments, it was abandoned.
The Stansberry above spoken of was one of several of the same family. They were powerful men, and were viewed with dislike and suspicion. It was not thought safe for the Regulators to interfere with them. Notwithstauding this, they were, no doubt, a good deal restrained by the presence of that organization. They had a habit of clearing their own skirts, when any depredation was committed, before they were charged with it, which became proverbial, and it is not uncommon, even now, for the older citizens to exclaim, " Oh, no! it wasn't you, Stansberry!" when they hear a person disclaiming a knowledge of some doubtful transaction with which he is believed to be familiar.
One of the first schoolhouses in Lake Township was located upon the south line of the fair grounds, a little more than a quarter of a mile northwest of Belleville. It was built of logs. The seats were logs hewn square, or at least flat. The lire-place was enormous. There was no floor but the ground. The chimney was made of sticks and mud. The windows were long open spaces cut between the logs at a suitable height. These spaces were about eight inches wide from top to bottom, and several feet in length. On the inside, covering them, was pasted paper that had been greased, and it served for window panes. The school was kept open in the winter time only. It was attended by students from a considerable distance; not only the children of Belleville, but the Powells, the McPlouds, and other settlers in the neighborhood, went to it. Scholars came from Maj. Reed's place, two miles away, and from Hoyt's, a considerable distance southwest, and even from the Mad River country, three or four miles to the eastward. The books used were Webster's Spelling Book, for both reading and spelling; Pike's Arithmetic, a geography, and blank paper for writing exercises.
In those days writing paper was not ruled; but, by the aid of a ruler and slim pieces of lead beaten to a point, reasonably good lines were drawn across the blank sheet, upon which to trace the words of the copy. The copy, which the pupil was required to follow with as much exactitude as possible, was written by the " Master," as he was then called. It consisted of "coarse" or fine hand," accordingly as the scholar was less or more proficient. For advanced students, the copy embodied some excellent moral precepts or useful truths. The pens were made by the master, out of goose-quills; and it was no small feat of dexterity to make a good pen. The writers frequently wanted their pens mended also. Spelling was especially insisted upon, as containing the elements of all learning. Spelling matches on Saturday nights were common, in which sides would be chosen and words given out to each side alternately until but a single speller was left who had not missed a word. Again, the whole school would stand up in line,and would spell around again and again; every one missing a word being counted out, until some solitary urchin would remain, the proud victor in the contest. There is probably no one living, in his right mind, but might also excel in some department of life, if he would, like the young speller of olden times, put his whole might into the effort. The first teacher was Isaac Myers, a bachelor, near fifty years old. He was succeeded by George Krouskop, well known subsequently as a prominent and useful citizen; these were good instructors.
Then1 were no tan-yards in the neighborhood before the establishment of the permanent county-seat. Samuel Taylor, who lived on King's Creek, would come into the settlements two or three times a year, and purchase such hides as were for sale. He took them home, where he had some tan vats, and there dressed them. Blacksmithing is a trade that is almost indispensable to modern civilized life. There being no towns in the present boundaries of Lake Township before the rise of Belleville, the blacksmith would be apt to locate his business on such roads as were most traveled. We find George Blaylock, a blacksmith, pursuing his vocation on the bank of Silver Lake, then called Blaylock's Lake. This place, it is true, would at this time be considered a good deal out of the way, but at that period the beauty of the Lake and surrounding country were elements which afforded reasonable promise of early settlements in that locality. The fact is, that Hull's Trace, and the movement of war material from Urbana through a region considerably to the eastward of the Lake, fixed the first permanent families along the line of that movement; and whatever natural features the Lake might possess of an inviting nature, were overshadowed by the stern exigencies and facts of actual war. And so it has ever been; war makes boundaries, not to hamlets and villages only, but to nations and empires; and so it ever will be. Besides Blaylock, a man named Samuel Tidd carried on the business of blacksmithing, on a farm in Harrison Township, adjoining that now owned by Thomas McAra, and on the northeastern boundary of it. A road from the southeast, from Belleville and below, ran near his shop, in the direction of McPherson's block-house. These appear to have been the chief, if not the only, blacksmithing shops near the locality of Bellefontaine previous to the founding of that town.
Nothing is more common than to hear the old pioneer, when in a certain mood, relate the difficulties, hardships, and discomforts of his early trials; without it is to hear the same pioneer, when in a different mood, tell how free, how cheerful, and how glorious were the days of his early pioneer life. Both of his pictures are true. What was pleasant and beautiful, was so in excess; and what of life there was that was fraught with danger and deprivations, and obstacles to be surmounted, was bitter indeed. In a country like this, even in its wildest state, there was not so much of uncompensated hardship for the hunter and trapper, considered by himself, provided he had good health. But to men with families, weakly women and helpless children, there were seasons when, in behalf of his family, great suspense and anxiety fell to his lot. He could move from danger; he could seek supplies and shelter, but his family could not. It is unnecessary to go very minutely into the details of pioneer family history. It is an old story. But a few salient points of that life will not be unprofitable subjects of notice, both with respect to the men and the women.
Besides his trusty rifle, the principal tools the pioneer had to work with were his ax, his drawing knife and shaving-horse. To these, in a settlement of any extent, would be added probably an auger or two, a broad-ax, and an implement for splitting out clap-boards. The mere enumeration of these things suggest their uses. Of course there was very little land cleared in the times to which we are now confining ourselves. From five to fifteen acres of land was about the quantity farmed by the husbandman. This was far from occupying all his time; his duties were not unremitting, as are the duties of a farmer of today. He had leisure, or he could take leisure, to hunt and trap, and, to a considerable extent, enjoy himself; or, at least, he could do so, in so far as his farming duties affected his time. He planted a small patch of corn, another of flax, a few pumpkins, beans and turnips; perhaps, later, a little rye to make into whisky—and that was about all. He spent much of his time in hunting; that business, for a considerable period, being his sole resource for meat. Venison and various kinds of game, with hominy and corn-bread, were his substantials; although the many products of the forest, already enumerated, added greatly to the richness and variety of his table. The pastimes of the pioneer were fighting, running, wrestling, jumping, shooting at a mark, and various feats of strength, agility and skill. Many, on public days, got drunk, also. After all, these things were merely the overflow and escape of a superabundance of spirit, energy, and strength, acquired and accumulated by a life which was essentially in the open air, with good appetites and substantial food.
The labor of the women was much more severe. In addition to the ordinary care and watchfulness of the family, the washing, the cooking, the women not only made their own clothes and garments of the children, but they made up their husband's clothing also. If this were all there would be some idea presented, perhaps, by which an understanding of the extent of their work would be obtained. But in fact, the women spun, wove, bleached, and colored all the cloth that was used in the household. Look for a moment at the character and extent of this work. The flax had to be pulled up by the roots and tied in bunches. Men and women often joined in that labor. It had then to be broken, and the outer fiber separated from the brittle inner straw. This was done by the men. An implement, called a hatchel, being a piece of board three or four feet long, and seven or eight inches wide, into the middle portion of which were fastened, in an upright position, a multitude of sharp iron spikes about four or five inches long. These spikes were about the size and appearance of the iron part of a scribing awl. There were about a hundred of them occupying a space on the board ten or twelve inches long, by five or six inches broad. It looked like a huge brush with iron bristles from four to six inches long. These spikes were placed in the board in a series of diagonal rows. The hatchel being firmly fixed, small bunches of the dried flax were taken in the hands, by the men, and brought violently down amongst the spikes, the force of the blow being also used to draw the flax through the spikes towards the person engaged in the work. This was repeated until the brittle straw inside of the fiber was well broken and loosened. Alter this part of the work was done, the rough flax thus obtained was held in small flowing bunches over the edge of a board, or pole; it was then whipped down with what looks like a wooden knife about eighteen inches or two feet long. By this process, which is called scutching, the remaining particles of loose straw that were entangled in the flax after hatcheling, were thrown down.
The tow is now given to the women. They spin it into vast quantities of linen thread, then they weave it, for many pioneer houses had looms. Out of this thread is woven cloth for pantaloons and shirts for the men, clothing for the children, as well as household linen. But in many instances a process of bleaching precedes the final manufacture. The ladies not infrequently would color certain portions of their thread to weave into stripes for their own frocks. These were greatly admired by the young gentlemen beaux of the period. The main fashion of the ladies frock was a very short waist which was drawn into a multitude of fine gathers by means of a draw string. This was run entirely around the dress at the waist, drawn tightly and tied behind in an elaborate manner. The young pioneer, although he might fight the prowling savage with a commendable degree of courage, and even enter with enthusiasm into a "scrimmage " with a bear, was, to say the truth, often completely humbled and abashed in the presence of one of these tremendous articles of feminine apparel. For winter clothing the wool of the few sheep that could be cared for, was "picked" by hand at wool pickings. It was carded also by hand, with cards made for the purpose. It was then spun and woven into cloth. From this was made the winter clothing. For the children and ladies wool and linen were woven together, making linsey-woolsey. This style of cloth is generally cotton and wool at this day; but originally was linen and woolen threads woven together—hence the name— "linsey-woolsey" A few of the more ancient and prominent pioneers wore buck-skin clothes. If they happened to be a close fit, it was said there was but one way to get them off, if they once got a wetting, and that was to wear them off. Young ladies and gentlemen of this period had the usual amusements of early times; such as dancing, various social games, and songs, which like the tales of the nursery, seem to have descended, at least some of them, from the remotest antiquity.
In the period of time under review, there does not seem to have been within the present limits of Lake Township any stated place for religious worship. A meeting was called at the house of Samuel Carter to concert measures to build a house for that purpose in Belleville. But that was a little anterior to the desertion of that town, and the project was abandoned. The citizens opened their own houses to some extent for religious purposes. Avery common place of resort for holding meetings of a religious character was at the house of James Hill, a mile west of Bellefontaine. The limits prescribed for this article precludes a continuation of the kind of description preceding. The temptation is great to produce other facts and incidents. There is nothing more interesting or instructive than to consider the human being placed in difficult and adverse circumstances, striving to surmount them. Such a life and such a strife develop the latent power of the human mind and bring to light phases of character that would otherwise never appear. Respecting the reminiscences of the cruel and savage war of 1812, little can now be said. In the midst of dangers and alarms, great actions and grand thoughts become common and are looked upon as matters of course, and like common and usual things they are little noted, and pass from memory. Most of the men whose names have been mentioned, and many others, were variously employed in their country's Service during that contest. They were members of a company of scouts who were on the alert to detect signs of defection or treachery amongst the Indians around them. They were also depended upon to perform the difficult task of penetrating towards the British frontier, and gathering and transmitting information to the authorities. Their homes situated here in Lake Township were the first places for the sick and wounded and dying to receive shelter, when the troops, either in bodies or straggling parties, returned from the fight. For at that period there were no white settlements north of the Greenville Treaty Line, only four miles beyond Bellefontaine. That country was all Indian territory according to the terms of the treaty at Greenville. To give a history of the exploits of the spies and scouts residing in this vicinity, during the war with Great Britain, would occupy a volume; to give a single sketch, or even two or three, would be invidious.
The first election in Lake Township, Logan County, was held in Belleville in the year 1818. It is understood that the township included considerable more territory at that time than it does now. Some of the names will be recognized as those of persons living in what is now Union, Liberty, and Harrison Townships. The list of the electors is appended merely as a matter of record, and is as follows: James M. Reed, Isaac Miller, William Johnston, John Colvin, John Tucker, John Tullis, Sr., William McKinney, Joseph Gordon, James Binley, James McClenaghan, William Mcllvain, David Kirkwood, Isaac Southerland, Haines, Thomas Haines, Moses Mcllvain, William Carroll, Archibald More, David Jones, Henry Shaw, Thomas Newell, James Joseph Wilson, William Kirkwood, Samuel Shields, Joseph Coddinghain, O. C. Blalock, Levi D. Tharp, Nathaniel Crutcher, William Coddingham, Sim Ransbottorn, Joseph Haines, John N. Gluer, Thomas Colvin, Daniel Vance, Daniel Purdy, George Blaylock, Mitchell Waggoner, John McDonald, James Wall, George Krouskop, Kobeit Doty, James Wall, Sr., James Kirkwood, James Bowen, Sylvanus Moorehouse, Joseph Cummins, John Holmes, John Tinnis, John Wood, John Ensch, James Sargent, John G. Mcllvain, James McPherson, William McBeth, John Wail. John Newell, David Askren, Stephen Hoyt, William More, Robert More, William Wall, Joseph Alexander, John Gunn, William Adams, Samuel Newell, Samuel Wilson, Jacob Powell, George F. Dunn, Robert Newell, Raphael More, Samuel More, Jr., John Dunn, Joel Smith, Daniel Workman, Sr., Abner Snoddy, Patrick Watson, Jacob Foster, James Smith, William McCloud, John Ludwick, John Peach, John Aglee, George Countner, Thomas Chirk, Christopher Porter, John McBeth, Thomas, David McNay, John Crawford, John Hall, James Leaper, William Gray. John Shelby, Obadiah Howell, Eezekiah Wilcox, James Peach, William Powell, Thomas Baird, William White, Justice Edwards, Daniel M. Brown, William Davis, John Cochren, Samuel Carter, Daniel Workman, Martin DeWitt, Ransford Hoyt, Alexander McGarvey, John More, James Hill, Benjamin Vickers, Charles O. Walpers, Abraham Sager, Samuel Covington, John Askren, Samuel Hathaway, Thomas Thompson, Isaac Clemens, Thomas Powell, William Davis, David King, Emanuel Host, Ross Thomas, Hugh Newell, Almon Hopkins, Jerry Stansberry, John Tullis, Jr., Robert Crockett.**
The plat of the town of Bellefontaine is recorded on page 252, Book "A," of the records of Logan county. The record was made on the 12th day of August, 1822. This plat contains upon its margin (and it is so recorded) the following document:
"state Of Ohio, Logan County:
"Personally came before me, an Associate Judge in and for said county, Solomon McColloch, director, appointed by the Court of Common Pleas of said county, Leonard Houtz, John Tullis, Sr., William Powell, and John Tullis, Jr., proprietors, who severally acknowledge the within tow n plat to be their act and deed, and desire the same to be admitted of record.
"Given under my hand and seal, March 18th, 1820.
N. B.—The lots selected by the director on the part of Logan county are all even numbers.
"(Signed) JOHN SHELBY,
** Some names and text are unreadable
[Source: History of Logan County by William H. Perrin, O. L. Baskin & Co 1880]
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