Sunday, May 5, 2024

Union Township

According to Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Muskingum County, the area that became Union Township was originally home to people of the Shawnee nation. The authors claim that White Eyes Creek in the southern part of the township is named for a Shawnee chief. In fact, it's named for Koquethagechton (nicknamed George White Eyes), chief sachem of the Lenape (Delaware) people. Koquethagechton successfully negotiated with the Continental Congress to secure land for his people  in return for their alliance with the Americans during the Revolution. 

The first known white settlers, Henry Hardesty, Peter Monroe, Henry Hardy, William Newland, and "Mr." Mullen, arrived in the area between 1803-1806. These early settlers "squatted" in the southeast quarter of the township on School Lands. These were public lands set aside in each township by the Northwest Ordinance (1785) for the establishment of public schools. They were a great draw for settlers who couldn't afford to buy land, and their settlement was, of course, illegal. Eventually, they were forced to move on.

The northeast part of Union Township, where Zane's Trace came through, was settled primarily by families from Pennsylvania. The first inn along this part of the route was established by Pennsylvanian Thomas Warren in 1804. The village of New Concord began about this time, and with the establishment of the National Road, was officially platted as a town by Judge David Findley on March 24, 1828. The town became a stage station, where, according to the Biographical and Historical Memoirs, "The six stage horses driven at full speed from Zanesville...were exchanged for fresh horses." One of the National Road's four "s-bridges" is preserved just outside of New Concord.

As New Concord grew, so did the demands of its prominent citizens for a college to be established.Efforts to establish an academy to offer classical and scientific courses of study began in 1835. In March 1837, Muskingum College was granted a charter by the state legislature. In 2009, the college achieved university status. Its most famous graduate is local resident John Glenn, NASA astronaut and U.S. Senator.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Salt Creek Township

Salt Creek Township is named for the saline deposits near the area that would eventually become the village of Chandlersville. Native Americans gathered salt there long before the appearance of White settlers, and it might have been from them that the settlers in Marietta heard of the salt deposits, for which there was a desperate need. In 1795, Marietta had grown so much, that salt had become a scarce commodity. A company was formed to go north to locate the Salt Creek deposits, "mine" them, and ship much-needed salt back to Marietta and other river towns. It was a lucrative enterprise because everyone needed salt, primarily to preserve food.

John Chandler's grave marker in 
Chandlersville Cemetery
Capt. John Chandler (1757-1829), for whom Chandlersville is named, arrived with his family to the Salt Creek area from Connecticut in 1799. He purchased the Marietta company around 1801, and he and his older sons operated the salt works for about seven more years. The road used to convey the processed salt to points south became a much traveled highway, bringing more settlers to the area. A grist mill and a saw mill were established, as was a tannery, and one of Chandler's sons opened the first tavern in 1815. A Baptist church was organized in 1811, and a Methodist church in 1812. 

In December, 1808 the residents of the area sought to form a township. Although the record states this was accomplished at that time, apparently it wasn't, and it took seven more years (March 8, 1815) before Salt Creek Township was officially recognized.

Salt Creek Township saw several "firsts." It was the site of the first salt works in the Northwest Territory east of the Scioto River. It boasted the first brick schoolhouse in Muskingum County. The first circulating library (150 books) in Muskingum County was established here.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Falls Township and Zanesville

 According to the Biographical and Historic Memoirs of Muskingum County, Ohio, the area that would become Falls Township was first settled in 1790. Edward Tanner of Virginia is regarded as the earliest settler, building his family home along the bank of the Licking River. 

In May, 1796, Congress approved a contract with Col. Ebeneezer Zane, a Revolutionary War veteran, to begin construction of a road from Wheeling, Virginia* to Limestown [Maysville], Kentucky. Zane's Trace followed trails originally used by Native Peoples, and although the trails were widened to 20 feet, Zane's Trace was not "paved" in any way, and deep ruts made wagon travel along the route very challenging. It remained the only major road in Ohio until 1823 when construction on the Ohio section of the National Road began. The National Road, known today as US Route 40, followed much of Col. Zane's road.

Zane's Trace in southern Ohio

Col. Zane, for whom Zanesville is named, was aided in his road-building project by his brother, Jonathan, and his son-in-law, John McIntire, who arrived in what would become Falls Township in 1798. McIntire, who had been an itinerant cobbler in Virginia, re-made himself as a land developer in Ohio, thanks to his connection to the land-rich Col. Zane. (Zane was paid for his roadwork with tracts of land all along the route.) McIntire called the town he began platting, Westbourne. The Postmaster General changed the name to Zane's Town and that name morphed,eventually, into Zanesville.

While Westbourne-Zane's Town-Zanesville was growing, so was the surrounding rural area. Moses Dillon, a Virginia Quaker, arrived about 1804 (the year the federal government opened a land office in Zanesville) and purchased 3,000 acres of land, including the falls on the Licking River. The land he bought was rich with iron ore, and Dillon established the first blast furnace and foundry west of the Alleghanies by 1805. Not surprisingly, the village which grew up on Dillon's land was known as Dillon's Falls. Four years later, on March 9, 1808, Falls Township was organized.

Muskingum County Home c. 1900 
 Today, Zanesville covers the eastern half of the township. As of   2020, the population of that part of the township was 24,721 while the population in the western portion was 8,718. The western part   of Falls Township was the site of the Muskingum County   Infirmary (aka Muskingum County Home), which served as both   a "poor house" and "insane asylum" from 1839-2008. The   historic building was demolished in 2011. Two historic buildings   still standing in the township's western part are Headley Inn and   Smith House, stagecoach and conestoga stops along the National   Road. Falls is also the site of the only Jewish (Beth Abraham)   and Quaker (Dillon) cemeteries in the county.

Smith House

Headley Inn

*West Virginia did not become a state until 1863.

Friday, January 5, 2024

Licking Township

 There is no existing record of the exact date of the formation of Licking Township. According to The Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Muskingum County (published by Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1892), the township "was organized before 1806 from the Virginia military land."  Many of the earliest settlers, like Enos Devore and his father John, were Virginians. The above history says the Devores were the first known settlers in what would become Licking Township, arriving in 1801. Among the early settlers were Virginian Quakers, such as the Claypool family. The township was named for the river that runs through it.

A stage coach stop in Irville
If the township's approximate founding date is correct, at least seven years of township records documenting elected officers, jurors, justices of the peace, tax records, etc. have been lost. The earliest known township document is a portion of a tax book dated June 3, 1813. We have to assume that leadership in the township's early years was assumed by large landowners and business operators.

Licking Township's two main "population centers" were the villages  of Irville, platted in 1814, and Nashport, platted in 1827 to be a "port" along the newly opened Ohio Canal. Pleasant Valley, a third population center, was located on the opposite side of the Licking River from Irville and Nashport. With the founding of Irville came the township's first schoolhouse, and a Presbyterian church which was first frame building in the township.  A stagecoach route connecting Columbus and Zanesville ran through the area, and a couple of taverns served tired and thirsty travelers, as well as the locals.

In the 1960s, the construction of Dillon Dam erased Irville, Nashport, and Pleasant Valley, as well as several smaller township communities, off the map. Families were displaced and homes and stores were torn down. Bodies were exhumed from cemeteries and reinterred elsewhere. Some buildings from the original villages were moved to "New" Nashport, the township's only current-day population center. 

A detailed history of the three lost population centers, can be found in Before Dillon: Memories of the Lost Villages of Nashport, Irville, and Pleasant Valley by Rose Ellen Jenkins and Mari McLean. The book is available for purchase at the MCCOGS Market Place

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Jefferson and Cass Townships

                      Jefferson Township
The section of Muskingum County now known as Jefferson and Cass Townships was originally home to people of the Shawnee Nation. (The village of Dresden in Jefferson Township would later be founded on the remains of the Shawnee village of Wakatomika.) A military campaign  known as "Lord Dunmore's War" began to displace the native people from the area in 1774; "Mad Anthony" Wayne's victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794 completed the forced removal of native peoples from the Ohio Territory, opening the territory to white settlement. The first known white settlers in Jefferson--and Cass--Townships were the Priests from Virginia, James Wilcox, James and Phineas Sprague and Isaac Cordray. Major Jonathan Cass, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, came in 1801 and bought up 4,000 acres along the Muskingum River. Cass hoped his settlement would become the county's seat, but it lost out to the older settlement of Zanesville.

                Cass Township
Jefferson Township was was officially organized in April 1805, when the first election of township officers was held at the home of Henry Northrup. In 1817, the town of Dresden was established by Philadelphians whose families had emigrated from Dresden, Germany. 1833, the area had one church, two flour mills, three sawmills, and six physicians. 

Undoubtedly hoping to grow the Dresden area, Jefferson Township held a special election in 1852 to issue $100,000 (about $360,000 today) in bonds to the Steubenville & Indiana Railway to construct a rail-line through the village. A literal "town and country" argument ensued between the township's farmers, who didn't want assume the tax liability for the bonds,  and the residents of Dresden who did. On September 6, 1853, the disagreement led to the division of Jefferson into two townships, Jefferson (half of which is the village of Dresden) and Cass. The farmers of newly formed Cass Township expected the division would allow them to avoid the taxation resulting from the bonds purchase. It didn't. And to add insult to Jefferson's injury, the railway line ended up being situated one and a half miles north of Dresden, so its residents never saw the hoped-for return on their investment. 

Today, Cass township remains almost completely rural with a population in 2020 of 1,811 people. Its only population areas are a small portion of the village of Dresden, and two unincorporated communities, Adams Mills and Trinway. The tiny township of Jefferson has a population of 1,974, with the majority (1,654) living in Dresden. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

Springfield Township

Springfield Township was formed from Muskingum County's first township, Newton, on June 21, 1803. Ohio had just been admitted to Statehood on March 1 of that year. However, white settlement had begun along the junction of the Licking and Muskingum Rivers as early as the late 1790's. Col. Ebeneezer Zane directed the creation of a primitive road from Wheeling, West Virginia to Maysville, Kentucky during 1796-1797 to encouragement white settlement in the Northwest Territory and in the new state of Kentucky. The settlement of Westbourne, which was renamed Zanesville, grew up as a waypoint along "Zane's Trace," which is also known as the Maysville Pike. Col. Zane received a land grant of 640 acres in return for building the road. Rufus Putnam, Increase Matthews, and Levi Whipple purchased land across the river from Zanesville in 1801, and laid out the settlement of Springfield, which was renamed Putnam in 1814. The two thriving river settlements drew large numbers of settlers to the area, and growth was rapid.

Some "facts" of Springfield Township's settlement from the Everhart publication, History of Muskingum County are:

  • According to the Everhart book, David Stokely was the first white settler to build a cabin in the area that would become Springfield Township (1799). However, a more reliable source (Muskingum County Ohio USA) names Henry Crooks and William McCulloch, who operated ferries across the Muskingum River, as the original settlers.
  • The first trustees were Dr. Increase Mathews, John Mathews, David Harvey, and Isaac Zane; other township offices established were overseer of the poor, fence viewer, appraiser of houses, lister of taxable property, supervisor of roads, and constable.
  • Dr. Increase Mathews, clearly a jack-of-all-trades, was not only the first physician in the area, he also was the first merchant, and he raised fine-wooled sheep.
  • Jacob Reagan was the first blacksmith. In addition to the usual blacksmithing work, Reagan did a brisk business making cowbells and horsebells, that enabled settlers to track their livestock when they wandered off into the woods.
  • The only newspaper ever published in the township itself was The Methodist Recorder. Is part of its name preserved in the name of the current-day Times Recorder?
  • The first Methodist congregation was organized in 1827, and the first church building in the township was erected in 1835
  • A lot of horse-thieving apparently happened in the township: The Springfield Association for the Recovery of Stolen Horses was organized in 1833.
Ferry boat about 1800

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Newton, Muskingum County's First Township


Newton Township was formed in 1802, one year before Ohio's Statehood, and two years before Muskingum County was formed from Washington County. White settlers had been filtering into the "Ohio Country" in ever increasing numbers following the end of the Revolutionary War, and the creation of the Northwest Territory (1783). The Shawnee Nation, the original settlers, joined the Northwestern Confederacy of Native American nations and resisted the encroachment on their lands for nearly 10 years. Their defeat at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, and the signing of the Treat of Greenville forced the Native peoples to move further west. A flood of white settlers into the area began from that point.

Much of what we know--or think we know--today  about Newton's (and all other townships') early history comes from History of Muskingum County, Ohio, published by J. F. Everhart & Co. in 1882, and Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Muskingum County, Ohio, published by The Goodspeed Publishing Co., in 1892. While there are nuggets of real history to be found in both books, there is also fictionalized "history." County histories became very popular in the late 19th century, and local families would "subscribe" in order to get their family's name and story into a book. Wanting to portray themselves and their ancestors as pillars of the community, some family members couldn't resist embellishing the facts--or just plain making them up. So if you consult these and other books of this period to find out about your family, don't take everything you read at face value.

Gladstone grist mill, White Cottage
With that in mind, the "facts" of Newton's early settlement include:

  • Jacob Smith from Loudoun County, Virginia was the first known white settler to buy land (1797) and build a cabin (1802). 
  • The first townships trustees were Benjamin Redman, John Beckwith, and Andrew Crooks.
  • Andrew Crooks built the first tavern in 1804, before the first road had been cut in the township (1805); he also provided land for the first schoolhouse as early as 1800.
  • Between 1802-1812, a number of mills sprang up along Jonathan's Creek, the major stream that ran through the township from southeast to northwest: Moses Plummer built the first grist mill and a sawmill; John Lenhart and Anthony Mauk established the first whiskey mill.
  • The first cemetery (now defunct) was located on land belonging to Benjamin Croy: Peter Fauley was the first burial (1815)
  • New Milford [Roseville] was laid out by Ezekiel Rose in 1812.
  • Uniontown [Fultonham] was laid out by John Porter and Henry Hummell around 1813. (East Fultonham came into being some years later with the advent of the railroad.)
  • Newtonville [White Cottage] took root around 1815.
  • Methodist Church circuit riders served the township prior to the organizing of permanent churches; Goshen Methodist Church near Roseville and Uniontown Methodist church were organized around 1830. No church buildings of any denomination were erected in the township
    This crockery piece sold for a modest
    $175, but one Rambo Pottery piece
    recently went for more than $8000
    before 1835.
  • Because of the quality of the clay soil in Newton, pottery-making became an important local industry from the township's early days. Almost all of the many potteries were "bluebird potteries",  family-owned and operated. (See the blog post Potters Here, There, and Everywhere) A few of the local potters, like Joseph Rambo, became very well-known, and today wares bearing Rambo's signature bring very high prices at auction. 

*Roseville straddles the boundary between Muskingum and Perry County, so if you're researching New Milford/Roseville ancestors, be sure to go to both county courthouses.