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History of Darke County, Ohio, from its earliest settlement to the present time .. (Volume 1) online

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northwest Ohio, for a seat in the House of Representatives,
but failed. Subsequently, becoming more ambitious, he ran
for congress, but was badly beaten by William McLean, a
brother of the late Judge McLean, of the United States Su-
preme Court. Archibald Bryson settled on the east side of
West Branch, above and south of the 'Squaw Road' and
east of him, toward Mud creek, were located John Whitacre,
John Embree, who was better known by the nickname of
'Swift,' and David Marsh, the first peddled of 'wallsweep'
clocks in the county." * * *

Concerning the character of the settlers in the county gen-
erally the same writer says :

"The character of the first settlers cannot be said to be
either good or bad. There was no disposition among them
to do any great wrong, but the small vices, such as drunken-
ness, when liquor could be obtained, disregard of religious
sentiments, and a great disposition to idleness. That there
was any lack of honor or honesty or hospitality among these
settlers, from anything said, must not be inferred. On the
contrary, from what we can learn of them, they were never
excelled in these qualities by any people. There were one or
two natural thieves, or kleptomaniacs in the county, but they
were detested exceptions to the mass. Defamation, and the
biting tongue of slander was never heard nor felt. Casts, or
quality, were not formed or regarded. One man was as good
as another, and one woman was no better than another. All
honest people were honorable among them. The traveler
with his saddlebags fillfed with gold and silver could rest se-
curely in any cabin at which he stopped."



In the year 1909 a document was discovered in the sheriff's
office in the county court house giving what it purports to he
a complete enumeration of the white male inhabitants above
21 years of age, some four hundred in number, of Darke
county in 1825. It was compiled by Archibald Bryson and
certified to the associate judges of the county. The docu-
ment is of old style parchment, yellow with age, l5ut tough
and legible. A careful perusal will reveal the fact that nearly
every name is perpetuated by descendants still living here and
numbered among the most prosperous families. The list is
as follows : Abraham Studebaker, David Cole, John Jett.
James Burkhannon, David Douglas, Archibald Bryson. Chris-
tian Levingood, Peter Levingood, Andrew Perkins, John Hil-
ler, David Michael. Andrew Westfall, Joseph HuiTman, Dan-
iel Patten, Xathaniel Gillum, John Dean, Permelia Elsbury,
David Fisher, David Cole, Mathew Young, Janet Barnes,
Thomas Barnes, Isaac Elsbury, Samuel Cole, Jonathan Parks,
Ranna Perrine, Thomas ]McGinnis, George Sumption, Jacob
Keller, Eleyer Sharp. James Bryson, James Rush, David
]\Iiller. John Rupel, John Sheets, Jacob Rupel, Michael Em-
rick, \\illiam Folkerth, Cornwall Stephens, John Rool, James
Howard, Vockel Clery. Selby Sumter, James Hayes, \\'illiam
Martin, John i\Iartin, William T. Carnahan, Richard Lyons,
\\'illiam Hayes. Sr., A\'illiam Hayes, Plenry D. Williams,
Robert Mclntire. David Thompson, Jeremiah Mathewson.
Abraham Miller. Isaac House, David Briggs, Lyra Thorp.
Simeon Chapman, Cornelius I. Ryeson, W'illiam ^^'estfall.
George Xaus. Margnet \\'estfall, Philip Manuel, Samuel Sut-
ton, S. Laurence. xAbraham Scribner. Isaac Clay, \\'illiam
McKhann, John Armstrong, David Moriss, William W'iley,
Hugh Merten, A\'illiam Sape, John Brady, Lewis Passon, Sam-
uel Oliver, David Potter, David Irwin, Joseph Guess. Samuel
Wilson, Daniel Halley Nathan Terry, William Wilson, Samuel
\\'ilson, Benjamin Thompson, Joseph ^^'ilson. John Wilson,
Robert Barnet, George Westfall, Peter Crumrine, Mass Rush,
Richard Martin, Peter Smith, Samuel Reed, John Rupel, Sr..
Charles Hapner, \\'illiam Chapman. Jacob Shafer, Adam Bil-
lows, Hezekiah \^eits, Henry .Steinberger, Jacob Steinberger,
Moses Rush. Isaac Joy, John Briggs, Abraham Smith, Abra-
ham Weaver. John Weaver. George A\\ Fryer. Isaac Jones.
James McGinnis. William \'ail. Thomas Stokeley. Hezekiah
Viets. Robert Taylor. Jacob Puterbaugh. Christian Sleighty.
Thomas Campbell. Henrv Wertz. George Huntsman. John



Miller, John Phillips, William Decamp, Job Decamp, Charles
Harriman, Thomas Phillips, James Wood, William Town-
send, John Culberson, Elisha Byers, Isaac Joy, Johnston Den-
niston, Jacob Cox, Daniel Harter, Peter Kember, Joseph
Dixon, Ignatius Barnes, Eli Coble, Samuel Fisher, John Cox,
Thomas Coapstick, Isaac Sweitzer, William Brady, John
Chenoweth, Ludwick Clap, John Cable, Thomas Hynes. Sam-
uel Touring, Donovan Reed, Smith Masteson, Samuel Bourk,
Frederick Bowers, Daniel Harter, John Crumrine, Abraham
Cox, Henry Cox, Daniel Waggoner, Jacob Neff, John Hilde-
bran, Peter Harter, Peter Weaver, Peter Crumrine, Ebenezer
Westfall, Job Westfall, Daniel Crawn, Jacob Westfall. Wil-
liam Shoneson, David Ullery, Abraham Wells, Harrison
McConn. James Craig, Hezekiah Fowler, Nathaniel Scidnore,
Benjamin Murphy, James Brady, Isaac Vail, John Miller,
Joseph Foster, Josiah Elston, John Snell, Jacob Chenoweth,
Leonard ^^^intermote, John Clap, Philip Rarook, Daniel
Shiveley, Abraham Miller, James Cole, Jeremiah Rogers,
Susannah Miller, David Wasson, Samuel W^asson, Edward
Baldin, Robert Cain, Charles Sumption, Thomas Beasley,
John A. Addington, Jesse Gray, Samuel Martin, Ephriani
Flemming, Isaac Byers, John C. Marquart, Julian Brown,
Philip Brown, Benjamin Brown, Josiah Hall, John Thomas,
John Robeson, Samuel Eddington, Charles Eddington, Philip
Eddington, George Walker, Joseph W^inegardner, Daniel
]\Ionbeek, Jacob Winegardner, Stoffle Shafer, John Ellis,
Edward Edger, William Edger, Archibald Edger, Thomas
Edger, Henry Keck, Barbery Myers, Christopher Borden,
David Thomas, George Wilt. David W^ilt, George Wilt, John
Wilt, Samuel Harter, John Harter. Francis Harter, Philip
Wiggens, David Harter, Jacob Harter, Cornelius Higgings,
John Baird, John Arthur, Andrew INIiller, William Terry,
Jacob Puderbaugh, Mark Mills, James Mills, Christopher
Hood, Elijah Stackenas, John Mikesel, Michael Kenell, Wil-
liam Holt, Thomas Godfrey. Timothy IMote, George Knee,
John Waggoner, Ernestus Putnam, Jacob Ullom, Bingham
Simons, Christopher Bordins, Daniel Ullom, John Wade,
William W^ade, John Ullom, John Williamson, William :\Ic-
Farland, Elijah Simons. John French. Isaac Cherry, Henry
Creviston. Jacob Sutton, Nicholas Tinkel, Thomas
Lake. Caleb Vail, Eli Edwards, Hugh Laurimore,
i\Ioses Arnold, John Ketring, John Teaford, George Teaford,
John Knee, David Stephens, Samuel Guier, Spencer Edwards,


\\illiam Eaker, Daniel Edwards, John Dixon, Jacob Sebring,
Marshall Falor, Jonathan Pierson, Samuel Rhoades, James
Woods, Henry Ross, Nathaniel Ross, Lewis Aukerman,
James Reed, James Barney, Henry Williams, John Puter-
baugh, John Clark, John Kendle, William Jones, Joseph
Burdge, Jonathan Alote, John Fetters, Samuel Owens, Wil-
liam Stone, Andrew Stone, John Rush, James Baird, Samuel
Fisher, Jonathan Thomas, John Stephenson, Christopher
Rush, Zachariah Fryon, Asa Rush, Aaron Rush, Henry
Hardy, Jacob Hensler, Reed Risley, David Scott, John Doug-
las, Alexander Smith, Alexander Irwin, Henry House, Linus
Bascom, John Briggs, John Beers, John McNeil, Nancy
Smith, David Cole, John Devor, James Craig, Abner Aleeks,
Henry Lawrence, Richard Lowring, Judson Jaqua, Nathaniel
Edsel, Richard Miller, Dennis Hart, Samuel Drove, Obediah
Stephens. John Huston, Henry Woods, Benjamin F. W'oods,
Robert Thompson, John Wooden, Moses Woods, John Braw-
ley, John Purviance, Anthony Woods, William Wiley, Na-
thaniel S. McClure, Xeal Lawrence, John McClure, Jacob
Miller, William Brodrick, John A. Brodrick, George Miller,
John AL Foster, Samuel McClure, John Wiley, Alexander
AlcClure, Abraham Murray, George Roberts, Samuel Jones,
Lloyd James, Mark Buckingham, David Gibbs, bamuel
Roberts, Robert Campbell, Gersham P. Tiesen, Benjamin
Snodgrass, George Gates, Moses Moore, James Harland,
James B. Edwards, William Thompson, Thomas Sullivan,
Thomas Wiley, John Brown, Nathan Harland, William Polly,
Leonard Titsen, Aquillas Loveall, Josiah Guess, Jacob Guess,
John Wilson. James Skinner, James Reeves, Amos Smith,
William Hill, David Nockum. John Downy, Jesse Bell,
Francis Spencer. John Cassady. Hankason Ashby, Benjamin
Eakens. Samuel Ketring.


Thus far this narrative has dealt mostly with the pioneers
who settled in and around the county seat and in our desire
to make due mention of the first families we have failed to
notice the development of the county as a political unit.

On January 3, 1809, the General Assembly of Ohio created
the county of Darke from territory then belonging to Miami
county. The original boundaries of the county were the same
as at present with the exception of the northern, which ex-
tended to the Greenville treaty line, thus including that por-
tion of the present county of Mercer which lies south of a
line extending from Fort Recovery to a point a few rods north
of the present northeast corner of Darke. As noted before
rival claimants laid out town sites which they desired to have
acknowledged as the official county seat. By "pull and per-
suasion," it seems, Terry's plat on the northeast side of the
creek was first accepted and remained the official, though
unoccupied, site for two or three years. At the next session
of the Legislature, strong pressure was brought to repeal the
previous unpopular act and a new commission was created to
relocate the seat of justice. Besides the Devor and Terry
sites this commission was asked to consider another located
at what is now known as Cedar Point, at the junction of the
Milton and Gettysburg pikes. .A.t this juncture Devor and
Mrs. Armstrong made a proposition to the commissioners to
convey thirty-two lots, or one-third of the entire number of
their original plat, to the commissioners of ]\Iiami county, in
trust for the county of Darke, when it should thereafter be
organized, "for such public uses as might be deemed desir-
able in the future, whether as sites for public buildings, or as
land for sale outright, upon which to realize funds for county
purposes." This proposition was accepted, the lots duly con-
veyed to the county of Darke and the county seat established
on the beautiful and historic site of Fort Greenville and
Wayne's famous treaty, where it remains to this day.

On account of the war of 1812, the larse amount of wilder-


ness and swamp land, the holding of titles by non-residents,
who refused to improve or sell their claims, and other simi-
lar causes, final organization was postponed until December
14, 1816, when the population justified an independent gov-
ernment, and Darke county was then separated from Miami.
The organization was not completed, however, until March
1, 1817. John Purviance, Enos Terry and James Rush were
elected the first associate judges of the court of common
pleas, and Archibald Bryson, Abraham Studabaker and Silas
Atchison the first commissioners of the new county. The
latter held their first meeting in June, 1817. John Beers was
appointed clerk, and John Devor tax collector. Moses Scott
was appointed sheriff and William Montgomery, coroner in
August, 1817. The first session of the court of common
pleas was held March 13, 1817. The next session was held
on April 7, 1817, at which Linus Bascom was appointed clerk
pro tem. and Abraham Scribner, recorder. The first regular
term of this court was in June, 1817, and was presided over
by Joseph H. Crane of Dayton with the associates before
mentioned. At this session Moses Scott was duly em-
powered, authorized and commanded to summon fifteen good
and lawful men to appear forthwith and serve as grand jurors.
The first jury summoned by him was constituted as follows:
John Loring, John Andrews, James Cloyd, Daniel Potter,
Robert Douglas, Abraham Miller, Filder G. Lenham, Daniel
Holley, Joseph Townsend, James Williamson. John Ryerson,
David Briggs, Levi Elston, Martin Ruple and Peter Rush.
Henry Bacon was appointed prosecutor at this term. The
grand jur}' found several indictments and it was found neces-
sary to summon twelve men to act as petit jurors. Accord-
ingh' the following men were summoned : Charles Sumption,
John McFarlin, James Williamson, John Break, Charles Read,
Jacob Miller. William Montgomery, Robert Mclntyre, James
Perry. Aaron Dean, Alexander Smith and Zachariah Hull to
act as the first petit jury. The}' were in session a day or
two of this court each j-ear. The first prosecutor received
ten dollars for his services at the first term, the grand jurors
seventy-five cents per day. and the petit jurors fifty cents,
which latter was paid by the winning party. The first session
was held in the bar-room of Azor Scribner ; the next one was
called for November 14th in the bar-room of Scott's Tavern.
By this arrangement the building of a county court house
was postponed several years. A jail was needed, however.


ami the commissioners entered into contract with Matthias
Uean for the erection of the same in 1818 for the sum of
$300.00, one-half down and the remainder on completion. As
it was paid for in county orders which were worth but about
sixty per cent, of the face, Dean probably got less than
$200.00 actual cash on his contract. This jail was located nn
the public square, about thirty feet from the mirth corner nf
the present city hall. It was about fifteen by thirty feet in
size, with two compartments, and was built with double out-
side walls of sound oak timbers hewed one foot square. This
modest structure answered the needs of the community at
that time and might even be considered a costly structure as
the commissioners had sold six valuable lots, Nos. 36, 62, 20,
56, 39 and 52 out of the thirty-two donated by Devor and Mrs.
Armstrong for the sum of $47.75 to be applied on its erection.
This was considered a fair price for the lots at that time and
a comparison with the present ^•alue of the same real estate
today will indicate the progress that has been made in less
than a century. This building was consumed by fire on the
morning of Sunday, May 2, 1827. A new jail and jailor's resi-
dence combined, was erected of brick on the southwest corner
of Broadway and Third street in 1827-28 by John Armstrong
at a cost of $520.00. The second bastile was not found satis-
factory from the standpoint of security and was demolished
upon the erection of the third structure on the southeast half
of lot 25, in 1845. by Allen La^Motte and Israel Reed for ap-
proximately $4,000. This building was disposed of after the
erection of the present jail in 1870. It has been extended to
the sidewalk, remodeled and used as a place of business evet
since, being now occupied by E. R. Font's Millinery Emporium
and the Earhart and Meeker saloon and is known as Nos. 418
and 422 Broadway.

John Craig erected the first court house on the south cor-
ner of the public square in the spring of 1824. It was a two-
story frame structure about twenty-two by twenty-eight feet,
wnth a court room occupying the entire first floor, and a
clerk's office and jury room on the second.

The second court house was erected in 1834 in the center
of the public square by James Craig for $2,524.63. upon plans
drawn by Allen LaMotte. It was constructed of brick two
stories high with roof four square and surmounted bv a cu-
pola looking very much like the present city hall with the
front tower removed. It is said that Craig lost from $1,500 to


$2,000 on the structure by bidding too low. It stood for
nearly forty years and was the scene of many a stormy and
picturesque legal combat between the early legal lights of
Darke county. The site was given by the Devor heirs as it
had been set aside by John Devor as a place for holding court.
An attempt was made to remodel this structure for a city hall
upon the erection of the iiresent court house in 1873 or 1874
but it resulted in failure and the structure was demolished to
allow the construction of the present city building.

Early Trails and Roads.

One of the big problems that confronted the first commis-
sioners was the construction of public roads. Accordingly
we are not surprised to note that they considered the matter
at their first meeting and ordered a road to be viewed and sur-
ve}"ed from the county seat "across the bridge at En.:s Terry's
(East Water street) and thence by the nearest and best route
in a direction toward Fort I^oramie until it stri'.ces the county

John Beers was appointed surveyor and David Briggs,
David Thompson and Moses Scott viewers with instructions
to begin work on June 26. 1817. This was the veritable be-
ginning of systematic road-building which has continued to
this day and given Darke county first place among the eighty-
eight shires of Ohio with abmit 1,700 miles of roads and pikes.
.•\t this time the o'llv rnads were the Indian trails, the army
traces and the narrow winding driveways cut to the various
scattered settlements and the cabins of the pioneers. \\'e have
noted that St. Clair came into a distinct Indian trail near
"Matchett's Corner," which he followed to Fort JelTerson,
thence to Greenville and on to Fort Recovery, and that a large
trail came into this one near Lightsville, from the east. It is
also a matter of tradition that a well-known trail led from
Pickawillany to Greneville creek and along that stream to the
site of Greenville and thence on to the headwaters of \\"hite-
water river. Also that a trail led from Greenville in a west-
erly direction to the neighborhood of Nashville and thence
on to the Indian settlement of Delaware county, Indiana.
Probably other minor trails centered here about the ancient
fording place just below the junction of Mud and Greenville
creeks. It is known that Wayne during his occupancy of the
fort here, cut a road along the south side of Greenville creek


to its mouth at Covington i I'ort Rowdy i to assist in the
transportation of supplies iwm the latter jilace which ha<l
been brought from Fort Washington by boat up the Miami
and Stillwater. It seems that he also cut a trail to Fort
Loramie approximating the direction of the present Versailles
pike except that it probably kept east of the Stillwater to the
crossing at Fort I'.riar, liefore mentioned. He also straight-
ened and improved the trails cut by St. Clair. These trails
were used by the pioneers and were later straightened, par-
tially relocated, and improved, giving us the present pikes to
Troy, Versailles and Fort Recovery, and showing that in a
large measure the crafty savage selected the best and most
direct routes and located our best thoroughfares.

In the pioneer days of Darke county all state roads were
surveyed and established by special acts of the Legislature.
The first road laid out in this way was the old Troy pike.
which was cut through about 1811 from Hroy in Miami
county. This road also became the first toll pike in 1853.
This road ran south of Greenville creek to Gettysburg where
it crossed and kept on the north side to Greenville, crossing
at Boomershine fording — East Fifth street. A little later it
was altered and crossed near the present Main street bridge.
A road was located from Piqua to Greenville about 1817.
which intersected the Troy road at the present site of Gettys-
burg. A "Directory of Cincinnati," published in 1819, shows
a road running from that place to Greenville by the way of
Reading. Franklin and Dayton, a total distance of ninety-two
miles. From Da^'ton to Greenville, the distance was forty
miles, with the following stations : Razor's Mills, twelve miles :
William's Block House, eleven miles; Studdybaker's Block
House, nine miles; Greenville, eight miles. The Milton,
Shanesville (Ansonia). Fort Recoverv and Fort Jefferson
pikes were laid out shortly after the organization of the
county, on routes approximately the same as at present. Sev-
eral roads were laid out by the county commissioners at the
request of the settlers in various neighborhoods to suit their
convenience. Such roads usually followed the ridges and
avoided the ponds and marshes, and went far afield to accom-
modate isolated settlers. As the county became" more thickly
settled these roads were either vacated or straightened up as
far as feasible. The policy has been to locate the new roads
on section lines as far as possible. As a result of these early
and later road building enterprises Darke county has a sys-


tem of direct diagonal pikes leading from the county seats and
principal cities of the surrounding counties to Greenville, sup-
plemented by cross roads and pikes on most of the section lines.
This makes almost an ideal road system and knits the various
sections of the county to each other and all to the county
seat in a very efficient manner.

Strange as it may seem no turnpikes were built before a
railway was constructed in the county. The Greenville and
Gettysburg pike was the first built, being completed about the
same time as the G. & M. railway. The "Ithaca Free Turn-
pike Road" was granted on petition in June, 1858. Ten other
free pikes were ordered built between that date and 1868.

By the year 1870 such remarkable progress had been made
in road building as to call forth the following article in the
"Ohio Farmer:" "Who would have thought thirty-seven
years ago. when the writer first saw "old Darke county," that
it would ever stand foremost among the counties of its state
for its road enterprise. Why the county should have sur-
passed every other in the State in this regard, I am unable
to explain. It may be accounted for on the theory of extremes
— the roads were very bad, they are very good. Perhaps the
people thrown upon their own resources pushed their way in
this direction. It is certain that the pike business became in
time a local epidemic. The many rival stations fostered a
spirit of rivalry. A condition of things that favored the en-
terprise of turnpike construction was the tendency of the
people to invest in what promised to be a permanent im-
provement. Whatever may be the explanation, the secretary's
report for 1868 puts down 393 miles of turnpike roads for
Darke county ; Warren follows with 224 ; Clermont and
Wood, 200 each: Hamilton. 195; Montgomery, 152: Cham-
paign, 136; Greene, 117; Butler, 112, etc.

"Of course the burden of taxation is heavy and not every
farmer is in condition to pay $4 an acre road tax. Some were
obliged to sell off the land to enable them to meet assess-
ments, but hard as it was, even such gained in the end by the
rise in local values. It is quite a genera! feeling among the
people that they have taken too much upon their hands at
once. And as wheat is their staple product, the county rank-
ing fifth in the state, the low price at which their surplus will
probably have to be sold, may operate somewhat discourag-
ingly : but the resources of the county are abundant, and the
people will no doubt come out all right, and all the better for


their excellent system of roads. Parts of the county witli
which I was perfectly familiar ten years ago, I did not recog-
nize when passing through them last summer." * * *

It is readily seen and is generally acknowledged that the
opening and systematic improvement of roads is one of the
most important projects in the development of any new com-
munity, and Darke county has not proven an exception to
this statement. Today we have some thirteen hundred miles
of improved pikes and about seventeen hundred miles of roads
of all descriptions — enough, if placed end to end in a continu-
ous stretch, to reach from New York City almost to Den-
ver. Colo.

Early Neighborhood Settlements.

W'e have noted previously that a large per cent, of the area
of primitive Darke county was covered with swamps, making
large sections unfit for habitation until properly drained and
cleared. The settlers naturally selected the driest, healthiest
and most promising sections, and from these points of vantage
gradually worked out the problems of drainage, clearing and
cultivation, etc. It seems appropriate here to note the pro-
gress of settlement by 1825 and enumerate some of the first
families as noted by Prof. Mcintosh.

"Below Ithaca, in the southeast, lived Lucas and Robbins.
At intervals along ^Miller's Fork, near Castine. were Ellis,
Freeman, Park and Robert Phillips and J. F. Miller. On the