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

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Ohio and eastern Ohio.

Glacial Invasion.

While eastern Ohio was in process of formation the vast
Niagara limestone plateau to the west was being deeply
eroded by the active chemical agents and the frequent terri-
fic storms of that far-oft", changing age. The smoothing touch
of a might}' force was needed to fill the yawning chasms and
deep ravines and prepare the surface of this ancient continent
to be the fit abode of imperial man and his subject creatures.
Such a force was soon to become operative. Evidence has
been adduced by prominent geologists and special students
of glacial action to show that part of the deep soil of north-
ern and western Ohio and the contiguous territory has actu-
ally been transported from the region north of the Great
Lakes by the action of glacial ice, and deposited in its present
location upon the melting and retreat of the immense frozen
mass. Ice, snow and glacial debris probabl}- covered this
part of Ohio to a depth of several hundred feet during this
frigid era. Startling as this statement may at first seem it
has been arrived at after a careful scientific observation and
study of the active glaciers of Greenland, Alaska, Norway and

The Laurentide Glacier.

The center of accumulation and dispersion of this glacial
ice was probably the Laurentian plateau or ledge of primi-
tive igneous and granitic rock lying north of the Great Lake-
and St. Lawrence river. During the Tertiar}' period, just
preceding the formation of this great glacier, a temperature
similar to that of southern Virginia prevailed in the polar
regions. In course of time the northern part of the North
American Continent probably became somewhat elevated
while the central part became correspondingly depressed.
The snows of years and centuries accumulated on this ele-
vated region, consolidated into glacial ice, pushed slowh-


southward along the lin^of least resistance, filled up the de-
pressions occupied by the Great Lakes, and then moved on
over the divide until arrested and counteracted by the in-
creasing heat of lower latitudes. As in the case of modern
glaciers, this vast sheet advanced and retreated in obedience
to meterologic agencies, carrying on its surface or within its
mass broken fragments and debris from its native granite
ledges, scraping and pushing forward immense quantities of
the eroded surface of the limestone rock over which it moved,
grinding, mixing, kneading, rubbing, polishing, sorting and
finally depositing this material where it is now found.

Terminal Moraine.

The southern boundary of this great ice sheet has been
carefully traced from the New England states, across New
York, Pennsylvania, the northern Ohio Valley states, and
the states north of the Missouri river. Roughly speaking,
this glacial boundary line, in its central and western por-
tion, parallels the Ohio and â– Missouri ribers. It enters east-
ern Ohio in Columbia county, continues in a westerly
direction to Canton in Stark county, and thence a few
miles beyond Millersburg in Holmes county ; here it
turns abruptly southward through Knox, Licking and Fair-
field counties and into Ross county ; thence it bears south-
westward through Chillicothe to southeastern Highland
county and northwestern Adams county, reaching the Ohio
river near Ripley in Clermont county. Following the north
bank of the river to Cincinnati, it here crosses over into
Boone county, Kentucky, makes a short circular loop and re-
crosses the Ohio river into southeastern Indiana, near Ris-
ing Sun. It now follows approximately the north bank of
the Ohio to the neighborhood of Louisville, Ky., where it
turns northward to Martinsville, in Morgan county, in the
south-central part of the state. Here it turns west and south
and crosses the Wabash river near New Harmony. It con-
tinues this course to near the center of the extreme southern
part of Illinois, then bends in a northwesterly direction and
crosses the iMississippi just south of St. Louis, JMo. The
most productive soil lies north of this line and within the gla-
ciated area.


Local Glacial Phenomena.

(1) Surface Boulders.

Striking evidence oi glacial action is found in Darke coun-
ty in the rounded and sub-angular granitic boulders that were
encountered in large numbers, scattered over the surface in
certain well defined sections of the county, and still encoun-
tered within a few feet of the surface when making shallow

A very noticeable streak of these boulders, three or four
hundred yards in width, formerly extended from the northern
part of Van Buren township in a southwesterly direction,
crossed the D. & U. railway a few miles south of Jaysville,
then turned to the southeast through Twin township near
Ithaca, and followed along Millers Fork of Twin creek into
Preble county Boulders from eight to twelve feet in diam-
eter were encountered in the northern part of this ridge.
Most of these have been blasted and the smaller ones picked
up and used in constructing foundation walls for houses and
barns or to fill ravines and depressions, so that only slight
traces now remain of this distinct moraine. The underly-
ing tract of land is now under active cultivation and pro-
duces fair crops.

These boulders, as well as those found in other localities,
are largely colored granites, greenstones, quartzites and con-
glomerates, are quite distinct in color, texture, etc.. from the
Niagara limestone and are not found in ledges above the sur-
face within a radius of several hundred miles.

In the museum of Oberlin College the writer once saw
fragments of various colored rocks from the ancient Lauren-
tian and Huronian ledges, beyond Lake Nipissing and Geor-
gian Bay. matched with corresponding fragments of various
surface boulders found in Lorain county, Ohio. These frag-
ments consisted of granites, gneisses, metamorphic and trap
rocks, similar to those found in Darke county, and bore in-
disputable evidence of glacial transportation.

(2) Glacial Till.

Another source of striking evidence is the immense de-
posits of unstratified clay and sand, intermingled with
scratched stones and worn rock fragments. In the days when
wells were dug in Greenville careful observations were made


of the various deposits encountered before reaching bed rock
and the following very interesting table was prepared to in-
dicate an average section from many wells :

Inches to feet

Sod or loam 6 H

Red clay 4

Yellow clay 12 15

Yellow sand or gravel 6 20

Blue sand or gravel 8 30

Blue clay with pebbles 3 18

Fine compact blue clay H

Hard pan alternating with blue

clay - 10 20

Blue clay 3 9

Boulder clay 10 20

A well at the corner of Fourth and Broadway, Greenville,
O., passed through ninety-five feet, and one near the P. C.
C. & St. L. passenger station through about one hundred
and thirt}' feet of this glacial till. Such deposits are best
accounted for as the result of glaciation.

(3) Karnes.

Glacial phenomena of a distinct and unusual character ap-
pear along the prairie stretching from the mouth of Mud
Creek at Greenville for about ten miles in a southwesterly
direction toward New Madison. Near Greenville one first
notices isolated conical knolls containing stratified deposits
of sand and gravel appearing above the surface of the sur-
rounding prairie. One of these, known as Bunker Hill, for-
merl}' appeared about a mile southwest of Greenville near
the tracks of the C. N. R. R. It was once about forty feet
high but has since been almost entirel}' removed. A section
of this hill showed the following phenomena : red clay three
(3) feet; fine yellow sand, four (4) feet; unassorted gravel,
twenty-four (24) to thirt,y (30) feet. About four miles fur-
ther south along the east side of the prairie, in the vicinity of
Fort Jefferson, a series of elongated knolls, with axes running
generally northwest and southeast, are encountered. They
were formerly covered with a beautiful growth of large tim-
ber, mostly oak, and were known as the Hills of Judea.
Gravel pits were opened in these hills about thirty years
ago by the C. N. R. R. and vast quantities of material re-


moved to ballast the tracks and improve the pikes of the
counties in northwestern Ohio. The Greenville Gravel Com-
pany commenced operations here in 1905 and have removed
probably more than fifty thousand carloads of sand, gravel
and boulders in that time. It is estimated that some twenty
million cubic yards of gravel, etc., are still available from
these hills. An analysis of some of these deposits shows
about sixty per cent of granitic material, thirty per cent, of
lime, and eight per cent, of trap. The sand and gravel ex-
posed in these vast pits appear in well defined but irregular
shaped strata, which bear evidence of the action of running
water. Quite a number of granitic boulders, mostly from
six to eight inches in diameter, and similar in color and va-
riety to those found on the surface, are scattered in these
deposits. Such elongated gravel hills are a rare phenomenon
in Ohio, and are known as kames. Careful observation indi-
cates that they were formed upon the melting of the ancient
glaciers and mark lines of drainage, which commenced under
the vast ice mass and continued until an opening had been
made through the upper surface. In this manner the ma-
terial enclosed within the ice mass would be sorted and de-
posited as it is now found. The trend of the knolls indi-
cates the probable direction in which the subglacial stream
discharged, viz : to the southeast.

A fine specimen of black diorite boulder about four feet
in height and weighing some seventy-six hundred pounds was
found in the bed of a rivulet on the Meeker farm, just north
of Greenville creek, and has been used by the Greenville His-
torical Society in marking the site of the Wa3nne's Treaty in

Moranic Belts.

(1) Miami Moraine.

The geological survey made by the U. S. government in-
dicates three distinctively defined moraines crossing Darke
county. The southernmost moraine crosses the southwest-
ern section of the count}' and is a part of the Miami lobe of
the main moranic system of the late Wisconsin stage of
glaciation. This lobe, which is practically continuous be-
tween Lynn and Richmond, Indiana, divides into three mem-
bers near the state line. These three members run south-
easterly in parallel lines to the Miami Valley, then tend to


unite and turn northeasterly and continue between the Mad
river and the headwaters of the great Miami. Traces of this
moraine may be seen near Troy, Harrisburg, Pyrmont, Air
Hill, West Sonora, Fort Jefferson and New Madison. The
ridge of boulders formerly noted as running through Van
Buren and Twin townships seems also to be a part of this
system as well as the isolated gravel hills in the Mud creek
prairie, and the remarkable ridges at Fort Jefferson, which
formerly rose from fifty to sixty feet above the prairie. The
surface of the country to the eastward of this belt is more level
than to the west. Just east of Fort Jefferson this moranic
belt turns abruptly southward and follows the valley of
Miller's Fork of Twin creek, passing near Ithaca. West
Sonora and Euphemia. At Arcanum, near the inner border
of this moraine, the glacial drift is about fifty feet deep and in
the valley near New Madison, on the outward border, the
debris is as much as seventy-five feet in depth.

(2) Union Moraine.

A distinct moraine crosses the central part of Darke
county and is described as a part of the Maumee-Miami lobe
of the late Wisconsin stage of glaciation. It is a minor
moraine and has been traced from near Muncie, Indiana, to
the headwaters of the Great Miami river, near Lewistown,
Ohio. It enters Darke county at Union City, follows the
north side of Greenville creek in a southeasterly direction to
Greenville and thence runs eastward to Bradford. Its high-
est points are near Union City, where it reaches an altitude
of 1,125 to 1,150 feet above tide. Its lowest point is between
Greenville and the Miami river, where it descends to about
1,000 feet. This deposit is known as the Union Moraine, and
it appears in Darke county as a bow shaped ridge with a
gently undulating surface. The presence of this ridge ac-
counts for the fact that there are no important branches en-
tering Greenville creek from the north and suggests that
this stream has been forced to seek a channel to the south
of its original bed by these immense glacial deposits. The
thickness of drift along this moraine is seldom more than
fifty feet and some rock exposures occur along its outer bor-
der in the neighborhood of Baer's Mill. However, a depth of
165 feet to rock is reported near the Union City pike just
west of the township line in Washington township, and 117



feet on the Ben Chenoweth farm one mile west of this point.
At the Children's Home, on the north side of this moraine,
the drift is about 110 feet deep. Along the south side of
Greenville creek for a distance of about three miles east of
Greenville, are knolls which contain much assorted material
and some till. These probably belong with the drift of the
main moranic system. From these hills eastward to the
county line small and well rounded boulders were formerly
found in large number, while many large angular boulders
are scattered over the plains to the south through Poplar
Ridge, as before mentioned.

"Greenville creek has a narrow gorge up to Greenville Falls,
about one-half mile above its mouth. Its bed above the falls
is mainly in the drift and its valley is less restricted and
varies considerably in width. A gravel plain extends up the
creek two miles or more and remnants of glacial gravel are
found almost the entire length of the creek, but they are less
conspicuous than the gravel plain near its mouth. The phe-
nomena seem to indicate that the creek adapted its course
along the outer border of the moraine because of a valley
opened b}' glacial waters."

(3) Alississinawa Aloraine.

A third moranic belt enters Darke county at the northwest
angle, trends south of east to the vicinity of Versailles, and
then turns northeasterly into Shelby county. In Indiana
this moraine follows the north bank of the Mississinawa river
for the greater part of its length and, therefore, is called the
Mississinawa moraine. It also belongs to the Maumee-
JNIiami lobe, before mentioned. This ridge is about six miles
wide where it enters the northwest corner of the county. At
the headwaters of Stillwater creek, near Lightsville, a broad
swampy plain skirts the southern border of this moraine.
The Stillwater follows the southern border of this ridge for
several miles to the neighborhood of Beamsville. Low grav-
elly knolls mark its outer border. Just north of Versailles a
gravelly plain extends southward along Swamp creek from
this point and passes through Versailles. This plain is about
half a mile wide and stands about twenty-five feet above
the level of the creek. Borings at Versailles show this gravel
bed to be about thirty-four feet through and the distance
to rock, through gravel and till, from 120 to 1-K) feet. At


Yorkshire the drift is less than one hundred feet in depth.
The tract of land lying between this moraine and the Union
moraine consists mainly of a smooth surfaced till plain on
which the drift has nearly as great a thickness as on the
latter moraine, in which it merges on the south. The isolated
gravel cairns, before mentioned, are sometimes accounted for
on the theory that at the period of greatest depression during
the ice age the water shed itself was submerged and great
icebergs from the north became stranded on the southern
slope. Here they melted and deposited their loads of debris
in the interlocking wedge shaped layers of sand, gravel and
yellow clay.

Preglacial erosion of the ancient limestone left a very un-
even surface with gorges here and there of very great depth.
A noticeable efTect of glacial action was the leveling up of
the area which it covered. The vast deposits of clay, sand
and gravel just noted filled up the old valleys and in many
cases formed new drainage basins, some of which were quite
distinct from the ancient systems. The erosion of new chan-
nels through these deposits has taken a long time, roughh-
estimated at six or seven thousand years, on the basis of the
size and velocity of the eroding streams and the amount of
material removed. The finding of roughly chipped argillitic
implements beneath gravel river terraces near Trenton, N.
J., and near Cincinnati, Ohio, have led some to the conclu-
sion that man lived before and during the glacial period. One
might readily conceive that a type of man similar to the
modern Eskimo could have lived in some degree of comfort
during that far ofif age. Perhaps he had as his companion
those massive animals of the elephant type known respec-
tively as the mammoth and mastodon.

Extinct Animals.

Remains of these huge animals have been found in Darke
county from time to time, mostly in the muck or peat de-
posits near the headwaters of small streams. A tooth of a
mammoth and parts of several mastodons are exhibited in the
museum in the basement of the Carnegie library at Green-
ville. One huge mastodon jaw measuring 33 inches in great-
est length was found near the headwaters of Mud creek in
Harrison township. Mr. Calvin Young describes the ex-
cavation of the remains of a mastodon in a peat bog on the



farm then belonging to Absalom Shade along Crout creek
on the site of a former lakelet in the southeast quarter of sec-
tion thirty-four, Washington township, in 1883. Some of
the bones were spread out on the original gravel bed of the
pre-historic lake and covered with about four and a half feet
of peat and blue mud. The lower jaw contained the full set
of teeth, which, when first exposed to view, were glistening
white, but soon became dark. Almost a complete skeleton of
mastodon was found in Neave township on the Delaplaine
farm near the head of Bridge creek. The remains were well
preserved and are now on exhibition in the public museum.
The femur of this animal measures forty inches in length and
has a circumference of thirty-two inches at the knee and
seventeen inches between the knee and hip ball. The hu-
merus is thirty-two inches long and thirty-four inches around
the largest joint. Some of the bones of another well-pre-
served specimen were found on the farm of Hezekiah Woods,
on the northwest corner of section nine, Brown township, near
the upper Stillwater.

The mammoth is descrilDed as having been a third taller
and nearly twice as heavy as the modern elephant. He was
covered with long shaggy hair and had a thick mane extend-
ing along his neck and back. His coat of hair comprised coarse
black bristles about eighteen inches long and shorter under
coats of finer hair and woo! of a fawn and reddish color which
fitted him for residence in cold climates. No doubt he ranged
northern Europe and Asia as well as America in large herds
for his frozen carcass has been found in Siberia near the
Artie ocean and large quantities of his curved ivory tusks
have been gathered and sold by the natives of Alaska. His
molar teeth sometimes had an extreme grinding surface of
four by twelve or thirteen inches with corrugations enabling
him to masticate the branches and foliage of northern ever-
green trees, birches, willows, etc.

The mastodon was even larger than the mammoth, at-
taining a height of twelve to thirteen feet, and an extreme
length, including his huge tusks, of twenty-four to twenty-
five feet. His tusks curved downward and forward while
those of the mammoth curved upward in a circle. His hair
was of a dun brown color and probably half as long as that
of the mammoth. His teeth were rectangular in form, with a
grinding surface of large conical orojections, which enabled


him to feed on the twigs of trees and coarse vegetable

In hunting such food he was often tempted into marshy
places where he became mired, and was unable to extricate
his ponderous body, as evidenced by the attitude in which
remains are sometimes found. The mastodon seems to have
become extinct near the close of the glacial period, while the
mammoth lingered into post glacial times. The remains of
-a giant beaver were found in the Dismal Swamp at the head
of Dismal creek, the most western branch of Greenville
creek, about seven miles southeast of Winchester, Randolph
county, Indiana, and only a few miles from the Darke coun-
ty line. This animal was about seven feet in length and the
remains are now on exhibition in the museum of Earlham
College, Richmond, Indiana. This animal has been long ex-
tinct and its remains are rare. The proximity of this locality
suggest that the giant beaver frequented the streams of
Darke and adjoining counties at an early date.

Peat Bogs.

Peat bogs are found in various localities in Darke county.
The Mud creek prairie was, no doubt, at one time submerged
from the source of the creek near New Madison to its junc-
tion with Greenville creek at Greenville, forming a shallow
lake. Peat beds of considerable size were formed in this
marsh, notably near the C. N. station at Fort Jefiferson and
near the crossing of the C. N. and P. C. C. & St. L. R. R.,
some two miles southwest of Greenville. These deposits run
about two or three feet in depth and in dry seasons have been
known to catch afire and burn several days. Shortly after
the C. C. C. & St. L. R. R. was built and operated a con-
siderable section of track disappeared in Brown township
some distance west of the crossing of the Fort Recovery pike.
A small branch of the Stillwater drains this district and a
peat bog had formed in the marsh over which the railway
made a fill of loam and gravel. The weight of this material
broke through the crust of peat and revealed a lakelet, which
had been filled with logs, aquatic plants, etc., and finally cov-
ered with a deposit of peat formed from the rank vegetable
growths of long years. Similar deposits are found along
Bridge creek, southeast of Greenville, and small areas are
found near the headwaters of small streams in various parts


of the count}-. Some of these peat bogs have probably been
formed in wliat are known by glacial students as "kettle-
holes" resulting from the gradual melting of great masses of
ice which had been kept almost intact for a long time by the
thick covering of glacial debris. Other bogs may have been
formed in shallow lakelets which had been caused by the ob-
struction of shallow drainage lines by glacial deposits.



It is always interesting to tlie local archeologist and his-
torian to know when man made his first appearance in his
locality. Thus far we have no evidence that he appeared in
Darke county before the ice age. The earliest indications of
his appearance are the few small mounds, the vast quanti-
ties of finished and unfinished stone implements, and the
spawls scattered profusely over the surface of the county.
Scientists now incline to the view that the ancient American,
commonly called the Mound Builder, was the ancestor of the
copper colored Indian, who greeted the first European explor-
ers of our continent, and whose descendants are still with us.
The coarse black hair, the high cheek bones, the swarthy
complexion, the general facial expression, the cunning handi-
craft and the nomadic habits of the Indian combine to indicate
a close relationship with the Mongoloid tribes of northern
Asia, and lend color to the conviction that America was peo-
pled across Behring Strait at a remote date. The Mound
Builder made his home in the Mississippi valley and con-
structed some of his most remarkable works within the limits
of the present state of Ohio, especially in the southern part.
The most noted of these are the Serpent Mounds in Adams
and Warren counties ; Fort Ancient on the Little Miami river
in Warren county ; large conical mound near Miamisburg and
geometrical earth works at Chillicothe, Marietta and New-
ark. It will be noted that, with the exception of the Ser-
pent ^founds, which seems to have been secluded sites of
ancient worship, these works are located along the principal
northern tributary streams of \he Ohio. In the valley of the
Great Miami we find a great profusion of geometrical works
in Butler county, and isolated mounds and burial sites near