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

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Greenville has "society" now but there was a time there
when "we uns were just as good as you uns" and a darned
sight better. Greenville is very much cityfied now and socie-
tyfied as well.

During my last visit to Greenville I missed hearing any one
sing:

"Oh landlord fill the flowing bowl
Until it does run over.

For tonight, tonight, we'll merry, merry be,
And tomorrow we'll get sober."
Or:

"We'll harness up our bosses,
Our business to pursue ,

And whoop along to Greenville
As we used for to do."
Or:

"From Waddleton to Widdleton it's eighteen miles.
From Widdleton to ^^^addleton it's eighteen miles."



Or:



"We're bound to run all night.
We're bound to run all day;
I'll bet my money on that bob-tail hoss,
Who'll bet on the bay?"



DARKE COUNTY



279



Or:



Or:



"It's many days you've lingered
Around my cabin door.
Oh. hard times, hard times,
Come again no more."

Roll on silver moon,
Guide the traveler on his way —
Roll on, roll on, roll on."
Or:

"There is the landlord
Who'll feed your horse oats, corn and hay —
And whenever your back is turned
He'll take it all away —
In these hard times."

I didn't see a yoke of oxen during the whole of my stay there.
There used to be scores of ox teams in Darke county. I didn't
hear the crack of an ox whip, and not once did I hear any one
say:

"^^'hoa there, Buck.
Gee there, Bessy."

Not a boy in the whole town did I see walking on a pair of
stilts.

Nor did I see a game of mumble-dy peg.

Nor a game of horse-shoes.

I did not see a single tin lantern with holes punched through
it.

I didn't see a candle stick nor a tallow dip.

Not even a pair of candle moulds could be seen.

I didn't see a cooper shop in the town.

Nor a gunsmith shop.

I didn't see a pair of red-top boots on the feet of any boy or
anywhere else.

I didn't hear a Jew's-harp.

I didn't see a package of saleratus.

Nor a plug of dog-leg tobaco.

I didn't see a goose-quill pen.

There were lots of things I didn't see that used to be plen-
tiful.



280 DARKE COUXTY



Events of 1856.



The Courier was not in existence then, but the editor, John
Calderwood, was and had been here some nine years.

He remembers two big events in that year (1856). One of
them was a Democratic barbecue, held in Armstrong's "big
woods," near the spot where Mrs. William Schnouse now
resides (314 Washington avenue, near Cypress street). There
was a big ox roasted that day and there was a big crowd to
eat it. One of the "big" speakers was Samuel Medary.

The other big event was a sort of double show day, that is
to say, two shows were held here on the same day, namely,
Spaulding & Rogers' circus and Van-Amburg's menagerie.
The circus was held where the Michael ]\Iiller residence now
stands, and the menagerie was held near where the high
school building now stands.

That year, 1856, was a great year for noted events. The
presidential election was held that year, and John C. Freemont
was the republican candidate, and James Buchanan the dem-
ocratic candidate. Among the "big" men who spoke here
during that campaign were Tom Corwin, Salmon P. Chase
and Sam Galloway. Corwin was the leader — the most popu-
lar. Ohio never produced his equal as a stump-speaker. For
that matter, no other state could show an equal to Corwin.
Ingersoll, the greatest orator that ever belonged to the United
States, said of Corwin: "He stood peerless and alone in a
class by himself."

ANCIENT LANDMARKS AND LOCALITIES.
"Kentucky Point."

Where is Kentucky Point? Gone! \Miere was it? It was
a quarter of a mile west of the old fair grounds, and the
waters of Mud creek surrounded it on three sides when the
floods come.

I do not know who gave it the name of "Kentucky Point,"
but I do know that no spot of land in Darke county produced
more grapes than those few acres of land. There was
prairie on three sides of it full of mud and tussicks. but on
the south side was dry walking to the top of "Bunker Hill," a
quarter mile south. I suppose half of the wedding engage-
ments in those days were first "whispered" on that hill. It
was the one — and the only one — romantic spot near town.



DARKE COUNTY 281

The hill was probably one hundred feet high, which was verj'
"mountainous" to we boys then. Lovers could climb to the
top and gaze up the prairie many miles, and see the big hill
on Peter Weaver's farm, four miles away, and then they could
"see all over" Greenville, and see "Turner's mill on Martin's
Hill." This "mountain" was densely wooded and "lovers'
paths" leading hither and thither to ideal spots in which to
tell to each other as to "how happy my love will make you."

Another wild pigeon roost was over on "Kentucky Point,"
in Mud Creek prairie. That "point" was about one-half mile
due west of the south end of the old fair ground. Enos Shade
and Jack Switzer used to kill pigeons by the hundreds at that
place. That prairie used to be full of rabbits in the winter
time, and the creek used to be full of muskrats. I think I have
seen as many as fiffty muskrat houses projecting through the
ice from Mud creek bridge to Bishops Crossing. There used
to be lots of mink in those days. I can remember seeing the
pelts — several of them — of otters killed in Darke county.
Allen LaMotte had them in a huge pile of other pelts that he
had stacked on the sidewalk in front of his store on Broad-
way. "Big Jack" Smith, who lived in the "Beach," told me
that he killed a prairie wolf on his father's place when he was
a boy. There used to be lots of foxes in Darke county. Yes,
and lots of deer, too. There were wild deer in that county
when I was a boy. ' Wild turkeys were also plentiful. There
were lots of wild geese and wild ducks flying all over the
county no so many years ago. I don't think there ever were
any bear in Darke county — at least during my boyhood.

"Armstrong's Commons."

"What a little bit of a Jim Crow town Greenville was in
'65 ! Now it is putting on city airs with several kinds of gas,
electric lights, fire department, water works, telephones, and a
street railway — electric line, I believe.

"All that part of town south of Fifth street was a barren
tract of land, known as 'Armstrong's Commons.' Before the
war of the rebellion, it was covered with a thick forest. At
the left of Central avenue, before it crosses the railroad, was
a huge pond of water — now filled up and I undertand cov-
ered with dwelling houses. West of that street, where there
is now a long row of houses, w^as Jonathan Gilbert's brick



282 DARKE COUNTY

yard, afterwards leased by Manning Hart and later to John
Harry for brick-making. Mr. Hart finally sold it ofi in lots."

"I can look back to the time that all that part of Greenville
was a dense woods. I can remember when Ed Cline and Bill
Creager shot a pheasant at about where the Pennsylvania
depot stands. I give both of them credit for killing it as both
shot at it at the same time. A little north of that stood se-
veral dead trees in a bunch where wild pigeons by the hun-
dreds used to roost. It was great sport for the Greenville
sports in the '50s to shoot the pigeons on their roost.

"There were but two kinds of guns in those days — the
smooth bore rifle and the single barrel shotgun. The double
barrel shot gun was a rare article. The possessor of a double
barrel shot gun was envied on all sides. There were quite a
number of flint locks too in those days. Wooden ramrods
were in time displaced by iron ones. A gun with an iron ram-
rod was worth twice as much as it would be if it had a wooden
rod. Just why I can't say, but a fellow with an iron ramrod
to his gun wouldn't trade that gun off for a gun with a
wooden rod unless he got the worth of the other gun in cash
to 'boot.'

All that section of territory south of Martin street and east
of Central avenue, was a dense forest at that time, and many
times did I carry the game sack for hunters in that woods.
There used to be a brick yard on that plat of ground now oc-
cupied by the residences of Manning Hart, George Ullery and
the Widow Meeker (200 Central avenue, opposite Fifth
street) and more than once have I tracked rabbits in and out
of that yard. Jim Collins was my running mate in those days,
and while we were both good hunters, we never caught a
single rabbit to my recollection. Yet the sport was great, and
I look back upon those rabbit tracks with a fond memory. I
was considered some "punkins" in those days as a wood-
sawyer, and I shall never forget the day I was sawing wood
for Mr. Dorman and succeeded in sawing one of my big toes
nearly oflf. Taylor Dorman and \^olney Jenks assisted me
in bandaging up the toe and then helped me home, where I
remained for several weeks.

"Old Orchard" and "Spayde's Woods."

By the way, how many of the boys and girls of Greenville
have knowledge of the fact that all that block west of Mrs.



DARKE COUNTY



283



Judg-e Sater's house (218 West Fourth street) was once an
orchard?

Another thing the school children of 1856-1860 will recall is
the fact that from Lucas's corner (southwest corner of Fourth
street and Central avenue) to the railroad on Central avenue,
there wasn't a house, but back a bit from the street was a
huge brick yard.

And right (about) where Mrs. Lizzie Shepherd lives (201
Euclid avenue) was the center of Fletcher's nursery. And
about one hundred feet south of the residence of Charles
Roland, Sr. (corner Fourth street and Switzer street), was
a tombstone factory, also owned by Mr. Fletcher.

There was a grove of trees that extended along the side of
the hill in the rear of the residence of the editor of the Cour-
ier, where the boys and girls of 1856-1860 used to assemble
in winter time and coast down hill. In summer time it was a
great place for picnics and political meetings. Corwin, Chase,
Galloway, and many other distinguished orators addressed
large audiences there.

Another picnic and public meeting ground was "Spayde's
Woods," a little east of where T^ee Chenoweth and Newt
Arnold live (I am taking it for granted that they are still
living where they built many years ago).

"Goosepasture" and "Bunker Hill."

But one house existed east of the D. & LT. railroad —
south of Martin street. "Martin's Hill" rose fifty or seventy-
five feet and opposite the old IMartin tavern stood Turner's
distillery — all gone! There was no "Mackinaw" railroad in
those days. No LTnion school house or high school. No city
hall, no free turnpikes, no opera house, no daily papers, no
stenographers or typewriters or telephone girls. The pret-
tiest part of Greenville today was known as "Goosepasture"
in '65. The bridge at Broadway over the Greenville creek and
the one over the same stream at East Main street were both
covered. The latter was called the "Dutch" bridge, because
so many Germans crossed it to and from their homes a few
miles east of town. Mud creek was not ditched in those days,
and every spring the water overflowed the whole prairie from
Morningstar's tO Weaver's Station. "Bunker Hill" was the
only real "mountain" in the coimty, but now it is no more
forever — only as it lies spread on the streets of Greenville and



284 DARKE COUNTY

on the railroad. At the head of the prairie was another large
hill, near the Peter Weaver farm, but it was chopped down
and hauled away to ballast the Panhandle railroad.

Wayne Avenue and Wayne's Treaty.

W'hat is now called \\"ayne a\-enue in Greenville, was the
outpost of the old fort. \\'hat was known for years as Arm-
strong's Commons was once heavily timbered, but was
"cleared" off by citizens of Greenville for firewood, etc.

The Indians were very treacherous in those days, and had
sneaked in and murdered a number of persons throughout
the county, who had been working in their cleared patches of
ground.

Abraham Studabaker never went into his cornfield without
his flint lock rifle.

When I left Greenville in 1877, the trenches dug by
Wayne's soldiers were still in evidence along what is known
as Wayne avenue, and the huge rock that I spoke of in former
letter as having been buried at the crossing of Fifth and Syca-
more streets, was one of "Mad Anthony" W^ayne's landmarks.

I went over this ground pretty thoroughly in 1873, in com-
pany with David Baker of Mercer county. Mr. Baker was
then abotit eighty years of age, and he had the benefit of his
parents' personal knowledge of what he told me, and which he
afterwards published in The Courier in 1875. I think Mr.
Baker was a grand uncle to Jake, Van and Evan Baker. I
asked him to point out to me the exact spot where Wayne
held his treaty with the Indians, in 1795 ; he walked about for
awhile, and finally struck his cane on the ground and said :
"This looks to me as the spot my father declared that he saw
the Indian chiefs and their tribes sitting in a circle when Gen-
eral Wayne and his aids came down from the creek bank or
the old fort, I can not now say which. But father said all the
chiefs were smoking long pipes filled with tobacco General
Wayne had given them."

In company with my son George to Greenville in 1904. I
took him down to show him where the treaty of Greenville
was held, and found the ground was occupied by the resi-
dence of Monroe Phillips fSycamore, Fifth and Devor
streets). That is the spot where Mr. Baker said: "Greenville
will some day build a monument to General Wavne, and I
hope it will be done during mv lifetime."



DARKE COUNTY 285

;\Ir. Baker died the following year, I believe, near Cold-
water, Mercer county.

Old Court House and Market House.

The entrance of the old court house of my childhood faced
Main street on the west. Originally a wide hall passed
through it from east to west, but the east end was shut ofif to
make room for the auditor's office. Immediately on the left
as you entered the building was the stairway leading to the
court room above. The front door to the left as you entered
the hallway was the treasurer's office. Jim McKhann, George
Martz, Thos. P. Turpen, Eli Helm were the treasurers in
those days. The recorder's office was entered by a door
facing on the north side, east corner of the building, and the
recorders, as I remember them, were Edington, Robison, Shep-
herd, Beers and Medford. The auditor's office, facing on the
east side of Broadway, was presided over in succession by
George Coover, D. B. Clew, E. H. Wright, O. C. Perry and
Dr. John E. Matchett. The clerk's office faced Broadway on
the west side and Doc Porterfield, Henry Miller and Ham.
Slade were from time to time the occupants, Slade, I think,
going from there into the new building.

The east side of the old court house was always a shady
spot in the summer afternoons and many a political meeting
was held there. I have heard such men speak there as Sal-
mon P. Chase, Thomas Corwin. George H. Pendleton. Sam
Cary, Sam Hunt, C. L. Vallandigham. Durbin Ward, Senators
Thurman and Sherman, Lewis D. Campbell, George A. Sheri-
dan, General Gibson, Governor Tod, Governor Dennison,
General Noyes and many other orators of national reputation.
Corwin, of course, was the greatest of them all, America
never having produced his equal on the stump. Great as In-
gersoll was in his prime, he could not sway the masses as Cor-
win did.

Then the old market house stood north of the old court
house (now the site of the city hall).

"Many were the nights'" I played "London Loo" on that
historic square and around that old market house. Well do I
remember the great bonfires we used to build there on elec-
tion nights.



286 DARKE COUNTY

"Quicks' Spring" and "Big Woods."

I suppose that "Quicks' Spring" has been dry many years.
Where was it located? Just take a walk to the foot of the
hill on the Jefferson pike to where it crosses a ravine, south
of the old residence of the late Isaac Rush, south of the
Brethrens' Home, and follow the rivulet in that ravine east-
ward to its source, and you will come to the Quick Spring, or
where it used to be when I was a boy.

Many and many a time have I rolled up my pants and
waded in that stream, from Rush's culvert to the Eaton road.
Great place that was for boys to build small dams and ope-
rate "flutter mills" made of cornstalks. I can remember when
it was all "woods" from our home (where Smith O'Brien now
lives), to the present fair grounds, and on to Fort Jefferson,
with very slight breaks. In later years, when the trees were
all cut away, mullein stalks grew up there so thick that we
boys often "charged upon them" with sticks and beat them to
the ground — mowing them right and left, as we "moved for-
ward in solid phalanx upon the foe."

Then House's "thicket," where the fair grounds are now
located. There is where we boys of 18.^7-8-9 and '60 used to
go hunting rabbits.

Bishop's mill-pond (north of Prophetstown) was always an
objective point in winter when the skating was good. I think
Noah Helm was the best skater in Greenville after Bob Roby
left. Bob was the champion, if my memorv is correct. Henry
Tomlinson and his brother Ed were both good skaters.

Indian Trail.

(By JMrs. Barney Collins.)

"One of the last spots I visited about old Greenville, in com-
pany with two of my children, was to follow the old Indian
trail as far as I could trace it, out the Panhandle railroad
tracks, which followed and destroyed the trail for a long dis-
tance, just west of what is now Oak View. The trail then
was as plainly to be seen as the public road, worn deep into
the foot of the hill that skirts Mudcreek prairie by many
Indian feet that trod it. single-file, as the tribes traveled from
point to point in those wild days.

"From the hillside trail we crossed over past the spring
(yet bubbling from the earth just below Oak View. I am told



DARKE COUNTY



287



north, on edge of prairie) and found the old bridge and road
built across the prairie by General Wayne's men to reach the
block-house on the old Devor farm, just west of the prairie.
The logs in the house were (1850) in a good state of preser-
vation. Some of them were deeply imbedded in the soil,
while others lay out plainly as though but recently put there.
That old trail led on north along the brow of the hill a few
steps west of where Sweitzer street now is, ending, as far as
I recollect, at what is known as Tecumseh's point, at junction
of Greenville and Mud creeks."

"Beech Grove" and "Matchett's Corner."

^^'hen in Darke county last summer I looked in vain for
the "Reech." It was gone — cleared off into farms of the most
productive kind. Even the corduroy road was gone that
stretched for two miles below IMatchett's Corner, toward
Twinsboro. Even Twinsboro is gone. Sampson is gone and
Karn's school house is no more. Judge D. H. R. Jobes used
to teach school in that old log building. I can see it now with
its two big windows on one side and its big fire place in the
center. And the benches — wooden ones without a back, lined
up in front of two long tables that sloped to one side. I don't
remember whether there was a blackboard in the house or not,
but I do know that there were slates galore.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of Matchett's Corner,
crossing of Eaton and Ithaca pikes, in the Reigle district. I
think— -was an old church that had been converted into a
"college," by the ]\Iartz Brothers — George H. and Jacob T.,
— and for the life of me I can't remember the name of that
college. Perhaps it was Otterbein. Xo, that can't be, for
there was a college at \\'esterville by that name.

That was in the days when Hen. Wikle drove stage (hack)
from Lewisburgh and Euphema to Greenville twice a week.
Several Greenville girls attended that college — among them
my sister Lucinda — and these girls always rode to and from
college in \\'ikle's hack. When the roads were good the hack
reached Greenville about five in the afternoon, but in bad
weather it seldom got in before ten or eleven at night.

From the time these girls would leave the college until they
reached Greenville they would sing such songs as:



288 DARKE COUNTY

Roll on, silver moon,

Guide the traveler on his way,

Roll on, roll on, roll on, etc.

"Where was JMoses when the light went out?" "Home,
Sweet Home," "A life on the ocean wave," "Annie Laurie,"
"I'll hang my harp on a willow tree," "Nellie Gray," "Suwanee
River," "The last rose of summer," "Wait for the wagon,"
"Willie, we have missed you," and many other old-time songs.

I wish some reader of The Courier would send me the
words to the following sons: "Welcome, old rosin, the bow,"
"Pat Malloy," "Roll on, silver moon," "Kitty Wells," and
"Daisy Dean." I have tried a number of places to get those
songs, but failed.

Neimeier's Pottery.

^^'hile we are standing on this corner (Vine and Main
streets) let's take a peep up and down this (Vine) street.
That house you see standing across Mud Creek yonder is
where 'Squire Morningstar lives. He is one of the best fid-
dlers in town. He calls oft the dances while he is fiddling
and dancing himself. That's gretty good, isn't it? That's a
steep hill that goes down to the bridge. The farmers often
get stuck there when they're hauling in wood or maybe pump-
kins. That little house to the left on the brow of the hill is
where Sam Musser lives. He's a tailor and he can swear like
sixty; but he's so "Dutch" nobody can understand his cuss
words, and they are more amusing than profane. That frame
house standing away back there to the left is Neimeier's pot-
tery, and if we had time we'd go over there and see him make
crocks. He's got lots of clay over there and he's got an iron
rod that stands up about a yard, and on top of that rod is the
top of a table, which isn't over a foot and a half in diameter.
Then he has two dogs, and he keeps 'em in a box that tips up
at one end. There's a floor in the box that moves under the
dogs' feet every time they try to walk. There is a big strap
that is fastened to a big wheel on the side of the box and it
runs over to a small wheel that turns the little table-top
around about a hundred times a minute. Then he pulls a
wedge out of the side of the dog-house and the weight of the
dogs makes the floor move under their feet and the dogs just
keep a runnin' their legs so's they won't fall down. An' when
the table gets to spinnin' real good. Mr. Neimeier picks up a
"hunk" of clay about as big as a brick and he puts it on the



DARKE COUNTY



289



table. Then he pushes his fingers into the center of the mud
and the sides of it begin to grow right up as high as a crock.
He puts a little paddle inside this hollow place he's made in
the mud, and he makes it as smooth as this board here on the
fence. He makes about one hundred and mebbe more of 'em
in a day, and then he puts them in a furnace and bakes them
as women do bread in their ovens in the yard. When they
are baked real hard he takes them out one at a time and dips
them in some red -stuff in a big box, and they come out all
colored up.

I'll bet them dogs get awful tired, for when he lets them out
their tongues lall out of their mouths. I heard he was going
to get a horse machine that will beat that dog machine all hol-
low. I hope he will, so's to give the dogs a rest.

You see there are no more houses on that vacant lot. but I
heard that Lawyer Devor, who lives down in Huntertown,
was going to build a frame house right there on that corner.

"Huntertown."

It was the opinion of many folks in Greenville that the
"tribe" living in Huntertown didn't amount to much. But do
you know, my dear reader, that right in that one spot of
Greenville, more young men and boys responded to their
country's call in its hour of need than any other one spot per-
haps in this whole country of ours. Think of it, will you,
and then count them over?

Stewart Buchanan, Melvin Shepherd, ^^'ikoff Marlatt, Billy
Marlatt, Jerry Tebo, William Stokeley, Henry Shamo, George
Perkins, Thomas Hamilton, Frank Pingrey, Philip Ratlift',
Warren Ratliff. David Ratliff, Elijah Ratliff, Firman Sebring,
Lafayette HufF, George Calderwood, John Calderwood, Enos
Calderwood, Andrew Robeson Calderwood, Willard Pember,
Daniel Nyswonger, William Musser, Isaac Briggs. Thomas
McKee, William Miller, Barney Collins, Adam Sonday, John
Hutchinson, Fred Reinhart, Mayberry Johnson, William
I\lusselman, James and Isaac Pierce: John Hamilton, Tom
McDowell and Thomas F. Boyd. Fourteen of the above
named belonged to the Fortieth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The
only men left behind were John Wilson and Wallace Shep-
herd, Thomas Stokeley and his father (too old for war), John