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

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Franklin, Miamisburg. Dayton and Piqua. As we ascend to
the headwaters of the tributary streams the works diminish
in number and size and are confined largely to isolated altar
mounds, camp sites and burial places. This was probably
due largely to the swampv and inaccessible condition of the


country near such small streams, and we are, therefore, not
surprised that few mounds or earth works of consequence
appear in Darke county. The ruthless plow of the settler and
pioneer have practically obliterated even these few and for
the limited knowledge that we have of them we are largely
indebted to such men as Mr. Robert M. Dalrymple (de-
ceased) of Baker's store, and to Air. Calvin Young, of Wash-
ington township. Several years ago Air. Young opened a
mound on his farm, about a mile west of Nashville, and found
a few spears, arrows and slate implements but no pipes. Just
east of Nashville, in the isolated gravel cairns on the Cable
and Crick farms, several skeletons and implements have been
found, also a Queen conch shell which had been buried a
depth of some sixteen feet. On the Martin farm, just west
of Greenville, two conical elevations, about twelve feet high,
resembling mounds, formerly appeared, but have been oblit-
erated by the plow and gravel excavations. Near New Madi-
son an altar mound, originalh^ about twenty feet high, was
found. This was opened at the center in earh^ days and re-
vealed a hard, baked clay altar, on the surface of which were
found bone needles, ivory beads, slate relics, etc., with traces
of iron rust. This mound has also been leveled by the plow
which still turns over ashes when passing over this place. It
is situated near an ancient burial ground and on the extrem-
ity of a ridge overlooking a prairie. In this connection we
herewith quote from the pen of R. M. Dalrymple, who wrote
several interesting articles on local archeologj' for the
Greenville Journal several years ago.

"The ancient Americans believed in a future state of exist-
ence, also that the character of the life beyond the grave
was very much like the life they had led here, so when the}'
buried their dead the implements, ornaments, etc., possessed
by the deceased in life were buried with them, and the cere-
monies preceding burial were, doubtless, more or less elab-
orate, according to the rank of the dead.

"The Mound Builders, as a general rule, buried their dead
in the gravel banks throughout the country, in graves which
were generally three feet deep, but in some cases much
deeper. Their remains have generally been found either in a
sitting or standing position.

"Near North Star years ago was a hill composed of a fine
quality of gravel. In making the pikes in that ci~iuntrv this
hill was all hauled awaj-. A large number of human bones


were found in the hill and were hauled out on the road,
where they lay for several years until crushed and ground
to atoms by traveling vehicles, no one paying any attention
to collecting and preserving these ancient remains, ^^'e
think that no relics were found in this cemetery.

"At Bishop's crossing, near Greenville, in building the
pikes, several graves, either Indian or Mound Builder, were
discovered. With the bones were found pipes of stone, spear-
heads and other relics. An old gentleman, who helped to do
this work, said that the graves wete^ny^ minierous, and
about all of them contained relics. A tTXi^oZlf

"It is likely that some of these graves were those of In-
dians. It was the custom in this locality when the Indians
buried their dead, if a chief, to kill his pony and bury it with
him besides the implements used by him while alive ; then
to build a pen of logs around the small mound to keep out
wild animals, which might dig up the remains if not protected
in this manner. A chief by the name of Blue Jacket was
buried in Greenville township in the manner described, ^^'e
are not able to tell just the exact difference between a Mound
Builder's and an Indian's grave, but if the bones of a ponj-
are found with the human skeleton it w-ould be safe to call
it an Indian's grave.

"There is a grave! hill in the prairie on the farm of George
Reigle, near Fort Jefferson, in which a single skeleton was
found but no relics or other bones. Near Clark's Station is
an ancient graveyard in a gravel ridge also. Gravel is liauled
out on the road every year and as it is caved skeletons aie
often unearthed which were buried in a standing position.

"The locality in and around Nashville, German township,
furnishes some interesting information. One or two mounds
have been opened yielding a lot of relics, skeletons, etc. Two
large shells, native of the Pacific coast, were taken from one
of the mounds. The inside had beeen cut out of them leav-
ing a large cavity capable of holding about one gallon, and
making a very beautiful addition to the kitchen furniture
of the ancient people of the stone age.

"Northwest of New IVIadison, close to a mound, is another
of the ancient cemeteries. It is situated on the southern end
of a ridge while the mound is on the northern end. The last
rites were, most likely, performed at the altar mound and the
dead then carried to where thev are found. Several skeletons


have been found in this place but they soon crumble on ex-
posure to the air.

"One of the most interesting burial spots was discovered
on the farm of Jesse Woods in German township. In digging
the cellar under the house where he lives. Mr. Woods dis-
covered a skeleton in a sitting posture. It was covered with
plates of mica and was the central figure in a group of other
skeletons arranged in a circle around it. The skeletons in
the circle were lying at full length. Mr. Woods regrets very
much that he did not preserve the mica as they were the only
relics found in the grave. This grave we consider the most
interesting yet discovered in Darke county, but many more
graves of the ancient Americans may yet be found in the
county as it becomes more thickly settled.

"Near the \\'est Branch church, in Xeave township, a
skeleton was dug out in the caving walls of a gravel pit. The
body had been buried in a sitting position. The bones were
in a state of decay. No relics were found.

"About half a mile northwest of Fort Jefferson was found a
skeleton buried in a sitting position with knees drawn up.
In the grave was a burned clay pipe with bowl and stem in
one piece. The bowl was fluted inside. An old settler in
the vicinity said that he had made many a pipe just like it.
.A. stone ax was also in the grave.

"^^'e have found that in selecting a site for burial tiie an-
cient savage generally made use of an elevated spot of
ground, mostly a natural ridge, in about the same location as
for a camp or village. A large number are sometimes buried
in one place while in other instances but a single grave is

It should be noted that the conch shells mentioned by this
writer were probably from the Pacific coast, and the sheets
of mica from the rare deposits of this material in the moun-
tains of North Carolina and Tennessee.

Indian Camp Sites and Villages.

Camp sites occur at many places within the county as evi-
denced by the large number of spawls of chert and flint aad
the broken and unfinished stone implements turned up bv 'he
plow. They are usually located near running springs. The
upper valleys of Mud creek. West Branch and Crout creek
were inhabited by the early Americans who have left distinct


traces of their early residence along these branch streams.
Sections thirteen, fourteen, twenty-three and twenty-four in
German township, near the head of West Branch, have been
especially prolific in relics of the stone age. Perhaps the
largest camp site in Darke county was situated on the Garst
farm, in section thirteen, and on the Ross farm adjoining it
on the south, in section twenty-four. This site covers sev-
eral acres and is on a gravel hill which terminates in a steep
bank on the north and west sides. It follows the course of
the stream and made a level, elevated and ideal camping place.
A large number of hammers, axes, spear and arrowheads have
been found here and flint chips are plentiful. On the Metzcar
farm, just south of the Ross place, a pile of burned bricks
were found by the first white settlers, who came here in 1817.
These bricks were larger than the standard size and the up-
per layer was somewhat disintegrated and covered with con-
siderable leaf mold, indicating that many years had elapsed
since the}- had been placed in position. Perhaps they had
been burned on the spot to form the foundation of a Jesuit
missionary station, late in the seventeenth or early in the
eighteenth century ; or they might have supported the cabin
of an early French trader who established himself here in a
settlement of friendly Indians. Just east of the Metzcar
farm, on the Wagner farm, Mr. Dalrymple explored a camp
site covering about seven acres. Near the head of Crout
creek, in sections three, ten and fifteen of German township.
and in sections thirty-three, thirty-four and thirty-five of
Washington township, numerous evidences of early cccu-
pancy have been found. Skeletons, beads and various imple-
ments were found in a gravel cairn on the Norman Teaford
farm. The decayed remains of numerous bark wigwams were
encountered on the Ross farm, in the southeast corner of sec-
tion nine, German township, by the early settlers. On the
Bickel and Neff farms, near the mouth of Crout creek, re-
mains of an encampment were found, besides numerous stone
implements. In fact, there seems to have been a string of
villages along the entire course of this creek and the pioneers
saw Indians in this locality as late as 1831 or 1832, when the
upper Miami valley tribes emigrated beyond the Mississippi
river. On the Coapstick farm, just south of Nashville, a
sugar camp had apparently been operated by the Indians as
the trees showed marks made in tapping when examined by
the pioneers. Many stone hammers were found near this


place, indicating that it had been a camp site. The Young
mound and the gravel cairns on the Cable farm, above men-
tioned, were in this neighborhood.

Along the east side of Mud creek prairie, between Green-
ville and Fort Jefferson, several camp sites have been discov-
ered. On the Benj. Kerst farm and on the Lamb farm in
section fifteen, Neave township, adjoining some fine springs
and overlooking the prairie, numerous unfinished implements
and large quantities of spawls have been found, indicating
long occupancy by the natives.

The site of the city of Greenville itself was probably one
of the largest and most popular camping grounds in the
county on account of its extensive elevated grounds, over-
looking the Mud creek prairie and the valley of Greenville
creek. It is known that Indian trails radiated from this site
in various directions.

Strong indications of a camp site were found on the Wright
farm in the northwest corner of section thirty-one, Green-
ville township, on the north bluff of Greenville creek.

Xo doubt villages were located on the upper waters of the
Whitewater in Harrison township and in various pavts of
the county, as evidenced by the large number of stone relics
which have been picked up from time to time. The .^ites
mentioned have been most carefully explored and serve to in-
dicate what further careful investigation may reveal. It has
been noticed that village sites have almost invariably been
found near springs, and on the ridges or bluffs bordering
streams or prairies. They were located here, no doubt, for
convenience, for accessibility and also on account of the im-
passable and unsanitary condition of the extensive swamps
A\hich characterized primitive Darlce county.

Flint Caches.

The ancient Americans obtained flint blocks and fragments
at an extensive and well known outcrop of this material,
southeast of Newark in Licking county, Ohio, where signs
of extensive quarrying appear. The flint was taken out some
distance below the surface where it was found to be more
easily chipped and worked out. The material secured here
was often carried several hundred miles to some camp site.
probabl}^ by some nomadic tribe of traders, where it was
chipped off and worked into the desired implements. If not


needed at the time the leaves or flakes or flint were buried
a few inches beneath the surface for safe deposit and probably
to keep them damp and in condition for working when
needed. Such burials are known as "caches" and have been en-
countered in various parts of the county. A few typical finds
will be noted, all of which occured near streams. A cache
was found in German township near the upper West Branch
on the farm of Ivens Parent and consisted of about a peck
of light lead colored chips of chert, ranging from an inch and
a half to two inches in width and from two to three inches in
length. The uniform color, texture and cleavage of these
specimens showed clearly that they were all of the same ma-
terial. A cache, comprising about three pecks of gray flakes,
was revealed upon the uprooting of a large tree by the wind
some forty years ago on the farm now owned by J. W. Ross,
in the southeast quarter of section twenty-two, Washington
township, near Crout creek. A cache comprising probably
fifty specimens of a uniform light brown color was found by
Washington Hunt, about twenty years ago, on the Jos. Kat-
zenberger farm near Weimer's Mill, in section twenty, Green-
ville township, just north of Greenville creek. On the north
side of the same creek on the Judy tract, section thirty-six
Greenville tovN^nship, just east of Greenville, a very large
cache was found in early days which contained probably four
hundred specimens. Other instances of this kind might be
cited but these suffice. It is unfortunate that the specimens
thus found have been scattered far and wide and it is the
writer's hope that the next large cache will find its way into
the public museum in Greenville, where it may be safely
kept and exhibited for its educational value.


Mention is made of an ancient camp site and workshop on
the farm of Robert Downing, in section nine, Harrison town-
ship, near the head of West Branch. Here, it seems, a spe-
cialty was made of manufacturing stone axes, large numbers
of which have been found in a partly finished condition. At
this place an immense quantity of spawls and broken stone
is encountered when turning up the soil, and a fine spring-
is near at hand. On the north bluflf of Greenville creek,
about a mile and a half east of Gettysburg, in section twent}'-
nine, Adams township, was apparently located a workshop


where stone pestles were once made. Large numbers of
small granitic, glacial boulders are found in this locality and
the ancient craftsmen of the stone age had evidently used
these to good purpose as shown by the quantity of pestles,
finished and unfinished, which have been found here. In the
opinion of Mr. Young the finding of such a large number of
one kind of implement on a definite site would tend to indi-
cate that the artist who located his workshop there was a
specialist in the shaping and manufacturing of that particular
tool or weapon, thereby becoming an expert in his line. The
Indians had small, portable stone mortars in which to pul-
verize and mix the pigments for decorating their bodies and
others for grinding grain. They also used large stationary
boulders for the latter purpose. One of these formerly stood
on the old Rush farm, now belonging to R. E. O'Brien, in
section three, just north of the site of Bunker Hill, formerly
mentioned. This old stone mill has been badly defaced but
is still exhibited by Mr. O'Brien. A skeleton was exhumed
in the sand pit near this stone, which seems to have been
located along an old trail leading diagonally across the prairie
and joining the main trail near Oakwood. Another stone
mill formerly stood near Beech Grove, and a third on the
Jenkinson farm south of Fort Jefferson.

Fine specimens of pipes have been found in the following
localities :

Stone Pipes and Implements.

A catlinite pipe was found on the south bank of Greenville
creek, in section seventeen, Washington township, on the farm
now owned by H. M. Oswalt. This is now in the Katzenber-
ger collection. Another catlinite pipe was found in section
five, German township, on the Clemens land at the head of
Carnahan branch of Greenville creek. (Now in the collection
of E. M. Thresher, Dayton, Ohio.) A dark bluish green pol-
ished steatite pipe was found on the Wm. Rentz farm in
section twenty-two, Greenville township. (Now in the pos-
session of H. C. Shetrone, Columbus, Ohio.) A pipe carved
after the form of a sitting man with a human face cut in the
bowl was found in a mound. A carved stone tortoise was
picked up near Fort Jefferson. It was about four inches long,
three inches wide, and two inches high, and was of a pecu-
liar rock, mottled yellow and black. Effigy pipes, record
pipes and common pipes have also been found in limited



numbers. The list of implements and ornaments found at
various times scattered over the county is a large one and
includes flint and chert knives, spears, arrow heads, drills,
slate stone discs, badges, gorges, axes, calling tubes, scrapers,
record tablets, thread shapers, rubbing stones, granite mor-
tars, pestles, celts, hammers, axes, balls, etc. Large numbers
of these were secured in early days by Dr. Gabriel Miesse,
and by Anthony and Charles Katzenberger, and many are
now on exhibition in the public museum in Greenville.


The surface of Darke county presents but few marked fea-
tures. As before suggested it is known as a glacial plain and
is crossed by three moraine belts slightly elevated above the
adjoining lands. The great watershed, or summit ridge, di-
viding the basins of the Wabash and Great Miami enters the
northeastern part of the county in Patterson township and
trends in a southwesterly direction, passing through the south-
ern part of Wabash and Allen townships, and reaching the
state line near the middle of the western line of Jackson
township. The land slopes mostly in a southeasterly direc-
tion from this ridge toward the Great Miami. The ridge
itself presents a broad, rounded and comparatively regular
outline. At a remote date it was probably somewhat higher
and much more uneven, but the natural elements have eroded
its original surface and the streams have carried down this
loosened glacial material and mixed it with the black vege-
table loam of the upper basins of the Mississinawa, Wabash
and Stillwater streams, thus greatly enriching these bottom
lands and reducing the rugged contour of the ridge. In the
neighborhood of Rosehill the ridge reaches a height of eleven
hundred feet above sea level while in its eastern lobe it is
about a hundred feet lower.

The highest altitude in the county, 1,225 feet, is in Harri-
son township near School No. 7 on the ridge separating the
basin of the Whitewater from that of the West Branch.

The following figures from the topographic survey of Ohio
show the relative height at various points in the count3\ It
will be noted that the difiference between the highest and
lowest points enumerated, viz. : Yankeetown, in Harrison
township, and Versailles, in ^^'^ayne township, is two hundred


and twenty-four feet, and that the elevation of the county
seat is about ten hundred and fifty feet :

Yankeetovvn 1,192 Elroy 1.031

New Madison 1,113 Ithaca 1,032

Savona 1,106 Rossburg 1,030

Palestine 1,104 Pitsburg 1,028

Clark's Station 1,095 Woodington 1,023

Nashville 1,093 Dawn 1,022

Castine 1,079 New ^^'eston 1,014

Near Rose Hill 1,078 North Star 1,006

Jaysville 1,064 Aiisonia 1,005

Arcanum 1,053 New Harrison 987

Greenville 1,050 Yorkshire 987

Brock 1,048 Versailles 968

Streams and Drainage Systems.

The upper Stillwater rises in Jackson township, skirts the
southern slope of the dividing ridge near Lightsville, and
flows southeasterly in a shallow valley toward the Great
]\Iiami. It drains the plain lying between the Mississinawa
and the Union moraines formerly noted.

Greenville creek, the largest stream in the county, arises
in the Wabash divide a few miles across the state line south-
west of Union City and flows in a southeastern direction along
the Union moraine to Greenville and thence easterly to its
junction with Stillwater at Covington, in JNIiami county. Its
principal branches. Dismal creek, Crout creek, West Branch,
^lud creek and Bridge creek, are received from the south and
west. It drains a large part of the county lying between the
Union moraine and the moraine passing through the southern
part of the county. The Union moraine on the north and
the glacial cairns along the central course break the monotony
and give a romantic touch to its scenic effect. These two
streams drain the most of the county, but are supplemented
by other valuable water courses. The upper waters of the
Mississinawa and the Wabash rise within about a mile of
each other on the northern slope of the divide in the north-
western part of the county. The former drains most of
Mississinawa township and the western part of Jackson town-
ship. The latter runs southeasterly into central Allen town-
ship and thence northeasterly through the northwest corner
of Wabash and into Mercer county. After continuina: east-


ward it takes a circuitous course and returns westward in
Mercer county, so that when it arrives at Fort Recovery after
traveling about sixty miles it is only about four miles from
its source. Painter creek and Ludlow creek rise in what used
to be known as the swamp ash slashes in the southeastern
part of the county and drain the rich level country now com-
prised mostly in Franklin and Monroe townships, together
with parts of Van Buren and Twin townships. Twin creek
rises in the northern part of Butler township in what was
formerly known as Maple Swamp, flows east of south and
forms the main drainage system of that township. Miller's
Fork of Twin creek reaches up into Twin township and drains
its western and southern portion. The East Fork of White
Water drains the southwestern corner of the county. It
reaches to the neighborhood of New Madison where its head-
waters approach within half a mile of the source of Mud
creek, forming a remarkable continuous prairie which has
been utilized by the Panhandle railway from Greenville to
Richmond to good effect. The main head of the White ^^'a-
ter is in western German township within a mile of the head
of Grout creek. This stream flows almost west of south,
passing west of Hollansburg and crossing the state line al)out
two miles below this place.

Thus it will be seen that Darke county is covered with a
veritable network of streams radiating in various directions
and belonging mostly to the Miami and Wabash drainage
basins. There is not a single township without an adequate
drainage system. These streams and brooks are fed by
numberless springs bubbling from the loamy soil, and
furnishing refreshment to man and beast. Probably the fin-
est springs are found in the southwestern part of the county,
where they bubble up from the underlying limestone freighted
with carbonate of lime and magnesia and having properties
similar to the famous Cedar Springs in the adjoining section
of Preble county. On account of the extensive drainage op-
erations and the destruction of the forest in the county most
of the surface springs have disappeared from sight and water
is supplied by wells obtained from the sand and gravel de-
posits overlying the glacial clays at a depth of from twenty
to fifty feet below the surface. !Many wells have been drilled
deep in the underlying limestone and prove an unfailing
source of fine drinking water. On the Tillman farm in sec-
tion 20. Brown township, water was encountered at a depth


of about 180 feet while drilling for oil or gas in 1899. Water
has continued to pour from this hole ever since, making one
of the finest artesian wells in the county. Some fine surface
springs are found in this same neighborhood which feed the
upper Stillwater.

This abundant supply of good water and excellent drainage
system have contributed materially to the rapid development
of the county, making it one of the most desirable places of
residence within the state. ^


This abundance of moisture explains, also, the presence of

Online LibraryThe Hobart publishing CompanyHistory of Darke County, Ohio, from its earliest settlement to the present time .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 57)