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

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a yearly compensation of twelve dollars. This little society
erected the first log church in the southeast quarter of section
22, one mile south of Palestine, in 1826, and continued to wor-
ship here alone for several years. Then a Reformed congre-
gation was organized in the same locality and in 1866 the
Lutherans merged with them. Rev. John Stuck becoming the
first minister under the new organization. The United organ-
ization, known as St. John's Reformed church, erected a new
frame building in 1868 and worshipped here for several years,
but finally disbanded.

The German P)aptists also held services in early days under
the preaching of David Miller, son of Jacob Miller, the first
elder of that denomination in the Miami valley, and Benjamin
Bowman, both of whom came here from Indiana for that pur-
pose. An organization of a society was effected early by these
preachers, but meetings were held in barns and houses until
1868 when a commodious frame meeting house was erected
about half a mile south of Palestine. The early preachers
were John Weaver, John Crumrine and William Marius.

The Methodists probably erected the second church struc-
ture in the township in the northwest corner of section 29
and the Lutherans the third, in the southeast corner of the
northeast quarter of section 24 along the east township line
on the farm now owned by E. T. Wagner. Like St. John's



554 DARKE COUNTY

church this afterwards passed to the Reformed society and is
now known as West Zion.

The, Christian denomination elYected an organization as
early as 1836 under elder Elijah Williamson, who, w^ith Rich-
ard Brandon, preached in an old school house in Palestine
where a church was built in 1859. The United Brethren so-
ciety was organized in 1857 by Rev. Jacob M. Alarshall and
in 1859 erected the Pleasant Grove church in the northeast
corner of section 3 along the Washington township line. The
Universalists organized in 1868 under Rev. Elihu Jkloore and
a few years later built a substantial frame church on the north
edge of the village of Palestine where they still maintain wor-
ship. The Disciples organized in 1873 under John AI. Smith
with about twenty members, and in 1877 erected a church in
Palestine.

There is a settlement of colored people in the northwestern
part of this township which dates its origin from 1822, when
James Clemens came from Rockingham county, Virginia,
which county had passed a law that all free-born colored
people should leave the state. Clemens entered 320 acres of
land. He married Sophoria Sellers, of his home county, and
became the father of ten children, five sons and five daughters.
Three of his sons, Charles, William and Perry, became minis-
ters of the gospel. Being attracted by the location and natural
resources of this part of the country, other colored families
soon followed Clemens, among whom were Reuben Bass and
wife, who came from Guilford county. North Carolina in 1823,
and entered 200 acres of land. They were the parents of eight
children. John Randies and wife and Thornton Alexander and
wife of Virginia were also among the early settlers, who en-
tered a considerable amount of government land. From this
comparatively small beginning the settlement has grown until
now it contains about 450 inhabitants, with two churches,
four school houses and a number of prosperous homes. This
settlement extends into Indiana and formerly supported an
academy known as "The Union Literary Institute," which
about forty years ago was in a flourishing condition. Some
very prominent men of both the white and colored races were
educated here and went out into the world to fill places of
honor in nearly all the walks of life, as judges, lawyers, doc-
tors, bishops, presidents of colleges, etc. The older people
of the settlement now look back on this institution with pride
and recognize that it was one of tlie means of holdins; the



DAUKE COUNTY OO:)

settlement together, providing several hundred acres of land
and helping to establish a better school system. Tampico,
the principal village in this settlement, was laid out in 1850.
The people are generally religious, industrious, patriotic and
temperate and have advanced moral ideals, commanding the
respect of the gnral populace.

Palestine is the only village of importance in German town-
ship. It was laid out in 1833 by Samuel Loring. It now has
two churches, a high school, a town hall and is known as a
good trading center, but having no railway or traction facili-
ties has made but slow growth, its population in 1910 being
216. Although there are but a few miles of railway in the
southern part of this township, the real property was as-
sessed in 1913 at $2,030,750 and the personal property at
$513,550, indicating that it is one of the best rural communi-
ties in the county. The entire population in 1910 was 1,628,
an increase of only 42 in ten years, and a decrease of 166 from
the census of 1890, probably due to the unusual drain caused
by the growth of the cities during this period. German town-
ship has been a good fruit-growing section, and, like some of
the other townships, contained some fine orchards previous to
the great freeze in the late spring of the early eighties, which
ruined many of the best orchards in the county. One of the
most successful orchards of recent planting is that now
owned by the Shields brothers and located about half a mile
west of Palestine. It was started some fifteen years ago by
Mr. Harvey Hill and was maintained by him until this year,
being enlarged from time to time until probably fifteen acres
had been planted — mostly in peaches of excellent variety and
marketable quality.

We append herewith an interesting sketch relative to the
early planting of fruit trees in this township, which was pre-
pared by E. M. Buechly and published by him March 23, 1888:

"The earliest attempt at raising fruit trees in this county —
of which we can learn — was made by Henry Ross, deceased,
of German township, in 1817. He was one of the earliest set-
tlers, and brought with him some apples, of which he care-
fully saved the seeds, and together with some pears and
peaches he had, planted them. Sometime after this he top-
grafted some of the trees. Of these trees he planted his own
orchard and sold some to supply his neighbors. Mr. I. M.
Ross, a grandson of his, now living in the northern part of the
county, related the circumstances to us, and said he recently



556 DARKE COUNTY

cut one of the old trees down and found that by counting the
rings of annual growth that it corresponded exactly with that
date. ]\Iost of the trees planted up to that time and from that
time until about 1830 were either brought in from other parts
of the state or were raised by the pioneers themselves ; in
either case they were nearly or quite all seedlings, grafted fruits
being not yet disseminated much at that time. In 1831 was the
earliest account of grafted orchards being set.. They w-ere on
the farms of Zadok Ragan, southeast of Greenville, and Solo-
mon Whitson. The trees were brought from the Hicks nur-
sery, near Dayton. In 1835 there were several orchards set
with grafted trees from the Richmond, Ind., nurseries. A few
of these trees planted by the early settlers are yet standing, as
it were, living monuments to the memories of the pioneers
who planted them, but who have long ago crossed the Dark
River.

"There was also a small nursery planted in Harrison town-
ship by a Mr. Lantry, who propagated some fine varieties of
apples, pears, peaches and cherries. The writer is not in-
formed as to whether they were root-grafted and budded, or
top-grafted. If the former, he was the first to practice that
method : if the latter, then the credit of first budding and root-
grafting in nursery belongs to Aaron and Jacob Crumrine,
who had a farm in German township, on which they planted
a nursery of several thousand trees, about 1840. ]\Iany of the
varieties sent out by them afterwards proved to be worthless.
Their planting was also discontinued."

Harrison Township.

This township occupies the extreme southwestern part of
the county and includes the territory known as township 10
north, range 1 east. It was erected in. May, 1818, from the
west end of Twin township and contained all of that town-
ship west of a line running due north from the southeast cor-
ner of section 31, township 10 north, range 2 east. On Sep-
tember 7, 1820, it was reduced to its present size by detaching
one tier of sections from the east side.

Harrison is a township of springs, streams and rolling hills,
and contains some of the highest elevations in the county.
The headwaters of Mud creek and the West Branch of Green-
ville creek drain the northeastern part of the township, the



DARKE COUNTY 557

east fork of the Whitewater drains the central and southeast-
ern portion, and the Middle fork of the Whitewater and some
minor branches drain the western section. The primitive con-
dition of this township is thus portrayed by the historian :
"Save in the northwest, the valleys of these streams and much
of their basins were swampy and well-nigh impassable. In
some places there were tall rank grasses and swampy weeds ;
in others, timber and thickets of vinous brush — briery and
woven as a network of nature's weaving, while on higher
ground bordering these were walnut, hackberry, sugar maple
and oaks; in the southeastern part, beech predominated. The
native scenery presents an appearance of a western forest re-
pelling the settler from interference with its domain. Such
were the general features of this region before the pioneer had
chosen his home, or any surveyor had ventured to trace the
boundaries of town or range. All was wood and swamp. Na-
ture reigned in unbroken solitude save the song of birds, the
graceful flight of deer, the nightly howl of wolves and the oc-
casional unearthly screech of the American panther. Abund-
ance of game, the rolling lands, the springs and streams were
marked by explorers."

Probably the glowing reports of the surveyors and of some
roaming frontiersmen and hunters earlv awakened eager an-
ticipations among the border settlers to the south and some of
these had the temerity to make entries of land in this primi-
tive paradise, several years before the remoter and less at-
tractive sections were taken up.

As early as 1810, a few families, including the Brawleys,
Purviances and AlcClures. made entries in the southern sec-
tion along the valley of the East fork. They were soon driven
away, however, by the hostile attitude of the Indians and did
not return until after the close of the war of 1812. During
this conflict, in the fall of 1813, a fort was established by
Lieutenant Black of a company commanded by Captain Nes-
bitt, and named Fort Black. This post was built in section 13
on the present site of New Madison. Its exact location is said
to have been about twenty feet north of Main street between
lots 104 and 105 in that village. Another post called Fort
Nesbitt was also built in 1813 on the northeast quarter of sec-
tion 32, just east of the present fork in the roads on land now
belonging to William E .Roberts. W^illiam Boswell, James
Shannon and others served in this block house.

At the close of hostilities the first families returned and



558 DARKE COUNTY

eagerly took up the arduous labor of clearing up the lands for
prospective farms. They were soon followed by William and
John Wade, who located near Fort Black; Zudock and John
Smith, who included the site of the fort in their entry ; James
Emerson, Joseph Gist, the Tillsons and Harlands, who settled
along the Middle Branch of Whitewater. From this time
settlement progressed rapidly. Dennis Hart, Judson Jaqua
and the Lawrences settled in the neighborhood of Yankee-
town ; Solomon and Jonathan Thomas southwest of New
Madison; John and Aaron Rush further north; Thomas
Micham in section 16; John Downing in section 10; Frances
Spencer in section 3 ; Samuel at Fort Nesbitt, and his brother
in section 29. John and Jacob jMiller, Daniel Owens, David,
James P. and Daniel Edwards and John Watson in the central
part and north of Fort Nesbitt. Other early settlers were
Ernestus Putnam, Solomon Broderick, James Wooden, M.
Buckingham, Nazareth Bunch, John Carrier, William Jones,
Daniel Forkner, Jonathan Thomas, the Motes brothers, John
Foster, E. Lovall and Thomas Gray. A large number of these
were scions of the old families of Kentucky and the south,
others were from the Miami valley settlement and a few from
the east. Some came by way of the W'hitewater and still
others by the new roads of the older settlements to the south.
In some cases two or three families came together with their
meager household furniture and farming utensils all in one
wagon. Some came afoot or on horseback, bringing possibly a
cow, a few swine and a few tools and farming implements.
The newcomers were often sheltered in the cabins of the
earlier settlers and all were mutually dependent, thus devel-
oping that oi:)en heartedness evervwhere characteristic of the
pioneers. That they were of a substantial class is indicated
by the fact that nearly all remained and improved the lands
which they had entered.

The moral and religious tone of the community were en-
hanced by the presence of such men as John Purviance, John
Forster, Isaac Mains and William Polly, all of whom were
early preachers in the Christian denomination ; as well as by
the Tillsons, Harlands, Pollys, Solomon Broderick, Ernestus
Putnam and others. The first church was a log structure and
was built on the site later occupied by Friendship church, on
northwest corner of section 28. Here John Purviance also
taught school until the first regular school building was
erected in 1819. William Hill and Closes Woods are men-



DARKE COUNTY 559

tioned as early teachers. Educational matters have received
considerable attention in this township since pioneer days
and its relative standing in educational matters is high to-
day. Besides the regular school districts there are three spe-
cial rural districts and the New Madison and Hollansburg
schools.

The Pennsylvania railway enters the township near the
northeast corner of section 13 and crosses the Preble county
line in section 33 and the Peoria and Eastern pursues a sinu-
ous course, crossing and recrossing the northern township
line, and having probably three miles of track within the
township. The real estate of Harrison township was assessed
at $2,130,490, and the personal property at $1,141,700 in 1913.
The entire population of the township in 1910 was 2,064.

New Madison.

The rapid settlement of Harrison township encouraged
Zadock Smith to lay off a town plat on the site of Fort Black
in section 13 as early as 1817. This he did partly as a matter
of speculation. On Christmas, 1817, Smith held a pioneer
jollification and public sale of lots, at which only two lots were
sold upon which buildings were afterwards erected. Becom-
ing disheartened at this first attempt. Smith sold his entire
claim to Ernestus Putnam in 1819. Putnam then bought all
the lots formerly sold, vacated the original plat, and in 1831,
made a new plat comprising thirty-four lots ranged on oppo-
site sides of what is now Main street for a distance of three
blocks. At that time he lived in Old Fort Black, where his
son David (later colonel of the One Hundred and Fifty-second
regiment) was born. In this connection we append herewith
an interesting sketch written by Col. David Putnam (de-
ceased) and published in the Greenville Democrat, May 17,
1902.

"Returning to Washington he closed up his business,
packed up their valuables that made the least bulk, loaded
them with mother, Jane and John, who were born there, in a
one-horse wagon, and started for Fort Black, Darke county
(which had just been organized), Ohio, where he had pre-
viously, through Uncle John Gray, entered a quarter section
of land, just west of the quarter that the fort was located on.

"I will digress a little here.

"Grandfather Gray, Uncle Thomas Carson and Uncle John



560 DARKE COUNTY

Kinnear had preceded them, Uncle Thomas having entered
the quarter section west of father (half for grandfather), and
Uncle John Kinnear the quarter section next west. The quar-
ter second on which the fort was located had been entered by
Zeddock Smith, who had made some little improvements and
had laid out some lots and named his town Madison. He had
sold three or four lots of which two had small hewn log
houses on. At that time land had to be entered in quarter
sections at $2.00 per acre, one-half paid at date of entry and
balance in deferred payments.

"I will resume my narration.

"After a long and tedious journey over mountains, rivers,
plains and swamps they arrived at Fort Black. (Grandfather
with grandmother and Aunt Mary, Uncle Thomas Carsons
with Aunt Nancy and Uncle John Kinnear with Aunt Sarah
and two children had preceded them.) They procured
a guide who piloted them down the south side of the great
pigeon swamp two miles to the McClure cabin, crossing the
head of Whitewater, then north passing the John Rush cabin
to grandfather's, going nearly five m.iles and were less than
three-quarters of a mile from the fort. After meeting and
talking things over, father having saved some money from the
financial wreck, went around to the fort and found Smith un-
able to make his deferred payment on his entry ; purchased his
interest in the land and purchased the lots that had been sold
and some time after vacated the town, got a few things to-
gether, went back to the fort and went to housekeeping, using
the houses that had been built. About this time General Har-
rison being in congress, secured the enactment of a law re-
ducing the price of land to $1.25 per acre and authorizing
those who had made entries and were unable to pay the de-
ferred payment to relinquish one-half of the land and take
title for the other half. Father, having assumed the payment
of the Smith entry, relinquished his entry, thereby getting
title in fee for the town quarter. He again entered the swamp
quarter. Upon getting his title completed he built a comfort-
able two-story log house of three rooms below and three
above, with an addition of a kitchen and porch ; in which
house I was born, with six younger children, and where we
all spent our childhool's happy days.

"In 1831 father laid out and started the town of New Madi-
son, and in 1832 built the first merchant mill in Darke county,
Ohio. Soon after getting settled in their new home father



DARKE COUNTY 561

opened quite an extensive shop, making and repairing guns,
and for considerable time employed Abraham Hollenshead,
who had worked for him in Washington nearly all the time
they lived there. Soon after opening his shop they opened a
small store, mother taking charge of it while father ran the
shop. When I was about thirteen or fourteen years old,
father sold his fine set of tools to Lewis Ginger, of New Paris,
quit the business and gave his entire time to the mercantile
business, in which he was successful. In 1835 he built in the
new town a good store room and moved his business from
the Fort Black stand and in 1837 and '38 built the large and
commodious dwelling, yet standing in good condition and oc-
cupied as the principal hotel in the flourishing town. Father
continued in the mercantile business until February 11, 1839,
when brother John entered the store and business was then
conducted under the firm name of E. Putnam & Son. This
was continued until August 4, 1842, when father retired en-
tirely from business and I, with John, continued the business
as J. G. & D. Putnam, which firm continued until June 4, 1845,
when I sold my interest to John and moved to Palestine."

Putnam opened up the first store in the new town ; he also
built a log school house on a triangular piece of ground at
the southeast corner of the plat, and donated the same for
public school purposes. In addition he gave ground for cem-
eterv purposes, a military parade ground and the site of the
old brick Presbyterian church on Washington street, which
building he was largely instrumental in erecting. In 1857,
Rev. Vogt organized a Reformed society which soon dis-
placed the Presbyterian organization and came into posses-
sion of the property. After forty years of existence this so-
ciety in turn merged with the newly organized United Breth-
ren society in 1897. In 1899 the latter denomination built a
beautiful brick church on lot No. 1 of the original plat on
upper Main street, at a cost of some $10,000 or $12,000. This
church has grown and prospered and now has a membership
of about two hundred.

The Universalists organized in June, 1859, with thirty-one
members and purchased a large lot near the southeastern cor-
ner of the village where they soon erected a substantial frame
building and dedicated it in January, 1860. This denomina-
tion has maintained an organization ever since, placing espe-
cial emphasis on Sunday school work. In 1903, this society
built a nicely appointed, modern brick building on the old
(36)



562 DARKE COUNTY

site at a cost of some $8,000. The present membership is over
one hundred.

The Methodists built a frame church opposite the Re-
formed church in 1878, and maintained worship until recent
years. They are now inactive.

The educational enterprise of the citizens is shown by the
fact, that as early as 1870 they erected a two-story, brick
school house, at a cost of $6,500, not including equipment.
This building was* replaced in 1897 by a modern, six room,
brick structure costing about $7,000. The new building is
nicel}' furnished throughout, is heated by steam, has a good
laboratory, a library and a piano. A recent report shows six
teachers employed, fifty-six pupils in the high school, ten
membeis in the last graduating class, and 108 graduates, in-
cluding the class of 1913. The first class graduated in 1895.
The high school ranks as first grade, has two courses of study
and offers advanced work for those preparing to teach. There
is a good school sentiment in the district, and the patrons
want the best schools possible. The standard of the school
has been raised from the third grade to the first grade and
each year new equipment is added to the laboratory and new
books to the library. The following persons have served as
superintendent since the organization of this school : Thomas
Eubanks. Edwin Lockett. Mr. Christler, Mr. Reed. :\Ir. Christ-
ner. M. A. Brown. L. W. Warson, F. J. Mick, Floyd Deacon,
M. F. Smith and C. W. Williams.

New Madison is one of the substantial conservative towns
of the county, and although it has never experienced a boom,
it goes steadily forward in improvements. Besides the church
and school buildings already mentioned, it has a town hall, a
fire department, a bank, two hotels, a newspaper, a K. of P.
hall, a Red Men's hall, lumber yard, a grain elevator, tobacco
warehouses and factories, ice plant and garage, also several
fine residences. At present there are Masonic, K. of P., Pyth-
ian Sisters and I. O. R. M. lodges in this village, and several
thriving business enterprises. The census of 1910 gave New
Madison a population of 628.

Hollansburg.

On March 28. 1838, James Stewart laid out the village of
Union in the northeastern quarter of section 7, Harrison town-
ship, where the residence of Elihu Pollv now stands, and of-



DARKE COUNTY * 563

fered lots for sale. It is said that William HoUaman, who
was at that time one of the prominent men of the county,
negotiated for the purchase of two or more lots, but when he
came to settle with the proprietor, had a wrangle about the
price, whereupon said Hollaman threatened to lay off a com-
petitive plat on his own land in section 5 about a mile to the
northeast of Union. This he did in October, 1838. Valentine
Harland made two additions to the original plat and the new
village was named by combining the first part of Hollaman's
name with the last part of Harland's and adding the usual
burgh, making the name Hollandsburgh, since reduced to Hol-
lansburg. At first the village was designated "Republican
P. O." as the postoffice of that name was transferred from
section 29, German township, to the new village in 1839, and
William Hollaman made postmaster. In time Hollansburg
outgrew Union and finally displaced it. On account of the
number of adherents to the "New Lights" in this section a
society of this denomination was soon organized, and, in 1840,
built a church on the present site of the cemetery. This was