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

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bluflf of the Mud creek prairie, in the southern part of section
10, Greenville township, on land recently owned by F. M.
Eidson, and known as "Fruit Hill" farm ; seeds of apples,
pears and peaches were planted. The apples were afterwards
top-grafted in the nursery rows with the leading sorts then to
be had, but the planting was discontinued and the nursery
rapidly declined.

"From what we have been able to learn from the earliest set-
tlers now living, grapes were not yet planted until about this
time, the simple wants of the backwoodsman being satisfied
with the wild ones with which the woods abounded. Mrs.
Craig, wife of the aforesaid David Craig, now living in Green-
ville, told the writer that she gathered wild grapes by bend-
ing down the saplings on which the vines clung, on the very
spot where the court house now stands, in the very heart of
the city. The early May cherry also dates not far from this

"In 1858 Thomas H. McCune and D. R. Davis, both of Green-
ville, planted a nursery in partnership, north of the city lim-


its. They had all grafted fruits, and were the first to attempt
to keep a full line of trees, both fruit and ornamental grapes
and other nursery stock. Planting was here continued some
four years, when it was left to the fate of all the previous
efforts to establish a permanent nursery.

I'rom the time of the McCune and Davis nursery, in '62 or
'63, until 1878 Darke county was again without a nursery. In
that year E. M. Buechley planted some 5,000 apple root-
grafts and other nursery stock on the farm of his father,
Jeremiah Buechley, near Weavers Station, Ohin. at which
place he continued in business until 1881, when he purchased
a farm in the northwest corner of section 4, some two miles
west of Greenville, on which he has continued and increased
the planting of nursery stock and small fruit, occupying at
present some ten acres. About 1887, Mr. Beuchley discov-
ered a seedling strawberry plant, which bore very promising
fruit. This proves to be the original plant of the variety
which he later named "Greenville." This berry was placed on
the market and had a good sale for several years. It is said
to be far better than many of the new popular varieties offered

Mr. Jason Downing, a pioneer orchardist of Darke county,
originated an excellent variety of the Fall ^laiden Blush,
which attained a national reputation, and was known for many
years as "Dbwning's Winter Maiden Blush." Mr. Beuchley
was largely instrumental in introducing this apple and at the
suggestion of the American Pomological Society changed its
name to the "Greenville" apple. However, the most valu-
able addition to the list of fruits introduced by this nursery-
man is the "Eldorado" blackberry. This fruit was found as
an accidental seedling near Eldorado. Preble county, Ohio.
It was first tested at the home of Albert Wehrly, of whom
about 1890, Mr. Beuchley bought the entire stock of six hun-
dred plants, and control the same, for ,$150. At'ter o\er twenty
years of public favor, this berry continued to grow in popu-
larity and is said to equal any in hardiness while it excels
most, if not all, other varieties in high flavor.

Other successful orchards have been planted from time to
time, among which might be mentioned the Fletcher nursery,
north of Jaysville ; the Deeds nursery just north of Ansonia ;
the Butt's nursery west of Greenville, and the Martin nursery
near Horatio. Mr. W. K. Martin, the proprietor of the last-
named nurserv, has taken a universitv course in horticulture


and landscape gardening, and lias been successful in securing
some very large orders for nursery stock, one of which will
require him probably five years to fill, requiring a large plant-
ing in Missouri to hasten growth of the stock required. Air.
Martin has also grown some fine varieties of berries, which
he markets under the "Climax" brand. Mr. Alfred Kissell
has a strawberry nursery north of Horatio where he grows
berries of select flavor and excellent quality.

Besides the staple grains and a large amount of Dutch,
Spanish, and seed leaf tobacco, the farmers of Greenville town-
ship have, in recent years, planted a good many acres of cab-
bage, which is marketed at a local kraut factory. The great
success of the beet industry in Paulding county has suggested
the propriety of planting a large acreage here, especially in
the Mud creek prairie, where conditions seem exceptionably
favorable. Alfalfa, which has recently been introduced, is
also making a good showing in Darke county. It has been
said that Darke county recently stood third in the list of all
the counties in the United States in the amount of agricultural
products produced — Lancaster county. Pennsylvania, and Mc-
Lean county, Illinois, alone exceeding Darke county in this
respect. Besides the products above mentioned, there has
been a very remarkable increase in the amount of poultry
raised, due largely to the enterprise of such dealers as Harry
B. Hole, John Mong and others who have established poultry
houses and gained a good reputation for the local product in
the eastern market.

There are now twenty rural schools in the township. The
only active rural churches in Greenville township outside of
the county seat at this time are the Wakefield and St. John's
Lutheran churches, already mentioned in Chapter X, and East
Zion Reformed church. The latter church was originally
established by the Lutheran denomination, being built by
Rev. Alexander Klefeker in 1861, and called Zion's Evangeli-
cal Lutheran church. Rev. Klefeker came from Pennsylvania
in 1853, settled near Gettj^sburg, and served as pastor of the
Lutheran churches then located at Ansonia, Beamsville, Dawn
and "The Beach." He was later pastor of the ^^^akefield
church. Because of the scattered location of these churches
and the growing use of the English language, it seems, some
of the Lutheran churches in the county were finally either
discontinued or taken over by the Reformed denomination,
which became quite active in the "fifties" and early "sixties."


Rev. Klefeker donated the ground on which the building and
cemetery are located and the church was popularly called
"Klefeker church" for many years. The old Concord Chris-
tian church on the Milton pike and the Oakland U. B. church
located northeast of East Zion have both recently discontin-
ued as have also the Dininger Lutheran church, on the west-
ern township line, and the Grand View U. B. church, on the
Ansonia pike about four miles north of Greenville.

The supremacy of Greenville township, due largely to early
settlement, exceptional size, natural productiveness and the
location of the county seat within its precincts, is shown by
the tax duplicate of 1913, which lists real estate, outside of
Greenville at $4,128,420 and personal property at $2,008,500.
When Greenville is included the totals reach $9,556,480,
$4,920,244, respectively. It is expected that the amount of
chattels listed in 1914. under the new law, will be increased
by about $500,000.

The population of Greenville township, including Green-
ville City, was given in 1910 at 9,263, showing an appreciable
increase over the 1900 census, while many townships showed
a decrease. This Avas due largely, but not entirely, to the
growth of Greenville. The population in 1850 was 2.366.

For an approximate idea of the development of the live
stock industry the reader is referred to the biographical
sketches of Lewis Dininger, Jonas Dininger and A. J- ^^'arner.

Neave Township.

This township contains all of township 11 north, range 2
east, except the two northern tiers of sections which were
thrown into Greenville township. It was erected December
5, 1821, and, at that time, contained eight sections of Van
Buren township which were detached when Van Buren was
organized in June, 1838. If this township had been created to
include all of township 11, north, range 2 east, its northern
boundary would now run on Sater street, Greenville, thus
throwing the county seat in two townships. It was probably
to prevent this that the northern tier was detached, while the
second tier was included, it seems, on petition of a number of
residents, who thought that it would be advantageous to live
in the township containing the county seat. Had the second
tier been retained it would have made Neave township nearer
the normal size and would probably have been better for all


This township is drained by the upper waters of j\lud,
Bridge and Painter creeks and the surface, especially in the
western portion, is somewhat hilly. The Mud creek prairie
was originally almost impassable and, with its bluffs, formed
a distinct landmark for the original inhabitants. A distinct
glacial moraine passes through this township, leaving unmis-
takable traces of its origin in the glacial gravel cairns hereto-
fore mentioned at length in Chapter I, to which the reader is
referred for a proper conception of this remarkable feature.
Although one of the smallest townships in the count)', it is
one of the most intensely interesting from an archeological
and historical standpoint.

From the meager scraps of information that can now be
secured it would seem that an ancient and well marked Indian
trail entered the southern part of the township, practically fol-
lowing the present Ithaca pike, which is built on the ]\Ioraine
belt, extending along the Twin creek valley into Preble
county. This trail, it seems, was joined by the old White-
water trail, leading from I\Iiami county, along Greenville
creek to Greenville, then south along the east bluff of Mud
creek, to below Fort Jefferson, where it joined the above men-
tioned trail and then probably turned southwest approximately
running in direction of the present New Madison Pike. During
the war of 1812, this was known as Fort Black trail. The meet-
ing point of the two trails was a few rods north of the present
junction of the Ithaca and New Madison pikes, near the point
where the latter road is crossed by the line separating sections
17 and 34, Neave township. St. Clair probably came into this
trail between Beech Grove and Matchetts Corner following it
some three or four miles to Fort Jefferson. It is generally
conceded that ^^'a^•ne cut a trail from Eaton to the neighbor-
hood of West Manchester, and thence in a direction west of
north, keeping on the west side of Twin creek, and the pres-
ent right of way of the C. N. railway, passing just west of the
Butler township house, crossing to the east side of the railway
in the southern part of section 9, about a mile below Tecum-
seh ( Savona) and then striking directly toward Fort Jefferson.
Tradition says that his army camped on the present site of
the Schlecty farm in the northeastern part of section 33, where
there is a fine spring of water and a good, level, elevated site
suitable for that purpose. It is probable, however, that Wayne
also used the trail running through Lewisburg, Ithaca and
Matchett's Corner for transporting some of his supplies, and


the bringing up of some of his troops. An old resident of
Xeave township said, "The old corduroy road built by General
Wayne ran inside the fence to the right of the road leading
towafd Matchett's Corners. I have many times traversed it
as far as I could, at time losing all trace of it."

As before noted, St. Clair built the most advanced post
established on his campaign in October, 1791, on the present
site of the village of Fort Jefferson. Here three soldiers were
hanged, being the first execution of white men in the county.
To this post the defeated army of St. Clair retreated on the
evening of November 4, 1791, but found it too small to con-
tain any but the most severely wounded, and were compelled
to continue on toward Fort Washington.

The wounded were left in this little post with a small de-
tachment of soldiers, and lived in horror of a prospective at-
tack in this exposed position. It is supposed that Captain
Shaylor was left in charge of this fort as his name appears in
that capacity on January 30, 1792.

An outpost, so far advanced in the enemy's country could
only serve as a menace, and of necessity must irritate the In-
dians. As the Indians were bent on having the Ohio river for
the boundary line, they determined to take the fort. On- June
25, 1792, a band of Indians to the number of one hundred made
an attack on a party of soldiers, who were cutting hay near the
fort. Sixteen of the soldiers were killed and missing.

The Indians were dressed in white shirts, and one of them
had a scarlet coat on. They also had along with them three
horses. Thev came from and retreated towards the Tawa
river. Who commanded the Indians is unknown, but it is
positively asserted that the notorious Simon Girty was

As General Wilkinson brought the news of the battle from
Fort Jefferson, it is probable that he assumed command dur-
ing the engagement. In his letter to the Secretary of War,
dated July 5, 1792, Rufus Putnam, one of the commissioners
to the Indians, thinks it was the purpose of the Indian raid to
take him prisoner, for he was to have been at Fort Jefferson
at the time of the attack, and the Indians had been so notified.

I have been informed, with how much truth I am unable
to say. that the engagement took place between the fort and
the site of the school house.

Another story is to the effect that some Indians knowing
Alajor .Shaylor to be quite fond of hunting, concealed them-


selves in the neighborhood of the fort and imitated the call
of the wild turkey. This enticed the major and his son away
from the fort to pursue the game, whereupon they were as-
sailed by the Indians, and attempted to return to the fort. The
son was killed but the major got into the fort after a hot pur-

As Wayne built Fort Greenville some five miles in advance
of this post in the fall of 1793, it is supposed that he had no use
for the little fort, reg'arding it as badly located for his
purpose. In commemoration of the building of this post the
Greenville Historical .Society caused a memorial to be erected
on its site, which was unveiled with appropriate ceremonies in
October, 1907, as noted in the chapter on "Notable Events."

Andrew Noftsinger is credited with settling in this town-
ship as early as 1810. It seems that he built a block house on
the high ground on the western side of Mud creek prairie in
the northern part of section 20. In 1817 he built a grist mill on
Mud creek, which was said to be the third erected in the
county. James Hayes was probably the earliest settler on the
site of Fort Jefferson. During the years 1816, 1817 nd 1818,
John Ryerson, Moses Arnold, George W. Hight, William
Townsend, Hezekiah Vietz. John Puterbaugh and Christian
Schlecty came. Dennis Hart settled on Bridge creek in 1819.
In 1820 the settlers in this section erected a log school house
on the Eaton pike about three-fourths of a mile south of the
present site of the county infirmary. Here Mr. Hart taught in
the winter of 1820-21.

Peter Weaver came in 1819 and located in the northeast
quarter of section 29. He built the first house in what is now
known as Weaver's Station. John Puterbaugh erected a mill
on upper Mud creek, near the southern line of the township,
in 1819, which was run by oxen.

Later settlers were George Noggle, T. C. Neave, William
and Simeon Chapman and Adam Beeles.

A singular story is told about the naming of the township
as follows :

"When the township was formed, H. D. Williams and John
Douglass played a game of cards against Eaton Morris and
T. C. Neave, to decide who should name it. Williams and
Douglass won, and on playing again between themselves, Wil-
liams won, but Neave was so anxious to name the township
that he paid Williams $10 for the privilege, and named it after


One of the most striking features of this township are the
gravel knolls, located just west of Fort Jefferson and formerly
known as the "Hills of Judea." For an extended notice of
these, the reader is referred to Chapter I.

The Pennsylvania and C. X. railways cross the western part
of this township in a north and south direction, following the
Mud creek valley. The D. & U. railway cuts diagonally
across the northeast corner while the Ohio Electric railway
runs due west from Jaysville to the Eaton pike, and then
north on that road towards Greenville. The township has
several excellent pikes, but on account of their early construc-
tion and the location of the creek valleys they are built largely
on the high ground regardless of section lines.

The principal villages are Fort Jefferson and Weaver's Sta-
tion. The former is located on the line between sections 27
and 28 and now contains an excellent brick M. E. church built
in recent years, the township hall, and a memorial monument
elsewhere described, besides a store and several residences.
The railway station of this name is about half a mile west on
the C. N. railway.

The remains of Gosbarv Elliot, who was killed by the In-
dians near Beech Grove, in 1813. are buried in the old ceme-
tery just north of the M. E. church as are also the remains of
the following six soldiers who served in the war of 1812:
George Calderwood, William DeCamp, Peter Fleck, Richard
Matchette, Jonathan Nyswonger and Peter Robinson.

Weaver's Station is on the P. C. C. & St. L. railway, about
a mile and a fourth west of Fort Jefferson in section 29. It
contains a store, station and elevator. Special school district
No. 1 is located a short distance southwest of this village and
Mt. Zion U. B. church a short distance west in the center of
section 29. The only other church now in the township is the
German Baptist in the southwest corner of section 18 along
the western line.

There are six school districts in this township, all of which
are special.

The real estate was listed for taxation in 1913 at $1,325,680
and the chattels at $799,030.

The population in 1910 was given at 1,091.

The village of Sampson was laid out in the southeast corner
of this township in 1846, and within a few years contained
several buildings and business enterprises. The building of
the D. & U. railwav and the location of the town of Delisle on


that road about two miles to the northeast caused the decline
and final absorption of this village, which is no longer on the

Butler Township.

This geographical unit is identical with township 10 north,
range 2 east, and is six miles square, containing 36 sections.
It is one of the southern tier of townships and lies between
Harrison and Monroe townships.

There seems to be some confusion concerning the date of
its organization, which was probably effected in 1819 or 1820.

Many of the early settlers were from Butler county, Ohio
(which took its name from General Richard Butler) and it
probably owes its name to this fact.

Twin creek rises near the northern boundary of this town-
ship, flows southward and eastward, and, with the numerous
small rivulets forming its head, drains the central and south-
ern part of the township, except a small district in the extreme
southwestern corner, in all about two-thirds of the entire area.
In early days an extensive swamp covered the central part and
caused General St. Clair to turn his army eastward from the
neighborhood of Castine towards Beech Grove. As before
noted, this morass was long known as "Maple Swamp" on ac-
count of the large number of soft maple trees growing in it
and was unfit for cultivation until a large ditch was run
through it by the county commissioners. This district is now
one of the fertile spots of the county. The upper waters of
Mud creek drains the northwestern section, and the east fork
of Whitewater formerly extended into the western part.

The land is generally level, except in the northwestern and
western central portion, and was originally covered with a
heavy growth of fine timber. There is practically no waste
land in the township and the average fertility is probably
equal to that of any other township in the county. It is gen-
erally supposed that Wayne's trail crossed the south line near
the intersection of the Eaton pike and kept about half a mile
west of the main north and south stream of Twin creek, pass-
ing a few rods west of the present township house in the cen-
ter of the township, and continuing on toward Fort Jefferson.
During- the war of 1812 the more western and "round about"
but hieher trail through Fort Black TNew Madison) was
probablv used.

John DeCamp came in 1814 and was probably the first per-


nianent settler. James Mills and Francis Harter and sons
came in 1817 or 1818. The early years witnessed the coming
of Jacob \^'eingardner, Abram P. Freeman, Charles Harriman,
Jonathan Pitman, Joseph Banner, John Ellis, Jacob F. Miller
and Peter Fleck.

This township has been one of the strongholds of Democ-
racy for many years, which condition is said to be due largely
to the fact that cjuite a number of families moved in from Ken-
tucky and the south just prior to the Civil war.

The first school house was built near the present site of
New Castine, in the year 1824. Samuel Saterley is credited
with having been the first teacher. James L. Hunt and P. V.
Banta were also early teachers.

Probably the first church building erected in the township
was Otterbein Chapel, built in 1840, or land donated by
George Coblentz in the northwest corner of section 28. This
was a log structure but was replaced in later years by a more
substantial building. A quarterly conference was held here in
18-14. This congregation has maintained an active organiza-
tion throughout the succeeding years and has probably done
more toward building up the interests of the United Brethren
denomination than any other single rural church in Darke
county. Before the erection of this church religious services
were held in houses, barns and school houses. The United
Brethren also built a church at Castine in 1849, and Iiave an
active society today.

The Reformed Society built a church in the southeast cor-
ner of section 2, along the Greenville and Ithaca pike, about
1859. Rev. John Vogt was largely instrumental in erecting
this church and was its first pastor. This congregation has
continued its organization and is one of the prosperous rural
churches of the county. It is known as "Beech Grove"
church, from the fact that a fine growth of beech trees orig-
inally covered that section of the township.

Butler township is well supplied with pikes, there being
roads on all of the east and west section lines, and part of the
north and south lines, besides the pikes leading to New Madi-
son, Ithaca and Eaton. The Eaton road was piked in 1869,
being the first in the township to be permanently improved.

Three railways pass through the township. The P. C. C. &
St. L. railway cuts across the northwest corner ; the Peoria
and Eastern crosses the east line near the northeast corner of
section 12, runs due west to the New Madison pike in north-


erii part of section 8, then turns northwester!)- and crusses the
western Inie near the nortliwest corner of section 0; the C. X.
crosses the south Hue of section 35, runs north to Castine,
thence west of north to the center of section 9, thence north-
erl}", crossing the northern line near the intersection of the
Xew Madison pike.

In earlv days this community was comparatively isolated
with respect to the county seat and seems to have been in
closer touch with the older settlements to the south in Preble
county. Produce was carried to Dayton and Cincinnati by the
hucksters, and much of the milling was done at the stone mill
of James A. B. Frazer, on Twin creek, a short distance above
Lewisburg. This mill was built in 1838, and was regarded as
a remarkable structure in those days. Coopering, blacksmith-
ing, shoemaking were prosperous occupations carried on out-
side the homes, in the days when splint-bottom chairs, spin-
ning wheels, candle molds and fireplaces were in vogue. In
spite of comparative isolation the pioneer families lived well
on game, fish and fruits from the forest which stretched its
dark mantle on all sides, and laid an enduring foundation for
future generations.

There are now two villages in Butler township.

New Castine.

Is located on Twin creek at the center of the line between
sections 6 and 35, one mile north of Preble county. Its loca-