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

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turned to his old home.

William Robbins was probably the first permanent settler.
He came in 1815 and settled just west of Ithaca. He was
followed in 1816 by David Lucas, William and Eli Curtner,
Frederick Shank and son Philip, David Shearer, James Mc-
Dole, Philip Rutter, David Baumgardner, Isaac, Thomas and
George Walker. Several of these were from the Stillwater
settlement, which had been formed largely of people from
North Carolina about 1800. In the spring of 1817, Frazee
Doty, a local minister and prominent citizen settled just west
of Ithaca, and in the fall of that year Andrew Burkett came.
Among other earl}' -settlers were Michael Bickett, Emery
Rogers, William Lemon, Adam Briney and Philip Rader.

The first school house was built in 1822 or 1823 in the
northeast corner of section 19. There are now nine schools in
this township, besides that at Arcanum.

Tlie first church, which was of the Christian denomination
was erected in the northwest quarter of section 6, near the
northwest corner of the township. This denomination also
erected another church one mile south of Arcanum. Both of
these disbanded at an early date. Abraham Sneethen and
Levi Purviance were the early representatives of this sect, and
the pioneer preachers in the township. John Williams was
also an early preacher. The L^nited Brethren built a church in
Ithaca about 1830, which was the second erected in the
township. All the churches of this township are now located
in the villages as elsewhere mentioned.

On account of the fertility and value of the land the farms
of this township have been divided into comparatively small
tracts. Much tobacco is raised in the eastern portion and
small tracts of land in the neighborhood of Arcanum have
sold as high as $300 per acre.

There are three villages in this township: Ithaca, Arcanum
and Gordon.



DARKE COUNTY 595

Ithaca.

This village was platted by John Colville in 1832, and given
the name of Twinsborough. Being in the center of the early
settled district and on an old highway, it early became an im-
portant trading center. It now has United Brethren, Baptist
and Lutheran churches, a school, town hall and hotel, besides
Odd Fellows, Junior Order and Red Men lodges, and is lo-
cated on the Ohio Electric railway. The 1910 census showed
a population of 100. Its growth has been retarded in recent
years by the building of the D. and U. railway to the east and
the location of Gordon and Arcanum on that line.

Gordon.

This place was platted in 1849, and named for one of the
pioneers. It is located upon the D. & U. and Ohio Electric
railways in the midst of a rich farming country and has been
especially known for its large lumber businees conducted suc-
cessfully for years by Ezra Post and its elevator and tobacco
warehouses owned and operated by Edward Ammon. Besides
its stores and the above mentioned enterprises this village has
a Baptist and an M. E. church. The population in 1910 was
given at 181.

Arcanum.

The largest and most important village in Twin township
and the entire southern part of Darke county is Arcanum.
It is situated on the western border of a level plain, and, at the
time of settlement, was surrounded by an almost impenetrable
swamp. This plain extends from Ithaca to Gettysburg- and from
Arcanum to Laura and is now a veritable garden spot, about
twelve by eighteen miles in extent. The only break in this
exceedingly fertile plain is a slight ridge — probably a minor
moraine — extending from Arcanum to Pittsburg, and even
this has been redeemed by cultivation. This village, it seems,
owes its existence to the building of the Greenville and Miami
(now D. & U.) railroad. We quote herewith an interesting
article concerning the platting and naming of this village,
from the pen of C. C. Pomeroy, the civil engineer, who laid it
out. It was written at the request of Mrs. Jennie Lee (nee
Francis) and published in the Arcanum Enterprise:

"At the suggestion of my esteemed friend. Col. A^^illiam
Armstrong, or rather his order; either form giving me pleas-



596 DANKI-: COL'NTY

ure to respond, 1 pull from memories budget a few straws re-
lating to Arcanum, Darke county, one of Ohio's most thrifty
inland towns. In the fall of 1846, a line of railroad was lo-
cated from Dayton to Richmond. Fourteen miles west from
Dayton, an angle was made to Greenville, twenty-two miles.
The road was then known as the Greenville and Miami rail-
road. Hiram Bell was president, afterwards a member of
congress. When the line was located, it was all woods where
the town of Dodson now is, and there were no towns from
Dodson to Greenville. The railway line to Greenville was
chiefly in the woods, excepting now and then small clearings.
In the fall of 1848, the writer and David Comly, son of Rich-
ard Comly, one of the owners of the Dayton Journal, were
students of practical civil engineering under the tutorship of
Phineas Pomeroy, then chief engineer of the road. We were
assigned to take test levels and cross sections from Dodson
to Greenville ; in the discharge of this order we reached a
tasty, comfortable log house with three rooms and an 'up-
stairs' reached by a ladder; it was the home of Mr. John
Gunder, carved out of the wilderness, embracing forty acres
of cleared land on which the house stood. The day was one
of 'chill November blasts' of which the poet sings; it rained
and froze just enough to provoke saints, and more especially
searchers after the science of engineering. It was four o'clock
that day and we were just beyond Mr. Gunder's home in the
woods, it was so foggy we could not take accurate observa-
tions with the level, so Dave said, 'Charley, let us quit, I am
cold and hungry, let us go to Mr. Gunder's and stay all night.'
Two hungry engineers met a hearty welcome there and were
royally treated by Mrs. Gunder and her two daughters, and
the sumptuous meal was done ample justice. At nightfall,
Mr. Gunder came in from the woods, and during the evening
chat said, 'Boys, tomorrow will be drizzling, and frozen and
sloppy all the way to Greenville, and you might as well stay
here and lay oflf a town plat for me.' Morning came and being
unpropitious. so we remained and surveyed and mapped his
town plat, and made a neat and pretty map and pinned it up
on the log. When Mr. Gunder came he looked at it closely
and was well pleased. The following colloquy then occurred :
'Now Gunder what name will you have for your town, Gun-
derville?' 'No, No! Ohio has too many "villes" now; you boys
select a name and have one that is not on the map of the
globe ; have it ready for me when I come from work, as I am



DARKE COUNTY 597

going to Greenville tomorrow and will have it recorded.' We
worried and stewed and fretted to get a name we thought
would please him. At last, in view of the murky, damp, sullen,
hazy afternoon, that hung in clouds of chunky darkness, a
remark was made that there must be a word somewhere that
fits the place and its surroundings to a 'gnat's heel ;' it is dark,
it is dismal, it is gloomy, how would 'Arcanum' do? It was
printed in India ink on the map. Mr. Gunder came in just as
we were about to eat supper, he observed the name and ex-
pressed great satisfaction with the selection. Sure enough,
next day he went to Greenville and had his map recorded.
The clerk in the recorder's office told him the engineers were
making fun of him in naming the town. 'How?' 'Why do you
know the name means "secret, hidden?" ' 'I don't care what it
means: is there a town in the world of that name?' 'No,' says
the recorder. 'Then the people who live there will have no
trouble in getting their mail,' said Gunder, 'and it is in har-
mony with surrounding conditions."

"And this is the way Arcanum, now one of the prettiest,
busy towns in Ohio, got its name, and no town in the state is in
advance of it in enterprise, intelligence, energy and prosperity.
"C. C. POMEROY, Civil Engineer."

Another version of the story about the naming of the town
is to the effect that Gunder had a bull which, for some un-
known reason, he called "Arcanum." This animal, it seems,
had strayed away and while looking for it he came upon a
group of men working long the right-of-way of the new rail-
way. Suddenly catching sight of the bull he exclaimed,
"There's Arcanum," whereupon the name was seized upon
and applied to the neighborhood railway station.

Like many other traditions this is probably a corruption of
the true story and we can do no better than accept the plaus-
ible statement made and signed by the engineer who laid out
the town as above noted.

The Greenville and Miami railway was not completed to
Arcanum, however, until 1852, but its coming was the great
"red letter" day in the history of the village and township.
From henceforth Arcanum was put in close touch with Day-
ton and the outside world, and the long, tedious journeys to
this market through the slashes of Painter and Ludlow creeks
and over the corduroy roads became a thing of the past.
Messrs. Samuel and John Smith were the pioneer merchants.



598 DARKE COUNTY

nrhey opened the first store here June 20, 1851, and through
their energy, industry and business quahfications helped to
make the place develop rapidly.

The rapid growth of the new village is forcibly indicated
by the following business directory, published in 1857 :

Dry goods stores, grocers and grain dealers — S. D. Smith,
J. Thomas & Son. Albright & Oliver, John Smith, J. F. Roser,
and Sprecher & Bro.

American Hotel — John A. Raylor.

Steam grist mill and distillery — Voorhes, Shepherd & Bro.

Physician and surgeon — Jesse J. Paramore.

Cabinet warerooms and undertaker — C. Bartling.

Tailor — Israel Steinmetz.

Coopers — Henry Kester, Henry Glasmeir.

Carpenter and joiner — George Lowe.

Boot and shoe maker — Samuel Garrett.

Wagon and carriage maker — D. B. Baker.

Blacksmith — A. Deweese.

Carpenter and joiner — John Fleck.

Brick and stone mason — P. Snodderly.

Carpenter and joiner — S. B. Thomas.

Station man (G. & M. R. R.) — James Battern.

Tailor — A. B. Steinmetz.

Mason and bricklayer — John C. Bocanon.

Arcanum has long been known for its business enterprise
and its large mercantile establishments are the wonder of the
stranger accustomed to tlie trading facilities of the ordinary
village.

This village has likewise shown much enterprise in relig-
ious, social and educational enterprises.

The Methodists built a church here as early as 1856. and
now have a strong congregation.

The United Brethren built a brick church in 1860, on the
corner of East and South streets, where the present church
now stands. Previously they had worshipped in a little log
church on the farm now owned by Andrew Clark, one-fourth
of a mile east of Arcanum, where they had organized a society
in 1853. The present church was erected in 1896, at an ap-
proximate cost of $10,000. This is one of the strong denom-
inations of the county and has now an enrollment of about 400
in the church, and 500 in the Sundav school.



DARKE COUNTY 599

The present church officers are :

P. W. Byers, Jacob Miller. Jr., G. T. Riegle, William Clark
and E. B. Hawley.

Trustees of the church — Sunday school superintendent, G.
T. Riegle; class leader, H. O. Hoffman; president of W. 'SI.
A., ]\Irs. E. B. Hawley ; president of Golden Link Society, Mr*.
Myrtle Shumaker ; president of C. E., Miss Nettie Robbins ;
president of Junior C. E., Mrs. Nana Cartmell ; general stew-
ard, C. A. Smith ; class stewards, Marion Trump, J. H. Potts,
H. O. Hoffman, Abraham Nyswonger.

The Reformed denomination built a church in 1879, but the
society at the present time is practicallj^ dormant with a mem-
bership of about thirty-five.

Arcanum has produced some men of exceptional talent in
the past and now takes great pride in referring to the Sigafoos
brothers — Charles P. and Edward — who are sons of George
W. Sigafoos, deceased, at one time a prominent dry goods
m.erchant in the village. Charles P. Sigafoos was born May
4, 1865 and received his elementary education in the public
schools. He was graduated from the Ohio State University
in 1889, spent one _year at the University of Virginia and four
years at Johns Hopkins' University. He soon became a pro-
fessor of biology in the University of Wisconsin and during
some twenty years in this chair has probably tutored more stu-
dents in this science than any other professor in the United
States.

Edward Sigafoos was born December 14, 1868. After a
course in the common schools he entered Ohio State Univer-
sity and was graduated from that institution in 1891. While
in the latter school he manifested a taste and talent for mili-
tary science and was persuaded by some prominent citizens
of the state to apply for entrance in the regular army of the
United States. After passing the required examination at
Washington, D. C, he was appointed a second lieutenant and
spent tAvo years in the excellent advanced military school at
Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1898 he was commissioned first lieu-
tenant and served one j'ear under General Wood at Santiago,
Cuba. He has recently attained the rank of major and is ser^ -
ing with the army in Vera Cruz, Mexico. In December, 1895.
he married Opal, the daughter of Dr. Donovan Robeson, of
Greenville, Ohio. The progressive spirit of Arcanum is re-
flected in the schools which maintain a high standard. The
high school course comprises four years and leads up to col-



600 DARKE COUNTY

lege admission. The school library contains 1,000 volumes.
Prof. O. G. Hershey has been the enterprising and enthusi-
astic superintendent for several years.

Arcanum is well provided with fraternal and secret organi-
zations, having Masonic, Odd Fellows, K. of P., and Junior
order lodges.

Arcanum Lodge No. 341, I. O. O. F. was instituted August
9, 1858, with the following charter members: Adam Bartoch,
Jacob Thomas, Joseph Gootlieb, Adam B. Steinmetz, Samuel
Garsett, Samuel D. Ross, Evan Henninger, Thomas Morton
and Philip Sprecher. It now owns property valued at $7,500
and has a membership of about 200.

Jewel Rebekah Lodge No. 255 was given charter May 18,
1888, with twenty-three members. It now has about forty
members.

The Masonic lodge is known as Ithaca Lodge No. 295, F.
& A. M. and was organized at Ithaca, October 21, 1857, with
ten members, \\z. : ^^'illiam A. Alatchett, Daniel Ridenour,
William Colville. S. C. Engle. Martin J. Colville, Milton Mc-
Neal, J. H. Engle, Caswell Sharp, Clark Baker and Elijah
Heath.

This lodge now owns its own property and has a member-
ship of about one hundred.

There is also an Eastern Star lodge here.

Arcanum now has a fine, large brick city building, erected
about 1890, at a cost of some $12,000. It contains the offices of
the various city ofificials, the fire department and an excellent
auditorium with a seating capacity of several hundred. The city
also owns its own water works and electric light plant. There
are two hotels, two banks, two newspapers, a building asso-
ciation, a postoffice, elevator, tile yard, saw and planing mill,
lumber yard, two flour mills, a creamery, monumental works
and other enterprises. A large proportion of the tobacco pro-
duced in the county is raised in the level black land of Frank-
lin, Monroe and Twin townships, and much of this is mar-
keted in Arcanum where several large warehouses are located.
The Peoria division of the C. C. C. & St. L. railway gives a
good east and west outlet to the village and the Ohio Electric
railway makes connection with Daj'ton and Greenville quite
convenient.

Several blocks of the main streets have recently been paved
with brick and other public improvements made.



DARKE COUNTY 601

The census of 1910 showed a population of 1,361, in the
town and a total of 2,925 in the entire township.

The tax duplicate for 1913 showed real property to the ex-
tent of $904,560, and chattels to the extent of $548,560 in Ar-
canum and $2,094,570 in real estate and $882,290 in chattels in
Twin township outside of Arcanum.

Patterson Township.

This township occupies the northeastern corner of the
county, was erected in March, 1841, and was taken from the
north end of Wayne township which then extended to the old
Greenville treaty line. In 1848, the northern part was cut
off, when Darke county was reduced to its present size, and
in the same year sections 2, 11, 14 and 23 of township 12 north,
range 3 east were detached and added to Wabash township.
The watershed passes through the central part of this town-
ship in an east and west direction separating the upper basin
of the Wabash from the head waters of Swamp Creek branch
of the Stillwater. The southern section of the township is
rolling and the soil is largely of a light clay formation. In
early days it supported a fine forest of beech, sugar, maple and
oak. Like Wabash township, the northern portion contains a
larger proportion of dark alluvial soil and formerly supported
a heavy growth of timber in which Linden, Sycamore, and
^^'alnut were especially noticeable. Isaac Finkbone, who
seems to have been identified with the early settlement of
\\'ayne and Wabash townships, is also mentioned as the pio-
neer settler here, coming in 1827 or 1828, to the southeast
quarter of section 32. He was soon followed by Philip Pitzen-
berger. who squatted in the southeast quarter of section 33.
James Patterson, Sr., was the second landowner who settled
in the township, and his son gave the township its name. Rich-
ard and Thomas Mendenhall, John Day, Samuel Day, Dr.
Greer, John Puterbaugh, James Davidson, Anthony Cable,
John De'Weese, \\'illiam Russell and Arphaxed Julian are
also mentioned as prominent early settlers. Although this
township was late in settlement and backward in develop-
ment it has made commendable progress, as shown by the
fact that the census of 1910 gave it a population of 1,632, as
against 319 in 1850. while the tax assessment of real estate in
1913 was $1,739,680 and for chattels $387,430.



602 DARKE COUNTY

Woodland (now Willowdell.)

The first village in the township was Woodland, which was
laid out in 1859 in the southeast corner of the northeast quar-
ter of section 20, on the south slope of the watershed. A
Lutheran church was erected here in 1865. This neighbor-
hood has become famous as the birthplace of "Annie Oakley"
Rlozee, whose biography appears in another chapter.

The Christians erected a church on the north side of the
Berlin pike near the east line of section 8 in 1863, and another
in the northeast quarter of section 25, range 3, about 1880.
There is still a Lutheran church in Willowdell ; another in
the northwest corner of southeast quarter of section 30; the
\\'alnut Grove Christian church in the southeast corner of the
southwest quarter of section 24, besides the churches in York-
shire and Osgood villages.

The first school house was put up in the southeastern quar-
ter of section 32, in 1842, and was erected by subscription. A.
L. W^ilson was the first teacher. There are now seven special
school districts in this township not including those in York-
shire and Osgood.

The Cincinnati, Hamiltcm and Dayton railway (formerly
Narrowgauge) was built through this township about 1881.
It follows the section line between township 12, range 3 and
township 11, range 4 from the IMercer county line to the
northwest corner of section 30, and then turn southeastward,
crossing into Wayne township in the southwest corner of sec-
tion 32. Since its construction two thriving villages have de-
veloped.

Osgood.

This village was laid out at the quartering of sections 1, 6,
12 and 7 in the "eighties" and now contains a town hall,
hotel, station, public school. Catholic and Christian churches,
lodge, elevators and stores.

The St. Nicholas Catholic church was organized in 1906,
by Rev. Bernard Becknieyer. Services were held at first in
the village school house. Rev. John Rahrle soon took charge
of the new parish which then numbered probably thirty-five
families. A temporary church structure was completed in
September, 1906, and services held therein. In this year a
tract of land was purchased in the eastern section of the vil-
lage and the erection of a new and suitable church building
was soon entered into with zeal and devotion. A beautiful



DARKE COUNTY 603

Structure costing about $22,000 was dedicated September 6,
1908, and given the name St. \icholas. It is a fitting memo-
rial to the zeal and devotion of Rev. Rahrle and his small but
zealous and devoted flock. In its brief existence this parish
has thrived wonderfully and now includes about eighty-five
families. Rev. Rahrle resigned in 1912 and was succeeded by
Rev. Bernard H. Franzee. This congregation serves a large
constituency of settlers of French and German descent who
now comprise a large per cent, of the citizens of this town-
ship and those adjoining. There are several fountain wells
in this village as well as in the region to the north and east,
near the headwaters of the small streams flowing northward
from the w-atershed. The population in 1910 was 214.

Yorkshire.

This village, is located one mile south of Osgood and was
incorporated in 1901. Its rapid growth is shown by the fact
that the population in 1910 was 182. This village contains a
postofiice, bank, station, public school, Disciple and U. B.
churches, brick and tile yard, elevator and warehouse. The
Berlin and North Star pike forms the main east and west
street of this village.

Wayne Township.

As in Greenville and other townships the actual first set-
tlers of Wayne township were preceded by the surveyors and
the "old squatters." Among the latter might be mentioned
"Kill Buck," a half breed, or chief who built a cabin near
"Bald Hill" in the northern border of the Stillwater settle-
ment (Webster) in the early years of the century and re-
mained until the arrival of the first settlers. Associated with
his name is that of Connor, the old trapper and copper dis-
tiller who lived to the north of Killbuck on a knoll skirting
the western side of Swampy creek, near the present site of
\^ersailles. '\^'hile Connor hunted, trapped aad carried on his
varied activities, his son cultivated a small patch of corn
with an old ox, which he also used to go to mill at Greenville
Falls or Fort Rowdy (Covington, Ohio). With the advent of
the settlers these eccentric characters moved further west.
Isaac Finkbone. a stalwart frontiersman, succeeded Connor
and distilled "firewater" for the use of the first settlers, who



604 DARKE COUNTY

consumed large quantities of "bitters" at log rollings, cabin-
raisings, sheep-washings and "huskin-bees."

The first notable settlement in the township was made by
a party from the Stillwater settlement in Miami county, near
Pleasant Hill. It is said that this party canoed up the Still-
water keeping up the east branch, until they encountered a
district of murky swamps and ponds to which they gave the
name of "Black Swamps," while the lazy stream was called
"Swamp creek." Here a small settlement was made which
became known as the "Swamp creek settlement." David
Ward, who settled in section 18, in 1815, is said to have been
the first actual settler.

One of the moving spirits in this settlement was Thomas
Childers, the old order or "Hardshell" Baptist preacher
previously mentioned, who settled about one mile southwest
of Versailles. Here a church was erected about 1819 or 1820,
being probably the second church erected in the county.
Among the families connected with this congregation were
the Childers, Carlocks and McDonalds of the border Stillwater
settlement and the Wards, Bakers, Yorks and Holes of the
Swamp creek settlement. The early Baptist burial ground
adjoined this church. This building was afterwards moved to
north Versailles and later to the Wood addition where the
congregation worshipped for several years, but finally dis-
banded, leaving no successor in this vicinity.

Among the early settlers on Indian creek and Swamp creek
at and near the present site of Versailles were the Atchisons,
Lewis Baker, Richard Brandon, David Ward, and William
Hoel. It is interesting to note that the families comprising
this settlement were largely of the "New Light" denomina-
tion, and that William Hoel deeded three or four acres to the
Christian church as a site for a church building and burial
ground about 1821. A society was organized in 1822 or 1823,
by Rev. Samuel Kyle, of Piqua, with William Hoel, Aaron