A. E. Hough J. W. Klise.

The county of Highland: a history of Highland County, Ohio, from the ... online

. (page 13 of 63)
Online LibraryA. E. Hough J. W. KliseThe county of Highland: a history of Highland County, Ohio, from the ... → online text (page 13 of 63)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


reported to the court of common pleas sitting in the county. The
pay of grand jurymen was seventy-five cents per day.

On the second Tuesday of October, 1805, the first county election
for Highland was held in the several townships; New Market was
the voting place for that township ; William Hill's, on Clear creek,
for Liberty ; Beverly Miller's on Hardin's creek, for Fairfield ; and
Frederick Brougher's tavern, for Brush Creek. By the act of the
legislature, April 16, 1803, it was made the duty of the court of
common pleas of the several counties, to establish townships, each of
which should be a voting district. The associate judges were
required at their first meeting to name a certain house in each town-
ship, as nearly central as possible, at which the electors should meet
and cast their ballots. It was the duty of the sheriflF to obtain, at the
expense of his county, suitable boxes, one for each township in his
county, to be deposited at each voting place.

At this election on the day fixed by the constitution all the county
officers made elective were voted for. A record on the books of the
commissioners shows the following, November 4, 1805: "In pur-
suance of an act passed by the general assembly of the state of Ohio,
to elect three commissioners for the county of Highland, has duly
elected Nathaniel Pope, Jonathan Boyd and Frederick Brougher."
Jonathan Boyd was made clerk of the board. At this election
George W. Barrere was elected senator and John Gossett represenita-



Digitized by



Google



ORGANIZATION OF HIGHLAND COUNTY. II3

tive to the state legislature. A good story is told by an old time
friend, and printed some years ago, about the lost shoes of John
Gossett, Highland's first representative in the legislature. '^Gossett
was a very worthy and unassuming farmer, differing in no essential
particular from his pioneer neighbors. The era of the leather hunt-
ing shirt, breeches, moccasins and coon skin cap had but recently
given place to the homespun rig of bark-colored linsey, wool hat and
cow skin shoes, most frequently made of fair leather. In this style —
all new, of course — our worthy first representative to the legislature
made his appearance at the seat of government. Senator Barrere
accompanied him. How Barrere was dressed is not known, but
doubtless much after the style of his friend and neighbor. They
arrived at the capital, Chillicothe, and put up at the best hotel.
Being fatigued with their long ride through the woods they retired
shortly after supper, giving their shoes to the polite negro boy in
attendance and receiving in lieu a pair of old fashioned slippers. In
the morning they arose early and went down to the bar room. Bar-
rere picked out his shoes from the long row of nicely blacked boots
and shoes arranged along one side of the room. Gossett also
attempted to do the same but could not see his shoes, so he waited till
the landlord came in. He then asked for his shoes. The landlord
was busy waiting on thirsty guests at the bar, and in reply pointed to
the row against the w^all. Gossett again examined with more care,
but in vain. He was a quiet, modest man, and did not like to cause
disturbance. After a while the boy came in, and Gossett, taking him
to one side, told him his troubles, but the boy could give him no com-
fort. All the boots and shoes were there that had come into his
hands, he was sure, and further he could give no information. Gos-
sett began to grow uneasy. He half suspected that his shoes were
stolen, but he kept quiet until after breakfast and all the boots and
shoes had been picked out and placed upon their owners' feet, except
one pair of heavy brogans. These he eyed closely, but they bore no
resemblance to his. Finally he determined to speak to the landlord
again, for by this time he became fully convinced that he was the
victim of foul play. On his second and more emphatic announce-
ment that his shoes were missing and he suspected they were stolen,
the landlord became interested in the trouble of his guest. He told
him all should be made right ; that it should not be said that any man
lost his property in his house ; that he would get him another pair
made as soon as possible, and in the meantime try on the pair stand-
ing against the wall and if he could wear them, keep them on, as they
seemed to have no owner, till he would have his measure taken and
get another pair. Gossett accordingly put them on, and found they
fitted him exactly. He was surprised and examined them more
closely, when to his astonishment they turned out to be his own shoes,
H-8



Digitized by



Google



114 THE COUNTY OF HIGHLAND.

much disguised, however, by a heavy coat of blacking, the first that
had ever been applied to their leather since it had left the cow's back.
By an act under the Territorial form of government in 1802,
and afterward adopted by the State legislature, the people of each
township were required to meet on the first Monday of April yearly,
at such place in the township as might be ordered at their previous
meeting, and elect a township clerk, two or three overseers of th^
poor, three fence viewers, two appraisers of houses, one lister of tax-
able property, a sufficient number of supervisors of roads, and one or
more constables. The duties of these officers then were about the
same as they now are, and their term of office was for one year.
This act was the basis for township organization. Under an act,
April, 1803, empowering the associate judges to establish townships,
and assign to each township a suitable number of justices of the
peace to be elected on the 21st of June following, Biggar Head was
elected for Brush Creek, George W. Barrere for New Market, Sam-
uel Evans for Liberty, and James Johnson for Fairfield. The com-
missioners were busily engaged during this year in laying out and
opening up roads in the county.

The Anderson State road, from Chillicothe to Cincinnati, was sur-
veyed and opened under the superintendence of Col. Richard C.
Anderson, by authority of the state, in 1804-5. It was cut out
about forty feet wide, at a cost of eighteen dollars per mile, the
bridging excepted. The roads this year were opened through New
Market township. New Market town being the county seat, all roads
were opened in reference to that fact, and were directed toward that
important center or some main road passing through it. Highland's
first representative in Congress was Jeremiah Morrow, first elected
in 1803, and re-elected until 1813, when he was chosen United
States senator. Mr. Morrow was a native of Pennsylvania, and
came to Ohio "very poor," says a friend, "and without the aid and
influence of others, but he gradually, by his native good sense, hon-
esty and industry, achieved both fortime and fame." In 1850,
when in Hillsboro with General Harrison, Senator Morrow remarked
that tlie first night on his first journey to Congress his camp was in
Highland, but he could not recall the exact spot.

In the early days of the county, and in fact in Ohio, county
auditors were unknown. The duties now performed by the auditor
were then the work of the commissioners, together with about the
same work that now commands their service. Seventy-five or eighty
years ago, the small amount of taxable property owned by the citi-
zens of Highland made but little work in making out the annual
duplicates, and could be be easily performed by the board of com-
missioners without extending their regular session. The act creating
county auditors was passed in 1821, and before the passage of this
act the clerk of the board of commissioners performed the duties of



Digitized by



Google



ORGANIZATION OF HIGHLAND COUNTY. 115

the auditor of the county. We give some extracts from the record
of the commissioners, of interest doubtless to the burdened tax-
payers of the present day. ^^Ordered that Martin Countryman
receive an order on the county treasurer for one dollar for carrying
the returns of the Brush Creek township elections to New Market,
Highland county, October 10th, 1805." "Ordered that Walter Hill
receive an order on the county treasurer for five dollars and fifty
cents for carrying the elections from Xew Maricet to Chillicothe."

The first year of the existence of the county closed with good crops,
increased population and a contented and happy people. No social
discord disturbed the peace and harmony of the community ; no pride
of birth nor arrogance of wealth drew aristocratic lines around the
old fashioned fire place but all alike received cordial welcome to
hearth and home. They were a part of families; they were to be
exalted into a nation. There was to be a transition effected from
the simplicity of the pioneer settlements to the superb outlines of a
mighty republic. Those pioneer times were the training schools,
in which they were to be taught, although sometimes reluctant and
indocile learners, the forms of civil government, the theory of sub-
ordination and order and the arts and habits of civilized life.

One of our worthy citizens. Colonel Keys, has written of the
people of the first decade of the last century : "The population that
settled Highland county were a hardy, industrious class of people,
a great proportion were from the southern states and had been raised
to labor and industry. Early impressed with the necessity of earn-
ing their bread with their own hands, they were well adapted to the
toil and privations incident to the new country they had chosen for
their homes. They were generally in the prime of life — ^young
couples just entering upon the family relation, and ambitious of
achieving wealth and position in society. Comparatively few of
them were old persons, though in some instances heads of grown fam-
ilies sold their possessions in the old states and purchased with the
proceeds larger tracts of land in the new settlement of Highland,
settling their children around them, and thus in a very few years
vastly increased the wealth and thrifty circumstances of their fam-
ilies. At this time our country was alQiost entirely covered with a
dense forest of timber of gigantic growth, that just such a population
that first settled it and made war upon the great oaks, was required
and necessary to bring it into subjection. The days of Indian fight-
ing were happily over, and the energy and courage of true manhood
was directed to the next great work of civilization, the battle with the
stem but relentless forest This fight was kept up for many years.
The stately voak, ash, hickory, sugar-tree, maple, gum, and walnut,
which for centuries exhibited the productive qualities of the soil of
Highland, were of necessity regarded as enemies to the advance of
man and his plans. Extermination was the word. IsText to the



Digitized by



Google



IIQ THE COUNTY OF HIGHLAND.

Indian, these beautiful forests were regarded the worst enemy of
man. The settlers made common cause in their attacks on the for-
ests, and the way our noble young men, who made and carried on
the warfare upon them, opening up and clearing farms, in many
instances ^smack smooth,' as the phrase is, was in truth no child's
play." Another old settler supplies the following: "The first and
early settlers of our county were almost entirely deprived of the
benefits and blessings of gospel preaching. There were no churches
except one or two small congregations too remote from the mass of
the inhabitants of the county for their attendance, except in very
fine weather and on extraordinary occasions. The consequence was
that no religious society or religious meetings were known in many
settlements at all. The people were thus totally deprived of the
benefits of church organizations and regular attendance upon the
worship of God. There were no school houses with very few excep-
tions and no schools taught. The youth of that day received no
instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic, except that which
their parents might give them in the long winter evenings. School
masters were then unknown, and for long years the means for acquir-
ing an education was denied to the children of these wilderness
homes."

The people lived in log cabins, without perhaps a single exception
even in the towns. Some of these cabins had lap shingle roof, and
possibly a four glass window, which was regarded by some as an
undue waste of means and decidedly aristocratic in tendency which
ought not to be encouraged. Furniture was not plentiful and what
they had was rude and clumsy. The absence of roads and the great
distance to be traveled through an unbroken forest made the trans-
portation of this class of goods impossible, and few, if any, of the
emigrants thought of making the effort. After reaching their new
home it required but a few hours to make the needed supply for
their one-room cabin. The tables were made by splitting a large
tree, dressing the surface of the sides with an adze and then fitting
legs of stout timber in them ; stools and bedsteads were made in the
same manner. Cupboards were always placed in one comer of the
cabin, made of clapboards, placed upon pins driven in auger holes in
the logs. On these shelves were placed the bright pewter plates,
standing upon their edge, their faces toward the front, these were
the only table furniture except the cups and knives and forks, these
last frequently wooden. The larger dishes were of wood, a skillet
and hominy boiler completed the list of household and kitchen furni-
ture even of the wealthy. Necessity in this case was not the mother
of invention but a leveler of all class distinction in ornamentation
and display. There were no physicians in those days and in fact
not much need of any, as there was but little sickness, and the old
women seemed able to control with herb teas the various cases inci-



Digitized by



Google



ORGANIZATION OF HIGHLAND COUNTY. 117

dent to the country. Mrs. Samuel Gibson was noted for her skill
and went far and near when needed. In a still later day Mrs.
Daniel Inskeep practiced extensively. The implements of hus-
bandry were few and clumsy. Chief was the old Virginia bear
plow with wooden mold board, weighing much more than one of the
splendid steel plows of this day. All the iron about one of these
primitive plows was the sheer and coulter, but what it lacked in
iron it made up in wood, clumsy and heavy. In length, when
hitched up, they were about fifteen feet, and, as remarked by an old
man who had used them, "the wickedest thing to kick, except a mule,
ever known." It has been said that one of these plows kicked a man
over a pole fence, and kicked him after he was over two or three
times. Axes were very heavy and hoes were the same. Saws and
drawing knives were scarce articles and went the rounds of the neigh-
borhood when they could be found. Harness was made of raw hide
traces and bridle, while woven or plated corn husks were used for
collars. There were no saw mills and such a thing as a plank could
not be found in the county.

Much has been written and said of the pioneer fathers, but little
mention made of the pioneer mothers who shared the hardships and
dangers of those days, when toil was their daily avocation, and the
nights found them still engaged until the stars paled before the com-
ing dawn. The family had to be clothed. The days of deer skin
clothing had passed, and some arrangements must be made to meet
the change in the social style of the times. Flax and wool had to be
prepared to meet this demand. Thev had to cultivate flax and raise
sheep. The wool had to be carded by hand, and then spun and
woven for all the winter clothing. This work must be done by the
women of the home and if the children were small, or too young,
mother had to do it all. Often she had to help husband in clearing
the ground, helped in the harvest, at the threshing and cleaning of
the wheat, husk com, and shell com, hunt the cows, carry in the
wood, range the woods in search of greens to cook with jowl, the
remains of last fall's bacon, with com bread, the meal for which she
doubtless pounded or ground upon the hand mill, made an excellent
dinner for the hard working husband and sons. With the other
labor of the year she had to pull the flax, spread, and when well
rotted, bread and hackle it. She must spin and weave the linen for
shirts and pants for husband and children, this must be made up,
kept clean and whole by washing and mending. All this and more,
the patient, loving wife and mother was forced to do to meet the
demands of those early times. In this manner from year to year
passed the whole of the life of those noble mothers. Justice has
never been done to these pure hearted, faithful and devoted mothers.
They were the true heroines of the west, yea, of the world, for no



Digitized by



Google



118 THE COUNTY OF HIGHLAND.

history of the world has given a better picture of true womanhood
than these self-sacrificing women, giving their lives to the faithful
and cheerful discharge of their duty. But these mothers and maids
of Highland have long since gone down into the silent chambers of
the dead, their graves unmarked, perhaps forgotten, their names for-
gotten in the annals of the west, except a few, who may have been
captured by the Indians, or were prominent in the defense of some
fort or blockhouse where husband, sons or brothers were sorely
pressed by savage foes. To the imnamed of Highland's pioneer
wives and mothers we drop this tribute of love and tenderness — this
evergreen, culled from the store house of memory, to place upon
their unmarked tombs. May they have in final triumph a heritage
of glory, immortality and eternal life in the world to come.

We cannot dismiss this question of social conditions without speak-
ing of some of the vices common in that day as well as our own. The
vices and follies indulged in were given the general title of sport,
without taking into consideration the influence over the young,
which was pernicious and damaging. "In Highland county, New
Market was then the center of fashion and refinement, as well as vice
and profligacy." Whiskey was the prime cause of much of the evils
of the social conditions then, as it is now, and to this fiery beverage
can bo traced some of the tragic events that marred the beauty of
those early days. But there was much .more rough sport than
tragedy, and a volume could be filled with amusing stories that were
familiar to Highland county pioneers. None is more lively than
those that concern the exploits of James B. Finley at a time when he
was known as "the New Market Devil."

Late in the fall of 1805 Adam Barngruber came to New Market
from Kentucky with a four-horse wagon load of merchandise, includ-
ing a barrel of whiskey and a keg of tobacco, as well as remnants of
calico, cotton handkerchiefs and shawls. These goods he placed on
sale in a small cabin about twelve feet square, and his partner, a
Dutchman, named Fritz Miller, undertook the selling. This was
the first trading store in New Market, and it is believed the first in
the county. Fritz, by reason of his whiskey and tobacco, soon had
lots of friends, and Barngruber soon returned from Kentucky with
another load of goods of the same character. Winter came and dur-
ing the long nights Fritz Miller's was a favorite resort. At these
gatherings James B. Finley was prominent, and many were the tricks
played upon poor Fritz for the amusement of the company. The
following winter there was organized in Fritz Miller's grocery a
bogus lodge of Freemasons, the master of which was J. B. Finley.
This new order soon became very popular, and petitions for initia-
tions were numerous at each regular meeting, which was in the dark
of the moon in each month in any old shanty they could get, and



Digitized by



Google



ORGANIZATION OF HIGHLAND COUNTY. 119

frequently in the woods and com fields during the summer. Among
those who petitioned for membership was Fritz, who seemed to be the
butt of most of their pranks. Tradition says that the ceremony of
initiation was performed in the most solemn manner. At the con-
clusion of the rehearsal of the ritual of the order, the candidate was
branded with a red hot nail-rod, and duly pronounced by the master
a "free and accepted mason." So thorough was the branding, and
so hot was the nail-rod, that the smoke rose to the roof and Fritz
howled in Dutch from the pain inflicted.

Soon after this event James B. Finley visited a camp meeting in
Kentucky, which was attended with strange physical manifestations,
violent and unnatural. The persons brought under the religious
influence of the hour, and they were generally the most wicked and
desperate sinners in the congregation, would be taken with a sudden
twitching and jerking over the entire person, but this would ulti-
mately be confined to the head alone, which would jerk backward
and forward with such violence that the hair of the head of women
would crack like whip lashes, so violent was the motion. Becoming
exhausted, the person would fall to the ground, many remaining
unconscious for hours, who when returning to consciousness would
shout the high praises of God, and tell the wonderful things they had
seen and heard while out of the body. Finley was greatly exercised
and frightened by these manifestations, and feeling the symptoms
of the jerking coming over him, fled from the ground greatly agi-
tated and filled with dreadful forebodings of death and hell. Stop-
ping that night at an old German's who was a devout Methodist, he
told or explained the state of his mind as best he could to his host,
who told him in his broken manner that it was the "defil" coming
out of him. With strong cries and tears he besought the Lord to
save a poor sinner from the power and dominion of the evil one.
Before the morning light had chased away the night a great calm
fell upon his troubled spirit. Fear had gone, and such a full sense
of peace and joy filled his soul that he began shouting. From that
hour he was a changed man, the whole current of his life directed
into another channel. He joined the Methodist church, was licensed
to preach, entered the traveling connection, and for years was a faith-
ful, earnest and intelligent minister of the gospel. He was at one
time chaplain of the Ohio penitentiary.

The father of Rev. James B. Finley, Robert W. Finley, opened
a classical sdiool in a cabin on Whiteoak, and taught Latin, Greek,
and Hebrew to all who had any desire for such accomplishments.
John W. Campbell, well known in this region as a member of con-
gress from the district in which Highland then was, attended this
school. The elder Finley gave a' most thorough education to his son
John, who was regarded as the most brilliant and intellectual mem-



Digitized by



Google



120 THE COUNTY OF HIGHLAND.

ber of the Finley family. He also became a Methodist preacher in
1810. In 1822 he was appointed professor of languages in Augusta
college, Kentucky. He died in 1825.

On another page we made some extracts from the written narra-
tive of Col. William Keys, showing the hardships and trials of a
journey from the east over the mountains to Ohio, and left the Col-
onel and his train of followers at Paint creek, two or three miles
above the Rocky Fork branch of that creek. We copy the following:
"On the 20th of November, 1805, we found a spring on our land,
and, by cutting a wagon road to it, landed all safe. We cleared
away the brush, erected a tent, before which we kept a huge fire, and
soon commenced to build a cabin, which being completed, we moved
into on Christmas day, 1805. Our cabin was a rough looking con-
cern, but it sheltered us from the storm, and kept us dry and com-
fortable, and as usual all over the west, we kept the latch string
hanging out" The party of Colonel Keys included his wife and
child, his mother, four sisters and his two brothers. One of the sis-
ters became the wife of Samuel Ramsey, another married Hugh Hill,
and another a man by the name of Jones.

Samuel Reece came from Berkeley county, Va., and settled on
Fall Creek. He was a man of strong good sense and of consider-
able cultufe, represented Highland county in the legislature and
after his removal from the county to Cincinnati represented Ham-
ilton coimty in the same body. Abner Robinson sold out his posses-
sions on what was known as the Old Washington road, to Foster
Leverton, an Englishman by birth, who resided for a number of
years on that farm. He has been dead a great many years but left
a large family of children and grandchildren, most of whom reside
in Highland county. The Barretts, Cowgills, Crews, Sharps, Wil-



Online LibraryA. E. Hough J. W. KliseThe county of Highland: a history of Highland County, Ohio, from the ... → online text (page 13 of 63)