Stillman Carter Larkin.

The pioneer history of Meigs County online

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Pioneer History of Meigs County




Columbus, Ohio :

The Berlin Printing Company.



Copyrighted by





In 1876 a revival of interest in local history was manifest
throughout the United States. The Centennial of the Na-
tion — the Exposition at Philadelphia, exhibiting trophies of
the Revolutionary period, while much attention was bestowed
upon Colonial relics, and regard for Colonial ancestry. The
older class of people had been retired from public observation,
especially in the Western States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and
Michigan. The first settlers — the earlier emigrants — had
braved the Indians, the wild beasts, the privations of a new
country, had toiled to open up the primeval forests for culti-
vation, and broken in health, dispirited often by adversity,
they had grown old before their "three-score-years and ten,'
and the generation following them had been unwittingly push-
ing them aside. They were in the way of modern progress, and
they had retreated to the back rooms of their children's man-
sions. But in 1876 it was seen that the country could not
celebrate her Centenary without bringing into honorable rec-
ognition the fathers and mothers, the soldiers and statesmen,
whose achievements had wrought such evident prosperity for
the country — such high rank among the Nations. So it came
about that old records, old furniture, old tales of early days,
old people tottering on their canes, were subjects of especial

The Revolutionary soldier, old and gray, was escorted to a
seat on the platform where jubilant oratory proclaimed his
deeds of heroism. It was at this time that Stillman C. Larkin,
Aaron Stivers, H. B. Smith and a few others, awakened to
the fact that Meigs county had a past worthy of record, and
in looking around discovered that the founders, the early
emigrants, were gone ! Not a representative left of the days
of St. Clair, of men who came into this part of the county be-


4 Pioneer History of Meigs County

fore Ohio was admitted into the Union, They became im-
pressed with a sense of duty toward those forefathers, and to
retrieve as far as possible the neglect of previous years, they
organized the Meigs County Pioneer Association — H. B.
Smith, President; Aaron Stivers, Secretary; later Stillman C.
Larkin, President. Mr. Larkin as a son of a pioneer, Abel
Larkin, who had been active in the organization and develop-
ment of the civil and moral interests of the new country,
began collecting and placing in manuscript, everything
available of the acts and actors of all legislative affairs in the
new country. First, the sparsely settled lands were incor-
porated in Washington county, and Marietta people were
wise enough to keep a running account with Time, but Gallia
county was taken out from Washington, and until 1819 all
civil records were kept in Gallipolis, when Meigs county was
taken out from Gallia county.

Mr. Larkin began at the beginning, and wrote the Declara-
tion of Independence, declared in 1776, which made the Cen-
tennial of 1876 possible — he wrote out the Ordinance of 1787,
that proclaimed freedom of the whole Northwest Territory of
the Ohio river, from involuntary servitude of man for man.
The first emigrants to Ohio — ^Washington, Gallia and Meigs,
opened up the wilderness for cultivation, or the present gen-
eration would not have broad acres in meadows, or hillsides in
wheat, or blooming fruit-laden orchards. These first settlers
built their cabins and schoolhouses, had teachers for their
children ; they organized townships, elected township oflficers
and kept records of local affairs.

For these men and these records Mr. Larkin had respect.
It was no easy matter to collect and place in order the history
of the first ten years of the settlements included later in the
boundaries of Meigs county; for from 1798 to 1808, is an
almost forgotten page, but the men who wrought for the
good of coming generations — wrought wisely, intelligently,
with broad views, and persistent effort to establish homes.

Pioneer History of Meigs County 5

roads, schools and churches, to assist in framing wholesome
laws, and enforcing them for the protection and well-being of
a growing community, men like George W. Putnam, Fuller
Elliott, Levi Stedman, Brewster Higley, Peter Grow, Hamilton
Kerr, John Miles, William Parker, Abel Larkin and others,
whose deeds and names belong to the annals of those years
from 1792 to 1808. That makes true pioneer history. From
1808 to 1818 the influx of emigrants increased rapidly. People
seeking lands to found homes for their families, mechanics of
all kinds, carpenters, blacksmiths, tanners and shoemakers,
served for public utility and improvement.

In 1819 Meigs county was set off from Gallia county, and
assumed importance. A court house and jail were built in
Chester, the county seat. Courts of Common Pleas were held
judges were appointed, county officers were elected — auditor,
treasurer, recorder, sheriff and clerk of the courts. Township
officers were chosen — esquires and constables, clerk, treas-
urer, assessor, trustees, school directors and supervisors. The
discomforts of pioneer life had ceased. The people enjoyed
comfortable homes, with growing families. From 1820 to
1830, there was an inflow of newcomers, representing all pur-
suits, civil and educational, lawyers, doctors, preachers and
teachers. Farms changed owners, and new customs were
introduced. The fertile Letart bottoms sent flatboats laden
with produce annually on trips to the South, New Orleans
being the final mart. The traders returning by keelboat or
steamboat brought sugar and molasses, rice and coffee for the
merchants and communities,

Nial Nye, Sr., & Sons were established at the mouth of
Kerr's run, before the county of Meigs was organized, and
kept a store of general merchandise, ran a sawmill, and had a
boat landing, "a port of entry" for goods consigned to Levi
Stedman and others at Chester and the interior of the county.
A postoffice was located here and the place was called Nyes-
ville. From 1820 to 1830, while a growing prosperity was

6 Pioneer History of Meigs County


seen throughout the county, no capitaHst with means and

energy had arrived to develop the natural resources of Meigs
county. From 1830 to 1840 marked the beginning of com-
mercial prosperity. Mr. V. B. Horton, with a wide personal
influence, brought capital to operate on the development of
the coal in the hills of Salisbury. He started the transporta-
tion of coal by means of a steamboat, the Condor, towing
immense fleets laden with coal down the Ohio river, and
farther down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, from
whence ships conveyed it to Boston, and grates in Boston
parlors glowed with Pomeroy coal. This enterprise opened
up boat building — ship builders from Maine and Nova Scotia
came to work and direct the labor in the Horton boat yard.
It gave employment to river men to manage the tow-boat
Condor, and the barges. English and Welch men of ex-
perience and judgment took charge of the mines, and miners
from England, Wales and Germany went into the coal tunnels
of Meigs county and with pick and hand-car brought to light
the wealth of the hills. A rolling mill was set in operation,
a foundry, machine shop, and Haven & Stackpole erected a
three-story steam flouring mill. Pomeroy was laid out, lots
sold, the town incorporated, and elegant residences were
placed on the spurs of the hills at Naylor's run and Sugar run,
while under the cliffs the Brothers Howe, Dr. Estes and the
lawyer, U. G. Howe, Charles Pomeroy and Horace Horton
built no less fine homes. Mr. Samuel Grant's sawmill had
full orders, furnishing lumber as fast as possible. In this
decade of stirring material prosperity, the little postoffice
town of Graham's Station received an impetus. Mr. Lucius
Cross came from Marietta in 1822 to lands of his own, and
started a tannery, built flat boats to send hay to the South,
opened a store of general merchandise, erected a mill on
Bowman's run for making flour, and sawing lumber, giving
employment to hundreds of men in these different enterprises.
The name of Graham Station was changed to Racine. The

Pioneer History of Meigs County 7

town of Sheffield sprang into existence in these times, broad
acres just above the mouth of Leading creek were laid out in
lots, the town incorporated and a cotton mill built by Mr.
Philip Jones, a novel project for a non-cotton producing ter-
ritory. The Grant brothers put into the business of steam
a flouring mill that prospered for more than forty years. The
one great event in Meigs county was the removal of the
county seat from Chester and establishing the seat of justice
in Pomeroy.

The aim and intent of Mr. Larkin's book is to preserve a
record of pioneer times, that later generations may have
proper respect and pride in their forefathers. He was the
prime mover in organizing the "Meigs County Pioneer As-
sociation," and devoted time, thought and research in order
to place correct statements concerning those early days in
his book.

We ask the "Pioneer Association of Meigs County" for a
liberal patronage of the book, and of thinking men and
women, who will find much to interest them in reading the
work, and especially the favor of descendants of early settlers
in Meigs county, who are scattered in other states and

Emeline Larkin Bicknell,
Reviser of the MSS. of S. C. Larkin.

Pioneer History of Meigs County




When in the course of human events it becomes neces-
sary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have
connected them with another, and to assume among the
powers of earth, the separate and equal station to which the
laws of nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent
respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should
declare the causes which compel them to a separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain inalienable rights ; that among these are life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights,
governments are instituted among men, deriving their just
powers from the consent of the governed, and that whenever
any form of government becomes destructive of these ends,
it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to
institute new government, laying its foundations on such
principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them
shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence indeed, will dictate that governments long es-
tablished should not be changed for light and transient causes,
and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are
more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to
right themselves by abolishing the form to which they are

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing
invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them
under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to
throw off such government, and provide new guards for their
future security.

10 Pioneer History of Meigs County

Such has been the patient sufferance of the colonies, and
such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their
former system of government.

The history of the present king of Great Britain is a his-
tory of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct
object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these

To prove this let these facts be submitted to a candid
world : He has refused his assent to pass laws the most
wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has for-
bidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing
importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent
should be obtained, and when so suspended, he has utterly
neglected to attend to them. He has refused to pass other
laws for the accommodation of large districts of people unless
those people would relinquish their right of representation
in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidablfc
to tyrants only. He has called together legislative bodies at
pleasure, unusual and uncomfortable and distant from the
repository of their public records, for the sole purpose of
fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. He has
dissolved representative houses repeatedly for opposing with
manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. He
has refused for a long time after such dissolutions, to cause
others to be elected whereby the legislative powers incapable
of annihilation have returned to the people for their exercise.
The States remaining in the meantime exposed to all the
dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states,
for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of
foreigners, refusing to pass others to encourage their
migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appro-
priations of lands. He has obstructed the administration of
justice by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary
powers. He has made judges dependent on his will alone

Pioneer History of Meigs County '^ 11

for the tenure of their offices and the amount and payment
of their salaries. He has erected a multitude of new offices
and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and
eat out their substance. He kept among us in times of peace
a standing army without the consent of our legislators. He
has affected to render the military independent of and
superior to the civil power. He has combined with others to
subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and
unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts
of pretended legislation.

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us; for
potecting them by a mock trial and punishment for any mur-
ders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these
states; for cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;
for imposing taxes on us without our consent; for depriving
us in many cases of the benefits of trial by jury; for trans-
porting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses;
for abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighbor-
ing province, establishing therein an arbitrary government
and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an
example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute
rule into these colonies ; For taking away our charter, abolish-
ing our most valuable laws and altering fundamentally the
forms of our government; for suspending our own legisla-
tures and declaring themselves invested with power to legis-
late for us in all cases whatsoever. He has abdicated govern-
ment here by declaring us out of his protection and waging
war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our
towns and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this
time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to com-
plete the work of death, desolation and tyranny already begun
with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled
in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of
a Christian nation. He has constrained our fellow citizens.

12 Pioneer History of Meigs County

taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their
country, to become the executioners of their friends and
brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrection among us and has
endeavored to bring the inhabitants of our frontiers under the
merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an
undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for
redress in the most humble terms. Our repeated petitions
have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince whose
character is thus marked by every act which may define a
tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British
brethren. We have warned them from time to time of the
attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable
jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circum-
stances of our emigration and settlement here. We have ap-
pealed to their native justice and magnanimity and we have
conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow
these usurpations which would inevitably interrupt our con-
nections and correspondence. They, too, have been deaf to
the voice of justice and consanguinity. We must, therefore,
acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separa-
tion; and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies
in war; in peace, friends. We, therefore, representatives of
the United States of America, in general Congress assembled,
appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude
of our intentions, do in the name and by the authority of the
good people of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare
that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free
and independent states.

That they are absolved from all allegiance to the British
crown, and that all poltical connection between them and the
state of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved ;
and that as free and independent states they have full power

Pioneer History of Meigs County 13

1 to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish com-
merce and to do all other acts and things which an inde-
pendent state may of right do.

And for the support of this declaration with a firm reliance
on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge
to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor,
July fourth, seventeen hundred and seventy-six, John Han-
cock, President.

Signers Names.

Georgia — Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton.

New Hampshire — Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple,
Matthew Thornton.

Massachusetts Bay — Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert
Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry.

Rhode Island — Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery.

Connecticut — Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William
Williams, Oliver Wolcott.

New York — William Floyd, Philip Livingstone, Francis
Lewis, Lewis Morris.

New Jersey — Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis
Hopkinson, Abraham Clark and John Hart.

Pennsylvania — Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin
Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, John
Hancock, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross.

Delaware — Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean.

Maryland — Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone,
Charles Carroll, of Carrollton.

Virginia — George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas
Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis
Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton.

North Carolina — William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John

South Carolina — Edward Rutledge, Thomas Hayward,
Thomas Lynch, Arthur Middleton.

14 Pioneer History of Meigs County


[Extract from the History of the United States of America, by Timothy Pitkin,

Vol. 2, Page 214,]

In consequence of cessions the United States became pos-
sessed of all the lands northwest of the Ohio, and the estab-
lishment of a government for the inhabitants already settled,
as well as others who might remove these, became necessary.

(The Colonial Congress, then in session at New York.)

This Congress, therefore, in July, 1787, established an Ordi-
nance for the government of this territory.

This Ordinance is the basis of the governments established
by Congress in all the territories of the United States, and
may be considered an anomaly in American legislation. The
whole territory was under one district, subject to be divided
into two, at the pleasure of Congress.

With respect to the mode of governing the settlers in this
territory or colony, the ordinance provided that until the
number of free male inhabitants of full age in the district
should amount to five thousand, the legislative, executive and
judicial power should be vested in a governor and three
judges, who, together with a secretary, were to be appointed
by Congress. The governor was to remain in office three
years and the judges during good behavior. The governor,
with the judges were empowered to adopt and publish such
laws of the original states, criminal and civil, as might be j
necessary, and best suited to the circumstances of the district, i
and report them to Congress; such laws to be in force until
disapproved by that body. The governor was empowered to
divide the district into counties or townships and to appoint
all civil officers. As soon as the free, male inhabitants of full
age and should amount to five thousand, a general assembly
was to be constituted, to consist of the governor, a legislative
council, and house of representatives. The representatives to
be chosen from the counties or townships, one for every five 1


Pioneer History of Meigs County 15

hundred free, white male inhabitants, until the number should
amount to twenty-five, after that the number to be regulated
by the legislature. A representative must have been a citizen
of the United States for three years, and be a resident of the
district, or have resided three years in the district, in either
case to have the fee simple of two hundred acres of land in the
district. An elector was to reside in the district, have a free-
hold of fifty acres of land therein, and be a citizen of one of
the states, or a like freehold and two years residence. The
representatives to be chosen for two years.

The legislative council was to consist of five persons, to
continue five years in office, unless sooner removed by Con-
gress, were chosen in the following manner: The house of
representatives to nominate ten persons, each possessed of a
freehold in five hundred acres of land ; out of this number
^1 Congress was to appoint five to constitute the council. The
general assembly had power to make laws for the govern-
ment of the district not repugnant to the Ordinance. All laws
to have the sanction of the majority of both houses, and the
assent of the governor. The legislative assembly were author-
ized by joint ballot to elect a delegate, who was to have a
seat in Congress with the right of debating, but not of voting.

It was necessary to establish certain principles as the basis
of the laws, constitutions, and governments, which might be
formed in the territory, as well as to provide for its future
political connection with the American confederacy. Congress,
therefore, at the same time established certain articles, which
were to be considered as articles of compact between the
original states and the people of the territory, and which were
to remain unalterable unless by common consent. By these
no person in the territory was ever to be molested on account
of his mode of worship, or religious sentiments, and every
person was entitled to the benefits of the writ of habeas
corpus, trial b}^ jury, and all those other fundamental rights
usually inserted in American bills of rights. Schools, and the

16 Pioneer History of Meigs County

means of education were forever to be encouraged, and the
utmost good faith to be observed toward the Indians; par-
ticularly their lands and property were never to be taken from
them without their consent.

The territory and the states to be formed therein were
forever to remain a part of the American confederacy, but not
less than three, nor more than five states, were to be estab-

The bounds of these were fixed with liberty for Congress
to alter them, by forming one or two new states in that part
of the territory lying north of an east and west line drawn
through the southern bend, or extreme of Lake Michigan.
It was also provided that whenever in any of these states
there should be sixty thousand free inhabitants, such state
was to be admitted into the Union, on the same terms or
footing of the original states in all respects whatever, and be
at liberty to form a permanent constitution and government,
such constitution and government was to be republican and
conform to the principles of the articles.

If consistent with the general interests of the confederacy

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Online LibraryStillman Carter LarkinThe pioneer history of Meigs County → online text (page 1 of 16)