Stillman Carter Larkin.

The pioneer history of Meigs County online

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son Daniel, a lad of only eleven years, to stay with Mrs. Har-
ris while he made a trip to New Orleans. There were few
families in Bedford township, and it was very lonesome for
the young wife in the small cabin in the woods, where the
wolves were heard nightly. So Mrs. Harris concluded to go
down to her father's, Mr. John Smith, above the mouth of
Leading creek, and a son of Mr. Bissell, who was younger
than Daniel, was engaged to stay and care for the stock. One
night early in March, as these boys were getting in a log to
build a fire in the morning, young Knight slipped, and the log
fell on him, breaking his thigh bone about the middle. Daniel
told the Bissel boy to pull their straw bed down before the
fire. Then he lay flat on his back, with one hand on each side
and the fingers of each hand thrust through the cracks of the
puncheon floor, directing the other boy to pull at his foot;'
while he held on to the floor, until they actually set the bonej
in its place. He had buckskin pants and took some buckskir^'
thongs and tied above and below the break, the pants serving]
as splints. Fortunately, Major Higley had gone out that day



Pioneer History of Meigs County 83

to look after some stock, and called in to see how the boys

were doing and to spend the night with them, and this was

the plight in which he found them. They had corn bread of

their own baking and venison. Mr. Higley examined the

boy's leg and found that it was broken, and he then mounted

his horse and rode to Mr, Knight's, the father of the boy, at

Middleport, who immediately started to his son in the

j wilderness, going by way of Chester for Dr. Robinson to ac-

' company him. They knew the path as far as Bissell's, but no

i farther. They arrived there to find that Mr. Bissell was away

: from home, but Mrs. Bissell got out of bed at midnight, had

; her horse saddled, and piloted these two men through the dense

I forest to where the suffering boy lay, leaving her own little

: one asleep at home, and stayed with the boy until Mr. Knight

1 returned and brought his wife and provisions. Mrs. Knight

I had to stay twenty-one days before they could take the boy

i home. Those were pioneer times.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE FIRST COUNTY COURT OF
COMMON PLEAS FOR MEIGS COUNTY, STATE
OF OHIO, ss.:

April Term, in the Year 1819.

Be it remembered. That at a term of Court of Common
Pleas for the county of Meigs, begun and held at the tem-
^ porary seat of justice: Present, Hon. Ezra Osborn, president,
judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit of the Court of Common
Pleas for the State of Ohio ; and Horatio Strong, Fuller Elliot
and James E. Phelps, Esqs., associate judges of the Court of
Common Pleas for Meigs county, who produced their several
commissions under the great seal of the State of Ohio, which
were read in open court.

Robert C. Barton was appointed clerk pro tem. of the said
court in complying with the requisitions of the law. Samuel



84 Pioneer History of Meigs County

F. Vinton was appointed prosecuting attorney for the present
and succeeding terms.

The court then adjourned until tomorrow at 9 o'clock.

Ezra Osborn.

Second Day. — The court met pursuant to adjournment.
Present : The same judges as of yesterday. The clerk, on
motion, produced a bond as sureties for the faithful discharge
of his duties. . The same was approved, and he was duly
sworn into office, and the senior associate was directed to
deliver the said bond to the county treasurer.

On motion, it was ordered that license be renewed to James
E. Phelps to keep a house of entertainment at his new dwell-
ing house on his complying with the requisitions of the law.
A notice was duly served on James E. Phelps and Fuller
Elliot, Esqs., associates of the court, by Horatio Strong, senior
associate, to meet at the temporary seat of justice on the
twelfth day of April, instant, for the purpose of appointing a
recorder of the county, according to law. Ordered by the
court that the clerk within twenty days give notice to the
trustees of each township that they make a selection of grand
and petit jurors, and that they return to him thereof to him
in twenty days thereafter. And he is required to have them
subpoenaed to attend in their respective capacities as jurors
at this place on the first day of next term, by the sherifif. On
motion, ordered that licenses be granted to George Russell
for a ferry across Leading creek where he now keeps it on his
complying with the regulations of the law.

On motion, ordered that license be granted to Elisha Rath-
burn, of Rutland, to solemnize the bonds of matrimony. On
the application of James H. Hayman and Alexander Miller
for the appointment of county surveyor, the court was equally
divided and the application laid over until the next term.

Ordered by the court that the clerk pro tem. use his private
seal for all processes issuing from court until a county seal



Pioneer History of Meigs County 85

shall be provided. The court adjourned until half-past 1
o'clock P. M. The court met pursuant to adjournment. Pres-
ent: Horatio Strong, Fuller Elliot, James E. Phelps, Esqs.,
associate judges. On petition of Thomas Ridding, of Sutton,
for a license to keep a house of entertainment at his dwelling
house, ordered that the clerk give him a license on his com-
plying with the requisitions of the law. The minutes being
read and approved by the court and adjourned without day.

Horatio Strong.

April 12th, 1819.

Pursuant to request, the associate judges assembled at the
temporary seat of justice. Present: Horatio Strong, Fuller
Elliot and James E. Phelps, Esqs., associate judges.

Robert E. Barton was appointed recorder of Meigs county,
and on producing his bond was duly sworn into office by the
senior associate judge, the bond having been approved. The
oath of office was administered as follows : I, Robert C. Bar-
ton, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully and impartially
discharge the duties of recorder of Meigs county according to
the best of my abilities and understanding. Robert C. Barton.

Subscribed April 12th, 1819. The oath to support the Con-
stitution of the United States and the State of Ohio being also
administered, the associates adjourned.

Horatio Strong.

State of Ohio, Meigs County, ss.
July Term, 1819.
Be it remembered. That on Monday, the nineteenth day of
July, 1819, the Court of Common Pleas in said county, at the
meeting house in the township of Salisbury — present, the
Hon. Ezra Osborn, president judge ; Horatio Strong, Fuller
Elliot and James E. Phelps, associate judges — the venire for
grand jurors was returned and the following jurors empan-
eled, to-wit: Foreman, Daniel Rathburn; David Lindsey,



86 Pioneer History of Meigs County

Adam Harpold, Jesse Worthing, Joel Smith, Silas Knight,
James Shields, Jr., George Roush, Jas. Gibson, Calvin Marvin,
John H. Sayre, Alvin Ogden, Joseph Hoit; Major Reed, taHs-
man.

Then follows the licensing of different men for various pur-
poses, the trial of persons for various offenses, consisting
largely of "fist-i-cuffs," and probate business is omitted.

State of Ohio, Meigs County, ss.
November Term, A. D. 1819.

Be it remembered, That on Monday, the twenty-second day
of November, in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and
nineteen, the Court of Common Pleas met at the meeting
house in Salisbury township. Present : The Hon. Ezra Os-
born, president judge, and James E. Phelps and Fuller Elliot,
associate judges, this, the last court for the first year in Meigs
county, 1819.

Review of proceedings by S. C. Larkin.

The design of the following resume is to elucidate facts
that relate to the history of Meigs county, but are not gener-
ally understood.

By a law of Congress, Section 29 in every township of six
miles square in the Ohio Company's purchase should be re-
served for ministerial purposes. The land upon which this
meeting house stood belonged to Salisbury township, and the
Courts of Common Pleas were held in it for two years, when,
unfortunately, it was burned down. Mr. Levi Stedman, of
Chester, invited the judges to hold court in his house. When
the second set of commissioners met, they went where the
court was held, and decided to locate the county seat, as Mr.
Levi Stedman offered to make a good deed of land, enough to
lay out a town. The offer was accepted. The county seat
was located there, the town laid out and named Chester. The
question was asked why the county seat was not located at



Pioneer History of Meigs County 87

Middleport? Mr. Benjamin Smith and his wife Ahiia had
agreed to donate as a gift the land for a town and to secure it
by a good title deed. Smith had given a bond for $5000, with
his brother, John Smith, and Samuel Everett as sureties, but
it has been stated that upon reconsidering the matter, Mrs.
Smith refused to acknowledge the deed, which she had a
right to do, according to the law of Ohio. The commissioner
did not bring suit against the sureties, as John Smith lived on
his father's farm, and Samuel Everett was a young man not
owning any real estate. The judges claimed that nothing
could be realized more than cost of suit, and they should not
be blamed for not ordering or permitting the commissioner,
Eli Sigler, from commencing suit. S. C. L.

EXTRACTS FROM REPORTS OF THE PROCEEDINGS
OF THE FIRST COMMISSIONERS OF MEIGS
COUNTY, STATE OF OHIO, APRIL 30th, 1819.

The commissioners of said county met this day, to-wit,
Levi Stedman and William Alexander, who, after being duly
sworn by Archibald Murray, a justice of the peace for the
county aforesaid, and lodging a certificate thereof in the
office of the Court of Common Pleas for the said county, pro-
ceeded to business.

Benjamin Stout, duly elected sheriff of said county, pre-
sented a bond, of which the following is a copy, which was
approved and delivered to the county treasurer:

Know all men by these presents : That I, Benjamin Stout,
as principal, and Levi Stedman and Philip Jones, as sureties,
all of the county of Meigs and State of Ohio, are held and
firmly bound to Levi Stedman, William Alexander and Elijah
Runner, commissioners of the county aforesaid, and to their
successors in office in the full and just sum of four thousand
dollars, current money of Ohio, for which sum well and truly
to be paid, we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors and admin-



88 Pioneer History of Meigs County

istrators firmly by these presents. Signed and sealed this
thirteenth day of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and
nineteen.

The condition of the above obligation is such, that, whereas
the above bounden Benjamin Stout was duly elected sheriff
of the county aforesaid, on the fifth day of April, inst., and was
also duly proclaimed as such on the twelfth day of April, to
serve until the annual election in October next. Now, there-
fore, if the said Benjamin Stout shall well and truly perform
all the duties of sheriff of the county aforesaid and account
for and pay over all the moneys by him collected according
to law, then this obligation will be null and void ; otherwise
remain in full force and virtue.

[Seal] Benjamin Stout.
[Seal] Levi Stedman.
[Seal] Philip Jones.

Signed, sealed and delivered in presence of Robert C, Bar-
ton,

Philip Jones, of Salisbury, was appointed county treasurer
to serve until the annual meeting in June next, and having
produced bond for the faithful discharge of his duties the
same was approved, Robert C, Barton was appointed clerk
(pro tem).

Resolved, That the tavern of James E, Phelps, of Salisbury,
and that of Thomas Redding, of Sutton, pay six dollars each
for a license for one year ensuing. And that George Russell
pay two dollars for a renewal of license to keep a ferry over
Leading creek where he now keeps it.

June 7th, 1819. Commissioners met this day.

Present: Levi Stedman, William Alexander and Elijah
Runner. The last named was duly qualified by William
Alexander, a justice of the peace, and a certificate thereof
lodged with the clerk of Common Pleas Court. Benjamin
Stout, of Orange township, was appointed collector of the
county tax for the year 1819, and Philip Jones was appointed



Pioneer History of Meigs County 89

county treasurer for one year from this date, and having pro-
duced a bond for the faithful performance of his duties in
office, the same was approved.

Resolved, That six sections formerly attached to the township
of Morgan, and which are within the county of Meigs, be, and
the same are hereby attached to the township of Salem.

Resolved, That the three sections lately belonging to Che-
shire township and numbered 24, 30 and 36, being within the
county of Meigs, be and the same are hereby attached to the
township of Rutland. And that the three sections lately be-
longing to the township of Cheshire and numbered 6, 12 and
18, being in the county of Meigs, be and the same are hereby
attached to Salisbury township.

Resolved, That the original surveyed Township No. 9, in
Rangi 13, be and the same is hereby attached to the township
of Orange.

Rates of ferriage across the Ohio river that persons licensed
to ferry are entitled to demand, viz : Each foot man, 10 cents ;
for one man and horse, 20 cents ; for a loaded wagon and
team, 100 cents ; for any other four-wheeled carriage, 75
cents ; for a loaded cart and team, 50 cents ; for an empty
wagon and team, 37^ cents ; for an empty cart or sled or
sleigh and team, 18f cents ; for every horse, mare, mule or ass
or head of neat cattle, 5 cents ; for every sheep or hog, 3 cents.

Rates of ferriage across Leading creek : For each foot man,
6^ cents; for a man and horse, 12-| cents; for a loaded wagon
and team, 50 cents ; for any other four-wheeled carriage, 37^
cents ; for loaded cart, 25 cents ; for an empty cart and team,
sled or sleigh and team, 18| cents; for every horse, mare,
mule, ass or head of meat cattle, 5 cents; for every hog or
sheep, 3 cents.

Resolved, That ten dollars be allowed to the clerk of the
Court of Common Pleas for services not otherwise provided
for, and one dollar for opening the poll books from April 5th
to June 7th, 1819. And that one dollar and sixty-seven cents



90 Pioneer History of Meigs County

be allowed to Benjamin Stout, Esq., sheriff of said county, for
similar services.

Resolved, That there be allowed to the clerk of the Court
of Common Pleas for the ensuing year the sum of fifty dollars
in full for all services wherein the State may fail in prosecu-
tion, the same to be paid quarterly.

Resolved, That Robert C. Barton is appointed clerk of the
court for the ensuing year.

Resolved, That there be allowed to the sheriff of the Court
of Common Pleas for the ensuing year the sum of forty dollars
in full for services wherein the State may fail in prosecutions
which may be commenced, and that the sum of three dollars
be allowed for opening and certifying poll books, the same to
be paid quarterly.

Resolved, That all persons required by law to bring returns
to the office of the county commissioners or clerk of the Court
of Common Pleas be allowed 5 cents per mile for travel — the
same for commissioners — and $2.25 cents per day for services.

Proceedings approved by the Court of Common Pleas, July
24th, 1819.

The board adjourned until the twenty-first of July, 1819.

An application was made this day to divide the township of
Orange.

Resolved, That said township of Orange be divided as fol-
lows : Beginning on the Ohio river at the southeast corner
of Section 29, Township 3, Range 11, west to the north-
west corner of Section No. 5, Township 3, Range 12; thence
north to the county line ; thence east with said line to the
Ohio river; thence with the meanderings of said river to the
place of beginning; and that the name of the township be
Olive.

Then follows a detailed account of expenses, much of which
had to be paid in county orders.

December 6th, 1819. At a meeting of commissioners, pres-
ent were Samuel Downing and Philip Jones, this being the



Pioneer History of Meigs County 91

first meeting of the commissioners since the October election
of 1819.

They proceeded to draw lots agreeable to law, Robert C.
Barton being authorized to draw for William Alexander in
case he was not present. In drawing of lots, it appeared that
William Alexander was to serve one year, Philip Jones two
years and Samuel Downing three years.

An act for levying tax on land, passed February 8th, 1820:

Section 2. That all lands subject to taxation shall be rated
or classed as first, second and third rate, agreeably to the fol-
lowing rules, to-wit : In all cases where the largest proportion
of a tract of land is of the best quality, it shall be denominated
first rate and shall be taxed annually as such. And when the
largest proportion of a tract of land is inferior to the best and
superior to the worst quality, it shall be denominated second
rate and shall be charged with a tax annually as such.

Section 3. Be it further enacted. That there shall be levied
and paid yearly and every year on each hundred acres of land
of the first rate one dollar and fifty cents.

On each hundred acres of second rate land, one dollar; and
I on each hundred acres of third rate land fifty cents, and in the
same proportion for any greater or less number of acres.

Section 48. Be it enacted. That 25 per cent, of the net
amount of taxes collected shall be paid into treasury of such
county for county purposes.

On February 24th, 1824, a law was passed altering the
amount of tax on the different rates of land, as follows :

First rate land, $1.25. Second rate land, 87^ cents. Third
rate was 56 cents.

Section 2. Twenty per cent, of the net tax collected to be
paid into the county treasury.

February 23, 1824, another act of the Legislature fixes the
rates of stud horses not to exceed the rate for which he stands
for the season, but on all other horses, mares, mules and asses



92 Pioneer History of Meigs County

three years old and upwards a sum not to exceed 30 cents per
year. On all neat cattle three years old and upwards, 10 cents
per head. On other property made taxable by this act, not to
exceed one-half of 1 per cent, of the appraised value.

The reason why the substance of the tax laws has been
quoted here is in order to show that in the early years of
Meigs county and in former years the Legislature of Ohio
always limited the amount of tax to be raised, giving the com-
missioners of a county no authority to go beyond such limits.
Great care was taken not to allow corporations to run the
people into debt, as they now do, entailing upon future genera-
tions a heavy debt, a grievous burden to be borne.

The amount of revenue for Meigs county was not sufficient
to pay expenses, and orders on the county treasury became so
depreciated as to bring only 50 cents on the dollar and became
an article of trade. Merchants would pay in goods, 50 cents
for a dollar, and sell the same in money to taxpayers, who
would pay tax with it to the amount of its face. What little
money was paid into the treasury was used for expenses that
orders would not pay.

The method of grading land into first, second and third
grades and for fixing the amount of tax for each 100 acres,
according to the respective rates for state purposes, was
enacted February 18th, 1804, and was continued with slight
alterations up to the first years of Meigs county as heretofore
mentioned, but no part of it was allowed for county purposes.

The law of levies for county purposes by assessing a tax
on stock, etc., was continued at about the same rate until
after Meigs county was organized, which law was enacted
February 19th, 1805.

At the pioneer meeting in 1885 Mrs. Dolly Knight had a
most interesting paper concerning early days about Chester,
from which some extracts are taken of facts not included in
the former papers. "In 1798 Peter Grow and Levi Stedman



Pioneer History of Meigs County 93

built their first cabins in what afterwards became the town
of Chester, but they did not remove their families until a year
later. Mrs. Grow died before the cabins were ready for occu-
pancy, but the father, with six motherless children, came to
the place of their future home. Mrs. Stedman shared with
her husband all the privation of those primitive times. She.,
too, had a 'bear story,' for one time when Mr. Stedman was
away from home she heard something disturbing the pigs in
the pen and discovered a bear. She resorted to firebrands,
throwing them vigorously. The bear retreated, not getting
fresh pork for supper. Many families who came from Ver-
mont and Massachusetts and located on Shade river, in and
about Chester, in the first years of 1800 ought to be included
in pioneer history. Thomas L. Halsey, 1792, bought land of
the Ohio Company's purchase; Jacob and Joel Cowdery in
1807 and 1808, and the Branch, the Rice and Walker families
and others. Those families from the New England states
brought their ideas of education with them, and until they
could have a common school they would work hard by day
and in the evening teach their children. They succeeded in
bringing up some intelligent sons and daughters. Their books
were few, but well chosen and carefully read. After Meigs
county was made and organized, with the county seat located
at Chester, the principal lawyers to attend the sessions of
Common Pleas Court were Samuel F. Vinton and Thomas
Ewing."

In various communications that have been submitted to us
there has been much of the same character related by Mrs.
Knight, so we have taken the liberty of making extracts from
her excellent paper instead of using the entire history. — S. C. L.

It is a serious fact that among the first early settlers in
what is now Meigs county and who bought land, that no sub-
sequent account of their lives or families has been obtained,
an omission which at this late day it is almost impossible to



94 Pioneer History of Meigs County

supply after the lapse of nearly a century. We find in the
records of deeds of Washington county and of Gallia county
names of men who bought land and made homes in what is
now Meigs county. Ezra and Joshua Chapman and Levi
Chapman purchased land dating to 1787. Ezra and Joshua
Chapman lived and died in Letart township. Henry Roush
bought thirty-six acres of land in 1808 in Letart. Adam Har-
pold, in 1812, a farm in Letart township, Thomas Alexan-
der, first, in 1803. After 1810, there seems to have been i
steady influx of families from Virginia, Pennsylvania and
New York, as well as the earlier emigrants from New Eng-
land. The names of Sayre, Hall and Price are represented by
a large number of people living in Meigs county.

George W. Cooper was a son of Abraham Cooper and Mar-
garet Cooper, nee Wetzel, daughter of Lewis Wetzel, of fron-
tier notoriety. Mr. Cooper lived in Chester several years as a
salesman in Colonel David Barber's store. Moving to Middle-
port, he was an active member of the Meigs County Pioneer
Society, being the first corresponding secretary of the same.
Mr. Cooper was one of the most upright, reliable of men and
universally respected. He died in Middleport, Ohio, in 1878.

Persis O. Cooper, nee Blackstone, wife of George W. Cooper,
was born in Athens, Ohio, May 22nd, 1822. She was a grand-
daughter of Major John White. She died at New Carlisle,
Ohio, July 23rd, 1894.

Major John White was born in 1758 in Pomfret, Conn., and
was a soldier in the Revolutionary army. He was said to be
one of the bodyguards at the execution of Major Andre, and
was familiar with all the circumstances connected with the
attempted betrayal of the army by Benedict Arnold. He was
one of a company that landed at Marietta in 1789 and lived in
the blockhouse, serving at times as an Indian scout. While
here he married Priscilla Duval. After his marriage he moved



Pioneer History of Meigs County 95

to Waterford, subsequently to Athens county, until the death
of his wife in 1838, when he came to his son-in-law's and
daughter's, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Fair, of Chester, Meigs
county, with whom he remained until his decease, in his
eighty-seventh year. He is buried in the Chester cemetery.

Samuel Ervin built a cabin near the site of what is known
as the "Horton boatyard" in 1807, being the first settler of the
town of Pomeroy. Amos Partlow came in 1809 and built his
cabin about where the Excelsior Salt Works are situated, and
that was the second house. The third cabin was erected by
Frank Hughes on the ground where the court house stands,
and John Mason put a cabin on Sugar run, being the fourth


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Online LibraryStillman Carter LarkinThe pioneer history of Meigs County → online text (page 7 of 16)