Mad River Township, Clark County, Ohio
|There is also a Mad River Township in Champaign County, Ohio|
|Excerpts from Beer's History of Clark County|
. . . Mad River Township has for its northern boundary, its entire length, the Mad River, the general direction of this line being from northeast to southwest. On the east it is bounded by Springfield and Green Townships. On the south it is bounded by the Greene County line the entire length, commencing at the southeast corner of the township and running due west four sections, thence due north one section, thence west to Mad River at the western limit of the township. . .
The first settler within the limits of the territory now comprised in Mad River Township was James Galloway, on what is now the Francis Johnson farm, Section 5, Range 8. Mr. Galloway came in an early day; the exact date is not fully determined, but not later than 1798. He came from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, and, on account of the insecurity of land titles at that time in Kentucky, owing to military claims, he removed with his wife to Ohio, as above stated, taking a tract of 400 acres, partly upland and partly rich bottom, along the Muddy Run. . .
The next settlers after Mr. Galloway were Joseph and Robert Layton, in 1801. They came from Pennsylvania, and Joseph settled on a part of Section 32, now known as the Rubsam farm. Robert Layton settled on a part of the same section, on what is known as the William Layton farm. Joseph Layton was elected one of the first Trustees of the township; was afterward elected Justice of the Peace, and became one of the first Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Clark County.
In 1801, Abel Crawford came from Kentucky and settled on Section 27, Range 9, on what is now the property of Henry Snyder. On this farm there is an excellent spring of cold water, and a delightful grove, and, being convenient to the railroad, it is in the summer season a favorite resort for picnics and Sunday-school excursions, and as a pleasure resort is known as the "Cold Springs."
The same year, James Woods, from Pennsylvania, settled on the Joseph Layton tract already described; also, in 1801, William Parmer, from New York, settled on what is now the south part of the Henry Snyder [Schneider] home place, Section 26, Range 9, near the Stilwell Springs.
The same year, Christian Miller came from Kentucky and settled on what is now known as the J. H. Barringer land, Section 18, Range 8. Shrofe, from Kentucky, and Christian Shrofe, his son, settled about the same time on the Bunyan place, Section 22, Range 8; also Myers and Spencer, sons-in-law of Shrofe.
Samuel Davis came from New Jersey in 1803, and settled in the west part of the township.
About 1805, Moses Miller, from old Springfield, Hamilton County, settled on the land now belonging to the heirs of Melyn Miller, Section 36, Range 8. A part of the farm is still occupied by the widow of Melyn Miller; also Uriah Blue, on the Lake, now the L. J. M. Baker, farm, Section 28, Range 8.
About the same time and from same place came Reuben Winget and settled on what is now the Reuben Shellabarger farm, Section 6, Range 8. [Reuben Winget was grandfather to Lucretia Winget Taylor, Martin Winget, and Bethany Winget Taylor, who married into the David and Anne Taylor family.]
The same year, Melyn and Jonathan Baker came from Butler County, the former entering Section 31, Range 9, and settled on the north part of the section, on what is known as the Daniel Baker tract. Mr. Baker came from New Jersey to the present site of Cincinnati in 1790, and bought 2110 acres of land on Walnut Hills. He afterward sold out and removed to Butler County, and thence to Clark.
In those days, the log cabins of the older settlers were thrown open to receive the families of those who came among them to settle, for such time as was necessary, with the assistance of the neighbors, to erect a similar structure for themselves. Melyn Baker, on several occasions, entertained new arrivals until they could erect and occupy their own cabins.
About the year 1807, Richard Hudjul and family and Henson Reeder and family were welcomed to the hospitalities of his primitive abode during the time they were building their own equally humble residences. Reeder came from Hamilton County, and, after trying several locations on this side of the river, he removed to Bethel Township and settled on the John Crain farm.
About 1806, Dewitt settled near where the Enon Station is now located; removed after a short time, and joined the Shakers. About the same time, Daniel Mead came from Massachusetts and settled also near the present site of the Enon railroad station. A painful incident in connection with his family is remembered. Mr. Mead had a son about ten years old. Just across the river lived one James Templeton. Mr. Mead one day had occasion to send his son to borrow an auger of Mr. Templeton. In this connection, it is hardly necessary to mention that such a thing as a bridge across Mad River did not exist, so the boy went to the bank of the river, and, being within speaking distance, called over for the auger. Mr. Templeton took an auger and, aiming to land it across the river to one side of the boy, he threw it, and as it neared the opposite bank, the boy, seeing the auger, and perhaps mistaking the exact line on which it was coming, was seized with a sudden impulse to get out of the way, but, as the event proved, he came directly in the way, and the auger, coming point foremost, struck him in the head, piercing the skull. Medical aid was summoned, but death soon terminated the unfortunate boy's career.
In 1805, Jacob Reeder came from Hamilton County, and settled on a tract of land adjoining what is still known as the Elder Reeder farm. At the same time came Stephen Reeder, father of Elder Geo. Reeder, and settled on a tract of about 200 acres, which included what is now known as the Elder Reeder farm, Section 13, Range 9.
At the same time came Rule Petersen, from Hamilton County; also, John Brocaw, from Hamilton County, and also settled on the tract years ago known as the Reed farm, Section 14, Range 9, now owned by Frederick Koblentz.
In 1808, John Ambler came from New Jersey and settled on the Partington place, Section 24, Range 9; he afterward moved to Springfield and en gaged in the sale of the first goods that were sold in that little village.
At the same time, Thomas Collier, from Ireland, settled on what is now known as the Preston Love farm, Section 23, Range 8.
About the same time, Benjamin Symington, from Delaware, settled on what is now known as the Cyrus Drake farm, Section 29, Range 8.
In 1809, Elias Vickers, a Christian minister, came to the township. In the same year, John Tenney, from England, settled on what is now the Coffield place, on Muddy Run, Section 11, Range 8. John Rue, a native of Maryland, came about 1812; his wife, Sarah, was from Pennsylvania, and, previous to their coming to Mad River, had lived in Greene County, Ohio.
The first preacher was Thomas Kyle; after him, Reuben Dooly, William Kinkaid. David Purviance, Francis Montfort and Barton W. Stone; some of these were noted men in their clay, having been able ministers in the Old-School Presbyterian Church, and claiming the right of private interpretation of the Scriptures, independently of the acknowledged standard of the church. They rejected the authority of her courts, and claimed to acknowledge no authority but the Bible alone in matters of conscience and religious duty.
Barton W. Stone, above named, was a leading spirit in the controversy that ensued. He was once called to the Knob Prairie Church to explain some disputed theological questions that were agitating the church and threatening its stability. The Knob Prairie Church just referred to was the first church erected in Mad River Township. . .
The next church was erected by the Old-School Presbyterians, about a mile south of Muddy Run, near the Greene County line, in 1816, and was known as the Muddy Run Church. It was built of logs, had plank floor, shingle roof and glass windows; was about 24x30 feet. A brick building now occupies the site of this primitive structure. The congregation was in a flourishing condition until shattered by political animosities, growing out of the question of slavery and kindred topics.
As among the early settlers of New England, after providing for immediate necessities, the next object of prime importance was to secure the education of the rising generation. . .The first schoolhouse was built in 1806, about thirty yards east of the Daniel Baker residence, on the old Dayton & Springfield road. It was a log building with puncheon floor, puncheon seats without backs; glass was too expensive for lighting schoolhouses; as a substitute, greased paper was used for window lights. The entrance was closed with a puncheon door, hung on wooden hinges, with a wooden latch, with a string attached for opening on the outside. The warming apparatus for this building was an open fire-place, with cat-and clay chimney, as a stove for warming a schoolhouse was not thought of in those days. Perhaps it would have been better for the health of thousands of school children who have been confined in close, illy ventilated buildings, with incompetent teachers or janitors, ignorant or reckless of the requirements of the human lungs, if the idea of a stove or heating furnace had not suggested itself to the inventive genius of our advanced civilization. After the first schoolhouse was finished, the first teacher to occupy it was Samuel Gillalan. . .The second school-teacher was Robert Layton.
The next schoolhouse was erected near the site of the Rocky Point Schoolhouse. at what is known as the head of the cliffs. The third schoolhouse was built at or near what is known as the Center Schoolhouse, so named because near a central point of the township, and was for many years the place for holding elections and for the transaction of township business generally.
As early as 1809, when gunpowder was not only a necessity, but very difficult to obtain, Thomas Barton supplied the wants of the people in that line by manufacturing on a small scale, by hand. He was then settled on Section 34, Range 8, which has long been known as the Barton farm, on the line between Greene and Clark Counties, which farm has lately passed into the hands of Jonathan Cox.
The first clock sold was by Ezra Reed, of the firm of Reed & Watson, of Cincinnati, to Melyn Baker in 1809: the price paid was $20.
The first Sabbah school was organized by Jacob Morgan, David Garrison and Charles Moore in a paper-mill, built by Samuel Symington, at what was afterward known as the Partington Woolen Factory, already referred to, on the North Fork of Muddy Run.
The prairie in those early times was covered with a heavy growth of tall grass, and in the night season the deer would come down from the timber, in which they took shelter in day-time, in quest of water and-to mow the tall grass, and also to eat a certain kind of moss that abounded along the border of the big pond, as it was then called. But since then, the spade of the Hibernian in the construction of two railways along the border, as also a number of ditches, has deprived it of much of its original character. This pond was a resort for deer at night, and it also abounded with fish. The deer and fish attracted thither the hunter with his rifle, and the fisherman with his hooks and nets. In taking the deer on dark nights, the hunter would carry ligthed torches, and by this means could approach very near the deer, its eyes being blinded by the glare of the torch and, reflecting back the lightthus thrown, formed a splendid target for the hunter's rifle, and many a deer was thus deluded to its death by the glare of the hunter's torch in the darkness in those early days along the borders of this pond, when hunting and fishing were as really a visible means of support as is farming or any other legitimate calling at the present day.
About 1812, William Donnels built the first tavern in the township, about a mile and a half west of where the village of Enon has since been located, on the old Dayton & Springfield Road. This tavern was built of hickory logs, and hence it bore the appropriate title, and was known far and near, as the "Hickory Tavern." Travelers through this region in those days were glad to avail themselves of the accommodations furnished by the landlords of those log-cabin hotels, as they were the best the country afforded. The internal arrangements of this tavern were in harmony with the external appearance, but a generous hospitality supplemented style, and the traveler, leaving the threshold of this temporary abode realized that, while his entertainment was not princely, it was nevertheless up to the times and the circumstances of a new settlement not yet initiated into the mysteries of foreign trade and commerce. This hotel, with its proprietor, has long since passed away.
The next hotel was built in Enon, by Franklin Cook, in the year 1838. It was built of stone and rough cast, and has been in constant operation, under various proprietors, ever since, and is still the only hotel in the village.
About 1818, John and James Leffel erected a grist-mill at this point, and John Leffel died soon after, and James run the mill. . . At one time, the people here were entirely destitute of flour or corn-meal, and could not procure it at any price. The occasion of it was an unexpected and sudden cold change that froze up the mills before the people had laid in a supply for winter, and, as there were no flour stores then, and no place to get flour but directly from the mill, the people for several weeks subsisted on hominy and pork. To go to mill in those days was a two-days journey, including the time required to grind a grist. The grists were usually carried on horseback, partly on account of the roads, and for the want of other means of conveyance. Hence, the erection of the Leffel mill in 1818 was of great advantage to the people of this community, and, as the mill got into operation, and a great many people came there with their grists from a distance, it finally grew into a favorable point for general traffic, and here were established the first dry-goods and grocery store in this community.
The first store was started by Mr. Mills, father of the late Judge Mills; he was succeeded by Knott & Johnson; Isaac Wilson succeeded them. . .
Afterward, a store was established at Brottensburgh, and about 1837 a post office was established there, with J. R. Miller, Postmaster; previous to this, the nearest post office was Springfield. Brottensburgh was built on the old Springfield & Dayton road, on what is known as the Roberts, or Stilwell, place; was built mainly of logs, and was peopled principally by persons who were employed in some capacity or other in connection with the mill under its various managements, either as coopers, distillers, teamsters, or some other kindred occupation. This Brottensburgh tract was once the property of the noted and eccentric Lorenzo Dow.
The mill referred to was run until about 1831 by Mr. Leffel, and sold to Minard, who made some additions to the property, among the additions being a large brick distillery. Mr. Minard ran the mill about three years, and, being unfortunate, the property fell into the hands of the Sheriff. and was bought by Daniel Hertzler, who ran the mill and distillery successfully for about twenty years, amassing a large fortune. The property has changed hands several times since, but for nearly twenty years past has most of the time been lying idle.
The village of Enon, to which reference has already been made, was founded in the year 1838, it being on the direct road from Springfield to Dayton, and nearly a central point between Springfield and Fairfield, and at the intersection of the road leading from Xenia to New Carlisle. Enon was established simultaneously with the location of the Springfield & Dayton Turnpike, which at this point followed nearly along theline of the old Dayton & Springfield road.
The town was first started by Ezra D. Baker and Elnathan Cory, their land joining, and being divided by the range line passing through the town from north to south on what is known as Xenia street. Additions were afterward made to the town by David Cross, who succeeded to the Cory tract, and also by David Funderburgh, along South Kansas street, on the east part of town. This Kansas street has a local history, as the name suggests. When this street was new and unnamed some of the denizens along the line of this unnamed street were disposed to quarrel with each other, and a street fight was no uncommon affair, and the Kansas war being at its height, some ingenious person, associating the condition of this street with the condition of that gory young embryo State, named it Kansas street. Although both have laid aside their belligerent characters, yet the name remains, and will ever be a reminder of the struggles of the squatter sovereigns of Kansas with the border ruffians over twenty years ago.
The first church erected in the place was a Methodist Episcopal, corner of Broadway and Pleasant streets; is still occupied by them, and is in a good state of preservation. This society was organized about 1840, in a small log house which stood in a grove between the village and what was then the residence of Eza D. Baker, now the John Hamaker residence. The grove and the log house have long since disappeared, as have also all who constituted the society in its first organization. The first regular ministers of this society were Levi P. Miller and Noah Huff. The sermon on the dedication of the church referred to above was preached by Mr. Walker, who, it was said at the time, was educated within the pale of the Catholic Church, with the priestly office in view, but apostatized from the Catholic faith and became a Methodist minister. The first local minister resident of the village was Frederick Snyder [Schneider]. The next church erected in the village was by the Christian denomination. The first resident minister of this denomination was Elder Ladly, who removed to Yellow Springs, where he resided until his death, a few years ago.
The first schoolhouse erected was built on North Xenia street, was built of brick, one story, and is still standing; is now occupied as a dwelling. The next schoolhouse was built on South Xenia street; is a two-story brick building, has three rooms-two below, one above, the upper room being occupied by the highest classes, the rooms below by the intermediate and primary classes. The school is not entirely under the control of the village, but is sustained by an incorporated district, extending, for school purposes, outside of the corporate limits of the village. The village has usually been favored with good schools of a common grade; but little effort has been made of late years to establish a school of as high a grade as should be sustained by this community. This lack of interest on the part of the citizens in the cause of education has doubtless been very detrimental to the development of the best interests of the village and its surroundings. The health of this locality is such that no fatal epidemic has ever gained a foothold here, nor have the honored disciples of Esculapius been able to reap large harvests here from the ills that flesh is heir to in less favored localities. This place is also favored with convenient railroad, mail and telegraphic facilities.
The first house in the village was erected by Jesse Rhodes. The first merchant was John R. Miller. He came here in an early day with a stock of goods and the post office, he having been previously established in Brottensburgh, where was located the first post office within the township. After Mr. Miller, Stephen Wilson came from Hertzler's Mills, now known as the Bank, or Snyder's Station, with a stock of goods. In those days, our merchants usually went twice a year to Philadelphia or New York to lay in a stock of goods. They went by stage, canal, and sometimes a portion of the route by steamboat, it requiring several weeks to make the journey, and still longer for the goods to be transported to their destination. Opening out a lot of goods, then being only a semiannual occurrence, and not daily, as now, was an occasion of universal interest to the people generally, and especially to the ladies, who are always interested in the very latest New York and Paris styles.
Other merchants were Melyn Miller, Conrad Kurtz, Robert Gaston, who came with his two sisters and uncle from Ireland and bought out the stand formerly occupied by Stephen Wilson. Taylor and Gardner were for a time engaged in the business here; their storeroom was on what has long been known as the burnt corner, being at or near the northeast corner of Mr. Hagar's lot; the establishment was burnt out, supposed to have been by an incendiary. J. L. Conklin afterward established a store in the village, and was also burned out. David Zeigler was also engaged in the business; Smith & Ohlwine, John H. Littler, Anthony Beam, John Goodwin, Miller & Wolf, H. Strauss, John Wallace, and others.
Enon has been favored with quite a line of citizen tailors. Among the number were Mr. Kennedy, Miller Baker, Mr. Robinson and John Wallace.
Among the blacksmiths, Joseph Sipes was the first; after him was Nelson Hardman, T. J. Barton, John Hall, William Pottle, Franklin Roch. James Vanostran, who was also a plow-maker, was for a time engaged with William D. Miller in the village in the manufacture of the well-known "Miller plow."
The first resident shoemaker was Mr. Weaver; after him, J. R. King, Davidson Maple, J. Blackert, J. Hammond, William Maple and others. Cabinet-makers, the first was Hitchcock; after him, Conrad Kurtz, who also for a time engaged in the undertaking business. At that time, it was common to run a hearse with a single horse. Mr. Kurtz followed the usual custom in this respect. Among the early residents in the cooper trade were William Barton, Silas Chappell, Peter Miller, Edwin Barton and others.
The first trial, either civil or criminal, we ever witnessed was held in the old schoolhouse, and the ease, as near as memory serves, was this: William Barton, with a hand, were working in the shop together, disagreed and came to blows, and the hand struck Mr. Barton near the shoulder blade with a cooper adze, penetrating almost to the lungs, inflicting a dangerous wound. A charge for assault and battery with intent to kill was brought, the party was arrested, brought before Squire Coffield; the trial was held at night, in the old brick schoolhouse in Enon, then occupied in day-time for a common school, and taught by Blair Wilson, afterward Col. Wilson, of the Forty-fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, who was then a young man teaching school and studying law. Spirited arguments were made on both sides; the defendant was sent to jail, but, the wound not proving serious, as at first supposed, he was finally released.
About 1805, a friendly Indian, encamped on the head-waters of Mill Creek, near the present site of Emery Church, was visited by three men from this township. The visit was made in the guise of friendship; they were kindly received and entertained; they engaged the Indian in shooting at target, and, taking advantage of him when his gun was empty, shot him down without any other provocation than the fact that he belonged to the hated Indian tribe.
One of the parties to this transaction, Maj. Bracken, met a sudden and tragic death the same year, under the following circumstances: He had a financial difficulty with a man by the name of Roberts, and, to simplify the question and bring it to a speedy termination, he notified Roberts to leave the settlement within a specified time or he would terminate his earthly career. Roberts, not daring, under the circumstances, to resort to law, had about completed his arrangements to leave. He was staying then at Parmer's, whose house stood a few rods north of the Stilwell Springs, and just across a ravine north from the former site of the old log schoolhouse of District No. 6. The dwelling was a log building, and the spaces between the logs above the upper floor were not filled and plastered, but were left open. When Roberts was about ready to leave, Bracken made his appearance, with two other men, Jacob Robinson and another person, two of them armed with guns, the third with a heavy club. They approached the house by a narrow path, single file, Bracken in front. Roberts, seeing them coming, and knowing their errand, ran up to the loft, and, taking a loaded gun, placed himself at an opening covering their approach, and, allowing them to advance within easy range, he took deliberate aim and fired. The charge entered the right breast of the leader, Bracken, who, turning round to his comrades, exclaimed, " I am a dead man! " and fell, bleeding profusely. He was carried into the house and soon expired. The settlers were speedily notified, and gathered to the scene. Ezra D. Baker, then a boy, remembers seeing him, his breast stripped open where the ball entered, the blood oozing from the wound, and Judge Layton wiping away the crimson fluid from the ghastly opening. His wife reached the scene after he had expired, and her first view was the fatal blood-stained opening in the bosom of her dead husband. A son, born about three months afterward, carried the mark of that fatal wound on his right breast to manhood, and, if living, can doubtless still exhibit the same proof of his father's tragic fate. When Bracken's two comrades saw their leader was fallen, they fled Roberts took another loaded gun-Parmer having no less than five or six-and, mounting a horse, bade a final adieu to this settlement. Bracken's residence was at Brackensford, on the north bank of Mad River, at the mouth of Donnels' Creek.
About the first death known to have occurred in this settlement was a Mrs. Broadus, from Kentucky. She was buried in the Knob Prairie Graveyard, and, on account of rocks, a sufficient depth could not be reached until they had tried three different locations for the grave.
The young men in those days who were the best marksmen were depended on to supply the table with wild game, such as deer, bear and turkey. Among those who were considered good in those times were the late Daniel Baker, who died 1868. He shot the last bear known to have been killed in the settlement about 1810 or 1811. In Kate's Bottom, near the Jacob Kissler spring, on the David Funderburgh farm, one exploit of his he used to relate, although the result of accident rather than skill, was the killing of four deers at a single shot. The object aimed at was a doe; beyond the doe was a yearling; the ball passed through the doe and brought down the yearling; with the doe were two unborn twins, making in all four at a single shot; the last wolf known to have been killed in the settlement was killed by Thomas Drake, in the Killdigan woods.
An object of curiosity and of unknown origin is the Knob Prairie Mound, an artificial elevation, originally about forty-nine feet in height, and covering about an acre. Among its early attractions was a wolf's den. An indentation on the northwest side indicates the place of entrance to their quarters in the interior of this mysterious structure. This mound was, in the early settlement of this place, covered with forest trees of the ordinary size and kind found in this locality.
It lay immediately on the line of march of, Gen. Clarke's troops on the way to the memorable battle of Piqua, the centennial of which was celebrated in August, 1880, on the ground where the battle was fought. A portion of Gen. Clarke's light horsemen rode to the top of this mound as they were on the march to the battle, from which they obtained an extensive view of the surrounding country. But this tower of observation was not elevated enough to give them a view of the village, about two miles away, that was so soon to fall before their superior powers.
Their line of march lay from this point along the line dividing the lands of Susan Funderburgh and William T. Hill, and thence along the foot of the bluff at the head of the prairie, thence to the Mad River at or near Snyder's Station. Mad River, which embraces the smallest area of any township in Clark County, furnished her full quota of men for the army during the great rebellion. No drafted men were sent to the army from Mad River, nor has she ever sent a representative to the Ohio Penitentiary. . .
An event, the remembrance of which was indelibly impressed upon the memory of those who witnessed it, was the great hurricane of April 11, 1833. This terrible storm was preceded by an exceedingly hot, clear day. A few incidents of the storm in this vicinity are still vividly remembered.
At the residence of Ezra D. Baker John Hamaker's, at Enon, a traveler stopped soon after noon of that day, and asked the privilege of remaining a few hours, until after the hurricane, which he assured them would be along that afternoon, as he professed to be acquainted, in a more Southern latitude, with the indications preceding such terrible exhibitions of atmospheric phenomena. Mr. Baker was hauling stone about half a mile distant, with oxen; the stranger told him he had better put away his oxen and be ready, as the storm would likely, be on soon. He also advised the family to make their arrangements to repair to the cellar on the approach of the storm. Mr. Baker had no cellar under his dwelling house, it being a log structure, but had an outhouse with a cellar. When the storm came in sight, he took his family into the cellar, where the stranger also took refuge, and Mr. Baker stood outside and watched the movements of the funnel-shaped cloud, which seemed to be coming in the direction of his house, but it passed about a quarter of a mile south, and between his residence and that of his brother, Melyn Baker. The cloud is described by those who saw it as an awful, black, funnel-shaped cloud, the smaller end extending to the ground, the larger end extending outward and upward into the atmosphere to a very great height.
After the storm had passed, the neighbors soon gathered to take an inventory of the damages. The house of Dr. Bessey, which stood near the present residence of David E. Shellabarger, but on the opposite side of the road, was swept clear to within one log of the lower floor, and everything in the house was swept away except a jug of "No. 6" the Doctor had for use in his practice. Himself and family escaped in a marvelous manner. The Doctor had just returned from visiting a patient; he was sitting in the house reading; his wife was ironing. All at once it grew dark. One of the family observed what a curious-looking cloud was coming; the Doctor went to the door, and, taking in the situation at a glance, he turned and picked up one of the little children, telling his wife and family to follow, which they did, and as they vacated the house, the storm took it up and scattered the logs of which it was composed to the four winds of heaven. One of his little boys was bounced up and down and carried some distance by the storm, but was finally dropped without serious injury. Another house about a quarter of a mile northeast of the Doctor's was also carried away without fatal results.
©Roberta Tuller 2020