Cathy PORTER-Maynard (In Minnesota)...
Re: Abolitionists ...
THE UNDERGROUND RAILWAY; and, the Finney and Roe families
HISTORY OF RICHLAND COUNTY, OHIO - 581CHAPTER LVIII.
LOCATION -- ORGANIZATION-- NAME -- SPRINGS -- LIMITS -- PHYSICAL FEATURES -- AGRICULTURE AND TIMBER -- SETTLERS AND SETTLEMENTS
THE FINNEY AND ROE FAMILIES AND THE UNDERGROUND RAILWAY --CHURCHES AND SABBATH SCHOOLS-SCHOOLS-SAW-MILLS AND GRIST -- MILLS -- VILLAGES -- POPULATION.
THIS was originally part of Madison Township, and now lies directly west of and joins it. It was organized in 1816, at which time it was twelve miles long from east to west, and six miles wide, and included what is now Sandusky Township, and part of Polk and Jackson Townships in Crawford County. In February, 1818, it was cut in two in the center, leaving it in its present shape-six miles square. Its name was suggested by Mrs. Coffinberry, one of earliest settlers, on account of the numerous the springs within its limits, some of which are very beautiful and valuable. Perhaps the most noted of these is the Palmer Spring. one and a half miles north of the village of Ontario. It produces a large volume of pure water, and supplies the little city of Crestline, being conveyed to that place in pipes. The spring is about one hundred and twenty-three feet higher than Crestline. The Sandusky River has its source here. One mile east of the Palmer Spring is the Preston Spring, near which one of the first grist -mills in the township was built. It was known as the Purdy Mill, and was built by the father of Mr. James Purdy, of Mansfield. This spring furnished the water for this mill many years. Further east is the Condon Spring, which, in connection with another at Spring Mills, has for more than sixty years furnished water for u mill at that place.
Originally the entire township was covered with a dense growth of timber, and the hardy pioneers who first came to it followed up the Indian traces. located their farms, and literally hewed their homes out of the woods. No prominent landmarks exist in the township
582 - HISTORY OF RICHLAND COUNTY.
It is generally level, or rolling, with a ridge of sufficient elevation, running northeast and southwest, a little north of the center of the township, to divide its waters; those south of the ridge finding their way through the Clear Fork, Mohican, Walhonding and Muskingum to the Ohio, and those north, through the Sandusky River to Sandusky Bay.
Agriculturally considered. the laud is generally excellent, the timber presenting the usual variety in Ohio-beach, hard (sugar) and soft maple, many varieties of ash and oak. and nearly all varieties of hard wood. Such timber speaks well for the quality of the land. The black walnut is already rapidly disappearing here, as well as all over the State, under the pressure of continual demand. The land produces the usual variety of cereals produced in the Northern States.
The people of the township are made up largely of New Englanders and Pennsylvanians perhaps the latter predominate. There are very few foreigners, and no colored person seems to have obtained a permanent residence here until after the war of the rebellion. The first settlers struck the northeast corner of the township, for the reason, most likely, that in those days Indian trails were the only highways, and settlements grew up along these first. One of these trails passed Mill Springs on its way from the headwaters of Rocky Fork to those of the Sandusky River. It was much used by the Wyandots, Delawares and Shawanees in their trading and scalping expeditions to the Ohio. This trace was followed by Col. William Crawford and his command in 1782 and, so fur as is certainly known, these were the first white men that set foot on the soil of Springfield Township. though there is little doubt that white hunters or prisoners among the Indians, or white renegades, like Simon Girty, had passed through before this period.
Among those who followed up this Indian trace, and became the first settlers of the township, was George Coffinberry, who, in 1814, settled on the southeast quarter of Section 1. He was a soldier of the Revolutionary war, and came from Virginia. He had five sons-George, Jacob, Wright L., Salathiel and Abram B., all of them men of more than ordinary ability. The next year, 1815, Richard Condon, from New Jersey, built his cabin on the northeast quarter of Section 2. He came to Mansfield in 1814 from Warren County, Ohio. He had six children-Richard. Elizabeth, John, Nancy, Margaret and Elisha. About this time, the Welches also settled on Section 1. Joseph Welch came from Lancaster County, Penn. He had a family of five children-John, James. Jane, A. C. and Joseph. He built the third cabin in the township on the northwest quarter of Section 1. He also, in 1818, built the first brick house in the township. Jesse Edgerton (Section 17) mid Uriah rich Matson came in this year. In 1816, came Alexander Welch, John and Nathan Casebar (Section 12), Thomas Williams. Edward Barren and Charles Stewart. The township was now organized and an election held the 15th of April, 1816, at which about twenty-five votes were polled. Richard Condon the first Justice of the Peace, was chosen at this election. For several years, township officers were not in demand; there was little for them to do. From this time forward settlers came in rapidly settling first in the neighborhood of the spring,. and along the caller of the Clear Fork. On the 10th of April 1830, Robert Finney came from Harrison County. Ohio, and built his Cabin on the southeast quarter of Section 11. He was originally from Fayette County, Penn., and his descendants are now numerous and influential. He had six children- John, James, William, Martha, Mary and Jane, of which only John and James are now living: the former on the old homestead and well known to all the country as "Uncle John Finny." He is now in his eightieth year, and. having been always active and strong mentally and physically, his mind
HISTORY OF RICHLAND COUNTY. - 583
is well stored with interesting reminiscences, man of strong convictions he has always been as was his father before him a strong advocate of the Christian religion and especially energetic in carrying out his ideas of Christian duty. He early espoused the cause of temperance and made speeches upon that subject at the public meetings then held in the log houses and barns of his neighbors and was one of that small band of heroes who early proclaimed their hatred of slavery and were branded "Abolitionists," a term by no means popular in those days: but having lived to see his ideas triumphant, considers himself well paid for his sufferings and persecutions. He considered it a religious duty to assist in the escape of fugitive slaves and was for many years. with his neighbor Joseph Roe, prominently connected with the "underground railway," his house being always open and his services freely given to this cause. During the twenty-five years he was engaged in this, hundreds perhaps thousands, of fugitive slaves were assisted on their way to Canada. They came from different points of the compass to his house. which seemed to be a crossing-place and rendezvous. Many came from the Gass settlement and McCluer's in Troy Township, others from the Quaker settlement in Morrow County and many from Iberia and were often carried in wagons from one point to another; at first generally at night, but later in daylight unless clanger of recapture was apprehended. When the noted Randolph of Virginia. freed his slaves, which he did from conscientious motives, he established them in Mercer County. Ohio, and this soon became a famous resort for the fugitives. and from this settlement large numbers were brought to Mr. Finney. It is asserted by Mr. Finney, that thousands of slaves escaped the bloodhounds by rubbing the juice of an onion on the soles of their shoes: that the hounds would never follow a slave after getting a scent of the onion and he relates an instance in which the negro himself watched the hounds upon his track and saw them turn back when they came to the spot where he had applied the onion juice.
Mr. Finney usually kept the fugitive; at his house over night and often for several days, then taking them in his wagon to Savannah, Ashland County, or to Oberlin. Ohio. He usually left his home early in the morning passing Mansfield (which did not look with favor upon his business) before daylight, arriving in Oberlin by sundown. Oberlin was then as it has ever remained a great friend to the colored man. Having reached this print they were generally safe, is public opinion was such that the odious fugitive-slave law could not be enforced. He relates the case of a Mr. Greene who stopped at his house several days. Greene's father, who lived in Tennessee, made a will releasing all his slaves. After his death. the two boys could not agree in carrying out the terms of the will one wishing to detain the blacks as slaves. The other, however determined they should lie free and although compelled to hide for his life. He remained in the neighborhood until he saw his father's former slaves all safely off to Canada and then came to Ohio with his wife and six children in destitute circumstances. In Ohio, Greene and his family were hunted and driven from place to place, living sometimes in deserted cabins and swamps and finally sought safety in Canada. assisted on their way by Mr. Finney. As an instance of the honest of the colored people. and the hardships they endured for freedom. Mr. Finney relates that two men with their wives once came to him in midwinter nearly frozen. They had taken their masters horses crossed the Ohio on the ice after which they returned the horses to their owner and came on afoot. They were kept several days. clothed, fed and taken on their way to a colder region. Mr. Robbins and Mr. Joseph Roe his neighbors. living five and seven miles away, were Mr. Finney s right hand men in this business. Mr. Roe is still living a
584 - HISTORY OF RICHLAND COUNTY .
short distance west of Ontario, an aged and respected citizen. The penalty for assisting in the escape of fugitive slaves was very severe and these men were therefore, continually on the "ragged edge," and several times cause very near having serious trouble. At one time. Benjamin Gass brought to Mr. Finney five colored men with five or six women and children. He lodged the females in the upper part of his dwelling-house and the mull in his granary in the barn. Six men armed with revolvers. who had been ill pursuit came up with them here. Learning they were secreted about the premises, they made a demand of Mr. Finney for their restitution. He was clearly caught but determined not to give up the fugitives without a struggle. He demanded their warrant. They could not produce this but sent three of their number to Mansfield to procure the warrant, while the other three remained to watch. Mr. Finney had dispatched word to some of his particular friends in Mansfield, and his object now was to gain time: meanwhile he armed the darkies in the barn with pitchforks. Representing to the three men that the fugitives were locked in his granary (which was true) and would not probably escape, he invited them into his house, gave them breakfast, and consumed as much time as possible in various ways. While this was passing. the fugitives found an opening in the barn and escaped to the woods. When the warrant arrived no darkies were to be found the presence of those upstairs in his house not suspected by the pursuers. It is hardly possible however, that these slaves could have been recaptured without a fight, as Mr. Finney's friends began to arrive from Mansfield, all armed and expecting trouble. Among those who first came to his, assistance were Dr. Miller, Thomas Thaker and Mathias Day. The pursuers, finding the fugitives had escaped, began a search of the neighborhood, and as soon as he could with safety. Mr. Finney transferred the females to the house of his friend Joseph Roe. Mr. Roe, being notorious in this cause and well knowing his house would soon be searched. contrived to get them away to his neighbor. James Wood, which he had no sooner done, than the pursuers appeared to search his premises. Mr. Roe pleaded ignorance and, fearing they would go on to Mr. Wood's house contrived to throw them off the scent by offering to assist in the recapture of the fugitives and leading them off in the opposite direction back to Mr. Finney's and then to Mansfield: meanwhile. Mrs. Roe sent word to Mr. Wood and the fugitives were conveyed to the Smith settlement in what is now Washington Township and from there to other points and escaped. The men were gathered up here and there in the woods, and all got safely away.
Mr. Joseph Roe, before mentioned, gives all excellent historical and political review of matters in Springfield, from which the following notes are taken
When he cattle to the township in 1835, it w as largely Democratic and controlled by prejudice and superstition. It was supposed that a negro had no soul, and no rights a white man was bound to respect. An Abolitionist was considered much beneath a horse-thief and counterfeiter. The Democratic idea was that Abolitionists carried negroes to Canada and received a compensation from the Canadian Government, and that, should a war arise between the two countries, these negroes would improve the occasion to murder the people of Ohio and other States and further if slavery should be abolished, our country would be completely ruined and society much demoralized if not destroyed. Hence the intense feeling against the Abolitionists. The matter was carried into the pulpit and many churches divided. Mr. Roe resolved not to support any minister who sanctioned slavery. He was thoroughly Anti-slavery, and entered heartily into the underground railway business. In the spring
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HISTORY OF RICHLAND COUNTY. - 587
1841, three colored persons came to his house on their way to freedom a woman and her two daughters. His brother-in-law, William Woods, and himself took them to Mansfield, and left them with Mr. Emminger a few hours, while they attempted to get other friends of the cause to help them along. In this they were not successful, and not willing to leave them where their enemies might discover them, they resorted to the device of buying a load of flour of a Mr. Basore, who lived near Lucas, stipulating that the flour was to be delivered in Oberlin. They paid Mr. Basore $3 to carry their " chattels " to Oberlin on his load. He would not take them from the Wiler House, being Democratic in his views, but received them at the covered bridge outside of town, and delivered both flour and negroes at Oberlin in due time. The flour was sold at a net profit of $5, and after paying Mr. Basore, the Abolitionists pocketed $2 clear profit.
As the Anti-slavery movement continued, men began to read, think and hear lectures on the subject. In 1842, Leicester King was candidate for Governor of Ohio. He received four votes in Springfield Township. These were cast by Andrew Wood, Sr., Mathew Mitchell, Henry Crabbs and Joseph Roe.
In 1844, James G. Burney received several votes in the township for President. In the spring of 1845, a minister came into the neighborhood and preached in a schoolhouse, taking for his text the remark made by Joseph when in prison to the butler and baker, requesting them to remember him when they should be restored: "For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into a dungeon." As was the custom of those days, church members were anxious to put down heresies, and this sermon being considered of that character, certain persons were inclined to mob the preacher and his audience. They made a great noise about the church, and used their knives freely on the saddles and bridles of the worshipers. A young man by the name of Basset a tinner in Ontario-went to Mansfield and procured a warrant of Squire Wise, for the arrest of one of the deacons of the Presbyterian Church of Pleasant Hill; also a member and his son, belonging to the same church. Before the case was called, Mr. Roe visited, and stated the facts to Squire Wise, and soon after, the deacon also called on the Squire and asked if he was an Abolitionist.
"No," says the Squire.
"Well, then," said the deacon, "all I am sorry for is, that we did not egg them well."
The trial lasted two days ; I. J. Allen being counsel for the State, and Hon. Columbus Delano, of Mount Vernon, for the defense, It was hotly contested. Delano said he hoped God would permit such preachers to preach on until all the North became convinced of the great evil, and put it out of existence-that it was a low, mean act of his clients, but not a violation of the statute, and they could not be fined.
A minister was present at the trial, and such was the feeling, that whenever any slur was cast on the Abolitionists, he cheered with the majority. After two days' hard fighting, the three were fined. Mr. Allen charged nothing for his services in this case, but a purse was raised for him. Mr. Delano's course elevated him very much in the estimation of Mr. Roe and others holding the same views.
Many slaves availed themselves of the very low fare on the underground railway. They were furnished transportation free. and clothing also, if needed. Uncle John Finney is a large man ; and when he was thoroughly aroused and left the Whig party, it lost a host in himself. His account of the enemy's attempt to storm his battery in July; 1848, and of the assistance he received from friends of the cause is truly graphic.
In January, 1858, a colored man came from New Orleans. The weather was extremely cold;
588 - HISTORY OF RICHLAND COUNTY.
especially for one coming from a warm climate. Mr. Roe urged him to remain until warmer weather. He did so, and told his story. He was raised in Kentucky ; had been sold eleven times several times because he could read. It was thought, for this reason, he would not make a safe and reliable servant. Mr. Roe became interested in him. and determined to have him make a public statement of his connection with slavery. The meeting was held at the United Presbyterian Church in Ontario, and before a good audience, the darken was introduced and told his story. It made a good impression, a purse was raised for him, and he went on toward the north star rejoicing. Thus rapidly were the people being educated to the great work that began in earnest in 1861.
In 1860, three colored boys came to Iberia for the purpose of getting an education. They had been there a year or two, and had progressed very well, but the bloodhounds were upon their track. As the train neared Iberia one evening, the bell-rope was pulled, the train slackened, and a party of slave-hunters with a Deputy Marshal at their head, sprang off. The boys were at different places, and one or two of them were captured. This caused intense excitement, as a great many more people than formerly were opposed to the execution of the fugitive-slave law. They collected rapidly, caught the Marshal and his slave-hunters and after a consultation allowed the darkies to "cut their hair and use beech sprouts on them," to such an extent as was deemed necessary. The citizens engaged in this affair expected trouble and sent two of their number after Mr. Roe to go to Cleveland for an eminent lawyer to engage in their defense. He secured the services of Mr. Parsons a man who had the year before been elected to Congress. When told that he would be expected to manage the case for a small compensation. he promised to do all in his power, and. if necessary would employ an attorney in Northern Ohio to assist him. He not only agreed to do the work gratuitously, but said if they were fined, he would help pay it. Rev. George Gordon, President of the college at Iberia, was the man the slave-power determined to humble. He was indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of $300, and to suffer imprisonment for six months. His name will go down as one of the martyrs in the cause of human freedom. Mr. Roe mentions as a coincidence, that while Mr. Gordon was in jail, a man of the same name was hung in Boston. Mass. for being engaged in the slave trade. As to Mr. Roes politics, he says he threw up his hat, when a boy of fourteen at the election of Andrew Jackson as President. In 1836, when Van Buren and Harrison ran, he was entitled to vote, but, owing to the former casting a vote to prevent the circulation of anti-slavery documents. he could not support him and believing Harrison to be incompetent he did not vote at all. In 1840, being better posted, as he thought, he concluded to support Tyler, but afterward discovered that he was a slave holder. Slavery, in his mind, became of more importance than all other matters of legislation; 200,000 slave-holders in the South ruled the nation, and he, for one, would not participate in such wickedness. In 1852, he voted for John P. Hale, the candidate of the "Liberty party;" in 1856, for John C. Fremont ; in 1860 and 1864, for A. Lincoln; in 1868 and 1872 for U S. Grant: after which he became dissatisfied with the Republican party, for the reasons, among others, that Jeff Davis and the other arch traitors were not hung, that treason might be "made odious," and as a warning to other evildoers; and because the right of suffrage was extended to rebel colonels and other higher officers, by which they have gained control of Congress, and, are making laws for the nation they tried to destroy. He, therefore. withdrew from the party, and joined the new Reform party headed by James P. Walker for President to 1876. It is opposed to all secret societies.
HISTORY OF RICHLAND COUNTY. - 389
Mr. Roe is a farmer and stock-raiser; has been a member of the United Presbyterian Church ever since its organization in 1858, and before that was a member of the Associate Presbyterian. It will be seen from the foregoing, that he is a man of strong convictions of duty, and is presented as a type of the men who formed the substratum of the population of Springfield Township.
The first Sabbath school was started in 1820, by Robert Finney. It was held for several years in the private dwelling of John Chambers. Some of its tint members were John and Susan Chambers. John and James Finney, Mathew Curran and James Larimer. Of these, John and James Finney and Susan Chambers are still living. They were Presbyterians and Associates. Their first meetings and public gatherings of all kinds were held at private houses, but, in 1822, a log church was built, one mile north of Ontario, at what is called the Five Corners, by the Presbyterians. Jesse Edgerton was the active spirit in founding this church. He came from Harrison County, Ohio, and had five sons-John, Jessie, Levi, Thomas and Isaac. The first man who preached in this church was Rev. Mr. Lee, father of an honored citizen of Mansfield, John A. Lee. About the same time, the Methodists built a log church, three-fourths of a mile south of Millsborough, which was called Taylor's Meeting House.
In 1837, the Bigelow Chapel was built, two and a quarter miles north of Ontario, on the farm of Mr. David Jaques. This gentleman is now living, at the age of seventy-eight. He furnished the land and money for the Bigelow Chapel. It was a frame building. and was established mainly through the influence of Bigelow, who was a missionary among the Wyandot Indians. It was Methodist. Across the road from the Bigelow Chapel was built, in 1844, a Baptist church. It was established, principally through the influence of John Palmer and Elyflet Flint. These early churches were used for many years. but they have long since rotted clown, or been removed, their congregations (lead and scattered, and many of the members now worship at the church in Ontario. Some of the early preachers in these churches were, Revs. Ruark, John Quigley, and Adam Poe, a nephew of the famous Adam Poe of history; not to mention Johnny Appleseed, who visited the township frequently, scattering his seeds and peculiar religious opinions at the same time. Outside of the village of Ontario, but two churches remain, within the limits of the township, having at present an organized existence. Of these the first was organized in 1848. The church was erected the year before, on the southwest quarter of Section 1. It is used by the Lutheran and German Reformed people.
The Lutherans were first organized by Rev. J. W. Huffman, D. D., the German Reformed by Rev. J. W. Thompson. The principal original members were John Wise, Joseph Welch, Samuel Starchman, Louis Hill and Joseph Kennel of the Lutheran; and John Leppo and family, James Leppo and George Shafer and family, of the German Reformed. Before the erection of the church, meetings were held at the private residences of Christopher Flory and John Leppo, Sr. The cost of building the church was small, as the members furnished most of the material and did a large portion of the work. The membership is light at present, not exceeding twelve or fifteen. The Pastors who have occupied the pulpit at different times were Revs. S. Fenner. - Brown, Isaac Culler, - Sincebaugh; - Hersheiser. Francis Ruth, - Westervelt and J. H. Williard. The Sunday school is in a flourishing condition at present. It was organized when the church was erected. and called the "Spring Mills Union Sunday School." A. Barr was the first Superintendent; Joseph Cairns is now Superintendent, with a membership of sixty-five.
The second church mentioned is called the Springfield Methodist Church, erected in
590 - HISTORY OF RICHLAND COUNTY.
1858, at a cost of about $500, on the southeast quarter of Section 26. The organization dates back to 1851-52, and was established through the influence of Rev. A. R. Brown, in a school-house, a few rods south of the present location of the church. The principal original members were John Scott and wife, Thomas Scott, Sr., William Plancy and family, Robert Patterson and wife, and J. Bartholomew and wife. Following the Rev. A. R. Brown were N. T. Brown, George Hiskey, William Simpson and others. A union Sunday school is now in working condition, with a membership of about sixty.
The first school in the township was taught by John C. Gilkison, on the southeast quarter of Section 1. His pupils were Jamb Coffinberry, George Coffinberry, A. B. Coffinberry, John Bartley, Susan Bartley, Nancy Condon, Joseph Curren, Elizabeth Curren, John, James and Jane C. Welch. For several years, there were no schoolhouses; schools being kept in private horses and barns. It is believed, the first school-house was on the Rallston farm, two miles north of Ontario. It was a primitive affair, made of logs. with a puncheon floor, a fireplace of ample proportions, and logs hewn flat on one side for seats. Hundreds of such buildings dotted the country- in those days.
The first saw-mill was built in 1817, by London & Welch, on the northwest quarter of Section 1, and the first grist-mill by Ex-Governor Mordecai Bartley, on the same section, where Spring Mill now is. This mill has been burned down, and destroyed or removed, and rebuilt several times. About the same time. the Purdy, mill, before mentioned, was built, and also one on the head-waters of Clear Fork. Near this last was also built a saw-mill and several stills for the manufacture of spirits. These mills gave to the place the name of Millsborough. It is picturesquely situated among the hills. and started with fair promise for a future town. It has the honor attached to age, being the first town in the township. It was laid out on part of the northeast. and northwest quarters of Section 28, by John S. Marshall, Deputy County Surveyor, October 29, 1831. The mills were built in 1818, by John Garretson, who came from New York. Before the establishment of these mills, settlers went as far as Mount Ver non, in Knox County, to do their milling. Uncle Jesse Edgerton, as he was called, occasionally hitched four horses to his large Pennsylvania wagon-"schooner "-and taking his own and his neighbors' grists, hauled them to Mount Vernon. In addition to his mills, Garretson also built a house in which he kept hotel for some time. This stand was afterward kept by John Martin. The place at one time about ,1830-35-boasted of two dry-goods stores, kept by John Evans and John Williams. The early settlers in this part of the township were James Woods, John Garretson. Samuel and David Mitchell, Joseph and Lewis Day, John Milligan and Samuel Estel. Estel was a veteran of the war of 1812, and established a tanyard in 1818 on Section 23. John Stewart did most of the surveying in this township. The railroads assisted in the death of Millsborough. It has been dead many years; even the sound of the mills has ceased.
The next attempt to build a town in the township was in the woods., on the trail leading from Mansfield to Bucyrus, about eight miles from the former. It was called Newcastle: however, Ontario and Newcastle were both laid out in the same month, December 1834; and on the same section. 21. Newcastle was laid out by Frederick Cassell and Adam Welder the name of the former suggesting the name of the place. It was surveyed by John Stewart. Adam Webber kept tavern there for some time. but the place never grew up to their expectations. No business is done and the place has fallen into decay. Its present population is about forty. Even the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad, which ran its first passenger cars through it in 1864; failed to
HISTORY OF RICHLAND COUNTY. - 591
bring it renewed life. A church was built there in 1838, by the Lutherans. Its founders and first members were Frederick Cassell, John Stough, John Sheffler, Adam Webber and Will iam T. Daniels. This church, partaking of the general character of the place, has fallen into decay. It has not been occupied for many years. The whole village seems to have gone to sleep, its people living quietly, dreaming away their lives, apparently unconscious of the .great moving world around them.
Hiram Cook came to this township in 1820, from a place called Ontario, in Orange County, N. Y. He bought a farm a few miles south of the present village of Ontario, where he lived several years, and having purchased the land on which Ontario now stands, laid out that place in a dense woods. It was on the trail leading from Mansfield to Bucyrus, by way of Galion. This trail was then only wide enough for the passage of horses and footmen. It is on the southwest quarter of Section 21. He had it surveyed by John Stewart, and induced George Hoover to build the first cabin beside the trail. Hoover started a blacksmith-shop, and also kept a few groceries for sale in his cabin. When the timber was cleared away a little, Cook built two frame houses-one south of the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad, to be used as a dwelling, the other on the north side of the railroad, on the trail, for a hotel. He kept this hotel some years himself, until it burned down, when it was rebuilt and occupied by other parties at different times, for the same purpose. As the town grew, the church organizations in the country began to abandon their decayed churches and build others in town. The first erected was the Methodist Episcopal, in 1839. This organization originated at the Bigelow Chapel, and afterward worshiped at the Taylor meeting-house, both before mentioned in this chapter. The present minister is James H. Johnson, and the membership about eighty. The Sunday school is in a flourishing condition, with a membership of about one hundred. Christopher Au is Superintendent.
In 1850, the United Presbyterians erected a frame church, which has cost, with repairs, about $3,000. This organization was originally the Associate, of which the Finneys, and other old residents in the township, were the founders. They were too few in numbers to build a church, and for thirty years worshiped in private houses, barns, and wherever they could find shelter. The original members of the first organization at Ontario were Samuel G. Craig, wife and daughter, John Finney, Dr. Samuel G. Miller and wife, James C. Robinson and wife, and Mrs. Joseph Roe.
The first minister was J. L. McLain, who occupied the pulpit three or four years, after which came Revs. D. W. Collins, J. M. Hutchison and William Wishart. The present membership is 118.
The Sunday school was organized in 1858 with David Barrett as Superintendent. It has been maintained in a healthy condition, and now has a membership of about one hundred and thirty. Erskine Chambers is Superintendent.
In the following year, 1851, the Presbyterians erected a church at Ontario. This organization originated at the Five Corners, before mentioned, and afterward removed to Pleasant Hill, removing thence to Ontario. It was organized there about 1853; some of the early members being Hugh McConnell, William Kerr, John S. Marshall, David Hackedorn, William Wiley and J. W. Horner. The first minister here was Rev. Luke Dorland, who served about two years. Following him were Revs. Marquis, - Atkinson and J. M. Blaney. At present, they have no Sunday school and no regular Pastor. The church has been somewhat neglected of late, the members having died and moved away. The present membership is only about twenty-five.
Ontario has grown to be a place of about two hundred inhabitants. John Evans and A.
592 - HISTORY OF RICHLAND COUNTY.
Atwood kept the first store, in 1838. The two stores there at present carry a general stock, and are kept by Christopher Au and Eli Ringer. In 1859, a large brick building was erected for high-school purposes, and was kept up until 1874, receiving students from a distance. It is now occupied by the Masonic Fraternity. A new brick schoolhouse on the east side of the town is now used to educate the future sovereigns: There is an undertaking establishment kept by Cline & Wolf, and a blacksmith and wagon shop. The township does not lack railroad facilities, all those (four) centering in Mansfield passing through it. Like all other parts of Ohio, it has increased greatly in wealth and population. In 1850, the population was 2,100. From some cause it decreased, and, in 1860, was only 1,756, but between 1860 and 1870, it recovered again, showing at the latter date a population of 2,046, of which eighty-four were foreign and twenty-six colored. The census of 1880 will very soon determine whether any progress has been made in this direction during the last decade.
Good substantial houses; brick and frame, and well cleared farms have taken the place of the cabins and the woods; and the early settlers, like their cabins, are rapidly sinking into mother earth, and will soon have passed away, as their former acquaintances, the wolf, bear, deer and Indian, have long since done.
[end of excerpt]
• Richland County, Ohio History: Chapter LVIII
• Richland County, Ohio History: INDEX
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