Athens County
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Athens County

 

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ATHENS COUNTY was formed from Washington March 1, 1805.The surface is broken and hilly, with intervals of rich bottom lands. The hills have a fertile soil and a heavy growth of trees. The Hocking canal commences at Carroll on the Ohio canal in Fairfield county, and follows the river valley to Athens, a distance of fifty-six miles. In the county are extensive deposits of iron ore suitable for smelting; excellent salt to the extent of 50,000 barrels were annually produced between the years 1848 and 1868. Its greatest mineral wealth is in its coal; in 1886 there were in operation forty-one mines, employing 1,804 miners and producing 899,046 tons of coal, being next to Perry the largest coal-producing county in the State. Its area is 430 square miles. In 1885 the acres cultivated were 46,685; in pasture, 128,269; woodland, 57,906; lying waste, 4,256; produced in wheat, 24,695 bushels; corn, 638,984; tobacco, 56,108 pounds; peaches, 2,077 bushels; wool, 580,983 pounds; sheep, 108,454. School census 1886, 10,108; teachers, 215. It has 102 miles of railroad.

 

 

Township

And Census

1840

1880

 

Township

And census

1840

1880

Alexander,

1,450

1,423

 

Lee,

   848

1,086

Ames,

1,431

1,392

 

Lodi,

   754

1,550

Athens,

1,593

4,517

 

Rome,

   866

2,207

Bern,

   381

1,073

 

Trimble,

   762

1,367

Canaan,

   800

1,499

 

Troy,

1,056

1,858

Carthage,

   737

1,308

 

Waterloo,

   741

1,957

Dover,

1,297

1,736

 

York,

1,601

5,438

 


 

Population in 1820 was 6,342; in 1840, 19,108; 1860, 21,356; 1880, 28,411, of whom 23,787 were Ohio born.

 

In Evans' map of the middle British colonies, published in 1755, there is placed on the left bank of the Hocking, somewhere in this region, a town, station or fort, named “French Margaret.” In the county above (Hocking) have been found the remains of an old press, for packing furs and peltries, which attest that French cupidity and enterprise had introduced an extensive trade among the Indians.

 

Lord DUNMORE, in his famous expedition against the Indian towns upon the Scioto, in the autumn of 1774 just prior to the commencement of the revolu-

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tionary war, descended the Ohio, and landed at the mouth of the Great Hockhocking, in this county. He was there during the bloody battle at Point Pleasant—on an air line twenty-eight miles distant—between General LEWIS and the Indians. At this place he established a depot and erected some defences, called Fort Gower, in honor of Earl GOWER. From that point he marched up the valley of the river, encamping, tradition says, a night successively at Federal creel, Sunday creek, and at the falls of the Hocking. From the last he proceeded to the Scioto, where the detachment under General LEWIS joined him, and the war was brought to a close by a treaty or truce with the hostile tribes. DUMORE, on his return, stopped at Fort Gower, where the officers passed a series of resolutions, for which, see Pickaway county, with other details of this expedition.

Colonel Robert PATERSON, one of the original proprietors of Cincinnati, with a party of Kentuckians, was attacked, near the mouth of the Hocking, by the Indians, two years after the erection of Fort Gower. The circumstances are given under the head of Montgomery county.

 

The early settlement of this county began just after Wayne's treaty; its inception had its origin in one of the most noble motives that can influence humanity, viz.: the desire for the promotion of learning. We extract from” Walker's History of Athens County.”

 

During the year 1796 nearly 1,000 flat boats or “broad horns,” as they were then called, passed Marietta laden with emigrants on their way to the more attractive regions of Southwestern Ohio. In the early part of 1797 a considerable number of newly arrived emigrants were assembled in Marietta, eager to obtain lands on the best terms they could and form settlements. The two townships of land appropriated by the Ohio Company for the benefit of a university had been selected in December, 1795. They were townships Nos. 8 and 9 in the fourteenth range, constituting at present Athens and Alexander townships. The township lines were run in 1795, and the sectional surveys made in 1796, under the supervision of General PUTNAM, the company's surveyor, who from the first took an ardent interest in the selection of these lands and the founding of the university. His policy (in which he was seconded by the other agents) was to encourage the early settlement of the college lauds, make them attractive and productive, and so begin the formation of a fund for the institution.

 

Encouraged by Gen. PUTNAM, who wished to introduce permanent settlers as soon as possible, a number of the emigrants who had stopped at Marietta decided to locate on the college lands. Among these were Alvan BINGHAM Silas BINGHAM, Isaac BARKER, William HARPER, John WILKINS, Robert LINZEE, Edmund, WILLIAM and Barak DORR, John CHANDLER and Jonathan WATKINS. They made their way down the Ohio and up the Hockhocking in large canoes early in the year 1797. Having ascended as far as the attractive bluff where the town of Athens now stands, they landed and sought their various locations. A few of them fixed on the site of the present town, but most of them scattered up and down the adjacent bottoms.

 

The pioneers soon opened up several clearings about Athens, and a little corn for corn-bread was put in the first spring. The clearings, however, were irregular and scattered, and no effort was made as yet to lay out a town. Early in 1795 a number of emigrants arrived; among them were Solomon TUTTLE, Christopher STEVENS, John and Moses HEWIT, Cornelius MOORE, Joseph SNOWDEN, John SIMONTON, Robert ROSS, the BROOKS, and the HANINGS. Some of these had families. Some settled in Athens and some in Alexander township. Mrs. Margaret SNOWDEN, wife of Joseph SNOWDEN, was honored by having “Margaret's creek” named after her, she being the first white woman who reached this central point in the county.

 

The annexed vivid sketch of the captivity and escape of Moses HEWIT (one of the early settlers above named) from the Indians, is from the history of the Bellville settlement, written by Dr. S. P. HILDRETH, and published in the Hesperian, edited by William D. GALLAGHER.

 

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CAPTIVITY AND ESCAPE OF MOSES HEWIT.—Moses HEWIT was born in Worcester, Mass., in the year 1767 and came to the Ohio in 1790; at the breaking out of the Indian war he resided on the island now known as “Blennerhasset,” in a block-house, where he married. After his marriage, as the Indians became dangerous, he joined the company of settlers at “Neil's station.” At this period, all the settlements on both banks of the Ohio were broken up, and the inhabitants retired to their garrisons for mutual defence.

 

Hewit's Physical Prowess.—Mr. HEWIT was, at this time, y m the prime of life and manhood; possessed of a vigorous frame, nearly six feet high, with limbs of the finest mould, not surpassed by the Belvidere Apollo, for manly beauty. The hands and feet were small in proportion to the muscles of the arms and legs. Of their strength some estimate may be formed, when it is stated that he could, with a single hand, lift with case a large blacksmith's anvil by grasping the tapering horn which projects from its side. To this great muscular strength was added a quickness of motion which gave to the dash of his fist the rapidity of thought as it was driven into the face or breast of his adversary. The eye was coal black, small and sunken, but when excited or enraged, flashed fire like that of the tiger. The face and head were well developed, with such powerful masseter and temporal muscles that, the fingers of the strongest man, when once confined between his teeth, could no more be withdrawn than from the jaws of a vice. With such physical powers, united to an unrefined and rather irritable mind, who shall wonder at his propensity for, and delight in, personal combat: especially when placed in the midst of rude and unlettered companions, where courage and bodily strength were hold in unlimited estimation. Accordingly we find him engaged in numberless personal contests, in which lie almost universally en came off victorious.

 

Taken Captive—Some time in the month of May, 1792, while living at Neil's station, on the little Kenawha, Mr. HEWIT ruse early in the morning and went out about a mile from the garrison in search of u stray horse. He was sauntering along at his ease, in an obscure cattle path, when all at once three Indians sprang fruit behind two large trees. So sudden was the onset that resistance was vain. He therefore quietly surrendered, thinking that in a few days be should find some way of escape. For himself, he felt but little uneasiness; his great concern was for his wife and child, from whom, with the yearnings of a father's heart, he was thus forcibly separated, and whom he might never see again.

 

In their progress to the towns on the Sandusky plains, the Indians treated him with as little harshness as could be expected. He was always confined at night by fastening his wrists and ankles to saplings, as he lay extended upon his back upon the ground, with an Indian on each side. By day his limbs were free, but always marching with one Indian before, and two behind him. As they approached be prairies frequent halts were made to search for honey, the wild bee being found in every hollow tree, and often in the ground beneath decayed roots, in astonishing numbers. This afforded them many luscious repasts, of which the prisoner was allowed to partake. The naturalization of the honey bee to the forests of North America, since its colonization by the whites, is, in fact, the only real addition to its comforts that the red man has ever received from the destroyer of his race; and this industrious insect, so fond of the society of man, seems also destined to destruction by the bee-moth, and like the buffalo and the deer, will soon vanish from the woods and prairies of the West.

 

Escape and Pursuit.—While the Indians were occupied in these searches, HEWIT closely watched an opportunity for escape, but his captors were equally vigilant. As they receded from the danger of pursuit, they became less hurried in their march, and often stopped to hunt and amuse themselves. The level prairie afforded fine ground for one of their favorite sports, the foot-race. In this HEWIT was invited to join and soon found that he could easily outrun two of them, but the other was more than his match, which discouraged him from trying to escape, until a more favorable opportunity. They treated him familiarly, and were much pleased with his lively, cheerful manners. After they had reached within one or two days march of their Village they made a halt to hunt and left their prisoner at their camp, although they had usually taken him with them, as he complained of being sick. To make all safe, they placed him on his back, confining his wrists with stout thongs of raw-hides to confining saplings, and his legs raised at a considerable elevation, to a small tree. After they had been gone a short time, he began to put in operation the plan he had been meditating for escape, trusting that the thickness of his wrists, in comparison with the smallness of his hands, would enable him to withdraw them. from tire ligatures. After long and violent exertions, he succeeded in liberating his hands, but not without severely lacerating the skin and covering them with blood. His legs were next freed by untying them, but not without a great effort, from their elevation.

 

Once fairly at liberty, the first object was to secure some food for the long journey which was before him. But as the Indians' larder is seldom well stocked, with all his search he could only find two small pieces of jerked venison, not more than sufficient for a single meal. With this light, stock of provision, his body nearly naked, and without even a knife or a tomahawk, to assist in procuring more, be started for the settlements on the Muskingum, as the nearest point where he could meet with friends. It seems that the Indians returned to the camp soon after his escape, for that night while cautiously traversing a wood he heard the cracking of a breaking twig not far from him. Dropping silently on to the ground where he stood, he beheld his

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three enemies in pursuit. To say that he was not agitated would not be true; his senses were wide awake and his heart beat quick, but it was a heart that never knew fear. It so happened that they passed a few yards to one side of him, and he remained unseen. As soon as they were at a sufficient distance he altered his course and saw no more of them.

 

Suffering everything but death from the exhausting effects of hunger and fatigue, he after nine days struck the waters of the Big Muskingum, and came in to the garrison at Wolf creek mills. During this time he had no food but roots and the bark of the slippery-elm, after the two bits of venison were expended. When he came in sight of the station, he was so completely exhausted that he could not stand or halloo. His body was entirely naked, excepting a small strip of cloth round the loins, and so torn, bloody and disfigured by the briers and brush that he thought it imprudent to show himself; lest he should be taken for an Indian and shot by the sentries. It is a curious physiological fact, that famine and hunger will actually darken the skin in the manner mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah, when foretelling the fate of  the Israelites; and may be accounted for by the absorption of the bile into the blood, when not used up in the process of digesting, the food. In this forlorn state HEWIT remained until evening, when he crawled silently to the gateway, which was open, and crept in before any one was aware of his being near. As they all had heard of his capture, and some personally knew him, he was instantly recognized by a young man, as the light of the fire fell on his face, who exclaimed, “Here is HEWIT.”  They soon clothed and fed him, and his fine constitution directly restored his health

 

Pioneer Hardships.—After the war was closed, by the masterly campaign of General Wayne, the sturdy settlers on the shores of the Ohio sallied out from their garrisons, where they had been more or less closely confined for five years, and took possession of the various farms, which had fallen to their lots either as “donation lands,” or as proprietors in the Ohio Company, some of which had been partially cleared and cultivated before the commencement of hostilities. During this period they had suffered from famine, sickness and death, in addition to the depredations of the Indians. The small-pox and putrid sore throat had visited them in their garrisons, destroying, in some instances, whole families of children in a few days. The murderous savage without, with sickness and famine within, had made their castles wearisome dwelling places, although they protected them from the tomahawk, and saved the settlements from being entirely broken up.

 

Becomes a Useful Citizen.—In  the year 1797; Mr. HEWIT cast his lot in the valley of the Hockhocking river, near the town of Athens, and settled quietly down to clearing his farm. He was by nature endowed with a clear, discriminating and vigorous mind; and, although his education was very limited, extending only to reading and writing, yet his judgment was acute, and his reasoning powers highly matured by intercourse with his fellow-men. For some years before his death he was a member of the Methodist church, which has the praise of reclaiming more depraved men than perhaps any other sect, and became a valuable citizen and useful man in society. A short time previous to his decease, which took place in the year 1814, he was appointed a trustee of the Ohio University, at Athens. At that early time the duties of a trustee mainly consisted in leasing out and managing the fiscal affairs of the college domain, embracing two townships of land. For this business he was well fitted, and his judgment and good sense were of real value to the institution, however little he might be qualified to act in literary matters.

 

A Little PhilosophyThe life of Mr. HEWIT affords an interesting subject of contemplation. Hundreds of others, who were among the western borderers in early days, afford similar examples of reckless daring and outrageous acts, while surrounded with war, tumult and danger, who, when peace was restored and they returned to the quiet scenes of domestic and civil life, became some of the most useful, influential and distinguished men shows how much man is the creature of habit; and that he is often governed more by the character, and the outward example of men around him, and the times in which he lives, than by any innate principle of good or evil, which may happen to predominate within him.

 

About four miles north of Athens, are mounds and ancient fortifications with gateways. One of the mounds, which was composed of a kind of stone differing

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from any in the vicinity, was taken for the construction of a dam across the Hocking; there were in it over a thousand perches, and some of the stones weighed two hundred pounds. In the mound were found copper rings and other relics. There are many mounds in some other parts of the county.

 

ATHENS IN 1846.—Athens, the county-seat, is situated on a commanding site on the Hockhocking river, seventy-two miles southeast of Columbus. It contains 1 Presbyterian, 1 Cumberland Presbyterian, and a Methodist church, a classical academy, eleven mercantile stores, and by the census of 1840 had 710 inhabitants. It was made the county-seat in March, 1805.The Ohio University, the first established in a11 the territory northwest of the Ohio, is situated here, but has temporarily suspended its operations, for the purpose of recovering from pecuniary embarrassment. It was first chartered by the territorial government, and afterwards, in 1804, by the State legislature. It was early endowed by Congress with the two townships of Athens and Alexander, containing 46,000 acres of land, which, with the connecting resources, yield an annual income of about $5,000. The buildings are substantial and neat, and stand in a pleasant green. This institution has exerted a most beneficial influence upon the morals and intelligence of this region.

 

Drawn by Henry Howe, 1846

OHIO UNIVERSITY, AT ATHENS.

 

Among its graduates are many who do it honor, and it will, doubtless, when again in successful operation—as it soon will be—continue  its good work.-Old Edition.

 

In 1886 the university had pupils twenty-six gentlemen and eleven ladies, Chas. W. SUPER, president. Up to that date it had 494 graduates and partially educated about 10,000 persons. The first degrees were conferred in 1815.Thomas EWING and John HUNTER received in that year the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Mr. EWING was probably the first collegiate alumnus for the whole of Western America. Wm. Holmes McGUFFEY, D. D., born in Pennsylvania in 1800, was president of this institution from 1839 to 1843; from 1845 to 1873, the date of his death, was a professor in the University of Virginia. He was the author of the widely popular series of McGuffey's Readers and Spelling Books.

 

Athens, the county-seat, is about twenty-five miles from the Ohio river on the Hocking river, seventy-six miles southeast of Columbus, by the C. H. V. & T. R. R., also on the C. W. & B. and O. & C. Railroads; is located amidst beautiful scenery; its citizens ranking high in intelligence and the learned professions. County officers in 1888: Probate Judge, William S. WILSON; Clerk of Court, Silas E. HEDGES; Sheriff, Frederick STALDER; Prosecuting Attorney, David L. SLEEPER;

 

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Auditor, Augastus J. FRAME; Treasurer, Hiram L. BAKER; Recorder, Lafayette HAWK; Surveyor, Wm. E. PETERS; Coroner, Waldo BAIRD; Commissioners, Chas. I. HAM, Joseph S. HIGGINS, James A. CAMPBELL.

 

Newspapers: Herald, W. G. JUNOD, editor; Journal, Democrat, C. I. BARKER, editor; Messenger, Republican, C. E. M. JENNINGS, editor. Churches: 1 Methodist, 1 Presbyterian, 1 Catholic, 1 Disciple, 1 Colored Baptist and 1 Colored Methodist. Banks: First National, A. NORTON, president; D. H. MOORE, cashier; Bank of Athens, J. D. BROWN, cashier.

 

Population in 1880, 2,457. School census 1886, 725; Lewis D. BONEBRAKE  superintendent.

 

TRAVELLING NOTES.

Athens, May 5.-The valley of the Hockhocking here is about half a mile wide. The town is on the north side of the stream on a somewhat hilly site and about sixty feet above it. The college grounds occupy about ten acres. They are level in front, slightly sloping in the rear and afford an expansive view up the valley, on the opposite side of the slope of which, at a distance of half a mile, stands the asylum for the insane, under the charge of A. B. RICHARDSON, M. D., and said to be managed with superior skill.

J. C. Brannon, Photo, Athens, 1886

THE BEAUTIFUL BEECH.

The Beautiful Beech.—My astonishment was great on going to the spot where I made my drawing of the university buildings in 1846 to find them to-day still standing as they were then, but hidden from view by a dense forest that had grown where not a tree had stood before; another building had been added and this was all the structural change. What especially gratified me was the discovery of a beautiful beech, standing on the green award; some sixty or seventy feet in height, about one hundred feet from the front door of the central building; it seemed as the perfection of symmetry. I had a fancy that, guided by some good spirit just after my original visit, the nut from which that noble beech grew was dropped by some friendly gray squirrel, in view of giving me a surprising welcome on my second coming; and having done this he gleefully raised his American flag over his back and then scampered away. I think ere this that squirrel is gathered to his fathers; I wish I could learn his history. The leaves of the beech could not even whisper it to me; didn't know.

 

A Veteran Law-Giver.—Facing the College Campus in a mansion that looks like a genuine home, I found a venerable old gentleman, now an octogenarian, whose acquaintance I had made when he was a member of the State senate, session of 1846-47. At that time the State legislature had out of 107 members but 23 natives to the soil and he was one of the 23.This was John WELCH, one of Ohio's strong men. He was born in 1805 in Harrison county. Ohio-born men of his advanced years are rare; its population in 1805 was small. His history illustrates the pluck of that sturdy race which started in life when. Ohio was a wilderness. Beginning with battling with the trees, and conquering them so as to give the ground a fair chance for the sunbeams, they went forth into the battle of life among their fellow-men regarding them somewhat as “trees walking.” Success was of course assured. When a young man he was at work in a flour mill fourteen miles from these Athenians down among the Romans, dwellers in Rome township ! and there he studied law, and once or twice a week brushed the flour from his clothes, came up to Athens and recited to Prof. Jos. DANA. Admitted to the bar his course was onward; became prosecuting attorney for the county, a member of the State legislature, went to Congress, became judge of the common pleas court and finally judge of the supreme court of Ohio, which office he held for many years. In person the judge is a large and strong man and when young very agile, so that when about twenty years of age, while teaching school in Harrison county, in a single running jump in a brick yard he managed to cover twenty feet and four inches.

 

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A second Enoch-Arden-like case occurred in the early history of this county. One day in 1829 Timothy WILKINS, an honest, enterprising man, living opposite the town, came over to Athens, transacted some business, and was supposed to have returned home, but did not. Next morning the boat in which he usually crossed the river was found floating down the stream and his hat with it. The river was dragged and cannon fired over the water to recover the body, but it was not found. He was a very popular man, and his wife and family were in great distress. Time passed; Timothy WILKINS went out of people's minds, and Mrs. WILKINS married a Mr. Goodrich. In 1834 a vague rumor came that Mr. WILKINS was alive, and finally a letter from him to a neighbor announcing his approach. Fearing to shock his wife by a sudden appearance, he had himself originated the rumors of his safety, and now announced that he would soon be in Athens. He knew of his wife's second marriage, and in friendly spirit proposed to meet her and Mr. GOODRICH. Much excitement ensued. The conference was held, and Messrs. WILKINS and GOODRICH left to the choice of the wife of their rivalship to decide between them. She turned to the husband of her first love. Mr. GOODRICH acquiesced sadly but kindly, took up his hat and walked.

 

 Mr. WILKINS' disappearance was a ruse to escape his creditors. In that day to fail was an awful thing. A man could be imprisoned for a debt of ten dollars. WILKINS was honest, but almost insane from his misfortunes. he had gone to New Orleans to resuscitate his broken fortunes, made money in boating, and now on his return paid his debts, and then with his reunited wife left those scenes forever, going South.

 

A Long Dive.To abscond for fear of creditors was common in the early part of this century. A gentleman whom I knew in youth was about the year 1800 a merchant in Middletown, Conn. His affairs became desperate,

 

J.C. Brannon, Photo., Athens, 1886

THE ASYLUM FOR THE INSANE.


 




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 and one day he disappeared. His hat and clothes being found on the banks of the Connecticut, it was supposed he had committed suicide. A year or more passed, when some person who knew him and had been to the far-away settlement of Marietta, reported that he had seen him in that place, whereupon a wag remarked: “Jeremiah, then, did not drown himself; he simply took a long dive—went  down in the Connecticut and came up in the Ohio.” This underground swimmer eventually returned to the East, and became mayor of my native city.

 

THE COON-SKIN LIBRARY.

The settlement of Ames township was about a year after that of Athens. The county was at that time divided into four townships, and it comprised more than double its present area, and Ames that of ten townships now in Athens, Morgan, and Hocking counties. The settlers were an intellectual body of men. Entirely isolated and remote from schools

and libraries, they felt keenly the absence of means for mental improvement. At a public meeting in 1803 the subject of a library was discussed, but the scarcity of money was a stumbling-block. There was next to none in the county. The little transactions between the settlers were almost wholly by barter. Very little more was raised than each family could produce, and there was no market for any surplus.

 

“So scarce was money,” said Judge A. G. BROWN, “that I can hardly remember ever seeing a piece of coin till I was a well-grown boy. It was with great difficulty we obtained enough to pay our taxes with and buy tea for mother.”

 

However, by scrimping and ingenious devices a little money was saved for this object. As cash could be obtained by selling skins and furs at the East, some of the settlers who were good hunters made forays upon the wild animals. Esquire Samuel BROWN, going on a business trip to Boston, took their skins

 

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with him—bears, wolves, and coons—and sold them to agents of John Jacob ASTOR. The Rev. Dr. CUTLER, who accompanied him, selected from a part of the avails a valuable collection of books. In the original record it is called the “Western Library Association,” founded at Ames, February 2, 1804. In common parlance it went under the name of “Coon-Skin Library.” At a meeting of the shareholders, held at the house of Silvanus AMES, December 17, 1804, Ephrairn CUTLER was elected librarian: it was also voted “to accept fifty-one books. purchased by Samuel BROWN.” In his autobiography, Thomas EWING makes acknowledgment of benefit of the library to him personally. “All his accumulated wealth,” says he, “ten coon-skins, went into it.”

 

“This,” says Walker, “was the first public library formed in the Northwestern Territory, though not the first incorporated.” This statement is erroneous. On March 6, 1802, a public library went into operation in Cincinnati, with L. KERR, librarian. $340 had been raised by subscription; thirty-four shares, at $10 each. Arthur St. CLAIR, Jacob BURNET, Martin BAUM, and Griffin YEATMAN were among the subscribers. Its final fate is unknown. Earlier still, “Belpre Farmers' Library” was established at Belpre in 1796.

 

George EWING, commonly called Lieut. EWING, was the father of Hon. Thomas EWING. He was, it is claimed, the first settler in Ames township. He was born in Salem, N. J., was an officer in the Jersey line, and after the Revolution lived a few years on the frontier near Wheeling, W. Va.; in 1793 moved to the Waterford settlement on the Muskingum, and thence in 1798 to Ames township in this county. In 1802 he was elected township clerk. He was a reading, intellectual man, noted for sterling good sense, wit, and humor. His eminent son, Thomas EWING, contributed to Walker's most excellent “History of Athens County” this sketch of his early life and living.

 

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF THOMAS EWING.

 

My father settled in what is now Ames township, Athens county early in April, 1798. He removed from the mouth of Olive Green creek, on the Muskingum river, and the nearest neighbor with whom he had association was in that direction, distant about eighteen miles. There were a few families settled about the same time on or near the present site of the town of Athens, but no road or even pathway led to them; the distance was about twelve miles. There was an old pioneer hunter camped at the mouth of Federal creek, distant about ten miles. This, as far as I know, comprised the population statistics of what is now Athens county. I do not know the date of the settlement in what was called No. 5—Cooley’s settlement—it was early.

 

Journey to Ohio.—At the time of my father's removal I was with my aunt, Mrs. MORGAN, near West Liberty, Va., going to school. I was a few months in my ninth year. Early in the year 1798, I think in May, my uncle brought me home. We descended the Ohio river in a flat-boat to the mouth of the Little Hocking, and crossed a bottom and a pine hill, along a dim footpath, some ten or fifteen miles, and took quarters for the night at Daily's camp. I was tired, and slept well on the bear-skin bed which the rough old dame spread for me, and in the morning my uncle engaged a son of our host, a boy of eighteen, who had seen my father's cabin, to pilot us.

 

Pioneer Living—I was now at home, and fairly an inceptive citizen of the future Athens county. The young savage, our pilot, was much struck with some of the rude implements of civilization which he saw my brother using, especially the auger, and ex­pressed the opinion that with an axe and auger a man could make everything My wanted except a gun and bullet-molds. My brother was engaged in making some bedsteads. He had finished a table, in the manufacture of which he had also used an adze to smooth the plank, which he split in good width from straight-grained trees. Transportation was exceedingly difficult, and our furniture of the rudest kind, composed of articles of the first necessity. Our kitchen utensils were “the big kettle,” “the little kettle,” the bake-oven, frying-pan, and pot; the latter had a small hole in the bottom, which was mended with a button, keyed with a nail through the eye on the outside of the pot. We had no table furniture that would break—little of any kind. Our meat—bear meat, or raccoon, with venison or turkey, cooked together and seasoned to the taste (a most savory dish)--was cut up in morsels and placed in the centre of the table, and the younger members of the family, armed with sharpened sticks, helped themselves about as well as with four-tined forks; great care was taken in selecting wholesome sticks-as sassafras, spice-bush, hazel, or hickory. Sometimes the children were allowed by way of picnic to cut with the butcher-knife from the fresh bear-meat and venison their slices, and stick them, alternately on a sharpened spit, and roast before a fine hickory fire. This made a royal dish. Bears, deer, and raccoons remained in abundance until replaced by swine. The great West would have settled slowly without corn and hogs. A bushel of seed wheat will produce at the end of ten months fifteen or twenty bushels; a bushel of corn at the end of five months 400 bushels, and it is used to

 

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much advantage the last two months. Our horned cattle do not double in a year; hogs in the same time increase twenty-fold. it was deemed almost a sacrilege to kill a sheep, and I remember well the first beef I tasted. I thought it coarse and stringy compared with venison. We had wild fruits of several varieties, very abundant, and some of them exceedingly fine. There was a sharp ridge quite near my father's house on which I had selected four or five service or juneberry bushes that I could easily climb, and kept an eye on them until they should get fully ripe. At the proper time I went with one of my sisters to gather them, but a bear had been in advance of me.  The limbs of all of the bushes were brought down to the trunk like a folded umbrella, and the berries all gone: there were plenty still in the woods for children and bears, but few so choice or easy of access as these. We had a great variety of wild plums, some exceedingly fine; better, to my taste, than the tame varieties. I have not seen any of the choice varieties within the last thirty years.

 

We, of course, had no mills. The nearest was oil Wolf creek, about fourteen miles distant from this we brought our first summer's supply of breadstuffs. After we gathered our first crop of corn my father instituted a hand mill, which as a kind of common property supplied the neighborhood, after we had neighbors, for several years, until Christopher HERROLD set up a horse mill on the ridge, and Henry BARROWS a water mill near the mouth of Federal creek.

 

A Lonely Boy.—For the first year I was a lonely boy. My brother George, eleven years older than I, was too much of a man to be my companion, and my sisters could not be with me, generally, in the woods and among the rocks and caves; but a small spaniel dog; almost as intelligent as a boy, was always with me.

 

His First Books.—I was the reader of the family, but we had few books! I remember but one beside “Watts’ Psalms and Hymns” that a child could read “The Vicar of Wakefield,” which was almost committed to memory; the poetry which it contained entirely. Our first neighbor was Capt. Benj. BROWN, who had been an officer in the 'Revolutionary war. He was a man of strong intellect, without much culture. He told me many anecdotes of the war which interested me, gave me an account of Dr. JENNER'S then recent discovery of the kine pox as a preventive of the small pox, better than I have ever yet read in any written treatise, and I remember it better than any account I have since read. He lent me a book—one number of a periodical called the “Athenian Oracle “—something like our modern “Notes and Queries,” from which, however, I learned but little. I found, too, a companion in his son John, four years my senior, still enjoying sound health in his ripe old age.

 

In 1801 some one of my father's family being ill, Dr. BAKER, who lived at Waterford, some eighteen miles distant, was called in. He took notice of me as a reading boy, and told me he had a book he would lend me if I would come for it. I got leave of my father and went, the little spaniel being my travelling companion.

 

The book was a translation of Virgil, the Bucolics and Georgics torn out, but the Ćneid perfect. I have not happened to meet with the translation since, and do not know whose it was. The opening lines, as I remember them, were—

 

 

“Arms and the man I sing who first from

           Troy

Came to the Italian and Lavinian shores,

Exiled by fate, much tossed by land and sea,

By power divine and cruel Juno's rage;

Much, too, in war he suffered, till he reared

A city, and to the Latium brought his gods—

Hence sprung his Latin progeny, the kings

Of Alba, and the walls of towering Rome. “

 

 

When I returned home with my book, and for some weeks after, my father had hands employed in clearing a new field. On Sundays and at leisure hours I read to them, and never had a more attentive audience. At that point in the narrative where Ćneas discloses to Dido his purpose of leaving her, and tells her of the vision of Mercury bearing the mandate of Jove, one of the men sprang to his feet, declared he did not believe a word of that-he had got tired of her, and it was all a made up story as an excuse to be off and it was a - shame after what she had done for him. So the reputation of Ćneas suffered by that day's reading.

 

Our next neighbors were Ephraim CULTER, Silvanus AMES, William BROWN, a married son of the Captain; and four or five miles distant, Nathan WOODBURY, George WOLF and Christopher HERROLD; and about the same time, or a little later, Silas DEAN a rich old bachelor Martin BOYLES, and John and Samuel McCUNE. Mr. CUTLER and my father purchased “Morse's Geography,” the first edition, about 1800, for his oldest son Charles and myself; it in effect became my book, as Charles never used it and I studied it most intently. By this, with such explanations as my father gave me, I acquired quite a come petent knowledge of geography, and some thing of general history.

 

The Coon-Skin Library.—About this time the neighbors in our and the surrounding settlements met and agreed to purchase books and to make a common library. They were all poor and subscriptions small, but they raised in all about $100. All my accumulated wealth, ten coon-skins, went into the fund, and Squire Sam BROWN, of Sunday creek, who was going to Boston, was charged with the purchase. After an absence of many weeks he brought the books to Capt. Ben BROWN’S in a sack on a pack-horse. I was present at the untying sack and pouring out of the treasure. There were about sixty volumes, I think, and well selected; the library of the Vatican was nothing to it, and there never was a library better

 

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read. This with occasional additions furnished me with reading while I remained at home.

 

Early Teachers.We were quite fortunate in our schools. Moses EVERITT, a graduate of Yale, but an intemperate young man, who had been banished by his friends, was our first teacher; after him, Charles CUTLER, a brother of Ephraim, and also a graduate of Yale. They were learned young men and faithful to their vocation. They boarded alternate weeks with their scholars, and made the winter evenings pleasant and instructive. After Barrows' mill was built at the mouth of Federal creek, I being the mill boy, used to take my two horse loads of grain in the evening, have my grist ground, and take it home in the morning. 'There was an eccentric person living near the mill whose name was Jones—we called him Doctor; he was always dressed in deerskin, his principal vocation being hunting, and I always found him in the evening, in cool weather, lying with his feet to the fire. He was a scholar, banished no doubt for intemperance; he had books, and finding my fancy or them had me read to him while he lay drying his feet. He was fond of poetry, and did something to correct my pronunciation and prosody. Thus the excessive use of alcohol was the indirect means of furnishing me with school-teachers.

 

Works in the Kanawha  Salines.—My father entertained the impression that I would one day be a scholar, though quite, unable to lend me any pecuniary aid. I grew up with the same impression until, in my nineteenth year, I almost abandoned hope on reflection, however, I determined to make on effort to earn the means to procure an education. Having got the summer's work well disposed of, I asked of my father leave to go for a few months and try my fortune. He consented and I set out on foot the next morning, made my way through the woods to the Ohio, got on a keel boat as a hand at small wages, and in about a week landed at Kanawha salines I engaged and went to work at once and in three months satisfied myself that I could earn money slowly but surely, and on my return home in December, 1809; I went to Athens and spent three months there as a student, by way of testing my capacity. I left the academy in the spring with a sufficiently high opinion of myself, and returned to Kanawha to earn money to complete my education. This year I was successful, paid off some debts which troubled my father, and returned home and spent the winter with some new books which had accumulated in the library, which, with my father's aid, I read to much advantage.

 

Enters College—I went to Kanawha the third year, and after a severe summer's labor I returned home with about $600 in money, but sick and exhausted. Instead, however, of sending for a physician, I got “Don Quixote “ from the library and laughed myself well in about ten days. I then went to Athens, entered as a regular student and continued my studies there till the spring of 1815, when I left, a pretty good though irregular scholar. During my academic term I went to Gallipolis and taught school a quarter and studied French. I found my funds likely to fall short and went a fourth time to Kanawha where in six weeks I earned $150, which I thought would suffice, and returned to my studies; after two years rest the severe labor in the salines went hard with me.

 

Studies Law.—After finishing my studies at Athens I read “Blackstone's Commentaries” at home, and in July, 1815, went to Lancaster to study law. A. B. WALKER, then a boy of about fifteen years, accompanied me to Lancaster to bring, back my horse, and I remained, and studied law with Gen. BEECHER. I was admitted to the bar in August, 1816, after fourteen months very diligent study—the first six months about sixteen hours a day.

 

Law Experiences—I made my first speech at Circleville the November following. Gen. BEECHER first gave me a slander case to prepare and study; I spent much time with it but time wasted, as the cause was continued the first day of court. He then gave me a case of contract, chiefly in depositions, which I studied diligently, but that was also continued; a few minutes afterward a case was called, and Gen. BEECHER told me that was ready—the jury was sworn, witnesses called, and the cause went on. In the examination of one of the witnesses I thought I discovered an important fact not noticed by either counsel and I asked leave to cross-examine further elicited the fact which was decisive of the case. This gave me confidence. I argued the cause closely and well, and was abundantly congratulated by the members of the bar present.

 

My next attempt was in Lancaster. Mr. SHERMAN, father of the General, asked me to argue a cause of his which gave room for some discussion. I had short notice, but was quite successful, and the cause being appealed Mr. SHERMAN sent his client to employ me with him. I had as yet got no fees, and my funds were very low. This November I at tended the Athens court. I had nothing to do there, but met an old neighbor, Ehsha ALDERMAN, who wanted me to go to Marietta to defend his brother a boy, who was to be tried for larceny. It was out of my intended beat, but I wanted business and fees and agreed to go for $25, of which I received $10 in hand. I have had several fees since of $10,000 and upwards, but never one of which I felt the value, or in truth as valuable to me, as this. I went, tried my boy, and he was convicted, but the court granted me a new trial. On my way to Marietta at the next term I thought of a ground of excluding the evidence, which had escaped me on the first trial. It was not obvious, but sound. I took it, excluded the evidence and acquitted my client. This caused a sensation. I was employed at once in twelve penitentiary cases, under indictment at that term, for making and passing counterfeit money, horse-stealing and perjury. As a professional man, my fortune was thus briefly made.

 

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EDWARD R. AMES, the distinguished Methodist Bishop, was born in Ames, in 1806. In youth he had access to the Coon Skin library, studied two or three years at the University at Athens, supporting himself in the meanwhile by teaching: He joined the Methodists, went to Lebanon, Ill., where he opened a high school which eventually grew into McKendree College. In 1830 he was licensed to preach. In 1840 he was elected corresponding secretary of the Missionary Society for the South and West. This was before the days of railroads and travelling slow and difficult; during the four years that he filled it he travelled some 25,000 miles; on one tour he passed over the entire frontier line from Lake Superior to Texas, camping out almost the whole route and part of the time almost destitute of provisions.

 

During the greater part of his adult life Bishop AMES resided in Indiana. He died in Baltimore in 1879. He was the first Methodist Bishop to visit the Pacific coast. During the civil war he rendered important service too as a member of several commissions.

 

He possessed extraordinary capacity for business, was of great physical endurance and one of the most eloquent preachers in the Methodist Church.

 

 NELSONVILLE, sixty-two miles southeast of Columbus, on the Hocking Valley Canal, on the C. H. V. & T. R. R. Newspapers: Valley Register, Independent, J. A. TULLIS, editor and publisher; News, Independent, T. E. WELLS, editor and publisher. Churches: 1 Methodist, 1 Presbyterian, 1 Christian, 1 Colored Baptist and 1 Colored Methodist. Banks: Merchants' & Miners', Chas. ROBBINS, president, Chas. A. Cable, cashier.

 

Manufactures and Employees.—Nelsonville Planing Mill Co., building material, 10 hands; Nelsonville Machine Co., steam engines, machinery, etc., 24; Kreig & Son, doors, sash, etc.; Steenrod & Poston, flour and feed; Fremmel & Barrman, leather.

 

Nelsonville is one of the largest and most important coal-mining centres in the State. The Nelsonville bed is one of the most valuable in Ohio, from its superior quality and its proximity to canal and railroad facilities. The thickness of the vein averages about six feet. Population in 1880, 3,095. School census in 1886, 1,555; F. S. COULTRAP superintendent. Nelsonville was laid out in 1818 and named after Mr. Daniel NELSON who owned the land on which the town is situated.

 

ALBANY, nine miles south of Athens, on the T. & O. R. R., is a notable temperance town in the centre of a fine grazing and wool-producing region. The Atwood Institute is located here, also the Enterprise Academy for colored students. Newspapers: Echo, Independent, D. A. R. McKINSTRY, editor. Churches: 1 Methodist Episcopal, 1 Free Will Baptist, 1 Cumberland Presbyterian, 1 African Methodist Episcopal. Population in 1880, 469.School census in 1886, 142; Lester C. COTTRILL, superintendent. An important feature is Wells Library, containing 2,000 volumes, endowed by the late Henry Wells. Coolville had, IN 1880, 323 inhabitants.

 

BUCHTEL is on the C. & H. V. R. R., in the northwest part of the county. Population in 1880, 417.


Additional Reading

The History of Athens County



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