Adams County History
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HISTORY OF ADAMS COUNTY, OHIO
Adams County is one of the oldest in Ohio. It was formed July 10, 1797, by proclamation of Arthur St. Clair, Governor of the Northwest Territory. The elder Adams was then President of the United States, and St. Clair named the county in his honor. The civil organization of the county was effected Tuesday, September 12, 1797, at Manchester, the site of the first white settlement in the Virginia Reservation, and the third in Ohio. There were three counties organized in Ohio before Adams, namely : Washington, Hamilton, and Wayne.
Adams County lies on the majestic Ohio, and borders Highland on the north, Scioto on the east, and Brown on the west. Pike joins at the northeast angle. The form of the county is rectangular, its longer sides being its eastern and western boundary lines, and it contains six hundred and twenty-five square miles of surface. The original boundaries of the county included the greater portion of the Virginia Reservation. On the hydrographic charts of the state, Adams County is classed in the Scioto Valley section, but it is properly designated an Ohio River county. Its system of drainage empties directly into the Ohio, except a small area in the northeastern part drained by Scioto Brush Creek, a tributary of the Scioto River. Few counties of the state surpass Adams in the number and size of its fine streams and creeks. The largest of these is Ohio Brush Creek, a magnificent stream that flows through the central portion of the county from the north and empties into the Ohio River. From the village of Newport at the junction of its west and east branches to its mouth at the Ohio, it traverses a distance of nearly forty miles, and for the greater portion of its course attains the magnitude of a small river. In the days of the old iron furnaces their products were transported a portion of the year in barges from "Old Forge Dam" to the Ohio. A system of slackwater navigation on Ohio Brush Creek was at one time contemplated by the state when the iron furnaces were in operation there. In an article in the WESTERN PIONEER George Sample states that in 1806, he loaded two flat boats with flour at his residence on Ohio Brush Creek and took them from there to New Orleans. Hundreds of rafts of logs used to be floated from the vicinity of the Sproull bridge during good stages of water, while the lower course of the creek could be used almost the entire year.
The present generation has but little conception of the environments of the pioneers of Adams county, and of the hardships and dangers endured by them. When the first settlement was formed at the "Three Islands," what is now Adams County, as in fact with two exceptions, all of the present State of Ohio, was a vast wilderness, inhabited by tribes of hostile savages, and filled with ferocious beasts and venomous serpents. There was not a white man's domicile in all the Virginia Reservation, and there was not a fort nor a single company of soldiers in all that vast region to shelter the pioneer who ventured within its limits, or to stay the course of the bands of murderous savages that roamed the forests. For the most part the entire region was an unbroken forest, and the stately monarchs of the woods, the oak leviathans, whose lofty tops towered the heavens, formed a canopy of green that was but dimly penetrated by the summer's sun, and the creeks and streams were overhung with foliage that shut out the sunlight and cast deep shadows over the surface of the waters. There was not a road nor a path through this wilderness except those made by the herds of buffaloes in their travels from one feeding place to another. There were no means of travel through this vast wilderness except on foot or on horseback and these were fraught with the greatest dangers to life and limb. With such surroundings and under such conditions was the first white settlement begun in the Virginia Reservation.
The pioneers of Adams County as a class were honorable and moral men and women. They represented some of the best families of Virginia. Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey and the Carolinas. They were a hardy, industrious, and frugal people, who had come determined to make a home for themselves and their generations in the great Northwest. They were the daring, spirited and brave element of the older settlements east of the Alleghenies. It is true there were in the early settlements as there is in every community today, a rough, immoral, indolent element; but look into the history of any of the early settlements in the county, and it will be seen that each was dominated by moral, industrious, and intelligent families. The pioneers were not, as is the popular opinion, giants in stature and of herculean strength, but they were hardy and vigorous as a result of plain living and an active outdoor life. As a matter of necessity every man and boy devoted a portion of his time to the chase. It afforded the principal subsistence of the early settlers, and "wild meat without salt or bread was often their only food for weeks." They were a generous-hearted and hospitable people, whose welcome was plain and outspoken. There was none of the deceit veiled in hollow formalities that prevails in society today. "Our latch-string is always out" meant a genuine hearty welcome to the humble home of the pioneer.
Source: A History of Adams County, Ohio by Nelson Wiley Evans, Emmons Buchanan Stivers. Copyright 1900