Samuel Davison French

Samuel Davison French, whose portrait appears on
the opposite page, is one of the prosperous and influential farmers of
Allen County.  He has been an honored and esteemed resident of Perry
township for upwards of 70 years, having spent almost his entire life
upon the 160 acre farm which is still his home.  He was born in Trumbull
County, Ohio, July 10, 1823, and is a son of William and Elizabeth
(Davison) French, and grandson of Alexander French.  The last named was
born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, and was a soldier in the
Revolution before he located in Trumbull County, Ohio.   On October 5,
1784, he was married to Elizabeth Morrison; a family of five daughters
and one son were reared, named: Margaret (Mrs. John Hannah); William;
Ann (Mrs. Robert Russell); Jane (Mrs. John Sheefleton); Betsey (Mrs.
John Davison); and Sally (Mrs. William Moore). The maternal grandparents
of our subject were Benjamin and Ann (Buchanan) Davison.  Benjamin
Davison, who was from Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, came to Ohio and
located in Trumbull County May 7, 1800, before Ohio became a State,
being then the best known portion of the Northwest Territory.  Very few
white men had ventured into the new country of the Indians.  Benjamin
Davison spent the last years of his life in Newton Falls.
        William Fench was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, March
15, 1787.  In 1834 he located in Allen County, Ohio, where he purchased
160 acres of land.  Of this land 80 acres lay in Bath township, where he
made his home and the other 80 was situated just across the road in
Perry township and upon it is located the buildings of his son, our
subject.  On August 11, 1819, he was married to Elizabeth Davison and a
family of eight children were born to them, as follows: Ann, wife of
John Rankin; Elizabeth, unmarried; Samuel Davison; David; John; Mary
Jane; George; and Newton. Our subject and his brother George, who lives
in Bath Township, are the only survivors.  William French had always
been a Democrat until the first nomination of William H. Harrison for
the presidency, when he decided to give his support to the hero of
Tippecanoe in preference to Martin Van Buren, but died in 1836 before the
election at the age of 49 years.
         Samuel Davison French came to Allen County with his parents
when he was 11 years of age. It was a memorable journey, contrasting
strongly with the present- day travel by electric car over the same land
 which is crisscrossed by electric and telephone wires and dotted with
every indication of prosperous civilization.  The little company of
emigrants who started with ox teams to traverse the long miles which lay
between Trumbull and Allen Counties numbered 22 people, only three of
whom our subject, his brother George and Hank Agate are living.  It took
13 1/2 days to complete the journey.  When they reached Marion County,
on the Hardin County line, their provisions were exhausted and they were
obliged to remain there three days, unsheltered by a roof while the
women of the party were busily engaged in cooking enough to sustain them
on the remainder of the trip.  The trail was followed with great
difficulty as the forest was so dense it was almost impossible to
penetrate its labyrinths and it was necessary to proceed with caution.
They camped one night at Hog Creek marsh, where the wolves were so
numerous it was found necessary to watch the sheep the entire night to
keep them from being killed.  The Indian was still a menace to the white
man and one of the relics which Mr. French prizes as a reminder of those
days is a cane made from a log which formed a part of the historic old
Council House of the Shawnee's in Shawnee township, the old structure
having long since given way to the Allen County Children's Home.
       Mr. French was married April 23, 1847, to Margaret T. Roberts,
daughter of William and Hannah (Morrison) Roberts, and an aunt of
Thomas C. Roberts, whose biography will be found in this volume. They
have four children, namely: Lois A., who died at the age of one year;
William, who was killed while taking a team of mules to water;
Elizabeth, who is unmarried and is housekeeper for her parents; and
Leola, the wife of Jesse Growdon and the mother of six children Lois, S.
D. (who is married and has three children), Walter, Effie, Ross and
Eunice.
        When Mr. French first came to this farm, there was a small
clearing and a cabin on the 80 acre tract in Bath township. Shortly
after his marriage, he built a cabin on the 80 in Perry Township and
continued to live in it until 1861 when his present residence was built.
He has put all the improvements on this land and has done all the
clearing except the first 20 acres.  When he took possession, the land
was covered with heavy forest and it required much hard work to convert
it into his present well-cultivated acres.  In addition to general
farming, Mr. French is also engaged in stock raising, but has lately
left the active management of the work to his son-in-law.  He is a
genial, generous, kindly gentleman who is venerated and loved by all.
He has been identified with the Republican Party since its organization
and before that was a Whig.  He has never sought nor desired public
office.