In 1857 his parents came to the West, that boundless field for industry and thrift, and settled in Fayette County, in this state. There, with indomitable industry, they proceeded to clear off the virgin forests and get the ground ready for cultivation. From 157 to 1866 he led the usual life of a farmer's boy, but with few advantage commonly to be found in that position. His parents were very poor and he received no school education after he was twelve years of age, with the exception of six or eight months each Winter, when the weather was so bad that no work could be done on the farm.
He was, however, am incessant reader. He read every thing he could lay his hands on-books, magazines, and newspapers. History, biography, and travels were his favorites, and so industriously did he pursue his reading that he was known by all to be a well-informed young man at age twenty. His love for his adopted country and his hatred of the British rule led him to pay particular attention to history of the United States and the Revolutionary struggle. He sat up night, reading the story of the blockade of Boston, the conflict at Lexington, the disastrous defeat at Brooklyn, the retreat across the Jerseys, the Winter at Valley Forge, the victories at Saratoga and Yorktown, the brilliant campaign of GREENE in the South, and the thousand and one other facts that make up the history of our war for self-government, with no light but that of a log-fire, and alone.
In 1866 he began teaching school, for which he had qualified himself by study. This position enabled him to keep up his reading, and to find new books in each neighborhood. In this country, to which he came on the 16th March 1866, from Clark County he taught for six years. While teaching he studied law, a part of the time in the office of Judge CRANE, and was admitted to practice in all Courts of record on the 13th of April 1874. In that year he became the editor of the Hamilton Examiner, a Democratic newspaper. He was married on the 2nd of June 1874 to Miss Jane W. KINCAID, daughter of Jackson Kincaid, who was born in Virginia, and Isabella HILL, a native of Butler County. Her birth was in December 1849. Mrs. Neilan has proven an estimable, loving wife, and their home has been a happy one. They have had three children, Thomas K., Mary E., and John F.Jr. Thomas was born December 4, 1875, was killed by the kick of a horse, on the 19th of July 1881. This was their first sorrow. Mary E. was born September 28, 1878. John F. Neilan, Jr., was born December 28,1881.
Mr. NEILAN was elected city solicitor of Hamilton in April 1877, retaining the position till April 1881. In 1879, while holding that place, he was nominated for prosecuting attorney by the Democratic convention. Always an ardent, fearless, and successful political strategist, he was made the especial target of the opposition party. All corrupting influences possible in political warfare were brought to bear against him, but he was triumphantly elected and served the people for two years, and for his honorable course and ability as a shrewd, quick-witted criminal lawyer, he was given the nomination for a second term without opposition, and his election followed.
Mr. NEILAN ranks today with first lawyers in our courts. His ability as an attorney and counselor, and reputation as speaker, gained in many hard fought political battle, have made him a reputation extending far beyond the confines of this county. He is man of great will power and determination, and always ready to give his opinion on all questions, and to conceal nothing. He is faithful and impartial in the discharge of his duties, and serves the people with honesty and ability. His intention is to resume the practice of law at the expiration of his term of office, and devote his whole attention to his chosen attention.
The assent of the owners was required o be obtained over whose lands the water should be conducted or works erected. The capital stock of the company was limited to one hundred thousand dollars, divided into shares of fifty dollars each. On twenty-thousand being subscribed they wee authorized to elect a board of directors and proceed with the object of the undertaking.
At the next session of the Legislature a law was passed modifying the provisions of the original act so that the business of the company should conducted by nine directors, instead of seven as provided by the first act and prohibiting the directors from involving the company in debt to a greater amount than the stock subscribed, unless authorized by two-thirds of the stockholders. The assent of owners of land to the right of way being required by the act of incorporation, in the Spring of the year 1841 John W. ERWIN obtained a release of the right of way from John MITCHEL, George R. BIGHAM, William BIGHAM, John BIGHAM, James BIGHAM, and David BIGHAM, on the condition that the Hydraulic Company should build each of these persons a good bridge on their land, for the passing of wagons and cattle over the company's canal.
A difference of opinion existed between the citizens of Hamilton and Rossville as to the point where the waterpower should be erected, and on which side of the river the water should be brought. The act of incorporation appointed Samuel FORRER, of Dayton, a civil engineer, to survey and estimate the route on each side of the river and to establish it on the best and most practicable route. On being notified by the company, Mr. Forrer attended at Hamilton, in October, examined the different routes, and after making an estimate of the expense, on the 26th of October 1841, made a report deciding in favor of one of the Hamilton side. Books for the subscription of stock were opened on Wednesday the first day of December, and twenty-two thousand dollars immediately taken.
An election was held at the office of Lewis D. CAMPBELL secretary, on the first day of January, 1842, at which John WOODS, William BEBB, Loammi RIGDON, Jacob HITTEL, Andrew MCCLEARY, Lewis D. CAMPBELL, and Jacob MATTHIAS were elected directors. William BEBB was chosen president, and Lewis D. CAMPBELL, secretary. Henry S. EARHART was afterwards appointed treasurer. The board the employed John W. ERWIN and John C. SKINNER, engineers, to re-survey the route, and prepare the work for being let. After the work had been prepared for letting, John W. Ervin declining to serve further as engineer, John C. Skinner was appointed at a salary of four hundred dollars per year. A number of proposals were received, and the whole work put under contract at prices from five to thirteen cents per cubic yard for excavation and embankment. The contractors immediately commenced work, and prosecuted their jobs with vigor, so that, notwhistanding the great embarrassment of the times, and the difficulty in raising funds, the whole was finally completed, and the water let in at an early date.
The commissioners appointed by the general government to examine and make a report of the most suitable place for the establishment of a United States armory, on some of the Western waters, being in the county at the time, a committee of citizens drew up a statement of advantages of Hamilton, and the eligibility of the place for such an establishment. The Hydraulic Company proposed to furnish them three thousand cubic feet of water per minute, over a fall of twenty feet, for the use of their works, free of charge, provided they would erect a tight dam over the river at the head of the race, and invited the commissioners to visit the place. On the 13th of September 1842, they arrived at Hamilton and spent three or four days in examining the town and vicinity.
The Hydraulic Company from the north of Hamilton, passes down near the bank of the river, through a space of ground lying between the town lots and the river, previously held as public common. A conversion from public to private use it was alleged might interfere with the title, as it had originally been granted to Israel LUDLOW, who laid out the town, for the purpose of a public common. An arrangement was accordingly entered into between the Hydraulic Company, the heirs of Israel Ludlow, deceased, and the town of Hamilton, by which the company was permitted to construct their canal over this ground. The space between the hydraulic canal and the river was laid off into lots. Those to the south of Buckeye Street were divided equally between the Hydraulic Company and the heirs of Ludlow. The portion lying north of Buckeye Street was divided equally between the town of Hamilton, Ludlow heirs and the Hydraulic Company. The canal for hydraulic purposes is taken out of the Miami River about four miles above Hamilton, at a place where formerly stood Moody DAVIS's mill. A tight dam is here constructed across the river. The water is taken from the pool formed by the dam, and conducted down a bayou which had supplied the mill with water, about one hundred and twenty-four poles to a point below where the mill stood, where another dam is made across the bayou, and an embankment continued up on the west side to the east end of the dam across the rive. This serves to raise the water to the same height as the water in the pools.
To regulate the quantity of water and guard against freshets in the river, substantial head-gates of wood are placed, mostly submerged in water. The superficial area of a cross-section of the water at the gates is two hundred square feet. From the dead-gates the canal was excavated through the lands if Alexander P. MILLER, about one mile. It is thirty-feet wide at the bottom, and forty-five feet at the top water-line, and five feet deep, having a descent of one foot in the mile, which will give the water a velocity of one hundred and thirty-seven feet per minute, being capable of discharge twenty-six thousand cubic feet of water per minute. From the point where the excavation terminates to the grand reservoir, a distance of two-fifths of a mile, the canal is formed by a single embankment, located near the base of a high ridge, the depth o the canal averaging eight feet, by seventy feet wide. Here it enters the grand reservoir
The reservoir is formed in the bed of what is commonly called Old River, by an embankment across the old channel, some distance above where the canal enters it, and another embankment below, where the canal enters it, and another embankment below, where it is taken out. The reservoir is one mile long, fifteen feet deep at the upper end, and twenty-four feet at the lower. The area of the surface of the water is abut seventy acres. From the lower part of the reservoir to the north line of the lots of Hamilton, a distance of one mile and nearly a quarter, the canal was constructed over lands then owned by the Messrs. BIGHAM, by a heavy artificial bank on one side, and a natural bank on the other. It is about seventy feet wide, and from ten to twenty feet deep. At the line of he corporation is a reservoir covering sex or seven acres, having a depth of eighteen or twenty feet. This reservoir is of great importance in retaining water to deed the canals below. From here the main branch continues west on the north line of the lots to the bank of the rive at such a distance from the river as to leave lots of convenient size between the canal and the river on which to erect mills and factories so that the water -power can be applied.
In September 1841 the Miami River was gauged by Messrs. John W. ERWIN and Henry S. EARHART above the head of New River, near where the hydraulic canal is taken out and the quantity of water passing in the river was found to be 26,132 feet per minute. The river was extremely low at the time, and the Miami Canal passing its usual quantity of water. The entire fall at the town of Hamilton, from top-water line in the hydraulic canal to low water mark in the Miami River, is twenty-nine feet. But deduct six feet of the fall, in account of ordinary freshets in the Miami River, and allow two feet for the depth of water over wheels, and there remains twenty-one feet of fall. A column of water of 25,000 cubic feet per minute, over a fall of twenty-one feet is sufficient to propel one hundred and sixty-six pairs of mill stones four and a half feet in diameter, with the requisite machinery necessary for the manufacture of flour. The length of line along which the waterpower may be used is about two miles.
It is the opinion of men of experience, well-skilled in such matters, that this water-power is the best west of the Allegheny Mountains, and east of the Upper Mississippi and its branches. The whole work is constructed in the most substantial manner with a view to its stability and durability.
The first water-power was leased to ERWIN, HUNTER & ERWIN, who erected a flour-mill at the east end of Hamilton bridge. Along its banks are now many valuable manufacturing establishments and it has also been very useful if putting out fires. Another race was constructed on the west side of the river, which has been of great value.
The Hydraulic Company passed the first water through their lower level from Fourth Street down Stable Street to the Miami River on Monday, the twenty-seventh day of January 1845. This lower level canal was three feet in depth, turning the water-wheels of Messrs. ERWIN, HUNTER's flour mill, and Tobias BROTHERS' machine shop, near the east end of the Miami bridge. The first work done by waterpower was done by the Tobias BROTHERS, January 31, 1845. Their shop was thronged with curious visitors for many days. The occasion was a jubilee for the citizens, huzzaing, firing of cannons, and shaking of hands among the demonstrations.
The Rossvilee Hydraulic Company was incorporated February 27,1846. The incorporators were Robert B. MILLIKIN, James ROSSMAN, John K. WILSON, Robert BECKCETT, Samuel SNIVELY, Henry RABER, Charles K. SMITH, William DANIELS, Alfred THOMAS, Wikison BEATTY, and Joshua DELAPLANE. It was organized in March 1848. Henry CLAYTON was the first engineer employed. He was engaged about a year, and was succeeded by Henry S. EARHART, who made the location. The water taken out one and a half miles above town, just below the mouth of Four-Mile Creek. Passing through the low grounds below, and under Two-Mile Creek by a tunnel, the water is spilled on line. The work was begun in May 1849, the excavation being let to Connor MCGREEVY and John CONNAUGHTON. The company built the dam. In the flood of January 1852 the abutment on the east side of the dm was destroyed. It was repaired in a permanent manner, and lengthened two hundred feet.
F.D. Black, after attending the schools of Hamilton, entered at the age of thirteen St. Mary's College, at Dayton, where he remained till eighteen years of age. Having acquired a liberal education he now turned his attention to business affairs. In the Fall of 1868 he went to St. Louis, Missouri, in charge of a branch house of Long, Black & Alstatter, engaged in the manufacture of agricultural implements, of which his father was a partner. In 1870 Mr. Black withdrew from business affairs, in consequence of his father disposing of his interest in the above firm. He immediately turned his attention to politics and public affairs, and was appointed by Sheriff R.N. ANDREWS as a deputy, which position he filled with credit, so that upon Mr. William H. ALLEN succeeding Mr. Andrews he retained Mr. Black in the position he had so well filled. He was appointed by Mr. Marcellus THOMAS, who retained him during hi term. Upon looking for a candidate for sheriff in 1879 the Democrats wisely chose Mr. Black. Ten years' experience as deputy recommended him as highly qualified to fill the office and consequently he was elected by a decided majority over his opponent. Mr. Black had during his first term so well performed the duties of his office, and secured the approbation of the public, that he was nominated in 1881 for a second term, and elected by a large majority. Since he assumed the duties of his position he has acquitted himself with great credit, and deserves special commendation for his vigilance and success in the capture of the notorious JONES and VANDERPOOL, indicted and held for trial on a charge of forgery. Three months were spent by Sheriff Black in tracing them through Ohio, Michigan, and Canada. They were finally arrested about forty miles from Toronto, and extradited. Mr. Black has the honor of having in his position the only extradition warrant in existence signed by President GARFIELD. By the arrest of these chiefs of forgery and swindling he effectively broke up the system of robbery in this part of Ohio.
Mr. Black was married to Miss Mary RIFFLE, of Liberty Township, Butler County, who bore him three children, two girls and one boy. The son, Paul, is now being educated at St. Mary's College at Dayton where his father formerly attended, and the two daughters are about to enter Cedar Grove Seminary, in Hamilton County. Mr. Black is a young man of superior native powers, and a mind with proper training capable of filling high positions.
After the death of Mr. Woods, in 1855, Mr. Beckett, his executor, took his place as director in the Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Dayton Railroad, and also in the Cincinnati and Indianapolis roar, know as the Junction. From that day to the present he has been active and liberal supporter of every movement to advance the interests and promote the prosperity of the city and county . He is largely interest in the manufacturing industry, and any event which would deprive the city of his efficient capacity and energy would be severely felt by the whole community.
There are few men in Butler County more widely known personally than Mr. Beckett. During a considerable portion of his life he was a man of large means, and his hospitality was fully commensurate therewith. Public men when in this vicinity commonly gravitated to his home, and some of his well-known political influence may have been promoted in this way.
Whigs of the Townships, be on your guard. Some of these hirelings will be quartered in every township in the county. GUARD WELL THE POLLS! See that none but LEGAL VOTES are deposited and a triumphant victory is sure!
In 1834 the law firm of MILLIKIN & BEBB was begun by the formation of a partnership between himself and William BEBB, afterwards governor, and this connection lasted till 1840, when Millikin retired from practice. In 1829 he was appointed brigade major and inspector of militia, an office he retained till 1833. January 1, 1841, he was appointed an aid-de-camp by Governor Thomas CORWIN, and in 1846 he was a member of the State Board of Equalization. In 1856 he was elected a member of the State Board of Agriculture, and was twice re-elected. He served as president of the board one year. In 1860 he was appointed a trustee of Miami University. In this capacity he served two terms of nine years each, and has been reappointed for the third term. In 1873 he was named Secretary of the Interior as one of a commission to proceed to the Indian Territory for the purpose of making a treaty with the Creek Nation for relinquishment of a part of their territory to the Seminoles. In October, 1875 he was elected treasurer of the State of Ohio, and on the 10th of January, 1876, entered upon the discharge of the duties of his office. The Republicans renominated him for the same position in 1877, but at the October election the Democrats were in the ascendancy, and he was, therefore, defeated. He retired from office on the 14th of January, 1878. He has always been a Whig and a Republican in politics. He cast his first ballot in 1826, and has voted at all State elections since. His first vote for President was cast in 1828 for John Quincy ADAMS. Major Millikin has always been an important man in local affairs. He has been president of the County Agriculture Society, president of he Greenwood Cemetery Association, president of the Farmer's Club, and other societies. He has an excellent knowledge of local history, and skill in narrating it. He is highly esteemed by his fellow-citizens, and has frequently been named by them as a suitable man for governor. He resides east of Hamilton on a farm which is cultivated according to the true principles of agriculture.
He was married on the 6th day of September,1831, to Mary Geenlee HOUGH, daughter of an esteemed early citizen of Hamilton, and has had by her four children, who will attain full age: Minor, Joseph, Dan, and Mary. Mention of them is made in a sketch of the Millikan family, on page 185.
In 1844 the Lockland Church received the members of the Hamilton congregation into membership, and constituted it a branch church. The members were L. RIGDON, Rebecca RIGDON, Aaron POTTER, Emeline Potter, Eve DAVIS, Elizabeth WALTON, Sarah STEELE, Sarah GARRISON, Mary GARRISON, Mary KELLEY, S. Jane WALTON, Louisa PHARIS, and Louisa BOATMAN. When Mr. OSBORN's term expired no other preacher was called, but services were held occasionally, at which neighboring ministers officiated. Meetings were held at the court-house and at the Female Academy. October 20,1844 the Rev. D. BRYANT was called as pastor, and a couple of months after it was resolved to erect a meeting-house. This house was in due time erected, at a cost, with the lot, of $3,311, and, with an additional afterward made, was occupied till 1858, when it passed into the hands of William MILLER, the German Lutheran Church, and the Episcopal Church, successively. It is now changed into stores.
Mr. BRYANT accepted another call in 1845, and William RONEY was installed as pastor soon after. April 15th, 1846, the Church was received into membership with the other Baptist Churches of the State, under the title of the First Baptist Church of Hamilton. The first trustees were L. RIGDON, A. POTTER, J.L. BATCHELDOR, Joseph SHOTWELLl and J.S. BEATTY; treasurer L. RIGDON; clerk W.S. GOING; deacons, L. RIGDON and Joseph SHOTWELL. Mr. Roney left on the 4th of June, 1848, and was succeeded by William ASHMORE. In 1850 he went to China as a foreign missionary, and for a year the Church was without a pastor. The Rev. H.M. RICHARDSON became pastor in 1852 The membership at this time was seventy-two. He stayed with the Church ten years, and did much good service. During his ministrations it was that the new church was built at a cost of ten thousand five hundred dollars. He was succeeded by C.B. KEYS, J.M. PENDELTON, V.W. SNOW, R. TELFORD, N.A. REED, Thomas HANFORD, J.R. WARE, W.E. LYON, W.A. SMITH, P.M. WEDDELL, and Homer EDDY. The last is he present pastor.
On Sunday January 17,1875, the church building was partly destroyed by fire. The other Churches, the Young Men's Christian Association, and the Masons Promptly tendered their aid. The loss fully covered by insurance. About this time, too, the Church became straitened for means, could not pay the pastor's salary, and was for several short spaces of time without preaching. It is now , however, on the upward wave. The membership is increasing, and there is much interest felt. The Sunday school has had as Superintendents Aaron POTTER, E.G. DYER, W. RICHARDSON, W.E. SCOBEY, George P. BROWN, Walter WEBSTER, Joseph R. GIBBONS, and F.P. STEWART. Much of the success of this Church was owing to the indefatigable zeal of Mr. Aaron POTTER and Dr. Loammi RIGDON, who put their shoulders to the wheel and made the Church an accomplished fact.