When the first settlements were made along the Dry Fork, Howard's Creek, and Paddy's Run bottoms, ague and fever prevailed to a fearful extent. The surface in Morgan Township is partly undulating, but a great deal is rough. Along the route of Dry Fork and Paddy's Run the bottoms extend on either side from one quarter to one mile in width. The former of these streams is noted for the fertile land which borders it--the bottoms being admirably adapted to the growing of corn and barley. When the timber was first cleared off, and within a year or two after the soil was thoroughly worked over, immense crops were raised. In the south-western corner of the township the soil is unproductive, compared with the rich Dry Fork & Paddy's Run bottoms. The country around Scipio is favorable to agricultural pursuits. This section forms the basin from which Dry Fork takes its source. All the territory in the northeast corner of the township is elevated. The valley of Paddy's Run is a famous body of land for farmers. New London is situated in the midst of a fertile and very prosperous farming section.
Dry Fork, of Whitewater, is the longest as well as the largest creek in Morgan Township. It takes its rise in the region of Scipio, Okeana, & St. Charles, and has for its tributaries on the east Buck Run and Kiatta Creek. The main fork rises in Indiana. Dry Fork takes its name from the fact that near its mouth there is less water than ten miles above. During a dry season there are no signs of water in Hamilton County, while in the county of Butler, above Okeana, there is a sufficient supply for all necessary purposes. Howard's Creek cuts the south-west corner of the township, and empties into Dry Fork abut one mile and a half south of the county line. It took its named from a family who lived on its banks many year ago. Paddy's Run took its name because an Irishman was drowned in it. The stream is about half the size of Dry Fork, and empties into the Big Miami, a mile and a half below New Baltimore, in Hamilton County. There are numerous other streams, all of which, however, form the affluents of either Howard's Creek, Dry Fork, or Paddy's Run.
The original timber was made up of sycamore, walnut, blue and white ash, sugar tree, and poplar, along the streams; on the uplands, beech, hickory, some scattering walnut, ash to a considerable extent, large quantities of red and white oak, but principally of the latter, gum, hackberry, and a good supply of dogwood. There was also a dense growth of spice bushes, and about the beginning of the present century a luxuriant crop of pea-vines. These vines covered the face of the country along the rich bottoms, and for a number of years after the first settlements furnished all the food necessary for the cattle and sheep. A few years, however, of constant pasturage destroyed their vitality.
When the township received its first quota of settlers there were no roads of any kind to lead to distant settlements. Blaze roads soon came to be regarded as very necessary. These were often supplemented by bridlepaths, which led through the underbrush.
"After the county road was laid out and opened from Cincinnati to the Miami," says Rev. B. W. CHIDLAW, to whom we are indebted for many of the following facts, "a new era of transportation dawned upon the country. For many years the settlers took the produce of their fields, poultry-yards, and dairies to Cincinnati on pack-horses. At an early day Paddy's Run butter commanded a quick sale and premium in Lower Market, then the business center of the Queen City. Hospitality and sociability were cardinal virtues among the pioneers. Their raisings, log-rollings, corn-huskings and harvestings, their chopping frolics, quiltings, and wool-pickings are the memorials of their readiness to help each other."
One of the first roads in the township was called the State road; it led from Lawrenceburg, Indiana, to Oxford, Ohio. It struck or entered the township where the Shaker road now does. This road was also called the "post road," from the fact that it was over this route that the early mails were carried. The same road is now in use, but is not considered as of much importance. Another early road, and a very prominent one too, followed down the creek from Scipio, and on to Venice in Ross Township. The Howard's Creek road was not so prominent. It followed the stream and united with the Lawrenceburg and Oxford road near the north family of Shakers. There was a road also which struck off at St. Charles and passed by the way of Layhigh to the Miami at Dick's ford. This was called the trace road. The old Scipio road is now the Colerain and Brookville turnpike, but of course the original trace is not always followed. From Scipio it formerly took down the creek and struck Okeana about where that village now stands. Here it crossed Dry Fork and took the direction of Venice. Most of the roads formed a junction at Dick's or Shaw's ford on the Big Miami, about one-half mile above where the bridge now stands, but which at that time was an unthought-of affair. For some of the farmers to reach market who lived in the south-west corner of the township, a crossing was made at New Baltimore in Crosby Township, of the adjacent county.
It would be difficult at this late day to tell which of these highways was the most prominent, but during the Fall and Winter seasons the trace road was unmistakably used much more by hog-drivers than any other thoroughfare in the township. There is now a free turnpike leading from Harrison, in Hamilton County, to the Scipio and Millville pike, which for most of the way follows the section line one mile west of the Indiana line. This road caused much litigation, and was the cause of sending a forger to the penitentiary for ten years. There is another well used from New London to Millville. A good pike--a toll road--runs from Scipio to Millville. Many of the roads are very good.
For forty years or more there has been an omnibus run daily between New London and Cincinnati. The Western Stage Company carried on staging 35 years ago. John R. BEVIS was an early proprietor; from him it passed into the hands of his brother, Jesse C., who quite recently sold out to Charles SHIELDS, who, in turn, sold to Clements BUTTERFIELD. In former days, before the time of pikes, an old-fashioned leather-spring stage was run between Cincinnati and Connersville. The trip was made in three days. Frederic GEORGE was among the first and most permanent drivers.
The first land entered in Morgan Township was by Edward BEBB. It was a half-section in Section 27. The first blacksmith, as well as the first miller, in the neighborhood of Paddy's Run was James NICHOLAS. In 1831 he moved to Allen County, Ohio, and was one of the first settlers in that large and prosperous community of Welsh people. John VAUGHN built the first barn and brick house in the settlement in 1816; they are yet standing. During 1803 there settled on Dry Fork and Paddy's Run the families of Jacob PHILLIS, John and Samuel HARDEN, Bryson BLACKBURN, George DRYBREAD, John HOWARD, and Thomas MILHOLLAND. BLACKBURN was a blacksmith. His customers found their own iron and steel, which he hammered into axes, hoes, butcher-knives, and so on, with a brawny arm and skillful hand. "A clock-case, now owned by Mrs. Mary VAUGHN, made for her father, Edward BEBB, by Stephen HAYDEN, in 1804, shows the ingenuity and taste of this pioneer cabinetmaker. It is made of cherry slabs, dressed as best he could, overcoming the want of a saw-mill with a whipsaw. For over 70 years it has been the cozy home of a brass clock which Mrs. BEBB brought from Wales 79 years ago. This venerable clock was a great curiosity to the Indians, who frequently visited Mr. BEBB's cabin. Captain William D. JONES brought the first stock of goods into the township on a packhorse, and opened a place of business near where the turnpike crosses Paddy's Run. His business was conducted chiefly on the bartering basis, as specie was very scarce. The first physicians were Doctors SLOAN, of Fairfield; MILLIKIN, of Hamilton; and CROOKSHANK, of Harrison. They practiced as early as 1806, and were eminent in their profession and useful in the community. In 1808 Maxwell PARKINSON officiated as justice of the peace, probably appointed by the Governor."
William D. JONES was the first storekeeper in the village. His place of business was in a little log-house one and one half stories high, opposite the store where Frederic OLIVER now keeps. This house was about 18 by 20 feet, and is now gone. George HUBBELL was another storekeeper in a house, part of which was frame, opposite ALYEA's. William WHITE came soon after HUBBELL, who, also, was his son-in-law. CLARK & PEARSON, THOMPSON & HODSON, were firms prominently engaged here in commercial pursuits. Then came Aaron McGHANEY, Samuel & James FYE, Cornelius BARTLOW, Charles FOSSETT, MILLER & JAQUISH, SMITH & DeARMOND, William R. MERCER, FOSSETT & SNYDER, SORTMAN & HODSON, and others. There is now but one store in the village, which has already been mentioned.
The original taverns of this part of the township were rude affairs. Scipio was always a great stopping point for travelers, many of whom came from near Connersville, and the interior counties. William D. JONES, a Welshman, kept the first tavern in the village in a two-story log-house, exactly where the public scales are now. His sign was a cross & compass. Reuben CONAWAY, in 1836, had a very large public-house which stood on the hill where Mr. John BEARD now lives. The house was a two-story log building; he also sold whisky, cigars, and tobacco; and it is worthy of a remark that his accounts were kept behind the counter in full view of his customers, by the use of chalk and a blackboard. Paul CLOVER had a "regular tavern" in a frame house on the Indiana side, about 1842. James JOHNSON came next in the same house; and then Griffin ABRAHAM, who was the last. All these men did a good business. James BEARD had a small place of entertainment in 1836, and for three years thereafter, near the scales.
Michael McCARTY was the first blacksmith in this region. His shop was on the Indiana side, near the foot of the hill. He was here again some ten or twelve years after he first left. Joshua NYE had the second shop, opposite Jeremiah CONN's present residence. Then came James THOMPSON, in a stone shop opposite OLIVER's store. The present shop was built by Elias GASTON, & is now occupied by I. P. LINNING.
A carding-mill was owned by William D. JONES, which stood on the Ohio side,
was run by horse-power. As early as 1830 George HUBBELL had a grist-mill on
Dry Fork, a
quarter of a mile below town. He soon added a flaxseed oil-mill, which was
run for five or
six years. The oil-mill was a frame, while the grist-mill, of course, was a
log building. The
oldest mill in this part of the township was built in 1810 by Jeremiah
quarters of a mile below Scipio. It had an overshot wheel eighteen feet in
stood on the east side of the creek. At first the mill stood on posts,
which in time rotted; and
in order to build a saw-mill, stone were used for a foundation. John HYDEE
FRENCH, who also was followed by Jesse SMITH & HOLLIBUT, both of whom were
Yankees. SMITH was a mill-wright by trade. The old FRENCH mill ceased
than 40 years ago. Below FRENCH's Mill a few rods, Levi SPARKS built a
He had his corn ground at the mill above. Mr. Thomas SHROYER kindly
furnishes the following:
"On Howard's Creek, near the Hamilton County line, there was a distillery run by Joseph BOGGETT, and about twenty rods north was another by James CARLTON, Sen. One mile further up the creek was one by John HOMMER, Sen. About one mile north of this one, near where the Macedonia Church now stands, John MISNER had a still-house. From there we go to the headwaters of Dry Fork, near the State line, just south of Scipio; here was one by SMITH & HOLLIBUT, and a little further down, one carried on by Reuben GEORGE, Sen. Near where the new bridge on the Biddinger Turnpike crosses the creek was another by James JENKINS, & near the residence of Jacob KEEN was one more by Reuben GEORGE, Jr. Just west, one mile of this one, on the old HANLY farm, was another, owned by John PHILLIPS. Below Okeana were two more, belonging to Charles SHIELDS & Alexander DeARMOND. Two miles further down was another, owned by Jacob BRANDENBURG. Mr. BRANDENBURG was scalded to death at his distillery more than 45 years ago. The old site is now on the farm owned by Jonathan HALL. One-half mile below was another, on the property of Hugh SMITH. John ISEMINGER was the originator of this. The whisky was made in large copper stills, six bushels per day being the capacity of each house. Twelve gallons of the real old-fashioned whisky was a good day's work. The price was twelve and eighteen cents per gallon. Besides the above list of still-houses, there was a still on the VANTREES farm, where a superior article of peach brandy was made. Neighbors took their peaches here for miles around, and had them made up on the shares. This brand is reported to have been of a superior quality."
It is well to state that peaches grew here spontaneously early in the present century. There were large quantities of apples raised also, which were turned into apple brandy. Wild plums, wild gooseberries, wild currants, haws, and wild crab-apples were scattered over the country in abundance.
Jabez HAMILTON, William LUDLOW, & Harvey HANN were early distillers in the immediate vicinity of Scipio. The old Reuben GEORGE distillery, opposite where James GWALTNEY now lives, closed with James DAVIS. Below the JENKINS still-house was a fulling-mill by Mr. THOMAS,who made many a wedding garment for the young men in the township in early times. This mill was converted into a dwelling-house.
Scipio had for its first school-house a log building. The school was taught by John CAVENDER, who was an excellent penman, in 1822. This house was in the upper side of the town. Rev. Moses HORNADAY, one of the early Baptist preachers in the Miami and Whitewater Valleys, was a school-teacher here after CAVENDER. James OSBORN, an Irishman, was also one of the first teachers. Some of his scholars were Joseph P. JONES, Anna JONES, Newton BUTLER, & John BEARD. The old school-house was used for about 15 years, then being converted into a wagon-maker's shop. The DAVIS district, as it is commonly called, was among the first to have a system of popular education.
Scipio can hardly boast of a resident physician during her eventful history. Dr. JAMES was for many years a physician living on the Indiana side. He was an excellent man. Dr. THOMAS, a resident of New London, was one of the first practitioners in this vicinity. Dr. BERRY, who now resides near Brookville, is one of the oldest men in his section. He practiced medicine here many years ago.
Dr. GOFF, an Englishman, was at one time a resident of the village. Dr. CLEAVER, of Drewersburg, was a citizen of the village at one time; also, Drs. JAMES, CHITWOOD, Van McHENRY, & BOYD. Dr. CARNAHAN was here in 1838. There are no resident physicians at present. Adjacent towns supply this need.
The Scipio Odd Fellows' Lodge was chartered in September, 1875, with the following members: F. OLIVER, A. B. HODSON, Paul APPLEGATE, Marion SMITH, Marion DAVIS, John WYNN, W. R. JENKINS, W. R. HODSON, & John MECUM. This lodge is an outgrowth of neighboring lodges. About $500 of the money which built the hall was given by similar institutions. A. B. HODSON advanced the funds and acted as contractor, the members paying him for the use of the hall, which is over one of the old stores. There are now about 40 members; officers are as follows: Paul APPLEGATE, N.G.; F. OLIVER, V.G.; A. B. HODSON, Treas.; W. R. JENKINS, Sec.
William JONES was the first postmaster in Scipio, or more properly Philanthropy. Scipio is wholly on the Indiana side, while Philanthropy is on the Ohio side. Jones had the post-office in his old tavern. About 1840 it was removed to the store kept by Reuben GEORGE and John A. APPLEGATE. The next move was across the street, in Thomas WATSON's tailor- shop. From there it went to BOYD's store, and in turn to the store under the Odd Fellows' hall, about 1850. Since the last move there have been various changes, most of the time remaining on the Indiana side. There is no other post-office in the U. S. by the name of Philanthropy. A list of the postmasters is found under the head of Reily. The town lies on the dividing line.
The Scipio church was built in 1860, by four different denominations, the Methodist Episcopals, Presbyterians, Baptists, and United Brethren. Of these churches the Methodist is the oldest. Their first place of worship was in Indiana, principally in the houses of the early settlers. The Rev. Mr. BIGELOW was among the first of their preachers. Some of the members were Edward BLACKER, Isaac WOODS, James BARTLOW, Matthew SPARKS, James McKAW, and Benjamin WOODS. The Baptist church is second in age. For their first preachers they had Moses HORNADAY, who lived near Harrison, in Hamilton county; Wm. TYNER, Mr. GARD, & Joseph FLINT. Among the members were Lot ABRAHAM, James BEARD, & John SMITH, Sen. Their first place of worship was in Reily Twp., at the old Indian Creek Baptist church. The Presbyterians and United Brethren have little in the shape of history. Their original members have removed to other localities or died.
The following are inscriptions from the Scipio cemetery, which lies near the church, embracing about 3 acres of land: John FYE, born February 3, 1781; died November 10, 1825. Catharine, his wife, died November 8, 1878, aged 88. These two persons are among the pioneers of this locality. Dr. A. B. JAMES, died May 23, 1871; aged 68. Dr. JAMES was for many years a prominent physician in this neighborhood. James L. DAVIS, died August 23, 1856; aged 59. Sarah Jane DAVIS, died August 23, 1856; aged 59. Sarah Jane DAVIS, died March 24, 1869, aged 71. Patrick BLACKER, died April 26, 1879; aged 77. Margaret BLACKER, died April 27, 1875; aged 72. Robert BLACKER, died March 1, 1810, aged 63. Nancy BLACKER, died March 18, 1850; aged 88. These two persons were from Ireland, and were the original founders of the BLACKER family in this section.
The original road from Hamilton to Brookville passed through Scipio. James BEARD was the first supervisor on this highway. He "blazed" the road from Auburn to Scipio. Mr. BEARD is now dead. He lies in the BEVIS Cemetery, in Colerain Twp. His widow is now the wife of Samuel P. WITHROW, of Seven-Mile, both in the full enjoyment of ripe old age.
Among the first residents of the village were the sons of Benjamin LLOYD, Samuel, William, & Alexander, the latter of whom was a storekeeper on the corner where J. E. BOZE now resides. Charles SHIELDS was storekeeper here in 1845, in the house now occupied by James APPLEGATE. JENKINS & EVANS were here as commercial men in the BOZE residence before LLOYD. William WRIGHT was another business man in Okeana, in a one-story house which stood in the forks of the road. The building was removed, and afterwards was occupied for a dwelling, but is now deserted. Henry BRANDENBURG, on of the noted storekeepers of the place, bought the store goods and real estate of Samuel LLOYD, and in 1873 or 1874, erected the present fine building where the PHELLIS Brothers keep. William MERCER was a storekeeper here at one time; he was followed by Samuel GWALTNEY. Thomas & Charles JONES were here also for some time, in the old SHIELDS property. William DeARMOND had a little store in the yard of the SHIELDS estate. Then came Jeremiah DAY in the same house. In 1850, or thereabouts, Alexander DeARMOND and Joseph SMITH were here engaged in selling dry goods and groceries. The present storekeepers are J. W. PHELLIS and Perry CLAWSON.
One of the first places of entertainment in sight of the village was kept by William JENKINS, in a log-house where Charles SHIELDS now lives. The tavern stand was made up of log barns and stables with clapboard roofs. JENKINS also had a still-house. Mr. Joseph CLAWSON, of the village, says there was a time when 16 still-houses were in active operation in Morgan Twp. Four of them were on Dry Fork between Okeana and Scipio. Most of them had disappeared before 1845. One of the most remarkable of these mills was built by David GRIFFITH, on Dry Fork; it was used principally for sawing, and was what is known as a tub-mill--at that day a very uncommon affair.
The blacksmiths in Okeana have been James BOWMAN, who was here in 1845; William PIERCE, Mr. ROLAND, Alex. FROST, Mr. STOUGHTON, Thomas HUGHES, a Welshman & a fine mechanic; John LOOKER, Mr. DOTY, who now resides near Venice; Stephen MULLEN, who is here at present; & Louis WILHELM, but now in other parts. There were helpers frequently, who came to remain but a few months during the Summer season.
Dr. Benjamin MORRIS was, perhaps, the first resident physician within the boundaries of the village. Dr. MORRIS was here about 1847. He died in this township six or eight years ago, and is buried in New London. Eli PARKHURST was another physician. He moved to Cumminsville, Hamilton Co., OH, four or five years since, & died in 1881. Dr. H. L. ARMSTRONG was here later. He married Miss Ella FITZPATRICK, of New Baltimore, in 1880, & is now living in Indiana. Dr. MARTIN, from Kentucky, was also a resident physician, and a good man; he is now in the West. Dr. NEWTON, formerly of Mt. Carmel, Indiana, is the present physician.
Many of the first township elections were held at Wm. JENKIN's tavern. In time the voting- place was changed, and the ballots cast at the residence of James DeARMOND. Several years before the late war the township house was built by a special tax. Since its erection it has been used by the shows which travel over the country; for village singing-schools and concerts; and, during the Winter of 1881 & 1882, for a school-house for the small children of the district.
The earliest record of Methodism in this field was found in the possession of A. Jackson YOUMANS, a member of the Venice Church. The record was begun and kept for many years by Peter YOUMANS, who was prominent lay member of the Church when Methodism was being planted in the Whitewater & Miami Valleys. The YOUMANS record dates back to 1817, when the territory now included was embraced in the Whitewater circuit. The Ohio Conference then contained all of Ohio, portions of Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, & Indiana. All the country at that time lying north of the Ohio River, and between the Great Miami and Whitewater Rivers, was embraced in one circuit.
In 1817 Moses CRUME was appointed presiding elder, and Benjamin LAWRENCE preacher in charge. In 1818 that part of the circuit which was between the Ohio River on the south, & the Miami River on the east, and the State line on the west was detached & embraced in the Miami circuit.
The probabilities are that the Okeana Church was organized at the residence of old Peter YOUMANS, who resided at that time on Paddy's Run, above New London, near the Brookville road. One authority says, preaching was held at Mr. CARMACK's before YOUMAN's was made a regular place of worship. The Church, at that time, 1817, went by the name of the Ephraim CARMACK Society. In 1829 the place of worship was changed to the house of Peter YOUMANS, one mile north-west of New London. In 1849 the place of worship was removed to Hickory Chapel. In 1851 a subscription was taken to build a church in Okeana. The house was built & dedicated in 1853. M. KAUFFMAN was the pastor in charge. On the day of dedication, the Rev. Thomas A. GOODWIN, of Brookville, IN, delivered the discourse. The Hickory Chapel Society was then removed to Okeana, & since has been known as the Okeana Society. In 1857 a powerful revival was conducted under the Rev. M. BITLER & the Rev. D. GRIFFIS. A great many were admitted into the Church. This Church, says the record, has always been unfortunate in its situation, surrounded often by a critical public, & sometimes molested from within.
Among its early members were Ephraim CARMACK & wife, Peter YOUMANS, wife, & several of his family; Joseph BLAIR, who for many years was class-leader; Henry MILLER, wife, & family; Mrs. BRIGHTWELL, who married John VAUGHN, both of whom are now dead, & others. The present condition of this Church is prosperous, with some forty members. The Rev. E. A. EASTON is in charge. Preaching once every two weeks.
About the year 1840 Gershom RUDE, who was preaching at the Christian Church at Harrison, as well as working at the blacksmith trade, made occasional visits to the neighborhood of Macedonia, & preached to the people of that section in the old school-house district No. 4. In 1850 a new house was built, John HARPER giving the ground & fifty dollars in cash, the members & friends assisting in various other ways. John McLAIN walked two miles every night, after doing a day's work, & split the lath. Among the pastors who have had charge of the Church are the following, in their order: Elders RUDE, BALARIDGE, CAMPBELL, PATTERSON (the latter for 20 years), James & Jonathan HENRY. Elder Knowles SHAW, the distinguished singing evangelist, visited the place several times. Elizabeth PHILLIPS & her sister, Catherine MCLAIN, were the first persons baptized at the place. Among the old veterans of the Church, only Mr. & Mrs. Allen McLAIN are left. Both are in their 79th year, and have been married 55 years. Macedonia, in its greatest prosperity, numbered over 200 members. Elder J. M. LAND, of Harrison, is the present minister in charge. A Sunday-school is kept up most of the time, sustained regardless of denominations. Near the church is one of the old school-houses of the township. The BIDDINGER free turnpike crosses here also. Following are inscriptions from the cemetery:
Elizabeth, wife of Hugh SMITH, died October 5, 1858; aged 70. John PHILLIPS, died October 31, 1859; aged 51. Elizabeth, wife of John PHILLIPS, born August 27, 1806; died August 22, 1873. Rhoda GOBLE, born January 13, 1789; died December 20, 1873. In memory of Jane LAUGH, who died September 15, 1865; aged 81. Samuel LAUGH, born July 23, 1785; died February 20, 1853. John HARPER, died July 26, 1858; aged 71. Hannah, wife of John HARPER, was born August 10, 1796; died August 22, 1846. Permelia, wife of John HARPER, died December 7, 1862; aged 62. William McLAIN, Jr., born November 15, 1801; died February 16, 1869. Absalom McKEAN, died June 17, 1874; aged 61.
There are many unmarked graves here, perhaps as many as 75. The gable-end of the church, which is frame, bears this: "And the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch."