The land on which SYMMES's Corners now stands was owned in 1836 by Celadon SYMMES, James GALBREATH, and James L. BEATY. The Corners is situated in Sections 3, 4, 33, and 34/ BEATY's land was in Sections 3 and 4; GALBREATH's in 33, and SYMMES's in 34. William HUNTER owned the north-west corner of Section 33 in 1855, and Lucinda POTTENGER the north-east corner of Section3. Section 4 was divided among the SYMMESes, or that portion of it which is now a part of the village.
The first house in the town was made of logs. It was built by the contractors of the turnpike for the accommodation of their hands. It stood in the south-western corner of the town, on the Widow POTTENGER's farm.
Abram BIRCH built the second house in the Corners, which was a frame, and stood on the north-west corner of Section 33.
Joseph R. SYMMES was the first village store-keeper. His house stood on the site where Benjamin SYMMES now lives. This store was destroyed by fire. Benjamin SYMMES erected the brick which he now occupies, and opened the first tavern, or rather house of private entertainment.
Creyton WILCOX was the second man who began to entertain the public, in a frame house in the south-west corner of the village. At that time there was an immense travel passing this way toward Cincinnati. Hog-drivers, whisky teams, four and six horse loads of flour and other merchandise, passed constantly from the neighborhood of Richmond, Eaton, Oxford, and all the interior country beyond.
Daniel ROSEBONE was a blacksmith where the village now is in 1831. John HUGHES was here in 1832. These were the first two mechanics in this vicinity.
The Old School Presbyterian Church, which now stands immediately south of the line which divides Sections Nos. 32 and 26, and in Hamilton County, was organized in SYMMES's Corners about forty-five years ago, with Benjamin SYMMES, Abram HUSTON, and John MESLER as leaders in the organization. Rev. Mr. PATTERSON, who preached here four or five years after the Church was organized, and Celadon SYMMES were also active in placing the Church upon a firm foundation. This Church was the outgrowth of the Venice, Springdale, and Hamilton Presbyterian Churches, and was built at the Corners to accommodate a sprinkling of all these societies. The old or first house is now standing. It cost one thousand one hundred and eighty dollars, and was built shortly after the organization of the society. Benjamin SYMMES gave the land -- one acre -- in the village for church purposes. In its best days this Church had some eighty odd members.
In the fifties the church in Hamilton County was built, in order more thoroughly to meet the wants of a majority of the members who lived in this vicinity. It is now used with regularity.
The Sunday-school in the first house was organized by William N. HUNTER, now dead, who was the first superintendent. Freeman G. CARY was also an active man in the same cause and office.
Joseph WALKER, an early settler on Section 5, two miles and a half south of Hamilton, on the River road, gave the first land for burial purposes at this point. There was about half an acres in the lot. This ground was opened as early as 1805, a child of Mr. WALKER's having died and being the first interment. At present there are some forty graves; the yard is seldom used, and is overgrown with briars and bushes.
In 1797 Celadon SYMMES and Judge BURNETT, of Cincinnati, gave half an acres of land each for burial purposes, half a mile east of the Corners. An infant child of Mr. SYMMES was the first interment here. About twelve years ago an addition of three-fourths of an acres was made. There are about one hundred and twenty-five burials in the ground at this time; the yard is not much used now.
Matthew HUESTON was the first tavern-keeper in the southern side of Fairfield Township. He purchased the land on which he lived of Judge SYMMES. HUESTON's tavern was a half a mile below SCHENCK's Station. Obadiah SCHENCK was in the same business at the same place in 1818, on the Springdale turnpike. In 1825 John G. REDSAKER opened, and for a good many years carried on, the tavern-keeping business a mile below SCHENCK's on the same road, in a frame house.
Benjamin MOORE shot the last black bear in the southern side of the township in 1833 or 1834. The animal had been chased from the east side of the county for a distance of about ten miles, and, having escaped from its pursuers, thought itself safe. It was seen, however, by some one, and the alarm was immediately given, whereupon the entire neighborhood turned out. Bruin took to a tree and was shot there by Mr. MOORE, assisted by Wilkinson BEATY.
Two of the oldest dwelling-houses in the neighborhood of SYMMES's Corner are the John WALKER house and the Joseph WALKER house. There were built in 1801. They are now weatherboarded and have the appearance of frame buildings. The former of these stands in Hamilton County, on the farm of William HILL; the latter in Fairfield, on the property of John GARVER.
The WALKER brothers were originally from Virginia, and when they came to Ohio were three in number. At their first settlement in the Miami Valley, near the mouth of the river, one of them was killed by the Indians. The perpetrators of the crime were not discovered until some years afterwards. It happened at a barn-raising near North Bend, in Hamilton County. The Indians were at this time on terms of comparative friendship with the whites. At this gathering of the people of the neighborhood, the Indian made it convenient to be present. In the drunken orgies which followed, they unsuspectingly told what a face Walker made and how he acted when he was killed. He was, they said, shot and then tomahawked. John and Joseph, after hearing the story, immediately left the raising for home. They secured their guns, and, while the Indians were leaving the country, dispatched two of them with balls from their rifles. It was said that these men avenged the death of their brother near the spot where he fell.
The killing of the Indians caused some measures to be taken for the arrest of the WALKERs. In order to escape, they came to the neighborhood of SYMMES's Corners, changed their name to WILSON instead of WALKER, and after a few months erected the houses we have described as now standing. Joseph WALKER's house is tolerably well preserved. These brothers had a fine hunting dog which they called WALKER. They were great hunters and took delight in the chase. After remaining in this neighborhood for a few years they returned again to their old name, by which they were known up to the time of their death. Their descendants are now no longer in this section.
Another village which has existed here for years is Furmandale, more commonly known by the name of Snaptown. It was formerly the seat of a large boarding-school, carried on by FURMAN, and at one time there was a distillery here. There is a union Sunday-school, presided over by Thomas SLADE.
The swampy region which lies south and east of Hamilton was for a long time a great injury to the surrounding country. This formed the head source of Mill Creek. Many years ago, however, under the direction of John W. ERWIN, ditches were dug, and the country drained, enhancing its value tenfold. Many ice-ponds are located in their neighborhood, and the cutting and sale of ice has cause the investment of much money.
The postmasters have been:
Symmes's Corners. -- Thomas R. WATERSON, April 10, 1843; Benjamin R. SYMMES, April 29, 1844. The name was changed to Union Corners May 31, 1861, and restored to SYMMES's Corners January 28, 1864. Robert H. COOK, January 28, 1864; Samuel KRIDER, January 8, 1866; John H. MESLER, January 11, 1869; John J. LINN, January 28, 1876; John BRINKMAN, December 11, 1876; Henry KEHUN, Aug 19, 1878.
Union Corners. -- Robert H. COOK, May 31, 1861.
Winton. -- Reuben T. BUTLER, March 14, 1850. Discontinued November 12, 1856.
Furmandale. -- Nathaniel FURMAN, December 12, 1857. Discontinued October 1, 1858.
The justices of the peace in Fairfield Township have been Celadon SYMMES, Jacob LEWIS, Isaac STANLEY, Joseph HUNTER, John VINNEDGE, Matthew HUESTON, John CASSIDAY, Joseph GASTON, James HEATON, William PATTON, Joseph LATTA, Samuel KENNEDY, Obadiah SCHENCK, Ezekiel McCONNELL, Dennis BALL, James O'CONNOR, John BURK, Jonathan PIERSON, Thomas MITCHELL, William HUNTER, Stephen MILLIKIN, Richard EASTON, Moore VINNEDGE, John HUNTER, Benjamin R. SYMMES, William SHEELEY, Jacob PIATTT, M. P. ALSTON, Milton COOPER.
McDONALD, PIATT, KERR, CANBY, BEARD, BLACKFORD, DEWEY, SULLIVAN, JONES, BUELL, CALDWELL, EVANS, ROACH, MORTON, VANCE, BOWLES, MILLIAGAN, HORSEY, BEBEE, PRATT, JACKSON, TELLER, WALLACE (Fairfield Twp., pp. 476-478)
Joseph Ewing McDONALD.
Joseph E. McDONALD, late Senator from IN, was born in Fairfield Twp., on the 29th of Aug 1819. His father, John McDONALD, was of Scotch extraction, a native of PA, & by occupation a farmer. He was a man of sterling worth, determined, industrious, & self-sacrificing. He died when his son was still in infancy. His mother, Eleanor (PIATT) McDONALD, was Pennsylvanian. Her ancestors were French Huguenots, who located first in NJ, & afterwards settled permanently in OH. She was a woman of superior order of intellect. She was a woman of refined tastes, a pleasant writer, &, for the amusement & advancement of her children, wrote many sketches & scraps of song. She & her husband were both earnest members of the United Presbyterian Church.
Several years after the death of John McDONALD she was married to John KERR, of Fairfield Twp. Mr. KERR was a native of Ireland, a frugal, industrious farmer always out of debt, a just & courteous neighbor, a firm but kind parent, & the father of 7 children, 4 sons & 3 daughters. He moved with his family to Montgomery Co., IN, in the Fall of 1826, entered land & opened a farm. He was a member of the Old School Presbyterian Church. He died in 1856.
Joseph was seven years old when, in 1826, his parents located in Montgomery Co., IN, then an almost unbroken forest. He remained on the place until the age of twelve, excepting two years spent at Crawfordsville attending school. Such spare time as he could command from his labors on the farm wa occupied in pursuing a course of study which aided much in laying the foundation for the eventful future in store for him. At an early age he conceived a strong love for the law, & when 10 years old he had determined upon making that profession his life work, at the cost of any personal hardship or sacrifice. In his twelfth year the ambitious aspirant for future honors at the bar became an apprentice at the saddler's trade at Lafayette, IN. In that capacity he served 5 years & 9 months, except three months spent in attending school. For fidelity to their interests his employers released him from the last three months of his apprenticeship, which time he spent in prosecuting his studies.
Following the resolution made before going to learn a trade, he pursued his studies with vigor as such times as he could snatch from work or rest. He had already become quite proficient in the English branches & rudiments of learning. His favorite study was history, in which he became well versed. During his apprenticeship he had access to the extensive & well selected library of Dr. Israel CANBY, who was then receiver of the public moneys of the land office at Crawfordsville, IN. This opportunity was well improved, & he was prepared when leaving there, in 1838, to enter upon advanced fields of knowledge.
At the age of 18 he entered Wabash College, at Crawfordsville, & began the study of the higher branches with success, supporting himself mainly by plying his trade at such times as it was possible to do so. He continued his studies at college till the Spring of 1840, except for a short period in the Spring of 1839, when he acted with the engineer corps of the State of IN, who were then surveying the bed for the Wabash & Erie Canal. In 1840 he entered Asbury University, at Greencastle, IN, & remained six months, returning to Crawfordsville, where he was the rest of the year, & taught school one term. In the Spring of 1841, he went to Williamsport, IN, taking a position as clerk in the store of James McDONALD, his brother, being there one year.
In the Spring of 1842 he began the study of law as Lafayette, IN, with Zebulon BEARD, one of the first lawyers in the State, as his preceptor. He advanced with rapid strides, his quick & firm grasp of its principles being remarkable. He was admitted to practice by the Supreme Court of IN, consisting of Judges BLACKFORD, DEWEY, & SULLIVAN, in the Spring of 1843. He was nominated for the office of prosecuting attorney before he received his license to practice, & was elected to that position at the August election following, over Robert JONES, a Whig, & a prominent member of the Lafayette bar. This was the first election of that class of officers by the people, they having formerly been chosen by the Legislature.
On the 25th of Dec 1844, he was married to Nancy Ruth BUELL at Williamsport, IN. She was the dau/o Doctor BUELL, a practicing physician & surgeon. The issue of this union was Ezekiel M., Malcolm A., Frank B., & Annie M. McDONALD, afterwards Mrs. CALDWELL, who died Jun 2, 1877.
He was re-elected prosecuting attorney over Robert EVANS, a prominent lawyer & politician, in Aug 1845, serving in all a period of 4 years. In the Fall of 1847 he moved to Crawfordsville & entered on the practice of law, where he lived until 1859. He was elected to the 31st Congress from the old 8th District in Aug 1849, & served one term. In 1856 he was elected attorney-general of IN, being the first chosen to this office by the people, & was re-elected in 1858, serving in all four years. He was not a candidate for a third term.
In the Spring of 1859 he removed to Indianapolis, (IN) forming a partnership with Addison L. ROACH, ex-judge of the Supreme Court of IN. In 1864 McDONALD was nominated for Governor of IN by the Democratic State Convention, & made a joint canvas with Oliver P. MORTON, the Republican nominee. At the election he received 6,000 more votes for Governor than the Democratic State ticket did in 1862, when the entire Democratic State ticket, together with a majority in both branches of the General Assembly, was elected. Mr. MORTON was elected, however, by nearly 20,000 votes.
In 1868 E. M. McDONALD became the law partner of his father, & the next year Addison L. ROACH retired from the firm. E. M. McDONALD died Jan 1, 1873. Frank B. McDONALD, his youngest son, has since become the law partner of Mr. McDONALD.
Senator McDONALD's wife died on Sep 7, 1872. On the 15th of Sep 1874 he married Araminta W. VANCE of Crawfordsville, who died Feb 2, 1875. He has lately been married for a third time.
Throughout his entire life he has strictly adhered to his resolution to follow the law & make a success of his profession. He has been engaged in some of the most important cases that have been tried in the State since his admission to the bar. He was of counsel for the defendants in the celebrated case of the U. S. vs. BOWLES, MILLIGAN, & HORSEY, tried for conspiracy & treason by a military commission at Indianapolis, & sentenced to be hung. The case was taken to the Supreme Court of the U. S., where several important constitutional questions arose as to the relation of the general government to the States, the war power of the government, & the rights of the citizen. The defendants were released by the Supreme Court. He was of counsel for the defendants in the noted case of BEBEE vs. The State, in which the Supreme Court decided that the enactment which was known as the Maine liquor law was unconstitutional. He was one of the attorneys for the parties who assailed the constitutionality of what was known as the Baxter liquor law. In the Supreme Court of the State & the federal court he has taken an active part in many important cases, one of the most important being the case of the Pittsburg, Cincinnati, & St. Louis Railroad Co. vs. The Columbus, Chicago, & Indiana Central Railway Co., in which was involved a network of railroad interests & large sums of money, depending upon the validity & construction of a 99 years' lease. He made the principal argument for the objectors in the count of the electoral vote of Louisiana before the Electoral Commission appointed to determine the result of the Presidential election of 1876. Mr. McDONALD thinks that the creation of this commission was the exercise of a doubtful power in a case of apparent necessity.
Joseph Ewing McDONALD was elected to the U. S. Senate for 6 years, to succeed Daniel D. PRATT, & took his seat Mar 5, 1875. He was chairman of the Committee on Public Lands, & the 2nd member of the Judiciary Committee of the Senate, & ranked as one of the best lawyers of that body. He is, & has always been a firm, consistent Democrat, of the Jefferson school, as personified in the political life of Andrew JACKSON. He was a member of the Senate committee which visited New Orleans to investigate the count of the vote of Louisiana in the contest of 1876. He was also on the TELLER-WALLACE committee to investigate frauds in elections in MA & RI. He was chairman of the Democratic State Convention IN 1868, & of the Democratic State Central Committee during the campaigns of 1868 & 1874.
As an orator, both at the bar & on the hustings, he is cool, logical, & forcible; as a citizen, he has the confidence & respect of all who know him, regardless of political creeds. He has traveled extensively in his own country, & is thoroughly acquainted with its institutions & people. He is a member of the Episcopal Church. He is regarded by all parties as a statesman of acknowledged merit. His views are broad & comprehensive on all questions of public interest; not a man of expedients, but stating his views clearly & boldly, leaving the result to the candid judgment of the people. The opinions of his most bitter opponents are never treated with disdain. Few men have enjoyed the uniform confidence of their fellow-citizens to the extent that he has.
ARMSTRONG (Fairfield Twp., p. 478)
Elbert ARMSTRONG, M.D., was born Aug 22, 1849, in Franklin Co., IN. He studied medicine in Cincinnati (Hamilton Co., OH), under his brother, Clinton L. ARMSTRONG, police surgeon, & graduated at the OH Medical College, Cincinnati, in 1875, practicing in Sandborn, Knox Co., IN, for one year. In 1876 he came to Butler Co., settling at Symmes's Corners, where he still remains. His great-grandfather on his mother's side, Henry CASE, & his two brothers, were soldiers in the Revolution, Henry being wounded in the thigh. He died in Springfield, Hamilton Co., years afterwards. John ARMSTRONG, his grandfather on his father's side, was in the War of 1812. His brother, Clinton L., was in the War of the Rebellion in the 82nd IN Regiment, Co. D, & was wounded in the thigh at the assault of Vicksburg, while placing the ladders for the scaling.
BEARD (Fairfield Twp., p. 478)
James BEARD, farmer, was born in PA in 1777. He was married in 1798, & had 4 children: John BEARD, born Dec 21, 1810; Jane SAMPLE, born Oct 9, 1806; Jacob BEARD, Dec 14, 1802; Perry BEARD, Jul 11, 1821. He moved to this county in 1807. His wife's name was Peggy, & she was a native of VA. John, Jacob, & Perry lived on the same farm that their father originally entered, & have been fortunate in life. W. L. BEARD, was in the military service, both in the Mexican War & during the Rebellion.
BLACKBURN, LYTLE, BUCHANAN, HAMILTON, LAKE (Fairfield Twp., p. 478)
James BLACKBURN, first sheriff of the county, was born in PA, in 1757, & was married to Sarah LYTLE, born in the same State in 1784. They came out to this country in 1800. Mrs. BLACKBURN's father was Sanderson LYTLE, & her mother Margaret. Mr. BLACKBURN had 5 children. Alexander lives in Fairfield; Margaret is the wife of James BUCHANAN, & lives in Indianapolis; Sarah lives in Fairfield; Mary Ann HAMILTON lives in Fairfield, as does Rachel, the widow of Israel LAKE. Mr. BLACKBURN was one of the leading members of the community. He held the office of sheriff & served on the school-board. He was a soldier of the Revolutionary War, being for 7 years in the transport service. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church. By occupation he was farmer, owning 320 acres of land in this county. He died in 1842, & his wife died in 1856.
BASSON, LUIKE, LUDEIKE, LEPAUX, SYMMES (Fairfield Twp., pp. 478-479)
Hector BASSON was born in France in 1817, settling in this county in 1865. His wife, to whom he was married in Hamburg, Germany in 1844, is a native of Hanover, where she was born in 1817. Her maiden name was Caroline LUIKE, & her parents were William & Louisa (LUDEIKE) LUIKE. They have had 6 children. Charles is married & lives in Liberty Twp.; Joseph lives in Richmond, IN; Hector is in Moline, IL; Antoinette is the wife of Aaron SYMMES of Fairfield Twp.; & Caroline and Hortense are at home. Mr. BASSON has held the office of township trustee in Cumminsville, & also in Fairfield. He was elected Captain in a company of Texas Rangers during the Mexican War, but owing to sickness was prevented from going out. His parents were Frederic Christophe & Antionette (nee LEPAUX) BASSON. When he first came to the U. S. he settled in Galveston, TX, & remained four years, coming in 1848 to OH, & settling in Mount Pleasant, Hamilton Co., where he began business as general store-keeper. In 1865 he moved to Symmes's Corners, where he kept a store, & in 1876 moved to his present residence in Furmandale, following the same business. Frederic Christophe BASSON, his father, was the oldest officer in the British army at the time of his decease, being a major in the infantry, commanding a battalion of French legitimists at the battle of Waterloo. He was also a colonel of cavalry during the Peninsular War. His father was a French Protestant, & emigrated from France to Westphalia, in Germany, where his son was born.
CLAWSON, VAIL, HANCOCK, HAIR, POCOCK, WEAVER, DEVOU, LOUTHAN (Fairfield Twp., p. 479)
James CLAWSON was born in Fayette Co., PA in 1795, & was married for the first time in 1816. His wife was Rebecca VAIL, born in PA in 1798, & dying in Butler Co. in 1869. He had 12 children, eight of whom reached maturity & married, & four of whom are still living. Stephen V. is married & lives in Liberty Twp. He was born Dec 26, 1819. Jephthah is married & lives in Fairfield Twp. He was born Jun 3, 1823. Wilson T. is married & lives in Liberty Twp. He was born Nov 21, 1829. Frederick D. is married & lives in Hamilton. He was born in 1841. Mary, wife of James HANCOCK, lives in Hamilton, & was born in 1843. Henderson is married & lives in Hamilton. He was born in 1846. John is single & lives at home. He was born in 1852. Jennie, the widow of Frank HAIR, was born Aug 17, 1855, & lives at home. Deziah, wife of Salem POCOCK, was born Apr 13, 1857, & lives in Hanover Twp. Mr. CLAWSON was married a 2nd time in 1869. His wife was Eliza WEAVER, born in Butler Co., in 1812, & dying in 1870. He was married a third time in 1871 to Mary A. DEVOU, widow of George W. LOUTHAN, born in Hamilton Sep 17, 1819. She is still living. Mr. CLAWSON came to OH from PA in 1802, & settled in Lemon Twp. with his father. He is a self-made man, having nothing when he began but a horse. He rented for the first three years, & bought a lot in Middletown, which he built on, & afterwards traded for 25 acres in Liberty Twp., which was his first farm. He has steadily added to this till he owns 615 acres in Butler Co., besides other property to a large amount. He has also assisted his children much. He is a member of the Baptist Church, having been so since the year 1812.