Center Township

Center township

The points at which the first settlements in this Township were made cannot be ascertained. The first settlement is believed to have been made on Sunfish Creek by John Baker. It is believed he settled on the farm owned so long afterward by Isaac Barrett and later owned by Hayes Burkhead. Several improvements were made between the years 1805 and 1812. These improvements were made by John Baker, John Winland, Levin Okey, Peter Palmer and other settlers such as Elias and Joseph Jeffries, Jessie and Abraham Jackson, William Griffith, and Martin Baker. The descendants of Levin Okey held a prominent place in the political and social histories of Monroe County since Levin Okey was, for many years, a Justice of the Peace of Belmont County and a member of the first Board of Commissioners of Belmont County under the Constitution of 1802. After moving to this County, his sister, Sara, passed away in 1812. She was buried in Woodsfield -- this being the first interment in Woodsfield and, in all probability, the first in Center Township. Since there were only a few inhabitants, there were only seven people at the funeral besides the immediate family. In marked contrast was the funeral of her father, Levin Okey, who passed away on Jun 21, 1829. There were over 200 persons at his funeral. Elizabeth Okey, mother of Levin Okey, died on February 7, 1824, at 103 years of age. His wife passed away on February 7, 1829. Cornelius Okey (father of Judge William Okay and Judge John W. Okey) and Hannah Wiler were married on February 6, 1805 in Belmont County.

Due to the burning of the Monroe County Court House in 1867, there are no records in the Probate Court Office regarding early marriages. Among the first marriages were: Joseph Gadd, one of the first Auditors of the County, and Miss Henthorn; Daniel O'Connor and Rebecca Carrothers; and Elijah Patterson and Sarah Minor. It is probable that the first child born in Center Township was Sarah Jefferies, daughter of Elias and Deborah (Jackson) Jefferies, said birth being on September 25, 1816.

It is probable that the first grist mill erected in Center Township was built by Jacob Winland and afterward known as Minor's Mill. Mr. Winland built a mill on a site known as the Clingan Mill and he built another mill on a site known as the Pfalzcraft Mill. The Stephen Cisne Mill was a short distance below the Minor Mill. Further down the Creek, John Winland erected the first saw mill to which he attached a grist mill later, all of said mills being on Sunfish Creek. Jesse Jackson built a grist mill prior to 1820 on Crane's Nest Creek-- later known as Steed's Mill. Jeremiah Hollister had a horse power carding machine in Woodsfield around 1830.

Woodsfield was settled in 1812. The first Court House was built by James Carrothers, His contract with the Monroe County Commissioners was made in 1816 -- being for One Hundred Dollars for all the woodwork and Thirty-seven Dollars for the stone and other work costs. The Court House was located on the West side of the public square, The lower story was a jail and the upper story was used for a Court room-- the first Court being held in 1820. The Court Room afterwards was moved to the back of the upper story.

The second Court House was built of brick in 1828. David Scott was one of the principal contractors. A fire destroyed this Court Houst on the night of June 13, 1867. All records of the Probate Court were destroyed but most of the records of the Recorder's Office, the Treasurer's Office, the Auditor's Office, the Clerk's Office, and the Sheriff's Office were saved. On the morning of January 1, 1840, the Recorder's Office (then in a private residence) was burned and many of the records were lost.

In the year 1868, another Court House was built in the same location -- costing $40,000.00 and being credited to the County. While it was thought to be a heavy burden on the taxpayers, it was almost paid for when it was finally completed. The Court House was 66 by 88 feet and the height, to the square, was 39 feet and 90 feet to the top of the spire. All of the offices had fire-proof vaults.

The present Court House was built 50 years ago. The second jail was built of stone and brick in 1853. The third jail was built on the same ground in 1878, costing $10,000.00. This building included the Sheriff's residence.

The Infirmary Farm is located about one mile North of the County seat. It contains 120 acres upon which a substantial brick building was built in 1854. The main building contains two stories (40 feet by 80 feet) with two wings of one story each (22 feet by 50 feet).