The County Seat

The commissioners, appointed by the Legislature in 1814 for the purpose of establishing a seat of justice for the County, decided upon Woodsfield as the place. Prior to the time the County was erected, Archibald Woods of Wheeling, West Virginia; George Paul of St. Clairsville, Ohio; and Levi Barber of Marietta, Ohio, owned land in the territory which is now comprised of the County. They sought to have a new County organized and, accordingly, in 1812, selected the site where Woodsfield now stands. It was in that year that the Town of Woodsfield was surveyed and platted. At that time, Woodsfield was nothing but a wilderness. Woodsfield was properly named -- whether from its location in the woods or from one of the properties is a matter of opinion -- but it was named for a man named Mr. Woods.

In examining a Post Office guide, no other Woodsfield can be found in the United States, while there are twenty-six states having a Springfields; ten states having a Woodstock; eleven states having a Woodlawn; four states having a town by the name of Wood; eight states having a Woodland; and nine states having a Woodford.

Older citizens disagree as to the location of the first house in the village of Woodsfield and as to who built the first house. It is agreed, however, that it was built on the East side of Main Street or on the North side of Main Cross Street. The first building was thought to have been a tavern owned by Spencer Biddle -- being the first tavern in Woodsfield.

The following was read before the Monroe County Historical Society by the Honorable William F. Hunter on January 4, 1860 (being 82 years ago):

"Woodsfield, forty years ago (that's 122 years ago now), consisted of 18 houses -- 6 of which were hewed log houses -- the rest being cabins. The householders of Woodsfield, in the fall of 1818, were Patrick Adams; James Carrothers, whose son, George W., was the first child born in Woodsfield; Joseph Driggs; Ezra Driggs; John Snyder; Anson Brewster; James Phillips; Messrs. Sayes, Michael, and Davis; John Coll; Henry H. Mott; Stephen Lindley; John King; Henry Jackson; Amos B. Jones; David Pierson; and Mrs. A.G. Hunter.

Early in 1819, Nicholas and Daniel Frankhauser and their families left their home near Trub, Switzerland, to begin a long journey. They first went to Bern where they, together with eight other Swiss families, embarked on a flat boat and moved down the Aar River to the Rhine River and continued thence to the City of Antwerp.

After some delay, they set sail from Antwerp during the third week of May, taking passage on a three-masted French vessel, the Eugenius. A few days after their departure, Mrs. Daniel Fankhauser gave birth to a baby boy. Due to the circumstances surrounding his birth, he was named Jacob Ocean Fankhauser. Mrs. Fankhauser received many presents of provisions from the captain and from other members of the crew.

Near the forty-sixth parallel, the ship encountered much rain, snow, and stormy weather. After this experience, Nicholas remarked that he would not be a sailor for all the wealth in the world although he would rather cross the ocean twice than sail down the Rhine River once. After experiencing several days of fog, land was soon located on the morning of July 20.

After landing at New York, the Fankhauser family and five other Swiss families went to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, where they purchased four oxen and two wagons. They loaded baggage on one wagon and they put the women and children on the other wagon. On August 6, they began their 600 mile journey westward -- passing through Bethlehem, Reading, Lebanon, Bedford, Sonerset, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Wheeling, West Virginia.

Upon arriving at Wheeling, West Virginia, they took a boat down the Ohio River and landed approximately twenty miles down stream near what is now known as Powhatan Point, Ohio. It was here that they were informed that there was plenty of government land in Monroe County. The two Fankhauser families and several other members of the party decided to settle in what is known now as Switzerland Township."