Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Muskingum County, Ohio

Chapter XXIV - Harrison Township

This section is taken from the book "Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Muskingum County, Ohio" by Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1892, Columbus, Ohio.

Harrison is bounded thus: North by Wayne, east by Blue Rock, south by the county line, and west by Brush creek. Its surface is broken and rough. Duncan's run, Back run, Blue Rock run and Sycomore run all have their sources in Brush creek township and flow eastwardly through Harrison township into the Muskingum. The highest elevations contain most limestone. The lowlands are quite productive, coal is abundant, but not easily mined. Jacob and Nathaniel Ayers bored the first saltwell in the township, in 1816, on section 10, township 11, range 13, on the west bank of the river, just above the mouth of Sycamore run. It was sunk four hundred feet. Later another well was sunk near by. These wells in time became the property of John Stevens, known as the Stevens Salt Works. Later still Jacob Neff assumed control and rebored the old well to a greater depth, rebuilt the furnace and put in improved machinery. The two wells operated at a comparatively recent date by William Edgely were formerly known as Stephen Guthrie's Salt Works. One of them was sunk by Stephen Guthrie for James Taylor, the other by Charles Lucas for Stephen Guthrie. Other wells in this township were bored by Michael Waxler for Moses Ayers, by Nehemiah Dillon, and by W. B. Culbertson. There were many others, not above specified.

A family named Bean in 1798 lived in a large sycamore hut that stood near the mouth of Black run, and are thought to have been the first settlers. They were followed early by Nathaniel Ayers, Samuel McBride, James Hemmett, Henry Ballou, Thomas Winn and James Neff. George Dutro lived on section seventeen in 1804, and about that time Jacob Baker came. It is thought that John W. Baer was the first blacksmith in this township. As "the Buckeye Blacksmith" he afterward became prominent politically. In 1827 William B. Rose had a "smithy" on Duncan's run. Later he had a shop on "the Island," where he made iron work for Mr. Taylor at the time of the erection of the mills. The first frame house in this township was erected by James Taylor, in 1830. Six years later Amos F. Whissen built the first brick house in the township, at Taylorsville.

The first survey for a road in Harrison was made from Taylorsville to Brush creek. The viewers were David Butt, John Oakes and Gearing Scarvell. In 1829, James Taylor constructed a dam across the river at Duncan's Falls, and at the same time built a sawmill on the west side of the river. In 1830 he put up a grist mill. When the Muskingum navigation was improved, the old dam was replaced by Col. James Sharp, under a contract with the state. After it had been in possession of several intermediate owners, the grist mill became the property of W. & W. H. Frazier. Among his other enterprises, Mr. Taylor kept a ferry and engaged in the manufacture of salt. One Bixby was the first physician in the township. His professional standing is uncertain. Dr. Noah L. Mercer is said to have been the first "regular" medical practitioner. Other early and later physicians were Doctors Mason, Clapp, Ballou, Wilkins, Huff, McCormick, Terran, Atwell, Howard, Groves, Suters, Milligan, Blackburn, Lyons, Ulrich, Henry, Dorr, Richie and Evans. The first public school house of which any authentic record is preserved, was a two story frame building erected in Taylorsville in 1834. Elsewhere will be found reference to the fact of the late President Garfield having taught school in this township. Henry Ballou, mentioned elsewhere in these pages, was a brother of Mr. Garfield's mother.

This township was organized December 20, 1839, under authority of the following order of the county commissioners: "A petition was presented by John Hammond, signed bv a majority of the householders residing within the boundaries of the proposed new townthip, and the commissioners, being satisfied that the necessary notice of such intended application had been given by advertisement, as required by law, proceeded to take the matter into consideration. The petitioners set forth that they labor under many difficulties and disadvantages in consequence of the distance and other difficulties they encounter in going to and from elections, and also praying that a new township may be set off of parts of Blue Rock, Brush Creek and Salt Creek townships; and the commissioners, believing it necessary for the convenience of the inhabitants and township officers, do hereby order a new township to be set off, according to the following boundaries, to-wit: Beginning at the southwest corner of section 14 in the original surveyed township number 10, in range number 13, and running thence north to the center of the Muskingum river; thence following down the center of said river, according to the meanderings thereof, to the line which divides the counties of Muskingum and Morgan; thence west on said line to the place of beginning--all in the congress district of lands--which shall constitute a new township to be called Harrison township. Also ordered by the commissioners that an election be held at the house of P. Burkhalter, in Taylorsville, on the 20th instant (being December 20, 1839), between the hours of 8 and 10 A. M., and close at 4 P. M., to elect township officers according to law." This order is dated December 4, 1839. The new township thus formed comprised that portion of Blue Rock township lying west of the Muskingum river in range 12, one row of sections from the eastern part of Brush Creek township in range 13, and one section of Salt Creek township lying west of the river. It was named by John Hammond, in honor of Gen. William Henry Harrison. The first justices of the peace were J. W. Whisson and William Price. Henry Ballou and "Squire" Groves were also early justices.

Taylorsville is an incorporated village pleasantly situated on the west bank of the Muskingum, and also on the line of the Zanesville & Ohio River railroad, in the extreme western part of Harrison township, nine miles south of Zanesville. It is a clear, healthy location, surrounded by a rich farming country, and has the advantage of river navigation and express and telegraphic communication. One of the oldest villages in this part of the state, Taylorsville's importance as a trade center was widely recognized. Under railway influence her interests are improving, and the development of her natural resources, coal and potter's clay, seem probable in the early future. The postoffice was established in 1850, with Dr. Fearnes as postmaster.

James Taylor was the founder of Taylorsville (laid out in 1833), from whom the town derives its name. He previously built the dam and also a grist-mill, it having six run of buhrs, and had a large custom. Above the mills a sawmill was erected also by Mr. Taylor. William Bagley, from Morgan county, erected a woolen-mill, which was subsequently bought by James and Robert Brown. The woolen-mill now occupies a different site, and is used as a grist-mill. Gearing Scarvell was the surveyor who laid out the town. Mr. Taylor was a public-spirited man, who when he came possessed considerable means; reverses, however, swept away his fortune, and he died a poor man. He lived at Duncan's Falls, opposite Taylorsville, and there ended his days. Gearing Scarvell was the first merchant. He carried a general stock, and also dealt largely in coal. Philip Sheppard was the next merchant, and also carried a general stock. Robert Sheppard was the first school-teacher. The school was held in private houses for several years till a schoolhouse was built. William B. Rose was the first blacksmith. He met a violent death at the hand of a murderer, a man named Annon, who was tried, convicted and sentenced to a term in the penitentiary. Gearing Scarvell probably built the first house in Taylorville.

The Taylorsville canal is a part of the system of "improvements in the navigation of the Muskingum." It is a mile in length, and was constructed for the state by Lyons, Buck & Wolf, contractors, the work under the supervision of Christley Wolf, having been completed in 1840. The rocks are 36 feet wide and 200 feet long.

The Taylorsville bridge was projected by Gearing Scarvell in 1873 and was originally intended to be a private enterprise; but the county commissioners took it in hand and it was begun July 1, 1874, and finished in about four and one-half months. T. B. Townsend, of Zanesville, was the stonework contractor, and the superstructure was erected by the Smith Bridge Company, of Toledo, Ohio. The entire structure cost about $28,000, and it is noted for its great length, about 800 feet.

Taylorsville was for a long time a mission of the Catholic church of Zanesville. A church was erected in 1836 and dedicated by Bishop Purcell. It is a frame building 25x4O feet. The contractor was Anton Erbst, and the cost was $1,000. From that time this congregation which at different times has numbered from 75 to 100 souls, has been supplied with a local or regular pastor. The parish and church are known as "St. Anna's."

A Methodist Protestant class of fifteen or twenty members was organized in 1842, by Rev. Nathaniel Linder, who preached in the woods near the Hiram Price place now. Among the members were Robert Welch and his wife and two daughters, Peter Mohler and family, James Morrison and wife, Mrs. David Young, Isaiah Dennis and his wife, Robert Twyman and Joseph Fish. In 1843, a revival under the preaching of Revs. James Winn and J. Huntsman brought the membership up to 112, and a church house was erected on land furnished by Mathias Young, near the center of section 30. It was a frame building, 24x28. In 1869 it was replaced by another structure, 24x38, which cost $1,109, and was dedicated in May, 1870, by Revs. George H. Helsey and J. C. Ogle. St. John's Evangelical Lutheran church was organized April 11, 1878, with fifty members, by Rev. Andrew Birch. In October, 1878, a lot was purchased in Taylorsville and a church building was begun. The cornerstone was laid the following spring, and the church was completed and dedicated September 28, 1879, Rev. H. Cramer, of Zanesville, preaching a sermon in German and Prof. M. Loy delivering an address in English. The building cost $1,000.

The first class of the Blue Rock Methodist Episcopal church was founded by Rev. Samuel Hamilton, with Joseph Kirk as leader. Among the original members were Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Barringer, Mr. and Mrs. John Hammond, Mr. and Mrs. James Shauer, Mr. and Mrs. John W. Baer, Mr. and Mrs. John White, and Susan Adams. The first house of worship was a primitive log affair, 2Ox25 feet, and stood between the forks of Blue Rock creek, on section 11. A frame building was erected near the old site in 1852. It was larger, its demensions being 26x30. The membership of this church has ranged between sixty and nearly a hundred.

This township is part of the Muskingum County Township Project, and is maintained by Denny Shirer

Last Revised: July 4, 2002

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