Source: The Zanesville Courier, Zanesville, Muskingum Co., Ohio
Saturday, November 10, 1877, page 1, columns 1-3
Contributed by Ky Longley
The Early History of Zanesville
For the Courier,
Mr. James Herron came to Zanesville in the spring of 1802, and purchased four lot-on the southwest corner of Sixth and Main streets, running south to Cypress alley, west to Sewer alley, from Martin Luther Lawdor Slagor, for three hundred and fifty dollars. His brother David, a hatter by trade, moved to Zanesville in 1803, built a large hewed log house in Mud hollow, on the grounds were C. Winters formerly and W.A. Burke now keeps a saloon, and here carried on the manufacture of hats, in partnership with his brother James, in one part of the building. The first hatter in Zanesville was Mr. Molsberry, who lived in Natchez, or what is now known as the Seventh ward of the city of Zanesville, in 1806. He had a daughter by the name of Lucinda Molsberry, whom Aunty McIntire raised from a child. Through the aid of Aunty McIntire she received a good education, and was well known to the early citizens of Zanesville, and finally married a prominent merchant of this city. David Herron manufactured the first hats ever made in Zanesville, and James Herron manufactured the first brick every made in Zanesville, in 1802. In the following year he made another kiln of bricks, Mr. Brazilla Rice, a New Englander, superintending the making and burning, on the ground at the head of Main street - the same ground now being occupied by the wagon and blacksmith shop below 'Squire Herschy's residence. Afterwards Mr. Brazilla Rice made several kiln of brick at the head of Marietta street. In the summer of 1803 James Herron built a large hewed log house on the corner of Sixth and Main streets, known in the early times as Herron's corner.
Robert Taylor moved to Zanesville in the fall of 1803, and kept hotel in this building until the fall of 1808 or 1809. Mr. Herron boarded with him. Mr. Herron was never married, but enjoyed the sweets of single blessedness all the days of his life. He was full of sport, and a great wag. He had a nickname for all the citizens, and especially the politicians who differed with him on political questions. If a friend, he was the best of friends, warmhearted, kind and obliging; but if a man incurred his enmity he never forgave him.
An enemy once, was an enemy for live with him. He was an Irishman, and as jolly an Irishman as ever walked the streets of Zanesville. I have often heard ladies say that in coming up the street, if they saw James Herron sitting in front of his building, they would pass to the other side of the street, so much did they dread his droll remarks. He and his brother David disagreed in settling up the affairs of the partnership in the hatting business and town lots, and went to law. The case was in court several years. David spent all his property, including a small farm near Zanesville, in prosecuting the suit, and finally moved to Chillicothe. I have heard the early settlers speak of this terrible law suit. In the early part of the year of 1812, James Herron was commissioned as Captain in the regular army, and acted as recruiting officer in Zanesville for some time. When he had recruited ten or fifteen men, he would forward them to Chillicothe, the rendevous at that time for recruits. The first recruiting station in Zanesville was located in Mud hollow, where David Herron formerly lived, and afterwards in a frame house on South Fifth street, near the residence of Mrs. J. V. Cushing.
Captain Herron had oftentimes recruits whom he found it difficult to teach the first rudiments of a military education. At one time he had under training an unusually awkward squat. When he gave the command: Right! Left! Right! Left! some of them did not know the right foot from the left, and the captain got out of patience, and ordered a sergeant to go and bring a bundle of hay, and a bundle of straw and bound a handful of straw on the left foot of each recruit, and a handful of hay on the right foot. He impressed it upon the minds of recruits that the straw was on the left foot and the hay on the right, and gave the command: Straw foot! Hay foot! Straw foot! Hay foot! After practising this exercise for some time, he reminded them again that the straw was on the left foot, and the hay on the right, and gave the command Left! Right! Left! Right! and the boys acquitted themselves with so much honor that the straw and hay were removed. In teaching them to dress in line he would command: Eyes right! but some of them not seeming to know which direction was right, were certain to turn their heads in the opposite direction.
Not being able to get them to form in a straight line, he would take his sword and draw it in front of them, and back them up against a board fence and keep them there until they learned how to dress. Captain Herron was considered a hard drill master. He wanted every man to move promptly when the command was given.
Captain Herron was never in an engagement during the war. He was stationed at Fort Meigs when it was besieged by the British. I have heard old soldiers say that if Captain Herron had ever gone into battle he would have been the first man they would have shot.>
I have no doubt that such would have been the case. Where the north wall of "old 1809" stood, there formerly existed a mound. The day before they intended to commence to dig the foundation for the building Capt. Herron persuaded Martin Luther Lawdor Slagor an ignorant old Dutchman that there were buried in the mound, gold and silver trinkets, and other valuable articles, and told him the first man there with his horse and cart, would get the most valuable articles. Accordingly by daylight the next morning the old Dutchman was on hand, with his horse and cart, digging at the mound, and hauling the dirt away, the Captain walking around watching him wading into the work, and almost splitting his sides with laughter. About nine o'clock, some of the citizens taking pity upon the Dutchman told him that Captain Herron was making a fool of him. In removing the mound a large skeleton was found, the remains no doubt, of one of the ancient race of men who dotted the land over with their curious works. Captain Herron was a very corpulent man, so much so that he became a burthen to himself, and drank a great quantity of strong vinegar to reduce his flesh. The vinegar ruined his stomach and caused him death in 1828, after severe suffering. Some years before he died he sent for his nephew, who was named after him to come and take charge of his farm, and he would leave him his estate at his death. Afterwards becoming displeased with him he cut him off with a dollar, and gave his estate to his sister's children. He owned a tract of land under which was a fine vein of coal.
The Zanesville cemetery was a part of the tract. It extended from the old Wheeling road to Mill Run. In addition, he owned other valuable property. Dr. Rhodes was the executor of his estate. He was a prominent man in his day, but so soon are we forgotten, after we pass from earth, that the next generation know not that such men ever lived and moved, laughed and joked, and aided to lay the foundation of the community in which they live. How many of the readers of the COURIER ever knew before that James Herren was at one time a prominent man in Zanesville? In the hurry and push and scramble and bustle of this life, we are soon forgotten when we no longer walk the streets and mix with the busy throng. It is not pleasant to feel that we will soon be forgotten when we are gone from this earth. It is natural to man to desire to be remembered by those he leaves when he receives his orders to cross the river.
In past ages men have reared monuments which will last to the end of time, that their names might be remembered among men, and notwithstanding all their precautions, they have been forgotten. Those who came into this almost untrodden wilderness, and by the labor of a life time, laid the foundation of this community the present history has been written. The people of the present generation have no cause to be ashamed of their ancestors. They were active, energetic, enterprising public-spirited, and if their immediate successors had possessed one-half the public-spirit of the first settlers, Zanesville to-day, would have been one of the leading cities of this great and prosperous state.
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