Source: The Zanesville Courier, Zanesville, Muskingum Co., Ohio
Saturday, December 01, 1877, page 1, columns 1-3
Contributed by Ky Longley
The Early History of Zanesville
For the Courier,
Thomas Dowden was the first postmaster in Zanesville. He kept the postoffice in a cabin on the corner of Main street and Potter alley. In the fall of 1804, or the spring of 1805, Able Lewis, Clerk of the Court, was temporarily appointed postmaster, and served until the fall of 105, when Jeffrey Price was appointed and held the office until 1815. William Montgomery came to Zanesville in the spring of 1804, and opened a hotel on the southeast corner of Main and Sixth streets. He built a large frame hotel in the summer and fall of 1805, and laid the flooring temporarily until the following spring, as the boards were not seasoned. This frame hotel was the first frame building erected in Zanesville. After the formation of Muskingum county, Mr. Montgomery was elected one of the first County Commissioners, and was the first County Treasurer. He was a good surveyor, and one of the first justices of the peace of the village of Zanesville. He serve din the capacity of Justice of the Peace in 1804. Mr. Montgomery had received a splendid education; was well versed on literature, a good conversationalists, fond of jolly company, but like many men who have been splendidly endowed by nature, he neglected his private affairs and didn't prosper as a man of his abilities should have done. In the spring of 1808 or 1809 he rented his tavern stand to Mr. Pratt, and afterward sold it to Capt. James Taylor, and moved out to his farm, just beyond the outskirts of the town, where the Zanesville cemetery is at present located. He owned what is now the Zanesville cemetery and the adjoining land, and his residence was located west of the spring in the cemetery grounds, surrounded by chestnut trees.
He lived here until the fall of 1817, when he sold out and purchased a farm six miles this side of McConnelsville on the Muskingum. He died there a great many years ago. His daughter, Mrs. Dr. Martin, now residing here, is the earliest resident except two, now living in Zanesville. She came to Zanesville with her father when only four years old, in the spring of 1804, having previously purchased the farm where he resided until his death, from Col. Johnson, land agent at Philadelphia. He boarded previous to his marriage with John McIntire, and gave his attention to clearing his farm. He afterwards brought to Zanesville his two nephews, Grondo and Ralph Taylor, while boys, and they grew to manhood upon his farm. Ralph was a wild boy, disposed to rove over the world, and his uncle could not influence him. He left Zanesville a great many years ago and never returned. While boarding with John McIntire, Capt Taylor formed the acquaintance of a young lady from Wheeling while she was visiting at the McIntire residence. Mrs. McIntire was a warm friend of the young lady, and admired her much and enjoyed her visits. Here in the wilderness it was a treat to meet a young lady of refinement and education, and the Capt. was touched with the tender fame. He a wooing went and didn't woo in vain. The courting was done in the western wilderness, and the marriage took place in Wheeling in 1806.
When Mrs. Taylor was about to commence housekeeping in this almost untrodden wilderness, her friends at Wheeling made her a present of a black servant girl. Her name was Nancy Murphy, but she was known by the name of Nancy Taylor, or Black Nance. Black Nance was a woman of very low grade intellect, and when drunk was very vicious. She loved strong drink. This vice, among others, pursued her during life. She lived for a number of years with Captain Taylor on the farm, and was a good worker, strong and healthy. She seemed at times to be possessed of the devil. At one time the Captain not being at home, she become displeased with Mrs. Taylor, got a pair of trace chains, a string of bells and a tin horn. She tied the trace chain to each ankle, put the bells upon her neck, and started down the stairs rattling the chains, shaking the bells and blowing the horn. Mrs. Taylor being taken by surprise, and being unable to account for the unearthly noise, thought the Day of Judgment had surely come. When the captain came home and ascertained how his colored servant had been conducting herself, took his wagon whip and gave her a severe thrashing. At another time becoming displeased with Mrs. Taylor, she called u pa brood of chickens and after feeding them, out of pure devilment took a scythe and mowed their legs off. The next morning Mrs. Taylor found her chickens "bobbing" around the yard on their stumps of legs. This cruel act enraged the Captain, and he gave her a terrible whipping.
After this the Captain was smoking his meat in a smoke-house, some distance from his dwelling, for in those days every farmer had a smoke-house somewhere about the yard, where he cured his meat. Black Nance, tempted of the devil, doubtless set fire to the smokehouse, and the smokehouse and meat all went up in flame and smoke together. The Captain, upon ascertaining the enormity of her crime swore he would kill her. He took down his shot-gun, shot at her, and wounded her in the ankles. In the darkness of the night she escaped and crawled under a haystack. The night being cold, her feet were so badly frozen that she lost some of her toes, and was ever after a cripple. The Captain was so enraged at her that he drove her from the farm, and threatened to shoot her if she ever returned. Black Nance left, and came over to the town on the east bank of the river. She went around among the families, and did washing for a living, receiving twenty-five cents for a day's work. In the morning, before commencing work, she always demanded her bitters, which consisted, in those days, of whisky and tansy. Much of her earning were invested in whisky. When not at work she made considerable sport for the boys. When drinking she would swear terribly, and throw stones at the boys who made sport of her. When she seized stones the boys always put as much distance as possible between themselves and Black Nance. She could hurl a stone with wonderful swiftness, and it always came thundering around the mark at which she aimed.
Tansey bitters at that early day was used in all families to keep off the ague and fever. In the morning the members of the family were called up and whiskey and tansey were served out. The writer of this sketch was personally acquainted with Black Nance, and has often heard her soliloquizing in the morning: "Tansey bitters! tansey bitters, tansey bitters." At one time she irritated "Bill" Howland at the pump at the Market house to such a degree that he fired upon her with a shotgun, and the shot taking effect upon her body, came near knocking the life out of the old colored woman. He was arrested for the crime and punished. Black Nance ever afterward was afraid of a gun, and if one was pointed at her it frightened her. This old black woman was so well known and so notorious in the early days of Zanesville that the history of Zanesville would not be complete without reference being made to her.
Capt. James Taylor, was an officer in the Revolutionary war and served in the Southern department. He was familiar with Indiana fighting; could give the Indian war whoop, which had a tendency to make a man feel if his scalp was safe. The men who fought the Indians in the South were almost as wild as the Indians who roamed the forests. They seldom saw anything of civilized life and know but little of it. They were robust hard and brave. In regard to religion they had exceeding by vague ideas.
At one time when the regiment in which the Captain served was about to commence a battle with the Indians, the result of which appeared to be mixed up with much doubt, the Colonel concluded that it would be well to petition the Throne of Grace, and not being familiar with such proceedings he called upon any man in the regiment who could pray to step to the front. None came. There wasn't a man in the regiment who knew how to offer up a prayer. The Colonel ordered the men to draw cuts in order to ascertain how should pray for success in the coming battle, and the duty of offering up a prayer, fell to the lot of a rough customer who had never prayed, had heard but little of prayer in his eventful life, and knew about as much about making a prayer as a Hottentot. he was called upon to proceed as time was precious. After hesitating, and scratching his bushy head, he broke forth: "Lord, God, Almighty, in this battle favor our side, and give us the victory, if you can conscientiously, and if you can't stand off and keep cool, and you will see the d----nst fight that ever took place in America." The Captain assured time and time again that the above was no joke, but a fact. Captain Taylor purchased the Montgomery hotel, having previously purchased the lots east to Cypress alley.
In 1816 he sold his farm to two brothers John and Joseph Boyd, but afterward took it back, the Boyd's being unable to meet the payments. He died in 1842 or 1843, and was buried with masonic and military honors in the small mound on the second bottom in front of the dwelling. In digging the grave a skeleton was unearthed of some race which had at some time in the past inhabited the Muskingum Valley. The skeleton was in a tolerably good state of preservation, and was the skeleton of a man who had stood when alive about seven feet high. Mrs. Taylor, a few years before her death, removed his remains to Woodlawn cemetery, where they still rest, side by side with those of the lady who enjoyed his love and companionship, and proved to be a faithful wife for so many eventful years.
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