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Source: The Zanesville Daily Courier, Zanesville, Muskingum Co., Ohio
Saturday, February 2, 1878, page 1, cols 2-4
Contributed by Ky Longley

The Early History of Zanesville
by E.H.C.

For the Courier,

WILLIAM CRAIG

    The above named gentleman came to Zanesville in 1805. he was an Irishman by birth, and a carpenter by profession. He owned the corner lot at the intersection of Market and Fourth streets, west of the Market House, where the Masonic building now stands. He erected upon this lot a hewed-log house, and lived in it for a number of years. He was of the Methodist persuasion, and was very fond of holding public offices. While still working at his trade, he in 1806, was elected Justice of the Peace of the village of Zanesville. Afterwards he filed several town and county offices, apparently to the general satisfaction of the people. In 1814, after the town charter had been procured, William Craig was elected the first Mayor, William Blocksom the first Recorder, and John L. Cochran the first Marshal of the town of Zanesville. In the fall of the same year, he was a candidate for Governor of the State of Ohio. Thomas Worthington and Othniel Looker, were also candidates for the same office. Thomas Worthington was the successful candidate. He received in the State for Governor, 15,879 votes. Othniel Looker received 6,171. William Craig received 51 votes in Muskingum county. He wasn't elected Governor of the State, but was ever afterward called Governor Craig, by the citizens of Zanesville.

    In 1813 William Craig and Thomas Moorehead erected a frame building 40x60 feet on the ground now occupied by the Second Street M. E. Church edifice. This was the first Methodist Church edifice erected in Zanesville. The building was not finished until the following year on account of not being able to obtain seasoned flooring. In 1810 Mr. Craig erected a frame building two stories high upon his lot on the corner of Market and Fourth - a very fine building for those days. He kept somewhat of a notion store in the corner room, and the boys of those days purchased a great many small articles from the Governor. This corner was designated as Craig's corner for many years. Col. George Jackson purchased the property of Mr. Craig, and lived in the house until he died. After Col. Jackson purchased the property, the corner was known as Jackson's corner and was so designated in 1817. In 1817 the Commissioners of Muskingum county, appointed William Craig Collector of Taxes, and Christian Spangler, County Treasurer. Governor Craig gave a bond in the sum of $3,354.08 his sureties being James McGuire, James Hampson, James Herron and Jacob Linden. The Governor went to work and collected the taxes, and instead of paying the money over to the County Treasury, ran away with the whole amount leaving his securities to settle with the County Treasurer.

    The Commissioners commenced suit against each gentleman whose name appeared upon the bond for something over two thousand dollars. James McGuire was compelled to sell a house and two corner lots he owned on Sixth and South streets, and in addition to other property. It almost made him bankrupt. He succeeded in saving a small farm adjoining Zanesville.

    James Linder was compelled to sell his farm and stock to get the means to settle his portion of the sum. He was entirely broken up. Property was very low at the time, and money scarce and hard to get. James Hampton and James Herron, being men of considerable means, paid the amount demanded of them without great inconvenience. The Governor left his wife behind when he departed for parts unknown, but she soon followed. They settled near St. Louis, and invested a portion of the money in real estate, which in after years became quite valuable, but his sureties were never able to get possession of any portion of it. The people of Zanesville felt very bitter toward the Governor, and used language in regard to him more expressive than polite.

ELIJAH ROSS,

came to Zanesville in 1804, an remained here a short time, and then emigrated to Miami county. The Miami valley at that time was anything but a healthy location, and Mr. Ross, becoming discouraged on account of sickness, returned to Zanesville the same fall, and make his permanent home here. He was a gunsmith by trade, and the first gunsmith who located in this section of Ohio. He purchased a lot on the northeast corner of Second street and Locust alley, and built a dwelling and shop upon it. During the war of 1812, Mr. Ross was drafted into the service of the United States. He made all preparations to proceed to the rendezvous for drafted men, when an order came detailing him to remain at home, to repair guns, swords, and accoutrements for the soldiers of the army. Gunsmiths, in those days, were very scarce in the western country, and their services were much in demand. In 1816, or 1817, Mr. Ross sold his property and removed to West Zanesville, and carried on the business of a gunsmith in the village until 1823, when he returned to Zanesville, and lived for several years on South Sixth street.

    He afterwards removed to a house on Main, above Seventh street, where he lived an carried on gunsmithing until the day of this death. Several Zanesville boys served an apprenticeship with Elijah Ross, at gunsmithing. Among the number were George Hahn, Grant Scott, Niel Wilkins and Lem Owens. Grundo Taylor commenced to learn the trade of a gunsmith with Mr. Ross in 1833, when he lived in West Zanesville, but soon grew tired of the business and retired. Lem Owens was the celebrated Col. Pluck, of the ever memorable Fantasticles of Zanesville of 1833 or 1834. These Fantasticles were the most horrid looking creatures imaginable. They were disguised in every way possible. All were most hideous false faces. They were decked in the most outlandish dresses. Those were the days of the cornstalk militia. On the morning of the day when the cornstalk militia parade was to take place, Col. Pluck called out his Fantasticles.

    The Colonel was dressed in a calico suit with a big spike tail coat with a large sunflower upon each shoulder for epulets. He carried a tin sward ten feet long, wore ten spurs eighteen inches long, and wore a tremendous lavender necktie with the ends reaching almost to the ground. His Beauchephalus or charger was Parson Jones' old horse. The old horse has seen his best days. He never had lived, perhaps, on the fat of the land, at least at this time he was a mere shadow of a horse. His hip bones stuck up high enough to hang a man's hat on, and his ribs seemed to vie with each to see which could stick out the farthest. When all was in readiness the Colonel, with a grand flourish, marched up to mount his charger. It appeared to be a dangerous feat, for no man could tell what might happen the shadow of a horse when a man settled down upon his back. Two orderlies stood the opposite side of the Parson's old horse, to catch the Colonel, if the horse fell under his weight.

    The Colonel being mounted and all ready the Fantasticles were formed in line and marched down Main street, and over to John Lee's tavern in West Zanesville, when the cornstalk militia were learning the arts of war. Here the Fantasticles marched and countermarched in view of the cornstalk militia. The roll was called and the most outlandish names that could be though of were yelled out, and there was a Fantasticle for each name. All eyes were upon the Fantasticles where ever they went. The thing was so extremely ridiculous, that the officers could get no service out of the cornstalk militia, and Major Cochran dismissed them, and they were never called into line again. The Fantasticles were organized for the purpose of laughing the cornstalk militia out of existence, and it was a perfect success. Some of the best young men of the place were members of the Fantasticles. Zanesville never saw anything so ridiculous before, and perhaps will never see anything so ridiculous again.

    Afterwards Lem Owens and Cale Wilkins went to St. Louis and joined a company of Rocky mountains trappers, and remained in the business for a number of years. Lem Owens trapped through the Rockies in company with the celebrated Kit Carson, and was one of Col. Freemont's scouts or guides through the mountains during the war with Mexico. After the war was over he came back and remained in Zanesville two weeks while on his way to Washington City, as a witness for Colonel Freemont. Mr. Ross was very fond of fox hunting during his whole life. He kept a pack of hounds for the chase and never seemed happier than when following his hounds over the Muskingum hills. He and Joseph Howland frequently went in company on these fox hunting expeditions. Mr. Ross had a pair of matched grey mules. He would mount one and Mr. Howland the other, away they would go for their favorite hunting grounds in the Moxahala hills.

    When not hunting, Mr. Ross made his dogs work in a drum tread-wheel, which furnished the power for boring gun barrels and turning the grindstone. Elijah Ross was a very stout, robust, hardy pioneer, and very temperate, which, at that time, was something unusual.

    He seldom indulged in spirituous liquors of any kind.

    He was very fond of buttermilk, and preferred it to tea or coffee. He never had any serious sickness to effect his constitution, and was a powerful man physically. His health remained good almost up to the day of his death. He and Mr. Howland were on a fox hunting expedition only about three weeks before his death, and caught two red foxes, one of them the largest fox ever caught in Zanesville. They rode all day over the Moxahala hills. Mr. Ross was only confined to his residence by his last sickness a few days. He died in 1864, in the 79th year of his age. In many respects, he was one of the most remarkable men who ever lived in Zanesville.

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