Home
Back to Newspaper Article Index

Source: The Zanesville Daily Courier, Zanesville, Muskingum Co., Ohio
Saturday, April 27, 1878, page 1, cols 2-3
Contributed by Ky Longley

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

For the Courier,

THOMAS WICKHAM

    One of the early pioneers of Zanesville, who aided to lay the foundation of the future city, was Thomas Wickham. He made his way into the western wilds, to battle with the hardships of the frontier, and to secure a home for his wife and family. He had good health, was rich in industry and energy, but like the great mass of those people who moved into the rich valleys of Ohio, he was not blessed with a great abundance of this world's goods. He arrived in Zanesville on the first of November, 1806. He brought his family in a wagon drawn by four horses. A few miles this side of Wheeling, his wife was taken sick, and remained sick a week, before it was safe to continue the journey.

    Just as Mr. Wickham was about to start from the tavern where he had remained a week, for his wife to recover sufficiently to continue the journey, Mr. Elijah Hart drove up with a four horse team bound for Zanesville. The two gentlemen with their teams traveled together and aided each other over the hills.

    Mr. Wickham was a carpenter by trade, and on arriving at Zanesville, followed that occupation for several years. In 1814 he contracted with John McIntire and his associates of the Canal and Manufacturing Company to build a dam across the Muskingum river. The dam was located at the foot of Market street. On the east side of the river the dam started from a large wooden abutment a short distance from the shore at the at the head of the upper falls, on a line west of Market street, to an abutment on the west side of the river, located a short distance below where the blacksmith shop now stands upon the bank opposite the Lee block.

    The wing dam started from the abutment on the east side, and ran down to the point of rocks opposite the west end of Fountain alley, where Granger built a grist and saw mill. Between the shore and wing dam there was sufficient room for boats to pass. On the west side of the river, there was a mill-race running along the shore to the Company's grist and saw mill, built by Fulton, Hazlett and Convers, afterward owned by Col. Geo. Jackson. The mill stood where the Drone mill stands to-day. The old dam was five feet high, and the locks for passing boats around the dam, were constructed with pieces of square timber, not sawed, but fashioned with the broadaxe. The inside was filled with stone and sand. The locks were on the east side of the river, and the part described, was the part farthest out in the river. The inside of the locks was built against the rocks. These locks were twenty-five feed wide and ninety feet long, and were located south of Granger's mill.

    The writer recollects these old locks very well, and will at some future time give a description of the locks when finished, and the location of Granger's mill, when built, and canal when dug, &c. It may be interesting to some of the old citizens who have some recollection of these old landmarks, which have nearly all been brushed aside. The charter granted John McIntire and his associates by the last Legislature which assembled in Zanesville, was in 1812, for the building of the dam and canal around the falls, and reads as follows:

        Charter granted John McIntire and his associates to erect a dam above the Licking, at a joint nearly opposite Market street. The said dam to commence at an abutment made in the river, two chains from the east bank of said river, in circular form, to an abutment on the west bank of said river. The said dam not to exceed a level of five feet at the abutment in the river, and build a slope of thirty feet wide, one inch tall, to every foot in length. The said John McIntire and associates shall, at all times, keep the slope in good repair for the passage of rafts. From the abutment in the river, near the eastern bank, he shall erect a wing dam parallel with the bank of the river, the wing dam to extend from the abutment to a point of rocks opposite to the terminus of an alley which passes by the house of said McIntire (Fountain alley); the said John McIntire and associates shall construct good and sufficient locks for boats ascending and descending the river; the locks to be not less than twenty-five feet wide, and not less than 90 feet long; to keep said locks in good repair, and keep a person to lock the crafts through, without delay, and free of expense to the owners of the crafts; Jno McIntire and associates be granted the permission to cut the canal one chain and fifty links below the lower (Putnam) bridge; the water to pass into the river through locks built of good cut sandstone, 25 feet wide and 90 feet long; to be granted the privilege of collecting toll at these locks when constructed, at the rate of 25cts per ton for every boat or water craft; craft with a capacity of less than a ton, 6cts, for every hundred weight; every empty porogue or canoe 25cts. John McIntire and associates to pay all expenses for keeping the locks in repair; the dam and canal to be completed within six years after the passage of the act.

    MATHIAS CORWIN, Speaker of the House
    THOMAS KIRKER, President of the Senate.
    Passed Feb. 21 1812.

    The canal, constructed by the Canal Manufacturing Company, from 1815 to 1818, only extended a short distance below the Reeve's mill race, and then stopped. The contemplated extension below the Putnam bridge, and the locks at that point, were never constructed. Some years after the destruction of Granger's mill by fire, Martin and Cushing constructed a dam alongside the old wing dam. As these works became to some extent dilapidated, the State of Ohio purchased them from the Canal Manufacturing Company, and constructed a dam where the present dam stands. This was nearly forty years ago. The old dam was covered up, and remained hidden from the sight of man for all these years, when a few years ago an ice gorge broke away a portion of the present dam, and the old dam made its appearance.

    Mr. Wickham built the stone house in West Zanesville, the property, afterwards of Antony Wilkins, before the construction of the old dam. The stone used in the structure, was taken from the bed of the river below the railroad bridge. He afterward kept tavern on the northwest corner of Main and Second streets, for several years. John Bowman boarded with him while he kept this tavern. On the 1st of April, 1817, Mr. Wickham commenced to rebuild a part of the upper bridge. He built stone piers for the bridge to rest upon, and put a shingle roof upon the structure. This was the span next to the Zanesville side of the river, which had given away and fallen into the river.

    For this work, he received some money, and was to receive the tolls for a certain length of time. After a short time, the stockholders agreed to take the bridge and pay him a certain sum in lieu of the tolls.

    Mr. Wickham finally purchased a farm near Irville, and removed upon it, and entered largely in to the cultivation of peaches. He built a distillery, and made peach brandy, there being no sale for the peaches he raised upon the farm. He was among the first Baptists who emigrated to Zanesville, and aided to organize a church in Zanesville. He was, during all his life, honest, upright, just and much respected by all his neighbors.

Return to the top of this page


This county is part of the USGenWeb Project, a non-profit genealogical resource web system, and is maintained by Denny Shirer < drdxBuckeyeEmporium.com >