This page is part of the Warren County Ohio GenWeb project
You are our [an error occurred while processing this directive] visitor since 25 November 2004 -- thanks for stopping by!

Civil and Judicial


Transcription contributed by Arne H Trelvik on 10 June, 2003


The History of Warren County Ohio
Part III. History of Warren County
Chapter VI. General Progress
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)



The act organizing Warren County took effect May 1, 1803. The Legislature had elected three Associate Judges and fixed a temporary seat of justice. The first official business of the new county was transacted at a meeting of the Associate Judges – William James, Jacob D. Lowe and Ignatius Brown - at the house of Ephraim Hathaway, the temporary seat of justice, May 10, 1803, when the whole county was divided into four townships, and voting- places established in each as follows:

Deerfield, at the house of David Sutton.
Franklin, at the house of Edward Dearth.
Wayne, at the house of Thomas Goodwin.
Hamilton, at the house of James Maranda.

The boundaries of the four original township will be readily understood when it is stated that the north boundary of the third range extended east of the Little Miami, separated Franklin and Wayne on the north from Deerfield and Hamilton on the south; the section line which passes through Ridgeville was the boundary between Franklin and Wayne, and the Little Miami divided Deerfield from Hamilton. The whole territory included with the present boundaries of the county, exclusive of that part west of the Great Miami which then belonged to Butler, was therefore divided into four townships, nearly equal in size. Lebanon was in Deerfield Township.

The first election in the county after its organization was held on Tuesday, June 7, 1803, between the hours of 10 and 4, at which time George Harlan was elected Sheriff, and Andrew Lytle, Coroner. Three Justices of the Peace were elected at the same time in each township, except in Hamilton, to which but two had been assigned by the Associate Judges. All the county offices the first year, except those of Coroner and Sheriff, were filled by appointment. Silas Hurin was the first Treasurer; David Sutton, the first Clerk; Michael H. Johnson, the first Recorder; Allen Wright, the first Surveyor; and Daniel Symmes, of Cincinnati, the first Prosecuting Attorney. The first County Commissioners were elected on the first Monday in April, 1804, on which day Matthias Corwin, William James and Robert Benham were chosen. Their first meeting was held June 11, 1804.

On June 21, 1803, a special election was held in the new State for the purpose of electing the first Representative in Congress, the State being entitled to only one Representative. On that day, a citizen of Warren County, Jeremiah Morrow, was elected; and for ten years he continued the sole Representative of Ohio in the Lower House of Congress.

The first Court of Common Pleas was held at the house of Ephraim Hathaway, in Lebanon, beginning on the third Tuesday of August, 1803, Francis Dunlevy, President Judge. The following-named persons were impaneled and sworn as Grand Jurors, constituting the first Grand Jury of the county: William C. Schenck, foreman; Richard Cunningham, Jacob Covert, James McManus, Robert McCain, Enos Williams, Andrew Alexander, Samuel Holloway, William Jay, Ichabod B. Halsey, James McCashen, Edward Dearth, Elijah Reeder, Samuel Kelly, Abia Martin, John Griffen.

[blank page]


Several indictments for assault and battery, and one or two for affray, were found. No cases, either civil or criminal, seem to have been tried until the next term, which convened on the third Tuesday of December, 1803, when two cases, one civil and one criminal, were tried. In the criminal case, the defendant was found guilty of assault and battery. In the civil case, the plaintiff was a woman, and gained her case. There were seven cases on the civil docket, six of which were dismissed or continued. At this time, Joshua Collett was the only attorney residing in Lebanon. His name appears as attorney for the defendant in the only civil case which was tried. The names of Jacob Burnet and Arthur St. Clair, attorneys from Cincinnati, also appear in the records of the proceedings at this term. The following are the names of jurors impaneled at this term, constituting the first petit jury of the county: Ichabod Corwin, James Stewart, James Caldwell, James Bartlett, John Dennis, Francis Bedle, Thomas Lucas, Alexander Van Pelt, Samuel Manning, John Osborn, Peter Sellers and Cornelius Vorhees.

The Supreme Court was then held in every county. The first session of the Supreme Court in Warren County was held October 6, 1803, Judges Huntington and Sprigg on the bench. No cases were tried. Francis Gowdy and James Montgomery were admitted to practice.

The Supreme Court then had original criminal jurisdiction concurrent with the Court of Common Pleas, and the Judges then spent half their time on horseback, and a part of the other half in trying cases of assault and battery and other petty offenses. At the November term, 1805, of the Supreme Court, a defendant was arraigned on an indictment for stealing from Ephraim Hathaway, the tavern-keeper at Lebanon, one pocket-book, one Spanish milled dollar and one cut eighth part of a Spanish milled dollar, of the value of 116 cents. The defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced to “be whipped on his naked back three stripes.”

The cut money referred to in this indictment was used on account of the scarcity of small coin. A cut eighth part of a dollar passed for 12 ½ cents. A dollar was often cut into “five quarters,” or five pieces, each passing for 25 cents.

Public whipping was then inflicted under the laws of this as well as other States. It disappeared early in the legislation of Ohio; yet many emigrants from States where it was practiced seemed to think that whipping was the natural and peculiarly appropriate penalty fro stealing; and the first reported speech of Thomas Corwin was made while representing Warren County in the Ohio Legislature, and was an earnest and successful protest against the re-instatement of the whipping-post.

The Associate Judges met at various times for the transaction of business while the President Judge was absent holding court in other counties. The official business relating to probate and testamentary matters, the granting of letters of administration and the appointment of guardians was performed chiefly by the Associate Judges. For the first year, they also discharged the duties which afterward devolved upon the County Commissioners. Granting licenses was an important part of the county business. On the first day the Associate Judges met, four licenses for taverns were granted, viz., to Thomas Goodwin, Edward Dearth, David Sutton and Elijah Reeder. Within four years, there were granted licenses for thirty different taverns in the county. The sums charged for tavern licenses at this time varied from $4 to $10 per year; $10 was the fee fixed for license for one year to retail merchandise, but the merchants seem to have been far less numerous than the tavern-keepers. The only ferry licensed was at Franklin.


The following is the first financial exhibit of the county made by the County Commissioners in October, 1804:

  On settlement with Treasurer. $138 50  
  County levy for 1804 820 97  
  Third part of State tax 177 69  
  Probable amount due from licenses 100 00  
      1222 16
  Demands against the county 408 28  
  Contingent expenses for the year 500 00  
      908 23
  Balance in favor of the county   318 98

On the 17th of June, 1805, the Commissioners ordered that "tax be laid according to law, viz.: 30 cents on horses; 10 cents on cattle; 50 cents on each $ 100 value of mansion houses and town lots." A memorandum accompanying this order gives the return of the Listers of Taxable Property: Horses, 1,787; cattle, 2,154; lots and mansion houses valued at $19,801—the whole tax income amounting to $845.50, which was exclusive of the license tax and some other sources of revenue.

On June 26, 1805, it was ordered that the allowance for wolf and panther scalps be, for all under the age of six months, $1, and for all over the age of six months, $2.

The official business for the entire county transacted by the first county officers did not equal in amount that of one of the smaller townships at the present day. For several years after the organization of the county, all the records of the courts, County Commissioners and County Recorder could have been made by a single clerk.

The first letters of administration were granted June 8, 1803, to Hannah Hicks and Joseph Robertson, to administer on the estate of David Hicks, deceased. Michael H. Johnson, Philip Coleman and Thomas Watson were appointed appraisers of the estate of the decedent.

The first will recorded was that of Robert Ross. It was executed September 20, 1803, and probated December 21, 1803. One small octavo volume contains the record of all the wills probated from 1803 until 1825.

The first marriage license was granted July 4, 1803, to James Armstrong, who was "of lawful age," and Ebby Ligget, who had "the consent of her parents."

The first deed recorded at Lebanon was executed by Thomas Paxton and Martha Paxton, his wife, to Daniel Artel --the family name of his descendants is Ertel --for 110 acres on the east side of the Little Miami, in what is now Hamilton Township. The deed was dated January 18, 1799; the consideration was "120 pounds lawful money of this Territory," and the grantee is stated to be in actual possession. For the first four years of the county's history, the number of deeds and mortgages recorded averaged 140 annually. At the present time, the number annually recorded exceeds 1,200.

From 1795, when John Cleves Symmes began the execution of deeds for lands between the Miami Rivers until 1803, conveyances of lands in Warren County were recorded at Cincinnati, the whole number not exceeding 250 for the eight years.

The first deed recorded at Cincinnati for lands in Warren County was from John C. Symmes and wife to Moses Kitchel, of Morris County, N. J., for Section 18, Township 4, Range 2, in what is now Deerfield Township. It was dated April 10, 1795. and the consideration for the 640 acres was $426, "in certificates of debts due from the United States."

It was not until 1851 that the conveyances of Warren County lands recorded it Cincinnati were transcribed and placed in the Recorder's office at Lebanon.

FOOTNOTES: [a place to add additional information that you might want to submit]


NOTICE: All documents and electronic images placed on the Warren County OHGenWeb site remain the property of the contributors, who retain publication rights in accordance with US Copyright Laws and Regulations. These documents may be used by anyone for their personal research. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material, must obtain the written consent of the contributor, or their legal representative, and contact the listed Warren County OHGenWeb coordinator with proof of this consent.

This page created 10 June, 2003 and last updated 23 September, 2015
© 2003-2005 Arne H Trelvik  All rights reserved