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Franklin Township Early Settlements


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Transcription contributed by Arne H Trelvik 24 June, 2003

Sources:

The History of Warren County Ohio
Part IV Township Histories
Franklin Township by W. C. Reeder
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)


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The date of the first settlement of this township, outside of the town of Franklin, is obscure. We find that William Barkalow and his brother, Derrick, came about the year 1804, and bought all the land from the mouth of Twin Creek to the present Hydraulic Dam, and reaching from the Miami River west to where Carlisle Station now is. It is said that there was a log cabin standing just north of the present residence of Mr. L. G. Anderson, built probably as a shelter for stock. When Mr. Barkalow bought the

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land, he placed some rails across the door to keep the cattle out, and when he returned with his family, he jestingly pretended to hand the key to one of the family, and sent him ahead to unlock the door ready for the family. The Barkalow family descended from the above two brothers are still represented in the neighborhood.

About the same time, the Maxwell family, the Russells, the McCashens and the Campbells settled in the township.

In a part of the township now included in Clear Creek Township was born Mr. Joseph Barnett, who claimed, in after years, that he was the first white child born in the township. Mrs. Susan McCashen, who is still, at the age of eighty-seven, living about two miles east of town with her son-in-law, Mr. John Sholts, Sr., claims that she was the first child born in the township.

The early settlers had the usual perplexities and trials encountered elsewhere by the pioneers. The land was cleared of its heavy growth of timber, which, being so plentiful, was of no value, and was got rid of by means of log- heaps, which being burned, furnished a clear space upon which to cultivate the crops. The hard labor consequent upon this process of clearing land, was counter-balanced by the pleasures of the corn-husking, the quilting frolic or the country dance.

The rich soil, while it amply repaid the cultivator, came near burying him and his horses in the springtime, so that the most common mode of traveling was on horseback.

The Miami River was either forded or crossed by means of a ferry-boat, owned and managed by Mr. William Barkalow.

The Miami Indians were in the neighborhood for many years, and some of the oldest citizens remember it as a common occurrence that the women of this tribe gathered on the west bank of the Miami, and wove their baskets or worked at the various occupations which fall to the lot of the Indian women. There seems to have been no trouble from the Indian tribes after the first settlement.

From records of the township now in possession of Dr. O. Evans, Sr., it appears that as early as 1802, or one year before the organization of the county, James McCashen was Justice of the Peace.

Settlements were made about the neighborhood of Carlisle in the spring of 1804 and 1805, by Arthur Vanderveer, of Freehold, N. J., who, in company with the Barkalows, had entered the tract of land on the Great Miami River, before spoken of. At the same time came Daniel Dubois and Dr. Benjamin Dubois, and, within the next ten years, several families from New Jersey came to this township and the southern part of Montgomery County, forming what is known to-day as the Jersey Settlement. The Lanes, Schencks, Denises, the Conovers, Poasts, Wykoffs and the Barkalows have all been well known in this part of the county since.

Dr. Dubois was one of the first physicians in this region, and all the grown folks, as well as the rising generation for miles around knew the taste of his medicines.

The markets of this region were, of course, not the best; hence grain and produce were cheap, wheat being 12 cents per bushel; butter, 3 to 5 cents per pound, and eggs, 2 to 3 cents per dozen. The stately deer, the wild turkey and the black bear furnished the farmer with active recreation, while the Great Miami from its clear waters furnished those who preferred quieter sport and abundant supply of the finny tribe. The thrifty New Jersey people, however, did no let the waters glide by without making use of them in another way.

Accordingly, they built flat-boats, and loading upon them their surplus farm products, when the spring floods swelled the river, floated down to New

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Orleans, where they sold first the cargo and then the boat, coming home in some instances on foot. Great amusement was caused by an honest old farmer taking a boat load of turkeys to New Orleans, when the wild turkey was found in great abundance. After a few years, mills were built, and then the grain in the more compact form of flour, was shipped on the flat-boats. The mills in early days were of composite character, both grinding and sawing being done at the same mill. The Van Tuyls built one at an early day near Twin Creek; but not only the mill has all disappeared, but also the race that led to it. The Vanderveer Mill, just south of the present Hydraulic Dam, was the main mill for many years. It was erected by Arthur Vanderveer at a very early day.

The erection of dams on the river stopped transportation by the river, and then the large old-fashioned Pennsylvania wagon carried produce to Cincinnati and dry goods and groceries back.

The furniture used was generally home-made, or made in the immediate neighborhood; the shoes and hats were made by the traveling mechanic, who worked at one house until that family was supplied, and then passed to another, the shoes and hats being renewed but once a year. The women, besides their customary avocations, amused themselves and employed their leisure hours at the large and small wheel, the loom or in knitting, and she was considered as unfit to wed who had not laid up against her wedding a goodly supply of linen, such as was needed for the general wants of the household. All wore garments, the value of which they knew by the toil that had sufficed to produce them. Sometimes the garments of the men were made by an itinerant tailor, who served as did the shoemaker and the hatter, but generally the women made all the garments, attended to the dairy, the poultry and the garden, and not unfrequently, worked in the fields with the men, making “hands” as well as any one.

In 1829, the Miami Canal, from Cincinnati to Dayton, was completed. This served as an outlet for the grain, pork, etc., of the township, and in consequence, the prices of these commodities increased as did the acreage of grain raised.

In 1825, a line of stages had been established, from Columbus to Cincinnati, and this, of course, gave greater facilities for communication with the outside world.

Schools were established in the township at an early date, many of the instructors being Irishmen, frequently men of much education, but dissipated and reckless, who, having lost rank or prestige at home by means of their bad habits, came to America, and, preferring anything to manual labor, taught school, after a fashion, beating into the refractory skulls of dull pupils the things that they could not readily assimilate and make a part of themselves. The teacher, if a single man, boarded round; the institution of learning was a log-hut with a few windows, covered with greased paper in lieu of glass, many openings, once chinked, but now open, and a vast fire-place occupying one end, in which the huge logs, chopped by the pupils (there was no such thing as janitor known), served to roast the side which was nearest. School commenced early in the morning and continued till late at night, with but few intermissions. The three “R’s” and spelling were the branches to which most attention was paid, and an inspection of old records has inspired us with an admiration of the writing done and the figures made by some of the pupils of those early schools. Not only were the pupils under the care of the teacher at school, but during the time occupied in going to and fro, and woe be to the boy or girl who failed to bow or courtesy when met by a stranger. The teacher was expected to know one thing thoroughly, viz., corporal punishment in all its various forms. As the population increased, the funds arising from the sales

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of school lands enabled the citizens to have better buildings erected and fixtures more fitted for the young; the length of the term was also increased and the teacher was supposed to know something besides the narrow chapter of botany which treats of the pliability of birch and kindred woods. At the present day, there are outside of the town of Franklin, Districts No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8, all having the best of buildings, fitted with the latest and most convenient seats and desks, with good blackboards, good active teachers, a good attendance, and the means of having ten months, or forty weeks, school.

The surface of Franklin Township is rolling. The valleys of the Great Miami River, of Clear Creek and of Twin Creek, in the extreme west, consist of a very rich black bottom land, with gravel beneath; this in a time of drought is not always beneficial. The hills have nowhere a very great altitude, and will, in all places, if properly cultivated, yield average crops. The uplands have a clay soil, which is a little cold and damp, but which, from year to year, produces crops equal to the bottom. The drainage is good, and the Great Miami, with it two large and numerous small tributaries, relieves the rolling country with but little artificial aid.

In the hills is found a very good quality of stone, that is used for building foundations and walls. The timber of the township, once unsurpassed, is becoming rapidly thinned out by the demands for walnut, hickory, ash, elm and other woods useful in the arts.


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This page created 24 June, 2003 and last updated 21 November, 2006
© 2003-2006 Arne H Trelvik  All rights reserved