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Early Settlements


Transcription contributed by Arne H Trelvik 5 June, 2003


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


The date of the first settlement in this township can not be definitely ascertained. There is a tradition that permanent settlements were made here as early as 1795 to 1800. But this is thought to be a mistake, as there is no evidence of any permanent settlements being made earlier than 1805; and the absence of roads

as late as 1807 has been thought by some to warrant the assertion that no permanent settlers had located here prior to that date.

The best information places it beyond any doubt, that in the year 1805 permanent settlements were made in this township. Whether any had preceded them is not now known, but there is a traditionary account that when they came they found permanent settlers here, who had apple orchard bearing fruit, etc. But the absence of all evidence supporting this account, and the fact that it would make the date of these settlements antedate the treaty of peace by Gen. Wayne with the Indians of this part of Ohio, it is undoubtedly an error, and we are satisfied that the settlers of 1805 were among the first who permanently settled in this township.

In that year, 1805, William Runyan and family, John Layman and family, James Hill and family, Henry Runyan and family, Isaac Runyan and family, John Goodpasture and Solomon Goodpasture and families, David Randall and family, and perhaps others, settled in this township.

William Runyan came from Harrison County, Virginia, where he had emigrated from New Jersey. He settled on the farm just south of Butlerville, known as the Doughman farm, and now owned by Samuel Craig, Esq. Little knowledge of his life before he came to Ohio can be ascertained, the family records, together with every thing he had, having been destroyed by the Indians, who attacked and burned his dwelling while he resided in Virginia.

He was born in New Jersey about the year 1757, and was married to a Miss Custer, (the marriage occurring, probably, after he came to Virginia). There were born to this marriage several children, who came with him to Ohio, Henry and Isaac having been married before coming to this state.

William Runyan continued to reside on the land where he first settled, until his death, which occurred in 1833, his wife having died in 1826.

John Layman, (or Leaman, as it occurs in some records,) who came the same year, 1805, with his family, located on the land adjoining the land occupied by William Runyan, and now known as the John Brown farm, where he resided for many years. He also came from Virginia. His name appears on the record as one of the viewers of the Smalley’s Mill Road, one of the first roads established in this township.

John and Solomon Goodpasture and their families, who came about the same time, perhaps in the same party, settled on the farm near Crosson’s cemetery, on First Creek. It is believed they were originally from Virginia, but came from Kentucky to this State.

James Hill settled on the farm now or recently owned by Jonathan Fox, Esq., about one-half mile north of Pleasant Plain. He was, perhaps, the first Justice of the Peace in the township. He also came from Virginia.

David Randall (or Randolph) also came from Virginia, and located on the farm now owned by Mrs. Quick, south of Butlerville.

John Martin settled here about the same year. He located on a part of the land near the residence of David H. Smith, Esq., on the creek which was afterwards named after him, Martin’s Run. He resided here many years, and built and operated the first distillery, perhaps, in the township.

After the year 1805 the population increased very rapidly, and little more can be attempted here than to mention the names, merely, of some of those of whom it has been possible to learn any facts.

In 1806, it is probable that Bernard Crosson, Lewis Severs and others settled near Edwardsville in this township. Lewis Severs for many years kept a tavern and store, perhaps the first in the township.

William Crosson, Sen., came to Ohio during the year 1806, and settled in or near Edwardsville, in this Township, with his parents, about that time. He was born near Gettysburg, Franklin co., Pa., in 1795, and was about eleven years of

age when he came to this township. At the age of seventeen he enlisted and served as a private in the War of 1812, in a cavalry company, commanded by Col. John Hopkins, late of Hopkinsville, of this county. This company being discharged at Urbana, Ohio, he returned home, and on February 1, 1814, he hired at Lebanon as a substitute in a company of infantry, commanded by Capt. John Hughes from near Sharon, Ohio, and at this time was the youngest man in his regiment. On February 2, 1814, the company left Lebanon, and through snow and ice marched to Lake Erie. Archie Clinton, Esq., John Carroll and Solomon Shaw were mess-mates of Crosson, and were all from Harlan Township. They were afterwards taken to Detroit, where they were stationed when peace was declared.

After returning home, William Crosson was employed by Samuel Paxton as a hand to go to New Orleans on a flatboat. For several years he followed this business on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. In 1818 he loaded a flatboat with produce at Stubb’s Mill, on the Little Miami River, and went to New Orleans, and after disposing of his cargo walked home, reaching Cincinnati in twenty-one days.

In 1820 he was united in marriage with Miss Margaret Simonton, whose father was one of the first settlers near Loveland. He engaged in farming after his marriage, and about 1830 he purchased the farm known as the Crosson Homestead, (and now owned by his son, William Crosson, Jr.,) and remained there while he lived.

He was elected and served as Justice of the Peace twenty-seven years in succession, when, in 1855, he declined a re-election. He always took a great interest in the militia, and for about ten years was captain of a Rifle Company. In 1856 he was one of the Electors on the Presidential ticket for this Congressional District, but failed of an election.

As executor and administrator it is probable that he settled more estates than any other man in Warren County. In 1830 he and his wife united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and both, during life, remained consistent and exemplary members.

Eight children were born to them, five sons and three daughters, two of the daughters dying in infancy. Capt. John Crosson, the eldest son, was killed in the battle of Jonesboro during the late Rebellion, commanding the 38th Ohio Regiment. George, William and Perry reside in Warren County. James who has lived in Clermont County for nearly thirty-five years, has twice served as Sheriff of that county, and represented it in the State legislature.

William Crosson died on April 3, 1879, in the eighty-fourth year of his age, his wife having departed this life in 1874, at the age of nearly seventy-five years. They lie in the cemetery given by him to the public near his old home. Some time prior to his death William Crosson requested his friend, Gen. Durbin Ward, if he survived him, to say something at his funeral, and in obedience to this request, Gen. Ward was present and delivered an eloquent and touching tribute to his memory, from which I quote the following extracts:

“This brief sketch of the venerable pioneer’s life is all the occasion calls for, but gives very little idea of the nobility of his character. Official position is but the tinsel of life and is often only accident. He was too modest to press his own claims, and held political opinions, which, in Warren County, excluded him from higher public service. But his sterling worth was so well known as to make him the nominee of the State Convention of his party, though he sought no the place. All that is mortal of this sterling old man is no more. But what an example to us all is his life. True to every obligation, public and private, he has gone to his long home; faithful to his family, to his friends, to his country; raising respectable children; brave in defense of the right and gentle to the erring; plain and unostentatious; clear-headed and wise in that wisdom higher than books – the wisdom of thoughtful experience; full of years and crowned with the respect of all who knew him; he was the noblest work of God – an honest man.”

In the year 1807 John Liggett and family settled on what is now known as the Hitesman farm, near Rossburg. He was a blacksmith, and probably the first who labored at that trade in the township. He came from Harrison Co., Va., and four other families came at the same time from there, as follows: Frank Liggett and family, John Sleeth and wife, Samuel Butler and wife, and Caleb Smith and family. The party consisted of thirty-five persons, two of whom are yet living, viz.: Jesse Liggett, who resides in Vermilion Co., Ill., and David H. Smith, who lives at his old homestead about one-half mile west of Butlerville. Mr. Smith did not permanently locate in this township until in 1818, but he came with his father, Caleb Smith, in 1807 from Harrison Co., Va., and for a few years settled in one of the northern counties. He has been engaged in various avocations, but his principal occupation has been that of farming. He has at various times been elected to responsible public positions in the township, and for ten years in succession served as Trustee and Constable. Mr. Smith now resides at his homestead, and at the age of more than eighty years is enjoying comparatively good health.

Among the other early settlers of this township may be mentioned the names of Jacob Varner, who settled near where James Hicks now resides; Darby Shawhan and Thomas Watson and Richard Templin. The last named came from Maryland. Rhoden Thompson, Notley Hill, Henry Snell, Samuel Mouns, Archibald Clinton, Stokley Little, William Bennett, Henry Spurling, Otho Craig, Abram and George Bowman and Daniel Carroll, were also among those who settled here in early years, and many of them have descendants who now reside in this township.

Abram Butler came to this township in 1831 from Belmont County, this state. He was born in New England and came to Ohio when a mere child. He laid out the town of Butlerville, which bears his name, and was in many other ways identified with the growth of the township. He died in 1880 at an advanced age.

Gen. Benjamin Baldwin was also one of the early settlers in Harlan Township. He was the son of Samuel Baldwin, who came to this township very early. Gen. Baldwin, as he was generally known, was perhaps the most prominent of the early settlers, and it is a matter of regret that so few dates and facts regarding him can be obtained. In appearance Gen. Baldwin was a large man of good figure and commanding presence, and in bearing a type of military man seldom met with. For several years he was commissioned and served as a general in the Ohio Militia. He was elected and served several terms as Justice of the Peace. In1828 he was elected as the Jacksonian candidate as the Representative of the county in the Ohio Legislature, of which body he proved to be a valuable member. He was in 1834 appointed and commissioned one of the associate Justices of the Common Pleas Court for Warren County.

He was a man of more than ordinary abilities, of superior natural attainments, and possessed of those qualities and honesty of purposes which made him an honored and valuable member of the community and period in which he lived

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


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This page created 5 June, 2003 and last updated 19 September, 2012
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