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Early Settlements


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Transcription contributed by Martie Callihan 12 April 2005

Sources:

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


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Probably the first settlement in, the county, south of the Little Miami River, was in the .autumn of 1795, on lands now owned by William P. Mounts, three miles b«low the mouth of Todd's Fork. This settlement was made by William Mounts' family, and five other families. It was known as Mounts' Station. An account of this settlement was furnished by the writer for the history of Hamilton Township.

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The families making the settlement had been stopping temporarily in Kentucky and at White's Station, on Mill Creek, for about two years. As soon as the news of their safe arrival on their lands reached their friends in Virginia, where many had been anxiously awaiting the result and report of the advance, there was at once the most tremendous, tide of emigration from all the east, but especially from Virginia and Pennsylvania. A few families had come with the settlers at Mounts' Station and stopped temporarily at what is now called South Lebanon. Many of the first settlers had been soldiers under Gen. Wayne in the Indian wars. Col. Paxton commanded a regiment of Pennsylvania troops, and immediately after peace was established removed to Clermont County. He had already located several tracts of land in Warren County, which had been surveyed in 1792-93, Todd's Fork took its name from Paxton's son-in-law, Robert Todd, who was one of the surveying party, and located lands on the stream as early as 1787. Another of this surveying party was Martin Varner, who afterwards settled at Hick's Station. He was the father of Jacob Varner, and the grandfather of Mrs. James Hicks. These men are thus specially noticed, not only because they were among the very earliest settlers in Warren County, but because they were here several years in advance of the first settlements, while the country was in possession of hostile Indians. Emigrants having no lands, and no money with which to purchase lands, could get a lease of from twenty to forty acres for from fifteen to twenty years, on condition that they would erect a cabin and clear the land and vacate it at the expiration of the lease. A list of the settlers in this township in 1805 would be of interest, but the following few only can be mentioned: Wm. Leggett occupied the farm now known as the "Stubbs farm;" Joseph and David Shawhan occupied the farm east of this; Thomas Miranda's father owned the present site of Morrow; the Irelands owned the Clement farm; the Wallaces owned the farm directly south of this; William T. Whitacre's grandfather owned 4,000 acres, beginning at the mouth of Todd's Fork, running almost to Butlerville, thence to Blackhawk, thence to the river, opposite Lambert's. He gave 1,100 acres off of the east side of the survey to have it located and surveyed. He had traded a small farm near Winchester, Va., for this warrant. The 1,100 acres from the east side was purchased by a Mr. Roach, of Harper's Ferry, Va., and was settled by his sons, Jonah, George, Phineas and Mahlon. The latter built the house now owned by Mrs. Ward about 1830, and also laid out the village of Roachester. Whitacre's lands were divided among his children, Moses, John, Andrew, Aquilla and several daughters. William T. lives on the site of his grandfather's first house. In 1805, when they located on the, land, they lived for a time in a hollow sycamore tree on the bank of the fork, near the site of the present bridge. About the year 1808 Whitacre built the first frame house in Salem Township. It was the first shingled house between Chillicothe and Cincinnati, and was designated as "the frame house" or the "shingled-roofed" house. It was built by James Hart, the father of Tilford Hart.

Jonathan Tribbey settled on the old Tribbey farm at a very early day. The Irelands came from Virginia in 1805 and settled on the Brown farm, opposite Morrow, and afterwards on the farm now owned by W. H. Clement, west of the brewery. The original Miranda farm embraced 200 acres, including the village of Morrow, a part of East Morrow, the Miranda burying ground (now a part of the cemetery), and the land where the brewery now stands, which was known as "the old Wilson farm." Amos Tullis owned the farm now owned by William H. Clement, just above the Catholic cemetery. At his house the first Presidential election in Hamilton Township was held in the fall of 1804. The people, being entirely ignorant of the manner of proceeding at an election, ranged themselves in lines, one line representing each candidate. At this election the longest line being in favor of Thomas Jefferson, Amos Tullis was directed to go to Lebanon, as their chosen elector, and cast the vote of Hamilton Township for Thomas Jefferson.

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The above was narrated by Joseph Mounts, Sr., who was present and a voter at this election.

Thomas Watson settled on the old Shawhan farm in the year 1797-98, having emigrated with the Mounts family and lived at Mounts' Station from 1795 until he moved to this farm.

The part of Salem north of the river was but little occupied until after 1800, when Cyrenus Jennings came from Virginia to purchase land. He selected land on the hills opposite what are now the Donally, Roach and Lownes farms, paying forty cents more per acre than he could have purchased the land south of the river for.

Samuel McCray and his wife, Rebecca Douglass, came to Warren County from Jefferson County, Va, in 1799. After spending the winter of 1799 and 1800 at Bedle's Station, they removed to what was called Smalley's Settlement, on Todd's Fork, and in the spring of 1801 they settled on the west side of the Little Miami, opposite the mouth of Todd's Fork. Mr. McCray afterwards resided in Lebanon, and still later owned the mill now known as the Zimri Stubbs Mill. He was an early sheriff of Warren County.

This concludes the settlement, up to 1805, by land owners, but there were many other settlements made by lease holders.

Some of the foregoing is obtained from traditions, and is liable to slight mistakes, but all possible care has been used to make it correct. Much has been learned from living witnesses and from the narrations of James Smith, a sketch of whose life is here given:

James Smith was born near Chambersburg, Pa., Feb. 28, 1790. His life was prolonged much beyond the limits usually allotted to man, and embraced a period of the history of our country from that of a wilderness, inhabited by barbarous Indians, to the present.

His grandfather, Col. Thomas Paxton, commanded a regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Indian war in Ohio and Kentucky, and in the year 1789 visited Kentucky, and in the year 1790 emigrated to that State, accompanied by his sons-in-law, John Ramsay, Silas Hutchison, and James Smith, (the latter being the father of the subject of the present sketch, who was then a child). A family history says: "They made the trip down the Alleghany River to Pittsburg, by flat-boat, where, for greater security, they were detained until a fleet of sixteen flat-boats had been organized. These boats were lashed together and worked with oars, tinder cover, with port-holes through which" to fire on the Indians, who were known to live on the banks of the river, but no attack was made until they arrived at the islands called 'The Three Sisters,' when they had a severe battle, resulting in the killing of several savages and the wounding of some of the whites. Without further molestation the fleet reached Limestone, now Maysville, in safety, where they were met by friends and escorted to their new home on Elk-Horn Creek, Fayette Co., Ky., near the village of Lexington."

Col. Paxton having visited Ohio in 1795-96, assisting in surveying the Virginia Military Reservation, and having purchased several tracts of land, in 1798 moved to Ohio, locating on the Little Miami River, on O'Bannon Creek, near the present site of Loveland; and his son-in-law, James Smith, located at Deerfield at the same time, and removed to his lands near Morrow in the year 1799, where his son, James Smith, resided until his decease.

The subject of this sketch served as an apprentice in the printing office of the Western Star under Judge John and Nathaniel McLean in 1807-8, and enlisted in the War of 1812 as an Indian scout and ranger. The original agreement of enlistment recites that he is to receive one dollar per day, to furnish himself with a good horse, saddle and bridle, and to arm himself with a good rifle, tomahawk and scalping knife; for this service he afterward, for many years, received a government pension. After the war he made two trips, on foot, over the mountains to

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his old home in Pennsylvania; afterwards worked on his farm during the summer and run flat-boats to New Orleans in the winter, returning home on foot—this being before the age of steamboats. In 1820 he married Jane, daughter of Thomas Ireland, who died Nov. 1, 1857. In 1860 he married Mrs. Dickey who died in September, 1864, since which time he made his home with his children and grand-children.

He was not, to appearances, physically, a robust man, but was of a long-lived race—his father and mother both reaching near the age of ninety. He was regular and temperate in his habits, unassuming, quiet and retiring in disposition, calm and deliberate in all his undertakings, and positive in his religious convictions. He retained his physical and intellectual faculties to a remarkable extent in his extreme age. His long life of industry, prudence and economy, resulted in the accumulation of a considerable estate, which he, many years previous to his decease, divided among his children, retaining, however, a competence for his own wants. Until a few days preceding his death he was able to ride on horseback, visiting his children and superintending affairs on his farm.

After a brief illness, he sank quietly and peacefully to rest on the 30th day of August, 1881, aged ninety-one years, five months and seven days.


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