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Early Settlements


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Transcription contributed by Martie Callihan 3 December 2004

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

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The first settlement in the township was made at Bedle’s Station in 1795. September, 1795, is believed to be the time at which the first families were brought to that place and lived in the cabins protected by Bedle’s Block House. Here William Bedle, with his sons-in-law and their families, lived in much simplicity. The clothing of the grandchildren is said to have been made principally out of dressed deerskins, and some of the larger girls were sometimes clad in buckskin petticoats and short gowns. Within two or three years, other settlers gathered around in such numbers that Bedle’s Station, as it was long known, although the blockhouse erected as a protection against the Indians proved to be unnecessary, became a well-known place and quite a strong settlement.

The first cabin in the immediate vicinity of Lebanon was built by John Shaw, a member of the Seceder Church, in the fall of 1795, and the next spring he brought his family to the place. He had a large family of six sons and as many daughters nearly all full-grown, large and robust. He owned the west half of the section on which the northwest part of Lebanon stands, and was soon able to clear and cultivate a considerable tract.

Ichabod Corwin, who owned the east half of the same section, came from Bourbon County, Ky., and settled, in March, 1796, on land now in the northwest part of Lebanon. His first cabin was on the west side of the North Branch of Turtle Creek. He had first seen this land while serving on a military expedition against the Indians. In the winter and spring of 1799 and 1800, he built a second and better house of hewed logs, pointed with lime mortar and covered with walnut shingles, put on with pegs instead of nails. It stood near the center of the town of Lebanon as afterward laid out, and became known as “the house of Ephraim Hathaway on Turtle Creek” – the first seat of justice of Warren County. In the spring and summer of 1796, Mr. Corwin succeeded in clearing and planting with corn about twelve acres. Before the corn was worked, the Indians stole all his horses. He returned to Kentucky to obtain another team. He there purchased a yoke of oxen and hired a Yankee to drive them to the plow – a work then unknown to the Kentuckians. After his horses were stolen, he carried meal or flour from Waldsmith’s Mill, on the Little Miami, twenty miles distant, to provide his family with bread. Ichabod Corwin died October 26, 1834. On his tombstone we read: “The deceased was the first settler on the place where Lebanon now stands – March, 1796.”

Henry Taylor settled on the west half of Section 5 before the close of the year 1796. He built a house on the south side of Turtle Creek, half a mile below the site of Lebanon. His residence was a frame one-story building, covered with split-and shaved weather-boards and shingles made on the ground, and was tenantable as late as 1840. About 1803, he sold his place and moved to Butler Count, Ohio.

Samuel Manning, a native of New Jersey, emigrated to the Northwest Territory in 1795. He purchased of Benjamin Stites the west half of the section on which the court house stands, at $1 per acre, and settled east of the site of Lebanon about 1796. He died at Lebanon in 1837, aged seventy-five years.

John Osborn, Sr., also settled east of Lebanon about the year 1796. He

 
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died at Lebanon in 1859, aged ninety years. Among the early settlers east of Lebanon were Daniel Banta, Jacob Trimble, William Dill, Patrick Meloy, and several brothers named Bone.

During most of the winter and spring of 1798-99, a company of Indians had their camp on the hillside south of the Cincinnati pike and on the western part of what is known as Floraville, in Lebanon. They encamped for a short time for several succeeding springs in the vicinity of Lebanon, for the purpose of making sugar.

In 1798, Matthias Corwin, the father of Gov. Corwin, settled on a farm northeast of Lebanon. His mother, brothers and sisters accompanied him from Kentucky. It is said that, while the neighbors were raising his cabin, Matthias Corwin took his gun, and, going but a short distance into the woods, killed a large supply of turkeys for the dinner prepared on the occasion. A flock of several hundred wild turkeys, and droves of six or eight deer, would sometimes be seen; at other times, both deer and turkeys were scarce.

Ichabod B. Halsey was an early settler and prominent citizen of the township. He was the son of Maj. Daniel Halsey, of New Jersey, and received from his father a section of land on condition that he would settle upon it and improve it. The section was No. 31, north of Lebanon, and contained over eight hundred acres, all good land. Mr. Halsey became one of the wealthiest and most prosperous citizens of the township; but, about 1822, he lost all his property by becoming surety for his friends. His splendid farm and his chattels were sold to pay the debt of the business firm for which he had become surety, and he and his family were turned out of their comfortable home. Much sympathy was expressed for the unfortunate pioneer, but the sympathy of Judge Francis Dunlevy took a practical turn. The Judge invited Mr. Halsey and his family to make their home on his farm, which was gladly accepted. Twenty acres were assigned them at one corner of the farm, where a cabin was built and other improvements made with the aid of neighbors. Here the unfortunate family had a rude but comfortable home for some years. Before the organization of the Turtle Creek Township, Mr. Halsey’s land was in Franklin Township, and his name is found in the list of Trustees of the latter township.

In the autumn of 1798, Aaron Hunt and family settled in the section south of the present site of Red Lion. They emigrated from Washington County, Penn. Aaron, the father, and his eldest son, Charles, made the journey on horseback to Cincinnati, where they awaited the arrival of the remainder of the family, who came down the Ohio on a flat-boat. In the winter of 1799-1800, John Hunt, son of Aaron, then a lad seven years of age, broke his arm between the elbow and shoulder by falling against the sharp end of a log. There was no doctor within less than thirty miles. John’s mother assumed to responsibility of acting as surgeon for the broken arm, and set the fractured bone, and soon the young patient mended rapidly. “In 1802, the first wheat crop raised by the Hunt family ripened. The only implement the family had with which to harvest it was a butcher knife. Mrs. Hunt, at her own suggestion, started for Cincinnati to purchase a sickle, leaving a babe three months old in the care of the children. She went on horseback, riding on a man’s saddle, taking with her a piece of linen manufactured by herself with which to buy the sickle. After an absence of three days and two nights, having been detained one day by a storm, she returned with the needed implement. The babe did well in her absence. The wheat was cut, threshed and ground, but it proved to be ‘sick wheat,’ the bread made from it producing sickness at the stomach and vomiting.”

Benjamin Morris emigrated from New Jersey about 1794, and, after passing a few years in Hamilton County, came, in 1797, to the neighborhood now

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known as Green Tree. About the same time, his father, Isaac Morris, purchased and settled upon a tract of about four hundred acres, now owned by the North Family of Shakers.

David Reeder, on February 28, 1797, received a deed from Jedediah Tingle for 320 acres, one-half of Section 12, west of Lebanon, for which he paid $313.33. About the same time, he settled upon this tract and gave name to that branch of Turtle Creek which flows past the Children’s Home, which was long known as Reeder’s Run. Jedediah Tingle, about 1797, settled upon the north half of the same section.

Elder Daniel Clark, the pioneer Baptist preacher, in 1797 settled upon a little tract of land purchased by him about four miles northeast of the site of Lebanon. He was a native of Pennsylvania, and was licensed to preach in that State, and, about 1790, removed to Columbia, where he preached to the Baptists in the absence of Elder John Smith. James McBride, in his pioneer biographies, says of the Baptists at Columbia: “In February, 1792, the congregation resolved to build a house of worship, which was to be thirty-six feet long by thirty feet wide, with galleries. It was not completed until late in the year 1793. On September 23, 1793, Elder John Gano, a venerable Baptist minister, visited Columbia and preached to a large and attentive congregation in a beautiful grove of elms near the village (the meeting-house not being yet completed). After the sermon, Mr. Gano, in connection with the pastor, Mr. Smith, ordained Daniel Clark to the Gospel ministry, in a solemn and impressive manner. This was the first ordination in the Miami country.” Elder Clark is regarded as not only the first ordained minister in the Miami country, but the first in the Northwest Territory. He began preaching at the Clear Creek and Turtle Creek Baptist Churches about 1798, and continued to preach at Lebanon until he became too feeble by reason of old age. He died in 1834, aged ninety years. He is described as a plain man, with little education, his sermons being marked by frequent quotations from the Scriptures. The Bible is said to have been the only book with which he was familiar, except, perhaps, ”Pilgrim’s Progress.” but his life and conduct commanded respect and confidence.

The first mill in the township was built by Henry Taylor, on Turtle Creek, near where the present western boundary of Lebanon crosses the stream. It was built about 1799. Samuel Gallaher, an early settler on Turtle Creek, was a millwright, as assisted in building Taylor’s mill. Another millwright of the early times was named Sample, whose marriage to the daughter of Henry Taylor, in 1798, was the first wedding in the Turtle Creek settlement.

A man named Gunsawly is said to have been the first shoemaker in the settlement. He went from house to house, making and mending shoes for the settlers. Some of the first settlers, however, did their own cobbling.

The wheelwright business at that time was an important one, as the flax and wool for clothing was all homespun.

The first schoolhouse was a low, rough log cabin, put up by the neighbors in a few hours, with no tool but the ax. It stood on the north bank of Turtle Creek, not far from where the west boundary of Lebanon now crosses Main street. The first teacher was Francis Dunlevy, and he opened the first school in the spring of 1798. Some of the boys who attended his school walked a distance of four or five miles. Among the pupils of Francis Dunlevy were Gov. Thomas Corwin, Judge George Kesling, Hon. Moses B. Corwin, A. H. Dunlevy, William Taylor (afterward of Hamilton, Ohio), Matthias Corwin (afterward Clerk of Court), Daniel Voorhis, John Sellers and Jacob Sellers.

“As the cold weather of 1798 commenced, this school was crowded with young men of a much larger size than had attended during the summer. At

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Christmas, it was determined to bar out the master, according to the custom of the times. The object in part was a mere frolic, in part to secure the holidays free from school, and sometimes the master was required to treat. When the barring out was successful, there was a regular and sometimes tedious negotiation between scholars and teacher, and the terms of pacification were required to be stipulated with precision. But the teacher was not easily thwarted. He was opposed on principle to treating, and he had served in so many campaigns that he had imbibed a spirit which knew not how to submit or suffer defeat. After having been driven from the window by long handspikes, with which he was several times severely struck, he retired for a time. Returning, he ascended, unobserved by the boys, to the top of the chimney, made of ‘cat and clay,’ and very large. He suddenly descended down the chimney, though a brisk fire was burning. The boys, astonished at his appearance from this unlooked for point, capitulated with as much coolness as, under the circumstances, they could command. Defeated in their Christmas frolic, on New Year’s Day the boys gathered recruits from the young men who did not attend school, and took much pains to secure every possible point of ingress. The fire-place was well guarded, the window secured and the door barricaded with large logs piled against it to the top. As the master approached, a loud note of defiance went up from the inmates. The scene was the more exciting as many of the neighbors had come to witness the siege, which was to result in the triumph or defeat of the young men. After surveying the field as well as he could from the outside, Judge Dunlevy soon determined on his mode of assault. Taking a large green log which had been brought for firewood on his shoulder, he stepped off some ten paces from the door, and then rushed with his utmost speed, bringing the end of the log against the top of the door. The concussion was so violent as to break the door and displace the logs on the inside so much as to open a hole, through which he instantly entered, to the terror and consternation of the boys. For a moment, there was some show of resistance, notwithstanding the fort had been captured. But this soon subsided. There were no more attempts to bar out Francis Dunlevy.” Another teacher who succeeded Dunlevy, it is said, not long after was barred out, and treated the boys to a gallon of stew.

The settlements of Bedle’s Station and on Turtle Creek, about the present site of Lebanon, formed in some respects a single neighborhood. The men met at the same house-raisings and log-rollings; the women, at the same social gatherings; and the children attended the same school. They attended also, for the most part, the same churches – the Presbyterian Church, near Bedle’s station, and the Baptist Church, east of the site of Lebanon.

In order to form a path for the children to the schoolhouse, the settler sometimes harnessed a horse to a log and dragged it through the tall and dense weeds and spice-bushes. Smooth foot paths winding through the deep woods led from one cabin door to another. When a settler was sick, the neighbors aided him, freely planting his corn for him, tilling or gathering it, or, in winter, supplying his family with firewood already chopped. Cincinnati being the nearest point at which merchandise could be purchased, two or three neighboring women would mount their horses on a summer morning, ride to that village, thirty miles distant, do their shopping and return the same day, a large portion of the journey being through an unbroken wilderness, without a single house on the road.

The following is a list of the names of pioneers who settled in the township before the close of the last century. It is not claimed to be by any means complete, but it is as complete as the writer was able to make it after extended researches:

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William Bedle, Francis Bedle, Joseph Bedle, James Blackburn, Daniel Banta, Benjamin Bundy, Robert Benham, Ichabod Corwin, Matthias Corwin, Joseph Corwin, David Corwin, Elder Daniel Clark, James Cowan, Daniel Cory, Noah Cory, Francis Dunlevy, William Davis, William Dill, Lewis Drake, Peter Drake, Joseph Dill, Ithamer Drake, Levi Estell, Samuel Gallaher, Joseph Hatfield, Nathan Hathaway, Ichabod B. Halsey, Daniel Hole, Aaron Hunt, Silas Hurin, Jacob Holloway, Thomas Humphreys, John Hormel, Teter Kesling, Henry Kesling, Thomas Lucas, Job Mulford, Isaac Morris, Benjamin Morris, Samuel Manning, John McCain, Patrick Meloy, James McCreary, James Norris, John Osborn, Augustine Price, Wyllis Pierson, David Reeder, John Shaw, Peter Sellers, Jacob Sellers, Jonas Seaman, Matthias Spinning, Samuel Sering, Henry Taylor, John Terry, Jonathan Tichenor, John Tharp, Jacob Trimble, Aaron Tullis, Jedediah Tingle, Cornelius Voorhis, James Voorhis, Edward Woodruff, Moses Williams, Enos Williams, Peter Yauger.

The following article on the health of the early settlers of the Turtle creek Valley was written by A. H. Dunlevy in 1879. It is given at length for the reason that, in addition to the subject of health, it gives much history of the earliest settlers in the neighborhood in which the author passed his boyhood: “There is no one living here now who was so early in this neighborhood as myself. I knew all the sites of the graveyards before there was any burial here, and some two years before there was a death in all the neighborhood around Lebanon, as since laid out. I was present at the burial of the first grown person who died in this county. This was in the fall of 1799, and was a young man named John Price, who accidentally shot himself. He was buried in the old Presbyterian graveyard. There had been one burial a short time before – a child of old Daniel Banta, who settled as early as 1795, in the fall of that year, about a mile east of Genntown, now called. All the Bantas in the neighborhood are his descendants, as I remember. “It is generally believed that a new country, wooded with a dense forest and immense growth of weeds and grass, in uniformly unhealthy. This, I am sure, is a mistake. If the new country is naturally well drained, I think the less of the bare surface of the ground exposed to the hot sun of summer, the greater the health. In giving the proof of this position, I might refer to many facts, but this would require too much time, and I will only give the fact on this subject, in relation to our neighborhood – that in which I was reared for sixteen years of my early life. That neighborhood was bounded by the North Branch of Turtle Creek and the Dayton road on the east, the Hamilton or Shakertown road on the south, and extending two and a half miles west, then two miles north, then two and a half miles east to the section line on which the Dayton pike is laid. This neighborhood had its school property in 1798, most of the houses in its center. In this neighborhood I was raised, and not only know every resident in its bounds, but was familiar with every acre of its surface, and I therefore speak with certainty.

“Its inhabitants, from 1797 to 1800, consisted of the following families, with their children, thence soon after born: Ichabod Corwin and thirteen children; John Shaw and twelve children; Jacob Sellers and four children; Peter Sellers and four children; Wyllis Pierson and seven children; Benjamin Bundy and five or six children; and Jacob Holloway and five children, as I recollect; Noah Corey and four children; Jedediah Tingle and thirteen children; David Reeder and four children; Jonathan Tichenor an four children; Edward Woodruff and eight children; James Blackburn and seven children; Daniel Corey and eight children; James McCreary and five children; Samuel Gallaher and eight children. These were the original settlers in this neighborhood, with a few

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exceptions, where they soon left it, and that which I consider the most remarkable fact is that all these children of the eighteen families above named, and consisting of 125 children in all, were raised to maturity without one death in any of the families, with the exception of one child still-born, not included in the above enumeration. I might name other families which came into this neighborhood at different periods after these original settlers, and the same health attended them.

“The only two deaths I the neighborhood, until 1810, were a hired hand of Ichabod Corwin, about 1806, and a child of William Stevens, about 1809, both of consumption, and both recent settlers in the neighborhood. Such is my recollection, and I think I am entirely correct, as I have though of those remarkable instances of general health so long and so frequently, that, had there been any mistake, I should have been able at some time to remember it. “I do not confine myself to this neighborhood particularly so much because I think it was more healthy than others at that time, but because I was acquainted here, and must confine myself to some boundary, otherwise I would not know where to stop. Still, on account of it perfect drainage, I think it was more healthy that others. Until 1810, there was no bilious fever known in this county, and I never knew of a case of intermittent, or ague, generally called, which originated in said neighborhood, until the year 1830. In 1810, there were several cases of bad bilious fever and two deaths of grown persons within the neighborhood. One of these was Peter Sellers, father of Dr. Sellers, of Lebanon, and the other Mr. Jacob Sellers, a near neighbor and relative of Peter Sellers. There were a few cases of this fever in this neighborhood during that year, but all the others recovered.

“In the year 1814, the cold plague, as called, prevailed generally all over the United States, and in Lebanon, a town of some one thousand inhabitants, there were many deaths, but in the above neighborhood I recollect of but three cases of cold plague; one of these, James McCreary, died; the other two recovered. “In the year 1819, there was much sickness throughout the Miami country, the first year of general sickness which had been known here from the first settlements, except the year of the cold plague. The spring and summer, up to the middle of July, had been very wet. It then became very dry and hot, and scarcely any rain fell from the middle of July until the last of October. This sudden drought and heat soon poisoned the surface water, and seriously affected wells and springs; and the consequence was that dysenteries or bloody flows prevailed to an extent never known before or since. In one of the above families, that of Jedediah Tingle, there were three or four deaths, two of them, at least, from dysentery. One, I think was supposed to be from consumption. These cases of fatal dysentery were evidently the result of bad water. Mr. Tingle, from his first settlement, had used a spring which had heretofore afforded healthy water; but the dry, hot weather of 1819 so affected this spring that it became green, and the water contracted a bad taste and smell. This information I had from neighbors who sat up with and nursed the sick in the family at that time; and Mr. Tingle was so thoroughly convinced of that fact that he immediately afterward dug a well and abandoned the old spring as a supply of water for the family.

“Now I attribute the uncommon health of the above neighborhood, first, to its almost perfect natural drainage; in which area of two and a half by two miles it had but two or three swamps or bogs, so common in new countries, and these were very small, and two of them were on hillsides, so as to drain them pretty well; and secondly, the well and spring water in all this neighborhood was from the very fact of its perfect drainage, pure and healthy, with the one exception which I have referred to – that of Jedediah Tingle’s spring.

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“And now, in the close of this long article, let me say that my object was to show the importance of perfect drainage to the health of families and communities. Long observation has convinced me that more of our sickness is the result of impure water, not only the water used for drinking and house use generally, but the water around our dwellings, in the form of pools or mudholes, however small, than from all other causes of summer diseases.

“In my limits of the above neighborhood, I purposely left out forty acres of the original farm of Ichabod Corwin, because it lies on the east side of the North Branch of Turtle Creek, and forms almost the entire part of the original plat of Lebanon. I could not undertake to give the particulars of the health of the whole town. But besides this, there were on this plat originally some three pieces of swampy ground, naturally well drained, but, by the improvements of its streets, this drainage has been much impeded, and, as I have long thought, thereby seriously affecting the health of the most populous portion of Lebanon. These swampy places have been covered up, but the old channels which supplies them with water remain, while the original drains have been impeded by filling them up with culverts, and thereby the water is retained to stagnate and penetrate the wells in the country, and render their water unhealthy. This has been my opinion for years, but I have been alone on this subject, and perhaps may be in error.”

The early records of the township are lost, or at least are not in the custody of the present township officers. From other sources, we are able to learn the names of those who held the office of Justice of the Peace. Robert Benham and Samuel Sering appear to have held this office under the government of the Northwest Territory before the organization of the State; whether they held the office after they became residents of the township does not appear. At the first elections of Justices in Warren County, Turtle Creek Township was not organized, but persons residing within the limits of the township were elected to the office. Matthias Corwin and John Miller were commissioned Justices of Deerfield Township, and Wyllis Pierson of Franklin Township, prior to 1804.

The following-named persons were commissioned Justices of the Peace for Turtle Creek Township prior to 1825: Enos Williams, Matthias Corwin, Silas Hurin, John T. Jack, James Long, Patrick Meloy, John Welton, Wyllis Pierson, Abram Van Vleet, Benjamin Sayres, John M. Houston, James Cowan and Jeremiah Smith. Several of these served for a number of successive terms. The copy of an old receipt, the original of which is in the possession of the writer, is given for the purpose of indicating the character of currency of former days:

Lebanon, 26 June, 1820

Rec’d of John Hart, Esq., Treasurer of Turtlecreek Township, one Book and four
notes of hand – One on Jabish Phillips for $13.46, one on S. & J. Welton for $11.00, one
on J. Davis and Jonathan Davis for $5.50 and balance $10.87 ½ on Foster, Drake & Earnheart.
As also nine dollars Cincinnati Corporation paper, one dollar Steam Mill paper,
and ten dollars fifty-six and one fourth cents, in all $20.56 ¼ - all of which is property of the
Township.

Geo. Kesling,
Treas. T. T.


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