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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

From Palmyra To Kirkwood - The Early Progress Of Mason

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 26 July 2004
Source:
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page 125
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

This writer has quite a selection of material regarding the city of Mason. However, with the kind permission of Rose Marie Springman, I will attempt to draw from her very informative book, "Around Mason, Ohio: A Story."
William Mason, the founder of Mason, Ohio, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He was only sixteen at the time of enlistment and served his time as a private in the war for independence.
In 1789, General Josiah Harmar, who was a Revolutionary War General, gathered up an army to defeat the native Indians, which were assembled to the North in what is now Greene County. In 1790, with an army of 300 regulars and over 1100 volunteers, they left Fort Washington (now Cincinnati) for an encounter, which ended up as a total defeat for General Harmar's army. William Mason was one of these soldiers.
Apparently the Mason family landed at Columbia (now a part of Cincinnati), and William Mason's brother, John, a Baptist preacher, stayed in this frontier town. William's brothers, Samuel and James, removed to Palmyra, Tennessee. There is a possibility that William traveled to this locality for a visit.
Mason purchased 80 acres along the Little Miami River in Columbia Township from John Cleves Symmes on December 18, 1798.
William Mason's first marriage was to Mary McClelland of Cincinnati. He at this time was 38 years old. Their first birth was a daughter, Maria, just a year later. Their second child, Samuel, was born in 1801.
Some of the first settlers in Deerfield Township were greeted with massive forests that consisted of trees of many different varieties such as: giant elms, oaks, walnuts, maples, ash, hickory and cherry. The denseness of the trees and foliage was so considerable that only the Indian trails could be used for transportation.
Another deterrent for the early pioneers in Deerfield Township was the abundant amount of wild life. Such creatures as poisonous snakes, bear, deer, wolves, wildcats, and other small animals were at first a hindrance, but soon became a source for food.
After the peace treaty with the Indians (the Treaty of Greenville) in 1795, settlers began to trickle in. Some of the men and their families that entered Deerfield Township in 1796 were: Joseph Coddington, Moses Kitchel, Jeremiah Morrow, Thomas Espy and John Parkhill.
The next few years saw John Meeks, Robert Witham, John Bigham, Stephen Bowyer; Benjamin Ross, Peter Tetrick, Joseph Scofield, Judge Jacob D. Lowe; the Clark brothers, John, Elisha and Brazillia; and Benjamin Dodds, along with many others.
Shortly after peace with the Indians, schools of log structure were being erected. The early innovators were definitely interested in education. These structures were furnished with slanted boards nailed to the walls for desks; the benches consisted of split logs, and a stone fireplace was essential for the colder days. The schools were generally on a four-month per year schedule. The classes consisted of spelling, reading, the Bible, and limited arithmetic.
The early Baptists of the township found solace worshiping in each other's home. In 1804, they were recognized and admitted into the Miami Baptist Association. There is the possibility that William Mason's brother, the Rev. John Mason, was accountable for the congregation. Sometime later, a church not yet built, allowed the members to hold their services in a log schoolhouse along Muddy Creek near the Butler County line.
A church was built later just west of this location along with the establishment of a cemetery. The first names recorded at the church were: John Seward, T.T. Brown and Robert Witham.
In 1808, just seven years before the founding of Mason, the Presbyterian denomination was founded and were gathering in each other's homes for worship. At this time they called themselves the Unity Congregation of the Presbyterian Church. On December 3, 1812, Noah Cory and David Williamson, the first elders of the church, acquired a lot for $10 from Susan and George Howard. An adequate church was built. Families of the first church were: George, Mary, Peter and Hannah Williamson; John and Hannah VanDyke; Judge Jacob D. Lowe; Peter and Catherine Wikoff; John and Jane Lynn; John and Mary Monfort; and Noah and Hannah Cory.
In 1813, Jacob D. Lowe gave to the Unity Congregation a lot just west of the location of their church to be used as a cemetery. This cemetery was used until the early 1870's.
William Mason married again May 11, 1811, to Sarah Murphy, age 21. William and Sarah had four children, Elizabeth, William, Jr., Cynthia and Sarah.
The War of 1812 found twenty-six men from Deerfield Township involved in routing the British. Mason, at this time, aged 52, hired a substitute named Solsberry to go in his place. Mason furnished Solsberry with the essentials and supported the man's wife and family for the duration of his term.
Jacob Derrick Lowe platted a town of sixteen lots on his father's land (Section 31) in 1814. Each of the lots were proportioned five rods by 18 rods 3 feet deep. Two intersecting streets called Harmony and Mechanic were named. The town was named Unity.
In 1815, William Mason platted a town on the property he owned. He duplicated the sixteen lots that Jacob Derrick Lowe did the year before on his plat. Mason decided to change a part of the road from Cincinnati to Xenia. He met with no opposition. The main road ran southwest to the northeast through Mason's real estate; however, he wanted it to run straightaway east and west.
Mrs. Springman says:
"Starting at the section line on the east side of his property and just north of Muddy Creek, he struck a line due west for a distance that would accommodate two blocks and then angled southwest to meet the original road again. Each of the two blocks was divided into 3 one-half acre lots on each side of the new road.
"Dividing the blocks was a road called Bedle Station Road, possibly a trail from the North laid out years before to connect this original settlement in Warren County with the main road to Cincinnati.
"On the north side of Mason's new street the lots were only one deep but on the south side four saleable lots behind those on Main Street were planned along a narrow stream of water running from a natural spring to Muddy Creek."
Palmyra, Tennessee, was mentioned in this article previously. Mason possibly named his new town, Palmyra, from the town in Tennessee. Mason sold only one of his lots by 1816 and none again until 1821. His first sale was lot number 6 to James McCowen for $25. However, Mrs. Springman makes mention of several names being registered on the assorted lots. She says that perhaps the lots were being rented or possibly leased to the assignees.
The Union Methodist Society was organized in 1820. The meetings were held in a log house about two miles east of Palmyra. The name Union was possibly favored because many of the congregation farmed in nearby Union Township. Members of this assemblage included the following families: Frederick Cline, Brazillia Clark, Michael Bowman, Levi Bowyer, Stephen Bowyer, Elisha Clark, Joel Hanly and John Clap.
A community called Stringtown, located northeast of Palmyra, was situated along the primary road between Cincinnati and Xenia on present U.S. 42. Just north of the new town a school called the "Old Stone Schoolhouse" was built; it was later used as a recreation center.
Richard Sibbett built wool and carding mill just south of the school, but the venture turned sour and the mill was converted into a hatchery. Stringtown's advancement turned nil.
On April 26, 1823, William Mason sold Lot number 11 to Thomas Fugate for $100, the location being on the northwest corner of Main Street and Section Road. A hotel was built on this corner and for about a hundred years it prospered under many owners. Down through the years William Mason sold his lots to many families who came to be well-known residents in the County. Among these names were: George Bolander, William Lytle, Jr., Abram Parmeter, Mason Seward (Mason's nephew), William N. Kirkwood, John Kean and Archibald Hosbrook, to name a few.
On May 31, 1828, William Kirkwood bought lot number 12 and this might possibly have been the location of the first post office in Palmyra.
William Mason apparently moved from his farm to a house south of town previous to 1830. The house was located on Road Street and faced east toward Muddy Creek. A well was situated on the property in which the water was brought up by means of a well sweep. Mason's granddaughter, Flora Tetrick, wrote in her journal: "Grandfather was drawing water and fell in the well head foremost, struck his head and drowned. Ma had his hat for years, a silk plush colonial style, and the cut in the hat was about four or five inches. He drowned in February [1830]."
Palmyra had an official name change on April 25, 1835, to Mason. Apparently a mistake had been made on the part of the federal post office. They had listed the post office in the town on their records as Kirkwood, possibly because the postmaster was named William Kirkwood. Palmyra was the name suggested by the post office department. However, there was another town by the name of Palmyra in Ohio, and consideration was given to VanBuren as the new name.
Mason was the new name accepted for the pioneer town in honor of its founder. An official consent by the personnel in Washington, D.C. concreted the decision.


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This page created 26 July 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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