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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Early History Of Lebanon

Dallas Bogan on 28 August 2004
The following is taken from Dallas Bogan's, "Early Transportation in Warren County,"
as written by Josiah Morrow. Lebanon is the county seat of Warren County. This writer believes that the subject should be covered as to how it was founded and formed. .
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

"A LOG TAVERN IN LEBANON--There was a log house in Lebanon which had about as many claims to distinction as the Newcom house in Dayton. It was in Lebanon the first well-built house, the first tavern, the first place for holding courts, the first store, and in the first years of the town's existence the most important resort for prospectors and settlers. This was the Black Horse Tavern, and its proprietor was not only the first tavern keeper in Lebanon but also one of the original proprietors of the town and the second sheriff of Warren County.
"Of this historic building we do not have even a picture. It is known, however, that it was built by Ichabod Corwin, the first settler at Lebanon. It was the second house erected by him in the place, his first cabin being built in 1796 in the northwest of the ground now included in the town and was west of the North Branch of Turtle Creek. His second house was built about 1799 or 1800 and occupied by Mr. Corwin for a while as a residence and in it his daughter Lucinda, afterward Mrs. A.H. Dunlevy, was born December 8, 1800. Before the town was laid out in September 1802 Mr. Corwin sold the house and fifteen acres about it to Ephriam Hathaway, who made it a tavern with the sign of a Black Horse.
"A.H. Dunlevy who was familiar with the building from his boyhood and doubtless saw his father holding court in it, has given in his historical sketches of Lebanon a description: `It was built of hewed logs, pointed with lime mortar instead of clay and covered with walnut shingles fastened with wooden pegs instead of nails.' I once asked Mr. Dunlevy to describe its exact location. He said it was on the east side of Broadway, north of the present site of the Lebanon National Bank, but, being built in a clearing before the town was laid out, it stood back of the street. It was demolished about 1826.
"The act of the first State Legislature organizing Warren County provided that until a permanent seat of justice was established courts should be held at `the house of Ephriam Hathaway on Turtle Creek.' The first official business of the county was transacted in this house by the Associate Judge of the county on May 10, 1803, when the whole county was divided into four townships, viz: Deerfield, Franklin, Wayne and Hamilton. The town of Lebanon was for some years in Deerfield Township.
"In 1846, twenty years after the building was torn down, Henry Howe made his first visit to Lebanon in search of materials for the first edition of his Historical Collections of Ohio. Old settlers told him of this old building as the first place for holding courts in the county and that John Huston opened a store in it in the summer of 1803. It was described to him as a two-story log building erected for a dwelling by Ichabod Corwin, afterward occupied as a tavern by Ephriam Hathaway until about 1810. It was erroneously said to have been the only house on the original town flat when the town was laid out. It is known that Silas Hurin, one of the original proprietors of the town, had his residence at that time near the south-eastern corner of the plat, Ichabod Corwin had his residence northwest and Samuel Manning east of the ground platted for the town. The tavern was the only building in the central part of the town as first platted.
"COURTS IN LOG TAVERNS--It was in the year 1803 that Joshua Collett, the first lawyer in the county took up his residence in Lebanon. He became Prosecuting Attorney, Common Pleas Judge and Judge of the supreme Court of the State. In the same year Francis Dunlevy, who was chosen President Judge of the Circuit embracing the western third of the state.
"The town did not grow rapidly before the question whether it was to be the permanent county seat was settled. Isaiah Morris, afterward of Wilmington, sold goods for his uncle in Lebanon and he has related that the town in June 1803 had one tavernkeeper, one lawyer, one storekeeper and one or two other men and they constituted the entire male population. It is probable that the lawyer and the store keeper boarded at this tavern. "The first court of Common Pleas for Warren County was held in this tavern on the third Tuesday of August, 1803. Francis Dunlevy, President Judge, William C. Schenck, founder of Franklin, was foreman of the first grand jury of the county. No cases seem to have been tried and the next term when Jacob Burnet of Cincinnati and Joshua Collett of Lebanon appeared as attorneys in the first case trial in the county.
"The Supreme Court was then required by the State Constitution to hold one session each year in every county. The first session of the Supreme Court for Warren County was held in the tavern, October 6, 1803, two judges on the bench. The Supreme Court then tried cases with juries in the different counties. In the Supreme Court at Lebanon in November, 1805, a defendant was arraigned on an indictment charging him with stealing from Ephriam Hathaway, the tavern keeper, a pocket book and money of the value of 116 cents. The accused pleaded guilty and was sentenced to be `whipped on his naked back three stripes.' To the credit of Ohio it is said that public whipping as a legal punishment was soon abolished and has never been reinstated.
"When Francis Dunlevy of Lebanon became the first President Judge of the First Circuit he was required to hold three sessions of court each year in six counties, viz: Hamilton, Butler, Montgomery, Greene, Warren and Clermont. In most of these counties courts were first held in log taverns.
"Judge Dunlevy held his office fourteen years and large as was his circuit, it is said he never missed a court and sometimes swam his horse over the Miamis rather than fail to be present."

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This page created 28 August 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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