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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Deerfield Township's Early Planners Emigrated From Pennsylvania Lands

Dallas Bogan on 28 August 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The lower segment of Deerfield Township was a perfect place for settlement with respect to the early settlers. During the winter of 1796-97, Warren County was graced with the presence of three settlers who had traveled up the Little Miami River valley to survey the lands they had purchased from John Cleves Symmes.
These gallant men, whose names are Thomas Espy, Jeremiah Morrow and John Parkhill, had emigrated from the lands of Pennsylvania to Columbia, now a part of Cincinnati.
Their purchase extended from the Little Miami, near Foster, to Twenty Mile Stand, and contained several hundred acres. Upon this property they opened farms and lived long as neighbors. The land was purchased for $1.50 per acre.
All three men were neighbors and attended the same church in Pennsylvania. It was a branch of the Presbyterians, which was called Associate Reformed, now United Presbyterian.
David Espy, younger brother of Thomas, soon joined the threesome and all lived on adjoining farms in the township. They were among the first families in the southwest part of Warren County.
Thomas Espy became the father of eleven children, Jeremiah Morrow, eleven, and John Parkhill, fifteen.
Morrow was the only one who understood land surveying. For several months he had been examining the lands on both sides of the Little Miami near Columbia.
When arriving in the vicinity of Foster, they camped on a little island in the river opposite the mouth of a stream, which enters the Little Miami at this point. Some early surveyors named the stream Island Creek, because of its relationship to the island.
The island, which was located above the artificial island, Hoppe's Island, disappeared many years ago.
Their first night spent in now present Warren County was upon this island. They crossed the ice on which they found clumps of sycamores. The surveying party found a great deal of driftwood that warmed their camp the first night.
The next day they built near the center of their lands a "half-faced camp," an enclosure built with timbers on three sides only, the fire being built in front of the open side.
Land clearing by the pioneers was soon begun. The number of hardwood trees was excessive, thus a longer period in clearing. With hard labor, one hearty pioneer could fell the trees and burn the brush on an acre of ground in three weeks. The usual time for a settler to clear and open his farm was given as six or seven years.
Thomas Espy, the only settler who was married prior to their arriving, set up his household north of Twenty Mile Stand. Morrow and Parkhill later married and built their homes nearer the river.
The nearest post office was at Cincinnati, some twenty miles distant. They traveled twelve miles on Sunday to church near Sharonville.
Jeremiah Morrow returned to Pennsylvania and on February 19, 1799, was married to Mary Parkhill. They later returned to Foster and took up residence in a modest log cabin.
A few weeks had passed and the cabin was totally consumed by fire. They lost all their household goods and appliances they had transported from Pennsylvania.
On an announced day, settlers from miles around gathered, and in a single day constructed a new cabin of round logs, clapboard and puncheon floor. These pioneers were not the first landowners in this part of the county. Prior to Wayne's victory over the Indians land had been bought in this region by other proposed settlers. Because of the Indians defiance to the white man, the original lands could not be developed.
Judge Symmes' contract with his purchasers stated that a requirement of every locator of land was to place himself or some other person upon it and begin the work of improvement within two years from the purchase. If this were not done, one-sixth part of the purchase would be forfeited, to be taken off in a square at the northeast corner.
This forfeited land might be given to any volunteer settler who would occupy it and make improvements upon it. There were three forfeitures in Deerfield Township.
Some early county settlers were of a poor nature and completely destitute. To these persons were given lands on the forfeitures.
Symmes gave notice in the Cincinnati newspaper, the Centinel of the Northwest Territory, "that each claimant of a forfeiture should fence and clear in a proper manner, plant with corn and cultivate two acres, otherwise it would be deemed a relinquishment of his claim to the forfeiture."
Jeremiah Morrow was wandering through the woods one day in an area he thought was unoccupied by man. A stranger who had totally surprised him suddenly frightened him. The man, unshaven with his hair long and uncombed, had with him a hunting knife and a gun. His hands and wrists were covered with blood.
After a few startling moments a conversation evolved and explanations were made on both sides.
The stranger was a squatter on a forfeiture and had just killed a deer, which he was dressing. He lived alone a short distance away in a small hut, supporting himself mainly by his rifle. His name was Peter Tettrick.
Jeremiah Morrow was the only one of the original four who had the distinction to serve in public life. David Espy was the last living survivor, dying January 17, 1863. He owned the land on which the village of Twenty Mile Stand was established.

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