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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Massie Township Is Small In Size, But Big In Reward

Dallas Bogan on 30 August 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Our subject for this week and next will be Massie Township. It is quite small in size but big in reward. Within its boundaries one can find entertainment and historical features such as The Ohio Renaissance Festival, Pioneer Village, Caesar's Creek Reservoir, the first Free Negro school this side of the eastern mountains, the Bullskin Trace, the Hatton Lukens Park, and a mountain bike trail paralleled by none.

Massie Township

Massie Township is one of the smallest townships in Warren County. The then Board of County Commissioners, Benjamin Blackburn, Isaac Leming and John M. Snook organized it October 10, 1850. It was formed from Wayne and Washington Townships, and received its name from General Nathaniel Massie, one of the most extensive surveyors and landholders in Ohio.
The entire township lies within the Virginia Military District. The Virginia Military Lands are comprised of a large tract of lands lying between the Scioto and Little Miami rivers. Auglaize, Hardin and Marion counties bound it on the south by the Ohio River, and on the north. This tract contains about 4,000,204 acres.
After the Revolution, Virginia agreed to relinquish all her claims to the land northwest of the Ohio River in favor of the central United States Government.
However, Virginia was allowed to retain a portion of this territory known as the Virginia Military District, to satisfy the claims of those soldiers who had fought during the Revolution.
A great number of the land warrants were given to General Massie in 1790, to be surveyed and entered according to law. Nearly all the land in Massie Township was located under the laws of Virginia as early as August 1787.
General Massie made all the surveys, the first beginning in October 1792, three years before the Greenville Peace Treaty.

The Ohio Renaissance Festival

Situated in the northeastern portion of Massie Township, just east of Harveysburg on St. Rt. 73, is located The Ohio Renaissance Festival. This gala event began in 1990 with 35,000 people attending, and, according to Peter J. Carroll, President and Chairman of the Board, attendance is expected to reach 175,000 in 1997.
Having attended this festive event, the writer has found it very entertaining. It tends to take one back to another time and allow our daily chores and trials to disappear for a moment in time.
The Festival is situated on a 30-acre permanent village site. The time period is fixed in the year 1572; the setting is a 16th Century English village where Queen Elizabeth and her Court reign.
One hundred thirty craft shops abound where master craftspersons create and sell their treasures. Intriguing demonstrations of the time include pottery making, glass blowing, jewelery making, leather crafting, weaving, blacksmithing, calligraphy, and much more.
Minstrels can be found strolling throughout the grounds performing their colorful Renaissance music. More than 150 talented performers can be observed in 10 performance areas.
Full armored jousting by time-era knights appear three times daily. Additionally, skills of juggling, comedy acts, and balancing of the sword is an entertaining segment of the Festival.
The writer especially enjoys the Theater in the Ground, or in general terms, "the mud pit." Humorous literary classics including Beowulf & Dante's Inferno are actually performed in "mud."
The swordsmen display a rather unique comedy role along with splendid swordsmanship.
Queen Elizabeth displays her royalty by appointing adventurous boys and girls into Knights and Ladies of the Realm.
A classic tale of how Robin Hood met his faithful right-hand man, Little John, is portrayed.
A Renaissance Chapel has been constructed and is available for weddings and renewal of vows. Provisions can be made available through the Renaissance management and included into the activities.
Constructed to accommodate those who feel an urge to sip is The New Gamer's Pub.
A human combat chess match will attract attention as life- size chess board contestants maneuver for their places on the board.
And for the future, auto and truck shows, recreational vehicles shows, and hunting displays will be scheduled.
The food menu consists of turkey legs, steak-on-a-stake, stuffed potatoes, bread bowl meals, many different desserts, lemonade, tea and soft drinks.
Renaissance management will hire at the beginning 12 people this year, and, when in the peak season, 300 will be employed, mostly from Warren and Clinton counties. Youth groups, senior citizens, and PTA organizations are invited to participate in the Festival.
The Waynesville Rotary Club will be assigned the auto-parking chore, while the DeMolay youth group will operate the soft drink stands.
Job applications will be taken through the Ohio Renaissance Festival Job Fair, on July 28th and 29th from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the Festival site. Free of charge and incorporated into this Fair will be coaching in language and acting.
The Festival will be open eight weekends from Saturday, August 23rd, through Sunday, October 12th, including Labor Day. For more information please call 513-897-7000.

Pioneer Village

Although I have written at another time an article on Pioneer Village and, because of its historical significance in Massie Township, I feel it appropriate to review and rewrite that portion into this segment.
Pioneer Village had its start in the spring of 1973. Only one cabin was in existence during this event, the Levi and Elizabeth Cleaver Lukens cabin, built in 1807.
This family migrated to the area and purchased 1,000 acres along the banks of Caesar's Creek, which included the present site of Pioneer Village.
When the Village was in the planning stages, the council was told that a venture of this sort would last but about five years. However, some twenty-four years later, it has grown into a well-landscaped tract of land that encompasses nineteen reconstructed log buildings, and many out buildings, which appropriately fit in with the times.
The Village originally started out as 12 1/2 acres until about 1976, when the council asked the Corp of Engineers for additional land. This purchase was made adding an additional fifty acres.
Bill and Miriam Lukens began a search for a horse and wagon to furnish transportation for the visitors throughout the village site. They eventually found one in Centerville, and this method of travel was solved for several years.
Miriam stated that a cow was obtained for the village and the visiting children were shown the art of "milking."
The log buildings for the Village were disassembled at their original site and reassembled at the Village site, all except the Friends Church.
Enclosed within the log structures, one will find cozy fireplaces neatly situated, portraying a time of yesteryear. Also included within are furnishings of the same period.
Warren County and Massie Township are indeed fortunate to have within its boundaries a fine facility such as Pioneer Village. The main function of the association is to "bring history alive in the community."
Needless to say, like many other organizations, "volunteers" are the backbone of the Village. The present volunteers are too numerous to be mentioned in this column, but they know who they are. (I am told that additional volunteers are always welcome.)
The village is open year round. The actual maintenance and construction personnel consist of retired volunteers dedicated to their work, as evidence points out. They are on the grounds every Friday, year round, weather permitting. Knowledge concerning the actual construction of these log houses can be acquired simply by asking these gentlemen.
Maintenance of the exposed logs requires consistent upkeep. The Village is blessed with a fine group of workers and board personnel. However, since this is a non-profit organization, and funds are always scarce, each volunteer is required to double or triple his or her workload. I guess one might say, "Interest and dedication to the project overcomes any adversity."
Sharon Kingan, Vice-president of the Village, says their motto is: "To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root."
Pioneer Village is located in Massie Township on Pioneer Village Drive. Drive east of Waynesville on Route 73 about 1 mile, turn right on Clarksville Rd. to Oregonia Rd., turn left on Oregonia Rd., and left at Pioneer Village Dr. From the I-71 vicinity take Route 73 west to Harveysburg; turn left on Oregonia Road and right on Pioneer Village Dr.

Caesar Creek Lake

Caesar Creek Lake has many attractions and recreations in Massie Township and, for this reason; I will attempt to write a short history on this project.
The Flood Control Act approved June 28, 1938 authorized the Caesar Creek Lake Project. The dam site is located on Caesar's Creek approximately four miles southeast of Waynesville, and ten miles northeast of Lebanon, on Clarksville Road.
The reservoir area is located in Warren, Clinton and Greene Counties, and extends upstream along Caesar's Creek to the intersection with Winchester Road in Caesar's Creek Township, Greene County; and along Anderson Fork to the vicinity of its intersection with old Winchester Trail in the same township and county.
The Government acquired all lands for shoreline control within a minimum of 300 feet of the proposed high water line.
It is generally accepted that Caesar's Creek acquired its name from a Negro slave of the name of Caesar. An article was placed in this column June 9, 1996, concerning the name, and so at this time I will not go into detail of its origin.
Some of the recreational sites of the lake are Caesar Creek Gorge, Fifty Springs, Flat Fork Ridge, Furnas Shores, Mound Ridge, Wellman Meadows, and the Beach. Contained within some of these locations can be found bath houses, boat ramps, bridle trails, camping, fishing platforms, hiking trails, overlooks, picnicking, a restaurant/snack bar, self-guided trails, and showers.
The Caesar Creek Gorge State Nature Preserve is located just below the dam. It is a 483-acre tract that was dedicated January 2, 1975, as a commitment to the area's scientific and educational values for present and future generations to come.
The steep walls rise to 180 feet above the water level where more than two miles of Caesar's Creek flow through the gorge to the Little Miami River.
A trail system, more than two miles long, known as Caesar's Trace, was fashioned to allow visitors to explore and experience the preserve's abundant features.
Beech, maple, hickory and oak trees are among the attractions along Caesar's Trace. Also found are aquatic insects and small fish such as darters which says much for the pure waters.
Construction on the lake project began in October 1971, it becoming functional in January 1978. Among its objectives are flood reduction, recreation, water supply, and fish and wildlife conservation.
The lake provides a water supply source for surrounding communities. The City of Wilmington and Caesar Creek Lake have formed an alliance that allows the city to withdraw water from the lake for present and future population growth.
The dam is of an earth and rock fill foundation. Its height is 165 feet and its length 2,750 feet. Drainage area above the dam is 237 square miles, while the total project acreage is 10,550. The lake, in winter months, is 7 miles in length, while in summer months, 7.5 miles.
The Caesar Creek Lake project was built for $62.9 and has prevented over $48.9 million in flood damages.
Just south of the dam on Clarksville Road can be found a natural rock formation that contains fossils unlike any other in the world. Some of the fossils found in this area are Brachiopod, Cephalopod, Bryozoan, Gastropod, Crinoid, Horn Coral and Triolobite. Fossil collecting in this section is prohibited without first checking in at the Corp office or the visitor center.
Much controversy was raised over land acquisition concerning the lake project and monies offered and received, but at this time, the writer does not feel compelled to write on the subject. (Many thanks to the personnel at the Visitor's Center for their help on this portion of the article.)

First Free Black School

The village of Harveysburg had the first free Black School in the Northwest Territory. Dr. Jesse Harvey, with his wife Elizabeth Burgess Harvey as its first teacher, built it in 1831.
Harveysburg, like some other small communities in the area, was a Quaker settlement. One of the beliefs of the Society of Friends was nonviolence in any form: this encompassed the slavery issue.
Stephen Wall, a planter from Richmond County, North Carolina, sent agents north to locate an area or town in which his slaves could be educated. He was recommended to Dr. Jesse Harvey, and, with the subject addressed, Dr. Harvey promised to open a Negro school the following fall. Financing of the school was by the Grove Monthly Meeting of Friends of which the Harvey's were members.
In the fall, just before the opening of the school, Mr. Wall brought a number of young mulattos to Harveysburg. The children, numbering eight, were of three mothers and one father, their masters.
Along with Mr. Wall's children were other children, numbering twenty-five, which were also to be educated in Dr. Harvey's school.
Mrs. Harvey was a housewife and mother of three children. She taught in the Academy of Sciences for two years; Isaac Woodward taught the school until his death, and, again, Mrs. Harvey was the teacher.
Harveysburg Quakers were highly criticized for an institution comprised of an all Black school. However, opinions changed when positive sentimentality toward the oppressed people, and opposition to the slave owners seemed overwhelming.
With the new trend in tact, the Harveys were highly criticized for not having integrated schools. Dr. Harvey was the first to integrate by building a seminary in 1837, which included classes for Negro students as well as white.

The Bullskin Trace

Located approximately one-half mile on the east side of Harveysburg, in Massie Township, lies an old Indian trail called the Bullskin Trace. In their quest for a new home by the early adventurers in the Northwest Territory, the Bullskin Trace helped solve the problem and became a well-traveled artery for these early pioneers.
Every type adventurer and home-seeker followed these narrow path-like traces. The steady increase of the population flow allowed the paths to become a trail, a road, a stage road, and a post road for the delivery of the mail.
Next came the toll-pike, the free turnpike, and finally the Interstate system.
This trace was at one time one of the main northern routes used by the Negro slaves for their escape from Southern oppression. The principle objective of the slaves was to traverse the northern states and exit into Canada: this trace served the purpose.
The Bullskin Trace was an essential part of the prehistoric trails that led through Ohio. It extended from the old town of Rural (founded in 1845 and later destroyed by the flood of 1913), located on Rt. 133 at its southern tip on the Ohio River, through Ohio to its destination of Detroit, Michigan.
Its southern extension was used heavily as a trail following the high ridges along Locust Creek to the Great Salt Licks, located along the Licking River in Kentucky. The Great Salt Licks trail was a northern branch, which was connected to Daniel Boone's Wilderness Road, that ran south through the Cumberland Gap.
The name Bullskin was taken from a creek by that name that empties into the Ohio River in Clermont County.
A log house in the area of Western Maryland was known as Davenport's Meeting House where Thomas Scott, later Judge Thomas Scott of Ohio's Supreme Court, and Edward Tiffin, later first Governor of Ohio, used to preach. The name Bullskin can possibly be linked to this large Methodist migration.
Many names have been associated with the Bullskin Trace such as: the Augusta and Round Bottom Road, the Miami Warrior Trail, Corduroy Road, Detroit Highway, and the Xenia State Road.
On February 4, 1807, the Bullskin Trace, name changed to the Xenia State Road, was selected by the First Ohio Legislature as an official road its entire length from the Ohio River to Detroit. It was one of the first officially recognized state highways in Ohio. (A monument depicting the Bullskin Trace has been placed in the Hatton-Lukens Park located north on the Harveysburg Road next to the firehouse.)

The Hatton-Lukens Park

Many people give of themselves and their material possessions, and most are not recognized for these unselfish achievements: Miriam Hatton Lukens is one of these citizens.
Miriam donated 35.515 acres to the Warren County Board of Park Commissioners for the purpose of a public park, location previously stated. It was created in 1989 in memory of the late Eleanor Hatton, sister of Miriam, and Miriam herself.
The park is about 1/3 completed, and when finished, total development cost will be $976,580. As it stands now, the picturesque park has two soccer fields, two shelters, 1 ball field, horseshoe pits, and a fine recreational area for the children.
At completion there will be 5 soccer fields, 2 baseball fields, 2 concession stands, 3 volleyball courts, additional horseshoe pits, 4 shelters, and additional playground equipment. Also included will be a one-mile paved hiking/walking trail around the perimeter.
This park development is ideal for family fun as well as relaxation. If you plan to take in one of the recreational spots previously mentioned, and need a place to gather yourselves, the Hatton-Lukens Park is perfect.

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This page created 30 August 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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