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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

The People And Sites Of Red Lion

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

go to Part I go to Part II go to Part III

Part I (This is the first of a three part series regarding Red Lion.)

Red Lion, like many other small hamlets, never grew to any great size. About all the prosperous villages were fashioned around a body of water, but none flows within Red Lion's vicinity.
Abner Crane, who apparently knew his farm lands, was a pioneer settler who traveled from New Jersey in 1795 and settled in Franklin Township, now Clear Creek Township (formed in 1815), purchasing land from John Cleves Symmes.
Crane purchased his first tract of land from Symmes and later, while on a hunting expedition, discovered that a fine spring of water was located on another tract. This he also purchased and built a log cabin on it.
It was later discovered that Symmes had sold the land, along with many other lands, for which he could not produce a deed. (Symmes Purchase parallels an east/west course from the Little Miami to the Great Miami. It closely follows Emmons, Monroe and Todhunter roads between these rivers.) Having to pay a second time for the lands, Crane elected to retain only the second tract.
Crane laid out the village of Westfield, now Red Lion, in 1817; it was laid out on the "west field" portion of his land.
The late Marion Snyder says in his article regarding Red Lion that Crane's farm was bounded on the north side by St. Rt. 122 with St. Rt. 123 forming the western boundary, and a portion was established on the south borderline until it veered southeast about halfway across the south side.
Red Lion is crisscrossed by a five-point highway system. Many of the original roads in the county were either private, public, or toll routes.
The road from Westfield to Middletown (St. Rt. 122) was called the Irish Road, it being perhaps named for Henry Irish who was an early settler in the area. This road east was known as the Cooper Mill Road, it leading to a water-powered mill on the Little Miami River.
The original road from Red Lion to Lebanon, from the first curve, followed a stream. The entire road from Lebanon to Franklin was a toll road.
The road north to Springboro (St. Rt. 741) was called the Sand Road. Snyder writes that the original Springboro Road "went straight north until it passed the first farm house. It then jogged to the left and continued north until it reached a road going east and west that came out on the Franklin Pike at the foot of the Rhoades hill."
Snyder writes that the course of the road is thought to be the reason the first church and its burial ground were located between what is now the Franklin and Springboro Pikes, as was William Ballard's match factory.
(This church was a Methodist congregation erected about 1825. The burial plot contains the graves of Abner Crane and his wife, along with members of the families of Isaac Morris, David Van Camp, Sam Warrick, Benjamin Morris and others.)
The first business in Westfield was a tavern that was constructed at the northeast corner of the five-point intersection, namely, the Red Lion Tavern, as per a sign of this effect. It faced west and was a long low log house with an attic in which people could sleep. In front was a wide uncovered porch of flagstones surrounded by a row of stones set on edge.
A Mr. Holly managed the tavern until 1849. Benajah Gustin then operated the tavern for a few years to pay a debt of $10,000 that he lost in the hog market. Mr. Gustin was a member of the early New Light Church and never used liquor or tobacco.
One source says that in 1854 the Red Lion Tavern was torn down and a large nine-room brick house was built on the property. In the center of the first and second floors were large halls. The attic was a large hall that had no connection with the main house, but was reached by an outside stairway access. It was the hall where the "Know Nothing" party met during the same period for its meetings.
William Ballard, the matchmaker, bought the property and then sold it to Mary Ballard Dearth, who later sold it to Charles Stanton Olinger.
Mr. P. Brown established the first post office in the village on the northwest corner 17 Nov 1828. It was located in the store of John S. Todd, he being a Whig. As national politics changed, so did the postmasters, they trading back-and-forth. The post office was discontinued 30 Sep 1903 and mail was relocated to Franklin.
Mail was carried by horseback in the past. Samuel Welsh delivered the mail between Franklin and Lebanon in a saddlebag across his little bay mare. Stagecoach lines were later established for this purpose.
S.H. Tilton, in April 1867, contracted to carry the mail from the Lebanon office. In 1872, Harry Osborn of Franklin started an omnibus service between Franklin and Lebanon, via Red Lion, and shuttled the mail for years. Other operations included "hack" service for mail delivery as well as passenger service.
John McLane was an entrepreneur who grew broom grass in great amounts and was said to have employed as many as 15 workmen when his broom making was at peak production.
Monroe Sweny had a tile and brick factory for many years.
John H. Stanton, at the age of 15, learned the wagon-making trade. He moved to Red Lion where he carried on a sizable business for years.
Cholera, an unknown disease at the time, broke out in the community in 1835 with Samuel Gustin as the first fatality. Cause of the disease was presumably to have come from victims eating fish from the Miami Canal near Franklin. Apparently the water supply in the canal diminished and the fish soon perished. Folks from miles around took them home and used them for food. The doctors were unable to do much for the victims during this time.
A Grange organization, the Patrons of Husbandry, was organized in Red Lion in the early 1870's; Robert Todd was the first master. The Grange movement prospered for many years, however, it declined as an operation in the 1890's, with Springboro and Waynesville as the only county branches. A new era was realized at the turn of the 20th Century, but organization was not experienced in small communities the size of Red Lion.
Public schools in Warren County were not formed for many years. Previously, pioneer schools were opened and maintained by subscription. A notice was placed in the "Western Star," dated 17 March 1817 that made a plea by Anthony Geohegan for students to register at the brick schoolhouse for their schooling. The established price was two dollars per quarter, one-half in produce at market price.
Irvina Dearth, in her "A Story of Red Lion," writes that this schoolhouse was located on a lot on the present Lebanon Road. She also writes, "the first building erected was probably of logs, but the first brick one was erected around 1811 and no doubt was the one referred to by Mr. Geohegan."
The Red Lion School was selected as school district No. 1, it being partly in Clear Creek and Turtle Creek townships.
According to Miss Dearth Red Lion was quite active in local and national politics. They had many meetings and a number of speakers of the day, along with parades, etc. Gen. Robert C. Schenck, from Franklin, called upon William Ballard in September 1868 in regard to a Republican meeting to be held at Carlisle. Gen. Schenck and Hon. E.M. Stanton were to be the speakers.
In preparation for this event, the Grant and Seymour Clubs met every evening prearranging for their meetings to be held in Red Lion and surrounding communities. In anticipation of the meeting at Carlisle, the Grant Club was occupied making costumes, fitting up wagons, etc.
Lebanon supplied five brass cannon, which passed through Red Lion on the way to Carlisle. They fired one cannon in Red Lion, thus proving its firepower.
The Lebanon Grant Club met the Red Lion Grant Club and both journeyed to Carlisle. One wagon, drawn by four horses, was a delightfully trimmed concern with large hay rigging on it for a bed. Many participants decorated their horses and rode horseback in the caravan.
All along the way folks turned out with flags, banners and other fitting replica in remembrance of the Rebellion. Carlisle's crowd was estimated to be between twenty and forty thousand.
On 30 October 1868 the Republicans held a meeting in Red Lion. A free supper, with plenty of good food for all, was served in Ballard's Hall. The Springboro Grant Club, fitted in uniform, joined the Red Lion Club in a torchlight procession. A delightful evening was had, except for a few Copperheads who possibly filled their whiskey glasses too full; they created a disturbance and had to be put out. A fine display of fireworks finalized the meeting.

go to Part I go to Part II go to Part III


This article will be comprised of citizens from Red Lion and surroundings as taken from the compilation of Irvina Dearth.
"Jeremiah Gustin" and family were natives of New Jersey and settled on a portion of land east of Red Lion in 1798. They had sliced their way through brush and timber, making a wagon road to the spot where they built their first cabin. Abner Crane was their nearest neighbor, located about two miles away.
Jeremiah built a brick house in 1818 and lived there until his death in 1823. His son, Elkanah, married in Pennsylvania to Hannah Morris and traveled to Red Lion in 1800. They settled on a section of his father's land and reared 15 children, 8 sons and 7 daughters.
"Samuel," son of Jeremiah Gustin, was born in New Jersey, but was raised mostly in Pennsylvania. The latter was his place of marriage, but in 1791 he migrated to Cincinnati. In 1798, he arranged for his father and other family members to be brought to Red Lion and located east of the locality. He fathered 13 children. Margaret, the second daughter, was said to have been the second white child born in Warren County.
"Benajah Gustin" was the son of Elkanah and Hannah Morris Gustin. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1797, and was about three years old when his family settled in the Red Lion area. As a youngster and in full life he suffered the hardships of pioneer existence.
Benajah married Lydia Newport in 1820 and they were the parents of eleven children.
"John H. Robison" built a brick house in 1808 that was located on his section of land north on Springboro Road; here he lived until his death. His heirs sold 99 acres of this tract to Harvey Crampton in 1829.
"Aaron Hunt" and family were citizens of Washington County, Pa., migrating to just south of Red Lion in 1798. Mr. Hunt and his son, Charles, traveled by horseback to Cincinnati, and there waited for the remainder of his family, who had floated down the Ohio River in a flatboat.
After plowing and sowing for four years, their reward was one crop of wheat. Their lone harvesting implement was a butcher knife. Mrs. Hunt, at her own request, traveled to Cincinnati to obtain a sickle, leaving her three-month baby in the care of her children.
She rode horseback on a man's saddle, and taking a piece of linen from which she had fashioned, she traded the cloth for a sickle. Her trip lasted three days and two nights, she being hindered once by a storm. Mrs. Hunt returned safely with the sickle and found the baby in good health.
Their first crop of wheat was a big disappointment, for it was of a category of "sick wheat," the bread made from it causing great sickness to the consumer.
"John Hunt," son of Aaron, was a youngster of six when his family settled near Red Lion. He fell off a log in the winter of 1799-1800, and broke his arm between the elbow and shoulder. Prompt treatment was needed, but the nearest doctor was 30 miles away. However, his mother set the fractured bones and John soon recovered.
John, in 1820, went into the boating business on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers between Cincinnati and St. Louis.
He was elected, in 1835, as Warren County Representative in the General Assembly and served three consecutive terms.
He gave $5000 to the families of the Union cause during the Civil War. Thomas Blake was wounded during the Battle of Shiloh and John Hunt took him home, educating him to a point where Blake became a teacher in the Warren County schools for several years.
Blake was later County Recorder for four years and postmaster of Lebanon for eight years.
"Matthew Wilson" and his parents were natives of Pennsylvania and settled near Red Lion in 1800. He married Eleanor McClure and, in 1802, they moved to near Dayton. In 1806, the family returned and purchased a farm on the Shaker Road. Matthew also owned property in Red Lion in 1826.
"Andrew and Mary Graham McClure" were natives of Pennsylvania who immigrated to Warren County in 1825. Mary was the daughter of Hugh Graham, an early settler in Warren County. They purchased a farm on the Shaker Road adjacent to the Wilson farm. Their family consisted of eight children.
"William Snuff" was the son of Isaac and Jane Riggs Snuff. He was born in Turtle Creek Township near Red Lion in 1818.
The family established a tract of land on the Greentree and Shaker roads at an early date. William married Catherine Ferrer in 1853 and they had four children. The Snuffs were pioneer members of the Red Lion Methodist Church. (In many of the old probate court records Snuff is spelled "Schnorf.")
"Edward, James, William, and George," the Dearth brothers, were natives of Maryland, they migrating to Fayette County on the Redstone River in Pennsylvania. James and Edward journeyed to Warren County in 1797, looking for lands upon which to settle. James settled in Blue Ball.
Edward purchased of Gen. William Schenck, founder of Franklin, 1400 acres of land, it being a portion of Symmes Purchase. As with many other early landowners, Edward had to pay twice for his land. This parcel was located northwest of Red Lion, ranging between the Red Lion-Springboro and the Red Lion-Franklin roads. After the purchase he returned to Pennsylvania for his family, they returning to his land the following spring.
Edward married Elizabeth Roberts of Virginia by which they had eleven children. Mrs. Dearth owned many slaves, but Edward, not believing in slavery, freed them before leaving for Ohio. Two of the slaves followed and begged to be taken back into slavery. However, the Dearths refused this request but permitted them to live with them.
"John S. Todd" was born in Pennsylvania and, at the age of 21, in 1829, traveled west. The country was favorable to him and so he returned to his home and brought his whole family to the Red Lion area.
In 1833, he purchased a tract of land and later taught school and established a mercantile business. In 1842, the firm's name was "Todd and Law." The store carried a fine line of products.
Mr. Todd made many trips to Philadelphia to purchase goods for the store, traveling at first by foot, then by horseback, stagecoach, river and canal boats, and finally by rail.
Various merchandise was shipped by wagon, but most was shipped down the Ohio River and then transported up to Red Lion. Mr. Todd was too free with his credit and eventually was forced to terminate his business. He relocated to Franklin where he was elected mayor in 1854.
"Samuel Crane" was the son of Abner and Huldah Robison Crane, and was born in Red Lion 3 Sep 1818. He farmed all his life and accumulated a large fortune in farmland and town property; he was one of the wealthiest farmers in Warren County.
He married Elinor J. Dearth and they had seven children. Mr. Crane purchased the brick house south of the church in the 1880's. Dr. E.D. Crossfield built this house.
"John Gallaher" was born in Pennsylvania in 1788. He moved to Ohio about 1808, and on 16 April 1809, he married Elizabeth Nye, who was born in Rockingham Co., Va. He opened up a hog farm in 1812 that proved quite successful. It was located west of Greentree Road, just north of the Shaker Community, where he lived the remainder of his life.
"Joseph Decker II" was the son of Joseph and Hannah Earnhart Decker. The family emigrated to Clear Creek Township, northeast of Red Lion in 1812. Joseph II was born in this township and spent his early life on his father's farm helping to clear the land. He was married to Elizabeth Thompson in 1836, they rearing seven children.
Their first home was in an old cabin, which had been used for a sheep pen. They cleaned it up as best they could, built a chimney, and settled in. Joseph II resolved to make an honest living. Once, in a time of need, having no money, he traveled to Franklin and asked John Thirkield for $25 or $30 worth of household utensils. Mr. Decker agreed to pay Thirkield back in one year; the debt was paid within the required time.
Neither of the Deckers had an education, and neither could read or write, but through their honesty, hard work, and careful management, they purchased a farm with several fine buildings. Also, an additional four acre tract, with a good dwelling on it, was purchased north of Red Lion along the Springboro Road; here they lived in later life.
"George E. Bunnell" was born in Bourbon Co., Ky., 15 March 1802. His grandfather, Stephen Bunnell, was a native of New Jersey, emigrating to Kentucky after the Revolutionary War. Because of the slavery institution he located, in 1806, to Clear Creek Township and lived there until he died during the War of 1812.
George was about 15 when his father, Jonas, died. He had to depend upon his own abilities for his subsistence. He labored by the month for wages for several years, and was finally able, in 1832, to buy the family farm upon which he had lived so long.
Suggested reading on Red Lion: "A Story of Red Lion" by Irvina Dearth. The Warren County Museum and Genealogical Society both have a copy of this manuscript in their possession.

go to Part I go to Part II go to Part III


Emaline Smith Ballard wrote an historical account of the Red Lion Methodist Church in 1953. Through the effort of Jan Thomas, a superb researcher, I received this account from Delores Stuhmer, wife of Reverend Rick Stuhmer, present pastor of the church.
The first sermon preached in Red Lion was by Rev. John Kobler in August 1798. He appointed Phillip Hill and John Miltenberger a "Class Leader."
In these days of old, for many, a walk of 20 or 30 miles was required to attend a church service, these services lasting perhaps several days. The meetinghouses were set up in private homes as no church buildings were yet erected. Seats were comprised of boards set on blocks. The men, at nighttime, were lodged in the barns, while the women were housed in the cabins.
Homes of the early Red Lion Methodist Church services were those of Benjamin Morris at Green Tree, Ichabod Corwin on the Green Tree Road, Frederick and Ruth Dyche on present St. Rt. 741, John Hunt and Spencer, his son, neighbors of the Dyches; and Edward Dearth, north of Red Lion.
Camp meetings were immense gathering places for the Methodists between 1800 and 1860. Large numbers of people from miles around would spend perhaps a week or more. Sleeping tents were erected as well as a boarding tent, which served the food. Thousands were converted to Christianity by the continuous preaching.
(As was stated in the first article of this series, the first Methodist Meeting House was constructed about 1825 on a lot northwest of Red Lion known as the Methodist Church and burial plot.)
Purchased in 1842 by the church trustees, George Dyche, Edward Crossfield, George Miltenberger, Harvey Crampton, John Gallaher, Joseph Earnhart, and Ichabod Corwin, was the tract where the present cemetery is now located at the northeast corner of State Routes 122 and 123.
Robert McMahon wrote an account in 1823 of the first Sunday school in Red Lion. He stated that Morton Gordon and John Lincoln were prime movers of the Sunday school project and, through their efforts; classes were located in the old schoolhouse where the children were taught Bible verses.
The Methodist Episcopal Church board purchased ground for the present church from Samuel R. Crane and Mahlon Crampton for $300. The church was erected in 1853 at an estimated cost of $10,000.
Harvey Crampton built the road from Red Lion to Franklin in 1853 at a cost of $1,500 a mile. In 1869, he deeded 1,600 shares of stock of the toll road to the church. (A marble slab was set into the interior wall of the church in his honor.)
Stone and gravel for this road was hauled from Clear Creek. Five miles of the west side of the road was macadamized (crushed rock and gravel) while the east side was graveled because of unshod horses.
With a new road and a possible steady traffic flow, it was assumed that the church would prosper, but the plan never fully materialized. However, this proved to be a small source of revenue with a good portion of the money being used to build the present church.
The road was sold to the County Commissioners in 1888 for $544, thus Mr. Crampton bearing a considerable loss; nevertheless, this amount was used to build a parsonage.
The Methodist Church became an independent branch at this time with Rev. Calvin W. Elliot as its first minister, his first such assignment. The new minister, his wife and son, lived in the three small rooms on the first floor of the church until the parsonage was finished.
Minister's salaries were not much financially during the early days of the church, but Red Lion residents filled many baskets with fine fruits, superb meat products, along with vegetables, etc.
With no transportation at first, Rev. Elliot walked for miles calling on his parishioners, comforting the sick and disabled. Later, he secured a horse and buggy and his transportation problems were solved.
At the time of the building of the church, a central meeting place was needed, and many community minded citizens contributed to the building fund with the understanding that the lower room would supply these needs. It is one of the few rural churches that have the sanctuary on the second floor.
Being the largest auditorium in Clear Creek Township, groups such as Sunday School Conventions, Temperance Organizations, the Grange, and Teacher's Meetings were held here. Also, area funerals, if the attendance was to be exceptionally high, were held here.
It was customary for the women to sit on the west side, while the men sat on the east side. Once, during a reception for a new minister, he commented about the seating tradition and suggested that the folks mix it up a little bit. They did, the women moving to the east side and the men to the west side.
With no modern conveniences as we know them today, the building was heated at first with stoves, and in 1899 two coal furnaces were installed.
The church was first introduced to oil lamps in wall brackets and chandeliers, which were counter-balanced with weights in the attic. As time progressed, acetylene lights were used, followed by electricity from a Delco power plant that was installed in the small southwest room.
Hitching racks were located in front of the church, and a shelter facility for the horses was utilized during rain, snow or hot sunny days, or for extra long sermons.
A board fence was built around the church in 1881, along with the installation of a slate roof.
Rev. and Mrs. Calphus organized the Ladies Aid in 1893, with the latter becoming the first president. The early days of the organization found the ladies meeting in various homes quilting, sewing carpetbags, mending or darning, all for $1.00 per day. They supplied their own sandwiches and the hostess furnished the coffee.
Rev. F.W. Miller, from 1919 to 1921, superintended a major remodeling task. Replaced were the many-paned windows with new art-glass, while new pews and pulpits of oak replaced the black walnut chairs.
Needless to say, financial obligations piled up and the church was forced to sell the parsonage in January 1924. From the time of the remodeling in 1920, the church began to suffer heavily in neglect, possibly due to the financial depression suffered by the country. Money was scarce for the household, and so there was none for the church.
The Ladies Aid Society came to the rescue. Suppers were served, lunches were sold at auction sales, and food was served at threshing dinners. All these resources bought the coal, paid the minister, and provided upkeep for the church.
In 1939, the Women's Society of Christian Service replaced the Ladies Aid. Reason for this move was the consolidation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and the Methodist Protestant Church.
On November 8, 1947, a "Lord's Auction" was held by the W.S.C.S. The group planned an interest in this project shortly before Rev. Frederick W. Haley became minister. Added to the church treasury was $1,000, the money being spent on the long neglected church building. Another auction was held the following year yielding about $700. These funds were used to replace the roof, recover the belfry, patch the plaster, and general redecorating.
Rev. Denver Noggle became the minister in 1949 and under his ministry the church continued to prosper.
Many contributions were given to the church over the years. Anna B. Fordyce, in 1947, left a bequest of $500 to be held in trust with $100 used annually. The family of the late Tilton Blair presented a bulletin board in his memory. Anna Blackburn presented a beautiful picture of "Christ Knocking on the Door" in memory of her late husband, Ben Blackburn.
Mr. and Mrs. Ross Mote donated an organ to the church in 1952. This was not the first organ, for in 1869 the first organ was dedicated to the Presiding Elder.
Some of the earlier known Sunday School Superintendents were: Morton Gordon, John Lincoln, Thomas Stickleman, Alexander Boxwell, Ray Snyder, Frank Thompson, R.E. Harbach, Frank E. Harbach, Sr., Leonard Mounts, Claude Morris, Robert South, Bert Rich, Mrs. Ralph Knox, Ted Mote, Myrtle Mote, Irene Lane, Ruth Kolb, Robert Sleeth and Sarah Davis.
The builder's Class, organized 17 April 1950, was comprised of young married couples of the church; Nora Sleeth was its first president. The class became one of the strongest promoters of the building program. Money was earned mostly by serving suppers. Some programs of the class were: purchase of Sunday School hymnals, repainting the entire downstairs rooms, treating of the supporting timbers against termite damage, laying of linoleum on the kitchen and serving room floors, the purchase of new kitchen equipment, silverware, trays and dishes; and, in addition, the class contributed $468.50 to the building fund.
Many other names are listed in the church history throughout the years, but due to lack of space in this article, I will not record them.

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