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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

The Small Town Of Middleboro Symbolic Of Life In Early Warren County

Dallas Bogan on 4 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
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The writer has searched for some time for information concerning Middleboro. However, I did find in a June 1976 issue of "The Western Star" an excellent story on the town written by "Brenda Hollon Craig." There are many names and events that should be of interest to the readers. I will now draft the information as she has written it. It goes as such:
"Middleboro, a small community of about 50 people and 10 dogs, lies in the eastern tip of Harlan Township. For me, its history cannot be separated from the history of the surrounding countryside.
"The legal birth of the land was in 1793 when Cornelius Skinner had his military warrant 1552 surveyed. The boundaries of the 2,666 2-3 acre warrant are today U.S. 22-3 to the north, Fischer Road to the east, Ohio 132 to the south and Middleboro Road in the west. These measurements are just approximate for the land goes a few acres over each of these man-made marks.
"Interestingly, Skinner's warrant was not patented until 1814, nearly 20 years later. Legend in the Skinner family has it that Cornelius never saw his land in the Ohio country. He died in London, Va., and it was his wife and their family - a son and five daughters - who came on horseback to claim his land sometime before 1817.
"One of his daughters, Emily or Amelia, in 1817, married Samuel Bowman, son of Abraham and Catherine Casner Bowman and cousin to John Bowman, whom Patrick Henry had appointed military governor of Kentucky in 1774. Little is known about Samuel's occupation except that one time he acted as lawyer for his brother Abraham.
"Amelia inherited two parcels of land from her father. The smaller one - 80 acres - is where Middleboro, platted in 1838 stands today. Ironically, it is Amelia and Samuel's grandson, Victor, who owns the log house and market that stand in the heart of the village.
"The early history of the community also descends to Victor Bowman from his mother, Nannie Hicks Bowman, for she was a great grand-daughter of Martin Varner who settled on Todd's Fork about two miles north of Middleboro after 1798. In that year he received over 2,000 acres of land along Todd's Fork in lien of wages for his work with the surveyors, Samuel Paxton and his son-in-law, Robert Todd who, by the way, named Todd's Fork after himself.
"One of Varner's daughters married Benjamin Baldwin and another, Mary, married Samuel Bowman's oldest brother Abraham. A son, Jacob, remained on the home place which today is the Stacy and Reilley farms.
"Jacob's daughter married James Hicks who gave the Muskingum and Ohio Railroad right of way through his land in return for a station known locally as Hick's Station, until it was abandoned.
"One of his daughters, Melissa, married a Baldwin and is the grandmother of Lucy Baldwin who lives today in her proud, beautiful home on the ridge of Steep Hollow, above the Varner acres.
"Another daughter, Nannie, married Alvin Bowman, Samuel's grandson. One of her sons, Victor, a descendant of the township's oldest families, owns the market and Skinner-Bowman log house in the center of the village.
"I mention these families and their interwoven lives for their ending is like the town's. These men and women came to the wilderness with hope and promise, but today few of these early pioneer's descendants remain.
"The town, too, was created from hope and promise. It stood on the crossroads of the Goshen-Wilmington Turnpike and the Morrow-Blanchester Road.
"It boasted a hotel-tavern of red brick, built perhaps even before Middleboro was a patented town. Today, the tavern, its sides touching the road and nearly spent, is half covered with white siding; yet it still proudly displays its wrought iron moon sign, that is imbedded in the bricks above the door.
"Across the street stood (and still does) the beautifully- proportioned, two story log home of the Bowmans and Skinners from which the town owed its birth and later part of its sustenance, for the market was added sometime before 1876.
"Today the market is just a faded sign on a hunched building, but at one time the young children came to it with fresh butter to trade for tinned goods and the men of the community sat around the fire on cold days and fought outside it on Saturday nights after the Howard boys came riding home from Blanchester shouting out of their wagon: "We're as drunk as hell and now we are going to raise some hell." I am sure the women shoved their children inside and then they all peeked out to watch from behind the safety of their windows.
"These two buildings are just standing; life continues on within them, but little of their original beauty and grace remain. Of their founders, the Skinners, Bowmans, Hicks, and Varners, only a few are living nearby. The rest of the town holds its breath awaiting.
"At the far western side, there is only a new concrete house to mark Black Isaac Nichols' log home. He came in 1806 after he had bought his freedom from his master. There on the edge of Middleboro he raised three children and saved and solaced the community's souls. Middleboro never had a church, only Black Isaac.
"The first house in Middleboro proper on its western end, is where the hell-raising Howard boys lived. Today their log house has been built over; and instead of "Little Bowler" Howard chopping wood in the yard, old cars stand ready to have their insides gutted.
"Grant Goodwin's blacksmith shop still shows a red gleam through its weathered boards. The Goodwin log house, now the Davis' home, gleams in fresh white paint with black trim. Next door the tavern holds a plastic rooster and red ball in its windowsill, but the moon gleaming above its door reminds me of its proud history. The one building that does not remain, nor does it have a replacement, stood between the tavern and the blacksmith shop.
"Across the road on the southwest corner, Marc Curtis' truck patch of strawberries and asparagus has been replaced by the weeds. The little faded house is full of people and a "for sale" sign is hidden by tall grass.
"Across from the tavern, on the northeast corner, the old Kreckler home seems to sense that it is still important, for it is the largest house in the village.
"Between it and Ollie Taylor's, an old locust grove gives the town an unused park. Ollie Taylor's old home, with its fancy trim around the porch, sits in its yard neat and cared for. Her father, Zak, helped build her home and the one across the street, known as Aunt Belle Simpson's, over 125 years ago.
"Next is the log post office, known as the Edwardsville Exchange, not Middleboro. No longer does the mail come to it, rather it has been used to house too many people. Today it stands empty.
"The next house has burned twice and twice rebuilt; but for selling, not living. The old Constable place with its log core has been fence in.
"The Skinner place looks as it did 60 years ago - neat, and on a chinked rock foundation with a potted plant peeking through its window in the winter and sitting on the table in the front yard in the summer.
"On the last village lot stands a tiny house with its center chimney. Here at one time lived Mary Liz Goodwin and later Al Bettis, one of the village story tellers. Today it stands lonely, but lived in.
"Outside the village is another Constable home, standing today fresh green and shiny tin roofed. The school house at the far edge is gone, replaced by a ranch style house.
"Coming back up Ohio 132 there are today five buildings. The old saw mill that long ago stood at the back of Nelson Agin's field is gone. Mr. Agin moved to Middleboro in 1938 with his large family and booming voice. He bought Belle Simpson's house, barn and 20 acres. Although the house seems to be drowsing in its yard, not long ago it was wide awake - especially at Agin's labor Day Antique Auctions at which the Sugar Run ladies served their famous lunches.
"A little house, moved to lot 7 over 50 years ago, sits next to Mr. Agin's fence, which runs down the long forgotten alley or Oak Street as it was named on the original plat. The Skinner- Bowman house still stands in its corner yard.
"That is Middleboro - to some a group of people and a few old buildings. But to me it's a symbol of men and women who surveyed the lands, rode on horseback to claim their land, and sought Black Isaac for God's help. The village is a faded line to our past."

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This page created 4 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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