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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Ichabod Halsey Was Early Warren County Settler

Dallas Bogan on 7 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Among the early prominent pioneers of Warren County was a gentleman named Ichabod Benton Halsey. He was a native of New Jersey, and was descended from one of two brothers who landed at Long Island near the beginning of the Eighteenth century.
The subject of this article descended from the branch of the family, which settled near Wheatsheaf Tavern, midway, between Rahway and Elizabethtown, New Jersey. The family lived for several generations in this vicinity. Ichabod received a good education and seemed to possess more intelligence than most. He studied and eventually became a land surveyor. His excessive energy and ability set him aside from the others, and consequently he gained respect and confidence from the community.
He was the son of Major Daniel Halsey, a Revolutionary War soldier. The Major had received land warrants in Warren County for his duties while serving in the war.
These lands were presented to his son, Ichabod, upon the conditions that he would settle and improve them. The deed stated: "the son and donee of Daniel Halsey of Essex county, state of New Jersey." It was made by John Cleves Symmes and dated February 10, 1798.
Symmes employed his own surveyors. The surveys were made in a haphazard way and the land that Major Halsey had located wound up with 800 acres instead of the 640 acres originally called for.
The land upon which Ichabod settled was about a mile north of Lebanon, and on the east side of present St. Rt. 48.
Ichabod possessed the land, sold several tracts and was left with a tree-lined forest of 620 acres.
After the land purchase and the deed were cleared, he was standing on the shore of the Ohio at Columbia. He watched as Rev. James Smith and family of Powhatan County, Va., stepped on shore. He seemed to favor the eldest daughter, Sarah, then seventeen, and afterward she became his bride.
Rev. Smith died in 1800. Two years later, on Christmas Day, 1802, on a large tract that the Reverend had purchased near the mouth of Caesar's Creek, Ichabod Halsey married Sarah Watkins Smith, this being the bride's 21st birthday. Ohio not yet being a state, earmarked this marriage to be solemnized in the Northwest Territory.
The Halsey's made their home on their land, it having been cleared to some extent. Neighbors were settling in and the ring of axes was to be heard from every direction.
Ichabod and Sarah had both been born and raised amid the comfort of their surroundings in the old country. Many years elapsed before they found solace on their farm. She had been accustomed to having Negro servants doing what she now had to do, but her four years previous had been spent in the wilds of the soon-to-be state of Ohio.
Mr. Halsey, in September 1802, was called upon to lay off the town plat between the two branches of Turtlecreek. This town was given the name of Lebanon. It was covered with a forest of soaring trees and thick spice bushes. Its population growth was stagnant for a few years, but in 1805 it was made the permanent seat of the County.
Among Mr. Halsey's many achievements was that he was chosen by the Legislature as a member of the first Board of Trustees of Miami University. He was also one of the commissioners who administered seats of justice in Greene, Clark and Champaign Counties.
His farm had since become a large, fertile and well-improved plot of land. He built a fine brick home and the farm was considered one of the finest in the County.
He was looked upon as one of the wealthiest men in the County. This man of refinement was asked to commit himself financially to a firm of merchants located in Lebanon. The firm was Truitt & Wiles, and consisted of Eli Truitt and William M. Wiles.
This contract was the downfall of Mr. Halsey. The firm failed and he lost all his property.
It was said that one whom he trusted betrayed Halsey. He became surety and lost all the gains he had made over the years. His fine farm would have made him and his family of six children comfortable for their remaining years.
Efforts were made to salvage something of his possessions, but the suit against him was taken to the Supreme Court and, in 1821, his farm of 620 acres was sold for $16,585.
Ohio laws at this time called for imprisonment for violations of debt. It is thought that Mr. Halsey was imprisoned for a short duration, perhaps for a day. This act merely added to his emotional pain.
James Smith Halsey, at the time of his father's bankruptcy, was about eighteen. He was said to have been quite a bright lad and well educated.
He walked the entire distance from Lebanon to the growing town of Springfield to seek employment. He found work in the office of the Clerk of Courts of Clark County, working for $6 per month and his board. At the end of the first year he sent his father $72, his entire cash earnings.
He later became one of Clark County's finest citizens, filling the offices of Justice of the Peace, County Auditor, Clerk of Courts, and Probate Judge.
Ichabod Halsey was not without friends. Judge Francis Dunlevy, not being a wealthy man, invited him to take over a 20-acre plot in one corner of his land. With the aid of neighbors, a comfortable cabin was built and adequately equipped.
Mr. Halsey was most assuredly hastened to his death by this tragic episode. His life was extended a mere six years after the loss of his property. His estate had claims against it for the total amount of $19,000. His administrators collected a total of only $50.
Mrs. Halsey and children afterward made their homes in Springfield. The six children were: Judge James Smith Halsey; I. Benton Halsey, who died at Plymouth In.; Mary E., who married General Charles Anthony of Springfield; Martha who married Dr. Isaac Jennings, of Indiana; Cynthia A., who married James K. Hurin, of Lebanon; and Daniel W. Halsey, of Hamilton, Ohio.

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This page created 7 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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