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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

First Things In Lebanon

Dallas Bogan on 28 September 2004
The following is taken from Dallas Bogan's book, "The Pioneer Writings of Josiah Morrow."
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

December 13, 1923

In the Historical Section of the remarkable New Home edition of the Dayton Daily News is a carefully compiled list of about forty of the first things in Dayton which is entitled "Firsts in the History of Dayton." From materials in my possession I have made out a singular list for the town of Lebanon--a town not as old as Dayton but the list of "Firsts" in Lebanon is not without interest and it shows at a glance the march of improvements in the town.

Lebanon's First Two Decades.

SETTLEMENT--Ichabod Corwin, uncle of Governor Thomas Corwin, was the first man who made his home on ground now included in Lebanon. He came here from Bourbon county, Ky., in March 1796, and made a clearing and built a cabin on the ridge between the Dayton pike and the cemetery, now in the northwestern part of the town. This was only a few months after Wayne's treaty of peace with the Indians in August 1795. A few early settlements had been made at Beedle's Station and some other places west of Lebanon. This date of the first settlement on the site of Lebanon seems to be well established. On the tombstone of Ichabod Corwin in the old Baptist graveyard we can still read "the first settler on the place where Lebanon now stands, March A.D., 1796."
SERMON--The first sermon of which we have a record was preached by John Kobler, a pioneer Methodist preacher at the house of Ichabod Corwin on Thursday afternoon at 4 o'clock August 9, 1798. This preacher records that after preaching at Deerfield, he rode six miles further to a place called "Turtlecreek settlement."
SCHOOL--The first school in the vicinity was opened in 1798 by Francis Dunlevy, afterward Judge Dunlevy, in a low, rough log house which stood near where the Water Works plant now is. It was attended by youth from four or five miles around and among the pupils were Thomas Corwin and A.H. Dunlevy.
CHURCHES--The pioneers on Turtlecreek were at first chiefly Baptists and Presbyterians. The Baptists built their first log church one mile east of the center of Lebanon in 1798. Elder Daniel Clark, who was the first ordained minister in the Miami valley being ordained Sept. 21, 1792 at Columbia, was the Baptist pastor at Lebanon from 1798 to 1830. He died in 1834 aged 90 years. The Baptists erected the first church at Lebanon in 1811 and their churchyard is now known as the old Baptist graveyard. The Presbyterian church at Lebanon was organized about 1805 and until 1817, when their first church edifice was erected, held meetings in groves in the first brick court house. The Presbyterians were more numerous than the Baptists but the most prominent of the pioneers at Lebanon were Baptists. The Methodists organized a small society at Lebanon in 1805. It continued small until 1811 when a great revival at Lebanon made it the largest in the town. Bishop Asbury who presided at a conference in 1815 is reported to have said the church was the strongest Methodist society, intellectually, morally and financially in the Mississippi valley.
MILL--The first mill at Lebanon was built on the land of Henry Taylor, west of the site of the town on Turtlecreek about 1799 or 1800. The stream then afforded water-power about one half the year.
TOWN PLAT--The first plat of the town was surveyed by Ichabod B. Halsey in September, 1802. The plat contained 100 lots nearly all of which were covered with the original forest trees and a thick undergrowth of spice bushes. There was no demand for town lots for two or three years.
TAVERN--Tavern keeping was the first business in Lebanon, there being a log tavern in the place when the town was laid out. This tavern was designated "the house of Ephriam Hathaway on Turtlecreek" in the act creating Warren county and was made the temporary place of holding courts. The first store in the town was kept in this tavern in the summer of 1803. The town was platted in the Northwest Territory about six months before Ohio became a state.
COURT--Francis Dunlevy, of Warren county, the first President Judge of the Western Circuit of the state, began the first term of the common pleas court of the county in the tavern at Lebanon, on the third Tuesday of August, 1803. Courts at Lebanon were held in the log tavern until the completion of a brick house in 1806.
COUNTY BUILDINGS--The county commissioners did not feel justified in erecting permanent county buildings until the county seat was permanently located, but in June, 1805, they contracted for a log jail at a cost of $275. It was constructed of logs hewed one foot square, so as to lie close together and the floor was made of the same kind of logs. This the first county building erected at Lebanon stood on the northwest lot of the public square, that is, the one south of the Lebanon hotel. It was completed November 30, 1804. The next year a log house, for the use of the jailer was built in front of the jail at a cost of $75. In 1807 the commissioners contracted for a stone jail on the lot where the Public Library now is, at a cost of $990.
BANK--The first bank in Lebanon was organized in April, 1814, under the singular name of the Lebanon Miami Banking Company. Ten of the leading men of the town were the first directors and .Daniel F. Reeder was the first president. The bank issued notes for circulation in denominations of $1, $2, $3, $5 and $10 and tickets of lower denominations than one dollar, one of which was for 5 cents. This bank closed its business about 1822.
POST OFFICE--Lebanon was made a postoffice April 1, 1805, and William Ferguson, a leading merchant, was the first postmaster. The office was doubtless in the store of the merchant. The early settlers in Turtlecreek got their mail at Cincinnati.
LIBRARY--The Lebanon Library Society was chartered in 1811 and now had a small but valuable collection of books.
COURT HOUSE--Lebanon was made the permanent seat of justice by the legislature February 11, 1805, and the commissioners contracted for the erection of the first court house on April 27, 1805, at a cost of $1450. The building was to be of brick, 36 feet square and two stories high. The lower floor was the court room and was paved with tile or brick twelve inches square and four inches thick and to have one fire-place five and a half feet wide. There were to be eight windows in the lower story of black walnut frames, each with 24 glasses. This plain building was one of the first brick buildings in Lebanon. It stood at the northeast corner of Broadway and Main for almost thirty years and later was the town hall.
PRINTING PRESS--In the summer of 1806 John McLean, then just twenty-one bought in Cincinnati and brought the first printing press in the town. From this press he afterward issued the first numbers of The Western Star which was the first newspaper in the Miami Valley outside of Cincinnati.

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