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HISTORY OF ADAMS COUNTY, OHIO

(Source:  History of Adams County, Ohio
from its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time
by Nelson W. Evans and Emmons B. Stivers
West Union, Ohio - Published by E. B. Stivers - 1900)

CHAPTER II

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP
p. 415

     Franklin Township was organized February 25, 1828, from territory taken from Meigs Township, and at teh time of its organization included what is now Bratton Township.  It takes its name from America's wisest patriot, Benjamin Franklin.

Surface and Soil.

     The western portion of this township is comparatively level, except bordering the narrow streams which have cut deep furrows in the surface.  This section is drained into the East Fork of Ohio Brush Creek.  The eastern portion of the township is hilly and in places mountainous, and the soil is poor and unproductive except along the narrow valleys of the streams.  This section is drained to the southeastward by the tributaries of the North Fork of Scioto Brush Creek.  A large scope of territory in the vicinity of Locust Grove and to the northward of it, at one time in the geological past sunk so as to put shale and Waverly sandstone in the geological plane of the cliff limestone.  Hence shale and sandstone outcrops in the channels of the tributaries of Crooked Creek, while a short distance to the eastward these strata occupy a plane form one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet higher.

Early Settlers.

     Peter Platter, Peter Wickerham, James Horn, James Boyd, Aaron Freeman, Robert Earl, William Pemberton, William Ogle, George Heller, Jesse Wetherington, John Evans, and John Chapman were among the pioneers of this region.  Platter and Wickerham came in 1797 or 98 and the following years Wickerham opened a tavern at what is now known as Palestine then on the line of Zane's Trace.  Afterwards James Horn, who lived a mile north of Wickerham's on the Trace, opened a tavern where a public houses was kept for many years.  Wickerham built the first brick  house in this region in 1805.  It is now used as a dwelling by one of his descendants.

Villages and Postoffices.

       LOCUST GROVE is the only village in the township.  Curtis Cannon in 1805 kept a tavern on the site of the residence of the late Jesse Kendall.  He also carried on a tannery, the first in this region.  Afterwards in 1830, his son Urban W. Cannon built a hotel and planted a grove of locusts opposite the hotel recently conducted by D. S. Eylar, where he had a flourishing trade in the days of the old state coach line form Maysville to Chillicothe.  In 1835 he laid out a town about the site of his hotel, which he named Locust Grove, and a postoffice was established bearing the same name.

Churches.

     The first church organized in this township was the old Covenanter at Palestine, a history of which we give below from the pen of Rev. W. M. Glasgow, of Beaver Falls, Pa.  The old log house stood on the old Wickerham farm now belonging to the heirs of Stephen Reynolds.  It was afterwards removed to Palestine and used for a blacksmith shop.  This congregation was known as Brush Creek church, and originally worshiped on West Fork near the bridge over that stream on the Tranquillity pike and opposite the residence of W. O. McCreight.

Brush Creek Reformed Presbyterian Congregation.

     The Reformed Presbyterian, or Scotch Covenanter Church, is the lineal descendant and true representative of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland in her purest days.  This church has never been guilty of schism, but holds tenaciously to all the attainments of that historic body.  Because the Covenanters held to the Word of God, and to the belief that it taught the "moral personality and accountability of nations to God, thousands of these pious Christians were martyred in Scotland in the seventeenth century under the bloody house of the Stewarts.  Many were banished to the Colonies, and others found in welcome asylum on these American shores.  The first society was formed near Harrisburg, Pa., in 1720.  In 1743, led by the Rev. Alexander Craighead, they renewed their ancient covenants; and, with uplifted swords, declared their civil and ecclesiastical independence of Great Britain.  In 1774, they received an organization as a district body of Christians in this country, and have come down to the present day as the sole church of the Scottish Reformation.
     Applying their Scriptural principles to the Constitution of the United States, in 1789, and not finding in this creed of the nation any reference to the supreme authority of God in civil government, or to Jesus Christ as the King of Kings and the Governor among the nations or to the word of God as the higher and supreme law for nations as well as men, Covenanters have uniformly dissented from the civil establishments, and for the honor of their Savior-King forego the privileges and emoluments of office-holding in this land.  But they are not traitor or revolutionists.  They dissent and separate from  that which is wrong in civil government, and encouragement by way of reformation all that tends to bring our national life to Jesus Christ and his law as fundamentally necessary to a rightly constituted government.  The are peaceable citizens, pay their taxes cheerfully as a moral obligation, and bear arms heroically in every nationalist contest.
     As early as 1801, a few families of these Covenanters had come from Scotland and Ireland, and some from Kentucky, and settled along Brush Creek.  Among these was James Reid, the grandfather of Hon. Whitelaw Reid, who came from Kentucky in 1804.  Others settled further north on Paint Creek, and in Highland and Ross Counties, even as far as Chillicothe.  They at once established the "Society," which was a meeting for prayer and conference.  Between the years of 1809 and 1814 they were frequently visited by the Rev. John Kell, and other itinerate missionaries.  After 1814 they were supplied by the Rev. Robert Wallace.  They were organized into a congregation called "Chillicothe" (because that was the nearest postoffice), October 11, 1815.  The first bench of ruling elders consisted of John French, Hugh Hardy and John Wickerham.  For six years after their organization Mr. Wallace continued to supply them occasionally with preaching.
     Rev. Charles Brown McKee became their first pastor, being ordained and installed on August 7, 1821.  He resigned the pastorate on Sept. 10, 1822, to accept a call to Cincinnati.  For five years the congregation was vacant, although frequently supplied and increased in numbers and influence.  In 1822, William Milligan; and, in 1825, Joseph Thompson were inducted into the office of the ruling elder.
     Rev. James Blackwood was installed as a second pastor, April 12, 1827, but he only remained two years.  In 1828, Andrew Burns and William Glasgow were ordained elders.  On July 7, 1829, the name of the congregation was changed to "Brush Creek," as most of the people now resided along this stream and in Adams County.  This name it ever afterward continued to bear.
     Rev. David Steele was ordained and installed as a third pastor, June 24, 1831.  He had several places of preaching, one being at Mill Creek, in Kentucky.  During his pastorate (in 1833) the whole church passed through a division on the question of their civil relations, but Brush Creek congregation was little affected by this trouble.
     In 1840, Mr. Steele regarded his church as unfaithful to her covenanted engagements, and he, with elders William McKinley and Thomas Ralston and some of the members, withdrew to constitute a new organization called the "Reformed Presbytery."  The elders still remaining in the original congregation were Andrew Burns, William Glasgow, Joseph Thompson, John Wickerham and Samuel Wright.
     On Sept. 29, 1842, Rev. Robert Hutcheson was installed as the fourth pastor of Brush Creek congregation.  In 1845, Francis Gailey, a suspended licentiate of the church, led away some of the people into an organization of his own called the "Safety League."  Among these latter defectionists were elders Joseph Thompson and John Wickerham.  As the session had been strengthened in 1842 by the addition of Stephen Bayles, Henry George, John McIntire and J. Thompson Montgomery, the congregation did not lose its organization and but few of its members.  By emigration and death the congregation became so weakened in resources that Mr. Hutcheson resigned the pastorate May 21, 1856, and the congregation was declared disorganized Oct. 11, 1857.  For twenty-five years it continued in this condition, although a few Covenanters continued to reside in that vicinity, and to hold occasional society meetings.
     The Brush Creek congregation was reorganized under an act of the Lakes Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Nov. 16, 1881.  There were thirty-three members enrolled, and Thomas Davis and Daniel Sharp were chosen elders.  In 1883, William C. Ralston was added to the session.  They never possessed a settled pastor, but enjoyed the stated labors of Revs. R. J. Sharpe, William McKinney, R. C. Allen, T. C. Sproull, and others.  The membership is now about twenty-five; Daniel Sharp and W. C. Ralston are the elders; and this faithful remnant hold fast to the principles and usages of their martyred ancestry. 
Among the most prominent families which have composed the Brush Creek congregation of Covenanters might be perpetuated the names of Reid, Burns, Glasgow, Milligan, Stevenson, Hemphill, Montgomery, Wright, Thompson, Wickerham, McKinley, Torrence, Foster, Mitchell, Copeland, Bayles, George, Ralston, Rulton, McIntire and many other worthies.
     The following is a register of the pastors and office-bearers of this historic congregation of Covenanters:

Register of the Session.
_________________________________________________________________________________________
Pastors Installed Released.
Robert Wallace (S.S.)...... July 10, 1814........ May 10, 1821.
Charles Brown McKee.... August 7, 1821 September 10, 1822
James Blackwood April 12, 1827 April 9, 1829
David Steele June 24, 1831 September 18, 1841
Robert Hutcheson September 29, 1842 May 21, 1856
Robert James Sharpe (S.S.) January 1, 1882 Ocober 1, 1883
William McKinney (S.S.) November 1, 1883 May 1, 1884
Robert Cameron Allen (S. S.) June 1, 1886 November 1, 1886
Thomas Cargill Sproll (S. S.) October 1, 1888 April 1, 1803

_________________________________________________________________________________________
Year
Ordained.
Elders. Year
Released.
Cause of disjunction.
1815 John Fulton 1830 Removed to Sparta, Ill.
1815 Hugh Hardy 1824 Removed to Philadelphia, Pa.
1815 John Wicherham 1845 Withdrew to "Safety League."
1822 William Milligan 1833 Removed to Morning Sun, Ohio.
1825 Joseph Thompson 1845 Withdrew to "Safety League."
1828 Andrew Gurns 1857 Disorganization.
1828 William Glasgo 1853 Died, January 13, 1853, aged 64.
1834 Thomas Ralston 1840 Withdrew to "Reformed Presbytery."
1837 William McKinley 1840 Withdrew to "Reformed Presbytery."
1838 Samuel Wright 1841 Died, May 23, 1841, aged 73
1842 Stephen Bayles 1852 Removed to Northwood, Ohio.
1842 Henry George 1857 Removed to Rushsylvania, Ohio.
1842 John McIntire 1851 Removed to Linton, Iowa.
1842 J. Thom's'n M'tgomery 1853 Removed to Linton, Iowa.
1881 Thomas Davis 1888 Died, January 30, 1888, aged 61.
1881 Daniel Sharp    
1883 William C. Ralston    
_________________________________________________________________________________________

     The following is the register of the dates of death and ages of those elders whose decease is not noted already, viz.:
John Fulton died near Sparta, Ill., in 1850. 
Hugh Hardy died in Philadelphia, in 1839.
John Wickerham died near Locust Grove, Ohio, April, 4, 1865, aged 76.
William Milligan died at Fair Haven, Ohio, Dec. 4, 1839, aged 66.
Joseph Thompson died at Coulterville, Ill., July 2, 1852, aged 68.
Andrew Burns died near Locust Grove, Ohio, Nov. 17, 1872, aged 90.
Thomas Ralston died near May Hill, Ohio, Jan. 11, 185, aged 47.
William McKinley died at Northwood, Ohio, Aug. 14, 18658, aged 83.
Stephen Bayles died at Morning Sun, Iowa, March 2, 1879, aged 78.
Henry George died at Rushsylvania, Ohio, Mar. 13, 1875, aged 74.
John McIntire died at Morning Sun, Iowa, Dec. 21, 1890, aged 83.
J. Thompson Montgomery is still living at Washington, Iowa, being about eighty-five years of age.
     Thus the banner for "Christ's Crown and Covenant" has been displayed, and His royal prerogatives have been advocated for many a century in Adams County.

Locust Grove M. E. Church.

     This church was organized about 1825.  The first class was composed of Jacob Newland, Anna Newland, Peter Andrews, Margaret Pemberton, Cornelius Kane, David Newman, William Hamilton, Elizabeth Thomas, and Catharine Tener.  Meetings were held at the house of Jacob Tener until 1828 when a log house was erected.  In 1854 a frame building was erected at "the Grove."

Lodges.

     Locust Grove F. & A. M. was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Ohio, at Toledo, Oct. 17, 1866.  Charter members: James A. Murphy, W. M.; David Thomas, S. W.; D. S. Eylar, J. W.; Jesse Kendall, Treas.; Newton Richards, Sec.; J. W. Tarlton, S. D.; Isaac Earl, J. D.; T. S. F. Collins, Tiler; J. R. Copeland and W. C. Elliott, Stewards; Silas E. Parker, Geo. W. Reddick, James T. Holliday.

Schools.

     The village school of Locust Grove in which two instructors are employed has the following enrollment:  Males 31, females 34.  The sub-districts are as follows:

No. Males. Females. No. Males. Females
1 25 23 6 25 19
2 15 15 7 12 14
3 24 28 8 30 32
4 11 8 9 9 25
5 23 33 10 28 22

REMINISCENCES.

     As late as 1820, bears, catamounts, wolves and wild cats were plentiful in this region.  One day tin the autumn of 1817 the children of Peter Platter while playing about their home discovered a large catamount closely eyeing them from a branch of a tree in the dooryard.  The older ones gave the alarm and James Horn was sent for who shot the ferocious animal, and upon inspection pronounced it one of the largest of its kind.
     There is yet standing in this township the old log cabin in which Col. John A. Cockerill, the "Drummer Boy of Shiloh," and afterwards managing editor of the New York World, was born.  And almost within sight of the old Cockerill home is that of the ancestors of Whitelaw Reid, editor of the New York Tribune.

Massies Springs.

     It was in this township that General Nathaniel Massie in 1802 built the health resort known as Massie's Springs, at the sulphur spring which yet bears his name.  The place was expected to rival the celebrated resort in his native state of Virginia, but his expectations were never realized, and now all traces of the former buildings are obliterated.

Mershon's Tavern.

     On the old Trace north of Locust Grove in pioneer days stood a huge log building known as Mershon's tavern.  When Dr. Cuming traveled over the Trace from Limestone to Wheeling, in 1807, he stopped over night at Mershon's and in his "notes" comments on the "fiddling" talent of the landlord's sons, and their entertainment of guests with music.  He also mentions the fact that at Cannon's tavern "the stage coach sleeps on its way from Limestone to Chillicothe."
 

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