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ATHENS COUNTY, OHIO

History of Athens County, Ohio

By Charles M. Walker - Publ. Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co.
1869.

BIOGRAPHIES

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ARCHIBALD B. WALKER, son of Dr. Ezra Walker, was born in East Pomeroy, Vermont, October 15th, 1800, and came to Ames township with his father's family when ten years old.  In 1825 he married Lucy W., daughter of Judge Silvanus Ames, and in 1826 they removed to the town of Athens, where they have since resided continuously, and reared a family of two sons and four daughters.  Soon after coming to Athens, Mr. Walker, having formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, James J. Fuller, engaged for a few years in the cattle-driving and pork-packing business.  In 1839 they commenced the manufacture of salt at the old furnace, opposite Chauncey, afterward owned by Judge Pruden, and soon after they bored the wells and erected the furnaces now owned by M. M. Green & Co., at Salina.  For a period of twenty years the firm name of Fuller & Walker was well and favorably known in the valley.  The partnership was dissolved in 1853.  Since that time, Mr. Walker has not engaged in active business on his own account.  During his long residence in the county, he has always been one of the most prompt to embrace, and ardent in the support of every useful local enterprise.  At home and abroad, in personal intercourse and through the press, he has ever been ready and efficient in advocating the development of the county, and presenting her claims.  He was one of the original friends, and for several years a director of the Marietta & Cincinnati railroad, and an early and strenuous advocate for the construction of the Hockhocking Valley railroad, which is now building under the energetic control of younger men, and which he is likely to live to see finished.
     Having been through his whole life scrupulously faithful and exact in the discharge of every duty, public and private, Mr. Walker is peacefully completing the last stage of a long and worthy career in the very spot where he began it.  If this part has been acted on a comparatively narrow state, it has nevertheless, been well acted - "there all the honor lies."  Happy in the respect of his neighbors and the affection of children and grand-children, he possesses, in the words of Shakspeare:
     "That which should accompany old age,
     As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends."
GEORGE WALKER (known during his residence in the county as Judge Walker) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1774.  His father, John Walker, came of an old family in Leicestershire, England, was a graduate of the university of Edinburgh, and a barrister at law, removed to America in 1753, married in Boston, and settled in Hartford, Connecticut.  George received a good business education, and engaged in mercantile business in Cooperstown, New York.  For several years he was highly successful, but, through the dishonesty of a partner, he became deeply involved, and was compelled to close business at a great sacrifice.  Disheartened by his losses, and soured by the meanness and dishonesty of his late associates, he determined to seek his fortune in a newer country, and came to Athens county in 1804.  Here he purchased and settled on a farm near the present town of Amesville, where he remained all his life.  The country was almost a wilderness, and the farm uncultivated, nor had the owner any practical knowledge of the work before him.  Mrs. L. W. Ryors, to whom we are indebted for the substance of this sketch, says: "I have heard my mother say that, had it now been for the aid of the man who accompanied them in their long journey as a driver of a wagon, they would have suffered.  His name was William Hassey, and he continued to live with the family, a faithful friend and helper, for nearly fifty years.  In this wild pioneer life this man was invaluable in every respect, assisting my mother in her new and trying duties, and instructing my father in the art of felling trees and removing brush - not greatly to the credit of his pupil, as the family tradition testifies that he never learned to perform, with skill, that first and necessary part of pioneer life.
     Soon after his arrival in the township, Mr. Walker was elected a justice of the peace, which position he held, continuously, for about twenty-four years.  He also acted as county commissioner for sixteen years, and was elected by the legislature, an associate judge of the court of common pleas, which office he held for fourteen years.  He was one of the founders and principal supporters of the Western library association, of which Mrs. Ryors recalls some reminiscences.  She says:  "As long as I can remember this library was kept at my father's house, and it was most highly prized by the whole family.  Books, now a necessity, were then, in that isolated place, a rare luxury.  The books were selected with good judgment, and comprised a little of everything - poetry, history, romance, law, medicine, and some scientific and religious works, Poems and novels were the first attraction, I am sorry to say, for the female portion of the family, but they were soon exhausted, and we were glad to turn to more substantial reading.  It was no uncommon thing to find a child reading eagerly from the heavy volumes of Rollin or Hume.  It was not more than ten or eleven years old, when, in the absence of any 'juvenile books,' I read, with delight, Milton's 'Paradise Lost' and the translation of Homer's 'Illiad.'"
     An active supporter of schools and of every movement calculated to promote the welfare of the community, Judge Walker exercised during his whole life a large and healthful influence.  He died in 1856.  His wife, who is still remembered by some of her contemporaries as a most amiable christian lady, died in 1850, aged seventy-one years.
     Judge Walker had one son - George Walker, Jun., who was, for many years, a successful business man in Amesville.  He is deceased.  Of his seven daughters, the eldest was married to Col. Charles Cutler; the second to Edgar Jewett, of Athens; two of the others married physicians; one a banker, and one a merchant.  Another daughter, Mrs. Ryors, relict of the Rev. Alfred Ryors, minister of the Presbyterian church, is well known in Athens.  Her accomplished husband, for many years connected with the Ohio university, and subsequently president of the Indiana state university, was one of the choicest among the many rare and scholarly men, who, during its history, have been associated with the university at Athens.  He died at Danville, Kentucky, May 8, 1858.
DOCTOR EZRA WALKER, the first resident physician of Ames township, was born Dec. 9, 1776, at Killingly, Connecticut, in which state he studied his profession, and practiced for some years.  Removing from Connecticut he settled in Poultney, Vermont, about the year 1800, and from thence migrated with his family to Marietta, in the autumn of 1810.  He remained on the Muskingum till the spring of 1811, when he came with his family, consisting of wife and seven children, into Ames township, and immediately resumed the practice of medicine.  He pursued a general practice for more than twenty years, and, in a few families who would never excuse him, he continued to practice for almost forty years, or till near the close of his life.  When he began to practice medicine in the county, and for many years later, what with bad roads or no roads at all, absence of bridges, sparse and scattered settlements, etc., his long rides, frequently of fifteen or twenty miles, were always attended with difficulties and sometimes with dangers.  In one instance he had to cross the country from where the present town of Plymouth, Washington county, is situated, to another settlement at Barrows' mill, in Rome township, which took him till far in the evening, when he found himself followed by wolves.  As their numbers increased the animals were emboldened to contract their circle around him till he was obliged to climb into a tree for safety; and there he spent the night, keeping a sharp lookout for his horse beneath, and trying to frighten away the wolves, by beating with a club against the body of the tree in which he was perched.  When day dawned his hungry enemies gradually drew off, and the doctor proceeded on his journey.  When he reached the first cabin, not very far distant, and situated just below the present site of Big Run station, he found the wolves had taken this man's premises in their retreat, and killed a calf near his house for their breakfast.
     Doctor Walker taught school in Ames, for one or two quarters in 1811-12, always holding himself ready, however, to attend the sick.  By means of his profession, and by farming some, he gained for himself and family a comfortable subsistence, living to see his children all creditably settled in life.  He died Jan. 9, 1852.
     His eldest daughter was married to John Brown (now General Brown), in 1811, and his second daughter to the late James J. Fuller, of Athens, in 1815.  Mrs. Brown died in 1853, and Mrs. Fuller in 1864.  His sons, William R. Walker, Archibald B. Walker, Ezra Walker, and Ralph M. Walker, were natives of East Poultney, Vermont, but were reared from boyhood in Athens county.  William R., though a man of fine native talent and much refinement of character, was oppressed by self-distrust and timidity.  He lived for a short time, during the early portion of his adult life, in Lancaster, Ohio, where he was highly respected for his integrity, business talent, and literary culture.  Among those whose friendship he acquired at that time and always retained, was Mr. Hocking H. Hunter, who recently stated to the writer that, he "had never in his life, seen any person who recited and acted the part of Hamlet so perfectly, in his opinion, as Wm. R. Walker."  At that time fine business prospects were opened to him, and for awhile he revolved "enterprises of great pith and moment."  But melancholy overcame him.  He abandoned active business and the wide fields of usefulness that were opening before him, returned to the paternal farm, and there were opening before him, returned to the paternal farm, and there passed the rest of his life, remote from the society which he was so well calculated to adorn.  An amiable christian gentleman, he lived and died respected by the whole community.  His death took place in 1855.
     Ezra Walker, another son of Dr., graduated at the Ohio university in 1829, studied law with Judge Summers at Charleston, West Virginia, and settled in that place.  He published the Kanawha Republican for several years, and afterward was superintendent of the "James River and Kanawha Improvement" more than twenty years, and until his death in March, 1853.  He was widely known and universally respected.
     Ralph M. Walker, the youngest brother, graduated at the Western Reserve college.  The greater part of his life has been passed as a teacher in Otterbein college, Franklin county, Ohio, and in the Grand River institute in Ashtabula county.  He now lives in Missouri.
Page 425
JONATHAN WATKINS, SEN., came from Athens Township in 1803, and settled in the lower part of Trimble, and soon after Eliphalet Wheeler settled near him.  Mr. Watkins was a blacksmith, but, like most of the early settlers, occasionally engaged in hunting.  He shot a buffalo soon after settling in Trimble, and broke its fore leg.  He pursued the animal, thus crippled, from Green's run in Trimble township, across Wolf plains, and over the Hockhocking some distance, but failed to capture it.
Page 523
DANIEL WEETHEE was born in New Hampshire in 1779.  He was a cooper by trade, and saved money enough, during his youth, to buy a tract of land in what is now Dover township.  At the age of nineteen he set out for the northwestern territory, made the tedious journey on foot and alone, and reached Marietta about the middle of December, 1798.  The next spring he and another young man, Josiah True, came out to Dover, traveling through the woods by the aid of a compass.  Arrived here they built a log cabin for their joint occupancy (they were both unmarried), and lived together about three years.  MR. True managed, by hard work and by selling skins, furs, etc., to secure means enough to purchase a piece of land, and bought part of the farm now owned by his son, Austin True, where he lived during the rest of his life.  Thus they lived for about three years in this truly pioneer fashion, with no companions but the forest trees, and no neighbors but the wild game of all sorts which abounded near their cabin.
     In 1802 Mr. Weethee married Lucy Wilkins, daughter of John Wilkins, one of the early settlers of  Athens township, and the next year Mr. True married Almira, a daughter of Solomon Tuttle, then living on the creek a few miles above, in what is now Trimble township.
     In 1804 ABRAHAM PUGSLEY came in with his family, and settled on the section south of Mr. Weethee and Mr. True.  Mr. Pugsley came in with his family, and settled on the section south of Mr. Weethee and Mr. True.  Mr. Pugsley, who was a good citizen and excellent man, reared a large and respectable family here. He was drowned during the winter of the "cold plague" in 1814, while crossing the creek on the ice to visit the sick family.  His oldest son, John, died several years since.  His oldest son, John,  died several years since.  The youngest son, James is living, though very old.
     One of the daughters of Abraham Pugsley had a singular adventure in early life.  She was married, when only thirteen years of age, to a man named Neal.  Her husband enlisted in the army in 1812, and, after he had left home with his company, on a keel boat, from the mouth of the Hockhocking (where they then lived, for Newport, Kentucky, the rendezvous, his wife determined to follow him and share his fortunes, whatever they might be.  She started down the river alone in a canoe, and passed the first night in the little craft on the water; but the next day overtook her husband, and proceeded with him to St. Louis.  Thence his company was ordered to some point further west.  While going up the river the boat was landed for some purpose, when Indians fired from an ambush and killed her husband and the infant in her arms, wounding her at the same time.  The company, with Mrs. Neal, returned to St. Louis, from whence she rode on a pony all the way back to her father's in Dover township.  In 1817 she was again married to Mr. John Fulton, and died in May, 1866.
     In 1800 the SWEAT FAMILY came to Dover, and settled near the present site of Millfield.  In 1802 John Sweat built a rude mill there for grinding corn, which was greatly prized by the settlement.  Even persons from Athens made use of this mill till the Gregory mill was built, about four years later.
     In 1802 AZEL JOHNSON, with his family, settled in Dover, on the creek and joining the Weethee farm.  Many of his descendants are still living in the township.  Azel and Benjamin Johnson are sons of his.
     The NYE FAMILY, consisting of Ebenezer, the father (a native of Tolland, Connecticut, who came to the territory in 1790), and four sons, viz:  George, Neal, Nathan, and Theodorus, came from Marietta in 1814, and settled in Dover about a mile north of Chauncey.  The eldest son died in 1825, leaving a widow, Mrs. Lydia Nye, now living at an advanced age with her son, George Nye, on the place first occupied by his father.  The other brothers removed to Meigs county, where their descendants are numerous and respectable.
     In 1820 the Nyes and some others formed a company to bore a salt well, on the place where Jeremiah Morris now lies, but, after boring to a considerable depth, abandoned the undertaking.  Ten or twelve years later it was resumed by John Pugsley, who, after boring a little deeper, struck a vein of good salt water.  This was the first successful salt well bored in the Hockhocking valley.  About this time (1820) came the Cass, the Chadwell, the Nesmith, and the Pratt families, who have lived in Dover nearly fifty years, and are all excellent people.
     Three sons of Daniel Weethee, the pioneer, are now living.  Daniel W. Weethee lives on a fine in Trimble township; Lorentius Weethee owns and occupies the old homestead in Dover; and Jonathan P. Weethee,  who graduated at the Ohio university in 1832, and has been actively engaged during his life in the ministry and in teaching in this and other states, is now the president of  Weethee college at Mt. Auburn, in Dover.
Page 466
JOHN WELCH, born in 1805, in Harrison county, Ohio, came to Athens county about 1828, and settled in Rome township. Here he and his brother Thomas Welch bought the "Beebe mill," at that time owned by their father, and for some years he pursued the milling business. While performing his duties as miller, Mr. Welch studied law with Professor Joseph Dana of Athens, going some fourteen miles to recite once in a week or two. Having finished his studies and prepared to change his vocation, he removed to Athens, where he was admitted to the bar in 1833 by the supreme court of Ohio, sitting in Athens county. In this field his success was assured from the start. His eminent abilities, indefatigable industry and devo­tion to his profession soon placed him at the head of the Athens bar, and finally among the ablest lawyers of the state. He was prosecuting attorney of Athens county for several years; a member of the state senate in 1846-7; a representative in congress in 1851-2; and judge of the common pleas court from 1862 to 1865. February 23d, 1865, he was appointed by the governor, judge of the supreme court of Ohio, in place of Rufus P. Ranney, resigned, and in October, 1865, was elected for Judge, Ranney's unexpired term. In October, 1867, he was elected for the fall term, and occupies the position at the present time. Judge Welch's career, which has been attended with honorable and solid success, is a sufficient eulogy upon his character as a man and citizen, and his ability as a lawyer.
THOMAS WELCH, removed from the northern part of the state and settled in Rome township in 1826.  He remained here several years, living part of the time at the mills and part of the time on the "Case farm," which he bought and cultivated.  About 1828 he sold the mills to his two sons, Thomas and John Welch, the latter of whom is further noticed in connection with Athens township.
CALEB P. WELLS was born in New Hampshire in the year 1800.  He married the only daughter of Mr. Martin, and moved to Carthage with his father-in-aw in 1836, where he has since lived a farmer.
Page 458
JOHN WICKHAM, son of Joseph Wickham, was born in Vermont, July 1, 1784, and came to Athens county with his father's family in 1805, settling first in Rome township.  Later he removed to Bern township where he died Mar. 19, 1863.  He served as a volunteer in the war of 1812, and was marching to join Hull's army (his command being yet two days' march distant), when that general surrendered.
     Warren W. Wickham, son of John, lives on the farm of his late father at the mouth of Marietta run in Bern township - has been a justice of the peace and township trustee.
Page 439
JOSEPH WICKHAM settled in Rome in 1805.  He was a native of England, and serving on an English vessel when the revolutionary war broke out.  He deserted, joined the American army, and served till the close of hostilities.  After the war he lived for a time in Vermont.  Having married there he set out, in the winter of 1804 for the new state of Ohio, but the roads getting very bad he disposed of his horses and wagon, bought a yoke of cattle and a sled, and came on to "Olean point."  Here he procured a white nine raft, and floated down to the mouth of Hockhocking, and thence came up that river to Rome township, where he lived till his death, May 3, 1833, aged seventy-four years.  One of his grandsons, Killian V. Whaley was a member of the 38th and 39th congress from West Virginia.  Another of them, William Reed, is known as one of the enterprising business men of the township.
THOMAS F. WILDES was born at Racine, in the dominion of Canada, June 1, 1834, came to Ohio with his father's family in 1839, and to Athens in 1861 as the editor of the Athens Messenger. Mr. Wildes was an ardent republican, and in August, 1862, exchanging the pen for the sword, he entered the military service as lieutenant colonel of the 116th Ohio infantry. He was in active service with this regiment during the next two and a half years, in the army of West Virginia, part of the time commanding a brigade. In February, 1865, he was promoted to the colonelcy of the 186th Ohio volunteer infantry, and assigned to duty in the Army of the Cumberland. March11th, 1865, he was brevetted brigadier general and commanded a brigade in the army last named till he was mustered out in September, 1865. He graduated at the law school in Cincinnati in 1866, and has since practiced his profession at Athens.
JONATHAN WILKINS, one of the earliest inhabitants of Athens, was a man of very considerable learning, and for some time taught a pioneer school.  Of his son, Timothy Wilkins, the following reminiscence is furnished by Dr. C. F. Perkins; it is hardly less strange than the history immortalized by Tennyson in "Enoch Arden."
     Mr. Wilkins
was a skillful and enterprising in business, but, through no fault of his own, became embarrassed, was hard pressed by creditors, and pursued by writs.  In those days, when a man could be imprisoned for a debt of ten dollars, to fail in business was an awful thing.  Wilkins was not dishonest, but had a heart to pay if he could.  He battled bravely with his misfortunes for a considerable period, but with poor success.  One day in th year 1829, full of despair, he came from his home west of town, across the Hockhocking, and having trasacted some business with the county clerk, went out, and was supposed to have returned home.  The next morning it became known that he was not at his house.  Inquiry and search being made, the boat in which he usually crossed the river was seen floating bottom upward, and his hat was also found swimming down the stream.  Mr. Wilkins was a popular man in the community; news of his loss soon spread, the people gathered from every quarter and measures were taken to recover the body.  The river was dragged, a cannon was fired over the water, and other means resorted to, but to no purpose; the body was not found.  The excellent Mrs. Wilkins put on mourning, and friends remembered the departed for a time with affectionate regret.  As time sped, the sad incident was forgotten, and Timothy Wilkins  passed out of mind.  His wife, faithful for a time to his memory, had for years been the wedded partner of another, and a little family was growing up around the remarried woman and her second husband, Mr. Goodrich, himself a well known and worthy citizen.
     In 1834, a vague rumor - an undefined whisper from the distant southwest - circulated through the settlement that Mr. Wilkins yet survived.  Soon more positive assertions were made, and finally it was said that the missing man was alive and on his way home.  At last a neighbor received a letter from Wilkins, announcing his approach; fearing to shock his wife by a sudden appearance, he had himself originated the rumors of safety, and now announced that he would soon be in Athens.  He knew of his wife's second marriage, and in friendly spirit proposed to meet her and Mr. Goodrich.  Much excitement and distress ensued.  Mr. Wilkins arrived; there was a cordial meeting and strange interview among the parties most concerned.  The conference was friendly and satisfactory,  Messrs. Wilkins and Goodrich honestly left to the wife of their rivalship and final choice of her companion, and she selected her first love, to the great grief, but with the full acquiescence of her second.  The reunited pair bade adieu to their friends, and together set out for the distant south.
     Mr. Wilkins' disappearance was a ruse to escape his creditors.  He went to New Orleans, engaged successfully in boating, accumulated money enough to pay off all his debts, which he honorably did, and returned to claim his beloved.
 
 
 
JOSHUA WYATT, known during his residence in Athens county as "Deacon Wyatt," was a native of Beverly, Massachusetts, whence he came out as far west as Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in 1790, and from thence to Marietta, in 1799.  He settled with his family in Ames township in 1801, having the year before opened a few acres of land, and got a house under way, which was finished after the family moved in.  His family and goods came up the Hockhocking, in a boat, to Warren's station, in Canaan township, whence they were taken in teams across to his place in Ames.  His effects made seventeen wagon loads, and were mostly hauled by Peter Mansfield, through the woods, without as yet any road.  From the date of his settlement in the township till his death in 1822, he was a leading citizen.  He was a man of distinguished piety, and his life, both in public and in private, was singularly devout.  Upon the organization of the first Presbyterian church in Athens he was chosen one of the elders, and, with Deacon Ackley and Judge Alvan Bingham, continued to act as such for several years.  Soon after settling in Ames, as early as 1805, he appointed and himself conducted religious reading and prayer meetings at the school house.  These meetings were kept up as long as he lived.  His eldest daughter, Betsy Wyatt, married William Parker, May 13, 1802.  This was the first wedding in Ames township, and supposed to be the second marriage in the county.
 
 
 
 
 
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