Gallia County, Ohio

Raccoon Township
Source:  History of Gallia County
Publ: 1882 - H. H. Hardesty & Co., Publishers, Chicago & Toledo


     This township was laid out March 24th, 1805, and finally organized June 12th, 1812.  It contains thirty-six full sections of land, surface generally hilly, excepting about Centreville, and along the margin of the streams where there are broad bottom lands.  The soil is a black loam and clay well adapted to grain and grass culture, and the timber is oak of different species, sugar maple, black walnut, poplar and buckeye.  There are thin veins of coal in the hills, and there is some mining done for home consumption; there are also surface indications of iron ore and limestone, in considerable quantities.  The township is settled by a thrifty farming community, largely Welsh, of whom a brief sketch is given in these pages.
     Big Raccoon creek enters in northeastern part, and taking rather a crooked course runs across the township from north to south.  Big Indian creek enters the northwestern part of the township, runs a southeasterly course and empties into the Big Raccoon.  Little Indian, Big Deer, Little Deer and Beaver creeks are small streams within the township.
     The first election was held at the house of Adam Rickabaugh, on the third Monday of April, 1805.  Among the first settlers were Henry and John Rickabaugh, who came in 1800;  David Ridgeway, 1803; Adam Rickabaugh, Patrick Reed; Nehemiah Woods, 1805; W. M. Wood, 1805; William Ridgeway, 1804; Elnathan Barlow, 1803; Harrison Wood, 1805; William Steel, senior and junior, 1815; Jane Ridgeway, 1817; and Rufus Jacobs, 1819.
     The first settlement was made on section one.  In 1803, James Burford and Isaac Tyler settled and built a cabin on the banks of Big Raccoon creek.  Daniel Boone, James Burford and Col. Robert Safford came to this township together as early as 1792, and engaged in trapping for two years, during which time they caught one hundred bears in the neighborhood of the present village of Adamsville, on this creek.  In parting with Safford, shortly afterward, Boone presented him with his traps and other articles, which are now in the hands of the family of one of his descendants, the late Cameron Safford.  As a matter of interest connected with the life of James Burford and the history of thsi township, the reader's attention is called to a sketch of the life of Robert Safford, published in herein.
     In the year 1803, Adam Rickabaugh built a grist ill on the bank of the Big Raccoon, in what is now section twenty-six, the present village of Adamsville.  In 1805, this mill was purchased by Nehemiah Woods, who attached to it a saw mill, and also a carding and fulling mill for dressing cloth - the first mills in the township.
     School was first taught by a man named Monday, in a little log building, with an opening covered with oiled paper for windows.  There are now fifteen neat school buildings- twelve for white and three for colored scholars - which are well supplied with modern school furniture and attended by about seven hundred scholars.
     Nehemiah Woods was postmaster of the Woods Mills postoffice, the first in the township, which stood on the site of the present village of Adamsville.  There are now four within the township: Thurman Rio Grande, Harris and Lycoon offices.
     Religious services were held at a very early date, at the house of Adam Rickabaugh, near the before mentioned mill.  The township is now scattered over with neat churches of different denominations.


     The first Welsh emigrants (Cymry) landed at Gallipolis, Ohio, in September, 1818.  The men of the party were John Jones, (father of Timothy Jones, who was the best known) John Evans, Evan Evans and Lewis Davis, who were called "old settlers" by those who came after them.  They came down the Ohio river from Pittsburg in push boats, built for moving families sometimes one large family filling an entire boat.  Their destination was Paddy's Run, near Cincinnati, but they went ashore at Gallipolis to get provisions, and being kindly treated by the inhabitants, and finding that, like themselves, they had come across the Atlantic, they soon became attached to the French settlers and were more easily persuaded to remain.
     The men went out to where Rodney now stands and got work on the State road then being built from Chillicothe to Gallipolis, under David Varian.  While thus employed they were told of a fertile and healthy region a few miles further west, and were thus led to settle near the present village of Centreville, now a part of Jackson county, but then within the limits of Gallia county.  These original Welsh went into the forests and hewed out homes for their families, and had become almost like the natives before any of their countrymen followed, the first of whom came after them in about 1834, or sixteen years later.  Prominent among these was Thomas Evans, whose house at Gallipolis was the headquarters for all the new arrivals.
     For the next ten years, the Welsh poured into Gallia county and overflowed into Jackson county in such numbers as to form a large colony, and soon Welsh churches were built and Welsh preaching heard throughout the settlement.  They proved to be industrious and frugal - soon owned farms and stock, and their community was noted for its prosperity.  The iron furnaces afforded them opportunities to earn a little money by their labor, although the pay was mostly in goods, at high prices, and the salt wells of the Kanawha attracted some to that field of labor.
     The Welsh added much to the general prosperity of the county, and were found to be less clannish and more readily Americanized than many other classes of foreigners.  They appreciated the value of education; strived to obtain it, and urged their children to seek it.  They were taught religious truth from infancy, and became stout defenders of the church.  Rarely is one of their descendants to be found in prison, or in the poor house, while their enterprise and activity have added much to the general welfare of the people.
     As a matter of interest connected with the history of this township, the following sketch of one who was early and long identified with it will be given.  Attention is also called to other personal sketches which are given in the following pages:


of Centreville, was born April 14, 1809, on the seashore, near the village of Llanon, in Cardiganshire, South Wales.  His school-days were spent in close application, and he soon became a fine scholar.  He emigrated to this county at the age of twenty-five, came by canal from New York to Buffalo, by schooner across Lake Erie, thence to Chillicothe by canal, and on foot to a little Welsh settlement, about two miles west of Centreville, where he found his brother-in-law, Evan Evans and John Evans "Rock".  The whole settlement could only produce two wheels, and these were owned by John Hunt, who kindly loaned them to Mr. Evans, and with them he went back through the wilderness to Chillicothe, and returned his wife and worldly effects to his new home.  His first winter was spent in teaching, his scholars being composed principally of young men, among whom were William, James and Joseph Hunt.  He then began the business of selling goods at Mr. Marvin's, now Winchester, in Jackson county, Ohio.  Remaining there about two years, he removed to Gallipolis, where he sold goods for F. & A. LeClercq for six years, on the old corner on the square.  Returning again to the country, he went into business for himself with Francis Sanns, who met his death by the explosion of the steamer Blue Ridge, on the Ohio river, almost within sight of home and friends.
     He continued in business, at Centreville, form 1845 until the day of his death, which occurred January 22d, 1873, in his 64th year.  During his long life he was an energetic Christian man, widely known and respected, and was a recognized leader in the church for over thirty years.  He was an ardent Whig, voted for Harrison, and since the demise of that party has always been a Republican.  A number of his descendants have occupied prominent positions in the vicinity.


     Centreville is located in Section nineteen, about the center of the western line of the township, its western boundary being the line between Gallia and Jackson counties.  It was laid out May 6th, 1835, by Reuben Rambo and Timothy Jones; William Preston acting acting as surveyor.  In 1880 it had a population of 272..  John McColester was the first mayor.  The present village officers are John J. Thomas, mayor; Thomas W. Williams, clerk; David M. Evans, treasurer; L. D. Hutchinson, marshal; councilmen, John Morgan, Edward S. Jones, John E. Rosser, Lemuel Thomas, M. E. Beman and John S. Thomas.
The village contains a fine school building, two churches (one Baptist and one Methodist), a national bank, a number of good stores, two hotels and a large flour mill.  It had considerable importance for many years, when it was located on the mail route from Gallipolis to Oak Hill, before the advent of the railroad into the former town.


     Until the year 1868 this society was known as New Zion, and worshiped in a house about one-half mile west of the village.  It was organized Oct. 12, 1820, by the Rev. James Gilruth, the preacher in charge.  Thomas Buck was appointed class leader.  The names of the first members of the society were Thomas Buck, Nathan Perkins, Sallie Perkins, Barbary Hepingstall, Jane Buck, William Williams, Abraham Spencer, Susan Smith and William Cherrington.  The society worshiped in the house of Thomas Buck, until in 1832, when the church was erected as above stated.  Thomas Buck, Evan Evans and Josiah Cherrington were appointed trustees.  The society continued to worship in that house until 1867, when a new house, now occupied by the society, was erected in the village of Centreville.  Since the organization of this church there have been eighty-eight regularly appointed pastors from the conference, besides the "supplies,"{ the writer of this, Rev. J. Q. Larkins, being the last appointee.  The church now numbers about one hundred members and worships in a good house.  It was what we call a half station, and in connection with Thurman circuit, Gallipolis district, Ohio Annual Conference.


is located upon the west bank of Big Raccoon creek, in section twenty-six, eleven miles west from Gallipolis.  It was laid out by Adam and William Rickabaugh, November 20th, 1837,and has never been incorporated.


is located in section thirteen, on the eastern bank of Big Raccoon creek, twelve miles northwest of Gallipolis.  It was laid out in 1837, by Samuel McCarley and Charles Tappin; Joseph Fletcher, county surveyor, and has never been incorporated.


was organized April 4, 1862, by a council consisting of Rev. H. J. Carr, J. Sherritt, Samuel T. Koons, J. C. Nye and R. P. Porter.  Rev. J. C. Nye, I. Z. Haning, W. J. Fulton, Simeon Weed and T. E. Peden have successively filled the office of pastor.  The church numbers sixty resident and thirty non-resident members.  The society has never owned a meeting house, but is now engaged in building one.


was instituted in 1882, Rev. R. M. Cloud, O. H. Denney and T. E. Peden acting as council.  Number of members, twenty; Rev. R. M. Cloud, pastor.


     This village is located on section twenty-seven, and its principal object of interest is


     This institution was founded by Deacon Nehemiah Atwood, born in 1792 in Shenandoah county, Virginia, and his wife, Permilia Atwood (later Wood), born in 1802.  By their industry and good management they saved a considerable fortune by farming and keeping a tavern.  They were baptized by the late Rev. I. Z. Haning, January 26th, 1851.  Soon after this the desire became strong in Deacon Atwood's mind to us his property for some worthy Christian purpose, and thus, after due deliberation and consultation with Rev. I. Z. Haning, the determination to build a college was formed.
     Deason Atwood died, in 1869, intestate, but his wife proceeded to carry out his wishes, by the erection of college buildings on a site previously by him.
     The builders were Mullineux, Lawson & Co., of Gallipolis.  The main building was erected in 1875.  The boarding hall on the west side was completed in 1877.  The first building was formally dedicated August 29, 1876, and school was opened on the 13th of September following.   The faculty for the first year was as follows:  Rev. Ransom Dunn, D. D., president and professor of mental and moral philosophy; Albanus A. Moulton, A. M., professor of mathematics and instructor in Greek; Rufus D. Jacobs, M. D., professor of chemistry; Miss Nellie M. Phillips, B. S., preceptress and instructor in English and modern languages; Miss Ida B. Haning, teacher of instrumental music; T. Jay Morgan, assistant teacher in mathematics.  Of these Rev. R. Dunn and Dr. Jacobs gave instruction only occasionally in  the form of lectures.  Miss Nellie Phillips subsequently became a missionary to India.  Mr. Dunn resigned the presidency in 1877, and in 1878 A. A. Moulton was elected to fill the vacancy.  The following have been connected with the faculty in addition to the foregoing:  Rev. J. M. Davis, A. M. Rev. Thomas E. Peden, Miss Helen A. Dunn, B. S. (later Mrs. Gates), Miss Gertrude W. Coplin, Ph. B., and H. A. Brandyberry.
     The enrollment for the year ending June, 1882, was 130.  The college was a well-sustained literary society and a strong Young Men's Christian Association organization, a library of a few hundred volumes, and about $100 worth of apparatus;  also a small geological and zoological collection.  additions are made to the library, apparatus and collections each year.
     In accordance with the wishes of the donor, the institution is under the auspices of the Free-Will Baptist denomination - clause in teh constitution requiring that at least two thirds of the trustees be members in good standing of the denomination.  the constitution also provides that at least five of the trustees shall be citizens of Gallia county.


    This church was organized in 1850, at a Presbyterian church called The Sanctuary, and was called the First Free-will Baptist church in Raccoon township.
     The number of members at the organization was about thirty.  About 1853 the church building now in the use was erected, near the present village of Rio Grande.  Some time afterwards Deacon Nehemiah Atwood gave the church an endowment fund of two thousand dollars, to secure preaching once a month, continually.  Rev. Ira Z. Haning was pastor of the church from its organization until his death in September, 1878.  Rev. Ira Z. Haning was pastor of the church from its organization until his death in September, 1878.  Rev. John M. Davis as been pastor since October, 1879, with Rev. Thomas E. Peden as associate.  The deacons are A. A. Moulton and D. W. Rickabuagh.  There are at present eighty-one resident and thirty-nine non-resident members.  A. A.. Moulton is superintendent of the Sabbath school, which numbers seventy-five.  



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