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Welcome to
Greene County, Ohio
History & Genealogy

Source:
History of Greene County, Ohio
Together with
Historic Notes on the Northwest
and
The State of Ohio
Gleaned from Early Authors, Old Maps and Manuscripts,
Private and Official Correspondence, and
All Other Authentic Sources.
By $. S. Dills
ILLUSTRATED
Published
Dayton, Ohio:
Odell & Mayer, Publishers
1881

(Transcribed by Sharon Wick)

SUGAR CREEK TOWNSHIP
Pg. 626

     The boundary lines of Sugar Creek Township, were cast by the first organized court of the county, which convened on the 10th day of May, 1803, and is, therefore, one of the original townships of the county organization.  Originally, it embraced what is now Spring Valley Township, until sometime in the year 1856, a separation was made, and the township formed from the eastern portion, taking the name as above mentioned.  It is situated in the extreme southwest of the county, having the county lines of Montgomery, and Warren for its west and south borders, with Beaver Creek on the north, and Spring Valley on the east, and contains all of sections 34, 35, 36, town four, range five, all of sections 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, with fractional parts of 32, 27, 28, town 3, range 6.  These sections form almost a perfect parallelogram running north seven, and east three sections inclusive, to which must be added on the northeast, a part of what is known as

THE "VIRGINIA MILITARY RESERVATION."

     At one time, all this then "western wild" belonged to the state of Virginia, but was granted to the general government with a reservation, which included all that territory between the Scioto and Little Miami rivers  This reservation was made by the state to pay her soldiers, to whom she was indebted for military service.  Warrants were issued for a certain amount of land somewhere, and anywhere between these two rivers; no survey being made by the state, so each claimant located his claim wherever he might choose,

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and consequently many of the claims over-lapped each other, from which arose great confusion of titles, leading to a great deal of litigation, ending eventually in the compromise adjustment of boundary lines as represented on the map
     The Little Miami River enters the township at the northeast, is a tributary of the Ohio, and flows southward to more than half the extent of the township, when it suddenly turns eastward, and enters Spring Valley.  Little Sugar Creek, a small stream, extends from the extreme northwest, toward the center, where, at a point just south of Bellbrook, it joins Big Sugar Creek, which flows from the west.  At this juncture the uniting streams become simply Sugar Creek proper, and flowing in a southeastern direction, empty into the little Miami.  From this sall stream, or from the abundance of sugar timber of this locality, the township takes its name.  The whole extent of the township is considerably broken, especially along the river, but eastward and south are the high, rolling lands, with beautiful and fertile valleys interspersing "the grand old hills."  The soil of the highland is of rich clay, with limestone base, especially in the north, while in the south this clay soil has a sandstone base, and is especially adapted to the production of all kinds of fruits; in the valleys or bottom lands is found the black, sandy alluvial.  The principal productions are wheat, corn, oats, rye, and tobacco; considerable attention is given to the cultivation of the latter; superior grades commanding good prices are raised in this locality.
     The woodlands, of which a considerable portion ahs escaped the woodman's ax, abound mostly in sugar, walnut, oak, ash, and poplar.  The chief industries belong to the agricultural department, though there are two flouring mills on the Little Miami, good building of Bellbrook, and at present a considerable amount of good building limestone is being quarried in the north part of the township.
     Bellbrook is the only incorporated village, though there is a closely settled neighborhood in the extreme south, called Clio.
     Many railroads have been projected though this township, from all quarters and at divers times - indeed at one time two surveying parties for two different routes crossed their chains in the south-western part of Bellbrook.  This has always been considered a good omen, but as yet no road has been built, nor is the future more hopeful than the past.  Communications with the near cities are

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now well piked, and good gravel roads extend throughout the township.
     The census of 1880 gives the township a population of 1,588, a gain of one hundred and six since 1870.

FIRST SETTLEMENTS.

     The first settlement in this township, and, indeed, the first in Greene County, was made in the extreme southern part of the township, near what is now known as the village of Clio.  It was here that the first white human habitation was built, and where the first page of the history of Greene County begins.
     In the spring of the  year 1796, George Wilson, Amos Wilson (two brothers), and Jacob Mills, came up from the neighborhood of Cincinnati, and located in the southwest part of section 4, town 3, range 5, about three-fourth miles east of Clio, on what is now known as the Gauze property.  Here they built a temporary hut about twelve feet square, without floor or chimney, which was intended as a temporary shelter for these men while they were engaged in clearing the land  They cleared about three acres near the hut, and planted it in corn, when they returned to the vicinity of Cincinnati to care for their harvest which they had there.  In their absence, Daniel Wilson, another brother, came and settled just west of Clio, on the farm now owned by his grandson, Abner Wilson, being southwest part section 10, town 3, range 5.  He cleared two acres of land, and got the logs ready for his cabin.  In the fall of the same year, George and Amos Wilson, with another brother, John, returned to their former settlement, and immediately began to build their cabins.  The first of these was built for Daniel Wilson, about sixty rods west of the village of Clio, on the this, on the farm now owned by John James; another for Amos, just north, on the farm now owned by Thomas J. Brown.  After the cabins were completed, they returned to their former homes for their families.  George and Amos returned again with their families, to their new homes in the wilderness, in the latter part of the winter.  Daniel did not arrive until the 3d day of March, 1797.
     Soon after the Wilson brothers had settled, their father, John, came to visit them, and was so well pleased with the new settlement, that he concluded if the "boys" would build him a house,

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he would locate with them.  The proposition was gladly accepted, and they immediately erected a two-story hewn-log house, with puncheon floor and quite an extensive fire-place, which took up the whole west end of the house.  The house is now standing on the site of its first erection, about three-fourths of a mile east of Clio, southwest section 4 (3.5), and is, no doubt, the oldest house now standing in this township, if not in the county, having been built in 1800-1.

     JOHN WILSON, SR.., father of Daniel, George, Amos, and John, jr., was born in Pennsylvania, in the year 1738 or 1739, and came to this township about 1800, after the settlement had been made by his sons, as above mentioned.  He had purchased the lands on which the settlement had been made from John Cleves Symmes.  He (Wilson) was a delegate to the convention, in 1802, which framed the first constitution of the State of Ohio.  He attended as delegate from Hamilton County, to which this part of the country then belonged, as Green County had not then been organized.
     Daniel Wilson, oldest son of John Wilson, was born Apr. 21, 1759.  He came to this township in the fall of 1796, and settled on the farm, as before mentioned, where he lived until 1811, when he removed to Montgomery County.  He had four sons, John S., James, David, and Andrew.
     George, Amos
, and John Wilson, jr., all removed from the township at a very early period.

     JOHN SUTTON WILSON, son of Daniel Wilson, was born in Pennsylvania, Dec. 29, 1786, and died May 24, 1879.  He had three sons, Samuel, Abner, and David.  From the papers he has left behind him, we gather all that is known of the early settlement of this locality.  He was a pious, conscientious man, and has left, written in fun, many of the hymns taught him by his mother, and the early settlers in their religious worship, and thus handed down from generation to generation.  Many incidents connected with early times, are found among these papers, but we regret that the want of space precludes the most of them from these pages.

     JAMES BRELSFORD came from Pennsylvania, in the year 1811, and purchased the Daniel Wilson farm, where he lived for the period of fifty years.  He is remembered as one of the upright, substantial citizens of this locality.  He had two sons and two daughters, John, William, Mrs. Jarvis Stokes, and Mrs. Jonathan Austin.

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John Brelsford left no children.  The descendants of William  were Horace, James R. (Dr.), Samuel, John, Mary A., and Effie J.

     DANIEL CLARK was the first minister of the gospel in this locality.  He was a Baptist, "after the strictest order of his sect," preaching here as often as once every month.  His salary was made up of whatever the settlers could give, and consisted mostly of deer hides, which were then considered a very acceptable legal-tender, and  was the common material for clothing.

     In the year 1802, JAMES CARMAN, also a Baptist minister, settled on the George Wilson farm.  He performed many of the marriage ceremonies of these times, receiving, in some cases, the then liberal fee of two dollars.  He is remembered as a zealous and faithful minister.

     On the farm of THOMAS J. BROWN, just north Clio, section 10 (3. 5.), then owned by Amos Wilson, was located the first mill for grinding corn in this township, if not in the county.  It was propelled by hand, and operated by the neighbors, as they, in turn, would grind their own corn, from which that well-known article of common diet, called "mush," was made.  One of the stones of this mill is now in the possession of Mr. Brown, and is about fourteen inches in diameter.

INCIDENTS.

 

 

 

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EARLY SETTLEMENT AT BELLBROOK.

     In the early spring of 1797, Daniel Wilson, as he was returning to settle permanently near Clio, overtook Joseph C. and John Vance, in the valley south of where Lebanon now stands, who were then on their way to this locality, and hence they were the first settlers.  Joseph entered the land extending along east side of what is now Main Street, Bellbrook, being part of sections 31, 32, (3. 5).  He built a log cabin on the site now occupied by the carriage manufactory of Willoughby and Davis, on the southeast corner of Main and Walnut Streets, Bellbrook.  This was the first building in this locality, and was erected sometime in the year 1797.  It also was the building in which the first store was kept by James Gowdy, who came from Xenia, but owning to scarcity of money in this same house by James Clancey.  Joseph C. Vance removed from this locality after surveying, and laying out the city of Xenia.  In the fall of 1803, he went to Champaign County, where he died in 1843.  His son Joseph Vance, was elected governor of Ohio, in 1836; was defeated in 1838 by Wilson Shannon.  Among the old settlers of this county, were Nathan Lamme, James Snowden, Ephraim Bowden, John Hale, Joseph Hale, James and Robert Snod-

Page 632 -
grass, James Barrett, John McLain, Stephen Bell, James Clancey, Boston Hoblet, and Henry Opdyke.

     NATHAN LAMME came from Virginia, some time in the year 1797, and entered lands in sections 33, 27, (3.6), northeast of Bellbrook.  He built a cabin on the hill, just north of Washington Mills.  He served as a volunteer in the Lord Dunmore war, and participated

 

 

 

     JAMES SNOWDEN

     EPHRAIM BOWEN and JOSEPH HALE, both came from Kentucky in 1802.  The former settled where Andrew Holmes now lives, southeast section 3, (2. 6), and the latter where Daniel Holmes lives,

Page 633 -
northeast section 3, (2. 6), to which Jacob Huffman succeeded, of whom Mr. Holmes purchased.  They both removed from this locality at an early period.

     JAMES and MOSES COLLIER

     JAMES SNODGRASS

     ROBERT SNODGRASS

     JOHN McLANE

     JOHN HALE

 

 

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     SILAS HALE.

     JAMES BAIN

     STEPHEN BELL

     SAMUEL BREWSTER

     William Morris, Michael Swigert, Thomas Bigger, John C. Murphy, Jonathan Austin, and Jeremiah Gest, subsequent settlers, are remembered as prominent men in  their day.

THE PINKNEY ROAD.

 

 

 

 

 

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BELLBROOK.

 

 

 

 

Page 636 -

 

 

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INCIDENTS, ETC.

 

 

 

SCHOOLS.

 

 

 

 

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RELIGIOUS DENOMINATIONS.

 

 

 

 

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MILLS.

 

 

 

LIMESTONE QUARRIES.

 

 

 

 

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CEMETERIES.

     Many of the original religious organizations had their burial grounds located near the church buildings; hence, in various localities throughout the township are found many of the almost deserted grave-yards.  Notably among these is the Pioneer-Associate Grave-yard, north of Bellbrook, and the Sugar Creek Grave-yard, southeast.  In these grounds many of the pioneers of this locality are buried, and watchful friends still keep their places in respectable repair.
     In 1850, the "Bellbrook Cemetery Association" was organized, as a joint-stock company, Benjamin Bell, A. B. Hopkins, James Brown, Silas Hale, and R. D. Rowsey, trustees, and John G. Kyle, clerk.  Constitution and by-laws were adopted, and incorporation effected in this same year.  The association immediately proceeded to purchase land (four acres) about half a mile north of town, which was laid off in lots and streets, and otherwise improved, for burial purposes.  From year to year these grounds have been repaired and beautified, until now they compare favorably in modern respectability.

INDIAN RELICS.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"SLEEPY TOM," THE "PACING WONDER."

     This remarkable horse having achieved more than a national reputation in the American speed ring, deserves special mention in these pages.
     He was foaled at the hotel stable in Bellbrook, and is now (1880) about thirteen years old; is a stoutly bred horse, sired by Tom Rolph, he by Pocahontas; his dam was sired by Sam Hazzard.  Tom was a very unpromising colt, both in gait and appearance, and led a vagabond's life in his early days, being racked about the streets of his native village as a common "scrub."  His dam being a natural pacer, and as he showed inclinations toward that gait, which were more manifest as he grew older, his owner, Isaac Dingler, put him in training, but with indifferent success; when, seemingly, to end poor Tom's career forever, he lost his eye-sight, becoming totally blind.  He was then withdrawn from the track as worthless, and was traded and sold from hand to hand, at one time changing hands for thirty dollars and a bottle of very poor whisky.  Finally he fell into the hands of his present trainer, Steve Phillips of Xenia, who again put him in training for the speed ring, with the success now so well known.  The sightless horse seems to understand, and obeys perfectly every word spoken to him by his driver, as, in the race, he leans over him and incites him to renewed effort.  "Go in, Tom, and win," are the words that spurs the intelligent horse to his fullest speed at the last quarter stretch in a close race, and well does he heed it.  He is the brightest star of the splendid pacing quartette of 1879 - Sleepy Tom, Mattie, Hunter, Rowdy Boy, and Lucy, which three were beaten at Chicago, Illinois, July

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24 and 25, 1879, Tom taking the third, fourth and fifth mile heats in 2:16, 2:16, and 2:12, for a purse of $15,000.  The last heat he recorded the best time known in the world in any gait, and Sleepy Tom's name immediately became a household word, and his fame spread throughout the world.

BIOGRAPHICAL

FRANKLIN BERRYHILL

JOHN BIGGER

ANDREW BYRD

JAMES H. BRADFORD

THOMAS CRAMER

SAMUEL ELCOOK

JAMES ELIOT

G. W. GRIFFITH

GEORGE M. HARMEN

DANIEL HOLMES

ANDREW HOLMES

JOSEPH HOLMES

W. A. HOPKINS

ARCHIBALD HUSTON

NATHAN JAMES

LEWIS A. KEMP

WILLIAM S. MORRIS

S. B. MURPHY

JOHN M. STAKE

SOLOMON SWIGART

MICHAEL SWIGART

JOEL SWIGART

JOHN TURNBULL, M. D.

THOMAS WHITE

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