Transcribed by Sharon Wick
HISTORY of GREENE COUNTY, OHIO
Organization of the County, Its Division into Townships,
Sketches of Local Interest Gleaned from the Pioneers from
1803 to 1840, together with a
Roster of the Soldiers of the Revolution and the War of 1812,
who were Residing in the County.
A Roster of Ten Thousand of the Early Settlers from 1803 to 1840.
By George F. Robinson.
- ILLUSTRATED -
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company.
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W. L. MILLER.
Among the younger members of the legal profession in Xenia
is W. L. Miller, but his years seem to be no bar to
his progress as an attorney for already he has won success
as a lawyer that many an older practitioner might well envy.
He was born at Trebein, Greene county, Ohio, Aug. 2, 1872,
and is the second son of W. J. and Sarah E. (Steele)
Miller, also natives of Greene county. James
Miller the grandfather of our subject, was one of three
brothers who came to Ohio from the vicinity of Williamsport,
Pennsylvania, and located on Beaver creek in this county,
thus becoming pioneer settlers of this portion of the state.
James Miller was a carpenter and farmer and possessed
considerable mechanical ingenuity. His son, William
J. Miller, carried on the business of farming. He
wedded Sarah E. Steele, a native of this county and a
representative of one of its pioneer families. They
became the parents of six children, of whom five are now
living, W. L., of this review; Jessie, at
home; Clarence O., who is now employed as a
bookkeeper but makes his home with his parents; James A.
and Elizabeth, who are also at home. By a
former marriage the father had one son, Grant, who
now resides at Trebein, and is engaged in farming.
W. L. Miller continued his education until he
had completed the course of the township high school and
then engaged in teaching in the district schools of his
township. He afterwards spent three years as a student
in the law office of Little & Spencer, of Xenia, and
then became a member of the senior class in the law
department of the Ohio State University, in which he was
graduated with the class of 1895, but in December of the
previous year he was admitted to the bar. Immediately
after his graduation he opened an office in Xenia and has
since been engaged in the general practice of his
profession. He soon demonstrated his ability to handle
intricate litigated interests and now has a good clientage,
which is continually growing.
Mr. Miller served for four years as United
States commissioner for the southern district of Ohio.
He is a member of Xenia Lodge, No. 49, F. & A. M., and Xenia
Chapter, No. 36, R. A. M. He is also identified with
Xenia Lodge, No. 668, B. P. O. E., and is a member of Silver
Star Lodge, N. O. 668, K. P. He is a member of the
Reformed church, and his cooperation is given to many
movements and measures for the general good. He is a
representative of a high type of American manhood —
resolute, ambitious, determined, and energetic, interested
in matters of citizenship, enjoying the pleasures of social
life and alert to business opportunities and advantages.
Source: History of Greene County, Ohio by George F.
Robinson, Publ. 1902 - Page 912
MATTHEW V. MORRIS.
Matthew V. Morris, who follows farming in Sugarcreek
township, his home being near Bellbrook, is a native of the
locality in which he resides. Here he was born Mar.
23, 1836, one of the children of William and Priscilla
(LeCompt) Morris; the former a native of Maryland and
the latter of Delaware. They were married in her
native state and in the '20s came to Ohio, residing for a
time in Franklin, Delaware county, above Columbus.
Subsequently they again came to Greene county, and conducted
a hotel in Bellbrook, after which the father became the
owner of a half interest in the Washington mill near
Bellbrook. When he sold that he retired to the farm
upon which our subject now resides, making it his home
throughout his remaining days. He had about one
hundred and seventy acres of land in that place and his
landed possessions altogether aggregated six hundred and
twenty acres, for as his financial resources had increased,
he had made judicious investments in property. He
became a prosperous man, yet all that he had was acquired
after he came to Ohio. His parents had died in the
east and as he was the eldest of the family he cared for the
children, providing for their support. He also brought
them with him to Ohio and thus a heavy burden devolved upon
him, but he bore it uncomplainingly. Strong resolution
and determination at length enabled him to overcome all the
difficulties and obstacles in his path and gradually he
worked his way upward to prosperity. In addition to
the operation of his mills he conducted a distillery and
marketed his products in Cincinnati. At the time when
Andrew Jackson vetoed, the national bankrupt bill,
the money stringency which followed this measure caused him
to become a bankrupt. He was one of the two most
extensive business men in the county and his efforts
resulted not only in promoting his own success but proved of
value in promoting the general welfare. He had been a
Democrat up to the time of Jackson's administration
but never afterward voted that ticket. While he did
not become identified with any church after his removal to
Ohio, he believed in the Baptist faith. Although he
suffered financial disaster, his honesty was never called in
question and it was well known that he was a man of his word
and did the best that he could. In his family were
eight children who reached maturity and of whom Mr.
Morris of his review was the seventh. They were as
follows: Thomas, who married Johanna Stipp,
died in Xenia, leaving one child. Sarah owns
the old homestead. William, of Xenia township,
married Rebecca Wilson and has one child.
Frances is deceased. James, who married
Sarah Earl of New York, by whom he has one child, now
makes his home in Liberty, Indiana. Mary
resides in Columbus. Matthew V. is the next
younger. Carrie is the wife of F. Benjamin
Atkins, of Columbus, and has one son. George
has passed away. The death of the father
occurred Apr. 21, 1875, and the mother died Nov. 19, 1876.
He had served his country as captain in the war of 1812 and
was ever loyal to the best interests of county, state and
At an early age Matthew V. Morris took his place
in the fields, working at the plow through a long period.
When winter came and the crops had all been harvested, he
entered the common schools, there acquiring his education.
He remained with his father most of the time until his
marriage. A period of three years was passed in West
Jefferson, Ohio, where he owned and operated a sawmill.
He also purchased land there which is now under a high state
of cultivation. His home farm comprised sixty acres of
land, on which is a good residence and modern improvements
that stand as monuments to his enterprise and industry.
On the 19th of October, 1871, Mr. Morris was
married to Miss Laura V. Clements who was born on a
farm near Ingleside, in Queen Anne county, Maryland, a
daughter of Joel and Louisa (Jarrell) Clements.
Mrs. Morris was reared in the state of her nativity and
after attending the common schools, continued her education
in the Wesleyan Female Seminary in Wilmington, Delaware.
In 1869 she came to Ohio where she formed the acquaintance
of Mr. Morris, but their marriage was celebrated at
her home in Maryland. They have two sons: Herbert
Earl, born on the home farm, Sept. 29, 1872; and
Charles Clements, born Sept 5, 1874. The former is
a graduate of the home school of the class of 1891 and at
the age of eighteen years entered Antioch College. The
latter completed the high school course in Bellbrook with
the class of 1891 and when sixteen years of age entered
Antioch College with his brother. He spent two years
in the preparatory department and one year in the collegiate
department. The elder brother became a student in the
State University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in the fall of
1894 and was graduated with the class of 1898. He then
remained upon the home farm for a year and in the fall of
1899 entered the Ohio Medical College at Cincinnati where he
will graduate with the class of 1903. After leaving
Antioch College the younger son taught school for a year and
in the fall of 1895 matriculated in the State University of
Michigan where he was graduated with the class of 1899.
The same year he accepted the seat of mathematics in the
Mount Herman Boys' School at Mount Herman, Massachusetts, in
which capacity he is still serving. Mr. Morris
exercises his right of franchise in support of the men and
measures of the Republican party, and he and his wife and
their son Earl are members of the Methodist
Protestant church, in which he has served as trustee,
steward and Sunday-school superintendent. Their son
Charles is a charter member of Mount Herman University
Congregational church, which was established in memory of
Moody in the year of the death of that great evangelist.
The sons are both young men of excellent ability and strong
mentality, of whom the parents have every reason to be
proud. Mr. Morris has set them an excellent
example, for throughout life he has been true to manly
principles and has conscientiously performed every duty that
has devolved upon him.
Source: History of Greene County, Ohio by George F.
Robinson, Publ. 1902 - Page 769
WILLIAM S. MORRIS.
William Spinning Morris was born near Lebanon, Warren
county, Ohio, Feb. 17, 1811, a son of Benjamin and Mary
(Spinning) Morris. The Morris family came
originally from England. Isaac Morris, the
grandfather of our subject, lived in Morristown, New Jersey,
prior to and during the Revolutionary war, and during that
contest he served as a private with the minute men of the
Morris county, New Jersey militia. He married
Rebecca Hathaway and they became the parents of five
sons and two daughters, of whom Benjamin, born Feb.
20, 1774, was the second child. At the close of the
Revolutionary war the family removed to the Northwest
Territory, as Ohio was then called. The route chosen
was by way of Pennsylvania, and several weeks were required
in making the overland journey through the wilderness and
over the mountains to Redstone, near Pittsburg. After
tarrying there for a few months they embarked on a flatboat
with all their possessions and floated down the Ohio river,
landing at Columbia, near Cincinnati, in the year 1790.
This site was afterward abandoned because of the frequent
overflow of the river, and they went north ten or twelve
miles to a place called Round Bottom, on the Little Miami
river. In order to protect themselves against the
Indians they at once began the erection of a fort.
Benjamin Morris, then sixteen years of age, assisted in
its construction. A small patch of ground was cleared
and such grain as they hand brought with them was planted.
While at work, whether sowing or reaping, two men were kept
on duty as sentinels, yet the settlement suffered from
occasional attacks by the Indians until after General
Wayne's successful campaign in 1795. To add to
their hardships smallpox broke out among them and carried
off several of their number, including the young wife and
infant child of Benjamin Morris. He had married
a Miss Tichener.
Jacob, the eldest son of Isaac Morris,
joined St. Clair's forces against the Indians and was
among the victims of that awful defeat. When
General Wayne was organizing his army Benjamin Morris
removed from the fort and enlisted as a pack-horse man, thus
taking part in the campaign. After peace had been
established Isaac and Benjamin Morris removed from
the fort. The former purchased a tract of land about
four miles west of Lebanon, Warren county. He died in
his eighty-eighth year. He was a man of small stature
and somewhat original in his religious views.
Benjamin Morris bought a farm a short distance
north of that purchased by his father and occupied in
throughout his remaining days. He wedded, for his
second wife, Mary Spinning, a daughter of Matthias
and Hannah (Haines) Spinning, who lived about two miles
west of Lebanon. The Spinnings trace their
ancestry to Humphrey Spinning, who came to America in
1639 with the Puritans. He was one of the founders of
Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the year 1665. He was
married Oct. 14, 1657 to Abigail, daughter of
George and Mary Hubbard, and his death occurred in 1689.
He was the father of nine children, six sons and three
daughters, including Edward, the father of
Matthias Spinning. The last named was born in the
year 1750 and died in 1830. He had three brothers and
two sisters, including Judge Isaac Spinning, of
Montgomery county, Ohio. Matthias Spinning was
a quiet and peaceable man of sterling worth. He served
in the Revolutionary war as a private minute man of the
Essex county, New Jersey, militia, and suffered much for the
cause of American liberty. He and his brother Isaac
were captured and carried to New York, where they were
confined for several months within the loathsome walls of
what was called the Sugar House, famous as a place of
confinement for the American prisoners of war.
The children of Benjamin and Mary (Spinning) Morris
were ten in number - five sons and five daughters, of whom
the subject of this review was the eighth in order of birth.
The father died in 1861 at the home of his son, near
Bellbrook, Greene county, whither he had come on a visit.
After the death of his wife, Mary Spinning, he had
married again, the third union being with Sarah Weaver,
of White county, Tennessee.
The subject of this sketch was born on his father's
farm, where his boyhood days were also spent. His
educational privileges were those afforded by the common
schools. The first schoolhouse in which he was a
student was a log structure with slab seats. Sections
of logs were cut out and the apertures covered with greased
paper, which served as windows. Writing desks were
made of slabs laid on pins driven into the wall. Only
quill pens were used. His early education was
afterward supplemented by study in the schools of Lebanon,
Ohio. Mr. Morris was a good student in all
branches, but showed particular aptness in mathematics and
geography. He began teaching school at the age of
twenty years and followed that profession for eleven years,
mostly in Warren and Butler counties, Ohio, with a short
period in Richmond, Indiana. During that time he also
studied civil engineering and land surveying, and in the
former capacity was employed on the Warren county canal for
about three years. About 1838, in connection with
others, he surveyed the road from Lebanon to Dayton, also
from Dayton to Springfield.
On the 1st of December, 1844, Mr. Morris was
united in marriage with Mary Pence, a daughter of
William and Martha (Hunt) Pence. He then gave all
of his attention to farming and land surveying.
In 1858 he purchased a farm of one hundred and seventy acres
near Bellbrook, Greene county, to which place he and his
family removed the same year and one which he spent his
remaining days. Politically he was first a Whig and
then a Republican. In early life he became a member of
the Church of Christ, or Disciples church, as did his wife,
and throughout the years of his Christian life he was deeply
interested in church work and much devoted to the
denomination of his choice. In his home life and
personal deportment he was gentle and good, and also showed
firmness and resolution. He was the father of twelve
children, of whom two sons, William Hayden and
Benjamin Franklin, died in infancy, while one daughter,
Lucy Elvira, died in early childhood and two others,
Clara and Abbie, died in young womanhood.
Two sons and five daughters few to maturity. For these
he made every necessary sacrifice to educate and make useful
men and women of them. In all this he was ably
seconded by his wife, who was ever ready to surrender her
own personal comfort that her children might equip
themselves as thoroughly as possible for the battle of life.
Through his declining years Mr. Morris spent
much of his time in reading. At eighty-seven his
mental faculties remained unimpaired and he was interested
not only in things pertaining to the welfare of his own
neighborhood but shared with intelligent appreciation in the
larger interests of the county and humanity. He died
Apr. 3, 1898, and his wife died Oct. 19, 1886. Their
surviving children were: Olive and Wickliffe
Campbell, who resides on the old home place, and the
latter has two daughters, Bertha Lucile and
Frances; Martha, who became the wife of Samuel
E. Raper, of Dayton, Ohio, and died June 7, 1899,
leaving one son, William Morris Raper; Mary Alice
who became the wife of J. Wilbur Fulkerson of Spring
Valley, Ohio, and died Oct. 13, 1901, leaving an infant son,
Morris A. Fulkerson; Lucy, the wife of W. Calvin
Williamson, who resides near Bellbrook, and by whom she
has a son, Calvin Morris; Clara Jerusha, the wife of
Frank C. Thomas, who resides near Spring Valley, and
by whom she had four children - Olive, now deceased.
Homer, Morris, George Huber and Margaret; William
Spencer, of Dayton, who married Luella A. Scarff
and has two sons, William Stanley and Howard
Source: History of Greene County, Ohio by George F.
Robinson, Publ. 1902 - Page 846
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