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Greene County, Ohio
History & Genealogy

Source:
Green County 1803  - 1908.
Edited by A Committee of the Home Coming Association -
Xenia, Ohio -
The Aldine Publishing House
1908
(Transcribed by Sharon Wick)

Pg. 3

A REMINISCENCE.
by Chancellor Henry M. McCracken.

     It is more than half a century since I was told by my father the story of his making his way on foot to Greene County as a young man from the home of my grandfather, who was known as Squire John MacCracken, of Butler County, Ohio.  My grandfather had been told by Judge Burnet of Cincinnati, after whom the Burnet House was named, that he would give him for his Butler County land as much of the Burnet unimproved land in Greene County as he might select as a fair equivalent.  My father, John Steel MacCracken, with his older brother, Samuel Wilson MacCracken, and a young man who afterwards became their brother-in-law, Mark McMaken (who died less than ten years since in Hamilton, Ohio, in the one hundredth year of his life) came on foot from Butler County up to Greene County.  They selected certain parcels of the land belonging to Judge Burnet.  The principal parcel was a section or more in Beaver Creek Township, four miles west of Xenia.  The three young men returned and reported their choice of lands.  The grandfather doubted if Judge Burnet would consent to give so large an acreage for the little farm in Butler County.  But the Judge agreed to the proposed trade without the slightest hesitation.  The young men returned to Greene County with their axes, cleared many acres of land and builded a house of hewn logs, a part of which is still upon the Henry Ankeny farm near the banks of Beaver Creek.
     My father, was born in the year 1804, more than once pointed me to a pleasant knoll overlooking the Beaver Creek Valley and said: "My older brother Samuel and I sat there upon the fence which we had builded and debated whether we could not then afford to leave farming, begin to prepare ourselves for college and go through the college course of four years and the Theological Seminary in order to be ministers according to the ordinary Presbyterian requirements.  We then and there declared to one another that we would make the attempt."  The farm and old folks were left behind in the care of a younger brother while the two older brothers began the battle for education.  They and their parents were all connected with what is now known as the First United Presbyterian Church of Xenia, Ohio, but which was then known as the First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church of Xenia.  My grandfather, Squire John MacCracken, was a ruling elder in this church and remained so until his death.  A notable resolve of my father was to keep the land which was his upon Beaver Creek to fall back upon if at any time he should require it.  Aided by the productiveness of his Beaver Creek farm he was able to give to his children a liberal education without the hardship which had been encountered by those in pioneer times in order to make their way.
     My own individual recollection of Xenia begins with my father who was then a pioneer preacher in Hardin County about sixty years ago, bringing me, a boy of about eight years of age, to attend the meeting of Synod in this city.  We are entertained by a Mr. Gowdy, father of Rev. George Gowdy, who lived upon Main Street, in whose house then and there I saw what seemed to me the most beautiful bit of architecture I had ever known, namely, a marble mantlepiece.  Such a thing did not exist in the town or in the county where my father had preached since the time I was three years old.  My boyish recollection continued to cherish Xenia as a notable city builded largely of brick and of stone when so many county towns of Ohio had only houses of frame or even of logs.  It may have been on this same visit to Xenia or possibly an earlier one when I have my first sight of a locomotive, the Little Miami road having just been opened north as far as Xenia.  At that time the road to Columbus had not been built.  I recollect my especial interest when told that the locomotive was going down to take in water and how I needed to have my notion corrected that it had to find its way down into the water of Shawnee Creek in order to get a sufficient supply.
     Greene County and Xenia were my own home for barely two years, from 1859 until 1861, during which period I was a student in the Theological Seminary of the United Presbyterian Church, occupying, however, the most of my time the first year as an instructor of classes, particularly in the classics, in the Xenia High School.  I have always counted it a privilege that I was contemporary there with Dr. William G. Moorehead and other students who have made their impression upon the church of their generation.  My recollections of those two years in Xenia just before and after the beginning of the great Civil War, are of a community of high intelligence, earnest religious life and devoted patriotic spirit.
     May I be permitted, while not forgetting the share that people of various races have taken in the making of Xenia and Greene County, to emphasize the large contributions made to her history by the Scotch and Scotch-Irish.  United Presbyterians came originally entirely from Scotland or the north of Ireland.  The Scotch-Irish furnished half of the Presbyterians of every name in the United States.
     There are three generations out yonder in the Xenia cemetery which I have ever remembered as expressing the profound, religious conviction of those Scotch and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians who have gone forth from Green County to serve their fellow men.  They are placed over the graves of the Covenanter Gilbert McMaster, and his two Presbyterian sons, all eminent doctors of the Church; and on the first I read, "God, thou art my God;"  on the second, "Jehovah-Jireh;" on the third, "I will go unto God, my exceeding joy;" and that is Cavinism in the warm heart and the educated brain of the Scotch-Irish.  God is his God.  He trusts Him to provide everything and to solve mysteries.  Existence is an eternal friendship, an approaching nearer and more near to his exceeding joy.
     This depth of faith, joined with strength of intellect and saving common sense, has done more than all else to make many sons and daughters of Green County of some value to their country and to the world.

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