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Welcome to
Greene County, Ohio
History & Genealogy

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

Pg. 74

John Francis Orr

     Tis an invidious task to select from so many who have risen to prominence in their times the names of a few former citizens who, by their preeminence, are entitled to honorable mention in this book.  The list is foredoomed to be incomplete, but at the risk of leaving out some who ought to be mentioned, justice will be done to a few.
     The history of our county naturally divides into three periods:  The time from the earliest settlement up to the year 1820 may be denominated the pioneer period; from 1820 to 1860, the period of construction; and from 1860 to the present time, the modern period.  Of each period there was a leader, whose sway was, indeed, disputed, but of whose primacy history will leave little doubt. 
     Of the pioneer period several might have claimed the title of leader.  There was Col. John Paul, the keen-sighted land speculator, who, in his position as clerk of the county court obtained first knowledge of the decision of the associate judges as to the location of the county seat, and who allowed no grass to grow under his feet while acquiring the title to the town site.  He it was who gave the county the court house site, and he was our member of the first Constitutional Convention and of the first

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State senate.  His shrewdness, energy, and business foresight might easily have made him the leading spirit of his time; but John Paul was a restless rover, and Greene County soon became too populous for his pioneer tastes; so in 1809 he removed to the newer wilderness of Indiana, where again lie founded a city - the city of Madison, of the site of which city he was the owner.  Here again he was generous in the donation of sites for public purposes, and here he died and is buried.
     Of the other strong men of that period mention might be made of James and Moses Collier, James and George Galloway, William Maxwell, our first representative in the State legislature and an associate justice, James Barrett, also an associate justice, Owen Davis, whose house was the first capitol of the comity, Peter Borders, Jacob Smith, long a member of the State legislature, James Popenoe, Sr., and Peter, his brother, Andrew Read, William A. Beatty, tavern keeper and town director, Frederick and Chappel Homier, Nathan Lamme, Joseph C. Vance, who laid out the town of Xenia, and whose son afterwards became the Governor of the State of Ohio,  Henry Hypes, James Towler, Dr. Joseph Johnson, Richard Conwell, and Amasa Read.
     But, one name is impressed upon the history of the pioneer period a little more distinctly than any other - the name of General Benjamin Whiteman, one of the first group of associate justices, and long a leading citizen of the county.  General Whiteman was born in Philadelphia, Pa., March 6th, 1760), and prior to his settlement here had passed through the county three times with expeditionary forces against the Indians - in 1790, 1792, and 1794.  In 1799 he made permanent settlement, having previously married in Kentucky the daughter of Owen Davis above mentioned.  His first residence was at the original county seat on Beaver Creek, with his father-in-law, who operated a flouring mill.  In 1805 he removed to Clifton, where he continued to reside until his death on July 1st, 1852.
     General Whiteman was a man of dignity and character, revered for his uprightness, and of great influence in the new county, he and his fellows were the men who fought the Indians, delimited the county, laid out the towns and townships,

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established the courts, hewed the forests, and erected a primitive civilization, which some of them lived many years to enjoy.
     During the period of construction many men came to the front to divide the honors of primacy, but facile princeps was Dr. Joshua Martin, born in Loudon County, Virginia, March 23rd, 1791, died at Louisville, Ky., November 30th, 1865.  The greater part of his life was spent in this community.  His indeed was a strong character, uniting with personal dignity, sterling integrity, and great professional skill, the arts of the political manager. lie was the Mentor of his political party, and the leader in every public enterprise during his long career, and as such became widely known among public men.
     Scarcely less prominent during the same period were Aaron Harlan, who served his district in Congress, and John Alexander - a man of the most rugged and positive character, the opposite
in all things of Dr. Martin, though his long-time friend.  Their contemporaries were such men as John Hivling, James B. Gardiner, Major Robert Gowdy, Dr. George W. Stipp, S. W. Reeder, Josiah Grover, Samuel Kyle, Peter Pelham, Samuel Harry, Daniel Lewis, Joseph G. Gest, Sr., Michael Nunnemaker, Thomas Coke Wright, James A. Scott, William Ellsberry, a noted lawyer, Casper L. Merrick, inn keeper and merchant, Lindsay Hogue, and Dr. Samuel Martin.
     The modern period, from 1860 down to the present day, produced many men who achieved prominence in the county, and some of them State, and even national, fame.  Among the latter were Hon. James J. Winans, judge and congressman, and Hon. John Little, attorney general of the State, congressman and Commissioner of Venezula Claims.  John Little's name will ever be memorable to all of this generation as that of a man of strong intellect, of kind and generous disposition, a very able lawyer, and a man whose natural tastes led him to pursue successfully many mechanical and manufacturing enterprises, to the great benefit of the community.  In political affairs he was widely known, and his judgment was so highly respected that he was frequently called into counsel by governors of the State and presidents of the United States.

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     With these men were associated such men as Captain Austin McDowell, E. F. Drake, John F. Patton, Col. John W. Lowe (the first Ohio line officer who fell in the War of the Rebellion), Erastus S. Nichols, Col. Robert Stevenson, Dr. C. H. Spahr, Col. Coates Kinney, John F. Frazer, Dr. John W. Greene, W. B. Fairchild, Joseph W. King, Thomas P. Townsley, Roswell F. Howard, Judge Moses Harlow, Captain Albert Calloway, Benoni Nesbitt, John B. Allen, Isaac M. Barrett, Dr. George Watt, Brinton Baker, David and Eli Milien, James C. McMillan, Aniel Rodgers, Alfred Johnson, and many others, some of whom survive to this day.
     These, briefly, are the men who, with many others who might properly have been mentioned, have made Greene County.  In discharging the common-place duties of life they have builded a civilization which will endure long after the personality of each has passed from the memory of men.  It is fitting that there should he here recorded in this commemorative book some note of the names of these worthies, at least, "lest we forget."



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