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Van Wert County, Ohio

History & Genealogy

A History of Northwest Ohio
A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress and Development
from the First European Exploration of the Maumee and
Sandusky Valleys and the Adjacent Shores of
Lake Erie, down to the Present Time
By Nevin O. Winter, Litt. D.
Assisted by a Board of Advisory and Contributing Editors
Vol. I & II
The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York

Chapter IX
York Township
Organization - First Settlers -
An Early Election - Some of the Original Land Entries -
Jonestown - Incidents of Pioneer Life - Pioneer Recollections.
Pg. 160

     York township was set off as a civil township at a meeting of the board of County Commissioners held at Van Wert, June 3, 1837, and the qualified electors were ordered to meet at the house of Sylvester R. Woolery on the 15th of June for the purpose of electing township officers.


     John Arnold was one of the earlier settlers in York township, having settled south of Venedocia in 1836 on what is now known as the Alban farm.  Among the early settlers at that time were Lewis Culver, Asa Culver, John Keith, Joshua Goodwin, Jacob Goodwin, David Walters, William Morman, Leonard Varner, John Powers, James Wilson, Sylvester R. Woolery, Samuel Moore, Robert Thomas, Furman Jackson, John Heath (father of William Heath), John Bevington, John McCollum, Evan B. Jones, Joshua Bridenstein and George Reece.
     Edward Smith
came from Champaign county in 1838.  He served in Company M, Second Indian Heavy Artillery, during the War of the Rebellion.  Robert Thomas came to Van Wert County in 1836.  Jesse Atkinson was one of the early settlers, coming here in 1836.  He was one of the first county commissioners.
     John M. Jackson was born in Madison County, Feb. 2, 1835, and came with his parents to this country in 1836.  His father was a chair-maker and found sale for his product at Fort Wayne, where he took his chairs on rafts.  John Bevington was born Sept. 22, 1807, came to this county in 1832 and died July 19, 1841.  He had seven children.
     John F. Baxter came to this county with his parents ( Thomas and Nancy Baxter) in 1848.  On July 21, 1862, at the age of 18, he enlisted in Company A, 52nd Reg., Ohio Vol. Inf., and served until the close of the war, being mustered out June 17, 1865.  Alexander  W. Brown was born Dec. 26, 1826.  In 1846 he came to York township, where he spent the rest of his life in farming.
     John Heath became a resident of Mercer County at an early day.  His son, William Heath, was born while his parents were occupying an Indian camp in Mercer County.  William Heath is a resident of York township at a good old age and lives on some land that his father entered in 1835.
     About 1840 to 1847 the families of John Rich, Jesse Tomlinson, Daniel Burris, Jacob Miller, Levi Rowland, Thomas Broadnix,

[pg. 161 - 162]
 Samuel Curl, John W. Conn, Andrew Putnam, Jonas Harp, William Carter, Jesse Clark, Jesse Atkinson, Conrad Hunstead and John Houtser came to York township.
     The first grist-mill was a horse-power mill on the north bank of Jennings Prairie, and was owned by Mr. Clark.  It was afterward removed by Lewis Culver and remodeled.  The second one was built by William Bebb near Venedocia.  The first gunsmith was John Heath.  The first couple married were Lewis Tomlinson and Rachel Boroff.  The first school house was built on the land of Jesse Atkinson.


     At the election for State and county officers held Oct. 18, 1840, the number of qualified electors was 23; their names were as follows:  Francis Elliott, Robert Thomas, John McCollum, David Walters, Jesse Atkinson, John Arnold, Joshua Goodwin, Joseph Clark, Jacob Ross, Jacob Miller, Joseph Moore, James Walters, William Marrs, John Heath, Lewis Culver, Josiah Clink, Jesse Tomlinson, John Keith, Tobias Moore, Joshua Bridenstein, William Morman, Adam Wolford and Sylvester R. Woolery.  The judges of election were John Arnold, Sylvester R. Woolery and Joshua Goodwin.  The vote is shown on a preceding page, in Chapter V.


Sec. Name Acres. Year.
1 James McCray 163 1836
1 John Zimmerman 173 1836
1 John Weikart 160 1836
1 Alex. Cheevers 80 1836
1 Michael Todd 80 1836
2 Michael Yoakman 87 1836
2 Fred Cary 87 1836
2 James H. Young 160 1836
2 Andrew Foster 160 1836
2 H. D. V. Williams 174 1841
3 Daniel Canfield 80 1836
3 John F. Edgar 334 1836
3 Robert Edgar 254 1836
4 Samuel D. Edgar 334 1836
4 James Donaldson 334 1836
5 Henry Zimmerman 174 1836
5 John Gongway 160 1836
5 John M. Donaldson 40 1836
5 Alex. Biddle 174 1836
6 Samuel Painter 332 1836
6 Joseph Nofzgar 348 1836
7 Andrew Cochel 80 1836
7 Theo. B. Thomas 80 1836
7 Levi Rowland 328 1836
7 James Casteel 124 1837
7 Evan B. Jones 41 1839
8 Evan B. Jones 120 1836
8 John Weikart 40 1836
8 James G. Donaldson 320 1836
8 Alex. Biddle 160 1836
9 Evan B. Jones 560 1836
9 A. Cochel & H. Tolerton 80 1836
10 James Hooper 320 1836
10 Samuel Francher 160 1836
10 Peter Bevelthymer 160 1836
11 James M. Young 160 1836
11 Andrew Foster 80 1836
11 David Cook 160 1836
11 George McMarrian 80 1836
12 Robert Lisle 640 1835
13 Lewis Culver 200 1833
13 William Morman 240 1835
13 John Arnold 120 1836
13 John L. Harter 80 1837
14 Benjamin Strothers 320 1836
14 Samuel Stiles 160 1836
14 James Walters 40 1836
14 Christian Woods 80 1837
14 Philip scrock 40 1839
15 Andrew Cochel 160 1836
15 Daniel Arnold 160 1836
15 Joseph Saint 240 1836
15 James Wilson 40 1839
15 John Williberg 40 1841
16 Robert McQuoron 80 1839
16 George Clouse 80 1839
16 Jacob Dibert 80 1839
16 Francis Feltus 80 1839
16 F. C. Elson 80 1839
16 Robert Wolcott 80 1839
17 Evan B. Jones 320 1836
17 John M. Donaldson 160 1836
17 Hugh Lynn 160 1836
18 Evan B. Jones 361 1836
18 Henry Newman 165 1836
18 Josiah Casteel 40 1836
18 James Ross 82 1836
19 Henry Newman 165 1836
19 George B. Ellis 246 1838
19 John Hughes 80 1838
19 James Clingan 160 1839
20 John Heath 80 1836
20 Andrew Coil 120 1836
20 Joseph Heath 40 1836
20 George Reece 80 1836
20 Henry Newman 160 1836
20 James Lavin 160 1836
21 John Towns 200 1836
21 Robert Thomas 40 1836
21 Thomas Towns 40 1836
21 James Lavin 40 1837
21 John Powers 80 1838
Sec. Name Acres Year
21 Tobias Moore 80 1839
21 John Cunningham 40 1839
21 George Knox 80 1839
22 Reuben Waites 80 1836
22 William McClure 40 1836
22 Levi Saint 240 1836
22 William Lynn 40 1836
22 Mary E. Reed 80 1839
23 Levi Culver 80 1836
23 Samuel Stiles 40 1836
23 Alex. McVickers 120 1836
23 John A. Freeman 160 1836
23 Lantz Shannon 160 1836
23 James Mitchell 80 1836
24 Washington Mark 320 1832
24 Wesley Rush 200 1833
24 Ebenezer Culver 80 1834
24 Lewis Culver 40 1834
25 Washington Mark 120 1832
25 John Keith 240 1832
25 Jacob Goodwin 40 1837
25 John Keith 80 1838
25 Isaac Miles 80 1838
25 Edward Williams 40 1839
25 Jacob Goodwin 40 1851
26 Samuel McClain 320 1836
26 John Smith 320 1836
27 William McClain 480 1836
27 Samuel McClain 160 1836
28 Robert Thomas 80 1835
28 Samuel Moore 120 1836
28 Jesse Miller 40 1836
28 Sylvester R. Woolery 80 1836
28 John Towns 40 1836
28 Joshua Bridenstein 160 1836
28 Daniel Barris 40 1837
28 Jesse Atkinson 40 1835
28 John Cost 40 1846
29 Jesse Atkinson 80 1836
29 Sylvester R. Woolery 80 1836
29 John McCollum 40 1836
29 John Sherwood 240 1836
29 Henry Newman 160 1836
29 C. Elliott 40 1839
30 John Stacts 167 1836
30 Abram Rankin 160 1836
30 Wesley Miner 160 1836
30 Eli M. Deniston 83 1837
30 George M. Ells 83 1837
31 Jesse Tomlinson 80 1834
31 John Heath 242 1835
31 John Sheets 246 1835
31 Francis Elliott 82 1838
32 John Tomlinson 160 1835
32 John Atkinson 120 1835
32 John McNeil 80 1836
32 Furman, Jackson 40 1836
32 J. W. Morton 80 1836
32 William Carder 40 1837
32 John Ross 40 1837
32 John McCollum 40 1839
32 Elizabeth Bevington 40 1851
33 James Mark 240 1833
33 Sarah Mark 40 1834
33 Thomas Hughes 160 1849
33 L. Bawe 80 1849
33 John Griffith 80 1850
33 John Morris 40 1850
34 Lucinda Mark 80 1833
34 James Mark 120 1833
34 Matilda Mark 40 1835
34 George Vanemon 120 1836
34 William Lake 120 1836
34 A. McClung 40 1837
34 John House 80 1838
34 Washington Mark 40 1839
35 Robert Leslie 320 1835
35 Jonathan Vanemon 160 1835
35 James Edgar 160 1836
36 William Marrs, Jr. 240 1835
36 Robert Stram 80 1836
36 William Farris 320 1836


Or Tokio, as the postoffice is called, is a

[pg. 163]
small village on the "Clover Leaf" Railroad, located in a good farming section.


     Samuel Arnold, of Ridge township, a son of John Arnold, says that the wolves were plenty at that time and he recollects that one night, after they had butchered, they were cutting up the hogs within  a couple rods of the house when the wolves came close up to where the men were working and howled and he was afraid to go to the house which was only two rods away.  He says Clarissa Gleason was his first school teacher - that was in 1839 or 1840 - and that he has a card of merit that she gave him, which is in her own handwriting.
     A short time after Levi Rowland settled in York township he had a dream that in crossing the prairie he had been attacked by a wolf.  The next day he started out to hunt his cows.  Hearing the bell on the opposite side of the prairie he had been attacked by a wolf.  The next day he started out to hunt his cows. Hearing the bell on the prairie, he had gone a short distance, when he recalled his dream.  Going back to the woods he cut a heavy hickory club and started out in the tall grass after the cows.  He had gone but a short distance when he came upon a large wolf that showed fight, which Mr. Rowland killed with his club.  He always felt that the dream had been sent as a warning.
     In 1840 the Bickfords settled in York township.  They had provided themselves with two barriels of flour and other provisions in proportion.  Frank says that if it had not been for what they brought with them they would have starved.  Their nearest neighbors, with the exception of one family, were three miles  distant.  After they had been here some time, the boys became very tired of salt meat  One evening Levi Rowland came to their house with a saddle of venison on his shoulder, and told Mr. Bickford that he had put the forequarters in the fork of a tree, and that if the latter would go and get it he might have it.  But Mr. Bickford was no woodsman and, being afraid that he might get off the trail, would not venture.  But Frank and his brother Will wanted some fresh meat and said they would go.  Frank was 8 and Will wa 12.  They took a butcher knife and found the venison.  Each cut a shoulder and started for home.  It was then past sundown.  They had gone but a short distance when they heard the wolves coming.  They did some "tall" running and the wolves followed them almost to the door, but they saved the venison.

By J. B. Brodnix.

     So far as history of York township in the early days is concerned, there is but little of it speaking after the manner of men.  There was not much in the township except primeval forests filled with bear, wolves, deer, raccoons, porcupines, wild cats, catamounts, etc.
     My father was born and raised in the City of Brotherly Love."  In 1836 with his family he left Philadelphia for Dayton, Ohio, crossing the Alleghany Mountains in a Virginia schooner, drawn by a team of mules, and proceeding from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati on a boat on the Ohio River.  From Cincinnati to Dayton, and from there to Yellow Springs in Greene County, the journey was made in wagons, finally going from Yellow Springs to the Long Prairie in York township, Van Wert County, in 1839.  The family lived in a pole pen on the farm of Evan B. Jones, while a log cabin on the east half of the southwest quarter of section 3, York township, was being built. 
     When we were unloaded on the Long Prairie, father and mother both cried and offered the man that moved them all that they

[pg. 164]
had - $25 - to take them back to Dayton where he lived.  This the man refused to do on account of the terrible roads.
     With the assistance of neighbors living 10 miles away, my father built a log cabin 18 feet square in a dense forest, without a road to any place.  The nearest neighbors was two and a half miles away; David W. McCoy and Daniel Beard, three miles; Evan B. Jones, three miles; Levi Rowland, four miles; John Arnold and Leonard Varner, three and a half miles each.  There was a village of Wyandot Indians on the Little Auglaize a mile and a quarter from us.  they were very kind and hospitable.
     In December 23 moved into the log cabins, half of it floored with puncheons and with a bed quilt serving for a door.  There was a fireplace five by seven feet in dimensions, a mudback wall and a stick chimney.  When night would come, the wolves would approach the house and scratch and howl until we could hear nothing else.  For 10 years between the months of November and February, from sunset until sunrise, nothing could be heard except the howling of the wolves and the hooting of the owls.
     If men and women had had the same kind of religion then that they have now, my father and mother and their family would have starved.  But in those days all things that men had were in common.  No one said that aught that he had was his own.  While one had a peck of corn meal or a pound of pork, all had.
     At Piqua was a nearest mill.  Many a bushel of corn we pounded on an oak block with an iron wedge and made it into a dodger or mush and ate it with a chunk of venison or pork.  Then Aaron Hipshire got a two-burr hand-mill and two horses could grind a bushel an hour.  That was good.  In 1844 Daniel Walters built a little water-mill where Venedocia now stands, the then outlet of the Coil Prairie.  that was fine.  He could grind wheat, but one had to bolt it by hand.
     As for schools, there was not one in the township until 1843, and then only one for the whole township.  In 1839 the heads of the families in the township were Levi Rowland, Evan B. Jones, John McCollum, John Heath, Jesse Tomlinson, R. Rosss, Leonard Varner, George Wooten, Robert Thomas, Benjamin Griffin, Lewis Culver, John Arnold, W. H. Peasely and John W. Conn.  Daniel Bickford came in 1840.  Many and trying were the hardships in those days, much harder for us than for others.  Father was a French Huguenot and had never done a day's work; mother was Scotch and was also raised in the city.  Many were the sacks of meal and chunks of pork and other things given us by David W. McCoy, Daniel Beard, Thomas Pollock and others.  Never were there truer, braver and kinder men settled in a county than the early settlers of Van Wert county.  In the early history of the county they were bound together as one man.  Above all, religion was supreme; there was preaching in the little log cabins, but no religious discussion.  A calico dress and sun-bonnet, was the finest apparel for a woman; a linsey wammus and a coonskin cap for a man.  There was more genuine heartfelt religion at one of those old pioneer meetings than there is in a whole year now.  People would go for miles to attend meeting, frequently taking a sack of jerk, a chunk of pork and some meal and staying two and three days.  They would sing and pray and shout - I can hear them yet singing.  "Sing on, pray on, we are gaining."  "O Hallelujah! the power of the Lord is coming down.  O Hallelujah!  If we had more old-time religion today we would be a happier people.
     In those days hunting and fishing were the

[pg. 165]
chief pursuits of life for game and fish were abundant.  To raise a crop some member of the family had to stand guard from sowing to gathering, or the deer, coons, squirrels, turkeys and birds would get it all.  But when such men as the Gillilands, Hills, Stacys, Kings, Ramseys, McCoys, Beards, DeCamps, Pollocks and their wives and many others that space will not permit me to name settle a country, it must prosper.  As far as I know, the heads of those families of 1839 are all gone to their rewards.  Some of their children, like myself, are yet lingering on the brink.  Nearly if not all, like myself, have reached their three score and ten.  It is no more the scenes of our boyhood - I am led to say, "Backward, turn backward, O time in thy flight, make me a boy again just for tonight."  With all the hardships, many and dear are the fond recollections of those days.
     The great majority of my early associates have crossed the mystic river, a few are waiting to join the mighty throng on the other shore.  Time and space would fail me to tell the many thrilling incidents that occurred in the days when this region was being reclaimed.





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