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Washington County, Ohio
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History of Belpre, Washington Co., Ohio
By C. E. Dickinson, D. D.
Formerly Pastor of Congregational Church
Author of the History of First Congregational Church
Marietta, Ohio
Published for the Author by
Globe Printing & Binding Company
Parkersburg, West Virginia


Page 104

     THE scenes of active operations during the war of 1812 were a considerable distance away and as we have seen only a few men from this vicinity were drafted into service so that the war itself had only a slight effect on the business of Belpre.  From what has already been stated we may infer that the sale of a considerable number of oxen to the government must have been of some advantage to the farmers.  At the close of the war (1815) most of the arable lands had been cleared of forest trees and prepared for cultivation, and the farms were well stocked with domestic animals.  Soon after this considerable attention was paid to dairying and we have found the statement that about 1825, Belpre Cheese was as well known in the towns down the river as "Western Reserve" and "New York Cream" were in later years.
     Mention has already been made of the introduction of sheep, and, quite early, wool became a staple product.  At one time fine Merino wool was sold for a dollar a pound. Sheep are very timid, with very little ability to defend themselves, and nearly all wild animals are their enemies.  During those years the farmers lost many sheep through the depredations of these animals, especially wolves, which were quite abundant in the surrounding forests.  Quite large bounties were given by the State for the killing of wolves and in some cases these were considerably in- creased by the authorities of the townships.  In 1821 an extensive circus (Wolf) hunt was inaugurated which may be understood by the following call issued in a Marietta paper at the time :
     "Notice is hereby given that there is to  be a circus hunt on the head waters of the big and little west branches of Little Hocking on Thursday Feb. 8th, 1821.  It is to be hoped that all those who feel able to perform the march of four or five miles, both men and boys, will appear on the ground on Wednesday, Feb. 7th, prepared to camp out for the night.  The inhabitants of Warren, Belpre, and De-

now owned by C. L. McPherson


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catur will assemble at or near Mr. Halls, on the Watertown road.  Those of Wesley, Barlow, etc. will form the north line from John Smiths, west to the road leading from the Ohio to Federal Creek, so as to intersect the said road about six miles from the Ohio.  Those of Newbury will form on said Federal Creek road.  It is expected that all who have horns or conch shells will bring them.  No dogs to be brought on the ground.  As it is the express object of this hunt to kill wolves and panthers it is hoped that those who cannot refrain from killing deer will leave their guns at home.

     WALTER CURTIS, Newbury
     AMOS DUNHAM, Warren
     THADEUS POND, Barlow
     MILLER CLARK, Belpre
     O. R. LORING, Belpre
     W. P. PUTNAM, Belpre
     JOHN STONE, Belpre

     It appears from this list that Belpre farmers had a large interest in this hunt.  Later accounts report that this hunt was a failure on account of a lack of system in the arrangements.  Wolves, bears and panthers were seen in various places but none were killed.  In 1823 twenty-four sheep were killed in Belpre which indicates the danger of the flocks from these animals.  In some cases larger bounties were offered for the scalps of wolves that there might be larger incentive to hunt them, for wolves had no value for food like deer and bears.  Through these bounties and a diligent war by the farmers these pests were finally exterminated.
     Mention has been made in a previous chapter of the introduction of improved breeds of stock by the pioneers, and these efforts were continued both to improve the cattle and to introduce the best methods of farming.  This may be learned from premiums given at the first Annual Fair of the Washington County Agricultural Society in 1826.
     John Stone Second best Merino Ram $1.00; John Stone Best Cow $10.00; George Dana Second largest Hog,

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$1.00; John Stone for the largest crop of Corn, one Winans patent plow $10.00.
     This was probably an iron plow as these were introduced about that time to succeed the clumsy wooden implements previously used.  In the Fairs of subsequent years Belpre farmers secured their proportion of premiums.
     From that time to the present improved farming utensils have been introduced nearly every year.  With these improvements one man can easily accomplish as much as could be done by two or three of the pioneers a century ago.
     During the years previous to the construction of Rail roads there was considerable travel between the Ohio Valley and the Atlantic States by Stage Coaches, through Pennsylvania and Virginia and certain kinds of freight was transported in wagons but the principal means of transportation was on the rivers.  Flat boats, built here, were loaded with the products of the farms and forests, and floated down the rivers often as far as New Orleans.  In 1823 Captain Daniel Greene took two flat boats loaded with flour from Marietta to New Orleans in twenty-two days, which was at that time considered a quick trip.
     Lumber was much more abundant here than at New Orleans, and, owing to the difficulty of pushing the boats against the current, they were usually sold there. At that time flat boats carried flour, corn, butter, cheese, apples, lumber, and peach brandy which was then considered by most of the people as legitimate an article of traffic as the peaches from which it was made.
     In Dr. S. P. Hildreths history given in previous chapters we find mention of the scarcity of salt during the early years and also an account of the discovery of a salt spring in the Scioto valley by a company of Belpre men.  During a considerable number of years most of the salt used in this part of the State was made from the water of that and neighboring springs.
     An article appeared in a local paper in 1819 by a person under the name "Fair Play" in which it was stated that certain persons had purchased the complete output of the Kanawha Mills and raised the price of salt to two dollars per bushel" and the writer asks the "General As-

[Pg. 107]
sembly of the State to interfere and protect the public against there ''pests of society,"  From this statement we learn that the selfish greed of monopolists was known here almost a century ago and not inappropriately named by that writer. 
     It is also interesting to be able to record that the discovery of another spring in the Muskingum valley about that time, and the establishment of a mill there prevented these "pests of society" from enjoying their monopoly for any considerable time.


     Quite early in the history of Belpre some of the farmers turned their attention to the raising of stock. Sheep, as already stated were raised for their wool, and horned cattle for market.  Some were butchered and the meat sold to river boats, and others were taken on the boats to towns farther down the river.  During the first four decades of the nineteenth century many cattle were taken in droves through Virginia and over the mountains to eastern Maryland and Pennsylvania.
     As a result of our excellent railroad systems, fat cattle can be loaded on cars at Belpre and within forty-eight hours be offered in the markets of Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, as prime beef.  In the early years before the era of Railroads, four or five weeks were required to take a drove of cattle to these eastern markets including many vicissitudes and dangers of loss, and when they arrived at their destination several weeks of refattening were necessary before they would produce "prime beef."  During the journey cattle must be fed each day, some time on farms at considerable expense, at other times they could feed on unoccupied land or brouse in the forest, but then they were liable to eat poison plants which would cause sickness and some times death.  A few extracts from the Diary kept by Judge Ephraim Cutler on such a journey will reveal to us the experiences of those days.
     Tuesday July 25, 1809—Started with eighty-six head of cattle and crossed the Ohio six miles from Marietta, and drove on to Charles Ferrys place.
     July .5—Drove to Hushers, twenty-six miles.

[Pg. 108]
     July 27—Lost twenty head of cattle in the woods.  Drive the remainder to Websters where my drove joins that of Browning and Dana (two Belpre men) and goes on.  Buy two steers of Husher for thirty two dollars.  Return after the lost cattle find eighteen head and get them to Websters.
     July 28—Still hunt but without success, for the two missing steers; then go on to Nathan Davis, with the eighteen head.
     July 29—Drive to within three miles of Clarksburg.  Find on the way a steer which Charles, who went on with the drove had lost.
     July 30—One of my oxen very sick from eating laurel, leave him and start on.  Soon another very sick, and leave him at Copelands.  A little beyond Simpsons Creek I lose again the whole of my cattle (in the underbrush) and hunt for them till sunset when I find sixteen and soon after the other one.  Stay all night at Devols.  A merry old fellow.
     July 31—At Plummer's, find another sick steer and leave him at Johnsons.  Go on to Gauleys where I overtake the drove.
     Aug 1—Drive to Thomas, on Cheat river, and leave a sick steer.
     Aug. 2.—Drive to Johnson's on Big Yough.
     Aug. 3.—Another steer sick. Divide our cattle (from Brownings and Dana's) and drive to the Glades, near Hamils.
     Aug. 4—Discharge two hands.  After salting the cattle leave them in pasture in Charles' care and go on to Westernport and stay all night at Davis.  The drove continued their way with similar experiences and reached Hagarstown, Maryland,
     Aug. 20th and York Pennsylvania Sept. 1st. 
     Cattle were sold a few at a time in the various towns as they passed.  In some cases the sick steers left behind recovered and were found on the drivers return, in other cases they died or disappeared.  Such trips were not very lucrative but a small profit usually remained and the avails

[Pg. 109]
were expended in another drove, and the farmers were encouraged to improve and increase their herds.  The Little Hocking river, or creek, is only a small stream but in its wanderings in the north west part of Belpre township a considerable number of bridges are necessary in order to render efficient our system of highways.
     The crossing near the mouth of the stream is a difficult one to maintain because so much affected by the conditions of the Ohio river.  The following account of this crossing is found in Williams History of Washington County:
     "During the early years the Little Hocking was forded near its mouth.  This was very inconvenient and dangerous, and impossible in high water.  In 1804 the citizens of Belpre appointed Dr. Leonard Jewett, Truman Guthrie, and Benjamin Miles a committee to petition the County Commissioners for a grant of $300 to assist in building a bridge.  The money was granted and the bridge built, but the timbers used were too heavy and the strength was impaired to such an extent that it became unsafe.  There was a commonly received story that the last crossing was made by a drove of cattle on the run."  Mrs. Laura Curtis Preston in her history of Newbury says: "After the abandonment of the bridge a ferry was operated for many years by Reuben Allen.  Still later a toll bridge was built and used for a number of years.  This was wrecked by the flood of 1884.  After this the present iron bridge was built, located higher up the stream than the old bridge.  Some of the timbers of the old bridge rested on the large stone to which George Washington referred in his journal of a journey down the Ohio.  The places cut in the stone for the timbers are still visible.  One pier of the toll bridge also rested on this stone which should be called Washington's Rock."
     The moving of a large building was an important episode in the monotonous life of a rural community in early days, and an account of it is worthy of a place in this history.

[Pg. 110]


     The large frame house on the Stone farm just west of the village was built in 1799 and is the oldest house now standing in Belpre.  This and the Putnam house built one year later (1800) are good examples of the better farm houses of New England at the time of the Revolution.  The dimensions of the house are 30 x 40 feet it is two stories high with eight large rooms and two spacious halls.  At the time it was built there were no machines to furnish lumber ready dressed, with frames, doors and sash, prepared to put in place.  The frame consisted of heavy timbers hewed, framed, and mortised by hand and held together by strong wooden pins.  The siding was hand planed, the shingles hand shaved, and nails hand made.  Originally there were large fire places, one large enough to hold a log eight feet long.   These have been superseded by other appliances for heating but the old sash are retained and the light still shines through panes of glass eight by ten inches.  The old brick oven is no longer used but is still in place.  This house was built on the river bank near the site of the old fort, but on account of the liberties the Ohio River sometimes took of entering uninvited and extending the calls beyond courteous limits, Col. Jack (John) Stone (son of Jonathan) though it wise to place the house on higher ground, and this was accomplished by what was known as a "moving- bee' one of the ways in which neighbors manifested their mutual helpfulness.  The method employed is not very much in use at the present time but was the best then available in a country town.  Two or three long timbers were secured, hewed on top but on the bottom left in the natural state these were securely fastened under the sills and extended a few feet beyond the building.  To the end of each of these runners was attached a long row of oxen fastened to the house and to each other: rollers were usually placed under the runners to facilitate the movement.  In this case about fifty yokes of oxen were used brought together from Washington County, Wood County, Virginia, and a few from Morgan County, Ohio.  This event occurred in June, 1825 and was a gala day long remembered in Belpre the wives of the farmers came with their husbands and furnished a bountiful picnic dinner.  This work was all accomplished in one day, the house was moved about

[Pg. 111]
four hundred yards, and reached the place prepared for it about sunset.  When the work was accomplished such a shout arose as it seldom heard.  The old house still stands and is occupied by descendants of the builder.
     From experience at similar movings the writer would venture the opinion that several blacksmiths in the vicinity had applications to mend log chains soon after this event.
     A war between the United States and Mexico commenced in 1816, under the administration of James K. Polk, and continued nearly two years.  This war was caused by events that occurred in connection with the annexation of Texas as a part of the United States and its enrollment as our thirty-first state.  The contest between the North and South on the subject of slavery was even then becoming bitter, and Southern politicians desired Texas as an additional slave state, and also to increase their power by securing additional territory from Mexico.  The resistance by Mexico to these efforts led to the war.  This was opposed by most of the people in the northern states and only a comparatively small number of soldiers enlisted from these states.  We have found little evidence of interest in this war by the Belpre people. One young man, Andrew Colville. enlisted, and perhaps some others. Colonel Charles H. Brough, a brother of Ohio's celebrated war Governor, born in Belpre. was in command of the Fourth U. S. Regiment during the war.  By a comparison of dates we find that the Kidnapping case described in the following chapter occurred while the questions which led to this war were under discussion throughout the country.  This will help explain why the war did not receive a hearty support in Belpre.  The "Irrepressible Conflict" had already commenced and thoughtful men already were beginning to see that a "country could not very long continue part free and part slave." 
     The frames of nearly all buildings erected during this period were made of heavy hewn timbers, and the raisings of these frames were occasions for the gathering of a large number of men for a "raising bee."  When a "bent" of timbers at one end of the building had been raised to its place and temporarily secured, one or two sprightly and level headed young men mounted it and fastened the timbers between this and the next bent with strong wooden

[Pg. 112]
pins.  This process was continued until all the bents were securely fastened together.  Then the young men mounted the ridge pole and pinned to it the rafters.  There were usually only a few young men with nerves sufficiently steady to do this part of the work.  On such occasions "refreshments" were usually served often quite freely, and if these were passed too early in the day it was sometime difficult to get the last part of the work done properly.


     In the early years of the nineteenth century the use of intoxicating liquors in some form was very common among all classes of people in our country.  In the description of social gatherings at that time the mention of refreshments usually included alcoholic beverages.  We have learned that the settlers in Belpre were characterized by “religion and morality” and these characteristics were perpetuated by their descendants. Dr. Benjamin Rush published his “Enquiry into the Effects of Ardent Spirits upon the Human System” in 1785.  This may be called the beginning of the modern temperance movement.
     During the next forty years the work was mostly sporadic and individual.  In 1825 “The American Society for the Promotion of Temperance” was organized and about that time the attention of good people in Belpre was called to the subject.  Though in earlier years Peach Brandy had been distilled here some of the people were ready to consider and adopt this movement.  We are informed by Mrs. Laura Curtis Preston, in her “History of Newbury” that “Mr. Erastus Guthrie was the first man in Washington County to refuse to furnish Whisky in the harvest field; his neighbors thought him presumptuous, and that he could not secure men to work without it, but he had enough of his mothers Huguenot blood to persist in what he thought was right and to carry out his determined policy.”  We find also the names of the following gentlemen who adopted a similar practice about the same time.  Daniel Goss, Perley and William P. Howe, George Dana, Sen and O. R. Loring, and there is reason to conclude that others were equally prompt in this work.  What is known in this country as the “Wasingtonian Temperance Movement” commenced about 1840 and resulted in much good, but the people of Belpre



[Pg. 113]
were in the work even earlier than that. It was the custom in earlier years when neighbors gathered for a “Raising Bee” to lubricate them freely with Whisky, but the sentiment of the Christian men in Belpre was so far advanced that when the frame of the Methodist Meeting House in Rockland was raised in 1832 no ardent spirits were provided.  This is said to have been the first frame so raised in Washington County but the work was well done and has remained to the present time and during all these years the worshippers in that building have been among the most zealous and active advocates of total abstinance from all intoxicating liquors.
     In Feb. 1837 under the pastoral leadership of Dr. Addison Kingsbury the Congregational church appointed a committee to consider the propriety of making total abstinance from all intoxicating beverages a requisition for church membership.  November 23 of the same year the church passed the following:  “Resolved, That while this church deems it inexpedient to require total abstinance from ardent spirits as a condition of membership we express our deep conviction of the duty of every member to abstain entirely from the use of all such liquors as a beverage.
     Resolved, Further, that the above resolution together with the rules in practice be read in our church meetings once in six months.”  At a meeting Feb. 12, 1845 the church discussed the question of using only unfermented grape juice at the sacrament of the Lords Supper.  We have not found when this decision was made by vote, but only unfermented wine has been used for many years.  We have reason to think the members of the Universalist and Methodist churches were as advanced in practice as their Congregational brethren.  This is more noticeable because that was before the days of prohibition laws or constitutional amendments.  At that time there were many intelligent and influential citizens who advocated a temperate use of alcohol instead of total abstinance, and many eminent divines were not willing to substitute grape juice for wine at the Sacrament.
     In 1842 Dyar Burgess, at the time preaching in the Congregational church wrote.
“But what is more characteristic of Belpre is that they

[Pg. 114]
carry forward the temperance enterprise under the conviction that temperance is the “fruit of the Spirit” and that it is to their honor to come up to “the help of the Lord against the mighty” accordingly their labors are yet unremitted and God smiles upon their endeavors.”
     In a letter written by Mary W. Dana to her sister in 1840 we find the following: “Father is going out to Mr. Goss to help him raise a temperance pole. Don't you think that is doing pretty well.  The people are beginning to be aroused in the cause of temperance, and I consider that I have made a pretty good beginning, for next Monday completes my months abstinance from tea and coffee.”  This would indicate that this young lady and probably others with her had abstained from tea and coffee to aid the temperance cause.
     A few months later the same lady wrote “The people of Belpre are considerably engaged in the cause of temperance and hold monthly meetings; father (George Dana, Sen.) speaks more than any body else, and I tell you he makes the house ring with his voice.  There is a County Temperance Society which will hold a meeting in April.  Father is president of the Society.”
     Major F. H. Loring told the writer that at a meeting in the old brick meeting house when a boy he heard Mr. George Dana say of that early movement: “The people of Belpre took hold of the temperance work with an iron grasp.”
     The following is a copy of a pledge circulated in 1840 by Mary W. Dana and Miss C. Browning.


     We, the undersigned do hereby pledge ourselves to use no intoxicating drinks whatever.  Believing it to be a source of much misery and ruinous to all who make use of it we therefore consider it a deadly poison and are determined to abandon the use of all intoxicating liquors hereafter and forever.  We cordially invite all the young persons of this neighborhood to sign this pledge and strictly live up to all things herein inserted.

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Ladies Column
Mary W. Dana
C. Browning
Sarah Sherman
L. Stone
M. Winchester
Jane Barcley
O. M. Russell
E. Rathbone
Susan Miles
I. Putnam
S. C. Gilbert
E. Ellenwood
A. C. Ames
S. Ball
C. Ball
Gentlemens Column
Charles G. Sargeant
H. Browning
D. B. Linn
David Campbell
John Dana
Josea Jobley
William Hutchinson

     Great credit is due to those who so ably carried forward their work during those early years.  These efforts had an abiding effect for good, not only on the young people then living, but from that time to the present Belpre, both in township and village, has been one of the leading temperance communities in the State.  There has not been a saloon within the limits of the township for a quarter of a century and in all votes on the subject the “Drys” have been about two-thirds of the who





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