Miami County, Ohio Genealogical Researchers -- Sponsored by the Computerized Heritage Association

Home Page | Miami County Page | Resources | Mailing List

Copied from Harbaugh's 1909 History

Miami County Ohio

Chapter 7


Brown; Spring Creek; Staunton; Lost Creek;
Elizabeth; and Bethel;

That part of the county lying east of the Miami and embracing six townships can justly lay claim to the earliest settlement. The whole area was first called Elizabeth Township, but as the county increased in population and a demand was made for smaller divisions, it was cut up into the six townships which form the caption of the present chapter. The early history of these six townships is most interesting. While they contain no large municipalities, no commercial centers, and are known as the "rural townships," they are no less an integral part of the county. I shall not describe them in their priority of settlement and formation, but shall take them up from north to south in their geographical location.


The first settlement in Brown Township was made in 1806 by John Kiser, who was a Virginian. At first he located in the vicinity of Dayton, but leaving his first habitation after a brief sojourn, he moved northward till he entered the forests of Brown Township, where he concluded to build his cabin. His industry enabled him to clear some ground, upon which he put his first crops, and in course of time became one of the foremost farmers of the county. Isaac Kiser, son of this first settler, was the first white child born in Brown Township, and he first saw the light where the village of Fletcher now stands. The Kisers were well calculated to become the first settlers of a county. They came of a hardy stock of people and were men whom no trials could balk and to them Brown Township today owes much of it's prosperity.

In 18O7 John Simmons arrived from Pennsylvania and joined the little colony. He came with ten children to swell scanty population. He built the first double-roomed cabin in the township and for a long time the structure was an object of curiosity among the neighbors. What was more, a porch extended the length of this wonderful house and during the summer the Simmons family dined thereon. Simmons had real glass windows, and this excited the envy of the less fortunate neighbors. His squeaking doors had wooden hinges and wooden catches. These catches were raised from the outside by means of a string and when the family were ready to retire at night they pulled the string inside and considered themselves secure. Of course there was no patent on the Simmons "safety lock."

William Concannon is credited with being the third man who settled in Brown Township. He, too, was an emigrant from the land of Penn. Concannon came in 1807 as did John Adney. Alexander Oliver was added to the township's population in 1808, but he soon grew tired of the location and, being of a roving disposition, he sold out and moved farther west. Everything went well within the limits of the township till the killing of Gerard and the Dilbones not far off, by the Indians, threw the inhabitants into a state of fear. A block-house was built on the Kiser farm in 1812 and became a retreat in time of danger. But the township was not invaded by the enemy and the block-house finally was put to other uses.

In the year 1818 the Munsells were added to the population of Brown Township, then the Malloys came three years later. About the same time John Wolcott and Giles Johnson put up their cabins and Michael Sills exchanged his home in Champaign County for one in Brown Township. It was impossible at this late day to enumerate all those who entered this township at the dawn of its history. Many records of the first settlers have been lost and that, I regret to say, through utter carelessness. Among the first families to inhabit Brown Township were those of William Cox, Edmund Yates, Joseph Jackson, Frederick Gray, Major Manning, John D. Cory, Joseph Shanks, William Manson, John Wilson, William Walkup, David Newcomb, Thomas McClure, Benjamin Sims, and Joseph Rollins, all good men and worthy citizens. Nearly all these families came from the East. They crossed the Alleghanies, taking that well defined trail which led to the valley of the Miami and, pushing on, at length found a resting place in the county. Not one of them, it is said, ever repented his choice of a home.

In 1819 the township was formally organized. At that time it did not contain many inhabitants, but it was thought best to be "somebody in the world," as one of the organizers expresses it, so the township proceeded to elect officers as follows: Trustees-Alexander Olliver, William Walkup, and William Manson; clerk-Joseph Rollins; treasure- Levi Munsell; justice of the peace-John Wilson; supervisors-John Oliver and Daniel Newcomb; lister-Jacob Simmons; fence viewer-Benjamin Sims; house appraiser-Thomas McClure; overseers of the poor-John Simmons and Peter Kiser. This was quite an array of officials for a township, but - doubtless the exigencies of the occasion demanded it, though in later years some of the officers were lopped off and the business of the township delegated to fewer officials.

Brown Township soon became one of the most progressive of the six east of the Miami. Isolated somewhat from the early markets, it had a slow growth for a few years, but it at last overcame these difficulties, until now it is accessible to the best markets in the state. It has for years been favored with shipping facilities by the Pennsylvania lines, which now cross the township from east to west, tapping its two towns, Fletcher and Conover, and affording to the farmer a splendid outlet for his products.

Fletcher is the only incorporated town in Brown Township. John L. Malloy laid it out in 183O. The first store in the village was kept by Samuel Dougherty and a queer store it was. His shelves were laden with every species of merchandise required by his customers. It was a miscellaneous stock, from shoe pegs to liquors, and what Dougherty didn't sell could not be found in any store in the county. Samuel Crane soon appeared as a rival of Dougherty's, probably to prevent him from getting all the money there was in the neighborhood, and later an Isaac Dukemineer put up a brick store and Fletcher put on the airs of a metropolis. The village was named Fletcher in 1814. Today this pretty little village has a population of about 400 and is officered as follows: Mayor-R.E.Berryhill; clerk-W.0.Shreve; treasurer-I.C.Kiser; marshal-W.P.Kiser; council-Joel Carter, Bent Erhart, Daniel Kiser, Barna Ralston, James Gayhart, John Moore; board of education-W.L.Mumford, Joseph Coppock, W.R.Doub, James T. Hartley, Charles Morton.

Fletcher is the home of a progressive public school, several good church edifices, a town hall, and several fraternal societies. It also contains a grain elevator and its shipping facilities are of the best.

Conover is a small lying four miles east of Fletcher Pittsburg, Cincinnati & St.Louis Railway. It was laid out in 1856 and was named for A.G.Conover, one of the surveyors of the county. It contains several stores, shops and a church, the latter of the Universalist order. Its entire population is perhaps 100 souls.

Lena, also in Brown Township, is situated a short distance north of Conover. It was founded in 1830 by Levi Robbins. The town was first called Elizabeth, but the name was afterward substituted for that of Lena, but the postoffice was called Allen's. It is not on the railroad. While it remains but a village, after the rather lengthy period of its existence, it is a bussy little place, containing several stores, good houses and a prosperous lodge of FreeMasons. Brown Township is the banner Democratic township of the county and can always be relied upon to roll up a large majority for that party.


Spring Creek Township, lying west of Brown, is bounded northward by Shelby County, westward by Washington Township and south by Staunton. It contains no incorporated towns, though a large collection of shops and houses within its borders; across the Miami River opposite Piqua has been called East Piqua. There was no more inviting prospect to the early settlers than Spring Creek Township. Well watered and well wooded, it seemed an ideal place for a home, and thither the discriminating emigrants flocked. It was chosen as the permanent abode of the first white settler of the county, John Hilliard who came from New Jersey in 1792. Hilliard first located somewhere in West Virginia, but, not liking the locality, turned his face towards Ohio and after a brief residence in Hamilton County, not far from where Cincinnati now stands, he finally took up land in Spring Creek Township. The latter move he made in 1797.

At that time the whole region embraced by this township was an unbroken forest. Game of every kind roamed wild through the sylvan solitudes and roving bands of Indians sought the region as a hunting ground. About the time of Hilliard's coming, a busy little Frenchman, named Latour, put up a trading store and dickered with the Indians for furs etc. The trader, who was a sort human will-o-the-wisp, did not make his residence permanent, so it was left for Hilliard to become the first permanent white settler in the township. He put up his cabin and cleared the land, bringing up his family in the new home.

John Hilliard's first house was a bark affair, rude and not altogether comfortable. This called for a more substantial home, and one was built from round poles. It was an improvement on the first attempt at house building. The roof of this house was of rude clap-boards and the chimney a most inartistic pile of mud and sticks; the floor was partially covered with puncheon plank, while, in lieu of a door, a large old quilt hung, curtain-like, over the aperture, which answered the purposes of ingress and egress. In this primitive house, if house the structure may be called, the Hilliards made themselves as comfortable as possible. The family was almost entirely shut off from the real comforts of life. The nearest mill for some time was at Dayton, then but a collection of cabins, and the grinding of the grist necessitated a long and toilsome journey through the wilderness. It is believed that the unremitting toil of this pioneer shortened his life, for after a few years of labor he was carried to his grave by his few neighbors who had followed him into the Spring Creek wilderness.

It was one of the most pathetic and strangest funerals in the forests of the Miami. The white mourners were accompanied to the grave by a number of friendly Indians, who gazed with awe upon the burial rites, something entirely new to them. After the burial the Indians collected in little groups and for a while discussed the affair, then stole silently into the forest and disappeared. Not until several years had passed did the Hilliards possess any white neighbors. At last, in 1804, the Dilbones came. This family met with a tragic ending so far as its heads are concerned, Mr.Dilbone and wife being killed by the Indians during the War of 1812, an event narrated in another part of this work. The Dilbones were Pennsylvanians and were an industrious class of people. Mrs.Dilbone was one of the first flax spinners in the county, and she famous for her dexterity in this direction. It will be remembered that the couple were attacked while laboring in a flax field near their humble home.

William Frost left North Carolina in 1805 and settled in Spring Creek Township. He brought with him some of the habits peculiar to the region from which he emigrated. He was fond of hunting, and was celebrated for his skill with the rifle. His son Ebenezer is said to be the second white child born in Spring Creek Township. In the same year that witnessed the coming of the Frosts, John R. McKinney entered the township. McKinney a bachelor, who after a while of living alone and without much effort on the young lady's part, he was captured by Miss Jane Scott. This was probably one of the first matches made in Spring Creek Township and doubtless one of the happiest, for McKinney's log cabin was soon exchanged for a more pretentious house, and the love and skill of his wife made life pleasant for him. From Maryland in 1808 came John Millhouse, and the same year Gardner Bobo cleared some ground for a farm. These settlers were followed by Mathias Scudder, Uriah Blue, James L. McKiniaey, Dennis Lindley and Henry Millhouse. These people settled, not in one locality but scattered out and established themselves in different parts of the township. The better homes of the settlers were to be seen in every direction. They took pride in the building of their homes; they patterned after one another and soon had dwelling places supplied with not a few convenience for the times. A writer speaking of this period of the settlement of Spring Creek Township says:

At this period domesticated animals were quite numerous, especially hogs were raised by the farmers in considerable abundance. The markets being distant and no railroads in the country, the hogs were driven through to Baltimore, Pittsburg and Philadelphia, and much of the way being through miry woods, many weeks were required to make the journey and return. Owing to the fact that fences were not kept up by the early settlers, their stock roamed the woods at large and hogs, especially not being easily distinguished from others of their own kind, became at times mixed with those belonging to a different herd, and in attempting to separate them it was necessary to put an end to numerous disputes which arose over the ownership of the stock.

A system of marking was agreed upon, so that every man had his own mark by which he could distinguish his stock from that of his neighbor, which always bore a different mark from his own. These marks were deposited with the township clerk, so that afterwards all disputes were settled by referring to his book, which contained such declarations as the following: "This is to certify that the marks used by Uriah Blue for the year 1815 will be two slits on the upper side of the right ear." Another reads: "The mark used by Gardnor Bobo for the year 1815 will be a notch cut in the tip of the left ear." This usually settled the matter and from that time no trouble was experienced from this source.

This same system was in vogue in other parts of the county, as the old Clerk's books will show, especially in those divisions which lie east of the river.

During the Indian troubles which grew out of our second war with England one or more block-houses were erected in the township. One was built on the Hilliard farm and in after years was used by the farmer as a barn. The close of the war was followed by added immigration into this locality, which had been checked by hostilities. Samuel Wiley came from Maryland with one of the largest families that emigrated to the county. It consisted of sixteen children, an emphatic declaration that the Wileys were not partial to "race suicide." Following the Wileys came the Kearns, Furrows, Hendershots, Gateses, Webbs, Jaeksons, Floyds, Deweeses and many others whose family names are household words in the township at the present day.

The township was formally instituted in 1814 with the following duly elected officers: Trustees- Heiary Orbison, James L. McKinney, Uriah Blue; clerk- Lewis Deweese; treasurer- David Floyd; constables- John Wilson and Jacob Gates; lister-(assessor)- Jobn Webb. Business was light for the township officials for some years and they had little or nothing to do. However, as the population and general business increased, the needs of the township augmented until now it is regarded as one of the busiest and most important rural divisions of the county.

Spring Creek Township, owing to it's natural water supply, became the site of many of the first mills, grist and otherwise, of the county. These mills werf@ much needed by the people, as the nearest even were miles away and necessitated long journeys, which broke into the daily farm work. James McKinney put up corn-cracker mill on Spring Creek and Silas Manning operated another. A Mr Ross combined a grist-mill with a cardingmill about 1830 and operated it success fully. Samuel Wiley erected the first sawmill on Spring Creek in 1815 and sawed lumber for the first frame houses in the township. His example was followed by Elias Manning and Docter Jackson. Several small distilleries also were erected and their output was either shipped out of the county or consumed within its limits.

Rossville, opposite the northern limits of Piqua, and Shawneetown to the east of the same city, both separated from it by the Great Miami, are the only towns in Spring Creek Township. Neither is incorporated. Rossville dates back to 1840, and Shawneetown was laid out about the same time. Both towns have been overshadowed by the growth of Piqua, of which city they are now suburbs. Spring Creek Township has long been noted for its excellent and well cultivated farms, its graded turnpikes, good country schools, a good class of citizens, intelligent and progressive, and in fact for a thousand and one other things that go toward keeping it in the front rank of township governments.


Staunton Township, the longest of the twelve divisions of the county, extending from the southern line of Spring Creek to the northern boundary of Monroe, has a history peculiarly its own. Its elongated appearance on the county map has brought forth numerous comments, being wide at the top and running wedge like southward till it seems about to dart arrow-like into the domain of Monroe. Its western boundary is very uneven, owing to the windings of the Miami, which separates it from the western part of the county. It has not a cluster of houses which can be called by the name of town, though, if history can be relied upon, it had a narrow escape from becoming the county seat township. The few houses which form what is known as the hamlet of Staunton became the first official habitation of the county, for here the first court was held, in the house of Peter Felix, the trader, and here primitive justice was first dispensed to the evildoers.

Staunton much desired the county seat, but lost out in the deal, and when the seat of justice and otherwise crossed the Miami and was established at Troy, much to the chagrin of Piqua, Staunton henceforth lost much of its importance. Today it has not so much as a recognition on the map. But when one looks back upon the genesis of the county and notes the early struggles that preceded the establishment of the county seat he is prone to give Staunton her just dues. It has been narrated in a previous chapter how the Knoops and other hardy pioneers established themselves at "Dutch Station," which occupied the site of the present hamlet of Staunton. It is not necessary to refer to them here. Besides the initial settlers at Dutch Station there were others who came across the rugged barriers of the mountains and found homes among the forests that stretched eastward from the banks of the Miami. Perhaps the names of some of these men have been lost, but all were worthy members of that advance guard of civilization which made the woods of the Miami blossom like the rose. It is a fairly established fact that the early explorers of this region reached the lands of Staunton. Peter Felix shrewd little Frenchman that he was one of the first white men to settle in Staunton Township and the hard bargains lie drove with the Indians over his counter enabled him to erect at Staunton the first tavern, where he entertained all with the natural eclat of one of his race. Simon Landry was probably contemporaneous with Felix. In 1807 Amariah Smalley put up a blacksmith shop, though he did not shoe many horses till later in life. Levi Martin was another of the Staunton pioneers. His wife was scalped by the Indians and left for dead, but she eventually recovered and lived many years to exhibit to the younger generations the scalp ark on her cranium.

Henry Marshall and John Defrees came into the township in 1806 and lived upon their farms till death claimed them at a green old age. A Virginian, named William McCampbell, entered the township in 1807, and subsequently became one of the first justices of the peace elected in the county. About the same time the Staunton colony was increased by the arrival of Jacob Riddle, William and James Clark. A few years afterward John Gilmore built his house near the Miami, but previously Uriah Blue, Richard Winans, John Julian, and Rev. William Clark had come.

The early pioneers of the township had more than their share of Indian troubles. Situated as many of them were along the banks of the Miami, which afforded abundant waterways for the little canoes of the red prowlers, there were many alarms, some of them fortunately false. A story showing the perils and annoyances to which the Staunton settlers were put is told of the Carver family. At one time when Mr. Carver was hauling wood on a sled, an Indian, well loaded with the white man's "fire water," proceeded to make the woods resound with his heathenish yells. These so frightened Carver's team that it was all the settler could do to restrain his horses. He begged the drunken brave to desist, but as he exhibited no intentions in that direction, Carver proceed to lay him out with a cudgel, whereupon the hilarious red man, upon recovering, betook himself to a less dangerous locality. Quite frequently bands of drunken Indians kept the women and children of Staunton Township in a state of terror, and at times the settlers, when forbearance had ceased to be a virtue, took the law into their own hands and visited the drunken warriors with well merited thrashings.

I cannot refrain from going back to the reminiscent days of Dutch Station. A whole volume might be filled with the story of the men who erected it after casting their fortunes in the Miami wilderness. It has aptly been said, as showing the prominence of this township, that the Dutch Station was the first place of settlement, Staunton was the first town in the county, and the first seat of justice.

Jane Gerard Deweese was the first female white child, and Jacob Knoop the first male white child born in Staunton Township, dating back to 1800. Peter Felix, as I have already said, was a man who could drive a cool, hard bargain. He frequently sold needles to the unsophisticated Indians at one dollar apiece and when the would be purchaser demurred to the price Peter without the semblance of a smile on his bland face would inform his customer that the needle maker was dead and that he (Peter) was offering the last of his stock dirt cheap. This bit of craft generally closed the deal, and the Indian would walk off congratulating himself on the bargain, while Peter's white witnesses of the transaction playfully observed that the needle maker had a knack of dying that was astonishing, not to say commendable.

The full history of Staunton Township, especially that interesting part which comprises its early chapter, in all probability will never be written. Some of this history has been merged into that of other townships. Upon the establishment of the county seat at Troy, Staunton lost some of its prestige, though she still deserves the appellation of "The Mother of the County."

A few years ago Miami Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, marked with a huge boulder the site of the old Dutch Fort at Staunton. This memorial appropriately inscribed is one of several which have been placed within the boundaries of Miami County to mark historic spots. It is said that General Wayne's army passed through a part of Staunton Township in 1794. It was also the scene of several animated scouting expeditions during the War of 1812.

Situated in Staunton Township is the County Infirmary, with the buildings pertaining thereto. The land was purchased by the county in 1838, the buildings erected the following year, and opened for the reception of inmates in 1840. In 1853 a storm demolished the Infirmary buildings, injuring a number of the public charges, but a year later new buildings were ready for occupancy. Since then additional buildings have been added, especially one for the proper care of the insane. Today the Miami County Infirmary is one of the best institutions of the kind in the state and has been well conducted from the first. The inmates are well cared for, the buildings well kept up and the finances of the institution satisfactory managed. The Miami County Infirmary is the largest public institution on the eastern side of the river, the other being the Knoops Children's Home in Elizabeth Township.


There is a tradition to the effect that the term "LostCreek' originated back in the days of the red man. It is asserted, with what degree of truth none can say at this late day, that an Indian once lost his bearings along the stream now called Lost Creek. When accosted by a friendly settler who observed the Indian's state of mind, the brave replied that not only was the Indian lost, but the creek as well, hence the name Lost Creek, which the stream bears to the present day, as well as the township through which it flows. The county commissioners at their session on December 10, 1818 decreed that a certain area bounded on the north by Brown Township, on the south by Elizabeth and on the east by Jackson Township in Champaign County should be called Lost Creek. Prior to this time, in fact as early as 1804, Willis Northcutt and John Rogers had settled within this area. Later General John Webb and Alexander McDowell Sr., two men who had taken part in the War of 1812, entered the township and permanently located there. Some of the early records of Lost Creek have been lost, but enough is known to say that John Lenon, George W. Green, and James Buckles were the first duly elected trustees, and that J. K. McFarland acted as clerk. The first township election was held at the home of George Puterbaugh, near the site of the now demolished Lost Creek Baptist Church. Very few' votes were polled. There was no "log rolling," as now, and the ballots were bits of white paper, the names of the candidates being written in ink. From this first election, almost a century ago, sprang the government of Lost Creek Township. Among the old settlers of Lost Creek Township-not in the order of their arrival, for that is impossible to give-were Elisha Webb, Asa Rogers, Abram Cromer, James Buckles, Timothy Green, James Frazee, George Green, Willis Northcutt, John W. Martin, Willis Hance, Benjamin Hance, Giles Johnson, Allen Ralston, William Babb, Daniel Knoop, John Wilson, William Burton, Thomas Sliidler, Henry Whitmore, William Wallace, Richard Palmer, W.C. Knight, William Saunders, John Lenon, David Archer, Jonathan Yates, Reuben Westfall, John Darst, Thomas Stretch, Joseph Webb, Joseph Layton, James Fordyce, Jonas Sutton, P.H. Knoop, Thomas Long, Barnett Rapp, Samuel McDowell, John Shanks, Levi Martin, Jacob Youtsey, Jonathan Covault, Josiah Martin, Peter Clyde, Levi Trimmens and Andrew Egnew.

These were the men who cleared the Lost Creek forests and opened up that township. They came from various parts of the Union. They made long and perilous journeys to the new homes, and by their perseverance made the woodlands put on new beauty. All were hardy, honest, God-fearing people, who raised large families where they settled. Lost Creek Township is peopled today by many descendants of its first pioneers.

There is nothing exciting in the history of this township. It saw none of the border troubles which during the War of 1812 kept some of the other townships in a state of ferment. The only event of that war which belongs to the township is the march of General Isaac Hull's army on its way to Detroit. Hull came through the Miami wilderness from Dayton and crossed Lost Creek Township. He found a blockhouse near where the George McDowell homestead now stands, and halted there to rest his men. The march from Dayton had told severely on the little army; the men were almost shoeless and on the occasion above referred to the pioneer women of Lost Creek bound up the bleeding feet with blankets and gave of their provisions to refresh the army.

The early enterprises of the township were few. In 1814 John McFarland erected a carding-mill and fulling-mill near where Casstown now stands, and Green and Frazee put up a couple of grist-mills which were badly needed. Gen. John Webb was elected justice of the peace in 18I9 and served many years in that capacity. One of the other early justices was Thomas Shidler, who became a member of the Legislature. General Webb, who lived to a good old age, came from Kentucky. He moved with his parents to Ohio in 1797 and settled first near the site of Dayton. General Webb volunteered in 1813 to take part in the war with England. He was not permitted, however, to see any arduous service, as during the greater part of his enlistment he was stationed at Greenville. He afterwards became a major-general in the Ohio militia and upon the breaking out of the Rebellion in 1861 he drilled a company of Home Guards which afterward went to the front. During the Civil War Lost Creek Township furnished more than two hundred men to the Union armies, and these took part in some of the most desperate conflicts of that war.

CASSTOWN. The only municipality within the boundaries of Lost Creek Township is the village of Casstown. It was laid out in 1832 by Levi Trimmens. It was first called Trimmensburg, but the name not suiting the first inhabitants it was changed to Casstown, being the only postoffice of that name in the United States. Casstown now contains about 300 people. The first brick house erected in the village was built by Daniel Knoop, who for many years engaged in the merchandising business there. The village is four miles east of Troy, on the Springfield, Troy and Piqua Railway. It has several stores, a grain elevator, three churches, an Odd Fellows Lodge, good cement sidewalks, and is quite a business center. Some of its early mayors were John T. Webb, Abram Merritt and Henry Jackson. Others were J.B. Geisinger, Charles P. Young, H.P. McDowell, James M. Stuart, John C. Knoop. The present official roster is as follows: Mayor-W.W. Baker, clerk- F.G. Main; treasurer-Samuel Knoop; marshal-John H.Harbaugh; council- J.W. Fuller, Charles Conner, Alexander Long, Frank Simmons, Thomas Lewis, W.R. Wilgus; board of education-George M. Boak, Joseph Burton, Jesse Davis, Samuel Porter, W.W. Baker. Casstown has a well-graded high school, conducted by F.G. Main as principal and Horace Motter and Miss Pear Main as assistants. In the center of the township lies a collection of houses known locally as Sodom of Pencetown. It has vanced beyond the dignity of a hamlet.


Elizabeth Township is the only one in the county which retains the name originally given to the area, or a part of it, which was first embraced within the county limits. The western part of the county, known as Randolph Township, lost its name when it was broken up into townships. There is no record of settlements in Elizabeth Township prior to 1800, the settlers, seemingly not having penetrated that far eastward.

The states of Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Virginia furnished some of the first white men who came to Elizabeth Township. These were Michael Shidaker, John and Jacob Mann, George Williams, John Flynn, John Gearhart, and the Cecils. They found the forests of Elizabeth unbroken by the work of the settler, and they at once set to work to flood the ground with sunshine and establish themselves on farms. It took a good deal of energy for these men to bring order out of chaos, but they were equal to the emergency. All day long their axes rang in the wildwood, and cabin homes began to appear in every direction. They were installing a little commonwealth of their own. John Shidaker, one of the first settlers, was a shred man. He purchased a whole section of land from the government and walked to Cincinnati to make the payments, carrying his gun on his shoulder. hearing that the Indians or some desperate white man might rob him, he carried his money in his gun. It is stated that he got through safely, completed his transaction and tramped back to his cabin home. Samuel Kyle was another of the early settlers of Elizabeth Township. He was a Pennsylvanian. He was one of the first pioneer preachers of the county, having joined the Christian Church with his parents. He organized the Cove Spring Church in a log schoolhouse that stood on or near the Kyle cemetery. He served as pastor of the church for many years, and at one time was a member of the state Legislature.

In 1813 Robert Sproul came from Ireland and settled near the Cove Spring Church-i. He was a pronounced Presbyterian. Jacob Harter, another of Elizabeth's pioneers, served in the War of 1812 and took part in the siege of. Fort Meigs and the battle of Perrysburg. Harter, while reared in Kentucky, was a native of Virginia. A number of the settlers of this township took part in the war. John Williams and-.d Jacob Mann both bore a captain's commission, and Philip Sailor, William Mitchell, William Shearer and John Shidaker were privates. It is narrated that all these men were fearless and faithful in the discharge of their duties and were a credit to the community which they represented.

For some time after the settling of the township the Pottawatomies gave the whites no little trouble. The Indians, committed no depredations, but they had the habit of lurking around the settlements, frightening the women and children and keeping them always in a state of alarm. The people of the township were greatly relieved when the last Indian took his departure and the frontier saw him no more. With the Indian were the wild animals. Wolves were plentiful in the township, even as late as 1820 and it required the utmost exertions of the settlers to exterminate them. Sheep, which had been early brought into the township, the first flock by the Knoops, were visited by wolves and numbers of them destroyed. The were the ferocious grey wolves and their predatory excursions in packs forced. the settlers to keep large dogs capable of doing battle with the invaders. More, than one desperate conflict took place between wolf and mastiff.

John W. Dye built the first mill in Elizabeth Township. It stood on Lost Creek near the stone house which stands on the John Lefevre farm. It was a wonder of the early days, as it was built in 1813. In order to accommodate the people, a road was built from the Dye mill to Troy, an innovation which was much appreciated., In 1823 Michael Carver put up the second grist-mill, and others followed, Distilleries, saw-mills, turning-lathes,, and other industries followed one another until Elizabeth Township became one of the most progressive of the east side divisions. For years good roads were unknown, but at last came the Troy and Springfield Pike, which runs through, the township from east to west, and other efforts in good road building became successful. Today the township is well supplied with good roads.

ALCONY. Having no incorporated town, Elizabeth Township is in this particular a little behind some of her neighbors. The village of Alcony, or Miami City, as it is sometimes called, is the only settlement within her area. Carr, Hart and Vandeveer laid it out in 1858, and Philip Dick erected the first house. The village has now a population of 200 and lies in a beautiful region. Some years ago a postoffice was established there and the people are now served daily by the rural route System. Alcony has a good church, good pavements, and her people are amoung the most progessive in the county. Elizabeth Township contains the Knoop Children's Home, an account of which will be given in another chapter. In this township are found numerous small cemeteries which mark the last resting place of many of the first settlers. It seems that in the early days families buried their dead on the farms instead of in a general graveyard, and this probably accounts for the many small God's acres. Not a few soldiers of the Revolution are buried in this township. These men, after serving in the Continental army, sought a home beyond the Alleghanies and were laid away among the growing settlements of the Miami country. It would require too much space to enumerate the full history of Elizabeth Township or to record the strides she has made since the coming of her first settlers. The township now has a population of 1,400 and can boast of one of the best country school systems ever devised. This is shown by the class of scholars turned out by the annual examinations.


The southeasternmost division of the county, called Bethel Township, will finish this account of the twelve little commonwealths that make up the body politic of the county proper. The boundaries of Bethel as formed by the county commissioners at their first meeting have never been changed. The first settlement of the township goes back to the life of the Dutch Station at Staunton. One Thomas Stockstill, a Tennesseean, who became disgusted with the system of slavery which prevailed in the South at the close of the eighteenth century, left his father's roof and finally settled in the northeast corner of the township. It was probably the first actual settlement in the county, as it was made in 1790. Stockstill came north as a youth; growing to manhood among the woods of Bethel and lived to become one of the township's most useful citizens. After Stockstill's coming, others, attracted by the beauty of the land in Bethel, erected homes there and opened up the region. Among these were David Morris, Sr., a New Jersey man; Robert and John Crawford, Samuel Morrison, Mordecai Mendenhall, John Ross, Daniel Agenbrood, the Saylors, Puterbaughs, Claytons, Ellises, Studebakers and Newcombs. Some of these people were of the Dunkard persuasion, a class of inhabitants noted for their honesty, good habits and worth. This little colony soon made Bethel Township one of the most desirable in the county, and their presence there induced other immigrants to share their fortunes. They represented several of the original states of the American Union.v

Bethel Township experienced certain hardships which were not visited upon her neighbors. Lost Creek Township suffered during the famous cholera epidemic, but Bethel fell a prey to fever and other diseases, owing to a poor system of drainage in the marshy region in the northeast corner of the township. This state of affairs discouraged some of the most hopeful of the population. There were few doctors those days, and they were of a school not very progressive. Then they were few and far between, and the various diseases spread so rapidly that for a time the mortality was very great. The lance and calomel were the stock in trade of the old physicians and they were ever administered without stint and to the detriment of the sufferers. At one time it looked as though a portion of the township would be depopulated. The few carpenters within the disease belt transformed themselves into undertakers, and night and day they were busy burying the dead. No system of embalming was known. To the credit of the self-constituted undertakers be it said that they refused compensation for their services. At last the low lands were drained, and almost like magic the sickness disappeared, but it had populated many a little cemetery and filled more than one community with mourning.

Besides this strange death sickness, Bethel Township experienced during her early history some trouble with Indians. The savages found excellent lurking places among the hills that are to be found in some parts of the township, and from these they made frequent incursions into the neighboring country. On one of these occasions a young girl named Hacker was overtaken, scalped and left for dead on the ground. She was found in an unconscious condition after the departure of the Indians and conveyed to her home. The victim of the assault not only recovered, but raised a new crop of hair, and also a family. In course of time the Indian demonstrations ceased and the inhabitants of Bethel Township enjoyed a long period of peace.

BRANDT and WEST CHARLESTON are the largest villages in Bethel Township. The former is situated on the famous National Pike and contains about 200 inhabitants. It was founded in 1839. Being some distance from a railroad, it has not made the growth it otherwise would have done. John Dinsmore was the first tavern keeper in Brandt, which place was at one time famous for a plow factory installed by Wilmington and King. When the building of new pikes became one of the features of Bethel Township, the old National Road fell into disuse and much of the former glory of Brandt vanished. It has now several stores, a postoffice, one or more churches, and several nurseries which have more than local significance.

West Charleston is one of the oldest towns in the county and was laid out by Charles Friend in 1807. The town lies on the Troy and Dayton Pike, which road, it is asserted, was originally cut out as a trace by General Wayne. For some years West Charleston maintained considerable importance, but when it eame to be missed by the canal and the railroad, it lost much of its former prestige and developed into a quiet village. Today it contains probably 200 souls. Not far away are found the "Charleston Falls, which of late years have become a summer resort for the contiguous country. The "Falls possess much natural beauty and are contiguous with some of the most interesting legends of Bethel Township. In concluding the history of the townships of Miami County I have been briefer than they deserve. Much could yet be told concerning them. Some of their statistical history will be found in another part of this work. Perhaps in no other county in the, state is there a history so interesting as ours. During the first century of its existence Miami County has made prodigious strides along the highway of progress, and to this glorious consummation may proudly take for its motto the phrase the several townships have worked in unison Eachs township within our borders may proudly take for its motto the phrase "Imperium in imperio."

Copyright © 1998 by Computerized Heritage Association.
All Rights Reserved.