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.
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