Clinton Co., OHGenWeb


Chapter I - Physical Features

[Geographical] - [Topographical] - [Geological] - [The Soils] - [Climatological]

[Return To Beer's Index] - [Chapter II]


The county of Clinton occupies a position in the southwestern portion of the State of Ohio, its county seat, Wilmington, being fifty-six miles by rail northeast of Cincinnati. It is bounded north by Greene and a part of Fayette, east by Fayette, south and southeast by Brown and Highland, and west by Warren. Brown County only intervenes on the south between Clinton and the Ohio River, while on the west it is separated by two counties, Warren and Butler, from the boundary line between Ohio and Indiana. It lies on the dividing ridge between the Little Miami and Scioto Rivers, waters draining from it into both of these streams. The county of Clinton includes an area of 400 square miles.



The topography of this county is greatly diversified. Large areas in the northern and southern portions are included in level and very fertile plains, while along the numerous streams the country is more broken, becoming more or less hilly, and in many places even abrupt and bluffy. The principal waterways are tributaries of the Little Miami River, the greater portion of the drainage of the county being into that stream. The greater of these are Todd's Fork, named previous to 1787, probably from some of the Todds who settled early in Kentucky and were among its prominent pioneers and Indian fighters, flowing west and southwest, and, with its branches, East Fork of Todd's Fork, Cowan's, named for John Cowan, who owned R. Campbell's survey, No. 2249, on that stream, and Lytle's Creek, draining the central portion of the county; Caesar's Creek, said to be named after a favorite servant of some of the early surveyors, who died and was buried on its bank, flowing across the extreme northwest corner; Anderson's Fork, rising in the northeast part of the county, flowing west and northwest and draining the northern portion; East Fork of the Little Miami, flowing southerly from the Snow Hill locality, and forming a portion of the boundary between Clinton and Highland Counties; Little East Fork of the Little Miami; Silver Creek, Stone Lick and numerous smaller ones. Wilson's Branch of Rattlesnake Creek drains into the Scioto from the northeast part of the county-Richland and Wilson Townships-while Lee's Creek, (Named from Peter Lee, a surveyor of Virginia military lands. Lytle's Creek was named for Gen. William Lytle, also a surveyor of these lands and Anderson's Fork derives Its name from Col. Richard C. Anderson, the principal surveyor. Wilson's Branch and Wilson's Run were named respectively for Amos and Isaac Wilson, early settlers. Buck Run and Turkey Run were named from circumstances readily seen. Dutch Creek had several Antilles of that nationality among the first settlers on its banks.) also a tributary to the Scioto, drains a portion of Wayne Township. Todd's Fork of the Little Miami is the most considerable stream in the county, and, in the days of the early settlements, furnished fair water-power, which was available throughout most of the year. The case at present (1882) is greatly different, for there is little power except at seasons when the stream is swollen by rains or the melting of snow.. "Todd's Fork" was widely known in the years at the beginning of the present century, for on its banks some of the most prominent among the early settlements in the county were made. All the streams in this region are subject to sudden and sometimes disastrous freshets, which subside quite as rapidly as they rise. The nature of the country is such that no great reservoirs exist, and the streams are therefore without a reserve supply to keep them steady.

Anderson's Fork runs in places upon strata of the Niagara limestone, and is generally not much above bedded stone. At Port William, in Liberty Township, it cuts through a portion of the pentamerous beds of the Niagara formation to a depth of from five to ten feet. Above Port William and along this stream is a tract known as the "prairie," extending a number of miles and possessing a deep, rich, black soil. It was doubtless once the location of a swamp or shallow lake. Northeast of this prairie is supposed to be the highest point of land in the county, it being between 700 and 800 feet above low water mark of the Ohio River at Cincinnati. In the southern part of the county, at a place a short distance east of Vienna, on the line of the Marietta & Cincinnati Railway, the elevation is 737 1/2 feet above the same comparative point. "Anderson's Fork receives but few tributaries in all its course, the tract which it drains being comparatively long and narrow. The bedded stone in its channel is of the Niagara formation as far down as the Lumberton quarries, where it strikes and cuts nearly through the formation known to geologists as Clinton, and, at a point a few miles farther down stream, at Ingalls' data, just outside of Clinton County, it oats about four feet of purple-red shale underlying the Clinton, and strikes the higher of the Cincinnati group, or blue limestone." East Fork of Todd's Fork also penetrates the blue limestone, cutting into it to a depth of nearly one hundred feet within three or four miles of Clarksville.



In this connection, we propose simply to quote from an article of merit on the geology of Clinton and Fayette Counties, prepared by John Hussey, and forming a part of Volume III, of the State Geological Report, Department of Geology. The dip of all the formations here found is toward the east and north and about forty feet to the mile. Mr. Hussey says: "If we trace the line of outcrop of the various formations from the point in the western part of Clinton County, where Todd's Fork leaves the county, we shall find that the strata of stone seen under those we meet proceed to the east, and, if a well were dug deep enough at Washington or Wilmington, it would cut through all the strata found to the west as far as Cincinnati." Immediately beneath the city of Wilmington lies the great Niagara system; next, the Clinton iron ore and stratified stone of this formation, about thirty feet in thickness; then, three or four feet of a ferruginous clay underlaid by the blue limestone of the Cincinnati Group.

Denuding Agencies.-After the deposition of the rocks now found in Clinton and Fayette Counties, the surface was not long, at an early geological period, beneath the surface of the sea While the deposit of sandstone which extends almost from the very border of Fayette County to the south indefinitely, and to the east, underlying the coal, was being made, the land to the north was above water, as well as when the deposits above the sandstone were made; at least, whatever material, organic or inorganic, was ever deposited here, has long since disappeared. We have some evidence, however, that the slate which immediately underlies the sandstone extended somewhat farther north than the sandstone itself has been found.

Formations in Clinton County, which were formerly continuous, have been partially removed, us on Cliff Run the Clinton formation is seen in its full thickness, while excavations show that its continuity is broken to the east of this locality, so that the exposure of white limestone on Cliff Run is a more island of that kind of stone. Besides the wearing away of the general surface and the removal of particular parts of formations, there were causes at work which have excavated channels far below the general surface. Ice, in the form of glaciers, is generally regarded as the means by which the denudation above alluded to has been effected, and moving water has doubtless been the instrument by which the deep channels have been excavated. These channels are only traced by observing the excavations which are made for one cause or another, the sinking of wells and borings for water. An instance of this channeling is noticed in that region in Clinton County known as the `prairie,' where it has been frequently observed that there are places apparently forming a continuous line, where rock is not found at any depth yet reached, although on each side of it is but a short distance to the undisturbed strata This channel has not been thoroughly examined, but, so far as observed, nearly coincided with the direction of the present Anderson's Fork. Doubtless where the bottom of Anderson's Fork is the bedded rock, the old channel was cut to one side or the other of that in which the water flows at present. Connected with the fact of the existence of such deep drainage at a former period is implied that the whole country was at a much greater elevation above the sea than it is in our time.

The Draft.-The old channels became silted up, and other accumulations were made subsequent to the period of denudation. The surface of the land must have sunk down so as to be beneath the surface of the water. Every indication points to water as the medium by which the deposits were made. Upon the surface of the stone is everywhere found more or less of loose material. The study of this material in both these counties is full of interest. The drift is composed of clay with varying proportions of sand and gravel, with occasional rounded blocks of granitic rock, and with the remains of trees and sometimes of other vegetation. The greatest thickness of the drift in our district is in Clinton County, east of the ` prairie,' where a deposit of over one hundred feet is found. Whether the whole surface of the county was once covered as, deeply as this limited area may admit of doubt; but there are reasons for believing that the surface was once covered with a heavy drift deposit. In some places, the soft material has been washed away, leaving large accumulations of sand and gravel; in other places, as in the level region between the East Fork of Todd's Fork and Blanchester, the material of the drift was a finer sediment than is found in other places, and has not been removed or disturbed to such a degree as in other portions of the county, and consequently, even if sand and gravel exist in it, there are no such extensive beds of these substances as are found where the sediment bad a finer character or was subsequently washed in currents of water. The clays of the drift are both blue and yellow, the former apparently prevailing in both counties, as shown in the excavations for wells. There was considerable variation in reports of the strata penetrated in sinking wells, but blue clay, or as it is frequently called, blue mud, from its appearance, was uniformly found, but there was no uniformity in the thickness of it. Sometimes it is but a few feet in thickness, and in another place, not a mile distant, it is no less than forty feet thick It is generally interstratified with sand and fine gravel, but sometimes no such stratification is seen. Water is found nearly everywhere within a very few feet of the surface of the earth, so that it is seldom excavations were carried farther than from ten to twenty feet below the surface, and our knowledge is limited of the material underlying to this slight extent. In some parts of our district, particularly those which are flat, there does not occur within the usual range of the wells, much, if any, yellow clay. If it is found, it is just below the soil for from three to ten feet, where fine-grained blue clay invariably occurs, interstratified with sand.

Bowlders. -These are found so scattered over the surface, and to belong above the blue clay deposit, rather than in it. The largest bowlder, perhaps, which is found so far south in this State, in found in Clinton County on the county infirmary farm, near Wilmington, and this lies on the fine-grained blue clay, upon which it would seem to have fallen by the washing away of the clay in which it was formerly imbedded, and which, at a higher level, lies near it on all sides. This bowlder contains about 1,200 cubic feet, and weighs upward of ninety tons. Smaller ones are found more or less abundantly, especially in the northern half of the county. They are found lying on or near the surface, where they have been left by the removal by water of the material deposited with them.

Gravel and Sand.-Mingled with the drift is always found a considerable proportion of these substances, but being scattered throughout the whole mass, or at most showing only a slight tendency to be distinct in strata, more or less mixed with soft material. Where the original drift is in quantity and undisturbed, the sand and gravels in it are not available for economic purposes. A few years ago, these counties were thought to be lacking in these important adjuncts to civilization. It was not until within the last five y years (previous to 1878), when the demand for gravel for road-making became exceedingly urgent, that thorough and exhaustive, and, as the result proved, successful search was made for it. It is now known that no real deficiency exists. People have learned where to look for it. When the currents of water carried away the lighter material of the drift deposit, those constituents which were heavier were left behind We may regard the highest land as the former level of the region we are speaking of. There was then a deposit of loose material, sometimes a hundred feet in thickness above the bedded stone. This material was manifestly deposited from water; and, to account for the character of the markings upon the rock surface, and the promiscuous intermixture of clays, sand and gravel, and sometimes a certain limited measure of stratification, or assorting of the materials according to their weight, and for the evidently remote origin of the stony constituents, requiring that they should have been brought hither, and especially for the numerous bowlders, conspicuous both for their size and clear marks of foreign origin, we unhesitatingly come to the conclusion that ice in some form contributed to the same end. Water in a liquid state alone could not carry such material so far without having an enormous velocity, sufficient to move before it not only the loose material, but the very stone beneath it. When the water subsided, new lines of drainage appeared, corresponding, more or less, depending upon the physical features of the country with preexisting ones. The emergence of the land was gradual, and the sub-dividing water stood for greater or less periods of time at different levels, which may be pointed out today with more or less distinctness. During the emergence of the solid earth, the currents of water carried away some of the material constituting the drift sediment of the former period the channels of drainage mark the direction of the current. Within these channels, the drift deposits were removed sometimes to the bedded rock. The varying force of the current distributed the material as we now see it. Strong currents carried all before them; weaker currents only the more refined sediment. Any current bearing substances along will deposit the heavier material first when the current becomes checked. It is thus that matters carried in currents of water become assorted and distributed. When a current bearing sediment finds a wider channel and expands, the current is checked at the side upon which it finds room to spread out. Here will be a deposit of the heavier part of its freight. If two currents meet at the point of intersection, they will be retarded, especially if one be more swollen than the other, and the heavier material carried will be deposited. Where now are mere brooks, the ample extent of the washing, the broad valleys, show that rivers once flowed. Wherever the drift clays were not washed, the gravel was interspersed through them; but where the clays are broken, where valleys have been cut in them, on the sides of these cuts, on the escarpment of the broken clay and gravel drift, the clay has been removed and the gravel is left in beds. Following the principles before referred to in regard to the laws of sedimentary deposits; the road maker of today may find the deposits of gravel he needs. Along the declivity, where two former currents met, far back from the meeting point of the diminutive streams of the present time, on a point and looking from the higher land, he who seeks this useful material need not look in vain. As there were various levels of the water at that far-distant period, so are there several elevations at which gravel is actually found. In addition to those beds on the escarpment of the hills, there are found hillocks or natural mounds of gravel which represent eddies, or places in which, for some cause, the water was more quiet, and hence unable to carry forward all its load of sediment. Besides these, the soil of the present bottoms is, in many places, underlaid with ample deposits of gravel.

Drifted wood is found in the blue clay in all our district. The instances in which wood has been found in the clay beds, penetrated in well-digging, are by no means few, nearly every neighborhood furnishing one or more. A kind of jointed grass, or rush, was obtained from a well, found near Reesville in Clinton County.

Bones.-The gravel which lay so long hidden from the knowledge of the present inhabitants was almost uniformly made use of as places of interment by some former race of people. Scarcely a gravel bed has been extensively worked in which abundance of human bones have not been discovered. The skeletons are usually found within two or three feet of the surface We are left to conjecture in giving any reason why this material was used in which to make interments of the dead. Trinkets of any description are extremely rare in such graves, although not entirely unknown. In none of which I heard were there any indications of unusual care or elaborateness in the interments. Possibly, the ease in excavating a grave in such material may have determined the choice. But is it not a little singular that the inhabitants of a long past age should have known the position of these gravel beds, covered as they were with a dense forest, while two generations of the intelligent people of this age had not any thought of their existence until within a half dozen years?

Stone Implements.-Flint arrow and lance points, stone hammers, bark-peelers, hematite fishing bobs or sinkers, and other articles of this class are found, especially along the water-courses. As no value and but a passing interest have been attached to them, they have not been preserved, but have been broken up or lost. Still many are found yet by persons engaged in working the soil. No one locality has furnished more than the borders of Deer Creek, but they are common on all the streams, and, indeed, over the whole surface of the county are they found. As the soil in Fayette and in parts of Clinton has not been subjected to the plow as much as in other places, and, of course, some of it not plowed at all, there perhaps remain more still to be gathered than have over been heretofore. Some persons, seeing in these articles a story of a former race of human beings, who have left but little else to tell of their manners or civilization, are gathering them up to preserve them from destruction. Nothing more amazes one in contemplating these relics of a people of a long past ago than the immense number of them scattered over the surface of the earth. Perhaps no single acre of ground in Central or Southern Ohio but that has furnished at least one flint arrow point; but the average would be much greater than one to the acre, and it is not too much to say that every farm, at least, has furnished some time a stone hatchet or bark-peeler.

Hematite Bowlder. - In Clinton County, near the residence of Samuel Lemar, one of the County Commissioners, I found a hematite bowlder, weighing about 250 rounds. This was extremely hard, and seemed to be of the salve material from which the sinkers referred to in the last paragraph were made.

The Boundary Line of Cincinnati Group.-The line separating the blue limestone and the Clinton white limestone` is easily distinguished. It may be distinguished in all the streams in the western part of Clinton County, which all cut abruptly through the Clinton and into the blue limestone. I shall here indicate where that line runs, beginning just without the county, on Anderson's Fork, near Ingalls' dam, where the upper beds of the Cincinnati group and the Clinton formation are seen at one glance. To the west a mile or two, on Cliff Run, as well as on Buck Run, the Clinton stone may be seen forming low cliffs, ant off from the main body of the formation; but the true line is on Anderson's Fork, as mentioned above. On Todd's Fork, just above the crossing of the Lebanon road, near the line which divides the surveys, 1554 and 1556 (H. Gates), the same formations are seen in juxtaposition. Farther south, on Lytle's Creek, was not seen, but on the next stream, Cowan's Creek, the line of the Clinton sweeps around to the east and appears above the village of Antioch, on the farm of Mr. James Gregory, and does not here rise above the surface of the earth. The next point in the line is back to the west, about one mile northeast of Martinsville, where it is quarried, and then its next appearance is at a point about one mile south of Farmer's Station, on the Cincinnati & Marietta Railroad, on a tributary stream of the East Fork of the Miami. The last point at which the blue limestone is seen on the East Fork of the Miami is near Pitzer's' Meeting-House, on the edge of White's survey.

The Clinton Formation.-This is seen on Anderson's Fork, at Oglesby's quarry, and in Todd's Fork, from the point of its first appearance near the Lebanon road to Babb's quarry in the base of the Niagara. At either of these localities, the whole of the formation maybe studied. The lower strata have the distinctly sand constitution characteristic of this formation, from which the stone is frequently called sandstone. These strata are good fire-stones, and resist the action of fire as a back wall in fire-places for a generation without softening or crumbling. But the strata a few feet higher are burned into lime, and make a medium quality for building purposes, and no doubt a very good quality of caustic lime for softening straw in the manufacture of paper. Some part of the ten feet of massive stone furnishes good building material. This stone has been obtained in Todd's Fork, but is expensive on account of the thickness of superincumbent stone of a poor quality, which must be removed before good stone can be reached. On Anderson's Fork, at Oglesby's quarry, the same stone is more accessible, and is the best building stone obtained from this formation. The quality of this stone at Oglesby's has led some to prefer it to the Niagara; but it has the hardness and gritty character of the Clinton, and on surfaces which have been exposed in the quarry to the action of atmospheric agencies for several years, it is seen to be composed almost wholly of a solid mass of broken encrinitic stems. Aside from lithological characters, this stone at Oglesby's is in the Clinton horizon, about midway from top to bottom, exclusive of the iron ore in the upper part. The twelve feet from the top of the Clinton is well seen from the under strata at Babb's quarry, on Todd's Fork, down stream to the locality of the iron furnace, formerly erected to work the ore. This twelve feet is highly fossiliferous throughout, but it is only in a few feet at the bottom where the proportion of iron is large enough to entitle it to the name of iron ore. In this part the imbedded fossils are deeply covered by the iron. For some reason, the furnace erected here (about 1850) did not prove a success, and was soon abandoned, although the quality of iron was regarded as very good. The richest ore is a brittle stone, mostly composed of small, exteriorly smooth and shiny lenticular grains, reminding one of flax-seed. The ore is easily crumbled in the hand, and contains numerous disjointed crinoidal disks, partially eroded. The species of fossils become more numerous as we approach the higher strata. Sometimes the stone is highly granular or crystalline, while still crumbling easily in the fingers, and is less ferruginous and the imbedded fossils become light colored. The iron ore occurs in considerable quantities, being exposed in an outcrop along the slopes for several miles, and large quantities could be obtained by stripping. If it were more convenient, or nearer furnaces in operation, it might become valuable to mix with other ores in making certain qualities of iron, particularly if it should be found to serve likewise as a flux. The fossils in the upper beds are better preserved than in the lower, but good cabinet specimens are difficult to obtain. That locality alluded to before as Grubb's quarry, in the southern part of the county, abounds in fossils, and I recommend it as a promising field for palaeontological research. It was but little opened at the time of my visit, but as the stone obtained seemed to answer well for building purposes. it will doubtless be further developed and furnish many fossils, and possibly some that are new to science. Highly fossiliferous courses, twelve feet; massive courses, hard and gritty, showing crinoidal stems on weathered surface, ten feet; strata, alternating with clay, five, feet; ferruginous clay, separating the limestone from the blue clay below, three feet.

The Niagara Formation.-This designation, as well as many others in our geology, including the subject of the last paragraph-the Clinton--is derived from the account of the geology of the State of New York published some years since, and all are taken from the occurrence of the strata in well known localities in that State. The Niagara formation is not exposed very extensively in Clinton County, and dips far under the surface in Fayette. It lies immediately on the iron stone, or ore, just referred to at Babb's quarry, on Todd's Fork. Here, proceeding from the upper strata of Clinton in the bed of the creek, near Babb's quarry, we find, commencing at the Clinton, thence upward: Blue clay with purple tint, four inches; blue clay, four inches; stone stratum, one inch; purple or red clay, unctuous feeling, four inches; blue clay, four inches. The best Niagara building stone in the county-smooth, fine grained, even-bedded limestone-approaching in quality some sorts of marble. "The supply of this building stone, however, is limited and much below the demand. In the inferior strata, no trace of organic remains was found, their fine, even texture suggesting that they may have been deposited as calcareous mud in quiet water. In no part of the twelve or fifteen feet here exposed were organic remains found, except in the most meager quantity, here and there occurring a small mass of coral which is completely incorporated in the substance of the stone, being unbroken and standing upright as it was formed, having been silted up by fine sedimentary deposits. Above this building stone, the system assumes that loose and porous character so often observed in this formation, full of casts of large Pentamerous oblongus and other fossils. With numerous small cavities stained with carbonaceous matter. At Port William, the exposure on Anderson's, Fork was perfectly characteristic of this formation, the jagged and cavernous masses being worn and corroded by the elements into fantastic shapes. But the most interesting exposure of this formation in the county is that known as Black's quarry, near Snow Hill, where. the strata belong to the upper portion of the Niagara. This is a highly fossiliferous stone, but unsuitable for building purposes, as it is soft and porous lull can be crumbled in the hand. The stone used in constructing the Vienna & Wilmington Turnpike was obtained here. The fossils are difficult to obtain without being broken, but many of them are very good specimens, the most delicate markings being preserved. The stone is so fragile that the specimens are greatly injured by handling, and cannot be packed in the usual manner without detriment. Among those I brought away I find a Rhynchonella caneata, in thyris, a Polypora and Striatopora, and a Faristella plumosa. The molluscous fossils obtained were casts of the shells, the interiors being entirely empty and showing the muscular impressions with great distinctness. It will doubtless repay the paleontologist richly to make a thorough exploration of this quarry. If there is any economic value in the product of this quarry, not heretofore discovered. I suggest that it may be as material for lime. The best quality of building lime is manufactured in other localities from stone obtained in this horizon of the Niagara formation. There may be a question of its practical utility for this purpose on account of the liability of the stone to break up. There were indications that in some portions of the quarry the quality of the stone might be less liable to this objection. So far as my observation extended, this portion of the Niagara occurs nowhere else in our district. All the bedded rock eastward of the localities I have named, where the Niagara may be found, belongs to the same formation, as all places where stone in position is found along Anderson's Fork, near Wilmington and also near Reesville."

Next above the Niagara is the Lower Helderberg, a water lime formation, but this does not occur in Clinton County, consequently those formations which have been described are all which come within the province of this chapter.



The soils of Clinton County are of a somewhat varied nature, from the sandy to the rich black alluvial deposits having the characteristics of the lands in the Western prairies. They are adapted to the growth of grass, grains and fruit, and consequently within the limits of the county are found excellent stock, splendid fruit and profuse crops of grain, of which winter wheat is the Staple. Very early in its history-or that of its settlements-it became apparent that as an agricultural region the county was destined to rank among the foremost in the State, and years have simply proved that the confidence of the pioneers was not misplaced.



The climate of the region in which Clinton County is located is of that nature which is conducive to health. There is no persistent cause to taint the atmosphere with malaria, as in localities where the drainage is imperfect, and the county is situated far enough south so that it is free from the extremes of cold, while at the same time the temperature does not rise above that of much more Northern regions. In common with the whole Northern country, however, it is subject to great and sudden changes in temperature at certain seasons. The annual precipitation is sufficient to insure almost invariably good crops and keep the sanitary condition of the county at its best Everything considered, the climate of Clinton County is a desirable one.

Schools were taught first as shown by the following: Union Township, 1806; Chester and Wayne, no dates given, neither for Washington nor Marion; Adams, 1808; Wilson, 1816 or 1812; Vernon, 1811 or 1812; Liberty 1812; Clark, about 1812; Richland, 1814; Jefferson, 1823. The early school-houses were simple structures of logs, and are accurately described elsewhere. The schools were taught by subscription until about 1835, the rates of tuition being from $.1.25 to $1.50 per quarter for each pupil. At about the date last named, free schools were established, and that magnificent system has done much for the country. Academies and colleges have been founded, and will be described in their proper places.