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Chapter V - Pioneer Incidents

Part III - Chain Of Settlements By Townships

[Chapter V - Part II] - [Return To Beer's Index] - [Chapter V - Part IV]

SETTLEMENT BY TOWNSHIP

Settlements in the remaining townships of Clinton County were made in the following order:

Clark Township-The first settler was Thomas Johns, who located three miles southeast of Martinsville, on the East Fork of the Little Miami. The date of his arrival is not known, but it must have been as early as 1800 or in the first part of 1801, as Isaac Miller, Joseph McKibben and Gideon McKibben all arrived in the latter year, and Mr. Johns had preceded them.

Union Township-Timothy Bennet is credited with being the first to locate a home within the limits of what is now Union Township, having settled east of the site of Wilmington in the month of March, 1801. No other family arrived for over two years, or until the fall of 1803, when George Haworth became the second settler in the township.

Chester Township-The first actual settler in this township was Caleb Lucas, originally from New Jersey, and later a resident of Kentucky, who located here in 1802. Asa Jenkins had arrived in 1799, and George Mann in March, 1801, but, although both men owned land in Chester, their dwellings were across the line in what is now Greene County: They subsequently removed, however, to Chester. The first brick house in Clinton County was built near Oakland, in Chester Township, in 1807, by James Birdsall, and is still standing. The bricks in its walls were manufactured on the place, by Mr. Birdsall, and it can readily be imagined the task in that day was not an easy one.

Liberty Township-Stephen Mendenhall, a native of Tennessee, settled on Dutch Creek in the spring of 1803, and was the first to erect his cabin in what is now Liberty Township.

Wayne, Richland and Washington Townships were all settled in 1803. John Jackson, a native of Pennsylvania, located in Wayne in the spring of that year. Some time during the year, Absalom and Samuel Reed, from Bourbon County, Ky., took up their abode in Richland, while Isaac Wilson, from Virginia, settled on Col. Carrington's survey, in Washington, before the close of the year. Jonas Seaman and a man named Armstrong arrived soon after, and in 1805, Armstrong opened, upon the present site of Cuba, the first house for public entertainment in the township, and one of the earliest in the county, probably Morgan Van Meter's, in Greene Township, being the only one to antedate it, if Armstrong's was not opened first.

Adams Township- The first settler in this portion of the county was Samuel Lee, who came in 1804, and made his home near the present site of Springfield Meeting-House.

Jefferson Township--This township was settled considerably later. The first cabin within its limits was built by Samuel Jackson, about 1812. Mr. Jackson came from Tennessee, and was a noted hunter. It is recorded that. during his life-time, he killed two panthers, 360 deer and eighty bears. Joseph Hockett built the first hewed-log house in this township, at a date not given.

Marion Township--The territory which latest received the attention of settlers in Clinton County is included in what is now Marion Township. According to the statements of Esquire J. W. Rice, the township historian, the first settlement was made in 1814, by Jonathan Baldwin, a native of Monongalia County, Va., who had located in Guernsey County, Ohio, in 1804. and in Warren County in 1806. He served under Gen. Harrison in the war of 1812.

So often have descriptions been written of the appearance of this region before the white settler had made it his home that those who read must all be familiar with the phraseology commonly employed. Yet there is not enough variety in the terms which can be used to write in a greatly different manner on the subject from those who have told the story during many years. A vast forest wilderness stretched northward from the Ohio River, into the depths of which pushed the bold pioneers from the States of North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and others, most of them coming from Virginia and the Carolinas.

The face of the country at the beginning of the settlements in Clinton County bore a vastly different look from the present. The soil was extremely fertile, and upon it grew, in the utmost luxuriance, the many varieties of trees and shrubs common to this latitude. Nearly the entire surface of the county was covered by massive forest trees and the tangle of shrubs which grow beneath. Spicewood and the wild pea-vine formed a mat through which the feet could push with difficulty. From the leaves of the spicewood was made: a decoction which was used in the place of "store tea," when the latter could not be obtained. Sassafras tea (called "sassafrack " in the vernacular of that day) was also used, and the sap of the sugar maple was a boon which the settlers well appreciated as an almost invaluable article in the economy of their households. Flowers in greatest variety grew and blossomed under the trees, and the rose, the wild lily, the dogwood, the red-bud and a hundred other varieties made a beautiful carpet for the magnificent forest aisles in their season.

Splendid as was the appearance of the country in the days when the "first settler" looked upon it, the fact remained that out of the forest depths his home must be carved. The task promised to be by no means an easy one, but the man who was bold enough to venture far from the older settlements and brave all the difficulties he must of necessity encounter was not disheartened with the prospect before him, and began at once the work he had resolved to accomplish. The ringing strokes of his ax echoed in the thick green wood, and the trees lay prostrate where for hundreds of years they had stood in their glory. The rays of the sun streamed into the little clearing; smoke curled upward from burning logs and brush-heaps; the rude cabin soon stood outlined against the dark and somber forest wall, and the new home was begun where never before had the footsteps of civilization penetrated.