Early German Settlers in Campbell County

Early German Settlers in Campbell County

Condensed article originally published in the Der Deutsche Pionier
by H A Tattermann in the late 1800s
Complete article at the Cold Spring Public Library


The first organization of the County took place by means of a proclamation of Governor Shelby on l June 1795, which also appointed the following justices of the peace, who met at the home of John Grant in Wilmington (now Williamstown, the capital of Grant County), in order to initiate the judicial work of the county: John Roberts, John Koch (Cook), Robert Benham, James Little, Thomas Kennedy, Samuel Bryant, and Johannes Busch Originally, John Craig, Washington Berry, and Chas. Daniels had also been named, but they declined, and in their place Little, Kennedy, and Bryant were appointed.  Of the group, Benham, Koch, and Roberts formed the Court of Quarter Sessions, and James Taylor became Court Reporter; Nathan Kelly, Sheriff; and Squire Grant, County Surveyor.

In the first court session it was ordered that Newport, located, at the confluence of the Ohio and Licking Rivers, be fixed as the place for the holding of the county courts.  Newport was selected not because it was the largest town in the county, but because it was the best accessible place from all directions in the region, and was particularly so due to its proximity to the Ohio and Licking Rivers.

In general, one of the major tasks they had to deal with was the matter of the construction of streets, i.e. roads through the woods. Therefore, during its first session, the court determined that the following should be commissioned to construct road from Falmouth to the Washington Ferry, in the vicinity of the widow Stephens: John Koch (Cook), Karl Zink (Sink), Georg Hendricks, Georg Marschall (Martial), Johannes Waller, Johannes Sander, and Samuel Bryant.  Most of these were Germans, who had settled down in Falmouth.

On 7 September of the same year, Jacob Bergmann (Barrickman), Nathan Kelley and Jacob Milles, were also appointed to build a road from Newport to the widow Perry on the Ohio River. In this manner, the following roads were built in the first five years:

1. From Newport to Tanner's Station. Joseph Schmidt, a German, was also involved in the construction of this road.
2. From Newport to Thomas Lindsey's.  Johann Bartel was appointed Overseer of this road in May 1796, and was followed in 1797 by the aforementioned Jakob Bergmann.
3. From Spielmann's (Spillmann's) to John Fowler's salt works at the Bank Lick. The following were appointed as overseers of this project: Franz Spielmann (Spillmann), John Williams, Wilhelm German, and Thomas Johnstone.
4. From Dr. Sellmann's place to Georgetown Street. Dr. Johann Sellmann was one of the first physicians in the area.  He was born of German parents in Baltimore, and had studied medicine in Germany.  Dr. Sellmann resided for many years in Cincinnati and the region. Dr. Drake testifies to the fact that he was an excellent doctor.
5. From the mouth of the Licking to the Big Bone Lick River. The commissioners for the project were:
Joseph Schmidt, Jakob Sadowsky, Adam Glese and James Spencer.

The first request for a mill dam in the county was made by Johann Waller, or Weller. The mill was built in 1796 on the east side of the southern arm of the Licking River, close to the forks of the Licking.

The commissioners responsible for this construction with whom Waller had a concession were two Germans: Jacob Links and Michael Kaucher (Cauger). The second mill, which received a concession from the court, was that of Jacob Grosshang, which was built in the same year across from the mouth of the Fork Lick at the east side of the southern arm of the Licking River. The commissioners granted him for this purpose an acre of public land for the price of 2 shillings and six pence.

A third matter with which the courts of the time had to deal with was the licensing and oversight of taverns. The first tavern (Gasthaus) in Newport was maintained by Heinrich Pickele. He received a concession an 2 November 1795.  Another German tavern owner in Campbell County during the 18th century was Nikolaus Egbert.

One notices that French brandy and whiskey have been joined by peach brandy, and in 1799 a whole variety of drinks appear, with which guests could enjoy themselves, including wine and beer.  The latter was brewed by Johannes Bartel, who had established the first brewery in Newport in 1798 for thirsty Germans and others as well.

On 8 December 1795 Johannes Busch registered two long notches in the right ear as the brand for his swine and livestock, and Johannes Thresher Sen., registered his as being a notch in the left ear.

Thomas Kennedy received the right to maintain a ferry below the Licking across the Ohio River, and Johann Busch received one for a ferry from his land across from North Bend likewise across the Ohio River.

Border disputes with regard to land were usually dealt with by means of the commissioners. There were few other kinds of claims, except will and testament matters. By means of them, however, we learn the names of other Germans, who passed away at the time in Campbell County. The first of such names we find was that of David Lietsch, who died on 7 September 1795.   In 1798, Heinrich Boden died, and his wife, Emilie Boden, was named as executor.

In summer 1797, a German family by the name of Bechtel settled down in Newport. They came from the region of Hanau, where the man himself had studied stone masonry, and which trade he also established in Newport.  They had five children, of which the oldest was 16 years old.  His whole wealth had been expended to bring his family across the ocean and to bring them West.  In fall 1797, the mother became sick, and succumbed to the fever.

In winter, the river was frozen, and the man together with his son, in order to earn more for the family, took on the job of driving cattle to slaughter across the ice of the river to Fort Washington in Cincinnati. The ice, however, was already breaking up, and when a stubborn ox turned around so as to make a jump elsewhere, the ice broke through, leading to father, son, and steer drowning together in the river.

There stood the four small children, of which the oldest was 14, helpless and alone in the world, thousands of miles away from the place, which merely a year ago had been their homeland, and where all their friends and relations had remained. Poor and alone in a land where only few understood their language. However, the American people are as magnanimous as they are hospitable, and already on the next day many of the citizens in town indicated they would provide a home for the children. The 11 year-old boy Johannes Bechtel and his 19 year-old sister Sarah were adopted by a blacksmith named William Anderson. The oldest child, Maria Bechtel, was taken in by John Hunter, and the youngest the five year-old Barbara, was taken in by a German tailor, Johann H. Lesner.

These adoptions were reviewed and approved by the court on 12 February 1798.  Lesner the German tailor in Newport, lived at that time on Taylor St., and owned lot no. 32, which he had purchased from the trustees of the city of Newport for $8. 

Judges were from the usual ranks of society.  Heinrich Brascher belonged to this court in 1795-96 as a judge, and in 1796 the German brewer, tavern keeper and farmer, Johannes Bartel, also sat on the judge's bench, and was followed in 1799 by Franz Spielmann. Wilhelm Germann was the first Constable.

The following Germans were property owners in Newport in 1800:
1.  Johann Bartel
purchased lots 7, 8, 29 and 30 on 8 December 1795.
2.  Johannes Koch
purchased lot no 115 located at the corner of Bellevue and York on 10 May 1796 from Johann Waller for $20.
3. Heinrich Brascher
bought lot no. 46 on Taylor Street, on 5 September 1796 for $4.  He also acquired lot no. 12 at the corner of Columbia and Esplanade on the same day.
4.  Jacob Bergmann
acquired lots 119-20 from Robert Benham on 13 February 1797 for $100.
5.  Johann Holland
of Cincinnati purchased lots 155-56 and 158 from the city of Newport on 6 February 1797 for $80.
6. Jacob Russele
became the owner of lot no. 18 at York and Eplanade on 11 Sep 1797, and from Joseph Riddick lots 71-72 on Monmouth.
7. Wessel Muller
bought 120 acres from William Smith and his wife, located on the banks of the Licking River in the city of Newport.  This Muller was a manufacturer of spinning wheel equipment.  On 10 July 1798 three year old orphan Thomas Haglein was bound over to Muller until he should come of age.

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