REILY TOWNSHIP lies north of Morgan,, south of Oxford, west of Hanover, and east of the State of Indiana. It was organized in December ,1807. The township was named after John REILY. It originally formed a part of St. Clair. Some of the first settlers in the township were named ALLHAND, ANTHONY, BALDWIN, BURGET,BAIRD, BURK, CLARK, CHASE, CONKLING, CLEM, DeCAMP, DENEEN, HOUSEL, HALSTEAD, HANCOCK, JONES, LINDLEY, MONTGOMERY, MORRIS, MILLER, PIERSON, ROSS, SAMPLE, THOMPSON, TRIMBLEY, WELLIVER, and STEVENS.
The justices of the peace have been Ithamar WHITE and William MITCHELL in 1808; Ithamar WHITE and John BURKE in 1811; the same in 1813 and 1814; Daniel TRIMBLY in 1816; John BURKE from 1817; Daniel TRIMBLY in 1819; John BURKE from 1820-1823; Daniel TRIMBLY again in 1824-1825; John BURKE in 1826; Daniel ALLHANDS in 1828; John BURKE in 1829; in 1831, Daniel ALLHANDS; John CLARK & John JOHNSON in 1832; in 1833, Samuel PORT; in 1834, Amos LARISON, and in 1835, Jacob MILLER and David LINDLEY; in 1836, Isaac CLARK; in 1838, Amos LARISON and Jacob MILLER; in 1839, Isaac CLARK; Amos LARISON in 1841, also Samuel TRIMBLY; 1842, Elias H. GASTON; in 1844, Alexander OGLE and W. P. DENEEN; and in succeeding years, James B. TRIMBLY, Silas C. STEWART, Thomas W. LAWRENCE, P. J. B. WELLIVER, Thomas SMITH, Joseph W. FRAZEE, William L. LANE, John W. OWENS, G. W. WELLIVER, L. D. HANCOCK, L. C. ADDISON, and Alonzo URMSTON.
In 1844 there were nine school districts in the township and $1,206 annually collected for school purposes. The population in 1820 was fourteen hundred and fifty-one; in 1830, eighteen hundred and thirty-two; in 1840, seventeen hundred and fifty-eight. Reily post-office was the only one in the township in 1844.
Indian Creek passes through Reily Township from northwest to southeast. Its principal tributaries are Little Indian, which flows from the west, taking its rise in the neighborhood of Peoria. Chase's Run flows from the north, and takes its name from Valentine CHASE, a pioneer in this part of the township. Mr. CHASE entered the south-east quarter of Section 5, the same quarter on which the Indian Creek Baptist Church stands. Further east is Boone's Run, also an affluent of Indian Creek. This creek took its name from a distant relative of Daniel BOONE, who settled in this region far back in the '20's. Reserve Run flows from the north through Sections 5 and 6, emptying into Indian Creek one-quarter of a mile below Reily. Indian Creek has a bottom some three-quarters of a mile in width, which is very fertile. These bottoms are very fine lands for raising corn. It was along this stream and its tributaries, in the opening of Indian Creek Valley to agriculture, that such fine crops were raised. The other streams named have no bottoms of any size. In the south-west corner of the township the lands are well adapted to agricultural purposes. The soil is dark, rather heavy loam, inclined to be wet. When drained it produces the best of crops. The north-east corner is broken somewhat, and not so well adapted to farming; the soil is clayish generally. In the vicinity of Ogleton and Woods' Stations the surface is flat, and the soil a dark loam, naturally wet. All kinds of timber abounded here when the first settlements were made. There has been a very great quantity of good timber destroyed, but there is still standing a sufficient forest for many years. This township, like Morgan and Hanover, was plentifully supplied with pea vines along the creek bottoms in early times. The undergrowth was mainly spice bushes. Many hoop-poles were cup from the forests when still-houses were running their best. Flour barrels, as well as whisky barrels, commanded a good price in those days, and it is said "a cooper-shop was kept going on every section."
The first white child buried in Reily Township was Thomas D., son of George and Nancy ALLHANDS, who died March, 1803, and was buried in a graveyard on Section 9, a few rods south-west of the center, on a farm now owned by Colonel William STEPHENS, on hundred and fifty yards due east from the house. In 1837 there were thirty-three graves here, two of them being colored people. But one tombstone was erected in this graveyard--an old sandstone, which now lies on the ground. This child was scalded to death by hot sugar water. There have been no burials here since 1837. The yard is now under a state of cultivation.
In 1807 there were but three or four houses from where the Miami was crossed at Venice and Brookville. From where James STEPHENS settled, in 1809, on the south-east quarter of Section 7, to Brookville, a distance of fourteen miles, there was not a single house. Andrew LEWIS, below Reily, was the first settler below STEPHEN's and Venice for a number of years. During the years of 1808, 1809, and 1810 there were many families who came here from all sections. In 1834 there were three hundred and thirty-six voters in the township. There are now about four hundred voters, a very small gain in nearly fifty years.
In 1805 there was a powerful combination of horse thieves at work in this and adjoining townships. The line extended from New Orleans to Canada, and had enlisted in the business all grades of men. Blind stables were used to conceal stolen goods. One formerly stood on the west side of Indian Creek, about a mile below the Baptist Church, and was in a very secluded place. It could have been discovered only by mere accident. Horses were stolen, hidden here for a short time, and then taken off during the night to other stables, which had been previously notified of their coming. This kind of enterprise was carried on so extensively that the settlers finally broke up the gang, in 1815, by hanging a number of the leaders.
Another road, described in Morgan Township, was called the post-road, leading from Lawrenceburg, Indiana, to Oxford, Ohio. It was of less importance, because leading to no large markets. Mails were carried over this route every fortnight, in a pair of saddle-bags thrown behind a horseman.
The county road from Hamilton to Oxford cut the north-east corner of the township, one fork taking the direction of Oxford from Stillwell's Corner, the other following the township line between Oxford and Reily Townships to the State line.
There was another road which followed the section line, one mile north of the south side of the township, as far east as the road leading from SAYRES's saw-mill to the Layhigh road to Venice. This road was used a great deal by the people who lived along its route. During the last forty years there have been many changes.
About 1808 or 1809 Robert DENNEY built an undershot sawmill at Bunker Hill. The same mill, or one on the same site, is now running. This mill finally passed into the hands of Elias SAYRES, who also had a carding-machine, fulling-mill, and a machine for weaving and spinning. These establishments ran from 1825 to 1834.
One of the first blacksmiths at Bunker Hill was Henry GARVER, who was here from 1825 to 1830. He was a man of considerable skill, and was well liked by his customers.
There was a grist-mill here, owned by John KINSEY, about 1820. The millwrights were James and Robert NELSON. The mill stood on the south side of the road, a hundred feet above the iron bridge. Two of the millers were Perry ORENDORFF and Mr. McFREELY, who were hired by KINSEY. This was an undershot mill, which run for about fifteen years. Some of the other owners were John SCUDDER, Obadiah WELLIVER, and Samuel HASLET. A part of this mill is now standing.
A school-house was erected in 1809 or 1810, in the northern or upper end of Bunker Hill, on the north side of the pike. Two of the teachers were Messrs. NOBLE and HARRIS. Some of the early settlers in Bunker Hill were Obadiah WELLIVER, who was here about 1810; Thomas BURKE, here in 1808; John ISRAEL and John KINSEY, later; James DENEEN and Silas ANDERSON, both on the other side of the Universalist Church.
It is said that Bunker Hill was called Dog Town, because, when the place first began to assume the proportions of a village, a fierce dog-fight took place at KINSEY's mill, hence the result.
Abraham and James THOMPSON built a still-house on Philip's Fork, above Scipio one-half mile, in 1818, or about that time. In 1820 James BEARD bought out the THOMPSON brothers, who were from Pennsylvania. This still-house was built of round logs, and was thirty by twenty feet; the capacity was one barrel per day. Corn was ground at neighboring mills on Dry Fork. BEARD, as soon as he became owner of the site, erected a hewed-log house, forty-one by forty feet, one story high. He ground his corn by horse power. This still-house continued to run for about twenty-five years.
Mr. SHILLINGS was the first blacksmith in the northwestern corner of the township in 1815. His shop was on a farm, which afterwards belonged to John WEHR, in the southeast quarter of Section 7. SHILLINGS had a large family of girls and one son. He died at his place of business.
There was a store in 1821 and 1822, kept by Thomas CHASE, exactly where Samuel KING now lives, which lasted for five or six years.
Elijah VANNESS had a saw-mill on Indian Creek in 1836, on the northwest quarter of Section 5; Philetus MUNSON had another at the same time on the northwest quarter. On Section 9, George ALLHANDS built a sawmill, which was sold, with a considerable portion of land, to Colonel William STEPHENS, who, with his large family, did an immense business for many years. John BURKE had a mill on Indian Creek in 1825, on the north-west quarter of Section 22, where he ground corn and wheat. All of those mills have disappeared.
A very prominent tavern for hog-drivers was at John WEHR's, two and three-quarter miles above Reily, on the pike now, then on the old county road, in the southeast quarter of Section 7. Wilson V. RAGSDILL was an old tavern-keeper on this road, near St. Charles, then the leading and most direct route to Cincinnati, but which after leaving St. Charles, was known as the Trace road.
Union school was commenced in 1816 by the neighbors who lived in the northwestern corner of the township, and who erected a hewed log house on a lot of two acres, donated by Maxwell PARKERSON, in the southeast corner of section six. The Walker Chapel Church held many of its first services here; also the Indian Creek Baptist Church. PARKERSON came here in 1806, from Virginia. Their teachers in early times were John ELLIOTT, a pensioned Revolutionary soldier, from New York State; Robert RIGGS, of Maine; Alfred CHAMBERLAIN, of New York State, who "was the best grammarian ever in this part of the county;" Winson LUSK, of Virginia, and John FERGUSON. Among the scholars were James, William, Levi, Andrew, and Lurene STEPHENS, children of James STEPHENS, a pioneer of 1809; Collin, William, Edward, and John FORBES; Randall, Rebecca, and John WESLEY; Maxwell JOHNSON; Eleazer, Rodney, Mayhew (who was named after his father), Franklin, James, Rebecca, and Malinda DONHAM. The old hewed log-house was used for thirty-five years. The present brick building, school district No. 3, is almost on the same site.
From about fifty interments in the burying ground we take the following: Michael BRESSLER, born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, May 26, 1792; died February 7, 1866. Susanna BRESSLER, born February 27, 1797; died April 5, 1866. Obadiah WELLIVER, born September 13, 1777; died September 15, 1839. Hannah WELLIVER, born October 3, 1780; died July 8, 1869. These two people were the parents of large and respectable posterity, many of whom still reside in this vicinity. Margaret TREMBLY, died April 23, 1864, aged 65 years, 8 months, and 11 days. The TREMBLYs were also early members of this Church. Abraham BALSER died June 6, 1858, aged 72 years. Elizabeth BALSER died December 23, 1859, aged 72 years. Michael BURGETT died June 22, 1857, aged 46 years and 1 day.
For a number of years a good Sunday-school has been in successful operation at this place. The furniture of this place is quite modern, and every thing has the appearance of neatness and prosperity. The church is a frame, capable of seating three hundred people. These inscriptions are from a private yard, one mile above Reily, near the line which divides sections sixteen and seventeen, about ten rods south of the present pike, ten feet west of the section line:
In memory of Eleanor, wife of James POST, who departed this life December 17, 1841, aged 82 years and 9 months. James POST died July 28, 1846, aged 86 years, 10 months and 28 days. Further up the pike, near the old road, below Walker Chapel have a mile, in the private ground among a clump of cedars are, John WEHR, a native of Somerset County, Pennsylvania, who died January 25, 1853, aged 73 years, 1 month and 17 days. Sarah, wife of John WEHR, died May 12, 1866, in the 77th year of her age. Mr. WEHR was an early tavern-keeper.
The Washington Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1819, by Russel BIGELOW, at a dwelling-house one-fourth of a mile southwest of the place where the church now stands. Charles STEWART was appointed class-leader, in which capacity he served for many years. He was a member of this Church at the time of his death which occurred December 24, 1854, aged 73 years and 22 days. His body is in the graveyard at St. Charles, a village that was named in honor of the pioneer. The Rev. Benjamin LAWRENCE, who was one of the pioneer preachers, also sleeps in the same yard; died September 7, 1855, aged 74 years. For several years after its organization, the Church worshipped in the house where it was organized. It afterwards occupied a log school-house in St. Charles, just west of where the cemetery is entered, on the same side of the road. In 1834, during the pastorate of the Rev. C. W. SWAIN and the Rev. J. WATERMAN, Washington Chapel was erected; dedicated the same year. The contractor was Levi SPARK, who at that time had a saw mill a short distance below Scipio. The ground on which the church stands was given by Matthew MOORHEAD. There was a great deal of strife among the members of the society concerning the location of this house. Mr. STEWART proposed to give a building site near St. Charles, but the proposition was disregarded, principally through the influence of Mr. LAWRENCE, and a local preacher by the name of POWERS, who afterwards became a Mormon saint. There was a time when Washington was the strongest society on the circuit, but from lukewarmness, deaths, removals, and dissensions, it is now the weakest. During the late war the house became very much out of repair. In 1865 a new roof was put on it, and in 1868 the ceiling was replastered.
The Washington Sunday-school was organized as many as forty years ago. Samuel STEWART was one of the first superintendents. There were about forty scholars. Exercises consisted mainly in the recital of verses, which had been memorized, and for which the best scholar received a reward; reading portions of Scripture in concert, and singing.
Some of the first members of the Church were Charles STEWART and wife; Jane and Matthew MOORHEAD; Nathaniel MEEKER and wife; James EMERSON and wife; Michael and Rachel MEEKER; Benjamin and his wife Margaret STITES; Robert BELL; Aaron POWERS; Jonathan RICHMOND and wife; the Rev. Mr. LAWRENCE and wife.
The following inscriptions from tombstones are taken from the St. Charles Cemetery:
Sacred to the memory of David BELL, who departed this life July 18, 1834, in the 60th year of his age. Margaret, consort of David BELL, died July 10, 1834, in her 55th year. Emanuel BURGET, died February 4, 1822, in the 46th year of his age. In memory of David WILLIAMS, who departed this life April 22, 1821, aged 51. Thomas FAUCETT, died September 30, 1856, aged 56. Abigail, wife of Thomas FAUCETT, died September 15, 1847, aged 67. Lare, consort of John FITZGERALD, died September 3, 1839, aged 50. John FITZGERALD, died August 19, 1839, aged 48. Margaret, wife of Benjamin STITES, departed this life December 28, 1828, aged 23. Sacred to the memory of Esther, consort of Matthew MOORHEAD, who departed this life January 1, 1833, aged 48. Eleanor, wife of Garret VAN AUSDALL, departed this life December 15, 1844, aged 72. Jonathan RICHMOND, died July 17, 1835, aged 57. Barbara, wife of Jonathan RICHMOND, died June 8, 1851, aged 64. Both of these inscriptions are on the same tombstone. Esther, wife of Nathaniel MEEKER, a Revolutinary soldier of 1776, died March 29, 1834, aged 74. Michael A. THOMPSON, died May 28, 1857, aged 59. Wilson V. RAGSDILL died May 4, 1853 in the 60th year of his age. Mary, wife of Wilson V. RAGSDILL, died March 10, 1854, aged 50. Rachel C., wife of James EMERSON, died January 17, 1855, aged 61. John KEEVER, died August 4, 1863, aged 96. Lydia, wife of John KEEVER, died June 30, 1859, in the 78th year of her age. Daniel P. INLOES, died June 26, 1864, aged 70. Catharine, wife of Daniel P. INLOES, died November 12, 1873, aged 74. Benjamin WYNN died May 15, 1876, aged 85. Nancy, wife of Benjamin WYNN, died June 29, 1879, aged 86.
The Walker Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church was organized as early as 1830 at the houses of the first members. About the same time this Church recieved a lot on which to build a house of worship. This lot adjoined the one on which school-house No. 4 stands, one mile northeast of the present Church. Until 1844 or 1845 the society worshipped in the school-house. This lot was then sold, and the proceeds applied in payment of the lot on which the chapel now stands. This church was built in 1845, and dedicated by the Rev. George W. WALKER, for whom the chapel was named. During the last three years of the civil war it enjoyed considerable prosperity. James T. FAUCETT and Henry CUBBERLY have contributed greatly to the advancement of this society. It is now next to Ebenezer in importance as an appointment on the circuit. George ALLHANDS was one of the early class-leaders, and services were held on his farm as early as 1818. Dr. Andrew KING and James STEPHENS owned the land on which the church stands, and also where the graveyard now is. Among the early members were: Caleb STEPHENS, Elisha LANDON, Jacob HANSEL, William ANTHONY, Mr. MACK, and Micajah ANTHONY, with their wives. Aaron POWERS was one of the first preachers.
Some inscriptions from tombstones in the graveyard read:
Charles CONE born September 12, 1797, died October 12, 1847. He was killed by lightning on the above date about six o'clock in the morning. Charles H. CONE, Co. E., 69th Regiment, O.V.I., died May 3, 1863, aged 21. Rufus CONE, Co. E., 69th Regiment, O.V.I., died August 3, 1865, aged 27. Jane, wife Harvey MILLER, died August 24, 1847, aged 62. William ANTHONY died November 18, 1839, aged 65. Fanny, wife of William ANTHONY, died March 13, 1835, aged 55. Another ANTHONY is John, who died February 27, 1870, aged 61. Julia Ann, wife of John ANTHONY, died January 2, 1851, aged 40. Henry C., son of John and Julia Ann ANTHONY, died April 9, 1863, aged 20. Hugh RUST died April 16, 1876, aged 67. William CREAGMILE died April 16, 1855, aged 68. Catharine S., wife of William CREAGMILE, died August 17, 1861, aged 56. Andrew KING, a native of Ireland, departed this life March 9, 1860, aged 67. Joseph KING, a native of Ireland, died January 26, 1858, in the 93rd year of his age. Rebecca, wife of Joseph KING, died January 2, 1864, aged 97. These two are the parents of a large posterity in this township. Grace, wife of Dr. Andrew KING, departed this life September 11, 1851, in the 53rd year of her age.
The Indian Creek Baptist Church was organized in 1810 three miles above Reily, at the house of John MORRIS or John BURKS. The land on which the house stands, and the ground where the graveyard is, consisting of three acres, was bought of Valentine CHASE for nine dollars. It is situated in the southeast quarter of Section 5. The first house was log, erected in 1812. The deed for land was made the same year. When this Church was organized there were twenty-two members. Among them were Abraham LEE and wife; John MORRIS, Sen.; John DURWESE and wife; John BURKE; Nicholas JONES; Joseph BRADY; Lot ABRAMS; and Abram JONES and wife. This Church was the result of a strong influence brought to bear upon the people by the Rev. Mr. TYNER, of Brookville, who preached here in 1809. TYNER was very illiterate. During the ministry of some of the early preachers the membership increased very fast. About one hundred accessions were made to the Church in eighteen months, under the preaching of Messrs. TYNER, THOMAS, and THOMPSON. The most united in one day were fourteen. ABRAHAM, THURSTON, and SPARKS were pioneer ministers; the latter claimed "that which a man loved was his God."
Benjamin MARTIN, who belonged to what was called the Two-seed Baptists, was a powerful preacher here in early times. Samuel BILLINGS was another pioneer minister; so also was Moses HORNADAY from near Harrison, Hamilton County. Judas SHIRK, Daniel ROBERSON, Mr. OLDHAM, Mr. CHILDERS, Daniel BRIANT, Joseph FLYNN, and John BRADY were all men of character, who held services here when the society was in a flourishing condition. There have been other preachers here, men of all grades and ages, who lived in other localities and who made it convenient to be here on stated occasions.
Since 1860 there have been no regular services in the church, at which date the Reily Village Baptist Church was erected. The old hewed-log house was torn down about 1830, when the second church, a brick, thirty by fifty feet, took its place the same year. The Reily Church had twenty-two members in 1860: John SMITH and wife; Joseph BRADY; John DURWESE and wife; Fanny ROLL; Maria ROLL; Almira CRUBAUGH; Rachel BARNUM, and others. This point of worship has preaching with considerable regularity; the Church is ministered to by the Rev. Mr. BEVIS, of Kentucky. From the old cemetery we have: Ephraim TUCKER died August 1, 1844, aged 74. Joseph BRADY, who was an early member of the Church, died December 17, 1860, aged 80. Sarah, wife of Joseph BRADY, died August 10, 1847, aged 62. Nicholas JONES died April 24, 1853, aged 73. Mary, wife of Nicholas JONES, died September 29, 1855, aged 70. Mary COLE died January 9, 1831, aged 99. Samuel THURSTON died March 23, 1823, aged 57. Hannah THURSTON died July 23, 1840, aged 68. Josiah DUNGAN, who was drowned in Indian Creek, June, 1821, aged 21. Philetus MUNSON died February 26, 1854, aged 63. Rebecca, wife of Philetus MUNSON, died February 5, 1869, aged 76. Abraham JONES born May 20, 1783; died July 2, 1863. Sarah, wife of Abraham JONES, died March 2, 1856, aged 66. Abraham LEE died April 29, 1858, aged 79. Eunice, wife of Abraham LEE, died February 25, 1861, aged 78. David WING died November 17, 1857, aged 86. Marcy, wife of David WING, died April 17, 1844, aged 75. Matthew RIGGS died February 25, 1836, aged 62. Mary, wife of Matthew RIGGS, died March 14, 1865, aged 76. Susanna E., wife of James URMSTON, born March 22, 1799; died August 7, 1837. Jonathan URMSTON died August 24, 1840; aged 50. Gideon WILKINSON departed this life January 26, 1842; aged 70. Abigail, wife of Gideon WILKINSON, who departed this life departed December 30, 1842; aged 64. Thomas BOONE born August 21, 1759; died February 6, 1831. Mr. BOONE was a relative of Colonel Daniel BOONE, the Kentuckian. Susanna BOONE, born April 12, 1756; died February 6, 1830. Reuben STATON died March 4, 1818; aged 42. Martha, wife of Reuben STATON, died January 15, 1834; in the 60th year of her age.
In the northwest corner of the yard are some of the first burials in the townships, as; Valentine CHASE, Sen., died August 20, 1815; aged 31. William BURCH died May 16, 1857; aged 68. In memory of George MISNER, who died January 13, 1835; aged 30.
In the Indian Creek Cemetery there are, perhaps, one hundred and seventy-five burials, mostly in the northeast corner of the yard, on the high ground. The oldest grave in the ground is undoubtedly that of the CHASE child.