A History and Biographical Cyclopaedia of Butler County, Ohio
Reily Township: Pages 413 - 417
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AUBURN, better known, perhaps, as Gandertown, is located in the corners of Ross, Morgan, Reily, and Hanover Townships. This village was never platted. It took the latter name because, when the first citizens lived here, there were a great many geese raised, and it is said that, like Bunker Hill, a furious quarrel took place over some wild gander, who strayed from one farmhouse to the other and disturbed the docility of the average goose. Of late years, however, the maps call the village Auburn, the name which is quite appropriate. There were some well-known citizens here in early times, as witness these: Maxwell ROSS in Hanover Township; James SALISBURY and James BRIDGE in Reily Township; James SALISBURY and John BLOOMFIELD in Morgan Township; John B. WILLIAMS and Michael BOWERMAN in Ross Township--all land owners. The first establishment of a public nature was an upright steam saw-mill, built by John W. OWNES about 1850. The old mill was afterwards sold to James WILLIAMS, who moved it to Millville and converted it into a still-house. Mr. OWNES built the present pump-factory as a mill some ten years later. These mills stood in Reily Township, on a branch of Double Lick, of Indian Creek. OWNES is a native of Wales, a wheelwright by trade.

The first school-building in this vicinity was a log house in Morgan Township, two hundred yards from the corner, up the creek. Alexander MARTIN was one, if not the only, teacher here. He is now a man sixty-five years of age. Another school-house occupied a site on the corner in the township of Hanover. This house was here in 1830; the school was taught by a woman. A school was once kept in Ross Township, in a log-house, taught by James BOYD.

Enoch BOND was the first storekeeper in the village, in a log-house on the Ross Township corner. Bond was from the East. The only store-house every built on the southwest corner was owned by David DAVIS, twenty-five years ago. Daniel CLEVINGER, James SIMMONS, John BALSER, Isaac WOODS, William PEARSON, John W. OWNES, David ROTHERMEL, were all storekeepers in a house on the Ross Township corner, except CLEVINGER, who kept in the BOND property. Mr. WOODS erected a store-house some thirty-five years ago, which is now standing. William SHULTZ carried on the saloon business, about fifteen years ago, in the brick house where James McCLOSKEY now lives. John STRAUB followed in the same house.

James BRIDGE was the first blacksmith in Auburn, in an old log shop which stood on the Hanover Township corner. Henry GARNER came next in the same shop, which was moved where it stands now. Then came Thomas APPLEGATE, on the same corner, but in a new shop. After APPLEGATE there was a William ROBERTS and Frederic ZILLYOX, the latter of whom is the present smith. Auburn has population of about fifty souls.

WOODS' STATION is a village of about one hundred people, named by Hiram PIERSON, a man of many fine parts, after John WOODS, the first president of the railroad. The place was never laid out. It is on the southwest corner of the northwest quarter of section twelve, and many years ago the locality was known as Rogersville.

David JONES entered the land on which the village stands. Jonas JONES, who assisted in locating the Hamilton Road to Brookville, was an early settler; so also was Jacob SWANK, a Pennsylvania Dutchman. Isaac LINDLEY was here also quite early. William COONCE, from Pennsylvania, lived south of the village, half a mile. Mr. CLEM, from Kentucky, lived close by in the northwest. John HANCOCK, from Kentucky, lived a short distance in the southeast. Hiram PIERSON bought the land on which the village rests, in 1856, of Jonas JONES, son of David JONES. The railroad was built in 1858. The station was established as soon as the railroad was built. The first citizen in the town proper was Hiram PIERSON, who was also the second storekeeper. L. D. HANCOCK was the first man who dealt out dry-goods and groceries to this people. George GARDNER followed PIERSON; then Taylor SALISBURY and Silas BALDWIN, the latter of whom, with GARDNER, is here at present. The first blacksmith was Jacob LEMMONS, followed by Thomas LOVE, Thomas APPLEGATE, and Henry JONES, the latter the present smith. There are about fifty citizens in the village.

OGLETON is a station in section two. Its name came from Alexander OGLE, an early settler in this part of Reily. This place has no significance except as a shipping point.

REILY was laid out by Pierson CONKLING, Joseph M. CONKLING, and Samuel GRAY, October 25, 1848. This village was situated, when first platted, in the southwest and southeast corners of sections fifteen and sixteen. From its natural surroundings it has always been of considerable importance in the county and township. Many years before the town was platted, there gathered here many of the early settlers to cast their votes and receive their mail. In 1830 Lewis ENYART owned land in the southwest quarter of section fifteen, and the northeast quarter of section twenty-one. Section sixteen was set aside for school purposes, and until within the last forty years was not owned by any person in particular. An early landholder on section twenty-two was Thomas BURKE. As the village now is, it is mostly in sections twenty-one and twenty-two--principally the latter. The northeast quarter of section No. 17 was entered by John MORRIS of Virginia in 1799. He settled here in 1801 or 1802, where he died in July 1840. Section No. 8, southeast quarter, was entered by a Mr. CROOK. Another man by the name of BOYER settled here very early. He was a furniture maker by trade, and did much of the work for the settlers. James STEPHENS and Samuel TUCKER built the stone house, known as the MORRIS homestead, in 1816 or 1817, which is now standing. Reily was begun on the east side of Indian Creek, where Colonel William STEPHENS cut the first timber in this vicinity preparatory to erecting cabins.

About this time David DICK built a grist and saw mill, where the present mill stands, and soon after added a carding machine. This mill, and the southwest quarter of section fifteen, was afterwards sold to Lewis ENYART who, about 1830, built a still-house, which stood a few rods north of the present post-office. ENYART rented his still-house to several persons, who divided the profits in proportion to the labor performed by each. In 1855 ENYART sold his mill to SAYRES & EGNEW; the still-house had in the meantime gone down. The mill passed form the above firm to William J. SALMON, who, in 1860, sold thirty-seven acres of land and the mill to J. P. HEIDLY and Thompson GRAY, the latter coming into full possession in September, 1867. David DICK must have built this mill about 1810 or 1812, since which time it has been constantly running, though often receiving repairs. The flouring department is run by an overshot wheel; the saw mill by an undershot wheel.

Another early settler was Ferdinand EVERHARDT, who was here in 1837 as a wagon-maker in the house where S. P. RIKER lives. He carried on his business here until a few years ago, when he died.

Felix CONKLING was here in 1833 engaged in tanning, in the west end, in a house now occupied by John WATKINS. A German followed Mr. WATKINS in the same house, but did not do as large a business as his predecessor. This tannery ran for twenty odd years.

E. H. GASTON came here in the spring of 1833, walking from Cincinnati. He began business by clerking for his brother, A. L. GASTON, in a store which he owned here at that time, remaining for several years. Afterwards he opened a store for himself. He was then chosen a justice of the peace, which office he filled for twelve years, and was a member of the Legislature. He died in February, 1876.

  • John HARPER was here fifty years ago in a log-house in the upper end of Reily on the old road. He died in the West. His brothers, Joseph, Thomas, and James, were men of considerable note. The most interesting bit of history connected with them, is that they killed five half-breed Indians on Fall Creek, Indiana, about 1818. Some of the HARPERS had previously been massacred by the Indians, and they took this means of avenging their brethren. After the Indians were killed the civil authorities offered a reward for the capture of the HARPERs, and one of the RIDGES, who gave his assistance, but they fled to Virginia. Here they were taken prisoner, but in time gained their liberty.

    John BURKE was another early resident in this vicinity. He owned a grist-mill one mile below town, which he ran for several years. He died in Dunlapsville, Indiana.

    M. B. and F. P. APPLEGATE were here in 1849 as wagon and buggy makers. They stayed for ten or fifteen years. The former is dead; the latter lives near Greensburg, Indiana.

    The Rev. A. B. GILLILAND was a cabinet-maker here fifty years ago. He is now a resident of Dayton, Ohio, and is about ninety years of age. GILLILAND was also one of the early residents of Venice, and was a pastor of the Bethel Presbyterian Church, living in the parsonage.

    Many years before the village was laid out, Samuel DAVIS kept tavern at the head of Main Street. Reily was then a great stopping-place for hog drivers, one of the most prominent being John MURPHY, who lived near Harrisburg, Indiana. James LARISON, a cooper by trade, kept tavern for five or six years, about 1844, where Henry SCHWARM now lives. Samuel DAVIS, a blacksmith, followed in the same house. After him came T. B. SMITH, Mr. SMALL, John W. FISKE, Mr. GILLILAND, John DINGFELDER, W. O. PIERSON, Charles SILVERLAKE, and Frederic HORSFIELD, the latter of whom is here at present.

    Harness-makers in Reily since 1840 have been Mrs. BARROT, on the corner near the bridge; John LINCH; Thomas H. SMITH, yet a resident; and L. C. ADDISON, who came here in 1847, and who still works at his trade.

    The oldest frame house in the village stands just below Thompson GRAY's residence, on the Millville Pike. It formerly stood on the southwest corner opposite ADDISON's harness shop, and was built by Mr. BURKE. A. L. GASTON built the store-house which stood by its side in 1835. Samuel GRAY removed the building to another part of his lot, and now uses it for various purposes in his business. The belief is that the first log-house in Reily stood near the GASTON store property.

    Early physicians who visited this part of the country came from Hamilton, Dr. Daniel MILLIKIN and Dr. GREENLEAF being among the number. Dr. COREY, of Millville, was a practitioner in this vicinity far back in the '20's and '30's. Dr. Andrew KING from Ireland was the first practicing physician in the northwestern corner of the township. He lived and died on a farm now owned by his son Samuel. Dr. KERR was a resident of Reily forty years ago. He afterwards removed to the West. He was followed by Dr. GILCHRIST (who studied medicine with Dr. JAMES, of Indiana, above Scipio), who practiced here for fifteen years. Dr. GILCHRIST removed to Oxford, where he died. Dr. HAMER came next; he went from here to New London and then to Venice. He is now a resident of Denver, Colorado, engaged as a real estate agent. Dr. James N. ROBERSON came here in 1866, since which time he has remained. He had for his partner J. W. BELL, a son of 'Squire BELL, of Morgan Township, who, after remaining four years, removed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1880. Dr. DILL is now with Dr. ROBERSON, who came here in 1881. Dr. BORGER came here in 1876 from Prince William's Village, Carroll County, Indiana. Previous to locating in Reily he had practiced eight years. Dr. John TREMBLY, who lives two miles east of the village, was an early physician in this section. He now does little with his profession except in very urgent cases. Reily has three resident physicians.

    The mechanic arts in Reily have always been carried on successfully. In 1830 John MILLER was here in a log blacksmith shop opposite the tavern. Samuel DAVIS was here in 1835 in a shop above the hotel on the side hill, which land he owned at that time. James BRIDGE carried on blacksmithing in 1840 near the Presbyterian Church. Thompson GRAY took up his residence in Reily in May, 1843. He began as a blacksmith in a shop built by DAVIS on the bank of Indian Creek. He has now been here thirty-nine years. In the meantime there have been Hugh ROLL, who learned his trade with DAVIS, George HUBER, and William SASHER--the latter here in 1882.

    A. L. GASTON was the first storekeeper in the village. His store was on the east side of Indian Creek one hundred yards above DICK's mill. He was here in 1828 or 1830. The frame house is now gone. Moses BURKE carried on the same business at the GASTON store for two or three years. A. G. SMITH was here from 1838-43 in a house where the tavern now stands. The old store-house is now between the tavern and the stable. GASTON, PIERSON & CLARK were store-keepers here in the SMITH property for some time; followed by GASTON & T. B. SMITH. After Samuel GRAY, on the corner near the bridge, came Amos SMITH and Arthur GRAY. The storekeepers at present are John A. LESLEY, King CARSON, N. URMSTON & Son.

    Saloon-keepers are Frank HORSFIELD and John BAKER, the latter also having a meat-store. There are two shoemakers, John GABLE and John WUNDER. There is one tailor, J. W. FRAZEE; and one undertaker, S. P. RIKER. A woodworking shop is kept by William LUTES. Two sawmills are here, one kept by VAN AUSDALL, WYNESCOPP, LITTLE & Bros., on the west side of the creek, and J. P. HEIDLEY has another in connection with his gristmill. There is also a portable saw-mill below the schoolhouse owned by DENEEN & STIMAN.

    The first school-house in the vicinity of Reily stood on the west of the pike leading to the State line, in the upper end of the village, on a piece of land now in a pasture-field. Some remnants of the old house are yet to be seen. This house was there more than seventy years ago; it was used for some time. The first school-house in the village proper was erected in 1839, on land sold to the authorities by PIERSON and Joseph M. CONKLING and wives. The front part of the house was built first. It is brick, and stands opposite FRAZEE's tailorshop. After a number of years of use the house was found to be too small; hence, in 1860 or thereabouts, an addition was made to it. James B. KING was director at this time, and took much interest in the affair. KING had previously been a member of Legislature. On the 19th of November 1877, school opened in the new building, which cost about three thousand dollars. The one acre land, on part of which the house stands, was bought of Samuel GRAY. There are two rooms in the new school-building.

    Some of the persons who have taught school in Reily are: A. W. MARTIN; Thomas W. LAWRENCE, the latter here in 1853; W. BURGET; Joseph C. SNOW in 1857, who also was an excellent preceptor; W. BARTLOW; Mr. SHEELY; D. BASSETT; Mr. SNOW in 1859, a brother of J. C. SNOW; William SALMON, in 1854, who afterwards went to California, and who had Emily O. CUMBACK for assistant; Alexander KING in 1855; Doctor J. M. TREMBLY in 1857; F. A. COLEMAN in 1855; besides Mary Ann HOWELS, daughter of Rev. M. HOWELS; Lucretia JONES, and others.

    Among the scholars of Thomas W. LAWRENCE, in 1853, were John DINGFELLOW; Albert, John, and Lafayette SWEATMAN; Alonzo KERR, David REES, James OXLEY, Francis GILLILAND, Hannah LITTLE, Sarah E. DAVIS, Harriet GASTON, Lucy SMITH, Mary BURKE, and Martha KING. In 1853 there was an enrollment of eighty-two scholars.

    The Reily Presbyterian Church was organized in April, 1836, with thirty-six members. It was a scion from Bethel, the most powerful religious organization of its faith in this part of the county. The house, made of brick, in which the congregation now worship, was built in 1840. Forty-six years after its organization the membership numbers one hundred. Among the ministers have been A. B. GILLILAND, J. S. WEAVER, E. HOWELL, T. E. HUGHES, C. H. RAYMOND, J. DeLAMATER, and D. H. GREEN. This Church, since its organization, has been in a prosperous state. There is a neat parsonage near the church. A good Sunday-school is maintained and well supported.

    Reily Odd Fellows, Lodge No. 332, was instituted November 12, 1857, at St. Charles. Some of the charter members were John & Silas STEWART, brothers, and George W. ROBERTS. This lodge continued at St. Charles until 1876 or 1877, when, on account of the inconvenience to members, it was brought to Reily. The society built a lodge here in 1876, and the next year it burned down. This hall cost about seven hundred dollars, and was over Benjamin F. SAYRE's store-room. After the loss occasioned by the fire the lodge bought the lot on which the store stood, and erected te present frame, costing about one thousand dollars. There are now about fifty active members. No. 332 was instituted by William CHIDSEY, of Cincinnati, now grand secretary of Ohio.

    The Knights of Honor Lodge was instituted March 30, 1881, with the following members: B. F. SAYRES, John MANSOD, Doctor D. D. BORGER, J. T. LITTLE, J. N. CARSON, J. A. LASLEY, J. P. VAN AUSDALL, George FEIGHTER, John GABLE, H. E. WYNECOPP, Frederic HORSFIELD, Henry SCHWARM, Morris HAMER, George HUBER, Walter DeCAMP, W. G. EVERSON, William THOMPSON, W. G. RAGSDILL, Amos C. VANLUE, Calvin E. DENEEN, A. W. DENEEN, Noah S. SAYRES, Gideon STROUD, William M. SASHER, P. J. B. WELLIVER, John VANNESS, Charles URMSTON, J. W. WHITEHILL and J. T. BARTLOW. Mr. B. F. SAYRES met his death by accident November 15, 1881. Meetings are held in the Odd Fellows' hall the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month. The first officers of this lodge were Doctor D. D. BORGER, P. D.; W. G. EVERSON, D.; Walter DeCAMP, V.D.; W. J. RAGSDILL, assistant D.; J. P. VAN AUSDALL, representative; P. J. V. WELLIVER, F.R.; F. HORSFIELD, treasurer. This society has thirty odd members, and is in a flourishing condition.

    There was a Grange society organized in Reily several years ago. It is now dead.

    The Reily Cemetery gives these inscriptions: Elder Jonas ROBERSON born January 27, 1800; died May 11, 1874. Nancy, his wife, born November 28, 1804; died March 16, 1870. Hannah, wife of B. F. SAYRES, died May 28, 1877; aged 52. George BOWMAN died March 6, 1876; aged 64. Elias SAYRES, died October 6, 1867; aged 66. Amanda, wife of John F. WARD, born June 25, 1829; died September 13, 1877. Sarah J. WARD born April 5, 1839; died February 4, 1856. George W. VAN AUSDALL born November 17, 1803; died August 15, 1876. Matthew WELLIVER, died January 6, 1879; aged 69. Aaron H. DAVIS, died February 14, 1872; aged 57. Sarah Ann, wife of Aaron H. DAVIS, died April 20, 1879; aged 59. Cynthia A., wife of William STEPHENS, born June 8, 1806; died October 12, 1864. A fine monument marks the resting-place of Joseph SMITH, who was born January 20, 1806, and died January 1, 1881. Abigail SMITH, his wife, was born October 5, 1812. Another very fine monument says: Elizabeth, wife of John ABBOTT, died March 18, 1857; aged 47. Also, Margaret, wife of John ABBOTT, who died July 27, 1880; aged 71. Elizabeth, wife of William SMITH, died June 18, 1859; aged 90. James JOHNSON, born December 1, 1808; died February 4, 1875. From a handsome monument: J. D. SMITH, died April 30, 1877; aged 75. Susan, wife of J. D. SMITH, died October 2, 1837; aged 33. Elizabeth, wife of J. D. SMITH, died August 1, 1877; aged 58.

    This burying-ground is comparatively new, and there are but few old burials in it. Every thing about the yard is neat and orderly.

    In early times the townships of Reily, Hanover, and Oxford--the uplands near the heads of the creeks--were covered by large ponds of water. There were hundreds of acres entirely useless, except that large quantities of wild geese and ducks made these grounds their resort. The excessive timber prevented the water from running off. There were immense thickets of wild gooseberry bushes, patches of briars which covered three or four acres, and plenty of wild currants. Above the Baptist Church, on Indian Creek one mile and a half, there were twenty acres of wild black currants, "which were much better," so the old settlers say, "than our common white currants." Crab apples abounded; also wild onions. Colonel William STEVENS says an "oak tree, seven feet in diameter, above his father's house, turned out fifteen 'coons at a single catch." Foxes, ground-hogs, opossums, and squirrels abounded. Game was always fat. Sugar making was carried on very extensively by the settlers. Camps were opened wherever a good opportunity presented itself, regardless, in many cases, of its location. The general price for sugar previous to the war of 1812, was about three cents per pound. After the war, the price rose to twelve and a half cents per pound, many of the pioneers making handsome profits thereby. The last bear seen in Reily Township was in the northeast corner of section six, in 1809. In 1815 Brumfield BOONE killed one of the largest panthers ever seen in Butler County, on a farm then owned by John BOONE, his father. The farm is now owned by the VANNESS heirs. The animal measured seven feet from tip to tip. People came from all directions to see it, and its skin was kept a good while in the neighborhood. There were dozens of cooper-shops in Reily Township at an early day. One of the oldest dwelling houses in Reily Township is on section four, north of the road fifteen rods, running through the center of the section. It was built by David WING, in 1810. It is now occupied and owned by Rodney DONHAM, who was born August 30, 1806, on the Island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. He came with his father's family to the south side of section six, this township in 1809, on the 22nd of June.

    Robert MOORE was born in 1815, in Hanover Township, on section No. 22. He has engaged in carpentering most of his life, going from place to place throughout the county, erecting buildings. He is a man who owns considerable real estate and is a person of umblemished character. After 1837 he owned the mill which stood on Indian Creek, near where he lives. In 1861 this mill ceased to run.

    Owen DAVIS, one of the pioneer settlers of Reily Township, took up his residence in the southeast quarter of section twenty, in 1811. For his wife he married Mary, daughter of John SMITH, in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, June, 1807. Mrs. DAVIS was born December 27, 1789, in the same county where she married. This marriage resulted in a family of ten children: John, born 1808, in Fayette County, Pennsylvania--dead; Rebecca, who married Samuel DAVIS, born 1810, died in Butler County; Philip, born 1812, died in Indiana; Aaron, born 1814, died in this county; Owen, born 1816--dead; Hannah, who married Henry THOMPSON, born 1819, and lives near Reily; Charles, born 1821, unmarried, and living in California; Mary J. who married Andrew MANN, born 1824, died in Butler County in 1850; Rhoda, who married Allen LARISON, born 1827, died in this county; Ezra, born 1830, living near Reily. John SMITH, Mrs. DAVIS's father, came to this county in 1816, and settled where the DAVISes now live in this township. He was an active soldier in the Revolution. Owen DAVIS, Sen., was in the war of 1812, his wife being left with four small children to care for in a cabin in the woods of the then thinly settled community. Charles DAVIS, one of the sons, was a soldier in the Mexican War.

    The following is a list of the postmasters of Reily Township:
    Bunker Hill.-- William R. PIERSON, January 21, 1852; Obadiah WELLIVER, May 15, 1860; Jacob M. TREMBLY, January 31, 1863; discontinued June 13, 1863; re-established July 10, 1863; John DOYLE, July 10, 1863; Charles C. CRAWFORD, July 9, 1866; William H. BURGETT, December 21, 1868; Rooney DUNHAM, May 19, 1869; discontinued April 13, 1869; re-established January 26, 1876; Benjamin WYNN, January 26, 1876; Robert F. STEAD, March 31, 1879; James A. MOORE, November 7, 1881.

    Philanthropy.-- William D. JONES, February 15, 1823; James BEARD, June 4, 1836; J. A. APPLEGATE, May 29, 1839; Isaac H. PIERSON, December 11, 1840; James W. FE, July 16, 1850; Aaron McGAUGHEY, February 27, 1852; Abraham BOYD, June 27, 1853; Lewis W. MILLER, June 3, 1854; Joseph A. SMITH, February 10, 1857; William R. MERCER, January 16, 1861; Peter DeARMONT, December 9, 1862; Francis M. ABRAHAM, February 28, 1868; William R. MERCER, March 10, 1868; John BEARD, January 20, 1869; Peter DeARMONT, February 22, 1869; Abram B. HODSON, March 17, 1871; John L. PHILLIS, December 22, 1879; Frederick W. OLIVER, May 16, 1879.

    Reily.-- Obadiah WELLIVER, December 31, 1825; Augustus L. GASTON, October 21, 1830; Elias H. GASTON, June 16, 1840; Samuel GRAY, October 2, 1849; Joseph W. FRAZEE, April 27, 1854; James ROBERSON, March 15, 1858; Freeman P. APPLEGATE, April 15, 1862; Samuel GRAY, April 20, 1863; Danforth B. THOMPSON, May 17, 1866; John N. CARSON, May 31, 1867; Henry C. GRAY, April 8, 1869; Samuel GRAY, January 24, 1870; Nelson URMSTON, May 26, 1876; John W. CORSON, November 22, 1880.

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