A History and Biographical Cyclopaedia of Butler County, Ohio
Ross Township: Pages 450 - 454
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This township originally embraced all of what is now Morgan as well as its present territory. It was organized in 1803, forming one of the original subdivisions of the county. Morgan Township was struck off of the west end in 1811. There are in its limits 19,496 acres. The population of the township in 1820 was sixteen hundred and sixty-five; 1830, seventeen hundred and forty-five; 1840, fifteen hundred and twenty-six. Since its organization up to 1844, the following persons have been justices of the peace; their names will also show to a very great extent who the prominent early settlers were:

In 1803, William MITCHELL; 1805, Maxwell PARKINSON; 1806, William MITCHELL; 1807, Emanuel VANTREES and William SMITH; 1808, George ISAMINGER and Maxwell PARKINSON; 1810, Robert SMITH; 1811, John DUNN; 1812, William D. JONES; 1814, John DUNN; 1815, William D. JONES; 1816, John MCCLOSKEY; 1817, Robert ANDERSON; 1818, John KNOX; 1818, Nehemiah WADE and John MCCLOSKEY; 1821, John KNOX; 1822 same; 1824, James COMSTOCK; 1825, Isaac MORRIS, John MCCLOSKEY; 1827, James COMSTOCK; 1828, James HILL and John MCCLOSKEY; 1830 James COMSTOCK; 1831, Griffin HALSTEAD and James HILL; 1832, Allen FULLER; 1834, Samuel B. DEMORET and Abraham BERCAW; 1835, Fergus ANDERSON; 1836, Isaac ANDERSON; 1837, James HILL and William RAY; 1838, William J. ELLIOTT; 1840, James HILL, William RAY, and Enoch LARISON; 1841, William J. ELLIOTT; 1843, James HILL and Jonathan KILBOURN. After 1844 they were Griffin HALSTEAD, Elijah BUTTERFIELD, William C. WOODRUFF, Alex. J. LUTES, Michael HAWK, A. G. MCKEON, Robert JOYCE, Reily GORDON, Daniel BROWN, Jr., B. F. BEDINGER, John R. BROWN, Robert GOSHORN, Andrew JOYCE, Samuel GILLESPIE, John F. BEAL, C. F. THORMIN, A. H. CONE, John LANDERMAN.

For the most part the township is rolling. All that portion of the township lying east of Indian Creek is well adapted to farming. The general elevation is about seventy-five feet above the river. Sections 1 and 12 are quite rugged. The greater part of the remaining township is elevated above the Miami from one to two hundred feet. A range of hills extends almost the whole distance from Layhigh to the south side of the county.

Indian Creek is the principal stream, which flows diagonally from north-west to south-east, but which in some places has a southerly course. This stream takes its name from the fact that away back in "ye olden days" the Indians camped on its banks a good deal. There are no tributaries flowing into Indian Creek of any considerable size in this township. Zeigler's Run, however, unites with it a short distance below Millville. In the south-west, Dry Run, which heads near Layhigh, flows in a south-easterly direction and empties into the Miami. This stream takes its name because it is dry most of the time at its mouth. It is spanned in several places by good bridges. Paddy's Run enters the township about one mile and a quarter from the county line, flowing directly south, emptying into the Miami one mile below New Baltimore, in Hamilton County.

The soil along these streams is exceedingly fertile. On both sides of Indian Creek large bottoms spread out, which in the Summer months form a beautiful landscape. The bottoms of Paddy's Run are of less importance. Dry Run has some fine land which borders it. Along the Miami the soil is very fertile, being composed of a rich alluvial loam.

Ross Township was rich in the original growth of her timber. Poplar, oak, buckeye, ash, walnut, sycamore, hickory, wild cherry, gum, sugar-tree sassafras, and dogwood grew spontaneously. A very large portion of the cheek and river bottoms were covered with spice and hazel bushes, wild gooseberry bushes, black currants, which in some places spread over several acres, pawpaw bushes, wild onions, pea-vines, thistles, briers, burrs and weeds. This growth was so dense in some places as to make it impassable. And here lived all manner of game. The hunter liked best of all the deer or wild turkey. Both abounded here in the beginning of this century. Along the Miami, wild geese and brant, as well as ducks and other water-fowl, lived by the thousands. In the woods were pheasants, quails, squirrels, foxes, wolves, and all their neighbors. It was the general custom of the people for many years to spend a portion of every Fall in hunting. The Miami was full of fish, immense quantities of which were taken in nets or drag seines made of brush.


The most prominent of all the early roads was the Trace road, passing through Layhigh and on to the Miami, much as the road now does. Another road, which was of considerable note, is now the Venice and Millville road. Paddy's Run road ran from Hamilton to New London. The road as it now is passes over pretty much the same road-bed. The Lawrenceburg and Columbus, or State road, leading from the former of these places in Indiana to the capital of Ohio, was in constant use in 1811. It followed the ridges so as to prevent cuts--a plan the early surveyors often used to great advantage in locating highways through a new country. In 1808 there were very few houses between Millville and Hamilton. One stood where Robert DICK now lives. Another was known as SUTHERLAND's, on the upper road or pike, and stood where the toll-gate now is. Both of these houses are standing.

The Jackson School District, No. 2, began with a log-house in 1811, which stood near where Joseph TIMBERMAN now resides. About 1820 the district proper had its beginning in a second log-house on the hill. In 1873 a third house was built by John TIMBERMAN, a good brick, which is now in use. Among the scholars of the 1820 house were John and Peggy MAZE. William HARMEY was one of the teachers.

Among the first voting precincts in Ross Township was Judge KNOX's near the bank of Indian Creek, one mile above the iron bridge. This place of voting was in existence from 1820 to 1835. A man by the name of SMITH was an early settler in this region, and owned the farm on which Judge KNOX afterwards lived. Smith had a still-house here.

In 1811 Thomas MOOREHEAD opened for his family a burying-ground on the east side of Indian Creek, one mile below Millville. This place of interment was among the first in the township. The yard is now overgrown with briers and bushes. There is another very old yard on the farm now owned by Mr. HOOVER, of Venice, on the left bank of Indian Creek, near the Miami, which was established in the year 1811. This yard is now in a very bad condition--without fences, overgrown with briers, bushes, and left to take care of itself, apparently.

One of the first blacksmiths in Ross carried on his business near the iron bridge over Indian Creek. He was soon followed by another, on the hill one mile above, on the State road.

Christopher TIMBERMAN was an early mechanic in the neighborhood of School District No. 2, in 1811. He was a native of Pennsylvania, coming here from Tennessee; and during his life, which ended at eighty-eight years, made many spinning-wheels, chairs, bedsteads, and such like for the people of this valley. He is buried at the MOOREHEAD grave-yard. His son, Christopher, died at the age of eighty-seven years.

Many fine farms now in this township were paid for with money made in manufacturing whisky. There was no disgrace attached to its manufacture. Two men by the name of SAYRES and AVERY, of Cincinnati, entered the western half of Section 15, and bought enough more to reach four hundred acres in 1810, or thereabouts, and erected a still-house. This distillery was afterwards rented by Andrew LINTNER, who worked it for a while.

Matthew TIMBERMAN was a distiller in the township in 1815, where Andrew TIMBERMAN now lives. When this establishment first began the manufacture of whisky, their corn was ground at Dick's mill, on the Miami, and Van Horne's mill, at Millville. After several years, the profits were found to be much larger if the corn was ground at home; hence the change was made. The whisky was hauled to Cincinnati in four and six horse wagons, and often with as many oxen, though the latter were not so easily managed, especially during "fly-time."

James COMSTOCK carried on distilling on Dry Run, above Venice, from 1820 to 1840. Joseph VAN HORNE had a still-house in Millville about 1818. The distillery was superintended by Mr. WILCOX. This establishment continued for about twenty-five years. Basler GAILEY's still-house on the WICKARD farm, now owned by the heirs of John CRAWFORD, was in operation in 1831. There were other and more prominent establishments scattered throughout the township.

About 1840 Samuel DICK built a grist and saw mill, one mile below Millville, on Indian Creek. This mill was burned in a few years. The sawing department was rebuilt by DICK. The grinding department continued for a dozen or fifteen years. Captain Michael HAWK afterwards owned the mill. Jacob SHAFER was the head miller under HAWK.

Judge John DUNN was an early settler on Indian Creek, near the wooden bridge which crosses the stream. He was here in 1811. He entered a large tract of land in this vicinity, which he sold out to those who followed. Near Andrew TIMBERMAN's an old settler lived by the name of William MORRIS. Daniel RUMPLE, from one of the Carolinas, bought out John ELLIOTT (who removed to the country of the Wabash), and took up his residence in the eastern side of the township at an early day.

It would be a difficult matter for a writer of local history to tell which of the two Mills, VAN HORNE's at Melville, or DICK's at or near Venice, has been the most serviceable to the country at large. Both were built about the same time, the former in 1805 by Joel WILLIAMS, and the latter by Jacob HYDE. The first mill at DICK's was of round hickory logs, and contained what was known as a corn-cracker for the grinding machinery. Some five or six years after the mill was built it passed into the hands of Samuel BAXTER. About 1812 Samuel DICK, Sen., and his son, George, purchased the property and erected the first frame the same year. This house was forty by forty feet and three stories high. Samuel DICK in the course of time released his interest in favor of his son, George. The property remained in his family until 1856. In 1848 one of the sons of George DICK, Samuel, Jr., erected the present frame, forty by forty-five feet, and three stories high. Samuel DICK, a brother of George DICK, and his son, G. W. DICK, bought the property in 1856. About 1875 G. W. DICK, the present owner, came into possession of the property since which time the mill has been actively at work.

There have been many changes in the mill since it was built at this site three-quarters of a century ago. For many years the extensive and productive country which surrounds it has called here to have its wheat, corn, and buckwheat ground. For many years there has also been a good saw-mill in continual use. The site is admirably adapted to a successful business.

Dick's mill was for a good many years used as a post-office. The original ford for the entire north-western part of the county, and a large area of country in Indiana, made Dick's Ford a crossing-point. The Legislature, in the year 1830, passed a law to incorporate the Venice and Colerain Bridge Company, and gave Enoch BOND, Giles RICHARDS, James COMSTOCK, Albin SHAW, Isaac ANDERSON, and Nehemiah WADE power to erect and build a toll-bridge across the Miami at or near Venice. Immediately after the bridge was erected, which was, no doubt, in 1824 and 1825, the ford ceased to be used except for very ordinary purposes.


Venice was laid out by Dr. Benjamin CLARK, February 1, 1817. The founder of this place called it "Venus" because it was so pleasantly situated, having beautiful surroundings, and well located for rapid and mature growth. Clark, however, laid out only the western half of the village, his east line extending as far as where the Layhigh road now is. The eastern part of the town is mostly additions made by various men at different times. Dr. CLARK gave an acre of ground, when the town was platted, for burial purposes. This ground was located immediately opposite the Presbyterian church, just north of the Odd Fellows' Hall.

Dr. John WOODS was an early resident of "Venus." He practiced medicine throughout the country. Dr. CLARK was also active in the same profession. Dr. WOODS lived in the house now occupied by Frank OCHS. Daniel HAWK took up his residence in the village more than fifty years ago. He has remained here most of the time since; but was born on Indian Creed, above Millville. The BUTTERFIELDs and SHAWs were here very early; also the BOALs and Daniel HALDEMAN. In 1816 Isaac LUTES was a blacksmith near Dick's mill near where his son Alexander now resides. LUTES was the only blacksmith ever at this point. James COMSTOCK built the store now occupied by MOOREHEAD, which is one of the oldest houses in town, about 1820. COMSTOCK was a justice of the peace for several years. He sold out his property and removed to the West. Enoch VAUGHN was here as a store-keeper in the COMSTOCK house many years ago. Jonathan KILBURN was engaged in the same business as early as 1830. Thomas and Anderson BOAL were here engaged in mercantile pursuits in 1850. Dr. WOODS was a successful tavern-keeper in his time. Lloyd REESE was here in a similar occupation in 1840, in the house now occupied by OCHS. REESE is now a resident of Kansas. Allen FULLER carried on the same business in "Venus" not less than a quarter of a century since. William HUXFORD and his son Charles were probably the first blacksmiths in the village. CAMPBELL, ANDREWS, and David TIMBERMAN were also here quite early. James HANNAH succeeded HUXFORD. One of the most permanent of all the blacksmiths who have made Venice a place of business is Thomas JOYCE.

When the public lands were first offered for sale in Cincinnati, in 1801, James BUTTERFIELD, an enterprising young man from Massachusetts, who had shortly before come to what was then Fort Washington, and who had assisted Colonel LUDLOW to run the boundary line between the United States and the Indian tribes, formed a company with Esquire SHAW and his son Alvin, Asa HARVEY, and Noah WILLEY to make investments in lands. They bought at the first sales two full sections, and as many fractional sections, beginning at the mouth of Indian Creek and extending down the river for about two miles. This land is now under a fine state of cultivation, and dotted with splendid residences. A small part of it is now occupied by the village of Venice. In order to secure it the company bid ten cents per acre above the minimum price. The six owners then divided the land, under a survey made by Emanuel VANTREES. Each had a front on the river, something quite essential in those days of flat-boats and still-houses. Mr. BUTTERFIELD obtained eight hundred acres, partly in Butler and partly in Hamilton Counties. He fixed his residence near where Venice is now located.

The Masonic society of Venice was instituted as early as 1832. Among the charter members were William TURNER, now of Harrison, Ohio, engaged as a tailor; Ephraim BUELL, father of D. C. BUELL, a prominent citizen of New Haven, Hamilton County; Sherebiah BUTTERFIELD, now living near Dayton; and William CONE, now living on the Miami below the town, near the ancient site of Crosby village. In 1839, or thereabouts, the charter was revoked on account of the decrease in the membership. Some twenty-five years ago it was returned, since which time the lodge has been in a prosperous condition. The first place of holding meetings was in a house rented of Ephraim BUELL, which stood on the pike leading to the bridge. About 1853 the society erected their present hall, a frame building two stories high, valued at about $600.

Venice has had many temperance societies. In 1848 an organization was formed known as the Sons of Temperance. Their meetings were held in the Masonic hall. This hall is now occupied by the Widow FESEL as a dwelling-house. The most prominent members were William CONE, Adam CUMMINGS, A. H. CONE, Isaac FROST, and John HUTCHINSON. Venice is now favored with three saloons, and there are yet many opportunities for temperance work.

Venice Odd Fellows' Lodge was organized in July, 1871. The charter dates the 15th of the same month, and was received a few days before the hall was completed. This society was organized at the house of John HUTCHINSON. The hall was completed the same year the lodge was organized, costing $800, being an addition over a room now occupied by T. JOYCE as a wagon-maker's shop. The first officers of this lodge were John HUTCHINSON, N. G.; Dr. F. B. MORRIS, V.G.; Thomas POTTENGER, Treas.; J. MOORE, P. Sect.; J. BEVINGTON, Sect. The other members were A. STRUBEL AND S. BEVINGTON.

Venice Cemetery had its beginning in 1817, when Dr. CLARK gave one acre of land immediately north of the Odd Fellows' hall, but which was soon exchanged, by a proposition from the members of the Bethel Presbyterian Church, for one acre on the south side of the present cemetery. This exchange was made because the original site was thought less favorable for burial purposes. The intention was that deeds should be given by both parties, but after twenty-one years of occupancy the CLARK heirs claimed and received the intended original ground. The acre on the hill had an addition of three acres within a few years. There are now five acres in the ground. Every thing is in keeping with taste and durability. We take these inscriptions from the tombstones; they will serve to open up many fields of biographical history:

John VAN AUSDALL departed this life April 4, 1835; aged 29. Margaret, wife of David VAN AUSDALL, departed this life April 24, 1837; aged 29. Permelia, wife of Daniel BROWN, died August 10, 1834; aged 31. Doctor Benjamin CLARK, died June 22, 1826; aged 57. Elizabeth, wife of Doctor Benjamin CLARK, died February 15, 1861, aged 77. Alvira, daughter of Doctor CLARK, born October 15, 1824; died March 7, 1868. Nicholas DEMORET, died April 22, 1826, aged 65. Lydia, wife of King DE ARMOND, formerly wife of Nicholas DEMORET, died February 2, 1867; aged 93. In memory of Silence BENNET, who died February 28, 1830; aged 81. John SHAW, died January 26, 1834; aged 58. Lemuel HUNGERFORD, died February 21, 1846, in the 85th year of his age. Abigail HUNGERFORD, died January 27, 1842; aged 81. Martin BUSSEUR, died July 15, 1834; aged 51. Mary PATTON, wife of John BROWN, departed this life April 24, 1846; aged 90. Sacred to the memory of Rev. Thomas THOMAS, who departed this life October 9, 1851; aged 51. Rev. Mr. THOMAS was the first pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Venice, organized in 1828. He came from New London. Rebecca Maria, wife of C. W. PRATHER, M. D., and daughter of A. and R. BRICKHEAD, of Virginia, departed this life February 26, 1840; aged 19. William S. VAN DYKE departed this life December 21, 1836; aged 29. Peter TIMBERMAN, a man of well-known family, died October 22, 1856, in the 57th year of his age. Joseph R. CORYELL, died October 11, 1843; aged 42. Charity CORYELL, died March 24, 1839; aged 68. Sacred to the memory of George CORYELL, who died April 22, 1836, aged 72. David MCCLEERY, born December 12, 1776; died November 11, 1833. Isabella MCCLEERY, born January 21, 1789; died March 21, 1830. Mary, wife of Fergus ANDERSON, born October 5, 1800; died October 4, 1859. N. WADE, born August 19, 1798; died July 24, 1879. Jane, wife of Nehemiah WADE, born August 6, 1791; died November 25, 1865. Horace WILLEY, born February 13, 1792; died March 3, 1880. Anna, wife of Horace WILLEY, born June 6, 1792; died January 7, 1879. Bradbury CILLEY, born May 16, 1798; died July 19, 1874. Mr. CILLEY was one of the wealthiest citizens of Colerain Township at the time of his death.

From the Butterfield private burying-ground, one-quarter of a mile below Venice, on the New Haven road, we take:

Sarah B., wife of Jonathan PATTERSON, who died February 26, 1826; aged 21. Mary, wife of Jeremiah BUTTERFIELD, died June 27, 1853; aged 77. Nathaniel BUTTERFIELD, died October 11, 1857; aged 44. Mary, wife of S. A. BUTTERFIELD, died December 20, 1872; aged 66.


About the year 1814, the BUTTERFIELDs, SHAWs, WILLEYs, and others gathered in the woods to build a school-house on the lot now occupied by I. R. ANDERSON's dwelling. The house, a log building, was twenty by twenty feet, with puncheon floor, stone fire-place, board door and wooden hinges, writing desks made by placing long boards on slanting pins put in the logs, slab seats, windows which extended the whole length of the house, and other fixtures common with early educational institutions. The logs of the house were round hackberry. Mr. ANDERSON, one of the first teachers, was a strict disciplinarian. Many stories of his eccentricities are told by his scholars, a few of whom are still living. The Rev. Mr. GOBLE, a New Light minister, preached a number of times to the early residents of Venice and vicinity in this old log building. In 1820 Mr. SWAIN taught a high school in a little house which stood on the lot now owned by Thomas JOYCE. This school was generally known as the Advanced School, grammar, arithmetic, and some higher branches being taught. About six or seven years after the first house was built it was destroyed by fire. The school was then taken to a log cabin on the lot now occupied by Andrew VOIGT's house.

In 1824 a society was chartered for religious and literary purposes, to which Isaac LUTES deeded one acre of land where the Presbyterian church now stands. This lot extended to the Hamilton and Cincinnati road, and was only given with the consideration that Dr. Frank CLARK should deed a like amount for burial purposes where Thomas JOYCE's wagon shop now is. About this time it appears that a small brick church was built on a small triangular lot, a short distance south-east of the Presbyterian church.

In the erection of the second school-house, in 1825, a great deal of dissatisfaction was experienced in consequence of the grants of land which had been made by LUTES and SHAW. John SHAW, an old bachelor, gave as an addition to Mr. LUTE's lot, one half acre more. This house, a one-story brick, with raised floors on each side and sunken middle for classes, stood on the lot now occupied by Thomas BOAL's residence. The second school-house, proper, was considered a model in its day. It was twenty-five by thirty feet, four windows on each side, one in the front end, and with two large fire-places. A double door, which swung on iron hinges, in the south-east corner of the room, furnished the means of entrance. School was held in this house until 1850; there were also frequently religious meetings in it.

When the old house began to grow too small for school purposes, the directors began to cast about for a new building. To avoid any trouble about the title of the land upon which the house was to stand, an additional lot was bought of Mr. PATTON, who gave a deed of it to the school board. This lot was in the rear of the old building, and the new house erected partly upon it is still standing behind Thomas BOAL's residence. The house is thirty by forty-five feet, one-story, two rooms, two doors fronting on the Hamilton Pike, with playground in front. The lot is claimed by the Union Religious Society.

In the fourth building (counting the log-cabin one, after the first house was destroyed by fire) school was held until 1875, when the Union school-house was built.

"The district was growing too large for two rooms, and the Venice district proposed to the district north to consolidate the two under an independent high school district." The vote was in favor of consolidating, but not to be independent. A site for the new building next engaged the attention of the directors and those interested in the enterprise. This became a serious question. One faction wanted to use the old lot, but the same old objection was urged. It was finally decided to sell the old lot, the purchaser to take risks as to the title. The lot sold for four hundred and fifty dollars, and the church and school joined in making the deed good. A site was subsequently selected, one-half mile north, where two acres had been bought, one acre each from Judge WADE and Jeremiah MORGAN, at two hundred dollars per acre. The township board of education granted eight thousand dollars for the erection of the building, and thus, in 1875, under the efforts of George W. DICK, Major Robert JOYCE, and William CLARK the new house was completed, and is one of the best in the county.

The school opened in the new building under the supervision of Samuel MCCLELLAND, who taught for seven months, every room being full to overflowing. He was followed by Mr. DAYTON for seven months, and at the close of his term there was a considerable amount of distrust in the minds of the people as to the success of the enterprise. Alfred JOYCE, a young man of many parts, consolidated the intermediate and high school departments, and completed the school year of Mr. DAYTON, and giving evidence of talent, was employed for the succeeding year. S. A. GOSSETT was also employed as principal and superintendent, who at once introduced a curriculum of study and a code of rules for the government of the school. Under this control the school progressed rapidly, and within two years afterwards twelve scholars held certificates as teachers. Many of these young boys and girls are now among the successful educators in the surrounding country. Mr. JOYCE, after teaching the intermediate department for five years, was called to Millville as principal of the high school at that place. Among those who have risen rapidly in their chosen profession, who have been Mr. GOSSETT's scholars, is Miss Anna M. WILLEY, a young lady well and favorably known, both in Hamilton and Butler Counties, in educational circles.

The Venice High School is still progressive, and Mr. GOSSETT is yet to see many years of pleasure and profit in the hamlet which our forefathers called "Venus."

The Venice Presbyterian Church was organized in the Fall of 1828 by the Presbytery of Cincinnati. It was an outgrowth of the Bethel Church above Millville. Roger SARGENT, David GIBSON, and Nehemiah WADE were the first elders. At a subsequent time the Church came into connection with the Oxford Presbytery, and after the union of the two Presbyterian bodies, was added to the Presbytery of Dayton. In October, 1874, it was transferred to the Cincinnati Presbytery. The present church edifice was erected in the year 1856. The succession of its ministers is as follows: Thomas THOMAS,
(to be continued)