A History and Biographical Cyclopaedia of Butler County, Ohio
Union Township: Pages 578 - 582
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Westchester is the oldest village in the township, and was originally called Mechanicsburg, but changed to Westchester by statute, and was laid out by Hezekiah SMITH in Mar 1817. Twenty-seven lots were laid out at first. Afterwards, in Apr 1817, James CUMMINS made an addition of lots, numbering from 1 to 20 inclusive. Other additions have since been made.

Joseph COX came from MD. He was employed by Judge SYMMES on the early surveys, settling a little south-east of Westchester on a quarter-section of land, and afterwards accumulated considerable property, and was considered as wealthy for a man of that day. He raised a family of 3 sons and 3 daughters. Julia COX married Robert McMAKEN, a brother of Joseph. Elizabeth married Dr. WILLIAMSON. The names of his sons were Benjamin, John and Joseph. John became a wealthy farmer of the township. Joseph went south. Benjamin moved to Monroe County, OH. John COX was born about 1800. Elizabeth COX was born Apr 10, 1798 and died Apr 27, 1880 David WILLIAMSON died Dec 2, 1873 aged 78 years and 2 months.

Charles LEGG, a very early pioneer, was born Jan 1, 1763 and died Sep 4, 1864. His wife, Rachel, was born May 25, 1762 and died Nov 21, 1847. Nancy McMAKEN died in the 27th year of her age in 1820. Charles LEGG lived about a mile north of Westchester and raised a family of 10 children, all dead but 2 sons and 1 daughter. The latter is now 93 years old. He came in 1805. WHITTLESEY, CONNOVER and JEFFRAS all came during that year.

William VAN HISE was an early member of the Methodist Church and has left a number of descendants, who are prominent citizens of the township. He raised a family of 9 children, 7 boys and 2 girls. He was born Sep 29, 1780 and died Jul 19, 1850. Rachael, his wife, was born Mar 4, 1779 and died Apr 11, 1850. He came from NJ in 1815, and some 6 or 7 families bore him company, and among this number were CONNOVER, SLAYBACK, and others. After reaching Pittsburg they took a flat-boat for Cincinnati. Putting the horses and the wagons on the boat save one, SLAYBACK rode from Pittsburg to Cincinnati. VAN HISE settled on 60 acres, NAPLES settling also on part of this place, but left after a year or so for Rising Sun, IN. CONNOVER was the son-in-law of SLAYBACK.

Westchester was settled apparently by mechanics. At the lower end of town was a flax-seed-oil mill, a fulling-mill, a carding-mill, a saw-mill and grist-mill. These mills, the saw-mill, grist-mill, and oi- mill were all under one roof. They were built by Samuel BURNES, and were primitive in construction, being a tread-mill run by oxen. A Mr. Samuel FOSTER carried on the mill some few years, but they all went down before the year 1820. The ruins of these foundations are still to be seen. Mr. James CUMMINS started the first tan-yard of the place, which was as early as 1810. It was on the west side of the road, on a lot owned by Jared PARRISH. This one was run until within the past eight years. Mr. McLean had it last. Mr. PARRISH owned it some 40 years. He was an early and prominent settler o the town, who died Sep 7, 1870 at 65 years of age. The Rev. William PARRISH was born in 1800 and died Oct 17, 1847.

The first tavern of Westchester was kept by Ezekiel GARD. He was one of the oldest settlers of the place, and kept the hotel for 40 years and died May 3, 1868 aged 60 years. His wife, Elizabeth GARD, lived until 1868. She was 76 years old at the time. She died of the cholera in Indiana.

This tavern was kept prior to the time of the stage routes. James ELLIOTT was the first man who kept hotel where Mrs. SIMPSON now is. Daniel AVEY sold out his hotel to SIMPSON a year or so before the war.

John CALDWELL had a farm at Westchester and a tanyard. GARD had a part of the ground. Hezekiah SMITH had an ox saw-mill. When Colonel Dick JOHNSON's regiment came through in 1812, they were handsomely entertained by the inhabitants. SMITH acted as quartermaster till the end of the war. JOHNSON's regiment was of fine, handsome men. They were taken to the woods near by where they camped, and the inhabitants vied with each other in taking them good things to eat.

The first store in Westchester was kept by ANDERSON a few years. This was a small affair, and was afterwards purchased and run by James FREEMAN, prior to 1820. It was near Mr. JACKSON's shoe shop, but FREEMAN kept where the hotel is now. Jeremiah DAY was probably the first blacksmith in the place. His shop was just below the town.

Formerly the village was in a most thriving condition. There were manufactures of every ordinary kind almost, and the travel through was large - shoemakers, hatmakers, potteries, coopering, etc., in addition to what has been already named - induced considerable patronage to the place that would otherwise have gone elsewhere. It now has a hotel, kept by Mrs. Margaret SIMPSON, a harness shop, blacksmith's shop, carpenter's shop, wagon-maker's shop, post-office and one or two good stores, and one or two saloons. It is not the town it was before the railroad was built and is not likely to increase in population in the near future.

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church here is a branch of that in Sharon, Hamilton County. A meeting was held, closing Feb 6, 1869, at which the following persons united with the church in Sharon: Ann COX, Anna D. FORREST, Mary E. WAKEFIELD, Nancy J. LONG, Anna HUNT, Ben BATES, Harriet BATES, Lawrence PEEL, Louisa PEEL, Thomas LONG, Catherine LONG, Eva J. HAMILTON, Beatty PATTISON, Luther HUGHES, Elizabeth HUGHES, Joel HALL, Martha HAVEN, Marian LONG, Margaret LONG, James JACKSON, William A. JACKSON, Sarah A. DALRYMPLE, Delilah FULLER. They were organized into a branch of the Sharon Presbyterian Church, with the privilege of electing elders. The present membership in 104. They used the building which belonged to the New School Presbyterian Church. Colonel C.L. GANO is superintendent of the Sunday-school. Their house cost $3,300. The pastor is the Rev. C.K. HOLTSINGER. The old church was 38 feet by 40 feet and the new is 38 by 59 feet. The church is very handsome inside. They worshiped in the old church until very lately.

Mr. Daniel AVEY, an old gentleman who died recently, gave the following account of what he remembered: He came to this section of the country with his father in 1806. They settled north-east of Westchester, on what in now the WICKEY farm. Near the house Mr. AVEY built a grist-mill, the stones being 18 inches in diameter. In the spring of the year corn would be ground at a rate not to exceed half a bushel an hour. The first schoolhouse stood south of the present house of Daniel MICHAEL, on the present farm of J.C. WAKEFIELD, and was built between 1806 and 1812. It was of logs, with greased paper windows. The second schoolhouse was built near by, near the residence of James MILLER, and was a frame building. The third was also frame, and is yet standing, belonging to Mrs. FOWLER. It is now used as a residence. The next schoolhouse is the present Granger Hall. The present schoolhouse is a new building on the COX farm and is now about 4 years old.

The present Presbyterian Church was built in 1842, the builders and prime movers being Jerry DAY and Enoch CONOVER. The Methodist Sunday-school was begun in a house now occupied by VAN HISE as a store, in 1827 or 1828. This was a union Sunday-school and was organized by the Rev. Hezekiah SMITH. There is a branch of the Catholic Church in Glendale in this town. It was organized about the beginning of the civil war, and worships in Grangers' Hall. There are about 160 members. Their priests have been the Rev. Messrs. CORCORAN, CAREY and O'DONNELL, the last being the present clergyman.

The Methodist Church building in Westchester was erected in 1818. The Methodist people of this vicinity previous to this time, worshiped in private houses, frequently meeting at Mr. LEGG's. The money for this edifice was raised by subscription and the 2 pioneers of the church, Charles LEGG and Duran WHITTLESEY, were active in securing the amount necessary and frequently made long an laborious trips over the country in their calls for donations. The first structure was of brick and as the builders did not know how to construct a self-supporting roof, they put columns under it for the support of that part.

The lot was donated by Hezekiah SMITH who was a Baptist preacher and the founder of the town. The schoolhouse stood on the same lot also. The church building stood until 1848, when it was torn down and the old brick used in part to build the new one.

Among the early preachers may be mentioned Arthur E. ELLIOTT, who was a prominent minister in his day, and probably traveled this circuit as early as 1810. He possessed a good education and became widely known in his work. The Rev. James B. FINLEY and a Rev. Mr. GODDARD were also pioneers in this field. Among the lay members may be mentioned Charles LEGG, Duran WHITTLESEY, Thomas JEFFRAS, Ezra DALTON and the ELLIOTTS, who were actively interested in the cause. Major W.W. ELLIOTT came to the township in 1824, since which time he has been identified with the church, not only as a member of the society, but also as a leader, having served as steward full 40 years, and as class leader 15 years. His means have been liberally donated. The Rev. T.C. CRUM is the present pastor, and William VAN HISE the Sabbath-school superintendent. A Presbyterian Church existed here between 1830 and 1840, but was very weak and soon ceased to exist.

Prominent among the early settlers of Union Township was the old Revolutionary soldier, John C. BECKETT, who settled near Westchester in 1810. He was an American officer during that war, and after its close was engaged in transporting goods between Cincinnati and Fort Hamilton. His son, James C. BECKETT, who was born Dec 24, 1799, on Mill Creek, Hamilton County, came with his father in 1810 to this section of the county and lived to an old and honored age.

Major William W. ELLIOTT was born in MD, Jul 24, 1800, being the son of William ELLIOTT and Rachel BOSLEY, of English descent. He received an ordinary education and with his parents came to Ohio in 1810, locating in the vicinity of Princeton. He was brought up as a farmer and continued that occupation until his parents died. During the War of 1812 he saw the troops from KY march up to the north on the road from Cincinnati to Dayton, which had then been newly laid out. At the age of 15 he went to live with a brother-in-law, and drove team for him for 7 years. The county was still very new, and Huge forests encumbered almost the whole of the land.

The major bought his present place in 1824, having been married in 1823 to Sarah MUTCHNER, a native of MD. To that marriage were born 2 children, one of whom is now living, the wife of George JACKSON, a resident of Lebanon. Major ELLIOTT settled upon his present place in 1824. It was then entirely wild. He put up a log cabin, cleared up the place and rapidly improved it. He bought the land from General William Henry HARRISON, afterward President. He put up a hewed log house, and remained there until building a brick one about 1840. The major was long active in military affairs, having command of the regiment in Butler County in 1837. On the making of the turnpike from Cincinnati to Dayton, he was elected director, and has been annually elected ever since. He has been township trustee for many years. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and has been for many years, and is one of the leading laymen of the denomination. He is frequently called upon to make addresses before Sunday schools and temperance societies. He has been president of the Pioneer association of Warren and Butler Counties and is an active and esteemed member of that body. Although 82 years of age, his bodily strength is still considerable and his mental faculties unweakened. For many of the recollections embodied in these pages we are indebted to him.


This cemetery was laid out in the Fall of 1870. George VINNEDGE, Perry WRIGHT and Abner JACKSON were the trustees at that time. They purchased in addition to the old yard, which had been in existence for 50 years, making in all one of 12 1/4 acres. Frederick WICKE, Jacob FRANCIS and James PATCHELL, Jr., are the present board of officers. J.W. GERARD, the sexton, has been in charge of these grounds since 1871. The yard was formerly in a bad condition, owing to so much brush and undergrowth, but considerable attention has been paid to the grounds and the walks of late and it now presents as fine an appearance as any in the country outside of the large cities. Three hundred persons have been buried in this yard, and an average of 30 deaths happen every year. The ground is divided off into sections, 4 in number, and these again sub-divided into lots, of which there are in all 600. A good fence incloses the cemetery and on the inside evergreen trees adorn the grounds and shade the driver, giving the whole a handsome appearance.


Maudville is yet in its infancy as a village, the first house being erected by Henry STICKLES after the railroad was built. He keeps a boarding-house, a saloon, and a grocery. He also owns a lumber-yard. GILBERT & WILLIAMSON keep a country store. It is a good grain center, and from this point cereals are shipped in quantities.

The old saw-mill that stood where the railroad crosses the pike is among the most interesting things of the past. Like all saw-mills of pioneer days, it was to be run with water, but instead of a sluggish stream to furnish power for the wheel, a mere tub-full of that element was thought to be sufficient to run it forever, with an occasional drop now and then added to make good what might be lost by evaporation. The contrivance consisted of an upright saw, with all its ordinary attachments; a large tub was placed aloft and filled with water. This tub held about 100 barrels, and was filled by the proprietor and his devoted wife, it was said, who was to share honors, undoubtedly world-renowned, if this thing worked. The expectant day arrived; logs filled the yard below; the mill had been erected, but not weather boarded or roofed; the tub filled, and pump fixed in its place. It was supposed that the same force of water used to run the wheel would also run the pump, and throw the water back as fast it escaped. On trial, of course, it proved a failure; the logs in the yard rotted, the mill tumbled down of old age, and no trace of its former existence is now visible.


Gano is a small place on the southern portion of the township, on the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railroad, and is a station built since that road was put through, by Charles GANO, of Cincinnati. This was in 1874. In 1879 Mr. Charles GANO, Jr., built a large flouring-mill and did a fine business, but unfortunately the mill took fire soon after it was erected and burned down. The ambition of the village tempered down after the loss of the grain trade incident to this event, and Maudville was left thenceforth as cock of the walk. A well 112 feet deep was dug near this mill for water, but gas was discovered and from that time to this it oozes up in great quantity. This gas was conducted by a pipe into the mill and was used for drying the wheat; it probably comes from the decomposed matter of the drift below, and is odorless. Mr. C.L. GANO owns a beautiful residence in this place.


Rialto is owned by the FRIEND & FOX Paper Company, and consists of 3 mills, about 7 miles from Hamilton, on the edge of the canal. It manufactures book and news paper. Capacity, 5500 pounds per day. The new Crescent mill, built in 1881, is a mile below the others, and is illuminated by electric lights and filled with the finest machinery made in the East. It manufactures roofing and wrapping papers. The original manufactory was a grist-mill, begun by Taylor WEBSTER, who did a good business for many years. He sold to BEATTY & COOPER, who sold to FRIEND & FOX


Pisgah is the highest point in Union Township, although to the casual observer it seems to be on a general level with the surrounding country. It is higher than Lebanon and all points around. It was probably named by William BELCH; a pioneer of the place, and so called from the old church that stood on this land. The village has but 11 residences, a grocery store, post-office and a blacksmith*s shop. William BELCH came here as early as 1812 or 1815. He was a Pennsylvania German, and very energetic. He kept the first hotel of the place many years before he died, after which his son William kept it 15 or 20 years longer. William and James VAN HISE started a hotel about 1838, and also a store and post-office. This was the first post-office in Pisgah. It was subsequently kept by David CONOVER and James MIDDELTON, and now by S.M. SPRINKLE. The two VAN HISES also kept the first store. They carried on the business a number of years, and were the last to keep hotel.

A still-house was erected in an early day by James IRWIN on the farm now owned by James IRWIN, his grandson. Mr. IRWIN came to OH before 1800, and settled first in Warren Co, and after a few years came to Pisgah and settled on 360 acres of choice lands. He started the first tan-yard. He was the grandfather of Governor IRWIN, of California. This distinguished man, William IRWIN, received a good education in the public schools, and subsequently in colleges, after which he went to California, about 1850 and for several years edited the leading paper of that state. He was afterward sent to the State Legislature, and later elected governor of that state. He has since that time been conspicuous in the management of state affairs and is known as a representative citizen of the country.

The people of Pisgah, in an early time, attended church at Muddy Creek. This was a Baptist society just outside the county. Subsequently the Presbyterians erected a church building on the BELCH property. This house stood on the old Quakertown Road, near the village, and on the same lot upon which the school-house stood. The 2 buildings were within the same fencing. The school-house was made of round logs and the church of hewed logs. After a few years the church people built a brick house, and the school was moved into the old church building. This was on James IRWIN*s place and in 1835 or 1836 the district built the new brick school-house, on the identical spot on which stood the old log-house, and its remains, in a repaired condition, still stand, but the house is owned as private property. The district purchased land in 1862, when and where the present structure was erected. The church served its purpose for a long period of time, but for many years it has gone into disuse, save for an occasional service. The property was finally sold, and the organization has lost its identity.

Robert CALDWELL, an Irishman, was probably the first teacher of Pisgah, who applied the beech and black-walnut methods of imparting instruction in an early day. He believed in *the laying on of hands,* and there are some of his pupils still living who distinctly remember how they were thrashed through to the Rule of Three. He was *master* for some years, and was then followed by Michael DALTON, who became a prominent citizen of the place, and is very kindly remembered by many people yet. Mrs. James HUNT (formerly Miss Anna ELLSWORTH) was the first lady teacher of these schools. She taught for a long while. She was a woman of rare abilities; was finely educated, and was unexcelled as a teacher. The SLAYBACK brothers, John C. And James N., taught here a number of years, and a good report of their work follows them.

The Pisgah schools have always been in a flourishing condition, and have been successful in furnishing many good teachers to the county. Among the early preachers of Pisgah may be mentioned the Rev. Mr. GRAVES, of the Presbyterian Church, 50 years ago, and Mr. BRYAN and Mr. LEMON, of the Muddy Creek Baptist Church. Mr. GRAVES remained with this congregation many years and during that period of time the church was prosperous.

In former times bleeding was common in the art of curing. People sent to Westchester for a doctor, and it was not until as late as 1845, when James L. ROUND, MD. formerly of Westchester, moved to the place and settled as the first resident physician. He stayed many years, but some 6 years before he died, fell from a ladder, and so injured himself that he was compelled to go on crutches the remainder of his life. This was but a few years ago, and he was about the only physician of note who took up his residence in the place.

Mrs. David HULSE has probably rendered as much service to the sick as many a physician with college diploma. Her parents were educated people. Louis KROUSKOPF, her father, was an educated German, and was a cavalry officer under Napoleon in the French expedition against Russia. His regiment lost all but 55 men in that campaign. He came to American in 1822, settling first at Sharon, OH, and subsequently at Pisgah, where he kept a hotel on the Lebanon and Cincinnati Turnpike, a mile and a half west of the village, and afterwards became gate-keeper on that road. He came in 1829, and in 1838 kept toll-gate, and was the originator of the pole sweep in this neighborhood. The gates previous to this time were similar to those used in fences, and swung around. The innovation of the ordinary pole had its enemies at that time, there being those who vigorously contended they were under no obligation to pay toll when they had no gate to go through. Mr. KROUSKOPF was also a physician, and was educated in the Prussian schools of medicine, but did not practice surgery, his specialty, after coming to America. He died Dec 31, 1860. William HULSE had the first blacksmith*s shop in the village, which he kept until 1831, when he died. TULLIS & MIDDLETON have a shop at this time. During the late war, Pisgah furnished a score of men for the army, out of which a full dozen either were killed outright, died in hospital, or from the effects of the hardships and exposures of camp life soon after returning home. Lewis A. HULSE, son of David HULSE, was a mere lad when he shouldered his musket for the army. He was wounded at the battle of Stone River, and died in camp. In this connection should also be mentioned the names of Benjamin BELCH, Marsh and Joel TULLIS, James ROUND, Isaac MYERS, Vermillion VOORHEES, William BURCH, Joseph MOORE, Joseph and Jesse GRAY, Jesse PRICE, Richmond MIDDLETON, Benjamin STEWARD, and Charles CATRO. The names of these heroes will never be forgotten.

The Burch Spring, once so noted, now abandoned, was dug on the Deerfield Road, on land now owned by Harvey WEBB, about 1860. The well was sunk to the depth of 75 feet, when water flowed in a torrent, filling the well about half full immediately, and scarcely giving a chance for the men to get out. It was believed that an underground river had been struck. The sides fell in, until there was apparently a subterranean lake of water, which to save next drew attention, and during the next spring, rocks and logs were hauled in large quantities and dumped in, but when the cavity was filled the well was lost, and there is nothing there now save a great depression to mark the once great well.

David HULSE, one of the leading and progressive men of Pisgah, was born in Union Township, Apr 2, 1819, and was the youngest son of William HULSE and Catherine LUTES, both natives of NJ and of Dutch descent. Mr. HULSE was one of the pioneers of Butler County, settling upon the farm adjoining the one now owned by his son in 1815. It was then in the woods, and hardly any roads existed there. Indians still occasionally passed through on their hunting expeditions, and there was an abundance of game and only one moderately good road. He was a blacksmith by trade, carrying on that business for many years jointly with farming. He was an active member of the Baptist Church at Muddy Creek, in Warren County, there being none near his residence. He raised a family of 8 sons and 2 daughters, of whom the only survivor is David HULSE. William HULSE died in 1833. David attended the common schools at Pisgah until he had obtained a fair education, and after leaving school became thoroughly versed in agricultural pursuits. In his 14th year he went with an older brother to Indiana, where he remained for 3 years, the only period of his life in which he was not a resident of OH. He returned to OH in 1837, and was employed in farm-work.

Mr. HULSE was married Nov 21, 1839, to Ernestine KROUSKOPF, who was born in Germany, Sep 22, 1820. She was the daughter of Louis KROUSKOPF and Catherine MERSER, who emigrated to America in Aug 1821 and settled in Hamilton County. They removed to this county in 1829.

Mr. and Mrs. HULSE were the parents of 7 children, of whom 3 survive. Lewis A. was born Feb 12, 1845. Energetic and patriotic, he enlisted Sep 1862, in the 69th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. At the battle of Stone River, the first battle he had an opportunity to be in, he was acting as a scout. On the morning of Dec 31 he was shot down, although living until Feb 16, 1863. Mr HULSE's first child, Olelia Jane, was born Oct 30, 1840 and is now the wife of Irwin MILLER. She resides in Union Township; Loretta Emeline was born Sep 7, 1842 and married James AYERS, a well-known resident. The third child was Lewis A.: the fourth was William Francis, who was born Aug 4, 1849. He lives on the home farm and helps in its management. Hulda Amanda, born Feb 17, 1851, was the wife of Servetus DAWSON, but died May 6, 18812. David Charles was born Dec 3, 1854 and is now telegraph operator at New Morefield, OH. Ernest Eugene was born Jun 22, 1861 and is still at home.

Mr. HULSE, immediately after his marriage, located upon the farm where he now lives. This was in the spring of 1840. There was a log cabin, and some little improvements in the way of deadened timber had been made. He occupied the log cabin until he built his present handsome residence in 1851. The place consists of 115 acres, finely cultivated, situated just upon the eastern edge of Pisgah. Mr. HULSE derived a little means from his parents, but his success is due principally to his own industry. He is well read, and frequently contributes to the newspapers. Both he and his wife are very methodical. Mrs. HULSE has for a long time been a practitioner in obstetrics and in female diseases, in which she has had great success. She has taken pains to inform herself, both from books and observation, and in the cases she has attended has been unusually fortunate. She has also done much in children's diseases, and enjoys the confidence of the community. Of late, however, she has partially retired from practice.