A History and Biographical Cyclopaedia of Butler County, Ohio
Madison. Pages 596 - 600
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Many years ago a place was laid out a mile east of Trenton, and called Brownstown. It would now be entirely forgotten except for a tragedy which happened there more than sixty years ago. The place was at the ferry of the Miami River, and was on the old State road, a great thoroughfare from east to west. Davis Ball was the ferryman. He was a large, fat old man, and for years had left the practical control of the boat to his son, who was a vigorous and athletic young fellow. In March, 1819, young Ball had gone down to the mouth of the Miami River with a party, as pilot and boatsman, and there was no one to manage the ferry except his father. The river had risen to a great height, and its current looked very formidable, when one morning a party of several men and boys, with a young lady, came donw from Seven-Mile, and asked to be put over. Mr. Ball refused. He showed them the stream, and decalred it was dangerous. They insisted, and he finally consented. The men promised to help him to work the boat, which was operated by the force of the water pressing sideways upon it. A rope reached across the river from bank to bank, on which were two pulleys, with ropes passing from them to the boat. Before consenting to take his load, Mr. Ball made a condition that the girl should be left behind. So they started, and the entire population of the village of Brownstown turned out to see them. The population, however, was not more than eight or nine. The boat started with its freight, consisting of Captain Aul and his son, Thomas Wilson, William and Daniel Craig, Thomas Thompson, Mr. Ball, a dog, and two horses. The men were nervous and inexperienced, and when near the middle of the stream one of them attempted to take up some slack in the cordage. He tried it too quickly, and the rope snapped, which occasioned the breaking of the other rope, and the overturning of the boat. Young Aul succeeded in getting on top of the boat, and floated down with it, but the others had no such opportunity.

It was an agonizing sight to those on shore. An old lady who is now living in Amanda related the story to us. She was then a blooming girl, but is now about eighty-four years of age. Her name is Ryerson. She was there with her father, and saw the whole affecting disaster. The force of the current carried the men toward the opposite shore, so that the rails and pieces of wood which were thrown in by Mrs. Ryerson's father and others did not reach them. Mr. Ball was found two hours after on a sand-bar below, standing perfectly upright. On his way down he kept praying and talking to the people on the bank. One of the Craigs was almost saved. He had nearly reached the shore, when he turned about to help his brother, and was caught in the current. Another of the men swam down after the boat, but could not get to it. Young Aul, who was saved, was perched upon it. He was a mere boy. The dog and the two horses were drowned. The dog, in his frantic efforts to save himself, several times placed his paws on the shoulders of the men who were floating down, and helped to exhaust their strength. Those who were drowned were Captain Aul, Daniel Craig, Davis Ball, Thomas Wilson, and William Craig. The neighborhood turned out, and their bodies were shortly afterward recovered. This, and the killing of the Boal family in Hamilton, by a stroke of lightning, were the two most remarkable calamities that happened in Butler County during its earlier period of history.


This village is situated about one mile north of Trenton, and contained, in 1852, about one hundred and fifty inhabitants, one church, one school-house, two stores, two hotels, one merchant-mill, one saw-mill, and two potteries, which furnished ware to Dayton, Germantown, Eaton, Oxford, Hamilton, etc. Two teams were constantly running with this kind of ware, for which they found a ready sale. The place was laid out by Richard Crane and Theophilus Egglesfield, who were the first settlers. Additions to the original plat have been made by John Johns and John Kemp, Jr. The village has a healthy and pleasant location, and is surrounded by the most beautiful country. The houses are mostly of brick, and present a very neat and comfortable appearance. It is situated on Section 30.

In the year 1816 the town had a large brick merchant-mill, built by George Bennet. In the same year the town was laid out. There is an extensive pottery and tile factory in the town. The first merchants in the village were as follows: Thomas Hall, Nathan Goldsmith, A. Hunt & Co., George Marvel, DanielPoffenbarger, Law & Hunt, Long & Law, Antrim & Co., John Gardner, Carroll & Squiers, Eli Scudder, Z. Fisher, C. Gardner, and F. V. Weaver. The tavern-keepers in the town were Crane & Egglesfield, in the year 1816; and afterwards, William Hall, Thomas Kelley, Peter Rutown, Benjamin De Bolt, David Mattix, Charles Bailey. The physicians have been J. F. Heaton, J. H. Cruse, A. Eckert, D. Eckert, Doctor Prudents, J. M. Hunt.

Miltonville has a fine large church, which belongs to the United Brethren congregation, and has a comfortable parsonage. Rev. Mr. Killburn is the pastor. In the cemetery are the graves of Henry Kumler; bishop of the United Brethren Church, born 1775; died 1854; aged 79. Susannah Kumler, born 1779; died 1874; aged 95.

The first grave in the Miltonville Cemetery was made in 1800. It was then in a heavy forest. The name of the person was Mattix. She was eighty years old. Her given name is not known, as a part of the head-stone has by time so decayed that it could not be made out.


There are a large number of Mennonites settled south of Trenton, who form an excellent portion of the population. When the Augspurgers left Europe, in 1819, a Mennonite elder or bishop, by the name of John Miller, and his family, started with them; but when they arrived in Pennsylvania he left them; and so the Augspurgers were without an elder or bishop when they arrived in Butler County.

In 1828, however, two elders or bishops made their appearance in Butler County, one from Canada and the other from Pennsylvania, and meetings were held in the dwelling-houses, as they had no meeting-houses at that time.

In 1830 Jacob Augspurger, the second cousin of Christian Augspurger, was elected and qualified to the office of elder or bishop of the congregation, and the other elders left for other parts. In 1832 a colony of Mennonites from Hesse-Darmstadt and Kurhesse, Germany, arrived in Butler County, amongst whom were the Holly and Iutzi families, who brought along with them musical instruments, such as pianos, for their enjoyment, which was quite a surprise to those Mennonites that lived in Butler County then, as they were not used to such things. Their dress, also, was more fashionable, to which those that lived here then were not accustomed, and it caused much dissatisfaction amongst the old people. Finally it created a division of the members into two parties; and the other party, which may be termed the liberal party, obtained another elder or bishop from Germany, by the name of John Miller; and Joseph Augspurger, Christian Holly, and Peter Kennel were elected assistant ministers, and the two parties held their meetings separately in their dwellings. In 1847 Elder Jacob Augspurger died, and his son, Nicholas Augspurger, was elected in his place; and in 1860 Elder Miller moved to Illinois, and Joseph Augspurger was elected in his place as elder.

By this time their numbers had increased so that their dwellings were too small for their accommodation, and they concluded to build meeting-houses. Consequently, in 1863, two meeting-houses were built, one by each party, south-west of Trenton, near the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad, where meetings are now held alternately every Sunday in each meeting-house, so as to give to the members an opportunity to visit both meetings.

An organized Mennonite meeting consists of one elder or bishop, one or more assistants or preachers, and one or more deacons. The duty of the elder or bishop is to preach and perform the sacramental ceremonies, and to take good care of his flock; the duty of the assistant ministers is to assist the elder in preaching and obtain practice in the art of preaching; and the duty of the deacons is to take care of the finances of the Church, and look after the poor and sick, and supply their wants. The ministers are all elected by the members of the Church by ballot; but when there is a tie declared, one of the two largest in number is drawn by lot. The elder or bishop is elected from among the assistant ministers of the Church; but the assistant ministers are elected from among the members of the Church to which they belong. They receive no salary; but if they are in need they are assisted by the Church.

The religious principles of the Mennonites are as follows: They are opposed to infant baptism. Their children are generally baptized when from fourteen to sixteen years old, which is done by sprinkling. They are opposed to bearing arms and to swearing oaths. They are opposed to going to law with each other; but when they have difficulties they try to settle them among themselves. They are opposed to the practice of dancing and going to balls, and to extravagance in their dress. They generally hold their communion twice a year -- that is, at Easter and in the Fall -- on which occasion they wash each other's feet. Some Mennonites, however, neglect doing this. When a member removes from one place to another where he is not well known, he is required to show a certificate of membership in writing of his good standing in the congregation where he is from, before he is admitted as a member in his new home. Such certificate must be signed by the elder or bishop of the congregation where he is from. Members are excluded from the communion for immoral conduct, and are banished from the Church for committing a crime; and in some localities they are refused admission to the communion, and are even expelled, for disobedience to their Church rules.


This is situated directly opposite Middletown, and is a suburb of that place. The Madison House was built in the year 1846 by John MUMMA. It is two and a half stories high, and seventy-two feet by twenty-one and a half feet, and belongs to A. CRIDER, grocery and provision dealer. The remainder of the building belongs to Albert KENADAY and the heirs of W. C. WARD. The building contains thirty rooms above ground, and in the cellar eleven, making a total of thirty-eight rooms. REED & Company occupies the north room as a grocery. There is a tavern kept in the house by Albert BECKFORD. Wilson LONG keeps an agricultural warehouse. W. C. WARD is a wagon-maker, and does repairing. Samuel MCFALL has an extensive circular saw-mill in the place, and there are two blacksmith shops, one by MCFALL and one by ECKELBARGE. J. M. GARDNER is a custom boot and shoe maker. In the fall of 1877 the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad Company erected a large elevator for CURTIS & HARTLEY in Madison City, as there is an extensive grain trade at that place. Madison City has forty family residences, and enumerates one hundred and fifty pupils of school age. The post-office is known as Heno.


Woodsdale is situated on Section 19. Part of the place lies in St. Clair Township. It was founded in the year 1867 by the Beckett Paper Company, through the influence of Samuel AUGSPURGER, one of the most influential business men at that time of Madison Township. Samuel AUGSPURGER sold a portion of his interest in the real estate to the company, which had at that time a stock of ninety thousand dollars. The stock was increased in 1869 to one hundred and twenty-two thousand dollars. After a success for some years a fire broke out in the rag room of the paper-mill, and consumed the entire mill, except brick walls and smoke stacks. In the year 1880 the company commenced to rebuild, but have been delayed. When Samuel AUGSPURGER built a saw mill ninety feet long and two stories high. The mill cost twelve thousand dollars, and a flour-mill of brick cost him fifteen thousand dollars. There is a post-office and dry goods and grocery store in the town. They have a school-house of brick, well furnished with seats, maps and books. The town has thirty-five buildings, including mills.


Poasttown was formerly known as West Liberty, and is situated on Section 12, Township 2 Range 4, east, and contains fifteen dwellings on the original plat of that village, which was laid out by Peter Poast in the year 1818. There are about fifteen families who live outside of the original plat, who are called citizens of the town. The first store was opened in that village by Christian Coon in the year 1815; the second by Samuel Vancort, and others by Philip Deal Gorge Catron, Dubler John, Kemp & Antrim, John Selby, William Dine, Marsh & Poast, and Willis Thomas. The present store-keeper is P. P. Poast. The first tavern was opened in that place by William Brown, and he was followed by Mr. Richardson, Joshua Heffner, Enos Heffner, Daniel Stump, Conrad Spidel, and Elias Emrick. P. P. Poast is post-master at Poast Town, and agent of the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad, and is an extensive dealer in all kinds of grain, groceries, and merchandise. The railroad company on the 5th of April, 1878, erected an elevator for the convenience of grain growers and dealers. The village is in one of the most fertile parts of the Miami Valley. There is a first-class blacksmith's shop and wagon-maker's shop in the town, owned by the Woods brothers.

A large tree was felled in 1852 on the farm of Tobias Lane. It was measured by 'Squire McMaken and Arthur Lane. Three feet above the ground the stump was twenty-one feet in circumference. Fifty-seven feet from the ground it measured thirteen feet in girth. Eighty-five feet above the ground it measured ten feet in girth. Eighty-five feet above the ground it measured ten feet. The wood was corded by itself. It measured eighteen cords city measure, or nineteen and a half common measure.

The Astoria Cemetery is located on Section 6, Township 2, Range 4. There are buried there:

Joseph Deem, son of Adam and Jane Deem, died August 24, 1818; aged 7 years. John Deem, died August 29, 1835; aged 83. Mary Deem, died March 20, 1845; aged 91. Adam Deem, died September 2, 1829; aged 50. Jane Campbell, consort of Adam Deem, died September 25, 1847; aged 63 years. John H. Deem, died February 12, 1862; aged 70. Elizabeth, wife of John H. Deem, died March 29, 1867; aged 71. Elizabeth Hinkle, died May 21, 1859; aged 76. Joseph Hinkle, Sen., died July 3, 1881; aged 94.

The Mt. Pleasant Cemetery is situated on Section 1, Township 2, Range 4, east. The names of some of the old persons buried in it are:

John Lucas, Sen., died June 15, 1836; aged 75. Zachariah Selby, died July 14, 1841; aged 83. Hannah Lucas, died September 25, 1871; aged 76. Samuel Lucas, died August 15, 1870; aged 74. John Lucas, died March 5, 1873; aged 79. David Banker, died January 25, 1862; aged 83.

At the Miltonville Cemetery are the following:

In memory of Mary, wife of James Warden, died May 19, 1834; aged 90. Magdalena Good, died October 15, 1863; aged 87. John Stanley, died September 2, 1864; aged 98. George Gowker, died August 31, 1858; aged 82. Daniel Kemp, died August 29, 1856; aged 79. Elizabeth Kemp, died February 13, 1859; aged 75. Rev. John Kemp, died February 8, 1875; aged 85. Elizabeth Kemp, died October 22, 1850; aged 68. Rev. Jacob Kemp, died August 6, 1851; aged 68. Mary M., wife of Jacob Kemp, died June 24, 1843; aged 57. Jacob Gardner died May, 1881; aged 97.

The United Brethren Church was organized in the year 1811 by Jacob Kemp, Sen. John Kemp, Sen., was the first minister; the second, Jacob Kemp. The names of ministers to the present time, as near as can be ascertained, are Christian Newcomer, John Primne, Andrew Zellers, John Avinge,, John McNamer, Abraham Shingerdoker, William Stubs, Mr. Dunhan, David Whitcome, David Stucker, Noah Wheeler, Mr. McMahen, John Illrod, Mr. Spice, Mr. McGray, John Vickers, Mr. Flickinger, Henry Koomler, John Crider, Mr. Trawyer, John Fetterhoff, Jacob Jacoby Antrim, William Rinehart, Bishop Grosbuner, Daniel Flickinge, John Zellers, William Davis, Mr. Lanthom, Mr. Flinchbaugh, John H. Kemp, David Bonebrake, Conrad Bonebrake, Peter Bonebrake, Henry Bonebrake, George Bonebrake, Daniel Bonebrake, Jacob Surfis, Henry Surfis, Adam Surfis, Mr. Toby, John Kemp, Jr., Lewis Gilber, Dayton Ryal Hasting, Mr. Henry Robison, Mr. Botters, George Collins, Daniel Kumler, John Walters, Simon Dubler, Jacob Emrick, George Huffman, Joseph Huffman, Joseph Huffman, Sen., John Huffman, Henry Kumler (bishop), J. P. Eckert, Mr. Kilburn. Total, sixty-one.

The first grave in Elk Creek Cemetery was in the year 1800, for a boy six years old, named Millener. His given name is not known, as many of the first head-stones were common lime-stone, and the cold Winters and wet weather has caused them to scale off so that the inscriptions can not be made out. Among other inscriptions are:

Samuel Dickey, Sen., died December 1, 1812; aged 59. Catherine, wife of Samuel Dickey, Sen., died February 5, 1812; aged 56. Samuel Dickey, Jr., died June 23, 1835; aged 30. Ann Elizabeth, consort of George H. Francis, died November 18, 1843; aged 85. John Lingle, Jr., died January 22, 1815; aged 7. John C. Buck, died January 10, 1834; aged 71. Elizabeth Buck, died August 19, 1843; aged 75. David Williamson, died September 29, 1855; aged 75. Margaret Williamson, born May 28, 1775; died August 29, 1850; aged 75. Christopher Reed, died June 23, 1834; aged 71. Rachel Kemp Camp, died April 26, 1820; aged 19. Mary Miller, died August 31, 1830; aged 28. Jeremiah Miller, died September 9, 1838; aged 34. In memory of Mary Muriller, born December 23, 1774; died February 10, 1844.; aged 69. John Sawer, died December 27, 1831; aged 61. Jacob Snyder, died June 18, 1833; aged 69. Solomon Snyder, died May 30, 1826.; aged 60. Adam Andrews, died June 10, 1848; aged 88. Catherine Andrews, died February 19, 1840; aged 71.

The German Church is built on an acre of ground bought of James Doer for eighteen dollars, and was dedicated to the worship of God according to the usages of the Evangelical Lutheran and Evangelical Reformed Churches on the 31st of August, 1817. There were present the following clergymen: Rev. Mr. Diehl, Rev Degont Beeker, Rev. Mr. Winders, and Rev. Mr. Simon. The trustees were Henry Hoffman and John Weichel. According to the constitution of the Church, it was to be used for the two Churches in High German forever. It is in the center of the western end of the township.

The Baptist Church on Brown's Run, Madison Township, known as the Mount Pleasant Church, was organized by Elder Wilson THOMPSON, on the second day of September, 1819. Delegates were present from Elk Creek, Bethlehem, and Tapscott's. The following appear among the list of old members: Samuel LUCAS, Elizabeth BANKER, Hannah LUCAS, Mary MCGLAULIN, Ralph VORIS, Jane VORIS, Rachel SILBEY, Lydia BARKLOW, Daniel BARKLOW, Thomas WILSON, Julia Ann BANKER, Nancy BARKLOW, Joseph BUSH, Mary Ann BANKER, Christian MIKSELL, Elizabeth MIKSELL, Thomas ROYAL, Catherine ROYAL, Elizabeth BANKER, Elizabeth, LUCAS, Caroline HINKLE, Martha LUCAS, Nancy GOUGER, Matilda KOUNTZE, James BAIRD, Mary BAIRD, Jane WILLIAMSON, Silas PAYNER, Rebecca SELLBE, Mary Ann HINKLE, 'Squire HINKLE, Tabitha GREGGS, Levina BANKER, Martha A. CRAIG, Anna SHANKLE, Joseph HINKLE, John L. Graves, Matilda ZIMMERMAN, Ann Maria STEWART, John VORIS, John SNYDER, James SNYDER, Sally HINKLE, Jane VORIS, Elizabeth GAPHEART, and Hannah VORIS. The records of the Church from 1819 to 1853 have not been preserved, and we have no list of their preachers. In the historic division of the Baptist Church they adhered to the old school.

The following is a list of postmasters:

Trenton. -- Squier LITTELL, March 6, 1831; Abraham L. Holgate, May 30, 1833; Squier LITTELL, April 14, 1837; David TAYLOR, Jr., March 11, 1840; Ellis MILLER, September 30, 1840; William POTTER, January 10, 1845; Robert TRIUNE, January 25, 1846; Samuel D. ROSE, June 13, 1849; William POTTER, March 9, 1852; Samuel D. ROSE, June 11, 1853; William BACHRING, November 11, 1856; William H. BUELL, March 31, 1859; Charles C. WEAVER, August 25, 1859; William POTTER, July 11, 1861; John GARDNER, September 23, 1863; Moses W. DRAKE, January 29, 1866; David B. SCOYCK, March 27, 1873; Weller OVERPECK, May 6, 1873; Joseph EICHER, September 12, 1873.

Woodsdale. -- Samuel AUGSPURGER, November 10, 1870; Lucius B. POTTER, December 1, 1870; David W. MCCLUNG, August 12, 1874; F. D. JAMES, July 23, 1879; William C. BALDEN, October 23, 1879.

Heno (Madison City). -- John PRITCHARD, April 18, 1882.

Poasttown. -- Catherine POAST, August 22, 1848; Jabez J. ANTRIM, December 3, 1851; James BARKLOW, August 8, 1853; John SELBY, June 3, 1854; William C. DINE, July 9, 1856; Peter P. POAST, July 9, 1861.

Astoria. -- Benjamin DEBOLT, July 8, 1840; Andrew D. ROGERS, October 11, 1841. Discontinued September 25, 1844.

Christiana. -- Christian KOON, February 27, 1829. Discontinued November 14, 1837.