Country Living in Monroe County, Ohio in the early 1900s


As a boy reared in rural central Ohio in the 1940s I loved to explore, fish, swim, and visit my grandparents.  The latter was a special treat that occurred annually because of the distance from our home to where my grandparents lived in Monroe County, Ohio.  My first mental pictures of Monroe County were formed from those early visits.


One of my fondest memories comes from a long solo, exploratory, hike that I took along one of the many creeks that flow in the hollows between ancient hills that push the skyline high into the air.  The sun had dipped below that skyline by the time I found my way back to familiar territory.  With still plenty of light, I left the creek to take a shortcut across a flat field of perhaps 5 acres that likely had been the bed of some ancient lake.  To my surprise I came across a section of an old log house.  All the walls were gone except a single partial wall made of huge square logs that sloped from the remains of a stone fireplace to the ground where once side-walls had stood.  I was standing what had been the inside of the house.  My surprise gave way to fascination for a gray-stripped lizard that watched me from his perch on one of the logs.  This ruin was now the home of a lizard.


While the sights of that afternoon froze in my memory, undoubtedly helped by the experience of seeing the lizard, it was not until many years later that I realized I had come upon a scene from a long past era.  When I described my discovery to my grandfather that evening he responded with, “Yes, that was the old home place.”  That was the first time my attention was focused on the existence of a past in which people did not live as we do today. 


As I reminisce about that snapshot in time I can now piece together other information, stories, pictures, and facts from then and from decades preceding and subsequent – knowledge gleaned from my genealogical research.  My mother had been born in that house, as had her father and her grandmother.  The 80-acre farm had been purchased by my 3rd great grandfather in 1853, inherited by his son and kept in the family for the succeeding decades.


Monroe County, Ohio has existed as a geo-political area for a little over 200 years.  A hike through the County around 1800 would have been a hike through a large hilly forest with no houses or barns or other trappings of people except for an occasional trail that would have been originally made by animals and a few Indians who passed through the area.  Within the next few decades, log houses of the kind I discovered in the 1940s would begin to appear.  The trails would be improve as a few men with their horses would occasionally use them.


“Improvements” would continue with the construction of roads, homes, barns and granaries as the population grew until it finally arrived at the point of the “modern” homes and roads of the 21st century.  Modern plastic-covered, air-conditioned houses filled with appliances and all sorts of electrically powered devices for communication and entertainment now dominate the landscape.


While change is inevitable, it leaves in its path an eclectic assortment of the past.  Memories and pictures made at various points along the 200-plus year time-line freezes the respective eras in their time.  Nostalgia drags those that remember those scenes of not too long ago to a longing for the good-old-days.  Although we can not turn back the hands of time, one of the things that we can do is collect, assemble, and try to present tidbits of history that both help to quench nostalgia and communicate to those who do not have such memories. 


Monroe County in the period before and after 1900 was primarily an agricultural community.  That was the period of wood-framed farmhouses, large wooden barns and drive-through granaries.  The conveniences of the day were great improvements over the hand-tools and muscle-powered equipment of the first settlers.  Yet those conveniences are now items of history and curiosity.


In the pages that follow an effort has been made to bring you pictures and information about some of the 1900 era history of Monroe County.  We are indebted to Dorothy and Glenn Bayes for sharing their many photos that makes this odyssey into the past possible.


This picture trip begins in the late 19th century with the building of the some of the farm buildings.  It continues through much of the 20th century with several of the pictures being taken in the early 21st century.


The setting – View of a typical Monroe County Farm

A closer look

Farm View

Farm house 1933

Farm house 2000

Farm house basement

1922 Model-T truck


Barn and chicken house

Barn construction

Barn view from back

Barn view from front

Birch Tree with Initials

Blow torch & soldering iron


Copper kettle

Corn crib

Cow stall

Cream separator


Farm tools



Hay field

Hay fork

Hay mower

Hay rake

Horse power

Iron kettle

Jack, the dog

Kickers and stool

Kitchen pump

Land Grant Certificate

Lawn mower

Load of hay

Maps of Lee Township, Monroe Co., OH

Milk can

Milk house

Milk strainer

Neck yoke

Pet pig

Pitch forks

Pitcher pump


Scythe and rake

Stone foundation

Stone walkway

Thrashing – break

Thrashing – dinner

Thrashing – machine

Thrashing – rig

Thrashing – setup

Thrashing – washing for dinner


Triple tree


Water lift

Well House


Provided by Monroe County Historical Society


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