Richland Co., Ohio
source: Mansfield News, 03 January 1903
Submitted by Jean and Faye
THE HISTORY OF RICHLAND COUNTY
By A. J. Baughman
Bloominggrove township was organized March 4, 1816. As originally organized the township was eighteen miles long from east to west and twelve miles wide. But in time townships were reduced in size and their lines rearranged, leaving Bloominggrove, as it now is, six miles long and four miles wide. The township was once densely wooded, one of the varieties of timber being hard maple and in numerous places these trees formed beautiful groves—hence the name—Bloominggrove.
The first road in the township was cut in September, 1814, by General
Beall’s army, and was called “Beall’s Trail.” This road entered the township from the east, near its southeast corner, passing to the northwest through the present sites of Shenandoah and Rome and leaving the township near the center of its west line. This road is one of the great highways of the country, and was the stage route between Wooster and Tiffin. The wilderness through which it was cut disappeared with the fleeting years, and now farms line the road, and a high order of thrift and prosperity is shown in the general appearance of the country, without a trace of the ____ times of the past to remind the wayfarer that less than a century ago this part of Ohio was an unbroken wilderness. The contrast between then and now should inspire the people of today with feelings of gratitude for the blessings they enjoy. The men who penetrated the forests and made farms out of the wilderness, transmitted to their successors good homes, improved land and the comforts, conveniences, and utilities of a high civilization. The mission of the pioneers was to settle and develop the country and there are evidences everywhere to show how well their duties were performed.
It was along Beall’s Trial [sic] that the larger part of the early settlers of Bloominggrove came. A number of them had been soldiers in General Beall’s army, and were so favorably impressed with the country that after the expiration of their term of service, they returned and entered land, cleared farms and erected homes. Among the list of pioneers are found the panics of George Hackett, Peter Maring, John and Jacob Stoner, James McCart, Daniel and James Ayers, William Trucks, Richard Cloman, William Guthrie, Samuel Zeigler, William Shurr and Thomas Dickinson.
Among those who came a few years later, the names of Robert Meeks, John McGraw, John Cleland, Thomas Thompson, William McIntire, Jacob Walker, Daniel Quinn, Charles Saviers, Robert Cummings, Andrew Paul, Jacob Greece, Joseph Sonenstine, Henry Young, William Lindsey, George Lattimer and Christian Erret are recalled, and the descendants of these pioneers people the township, in the main, in this generation.
The troops of General Beall’s army had been called into service by the governor of the state for the purpose of protecting the northern frontier. General Beall went into camp in the south part of the township, about a mile west of Shenandoah, a half mile south of the “trail” and called the camp “Camp Council.” for there he was a council with the civil and military authorities as to future action.
The site for this camp was advantageous, especially from a ___ standpoint. After the land was cleared of timber, the troops had a good camp and parade ground; at its east side there is a ravine coursed by a small stream which empties into the Black Fork a half-mile below. From the slope of the ravine a spring gushed forth, whose waters are said to be pure and healthful.
When Gen. William Henry Harrison visited Camp Council to confer with General Beall, he was entertained over night at the home of James McCart, near Ganges, and Mrs. McCart at his request, baked the general a “Johnnycake” for breakfast. Some years later Mr. McCart died and the widow married a Mr. Bigelow. In 1840 when General Harrison was a candidate for President of the United States, he visited Mansfield and in the crowd which greeted him was Mrs. Bigelow, his hostess of twenty-eight years before, whom the general recognized at once and gave her a cordial welcome. [Several sentences here were too light to read.] .
The first grist mill was built at Ganges—then called Trucksville—in 1816. The waters of the Black Fork furnished the motor power. A saw mill was also erected there. Jacob Stoner built a grist mill on Snip’s run, just west of Rome, which was the second mill in the township. There was another mill further up the stream, built by a Mr. Crosse. A mill was also erected on Camp Council run, which, like those on Snip’s run, was not operated many years on account of the waters in the streams diminishing in volume as the country was cleared. Samuel Rogers built a horse mill in the northeast part of the township, which he operated for some time. Later there was a steam mill at Rome, owned at one time by Walter H. Shupe, later known as “Father Columbia.”
The first school was opened in 1821, with Robert Finney as teacher. It was a subscription school, the teacher getting about eight dollars a month. The school house was a little log cabin and among the pupils were N. S. Guthrie and others who became prominent citizens and influential in public affairs.
The second school was in the Trucks and Ayers settlements.
In the religious field, the Presbyterians, Methodists and Disciples have church organizations, and other denominations may also be represented there, as Bloominggrove is in line with her sister townships in religion as well as in other affairs.
Of the distinguished men of Bloominggrove township of the past the consensus of opinion would place the name of the Hon. Exekel Chew at the head of the list having served as an associate judge of the court of common pleas from 1818 until the adoption of the new constitution. Judge Chew was born near Winchester, Va., May 13, 1805. He came to Ohio at an early day and settled in Bloominggrove township in 1822, and resided there until his death. The Chew homestead is on the “Beall Trial” half way between Rome and Shiloh. The residence is desirably situated, has a beautiful lawn, and as a home has always been noted for its pioneer hospitality. Judge Chew was a blacksmith and followed his trade for sixteen years in a “smithy” that stood on the south side of the road. William Baughman worked with Judge Chew as an apprentice and journeyman, then went to Missouri, where he prospered in politics as well as in business, as Judge Chew did in Ohio. Baughman served sixteen years in the legislature of Missouri, and had the honor of voting three times for the election of Thomas H. Benton to the United States senate. Jessie Benton, daughter of the distinguished senator, married General Fremont, the “Pathfinder,” who planted the American flag upon the crest of the Rocky Mountains. Mrs. Fremont’s death has just been announced.
Wolves were both numerous and troublesome when Bloominggrove township was first settled, and the pioneers had to put their sheep and hogs in enclosures at night to protect them. When driven by hunger the wolves would sometimes succeed in getting inside of these enclosures and kill pigs and sheep. Upon such occasions they usually gorged themselves to such an extent that they could not get out of the pen as easily as they had entered, and were killed the next morning by the proprietor.
Of the wolf stories told the following are given: John Guthrie was riding along a path one evening and when nearing his home he detected in the gloaming a pack of wolves ahead of him. One broke from the pack and jumped at his horse’s head. The frightened animal sprang so suddenly to one side that Mr. Guthrie was unhorsed and falling to the ground was at once attacked by the wolf. His half-wolf dog came to his rescue and attacked the wolf with such ferocity that it turned from Guthrie to defend itself and ere the pack would ere the pack could come to its relief, Mr. Guthrie had taken refuge in a tree where he remained until the wolves had left. The horse did not wait to see the programme through and the dog put in his appearance at home the next day and his looks indicated that his fight had not been a “glove contest.”
Hogs in those days ran at large and in the fall they ____on chestnuts and acorns, then so plentiful in the forest. And one day as the Guthries were ___ hay, a wolf chased a pig into the meadow. [Several more sentences too light to read]
The Stoner family was noted among the pioneers. Two sisters of Mrs. Stoner had been taken prisoners by the Indians when quite young and grew up among them. One of them married a half-breed to whom she had two children, the elder of which married an Indian named Johnnycake.
The Hon. J. M. Hunter was born in Bloominggrove township and the greater part of his life has been passed within its borders. He has now retired from active farm life and resides at Shiloh. Mr. Hunter was for a number of years superintendent of the Richland county Infirmary. He served two terms in the Ohio legislature and is an active factor in the politics of the county and state.
O. F. Wolford lives two miles north of Shenandoah, and has one of the most imposing residences in the township. Thirty years ago he was employed at the Aultman-Taylor works, but preferring farm life, he returned to Bloominggrove township, where he has broad acres, beautiful fields and an elegant home.
The Creveling, the Miller, the Ferrell, the Zeigler, the Hackett, the Cleland, the Moser, the Lattimer, the Copeland, the Hammond, the Crouse and other families will receive mention in the future and chapters will be given of the several towns and their people.
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