Richland Co., Ohio
source: Mansfield News, 03 October 1903
Submitted by Jean and Faye
History of Richland County
By A J. Baughman
Darlington was originally called Hagerstown - named for Christopher Hager, the first settler on the town site. For post office reasons the name was changed to Darlington.
Darlington is the only town in Perry township. Perry is six miles long from north to south, and three miles wide from east to west, and contains eighteen sections. The location of Darlington is a little southwest of the center of the township.
The first store in the little village was opened as a branch of a Johnsville concern. Later there were stores there which were owned and conducted by residents of the village. One was by Ruhl & Ackerman, who were succeeded by Mack Paxton. Mr. Paxton married a Miss Hines, and they were residents of Darlington for a number of years - perhaps until his death.
William James was the first blacksmith of the village. A dry goods store, a grocery, wagon, blacksmith and other shops constituted the business of the place thirty-five years ago, and the town being simply a country village has changed but little in the years that are past.
The first settlement in Perry township was made in 1809 by John Frederick Herring on the east side of section eleven.
Peter Weirick located on section 12 in 1811, and about the same year John Cook settled in the Lost Run region, in the southwest part of the township.
How familiar are the names of such prominent Perry township people as Ruhl, Hardman, Hiskey, Hosack, Walters, Craven, Shively, Eckert, Thoms, Eby, Streby, Baughman, McKinley, Shafter, Olin, Cover, Zimmers, Phillips, Strome, Lantz, Hanawalt, Goss, Levering, Bigbee, Follin, Painter, Culp, Erow, Black, Baker, Poland, Steele, McDonald, Huntsman, Algire, Poorman, Goodhart, Bisel, McPhern, Frary, et al. These names are household words in the southwestern part of Richland county and represent, in the main, families of prominence and probity, and many of them were pioneers and helped to clear the county and change the forest land into farms. The township was heavily timbered, beechwood trees being quite numerous.
A formidable amount of work confronted the pioneers - the building of homes and barns, clearing and fencing the land. Then came planting and sowing and the cultivating and harvesting the crops. The first buildings were log-cabins. Logs of a suitable size were cut to the length required, hauled to the cabin site, and neighbors invited to the “raising.” An aveman went to each corner to notch and fit the logs and put them in place. The cabins were covered with clapboards, which were held in place by “weight-poles.” Floors and doors were made of “puncheons.” After the advent of the saw-mills, boards superseded puncheons.
Roads had to be made and streams bridged. What stupendous work was done by the pioneers - work of which no written record has been left of it doing, for although they made history, they did not write it. It is a fact that the typical pioneer said but little about his exploits, and vaunted not of his work. It is the same with soldiers. Take the men who served a few months in the Civil war, what stories they spin, as did Othello tell the fair Desdemona, the hair-breath escapes, of battles and of sieges in which they were engaged, while the veterans who served from the start to the finish of the war, say but little about the bloody conflicts through which they passed. They were brave in war, but are not boastful in peace.
It has been stated that the pioneer annalist left his diary to his son, who lost it in moving to the far west, and that thereby the story of the lives of the first settlers exist largely in tradition.
In an address delivered in the Lutheran church, Mansfield, Sept. 15, 1885, the late Hon. Henry B. Curtis, in speaking of the character of the pioneers said in substance that it is a great mistake to suppose that our fathers were of less culture in the arts and sciences, and all the elements of civilization, then the succeeding generation. On the contrary, the natural character of the men, and the advantages they had received in earlier life, gave them an ascendancy to which the first generation that followed could not attain for the want of these accessories. So that it often happened, that the growing family of sons and daughters in the absence of schools, were wholly or largely, dependent upon their parents for such teaching and instructions, as other pressing labors would permit them to give. Hence in contemplating the character of our fathers we must go back beyond the generation that succeeded, and remember the men in their individual and collective relations; in the great qualities that fitted them to lay the foundations of government.
Many of the settlers of even a later date were not what would now be called society people, and may not have been profound in their knowledge of theological dogmas, and their notions with respect to dietary matter; may not have been in accordance with the “dry town” views of today, but they were industrious and helpful to each other, fought fair fights and asked odds of no one.
What is not presently done in the way of getting authentic records of the lives and works of the pioneers will never be accomplished.
Perry township contains half-a-dozen churches, representing perhaps an equal number of denominations. The church membership in proportion to the number of inhabitants will bear favorable comparison with that of any other township in Richland county.
In the years of the past there were more demonstrative manifestations of feeling at revival meetings than are exhibited today. Two churches prominent in such exhibitions were Center church in Perry and Easterly’s in Worthington township. At these, “shouting” was a nightly occurrence. One, Adam Bechtel, who had been unable to “get through” at a revival at Center church, prayed one night that a sign might be given him. A few hours later the bible fell from a shelf, and upon picking it up Mr. Bechtel opened it at the passage “He brought me up also out of a horrible pit.” This converted Bechtel and gave the religious excitement new impetus. Physical manifestations at religious gatherings in America date back to at least the year, 1803. The “jerks” started first in East Tennessee, and later spread over a considerable portion of the country. In Ohio, “jerks” were first manifested at Austinburg in Ashtabula county, in 1803, in the first church built on the Western Reserve. A person having the “jerks” would jerk, or throw his head involuntarily from side to side with such rapidity that fears were entertained lest he should dislocate his neck or dash out his brains. “Shouting” was a less demonstrative state of the “jerks” sometimes the exercise would be in jumping or dancing, terminating, perchance, in a trance-like condition.
Religious effort upon correct lines and properly directed is commendable above all things else. But men sometimes want to “improve” the Christian religion, and are not content with “the faith once delivered to the saints.” Considering the tendency of the times, one can well exclaim with the prophet, Jeremiah, “Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way.”
Pioneer ministers did not receive large salaries, but did their full share of the work of civilization. In 1806 the Rev. Peter Cartwright received only forty dollars a year, and in 1823, Bishop Asbury’s salary was but sixty-four dollars. The salary received by the Rev. James, a Methodist minister in Mansfield in the “teens,” was but a mere pittance, although he had circuit as well as local work. The Rev. James erected a house on the northwest corner of Adams and Third streets, which is still standing, and is the oldest building now in Mansfield.
President William H. Harrison characterized the early preachers as “a body of men who for zeal and fidelity in the discharging of the duties they undertook are not exceeded by any other in the whole world. I have been a witness of their conduct, in the western country for nearly forty years. They are men who no labor tires, no scenes disgust, no dangers frightens in the discharge of their duty.”
All over the land, missionaries kept ahead of the march of civilization. Along before any other white men had traversed the country of the great lakes, the Jesuit priests had unfurled the banner of the Cross on their farthest shores. When the Hurons were driven from their homes by the Five Nations, the priests shared with them their sufferings and their exile. To convert the Indians, they endured privations and hardships, and faced dangers, knowing they would receive no earthly reward for their services.
To an interrogation, a priest one replied: “Yet, I am already rewarded, for this day I rescued from a burning building a dying child, to whom its mother allowed me to administer baptism, and that alone amply rewards me for my years of service for the Master” “What faith sublime, what love divine.”
Darlington had a fine location upon a plateau-like elevation, and seems to sit upon the “roof of the earth.” The surrounding country stretches out like a billowy ocean of green with farm houses glittering in the sunlight miles away. To the north, the Clearfork of the Mohican courses through a lovely valley, and to the southwest, Lost Run, a tributary of the Kokosing, washes the base of the hill and laves the banks of the meadows.
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