Pioneer Farmers:  Men of Might Who Founded the Good County of Richland

Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Records

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Pioneer Farmers:  Men of Might Who Founded the Good County of Richland

Source:  RICHLAND SHIELD & BANNER:  27 July 1895, Vol. LXXVIII, No. 11


Submitted by Amy


The readers of the SHIELD from week to week have been told of the old lawyers of the county, and of some of the sons of Galen and Esculapius.  Yet after all, these two classes as such were not, and their successors of today are not, producers;  rather are they consumers, and sometimes destructive and wasteful members of the body politic and the community.

It must be remembered that the lands of Richland County in the very beginning were subject to survey and division into congressional townships, sections, half and quarter sections.  A section contained 640 acres, a half section half that number of acres, and a quarter only 160 acres of land.  There was the school section in every township -- section 16 -- but it was divided into quarters.  And lands of the Virginia military district were also surveyed and divided as other congressional lands.

That which I desire to note and impress is that there were no large bodies or tracts of land, as in the south-eastern part of Ohio, arising from the Ohio Company's purchase, or as was secured in the south-west, near the city of Cincinnati, where, if I am not mistaken, a million acres of land were secured from the general government by a single individual acting for himself and associates.

There were in different parts of Ohio special grants of fairly large tracts of land.  In Tuscarawas county three tracts of 4,000 acres each, in all 12,000 acres, were granted by an act of congress to the Moravian church.  Nothing of this sort attached to any part of old Richland.  In Texas one individual may hold an area of land equal in extent to some of the small duchies or countries of Europe.  So in California and in each state and territory made up of the acquisition from Mexico by conquest or by purchase.  Even in Oregon and Washington an early settler was entitled to receive, simply for settling, 1,280 acres of land, soil as rich and productive as is found within the confines of the republic.  But there was nothing of this wealth producing method for the men who were the pioneers of Richland county.  In many counties in Ohio lands were given in large tracts to the soldiers who aided in gaining independence, and the men of the Virginia line and their descendants gained great farms, as in Madison and other counties in southern Ohio.

But to the glory of the first settlers of old Richland let it be recorded and ever remembered that they were poor in the purse, but rich in hope and health, and lovers of liberty and willing toilers for themselves, their wives and sons and daughters, and as a rule the first settler secured a quarter section of land only.  On it he built his cabin home, to it he moved wife and children, if such were his environment, and if it were not he made quick work in securing a companion and God gave the children.

It must also be remembered that old Richland was heavily timbered.  The forest was almost impenetrable.  The tall, wide, spreading oaks, the beech and the hickory, the walnut and chestnut, the poplar and the maple were everywhere, while the elm and sycamore thickly studding the low lands, fringing the streams, and the buckeye and the dogwood were a beauteous vision to the pioneers.

One of the prairies of Illinois and Iowa, on the plains of Kansas and Nebraska, can make a farm the second year of occupancy.  Not so was it in Richland County.  The forest must needs be felled.  The prosperous pioneer was a practiced axman.  Then the roots of the trees were in the way for a score of years.  Notwithstanding all this, what a goodly land is our old county.  The pioneers, let them ever be remembered with gratitude and love.

In July, 1861, I was called into Weller Township to prepare the will of such a pioneer.  He had lived to that date and he was greatly troubled over the fact that rebellion was in the south land.  I especially refer to this one, then old man, for he was a type of our civilization -- a type of our pioneers.  This old friend had long lived in old Richland.  Within its borders he had raised his family.  Originally of the Jeffersonian-Jacksonian school of politics, yet there had come to him a vision, that somehow, some of the men of his party had forgotten that the apostle of Democracy was Thomas Jefferson and that they, while flying the flag of Democracy, were doing the deeds of an oligarchy;  and old Levi Stevenson was sore at heart.  I have named him my old pioneer, he was my friend, his sons have been my friends and his descendants to the third generation.

Physically not large, yet vigorous and of fair proportions.  Mentally well equipped, he kept abreast of public opinion, sometimes just in the advance and leading it.  His mind was well stored with the salient facts of history of our own and the other countries of the world.  A good conversationalist, attached to his friends, and his eye, always keen and bright, blazed with light when the subject matter of consideration affected the honor and glory of the republic, the growth and progress of Ohio and the good and prosperity of old Richland.

My old friend Levi Stevenson, did not long survive after the date of my professional call at his home.  It would have gladdened his heart if in his days of life the end of the rebellion had come, but he, like one of the old, was only permitted to see the beginning of the events which, under a wise Providence and the guiding hand of Abraham Lincoln, were to assure to our undivided, indivisible union freedom for all men and the utter destruction of slavery under the starry flag -- under "Old Glory".  -- H.C.H.

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