Richland Co., Ohio
source: Mansfield News, 24 October 1903
Submitted by Jean and Faye
History of Richland County
By A J. Baughman
London is in the southwestern part of Cass township, on the line between section thirty-three and thirty-four, and was laid out in 1832, by John Snyder, Abraham Fox, and Michael Conrod. The plat consisted of forty-seven lots, and upon a number of them buildings were erected within a short time after the survey. Abraham Fox erected a business building, partly brick and partly frame, on a corner lot of the cross streets, and opened a store of general merchandise. John Fireoved afterwards kept store in the same building. Mr. Keller had a blacksmith shop and other lines of business incident to those days were so represented.
London was the second attempt at town-building in what is now Cass township. Salem, a mile northeast of Shiloh, having been previously founded. Five years after London sprang into existence, Richland (Plankton) was platted.
There are affairs and conditions peculiar to every age, and in that of the early settlement of the county, town-platting was in vogue, not so much as a matter of speculation as for the convenience of the settlements. The aim was not to build a large town, but a number of small ones. Wordsworth wrote that “a small service is the true service,” and that -“The daisy, by the shadow that it casts, Protects the lingering dew-drop from the sun.”
London is located at the crossing of the Mansfield-Plymouth road with the road running east from the north part of Shelby to the State road north of Ganges. It is about twelve miles northwest of Mansfield, six miles south east of Plymouth and two miles northeast of Shelby. Had primitive ways and conditions continued London would no doubt be today a town of considerable importance. Instead, it is now little more than a small number of farm houses, like country homes on the group plan.
While passing from the old to the present condition of affairs is regretted upon sentimental lines, the beneficial results of the change are universally admitted. The National road was a great blessing to the country, and did its share toward hastening the national growth and development. But in the end it was superseded by better things which owed to it heir coming. Historic roads there had been before the great pike, was built, but none in all the past had been the means of supplanting themselves by greater and better means of communication and transportation. The far-famed Apian way witnessed many triumphal processions, but it never was the means of bringing into existence something better to take its place. But the conditions existing when the village of London was founded, paved the way to the higher and more advanced civilization which followed.
The nearly three-fourths of century since this little village in Cass township was platted has been a busy period in American history. The great, complicated systems of municipal, state and federal government have been perfected and harmonized, and American commerce has found its way into the principal ports of the world and the American flag has floated in triumph upon every sea. New territory has been acquired. Wars with foreign nations have been successfully waged; a gigantic rebellion has been suppressed, and in letters of blood it has been written that the American Union must and shall be preserved.
It has been said that the American people forget old-time conditions as readily as they accept new ones, and for the reason the new order of things is an improvement over that of the days when little villages were springing up, dotting Richland county here and there along its fertile valleys and upon its upland stretches.
London is situate upon one of these lovely uplands and commands charming views of both “earth and sky.” The country around and about the villages is especially attractive in the Indian summer season, when fleecy clouds at times hang above the horizon like sensuous folds in the hazy air, and the sun-kissed atmosphere throws a beautiful sheen upon the autumn colors that bedeck both fields and woodlands.
In 1832 - the same year London was laid out - a log building was erected for a church south of the village, for the pioneers were a Christ-loving people. In the earlier times they held services in the cabins of the settlers, but as the settlements grew, churches were built. About 1842, the log church was succeeded by a handsome frame building. While this church is over the line, in Jackson township, it is called the “London church” on account of its proximity to the village
The country abounded in game even after London was founded, especially with deer and wild turkeys. At an earlier date, the Indians traded with the settlers in venison and furs. The Indians also engaged in amusements with the whites, such as running foot races and pulling fingers. The settlers could usually out-run the Indians, for a short distance but the latter could hold on the longer. As it was said of Dryden and Pope, that “if the flights of Dryden are higher, Pope continued longer on the wing.” The settlers were also the stronger in their fingers in finger-pulling matches.
At one time when a number of pioneer families were enjoying the hospitality of Giles Swan, south of London, a party of about a dozen drunken Indians came upon them. Tact and diplomacy had to be used to placate and assuage the Indians. After the usual greetings were exchanged, the Indians were invited to give a dance, to which, after some persuasion they consented, and a fire was kindled in the open space before the cabin. An Indian sang a war-song, keeping time on a clap-board with his knife and hatchet, while the others ranged themselves around the fire, danced, gesticulating furiously and yelling like demons. The subject of the Indian song was said to be the ancient exploits of their tribe in wars and their triumph over their enemies. It was an epic song and seemed to set aflame the Indian war spirit, and in grotesque dancing tried to appease their war-gods., according to the usages of their tribe When the Indians had concluded their dance, they requested the settlers to dance “as white folk dance.” and after the request had been complied with, both the settlers and the Indians joined together in dancing, which was kept up until
“Some wee short ayont the twal.”
Abraham Bushey, now a resident of Shelby, was reared in the vicinity of London, where he still owns a farm. His father, Andrew Bushey, settled near London in 1836. Abraham Bushey married a daughter of pioneer Solomon Fireoved, who was a soldier in the war, and participated in the battle of Lundy’s Lane, where he was wounded.
Henry Wentz is a son of pioneer Henry Wentz, who came to Richland county in 1839. The present Henry Wentz, is now a prominent citizen of Shelby. He served in the war of the Rebellion as a member of Co. E. Eleventh Indiana Volunteer Infantry, under General Lew Wallace, and participated in a number of battles and was wounded in the service. Of the forty-three men of his company who went into the fight at Champion Hills, May 16, 1863, only fifteen returned, twenty-eight being killed or wounded and left upon the field.
George Dick settled in Cass township before London was founded. George and Sarah Dick were the parents of eleven children, a number of whom with grandchildren are prominent people in that part of the county.
John Buck settled a mile east of London and built one of the first brick residences in that part of the county. Prior to coming to Ohio, he had borrowed five hundred dollars in gold from a friend in Philadelphia. To repay this Mr. and Mrs. Buck labored faithfully and hard and saved their earnings. They finally accumulated the amount and to pay it in the same kind of coin, in 1830, the wife, Mrs. Jane Buck, took the five hundred dollars in gold to Philadelphia and paid the debt. She made the entire trip to and from Philadelphia on horseback and alone, as her husband could not spare the time from his farm work to take the journey. This incident is given to show the honesty, courage and pluck of the men and women of seventy years ago
In every community there can be found a man whose name is pre-eminently connected with the history of his town or locality, its growth, development and its wealth. Such men are seldom obtrusive, but the masses feels their presence, though it is not thrust upon them, and almost insensibly, but no less surely, do they leave their impress upon the character, institutions and development of that community such a man is Col. John Dempsey, is proprietor of the Mohican sta _____ which lies between Shelby and London. The colonel’s beautiful grounds and home has _____ for them which is _____ either with _____ or ______ . His house with its white
verandas, sits in the center of beautiful grounds, studded with Centennial maple trees of his own planting and named in honor of the one hundredth anniversary of the American republic. As a man, Colonel Dempsey is held in high esteem and is noted for his p___form courtesy, personal integrity, generous, sympathetic nature and for his consistent life. As a citizen, he is public-spirited, and in the darkest hour of the civil war, he gave his services to the country of his adoption to fight for its integral unity under one government and one flag. His broad and well-balanced mind has been disciplined by thought and by his business contact with the world. Although he has always been a busy man, he enjoys the leisure of his home, which is presided over by his charming and accomplished daughter, who joins with her father in extending hospitality to their many friends.
Referring again to London, the little village is about a mile southeast of the confluence of Bear Run and the Blackfork of the Mohican, and its situations is sufficiently high to afford ample drainage for the fertile and well-cultivated farms of that locality.
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