History of Plymouth Twp. by A.J. Baughman

Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Information

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Plymouth Twp.

source:  Mansfield News, 28 February 1903


Submitted by Jean and Faye


History of Richland County

By A J. Baughman.


Plymouth Township.

Plymouth township was organized Feb. 12, 1818, and as originally created was twelve miles long from east to west, and six miles wide from north to south.

By the creation of new counties and new townships, Plymouth was reduced in size to twenty-four sections--six miles from north to south and four from east to west.  This territory was surveyed by Maxfield Ludlow in 1807, but no settlement was made until several years later.  The land is generally fertile, slightly rolling, and an elevation extending across the township from east to west, is the “Portage” between the river and the lake.

In the survey, swamps and prairie land are occasionally noted, but the larger part of the township was heavily timbered.

The old Wyandot trail, from the Sandusky river to Pittsburg, passed across the northeast part of the township and through the present village of Plymouth.  This trail was widened into a road by General Beall’s army in 1812, and it was along this road that the early settlers of the north part of the county came, when hunting homes in the west.  Many of the first settlers of Bloominggrove and other northern townships had been soldiers under General Beall, who had opportunities when encamped upon the banks of the Whetstone, at Olivesburg, and at Camp Council in Bloominggrove township, and in marching along the “trail,” to see the beauty and the possibilities of the country, and at the close of the war returned to the forest scenes of their military operations, entered land and became pioneer settlers, and their descendants are today influential citizens of the county.

Abraham Trux was the first settler in Plymouth township.  He built a cabin on the northwest quarter of section 5 in the spring of 1815.  John Concklin, Daniel Kirkpatrick, Robert Green and John Long also came in 1815.  John Morris, William and Daniel Prosser, Thomas McCluer, James Gardner, Michael Gipson and James Douglass came in 1816.  By 1818 there was a sufficient number of residents to organize a township.  The first election was held in the spring of 1818, and resulted in the election of Abraham Trux, justice of the peace, Stephen Webber, constable, John Concklin, John Long and Thomas McCluer, trustees.  A post office was established in 1817 on the military road a few miles east of Plymouth on section 4, now in Cass township.  Jacob Vanhouten was the first postmaster.

The first settlers were at considerable inconvenience in getting grain ground, and had to go miles to reach a grist-mill.  There was not sufficient water in that section to run mills in dry seasons.  Later, a number of horse mills were erected.  This was before steam was used as an operating power.

Whatever improvements have been made in Richland county, Plymouth township has shared those improvements.  Whatever advancements there have been along educational lines and in civic betterments, Plymouth is always in hue and touch with her sister townships

At irregular intervals for years past reports have been made of the discovery of coal in the north part of the county.  But, such discoveries never materialized.  The collapse of the recent “boom” was owing to the fact, as alleged, that the shaft had been “salted.”  It is a legitimate part of the work of a geological survey to expose and to prevent frauds, but not to assert that any particular individual has attempted or practiced a fraud.  Thus seams of carbonaceous matter or beds of bituminous shale may be reached by boring.  Coal, if discovered in Richland county, would have to be found below the carboniferous conglomerate, beneath which strata it has never been found in paying quantities.

The Pittsburg, Akron and Western railroad, which crosses the B. & O. at Plymouth, opened a market for the stone quarries, that has been a material help to that vicinity.  The Plymouth stone is of the Berea grit, the upper layers thin; the lower ones more massive and blue in color.

A story of a fight in Plymouth between two Irishmen comes down in the unwritten history of pioneer times.  These sons of Erin were neighbors living south of Plymouth.  Upon returning from a trip to the lake, they quarreled as to which side of a stump they should drive around at the corner of Main and Plymouth streets.  Their team was composed of a horse belonging to each:  therefore, each claimed to speak as having authority.  They stopped the horses and sat in the wagon and discussed the question, but as they could not agree, they proposed to decide the case by fighting.  They got out of the wagon and fought in the street.  Quite a crowd collected to see the performance, and while the “mill” was in progress the team started, went around the stump on the west side, and was then halted by one of the bystanders.  The Irishmen were separated and told the horses had decided the stump question, going around it by keeping to the right.  But the Irishmen replied that, although it was decided so far as the horses were concerned, it was still an open question between themselves, which they proposed to decide in their own way, and each taking a drink of whiskey from a jug in the wagon the pugilistic encounter was renewed, and finally they were worn down in the muddy street, “wallowing in the mire.”  A squire being present he commanded peace in the name of the state of Ohio, and the belligerents desisted from their strenuous contest, for the Irish are always loyal to those in authority.  After drinking again from the jug, they got into the wagon, avowing that they would fight it out when they got home.

Going to the lake in the old time meant a trip to Portland (Sandusky) or to Huron, the market marts on the lake.  Teams came in long processions from the interior of the state to the market ports of Lake Erie.  That markets are now at our doors is almost a literal fact.

One of the bear stories is the following:  Michael Trux, Charles Bodley, Jacob Wolf, Jedadiah Moorhead, Michael Gipson, Robert Yearian and other early settlers, were great hunters  Yearian made his own powder and guns, was a remarkable shot, as was also his son Frederick, who used a light rifle his father made for him.  It is related of this boy, when he was about 12 years old, he was one day separated from his father while hunting, and came suddenly upon a mother bear and her two cubs, upon whom he at once made war.  The ball from his rifle was, however, too small to do much execution, and the bear turned upon him, pressing him so closely that he had neither time to reload or climb a tree, and so ran in the direction of his father.  The latter seeing him coming and the bear at his heels, called to him to run past him, which Fred did, and as the bear passed Yearian planted one of his ounce balls in some vital part of the animal with such certainty and precision as to bring her down.  They then carried the cubs home for pets.

Blackman’s grove, in the southwest part of the township, where farmers’ picnics were held for a number of years, has been superseded by Holtz’s in Bloominggrove township. 

Monteith’s, two miles south of Plymouth, has become a picnic place, where a lake has been formed on the headwaters of the Huron river.

A gentleman returning to Plymouth after an absence of a number of years, inquired after Andrew and Eli Clark, G. W. Loveland, James Ralston, Benjamin Reynolds, Joseph Ruckman, M. K. Seller, S. H. Trauger, H. Westfall and others, who were prominent people in Plymouth township a decade or two ago, and the answer to each was “dead.”  How each decennial period removes from the living many of those who were influential in moulding the affairs of the county and in shaping its destiny a generation ago.


Plymouth has the honor and distinction of being the home of three men who were soldiers in the Mexican war--George John Heitzman, aged 82; Elias C. Gregg, 78, and Robert White, 75, their joint ages being 235 years.

George John Heitzman has served in three wars--the Seminole war in Florida, the Mexican war and the war of the Rebellion.  He was born in France Feb. 3, 1821: came to America in 1833.  Before attaining his majority he enlisted in the regular army (Seventh regiment) and served under General Taylor in the Seminole war in Florida.

Seminole means “Separatists,” or renegade, and the Indians known and the “Seminoles” had separated from the Creek confederacy and settled in Florida, and later were engaged in two wars with the United States--one in 1817-18, the other in 1835-1842.  The first was caused by the Seminoles making depredations upon the Georgia and Alabama frontiers.  In 1835 the Seminoles resisted the efforts of the government to remove them to reservations west of the Mississippi, and a war ensued which lasted seven years and was the most bloody and stubborn of all our Indian wars, and in this war Mr. Heitzman took an active and honorable part  In 1846--four years after the close of the Seminole war--the United States declared war against Mexico, and Mr. Heitzman again enlisted in the regular army - Company E, First Dragoons--and served under General Taylor from Matamoras to Buena Vista, and at the latter was promoted, for efficient services, from an orderly to an aide on the staff of Gen. John E. Wool.  During the civil war, Mr. Heitzman, then a resident of Kansas, served in the militia of that state, under Colonel Low, was engaged in several battles and assisted in driving the rebel General Price out of Kansas.  Mr. Heitzman has been a resident of Plymouth five years, making his home with his sister, Mrs. Mittenbuhler, the mother of County Infirmary Director Mittenbuhler.  Although Mr. Heitzman is a veteran of three wars, the government allows him only the small pension of $12 a month.  Action should be taken by the congress of the United Sates to at least double the pensions of the Mexican war veterans.

Captain Elias C. Gregg is 78 years old and has been a resident of Richland county ever since he was a boy.  He is a veteran of both the Mexican and the Civil war.  He was a member of Captain William McLaughlin’s Company A, Third Ohio Infantry, and served under General Taylor.  He was in the battle of Palo Alto, Monterey and Buena Vista.  Of the service of these troops in Mexico, President Polk, in a testimonial letter to General Taylor, wrote:  “Our army have fully sustained their deservedly high reputation, and added another bright page to the history of American valor and patriotism.  They have won new laurels for themselves and their country”

In the early part of the Civil war, Mr. Gregg enlisted in the Eighty-first Ohio Infantry and was in the battle of Shiloh.  Was later detailed on recruiting duty, and was then assigned to the Tenth Ohio Cavalry, with the rank of second lieutenant; was promoted to first lieutenant, then to captain.  Captain Gregg was through the hard cavalry service of the war, and was wounded in the fight at Bear Creek Station, while en route with General Sherman from Atlanta to the sea.  Mr. Gregg has followed school teaching the greater part of his life.  He has been honored by his party with nominations for county office.  He is now leading a retired life, has a comfortable home and pleasant surroundings.

Robert White was born in York county, Pennsylvania, Aug. 17, 1828.  He enlisted under the Hon Simon Cameron in May, 1846; was assigned to General Patterson’s brigade, and went through the long, hard service of our war with Mexico.  Comrade White was a member of the Seventeenth Indiana in the Civil war, and lost a limb in the fight with the rebels at Selma, Ala.  He can give interesting accounts of the scenes and services through which he has passed.  Plymouth has a patriotic pride in these war veterans which is commendable, for no other town of its size is so honored.


Col. John Dempsey lives in Plymouth township, but his “Mohican Farm” lies so near to Shelby and the colonel has been prominently identified with the history and business interests of the enterprising city for so many years, that he is usually mentioned in connection with Shelby and Sharon, instead of Plymouth township.  Colonel Dempsey has one of the best stock farms in the state, and one of the handsomest suburban residences in the county.

Henry L. Fenner, a trustee of Plymouth township, is a prominent farmer and business man.

A. T. Hills, a former Plymouth boy, is now a prosperous lawyer in Cleveland, and his brother James is clerk of court in Alaska.

Further personal mentions will be given in a chapter on Plymouth town.  Thanks are tendered to Lawyer Gunsaullus and to Editor Reed for courtesies and favors.

Second half of this article is from the MANSFIELD NEWS: 10 October 1903.



 Plymouth was first settled in 1815, but the town was not platted until May 17, 1825.  The village was first called Paris, but at its incorporation in 1838, the name was changed to Plymouth.

Plymouth has the distinction of being in two counties - the main street running east and west, being the line between Richland and Huron counties.  The post office is on the Richland county side of the line, the town is therefore always referred to as being in Richland county.

Plymouth became a village without the premeditation, plan or scheme of any land owner.  After the close of the war of 1812, people came from the east to locate in Ohio, and quite a number came along the Beall trail and settled in the north part of Richland county, and among them was one Abraham Trux, who erected a cabin on the headwaters of the Huron river, and became the first settler upon what later became the town site of Plymouth.  Other cabins were soon thereafter erected near the Trux’s for the convenience of neighborly associations, and thus without design a town was founded.

A reference to the close of the war of 1812, suggests the difference in both the methods and the time required in transmitting and receiving news in 1815 with our facilities of today.  The treaty of peace between the United Sates and Great Britain was signed at Ghent, Dec. 24, 1814, but the news of the same was not received here until a month later, and in the meantime the battle of New Orleans was fought, where General Jackson won his victory over the British.  How different now, with telegraph wires and cables spanning continents and encircling the globe.

At the time Plymouth was platted there were sixteen houses, all of them log buildings, on the town site and occupied severally by Abraham Trux, Patrick Lynch, Benjamin Wooley, James Young, Enos Rose, Abner Harkness, A. D.  W. Bodley, Haslo, John and Henry Barney, Christian Culp, B. F. Taylor, William C. Enos and Lemuel Powers.  The travel through the village caused taverns to be opened in accordance with the law of demand and supply.  Like other taverns of that period, three of the principal articles on the bill of fare were “hog, hominy and whisky.”  If these suited the guests, the present generation can be excused from registering a complaint now about what their forefathers ate four-fifths of a century ago.

Patrick Lynch was the first blacksmith in Plymouth.  William C. Enos the first lawyer.  Dr. Lemuel Powers the first doctor.  Mr. Howe the first school teacher, Mr. Curtis the first tailor, W. V. B. Moore and John Skinner the first shoemakers.  Hugh Long the first tanner, Robert Moorfoot the first bricklayer and plasterer, A. D. W. Bodley the first wheelright.  Anthony McLaughlin the first cooper,  James Drennan the first cabinet-maker, James Dickson, William Crall and Mr. Gilcrease the first carpenters, G. C. Graham, Mathew McKelvey and Wilson brothers the first merchants.  The first mayor of the village was Daniel Colckglazier:  the second, Ensign Benscheter:  the third, Robert Wilson.

Mr. McKelvey, who had a number of daughters, erected a two-room frame building in 1831, started an educational institution called a seminary, with competent teachers, which was successfully conducted for several years.

The first bank was started by a Mr. Barker in 1839, in connection with his mercantile trade.  After Mr. Barker’s death in 1859, the business was continued by Robert McDonough and S. M. Robinson until 1870, when Mr. McDonough opened a regular bank of discount and deposit, which was continued until his death in 1873.  After that, the First National bank was organized, with Josiah Brinkerhoff as president.  The present officers are:  D. F. Irwin, president and A. M. Trago, cashier.

Banker Barker was the father of Frank Barker, who was killed in Mansfield by his brother-in-law, Robert Mercer Bowland, about sundown on the evening of June 18, 1846.  The tragedy took place near the northwest corner of Main street and Park avenue west.  A broken-shaft monument in the Plymouth cemetery marks Frank Barker’s grave.  Green Lawn cemetery where he is buried, is a rolling, elevated tract of twenty-three acres of land, platted in nine hundred and forty lots, with walks and drives, and is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Ohio.

Plymouth always had able representatives in the legal profession.  In the past there were Downing H. Young, D. M. Stambaugh, W. W. Drennan, Sherman Culp, E. M. Young and others.  At present there are:  F. D. Gunsauline, H. T. Laughbaum and E. K. Tranger

Religious services were held at Plymouth at an early day, and church organizations effected.  The Rev. Wolf, a Presbyterian; the Rev. Arbuthnot, Covenanter and the Rev. McIntire, Methodist, were early missionaries there.  The Rev. Benjamin Wooley settled there and was a local minister of the Methodist church.  Nearly all the early ministers in the county preached in Plymouth at times.  Among the number were:  Bigelow, Boardman, Conger and Harry O. Sheldon.  The religious interests awakened in the little village of Paris in the long ago has ever since been maintained, and the churches of Plymouth today are an honor to the town.

The change of name from Paris to Plymouth was a felicitous one.  “What a name:” exclaimed the Bard of Avon.  There is much in a name.  Paris is suggestive of revolutions and of the guillotine - Plymouth, of the Mayflower and of the Pilgrims.  Names in both poetry and prose appeal to the imagination.  The title of a poem or story may induce its reading and conduce to its popularity.  Poetry and song contributed to the rapid settlement of Ohio on account of its name.  A stanza drops in here as a matter of history.  It is from one of the songs that were sung “down east,” at parties where kissing came in the games played by young people, many of whom later became settlers in Ohio.

                                                “Arise, my true love, and present me
                                                             Your hand,
                                                  And we’ll march in procession for a far
                                                             distant land,
                                                  When the girls well card and ping.
                                                  And the boys will plow and sow,
                                                  And we’ll settle on the banks of the
                                                             pleasant Ohio.”

Another song widely sung was the “The Hills of Ohio,” given as follows:

                                                  “The hills of Ohio, how sweetly
                                                        they rise,
                                                   In the beauty of nature to blend with
                                                        the skies;
                                                   With fair azure outline, and tall an-
                                                        cient trees,
                                                   Ohio, my country, I love thee for these.
                                                   The home of Ohio, free, fortuned and
                                                   Full many hearts treasure a sister’s
                                                        love there;
                                                   E’en more than they hillsides or stream
                                                        lets they please,
                                                   Ohio, my country, I love thee for these.
                                                   God shield thee, Ohio, dear land of my
                                                   And they children that wander afar o’er
                                                        the earth;
                                                   My country thou art, where’re my lot’s
                                                   Take thou to thy bosom my ashes at

This song was very popular in the past and its singing should be revived. The song is from Alexander Auld’s “Key of the West.”  He was the author of what was called the “patent-note” system, a change from the “four-note” scale of the “Missouri Harmony.”  How dear to the memory of the older class of people are the text books of half-century ago!  There were Webster’s “Elementary Spelling Book,” “McGuffey’s Readers,” “Ray’s Arithmetics” and Harvey’s and Pinneo’s grammars.  These books were studied under pedagogical instruction by the pupils of that period, but to recount those old school days would be interesting only to those who served under the old system of the “rod and ferule” rule, and to those who have been touched by the historical passion.

From the “Old Red” school house of the pioneer period, Plymouth advanced upon educational lines even more than it did in material growth.  In 1834, the town was divided into two school districts, but in 1849 they were re-united and organized under what was known as the Akron law.  Previous to 1835, special school laws were often passed for particular localities.  This was permissible under the old constitution.  The Akron law, enacted in 1847, made the town one school district, created a school board, authorized a suitable number of primary schools and one grammar school and conferred power to levy taxes sufficient to meet the expense of the system.  This law was also enacted for other towns.  Plymouth among the number.  The state school law of 1853 was little more than an application of the Akron law.  In 1875 a school building was erected in Plymouth at a cost of $25,000.  This has since been improved and the town today takes no second place in the educational march of the age.

A newspaper called the Journal was started in Plymouth in 1851.  Two years later the name was changed to the Advertiser, under which title it has been published for fifty years, George W. Reed is the present editor and proprietor and conducts a good, local paper.

Plymouth has two railroads - the Baltimore and Ohio and the Northern Ohio, and there are fair prospects that the Mansfield-Shelby trolley line will be extended through Plymouth to Norwalk the coming year.

Among the early settlers in Plymouth were the Brinkerhoffs, of Knickerbocker, and the Beviers, of Huguenot descent.  The Brinkerhoffs and the Beviers are related by marriage.  On Aug. 6 last, the Beviers and Conklin families held a reunion at Seaton’s park, attended by about one hundred people.  General Brinkerhoff gave an historical address, giving a sketch of the first Beiver family in America, following the same down to the present generation, and spoke of the corruption of the name from the original in French to the present Bevier.  He also paid a tribute to the high character of the Huguenots.  The custom of holding family reunions should be more generally observed, for thus family history is transmitted from generation to generation.

The Hon. Daniel Brewer, one of the distinguished citizens of Plymouth in the past, represented Richland county in legislature in 1847-9.  He was a fluent speaker and was an effective campaigner for Buck. Breck and the Union” in 1836.  The shibboleth of the other party in that campaign was “Freemont.  Free Speech and Free Kansas.”  Mr. Brewer is now deceased.

This chapter is so replete with historical matter as to almost exclude personal sketches, yet would seem incomplete without at least a mention of the venerable J. A. Tucker, who for many years has been a prominent citizen of Plymouth.  The shadow of his years are now lengthening toward the Better Land.  During his long, active life he always advocated what he considered right and for the betterment of his fellowmen

Since the founding of Plymouth many changes have taken place.  Changes wrought by American genius.  Genius is power.  The power that grasps in the universe, that soars out into space, and overcomes all obstacles.  Genius cannot be suppressed.

 “You may as well forbid the mountain
                                                    To wag their high tops, and to make
                                                              No noise
                                                     When they are fretted with the gusts
                                                              Of heaven.”

As to hush the voice of genius.  Genius loves toil, impediment and poverty, for from these it gains its strength, throws off the shadows and lifts its proud head to fame.

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