St. John's in Monroe Twp.

Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Information

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St. John's in Monroe Twp.

source:  Semi-Weekly News (Mansfield):  27 September 1898, Vol. 14, No. 80


Submitted by Amy


St. John's Lutheran Church is in the southeast corner of Monroe Township, half-way between Newville and Perrysville.  In the vocabulary of that part of the country, "St. Johns" is used as a synecdochial term, meaning either the church, the locality or both.  While the church society was organized in 1838 a church building was not erected until 1842, services in the interim being held at the home of Mathias Stouffer and at other private houses.  A new church edifice -- a handsome and commodious brick building, costing about $5,000 -- was erected in 1870.  The congregation is a large, wealthy and prosperous one.

St. John's is situated in one of the richest valleys of the Clearfork -- a valley that is as beautiful in its landscape as it is fertile in its soil.  The township line running east and west divides this valley between Monroe and Worthington Townships.

The first settlement in the southeast part of Richland County was at St. John's and among the early settlers were Samuel Lewis, Capt. James Cunningham, Andrew Craig and Henry McCart.  In 1812 the "Lewis blockhouse" was built on the northeast quarter of section one in Worthington Township, about a mile south of where the church now stands.  In 1817 William Darling located in the St. John's valley.  Mr. Darling married Miss Mary Ravenscraft.  By hard work and economy Mr. & Mrs. Darling became wealthy and owned 1,185 acres of land in one tract, besides several other farms.  He was a soldier in the war of 1812, and although he returned unmaimed, years afterwards met with an accident while at work upon his farm, rendering the amputation of his right leg necessary.  Jonathan Darling also settled at St. John's in an early day, and a dozen, perhaps, Darling families -- descendants of the pioneers -- live in that valley today, the possessors of fine farms and beautiful homes.

William Norris, who lives on a 500-acre farm in "Possum Valley" also owns a fine tract of land which was a part of the original Darling tract, at the site of the former Indian village of Helltown, where the first bridge below Newville crosses the Clearfork.

In the St. John's valley is the Darling fort, an ancient earth-works, erected by a people of whom we know nothing.  Some of the finest specimens in the large collection of relics and curiosities owned by the late Dr. J.P. Henderson, were taken from this fort, which is situated on the north bank of the Clearfork, a short distance south of the church.  The fort is circular and contains an area of about three acres.  It had embankments from the gate of the south side leading down to the bank of the river.  It was visited, surveyed and explored by Judge Peter Kinney in his day.  The embankments were then about three feet high and the whole covered with a growth of timber which showed that the works had been made centuries before.  The fort commands a good view of the valley, and was, perhaps, intended as a defensive work.  The greater part, if not all, of these ancient earthworks were planned and constructed upon geographical and geometrical lines and measurements.  Their uses and purposes are matters of vague conjectures which the people of this age will never be able to determine.  Evidences exist of the occupation of this country by a race of people somewhat advanced in the arts and sciences, but who they were, from whence they came, and what became of them, are questions for speculative history.

The Pennsylvania element predominated in the early settlement of Monroe Township, but the proportion was not sufficiently large to leave distinctive racial characteristics among the generation of today.  For while Applegate, Coulter, Crawford, Craig, Andrews, Ferguson, Huston, Swigart and others came from the old Keystone state, Darling, McBride and Manner were from Virginia, Welty and Leiters came from Maryland, Stout from New Jersey, McDanel from Delaware, the Tuckers from New Hampshire, and Hogan from Ireland.  The Chews were of Welsh-English;  the Berrys of English-German and the Shracks, of Scotch-English descent.  Therefore the township does not present a fruitful field for students of anthropology and ethnography to pursue their studies and investigations, except upon the lines intermingling and intermarriage.

For several years, commencing, perhaps in 1855, the late Rev. W.A.G. Emerson was pastor of the congregation at St. John's.  Mr. Emerson was born in Fairfax County, Va., 1816, and died at Ashland, November, 1879.  He was of French descent and possessed many of the traits and polite accomplishments of his ancestry.  In many respects Mr. Emerson was an extraordinary man.  Although an aristocrat by birth and in bearing and address, his sympathies were with the poor and the unfortunate.  As a preacher he was one of the most eloquent and powerful.  The most appropriate words were always at his command, and he never hesitated for a term to felicitously express his thoughts.  His voice was under the most perfect control and capable of expressing all the emotions of the human heart.  His manner was earnest and impressive and his style pleasant and fascinating.  He threw such persuasive power and convincing force into his sermons that he electrified his hearers and swayed them at his will.  He loved to dwell upon the goodness of the Father and of the Savior's love, and his word-pictures were beautiful and entrancing.  In 1862, Mr. Emerson became chaplain of the 120th. O.V.I. and lost his health in the service.  Returning to Ashland he was elected probate judge of the county, but was not permitted to serve out his term, as his election was contested and decided in favor of his opponent.  Although a great preacher, Mr. Emerson was not successful financially -- and the majority of people are not -- but many who read these lines will hear witness that he was one of the greatest preachers of his day and generation.  

Time has made changes in the St. John's valley as it has elsewhere.  The Calhoon family has long been owned by the Manners, whose mother was a Calhoon.  The Weirick farm upon which, in 1848, a large an pretentious brick residence was built, is now owned by James Schrack.  The Williams' farm was later owned by john Herzog, and now he, too, is gone.  The Calhoun mills, long owned and operated by Thomas Calhoun, is now the property of John Darling, and one of David Zody's sons has the Stouffer farm, where Capt. Cunningham lived in the pioneer times.  Upon the upland north of the valley, William Rea located in 1816.  After his arrival here Mr. Rea married a Miss Eliza Swendal, and the Rev. Johnson, one of the pioneer ministers of Mansfield, solemnized the marriage.  Mary Jane, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Rea, married John Darling, son of the pioneer, William Darling.

One of the most unique wills on record in the Mansfield court house is that of the elder William Darling, to this will there is an appendix which states:

"Having been one of the pioneers of this part of Ohio the maker of this will, having emigrated from Hardy County, Virginia, in the year 1806, in company with his father and family, to Muskingum County, Ohio, and endured all the hardships, trials and privations incident to the settling and improving of a new county, I do give and bequeath my love, respect and goodwill to all my old associates and hope that by the intelligence, energy and untiring industry of growing posterity the prosperity of my beloved country may continue to increase as surely and rapidly as though we pioneers were still here to look for our country's welfare;  for, next to my love for my God and my family, is my love for my country -- these blessed United States.  May prosperity and peace ever be the lot of our happy, happy land."

Michael Hogan was one of [the] noted men in the history of Richland County.  His prominence was not due to official position, but to his worth and attainments.  Born in County Clare, Ireland, in 1793, he was graduated from the university of Dublin at the age of 17 years.  In addition to his classical education he also took degrees in medicine and surgery, but never practiced.  His father's estate being confiscated to the English crown, Mr. Hogan left his dear, native isle and came to America in 1818, and entered the service of the United States as a major in the regular army.  He came to Richland County and settled on a farm in Monroe Township in 1827, where he continued to reside until his death in 1875.  The farm is now owned by his children.

Major Hogan and wife were the parents of a large family of children, all girls except one.  Their son, Edmund Thomas Hogan, read law in Mansfield with the Hon. Thomas W. Bartley;  he afterwards went to California where he became a judge of the court.

Major Hogan was a man of commanding appearance and stately bearing.  He could read the history of the leading countries of Europe, each in its own tongue.  Like all true Irish men, the major was proud of the isle of his birth.  

-- A.J. Baughman

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