Richland Co., Ohio
source: Mansfield News, 14 March 1903
Submitted by Jean and Faye
Troy township was organized Sept. 5, 1814. Prior to this date this territory was included in Jefferson township. At its organization, Troy was eighteen miles in length from east to west, and six miles from north to south. This area included all of Washington and North Bloomfield townships. In March, 1816, Washington township was created, leaving Troy six by twelve miles in extent. March 4, 1823, the size of Troy was again reduced by the creation of North Bloomfield, on the west, leaving Troy six miles square.
Morrow county was created in 1848, which took thirteen sections from Troy, leaving the township irregular in form, there being a pan-handle at the northwest corner, and a jog at the southwest corner.
The first permanent settlement in Troy was made in the winter of 1811-12. The first land entered in the township was the west half of section 12 by William Gass, in 1811. The next was the southwest quarter of section 11, by Francis Mitchell. Government land then sold at $2 an acre. In the spring of 1812, Amariah Watson located there with his family, having previously entered the north half of section 24. Elisha Robins and family also came in 1812. Others soon joined the little colony, among the number being Calvin Culver, Wesley Spratt, William and Daniel Cook, Samuel McCluer, Ezekial Boggs, Alexander Abernathy, Noah Cook, A. J. and Henry Winter--, Thomas Scott and others.
Lexington was laid out in 1812, on land owned by Amariah Watson, who built the first house—a log cabin—upon the site. The second cabin was built by Jacob Cook. These cabins had port-holes, blockhouse fashion, for the purposes of defense against the Indians.
Amariah Watson was instrumental in many ways in furthering the interests of the Lexington settlement. In founding its industries and in developing the country, and his name is interwoven with the early history of that part of Richland county. The Rev. Orville E. Watson—a descendant of pioneer Watson—is a priest of the Episcopal church, and holds the position of Canon in Trinity cathedral at Heveland. Canon Watson visited friends in Mansfield last week, and assisted the Rev. J. J. Dimon, rector of Grace Parish, at the Lenten service, Wednesday evening, and preached. He was the celebrant at the Thursday morning service. Canon Watson is a young man of fine promise, and it is hoped and predicted that he may ere many years be entitled to have the sleeves of his surplice gathered at the wrists.
The first election in Troy township was held Oct. 4, 1814, and resulted in the election of Amariah Watson, clerk, C. Culver, constable, John Young, Jacob Mitchell and Solomon Culver, trustees. The second election was held April 3, 1815, at which Daniel Mitchell was elected clerk, Solomon Culver, John Young and Jacob Mitchell, trustees; John Vandorn, constable; Ichabod Clark and Andrew Perkins, fence-viewers; Samuel Watson, appraiser; Jacob Cook, lister; Amariah Watson and Samuel McCluer, overseers of the poor; Aaron Young, William Cass, Alexander Mann and Amariah Watson, supervisors. The treasurer gave a bond of $400, with Amariah Watson as security. From this humble beginning, Troy has advanced with her sister townships. And while no cities have grown up within her borders, the people have prospered. The greater number of Troy township farms are fertile and productive in soil, and in appearance form landscape views both pleasant and beautiful.
Judge William Gass, who settled in Troy township in 1812, was the father of the late Col. Isaac Gass, and Samuel Davis, who settled on the northeast quarter of section 11 in 1825, was the father of the Hon. Henry P. Davis, of Mansfield.
Grist and sawmills were erected on the Clearfork in 1812-14, and contributed largely to the business of the new settlement, and stores of general merchandise were opened at Lexington by William Darnell and J. F. Adams. Each succeeding year brought new settlers, and in time all the land in Troy had been entered, and town and township grew apace with the other sections of north central Ohio.
In the religious field, the Rev. Henry George was the first minister in Troy, and he did an itinerant work, preaching in different places. He was a stone-mason and worked at his trade during the week. Pioneer preachers were worthy and useful members of those early settlements. They seldom received any salary from their congregations but, nevertheless, they carried the “Banner of the Cross” along the borders of the wilderness, notwithstanding the dangers that beset them. Some of them may have been faulty in their English and may occasionally have said “had went” as was said in fashionable Ohio pulpit during the year last past.
In 1816, the Rev. George Van Eman, a Presbyterian minister, began preaching at Lexington, and the first church building was erected by that denomination in about 1831.
Several denominations soon had organized societies in Troy, among the number being the Old School, the New School and the United Presbyterians, the Baptist, the United Brethren, the Universalists and the Methodists. The township, outside of Lexington, had its churches, also. A United Presbyterian church was built a mile and a half northwest of Lexington, and was called “Troy church.” A mile north of Troy, the Methodists had a church called “Fairview.” Each is now numbered among the “has beens.”
The Congregational church at Lexington was organized as a New School Presbyterian society in 1844, by the Rev. James B. Walker, who later served as pastor of the Congregational church at Mansfield. The Rev. Mr. Walter was a writer of note of both prose and poetry. His “Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation,” and other works treating of nature and revealed religion, were republished abroad in several languages. “The Angel Whisper,” and other poems, gave him a high place as a poet. While Mr. Walker was successful as a minister and parishioners may feel pride in having a pastor who has literary ability, whatever fame a minister may win in that line, is usually attained at the expense of his ministerial vocation. But few men are endowed with the two-fold ability of succeeding in the ministry or in the law, and also in literature. The Rev. Mr. Walker was an exception to this rule.
The Rev. James Johnson , who was pastor of the United Presbyterian church in Mansfield from 1821 to 1852, also preached for several years for the Troy congregation. The Rev. Mr. Johnson was a remarkable man, being of fine presence and address, an indefatigable worker and an eloquent speaker. He died in 1858.
Noah Cook, who came to Troy township in 1814 and died in 1834, did much in those intervening twenty years to promote religious interests. Upon one occasion when he held service in a country school house, no one came to attend the meeting, but he did not permit that to disconcert him. A passerby heard him singing and stopped to listen. Mr. Cook then read and prayed and preached as though the benches were auditors with ears to hear and souls to save. The report of this meeting was noised about with the result of good congregations at subsequent services. Noah Cook was a soldier in the war of the revolution. He was also a soldier in Col. Crawford’s ill-fated expedition, and encamped at the big spring, where Mansfield now stands, in 1782.
In the grand galaxy of ministers for which Troy has been noted, the Rev. Orville L. Cook, of the present day, must not be omitted. The Rev. Mr. Cook is the son of Carter L. Cook and a descendant of Pioneer Noah Cook. In a young man of fine ability, who by his distinctive individuality, earnest work and eloquent words has won a success in the ministry that few even ever reach. He is the pastor of the Christian church at Lexington.
In pioneer times religious services were frequently held in the log cabin homes of the settlers. At one of these cabin meetings an amusing incident occurred, for amusing things do sometimes take place even at devout religious services, and as the incident referred to was followed by good results, its narrative is permissible. Although it is vouched for by an old resident as having occurred in these parts, it favors somewhat of a Wilson Lee story, the principal change being in the venue. The children of the family in whose home the meeting was held, had a pet lamb that had been taught to “butt.” The children would make motions at it with their heads, and the lamb would dart forward at them and then they would jump aside to avoid being hit. Upon this occasion a man came to the meeting in a somnific state of intoxication. He quietly took a seat near the door, and was soon asleep. The pet lamb was in the house, and seeing the man nod, mistook the motion as a challenge for a butting contest, and butted the sleeper over on the floor, to the consternation as well as the amusement of the audience. That was the last time the man was intoxicated, and sometime after the incident he united with the church and became one of its most useful members.
The residents of Troy township have always had faith in their country and contributed to its advancements and its achievements. With pardonable pride they say, “We are Trojans.” Thebes and Babylon passed into oblivion because they had no poet to sing their praise and no writer to record their history. But the history of Troy township and the valor and gallantry of her sons, and the grace, beauty and accomplishments of her daughters have been graphically portrayed and faithfully sketched by Correspondent Moore, whose versatile pen keeps the readers of the News fully informed of people and events in that vicinity.
In the list of interesting localities in Troy township, King’s Corners has an important place. In the years that are past, ‘Squire Jacob King’ was an influential and prominent resident of that locality, and the “Corners” were named in his honor. He was the father of J. King, of Mansfield. “Squire King built a saw mill on the branch of the Clearfork that runs a short distance south of the corners. This mill was a valuable industry in its times, and was operated for a number of years.
James Summers, who was county recorder in 1844-47, built a large brick residence upon his farm at the Corners. This house was one of the largest and best of its kind in the county at the time it was built. Since Recorder Summers’ time the house has been owned by the Maxwells for two generations. It is now the residence of D. C. Maxwell.
John W. Needham, father of Jerry Needham, settled near the locality known as the “jog,” over sixty years ago. The Needhams are prosperous, influential and worthy people.
Moses Sowers and Allen B. Beverstock located at Lexington in 1832, and were the leading merchants there for many years.
But as this sketch deals principally with the township, the history of Lexington and Steam Corners will be given in another chapter, with mention of prominent residents of the past and of the present.
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