Richland Co., Ohio
Windsor and Fleming's Falls
source: Mansfield News: 15 August 1903
Submitted by Jean and Faye
History of Richland County
By A. J. Baughman
Windsor and Fleming‘s Falls.
West Windsor is in Mifflin township, and was platted March 31, 1837, by the Page brothers and Roger Moses. The Pages came from Windsor county, Vermont - hence the name of the place. The land upon which Windsor was platted was bought of Archibald Gardiner, where he settled in 1811. Windsor is six miles northwest of Mansfield, on the Ashland road. The Windsor run, a tributary of the Blackfork, crosses the main street of the village and waters one of the richest valleys in Ohio.
The first store in Windsor village was opened in 1839, by Alanson T. Page and John Conn. The first church was built in 1840, and the first minister was a Mr. Thorp. The congregation was of the Baptist denomination. The Baptists, in fact, early got possession of the religious field from Windsor to Five Corners.
Windsor grew and prospered, as did nearly all country villages in the first half-century of the settlement of the county, but when the A.& G. W. railway was run nearly a mile north of the village, it was evident that the road would injure instead of helping the town. Added to this was other conditions that were unfavorable to the place - the principal of which is that the day of country villages is a thing of the past. A few houses still remain as though to tell of the prosperity of other days.
Family names associated with the history of Windsor and vicinity are: Robinson, Ward, Osbun, Pittenger, Hagerman, Haverfield, Woodhouse, Hilton, Cotter, Sunkel, Morgan, Palmer, Horn, Shively, Minster, Mason, Fleming, Kohler and Hout.
Fleming’s falls is a mile south of Windsor, and was formerly a favorite place for picnic parties, but for some time past other resorts have presented more drawing attractions. Recently, however, a cottage has been put up, and the interest in the place may again be revived. Fleming’s equals Hemlock Falls in many features and the volume of water is larger, but its history tells only of the utilities of life, and its pages lack the glamour of fiction.
Two streams unite above the Falls, the Woodhouse run coming from the west, and the Vantilburg or Eby run coming from the southwest, forming Fleming’s run, which enters the Blackfork a mile or more below.
The first grist-mill in Mifflin township was built at the Falls by John Fleming, and the water-fall was used to run the mill, which Mr. Fleming operated for a number of years, and until a flood came and washed the mill away.
The approach in Fleming’s Falls after leaving the main road, is rough and steep. But pleasure seekers and visitors to historic places care little for the jostle of a journey, thinking only of the end to be reached.
John Russell Young, who accompanied General Grant in his tour around the world, states that when the party was passing from the plain of Sharon into the country of Joshua and Samson, the road they traveled was so rough and stony that they had to hold on to the side of the carts to retain their places. But there was not one in the party who cared for the discomfiture, for they were about to enter the Holy Land, and their eyes were bent toward Jerusalem, and looking with historic interest at the blue mountains of Judea. It was not the country itself, but the historical associations woven in and amid its hills, valleys and plains, that occupied their thoughts.
In passing Harper’s Ferry, one exclaims - “What grand mountains, what beautiful scenery!” but the historian unmindful of landscapes and mountains, thinks only of the events that transpired there - of John Brown’s raid and of events which transpired there in the awful conflict of the civil war that followed.
A notable change in the affairs of the past to that of the present is in the relative contrast of the county-seat with the other towns in the county. Then, it was deemed necessary to have at least one village in each township. Each town had one or more stores where the farmers bought whatever was needed in the line of merchandise, and there were shops wherein manufacturing was done in needed lines in a small way. If a wagon was wanted, it had to be ordered six months or a year in advance, to give the wagon-maker time to go to the woods, cut down a tree, dry the timber and work the same by hand, from the rough to the finish. Then the blacksmith had to forge the iron by hand from iron in the bar. Even the nails used in making doors for the cabins of the pioneers were hand-made at the village smithery. Settlers took hides to a tannery and in time got leather to take to the shoemakers, where shoes were made to the measurement of the feet. Each locality was in a measure independent of the rest of the world, and a local pride was thus felt and fostered that does not exist now. Farmers came to the county-seat once a year to pay taxes. Saturday holidays were then unknown. In those days country villages were necessary and prospered. Now the trend of trade is toward the city, and for ready-made vehicles and hand-me-down goods. Not even a post office is left in the smaller towns, and the address of many of the farmers of Richland county is now Mansfield, instead of the local office where their fathers received mail in the old time of their generation.
Archibald Gardiner, who entered the land upon which Windsor was platted, was one of the best riflemen of his time, and was a great hunter and game was then plenty.
Samuel Pittenger, who came to that vicinity with his parents in 1815, was also a successful hunter, and supplied his father’s family with venison until stock could be raised. In fourteen consecutive days he killed twenty-eight deer on the Big Hill, an average of two deer a day.
William Fleming, John Fleming’s brother, had a smithery between the Falls and the Windsor road, and ran a trip-hammer and a grind-stone by water power. He was a genius in his line, as well as a skilled workman. Among other articles he made “tuning forks,” much in use with the music teachers of that time.
Dr. Shipley, of Mansfield, now owns the Woodhouse farm, which has been much improved.
After the destruction of the Fleming mill, Mr. Kohler built a grist-mill a half-mile below the Falls, which served its time and generation, but is now no more.
John Woodhouse had an oil-mill on the north branch of the Fleming run, where flax-seed was ground into meal, from which the oil was then pressed out, making two marketable articles - oil and meal-cake. In the winter, the mill-dam was used for an ice pond, from which a supply of ice was annually taken and stored away for the summer market at Mansfield.
Near the site of the railroad station at Pavonia, a distillery was once operated by a Deacon Williamson, who settled there in 1817. It has been stated that the good deacon often sat where he could see the whisky as it ran from the still, and that he would sing -“Come, thou fount of every blessing.”
But he meant all right, and his song did not refer to the whisky.
Distilling was considered a much-needed industry in the pioneer days. There was no market for corn, but it could be made into whisky and that could be hauled to the lake and sold at twenty-five cents a gallon, cash, and cash was very much needed to pay taxes, etc. The pioneers labored under many disadvantages. When flour and meal chests became empty, a trip of from ten to twenty miles must be made to get a grist ground. When their salt ran out, a journey of from seventy-five to one hundred miles must be made to get another supply, and at a cost of from $10 to $20 per barrel. When a cabin was built, logs must be split to get puncheons for the floors. But, by application and hard work, the pioneers conquered the wilderness and many of them lived to see the country brought up to a high state of civilization
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