Richland Co., Ohio
Centennial History of Shelby
source: Shelby Independent News: 06 July 1876, Vol. 8, No. 37
The citizens of Shelby, not having taken measures to meet in celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of our national independence, we address ourselves to the task, of furnishing for publication at Philadelphia, such scraps of its history as we have at our command, in order that our beautiful town may be fitly represented in that great work when completed.
The first settlers of Sharon Township came from the vicinity of Norwalk in Connecticut. The township was originally included in Bloominggrove, and ran west to the old Richland County line, before Crawford County was established; and when first formed included what is now Jackson Township.
Mathew and Joseph Curran were the first settlers in that part of old Sharon. They came here about the year A.D., 1815. Next came Robert Henry; and after him Giles Swan and Adam Swan, both graduates of Yale College. Then Joseph Rockwell and family made their appearance, whose grandson Samuel M. Rockwell, Esq., still resides in Shelby, and is said to be the oldest resident of the place or vicinity.
After Mr. Rockwell came, Henry and John B. Taylor, whose descendants still reside here. These were followed by Isaac Marvin, Eli Wilson, Stephen Marvin and Henry Whitney -- the last two named being largely the "proprietors" of Shelby -- owning the land on which it now stands. The last three named being the first settlers within the present limits of Sharon Township.
The township was organized in the spring of A.D., 1823 [scratched out and 1819 written in the margin]. The citizens to the number of fourteen met at the house of Mrs. Rockwell, where M.M. Barber, Esq., now resides, in Jackson Township, and signed a petition to be organized into a separate township. Mr. Henry Taylor was appointed to carry the petition to Mansfield, and present it to the Commissioners of the County.
The petition was granted, and Sharon Township named after some town in Connecticut. There were then only fourteen voters within the limits of the township -- two Republican or Democratic as then and since called, and twelve Federals or Whig votes. These fourteen persons were Giles H. Swan, John B. Taylor, Joseph Curran, Eli Wilson, Almon Hays, Harvey Camp, Henry Whitney, Matthew Curran, James Smith, Adam Swan, James Kerr, James Rockwell, Levi Bargahiser, and DeLawson Rockwell. They held their first election on April 7th., A.D., 1823, and from these fourteen chose seventeen township officers being then required to elect Fenceviewers, and Overseers of the Poor, in addition to the officers now authorized by law.
The first two cabins in what is now Jackson Township, were erected on the Cairns farm near Spring Mills station, and in Sharon Township Stephen Marvin and Eli Wilson erected the first -- both on the same day. The first up was that of Eli Wilson, on the lot now known as No. 13 -- now owned by Mrs. Lucinda Sowers, daughter of Mr. Wilson; only a little south of west public square, on east side of Gamble Street. It is perhaps the highest point of land in Shelby. Mr. Stephen Marvin erected his near the family residence, where his aged widow still resides.
The first schools organized in this region of country, was about the year A.D. 1820. The first building in Jackson was on the farm on which Mrs. Barbara Cutler resides, one-and-a-half mile east of Shelby, near the corner of the cross roads. The first school house in Shelby stood on what is now known as South Gamble Street in "Texas", and Miss Debby Moyer was the first teacher. The next was on the northwest corner of Main and Gamble Streets, on the lot now occupied by Lybarger, Farrar & Co's store.
Shelby was laid out forty-two years ago, in 1834, by John Gamble, as will appear by the original plat on file, and duly recorded. The lots laid out by him were all south of Main Street -- number one (1) being that on which Mr. Thomas Mickey's brick block now stands. Afterwards Mr. Henry Whitney laid out that part of the town north of Main and south of Mill Street; and about twenty years afterwards, east town was laid out on Mr. Eli Wilson's land, to which both east and west, additions have been made until it has reached its present proportions.
The first post office was established about forty-eight years go in A.D., 1828, and was called Gamble's Mills. Mr. John Gamble was the Post Master, who held that position till after Pierce's election, when Mr. Harrison Mickey received the appointment, who was succeeded by Geo. C. Brown, Henry Stimmel and Mr. John Kahl, the present incumbent.
The name of Shelby was suggested by Mr. Charles C. Post, who then resided within the village, and was named in honor of Gov. Shelby of Kentucky, a distinguished citizen of that State, and soldier of the Indian wars through this state.
The first building was erected on lot No. 1 (1) where Mickey's block now stands by Dr. Byers, a hewed log cabin 16x24 feet, and the next on the site of the school house which had burnt down, on the opposite side of the road.
John A. Duncan erected the next building for a "tavern" on the northeast corner of Main and Gamble street, and a part of it may still be seen. It is that in which Mr. Samuel Coltman keeps his restaurant, a few rods southeast, of the NEWS office. These were of course not the first buildings erected within the present limits of Shelby -- because as already stated, the cabins of Messrs. Whitney and Wilson were really the first in the township, but were the first buildings after the town was laid out.
In A.D. 1817, there were not settlements west of Sharon Township. It was then on the extreme Western Border of Civilization -- not yet sixty years ago. This is a positive fact attested by both Mr. Samuel Rockwell, and Mr. Henry Taylor, when alive. The country west of this, was then occupied by several tribes of Indians, the Wyandots being the most numerous. There were some Delawares here, and a small remnant of the Mohican tribe formerly from as far east as Connecticut. Who was "the last of the Mohicans" is not known, but it was after that date, that the tribe became extinct. They lived long enough at least in this region to give name to the two principal streams in Richland County -- the Black Fork and Clear Fork of the Mohican.
There were in 1817 no roads in Sharon Township, but a "trail" lead from Pipe Town on the lower Black Fork to Lower Sandusky -- meaning in Indian language, Lower Cold Water; also smaller trails from the cabins of settlers to Ganges, on the road to Mansfield. The country then abounded in game of all kinds -- especially full of deer and turkeys. The Indians were constantly passing and re-passing, and were friendly. No murders were committed by them in this immediate locality.
They frequently ran races with the youth -- "lock fingers and pull" as a trial of strength, and wrestle with the whites as were the then popular amusements of the day.
The forest was full of underbrush, tall weeds and flowers, which in springtime was very beautiful to behold.
This whole country had to be cleared of heavy timber, and the early settlers had many a hard days' toil at that -- the work of their lifetime.
They were bound together by the strongest ties, frequently helped each other at their work, in every time of difficulty, trouble or sickness. The Indians seemed especially sociable, frequently even joining in the dances among the young folks; so that our early pioneers isolated though they were from the great world coming on from the east, they were yet not without enjoyment, and lived very happily in their forest homes.
But we must not dwell too long upon these early histories. We are also required to give our present status, to fill the bill of our centennial publishers.
After a period of sixty years -- and having been clipped by taking Jackson from the east and Vernon from the west, we have about 12,345 inhabitants in Sharon Township; and twenty-five hundred in the town of Shelby.
Though many towns have far out-stripped us, we have two lines of railway, both east and west, crossing in our town -- two of the main thoroughfares across the continent. We have a number of fine two and three story brick blocks, seven churches, four fine school houses, one of which cost about twenty-five thousand dollars.
We have a large Town Hall, Fire Engine House, Engines, and a regularly organized Fire Department. We have two steam flouring mills, lumber yards and planing mills, foundries and machine shops. Two banks, a number of stores, and the usual variety of shops and minor conveniences.
There are Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons, Knights of Honor, Sons of Temperance and an Encampment and subordinate Lodge of Odd Fellows, all in a flourishing condition. There are also other secret societies, of which we do not even know the name.
We have a military company -- the Shelby Light Guards, and the Shelby Cornet Band, unexcelled in the State for drill and music. And the Leiters -- a Hook and Ladder Company, who have made the shortest time on record, running forty rods, and climbing a ladder thirty feet long, in the unprecedented short time of 33¾ seconds! Their second best, 34¼, has never been equaled.
Of newspapers, Shelby has had three or four trials. The first was the Pioneer by Hon. C.R. Brown, now of Kalamazoo, Michigan, which lived out its promised year of twelve numbers. This was bout the year A.D. 1859. Then in 1861 came the Express, by C.M. Kenton, now of the Marysville Journal. Then came the Experiment by Mr. Baltzly, then of the Plymouth Advertiser, both of which remained one year each. Then came the Gazette, semi occasionally by the present proprietor of the NEWS, but not as a regular publication. The NEWS was first published November 12, A.D. 1868, and will now soon complete its eight year with an average list of about eight hundred subscribers, running as high as eleven hundred under a looser credit system than now indulged in.
However the NEWS was the mere continuation of the Chronicle published by Young & Hill (the latter the publisher of the NEWS), for about eighteen months, before it was purchased by the present proprietor, and changed into the NEWS. The Gazette, still another newspaper, was also published for nearly four years, by T.H. Barkdull, and the patronage being too meager to support two papers it was purchased by the proprietor of the NEWS. It was published from October, 1870 to September, 1874. This is the history of the newspaper business in Shelby.
The town may be said to be in a prosperous condition. Though trade is dull, no extensive failures have ever occurred. Two banks, the first National, and the Farmers' Exchange, are assisting in doing the financial business of the town.
Shelby has long been noted for its brisk grain market, and until very recently, its extensive wholesale grocery business. Lumbering and Planing Mills have in times past added greatly to the business and trade of the town.
Schools, churches and all literary institutions are well supported. Our High School graduates its students, and is as well managed as any in the State. Our people are quiet, orderly, neat in all their appointments, keeping their premises well repaired and painted. The streets and sidewalks are well graded and paved, and the alleys well cleansed from all nuisances. The whole town seems to be shaded with forest and fruit trees, which gives the town the air of a miniature forest city.
Altogether we have reason to boast of our town, and congratulate our people upon having so beautiful and convenient a town in which to reside. This is briefly the centennial history of Shelby.
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