Richland Co., Ohio
History of Sharon Township
Source: Mansfield News, Saturday, February 14, 1903
Submitted by Jean and Faye
History of Richland County
By A J. Baughman.
Sharon township was created out of Bloominggrove and was organized Feb. 9, 1819, and in size was six miles square. In the creation of new counties, there was also re-arrangement of townships in the northern part of the county and on March 2, 1847, Jackson township was organized, taking a strip six miles long and two wide off the east side of Sharon, reducing the latter to four by six miles.
The land of Sharon is well adapted to agricultural purposes, and the farms are well improved, and the dwellings and barns give evidence of the prosperity of the farmers and of their civic taste. Sharon is watered by the Blackfork and its tributaries. It has three railroads and one trolley line, placing the township in communication with the “whole world and the rest of mankind.”
History tells of a school in Cleveland when but three families resided there. This shows the interest taken in educational matters in the very early settlement of Ohio. The schools and churches of Sharon township and of Shelby town will be given the credit and mention they deserved - and they deserved much - in a future chapter.
A small band of Indians under Johnnycake had a camp for some time about two miles southwest of Shelby. But the Indian “episodes” in this part of the county consisted of nothing fiercer than war-whoops and dances. It has well been said that the great wave of the sea of civilization has long since blotted out all external evidences of Indian occupation, except here and there the plow yet turns up some curiously shaped implement which speaks of years gone by.
During the early settlement of Sharon wolves and other wild beasts, as well as game, abounded in the forests, and travel by night was unsafe on account of them. A pioneer story is told of a fiddler who was on his way after dark to play for a dance in the neighborhood, and was “treed” upon a high fence by a pack of wolves. So fierce were they that they would try to jump upon the fence to get hold of the fiddler, who had to sit tailor-like upon the top rail to keep out of their reach. The familiar couplet of the poet, Congreve, at last came to the fiddler’s mind, that
“Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,
To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.”
And acting upon the thought, he played, as he afterwards expressed it, “for dear life,” and the music not only quieted the wolves, but actually seemed to charm them. The party for which the fiddler was going to play finally got tired of waiting and sent a committee after him, and the blazing torches of the searching party frightened the wolves away, and the fiddler was escorted in safety to the cabin where the dance was to be held, and in a short time there was “a sound of revelry by night,” and the fair ladies and the brave young men of Sharon danced to the familiar strains of old-time airs.
Judge Hugh Gamble was a prominent citizen of Sharon township in the pioneer period. He was born in New York state; came to Ohio in 1823, and located in Sharon township, Richland county. His father, James Gamble, and his brother, John Gamble, came a few years later. John Gamble built the first grist mill in that part of the county and it was run by horse-power. At the cross-roads, now the crossing of Main and Gamble street, where the mills stood, a number of houses were built, and in 1828 a post office was established called “Gamble’s Mills,” with John Gamble as postmaster. In about 1840 the name was changed from Gamble’s Mills to Shelby, in honor of Governor Shelby, of Kentucky. Hugh Gamble was elected a justice of the peace in 1834, and a member of the legislature in 1835, and served until 1839. He was an associate judge of the common pleas court for nine years. He was the third president of the old Richland county agricultural society, and was a member of the board of directors of the Mansfield & Sandusky railroad. In whatever position Judge Gamble was placed, he filled the same faithfully and well.
The first settlement in the township was made where Shelby now stands, in 1818, by Henry Whitney, Eli Wilson and Stephen Marvin.
In addition to Gamble’s, other mills were later erected. Gen. Wilson put up a saw-mill on the Blackfork. John Kerr came to Sharon in 1826 and settled on section 29, in the southeast part of the township, and a few years later erected a grist-mill and a saw-mill. These were destroyed by fire in 1875. Joseph Coltman erected two grist-mills which were operated for a number of years. In 1839 John Duncan erected a grist-mill on the Blackfork at Shelby. It was run ten or twelve years The Heath mills was erected in 1844, and, keeping up with the improvements of the times, is still in business. The Shelby mills, at the crossing of main street and the Big Four tracks, has a capacity of a thousand barrels of flour per day. Quite a contrast with the pioneer mills of seventy years ago.
Levi Bargahiser was an historical character. He was born in Pennsylvania Dec. 5, 1791. He came to Ohio when he was twelve years old, and became a boy pioneer of Richland county He lived with Martin Ruffner, near Mifflin, and was taken prisoner by the Indians, after Ruffner and the Zeimer family had been killed, September, 1812. Mr. Bargahiser entered the southeast quarter of section six, Sharon township, in 1815, where he lived until his death, Dec. 26, 1868.
Samuel M. Rockwell, who was born in Norwalk, Conn., Dec. 2, 1811, and came to Sharon township in 1815, took a commendable interest in local history, and published a number of historical sketches and to these he had intended to add others, with the intention of having the same published in book form, but death cut short his labors. Each year it becomes more difficult to gather data of the past history of the county.
J. G. Hill, the old-time printer, has retired to the country and can now be called a farmer Comrade Hill was a school-mate of Senator Mark Hanna. After leaving school, he served an apprenticeship at the printing business. He served as a Union soldier in the war of the rebellion. For the past thirty-odd years he has been engaged in the printing and publishing business in Shelby. He is a capable craftsman, a loyal friend and a good fellow.
S. F. Stambaug tells an incident of two soldiers of the war of 1812, who chanced to meet in his office after a separation of over fifty years. Their names were William Swaney and a Mr. Gump. They served in the same regiment and were both residents of the vicinity of Shelby, but neither knew of the other being in that locality until they met in Mr. Stambaug’s office. Mr. Stambaugh was in the newspaper business for a number of years, having been associated with the late Hon. S. S. Bloom in the publication of the Shelby News, and later published the Atchison (Kan) Patriot. He is today one of the most active men in Richland county, and is as obliging as he is enterprising.
One of the most prominent citizens of Sharon is William H. Weaver, who has been for two terms a township trustee. He is a farmer and a stock buyer. He was brought up on his father’s farm, near the German settlement. Mr. Weaver is one of the principal factors of the Vernon Stock company, at Vernon Junction. The company is operating a grain elevator at Crestline, also.
Jacob, John and William Hawk, sons of the late William Hawk, are among the largest land holders of the township.
Michael Crum and his son, Paul, are likewise large land holders. A singular incident occurred to Mr. Crum. He was born within view of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Mr. Crum enlisted in Company F, Eighty-second regiment O. V. I., and during the memorable battle of Gettysburg he was shot through both legs, between the ankle and knee. As he put his weight on his right foot, a minnie ball passed through between the bones of the leg. In stepping on either limb, doctors say the two bones spread and in doing so, the ball passed in this case through that leg without breaking either bone. Being wounded, he was captured by the Confederate soldiers and placed in their hospital, which was the Adams county, Pennsylvania infirmary. An uncle of John F. Hartman, of Jackson township, was then the superintendent of the institution and was a personal friend of Mr. Crum, who from that time received all the attention that medical skill could give.
John W. Cullen is also a large landholder. Jacob and George Carnhart, James and Frank Funk, George W. and J. L. Bargahiser, Israel Coble, Philip Stentz, David Crall and sons, Richard and John Finegan, the Metzgars, John and William Douglass, Butler Albertson, Jacob, Frank and Fred Brubaker, Henry Weidner, Samuel F. Eckis, the Fishers, Kellers, Finegans, McMahons, Rogers, Martin Post, George and Rinehart Klinkle and William and Frank Bailey are among the leading farmers of Sharon township.
John F. Rice, of whom a sketch was recently given in the history of Jackson township, was the last survivor of Commodore Perry’s battle on Lake Erie, Sept. 10, 1813, known in history as Perry’s Victory. Mr. Rice died March 8, 1880, aged 90 years 5 months and 17 days. Mr. Rice owned a farm of fifty acres, being a part of the southwest quarter section 28 of Jackson township, but the last few years of his life were passed in Shelby, at the home of his foster daughter, where he died. His funeral was an historical one. The flag on the dome of the state house at Columbus was at half-mast, as were the flags from the custom houses at Cleveland and Sandusky. These honors were accorded him on account of the distinction of having been the last survivor of the valiant band who fought under the gallant Perry.
The soldier is the unit of the army, but when numbers are massed together people generally look more to the aggregate than to the individual soldier. But these individuals make companies, companies make regiments, regiments make brigades, brigades make divisions, divisions make corps and corps make the army. But no matter how large an army may be, the individual soldier is the unit, and to him as such we are under obligations for the services rendered and the battles won. Then, too, people may be inclined to estimate the importance of a battle by the number of troops engaged n the same. History shows that a battle may be far-reaching in its results, though but a small number be engaged. The combined Continental army at the siege of Yorktown numbered only sixteen thousand men, yet this force compelled the surrender of Lord Cornwallis and secure the independence of the American colonies. Gen. Jackson won his victory over the British at New Orleans with eight thousand men, and this victory ended the war of 1812. Gen. Scott entered the City of Mexico with an army of less than eleven thousand and triumphantly terminated the Mexican war. But in later years, wars have been conducted upon more gigantic scales, and the larger the army, the more people are liable to lose sight of the unit - the individual soldier.
While this sketch deals with Sharon township, leaving Shelby for another chapter, the Kossuth incident is given to show, in part, what improvements and developments have been made in both township and town within the past fifty years. The Hungarian patriot made a tour of the United States in 1852-53. Passing through Shelby on the Columbus and Cleveland road, he made a short speech at the Junction during the stop of the train. The country was not then cleared and improved as it is now, and instead of the cultivated fields and find homes that now line the road on either side, there were then stretches of woods, and log-cabins were seen on many farms. There was a strip of timber between the Junction and the village, almost hiding the town from the railroad station. William T. Coggeshall, of Columbus, accompanied the party as prompter, but Kossuth understood the name of the place as “Shallbe” instead of Shelby. Looking around and seeing no town, he exclaimed, “Shallbe! Here are railroads and forest and lands, but in the future a town will spring up, and it time it ‘shall-be’ a city.” Prophetic words.
What changes fifty years have brought! But back of all these lies the pioneer history of the county, in which all should feel a grateful pride, and as we recount the story of the past, let us determine to do the work and perform the duties that devolve upon us, as our fathers and mothers did in their day and generation.
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