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Pages 415-418

This township is bounded on the north by Canaan Township, Madison county, and Washington [Township, Franklin County]; west by Canaan and Jefferson townships in the same [Madison] county; south by Prairie, and east by Norwich, Washington, and Jefferson townships. The surface presents the same level plain which characterizes the townships comprising this portion of Franklin county, except along the extreme western boundary, where it is cut by numerous small ravines. It has no stream of water except Big Darby creek. This flows along the entire western line of the township, and was considered, in the early settlement, of much importance.

The soil is mainly gravel, though in some portions a black loam predominates. In productiveness, the township is fully up to the average.

Michael Sullivant and Lyne Starling formerly owned much of the land in this township.


The first settlement of Brown township was made along Big Darby creek, and began in, perhaps, 1808 or 1810. the eastern portion remained a dense wilderness, until as late as 1840. The writer is unable to state to whom belongs the honor of having been the first settler in Brown township. Adam Blount was one of the earliest settlers. He was from Virginia. Joseph Belchey, a son-in-law, came with him.

John Patterson, also from Virginia, located here, about the same time, but, after a few years returned to his former home.

John Hayden, a native of Pennsylvania, came from Hamilton county, in 1818, locating upon the farm no occupied by Jacob High, in Brown township, and here he died in 1827. He was twice married. The children, by the first wife were: Elizabeth, David, Isaac, and Rachel, who are all deceased, except the eldest, now the widow of Dr. Rathbun, from whom the writer obtained the principal items of early history for the township. The children of John Hayden, by the second marriage, were: Hannah, William B., Nancy, Joseph, Jeremiah, and Sarah, only one of whom is living.

James Boyd, from Tennessee, settled in the township in 1820. None of the family now live in the township.

James Rinier, a native of Pennsylvania, settled in Brown township in 1822. After a few years he moved to Hamilton county.

Knowlton Bailey settled in the township quite early.

Ovil Beach, whose wife, Elizabeth Kilbourn, came from Vermont to Ohio, in 1817, and located near Plain city, Madison county where he died, as did also his wife. The children were: Susan, Amos, Marova, Uri, Ambrose, Rhoda, Sarah, Lorenzo, Roswell, and Obil O. and Orin O. (twins). Two of Uri's children live in Brown township--Malona C. (Mrs. John Kilgore), and Uri, who married Elleanor Downing. Chauncey Beach, a son of Ambrose, who married Elizabeth Kilgore, also lives in Brown township.

Jacob Frances [Sic.] and wife, Winnie Adams, were natives of Virginia. Early in the present century the settled in Athens county, Ohio. After living there a few years, the family located in Madison county, and in 1825, made purchase of the land in Brown township, no occupied by a son, Henry. This was covered with a dense wood, but by determined and well directed effort, this has disappeared, and in the stead, we find broad acres, whose product yields a reich return to the husbandman. Mr. Francis died in August, 1840, and his wife some two years later. The children were as follows: Elizabeth, John, Sarah, Mary, Joseph, Henry, Nancy, Winnie, Hester, Jacob, and James. One only lives in the township; Henry, who married Elizabeth Hunter, now occupies the old homestead. From this gentleman the writer obtained the following names of settlers who were living in the township in 1825; George and Ananias Harris, Benjamin Morris, John Ross, and Samuel Ballinger. James Huggett came about the same time.

Abram Reece and Theresa King, his wife, were from Virginia, and came to Franklin county in 1812. Ten years later they removed to Madison county, where they lived until 1831, when they located permanently in this township. The farm is still occupied by the heirs. Mr. Reece died May 5, 1875, and his wife September 2, 1860. There were ten children in the family, six only of whom are now alive, and but three reside in this county: Robert, who married Sarah A. Slyh; David, not married; and Wilson, who married Jane Walker. All of these sons were soldiers in the Union army during the rebellion.*

Henry C. Alder, whose wife was Elizabeth Patterson, is a grandson of Jonathan Alder§, of whom we learn as follows: In March, 1782, he and his brother, David, were in the woods, near their home, in what is now West Virginia, when they were surprised by a party of Indians, and Jonathan, being but a a mere boy (nine years of age), was easily captured. The brother ran, but was thrust through with a spear, killed, and afterwards scalped. Jonathan was finally adopted by the Shawnee tribe, and lived with the wife of Colonel Lewis, one of the chiefs. In June, subsequent to his capture, occurred the defeat of Crawford. After Wayne's victory, Alder, having in the meantime married an Indian woman, came to live on Big Darby creek. He bacame dissatisfied with his wife, and after considerable trouble, succeeded in effecting a separation, when he returned to his family in Virginia, where he married Mary Blount, with whom he returned to his former home on Big Darby creek, in Madison county, and here he died in about 1850. A son, Henry, purchased in 1835, the farm in Brown township where Henry C. Alder now lives. Jonathan Alder lived with the Indians twenty-four years, and when he left them he could talk but little English.

Thomas Kilgore was born in Pennsylvania, soon after which event his parents removed to Kentucky. In 1798 they came to Ohio, and for a few years lived at Chillicothe. Thomas came to Madison county. He married Jane Patterson, and located in Canaan township, some two miles southwest of Plain city. Here he died on January 9, 1873. His wife died June 5, 1863. Of the eight children composing the family, three settled in Brown township: John, who married Malone C. Beach; Sarah, who became the wife of Jeremiah Sherwood, now deceased, and Elizabeth, who married Chauncey Beach.

John Lloyd and wife Margaret Evans, were natives of Wales. They were married there on Saturday, and the following Monday, took passage for America. They arrived in Columbus on June 1, 1840, and the latter part of the same month, located in Brown township, erecting the log cabin a short distance from the substantial brick dewlling now occupied by the family. He now owns five hundred and sixty acres of land, which he purchased in a wild state, paid for by honest labor, and has the greater part of it cleared, and under cultivation. His wife died August 9, 1878. The children were Mary (who is deceased), John, Elizabeth, Richard, Margaret, David and Anna.

N. E. Ferris who married Maria L. Samuels, located in Brown township in 1840. He bacame prominent abong its best citizens. He died March 23, 1870. None of his children live in the township.

John Helser, purchased the farm he now occupies, in 1844. His wife was Elizabeth Hendell. Tow of his sons live in the township: Levi W., who married Mary Brant, and Frank, whose wife was Mary Svhofield.

William Winegardner, and Daniel and Nathan Walker settled in the township about the same period as the above, and now occupy a prominent place in the township.

John McCoy and wife, Elizabeth Bell, came from Harrison county, Ohio, to Brown township, in 1849. He purchased a tract of wild land, consisting of five hundred acres in the southern portion of the township. This is now occupied by his descendants. He died in 1864, and his widow now resides in West Jefferson, Ohio. The children were Jane, (Mrs. Judge Clark), John, Colmore, Jacob, James, Alexander, William, Hannah (Mrs. D. Priest), and Mary A. (Mrs. B. Carson).

Charles A. Holmes came with his parents from New York to Kirtland, Lake county, Ohio, early in its settlement. The Mormons became unpleasantly numerous, and in 1856 he sold and located in the eastern portion of Brown township, then all woods. He married Mary J. Ferris, a native of Columbus. Mr. Holmes died October 4, 1874. The children were Nancy M. (deceased), Anna E. (Mrs. James Vanschoyck), and Wilbur C., who lives on the home farm.


The first doctor, to permanently locate in Brown township, was John Rathbun, in 1839. Dr. Rathbun was a skilful practitioner, and a valued member of the community. His practice was extensive and lucrative. At this time but one physician resides in the township, D. H. Welling, who is a graduate of the Eclectic college at Cincinnati, in the class of 1876 and 1877. Dr. Welling is spoken of as devoted to the profession of his choice, and a rising practitioner.


Under this head the writer finds little to record, as Brown is exclusively an agricultural township. In 1837 Isaac Hayden erected a saw-mill on Big Darby creek, the first in the township, not a vestage [sic.] of which now remains. Numerous steam saw-mills have had an existence in the township; they were of the portable variety. The only manufacturing establishment now in this township is the tile and brick works, which were established by S. J. Woolley, some fourteen years ago [See Solomon Jackson Woolley biographical sketch.]. The location is on the Hilliard pike, in the northwest part of the township. Mr. Woolley does a large business; employing twelve men, and having invested, in real estate, buildings, etc., ten thousand dollars. His sales for 1878, aggregated four thousand dollars. Mr. Woolley is among the prominent farmers in the township; his farm comprising six hundred acres of land, forty of which in in orcharding. He also pays considerable attention the breeding of Devon cattle.


The territory, as at present embraced within the boundaries of Brown township, was formerly a part of the townships of Norwich, Prairie, and Washington. It was erected a separate township in the spring of 1830, but no records are now extant showing who were the township officials elected on organization. The present (1879) officers are: R. K. Reese, Cornelius Beyer, and Levi W. Helser, trustees; Samuel Patterson, clerk; Samuel Francis, treasurer; Uri Beach, assessor; Lemuel Rathbun and A. J. Carter, constables, and twelve supervisors. Following is a list of the justices of the peace for Brown township, from its organization until the present time: Jacob S. Rogers, James Layton, John D. Acton, Paul Alder, Joseph O'Harra, William Walker, Henry Francis, James Huggett, Chaunsey Beach, N. E. Ferris, John Kilgore, George M. Clover, Richard Jones, Robert Bynner, and the present incumbants, Henry C. Alder and Robert K. Reece, who were elected in the position at the spring election of 1879.


The first christian organization in Brown township was that known as the McCoy Methodist Episcopal church, in the south part of the township. This grew to be a flourishing church, and in time, a comfortable frame meeting house was erected. This church has ceased to exist, and the building has been converted into a barn.


This is now the only christian organization in the township. The eastern portion of the township is largely settled by people of this nationality. The writer is indebted to John Lloyd,, esq., for the data from which the following sketch is prepared. As early as the year 1845, services where held in a little log school-house, standing near the present church edifice, and during the same year the organization was effected. It was composed of the following members: John E. Rowland and wife, Francis Jones and wife, John Bibb and wife, and, possibly two or three others. Services were held in the school house until about 1860, when the present brick meeting house was erected. Its cost was about eight hundred dollars. The trustees were: John Lloyd, Francis Jones, and Robert Bynner. A Sabbath-school was formed here, many years since, and has continued, with varying success, until the present time. The average attendance is small now, perhaps thirty. This is mainly due to the formation of a school in Norwich township, easier of access. Thomas W. Jones, is the present superintendent. The preachers of the Congregational faith who have, from time to time, spoken to the people. are" First, Rev. Dr. Hoge, of Franklinton, and later, of Columbus, the pioneer of this denomination in Franklin county; following him--Revs. Seth Howells, David M. Evans, John H. Jones, Reese Powell, John Jones, James Davis, and Evan Jones. The church has no regular pastor at this time. The present deacons are: Francis Jones and Edward Evans.


The first school remembered was held during the winter of 1820, in a little log cabin standing on the farm of Adam Blount. The teacher was Marantha Adams, and the children comprising the school were mainly of the families of Blount, Patterson, Hayden, and Belchy. The pioneer school house was erected on the farm of James O'Harra. Some years later, it was a small affair. The pioneer school-house in the eastern portion of the township was built in the fall of 1840, and stood near the Welsh church. A man named Lynn taught a term of school in this building the subsequent winter. The school was made up from the families of Jones, Huggett, Evans, Roberts, Samuels, Bynner, Richards, Riggs, Rogers, Morris, Wilcox, Clover, Marshall, and a few others all first settlers in this portion of the township. In, perhaps, the year 1847, a number of colored people formed an association for the advancement of the cause of education for the children of their race. A tract of land was purchased in Brown township, buildings erected and a school formed. It was finally abandoned, but the writer is not conversant with the causes which produced this result. Nothin is now left ot mark the location of this institution. The present sownship board of education are: Willson Reece, president; Samuel Patterson, clerk; Thomas Jones, John Major, F. E. Linn, H. C. Alder, and Benjamin Davis.


Along Big Darby creek, in the western part of Brown towship, there existed, in the early settlement, many evidences of that mysterious people of whom so much has been written, and so little known--the Mound Builders. On the farm of Henry Francis there is yet remaining quite an extensive mound, and toward the cree were numberous others, which have now disappeared. These were evidently tumuli, or burial places, as many human bones were found during the excavation of these works. There was also an enclosure, or fort, on the farm of H. C. Alder. esq., with two circles, enclosing, perhaps one-half acre of ground. Its location was upon the high bank of the creek, toward which was the usual opening, found in works of this kind. It was composed of gravel, which has been removed for building and other purposes. Human bones were also found here. It is highly probable that this was a favorite camping ground for the Indians, as stone hatchets, arrow points, skinning knoves, etc., were found in great number by the settlers. Mr. Francis has a number of fine specimens found here.

*Some members of the Reece family are buried at Big Darby Cemetery, Canann Twp., Madison County. At least one son, George W. is buried at Darby Township Cemetery, Madison County

§Jonathan Alder is buried at Foster Chapel Cemetery, Madison County.

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