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Lucas Sullivant, the leading pioneer in that territory which afterward became Franklin county, was born in September, 1765, in Mecklenburgh county, Virginia. His starting out in life reminds us strongly of the youthful career of the greatest of all the Virginians--Washington.
At the age of sixteen he joined, as a volunteer, an expedition against the Indians, who were threatening the western counties of his native State, and his good conduct and manly intrepidity were such as to gain for him the public commendation of his commanding officer. Left alone in the world by the death of his parents and only brother, he used his small patrimony in acquiring a more liberal education, and especially in mastering the science and practice of surveying, which he adopted as a profession.
The new and unsurveyed lands of Kentucky, then an outlying county of the Old Dominion, offering a wider field for his enterprise, he went thither, while quite a young man, and soon found his talent and skill in constant demand.
The officers and soldiers of the regular Continental army having under legislative authority, met and appointed Colonel Richard C. Anderson, a distinguished officer of the Revolution, surveyor-general of the Virginia military land district, Mr. Sullivant received from him an appointment as deputy surveyor, and, at the age of twenty-two, became one of that dauntless band of pioneers who penetrated into the unbroken wilderness, and opened one of the richest portions of Ohio to the advancing wave of settlement and civilization. Defeated , in his first attempts, by the wily savage, he was compelled to organize a stronger force, which was equipped at Limestone (no Maysville), Kentucky. With a party of twenty men, he advanced into the wilderness, and, in due time, having arrived upon the banks of the Scioto, he commenced his operations in the territory of the present Franklin county. The outfit of this surveying party betokened an occupation of the disputed territory, rather than a flying assault; and, in fact, though constantly in the neighborhood of hostile villages, and passing through many exciting scenes and hair-breadth escapes, mr. Sullivant brought his work to a fortunate conclusion.
In the summer and fall of 1797--ten years after the commencement of this adventurous and dangerous career between the Scioto and the Miami--Mr. Sullivant, having obtained possession of the surrounding lands, laid out the town of Franklinton, believing that, situated as it was in the region of the greatest fertility, on a then navigable river, and so near the center of the State, if it did not become the capital, it would be near it, and could not fail to become a great center in the progress of the State. This wa five years before Ohio was set off from the great northwest territory as an independent State, and six years before Franklin was separated from Ross county.
About this time Mr. Sullivant was married to Sarah Starling, daughter of Colonel William Starling, of Kentucky, and building the first brick house in his proprietory town of Franklinton, he resided there during the remainder of his life. Though devoting himself principally to the care of his own estate, he was liberal and public spirited, and the projector of many of the mot valuable improvements of those early times; and his influence, counsels, and pecuniary aid, shaped very materially the destinies of Ohio's capital. He was the builder of the first bridge over the Scioto between Franklinton and Columbus; the president of the first bank established in Columbus; built the first church of the first Presbyterian congregation, and presented it as a free gift; was one of ten to build the church for the congregation on its removal to Columbus; and was never second in any enterprise which had for it aim the intellectual or material advancement of the community in which he lived. Firm and positive in his opinions, but courteous in manner and expression; prompt and decisive to act upon his own convictions; he was altogether a man of forcible character, exercising a great influence over those with whom he came in contact.
In the full maturity of his powers, and his natural force not abated, he died, August 8, 1823, in the fifty-eighth year of his age.
From tributes written by those who knew him well, a few extracts will close this imperfect sketch:
"He possessed a great spirit of liberality, which an ample fortune, acquired by his own industry, enabled him to gratify to an uncommon extent. He was a man of strick integrity, of the most persevering industry and rigid economy. He was a kind and indulgent father, a sincere and hospitable friend, and a generous neighbor; and the poor were never turned away empty from his well filled granaries."
Dr. John Edmiston, his physician and friend, used to say of him:
"He showed, in his last illness, the same invincible fortitude which had sustained him in the midst of the privations and dangers incurred in the early settlement of the State."
"Take him all in all, with his strong and vigorous intellect, his knowledge of human nature, his decision of character, good judgment, and high sense of personal honor and integrity, he is one of the most remarkable men I ever knew. He seemed born to be a leader, and in whatever direction he had turned his attention, he would have distinguished himself and become a man of mark."