Background, page design, and transcription format 2003 - 2009 Leona L. Gustafson

Return to Main Page

Pages 231-232


The genealogy of the Renick family is only traditional. We learn from it that the progenitors emigrated from Germany, with many other families, to Scotland, to escape the religious persecution that then prevailed in the former country, and after a time a part of them at least, removed to Colevain county, Ireland. In the meantime, the name had undergone a change from Rienwich to Renwich, probably to suit the dialect of the country. In the process of time, one of them was created a peer, and he purchasing all the property of his two brothers, they, with their father, emigrated to America. But the peer not being able to pay the purchase money at the time engaged to send it to them within a specified period, which proved a fortunate arrangement for the brothers, as the vessel in which they embarked was robbed by the pirate, "Black Beard," but the money came safe to hand at the stated time.

We here narrate an incident, said to have occurred on the passage. When the pirates boarded the vessel the old man Renick was asleep. The noise awakening him, he started to find out the cause of the confusion. He encountered the robbers in the act of opening a box of candles, and he exclaimed "Hoot toot; what is all this fuss about." The pirates said they would stop his mouth, so they thrust a candle down his throat.

The brothers, with their father, first settled in eastern Pennsylvania—at least, until their money came. Afterwards they removed to Hardy county, Virginia, on the south branch of the Potomac river, and from that point their descendants scattered in various directions—some south to the James river, others to Gambier county, Virginia, and others still to the States of Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio. In the meantime the name had undergone two more changes: from Renwich to Rennick: and then later, one of the ns was dropped, making the name spell[ed], as at present, Renick.

There are traits of character in this large family which, with propriety, may be termed characteristic. Although the family has been in the country more than two hundred years, and scattered over many different and widely distant localities, in all of which, it is believed, could be found men of wealth and large influence, yet there appears to have existed among them from the first a singular unanimity of sentiment in eschewing a political life. It is apparent that they have uniformly been well neigh devoid of political aspirations, but seemed rather to have preferred a more retired, unpresuming and independent life, whilst of many of them it can be said with more assurance, that they have been, for the past two or three generations at least, very active, enterprising and highly public-spirited citizens, taking an active, if not a leading, part in every scheme or enterprise that presented a fair promise of resulting beneficially, either to their respective localities or communities in which they resided, or to the country at large.

William Renick, who was a direct descendant of the emigrants, was born and raised in Hardy county, Virginia, and was for a time deputy surveyor under Lord Fairfax, in surveying the southeastern counties of Virginia. By some accident he had his compass broken, and had to cease work until another compass could be ordered from London, England, which consumed some five or six months. His grandson, William Renick, of Circleville, Ohio, now has the latter compass in his possession. It is probably one hundred and twenty-five years old. William Renick had four sons and four daughters. The sons, Felix, George, Thomas, and William, came to the Scioto valley, from 1797 to 1803. All of them, previous to their final settlement, secured large and valuable tracts of land. The daughters all married, but remained in Virginia.

Thomas Renick and his wife both died the same day in August, 1804. William died in 1845, aged sixty-four years; Felix died in 1848, aged seventy-eight; and George died in 1863, aged eighty-seven years. George had three sons and three daughters. The sons, William, Josiah, and Harness, finally settled in Pickaway county, respectively, in 1826, 1828, and 1832; but all had done business in the county for years before, and have all been residents of the city of Circleville for many years. Mrs. N. J. Turney, one of the daughters, has also been a resident of the county and city for over thirty years. The other daughters, Mrs. J. M. Terry, of Philadelphia, and Mrs. Hugh Bell, of Chillicothe, were at one time also residents of the county. All the above mentioned sons and daughters of George Renick are still living.

William Renick, the oldest son of George Renick, and subject of this sketch, was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, November 12, 1804. He commenced doing an extensive business at the early age of fifteen and a half years, on account of his father's delicate health at the time, imperatively requiring the assistance of his son. This circumstance necessitated an abrupt relinquishment of the son's further attendance at school, before his education, as had been originally designed by his father, had been completed, which was to have been a full classical education. At his majority he entered into active business life on his own account. His occupation was that of a farmer, including that of raising, grazing, and feeding of cattle on rather an extensive scale for those days, feeding some seasons as high as three hundred head of cattle in one year, on corn grown on his own land. Besides this he has driven and shipped to an eastern market a very large number of fat cattle in his time, and is now the oldest living drover west of the mountains, if not in the United States, having begun that occupation as early as the year 1820.

He purchased and brought from Texas twelve hundred head of cattle, in 1854, the first lot of Texas cattle ever brought north, at least in large numbers, and was considered the pioneer drover in that trade, that has now grown to such enormous proportions.

He was also the inventor of the present mode of constructing turnpike roads. For nearly three years he constantly importuned the directors of the Columbus and Portsmouth company, and finally succeeded in inducing them to adopt his plan, which from its cheapness and usefulness, has long since been the only plan of construction of all turnpikes now built in the west. Hitherto they had been too costly for private enterprise. This was the first road built of the kind, and it was only because the means could not be raised to build any other kind of graveled road, that the plan was adopted, not that the directors approved the plan.

William Renick is a staunch Republican, and his articles to the press on the "Currency of the Country," "The Dollar of the Daddies," "Revenue Tariff," "Free Trade," "Banks and Banking System[s]," etc., have done much to mold popular opinion. He is a ready writer, and his communications on "Blue Grass," "Short-horns," "Thoroughbred Cattle in Ohio," Early Cattle Trade in Ohio," etc., have been widely circulated and read throughout the country.

Altogether, his life has been a very active, enterprising and highly public spirited one, although he has labored all the time from early age under the dire misfortune of a partial, and for the last twenty-five years, a total want of hearing. Mr. Renick has been three times married, but has no living children. His only son died in 1855, at the age of twenty-eight years, by unmarried.


NOTICE: This electronic page may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit or presentation by any organizations or persons. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material, must obtain the written consent of the .