|SKETCH OF THE COUNTRY FROM 1812-TO 1858
War of 1812 – Execution of W. Fish – Laying out of certain Towns, etc. – John Kilbourne's Works – Wm. Lusk and his Almanac – President Monroe's Visit – Sullivant's Bridge – Squirrel Hunt – Granville Road – Pugh's Bridges – Sickly Seasons, etc. – T. Backus's Poem – H. D. Little's Poem – Road to Worthington – Names of Streams – Silk Factory – Sugar Beets, etc.
IN this Chapter it is designed to give a sketch of the county generally from 1812 until 1858, leaving the several townships and the city to be afterwards noticed in separate Chapters under appropriate heads.
In 1812 the town of Columbus was laid out, which will be made the subject of subsequent Chapters. And in the same year war was declared by the United States against Great Britain. During the war, from 1812 to 1815, Franklinton was a place of much life and business. This was the most flourishing period of that town. Though immediately after the surrender of Hull's army at Detroit, in August, 1812, a general consternation ensued. A descent of the British and Indians upon this
part of Ohio was feared; and not altogether without reason, for Franklin County was then rather a frontier settlement, and the Indians had the possession of the entire Sandusky and Maumee country. Frequent false alarms were received, and a few families left the county through fear, and others fain would have done so, but for pride of character. The Governor soon ordered out the militia in mass, and the fears at home subsided. Franklinton soon became a place of general rendezvous, or headquarters for the north-western army. There were sometimes from one to two or three thousand troops there for short periods; but they were almost constantly on the move, coming and going. There would at other times be but few, or none, except the officers in the commissary department, who were busily engaged in buying and collecting provisions and forage.
The productions of the country then found a ready cash market at high prices, and almost every man's pocket was flushed with money. Pork, which had previously sold for $1.50 per hundred, now readily brought $4.00; and flour was $4.00 per hundred; oats and corn, from 50 cents to $1.00 per bushel; hay from #10 to $20 per ton; and other things in proportion. After the conclusion of peace, and when the lavish expenditure of public money necessarily attendant upon a state of war had ceased, Franklinton began to decline, and
times generally took a turn, and about the years 1819, '20, '21, '22 and '23, the pressure was, perhaps, the greatest. Over a hundred parcels of real estate were sometimes embraced in one advertisement of Sheriff's sales.* The productions of the country had now fallen in price to — for pork $1.50 per hundred; flour from $1.00 to $1.25 per hundred; corn from 10 to 12 cents per bushel; potatoes 12 cents per bushel; and other produce in proportion, and dull sales at these prices. Real estate had fallen in about the same proportion. The most rigid economy was now practiced by all grades of society. The wealthiest families used rye coffee; and the most distinguished public men dressed in blue linsey pantaloons, etc.
In June, 1813, while the army lay at Franklinton, a soldier, by the nam of William Fish, was shot, under the sentence of a court martial, for the offense of desertion and threatening the life of his captain. It was an awful scene.
Three other prisoners were condemned to death by the same court martial, but were pardoned by General Harrison. The last one who was pardoned, had been previously conducted to his coffin, and the cap placed over his eyes, in which situation he remained until Fish was shot. His pardon was then read to him
*Columbus Gazette of January 30, 1823, and January 1824.
In 1816, the first banking institution was established in Columbus. The same year, the town of Columbus was first incorporated, and the same year, the town of Georgesville was laid out. In 1817, the town of Oregon, originally called Middletown, was laid out, and in 1818, the town of Dublin. They will all be noticed under the head of their respective localities.
In 1816, John Kilbourne obtained a copy-right for the “Ohio Gazetteer,” and published the first edition of that work. The demand for it was such, that within less than three years, he published his sixth edition, in Columbus. About the year 1822, he also published his Map of Ohio, which was much in use for a number of years. Mr. Kilbourne's works were very useful and highly appreciated. He died in Columbus, in the spring of 1831.
In 1817, William Lusk published his first Almanac, at Columbus, to which was added a Register of public officers, etc., of the State, by counties, making a pamphlet of some sixty or seventy pages, and entitled it the “Ohio Register and Western Calendar,” for which he obtained a copy-right. The Register part was continued some five or six years, when it was dropped; but the Almanac was published annually until about the year 1852 or '53. Mr. Lusk died at at Dayton, about the year 1854 or '55. In his Register of 1821, he thus describes
the old county seat: “Franklinton, the county seat, contains a post office, a store, three taverns, a common school, and an Academy, in which are taught English Grammar, Geography, Book-keeping, double and single entry, Mensuration, Geometry, Trigonometry, Plane and Spherical Surveying, Navigation, Algebra and Astronomy.” Rather a flattering notice of his own school.
Worthington is described as containing, “A post office, a printing office, four taverns, four mercantile stores, a College, a Masonic hall and a number of large manufactories [sic.] for woolen cloths, hats, saddles, shoes, combs,” etc.
In the latter part of August, 1817, President Monroe and suite passed through this county, on their return from Detroit after his norther tour of inspection of the public fortifications, etc. They were met at Worthington by the Franklin Dragoons, commanded by Captain Vance, and escorted to Columbus, where proper arrangements had been made for the reception; and the President was received in the State House, and welcomed to the Capital by a neat and appropriate speech from Hon. Hiram M. Curry, then Treasurer of State. To which the President made a suitable reply, complimenting the “infant city,” as he called it, and its inhabitants.
They traveled on horseback, and were generally escorted from one town to another by the military, or
some distinguished citizens. They rode fast, generally in a canter. Mr. Monroe wore the old-fashioned, three-cornered, cocked hat – his dress otherwise was in plain, citizen style. His face was effectually sunburnt from exposure.
This troop of dragoons was first organized in time of the war, and continued until 1832, or '33, when they disbanded. They were commanded by the following, successive captains: Joseph Vance, Abram J. McDowell, Robert Brotherton, P. H. Olmsted, Joseph McElvain, and David Taylor. All good officers, and all now passed off the stage except Messers. Olmsted and Taylor. But the writer, through this work, has made it a rule to say but little of individuals yet living, while he pays an occasional mark of respect to the deceased. An even under this rule, he finds himself embarrassed; for it is impossible to notice all that he would desire to.
Captain Vance was a fine military officer, and was in the service, in different grades of office, during the greater part of the war. He was amongst the early settlers of the county; married in Franklinton in 1805, and remained a resident of the county the balance of his life. He was a surveyor and for many years the
County Surveyor; was one of the conspicuous citizens of his day, and highly respected. He died in 1824. His widow still survives, and lives with her son, Chambers Vance, Esq. of Blendon.
Captain McDowell was a military officer of portly and commanding appearance. He was afterward promoted to the rank of Colonel, which title he bore through life. He was amongst the early settlers of the county, and held the office of Clerk of the Courts and County Recorder many years. He was afterward Mayor of the city of Columbus. Was a man of free and jovial disposition, and always had warm friends. He died in the fall of 1844, in the 54th year of his age.
Captain Brotherton, was the third commander of this popular troop, and was, from that, promoted to the rank of Colonel, which title he bore through life. He was a native of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and came to Franklinton when a youth, and resided in this county ever after. He married a daughter of Captain Kooken, a family of high respectability. He was of a mild and sociable disposition, and became very popular, apparently without an effort on his part. He served two constitutional terms of four years each, as Sheriff, and filled that critical and unpleasant office with peculiar ease and kindness, and was never charged with oppression.
He died in November, 1837, aged about forty-five years.
Captain McElvain, like his predecessors in the command of the troops, was promoted to the rank of Colonel in the Ohio militia, and bore the title of Colonel through life. He died suddenly on the 7th of February, 1858, at his residence in Worthington, aged about 65 years. Col. McElvain was one of the first residents of Franklin County. He came here with his father and family, when he was a child, in the spring of 1798, and remained here ever since. He was in turn farmer, merchant, hotel-keeper and public officer. He was many years an assistant at the Ohio Penitentiary. He held the office of County Treasurer four years, and was Superintendent of the County Infirmary a number of years, and discharged the duties of his office with kindness and urbanity.
In 1815, or '16, a wooden toll bridge was erected across the Scioto, on the road leading from Columbus to Franklinton, by Lucas Sullivant, under a charter from the Legislature. The bridge started from near the same point on the east side of the river that the present one does, but, running more direct across the river, lander several rods lower down on the west side. And a new road was opened from thence through the fields to Franklinton, and passed through Franklinton one
square further south than the road had formerly been, or now is. This change gave dissatisfaction generally to the property holders on the main street. The bridge stood some eight or ten years, when some of the timbers becoming rotten, it fell. It was then rebuilt, starting from the same point on the east, and running in the same direction that the national road bridge does; and the former road to and through Franklinton was restored.
This toll bridge and the franchise fell to the share of Joseph Sullivant in the division of his father's estate. When the national road was constructing, about the year 1832 or '33, upon the superintendent agreeing to erect a good, free bridge, at the expense of the government, provided Sullivant's right under the charter was extinguished, the citizens, principally of the north end of Columbus, aided by a few subscriptions west of the river, raised by contribution $8,000; and the county (through the commissioners) gave $2,000 more, making $10,000, which was paid to Mr. Sullivant for his right; and thereupon, the present substantial structure was erected at the expense of the general government, as a part of the national road.
For the first twenty years or more, after the settlement of this county, fishing and hunting were favorite amusements; and the fish and game being plenty, a
person did not tire in the pursuit. Fishing was sometimes with a net seine, but more frequently with a brush drag, which required from a dozen to twenty men, and was a kind of frolic. Hunting was for the double or treble purpose of amusement, the obtaining of fresh game for the table, and the protection of the crops against devouring animals.
The subjoined account of a general squirrel hunt, from the Columbus Gazette of August 29th, 1822, is illustrative of the above fact. And at the same time it brings to view the names and memory of a number of respectable citizens of that day, most of whom have now passed away.
“GRAND SQUIRREL HUNT.–The squirrels are becoming so numerous in the county as to threaten serious injury, of not destruction, to the crops of the farmer during the ensuing fall. Much good might be done by a general turn out of all citizens whose convenience will permit, for two or three days, in order to prevent the alarming ravages of those mischievous neighbors. It is, therefore, respectfully submitted to the different township, each, to meet and choose two or three of their citizens to meet in a hunting caucus, at the house of Christian Heyl, on Saturday, the 31st inst., at 2 o'clock P. M. Should the time above stated prove too short for the townships to hold meetings, as above recommended, the following persons are respectfully nominated and invited to attend the meeting at Columbus: Montgomery, Jeremiah McLene and Edward Livingston; Hamilton, George W. Williams amd Andrew Dill; Madison, Nicholas Goetschius and W. H. Richardson; Truro, Abiather V. Taylor and John Hanson; Jefferson, John Edgar and Elias Ogden; Plain, Thomas B. Patterson and Jonathan Whitehead; Harrison, F. C. Olmsted and Capt. Bishop; Sharon, Matthew Matthews and Buckley Comstock; Perry, Griffith Thomas and William
Mickey; Washington, Peter Sells and Uriah Clark; Norwich, Robert Elliott and Alanson Perry; Clinton, Col. Cook and Samuel Henderson; Franklin, John McElvain and Lewis Williams; Prairie, John Hunter and Jacob Neff; Pleasant, James Gardiner and Reuben Golliday; Jackson, Woolery Conrad and Nicholas Hoover; Mifflin, Adam Reid and William Dalzell.
“In case any township should be unrepresented in the meeting, those present will take the liberty of nominating suitable persons for said absent townships.
A subsequent paper says: “The hunt was conducted agreeably to the instructions in our last paper. On counting the scalps, it appeared that nineteen thousand six hundred and sixty scalps were produced. It is impossible to say what number in all were killed, as a great many of the hunters did not come.” The hunting or killing of deer was successfully practiced by candle or torch light, at night, on the river. The deer in warm weather would come into the river after nigh, to eat a kind of water grass that grew in the stream, and the hunters, by taking a canoe, and a bright light in it could let it float down stream, and the light appeared to blind the deer, until they could float near to them, and shoot them with ease.
In March, 1823, we find in the Gazette the following
* Yet living.
proposition for improving the Granville road, which was then the most direct eastern line of road from Columbus, and was almost impassable, being but little else than one continuous mud hole:
“The undersigned respectfully request, that as many of the citizens of Franklin County as can make it convenient, will meet at the tavern of Robert Russell, on Saturday, the 11th day of April next, for the purpose of making arrangements to meet the citizens of Licking County, and labor on the Columbus and Granville road, for two days, in the latter part of May next.
Near this time, David Pugh erected two toll bridges on this road—one over Alum Creek and the other over Big Walnut Creek. They were wooden structures, and did not last many years until they became unsafe, and he ceased to take toll, and abandoned the bridges. Mr. Pugh then lived by the road side, and kept a tavern east of Walnut Creek; he did not keep toll collectors at the bridges, but collected from travellers at his house.
* Yet living
Building his bridges was an unprofitable enterprise. Mr. Pugh died in October, 1857, in the eighty-ninth year of his age. The generation to which he had belonged had run away from him; and he too has now “gone glimmering through the dream of things that were.”
The summer and fall of 1823 exceeded any thing before known for sickness. The whole country was little else than one vast infirmary – whole families were frequently prostrate without well members enough to take care of the sick ones. The diseases were bilious and intermittent fevers, of all types, from the common fever and ague to the most malignant. Although the mortality was great, still it was not excessively so in proportion to the number of sick. Many prominent men were taken off that season, amongst whom were Lucas Sullivant,* Judge John A. McDowell, Judge John Kerr, David S. Broderick, Brazillai Wright, keeper of the Penitentiary, and others. The ensuing year, 1824, was also very sickly, but not so much so as 1823. Amongst the prominent old citizens carried off this year, were Capt. Joseph Vance, Billingsby Bull, Esq., James Culbertson, John Starr, sr. and others.
Amongst the writers for the newspapers about this
* Mr. Sullivant was about fifty-eight years of age. He was the leading pioneer in Franklin County – a man of enterprise, good judgment, and great energy of character.
time, was Thomas Backus (father of the late Elijah Backus) who wrote over the signature of “Fabius.” Mr. Backus was an able and cutting writer. He occasionally wrote poetry. The following lines from his pen, have a reference to the demolition of the beautiful mound that once stood at the corner of High and Mound streets, in Columbus, and was partly used up in the manufacture of brick for the first State House, and from which many human bones were taken:
Mr. Backus died in the fall of 1825.
Harvey D. Little was also a contributor to the columns of the newspapers, and wrote over the signature of “Velasco.” He was a young man of some talent, and afterward editor of the National Enquirer, published by Horton Howard. He mostly wrote poetry; was of a sedate and solemn turn of mind, and his productions were generally expressive of his own feelings. The following is a specimen of his poetry:
Mr. Little died in Columbus, of cholera, in 1833.
In 1823, the present straight road from the north end of High street, Columbus, to Worthington, was opened; previous to that, the road passed up the river, and Olentangy Creek.*
In 1824, the county seat was removed from Franklinton to Columbus.
Times remained dull, and prices of real estate and agricultural productions low, until about 1827 or 1828. And from about 1830 to 1837, improvements of all kinds and business generally, were brisk; and the price of real estate in both town and country, run up at railroad speed. In fact, a kind of speculation mania prevailed about this time through all parts of the union; and the people of Franklin County partook in their full proportion. Buying and selling of real estate, laying
* This stream, formerly called Whetstone, is, by a law passed in February, 1833, to restore the Indian names to certain streams, called Olentangy&natch;and the stream sometimes called Big Walnut, and sometimes Big Belly in named Gahannah–though it is said that the name Gahannah is only applicable to that stream below the junction of the three creeks–Blacklick, Walnut, and Alum Creeks–that the Indian word Gahannah signifies–three united in one..
out towns, and sub-dividing lots and lands into smaller parcels, and selling, leasing, etc., were the most common operations of the speculator. The mora multicaulus excitement also prevailed, and money was made by some in the sale of the plants, or bushes,–but those who bought and attempted to cultivate the mulberry, raise the worms, and manufacture the silk, did not succeed so well. Messers. Joseph Sullivant, A. S. Chew, and perhaps some others connected with them, set out a large field of the mulberry plants, and erected a good sized frame building near Franklinton, for a silk manufactory. The experiment was made, but not succeeding well, the whole concern was abandoned in a few years, and nothing now remains to even show where the “Silk Factory” stood.
The raising of the sugar beet, for the manufacture of sugar, was also another wild chimera introduced about this time. Mr. Sullivant also experimented in this, but abandoned the project after one or two years of rather unsuccessful operations
About the year 1837, this wild career of speculation–this getting rich one off another, without creating any additional wealth in the country, but merely exchanging property from hand to hand, and every time placing a higher estimate on it, had about exhausted itself; and things began to gently recede, and by 1840
business had again become very dull, and prices of real estate and produce had essentially fallen.
During this year (1840) the principal business of the country, far and near, appeared to be electioneering – attending conventions and stump speeches, making and waving of flags, singing political songs, etc. All now appeared intent on saving the country and bettering their own conditions in this way.
From 1846 or '47 until 1853, was another flow of speculative enterprise; and money being plenty, and the currency good, the whole country improved rapidly. The city and towns flourished, population increased from emigration, and the farming interest never before was so prosperous.
Since 1853, things have been again receding, particularly in the city and towns – the farming interest is not, however, much affected yet, and probably will not be so much as the towns. The railroads bring the farmers so near the eastern cities that they are not much dependent on their neighboring towns or city for a market for their productions. The capital of the towns and cities principally made the railroads–the farmer profits by them.
About the year 1839 or'40, a paper mill was erected by Henry Roedter and John Siebert, on the Scioto, some two or three miles above Franklinton, where they
for some time carried on the paper making business. It did not, however, succeed well, and Roedter soon passed out of the concern, and removed to Cincinnati. It was then for a time owned and worked by Siebert and Ernst Frankenberg, and succeeded no better. It then passed into the hands of Asahel Chittenden, who abandoned the old site and building, and in the fall of 1845, removed the machinery to a new brick building erected for that purpose, just above the national road bridge, in Columbus, where it was worked for some time by J. L. Martin, R. H. Hubbell, and then by William Murphy, until it was destroyed by fire, in 1848. It was then rebuilt and worked by Mr. A. B. Newburgh, until the fall of 1849, when it finally closed its business. The same building was afterward converted into a machine shop, owned by Messrs. Swan and Davis, and in July, 1854, it was again destroyed by fire – building, machinery, and all.
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