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This township is located in the extreme northwestern part of the county, in township 2, range 8, and is bounded on the north by Montgomery and Clarke counties, on the east by Miami and Xenia Townships, on the south by Xenia and Beaver Creek Townships, and on the west by Montgomery County. Beaver Creek has its source in section fifteen, thence flows southwardly, entering Beaver Creek Township. A small creek runs diagonally across the northwestern part. Another creek has its origin in the northwest quarter of section three, flows southwestwardly to the southwest quarter of section nine; thence in a northwestern direction to section sixteen ; thence southwest, forming a pond just east of the village of Fairfield. From this pond the water is conducted by an artificial channel to the southwest corner of the township. These streams and their many tributaries, which owe their origin to the numerous springs, supply the demands of agriculture and manufacture. The surface is generally level, interspersed with knolls and mounds, of which Reed's Hill, located in the center of sections fourteen and fifteen, is the most conspicuous. The soil is fertile and productive, as is attested by the large grain shipments. The Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis, and the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio Railroads, running almost parallel with each other, cross the township on the west, beginning at a point one mile east of the center of the northern boundary, and running diagonally to a point one mile north of the extreme southwestern corner, they furnish the necessary transportation, and add to the general development of the community. According to the census, the population in 1870 was 2,684; in 1880, 2,603.
The first person who settled within the boundaries of Bath Township, was a Virginian named Murser, who came with his fam
710 - HISTORY OF GREENE COUNTY.
ily in the latter part of the eighteenth century. It was customary in those days to accord a preemption to the first settler, who was also entitled to a premium of twenty-five cents on each acre purchased by him. By taking advantage of this offer, Murser was enabled to purchase a large tract of land. He settled one and one-half miles south of the present village of Osborn, on the site of an Indian village ; the savages having been driven therefrom some years before, by a band of Kentuckians. The place is now owned and occupied by James Williamson. The Murser's were small in figure, but rather active. Some of their descendants, of whom we mention General Murser, are yet living.
Shortly after the arrival of the Mursers, a number of Kentuckians and Virginians took up their abode in this township. George Wolf settled near Beaver Creek in 1799. Adam Koogler, uncle of Simon Koogler, an old and respected citizen of Osborn, settled on lands now in possession of P. F. Cost, in the same year. This year also witnessed the settlement of Aikens, who sold his land to John Wolf soon after. Among those who located in this township during the period intervening between 1800 and 1820, were the Chambers, William, Adam, and John; the Kirkwoods, Robert and John; Abraham Huffer; James Guthrie, who was prominently known as a scholar of rare ability; Robert Frakes, Nimrod Haddox, James and Joseph Tatman, who settled near the village of Fairfield. The latter was appointed associate judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1804, and afterward represented his county in the legislature of the state.
We submit the following interview with Mr. John Cox, an old citizen
" I was born in Virginia, in the year 1800. In the following year father (John), together with his family, removed to this county and township. They were conveyed by a yoke of oxen. We located on the present Hagenbaugh place, near Fairfield, and here we remained two years; then removed to Osborn. The Kooglers Mursers, and Scotts located in this vicinity before we came. Murser had the preemption right of a large tract of land. Our land was entered at the Cincinnati land office, at $2.25 per acre. Father was township trustee for a number of years, and died in 1821. Andrew Reed was the first justice of the peace. He was also elected judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Greene County.
"The first school-house in this vicinity was located on the hill
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then owned by one Smith. It was constructed of logs. Reed was the first teacher, Griffin the next. There were several schools at Fairfield. This township consisted in part of prairie lands. The site of Osborn, however, was a dense forest. The settlers, in their religious views, represented the Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian faith, and divine services of these denominations were held in the various cabins. We hauled grain to Dayton, receiving fifty cents per bushel for the same. Three-fourths of the proceeds were converted into household necessities. The price of tea was five dollars per pound; that of calico, from sixty cents to one dollar per yard; two bushels of wheat were exchanged for one yard of calico. Indians frequently visited the neighborhood. They came from the Sandusky reservation, camped in the vicinity of the Harshman mill property, and were perfectly harmless. I remember sitting on a squaw's lap, in return for which she presented me with a pair of moccasins. "
John Haddox was born in western Virginia, in 1791. He left his native state with his father, Nimrod, and the family of the latter, in 1801. They came to Ohio, and settled on a tract of land one mile and a quarter east of what is now known as the village of Osborn. The land is now embraced in Clarke County, although at that time a part of Greene. A large and inexhaustible spring induced then to settle in this particular locality, the land being entered at the congressional land office at Cincinnati. The family, which consisted of four members, traveled from the old home to the new principally on foot, as they had but two pack-horses, and no wagon. After residing in his new abode about three years, Haddox was seized with a sudden and uncontrollable desire to remove to Kentucky, which terminated in the sale of his property, and the preparation of himself and family for a journey to that state. The first night of the journey was spent at the house of a friend, who lived on the Great Miami River. Upon learning the object of their journey, the host argued ably against the scheme, and succeeded in convincing his guests that the undertaking was a foolish one, whereupon they retraced their steps, and again settled in the vicinity of their late home. The elder Haddox was killed, some sixty years ago, by falling from a wagon loaded with hay, which was upset by the running away of the horses. His wife never recovered from the shock caused by this deplorable accident; and in a few months followed him to the grave. The children were
712 - HISTORY OF GREENE COUNTY.
left in destitute circumstances, and John was compelled to work for the surrounding farmers, in order to pay the expenses of interring his beloved parents. During his lifetime the elder Haddox held the responsible position of justice of the peace. He was also one of the first school-teachers in that vicinity. John has a brother, Nimrod, who lives in this county. Mary, his sister, died in this county several years ago. He was an active participant in the war of 1812, and has been a loyal citizen to this day. The writer was: shown a deed for the southeast quarter of section 29, dated 1826, j and signed by James Monroe, president of the United States. This tract was conveyed to John Haddox, and is still owned by him. Haddox is now eighty-nine years of age, enjoys good health, votes the Republican ticket-has never voted for a Democrat-and boasts of being the great great-grandfather of twenty-two children.
In the year 1806 or 1807, William Stephenson, Sen., with his wife and four children, namely, William, James, Peter, and John, left the State of Kentucky, and came to this township, settling one mile and a half east of Osborn, on land now owned by John Dispenett. With three others, he entered a quarter section, at about three dollars per acre, which was paid for in installments. Captain William Stephenson, son of William, jr., and the oldest descendant of the family now living, was born in 1816.
WAR OF 1812.
Although but thinly settled, Bath Township responded nobly to the call for aid during the war of 1812. Of those who were engaged in active service, we mention the names of Nimrod Haddox and his son John, William Read, Captain Stephenson, and one Holmes. John Haddox, still living, was in the army two years, and fought in the battle of the Maumee.
When the news of Hull's surrender to the British reached the inhabitants of Bath, there was much consternation among her people, as it was generally supposed that the British forces would leave for this state at once. A call for volunteers was made, which was responded to by the people of the entire county. It was decided to gather all the qualified men obtainable, and march at once in the direction of Lake Erie, to repel, if possible, the approaching armies of the British. They proceeded at once to Urbana, in Champaign County, where had been gathered a large concourse of
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people from the surrounding country, who were willing to sacrifice their lives, if need be, to prevent the enemy from ravaging on Ohio soil. From Urbana they proceeded northward, in the direction of Lake Erie. Before arriving at the end of their march, they were met by couriers, and informed that it was not the intention of the British to invade Ohio, whereupon they returned to their respective places of abode. Nimrod Haddox was stationed in Canada during Perry's victory on Lake Erie, receiving $1.50 per day for his services. Food was obtainable at a very high figure only, consequently the men were compelled to pay for their maintenance even more than their salaries, which caused much suffering.
When the pioneers took up their abode in the wilds of this township, they found that red men were undisputed possessors of the forests. They represented the Delaware and Shawanoes tribes, and were generally peaceable and harmless. They devoted their time mostly to hunting and fishing, and would frequently present the whites with venison. During the cold winter months, they often came to the house of Mr. Haddox, and obtained permission to lie down by the fire-place, which they considered a great treat. John Haddox well remembers the names of two of these-Ellalaho-passewassona and Patucky-passaqua. In the spring of each year most of them left for the Sandusky reservation. Here they spent the summer months, and returned again as the cold weather approached. They decreased in number gradually, and, with their tribes, finally moved westward. In 1825 there was but one Indian family in the township. They gained a livelihood by making baskets, and trading the same for bread. Occasionally a few straggling red men passed through the country, but in a few years later every vestige of them had disappeared.
The forests abounded with game. The deer, the wolf, and the bear alike were found in great numbers. The howl of the wolf sounded frightful to the unprotected inhabitants. They were killed in great numbers. Richard Hall, a great hunter in those days, killed deer at the rate of six per day. Even as late as 1835, bears
714 - HISTORY OF GREENE COUNTY.
were killed, though very scarce. Captain William Stevenson shot squirrels in the forests where now is located the village of Osborn, as late as 1845.
The first birth was that of Benjamin Wolf, who was born in the year 1800.
John Wolf and Dr. Folk came to the township with what was then considered a large sum of money, which they secreted in their respective premises. In the year 1809, the money was stolen probably the first robbery that occurred in the township. Suspicion pointed to several parties in the neighborhood, but the guilty ones escaped punishment. A peddler was also robbed at this time, and to avoid detection, the victim was murdered and thrown into a well. The perpetrators of this terrible crime escaped the penalty of the law.
A man named Kent was placed in the county jail charged with committing various crimes. By the aid of a two-inch auger he succeeded in liberating himself, and fled to Canada. Here he was met, some years ago, by a citizen of Osborn, whom he informed that " did he feel so disposed, he could make some startling revelations." It is very generally supposed that he was connected with the robbery and murder above mentioned.
The following incident was obtained from a leading citizen of Bath Township, and is given for what it is worth
It is generally supposed that a considerable amount of Government money was secreted in the Cox hill by agents of the Government, during the Indian war. It is believed, also, that the money was discovered hidden under a stone by several persons, and carried off by them. Recently, however, a young man residing at Osborn, had a dream to the effect that the money was yet undiscovered, and that its whereabouts were revealed. So far he has made no attempt to secure the treasure, nor will he disclose the hiding-place of the same.
Upon arriving at their destination, the pioneers of Bath Township found themselves in a deplorable condition. The domain
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which they called home, was but a wilderness of impenetrable forests, which must be cleared before it could be cultivated. Then, too, their implements with which to perform the Herculean task before them, were decidedly of a primitive design. But our forefathers never wavered from their chosen purpose. Realizing that "in union there is strength," the entire neighborhood met from day to day, and together they engaged in the log-rollings, of which every old resident is proud. When in a suitable condition, the soil was upturned with the wooden plow drawn by a yoke of oxen, and thus was the land placed in a state of cultivation.
In those days of natural simplicity and poverty as well, it was not considered a disgrace to be dressed in a suit of plain texture. Nor was it considered worthy of notice, if a call was made by a shoeless or bootless individual-a majority of the settlers were well contented with one pair of shoes each year.
After harvest the surplus grain was taken to Cincinnati and exchanged for coffee, sugar, and other household necessities. When the Erie and Miami Canal was completed, Dayton was selected as the market for their produce. The trip was a. tedious ,one, as the roads were scarcely traversable.
Reformed Church of Fairfield.-This church was organized March, 1843, by Thomas H. Winters. The society, consisting of the Fairfield members of the Union Church, located four miles southeast of Fairfield. A number of conversions were made prior to the organization, which resulted in the formation of a new congregation. Rev. Winters served in the capacity of pastor for two years, and was succeeded by Rev. J. S. Weise, who labored six months, when Rev. T. H. Winters again took charge of the flock. March 1, 1845, Hiram Shaull was called to the pastorate, and accepted. Immediately after the organization, preparations were made for the erection of a house of worship. In 1844 workmen were employed in the building of the same, and in the following year, on the 8th of June, it was formally dedicated. During the month of February, .1846, some seventy conversions were made through the efforts of the pastor, Rev. Shaull. He severed his relation to the church on July 26, of the same year, and Rev. Jesse Steiner was called to fill the vacancy. He was succeeded by Rev. A. Z. Dale, in 1852,
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who, in turn, was succeeded by Rev. H. K. Banes. Rev. J. Schlosser accepted a call to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Rev. Banes, October 31, 1859; he labored in the cause until 1867, and was followed by Rev. J. M. LeFever, who served until 1880, when J. T. Hale, the present incumbent, was appointed.
The church is a good substantial brick, forty by eighty-six feet. The present membership is one hundred and eighty-six, and the church may truly be said to be in a prosperous condition. Services are held each Sabbath. A Sunday-school was established several years ago, and is now in a condition highly satisfactory to its founders. Robert Miller, superintendent; H. C. Williamson, secretary; D. K. Wolf, treasurer.
Methodist Episcopal Church of Osborn.-This church is an off spring of the Methodist Episcopal society at Fairfield, and was organized in the year 1858. The writer was unable to obtain any information regarding the history of the church, but refers to the history of the Fairfield Methodist Episcopal Church for further particulars.
The society is now in a very prosperous condition. A debt of four hundred dollars, which has been hanging over the church for some time, has been liquidated; a dome has been added at a cost of one hundred and fifty dollars, in which has been hung a bell, at an expense of one hundred and eighty-seven dollars; two hundred and sixty dollars have been expended in frescoing, painting, and furnishing. The present membership is about fifty-five. Rev. W. H. Black, present minister. Sunday-school services are held each Sabbath; membership, seventy-five; D. W. Fortney, superintendent; J. J. Whaley, secretary; Emily Shepherd, treasurer.
The Presbyterian Church at Osborn.-This church was organized in the year 1865, by G. L. Massey, Rev. Johnson, of New Carlisle, being the first minister. Services were held in the Lutheran 'Church until 1867, at which time a building was erected. At the organization there were seven members, but prior to the completion of the church, the membership had swelled to eighty-five. Rev. Pollock was pastor at the time the building -erected at a cost of six thousand dollars-was dedicated. Rev. Colmerry, stated clerk of the Dayton Presbytery, is the present pastor, and the present membership numbers about sixty. Services are held each alternate Sabbath. The Sunday-school was organized in 1866, and G. W. Palmer elected superintendent. There were about eighty-five members; this is' about the present number. ' Services every Sabbath; G. W. Massey superintendent.
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NOTE.-Besides the churches mentioned, there is a Roman Catholic Church at Osborn, and several others in the township. The members have been importuned to furnish the necessary information relative to the history of their respective churches ; the request has not been complied with, hence the omission.
The writer is indebted to Hon. J. W. Greene, for the following valuable contribution relating to the schools of this township.
"The schools in this township are in a prosperous condition. There are many things connected with their early history, which are suggestive of the enterprise and spirit which controlled the pioneers in their efforts to establish the common school system.
In 1820, the subject of the organization of the township into school districts began to be agitated. In March, 1821, the township trustees, after a long struggle with the subject, finally divided the territory into seven districts, which were large, and in many cases, the pupils were compelled to travel three miles to school.
As near as can now be ascertained, the children of school age, at that time, must have been less than three hundred. Now there are thirteen districts, and nearly nine hundred children. In two of these districts there are graded schools, one in the village of Osborn containing four departments, the other in Fairfield containing three-both are in a flourishing condition. In those pioneer times there was no school fund, their expenses being paid by the patrons at so much per scholar. At present, there is invested in school houses, sites and apparatus, over twenty-three thousand dollars. The annual cost of maintaining them-teachers and incidentals -is nearly seven thousand dollars."
This village is located near the northwest corner of the township, and is divided into two almost equal parts by the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis, and the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio railroads. For its size, the town contains an unusual number of handsome dwellings, surrounded by beautiful lawns, which are thickly dotted with shade trees. Aside from the railroads mentioned, the village has access to the outside world by six pikes. Its population is estimated at seven hundred.
718 - HISTORY OF GREENE COUNTY.
Osborn was laid out in 1850, by John Cox and Samuel Stafford ; the former being possessor of most of the land contained in the site. It was surveyed by Washington Galloway. The Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad was then in process of construction, and this site was considered a splendid location for a grain market: the wisdom of the original owners has since been verified. On the first of January, 1850, the first train on the new road, was run from Springfield to Dayton; the friends of the road, all along the, line, were invited to participate in the trial trip, and an enjoyable time was had.
Shortly after its survey, the new village was christened Osborn, in honor of E. F. Osborn, Esq., superintendent of the M. R., and R. E. Railway.
The first house, which is now occupied by Henry Mercer, was erected in 1850, by Samuel Hadewall (Heedwohl); the second was built by Henry Huskett, in the year following. Subsequently, one Holden erected a building in the rear of the present store of S. W. Massey, and kept therein a small stock of groceries and provisions, but derived a greater income through the sale of intoxicating liquors. George Massey owned the first store of any importance ; James Van Austin was the first knight of the anvil and bellows, who located within the limits of Osborn. The first tavern was kept by Charles Russell and Harry Goode.
Immigration to the village was dilatory, prior to the establishment of the above mentioned enterprises; but when the future was assured by the success of the past, new settlements were made more frequently. In order to provide for the storage of grain, received for shipment, the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad Company erected a grain warehouse, which still stands, and is now owned by the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railway Company. A second warehouse, erected by the Hostetter Brothers, is still owned by them, and has been recently refitted. In 1857, the large brick mill, commonly known as " Harshman's Mill," was built by Samuel E. Stafford, to be propelled by water-power; he ran it one year, and then sold the same to John and Joseph Harshman, who operated it until a few years ago, when the machinery was stopped. In 1880, it was purchased by the present owner. A distillery was erected on the site of the mill, in 1856, but was burned to the ground shortly after. The town continued growing rapidly, until 1864, since which time its advance has been more steady.
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Owners of lots have always demanded exorbitant prices for their' property, which has proved detrimental to the general prosperity of the community.
Osborn was incorporated in 1867. The first meeting of council, was held December 19, 1867, at which time the following persons were declared elected to their respective offices: Mayor, Solon W. Mussey; clerk, Aaron Spangle; treasurer, J. B. Worley; councilmen, J. B. Massey, Samuel E. Woodard, Henry S. Musser and Caspar Fisher. At this meeting a committee was appointed to draft by-laws for the government of council. At the second meeting, held December 27, 1867, considerable business of minor importance was transacted. The first "ordinance to prevent disturbance" was passed January 2, 1868. A board of health, consisting of the following gentlemen, was appointed June 19,1873: Joseph Harshman, Aaron Spangler, L. C. McNabb, N. B. Holder, Henry Routzong, Daniel Lesher. Following, is a list of the incorporate officials for 1880: A. Spangler, mayor; T. F. Dewey, clerk; S. F. Woodard, M. V. Baggott, D. W. Fortney, W. B. Sanborn, Elias Musselman, councilmen ; G. W. Helmer, marshal; John Neitzer, treasurer.
The following is taken from the report of the clerk, for the year ending March 15, 1880:
Receipts for 1879, . . . . . . . . .. $258 09
Expenses,. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 662 34
The old school house, near the southern limits of the village, has been converted into a town hall. Meetings of council are held up stairs, while the lower floor is used for prisoners.
This, the oldest village in Bath Township, and, as a matter of record, the third in the county, was first settled in the year 1799. The town was laid out in 1816, by Joseph Tatman, who came from Kentucky, and Samuel Cosad, a native of Virginia. To show that its original projectors had an eye to the beauty of its surroundings, a short description of the valley in which it is situated may not be out of place here.
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It is from two to three miles in width, and about five miles long. Viewed from either of the hills which trend away from its northern, eastern, and southern boundaries, furnishes to the lover of the beautiful in nature a panoramic view of fertile fields and woodlands, villages, hamlets, and sparkling streams, while its western boundary is marked by the impetuous stream which enters it from the northeast, and was appropriately named by the aboriginal owners of the soil, Mad River. The soil being alluvial (especially that part originally known as Tatman's Prairie, on which the town of Fairfield was laid out), would seemingly imply that in ages gone by it was the channel of a great water course, or held within its confines a very considerable body of water. The region is eminently healthful, the soil noted for its productiveness, and when tickled by the labor of the husbandman, rarely fails to produce fruits to amply reward his toil.
The pioneers-the Tatmans, the Reads, the Casads, the Halls, the Haddoxes, the Coxes, and a score of others-came, saw, and were conquered; this prairie and its surroundings became the future home of themselves and posterity. That they succeeded, and succeeded well, the fine farms, and the evidences of prosperity which dot the landscape, fully attest.
The village of Fairfield, being centrally located, is the shiretown of Bath Township, and by the late census, had a population of nearly 400. It has one dry goods, one drug, two grocery, and one notion store; two wagon, and two blacksmith shops, one public house, one grist-mill, and three churches (Methodist, Reformed, and Baptist). It also gives employment to three physicians and one lawyer. Good turnpike roads radiate to Springfield, Dayton, Xenia, and Yellow Springs. The village has no railroads. Its proximity, however, to two important lines (the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis, and the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio) gives easy access to the outside world. Education is carefully ministered by a graded school of three departments. Oddfellowship is represented by a flourishing lodge. In 1817, the Masonic order established a lodge there, called Golden Rule Lodge No. 31, which ceased to labor in 1833, and has been at refreshment ever since.
The above is kindly furnished by Hon. J. W. Greene.