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This township is situated in the western part of the county, and is bounded on the north by Bath, on the east by Xenia, on the south by Sugar Creek Township, and on the west by Montgomery County. It was one of the original townships of the county organization, embracing at that time, a considerable larger expanse of territory than at present, although it is now one of the largest townships in the county, containing as it does, an area of 31,360 acres, being seven sections square, with the addition of some irregular protrusions of the eastern boundary.
The surface of the land comprising this township, consists of rolling lands of gentle undulations, with many prairie valleys stretching in fertile fields between the sloping ridges. The soil is generally of a very rich clay in the higher lands, while in the valleys, the darker, and more alluvial soil is found. The timber consists principally of oak, walnut, ash, hickory, and some cherry, the latter is found mostly in the bottoms, while the former predominates largely along the ridges of the higher lands.
The principal productions are corn, wheat, rye, barley, and in the southern part of. the township, some tobacco is raised.
BIG BEAVER VALLEY.
Big Beaver Valley is a considerable scope of prairie land of extraordinary productiveness, extending north from the village of Alpha for some five miles, with a variable width of a mile, and is drained by Big Beaver Creek, from which it takes its name. On the ridges extending along both sides of this valley, the prosperous farmers have built their home-like and commodious residences, and seldom is there found a more pleasing rural prospect than is exposed to view from these elevations, commanding this beautiful, and bountiful valley.
The Little Miami River enters the township at the southeast, and
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flowing directly across the southeast corner, enters Sugar Creek about midway of the boundary line of the two townships. Big Beaver Creek, a considerable stream, flows from the north through, the eastern part, southward, and empties into the Little Miami River, south of Alpha.
Ludlow Run rises in the extreme northeast, and flows almost directly south, emptying into the Little Miami northeast of Beaver Station (Trebein's).
Little Beaver Creek takes its rise in the western part of the township, and, flowing directly east, is joined by Bull-skin Run from the northwest, and other minor branches from the southwest -emptying into Big Beaver just west of Alpha.
POPULATION AND INDUSTRIES.
The population of this township is mostly rural, there being no incorporated towns or villages within its limits; there are, however, several small villages in the township, some of which approach the size of respectable incorporations. For the above reason, the chief industries belong to the agricultural department. There are three flour-mills in active operation at present, together with one distillery, and various saw-mills located at different places throughout the township. In the past, quite an extensive woolen factory, and another distillery were in operation at Alpha; also, an oil-mill on the Little Miami, south of Alpha. The woolen factory was destroyed by fire in 1871, and the other interests were allowed to expire for reasons not known. The census of 1880 gives the township a population of 2,470, a gain of one hundred and eighty-one since 1870.
The Dayton & Xenia Railroad, a branch of the Little Miami Road, built to connect Dayton and Xenia, extends across the central portion of the township from east to west, and was completed some time in 1853. The Dayton & Southeastern Narrow Gage Railroad was built in 1877-8, and extends along almost the same route with the other road, connecting the same points. Along these lines of railroads most of the thickly-settled neighborhoods are located, including the villages and mills and other business interests, present-
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ing no small show of dilligent enterprise all along the line through the township.
TURNPIKES AND ROADS.
The first road over which the early settlers passed in their extended explorations of the wilderness, undoubtedly was the old Pinkney road from Cincinnati running through Bellbrook, in Sugar Creek, and extending to the Owen Davis mill, then bearing eastward, passing what was known as Pinkney Pond, near where Beaver Station is now located, on toward Oldtown and Xenia. The route of this old road, however, is not so plainly marked through this township, having been lost, no doubt, in the many diverging tracks leading in various directions from the point mentioned. Over this road early settlers made their long six-weeks' pilgrimages to Cincinnati for the necessary family supplies, and paying in that distant market- after so long a journey, accompanied by difficulties which cannot to-day be realized twice as much per pound for common salt as is paid in Alpha now for the finest grade of sugar. The Dayton and Xenia Turnpike was built first from Dayton to Alpha, some time about 1858, and was afterward completed to Xenia, thus affording the chief means of communication with markets of these cities. This road was built by a joint stock company, and is kept in repair by collections made in the common way, at the toll-gates on the road. Good, substantial gravel roads extend throughout the township, uniting all points in easy and safe communication, through all the seasons of the year.
The present flour-mill of Jacob H. Harbine stands on the site, or very near, the first mill erected in Greene County, which was built by Owen Davis, some time about 1797. This mill then passed to Jacob Smith, and from him to James Scott. The present one was built by John Harbine in 1833, and was successfully operated by him until his death, when it carrie into the possession of his son, Jacob. It is situated on Big Beaver Creek, from which its motive power is derived, just southwest of the village of Alpha, and at present has four run of stones, with a capacity of seventy-five barrels per day. The "old system " is used in the manufacture of
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flour; shipping mostly to Baltimore, Maryland, and other eastern cities. The building is a substantial frame, over four stories, and at present in good general repair. This mill very appropriately took the name of " Alpha," being the first, or on the site of the first, mill in. the county.
The next flour-mill was built by Solomon Shoup, in 1805, about two miles west of Alpha, near the village of Zimmermanville, now on the line of the railroads. Several buildings have been since built on this site. The present was erected in 1812, and is now owned and operated by John Schantz, who came into possession in 1868. The building is a frame, about 40x55 feet, and is three stories high; at present has three run of stones, with a capacity of forty barrels of flour per day. The" new process" is used to some extent, and the power is derived from Little Beaver Creek, on which the mill is situated.
The next mill was built about the same time, on the site of the present one at Beaver Station, on the railroads, about two miles east of Alpha, on the Little Miami River. It was built by Adam Emory, and was known as the " Emory Mills." In 1815, Jonathan Snyder and Andrew Baughman operated this mill; then it passed to E. C. Frost, afterward to Lester and William Arnold, who continued in possession for about six years. At present it is owned and operated by F. C. Trebein. The structure is a frame, of modern finish, has five run of' stones, propelled by both steam and water-power, and has a capacity of ninety-five barrels per day, shipping mostly to Philadelphia and New York.
The only distillery in the township is operated by Mr. Trebein, at the same point-Beaver Station. The first building for this purpose was erected on this site, by Baughman & Snyder, in 1841, and has been operated in connection with the flour-mill since. At present it has a capacity of two hundred and twenty-six barrels, mashing two hundred and sixteen, with daily average of eight hundred gallons. Mr. Trebein is also feeding quite a large number of hogs and cattle at this place, and at present is making arrangements to increase his facilities in this branch of the business.
The first school house of which any account can be found, was built prior to 1800, on the farm of Jacob Coy, southwest, section
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31 (3.7), in the southeast corner, made by the Shakertown road crossing the road from Schantz's mill, about two miles west of Alpha. This school was taught by a very eccentric English gentleman, who prided himself on a sounding name and an imaginary title, insisting, on all occasions, on being addressed as Thomas Marks Davis, the Second. He succeeded, however, in supporting the dignity of such a title on a very uncertain salary, fluctuating between eight and ten dollars per month.
The next house was built northeast of the present residence of Jacob Hering, on the farm of Jacob Lentz, being near the southeast corner of section 27 (3.7). This house was a rude log cabin, common to those early days, and was used as a meeting-house by the German Reformed Church as early as 1809.
In the year 1817, there was another house erected in the northwest part of the township, in the northeast part of section 16 (3.7), just north. of the present house of Jacob Swadner. This school was presided over by Amos Quinn, a gentleman of genial temperament, not to be crossed by any amount of rebelliousness on the part of his pupils. It is related that this school was famous for many escapades and "tricks" by the "big boys" of the "settlement," who trained under the amiable Quinn. Many lively scenes occurred between the teacher and scholars, especially during the Christmas holidays, when it was customary to bar the teacher out, and compel him to " treat" before the doors would be opened and the school allowed to proceed. At one time "the boys" barred Quinn out, who, after making a desperate effort to gain an entrance at the door, ascended the roof, and began tearing the clapboards from the house. The noise and general clatter of this procedure attracted the attention of the settlers, and several assembled to witness the conflict. Finally the teacher effected an entrance, but as he dropped from the roof among the "boys," he was immediately seized and securely bound, so that he was glad to surrender and furnish the " cider and apples," which he did, having procured them from a neighbor, when the course of education, thus momentarily suspended, was allowed to resume its " even tenor" in Beaver Creek.
The next house was erected on the site of the present union school building, at Beaver, on the Dayton and Xenia pike, northeast of Alpha: This house, like all the others, only on a larger plan, was built of rough logs, having one end wholly occupied by a
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fire-place of such commodious proportions as to admit of the large logs from the wilderness of woods immediately surrounding this early school house. The benches, without backs, were rudely constructed of long, rough-hewn slabs, with holes bored through at each end, in which were inserted wooden pins for support, and this seat was considered a very comfortable arrangement for the primitive scholar.
This building was succeeded by a brick house, in 1822, and afterward another brick building, of the same size, was added to this one, making the present union school house. This school, at present, has two departments, and embraces, in addition to the common school studies, a curriculum of the higher branches..
The township now has twelve school districts, well furnished with good buildings, and supplied regularly with teachers at public expense, thus bringing the ordinary branches of education to the very doors of the poorest man in the township, and the present general appearance of intelligent thrift and enterprise, everywhere evinced throughout this township, is, no doubt, attributable to the interest manifested in the public schools.
The first church organization, was effected in the log school house, as above mentioned, sometime in 1809, and was called the "German Reformed Church." Afterwards,' this congregation, together with the Lutheran congregation, built a log " meeting house" on the site of the present Beaver Church, and these organizations held their respective services there on alternate Sabbaths. The first minister for the German Reformed Church was Thomas Winters, father of the well known David Winters. And among the original members of this body, were Jonathan Snyder, George Long, Adam Glotfelter, Ebenezer Steele, and many others whose names can not now be recalled. The first minister for the Lutherans, was Henry Heinicker. Among the first members were Andrew Smeltzer, Michael Swigert, and Daniel Haines. In 1844 and 1845, these organizations built another house at Mt. Zion, about two and one-half miles south-west of Alpha, and in 1846 and 1847, the present brick church at Beaver was built. In 1851, the German Reformed Church, known as "Hawker's Church," was built; if is situated on the Dayton and Xenia pike, about five miles northwest from Alpha,
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and about three-fourths of a mile from the Montgomery County line, on the farm of Adam Hawker, S. E. Sec. 9, (2. 7.) Among the original members, were Joseph Coblentz, John Westfall, Soloman Snepp, Fredrick, Abraham and Adam Hawker. In 1822, David Winters succeeded his father as pastor of these congregations, continuing in this capacity until during the past year. Under his ministry, these houses have all been erected, all bearing the same external appearance. They are of brick, plain, but substantial, having basements for Sabbath-schools; are of general uniform size, being about 45x70 feet.
At the Mt. Zion. Church, the German Reformed, and Lutheran organizations hold services alternately. Among the ministers for the Lutherans, after Henry Heinicker, were Roszen Miller, Solomon Ritz, and John Geiger. The present minister is J. F. Scheafer. The trustees of this church at the time of its erection, were Michael Swigert, Jacob Rike, and Henry Coy.
United Brethren Church.- Is situated in the northwest part of the township, on what is known as the "Fifth Street road," on the farm formerly owned by Jacob Aley, being near central part of Sec. 10, (2. 7.). Jacob Aley donated the land on which this church was built, and hence it is familiarly known as " Aley's Church". It is a plain frame house, about 25x30, and was built in 1838, by the German Reformed, United Brethren, and Lutherans, uniting together. The United Brethern hold services every alternate Sabbath. Among the original members, were Jacob, John, and Abram Aley, David Costler, and Jacob Fox.
Pisgah German Reformed Church.-Is situated about two miles north of Zimmermanville, on. the northwest corner, where the road from the above place crosses the Fifth Street, or Dayton road, central part of Sec. 34, (2. 7.). It is a plain frame house, about 30x36, and was built in 1872. This organization formerly held services in the school house of this district, under the ministry of Father Lefever. Their present minister is Adam Hawker, and among original members, were George Koogler, Eli Trubee, S. C. Bates, and others.
Methodist Protestant Church (Alpha).-This church was erected in 1872, by the united efforts of the Methodist Protestant and German Reformed organizations ; but the latter do not hold services at this place now. The original trustees were composed of members from each body. For the Methodist Protestant were Daniel
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Overholser and David Gray; for the German Reformed were John Harbine, Solomon Glotfelter, and George Danner. The Methodist Protestant organization belongs to the Ohio Conference of that denomination, from which it receives its ministers regularly by call of the delegate elected by the members of the organization. Among those who have served this church were : T. J. Evans, W. R. Parsons, Reuben Rose, William Overholser, and at present, W. M. Creamer. The building is a substantial brick, about 40x60, and is the only church building in the village of Alpha.*
German Baptist (Bunker) Church, (Zimmermanville).-The first organization of this church in this township was effected in 1805, the services being held at private houses of the brethren until 1843, when the present house, located as above, was erected. The house is a single-story frame structure, about 36x70, in which services are now held regularly every alternate Sabbath. The original ministers were Jacob Miller, Elder Sigler, and Moses Shoup. The first deacons were Moses Shoup and John Stoneberger; the present . ones are Jacob A. Coy, Daniel Shoup, Aaron Coy, and William J. Shoup ; present ministers are B. F. Darst, Henry Duncan, and David Bates. This organization of German Baptists are commonly called Dunkers. This is a modernized appellation, taken from the German word to fen or tanker, which means to dip or immerse, from which, by unknown processes, the word became danker, and was given to this branch of the Baptist Church. The organization has a strong membership in this township, and as its customs and beliefs are in many respects peculiar, they should have place in this history. Among the peculiar customs is that of "washing of feet." This occurs at the communion service, which is held once every year. This operation is performed by one of the ministers, who, girding himself with a towel, proceeds to wash the brethrens' feet. (This is taken as a divine command, as revealed in John, xiii. chap.) The ministers relieve each other, until the feet of all the brethren are washed. The sisters, in the same way, perform the same ceremony separate from the brethren. Immediately following this ceremony supper is served, after which the bread is broken and the wine is taken. The ministers are required to " anoint the sick with oil," as taught by St. James. They do not conform to the world in matter of dress. The men wear broad-brimmed hats and straightcollared coats with rounded skirts; the women plain sun-bonnets, plain dresses, and caps. This custom in dress they have preserved
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from the first German emigrants who came to America. They are opposed to war, and will not bear arms ; neither do they vote at political elections, though to this latter, perhaps, they do not hold so stringently. All matters of dispute between themselves are settled in the church, without appealing to the laws of the country, according to Matthew, xviii. chap. They believe in triune immersion the person kneels in the water, and is dipped three times, face foremost, in the water.
Beaver Grange No. 60, was organized in 1876, and holds regular meetings in the basement of the Beaver Church. The official members of the original organization were: J. C. Williamson, Master ; C. J. Butt, Overseer; John Ridenour, Lecturer; David Gray, Treasurer; Jeremiah Overholser, Chaplain; Horace Ankeney, Secretary; John Weaver, Gate-Keeper; Edward Munger, Steward; Ella Weaver, Pomona; Jennie Shank, Ceres; Mary Gray, Flora. The meetings of the society are enlivened by debates on agricultural questions, and the consideration of plans and suggestions for the improvement of agricultural interests. This organization is in good condition, having about sixty members from among the most prominent farmers in the township.
Grange No. 1,208, was organized in 1877, under Oliver Moler, Master. The hall in which this organization meets was built for this purpose, on the farm of Adam Hawker, near Hawker Church, on the Dayton Pike. It is a two-story frame, 24x40. The society, with an original membership of nearly sixty, is now in tolerable prosperity.
The first settlement in this township was made at Alpha, sometime prior to 1798, by Owen Davis, in which year the log cabin mill, erected by him, was finished and put in operation. A short distance east of the mill, two block houses were erected, and it was intended, in case of an attack by the Indians, to connect them by a line of pickets, and include the mill within the stockade. The log cabin built by General Benjamin Whiteman was a short distance south of the mill. In this cabin the first court of Greene County
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was held on the 10th day of May, 1803. It witnessed the organization of the county, the first administration of law, the first exercise of suffrage through the ballot-box, and the first legal punishment of crime. Near it the first corn was ground into meal for the settlers, and here they rallied for protection against the Indians. Sheltered beneath the protecting arms of the rude frontier stockade, and clustering about this "cradle" of the county, the forefathers of Beaver Creek Township built their homely cabins, and pushed the germs of civilization further and further into the great wilderness. One by one, up from the last farewell to civilization at Cincinnati, and along the old Pinkney road, the covered wagons and the lagging horses, guided by the sturdy pioneers, came. The settlement grew ; the woods and thickets gave way to growing fields and bounteous harvests, and the log cabins have now long since given place to the comfortable homes of prosperous farmers.
In 1800 the father of Jacob Coy came from Maryland and settled where Jacob now lives, on the Shakertown Pike, about two miles west of Alpha- Southwest, section 31 (2. 7). He built a log cabin where the present residence now stands. George Shoup, from Pennsylvania, settled on the farm now owned ' by B. F. DarstSouthwest, section 36 (2. 6.)-about this same year. He built a cabin near the present farm residence at Mount Zion, and about the same time Jacob Judy built a cabin on the land now owned by Benjamin Benham, near his present residence, central part of section 30 (3. 6), about one mile south of Alpha; also, Jacob Haines, where Adam Garlaugh now lives, southwest of Alpha, and built his cabin near the mouth of Little Beaver-West, section 25 (3.7). In 1805 Benjamin Whiteman, of Virginia, owned the land on which Jacob Herring now lives, about two and one-half miles north of Alpha. In the following year (1806) David Hering, from Frederick County, Maryland, purchased this farm, and built a log cabin immediately in front of the present residence of his son, Jacob - Southwest, section 20 (3. 7). In 1807 a man by the name of Kent settled the land now owned by David Garlaugh, north of Hering's, being Southeast, section 22, (3. 7.), and built his cabin a short distance east of Mr. Garlaugh's present residence.
Some time previous to 1810, Richard Kizer built a log cabin about one hundred yards west of the present house of Jacob Swadner's, northeast of Garlaugh's being central part of section 16 (3. 7.), and in the same year George Frost built a cabin in the north-
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east of this section. In 1810 Adam Swadner came from Maryland, and entered one hundred and fifty acres of land in section 16 (3. 7.), and built the present residence of his son, Jacob Swadner. He was granted this laud for a period of fifteen years for the improvements, which he was to put on it, consisting of the log house now occupied by Jacob Swadner, and a log barn. He was a shoe-maker and general mechanic, thus making himself generally useful in the new settlement.
In the year 1815, John Kinney settled the land on which Isaac Swadner now lives-southwest section 10 (3.7). Among the early settlers of this locality, at this tine, were Philip Morningstar, who had erected his cabin where George Wolf now lives-northeast section 9 (3.7) ; George Morningstar, on the farm now owned by John B. Stine-southwest, section 9 (3.7), his cabin standing on the site of the present farm residence. He afterward removed to the farm now owned by John Haines-northeast, section 13 (3.7).
Joseph Palmer first settled the farm of William Miller, which joins Beaver Station on the north. Gray lived for many years on the farm of Samuel Andrews-southeast, section 8 (3.7). These cabins formed the outline, or nucleus, around which the earliest settlements of this township were originally made.
There is no "cemetery association" controlling burying-grounds in this township, but the many churches all have cemetery grounds attached, and in these places the interments are mostly made. The first burial place in this township is on the corner of Jacob Coy's farm, west of Alpha, where the Shakertown and Zimmermanville roads cross, but only a few time-worn tombstones now remain to mark the spot. On the farm of B. F. Darst, next to Mount .:Zion Church, is located a grave-yard, which was donated to the public for a free burying-ground. This yard is kept in good repair, and is, in every way, a respectable place for interment.
Alpha is the largest village within the bounds of the township, and takes its name from its situation near the site of the first mill in the county, and near the first settlement of the township (from
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alpha; the first letter of the Greek alphabet). It is situated in the southeast part of the township, on the line of railroads, as before mentioned, and has a population of nearly two hundred. The main street, being the only one, crosses the railroads, running almost north and south, on which the principal residences and business houses are located. It has at present one dry-goods store, grocery, and post-office, one Methodist Protestant Church, one flour-mill, one saw-mill, one saloon, one blacksmith shop, one butcher shop, and one doctor's office. Among the prominent citizens are Jacob Harbine, Lewis Craig, Dr. Hagenbaugh, Eli Kershner, and Samuel Leonard. Hon. John M. Miller, a former resident of this place, was elected to the United States Congress, in 1861, but died before taking his seat in that body. The village did not begin to assume any degree of progress until the railroad was built, in 1853, but at this time it is related that quite a rivalry began among the citizens of the community, as to who should put up the first house in the new town. Enoch Needles and Baur Dice each began to erect their houses. Needles, at this time, began the house now occupied by William Wardle, across the railroad from the present drygoods store, and Dice, at the same time, began his house just opposite. The contest was an exciting one; and though Mr. Needles succeeded in getting the frame of his house up first, such was the hurry in the construction, that it fell down the same night, thereby giving Dice the opportunity of declaring that his was the first house built in the town of Alpha. Enoch Needles kept the first drygoods store in the above house.
Zimmermanville is a closely settled neighborhood on the Dayton and Xenia pike, about two miles northwest of Alpha, the crossing of the Bellbrook and Fairfield road with the above, making the only street. It has at present one school house, one German Baptist (Dunker) Church, one grocery, and about forty houses. The first house built here was erected on the southeast corner of the cross-roads, for Jacob Zimmerman, after whom the village takes its name. In this house, which is still standing, the first grocery was kept by Mr. Zimmerman. He also kept a house for entertainment of travelers. The next house was built just across the Dayton pike, by Samuel Tobias, and is remembered as one of the first voting places in this neighborhood.
Beaver Station, is situated in the southeastern part of the township, on the Dayton and Xenia, and the Dayton, and Southeastern,
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Railroads, and is known as the location of the flour mill, and distillery of F. C Trebein. It. has one grocery, and several dwelling houses.
Germany is a small collection of houses in the extreme northwestern part. of the township, on the Harshmanville road, and at present, has a school-house, grocery, and blacksmith shop.
On the night of the 22d of October, 1872, at about eight o'clock, John William Fogwell, (or properly Faulkwell,) was assassinated by William Richison, on the road about one mile north of Beaver Station. The victim was returning to his home from Dayton, when he was fired upon by the assassin, who was secreted in a corner of the fence. The weapon was a shot-gun, loaded with balls. The flash of the gun revealed the face of the assassin, and he was recognized by the murdered man, who lived long enough to tell the name of his murderer. Richison was arrested, and at his trial, evidence was brought which fastened the guilt of the crime upon him: besides the evidence of the victim-which was strengthened by evidence of experts, who demonstrated by experiments, the possibility of the accuracy of his statement-the paper used for the wadding of the shot-gun, was found to correspond with pieces of torn paper found in the assassin's own house. He was found guilty on his first trial, but for some reason, was granted a second trial, and was again declared guilty, and was sentenced to death by hanging. But before the day fixed for his execution arrived, he committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell, in the Xenia jail. He was buried in his own door-yard, in a lone and unmarked grave, near the scene of the tragedy.
On the night of the 7th day of September, 1872, Jesse Curry was shot., and killed by a revolver, in the hands of Jack Davidson. They were coming home from a dance near Zimmermanville, on the road northwest of Alpha. Davidson was convicted, and sentenced to a life term in the penitentiary, but was pardoned by Governor R. M. Bishop.
On the farm now belonging to John Allen, just southwest of Beaver Station, was a large body of standing water, known as
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Pinkney Pond. To this pond, the deer, and other wild animals, would go at night for water, and it was the custom of the early settlers to go there on hunting expeditions. One night, John and Samuel Morningstar went out on this pond in a canoe, with their. guns, and a large torch. Proceeding slowly along the banks, they suddenly came upon a large buck standing at the edge of the water. The blinding light of the torch, seemed to petrify the animal with fright, and the sudden appearance of such large game, gave the boys a genuine attack of what is known among hunters as "buckague." However, the boys recovered, and shot the deer, when it bounded directly into the boat, capsized the hunters, and a long struggle took place in the water, which finally ended, when the boys succeeded in dispatching the deer. This is related as one of the exploits on the famous Pinkney Pond.