||HISTORY OF LOWER SCIOTO VALLEY
Kay L. Mason
Organization, Changes, Topography and Progress. Habitation and Name - Act to Establish the County of Scioto - Its Topography - Scioto River Navigation - Scioto River Bridges - Change in Township Lines. [Text Version]
From the first early settlement of the valley, which was mostly on the Ohio River and the valley of the Scioto, the attractiveness of the country was so great as to cause quite a rapid settlement. Therefore, it was but a few days over seven years from the date of the first arrival of Samuel Marshall, Sr., and family, before the Legislature of the State made it an independent municipality under the name of Scioto County. If the word "Scioto" has any signification in the Indian dialect or any other it has not been found. Probably there is none. The name is musical enough, and the beauty of the valley, its great richness, and its length, should have a name like itself, beautiful as to the valley and river, musical and expressive as to the name, the only valley and the only name which are unlike as to any other, and simply incomparable. In the session of the General Assembly, in the winter of 1803, eight new counties were formed by the Legislature, making at that time, or when it adjourned, seventeen counties in the State of Ohio. Five of these assumed their independence May 1, 1803. These were Scioto, Greene, Montgomery, Warren and Butler. The act to make Scioto County one of the municipal sisters of this commonwealth was passed March 24, 1803, to take effect, however, May 1, following. The act to establish the county of Scioto reads as follows:
"1. Be it enacted, etc., That all that tract of country comprehended in the following boundaries be, and the same is, hereby erected into a county by the name of Scioto, to-wit: Beginning on the Ohio, one mile on a straight line below the mouth of the Lower Twin Creek; thence north to Ross County line; thence east with said county line to the line of Washington County; thence south with said line to the Ohio; thence with the Ohio to the place of beginning. "2. That all actions, suits and prosecutions now pending in the county of Adams shall be determined in the said court; and that all fines, forfeitures and public dues, which have incurred to or which are due and owing to the county of Adams, shall be collected by the sheriff or collector of said county, in the same manner as though no division had taken place. "3. That until a permanent seat of justice shall be fixed in the county of Scioto, by commissioners for that purpose, Alexandria shall be the temporary seat of justice, and courts held at the house of John Collins. "4. That this act shall take effect and be in force from and after the first day of May next. [Passed March 24, 1803]"
Scioto County is, with one exception, Lawrence, the most southern county in the State. It lies on both sides of the Scioto River, at its confluence with the Ohio. It is in latitude 38 degrees 38 minutes north, and 32 degrees 56 minutes west, extending north about twenty miles, and including the table-land for about twenty miles east and west on either side of the Scioto River. The valley proper is based on a bed of shale, which may be seen cropping out a few miles below Portsmouth, and disappears not far from the western line of the county, near the great western limestone deposit. The table land is here elevated from three to five hundred feet above the surface of the valley. It is gently undulating, but as it approaches the Scioto it becomes very precipitous, and, in most cases, incapable of cultivation. The tributaries of the Scioto, which arise in this region, are very rapid, highly charged with lime, and subject to great alternations, from the most rapid and violent torrents to the most perfect destitution of all moisture. On the east side of the valley the surface is not so high by 200 feet. It also rises less abruptly than on the west. Still, it is undulating, and affords fine grazing and arable farms. The water-courses, however, are not so numerous as they are on the opposite side of the river. Iron, coal and saliferous rock are found in this locality, which is bounded on the east by the burr-stone deposit. Out of the valley proper no ponds or stagnant waters are found, the vegetation is less luxuriant, and of a more durable and ligneous character then that found in the alluvions immediately bounding the Scioto. Between the low bottoms and the river hills sandy bluffs occasionally occur, composed principally of coarse gravel and sand, with a very thin vegetable mold, soon exhausted by cultivation, and when the soil becomes impoverished it is not easily renewed, especially as these bluffs are too high to be benefited by the spring floods, which annually inundate and enrich the low grounds. Upon these bluffs, elevated from ten to forty feet above the highest floods, are found those monuments of a race long since departed, but still exhibiting, by their works, the strongest proof of having been a populous, an industrious and a talented people. The soil west of the Scioto is good, containing a portion of sand, and possessing the characteristics of a calcareous deposit. Elevated from 400 to 600 feet above the valley, it descends toward the east, exposing the limestone, Waverly sandstone, and slaty argillaceous rock, which last underlies the valley proper. From this point the surface rises some 300 feet, changing its character and becoming a pure clay. Although more broken by hills and less suited to agriculture, it is rich in mineral wealth. In the whole western part of the county are valuable deposits of the best building stone, of beautiful drab and brown, receiving a perfect finish, and more valuable as building stone than more of the celebrated Waverly, or the Connecticut brown stone, being more durable. It was used in the suspension bridge piers at Cincinnati, and supplies the whole demand of that city for building and flagging. The Chicago Custom House was also built of stone taken from the quarries of Scioto and Adams counties.
The valley of the Scioto, from two to five miles in width, possesses a soil unsurpassed in fertility and durability by any other, being composed of the debris and washings of the uplands, with a large mixture of decayed vegetable matter deposited by the spring floods which annually inundate it.
The southern border of this locality, comprising the valley of the Ohio, differs but little from the alluvions of the Scioto, since the low bottoms of the former, which are frequently inundated, possess all the fertility and durability of the latter, while the high or "second bottoms," which are mostly argillaceous, are less productive, being destitute of that rich arenaceous deposit, which annually renews and ameliorates those less elevated. The table land of the region now under consideration is covered with all the varieties of the oak, except the highest points, which contain groves of pine. The slopes connecting the bottoms with the upland exhibit a general mixture of Western trees, including the locust, pawpaw, sugar tree, etc., while the sycamore, cottonwood, black walnut, mulberry, maple and elm occupy the lower portions of the valley. There is not much undergrowth, except in the low valley, which consists of a luxuriant production of annual plants, that are constantly decomposing and enriching the soil upon which they grow. The Ohio interval produces beech, hickory and maple, with sycamore and elm on the margin of the stream.
This timber has largely fallen before the woodman's ax. On the east side of the valley fine springs of soft, wholesome and pleasant water, like that of the Ohio River, above its junction with the Scioto, are found in abundance, free from iron or other minerals. The wells in their vicinity are of the same character, while the springs and well west partake of the character of the country in which they are situated, being, like the water of the Scioto, strongly impregnated with calcareous matter. The water of none of these localities is thought to be productive of disease, except it be some of the wells upon the alluvial region, the water of which is strongly impregnated with the taste and smell of decayed wood, which render it so very unpleasant that it is believe, in many cases, to be unwholesome. Half a mile east of Portsmouth are some mounds, and an elevation, of the same sand, comprising about two acres, including the embankments. This sandy elevation had a number of springs around its margin, some of which rise to the surface; others are found in three or four feet excavation-a thing unusual on the Ohio bottoms. The writer has a spring in his cellar from the same source (although he is located more than thirty rods from the embankment) which rises to within four feet of the surface. It is two feet deep, and occasionally disappears in very extreme dry weather, while the wells, as before stated, never sink more than six feet below the surface, and frequently run over the top.
Mineral and medicinal springs are numerous in this locality. Those of the east side of the valley contain salt and iron, petroleum or bituminous oil; and one deposits, for two or three rods from its origin, a substance as white as snow, supposed to be magnesia, but more probably sulphate of lime. The chalybeate springs hold iron in such minute divisions as to be well suited to those cases of excitable debility which frequently occur, and are often aggravated by any of the pharmacological forms of this tonic. These springs have been resorted to with much and decided benefit; they are generally situated in a mountain region, high, healthy, and among the furnaces, where novelty, exercise and amusement are not wanting. The springs of the western or limestone region are occasionally charged with sulphur, soda, magnesia, iron, and other salts. On the waters of Brush Creek, about four or five miles from the Scioto Valley, around the margin of an elevated portion of glady country, a number of medicinal springs are found, containing a variety of salts, and differing somewhat in character from each other. As these are situated in a region unsurpassed for romantic scenery, above miasmatic influence, and possessing the finest hunting and fishing ground in the State, they may, at no distant period, become a desirable resort for health and amusement.
On the west side of the valley, and near the Ohio, is a locality supplied with pyrites, or sulphuret of iron, in large masses, and in such abundance as once to have induced preparations for the manufacture of copperas. The sheltered rocks in this vicinity are so thickly coated with sulphate of iron as to be easily collected for domestic use.
Portsmouth, and the plain on which it is situated, is elevated about 408 feet above the Atlantic, rising toward the north some thirty-five feet. The highest hills on the west, are nearly 900 or 1,000 feet, and those of the east about 600 or 700 above the same level. A range of high hills, arising immediately from the southern shores of the Ohio, traverse the whole southern border of this locality, falling from east to west about twenty feet, having an average elevation of about 400 feet above low water in the Ohio.
The county is well watered. Living streams traverse every section of the county, and probably for stock purposes few counties are its superior in the State. The Scioto flows in a generally southern course through the county, mingling its waters with the Ohio at Portsmouth. The river divides the county nearly in equal parts, east and west. On the east side the principal stream is the Little Scioto and its main branches, Brushy and Rocky forks. The latter rises in Jackson County, enters Madison Township in the northeast, runs nearly due south on the east side of that township, while Brushy Fork rises in Scioto Township, Pike County, and flows in a southerly and southeasterly course on the west side of the same township, then along its southern border and unites with Rocky Fork, the two forming the Little Scioto River, which in a general southwesterly course unites its waters with the Ohio, near Sciotoville, in Porter Township. It gives a fine water supply to Madison, Harrison and Porter townships, including numerous small tributaries which flow into it and its branches.
Pine River and its principal branch, Hale's Creek, with also smaller streams uniting their waters with it, passes through Bloom, Vernon, Greene and the southern portion of Porter, emptying into the Ohio near Wheelersburg. The stream runs in all directions, entering from Lawrence County into Bloom Township from two points, then taking a general southerly course through the east side of Vernon Township passes into Lawrence County, and thence on the southeast side of Greene and flows northwest to its mouth, as above stated. With numerous creeks and springs, the above constitutes the water resources of the east side of the Scioto River. On the west the principal streams are Brush Creek, Pond's Run, Turkey Creek, Bear Creek, a tributary of Brush Creek, and the south branch of the latter stream. Brush Creek comes in from the northwest and west, unites its south fork and flows in a generally easterly course through the center of the county and empties into the Scioto River. Its principal branch on the south is Bear Creek. Pond Creek rises in Union Township, runs northeast, east and southeast, and also flows into the Scioto River some four miles below the mouth of Brush Creek, and with the latter stream gives a good and liberal water supply to Brush Creek, Union and Rush townships. Washington Township has Cary's Run, a small stream which rises within its border, and in a southeasterly course unites its waters with the Ohio. Turkey Creek is a crooked stream rising in the western part of Niles Township, and waters its northern and eastern parts, while Pond Run and Twin Creek, flowing into the Ohio, supply the western and southern part of the township, the southwestern township of the county. Bear Creek, a small stream, rises in the west part of Morgan Township, flows eastwardly and empties into the Scioto River.
As before remarked, in the topography of the county, coal and iron ore are found in abundant quantity on the east side of the Scioto River. On the west side, although noted for its immense quarries of freestone and other building stone, there has never been found any iron ore or coal that amounted to anything. Several discoveries have been now and then announced, but have proved of little value as yet.
The close proximity of coal and iron ore to the Ohio River caused these deposits of the mineral wealth of Scioto County to receive earlier attention than in other sections where the means of transportation were few, and those limited to wagons, mules and horses. The Ohio Canal, which was commenced in 1825 and finished in 1832, also gave extra transportation facilities, and gave an impetus to the county in its material prosperity which lasted for many years. Thus the iron, coal and freestone gave wealth and employment, and the county increased quite rapidly in population. The mining and shipment of these valuable accessories of wealth caused Scioto County to be considered a favored locality. The stone quarries in the west did not command so much attention as the coal and iron of the eastern section, and it was not long before the smoke of the furnaces showed that this industry was becoming a leading one. Six furnaces were in blast as early as 1840. They were the Junior, Scioto, Clinton, Bloom, Franklin and Ohio. The starting of these furnaces added materially to the population on the county.
It was also found from the increased stock and agricultural productions coming to market and being shipped by both canal and river, that the farming population had also materially increased. There was something peculiarly gratifying in this gain. It was the fact that the rural population increased more rapidly then the towns, or in other words that which would give solidly to the growth of a city was a substantial country behind it. Thus it is found that the largest town in the county, Portsmouth, had at the close of that decade, 1850, but a population of 3,867, the county in all had a population 18,428, of which two-thirds were engaged in tilling the soil and mining. Here was something to sustain the city, saying nothing about its large and increasing manufacturing interests, which, like the agricultural, was a producing as well as a consuming population. The Scioto Furnaces is the oldest, Bloom and Ohio following. The best business years were 1844-'45, there being six furnaces in blast, as above names. Those were flush times in the furnace business. There has always been a fair amount of business in this line, but 1883 and many previous years do not represent as much in iron manufactures as those earlier, yet its general increase in manufacture is evident.
The main bed of Scioto County commences about fourteen miles above Portsmouth, near the Ohio River, where the ore is seen cropping out on the tops and sides of the hills and was first brought into use in 1828. The most important part of this mineral region when first discovered extended from the mouth of the Scioto to Ice Creek, a point between Burlington and Hanging Rock. It commences with the west bed of iron ore, resting on a fine-grain sandstone, which underlies it all this region, extending far up the Scioto to Waverly and bearing off northeasterly through the counties of Fairfield and Licking.
These several deposits of iron ores, extending to six or more distinct beds, lie at an inclinations of about thirty feet to the mile, dipping to the east and southeast, cropping out at successive but irregular intervals on the surface of the highest hills, a few miles back from the river, gradually sinking deeper and finally lost at the base of the hills, and disappearing beneath the beds of streams. Ore bed No. 1 is found at the Franklin Furnace, sixteen miles above Portsmouth, in this (Scioto) county. It rests on the main or fine-grain sand rock, about one hundred feet above the bed of the Ohio River. It is a porous, silicious ore, and resembles in external appearance the "bog ore." A finer ore being found this is not much used; its thickness was fully two feet.
Reposing on this bed of ore is found a deposit of sand-rock, sixty feet in thickness, which is nearly white, fine grain and valuable in constructing furnace hearths as it stands heat in a remarkable manner. Resting on this sand- rock is a vein of bituminous coal between two and three feet thick. The roof of the coal-bed is shale, and on top of that a coarse-grain sand-rock. On this lies iron ore-bed No. 2, which is also a silicious ore, but more compact and heavier than No. 1. This bed crosses the river into Kentucky and its ore was used largely at the Darlington Furnace, in that State, four miles west of the Franklin Furnace. The roof of this bed of ore, which is some twenty inches thick, is a coarse-grained silicious sand-rock, and grows coarser as you reach the summit of the hills. Resting on this is a deposit of limestone, which lies crumbled in the surface, but hard and compact as the strata descends, and in some places, a few miles further east, is from eight to ten feet in thickness and conglomerate.
Ore No. 3, called "block ore," is nearly continuous, is from one to three feet thick, and sometimes being in layers, the upper layer being the thinnest. It is a rich calcareous ore, yielding fifty per cent of pure iron. When dug and exposed to the atmosphere it separates into thin concentric layers, and when roasted it assumes a bright red tint in color. This deposit crowns the summit of the hills in the vicinity of the Franklin Furnace, coming up to the surface a few miles northwesterly, and disappears or runs out as we approach within a few miles of the Scioto River, while to the east and south it is found gradually descending the base of the hills as high up the Ohio River as Storm Creek, in Lawrence County. It is believed that this ore extends in a northeasterly direction as far as the limits of the coal measure. No. 4 is a thin bed of "kidney ore" in concentric masses, lying from a few inches to a few feet above the block ore in a bed of argillaceous shale. No. 5. This bed of ore comes to the surface and crowns the hills about three miles southeast of the Franklin Furnace, and rests immediately on the lime-rock a few miles further east. When it crops out, however, it reposes on a silicious rock resembling that found in Jackson County. No. 6 is a calcareous ore and needs no addition of lime in fluxing. The bed is about three feet in thickness and yields only about twenty to twenty-five feet per cent of iron, and is the last of the series of ore found on the Ohio side of the river.
The coal measure which extends through the whole eastern part of Scioto County has been thoroughly prospected. The coal has proved upon deep mining to be of a superior quality, and has now, like iron, been mined for nearly a half century. The supply of both iron and coal is simply inexhaustible.
The coal basin in Ohio in bounded on the west by a continuous but irregular line running from the Ohio River in Scioto County, to the Pennsylvania line near Sharon, within a line running from that place to Ravenna, Akron, Wooster, Dover, Brownsville, Logan and Hanging Rock. The general course is southwesterly from the northern boundary of Mahoning County to the interior of Licking County, with the exception of two well-defined narrow spurs extending into Geauga and Medina counties. From the southern part of Licking County it passes near the line between Fairfield and Perry counties, with a deep indentation at the Hocking River Valley extending to the west line of Athens County; thence westward and southwest to include the southeast part of Hocking County, three-fourths of Vinton, nearly all of Jackson, and the eastern part of Scioto County.
In describing the iron ore deposit of Scioto County it was stated that bed No. 1 rested on a fine-grained sandstone. This rock forms the surface of a very extensive deposit, underlying the iron ore and the coarser sand-rock and coal. As this rock descends deeper into the earth it becomes more argillaceous; and at the depth of 100 feet changes, or rather rests on a bed of clay slate, of a light dove-color, decomposing when exposed to the weather. It is believed that underlying this rock, at a depth of some 340 feet, there is a bed of coal twelve feet in thickness. A shaft was sunk near the mouth of Munn's Creek, four miles above Portsmouth, between eight and nine feet in diameter and 150 feet deep, in 1833, but from some cause the work was stopped.
On the west side of the Scioto, near its mouth, the upper bed of this fine sandstone has been opened quite extensively. It is a splendid building stone and has been quite largely shipped to other points.
As will be seen by the above act, Scioto County was somewhat larger than at this time, her territory taking in a part of the present county of Lawrence. The first change in her boundary line was made the next year (1804), between Scioto and Gallia. The act passed making this change was as follows:
Between Scioto and Gallia Counties.
Scioto remained in tact for a number of years, and improved rapidly, but in 1815 a portion of her territory was taken, and in connection with some from the county of Gallia, a new county was established in the above last mentioned year, but did not assume its independence until 1817, and given the name of Lawrence. The act establishing the metes and bounds of Lawrence County is here given, showing what portion of her territory Scioto County lost.
An Act to Attach Part of the County of Lawrence to the County of Scioto. "Be it enacted, etc., That all that part of the county of Lawrence that lies in the townships numbers 3 and 4, in the nineteenth range of said county, be, and the same is, hereby attached to the county of Scioto; and all justices of the peace within that part of the county of Lawrence, so to be attached to the county of Scioto shall continue to exercise the duties of their office until their time of office expires; and all suits or actions, whether of a civil or criminal nature, which may have been or shall be commenced previous to the taking effect of this act, shall be prosecuted to final judgment and execution in the county of Lawrence and the sheriff, coroner and constables of said county shall execute all such process as shall be necessary to carry into effect such suits, prosecutions and judgments; and the collector of taxes shall collect all such taxes as shall have been levied and unpaid within that part of Lawrence County previous to the taking effect of this act. This act to be in from and after the first day of March next. [Passed January 20, 1818]."
A rest of eight years and then another slight change was made by an act of the General Assembly, which was as follows:
"Be it enacted, etc., That all that part of Lawrence County which lies within the following bounds be, and the same is, hereby attached and made a part of the county of Scioto, to-wit: Beginning at the northeast corner of section number 29, in township number 4, or range number 18, running south to the southeast corner of section number 5, in township number 3, of range number 18; thence west to the southwest corner of section number 6, in the township and range aforesaid. This act to take effect and be in force from and after the first day of March next. [Passed Jan. 31, 1826.]"
These were the principal territorial changes made and are placed together for reference.
The records of Scioto County have been lost from its organization in 1803 to 1811 inclusive. This is a serious loss, but seems not to have been so considered, for no thorough search, as far as can be ascertained, has ever been made for them, and it is probably now too late. In those nine years the county was organized, the first foundation laid for her further superstructure, townships formed and boundaries given, and all this has been lost for all time. It makes a sad break in the history of the county that no surmises or patchwork will overcome, and in history theory is not a suitable substitute for an explicit array of facts. The officials who guided the young municipality on its upward and onward coarse is in a measure a subject of tradition. Perhaps among the debris found in the court-house, among the thousands of books and papers, the official roster of the county might be found, their names being incidentally connected with some paper. Thus John Clark is found to have been Sheriff in 1808 and 1809, by incidentally transferring a judgment upon a mortgage suit. Whether he was Sheriff for more than one term and before or after that is not found. The time and expense required to go through these records of the different departments would be too long for a work of this kind, with the uncertainty, even after months of exhaustive research, of finding the information sought.
The first session of the county commissioners of Scioto County of which there is any record is Aug. 9, 1803. Undoubtedly there was a May session, for in the August term the township of Union was referred to, and the act establishing the county was to take effect May 1, 1803. Who the county commissioners were is probably the only to be had from the lost records, as a long search for them has proved unavailing. There is found that the court was held at the house or tavern of John Collins. Judge Collins put up a house that he used as a tavern and also kept a grocery store, and was the first hotel-keeper in the county, one of the first merchants, if not the first, the first Associate Judge appointed of the three, and both County Commissioners Court and Common Pleas Court were held at his house. This was in Alexandria.
The first session of the Commissioners Court in May was given to laying off the county into townships and getting the working machinery of the court in order.
Wm. Russell was the first Clerk and Recorder in 1803, James Munn the first Coroner, and Robert Lucas the first Surveyor. It was stated that John Russell was the first Surveyor and Wm. Curran next, and then Robert Lucas. The records show Lucas appointed in August, 1803, and surveyed the first road petitioned for. There were surveyors no doubt, but could not have been county surveyors before Lucas.
All these offices seem to have been filled at the May session of the county commissioners, and at the August term, beyond the reception of a petition for a road, the records are silent or lost.
The first Court of Common Pleas, in 1803, was composed as follows: Presiding Judge, Wyllies Silliman; Associate Judges, John Collins, Joseph Lucas and Thomas William Sweeney. The court was held in August, and, as above stated, at the house of Judge Collins, in Alexandria. The first road laid out was from Edward's Villa, petitioned for by Colonel John Edwards and sundry persons, to the Salt Lick. Robert Lucas did the surveying. The petition was presented Aug. 9, 1803, but the road was not surveyed until the spring of 1804, and report made July term, 1804.
The first free Negroes reported in the county were Priscilla Johnson, who, having purchased her freedom from her master in Kentucky in 1799, was registered as a free person of color, and her three children-Nellie, Permelia and Harriett. This was in 1804, and the same year, on July 7, Jacob Lee was recorded as a free person of color and resident of Scioto County. Jesse Williams, of Kentucky, was the owner of the slave girl set free.
There was a slight change in the Court of Common Pleas in 1805. That year Judge Robert F. Slaughter was Presiding Judge, and Samuel Reed was Associate in place of Thos. Wm. Sweeney, the other associates first spoken of still holding. The most important item at that early day was the gift of Henry Massie to the county of Scioto of certain inlots and out-lots in the town of Portsmouth, for the express purpose of erecting county buildings-a court-house and jail. The gift was made July 10, 1807, of thirty-one in-lots and seventeen out-lots, and in 1809 of an additional in-lot, number 31. This last was specified for the building of a court-house and for no other purpose. Thomas Parker, the founder of Alexandria, the first town in Scioto County, and the first that died, gave also liberally to that now "city of the past" for school and other purposes. In August, 1807, he gave in-lot number 86 toward the erection of a school-house, and had previous to that given other lots for the same purpose, and a school was taught in 1800 in a log school-house, the lot for which was donated by Mr. Parker. There was a school taught in the French Grant in 1803 or 1804, and the first west of the Scioto River, excepting at Alexandria, was in 1809-'10. This was in what is now Rush Township, and was a subscription school, and the scholars came to it from three and four miles around. In the same section John Wycoff's was the first death remembered. He died in 1805, and was buried in Rush Township, not far from where the old log school-house was subsequently erected. At the time of the trouble with General, afterward Governor, Robert Lucas, who defied for a time the civil authorities of the county and refused to be arrested, the sheriff, clerk and coroner resigned their officers, an Elijah Glover was made Sheriff; John R. Turner, Clerk, and Uriah Barber, Coroner. The General was arrested by the new officials and civil law was established.
Little of moment transpired during the first and even the second decade of the county's existence, unless can be called the great increase of population in 1816. That year was the best of any for an increase of population by immigration of any single year in the first quarter of a century of its existence.
The county, as before remarked, was divided into townships in 1810. There were ten townships in the county, as follows: Seal, Upper, Lick, Greene, Union, Madison, Niles, Jefferson, Franklin and Wayne. These remained as the municipal divisions of the county until Aug. 25, 1812, when Bloom Township was organized out of portions of Madison, Greene and Lick townships. A bounty for wolf scalps was given as early as 1812, if not before, $2 being allowed for grown wolves and $1 for those under six months. In this connection it is said that a plan of the farmers and hunters who came upon an old wolf with a litter of young ones, was to shoot the old wolf, and if the others were too young they were kept until they passed their six months in a pen and then killed and the $2 realized.
This may or may not be true, but as wolf scalps at that day were cash, and good as cash to pay taxes with, a month or two keeping a few cubs by which their value was doubled is not improbable. At a later day this premium was reduced one-half.
The county commissioners in 1812 received $1.75 a day for their services. John H. Thornton received a deed of in-lot number 31 for digging a well in the town of Portsmouth by order of the county commissioners-the well being a public one.
Sept. 23, 1812, a slight change was made between Jefferson and Madison townships; the persons living on the Rocky Fork of the Little Scioto River, within the township of Jefferson, were attached to Madison Township. This remained in that shape until Jan. 1, 1814, when the county commissioners made the following order:
"Ordered, That all the part of Jefferson Township included in the following bounds be attached to Madison Township: Beginning at the northwest corner of section 30, township 4, range 20; thence west one mile; thence north three miles; thence east one mile to the original township line."
Changes were made, roads laid out, and assessors and collectors of the different townships appointed, together with road supervisors and viewers. This was the principal business which engaged the attention of the county commissioners for several years; in fact, taxation was light, and business was not rushing. A petition for a new township to be made out of Union and Niles came before the commissioners Aug. 1, 1814, at the regular term, and was granted. The new township was called Washington.
Upper Township disappeared from the list of municipalities of Scioto County under the following order, excepting that which in 1817 became a part of Lawrence County:
"Ordered, That all the part of Upper Township included in the following bounds be attached to the township of Greene, to wit: Beginning at the upper corner of Greene, on the river; thence up the river to the upper corner of the French Grant; thence with the upper line of the Grant to the upper back corner; thence with the back line of the grant to the line of Greene Township; thence with the line of Greene to the place of beginning." Dec. 16, 1814.
The remainder of Upper and Franklin and Lick townships not taken in Bloom was given to Lawrence County on its organization in 1815.
At the same date Porter Township was organized, and its territory taken from Wayne and Greene. The next move was to dispose of Seal Township, and this was done in the year 1815, under the following order of the county commissioners:
"Ordered, That that part of Seal Township which lies west of the Scioto River be attached to Union Township, and that part of Seal Township east of the river be attached to Jefferson Township." This order was made April 5, 1815.
It was this year, 1815, that General Kendall commenced the erection, at the mouth of Brush Creek, of a flouring mill, a couple of saw-mills, and finally a boat yard. He carried on business extensively, and on completion of his mills took in a partner by the name of Head. They continued in business until 1824,- when they failed for quite a large amount. Boat-building ceased and the mills only did custom work. The first boat the firm built was called the Scioto, but it proved of little value. The second, called the Belvidere, was a success. This steamboat plied many years on the Ohio River. The first ferry started across the Scioto River at Portsmouth was by David Gharky, in 1816. A ferry had been in operation for several years at Alexandria, but Gharky had the first at Portsmouth. His cabinet shop was also used as a court-house for a year or two, until the first court-house was built in 1816. Gharky removed from Alexandria to Portsmouth in 1814, and took a prominent position in the new town.
The walls of the court-house above spoken of were completed and accepted by the county commissioners at their August session, 1815, John Young, contractor. The next spring the inside carpenter work was let to John Young for $1,350, March 4, 1816, and the lath and plastering and whitewalling to Wm. Pearson, for $275. It was completed that year and accepted by the commissioners Jan. 13, 1817, at the January session.
The cost of the court-house was, ready for inside work, $2,000; inside work, $1,350; lath, plastering, etc., $275; total cost, $3,625.
The above court-house was built on Market street, between Front and Second, as now known, but at that time Front was known as Water street, and Second was First street.
April 27, 1815, $24 was paid to one person for twelve wolf scalps. In 1816 Wm. Kendall was appointed County Treasurer, and his first year's salary showed the amount of $54.25 within a fraction.
David Gharky started his spinning factory in 1818. It went by horse-power. Some four years after he sold out, and the mill was taken to Wheelersburg, and a wool carding machine started.
Very little change occurred in the county until 1818, when Vernon Township was formed, and then in 18120, when Brush Creek Township was organized, making in the latter year eleven townships, named Jefferson, Niles, Union, Madison, Greene, Wayne, Bloom, Porter, Washington, Vernon, and Brush Creek.
For a year or two expenses exceeded by a small amount the income of the county, notwithstanding salaries were low. The issue of county warrants without money to redeem suggested the idea of paying interest on them at six per cent. This was continued from June, 1817, to June, 1820, when the order allowing interest was rescinded, the county being able to meet its expenses. The building of the court-house was the principal cause of running behind. The county, however, again ran behind in 1821, the expenditures being $1,761.34 ½, and the receipts $1,273.47 ¼; excess of expenditures, $487.87 ¼. In 1822 the finances were in a better condition, and the balance sheet stood: Receipts, $1,526.43 ¼; expenditures, $1.115.49 ½; excess of receipts, $410.93 ¾.
These receipts and expenditures compared with those of 1882, seem ridiculously small, the latter year being over $141,000.
The expenditures and receipts of 1824 showed a surplus of $65.57 ¾ cents.
The cutting down of the premium on wolf scalps to $1 for full-grown, and 50 cents for cubs, which had been done, did not appear to work well, and at the June session, 1882, the commissioners, as their order reads, "to encourage the killing of wolves," doubled the bounty then being given, and offered $2 for scalps of full-grown wolves and $1 for those under six months old. This bounty seemed to have the desired effect for the next few years. Over sixty were killed in 1823, to June of that year; the next June, forty-seven; in 1825, forty; in 1826, forty; in 1827, twenty-one; and in 1828, twenty-four wolves were killed in Scioto County, and the commissioners paid for the above number of scalps brought in. This showed that a pretty good field for wolves was right here in Scioto County. After the year 1828, they fell off in number, but now and then a wolf was killed for several years later.
The county commissioners refused to let the court-house for church, singing schools, etc., unless the persons or society using the same should clean it out after using it, and order it locked up, and when let must be with the understanding that it would have been extremely angered at the way it had been used. The jailor was allowed 25 cents a day for boarding prisoners. This was the price for some twenty years. William Kendall made a map of the county in 1825, and then separate maps of the townships for the latter; he received $3 each, and for the plats of Portsmouth, Alexandria, Lucasville, Concord (now known as Wheelersburg), $2 each. A book was purchased Dec. 3, 1823, to enter therein the boundary of each township in the county, and their changes. This was done and the entry completed March 2, 1824. Each boundary of the several townships was then copied and delivered to the township at that in existence. That book cannot at this day be found among the court records of Scioto County. Very few of the townships have their official copy, and in many cases these copies were never placed upon record by the township clerks, but were laid away and lost. It is a serious drawback to a correct history of a county to have the records lost and destroyed, and Scioto County in this respect has been truly unfortunate. Brush Creek boundary line was changed between it and Union, June 5, 1822.
The part of Lawrence County which was attached to Scioto County by act of Legislature, passed Jan. 31, 1826, was attached to Bloom Township.
The boundary between Brush Creek and Morgan Township was surveyed by William Kendall in December, 1825.
The first forge built in the county was by Francis Valodin and Samuel B. Burt in 1826. It was in use several years.
Clay Township was organized in 1826.
The Ohio River opposite Portsmouth was once frozen over so hard that a man crossed over on horseback on the ice. This was Jan. 3, 1827.
If anybody wanted to donate land for new county buildings, the county commissioners notified them that it would be accepted, and Samuel O. Tracy was ordered to receive all donations.
There were fifteen wolves returned as killed in 1829, nine in 1830, and twelve in 1831, and from that on the wolves became gradually less until they became entirely extinct.
In 1830 lumber, of white pine, was purchased by the county at $5.50 per thousand, and shingles at $1.50 per thousand. This was for 30,000 feet of lumber and 20,000 shingles. These prices are slightly different from those of 1883.
The price of lumber perhaps at that day varied little from other business interests. The merchant found goods as different in price and in quality and texture as the lumber dealer and the lawyers and doctors. There were five lawyers in Portsmouth in 1830, and eight physicians. The income of these professional gentlemen may not be uninteresting at this day. The lawyers were N. K. Clough, with an income of $500; Samuel M. Tracy, $500; Charles O. Tracy, $300; Edward Hamilton, $300, and William V. Peck, $300.
The physicians' incomes were: N. W. Andrews, Portsmouth, $600; G. S. B. Hemstead, Portsmouth, Allan Farquhar, Union Township, $500; Joseph Dewey, Porter Township, $600; William Belknap, Greene Township, $300; Hiram Ramson, $300; Thomas Morris, $400, and Abner Wood, $4
These professions were taxed on their incomes: $600, paid $4.00 per year tax; $400, $2.66 2/3, and $300, $2.42 per year. The total taxation on the duplicate of 1830 was $5,248.92.
The Scioto County Bible Society was organized.
Scioto County made fair progress up to 1830, that is, her ratio of increase of population and increase of material wealth was equal to the average gain of the State, and therefore there was no cause for complaint. But that which gave the greatest impetus to immigration was the Ohio Canal, which had been commenced at Cleveland in 1825. In 1829 work was commenced at Portsmouth and the city, as well as the county, took new life. Corn up to that time had been purchased at 10 cents a bushel, for there was little demand beyond home consumption. Eggs could be purchased for 4 and 5 cents a dozen, and when they got up to 7 it was thought a high price and it was called famine prices. The writer of this read a communication from an unfortunate person, who claimed, in 1834, after the canal was finished, that living was getting entirely too expensive. This person complained of eggs being 8 to 10 cents a dozen and butter from 12 ½ to 15 cents per pound, and said, in the gold old times eggs were 4 or 5 cents a dozen and never over 6, while butter was from 8 to 10 cents per pound and other articles he claimed in proportion had risen 50 to 100 per cent. Corn had actually got up to 20 cents. Yes, living was costing nearly double. But under the inspiration of a more active demand, and prospects of cheaper and more rapid transportation, Scioto County farmers felt encouraged to enlarge their field of operation and production received a new impulse. The canal was finished in 1832, and at one time Portsmouth was the fourth port on the line of the canal in receipt of toll.
Harrison Township was organized March 6, 1832, being taken from part of the townships of Porter, Greene and Madison. June 7, 1832, however, some considerable changes were made, not in a great area, but in adding to and taking from adjoining townships. These changes will be found in full in the history of Harrison Township. Up to 1826 thirteen townships had been organized, and with the new township of Harrison fourteen. Their names were Bloom, Brush Creek, Clay, Greene, Harrison, Jefferson, Madison, Morgan, Niles, Porter, Union, Vernon, Washington and Wayne.
The opening of the canal caused an increase of business, the most important of which was the starting of furnaces and the mining of coal and iron ore, the eastern side of the county being rich in these minerals, if coal can be called a mineral. It took some capital to do this, and while it also cause an increase of population, in the latter case, it was not enough to excite comment. In fact local labor seemed to be abundant enough for the work in hand. The population in 1830 was 8,740, a gain of 3,000, lacking ten, over the population of 1820, while that of 1840 was 11,192, a gain of 2,452 over 1830. In 1836 there were five furnaces in blast in Scioto County: Scioto, Franklin, Junior, Bloom and Clinton.
Reference was made a page or two back of the fact that owners of lots in Portsmouth who wanted to donate them to the country for the purpose of building a court-house could do so, and they would be accepted, and probably no questions asked. Mr. Henry Brush is the only person of record who responded to this appeal. He donated lot No. 380, the site of the present court-house, in 1833, for that purpose. The court-house stands on the lot and it was erected in 1835- '36, that is, the front end of it, and addition in the rear having been completed in 1882. The commissioners advertised for bids in the summer of 1835, and William Kendall was the successful bidder, at the sum of $12,650. The contract was signed Sept. 26, 1835. The building still stands after nearly half a century of time, a monument of the solid, honest work of the contractor. It was a substantial and undoubtedly was also looked upon as a fine building, but with the addition it is not considered a model of architecture at this day.
At the session of the General Assembly held in the winter of 1837-'38 the Legislature passed an act authorizing counties and towns to subscribe to the capital stock of turnpike roads. The date of this act was March 26, 1838. Under this act meetings were called and a turnpike fever swept over the State. Turnpike roads in the county of Scioto were inaugurated by numerous turnpike companies, and the counties north united with Scioto in securing a turnpike to Columbus, the State capital. Ross County subscribed $50,000, Pike $20,000, and Scioto, $30,000. The Columbus & Portsmouth Turnpike Company was organized and commenced work in 1838, in Scioto County. The same style of company was organized in Pike County, in Piketon, July 4, 1839. The work in Scioto County at first dragged, and another public meeting was called at Portsmouth, June 22, 1839, and larger subscription made. It was some years after before these roads were made, and for many years they were toll roads, but the last was purchased by the county some ten years ago and now roads and bridges are free. There was no money lost by the people of Scioto County in building turnpikes.
Steamboat navigation of the Scioto River was a pet scheme with steamboat men for many years. The record of early years gives no account of any traffic on the river until the winter of 1847-'48. The steamboats built by Kendall & Head, about 1818, came down the Scioto from about the mouth of Brush Creek, but probably they received their boilers, etc., at Portsmouth. The first steamboat, America, went up the river in the winter above mentioned as far as Waverly. It made a prosperous trip and was in the trade during the high water; some three round trips were made. In December, 1848, a small steamer had been built to run up the Scioto, and the experimental trip was made Dec. 12, 1848. She left her moorings and was watched until she was out of sight, by quite a large number of people. She plowed her way gracefully and successfully against the current, and Piketon gave her an ovation. Her name was The Relief. She went up as far as the Feeder Dam, and Salt Creek, and grounded once, but slightly. Then the handsome little steamboat, the John B. Gordon, became the regular Scioto River packet, made regular trips, commencing Feb. 1, 1849, and continued until June. She was owned by the Scioto Valley Steamboat Co., and cost $3,500. Not much more in the steamboat business can be found of record. Railroads and railroad bridges soon put a stop to much further effort, and, although the Scioto is a free highway, her placid bosom has not of late years been disturbed or her waters used for navigation purposes. The last steamer that attempted to do a paying business on the river was a very pretty little craft called the Piketon Belle. She was launched Oct. 26, 1860, and drew only twenty-two inches; was in the trade in 1861, and was built and owned at Piketon. She continued her trips until May 10, 1861.
The first bridge which spanned the Scioto River in Scioto County was in the year 1849. This bridge was 666 feet long, resting upon three stone piers, and was twenty feet in the clear. A stone abutment was on the east end, and on the west end a wooden one and trestle reaching to high ground. The first team crossed Aug. 13, 1849. It was located near the mouth of the river. The next bridge was to take the place of the structure above described, and a contract was entered into in October, 1855, to put up a bridge at the cost of $25,000. It was to be one foot wider and six feet higher than the old bridge. A suspension bridge was completed across the Scioto just above the old bridge in January, 1859. In November it fell in, or a portion of it, and $6,000 was raised to repair it. It was owned by Charles Davis. The bridge was finally purchased by the county, of George Davis, in 1873, for the sum of $45,000 in yearly payments, commencing July 1, 1875. That is, $10,000 was to be paid July 1 of the years 1875, 1876, and 1877, and $15,000 July 1st, 1878, the bonds to draw six per cent interest. The bridge was then made free from July 1, 1873. A good bridge was built across the river at Lucasville, in 1878, at a cost of $10,000, bonds being issued for its payment. The bridge is in good order. Thus with free turnpikes and free bridges, the people of Scioto County have little cause for complaint.
A portion of Greene Township was attached to Porter, being the farm of William Montgomery, Dec. 7, 1836.
Another change took place March 2, 1840, between Harrison and Madison townships, the former being slightly enlarged.
March 1, 1841, that part of the French Grant in Vernon Township was attached to Greene.
The boundary of Washington Township was so changed, Dec. 6, 1842, as to make the canal at its east line and to absorb the territory lying east of the old mouth of the Scioto River. This had been a portion of Wayne Township.
Greene Township, by a slight change June 10, 1843, was enlarged and Porter diminished to the same extent.
Section 12 in Jefferson Township was attached to Madison, June 8, 1848, and June 3, 1862, a portion of Harrison Township was also added to Madison.
Rush Township was organized June 3, 1867, her territory being taken entirely from Union Township. It lies on the Scioto River, east of Union and Brush Creek Townships, but west of the above named river.
June 7, 1861, sections 31 and 32 were taken from Porter Township and attached to Harrison.
The first time the county was divided into assessor districts was in 1846, three districts being made, but was changed June 8, 1852, into four districts. All west of the Scioto River was made one district and called No. 1, Jno. B. Doods, Assessor; Wayne Township, No. 2, Nathan L. Jones, Assessor; Clay, Jefferson, Madison and Harrison, No. 3, Stewart Slavens, Assessor, and Porter, Greene, Vernon and Bloom No. 4, Josiah Merritt, Assessor.
The county commissioners made the following of record:
Ordered, That the county be districted for the valuation of real property in districts as follows: Nile Township shall comprise District No. 1; Washington, No. 2; Union, No. 3; Morgan, No. 4; Brush Creek, No. 5; Wayne Township and city of Portsmouth, No. 6; Clay, No. 7; Jefferson, No. 8; Porter, No. 9; Greene, No. 10; Madison, No. 11; Bloom, No. 12; Vernon, No. 13; and Harrison, No. 14; and that the auditor give notice by advertisement to the qualified electors of Scioto County to elect one assessor for each district at the annual election in October next, to assess all real property according to its true value in money according to law, June 10, 1858.