Adams County, Ohio History
Jefferson Township, named for President Jefferson, was organized in 1806 from territory formerly included in Iron Ridge Township. Its boundaries as then defined were: beginning at the mouth of Beasley's Fork; thence up Brush Creek to the mouth of Lick Fork; thence east to the Scioto County line; thence south along said line to the northeast corner of Green Township; thence west along the north line of said township to the place of beginning.
It is the largest township, both in area and population, in the county. It contains 50,450 acres of land and has a voting population of over one thousand . It is now divided into four voting precincts: Wamsleyville, Cedar Mills, Lynx and Churn Creek.
The township lies in the shale and Waverly sandstone region, and is rough and hilly, and in places mountainous. Greenbriar Mountain in the south central part of the township is one of the high points in the county. A lonely tree on top of this knob can be seen on a clear day from the Odd Fellows' Cemetery at West Union, a distance of nearly ten miles. The highest point in the township is a slate and sandstone knob in the extreme southeastern part of the township, about two miles east of the Geodetic Station; it is nearly 1,200 feet above sea level. From its summit, Portsmouth, West Union and all the elevated points in the county can be seen. There are several other knobs almost as lofty as this in the township. These knobs are capped with sandstone and fringed about with pine, cedar and chestnut trees.
The soil in the valleys is very fertile, producing bountiful crops of corn, wheat, oats, clover, timothy and tobacco. This latter has become a staple crop in Jefferson Township, many of the hillsides on which the accumulation of decaying vegetation has gathered for centuries, where sheltered from the winds, producing a fine quality of white burley leaf. Upon the discovery of this fact, a great influx of population to this region, from the burley tobacco districts of Brown and Clermont Counties, took place in the period from 1875 to 1885. The "coon hunter, the ginseng digger and the bark peeler" have given place to intelligent and industrious husbandmen, whose neat farms and comfortable homes rank with those in the more fertile regions of the county. There is not a more picturesque region nor a happier, more comfortable class of people, in what constitutes real happiness and comfort, than Blue Creek Valley and its denizens.
It is not possible now to learn who was the first white inhabitant of this region. It was the hunter's paradise: buffaloes, elks, deer, bears, wild turkeys and other game being found in great abundance. And the streams, whose waters are so soft, so clear and sparkling, redeemed with the finest bass and pickerel. It was to this region then that the more daring hunters came and made their abode before the husbandman seeking a farm built his cabin and cleared away the forests. Among the first settlers were James and Joseph Williams. They came about 1796, and James Williams erected a cabin on the east side of the Ohio Brush Creek near where the Cedar Mills Pike crosses that stream, or about sixteen rods above the crossing of the old Cincinnati and Portsmouth Road.
Isaac Wamsley Senior about this date settled a little further down the creek in the vicinity of the Old Forge Dam.
Then Jonathan Waite settled on the Peter Wycoff farm, and Philip Lewis built a cabin near the mouth of Blue Creek. Among the early settlers may be mentioned Jesse Edwards, John Newman, Lazalel Swin, David Newman, John Prather, John Beckman, George Sample, at the mouth of Soldier's Run, and Thomas Lewis.
William Lewis, a son of Philip Lewis, in writing of the early settlers in Jefferson Township in 1879 wrote:
My father, Philip Lewis, came to Jefferson Township in 1797 [the land records show that he was here in 1796], and settled on Blue Creek near where it empties into Scioto Brush Creek. He built a saw and grist mill the same year. James and Joseph Williams were here when father came. They had come the year before. They were squatters, followed hunting and lived in shanties without floors. Old man Foster, also, was a squatter and settled where Wash. McGinn now lives. Jesse Edwards, who killed the big bear, came the same year father did. He was a Revolutionary soldier and lived where David Collings now does. He died at the age of 110 years.
The bear referred to was killed on our place on an ash tree that stood on the left of the run as you go up it, right opposite where Clark Compton lives. It weighed something over three hundred pounds.
In the old cemetery at Moore's Chapel are buried many of the pioneers of that portion of the township. Few of them have gravestones, and some of these are so defaced by time as to obscure the names and dates. Hon. John B. Young furnished us with the following:
Jesse Williams, born 1759, died 02 Dec 1808
Andrew Jones, born 1768, died 19 Jul 1841
James Cain, born 1739, died 01 Feb 1836
John Williams, born in Maryland 1776, died 21 Feb 1854
Mary Williams, his wife, born 1766, died 12 Aug 1838
Michael Freeman, born 1765, died 14 Apr 1835
Elizabeth Freeman, born 1766, died 23 Apr 1851
John Wikoff, born 1774, died 16 Dec 1849
Katharine Wikoff, born 1779, died 05 Oct 1852
Hiram Jones, born 1796, died 26 Oct 1843
Malinda Pendil, born 1765, died 1833
Conrad Cook, born 1774, died 26 Jun 1833
Elizabeth Cook, born 1781, died 30 Jan 1840
Henry Caraway, born Greenbriar County VA 1765, died 03 Jun 1835
Margaret Caraway, born 1764, died Oct 1819
Samuel Newman, born at Alexandria VA 1768, died 20 Feb 1855
Nancy Newman, born 1771, died 21 Jul 1848
Liberty Chapel, M.P., was organized in 1837. It is in the southwestern portion of township near Lynx post office and is known as "Greenbriar".
Cedar Grove Baptist, organized in 1871, is about one mile north of Liberty on Greenbriar.
Hill's Chapel, known as "Hell's Kitchen", on Randall's Run, formerly United Brethren, now not occupied.
"Mahogany", "Hackworth" Baptist, in western part of the township, in the Taylor settlement.
Christian Union, Wamsleyville, organized 1870.
Methodist Episcopal Church, Wamsleyville, organized 1820.
White Oak Methodist Episcopal, organized 1820.
Christian Union, near White Oak Chapel, organized 1865.
Mount Unger Baptist, organized 1872, near Scioto County line.
Christian Union, Blue Creek, formerly Grange Hall.
Union Grove, near the residence of Hon. John B. Young, built as a union house for religious and literary purposes in 1880. Occupied by the Christian Union Church since 1883, but is free to all denominations of "intelligence and piety".
Moore's Chapel, on Breedlove Run, near Blue Creek post office, was the first Methodist Episcopal organization in the Northwest Territory and here was erected.
The First Methodist Episcopal Meeting House in Ohio
The first Methodist Society organized in the Northwest Territory was at the humble cabin of Joseph Moore on Scioto Brush Creek in Adams County. Writers more enthusiastic than accurate have stated that this was in the year 1793 when Joseph Moore settled on the farm recently owned by Oliver Jones in Jefferson Township near Blue Creek Post Office. But this is too early a date. There were no settlements made outside the stockade at Three Islands, or Manchester, previous to 1795; and this date is probably the year that Moore's cabin was erected on Scioto Brush Creek, although it may have been a year later. But in 1797, there was quite a number of settlers in the vicinity of Moore's cabin, and it was here, and in this year that the Pioneer Methodist Society in Ohio, and the Northwest Territory, was organized. It is stated that Dr. Edward Tiffin, the first governor of the state of Ohio, visited the class at Moore's in the year 1797, which is altogether probable, as he located in the town of Chillicothe about the time of its founding in 1796; Adamsville near the present site of Rome on the Ohio River, was in 1797, made the seat of Justice for Adams County which then included what is now Ross County. Moore's was conveniently near the line of travel from Chillicothe to the place of meeting of the courts of Adams County. About this time there was a society of Methodists in the vicinity of Simon Field's which met at Wamsley's on Ohio Brush Creek, and it is said that Dr. Tiffin frequently preached there also.
Reverend Philip Gatch, Reverend Lewis Hunt and Reverend Henry Smith preached to these societies before the year 1800. Reverend Henry Smith, who organized the Scioto Circuit in 1799, says that "on the sixth of August, 1800, we proposed building a meeting house at Scioto Brush Creek, for a private house would not hold our week-day congregation; but we met with some who opposed it. We however succeeded in building a small log house, large enough for the neighborhood." It was named Salem Chapel, but afterwards called Moore's Meeting House.
This rude log structure erected by the pioneer settlers for the beautiful Scioto Brush Creek valley was the first Methodist Meeting House in the State of Ohio. It was begun in the winter of 1800 and completed the summer following. The first services held in it by the circuit preachers was the quarterly meetings in August 1801. There stands upon the old site today a neat frame building erected through the untiring energy of Reverend A.D. Singer, who vowed that this spot so dear to every true Methodist should be marked by a comfortable church building in which the members might gather to worship Him who had guided their forefathers to this "refuge in the wilderness". The pulpit is a beautiful piece of workmanship constructed by Reverend Singer from sixteen kinds of native woods. The front panel is inlaid with dark colored woods so as to form the figures 1800-1880, the dates respectively of the building of the first church and the dedication of the present structure.
A writer has truthfully said that there should be no more sacred spot to Ohio Methodists than this, and that there should be erected on the site of Moore's Meeting House a handsome stone chapel adorned with beautiful memorial windows bearing the names of the pioneer ministers who founded Methodism in Ohio there. The building is surrounded by a burying ground where sleep many of the pioneers of Scioto Brush Creek.
Wamsleyville, a pretty little village on Scioto Brush Creek in the northeastern part of the township and about one mile from the Scioto County line, was laid out in 1874 by William Wamsley of that place. The post office there, named Wamsley, was established in 1869, with William Wamsley as the first post master.
Blue Creek, a little hamlet lying along the valley at the junction of Blue Creek with Scioto Brush Creek, including the lower valley of Mill Creek, is a most charming locality. Blue Creek post office was established in 1844 with Isaac N. Wamsley first postmaster. There is a good hotel near this place conducted by John W. Lightbody.
Cedar Mills is on Cedar Run where old Brush Creek Furnace was located. The post office was established in 1868, John V. Claxton, first postmaster.
Lynx Post Office, on Greenbriar, was established in 1879 with E.L. Ellis as postmaster. It is named from the wild animals of that name that once infested that region.
Selig hamlet and post office is in the southern part of the township, named for Hugo Selig, once a merchant at that point.
Green Township board
|17||Upper Churn Creek||36||45|
An Old Meadow. On the home farm of the late Newton Moore on Ohio Brush Creek, between the house and the creek, is a field of several acres which has been in meadow continuously for ninety-six years, having never been plowed but once, at the time of clearing, and which yields annually from two to three tons of timothy to the acre.
Churn Creek is a peculiar name for a beautiful stream. It is said that a party of pioneer surveyors, while in this vicinity, resolved to procure some "Old Monongahela" from Graham's Station across the Ohio in Kentucky, and sent one, Armstrong, to fetch it. He made his way to the Station and secured the "old double distilled", but had no vessel to carry it in. Finally a cedar churn was procured and in it the refreshment was put and carried back to the camp in the wilds of Iron Ridge. From this circumstance it is said the stream was immediately named Churn Creek.
A Marvelous Incident. In July 1817, there was a cloud burst in the region of Churn Creek, and the waters of that stream, it is said, rose to a height of twenty feet, destroying crops, and otherwise doing great damage along that stream. Scioto Brush Creek suddenly rose from the flood in Churn Creek and vicinity and soon overflowed its banks. Lazaleer Swim, grandfather of Samuel B. Wamsley, was then living on the farm recently owned by the latter on Scioto Brush Creek. Seeing an approaching storm, he sent his two little boys to pen the sheep in a building in the bottom below the house. It was in the evening and growing quite dark. Suddenly the waters burst in a swift current between the house and the pen in which the children were securing the sheep, and the horrified father saw they could not be rescued. He called to them to climb on top of the sheep pen, which they did, taking up a favorite dog with them. The flood continued to rise, and soon swept the pen with the boys and dog on its roof down the creek where it lodged in a drift of rails and logs against some large sycamore trees near where Wamsleyville is now situated. Here the children remained until the waters began to subside, when they were rescued, almost dead from fright and exposure, by their parents and the neighbors who had been aroused by the frantic cries for help and the pitiful howling of the dog.
A Pioneer Family. Hosea Moore, whose name is frequently mentioned in the early history of Adams County, had a sister, Ruhama Moore, the wife of James Kendall, of Winchester Township, who was the mother of twenty-four children, eighteen of whom were yet living in 1879.
From A HISTORY OF ADAMS COUNTY, OHIO
from its earliest settlement to the present time including character sketches of the prominent persons identified with the first century of the county's growth and containing numerous engravings and illustrations
Nelson W. Evans and Emmons B. Stivers [1900, West Union OH]