Adams County History & Genealogy

Adams County, Ohio History

Liberty Township

Liberty Township was organized 06 Dec 1817 from territory taken from the north end of Sprigg Township. Under the territorial organization, what is now Liberty was included mostly in Manchester Township; the western portion, however, was within the limits of Cedar Hill. The first election in Liberty Township was held at the house of David Robe in April 1818.


It is said that Governor Thomas Kirker was the first settler, but it is more accurate to say he was among the first of the pioneers of this region. His cabin was erected on Zane's Trace on what is known as the old Kirker farm in the southeastern part of the township. James January came as early as 1796 and one year later opened a tavern on the Trace at the foot of the hill west of West Union on the Swearengen farm. About this date also came Needham Perry, Alexander Meharry, Richard Askren, John Mahaffey, Reverend Thomas Odell, David Robe, George Dillinger, Bezebel Gordon, Colonel John Lodwick, Daniel Marlatt, James Wade and Joseph Wade. And later, James McGovney, John Stivers, Conrad Foster and Lewis Coryell. These were mostly Revolutionary soldiers from Virginia, and to perpetuate among their descendants the memory of the cause for which they had struggled, the name Liberty was given to this township when formed. Land warrant number one issued to Richard Askren, was laid in this township.

As indicative of the frugality and integrity of the citizens of Liberty Township, a chronicler of local history in the year 1880 noted the fact that there had never been an assignment made by any of its citizens.


The surface is rolling and in localities bordering the streams somewhat hilly. Bald Hill and Cave Hill, in the northeastern part of the township, are remarkable elevations, the first about 650 and the second over 700 feet above low water at Cincinnati. They have had the same geological position as the elevations on which West Union stands and are "outliers" of the cliff limestone. Cave Hill is one hundred feet higher than West Uion, and was one of the stations in the United States Geodetic Survey. The western portion of the township is in the Cincinnati or blue limestone belt and the soil is generally fertile, producing good crops of corn, tobacco, wheat, oats and clover. The surface is furrowed by numerous streams, tributaries of Eagle Creek, the largest of which is East Fork which received the waters of Hills' and Kyte's Forks in this township.


Fairview, near the Brown County line on the old Cincinnati turnpike, was laid out by William Mahaffey 15 Mar 1844 on a plot of nine lots. Benjamin Whiteman kept a store there previous to that time, and a post office named Hills' Fork had been established with Robert Patton as first postmaster. The village contains one store, one church, a blacksmith shop and a few residences.

Maddox Post Office, established in 1890, is in the southwestern part of the township.


The first church in the township was a log structure erected by the Christian Association or "New Lights" near the old Kirker Cemetery in 1800; but the Associate Reformed Presbyterian congregation held meetings at the house of James January as early as 1797. See the history of the United Presbyterian Church under Wayne Township.

Briar Ridge Methodist Episcopal Church is one of the pioneer churches of the township and county. A log house was erected there in 1804, and afterwards a small brick, which was replaced by the present frame building. Near here on the creek, Reverend Odell and Reverend Robert Dobbins founded the first Methodist class in this part of Adams County. Peter Cartright, afterwards a celebrated Methodist divine, used to preach at Odell's in this locality.

Christian Union Church. About 1868, a division in the Methodist Episcopal Church at Briar Ridge took place over questions of politics growing out of the Civil War, and many members joined the new Christian Union Association, and about 1873 erected a comfortable frame church house near the site of the Methodist edifice.

German Methodist Episcopal Church. Some years before the Civil War, a small colony of German families settled in the vicinity of Hill's Fork. In 1853, they built a house of worship at Fairview where services have been held, with slight interruptions, to the present time, but not as formerly in the German tongue.

Liberty Chapel Methodist Episcopal. This church is on the North Liberty and Manchester Pike at the crossing of the old Cincinnati Road. It is a frame erected in 1879, at a cost of eight hundred dollars.


It is said that the first schoolhouse in this township stood on the Kleinknecht farm and that an English woman, Mrs. Dodson, was the first teacher in 1803. There was a schoolhouse on East Fork near January's Tavern as early as 1805. We are inclined to the belief that William Dobbins, a son of reverend Robert Dobbins, was one of the first schoolmasters in this township.

The following is the enumeration in each of the sub-districts of the present year [1900]:

No. Males Females
1 27 20
2 15 18
3 17 11
4 19 21
5 18 18
6 11 24
7 17 17
8 21 40
9 19 13


The old camp meeting ground on the Noleman Farm was a favorite retreat for the Methodists in early days. There such famous pulpit orators as John Collins, Henry Bascom, Peter Cartright and William McKendree preached in "God's first temples" and let repentant sinners to the "house of the Lord'>

Crawford's Stable. There were many Indians in this region when the first settlers came, after the treaty of Greenville, and they annoyed the pioneers greatly by begging and pilfering, and occasionally stealing horses. William Crawford, in order to protect a valuable horse from being stolen, built a stable in one end of his cabin in which he secured the animal at night.

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]