Adams County History & Genealogy

Adams County, Ohio History

Manchester Township

Manchester was the name of one of the territorial townships formed at the organization of Adams County in September 1797. It included a part of what is now Tiffin, Oliver and Scott; all of Winchester, Wayne and Liberty; and most of Sprigg Township as now constituted, including the present township of Manchester. Its northern limit extended to the Wayne County line, north of the site of the city of Columbus.

In the year 1806, the Board of County Commissioners reorganized the townships of the county, and Manchester was subdivided into townships and parts of townships bearing new names, that of Manchester being dropped from the record.

In 1858, a new township named Manchester was formed from Sprigg Township including the town of Manchester. With slight alterations the present township is now as then formed. It includes the incorporated village of Manchester and Manchester Special School District.


Under another chapter in this volume is an account of the first settlement in Adams County, which was made in what is now Manchester Township. Nathaniel Massie and his little band of pioneers, whose names are recorded in the narrative above mentioned, were the first settlers. Their cabins were built within the Stockade which occupied a plot of about three acres of ground opposite the west end of the lower, or as now called, Manchester Island. This island, which contains about one hundred acres, was cleared by the residents within the Stockade in the spring of 1791, and the years following down to 1795, and afforded the grain fields for the little colony. In the years 1795 and 1796, many families living in cabins four and five miles back in the woods came to Manchester to cultivate patches of corn on the island. A granddaughter of Michael Roush, the pioneer, has often related that her mother, a daughter of Michael Roush, told her that she and those of the family used to walk from their home in the "Dutch Settlement" in Sprigg Township to Manchester island to hoe corn the first year they came to Adams County, which was in 1796. It is said that the first cabins built in Manchester outside the Stockade were those of Nathaniel Massie, Israel Donalson, Isaac Edgington, Job Denning, Andrew Boyd, Andrew Ellison, John Ellison, John McGate, John Kyte, Seth Foster, Joseph Edgington and John Beasley. These were all in the vicinity of the Stockade; most of the terrace where the present site of the town is, was then too swampy for settlement. John McGate or "Megitt", as written in the court records, was the first tavern keeper in Manchester, and his house was the meeting place for the officials of the township. In the year 1799, Andrew Boyd opened the first store in Manchester.


Manchester, as has been stated, occupies the whole of Manchester Township. As originally laid out, it contained 108 lots, to which have been made the following additions: West Manchester in 1839, 48 lots; Yate's Addition in 1843, 16 lots; Donalson's Addition to West Manchester in 1849, 23 lots; Improvement Company's Addition in 1855, 452 lots; Hill's Addition in 1858, 4 lots, making in all 651 lots. The towns was incorporated in the year 1850. Abraham Perry was the first mayor and Joseph Shriver, the first town marshal. At the time of its incorporation, it had a population of 434 inhabitants. In ten years, it doubled in population; and now it enumerates over 2,500 souls [in 1900].

The first mail route in Ohio crossed Adams County. This was over Zane's Trace from Wheeling to Limestone at which latter place the residents within the present limits of Adams County received their mail. In 1801, a post office, the first in the county, was established at Manchester with Israel Donalson post master. He served for twelve years when he was succeeded by John Ellison, Junior, the old sheriff of the county.


Presbyterian. This organization was formed in 1805 from the Eagle Creek congregation near West Union. The church was incorporated in January 1814 with Reverend William Williamson, Israel Donalson, William Means, Richard Rounsaville and John Ellison, Senior, as incorporators. The first church building was erected, it is said, in 1807, and was a log structure which stood on the site of the old cemetery in Manchester. The present brick church was erected in 1845.

Methodist Protestant. This church was organized in 1869 with 26 members. David Pennywitt, leader, and W.H. Pownall, assistant. Stewards: Reuben Pennywitt, L.L. Connor, Joseph Stableton. Trustees: Joseph Connell, Edwin Butler, Isaac Hill.

Methodist Episcopal. Brick church. No history of its organization.

Roman Catholic. About the year 1889, Michael O'Neil, of Manchester, succeeded after many years of unceasing effort in having built at Manchester a frame structure dedicated to the use of the Catholic Church, of which he was a devout member. This is the only church of that denomination ever organized in Adams County, and as there are but few members of that denomination in Manchester and vicinity, there has never been a resident priest in charge of the church.


De Kalb Lodge, No. 138, I.O.O.F. This lodge was instituted at West Union 13 Oct 1849 with the following charter member: David Greenlee, John Harsha, Joseph Hayslip, William M. Meek and Francis Shinn. In 1855, it was removed by order of the Grand Lodge to Manchester, and was instituted there 31 Jul 1856 with nineteen members removed from West Union. The officers elected were Henry Ousler, N.G.; Joseph W. Hayslip, V.G.; Isaac Eakins, Secretary; C.C. Cooley, Treasurer.

Manchester Encampment, No. 203, I.O.O.F. Charter granted 03 May 1876 to George Lowery, D.R. Shriver, J.W. Ebrite, I.K. Russell, john McCutcheon, Washburn Trenary, J.H. Conner, J.W. Eylar, J.H. Stevenson, S.J. Lawwill, J.W. Bunn and Washington Kimble.

Manchester Lodge, no. 317, F&AM;

Manchester lodge 317 was organized under a dispensation granted by Horace m. Stoke, Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand lodge of Ohio, dated 07 May 1859, duly empowering the lodge to work the three symbolic degrees.

The work of the lodge was conducted by authority of this dispensation until the annual session of the Grand Lodge which convened in the city of Columbus on 20 Oct, when a charter was granted bearing the names of Henry Y. Copple, James N. Brittingham, Benjamin Bowman, David Dunbar, George W. Sample, William A. Shriver, Perry T. Connelly, William McCalla and others, dated as above and covering all acts of said lodge from 07 May.

The brethren, feeling justly proud of their new charge and realizing the responsibility, seized their working tools and went to work with willing hands, and as subsequent proceedings show, their efforts were not in vain, but on the contrary, have been crowned with a success seldom attained in the annals of Masonry in this state.

The first petition for initiation was that of Andrew B. Ellison, who will be remembered by many of our readers as one of the principal merchants of Manchester at that time, and who long since laid down the working tools of life after a long, honorable and praiseworthy career. The second petition was from Captain William Kirker.

The first death among the members was that of Benjamin Bowman, which occurred 01 Apr 1860, and he was buried by the Order in the old cemetery at Manchester.

The records of the lodge show that the good old custom of visiting was practiced to a great extent during the early years of its existence. West Union, Aberdeen, Ripley, Winchester, Locust Grove and Concord, KY, often being represented at the same communication. And this same custom is, we are happy to note, like Masonic landmarks, kept regularly and is one of the social ties of Free Masonry which has ever characterized Manchester Lodge.

Among the bright Masonic lights who have sat under the sound of the gavel in Manchester Lodge are noticed the names of Cornelius Moore, who so ably edited the Masonic Review for so many years at Cincinnati. Also, john M. Barrere, one of the best informed Masons in the state in his day, and many others of prominence and note in the councils of the Order, each of whom in his own peculiar way contributed to the edification of the brethren.

The lodge when first organized met in the J.N. Kirker building at the corner of Second and Pike Streets. It was afterward moved to the frame building on West Front Street, now owned by James Taylor. The first meeting of the lodge in its present quarters, the Ellison Building, at the southwest corner of Second and Pike Streets, was held on the evening of 22 Dec 1866, and the records show that on 23 Feb 1867, the hall was formally dedicated under the personal direction of Howard Mathews, then most Worshipful Grand Master of Ohio, ably assisted by Robert Gwynn, of Kentucky, an eminent Mason and Masonic author. Alfred Pennywitt had the honor to be Master of the lodge on this interesting occasion. At the time of the breaking out of the war of the Rebellion, the lodge was in its infancy and when the call for troops was heralded over the land, many of its members, not forgetting one of the first charges to a Free Mason upon his initiation to be a good and true man, obeyed the teachings of the Order, laid down the implements of a peaceful life, and the Masonic working tools, and went forth to battle and in some cases to die for the country they loved, reflecting high honor upon themselves and their mother lodge. Among those of the members of this lodge who served the country most gallantly in her hour of peril were Major Ephraim J. Ellis of the 33 OVI, who fell at Stone River; Captain D.R. Shriver; Captain N.W. Foster; Captain Wilson Foster; Colonel Henry I Phillips; Captain John Taylor; General A.T. Wikoff; Captain Lafayette Foster; John W. Pownall and J.W. Rogers. The names of all the members of the Manchester lodge who served in the army were published in the Masonic Review of Cincinnati. The brethren of the lodge, appreciating their services, remitted all their dues during their term of services. After the war closed and the boys came home crowned with honors, they received a royal welcome from their brethren.

Who can best work and best agree is a virtue which has always actuated the members of Manchester Lodge, and their labors were not in vain, as the records show there have been 183 initiations, to say nothing of those who affiliated from other lodges; and after deducting all who have died, been suspended, and expelled or withdrawn, the report to the Grand Lodge in the fall of 1898 showed a membership of 102 in good and regular standing. Manchester Lodge is up-to-date in every particular. The work is placed on the floor in a masterly manner which is evidenced by the large number of visiting brethren from other lodges who always find a cordial welcome and much favorable comment is expressed on the number of skilled workmen among the membership of Manchester lodge. Of the original charter members, only four are living in 1900: George W. Sample, aged 92; James N. Brittingham, 80; David Dunbar, 79; and William A. Shriver, 72. The following is a list of Past Masters: Henry W. Copple, James N. Brittingham, E.J. Ellis, Thomas D. Parker, A.B. Ellison, J. W. Pownall, Alfred Pennywitt, David Dunbar, Lafayette Foster, John F. Games, Henry Collings, John K. Dunbar, S.N. Greenlee, J.W. Jones, W.N. Watson, A.J. McIntire and Frank E. Reynoolds; James E. Mott, now presiding. All of the above are living at this writing except Copple, Parker, Ellis, Ellison and Foster.

The first regular communication under its charter was held on the evening of 07 Nov 1859, whereupon an election of officers was had and the following named brethren were elected as the first regular officers: James N. Brittingham, W.M.; George W. Sample, S.W.; Andrew B. Ellison, J.W.; William A. Shriver, Treasurer; David Dunbar, Secretary; john W. Pownall, S.D.; Thomas D. Parker, J.D.; Perry T. Connelly, Tiler.

The first visiting brother named in the records was Reverend John C. Maddy, who ably filled the pulpit of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Manchester at that time. Nathaniel Massie was also a frequent visitor. he was the son of Nathaniel Massie, the founder of Manchester. Manchester lodge made a handsome contribution to the Masonic Home at Springfield and a private contribution was raised among the members sufficient to furnish a room in elegant style and the room named in honor of the lodge; and, one of the oldest members of Manchester lodge, Jason McDermod, is now one of the inmates of the Masonic Home. The foregoing history of Manchester Lodge, though brief, should cause the present members to feel that loyal pride with which its excellent founders were imbued when "Each felt a weight of care / A solemn charge o'erspread / Each toiled in earnest there / With busy hand and head."

Manchester Chapter, No. 129, Royal Arch Masons

During the spring of 1871, an effort was made by a number of Royal Arch Masons in and around Manchester to further the growth of Capitular Masonry, whereupon a formal application was made for a dispensation to institute a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons at Manchester, signed by the following named companions hailing from different chapters, to wit: A. T. Wikoff, W.B. Cole, R.A. Stephenson, A.P. Pownall, Harrison Warner, E.C. Pollard, R.S. Daily, Thomas P. Foster, john p. Bloomhuff, G.G. Games, John Sparks, John M. Freeman, M.S. Jeffries, R.M. Owens, Thomas M. Games, and Nathaniel Massie. The application was forwarded to the Most Excellent High Priest, together with maps showing the location and distances of Blue Lodges in the jurisdiction. The application received favorable consideration and on 29 Jun 1871, a dispensation was granted by Charles C. Keifer, Grand High Priest, empowering them to open a Chapter and confer the degrees of mark master, Past Master, most Excellent Master and Royal Arch.

Being now fully empowered to work, the first regular convocation was held on the evening of 12 Jul 1871, and on the same evening five petitions were received, namely: Junius N. Higgins, David Dunbar, L.L. Edgington, William Kirker and H.B. Gaffin.

The first three officers appointed by the Grand High Priest were Thomas P. Foster, High Priest; Thomas M. Games, King; and Robert A. Stephenson, Scribe.

Under their dispensation, the companions worked along until the convocation of the Grand Chapter on 26 Sep 1871, at which convocation they were regularly granted a charter. The companions of Manchester Chapter worked with fervency and zeal and as a reward have the satisfaction to know that Manchester Chapter No 129 sends the names of more members in their annual report to the Grand Chapter than any other chapter between Cincinnati and Portsmouth. David Dunbar has been the Secretary of Manchester Chapter for 28 consecutive years.

Hawkeye Tribe No. 117, Imp. O.R.M. was instituted 27 May 1887 with W.V. Cooley, Sachem; J.H. Brawner, Prophet; J. W. Guthridge, Senior Sagamore; D.B. Phillips, Junior Sagamore; H.C. Doddridge, Chief of Record; and William Charles, Keeper of Wampum.


It is said that the first schoolhouse stood near the southeast corner of the plat of ground now known as the old cemetery, and that Israel Donalson, a pioneer schoolmaster, accountant and surveyor, was the first teacher. The date of this building has been fixed by some writers as early as 1794, but the writer herein is of the opinion that the first school building was not erected before 1796. Mr. Donalson wielded the rod there for several terms when he was succeeded by John Barritt, another pioneer schoolmaster and once Sheriff of Adams County. He was followed by William Dobbins, a son of Reverend Robert Dobbins.

This house was constructed of logs with one door and two windows, the latter made by cutting out a log from each side of the building. One of the spaces was filled with a row of glass and the other with oiled paper. There was an old-fashioned fireplace in one end of the room, where firewood, six feet in length, could be used. The floor and seats were of puncheons. In that time, there was a practice of having "loud" schools. All study and any communication were aloud, and the lessons were sometimes sung in concert. The textbooks used in that building were Webster's Spelling Book, the English Reader and Pike's Arithmetic. Grammar was not introduced until 1818 when Lindley Murray's celebrated work was used. Geography was never taught in the log schoolhouse.

In 1828, the log schoolhouse was replaced by a brick building. The furniture consisted of a few long desks adjoining the walls for the use of the larger pupils, while the seats of the smaller ones were made of rough slabs without any backs. James Smith, afterward a member of the Ohio Legislature, taught the first term in the new building. He was succeeded by J.T. Crapsey, who had edited an Anti-masonic newspaper at West Union, and he by William Robe, afterward a noted surveyor in the Virginia Military District. The following are among the persons said to have taught in this building: Jane Dickinson, Jane Williamson, Andrew Crawford, George Burgess, Robert Buck, David and John Pennywitt, Edward Burbage, Thomas Hayslip, R.R. Case, Andrew Mannon, William McCalla and Parker Douglas. Judge James L. Coryell, Jesse and Jeremiah Ellis obtained their first lessons in surveying from William McCalla. The use of the rod as a means of discipline was general. It was used indiscriminately without regard to age or sex, and yet the discipline was not god.

On October 17, 1853, it was determined by the Manchester School Board to have two schools, as at that time there were 283 pupils, and William McCalla was the teacher.

On May 4, 1855, the Board, having purchased the west end of outlot 18, contracted to place a schoolhouse thereon of brick, fifty feet long by 24 feet wide, two stories high, and was estimated to cost $800. It was opened at the beginning of 1856.

The question of a graded school was voted on at a special election held 11 Aug 1856 under the Act of 01 Feb 1849, known as the Akron Law. The proposition of graded schools carried by a majority of 39 votes. John B. Enness, Lacy Payton, David Gillespie, Dr. Joseph Stableton, David Dunbar and John Parks were elected to carry out the determination of the voters. John McClung was the first teacher employed by this Board, at fifty dollars a month. However, it was only a graded school, in name, and not in reality. The course of study was determined by the teachers. From 1856-1875, there were no less than fifteen principals, during which the average term of service was less than 1-1/3 school years. The following were among the principals: John McClung, M.J. Lewis, W.W. Ramsey, James Williams, J. Gregg, J.L. Craig, G.W. Herrick, William Coleman, J.B. Jones, S.T. Kenyon, J.P. Norris, A.N. Stowell, A.L. Mehaffey, James McColm, J.H. Compton, J.F. McColm and William Tugman. In the fall of 1875, it was determined by the Board of Education that the schools should be graded in fact as well as in name. Honorable L.J. Fenton, Superintendent of the schools, was authorized to outline a course of study, which was adopted, and the course was made twelve years, three of which were in the High School. In 1877, the first senior class was organized in the High School and graduation exercises were held on the first day of May, 1878, at the Methodist Episcopal Church.

In 1880, the citizens decided to erect a new building. It was commenced in July and the work was finished on 29 Nov 1880. In December, Mr. Fenton resigned as Superintendent, and was succeeded by Mr. W.A. Clark, who resigned in 1881. H.G. Pollock was Superintendent 1882-1883; T.J. Currey was elected Superintendent in 1883. On 07 May 1885, J.W. Jones was elected Superintendent and served ten years. His administration marked a new era in the history of Manchester schools. The course of study was modified to meet the demands of the schools. Without neglecting the required branches, he introduced new subjects of study and infused a new spirit into the modes of learning. In 1895, he resigned and Franklin E. Reynolds, who had served as principal of the High School during the last three years of Mr. Jones' administration, was elected Superintendent. Mr. Reynolds was well-qualified for the place and discharged his duties most admirably. He resigned in 1899, and was succeeded by Professor D.S. Clinger, the present Superintendent of the Schools. Mr. Clinger, in his work, has kept it up to the high mark started by Professor Jones, and the school has been fully maintained as it was under Professor Jones.

The present Board of Education consists of M.F. Crissman, A.J. McIntire, R.A. Stephenson, M.D., F.C. McColm, W.H. Pownall and John G. Lindsey.

The teachers are as follows: D.S. Clinger, Superintendent; H.E. Dening, Principal of High School; Miss Lizzie Lang, Assistant Principal High School; Nannie Kimball, Grammar Department; Winona Naylor, Third Intermediate; Edna Lee Hines, Second Intermediate; Elizabeth Walden, First Intermediate; Lucy Hayslip, Primary Intermediate; Maud Pownall, Third Primary; Cora Phillips, Second Primary; Edith Puntenney, First Primary, male; Allie Trichler, First Primary, female.

From 1880 until the present time, the school has increased from six to twelve departments. There are now two large two-story brick buildings, well-equipped with apparatus, and a well selected library.

The following is the enumeration in Manchester Special District for the current year (1900): white males, 332, females, 271; colored males, 11, females, 13.


The first mill erected in the county was a little "tub-wheel" built by Nathaniel Massie on Island Creek about two miles from Manchester. Before the completion of this mill, the settlers at Manchester went to Limestone (now Maysville) to have their grinding done, or used a small handmill at the Stockade. Some of the pioneers pounded their corn into a coarse meal on a block, sifting the larger particles out for hominy. The younger members of the family were kept busy shelling, drying and pounding, or sometimes grating on the cob, corn for meal, as both processes were slow and laborious.

John Ellison's Brick "Hoose". In 1807, John Ellison build the first brick house in Manchester, down near the riverbank where the old Saint Charles Hotel used to stand. It was the wonder and admiration of all the country round, and Mr. Ellison, recently from the "Emerald Isle," was so pleased with his new dwelling that he took his wife, Mary, in a canoe and paddled over to the Kentucky shore to get the enchantment that distance lends; and the view was so satisfactory that he exclaimed: "Mollie, it looks more like a palace than a hoose!"

The first steamboat to ply the waters of the Ohio was the "New Orleans", built at Pittsburgh, and which came down past Manchester in December 1811. The next was the "Aetna," early in the spring of 1812. Before this date, pirogues and flatboats were cordelled on the waters of the Ohio when ascending the stream. It took four weeks to go by one of these pirogues from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh. Jacob Myers, who owned a fleet of four pirogues, advertised in The Centinel of the Northwest Territory in 1793 that he would insure passengers on his boats against harm from the Indians, as his crafts were armored and provided with portholes.

Lynching of Old Bill Terry. On Saturday morning, 22 Nov 1856, a negro named William Terry committed an outrage on Mrs. Morrison of Manchester, whose husband at the time was absent. Terry was promptly arrested and lodged in jail at West Union. When Mr. Morrison returned and learned the facts as to the conduct of the man, the citizens of the town decided that summary punishment ought to be inflicted on the offender, and on Tuesday the 25th, arrangements were completed to go to West Union to secure Terry to mete out to him deserved punishment. Citizens to the number of over 100 on horseback accompanied several persons in a wagon to the county seat where court was in session trying Milligan for the murder of the Senter family. They broke down the jail door and secured Terry and returned to Manchester by 3:00 in the afternoon. After giving the offender a little time to arrange his worldly affairs, he was taken over to Manchester Island, which is under the jurisdiction of the state of Kentucky, and hanged him to a limb of a large sycamore that stood at the west end near the water's edge next to the Ohio shore. His body was cut down and buried at the foot of that tree from which he was hanged, but it is said that the remains were exhumed by medical students that very same 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]