Adams County History & Genealogy

Adams County, Ohio History

Wayne Township

Wayne Township takes its name from "Mad Anthony" Wayne, the hero of Story Point and the conquerer of the Indians at "Fallen Timbers" in 1794. It was formed in 1806, and was one of the six townships into which the county was at that time reorganized. It originally included the territory now occupied by Oliver, Scott and Winchester Townships.


The surface is undulating. In the east central portion it is broken by low hills, and deeply furrowed by the water courses. The soil is a heavy clay, highly impregnated with iron and for the most part produces fine crops of corn, wheat and clover. The narrow valleys are very fertile and grow an excellent quality of tobacco. In the western part of the township the soil is a compact boulder clay, and is rated as "thin land." The valley of Cherry Fork, a tributary of the West Fork of Ohio Brush Creek, embraces some of the prettiest farms and most fertile lands in Adams County.


Three small branches from the northwest, west and southwest portions of the township respectively, unite a little to the west of the village of North Liberty and form Cherry Fork of the West Fork of Ohio Brush Creek. It is a narrow and rapid stream and in its lower course attains considerable size. From the great number of large wild cherry trees that formerly grew in the valley of this stream it derives its name. At Harshaville, it receives the waters of Grace's Run, a pretty little stream that flows through the north part of the township and which is augmented in its course by Martin's Run near the Oliver Township line.


Samuel Wright, who came from Kentucky to Cherry Fork and erected a cabin where the brick dwelling now stands on the Allison farm, just to the west of the present village of North Liberty, was perhaps the first settler within the present limits of the township. This was in March 1799. Here he lived and died, having reared a large family, of which a son, William, was the father of A. M. Wright, the gunsmith of Cherry Fork, now in his 85th year, yet working at his trade like a man of forty. He has in his possession a pair of doe-skin gloves made by a sister of his father, Margaret McKittrick, as a wedding gift and which was worn by him at his marriage. A pair of silk stockings, worn by his father when he was married, and kept as "wedding" stockings and worn by each of his seven sons and four daughters at their marriages, is also carefully treasured away by Mr. Wright.

In the year 1800, Adam Kirkpatrick came from Bourbon County, Kentucky, and settled on the farm now owned by Catharine Liggett on Grace's Run. He married Rosanna Patton. In this year, also, Joseph McNeil and his brother, James, built cabins on Cherry Fork about a mile southeast of the village of North Liberty. The next year Francis McClellan settled near the McNeils. Then came James and William McKittrick and located where John Widney now resides, on lands then owned by Samuel Wright. In 1801, Robert Morrison settled on the farm now owned by William Morrison near Eckmansville. James Smith came to the Nathan Plummer farm in 1802, and Robert Foster located on the the Foster farm two miles southeast of North Liberty. Also in this year, James Young settled at Youngsville, and William Finley, James Finley, John McIntire and James Caskey located in the eastern portion of the township. Thomas Wasson, in 1805, built a cabin on the farm recently owned by Campbell Wasson. Daniel Marlatt, in 1804, settled on the old Marlatt farm west of North Liberty, and William and Daniel John, and James Ross came to the township about the time of its organization.

The Cherry Fork Cemetery in the village of North Liberty is the oldest burial place in the township. General Robert Morrison has stated that he dug the grave for the first interment here, the little son of William Davidson, killed by lightning in the year of 1802. The negro, Roscoe Parker, who was lynched by a mob for the murder of old Mr. and Mrs. Rhine, was buried in the northwest part of the old cemetery in the "pauper's corner," by old Sam Bradley, an ex-slave, who for many years was a familiar figure about the village of North Liberty.

The new cemetery south of the present United Presbyterian Church is a prettily arranged and beautifully ornamented "city of the dead."


There are four churches in the township: The United Presbyterian at North Liberty; the Methodist Episcopal at same place; the Presbyterian, at Eckmansville, and "Peoples," at Youngsville.


North Liberty Academy - The village of North Liberty in days gone by was a widely known educational center. "The Old Academy on the hill," with its broad, green lawn ornamented with shrubs, vines and evergreens, is held in the memory of hundreds of fathers and mothers as a beautiful oasis in the schooldays of their youth.

The beginning of the North Liberty Academy was a Select School taught by Reverend Jacob Fisher at his own home in the winter of 1848-1849. In 1851, the old Associate Reformed Church building, one-half mile east of North Liberty, was moved to the village and fitted up for an academy building, where Reverend Fisher taught several terms. In the summer of 1852, Reverend James Arbuthnot taught a select school in the old brick church south of the village. In 1852-1853, Reverend Arbuthnot and Reverend W. H. Anderson conducted a class in the old Associate building. In 1854, Reverend Arbuthnot, James Wright and D. H. Harsha conducted the school. Then came Reverend Gilbert Small and Reverend N. R. Kirkpatrick. About this date, a joint stock company was organized, and the present building was erected. It is a massive frame of the old academic style of architecture, with great dome rising from the center, and is, after the lapse of nearly a half century, in good condition.

The following advertisement from an old newspaper points clearly to the beginning of the North Liberty Academy:

Efficient means having been taken permanently to establish an Academy at North Liberty, a suitable room has been provided for temporary occupancy, and arrangements have been made for opening a School on Wednesday, April 1, 1857, to be, taught by the Reverend N. R. Kirkpatrick assisted by Reverend Gilbert Small. Tuition for languages, Algebra, etc., $5.50; English lower branches, $3.25; Boarding, $2.00.

The Academy was conducted by teachers of more or less ability and with varying success financially, until 1868, when the academy was sold to Reverend Joseph Smith, a Baptist minister. He and his wife, a most excellent lady and teacher of marked ability, built up the school, improved the grounds, and did much to make the school prosperous. But Professor Smith, a robust and strong-minded gentleman, with very pronounced views on the questions of temperance, politics and social affairs, was a thorn in the side of a little coterie of individuals such as may be found in all isolated communities, who assume to be social, religious and political autocrats. The community in and about North Liberty was mainly Abolitionist and radically Republican in politics, and Associated Reform (United Presbyterians) and Covenanters in religion, the very impersonation of "holier than thou." Professor Smith was a Democrat, a Baptist, and an advocate of temperance who declared the secret indulgence in alcoholic drink, a greater evil than the moderate open use of the same. These differences of opinion between Professor Smith and the would-be autocrats soon led to bitter personalities, with the result that his school was tabooed and he ostracized in the community. In 1882, Professor E. B. Stivers, of the Higginsport, Ohio, public schools, leased the Academy from Professor Smith and opened a Normal and Training School for teachers. From the first, the new school was a success. In the spring and summer terms of 1883, there were nearly 100 students enrolled and four teachers were employed. In September of this year, Professor Stivers took charge of the West Union public schools, and the Academy, having been purchased by the United Presbyterian Church, was again put under sectarian control. After two years of disappointment, the management leased the buildings to Professor Jones, now Superintendent of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, Columbus OH, and Professor Dodge, an eminent instructor, who again built the school up to its former standard. Professors Jones and Dodge were succeeded by adventurers in academic and normal school work, with the result that the building and grounds were sold to the Board of Education of Wayne Township and converted into a public school building in 1893.

If many of the energetic and liberal minded men who at various periods attempted to found a permanent institution for the instruction and training of young men and women at the old academy had been unselfishly supported by the community, there would be there today a school with hundreds of students and an institution, a credit to the community.


The first schoolhouse in the township was a log structure on the Baldridge farm, in which William Patton was the first teacher.

There are eight sub-districts in the township, and in each there is a plain, cheap frame schoolhouse by the dusty roadside, with neither shade nor lawn excepting the town school in the old academy building.

Teachers are paid from $25 to $35 per month, and the schools are in session from six months to eight months in the year. The following is the enrollment in each district in the year 1899:

No. Males Females   No. Males Females
1 16 29   5 28 45
2 15 19   6 8 16
3 33 20   7 16 13
4 26 14   8 29 17


Samuel Wright, the first settler at Cherry Fork, built the first mill, a tub-wheel, about the year 1802, on the creek near where Hunter's steam mill now stands. Afterwards, Robert Thomas erected a horse mill at this point, which was in later years supplanted by a water mill, and this in turn by a steam mill. At the present steam mill in 1879, the proprietor, Stewart McCormick, was mangled and killed by his clothing, becoming entangled in the belting of the machinery. David Potts, his brother-in-law, succeeded Mr. McCormick, and conducted the business for some years. The present proprietor's name is Hunter.


North Liberty (or Cherry Fork) Post Office was laid out in 1848 by Colonel William McVey. He was a radical Abolitionist and named the village North Liberty, as the new village plat lay north of Cherry Fork, and his residence and store to the south of that stream, opposite the old water mill. The village now contains two general stores, one drug store, hardware store, furniture store, and merchant tailor shop, A. D. Kirk, proprietor, and one hotel. There are two resident physicians, two churches, and one Lodge. I.O.O.F.; the population is about 300. It is nine miles from West Union, five miles from Winchester, and fourteen miles from Manchester on the Ohio River.

Youngsville is situated two miles to the southward from the town of Seaman on the C. P. & V Railroad. It was founded by David Young who opened a small store there in 1840. C. E. Silcott & Company did a flourishing business there for many years. J. F. Young and others, also, were merchants in the village. It has one church, The Peoples, in which any denomination may hold service. The population is about 75.

Eckmansville is a little cluster of buildings two miles southwest of North Liberty, among which there is one store, one blacksmith shop and two churches -- one Methodist Episcopal and one Presbyterian. The village was laid out by Henry Eckman, a blacksmith, who first settled here in 1824. In the period from 1870 to 1885, John Morrison and son, and later A. B. Morrison & Company, did a flourishing mercantile and banking business at this village.


About the year 1797-1798, several families, members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, came from Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky to the East Fork of Eagle Creek, Adams County, in the vicinity of the present town of West Union. These families petitioned the Presbytery of Kentucky, and Reverend Adam Rankin was the first supply sent by that body. He preached at the house of James January, who then kept a tavern at the foot of the hill west of West Union on the old Cincinnati Road, in the autumn of 1799.

In the autumn of 1802, four ruling elders, Joseph McNeil, Stephen Bayless, John Leach and Paul Kerr, were elected, and ordained by Reverend A. Craig. This was the first organization of the A. R. Presbyterian Church in Adams County The first Lord's supper was administered in the congregation by Revs. Rankin, Craig and Steele in the autumn of 1803. About this time Reverend Robert H. Bishop (afterwards President of Miami University) and Reverend David Risk, both recently from Scotland, came within the bounds of the congregation. Reverend Bishop continued as a stated supply until the summer of 1804. At this time Reverend Bishop refused a call as pastor of the congregation at a salary of $400, one-half his time to be devoted to preaching to members on Cherry Fork (at North Liberty) of Brush Creek. The Reverend Risk was then called. He accepted and was duly installed as pastor of the congregation. In the spring of 1805, the members living at Cherry Fork were organized into a separate congregation, and John Wright, Samuel Wright, and John McIntire were ordained ruling elders who, with Joseph McNeil, ordained at Eagle Creek, constituted the first session of the Cherry Fork congregation. The church house was built of logs, the cracks chinked with blocks and daubed with clay. There was neither fireplace nor stove, and no floor. The congregation sat on slabs of timber supported on pegs. Reverend Risk continued in charge of the congregation about two years, dividing his time equally between it and the Eagle Creek congregation nine miles away. Reverend Risk demitted his charge in August, 1806, and until the autumn of 1809 these congregations were without a pastor. In the meantime the members residing on West Fork of Brush Creek and George's Creek (Tranquility) organized at the West Fork congregation and erected Hopewell Meeting House. In the summer of 1808, Reverend William Baldridge, of Big Springs, Virginia, preached to these congregations. On 20 Nov 1808, he took charge of the congregation here, having removed with his family from Virginia. His time was divided, one-half being devoted to Cherry Fork. For this latter service he was to receive $165, one-half of this in articles of merchandise at the following prices as fixed by a committee from the congregation of which Judge Robert Morrison was chairman:

Beef and Pork, per cwt $2.50
Wheat, per bushel .58
Rye, per bushel .42
Corn, per bushel .25
Oats,, per bushel .25
Whiskey, per gal .50
Seven hundred linen, per yard .50
Clean swingled flax, per yard .12½
Maple sugar, per pound 12½

At the beginning of Reverend Baldridge's pastorate, the old log church at Cherry Fork was enlarged by taking down one side and adding a room by making off-sets where the extension began. One of these off-sets was arranged for a pulpit which placed it at the middle of one side of the building enlarged to 35 x 55 feet. Stoves were not provided until ten or twelve years later.

Reverend Baldridge was not installed as pastor, regularly, until the year 1820. The reason of this delay was that Reverend Baldridge was supposed to sympathize with Dr. Mason in his deviating course. In 1829 West Union, Cherry Fork, West Fork and Russellville (North Fork of Eagle Creek) united in calling Samuel C. Baldridge to be colleague to his father in a joint pastorate over these four congregations. Reverend William Baldridge died in 1830. The congregation was vacant for two years. In the spring of 1832, the Lord's Supper was administered by Reverend D. McDill.

On 01 Nov 1832, Reverend Robert Stewart took charge of the congregation at Cherry Fork and West Fork. He was ordained and installed in the following December. He received as one-half his salary from the Cherry Fork congregation $219.35. In 1833 a new brick church house 50 x 50 feet was erected containing fifty-eight pews.

In 1837, the question of Negro slavery and the temperance movement divided the Cherry Fork congregation, and Colonel William McVey with others formed the "Associate Congregation of North Liberty." In 1846, the Unity congregation was formed. Reverend Stewart died in the year 1851, having been born near Wheeling, Virginia, in 1796. In September, 1853, Reverend D. McDill was ordained and installed as pastor of the congregation. In 1855, the present commodious brick church was erected. It is 50 x 70 feet with a 22-foot ceiling. After Reverend McDill's resignation, John S. Martin was called and accepted, and was installed in October, 1877, which place he filled with marked ability until the date of his death, 06 Apr 1889. Reverend Martin received a salary of $1,000.

On September 30, 1890, the present pastor, J. A. C. McQuiston, was installed over the congregation, at a salary of $1,000. Reverend McQuiston is a native of Illinois. The church is in a fairly prosperous condition-the membership, being composed generally of prosperous farmers and merchants. The "clanish" spirit yet manifests itself among those of limited education and of little experience in the world, but the younger element is inclined to be liberal and broad-minded. In fine weather the Sabbath service is largely attended, each member turning out in his best carriage drawn by his most spirited team -- and it is a sight never to be forgotten, this line of carriages -- a line not exceeded in length or numbers at any place of worship in the state.


The last black bear ever seen in this portion of Adams County was caught in a trap by Samuel Wright's boys about the year 1835, near the mouth of Grace's Run on Cherry Fork. It weighed nearly two hundred pounds after being skinned and dressed. At that time deer were plentiful in this region.

A Remarkable Centenarian

In 1883, there was living near Youngsville in this township, a pioneer of the western country by name of Joseph Smittle. In August of that year, the writer attended a basket dinner given at the residence of the old pioneer celebrating his 104th birthday. He was then in full possession of his faculties, excepting his sight which was somewhat impaired. His hair was but slightly streaked with gray, and he had the general appearance of a well-preserved man of not more than 75 years of age. He lived to be 106 years old.

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]