History of Jackson Township - Minster, Auglaize County, Ohio
From: History of Auglaize County, Ohio
Edited By: William J. McMurray
Histotical Publishing Company
Indianapolis - 1923

JACKSON TOWNSHIP AND MINSTER TOWN.

The history of Jackson township, is contemporaneous with that of German township (q. v.) until the year 1858, when the lower half of township 7 south, range 4 east, was by act of the commissioners and by the mutual consent and desire of the inhabitants of the township set off as a separate civil entity, and Jackson township thus appears for the first time on the tax duplicate of Auglaize county as of the following year, 1859, it thus having had its own local organization when the Civil war broke out. The names of the landowners in this township at the time Auglaize county was erected in 1848 therefore must be sought in the list of such names presented as of German township, as will be noted prefatory to the presentation of that list in that part of this story relating to the latter township above.

The initial act of the board of county commissioners covering this separation is set out in the journal of the board under date of Wednesday morning, December 8, 1858, where it is recorded that "the board took up a petition signed by 134 householders residing in the southern part of German township, praying for the erection of a new township to be composed of that part of German township lying south of the section line between sections 13 and 24, 14 and 23, 15 and 22, 16 and 21, 17 and 20 and 18 and 19, and laid the same over till the next quarterly meeting of the board." Then as of date March 7, 1859, there is this notation: "The board then took up the petition of sundry householders of German township for the creation of a new township to be composed of the southern part of German township and after some time spent in the consideration of the same the board adjourned till tomorrow morning at seven o'clock."

Two days later the matter was given final consideration, as shown by the following minute of the proceedings held on Wednesday, March 9 (1859): "The board again took up the petition of citizens of German township for the creation of a new township and being satisfied that said petition is signed by a majority of the householders residing within the boundary of said proposed change and that the notice required by law has been given, order that a new township be created out of the present township of German to be bounded as follows, to-wit: Beginning at the northeast corner of section 24, township 7 south, range 4 east, running thence west on the section line to the northwest corner of section 19, same township and range; thence south on the line dividing between Auglaize and Mercer counties to the old Indian boundary line; thence in a southeasterly course with said boundary line to the east line of section 7, township 8 south, range 4 east; thence north with said section line to the northeast corner of section 6, same township and range; thence east with the line between the counties of Shelby and Auglaize to the southeast corner of section 36, township 7 south, range 4 east; thence north with the section line to the place of beginning. And it is further ordered that said new township be known and designated by the name of Jackson."

BOUNDS OF THE TOWNSHIP.

Jackson township comprises sections 19 to 36, the south half of the original congressional township 7 south, range 4 east, and all of section 6 and all but a thin "wedge" of the north half of section 7 of township 8 south, range 4 east, which makes a "handle" at the southwest corner of the civil township. About one half a square mile lying in sections 35 and 36 of this township is covered by the waters of the Loramie reservoir, which extends up from Shelby county almost to the southern edge of the town of Minster and offers to the people of that section of the county delightful privileges for summer resorting and fishing. This township occupies the very summit of the "divide" which separates the waters north and south through this section of Ohio and the northern part of the township thus is drained into Lake Erie and the southern half into the Mississippi. To the natural drainage of the township an adequate system of ditches has been added and no part of the county is better drained than this, the landowners there long ago having made the most of the unusual natural advantages possessed by reason of this region's situation on the summit of the great watershed.

The township is bounded on the north by German township, on the east by Shelby county, on the south by Shelby and Darke counties and on the west by Mercer county. The town corporation of Minster, the only town in the township, covers a little more than a square mile lying in sections 26, 27, 34 and 35, with subdivisions extending on all sides, with the Miami & Erie canal cutting through the town north and south and on out into Shelby county one half mile south of the corporation line. The St. Marys-Minster division of the Lake Erie & Western railway has its southern terminus at Minster, as also has the St. Marys-Minster division of the Western Ohio electric railway. This latter road formerly ran its cars to Loramie, a couple of miles south in Shelby county, but some time ago discontinued that service, connections with the traction cars now being made by motor bus equipped to travel on the rails of the road. During the height of natural gas and oil activities hereabout, this part of the county profited largely by the considerable number of heavily productive wells brought in there.

MINSTER - OLD STALLO TOWN.

The town of Minster, the social and commercial center of Jackson township, dates from the coming of the Stallo colony of German immigrants up here from Cincinnati in the year 1833, contemporaneous with the Bremen colony which settled in that same year just three miles farther north. These lands at that time were a part of Mercer county and had been favorably investigated by Francis Joseph Stallo, a wealthy Cincinnati man, who became the leader in the organization of his fellow countrymen and homeseekers who had gathered at Cincinnati upon coming to this country and who authorized him to purchase a tract of land equivalent to one mile square, or 640 acres, and lay out thereon a town site, the company obligating itself to provide the funds for the entry of the land and the expenses incident to the laying out of the town. The fund thus created was entrusted to Stallo, who was authorized to enter the land in his own name, to select the town site and have the same platted into 144 lots, each of these lots to represent one share in the company. These plans were formulated during the summer of 1832 and Stallo immediately thereafter came north and at the land office at Piqua on September 8, 1832, entered the northeast quarter of section 34, the northwest quarter of section 35, the southeast quarter of section 27 and the southwest quarter of section 26 of township 7 south, range 4 east. He then reported back to his associates and a plat of this mile square was drawn up and lots cast for the apportionment of the lots to the members of the company, the drawer of each share to pay a ratable proportion of the expense to Stallo, who was to make and execute a deed in favor of each purchaser. It was this mutual plan that has given to the original plat of the town its unique character. The mile square was divided into 144 lots ranging east and west from Main street, the central north and south street, with Fourth street as the central east and west street, these lots being given index numbers from 1 to 144 and then divided into ten parts or lots, lettered respectively from a to j off of Main street on either side. It was estimated by the company that the price of each share in this company would be $8.50, and on April 14, 1833, the members of the company got together at Cincinnati and drew their respective allotments in accordance with this plan.

Minster will be celebrating its centennial in another ten years and one of its most highly prized exhibits on that occasion undoubtedly will be the carefully preserved original draft of the town plat "laid out from (sic) F. J. Stallo" in 1833 and which now is in the possession of C. H. Dickman, of Minster, who for years has had it in his charge. Mr. Dickman was born in a log cabin at the northwest corner of Main and Fifth streets, within one square of the immediate center of the town plat. In this cabin, one of the first to be erected in the village, it is said the first mass was celebrated when a mission church organization was effected there following the settlement of the colony. That cabin happily is still standing and is regarded as an equally priceless relic of pioneer days. Long ago it was worked over as to its interior and was given a sheathing of weatherboards, a new roof and other treatment to convert it into what now has the appearance of an ordinary cottage of that type, but the old logs are there underneath their covering and when centennial time comes no doubt still will be there to be pointed out to the descendants of the colonists who settled there in the wilderness one hundred years ago. The original draft of the town plat is on a prepared paper made up of superimposed sheets which give the appearance of vellum and apparently was drawn by the hand of a well skilled draftsman, who in ornamental letters headed his plat "Stallow's Town." Just how he came to make a misspell in the name of the townsite owner is not known, probably a phonetic error. From all other evidence Stallo never spelled his name with a w in it, as all other records carry the name without the w. This ancient document so well cared for by Mr. Dickman bears notation on the back as having been recorded in the office of recorder Riley of Mercer county on June 11, 1833.

PROVISIONS FOR PUBLIC SQUARES.

The original mile square of the town of Minster was provided with plots for "court house" and "market place" on Zweibruken street flanking Fourth street, the former of which, in the absence of the court house which the projectors of the town evidently hoped might come, is now prettily parked and in the center of which has been erected a substantial stone memorial bearing on a bronze plate the names of the young men from Jackson township who rendered service during the World war. The market place plot many years ago was used for the purpose intended and one of the first platform scales set up in this region stood there. Later, however, it was parked and is now filled with trees of noble growth. When the city erected its waterworks plant the south end of this plot was utilized as the site for the erection of the great water tank which now stands there. Just two squares to the east on Switzer street flanking Fourth street on either side other public plots were designated as sites for church and school. These, however, were so low and swampy when it came time to erect church and school that the present church and school square on Fifth street was selected for that purpose and there is general agreement now that the change was well made.

The plat was remarkable for its systematic uniformity and regularity. The east and west streets were numbered from First street to Seventh street and the north and south streets were named Ohio, Frieburg, Frankfort, Hanover, Zweibruken, Main, Switzer, Oldenburg, Vienna, Berlin and Paris, these numbered streets some years ago being changed by order of council to Clay, Washington, Jackson, Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, Roman and Adams, though to the older residents the olden nomenclature seems more familiar. When the canal came it cut through a little to the west of the center of the tier of blocks between Frieburg and Frankfort streets and of course very materially changed the course of commercial and industrial development that had begun to make itself manifest, the canal becoming a distinct line of demarkation between an East Side and a West Side, and business buildings and warehouses took their course accordingly. There are many of these old canal buildings remaining in the town and give a picturesqueness to the scene quite reminiscent of the older days. In the spring of 1838, five years after Stallo's Town was laid out, William Benner platted a tract of twenty acres on his farm on what is referred to on the old maps as the Amsterdam road, east and west through Minster, as a town site and called it Amsterdam, evidently in the hope that a town would there grow up, but the place never secured a permanent place on the map.

Francis J. Stallo did not live to participate in the fruition of his ambition as a town builder. He died a few months after the town site had been created and the colony established and as he held title to the land and had not executed deeds to the several lot owners and members of the company in interest there was considerable confusion in effecting title. For the purpose of securing title to purchasers of these lots a bill in chancery was filed in 1836 in the common pleas court of Mercer county, then sitting at St. Marys, by John Zimmer, B. J. Feldman, John H. Pelster, Joseph Surman and others, representing the shareholders, against John M. Stallo, Lewis Stallo, Mary Ann Stallo, Theodore Stallo and Theresa Stallo, heirs of Francis J. Stallo, to determine the rights of the shareholders. It then is narrated that "the defendants, the legal heirs of said Stallo, being infants, appeared by their guardian ad litem, when it was ordered by the court that the defendants as they became of age should severally, convey to said owners or original purchasers their respective lots of shares, and in their failure to do so within six months after attaining their majority, this decree is to operate as a conveyance." And thus individual title eventually was perfected.

HOW MINSTER GOT ITS NAME.

For some time after Stallo died the town continued to be known by its original name of Stallo's Town and it is said that the guide post at the intersection of the two highways bore the name in letters that the wayfarer could not mistake. One day, the tradition goes, the sign post was knocked over by a runaway team and was not replaced. About that time there sprang up a growing sentiment in favor of a change of name to Muenster, in honor of the old country town so dear to the memories of many of the residents of Stallo's Town, and by common consent the name was so changed, gradually coming to be Anglicised into the name of Minster, which was made the postoffice and which it was bearing officially at the time Auglaize county was erected in 1848. In 1837 certain changes were made in the survey of the original plat in order to effect a widening of some of the streets which gave promise of becoming commercially important, and still later the county commissioners added nine feet to the width of First and Seventh streets, the north and south bounds of the plat, making these roadways sixty feet in width. When the canal came along Francis Sprehe built a frame grist mill at the point where the canal feeder up from the Loramie reservoir crossed Fifth street, and this was properly the beginning of the industrial development of the place.

During the cholera scourge which swept up along the course of the canal in the late '40s and early '50s, the Minster settlement was especially hard hit. An older chronicle has it that "the people died so rapidly that immediate burial could not be given them. Theodore Dickman, then a lad of fourteen years, remembers counting twenty six coffins setting around in the hazel bushes in the cemetery south of town awaiting interment. Joseph Bussing, from three miles west of Minster, and a number of assistants came once a week and buried the accumulation of caskets. They buried them in deep trenches four tiers deep. * * * A remarkable feature of the epidemic was that its prevalence was confined to the village and township east of the canal. No case was reported west of that waterway."

COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT.

The 1920 census gives Minster a population of 1,538, From the days when it was but a cross roads town on the Piqua and St. Marys road and the Amsterdam road it has developed into a city of considerable industrial importance. The dominant feature of the town is the great St. Augustine's Catholic church, one of the most imposing bits of church architecture in northwestern Ohio and which with the neighboring parish house and convent makes one of the most notable church plants in this section of the state. It is said that there are not half a dozen Protestants in the town of Minster and this ecclesiastical ratio obtains pretty generally throughout Jackson township, St. Augustine's parish covering practically the whole township, with the exception of St. Joseph's parish in the Egypt neighborhood in the western part of the township.

During canal days Minster was widely known as a shipping point for grain and also as a pork packing center. The brewery that was established there many years ago put out a product that attained a good deal more than local distribution and its old familiar label was widely known. It is still in operation, carrying the old label on a "soft" drink of the time. Its hydraulic mill was equally widely known for the quality of its flour, its brick and tile kilns and its tannery were busy and in the days before the big timber was exhausted its sawmills were constantly busy. The town has had a newspaper since the middle '70s and the Post, which also maintains an excellent job printing plant, is a competent spokesman for the community. An old established creamery has for many years made Minster an important dairy center, and there is a machine shop there, whose specialty is drill presses and such like heavy machinery, that is one of the largest single employers of labor in the county. Besides the flour mill there is a box factory, a well equipped branch of a nationally known cigar factory and minor industries, while the commercial interests of the town are amply represented. The town has one bank, the Minster State Bank, organized in 1914, the president of which is J. W. Elting; vice president, O. E. Dunan; cashier, August Schunk, and assistant cashier, J. T. Haverbeck. This bank is capitalized at $25,000 and according to the current bankers directory has resources in excess of $450,000, with surplus and profits amounting to $33,060 and deposits aggregating $437,660.

Traditionally, Jackson township is a "rock ribbed" Democratic township. For years, it is said, no Republican votes were cast in the township. Then, the story goes, one year the election judges found a Republican ballot in the ballot box. They were astonished, of course. Nothing like this had ever happened before. They did not know of any Republicans in the township and therefore came to the conclusion that someone had cast, the ballot by accident and threw it out. The next year, so the tale goes, two Republican ballots were found. Supposing this was a case simply of two accidents instead of one, the judges threw both of these out. The next year three ballots were treated in the same fashion, but when in the following year four ballots were found, it was decided that there hardly could have been four identical "mistakes" on the part of well meaning but careless Democrats and the ballots were counted, even as Republican ballots ever since have been counted.


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