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

WAYNE TOWNSHIP AND THE VILLAGE OF WAYNESFIELD.

Wayne township, in the northeastern corner of Auglaize county, is made up of sections 1 to 24 and half of sections 25-30 of township 5 south, range 8 east, and thus contains twenty seven square miles. It is bounded on the north by Allen county, on the east by Hardin county, on the south by Goshen township and on the west by Union township and is traversed in the southwest part by the Ohio Electric railway, which enters in section 7 and out in section 29, passing through the village of Waynesfield on the Wapakoneta-Waynesfield pike, this village cornering in sections 17, 18, 19 and 20, the only village in the township, though the hamlet of Holden (old Fletchers Chapel), in Hardin county, extends over into this township in section 13. The township is drained by the Auglaize river, which has its headwaters here; by Willow branch, a tributary of the Miami, and Wallace Fork, a tributary of the Sciota, with Wrestle creek rising here in the western part of the county, and thus has ample outlet for the effective system of drainage ditches which were found necessary in pioneer days to bring a considerable part of the land here under cultivation. The surface of the township consists of numerous ridges extending from west to east and the lands between these moraines are of great fertility. The east prairie is divided between this and Goshen township.

An older review sets out that "the pioneers who selected land adjacent to the prairie were more fortunate than those who entered lands farther west in the township, as the prairie produced an abundance of hay in the summer and early pasture in the spring. It has cost large sums of money to bring the prairie under cultivation. There are many miles of ditches in it, cut from ten to thirteen feet in width and from four to seven feet in depth." In this same connection it further was observed that "all the territory adjacent to the Sciota Marsh and prairie had for ages been a veritable paradise for the Indian hunter. Innumerable waterfowl of many varieties visited the marsh and prairie in the spring and fall and of fur bearing animals, the beaver, otter, mink, raccoon and muskrat, there was a never failing supply for the trapper. The timbered land abounded in such game as deer, bear, wild turkey and pheasant. The pioneers, like the aborigines, depended for a number of years upon the chase for a large part of their subsistence. It was no uncommon event for a frontiersman to kill as many as six or eight deer in a day. Of turkeys and smaller game, more could be taken than could be consumed."

THE BEGINNING OF SETTLEMENT.

The lands now comprised within Wayne township began to attract the attention of settlers as early as in 1831 and within two or three years thereafter there had come to be a sufficient settlement here to warrant a demand for a separate civil township and in 1834 the township was erected, it then having been attached to Allen county, and was named in honor of Gen. Anthony Wayne. The first election was held in the house of Samuel Mocraft in April, 1834, and it is said that thirteen votes were cast. James Mahin, who had settled there the year before, was elected the first justice of the peace and Richard Berry, Allen Gilmore and Josiah Dawson the first trustees. The first school building was put up two years later and the first term of school in the township was taught in the winter of 1836-7 by Asa It Mahin. Hopewell Methodist church was organized about three years later and Wallace Fork Methodist Protestant church was organized about the same time, these movements marking the beginning of the social development of the community. At first the wretched condition of the roads, little more than trails through the woods and over the prairies, and the long hauls necessary to make connection with a milling and trading point worked a hardship upon the settlers, but they got through, gradually working out their own salvation, until in time the lands were prepared for cultivation, market places arose to meet the increasing demands of settlement and the present orderly and comfortable system was evolved, the progress since the middle '70s having been little short of amazing.

A chronicle of the '70s says in this connection that "F. A. Berry, a son of Richard Berry, who settled in 1834, says the first settlers suffered many privations. Provisions for the families and grain for the stock had to be brought from Logan and Champaign counties, which made toilsome trips, as the roads were bad. The Bellefontaine and Lima road was not cleared all the way and there was no bridge between the north fork of the Miami river and Lima. After there was grain enough raised for bread they had to go to Cherokee to mill, a distance of fifteen miles, which would require two or three days. After they succeeded in raising wheat for sale it had to be hauled to Portland (now Sandusky) or Lower Sandusky (now Fremont). It took about eight days to make the trip and wheat sold for 50 to 60 cents a bushel. It was the only way they had to get money to pay their taxes and get coffee, salt and other necessaries for their families. Sugar was made at home. Deer and coons were plentiful and were the principal meats of the early settlers, as wild turkeys were scarce. The first settlers had a great deal of trouble with their stock, there being no pasture for them except the wild woods, which was common to all."

It is recalled that in the days of the open woods range for stock, each farmer would have a special mark or brand for his stock and cattle and hogs with slit or notched ears, cut in a variety of designs to suit the fancy of the owner, would serve to establish ownership, particularly of the hogs, when these latter would be rounded up for the long drive to market. The sleek, round hog of today is of course a distant cousin of the half wild "razor backs" and "elm peelers" that roamed the woods living on mast in the days of the pioneers.

THE PIONEERS OF WAYNE TOWNSHIP.

When this county was erected there were, according to the tax duplicate for the year 1848, the following landowners in Wayne township: Thomas Atkinson, Richard Anderson, E. G. Atkinson, Nathan, Joseph and Lyman Ballard, R. D. Bradin, Abraham Buck, John Burget, Aaron D., John C. and Richard Berry, H. S. Bowdle, Sampson Buffenbarger, James G., Jesse L., Joseph and David L. Bowdle, John Clinging, Richard Campbell, James Coleman, William Cox, Samuel Cavender, Thomas Call, John W. and Richard Cramer, Michael Cover, Eli Crawford, Aaron, Newton, Jonathan, Isaac S., Isaac, Joseph, John R. and Joseph H. Dawson, Josiah, Charity, Arthur C. A., D., John and Amaziah Davison, William R. Dean, Isaac Evans, David and Daniel Ellsworth, John Erwin, John Gossard, Henry Gilroy, Allen Gilmer, Robert Grant, Peter Hippert James Hattery, Alexander Hutchinson, Jacob Hullinger, Israel Helphrey, Daniel Holley, Gilbert Hurley, Jr., Robert Hopecraft, Rachael Harrod, Wesley Hendershot, Elijah Harrod, Jacob Harrod, Jacob Harrod II, Martha Harrod, Sanford Harrod, Ann Maria Inskipp, William Jett, Allen Justice, Marinus King, Jacob Klingman, John and David Kirkpatrick, Edward and William Kearnes, Thomas Kilberry, John Kent, Sarah Ann Lacy, William Lewis, Jacob Ludwig, Samuel Lowman, Benjamin and Richard C. Morris, John Miller, Ira McIntire, Alexander, Mordecai and William Madden, Duncan McGehon, George Meyers, E. McBeth, David Meyers, James Mahin, Jr., Samuel McGovern, Asa R. and James E. Mahin, G. T. McLaughlin, Jacob McPherson, Joseph Morrow, Levi Mix, Jacob Meyers, Joseph Miles, Andrew and Elisha McCoy, Steely Meeks, William Marsh, George G. Moore, John F. Meyer, Abraham Newland, St. Leger Neal, Aaron Owen, James Parks, Colby C. and William Pepple, Thomas Pearce, Henry Payne, William Pearce, Jr., John Perry, Solomon Rudy, George Robinson, Byrd Richardson, Jacob Rudy, Sr., John Ridley, Moses Ross, Mathew Stewart, Jr., William Smith, Robert Sprowle, A. J. Starkey, Preserved Smith, Alexander Templeton, Lee Turner, William Thompson, John and William Whetstone, A. W. Winegardner, Robert Wallace, John Ward, Hiram White, Samuel Williams, Nathan Woodbury, Jacob Williams, Harris Wells, Henry Whetstone, John M. Walcott and John Zaner.

EVAN ATKINSON'S TOWN OF WAYNESFIELD.

The village of Waynesfield, mentioned above and the only village in Wayne township, was laid out by Evan G. Atkinson the year in which Auglaize county was erected and the plat of this townsite was filed for record on July 1, 1848. This plat was a tract covering three blocks and containing twenty four lots, bounded on the north by Perry street, on the east by Atkinson alley, on the south by Ohio street and on the west by Hickory alley, with Wapakoneta street (the east and west highway) cutting the plat through east and west and Westminster street cutting it through north and south. Mr. Atkinson had established a wayside store there and as settlement increased began to realize that there would be a need for a general commercial and social center, so he provided a townsite which he thought would prove advantageous for location, about midway between Wapakoneta and Kenton. Two or three years later a postoffice was established there, on the St. Marys Kenton post route, the settlers thereabout having previously had to go to St. Johns to make inquiry for such mail as might be addressed to them. Mr. Atkinson was the first postmaster and; served during the Civil war period, continuing his service on up to 1867. The Bennetts started their mill, a combined saw and grist mill, at Waynesfield about 1860 and also later became engaged in the mercantile business, T. S. Bennett serving as postmaster from 1867 to 1874.

Two church organizations, the Baptists and the Methodist Protestants, early effected associations at Waynesfield, the schools became well organized and it was not long until the village began to find that it had a real field to fill. With the coming of the electric railway a new impetus was given to development and the town has continued to grow until the recent census has given it a population of 584. The Waynesfield Chronicle has for years admirably represented the village abroad and in addition to the usual complement of stores and local industries the town has two banks, the Citizens Banking Company and the Farmers Commercial Bank. The Citizens Banking Company, organized in 1904, is capitalized at $25,000 and according to the current bankers directory shows surplus and profits amounting to $38,160, deposits aggregating $233,000 and resources in excess of $300,000. The president of this bank is Frank Day; vice president, W. H. Butcher, and cashier, G. R. Wells. The Farmers Commercial Bank, which was organized in 1913 with a capitalization of $25,000, shows according to the above authority, surplus and profits amounting to $6,380; deposits aggregating $143,380 and resources of about $170,000. The president of this bank is H. S. Chapman; vice president, P. E. Blank, and cashier, J. A. Bowdle.

Waynesfield covers an incorporated area of about one and one half square miles and "perhaps has a greater per capita incorporated area than any other village or city in the state, covering practically the same area as the city of St. Marys." A very pretty compliment was paid the town in the recent Meyer atlas of Auglaize county, which observed in connection with a survey of the town that it "is the most progressive village of its size that has come under the notice of the writer." And Mr. Meyer knows what goes to make a good town.

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