History of Adams Township, Champaign County, OH

From: History of Champaign County, Ohio
Judge Evan P. Middleton, Supervising Editor
B. F. Bowen & Company Inc. (Publisher)
Indianapolis, Indiana 1917


Adams township was the last township to be organized in Champaign county and dates its civil organization from 1828. The territory now comprised within its limits was a part of Mad river township when the county was organized in 1805 and later became a part of Johnson township, remaining a part of the latter township until it was set off as a separate civil organization in 1828. It is the extreme northwestern township of the county and is bounded by Logan and. Shelby counties on the north and west, respectively, by Johnson township on the south and Harrison township on the east. It falls within township 3, ranges 12 and 13, having two tiers of sections of range 12 and three tiers of range 13. The thirty sections contain approximately nineteen thousand two hundred acres.


The township is in the Mad river basin, the southern and western portions draining largely through Mosquito creek and its tributaries, while the northern and eastern portions fall within the watershed drained by Lees creek. The highest part of the township is found in the southeastern part, the topographical survey recording an altitude of eleven hundred and seventy six feet at the crossing of the roads on the line dividing sections 5 and n. The southern part of the township is decidedly rolling. In the southwest corner, along Mosquito creek, there was formerly such a widening of the creek that it was not inappropriately called a lake. There are many springs of excellent water scattered over the township, some of them being of the sulphur variety, particularly those along Lees creek.


The township for various reasons was not settled until several years after the other townships had become fairly well filled with settlers. The dense forests, the broken land along the watercourses, and the fact that it was entered by people who did not live on it are contributing facts which help to explain the lateness of its settlement. The choice of a name for the new township indicates that the petitioners for the township, or the commissioners granting the petition, were followers of John Quincy Adams, who was a candidate for the presidency the year the township was organized.

Many years before the township had a separate existence a few courageous settlers had ventured into its forbidding precincts. A Virginian by the name of Asahel Wilkinson is credited with being the first permanent settler with the limits of what is now Adams township. He located in section 14 along Lees creek, but it was probably some time before he entered land. There is no deed record in section 14 for several years after Wilkinson is said to have established himself along Lees creek in that section. However, Wilkinson remained in the township and eventually became a considerable landowner, many of his descendants still residing in the township.

Many stories are told of this first settler in Adams township, and one of them may be repeated in this connection. When he came to the county he had two hundred dollars in cash - in silver coin - and for safety he decided to hide it in a stump near his house. On one occasion, shortly after the money had been placed in the stump, a body of Indians camped near the Wilkinson home and one afternoon the Indians used the stump as the background for a target. Mrs. Wilkinson watched with trepidation the Indians shooting at the stump and then examining to see whether they had hit their target, thinking all the time that they might accidentally uncover the money, but her fears were soon allayed, for the Indians soon tired of shooting and left without discovering the money.


It was not until near the close of the War of 1812 that additional settlers began to come into the township. A study of the deed records in the county recorder's office fails to show who were the first settlers in the township; at least, the record fails to show very few in the township before the thirties. There was considerable land open for entry in the middle of the thirties, although by that time it was largely entered from the State of Ohio, and not the United States.

The records show that Joel Harbour deeded a quarter section in section 6 to Henry Ritter in 1813; this deed is the earliest on record in the township. There is no way of telling when Harbour entered the land, but he had evidently entered the maximum amount of land and even secured land from others who had entered but had not been able to make their payments. Harbour and Samuel W. Davis were the largest of the early landowners in the township. No one now living seems to be able to recall this man Davis, but he figured extensively in the official records of Adams township in its early history. On August 8, 1820, Davis deeded to the United States Bank eight quarter sections in as many different sections of the township. How he came to get the land, how the United States Bank got control of it, or who Davis was are some of the questions which remain unanswered.

Among other settlers before the twenties may be named the following: Richard Southgate and Archibald Irwin are identified with section 7 by 1819; Samuel Curry entered a quarter section in 13 in 1815, but it does not seem that he settled on the land; William McCroskey settled in section 5 in 1816, and received his patent for the northeast quarter of this section on February 7, 1817; Daniel Neal had settled in the eastern part of Champaign county some years prior to his location in Adams township in 1813 on section 36; Silas Johnson, after whom Johnson township was later named, settled on section 31 with his son Walker, in 1818.


It has been previously stated that Adams township was not sufficiently attractive to induce prospective settlers to pay two dollars an acre for its land, when much better land could be secured at the same price. The township was very swampy in many places and remained so for several years. Until after the Civil War there was a large amount of forested land in the township, and within the memory of many residents of 1917 half of the township was covered with a dense forest, while scattered here and there were extensive swamps and swails. The first few settlers located on the high ground and they had the township largely to themselves until after 1830. The first half of the twenties saw very few settlers coming for permanent settlement, and it was not until after the organization of the township in 1828 that there was any material increase in their number. The period from 1825 to 1830 brought the following settlers: Isaac Curl, Levi Valentine, William Terrell, William Calland, Erastus Kinnon, James Lockridge, Samuel Anderson, John Cunningham, and families representing the Clarks, Halls, Remleys, Espys, Newcombs, Shanleys and McAlexanders.

During the thirties the township saw several other families locating in the township, among whom may be mentioned the following: J. R. Anderson, E. Sargent, C. C. Wooley, Jasper Scott, William Lichliter, E. Mart; Henry Wilson and Christian Hurst. The Speece and Stephenson families also came in during this decade. The two decades prior to the Civil War brought in the families of R. H. Pickering, D. Clark, Elisha Yost, John Hoover, George Stable, H. B. Persinger, Z. P. Zayre, John Schaefer, F. M. Lemon, John Robinson, John Blose, Peter Weimer and George R. Kizer. The population of the township in 1840 was nine hundred and seventy; in 1850 it had increased to eleven hundred and twenty three; the next decade (1850-60) saw it increased to only twelve hundred and sixty three. Slow as was this increase for the period from 1840 to 1860, it is interesting to note that in 1870 it had actually dropped off to twelve hundred and thirty eight. The population for each decade since 1880 follows: 1880, 1,445; 1890, 1,461; 1900, 1,406; 1910, 1,293.


The early settlement was seriousfy retarded by the wretched roads leading into the township. William Calland, Sr., who came to the township in 1829 was compelled to cut part of his path from Spring Hills to the tract he had purchased. There was at best only a blazed trail through the woods, and of course there were no bridges to be found any place in the township. The township in 1830 was practically an unbroken wilderness, with here and there a spot of ground where some courageous settler had cleared a patch for a little corn and tobacco. Very few of the settlers who came to the township prior to the war had any money; most of them expected to make sufficient from their farm to pay for it, and when they could not meet their payments, their more fortunate neighbors took the land off their hands. A traveler over the township in the first half of the thirties would have seen mostly log cabins; the few frame houses were looked upon as mansions. The first brick house was erected by William Ritter in 1835, but since that year scores of brick dwelling houses have sprung up in all parts of the township.


It is not certain when the first saw and grist mill made its appearance in the township, but one Joseph Eiker had what was commonly known as a "corn-cracker" on Mosquito creek in section 29 as early as 1831. Probably the next grist mill was in the extreme northeast corner of the township (section 3), which is known to have been in operation by John Merrill by the middle of the thirties. These two mills, together with one on Lees creek, run by one of the Lees, were all water power mills. The official records state that William Terrell had a saw mill in section 5, which lie sold to Flemen Hall in 1852, the mill being later transferred to George R. Kizer. Terrell was also the owner of a saw mill in section 12, which he sold in 1852. Other mills dating from Civil War days were found in sections 15 and 33, but all of these have long since disappeared. There have been no flour mills in the township since the latter part of the seventies. It should be mentioned that there is a record of at least one tannery in the township. It was located in section 29 and was operated by a man by the name of Coverton. He opened it as early as 1829 and it served a period of usefulness to the community and then was discontinued forever. Very few of the younger generation have ever seen a tannery and as a matter of fact many of the shoes they wear today have never seen one.

The names of a number of the early settlers of the township have been given, and several of them have Seen noticed in the chapters relating to other townships. The many stories which always gather about the settlement of a township are not lacking in the case of Adams township. It had its share of Indians, bear, and deer stories and they do not differ much from the same kind of stories to be heard in connection with other townships. A few facts concerning some of the early settlers are given in the succeeding paragraphs.


Ashabel Wilkinson, generally considered the first permanent settler in the township, was born in Harrison county, Virginia, September 16, 1776, and married Charlotte Ragen. They had four children when they left Virginia in 1811 for Champaign county and Adams township. They were accompanied to the state by several other families from their old neighborhood, but none of them settled in Adams township. The whole family rode on pack horses and some of the saddles used on the long journey are still in possession of the Wilkinson family. Ashabel Wilkinson entered a quarter section in section 14 and in the rude log cabin which he hastily threw up, Henry H. Wilkinson, the first white child born in the township, made his appearance in the township on April 2, 1813. The first wife of Wilkinson died in 1819 and two years later he married Nancy James. He died on February 23, 1861.

The second permanent settler in Adams township was Henry Ritter, who is recorded as having bought one hundred and sixty acres from Joel Harbour in 1813. Born in Kentucky he came to Ohio when a young man and located near Chillicothe, where he was living at the outbreak of the War of 1812. He served at the front and was mustered out with the rank of captain. In 1813 he came to Champaign county and founded a home for himself on section 6 of Adams township and shortly afterward found a wife in the person of Elizabeth Harbour to share the cabin with him. This rude log cabin continued to be their home until 1835 when he erected the first brick house in the township. This worthy couple became the parents of nine children. Ritter died in 1860 on the farm where he settled in 1813.

The third permanent settler in Adams township is supposed to have been Daniel Neal, a native of Maryland, born in that state in 1773. The year 1801 found Neal in Virginia and three years later he turned up in Ohio in what is now the eastern part of Champaign county. For ten years he remained in the eastern part of the county and in that decade accumulated some property, a wife, five children and a desire to better his condition by entering as large a tract as he could afford. He entered a quarter of section 36, paying two dollars an acre for it, and moved on his new purchase in 1814. When the township was organized in 1828 he became one of the first trustees. He and his wife had seven children before his death in 1840. His widow survived him twenty years.


William McCroskey was one of the few settlers to locate in the township before 1820. The record shows that he received a patent from the United States for the northeast quarter of section 5 on February 7, 1817. Born in Kentucky, he was violently opposed to slavery and, in order to escape conditions as they existed near his boyhood home, he left his native state in 1816, came through Cincinnati, bought "sight unseen" the tract above described in Adams township, and drove on through with his family and their meager household effects to their new home. He lived to have a fine home in the township before his death in 1856.

In the fall of the same year (1817) George Halterman and his brother, Peter, came from Virginia to the county and entered a quarter of section 18. They made the trip from Virginia to this county on horesback, passing through Cincinnati to enter their land. George Halterman worked on his tract until 1821 before he permanently located on it, having by that time built a substantial cabin, cleared several acres, and got things ready for his young wife. In the summer of 1821 he brought his wife and their baby, Ella, to the new home. The wife died in 1838 and he married a second time. He continued to reside on the farm where he first settled until his death in 1867.

Walker Johnson, another of the earliest settlers of Adams township, was born in Fayette county, Kentucky, August 23, 1787, came to this township before 1820 and lived here until his death, January 23, 1870. He married Sarah McCroskey, April 15, 1824, and to this union were born eight children.

Silas Johnson, father of Walker, above noted, came from Kentucky to Millerstown, Champaign county, Ohio, about 1803. He was a spy during the Revolutionary War and performed faithful and dangerous service for his country. In 1805 when the land was surveyed he found himself on a school section and accordingly was compelled to move. He then moved into what is now Johnson township. That he was a prominent man is indicated by the fact that the township later organized out of this part of the county was named in his honor. He lived in Johnson township (section 13) from 1805 to 1818, and then moved into the present Adams township, and located on section 31. Here he lived only about a year, dying in 1819 at the age of sixty.

William Calland, born in Scotland, March 8, 1784, came with his wife and three children to America in 1817 and lived along the Susquehanna during the winter of 1817-18. The spring of 1818 he decided to take his family to the far West and with this idea in view he purchased as large a wagon as one horse could pull and loaded in it all of his worldly possessions. They had one chest of goods weighing nine hundred pounds and another of smaller dimensions containing provisions for the journey. They started out after the weather had settled in the spring and finally reached Noble county, Ohio, where they lived until 1829. In that year the family came to Champaign county; and settled on section 14 of Adams township. Calland accumulated a large tract of land before his death on January 8, 1864. His wife died on March 15, 1869. He has the distinction of having cast the first vote for an Abolitionist candidate for President in his township. They left a family of six children and his sons, Samuel, Gershom and Joseph Calland, became among the wealthiest farmers in the township.


Elihu Wooley, born in New Jersey in 1789, left his native state in 1814 for Butler county, Ohio. He had married Ellen Conover in 1810 and they had some children before leaving New Jersey. They lived in Butler county until 1836 and then came to Adams township and located in section 36 where Wooley died in 1855, his wife dying in 1871. They were the parents of eight children, one of whom, Charles C., was a township trustee for more than a score of years.

In 1831 Philip Dick came from Pickaway county, Ohio, to Adams township and made his home on section 13 until his death in 1872 at the age of eighty two. His wife. Nancy, lived to be nearly a hundred years old. They had two sons, Elisha and A. W., who became substantial farmers in the township. Another Virginia farmer was Samuel Huling, who came to the township in 1839 and purchased one hundred and fifty eight acres in section 30, near the present village of Carysville. He died in 1849 and his wife seven years later, leaving three sons - James, Samuel M. and Henry.

The Curl family have been identified with Adams township for three quarters of a century. Isaac Curl, the first of the family to locate in this township, settled in township 15, and was an influential factor in the township for the thirty years that he made it his home. Two of his sons, Lewis and Isaac, remained as substantial farmers of the township.

The first German farmer in the township was G. W. Baker, a native of Lotheringia, a soldier of the German army for seven years, who came to America in 1849, landing at New Orleans. He had saved his money while serving as guardsman in the army. When he arrived in this country he worked a while at New Orleans and a year later came to Champaign county, Ohio, to make his permanent home. He bought a quarter of section 26 and on this he and his young bride went to housekeeping in an old cabin whose crevices exposed them to the blasts of winter. They moved into a commodious new home in 1855. When Baker died he owned three hundred and eighty acres. He and his wife had two children.

The Shafer family is represented by more than one hundred representatives in Champaign county today. The progenitor of this large number of Shafers in the county was John Shafer, born in Wurtemberg in 1815. Marrying Catherine Howalt in 1846, he came to America in 1852 with his wife and three children - Ludwig, Barbara and Christina. A trip of forty two days landed them in New York city and they at once started for Ohio. Christina died at Buffalo, but the family came on West and in the fall of 1852 arrived in Champaign county where they located on section 15 in Adams township. Shafer and his wife left a family of several children, most of whom settled in Mad River township. They were all members of the German Evangelical church and were large factors in the Lutheran churches in southwestern part of Mad River township.


While separate chapters deal with the educational and religious life of the township, it may he mentioned that there were a number of school houses and churches established before the township was organized in 1828. The first log school house was built about 1821 in section 6 and Samuel Bates, a neighboring farmer, acted as the first pedagogue. It seems that his education was restricted to the rudiments of "readin', 'ritin' an' rithmetic," but at least he could teach this much. About 1825 the second school building came into existence and by the time the township was organized there were four districts organized. Year by year new buildings and districts were added until finally the township had seven school districts with as many buildings.

The first house of worship was erected by the United Brethren people in section 31 and this church is now one of the strongest United Brethren churches in the rural districts of the state. Other churches of this denomination were established in sections 33, 27 and 6. The records show that the church lot in section 6 was sold on March 28, 1900, to John M. Chambers, the lot having been originally purchased on December 29, 1853. The church in section 27 has been discontinued. The congregation of the Christian church adjoining the village of Carysville purchased their lot on April 18, 1854, from Alexander Cisco. The people of the Methodist church in the north central part of section 20 bought their lot on February 16, 1861. About the middle of the seventies the German Baptists erected a building in the extreme northeastern part of the township on the farm of Christian Hurst.


The town site of Carysville, which was laid out as Trenton, located in section 29, township 3, range 12, consisting of thirty two lots, was platted for Calvin Cary, proprietor, January 14, 1830. Three additions have been made to the original plat, the first one being on July 20, 1835, containing twelve lots; the second, December 24, 1850, consisting of nine lots; the third October 13, 1884, of four lots. Among the first to purchase a lot and build a house was William Valentine. His house was a two story log building and was "raised" by the united efforts of the entire community. The second house was built by John Beatty. The first brick residence in the growing village was built by Robert R. Green, and it later became the village tavern.

The first industrial enterprise in the village was a tannery which was built and managed by a colored man of the name of Benjamin Wilson. He continued in business for many years, but his business met with the same fate as did many others of a similar sort along with the advance of time. With the first inhabitants in the village came the blacksmith shop, the first smith being a man named Holden.

The village was laid out as "Trenton," but when application was made for the establishment of a postoffice, it was found that there was another postoffice of the same name in the state. Thereupon the village was rechristened Carysville in honor of the founder, and has ever since retained that name. The village is one of a number in the county which has never had more than two or three stores, a blacksmith shop, a church and a dozen or more dwelling houses. The fact that it is not on a railroad and that the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton railroad missed the village when it went through the township in 1893, has made it impossible for the village to become a center of any importance. The railroad, as it was finally built, ran about one mile east of Carysville, although it is a mile and a half by road to the railroad station at Rosewood.

Among the early business enterprises of the village may be mentioned the general stores of T. H. Heston and A. F. Lichlider and the furniture store and general wood working establishment of Joseph Hensler. James Huling erected a saw mill in the village in 1867 and it was the only milling industry of any importance the place has ever had. Later, John L. Bodey had a general store and E. F. Terrell had a grocery. John Miller conducted a wagon shop and John O'Leary was the village blacksmith for many years. Hensler & Bodey were associated in the furniture and undertaking business in the eighties. S. M. Seeley was in the saddlery and harness business (luring the seventies and eighties, and one of his contemporaries in the leather business was E. B. Sturm, who was engaged in the making of boots and shoes. The village carpenters were William Scott, John Van Horn and Samuel Halterman. Dr. H. B. Hunt was the only physician in the village during the seventies and eighties.

The business interests for 1917 include two general stores. one conducted by Martz Brothers and the other by L. F. Perk. A blacksmith shop is operated by George Poornian. Thomas Cain, a colored man, was the last postmaster of the village.


An incident has been handed down in the history of the village concerning a political meeting within its quiet precincts in the fall of 1840. This was the famous "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" campaign which will stand as the most spectacular the country has ever seen. The Whigs of Harrison township on this particular day had a buckeye cabin on a wagon and the display was the pride of the Whiggers of the township. It must have been a handsome piece of cabin architecture if we may judge of the envy it aroused it the hearts of the Democrats. On this day both parties were to have a rally in Carysville; one Hamilton was to set forth the glories of the Democratic party, while the principles of the Whigs were appropriately explained by one Hayes. The rival political camps gathered around their respective speakers and so intense became the feeling that it seemed something would happen.

And it did. The handsome Whig cabin, for some Democratic reason, all at once slid from its foundation on the wagon bed. The something had happened. Within an incredibly short time there was a wonderful conglomerate mixture of Whigs and Democrats around that cabin. It is needless to say that the cabin was soon a thing of the past, and the Democrats took a keen delight in using parts of it in belaboring the heads of their Whig neighbors. The Democratic warriors won the battle, the Whigs slowly retreating, carrying off their wounded in as graceful a manner as possible. History does not record what happened to the Democrats at their next rally in Carysville.


Another Carysville political story. In the heat of the 1863 campaign a Republican speaker came to Carysville and in the course of his speech roundly denounced the citizens who were not as patriotic as he thought they ought to be. The Democrats became violent and threatened dire things; numerous street encounters were staged and for several days it seemed that trouble would be sure to follow the speech; one man was shot and many more were threatened with their lives. The Democrats were ordered to hang a flag out of their windows, and the Republicans gave formal notice that all who did not decorate their homes with a flag would be destroyed by fire. A company of home guards were hurried out to the village from Urbana and were compelled to make several arrests. Long years after there was still a distinct remembrance of this bloody week in the minds of the old citizens of Carysville.


The village has never been incorporated for the reason that it could never get enough inhabitants at any one time to justify incorporation. This has placed the village under the control of the township authorities and has left the village itself in a measure unable to cope with petty misdemeanors committed in its midst. If the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton railroad had only passed through the village the latter might have grown to be of corporate size, but it is now only waiting for the clay when its last store will hand out the last pound of sugar. For economic reasons its days are numbered. It is certain that Rosewood, located on the railroad, is bound to attract the trade of the community. He who writes the history of Adams township in 2017 will be compelled to say that a century ago, farther back than the oldest inhabitant can remember, there was a village of the name of Carysville in that township.


The village of Rosewood, located on sections 18 and 24, Adams township. sprang into existence in 1893 when the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton railroad was being built through this section of the county. What is now the village site was at that time a part of the farm of Miles Archer, who had sufficient foresight to see the probability of a thriving village at that point. Accordingly a village site was laid out and platted and given the name of Rosewood.

To John M. Birkhold is given the credit of erecting the first building of any kind on the village site. He was visionary enough to see that a store at this point would be a paying proposition. It occurred to him that since the roads crossed at this place and the farming community was of the very best that no better location could be secured. At that time he was living on his farm, a short distance from the crossroads and had never had any experience in the mercantile business. However, he had faith in his own judgment and set about to buy a lot for the purpose of erecting a store building. He succeeded in purchasing lot 1, which at the time was a potato patch, and for which he paid the sum of fifty dollars. Immediately he began the erection of the building that is now standing on the lot, and which he rented to Charles Espy until in December, 1894. Birkhold then took charge of the store and with the assistance of his sons has continued in the business ever since. The second storekeeper in the village was James Pickering, but his place of business are changed ownership many times. The village has grown until there are about three hundred inhabitants, all of whom are law abiding and industrious citizens. The village has more than a local reputation as a stock market and the statement is made upon good authority that Rosewood is the best shipping point on the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton between Lima and Springfield. The business interests are those characteristic of the average village and include the following: Birkhold Brothers, general store; Bowers & Slagel, saw mill; Buroker Brothers, general store; Bowers & Clark, garage; Clyde Blackford, meat market and general store; Covault & Coval, blacksmith shop; Daniel Clark, barber; C. F. Houseman. blacksmith shop; John Huffman, tiling, fencing, etc.; Mrs. Mary Lichlider, milliner; John Nichol, barber; Proctor & Sturgeon, implements; Rosewood Grain Company, grain; A. M. Wooley & Son, restaurant and store, and Dr. W. A. Yinger, physician.


After the village gave every assurance of becoming a local commercial center, application for a postoffice was made by John M. Birkhold. Although living in another township he was appointed postmaster in April, 1894. However, he was forced to become a resident of the village in order to hold the position, which he filled for four years. He was succeeded by J. M. Buroker who held the office for a term of four years, and was followed by James W. Pickering. C. F. Houseman was the next postmaster and he was succeeded by M. R. Geyer who was appointed on January 1, 1909, and who served until March 13, 1913, when O. F. Birkhold, the present incumbent, received the appointment. In 1910 the rural community was given the advantages of a rural route from this office.

The first religious services in the village were held in the school house and were conducted by Reverend Yeisley, of the Reformed church at St. Paris. The building was crowded to its capacity and the minister was so pleased that he stated it was his intention to conduct services with regularity and ultimately form a Reformed church at this point. However, in the meantime, members of the United Brethren churches at Carysville and Antioch were active in forming a union of the two societies and finally located a church at Rosewood in 1899. Realizing that the village and the community could not support two churches, the idea of organizing a Reformed church was finally abandoned by the man who has the distinction and honor of having conducted the first religious service in the village.

The village has always been fortunate in having a township school almost within its limits. The school house that was used when the village was laid out is now used for storage purposes. As the village grew larger a new school house was erected, the same now being used as a garage. This building was occupied until the erection of the present building, which is a model of its kind and a tribute to the untiring and successful efforts of its present superintendent. A startling incident occurred in Rosewood in 1913, when an explosion of an acetyline gas plant in the house of J. M. Buroker completely destroyed that house. Happily no one was killed.

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