History of Concord Township, Champaign
From: History of Champaign County, Ohio
Judge Evan P. Middleton, Supervising Editor
B. F. Bowen & Company Inc. (Publisher)
Indianapolis, Indiana 1917
Concord township was a part of the original Mad River township which had been organized in 1805 and was set
off from that township in 1811. The exact date of its organization by the commissioners is lost, but the record
of an election held on October 8, 1811, furnishes indisputable proof that the township was in existence at that
time. It is more than probable that it was created in that same year and that the election on the date mentioned
was the first held in the township. Another point of uncertainty concerns the original limits of the township.
The earliest record in the commissioners' minutes gives the boundaries of the township as it existed in 1817, but
whether this was its original limits, or its limits as changed between the date of its organization and 1817, are
facts which can only be ascertained from the commissioners' records. Their absence, therefore, makes it impossible
to state with certainty what the limits of the township were prior to 1817.
POLL BOOK OF CONCORD TOWNSHIP, OCTOBER 8, 1811.
Poll Book of the election held in Concord township, in the county of Champaign, on the eighth day of October, A. D., one thousand eight hundred and eleven. Sampson Talbot, Thomas Stretch and Joseph Hill, Judges; William Stretch and Daniel Jackson, Clerks, of this election, were severally sworn as the law directs, previous to their entering on the duties of their respective offices.
NAMES OF ELECTORS.
Felix Rock, Silas Johnston, Adam Wise, George Faulkner, Philip C. Kenton, James Johnston, Philip Comer, Walker
Johnston, Archibald McGrew, Sr., Christian Stevens, William Kenton, Jr., James McLaughlin, Jark Kenton, Elijah
T. Davis, Ezekiel A. Smith, Sampson Talbot, Thomas Stretch, Joseph Hill, William Stretch, Daniel Jackson, Robert
Blaney, Jacob Sarver, Samuel Mitchell, Sr., Joel Fuson, Abraham Custor, William Custor, Isaac Custor, Mathew McGrew,
James Mitchell, Thomas Kenton, Thomas Daniel, Samuel Smith, Marcus Clark, Benjamin Line, Joseph Hurings.
FIRST SETTLER IN TOWNSHIP.
There seems to be no question that Joseph Hill was the first settler within the present limits of Concord township.
Hill settled in section 8 in 1802 and for many years prior to the setting off of Concord township was a constable.
He was the father of Joseph Hill, later superintendent of the Panhandle railway, with headquarters at Logansport,
Indiana. When Hill arrived on the scene in February, 1802 found on the tract he had entered a "squatter"
by the name of Isaac Anderson. Anderson had made some few improvements, but not having any title to the land, he
was forced to move. This Anderson left a reputation in Concord and Mad River townships as the laziest man in the
community and many are the stories of the effort he put forth to keep from doing anything.
His originality availed him nothing - he was defeated. Dunlap had two sons and two daughters and all of them lived to ripe old ages, but only one of the daughters ever married. William, the youngest son, evidently was a chip off the old block; he became wealthy, but later in life developed a consuming desire to light cigars with five dollar bills. It is needless to add that he spent his declining days in the county infirmary.
SOME OTHER EARLY ARRIVALS.
The Mitchell family were early settlers in the vicinity of Northville. James Mitchell, Sr., was an old man when
the family located in the township in 1806. He had three sons, John, Samuel and James, Jr., and all three of the
sons married and settled in the vicinity of Westville. In 1809 the first member of the Longfellow family arrived
in the township, Joseph Longfellow, a native of Delaware, later resident of Kentucky and still later of Concord
township, Champaign county. He was a cousin of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the poet. The trip of Longfellow and
his wife from Delaware to this county is fraught with a great deal of interest and is worthy of being perpetuated
in the history of the township.
PREVALENCE OF "MILK-SICKNESS".
Henry Bacome entered land in 1810 west of Concord chapel. In this settlement there was prevalent a peculiar disease which was commonly known as "milk-sickness," but just what the disease was, or how to treat it, the pioneer physicians were never able to determine. Bacome moved his cabin three times in order to escape the disease, but it caught him before he moved the fourth time. He believed it came from the water; others thought it came from buckeye sprouts; still others thought that it came from the dew on fleabane; as a matter of fact, the disease completely baffled the best physicians of the time and there are those yet today who maintain that the disease was largely a matter of imagination.
FATHER OF THIRTY TWO CHILDREN.
Felix Rock was one of the early settlers and located on the farm in section 9 which he sold to Daniel Kizer when he removed to Iowa in 1844. The entire Rock family died shortly after they went West. The farm which was later in the hands of the Taylor family for many years was entered by John Tippin and was sold by him to John Daniels. John Duckworth, an Englishman, came to the township from Warren county, Ohio, in 1815 and entered the northwest quarter of section 9, and, interesting to note, he paid for it by cutting wood at twenty five cents a cord. The Harbours were Carolinians who came to the county in 1805. It is probable that Jesse Harbour accumulated more children and more acres of ground than any pioneer in the county. T. S. McFarland is responsible for the statement that Harbour had thirty two children and that "he gave each child eighty acres of land, or its equivalent, when they arrived at the age of maturity." William Harbour, a brother of Jesse, arrived from Carolina in the same year. Jesse Harbour entered his first land in the northwestern corner of the township, about a mile west of Heathtown. He died in 1865.
AN EXPERIENCE WORTH RECORDING.
Longevity was one of the characteristics of the early settlers of Concord township. Feather beds are said to
be an excellent safeguard against lightning, but Thomas Tipton, one of the early settlers of Concord township,
put them to another practical use. He conceived the notion that he would live an untold number of years if he would
but sleep between two feather beds, in summer as well as winter, and he succeeded in warding off the Grim Reaper
until he was one hundred and eleven years old. It is not known whether he missed a night or two away from his feather
beds, but his experience is worth recording. Tipton sold his farm to Peter Baker. It was the southwest quarter
of section 29.
AN INTERESTING DOCUMENT.
Along the western side of the township Thomas and William Stretch located early in its history. These two brothers
served as constable in their township and the bond which they signed upon assuming the duties of their office is
an interesting document of ancient Champaign history. This unique instrument is given verbatim:
The condition of this obligation is such that if the above, Thos. Stretch and Wm. Stretch or his attorney do,
and shall in all things well and truly observe and perform and faithfully and impartially act, which on the part
of them the said Thos. Stretch, Constable for the above mentioned township and county, in the time, manner and
way the law directs dnring the time be shall remain in office; then this obligation will to be void and of no effect,
otherwise to remain in legal force.
DISPOSITION OF SCHOOL LANDS.
One of the old township records presents some interesting facts concerning the school sections. Every sixteenth section of land was set aside for school purposes and it was the duty of the township trustees to take charge of this land. In the case of Mad River township the school land was rented to various parties for a number of years. The old record shows that George Stonebarger was the first renter to lease a part of section 16, township 4, range 11 - the only school section in the township. His lease extended the legal limit of fifteen years. He was to clear a certain amount of land, keep it tinder cultivation, plant so many apple trees, sow so much timothy and clover seed and in other ways perform certain acts as specified by law.
EARLY CONFUSION IN BOUNDARIES.
As has been stated the township began its legal existence in 1811 and before that time had been attached to
Mad River. Local historians in writing of the township in former years seemed to have confused the original Concord
township with the township as it is today. It must be remembered that the township included nearly all of Johnson
and part of Adams between 1811 and 1817, and that from 1805 to 1811 it was a part of Mad River township. Many of
the officials listed by local historians as belonging to Concord township, were, it is true, residents of the present
Concord, but the territory now composing the township was a part of Mad River. For instance, the Stretch brothers,
whose bond has been given, lived in what is now Concord township, but they were officials of Mad River township
and not Concord township. The late T. S. McFarland in his historical monographs on Concord township names a group
of officers of Concord who were in office prior to 1811, and this means that they were elected for Mad River, since
Concord had no officials of its own until after 1811.
THE COMING OF THE M'FARLANDS.
Robert McFarland, the father of Thomas Sims McFarland, was a native of Rockbridge county, Virginia, and was
taken by, his parents when still a child to Tennessee and shortly afterwards to Kentucky. In 1807. Robert McFarland
came to Champaign county to make a permanent location, a prospecting trip with Martin Hitt and Joseph Diltz during
the year previous having convinced the young man that the county was a suitable place in which to settle. The impelling
reason for McFarland's leaving Kentucky was his intense hatred of slavery. In October, 1807, the McFarland family
arrived in the county and stopped for a short time in the northern part of the present Union township. They unloaded
their goods by an oak log on Tuesday and by Friday they were ready to move into their rude cabin, although the
floor was but partly laid and the roof not yet in place. Their beds were the rudest sort, built out from the wall,
the one corner being nothing more than a forked stake securely driven into the ground. In this cabin William McFarland
and his family and Joseph Gray, his father-in-law, lived from October until the following spring. They then moved
to Salem township on a tract about half way between Urbana and West Liberty. Still later the two families located
about two and one half miles southeast of Westville in Mad River township.
ATROCIOUS DEED OF REDSKINS.
On the farm on which McFarland moved in the spring of 1812 there was probably the best preserved Indian village
standing at that time in the county. About two hundred yards west and south of Concord chapel was a deserted Indian
village of fourteen huts. They were still in a good state of preservation and had been deserted within the previous
decade. Many stories are told of the Indians who roamed theĽ woods in the early days of Concord township. As far
an known the only persons killed by the Indians within the township were Arthur Thomas and his son. They were killed
in August, 1813, by the Indians and the blood thirsty savages after shooting them, scalped them, hung them by their
heels, and capped their cruelty by disemboweling and tying their intestines around their necks. The bodies were
found the next day and taken to Urbana where they were buried in the old graveyard.
RACE SUICIDE WAS DISCOURAGED.
The families of most of the old settlers of Champaign county were fully in accordance with the views of a former President of the United States regarding race suicide. Concord township, according to McFarland, boasted "at one time of six families in which there was one hundred and forty seven children and no miscount." This would make an average of twenty four and one half children to the family, which, necessarily, indicates that at least one family had more than twenty four. Reference has been made to Jesse Harbour who became the father of thirty two children, but data is not available to show who the other five advocates of anti race suicide may have been. The father of T. S. McFarland had a family of nineteen children and thirteen of these were living in 1881, their average ages at that time being fifty six years.
THE FOLEY-WILKINSON FRACAS.
In the history of a township which has been in existence for more than one hundred years, as has been Concord
township, there may be found a vast number of incidents of infinite variety, some of which have a certain historical
value, but most have only such interest as attaches to rambling reminiscences. Thus it is with Concord township.
An example of one of these incidents which has been repeated over and over for a hundred years is the story of
the Foley-Wilkinson fracas.
CONCORD TOWNSHIP IN 1879.
In the Citizen and Gazette of January 2, 1879, there is an interesting sketch of Concord township under the pen of "Specs., Jr." (T. S. McFarland). Among other items which appear in his article of nearly a column in length the following miscellaneous points are noted (the reader must remember that this article was written in 1879, nearly forty years ago):
"The last census (1870) showed a population of 1,035, but as a decade of years have almost passed since then we think our population now will reach 500 more. We have scarcely what we might call a town, but there are several localities that exist only in name that were intended originally for towns, but all were spoiled in the making. Northville has only three families, who are ordinarily peaceful and quiet citizens. It also has three public buildings, two of which have outlived their days of usefulness and are no longer fitted for the purpose for which they were designed originally. Heathtown has three families, but its day of usefulness as a town has passed away, there being no longer any public business houses in the place. The old shoe shop alone remains to tell of its used up glory. In the days of Know nothingism it was the headquarters of 'Muddy Run Council No. 317, with one hundred fifty members, embracing at that time almost all the voters of the township. Pekin is the most lively place of the township, having four families, a good country store and a blacksmith shop. Gourdville is virtually out in the cold, yet it contains as usual two houses with some of its inhabitants known far and wide for their public virtues. Then we have Stringtown and Fleatown but from neither of these come any items from Concord. We have one family in our midst in this township who adhere strictly to the old style of cooking in the absence of a cookstove. Politically, we are decidedly Democratic and not much prospect of any change in that direction. The older class of people with two exceptions have passed away."
FIRST SCHOOL HOUSE IN COUNTY.
The Concord school house, which was one of the first to be built in the county, has a history that is quite worthy of record. The building was erected by James Taylor. This ancient structure was a hewed log house, the first of the kind in the township, the material being taken from the south end of the farm adjacent to the school ground. The first teacher in the new house was William Mouser, who had commenced the term in the old house a quarter of a mile south and would have finished the term, but from the fact that two boys, aged respectively twelve and thirteen, threw down the old mud and stick chimney during school hours while the teacher's back was turned, thereby causing a panic. The pupils ran out of the house and the children were never compelled to return to this building. School was at once adjourned to meet in the new house two weeks later. Mouser completed his term in the new house. Then came William Vanansdel, followed by Charles Dagger, John E. Waller, R. W. McFarland, Moses B. Hebard, Lewis M. Steward, Austin Heath, D. H. Neer, James Putman, James Taylor, B. L. Haller, William Remsburg, John Russell, Sarah V. Russell, William F. Gardner and Jesse Neer. Of these teachers mentioned six of them became ministers of the Methodist church, two lawyers, one a state senator, and two of them became prominent as teachers. Jennie Russell, the only woman who taught in the house, was a native of Virginia, coming to Ohio in 1838 at the age of eight years. She was noted not only for her beauty but for her intelligence. She became the wife of Dr. T. W. Goddard, a well known physician of Urbana.
NOTED CITIZENS OF CONCORD TOWNSHIP.
An account has been given of various kinds of citizens, some of whom did not bring any special honor to the
township. But Concord has produced a number of men who have become known outside the limits of their township and
county. A few of these are mentioned in the succeeding paragraphs.
THE RECORD OF RICHARD STANHOPE.
One of the most interesting characters in the county, or in the state, lived for several generations in Concord
township. Few men in the United States have lived longer than Richard Stanhope. Stanhope, a colored servant of
George Washington, was born at Fredericksburg, Virginia, March 1, 1748, and died in Concord township on September
20, 1862, aged one hundred and fourteen years, six months and twenty days. There is no question concerning his
age; neither is there any doubt that he was one of Washington's servants. He had in his possession a certificate
in Washington's handwriting to show that he was in the general's service. He was at the bedside of his master when
he died in 1799. During the Revolutionary War Stanhope was with Washington in many of the battles and to his dying
day showed the scars he had received on the battlefield. He was also in the War of 1812 as a teamster, being present
at Detroit when General Hull surrendered. The British ordered him to drive his team to a certain place, but the
loyal darkey, watching his opportunity, unhitched the best horse of his team and rode night and day until he was
safely back at his old home in Concord township. He served his country well and faithfully in every respect. He
reared a family of twenty eight children and nearly all of them were living at the time of his death.
MADE REPUTATION AS A MATHEMATICIAN.
The most noted educator to come from the township was R. W. McFarland. He was born on the old McFarland homestead in 1825; showed unusual precocity from his earliest school days; was teaching in the subscription schools of the county at the age of fourteen and for the next eight years divided his attention between teaching and attending college. He was in school at Augusta, Kentucky, for one year; spent a few months at Westerville, Franklin county, Ohio; and was graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1847 at the age of twenty two. At the age of eight he was capable of solving any problem to be found in any of the arithmetics then in use, and it was in the field of mathematics that he made his reputation later in life. For seventeen years he was professor of mathematics in Miami University, at Oxford, Ohio, and after the suspension of that institution he became professor of mathematics at Ohio State University at Columbus.
TWO EMINENT MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL.
Mention has been made of a successful politician and public official, of a worthy colored man, and of an educator. The township has produced at least one minister of the gospel who has attained more than a local reputation. Rev. Samuel Neer, a native of the township, was a Methodist minister who had some of the best charges in the Cincinnati conference. He continued in the pulpit until his death in 1857. A brother, Rev. Jesse Neer, was a member of the Central Ohio Conference and was a successful minister until his death in Logan county in 1854. These two eminent ministers of the township are buried side by side in the old Concord cemetery.
ACHIEVED PROMINENCE IN RAILROAD SERVICE.
A citizen of Concord township who attained distinction in a totally different line than any of those previously
mentioned was Joseph Hill, whose father is credited with being one of the first settlers in the county. Colonel
Hill - whether this military title is earned or assumed or applied by friends the historian does not attempt to
state - became interested in railroad affairs and eventually became a prominent factor in the old. Pan Handle railroad.
Starting out as a civil engineer, he displayed such organizing talent, such pronounced ability in handling men
as well as tracks and bridges, that he eventually became superintendent of the Chicago division of the Pennsylvania
Lines, with headquarters at Logansport, Indiana.
CHURCHES AND CEMETERIES.
The religious life of the township is treated in full in the chapter dealing with the churches of the county. From the earliest history of the township there have been active churches, but many that were once active have long since disappeared; others are holding only occasional services; while a few churches in the township may still be seen along the rural roads - unused except for an occasional funeral. The story is not altogether a pleasant one, but it is the same with all the other townships of the county, and the county but repeats the history in this respect of every other county in the state. The township seems to have an unusual number of cemeteries, the records showing no less than ten scattered over the township.
Concord township has never had an incorporated village within its limits. The nearest approach to a village the township has ever had is Northville. This embryonic hamlet was laid out by John Arrowsmith, the surveyor of the county, in the fall of 1832 for James D. Stevens and Jacob Davis and the plat was recorded on October 18, 1832. For some reason it never attracted many permanent residents. In 1872 it was credited with three dwelling houses, a store, a Methodist church, school house and a blacksmith shop. The store had disappeared by 1880 and a Grange hall, which' had been built in the seventies, was deserted by the end of that decade. The historian of 1880 pathetically remarked that "Mr. William Downs, a prominent citizen, and Mr. Howard Smith, the village blacksmith, are the sole occupants of the town at this writing." While it had so few residents within its precincts at the time, it had a number of excellent citizens in the immediate vicinity, among whom were Wallace Downs, Thomas Stevens, George Kennedy, S. J. McCollough, Daniel Bruner, N. D. McReynolds and a number of others. At the present time there is no sign of a village; even the faithful old church has closed its doors forever.
Heathtown was a flourishing little trading center before the Civil War and at one time was the seat of a postoffice
bearing the name of Muddy Creek. The village stood on the line between sections 23 and 29 in the northern part
of the township, less than half a mile from Muddy creek. Its name and its very existence are due to the efforts
of one John Heath, a native of New Jersey, who came to the township about 1838 and established himself at this
place. He opened a shoe shop at first and later branched out as a grocer and still later added a full assortment
of such goods as were found in country stores at that time. Within a short time he convinced the postoffice department
that the government ought to establish a postoffice in his store and for a number of years a postoffice was maintained
at this place. John Detrick opened up a blacksmith shop and J. R. McFarland added a shoe shop to the growing industrial
life of the village. Heath eventually left the child of his dreams to wither by the crossroads and it pined away
after he left for Iowa in 1854. Its death was lingering, but painless.
CRAYON OR PEKIN.
A third village of the township is credited with two names, but it seems that it prefers its chirographic title
of Crayon to its Chinese designation of Pekin. It stands just one mile due west of ancient Heathtown, in the center
of section 35, the northwestern section of the township. It never boasted of more than one store at a time, and
this one changed hands with such frequency that it seems not to have been a good investment. A postoffice was established
at this point in 1879 under the name of Crayon and was maintained for several years. James W. Heath was the first
postmaster. A blacksmith shop was operated by Ira Poffenbarger for several years.
Two other villages which never got beyond the paper stage made their appearance before the war. Orsamus Scott
had a metropolitan dream and attempted to realize on it. He went so far as to plat a number of lots in section
20, but the only reason why his town is perpetuated is because the plat is safely recorded in the court house at
Urbana. He never succeeded in getting it any farther than the pen and ink stage.
Within the past few years another village has come into existence in the township, the largest the township has ever had, and it bids fair to continue a busy little trading center for many years to come. It is located a half mile west of Concord chapel on the line between sections 14 and 20 and is known as Eris. The village has never been platted, but is as flourishing a trading center as some that have this distinction. Noah Fisher has a general store at the present time, while C. R. Pence has a grocery store. The village is on a rural route out of Urbana.